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* Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” To come to the knowledge of Christ, is to have the same mind as was in him, and to walk as he walked. So far as we agte in that holy temper and life, which his example exhibits, and his gospel requires, we come to the unity of the knowledge of him.
As our conformity to Christ will not be perfect in this world, we never must rest in aita.nments already made, but continually aspire te mie ca veter of a perfect man--to the measure of the getal the fulness of Christ. We must labor; Checosle Christians of full maturity and ripeness in aul those heavenly graces which are derived from him. The apostle says of himself, “ I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He adds, "Let us, as many as are perfect, be thus minded.”
: 1. Our subject should lead us to adore the wisdom of God in the provision made for our edification in knowledge and holiness,
He has given apostles and prophets, pastors and teachers, for the edifying of the body of Christ. He has adapted his gifts to different conditions of the church. In its first ages there were apostles ; in its ordinary state there are pastors. Since the public ministration of the word is an institution of Christ, de. signed for the happiness of fallen men, How inex cusable are they who despise it ? If this is a mean of converting sinners; they who are conscious of their impenitent and guilty state, should seek the grace and mercy of God for their renovation and forgiveness, by a faithful attendance on this institution.
If they put the word of God from them, they judge themselves un. worthy of eternal life. If the ministry is designed for the improvement of saints in knowledge and faith, let
- none, in the pride of their own sufficiency, turn away from it. Are you already perfect? If not, then you need the means of edification ; use them with diligence while you are in this world : In the future you will not need them; there you will come to perfect men.
2. If Christ has given pastors and teachers for our edification, till we come in the unity of faith and knowledge to more perfect men, then such a conduct in ministers, or in private Christians, as tends to disunite the body of Christ, must be highly offensive to him. Ministers should remember, that they are ordained to bring men to a unity in the faith and knowl. edge of Christ, and in love and affection to one another. They should unite their influence to accomplish this end. If they cause divisions and offences, they walk contrary to the doctrine which they have received. They serve not the Lord Jesus. Christians should walk together in love, and study the things which make for peace, both in the church of which they are members, and among other churches of our common Lord.
3. What cause have we to be humble, that, under our means of growth, we fall so much below the stature of perfect men ! Let us compare ourselves with the precepts and pattern of Jesus Christ. How much we come short of that purity which his gospel requires, and which his life in the flesh exemplified ! It would be useful, that we should take a frequent review of our lives that we should daily examine the temper of our hearts. Thus we may learn what manner of spirit we are of what progress we make, or whether any at all-in what respects our tempers need correction, and our lives amendment--and thus we shall be excited to come to the throne of grace, that we may obtain grace to help in the time of need.
4. Let us make continual improvement in religion. This is the best evidence of our sincerity. Christ, who has given pastors and teachers for the ministry, has a fulness of the Spirit at his disposal. Of his ful. ness we may receive grace suited to our cases, and equal to our wants. While we attend on his institu. tions, let us implore his blessing to accompany them ; and thus endeavor to rise above the world, to purge a. way our remaining corruptions, to strengthen every holy principle, and to abound more and more in every grace and good work, till we come, in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.
Christian Stability and Maturity.
PHESIANS iv. 14, 15, 16,
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and cara ried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait 10 deceive ; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ ; from whom the whole body, fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makoth increase to the edifying of itself in love.
In the preceding verses, the Apostle observes, that Christ instituted the gospel ministry for the edifi. cation of his body, the church, until we all come, in the unity of the faith and knowledge of Christ, unto a perfect man. Wherein this complete manhood consists, and by what means we must endeavor to attain it, he instructs us in the words which have been read.
Christian maturity is a steady belief of, and obedience to the gospel, in opposition to fickleness and inconstancy. The way in which we are to obtain and preserve this maturity is union with Jesus Christ, from whom the whole body of believers, compacted and cemented together by every joint of supply, according to its
power in the proportion of every part, maketh in. crease of the body to the edifying of itself in love.
The Apostle here describes the perfect man, or mature Christian, both negatively and positively. He is not a child tossed to and fro, and carried about with ev. ery wind of doctrine : But he is one, who, having embraced and professed the truth with a real love of it, grows up into Christ in all things.
We will, first, consider the negative part of this description.
Christ instituted the gospel ministry, that believers, arriving to maturity in faith and knowledge, should no more be children, tossed to and fro, and driven about with every wind, by the sleight of men, and the cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.
Several metaphors are here used to express that weakness and versatility, which some discover, and which honest Christians, under the ministry of the word, will endeavor to outgrow.
1. Christians must not remain children.
In humility, meekness and teachableness let them be children; but in understanding, constancy and forti. tude they should be men. While, as new born babes, they desire the sincere milk of the word, let them so use it as to grow thereby.
u Call no man your father on earth,” says our Lord, " for one is your father in heaven." Children have but little knowledge, and but a weak judgment. They are guided more by the opinions of others, than by personal conviction. They may be led right or wrong, according as the examples which they see, and the counsels which they hear, are good, or evil. They believe hastily, and act implicitly. They are governed by passion more than reason-by feeling more than judgment.--Now, in distinction from this childish temper, be ye fully persuaded in your own minds. Judge for yourselves what is right. Prove all things, and hold fast that which is good. Make the word of truth, not the opinions of men, the rule of your faith and conduct. Follow no man blindly, but look well to