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like the Apostle, may mean no more by them than this, that Christ's people are those only in whom the Spirit of Christ abides.
St. JUDE, 20, 21,
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith,
praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
WITHOUT entering into a discussion of such points relating to the Epistle of Jude as are open to doubt, it is clear on the face of it, that it was written late amongst the books of the New Testament, after many Christian churches had been for many years in existence.
Thus, in common with some others of the epistles, it is, in a manner, a transition to that state of the Church which we ourselves and our fathers have for so many generations witnessed; a state in which the truths of the Gospel have already lost their freshness to our minds; the first impression has had time to cool,
and the evil of our nature, which had been checked for a moment, is again breaking out fatally. But the Epistle of Jude differs from our experience in this, that although it was written after Christianity had for some time existed, yet it was so near its beginning that the evil which then was most dangerous bore, even in the midst of its mischief, the marks of that great power which had given occasion to it. I mean that the evil was not that of our common worldliness and selfishness, but was a direct perversion of that great excitement, that awakening of new hopes and feelings, which the Gospel had brought into the world. The evil was a fanaticism of wickedness; and our ordinary state of mind in these days, is far enough removed from fanaticism.
But though the evil was different, yet the way to meet the evil was the same then as now, Whether Christianity be corrupted or neglected, it is
pure Christianity which must still be the cure. And how does Jude express this pure Christianity ?
Building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." How like is the language of all the writers of the New Testament to one another, when they come to the sum and substance of our principles and practice! “ Building yourselves up on your most holy faith ;" that
is, in St. Paul's words, as we had them in the epistle of this morning, “Keeping in memory that Gospel which was delivered to you;" and that Gospel was, to use again his own words, “that Christ died for our sins, and was buried, and rose again the third day.” It is still the same thing, whether it be called “our most holy faith,” or the “revealed secret of godliness,” it still relates to the person of Jesus Christ, that He died for us, and rose again.
On this foundation, on our belief of this truth, the goodness of our lives is to be built up; the goodness of our lives, and of each particular portion of them. And we see how simple in point of words, how soon spoken, how soon heard, and how easily remembered, this foundation is. It is also very easily understood, at least understood so far as to enable us to work by it, or in the words of our text, “ to build up ourselves upon it.” This we see from the numbers of persons who in the beginning of the Gospel became Christians on the hearing sometimes no more than one single speech or discourse of a Christian minister. Shall we say that the persons so converted were at once perfect in Christian wisdom, that they understood the full bearing of the Christian doctrine upon all the various parts of their understandings and of their hearts? We know that it was not so; we know that it could not have been so. either, that no moral feelings were touched, and no
But shall we say
moral principle gained ? That they entered into a new society, knowing nothing about it, but that it was named after one Jesus who was dead, and whom His disciples affirmed to be alive, or that a man who had been crucified had afterwards risen from the dead? We know that neither was it thus with them. It was not the mere fact that a man had died and been raised from the dead, but that this had been done for their sakes; that He had died for them, that all might know that God would forgive them; that He had risen from the dead, that all might hope through Him to be raised also.
Now what was thus given as the Gospel to the first Christians, and on which they went on building themselves up in goodness more and more to their lives' end, is just as capable, with God's help, of being told in one single discourse now, and of becoming from this time forward the foundation of good living to us. Let us supposem-though I hope it is an unlikely supposition--that there is any one here as ignorant as some of those who heard the Apostles; that the doctrine of Christ is as new as it was to them. Why, even then, if the person
be but old enough to know right from wrong, the time in which we are here assembled is long enough to give him the Gospel, long enough to give him the foundation of life eternal. Much more, then, if it is not all new to us, must it be