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BLOW AT THE ROOT;
Christ stabbed in the House of his Friends.
“ Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a Kiss ?” LUKE xxii, 46.
1. “ WITHOUT Holiness no man shall see the LORD," shall see the face of God in glory. Nothing under heaven can be more sure than this : “ For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” And though heaven and earth pass away, yet his “ word shall not pass away.” As well therefore might God fall from heaven, as this word fall to the ground. No, it cannot be: None shall live with God, but he that now lives to God. None shall enjoy the glory of God in heaven, but he that bears the image of God on earth. None that is not saved from sin here, can be saved from hell hereafter. None can see the kingdom of God above, unless the kingdom of God be in him below. Whosoever will reign with Christ in heaven, must have Christ reigning in him on earth. He must have that mind in him which was in Christ,” enabling him “ to walk as Christ also walked.” : 2. And yet as sure as this is, and as clearly as it is taught in every part of the Holy Scripture, there is scarcely one among all the truths of God, which is less received with men. It was indeed acknowledged in some degree, even among the wiser heathens.
Some among them allowed that nothing would please God but the sancti recessus mentis, et incoctum generoso pectus honesto: “A virtuous, holy mind, and an heart deep dyed with generous honesty." But though they could not deny, yet how easily and effectually did they evade this! They fancied something else would do as well. That some rites or ceremonies, some external forms, or glorious actions, would supply the place of inward holiness. So the famous Roman entitles to future happiness, not only the good and virtuous, but all
6 Ob patriam pugnando vulnera passos
“ Inventas aut qui vitam excoluere per artes." So, to fight for their country, to write good verses, or to invent useful arts, was abundantly sufficient, in the judgment of the wisest heathens, to give men a place in heaven!
3. But this would not pass with modern Romans. They despised such gross imaginations. But though they did not allow these, they found out another way to get to heaven without holiness. In the room of them they substituted penances, pilgrimages, praying to saints and angels : and, above all these, masses for the dead, absolution by a priest, and extreme unction. And these satisfy the Romanists full as well as lustrations did the heathens. Thousands of them make no manner of doubt, but by a diligent use of these, without any holiness at all, they shall see the Lord in glory.
4. However, Protestants will not be satisfied thus: They know this hope is no better than a spider's web. They are convinced, that whoever leąns on this, leans on the staff of a broken reed. What then can they do? How shall they hope to see God without holiness? Why, by doing no harm, doing good, going to the church and sacrament. And many thousands sit down content with this, believing they are in the high road to heaven.
5. Yet many cannot rest here. They look upon this as the very “ Popery of Protestantism.” They well know, that although none can be a real Christian, without carefully abstaining from all evil, using every means of grace, at every opportunity, and doing all possible good to all men : yet a man may go thus far, may do all this, and be þut an heathen still. They know this religion is too superficial. It is but as it were skin deep. Therefore it is not Christianity; for that lies in the heart: it is, Worshipping God in spirit and in truth. It is no other than “ the Kingdom of God within us :" it is the Life of God" in the soul of man: it is the mind which was in Christ Jesus:" it is " righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”
6. Besides, they see that be this religion shallower or deeper, it does not stand on the right foundation: Since 66 other foundation” for true religion “ can no man lay, than that which is laid, even Christ Jesus:” since no one can have the mind which was in Christ, till he is justified by his blood; till' he is forgiven and reconciled to God, through the Redemption that is in Jesus Christ. And none can be justified, they are well assured, but þy faith, even faith alone : seeing “ to him (only) that believeth in God who justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteous
7. What evasion now? What way could Satan take to make all this Light of none effect? What could be done when that grand truth, “ By grace ye are saved through faith," was more and more generally received? What indeed, but to persuade the very men who had received it, to “ turn the Grace of God into lasciviousness ?” To this end Simon Magus appeared again, and taught " That Christ had done, as well as suffered all : That his righteousness being imputed to us, we need none of our own: That seeing there was so much righteousness and holiness in Him, there needs no more in us: That to think we have any, or to desire or seek any, is to renounce Christ: That from the beginning to the end of salvation, all is in Christ, nothing in man; and that those who teach otherwise are legal preachers, and know nothing of the gospel.”
8. This is indeed “ A Blow at the Root," the root of all holiness, all true religion. Hereby Christ is Stabbed in the House of his Friends,” of those who make the largest professions of loving and honouring Him; the whole design of his death, namely, “ to destroy the works of the devil,” being overthrown at a stroke. For wherever this doctrine is cordially received, it leaves no place for holiness. It demolisbes it from top to bottom; it destroys both root and branch. It effectually tears up all desire of it, all endeavour after it. It forbids all such exhortations as might excite those desires, or awaken those endeavours. Nay, it makes men afraid of personal holiness, afraid of cherishing any thought of it, or motion toward it, lest they should deny the faith, and reject Christ and his righteousness. So that instead of being “ zealous of good works,” they are a stink in their nostrils. And they are infinitely more afraid of the works of God, than of the works of the devil.
9. Here is wisdom! Though not the wisdom of the saints, but wisdom from beneath. Here is the master-piece of Satan: farther than this he cannot go. Men are holy without a grain of holiness in them! Holy in Christ, however unholy in themselves: they are in Christ, without one jot of the mind that was in Christ. In Christ, though their nature is whole in them. They are complete in Him,” though they are in themselves as proud, as vain, as covetous, as passionate as ever : it is enough. They may be unrighteous still, seeing Christ has “ fulfilled all righteousness."
10. O ye simple ones, “how long will ye love simplicity ?” How long will ye “ seek death in the error of your life ?” “ Know ye not,” whoever teacheth you otherwise, “ that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God” “Be not deceived:” although there are many who lie in wait to deceive, and that under the fair pretence of exalting Christ: a pretence which the more easily steals upon you, because to you “He is precious." But as the Lord liveth, “ Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” Such indeed were some of you. But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, as well as
justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” You are really changed: You are not only accounted, but actually made righteous. “ The law," the inward power, “ of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus, hath made you free," really, actually free, “from the law (or power) of sin and death.” This is liberty, true gospel liberty, experienced by every believer : not freedom from the law of God, or the works of God, but from the law of sin, and the works of the devil. See that ye “ stand fast” in this real, not imaginary “liberty, wherewith Christ hath made you free.” And take heed ye be not“ intangled again,” by means of these vain boasters," in the yoke” of that vile “ bondage" to sin, from which ye are now clean escaped. I testify unto you, that if you still continue in sin, Christ shall profit you nothing: That Christ is no Sa. viour to you, unless he saves you from your sips; and that unless it purify your heart, faith shall profit you nothing; O when will ye understand, that to oppose either inward or outward holiness, under colour of exalting Christ, is directly to act the part of Judas, to “ betray the Son of Man with a kiss ?” Repent, repent ! lest He cut you in sunder with the two-edged sword that cometh out of his mouth! It is you yourselves that, by opposing the very end of hiş coming into the world, are “ crucifying the Son of God afresh, and putting Him to an open shame.” It is you that by expecting to see the Lord without holiness, through the righteousness of Christ, “ make the blood of the covenant an unholy thing," keeping those unholy that so trust in it.
O beware! for evil is before you! If those who name not the Name of Christ, and die in their sins shall be pu. nished seven-fold, surely you who thus make Christ “ą minister of sin,” shall be punished seventy and seven fold. What! make Christ destroy his own kingdom! Make Christ a factor for Satan! Set Christ against holiness ! Talk of Christ as “ saying his people in their sins !” It is no better than to say, He saves them from the guilt, and not from the power of sin. Will you make the righteousness of Christ such a cover for the unrighteousness of man