« PreviousContinue »
Son of man, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world, thus separated from every thing which can annoy from the spirits, which work, in the hearts of the children of disobedience, shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of the Father. They look earnestly and with joyful expectation, for the moment when they shall exchange the image of the earthly for the image of the heavenly, and be forever with the Lord. And of this blissful consummation they are perfectly assured, because they know, that Jesus Christ died for them, and for every man; that whether they wake or sleep, they may live together with him, who will thoroughly purge his floor, gathering his wheat into his garner, and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
1PETER I. 22, 23.
First, Purification of soul, results from obedience to the truth, which is demonstrated by unfeigned love to the brethren, to those for whom the precious blood of Christ was shed, teaching us to measure the same measure to others, that we measure to ourselves. Acts xv.
.9, “Put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.” Romans xii. 3, 4, 5, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
Secondly, Such universal benevolence is an incontrovertible evidence, that we are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God which abideth forever. John i. 13, “ Born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John jj. 3, “ Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Vol. III. 38
1PETER, iv. 18. And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly
and the sinner appear ?
First, Who are the righteous ? Romans iii. 10, “ As it is written, there are none righteous, no, not one." But where is it thus written? From whom did the Apostle Paul obtain his information ? From the Son of Jesse. Psalm xiv. 2, 3, “The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand and seek God. They are all gone aside; they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good; no, not one."
Secondly, As the scriptures advert to righteous characters, we ought to believe that such characters do exist; yet we must embrace this testimony in a mode which may correspond with other testimonies; the word of God must not be held up as contradictory; the truth of God must not be controverted; the volume of inspiration must not make God a liar.
As none can be righteous in the sight of God, but those who keep the whole law, and as daily, if not momently experience, convinces us, that in many things every human being offends, it follows, that Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ only, can be the righteous man of the scriptures; and that, as many as put on the LORD Jesus, are considered as righteous in his righteousness. Jeremiah iii. 6, “In his days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our righteousness." In the thirty-third chapter and sixteenth verse of this prophecy, the text is repeated, only changing the masculine for the feminine, “And this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness." There is a striking consistency, perfect coincidence, perfect truth, perfect beauty, and an exhaustless fund of consolation, in these corresponding passages. 1 Corinthians v. 21, “God hath made the Redeemer to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Thus, it is in Christ Jesus, that all the seed of Israel shall be justified and shall glory.
Thirdly, What are we to understand, by these righteous being scarcely saved? The word scarcely, undoubtedly intends, with much difficulty. But what is the salvation, that these righteous do with so much difficulty obtain ? Not salvation from the curse of the law, nor from the wages of sin, which is death, nor from hell; these several salvations are the free gift of God in Christ Jesus, in whom we are saved with an everlasting salvation, nor shall we be ashamed or confounded, world without end, Isaiah xlv. 17. Yet there is a salvation consequent upon believing, in which these righteous are scarcely saved, because they are scarcely believers. It is in this view, that they are saved no longer than while they are believers; for no longer can they derive peace from a consideration of the righteousness, of the redemption, which they possess in Christ Jesus. There is a temporal, a spiritual, and an eternal salvation. All mankind are indebted to God for many temporal salvations; all mankind are indebted to God for eternal salvation, and all those who believe are indebted to God for spiritual salvation. In the first salvation, God acts as a God of providence; in the second, as a God of salvation; in the third, as a sovereign, showing mercy on whom he will show mercy. We have said, this last salvation is consequent upon believing; hence the Apostle Paul affirms, Corinthians, xv. 1, 2, 3, “ Moreover, brethren, I declared unto you the gospel, which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you, first of all, that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins, according to the scripture." Hence Paul exhorts his son Timothy, in his first Epistle to that preacher, iv. 16, to take heed unto himself, and unto his doctrine ; and to continue therein; for, in thus doing, he should not only save himself, but those who heard him. But it is clear from scripture testimony, that Timothy could neither save himself, nor others from eternal damnation. This was the office of the Redeemer; and we say again, that it is from not distinguishing between the salvation wrought out, and completed by the Redeemer of the world, and the salvation which takes place in our hearts by the operation of the Com
forter, the Holy Spirit; when he takes of the things which appertain to this finished redemption, and shows them to us, it is from the want of thus discriminating, that all the confusion respecting the scripture results. The believer is saved from condemnation, in the language of the translators, damnation, in consequence of believing; but if they, who, by putting on the LORD Jesus, are considered righteous, are scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
Fourthly, Who are we to understand by the ungodly? Undoubtedly the fallen angelic nature. Blessed is the man, that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly. In this ruinous path, Adam the first was a weary traveller: but the second Adam greatly victorious was able to say, It is written, thou shalt worship the LORD thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.
Fifthly, Who are we to understand by sinners ? All who walk in the counsel of the ungodly, in consequence of which they are denominated ungodly men: but as the scriptures speak of the ungodly, and of sinners, it is proper that we also should discriminate : by sinners we presume is intended, those who continue in a state of unbelief, for this seems to be the only sin, which is now a source of condemnation, of that condemnation from which he that believeth is saved. This fact is supported by our Saviour. John iii. 18, “ He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God." 1 Corinthians xi. 32, “ But when we are judged, we are chastened of the LORD, that we should not be condemned with the world.” Again, John iii. 19, 20, 21, " And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”
Sixthly, The apostolic question, Where shall the ungodly and sinner appear? 2 Corinthians v. 10, “ For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.” Romans xiv. 10, “But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at nought thy brother ? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” But although we must all appear before this
seat of judgment, there will at that period be a very essential difference between the believer, and the ungodly, and the sinner. The apostle Paul directs us, 1 Corinthians xi. to judge ourselves, and we shall not be judged. Do ye not know, that the saints shall judge the world ? Know ye not, that we shall judge angels? The volume of inspiration describes three characters in the final judgment. Believers, who having judged themselves, shall not be judged, who, seated with the judge, shall judge angels, the ungodly, which are the fallen angels, and the sinners, which make up the aggregate of the world. But the fate of these angels, and the human family will be very dissimilar. This, the living God, whom Paul declares to be the Saviour of all men in the close of the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew clearly demonstrates, God having taken to himself our nature, and passed by the nature of angels, and who is emphatically styled the friend of sinners, when he shall judge them out of the things written in the books, when their mouths are stopped by conviction of the justice of their condemnation, when all the world stand guilty, GUILTY before him, shall then open the book of life, even the life of the world, at which luminous era, every son and daughter of Adam shall know him from the least of them, unto the greatest, know him, whom to know is life eternal, and thus taught of God, thus knowing him, every creature in heaven, on earth, and in the sea, shall unite in one grand hallelujah, saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power unto him that sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.
REVELATIONS iii. 7.
First, Who is the angel of the church of Philadelphia ? Angel signifies a messenger bringing tidings, whether applied to individuals in heaven, or on earth. Revelations xxii. 9, * Then said he unto me, See thou do it not, for I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren, the prophets, and of them which Keep the sayings of this book : worship God.”