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It is communicated to them by the regenerating and quickening operations of the Holy Ghost creating in them a new and holy life, capable of enjoying God. This new and holy life consists of all the graces of the Holy Spirit, and becomes manifest by their actings upon Christ; faith trusts him and claims him ; hope aspires after him and waits for him ; love cleaves to him and honours him, rejecting all that is unlike him. : Reader, is this your religion? If so, heaven is secure. If not, when you die you will descend to eternal despair, though loaded with all the forms of Pharisees all the traditions of Rome and all the mock sanctity of Oxford.
Arise, O Lord, and plead thine own cause, prays his willing servant in the cause of truth, Camberwell, May 6th, 1842.
On Rom. vii, 24, 25.
An exultation with a confident reply, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.''
A confession in which is an acknowledgment of two opposite natures existing in the child of God, “So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
We shall consider the lamentation with the inquiry, as expressive of the soulsorrow on account of sin, experienced by the Lord's awakened ones.
The exultation and reply as expressive of the faith of the Lord's believing ones.
1 And the confession, with its acknowledgment, as the experience of the Lord's tried ones.
The soul-sorrow expressed in the lamentation and inquiry of the text, arises from a sense of the evil of sin. Ist. In the possession which it has of men. The apostle, I conceive, refers to this, when calling it “the body of this death." This is commonly explained as merely setting forth the death of the body, to which sin brought us ; but I am disposed to view it as setting forth more than this, as expressing that possession which sin, as death, has of the sinner, for sin is death; « The sting of death is sin ;” “You that were dead in sin;" « In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” The Lord's people, and the Lord's people alone, are sensible of this possession which sin has of man. None other can speak of it, with lively feelings, as the body of this death;” that which as a body, a cumbrous thing, capable of all the functions of a body possessed of animal life, possesses me. That the unawakened are ignorant of this, we learn from what the apostle says at ver. 9-"For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." This was the apostle's own experience. Before he was awakened by the operation of the Holy Ghost in regeneration, he was under the law, insensible to his dead state, and to his possession by sin, as a principle or body of death, rendering him incapable of serving God. This he explains in verses 10-14. The apostle, when in this situation, vainly imagined he had been born again of the Holy Ghost; that he could serve God, do his will according to the law's requirements, and merit the love and favour of God, with eternal life. This, though, is the case with all unregenerated unenlightened characters, all such are of this opinion. When the apostle was awakened to a sense of the evil of sin, as a body of death, possessing entirely his fallen nature, so that it was wholly under its influence; then he manifested the existence of spiritual life and sensibility, by crying out, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?"
Here, then, was an expression of soul-sorrow from a sense of the evil of sin, as a body of death which possessed him. But the sense of the evil of sin, as thus possessing the fallen nature of man, is greatly increased from the discovery which the awakened child of God has of its desert. This arises from a sense of guilt, bringing along with it self-condemnation before God, which attends his conviction of sin (Psalm xl. 12; xxxviii, 1–6, 17, 18; cxvi. 3). There is thus a consciousness of guilt and sin's desert in the child of God, from which he finds no relief except in the application of Christ, with his blood and righteousness, to him through faith. There is a discovery of wrath meeting his sin in the person of his Saviour: here he sees, and is sensible of, an all-sufficient atonement and satisfaction. The guilt and desert of sin, as felt and experienced in the soul, are here acknowledged ; being met with a just and due recompence in the penal sufferings of the Son of God incarnate. Here again is seen the truth, that the sufferings of the Son of God on account of sin, must have had reference to a particular people, who cannot fail to reap the benefit designed thereby for them. Thus the hidings of the Lord's countenance, and the workings of unbelief, at times cause in the child of God such a sense of sin and guilt under the actual transgressions of his fallen nature, as produces soul-sorrow, and such a lamentation and anxious inquiry as we find in the words under consideration. He can have no relief but in the way of faith's discovery and application of the blood of Jesus to the soul; there is penal satisfaction for felt and acknowledged guilt.
Another discovery of the evil of sin which is in the awakened child of God, and causes him to cry out as in the text, is in its power, implied in the expression, "Who shall deliver me?” Here we have a sense of incapacity to deliver self; that it will require some extraordinary exertion of power to deliver from the possession of sin. The words also express a great desire to be delivered; which implies that the influence which it is found to have in its possession of us, as “the body of this death,” is very great. Thus the child of God is described as groaning, being burdened (2 Cor. v. 4, 14, 15). Without a power superior to any we possess to compete with it, as a body of death in our carnal selves, it takes us captive; while it leads and holds us in captivity, it forms those everlasting chains of darkness under which are both men and devils, through their fall. If in the case of any they do not prove everlasting, this can only be from a working of the sentence of God upon sinners, and a deliverance from its possession and power. This cannot be but as subject to the will and power of God; God must, in the first place, will it, and, in the second, accomplish it. His will and his power is that to which all are indebted who have deliverance, either in the promise or possession of it. The word of God reveals it to be the will and purpose of God to deliver from sin's possession and power a chosen number of the fallen of mankind; while the faith of the operations of God in the souls of the called and regenerated of the elect, receives and appropriates this revelation from God to their own selves, after the manner of the apostle in the text-" Who shall deliver me? I thank God through Jesus Christ.”
