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INSTRUCTIONS. By reading, meditation, and prayer, endeavour to understand, to believe, to acknowledge, and to use every way, in your conversations, the testimony which God hath given to the operations of the power and love of his Son, in our nature, upon the cross.-1st, Endeayour to understand this testimony. The operations of the power and love of the Lord our Righteousness, on the cross, which the testimony exhibits, are mysterious and incomprehensible; but the testimony to them is plain. Though you already understand part of it, you do not understand the whole, nor any part clearly and fully. Use every mean to understand it better.--With respect to means, we are not unfurnished. Prophecies, prefigurations, and histories of his crucifixion, and illustrations of the glory of the mystery of it, all confirmed with signs and wonders, and all in the hand-writing and style of his spirit, are before us, and inviting, and commanding, and furnishing us to search for the knowledge of Christ as for silver, and to dig for it as for hid treasures.2dly, Endeavour to believe this testimony. You believed it in the day of power, when it pleased God to reveal his Son in you; but among those in whom the Son is revealed, believing ought to be the exercise of every day. In the dialect of christians, the life of faith is a common and familiar expression. How is this life maintained? by what food is it nourished, strengthened, refreshed? Does it live by its endeavours to live or derive subsistence from its own operations? In these there is no nourishment. By eating such unwholesome fruit, Christians fall into consumptions and disorders which bring them to the gates of death.The object of faith, in the testimony of God, is the bread of life; and in believing this testimony, the believer lives upon the Son of God, the object whom the testimony reveals. Believe firmly, humbly, daily, and every hour of the day, this testimony which God hath given to his Son.All that prophecy testifies, and sacrifice prefigures; all that history records, and the ministry of reconciliation preaches, concerning the divinity of his person, the rightcousness of his life, the fellowship of his sufferings, the operations of his death, the power of his resurrection, and the glory of his life and reign-all is worthy of accepta tion, good for food, and much to be desired to make one cheerful, healthy, and wise. 3dly, Endeavour to acknowledge this testimony to the divinity of the person,
and the riches of the glory of the mystery of the crucifix-. ion, of the Son of God. Before our text, the Apostle discovers to the Colossians an holy anxiety to establish them and others in the faith, and help them up to this high attainment in the profession of it. "I would that ye knew "what great conflict I have for you and for them-That "their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in "love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of under"standing, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of "God, and of the Father, and of Christ, in whom all the "treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid." The glory of his person, and the ignominy of his cross, form the mystery of godliness, which it pleased the Father to hide from the wise and prudent, and reveal unto babes; and his testimony concerning it, confirmed with signs and wonders of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will, is true and worthy of all acceptation. This testimony churches and Christians should believe with their hearts, and ac-knowledge humbly, boldly, and openly, in their profession before the world. Be not ashamed to acknowledge what the Father hath testified with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, and what he hath ordained the ministry of reconciliation to preach concerning the riches of the glory of the godhead of his Son, and the mystery of the glory of his cross. Instead of being ashamed, we wish every hearer to be able to say for himself, "God forbid that I should "glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by "whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the "world.”—4thly, Endeavour to use this testimony every way in your conversations. We would that ye knew our labour, our striving, our anxiety for you, with respect to this instruction. In extracting from the testimony, and laying before you the particulars of the history of principalities and powers, the descriptions of the person of the Son of God, who broke these adversaries, the operations of his power against them on the cross, and the mystery of the glory of these operations, our design is not to blow up the vanity of the mind with objects of speculation, but to fill the treasury of the heart with principles of action. In the Epistle to the Colossians, Paul hath left us an example. After describing the person of the Son of God, and the riches of the glory of his cross, he warns them against a vain and false philosophy, calls them to action,
and summons every believer to appear in his place, and to work righteousness with both hands earnestly—to seek, to set, to mortify, to put off, and to put on, as the elect of God; to teach and admonish one another, in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs; to continue instant in prayer, and fervent in the duties of every relation, doing all in the name of the Lord Jesus, and giving thanks to God and the Father by him. Wherefore, my brethren, after the example of this holy man, and according to the commandment of the everlasting God, we call every believer to appear in his place, and in the vigour of his principles, to put hand to works of faith and labours of love. Gratitude; hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! gratitude to the Son of God, who in our nature, on the cross, spoiled principalities and powers, and triumphed over these adversaries; gratitude to the Son of God, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from the curse of the law, and from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works; gratitude to Him is uttering her voice, and, under his love and authority, crying in the ear of the church, Renounce the idols of the heart, mortify the members of the body, deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, put off the old man with his deeds, forsake the way of the wicked, the foolishness of fools, and the fellowship and company of evil-doers, and do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God. Grant unto us, O Lord, "that "we, being delivered out of the "hand of our enemies, may serve thee without fear, in ho"liness and righteousness before thee all the days of our "life."
