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the fruit, of which the other is the root. True“ faith will invariably work by loveo:" so that, not only will salvation be secured to us by faith; but holiness also, in all its sublimest branches, will be wrought in us. Those who object to salvation by faith, do so under an apprehension that it will leave us regardless of moral duties. But I ask, where is love found in any degree in comparison of that which is produced by faith? Where, since the foundation of the world, was holiness in all its branches seen, in comparison of that which shined forth in the Apostles and in all the primitive saints? I say then, that in this view, the exercise of faith is of inestimable value. But who shall declare the benefits resulting from it in the eternal world? Who shall make known to us all that is implied in “obtaining the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory?" My dear brethren, be thankful that these blessings are yet offered to your acceptance; and pray earnestly to your God, that you fall not short of them through unbelief.] o Gal. v. 6.
P 2 Tim. ii. 10.
THE MUTUAL IN-DWELLING OF GOD AND HIS PEOPLE.
1 John ii. 24. He that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in
him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
THERE is, in the Epistles of St. John, a most remarkable simplicity, insomuch that he seems to speak truths level with the comprehension of a little child : yet is there in him a vast profundity of sentiment, which no common mind can fathom. Not that he establishes his points by laboured argumentation. He does not offer himself to the bar of reason; but, conscious of his own inspiration, he requires the submission of human reason to his dictates. In my text, he asserts truths of the deepest import; namely, the mutual in-dwelling of God in his people, and of his people in him; and the consciousness which God's people have of this mystery being realized in their own experience. These are things of which men in general have very little conception : but, on the authority of this holy Apostle, I will proceed to shew,
1. The exalted privilege of God's people —
The character of God's people is here declared, in very simple terms
[" He that keepeth God's commandments" is the person to whom the privilege belongs. Not that any man can keep them perfectly: but the true Christian does desire to fulfil them in their utmost extent; and, allowing for human infirmity, he does keep them uniformly, and without reserve. He would not exclude one command from the Decalogue, or contract its import in any respect.
But the commandments here more especially referred to, are those of faith and love. In the preceding verse these are particularly specified. “This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.” Now, certainly, these are the two commandments, which, above all others, serve as a test, whereby to try the Christian character; and obedience to them is that by which the Lord's people are universally and exclusively distinguished. They are known by it universally : for there is not a Christian upon earth who does not live simply by faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; or who does not love, with a peculiar and transcendent affection, all whom he supposes to belong to Christ. On the other hand, this character belongs to them exclusively : for there is no other person in the universe who so entirely relies on Christ, or who so pre-eminently regards the mystical members of his body.]
Of these it is said, that “God dwells in them, and they in him”—
[There is between God and them an union which does not exist in the whole world besides. Perhaps, the union of light with the air which it pervades, is the closest that will be found in nature: but, though the light pervades every particle of the air, and dwells in it, we cannot say that the air dwells in the light. But the in-dwelling of God and his people is mutual; he abiding in them, and they in him. however, this must be understood, not as relating to the essential natures of God and man, but only to a mystical communion subsisting between them; God dwelling in them, in a way of vital operation; and they in him, in a way of implicit affiance. God has repeatedly promised that he will dwell in his people by his good Spirit; enlightening their minds, sanctifying their souls, and filling them with heavenly consolations. In truth, this is the very office which the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the ever-blessed Trinity, sustains in the economy of redemption : and it is in this way that he applies to
us all that the Lord Jesus has purchased for us. We, on the other hand, in the exercise of faith and love, ascend, as it were, to heaven, and deposit all our cares in the very bosom of our God: so that it is “not so much we that live, as Christ that liveth in us";" “our life being hid with Christ in God," and “ Christ himself being our very life b." I grant, that to a mere nominal Christian all this will appear little better than mystical absurdity, and enthusiastic jargon. But true it is, whether men will believe it or not: and, if its being incomprehensible by us be any reason for denying it, we must, on the same principle, deny the existence and operation of our souls within our corporeal frame. It is not on one or two insulated passages that this great mystery is founded: it is declared again and again, in terms too plain to be denied, and too numerous to admit of doubt..]
Nor is this a mere theory, demanding their assent: for my text further declares, II. The assured sense which they may possess of
their own personal interest in itThis mutual in-dwelling may be perceived and known: “it may be known," as the Apostle tells us, “ by the Spirit which God hath given us.” It may be known, 1. By the operation of the Holy Spirit within us
[The Holy Spirit is given unto us as "a Spirit of adoption, whereby we are enabled to cry, Abba, Fatherd.” He is given to us as a witness, to “ witness with our spirits that we are the children of Gode.” He is given to us as “ a seal'," to mark us as God's property ; and to produce such an impression on our souls, that we may know, and that others also may know, “ whose we are, and whom we serve."
