Page images


old state, that we are living under the law as before, and that to us Christ is dead in vain.

But now how is it that the Spirit of Christ does give us the victory? It is not by any miraculous change of our former nature, but by acting upon our minds through their common feelings and affections, by striking, if I may use the expression, the true key to which our inmost souls most readily answer. “He shall glorify me," said Christ, when speaking of the Holy Spirit; "for He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.” And to the same purpose are the words of St. Paul ; “We all beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.” And so again he says at the end of this very eighth chapter to the Romans, that “neither height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall ever separate Him from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So, then, it is the life and death of Christ which the Holy Spirit presents to our hearts, as that which shall so powerfully influence our affections and feelings that it will ensure us a victory over sin, and we shall walk according to the Spirit, and not according to the flesh. Why will a child obey his parents more readily than he will his schoolmaster, but because he loves them better? why then will the true Christian be more like to God in all things than other men are, but because he has better learnt what great reason he has to love Him? He looks at God in Jesus Christ, he sees in the redemption an assurance of God's infinite love towards him; he reads in the resurrection a proof of the far more exceeding weight of glory, of the overpayment for every labour and suffering, that God is ready to give him. He looks also at God in the Holy

Spirit, he reads in the promise that God will dwell in our hearts and enlighten our understandings, that he listens to every prayer, and supports us against every temptation, he reads in this, a declaration of more than forgiveness; it is the language of love, of affection for our souls, of an earnest wish on the part of his Maker to purify him into His own image, which fills his own heart in return with confidence and boldness, and entire affection towards God. Who then is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? but he who has learnt all that God has done for him in Christ, who has learnt to love God his Saviour, and to hold daily communion with God his Sanctifier? Against the affections which this knowledge of God has enkindled, against the feelings with which we now address Him, saying, Abba, Father, vain are all the efforts of the devil to abuse the weakness of our flesh; and empty are all the terrors of the law, which warned us to Ay from evil, now that our hearts have drawn us without thinking of those terrors to cling naturally to what is good. But am I speaking now of what is really the case? Where shall we find these holy affections, these confident and happy feelings towards God, this easy and natural walking after the Spirit, in all love for good, and abhorrence of evil? Alas! where indeed? And where do we think that St. Paul, even when he was writing this very Epistle to the Romans, could have found them either? In some few, some happy few, he could have found them, and did find them. Wisdom is justified by her children, and the Gospel has ever been received by a sufficient number to show what it could really do if the world at large would receive it also; to justify its Almighty Author


and those His servants who were its earliest preachers, from the charge of requiring things impossible, of holding up a picture of perfection and of happiness, which must ever be an unattainable dream. I have but explained the words of the Apostle, and though I may seem to have spoken of a state of things too fair to be ever reached by man, yet such is the state to which the inspired servant of God invites us, and into which God Himself, who knows what we can do, and what is too hard for us, has exhorted, has implored us to enter. It is the state, indeed, of the kingdom of God; and though we may refuse to enter into it, still we may be sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come unto us, that it is amongst us every hour, and that its doors are continually open, however much we may shut our eyes in wilful blindness, and deceive ourselves by say. ing that to go into them is impossible.


September 30th, 1827.



Romans, viii. 9.

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the

Spirit of God dwelleth in you ; but if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.

At the conclusion of what I said last Sunday, I endeavoured briefly to show how it was that true Christians were enabled by the Gospel to walk after the Spirit, and mot after the flesh, I said that certainly the state in which we were actually living, was one very different from that described by St. Paul; but that so in all probability was the state of Christians in general, even at the time when he wrote it, yet that he had still thought it right to describe the true and just effect of the Gospel means of grace, when fairly used, rather than the faint effect produced by them when they are scarcely used at all. That St. Paul did not suppose in point of fact that all men who had embraced the Gospel would really enter into the spirit of it, the words of the text sufficiently show: “Ye are in the Spirit, if the Spirit of


God dwelleth in you: but if any man hare not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” So again, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, he says, “ I declare unto you the Gospel, which also you received, and in which you stand ; and by which you are also saved, if you keep in memory the word which I preached unto you, unless you have believed in vain.” It seems, then, that he was fully aware of the possibility of their believing in vain; that is, of their not having the Spirit of Christ, and walking according to the Spirit. This must be kept in mind when we read that warm and rapturous language in which he concludes the eighth chapter, and in which he seems to judge of others by himself, -or rather to say that they must feel and act so and so,--to show how monstrous a thing it would be if they felt and acted otherwise. So in that famous passage which has been called the golden chain of God's mercy, where he says, that “ those whom God foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed unto the image of His Son; and whom He did predestinate, them He also called ; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified;" and to which he adds directly, “What then shall we say to these things ? If God be for us, who shall be against us?”-in this passage, so full of the most lively faith, and thankfulness, and joy, it were indeed most fatally to misinterpret it, if we were to suppose St. Paul to mean that this chain would of necessity always remain unbroken, and that all those who were called and once acquitted, would certainly enter at last into glory. But he does regard it as something so shocking that it should be otherwise, that he is willing to look upon it as impossible. And we should do better to regard it in this light, and

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »