Sermon 551. Faith and Life
Delivered on Sunday Morning, January 24th, 1864, by the
Rev. C. H. SPURGEON,
At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington
"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through therighteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, andof Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, throughthe knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding greatand precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that isin the world through lust."-2 Peter 1:1-4.
THE two most important things in our holy religion are faith and life. He who shall rightly understand these two words isnot far from being a master in experimental theology. Faith and life! these are vital points to a Christian. They possessso intimate a connection with each other that they are by no means to be severed; God hath so joined them together, let noman seek to put them asunder. You shall never find true faith unattended by true godliness; on the other hand,you shall never discover a truly holy life which has not for its root and foundation a living faith upon the righteousnessof our Lord Jesus Christ. Woe unto those who seek after the one without the other! There be some who cultivate faith and forgetholiness; these may be very high in orthodoxy, but they shall be very deep in damnation, in that day when God shall condemnthose who hold the truth in unrighteousness, and make the doctrine of Christ to pander to their lusts. There are others whohave strained after holiness of life, but have denied the faith; these are comparable unto the Pharisees of old, of whomthe Master said, they were "whitewashed sepulchres;" they were fair to look upon externally, but inwardly, because the livingfaith was not there, they were full of dead men's bones and all manner of uncleanness. Ye must have faith, for this is thefoundation; ye must have holiness of life, for this is the superstructure. Of what avail is the mere foundation of a buildingtoa man in the day of tempest? Can he hide himself among sunken stones and concrete? He wants a house to cover him, as wellas a foundation upon which that house might have been built; even so we need the superstructure of spiritual life if we wouldhave comfort in the day of doubt. But seek not a holy life without faith, for that would be to erect a house which can affordno permanent shelter, because it has no foundation on a rock-a house which must come down with a tremendous crash in theday when the rain descends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, and beat upon it. Let faith and life be put together,and, like the two abutments of an arch, they shall make your piety strong. Like the horses of Pharaoh's chariot, they pulltogether gloriously. Like light and heat streaming from the same sun, they are alike full of blessing. Like the two pillarsof the temple, they are for glory and for beauty. They are two streams from the fountain of grace; two lamps lit with holyfire;two olive-trees watered by heavenly care; two stars carried in Jesus' hand. The Lord grant that we may have both of theseto perfection, that his name may be praised.
Now, it will be clear to all, that in the four verses before us, our apostle has most excellently set forth the necessityof these two things-twice over he insists upon the faith, and twice over upon holiness of life. We will take the first occasionfirst.
I. Observe, in the first place, what he says concerning the character and the origin of faith, and then concerning the character and origin of spiritual life.
"Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through therighteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." So far the faith. "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine powerhath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to gloryand virtue." These twoverses, you see, concern the spiritual life which comes with the faith.
Let us begin where Peter begins, with the FAITH. You have here a description of true saving faith.
First, you have a description of its source. He says, "to them that have obtained like precious faith." See, then, my brethren, faith does not grow in man's heart by nature; it is a thing which is obtained. It is not a matter which springs up by a process of education, or by the example and excellent instruction of our parents;it is a thing which has to be obtained. Not imitation, but regeneration; not development, but conversion. All our good thingscome from without us, only evil can be educed from within us. Now, that which is obtained by us must be given to us; and well are we taught in Scripture that "faith is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God." Althoughfaith is the act of man, yet it is the work of God. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness;" but that heart must,first of all, have been renewed by divine grace before it ever can be capable of the act of saving faith. Faith, we say, isman's act, for we arecommanded to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," and we shall be saved. At the same time, faith is God's gift, and whereverwe find it, we may know that it did not come there from the force of nature, but from a work of divine grace. How this magnifiesthe grace of God, my brethren, and how low this casts human nature! Faith. Is it not one of the simplest things? Merely todepend upon the blood and righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, does it not seem one of the easiest of virtues? To benothing, and to let him be everything-to be still, and to let him work for me, does not this seem to be the most elementaryof all the Christian graces? Indeed, so it is; and yet, even to this first principle and rudiment, poor human nature is sofallen and so utterly undone, that it cannot attain unto! Brethren, the Lord must not only open the gates of heaven to usat last, but he must open the gates of our heart to faith at the first. It is not enough for us to know that he must makeus perfect in every good work to do his will, but we must be taught that he must even give us a desire after Christ; and when this is given, he must enable us to give the grip of the hand of faithwhereby Jesus Christ becomes our Saviour and Lord. Now, the question comes (and we will try and make the text of today, atext of examination all the way through) have we obtained this faith? Are we conscious that we have been operated upon bythe Holy Spirit? Is there a vital principle in uswhich was not there originally? Do we know today the folly of carnal confidence? Have we a hope that we have been enabledthrough divine grace to cast away all our own righteousness and every dependence, and are we now, whether we sink or swim,resting entirely upon the person, the righteousness, the blood, the intercession, the precious merit of our Lord Jesus Christ?If not, we have cause enough to tremble; but if we have, the while the apostle writes, "Unto them that have obtained likeprecious faith," he writes to us, and across the interval of centuries his benediction comes as full and fresh as ever,"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you."
Peter having described the origin of this faith, proceeds to describe its object. The word "through" in our translation, might, quite as correctly, have been rendered "in"-"faith in the righteousness ofour God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." True faith, then, is a faith in Jesus Christ, but it is a faith in Jesus Christ as divine. That man who believes in Jesus Christ as simply a prophet, as only a great teacher, has not the faith which will save him.Charity would make us hope for many Unitarians, but honesty compels us to condemn them without exception, so far as vitalgodliness is concerned. It matters not how intelligent may be their conversation, nor how charitable may be their manners,nor how patriotic may be their spirit, if they reject Jesus Christ as very God of very God, we believe they shall withoutdoubt perish everlastingly. Our Lord uttered no dubious words when he said, "He that believeth not shall be damned," and wemust notattempt to be more liberal than the Lord himself. Little allowance can I make for one who receives Jesus the prophet,and rejects him as God. It is an atrocious outrage upon common sense for a man to profess to be a believer in Christ at all,if he does not receive his divinity. I would undertake, at any time, to prove to a demonstration, that if Christ were notGod, he was the grossest impostor who ever lived. One of two things, he was either divine or a villain. There is no stoppingbetweenthe two. I cannot imagine a character more evil than that which would be borne by a man who should lead his followersto adore him as God, without ever putting in a word by way of caveat, to stop their idolatry; nay, who should have spokenin terms so ambiguous, that two thousand years after his death, there should be found millions of persons resting upon himas God. I say, if he were not God, the atrocity of his having palmed himself upon us, his disciples, as God, puts aside altogetherfromconsideration any of the apparent virtues of his life. He was the grossest of all deceivers, if he was not "very God ofvery God." O beloved, you and I have found no difficulties here; when we have beheld the record of his miracles, when we havelistened to the testimony of his divine Father, when we have heard the word of the inspired apostles, when we have felt themajesty of his own divine influence in our own hearts, we have graciously accepted him as "the Wonderful, the Counsellor,themighty God, the everlasting Father;" and, as John bear witness of him and said, "The Word was in the beginning with God,and the Word was God," even so have we received him; so that at this day, he that was born of the virgin Mary, Jesus of Nazareth,the king of the Jews, is to us "God over all, blessed for ever."
"Jesus is worthy to receive
Honour and power divine:
And blessings more than we can give,
Be Lord for ever thine."
Now, beloved friends, have we heartily and joyfully received Jesus Christ as God? My hearer, if thou hast not, I pray theeseek of God the faith that saves, for thou hast it not as yet, nor art thou in the way to it. Who but a God could bear theweight of sin? Who but a God shall be the "same yesterday, to-day, and for ever?" Concerning whom but a God could it be said,"I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed." We have to do with Christ,and we should be consumed if he changed; inasmuch, then, as he does not change, and we are not consumed, he must be divine,and our soul rolls the entire burden of its care and guilt upon the mighty shoulders of the everlasting God, who-
"Bears the earth's huge pillars up,
And spreads the heavens abroad."
