« ПредишнаНапред »
I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.* And not only in general, but he mentions particular instances of his life of faith. At the time of his praying for the removal of the thorn in the flesh, when he was assured by the Lord Jesus that his grace was sufficient for him, he cordially receives the dispensation on these terms, and adds, Most gladly will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon met When he stood before the lion at Rome, he saw by faith the Lord standing by him strengthening him.
The holy Apostle was well acquainted with this divine life, and it is a just occasion of grief and humiliation that we are such strangers to it. Pride and carelessness are the principal reasons of our having in general no more than a faint glimmering of it. We know not our corruption—we forget our weakness--our lips confess that we are wretched, and miserable, and
poor, and blind, and naked; but our hearts notwithstanding, are, at the same time, as the hearts of those who say they are rich and increased in goods and have need of nothing. Hence we encounter temptations, or other difficulties in our own strength; and if by God's grace we are conquerors, we feel self-complacency. But in general the tenor of our walk is careless, so that the hours and days are spent without exertion to keep our hearts in a spiritual frame, and therefore it is no wonder if the heart, left to take its own course, should sel
. Gal. ii, 20.
it 2 Cor. xii, 9,
dom feel the necessity of seeking help from Christ. Hence self-knowledge and diligence must be exercised in order to our understanding rightly that part of the life of faith which consists in our dependance upon bis
grace. III. To walk in Christ, is to follow his example. Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.* Conformity to the example of Christ is indeed only another word for spotless perfection; but it is confessedly a great help towards the attainment of perfection to be furnished, not only with written directions, but with a pattern by which to form ourselves. For if at any time doubts arise whether we are indeed following the prescribed rules, it may be brought to the test by observing if it correspond to the pattern. For instance, if a person should be disposed to argue for public amusements, though they are not expressly forbidden, it is immediately decided by asking whether the Savior would
go to enjoy himself in such scenes of vanity and dissipation. A reference to the pattern has also this advantage attending it, that it enables us more easily to preserve a due proportion and harmony between the respective parts of the copy. For instance, persons are often actuated with what they •suppose a laudable zeal, and know not their own spirit, till on comparing themselves with their Lord, they discover that their zeal is not in proportion to their love and humility. Thus
Christ's holy life affords facilities for the general adjustment of our own; and every particular also of his offices, walk, and conversation, exemplifies every particular of our own.
Thus we may learn from him that which is the beginning of all sincere obedience, namely, a renunciation of our own will: as it is written, We ought not to please ourselves, but every one to please his neighbor for his good to edification, for even Christ pleased not himself.* The mortification of sin may also be learnt from his pattern as Peter teaches: For as much then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind.t That is, do you also crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts. Humility is best learnt from considering Christ. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of" a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. I
Mutual forbearance, and readiness to receive one another, notwithstanding our faults, is enjoined after the example of Christ. Receive ye one another as Christ also received us, to the glory of God. Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also
Rom. xv, 1–3.
+ 1 Peter iv, 1.
Phil. ii, 3, 5–8.
do ye.* And the temper of love in general is to be like him. Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice
to God for a sweet smelling savor. Hereby perceive we the love of God, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. And if we suffer unjustly from them who are without, we are taught to look to Christ, who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered he threatened not, but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.t
IV. And lastly, to walk in Christ is to walk i fellowship with him.
We have fellowship with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. I The former particulars of our duty mentioned were, that we are to apply to him as sinners; depend upon him as helpless; imitate him as his followers; and here we add, to hold communion with him as his friends: for so he permits us to speak. Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends. It is an exclusive friendship, confined to his believing people. The world knows him not, nor he them: therefore he said to his disciples, I go away, and the world seeth me no more,
He manifests himself to us as he does not unto the world. It is a familiar friendship: for behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice and open the door unto me, I will come in to him and sup with him, and he with me.|| * Col. üi, 13.
+ 1 Peter ü, 22, 23. \ 1 John i, 3. John xv, 15. Rev. iii, 20.
For the preservation of this holy intimacy in its strength and purity on our parts, we must beware of inward pollution, for it is only the pure
in heart that shall see God. It is not the sinful act only, but the sinful thought indulged that will cause the Lord to withdraw his presence. And in general, the rules for maintenance of human friendship are applicable here, such as avoiding of occasions of offence, and seeking to please. A friend will take it unkindly if we do not speak in his defence when any thing is said to his disadvantage, nay, even if we do not speak in his praise when any benefit would result to his cause. An estrangement of affection will ensue if we do not visit him, and take pains too, if necessary, to find him: so except we seek the Lord in prayer, and persevere till we reach his presence, we shall be seldom blest with the light of his countenance. Nothing mars our peace, and engenders slavish fear so much as carelessness and infrequency in prayer. Having spoken thus much in explanation let us now endeavor to apply the subject more particularly by addressing
1. Those who are walking not in Christ, but sin, and have, it is to be presumed, not received Christ Jesus the Lord: for he that truly nameth the name of Christ departeth from iniquity. As
have therefore not received Ohrist Jesus the Lord, our business with you is to beseech you to receive him. He has offered himself to you in times past, and you