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grace of God which was with me," 1 Cor. xv. 10. If you ask a little child, "Who was it brought you over that dirty place?" He will say, "My father." "Who bought you those new clothes ?" "Why my father;-my father does all for me." A child of God will give his heavenly Father all the glory: "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory," Psalm cxv. 1. "Who maketh thee to differ from another?" is it thyself? O no! I can do nothing of myself, it is God that does all: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ," Eph. i. 3. All our care and concern in religion will come to nothing without God's help and grace : "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.' Rom. xi. 36.
9. Converts resemble little children in their growth. The longer children live, the stronger they grow; so believers grow in grace: 66 Ye,shall go forth and grow up as calves of the stall." Christians, are you not ashamed of yourselves that you are no taller, after so long standing, than you were the first year of your spiritual life? Shall we have ordinances and the various means of grace, and grow no better? "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day," Prov. iv. 18. If you grow not, perhaps it is because you are not a living member of Christ's body.
10. Little children are mostly of an humble and condescending disposition. "Whosoever shall humble himself," saith Christ," as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven," Matt. xviii. 4. The child of a prince will play with the child of a peasant, and will not mind high things such as crowns and sceptres. Thus it is with the children of God, they are content with their stations, and can say, My heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me," Psalm cxxxi. 1. A child of God will not make so much stir for the riches and honours of the world as other people; he is content with ordinary food and raiment: "Godliness with contentment is great gain" and St. Paul says, "I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content."-I have learned this lesson, that if God take all, I am content. A Christian will be of a condescending temper: he will "condescend to men of low estate," and "esteem other better than himself." He is not seeking after the dignities of this world, he is looking for a greater object, even the kingdom of heaven.
We now come to the use and application of our subject. If
converting grace makes persons become like little children, we may learn these four things:
1. That the power of God is unlimited. He that can change man's nature, so that old sinners, who have lived so long in sin, should be born again; that they who have scorned the saints and counted them a company of fools, should be made like them, praying and regarding other spiritual duties more than others; that they who have formerly pursued the world with such eagerness, should now cast it at their heels, become meek and patient in spirit, and, it may be, outstrip others in holiness that set out long before them :-he that can produce such wonderful changes, must indeed be unlimited in power. The Almighty, by his grace, can of a grey-headed man raise up a son to call him blessed, nothing is impossible with him; he can renew the heart, unite the soul to himself, and cleanse it from the filthiness of sin: "Such were some of you," that is, as filthy and polluted sinners as those before-mentioned, "but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God," 1 Cor. vi. 11.
2. We may learn, that the work of the ministry is very great. Nobody knows what we have to do, or the difficulty of that work in which we are engaged. A pious husband, that strives with an unconverted wife to do her soul good, may perceive something of the difficulty when he cannot by any means prevail. Gehazi, when sent to lay the prophet's staff upon the dead child's face, returned to his master, saying, "the child is not awakened:" so we go out and preach the word to poor, dead sinners, and are many times obliged to return to God and complain, "the child is not awaked," we can do no good, souls are not converted: but, however, God will pay the nurse though the child die, and if we are faithful to our work we shall not lose our reward, but receive it to the full another day: yet it is a great burden to labour for souls when they are not converted. You think it hard, when for preaching God's word we are imprisoned with thieves and rogues, as if we were not fit to go loose; but we have greater trials than these, when we labour to do good to souls, and see no good effects. You have great occasion to "pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified," 2 Thess. iii. 1.
3. If converting grace makes persons become like little children, then conversion is no half work. As a child has the same number of members as his father, so a child of God is renewed throughout, in body, soul, and spirit.
A half persuasion to be
good, God cannot abide; therefore, saith the apostle, "I pray
God sanctify you wholly." As the soul is in every part of the man, sees in the eye, hears in the ear, so converting grace changes the whole man. It makes a change not only in the mind, but also in the will and affections; it is not merely a moral change from profaneness to civility, or an external change to a form of godliness, but it changes men's dispositions and inclinations; "All things become new." Do you think heaven will be peopled with profane sinners, idle neglecters of duties, and vain talkers? O no! men must be fitted for heaven, or they will never arrive thither.
