The GOSPEL TRUTH
(39.) Another relation which Christ sustains to the believer, and which it is indispensable that he should recognize and spiritually apprehend as a condition of entire sanctification is that of "Christ within us."
"Know ye not," says the Apostle" that Jesus Christ is in you except ye be reprobates."--2 Cor. 13:5. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit if the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."--Ro. 8:9,10. "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you."--Gal. 4:19. "Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."--Gal. 2:20. Now it has often appeared to me that many know Christ only as an outward Christ, as one who lived many hundred years ago, who died, and arose, and ascended on high, and who now lives in heaven. They read all this in the bible, and in a certain sense they believe it. That is they admit it to be true historically. But have they Christ risen within them? living within the veil of their own flesh and there ever making intercession for them and in them? This is quite another thing. Christ in heaven making intercession is one thing; this is a great and glorious truth. But Christ in the soul, there also living "to make intercession for us with groanings, that can not be uttered," is another thing. The Spirit that dwells in the saints is frequently in the Bible represented as the Spirit of Christ and as Christ himself. Thus in the passage just quoted from the eight of Romans, the apostle represents the Spirit of God that dwells in the saints as the Spirit of Christ and as Christ himself. Ro. 8:9,10; "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness." This is common in the Bible. The Spirit of Christ then, or the real Deity of Christ dwells in the truly spiritual believer. But this fact needs to be spiritually apprehended and kept distinctly and continually in view. Christ not only in heaven, but Christ within us, as really and truly inhabiting our bodies as we do, as really in us as we are in ourselves, is the teaching of the bible, and must be spiritually apprehended by a divine, personal, and inward revelation, to secure our abiding in him. We not only need the real presence of Christ within us, but we need his manifested presence to sustain us in hours of conflict. Christ may be really present within us as he is without us, without our apprehending his presence. His manifesting himself to us as with and in us is by himself conditionated upon our faith and obedience. His manifesting himself within us and thus assuring us of his constant and real presence, confirms and establishes the confidence and obedience of the soul. To know Christ after the flesh or merely historically as an outward Savior, is of no spiritual avail. We must know him as an inward Savior, as Jesus risen and reigning in us, as having arisen and established his throne in our hearts, and as having written and established the authority of his law there. The old man dethroned and crucified, Christ risen within us and united to us in such a sense that we "twain are one spirit," is the true and only condition and secret of entire sanctification. O that this were understood. Why, many ministers talk and write about sanctification just as if they supposed that it consisted in and resulted from a mere self-originated formation of holy habits. What infinite blindness this for spiritual guides! True sanctification consists in entire consecration to God; but be it ever remembered that this consecration is induced and perpetuated by the Spirit of Christ. The fact that Christ is in us needs to be so clearly apprehended by us as to annihilate the conception of Christ as only afar off, in heaven. The soul needs so to apprehend this truth as to turn within and not look without for Christ, so that it will naturally seek communion with him in the closet of the soul, or within, and not let the thoughts go in search of him without. Christ promised to come and take up his abode with his people, to manifest himself unto them, &c., that the Spirit whom he would send, (which was his own Spirit as abundantly appears from the bible) should abide with them forever, that he should be with them and in them. Now all this language needs to be spiritually apprehended, and Christ needs to be recognized as by his Spirit as really present with us as we are with ourselves, and really as near to us as we are to ourselves, and as infinitely more interested in us than we are in ourselves. This spiritual recognition of Christ present with and in us, has an overpowering charm in it. The soul rests in him and lives, and walks, and has its being in his light, and drinks at the fountain of his love. It drinks also of the river of his pleasures. It enjoys his peace, and leans upon his strength.
Many professors have not Christ formed within them. The Galatian christians had fallen from Christ. Hence the apostle says: "My little children of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you." Have you a spiritual apprehension of what this means?
(40.) We must spiritually know Christ as "our Strength," as a condition of entire sanctification. Says the Psalmist Ps. 18:1: "I will love thee, O Lord, my strength;" and again 19:14: "O Lord my strength;" and again, 31:4: "Pull me out of the net, for thou art my strength;" and again, 43:2: "Thou art the God of my strength;" and again, 59:17: "To thee, O my strength, will I sing;" and again, 144:1: "Blessed be the Lord my strength." In Is. 27:5: "The Lord says, Let him take hold of my strength and he shall make peace with me." Jeremiah says, Jer. 16:19: "O Lord, my Strength." Hab. 3:9: "God is my Strength." In 2 Cor. 12:9; Christ says to Paul, "My strength is made perfect in weakness." We are commanded to be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might, that is, to appropriate his strength by faith. We are exhorted to take hold on his strength, and doing this is made a condition of making peace with God. That God is in some sense our strength, is generally admitted. But I fear it is rare to apprehend the true spiritual sense in which he is our strength. Many take refuge, not in his strength by faith, but in the plea that he is their strength, and that they have none of their own while they continue in sin. But this class of persons neither truly understand nor believe that God is their strength. It is with all who hold this language and yet live in sin, an opinion, a tenet, a say-so, but by no means a spiritually apprehended and embraced truth. If the real meaning of this language were spiritually apprehended and embraced with the heart, the soul would no more live in sin. It would no more be overcome with temptation while appropriating Christ than God would be overcome.
The conditions of spiritually apprehending Christ as our strength are,
[1.] The spiritual apprehension of our own weakness, its nature and degree.
[2.] The revelation of Christ to us as our strength by the Holy Spirit.
When these revelations are truly made, and self-dependence is therefore forever annihilated, the soul comes to understand wherein its strength lies. It renounces forever its own and relies wholly on the strength of Christ. This it does not in the antinomian, do-nothing, sit-still sense of the term; but on the contrary it actively takes hold of Christ's strength and uses it in doing all the will of God. It does not sit down and do nothing, but on the contrary it takes hold of Christ's strength and sets about every good word and work as one might lean upon the strength of another and go about doing good. The soul that understands and does this as really holds on to and leans upon Christ as a helpless man would lean upon the arm or shoulder of a strong man to be borne about in some benevolent enterprise. It is not a state of quietism. It is not a mere opinion, a sentiment, a humbug. It is, with the sanctified soul, one of the clearest realities in existence that he leans upon and uses the strength of Christ. He knows himself to be constantly and perseveringly active in thus availing himself of the strength of Christ; and being perfectly weak in himself or perfectly emptied of his own strength, Christ's strength is made perfect in his weakness. This renunciation of his own strength is not a denial of his natural ability in any such sense as virtually to charge God with requiring what he is unable to perform. It is a complete recognition of his ability were he disposed to do all that God requires of him, and implies a thorough and honest condemnation of himself for not using his powers as God requires. But while it recognizes its natural liberty or ability and its consequent obligation, it at the same time clearly and spiritually sees that it has been too long the slave of lust ever to assert or to maintain its spiritual supremacy as the master instead of the slave of appetite. It sees so clearly and affectingly that the will or heart is so weak in the presence of temptation that there is no hope of its maintaining its integrity unsupported by strength from Christ, that it renounces forever its dependence on its own strength and casts itself wholly and forever on the strength of Christ. Christ's strength is appropriated only upon condition of a full renunciation of one's own. And Christ's strength is made perfect in the soul of man only in its entire weakness; that is, only in the absence of all dependence on its own strength. Self must be renounced in every respect in which we appropriate Christ. He will not share the throne of the heart with us, nor will he be put on by us except in so far forth as we put off ourselves. Lay aside all dependence on yourself in every respect in which you would have Christ. Many reject Christ by depending on self, and seem not to be aware of their error.
