and "holy connexion with Him. In that


have eternal life, and that ye fact he is no longer a lifeless, cursed may believe on the name of the Son thing, broken off and separated from of God.” “Turn ye, turn ye from God and goodness, but he is one of the your evil ways: for why will ye die, countless channels in which God's O house of Israel?“Believe, and holy influence flows, to His own glory your soul shall live.” And Jesus and for the good of His creatures; Christ thus reprehends those who still and he is gradually attaining, through resisted what they heard, "Ye will the perpetual and increasing influence not come unto me that ye might have of this quickening power, to an entire life.” conformity to the image of God, that In a preached Gospel the truth is he may be fit to dwell with Him in

plainly told to us, of our fall and of His eternal glory.

our death in sin; and the way of life This vital change from a death in is freely opened to us, - that God sin to a new living principle of holi- has provided a remedy for us in the ness, is a very wonderful matter. To death of His own Son, and that whothe unconverted mind it is incompre- soever believeth may have life through hensible. They who are strangers His name. Now there is no impedicannot receive the idea; they stumble ment whatever to our believing the at it, as it is stated in the Gospel, be- testimony of God to this gift of life cause that Gospel condemns as evil and salvation, but our own wilful prethe best morality which they can ference of that which is evil; nothing muster, and exalts as good a spiritu- but our unholy bias to sin, our wilful ality of character to which they are persisting in rebellion, can weaken adverse, as far as they can see it, the force of the evidence which God but which in its main points can- has provided in favour of this great not be seen by them at all, or if seen, salvation; and therefore if we are yet is seen only through the distorting without spiritual life, it is our own medium of carnal and irreligious opi- fault. If we are willing to choose this nions and prejudices.

“better part,” and, with Mary, to sit Still, extraordinary as it is, and at the feet of Jesus, and to hear His contrary to the original opinions and word, and to submit ourselves to the habits of all men, this spiritual life authority of revelation, we shall find derived from Christ, is taught in Scrip- this blessing; we shall live; we shall ture to be the one thing needful, and find Jesus Christ to be to us,-life in it is offered to every individual to this world to our souls, and resurrecwhom the Gospel comes.

tion to our bodies in the life to come, come,” said Christ, “ that they might so that we shall never die. And in have life, and that they might have it order to this, we are not called upon more abundantly.”

« This is the re- to resign our reason or our common cord, that God hath given to us eter- sense, or our free will and liberty to nal life, and this life is in His Son. choose and to act for ourselves; we He that hath the Son hath life; and are only called upon to do what reahe that hath not the Son of God hath son dictates,—to renounce our sin and not life. These things have I written our selfishness, and to listen to the unto you that believe on the name of voice of God speaking through His the Son of God; that ye may know incarnate Son, and to receive from

" I am

Why this «

Him the gift of a higher principle with Christ, we are still in our natural than natural or rational life, the gift state, under the curse of God for sin. of that spiritual renovation which as- And however deceitfully calm the similates us to Him who is perfect, appearance of things may be, it is and makes us a portion of that eternal only a deceit. There is a curse upon stream of holiness which is ever flow- us in this world; there is a curse ing from God, the fountain of all awaiting us in the world to come. good.

Here the God of holiness is adverse But now let us enquire, secondly, to us, because we are hostile to Him.

one thing is needful ?”. The tide of His providence does in. why is this spiritual life needful? fact run against us; and all His And what do we mean here by need- earthly gifts, bountiful as they are, ful? It means absolutely necessary. operate as curses through our sin. “One thing," says Christ, “is need. And then, with reference to the other ful.” Other things might be sought, world, the matter is still worse. A might be allowable, might be desira- curse, the weight of which is inconble; but this, in contradistinction to ceivable, awaits us at the bar of God. them all, was really needful, was ab- Now the tide of this world's concerns solutely wanted, and could not be may run prosperously with us; we done without. As air and food are may ride triumphantly, with gallant needful to animal life,—for without bearing, upon the stream of God's them the body must inevitably perish, providential bounties; the sky may --so this spiritual blessing is abso- be calm over our heads, and each sun lutely necessary to the soul. And more smiling than another; but the why is it so ?

