Sermon 3245. Our Position and Our Purpose

(No. 3245)




"Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfectingholiness in the fear of God." 2 Corinthians 7:1.

KINDLING with strong emotion, constrained by the love of Christ and animated by the fellowship of all spiritual blessing,the Apostle here strikes out an exhortation in which he appeals to the noblest passions of the children of God- to their senseof a Divine lineage and a present endowment-as well as of an exalted destiny for an incentive to purity of character and holinessof life.

I. The first thought which he gives to stir up in us this godly ambition is that THE CHRISTIAN IS POSSESSED OF MOST GLORIOUSPRIVILEGES.

By such words-"Having therefore these promises," I understand not merely having the promises in reversion, as they belongedto the Jews, but having them in possession, having received them, having obtained them, having gotten them, having graspedthem and being seized of them, as lawyers express it, so that the promises are no longer mere promises, but things which wehave actually in our possession! I understand, by Paul's language here, that Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have a thousandblessed promises in the enjoyment of which they daily live.

The promises he especially refers to are mentioned in the previous Chapter. They appear to be these-first, Divine indwelling-"Iwill dwell in them." Now, this is no light or inferior privilege of the Christian Church. God has been pleased to make thebodies of His people to be the temples of the Holy Spirit. At this very moment, in every one of you who have put your trustin the Lord Jesus, Deity resides! He dwells not in houses made with hands, that is to say, of man's building, but yet He dwellswithin these houses of clay, tabernacling in us-this is a promise which we have actually obtained and are now positively enjoying.

The next is Divine communion-"I will dwell in them and walk in them."As God talked with Abraham, so He does with every Believer.God is not to us afar off, but He is our near and dear Friend, our close acquaintance-

"With Him high converse I maintain; Bold as He is I dare to be."

If I can tell Him my heart, He will also tell me His heart, for, "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear Him." Communionis not merely a matter of promise to you and me, Beloved, but we enjoy it now! I hope it has become habitual with us to abidewith Jesus Christ. At morning break, we can frequently say, "When I awake, I am still with You." And when the sun has gonedown and we toss upon the bed, and cannot sleep, in the night watches our soul talks with Him whose eyes never slumber. Blessedis His name, this walking of Christ with His people is one of the daily privileges of the heir of Heaven!

Another promise we have obtained is that of Divine covenanting-"and I will be their God and they shall be My people." Godgives Himself to His people to be theirs, and they, by the purchase of His own Son, and by the effectual conquest of the armof His Grace, are His. He has chosen us for His inheritance and granted to us that He should become our portion and our inheritance."I will be their God and they shall be My people." Yes, God has entered into Covenant relations with us, bound Himself bypromise and yet further by another immutable thing in which it is impossible for Him to lie, namely, by His oath. There arebetween us and our God bonds which cannot be snapped, links that can never be severed. Let us thank God, tonight, and summonevery faculty of our souls to praise His name. This is one of the blessings which was communicated to some of the past saints,though they did not perfectly understand and comprehend it.

Cannot you and I basking in sunlight-light compared with which theirs was but twilight-say that we have obtained this promise?

In addition to all this, we have Divine adoption-"I will be a Father unto you and you shall be My sons and daughters, saysthe Lord Almighty." Is not this our blessed state? He loves us with a father's love, guides us with a father's care, protectsus with a father's watchfulness, instructs us with a father's wisdom, bears with us with a father's patience, longs for uswith a father's longing! We are His tender children and He is our loving Parent. These are not things which are yet to come,like the Second Advent of our Lord in millennia splendor-they are promises which we have obtained! These are things commonto the worshippers at that altar of which we have a right to eat, and familiar at that table where we daily feed.

How unspeakably great is the dignity of a Christian if we look at it in the light of these blessings! Before we understoodit, how we thirsted after it! We thought, when under conviction of sin, could we dare hope be among God's people? It wouldbe enough joy for us if we never had an earthly joy beside! I am afraid that since their blessings have become ours, we havenot prized them as we should. Perhaps for this cause we are sometimes brought into the prison of doubt and our faith failsus. Just as we do not know the value of health till we are sick, so some of these blessed privileges are not valued by usuntil we have to walk in the dark and sigh and cry after unbroken fellowship amidst intermittent snatches of sweet assurance!The Lord give His people to know the value of these heavenly realities that in an abiding sense of their calling and theirstanding, they may act in a way that is worthy of such great dignities!

Now you perceive that it is necessary for us to get a good clear view of the possessions of the Christian because it is fromthen Paul draws his argument-"Having therefore these promises." He uses not the logic of the Law, nor the logic of threats,but the logic of love-"we have these mercies; we are so unspeakably favored; we are living in the daily enjoyment of Divineindwelling, Divine communion, Divine covenanting and Divine adoption." Therefore he takes a step in advance and says, "letus cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit." It is clear, then, that the Doctrines of Grace, fragrantas they are of the privileges of the Christian, do not logically and spontaneously lead to licentiousness as some have profanelysaid, but they naturally and instinctively, lawfully and reasonably, lead to holiness of life! The fact that we are absolutelyand unconditionally saved by God's Grace, that our standing is secure and that we have become the children of God, is notan incentive to careless walking and to unholy living! Such an argument is the weak invention of malice-unworthy, I had almostsaid, of the Father of Lies-for Satan is known to palm off his offspring with a plausible appearance. But the argument isto gratitude in the heart and obedience in the life. What is obedience to God but holiness? True obedience would be holinessin perfection!


"Let us cleanse ourselves," says the Apostle. What then? Do they need cleansing? Are they such originally and by nature thatthey must be cleansed? God's blood-bought, quickened people-and yet need cleansing? Ah, yes, Brothers and Sisters, every oneof them, even the Apostle Paul, himself! Where will you find a warmer spirit, a more zealous heart, a more consecrated manthan the Apostle Paul? And yet he says, "Let us cleanse ourselves." It surely would not be presumptuous on my part, if thereshould be in this assembly some venerable saint who has been for many years kept in the faith with unblemished garments andengaged above many in the service of the Master in winning souls-it would not be presumptuous if I should say to him-"Letus cleanse ourselves." I suppose that the nearer we get to Heaven, the more conscious we shall be of our imperfections. Themore Light of God we get, the more we discover our own darkness. That which is scarcely accounted sin by some men, will bea grievous defilement to a tender conscience. It is not that we are greater sinners as we grow older, but that we have a finersensibility of sin and see that to be sin which we winked at in the days of our ignorance. Yes, we may say to those whosegray hairs show that they are getting near Home, "Let us cleanse ourselves." And if it is thus to the holiest and most eminentof the people of God, much more is it to us, Beloved-common saints, scarcely worthy to be called saints at all-only that wetrust we are washed in the precious blood and are saved through the righteousness of Jesus Christ! "Let us cleanse ourselves."

How pointedly the Apostle puts it! I want you to notice the points. The work is personal-"Let us cleanse ourselves." It weremore in accordance with our tastes to cleanse other people and attempt a moral reformation among our neighbors. Oh, it iseasy to find other men's faults and to bring the whole force of our mind against then! It is delightful

to expose vice and lampoon the follies of the age with a dash of wit to enliven it, or to preach virtue with a little of thesugar of scandal to sweeten a painful tale! It highly gratifies some people when they can find a fault in some highly-respectedBrother-they pull him to pieces with about the same zest that might be displayed by a crow or an ape. That is their forte,the strength of their genius-detraction-pulling to pieces what they could not put together and attempting to raise themselvesby lowering others! But notice the Apostle says, "Let us cleanse ourselves." Oh, that we would all look at home! Oh, thatwe did more indoor work in this department! Yes, it is certainly our business to tell our Brother of his faults-this oughtwe to have done, but certainly we ought not to have left the other undone, for that is our first business! "Let us cleanseourselves." It is all very well to drag the Church of God up to the altar, like some bleeding victim, and there to stab herwith the sharpest knife of our criticism, and to say of the modern Church that she is not this, and she is not that. One mightrather ask, "How far do I help to make her what she is? If she is degenerate, how far is that degeneracy consequent upon myhaving fallen from the high standing which I ought to have occupied?" We shall all have contributed our quota to the reformof the Church when we are, ourselves, reformed. There can be no better way of promoting general holiness than by increasingin personal holiness. "Let us cleanse ourselves."

There is activity needed, however, in discharging this personal duty. "Let us cleanse ourselves." It seems to imply that theChristian, while he is acted upon by Divine influence and is cleansed by the Holy Spirit, is also an active agent of his ownsanctification. He is not like the vessels and the pots of which the Apostle speaks that were cleansed under the Law-but manis a free agent and the holiness which God works in him is not the pretended holiness of candlesticks and altars, but it isthe holiness of a responsible being-a holiness which is not forced upon him, but which his whole soul gives consent to! Hepurges himself. Depend upon it, you and I do not grow holy by going to sleep. People are not made to grow in Grace as plantsgrow, of which it is said, "They grow you know not how." The Christian is developed by actively seeking growth, by earnestlystriving after holiness and resolutely endeavoring to obtain it.

The utmost of our activity ought to be put forth in cleansing ourselves. Your bad temper-you will not overcome that by saying,"Well, you know I am quick-tempered. I cannot help it." But you must help it! You must if you are a Christian. You have nomore right to shake hands with a bad temper than you have to fraternize with the devil! You have got to overcome it and, inthe name of God, you must! Or if you happens to be of a slothful disposition, you must not say, "Ah, well, you know I am naturallyso." Yes, what you are naturally we know-you are naturally as bad as you can be! But surely that is not the point we are concernedwith-what you are to become by Divine Grace. Albeit sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit, yet it is equally trueand this we must always bear in mind, that the Holy Spirit makes us active agents in our own sanctification! In the firstwork of regeneration, doubtless the soul is passive because it is dead-and the dead cannot contribute to their own quickening-butbeing quickened, He "works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure." He does not work in us to sleep and to slumber-Hisgood pleasure is answered by us when we are constrained to will and to do! Hence the Apostle's argument, "Work out your ownsalvation with fear and trembling, for it is God that works it in you. He works it in-you work it out. You have to bring outin the outward life what He works in the inner springs of your spiritual being. You are to work it out because He works itin." Sin is to be driven out of us as the Canaanites were driven out of Canaan by the edge of the sword. Jericho's walls willcome down, but not without being compassed about seven days. Weary may be your march, but march you must if you would conquer!How does the Apostle put it? "We wrestle not against flesh and blood," and so on, but he represented the conquest as beinga conquest gained by wrestling. He declares that he had to fight with his old nature and the conflict was stern. Althoughsaved by Grace, gracious souls make marvelous efforts-efforts beyond their natural powers-to enter into a state of rest fromsin.

Nor must we stop short of universality in our purgations and cleansing-"Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthi-ness." Youreyes must not spare, your heart must not pity one pet sin. Most man would gladly be holy if it were not for some onesin thatthey vainly flatter themselves to be harmless. "From all filthiness let us cleanse ourselves." O Christian, you may very welldoubt your right to that name unless all sin is obnoxious to you! You have no right to say, "I will give up pride and vanity,"if you excuse yourself for being covetous. If covetousness is the leak in your vessel, it will sink it quite as surely aspride! If neither pride nor covetousness should be there, yet if you have an unforgiving temper and cannot be heartily reconciledto those who offend you, you shall just as soon prove yourself to be reprobate that way by any other! It must be an interestingsight to be the father of a Jewish family purging out the leaven before the Passover. He lights a candle, you know, and goesto the cupboard under the stairs, or wherever the bread may be kept, and takes care that every bit is put away. He then hasevery cupboard unlocked and rummages with a brush in his hand-himself personally-and with a candle, too, to see lest thereshould be even a crumb of leaven-for he cannot keep the Passover if there is a crumb of leaven in the house! Such should beour earnest searching after all filthiness to get it all out! But search as best we may, I am afraid something will stillbe left. There will be some beloved idol hidden away somewhere in the recesses of the mind. The heart will cling to its idolsin such a style that we cannot find them all with one investigation! There is always the need to search again and again-theymust be searched after-and we must, each one, be prepared to say-

"The dearest idol I have known, Whate'er that idol may be, Help me to tear it from Your Throne, And worship only Thee."

The Apostle shows the thoroughness of this work by saying, "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh andspirit.." "Filthiness of to flesh." We may reckon this to include all the outside sins so well known and so easily distinguishable-thosedegrading sins which even morality condemns. Possibly, Christian, although you may guard yourself against these, yet you willbe in danger from the next class, namely, sins of the spirit. These are the mothers of the sins of the flesh! Someone killeda wasp in the early spring and it was said that he had killed a thousand wasps, for that wasp was full of eggs. Sins of thespirit are full of that spawn which, when matured, issues in shameful delinquencies. If you can cleanse yourself from these,you will save yourself from dangers you little reckon-the outward life will be right enough when the inward life is right.I wish we were more concerned about cleansing ourselves from the filthiness of the spirit. I am inclined to think that somemen heedlessly pollute their spirits-I mean that they do it willfully. I am not sure that when there is a divorce case inthe papers, I have any business to read it-yet a great many very good Christian people who often pray to be delivered fromtemptation, take pretty good care that they master all its details! When there is a bad story afloat about anybody, I do notknow that I should listen to it, yet that curiosity of ours often tempts the devil to tempt us! If there is any ditch-water,or any dirty puddle of water, I do not know that I am bound to get a drink out of it. True, I may be an officer appointedto taste the water, but if I am not, I would rather avoid the noxious sip-it were better to leave it alone. We may all doa great deal of that kind of thing and, nowadays, when the press ventilates everything and it is published all over the world,I am sure that Christians pollute their spirits a great deal more than they have any occasion to do! And besides that, wecan turn over a sin in our mind, you know, till we become so accustomed to it that we do not think it to be a sin. I knowthat some Christians have managed at last to trick their conscience into the idea that what they do is not sin in them, butwould be sin in other people-that they are so constituted that they require to be tolerated in this point, and to take a littleliberty in the other point so that, generally speaking, although it would be very, very wrong for other people to do the same-theyhave got a sort of spiritual indulgence such as used to be issued by Rome, and they never doubt that they can sin with impunity!Ah, dear Friends, this will not do! "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit."

The drift of the argument is this-if God dwells in us, let us make the house clean for so pure a God. What? Indwelling Deityand unclean lusts? Indwelling Godhead and yet a spirit defiled with evil thoughts? God forbid! Let us cry aloud unto the MostHigh that in this thing we may be cleansed and that the temple may be fit for the habitation of the Master. What? Does Godwalk in us, and hold communion with us, and shall we let Belial come in? What concord can we have with Christ? Shall we giveourselves up to be the servants of Mammon when God has become our Friend, our Companion? It must not be! Divine indwellingand Divine communion both require from us personal holiness. Has the Lord entered into a Covenant with us that we shall beHis people? Than does not this involve a call upon us to live like His people, as becomes godliness? Favored and privilegedabove other men to be a peculiar people. Separated unto God's own Self-shall there be nothing peculiar about our lives? Shallwe not be zealous for good works?

Divinely adopted into the family of the Most High and made heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ, what need is thereof further argument to constrain us to holiness? You see the, "therefore." It means just this-because we have attained tosuch choice and special privileges, "therefore"-for this reason, "let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the fleshand spirit."


"Perfecting holiness."

There was a bitter discussion, at one time, about the possibility of perfection in the flesh. It was a most unhappy thingthat this controversy arose at all. Between Mr. Wesley and Mr. Toplady fierce altercations were carried on. Between Mr. Wesleyand Mr. Whitefield I believe the dispute was conducted in a temper honorable to both sides. One admires the Christian loveof the two Brothers, who both of them stood to advocate what they believed to be the Truth of God and did maintain, I believe,their own views of Truth in a very proper spirit. But, as the dispute was carried on between Mr. Wesley and Mr. Toplady, Ido not think it was creditable to the Christianity of either-they both of them seemed to have lost their temper and to haveforgotten that "the wrath of man works not the righteousness of God." Hence this Doctrine of Christian Perfection never seemsto me to have had fair consideration at all. It has been made an arena for controversy then rather a subject for deliberatethought.

"Can a Christian be perfect in this life?" When this question was put to me, the other night, I answered, "No." "Well, butis not the Christian perfect when he gets to Heaven ?" "Yes." "Well, then, he was perfect when he died, was he not?" I thoughthe must be-I do not understand any change taking place in the solemn article of death-between the moment of departure fromthis world and the moment of entrance into Heaven. "Very well!" was the answer, "but he was in the flesh, then, you know."The question thus turned on being in the flesh-and the answer is obvious. The flesh is inherently sinful and all its carnaldesires are at enmity against God. Perfection at present does not aim at regenerating the old nature-such perfection willbe effected at the resurrection of the just. But as many as are perfect must control and keep the flesh and its motions completelyunder dominion. That is our present duty. If the death of the body looses us from sin, the mortification of our members whichare upon the earth must be our continual aim till we are delivered from the bondage of corruption. An illustration may explainmy meaning. I can imagine a room in your house being perfectly clean, but I cannot imagine it being kept perfectly clean unlessthe process by which it was first cleansed is frequently repeated. Whether that room is in constant use, or whether it isshut up after a monastic fashion, it will require to be swept and dusted every day or it will not be perfectly clean verylong.

I remember hearing a man say that he had lived for six years without having sinned in either thought, or word, or deed. Iapprehend that he committed a sin, then, if he never had done so before, in uttering such a proud, boastful speech! It seemedto me that if he had known anything about his own heart, he would not have dared to speak thus! Were it true of me, I thinkI would be like a man who had diamonds about him and dared not tell anybody, for fear the mention of it should prompt someoneto rob him of his treasure! I would keep it all to myself. If such a priceless pearl as perfection can belong to any of thesaints-and I were the happy possessor-I would be very jealous of it, lest anyone should know it and seek to deprive me ofit! No, no-I cannot believe that the flesh can be perfect, nor, consequently, that a man can be perfect in this flesh! I cannotbelieve that we shall ever live to see people walking up and down in this world without sin. But I can believe that it isour duty to be perfect, that this Law of God means perfection and that the Law as it is in Christ-for there it is, you know-isbinding on the Christian! It is not, as in the hands of Moses, armed with power to justify or to condemn him, for he is notunder the Law, but under Grace. But it is binding upon him as it is in the hands of Christ! The Law, as it is in the handsof Christ, is just as glorious, just as perfect, just as complete as when it was in the hands of Moses. Christ did not cometo destroy the Law, or to cast it down, but to establish it! And therefore, notwithstanding every point where I fall shortof perfection as a creature, I am complete in Christ Jesus. That which God requires of me is that I should be perfect.

That I can understand. And the next thing I should know is that for such perfection I ought to pray. I should not like topray for anything short of that. I should not like, at the Prayer Meeting, to hear any of you say, "Lord, bring us halfwaytoward perfection." No, no, no! Our prayer must be, "Lord, put away all my sin-deliver me from it altogether." And God wouldnot teach you to pray for what He did not mean to give. Your perfection is God's design, for He has chosen you to be conformedto the image of His Son-and what is that? Surely the image of His Son is perfection! There were no faults in the Lord JesusChrist. We are to be made like He and as this is the work and design of Grace, then perfection is the center of the targetat which God's Grace is always aiming. All that He works in us is with this great ultimate end and aim-that He may sanctifyus wholly-spirit, soul and body, and that He may release us from sin and

make us perfect even as our Father who is in Heaven is perfect. Oh, when will it be? When will it be? Why, the very thoughtof it makes me feel as if I could sing-

"Oh, happy hour, oh, blest abode,

I shall be near and like my God."

What a joy it will be to be just like He-to have no more corruption of the flesh and no more temptations to sin to destroythe soul's delight and pleasure in her God! May the Lord hasten on the day! "Perfecting holiness."

Although a young artist, when he starts in his work, dares not hope that he shall came up to Praxiteles in sculpture, or toApelles in painting, yet were he to set before himself anything short of the highest standard, he would not be likely to attainhonor as an academician. When he begins to work, he studies not imperfect pictures, but the most perfect models he can find.He studies Raphael. He wants to see what Michael Angelo could do. "Oh," says one, "what are you trying to paint? Are you tryingto be a Raphael? Will you ever paint like Raphael or Michael Angelo? Never." What do your sneers and jibes mean? Would youhave him go and buy some worthless printing at a pawnshop and copy that? What sort of an artist would he make, then? The onlypossibility of his being a good artist is his taking perfect models. So with you, Christian, your model has to be the perfectSavior-and this is to be what you are to aim at every day, "perfecting holiness." And for all you may say, "Ah, I shall nevercome up to that. Many failures have proved to me that I shall not reach it." Yet you will do better with that as your ambitionthan you could have done if you had selected some imperfect model and had said, "Well, if I am as good as that man, that willsuit me." Nothing but perfection must content you! Beloved, press forward towards it and God speed you in the race!

IV. Follow me one step further and observe how THE CHRISTIAN IS PROMPTED BY THE MOST SACRED OF MOTIVES-"Perfecting holinessin the fear of God"

An abiding sense of God's Presence, a perpetual feeling of our obligations to our Creator produces a reverent fear of God-notthe slavish, servile fear which brings torment-but the fear which bows the tall archangel in adoration before the Throne ofGod, the fear which makes the cherub veil his face with his wings while he adores the Lord. Such a constant fear as this isthe mainspring of Christian holiness! Not the fear of man, though many people are kept moral by that. Not the fear of someChristian whom you respect, lest he should upbraid you-that fear may be very helpful, in some cases, to keep men from certainsins, but it is a fitter motive for an infant than for a man! No, your great motive is to be the fear of God. Not the fearof the public eye. This is a very marvelous thing. Have you not often noticed that the very thing which the world calls, "bad,shameful, horrible, detestable," if it does not succeed-would be thought clever, creditable, to be admired if it succeeded?I believe that there have been scores of venturesome traders who have acquired wealth and gained a reputation for brilliantshrewdness by the very means which we see so much and so properly reprobated in certain other large traders nowadays-the onlydifference being that one man was fortunate enough to jump over the ditch, while the other man jumped in-but both were equallyreckless! The world only appreciates success-that is the measure of the world's morality. The true Christian has a highersystem of ethics. He perfects holiness in the fear of God-and if he should be successful, and the world should say, "Welldone! Well done!"-yet, if he felt he had done a wrong thing or an unholy thing, his conscience would prick him. He would beas uneasy as though everybody pointed the finger of scorn at him! I think he would he as restless as Zacchaeus was until hehad made a just disposition of his unholy gains.

I cannot speak to you as I would wish tonight. But ah, were the hour of my departure come, were I allowed but to utter onesentence and then must die, I would say to you members of this Church, "Be holy!" Whatever you are, seek to be holy. And ifyou will not be holy-if you have a mind to keep your sins-do us the favor to lay down your profession! If you will have yoursins and go to Hell, you can do it so much better outside the Church than you can inside. I cannot see why you need do Christthe double ill-turn to be His enemy, and yet profess to be His friend. Get out of the Church, you that are hypocrites! Whatprofit can you get? There are no loaves and fishes that I know of to be had here. If you want them, there are some placeswhere you can have them in abundance. There is no particular honor that I know of in being associated with this Church-weare generally held in little enough esteem by the world. Why should you come unless you intend to be true followers of theCrucified? Why, why, Deacon, if you love the world, do you pretend to love the Church? Judas, Judas, go sell somebody else!What need do you have to sell Christ and to be a son of perdition? O you who are unholy, you who cheat in business, you whocan lie in your daily lives-there is scope enough for you outside of God's Church-why do you need to come with your filthinesswhere you are not asked to come, nor wanted? The Word

