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Christ will say, "Depart from me; I never knew you, ye workers of iniquity."
It evidently appears, from this plain state of the case, that no true believer can possibly be an Antinomian. He cannot be speculatively such, for "he delights in the law of God after the inner man.” Rom. vii. 22. and holds with St. Paul, that he 1 Cor. ix. 21. is not without law to God, but actually evoμos, within the dominion, and subject to the preceptive authority of the moral law unto Christ; from principles of faith and love, and from a desire to glorify God and benefit his neighbour.-Much less can the true believer be a practical Antinomian. What we love we follow: "trahit sua quemque voluptas." He that loves the law of God, will aim at conformity to that law; for "how shall we, who are dead to sin, live any longer therein ?" Rom. vi. 2. yet it does not follow from this text, that God's converted people are sinners. They are, indeed, said to be dead to sin. But there is a total death, and a partial death. We experience the latter from the first moment of our regeneration. We shall not experience the former till mortality is swallowed up of life. "The spirits of just men are not made perfect in holiness till they ascend from the body to join the innumerable company of angels" that surround the throne, Heb. xii.
We shall now set down some of the reasons why no true believer can be a practical Antinomian, which are, first, one who truly believes, must antecedently to that faith have been spiritually" born of God;" and he that is born of God will do the works of God. They that are after the flesh," who are in a state of nature and unregeneracy, do mind and follow "the things of the flesh; but " they that are after the Spirit," who have been renewed by his effectual influence, cannot fail to mind and follow "the things of the Spirit," Rom. viii. 5. Where the Holy Ghost dwells, his gracious
fruits will infallibly and necessarily appear; and the fruit of the Spirit, the practical effect of his saving operation on the heart, is manifested in and by "all goodness and righteousness, and truth," Eph. v. 9. The regenerate elect are the peculiar workmanship of God, "created anew in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath foreordained that they should walk in, Eph. ii. 10. As, therefore, God's foreordination cannot be rendered void, and as the newcreating agency of his Spirit, by which faith is wrought, cannot but lead to holiness of life, it follows, that no true believer can be a practical Antinomian.
Secondly, One who truly believes, must have been convinced of sin: he has so far tasted of the evil and bitterness of iniquity, as to know and feel that sanctification constitutes the intrinsic dignity, and conduces to the supreme felicity of man; consequently, was it only from a principle of self-interest (to go no higher), he cannot but breathe the Psalmist's prayer, "Make me to go in the path of thy commandments, for therein is my desire," Psalm cxix. And the leading desire of the heart will ever, under such circumstances, influence the conduct of the life.
Thirdly, A true believer has "the love of God shed abroad in his heart," Rom. viii. which more forcibly than even the considerations of dignity and happiness, effectually, but sweetly constrains him to perform the good which his heavenly Father enjoins, and to shun the evil which his heavenly Father forbids. Hence by the apostle "love unfeigned" is connected with "pureness, long-suffering," and "the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left," 2 Cor. vi. 6, 7. In like manner, faith is expressly declared to "work by love," Gal. v. 6. not by servile dread, but by filial affection. As faith is the seed from whence evangelical morality springs, so love to God is the genial beam that awakens the powers of faith, calls them forth into
act, and adorns the conversation with the leaves and flowers and fruits of pure and undefiled religion. It is the work not of fear, but of faith; it is the labour not of legality, but of love, which indicate our "election of God," 1 Thess. i. 3, 4. Forgive the repetition; for it is a repetition of the apostle's own; it is "the work and labour of love," which God will not forget," Heb. vi. 10. If he did, he would be unrighteous, i. e. unjust to his own solemn, but absolutely gratuitous promise, whereby real grace, meliorating the heart and shining in the life, stands indissolubly, yet most freely connected with the neverending happiness of heaven.
It is evident from the above remarks, deduced from clear and express testimonies of inspiration, that love to God (which can only result from a sense of his prior love to us, 1 John iii. 1. and iv. 10. 19.) is the operative, producing principle of acceptable obedience. It is also the producing principle of acceptable sufferings for his sake. "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love, and of a sound mind;" on which remark the apostle rests the following exhortation: "be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, but be partaker of the afflictions of the gospel, according to the power of God," 2 Tim. i. 7, 8. Now, the graces of faith and love being inseparable, it follows, that every true believer is also a lover of Christ. Where this love exists, it is crowned and evidenced by the assemblage both of active and of passive virtues.
Even Dr. Young could sing,
"Talk they of morals?" &c.
And an infinitely superior authority has expressly decided, that "love to God and man, is the fulfilling of the law, Rom. xiii. 10. i. e. love, when real, will put us on the vigorous and persevering discharge of every moral duty; consequently, as before, no true believer can be a practical Antinomian.
A multitude of additional arguments might be alleged to the same effect, but I shall at present confine myself to the following, viz. That a true believer cannot be a practical Antinomian, because he prizes and wishes to cultivate communion with God, as the sublimest privilege and enjoyment which it is possible to inherit below. But all wilful and allowed deviations from virtue have an innate tendency to interrupt that enjoyment, and to intercept the light of God's countenance; nay, to spread a screen of separation between us and our views of Christ, to darken our evidences, to deaden our joys, and to render the soul a counterpart to Ezekiel's roll, which "was written within and without, with lamentation, and mourning, and woe."
Finally, That person must know little indeed of experimental religion, who can suppose that any pleasures or profits of sin, or all of them together, can compensate for one moment's loss of intercourse with God, as reconciled to us in his dear Son.
REV. vii. 14, 15.
"These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb: therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple."
THE scripture particularly sets forth these three things, viz. 1. What we are by nature. 2. What we must be made by grace: and, 3. What those, who are possessed of grace, shall be in glory.
St. John had a blessed vision of the latter; of the glory of the saints in light: and of the delightful employ, in which the spirits of just men made perfect, are engaged. Their number exceeded the utmost arithmetic of angels and men: yet are they all minutely numbered by that omniscient Being, who wrote their names in his book; and whose praise they celebrate, in ceaseless songs of adoration, harmony, and love. They stand before the throne, and before the Lamb; clothed with white robes, and palms of immortal victory in their hands.
Do we ask, "Who are these, that are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? An heavenly intelligence will inform us. Pause then, my soul, a moment. Fix thy meditation on the solemnly delightful subject; and may it have a happy tendency to raise thy affections to things above!
1. They came out of great tribulation: X INS θλίψεως της μεγάλης. The words signify, very grievous oppression, affliction, and trouble, of every kind. The distresses of God's people are various, and flow