He is given unto us as an earnest of our heavenly inheritance," that we may have already the foretaste of heaven in our souls. Now, how can these operations proceed within us, and we not be conscious of them? It is to no purpose to say that the world knows nothing about them: for our blessed Lord has promised, that “ he will manifest himself unto us as he does not unto the world:” and it is by these very operations that he makes to us this glorious discovery: “Lord," said one of his Apostles, “ how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, as thou dost not unto the world? And Jesus answering said - The
a Gal. ii. 20.
5 Col. iii. 3, 4.
unto him, if a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him ; and we will come unto him, and make our abode with himh.")
2. By the very works which that Holy Spirit produces in us
[David prayed, “ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."
And St. James says, spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envyk' And in this sense we may understand our text: “ We know that he abideth in us, by the spirit which he hath given us; that is, we know the cause by the effects. Now, consider the effects, as before contemplated. We perceive not only the manifestations of God's love to us, but the drawing of our souls to him; so that in the habit of our minds we are going forth to him, and delighting ourselves in him. Is this the fruit of nature ? Can it have proceeded from any power, but that of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us? Will any one see iron suspended in the air, and not refer it to the magnet? Be assured, when such an effect as this exists, we can trace it to no other source than the agency of the indwelling Spirit within us. Again; the disposition to obey the commandments of the Lord, and especially the sublime commandments of faith and love—is this of man? is the desire from man? How much less, then, can the attainment be? No, verily: “it is God who worketh in us both to will and to do of his own good pleasure:” and when we have in ourselves the evidence that we are keeping these commands," we may as well doubt who it was that formed the universe, as who the Author is of the work that has been wrought within us. We must say, “ He that hath wrought us to the self-same thing, is God'."] Permit me to IMPRESS this subject more fully upon
you, 1. In a way of complaint-
[There is great reason to complain of the world at large, for deriding these things as enthusiasm, when they will not examine the grounds on which they are founded. I will grant, that, never having experienced any thing of the kind in their own souls, they can have no just conception of them. But they might read the Scriptures: they might see what the inspired writers have spoken; and what was the recorded experience of the primitive saints. If persons in a tropical climate were to deny the existence or properties of congealed water, it would be no proof at all that there are not mountains of ice, capable of breaking, by concussion, the largest ship. As well might children deny what their fathers have known by experience, as ignorant and ungodly men denounce as visionary what truly converted characters know to be true. To those, then, who with ignorant incredulity ask, Can such things be? I would answer, with Philip to Nathanael, “ Come and seem." Come to the Holy Scriptures, and you shall find them there: and come to God himself, in the exercise of faith and love; and you shall find the experience of them in your own bosoms.] 2. In a way of caution
b John xiv. 22, 23.
i Ps. li. 10.
[There are two errors, against which I would most affectionately guard you all: the one is, against professing this assurance on inadequate grounds; and the other is, against the maintaining of this assurance in an unhallowed way. There are persons who conceive that God dwelleth in them, because they have had some dreams or visions to that effect. But I apprehend that Satan himself is not capable of suggesting any more fatal delusion than this. And I must declare unto you, that he who builds his hopes on dreams or visions, will find his hope, and his religion too, no better than a dream or vision at last. It is from the spirit that God has given us, and not from a dream or vision, that we are to gather our interest in God: and I entreat you to satisfy yourselves with no evidences, but such as are plain, obvious, incontrovertible.
There are others who, professing to have God abiding in them, manifest a spirit altogether opposite to that which would result from a divine agency—a spirit of pride and selfpreference, a spirit of moroseness and bigotry, a spirit of unwatchfulness and security. The presumptuous boldness of these persons is perfectly appalling: one is shocked to hear such unfeeling language as will proceed from their lips, and to behold such unhumbled confidence as they will venture to express. But I entreat you, brethren, never thus to pervert the word of God, and never thus to abuse the sacred truths of his Gospel. Remember, I pray you, that whatever supersedes a holy fear, is of the devil; and whatever leads you to neglect a continued watchfulness, is no other than a damning delusion.] 3. In a way of encouragement
[A person under the influence of temptation will not be able to behold in himself those evidences, which yet, in his life, are visible to all. Such an one may find in this passage nothing but an occasion of self-condemning fear. He may say, • I do not keep the commandments of God, and therefore I
m John i. 46.