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Know ye not that ye are the temples of Satan, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience? Does sin reign in you, or does Christ? What is your leisure time devoted to? What are your affections set upon? Is it upon vanity, pleasure, the lusts of the flesh 1 While Christ and his great salvation are neglected, the soul forgotten, sin indulged, prayer omitted, religion despised,—O, sirs, your case is dreadful! You may, perhaps, laugh at all this; you may even say there is no such being as the devil; that the Scriptures speak in a figurative way, and use strong eastern figures; but you may as well deny that you have a rational spirit within you, as deny the existence of good and evil spirits without you. Our Lord teaches us daily to pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;" or, as it might be rendered—the evil one. O that you might put up that prayer from your heart! O that you had a wish to be delivered from his power!—for, if you should live and die under it, you must hear that awful sentence from the mouth of Christ, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels!" Horrible company !—frightful association! Yet, how just! Sinners hearkened to his temptations, and they must partake in his torments. His works they would do, his wages they must receive. In this life they joined with the devils against God and holiness; in the other, they must be shut up with them for ever. O that men would consider this in time; renounce the devil and his works, and open the door of their hearts to the Lord! Why should men choose that company in this world which they abhor in the next? Those who hate the company of the religious now, will not be troubled with it hereafter; but, as ungodly company is their delight now, they will have a miserable eternity to pass with it; and let those who foolishly invocate the devil to take tnem, soberly consider that the company so often invited will be terrible when it comes.
But, O believer in Jesus! hail, thou art happily delivered! Adore and love the great Deliverer. Had not he interposed, had he not conquered Satan for thee on the cross, and in thee by his Spirit, thou hadst still been his wretched vassal. When Jesus had cast the devil out of a man who had been miserably treated by him, he was so transported with love and gratitude, that he besought him "that he might be with him" (Luke viii. 38.); he longed to enjoy his company, as Mary Magdalene, and others whom he had healed did; but our Lord saw fit to deny him this request, and ordered him "to return to his own house, and show what great things God had done for him." Go, Christian, and do likewise. Like him, "publish throughout the whole city how great things Jesus has done for thee."
"The castle of the human heart,
Strong in its native sin,
By him who dwells within.
"Thus Satan for a season reigns,
And keeps his goods in peace;
Nor wishes a release.
"But Jesus, stronger far than he,
In his appointed hour,
From the usurper's power.
"The rebel soul, that once withstood
The Saviour's kindest call,
To serve him with her all."
COLOSSIANS III. 11.
But Christ is All.
THE necessity of having some religion is generally admitted, even by the most ignorant and profane. All agree that we ought to be religious; but what true religion consists in, is very much disputed. Eveiy man forms a system for himself, and then flatters himself it must be right. But as there are various schemes, which contradict each other, we are sure they cannot all be right. How then shall we judge whether they be right or wrong? I answer, The Gospel is our only rule. Bring every thing called Religion to this touchstone. Bring it to this text, " Christ is all;" that is, in the Christian religion, Christ is all. He is the sum and substance of it; the beginning and the end of it. St. Paul is here speaking of conduct agreeable to the Christian profession; he is recommending to the Colossians the mortification of all corrupt affections; to "put off the old man of sin," and to "put on the new man" of grace; for a true Christian is " a new creature;" and in this state of renovation, or under the present Gospel dispensation, he says, " There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but "Christ is all, and in all:" that is, under the Gospel, God hath no partial respect to persons on account of their country, their religious forms, customs, or situations in life: Christ has taken away all partition-walls; and men of all sorts stand on the same level before God, both as
VOL. IV. D
to duty and privilege; and for this reason Christ is the all of a Christian, let him be who he may, Jew or Gentile, rich or poor, master or servant,—his whole salvation, hope, and happiness, from first to last. The words then teach us this grand truth—
Li the religion of the Gospel, Christ is all.
This is the general language of Scripture: Whatever we want in religion, we must have it from Jesus. So St. Paul speaks, 1 Cor. i. 30, *' Christ is made unto us, wisdom, righteousness, solidification, and redemption". We are ignorant and foolish in the things of God; Christ, by his Word and Spirit, is made wisdom to us. We are guilty sinners, liable to God's wrath; he is made righteousness to us; he is our great atonement and sacrifice. We are depraved and corrupt; he is made sanctification to us; he is the source of all grace; and out of his fulness we receive grace for grace. We must die and see corruption; but if united to him, he shall raise us up again, and deliver us from the power of the grave, and so be made redemption to us. Thus is he our all, that "no flesh should glory in his presence," but that, as "Christ is all," Christ may have all the glory.
Whatever we want in religion we have in Christ. To be accepted of God, to be sanctified in heart and life, and to be made happy here and hereafter, are the great things we seek in religion. In Jesus we have them all.
I. Jesus Christ is all in our Justification. We are sinners. We have broken the holy law of God; and by so doing we have exposed ourselves to the dreadful curse of the law, and to the terrible wrath of an offended God. However easy and secure ignorant sinners may be, it is a certain truth hat sin renders us liable to wrath. Fornication and uncleanness, drunkenness and covetousness, shut men out of the kingdom of God. "Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." Ephes. v. 3. 6. And Oh, who can tell the power of his anger!" It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
Now, when the blessed God intends mercy for a sinner, he opens his eyes to behold his true condition. He perceives that he has to do with a most holy God, who hates sin, and will certainly punish it. He sees plainly that he is a sinner, a great sinner, a rebel against God. He is alarmed, and justly too. His fears are well grounded; and in the manner of persons terrified at the approach of danger, he cries out, "What shall I do to be saved? Is salvation possible? How may I obtain it? I would fly from the wrath to come; but whither must I fly?"
To a person in this state the Gospel is welcome indeed! It affords glad tidings of great joy. It sets before the distressed sinner just exactly what he wants: a Saviour, mighty and ready to save;— to " save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him."
Some, indeed, who are under concern of soul, do not at first see that Christ must be all in their coming to God. Sensible of sin, and afraid of hell, *' they go about for a time to establish their own righteousness." "I have been a wicked sinner," saith one, "but I will reform my life; and if I do my best, will not that suffice? I will be sorry for what is past, and amend in future. I will be religious, devout, and charitable; will not God then accept me?"
I answer by another question: Is this making Christ all? No; it is making him nothing. Christ alone is a sinner's righteousness. See what the Scriptures say on this head.
Is the wrath of God due to sin ?" Christ hath delivered us from the wrath to come." 1 Thess. i. 10. Does the holy law denounce a curse against every