Page images
PDF
EPUB

of sin, it cannot be separated from hatred, lamented experience of still remaining sio, of sin; and then, if the grief and hatred to the still effectual sacrifice; from this be real, they cannot be separated from the additional proof he has received of his desire and effort of being free from sin. utter want of all personal favour, to that The propitiation and advocacy are pro- mighty Advocate whose plea can never vided for the soul that is seriously con- fail. Let him go, and with earnestness scious of sin, freed from its remaining renew his solicitation; and so long as he power, abhorring its recurrence, and desir- trusts in the great propitiation, so long as ing to be freed from it, and at every return he looks for every blessing exclusively at into even the conception of evil, hastening the hands of the great Intercessor, so long to the Saviour. If any one, to whom as he has recourse to this comfort and these marks vouch for his conversion to instruction given to penitent sinners, so God, still find that, though habits of sin long as there is love to men who believe, are broken, yet they are not taken away be assured, that for him to cast away from from him, let him not from that experi- him the hope of acceptance with God, ence despairingly say, that his adoption is were to cast from him that very plea for now lost, that heaven is now shut against acceptance with God, with which the his prayers, and that he can never be re- wisdom of God is eternally satisfied. Now admitted to his Father's face; but let me unto God the Father, be ascribed, &c. exhort him to go at once from this 'Amen.

THE TENDENCY OF THE WORD OF GOD TO PRODUCE

SANCTIFICATION.
A SERMON, PREACHED ON THE AFTERNOON OF SUNDAY, 9th DECEMBER, 1832,

By the Rev. THOMAS BROWN, D. D.

Minister of St. John's Church, Glasgow.

Sanctify them through thy truth : thy word is truth.Joun, xvii. 17. The two great points to which these union to Christ. Faith without purity is words naturally direct our attention are vain. Next, I shewed you that it was the necessity of sanctification, and the necessary for the advancement of God's manner in which that sanctification is glory, and the interests of Christ's kingdom effected. In formerly discoursing from in the world. It is not to be expected that these words, I endeavoured to point out any thing but a holy Christian can be the necessity of sanctification, the necessity instrumental, and beneficial, in advancing of being renewed, of being made like to the cause of religion in the world. Next, God, from the following considerations;- I shewed you it was necessary for the First, That it formed part of the salvation peace of our minds. Without purity there of Christ Jesus. It is not merely deliver- can be no peace. God has said it, and he ance from guilt and punishment—it is not knows our constitution, that there is no merely deliverance from transgression, that peace to the wicked. Next, I said it was constitutes salvation, but deliverance from necessary, in order to qualify us for the its power and dominion, to a resemblance heavenly kingdom.' We must be like God of the divine nature. Next, I said, it was if we would enjoy a hereafter; there must necessary, in as far as it was correspond- be a meetness for heaven, as well as a ing to the divine eharacter. There is no title to heaven. Such were some of the view of God more evident than this, that points I enlarged on at considerable length. God is a God of holiness; that sin is that I endeavoured then to shew, that sanctitabominable thing which God hates, and cation, to be real, must be universal; it that he cannot look upon it without must extend to the whole man, to the abhorrence. Next, I endeavoured to point thoughts, words, and actions, to the affecout the necessity of sanctification, arising tions and desires of the heart, and to the from the command of God. This is to be outward conduct. It is not for you and found in every part of the divine record. me to say, I am partly sanctified. The Next, I endeavoured to prove it as neces- work of the Spirit of God is not confined sary in order to evidence our faith and to this part or that, but the whole man is brought into subjection to the Lord Jesus. the salvation of individuals in that church I observed, also, that it was progressive. is promoted, and their relation to Christ, “ Sanctification,” the Shorter Catechism their turning to God, their growth in tells us“ is the work of God's free grace, grace, their establishment in peace, purity, whereby we are renewed in the whole and meetness for heaven, secured. It is man, after the image of God, and are the word of salvation that is preached unto enabled, more and more, to die unto sin, perishing sinners, and it is of essential and live unto righteousness.” This is the importance to the most advanced Christian nature of sanctification. It proceeds, as well as to him that is just beginning to from small beginnings, to a great increase. lisp, as it were, the language of praise ; It is just like a grain of mustard seed, it is just of as much importance to those scarcely perceptible at first, but it goes on

that have made the greatest progress in till it becomes a great tree. It is thus the divine life, as to those who have made that it operates on the heart and mind; the least; just of as much in the end, as upon

