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mate the divine abhorrence which this treachery | be the first to forsake it, and thereby to bring can never fail to call forth. It is the revolt of reproach on his name. And accordingly, when one who had sworn allegiance, it is the unfaith- on one occasion he saw a great multitude followfulness of one who had been treated and trusted ing him, attracted for the hour by the fame of as a friend,—it is a dishonour put on Christ by his mighty deeds,-and impressed perhaps with one who had long affected to be devoted to his the idea that the cause of a master who had all cause. Of an iniquity so marked and so base it power at his command, could have no trials for is not enough to say, that it must exclude its those who embraced it, he turned suddenly upon perpetrator from the kingdom of heaven. Its them, and with this sharp sentence, as with a character and desert can be adequately depicted cutting wind, he separated the chaff from the only by holding it up as an act which involves wheat, saying, 'If any man will come after me, and necessitates his consignment to everlasting let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, ruin. It is a drawing back unto perdition. He and follow me,' Matt. xvi. 24. whose eyes are as a flame of fire, who looketh not on the outward appearance, but who searcheth and trieth the heart, clearly discerned all the while the hypocrisy which feigned lips and a fair profession were employed to conceal. And though he be indeed slow to wrath, yet is he also of great power, and will by no means acquit the wicked.
But we are not of them who draw back.' That we may not be found among that number, nothing is more needful than to consider well | beforehand what the service of Christ requires. • What man sitteth down to build a tower without first counting the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all they that behold begin to mock him, saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. Or what king, going to war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth, whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?' Luke xiv. 28-31. In entering the service of Christ, we are proceeding to build a tower, strong enough to defend our souls from the terrors of death, the sentence of condemnation, and the agonies of hell. In joining his standard we are proceeding to make war on the devil, the flesh, and the world. In a work so great,-in a warfare so severe, we must lay our account with difficulties and trials grievous to be borne. It is indispensable therefore, that we learn to look them in the face-to count their numbers-to measure their force-lest coming on us unawares, we give way before them and be tempted to draw back unto perdition.' For this very reason the Saviour so often and so urgently warns us of the perils and perplexities that beset the Christian's course. He will seduce no one into his service under the vain imagination, that in following him the way will be all smoothness and sunshine. Those who engage in it with views so mistaken, will, as he well knows,
The offence of this cross' may come in a great variety of ways. It may come in the form of suffering for righteousness' sake. 'He that receiveth the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it. Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while; for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and bye he is offended,' Matt. xiii. 20, 21. It is a small thing to bear the name and profession of a Christian, when no sacrifice of personal ease, or substance, or safety is required. But it takes a strong faith to maintain that name, and to hold fast that profession, in the midst of bonds, and stripes, and imprisonments, and death.
Nor let it be thought that there can be no persecution without the sword. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer persecution,' 2 Tim. iii. 12. In the vast majority of cases this persecution is and must be something totally different from open violence. There is a persecution of ridicule; a persecution of calumny and reproach; a persecution of personal unkindness; in many forms as hard to bear, and often as fatal in its influence, as the prison or the stake. Truly is it said that the fear of man bringeth a snare.
But men may be tempted to draw back where no outward attack is made upon their stedfastness at all. Every man has within his own breast ample materials out of which to form a grudge against the cause of Christ. If that cause demand a portion of his worldly goods, his avarice is wounded, and he complains of the burden imposed. If it interfere with the prosecution of his carnal views and schemes, he begins to look upon it with impatience and discontent, as an inconvenient obstacle in his way. And what is perhaps the commonest case of all, when its claims are found to jar against his accustomed way of life-to condemn his love of pleasure, his selfish spirit, his attachment to the world,—he soon learns to look on it as an irksome restraint
from which he longs to be free. Religious exercises in which before he was wont to join, are gradually discontinued,-religious society which he formerly frequented, is more and more forsaken -religious objects which he had been used to encourage are at length abandoned, and everything too plainly indicates that he is drawing back unto perdition.
‘Blessed is the man that endureth temptation,' Jam. i. 12. He that endureth to the end shall be saved,' Matt. x. 22. And this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,' 1 John v. 4. We are not of them who draw back, but of them who believe;' walking by faith and not by sight,-enduring as seeing him who is invisible. Faith is the secret of the Christian's strength, it lifts him above the world even while he is in it; it enables him to have his conversation in the heavens. It teaches him that 'our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. For we know, that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,' 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18; v. 1. Thus following on to know the Lord, forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, the true believer holding on his way stedfast and unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord -at length receives 'the end of his faith, even the salvation of his soul.'
WE are here plainly taught that the religion which conducts the soul in safety through the troubles of time, into the glorious rest of a happy eternity, is not a transient emotion, but an abiding principle, practical, permanent, progressive, like the morning light, shining more and more unto the perfect day. It is he who not only begins, but endures to the end, that shall be saved. It is he who not only fights, but overcomes, that shall have the wreath of victory bound about his brow.
And is there any thing hard or unreasonable in these terms? Is it not enough for the disciple that he be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord? It was by a similar course the Saviour himself won his way to that throne whose glory, with infinite condescension, he thus engages to share with his people. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.' The apostle Paul has given us a noble commentary on this elevating promise of the Saviour in the twelfth chapter of the Epistle to the Hebrews, where he thus writes in ver. 1, 2: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now set down at the right hand of the throne of God.' 'For consider,' adds he, (ver. 3.) 'consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.'
1. If we would hope to enter into the fellowship of Christ's glory in heaven, we must be contented to enter into the fellowship of his sufferings on earth. It is as true of the Christian as of his Lord, 'No cross, no crown.' This language may, indeed, appear unmeaning or extravagant to unspiritual professors and mere men of the world. Perhaps to some young or inexperienced disciples it may seem repulsive and severe, But, as in the meditation of this morning, occasion was found to observe, the Saviour will have no one to be allured into his service by false and flattering representations concerning it. His yoke, indeed, in one sense, is easy, and his burden light, for it brings peace and gladness to the soul. But still with a fatal perversity are fallen men prone to break his bands, and to cast his ask in what the conflicts of the Christian consist, cords from them. If, therefore, any one should let him know that the first and sorest of them all is with himself. In subduing pride, in uprooting selfishness, in mortifying those fleshly lusts that war against the soul, he will find ample materials for a painful and protracted struggle. And while the corruption of his own sinful and deceitful heart will furnish fuel for many fiery trials within, the world that lieth in wickedness will not leave him long a stranger to trials from without. 'In the world ye shall have tribnlation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,' John xvi. 33.
2. And this should remind us that in pursu- | And who can ever want an encouragement to ing this self-denying career, the believer may fight the good fight of faith,' who has the sure reckon, with entire confidence, on the tender prospect of being at length received into the joy sympathy and unfailing support of his gracious of his Lord-welcomed to the mansions Christ is Lord. The words of the text, which tell him now preparing for them that love him, with these of the struggle, assure him it is one through gracious words, 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, which, in an infinitely more aggravated form, his inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the Saviour has gone before him. For in that he foundation of the world?' Matt. xxv. 24. himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.' If it be soothing to enjoy the sympathy of an earthly friend, how unspeakably more sustaining, more elevating the sympathy of the Son of God; of him who not only is 'touched with the feeling of our infirmities,' but is 'mighty to save.' For 'now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the fire kindle upon thee; for I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour,' Isa. xliii. 1-3.
3. But once more, the Christian's warfare on earth is needful to make him 'meet for the inheritance of the saints;' it is soon to terminate in that fulness of pleasure which is at God's right hand. Does the long absent mariner grudge to encounter the toils and privations of the deep, when home and country are awaiting his return? Does the soldier shrink from the field of conflict, when victory is already within his grasp? And shall the Christian be deterred or daunted in bearing a cross which he is so soon to exchange for a crown that fadeth not away. It is a faithful saying, If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with him?' 2 Tim. ii. 11, 12. True, indeed, the spirit of self-indulgence might prompt the wish to be allowed to reap the harvest without being subjected to the husbandman's toil. Pride may whisper that the probationary process is unneeded, It is, however, for the very purpose of humbling pride, and subduing selfishness, of teaching us to live for, and to glory in Christ, alone, that the cross is laid upon us. He who 'knows what is in man,' sees how greatly this discipline is required; and 'whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.'
