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THE CONSISTENT WALK OF THE BELIEVER.
ON SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 1840,
1 John ii. 6. “ He that saith hc abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked." It is the duty of the spiritual watchman | even weeping; that they are the ene. to warn the people “ from God." His mies of the cross of Christ; whose end warning must be addressed to two classes is destruction, whose God is their belly : of persons, the wicked and the righteous. and whose glory is in their shame, who He has only discharged half his duty, mind earthly things ;" they are men who when he warns the wicked, and proclaims profess to be the friends of Christ, but are to him, that if he goes on in his sins, he sensual and worldly. shall assuredly die. There remains The text speaks in the singular numanother important branch of duty still. ber; it does not speak in general terms, This will be evident to you from and say, they that say they abide in him, Ezekiel iii. 20, 21. No man ever ques- but “ he that saith.” It knocks at every tioned the propriety of warning the man's door, it speaks home to every wicked_but many doubt whether it be man's heart and conscience, more forcibly needful to sound a note of warning in than if it were expressed more generally. the ears of the righteous. But what Art thou a man that saith, I abide in saith God " again, when a righteous Christ ?-see to it that thou art walking man (that is, when a man professedly as he walked. King James was accusrighteous, a man that names the name tomed to say of a certain preacher, of Christ)-doth turn from his righteous “ whenever he preaches about death, I ness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a feel as if death were at my back.” Oh! stumbling block before him, he shall die : that God may make us, by his Holy because thou hast not given him warning, Spirit, to feel now as if that hell which he shall die in his sin, and his righteous- will devour carnal professors were at our ness which he hath done shall not be back, and that heaven were open before remembered; but his blood will I re- us, which is the place prepared for quire at thine hand. Nevertheless, if “ those who by patient continuing in well thou warn the righteous man, that the doing, seek for glory, honor and immorrighteous sin not, and he doth not sin, taliity.” he shall surely live, because he is There are three things which the text warned; also thou hast delivered thy suggests to us-1st. What is meant by soul.”
abiding in Christ. 2nd. The profession The text contains a warning to the of abiding in Christ. 3rd. What kind righteous, to those who are professedly of walk and conversation will justify followers of Christ, “ he that saith he our profession of abiding in Christ. abideth in him, ought himself also so to! 1. What is ABIDING in Christ. It walk even as he walked." It warns is not merely the first acting of faith by against unfruitful profession. It is neces- which a man lays hold of Christ, but it sary that such warning should be ad- is a continual acting by which a man dressed to all assemblies of professing keeps his hold of him. The Lord deChristians ; for, saith St. Paul, in Philip- clares it to be indispensable, that we pians iii. 18, 19. “many walk, of whom should not only lay hold, but that we I have told you often, and now tell you should hold him fast, as in Saint John's
Gospel, xv. 4. “ Abide in me and I in expressed that we can do nothing without you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of Christ. Are these things in your mind ? itself, except it abide in the vine, no more Are you dreaming that you have nothing can ye except ye abide in me." It is to do? Has that man nothing to do, not the beiny once joined to the vine who finds himself in a house enveloped that will make the branch fruitful; it is in flames—in a ship ready to sink? Has the continual adherance to, and perpetual a criminal on his trial nothing to do, who receiving out of the fulness that is in the is suspended between life and death ? stock of the vine. But some man may And is not this the state of every man in say—“you speak of abiding in Christ, as a the world naturally? Has not the God branch in the vine, yet my eyes have of supreme authority issued forth his never seen Christ, my hands have never commands, requiring perfect obedience handled him/he is out of my reach in thought, word, and deed ? Has not how then can I have any good reason to the same God denounced a terrible curse suppose that my soul has been brought against transgressors? Have you nothing into that vital union with him which is to do to keep the commandments of God? necessary to life and fruitfulness ?' Your | Nothing to do to escape the curse of God? ears, dear brethren, have heard the word | Yes, you have much to do, though perof Christ. That is the instrument by haps you have not hitherto been aware which he effects this union between the of it. Yet, as soon as the soul is awaksoul and himself. The word of Christ, ened to a sense of its obligations, this is, as it were, God's grafting knife, by passage meets it with another important which he cuts off the branch from the truth, “without me, ye can do nothing." corrupt stock of nature, inserts it into the You cannot keep the commandments of new and true stock, Christ Jesus the God—you cannot escape the curse of Lord; therefore, says our Lord, in Saint God without Christ; but with Christ, John's Gospel, xv. 7. “ if you abide in you can do all things—you can meet me,” that is a thing secret