"For other foundation can no man lay than that laid, which is Jesus Christ."—1 Cor. 3:11.
The divisions of Christianity originated at Corinth. It was here that professed believers began to classify and arrange themselves under human leaders, and to assume human distinctions in religion. One said, "I am of Paul;" another, "I am of Apollos; I am of Cephas," &c. The apostle, in this epistle, especially in the first three chapters, strongly discountenances this course of procedure; shows its carnality; reminds them that all these are the servants of the same Lord, preach the same gospel, are not divided, much less opposed to each other; that there is but one true and saving foundation: "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." Let us consider,
I. Christ as a foundation.
The term is architectural, and refers to that which is the lowest part of a building, and on which the whole structure rests. It is often employed, however, to denote the beginning of any thing, and sometimes the essential principle of any system. In our text it may be considered applicable to each or the whole of these significations. The church is a spiritual edifice, and Jesus is the foundation stone, as well as the head of the corner. Redemption is a dispensation of grace and mercy to man; of that dispensation Jesus Christ is the beginning. Christianity is a system of truth: of that system Christ is both the centre and the essential principle.
1. Christ is the foundation of the gospel.
The gospel is emphatically the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is its founder, source subject, and glory. All the doctrines of the gospel, all its privileges, all its bless ings, are from him, and from him only All its ordinances bear his name, and all its light and glory emanate from him.
2. Christ is the foundation of a sinner's acceptance with God.
He is the only way of access to God He is the one Mediator—the true propitiatory, or mercy-seat. We are justified by faith in him, and are accepted in the Beloved. "We have redemption in his blood even the forgiveness of sin."
3. Christ is the foundation of a believer's hope.
The Christian is begotten to a lively hope; but it is by the resurrection of Christ from the dead; 1 Peter 1:3. Christ is in him, the hope of glory; Col 1:27. The believer's hopes relate to full and complete salvation—victory in death—an entrance into the kingdom of glory—resurrection from the dead, in the likeness of Christ—and eternal bliss in the presence of God forever. But all these grand and sublime hopes rest on the Saviour. We conquer through him; die happy only in him; are admitted into paradise by him; shall be raised by his power, and have eternal life flowing from him.
4. Christ is the foundation of the whole church.
Peter confessed his glorious and divine character—affirmed that he was the Son of the living God. "And on this rock, (this true and stable confession,) will I build my church, and the gates of hell shall never prevail against it." "He is Head over all things to his church;" "Alpha and Omega;" and "all and in all;" Isaiah 28:16.
II. The distinguishing characteristics of this foundation.
It is distinguished,
1. For its strength.
And this is of the utmost importance in a foundation. Were it frail and yielding, the safety of the building would be endangered. "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Psa. 11:3. But this foundation is Omnipotence itself. "The Lord is a rock; and his way is perfect." He possesses all power both in heaven and on earth. He is both "the wisdom and power of God." It is distinguished,
2. For its suitability.
It is so to Deity—every way worthy of him, in which all his perfections are most gloriously displayed. Worthy of his wisdom, truth, holiness, justice, &c.
"Here the whole Deity is known,
Nor dares the creature guess
Which of the glories brightest shone,
The justice or the grace"
It is also suitable to the sinner—exactly adapted to his state and circumstances. Here is mercy brought down to a level with his condition. Here is all his need, and all within his grasp—
"A balsam for his every wound;
All, all he wants is here."
It is also distinguished,
3. For its perpetuity.
It is not affected by the changes of the lines, or by the revolutions of the kingdoms of this world. It is through perpetual ages invariably the same. It is the only foundation which the righteous have ever had to build upon. It is the only one on which all the saved to the end of the world must rest. Patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, confessors, &c., have all built on this foundation. And there is inscribed upon it, "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever."
III. The folly and impiety of attempting to lay any other foundation than that is laid.
The text supposes that men would attempt this, and affirms the impossibility of effecting it. And the history of the church amply bears out this supposition. How many false foundations have been laid, and embellished, to attract and draw men from the only Saviour of sinners! What mixtures of hay, straw, and stubble!
