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or sanctify you? or comfort you? or give you and prospered. Did Pharaoh? Did Belshaz an abundant entrance into the everlasting zar? Did the Jews?
kingdom of our Lord and Saviour? What To improve this awful subject, let me ask then can equal the folly of offending and pro--Whether you are for God or against him! voking Him whose favour is life, and upon whom you absolutely depend for every thing essential to your happiness in time and eternity?
And therefore, Thirdly, Nothing can be more injurious and ruinous. In striving with him, you only resemble the wave that dashes against the rock, and is driven back in foam; or the ox that kicks against the goad, and only wounds himself; or the thorns and briers that should set themselves in battle array against the fire. Hence says God, "Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth." If you will contend, choose an enemy like yourselves, with whom you may claim some kind of equality. There is none between you and me. There are cases, in which it may be proper to wage war, where there is only a probability, or even a possibility of victory. But what desperate madness actuates you? You strive with an adversary by whom you know you must be conquered. For "have you an arm like God, or can you thunder with a voice like his?" Need you be told, that he can work immediately upon the mind, and in the twinkling of an eye could produce such terrors in your consciences as would be intolerable? Need you be told that he is able to destroy both body and soul in hell? Need you be told that all creatures, from an angel to a worm, are under his control, and only wait his signal to fall upon you?
This, you say, only shows what he can do. Let us then see what he will do. What has he said? Read these threatenings: "If ye walk contrary to me, I also will walk contrary to you; and will punish you seven times for your iniquity." "He shall be revealed from heaven, with his mighty angels, in flaming fire; taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
Be not surprised-you are either his friends or his enemies: there is no neutrality here. In some cases, neutrality is allowable if not commendable. In family disputes, or in quarrels among neighbours, it may be proper to stand neuter. If we can do no good, we shall do no harm; and this is often a considerable point. In the senate of a nation a member may waive his vote; things may be balanced in his mind; and nothing for the time may cause either side of the question to preponderate. And it is the excellency of a representative to be of no party. Two nations may worry and consume each other, while a third however pressed, may remain neutral and save its wealth and its subjects. But here we repeat it-and it cannot be repeated too often; here, there is not, and there cannot be a state of indifference. "He that is not for me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. No man can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon."
Are you then the enemies of God; and have you to this hour been striving with your Maker? O! let me admonish you. Let me address you in the words of Eliphaz to Job:
Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee." Let me urge you, in the language of the apostle Peter: "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, and he will exalt you in due time." If you are willing to return, be not discouraged. Behold him stretching forth the golden sceptre, saying, Touch, and live: "I will be merciful to the unrighteous, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." He is" in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them." He has established “a ministry of reconciliation," and sends forth his ambassadors to "beseech" you to be reconciled unto God. How wonderful that he should not wait to be solicited, but make the proposal himself, and urge you to accept of it! Will not such love prevail? Do you still harbour doubts in your minds which keep you from him? Let me if possible dispel them by another illustration-for till your hope be excited, it is in vain to expect your return. A king may justly punish rebels: "But what reason have we to believe that but suppose from his clemency he has issued all this is true?"-Because it is found in a a proclamation, assuring them that whoever book written by God himself. Because many within a given period will come in and give of these threatenings have already been ac- up his arms, shall be pardoned and released complished. Because it accords with those-What would you think of this prince, evils and miseries which are found to attend if, as soon as one of these rebellious subwickedness even in this world. And because jects entered his presence to claim the no one ever hardened himself against God privilege, he should have him immediately
executed!-But you say-surely he never could do this-his honour would be at stake. Though he was originally under no obligation to save him, he is now; for he has bound himself by his word. And can God deny himself? Venture then upon his promise. If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
Go to him with weeping and supplication, and say, "O Lord, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us: by thee only will we make mention of thy name." But remember, you have no time to lose the season of allowed submission is fixed, and will soon elapse. "Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison."
Happy are you who have abandoned the unrighteous struggle, and are now one with God. The enmity of your heart has been slain, the weapons of your rebellion have been thrown down, and many a tear shed upon them. Be as zealous for him as you have been against him. He has done much for you; and you have much to do for him. Rise up for him against the evil doers, and stand up for him against the workers of iniquity. Redeem for him the time which you have lost. Honour him with your substance. Employ in his service every power you possess, and every blessing you enjoy. Whether you live, live unto the Lord; or whether you die, die unto the Lord; so that, living or dying, you may be the Lord's.
