Imatges de pÓgina

or righteousness of any kind, he comes to God, as a lost, miserable, self-destroyed, self-condemned, undone, helpless sinner; as one whose mouth is utterly stopped, and who is altogether "guilty before God." Such a sense of sin (commonly called despair, by those who speak evil of the things they know not) together with a full conviction, such as no words can express, that of Christ only cometh our salvation, and an earnest desire of that salvation, must precede a living faith: a trust in him, who, " for us, paid our ransom by his death, and for us fulfilled the law in his life." This faith then, whereby we are born of God, is "not only a belief of all the Articles of our Faith, but also a true confidence of the mercy of God, through our Lord Jesus Christ."

4. An immediate and constant fruit of this faith, whereby we are born of God, a fruit which can in no wise be separated from it, no, not for an hour, is power over sin: power over outward sin, of every kind; over every evil word and work; for, wheresoever the blood of Christ is thus applied, it "purgeth the conscience from dead works:" and over inward sin; for it purifieth the heart from every unholy desire and temper. This fruit of faith St. Paul has largely described, in the sixth chapter of his epistle to the Romans. "How shall we," saith he, "who (by faith) are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Our old man is crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.-Likewise, reckon ye yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin, therefore, reign even in your mortal body, but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead. For sin shall not have dominion over you.-God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin,-But being made free;"-the plain meaning is, God be thanked, that though ye were in time past the servants of sin, yet now "being free from sin, ye are become the servants of righteousness.'

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5. The same invaluable privilege of the sons of God, is as strongly asserted by St. John; particularly, with regard to the former branch of it, namely, power over outward sin.


After he had been crying out, as one astonished at the depth of the riches of the goodness of God, " Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! Beloved, now are we the sons of God and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know, that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is," 1 John iii. 1, &c.; he soon adds, "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," ver. 9. But some men will say, "True: whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin habitually.' Habitually! whence is that? I read it not. It is not written in the Book. God plainly saith, "He doth not commit sin." And thou addest, habitually! Who art thou that mendest the Oracles of God? That "addest to the words of this Book?" Beware, I beseech thee, lest God "add to thee, all the plagues that are written therein!" Especially when the comment thou addest is such, as quite swallows up the text : so that by this μεθοδεια πλανης, this artful method of deceiving, the precious promise is utterly lost; by this xuße av@gwnw, this tricking and shuffling of men, the Word of God is made of none effect. O beware, thou that thus takest from the words of this book, that taking away the whole meaning and spirit from them, leavest only what may indeed be termed a dead letter, lest God take away thy part out of the Book of Life!

6. Suffer we the Apostle to interpret his own words, by the whole tenor of his discourse. In the fifth verse of this chapter, he had said, "Ye know that he [Christ] was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin." What is the inference he draws from this? "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him," ch. iii. 6. To his enforcement of this important doctrine, he premises an highly necessary caution: "Little children, let no man deceive you," ver. 7. (For many will endeavour so to do; to persuade you that you may be unrighteous, that you may commit sin, and yet VOL. VII. S

be children of God.) "He that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning." Then follows, "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. In this," adds the Apostle, "the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil." By this plain mark (the committing or not committing sin) are they distinguished from each other. To the same effect are those words in his fifth chapter, "We know that whosoever is born of God, sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one touched him not," ver. 18.

7. Another fruit of this living faith is Peace. For, "being justified by faith," having all our sins blotted out, "we have Peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ," Rom. v. 1. This indeed our Lord himself, the night before his death, solemnly bequeathed to all his followers. "Peace," saith he, "I leave with you;" (you who believe in God, and believe also in me;)" my peace I give unto you." "Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid," John xiv. 27. And, again, "These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace," ch. xvi. 33. This is that "peace of God, which passeth all understanding,” that serenity of soul, which it hath not entered into the heart of a natural man to conceive, and which it is not possible for even the spiritual man to utter. And it is a peace which all the powers of earth and hell are unable to take from him. Waves and storms beat upon it, but they shake it not; for it is founded upon a Rock. It keepeth the hearts and minds of the children of God, at all times and in all places. Whether they are in ease or in pain, in sickness or in health, in abundance or want, they are happy in God. In every state they have learned to be content, yea, to give thanks unto God through Christ Jesus: being well assured, that “whatsoever is, is best;" because it is his will concerning them.

So that in all the vicissitudes of life, their "heart standeth fast, believing in the Lord."

II. 1. A second scriptural mark of those who are born of God is Hope. Thus St. Peter, speaking to all the children of God, who were then scattered abroad, saith, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope," I Pet. i. S. Exida ¿woar, a lively or living Hope, saith the Apostle: because there is also a dead hope, (as well as a dead faith), a hope which is not from God, but from the enemy of God and man; as evidently appears by its fruits: for, as it is the offspring of pride, so it is the parent of every evil word and work; whereas, every man that hath in him this living hope, is "holy as he that calleth him is holy:" every man that can truly say to his brethren in Christ, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and we shall see him as he is, purifieth himself, even as he is pure.


2. This hope, termed in the epistle to the Hebrews, chap. x. 22, πληροφορια πιστεως, and elsewhere, πληροφορια Eλid, chap. vi. 11, (in our translation," the full assurance of faith, and the full assurance of hope;" expressions the best which our language could afford, although far weaker than those in the original), as described in Scripture, implies, First, The testimony of our own spirit or conscience, that we walk ❝ in simplicity and godly sincerity :?? but, Secondly and chiefly, The testimony of the Spirit of God, bearing witness with, or to, our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ."


3. Let us well observe, what is here taught us by God himself, touching the glorious privilege of his children. Who is it, that is here said to bear witness? Not our spirit only, but another; even the Spirit of God: he it is who "beareth witness with our spirit." What is it, he beareth witness of?"That we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ,'


Rom. viii. 16, 17," if so be that we suffer with him, (if we deny ourselves, if we take up our cross daily, if we cheerfully endure persecution or reproach for his sake), that we may also be glorified together." And in whom doth the Spirit of God bear this witness? In all who are the children of God. By this very argument does the Apostle prove in the preceding verses that they are so: "As many (saith he) as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." "For ye have not received the Spirit of Bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father!" It follows, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God," ch. viii. 11, 15, 16.

4. The variation of the phrase in the 15th verse, is worthy our observation. "Ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father!" Ye, as many as are the sons of God, have, in virtue of your sonship, received that self-same Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. We, the Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, (for so the word may not improperly be understood), we, through whom you have believed, the "Ministers of Christ, and Stewards of the mysteries of God." As we and you have one Lord, so we have one Spirit: as we have one Faith, so we have one Hope also. We and you are sealed with one Spirit of Promise, the earnest of yours and of our inheritance: the same Spirit bearing witness with yours and with our spirit," that we are the children of God.”

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5. And thus is the Scripture fulfilled, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." For it is easy to believe, that though sorrow may precede this witness of God's Spirit with our spirit, (indeed must, in some degree, while we groan under fear, and a sense of the wrath of God abiding on us,) yet, as soon as any man feeleth it in himself, his "sorrow is turned into joy.", Whatsoever his pain may have been before, yet, as soon as that " hour is come, he remembereth the anguish no more, for joy" that he is born of God. It may be, many of you have now sorrow, because you are "aliens from the common-wealth of Israel;"

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