« السابقةمتابعة »
goodness, yet merely a view of His goodness is not enough. No: it is the view of His forgiveness that draws my heart; for "to whom much is forgiven, the same loveth much." Ah! when a poor convinced and condemned sinner, condemned in his own conscience, self-condemned, and law-condemned, catches the first glimpse of God's face in Jesus Christ, he sees that which draws, and wins, and subdues. What! is this the God I despised? Is this the God I alienated myself from? What! is this the God that I preferred the merest trifle to? Is this the God against whom I have borne such foul enmity? Is this the Being?' Oh! what shame, what self-reproof, what self-condemnation, comes into that soul ! My dear hearers, it is one thing to break the ice, and another thing to melt it. The law can break the ice; but it never can melt it-it never can. But the sun can, and does. The law cannot subdue a man's soul; but oh! when once he sees God in Christ, the heart yields, the spirit gives way. We see that beautifully unfolded in the fourth chapter of the first epistle of John, and the ninth verse: "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, in that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him." Again, in the sixteenth verse: "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us; God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him." His name is love, His nature is love, His actions are love. And sooner or later, as the Gospel is received in the power and demonstration of the Spirit, the soul rises to that nineteenth verse," We love Him, because He first loved us." Here is sanctification. Without this, defences may be won, walls may be won, streets may be taken possession of, but the citadel is still in the power of the enemy. Nothing can subdue the heart but love. It is not dread, nor fear, nor terror, but love, that captivates and overcomes. Therefore "the Word" is not the word of the law; but the word of the Gospel of the blessed God.
: III. Observe now, in the third place, that this was what the Lord gave Himself for. I have lately touched upon this, (it was but touching indeed,)-on some of the abuses of the doctrine of justification. My mind has been greatly affected by these abuses, and I am quite certain that these abuses do exist.
Now observe, that it is no small abuse of the doctrine of justifica
tion, when we look at it as the end, and not as the means to an end. Our Lord gave Himself" that He might sanctify His Church." He did not give Himself merely to die for our sins, to blot out our sins, to cast them into the depths of the sea, to give us merely a sense of our forgiveness, or a sense of our justification; but He gave Himself for it," that He might sanctify it."
It is the means to an end. The end is sanctification; the means are justification. Does this surprise us? Why, my dear hearers, God in all the gracious dealings of His providence has this object; which object He accomplishes. What are all the trials that we have had? What are all the disappointments, what are all the vexations, what are all the humiliations that we pass through? What are they all, but so many unfoldings of this truth, that God does it to sanctify? He does not "correct us for His own pleasure, but for our own profit, to make us partakers of His holiness." Look at the doctrines of the Gospel. The glorious doctrines of the Gospel all tend to the same point, they all go to the same end. Do I wonder, therefore, that the atonement does it? No, beloved, it is the great end of it. It is the one great purpose of our Lord. He gave Himself for the Church "that He might sanctify it."
See how this truth is maintained by all the inspired apostles, in the blessed Word of God. Look at the first chapter of Galatians : "Who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father." Turn to another apostle-the apostle Peter. In that chapter that I read to you this morning, (1 Peter ii. 24.) you find—" Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree; that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye are healed." Turn to the next chapter-(the third chapter, the eighteenth verse): "For Christ also hath once suffered for sin,—the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” Does the apostle John, the beloved apostle, speak other things? Observe in his third chapter, the eighth verse-" He that committeth sin, is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested-that He might destroy the works of the devil."
Now, dear hearers, see the outline of the truth. And I dare to
say, some of you have seen the outline of serious error too in your minds, that you have never suspected before. Oh! let this subject lead us into serious and holy contemplation! It is full of instruction.
