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and peace as ever? Look at the great mass of Christians, even of those who would be thought religious : How many are there who, in the course of ten or twenty years, have never advanced a single step in vital godliness! I will not say, indeed, that this is owing to their neglect of this particular doctrine; because, doubtless, there are many other causes to which it may be traced, and the same want of proficiency may be found amongst some of its warmest advocates : but this I will say, that, amongst those who disregard this mystery, the want of proficiency and of spirituality is universal: and it is no wonder that they never make any advance in the divine life; because, if they go not to God in the way in which alone he will be found, they can never hope to receive from him the blessings which they stand in need of. On the other hand, only contemplate the Deity as he is here set forth: think of each Person in the ever-blessed Trinity sustaining distinct offices for you; and possessing each, as it were, a treasure of blessings to pour out on you,
very go to God in his appointed way: what a pledge does this give you of an attention to your supplications, and of success in your endeavours! To all I say, Study with all diligence the character of Jehovah; and improve, for your benefit, the offices which, in your behalf, he is ready to discharge.]
2. How low and grovelling is the taste of the Christian world!
[What do men affect, either for themselves or for those connected with them? They desire nothing beyond this present world. Whatever will advance the welfare of the body, they are anxious to obtain; but for spiritual blessings they have no wish. Indeed, the very idea of " grace and peace," as derived from the different Persons of the Godhead, and as enjoyed in a man's own soul, they regard, for the most part, as no better than a fanatical conceit. But such was not David's sentiment. When the inquiry occurred to him, “Who will shew us any good ?” his answer was, “ Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us." Yes, to that he looked for happiness, more than to the greatest possible increase of corn or wine or oil. Worldly prosperity was to him no better than dross or dung, in comparison of the welfare of his soul. O! let it be so with you, my brethren. Let the continual language of your soul be, - Whom have I in heaven but thee, O Lord? and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee.” Remember, I pray you, what is the distinctive character of a true Christian: it is not by any peculiar notions that he is to be known; no, nor by any outward acts. No: it is by his predominant taste : he desires, above all things, an increase of grace and peace: in comparison of these, all other things are but as the small dust upon the balance. O brethren! raise your minds to these things: set your affections on them, and not on things on the earth.” Then shall these blessings abound in your souls, and earth become to you the very porch of heaven.]
THE GROUNDS OF PRAISE TO CHRIST.
Rev. i. 5, 6. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our
sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father ; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
WHILE men continue in a natural and unrenewed state, they feel very little gratitude for the mercies of Providence, and are altogether unmindful of the blessings of redemption. But when the grace of God has wrought effectually on their hearts, they begin to view his hand in all the comforts they enjoy, and to bless him more especially for the wonders of redeeming love. Whenever they are in a frame of mind at all suited to their character, they are ready to burst forth, like the beloved disciple, into expressions of rapture and adoration.
In the words before us we are led to consider, I. The grounds of our love to Christ
Doubtless he is worthy of our love for his own sake, seeing that “he is fairer than ten thousand, and altogether lovelya :" but he is also to be loved on account of what he has done for us : “ He has loved us "
[This he has done from all eternity: he has done it, notwithstanding there was nothing lovely in us, neither had we any love for him; yea, notwithstanding there was every thing in us that was hateful, and we were full of enmity against him. Though he never manifested any love to the angels who fell, yet has he loved us: and love has been the one principle that actuated him in all that he has done for uso.]
a Cant. v. 10, 16.
b Tit. iii. 3. Rom. viii. 7. Eph. v. 2, 25. Gal. ii. 20.
“ He has washed us from our sins in his own blood”
[Rivers of tears were insufficient to wash away one sin: nor was there any fountain in the whole creation that could cleanse a guilty soul. He therefore, rather than we should perish, provided one for us; and suffered his own sacred body to be broken up, in order that we might be washed in his precious blood. This is sufficient, as thousands have experienced, to purge from sins of deepest die; and every believer, however aggravated his past iniquities may have been, may glory, in that he has been made whiter than wool or snowd.
