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presence of the Lord. Like as the wax melteth at the fire, so shall this melt away before his face." By this means, the greater that change is, which remains to be wrought in your soul, the more may you triumph in the Lord, and rejoice in the God of your salvation, who hath done so great things for you already, and will do so much greater things than these.
2. Secondly: The more vehemently he assaults your peace, with that suggestion, “God is holy; you are unholy; you are immensely distant from that holiness, without which you cannot see God: how then can you be in the favour of God ? How can you fancy you are justified ?"-take the more earnest heed to hold fast that, " Not by works of righteousness which I have done, I am found in him: I am accepted in the Beloved ; not having my own righteousness, (as the cause, either in whole or in part, of our justification before God,) but that which is by faith in Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Oh bind this about your neck: write it upon the table of thy heart. Wear it as a bracelet upon thy arm, as frontlets between thine eyes: “I am instified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ."" Value and esteem, more and more, that precious truth, “By grace we are saved, through faith.” Admire, more and more, the free grace of God, in so loving the world as to give “his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on him, might not perish, but have everlasting life.” So shall the sense of the sinfulness you feel on the one hand, and of the holiness you expect on the other, both contribute to establish your peace, and to make it flow as a river. So shall that
peace with an even stream, in spite of all those niountains of ungodliness, which shall become a plair, in the day when the Lord cometh to take full possession of your heart. Neither will sickness, or pain, or the approach of death, occasion any doubt or fear. You know a day, an hour, a moment, with God, is as a thousand years. He cannot be straitened for time, wherein to work whatever remains to be done in your soul. And God's time is always the best time. Therefore be thou careful for nothing : only make thy requests knowň unto him, and that not with doubt or fear, but thanksgiving; as being previously assured, he cannot withhold from thee any manner of thing that is good.
3. Thirdly: The more you are tempted to give up your shield, to cast away your faith, your confidence in his love, so much the more take heed that you hold fast that whereunto you have attained. So much the more labour to stir up the gift of God which is in you. Never let that slip, “I have 'an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous ;' and, 'the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me,
.?" Be this thý glory, and crown of rejoicing; and see that no one take thy crown. Hold that fast : “I kņow that my Redeemer liveth, and shall stard at the latter day upon the earth ;" and, “I now have redemption in his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.'” Thus, being filled with all peace and joy in believing, press on, in the peace and joy of faith, to the renewal of thy whole soul in the image of Him that created thee! Meanwhile, cry continually to God, that thou mayest see that prize of thy high calling, not as Satan represents it, in a horrid, dreadful shape, but in its genuine, native beauty; not as something that must be, or thou wilt go to hell, but as what may be, to lead thee to heaven. Look upon it as the most desi
and gave hiniself for me.
rable gift, which is in all the stores of the rich mercies of God. Beholding it in this true point of light, thou wilt hunger after it more and more; thy whole soul will be athirst for God, and for this glorious conformity to his likeness; and, having received a good hope of this, and strong consolation through grace, thou wilt no more be weary or faint in thy mind, but wilt follow on till thou attainest.
4. In the same power of faith press on to glory. Indeed, this is the same prospect still. God hath joined, from the beginning, pardon, holiness, heaven. And why should man put them asunder? Oh beware of this! Let not one link of the golden chain be broken. “ God, for Christ's sake, hath forgiven me. He is now renewing me in his own image. Shortly he will make me meet for himself, and take me to stand before his face. I, whom he hath justified through the blood of his Son, being thoroughly sanctified by his Spirit, shall quickly ascend to the New Jerusalem, the city of the living God.' Yet a little while, and I shall come to the general assembly and church of the first-born, and to God the Judge of all, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant.' How soon will these shadows flee away, and the day of eternity dawn upon me! How soon shall I drink of the river of the water of life, going out of the throne of God and of the Lamb! There all his servants shall praise him, and shall see his face, and his name shall be upon their foreheads. And no night shall be there; and they have no need of a candle, or the light of the sun. For the Lord God enligliteneth them, and they shall reign for ever and ever.'
5. And if you thus“ taste of the good word, and of the powers of the world to come,” you will not murmur against God, because you are not yet meet for the inheritance of the saints in liglit. Instead of repining at your not being wholly delivered, you will praise God for thus far delivering you. You will magnify God for avhat he hath done, and take it as an earnest of what he will do. You will not fret against him, because you are not yet renewed, but bless him because you shall be; and because
salvation” from all sin " nearer than when you [first] believed.” Instead of uselessly tormenting yourself because the time is not fully come, you will calmly and quietly wait for it, knowing that it “ will come, and will not tarry. You may, therefore, the more cheer fully endure, as yet, the burden of sin that still remains in you because it will not always remain. Yet a little while, and it shall be
Only tarry thou the Lord's leisure :" be strong, and " he shal! comfort thy heart;" and put thou iny trust in the Lord !
