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CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE, DUTY, PRIVILEGE, AND HOPE.
REV. T. MORTIMER, B.D.
ST. MARK'S CHURCH, PENTONVILLE, SUNDAY MORNING, NOV. 6, 1836.
Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life."-1 JOHN, ii, 24, 25.
HAD there not been a promise made by the Great Head of the church to his faithful but feeble disciples in all ages—“ Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world"-the preacher might well falter and hesitate in addressing you for the last Sabbath. He feels, however, that his blessed Master, according to his most true promise, having never left him, never will; and though unworthy of that grace and mercy which he has received while ministering amongst you the word of eternal life, he feels still that his Master is with him, his joy, his refuge, and his strength, in the day of his sorrow, and amid the difficulties of his journey.
I have endeavoured, brethren, for my last Sunday morning's text, not to select what I thought would please you, but what I thought would profit you. There was a text which I quoted to you some very short time ago, and which I had thought of taking, though it was at first deferred for a season: it still expresses the feeling of my heart. But I can dare to quote it, though I don't think I could hear to preach upon it, and I don't think you could bear to hear a sermon upon it. The words you already know: I wish to introduce them in the present sermon; I wish them to stand as a record of your love to your unworthy minister. "And now the Lord show kindness and truth unto you: and I also will requite you this kindness, because ye have done this thing." But when I came to consider that we were on the present occasion more to look at your edification than at your practice that we were more to regard what was profitable than what was pleasant; pleasing as it might be to tell of all the kindness received, and to acknowledge it with gratitude to God, I felt
something more important demanded our notice on our last Sabbath morning on the last Sabbath morning that we are to appear together as a minister and his people, as a pastor and his flock.
Let me then beg your attention to these words: "Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life." The Christian doctrine, the Christian duly and privilege, and, lastly, the Christian hope these are the three points which my text will naturally suggest
First, THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRIine. It is the doctrine of the Father and of the Son. There are many who think they are Christians, who, to a certain extent, do honour the Father, but who do no honour to the Son. Christianity, while it by no means robs the Eternal Father of his honour, at the same time promulgates the Saviour's declaration, that it is the pleasure of the Father that all men should do honour to the Son even as they do honour to the Father. Here, then, is the grand peculiarity of the Christian scheme: it not merely leads us unto the Father, but it leads us to the Son. It is a dispensation of which Christ is the head, is the chief subject, is the principal person, to whom all eyes are to be directed; while all honour, and glory, and majesty, and worship, and thanksgiving, and praise, are poured out upon the Father in all ages, that the work of the Mediator may be accomplished in the glory of God.
Brethren, what is the doctrine of the church-of the church universal; the doctrine which Paul, and Peter, and James, and John, and all the college of the apostles preached? It is salvation through the blood of the adorable Immanuel: out of Christ no salvation: approach to the Eternal Father through the merits of the Son, and in no other possible way: every other approach to the Eternal Father on the part of sinful man on earth is daring impiety and blaspheming mockery; a man has no right to draw nigh to God the Eternal Father but through the merits and mediation of God the Son. Brethren, this is the doctrine of the primitive church; this is the doctrine of the Protestant Church; this is the doctrine of our own episcopal church and I trust in God that I can look you boldly in the face this day, and say, this is the doctrine which from the first hour that this church was opened until now hath been preached in it. Yes, brethren, these things you have heard from the beginning: I never asked a man to stand in this pulpit who I did not think
would preach to you that doctrine: no; if I had, the Apostle tells you what to do with such a person : "If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds."
Here, then, is the Christian doctrine: it is the doctrine of the Father, and the doctrine of the Son: and it involves in the union of the two the doctrine of the Holy Ghost. Brethren, we have laid stress upon this; you know we have. We have sometimes annoyed some of you, and grieved some of you, because we told you that morality was one thing, and Christianity another; because we told you that morality never saved any man-never did and never could. He who is going down to the grave, who is looking forward to the grave, trusting to this-that he has been very moral, that he has been very amiable, that he has been very kind, that he has sought to do good to others, that he has been a pattern of justice and uprightness, and all that the world calls excellent, and is resting on this for acceptance with his God, when his disembodied soul shall be ushered into the divine presence; that man is holding a lie in his right hand, and a lie which, unless he give it up, will sink his immortal soul lower than the grave. Brethren, the doctrine of the church, the doctrine of the primitive church, the doctrine of the reformed Protestant Church, the doctrine of our own church, is, salvation from the Eternal Father, through the purchase and mediation of the second person in the Trinity, the adorable Redeemer, and brought home to the heart by the power, and work, and office of God the Holy Ghost. Our own church sets this forth to us, when she teaches, even in the days of our infancy-" I believe in God the Father, who hath made me and all the world; in God the Son, who hath redecmed me and all mankind; and in God the Holy Ghost, who sanctifieth me and all the elect people of God.”
