« AnteriorContinua »
nefs of flesh and fpirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. 2 Cor. vii, 1.-For the grace of God, that bringeth falvation, hath appeared to all men; Teaching us, that denying ungod linefs, and worldly lufts, we should live foberly, righteously, and godly in this prefent world; Looking for the bleffed hope, and glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jefus Chrift, Who gave himfelf for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Tit. ii. 11–14.
To attain unto this purity, believers will labor and ftrive, as men who run a race, or foldiers, who fight for a kingdom.---I, therefore, fo run, fays the Apoftle, not as uncertainly: fo fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into fubjection: left that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myfelf should be a caft away. 1 Cor. ix. 26, 27-This being the way to bleffednefs, purity is made the higheft object.-Believers, therefore, will deny themselves, and take up their crofs, and exercife the greatest mortification. The infinite holinels, and everlafting importance of the object in view, will fill them with the most facred concern, and their fpirits will labor within them, to be holy as God is holy, and pure as Chrift is pure. Forgetting thofe things which are behind, and reaching forth unto thofe which are before, they prefs toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Chrift Jefus.
And, thus, they do not labor in vain, for
their faith, their evidence in themselves will be brightened, their anticipation of eternal blessedness will be ftrengthened. Their path is as the fhining light, that fhineth more and more unto the perfect day; and enduring their labors and trials, until patience has had her perfecting work, they find themselves drawing on to their journey's end, to God the eternal reft and portion of their fouls; and that they have come already, as it were, to the fuburbs of Glory.
This is an overcoming faith. So great and fo defirable is the good in view, and fo fure is the believer's hold of it, that he is ⚫ armed to encounter every difficulty, and to ⚫ break through every obftruction in his way. Hope animates and fires him to the war. Oppofition does but increase his zeal. For we are faved by hope. Rom. viii. 24. When nothing less than eternal glory is the object ' to be obtained; the infurrection of enemies;
like the kings of Canaan against Joshua, ⚫ combined to fruftrate his enjoyment of the promised inheritance; far from difcouraging, befpeaks the importance of the good in purluit, and ftimulates to perfeverence.Though our conflict be sharp, long and trying, yet we shall endure to the end, that we may be faved, rejoicing in hope of the glory of God. And not only fo, but we glory in tribulations alfo, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience hope. Rom. v. 3.-This conftraining hope, though it have every thing to try it, in a long and dangerous march, through a
land of foes; every where infefted with fie ry ferpents, and braved with hunger and thirst, and with the fcorning of many; this hope prompts now, as it did Caleb and Jolhua, to follow the Lord wholly.'
This is very different from the hope of one, who, having put his hand to the plough, looketh back; or, the anticipation of the Ifraelites, who, upon the fhore of the Red Sea, believed God's words, and fang his praise; but foon forgat his works, and waited not for his counfel; or as, at Sinai, they faid, All that the Lord bath faid will we do and be obedient, but looked back into Egypt, and fell in the wilderness. One, whofe hope is ill-founded; when he comes to the up-hill labor, and the patient sustaining of the trial of faith, is likely to feel little zeal for enduring hardship, and will fhun the crofs.-He may, for a feafon, rejoice in the light of truth; neverthelefs, when tribulation or perfecution arifeth, becaufe of the word, by and by, he is offended.This man, whofe heart departeth from the Lord, fhall be like the beath in the defert, and fhall not fe when good cometh, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a falt land and not inhabited. Jer. xvii, 6.-But, Bleffed is the man that trufleth in the Lord, and whofe hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not fee when beat cometh, but her leaf fhail be green, and fhall not be careful in the year of drought, neither fhall ceafe from yielding fruit. Jer. xvii. 7,8.
The truth of the kingdom of Jefus Chrift and his faints, is the good man's hope fet be fore us in the gospel; Which hope we have as an anchor of the foul, both fure and ftedfaft, and which entereth into that within the vail. Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Fejus, made an high-priest for ever after the order of Melchifedec. Heb. vi. 19, 20.- Jefus, 'the forerunner, within the vail, in the hea-.
vens, does, in his prieftly office, take hold of 'God's covenant, and intercedes, that on the account of his doing the work of redemp'tion, his people may be with him where he is, that they may behold his glory. His intercellion, founded upon this work, takes hold of the promife of a feed made to the Son, as the anchor takes hold of the ooze, at the bottom of the fea, and fecures the fhip from the power of the florm.'-And the believer, anticipating this ftrength of Chrift, holds faft the confidence, and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Heb. iii. 6.-Now the just jhall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my foul fhall have no pleasure in him.The juft fhall live by faith; and by perfe vering in grace, he is diftinguifhed from the hypocrite, and is proved to be, not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe, to the faving of the foul. Heb. x. 39. And, rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing inftant in prayer, he has comfort as an heir of promife. The righteous, also, shall hold on his way, and be that bath clean hands fhall be Aronger and fronger. Job xvii. 9.
Section 4. Juftification by Faith. The view of the fubject of juftification, which is prefented in this connexion, is very comprehensive, and embraces the ground, generally, of our pardon and acceptance with God, together with our adoption and fanctification, or, our being fet apart for himself; and, finally, of our glorification.This ground, according to Paul's doctrine, is faith. Where is boating then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.-Therefore, we conclude, that a man is juftified by faith without the deeds of the law. Romans iii, 27, 28.-Seeing it is one God, which fhall juftify the circumcifion by faith, and the uncircumcifion through faith, verfe 30.-Therefore, being juftified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jefus Chrift. Rom. v. 1.-The jcripture, forefeeing that God would juftify the heathen through faith, preached the gospel unto Abraham, Jaying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. Gal. iii. 8.-Wherefore the law was our school-mafter, to bring us to Chrift, that we might be justified by faith, verle 24.
It has always been found that men are prone to felf-righteoufnefs; they make their own righteousness the ground of their dependence, as naturally as water runs down. hill; hence, they have unceasingly attempted to pervert the golpel, by fubftituting the late