In what way do men attempt to lay another foundations?
1. By trusting alone to the dictates of unsanctified reason.
What havoc have these luminaries of nature made among the spiritual doctrines of the cross!—un-deified the Saviour; extinguished the Holy Spirit; frittered away the atonement; made Satan and Satanic agency a visionary illusion; placed a col repentance, and a lifeless faith, and a spiritless morality, as the basis of salvation. We find it impossible to exclude such from being of those who lay another foundation This is done,
2. By relying on our own righteousness for acceptance with God.
This may be done in a thousand ways and forms. By trusting to our honesty, or to the absence of notorious and flagrant crimes, acts of generosity, of devotion, of self-denial, of correctness of creed, of public profession. All these things are well in their own place, but absolutely worthless as our soul's foundation; "for by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified." Rom. 3:20-28; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit 3:5. This is done,
3. When we rest solely on God's mercy to the exclusion of the Saviour's merits.
It is a glorious truth that God is merciful; but it is in the provision, by and through Jesus, that this mercy is most strikingly manifested; therefore the rejecter of Jesus despises the brightest display of this divine perfection. Besides, Jehovah is just, and holy, and true; and he has asserted that the unbeliever shall inevitably perish. John 3:18; 1 John 5:10.
The folly and criminality of attempting to lay any other foundation will appeal when we reflect on,
1. The sufficiency of the one laid.
He is able to save all; and all to the uttermost. He is the Saviour of all men, especially of them who believe. He wills the salvation of the chief of sinners. Ho never rejected any humble suppliant. All who have come to him have been received, and in nowise did he ever cast them out. How foolish and wicked to reject this foundation!
2. It is to reflect on Jehovah's wisdom and goodness, and on Christ's sufficiency to save.
This foundation is identified with the depths of infinite skill; with the boundlessness of divine love; with the unspeakable preciousness of Christ's blood. To attempt to lay another is to set at naught these perfections of Deity, and to trample under foot the blood of Jesus. It is the exaltation of self-device and self-sufficiency above God and his Son Jesus Christ.
3. It is to involve the soul in remediless wo, by the rejection of the only Saviour.
He who rejects the light of life must dwell in darkness. He who rejects the one Saviour perishes necessarily and virtually by his obstinacy and crime. There is no other Saviour—no other refuge—no other remedy. He is the life of the world; to reject him is to be guilty of our own soul's blood, and to go down to the pit by the stroke of our own suicidal hand.
1. The invaluableness of the gospel foundation. Sinner, come to it; build upon it. Believer, rest with assured confidence upon it. It can never fail; all is secure here.
2. Necessity of a personal acquaintance with it. Religion is a matter of experience as well as theory. The heart must be right as well as the head. The foundation must be beneath us. Let us,
3. Guard against any thing having Christ's place. Our motto must be Jesus always,—Jesus only—Jesus forever.
"We are journeying to the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you. Come thou with us, and we will do thee good; for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel."—Numb. 10:29.
The religion of the Bible is a perfect transcript of the Divine Mind; being holy, just, and good. It is holy in its nature, just in its practice, and good in its influence. There will be the spirit of purity, the practice of righteousness, and the diffusion of goodness. To do good is the truest pleasure and the highest dignity of which the human mind is capable. The sphere of goodness is exceedingly extensive. There are multitudes of objects on whom it may be usefully and satisfactorily expended. The poor, the fatherless, widows orphans, the sick, &c. are all fit objects of Christian compassion. While these ought not to be forgotten, there are others whose poverty and wretchedness is of a mental and moral description, whose claims are of the first importance. To feed the hungry mind—to instruct the spiritually dark—to win souls to God—is the highest wisdom and the truest goodness. The text exhibits to our view one way in which we ought to attempt to effect this great object; by kindly inviting those around us to accompany us to the heavenly Zion. Notice,
I. God's people are travelling to the celestial Canaan
"We are journeying to the place," &c., Two things deserve notice: The Journey And, The Place to which they are Journeying.