the whole outward, as well as upon in the beginning. And how valuable must the whole inward man. It is like the be that word, when it is considered that morning light, which shineth more and it comes home to all circumstances, that it more unto the perfect day. I then shewed | is a light to the feet, and a lamp to the you also how it was attained, it is path, that it comforts in distress, soothes God's work--we cannot bring a clean in the hour of sorrow, and upholds in the thing out of an unclean. If the Ethiopian hour of death! cannot change his skin, nor the leopard But how does the word sanctify us? It his spots, no more can they that are accus- is to this that I am now to turn your tomed to do evil learn to do well. It is attention. In the first place, it has a the work of divine power, and that divine tendency to sanctify, by the discoveries it Redeemer, who has said, “ all power is makes to us; secondly, by the motives it given unto me in heaven and in earth,” can presents to us; and, thirdly, by the examsubdue all people to his will, can conquer ples it holds out to us. In the first place, the hardest and stoniest beart, can bring the word has a tendency to sanctify, us, their whole desires into captivity to him- by the discoveries it makes. Where there self. It is His work, not merely at the is ignorance of divine things, there cannot commencement: the great artificer must be much purity; where the mind is darkbe at the laying of the foundation stone ; ened, the heart must be corrupted-the and not only so, but superintending and life cannot be holy. No doubt, much assisting to the close, from the first to the knowledge maketh mad, and much relilast, through all the intermediate steps of gious knowledge too, there may be, our advancement in holiness, till we arrive without any sanctity of character. A man at the fulness of the stature of perfect may be profoundly learned in the truths men in Christ Jesus—till we be no longer of religion, and yet the light of his own fitted to live in this world of sin and cor- mind may be darkness : he may still ruption-till we be translated into the continue, notwithstanding all he knows world of purity, where no sin is to be of the ways of God, in the gall of bitterfound. The whole is the work of God; ness, and in the bond of iniquity; he may he must begin and carry forward, and be not be, in any degree, conformed to the must perfect. This was shewn from the divine will and image; he may look unto declarations of God's word, and from the the Lamb of God, but not behold him in experience of the people of God. They the mirror that is held up to him; and, know that their own efforts are fruitless beholding him in the mirror of salvation, and unavailing, unless God be with them he may go and forget what manner of to strengthen, help, and uphold; but the person he is. But this is not the natural word of God tells us that God makes tendency of the thing—this is not the use of means. Our Lord, when he prays design, and this is not the effect of sacred to his heavenly Father that his disciples revelation, nor was the word of God might be sanctified, says, “ Sanctify them communicated for this purpose. Its tenthrough thy truth-thy word is truth;" dency is good, if it be used well; but and we do not hesitate to affirm, that it is it may be pervertedfamiliarity with it by the word of truth, either communicated may defeat the gracious purpose the Lord in writing, or addressed orally to men, that had in view in communicating it to us. the church has been extended, and that 'Its tendency is holy; for what does the

can never be perfected in a world that i us, that the Being of infinite power and bears so deeply the stamp, of transgres- boliness condescends to regard us with sion. Moreover, the sensibility of holi- pity and tenderness. This message declares, ness always increases as pollution comes that justly as we have deserved eternal to be detected; and the more intimately exclusion from his favour, be yet seeks the characters of God and his laws are our restoration to himself: yes, that such understood, and their matchless excellence is his compassion, that to fulfil the plan of admired, the more humiliating will be our restoration to himself, he did not spare own wantof conformity to their excellence. even his own Son. It assures us, that he Again, in our advances towards perfec-waits our return with parental solicitude, tion, we are always seeing a farther reach and will receive us back with the prompt at every new step of our rising towards it. and generous ardour of the father receiving How evident, then, that the distinguished the prodigal; yea, he pleads with us not feature of our Christian character must be for a moment to defer the opportunity of that of penitence; that if we say we have returning to his arms, to the new robe, no sin, we are but deceiving ourselves; the ring, and the shoes, and the fatted that our chief confession is the confession calf, and give joy even to angels, and of our sins; that our unwearied prayer is, share in the honour and happiness of “Forgive us our trespasses;” and that this children of his family and heirs of his seriousness of the soul, under a deep im- kingdom. It is true the Christian method pression of its guiltiness in the sight of yields to us no comfort till it has first God, effected by divine grace, is the very brought us to the consciousness of our object which corresponds with the Christ, sins; and accordingly, this is ever its ian method, and for which the comfort and prefatory language, “ If you say that you instruction of the Christian method have have no sin, you deceive yourselves.” been provided. And may, not the text But this preliminary, rebuke is most lead me naturally to say, that in the dis- gracious; its being heard by us, and pensing of this comfort and instruction entering into our hearts with humiliating contained in the gospel method, the gra- and alarming influence, is just the proof cious and wise method which the sacred that he who sends it remembers us, and writers observe, is impressed by the three cares for us, and loves us; that he thinks following qualities:-ist, By an affection of us with a father's heart, and would ate concern for souls; 2d, By a free and bring us all within the precincts of bis full proposal of Christ to our acceptance; family, and thus bestow on us the riches and, 3d, By an exercise of the strictest of his love. “O Israel, put on me your jealousy over the grand interests of holi- help; why will ye die ? What can I do