of God calls His saints to come out and be separate from such, but when once they thrust themselves into the Church, whatshall we say? We feel like the servants who would gladly root up the tares, but that we must not do. They must both grow togetheruntil the harvest! Yet we would not sleep, but be watchful to prevent the enemy sowing more tares among the wheat. Be holy,be holy, be holy! You that are servants, be holy in the family! You that are masters, show holiness among your employees.Mothers and fathers, let your children see your piety! Children, may the Holy Spirit make you to be the holiest of childrenlike the holy Child Jesus! And may it be a point with one and all of us that if we live, we will live unto Christ, so thatwhen we die, we may be found in Him, made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light!

The Lord bless you, dear Friends, for Jesus sake! Amen.


Verse 1. Simon Peter, a servant and an Apostle of Jesus Christ Peter was pleased to be able to write those words. There wasa time when he had thrice denied his Master, but now he is glad to call himself, "a servant of Jesus Christ." Once he hadsaid, "I know not the Man," but now he claims that he has been sent out by that glorious Lord to be His Apostle-a sent one-"aservant and an Apostle of Jesus Christ." Probably he had ringing in his ears at that moment, those blessed words, "Feed Mysheep. Feed My lambs." And he was going to do that work again in this, his second general Epistle.

1. To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ TheseEpistles are not written to everybody. Some readers do not seem to remember this fact. This one is written, says the Apostle,"to them that have obtained like precious faith with us." The faith of the weakest Believer in Jesus is the same kind of faithas that which was found in Simon Peter-who stands among the very first of the worthies in the College of Apostles. "Like preciousfaith with us." Only think of it, you whose faith is of a very trembling sort, which might be well described as, "little faith."Yet yours is "like precious faith" with that of Peter and the rest of the Apostles. The tiniest diamond is as truly a diamondas the Koh-I-Noor, and the smallest faith, if it is really the work of the Spirit of God, is "like precious faith" with thatof the Apostles.

2. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you-You have some measure of these choice blessings-may you have a great many timesas much! When we go to the multiplication table, we not only multiply by two and by three, but we can multiply by a hundred-wecan multiply by ten thousand. Oh, that God would thus multiply to us the Grace and the peace that He has already given us!"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you-

2. Through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord. The more we know of God, the more grounds and reasons shall we havefor enjoying Grace and peace. And the more we know of God and of Jesus, our Lord, the more will our enjoyment of Grace andpeace be multiplied.

3. According as His Divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledgeof Him that has called us to Glory and virtue. It is through knowing God that we realize that "His Divine power has givenunto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness," for all these things are in Him-and as we know Him, trust Him, loveHim and become like He-we also come to possess all these precious things in Him.

4. Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the Divine Nature,having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust [See Sermon #551, Volume 10-faith and life.] See what is God'sgreat objective in giving us these "exceeding

great and precious promises." It is that we may become morally and spiritually like Himself-just and true and holy and righteous,even as God Himself is. O Brothers and Sisters, we fall far short of the high example that we find set before us in our graciousGod! Nevertheless, we press forward towards the goal, strengthened by God Himself, who, having begun to make us like Himself,will never cease that blessed work until He has fully accomplished it.

5. And beside this, giving all diligence For we cannot expect to go to Heaven asleep. We are not taken there against our wills.It is not our will that accomplishes our salvation, but still, it is not accomplished without our will. "Giving diligence,"yes, but more than that, "giving alldiligence"-

5, 6. Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance. It is ignorance that is intemperateand rash.

6-8. And to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindnesscharity. For if these things are in you, and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in theknowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ What Christian ever wishes to be barren or unfruitful? Is it not the aspiration of everybranch in the true vine to bring forth much fruit?