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and Saviour said, that it is his will that the Spirit should dwell in me, and that I should be made a habitation of God through the Spirit; and has he bid me to pray for the Spirit? then let me go and ask for it freely: not that I can deserve this gift, but I can ask for it as he has commanded me. Has he enjoined me to sacrifice no longer to my lusts ? O Lord! sanctify me through thy truth! separate me from the world; from my evil habits and my evil companions : that I may
shew forth thy praise; that I may do thy will !" He, that doeth the will of God, doth it thus from the heart; because he loves God, and is united to him by his Spirit. Is the will of God revealed as a practical will ?-Is he charged no longer to spend his money on that which is not bread ?-and to hear that his soul may live ?--he is found choosing that, which God hath chosen: and refusing that, which God refuseth.
The Bible is a system of truths, doctrinal and practical : and this man agrees in heart with the doctrinal, and guides his actions by the practical ; because the love of God is shed abroad in his heart. His whole desire is to do the will of God. He is a branch engrafted into the true and living vine; and is here described by the Holy Ghost himself as a man doing the will of God. .
It may be asked, perhaps, how it can be said, that he abideth for ever. “ The world passeth away : does not he? The wicked is driven away:
is not he? Are not both removed to one place the grave!" Doubtless : but there is an important sense, in which, while the world passeth away, the man that doeth the will of God abideth for
For instance: you say that he passes away at death ; but would you oppose that to his abiding for ever? I will allow that the wicked is driven away, but not this man. It is ruin to the wicked: it is the second death to him: and, therefore wretched sinners have invented Eternal Sleep as their only hope. But it is this man's blessing and privilege, that death shall not bring destruction to him. If a miserable prisoner were taken out of his dungeon to a palace, in order to receive a kingdom, you would not say that he ceases to be a man! you would not say that he discontinues to abide! you would say, “ Nothing has happened to him, but an advantageous change in his manner of living.” So I say of this man,“ I
Nothing has happened in death to injure him? Nothing has happened but a glorious change in his manner of living! Here he has lived a life of sorrow, sickness, pain, and temptation ; fighting the good fight of faith; and striving against the stream of the world. He has lived here by faith; and there he lives by sight. Where he now is, sorrow and sighing are taken away; and he is crowned with glory, immortality, and life eternal.”
Notice the word abideth. It is not said he
shall abide. He remains in the posession of every good which he ever enjoyed. Was there any thing good in his family :-any walking there with him in faith and love?--he abideth with them, and shall be with them for ever. Had he
friend with whom he took sweet counsel, and walked together to the house of God in company ?—he shall abide in full fruition of that friendship. That is the only friendship worthy of the name! That is friendship eternal! Had he the anchor of Hope, to cast out in a storm?-If he loses his anchor, it is that he may enter on the full enjoyment of that for which he hoped. Had he union with Christ? -he abideth in full possession of it there! Death will change his state, but not his object. All his gold, all his jewels, he carries with him: he abideth in the full possession of them; while he himself enters into that eternal weight of glory, which the eye never saw, the ear never heard, nor did it ever enter into the heart to conceive.
The world passeth away, therefore, with the lusts thereof. It is not our hope: it is not our resting-place: never let us make it such. But, while these things pass away, there is something which abideth ;-faith, hope, and love: not perfect, indeed, here; but they carry us on to a state of maturity in a better world.
II. Having shewn you the Sense of the Text, let me now bring before you some REMARKS on this subject.
1. We may hence learn, that which was suggested by wise men of old-the KNOWLEDGE OF OURSELVES.
“ Man! know thyself.” This was a celebrated aphorism of antiquity; but it had no just meaning: it wanted the counsel of God. But this text teaches us the true knowledge of ourselves. It teaches us what our earthly tabernacle is; that it is coming down. It tells us what our lusts are; that they are passing away. It admonishes us, that men of the world are beguiled; that they are setting their hearts on that which is perishing.
2. We may learn, that TO DO THE WILL OF GOD
IS A PROFITABLE SERVICE.
· God assures us, that nothing shall harm us, if we be followers of that which is good. He promises that we shall have persevering grace: I will write my laws in their hearts, and they shall not depart from me.
We may feel, then, the years pass away, death at hand, the body decay, another large portion of our lives cut off; but we may add, “ So be it! No one in earth or hell can touch my portion! God has promised that I shall abide for ever! What have I to do with dying? I am an immortal; and my God has promised that I shall flourish to immortality.” Let us cry, then, Remember, O Lord, the Word, upon which thou hast caused thy servant to hope! Let us remember, also, that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. This is knowing to
purposé : this is blessed, comforting, and sanctifying knowledge.
3. Here we may learn TO KNOW THE WORLD. · We hear great boasting of “knowing the world.” Every stripling will look his father in the face, and tell him he wishes “ to know the world;" and he will plunge into all the miseries of life—" to know the world !"
Happy only the man, who knows the world by knowing his God, his Bible, and Himself: he shall know the world to purpose. The Philosopher sees the world passing away; but he sees it with a pang: he sees it with regret: there is so much taken from his happiness: “I lose my eyes, my teeth, my hearing, my health, my vigour:” and he grows peevish and fretful. But the Christian sees it
pass with a calm and solid satisfaction: “Here,' says he, “ I see a dying world passing away; but my Lord has told me that it passeth away: Yet I faint not; for though my outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. I have a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, I am waiting for this abode. I am not disappointed, to hear that life is but a hand-breadth: I knew it. You tell me that my tabernacle is to be taken down: I knew that I should be crushed before the moth."
The most illiterate Christian has a practical knowledge of these things. He sees a bankrupt world in such a light, that he will not trust it."