To conclude. We have been speaking of a striving with God which is unlawful and destructive but there is a striving with him which is allowable and necessary. It is by prayer and supplication. Such was the strife of the woman of Canaan under the several discouragements she at first received, to try her fervency and her faith. "Let me alone," said God to Moses; Moses was striving with him in prayer for the preservation of the Israelites; and God speaks as if he could do nothing against prayer. "Let me go," said the angel to Jacob; Jacob was wrestling with him; and “he said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. And he blessed him there."
And when Providence seems to oppose the promise; when experience seems to disagree with the word; when we are exercised with delays and rebukes too--then to persevere-to pray and not faint-this will be found nothing less than a wrestling with God. But this is a holy violence. This is a pleasing resistance. And in this strife we are sure to prevail. He never said to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me, in vain. "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord. The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force."
COMMUNION WITH THE SAVIOUR
John xiii. 8.
Ir the most minute circumstances in the lives of illustrious characters be perused with eagerness and pleasure, surely we can never feel indifferent to any part of the history of our Lord and Saviour. He was fairer than the children of men: he was higher than the kings of the earth: all he did was wise and good: and we are concerned in all.
Observe the transaction to which the words before us refer-"Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; he riseth from supper"-Such a solemn preface raises a high degree of expectation. From such an introduction, who would not look for an illustrious display of his power and glory ?-But " he laid aside his garments; and took a towel and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter said unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?" How much was all this in character with Peter!-He was strongly attached to his Master, and deeply sensible of his own unworthiness; but forward and impetuous; rash in action, and often speaking without due reflection. Therefore "Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter." "There is something more in this action than you are aware of, and by-and-by you will perceive it." The intimation refers to the design of this washing, which was twofold. First, exemplary-to enforce upon them condescension, humbleness of mind, brotherly kindness. And secondly, symbolical—to lead their minds impressively to things of a higher nature. What therefore was perhaps excusable in Peter before, became censurable now. After such an intimation he should have implicitly acquiesced; instead of which, he saith, "Thou shalt never wash my feet." Upon which, Jesus answered him in plain and awful terms, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me."
Though this declaration intends nothing less than the necessity of obedience in this instance, it surely comprehends much more. He therefore now does not mention the washing of his feet, but of himself: if I wash thee not. And the threatening-thou hast "no part with me," seems too dreadful to be denounced against an unwillingness to comply with this ceremonial observance, which
sprang from something good as well as evil in the Apostle; and was therefore a mixed action: a sin of infirmity. Besides, we know that our Saviour was accustomed to teach by facts and imagery; to pass from the body to the mind; to ascend from particular hints to general truths; and to express more than is immediately perceived, in order that it might be discovered by repeated meditation, or illustrated by subsequent events.
We deemed these few words necessary to Justify ourselves from the deserved reproach of those who, as they call it, are always spiritualizing the Scriptures, and building important doctrines on historical circumstances, till the word of God becomes contemptible to the wise, and unintelligible to the simple; and seems to have no real and determinate sense left. It is high time that this trifling and mischievous mode of teaching should be discountenanced and laid aside.
Let us hasten to consider, with all the seriousness the subject requires, THAT PURIFICATION, WITHOUT WHICH ALL OUR HOPE OF AN INTEREST IN CHRIST IS VAIN. "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." Of this exclusion from Christ, Let us examine THE CONDITION—THE DREADFULNESS-and
I. THE CONDITION-"If I wash thee not." It reminds us that sin is of a defiling quality. When God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, it is said, they were "altogether become filthy." Hence, we read of "the filthiness of flesh and spirit." This evil hath defiled all our powers and all our actions; all we possess and all we enjoy; and while it pollutes us, it causes us also to pollute others.
Man may palliate the evil of sin, but in the view of the Supreme Judge it is unspeakably vile and hateful" He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity." And when the sinner himself is convinced of sin, he sees it in the same light. As a discovery of the guilt of sin awakens his fear, so a perception of the impurity of it excites his aversion and disgust. He sees, he feels that he is unclean, and deservedly excluded from communion with all holy beings. He cries, “Behold, I am vile! wherefore I abhor myself, repenting in dust and ashes." He "loathes himself for all his abominations;" nor will he be perfectly reconciled to himself while any of the hateful defilement is found within him.
Now this enables us to determine what our Saviour means by washing us. It is the sanctification of our nature. It is what the Apostle calls "the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." As water removes defilement and restores to purity, so the influences of Divine grace deliver us from sin and make us truly holy. Hence we find it promised in a fulness and variety of expression, "I will sprinkle clean
water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also 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 an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." We do not indeed mean to intimate that real Christians are entirely freed from all sin here-for then, who could lay claim to the character? Unmixed purity is the privilege of heaven. There alone shall we be "presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." The greatest saints have now their infirmi ties; and groan, being burdened. But let us remember that though this work is completed in eternity, it is begun in time: that the true Christian is the subject of a glorious change, not only as to his actions, but also as to his dispositions; that he is saved from the love of every sin, and the dominion of every sin; that there is no sin unknown which he does not wish to discover; and no sin discovered which he does not resolve to destroy; and no sin which he resolves to destroy, but he strives and labours to destroy-“ plucking out even a right eye, or cutting off even a right hand; denying all ungodliness, and worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously, and godly, in the present world."
But how are we thus cleansed from our iniquities, and who has the honour of our deliverance? He is the grand purifier: his name is called Jesus, because he saves his people from their sins. "If I wash thee not.” The work is his, and whatever means are used, they derive both their being and their efficacy from him. There is no other fountain opened for sin and uncleanness than his dying wounds supplied. His "blood," says the Apostle, "cleanseth us from all sin." "He loved us," says the Church, "and washed us from our sins in his own blood."
Let us not look to him for justification only, but remember that he is "made of God unto us sanctification," also; that he delivers us not only from the curse, but the pollution of sin; that he rescues us not only from the burden of condemnation, but the bondage of corruption; and not only gives us the title to heaven, but produces in us the meetness for itHe is all in all." To induce you to seek after this state, consider,
II. THE DREADFULNESS of the exclusion"Thou hast no part with me." "Thou hast no real interest in me; and thou canst have no reasonable expectations from me." There is something very tremendous in this. Hear how the Apostle Paul speaks of a privilege from which you are excluded. "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all
things but loss for the excellency of the know-
to the deluge, and have no ark. It matters
But the question is whether your judgment be a righteous one. A pearl is not the less precious because the swine tramples it under foot. A toy is not more valuable than a title to an estate because an infant or an idiot may give it the preference.
To have no communion with him in whose favour is life; to hear him say, I have a fa
a child, nor even a servant; to hear him say, I have a plantation, but you are not in ityou are not a cedar, no, nor a shrub; to hear him say, I have in reserve for my followers, thrones of glory, rivers of pleasure, fulness of joy-but as for you-you-have "neither part nor lot in the matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God"-if this be not dreadful, nothing can be dreadful.
Especially when we add that there is but one alternative-If you have no part with Christ and his people, you must have your portion with hypocrites and unbelievers, with the devil and his angels! You have already fixed you destiny; you have chosen the left hand; you are already mingling with the goats; you are walking the downward road -"As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways, the Lord will lead them forth with the workers of iniquity." Who believes this? Let us then see whether we cannot establish,
And the question also is, whether you will always remain in the same opinion. Will the day of judgment, think you, operate no change in your sentiments? Will not the approach of death alter your convictions? What! when all those things which now engage and amuse you fail-will you want no better portion? If while I am speaking a messenger from the "king of terrors" should seize you, and you were carried to your bed, and compelled to look backward upon your life, and forward to your doom-what could succour and relieve you?-Yea, if conscience were to fall upon you this moment, and the terrors of the Almighty troubled you; you III. THE CERTAINTY of this exclusion. would soon find the truth of Solomon's words, There are two ways of proving this. The "The spirit of a man may sustain his in-one is by testimony. "If you receive the witfirmity: but a wounded spirit who can bear?" -And then what advantage could you derive from all your worldly possessions? They would be all physicians of no value; miserale comforters. Your relief could only come rom another quarter-but from that quarter you are forbidden to hope.
