Page images
PDF
EPUB

we were unable, this gives us force to do. So that Christianity is not an indulgence of people under weakness and disobedience, but the completing and perfection of that. righteousness, which, without him, was but short and imperfect, through the all-sufficient grace and power that came by Jesus Christ.

Give me leave, I beseech you, for I have a godly jealousy upon me; I fear lest the very end of Christ's coming is mistaken; and of how dreadful a consequence such a mistake would be, you cannot possibly be ignorant, that believe " there is no salvation in any other name.

Let us hear the testimony of scripture : they are the words of Christ himself,* " I must preach the kingdom of God, for therefore am I sent.” Now, what is this kingdom of God, but God's government? And where is this kingdom and government to be set up, but in man? So Christ tells us,+ “Behold the kingdom of God is within you.” So that the reason of his being sent is, that the kingdom and government of the devil may be destroyed, the strong man that kept the house, the heart, be dispossessed, and the kingdom and government of God in the soul erected and established.

We are taught to pray for it, as little as we make of it.”+ Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” Would to God people would but consider what they pray for ! for they are scandalized at the thing they ask, and both neglect and revile the substance of their own prayers; “Thy kingdom come, and thy will be done;" but believe neither. It was the office God designed his Son to. “ The thief,” says Christ, “ does not come but to kill, to steal, and to destroy;" that is, to steal away the heart from God, and to kill and destroy all good desires and inclinations in the soul: for the devil is the thief and destroyer : “But I ain come,” says Christ,|| " that ye might have life; and that ye might have it more abundantly." Again, “O death, I will be thy death!” as if he had said, will kill that which kills the soul : I will breathe the breath of life into it again ; and, by my spirit and grace, I will beget holy motions, and kindle hea venly desires, in it after God, after the kingdom of God, and the righteousness thereof;' this is the newness of life : 1

And I will not only restore that life the soul has lost, but I will increase it: I will add to it, that it may have life more abundantly; more power and strength to resist evil, and enibrace and delight in that which is good. Indeed he was anointed of God for this purpose ; and is

+ Luke iv. 43. + Luke xvii. 21. * Luke xi. 2, John x. 11. John x. 10. $ Hos. xii. 4. 1 Rom. vi. 4.

therefore called the “Restorer of paths, the repairer of breaches, and the builder-up of waste places ;” that is, he is ordained of God for the recovery of man from his fallen and disobedient state ; this is the reason of his name : “ Thou shalt call his name Jesus," said the angel,* “ for he shall save his people from their sins :" not from wrath only, but from sin, which is the cause of wrath. That is, of bad men he will make them really good men, and of sinful and unholy, he will make them holy and righteous men, i.e. such as truly believe in him. This is the burden of Jobn's testimony: “ There is one," says het “ that cometh after me, who is mightier than I ; he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire; whose fan is in his hand, and be will thoroughly purge bis floor.” And seeing Jesus coming to him, he said, " Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world !"

I know the use that too many make of these scriptures, as if they were an Hebraism borrowed from the old sacrifices, which may be said to take away sin by taking away the guilt, and not that the natures of men are restored and perfected. And, indeed, this is that sense which I dread above all others, because it perverts the end of Christ's coming, and lodges men in a security pernicious to their own souls. For though it is most true, that remission of sin was, and is, preached in his name and blood,|| and that sin, in a sense, may be said to be taken away, when the guilt of the sin is removed by remission; yet this is only of sin past, that upon repentance is forgiven : but this is not the whole, full and evangelical sense, as Christ's own words do plainly import. For,” says

66 the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.

And upon another occasion he expresseth himself to the same purpose, and almost in the same words, I “ For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Now, who is this that is lost, but man? And in what sense can man be said to be lost, but by sin and disobedience ? That it was which cast him out of the presence and garden of God, and put him in a condition of eternal misery. If Christ then came to save lost man, he must be understood to save him from that which puts him into a lost condition, and that is sin; for “ the wages of sin is death, and the servant of sin is a son of perdition.

