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and reproach that grace I profess to magnify, if I encouraged any to conclude, that they are savingly acquainted with it, whose temper and practice have undergone no change, whatever pretensions they may make to faith in the Redeemer, and confident assurance of their final salvation ; for all the saved of the Lord are expressly denominated “God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, wbich God hath be. fore ordained that they should walk in them.” And it will remain an invariable truth, to the confusion of all vain boasting hypocrites, that “whom God did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren."
But my chief business at present is with those who know by experience the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; having both tasted its sweetness, and felt the power of it in their own hearts. To such I shall address a few short exhortations, and then proceed to the service for which we are assembled.
1st. Give glory to God for what you know of his grace; and humbly acknowledge that it was be, and he only, who opened your eyes, and turned you from darkness to light. Who made you to differ from others? The proper answer to this question is to be found in the 4th chapter of this epistle, (verse 6.) “God, who at first commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into your hearts, to give you the light of the knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus Christ.” Not unto yourselves then, not unto yourselves, but to his free, distinguishing favour, is all the glory due.
2dly. Let this morning-dawn encourage you to hope for the perfect day. Christ would never have emptied himself, and become poor, without the most absolute assurance, that some were to be enriched by him: and where he begins a good work, this may, and ought to be, considered as a certain pledge, that he will carry it forward to its full perfection; for he “who is the author" is also the finisher of his people's faith.” Rejoice, therefore, in hope of the glory of God. And till you are brought to the possession of it be careful, in the
3d place, To use all the means he hath appointed for obtaining larger measures of his grace, both in respect of knowledge and of influence. Among these means, the holy sacrament of our Lord's supper holds the most distinguished rank, as it was instituted for this very purpose, to exhibit a sensible representation of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, in becoming poor for our sake, that we through his poverty might be rich. Here we not only behold him in his lowest state of voluntary humiliation, evidently set forth as crucified before our eyes; but likewise presenting to us, and by visible symbols conferring upon us, all those unsearchable riches which he purchased with his blood, and secures by his interces. sion; which he actually possesseth as the head of the
1 church, which is his body;" and conveys, by his Spirit, to every member in due season, and measure, as their several necessities and circumstances require. Let us then approach the table of the Lord with faith, and love, and thankful praise; and wbile we bless him for the grace he hath already made known to us, let us pray for such further discoveries as may strengthen and comfort us in what remains of our journey through this wilderness, till we arrive at those blessed abodes of perfect light, and love, and purity, where we shall see him as he is, without the intervention of ordinances, and enjoy him fully, without interruption and without end. Amen,
1 PETER I, 20, 21.
Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of
the world, but was manifest in these last times for you; who by him do believe in God that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory, that your faith and hope might be in God.
EVERY fabric must partake of the strength or weakness of its foundation. A house that is built upon the loose sand, will soon fall to the ground; nay, the higher it is raised, especially if the materials be weighty, the more sudden and ruinous will its fall be. It must therefore be of the last importance to the Christian, to be fully satisfied in his own mind, that the grounds of his faith and hope in God are suflicient to sustain all the weight he hath to lay upon them.
The life of the soul is no trivial matter; it is our ALL. Other things may be wanted, but this is the “ one thing needful.” The death of the soul, by which I mean its final separation from the only source of life and joy, is misery in the extreme; pure misery, without mixture or alloy.
To this death we all became liable by our apostacy from God. The loathsome disease which, if left to its own operation, will soon produce this fatal effect is deep lodged in our nature; and we are directed to look up to the Lord Jesus Christ, not only for the cure of the disease, but likewise for all that exalted happiness besides, which, commencing in present reconciliation with God, and the renovation of the soul after his divine image, shall at length be perfected in the entire resemblance and full enjoyment of him in the heavenly state.
That the Lord Jesus is able to do these great things for us, is the professed belief of all who style themselves Christians.
The dignity of his person, as the "eternal Word made flesh;" the perfection of his obedience; the merit of his sacrifice ; his resurrection from the dead; and his exaltation to the right hand of God, leave no room to doubt of his saving power: while his own account of the errand upon which he came into the world; his free unconstrained choice of the office of Redeemer; bis generous offers of mercy to the chief of sinners; together with the regret he always expressed when these offers were rejected—may justly lead us to conclude, that he is no less willing than “he is able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him."
These encouraging truths, which are written as with a sun-beam in the sacred Scriptures, present themselves to the view of every intelligent reader. Hence those general professions of gratitude to the Redeemer, and of dependance upon bim, for the pardon of sin, and deliverance from wrath, which are so common among Christians of almost every denomination.
But I have had frequent occasion to observe, that these views of the Saviour, though just in themselves, are too often blended with indistinct, and even errone. ous, conceptions of the great scheme of salvation, as revealed in the gospel. Many, while they look upon the Son as the generous friend of fallen man, are too apt to represent the Father to their own minds as severe and uprelenting; eager to punish his guilty creatures; yield. ing with reluctance to accept the offered ransom, and to
receive from a Mediator, that satisfaction to bis justice which was necessary to make way for such exercise of mercy as might consist with the authority of bis laws, and the dignity of his government.
Sentiments of this kind are not only gloomy and uncomfortable to those who entertain them, but have likewise a most pernicious tendency in other respects. They thwart the very design of Christ's coming into the world; of whom it is expressly said, that “ he suffered, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." It was not that our regard should terminate in his own person as Mediator; but that through him they should ascend to the eternal Father, who " so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever be. lieveth in him might not perish, but have everlasting life." He came to demonstrate the love of God to sinners of mankind; that, by rendering the Father amiable to the convinced, enlightened soul, he might overpower its natural enmily, and, upon the ruins thereof, erect a throne for gratitude and love. Christ is indeed said to be " the end of the law;" and the law, by showing us our guilt and depravity, and the necessity of a better righteousness than our own, to be pleaded as the ground of our acceptance with God, is very properly styled “our Schoolmaster to bring us to Christ." But when we are brought thus far by the discipline of the law, doth Christ then command us to stop short at himself, and to proceed no farther? No; he who is “ the end of the law” is styled the way to the Father; for thus he describes his own character and office, (John xiv. 6.) “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” It is God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself by the ministry of the Spirit, that is the complete and adequate object of faith: and