and hidden, every demand of God's holy law by his it is not discerned; then he immediately perfect righteousness—you can escape adds, to bring the matter to a practical every curse of that broken law, by the test, “and my words abide in you." I virtue of his finished atonement. do not ask you to see with your eyes, or Now, do these words abide with you ? feel with your hands some joint by which Are they habitually in your minds ? Do your soul is united to Christ-but I ask you feel from day to day, as you rise in you to consider, do the words of Christ the morning that you have a great deal to abide in you ;-if so, you abide in do as towards God, in comparison to Christ. Are you habitually conversant which every worldly business is as nothing, with the words of Christ ? Do you say and do you habitually feel, that Jesus is with Job, “I esteem the words of thy all your sufficiency for these things? Do mouth more than my necessary food;" — you cast your burdens on him ? Do you do you say with Jeremiah; “thy word was throw yourselves, in your weakness and found, and I did eat it, and it was to me helplessness into his arms? If this is the the joy and rejoicirg of my heart ?" Do habitual state of your mind, then there is you recognise any thing in your expe an abiding in Christ, then I can say— Be rience similar to the experience of Job of good cheer, you are a living branch in and Jeremiah ? If your conscience tells the living vine. We may sum up you, that the words of Christ do not what we have said, in the words of 24th abide in you, that they have not a place verse of this Chap. “let that therefore in you, that you do not delight to enter- abide in you which ye have heard from tain them in your heart and take counsel the beginning:” that is the word of with them.-your conscience may well Christ, the word of his law, the word of his tell you, that you are not aviding in Gospel,—“if that which you have heard Christ. The thing which is more hid from the beginning shall remain in you, den is brought to the test by that which ye also shall continue in the Son and in is more discernible. Take, for example, the Father ;' but if you are negligent of one word of Christ, in Saint John xv. that precious word, if it has not taken “ without me (severed from me) ye can root in your heart, this is an incontroverdo nothing." All that is important for tible evidence, that you are neither in man to know is contained in embryo in the Son nor in the Father, and if you are that one text. It is implied in the text, not, you are in the arms of the wicked that we have a great work to do it is one, you are in your sins, under sentence of death, you are reserved unto eternal your loyalty, and prove your adherence damnation, unless you repent, and turn to your sovereign? Would not such a to the Lord your God. Oh, repent and man be in danger of suffering as a rebel ? turn to him now, come, enter into Christ I say, this world is up in rebellion against by faith, abide in Christ, he stands with God, and is it safe for you to say, that open arms to receive every penitent sin- you will not take part with Christ, that ner, and the motto written over the door you will not range yourself under his of mercy is, “ him that cometh to me, I banner and wear his uniform, and acknowwill in no wise cast out.”
ledge yourselves to be his soldiers which II. THE PROFESSION OF ABIDING IN you promised to do at your baptism? We Christ,“ he that saith he abideth in read in St. John's Gospel, xii. 42, that him." This is not lightly to be passed many of the chief rulers believed on over. God ought to be glorified, not only Christ, and they thought they might then by our spirits, but by our bodies, by every be silent, and keep his name locked up member that we have, by our tongues. in their bosoms. Ask them, why do you It is not enough for us, as Paul tells us, not profess Christ, they will say- It is that we should believe with our hearts, enough to have the reality of faith, we but with our lips we are to make confes- need not expose ourselves to shame and sion of him unto salvation.-Rom. x. 10. danger, for the sake of mere profession; So important a thing is well-timed confes- and so_" because of the pharisees, they sion of Christ, that it is sometimes put did not confess him, lest they should be for faith itself, especially in days when put out of the synagogue.” But lest it men are exposed to danger on account of should be thought a light thing that they their profession. This would not be should thus hide their light, as sharp a sufficiently satisfactory at the present day censure as ever came from the pen of the when there is no danger, but when Paul Holy Ghost is added, “ they loved the wrote to the Hebrews, “ they endured a praise of men more than the praise of God.” great fight of afflictions," therefore, Chap. You may perhaps have incurred this very X. 23, he says, “let us hold fast the pro- censure, when in company you have heard ession of our faith without wavering." the name of God taken in vain, or someHere the profession of faith is put for thing profane, something that ought to faith itself; because it is a hard thing for have been rebuked, and your lips were a man to confess Christ when the sword sealed, because you were ashamed to of the enemy is at his throat. Yet Christ encounter the reproach of your godless requires, that we should confess him even companions. Now, what became of these at the very stake. When the Lord lighted chief rulers except they repented ? Look our candle, when he illuminated us by to St. Mark, viii. 38,--“whosoever his grace, he