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you ;' and again, * Ye shall love your neighbor as yourself;' and the correspondent extent of our performance is plainly intimated by the counsel, ' He that hath two coats, let him give to him that hath none, and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.' Now it is most manifest that this communion of the saints on earth amongst each other, in the spirit of love, in the intercourse of social affection and Christian sympathy, and in actions of Christian beneficence, would be, indeed, a shining of our light before men so that they should see our good works and be led to glorify our Father in heaven. And this enlarged and true communion would hot only be found to afford a higher degree of comfort than any other possible condition in this life, but it would furnish the sweetest foretaste and the best visible emblem of the peace, the purity, and the enjoyments of the life to come.
Even thus, my brethren, should we all understand our profession, when we say, 'I believe in the communion of saints.' 'That those who are truly sanctified in the Church of Christ,' in the words of the venerable Bishop Pearson, 'while they live among the crooked generations of men, and struggle with all the miseries of this world, have fellowship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as dwelling with them, and taking up their habitation in them, that they partake of the care and kindness of the blessed angels, who delight in ministering to their welfare, that beside the external fellowship which they have in the Word and Sacraments with all the outward membersktf the Church, they have an intimate union and conjunction with all the saints on earth, as the living members of Christ, and that this union is not interrupted by the death of any, but as Christ, in whom we live, is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, so have they fellowship with all the saints, which, from the death of Abel have ever departed in the true faith and fear of God,' all this is comprised and included in this expression of our Creed, according to its ancient and best established exposition.'
And how can I conclude this imperfect explanation of a subject so deeply important to us all, without asking you, my brethren, how many there are amongst you, who belong to this community of saints, how many amongst you are partakers of their communion? It is a small matter to be communicants in the worship of the Church, and at the Lord's table, if you be destitute of that faith which worketh by love, and purifieth the heart, and overcometh the world. It is a small matter to be outward sharers in the call of the Gospel, if you are inward strangers to its Holy Spirit, to its sanctifying influences, and to its power. Suffer me, therefore, I beseech you, to put to you, who belong to the external communion of the Church, a few simple enquiries, by which you may estimate the safety of your spiritual condition, and the degree of your Christian progress, before it be too late.
Are you, in any reasonable measure, entitled to the name of saints, your hearts changed, and your affections sanctified by the Holy Spirit? Or do you dislike the term, and disclaim the character, as thinking that to be a Christian is one thing, and to be a saint another? We have heard of professors, yea of communicants, who openly avowed this absurd opinion,—who seemed to dislike both the name and the reality of holiness, and who eve/i boasted that they did not pretend to be saints. Yet, my brethren, I testify to you this day, on the authority of God, that the promises of the Gospel of salvation are addressed to none but to the saints, to none but to the holy. They are the saints that sing with joy, the saints whose way the Lord preserveth, the saints who shall inherit the kingdom, the saints who are beloved of God, the saints for whom the Holy Spirit maketh intercession, the saints whose death is precious in his sight. Every epistle in the New Testament is addressed to them that are sanctified,—called to be saints. We read continually of the saints which are in Achaia, the saints at Jerusalem, the saints at Ephesus, the saints at Colosse, and wherever else the Gospel was preached in the apostolic day; and if there are no saints amongst us, it is because we have neither part nor lot in this matter. The Gospel of Christ knows of no other alternative, my brethren,—either we are saints, or our hearts are not right in the sight of God. We are well aware, indeed, that the term has changed its meaning and its scriptural character, through the misapplication of superstition and the mockery of infidelity. But the truth of inspiration remains the same. 'Without holiness, no man can see the Lord.' Either you are saints, or you are still in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.
But perhaps you will rfccept the name. Then look, my beloved brethren, look well to the character. Do you share in the communion of the Holy Spirit, so as to feel at times the sacred glow of love towards God and love towards man? Do you delight in the law of the Lord? Do you Jove his house and the place where his honor dwelleth? Do you watch your thoughts and pronounce the same strict judgment upon your words and actions which you believe to be most conformable to his precepts? Do you no longer relish the society of the irreligious or profane, and have you lost your taste for vain and sinful pleasures? Do you wil. lingly deny yourselves those indulgences of fashion and folly which Christian teachers usually concur in condemning jas inconsistent with the purity of a strict profession? Are * you zealous to perform acts of kindness and charity to your brethren, comforting, relieving, and assisting them to the utmost of your power, from the operation of Christian principle and feeling? Can you think of the presence of the angels of God with holy joy, and of the departed saints with grateful resignation? Do you sometimes experience the longing of sacred hope to be yourselves with Christ and with the assembly and Church of the first born, and with the spirits of the just made perfect? Do the things of time and sense oecupy your thoughts no more than their real value demands, and do the treasures of eternity absorb, as they ought to do, the best affections of your soul? Do you remember, day by day and night by night, that you are strangers and pilgrims upon earth, whose great business it is to seek that city which hath eternal foundations, whose maker and builder is God, and, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth to those that are before, do you press towards the mark for the prize of your high calling? Or, at the least, my brethren, although you may not be able to answer in the affirmative to all these enquiries, do you understand and long for these evidences that you are sanctified? There is a vast difference between the degrees of Christian attainment, a vast difference between the saint in the beginning of his progress, and the saint in the fulness of experienced piety, but the character of each is the same. Just as in the natural world, it is the same daylight which illuminates our path from the hour of misty dawn to that of meridian splendor. If, then, you should as yet be far from the possession of mature and vigorous sanctity, at least ask yourselves whether the day of divine grace has indeed begun to dawn upon your souls. Can you discern the things that belong to your peace, at least in the dim twilight of spirituality, and are you' advancing to that point where the sun of righteousness shall arise upon your hearts with healing in his wings, when the communion of the saints shall be felt and understood in all its loveliness, and purity, and peace, and joy? t
My beloved brethren, it is not the province of your minister to judge you. He is your fellow sinner, and the least o'f all the servants of the household of God. We preach holiness, not because we are holy, but because God is so. The same Gospel applies to ministers and people. Our piety cannot save you—neither can our defects and infirmities prevent your condemnation. The truth of the Almighty is open to 'us all—-the eyes of Him who is the searcher of hearts, are upon us. 'If our hearts condemn us not, then we may have confidence towards God, but if •our own hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts andt knoweth all things.' O then, examine yourselves truly whether ye be in the faith. Judge yourselves that ye be not judged of the Lord ; and may he who is mighty to save, grant you such holiness of heart, such sanctity of soul, such full communion of his Holy Spirit, that 'neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities., nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate you ifrois jhe love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.'