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that, taking away the whole meaning and spirit from them, leavest only what may indeed be termed a dead letter, lest God take away thy part out of the book of life!
6. Suffer we the Apostle to interpret his own words, by the whole tenor of his discourse. In the fifth verse of this chapter, he had said, “Ye know that he (Christ] was manifested to take away our sins ;' and in him is no sin.” What is the inference he draws from this ? “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” (Ch. iii. 6.) To his enforcement of this important doctrine, he premises an highly necessary caution : “Little children, let no man deceive you ;” (ver. 7 ;) for many will endeavour so to do; to persuade you that you may be unrighteous, that you may commit sin, and yet be children of God; "he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the Devil; for the Devil sinneth from the beginning.” Then follows, “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. In this,” adds the Apostle, “the children of God are manifest, and the children of the Devil.” By this plain mark (the committing or not committing sin) are they distinguished from each other. To the same effect are those words in his fifth chapter, “We know that whosoever is born of God siuneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” (Ver. 18.)
7. Anotber fruit of this living faith is Peace. For, “ being justified by faith,” having all our sins blotted out, “we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. v. 1.) This indeed our Lord himself, the night before his death, solemnly bequeathed to all his followers : “Peace,” saith he, “I leave with you ; " (you who “believe in God,” and “believe also in me;”), “my peace I give unto you.” “Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John xiv. 27.) And again, “These things have I spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace.” (Ch. xvi. 33.) This is that “peace of God which passeth all understanding,” that serenity of soul which it hath not entered into the heart of a natural man to conceive, and which it is not possible for even the spiritual man to utter. And it is a peace which all the powers of earth and bell are unable to take from him. Waves and storms beat upon it, but ihey shake it not; for it is founded upon a rock. It keepeth the hicarts and minds of the children of God, at all times and in all places. Whether they are in ease or in pain, in sickness or health, in abundance or want, they are happy in God. In every staic they have learned to be content, yea, to give thanks unto God through Christ Jesus; being well assured, that “whatsoever is, is best,” because it is His will concerning them: so that in all the vicissitudes of life their “heart standeih fast, believing in the Lord.”
Il. 1. A Second scriptural Mark of those who are born of God, is Hope. Thus St. Peter, speaking to all the children of God who were then scaricred abroad, saithi, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to bis abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope.” (1 Pet. i. 3.) Elina Sw5ev, a lively or living hope, saith the Apostle; because ibere is also a dead hope, as well as a dead faith; a hope which is not from God, but from the enemy of God and man ;-as evidently appears by its fruits; for, as it is the oilspring of pride, so it is the parent of cvery evil word and work; whereas, every man that hathi in hin this living hope, is "holy as Ile that calieth himn is holy: ” every man that can truly say to his brethren in Christ, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and we shall see him as he is,” “purifieth himseil, even as lle is pure."
2. This Hope,-(iermed in the epistle to the Hebrews, chap. x. 22, 77005 opoeia T13 Tits, and clsewhere, targopopia €2. Tridos, chap. vi. 11 ; in our translatiori, “the full assurance of faith, and the full assurance of hope,” expressions the best which our language could afford, although far weaker than those in the original,)--âs described in Scripture, implies, first, The testimony of our own spirit or conscience, that we walk “in simpliciiy and godly sincerity;” but secondly, and chicfly, The testimony of the Spirit of God, “bearing witness with," or to, “our spirit, that we are the children of God," "and if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-hieirs with Christ."
3. Let us well observe ibat is here taught us by God himself, touching this glorious privilege of his children. Who is it that is here said to bear witness? Not our spirit only, but another; cren the Spirit of Ciod: lle it is who “beareth witness with our spirit." What is it, be beareth vitness of? “ That in de the children of liod," "and if children tben heirs; hei: vt stil, vind joini-cirs will Chrise;” (Rom. yiii, 16, 17 ;) “if so be that we suffer with him,” (if we deny ourselves, if we take up our cross daily, if we cheerfully endure persecution or reproach for his sake,) “that we may also be glorified together.” And in whom doth the Spirit of God bear this witness? In all who are the children of God. By this very argument does the Apostle prove, in the preceding verses, that they are so: “As many,” saith he, “as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” “Fór ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father!” It follows, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” (Ch. viii. 14-16.)
4. The variation of the phrase in the 15th verse, is worthy our observation. “Ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father!” Ye, as many as are the sons of God, have, in virtue of your souship, received that self-same Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father: We, the apostles, prophets, teachers, (for so the word may not improperly be understood,) we, through whom you have believed, the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.” As we and you have one Lord, so we have one Spirit: as we have one Faith, so we have one Hope also. We and you are sealed with one “Spirit of Promise,” the earnest of your and of our inheritance: the same Spirit bearing witness with your and with our spirit, “that we are the children of God.”
