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desires, and enabling us to bring the same to good effect. The soul of man is the subject where the Spirit works conviction and conversion ; and this he does by his sacred illuminations, whereby he discovers the misery of a fallen state, and the glorious remedy there is in Jesus ; wherein, by disclosing the love of God in Jesus Christ, he stirs up and enables the heart to turn unto God in love, and in a cheerful willingness to serve, please, and glorify him. It is the Spirit that overcomes the enmity, while the means he uses is God's love in Christ. And all this you may observe in the most rational manner, perfectly consistent with the freest use of our reason, and the freest choice of our will. For as in a reconciled God he proposes to our reason or understanding the most suitable and convincing argument unto our obedience, so thereby he stirs up our wills in the most deliberate manner, with the freest consent, and without the least constraint or violence, to choose the holy way of God's commandments.
Thus you see what that knowledge or faith is which is the principle of true obedience ; and therein that what cannot be obtained through a knowledge of God at large is really and effectually wrought by the knowledge of God in Christ. Hence we learn,
First.—That it is by a constant contemplation of God in Christ, and in a dependence on the Spirit, that we shall grow into a more perfect conformity of the whole man (spirit, soul, and body), unto the commandments of God. Here is the only motive that can engage our souls, by at once removing our apprehensions of God's wrath against us, and representing to us the most desirable and condescending object; and to this also the operations of the Spirit are absolutely confined, according to the tenor of the covenant of grace. If we are not under this influence we have in fact no real obedience, whatever persuasions we may be under, or whatever specious appearances to the contrary we may have to produce, but our enmity against God remains upon our hearts; and if we are under it, yet the only reason why we are not more advanced in obedience is, because this glorious motive is not more powerfully and abidingly fixed in our hearts. “The love of Christ constraineth us,' saith St. Paul, “because we thus judge, that if one died for all,
then were all dead. And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for theni, and rose again. * Wherefore, brethren, let us labour earnestly that · Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith.'+ Remark the word dwell, not be admitted into its as one that comes to make us a visit, however frequent, but may have a constant abidance. This, this is the only way of comfort and victory. The more Christ is in you, the more sin will fall before him, and hope and love flourish. You will never repent the pains you take to entertain such a guest : behold his reward is with him every hour. Let Christ dwell with you here, and death shall not part you asunder; nay, you shall dwell with him for ever.
Secondly.—We may learn hence also in what manner we should receive the message of mercy brought us by our incarnate God. Thankfully, without all question ; with hearts bearing some, though no proportion of gratitude to the vastness of the gift. God passed by sinning angels; he sent redemption to us. And such redemption !
And such redemption ! O sirs ! what shall we think of it in heaven ? yea, what upon our dying beds ? Tell it out among the people, let the world know that their Redeemer liveth. Ah! my dear brethren, let us not be insensible to this love ; let us not be ashamed of the only name under heaven whereby we must be saved ; let us not disgrace that holy name whereby we are called. I beseech you, by all this mercy of God, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
The time set apart for the remembrance of our Lord's appearance in the flesh is before us.
And how shall we commemorate that blessed manifestation ? Shall we do it with spiritual, or with carnal, joy? Let us consider beforehand. What! is it a time for riot, debauch, and excess? This cannot be. He came to destroy the works of the devil.
Holy joy becomes holy days. "To us a Child is born, to us a Son is given ;' a Son to pardon, sanctify, and bless. Let our hearts be lifted up. Let the praises of God be in our mouths. Let the work of the Lord be on our hands. Let Jesus be glorified in us and by us. Brethren, be on your guard. The 2 Cor. v. 14, 15.
+ Ephes. iii. 17.
enemy will not be asleep. It is a season of temptation. One or another of you have found him working already, and prompting to your minds schemes of indulgence or riot. Take heed. Behold, you are warned. Do not so great wickedness, which the devil will be sure to drive you into if he can. What! when we pretend to remember the birth of the Son of God to save us, shall we do works that will shame him, and damn us, unless mercy afterwards interpose ? I entreat you to remember that Christmas is the season of commemorating the nativity of the holy One ; and not, as it is usually taken, a season for every sort of foolish mirth and abominable licentious
And therefore do not yield to the sinful thought, “now Christmas is at hand, and I will keep it merrily.” The mirth you propose is no other than madness. Away with these practices ; Christmas is not a Heathen feast. Behold, you are warned. And I trust in God you will be cautious, and demean yourselves in such manner that your hearts and conduct shall be in concord with and under the spirit of that anthem with which the angels ushered the Only-Begotten into the world, when the multitude of them brake forth and sang
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men. This is the way to express your
thankfulness. And thus let us keep the feast.
1 Jous 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.
I HAVE shown you, from these words, that a right knowledge or faith is the only principle of true obedience. The obedience here intended is that only which can deserve the name; the obedience of the whole man, beginning in the deliberate choice of the heart, and issuing in a conformity of the conduct with the will of God. Without any knowledge of God at all, that this obedience is impossible, every one sees. But, although God should be perfectly known to be all that he is, yet if he be known only absolutely, that is, without respect to the mediation of Jesus Christ, by us guilty and perverted creatures, there is nothing in that knowledge which could draw over our hearts unto him; nor would that knowledge give us the least power of turning to him : but, on the contrary, the more perfectly we should know God in this absolute manner, the more fearfully we should hate him for being such a God as he is ; so great and mighty, so eternal and ever-present with us: because, however perfect in himself, we should in all his perfections see him against us, while also he does not communicate unto us any grace (without which we cannot choose his service) but as we look unto him through the Redeemer. Wherefore that knowledge or faith, which constrains the heart unto obedience, is the knowledge of God in Christ ; and this is, and only can be, a principle of obeying God from the heart. Having seen therefore what that knowledge or faith is, which is the principle of real obedience, we will now,
Secondly.—Endeavour to show that obedience from the heart is the direct proof of such a knowledge or faith ; • We do know that we know him, if we keep his coinmandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.' Here this is manifest, “ That where there is a true knowledge of God in Christ, obedience from the heart is the certain and necessary effect of that knowledge.” From which it will follow of consequence,
First.—That obedience from the heart is an infallible proof of the truth of our faith or knowledge. And that therefore,
Secondly.—Where this proof is not, it is a mere lie to say we know God.
The two latter, you observe, are plain consequences from the former.
For if the knowledge of God in Christ, and that only (as has been shown), does necessarily constrain the heart unto obedience, then on the one side obedience from the heart must prove our knowledge to be of the right sort, and the want of that obedience convince us that we have not that knowledge. The doctrine is,
“ Where there is a true knowledge of God in Christ, obedience from the heart is the certain and necessary effect of it." And that for these two reasons :
First.-Because of the incomparable excellency, loveliness, and desirableness of the object. There is that in the blessed God, which, when it is seen (and seen, observe, with self-application, as what we have an interest in), is infinitely suited to engage the heart of any rational creature, whether angel in heaven or sinner upon earth. Devils only may not appropriate God unto themselves, and therefore their knowledge of his excellences cannot engage their spirits unto him. But when, to say nothing of angels, a sinful man beholds the fair beauty of the Lord in the face of Jesus Christ; beholds him as what he is, a Spirit self-existing, and whose essential property it is to have life in himself; a Spirit filling the universe with his presence, and upholding and directing both it and everything in it, great and little, by his amazing operation, almighty, in his power to do even what he pleases, and everlasting without possibility of decay, while generations and worlds rise up and pass away; a Spirit too to whose free goodness he owes his