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I do not deny, but that many “profess that they know God, whilst in works they deny himk;" and that it is possible for men so to deceive themselves, as to possess all the confidence of the most established believer: yea, there are not wanting multitudes who carry this delusion with them even to the bar of judgment; and, even in the presence of their Judge, will claim his favour; saying, “ Have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name done many wonderful works ?” whilst they will only draw upon themselves that damnatory sentence, “ Depart from me; I never knew you, ye workers of iniquity.” If any would attain a scriptural assurance, they must try themselves by the test proposed to them by St. John-the test of their obedience to God's commands. This is a suitable way of attaining it,

[How do we judge of a tree, but by its fruits? We should not be satisfied with beholding its foliage, however luxuriant it might be: we should desire to behold, and to taste, the fruit: and by that we should form our estimate of its real worth. In like manner, if a child or servant professed pre-eminent regard for us, we should naturally expect that regard to manifest itself by an observance of our commands. This, then, is the way by which God will judge of us, and by which we also must judge ourselves. Our Lord has plainly told us, " He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth mem” and again; “ He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruitn.” Well, therefore, may our Lord accuse us of inconsistency, when we profess ourselves his, without obeying his commandments : “ Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?". We may set this down as an unquestionable truth, that if" Christ be made unto us righteousness, he will be to us sanctification also P." And if we say, “There is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," we must never forget the description there given of those persons; namely, that “ they walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit9."] It is also a certain way of attaining it,

[From whence is it that any person is enabled to keep God's commandments? Our blessed Lord has told us that “ without him we can do nothing." It is by its union with the vine, that a branch bears its fruit: and it is only by union with the Lord Jesus that we also can have a sufficiency for any thing that is goods. Have we then a clear evidence that we are bringing forth fruit to God? it is manifest that we are united to Christ: or, as my text expresses it,“ Hereby know we that we are in him.” From hence, also, we know that we are in favour with God : for, to what end has God loved us, and shed abroad his love in our hearts, but that we might" by that love be constrained to live unto Him who died for us." It is by our obedience that God's love is perfected in us;" for by that obedience its end is answered, its power is evinced, its operation is augmented: so that, as " by works our faith is made perfect"," so, by works, God's love to us, and ours to him, are also perfected. I add yet further, that by obedience our right to heaven is ascertained: for it is written, “ Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates of the city. Of course, it is not on the ground of merit that they acquire this right, but solely on the ground of God's gracious promises to those who believe in Christ. Nevertheless, this evidence is indispensably necessary to the believer; and on the production of that shall his title to heaven be acknowledged: for “ Christ is the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him y."] Who does not see, in this subject, 1. The importance of self-examination ?

k Tit. i. 16.
n John xv. 5.
9 Rom. viii. 1.

1 Matt. vii. 22, 23.
o Luke vi. 46.

m John xiv. 21. P 1 Cor. i. 30.

[It is evidently taken for granted, in my text, that some self-deceivers will be found, who will “say, that they know Christ, whilst yet they keep not his commandments." And what shall I say to them? What can I say more, than what God himself speaks to them in my text, " That they are liars; and that the truth is not in them?” I grant that this sounds harsh; but it is the declaration of our God: and I dare not to soften or conceal what he hath spoken. In many other passages does this loving Apostle use the same language?; and I entreat you, brethren, to lay it to heart. Be assured, that, whilst you continue under this delusion, “the truth is not in you:” the Gospel has not yet wrought effectually on your hearts, nor are you possessed of real integrity in your souls. No, indeed, you are " liars” and hypocrites, and must take your portion with such characters in the eternal world. Tell me, then, whether it do not become you to “ examine yourselves," and to try your faitha by this standard? Do not imagine that the knowledge here spoken of is a speculative acquaintance with divine truth: no, it is such a knowledge as both justifies and sanctifies the soul; it is that knowledge in comparison of which St. Paul "accounted all things as dung and dross d.” This is the knowledge which you must possess : and if you will think you have it, whilst your life and conversation give the lie to your profession, your doom is fixed : for thus saith God, by the Prophet Hosea: “ Israel saitli, my God, we know thee : Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him :" yea, “every such person shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the glory of his power, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed in flaming fire to take vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christi." I say, then, to every one of you, “ Examine whether ye be in the faith, and prove your own selves.”] 2. The blessedness of practical Christianity ?

r John xv. 4.

$ 2 Cor. v. 14. u Rev. xxii. 14. x Matt. vii. 21. 2 1 John i. 6. iv, 20. and v. 10.

t Jam. ii. 22. y Heb. v. 9.