1. The journey.
(1) The journey commences in the day of conversion. It is then that the course of sin and misery is abandoned; that the back is turned upon the City of Destruction; that the mind is changed, old things passing away, and all things becoming new; the whole state completely reversed.
(2) This journey is continued by the soul advancing in the knowledge and love of God;—by the mortifying of the flesh, and the continual crucifixion of the old man with his deeds; by diligence in the spiritual calling; by following the footsteps of the Great Exemplar, and growing daily in the spirit and mind of Christ. This journey can only be continued by self-denial, labor, and perseverance in the things of God.
(3) This journey terminates at death. This is the end of the race—the close of the day—the conclusion of the warfare. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life;" Rev. 2:10. It is at death that those who are in the Lord rest from their labors. Notice,
2. The place to which they are journeying.
This is the celestial Canaan; which is,
(1) A land of rest. So was Canaan of old to the Israelites. In the wilderness they had toils, and fatigue, and drought, and enemies; but in Canaan they possessed the promised rest. In this life the believer has a rest; for "we who believe do enter into rest." This is a rest from the drudgery of sin, from the slavery of the devil from distressing fears and apprehensions of divine wrath. But the present rest is not perfect; it is often interrupted and disturbed; but there remaineth a rest full, free, complete, and eternal, for the people of God. To this final rest they are tending, and in Canaan this glorious rest shall be enjoyed. It is
(2) A land of riches and prosperity. "For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of waters, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and pomegranates; a land of oil, olives, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness," &c. Deut. 8:7; 6:10. This is but a faint emblem of the heavenly Canaan. There is the tree of life ever bearing its immortal fruit. There is the river of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and the Lamb. There is the unbeclouded sky—the never-setting sun; fulness of joys, and pleasures for evermore. Rev. 21:10, &c.; 22:1-7.
(3) A land prepared for and promised to God's spiritual Israel. The former Canaan was prepared for and bestowed upon the believing posterity of Abraham. So all who possess the faith of Abraham, and are thus his spiritual seed, shall inherit the Canaan above Heaven is prepared for such, promised to such, and such shall inherit it forever. "Fear not, little flock," &c. Luke 12:32; 1 Peter 1:2, 3; James 1:12; Rev. 21:27.
II. God's People feel it their duty to invite others to journey with them to the Promised Land.
Hence they say, "Come thou with us," &c. This implies,
1. That there are many who are not in the way to this goodly land.
This is obvious both from Scripture and observation. "World lieth in wickedness." "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way," &c. Many nations; many of our own country; many in our own neighborhoods; many of our relatives and friends. It implies,
2. That there is room and freedom for more in the way to heaven.
It is said the way is narrow, but that refers only to character, too narrow to admit the least indulged sin; but in point of room, wide enough for the whole world Yes, after all who have set out for Zion there is yet room for more. The Spirit and bride say, Come; and all that will may come, and take of the water of life freely. And the Saviour says, "He that cometh unto me I will in nowise cast out." See also Isai. 1:18; 55:1; Ezek. 33:11; Rom. 10:13. It implies,
3. That God's people are anxious that others should join them in their way to heaven.
In trade men are often envious, and try to monopolize; not so in grace. The believer does not wish to go to heaven alone he knows that in breaking the bread of life to others, it is multiplied in his hands; and the more he gives, the more is left for him self. In watering he is watered; in bless ing he is blessed; and,
"The more comes in with free good will,
Makes the banquet sweeter still."
He has learned the valuableness of souls, the greatness of the gospel salvation, and therefore he desires that these souls should enjoy this salvation, and be delivered from the wrath to come.
4. God's people use their influence to prevail with those around them to accompany them to heaven.
They invite them, saying, Come with us! They practically invite them, by amiableness of disposition, sweetness of temper righteousness of life; and thus allure them by the excellencies they manifest, and constrain them to glorify our Father who is in heaven.
III. That God's People have good reasons to assign why those around should go with them to the goodly Land.
The reasons in the text are two: "We will do you good;" and, "The Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel." The first is a human reason and therefore limited The second is a divine reason, and unlimited.