My dear hearers, if the Lord Jesus Christ did this as the great end, you and I ought to have it as our great end. If He gave Himself for me, to this end, then I ought to give myself to it. Beware of low views of sanctification. I consider it utterly impossible, that a child of God ever can be, who does not desire sanctification as the one thing. See its vast importance. You know the difference between a pillar and a pilaster. There is the face in the pilaster; there is the column in the pilaster; there is the capital in the pilaster; and for what I know, there may be fair flowers ornamenting the pilaster. But it is in the pillar, that there is that which bears up the weight that is put upon it; the pilaster is only for ornament. Now it is one thing, to look at sanctification as the pilaster: I say, it is the pillar. It is the main point, the essential element of salvation. We are commanded to glory in our righteousness in the Lord: "In the Lord, shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory." "And shall glory!" I am to glory in it, that I have such a righteousness to stand in before God, in the midst of all my changes of frame, in the midst of all my vicissitudes, in the midst of all my weaknesses, in the midst of all my turnings to the right, and turnings to the left. "In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory!" But, beware how you use that as an opiate, which the Lord gives you as a stimulant; for "in the Lord ye shall have righteousness and strength:" strength, as well as righteousness, and strength for sanctification. But live on Jesus as your righteousness, that you may be sanctified. Perpetually fall back on that great principle, that as you walk with God, that is the end of these things, and the great object that you have in view, or ought to have. When a man builds a house, he designs and plans; but the great object that he has in view, is the complete erection of the building. A man tills the ground; he labours in the field; but his great object is the gathering in of the crops. A man is in business; he "rises early, and late takes rest, and eats the bread of carefulness;" it is for his own comfort, and for the comfort of those that he loves, and for their support and maintenance; and when sanctified, he may do all these things" to the glory of God;" but the great end is in view
"To me to crucified, my
always before him. So, beloved, ought it to be, on this point; not as the pilaster, I would say, but as the pillar-the main thing. The other is a means to an end; but this is the end. Sometimes we have wondered, as we have heard a man toiling in prayer, what be would come at; why, the great end of acceptance is, that I may walk with God. Not merely that I may be pardoned, not merely that I may be justified; but, that being justified, I may walk with God in the true liberty of an accepted child-tenderly, unreservedly, and holily. Oh! see the apostle Paul; this was his end, this was his object, this was his purpose, this was his delight. live," he says, "is Christ;" and as I live on Christ object shall now be to live for Christ crucified.' The subject leads us to deep and solemn inquiry. I sanctified? It is a deeply solemn question; but it is a question 'that we must ask ourselves. We shall be sure to ask ourselves the question, when we come to die. Notions will then vanish, and the creed that we have taken up here will be as a very small thing to us; but the question will come with solemn force to our spirits-Am I sanctified? What are my views of Jesus? What are my views of myself? What are my views of God? What are my views of sin? What are my views of holiness? What do I know of a righteousness, alone of grace from first to last? What are the great purposes
Are you and
for which I live? What is the grest bent of my heart? Is it Godward? Is it heaven-ward? Is it holiness-ward? Ah! beloved, may the Lord the Spirit put these deeply solemn questions to your hearts and to my heart at this moment!
But oh! forget not in what was the medium of their sanctification. In the law? Does not the directing post show me the way I am to go? but can it give strength to the fainting traveller? We want motive, we want strength, we want purpose; and they are only to be found in the Gospel. It is as we realise the Gospel, the glorious Gospel, the joyous Gospel, the peace-speaking Gospel, the soul-elevating Gospel; it is as we feel it to be ours, and know its power in the soul, that this stimulates us, and leads us forward and onward. Oh! forget not who is the source of all this holiness. It requires Omniscience; it requires Omnipotence. It was an act of sovereign grace too. Forget not how many He passed by; and He might have passed by you. Lie low! lie low! admire, and adore! Oh! fear
to grieve Him! Listen to Him; oh! listen to Him! Oh! to hear His "still small voice!" Amidst the din of business, and the occupations of life, oh! to listen to His "still small voice!" Beware of grieving Him, beloved; for your souls are His temples.
What shall I say to you, ye that are the saints of God ?—the sanctified ones, truly set apart by God, by God's electing love set apart, and by the effectual calling of His blessed Spirit set apart, and by the redemption of His Son set apart. Beloved, what shall I say to you? How vast are your privileges! The justice of God, your shield; the eye of God, your guide; the covenant of God, your security; and the Son of God, your all. Wonderful truths! Oh! realise them! Oh! to feel them, and to live under the deep and solemn obligation of what a call they are to an unreserved surrender of the soul to God!
I would not conclude, without one word more, to those that are destitute of all real sanctity. My brother, thou art my brother in the flesh-I would speak in love to thee. God has written in His Word"without holiness, no man shall see God." Thou mayest talk, prattle, argue; nay, I will go further; I will suppose that the tears trickle down thy cheeks, or I will suppose that thou canst write affecting letters :-how little stress can one lay on affecting letters! But let that man know, that "without holiness, no man can see God." I repeat what I have said before; either God must change, or you must change; or, if you change not, without doubt you perish, and perish for ever. Oh! remember, Jesus is "exalted to give repentance!" Oh! seek it as a drowning man seeks his plank; seek it as a starving man seeks his bread! Seek it of Him, as one utterly lost and ruined without it: "Lord, save me! or I perish."
May the God of all grace give His holy anointing to His own blessed Word; and the glory shall be His-Father, Son, and Holy Ghost-for ever.