6. And if you see any who appear (so far as man can judge, but God alone searchcth the hearts) to be already partakers of their hope, already “nade perfect in love;" far from envying the grace of God in them, let it rejoice and comfort your heart. Glorify God for their sake! “ If one member is honoured,” shall not “ all the members rejoice with it?" Instead of jealousy or evil surmising concerning them, praise God for the consolation ! Rejoice in having a fresh proof of the faithfulness of God in fulfilling all his promises; and stir yourself up the more, to " apprehend that for which you also are apprehended of Christ Jesus !"
7. In order to this, redeem the time. Improve the present moment. Buy up every opportunity of growing in grace, or of doing good. Låt not the thought of receiving more grace to morrow, make you negligent of to day. You have one talent now: if you expect five more, so much
then rather iniprove that you have. And the more you expect to receive hereafter, the more labour for God now. Sufficient for the day is the grace thereof. God is now pouring his benefits upon you: now approve yourself a faithful steward of the present grace of God. Whatever
may be to morrow, give all diligence to day, to " add to your faith, courage, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness," and the fear of God, tili you attain that pure and perfect love! Let these things be now and abound!” Be not now slothful or unfruitful : “ So shall an entrance be ministered unto you into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ!”
8. Lastly: If in time past you have abused this blessed hope of being holy as He is holy, yet do not, therefore, cast it away. Let the abuse cease, the use remain. Use it now to the more abundant glory of God, and profit of your own soul. In steadfast faith, in calm tranquillity of spirit, in full assurance of hope, rejoicing evermore for what God hath done, press ye on unto perfection ! Daily growing in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, and going on from strength to strength, in resignation, in patience, in humble thankfulness for what ye have attained, and for what ye shall, run the race set before you, "looking unto Jesus," till, through perfect love, ye enter into his glory!
SERMON XLIII.-The Scripture way of Salvation.
“ Ye are saved through faith,” Eph. ii, 8. 1. Nothing can be more intricate, complex, and hard to be understood, than religion, as it has been often described. And this is not only true concerning the religion of the heathens, even many of the wisest of them, but concerning the religion of those also who were, in some sense, Christians; yea, and men of great name in the Christian world; men who seemed to be pillars thereof. Yet how easy to be understood, how plain and simple a thing is the genuine religion of Jesus Christ; provided only that we take it in its native form, just as it is described in the oracles of God! It is exactly suited, by the wise Creator and Governor of the world, to the weak understanding and narrow capacity of man in his present state. How observable is this, both with regard to the end it proposes, and the means to attain that end ! The end is, in one word, salvation; the means to attain it, faith.
2. It is easily discerned, that these two little words, I mean faith and salvation, include the substance of all the Bible, the marrow, as it were, of the whole Scripture. So much the more should we take all possible care to avoid all mistake concerning them, and to form a true and accurate judgment concerning both the one and the other.
3. Let us then seriously inquire,
I. 1. And, first, let us inquire, What is salvation ? The salvation which is here spoken of, is not what is frequently understood by that word, the going to heaven, eternal happiness. It is not the soul's going to paradise, termed by our Lord, “ Abraham's bosom." It is not a bless
ing which lies on the other side death ; or, as we usually speak, in the other world. The
words of the text itself put this beyond all quesye are saved.” It is not something at a distance; it is a present thing; a blessing which, through the free mercy of God, ye are now in possession of. Nay, the words may be rendered, and that with equal propriety, 66 Ye have been saved :" So that the salvation which is here spoken of, might be extended to the entire work of God, from the first dawning of grace in the soul, till it is consummated in glory.
2. If we take this in its utmost extent, it will include all that is wrought in the soul by what is frequently termed, natural conscience, but more properly, preventing grace ;-all the drawings of the Father; the desires after God, which, if we yield to them, increase more and more ;-all that light wherewith the Son of God “ enlighteneth every one that cometh into the world ;' showing every man, “to do justly, to love
mercy, and to walk humbly with his God;”—all the convictions which his Spirit, from time to time, works in every child of man; although, it is true, the generality of men stifle them as soon as possible, and after a while forget, or at least deny, that they ever had them at all.