1. There is the promise of benevolent help.
"We will do you good." Every human being may do much good or much evil The Christian may do the sinner much good by his instructions—showing to him the way of God more perfectly; by his kindly encouragements; by his attractive example, and by his spiritual influence He may take him by the hand, and pray that God may grant him the blessings of his efficient help and grace.
What good Jacob did to Laban—Abraham to Abimelech—Moses to the Israelites, &c.
2. There is the good declaration of God concerning Israel.
"The Lord hath spoken good." What has he not said? Has he not given the most precious promises and the most gracious assurances? Is he not the sun and shield of his people? He has promised to give grace and glory, and to withhold no good thing. He has said he will guide, support, protect, and keep to eternal life: that he will bestow peace and joy, and finally confer upon his saints "a crown of glory that fadeth not away." And what he hath spoken shall assuredly come to pass, not one word shall fail of all the good the Lord hath spoken.
1. The present state of God's people. It is a journeying state. They are now pilgrims and strangers on the earth: this Is the time of their toil and suffering.
2. The happiness of God's people. Children of God, heirs of eternal life, expectants of the glory that shall be revealed.
3. The true wisdom of those who are without. To accompany God's people on their heavenly pilgrimage. Those who walk with wise men shall be wise—and with believers shall be saved. Sinners, delaying to join Zion's travellers; reply to their benevolent invitations by saying, "We will go with you, for we perceive that God is with you."
"Arise, O God, plead thine own cause."—Psa. 74:22.
Prayer is the atmosphere the Christian breathes; no more can he do without it, and retain his spiritual life, than the body can exist without the common air. He has many, very many, inducements to this holy exercise. He has many wants to be supplied, many enemies to overcome, many duties to perform; and strength for these is only obtained by offering believing prayer to God, who is the only source of our help, and the Father of all our mercies.
The Christian, therefore, feels the importance of prayer, and prays for himself; but he likewise prays for others. He necessarily feels interested in the happiness and salvation of his kindred and friends: he will feel concerned that these should partake of one love of God in Christ, and be joint-heirs with himself of the grace of life. He not only prays for himself and his friends according to the flesh, but he likewise feels deeply concerned in the affairs of Zion, and for her welfare and prosperity he presents his supplication to God. Sooner would he that his right hand should forget its cunning, than he should forget Jerusalem, or that she should ever cease to be his chief joy. The breathings of his soul are, "Build up the walls of Jerusalem." "Save now, I beseech thee send now prosperity!" "Arise, O God plead thine own cause."
Let us consider, I. The Cause specified—"Thine own cause." And, II. The Prayer presented—"Arise, O God, plead thine own cause."
I. The Cause specified.
The cause specified is the cause of God's holy church; the cause identified with the interests of redeeming love; the cause which is significantly set forth in the New Testament under the appellations—kingdom of God, kingdom of heaven, kingdom of righteousness. It is that spiritual dispensation, of which Jesus is the head, of which believers are the subjects, and which is destined to overthrow the works of darkness in the earth, and to fill the whole world with the knowledge and glory of God. This cause is distinguished,
1. For its divinity; it is God's own cause.
The result of his infinite skill, the production of his almighty power, and the effect of his unsearchable grace. It is the cause of his eternal counsels and purposes it is the cause of his right arm; it is the cause of his unbounded mercy and love. Viewed as a kingdom, he is its legitimate sovereign; as a nation, he is its only ruler; as a family, he is its father and head.
2. It is a cause of righteousness Its founder is the righteous Jehovah. I originated in righteousness. It was effected by the righteousness of Messiah, and by his bearing in himself the just demerit of unrighteousness, that, by suffering the just for the unjust, he might bring us to God. Its principles and doctrines are all righteous; and it impresses the righteous image of God on the heart of man, and makes the life holy and unblameable in his sight.