Now, do let it be understood and constantly borne in mind that this self-renunciation and taking hold on Christ as our strength, is not a mere speculation, an opinion, an article of faith, a profession, but must be one of the most practical realities in the world. It must become to the mind an omnipresent reality in so much that you shall no more attempt any thing in your own strength than a man who never could walk without crutches would attempt to arise and walk without thinking of them. To such an one his crutches become a part of himself. They are his legs. He as naturally uses them as we do the members of our body. He no more forgets them or attempts to walk without them than we attempt to walk without our feet. Now just so it is with one who spiritually understands his dependence on Christ. He knows he can walk and that he must walk, but he as naturally uses the strength of Christ in all his duties as the lame man uses his crutches. It is as really an omnipresent reality to him that he must lean upon Christ as it is to the lame man that he must lean upon his crutch. He learns on all occasions to keep hold of the strength of Christ and does not even think of doing any thing without him. He knows that he need not attempt any thing in his own strength; and if he should, he knows it will result in failure and disgrace just as really and as well as the man without feet or legs knows that for him to attempt to walk without his crutch would insure a fall. This is a great, and, I fear, a rarely learned lesson with professed christians, and yet how strange that it should be so, since, in every instance since the world began attempts to walk without Christ have resulted in complete and instantaneous failure. All profess to know their own weakness and their remedy, and yet how few give evidence of knowing either.
(41.) Christ is also the Keeper of the soul; and in this relation he must be revealed to and embraced by each soul as the condition of its abiding in Christ, or, which is the same thing, as a condition of entire sanctification. Ps. 121: "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth. He will not suffer thy foot to be moved he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is thy keeper; the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall preserve thy going out, and thy coming in, from this time forth, and even for evermore." This Psalm with a great many other passages of scripture represent God as exerting an efficient influence in preserving the soul from falling. This influence he exerts, of course not physically or by compulsion, but it is and must be a moral influence, that is, an influence entirely consistent with our own free agency. But it is efficient in the sense of being a prevailing influence.
But in this relation as in all others, Christ must be apprehended and embraced. The soul must see and well appreciate its dependence in this respect and commit itself to Christ in this relation. It must cease from its own works and from expecting to keep itself and commit itself to Christ and abide in this state of committal. Keeping the soul implies watching over it to guard it against being overcome with temptation. This is exactly what the christian needs. His enemies are the world, the flesh, and Satan. By these he has been enslaved. To them he has been consecrated. In their presence he is all weakness in himself. He needs a keeper to accompany him, just as a reformed inebriate sometimes needs one to accompany and strengthen him in scenes of temptation. The long established habitudes of the drunkard render him weak in the presence of his enemy, the intoxicating bowl. So the christian's long cherished habits of self-indulgence render him all weakness and irresolution if left to himself in the presence of excited appetite or passion. As the inebriate needs a friend and brother to warn and expostulate to suggest considerations to strengthen his purposes, so the sinner needs the Parakletos to warn and suggest considerations to sustain his fainting resolutions. This Christ has promised to do; but this like all the promises is conditionated upon our appropriating it to our own use by faith. Let it, then, be ever borne m mind that as our keeper, the Lord must be spiritually apprehended and cordially embraced and depended upon as a condition of entire sanctification. This must not be a mere opinion. It must be a thorough and honest closing in with Christ in this relation.
Brother, do you know what it is to depend on Christ in this relation in such a sense that you as naturally hold fast to him as a child would cling to the hand or the neck of a father when in the midst of perceived danger? Have you seen your need of a keeper? If so, have you fled to Christ in this relation? As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him. that is, abide in him and he will abide in you and keep you from falling. The apostle certifies or rather assumes that he is able to keep you from falling. "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy--to the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever, amen."--Jude 24,25. Paul also says: "I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day."
(42.) The soul also needs to know Christ, not merely as a master but as a Friend. Jno. 15:13--15: "Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."
Christ took the utmost pains to inspire his disciples with the most implicit confidence in him. He does the same still. Most christians seem not to have apprehended the condescension of Christ sufficiently to appreciate fully, not to say at all, his most sincere regard for them. They seem afraid to regard him in the light of a friend, one whom they may approach on all occasions with the utmost confidence and holy familiarity, one who takes a lively interest in every thing that concerns them, one who sympathizes with them in all their trials and feels more tenderly for them than we do for our nearest earthly friends. Observe, what emphasis he gives to this relation or to the strength of his friendship. He lays down his life for his friends. Now imagine yourself to have an earthly friend who loved you so much as to lay down his life for you; to die, too, for a crime which you had committed against himself. Were you assured of the strength of his friendship, and did you know withal his ability to help you in all circumstances to be absolutely unlimited, with what confidence would you unbosom yourself to him! How would you rest in his friendship and protection! Now even christians are slow to apprehend Christ in the relation of a friend. They stand in so much awe of him that they fear to take home to their hearts the full import and reality of the relation when applied to Christ. Yet Christ takes the greatest pains to inspire them with the fullest confidence in his undying and most exalted friendship.
I have often thought that many professed christians had never really and spiritually apprehended Christ in this relation. This accounts for their depending upon him so little in seasons of trial. They do not realize that he truly feels for and sympathizes with them, that is, his feeling for and sympathy with them, his deep interest in and pity for them, are not apprehended spiritually as a reality. Hence they stand aloof, or approach him only in words or at most with deep feeling and desire, but not in the unwavering confidence that they shall receive the things which they ask of him. But to prevail they must believe. "Let not that man that wavereth think to receive any thing of the Lord." The real, and deep, and abiding affection of Christ for us and his undying interest in us personally, must come to be a living and an omnipresent reality to our souls, to secure our own abiding in faith and love in all circumstances. There is perhaps no relation of Christ in which we need more thoroughly to know him than this.
This relation is admitted in words by almost every body, yet duly realized and believed by almost no body. Yet how infinitely strange that Christ should have given so high evidence of his love to and friendship for us, and that we should be so slow of heart to believe and realize it! But until this truth is really and spiritually apprehended and embraced, the soul will find it impossible to fly to him in seasons of trial with implicit confidence in his favor and protection. But let Christ be really apprehended and embraced as a friend who has laid down his life for us and would not hesitate to do it again, were it needful--and rely upon it, our confidence in him will secure our abiding in him.
(43.) Christ is also to be regarded and embraced in the relation of an EIder Brother: Heb. 2:10--18; "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren; saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same: that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people: for in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." Matt. 28:10:--"Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren, that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me." John 20:17:--" Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." Rom. 8:29:--"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren." These and other passages present Christ in the relation of a brother. So he is not merely a friend, but a brother. He is a brother possessing the attributes of God. And is it not of great importance that in this relation we should know and embrace him? It would seem as if all possible pains were taken by him to inspire us with the most implicit confidence in him. He is not ashamed to call us brethren; and shall we refuse or neglect to embrace him in this relation and avail ourselves of all that is implied in it? I have often thought that many professed christians really regard the relations of Christ as only existing in name and not at all in reality and fact. Am I not a man and a brother? he says to the desponding and tempted soul. Himself hath said, A brother is made for adversity. He is the first-born among many brethren, and yet we are to be heirs with him, heirs of God and joint heirs with him to all the infinite riches of the Godhead. "O fools and slow of heart" not to believe and receive this brother to our most implicit and eternal confidence. He must be spiritually revealed, apprehended, and embraced in this relation as a condition of our experiencing his fraternal truthfulness.
Do let me inquire whether many christians do not regard such language as pathetic and touching, but after all as only a figure of speech, as a pretence rather than as a serious and infinitely important fact. Is the Father really our Father? Then Christ is our brother, not in a figurative sense merely, but literally and truly our brother. My brother? Ah truly, and a brother made for adversity. O Lord, reveal thyself fully to our souls in this relation.
(44.) Christ is the True Vine and we are the branches. And do we know him in this relation, as our parent stock, as the fountain from whom we receive our momentary nourishment and life? This union between Christ and our souls is formed by implicit faith in him. By faith the soul leans on him, feeds upon him, and receives a constantly sustaining influence from him. John 15:1--8:--"I am the true vine, and my father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples." Now it is important for us to understand what it is to be in Christ in the sense of this passage. It certainly is to be so united to him as to receive as real and as constant spiritual support and nourishment from him as the branch does natural nourishment from the vine. "If a man abide not in me," he says, "he is cast forth as a branch and is withered." Now to be in him implies such a union as to keep us spiritually alive and fresh. There are many withered professors in the church. They abide not in Christ. Their religion is stale. They can speak of former experience. They can tell how they once knew Christ, but every spiritual mind can see that they are branches fallen off. They have no fruit. Their leaves are withered, their bark is dried; and they are just fit to be gathered and cast into the fire. O, this stale, last year's religion. Why will not professors that live on an old experience, understand that they are cast off branches, and that their withered, fruitless, lifeless, loveless, faithless, powerless condition testifies to their faces and before all men that they are fit fuel for the flames?
It is also of infinite importance that we should know and spiritually apprehend the conditions of abiding in Christ in the relation of a branch to a vine. We must apprehend our various necessities and his infinite fullness, and lay hold upon and appropriate the whole that is implied in these relations to our own souls and wants as fast as he is revealed. Thus we shall abide in him and receive all the spiritual nourishment we need. But unless we are thus taught by the Spirit, and unless we thus believe, we shall not abide in him, nor he in us. If we do thus abide in him, he says we shall bear much fruit. Much fruit, then, is evidence that we do abide in him, and fruitlessness is positive evidence that we do not abide in him. "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you." Great prevalence in prayer, then, is an evidence that we abide in him. But a want of prevalence in prayer is conclusive evidence that we do not abide in him. No man sins while he properly abides in Christ. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, and behold all things are become new."
But let it not be forgotten that we have something to do to abide in Christ. "Abide in me," says Christ: this is required of us. We neither at first come to sustain the relation of a branch to Christ without our own activity, nor do or can we abide in him without a constant cleaving to him by faith. The will must of necessity be ever alive. It must cleave to Christ or to something else. It is one thing to hold this relation in theory, and an infinitely different thing to understand it spiritually and really cleave to Christ in the relation of the constant fountain of spiritual life.
(45.) Christ is also the "Fountain opened in the house of David for sin and uncleanness;" Zec. 13:1. Christ, (let it be ever remembered, and spiritually understood and embraced,) is not only a justifying, but also a purifying Savior. His name is Jesus because he saves his people from their sins.
(46.) As Jesus, therefore, he must be spiritually known and embraced. Jesus, Savior! He is called Jesus or Savior, we are informed, because he saves his people, not only from hell, but also from their sins. He saves from hell only upon condition of his saving from sin. He has no Savior, who is not in his own experience saved from sin? Of what use is it to call Jesus Lord and Savior unless he is really and practically acknowledged as our Lord and as our Savior from sin. Shall we call him Lord, Lord, and do not the things which he says? Shall we call him Savior, and refuse to so embrace him as to be saved from our sins?
(47.) We must know him as one whose blood cleanses us from all sin. Heb. 9:14:--"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" 1 Peter 1:19:--"But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." 1 Peter 1:2:--"Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." Rev. 1:5:--"Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." When the shedding of Christ's blood is rightly apprehended and embraced, when his atonement is properly understood and received by faith, it cleanses the soul from all sin; or rather, I should say, that when Christ is received as one to cleanse us from sin by his blood, we shall know what James B. Taylor meant when he said, "I have been into the fountain and am clean," and what Christ meant when he said "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." "Who hath loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood." "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you and ye shall be clean, from all your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you. I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." It is of the last importance that language like this, relating to our being cleansed from sin by Christ should be elucidated to our souls by the Holy Spirit, and embraced by faith, and Christ truly revealed in this relation. Nothing but this can save us from sin. But this will fully and effectually do the work. It will cleanse us from all sin. It will cleanse us from all our filthiness and from all our idols. It will make us "CLEAN."
