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no condemnation to " these. I shall conclude with some practical inferences.
I. 1. First I am to show, who those are that “are in Christ Jesus.” And are they not those who believe in his name? those who are “ found in him, not having their own righteousness, but the righteousness which is of God by faith?" These, who “ have redemption through his blood,” are properly said to be in Him: For they dwell in Christ, and Christ in them. They are joined unto the Lord in one Spirit. They are ingrafted into Him as branches into the vine. They are united, as members to their head, in a manner which words cannot express, nor could it before enter into their hearts to conceive.
2. Now “whosoever abideth in him, sinneth not ;" “ walketh not after the flesh.” The flesh, in the usual language of St. Paul, signifies corrupt nature. In this sense he uses the word, writing to the Galatians, “The works of the flesh are manifest; (Gal. v. 19;) and a little before, “ Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust" (or desire)“ of the flesh." (v. 16.) To prove which, namely, that those who “ walk by the Spirit,” do not “fulfil the lusts of the flesh," he immediately adds, “ For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit ; and the Spirit lusteth against the flesh, (for these are contrary to each other, that ye may not do the things which ye would.” So the words are literally translated; (να μη α αν θελητε, ταυτα ποιητε ;) not, cannot do the things that ye would;" as if the flesh overcame the Spirit ; a translation which hath not only nothing to do with the original text of the Apostle, but likewise makes his whole argument nothing worth; yea, asserts just the reverse of what he is proving
3. They who are of Christ, who abide in him, “ have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts." They abstain from all those works of the flesh; from “ adultery and fornication;" from “uncleanness and lasciviousness;" from “ idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance;" from “ emulations, wrath, strife, sedition, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings;' from every design, and word, and work, to which the corruption of nature leads. Although they feel the root of bitterness in themselves, yet are they endued with power from on high to trample it continually under foot, so that it cannot “ spring up to trouble them;" insomuch that every fresh assault which they undergo, only gives them fresh occasion of praise, of crying
66 So that ye
out, " Thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord."
4. They now “ walk after the Spirit,” both in their hearts and lives. They are taught of him to love God and their neighbour, with a love which is as “ a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.” And by him they are led into every holy desire, into every divine and heavenly temper, till every thought which arises in their heart is holiness unto the Lord.
5. They who “ walk after the Spirit,” are also led by him into all holiness of conversation. Their “ speech is always in grace, seasoned with salt;” with the love and fear of God. “No corrupt communication comes out of their mouth, but only that which is good ;” that which is “ to the use of edifying;” which is “ meet to minister grace to the hearers.” And herein likewise do they exercise themselves day and night, to do only the things which please God; in all their outward behaviour to follow Him “ who left us an example that we might tread in his steps;" in all their intercourse with their neighbour, to walk in justice, mercy, and truth; and “whatsoever they do,” in every circumstance of life, to “ do all to the glory of God.”
6. These are they who indeed “ walk after the Spirit.” Being filled with faith and with the Holy Ghost, they possess in their hearts and show forth in their lives, in the whole course of their words and actions, the genuine fruits of the Spirit of God, namely, “ love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, fidelity, meekness, temperance,” and whatsoever else is lovely or praiseworthy. “ They adorn in all things the gospel of God our Saviour;" and give full proof to all mankind, that they are indeed actuated by the same Spirit " which raised up Jesus from the dead."
II. 1. I proposed to show, in the Second place, how “there is no condemnation to them which are thus in Christ Jesus," and thus “ walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
And, First, to believers in Christ, walking thus, “ there is no condemnation” on account of their past sins. God condemneth them not for any of these; they are as though they had never been ; they are cast as a stone into the depth of the sea,” and he remembereth them no more. God, having “ set forth his Son to be a propitiation” for them, “ through faith in his blood,” hath declared unto them his “ righteousness, for the remission of the sins that are past.” He layeth therefore
none of these to their charge; their memorial is perished with them.
2. And there is no condemnation in their own breast; no sense of guilt, or dread of the wrath of God. They “ have the witness in themselves :" They are conscious of their interest in the blood of sprinkling. They have not received again the spirit of bondage unto fear,” unto doubt and racking uncertainty ; but they “ have received the Spirit of adoption,” crying in their heart, “ Abba, Father.” Thus, being “justified by faith,” they have the peace of God ruling in their hearts; flowing from a continual sense of his pardoning mercy, and the answer of a good conscience toward God.” 3. If it be said, “ But sometimes a believer in Christ
may lose his sight of the mercy of God; sometimes such darkness may fall upon him that he no longer sees Him that is invisible, no longer feels that witness in himself of his part in the atoning blood; and then he is inwardly condemned, he hath again the sentence of death in himself:'” I answer, supposing it so to be, supposing him not to see the mercy of God, then he is not a believer: For faith implies light; the light of God shining upon the soul. So far, therefore, as any one loses this light, he, for the time, loses his faith. And, no doubt, a true believer in Christ may lose the light of faith ; and so far as this is lost, he may, for a time, fall again into condemnation. But this is not the case of them who are in Christ Jesus," who now believe in his name. For so long as they believe, and walk after the Spirit, neither God condemns them, nor their own heart.
