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Ralph Wardlaw.

Discourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy online

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that are on the earth" your chief friends ? And do you
love them, and delight in doing them good, for the sake of
their blessed Master ? even of Him who will say, at last,
respecting all the labours of love, performed for his sake
to those whom, with affectionate condescension, he hon-
ours with the name of brethren^ " Verily I say unto you,
inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these
my brethren, ye have done it unto me.f

Examine your profession of Christianity by this, and by
the other practical tests that have been laid before you. —
There may be, and very often is, a great deal of external
virtue where there is no genuine inward principle ; the
shadow, without the substance ; the inanimate body, with-
out the breath, and the living soul. But on the other
hand, where there is not the outward practice of virtue,
and (to use a term less familiar in the world, but which
means virtue sanctified by piety, — without which, indeed,
virtue is a mere name) — where there is not the external
performance of the duties of holiness; all profession is
worse than vain : it is a provoking insult, and an impious
mockery, of that Divine Master whose name is so falsely
or so thoughtlessly assumed.

It is true, that the Christian is deeply conscious to him-
self of much failure, and of universal deficiency. Yet the
grand features of resemblance are marked and visible : he
is sincerely and earnestly desirous of increasing conforra-

* .Tohn xiii. 34, 35. 1 John iii. ±4«— 1.9. f Matth. xxv. 40.

19



386 ON THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTEU.

ity : he studies the perfect example with growing delight :
and " beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, he
is changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by
the spirit of the Lord."*

IV. The Christian is an Expectant of Christ ; one
WHO LOOKS FOR HIS SECOND APPEARANCE. He is distin-
guished by liis hopes y as well as by his principles, and by
his character.

The hope of the Christian divides itself into three parts :
liis hope during life, his hope at death, and his hope at the
second coming of Christ. To this last period Christian
liope is most frequently represented as looking forward, —
because the expectation of tiiat event is naturally consid-
ered as including all that shall intervene before it. The
saints of God, under the ancient dispensation, were dis-
tinguished by their hope of the coming of the promised
Messiah in the fulness of time. XwA as the hope of his
first coming characterized his people then, so does the
hope of his second coming characterize them now.

That he ivill come, to raise the dead, and to judge the
world, to bless his faithful people with complete salvation,
and to execute on his enemies the vengeance due to their
impenitent rebellion, the Scriptures do most plainly and
alumdantly testify. " Let not your heart be troubled ; ye
believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house
are many mansions ; if it were not so : 1 would have told
you : I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go away
and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and re-
ceive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be
also :*' — " And when he had spoken these things, as they
beheld, lie was taken up ; and a cloud received him out
of their sight. And vviiile they looked steadfastly toward
heaven as he went up, behold two men stood by them, in
wliite apparel ; who also said. Ye men of Galilee, why
• 2 Cor. ill. 18.



OK THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. 387

stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who
is taken up fiom you into heaven, shall so come, in like
manner as ye have seen him go into heaven :" — " The
Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with
the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God :
and the dead in Christ shall first rise ; — then we, who are
alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them
in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air : and so shall we
ever be with the Lord."*

And while the certainty of the event is thus clearly af-
firmed, it is no less evident, that the hope of the event,
and the influence of that hope, are distinctive marks of a
Christian ; — of one who is such, not in name only, but in
heart. " As it is appointed unto men once to die, and
after this the judgment ; so Christ was once offered, to
bear the sins of many ; and to them that look for him shall
he appear the second time, without a sin-offering, unto
salvation :" — " Ye turned to God from idols, to serve the
living and true God ; and to wait for his Son from heaven,
whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, who delivered
us from the wi-ath to come :" — " Looking for that blessed
hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and
Saviour Jesus Christ :" — " I am now ready to be offered,
and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a
good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the
faith : henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righ-
teousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give
to me at that day ; and not to me only, but to all them also
that love his appearing.^

The temper of mind which these various expressions
describe is exemplified in a very impressive and edifying
manner, in the conclusion of the Bible : — " He who testi-
fieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen.

* John xiv. 1—3. Acts i. 9— -11. 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17.
t Heb. ix. 37, 28. 1 Thess. i. 9, 10. Titus ii. 13. 3 Tim. iv. 6—8.



38& ON THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER.

Even so come Lord Jesus /'"* The spirit breathed in this
holy aspiration, is to be found, although in very unequal
degrees, in every faithful follower of the Redeemer. There
is included in it, in the first place, a firm belief that he
will come : — that, as certainly as the word of God was
verified by his coming the first time, it shall also be veri-
fied by his second appearance. And this confidence, rest-
ing on the faithful declaration of the God of truth, and
maintained by all the accumulated evidence which proves
the Bible to be his word — stands unshaken by the profane
taunts of the ungodly scoflTer, who says still, as he said in
the days of old,



Online LibraryRalph WardlawDiscourses on the principal points of the Socinian controversy → online text (page 32 of 36)