3. It is a benevolent cause.
Its designs are truly philanthropic. It presents a true and full remedy for all the ills of humanity; it elevates the soul from the deepest debasement to celestial dignity; it delivers the mind from the thraldom and slavery of vice, into the liberty of the children of God; it takes away from the lip the cup of divine displeasure, and presents the cup of blessing, of happiness, and of salvation; it promotes the real benefit of man, both in this world and in that which is to come; it is not only a blessing to mankind, but it makes man a blessing to his fellow; it is, in short, the light, the life, and the happiness of the world; it breathes out. "glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, and good will toward men."
4. It is distinguished for its unity.
It is emphatically one. It has been presented to the world in various dispensations: there have been the patriarchal, the Mosaic, the prophetical, and the gospel; but all have been based on one central foundation, the whole of these dispensations have formed but one day.
It has been distinguished by divers names, and has been presented to our view under various forms; but still there is only one Lord, one faith, one church, one baptism. Christ has but one flock, and one fold, one spiritual kingdom, one army; and all his people are journeying one way to the only true rest "which remaineth for the people of God."
Having noticed the cause specified, we proceed to consider,
II. The Prayer presented.
1. This prayer implies that God's cause is opposed.
And facts fully bear out this truth. It Has been opposed in every age of the world; Cain opposed it in the days of Abel; the antediluvians opposed it in the days of Noah; the wicked inhabitants of the cities opposed it in the days of Lot; the idolatrous nations opposed it in the days of the prophets; the Jews opposed it in the days of Christ; the philosophizing Greeks and barbarous pagans opposed it in the days of the apostles. Mohammedans, infidels, and false-hearted friends, and the men of this world, have opposed and do oppose it, even until now. It is opposed, too, by the "prince of the power of the air," and by those numerous legions of spirits of crime
"Who throng the air, and darken heaven,
And crowd this lower world."
2. This prayer implies that this cause depends upon God, and not upon man, for success. "Arise, O God," &c.
A moment's reflection upon its enemies is sufficient to establish this sentiment. All merely human resources must of necessity fail: human knowledge, learning, riches, eloquence, and genius would be alike unavailing: it requires almighty power to shield it; an all-wise Deity to direct it; an omniscient eye to watch it; and an ever-flowing fountain to supply its wants. "It is not by might or power, but by my Spirit," saith the Lord of hosts.
3. It implies that, notwithstanding its dependence upon God, he expects his people would intercede in its behalf.
He expects this from his people on account of their great obligations to it, on account of their professed attachment to it, and on account of the inseparable connection between Zion's prosperity and their own happiness; and the people of God have ever displayed their love to God's cause by offering up prayers in its behalf. What striking examples are before us in Moses, Abraham, David, Jeremiah, and in the blessed Redeemer and his apostles! And God has laid this upon the hearts of his people, and has enforced it by royal authority, and sanctioned it by divine promise—"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, for they that love her shall prosper."
And in what way does God regard the prayers of his servants on behalf of his cause? How does he answer their requests?
(1) Sometimes he does this by striking interpositions of his providence. See how he interposed on behalf of Israel of old, in Egypt—at the Red Sea—in then conflicts with the nations. See how he did this in the days of Haman, of Nehemiah, of Daniel; how he did this in the case of Peter when delivered from prison and death; how he did this in the days of the reformation; how often, when floods have surrounded her, and storms beat upon her, and threatened her entire destruction, he has arisen, and said to the unruly elements, "Be still!"—and immediately there has been a great calm.
(2) He answers this prayer by raising up useful instruments for his work. In this way he raised up Moses, and brought him from tending his flocks, to be the deliverer of Israel. In this way he raised up Joshua, Gideon, Jephtha, David, and Cyrus. For this was Jeremiah sanctified in the womb, and for this was Paul elected to be an apostle, that he might make known among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
(3) He pleads his own cause by pouring out his Spirit upon the means his servants employ. It was in this way that the first preachers of the cross were qualified for going forth to proclaim with success the gospel of the grace of God. And it was this that caused the planting of Paul and the watering of Apollos to succeed—for he that planteth is nothing, nor he that watereth, but God who giveth the increase. The weapons of our warfare are only effectual through God, to the pulling down of strong holds. The gospel is the power of God, not the power of eloquence or human influence, to every one that believeth. It is his heavenly rain that mollifies the earth, and prepares it for vegetating, and bringing forth fruit, thirty, sixty, and an hundred fold.