day of account is coming, and if it 1. Because out of Christ we are finds us without spiritual life,-not condemned sinners, i.e. while we are really believing in Christ, not living destitute of the uniting influence of by His own Spirit's vital influence to Christ's life-giving Spirit, we are lying His own glory,—then, if the word of under the condemnation and curse of God be true, we are inevitably marked God for sin. The world is a lost for a miserable end. We are then world, through wilful disobedience; found to be tares among the wheat, to and God, in His justice, has doomed have reached the utmost limit of merits inhabitants to eternal death. If we ciful probation, without accepting the at all seriously believe the word of Remedy of our fall; we have preferred God, we must receive this truth as the course of this world, and the rule one of the fundamental principles of and the influence of the dark spirit religion. Now, then, if God's way who has usurped its dominion; and of deliverance is in His Son; if it be consequently, if up to that hour we true that “there is none other name have lived delicately, and fared sumpunder heaven given among men, tuously, and feared no evil, and known whereby we must be saved;”—but, if no sorrow, then our sorrow begins. it be true that there is no deliverance, We are not the Lord's; we still rebut that believing in Jesus Christ we tain the carnal heart, which is enmity may have life through His name? to Him; we would not have Him to then it is evident, that till we obtain reign over us.

And then we must this blessing of spiritual life by union experience what it is to have God for

[ocr errors]

an enemy, an insulted Saviour for a the foundation stone of the building ; Judge, and wrath justly gone out the union is as real as in the human against us, but aggravated by a wilful body is the living member to the and obstinate resistance of the media- living head. And then, by the aption of mercy,-wrath unto the utter- pointment of God, and the terms of most poured out upon us. Verily, the covenant of grace, the sufferings then, this "one thing,” this spiritual and the doings of Christ become ours life is absolutely necessary to save us by imputation; we are in Christ by from condemnation to the hopeless the operation of a spiritual quickenagonies of everlasting fire.

ing; and as we have all in Him one But then, secondly, this “ one thing life, which He has given us by His is needful,” because when we are in Spirit, we have in Him one righteousChrist we are justified and saved. ness, which He mercifully bestows This is a view of the other side of the upon us for our justification, i.e. question,—the blessings that flow to

henceforth we are judged in the sight him who has been quickened by the of God, “not by works of righteousSpirit of Christ.

ness which we have done,” but by The great feature of God's remedy the perfect obedience accomplished for our lost state is substitution,—the for us by Jesus Christ, as our repreputting His own Son in the place and sentative and surety. And as this the stead of the sinner, as a represen- righteousness is perfect, and has been tative of him; the appointing Him to accepted on the part of the Son of endure the sinner's sufferings, to work God himself, as the ground of His out for the sinner a justifying righ- own dead body being raised from the teousness; so that when, by a spiri- grave, it is acceptable and sufficient tual conversion, the individual is also for all those who trust in it, who made one with Christ by spiritual life, have come to it with a believing relithe vicarious sufferings and the do- ance upon its sufficiency; and conseings of Christ are applicable to the quently they all stand justified in the individual sinner so united to Him, sight of God, having the same basis and are as meritoriously available for for their confidence of safety as that his deliverance and salvation, as if on which Jesus Christ claimed that they had been really his own. There His flesh should rest in hope, that His is no other perfect obedience to the soul should not be left in hell, nor law of God, that could be offered or His body see corruption; having the accepted for us, but the righteousness same ground of hope for eternity that of the incarnate Son of God. That Christ had, that as Mediator His glothis is acceptable on our behalf, is the rified body should sit on the right statement of the Gospel; that, on the hand of the Father. And if they who other hand, it should be accepted by have this spiritual life by faith in us, is the offer and the entreaty of the Christ are so justified, and delivered Gospel. When, therefore, we have from guilt by the righteousness of come believingly to Christ for this God, then they are saved; they have salvation, and have really received it received an effectual title to the inwith our hearts, then we are actually heritance in light,—the atonement of united to Christ, as the living graft is Christ, which acquits them from guilt, to the vine, and the “living stone” to opens to them the gate of heaven; and in every one who has really so nant of His mercy, and to the offer of believed in Jesus Christ, eternal life His salvation; if there is a period is begun; the act of a living faith when it could be wise for a creature does, by God's appointment, make of the dust, the very exemplar of the righteousness of Christ our own. weakness and worthlessness, to stand And that is the ample title to heaven in his own independent strength bewhich God mercifully bestows on a fore God,—to present himself, in his perishing sinner. “He that believeth abject nothingness, before the scruon the Son hath everlasting life,” tiny of Omniscience, or rather to “and shall not come into condemna- come, covered with all the filthiness tion, but is passed from death unto of his innumerable sins, before a God life.”

