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if you do not come and lay hold on eternal life in Christ Jesus, the real cause is, that
of these things ; you know indeed that you have done this and that which you have heard God has forbidden you ; you know also you shall die, as do others ; but you do not believe that sin has entailed God's curse upon you ; that you shall certainly appear hereafter before the judgment-seat of Christ ; that, being such as you are, you shall certainly be damned; that there is no hope for you but in Christ, and that in him you shall enjoy a life everlasting. You really believe nothing of all these matters, and that makes you neglect this great salvation, and hear the offer of it so coldly as you do. But, though you believe nothing, yet you cannot help seeing and feeling that you are in a world of misery; where (in proverbial language) briers and thorns vex and tear you every day till you shall be laid in the dust. And how think you this comes to pass ? Is there nothing amiss, judge you, when God so afflicts his creatures ? imagine it is for anything else but their sins ? And, if you do not repent, may you not reasonably conclude that all other God's declared judgments against sin, as well as those you see, feel, and fear, will surely be executed ? My dear brother, I beseech you venture upon no dreadful experiments. Search seriously into the truth of your case now, and accept offered mercy while yet the day of salvation is not ended. Try yourself by the law for conviction ; and then try Christ for salvation ; and
you will do a work which you shall never repent of hereafter ; and I venture to appeal to yourself, whether you are now satisfied this work is already done.
But, Secondly. To the certainty of your ruin or salvation being without Christ or in him, add the greatness of that ruin and of that salvation. The text sets out this in two important words, you shall be saved, you shall be damned. Damned ! very
sound is terrible ; there is not a sinner in the world that likes so much as to hear the dreadful shocking word. Saved! This is all, you can desire no more.
Salvation ! It is a word the angels cannot utter with that sensibility of joy that belongs to it. It is the sinner's word, the saved sinner's word of triumph in life, in death, in glory. Damnation! It is the unhumbled sinner's terror ; I cannot name it but he
trembles. Damnation! It is the good Redeemer's pity. The thought of it draws tears from his eyes; yea, and the very blood from his heart. He sees, the dear compassionate Jesus sees, the long and horrible chambers of hell ; sees the miserable sinners covered over with inextinguishable flames; hears their hopeless cries for pity ; knows they shall never, never, never be delivered. The foresight of it melts his soul into compassion ; he offers himself to suffer in our place, he makes an atonement, he runs between the living and the dead; he cries, “Here, sinners, come, come to me, and you shall escape that horrible pit; turn, follow me, and you shall be safe ; O come
you shall not die.” And what ! my dear friends, shall Jesus thus pity us in vain ? Is there refuge from this wrath to come, and shall we not betake ourselves to it ? Alas ! do but set salvation in the other scale; over-against the first and second death set resurrection to life, and glory eternal. See, my brethren, what' fearful prospects lie in the road of death ; misery every step you go in the peaceless road; misery growing more formidable as you draw nearer your end. Then what misery in the departing hour! who can tell ? for we have not known it; and they that have may not come back to instruct us in it. Yea, and what misery after death! what misery at judgment, when the whole creation shall as it were die away at the sight of man's ruin ! and for endless horrors ! for the fire that never shall be quenched, for the worm that never shall die ! - Ah, do but compare with these the blessings of salvation! The peaceful conscience walking with God as a reconciled Father, resting in the everlasting arms. full of immortality, sweetening the bitterest passages of life. The departing saint looking up to Jesus, and smiling at death. The spirit made perfect waiting for the resurrection-day with infinite content. The meeting with Jesus in the clouds. The glorified body. The final absolution. The sentence of life. The shout of angels. The entrance into paradise. The sight of God for ever. The sight of Jesus in his glory. The enjoyment of God world without end. The services of heaven. The fellowship of saints. The love, the peace, the joy, the rest, the glory, the safety, the security for ever of heaven's inhabitants. This is Salvation. Salvation, the daughter of
true Faith. But what is that ugly monster that stands overagainst it ?
It is Damnation, the child of Sin and Unbelief. And what, my brethren ! is unbelief only the cause that any of us shall perish? If we come to Jesus in sincerity, shall we escape all these things that are coming upon the world of the ungodly, and share in all this so vast salvation ? So Christ himself tells us, you see ; for I am but arguing from his own words. And are we already sentenced to this so great a death ? And yet is this so great a life this day freely offered us ? I am almost ashamed to ask which you will choose. But I know the enemy of souls will be striving hard to catch away the purpose which, I am hoping, now glows upon your heart. And will you suffer him ? He will certainly do it, unless you call upon God to help you. I beseech you therefore, by all your eternal hopes, go and pray ; pray that the thoughts which have been suggested to you may sink deep into your heart. And when at any time you begin to stagger and faint, remember this word He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved ; but he that believeth not shall be damned. I earnestly commend you to God's grace, for the sake of his infinite love in Jesus Christ.
1 John ii. 3, 4.
And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.
He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
This whole epistle of St. John is a catholic exhortation ; and the special occasion and design of it seems to be, that none; being deceived by the love of sin, might take up an imagination, that what they called faith was that saving faith, which, by the constitution of the Gospel, is appointed to be the means of making us partakers of the salvation purchased by Jesus Christ, when it produced not its genuine and proper fruit of obedience in the heart and life. This he had entered upon in the first chapter, and declared very peremptorily, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another; and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."* From which last words having taken occasion to address some seasonable comforts to sincere believers, who, in the experience of daily infirmities, and in the case of disallowed falls into sin, might be ready to be discouraged, he returns again, in the words of the text, to his main matter; alleging, that though, as he had just before been intimating, it was true that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin,' yet they only are partakers of this glorious privilege, who are possessed of that faith in God which engages their hearts and lives into his service.
· And hereby we know,' &c. The truth of the assertion contained in these words is evident. The effects manifestly show whether any, or what, the knowledge is. A man may be well assured that
1 John i. 6, 7.
he knows God rightly, if what he knows of him is productive of an obediential spirit and conduct. But if these do not follow, whatever he seems to know, he is still in darkness, and a perfect stranger to a saving knowledge of him. Here therefore we are evidently taught two things :
First.—That a right knowledge, or (which is the same) a right faith, is the only principle of true obedience. And,
Secondly.—That true obedience is the direct proof of a right knowledge or faith.
First.-A right knowledge or faith is the only principle of true obedience. To know God is to know him to be what he is ; and unless God be known to be that most blessed Being he indeed is, and unless the relation we bear unto him be known also, there can be seen neither motive nor obligation to serve him; so that a right knowledge of God is the main thing. They that live without God, as too many do in Christian as well as Heathen countries, are such as do not at all know him to be what he is. Did they in any measure of truth know that, they would find some influence from it on the heart and conduct. But it is not every sort of knowledge of God that will produce a true obedience.
To manifest this, let us consider what is meant by obedience. · Present your bodies,' saith St. Paul to the Romans, 'a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.'*
Take bodies here in the most strict and literal sense, and still the obedience of the mind, which alone can make any service reasonable, must be implied in presenting the body to the Lord. The body cannot present itself. It is the heart willingly presenting the body to God that can make it an acceptable sacrifice. So that the life of obedience lies in the willingness of the heart; Delighting in the law of God after the inward man.'+
Without this, bodily services can be neither living, holy, acceptable, nor reasonable. True obedience is the conformity of the whole man to the will of God, a will within to do what God pleases, and a power without to put it in practice. This is strongly expressed by St. Paul to the same Romans, Ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.' Wherein the spring of obedience, from
* Rom. xii. 1. + vii. 22. vi. 17.