« EdellinenJatka »
positions and conversation, is admired, as an excellent sermon! a delightful discourse!
Severe as they may be towards others, by the misrepresentations of prejudice and resentment for reproof, they cover their own sins by the soft names of infirmities and imperfections. Their motto is peace, peace, without holiness. To their own partisans they use the lulling repetitions, These infirmities do not affect the STATE of believers, They trust their STATE is good,'-They presume "the good work" is “ begun," and, without scriptural evidence of its progress or existence, they trust that Christ will" finish it." If their creed be sound, these are lying and slanderous believers -covetous and dishonest believers-unchaste believers, believing extortioners, and believing hypocrites.
Luther's advice to Melancton, was, " To preach, that those who do not fall out with their sins, may fall out with thee." If pride, lust, covetousness, prejudice or resentment, reign within,-the hearer will fall out with the preacher. If grace reign within, the hearer will fall out with himself. An upright hearer would rather be wounded than flattered :—rather be distressed for his lukewarmness, than lulled by "smooth things and deceits." The preacher who cries" peace, peace," to his hearers, who indulge their sins, and call them infirmities, by telling them these sins will humble them, ascribes to sin, effects, which nothing but grace can produce; and might as well say that" frost will thaw the ground, and sickness promote health."
Their attention to the means of grace, is a cloke for reigning "guile" in the heart and tongue. The means of grace to them, are, to borrow the words of an eminent character," the means of idleness and sleeping; the means of gossiping and slander; the means of worldly gain, and a religious reputation; the means of obtaining power over the simple; the means of amusing themselves by music; and the means of making converts to their own party." They are the means of idolizing a minister so long as he shall please them; and of crucifying him, when he offends them. The means of
grace to such persons are "like pipes to a garden, which convey no water." And when men attend a place of worship with regularity and zeal, living in sin, the Lord says, "I hate, I despise, your solemn assemblies, your offerings, the noise of your songs, and the melody of your music." The music of such may be melodious, their singing may charm the ear, but the Holy God calls it—“ a NOISE!"
There is no error more common among hypocritical professors, than that of considering their state good, under the most corrupt frames of mind. They believed not in Christ, but in themselves: not in his atonement and grace, but in the safety of their state. This they believed without evidence; yea, against evidence to the contrary! They are the elect; for they have appointed themselves to salvation, without holiness. They have justified themselves, by
imputing to themselves the merits of Christ; and then dream that God has justified them. They speak of their adoption into God's family; speak very boldly to God, and very freely of him. They have no fears or doubts of their own salvation; for, in their own conceit they are "in covenant with God." They are "in the covenant of grace." This they never doubt, which is called strong faith. God has entered into a covenant with Christ to save them; they are in the secret, which fills them with joy. The FACT, however, is otherwise. They are in covenant with Satan! with the world! with sin!
No. CXXX.-Christ the BELIEVER'S LIFE.
JESUS CHRIST, in his divine person and offices, is the life and soul of all the counsels and purposes of God, relating to the salvation of men. They begin and centre in him. It was a purpose of grace, in Christ Jesus, before the world began.
He is the life and spirit of the covenant of grace. He is the head of all who are engaged for; his undertaking for his elect, enters into its very being. All its blessings are in him. His blood, is the blood of the covenant.
He is the life of all the promises. They were first made to him for us; and are all in him. No promise to a fallen creature, but through a Mediator. They are fulfilled through his obedience, and atonement. He is the substance of them all. They all mean, no more nor less than CHRIST, in his person, work and grace.
He is the life of all the prophecies relating to the church, in its salvation. "To him give all the prophets witness." The testiimony of Jesus is the spirit and soul of prophecy. They have no life, no force and meaning, if Christ is left out. They foretel, describe, extol, and recommend him.
He is the life of all the types. They all mean Christ, in his saving offices, and divine person. The perfection of his character, the efficiency of his blood, the riches of his love, and the effects of his grace, in accomplishing the noblest salvation, are intended in the ceremonial law, which was 66 a shadow of good things to come."The blood of the innumerable sacrifices, the divers washings. The office of the High Priesthood, and its various circumstances, all in all cry "behold the Lamb of God! who taketh away the sins of the world."
