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world like the sun in the firmament of heaven, he must mean by a servant of God, a person brought into his family through faith in the blessed Redeemer. But as we never were under the Jewish law, the title of servant as here used never could belong to us; and under the gospel dispensation the scripture knows of no distinction between a servant and a son of God, but" that which may properly be made between a private christian ảnd a public preacher. And here, the servant stands in a higher station than the son, and may justly glory with St. Paul, in being a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.
By a servant of the Lord then, we are to understand, a person who is brought into the favour and family of God, and who may be properly termed a christian believer, a converted man.
A man cannot be a servant of God and a servant of sin at the same time, these are two very opposite characters, and no one can serve these two masters. Our Lord hath set this in a clear light where he says, “ He who committeth sin is the servant of sin, and the servant of sin abideth not in the house of the Lord for ever, but the son (he who is delivered from the dominion of sin abideth ever.' And he adds the following awful words, “ Ye are of your father the devil, for the lusts of your father ye will do.” The apostle Paul confirms the words of his Lord, when he says,
6. How shall we who are dead to sin live any longer therein ?” And when he thus reasons with the people to whom he was then writing, “Know ye not that his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.” And that he might fully satisfy them upon this head, he assures them,“ Sin should not have dominion over them, for, saith he, ye are not under the law but under grace.” They were not under the law, which only shewed them what they ought to be, and what they ought to do, but gave them no degree of spiritual help, but ye are under grace, or under the gracious dispensation of the gospel, which offers you all the help you want, and under the renewing influences of the Holy Ghost, so that he could with propriety give this excellent advice, “Let not sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the desires thereof.” But as he well knew the importance of this subject, he adds, “When ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.": Ye were in the bondage of sin and corruption; " but now being made free from sin and become the servants of God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
e." The apostle resumes this subject, and speaking of himself says, “The law of the spirit of life in
Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the law of sin and death." It is highly worthy of our observation, that in the former chapter he had largely described the state of an awakened sinner, a man made deeply sensible of his native depravity, and carnestly desiring to be delivered from it. He shews us the deliverer, " I thank God, saith he, through Christ Jesụs the Lord.” He then describes the deliverance itself.
" What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, (on'account of our original depravity) God did, by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, (to accomplish the work of our redemption) and for sin condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who'walk not after the flesh but after the spirit.” That by the grace of God communicated, we might be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke in the midst of à crooked and a perverse generation.”
It appears then, that the servants of God are not bond-men and women, or under the power or dominion of their own spirit and temper, but as our Lord declares, “ If the Son sħall make you free, then are ye free indeed :" And the beloved disciple bears' his testimony to the same thing, where he says, “ He who committetk sin iś of the devil," and then informs
6. That' hè who is born of God sinnėth not, for his' seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God." The Apostle would not have us to suppose, that he who is born of God is rendered incapable of committing sin. But he cannot, that is, he will not sin, he sees the impropriety of it, the very bad consequences that would follow, should he be so unwise. He cannot sin in the same sense that I cannot run my hand into the fire, when I feel' 'I am under no necessity to do it, and I perceive if I did, I should be burnt. So the servant of God perceives that he is no longer a debtor to the flesh, to live after the flesh, as he is well convinced, that should he do this, he must die eternally according to the Apostle.
A man cannot be a servant of God and a servant of the world at the same time, these also are two very contrary masters. He cannot live under the influence of the Spirit of God, and the spirit of the world at the same time, as these two stand directly opposed the one to the other : “ Ye are not of the world, saith our Lord, but I have chosen you out of the world;" and his faithful servant St. Paul, speaking of himself, says, “I am crucified to the world, and the world is crucified unto me.” I am crucified to the world, I have now no desire after, and no delight in the vain and empty shadows of this perishing world, I have lost all taste and relish for those things which many pursue with the greatest eagerness : And the world is crucified unto me, it is sunk in my esteem, it has lost all its bewitching charms, it can allure and draw me away from God no more, it has lost its power
and influence over me. He also gives this excellent advice to all the followers of God: “Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed, by the renewing of your minds, that ye may prove what that good and acceptable and perfect will of the Lord is.” We can hardly suppose that the Apostle had formed a wrong judgment of the world, nor can we seriously think that it can do any more for us than it did for him; and yet how remarkably few éven among religious people, see any harm at all in conforming to the world, in following, with all readiness, the vain and foolish fashions which those who know not God are continually inventing. In this respect how few there are who are willing to be singular : “Come out from among them and be ye separate,” is the advice of an inspired Apostle ; and again he says, “ Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Light and darkness, Christ and Belial, we know, have no communication with each other. And although in the present age much pains has been taken to find out an easy, smooth, genteel way to heaven, a way in which we need not to deny ourselves, or to take up our cross; a way in which we need suffer no reproach for righteousness sake, but may take Christ in one hand, and every thing that is pleasing to flesh and blood in the other, and go quietly and peaceably along, till we get to heaven. But alas ! this is * only the way which seemeth right to a' man, but the end of it leadeth down toʻthe chambers of death.” After all we can do to reconcile conformity to the world, with the religion of Jesus Christ, an Apostle will tell us, " The friendship of the world is eninity with God," and, “ he who will be a friend of the world is an enemy of God.”
Conformity to the customs, fashions, and maxims of the world, directly leads to the same spirit by which the men of the world are governed, and how it is that christian people can delight so much in decking and adorning their poor perishing bodies, how they can think it worth their while to alter the mode of their dress merely because other people do so, or how they can think that they will be able to give a good account of the extraordinary expence attending it, is a mystery to me which I never could understand! It has ever appeared to me quite beneath the dignity of a christian to regard such vanities, and I know of no name little enough to call such weakness by.
From what is said it will appear, that every servant of God must experience these three things in his own mind, the light of God, the peace of God, and the love of God; and wherever any one of these is wanting, that man, be who he may, must be found wanting also, if he will only examine himself by the sacred scriptures. It is in the enjoyment of divine light that we are made wise unto salvation, wise enough to know and follow after our own highest and dearest interests, rightly judging that this is the one thing needful, the one grand business of life, the end of our creation, redemption, and preservation. By experiencing the peace of God, we are made truly happy, and can rejoice in hope of eternal glory, and therefore we can chearfully serve that gracious God, whose favour is better than life itself: And by the power of divine love communicated, we are made truly holy, being renewed in all our ransomed powers thereby, as hath been often observed already. This brings us to consider,
Secondly, On what account the righteousness of such per·sons may be said to be of God.
That we may set this in as clear a light as we can, it will be necessary to observe, that the righteousness of a servant of God may properly be considered under two distinct heads. The righteousness of justification, and of sanctification. Or as some persons chuse to speak, righteousness imputed, and righteousness imparted. The former, our free and full justification, stands in the pardon of our past sins, and is what may : be called a relative change. A change in the relation in which we stand towards God, he, being now our reconciled Father through faith in Christ Jesus. But sanctification is a real change, a change in the whole man, and stands in the renewal of the soul in the image of God in which we were created.
1. On what account is our justification said to be of God? The Apostle inforins us, “It is God who justifieth, who is he that shall condemn? And again, “To him who workethi not, but believeth on him who justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted to him for righteousness." The righteousness of justification is of God's appointing. In infinite wisdom an! boundless love, he contrited this one way for the redemption and salvation of a lost world. Man being totally fallen from · God, cast out of his favour and despoiled of his image, deeply guilty, and utterly helpless: The God of love sent his only Son into the tvorld to be a sacrifice for sin, and to procure pardon and peace for those who had destroyed themselves : And in consequence of this, an offer of sardoning mercy is
made to every returning sinner; and God who is infinitely just, nevertheless freely justifies the ungodly, who are enableá to believe in the Son of his love.
2. This righteousness is of God's procuring. It is purchased for us by the precious blood of Christ our Saviour, who was. God and mån united in one person, and therefore was a proper representative for fallen man. He was prophesied of long before he appeared in the world under this character, “ The Lord our righteousness. And when he entered upon his public ministry, this word of God was fulfilled in him, “ He magnified the law, and made it honourable," and, “ fubfilled all righteousness in his own person." He perfectly fulfilled that particular law which he was under, considered as a Mediator between God and man, so that he was that Holy Lamb, without spot or blemish, which was to be offered up as a sacrifice for sin. Had he failed in any degree, of performing that obedience to the divine law, which was required of him, considered as our surety, then he must have died for his own personal transgression : But as he was holy, harmless, and undefiled, as he knew no sin, nor was guile ever found in his mouth, he was fully prepared to be that spotless victim, which was to bear the punishment due to the sins of the whole world in his own body upon the tree. Considered as a man, he
was a proper substitute for man: and considered as God and man; all that he did, as well as suffered, was infinitely meritorious; and therefore a perfect atonement was made for the sins of the whole world.
We ought never to forget the words of our blessed Lord : "So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” It was not, then, the death of Christ.which caused God to love mankind, deeply fallen as they were, but it was because God so loved the world that.Christ laid down his life to redeem and save, us. To open a way, consistent with all the infinite perfections of God, for his mercy and love to be extended to us. This wonderful way is now made manifest, God cán magnify his mercy, without violating his justice. He can remain infinitely just; and yet justify the ungodly, to the astonishment of all the angels in heaven.
3. This righteousness is of God's bestowing: It is his free gift through Jesus Christ our Lord; “I, éyen I, am he, saith the Lord, who blotteth out thy transgressions as a cloud, and thy iniquities as a thick cloud.” It is that God who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, against whom we had so greatly