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FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
1 Peter iji. 15.
BUT SANCTIFY THE LORD GOD IN YOUR
True religion denotes the restoration of fallen man to the favour of God, bringing him back from the error of his ways, and binding him again as it were under the obligations which he owes to his Creator. All religions but the Christian fail of attaining this object. Divine revelation alone informs us of the real state of mankind in consequence of sin ; shows us our utter alienation of mind and estrangement from God, our total corruption and depravity; and points out in Christ Jesus, our Redeemer and Mediator, a full and complete remedy; whereby our sin may be pardoned, and we may be recon
ciled to God, restored to His favour, enjoy His protection and blessing here on earth, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God hereafter. True religion, wherever it exists, has its commencement in the heart. It is first an internal principle. According to the language of the text, the Lord God is sanctified in the heart in the first instance. He is regarded as the object of supreme affection. And then its influence appears in the life and conduct, which is conformed to the revealed will of Him whose supremacy is acknowledged and desired. The religion of Christ shows us also where help may be obtained, to enable a fallen creature to live and walk according to the will of God, by making known the Holy Spirit as the Teacher and Sanctifier of all those who seek for the pardon of their sins past, and for reconciliation with God, through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus. By His gracious influence they are enabled to resist Satan, to strive against sin, and to overcome the world.
The exhortation which concludes the Epistle for this day, is quoted by the apostle in part from the prophecy of Isaiah, where the prophet admonishes the ancient people of God, Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself, and let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread; and He shall be for a sanctuary.46 The object proposed by the prophet's exhortation, is similar to that of the apostle; the removal of the fear of man by means of the heart being possessed with the fear of God. The words before us may lead us to inquire,
First, Who it is that we are to sanctify;
Secondly, Where or how we are to sanctify Him; and
Thirdly, The manner in which He is to be sanctified, or wherein this sanctification consists.
May the Spirit of God be pleased to apply this exhortation of His holy word to our minds and consciences, that we may be led to comply with it, to the glory of God and our own happiness and consolation. We are to consider,
First, Who it is that we are to sanctify. The text says, Sanctify the Lord God.
The person whom we are commanded to sanctify, is the gracious Being who bears the glorious and fearful name, the Lord our God," and who is the Lord of hosts Himself, 46 the God of the armies of heaven and of the inhabitants of the earth. He is no other than our Creator, our Governor, and our Benefactor; the self-existent Being to whom we owe ourselves and all that we have and are, to whom we are indebted for life and every comfort we enjoy. As Jehovah, the only self-existent Being, and the Author of all existence, of all life and motion in the creatures of His power, whether rational or animal, He is the proper object of our worship and adoration. As our God, a term which denotes His covenant relationship with fallen man, He is the proper object of our gratitude and praise. When we think of His greatness and our insignificance, of His goodness and our unworthiness, we should fear and reverence Him as Jehovah, the great King of heaven and earth; and we should love and serve Him as our God, for the grace which He has manifested to His rebellious creatures. The prophet Jeremiah addresses Him, Forasmuch as there is none like unto Thee, O Lord, Thou art great, and Thy name is great in might. Who would not fear Thee, O King of nations ; for to Thee doth fear appertain, forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto Thee. The Lord is the true God, He is the living God, and an everlasting King ; at His wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide His indignation. He hath made the earth by His power; He hath established the world by His wisdom ; and hath stretched out the heavens by His discretion. He is the Former of all things; the Lord of hosts is His name.48 This is the great and glorious Being whom we are commanded to sanctify. Surely it must be the interest and the happiness of His creatures to reverence and fear His holy name with the deepest awe, and the most humble obedience to His supreme authority. Let us consider who He is, and what He is, that we may be in some measure sensible of the greatness of our obligations to Him, and may be disposed to comply with the exhortations of His holy word. The
46 Isaiah viii. 13.
47 Deut. xxviii. 58.
48 Jer. x. 6,7,10,12,16.
Second point to be noticed is, Where or how we are to sanctify the Lord God: and that is, in our hearts. Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts. . The obedience of the heart is the obedience of love. We are here called upon to give up or devote our best affections to the Lord our God, that we may love Him above all things. The heart of man is naturally set upon any thing else whatever, rather than upon the love of God. The things of time and sense, the visible objects of this present evil world, are those upon which we are disposed to set our hearts, rather than on things unseen and eternal. The invisible God is however the object best deserving of our supreme regard and affection, for to Him we are under the deepest possible obligations for every
blessing and comfort that we partake of. He alone is worthy of our love, as from Him alone we can be assured of receiving a full recompence for it. How often the love of the creature meets with a base return. How many are disposed to turn away from our love, when we might be willing to confer it upon them. But he who sanctifies the Lord God in his heart, may be satisfied that his affections will not be thrown away or lost upon the object to which he has devoted them;