4. If true conversion makes men become like little children, "then there is reason to fear few people go to heaven." We may see young persons when they grow up a little, become proud and stubborn, and oftentimes the older they grow the worse; but Christ says, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Look to yourselves, for few find the way to heaven; because "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it," Matt. vii. 14. "The righteous scarcely are saved;" that is, with much difficulty, they endure many a bitter pang ere they come to heaven. Most men go in the broad road; they may easily go to hell; may sleep themselves there, and by forgetfulness of God and their souls may bring themselves to it; but the way to heaven is hard. You had need be jealous lest you should not be the Lord's. If times of calamity come, God will take care of his children, but he regards not others. If you profess to be Christians, and are not like God, he will not accept you, nor any thing you do, but will at last cast you into hell; if you resemble him, he will look after you and preserve you at all times, and in all conditions, so that persecutions shall not daunt nor hurt you. Examine, therefore, whether you be the children of God. by conversion: for " except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
DELIVERANCE FROM THE WORLD.
GALATIANS I. 4.
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.
ALL have but a time to live in this world, and when we have acted our part, must enter a state of happiness or woe to all eternity. Man being by nature in a sinful and miserable condition, by reason of the fall, is an enemy to God and holiness; but God hath given Christ, and Christ hath given himself to be our Saviour and Redeemer. There are several things from which Christ came to redeem us; from the wrath to come, the . captivity of Satan, the curse of the law, the dominion of sin, the condemnation of sin, the sting of death, the fear of death, the legal and ceremonial law, and from this present evil world.
To explain the words of our text a little, we may notice, First, The meritorious cause of our deliverance,-the undertaking of Christ, "he gave himself for our sins-the blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin," and "he is the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world." Secondly, He redeems us from this present evil world. It is not evil of itself originally, but accidentally. It is an evil world, as it respects both sin and suffering. It is in this world all the sins of men are committed; and O how great and cursed are the sins here committed! On earth it is men's pleasure to sin, but in hell is their torment. There will be no meat nor drink, no houses nor lands, no silver nor gold to delight men; it will be the time of their sorrow and misery. In this evil world, believers themselves are often overcome and borne down by sin. The present world is also a state of suffering. It is the saint's purgatory; all their hell is in this world, and they may despair of finding true happiness here, for one trouble comes after another. Thirdly, It is called this present world; and it is well for good men it is only a present world. "I would not live always." While God is building his church, he keeps up the stage of this world, but when the number of his elect shall be finished, he will then
take it down; it is but for a little while and the righteous shall be delivered, and have a joyful entrance into glory and happiness it will be but a little longer, and the pleasures, profits, and honours of this world will be at an end.
The doctrine contained in the text is, that Christ himself, and Christ alone, doth deliver all his people, and only his, from this present evil world.
In the discussion of this doctrine, we shall endeavour to shew, I. What this world is from which our Lord delivers his people? The world is sometimes taken for the whole frame of heaven and earth; sometimes figuratively for the men of the world, either all mankind, or the unregenerate part of the world. By the world, sometimes, the things of the world are meant ; these may be either good or evil in their nature. Some of the things of the world are evil occasionally, as abused by men. Now Christians are delivered from all these, "they are crucified to the world," and the world to them. We shall inquire,
II. Who they are that are thus delivered? The apostle says, us; this may signify the church and people of God collectively, that are called out of the world and set apart for God and his service. These are redeemed by Christ, he hath loved them and washed them from their sins in his own blood; they shall abide through all ages in spite of all opposition and persecution. It may also refer to every particular person in the church of Christ, every true Christian, who shall be kept from this present evil world.
III. Let us shew, what it is in the world from which Christ delivers his people. 1. He delivers them from the state of the world. Every man and woman is born in a state of sin and misery, of wrath and condemnation; "for the whole world lieth in wickedness," 1 John v. 19. The people of God have a new nature given them, and are not in the same condition as the world; they who were afar off from God and holiness, are "made nigh by the blood of Christ ;" they are taken out of the devil's family and are "made fellow-citizens of the saints and of the household of God." "This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk, not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them; because of the blindness of their heart," Eph. iv. 17, 18. And again, "The scripture hath concluded all under sin," but when the promise by faith is given to them that believe, they all become "the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus," Gal. iii. 22, 26. Though the righteous may be chastened in this world for their offences, they shall not be condemned with the world; for they are not of the world.