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II. Prove that all Christians are bound to know the higher as well as the lower parts of this system:
III. Unfold some of the causes why Christians are deficient in this knowledge.
I. Christianity is a connected system of divine truth, drawn from the Scriptures.
These are here called “ oracles of God,” to express their inspiration; and “ the doc“ trine of Christ,” to teach us who is the sum and substance of the matter which they reveal. Although enemies charge them with a want of order, with inconsistency between the different parts, and disagreement among the writers; yet the contrary of all this, on examination, is found to be fact. They are not indeed written in a systematical form, but divine truths lie spread and scattered throughout them. These truths, whether they are doctrinal or practical, are all related to each other, as constituent parts of the same system'.
Thus to begin with doctrinal truths, in support and illustration of the position : Jehovah, the author and pattern of all per
b To Saurio and Fuller on the text, I acknowledge myself indebted for many things in this sermon.
fection, made all things for an end worthy of himself. Sin is a transgression of his law, aiming at a defeat of this end, and the consequent dishonour of God.
He cannot therefore but hate sin, inasmuch as he must supremely love his own infinite excellence. Man, being a sinner, must necessarily be exposed to his just displeasure, and cannot be received into favour without an adequate satisfaction for the offence committed. This satisfaction must be made by one who possesses infinite dignity, as well as a human nature; and who is so united to those for whom he satisfies, as to be one in law with them. Such a person is Jesus Christ, God manifest in the flesh, Mediator between God and
his life a ransom for many, and saves his people from their sins. Whoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. Faith is the gift of God, wrought in the sinner by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit being thus the Author of spiritual life, applying redemption by Christ to the soul, men without his influences are dead in trespasses and sins. Being made alive to God by these influences, they must walk in newness of life. Spiritual life causes spirit
ual activity, or good works, as its natural effect. These good works being duties which sin has not destroyed, and performed by ability derived from God, cannot be meritorious. They are the evidences of spiritual life, the fruits of faith, “good and profit" able unto men?.” In them believers must abound more and more, striving after an increase of usefulness on earth, and a growth of meetness for heaven.
In these different doctrines, without enlarging the detail, you perceive a close union, one flowing from the other, and all mutually defending and explaining each other.
Not less connected are the practical truths of Scripture, or the duties which we are commanded to perform. They regard as their objects, God and our fellow-men, as well as ourselves. We cannot truly serve the first, without benefitting others and ourselves. Neither can we do justice to ourselves and others, without serving God. Religious practice includes in it moral practice; and moral practice cannot be correct, unless flowing from and united with religious prac
tice. To be more particular, religious practice is the imitation of God in all our conduct. Now, if we imitate God, we will live soberly and righteously, doing unto others as we wish to be done by ourselves. If, on the contrary, we do not thus to others; if we neglect or injure our brethren whom we see, how can we walk humbly before Him who made them and us, being our common Father? In a word, the virtues enjoined in the Scriptures follow one another, and mutually support each other.
But, my brethren, doctrinal truths are also connected with those which are practical. No doctrine is merely speculative, for each leads to a corresponding practice. They all, through the divine blessing, possess a quickening, transforming power, being the seed of regeneration. By them, as means, God creates sinners in Christ Jesus unto good works, causing them to awake from the death of sin to a new and holy life. For instance, the doctrine of God's hating sin, as opposed to his perfection, produces in believers a hatred and consequent avoidance of sin, chiefly for its own sake. The doctrine of man's sinfulness, pro
duces a holy jealousy and watchfulness against the risings of sin in the heart, and the display of it in the life. The doctrine of salvation through Jesus, produces unwearied exertions to promote his cause in the world. The doctrine of free grace produces universal and increasing holiness. In a word, “ the grace of God that bringeth “ salvation,” teaches “
us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should " live soberly, righteously, and godly in “ this present world"."
Thus then, not to enlarge any more on this subject, the truths of scripture, doctrinal and practical, constitute one body or system of christianity. Remove one link in the chain from another, and you destroy the whole. Separate doctrine from practice, and it degenerates into mere theory ; or practice from doctrine, and it becomes vague, inconsistent, and licentious. Annihilate the doctrinal truth of the malignity of sin, and you annihilate the necessity of an atonement, and all the doctrines connected with it; or annihilate the doctrine of the atonement, and you annihilate that of man's apostacy, and his exposedness to divine
a Tit. ii, 11, 12