Finally, then, 'cast not away your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God ye might receive the promise.' 'For yet a little while, and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry,' Heb. x. 36, 37.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples,' John xv. 8. WHEN Christ came into the world as a Redeemer, the design and effect of his mission were not only to bring peace on earth and good-will to men, but also and chiefly to give glory to God in the highest.' He was himself, in his own person, the brightness of the Father's glory; and by the work given him to do, he was to make known even to the principalities and powers in heavenly places the manifold wisdom of God. The heavens, indeed, declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy work. His eternal power and Godhead are clearly seen, being understood by the things which he hath made. But the testimony to the divine perfections and government which these works of creation afford is dark as midnight, compared with the effulgence of that revelation which is made in and through Christ. Whosoever hath seen him hath seen the Father.'
But while the glory of the Father is thus manifested directly, and supremely in the person of the Son, that glory is reflected and multiplied, in ten thousand forms, in the souls of his ransomed people. They are God's husbandry; they are God's building. Washed, and justified, and sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God, they bear his image as new creatures, created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works. They are 'God's witnesses,' exhibiting in the graces of a regenerated nature a most blessed and impressive evidence of the depth and tenderness of divine compassion, of the unsearchable riches of divine love, of the awful majesty of divine justice, of the attractive beauties of divine holiness, of the infinite resources of divine wisdom and power. Nothing, accordingly, is or can be more dishonouring to God, than a Christian profession stained by ungodliness. It is as if the sun, instead of sending forth light and warmth to gladden and vivify the earth, and thereby to illustrate the benignity of its great Creator,—were to
radiate darkness and death. Every disciple of Jesus is a light of the world, whose privilege and whose duty it is so to let that light shine before men, that they seeing his good works, may glorify the Father who is in heaven. If, therefore, instead of showing forth, out of a good conversation, the praises of him who hath called him to glory and to virtue,' he be found in no wise differing from other men, walking according to the course of this world, living in divers lusts and passions, he is doing what in him lies to bring discredit and reproach on the name and the work of Christ. Had he never pretended to name the name of Jesus,'—had he been an idolator, an infidel, or an atheist, his unholy life would have been nothing but the natural and appropriate illustration of human depravity. But such a life, associated with a Christian profession, is a constant calumny against the Son of God, as well as a gross indignity to the Father who sanctified and sent him into the world. It is a libel upon the whole scheme of redemption, which is thus made to appear as if it had been devised and wrought out in vain.
'Herein therefore,' said Christ, 'is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.' The Father is glorified, in and by the godliness of believers, because thereby his wisdom in the great work of salvation is conspicuously vindicated, his faithfulness proclaimed, the perfection of his moral government displayed and confirmed.
And what an elevating motive does this consideration present to all 'who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity,' to perfect holiness in the fear
of the Lord. To fail in or forget this, is so far to frustrate the great end for which their Saviour suffered and died. Even if ultimately, through the abundant mercy and long-suffering of God, they should be received into the kingdom of heaven, they are now at least helping to rob the Son of his reward, and to disappoint the Father of his aim. Whereas by growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ,-and being 'filled with the fruits of righteousness,' their whole life becomes a continual service to the praise and glory of God.'
So,' added Jesus, shall ye be my disciples.' He is not truly a disciple who brings forth no fruit unto God. 'Faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone,' Jam. ii. 17,-it is a pretence, a mockery, a delusion. The faith which is the gift of God,'—which unites the soul to Christ, is necessarily productive, according to its strength, of personal holiness. It works by love,-constraining the believer to live not unto himself, but unto Christ who died for him and who rose again.
It overcomes the world,—because it becomes to him 'the evidence of things not seen, and the substance of things hoped for,' and thus elevates his desires and thoughts to the things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. It is vain therefore for any one to pretend to be a disciple of Jesus, whose character and conduct, like a withered branch, are wholly destitute of the graces of the Spirit. The test is sure and unfailing, Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.' And to those, on the other hand, who pay no respect to, and feel no reverence for his authority, he addresses this indignant remonstrance, 'Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?' Luke vi. 46. And that the former class of men may be encouraged and comforted, and the latter warned and alarmed, he hath put on record in his own word this significant assurance, Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like. He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock; and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded on a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man, that without a foundation, built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great,' Luke vi. 47-49.
