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world knows not, it may be answered more especially, first, the riches of the glory of God's grace demonstrated by the pardon of sinners ; secondly, the sufficiency of the atoning blood of Christ, proved by the justification of sinners; and lastly, the efficacy of the renewing influences of the Holy Spirit, experienced in the sanctification of sinners.
The first thing which we, who are spiritually in fellowship with the Apostle, see, though darkly, and know but in part, which the world sees and knows not at all, is, THE RICHES OF THE GLORY OF God's Grace wherein he has made us accepted in the beloved. We attain to a more ample and adequate, or, at least a more feeling and lively, apprehension of this, by referring upward to it from the depth of our felt and admitted depravity, than by reasoning downward to it from the inconceivable majesty and the inexpressible glory of the supreme God. The one is as light into which we cannot approach ; the other is as darkness from which we are above all things concerned and delighted to escape. In that most comprehensive sentence of the Apostle--of which neither can the value be computed, nor the emphasis be conceived—“God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son”-it is, perhaps, less that we are struck by the majesty of the author-GOD; less even by the untold, unmeasured influence—“ God so loved;" less by the unspeakable value of the gift itself—“ his only begotten Son;" than by the unworthiness—the profound, the absolute, and, to human apprehension, the unredeemable, enduring unworthiness of the object. “God so loved the world;" that world of which we ourselves are a part—of which as a whole we sketch the moral portraiture from ourselves. That he should make any of human birth, and of human depravity, accepted in the beloved, is a mystery of godliness into which the angels desired to look; but that he should make us accepted-that is, when we are taught of God aright, the arrow which penetrates the corslet of iron, the wedge that cleaves a passage through the inmost heart of stone. “Boundless indeed —the believer will exclaim to himself, for he alone knows the depth of his own sin—“ Boundless indeed must the range of that grace have been which could have embraced such a sinner as I am ; copious the distribution of that treasury which could raise one so abject, and enrich one so poor ; abundant above imagination the resources of that bounty which could ransom such a rebel, and at such a price !"
These, we may suppose, were the feelings and the convictions that swelled in the heart of Paul, when he declared, " Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.” His heart knew its own bitterness so far as this—to know that it was unsearchable; and therefore he continued, “ For this cause I obtained mercy,
that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe.” And thus, brethren, there will be in every true believer a special acknowledgment, coupled with a special manifestation of grace to himself. The sunbeams from Christ the Sun of Righteousness, fall at once on many places, but each feels that which alights on his own head: and thus, though the true believer sees only in part, yet what he does see kindles all his apprehensions in regard to the future ; and knowing the love of Christ, that it passeth knowledge, and knowing the riches of God's grace, that they are unsearchable, in patience he waits the end, in hope to be thus filled with the goodness of God.
The next glorious object which the believer distinguishes with the eye of faith, as discerned through the medium, and reflected through the mirror of the word, will be, THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE ATONING SACRIFICE of Christ in the justification of the sinner ; which undoubtedly is, in other words, the practical exhibition in ourselves, an impartation to ourselves, of the riches of the glory of God's grace. He hath not only made us accepted, but accepted in his beloved Son.- Now we will not assume or imply that, on any other system of salvation (could any other be conceived), there would have been any thing deficient either to God's glory or to man's assurance: but we do maintain with gratitude, and avow with thankfulness-and at times we feed on the most comforting conviction with joy unspeakable and full of glory—we do avow and maintain that, in the plan of salvation which God hath developed, all is complete. He hath laid the iniquity of us all on One who was able to bear it: he has accepted the ransom of our souls from One who was able to discharge it: and our part is only to appropriate with thankfulness the unspeakable gift, and to testify with heartfelt admiration—not only with our lips, but with our lives, what God hath wrought for us. We feel the sufficiency of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, if we are Christ's indeed. We see it, though dimly, and we know it, but only in part, when we are compelled to try and examine ourselves whether we are indeed in the faith. We then feel it, we then discern it most clearly, when we close our doors upon us in the first bitterness of sorrow, or under the recent pressure of bereavement, or in the dubious struggle of temptation, or under the consciousness of sin, when our heart lies prostrate before the mercy-seat, and the soul goes forth in the language of faith to Him who pleads at the right hand of the Father ; when we say, Saviour, I have none but thee. Who have I in heaven but thee? and who is there upon earth whom I desire in comparison with thee? I am oppressed; undertake for me: I am bereaved and destitute; O do thou adhere to me more closely than the friend, or the relative, or the brother, I have lost. O Thou, who art touched with a feeling of my infirmities, succour me. In my infirmities I lay hold upon thee: O stand up to help 'me. O Thou, who art a fountain open for sin and for uncleanness, wash me from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Other refuge, other rescue, other remedy, I have none :
• Rock of ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in thee!" " Thus the soul, the faithful soul, will vent its inward emotions, though it sees but in a figure and indistinctly the all-sufficiency of Christ: but this he knows, at least—that if He does not help, there is none on earth, there is none in heaven, can. At such times, and when all else is felt to be insufficiency, his grace is experienced to be sufficient, his grace is made perfect in weakness, we discern the stability of the foundation which cannot be moved, on which we shall stand fast and firm though the universe were being dispersed around us. He who now intercedes in the presence of God for us, shall we not be made like unto him when we see him as he is, our Advocate with the Father, the propitiation for our sins here? But on that bright and glorious day, no more our Advocate, no more our propitiation, he shall be the unchanging portion of our heart, the portion that shall never pass away.
Lastly, we discern, though darkly, and know, but partially, THE EFFICACY OF THE RENEWING INFLUENCES OF THE HOLY SPIRIT: and this discernment is of daily exercise, and this knowledge is of daily experience. We discern darkly, because, though the influence of the Holy Spirit is ever alive and active, it is like the circulation of the blood, it is like the pulsation of the heart: and as it is only vehement emotion which causes the heart to beat high, and makes the blood flow in the veins ; so it is only some special occurrence or emergency which calls out, signally and strikingly the hidden influences of the Spirit. They are always within us, but we are not always equally conscious of their indwelling. And in like manner, as the whole organic structure of man is pervaded and regulated by laws, with which those who understand not the principle are familiar with the result, so that the man exerts the muscular energy equally with others, though he knows nothing of the nature and the name of them ; thus the believer whose views, through deficiency of early instruction or those advantages which have been enjoyed by others, are limited and imperfect, and who would be at a loss for terms irrespective of the language of the Scriptures, in which to express the operations of which his mind is conscious—the untutored believer, who has enjoyed no advantages of man's instruction, knows by a sort of intuitive perception, that he is in possession of certain powers and faculties imparted to him by a supreme power, which he can employ as often as the agency calls them forth, the agency which works mightily within him, and by which he seems to advance in the way that leads to life eternal. Thus he can pray when the voice of conscience calls to prayer ; thus he can labour when the voice of duty calls to act, thus he can resist when the voice of the tempter calls him to sin; thus he can endure when the voice of the adversary would provoke him to wrath. Whatever can occur to excite angry feelings within him is encountered and overthrown by the master principle of love. Whatever troubles would present themselves to disquiet him are invested with the principle of hope. The sharp arrows of the wicked, even bitter words, nay, even the fiery darts of the wicked one himself, are received on the shield of faith; so that the tenor of his conduct and conversation, if indeed he is actuated by the principles which he embraces from the word of life, will be a succession and a tissue of whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report: and all this without effort, almost at times without consciousness ; but all attesting the living energies of the Spirit of God within him. To such a man the promise of Christ is indeed realized; he believes that he has those gracious influences, and he has them; he acts on the faith of possessing them, and he does possess them. They may be mingled, almost undistinguishable, in the moment of action, from the impulses of his own mind; but when he has time to analyze his motives, and to reflect on his conduct, he can then discern (and it is a blessed thing to be able to discern it) how small a part is nature, and how large a part is grace; and he
might see, also, that the portion which nature claims is alloy and corruption. And therefore it is that the man who is justified by faith, and who walks in holiness of life as the result of that faith, never so much as dreams of taking to himself, or arrogating to himself, the praise of aught that is in him. His very simplicity, the simplicity of the gospel, is an effectual preservative from self-righteousness, for he acts entirely on that spiritual axiom which is taught by the Spirit to the lowest and most unlettered believer, that whatever is good within him cannot, for that reason, be his own; for “a corrupt tree bringeth forth corrupt fruit;" and what is the unregenerate heart but a corrupt tree? And while, therefore, he acknowledges every good and perfect gift as coming down from the Father of lights, and constituting an evidence that he is a child of God by faith, and an heir of glory through grace, he will recognise the divine efficacy in the production of every good fruit ; and he will confess concerning all, “ Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” “Let all be to the praise and glory of thy grace, wherein thou hast made me accepted in the Beloved, and art sealing me by the Spirit to the day of redemption. Whatever are the fruits of holiness which are the sign of grace within me, and the earnest of eternal life-all of these, O Father, come of thee, and they are all thine own!"
Such, then, are things known and seen by the believer which are unknown and unseen by the world that lieth in wickedness: and now, therefore, I must be permitted to ask-and it will be of infinite importance for you to return an answer—Is it thus that you see through a glass darkly, and is it thus that you know but in part ? Have you thus a deep, lively, and abiding consciousness of your own inborn, inherent, and indwelling sin? And are you aware that, with all
you have learned and all you have felt concerning it, you have far yet more to learn, and far yet more to feel; that your estimate of yourselves must continue to sink lower and lower to the end of your days; while your estimate of the great salvation, of the immensity of the riches of grace, of the sufficiency of Christ's atoning sacrifice, of the converting, renewing, and purifying influences of the Spirit, is continually exalted and enhanced? Do you look forward without apprehension to that day when you shall see face to face, and when you shall know even as also you are known; and this for no other reason (for in truth there is no other good reason) than because you have carried to Christ and left with Christ the burden of your