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and every exercise of faith tends to a life of faith on him who loved us, and gave himself for us. The more we read the holy Scriptures, the more we shall imbibe their spirit, and be formed after their model. It is thus the word of Christ dwells in us richly, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. And here it is worthy of notice, that the general strain of the apostolic exhortation is directed to habitual religion ; a religion seated in the affections, and regulating, at all times and under all circumstances, the whole conduct of the man. Simplicity in giving, diligence in ruling, cheerfulness in showing mercy, love without dissimulation, abhorrence of evil, cleaving to that which is good, being kindly affectioned one to another, with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another ; not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer ; distributing to the necessity of the saints, given to hospitality-are all expressive, not of one or two particular acts, but a life of devotedness to God, and kindness to men. All the pious acts of a Christian are represented, by the apostle, as being joined together, and as supporting and sustaining each other; and all as flowing from the habit of piety in the soul. Hence, we are exhorted to add to our faith, virtue ; and to virtue, knowledge ; and to knowledge, temperance ; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness ; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity. When these graces are continually exercised, they minister the one to the other, and fortify the soul against every encroachment of sin. And to whatever acts we are exhorted by the apostle, they are considered as so many steps in a race, each of which served to strengthen our piety, and contribute to the certainty of our success in gaining the prize.
4. Holy habits are friendly to a life of communion with God, by which the soul becomes more and more prepared for the inheritance of the saints in light. He that keepeth his commandments, dwelleth in God, and God in him. The union which has been formed be. tween the believer and God, becomes permanent, and the intercourse uninterrupted. The mind is continually stayed upon God, and kept in perfect peace. When true piety is wrought into a habit, then the peuce of a believer becomes as a river, and his righteousness as the waves of the sea. This is the state of mind in which mercy and truth meet together, and righteousness and peace embrace each other-here the work of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. We have a beautiful illustration of this state of mind in the prophet Habakkuk, in which he gives us a most glowing description of his confidence in God, and of his resignation to the allotments of divine providence: Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines ; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat ; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls ; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my
salvation. The same state of mind was attained by the Apostle Paul; he declares that he had arrived not only to a state of entire contentment, but gloried in tribulation, and even took pleasure in infirmities, in stripes, and in imprisonments, that the power of Christ might rest upon him. Here is a state of confirmed habits of piety, and of uninterrupted peace of mind, arising from constant communion with God.' This is the consummation of human happiness, and perfection of earthly bliss; a state of entire consecration to God. And this, my brethren, is that state of complete sanctification, of holy obedience, and of constant blessedness, after which we should be continually pressing.
(1.) In the conclusion of our remarks, permit me to urge upon you, in the first place, the vast importance of a right beginning in religion. If we start wrong in the outset, the faster we run the wider we shall stray, and we shall find it the more difficult to obtain the right path. If we mistake conviction for conversion, and an outward reformation of manners for an inward change of heart, we shall still remain under the power and corruption of sin, and shall be wholly unable to attain Christian perfection. But if we enter in at the door of the sheep-fold, we shall go in and out, and find pasture. The reason why so many are not progressive in religion, is for the want of it; they have never been united to Christ by faith and love, and by a spiritual insertion into him, as the branch is united to the vine; and, consequently, they possess no vitality. Having no connexion with Christ, the true vine, they bring forth no fruit
, and, as dead branches, are taken away. Having no oil in their vessel, the lamp soon expires—having no root in themselves, they wither away and die, under the scorching rays of a burning sun. It is, then, of the first importance, that a true work of grace be wrought in our heart, and that on this subject we not only entertain correct views, but that we also experience the sanctifying and renewing influences of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts; and are thus fitted and prepared for the service of God, and for the enjoyment of his presence here and hereafter.
(2.) Consider, in the second place, the importance of performing every act of duty with an eye to the glory of God. This is strictly enjoined in the Scriptures. We are directed by the apostle, whether we eat, or whether we drink, or whatsoever we do, to do all to the glory of God. We should set the Lord continually before our eyes, and, at all times, and under all circumstances, so live and so act as will be well pleasing in his sight. This course of conduct will tell in the divine life. It is the means of accumulating a store of heavenly wealth, and of preparing us for the employments and enjoyments in another and better world.
(3.) Finally, permit me to urge upon you the importance of progression in Christian holiness. We have a beautiful illustration of the nature and importance of this doctrine, in a vision recorded in the forty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel. He measured a thousand
cubits, the waters were to the ancles ; a thousand cubits more, the waters were to the knees; a thousand cubits more, the waters were to the loins; a thousand cubits more, they became a river that could not be forded. The waters were risen, and they were waters to swim in. Now, if Ezekiel had not passed through all these distances of a thousand cubits each-had he remained stationary at the margin of the river, then the waters had not risen. But as he advanced forward, the depth of the waters gradually increased, till he found water to swim in. And so, my brethren, if we would increase in knowledge and holiness, we must not remain stationary, but pass on to the higher grades of experience. We must improve the graces of religion which we have already attained; for it would be useless for God to bestow additional grace, while that remains dormant which he has already communicated.
On the Entire Sanctification of the Whole Person to God.