4. They are not condemned, Secondly, for any present sins, for now transgressing the commandments of God. For they do not transgress them: They do not " walk after the flesh, but after the Spirit." This is the continual proof of their “ love of God, that they keep his commandments ;” even as St. John bears witness, “ Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin. For his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God:” He cannot, so long as that seed of God, that loving, holy faith remaineth in him. So long as “he keepeth himself” herein, “ that wicked one toucheth him not." Now it is evident, he is not condemned for the sins which he doth not commit at all. They, therefore, who are thus “ led by the Spirit, are not under the law:” (Gal. v. 18:) Not under the curse or condemnation of it; for it condemns none but those
who break it. Thus, that law of God, “ Thou shalt not steal," condemns none but those who do steal. Thus, “ Remember the Sabbath-day to keep it holy,” condemns those only who do not keep it holy. But against the fruits of the Spirit “there is no law;" (v. 23 ;) as the Apostle more largely declares in those memorable words of his former Epistle to Timothy: “We know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully ; knowing this,” (if, while he uses the law of God, in order either to convince or direct, he know and remember this,) oti goxas vou os ou xeitad; (not that the law is not made for a righteous man; but) “ that the law does not lie against a righteous man;" it has no force against him, no power to condemn him; “but against the lawless and disobedient, against the ungodly and sinners, against the unholy and profane; according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God." (1 Tim. i. 8, 9, 11.)
5. They are not condemned, Thirdly, for inward sin, even though it does now remain. That the corruption of nature does still remain, even in those who are the children of God by faith ; that they have in them the seeds of pride and vanity, of anger, lust, and evil desire, yea, sin of every kind; is too plain to be denied, being matter of daily experience. And on this account it is, that St. Paul, speaking to those whom he had just before witnessed to be “in Christ Jesus,” (1 Cor. i. 2, 9,) to have been “ called of God into the fellowship (or participation) of his Son Jesus Christ ;" yet declares, “ Brethren, I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ :” (1 Cor. iii. 1 :) “Babes in Christ;" so we see they were “ in Christ;" they were believers in a low degree. And yet how much of sin remained in them! of that “carnal mind, which is not subject to the law of God!"
6. And yet, for all this, they are not condemned. Although they feel the flesh, the evil nature in them; although they are more sensible, day by day, that their “ heart is deceitful and desperately wicked;" yet, so long as they do not yield thereto ; so long as they give no place to the devil; so long as they maintain a continual war with all sin, with pride, anger, desire, so that the flesh hath not dominion over them, but they still “walk after the Spirit;" there is “no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” God is well-pleased with their sincere, though imperfect, obedience; and they “have contidence toward God,” knowing they are his, “ by the Spirit which he hath given " them. (1 John iii. 24.)
7. Nay, Fourthly, although they are continually convinced of sin cleaving to all they do ; although they are conscious of not fulfilling the perfect law, either in their thoughts, or words, or works ; although they know they do not love the Lord their God with all their heart, and mind, and soul, and strength ; although they feel more or less of pride, or self-will, stealing in and mixing with their best duties; although even in their more immediate intercourse with God, when they assemble themselves with the great congregation, and, when they pour out their souls in secret to Him who seeth all the thoughts and intents of the heart, they are continually ashamed of their wandering thoughts, or of the deadness and dulness of their affections; yet there is no condemnation to them still, either from God or from their own heart. The consideration of these manifold defects only gives them a deeper sense, that they have always need of that blood of sprinkling which speaks for them in the ears of God, and that Advocate with the Father “ who ever liveth to make intercession for them.” So far are these from driving them away from Him in whom they have believed, that they rather drive them the closer to Him whom they feel the want of
every moment. And, at the same time, the deeper sense they have of this want, the more earnest desire do they feel, and the more diligent they are, as they “ have received the Lord Jesus, so to walk in him.”
8. They are not condemned, Fifthly, for sins of infirmity, as they are usually called. Perhaps it were advisable rather to call them infirmities, that we may not seem to give any countenance to sin, or to extenuate it in any degree, by thus coupling it with infirmity. But, (if we must retain so ambiguous and dangerous an expression,) by sins of infirmity I would mean, such involuntary failings as the saying a thing we believe true, though, in fact, it prove to be false; or, the hurting our neighbour without knowing or designing it, perhaps when we designed to do him good. Though these are deviations from the holy, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, yet they are not properly sins, nor do they bring any guilt on the conscience of “them which are in Christ Jesus.” They separate not between God and them, neither intercept the light of his countenance; as being no ways inconsistent with their general character of “ walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”