If our Lord and Saviour was an unimportnt character, your exclusion from him would not be so fatal-but the fact is, that every hing you need is found in him, and to be deived only from him. Of what worth Christ to us, is a question, says an old writer, which would nonplus all the saints on earth and angels in heaven to answer, One thing we are certain of-that no being in the unierse can fill his place, and do for us what he s able to do. And therefore, if he will have othing to do with us, our case is indeed iserable and hopeless. We are wanderers without a guide: we are dying patients withut a physician or a remedy: we are exposed
ness of man, the witness of God is greater." And, says not our Lord and Saviour, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me?" One declaration from him renders a thing as certain as a thousand-otherwise I could go on quoting Scripture-and say-"They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh, with the affections and lusts." "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new." " If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." But where shall I end? "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." The other is reasoning from princi, ples. Let us view the Saviour, with whom we hope to have communion for ever-But
he is pure and holy; his person is pure; his kingdom is pure-pure are its joys, its services, and its company. If therefore, we are not made pure and holy, we have no likeness in him; and were we in a state of union, such a heterogeneous mass of materials would form a body like the image of Nebuchadnezzar, where the head was indeed of gold, but the breast and arms of silver, and the inferior parts of baser metal, down to the feet, which were part of iron and part of clay. Can this be a representation of the Church of the living God? If Christ is the head, and Christians are the body, let us remember that the head and the body partake of the same nature and that if Christ be the vine, and Christians the branches, the vine and the branches partake of the very same qualities. What intercourse can there be where nothing prevails but a contrariety of inclination and an opposition of interest? "How can two walk together except they be agreed? What fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? and what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?"
Indeed without this renovation we should be wholly incapable of deriving happiness from our connexion with him. Our being for ever in his presence would only render us miserable: there would be nothing in the praises or in the pleasures of that sacred state to fulfil our desires, or to gratify our taste. Dismiss the Bible, or suppose that God had expressed no determination to exclude "every thing that defileth" from the abodes of blessedness: in this view the case would be the same as it is now; the happiness of an unrenewed sinner is impossible upon every principle. Wherever he may be placed, while he has sin in him, he has hell with him.
unto a man, but, be assured, the end thereof are the paths of death!"
We may, Secondly, congratulate those who are made free from sin. You have "an inheritance among them that are sanctified.” Yea, you not only share with the saints, but also with the Saviour: you have part with Christ! you partake of his safety and his dignity. "When he, who is your life, shall appear, you shall also appear with him in glory. You shall sit with him upon his throne. You shall enter the joy of your Lord. If children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ."
Can you be poor?-Having nothing, you possess all things. "For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours: and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's."
Can you be miserable? "Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, rejoice." If "troubled on every side"-you are "not distressed:" if "perplexed"-you are not in despair: if "persecuted"—you are “not forsaken:" if "cast down," you are "not destroyed."
And if you have part with him in his glory, can you be unwilling to share with him in his reproach? If you are to "live with him;" cannot you "die with him?" If you are to "reign with him," cannot you also "suffer with him?" According to the Apostle, you ought to "rejoice, inasmuch as you are made partakers of Christ's sufferings; that when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy.'
Thirdly. Are there any here whose desires are awakened, and who are asking, Can I obtain a portion in Christ, and how is it to be obtained? Let me conclude by a word of direction and encouragement. And it is this From a deep conviction of your need of him, apply immediately to him. "Take with you words," which he himself has furnished, and say, "Lord, take away all iniquity. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."
Exercise faith upon his power, and say, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou CANST make me clean." Be persuaded of his willingness Believe that "he waiteth to be gracious, and is exalted to have mercy upon you."
This train of reflection informs us, First, how exceedingly those misunderstand the Gospel, and delude their own souls, who expect to be "made partakers of Christ," while they seek not to be sanctified by him. "He was manifested to take away our sin. He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." In this every real Christian rejoices; the plan meets his wants and his wishes. He gladly embraces the Saviour in all his offices, and while he What were those who are now so happy glories in his cross, submits to his sceptre. with him? They were once "far off: and He seeks after a present salvation from sin, children of wrath, even as others." Behold, as well as a future deliverance from wrath; they all rise up and address you: "O taste and the faith which pacifies his conscience, and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the purifies his heart. But to look for comfort man that trusteth in him." "That which without holiness, is to separate what God has we have seen and heard, declare we unto unalterably joined together. To depend upon you, that ye also may have fellowship with Christ for pardon and acceptance, so as to us, and truly our fellowship is with the Fa encourage ourselves in sin, or reconcile our-ther, and with his Son Jesus Christ." selves to it, is "a way which may seem right | Above all, hear their Lord and Saviour,