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the leaven would gradually diffuse its own sour nature through the meal, so the grace of God can only gradually purify the heart, and that it must be a considerable time before any one can be wholly sanctified. To this it may be answered, It has long been observed; that parables were never designed to go upon all four, but we should consider what particular part of divine truth any of our Lord's parables werë intended to illustrate. In the parable of the lea en his design evidently was; to shew us that the grace of God should sanctify the whole soul; that it should spiritualize the whole inan, and work an entire change in us. But if any one will still plead, that this change must be gradual; may we not ask, how long will he suppose it must be before the leaven could diffuse its own nature through the quantity of meal in which it was hid. Surely not forty years; no nor forty hours, so vain would it be for a person to attempt to make any parable hold good in every particular.
But perhaps the same person will say, Does not our Lord compare the kingdom of God to seed sown in the ground; which springeth up, first in the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear, and does it not naturally follow from hence, that the work of sanctification can only be carried on in a gradual way in the mind ? It may justly be answered, the seed sown in the ground is brought to a state of perfection in one single year, and the greatest part of it in a much less time, so that nothing of that sort can be proved from this parable. But it may justly be said, let all the weeds be carefully taken away, and the corn will grow abundantly bétter. So let all our evil tempers and every root' of bitterncss be removed, and the soul will grow the lily, and cast forth its roots as Lebanon," as the prophet speaks.
But does not our Lord here point out three distinct stages in the christian life, and does not the blade, the ear, and the full corn in the ear, exactly answer to the words of St. John, when he writes to little children, young men, and fathers in Christ? This indeed appears highly probable, and then it will be exceedingly easy to understand the whole. The little children who answer to the blade, are such as know that their sins are forgiven, who are justified freely through faith in Christ Jesus, according to the apostle. The young men who answer to the full corn in the ear, are such as are strong, have overcome the wicked one, and who have the word of God abiding in them. Does it not appear that these are established, and experienced christians, who enjoy the abiding witness of the Spirit, and are confirmed in the love of God.
The fathers are such as answer to the full corn in the ear, who, as the apostle-says, have known him, that is from the begintning. Such as have drank deep into the spirit of holiness, and are ripe for the harvest, so that they will soon be gathered into the heavenly garner. How chearfully then may a christian believer sing,
All earthly delights I forego,
Faith is also the evidence of things not seen. It realizes the everlasting kingdom of God to the soul who enjoys it. Those pleasures which are at God's right-hand, the glory which he hath prepared for them who love him. It opens the door of heaven itself, and gives us a sight of the invisible world. Not that we see any thing of this sort with our bodily eyeś. no,,
but we see it in the same sense in which it is said that Moses saw him who is invisible. That is, we are as fully satisfied of these things and frequently are as deeply affected with the consideration of them, yea, and are as fully determined to pursue them, as if we saw them with our eyes. We are satisfied that a state of inconceivable glory and blessedness awaits us, when time with us upon èasth shall be no more. That when our earthly house of this tabernacle shall be dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens; and that our gracious God and Saviour will receive us to himself, and crown us with immortal honour and glory for ever and ever. This is very beautifully expressed in one of our hymns:
O what hath Jesus bought for me,
Before my ravished eyes,
And trees of Paradise, &c.
If these things are so, if faith gives the soul such clear and delightful views of everlasting things, of that exceeding great and eternal weight of glory which the Lord hath prepared for those who love his appearing : Then it must raise our minds above the present evil world, and fix our affections upon those things which are infinitely more valuable, and lead us to pursue them with that diligence and constancy which they de
serve, and as a great man justly observes, “the soul will rise out of the ruins of time into the riches of eternity.” Thus faith purifies the heart from every desire which does not lead to God.