Will you, then, bear with me if I say, that, as I cannot but be aware, painful as it is to me to say it, yet I cannot but be aware that there are many before me who have statedly attended the worship of God in this place, but who, alas! to the present hour have never yet received the doctrine of the Father and of the Son; have never fled to the adorable Redeemer for salvation through his blood. I shall never as your pastor in this place have another opportunity of battling the matter with you. I have often done that; I have often come in the character of a combatant; I have drawn upon you the sword of the Spirit, the word of God: and I have sought in
the strength of Israel's God, to slay this Goliah, this chief error, this delusive, this damnable doctrine, that there was any salvation for man at all through his own merits, through his own works, through his own goodness; while I have set before you that all salvation must come through the merits and mediation of our adorable Lord.
I appeal, then, to you (for I shall soon now have finished my work amongst you: I hope this afternoon, at three o'clock, to administer, with my fellow-labourer in the Gospel, the holy supper of the Lord, and in the evening to preach my last sermon in this pulpit) —I appeal, then, from your censure to the opinion of my great Master and your great Judge at the last great day. I appeal, too, against your present indifference, your present hesitation, your present opposition, to what you yourselves shall think when you turn your pale face to the wall, and when medical attendants whisper to anxious friends, "It will soon all be over:" then some of you will think of your faithful though unworthy minister, who used often to tell you some very plain truths, who used often to bring these matters before you, and did not care a straw to please you, but would almost have laid down his life for you. This, then, is the doctrine of the Father and of the Son, involving in it the work, and glory, and agency, and offices, and grace, of the third Person in the adorable Trinity; to whom, with the Father and the Son be glory everlasting.
But having considered the doctrine of the church, let me, secondly, consider THE DUTY AND PRIVILEGE OF THE CHURCH. You have heard these things repeatedly. What is the duty? "Let them abide in you." And what the privilege? "If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father." Let it "abide in you:" but it must first obtain admission; it must get into the heart before it can abide there. Ah! and not only so, my brethren; it must get into the heart, and it must take its mighty grasp of the heart; it must take a mighty hold upon the soul. And so it does wherever it comes in truth; wherever the doctrine of the Father and of the Son, preached in its simplicity, and applied by the power of the Holy Ghost, enters the soul, it enters there to have its own way, to turn out the power of sin; first, to resist sin, and then to imprison sin, and ultimately, by the grace of God, to cast it out; and though in this world the Christian is never perfectly like his Lord, until he is delivered from the burden of the flesh, and has entered into God's
perfect joy and felicity: yet the grand object, the grand effort, the grand feeling and spiritual desire of every real Christian, is to be a saint indeed; to be truly, deeply, increasingly, permanently, devoted to God. It abides in him; the doctrine of the Father and of the Son abides in him. But it does not abide in him as an uninfluential dogma, as a sentiment unconnected with his feelings or with his practice. No; wherever the doctrine of the Father and of the Son really enters the soul, it takes hold of the heart, it set up the throne of its Lord, and it commands subjection. Brethren, let this doctrine abide with you. Let this doctrine abide with you. I thank God, I feel assured that it will; for I am not going to make way for some careless priest, who will care nothing about your souls: no; my successor, already appointed to exercise this office, is a man of God, who will watch for your souls, as one that must give account. That text touched my heart before I came to church: "Watch for souls as those that must give account:" and I could not help remembering last Sunday evening's text-" Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer steward." We have watched you, thank God, from the beginning, though with many infirmities, though amidst much imperfection. The preacher can say with truth and honesty, he never preached a sermon to you which he thought came up to the grandeur, and glory, and excellence of the subject itself: but the doctrine has been with you, and see to it that it abide within you. These grand truths, these solemn, simple truths, involving the whole outline of scriptural truth, the sacred doctrine of revealed religion, the depravity of the human heart, the necessity of an atoning sacrifice, and of the divine Spirit to assist our infirmities, to enlighten our understandings, to soften our hearts; all this is included in the doctrine of the Father and of the Son: let it abide within you.
And what a blessing it will be, if that which you have heard from the beginning shall remain in you! You also shall continue in the Son and in the Father: and there you are safe; and there you are blessed. Your privilege is to feel that your inheritance is in God. Your privilege is to challenge your spiritual enemies, while abiding in the doctrine of the Father and of the Son, and to say in the language of the apostle, "Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or dis