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is, that the love of Christ should constrain us to come to him;-that feeling our own weakness and his power, we should come to him with repentance and faith, grieving for our own evil, and trusting to him to cure us. And O that this love of Christ, our mighty and perfect Saviour, might indeed constrain us all to come unto him with humble hearts, that he might purify us and strengthen us unto life eternal! Might it constrain us to appear at his table, however unworthy we feel to be admitted there! If we wait till we are worthy, heaven and earth shall sooner pass away, and the judgment overtake us in our sins. But rather let us go to be made worthy: let us go, because he has loved us; and we, though cold, and careless, and full of sin, would fain love him. Let us go, because we are poor and needy, and because we would fain be made rich in all good works, which are the gift of his Spirit. Let us go, because we want help,-because a veil is drawn between us and heaven, and we yearn for our eyes to be opened. Let us go, because we are afraid to go, and half unwilling. Let us go, that our fond fears may be stilled, and our dishonest backwardness removed; that we may fear less, and be more active and zealous; that our will may be wholly as his will, and our weakness strengthened by his power.

SERMON II.

THE SONS OF GOD.

JOHN, i. 12.

As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.

THIS is one of the encouraging passages of Scripture, full of mercy and of hope. But the words immediately before it are of a different character:

"He came unto his own, and his own received him not." And even the text itself, when put out more fully by the same St. John, in another part of his writings, becomes not indeed less full of mercy, but mixed with something of a more sober character, such as we cannot afford to spare. "Beloved," says St. John, in his first Epistle, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every man that

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hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure." What I have read has not consisted of many words, yet it furnishes matter of thought more than enough to occupy all the time which we have now before us. Let us see the principal points which it presents to us, each in its proper order.

First, those who were Christ's own did not receive him.

Secondly, To those who did receive him he gave power, or, as the margin of our translation reads it, he gave the privilege of becoming the sons of God.

Thirdly, St. John declares for himself and his fellow Christians, that this great privilege was to them not wholly future; that they were then, in fact, enjoying it, yet not to the full; for there was more of the promise yet to be fulfilled, and that in a sense so high, that they could not as yet so much as conceive it. But meanwhile, so enjoying for the present, so hoping for the future, he declares that neither the enjoyment nor the hope were idle; they engrossed his whole being, insomuch that he continually was purifying himself, even as Christ is pure.

First, then," Christ's own did not receive him.” This is a matter of fact asserted of Christ's coming into the world, and of his not being listened to by his own people, the Jews. The words relate, in

their proper meaning, to this, and to this only; it would be mere foolishness to use them as an argument or an authority for any thing else; to suppose that an assertion with respect to a particular fact past, can be taken as a prophecy about other facts to come. But although the words themselves can prove nothing at all with respect to the future,—I mean with respect to that time which was future then, although it is past now,-yet experience has shown, that what St. John here says of one particular time is also true of many other times; so that the words, although not meant to do so, do in fact describe a later state of things as well as a former one. It is still true that Christ comes to his own, and that his own receive him not. For undoubtedly we are Christ's own, exactly in the same sense in which the Jews were his own :-All Christian people who acknowledge him for their King and Lord by their public profession, and who have become members of his Church by baptism, are now in the same relation to him as the Jews were before, when they, too, as a nation, acknowledged the Lord Jehovah as their God, and had become members of his Church by circumcision. We are Christ's own, as the Jews were his own; and surely it is as true of us that we, in a great many instances, do not receive him, as it was true of the Jews then.

To pretend, indeed, to determine what propor

tion they who do not receive him bear to those who do, would be a vain and a most blameable attempt. It is enough to say, that many, a great many, do not receive him: common experience, our common acquaintance with men's writings, with their words, and, above all, with their actions, make this, as a matter of fact, clear enough. And it is no less clear, that they who do not receive him cannot claim their share in the promise to become the sons of God, in that sense of the word in which St. John here uses it. Or rather, we may say, that according to the reality of our receiving Christ, is the reality of our title of being the sons of God. For, as he who openly rejects Christ has no claim to the very name of son of God, so he who receives him in name only, becomes also only in name a son of God; he who receives him really, he also becomes a son of God really.

But what is it then, "As many as received him?" How are we to know, beyond the mere nominal way in which all who call themselves Christians have received him, whether we have received him or no? None of us has received him perfectly, that we can well understand; for if he were perfectly received, his reign would be also perfect, and sin would be altogether cast out. But have we so received him as that he has or will give us power to become sons of God,-and

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