There are three classes of characters, and each are differently affected in respect of God's own cause. We address a word to each.
1. Some hate it. If possible they would annihilate it; all their powers are directed against it; they libel it, they sneer at it, they profess to disbelieve it. How wicked and reckless is such a state! What folly to persist in such a course? Who hath hardened himself against Jehovah and prospered? Can they hope to succeed? As goon might they quench the orb of day, or drive back the chariot wheels of the queen of night! To such we say: Awake, awake to your true state, and immediately escape with all earnestness to that mercy which, in spite of all your infidelity and blasphemy, has provided salvation for you 2. Some care nothing about it They care how they shall eat, and drink, and be clothed; they care for their health, and character, and business, and families; but they are careless about God's holy and blessed cause. How thoughtless! how ungrateful! how infatuated! To undervalue the precious blood of Christ! to despise the richest boon of heaven! to trifle with all that is sacred in time, and solemn in eternity! To such we say: "Consider your ways, and be wise." "To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts."
3. Some love the cause of God, and they manifest it in various ways. They are found in its ordinances; they rally round its standard; they speak of it and for it; they give it all their influence; and their joys or sorrows abound as it is in circumstances of prosperity or adversity. To such we give words of consolation. God will not forget their work of faith, their patience of hope, and their labor of love. On such we press our text and would exhort them, on every time of trouble or calamity, to employ the prayer of the text: "Arise O God. and plead thine own cause."
To the King immortal and invisible, the only-wise God, whose throne is everlasting, and whose kingdom ruleth over all, be glory in the church, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
"Dost thou believe on the Son of God?"—John 9:35.
Introduction.—Miraculous cure of the man born blind—Malice and envy of the chief priests and rulers—The fear and duplicity of the parents—The honesty of the man himself—His expulsion from the synagogue—Being found of Christ, and the important question proposed: "Dost thou believe on the Son of God?"
Let us consider,
I. The Question urged.
1. The question refers to Christ as the Son of God.
The appellation, Son of God, is applied in Scripture both to angels and to men Angels are so called; Job 38:7. Believers are frequently represented as such: "To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." John 1:12; Rom. 8:14; 1 John 3:2.
Angels are the sons of God by creation; believers so by adoption and regeneration; but Christ is the Son of God in a sense only applicable to himself. He is the Son of God, "the only-begotten of the Father," &c. He possesses the nature of God—equality with God; has the names of God—the perfections of God; and to him creation, providence, and redemption are ascribed, as well as to the Father. While he is "the child born, and the son given," he is the "mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of peace." Col. 1:15; Isai. 6:5; Rom. 1:4; John 1:18; Matt. 10:16.
2. This question refers to faith in the Son of God.
"Dost thou believe," &c. Faith in Christ is that act of the mind by which we apprehend Christ as he is revealed to us in the word of truth. It is the act of the heart or affections, by which we heart-!ly welcome him into our souls; and it is the act of the will, by which we cordially submit to him, and render cheerful obedience to his laws. Scripture abounds in metaphorical representations of this grace. It is beholding him, or looking to him; it is fleeing to him—walking in him—laying hold of him—receiving him—resting on him, &c. Observe,
3. That the question relates to our personal faith in Christ.
"Dost thou believe?" &c. It does not relate to others, but to ourselves. It does not refer to mere information or opinion, but to faith. It does not ask in reference either to past or future, but to the present: "Dost thou believe?" &c. We shall attempt,
II. A Scriptural Solution of it.
If we believe on the Son of God, we shall,
1. Remember the means by which we we brought into this happy state.
Faith is not natural to us: by nature we are unbelievers, far from God, and strangers to his Son. An important change has taken place; eyes open to see Christ—ears opened to his word—heart opened to his truth—and the soul brought to rely upon him for eternal salvation. If we believe on the Son of God,
2. We shall experience the influence of his Spirit on our souls.
"If any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." "The Spirit heareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." Rom. 8:9, 16.