[To what a glorious state does true religion raise us! Men in all ages have accounted the Virgin Mother of our Lord blessed, because she was God's chosen vessel, to bring into the world the Lord of Glory. But I speak not too strongly, if I say, that the practical Christian is yet more highly honoured, and more truly blessed, than she, so far as her external relation to him was concerned: for our Lord, in answer to one who had congratulated her on her distinguished honours, saying, " Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked," replied, “ Yea, rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep ith." True, indeed, such persons may not always possess a full assurance of their interest in Christ: God may, for wise reasons, permit their minds to be agitated with doubts and fears; and Satan may, for a season, greatly harass and distress them. But, whilst they walk in darkness, the Lord will be a light unto them; yea, he has authorized his servants to address them in these encouraging words: “ Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God. Yes, brethren, if only you are conscientiously endeavouring to approve yourselves to God in a holy and unreserved obedience, you need not fear. This very disposition emanates from God: it is itself a fruit and evidence of his love; and it shall assuredly issue in everlasting felicity : for, as sure as God is true, "light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heartk."]

a Job xx. 4-7.
d Phil. iii. 8.
& 2 Cor. xiii. 5.
i Isai. 1. 10.

b Isai. liii. 11.

c John xvii. 17. e Hos. viii. 2, 3. f 2 Thess. i. 7-9.

Luke viii. 20, 21. and xi. 27, 28.

k Ps. xcvii. 11.

MMCCCCXXXV.

.

CHRIST AN EXAMPLE TO HIS FOLLOWERS.

1 John ii. 6. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also

so to walk, even as he walked. AMONG the various excellencies which distinguish Christianity from all other religions, one of very considerable importance is, that the Author of it condescended to exemplify in his own person every thing which it required of its most faithful adhérents. Different philosophers established rules for their followers: but no one ever professed himself a pattern, and much less a perfect pattern, of all that under any circumstances could be required of him. But the Lord Jesus Christ has perfectly fulfilled his own law, as for other ends, so also that he might “set us an example to follow his steps." True it is indeed that He is the sole Author of our salvation from first to last : but he does not on that account dispense with our obedience to his law: on the contrary, he says, that“ all who abide in him, must walk as he walked.”

There are some who deny that the law is to the believer a rule of life. But supposing this error could not be refuted by direct testimony, which it easily and abundantly may, what would the advocates, of it gain, if once they admitted, what I suppose no man would deny, that Christ is an example for us to follow? Did not he “fulfil all righteousness,” even to the utmost extent of the moral law? And if he did, and is an example to us, must not we obey the law in the same manner, and to the same extent ? We are not indeed to fulfil it for the same ends ; because he alone, as the Mediator between God and man, can save men by his obedience unto death : but

in all that he did as a man, we are to follow his steps: and if we neglect to do so, we shew, that we have no part or lot in his salvation.

The words I have read will lead me to set before you the principles, and the practice, of every true Christian. I. His principles

The Christian is united unto Christ by faith, as a branch to the vine; and his one great concern is to " abide in Christ.”

For this he labours as the one ground of his hope

[He knows that he has nothing, and can have nothing, in himself. . He needs no one to tell him this: he has learned it, as from the inspired volume, so also from his own experience. He has found on numberless occasions how weak and sinful a creature he is: and is well assured, that, if he had not “ Jehovah himself for his righteousness and strength," it would be impossible for him ever to be saved. Hence he views with complacency the Lord Jesus Christ as the great Head of the Church. "It has pleased the Father, that in Christ should all fulness dwella:” and in this respect he is altogether likeminded with the Father: for it pleases him in his inmost soul to have such a Head of vital influence, and such a Depository of all spiritual blessings. He is sensible that the branch derives all its life and fertility from its union with the vine: and that, if once separated from the stem, it would wither and dieb. This idea he endeavours to realize: and “ the life which he lives in the flesh, he lives altogether by faith in the Son of God," “receiving out of his fulnessd” a constant supply of grace and peace. If, as a blind and ignorant creature, he need wisdom; or as a guilty creature, he need righteousness; or as a polluted creature, he need sanctification; or as an enslaved creature, he need redemption : he looks for it all in Christ, whom he regards as furnished with all for the use of his Church, and as empowered to communicate it all to every one that trusts in him] In this he glories as his most exalted privilege

[Humiliating as this life of dependence at first sight appears, he considers it as his highest honour, and as raising him even above Adam in Paradise. Adam, when in Paradise, was

c Gal. ii. 21.

a Col. i. 19.
d John i. 16.

b John xv. 1-5.
e 1 Cor. i. 30.

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