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the Holy Spirit, he will find it hard work to answer them and sin on. The throes produced will be like those of the second death ; and whoever has tried, will not need again to ask what is meant by the undying worm. That eternal separation from the society of the good, and that imprisonment with the devil and his angels, if it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder, when only anticipated, what will the reality be? I am scared at my own question. It will be a death that never dies—a living death! But,
7. There is still another thought. The sinner must have broken through all the restraints of public sentiment, before we can know how bad he would be; and this ligature he tries to snap asunder. But he will find that public very populous, before he gets through. After he has gone his round with mortals, and has learned not to care what men think of his conduct, he must cease, too, to care what is thought of his deeds, in heaven. Those beings that have kept watch over his pillow by night, that have warded off fire and pestilence, or waked him in time to flee, that have loved his father and mother, and love them still in heaven,what will they think of the puny worm who has brought himself to despise them, and sport with their opinion? But even this is not all; for devils, too, have their opinion. And he must cease to care what they think of him in hell. And their judgment, remember, is not depraved like their hearts. One might almost as well attempt to silence the opinion of heaven as of hell. The murmurs of that dark world against the man who casts its burning sentiments behind his back, will be like the distant roar of a thousand cataracts, or like the dashing of as many icebergs conflicting with each other in some boundless polar sea. And,
Finally : there yet remains to be noticed one of the most powerful motives of restraint, the domestic affections. It is impossible to guess what men would be, till they throw off the hold, for instance, that a mother has upon a profligate son. We must recollect how John Newton managed, and how miserable he was while a mother lived, to hold the cord entwined about his heart. When every other tie had been sundered, the mother kept hold of him by this,—when his character was gone, when he had descended to the meanness of serving a black mistress, and of eating his morsel from her leavings—when her favor was life to him, and her frown filled him with despair, and he had no other friend-then he remembered a mother's counsels and a mother's prayers; and then and there gave his heart to the Savior. There, from Africa's dark soil, and from a condition and character darker still, he first listed his eyes to heaven, and began to breathe eternal life: and he lives now, and sings redeeming grace in heaven, and tells in every song how hard it is for a sinner to conflict with the restraints of infinite love.
But all these are a part only of the circumstances, the restraints, that go to modify human character; all of which the sinner deliberately strives to neutralize. And if in nothing else he has shown a character bad as lan. guage can describe, or actions prove, he has given a climax of the whole in his attempts to sunder all such ties, and cut himself loose from God, and from the whole family of kindly influences that would save his soul from death.
Such is the obstinacy, the rebelliousness, the ingratitude of the sinner. Must he not, then, be born again-have a new heart and a new spirit-or never enter into the kingdom of God ?
By Rev. DANIEL A. CLARK.
THE NATURE AND RESULTS OF SANCTIFICATION.
John xvii. 17. Sanctify them through thy truth ; thy word is truth.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was a perfect man. This we must believe as confidently as we believe his divinity, else we shall have confused ideas of many portions of divine truth. And as he was a perfect man, and would be in all ihings a pattern of what his people should be, he must have a perfect reli. gious character, and perform the Christian duties, as far as they would be applicable to his exalted nature. Hence, we often find him engaged in prayer.
Whatever difficulty there may be in the idea of a divine Redeemer's praying, the fact we are bound to believe. In his inferior character as Mediator, he acted by commission from the Father, and would take instructions from him, and put confidence in him. When the last scene was coming on, and he knew that soon he must hang upon the tree, he offered that memorable prayer, from which the text is selected. He prayed most tenderly for his people; and among the first blessings asked, he prayed for their sanctification, through the truth.
There cluster about this subject many interesting questions, to some of which I purpose to turn your attention.
1. What do the Scriptures mean by sanctification ? Sometimes, it means being set apart to sacred use. Thus every seventh day is sanctified. “God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.” Thus the tabernacle and temple, the priests, and altars, and sacrifices, and all the sacred things of the Jewish dispensation, were sanctified.
God speaks of sanctifying his name, which he does when by his judgments he rebukes the gainsayers, and stills their blasphemies. He thus convinces men that he is holy.
I could name many other uses of the term sanctification ; but its principal use, and that intended in the text, is, in application to the work of rendering an unholy creature holy. Men are by nature unholy. They exercise forbidden affections, and do not put forth the affections that God requires. The prayer of Christ in the text was, that his followers, through the instrumentality of truth, might be made what God requires them to be; having the affections of the heart, and, of course, the deeds of the life, conformable to the divine law.
