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indeed perfect: but to him was committed the task of working out a righteousness for himself, and of maintaining by his own inherent powers his steadfastness in the divine life. And hence he fell, and died, and involved both himself and all his posterity in ruin.
But the believer has a righteousness wrought out for him by his incarnate God; and “ his life,” instead of being committed to his own keeping, " is hid with Christ in God," where Satan cannot reach it; and therefore, since Christ has engaged that none shall ever pluck out of his hands those whom the Father hath committed to him, he shall endure unto the end : and, "when Christ, who is his life, shall appear, shall assuredly appear with him in gloryf.” Thus, in respect both of honour and security, is the believer elevated even above Adam himself; since he has not a creature-righteousness wherein to stand before God, or a created power to uphold him ; but a righteousness that is divine, and an arm that is omnipotent. To form a right judgment of his state, we must attend to what our blessed Lord himself has spoken on this subject. Indeed his words are so strong, that no man would dare to utter them if not warranted by his authority. What would you say, if I were to affirm, that the life of faith resembles the very life which the Lord Jesus Christ lived when on earth; and that the believer has the same dependence on the Lord Jesus Christ, as Christ himself, during his incarnate state, had on the Father; and the same security in him too; would you not be almost ready to shut your ears, and to accuse the preacher of blasphemy? Yet is this what we are authorized by Christ himself to declare. Hear his own words: “ He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, even so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” Say, beloved, is not here a ground of glorying ? and, if the believer did not glory in this privilege, would not the very stones cry out against him?]
Whilst with confidence we affirm these to be the Christian's principles, we with no less confidence proceed to declare, II. His practice
It is thought by many that a life of faith is unfriendly to morality; since if all our righteousness is in Him, what need have we of any of our own ? and, if he be engaged to keep us, what need have we of any care or watchfulness to keep ourselves ? But 385 this reasoning is altogether fallacious : since every one who by faith abides in Christ, acknowledges it his bounden duty to “ walk as he walked.” He acknowledges it, I say, as his bounden duty
Col. iii. 3, 4.
8 John vi, 56, 57
[He does not conceive of Christ as liberating him from the obligations of morality: for though he is free from the law as a covenant, he is not free from it, nor wouid wish to be freed from it, as a rule of life. He considers himself as “ not without law, but under the law to Christ." Were he permitted to violate the commands of God, he would account it a curse rather than a privilege. Such a liberty would appear to him only like a permission to drink poison, which, however sweet to the taste, would prove " the gall of asps within him." So far from imagining himself freed from the restraints of the law, he considers all that Christ has done for him as laying him under ten-fold obligations to holiness both of heart and life. His motives to obedience are changed indeed: but his obligations to it are not a whit diminished, yea, rather, are greatly heightened; because he well knows, that the very end for which his Saviour died was, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works."] He makes it his constant and determined aim
[The true believer is not a mere follower of Christ, but an imitator also h: and it is his delight to set the Saviour before him as his great Exemplar. When he sees how entirely the soul of Jesus was wrapped up in his work, and that it was “ his meat and drink to do his Father's will,” he pants, and sighs, and with shame and sorrow of heart exclaims, O that there were “ in me the mind that was in Christ Jesus!” When he beholds the ardour of Christ's love to man, his unwearied labours, his patient sufferings, his exertions in every possible way, he girds up his loins, and follows the footsteps of his Lord; and though he knows that he can never attain to his perfection, yet he proposes to himself no object short of that, and strives to be “ holy as he was holy," and “ perfect as he was perfect:" nor does the glory of heaven itself appear more desirable in his eyes, than does a conformity to the Saviour's image in righteousness and true holiness. In a peculiar manner, he notices the tempers of his Divine Master; his meekness, his patience, his forbearance, his love to enemies, his compassion even to his very murderers: he sees what á fallen creature he himself is, and he cries mightily to God for grace and strength, that he may be enabled to mortify every
h 1 Cor. xi. 1. the Greek.
feeling that is opposite to love, and to "purify himself even as his Lord and Master was purei."]