never intended, that that therefore shall be ashamed of me and of candle should be put under a bushel, but my words in this adulterous and sinful on a candlestick that it might give light generation, of him also shall the Son of to the whole house; he designed that his man be ashamed, when he cometh in the people should shine as lights in the midst glory of his Father with the holy angels.” of a crooked and perverse generation. If then we fear to make Christ ashamed But this intent of God would be defeated of us in the day of his glorious appearing, if a man might say, it is enough for me we must not be ashamed to confess him, to believe in Christ in my heart, it is and lift up our standard wherever we are. needless for me to confess him with my Yet we are to recollect, that the lips. I say, Satan would be very well | Scripture teaches us, not only to concontented with that faith, which would be fess Christ, but how to confess him. A ashamed to acknowledge Christ in the man might confess him in a way likely to face of the world. There are many who prove injurious to the cause of Christ, in deceive themselves, sadly in this point. a spirit by no means christian. Therefore They say it is enough for me to be reli. Peter says, in his first Epistle, iii. 15, gious, I need not talk about religion, it is “ Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts,'' enough for me to have the reality of it, it is not enough to have him on your I want nothing more, I will keep it to lips—“and be ready always to give an myself. This is a deadly delusion. Sup- answer to every man that asketh you a pose the whole country were up in rebel. reason of the hope that is in you with lion against the King, would it be enough meekness and fear.” Confess Christ with for you to say, I am loyal at heart, and humility and self-distrust, and this is the yet to refuse to take any step to show I way to honor him, and to take your pro. per stand as christians ;-compare that , have ceased to be beloved of God. We, with Hosea xiii. 1.-"when Ephraim then, if we would abide in the love of spake trembling, he exalted himself in Christ, must walk in holiness, must, as Israel ;"_when a servant of God is full the Psalmist says, have respect unto all of self distrust and deference to others, the commandments of God," then," humbling himself in the sight of God, says he, "shall I not be ashamed when I and tremblingly owning his Master's have respect to all thy commandments.” cause, then he exalts himself, his footing He does not say, when I come up to the is good and firm, and he is not likely to perfection of all thy commandments, but disgrace the name by which he is called; when I have respect unto them all, when but if a man avow his hope in Christ, in my heart is intent on universal obedience, a presumptuous, self righteous spirit, that without partiality to one precept above says to others, “ stand by, I am holier, another, for he who said, “thou shalt wiser, stronger than thou,” he is in great not bow down to, or worship graven danger.
images,” said also, “remember that thou II. WHAT KIND OF WALK CAN JUS- keep holy the sabbath day," he that said, TIFY OUR PROFESSION OF ABIDING IN thou shalt not steal, said also, “thou shalt Christ,—"he ought himself also so to not covet.” So that man will be ashamed walk, even as he walked.” If we would at the last, who is not, with his whole justify our profession by our walk, our heart seeking to walk according to every walk must be such as the walk of Jesus commandment of God. We are told Christ. Now, the term as is a term in that God's “commandments are not this place of similitude, not of equality, grievous," but there was one commandwe are not expected to walk with ment which was grievous, which was laid such persection as Jesus did, but to walk on Christ, that he should lay down his in a way like to him. It would be utterly life for the sheep, and die an accursed impossible that they who possess only a death. The nature which he assumed certain measure of God's Holy Spirit, shrunk from that, and yet he kept it ; should walk as he walked in whom that how much more all the other commands Spirit dwelt without measure; a ray of which were his delight, from which there light might as well be equal to the sun, was no shrinking. Thus, the man who or a drop of water to the whole ocean.- desires to approve himself as one that But while this equality to the walk of really abides in Christ, is under a holy Christ, is not and cannot be attained to, obligation, even if he is called to sham the similitude to Christ is indispensably and suffering, to obey. He is never callnecessary. God has predestinated his ed to undergo the curse ; for that is church to be conformed to the image of removed, he may be called to bow his his Son Jesus Christ, so, if there be not neck to the yoke of suffering for Christ's a similitude, then God's purpose must be sake, and surely, if he does so, he will disannulled, which cannot possibly be. readily walk in the other commandments If you, then, dear brethren, are not ex- of Christ, which are not so burdensome hibiting something of similitude to Christ, to flesh and blood. you cannot take to yourselves the comfort Look at the Lord Jesus Christ in all of that portion of scripture, which speaks the relations of life ; for though he did of God as calling, justifying, and glorify- not literally fill all of them, yet he virtu. ing his people ; you have not the marks ally did. See him as a child.—Little of being within the range of that portion children, look at the child Jesus, and of scripture.
