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Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us
cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit....2 Cor. vii. 1. .
CLEANSE ourselves! What! was holy Paul the subject of filthiness? Yes, he as well as all the holy saints of Corinth constantly wanted cleansing by the blood of Christ : Paul again and again declares against the proud notion of sinless perfection ; he well knew that regenerating grace and adopting love, do not entirely destroy the infection of our nature ; but hereby we are brought into a holy state, we are set above the power of sin ; we hate the defilement of it, and we ever have the precious blood of the Lamb to have recourse to for cleansing from it : “the Son of God has made us free indeed.” ....John viii. 36. Free from the slavery of sin, and the bondage of the law : free to come to him that we may wash our garments and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. Do you see and bemoan that you are the subject of internal as well as external filthiness ? Should you not be ashamed that your fellow christians should know what filthy and abominable thoughts pass through your mind ? Are they not the grief of your very soul ? The Lord knows them all : he has provided and set open a precious fountain for sin and uncleanness.... Zach. xiii. 1. Believe his love : take the benefit of his Son's blood : come freely, come daily, come constantly to it by faith : wash and be clean : see the reason for this ; “having these promises : O, consider how great and precious they are. 1st. Of being temples of the living God. 2d. Of his in-dwelling presence. 3d. Of his being our God, and we his sons and daughters. 4th. Of God's receiving us, and owning us as such whenever we come to him: most powerful motives for cleansing. See, believers, your precious privileges; we are not called upon and urged to cleanse qurselves by the terrors of the law on pain of damnation. No; but as loving children in a state of salvation, under the covenant of love and grace ; nothing but great and precious promises await us from the love of God our Father, from the grace of God our Redeemer, and from the witness of God our sanctifier; and, it is by these, we are animated and excited to cleansing and purification. Would it not be a scandal, and a shame to an earthly monarch, for his children to appear in filthy garments, consort with the low and vulgar of his subjects, and give into their practices ? O, ye sons and daughters of the King of kings, consider your dignity ; act up to your high station ; adorn your profession ; walk worthy of your
Lord I've daily need of cleansing,
By thy most precious blood Filthiness of flesh and spirit .
Cleave to my ev'ry good.
Now I'm in thy new creation,
O cleanse and keep me clean;
Purge me from ev'ry stain.
Perfecting holiness in the fear of God....2 Cor. vii. 1.
Who are thus exhorted ? Saints in Christ. What for? to · labor to get perfect holiness to obtain the favor of God ? No: they
are already perfectly justified in his sight and sanctified to his glory: but some reject this ; they legalize the gospel, (if I may so speak) under a specious shëw for holiness, as though that was to procuré more for us from God than the blood and righteousness of his dear Son: this is aiming to perfect holiness, in ignorance and unbes lief ; this eclipses the glory of Christ's work for us, inverts the order of gospel oeconomý, and brings perplexity and distress upon God's children: for, this is the glory of the gospel, that moment a sinner is justified by the faith of Christ, he is sanctified by the Spirit of Christ. Our title to heaven and our meetness for glory, come to gether by the same rich grace : being brought into the sense of God's favor, we have also suitable dispositions to enjoy him. What then ? Are we to be idle in the christian life, to live and walk ac- .. cording to the course of this world, fulfiling our carnal Justs? No: . those who do, have no reason to think they possess a holy faith in a holy Jesus, or that a holy God is their father in Christ. Saint of God, thou art called to perfect holiness in the fear of God. Isto How is this to be done? By living a life of faith on the Son of God, who came to destroy the works of sin and satan, and to conform us to the image of God. We are daily to look to Christ, to be sanctification in us, as well as righteousness to us; we have daily sins to be subdued, graces to be exercised, and duties to be performed. Only the grace of Christ is sufficient for us : and hy that we are enabled to go on, perfecting holiness. It is a constant, progressive work. No one is perfect in holiness. Every saint is going on PERTECTING it to the end of life in the holy, loving fear of the Lord. 2d. Why is this to be done? It is our calling : we must follow it as our trade: the more holiness from Christ, the more happiness with him : it brings honór and glory to Christ; it proves that his religion is of a holy nature, that we possess a holy fáith, and that it works by the love of Christ in holy love to him: so it puts to silence the igno rance of foolish men by living down their carnal objection, that the doctrine of absolute, unconditional salvation leads to licéntiousness. Yet, 3d. Here is no room for legal boasting of our holiness; for “the Lord works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure," ....Phil. ii. 13. In all that we are and do, we are to follow after holiness: “Holiness to the Lord, shall be upon the bells of the horses.".... Zech. xiv. 20.
