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theme of contemplation than the love of God. And if mėn would but realise this glorious truth, in all its simple though stupendous fulness,“ God is Love "--if they would but believe that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should taste the great salvation; that the very hairs of their head are all numbered, and that not a sparrow falleth to the ground without His knowledge-if they would but believe that like as a Father pitieth His children, so does God pity those who call upon Him-if they would, in short, look to Him as their Father, not their Judge, and come to Him like children, not like slaves, the fatted calf would be killed to celebrate the return of more prodigals than now turn back from sin, and there would be more frequent songs and more constant joy among the angels of God over repenting sinners coming to the
This habit of familiarizing our minds with the love of God and the condescension of the great Redeemer would be the most effectual mode of conquering the pride which would make us ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, and would show to us, in all its crying deformity, the black ingratitude of such contempt. When we think of our fallen, ruined state by sin, and of the just doom we had thereby incurred, and then of that God who might justly have burned the world and all upon it, in unquenchable fire, looking with pity upon His erring and rebellious creatures, and casting about, as it were, in the deep and tender recesses of His mind and heart, for some grand scheme to snatch them from the frowning doom they were drawing on themselves, and at length sending down His only Son, in whom He was well pleased, to shed His blood to cleanse away their guilt—when we think of Jesus bearing on His heart our load of sin, weeping tears of blood at our cold and senseless apathy, and pleading for us ever, though our sins cry out for vengeance-can we then be ashamed of the Gospel of Christ? It is surely impossible. Yet many are ashamed of it. Is this because they never think of these things ? Has conscience never told them they are sinners ? Have they never felt they need a Saviour, and must have one, or perish for ever? O, my fellow-sinner, you have no Saviour if you will not give up your pride; but you have one who will be your Saviour, if you will surrender your self-sufficiency, and
come to Him. You are surely not ashamed to do this! Where is your gratitude ? He was not ashamed to endure contempt and death for you, and yet you are ashamed to take eternal life from Him! Why, if all men were like you, we should have a God crucified in vain; a crown purchased, but no wearer to place it on his brow. But you stand out (thank God!) from the millions who have taken the crown, and are wearing it now.
Who has most reason to be ashamed, you who grovel about in the ragged filthy garment of your own pride and lust, or those who wear the spotless robe made white in the blood of the Lamb ? But still you may come. He calls you still—though you have spurned His mercy, He offers it again. Think of the spectacle you present to angels and to men; a ruined, dying sinner, gazing coldly at a dying Saviour, and listening without a tender emotion to His last prayer,
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." A stupid ingrate, jauntily sneering at a Saviour's tears, and spurning a Redeemer's love, coquetting with death, while Christ stretches out His arms and cries, “ye will not come to me that ye might have life !” and with Calvary before you, yet too proud to come; with the spear, and nails, and thorns full in view, and yet too cold to feel; and not content with simply turning from the great salvation to tread your dismal road of death, you must needs trample underfoot the blood of the atonement, and carry that which might have made you white as snow, to inark your footsteps on the path of hell; and last of all striking down the cross, on which you might have left your sins and sorrows, and bridging over the black gulf of ruin and perdition, with that blood-stained finger-post that points to glory, honour, and immortality, and eternal life. If wisdom does not cry, if understanding does not lift up her voice loud enough to move your reason, surely outraged pity, weeping sympathy, and dying love speak earnestly enough to touch your hearts. O, let it not be said in answer to the question, “
die?” “I die because I am too proud to live." There is no beast so fierce and tameless but it will fawn upon che hand which tends it, and yet a man who professes to have sense to know, and a heart to feel, is ashamed of that (and spurns it) which would feed his dying soul with life eternal.
