« FöregåendeFortsätt »
criminal. An imperfect creature therefore, instead of gaining upon his righteous Judge, is continually running into his debt; and ought to cry with increasing emphasis,
" Pardon mine in. iquity ; for it is great."
6. If just men do not do good, without doing evil also, then if the new covenant were not constructed differently from the first, there would be no hope of the final salvation of a single saint. Adam's first sin broke that covenant entirely, and forever; but believers sin every day, and yet the new covenant holds them.
The new covenant, in distinction from the first, is “ ordered in all things, and is sure.” Here, there is healing for backslidings, and pardon for sins; else there would be no hope concerning one of
If Christ only took on him our old debts, and left us to pay the new ones ourselves, we should still be exposed to an eternal imprisonment. It is necessary that believers should understand, that if they sin, they have an Advocate with the Father; and that his blood cleanseth from all sin. As they are always sinning in deed, word, or thought, they should always be making application to the blood of sprinkling, to cleanse them from their sins.
7. If there is not a just man on earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not, --if this is the bible representation of the matter, then we see how unreasonable it must be, to expect to find a sinless perfection in the professors of religion. Christians acknowledge themselves to be, by nature, as depraved as other men. They profess to be recovered from this depravity, in some degree ; but not wholly recovered. As such they are described in the bible. It is unreasonable therefore, because something faulty is discovered in them, immediately to condemn them as hypocrites. The world are to expect to see in the church, let it be ever so free from hypocrites, something of the same spirit which actuates thent: And professors are to expect to see something of this Spirit in each other. If the discoyery of the least degree of a selfish, proud and worldly spirit, must destroy charity among christians; there can be no fellowship among them in this world. We do not plead for the least degree of this unlovely nature, as innocent; we do
not wish sinners to look upon the failings of N christians as excusable ; nor ought christians to
extenuate their own sins : But this is what we wish to state, as a truth taught in the scriptures, That good men in this life are not wholly free from sin. Let it not therefore be said, that there are no good men ; that Christ has no seryants in our world, because none can be found, but such as are imperfect.
On the other hand, let none of us conclude that we are christians, because we are imperfect---because we sin. Our text says, There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. Sinning is not the whole which a just man doeth; he also doeth good, and is possessed of a good heart. He repents of sin, and puts his trust in Christ. He watches and prays against sin. He keeps his heart with all diligence. He is a man of truth. He seeks to do good to all men, as he has opportunity ; and to live in such
an exemplary manner, that the world may be benefitted by his living in it. But while he is living in this manner, he sees a thousand deviations from that perfect rule given in the scriptures ; especially as it respects the exercises of his heart. And while he is conscious of so many failings in himself, he has no idea that he appears in the view of his fellow men, as a faultless character. He does not wish to have them consider him, as laying any claim to such a character.
8. If the christian is sinfully imperfect in this life, we see why death is considered as gain to him. Paul, that eminent saint, said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” There is no wonder why he said, To die is gain ; since we find him in this life complaining of sin dwelling in him, and groaning under a body of death. From this indwelling sin, and body of death, he expected to be fully delivered when he should give up his spirit into the hand of Christ. The text says, There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. And it is clear from the scriptures, that there is not a just man in heaven, but what doeth good without sinning. Concerning that holy place it is said, There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth. The souls of the saints in heaven are called “the Spirits of just men made perfect.”
Since good men are sinfully imperfect while they live upon carth, and since they are perfectly free from sin when they enter into the heavenly state, which is immediately consequent upon their leaving the body, it will follow, that the moment of dissoluition forms the dividing line between sinful im
perfection, and sinless perfection.* Death is in itself undesirable ; but the consequences of it are glorious to all those who have an interest in the death of Christ. Their spiritual warfare will then be accomplished. That hateful nature which once made them entire enemies to God, and which has led them, since their conversion, so many times to grieve his Holy Spirit, and proyoke him to hide his face from them, will now be removed forever. It will be so entirely destroyed, root and branch, as never to have the smallest influence on them any more, to turn their hearts away from God; or to cause him, even for a small moment, to hide his face from them. Let all God's people say, with Job, “We would not live always." And let the thought of the sinless perfection of the heavenly state, keep up
while they are striving against sin. That perfect state which you desire, is not far distant. You may constantly draw nearer and nearer to it in this World, and when you drop this mortal body, you will “reign in life, by Jesus Christ." To whom be glory and dominion, world without end. Amen.
* It has been doubted by some whether the Methodists hold to a sinkess perfection in this life. But the matter is put beyond doubt, that they do hold to such a perfection in this life, by the argument, which they use in their book of discipline, against the power of death to sanctify. By this argument, the words of which are not recollected, it appears, that they do hold that saints in this life are as sinless as they will be in Heaven.
END OF SERMON IV.
JOHN vi. 47. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
JESUS Christ is the faithful and true Witness. All his sayings are faithful and true ; but some of them are more emphatically important than others. What he introduces with a " veri. ly, verily," we know is not only truth, but very important truth. He used this form of expression when he taught Nicodemus the necessity of the new birth. He uses the same form of expression in this chapter, when he teaches the absolute necessity of eating his flesh and drinking his blood that we might live. What is it in the text, which Christ declares with so much cer. tainty ? “ He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” This believing is the fruit of a change of heart. It is a cordial consent to gospel truth. The believer, through grace, discovers the holy consistency there is in the gospel; the excellency there is in the Redeemer, the fitness there is in his offices, and his perishing need of such a Saviour. Concerning such a believer Christ declares, that he “ hath everlasting life.” Life is blessedness; everlasting life is everlasting blessedness, or the endless blessedness of heaven. It is Christ who says, “Verily, verily, I