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by letting their light shine before men, as being derived from Him. And since He has promised to give light to His waiting people, to shine into their hearts, to discover His glory to their souls, and to conform them to His image by His Spirit; it becomes them not to defile themselves with the evil that is in the world, but to abstain from all kinds of worldly excess, and to seek to know what is the will of God respecting themselves in every matter, that they may acquiesce in it, and may glorify Him in their bodies and in their spirits, which are His.
How delightful is the portraiture of Christianity, which is drawn and displayed in the word of God. It appears to have been designed to chase away all moral evil, and to promote all moral good. It leads the children of men to the source of real happiness, opens to their view a fulness of grace and truth in Christ Jesus, from which they may derive, by the influence of the Holy Spirit, grace to enable them to walk in goodness and righteousness and truth upon earth, and whereby they shall receive everlasting glory in the life to come. Were the power of godliness coextensive with the profession of Christianity, we should see nothing of the moral disorders which are continually brought under our view in the world. Godliness restrains all the unruly passions of the human mind, for it leads those who are under its influence to
exercise themselves to have always a conscience void of offence both toward God and toward men.
In reviewing the Epistle for this day, we have seen what is the conduct which becometh the children of God with regard to self-government, or self-denial in the lusts of the flesh most especially. Let us now consider more particularly, First, The motives by which this conduct is enforced, as they are set before us in the text; and
Secondly, The exhortation which is immediately connected with them.
The motives are, As Christ also hath loved us and hath given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. The love of Christ powerfully affected the mind of the apostle. He therefore spoke of it as the most influential topic that could be adduced. He had before said that he prayed for the persons to whom he wrote, that Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith; that they, being rooted and grounded in love, might be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height, and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. The love of Christ is a boundless subject, the immensity of which will never be exhausted even throughout eternity itself. It is a subject which fills heaven with wonder, which the angels of God contemplate with astonishment and admiration. They con
template the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward mankind with wonder and praise, while they ascribe salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb. With what gratitude then ought the children of men, who were the objects of this love, to meditate upon it. Christ hath loved us. The eternal Son of God, who had glory with the Father before the world was, who is before all things, and by whom all things consist; He manifested His love to the sinful children of men, by humbling Himself to take our nature, that He might become our Redeemer. The apostle says to the Corinthians, Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich. Poor indeed He became, when He made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.* What an amazing condescension was it for God to become manifest in the flesh! We cannot conceive how such an event could possibly take place. But this fact is the foundation of Christianity. Our Saviour Himself said on the subject, God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. The love of God to man was displayed in the gift of His Son to
1 Eph. iii. 17-19.
2 Rev. vii. 10. 3 Col. i. 17. 4 Phil. ii. 7.
become man; the love of Christ appeared in His giving Himself for us, in willingly condescending to abase Himself to the lowest state of degradation, in order to raise us from our low and fallen state, and restore us to the Divine favour and reconciliation with God.
The purpose for which He gave Himself for us is mentioned. It was to be an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. The two words here used may perhaps refer to, and at all events may be illustrated by the transactions of the great day of atonement, recorded in the sixteenth chapter of the book of Leviticus. On that occasion two goats were directed to be presented before the Lord, for a sin offering, one of which was slain as a sacrifice, and upon the head of the other the priest was to lay both his hands, and confess over it all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat; and then to send it away by a fit man into the wilderness. And it is added, The goat shall bear upon it all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited, where it was set at liberty. In reference to this transfer of guilt, our Lord Jesus Christ was called the Lamb of God which taketh, or carrieth, away the sin of the world. And it is recorded of Him, that He His ownself bare our sins in His own body on the tree ; and that He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." The Lord laid on Him the
iniquity of us all, and in consequence of it He was made a curse for us, by means of which He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law; and the God of heaven declares respecting those who put their trust in the redemption of Christ, I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.5 He suffered the punishment due to our transgressions. And His atonement was a sweet smelling savour before God: as it is stated that when Noah offered burnt offerings unto the Lord after the flood, the Lord smelled a sweet savour, and the Lord said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake, though the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every living thing as I have done. Thus by the sweet smelling savour of the offering and sacrifice of Christ, the curse and wrath of God is removed from His people, and pardon and peace are proclaimed to all who believe in His name.
The apostle speaks of this love of Christ with the utmost admiration to the Romans. He says that Christ died for the ungodly. The wonder of this appears, in that scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die; but God commendeth His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners
5 Heb. ix. 26; viii. 12. 6 Isa. liii. 6. 7 Gen. viii. 21. 8 Rom. v. 4-10.