Imatges de pàgina
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more clearly that sin is exceeding sinful. The exhortation to submit yourselves therefore to God, is in view of pardoning mercy, offered to the guilty. But God never made the law a condition of pardon, he no more requires obedience to the moral, than he does to the Mosaic or Adamic law, as the terms of justification of a sinner. For that would be justification by works, and not by grace; but we are justified and saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast. We are exhorted to submit to God in Christ, and the act of submission is to receive Christ by faith, and to receive him in all his office3:-our all-atoning Saviour, our gracious and merciful Governor, and our final Judge.

While submission on our part is a voluntary act, it is an act in view of obtaining mercy; and the terms are dictated by infinite grace, and suited to the condition of our wretchedness. Repentance towards God was never required of unoffending and innocent beings —nor yet of those beyond the reach of mercy; of the former, it would be unnecessary; and to the latter, it would be unavailing. Therefore, repentance is granted to fallen man, as an indication of mercy—and it is perfectly suitable, that we should come to Christ with penitent and contrite hearts. So also, faith in Christ is a term or condition of our justification, and God by sovereign right, as well as in infinite grace, has made it the only condition of pardon and eternal life. He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life, he that believeth not, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.' Repentance and faith are gospel requirements, and are enjoined in view of man's salvation, adapted to the circumstance of his fallen and guilty condition, and accompanied with the promise of the remission of sins that are past. To submit, is therefore, to receive Christ and his salvation on the terms he has set forth in his gospel, and be saved in the way he has provided for us.

Submission, is not only to believe in Christ, but to do it with the heart unto righteousness. For if we would obtain eternal life, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. He is the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him. Christ hath procured our pardon by his sacrificial death-it is offered to us on terms of grace suited to our weakness and misery,—is brought nigh to us by all the persuasiveness of the love of Christ and the direct influences of the Holy Spirit. And if we are not saved it is because we receive not the love of the truth that we might be saved; or, in other words, because we will not submit ourselves to God.

SERMON IX.

ON CHRISTIAN PERFECTION.

BY REV. WILLIAM THA CHER.

OF THE NEW YORK CONFERENCE.

Let us go on unto perfection. HEBREWS vi. 1.

Not merely towards, but unto perfection: or in other words, let us be brought to this perfection. Let us, by faith, cast ourselves on the merit, on the promise, and into the arms of Jesus; and by him, be brought to perfection: with this view, we shall see it possible and easy to him that believeth. The doctrine of this text, though much opposed, presents a state of grace, the experience of which, is essential to eternal salvation; on whatsoever we rest our hope of heaven, one thing is certain, that without holiness, no man shall see the Lord.' The doctrine of Christian perfection needs but to be understood, to command the assent of every faithful believer. We shall then,

I. EXPLAIN, II. ENFORCE IT.

I. It is not Absolute Perfection that belongs only to God. It is not Adamic perfection, for in his primeval state, redemption could have no relation to man, but Christian perfection is a work of redemption. The design of Christ in dying was to redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.' Nor angelic perfection, for angels were not redeemed. It is not perfect knowledge: created beings are none of them perfect in knowledge. Nor is it a perfection which admits of no increase: for we believe our love will, even in heaven, always increase. Nor is it a state from which we cannot fall; for while we are on probation, we are capable of sinning or of obeying. Nor is it a state of freedom from temptation: for Christ was tempted-yet without sin; and we must fight the good fight of faith, to lay hold on eternal life. Nor is it a deliverance from human infirmity; for in these St. Paul said "I will most gladly glory;' and he could not glory in sin. Nor is it freedom from the cross, and cross-bearing; for Paul said, God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, who saith, whosoever doth not bear his cross, he cannot be my disciple. It doth not deliver us from a continual need of, and dependence on Christ; for as the branch is dependent on the vine, so is the holy man dependent on Christ for continual grace to live holy, for separate from him we can do nothing.' Thus for the want of understanding these negatives, many have said there is no Christian perfection on earth. We will now show what it is:

1. It is perfect faith, relying wholly on Christ: excluding unbelief relating to his merit, his love, his promise and his power: he has merited it by his death, he wills it to us - by his love, he has promised it in his word, and his power effects this great work in our hearts. 2. It is perfect love, excluding all enmity to God.

Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire besides thee. Such is the language of one enjoying perfect love. 3. It is perfect humility: excluding all pride: he says with St. Paul, To me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given.' And with the poet,

• As less than nothing in thy sight,

And feel that Christ is all in all.' None have so deep a sense of their insufficiency and helplessness as those who have that perfect love which casteth out all slavish, all tormenting fear. 4. It is perfect meekness, excluding all anger:

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you,' is a scripture that is exemplified in them—-loving their neighbor as themselves, they cannot hate any, but always try to overcome evil with good. Hence, 5, It is perfect benevolence, excluding all envy. They envy not the happier state of another, although his riches, honor, ease, gifts, usefulness or popularity surpass their own: they rejoice in the wellbeing, success or usefulness of another, even though it seem to obscure their own usefulness and acceptableness, or success in the sight of men. If envy be an enjoyment to others, they envy not even such. 6. It is perfect patience, excluding all fretfulness; they bear and forbear, when they are tried by all the nameless provocations incident to human life; and (in their patience possess they their souls.' It is in fact an exclusion of all inbred corruption, and the pure LOVE OF god filling the heart. To this state of grace the Holy Spirit bears witness in the sanctified soul: witnessing that all inbred sin is destroyed from his heart. Shining on the heart with more or less brightness, according to the strength of faith with which Jesus is held. This witness assures him that God has sanctified him wholly; love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, fidelity, meekness and temperance, Gal. v. 22., are its immediate fruits. Anoth

are the

er mode in scripture of expressing its fruits, is in I. Thess. v. 16. &c. * Rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing; In every thing give thanks. He fulfils the law of love, - Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.' He is an heir of this benediction and promise, Blessed

pure in heart, for they shall see God.' St. Paul's prayer is answered on him, “ The very God of peace sanctify you wholly.'— and the annexed promise fulfiled, Faithful is he that calleth you who also will do it.' He now feels that, the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin;' and, ' herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world; and oan say, . We have the mind of Christ.' What Jesus said, John xv. 3: 'Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you,' is true of such a person. He can truly say, 'I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life that I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God;' and he has an understanding of this text, Rom. vi. 22: “But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life;' for ' he that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself even as he is pure.' This is the perfect and upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil. Will an objector say, Can any (such) good thing come out of (Jesus of) Nazareth?'' The answer is 'Come and see' if this is not your privilege in the merit of Him who will, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will; working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ. Now let me entreat the Christian to lift his heart in praying faith, while I shall

II. ENFORCE THE TRUTH OF THIS DOCTRINE.

1. By the command of God. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy strength.' Are his commands to be slighted, or obeyed? Will he command and not give grace to perform? Impossible! Say not it is more than I can do; that would in peach his goodness, justice and truth. Say rather with St. Paul, · I can do all things, through Christ which strengtheneth me.' His grace abounds, he will enable you to obey: prayer claims the needful aid; use it perseveringly, and you shall succeed. All things are possible to him that believeth.'

2d. He promises.it: Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you— I will cause you to walk in my statutes, and keep my judgements and do them.' Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it. How shall he not with him, also, freely give us all things.' Holiness is his gift.

3d. He wills it: “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.' And his will that you should be holy, is the unavoidable consequence of his hatred to impurity; otherwise, sin would be no sin; and can he will what is impossible, and not for the best; or will that you should be what he will not make you? how palpably absurd! He certainly will give thee grace, and then glory.

4th. Your holiness was designed in the Saviour's death: "He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Does he not promise you heaven?' He cannot fulfill that promise, unless he make you holy here, which is the essential qualification for heaven. Doubt not therefore his promise, his truth, his power, the sincerity of his will, and you shall be holy here; and why not even now: the sooner his will is performed in you and by you, the more abundantly shines the triumph of grace.

5th. Consider the danger of treating this high gospel privilege with indifference: can we be indifferent to a divine command, and be guiltless? Whence the numerous herd of backsliders, but from neglecting to follow after holiness? whereas, if all believers were to pursue after this attainment, and persevere therein, where should we find a backslider? O the misery of our resting in present attainments! and that while on a race for eternal life.

6th. Shall Jesus die for us, and purchase not only our pardon, but our holiness and heaven, and hold out to us all the gospel blessings, and urge us now to receive holiness as essential to eternal life, and we be content to respect those inestimable blessings only with a cold doctrinal assent; or make but feeble effort to possess them? While his kingdom suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 0 what a proof this of our need of holiness! what an argument to awaken us to the pursuit of it! But, perhaps our greatest impediment is, our want of a clear understanding of it: sanctification is simply a cleansing from all unholy dispositions; this is its real meaning: our being filled with love, is a consequence of the destruction of this inbred sin: and then that love may increase through the remainder of life, yea, and that eternally. This cleansing by the blood of Christ, is our privilege, at any time subsequent to regeneration; which regeneration, generally accomplishes in our hearts, more destruction of the carnal mind, than remains to be done to complete the work of sanctification; and the sooner we come to Jesus to perfect this work of cleansing, the sooner it will be done. What then is to be done? Look steadfastly by faith and prayer to our crucified Lord for it. Expect it now, you will receive it by simple faith. It is Christ's own work; believe his promise, and that it is yours now, and the work shall be done. Say not I am unworthy, and therefore may not now have it, for your worthiness or unworthiness enters not

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