Besides, the acts of faith are such that we cannot perform them without being conscious of it. If we look, and hearken, and flee to Christ; if we build on him, live and walk in him, we cannot possibly be ignorant of it. If we believe on Christ,
3. We shall highly esteem and value Christ.
"To them that believe he is precious," yes, he is the fairest among ten thousand, and altogether lovely. His name will be as ointment poured forth: the soul will admire, the heart will love, and the lips magnify and exalt his name; he will be the soul's bread, the soul's riches, the soul's light, the soul's life, and the soul's all and in all. If we believe in him,
4. We shall enjoy peace and comfort of mind.
He is the Prince of peace, the Author of peace; and his gospel is the message of peace; and his gift to all believers is the enjoyment of peace. He is our peace; and all who believe on him are justified; and, being justified, we have peace with God, &c. Anxiety, restlessness, dread, and torment are banished, and all within is comfortable, joyous, peaceable, serene, and calm. If we believe on the Son of God,
5. Our souls will burn with love both to God and man.
Faith works by love. We shall love God our Redeemer with all our hearts, and we shall love our fellow-men, and especially our fellow-saints, with pure hearts fervently. John 3:14, 24; 7:11, 19 &c. If we believe on the Son of God, 6 We shall be subject to his authority.
Deny ourselves—come out of the world—overcome it by faith—take up the cross—follow him—go without the camp, bear ing his reproach—keep his holy words, and do his commandments. "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you."
1. The text may be applied to various characters. To those who dwell in a Christian country: for without faith in the Son of God this will not avail. To general professors: for without this profession is of no use. To those zealous of gospel doctrines: for without personal faith our zeal cannot benefit. The important question is: "Dost thou believe on she Son of God?"
2. Let the Christian cultivate the evidences of his faith. Keep the signs of faith visible and bright before your eyes.
3. Let all grow in faith. Our credence should be more firm; our reliance more entire; our persuasion more confident. The grain of mustard seed must grow up to a great tree: the small cloud must spread over all the heavens: the little leaven leaven the whole lump. Let each soul say: Lord, increase my faith.
4. He that believeth not must perish. Mark 16:16; John 3:18.
5. In the gospel, Christ, in all his benefits, is offered to all. Invite, exhort, &c., all to come unto him and have life.
"We then, as workers together with God, beseech you, also, that ye receive not the grace of God in vain."—2 Cor. 6:1.
This subject presents to us,
I. A striking Description of the Ministers of the Gospel.
"Workers together with God."
Not lords, not hirelings, not idlers—but workers. All the statements and figurative descriptions of Scripture represent them as such. They are watchmen, Ezek. 33:7; fishers, Matt. 4:19; sowers, Psa. 126:6; shepherds, &c., Acts 20:28 Their work is,
(1) Spiritual. They have to do with spirits, employ spiritual instruments and weapons. Design spiritual. 2 Cor. 10:4.
(2) Arduous and difficult. Enemies &c., powerful, numerous, and too often successful. To be diligent, instant in season, &c.
(3) Solemn and responsible. Eternal interests of men at stake. Must give an account to God, &c.
2. Workers with God.
Under his direction—in his service—with the same end and object in view.
3. Workers together with God.
God the Great Cause—they are his instruments. Treasure from God—they are the earthen vessels through which it flows. They sow—God blesses. They proclaim the gospel—God makes it powerful to salvation. They prophesy—God breathes upon the dry bones. Ministers are workers together with God We have,
II. An interesting Representation of the Gospel.
"Grace of God." See, also, Titus 2:11. It is so, as it is,
1. The production of grace.
Whole scheme originated in grace "Herein is love," &c.
2. It is a revelation of grace—Of pardon, peace, and eternal life to rebels; without any merit or worthiness in them.
3. It is graciously bestowed.
Without money or price. Isa. 55:1, Rev. 22:17.