Now as this subject gives us a deep insight into the whole of the Gospel system, I will embrace this opportunity,
1. Of establishing the principles of those who are in doubt
[The Christian world has been much divided on the subject of faith and works: and we may easily conceive that some, who are well affected towards the Gospel, may feel a doubt, whether in our statements of the truth we do not elevate faith too high, and sink morality below its proper level. But the text, I conceive, will settle this point at once. I grant, that they who require good works in whole or in part to justify us before God, do in appearance shew a high sense of their value: and that they who decry them in this point of view, and declare that such a dependence on them will invalidate the whole Gospel, and sink us into perdition, do in appearance betray an indifference towards them. But I would ask, Does any advocate for the merit of good works ever propose to himself so high a standard as that in my text? and, if any one inculcate the necessity of walking to the very uttermost as Christ walked, do they not account him “ righteous overmuch?” Yes assuredly, they always have a lower standard than that which is proposed to them in the Gospel. On the other hand, they who exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, and live by faith on him, will admit of no rule of conduct which does not embrace the whole law, and lead to a perfect conformity to the Lord Jesus Christ. And hence it is, that the followers of Christ are as much condemned for their unnecessary zeal and strictness, as for the supposed licentiousness of their principles. Here then the point is brought to the very test, which the advocates of human merit profess to approve.
Let the two opposite systems be tried by this touchstone; Which requires of its votaries the sublimer and more enlarged morality?' and we consent, that this issue, fairly tried, shall determine the point for ever. They who live in any measure of self-righteousness and self-sufficiency, will walk as the world walketh; but they who abide in Christ as their only hope, will with all their might endeavour to walk as Christ walked.]
2. Of directing the energies of those who have embraced the Gospel
[Be not faint or weary in well-doing: but set the Lord ever before you, and endeavour to resemble him in the whole
i i John iii. 3.
“ spirit of his mind," and the whole course of his conduct. Of course, what he spake as the Great Prophet of the Church, or did as the Redeemer of the world, was peculiar to himself, and can be no pattern for us: but in all that he either spake or did as man, we are to follow him without reserve. propose to ourselves any lower standard, or except any one of God's commandments from our rule of duty, we are not Christ's disciples. See what is said in our text, “ He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked:” and again in the following chapter: “ Whosoever abideth in him, sinneth not. Whosoever sinneth, hath not seen him, neither known him k." Here then you see what all your profession of faith will amount to, if it do not approve itself by its fruits: it will be a self-delusion, and a lie altogether. Come then, beloved, and address yourselves to your high and heavenly work. Ye see your calling: O strive to "walk worthy of it!” yea, “ worthy of the Lord," whose you are, and whom you profess to serve. Thus will you vindicate the Gospel from the charges which ignorant and ungodly men bring against it; and will prove to all around you that it is indeed " the wisdom of God, and the power of God unto salvation."]
k 1 John iii. 6. See also 1 John ii. 4.
THE TRUE LIGHT.
1 John ii. 8. The darkness is past, and the true light now
shineth. OUR blessed Lord is supposed by many to have enlarged the demands of the moral law. That he speaks of giving a new commandment is certain : • A new commandment I give unto you,
love one another: as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” St. John also speaks to the same effect in the words before my text; though, in the words immediately preceding, he had declared, that it was not a new commandment. The reconciling of this difficulty will suggest the true explanation of our text. The command given us to love our neighbour as ourselves, was not a new commandment. It was a part of the moral lawb; and of the law originally written on the heart of man in Paradise. Yet in some respects it was a new law: both as it respected the Lord Jesus who enacted it, and as it respected us on whom it was enjoined. Let us hear what the Apostle himself says: “ Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. Again, a new commandment I write unto you: which thing is true in him, and in you.” It was new as it respected the Lord Jesus Christ, who had proposed his own conduct as the model (which, of course, it could not be, till he himself had completed his work on earth), and had enforced it with his own authority as Mediator, which also must be subsequent to his entrance on the mediatorial office. And it was new also as it respected us, because it was never before conceived to extend to the “ laying down of our lives for the brethren,” and because it was enjoined with new motives, such as could never have existed before, even the testifying of our love to Christ, “ who has loved us, and given himself for us.” Previous to the coming of our Lord, a veil of obscurity hanged over these things : but now they were made clear, “because the darkness was past, and the true light now shined.”
a John xiii. 34.
b Lev. xix. 18.
In considering the change which is here spoken of, I shall notice it, I. As verified at that day
The darkness of the Mosaic dispensation was then dispelled
That was a dark and shadowy dispensation altogether. God himself was not made known by it as the common Father of all, but as the friend only of one peculiar people, whom he favoured above all others. The way of acceptance with him was very indistinctly seen in the sacrifices which were offered ; there being but little spoken to direct the attention of the offerers to that great Sacrifice, from whence alone they derived all their efficacy. Nor were the requirements of the moral law
0 1 John iii. 16.