This is the exultation and reply which we proposed as our second head of discourse, considering it as expressive of the faith of the Lord's believing people. The apostle here acknowledges God the Father as the Originator of
this deliverance, which is revealed in the word, and God, in the person of the Son incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ, as he by whoin it is accomplished ; " Then thou spakest in vision to thy Holy One, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people ” (Psalm lxxxix. 19). “Thou wentest forth for the salvation of thy people, even for salvation with thine anointed” (Hab. iii. 13). “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ; who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him." This last Scripture is introduced as a reason why the believer should obey the preceding word of encouragement and exhortation. “Let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love ; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thes. v. 8).
While, then, the child of God feels the weight and burden of sin, as an evil thing possessing and influencing him-as the apostle describes it in this chapter-his faith is fixed on the revealed will and purpose of God to deliver him from it; he looks to Christ as the Deliverer of his people, provided by the Father ; his faith realizes the will and purpose of God, that Christ shall deliver his people, who are not under the law, but under grace.
This deliverance is not complete and entire on this side of the grave. The promise in this respect is limited; it goes to the dominion of sin, but no farther. It does not say it shall not possess you-it shall not exercise any power -it shall not break out and discover itself-it shall not cause you pain and sorrow-it shall not be a troublesome enemy, that never ceases in its opposition to anything and everything spiritual in you. No; the promise does not go thus far-it says thus, “Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. vi. 14). It does not here encourage us to look for any deliverance from sin from any power in ourselves, but from being under grace, and not under the law, which is the strength of sin; “ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. xv. 56, 57). The soul-sorrow on account of sin which we have been considering, it is not the will of God that the believer shall be actually freed from on this side 'the grave, by the annihilation of sin in his carnal, corrupt nature. His deli
verance is the subject-matter of hope, as hope is the attendant upon faith; *** We are saved by hope ; but hope that is seen, is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for ? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it” (Rom. viii. 24. 25.) The command of Scripture is, “Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else" (Isa. xlv. 22). We are here directed to look away from ourselves to Christ for our deliverance, which is exactly what the living, spiritual faith of the child of God does. * This looking to Christ is a contemplating him in those provisions of grace which are discoverable in him to the eye of faith. Christ delivers by what he is in himself_" I looked, and there was none to help ; and I wondered that there was, none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me, and my fury it upheld me” (Isa. Ixiii. 5). - Christ delivers his people through what God has made him to be unto them--through what he has done and is engaged to do for them. - In all these respects faith is the only grace that can make any right use of Christ (if I may use such an expression); "By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. ii. 8, 9.) That there is deliverance from the possession and power of sin in any fallen child of Adam, must be traced to God as the first cause. Our subjection to sin is penal. It is a state into which we were brought by disobedience to the law of God. Sin, as possessing and having power over us, as we have considered it
in its evil nature in itself-bringing guilt with itineriting and deserving at God's hands eternal wrath and vengeance-distinct and separate from all good -yea, separating the sinner from God himself, and consequently from the attainment and enjoyment of any real good; sin, as thus viewed, is a great evil, and cannot fail to cause soul-sorrow in the awakened child of God. No sorrow can be like unto that sorrow which arises from this cause, and cannot be better expressed than in the words of the text, “ O wretched man that I am !" The knowledge and acquaintance which the sensible sinner has of the evil of sin, is not in theory-has not been learnt by hearsay from others, or from the letter of the word. It is not head knowledge. He is inwardly and sensibly acquainted with sin, as thus an evil and bitter thing-a dreadful evil. He is the subject of a soul-sorrow on account of it, which is not of man but of God. This sense of the evil of sin accompanies his reception of the Gospel, which is also not of man but of God: his deep sense of the evil of sin makes him value the truth of God in Christ: he cannot do with man's interpretation of God's word : he cannot do with a part of the truth, he must have the whole: his all, his everything must be in Christ. No holiness of the flesh; no sanctification but in Christ; no serving God but in Christ: Christ in him, and he in Christ. The great mystery of Godliness, God manifest in the flesh, is the secret of all his holiness of life and conversation.
