A Christian Indeed
AT this time there are many thousands of nominal Christians who are members of Protestant churches, and who love to be known and recognized as professors of the religion of Jesus Christ; but "not every one that saith Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom." When we take a cursory view of the great mass of professors, how few comparatively are the real followers of Christ.
Jesus Christ was meek and lowly, gentle and kind: he sought not to please the world, but rather to do the will of his heavenly Father. Now, if "any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his." If we inquire for men and women who really follow Christ, exhibiting in all they say and do, the spirit of the humble, unassuming Nazarene, where shall we find them? They are not to be found in the gay and fashionable circles of society. True, there are many who profess to be his followers mingled in this ungodly group; but Jesus will not dwell in the heart of that person who conforms to this world.
It is true that some who would be Christians, mingle in the society of the ungodly, and partake, to a very considerable extent, of the same spirit. This they do, they say, in order to keep on good terms with them. But, oh! careless and thoughtless soul, do you not know that, in trying to accommodate their feelings, you displease your best friend? A true Christian seeks first to please God, and if, in pleasing him, he can please others also, he has no objections. A Christian indeed is humble, unassuming, and separate from sinners. David gives a very clear and beautiful illustration of a Christian character: "He walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful, but his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night." There are but few such Christians. If we take away the fashionable, the covetous, the worldly-minded, the cold and formal professors of religion - in a word, if we take away all but such as follow Christ in all his precepts and examples, we may get down at the feet of Jesus, and, in the words of one of his disciples, ask, "Lord, are there few that be saved?"
It is painful to see the indifference manifested by professors of religion. In my own heart I often feel alarmed at my want of holiness and spirituality. O that I could lose myself wholly in Jesus Christ, be lost and swallowed up in his will, and glory in nothing save the cross of Christ! There is a beauty in the hidden life - "hid with Christ in God." When storms of adversity arise, the true Christian feels himself secure, for he is hid in the clefts of the Rock of Ages. O! my soul, hasten to thy hiding place; for there, and there only, art thou secure.
The Christian indeed labors with all his heart and soul to advance the cause of Christ; and his time, talents, influence, and possessions are all dedicated to the service of God: he liveth not to himself, nor for any selfish purpose, but to do the will of his heavenly Father. At home he is a Christian; in the house of God and in the public throng, he evinces that he is an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. The house of God is as the gate of heaven to his soul: he trembles at the voice of God, and dreads the consequences of offending him. In the path of virtue and piety he is ever to be found. Merciful God, am I such an one as thou delightest in? Cleanse thou me from secret faults; save me from presumptuous sins; be to my soul as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.
The Christian indeed looks not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen, assured that God has "provided some better things for him:" and when he nears the Jordan of death, and feels the cold waters dashing against his feet, he is calm - he dreads not to die; and when the breath trembles upon his cold lips, and it is softly whispered in his chamber, that he is dying, he is happy; although loved friends weep around his couch, he is joyful; and, with a sainted smile, he takes his leave of friends on earth. Good bye, faithful Christian! we will gather thy bones and carry them to some silent resting-place; thou has well done. After struggling through this barren land, 'mid scenes of confusion, and under the hot sun of tribulation, thou hast finished thy course at last. Good bye! Though we are loath to be separated from thee, yet thou hast fought valiantly for the crown, and it is yours. Once more we say - good bye! but not forever! No. thank God, we shall see thee again; not as we have seen thee, in sorrow and conflict, but when the wail of expiring time is heard, and the nations are summoned to the judgment of the great day. Then we will see thee happy, inexpressibly happy. Close beside thine elder brother we expect to see thee, crowned as a king and priest forever. Blessed Jesus, and shall thy hand ever place a crown upon this unworthy head of mine? and wilt thou accept of me in thy presence forever? If thou dost not prepare me by thy grace, I shall never dwell with thee. Be near to me; oh, be my light, my wisdom, my counsellor, and my all.