If then there be an absolute necessity for our hearts to be purified by faith, what shall we say of those, who no sooner hear this than they are ready to turn away with the greatest disdain; having been taught to despise every thing of the kind and to cry out, О it is all enthusiasm! This we must say of them, They greatly err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God. But such people do not make a small mistake, seeing our Lord hath solemnly declared, except a man be born of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. And how shall any one be born again but by experiencing the power of divine grace, or the sanctifying influences of the
Holy Ghost upon his own mind ? Happy will it be for them if they see their mistake in time, and turn to the Lord with their whole heart, that they may yet experience the renewing power of divine grace.
But let those who see the necessity of being purified know, the grand mean by which this blessed work shall be wrought in them, is a lively faith in an all-gracious Savióựr. Let them go immediately and directly to him, for pardon and peace, and for entire sanctification. In him all fulness dwells, and faith makes his fulness all our own. Hear him saying unto you, Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it. Embrace his blessed word, and you shall be a happy witness of the truth thereof.
THE SAFETY AND HAPPINESS OF THE SERVANTS OF GOD.
ISAIAH LIV. 17. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that
shall rise up in judgment against thee thou shalt condemn, this is the heri. tage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness of me, saith the Lord,
THE Apostle Peter very beautifully observes, that the an
cient prophets enquired and searched diligently what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ that was in them did sig. nify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow, Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us, they did minister the things which are now reported to you, by them who have preached the gospel to you, which the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. Respecting these things the prophet Isaiah was favoured far above his brethren, as he certainly had remarkably clear views of the gracious designs of God in sending Christ into the world; of the nature and extent of gospel. salvation, and of the holy and happy state into which true - believers under the gospel-dispensation should be brought. The prophet foresaw that the happy time would come, when the God of love would no longer confine his peculiar mercies within the narrow bounds of the Jewish nation; but when life and immortality should be brought to light by the gospel, the servants of the Lord should receive an enlarged commission, and should go out into all the world and publish the glad tidings of salvation to every creature. That Christ and all the riches of his grace should be freely offered to the Gentiles, and that a far greater number of those outcasts of men would be brought into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, than would be found in that nation, which for so many ages had been treated as his peculiar people. With these delightful views, the prophet begins this chapter : “ Sing O barren, thou who didst not bear, break forth into singing and cry aloud thou who didst not travail with child, for more are the
children of the desolate than of the married wife, saith the Lord. Enlarge the place of thy tent, and let them stretch fórth the curtains of thine habitation, spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes.” How exceedingly did he man of God rejoice in the prospect of such numbers of those who had not been accounted to the Lord as a people, embracing the gospel, and being made happy in the enjoyment of divine grace. The holiness and happiness of such people, he goes on to describe in the following part of the chapter, setting forth, with all possible clearness, the mercy and goodness of God, which the numerous members of the gospel church would then experience. And in the words of the text he speaks both of the safety and happiness of those who at any time should be brought into the favour and family of the blessed God.
In speaking upon these comfortable words, it will be nécessary to consider,
First. The character of those who may properly be termed the servants of the Lord.
Secondly. On what account is it said, And their righteousñess is of me, saith the Lord ? :
Thirdly. Consider the promises here made to these servants of God. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise up in judgnient against thee thou shalt condemn.
1. Let us consider the character of the servants of the Lord, unto whom these promises are made.
In reading the Old Testament we see that the title of servant of the Lord hath been given indiscriminately to all who lived in the fear of his sacred Name, and who endeavoured to hohour him in their life and conversation: But it is easy to observe, that the same title has generally been given throughout the holy scriptures, by way of eminence to those who were called to stand in a public station in the church, such as prophets or preachers of the everlasting gospel.
The Apostle Paul in writing to the Galatians makes a manifest difference between a servant and a 'son of God: “ Thou art no more a servant but a son, and if a son then an heir of God through Christ." By a servant here it is evident, that the Apostle means a person who is under the law of Moses, and by a son a man who is brought into the glorious liberty of the gospel. But as the prophet in the text looks forward to those happy days when the light of the gospel was to shine in the