3. But we are at present concerned only with that salvation which the apostle is directly speaking of. And this consists of two general parts, justification and sanctification.
Justification is another word for pardon. It is the forgiveness of all our sins; and, what is necessarily implied therein, our acceptance with God. The price whereby this hath been procured for us, (commonly termed the meritorious cause of our justification,) is the blood and righteousness of Christ; or, to express it a little more clearly, all that Christ hath done and suffered for us, till he “poured out his soul for the transgressors.'
The immediate effects of justification are, the peace of God, a peace that passeth all understanding, and a “rejoicing in hope of the glory of God,” “ with joy unspeakable and full of glory."
4. And at the same time that we are justified, yea, in that very msment, sanctification begins. In that instant we are born again, born from above, born of the Spirit: there is a real as well as a relative change. We are inwardly renewed by the power of God. We feel “ the love of God shed abroad in our heart, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us," producing love to all mankind, and more especially to the children of God; expelling the love of the world, the love of pleasure, of ease, of honour, of money; together with pride, anger, self will, and every other evil temper; in a word, changing the earthly, sensual, devilish mind, into the mind which was in Christ Jesus."
5. How naturally do those who experience such a change, imagine that all sin is gone; that it is utterly rooted out of their heart, and has no more any place therein ? How easily do they draw that inference, “I feel no sin ; therefore I have none: it does not stir; therefore it does not exist : it has no motion; therefore it has no being."
6. But it is seldom long before they are undeceived, finding sin was only suspended, not destroyed. Temptations return, and sin revives; showing it was but stunned before, not dead. They now feel two principles in themselves, plainly contrary to each other'; "the flesh lusting against the Spirit;" nature opposing the grace of God. They cannot deny, that, although they still feel power to believe in Christ, and to love God; and, although his “Spirit (still] witnesses with their spirits, Vol. I.
that they are children of God;" yet they feel in themselves sometimes pride or self will, sometimes anger or unbelief. They find one or more of these frequently stirring in their heart, though not conquering ; yea, perhaps, "thrusting sore at them that they may fall;" but the Lord is their help.
7. How exactly did Macarius, fourteen hundred years ago, describe the present experience of the children of God!“ The unskilful
, [or unexperienced,] when grace operates, presently imagine they have no more sin. Whereas they that have discretion cannot deny, that even we who have the grace of God may be molested again.-For we have often had instances of some among the brethren, who have experienced such grace as to affirm that they had no sin in them; and yet, after all, when they thought themselves entirely freed from it, the corruption that lurked within was stirred up anew, and they were well nigh burned up.
8. From the time of our being born again the gradual work of sanctifi cation takes place. We are enabled, by the Spirit, to mortify the deeds of the body," of our evil nature; and as we are more and more dead to sin, we are more and more alive to God. We go on from grace to grace, while we are careful to “abstain from all appearance of evil,” and are “ zealous of good works,” as we have opportunity of doing good to all men; while we walk in all his ordinances blameless, therein worshipping him in spirit and in truth; while we take up our cross, ourselves every pleasure that does not lead us to God.
9. It is thus that we wait for entire sanctification; for a full salvation from all our sins,—from pride, self will, anger, unbelief; or, as the apostle expresses it," go on to perfection." But what is perfection? The word has various senses : here it means perfect love. It is love excluding sin; love filling the heart, taking up the whole capacity of the soul. It is love “rejoicing evermore, praying without ceasing, in every thing giving thanks."
II. But what is that faith through which we are saved? This is the second point to be considered.
1. Faith in general is defined by the apostle, apayuatwv € MEYX05 OU BRETOlevwv: an evidence, a divine evidence and conviction [the word means both] of things not seen ; not visible, not perceivable either by sight, or by any other of the external senses. It implies both a supernatural evidence of God, and of the things of God, a kind of spiritual light exhibited to the soul, and a supernatural sight or perception thereof. Accordingly the Scripture speaks of God's giving sometimes light, sometimes a power of discerning it. So St. Paul, “God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
And elsewhere the same apostle speaks of “the understanding being opened.” By this two fold operation of the Holy Spirit, having the eyes of our soul both opened and enlightened, we see the things which the natural "eye hath not seen, neither the ear heard." We have a prospect of the invisible things of God; we see the spiritual world, which is all round about us, and yet no more discerned by our natural faculties, than if it had no being: and we see the eternal world ; piercing through the veil which hangs between time and eternity. Clouds and darkness then rest upon it no more, but we already see the glory which shall be revealed.