O what love was this! If he had washed us in the blood of slain beasts, or sent an angel to die for us, it were a wonderful act of mercy: but to wash us in his own blood ! O the heights and depths of this incomprehensible love !]
“ He has made us kings and priests unto God and his Father”_
[Astonishing is the exultation which the believer now enjoys: even Lazarus was greater than the highest monarchs upon earth, and exercised a government to which their power could not extend. The Christian's spiritual enemies are under his controul: his lusts are subjected to his dominiono; and Satan himself flees from him with trepidation, as from a victorious prince
With this dignity, he bears also that of priesthood. Time was, when God himself would avenge the insult, if even a king had dared to invade the office of the priesthood: but now all Christ's ransomed people are admitted to ith; they are anointed to it with an holy unction; they have access at all times within the vail; and they offer unto God continually the sacrifices of prayer and praise.]
If, on considering these things, we feel love and gratitude rising in our hearts, let us learn from the Apostle, II. The manner in which we should express it
We should not rest in the gift, but raise up our minds unto the Donor1. We should contemplate him in our minds
[The abrupt manner in which the Apostle introduces this song of praise, and the energetic way in which he directs our
d Isai. i. 18.
e Gal. v. 24. 8 2 Chron. xxvi. 16-21.
f Jam. iv, 7. h 1 Pet ii. 9.
eyes to Christ', sufficiently shew, that his mind was filled with
[Higher strains of adoration cannot be paid to God the
[When the Apostle ascribed glory and dominion to Christ, he did not mean to except himself from the number of those who should honour his perfections, and submit to his government: but rather by the addition of “ Amen,” he purposely expressed his acquiescence in that which he required from others. Thus, without claiming any exemption for ourselves, we should cordially devote to him the souls which he has purchased with his blood: we should yield to his authority in all that he commands; and seek his glory in all that we perform.] ADDRESS
1. To those who are unmindful of what Christ has done for them
[It scarcely seems credible that such persons should be found in a Christian land: but, alas! they abound in every place. But let them blush for their ingratitude. Let them know too, that the very blood which was shed to cleanse them from their sins, will aggravate, instead of removing, their eternal condemnation.]
i " To him, to him."
k Zech. ix. 17. | Compare 1 Tim. vi, 15, 16. and i Pet. v. 11. m Rev. v. 12, 13.
n John v. 23.
2. To those who are doubting whether they be interested in what Christ has done
[We are not to ascertain our interest in Christ first, and then to go to him for salvation ; but first to go to him for salvation, and then, from the exercises and fruits of our faith, to conclude that we do indeed belong to him. If the time that is lost in doubting and questioning, were improved in fervent applications to him for mercy, we should soon be enabled to say, “ He has loved me, and given himself for me." Instead of asking, Am I washed in his blood ? go, and wash in it, and be clean.]
3. To those who are glorying in Christ as their Saviour
[What a heaven upon earth do you enjoy! for, what is the state, what is the employment, of those above? They are kings seated on their thrones: they are priests offering their sacrifices before the mercy-seat: they are singing, in one universal chorus, Salvation to God and to the Lamb. Such is your state, such is your employment, at this very hour. It is not said, that you shall be washed, or shall be made kings and priests unto God, but that you already possess these inestimable privileges. Go on then, ever mindful of these mercies, and of him who procured them for you by his blood: and give him glory and dominion for ever and ever, as well in the rectitude of your lives, as in the devotion of your hearts.]
o Gal. ii, 20.
CHRIST COMING TO JUDGMENT. Rev. i. 7. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall
see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.
THE great subject of the book of Revelation seems to be, to predict the trials and deliverances of God's Church to the end of time. To a superficial observer, it would appear strange that God should permit his enemies to triumph for so long a period, and in so awful a degree. But there is a time coming when all these inequalities in the Divine government will be rectified, and a righteous retribution be given to those who suffered, and to those also who inflicted