How affectionately in the gospel more for my vineyard that I have not method is manifested the concern for souls done? Mine heart is turned within me; -language being uttered the very same as my repentings are kindled together. Rethe fondest heart breathes over those turn unto me, I will beal your backsliding, choice objects of care and tenderness I will love you freely, for mine anger is which are found in the relation and cha- turned away. Whosoever will, let him racter of children! Again, how free and Come unto me all ye that labour fall the proposal of Christ to your accept- and are heavy laden, and I will give you ance, setting forth his powerfulness as an rest. Incline your ear and come unto me; advocate, as a propitiation so perfect as to hear, and your soul shall live. Ye shall be capable of atoning, were it applied to be my children, saith the Lord Almighty." them, for the sins of the whole world ! O what words are these! what a message And how strict the jealousy which, along to be spoken to us on the authority of the with this unlimited offer of grace, is eternal God; and not only so, but to be exercised over the grand interests of holie directly sent to us from his own mouth, ness, since every thing written by the power and conveyed to us with such eloquence of the Spirit on the subject of guilt and from the gracious being whom we have pardon, is expressly that we sin not! offended, repulsed, and hated ! O who

Surely, in the first place, the most may conceive of the ardour and benevoaffectionate concern for souls is a quality lence that dictated the message proclaimed inseparable from the Christian method. in the Gospel of St. John! This beloved This method speaks to you and me of disciple, receiving the very Spirit of his mercy and salvation. This message tells master, as he leant on his bosom at the

pess.

come.

supper of the communion, how zeal for implies, more than all their confessions the human soul glows in his writings~ could do, how exceedingly guilty they are. how he rises above all the other disciples Their unworthiness and corruptions are on the subject of the attractive influence spread out in all their aggravation before of the love of Christo how anxiously the Judge, but he pleads still for their achis heart pants over the members of quittal, their safety, their blessedness ; Christ's family! And if such was the and he does so on the principles of equity, generosity of sentiment in an ambassador for he who pleads is Jesus Christ the of the grace of God, what must be the righteous, and it must be on principles of generosity of the God of all grace himself equity on which he pleads. And though as he proclaims to us by his Son the he pleads for the unworthy, he is Jesus message of redeeming love! He himself Christ the righteous still; because the declares, that he willeth not that any of powerfulness of his advocacy is secured by us should perish, but that all of us should virtue of his own atonement. He became be reconciled to him, and wins us to his substitute and surety for sinners, as far as family, and rejoices over us as his children. it could be done with consistency to his There is a height and a depth, a breadth own glorious character. He bore what and a length, of this love of God which is equivalent to the penalty for sin-he passeth knowledge. O that it may secure assumed our flesh; he took part of the our regard, touch our hearts, and effectu- same that he might redeem us; he that ally draw us to those privileges of God's knew no sin was made a sin offering for children, which sin had virtually lost to us that we might be made the righteousus, and which, even when restored to us, ness of God in him. He is one with the the consciousness of sin is so ready to Father, God manifest in the flesh; and being interrupt and imbitter.

thus an all sufficient Saviour, he is able to It is then for the accomplishing of this reconcile 'us. He is God who hath redesire that, in the 2d place, we are met so deemed the church with his own blood; particularly and unceasingly with the free and the magnitude of his love in our and ample proposal of Christ to our ao redemption is ascertained by the truth that ceptance. There is nothing but this pro- he laid down his life for us; and since in posal that can unite the two seemingly him dwelleth the fulness of the Godhead irreconcileable things-our consciousness bodily, his obedience, and the satisfaction of sin, and our admission to the privileges made in our behalf, have made honourable of God's children; for Christ is proposed the law of the judge, infinitely above what to us because of our sin, and the hope of the punishment of our whole race could accepting his salvation to us arises from have effected. He pleads, therefore, this obepo view of our personal guilt being in dience and this satisfaction as glorifying itself less heinous than the personal guilt both the mercy and equity of God. He of others, but simply from the view that pleads with the Father, who anointed him we are chargeable before God with what for the pure purpose of reconciling sinners is in itself infinitely hateful. Yet a method to himself, by the blessing of bis grace, and of restoring us is proposed.

