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repent, and unfeignedly believe his holy gospel." As soon as ever God hath spoken to thy heart, “Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee;" his kingdom comes : thou hast“ righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
10. Only beware thou do not deceive thy own soul, with regard to the nature of this faith. It is not, as some have fondly conceived; a bare assent to the truth of the Bible, of the articles of our creed, or of all that is contained in the Old and New Testament. The devils believe this, as well as I or thou! And yet they are devils still. But it is, over and above this, a sure trust in the inercy of God, through Christ Jesus. It is a confidence in a pardoning God. It is a divinë evidence or conviction, that “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself; not imputing to them their former trespasses ;" and, in particular, that the Son of God hath loved me, and given himself for me, and that I, even I, am now reconciled to God by the blood of the cross.
11. Dost thou thus believe? Then the peace of God is in thy heart, and sorrowing and sighing flee away. Thou art no longer in doubt of the love of God; it is clear as the roonday sun. Thou criest out; “My song shall be always of the loving kindness of the Lord: with my mouth will I ever be telling of thy truth, from one generation to another." Thou art no longer afraid of hell, or death, or him that had once the power of death, the devil; no, nor painfully afraid of God himself; only thou hast a tender, filial fear of offending him. Dost thou believe? Then thy “soul doth magnify the Lord," and thy" spirit rejoiceth in God thy Saviour.” Thou rejoicest in that thou hast“ redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." Thou rejoicest in that “spirit of adoption,” which crieth in thy heart, “Abba, Father!" Thou rejoicest in a "hope full of immortality;" in reaching forth unto the "mark of the prize of thy high calling;" in an earnest expectation of all the good things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
12. Dost thou now believe? Then the love of God is now shed abroad in thy heart. Thou lovest him, because he first loved us. And, because thou lovest God, thou lovest thy brother also. And, being filled with “love, peace, joy," thou art also filled with "long sufferings gentleness, fidelity, goodness; meekness, temperance," and all the other fruits of the same Spirit; in a word, with whatever dispositions are holy, are heavenly, or divine. For while thou beholdest with open, uncovered face, (the veil being now taken away,) "the glory of the Lord,” his glorious love, and the glorious image wherein thou wasť created, thou art “ changed into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord.”
13. This repentance, this faith, this peace, joy, love, this change from glory to glory, is what the wisdom of the world has voted to be madness, mere enthusiasm, utter distraction. But thou, oh man of God, regard them not; be thou moved by none of these things. Thou knows est in whom thou hast believed. See that no man take thy crown. Whereunto thou hast already attained, hold fast, and follow, till thou attain all the great and precious promises. And thou who hast not yet known him, let not vain men make thee ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Be thou in nothing terrified by those who speak evil of the things which they know not. God will soon turn thy heaviness into joy. Oh let not thy hands hang down. Yet a little longer, and he will take away
thy fears, and give thee the spirit of a sound mind. He is nigh" that justifieth: who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that rose again, who is even now at the right hand of God, making intercession” for thee.
Now cast thyself on the Lamb of God, with all thy sins, how many soever they be; and “an entrance shall (now] be ministered unto thee into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ !"
SERMON VIII.— The First fruits of the Spirit.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” Rom. viii, 1.
1. By “them which are in Christ Jesus," St. Paul evidently means, those who truly believe in him; those who,“ being justified by faith, have
peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." They who thus believe do no longer “walk after the flesh,” no longer follow the motions of corrupt nature, but " after the Spirit;” both their thoughts, words, and works, are under the direction of the blessed Spirit of God.
2. “ There is therefore now no condemnation to" these. There is no condemnation to them from God; for he hath justified them “freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus.' He hath forgiven all their iniquities, and blotted out all their sins. And there is no condemnation to them from within ; for they “ have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that they might know the things which are freely given to them of God," 1 Cor. ii, 12; which Spirit“ beareth witness with their spirits, that they are the children of God.” And to this is added the testimony of their conscience, " that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, they have had their conversation in the world," 2 Cor. i, 12.
3. But because this scripture has been so frequently misunderstood, and that in so dangerous a manner; because such multitudes of "unlearned and unstable men,” (ou apa Isis xai asngixtol, men untaught of God, and consequently unestablished in the truth which is after godliness,) have wrested it to their own destruction ; I propose to show, as clearly as I can, first, Who those are “which are in Christ Jesus, and walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit:" and, secondly, How"there is no condemnation to” these. I shall conclude with some practical inferences.