Lord daily teach me more and more, O let thy fear dwell in my heart,
Lest I should thee offend,
And hold out to the end.
Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die, be
lievest thou this? ....John xi. 26. • In great declining of strength, dejection of spirits, and in consideration of the near approach of death, these precious words of our dear Lord were brought to my mind; they were as a comforting, reviving draught to my spirits. Lord I bless thee for them. O, my soul, dwell on them. Am I a ginner born to die? Is death the wages of sin ? Must these eyes which now read thy precious sayings be soon closed by death? Must the hand which now directs this pen be shortly stiff in death? Yet dost thou my Lord say, living and be- . lieving in thee, I shall never die. Dost thou ask me, “ Believest thou this? Lord, thou who knowest all things, knowest that by thy grące I can say, THOU ART THE Son of God: thou hast fulfilled thine own promise, “O death, I will be thy plague. O grave, I will be thy destruction.”.... Hosea xiii. 14. “Death is swallowed up in victory.".... 1 Cor. xv. 54, “ Shall never die :" death has lost his form; he is changed from a substance into a SHADOW.... Psalm xxiii. 4. Only children and fools are afraid of a shadow. Glory to thee my Lord, that I am a man in understanding, and by thee am made « wise unto salvation.” Death has lost both his sting and his strength ; sin is atoned ; the law is fulfilled : I believe in thee, O Jesų, who hath done both for the victory ; 'tis mine; I have it in pozsession; thy word cannot fail ; thou hath said, “ I shall never dię.” The terrors of death are changed into the sweet composure of sleep. I shall soon fall into this precious rest, sleep in thee ; thou shalt soon wipe away all tears from mine eyes ; I shall awake with thee, and sin and sorrow shall be no more for ever. O, well mayest thou ask, “ Believest thou this ?" For in the faith of this consists all my comfort, which results in loving thee and glorifying thee in life and in death.
“ Faith works by love :" it works by the Father's everlasting love, in giving his only Son to be our Saviour: it works by the precious love of thee, thou sin-atoning, law-fulfilling, justice-satisfying, death-conquering Son of God: it works hy the love of thee, thou aqul-renewing, faith-begetting, sin-subduing spirit of holiness and truth. This is the given principle of love, which faith springs from,. lives upon, and works by : here faith is all in all; for it brings Christ and all his victories into the heart, puts death and every enemy. under our feet, silences all satan's accusations and all legal condemnations : “this is the victory, even our faith.”.... John v. 4.
O soul reviving joy of faith,
Christ lives and says, I ne'er shall die, Which lives upon my Saviour's word ! His word l'm sure he will fulfil: It triumphs o'er the pow'rs of death, He's truth itself, he cannot lie, Possest of vict'ry in my Lord... And death is subject to his will. M.
Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we con
fidence towards God.... 1 John iii. 21.