He is the life of all the doctrines of the Gospel. Every description of the justice and holiness, the majesty and power, the truth and faithfulness of God, is filled with energy, when viewed in the obedience and sufferings, the death and resurrection of Jesus.— Every declaration of the wisdom and love, the grace and mercy of the Father, derives all its life and glory, from the medium through which that grace and wisdom shine. It is the glory of God, in
his eternal grace, and richest mercy, shining in the person and offices of Jesus Christ. The doctrines delineate the person, the character, and transactions of Jesus, and the gracious designs of the Father through him.
He is the life of every precept. It is enforced by his authority, work, and love. His example is the pattern of all our obedience, his spirit is the spring, and his glory the end of it.
He is the life of all our graces. They come from and lead to him. He is their author, feeder and finisher. They are invigorated by his love, sufferings, grace and power. He enlightens, separates, renews, quickens and comforts the believer. He is the life of our happiness and glory. The soul of our present comfort, and future glory. The knowledge and enjoyment of Him, is inseparable from the father's love. Angels and saints feel his influence, and he is the life of their joys.
"JESUS, the Lord, their harps employs,
JESUS, my love, they sing;
JESUS, the life of both our joys,
Sounds sweet from every string."
Jesus, in his divine perfections and mediatorial acts, is the great theme of the Heavenly inhabitants. He is the life of all their joys and their songs. Thus is Jesus Christ, SUBSTANTIALLY, the life. Every truth, centres in him. He is the soul of its meaning. The doctrines, prophecies, types, promises, and precepts, mean nothing, separated from Christ; all their life and meaning, dignity and efficacy, are derived from their relation to him. He exhausts their meaning, they are all swallowed up in him. To rest, then, in the letter of the word, even the letter of the gospel, is to stop short of life.
Secondly. Christ is the life, MERITORIOUSLY.-Our pardon is given through his blood which cleanseth from all sin, and his obedience justifies the ungodly, who believe in him. Believing in his perfect atonement and righteousstess, is "eating his flesh, and drinking his blood," without which we have "no life in us," John vi, 55. We live through him," 1 John v. 11. Mere moral obedience, without any believing regard to Christ, in his authority as the reason, his love as our motive,- his spirit as our strength,-his precept as our rule, his example as our pattern,-and his glory as our end, is not spiritual and acceptable obedience. But neither our legal or evangelical obedience, is our life:-no, "I am the life," saith Christ. There is no life in our sufferings or services, meritoriously; but Christ is the life, exclusively. He admits nothing to be joined with his atonement or righteousness, in part to deserve life. The believer is" alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord," Rom. vi. 11. Through him we are legally alive, and safe from condemnation. To approach God by our obedience to the law, as our righteousness,
is death, Rom. vii. 10. But Christ is the "living way," a way in which we approach God and live,—are pardoned and accepted as righteous.
Thirdly. Christ is the life EFFICACIOUSLY or efficiently. He communicates a principle of spiritual life. He is "the resurrection and the life," of dead bodies, and he will raise them at the last day-of dead souls, and he quickeneth whom he will, Acts iii. 15. He is the prince of life. He distributes it as a royal gift, in a free, gracious, and royal manner. He is "the Lord of life," and rules, cherishes, and manages the life he gives, by his spirit. The spirit of life, in, or from Christ Jesus, frees the soul from spiritual death, Rom. viii. 2.
He is the immediate source of it. It is hid with Christ, Col. iii. 3. He is "the last Adam, made a quickening spirit."
