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appearance in all the wicked to condemnation; this is no less than at once avowing that they themselves know him not. They talk of him as at a distance, as if they knew him by the scriptures only after the flesh; he was once known after the flesh, "yet now henceforth know ye him no more," said the apostle, and himself said, "He dwelleth with you and shall be in you." John xiv. 17.
"Behold I stand at the door and knock!" Is this only through the scriptures? By no means, it is universal, at the door of all hearts, in all ages of the world. Burn the Bible and he still will knock. Though we heartily bless God for the use of the scriptures, in our own language, and are highly edified and comforted in reading them, when opened by the light of Christ, but we may be deprived of these. Many good Christians have been so all the days of their lives, and many others for many years, by one circumstance or other; but no man, no circumstance, or complication of circumstances, can deprive us, if we love God, of the true light that enlightens all. A light to lighten the very Gentiles, and the true glory of God's inward Israel; yea, in them the very hope of their glory. And it is in order that he may come in and sup with them, and they with him, and thus become the hope of their glory too, that he knocks at the doors of all, who have not yet opened to him, nor received him.
There is a vast difference between his indwelling in those who have willingly received him, in the way of his coming, in whom he has taken up his abode,-and the manner of his being, appearing, and knocking in those who do all they can to get rid of him, keep him out, and stifle his convictive voice and knockings. So that, though he must be really in all such in a certain sense and manner, at whose doors he knocketh, for his knocking is not an external thing or act, it is called knocking to convey the idea of his striving, in love to the soul, so to come into full possession of the heart and affections, as cordially and joyfully to sup with the soul, and the soul with him; yet, I say, though he is and must be really in all, in a true sense, at whose hearts he thus knocketh, still this hinders not but that he does truly "come in" to those who open to him.
He is in all; and if it were not so, he could not by his light
be the condemnation of sinners, but he is not in their affections, nor their guide in their actions; and this is the entrance which he delights in, and is knocking and pleading for, and until he obtains it in good degree, he cannot be their actual saviour, or their hope of glory.
Thus we see he is all in all, both in condemnation and justification; for being in all, such as are governed by his holy influence must unavoidably feel peace and reconciliation; whilst such as strive against him, resist his spirit, and do despite thereunto, must as unavoidably feel condemnation. Thus he is a flaming sword, turning every way to guard the tree of life, against all that have any thing in them, that wars against the life of the Lamb, in their own souls.
The Lamb, or in other words, the life of the Lamb, is the tree of life that grows in the midst of the paradise of God, for the healing of the nations. Nothing can heal the nations, but Christ the Lamb. He is the life, he is the healer, the binder up; "I wound and I heal, I kill and make alive." This Christ the life, may say in regard to the work of life in every true Christian; something in depraved man must be wounded and slain, and something in him must be healed and made alive, before he can live to God in that life that is hid with Christ in God. Now, what can kill, but he that can bind the strong man, and cast him out, and spoil his goods; he that can finish sin and make an end of transgression? And then, who or what can make alive, but he that brings in everlasting righteousness instead thereof? And if this be so, then it is clear that Christ the light, the life, the tree of life, the bread of life, the righteousness and justification of him that believes in the light, and so becomes a child of the light, is also the condemnation of him that believes not in, but rebels against the light. And there is no getting rid of this condemnation, but by wholly submitting to the ministration thereof; if it be rightly submitted to, with full purpose of heart, to bear the indignation of the Lord, because the soul has sinned against him, it will in due time be clearly seen, how it is that the ministration even of condemnation is glorious; and that because being rightly endured, it leads the soul directly on to the ministration of justification, which is much more glorious.
Here the poor, tried, but submitting soul, even in the very agonies of extreme condemnation and righteous judgment, still says, with Job, "though he slay me, yet will I trust in him;" and with Peter, or the disciples, "to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." Here a hope takes place, that he who kills will make alive; and this hope was never yet disappointed in any, who have rightly endured the day of the Lord's indignation and fierce wrath against sin; for this, rightly endured, never fails to destroy the devil and all his works; thoroughly, not in part only, but thoroughly to cleanse the floor of the heart. This slays the enmity; here the life is lost, is slain, and crucified, on the cross of Christ; and this soul must and will live; nor can all the gates of death prevail against his life in God; he thus abiding in the death and loss of his own life.
