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live by faith in the Son of God." Then that faith again cancels all that is past, and there is no condemnation to thee. At whatsoever time thou truly believest in the name of the Son of God, all thy sins, antecedent to that hour, vanish away as the morning dew. Now then, “ Stand thou fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made thee free.” He hath once more made thee free from the power of sin, as well as from the guilt and punishment of it. Oh,“ be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage!" Neither the vile, devilish bondage of sin; of evil desires, evil tempers, or words, or works, the most grievous yoke on this side hell: nor the bondage of slavish, tormenting fear, of guilt and self-condemnation.
3. But, secondly: Do all they who abide “ in Christ Jesus, walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit?” Then we cannot but infer, that whosoever now committeth sin, hath no part nor lot in this matter. He is even now condemned by his own heart. But, “ if our heart condemn us,” if our own conscience bear witness that we are guilty, undoubtedly God doth : for“ he is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things;" so that we cannot deceive him, if we can ourselves. And think not to say, 'I was justified once; my sins were once forgiven me:' I know not that; neither will I dispute whether they were or not. Perhaps, at this distance of time, it is next to impossible to know, with any tolerable degree of certainty, whether that was a true, genuine work of God, or whether thou didst only deceive thy own soul. But this I know, with the utmost degree of certainty, “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” ” Therefore, thou art of thy father the devil. It cannot be denied : for the works of thy father thou dost. O flatter not thyself with vain hopes. Say not to thy soul, Peace, peace! For there is no peace. Cry aloud! Cry unto God out of the deep; if happily he may hear thy voice. Come unto him as at first, as wretched and poor, as sinful, miserable, blind, and naked. And beware thou suffer thy soul to take no rest, till bis pardoning love be again revealed; till lie “ heal VOL. VII.
thy backslidings,” and fill thee again with the “ faith that worketh by love."
4. Thirdly, Is there no condemnation to them which 6 walk after the Spirit,” by reason of inward sin still remaining, so long as they do not give way thereto; nor by reason of sin cleaving to all they do? Then fret not thyself because of ungodliness, though it still remain in thy heart. Repine not, because thou still comest short of the glorious image of God: nor yet, because pride, self-will, or unbelief, cleave to all thy words and works. And be not afraid to know all this evil of thy heart, to know thyself as also thou art known. Yea, desire of God, that thou mayest not think of thyself more highly than thou oughtest to think.' Let thy continual prayer be,
" Shew me, as my soul can bear,
The depth of inbred sin:
The pride that lurks within." But when he heareth thy prayer, and unveils thy heart; when he shews thee thoroughly what spirit thou art of: then beware that thy Faith fail thee not, that thou suffer not thy shield to be torn from thee. Be abased. Be humbled in the dust. See thyself nothing, less than nothing and vanity. But still, “ let not thy heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." Still hold fast, “ I, even I, have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. And as the heavens are higher than the earth, so is his love higher than even my sins.” Therefore, God is merciful to thee a sinner! Such a sinner as thou art! God is Love; and Christ hath died. Therefore, the Father himself loveth thee. Thou art his child. Therefore he will with-hold from thee no manner of thing that is good. Is it good, that the whole body of sin, which is now crucified in thee, should be destroyed? It shall be done. Thou shalt be cleansed from all filthiness, both of flesh and spirit.” Is it good, that nothing should remain in thy heart, but the pure love of God alone ? Be of good cheer! “ Thou shalt love the Lord thy
God, with all thy heart, and mind, and soul, and strength." " Faithful is he that hath promised, who also will do it.” It is thy part, patiently to continue in the work of Faith, and in the labour of Love; and in cheerful peace, in hum. ble confidence, with calm and resigned, and yet earnest expectation, to wait till the “ zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall perform this.'
5. Fourthly, If they that " are in Christ, and walk after the Spirit,” are not condemned for sins of infirmity, as neither for involuntary failings, nor for any thing whatever which they are not able to help: then beware, O thou that hast faith in his blood, that Satan herein “ gain no-advantage over thee.”. Thou art still foolish and weak, blind and ignorant. More weak than any words can express, more foolish than it can yet enter into thy heart to conceive, knowing nothing yet as thou oughtest to know. Yet let not all thy weakness and folly, or any fruit thereof, which thou art not yet able to avoid, shake thy faith, thy filial trust in God, or disturb thy peace or joy in the Lord. The rule which some give, as to wilful sins, and which, in that case, may perhaps be dangerous, is undoubtedly wise and safe, if it be applied only to the case of weakness and infirmities. Art thou fallen, O man of God? Yet, do not lie there, fretting thyself and bemoaning thy weakness : but meekly say, Lord, I shall fall thus every moment, unless thou uphold me with thy hand. And then arise! Leap and walk. Go on thy way. 66 Run with patience the race set before thee.”
6. Lastly. Since a believer need not come into condemnation, even though he be surprised into what his soul abhors, (suppose his being surprised is not owing to any carelessness or wilful neglect of his own :) if thou who believest, art thus overtaken in a fault, then grieve unto the Lord; it shall be a precious balm : pour out thy heart before him, and shew bim of thy trouble. And pray with all thy might to him who is “ touched with the feeling of thy infirmities,” that he would stablish, and strengthen, and settle thy soul, and suffer thee to fall no more. But still he condemneth thee not. Wherefore shouldest thou fear? Thou hast no need of any “ fear that hath torment." Thou shalt love him that loveth thee, and it sufficeth: more love will bring more strength. And, as soon as thou lovest him with all thy heart, thou shalt be " perfect and entire, lacking nothing." Wait in peace for that hour, when “the God of Peace shall sanctify thee wholly, so that thy whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ!”
SPIRIT OF BONDAGE AND ADOPTION.
ROMANS viii. 15.
but ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby
1. ST. PAUL here speaks to those who are the children of God by Faith. “ Ye,” saith he, who are indeed his chil. dren, have drank into his Spirit. Ye “ have not received the Spirit of Bondage again to fear. But, because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts. Ye have received the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”
2. The Spirit of Bondage and Fear is widely distant from this loving Spirit of Adoption: those who are influenced only by slavish fear, cannot be termed, “ The sons of God.” Yet some of them may be styled his servants, and are not far from the kingdom of heaven.”
3. But it is to be feared, the bulk of mankind, yea, of what is called The Christian World, have not attained even this; but are still afar of, " neither is God in all their thoughts.” A few names may be found of those who love God : a few more there are that fear him. But the greater part have neither the fear of God before their eyes, nor the love of God in their hearts.