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John, viii. 36.-“If therefore the Son shall make you free, then shall you be free
The first question which occurs to , altogether with yourselves,—that it us in reading these words must have was a matter of mere choice, and with presented itself to us in a thousand regard to which you were entirely free. different circumstances of our lives. You are then free—and on the other And the answer, which cannot here be side you are not free, until the Son has denied it, without broadly belying the freed you. Here are two contradictory truth contained in our text, will yet propositions. Which is true? Both be contradictory of that with which are true. You are free and you are the same question has a hundred times not free. You are free to walk or to before being answered. The question sit; to buy or not to buy; to sell or is—"Am I free?” And if we believe not to sell; to eat or to drink ; you the word of the Son of God we must are free to do all that it appertains unto answer—-" That we are not free,” for the natural man to do, that is to say, we cannot be free except the Son hath you are free to act according to your made us free. Observe, I am now nature, which is carnal, but you are speaking to the natural man. And not free to think, to feel, or to act in a yet there is not one here who has not spiritual manner; because it appertains in the daily occurrences of life, remain- not to your nature. As you cannot live ed some time in suspense with regard in water like fishes, neither in fire, nor to some one contemplated action or fly in the air like birds, so you cannot other. You all have felt that there live a spiritual life like the regenerate were things which you might or might man. But here, my brethren, we often not do. If done, you feel that you had mistake. The natural man well direcit in your power not to have done them. ted, outwardly lives like the spiritual If not done, you equally feel that you man. He does no murder-he steals not had it in your power to have done them. -he commits not adultery—he wrongs And were I to say to you now that not his neighbour-he gives alms-he whichsoever way you determined to is kind—he will even lay down his life, act, you were constrained thereto, you for that he holds to be his duty: but in would answer at once,—that it rested all this he is led by natural motives,
Whatever he does, he does by con- Thus far, therefore, you are free. And straint or interest, through a sense of even should your hand be bound, you honor, good nature, or self-righteous. might still have it in your will to ness. The spiritual man in the same stretch it forth. In this then is your things has a spiritual object—God will still free. And what we have said revealed in Christ Jesus. As natural of this one act equally applies to all men you may, you ought to read the the actions of the natural man. Let Bible, because it is the duty of the natu- us proceed one step further. Esamine ral man to seek for a light to clear up yourselves. You wish to be happy, the dark paths of life, and the awful we all wish for happiness wherever mystery of the grave. As natural men and in whatever we think it to consist. you must believe the Bible, because the Can you stifle this longing desire of natural proofs of its Divine inspiration your hearts? Can you refrain from are full and sufficient. You even may wishing for happiness? I know you endeavour to regulate your life by its cannot—it is impossible. Here then rule, because there is also a natural is one thing with regard to which your conscience. But as natural men you will is not free, because that thing is cannot believe to the salvation of your against your nature. And, yet, who on soul. You cannot have saving faith. this account ever felt himself less free? Your belief is a matter of the head. Thus is Satan perfectly free with reFaith is of Divine growth. It is, indeed, gard to evil-not free with regard to if you will have it, the same belief ; but good. He can in no wise do good, beit is that belief wrought in the heart by cause it is contrary to his nature. the constraining influence of the Holy Whilst on the other side God is not Ghost. It is the principle of a spiri- free with regard to evil. God cannot tual life, which comes from above, and will evil-for evil is contrary to his is given unto us of the Father, as mem- nature, From which you see, my bers of Christ. In a word, it is a new brethren, that freedom consists only nature created in us, in virtue of which in the power to act according to our we may think, feel, and act in a spiri- nature. So that if our nature be evil, tual manner. And, thenceforth, we are we shall only be free to do evil. Let free to do all that it appertains to the us examine this point. Here I might, spiritual man to do; for in this we only indeed, appeal to your conscience, and act according to our nature.
even your natural conscience would You thus see, my brethren, that the convince you of sin—but that would natural man is free with regard to natu- not be enough—for your conscience ral things ; but that this freedom is a only points at sin in you as something bondage with regard to spiritual things, foreign and accidental, whilst I have and from this bondage the Son alone here to prove that sin is the very elecan make you free by imparting to you mentof the natural man: that in which his own life, by the gift of his own he lives, moves, and hath his being. spirit.
And yet he suspects it not, nay he can. I shall now briefly endeavour to not suspect it. He who runs before prove this. We said, that the natural the wind or sails down the stream can man was free with regard to natural form no idea of their strength. To apthings, not with regard to spiritual preciate that strength, let him attempt things. Stretch forth your hand. to stem their force. Thus, my bre. This you may or may not do. If you thren, the natural man cannot rightly do, it may be to the right, to the left, estimate the irresistible power that ' upwards or downwards, as you please. hurries him to sin. To know it, let
him attempt to withstand it; and in | Nay more, I hold it to be little short order to this, let him stop in his head of the most deadly heresy, to believe long course and turn-but this can that previous to regeneration there can only be the work of God. “Turn thou be in, or from man, anything condume," says the prophet, “and I shall cive thereto. The whole work is God's be turned.”—To the Bible, then, my only from beginning to end-in its brethren, to the law and the testimony | preparation and accomplishment. Not alone do I appeal in this great contro- from man, not from him that willeth, versy. Hear what he that searcheth
nor of him that runneth, but of God the hearts declares of our estate. The that sheweth mercy, for it is God that heart of man,” says the prophet Jere. worketh in you, both to will and to do miah, “is deceitful above all things of his own good pleasure. and desperately wicked, who shall Before we proceed further, let us know it.” Further, the life of the stop a moment and glance back at the natural man is called a state of death. preceding part of our discourse. In “When ye were dead in trespasses and the first place we have ascertained the sins," writes St Paul, to the Ephesians. existence of a two-fold principle of ac“Let the dead bury their dead,” says tion in man, according to its two-fold our blessed Lord to one of his disciples. origin and object, and each having its And in another place he himself has proper range and limits. The one a taught us, that in order to rise from free-will of the natural man—the other that state of spiritual death, we need a a free-will of the spiritual man, acnew birth. “Verily, verily I say unto cording as he participates of the nature you,” does he declare to Nicodeinus, of the first or second Adam ; for the “except a man be born again he can- first Adam coming from the earth is not see the kingdom of God.” Where earthy, but the second Adam cometh fore also the Scriptures call the spiri. from heaven, a quickening spirit. We tual man the “new man"--"a new have further seen that the freedom of creature,”—and they represent that the natural man was a real bondage change as a “resurrection from the with regard to good—that none can be dead” and a "quickening." “When truly free who enjoy not the spiritual we were dead in our sins," writes St. life, and that this life supposes prePaul to the Ephesians, “and were by vious death to the natural life, and a nature the children of wrath” even as resurrection. Dead with Christ-risen others, God who is rich in mercy, for his with Christ, sin no longer reigns in great love wherewith he loved us, hath your mortal bodies, that ye should quickened us together with Christ—by obey it in the lusts thereof. Whence grace ye are saved—and hath raised us it appears that regeneration is a true up together, and made us sit together deliverance from the thraldom of sin. in heavenly places, in Christ Jesus. “ If the Son shall make you free, then
If such, my brethren, be the state of shall you be free indeed.” Lastly, we the natural man, is it not the height of have learnt that regenerating grace is folly to ascribe unto him any, the least from God alone : no man can come to share, in that work which raises him the Son, except the Father draw him. to spiritual life?-As well might it be And the Apostle declares, that they said that a corpse can shake off the which believe were not born of the strong bands of death, and raise itself blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor from the grave; or that a man when of the will of man, but of God-born he is old, can enter a second time into of water and of the Holy Ghost. his mother's womb, and be born again. There now only remains for us
to enquire how that deliverance is the life-blood which flows from the wrought; which subject has been so heart communicates the same life to all fully opened by St. Paul in his Epistle the members; for your bodies are the to the Romans, as only to need on our members of Christ-the spirit which part to draw freely from the inspired dwells in you is the spirit of Christpage. “Know ye not,” does he write, your life is a life hidden in Christ; and in the sixth chapter, “that so many of us henceforth it is no longer you that as were baptized into Jesus Christ were live—it is Christ that liveth in you. baptized into his death. Therefore we And if Christ be in you, the body is are buried with him by baptism into dead because of sin, but the spirit is death; that like as Christ was raised life because of righteousness. And up from the dead by the glory of the thus being made free from sin, and Father, even so we also should walk become servants to God, you bave in newness of life. Knowing this, your fruit unto holiness and the end that our old man is crucified with him, everlasting lite. This then, my brethat the body of sin might be destroy-thren, is the Apostle's doctrine. Deed, that henceforth we should not liverance from sin by the death of our serve sin.
For he that is dead is old man with Christ. Not merely by freed from sin. Now if we be dead an imputation of the death and sufferwith Christ, we believe that we shall ings of Christ, but by a participation also live with him. For in that he in the same flesh with him, in virtue died, he died unto sin once : but in of which we are also made particithat he liveth, he liveth unto God. pators of his spirit. So that in Christ Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to we may be truly said to be dead unto be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto sin, and truly to be alive unto righteGod through Jesus Christ our Lord.