2. Another question may here very properly be,–When does this holiness begin? And the answer is obvious : It begins at the moment of regeneration. Till then, all the exercises are unholy ; for “ the carnal mind is enmity against God.” Nor is there any degree of alarm, or any amount of conviction, that can generate one holy affection in the heart, previously to this period. Of course all the prayers offered, and all the exertions made, prior to this change, are unregenerate prayers and exertions. Nor can it be believed, consistently with correct scripture views, that, anterior to this moment, there is any approx. imation toward correct feeling. No alarm, nor the most distinct conviction, can bring an unregenerate man to feel any more correctly toward God, or any holy object, than he did in a state of carelessness and security. And al. though we would not pretend to say that the divine influence in the hour of awakening may not restrain the sinner, and hold him back from the blas. phemous thoughts and affections which he might otherwise put forth, yet in all this there is no holiness.
And then it may be a question whether the sinner, under alarm, does not wax worse and worse, till the moment of passing from death unto life. If he has more light-if he sees more distinctly the objects of his implacable hatred, does he not obviously rise in his hatred, till it is changed into love? This point, however, it is not my object to press. We must concede that holiness begins when the heart is changed.
3. Is it always small in its beginning? Does that text in which the kingdom of God is compared to a grain of mustard seed, and that other where it is compared to leaven, teach us that grace in the heart is thus small at the first? Or do they illustrate the primitive smallness of the Christian church, and its ultimate growth and enlargement? They may be meant to apply in both cases; but aside from these texts, we are taught unequivocally in the Scriptures that the believer is, at the first, sanctified but in a small degree, and that he "grows in grace" till he arrives at the fulness of the stature of a persect man in Christ Jesus. He is, at the first, a “babe, and has need of milk, and not of strong meat.” Afterwards, he “ forgets the things that are behind, and reaches forth to those things that are before, and presses toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The light that has shined in upon him shines " brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.” Hence, we gather, that though the work of regeneration is from its very nature instantaneous, the work of sanctification is progressive, and is, at the first, comparatively small.
4. But how will this comport with what believers have thought was their experience—that at the first they felt a glow of holy affection, which they termed their first love, which afterward they lost? And the Scriptures, they have supposed, favored the idea. “ Thus saith the Lord, I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown." But was that love of espousals, thus accredited to Israel, all holy love? Or was it not, in great part at least, merely that natural joy which might arise from the comfort, and pride, and novelty of their emancipation ? It surely soon vanished, and they murmured, and made them gods, under whose guidance they purposed to return to Egypt. And that whole congregation, you know, died in the wilderness. They were, evidently, as a body, destitute of holiness; hence their love of espousals must be explained as something else than delight in God.
But why may not the same be said often of that joy with which the heart of the new-born seems to overflow? Can we be allowed to believe it is all holy love to God? There can be, as yet, but little knowledge of God, or of truth. Hence that strong affection can hardly be allowed to flow wholly from objects so dimly seen. Is there not often far greater probability, that it is the mere effusion of animal affection? Or, at least, that it has far more of nature in it than of grace. There may not seem, afterward, the same hilarity; but is there not more knowJedye of truth and duty, and more stability in the ways of God, more fixed principles of action, more humility, and more undeviating confidence in the Savior ?
In which position would the believer most readily go to the stake, and lay down his life for his Master? when, during the first month of his regeneracy, he fills the air with his song? or, when a few years afterward, he has learned
the corruption of his heart, and at times, perhaps, hardly dare hope that he is born of God ? May not the joy abate, and there be, at the same time, an increase of that principle of holiness that develops a heavenly mind ? Surely it is the believer of continued experience, and not the man renewed but yesterday, that is rooted and grounded in the truth, and who cannot be driven about with every wind of doctrine. Whether this question is decided right, however, I wish each one to judge for himself.
5. Another question arising out of this subject is--does the good man at all times advance in holiness ? and are we so to understand that text, “ The righteous shall hold on his way?” Here, perhaps, again, it is not easy to come at what we are sure is truth. I have believed that it is otherwise, and that, while there are times when the good man progresses rapidly, there are other times when he makes no progress, and others, again, when the progress of holiness, if I may so speak, is backward. Thus Israel, sometimes, bent their track directly to the promised land at other times did not move for inany days, and at other times marched retrograde. So we have seen the plant spring up and grow as if life was in it, and then perhaps for weeks seem stationary, and then again withering under drought, and seemingly about toperish. Whether these analogies may teach us truth, or mislead us, still I have believed it thus with the child of God. And the only position contested, I believe is, whether the Christian is ever in the way to do himself essential inju. ry. That broad promise, “All things shall work together for good to them that love God," has been used as implying the negative. That the promise is true, and that the full import of it will be accomplished, there cannot be a doubt. But what is its import ? Does God merely promise, in this precious text, that all the events of his providence shall conspire to bring his people to a higher seat in heaven? Or does he promise all this, and more too, that their very backsliding shall conspire to the same result ? Would he promise, that if they forsake him, and sin by going after their idols, this very sin shall tend to purify them! Would it be safe to trust a wandering believer with such a promise in his hand ? Is it reasonable to believe that it will tend to the health and growth of the heavenly mind, to have it wounded, and polluted, and ensnared by transgression ! Have we any assurance that Peter and David might not have reached a nobler Christian stature, if they had stood firm in the hour of temptation? I confess, I think there is no such assuranoe.
