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preaching of the Apostles vain, and our Faith is vain; we are yet in our Sins : But now is Chrift risen from the dead, that we also should walk in newness of life." “ For that he died, he died unto Sin once; but, in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Like wise, let us reckon ourselves also to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God, through Jesus Chrift our Lord.” .
Christ liveth to make INTERCESSION for us. - ;, . “ He, being received up into glory, and set at the Right Hand
of God, in heavenly places, maketh intercession for us." “ He bare the sin of many, and maketh intercession for the transgres. fors.” “If any man fin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; who, being made an High Priest for ever, and having an unchangeable Priesthood, is able to save them to the uttermoft, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make interceffion for them.” “ Their Redeemer is strong; he shall thoroughly plead their cause."
We hereby understand how Christ may be said to atone for the sins of the world.
1. He performed the whole law. 2dly. He died for our offences. 3. He rose again for our justification. 4. He now liveth to make intercession for us at the right hand of God; so that although in Adam all have died, in Chrift shall all be made alive.
But then something is requisite on our parts to render Christ's atonement effectual to our salvation. · This leads me, in the third place, to the doctrine of justification by faith. Under this head, let us consider first, what kind of faith that is by which we are justified: Secondly, how it is to be ob. tained ; Thirdly, what is the nature of that justification which is wrought for us by faith.
1. It is not a verbal, or outward profession of belief, which can justify us in the light of God. Neither is it fufficient that we be. lieve that God is infinitely good, just, wise, and powerful. The Devils believe this and tremble. When we speak of these attri. butes of the Deity, we must refer them to some object. When we adore him for his justice, we must bear in our minds, at the same time, that we had justly merited his avenging rod, by our wilful disobedience of his laws: And when we praise him, for his goodness, we should recollect, and gratefully acknowledge, his unspeakable love in sending his Son to suffer in our stead, and aca cepting his mediation as an atonement for the fins of the world.
Again, it is not enough that we believe this in our hearts; we must prove the reality of our faith by our conduct. The tree, we, are told, is known by its Fruits, Mat. vii. 20. “ Faith without works is dead," James ii. 17. It is to no purpose, that we name the Name of Christ, except we depart from all iniquity, 2. Tim. ii. 19. ..
" What doth it profit, says St. James, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Was not Abraham our father 2 N 2
again, Faith. doi, therefore ingh the merit of aith, through the faith
justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son, upon the
Secondly. How is this faith to be obtained? We must remem. ber that faith is the gift of God, Ephi ii. 8. It is not requifile that we should be scholars, possessed of great abilities natural or acquired, or previously acquainted with all the external evidences of Christianity, to enable us to receive it. By no means. The most likely method, is by prayer, and supplication ; by divesting ourselves of worldly wisdom, and having in our minds a firm per. suasion that we shall obtain our requests. God will be intreated ; and the encouragements for finners to come to hini are numerous, and inviting. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," Mat. xi. 28. “ For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seekeih findeth ; and to him that knockeih it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone ? or if he ask a filh, will he for a fish give him a serpent ? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more Thall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him ? Luke xi. 10, 11. " Verily, verily, I say unto you, what. foever ye shall alk the Father in my name, he will give it you, Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name : ask, and ye shall receive that your joy may be full;" John xvi, 23, 24 ,
We must divest ourselves of worldly wisdom. This has a tendency to raise us in our own estimation, to make us vain of our own abilities, and confident in our own strength, As such it is a great hindrance to our justification by faith, “Profelling ourselves to be wise, we become fools," Rom, i. 22. “ For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will bring to nothing
. See Mr. Wesley's Sermon on Salvation by faiths . .
the understanding of the prudent, 1. Cor. i. 19. The world, we are informed, by wisdom knew not God, ver. 21. “But God hath chofen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise ; and the weak things of this world, to confound the things that are mighty," ver. 27.
We are commanded to become as little children, Mat, xviii. 4; so Whosoever ihall not receive the kingdom of God, as a little child, he shall not enter therein," Mark x. 15.
And Christ himself thanked his Father that he had hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and revealed them unto babes, Mat. xi. 25.
We must likewise have in our minds á firm persuasion that God is able and willing to grant us our request. If we attend to the circumstances, which gave occasion to most of our Saviour's mi. racles, we shall find, that the greatest inducement with bim to exert this supernatural agency, was, when he perceived that the person brought before him, had full confidence that he should receive what he wanted. Hence the expressions, “ Thy faith hath saved thee. Faith hath made ihee whole. O woman, great is thy faith. According to your faith be it unto you.” Hence we are assured also, that “ all things whatsoever we ask in prayer, believing, we Mall receive," Matt. xxi. 22. Wherever our Lord found this faith wanting, he declared he could do little for them.
Thirdly. What is the nature of that justification, which is wrought for us by faith ? In the first place then we are jufa tified from the guilt of our past ans. “Through his Name who soever believeth in him, shall receive remission of sins," Acts x, 43. “ Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the pally, Son, be of good chéar; thy fins be forgiven thee,” Matt. ix. 2. “And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy lins are forgiven thee," Luke v. 20. “ There is therefore now no condem nation to them which are in Christ Jesus," Rom. viii. 1.