4. It effects a gracious change in the soul.
Darkness to light; sin to holiness, Satan to God. 1 Cor. 6:11. We have,
III. An affectionate Entreaty addressed to the Recipients of the Gospel.
"We then, &c., beseech you, also, that ye receive not the grace of God in vain."
1. When is it received in vain?
When we do not understand it. When we feel no interest in it. When we are not saved by it.
2. What are the principal causes of men receiving it in vain?
Inconsideration; Deut. 32:29; Isai. 1:3. Love of the world; Matt. 13:22. Unbelief; Heb. 4:2.
3. What will be the result of receiving the grace of God in vain?
Ignorance of mind; disquietude of soul, hardness of heart; eternal death.
4. How necessary, then, that we beseech men that they do not receive it in vain!
By the preciousness of their souls—blessedness of religion—peace in dissolution—and everlasting glory, we are to be seech. &c.
We must beseech plainly, earnestly, affectionately, constantly with many tears with much prayer, &c.
Learn, 1. The invaluableness of the gospel. 2. The responsibility of the ministerial office. 3. The importance of a practical use of our privileges
"If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.—John 13:8.
Introduction.—Assembly convened—occasion—supper—Saviour going to leave them—intended to impress upon them the importance of lowliness of mind, condescension, and humility—taught them by his own example—how striking! Peter's rash refusal—the Redeemer's expostulation, &c.
I. Human Nature is defiled.
This is an important gospel doctrine. This defilement is,
1. The result of original transgression.
Adam begat a son in his own likeness. Fountain became corrupt; consequently, streams impure. Tree became bad; fruit bad also. Human nature became diseased; this disease hereditary, all the progeny tainted. This is a doctrine,
2. Established by Scripture statements.
Job confessed it; Job 40:4. David, Psa. 55:5, and Jeremiah (17:19) affirmed it. Christ also taught it, Matt. 15:19; so did the apostles, Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:3.
3. Strikingly manifested in the conduct of men around us.
All wandering in their own evil ways, following their own devices, &c.
II. Human Nature may be purified.
God hath not abandoned us to our apostasies, but provided means for our recovery and restoration to his image and favor.
1. The blood of Christ is the remedy.
This is that fountain spoken of by the prophet. Zech. 13:1.
"There is a fountain filled with blood,
Drawn from Immanuel's veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains."
"The blood of Jesus Christ cleansed us from all sin." 1 John 1:7; Eph. 1:7, Heb. 13:12; Rev. 1:5.
2. Word of truth the instrumental means.
Truth makes our defilement evident—manifests the remedy—urges its adoption—presents great and powerful motives to the mind. John 17:17; James 1:18; 1 Peter 1:23; Rom. 10:7.
3. Faith brings the mind in contact with the remedy.
"Purifying their hearts by faith." Acts 15:9; Rom. 9:30; Eph. 2:8.
4. The Spirit's influence makes the whole efficient to salvation.
"And I will put my Spirit within you," &c. Ezek. 36:27. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit," &c. Zech. 4:6; 2 Cor. 3:6; 1 Peter 1:2; John 3:5, 8; Rom. 6:11.
III. Without this Purification, we can have no part with Christ.
1. No part in his favor.
He cannot rejoice in those who abide in impurity; he cannot approve of them, he cannot complacently love or delight in them.
2. No part in his fellowship.
Light hath no fellowship with darkness evil with good; or holiness with sin There must be sameness of mind, and agreeable oneness of spirit, or no fellowship.
3. No part in his saving benefits.
An indifference to holiness, and an unwillingness to be holy, excludes from justification, peace, joy, and all the high privileges of gospel salvation.
4. No part in his public approval at the last day.
"Then shall he say to them on his left hand." Matt. 25:41.
5. No part in the blessedness of heaven.
"Blessed are the pure in heart," &c. "For without are dogs," &c. Rev 22:15.
This subject should lead, 1. To careful examination as to our real character. 2. If unrenewed, earnest solicitude after purification. 3. Immediate application to the only remedy provided.