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Keep up the dignity of your heavenly calling; and, by virtue-derived from the cross, preserve unsullied the rank and character of the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus.
On this interesting subject, which deeply affects the honour of christianity, you must bear the vehemence of . exhortation, and learn to hold faith and a good conscience, which some having put away concerning faith, have made shipwreck. A good conscience is an excellent bosom friend; and to contend with the world, without losing it in the world, is an honourable warfare, or rather, a glorious victory. In this warfare Paul exercised himself to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward man; and, in the face of his riotous countrymen, says, "I have lived in all good conscience before God un"til this day." We beseech you, brethren, to endeavour, by the grace of God, to convince men of the world that, in your rank and character, conscience is ruled by the law of Christ and the virtue of his cross, and that conscience, purged by his blood and governed by his law, governs you in everything. Though they are alienated, and by wicked works enemies of his cross in our part of the world, where their enmity is disarmed by law, and chained by providence, christians, who hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience, are not without professions of veneration and esteein among them; whereas those who put away a pure conscience, and pretend, notwithstanding, to hold the mystery of the faith, are universally despised.
"Take heed and beware of covetousness." In your state and rank, of which the mutual crucifixion of the world unto you and of you unto the world, by the operation of the virtue of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, is a peculiarity, covetousness is as the sin of witchcraft, and the love of money is as iniquity and idolatry. Inordinate affection, the drag-chain of the world, is supposed, in your state, to be deprived of its power by the virtue of the cross. But if, instead of withdrawing yourselves, which is an instruction to Timothy, you should join yourselves with men who suppose gain to be godliness, shipwreck concerning faith and a good conscience may be apprehended. "Godliness, with contentment, is great gain. For we "brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment, let us be there with content. But they who will be rich, fall
#into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and "hurtful-lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdi❝tion. For the love of money is the root of all evil, which, "while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, "and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.' These fatal effects of inordinate affection to the world, ou some of the ministry of that day, are recorded for our admonition, and for exciting us to guard against their destructive cause. "Mortify, therefore, your earthly mem"bers, and particularly covetousness, which is idolatry." By profession ye are crucified and dead with Christ unto the world, and though remains of life to it are in some of your members, the triumphant virtue of his cross, and the almighty power of his Spirit, apprehended and improved by faith, will weaken the strength of their life until the dissolution of your body, when, under the operation of this virtue, and the working of the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, conformation to him shall be perfected, and crucifixion unto the world completed and accomplished.
Professors, who are not in Christ Jesus, nor by the vir tue of his cross crucified unto the world, we exhort to consider and believe the declarations of scripture concerning the sinfulness and misery of their state, and the way of deliverance out of it by receiving and resting upon Jesus Christ for salvation, freely offered to the world in the glorious gospel of the grace of God. Till ye believe in Christ, that ye may be justified by the faith of Christ, ye are not only destitute of life, righteousness, and strength, but under the curse which is in force against your state, and will vex and harrass your persons with its operations as long as you live, and throw your soul into the dungeon of eternal misery when you die. Made sinners by the disobedience of one who represented all, you are guilty before God of his first transgression, and guilty of innumerable transgressions in your own persons. Unless you deny the words and the meaning of Scripture, you must acknowledge the truth of both these charges. If their truth be acknowledged, what can transgressors and children of transgression do? Deeds of the law cannot justify transgressors of the law: The arms of a mighty man cannot save perishing sinners, nor the riches of a wealthy man redeem a sout from the everlasting misery.