This is salvation by Christ; this is being saved by his life: it is immutably ordained, "he that will save his life, shall loose it." There is a great ado about imputation of Christ's righteousness to souls defiled with, and living in sin; but the life in sin, yea, the very life of sin, must be lost, or else eternal life will be lost. It is the very doctrine of him, whom many are striving to make to "serve with their sins," and as a "cloak for their sins," by imputation; though himself has declared, that now he has come and done what he has," they have no cloak for their sins."
The doctrine of imputation, rightly understood, is very precious to the true believer in Christ; though he knows it belongs not to a state of present sinfulness, but to those who are washed and made clean, and to no soul any whit further than he is so, really so. This soul feels the blessed benefit of imputation, and of non-imputation also. This is the blessed man to whom the Lord will not impute sin; no, he forgives his sins. Here is the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance and mercy of God in Christ; here his former sins are covered, as it were, or blotted out, or passed by; here he is reconciled to God by the death of his son; the mighty, immense score of his old sins, however formidable, is not equal to the love of God in Christ, and so is not suffered to prevent his being saved by the life of Christ. Indeed, every soul that is saved, is saved by his life
inwardly revealed; for though the reconciliation to God in regard to past offences is, and must be by the death of Christ, and that not without our being buried with him by baptism into real death to sin, filling up what remains behind of his sufferings, yet the joy of God's salvation is only known in and by the life of Christ in man, Christ in us the hope of glory. He that rightly believes in Christ, not every historical believer, not every one that believes with man's faith, or the faith of the creature, but every one who believes with that faith, which is livingly felt to be of the operation of God, "out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters." This Christ has promised; it cannot fail. Every true believer witnesseth it; it is in him a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life. He can say, "Spring up, O well!"—he can sing livingly unto it: here is the new song, the song of salvation. This is being saved by the life of Christ. These can never despise the doctrine of imputation in its true meaning; they bow down before the throne of the Lamb forever; they acknowledge the remission of their manifold sins; they give, they sing glory to God on high, in that he so loved us, that he gave his only begotten son for us; they ascribe their reconciliation wholly to Christ, but can never be such idle dreamers, as to imagine that he saves people in their sins, or that his merits are imputed to such as are daily crucifying him in the spirit, so as to justify them in the sight of God.
IT is by some believed, that none can fall from a state of grace, so as not to be finally restored, or saved. I think this opinion contrary to scripture, and very dangerous to mankind; and therefore, however some very sincere hearted Christians may believe it, I hope none will be offended at the following remarks.
Christ hath said, "Every branch in me that bringeth forth fruit, my Father purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit." John xv. 2. And on the other hand, of every branch that bringeth not forth fruit, he testifieth "that he taketh it away." Now I ask, What is meant by taking it away? Christ is the vine, his members are the branches, and none are branches in him, but such as are really his members, for he exhorts them to abide in him--"Every branch in me," &c.
It seems, therefore, clear, that taking away, is separating from Christ the vine;-certainly taking away is a removal. From what then, or from whom removed, if not from Christ? Could any other removal, or taking away, than a separation from him, a removal from a place, or state of ingraftment into, and dwelling, or abiding in him the vine, have been meant, or spoken of by our Lord in this place, and on this subject?
It must be this or nothing. And this is agreeable to Paul's testimony, Rom. xi. 17 to 22, where speaking of such Gentiles. as were truly grafted into Christ, partook of the fatness of him, the true olive-tree, and so stood by faith, the apostle was yet so far from supposing that they would certainly and unavoidably persevere, so as finally to be saved, that he pressingly exhorts them thus: "Thou standest by faith; be not high-minded, but fear; for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed