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the word of God and followeth it, the same is elect by him. And again, whosoever refuseth to hear the word of God and follow the same, is damned. So that our election is sure if we follow the word of God."*
Hereby GOD CARRIES ON OUR SANCTIFICATION. All Christian graces are nourished and strengthened by a due regard to Christ's word. We have seen, that regeneration and faith are thus given, and all holiness is thus advanced in us. Our Lord prays to his Father for his disciples-Sanctify them through thy truth; thy word is truth. John xvii, 17. They whe are most eminent for holiness, are among those whe are at the same time the most constant and diligent is attending the ministry of the Gospel. Christian reader! we appeal to you, how often has your heart, when dull and lifeless, hereby been stirred up and quickened! How often have holy resolutions been thus first excited in your mind! How certainly all your religion would, humanly speaking, have died, had it not been for the afresh-quickening and new-reviving power of the Gospel. It is called, and it is found to be a savour of life unto life. Every sinful disposition and affection is checked and curbed, every holy and heavenly desire and feeling is nourished and strengthened, while we are humbly waiting for divine instruction in the way of God's appointment. The manifestation of the Spirit (whether it be the word of wisdom, or the word of knowledge, or any other gift) is given to every man to profit withal, (1 Cor. xii, 7, 8.) both for himself and for others. Every part of the word is designed for our good; let none, then, of the precious seed be lost.
* See Latimer's Sermons, vol. ii, p.425.
THE SPIRITUAL COMFORT OF THE BELIEVER IS MAINTAINED AND ADVANCED. The Gospel is the dispensation of the Holy Ghost, the Comforter. It is good tidings of great joy. The office of ministers is to comfort the people of Christ, as well as to awaken the careless. And O what full and abounding comfort there is to the tried, afflicted, and burdened Christian in the rich promises of a free pardon, a full and gratuitous justification by Christ, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the new covenant well ordered in all things and sure! Christian reader! have you never gone to the house of God weary, disquieted, and sorrowful, and there heard a word in season, and returned calm, and peaceful, and happy? Have you never there experienced some of the cheering consolations which flow from the divine love shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit, and the blessedness and excellence of that peace of God which passeth all understanding? This has been the happy experience of the servants of God. David says, Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound; they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance. To taste the love of Christ to us, and to feel emotions of strongest love to Him, this is heaven begun below. how the hearts of the hearers of the Lord must have been comforted when he asked the question, Who is my father, and who are my brethren? and he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother, and my brethren! And he said unto them, My mother and brethren are these which hear the word of God and do it. The very assurance that in duly regarding that word we are fulfilling a plain duty, and attending to our highest interest, may well comfort us; and the doctrines of the Gospel truly received are an unfailing spring of happiness.
Our SOULS ARE RIPENING FOR THE GLORY TO COME. Not merely temporal benefits, but a prepara tion for eternal, is connected with a due regard to Christ's word. Our Lord asserts, He that heareth my words, and believeth in me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life. This is the road in which the saints that now fill the heavenly mansions once walked on earth. They heard, and listened to, and loved the truth of God. They tasted its sweetness, they experienced its power, they lived under its influence. St. Peter says,
Desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby * unto salvation. 1 Pet. ii, 2. Would you attain the glory above? tread in the steps of saints below, and thus be followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Reader! it is true excellence, and the way to true glory, to discern the vanity of all knowledge separate from that which makes wise unto salvation, and to yield and submit ourselves wholly to the guidance of divine truth. Those saved by the Gospel are freely pardoned, justified, and accepted of God, sanctified by his Holy Spirit, and made meet to be partakers of the heavenly inheritance. They are adopted into the family of their divine Parent, made heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. To be delivered from the wrath of God, the power of Satan, and the misery of hell; to be changed, renewed, and purified by the Holy Ghost; to be translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son; and even now to have the sure hope of everlasting life-these are some foretastes
• The best manuscripts add, eis swτngiav. See Griesbach and
of future blessings, and the way in which God fits and trains up his children for the family above.
Wherever the Gospel is preached, there, to a larger or smaller extent, these blessings are imparted to those who faithfully hear it. But we have hitherto only discoursed of blessings given in this life: let us look forward a little. Blessed are they that do his command#nents, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. Rev. xxii, 14.
What then are the happy results of faithful hearing, as they regard eternal life? Let us look at it only in one point-the PERfect knowledGE OF GOD WHICH WE SHALL THERE ATTAIN. Now, under the clearest discourses of the ministry, and the fullest privileges of the Gospel, we see through a glass darkly, but then, face to face: now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known. There is a veil of flesh between us and the world of spirits; there is a body of sin and death that intercepts our view, and obscures our prospect, and hinders our full knowledge. True it is, we have the cheering light of God's holy word; (án inestimable advantage) a light to our feet, and a lamp to our paths, to guide us safe in the way to heaven. Christians are like men travelling along a high road in the night, with a sufficient light in their hands to guide them through to their home; but they can see little or nothing of the beauties and glories of the country through which they pass; the most splendid landscape may be spread before them; the hills, and dales, and rivers, and woods may enrich the scene with diversified beauty; the most curious, and delicate plants and flowers may adorn the whole, and yet the pilgrim be either unconscious of it, or unable to discern it. But, bye and bye, the night will pass away, the morning of the resurrection will
come, and then, O then! what tongue can tell the enraptured emotions of the faithful servant of Christ, discovering infinite beauties, where he was ready to think all was gloom and dreariness; magnificence and glory bursting on his ravished sight, beyond all his conceptions! What heart can imagine the blessed result, which will assuredly succeed to our now walking by faith, when the veil is removed, and the glorious light of life shines upon us, and we behold that heavenly country, of which it is said, there shall be no night there, and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light, and they shall reign for ever and ever!
Invisible things are now discovered to us, not as they are in themselves, but by visible things. We see something of the excellence of God in the various titles by which he reveals himself. We hear of him as our Father and our Portion, our Shield, and our exceeding great Reward. We are told that Christ is our Prophet, our Priest, and our King; and that we are to view him as the Sun of Righteousness, the Light of the World, and the Bread of Life. The Blessed Spirit is represented to us as a Comforter and Sanctifier, as Purifying Fire, and Refreshing and Living Water. Through these figures, some faint but most important ideas of the everglorious Jehovah are conveyed to our understanding. Spiritual things are thus discerned by us, through the emblem of natural things; they are now only objects of faith, and are therefore seen afar off and obscurely. 0 how infinitely superior then will be that knowledge of which it is now said, It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is-we shall know even as also we are known.