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GOD'S GRACE SUFFICIENT TO SANCTIFY
2 CORINTH. XII. 9.
My grace is sufficient for thee.
'I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me?', is not the language of a boasting or self righteous man. It is the language of him who in his sincere and heartfelt humility declared that he counted not himself to have apprehended, but that he followed after, if by any means he might attain unto the resurrection of the dead”'; it is the language of him who knew that he must maintain a perpetual warfare with evil and seducing passions, • lest that, by any means, when he had preached to others, he himself might be a castaway. This strong declaration not from trust in himself, but from trust in God; it came from a full acceptance, and a just appreciation of the gift of God, and of the promises of the gospel. For the whole tone of the gospel is, in fact, a tone of triumph. It denounces indeed the bitterest and severest woes against sin; it
1 Phil. iv. 13.
3 1 Cor. ix. 27.
2 Phil. iii. 12.
sees and it proclaims the weakness and the corruption of the human heart; it is extreme and exact in requiring from that weak and corrupted heart, the practice of the highest holiness. Yet with all this in its view, with the danger of sin, and with man's propensity to sin, with the difficulties of holiness, and man's aversion from holiness full in view, the tone of the gospel is a tone of triumph. I speak not now of its triumph in recording the sacrifice of the cross, and the victory of that heavenly love which was stronger than death, or in reciting what God has done for men. I speak of its triumph in contemplating the state of man himself under the gospel, and in teaching that notwithstanding the evils of his own heart and nature, he may be not only more than conqueror over the dangers of sin and the temptations of an evil heart, but that he may perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord, and may go on from strength to strength, until the day when released from the troubles of the world and the temptations of the flesh, he is called to stand before the God of Gods in Sion. I speak of the joyful sense of release from sin and death, which is written in every page of the gospel, and of victory in that struggle between a weak body and a willing spirit, which abashed and confounded the lovers of righteousness under the law.
It is this spirit of triumph which demands of death where is its sting, and of the grave where is its victory. It is this spirit which asserts that the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men''; which exhorts the believer to be strong in the Lord and the power of his mighta', and to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus 3', and which prays that he may be strengthened with all might according to God's glorious power“), that he may be "stablished in heart, unblamable in holiness before God at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. It is this spirit, in fine, which tells the believer that he may “live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world, and that Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works?.'
From the book of life then, if the book of life may be trusted, it would seem that beyond all question there is not only now no more condemnation for the believer, but that with all the sin and all the infirmity which must ever cleave to the most perfect of the sons of Adam, the gospel opens to him the certain prospect of holiness in thought and act. It undertakes to make him finally no unmeet partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, and to fit him for tasting the pure joys of that glorious state which shall be revealed to the children of God, and for contemplating with no unworthy spirit, the attributes and perfections of his creator. For there is, in the words of a great writer, "a precept of perfection, consistent with the measures and infirmities of man. We must
1 Titus ii. 11.
2 Eph. vi. 10.
3 2 Tim. ii. 1.
turn from our evil ways, leaving no sin unmortified; that is one measure of perfection, it is a perfect conversion. We must have charity; that is another perfection, it is a perfect grace. We must be ready to part with all and to die for Christ; that is perfect obedience, and the most perfect love. We must conform to the divine will in doing and suffering; that is perfect patience. We must live in all holy conversation and godliness; that is a perfect state. must ever be going forward and growing in godliness, that so we may become perfect men in Christ. And we must persevere to the end; that is perfection, and the crown of all the rest?. Now it is this precept of perfection which the Christian dispensation undertakes to enable us to observe; it is to such a measure of holiness that it undertakes to enable us to attain.
But if from this picture we turn to the scene that is passing within us, and around us; if we survey our own hearts, or consider the lives of other men, we cannot but be struck with sadness at the miserable contrast between what might be and what is, and feel a melancholy curiosity to ascertain the causes of this failure and abridgement of the efficacy of the gospel system.
This is not the curiosity of the sceptic who is inclined, nor of the unbeliever who is glad, to infer falshood from failure. It is the anxious enquiry of the believer who accepts the gospel and confesses its
| Jeremy Taylor.