« הקודםהמשך »
but to love our enemies, who hate us mortally, and who are insolently outrageous against us, is a pitch of goodness of which human nature is hardly capable, for“ scarcely for a righteous man “ will one die.” What thanks then are due to that God, who has loved us so much as to give his most precious gift to us while we stood in the character of guilty miserable offenders, who had rendered ourselves his declared enemies by our wicked apostacy from him. It was this which made the apostle John so much admire this boundless love of God: “God,” says he,“ so loved “ the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, “ that whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life;" —he beheld the cause, the spring of this amazing benefit, in the free love of God, and in that alone; for it was not that we loved God; no, our hearts were utterly estranged from him; by being under the influence of the carnal mind, which is enmity against God, we were become the slaves of sin, enemies by wicked works, and “without God in “ the world.” It was not then because we loved God, but that he loved us. Had he been given to be the prince and lord of angels, those pure spirits which stand continually before God, ready to execute his commands, they are holy and elevated, and might have served to reflect the brightness and splendour of his glory; but that he should be given for the guilty, miserable, sin-enslaved race of Adam, who had merited all his vengeance, is what confounds, at the same time that it should ravish our minds; for here we see the great God freely bestowing the most inestimably precious thing he could give, and bestowing it upon an object of all others the most unworthy of such a grace. And in the
Fourth and last place, what puts the finishing stroke to, what fills up the measure of this excoeding riches of the grace of God, which he has made known“ in his kindness towards us through “ Christ Jesus," is, that he has in him carried his mercy and love to us as far as they can possibly go. What an infinite difference betwixt all his other gifts, and those which he bestows upon us in Christ Jesus! What gave he in a state of nature to those who lived simply under his government, that is, to the heathen world? Nothing but the good things, the fruits of the earth only, the riches of the world; and all that he did for those whom he inclined to distinguish and favour above others, was- to give them the sceptres, the crowns, and the dignities of a mortal state, in a frail, transient, fading existence, which, after a few years of mixed pleasure and pain, vanished
away like a shadow, passed like a flash of lightning, which loses itself in eternal night. What gave he under the law to those who were the objects of that dispensation? The milk and honey of an earthly Canaan; the dainties, the blessings, and advantages of that delightful country, where death reigned as over the rest of the world, and whose happiness was of no longer duration than in the other parts of the earth. What did he give, even in a state of innocence, before the fall? A happiness indeed, which might have been immortal, by man's continuing in obedience to his Maker. But where and in what place? Upon this earth, among the flowers and rivers of a terrestrial paradise, the common habitation of other inferior animals, where life would have been still gross and sensual, and dependent upon animal functions, which would still have retained us somewhat upon a level with the lower part of the creation. This is all the length the goodness of God reached out of Jesus Christ. But of what glorious extent, quality, and degree does it appear in our great Redeemer! for in him he promises us, and gives us at the last, not earth but heaven, not time but eternity, not the happiness and pleasure of animals, but the bliss, the rapture of angels; not the sceptres, and crowns, and possessions of this world, but“ a crown of glory, a scep
“tre of righteousness, an inheritance incorruptible " and undefiled, and that fadeth not away." He gives us a life, not of a few years amidst the sweets of a Canaan, as to the Israelites of old, nor of an eternity in a low and earthly paradise, as to our first parents in the beginning of things; but a life altogether without comparison, without end as to its duration, without measure as to its rich abundance, without bounds as to its glory, without example or similitude as to its bliss, without interruption of its joys and delights; a life altogether such as that of God himself— for like him, we shall have heaven for our habitation, angels, the sons of light, for our companions, immortality for our clothing, glory for our crown, the possession of all things for our inheritance, “ when we shall come unto mount Sion, and unto “ the city of the living God, the heavenly Jeru
salem, and to an innumerable company of “ angels; to the general assembly and church of “ the first born, which are written in heaven, and “ to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just “ men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator " of the new covenant. In the presence of God c there is fulness of joy, at his right hand there
are pleasures for evermore." May he bless the word which has now been spoken. Amen,
2 CORINTHIANS, vii. 1. Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse our
selves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
THE PROMISES OF GOD, AN INCITEMENT TO HOLINESS,
BLESSED are the
pure in heart," saith our Lord, “ for they shall see God;" and the Psal. mist's character of the true worshipper of God, and of the proper inhabitant of Zion, is," he that “ hath clean hands and a pure heart:" and whoever aspires at the glorious relations contained in the promises mentioned in my text, must, in order thereto," cleanse himself from all filthiness “ of flesh and spirit.”
In discoursing from this subject, I propose,
1. To open up the nature of these promises.
II. To explain the qualification necessary for receiving them, or what we are to understand by being « cleansed from all filthiness of the “ flesh and spirit.”