"But what the law could not do, in that it was weak, "through the flesh God hath done" by another expedient, even "by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful "flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh, that the "righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk "not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." This righteousness, which glorifies the perfections of God, and establishes the honor of his law, his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, finished in his death on the cross; and, through it, the ministry of reconciliation, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, preaches salvation to every creature. Unto the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, sinful, guilty, and condemned creatures should look for this comprehensive blessing. Faith, which receives it, is the gift of God, the work of the spirit; and their exercise and repentance, which accompanies the receiving of it, is the gift of Christ, the fruit of his Spirit, and the exercise of their souls.Though of yourselves you are not able to believe and repent, the use of the outward means of faith and repentance is the duty of every hearer of the gospel. To es cape his wrath and curse due to all men for sin, God requireth of you faith in Jesus Christ, repentance unto life, with the diligent use of all the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption.'— Consider this, O perverse and negligent sinners! consider it in the light of Scripture, with reverence and seriousness, and cease not to pray, day and night, that, according to the riches of his glory, through the cross of Christ, God would "fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and "the work of faith with power. That the name of our "Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord 'Jesus Christ.” Amen.
CHRIST LIVING BY THE FATHER, AND BELIEVERS
LIVING BY CHRIST.
JOHN vi. 57.
As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Fathers so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
"AND thou Capernaum, which art exalted unto^ "heaven, shall be brought down to hell; for if the mighty "works which have been done in thee had been done in "Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I "say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable for the land "of Sodom, in the day of judgment, than for thec." "Go "ye now into my place, which was in Shiloh, where I set "my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wick"edness of my people Israel." Go ye now unto Capernaum, where the Lord our righteousness preached, and wrought many mighty works, and see what hath been done for impenitence and unbelief. Go ye now unto Jerusalem, where he commanded the apostles to begin the ministry of reconciliation, and see what hath been done for rejecting the Saviour of the world, and resisting his Holy Spirit. And who knows but that, some generations after this, it will be said, Go ye now unto Tiviotdale, and Jedburgh, where the gospel was long preached, and see what hath been done for despising the counsel of God, resisting the Spirit of truth, contemning the Saviour of the world, and neglecting the means of salvation through his blood and name.
In the synagogue of Capernaum, the discourse, of which our text is a part, was delivered. The perverseness of opposition to his ministry never disconcerted the wisdom of the Son of God, nor stopped the current of instruction that flowed from his lips. Instead of being diconcerted by the contradiction of sinners, he laid hold upon it, and, with meekness of wisdom, converted it into an occasion of in
struction. Many entertained an high opinion of his power and goodness, from the refreshment which he had miraculously provided for their bodies the day before.When they had seen the miracle which he did, in satisfying the hunger of five thousand men with five barley loaves and two small fishes, they said, "This is of a truth that pro"phet who should come into the world." Under the influence of this opinion, they followed him to Capernaum, and crowded into the synagogue, where they understood he would preach. Knowing that the loaves was their motive, our Lord charged them with it, and took occasion to recommend spiritual food. "Verily, verily, I say unto "you, Ye seek me not because ye saw the miracles, but "because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled. Labour "not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which "endureth unto everlasting life." Irritated at these seasonable and gracious words, they insinuated that a few loaves for one day was no great affair, since Moses had fed their fathers forty years in the wilderness with manna; and quoted scripture for it, "As it is written, He gave "them bread from heaven to eat."
Upon the mentioning of the manna, our Lord took hold of it, recommended himself as the bread of life, of which the manna was a figure, and set the necessity of eating him, which he explained to signify believing on him in a strong fight. "The bread of God is he who cometh down from "heaven, and giveth life unto the world. I am the bread "of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he "that believeth on me shall never thirst." Having no relish for this sublime doctrine, some of them were dissatisfied to hear one who had been born among themselves say he came down from heaven. "The Jews then murmur"ed at him, because he said, I am the bread which came "down from heaven." Instead of introducing another subject, or changing the terms in which he had expressed himself, Jesus maintained that he was "the living bread "which came down from heaven;" and that the bread of which he spake was "his flesh, which he would give for "the life of the world." Provoked at these gracious words, his adversaries lost patience and decency, and turned them into ridicule. "The Jews therefore, strove among "themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to Keat?" But with fervour and boldness, proportioned to the