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jailor; “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved."
To occupy any more of your time in shewing the importance of the doctrines in the text, is superfluous. If it be not demonstrated by the foregoing considerations, we despair of ever establishing the simplest truth that can be proposed.] APPLICATION
[Nothing remains for us now, but to bring the doctrines home to our own hearts and consciences, and to intreat our God, that they may be made subservient to our eternal welfare.]
2 Acts xvi. 30, 31.
DXXXIII. THE REWARD OF OBEYING THE GOSPEL.
James i. 25. Whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and
continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
A PROFESSION of religion without the practice of it will avail us little
Obvious as this truth is, it needs to be frequently in. sisted on
Even in the apostles' days there were many who “professed to know God, while in works they denied him”
St. James wrote his Epistle with a more immediate view to such persons
He tells them plainly that they only “deceive their own selves"
But affirms with equal confidence that the practical Christian shall be blessed
We shall consider 1. The apostle's description of the gospel
The gospel is generally thought to be a mere system of restraintsBut it is, in truth, a “law of liberty"
[It finds us under a worse than Egyptian bondage
a Ver. 22.
And proclaims liberty from our oppressive yokel
It offers pardon to those who are under the condemnation of the law
And freedom from sin to those over whom it has had dominion
It rescues us from the captivity in which Satan has held us
It breaks the fetters whereby the world has retained its ascendancy over us
And opens a way for the unrestrained observance of holy duties
It is to captive sinners, what the jubilee-trumpet was to the enslaved Jews
And effects for the imprisoned soul what the angel wrought for Peter
This liberty however it proclaims with the authority of a "law”—
It does not merely offer what we may alter or reject-
It prescribes the only possible method of obtaining salvation
It declares that all attempts to find out another will be vaine
And it enjoins us to embrace this at the peril of our souls —] It is justly called a “perfect” law of liberty
[Nothing can be added to it to render it more effectual Neither ceremonial nor moral duties can at all improve Christ's finished works
It will be utterly made void also, if any thing be taken from
The blood of Christ, not any work of ours, must be regarded as the price of our redemption
And the liberty itself must be received as the gift of God through faithi The gospel is perfect also with respect to its effects upon
The Mosaic sacrifices were little more than remembrances of sins
But in the gospel we have a sacrifice that takes away our sin
The soul, once purged by the Redeemer's blood, is cleansed for everma
b Isai. lxi. 1. c Lev. xxv. 9, 10.
d Acts xii. 7-10.
And, once free by his almighty grace, is free indeed"—]
This beautiful view of the gospel willeasily account for II. The regard which the Christian pays to it
A man immured in a dungeon, would not treat with indifference a proclamation of pardon
Nor can he, who is in earnest about salvation, disregard the gospel — He endeavours to understand it
[He does not inspect it to gratify a foolish curiosityHe searches into it with care and diligence
Like the Beræans of old, he maturely weighs its declarations
And “proves all things in it, that he may hold fast that which is good”
Even the angels themselves desire to investigate its mysteries
Much more does he, who feels so great an interest in its contents
Nor does he do this in a transient manner, but with persevering diligence-] He labours also to obey it
[What he hears or reads is not suffered to escape his memory
He at least "gives earnest heed to it, lest at any time he should let it slip”
He cannot be satisfied to see his face in a glass, and presently to forget what manner of man he was”.
He desires to have the word engraven on his heart, and transcribed into his life
When he hears of liberty, he feels a solicitude to obtain it
• Acts xvii. 11. p It is worthy of observation that as St. Peter, speaking of the an. gels, uses the word tagaxófa. in reference to the bending posture of the cherubims that were over the ark, 1 Pet. i. 12.; so St. James, speaking of the Christian, uses both wapaxómas and sugautivas, in reference to the continuance of the cherubims in that posture. The ark was an eminent type of Christ; in it was contained the law; and over it was placed the mercy-seat; overshallowing all, were the cherubims of glory; Heb. ix. 4, 5. These things were typical of Evangelical truths; Heb. x. 1. They represented God as reconciled 10 us through Christ, by whom the law was kept inviolate: compare P's. xl. 7, 8. with lleb. x. 7. And the cherubims represented, bot angels only, but men also, as contemplating and searching into w.is stupendous mystery.
n John viii. 36.
9 Ver. 23, 24.
Or, having obtained it, he strives to honour his almighty deliverer
He is well aware that his pretensions to faith must be supported by a suitable life and conversation
And it is his determination, through grace, to shew forth his faith by his works-)
Nor does he find it in vain to serve God III. The reward which he insures to himself thereby
The world suppose that the service of God is irksome and unprofitable
But the Christian can attest the contrary from his own experienceIn the very act of obeying, he finds a rich reward
[He can adopt, in reference to the law, the declaration of St. Paul
However strict the commandments be, he does not account them grievous
On the contrary, he feels “the ways of religion to be pleasantness and peace”
His deliverance from impetuous passions is no small source of happiness,
His exercise of benevolent affections greatly tranquillizes his mind
The testimony of his own conscience is a rich and continual feasty
Moreover God himself will vouchsafe to him delightful tokens of his approbation
He will shed abroad his love in the hearts of his faithful servants
He will lift upon them the light of his applauding countenance
And “seal them with the Spirit of promise, as the earnest of their inheritance”
Thus, in the most literal sense, is that expression realized-
And the description, alluded to in the text, is abundantly verified-]
A still more glorious recompense also awaits him in the future world
Many are extremely cautious of asserting this truthThey are afraid lest they should be thought to be advocates for the doctrine of human merit
r Jam. ii. 17-20.
& Rom. vii 22.
1 1 John v. 3.
But there is no truth more clear than that our works shall be rewarded
Nor does this at all interfere with the doctrines of grace
Our persons and our services are equally accepted through Christe
And our happiness will be altogether the gift of God for his sake
But our works will assuredly be the measure of our rewarda_
And we may with propriety be stimulated by the hope of a future recompense
Let the Christian then know, that not the meanest of his services shall be forgotten
But that his weight of glory shall be proportioned to his services6] ADDRESS 1. The inconsiderate hearers
[It is obvious that many hear the word without receiving any saving benefit
This is owing to their own carelessness and inattention
They are like the way-side hearers, from whom Satan catches
the wordt But such hearers do not merely lose the blessings which the faithful Christian obtains
If the word be not a savour of life, it becomes a savour of death, to their souls"
O that all would remember the admonition once given to the Jews
Thus should they know the truth, and the truth should make them freek] 2. The practical hearers
(You have been brought from bondage to liberty, from darkness to light
And, doubtless, you experience the blessedness of doing the will of God
“ Stand fast then in the liberty wherewith Christ has made " And be not entangled again with any yoke of bondage”. Shew that you consider God's service as perfect freedom
Seek to have your very “thoughts brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”_
Thus shall your "peace flow down like a river”
And abundant treasures be laid up for you in the heavenly kingdomm-]
b Rom ii, 6.
c 1 Pet. ii. 5.
di Cor. iii. 8.