Add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godli ness; and to godliness, brotherly-kindness; and to brotherly-kindness, charity,' 2 Pet. i. 5—7. FAITH is the vital principle by which the soul of man, naturally dead in trespasses and sins, is made and kept alive. The instant the sinner is taught and enabled by the word and Spirit of God to believe in Christ, to look unto and confide in him as the Lord his righteousness, he is quickened into spiritual life-he is joined unto Christ and is made a partaker of the divine nature. But though the renewal of his soul is thenceforth begun, ordinarily it is no more than begun, and it is only by travelling daily between his own emptiness and the fulness treasured up in Christ that he at length attains unto the measure of the stature of a perfect man.
This is a great truth, which Christians are prone to forget. When they have been awak
his followers to be not only harmless as doves,' pure and upright in their intentions and desires, but wise as serpents,' having their whole conduct under the direction of a sound understanding, informed and guided by the word and will
ened out of their original unconcern about divine | be either honoured or advanced. He requires things, and have once fled for refuge to the hope set before them in the gospel, they are too ready to relapse, not indeed into their former deadness, for while the incorruptible seed of the word remains in them, that is made impossible, but into much of their former indifference-they of God. And to knowledge, languish as it were between life and death,-at intervals making some feeble movement towards God, and again suffering themselves to be overborne by sloth and self-indulgence.
3. Temperance. This is a word full of meaning. It is not to be taken in the limited sense in which, in common language, it is often used, as if it were intended to refer to abstinence from excess of one particular kind. The temperance here spoken of, is a far more comprehensive term. It is 'self-restraint' in general; the subjection of all the appetites and passions, the feelings and impulses of our nature, to the government of Christian principle. To this temperance, this constant exercise of self-command and self-denial, must be added,
4. Patience. Christians 'have need of patience.' Anticipating and forewarning his disciples of the trials that awaited them, this was the Saviour's exhortation, In your patience possess ye your
grace, that we are exhorted to regard those events which serve to cherish and strengthen it, however painful in themselves, as being truly blessings. 'My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, knowing this, that the trial of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing,' Jam. i. 2-4. But this patience must be exercised in suffering, not for evil-doing, but for well-doing. Christians must add to patience,
It is to guard us against this sin and danger we are here reminded, that the process and the agency by which the soul is 'renewed after the image of him that created' us, are of a kind to give full scope and exercise to all the capacities of our nature,—to call forth and cultivate the understanding, the conscience, and the whole heart and mind of man, that our own energies and responsibilities are all brought into play. That, in a word, 'God so worketh in us both to will and to do,' in carrying forward the sanctification of the soul, as that we ourselves are both enabled and required to work out our own sal-souls.' And so necessary and so valuable is this vation with fear and trembling.' We are not to rest contented with the first and fundamental step of the soul's conversion. Besides this, giving all diligence,' we must add to our faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherlykindness; and to brotherly-kindness, charity.' It is thus we are to make our 'calling and election sure.' 1. In this series of graces to be cultivated and exercised by the people of God, next to the faith which is their root and spring, the first place is assigned to virtue. Add to your faith, virtue.' The proper meaning of the word so translated is courage or fortitude. If any man,' said Jesus, 'will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me,' Mat. xvi. 24. To confess Christ before men; to hold fast the profession of faith in him without wavering; to cleave to him through good report and bad report, is a service in which the timid and cowardly are sure to fail. This courage, however, which the Christian is to add to his faith, is not the reckless daring that would rush into conflict with needless difficulties. The courage of the Christian must be regulated by an enlightened mind: he must add to virtue,
5. Godliness. The Christian must sanctify the Lord God in his heart,' so that however ready the world may be to speak evil of him, as of an evil-doer, they may be ashamed of their false accusations when they behold his 'good conversation in Christ.' It is this good conscience towards God,'-this purity of heart,this genuine desire to do all things' to the divine glory, which constitute the true disciple of him who hath commanded his followers to be holy, as he also is holy. Finally, to godliness must be added,
6. Brotherly-kindness. And to brotherlykindness, charity;' twin graces-separate manifestations of one and the same spirit,-that is, love to man, founded on and flowing from the love of God. Christ's new commandment' was 2. Knowledge. 'I bear them record,' said that his disciples should love one another. It is Paul, speaking of the Jews, that they have a one of the special marks of the Christian that he zeal of God, but not according to knowledge,' 'loves the brotherhood;' loves them with a pecuRom. x. 2. It is not by any such blind and in- | liar affection as being fellow-members of Christ, discriminate ardour that the cause of Christ is to and reflecting in their regenerated souls the out