Remark in further dwelling upon the text, that the apostle has put in another word beside "God", and that is, "of God andour Saviour." As if the glory of the Godhead might be too bright for us, he has attempered it by gentler words "our Saviour." Now, to trustJesus Christ as divine, will save no man, unless there be added to this a resting in him as the great propitiatory sacrifice.Jesus Christ is our Saviour because he became a substitute for guilty man. Hehaving taken upon himself the form of manhood by union with our nature, stood in the room, place, and stead of sinners.When the whole tempest of divine wrath was about to spend itself on man, he endured it all for his elect; when the great whipof the law must fall, he bared his own shoulders to the lash; when the cry was heard, "Awake, O sword!" it was against Christthe Shepherd, against the man who was the fellow to the eternal God. And because he thus suffered in the place and stead ofman, he received power from on high to become the Saviour of man, and to bring many sons into glory, because he had beenmade perfect through suffering. Now, have we received Jesus Christ as our Saviour? Happy art thou, if thou hast laid thy hand upon the head of him who was slain for sinners. Be glad, and rejoice in the Lordwithout ceasing, if today that blessed Redeemer who has ascended upon high has become thy Saviour, delivered thee from sin, passing by thytransgressions, and making thee to be accepted in the beloved. A Saviour is he to us when he delivers us from the curse,punishment, guilt and power of sin, "He shall save his people from their sins." O thou great God, be thou my Saviour, mightyto save.
But be pleased to notice the word "righteousness." It is a faith in the righteousness of our God and our Saviour. In these days, certain divines have tried to get rid of all idea of atonement; they have taughtthat faith in Jesus Christ would save men, apart from any faith in him as a sacrifice. Ah, brethren, it does not say, "faithin the teaching of God our Saviour;" I do not find here that it is written, "faith in the character of God our Saviour, asourexemplar." No, but "faith in the righteousness of God our Saviour." That righteousness, like a white robe, must be castaround us. I have not received Jesus Christ at all, but I am an adversary and an enemy to him, unless I have received himas Jehovah Tsidkenu, the Lord our righteousness. There is his perfect life; that life was a life for me; it contains all thevirtues, in it there is no spot; it keeps the law of God, and makes it honourable; my faith takes that righteousness of JesusChrist, and it is cast about me, and I am then so beauteously, nay, so perfectly arrayed, that even the eye of God cansee neither spot nor blemish in me. Have we, then, today a faith in the righteousness of God our Saviour? For no faith butthis can ever bring the soul into a condition of acceptance before the Most High. 'Why," saith one, "these are the very simplicitiesof the gospel." Beloved, I know they are, and, therefore, do we deal them out this morning, for, thanks be to God, it is thesimplicities which lie at the foundation; and it is rather by simplicities than by mysteries that a Christian is to tryhimself and to see whether he be in the faith or no. Put the question, brethren, have we, then, this like precious faith inGod and our Saviour Jesus Christ?
Our apostle has not finished the description, without saying that it is "like precious faith." All faith is the same sort of faith. Our faith may not be like that of Peter, in degree, but if it be genuine,it is like it as to its nature, its origin, its objects, and its results. Here is a blessed equality. Speak of "liberty, equality,and fraternity," you shall only find these things carried out within the Church of Christ. There is indeed a blessed equalityhere,for the poorest little-faith who ever crept into heaven on its hands and knees, has a like precious faith with the mighty apostle Peter. I say, brethren, if the one be gold, so is the other; if the one can move mountains,so can the other; for remember, that the privileges of mountain-moving, and of plucking up the trees, and casting them intothe sea, are not given to great faith, but "if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed," it shall be done. Little faith hasa royal descent andis as truly of divine birth as is the greatest and fullest assurance which ever made glad the heart of man, hence it ensuresthe same inheritance at the last, and the same safety by the way. It is "like precious faith."
He tells us too, that faith is "precious;" and is it not precious? for it deals with precious things, with precious promises, with precious blood, with a precious redemption,with all the preciousness of the person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Well may that be a precious faith which suppliesour greatest want, delivers us from our greatest danger, and admits us to the greatest glory. Well may that be called "preciousfaith," which is the symbol of ourelection, the evidence of our calling, the root of all our graces, the channel of communion, the weapon of prevalence,the shield of safety, the substance of hope, the evidence of eternity, the guerdon of immortality, and the passport of glory.O for more of this inestimably precious faith. Precious faith, indeed it is.
When the apostle, Simon Peter, writes "to them that have obtained like precious faith with us, through the righteousness ofGod, and our Saviour Jesus Christ," does he write to you? does he write to me? If not, if we are not here addressed, remember that we can never expect to hear the voice which says,"Come ye blessed of my Father;" but we are today in such a condition, that dying as we now are, "Depart ye cursed" must bethe thunder which shall roll in our ears,and drive us down to hell. So much, then, concerning faith.
Now we shall turn to notice with great brevity, the LIFE. "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge ofGod and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness,through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue." Here we have, then, brethren, the fountain and source of our spiritual life. Just as faith is a boon which is to be obtained, so you will perceive thatour spiritual life is a principle which is given. A thing which is given to us, too, by divine power-"according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness." To give life at all is the essential attribute of God.This is an attribute which he will not alienate; to save and to destroy belong unto the Sovereign of heaven. "He can create,and he destroy," is one of the profoundest notes in the ascription of our praise. Suppose a corpsebefore us. How great a pretender would he be who should boast that it was in his power to restore it to life. Certainly,it would be even a greater pretence if anyone should say that he could give to himself or to another the divine life, thespiritual life by which a man is made a Christian. My brethren, you who are partakers of the divine nature, know that by natureyou were dead in trespasses and sins, and would have continued so until this day if there had not been an interposition ofdivine energy on your behalf. There you lay in the grave of your sin, rotten, corrupt. The voice of the minister calledto you, but you did not hear. You were often bidden to come forth, but ye did not and could not come. But when the Lord said,"Lazarus, come forth," then Lazarus came forth; and when he said to you, "Live," then you lived also, and the spiritual lifebeat within you, with joy and peace through believing. This we ought never to forget, because, let us never fail to remember,that if our religion is a thing which sprang from ourselves, it is of the flesh, and must die. That which is born of theflesh in its best and most favourable moments, is flesh, and only that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. "Ye must beborn again." If a man's religious life be only a refinement of his ordinary life, if it be only a high attainment of the naturalexistence, then is it not the spiritual life, and does not prepare him for the eternal life before the throne of God. No,wemust have a supernatural spark of heavenly flame kindled within us. Just as nothing but the soul can quicken the bodyand make it live, so the Spirit alone can quicken the soul and make the soul live. We must have the third master-principleinfused, or else we shall be but natural men, made after the image of the first Adam. We must have, I say, the new spirit,or else we shall not be like the second Adam, who was made a quickening spirit. Only of the Christian can we say that he isspirit,soul, and body; the ungodly man has only soul and body, and as to spiritual existence, he is as dead as the body wouldbe if there were no soul. Now the implantation of this new principle, called the spirit, is a work of divine power. Divine power! What stupendous issues are grasped in that term, divine power! It was this which digged the deep foundations of the earthand sea! Divine power, it is this which guides the marches of the stars of heaven! Divine power! it is this which holdsup the pillars of the universe, and which one day shall shake them, and hurry all things back to their native nothingness.Yet the selfsame power which is required to create a world and to sustain it, is required to make man a Christian, and unlessthat power be put forth, the spiritual life is not in any one of us.
You will perceive, dear friends, that the apostle Peter wished to see this divine life in a healthy and vigorous state, andtherefore he prays that grace and peace may be multiplied. Divine power is the foundation of this life; grace is the food it feeds upon, and peace is the element in which it livesmost healthily. Give a Christian much grace, and his spiritual life will be like the life of a man who is well clothed andnurtured; keep the spiritual life withoutabundant grace, and it becomes lean, faint, and ready to die; and though die it cannot, yet will it seem as though itgave up the ghost, unless fresh grace be bestowed. Peace, I say, is the element in which it flourishes most. Let a Christianbe much disturbed in mind, let earthly cares get into his soul, let him have doubts and fears as to his eternal safety, lethim lose a sense of reconciliation to God, let his adoption be but dimly before his eyes, and you will not see much of thedivinelife within him. But oh! if God shall smile upon the life within you, and you get much grace from God, and your soul dwellsmuch in the balmy air of heavenly peace, then shall you be strong to exercise yourself unto godliness, and your whole lifeshall adorn the doctrine of God your Saviour.
Observe, again, that in describing this life, he speaks of it as one which was conferred upon us by our being called. He says, "We were called unto glory and virtue." I find translators differ here. Many of them think the word should be "By"-"Weare called by the glory and virtue of God"-that is, there is a manifestation of all the glorious attributes of God, and ofall the efficacious virtue and energy of his power in the calling of every Christian. Simon Peterhimself was at his fishing and in his boat, but Jesus said to him, "Follow me;" and at once he followed Christ. He saysthere was in that calling, the divine glory and virtue; and, doubtless, when you and I shall get to heaven, and see thingsas they are, we shall discover in our effectual calling of God to grace, a glory as great as in the creation of worlds, anda virtue as great as in the healing of the sick, when virtue went from the garments of a Saviour. Now, can we say today, thatwehave a life within us which is the result of divine power, and have we, upon searching ourselves, reason to believe, dearfriends, that there is that within us which distinguishes us from other men, because we have been called out by mankind bythe glory and energy of the divine power? I am afraid some of us must say "Nay." Then the Lord in his mercy yet bring us into the number of his people. But if we can, however, tremblingly say, "Yes, I trustthere is something of the life in me;"then as Peter did so, do I wish for you that benediction, "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledgeof our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." O brethren, whatever men may say against the faith of God, there is nothing in theworld which creates virtue like true faith. Wherever true faith enters, though it be into the heart of a harlot or of a thief,what a change it makes! See her there; she has polluted herself many times; she has gone far into sin. Mary has been a sinner;shehears the preaching of the Saviour; standing in the crowd she listens to him one day as he preaches concerning the prodigal,and how the loving father pressed him to his bosom; she comes to Jesus and she finds forgiveness. Is she a harlot any longer?Nay, there she is, washing his feet with her tears, and wiping them with the hairs of her head. The woman who was a sinner,hates her evil ways and loves her gracious Lord. We may say of her, "But she is washed, but she is sanctified, but she issaved." Take Saul of Tarsus. Foaming with blood, breathing out threatenings, he is going to Damascus to drag the saintsof God to prison. On the road he is struck down; by divine mercy he is led to put his trust in Jesus. Is he a persecutor anylonger? See that earnest apostle beaten with rods-shipwrecked-in labours more abundant than all the rest of them-countingnot his life dear unto him, that he may win Christ and be found in him. Saul of Tarsus becomes a majestic proof of what thegrace of God can do. See Zaccheus, the grasping publican, distributing his wealth, the Ephesians burning their magicalbooks, the jailer washing the apostle's stripes. Take the case of many now present. Let memory refresh itself this morning,with the recollection of the change which has been wrought in you. We have nothing to boast of; God forbid that we shouldglory, save in the cross of Christ, but yet some of us are wonderful instances of renewing grace. We were unclean, our mouthscouldutter blasphemy; our temper was hot and terrible; our hands were unrighteous; we were altogether as an unclean thing,but how changed now! Again, I say, we boast of nothing which we now are, for by the grace of God we are what we are, yet thechange is something to be wondered at. Has divine grace wrought this change in you? Be not weary with my reiteration of thisquestion. Let me put it again to you till I get an answer; nay, till I force you to an answer: Have you this precious faith?Canyou not answer the question? Then, have you not that divine life, that life which is given by divine calling? If you havethe one, you have the other; and if you have not both, you have neither; for where there is the one, the other must come,and where the one has come, the other has been there.
II. I have thus fully but feebly brought the subject before you, allow me to remind you that another verse remains which handlesthe same topics. In the fourth verse, he deals with the privileges of faith, and also with the privileges of the spirituallife.
