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THE SECOND SUNDAY IN LENT.
THE CHRISTIAN WALK.
1 Thessalonians iv. J.
FURTHERMORE, THEN, WE BES EECH YOU,
BRETHREN, AND EXHORT YOU BY THE LORD JESUS, THAT AS YE HAVE RECEIVED OF US HOW YE OUGHT TO WALK AND TO PLEASE GOD, SO YE WOULD ABOUND MORE AND MORE.
In the Epistle for this day, the conduct which becometh the gospel of Christ in a very important particular is plainly stated. The apostle John has summed up the principles by which all mankind are naturally actuated, as consisting in the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.59 It has been said that it was by means of these things our first parent was tempted to disobedience, since the reason given for the conduct of Eve was, that she saw that the
tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise.co It has also been observed, that the devil's temptations of our Saviour in the wilderness may be resolved into the same particulars. He endeavoured first to stir up a desire of animal gratification, by tempting the Lord Jesus to convert stones into bread; then to entrap Him by the desire of the eyes, when he showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them; and afterwards to excite the pride of life in His mind, when he desired Him to display Himself as being indeed the Messiah, by casting Himself down from a pinnacle of the temple, into the midst of the multitude who were assembled to worship at the festival. By considering the answers which our Saviour gave to Satan when He was tempted, we may learn how we should act when we are assaulted in each of these respects by the enemy of our souls.61 In the word of God we shall always find what is requisite to fortify our minds against the temptations of our spiritual enemies.
In the text we have a view of Christian principles and Christian practice combined together. What God hath joined, let no man put asunder. They who set up Christian morals independently of Christian principle, erect a baseless fabric,
59 1 John ii. 16.60 Gen. iii. 6. 61 Luke iv. 3—11. 62 James ii. 26.
which will fall upon their own heads, and involve them in its ruin. They who talk of Christian doctrines without inculcating Christian practice, know not what they say nor whereof they affirm. They are like persons who contend that a dead corpse is a living body. St. James says to such, As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.62 Let us beware of both these fatal errors. The text points out to us,
First, The Christian principle which operates in the mind of the believer in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Secondly, The Christian practice which flows from it, which is enlarged upon in the remainder of the Epistle for this day.
Thirdly, The object proposed by the Christian's conduct.
Let it be our prayer that the Spirit of God would be our Teacher, that we may have a right understanding of Divine truth, and may not be hearers only, but also doers of the word, and be blessed in our deed.
First, The powerful motive adduced by the apostle for the purpose of exciting Christians to universal obedience to the will of God, or the principle which operates in the minds of believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, is brought forward when he says, We beseech you, brethren, and exhort you, by the Lord Jesus. The debt of gratitude due to the Divine Redeemer was a topic which he knew would have the most powerful effect upon the minds of His believing people. The nature of the obligation they were under to the Lord Jesus, he had mentioned in a few words at the close of the first chapter, when he spoke of Him as having delivered us from the wrath to come. When the greatness of this deliverance is considered, what an influence must it have over the minds of those who are interested in it. The wrath to come! What dreadful words are these! Who is duly sensible of their import? When we consider the awful description which is given of the state of those who are involved in it, it is enough to make the ears of them that hear it to tingle. It is said of them, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without micture into the cup of His indignation; and shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb; and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night.63 The very possibility of experiencing such misery as is here described, would, we might think, cause the utmost anxiety in the minds of all who hear that there is any danger of their being exposed to it, an anxiety to flee from the wrath to come. But we see continually that this is not the case. The wicked still do wickedly, notwithstanding they
are warned of their danger. The terrors of the Almighty do not make them afraid. As the royal preacher observes, Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the keart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.64 Such is the awful state of the multitude of mankind. We are all by nature the children of wrath, exposed to the wrath of God; and therefore, unless we are interested in the salvation of the Lord Jesus, the only deliverer from the wrath to come, we cannot be saved from it, we cannot escape it. Except we repent and believe the gospel, we must perish everlastingly. So the word of God declares. Oh! that all our minds were solemnized by this affecting truth, that we might every one of us earnestly implore from Him, whose property is always to have mercy, that repentance and faith which He is exalted to give, and will not refuse to any needy suppliant at His footstool, who humbly and importunately seeks to obtain the blessing. It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. He came to redeem us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us.66 He was crucified for our offences, and in consequence of His sufferings and death, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.67 But unless we
64 Eccl. viii. 11. 65 1 Tim. i. 15. 66 Gal. iii. 13. 67 Rom. vi. 23.