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ant children around him, and promote their religious instruction; he will gladly support the Christian ministry, knowing its important use in the conversion of sinners. Nor will the bodies of men be neglected :—He will pity and visit the sick; he will feed the hungry; he will clothe the naked : and in order to do this, he will rather deny himself even lawful indulgencies, than be disabled from acts of generosity. The word of God abounds with exhortations to this disposition; and, if there be not a desire and endeavour thus to be useful, we may say with St. John, “How dwelleth the love of God in him?"
The narrow limits of this discourse prevent the mention of several other branches of this holy temper, as well as a proper enlargement on those already mentioned. We have room only to propose one more, which is the beauty and strength of them all; namely,
7. SINCERITY.—This is the very soul of all; religion; for every Christian grace has its counterfeit. There are men who assume a profession of religion, on purpose the better to deceive others; and pretend to be devout towards God, that they may more effectually! cheat and defraud their neighbours. From this vile hypocrisy, good Lord deliver us! If there be a place in Hell hotter than another, it will be the portion of the hypocrite; for how shall such “ escape the damnation of hell!" Great is the importance of truth and uprightness. The Christian must needs be an honest man, exact and conscientious in all his affairs, conforming himself, in all his dealings, to that golden, that divine rule, “Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even that to them.” The Christian will study “simplicity and godly sincerity," speaking the truth in love, and managing all the affairs of life as under the eye of God, and with a regard to his glory. Happy the man of whom the Lord will testify as of Nathaniel, “ Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile!
We may learn from what has been said of the Christian temper, how excellent is the religion, and how holy the gospel of Jesus Christ! how admirably calculated to promote godliness, and brotherly kindness, and charity! What a happy world would this be, if men who profess and call themselves Christians possessed the mind that was in Christ! We may learn also the necessity of something more than morality.
Men may be honest and harmless; but this is not enough. We see many who are deemed moral characters, who are ungodly, unbelievers, neglecters of Christ, despisers of the Gospel. Let them not suppose that their regard to men will atone for their contempt of God. Let them know, that “without holiness no inan shall see the Lord.”
How vain also is that profession of the truths of the gospel, which leaves a man destitute of the Christain temper, a slave of his wretched passions, and under the dominion of covetousness, pride, anger, selfishness, and worldly-mindedness !—for some there are, not only negligent of holy tempers, but who despise that preaching which enforces them, calling it legal and low. But it is evident that our Lord insisted much upon inward purity, and pronounced his first blessings upen heavenly dispositions. The apostles abound in similar exhortations throughout their epistles; nor is he a Christian who does not hunger and thirst after the attainment of them,—all believers being “predestinated to be conformed to the image of God's dear Son."
On the survey of this brief sketch of the “mind that was in Christ, who has not cause to blush and sigh, and say, Holy Jesus, how far am I from possessing thy likeness! One of the ancients on a like occasion cried, “Blessed Lord, either these are not thy precepts, or we are not Christians!” But let me ask, Is this the temper you sincerely and earnestly desire? Do you mourn over your daily defects? Do you see an excellency and a beauty in holiness, and do you ardently long to resemble your Saviour ? If so, be not dejected. This desire is from the Lord, and is a token for good. Let no believer sit down in sullen despair, and say when he contemplates the character of Jesus, It is too high and great: I can never master my corruptions, and attain his dispositions! Why not? All things are possible to God : all things are possible to him that believeth. Does not all fulness dwell in Christ? and is it not treasured up for thy use? Go to him for it, make free—it is thine for asking. “Ask and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” Come boldly to the throne of grace to find grace; there is grace sufficient for thee. Open thy mouth wide, and it shall be filled. And though conscious, like the apostle Paul, that you have not already attained, neither are you already perfect,—yet like him, follow after, reach forth unto those things which are before; press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Look much at Christ; it will make you like him; you shall be “ transformed into the same image, from glory to glory;" and ere long, you “shall see him as he is," and " be satisfied when you awake with his likeness.”
Titus 11. 11, 12
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation, hath
appeared to all men; teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.
T'HE disease of our nature, our dislike of that which
I is good, and our love of that which is evil, has been observed and lamented by wise men in all ages. The fact could not be denied. The difficulty was, where to find a cure. Many attempts were tried, but all in vain, till Jesus Christ the great Physician appeared. The Gospel alone affords a certain and universal remedy for the fatal distemper of the soul; and this is the substance of our text.
St. Paul is here directing Titus, who was a minister of the Gospel, how to discharge his duty, so as to be useful to all sorts of people, because the Gospel was sent to all sorts of people. He was to teach and exhort both young and old, parents and children, masters and servants; it being the design of the Gospel to bring a present salvation from sin, as well as a future deliverance from Hell, and to teach all sorts of men to deny all doctrines and practices which are ungodly, and all worldly lusts of sensuality; and that we should live soberly with respect to ourselves, righteously and honestly with respect to our neighbours, and in a holy
manner with respect to God. This will appear more plainly by considering the several parts of the text distinctly, and in the following order:
I. The Gospel of Christ is the grace or gift of God.
I. The Gospel is the grace of God. The word Grace. signifies, in general, the free favour of God, either in his good-will towards us, or in his good gifts to us. Here it means one of his good gifts to us; namely, the Gospel; and the Gospel may well be called his grace; for it is the gift of his grace; it is the revelation of his grace, and it is the instrument of his grace.
The Gospel is called the Grace of God, because it is the gift of his grace; it is a matter of pure favour that we have the Gospel; it ought to be thought a very great blessing indeed, and to be esteemed above all earthly blessings. It is a mercy to have health, it is a mercy to have bread; but it is a much greater mercy to have the Gospel! “Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound !"
The Gospel is called the Grace of God, because it is the revelation of his grace and good-will to poor sinners. We could never have known whether God would be gracious to sinners or not, without the Gospel; we could never have known that salvation is by grace; all mankind naturally seek it by their own works, and not by grace. But the very design of the Gospel is to declare the grace of God; to let us know the love of God to man, which he has proved in the gift of his Son, and in his readiness to pardon sin for the sake of his Son. Sinners had more reason to expect a revelation of his wrath than of his mercy : for all have sinned ; and “ the wages of sin is death.” As soon as our first parents had sinned, and heard the voice of the Lord God in the garden, they were afraid, and ran to hide