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through baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We thence become members of a heavenly community, * and possess all the benefits of that holy state: our names are written in the book of life: we are delivered from the bondage of corruption, and the power of darkness; and translated into the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
Of this regeneration, baptism is the sign and pledge; denoting our adoption as the children of our heavenly father; our election as the disciples of his dear son; and our fellowship with his holy spirit. But, notwithstanding, we are grafted into the body of Christ's church, and so far sanc. tified, chosen, and justified: yet are we still probationers; still bound to press forward towards the high prize of our calling; and to walk worthy of our vocation; for otherwise, we shall have no future inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Should the remission of sins that are passed, which is our primary justie' fication, not be followed by works meet for repentance; our acquittal at the great day, that is, our final justification, will be forfeited and lost. We shall then be liable † to that wrath which
* Vid. Philip. iii. 20. Where “ conversation"* might be more properly rendered “community,” or, the state of which we are citizens.
† Archbishop Tillotson long ago distinguished justification into first, and final. The first as implying our faith and repentance; the final, our solemn acquittal, and absolution at
cometh upon the children of disobedience : and as we have partaken of their sins, shall have our portion with them in punishment.
Hence we may easily apprehend the extent and import of the apostle's meaning, when he addresses the converts to christianity generally as “the beloved of God: the called : the saints."* “ As them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus." + “ As justified in the name of the Lord Jesus.” And further, when he says, “ we give thanks to God for you all,-knowing, brethren, beloved in God, your election. S
They had all been saved by grace, through faith, from the curse to which all were subject, and were “ received into the ark of Christ's church;" but it was incumbent on them to be “ stedfast in faith, joyful through hope, and rooted in charity;" if they would “ finally come. to the land of everlasting life.”
Did they maintain this Christian course, and after being united to their divine head by the sanctification of the spirit, was their conduct worthy of that holy communion? They were, in one sense, already “made meet' to be par-. takers of the inheritance of the saints in light, de
the great day; which, in scripture, is called salvation and eternal life.* Had this definition not been overlooked, what a , strife of words would so obvious a distinction have prevented ? * Rom. i. 7.
. vi. 11. : : + 1 Cor. i. 2.
§ 1 Thess. i. 2. 4.
livered by the father, from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear son, in whom we have redemption, through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” * They were restored, that is, to a capacity of happiness, by the remission of sins that are past, through the propitiation of the redeemer: a grace which is universal; for, “ by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” + But, did they all, according to the apostle's prayer, “ walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God?” I A qualification this, essential to their being finally approved by him who is of “ purer eyes than to behold iniquity.” We shall find, from the subsequent parts of each epistle, that they were deficient in this essential point, since the holy penmen remonstrate with them on account. of their failure, in the strongest and most im. pressive terms. The twelfth and following chapters of St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans are alone sufficient to confirm this observation ; and so writes he in every epistle. He tells the Corinthians who are “ sanctified and called,”. that they are “ still carnal,” S because “ there is among them envying, strife, and divisions.”. Yet he says, “ Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and the spirit of God dwelleth * Coloss. i. 12, 13, 14. Coloss. i. 10. † Rom. v. 18.
$ 1 Cor. ii. 3, 4–16. '
in you ?". Now as “'the carnal mind is enmity with God,” and attended with a curse, for “ to be carnally minded is death ;” and as even those who are spiritual, may still become carnal, and defile the temple in which the spirit dwells; and “ if any man defile the temple, him shall God destroy,” it is a necessary consequence, that those who are called and sanctified, are still liable to sin, and to its fruits; that is, to death eternal. Whence, the minister of Christ, so far from daring to say to the most unworthy believers, “ Your title to mansions of glory is secured, and heaven is yours,” should rather advise the best Christians “ to take heed lest they fall, and give all diligence to make their calling and election sure ;” grounding his exhortation on this infallible and awful truth : “ That God will render to every man according to his deeds; to them who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life; but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil.” *
Thus does St. Paul affirm, “ that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” He sets before the “ elect, the justified,” the dreadful penalties of sin, and he charges them with the commission of it. “ Now ye do wrong," he says, and instances many heinous offences
which prevailed amongst them, and aggravates the enormity of their guilt by this pointed question : “ Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ ?''* Our union with him then is no security; the in-dwelling of the spirit is no security; but St. Paul's entreaty is, “We beseech you that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”+
The epistles of St. Peter are pervaded by the same argument, couched in that unaffected, yet glowing and energetic language, which as it conveys the genuine sentiments of an inspired writer, might well put to shame the ignorance of foolish men who pretend to that sacred character. He calls the Christians, who were scattered throughout divers countries, generally, and without exception, “ Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the spirit;"_" Begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ;" and speaks of them as “ kept by the power of God through faith, unto salvation, as receiving the end of their faith, even the salvation of their souls.” I He entitles them, “ A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people :”Ş distinctions high as those, to which the new evangelists lay claim. But having dignified them with such glorious appellations, as converts to the christian faith, he
* 1 Cor. vi. 15. + 11 Cor. vi. 1.
1 1 Peter i. 2, 3. 5. 9. şii. 9.