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enumeration itself shows, that our Saviour's lesson went beyond the mere external action. Not only are adulteries and fornications mentioned, but evil thoughts and lasciviousness; not only murders, but an evil eye; not only thefts, but covetousness or covetings. Thus by laying the axe to the root, not by lopping off the branches, but by laying the axe to the root, our Saviour fixed the only rule, which can ever produce good morals.
Merely controlling the actions, without governing the thoughts and affections, will not do. In point of fact it is never successful. It is certainly not a compliance with our Saviour's command, nor is it what St. John meant in the text by purifying ourselves.
"Every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he, namely Christ himself, is pure." It is a doctrine and lesson of the new testament, not once, but repeatedly inculcated, that if we hope to resemble Christ in his glorified state, we must resemble him in his human state. And it is a part, and a
most significant part of this doctrine, that the resemblance must consist in purity from sin, especially from those sins which cleave and attach to the heart. It is by St. Paul usually pit thus. "If we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him;" "dead with Christ;" what can that mean, for the Apostle speaks to those who had not yet undergone natural death? He explains."Reckon yourselves to be dead unto sin;" that, you hear, is the death he means. that is dead, is freed from sin;" that is St. Paul's own exposition of his own words; and then, keeping the sense of the words in his thoughts, he adds; "if we be dead with Christ, we believe, that we shall also live with him. Again; still keeping the same sense in view, and no other sense: "if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; once more, but still observe in the same sense, "we are buried with him by baptism unto death; our old man is crucified with him." The burthen of the whole passage is, that if we hope to re
semble what Christ is in heaven, we must re
semble what he was upon earth: and that this resemblance must consist specifically in the radical casting off of our sins.
of the apostle are very strong;
The expressions "that the body
of sin may be destroyed. Let not sin reign in your mortal body; obey it not in the lusts thereof;" not only in its practices, but in its desires. "Sin shall not have dominion over you."
In another epistle, that to the Colossians, St. Paul speaks of an emancipation from sin, as a virtual rising from the dead, like as Christ rose from the dead. "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things, that are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God; set your affections on things above, not on things
of the earth; for ye are
hid with Christ in God.
dead, and your life is
When Christ, who is
our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." In this way is the comparison carried on; and what is the practical exhortation which it suggests? "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, evil concupiscence,
and covetousness:" which is an equivalent exhortation, and drawn from the same premises as that of the text; "purify yourselves, even as he is pure,"
The scriptures then teach, that we are to make ourselves like Christ upon earth, that we may become like him in heaven, and this likeness is to consist in purity.
Now there are a class of christians, and, I am ready to allow, real christians, to whom this admonition of the text is peculiarly neces
They are not those, who set aside religion, they are not those, who disregard the will of their Maker, but they are those, who endeavour to obey him partially, and in this way: finding it an easier thing to do good than to expel their sins, especially those, which cleave to their hearts, their affections or their imaginations, they set their endeavours more towards beneficence than purity. You say we ought not to speak disparagingly of doing good; by no means, M 2
but we affirm, that it is not the whole of our duty, nor the most difficult part of it; in particular, it is not that part of it, which is insisted upon in the text, and in those other scriptures, that have been mentioned. The text, enjoining the imitation of Christ upon earth, in order that we may become like him in heaven, does not say, do good even as he went about doing good but it says, purify yourselves even as he is pure." So saith St. John; "mortify the deeds of the body, let not sin reign in you, die with Christ unto sin, be baptized unto Jesus Christ, that is unto his death, be buried with him by baptism unto death, be planted together in the likeness of his death, crucify the old man, and destroy the body of sin; as death hath no more dominion over him, so let sin no more reign in your mortal bodies." So St. Paul. All these strong and significant metaphors are for the purpose of impressing more forcibly upon us this great lesson: that to participate with Christ in his glory, we must participate with him in his humiliation; and that this participation consists in divesting ourselves of those sins,