Notice the PRIVILEGE OF FAITH first. "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises"-here is the faith,"That by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."Here is the life resulting from the faith. Now, the privileges of faith first. The privileges of faith are, that we have given to us "Exceeding great and precious promises." "Great and precious"-twowords which do notoften come together. Many things are great which are not precious, such as great rocks, which are of little value; onthe other hand, many things are precious which are not great-such as diamonds and other jewels, which cannot be very greatif they be very precious. But here we have promises which are so great, that they are not less than infinite, and so precious,that they are not less than divine. I shall not attempt to speak about their greatness or their preciousness, but just giveacatalogue of them, and leave you to guess at both. We have some of them which are like birds in the hands-we have themalready; other promises are like birds in the bush, only that they are just as valuable and as sure as those which are inthe hand.
Note here, then, we have received by precious faith the promise and pardon. Hark thee, my soul, all thy sins are forgiven thee. He who hath faith in Christ hath no sin to curse him, his sins are washedaway, they have ceased to be; they have been carried on the scape-goat's head into the wilderness; they are drowned in theRed Sea; they are blotted out; they are thrown behind God's back; they are cast into the depths of the sea. Here is a promiseof perfect pardon.Is not this great and precious?-as great as your sins are; and if your sins demanded a costly ransom, this precious promiseis as great as the demand.
Then comes the righteousness of Christ: you are not only pardoned, that is, washed and made clean, but you are dressed, robed in garments such as no mancould ever weave. The vesture is divine. Jehovah himself has wrought out your righteousness for you; the holy life of Jesusthe Son of God, has become your beauteous dress, and you are covered with it. Christian, is not this an exceeding great andprecious promise? The law was great-this righteousness is as greatas the law. The law asked a precious revenue from man, more than humanity could pay-the righteousness of Christ has paidit all. Is it not great and precious?
Then next comes reconciliation. You were strangers, but you are brought nigh by the blood of Christ. Once aliens, but now fellow-citizens with the saintsand of the household of God. Is not this great and precious?
Then comes your adoption. "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear,we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." "And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, joint heirs with Jesus Christ,if so be we suffer with him that we may be glorified together." Oh, how glorious is this great and precious promise of adoption!
Then we have the promise of providence: "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his purpose." "Thy place ofdefence shall be the munitions of rocks." "Thy bread shall be given thee and thy waters shall be sure." "As thy days thy strengthshall be." "Fear not, I am with thee; be not dismayed, I am thy God." "When thou passest through the rivers, I will be withthee, the floods shall not overflow thee. When thougoest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flames kindle upon thee." When I think of providence,the greatness of its daily gifts, and the preciousness of its hourly boons, I may well say, here is an exceeding great andprecious promise.
Then you have the promise too, that you shall never taste of death but shall only sleep in Jesus. "Write, blessed are thedead which die in the Lord from henceforth. Yea, saith the Spirit, that they cease from their labours; and their works dofollow them." Nor does the promise cease here, you have the promise of a resurrection. "For the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible mustput onincorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." Beloved, we know that if Christ rose from the dead, so also themwho sleep in Jesus, will the Lord bring with him. Nor is this all, for we shall reign with Jesus; at his coming, we shall be glorified with him, we shall sit upon his throne, even as he has overcome and sits with his Fatherupon his throne. The harps of heaven, the streets of glory, the trees of paradise, the river of the water of life, the eternityof immaculatebliss-all these, God hath promised to them who love him. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, the things which God hathprepared for them that love him, but he hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit;" and by our faith we have grasped them,and we have today "the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." Now, beloved, see how rich faithmakes you!-what treasure!-what a costly regalia!-what gold mines!-what oceans of wealth!-what mountains of sparklingtreasures has God conferred upon you by faith!
But we must not forget the life, and with that we close. The text says, he has given us this promise, "that"-"in order that." What then? What are all these treasures lavished for? For what these pearls? For what these jewels? Forwhat, I say, these oceans of treasure? For what? Is the end worthy of the means? Surely God never giveth greater store thanthe thing which he would purchase will be worth. We may suppose, then, the end to be very great when suchcostly means have been given; and what is the end? Why, "that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, havingescaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." O, my brethren, if you have these mercies today by faith, do seeto it that the result is obtained. Be not content to be made rich in these great and precious promises, without answeringGod's design in your being thus enriched. That design, you perceive, is twofold; it is first that you may be partakers ofthedivine nature; and, secondly, that you may escape the corruption which is in the world.
