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3. In heaven. When he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. This exaltation was prefigured by Melchizedek, a royal Priest, a sacerdotal King. It was predicted by David : “ The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand.” It was necessary as an expression of God's approbation of all that he had done and suffered on earth, as a reward to his human nature, and in respect to his work, which was henceforth to be carried on by intercession. It was accordingly claimed by Christ. “Father," said he, “I have glorified thee on the earth : I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” It really took place. He was received visibly, gloriously, and triumphantly into heaven. The disciples on the Mount of Olives saw him ascend. A bright cloud conducted him. The angels of God, in twenty thousand chariots, arrayed in their robes of state, attended him, and sang, “ Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in." The crystal portals opened before him. Amid the acclamations of the celestial hierarchy, he entered the city, ascended the throne, and swayed the sceptre. Every eye was turned towards him. Every heart glowed with admiration of him. Every tongue celebrated his praises. The thrones, and dominions, and principalities, and powers, fell prostrate before him, and, with a loud voice, said, “ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.” He shall lift up his head,
4. Over all his enemies. He must reign until all his enemies have become his footstool. However numerous, or powerful, or subtle, or malignant, before his resistless energy they must fall. When he ascended his throne, the Roman empire was at the height of its renown. Its philosophy, and commerce, and arms were in the pride of their meridian strength; and all were employed to crush the Galilean. But whose was the supremacy? Which lifted up the head ? Rome was taken and sacked, its idols were abolished, thousands of its inhabitants perished; and Christ was triumphant. And Jerusalem, where he drank of the brook, soon became a wilderness, and Judah a desolation. But he has been advancing from conquering to conquer, spoiling the spoiler, humbling the mighty, turning the counsel of the crafty into foolishness, and having the Kings of the earth, and the rulers together, in derision. He has been lifting up his head with a crown, brighter than encircling suns, and more beautiful than the gems of the morning. If men will not bow to his golden sceptre, he will rule them with his iron rod. If they will not be subjugated, they must be destroyed. The hour is on the wing when he will lift up his head over the complete destruction of his foes, when infidelity shall be consumed, when Popery shall be cast as a mill-stone into the sea, when Mohammedanism shall be totally extinguished, when Paganism shall be utterly abolished, and when that old serpent, which is the devil, and Satan, shall be bound, and no longer deceive the nations. Then shall truth and righteousness, love and purity, spread their gentle reign, and smile with united beams through one cloudless day of universal beauty. Over a renovated world shall he lift up the head, arrayed in peerless majesty, enshrined in uncreated splendour. All the ends of the earth shall turn unto the Lord, and all kindreds of the nations shall worship before him. He shall lift up the head,
5. In the final judgment. “I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it; from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away ; and there was found no place for them.” “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. And the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” Yet, “hereafter, ye shall see the Son of Man coming in his glory.” He shall come, not to found a kingdom, but to be publicly enthroned; not to make an experiment on a fallen world, but to show that the affairs of his government have been righteously and successfully administered ; not to be insulted, but to be universally acknowledged. Not a spectator will deny his Godhead, nor dispute his Messiahship. From his very wounds shall dart forth a splendour that shall confound his enemies, and kindle the rapture of his friends. Infinite attributes will he display in all his judicial proceedings. The sentence he will pronounce, will be wise, equitable, and final; whether it be, “ Come, ye blessed ;” or, “ Depart, ye cursed.” He will lift up his head,
6. Throughout eternity. He will never forget the brook at which he drank, nor lose the consequent reward. In the nature with which he partook of that stream, he will ever be the head of the whole glorified creation, the object of glory, praise, and delight. When his enemies are all subdued, he will not lay down his government. When his happy subjects are all gathered before his throne, he will not abdicate it. When his crown affords him the richest joy, he will not take it off. Surely we are not to have a glimpse of him at the resurrection, and then see him no more for ever. Things to come will never be able to separate us from the love of Christ. The relation between him and us will be perpetual. The union will be inseparable. “Thou art the KING OF Glory, O Christ.” The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne shall feed us, and shall lead us unto living fountains of waters. We shall walk in his light. We shall live in his life. We shall share in his triumphs. We shall partake of his joy. We shall sing his praises. We shall dwell in his embraces for ever and ever. “To the only wise God our Saviour be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever."
