« AnteriorContinuar »
follow him, you must enter in marked with it also. O search and examine yourselves whether the blood of sprinkling has come upon you or not! It is of the greatest importance to determine this, for your eternal state depends upon it. Would you know then. whether you have received it. Do you prize and value it? This is one test that it is yours. It is the great characteristic of those who are uninterested in it, that they undervalue it. "Christ crucified is to the Jews a stumbling-block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." Do you feel that you have needed it? Has sin been a weight and a burthen to you? Have you loathed the defilement of it? I speak even to the most correct among you. Have your vanities, your waste of time, your alienation from God, pricked your consciences? Remember that to feel the guilt of sin deeply, it is not necessary to be, in the world's sense, a deep sinner, but to have a clear and certain conviction of the holiness and truth of God's word and his requirements. Are you, in a word, come to the blood of Jesus? Have you drawn nigh unto him? I need not say that I mean with your hearts. This should be our earnest desire, and to that end every means of grace should be used. For we must remember that as election is a divine work, and as redeeming is a divine work, so is the effectual application of redemption a divine work also, and it is to this, in the last place, that I wish to draw your attention from the words before us. 1 1 Cor. i. 23, 24.
We proceed, therefore, to consider what the text tells us concerning THE HOLY SPIRIT IN RELATION TO THE WORK OF ETERNAL SALVATION. Believers are elect according to the foreknowledge of God. They are sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ. They are SANCTIFIED BY THE OPERATION OF THE HOLY GHOST.
The first idea of sanctification is that of our being set apart and dedicated to God. And as believers are set apart to be sprinkled, so are they set apart for holy purposes, to be purified as "a peculiar people zealous. of good works." This is the invariable idea attached to sanctification, and the word is not only used for the first act of our being set apart and dedicated, but for the further purposes and duties in which the believer is to be exercised. In one sense, therefore, it is a single act, that is, when it leads the believer "to lay hold of the hope's in Jesus, and to embrace the justification that is in him; in that sense as justified once so sanctified once. But in the further sense of advancing in the knowledge of God, and of "growing in grace," and in conformity to Christ, it is a continual and a progressive act. I conceive that much confusion arises from not attending to this. Converting grace is one act, the renunciation of self, the turning to Christ, is one act of the heart wrought by the Spirit of God, who convinces of sin, and manifests Christ, and disposes the heart to embrace Christ. But re
3 Heb. vi. 18.
21 Peter ii. 9.
42 Peter iii. 18.
newing and restoring grace is a continued act. Thus we are called upon to "be renewed in the spirit of our mind." The Holy Spirit sanctifies unto the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, produces that change of heart and nature which is essential to the embracing the covenant of mercy, and which is simultaneous with it. This work of the Holy Spirit has reference to our nature, as the work of Christ has to our persons. By justification, or the receiving of the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, we are brought into a state of acceptance and pardon, and are invested with the righteousness of Christ in a judicial sense. Now in this there can be no degree. If we have laid hold of the righteousness of Christ, that righteousness is perfect, and we have it as much at one moment as at another; and the weakest believer has it as much as the most advanced apostle. But sanctification, as regards the life of the believer, consists of degrees. It has a growth arising out of the very perfectness of the former work. For it is by holding forth to the believer the certainty that he is "complete in Jesus,”6 and thus removing fear, and filling him with gratitude and love, that he is constrained to give himself wholly to the Lord. And this we should say, that the more clearly the believer sees the free and full justification that he has in Christ, the more he will be led to honour him and to glorify him. I may appear, perhaps, to be labouring this point unnecessarily; but it has always struck me as one of im5 Ephes. iv. 23. 6 Coloss. ii. 10.
mense importance; and as one, the true knowledge of which is at the root both of our peace and holiness. If you would enjoy peace you can only have it by looking to Christ as the ground of your justification, you can take nothing with you which can tend to procure pardon for you; and when you would advance in holiness you must think of the justification which you have obtained, for holiness of living flows from this. And as you And as you should neither expect nor look for advance in that which is your title to glory, the righteousness of your Saviour, you should, on the contrary, look daily and labour diligently for advancement in inward holiness and conformity to God's image. For your salvation let your prayer and your plea be, that you may be found in Christ, not having your own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith;" and in that be prepared to meet the charge which the accuser of the brethren shall bring against you.1 "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died." But for the matter of your progress in the divine life, let it be your constant aim and your earnest prayer to be "perfecting holiness in the fear of God." I would then close this division of my subject, as I have each of the others, by endeavouring to turn it into a subject of profitable inquiry.
Rev. xii. 10.
7 Philip. iii. 9.
2 Rom. viii. 33, 34.
3 2 Cor. vii. 1.
And this last, after all, is that in which we are most directly interested, for this plain reason, that sanctification is the sign and evidence of our interest in justification. Election is a purpose in the heart of God, (which can only be known by its fruits,) nor is the "redemption that is in Christ Jesus," the actual sprinkling of the blood, in which election ends, to be known but by its effects; and to this test we must come. Whatever pretences we may make to an interest in the cleansing blood of Christ, if we cannot show the consequences of it in our lives, they must be false. For "if any man, (saith the apostle,)" saith he abideth in him," (that is, in Christ,) he ought himself also to walk even as he walked." Would you then know if you have partaken of the Spirit, try it in this way. Has the Spirit by the word of God, which is his instrument, been at work upon your hearts to renew and change them? There are many who have a feeling of some working of the Spirit in a way of conviction, but it ceases there. Has the Spirit of Christ by the power of the gospel, been at work to change your hearts, to make them new, to turn you, as it were, quite about, which is what is meant by conversion; to make you far different from what you were before; has he thus worked in you to obedience? I would not be misunderstood as meaning to all obedience. As if, even after sanctification, this were. possible. An apostle was constrained to say, “With the mind I serve the law of God, but with the flesh 5 1 John ii. 6.
+ Rom. iii. 24.