• Why will
In order, then, to enforce upon ourselves and one another the duty we are under to overcome this aversion to the Gospel, we must ascertain the spring from whence it flows, and the influences by which it is fed. It springs then, as we have already incidentally remarked, from our innate pride. Pride is a principle which invariably centres in self, and therefore, so long as it is indulged, it is impossible that such a system can be embraced which demands the entire surrender of ourselves, and the total relinquishment of all pretension to merit or desert. The religions which men in heathen or idolatrous lands have devised for themselves have always been such as required no real self-abasement, but were invested with a pomp and ostentation rather flattering than wounding to the vanity of the heart. Even that frightful rite of that religion which impels a husband to immolate himself upon his wife's funeral
re, has something in it which humours the love of applause and the thirst for praise. There is a pageantry and circumstance connected with the hideous suicide that gives an ugly dignity to the strange transaction, and even the victim feels that there is a kind of martyr-glory in being surrounded by gazing dupes, and gabbling priests, while his charred bones split in the roaring flames. But not even this questionable distinction is secured by embracing the Gospel of Christ. False religions may be embraced through pride, this Gospel cannot be embraced till pride is mortified. Once be convinced, then, that the Gospel of Christ is the only way of salvation, the first step to its espousal must be the relinquishment of pride. Now, in this place it is not likely that there is one who would not admit in the abstract, that no man can be saved but by receiving this Gospel ; and yet there are doubtless not a few who have not embraced it, but who yet hope for salvation. They are not ashamed, in short, to look for the blessings which the Gospel secures, and yet they are ashamed to take the Gospel that secures them. We often hear men say they do not think that God, who is so full of pity and of love for sinners, will be severe to punish them, though they do still live in sin. Now, we have no wish to present God in a stern or forbidding aspect to any man; but we must say this, that He will not receive into His kingdom-where nothing that defileth comes; He will not receive as a child of His owp, that man who has all his life been a servant of Satan, and a citizen of hell. Be not deceived; though God is slow to anger and of great mercy, He is not inocked. He will not have His Spirit grieved, and His mercy spurned, and yet not punish; and more than this, His love for His own family is such, that He will not have its harmony destroyed by the admission of those who were ashamed of it in its days of lowliness and trial. Those who all through life have cried, we will not have this man to reign over us,” will be taken at their word, and banished from the kingdom they have despised, to the region and the service they chose for themselves. Let us beware how we profess to hope in God's mercy, while we refuse to accept it, lest when He has given us over to our idols, and we have filled up the measure of our sins, we find in the great trying hour, that He who would have saved us, only laughs at our calamity, and mocks when our fear cometh.
And it is not an uncommon thing to hear men say they dare not come to Christ; they have been such great sinners, that they are sure He will not receive them, or have compassion upon them. Now, contradictory as it may seem, much of this language of self-reproach springs from pride. Those who thus speak of themselves, would feel insulted if any one else were to attach such language to them, or apply the same names to them, by which they call themselves. And generally, the fact is, they do not mean what they say, and only parade, in melancholy phrase, the sins whose vileness they do not feel, to avoid the deeper and more genuine self-abasement required in seeking pardon at the cross. Yes, pride is the great barrier between man and Christ. If we could but follow Jesus amidst the praise of men; if we could but trip jauntily along in His footsteps, unharrassed by a thorny road, and carrying all our own inclinations with us, we should crowd after Him and besiege the very doors of His kingdom, But when it comes to taking up the cross, when we have to come in all our nakedness and sin, confessing that we are feeble, and helpless, and undone, then Pride comes in and shudders at the vulgar spectacle, and we turn away into the byepaths, and winding ways, which, as surely as they turn us back from Christ, will lead, if we follow them out, to the blackness of darkness for ever. Now, until this barrier be removed, we shall
never even see, much less come to Christ. Nothing but the mighty power of God's Holy Spirit can strike it down. This power may be obtained by earnest prayer. Let those, then, who have reason to hope that their pride has, in some degree, yielded to its force, be often at the mercy-seat, praying that it may be increasingly sustained and strengthened, that still brighter glimpses may be caught of the riches of the glory and the fulness of the love of Christ. And let those whose stubborn hearts have never melted at a feeling of ingratitude—who have been resorting to false excuses to conceal their pride from men, and so to gild it over with a mock humility as almost to hide it from themselves,
listen to that warning voice you have been stifling all this time; that voice which so often makes your heart misgive you, and shows to you your true self so faithfully; listen to it, nor try to drown its accents in the clamour of self-deception, but believe it when it tells you that, however great you may think yourself, with whatever dignity your vanity may have clothed you in your own esteem, you must come a broken-hearted suppliant to the cross-you must come vile and leprous to the fountain set open for uncleanness, and amongst the other filthy elements, from which you there must purge yourself, must be the very dignity you thought belonged to you, and the pride which niade you deem yourself illustrious.
There is a modern school of mystics, in which now-a-days numbers, especially of young men, are graduating, caught by its highsounding technicalities—which would place reason on the throne of Revelation—which would desecrate Jehovah's vessel with the turbid nostrums of an unmeaning lore, and would send a false and dwarfish philosophy, to minister with unhallowed hands at the mysterious and colossal shrines of the sanctuary of faith. To this school belong that class of men, who make a great parade of thinking for themselves; young men who see something chivalrous and daring in going against what good men think sacred and divine, in out-stripping the slow and orthodox generations of past times, and asserting the dignity of the human mind, by laughing at the Gospel and trampling on the cross. On such men as these rests much of the responsibility of that backward ness and timidity in embracing and proclaiming truth which is