(48.) "His name shall be called wonderful." No inward or audible exclamation is more common to me of late years than the term Wonderful. When contemplating the nature, the character, the offices, the relations, the salvation of Christ, I find myself often mentally and frequently audibly exclaiming, WONDERFUL. My soul is filled with wonder, love, and praise, as I am led by the Holy Spirit to apprehend Christ sometimes in one and sometimes in another relation as circumstances and trials develop the need I have of him. I am more and more "astonished at the doctrine of the Lord" and at the Lord himself from year to year. I have come to the conclusion that there is no end to this either in time or in eternity. He will no doubt to all eternity continue to make discoveries of himself to his intelligent creatures that shall cause them to exclaim "WONDERFUL." I find my wonder more and more excited from one stage of christian experience to another. Christ is indeed wonderful contemplated in every point of view, as God, as man, as God-man, mediator. Indeed I hardly know in which of his many relations he appears most wonderful when in that relation he is revealed by the Holy Spirit. All, all, is wonderful when he stands revealed to the soul in any of his relations. The soul needs to be so acquainted with him as to excite and constantly keep awake its wonder and adoration. Contemplate Christ in any point of view and the wonder of the soul is excited. Look at any feature of his character, at any department of the plan of salvation, at any part that he takes in the glorious work of man's redemption, look steadfastly at him as he is revealed through the gospel by the Holy Spirit at any time and place, in any of his works or ways--and the soul will instantly exclaim WONDERFUL! Yes, he shall be called Wonderful!
(49.) "Counsellor." Who that has made Jesus his wisdom, does not and has not often recognized the fitness of calling him "counsellor?" Until he is known and embraced in this relation, it is not natural or possible for the soul to go to him with implicit confidence in every case of doubt. Almost every body holds in theory the propriety and necessity of consulting Christ in respect to the affairs that concern ourselves and his church. But it is one thing to hold this opinion, and quite another to so spiritually apprehend and embrace Christ in the relation of counsellor as naturally to call him counsellor when approaching him in secret, and as naturally to turn and consult him on all occasions and in respect to every thing that concerns us; and to consult him too with implicit confidence in his ability and willingness to give us the direction we need. Thoroughly and spiritually to know Christ in this relation is undoubtedly a condition of abiding steadfast in him. Unless the soul knows and duly appreciates its dependence upon him in this relation, and unless it renounces its own wisdom and substitutes his in the place of it by laying hold of Christ by faith as the counsellor of the soul, it will not continue to walk in his counsel, and consequently will not abide in his love.
(50.) The Mighty God. My Lord and my God, exclaimed Thomas when Christ stood spiritually revealed to him. It was not merely what Christ said to Thomas on that occasion that caused him to utter the exclamation just quoted. Thomas saw indeed that Christ was raised from the dead, but so had Lazarus been raised from the dead. The mere fact, therefore, that Christ stood before him as one raised from the dead could not have been proof that he was God. No doubt the Holy Spirit discovered to Thomas at the moment the true Divinity of Christ, just as the saints in all ages have had him spiritually revealed to them as the Mighty God. I have long been convinced that it is in vain, so far forth as any spiritual benefit is concerned, to attempt to convince Unitarians of the proper Divinity of Christ. The scriptures are as plain as they can be upon this subject, and yet it is true that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Spirit. As I have said in substance often, the personal revelation of Christ to the inward man by the Holy Spirit, is a condition of his being known as the "Mighty God." What is Christ to one who does not know him as God? To such a soul, he can not be a Savior. It is impossible that the soul should intelligently and without idolatry commit itself to him as a Savior unless it knows him to be the true God. It can not innocently pray to him nor worship him, nor commit the soul to his keeping and protection until it knows him as the Mighty God. To be orthodox merely in theory, in opinion, is nothing to the purpose of salvation. The soul must know Christ as God--must believe in or receive him as such. To receive him as any thing else is an infinitely different thing from coming and submitting to him as the true, and living, and mighty God.
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