A TEXT misapplied, is like a bone out of joint, which puts the body to pain : this text may have such an effect upon the soul; for, what poor sinner is there upon earth, but his heart must condemn him for coming short of God's glory and perfect obedience to his holy law? Must he therefore give up his confidence towards God? Yes, if we so understand the text. But surely this was not the apostle's design; for this would effectually destroy love to God, and distress his dear children's souls, by taking away the comfort of faith, that there is no condemnation to them in Christ Jesus,”.... Rom. viii. 1. What meaneth he then ? Plainly to establish our hearts in the faith of God's love to us in Christ, and from this love experienced in the heart, in love to our brethren in Christ : this is an experienced truth, if faith and love abate, our hearts condemn us and our confidence towards God grows weak: in proportion to our lively faith and warm love, confidence towards God is strong.' Ist. As to Faith : the apostle calls on us.... 1 John iii. 1. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." Now, are you beholding, believing and living upon this stupenduous love of God in Christ? Are you dwelling upon it? Does it engage your attention? Does it captivate your affections ? Does it swallow up the low, mean, inordinate love of the world ? If not your heart will condemn you ; your confidence in God will abate ; you will not delight in him with the affection of a child, nor draw nigh to him with joyful gladness, as to your loving father. So, 2d. Of Love: love to the brethren of Christ the apostle is here treating of: lively faith in Christ ever begets warm love to our brethren ; then we have strong confidence towards God, that he is our loving Father and we his obedient children ; but if love be wanting, our hearts will smite and reproach us and confidence in God forsake us. See hence, that all our comforts spring from our confidence towards God, and all our distress from our hearts condemning us for want of faith and love. O, let us cry to the blessed Spirit, to enable us to live more upon the love, the matchless, everlasting, unchangeable love of God to us in Christ Jesus. Let us be thankful that he has given us feeling hearts, which are not like the wicked, hardened by the deceitfulness of sin ; but are tender, to feel the least condemnation ; and when our hearts condemn us, let us flee to our great high-priest, who is touched with a feeling of our infirmities.... Heb. iv. 15.
My heart doth oft condemn, When God condemneth not: · He justifies me in the Lamb, And all my sins doth blot.
But still he bids me care
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.... 1 Cor. x. 12.
FORMAL professors of his name are called the Lord's people, as well as those who are possessors of his love: the former for want of love to God have no zeal for his glory: hence they are careless of their walk and are liable to fall from the height of a towering profession into the bottomless pit of perdition. Possessors of God's love are also liable to fall, though not out of the hands of Christ into hell, yet into many things which may wound their souls, bring a hell into their consciences, a dishonor on the name and gospel of Christ, and give the enemies thereof an occasion to blaspheme that worthy name by which they are called. O Christians, see to your standing : you are called upon as you love your doar Saviour, as you value the peace of God, and the comfort of your souls, “to take heed lest you fall.” Be not high minded, but fear: you stand by faith. the dreadful falls of others are here set before us for ensamples, types or patterns of the awful judgment of God against sin, and as a warning to us to beware that we fall not as they did. Ist.' Into idolatry: 0, beware of sacrificing your precious time and attention to heathenish vanities. Any thing that takes your heart from God is an idol. Mixing with the wicked and profane, to partake of their carnal' joys, is a species of idolatry. You as good as say, I cannot find complete happiness in my God, therefore I seek it here: scovetousness is idolatry,"....Col. iii. 5. A covetous man seeks that in his gold which can only be enjoyed in God: be sure the anger of the Lord will smoke against such, 2d. “Fornication.” 0, beware of this gross sin of the flesh, and also of spiritual fornication against your Lord Christ. 3d. “They tempted Christ:" O, beware how you distrust the grace, power, and faithfulness of Christ to keep you and comfort you, so' as to withdraw your faith in him, hope on him, and prayer to him: or tempt him, by presuming on his power to keep you, in the midst of shares and temptations you wilfully run into. 4th.-“They murmured:” 0, watch against a spirit of dissatisfaction with the dispensations of providence, and the displays of gráce : the pride of our nature is prone to find fault with both. What caused all this? Why, 5th. “ They lusted after evil things:" this is the source and spring of every sin: •When lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin, and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death."....James i. 15. What is the sovereign antidote against all this? Standing in, and walking by the faith of the Son of God: this brings fellowship with God. Hence lust is killed in the heart, that it cannot break out into sin in the life : “Be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.".... i Pet. iv. 7.'