“The very God of peace sanctify you wholly ; and I pray God your whole person, the spirit and the soul, and the body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—1 Thess. v. 23.
Some have doubted, and others maintained, that perfection in holiness was attainable in this life. One cause of this diversity of sentiment arises from understanding the terms used in different senses; under such circumstances, the controversy becomes a war of ideas, and not merely a war of words; for all must admit, who believe the Bible, that the doctrine of Christian perfection, in some sense, is true, because it is a doctrine which the Holy Spirit has seen fit to express in this very language. And this doctrine was enjoined and inculcated both by Jesus Christ and his apostles. It forms one of the most distinguished features of the doctrine of the gospel, and is interwoven into all its precepts and promises. It is clearly and fully expressed in the language of the text : And may the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole person, the spirit, and the soul, and the body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle here prays, in the language of Dr. Scott, that the “very God of peace would sanctify Christians wholly, and in respect to their entire nature, as consisting of a rational and immortal soul, an animal life, with its various sensitive appetites, and a material body ; that every sense, member, organ, and faculty, might be completely purified, and devoted to the service of God; and that thus they might
be preserved blameless till the coming of Christ.” And such is the doctrine in which we believe, and which we inculcate. And hav. ing, in a former discourse, more fully explained it, and having also shown how the spirit of holiness is introduced into the heart, we shall now proceed more fully to illustrate and enforce the doctrine from the provisions, requirements, and promises of the gospel.
1. We proceed, then, in the first place, to show that God has made provisions in the gospel for the entire sanctification of his people.
1. That the gospel contains provisions for the entire sanctification of the people of God, is evident from its numerous declarations, that this was the end proposed in the humiliation, sufferings, and death of Christ. Jesus Christ submitted to the paintul, shameful, and ignominious death of the cross, that he might be the means of removing both the guilt and pollution of sin. To this the inspired writers bear witness with one consent. He gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works. He gave himself for us that he might sanctify and cleanse us with the washing of water, by the word, that he might present us to himself holy and without blemish. And he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him that died for them, and rose again. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son, in the likeness of sinful flesh, for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sin, might live unto righteousness. These, and other passages of the same class, declare in the plainest language, that provi. sions are made in the gospel, not only for our justification, but also for our entire sanctification ; and that one of the express objects of the humiliation of Christ, was to make this provision. The gospel clearly teaches that Christ had direct reference to our entire sanctification in all that he has done and suffered for us. Hence, the love of Christ in laying down his life for us, is proposed as a motive to influence our love and animate our obedience; and we are accordingly exhorted to consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest we be wearied and faint in our
2. As a farther confirmation of this doctrine, we observe that this is the end proposed in our regeneration. Under the gospel dispensation, provisions are made for the regeneration of the human heart—the renovation of all the powers and faculties of the soul, by which a new direction is given those powers and faculties, in order that we may be wholly and entirely consecrated to God. That our entire sanctification to God is the end proposed in our regeneration, is fully confirmed by the uniform testimony of the inspired writers. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature ;
old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new. This new creation is wrought in the soul, in order that the old life of sin might cease, and a new life of holy obedience be commenced ; and such are the natural and legitimate effects of this saving change. A new heart will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you ; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh; and I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my commandments, and do them. Whosover is born of God, overcometh the world. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him; and he cannot sin because he is born of God. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. The language here used is explicit, and very strong and decisive. It fully and expressly asserts that the effects of this saving change result in an entire and uniform submission to God; in a consecra. tion of the whole person, the spirit, and the soul, and the body, to his service. The entire consecration of the soul to God is certainly implied in the doctrine of regeneration ; for how can it be said that a soul is regenerated while it remains immersed in sin? and to what purpose is the doctrine inculcated, if sin is still to reign in our mortal bodies ? It is certainly declared in the Bible that the design of regeneration is, that, being dead to sin, we might live unto right
3. The truth of this doctrine is also confirmed from the fact, that the Holy Spirit is imparted to believers for the very purpose of perfecting them in holiness. The Scriptures declare, speaking of believers, that God will put his Spirit within them, and that it shall dwell in them, and cause them to walk in his statutes and do them. The Spirit of God is imparted to his people, that it may become to them a teacher, a sanctifier, and a comforter. By the communication of the Holy Spirit, the soul is filled with light, and holiness
, and love; and by the opperation of these heavenly principles, the mind is kept in perfect peace.
(1.) The Holy Spirit dwelling in a believer becomes to him a Teacher. The young convert knows but little beyond the first principles of the Oracles of God. He is, to a great extent, ignorant of the deceitfulness of sin, the devices of Satan, and the wiles of the Devil, whereby that subtle adversary beguiles us from the simplicity that is in Christ. Now, to remedy all these defects, the Holy Spirit is imparted as an inward monitor, who will fully fortify the soul against every attack of the adversary. He will gradually open things to us as we are able to bear them, and with increased knowledge he will give us senses proportionably exercised to discern good and evil, and this will lead us on to perfection. On this subject, the inspired writers have spoken with great clearness and precision ; they declare that this powerful agency, of the Holy Spirit is extended to every part of divine truth, and to the whole range