is ever well pleased with his Son, in having In this proposal, there is set before us accomplished the designs of his mercy. the divine provision for the comfort of the As in righteousness, therefore, Jesus soul that is seriously convinced of sin, and Christ the righteous pleads, so in rightdesires to be freed from sin. Christ is eousness it is that he gains his plea. set before us as mediator between God Grace is extended to sinners, even to the and man. In setting Christ before us, the chief. And, lest even the free and ample descriptive language employed sets before proposal of Christ now made, should not us the idea of the court, the judge, the secure your confidence, there remaineth accuser, and the criminals. Heaven is behind, in the text, a more comprehensive the court, and the judge is the Father; and expression still, of its fulness and freepenitent sinners are the parties with ness; for the sacrifice of Christ did not whom he is engaged in his mediatorial exhaust its power to save in the redempcapacity. He stands at the foot of the tion of the first believers; nor were its judge to meet the charge which the accu- precious benefits limited to the people of ser brings against the criminals, but he the Jews, to whom it was first addressed; does not plead any thing for the purpose nor are its blessings kept for any one of extenuating their sins. His appearing nation, to the exclusion of any other. No.

He is the propitiation for our sins, but | judgment that might righteously have not for ours only. His atonement, as it consumed me, to that Lamb as it has been was applied to all our race, is capable of slain, whose blood is sufficient to take pardoning all our race.. To speak indeed, away my sins. Say all this in the exercise of its pardoning, though never applied to of faith, with humbleness, with repentance us, is unmeaning language. It cannot be for every sin, with a resolution to rest an atonement for our salvation, unless our implicitly in the perfection of the propi. sins are pardoned by it. Our sins are not tiation with which God has declared pardoned by it, unless it be applied to us ; himself well pleased, seeking before all, but then to the capability of the extension in the atoning sacrifice, the means of of the atonement, to the inherent virtue rendering you like in holiness to him who of this atonement, no limits can be set. rendered the sacrifice. Not the most inveterate transgressors are But this leads me to state, in the last placed beyond the reach of its pardoping place, that to the mercy of the proposal merit; not the transgression of the darkest of Christ, and the affectionate concern stain is removed from its cleansing power. for souls, are united the strictest jealousy What are all mankind, all that ever have for the interests of holiness.

« These lived, all that ever shall live? They are things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” beings whose numbers can be reckoned, The direct result of teaching you forgivewhose rank in the scale of existence can ness through the great propitiation of easily be ascertained; but the character of Christ, is moral purity. If forgiveness Jesus as God in our nature, cannot be had been declared as unpurchased by an estimated; it stands forth in glory, which, infinite ransom, the guilt had been lessened in moral dignity, sinks infinitely beneath in your estimation; and if guilt had been it the whole creation of intelligences. named by extenuating names -if the

The propitiation made in his person, my message brought by us to you, had. conbrethren, is to be considered as not only veyed the reconciliation of your conscience taking away the sins of us who believe, to God, by certain tidings of an indulgent but if the whole world would believe, it is and endearing exercise of mercy on his equally capable of taking away the sins of part towards you, then, whatever tempothe whole world. Who, then, can doubt rary ease the believing of our word might the power to benefit his own individual have given you, it would have proved case, of what is thus announced uni- itself to right reason never to have come versally full ? or who, conscious of his from a God of purity, because the peace it need of an atonement, can reasonably offered was separated from holiness. But doubt that he will receive the blessing of O to learn, as you do from the Bible, that it, especially when he reflects, that even the salvation of your souls were utterly the multitudes that have discarded him, hopeless, except for the sacrifice of infinite are still invited to come and receive it. value; to learn that, in order to the Whoever comes, then, to this propitiation-remedy for sin, the counsels of eternal whoever comes to this propitiation bewail- wisdom were employed, a blessed Trinity ing his sins, must not allow a suspicious entering into the covenant of grace—the thought to interrupt that confidence which Father giving up the Son—the Son devotwe are called to repose in the fulness of ing bimself to the Father's will, and the the atonement, and in the freeness of its Holy Spirit carrying forward the merciful offer. Whoever would reason you into scheme; to learn that, for remission of the idea, that the propitiation is not able sin, an atonement had been presented, the to meet your case, account that person an value of wbich riscs beyond the computaenemy equally to the honour of the tion of every created intelligence; to learn Saviour, and your own peace. Say you that the plans of eternal wisdom, that the to every such accuser—There is an advo- incarnation, that the sacrifice on the cate with the Father. The satisfaction cross, that the mediation of his Son, of Christ is an infinite satisfaction. I will that the advocacy with the Father, that not, I ought not, to despair of pardon. I all has been combined in the work of will raise my supplication, in the persua- taking away your sins, how efficacious sion of receiving a gracious answer. I to render an evil in itself as hateful in look from myself to my Surety-from my your souls as the reality ought to make it? guilt to his atonement-from the throne What a power has all this to give the of justice to the mercy seat—from the body of sin in your hearts its deadly

« PreviousContinue »