CONSOLATION. Walk round these monuments of the power and vengeance of the Son of God, which rise before you in scripture, and read, consider, and believe, the inscriptions which preserve the memory of his operations in our nature. Observe that particular inscription which faces the world in our Text, and encourage yourselves and one another, under the opposition of the world, the remains of sin, the suggestions of temptation, the fears of death, and the powers which stand in the way of the glory of his kingdom, in the latter day.-1st, Encourage yourselves and one another under the opposition of the world. Through the death of the Son of God the world is over
come and crucified. Before his crucifixion, he said to his disciples, "In the world ye shall have tribulation; but be "of good cheer, I have overcome the world."* Notwithstanding his victory and triumph over this enemy, the visible opposition to his interest, which rose in paradise, is not dissolved. In rude and barbarous ages, his people were attacked, for his sake, by tribulations, distresses, persecutions, reproaches, fines, imprisonments, and all that is terrible to flesh and blood in dying. But these, and the less violent methods by which this opposition is maintaining itself at present, are only the struggles of a deadly-wounded monster; and, as the mouth of the church, and with the victory of the cross in his eye, Paul gives a defiance to. this formidable enemy. "Who-who shall separate us from "the love of Christ? Tribulation, or distress, or persecu"tion, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"-shall these separate us?-"Nay, in all these we are more than "conquerors, through him that loved us.' "To him that "overcometh will I grant to eat of the tree of life, which "is in the midst of the paradise of God." But who is he that overcometh the world? He who believeth that Jesus is the Son of God. And what is the victory that overcometh the world? Our faith in the death of Jesus, who is the Son of God, and who overcame and broke the power of this enemy.-2dly, Under the remains of sin. In our nature, and in our stead, the Son of God his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sin, free from its guilt and dominion, should live unto rightcousness. "With him our old man is crucified, that the "body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should "not serve sin." His triumph over principalities and powers is a triumph over all the works also of these adversaries, and particularly over sin, by which their chief spoiled the glory of our nature. Our old man therefore is a crucified power; and, though there is still life in its body, yet as surely as virtue and efficacy exist in the cross of Christ, this evil-doer shall die, and all its principles, lusts, members, and works, shall be rooted up, and cast out of the new creation. Stand fast in your liberty, Believers, and, as men in arms against this expiring tyranny, go on conquering and to conquer. "O wretched man that I am, who shall delt
John xvi. 33.
"ver me from the body of this death? I thank God, through "Jesus Christ our Lord," he, even he shall deliver me.3dly, Under the suggestions of temptation. With respect to you, the reigning and tormenting tyranny of our adversary, the devil, is crushed for ever as a minister of the curse. But for a season the power of tempting is left in him, and as a roaring lion he walketh daily about, seeking whom he may devour. But can this roaring and abominable spirit devour within the boundary of the covenant? Behold marks of vengeance in his vitals. The bruises in his head are incurable, nor can his whole kingdom afford a roller to bind them up. As surely as vengeance and fury exist in the vindictive and triumphant cross, this adversary shall be bruised shortly under your feet. "Say to them "that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not; behold "your God will come with vengeance, even God with a re"compense, he will come and save you." Against his wiles, doublings, and deceits, his falsehoods, fury, darts, and blasphemies, hold up the shield of faith, and depend upon being succoured by him who endured temptation, and bruised the tempter. "For in that he himself hath suffer"ed being tempted, he is able to succour them who "are tempted." To his ability add the consideration of his faithfulness. "God is faithful, who will not suffer you "to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the "temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be "able to bear."-4thly, Under the fears of death. Fears of this enemy are bodily weaknesses, and penal torments. Death breaks down our constitution, and divides the one half of our nature from the other. Fear of it is unavoidable, and, like weariness, sickness, or pain, annexed to our present state of mortality. According to the quality of those humours which prevail in the body, the uneasiness of this infirmity is more or less troublesome. Death turned into gain, through the death of Christ, encourages believers to bear up under it; nor should any of these allow themselves to be depressed and overcome by the strength of this weakness. But as a torment, fear of death is an impression and operation of the curse upon guilty consciences, and, with respect to them who are redeemed from the curse and delivered from guilt, a false alarm rung by their
* Isa. xxxv. 4. † Heb. ii. 18.
1 Cor. x. 15.