5. And thus is the Scripture fulfilled, “ Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” For it is casy to believe, that though sorrow may precede this witness of God's Spirit with our spirit; (indeed must, in some degree, while we groan under fear, and a sense of the wrath of God abiding on us;) yet, as soon as any man feeleth it in himself, his “sorrow is turned into joy.” Whatsoever his pain may have been before; yet, as soon as that “ hour is come, he remembereth the anguish no more, for joy” that he is born of God. It may be, many of you have now sorrow, because you are “ aliens from the commonwealth of Israel ;” because you are conscious to yourselves that you have not this Spirit; that you are “ without hope and without God in the world.” But when the Comforter is come, “then your heart shall rejoice;" yea, “your joy shall be full,” and “that joy no man
taketh from you.” (John xvi. 22.) “Wejoy in God,” will ye say, rs through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement;” “ by whom we have access into this grace," this state of grace, of favour, or reconciliation with God, “wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Rom. v. 2.) “Ye,” saith St. Peter, whom God hath “ begotten again unto a lively hope, are kept bythe power of God unto salvation : wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations; that the trial of your faith may be found unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ: in whom, though now ve see him not, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (1 Pet. i. 5, &c.) Unspeakable indeed! It is not for the tongue of man to describe this joy in the Holy Ghost. It is “the hidden manna, which no man knoweth, save he that receiveth it.” But this we know, it not only remains but overflows in the depth of affliction. “ Are the consolations of God small ” with his children, when all carthly comforts fail ? Not so. But when sutlering's most abound, the consolation of his Spirit doth much more abound; insomuch that the sons of God “ laugh at destruction when it cometh ;” at want, pain, hell, and the grave; as knowing Him who“ hath the keys of death and hell,” and will shortly “ cast them into the bottomless pit;” as hearing even now the great voice out of heaven, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, iind bc their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their cyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying; neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.” (Rev. xxi.
III. 1. A Third scriptural Mark of those who are born of God, and the greatest of all, is Love; ever the love of God shed abroad in their hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto them.” (Rom. v.5.) “ Because they are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, crying, Abba, Father!” (Gal. iv. 6.) By this Spirit, continually looking up to God as their reconciled and loving Father, they cry to him for their daily bread, for all things needful, whether for their souls or bodies. They continually pour out their hearts before him, knowing “they have the petitions which they ask of him.” (1 John v. 15.) Their delight is in him. He is the joy
of their heart; their “shield," and their “exceeding great reward." The desire of their soul is toward him; it is their “meat and drink to do his will ;” and they are “ satisfied as with marrow and fatness, while their mouth praiseth him with joyful lips.” (Psalm lxiii. 5.)
2. And, in this sense also, “Every one who loveth Him that begat, loveth him that is begotten of him.” (1 John v. 1.) His spirit rejoiceth in God his Saviour. He “ loveth the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” He is so “joined unto the Lord,” as to be one spirit. His soul hangeth upon Him, and chooseth Him as altogether lovely, “the chiefest among ten thousand.” He knoweth, he feeleth what that means, “ My Beloved is mine, and I am his.” “ Thou art fairer than the children of men; full of grace are thy lips, because God hath anointed thee for ever!” (Psalm xlv. 2.)
3. The necessary fruit of this Love of God, is the Lore of our Neighbour; of every soul which God hath made; not excepting our enemies; not excepting those who are now “despitefully using and persecuting us;”-a love, whereby we love every man as ourselves; as we love our own souls. Nay, our Lord has expressed it still more strongly, teaching us to “ love one another even as He hath loved us.” Accordingly, the commandment written in the hearts of all those that love God, is no other than this, “ As I have loved you, so love ye one another.” Now,“ herein perceive we the love of God, in that he laid down his life for us.” (1 John iii. 16.) “We ought" then, as the Apostle justly infers, “to lay down our lives for the brethren." If we feel ourselves ready to do this, then do we truly love our neighbour. Then “ we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we thus love the brethren." (Ver. 14.) “Hereby know we”, that we are born of God, that we “ dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his sloving] Spirit.” (Ch. iv. 13.) For “ love is of God; and every one that thus loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” (1 John iv. 7.)
4. But some may possibly ask, Does not the Apostle say, “ This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments ? " (1 John v. 3.) Yea, and this is the love of our neighbour also, in the same sense as it is the love of God. But what would you infer from hence? That the keeping the outward commandments, is all that is implied in loving God with all your heart, with all your mind, and soul, and strength, and in loving your neighbour as yourself? That the love of God is not an affection