I. 1. First I am to show, Who those are that" are in Christ Jesus." And are they not those who believe in his name? Those who are “ found in him, not having their
own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God by faith ?" These, who have redemption through his blood," are properly
said to be in Him. For they dwell in Christ, and Christ in them. They are joined unto the Lord in one Spirit. They are ingrafted into Him as branches into the vine. They are united as. members to their Head, in a manner which words cannot express, 'nor could it before enter into their hearts to conceive.
2. Now “whosoever abideth in him, sinneth not;" “ walketh not after the flesh.” The flesh, in the usual language of St. Paul, signifies corrupt nature. In this sense he uses the word, writing to the Galatians, “ The works of the flesh are manifest,” Gal. v, 19; and a little before, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust (or desire) of the flesh,” ch. v, 16. To prove which, namely, that those who “walk by the Spirit
, do not fulfil the lusts of the flesh," he immediately adds, - For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit; and the Spirit lusteth against the flesh, (for these are contrary to each other,) that ye may not do the things which ye would." So the words are literally translated; (sva un και αν θελησε, ταυσα, ποιητε») not “So that ye cannot do the things that ye would;" as if the flesh overcame the Spirit: a translation which hath not only nothing to do with the original text of the apostle, but likewise makes his whole argument nothing worth; yea, asserts just the reverse of what he is proving.
3. They who are of Christ, who abide in him, “have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts." They abstain from all those works of the flesh; from "adultery and fornication ;" from “uncleanness and lasciviousness ;" from " idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance;" from “einulations, wrath, strife, sedition, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings;" from every design, and word, and work, to which the corruption of nature leads. Although they feel the root of bitterness in themselves, yet are they endued with power from on high, to trample it continually under foot, so that it cannot "spring up to trouble them;" insomuch, that every fresh assault which they undergo, only gives them fresh occasion of praise, of crying out “Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
4. They now walk after the Spirit,” both in their hearts and lives. They are taught of him to love God and their neighbour, with a love which
a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.” And by him they are led into every holy desire, into every divine and heavenly temper, till every thought which arises in their heart is holiness unto the Lord.
5. They who " walk after the Spirit,” are also led by him into all holiness of conversation. Their“ speech is always in grace, seasoned with salt:" with the love and fear of God. “No corrupt communication comes out of their mouth, but only that which is good;" that which is“ to the use of edifying;” which is “meet to minister grace to the hearers." And herein likewise do they exercise themselves day and night, to do only the things which please God; in all their outward behaviour to follow Him," who left us an example that we might tread in his steps;" in all their intercourse with their neighbour to walk in justice, mercy, and truth; and “whatsoever they do,” in every circumstance of life, to “ do all to the glory of God."
6. These are they who indeed “walk after the Spirit.” Being filled with faith and with the Holy Ghost, they possess in their hearts, and show forth in their lives, in the whole course of their words and actions, the genuine fruits of the Spirit of God, namely, “ love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance," and whatsoever else is lovely or praiseworthy. They " adorn in all things the gospel of God our Saviour ;" and give full
, proof to all mankind, that they are indeed actuated by the same Spirit, *« which raised Jesus from the dead."
II. 1. I proposed to show, in the second place, How“there is no condemnation to them which are thus in Christ Jesus,” and thus “ walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”
And, first, To believers in Christ, walking thus, there is no condemnation" on account of their past sins. God condemneth them not for any of these ; they are as though they had never been; they are cast as a stone into the depth of the sea, and he remembereth them no
God having set forth his Son to be a propitiation” for them, through faith in his blood,” “ hath declared unto them his righteousness, for the remission of the sins that are past.” He layeth therefore none of these to their charge; their memorial is perished with them.
2. And there is no condemnation in their own breast; no sense of guilt, or dread of the wrath of God. They“ have the witness in themselves :" they are conscious of their interest in the blood of sprinkling.
They have not received again the spirit of bondage unto fear,” unto doubt and racking uncertainty ; but they " have received the spirit of adoption," crying in their hearts, “ Abba, Father.” Thus being“ justified by faith,” they have the peace of God ruling in their hearts ; flowing from a continual sense of his pardoning mercy, and “the answer of a good conscience towards God."
