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much upon what they call their superior “ light,” and, like the Pharisee, trust in themselves that they are righteous, and despise others; but who, instead of walking as children of the light, have, secretly if not openly, too much “fellowship with the w works of darkness.” But," little children, “ let no man deceive you ; he alone that “ doeth righteousness is righteous, even as “ CHRIST is righteous; and he that commit" eth sin is of the devil, for the devil sin. “ neth from the beginning.” There can be no union between a true faith, and any wickedness in thought, word, or deed. The law of Christ is holy, just, and pure; and will give no sanction to the least degree of impiety, dishonesty, uncleanness, or immorality, “My Son, give me oliy heart," is the language of our blessed LORD ; not our lips, because it will cost us nothing to make professions; not our outward gestures, for we may kneel at the sacrament, and lift up our hands at the morning and evening sacrifice, without feeling a particle of real religion ; but, “ give me thy heart,” says he, the seat of your alfections and feelings; purify this with the holy flame of religion ; root out from this “all evil thoughts, mur66 ders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false “ witness, blasphemies, and such like;" and
implant therein “ love, joy, peace, long“ suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, “ meekness, and temperance:" then will I acknowledge you for my disciples indeed : then shall my religion save your souls alive. Every pretence, indeed, to the character of a christian, without the voucher of a good life, is not only hypocrisy, but it is also a mockery of God, and a direct rebellion against the authority of our Saviour ; since it is adding to the influence of that wicked spirit, to overcome whom Jesus CHRIST came into the world; for, "for this purpose the Son “ of God was manifested, to destroy the " works of the Devil.”
What these works of the Devil are, and in what manner our blessed LORD has destroyed them, I will endeavour to explain to you in the remainder of my discourse. “ The works of the Devil,” is an expression that may be easily understood, from other expressions of a like nature in the New Testament. When our Saviour was asked by the Jews, “ what they must do to work " the work of God;" it is clear, that the work of God signifies such a behaviour as is pleasing to Him, and consistent with his commandments. So, to do the works of “ Abraham," is to imitate the conduct and faith of Abraham : “ If ye were Abraham's
“ children," says Christ to these same Jews, " ye would do the works of Abraham :" in other words, you would tread in his steps, and be, like him, examples of faith and good works. From this comparison of like expressions, it appears, that “the works of " the Devil” are all those bad actions, which mankind, willingly giving themselves up to his delusions and temptations, commit against the law of God and the checks of conscience ; every sort of irreverence to their Maker ; of unkindness, want of charity, or dishonesty, to their fellow-creatures ; and of vice, impurity, debauchery, or foolishness in their own persons.
They are all suggested by the Devil, who “ was a sinner “ from the beginning ;" who first brought sin into the world, and has ever since been busied in making mankind the servants of it.
To destroy these works, as well as the father of them, was the great purpose for which Jesus CHRIST was manifested in the flesh. Now this destruction may be considered of a two-fold nature : one, only partial, or to a certain extent, which the religion of Jesus Christ is now accomplishing in the world ; the other, final and universal, which CHRIST will accomplish at his second coming, when he will put an entire end to the empire and influence of the Devil; crush
and destroy sin altogether ; triumph over death and hell ; and bind the great dragon, the old serpent, the enemy of God and man, in chains and darkness for ever and
But it is to the first meaning of CHRIST's destroying the works of the Devil, that we must direct our present attention ; or, in other words, to the power which he has conferred upon us, by his gospel and his grace, to bear those trials, to escape those spiritual dangers, and to resist those temptations, by which the Devil is continually endeavouring to lead us from our duty, and to ruin our souls.
Sad, indeed, would be our case, if we were left without a lamp to guide our feet, amidst the many and great dangers in which we are placed ; without a rule by which we might be directed how to please God, and to escape from everlasting perdition. But our inerciful Saviour hath not dealt so hardly with us; he has given us a lamp for our feet, and a rule for our conduct; and marked out, in his gospel, a strait and easy path, which, if we keep within it, without turning to the right or to the left, will conduct us safely through every spiritual danger, and lead us at last into eternal life. As this gospel law is thus direct and safe, so also is it clear and pl&in. “ He that runneth may read ; and the way.
faring men, though fools, need not err 'therein." So that ye need not say, “ who “shall ascend into Heaven, to fetch it " from thence ? or who shall descend into “ the deep, to fetch it from thence ? for it “is nigh unto thee in thy mouth, and in
thy heart.” Do this, and live--do this, and die
is the plain and simple language which it speaks ; so that complaints of not having a sufficient knowledge of our duty would be as unreasonable, as to shut our eyes in broad sunshine, and then lament that we had no light. If you, my friends, who live in a country where the pure gospel of Jesus Christ is professed; where the church is open for the worshippers of God; where the Bible is spread before the poorest of the community, and where the word of God is preached by his ministers, in simplicity and truth, to those who are too ignorant to search the scriptures for themselves; if
you, I say, refuse to avail yourselves of such a blessed help, to assist you in destroying the works of the Devil, and-leading the life of christians, you will be equally without pardon and without excuse; you will put a seal to your own condemnation; and be lost for ever, with this addi