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we should rejoice in the devices and the doings of saintliness here. Neither can we cherish the belief that we shall live with Christ, unless the kind of life that is held through eternity along with Him, be dear and congenial to our bosoms—so that grant the faith through which we obtain an interest in His righteousness to reside and operate within us, there are securities in the very constitution of the inner man, that we shall aspire after and at last attain unto holiness.
Yet however suited the mechanism of our hearts is, to this purifying operation of faith—it will not move, neither will it persevere in the movement, without a continued impulse from above; and, to secure this, there has been raised, if I may use the expression, a mechanism in heaven—by the working of which, a stream of living water is made to descend
the moral nature of man, so as to attune all its emotions and desires to those of the spiritual nature of the upper paradise. In other words, there is a true sanctuary there, whereof Christ Himself is the minister, and it is His office, not merely to carry up the prayers of His people to Him who sitteth upon the throne, mixed with the acceptable odour of His own merits--but also to send down from the Holiest of Holies upon our world, that regenerating influence by which man is awakened to a new moral existence, and upheld in all the affections and in all the exercises of godliness. He is the prevailing Advocate, through whom our ascending supplications rise with acceptance to God. But He, the Lord from heaven, is also the quickening Spirit, through whom the light
and the heat of the sanctuary are made to descend
It is thus that faith is deposited at the first; and it is thus that faith is upheld ever afterwards, in power to work within us all the feelings and all the fruits of righteousness. The Holy Ghost, that blessing so precious and so pre-eminent, as to be styled the promise of the Father-it was by His power and agency express, that Christ was revived, and His resurrection from the grave was accomplished; and, as if to fulfil and illustrate the saying of our Saviour that because I live ye shall live also, this very power has been committed to His mediatorial hand; and it is just by its working that He quickens us, who by nature are dead in trespasses and sins, into a spiritual resurrection. Thus are we made spiritually alive unto God, and walk in newness of life before Him. And if it be asked, how shall this virtue be brought to bear upon us, we answer that the prayer of faith will bring it down at any time—that with it the door of heaven's sanctuary is opened; and the required blessing passes with sure conveyance into that believer's heart, the door of which is open to receive it: And, such is the established accordancy between the doings of the upper sanctuary and the doings of the church upon earth, that every member thereof, who lives in the favour of God because of the righteousness of Christ imputed unto him, will live also in the love and likeness of God because of the holiness of the Spirit infused into him.
The only practical inference I shall at present insist upon, is founded on the connection that we have so abundantly adverted to, between the faith of a sinner and his sanctification. The next verse will give us room for enlarging upon this all-important topic. But meanwhile be assured, that you may, with as much safety, confide the cause of your holiness upon earth to the exercise of believing, as you confide the cause of your happiness in heaven to this exercise. The primary sense of believing that we shall live with Christ, is, that, through His righteousness, we shall be admitted to that place of glory which He now occupies—there to spend with Him a blissful eternity; and according to this be lief, if real, so shall it be done unto us. But in like manner also, let us just believe that we shall live with Him here, by entering even now upon the fellowship of those virtues which adorn His character, and of that Spirit which actuated the whole of His conduct; and according to this belief, if real, 80 shall it be done unto us. It is indeed to the eye of nature a most unlikely transformation, that creatures so prone as we are to sense and to ungodliness; and beset with the infirmities of our earthly tabernacle, and weighed down under that load of corruption wherewith these vile bodies are ever encumbering us, that we should break forth, even here into an atmosphere of sacredness, and inhale that spiritual life by which we become assimilated to the saints and the angels that now surround the throne of God. But the more unlikely this is to the eye of nature, so much the more glorious will be the victory of our faith, that it triumphs over the strength of an improbability so grievous. And if, like Abraham of old, we against hope believe in hope; and stagger not at the promise because of
unbelief, but are strong in faith giving glory to God—then, barren as we constitutionally are of all that is spiritually excellent, still, such is the influence of our faith over our sanctification, that, if there be truth in the promises of God, we shall be made to abound in the fruits of righteousness.
The best practical receipt I can give you, my brethren, for becoming holy is to be steadfast in the faith. Believe that Christ's righteousness is your righteousness; and His graces will become your graces. Believe that you are a pardoned creature; and this will issue in your becoming a purified creature. Take hold of the offered gift of Heaven; and you will not only enter, after death, on the future reversion of heaven's triumphs and heaven's joys-but before death, nay even now, will you enter upon the participation of heaven's feelings, and the practice of heaven's moralities.
Go in prayer with the plea of Christ's atonement and His merits; and state, in connection with this plea, that what
you want, is that you be adorned with Christ's likeness, and that you be assisted in putting on the virtues which signalised Him. And
And you will find the plea to be omnipotent; and the continued habit of such prayer, applied to all the exigencies of your condition, will enable you to substantiate the example of your Saviour, throughout all the varieties of providence and of history. In a word, faith is the instrument of sanctification.
And when you have learned the use of this instrument, you have learned the way to become holy upon earth now, as well as the way to become eternally happy in heaven hereafter. The believing prayer that God will aid you in this difficulty; and counsel you in this perplexity; and enable you to overcome in this trial of charity and patience; and keep up in your heart the principle of godliness, amid the urgency of all those seducing influences by which you are surrounded—this you will find, my brethren, to be the sure stepping-stone, to a right acquittal of yourself, in all the given circumstances of your condition in the world. And let the repeated experience of your constant failures, when you had nothing but the power and the energies of nature to trust to, shut you up unto the faith.