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to pray earnestly for them that they may not receive the grace of God in vain, but that He would be pleased to circumcise their hearts to love Him with all their heart, and with all their soul, that they may live.65 The use of the means, and prayer for a blessing upon them, must go hand in hand ; the one cannot be expected to be effectual without the other. But when parents diligently teach their children the good and the right way,66 and plead the promise of God before Him, praying for His blessing to accompany their instructions; it will be found that it is not a vain thing for them to wait upon Him. Let Christian parents remember that it is said, The promise is unto you and to your children ;67 and let them seek earnestly to obtain the blessing for their offspring by the means which God has commanded them to use; and they will find the benefits resulting from it.
The benefit derived by the Gentiles from the faith of Abraham was to be noticed in the
Second place. His faith in God is held forth as an example to mankind, that all who walk humbly with their God as he did, shall partake of the Divine blessing. The manner in which this is expressed is, Faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness; in order that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they
be not circumcised ; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also. The apostle varies the mode of expression, when he speaks on the same subject in the epistle to the Galatians: Know ye that they which are of faith the same are the children of Abraham.68 The patriarch was called the father of the faithful; believers in Christ are called the children of Abraham. But that which is most important for us to observe in the text is, that we are to seek for righteousness to be imputed to us in the same way as it was imputed to Abraham. For as the apostle states at the end of this chapter, It was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him, but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification, in order that being justified by faith, we might have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.69 Here we are led from the consideration of Abraham, and outward ordinances, to regard the spiritual blessing of which we must ourselves partake, if we would be truly happy. By faith in the promise of God Abraham was called the friend of God, and enjoyed the privileges connected with it. By faith in the promise which God has made, through Christ, to them who put their
68 Gal. iii. 7.
69 Rom. v. 1.
trust in His atonement for the pardon of their sins; and in His resurrection from the dead as a proof of their Surety's acquittal by Divine justice ; and in His obedience as that whereby the law of God was magnified and made honourable; in consequence of this belief, righteousness is imputed to them, they are accounted righteous before God, are justified in His sight, are accepted with Him, are permitted to call Him their Father, and are considered as His children, the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.70 What a high privilege is this! Yet this is the privilege to which faith in Christ admits the believer in Him; even to the enjoyment of His favour and friendship, His protection and blessing; to communion and fellowship with Him, and a participation in the cheering and sanctifying influences of the Spirit of His grace; as well as to rejoice in hope of the glory of God.72 The righteousness before God, which admits the children of men to all these privileges, is to be obtained only by faith in Christ; but it shall be imputed to all them that believe in His name.
We make a profession of being Christians, we have been baptized into the faith of Christ, we have had the sign of the cross marked upon our foreheads; it therefore becomes us to ask ourselves, Are we really believers in Him, who
are justified by faith, and at peace with God ? We have been admitted to partake of the outward privileges of Christianity; but have we been brought nigh to God, to live as seeing Him who is invisible,?? to seek communion with Him, to fear to do what is displeasing in His sight? We must have “ the inward and spiritual grace,” as well as “the outward and visible sign,” if we be indeed the children of God. We must partake of “a death unto sin and a new birth unto righteousness,” the effect of which will be that being dead to sin we shall not live in it; but being alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord, we shall become the servants of righteousness.74 If this evidence do not appear in our life and conduct, we have reason to fear that our profession of Christianity is of no avail, that it will not bring salvation to our souls. It behoves us then to examine ourselves whether we be in the faith,73 whether that righteousness be imputed to us by faith, which leads and enables us to walk humbly with our God, to live to His glory, and to show forth His praise. Let us, on our entrance upon this new year, pray earnestly for Divine grace to enable us to walk in newness of life,74 “ that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy, so that at the last we may come to His eternal joy, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Amen.
THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST.
Ephesians iii. 8.
UNTO ME, WHO AM LESS THAN THE LEAST OF ALL SAINTS, IS THIS GRACE GIVEN, THAT I SHOULD PREACH AMONG THE GENTILES THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST.
The subject to which our attention is called on the feast of the Epiphany, on which we commemorate “the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles;" seems to be peculiarly suitable for consideration at our entrance upon a new year. In the Epistle for this day, the apostle Paul speaks of this circumstance as one which excited the utmost astonishment, both in heaven and earth. It was most wonderful that the God of heaven should have compassionated the state of the world which was lying in wickedness,76 having forsaken Him, the fountain of living waters, and