WE hope, dear brethren, that you have never, by your conduct, armed our adversaries with plausible objections against the distinguishing and glorious doctrines of salvation by free grace alone. If you have, remember the reproach belongs to you, and not to the "words of truth and soberness." Brethren, suffer the word of exhortation. "Let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another." Remember that "to be carnally-minded is death, but to be spiritually-minded is life and peace." Examine yourselves, therefore, whether ye be in the faith, and give diligence to make your calling and election sure. "Add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity; for if these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ye followers of the Lamb, we are deeply interested in your spiritual welfare; "our mouth is opened unto you, our heart is enlarged." We profess to know that we are of God by his Spirit which he hath given us. If the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, then He is the spirit of adoption by which we cry Abba Father; and with childlike simplicity and godly sincerity, we desire to do the will of our Father who is in heaven. Because we are sons, he hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts; and having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Christ Jesus to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, we should follow after peace with all men, and holiness, the only satisfying evidence of our adoption into the family of God.
If we have the witness in ourselves, He is the Spirit of grace and of supplications. We acknowledge that salvation is all of grace - that if we differ from others, or from our former selves, it is God who hath made us to differ. If we have a hope full of immortality and everlasting life, it is only a good hope through grace; and we may know that the Spirit of grace dwelleth in us, by his being a Spirit of prayer. He hath taught us our need. He hath led us to Christ, the fountain of supplies, in whom it hath pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell. He helpeth our infirmities, for we know not what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And while this Spirit of grace and of supplications leads us to cry mightily unto God to work in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure, may we constantly bear upon our hearts to the throne of grace the sad condition of our perishing fellow-creatures, "until the Spirit shall be poured upon them from on high, and the wilder ness be a fruitful field."
[From Joseph Belcher, editor, The Baptist Pulpit of the United States: Eloquent and Instructive Passages ..., 1853, pp. 275-276. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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