Holy only in Christ; while in faith he looks to Christ, and thanks God in the prospect of perfect and complete deliverance from sin, when death shall be swallowed up in victory. “O wretched man that I am ! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?”
NOTES OF A SERMON BY THE REV. G. H. PARKER,
CURATÉ OF RATBY, LEICESTERSHIRE.
But this man, because he liveth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood: wherefore he is
able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever
liveth to make intercession for them.--Heb. vii. 24, 25. In the passage before us the author of this epistle contrasts the superiority of the priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ over the Aaronic priesthood, in this one particular-its duration. Under the old dispensation the tenure of the priestly office was temporary ; one high-priest succeeded another from the time of Aaron's investiture with the office, till the coming of the Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec; “And truly there were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death ; but this man,' &c.
I. Notice in my text two assertions.
The first assertion is, “But this man hath an unchangeable priesthood.” The ground of this assertion is, “ Because he continueth ever."
The second assertion is, “ Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him." The ground for this second assertion is, “Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
First assertion." But this man hath an unchangeable priesthood.” This man-i, e. God-man, hath an unchangeable priesthood-i. e. a priesthood that cannot pass by or away; death cannot rob him of it. Chirist, being raised from the dead, dieth no more ; death shall no more lord it over him.
The ground for this assertion.--"Because he liveth ever.” He exists from eternity unto eternity, being in union with the second Person in God. What a wondrous thought !-an ever-living Man! The word of God and our own experience testify that mankind are like leaves, one race dropping into
the tomb, to be succeeded by another; but here we have an ever-living Man, whose thoughts, words, and deeds, are yesterday, to-day, and for ever; in the eternal bloom of manhood, never decaying into the sear and yellow leaf.
Second assertion." Wherefore also he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him.” He is able---possesses power and suitability, to save to the uttermost to the greatest lengths, and depths, and heights of sin. Sin is finite-Christ is infinite. He is able to save completely from all sins-little and great-sins of omission and commissionthought, word, and deed-past, present, and to come. The greater the sinnership, the more glory redounds to the blood of Christ, * flowing freely and unconditionally to the guilty, the vile, the polluted, and the lost.
• Them that come unto God by him." Who are these? What is coming into the heart of God-into communion with him by Christ ? Some would read, that come unto God by faith. Did faith live and die for you? Some, by repentance. This cannot be; there is no repentance till the Holy Ghost reveals Christ in the soul, and, drawing it up into God's bosom, leaves it to weep tears of blessed filial self-loathing and abasement. Some would read, by works; but God hath shut this door; for Christ is the end or sum-total of the law. Some foolishly would read, by experiences; but this is a poor way, for how are you to come to God when your sensible joy and experience are departed ? No, beloved ; them that come unto God by him, come as poor, wayward, sinful creatures, without a plea, prop, or hope, and cast themselves, for pardon and free justification, upon the spotless righteousness and all-efficacious blood of Christ, in which God sweetly smiles. Look not for hope to faith, or repentance, or sanctification, or experience, but to Christ alone; all other props are delusive, and must fail.
Second ground.—" Seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them;" for such poor, simple-hearted creatures, he intercedes. Christ's priestly intercession is not a series of acts or prayers, but a certain state in which he is relatively to God; after having satisfied the precept, and, by blood, and water, and groans, put away our sins, he ascended into glory, and took his place in the highest nobility of the Father's joy. There he stands, presenting ever to the Father his spotless body and bleeding wounds, on which the everlasting Father gazes in an eternal reverie of sweet satisfaction. He has no eyes for your sins, for they are fixed on that glorious Person; he has no ears for the accusations of Satan, and your conscience, and the world, for the softflowing river of Christ's blood talks of peace, satisfaction, and rest, and drowns all other voices; he has no heart for wrath, for Christ fills every corner of it.
GOD'S CHASTISEMENT FOR SIN, AND THE BELIEVER'S
LONGING AND HABITUAL DESIRE TO BE DELIVERED
FROM IT. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not
away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.--Ps. li. 10, 11, This Psalm was written by David after he had so grievously fallen into open iniquity, and it breathes the language of every self-condemned, humble, and contrite soul. God is infinitely holy; in his sight a sinner out of Christ cannot stand; where he is sin can never enter ; his word informs us that “he is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.” To every smitten and conscious sinner, whether by open, flagrant acts, or heart iniquities, the question then arises, “How am I to stand before this holy Lord God? Is there mercy for me for me who have ten thousand times abused his goodness ?” And
* Mark that, poor sin distressed reader. May God the Holy Ghost send it home with power to the relief of thy burdened conscience.-ED.