A PUBLIC PROFESSION OF CHRIST
for a man cannot be in love with the world and with Christ too. It is an oath of allegiance to Christ. It is a public vouching that he is your God and Saviour. But once more, it is to profess to be representatives of Christ. By the very act of making a public profession of religion you profess that you have received the Spirit of Christ, and therefore, that you intend to exhibit it to the world. By professing religion you virtually say to the world, we will give you an illustration in our lives, temper, spirit, and actions, of what Christianity is. Nothing less than this is implied in making a public profession of the Christian religion. There are many other things that I might mention, which are implied in a public profession, but I have not time. We shall therefore proceed to notice- II. Some of the reasons why persons should make such profession. First: surely it is no more than simple honesty. The fact is, not to do so is to be guilty of the utmost wrong to God and Christ, to your own soul and to the world at large. The facts of the gospel being admitted - and they cannot with any show of reason be denied- to acknowledge them is but a simple act of honesty. Men are not their own, they are bought with a price, and therefore it is but honest that they should publicly acknowledge this. In short, everyone can see that the facts about Christ, his nature, his relations, his atonement, makes it a simple matter of honesty, that every man to whom the gospel is preached, should at once acknowledge that these things are so, and avow his confidence in them, his sympathy with them, his dependence on them, and his submission to them. It is easy to see that this is a mere act of simple honesty, and that no individual has a right to call himself an honest man who does not openly, publicly acknowledge these facts that are as true as heaven itself is true! But again: a public profession of Christianity is essential to self-respect. No person who understands the Christian religion, and does not publicly profess it, can respect himself -he has not, and cannot have any solid self-respect; he is, and must be ashamed of himself. Indeed, a gentleman of this city told me this fact of himself only to-day; that before he became a professor of religion, the minister, whose preaching he attended, used to deliver an annual sermon, in which he brought out the facts in relation to attendance at the communion table of the members of his congregation; so many had celebrated the ordinance once, so many twice, or so and so many times, and a great many not at all. When these facts were brought out, said the gentlemen, I said, why, our minister takes notice of those persons who absent themselves from the communion table, and I became so ashamed of myself, as frequently to stay away altogether. I felt thoroughly ashamed of myself, that I could go to a Christian church, hear the word of God, mingle with the congregation, and with God's people, and yet after all never publicly avow my attachment to Christ, never avow my belief in the table, and in the gospel. Now from the nature of the case, a moral agent does not, and cannot sincerely respect himself if he knows himself to be dishonest; that he sustains such infinitely important relations to God, and yet refuses to acknowledge them; such a man, I say, cannot respect himself; he has no solid self-respect whatever. He knows that he is dishonest to God, ungrateful to the Saviour, and foolish to himself. I say, therefore, that all persons to whom the gospel is preached ought to understand this, that a public profession of the gospel is essential to true self-respect. And further: it is also essential to true peace of mind, because if a man does not make this public profession of what he knows to be the truth, he does not comply with the fundamental law of his own conscience, and his own being.
But let me say again: the public profession of any individual presents an inducement for Christ to watch over him, and by his grace to secure his perseverance in a holy life. For example, when an individual thinks himself a Christian, and yet makes no public profession of Christ, what honour does he bring to Christ, and what inducement is there for Christ to watch over him? People see that he lives a consistent life, and as he makes no profession of Christ, all the credit of his conduct is ascribed to nature, and not to grace. The world will give all the credit to the man, and not to Christ, to whom it really belongs. Now what has Christ to do with such an individual as this? Here is an individual deeply indebted to Christ for everything good that he possesses, but he makes no public acknowledgment of it. Thus he does not honour Christ, why then should Christ continue to watch over him? Why should such a man's candle continue lighted, as it is always kept under a bushel? I say then, that when a man makes a public profession of Christ, and thus acknowledges his dependance on him, he presents an inducement for Christ to continue to give him grace. The Psalmist frequently mentions the fact that he had not kept his righteousness within his own heart, and concealed it from the great congregation. And there is something reasonable as well as scriptural in this. When a man fully commits himself to Christ he engages and ensures the protection of an Almighty arm; he throws himself upon the grace of Christ. Look at Peter in the ship. When Christ was walking on the water, he said, If it be thou bid me come to thee on the water; and as soon as the Lord said Come, he did not hesitate, but just cast himself upon the protection of Christ. Did he let Peter sink? O no, Christ did not let him sink when he had fully committed himself. So when an individual, from right motives, publishes his attachment to Christ, he may depend upon being preserved: Christ will never forsake him. Let him do this with all humility, and what an argument would it put into his mouth. O Lord Jesus, did I not commit myself to serve thee, and illustrate thy religion before the world depending on thee for grace, and now shall the light that is in me become darkness, shall thy grace be withheld, so that I shall crucify thee afresh, and put thee to an openshame? No, indeed, this shall never be in such a case. Would not that be an argument likely to prevail with Christ? Yes; and ought to have power with him if made in good faith.