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countenance, but on the contrary, spiritual clouds and thick darkness df trouble and sorrow, overshadow his mind, and he walks mournfully before the Lord; but he sees that Christ is the glorious Sun of Righteousness, which shall arise upon all those who fear his sacred name; the Day-spring from on high, who will graciously visit all that wait for his appearing: therefore his soul goes out to Christ, in strong desire, on this account.
The penitent sinner feels that he has a guilty conscience; he knows the truth of that word, " Every mouth must be stopped, and all the world stand guilty before God;" and is made deeply sensible, that he cannot remove any degree of this guilt from his mind, by any thing he can either do or suffer; but he sees, on the other hand, that the blessed Jesus has made a perfect atonement for the sins of the whole world, by his precious blood shedding, and that there is redemption and salvation in him, for poor, lost, and ruined sinners; therefore his mind is powerfully drawn out in prayer to Christ, oil this account, that he may obtain a free pardon.
The true penitent finds that he has a wounded spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, a spirit wounded with the arrows of divine conviction, an heart broken by the power of God, so that he has no rest in his bones by reason of his sin; and no one need to wonder, supposing he should even roar, for the very disquietness of his soul: But he sees by the light of the Divine Spirit, that Christ is our spiritual Physician, who alone can heal his wounded spirit, and bind up his broken heart, by pouring in the oil and the wine, of his heavenly grace, into his distressed mind; therefore he goes out to Christ in vehement desire, on that account.
The penitent sinner feels, that he is in a state of bondage, sin has the dominion over him, and whether he will or not, he is taken captive thereby; he sees and feels also, what the Apostle meant when he said, "I find a law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into t captivity to the law of sin, which is in my members. But he also sees, that Christ came down from heaven to proclaim liberty to the captives, and open the prison to all them who are bound; he therefore goes to Christ on this account also.
In a word, the penitent sinner feels that he is carnal and sold under sin, sin has defiled his whole soul, so that he is altogether unholy and unclean in the sight of God; that he is totafly fallen from God, and entirely destitute of his image: But he sees, on the other hand, Christ has procured that grace for him, and is waiting to communicate the same unto him, which will renew his whole soul in righteousness and holiness, which will restore him to the image of God, and put him in a capacity, to serve him acceptably, to glorify the God of his salvation, both in heart and life; hence then he goes to Christ on this account also. This being the state of every truly awakened soul, it is the continued cry of such an one, “None but Christ to me be given, none but Christ in earth or heaven Give me Christ, or else I die l’ : To believe only implies one thing more; a power to lay hold upon Christ, so that we may instantly receive life and salvation from him; for no sooner do we touch him, but spiritual virtue proceeds from him, and we are healed; the light of his countenance shines upon us, and all our darkness, all our trouble and sorrow, are gone in a moment; the conscience is sprinkled by his precious blood, and all our guilt and conemation are gone for ever, and the peace of God, which asseth all understanding, flows into our souls. Our broken i. are bound up, and our wounded spirits healed, for the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us: Our captive souls are set at liberty, and we are delivered out of the bondage of sin and corruption, and are brought into the glorious liberty of the sons of God: We find redemption in the blood of Christ, the forgiveness of our past sins; and we feel the power of his grace, converting and changing our whole souls, . we rejoice in the God of our salvation, as we have been taught to sing,
“To him that in thy Name believes,
O yes! he is seen reconciled through the Son of his love, and the happy fruit of that reconciliation is actually enjoyed, and we witness the truth of St. Paul's words, “ The Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believeth.” So true it is, that our blessed Redeemer saves his people from their sins, “Blotting out all qur transgressions as a cloud, and our iniquities as a thick cloud, and they shall no more be remembered against us.” There is a strange propensity in the mind of man to stop short of this, and to rest satisfied with good desires and pious resolutions, and above all, with viewing Christ, and the sufficiency of his grace to savd us, as set forth in the gospel. But a man shivering with cold, who is at the point of death, might as well expect to warm himself at a painted fire, as a person deeply awakened to a sense of his sin and misery, can be satisfied with any thing short of a clear manifestation of the love of God to his soul.
The observation of the late Bishop Patrick is c.ertainly just: .... "Many," saith he, " talk much of going to Christ, but it is J evident that they never come near him; for if they did, they would receive salvation from him, he would not send them empty away: And they talk of laying hold upon Christ, but it is evident they never touch him; for if they did, spiritual virtue would proceed from him, and the plague of their heart would be healed; but alas! they remain carnal and sold under sin: And others talk of looking to Christ, but it is quite clear that they never have seen him; for if they had, they would have been changed into his image: 'For,' saith the Apostle, * we beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.' But as no change is wrought in their hearts, as their spirit and temper, their life and converr sation abundantly bear witness; it is beyond a doubt, that they have not the root of the matter in them."
