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more directed to it; and that we looked more to our faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him, and keep His commandments, ** in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began,45 and will perform of the riches of His grace to the humble believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. If our faith and hope be in Christ, we need not doubt of the gift of God being bestowed upon us; not for our merits, but for His mercies' sake. It is in order that we may be led to seek earnestly for this unspeakable blessedness to be vouchsafed to us, that the dreadful wages of sin are stated in the text. The path to eternal death is marked out plainly, that we may avoid it. The way to everlasting life is described, that we may walk in it, and find rest to our souls, peace here, and glory hereafter. Eternal death is the desert, the merit of sin. Eternal life is the free, unmerited gift of God; a free gift of free grace through Jesus Christ our Lord. The desert of man as a sinner, a transgressor of the holy, just, and good law of God, is eternal death. But God, our heavenly Father, of His infinite mercy and compassion to our fallen race, was pleased to provide a ransom, on account of which all who put their trust in it are delivered from the wrath to come, and made partakers of eternal life and salvation in His The Holy
44 Deuteronomy vii. 9.
45 Titus i. 2.
everlasting glory. And this gift He bestows freely, through His beloved Son, upon the humble suppliants at His footstool. Let us earnestly and diligently seek for the blessing, and it will not be denied to us.
And as an assurance of our obtaining it, He will give us an earnest or pledge, whereby we may be satisfied in our minds that we shall be put in possession of the heavenly inheritance hereafter. The apostle speaks of believers in Christ as being sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance , 46 and again he says, God hath sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.47 Spirit is the Author of spiritual life in the soul, that life which consists in communion of spirit with the Father of spirits, and is an anticipation and foretaste of eternal life, and may be said to be its commencement here upon earth; for all who are made partakers of spiritual life in this world, and no others, shall partake of eternal life. If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His; but, As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. The Spirit Himself beareth witness with their spirits that they are the children of God; and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; who shall be glorified together with Him, in His everlasting kingdom. Let it be our prayer that we may enjoy this life of God in our souls, that our fellowship may be with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ,49 by the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit; that we may live in the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit; and living the life which we now live in the flesh by the faith of the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself forso us, and walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless,' may look forward in hope to that eternal life which is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord; having in view those things unseen and eternal, which will be fully realised when faith shall be turned into sight, and hope into enjoyment; and the song of salvation to God and the Lamb will resound for ever and ever. That we may be numbered
46 Eph. i. 13, 14. 47 2 Cor. i. 22.
48 Rom. viii. 9, 14, 16, 17.
those who shall partake of the blessedness of the redeemed around the throne of glory, may God of His infinite mercy grant, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour: To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, Three Persons and One God, be ascribed all honour, glory, majesty, and dominion, for ever and ever.
49 1 John i. 3.
50 Gal. v. 25; ii. 20.
51 Luke i. 6.
EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
THE WITNESS OF THE SPIRIT.
Romans viii. 16, 17.
THE SPIRIT ITSELF BEARETH WITNESS WITH
OUR SPIRIT, THAT WE ARE THE CHILDREN OF GOD: AND IF CHILDREN, THEN HEIRS; HEIRS OF GOD, AND JOINT HEIRS WITH CHRIST; IF SO BE THAT WE SUFFER WITH HIM, THAT WE MAY BE ALSO GLORIFIED TOGETHER.
The great distinction which subsists between the children of this world and the children of God is, that the former are entirely directed and governed by animal and earthly considerations to fulfil the natural desires of the flesh and of the mind; while the latter are influenced by the Spirit of God to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.51 As believers in the Lord
Jesus Christ have the same desires and inclinations by nature as others, the apostle thought it needful to point out, in the portion of scripture selected as the Epistle for this day, the duty of the Christian to deny himself, or to mortify the members which are upon the earth;52 and the means whereby he is enabled to carry this into effect; and also to specify the high privileges of which he is made a partaker through Divine grace.
He begins with observing, Brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh; for if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die. We are debtors to the long-suffering goodness and mercy of God. How great is the debt of love and gratitude which we owe to Him in whom we live and move and have our being; who giveth to all life and breath and all things; who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. Let us consider our obligations to Him, that we may be led to praise and magnify His name, and to live in obedience to His righteous commands, as it is our bounden duty to do, and our reasonable service requires. We are naturally disposed to live after the flesh, because that which is born of the flesh is flesh,53 and therefore is conformed to its own natural condition. They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh.54 This is the state of all mankind by nature. The universal inquiry is, What
51 Matt. vi. 33,31. 52 Col. iii.5. 53 John iii. 6. 54 Rom. viii. 5,7,6.