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THE DOCTRINE OF SANCTIFICATION:
1 Thess. iv. 3. This is the will of God even your sanctifi. cation.
ALTHOUGH it is well to be familiar with the most comprehensive views which we can take of the nature and designs of the christian system, there is also an advantage in setting ourselves at times to the examination of its particular parts. Considered as a whole, there is perfect unity, not only in the system itself, but in all its operations and fruits; but it is the unity of a body consisting of many members, or of a building composed of different stones. The parts are related; and each one occupies a place in the formation of the same great and consistent whole. But still, as compared among themselves, there is a difference between them. And the more accurately we view them in detail, the more we shall appreciate them in their combined existence and in their several bearings upon the great end which they are intended to secure.
No attentive reader of the Bible can fail to notice, that among the parts which go to make up the system of faith and duty there revealed, a prominent place is assigned to what is called SANCTIFICATION. - This is the will of God," says the Apostle, “even your sanctification." " Sanctify them through thy truth,” says the Saviour, “thy word is truth.” Heaven is represented as “an inheritance among them that are sanctified," and all true christians are described as “them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus." Our first inquiry then shall be, What is SANCTIFICATION, as to its general nature, and in the relation which it sustains to the other parts of the christian system?
In regard to the MEANING OF THE WORD, we may say, that, while it has various significations in Scripture, there is no dispute as to its import in the passages which are quoted above.—Sometimes, and especially in the phraseology of the Old Testament, to sanctify is nothing more than to set apart a person or thing from a common to a sacred use by an external and visible dedication, in which sense, the Jewish Temple and Priesthood, with all the furniture of the former and all the garments of the latter, were said to be holy. They had no more real sanctity than other persons and things; but they were relatively holy, inasmuch as they were formally consecrated to the worship and service of God. In the New Testament, however, the word is generally used with an exclusive reference to persons; and, in its phraseology, to sanctify them is to make them really holy. This is the true and proper sense of the word; and we are thus to understand it in all those connexions in which it is used to describe the great change which must pass upon the moral character of man before he can become a finished subject of the scheme of redemption by the Gospel of Christ.
The NECESSITY of such a change as this word imports, arises from the fact that the state in which the Gospel finds us is an unholy state; we are defiled, and need to be cleansed; we are polluted, and need to be purified. And this fact will come before us in its true relations, if we advert for a moment to the two principal ways in which sin has affected us. In the first place, it has exposed us to punishment; and has thereby affected us relatively—that is, in the relations in which we stand to the law and government of God. Instead of regarding us as innocent, he views us as guilty; and, instead of having a title to his favor, we are liable to his wrath both here and hereafter. And, in the second place, it has brought our nature into a state of depravity or moral disorder, and has thereby affected us inherently. It has corrupted our