of purity; if there is a period when So that if it be true that any one, so rash and impious a daring would like Mary, does sincerely and heartily be advisable ;--then there is a time sit at the feet of Jesus, and hear His when this one thing is not needful; word, and learn of Him, and simply when the good part that Mary chose believe on Him as the Saviour of the is not necessary. But who that knows soul, he does really stand acquitted himself would wish for one single from the evils of original and actual moment to be without the shelter of transgressions; he has really received, Divine compassion and covenant for the sake of Christ, the gift of a mercy? Who that has an awakened principle of godliness, or likeness to conscience, would wish to be destitute God. And that is a principle of eter- of that spiritual life which unites him nal duration ; is in its very nature to the Saviour, and makes him a pareverlasting life; it must be where taker both of His merits and His hoGod is,-it cannot remain elsewhere; liness; that spiritual life which is in it is itself the pledge of God's pre- its results the ample and satisfactory

While that soul is on earth, evidence both to himself and others, in the body, God comes to dwell with that he is the Lord's. No, there is it; and when it leaves this short, un- not a moment of a man's life, when certain life, God takes it to dwell with this “one thing" is not absolutely Him.


And if at this moment Evidently, then, this spiritual life any one individual who hears the is the one thing needful, because they Gospel, does not really possess its who have it, and they only, are justi- blessing, then, at this very moment, fied from all the consequences of that gift is absolutely necessary to their sin, and are saved with an ever- him ; for how can he tell but that the lasting salvation.

next moment may find him, not only Then, in the third place, we come alienated from God, but suddenly to inquire, When it is that this spiri- brought to the bar of that God as his tual life is needful? And to this the Judge. “There is therefore now no answer may be directly given : At all condemnation to them which are in times, without exception. If there is Christ Jesus, who walk not after the a period when it could be desirable flesh, but after the Spirit.” But to to encounter God as an enemy,—to all others there is ;-"He that bebe avowedly a stranger to the influ- lieveth not is condemned already." ences of His Spirit, and to the cove- “ And this is the condemnation, that



light is come into the world, and men with Him in glory,—he has nothing loved darkness rather than light, be- to trust to. Then every human delucause their deeds were evil.”

sive invention entirely fails him, and If, then, we would be rescued from he finds that he has no more real the horrors of the curse of God; if we ground of confidence than the brutes would fly from the misery of being that perish. It is absolutely neceseternally alienated from the presence sary, then, that in the hour of weakof God, and the consequent allotment ness and affliction a man should have of our portion with the fiends whom this spiritual blessing, and that he He has driven from His presence; if should be able to refer with compowe would have a portion in that bright, sure to the deepest secrecy of his and holy,and peaceful kingdom, where heart, and to call up, even from Almighty mercy collects, and glorifies thence, the clear evangelical proof the children of its compassion, we

that he is born again of the Spirit to must have this one thing needful. a new and heavenly life of love and And we must have it now, that we cheerful obedience, by hearing and may have it for ever. We must se- believing the word of the Son of cure it while we may, for the present God. moment only is the time for action ; But if experience shews that in the the only moment we can call our hour of adversity and distress the

comfort of this hope is needful, then But again, in answer to the ques- it follows that in the hour of prospetion, When is it needful ? we answer: rity it is more so; for that is the time This blessing is much needed in ad- which is really given for seeking the versity, but most of all, in the day of blessing that can alone calm the agoprosperity, to prepare us for the day nies of approaching trial. The preof trial. It is necessary in the hour sent moment of peace is our own. of calamity. They who have come Now, in the midst of indulgent mernear to the brink of the grave, know cies, we may turn calmly to examine what it is to look out anxiously for a the question; we may inspect the refoundation to rest upon. They know cord. By the power of conscience, what it is to inquire with deep so- we may call up before the face of our lemnity of spirit, whether, when their Omniscient Father the realities of our eyes are closing upon this material moral state, and ascertain where we scene, they have any solid ground of are, what we are doing, and what is trust for the untried hereafter. Now our hope; and if we are in error, we that is a time in which a man feels may seek for guidance; we may rethis—That this spiritual life is in- cede from the wrong way, and turn deed the one thing needful; for if he our feet into the of


And has not that, he has nothing. If he if we find that we have "lived without has not a vital principle beyond the God in the world,” we may now ask reach of human contingency, and for the blessing of that spiritual which will bear the scrutiny of Om- quickening which shall graft us into niscient justice,- a life which is hid Christ, and make us living heirs of with Christ in God, and which secures His eternal glory. to him, that when Christ who is his All this may be done now. It is life shall appear, then shall he appear now, then, that it is especially need


« VorigeDoorgaan »