3. If it be said, “ but sometimes a believer in Christ may lose his sight of the mercy of God; sometimes such darkness may fall upon him that he no longer sees Him that is invisible, no longer feels that witness in himself of his part in the atoning blood; and then he is inwardly condemned, he hath again the sentence of death in himself;" [ answer, supposing it so to be, supposing him not to see the mercy of God, then he is not a believer : for faith implies light; the light of God shining upon the soul, So far, therefore, as any one loses this light, he, for the time, loses his faith. And, no doubt, a true believer in Christ may lose the light of faith; and so far as this is lost, he
for a time, fall again into condemnation. But this is not the case of them who
are in Christ Jesus," who now believe in his name. For so long as they believe and walk after the Spirit, neither God condemns them, nor their own heart.
4. They are not condemned, secondly, for any present sins, for now transgressing the commandments of God. For they do not transgress them; they do not " walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit." This is the continual proof of their “ love of God, that they keep his commandments;" even as St. John bears witness,“ Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin. For his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God :" he cannot, so long as that seed of God, that loving, holy faith remaineth in him. So long as he keepeth him self” herein, " that wicked one toucheth him not." Now it is evident, he is not condemned for the sins which he doth not commit at all. They, therefore, who are thus “ led by the Spirit, are not under the law," Gal. v, 18. Not under the curse or condemnation of it; for it çondemns none but those who break it. Thus, that law of God, “Thou shalt not steal," condemns none but those who do steal. Thus, "Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy," condemns those only who do not keep it holy. But against the fruits of the Spirit, “there is no law,” ch. V, 23; as the apostle more largely declares, in those memorable words of his former epistle to Timothy: “We know that the law is
good, if a man use it lawfully; knowing this,” (if while he uses the law of God, in order either to convince or direct, he know and remember this,) οσι δικαιω νομος ου κεισαι; (not that the law is not made for a right eous man; but) “ that the law does not lie against a righteous man;" it has no force against him, no power to condemn him; “but against the lawless and disobedient, against the ungodly and sinners, against the unholy and profane; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God," 1 Tim. i, 8, 9, 11.
5. They are not condemned, thirdly, for inward sin, even though it does now remain. That the corruption of nature does still remain, even in those who are the children of God by faith; that they have in them the seeds of pride and vanity, of anger, lust, and evil desire, yea, sin of every kind ; is too plain to be denied, being matter of daily experience. And on this account it is that St. Paul, speaking to those whom he had just before witnessed to be" in Christ Jesus," 1 Cor. i, 2, 9, to have been “ called of God into the fellowship (or participation) of his Son Jesus Christ;" yet declares, “ Brethren, I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ;" 1 Cor. iij, 1; " Babes in Christ;' so we see they were" in Christ;" they were believers in a low degree. And yet how much of sin remained in them! Of that carnal mind, which is not subject to the law of God !”
6. And yet, for all this, they are not condemned. Although they feel the flesh, the evil nature in them; although they are more sensible, day by day, that their" heart is deceitful and desperately wicked;" yet, so long as they do not yield thereto; so long as they give no place to the devil ; so long as they maintain a continual war with all sin, with pride, anger, desire, so that the flesh hath not dominion over them, but they still " walk after the Spirit;" there is “ no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” God is well pleased with their sincere, though imperfect obedience: and they "have confidence towards God,"knowing they are his,“ by the Spirit which he hath given them,” 1 John iii, 24.
7. Nay, fourthly, although they are continually convinced of sin cleaving to all they do; although they are conscious of not fulfilling the perfect law, either in their thoughts, or words, or works; although they know they do not love the Lord their God with all their heart, and mind, and soul, and strength; although they feel more or less of pride, or self will, stealing in and mixing with their best duties; although even in their more immediate intercourse with God, when they assemble themselves with the great congregation, and when they pour out their souls in secret to him who seeth all the thoughts and intents of the heart, they are continually ashamed of their wandering thoughts, or of the deadness and dulness of their affections; yet there is no condemnation to them still, either from God or from their own heart. The consideration of these manifold defects only gives them a deeper sense,
that they have always need of the blood of sprinkling which speaks for them in the ears of God, and that advocate with the Father, “who ever liveth to make intercession for them.” So far are these from driving them away from him, in whom they have believed, that they rather drive them the closer to him, whom they feel the want of every moment. And, at the same time, the deeper sense they have of this want, the more earnest desire do they feel, and the more diligent they are, as they have received the Lord Jesus, so to walk in him."