To be a partaker of the divine nature is not, of course, to become God. That cannot be. The essence of Deity is not to beparticipated in by the creature. Between the creature and the Creator there must ever be a gulf fixed in respect of essence;but as the first man Adam was made in the image of God, so we, by the renewal of the Holy Spirit, are in a yet diviner sensemade in the image of the Most High, and are partakers of the divine nature. We are, by grace, made likeGod. "God is love;" we become love-"He that loveth is born of God." God is truth; we become true, and we love that whichis true, and we hate the darkness and the lie. God is good, it is his very name; he makes us good by his grace, so that webecome the pure in heart who shall see God. Nay, I will say this, that we become partakers of the divine nature in even ahigher sense than this-in fact, in any sense, anything short of our being absolutely divine. Do we not become members of thebodyof the divine person of Christ? And what sort of union is this-"members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones?"The same blood which flows in the head flows in the hand, and the same life which quickens Christ, quickens his people; for,"Ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." Nay, as if this were not enough, we are married into Christ. He hathbetrothed us unto himself in righteousness and in faithfulness; and as the spouse must, in the nature of things, be a partakerofthe same nature as the husband, so Jesus Christ first became partaker of flesh and blood that they twain might be oneflesh; and then he makes his Church partakers of the same spirit, that they twain may be one spirit; for he who is joinedunto the Lord is one spirit. Oh, marvellous mystery! we look into it, but who shall understand it? One with Jesus, by eternalunion one, married to him; so one with him that the branch is not more one with the vine than we are a part of the Lord, ourSaviour,and our Redeemer. Rejoice in this, brethren, ye are made partakers of the divine nature, and all these promises are givento you in order that you may show this forth among the sons of men, that ye are like God, and not like ordinary men; thatye are different now from what flesh and blood would make you, having been made participators of the nature of God.
Then the other result which follows from it, was this, "Having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust."Ah, beloved, it were ill that a man who is alive should dwell in corruption. "Why seek ye the living among the dead?" saidthe angel to Magdalene. Should the living dwell among the dead? Should divine life be found amongst the corruptions of worldlylusts? The bride of Christ drunken! Frequenting the ale-house! A member of Christ's body foundintoxicated in the streets, or lying, or blaspheming, or dishonest! God forbid. Shall I take the members of Christ, andmake them members of a harlot? How can I drink the cup of the Lord, and drink the cup of Belial? How can it be possible thatI can have life, and yet dwell in the black, dark, foul, filthy, pestiferous tomb of the world's lusts? Surely, brethren,from these open lusts and sins ye have escaped: have ye also escaped from slothfulness? Have ye clean escaped from carnalsecurity?Are we seeking day by day to live above worldliness, and love of the things of the world, and the ensnaring avarice whichthey nourish? Remember, it is for this that you have been enriched with the treasures of God. Do not, oh, I conjure you, donot, chosen of God and beloved by him, and so graciously enriched, do not suffer all this lavish treasure to be wasted uponyou.
There is nothing which my heart desires more than to see you, the members of this Church, distinguished for holiness: it isthe Christian's crown and glory. An unholy Church! it is of no use to the world, and of no esteem among men. Oh! it is anabomination, hell's laughter, heaven's abhorrence. And the larger the Church, the more influential, the worse nuisance doesit become, when it becomes dead and unholy. The worst evils which have ever come upon the world, have beenbrought upon her by an unholy Church. Whence came the darkness of the dark ages? From the Church of Rome. And if we wantto see the world again sitting in Egyptian darkness, bound with fetters of iron, we have only to give up the faith, and torenounce holiness of life, and we may drag the world down again to the limbo of superstition, and bind her fast in chainsof ignorance and vice. O Christian, the vows of God are upon you. You are God's priest: act as such. You are God's king: reignoveryour lusts. You are God's chosen: do not associate with Belial. Heaven is your portion; live like a heavenly spirit, soshall you prove that you have the true faith; but except ye do this, your end shall be to lift up your eyes in hell, and findyourself mistaken when it will be too late to seek or find a remedy. The Lord give us the faith and the life, for Jesus' sake.Amen.