And such is the importance For sin shall not have dominion over of this view, that St. Paul still further you: for ye are not under the law, opens it in the next chapter. Follow his but under grace.” In other words, reasoning with me. “ Know ye not, my brethren, know ye not that the brethren, how that the law hath do. promises unto which ye were sealed in minion over a man as long as he liveth? baptism, when the Triune God granted for the woman which hath a husband his holy name to be named on you, are is bound by the law to her husband so all realised in you by faith? That by long as he liveth ; but if her husband faith you have so apprehended Christ be dead, she is loosed from the law of as to be apprehended of him, and to her husband. So then it while her be one with bim? Flesh of his flesh husbard liveth she be married to anand bone of his bone. So that in other, she shall be called an adultress; Christ dying on the cross to answer but if her husband be dead she is free the challenge of the law, your body of from that law. So that she is no sin is dead also, and has thus answered adultress though she be married to the demands of the law. Crucified another man. Wherefore, my brethren, with Christ, it was buried with Christ | ye also are become dead to the law by in the death by baptism, that you the body of Christ, that ye should be might also be raised with Christ a new married to another, even to him who creature; and that as ye partake with is raised from the dead, that we should him of the flesh and blood, like chil. bring forth fruit unto God. For dren, you may partake also of the same whilst we were in the flesh, the mospirit with him ; even as the branches tions of sins which were by the law, partake of the sap of the tree, and as did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we the clouds with power to reign on the are delivered from the law, that being earth—and because he reigns it was dead wherein we were held, that we given to thee with him to reign. As should serve God in newness of spirit.” himself overcame sin, the world, and Here, my brethren, by the power of the devil, so has he granted to thee to the husband over the wife, the Apostle overcome the devil, the world, and sin. represents the power of the law and of Holiness is thy dowry. Yes, children sin over the natural man, a power of God, holiness is your dowry, your which only ceases by the death of inheritance, your portion, and your either party, for the law holds its privilege. Not merely a holiness im-. sway over man during his life-tiine. puted, but a real holiness—Christ's Now the law entered in that sin might holiness wrought in us by the Holy abound. By the law sin reigns in our Ghost, by the grace of the Father; flesh. The law is, as it were, the and though in us, still a real holiness, marriage deed between sin and the because the holiness of Christ in use flesh, in virtue of which they twain a perfect liberty, a full deliverance from are now one flesh; a flesh of sin bondage, in virtue of which God may whose fruit is unto eternal death. But command us to be holy even as he as by the death of the husband, the himself is holy—a power and strength wife is loosed from the law whereby to have victory, and to triumph against she is bound to him, so we may be the devil, the world, and the Aesh, freed from sin. Now we know, bre- laid
up in Christ for us, and by faith thren, that to them who are in Christ to be received at the hand of Christ. the law is dead, the hand-writing or- But where shall we find that perfect dinances wherein they were held cap- holiness on earth?
What example tive unto sin, having been nailed to shall I offer of that perfect deliverance the cross with Christ. For the sen- from sin which the Son has promised? tence once executed has for ever lost Ah, my God! what shall I answer, its power ;
the criminal once dead, when my own heart rises in witness the law is also dead with regard to against me, and my conscience smites him. Wherefore, brethren, reckon ye me? Yet, blaspheme not, brethren ; yourselves also to be dead to the law if we are thus struck dumb before ye, by the body of Christ.
unto us be the shame and the conBut this, my brethren, is not all. fusion of face. This is our crime, not No, thanks be to our gracious Father, our weakness; for we can do all things it is but as our first step towards the through Christ, which strengtheneth us. glorious liberty of the children. It is the power is not withheld—the grace only our divorce-deed from the law, is ever offered, but we would not-our that, being dead unto sin, we may now
deceitful hearts would not ask for them. be married to another, even to him And how, indeed, could you ask for who is raised from the dead, that we them except you know, except you beshould bring forth fruit unto God. It lieve that they will be granted to your is, therefore, Christ's church that I am prayers?-0, believe then, my brethren, addressing this day—it is to the mem- and doubt not; believe that Christ bers of his body that I now turn my- who sanctified himself in this flesh for self. Church of the crucified Jesus, your sake, will also sanctify himself in arise from the dust! raise thy heart you his members. And in that faith, and thine eyes to him from whom thy and in that hope, boldly enter the lists deliverance cometh. Thy Lord is risen against the enemy; and stoutly wage -he reigns in heaven-he cometh in your warfare in the might of your Lord