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to say with the Psalmist, “ Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren's and companions' sakes, I will now say, peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek thy good.”
The whole discourse has been practical, and therefore stands in little need of what is commonly called application. I conclude with a single remark of great importance, which I leave you to follow out in your private meditations. From what has been said, we may learn what constitutes the true glory of a church. Some place that glory in extent of territory, in numbers, irrespective of character, or in terrestrial power and opulence. These tend rather to secularise and debase the church. If they invest her with a species of splendour, it is a splendour very different from that resulting fromthose spiritual and celestial attributes by which she ought ever to be distinguished. “ There are celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial, but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.” The true glory of the church consists in the knowledge, the purity, the love, the zeal, the activity of her members. Let us seek that we as individuals, and that the ecclesiastical bodies to which we belong, excel in all these excellencies. “ Covet earnestly the best spiritual gifts; and yet I show unto you a more excellent way. Follow after charity.”
“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard; that went down to the skirts of his garments; as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion; for there the Lord commandeth the blessing, even life for evermore."
THE CONNEXION OF SANCTIFICATION WITH
Titus ii. 14.-Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
THERE are multitudes of professing christians, who, if the question were put to them, From what did Jesus Christ die to redeem men ? would probably answer that he died to redeem them from misery, or from hell. If interrogated more closely on the subject, it would soon be found that it is chiefly, if not exclusively, as a scheme of deliverance from misery, and of restoration to happiness, that they are accustomed to contemplate the christian redemption: And even those whose views of that redemption are more accurate and enlarged, who know that it comprehends deliverance not only from the penal consequences of sin, but from sin itself, are prone to assign a much larger space in their conceptions to the former than to the latter of these blessings.
For this popular misapprehension, and for the tendency to run into it, it is not difficult to account. To the distinction between pleasure and pain, between enjoyment and suffering, all men are abundantly sensitive; but, in consequence of the fall, our moral perceptions are awfully dimmed, our spiritual sensibilities are fearfully blunted, and our very depravity renders us insensible to our depravity. Hence it is that happiness and misery are apt to appear to us objects far more interesting and momentous than holiness and sin; and thus we are disposed to view and value the salvation of Christ chiefly as a deliverance from suffering, and of restoration to enjoyment.
If such had been the redemption promulgated in scripture, it would have been a redemption not honourable to the character of God, nor suited to the nature of man,-a redemption irrational and inconsistent. By a divine constitution, and by the nature and relations of things, the holiness and happiness of intelligent creatures are intimately, nay, inseparably, connected. As a rational and moral agent, man cannot be happy, unless his rational and moral powers are in a sound and healthy state; and to attempt to render a man happy without rendering him holy, would be like the attempt to free him from deadly pain and debility, without removing the disease in which the pain and debility originate. Even then, if the great and primary object of the interposition of the Son of God had been to elevate man to happiness, it would have been indispensable, in subordination to that end, to purify him from the pollution, and to emancipate him from the dominion, of sin.
But further, to qualities and objects of a moral nature there attach a particular dignity and excellence, a dignity and excellence which attach to no other qualities and objects. The moral perfections of God, his justice and purity, his goodness and mercy and truth,-form even in his character “ the glory that excelleth ;” and without them his other attributes,-his power and his knowledge, his self-existence and his independence,-might excite our amazement or our terror, but they could neither command our esteem nor attract our love. In like manner, the holiness or moral excellence of man, and of other intelligent creatures, constitutes the highest glory of their nature; an acquisition incomparably more noble and important than mere happiness or enjoyment. The capacity of feeling pleasure, or of enjoying happiness, is common to us with the “ brutes that perish ;” and if the pure and exalted happiness, of which our natures are susceptible, is immeasurably superior to these gross and grovelling pleasures, that happiness derives all its dignity and purity from the moral qualities with which it is associated; and without them it could no more exist, than the body could live and move if separated from the vivifying spirit, or than the atmosphere could communicate light and heat if the rays of the sun were totally withdrawn. On the other hand, the capacity of holiness or moral goodness, ranks us with angels and assimilates us to God; and it assimilates us to God, in the crowning excellence, the peculiar glory of his character,—in that combination of his attributes which forms the theme of unceasing admiration and praise to cherubim and seraphim in the celestial temple.
These remarks are sufficient to show that, if the redemption of Christ had contemplated nothing more than the deliverance of man from misery, and his restoration to happiness, it would have been a redemption unworthy of the character of God, and unsuited to the nature of man. To those, however, who know the truth as it is in Jesus, it can hardly be necessary to say, that, prone as we may be to view the christian redemption chiefly in that aspect, it is a view of it which, if not positively erroneous, is fundamentally defective. In adverting to the nature and design of the death of Christ, it is the uniform practice of the sacred writers to represent it, in general, as an atoning sacrifice; and, of course, as intended more immediately to redeem us from the guilt and punishment of sin, and to replace us in the favour of God: And, in stating these objects, they employ a variety of expressions, asserting that Christ “ redeems us from the curse of the law,” that he delivers us from the wrath to come,” that he “reconciles both Jews and Gentiles unto God, in one body, by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." But they declare, at least as frequently, and still more energetically and emphatically, that he came to save us from sin itself,—that is, from its dominion and defilement,--to render us pure and holy, and thus to restore us to the image as well as the favour of our Maker :-" Thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins :" “ For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth :" God sent his Son Jesus “ to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities :" “ He loved the church, and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her by the washing of water by the word :" “ He gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from the present evil world :" " Much more shall the blood of Christ purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God:” “ He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people."
Not only do the sacred writers assert this emphatically, but they sometimes express themselves as if our deliverance from punishment, vast and glorious as it scems, were intended merely to be the means to an ulterior end, preparatory and subordinate to a higher object, namely, to our deliverance from depravity, and our perfection in holiness :-“ That he may grant unto