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and given bim a name wbich is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” And to the same purpose we read, (Epli. i. 21. et seq.) that “When God raised him from the dead, he set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; and put all things under bis feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” When Christ ascended up on bigb, leading captivity captive, he then received gifts for men, even for the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell among them. And now all power is committed to him, both in heaven and on earth: He not only appears in the presence of God as our great High-Priest, to plead the merit of his sacrifice, and to bless his people; but he sits at the Father's right hand, entbroned in glory, as “the King whom God hath set upon his holy bill of Zion;" from whence he sends forth his angels as “ministering spirits," to minister unto the heirs of promise during their continuance in this house of their pilgrimage, till they arrive at his Father's house in heaven, where they shall be advanced to sit with bim upon his throne, and possess fulness of joy, and pleasures for evermore.
And now, my dear brethren, in the review of these five particulars, to which the Apostle directs our attention in proof and commendation of the grace which he celebrates, what improvement doth it become us to make of the subject?
Doth not the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ call for
our humble and thankful admiration? The original and essential riches of the Redeemer, the poverty to which he voluntarily submitted, the character of those for whose sake he became poor, the riches he imparts unto them, and the means by which he doth it; are all so wonderful when separately considered, and kindle such a blaze of glory when combined and brought together, that angels themselves are dazzled with its splendour; and, through all eternity, will contemplate, with ivcreasing wonder and delight, wbat neither they, nor we, shall ever be able fully to comprehend.
You must further be sensible, that this grace of our Lord Jesus Christ doth likewise invite, and should even constrain, our imitation. It was for this purpose that the Apostle introduced it into the subject with which my text is immediately connected. He is recommending love to the brethren, and in particular that instance of charity which consisteth in supplying the wants of the poor; and the argument or motive with which he presseth his ex. hortation, is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who, though he was rich, yet for their sake became poor, that they through his porerty might be rich. And bere, did your time permit, I might take occasion to show, that the gospel of Christ is so far from relaxing the obligations of those who receive it, to the practice of social duties, that, on the contrary, it strenghens these obligations, and carries the duties themselves to a sublimer height of selfdenial, than the most refined moralist ever thought of, or perhaps would choose to adopt for the measure of his own conduct. I need only quote one passage of Scripture in proof of what I have said, where love to the brethren appears plainly to be raised by gospel-grace even above the standard of the original law itself. The law saith, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” But what
saith the gospel? You may read it, (1 John iii. 16.) “ Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us." To wbich it is immediately add. ed, as a practical inference, “ We ought.” The expression is emphatical, and imports, that it is not left to our choice, but is strictly due as a debt; “ We ought to lay down our lives for the brethren." Such is the love that the gospel recommends. From whence it appears, that the purest and most sublime morality flows from faith in Christ as its native source, and will rise in exact proportion to the knowledge of his grace.
But do we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Cbrist? This question demands a serious and deliberate answer.
It is too evident, that many who bear the title of Chris. tians are grossly ignorant even of the doctrines of grace, and need to be taught " the first principles of the oracles of God.” But besides these, we have just cause to fear, that not a few are to be found among us, who, though they have acquired a theory of Christian doctrine, and ean talk of the great truths of the gospel witb propriety and fluency; yet they cannot be said to know that grace whereof they are able to discourse to others.
The knowledge which the Apostle speaks of, is dif. ferent from that which may be acquired by study, or mere human instruction. It is of a kind altogether peculiar to the real saint: It is produced by the Spirit accompanying the word, taking of the things of Christ, and not only showing them unto him, but writing them upoa the “ tleshly tables of his heart,” and thereby traus orains him into the divine image. Let me tben ask you, or rather let me entreat you to ask your own hearts, as in the presence of God, Whether or not you ere were cerinced of your need of this grace, your ab. godinize ed of it, tu sare you from the wrath to come?
Did you ever see yourselves, by the light of God's word, to be wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; under a righteous sentence of condemnation, and unable, as of yourselves, to do any thing that could be effectual for your own recovery?- Under this conviction of your lost and helpless estate by nature, were your eyes opened to see the necessity and suitableness of the Lord Jesus Christ, the perfection of that sacrifice which he offered up to the Father; together with his ability and willingness “ to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by bim?" Animated by these spi. ritual discoveries of the Saviour, encouraged by his kind invitation to come to him, and constrained by the Father's command to believe on his name, did you humbly and thankfully receive him as the “unspeakable gift” of God to men? saying with the apostle Paul, “ What things were gain to me, those I counted lost for Cbrist. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Je. sus my Lord: And do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in bim, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is by the faith of Christ, the righteousness, which is of God by faith.” Was this acceptance entire and unreserved; did your heart consent that he should be made of God unto you, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption; your prophet to instruct you, and your king to rule over you, as well as your priest to justify you by his blood ? Have you relished, or do you now relish, the sweetness of his grace? Above all, let me ask you, have you felt its power and influence upon your temper and practice? The grace of the gospel is not only the parent of peace and joy, but an effectual principle of holiness in all who partake of it. This was the doc.
trine which Paul delivered to Titus, (Tit. i. 11. et seq.) “ The grace of God which bringeth salvation, teacheth us, that denying ungodliness, and worldly lasts, we should live soberly, and righteously, and godly, in this present world.” This is not only the most satisfying evidence, that we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ; but so essential an evidence, that where it is wanting, I can read nothing in the whole book of God to supply the defect, or that can be substituted in the place of it. I read of a dead faith,
-a presumptuous hope,-a false peace,--and a name to live; but all these are refuges of lies, which ere long shall be “swept" away
with the besom of destruction." Whereas the true faith of the gospel is every where represented, as “ working by love,” and “ overcoming the world.” The hope of the gospel incites all who are possessed of it,“ to purify themselves, even as he” whom they hope to enjoy " is pure.”—“ The peace of God wlrich passeth all understanding, keeps," or guards - the heart and mind," and fortifies the believer against the fierce assaults of his spiritual enemies. And it is the distin. guishing privilege of those who “ are not under the law, but under grace," that “ sio shall not have dominion over them :" “ They have put off the old man with his deed, and have put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” They show, that they live in the Spirit, by walking in the Spirit; and give proof that they are “ risen with Christ," and “ know him in the power of his resurrection," by “ seeking those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right band of God." These are the words of truth; they are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, and purified seven times. And they are written in such capital letters, and expressed with such