Secondly. We are saved from the power of fin : that is, ain has lost iis dominion over us; we are no longer slaves to it. We no longer regard God as a severe master, but as an indulgent Father. “We have not received again the spirit of bondage, but the Spirit of Adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father ; the Spirit itself bearing witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” . Thirdly. “ Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ : By whom we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God," Rom. v. 1, 2. And again, verses 10, 11, “ For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." --s And not only so, but we also joy in God, through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by whom we have now re. ceived the atonement,'' Rom. v. 11. He therefore that is jul. ülied by faith, poflelles the most solid peace and satisfaction which
us; won the
he is capable of enjoying in this life; his heart is filled with gras titude to the Supreme Being, he sees the hand of God stretched out before him, wherever he goes : It is his meat and drink, his constant study and sincereft delight, to do the Will of his Father who is in heaven ; while he lives, he lives to his glory, and when he dies, he dies triumphant.
I proceed, lastly, to consider the do&trine of the New Birth, or the work of regeneration in the soul of man. If we admit that. man in his natural face is dead in sin, and reflect for a moment that “ without holiness, as the Scripture assures us, no one can see the Lord,” we must at once be convinced of the necessity of fome very important change being effected in our lives and conduet, before we can be acceptable in the fight of God. Now the word of God tells us, that we are not only finners by practice and habit, but that we are born in sin, “ that we are estranged from the womb." “ That we go aftray as soon as we are born : " with many other passages of a similar import, Psalm lviii. 3, 9. Our Sav.our declares, “ Except a man be born again he cannot fee the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, to whom our Lord was at that time addressing himself, faith unto him, " How can a man be born when he is old ? Can be enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto ihee, except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God," John iii. 3. 5.
Two things principally offer themselves to our consideration on the present subject. First, the nature of the New Birth, or in what the work of regeneration consists. Secondly, By what means, this work is accomplilhed in us.
" If any man be in Chrift, he is a new creature ; old things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new," 2 Cor. v. 17. Mr. Wesley has expressed himself upon this point so clearly, that. I cannot forbear quoting his own words. “ Before a child is born into the world, he has eyes but fees not: he has ears, but does. not hear. He has a very imperfect use of any other sense. He has no knowledge of any of the things of the world, or any natural unde, standing. To that manner of existence which he then has, we do not even give the name of life. It is then only when a man is born, that we say, He begins to live. For as soon as he is born, he begins to see the light, and the various objects with which he is encompassed. His ears are then opened, and he hears The founds which successively frike upon them. At the same time all the other organs of sense begin to be exercised upon their pro. per objects. He likewise breathes and lives in a manner wholly different from what he did before. How exactly dosh the parallel hod, in all these instances? While a man is in a mere natural fare, before he is born of God, he has, in a spiritual sense, eyes, and sees not; a thick impenerable veil lies upon them. He has cars, but beurs not : be is utterly deaf to what he is most of all
concerned to hear. His other spiritual senses are all locked up; he is in the same condition as if he had them not. Hence he has no knowledge of God, no intercourse with him ; he is not at all acquainted with him. He has no true knowledge of the things of God, either of spiritual or eternal things. Therefore though he be a living man, he is a dead christian."
But as soon as he is born of God, as soon as he is regenerate, or, in the language of St. Paul, “becomes a new creature, old things are passed away ;" many of those objects, the poflession of which constituted formerly his highest felicity, are now regarded with indifference; several of them with detestation and abhor. rence. The pleasures of sense, the applause of the world, the accumulation of wealth, the love of power, have no longer do. minion over him. He loves God above all things, and his neighbour as himself. Freely he has received, and freely he gives. He elteems no man bis enemy; and those whom he formerly regarded as such, he can cordially receive into his bosom. His very best ałtions upon which he before so much prided himself, and by which he vainly expe&ted to merit heaven, he now perceives, not only to be unprofitable, but to have in them the nature of fin. Rom. xiii. 23. In short, creation itself wears a new aspect. Every thing around him appears to bear the stamp of the divine image. He views himself in the light of a prisoner at large; of one who had been immured all his life within the dark and dreary walls of a dungeon, and is now permitted to see the light of the sun: “the eyes of his understanding are opened :"the light of God's countenance shines upon him; and he feels the love of God shed abroad in his heart." The most trifling omission, the most venial error, now fills him with remorse: and if he neglect any opportunity of prayer and praise ; if he lose sight of his Creator, or live as it were without God in the world, but for one moment, his conscience accuses hiin, and he can take no rest, and admit ot no comfort, till by repentance he have received fresh allurances of forgiveness, and made his peace with God. He now finds " that wisdom's ways, are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace," Prov. ii. 17.
He goes on progressively from one degree of holiness to another, he grows in grace, and in the knowledge and love of Chrift, he fights the good fight of faith and finishes his course with joy and gladness. This is the nature of the New Birih, “and so is every one that is born of the fpirit.”
Secondly. We are to consider by what means this work is ac. complished in us. It is evident from Reason as well as Scripture, that man by the aid of his own reason and strength alone, can never be able to effect this change in himself. He cannot de. vote himself entirely 10 a life of piety and virtue, and persevere in it, trusting merely in his own ability. Surrounded, as he continually is, with trials and difficulties, he never can succeisfully oppose them ail, and come off conqueror by dint of mere alli