So true are the words of our own poet,
"Faith, when it comes, breaks every chain,
"And makes thee truly free;
"Unless he lives in thee.
"Can never be disjoin'd;:
"Nor will God bid the guilt depart,
"And leave the power behind*" .
And our Lord also bears witness to this, "If the Son, thereFore, shall make you free, then are you free indeed." Free from the guilt of sin, by the sprinkling of his precious blood upon the conscience; and free from the power of sin, by the renewing influences of his Holy Spiriti This brings us to enquire,
Secondly, What are the benefits, which God mercifully be* stows upon the believer?
It would be impossible to speak of them all in one discourse; but I will endeavour to speak of those which may be considered as the principal, with which all the rest are naturally connected. The firsr of these is what the scriptures call the knowledge of salvation, by the remission of sins. That our blessed Lord has purchased this blessing for us, no one can doubt, who duly Considers his design in coming into the world: "He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, but it was in order that we might be healed by his stripes." We come unto him deeply guilty, it is true; but he receives Us graciously, and loves us freely: So the Apostle says, "Be it known unto you, men and brethren, that by this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him all that believe are justified freely from all things^ from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses." And again, " Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Here we see that every one that believeth is justified, is freely pardoned; and that every one that is justified, hath peace with God: So that we may say upon the same ground that the prophet did, "O Lord, I will praise thee, for though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me."
2. As we are justified by faith, and have peace with God, so it is by the same faith that we are born again, or truly converted; so saith the Apostle, "He that believeth is born of God, and knoweth God:" For although justification and the new-birth are two distinct things in themselves; the one being a relative, the other a real change; the one signifying what God doth for us, in pardoning our sins; and the other what God doth in us, when he renews our souls in righteousness and true holiness: Yet these two blessings are never separated; but he that enjoys the one, enjoys the other also: He who has the peace of God in his conscience, arising from a sense of his interest in Christ, hath also the love of God
, shed abroad in his heart, and is thereby made holy. The law
of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, hath made him free from the law of sin and death. "f
3. By faith also, we are spiritually united to our gracious Redeemer, and made one with him: He informs us, " I am the vine, ye (that is to say, ye believers) are the branches." Here we learn, that as the branch and the vine are one, so is the believer one with the Lord Jesus:" " He that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit:" "We are members of his body;
._ J,' of his flesh, and of his bones." So exceedingly near and dear
r ''. to the holy Jesus is every true believer; and hence saith the
Lord, " He that touches these, touches the apple of mine eye."
But the branch is not only made one with the vine, but it
also receiveth life and continual nourishment from the vine,
so that at the proper season of the year, it appears in a state bf natural prosperity; it bears leaves arid fruit i So likewise the believer, being spiritually united to Christ, receives spiritual life and nourishment from him; and he bears not only the leaves of a fair outside profession, but the solid, substantial fruits of righteousness and holiness. "As the living Father has sent me," saith the holy Jesus, "and I live by the Father; even so he that eateth me, shall live by me." And again: *' Because I live, ye shall live also." Ye shall be quickened and comforted, ye shall be strengthened and established.
4. If the intercourse should be stopped between the branch and the vine, the leaves will wither, and the fruit will fail, and in a little while the branch will be good for nothing; but to be cast into the fire. And will it not be the very same with us; if the interccmrse is shut up between Christ and our souls? If we receive no divine supplies from him, our hands will hang down, and our knees will wax feeble; we shall be like Sampson, when shorn of his locks; weak and faint, without spirit or life. Hence we may easily account for that wonderful change; which too often takes pla'ce in individuals: We see a person at present full of faith and love, serious and watchful, lively and zealous, holy and heavenly-minded, diligent and constant in all the ordinances of God: We see the same person sometime after; but he is now light and trifling, foolish and vain, careless and secure^ and is nothing like the man he was before. The reason of this dreadful change is, the man receives no supplies of light and grace from the Lord Jesus; he finds no access to the thron'e of grace, but is backsiiden from God. O how necessary then to live near to our Redeemer, that we may drink deeper into his Spirit daily!.,
5. There is the same kind of life in the branch that there is in the vine, only there is a very material difference between the manner of its being in the branch, and its being in the vine. The branch receives it from the vine; not the vine from the branch: The vine would live and flourish, if any particular branch was cut off, but not so the branch; if it was separated from the vine, it would soon die and perish. And it is just the same with Christ and the believer: There is the same kind of life in him that there is in Christ himself, he partakes of a divine nature; but there is a material difference between the manner of its being in Christ, and its being in the believer. If it is in Christ, as its proper root, it is in us only as branches united to that root: It is in Christ, as in its fountain: it is in our souls as we drink of the pure streams of the water of life^ sweetly flowing from him t It is in Christ originally; it is in