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children of disobedience, and either marks you to be still an utter stranger to the doctrine of Christ ; or, if you be acquainted with that doctrine, marks and most decisively, that it is a doctrine which has come to you in word only and not in power.
Be assured, my brethren, that, in proportion to the strength and the simplicity of your determination for God, will be the clearness of your Christianity, and the comfort attendant on all its hopes and all its promises. It is the man whose eye is single, whose whole body shall be full of light. You complain of darkness, do you? See that there be not a want of perfect oneness and willingness and sincerity, as to the total yielding of yourself unto God. The entanglement of one wrong and worldly affection, may mar your purposes. The influence of one forbidden conformity, may do it.
To the right following of Christ, there must be the forsaking of all. He must be chosen as the alone master; nor will He accept of a partial yielding up of yourselves. It must be an entire and unexcepted yielding. Nor is there any thing so likely as the doublings of a wavering and undecided purpose, to wrap the gospel in obscurity, and throw a darkening shroud over all that truth which ministers peace and joy to the believer's soul.
And I trust that you are now prepared to ineet a difficulty, which is sometimes suggested, when the Christian disciple is urged on to perfection. You are now aware of the utter hopelessness that there is in the attempt to extirpate the presence of sin; but this, so far from discouraging, ought the rather to excite you to the uttermost strenuousness
in the work of making head against its power.
In such a state of matters, there may
at least be
pure and perfect and honest-hearted aim—though there will not be so perfect an accomplishment, as if all the sinful appetites were eradicated, instead of all these appetites being only kept in order. The purpose of the mind may be sound—the full set of the inner man which delights in the law of God, may be towards obedience to that law—And thus there may be a perfect surrendering yourselves up unto the service of God, though not so perfect an execution of the service itself as if you had no vile body of sin and of death to contend against. The charioteer whose horses have a strong sideway direction, may be as thoroughly intent on the object of keeping his vehicle on the road as he whose horses would of themselves and without even the guidance of the reins, keep an unfaltering direction in the right path. And he may also succeed in keeping them on, though they neither move so easily, or smoothly, or quickly. The perfection of aim is the same in both—though the one must put forth a more painful and not so successful an endeavour as the other. And it is just in this way, that I call on you, with the full set of all your purposes and energies, steadfastly to keep and carefully to describe the career of a new obedience. God, who knoweth your constitution, knoweth how to distinguish between a failing in the purpose and a failing in the performance. He calls for singleness and perfectness and godly sincerity in the one. He si aware of your frame, and is touched with the feeling of your infirmities, and knows when He con
See that you
sistently with the rules of His unerring government may pass by the shortcomings of the other. And thus while encouraged to confess and pray over the remembrance of certain sins in the hope that they may be forgiven—we are also taught, that there is a sin which will not be forgiven, there is a sin unto death.
See that in yielding yourselves unto God, it be a perfect surrender that you make. give yourself wholly over to His service. I am not asking at present how much you can do; but
to the service with the feeling that your all is due, and with the honest intention and desire that all shall be done. Let there be no vitiating compromise between sin and duty in the principle of your actions--whatever the degree of soil or of shortness in the actions themselves. Enter upon your new allegiance to God, with a full desire to acquit yourselves of all its obligations; and thus it is, that, without reservation, you may take Him to be your liege Sovereign—and that, without reservation, you may yield yourselves up unto God.
Then follows a very important clause—as those who are alive from the dead.' It cuts up legalism by the roots. To work legally is to work for life -to work evangelically is to work from life. When you set forth on the work of obedience in the one way, you do it to attain a life that you have not. When you set forth on the work of obedience in the other way, you do it in the exercise and from the energies of a life that you already have. Which is the way of the text is perfectly obvious. You
are not here called upon to enter the service of God, as those who have life to win; but to enter the service of God, as those who are already alive—as those who can count upon
and with a sense of God's loving favour in their hearts and a prospect of glory eternal in their eye, put themselves under the authority of that gracious Parent, who guides and cheers and smiles upon them along the path of preparation.
In this single expression, there are three distinct things suggested to our attention; and all of them standing connected with that new gospel service upon which we enter, at the moment of our release from the sentence and the state of death.
There is first the hopefulness of such a service. The same work, that, out of Christ, would have been vain for all the purposes of acceptance—is no longer vain in the Lord. The same labour that would have been fruitless, when, toiling in our yet unredeemed state of condemnation, we would have toiled as if in the very fire and found nothingmay now be fruitful of such spiritual sacrifices, as are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. The same offerings, which would have been rejected as an equivaleni for the wages of a servant, may now be rejoiced over and minister complacency to the spirit of our heavenly Father—when rendered as the attentions of one, whom He has admitted into the number of His recalled and reconciled children. Yield yourselves up unto God then, not as one who has to earn life, but as one who has already gotten life from His hands; and your obedience, divested of all legal jealousies and fears, will be free and spontaneous on the part of the creature—and, on the part of the Creator, will be sustained as worthy of Himself to receive, for the sake of that great High Priest, whose merits and whose intercession and whose death have poured a consecration over the services of all who believe on Him.
There is secondly in this expression the principle of such a service—even gratitude to Him who has received us.
It puts us in mind of these precious scriptures—“We are not our own, we are bought with a price; let us therefore glorify the Lord with our body and our spirit, which are the Lord's.” And “if Christ died for all, then were all dead; and he died, that they who live might live no longer to themselves, but to him who died for them, and who rose again.” It is just yielding up to Him in service, that which He has conferred upon us by donation. It is turning to its bidden use the instrument He has put into our hands. It is giving Him His own; and you, in yielding yourselves
unto God as those who are alive from the dead, are just yielding the appropriate return of gratitude for the life that has thus been bestowed upon you.
And lastly, in this expression there is implied the power
for the service. The faith which receives Christ, receives power along with Him to become one of God's children.
It of itself argues a spiritual perception, of which nought but spiritual life can make us capable. The instant of our believing is the instant of our new birth. The same faith which reconciles, is also the faith which