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worldly wealth and greatness, since the most illustrious of His saints and His only Son Himself, had of this world's goods so extremely small a pittance? Or, can we avoid observing, that as St. John, the reprover of sin, preceded Jesus, the messenger of pardon; so Christ, it is plain, can be only effectually approached by the gate of repentance, while repentance is of no avail, unless, like St. John, it leads us to Christ?
Some days yet remain of that season which the Church has devoted to the consideration of our Saviour's advent, and a preparation for the feast of His nativity. In those days, let St. John be in your thoughts; during those days let the Son of God be the object of your devotions; and intreat His grace that you may be so prepared to partake in His sacraments, that at His second coming in might and majesty ye may be found fit to enter into His joy. Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when He returneth shall find thus doing!
OFFICE OF CHRIST.
[Preached at Trichinopoly, April 2, 1826.]
1 ST. JOHN v. 6-8.
This is He that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood; and it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood, and these three agree in one.
To understand the meaning of these difficult words of St. John, it will be necessary to consider the tendency of his general argument, and for that purpose to go back to the former part of the chapter whence they are taken, in which he is at once enforcing the practical duties of a Christian, and the motives and principles and gracious aids from which those duties must proceed, and by which alone our weakness is enabled to perform them. We are called upon, he first tells us, to prove our love of God by the active discharge of our duty; and this duty is rendered easy to us by the change which is wrought by God's grace in every one who truly seeks His mercy through the merits of His Son, which, to express the total alteration caused by it in our desires and habits, is called regeneration, or
How is it that, weak as
being born afresh, and, to signify the degree of God's power to which we are thereby admitted, is here called by St. John, the being " born of God." "This is the love of God," he tells us, "that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not grievous; for whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world'." As if he had said, the love of God can only be proved either to God or man, by our keeping those commandments, which God Himself hath given us. But how are these commandments to be kept? we are, the lovers and servants of sin, we shall be enabled to do all which God requires at our hands as proofs of our love? How shall we be able to deny ourselves and our sinful lusts, to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil; to give up our sins, though those sins be dearer to us than a right hand or a right eye; to bear with cheerfulness the scorn and persecution of men; to be contented to incur the names of fool and hypocrite and madman, rather than do those things which God has forbidden? The world and its temptations are set against the kingdom of Christ, and who are we that we should be able to struggle with the world? Be not afraid of your own weakness, or the world's terrour. In yourselves you have no power, but through Christ's merits power shall be given you; and he that is born of God, we have God's own word for it, shall be able to overcome the world. But wherewith are we to be thus enabled? What shall be our wea
11 St. John v. 4.
pon in this great battle? through what feelings, what hopes, what inward power, shall we be able to resist such enticements, to withstand such terrours? The objection is foreseen, the answer is ready; "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith; who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" In other words, our knowledge and belief in Christ and in His promises, our hopes of Heaven, our fears of hell, our deep and unaffected thankfulness towards Him by whose merits Heaven is opened to us, and by whose sufferings we are redeemed from everlasting misery; these hopes, this fear, this love, are so much stronger than all with which the world can tempt us, that if we resolutely maintain this faith as our comforter under distress, and as our warning guide when urged by pleasure or by interest, there is no distress, no pleasure, no interest which can be sufficient to separate us from our duty and from our love which is in Christ. It is always thus, when a stronger motive is offered to the mind, and so offered that the mind is really made sensible of it, those weaker objects which before impelled or attracted us lose their effect on our will, and give place to the more powerful hope or apprehension. When the sun is absent from the earth, and the Heaven is obscured with clouds, a candle from a cottage window shines far and wide like a star through the darkness. But let the moon
' V. 4, 5.
rise and the stars of Heaven appear, the candle is seen no longer, and both the moon and the stars grow dim when the glorious light of day walks forth from his eastern chamber. Exactly so, in the natural state of man, the meanest trifles are sufficient to entice or agitate us; one man seeks for happiness in pleasure and sensuality; another gives his whole mind and care to the gathering together of wealth, all which in a few years he must leave behind; with a third, ambition is the ruling passion. But if an angel were to lift up one of these men, as St. Paul was caught up in vision, if he were to hold him by the hair of his head between hell and Paradise, if he were to show him from the middle of that great gulph whereby the seats of pain and blessing are divided, the tormenting flames, the bitter tears, the hopeless agony which dwell in the first; and the trees of life, the groves of palm, the golden city, with its gates of pearl and crystal streets, which God hath prepared for them that love Him1; if he were told," from those torments Christ hath died to save thee, and to these habitations of blessing His grace will bring thee if thou dost not cast away thy soul:" and if, while the man yet saw these opposite prospects, he were at that very moment to be tempted by the choicest of the things which he had followed after, do you think that they would have power to move him? Oh no; his heart would be full of other thoughts, of Heaven and hell, of blessing and cursing, of his natural danger and
1 Rev. xxi. 21.