Christ has determined this point beyond all exception, in his discourse with the Jews, John viii. 31, 32, 33, 34. “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye conti

* Mat, i. 21. Mat. ii. 11, 12. John i. 29. | Acts x. 13. Eph. i. 7 $ Mat, xrui. II, Luke xix. 10. Ron. vi. 23.

he, ş

1

nue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” What freedom was this ? Certainly from sin ; suitable to that passage in his prayer : “ Sanctify them through thy truth, ihy word is truth."* But some Jews present, proud of their privileges, apprehended not the liberty Christ spoke of, and therefore answered him thus : “We are Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man; how sayest thou, ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin." In which place it is very remarkable, that men are only to be distinguished by their works; that no claims, privileges, successions, or descents are available, but he that commits sin, is the servant of sin. So that Christ's free man is he that is freed from sin : this is his follower and disciple. And as Christ opposed the works of the Jews, who unjustly sought to kill him, to the pretensions they made to be Abraham's seed; so we must oppose the actions of ill men to their better professions: we must faithfully tell them, “ He that commits sin, is the servant of sin ;" from which servitude Christ came to save his people, and is therefore rightly called " the Saviour and Redeemer.”

This doctrine is closely followed by the apostle Paul, in his sixth chapter to the Romans. “ Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might he destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”+ As if he had said, “The end of Christ's coming, is to turn people from their sins; and that those who persist in their disobedience, resist the benefits that come by him.'

6 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lust thereof. | Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin ; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.-Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey ; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness ?-For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye ure now ashamed? For the end of those things * Rom. xvii. 17.

+ Rom. vi. 4. 6. 11. Rom. vi. 12 13. 16, 20, 21, 22, 23.

[ocr errors]

is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

To'conclude, nothing can be more apparent, than that freedom from actual sinning, and giving newness of life to the souls of men, was the great reason of Christ's coming, and the end for which he hath given us, out of his fulness of grace and truth, Grace for grace;” and that to be under grace, and not under the law, is not to have liberty to do that now, which ought not to have been done before, or to be excused from former moral obligations, as the ranters interpret it; but to be freed from the condemnation of the law, first, through remission of the sins that are past, upon faith and repentance; and next, by freeing us from that weakness, by which we were disabled from keeping God's just law, and fulfilling the righteousness of it, in receiving and obeying the light and grace that comes by Jesus Christ.

Very pertinent is that passage of the apostle Paul to Titus, to our present purpose, for it seems to comprehend the end of Christ's coming, and the faith and duty of bis people ; which our great Selden, after all his painful readings, and curious disquisitions, said, but a little before his death, was the most weighty passage of the whole bible to him, as the bible was the best of books in the world, viz. « For the grace of God, that bringeth salvation, hath appeared to all men ;* teaching us, that denying ungodliness, and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world ; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

In which comprehensive passage, we find the end of Christ's coming to be our redemption from all iviquity, both to blot out our sins that are past, and to purify our hearts from the sin that remains. We have the means that works and brings this salvation into our souls, which is the grace; and the way by which this grace doth accomplish it, is by

teaching us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” Which has this great encouragement joined to it, that those who so live, have only right to look for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.

* Tit, ü. 11, 12, 13, 14.

I will add the testimony of his beloved disciple John, * who has defined to us the end of Christ's coming thus : “ Whosoever committeth sin, transgresseth also the law; and ye know, that he was manifested to take away our sins." And to show that this is understood not only of the guilt of sins past, but of the nature and present power of sio in man, observe what follows ; '“Whosoever abideth in him (Christ) sinneth not.” And as if this apostle had foreseen the present mischief Christianity labours under, both on the side of evil men, and of but too many mistaken professors, he adds, “ Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous; he that committeth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from the beginning. Now comes this most express passage to the matter in hand : “ For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil :" which is more than the remission of sins that are past; here is the destruction of the power and kingdom of Satan. They that know not this, know not Christ as he should be known; not savingly. For as we, so our Lord, is known by his fruits, by the works which he works in us: therefore it is said, “ That his own works praise him.” And said Christet " If I had not done among them the works which no other man did,” &c. So that he referred to his works to prove his nature and mission.

He therefore that lives in sin, denies Christ, by denying the end of his coming. The fool did not say with his mouth, but in his heart, “ There is no God;" yet but too many now-a-days, plead with their tongues and pen for sin • Term of life,' by endeavouring to show the impossibility of overcoming sin. But what saith this apostle further of the business ? I “ Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin: in this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever doth not righteousness, is not of God; neither he that loveth not his brother. But if we walk in the light, as God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.l. He that saith he abideth in Christ, ought himself also so to walk, even as Christ walked.” A little lower, in the same chapter, he says, “I have written unto you, young men, because ve are strong, and the word of God abideth in

you,
and
ye

have overcone the wicked one."

I will add one scripture testimony more in the present case, and it is this : " Herein," saith Jolin, “is our love I John jij, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

+ John xv. 94. * 1 Johu ii, y, 10. Johai. 7 l I John ïi. 6. 14. ( 1 John iv. 17.

« PreviousContinue »