1. Let sinners be convinced of the folly and danger of opposing Christ. Some of you still say, “We will not have him to reign over us.” Remember whose authority it is you despise ; whose laws they are you violate. He is a great King. He has all power. His arrows are sharp. Before his irresistible energy you must fall. Before his august throne you must tremblingly stand. His terrific voice you will soon hear : “ Bring hither my enemies, who would not that I should reign over them, and slay them before me.” But this need not be the case with any of you. Then, at once, kiss the Son, lest he be angry. Bow to his authority. Rest implicitly on his infinitely meritorious sacrifice; and you shall know, by delightful experience, that he is exalted a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins.
2. Let saints be willing to suffer for their Master. You will have to drink of the brook in the way, before you lift up the head. But he is touched with the feeling of your infirmities. In all your affliction he is afflicted. His grace will be sufficient. Then compromise no principle. Shun no cross. Neglect no duty. Patiently endure every trial. Fear not death. Dread not the grave. If you go with him into the darkness of the sepulchre, you shall rise with him into the splendour of an eternal day. “It is a faithful saying ; For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him : if we suffer, we shall also reign with him.”
SCRIPTURAL ESSAYS. (No. XIII.) THE OBLIGATION OF THE BELIEVER TO WALK PERFECTLY
IN TWO PARTS. “ The Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God;
walk before me, and be thou perfect."-Gen. xvii. 1.
PART II. "BE THOU PERFECT.”
While the earliest declarations of the Covenant of Redemption contain, substantially, all that we find in its subsequent developments, yet, as was to be expected, it is in the Scriptures of the New Testament that we find the full and final expressions of the will of God our Saviour, in reference both to our duties and to our privileges. Among these expressions, what is termed the doctrine of Christian perfection occupies a prominent position; and it is a circumstance deserving our particular attention, that one of the first commands addressed to Abraham, as the official recipient of the covenant, the heritor of the world, the representative of the faithful, and the human fountain of the incorporated church, which from him has never failed to the present day, contains the plainly-stated germ of this doctrine. “Walk before me, and be thou perfect.” The doctrine is co-eval with the covenant.
I. It is a remarkable circumstance, that in the New Testament, that integrity, richness, and maturity of Christian character to which we believe the term “Christian perfection” to be properly applied, is chiefly brought before us in the form of prayer. And in one passage, (1 Thess. V. 23, 24,) when St. Paul had prayed for the entire sanctification of those whom he was addressing, he immediately added, plainly showing that this was God's work, “ Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it;”. will effect in you this great work. But though, under one aspect, this is God's work, and, therefore, we cannot be called to perform that which can be performed only by himself, yet from the prayer of the Apostle it is plain that we are thus to pray; and from his reference to the divine faithfulness, that we are to pray, not as for a progressive movement, valuable as this might be, towards an unattainable good, but in expecting faith, looking for an answer to prayer, from the faithful Hearer of prayer. In another place, therefore, the same Apostle, in whose mind divine inspiration had placed the whole practical, as well as doctrinal, Gospel, in such an accuratelyadjusted system, says : “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” Even in relation to what is properly God's work, there is a duty to which we ourselves are called to attend. While we look, therefore, to the prayers which seek to be filled with all the fulness of God; which supplicate hiin to “make us perfect in every good work to do his will,” and to “sanctify us wholly, and preserve blameless our whole spirit and soul and body ;” we likewise apply the solemn injunction, calling us to active duty, “ Be thou perfect.”
1. Be convinced that it is God's work, and that by Him only it can be accomplished. The prayers recorded in the New Testament, with the promises contained in the Old and the New, will furnish us both with materials and directions; while the knowledge that God works by the power and manifestations of the Holy Spirit, will lead us to the direct object of prayer, and our certainty that prayer is heard, and the Holy Spirit given, only through Christ's mediation, will, at the same time, teach us how to approach the throne of grace for the mercy and grace we need, and encourage our faith in the power and faithfulness of God.
