Page images

stand the trial through which every man's work has yet

to pass.

But let us observe that the word of God is a means of sanctification in three different ways. First, it is a means of sanctification by its quickening power. What is it that rouses the soul from the torpor, the dead palsy of sin, but the word? What is it that reveals the depths of corruption within the soul, but the word? What is it that lays open the "dark chambers of imagery"-that lays bare the inmost secrets of the soul, and probes to the centre of the hard and stony heart, but the word of God? It is indeed "quick and powerful and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Which of all God's people have not experienced this quickening power of the word? As therefore the knowledge of our real condition, of the secret sin, the besetting sin, the sin of habit, the sin of taste, the sin of conformity, is the first step towards our being relieved from these evils, and delivered from the dominion of sin and Satan, so the word of God, in thus detecting the wickedness of our heart, and startling us from our habitual ease, our carnal security and spiritual deceitfulness, is a most important means of sanctification.

Again, the word is the means of sanctification, because it supplies the only true and lasting motives and ground for sanctification. A man may easily in the estimation of the world be accounted holy, without acting upon principles which will stand examination, or abide the shock of trial. The man of outwardly moral character, who stands apart from the motives of the word of God, has no stability of principle, or power of endurance. He is resting on

the shifting sand; at one moment he may appear in the eyes of others to stand firm; the next his deceitful restingplace sinks beneath his feet, and overwhelms him in ruin. The word of God alone supplies the motive which will never give way, never deceive. This is the solid rock, on which the superstructure of heavenly morality may rise, and not all the storms or the tempests which rage around can shake it, not all the secret working of the rising flood can undermine it. The morality of the world may wear the semblance of the morality of the word of God; it may appear to shine as brightly and as clearly, but there is no oil in the vessel for the former, and in the time of need it goes out in darkness; while to the latter there is a constant and abundant supply. The grand and leading motive for sanctification in the word of God, is love. Love, based on the eternal promise of God, "that whosoever believeth on his Son, shall not perish, but have everlasting life." And this motive is confirmed and strengthened by the exhibition of the perfect holiness of him who first loved us, and who has given us an example that we should follow his steps.

But farther, the word of God is the means of sanctification, by the pure and spiritual and heavenly character of the morality which it inculcates. There is not a single flaw in the code of morality in the word of God. "The law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good." In every part it bears the mark and the impress of its great Author. It is a perfect morality; not bearing on greater sins and leaving out of view minor transgressions; but dealing with the least as well as with the greatest, as an outrage against a God of holiness, and a law of purity, and requiring obedience in the lighter as well as the weightier matters. It is a morality which has

to do with every thing in man, and not with a portion of his being only. It is intended to affect not his outward actions only, nor his words, but likewise the inmost thoughts of his soul; to "bring every thought into captivity, to the obedience of Christ." It is qualified to make us, under the powerful operation of the Spirit of God, not only fair in the sight of men, but holy in the sight of God. It is qualified under the same influence to call forth and nourish principles and habits which will not only prevent us from committing what is flagrantly wicked and sinful, but which will lead us into the exercise of abiding kindness, forbearance, meekness and gentleness to all; principles, which the greatest of heathen moralists have failed to enforce, but which were laid by the Prince of Peace upon the consciences of his people. "I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them which curse you, do good to them which hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." The intrinsic excellence of the morality of the word of God may in fact be summed up in the words of the apostle, it is "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."

The word of God, then, is a means of sanctification in these three views-it rouses and quickens the heart to "follow after holiness," it supplies the only true and lasting motive for sanctification, and it reveals a system of morality, beautiful and glorious in itself, in every respect suited to make us holy, bearing the stamp of heaven, and setting up every needful land-mark to heaven, so that the wayfaring man may not err therein.

Beloved, from this prayer of our heavenly Master, we are at no loss to gather his will and the Father's will con

cerning us.

"This is the will of God, even your sanctification." In bringing his ransomed ones to glory, he will have none that will pollute his sanctuary. Free as the access is to the heavenly Zion, wide as the gate has been thrown, for no merit of ours, but only by the powerful work of our great High Priest, yet "shall there in no wise enter therein any thing that defileth, that worketh abomination, or that maketh a lie." The church which he is to present to his Father, and which is to bear the glory for ever, must be "without spot or wrinkle or any such thing;" and thus, while we hear our Lord earnestly praying to his Father, "Sanctify them by thy truth," we have also his clear and explicit injunction, "Be ye also perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

But if this is his will, his desire, his prayer, (and may we not conceive that even now our Intercessor on high is praying, "Sanctify them,") what is ours? Is it at all in conformity with his? Are we "wretched" under the influence of the body of sin and death; are we panting for deliverance? Alas, what a miserable lack of feeling do we manifest in this matter. We aim at partial sanctification, not at complete sanctification. We are ready to part with something, not with all. Our longings after holiness are few and feeble indeed. We see the mark, but we linger to press on towards it; we perceive the standard, but we forbear to measure ourselves by it; we acknowledge the "beauty of our King," that he is "altogether lovely," but we make no rapid growth in his "stature." Would that the Spirit of our Master might bring us more completely under subjection, and "constrain us to live no more unto ourselves," but "to glorify him in our bodies and spirits which are his;" would that as "holiness becometh his house for ever," so it might be found written

and engraven on our hearts and our lives; would that we might "present,"- freely and fully offer our bodies "a living sacrifice; dead unto sin, but alive unto God; consecrated to the service of God by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus, and sanctified in the same service by the word of Jesus.

"Thy word is truth." What an anchor is here for the believer's soul! What a refuge for the weary soul! In the midst of the world's falsehood he is tempted to ask, "Who will show us any good?" but the word of God standeth sure. The world will deceive-friends may deceive; but here is his confidence, his strong tower, his hidingplace, his rock from which nothing can remove him, the unerring word of God-" Thy word is truth!"

But our gracious Master vouchsafed in this prayer to leave a mark and token to his church in all ages, that when he prayed for the sanctification of his people, he did not mean to confine his supplication to those only who were then around him, but that he had in his heart every one, who should afterwards be brought from the power of Satan into his own glorious kingdom. "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou hast given me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and loved them, as thou hast loved me."

"Blessed," said our Lord to Thomas, "are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." And truly blessed are they in this one consideration, "I pray for them."

« PreviousContinue »