Do not facts warrant us to believe that Christian minds, of the same powers and opportunities, have made different degrees of advance in the ways of God ? The one is seen to climb the steeps of Zion, with brisk and steady step, and far outgo the other, while to us there appears no reason why the other might not have led in the enterprise. The professor who comes at length to the grave in old age, and, as we hope, a believer, but who can look back upon whole years of relapse and of wandering, has he those marks of maturity, and that animajing hope, and that strong and conquering faith, seen in the inan who moved steadily on in the ways of God, till his Master called him ? You are thinking, perhaps, while you read, of two old men, contemporaries who died, it may be, in the same year, members of the same communion, the one having hardly deviated from the path of life an hour, while the other has seemed to be alternately a Christian or a worldling, as the times were. Now which of them seemed manifestly to fall asleep in Jesus, while the other was saved perhaps, though as by fire ? You have all answered me. Pass through our churches, and tell me where is the venerated man of God, who is to the world around him a walking conscience, and carries heaven on his brow, in whose life there have not been some dark seasons of marked, and guilty, and hurtful relapse ? Let me say, I do not believe that the Christian does make upiforin progress in holiness, but does sometimes become stationary, and sometimes retrograde in the heavenly road.
6. Are we then to believe, that while every Christian in heaven will be perfect, there will still be a difference in their Christian stature, and their amount of enjoyment proportioned to their industry in acquiring holiness in the present life? On this point there can be very little doubt. There will be a difference in heaven among redeemed spirits, as one star differeth from another star in glory. Doubtless God will have employment for them all in his king.
As in a building there is a variety of materials, places to fill requiring more and less strength, but all necessary; so in that mystic temple whose topstone is to be laid in heaven with shouting, Grace ,grace, unto it, there may be required, to give it its greatest strength and beauty, souls of very different capacities.
7. It is then obvious that we are ourselves selecting the position we shall occupy in heaven, if any. On our industry will depend our growth; and on our growth our station in the kingdom of the Redeemer. And how can men be indifferent what is the position they shall hold among the redeemed in heaven! Increasing holiness bears its present fruits, gives its immediate as well as its future rewards. In what other enterprise, then, shall we be so ambitious to succeed as in this? If there is any one thing surprising above all others, it is that believers in Christ should be slow to put on his image. The Psalmist would never be satisfied till he awaked from death in the likeness of his Redeemer. There is surely no joy like that which is begotten by a holy temper : hence, how can one who has tasted this joy, find any other pleasures, which, for a single hour, can become its substitute ? Let me close by pre. senting a few motives to engaging with ardor in this heavenly enterprise.
1. I have hinted that we shall be happy in proportion as we are holy. We are mistaken in supposing that any particular circumstances are requisite to render us happy. There is but one thing requisite, likeness to Jesus Christ. And this is a happiness within the reach of us all, in proportion as willing to exercise his temper, and copy his example, and put on his image. Hence that rich and precious intimation, “ Christ in you the hope of glory.”
2. We shall be useful, other things being equal, in proportion as we are holy. No good man can be satisfied who feels himself to be living to no purpose. Find me the Christian who is never happy, and, sure as life, he is never useful. He is a cumberer of the ground, and can never reflect on the day that has gone by with pleasure. The man who is not aiming to bless his generation may dig after comforts, but he can never find them. He may read all the promises over, day by day, but there will not be found a word of consolation for him. He might derive more from some act of real Christian benevolence, than he does from a whole Bible full of consolations : and to be holy is the way to be useful. To follow Christ has an eloquence in it that no exhortation, nor argument, can hold out. “Be ye followers of me, as dear children."
3. There is dignity and character in being holy, that nothing else can produce. What man is great, like him who walks in the consciousness of exercising the same affections that Christ does? In what matter should not men feel indifferent, rather than be willing to be losers in this mighty concern? How can it seem a sınallthing, whether we put on, or not, the character that glows in the view of heaven ? the character that he wears who receives the homage of all the redeemed, and is adored by cherubim and seraphim? How comparatively trifling a matter is it, that we are honorable in the estimation of those who judge according to the outward appearance. The apostle could say to his enemies, It is a small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment. How noble his character, while he thus regarded supremely the inward adornings of holiness? Would we then aim at character, -character that will stand the test when worlds are burned up, let us press on after HOLINESS.