Nor must this be all. That prayer be successful, it must be earnest. A few customary petitions, suggested chiefly by our belief in the doctrine, will not of themselves suffice for the attainment of what the doctrine teaches as a personal blessing. It is “the effectual fervent prayer of the righteous man,” that “availeth much.” We must pray for the requisite preparation of heart; for those views of the evil of sin, even in its subdued remains, of the beauties of holiness as pervading our entire nature; and for a quickened sense of our obligation, both as God's creatures and as Christian believers, to be " holy in all manner of conversation, even as He who calleth us is holy.” We must pray for those views and feelings which shall make our prayers increasingly fervent, quickening our desires, and heightening the intensity of our aspirations, till we are brought to say, “I will not let thee go unless thou bless me.”
2. And the mental state which we thus seek from God, must be che rished and cultivated by ourselves. Our attention must be resolutely directed to the subjects which we desire to have applied to our mind with spiritual light and power. The Holy Spirit does not work in us as by his own exclusive agency, but by the instrumentality of truth from the word already dwelling within us. We repeat it, that indvelling truth is the great instrument in his gracious operations. The word of Christ cannot dwell in us savingly without the Spirit : the Spirit will not work nor dwell in us without the word. He who neglects the devotional study of the word, is not to ask for spiritual influence to supply an absence which this neglect has occasioned. In vain do we extol the Scriptures as the supreme rule of Christian faith and morals, if we omit to peruse them devoutly and prayerfully. That perusal is one of the most important means of grace. It is he who loves the law of the Lord, and meditates therein day and night, that shall be like the tree planted by the rivers of waters, with unwithering leaf, and bringing forth its fruit in season. And this must be especially attended to, if we desire that God would make us perfect. We must thus seek to strengthen in our minds the abhorrence of that which is evil; to deepen the conviction of the extreme sinfulness of sin, even in its character of conquered, but still indwelling, sin; to bring us to the feeling which led Job to say, “I am vile; I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." We must endeavour to be more powerfully impressed by the scriptural statements respecting the glorious holiness and majesty of God, the spotless and awful purity of the divine nature, which yet is that which renders God himself so worthy an object of adoring love.
We must strive to see the beauty of holiness, and to feel the infinite desirableness of being saved from all our idols and all our filthiness, and to have a heart all new, and all clean :
“A heart where Christ alone may dwell,
All praise, all meekness, and all love." By earnest prayer, by scriptural study and meditation, by attendance on the public ministry of the word, and the sacrament of the Saviour's dying love, we should seek to advance towards the state in which the language of our whole soul, thought, and feeling shall be,
“ Send us the Spirit of thy Son,
To make us share the life divine :
And show and seal us ever thine.
“ So shall we pray, and never cease ;
Thy wisdom, truth, and power, and love;
And serve thee as thy hosts above."
And while doing this, we should seek to strengthen our belief in the divine power and faithfulness; our belief in the ability and willingness of God to do all this for us. Great things has he already done by “the power that worketh in us;” and by explicit doctrine, by direct promise, by divinely-inspired prayers, he has taught us how much more he is ready to do ; he who is faithful, and who is able to do for us “ exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Prayer must be offered in faith, as well as be the expression of earnest desire. “He that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” The actually receiving faith he will himself enable us to exercise ; but by devout Scripture-reading and meditation, accompanied by earnest supplication, we may advance towards that full conviction, that what we seek is not only desirable, but, by the abundant grace of God in our Lord Jesus, attainable ; so that we shall be enabled to “pray in faith, nothing doubting.”
If these things be so, it is manifest that even in respect to the work of entire sanctification,-a work emphatically referred to Him that hath called us, and is faithful,-even in respect to this work, the solemn command, “Be ye faithful,” lays us under full obligation. If it be God's work, yet “ for all these things will he be inquired of by us, to do them for us :" it is our bounden duty, therefore, to seek, that we may find; to ask, that we may receive ; and to knock, that the door may be opened unto us. And inasmuch as not any kind of prayer is that which has “ power with God,” the obligation to pray involves the obligation to endeavour to realize that state of mind from which mighty and successful prayer shall issue. Not to do this, is to halt at the very threshold ; to neglect the first step in that course on which all depends. He who is not thus labouring and praying, may well ask himself whether he feels the full weight of the divine command. Some Romanist Divines, who have otherwise written many excellent things on this subject, have, most unhappily, misled by their extremely mistaken notions of Christian asceticism and mortification,