behold him obeying his parents in the How did Christ walk? He walked in Lord, if you wish to shew yourselves a way of holiness; as mediator of his branches of the living vine, in like manner church, and head of the mystical body,“ obey your parents in the Lord.” he must needs be holy. He expresses Behold Christ as regarded his disciples; that very forcibly in St. John's Gospel, he was to them as a father to his children, xv. 10. where he says, “if ye keep my a master to his servants, a friend and commandments, ye shall abide in my brother to his friends and brethren; and love, even as I have kept my Father's see how Christ walked in these relations, commandments, and abide in his love;"- -Love was the main-spring of his grawhat saith the scripture, but that if it had cious and kind conversation among them, been possible for Christ to have failed in _,“ walk in love, as Christ also loved us," keeping of the commands of God, and “hath left us an example that we i ild be equally possible for him to should follow his steps.” See how he put on meekness and gentleness, bowels | orders; and if we join ourselves to of mercy, long-suffering and kindness in Christ, we must be ruled by Christ the midst of much ignorance, negligence we must submit to the rules which he has frowardness, unbelief, and innumerable ordained and settled, not only for our things that provoked him in his family; outward actions, but our very words and and if we desire to approve ourselves as thoughts; for Christ legislates for the abiding in Christ, we must learn thus to heart. If we do not so—if we are walk in our families, in the midst of daily not Christians all over, at all times, or crosses.
seeking to be so, how shall we have the Take one or two more particulars of face to say, I am Christ's ? Our conduct our Lord's walk. View him as a benefac-would put our profession to shame. What tor to the poor. He was very poor him have you professed at baptism ? St. Paul self, and yet it incidentally comes to light says, that “every man who is baptised that he was accustomed to give to the into Christ has put on Christ." Now, if poor, something was spared from the bag I meet a man who has not a coat on his which Judas held, to relieve their wants back or shoes on his feet, and that man
if we would approve ourselves as the tells me he has put on his clothes, what servants of Christ, we must remember judgment do I form of the truth of what the poor; we must contract our desires he says ? If I meet a man clothed in in many things, that we may have the rags, and ask him where he dwells, and more to relieve the wants of others. If he points to some splendid mansion, and Christ and his disciples had spent all says, that is my house, and points to their little upon themselves, they would some one passing by in splendid equihave had nothing for the poor; if you page, and says, there is my father and are in the habit of spending the utter- brother-how absurd would this be? most farthing on yourselves, indulging And yet, if we say we abide in Christ, your vanity in dress and other things that and do not walk as Christ walked, or do please the lust of the flesh, the lust of not endeavour, with humility of mind, ihe eyes, and the pride of life—what and a deep sense of our own short comwill you have to give to the poor, and ings, leaning on the Beloved, to walk in where will be your similitude to Christ? his footsteps,—we have reason to be
Again, see Christ in his dealings with ashamed before men and angels, and we his enemies. Behold him on the cross. shall be ashamed when we come to stand Hatred produces hatred naturally in our before the Son of Man. breasts; but hatred only begat love, only Get faith in Christ-get a real and made love to flow out more warm from abiding faith in Christ-be joined to the heart of Christ. See, how he, after him by faith, abide in him by faith. If he had been preaching all his life to his you do really abide in him by faith, you enemies, concluded his life by praying will receive grace to enable you to walk for them-." Father; forgive them, for as he walked. The Lord does not send they know not what they do.” Now, if forth his people to walk in their own we would approve ourselves as abiding in strength. He does not say-I have Christ, we must drink in something of quickened you, I have raised you from this spirit too. We must seek to get our the death of sin, and now go on in your hearts, which are so prone to malice and own strength, and walk in my way—but envy and hatred, changed into the simili- he says, “ I will dwell in them and walk tude of the heart of Jesus Christ. How in them.” If we would abide in Christ, shall we otherwise, brethren, justify our Christ will abide in us and walk in us. profession of being Christians. Even This is a spring of sufficient strength to the heathen, who joined themselves to enable us to do and to suffer the will of the schools of different philosophers, God and then, let us not be ashamed to were accustomed to imitate their masters. confess Christ-and then let us take In the Church of Rome, there are dif- care that our whole conversation may be ferent orders of religion, and when men such as to justify our profession. And join themselves to these orders—the may God give us grace that we may not Franciscans, or Dominicans, or any fail in any of these things. Amen. others—they submit to the rules of these
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