Fourthly. Christ is the SUPPORT of life. Christ reveals his person, character, offices, grace, and work, as "the bread of life," John vi. 48. Without perpetual discoveries of these things, spiritual life languishes; as the body would do, if the staff of life were with-holden from it. In this sense Christ is "our life," Col. iii. 4.-Our animal life is maintained by water, as well as bread, and Jesus cherishes the principles of spiritual life, by his spirit, called the "water of life," Rev. xxi. 6. As mediator, with our nature, the father has given him to have life in himself for this purpose, John v. 26. When our faith is directed by the Spirit, to the personal glories, and the mediatorial excellences of Christ, our graces are invigorated, and we live, yet not we, but Christ, (as thus revealed and viewed) lives in us, Gal. ii. 20.-He, in his person, love, work, and grace," lives and dwells in the heart, by faith." When faith thus fixes the soul in its contemplations of Christ, it feeds itself, and he dwells in the thoughts-he dwells in the affections,-this is being spiritually minded, which is attended with life and peace, Rom. viii. 6. Christ puts forth a real, spiritual power also, and blesses the soul with a vigour, an energy, a might, essentially necessary to preservation and growth of this divine life.
Fifthly. Christ is the life eminently; the most noble life is derived from him. Animál life is nothing, compared with it. Through him a believing sinner finds favour with God, Prov. viii. 35. "In his favour is life." Animal and rational life, in their best estate, with their highest interests, unconnected with Christ, are poor things. The loving-kindness of God the Father in him, is better than life, Ps. lxiii. 3. A life originating in covenant love, which was deposited with Christ, (2 Tim. i. 1.) from whom it is immediately derived, by the agency of the Holy Spirit;-it is, in its properties, divine, spiritual, pure, and blissful;-its tendency, acts, and aims, are towards God, and for him ;-in its duration,-endless.
If Christ is the life, in the above senses, in what a woful state are many professors, who are not united to him, by faith! For "the
branch cannot bear fruit of itself." All the gifts and privileges of an outward kind, may be possessed by an unbeliever, such as were Balaam and Judas ;—but neither law nor gospel;-neither sacred institutions nor church privileges;-neither public duties nor private ones;-neither gifts, nor even graces ;-are "the life" of the soul: No, "I am the life," saith Jesus. Our gracious dispositions, with all the good works flowing from them must be renounced, in point of merit, as the great act of self-denial, which springs from faith in the person, love, and offices of Jesus Christ.-We must "believe unto justification of life." The righteousness of Christ must be believed in, and received, as the righteousness of the God-man—peculiarly glorious-infinitely perfect- and entirely free to the most ungodly, that believes in Jesus.-Such a soul "hath life," for he has Christ, and his righteousness. And this is the record, that God hath given unto us Eternal Life, and this life is in the Son: therefore, he that hath the Son, hath life, for he is the life. But he who hath not the Son, though he may have a sound creed, long erperience of the power of truth, restraining him from many sins,exciting various resolutions, leading to all outward duties, in the most serious, impartial, and constant manner;-yet, he“ hath not LIFE!"
Hence we may learn the reason why many find ministers, means, and truth, so unprofitable to them; they forget, do not discern, or neglect, their relation to Christ. The best societies, with the best of ministers, and the best of books, are good, very good, in their place, but they are not "the life," because they are not Christ. That soul finds Jesus his constant life, who considers the relation every divine truth, and every appointed means, bears to him who is "all in all.”
Jesus Christ is the life of Divine Dispensations. "By him all things subsist." He" upholds all things by the word of his power." He, who as God, is life ESSENTIALLY-life underived, independent, immutable. Happy view to the believer! to see all the circumstances of his life, his condition, business, connexions, miseries, and trials, regulated by his infinite skill, and controlled by infinite power. To behold Christ ordering every thing relative to his departure out of the world; as the place, the time, the manner, in a way which best promotes his best concerns;-this affords pleasure, both in the prospect and the review. "All power in heaven and earth, is given unto him, who is the head of all principality and power." Pleasing sight! all the dispensations of Providence, relating to life and death, in the hands of one, in my nature, who is "equal with God." In the hands of my SAVIOUR, whose power, grace, and faithfulness, are engaged to make all things work together for the best, for me! Surely! Jesus, in this view, is the life and soul of Providence. "Christ is my life, my joy, my hope; Nor can I sink with such a prop."