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their contempt in the testimony of our own consciences, and in the approbation of our God. We know that it is our duty to despise all the vanities which the world can offer us1, and that, if we would not be found enemies of God in the last day, we must relinquish all desire after that friendship of the world, which is enmity with God: let us therefore go on boldly in the way of duty, and if we meet with a cross in our road, let us not turn aside from it, but take it up and glory in it.]
3. Seek more and more conformity to the Saviour's image
[The command of God is, "Be not comformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds." The way in which we are to comply with this command is set before us in our Lord's example. We are not indeed to attempt the things which were peculiar to him as a Prophet of the Most High God; but to get the same mind which was in him; to imitate him in his spirit and temper, and to manifest the same superiority to things visible and temporal, and the same decided preference for things invisible and eternal: then, like the higher regions of the atmosphere, we shall remain serene, while those who grovel on the earth are agitated by incessant tempests. "Come out then from the world, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and God will be a father unto you, and ye shall be his sons and daughters':" and know that the more your conversation is in heaven now, the greater will be your meetness for it whenever you shall be called hence.]
i 1 John ii. 15, 16.
k Jam. iv. 4.
1 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18.
THE END FOR WHICH CHRIST DEDICATED HIMSELF TO GOD.
John xvii. 19. For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
THE sanctification of men is no less necessary for their usefulness in this world, than it is for their happiness in the world to come. Hence our blessed Lord, in his intercessory prayer, made this a very prominent subject of his requests in behalf of his Disciples whom he was about to leave in the midst of an ensnaring world: "sanctify them through thy truth:
thy word is truth." And for the encouragement of all his followers to the latest period of the world he declares, that the attainment of this object in their behalf has been a very principal end of all that he ever had done, or was at that instant doing, for them: "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth."
In opening to you these words I will shew,
I. What is that act to which our Lord here refersTo "sanctify" means to purify from sin, and to devote to God. In the former sense it may be properly applied to men: but it is in the latter sense only that it can have any reference to Christ.
Under the Mosaic law the priests and all the vessels of the sanctuary were sanctified to the Lord'. The offerings there made, all shadowed forth the Lord Jesus Christ, who sanctified and set apart himself to the work of saving a ruined world. This he did, 1. When he first undertook our cause
[From eternity he entered into covenant with the Father to redeem our souls by his own obedience unto death: and the utter insufficiency of all other sacrifices being acknowledged, he engaged to offer himself a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world c
2. When he assumed our nature
[St. Paul cites the foregoing passage with an express reference to "the time of Christ's coming into the world:" and there is a remarkable variation in his language suited to that occasion. In the Psalm it is said, " Mine ear hast thou opened;" referring to the law which ordained that a servant who devoted himself for ever to the service of his Master, should "have his ear bored through with an awld:" but in the Epistle it is said, "a body hast thou prepared me." At his incarnation there-fore he sanctified himself afresh to this great work.]
3. When he submitted to the baptism of John
[John wished to decline the office of baptizing so exalted a person. But, on entering upon the office assigned him, the Lord Jesus Christ judged it necessary to consecrate himself to it afresh by this solemn ordinance, in which he was openly and
a ver. 17.
d Exod. xxi. 5, 6.
b Exod. xxx. 26-29. c Ps. xl. 6-8. e Heb. x. 5-7.
ostensibly devoted unto God: "Suffer it to be so now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness."]
4. When he went up to Jerusalem in order to his crucifixion
[The paschal lamb was to be separated and set apart four days, in order to its being fully ascertained by the most accurate examination, that it was without spot or blemish, and therefore fit to be offered in sacrifice to God. And on the fourth day previous to his crucifixion did our blessed Lord go up to Jerusalem, that after the strictest examination his very judges might proclaim his innocence, and consequently his fitness for the work assigned him, of making an atonement for the sins of the whole world. And his persisting in his work in opposition to all the dictates of suffering humanity, shewed that on this occasion also he sanctified himself to the office he had undertaken h."]
5. When he surrendered up himself into the hands of his murderers
[He beat them all to the ground, when they came to apprehend him; to shew that he could with his word have struck them all dead upon the spot. He took care also to exempt his Disciples from a participation of his lot, because their work was scarcely yet begun. But himself he resigned into the hands of sinners, in order that all which he had undertaken to do and suffer might be accomplished in him.]
Having seen what the act was, let me shew, II. What light his performance of it throws upon his
There was a most mysterious composition in his character
[All others, even Aaron himself, were sanctified through the instrumentality of one appointed to that office: but Christ "sanctified himself." He was at the same time the Sacrifice, and the Priest that offered it, and the Altar on which it was offered.]
And this it was which gave his offering its efficacy
[Had he been a mere man, his sacrifice could never have availed for the redemption of the world. But he was God and man in one person: and his divinity, whilst it gave an infinite value to his sacrifice, both qualified and authorized him to present himself a sacrifice to God. Both his body and soul
f Matt. iii. 15. 8 Exod. xii. 3, 6. i John xviii. 4-8.
h John xii. 12, 13, 27, 28. * Heb. xiii. 10.
were alike offered; the one to endure all that was due to our bodies, the other, all that was due to our souls. And his was, not a typical offering, like those presented under the law, but a real and true propitiation for sin. Nor did his sacrifice avail for a typical and temporary remission of sins, but for the full -Thus the exand everlasting forgiveness of all sin1 pression in my text, whilst it seems to convey nothing very particular to the mind, gives us, in reality, an insight into the deepest mysteries of our religion, and shews, that it was God who purchased the Church with his own blood"."]
Stupendous in this view, was the act to which he referred. But let us consider,
III. What his ends were in the performance of it
Generally, it was for the sake of his people that he did this. But particularly, it was, "that they might be sanctified through the truth."
The sanctification of his people was a very principal end which he aimed at in all that he did and suffered for them
[His people must be sanctified unto the Lord, even as he The different vessels of the sanctuary, no less than the offerings presented there, were altogether devoted to the Lord. In like manner must the disciples of Christ be sanctified. In this view they are called "a kind of first-fruits," which could on no account, and in no degree, be alienated from the Lord". Nay more, we are called to "offer up our whole selves living sacrifices unto the Lord, as a reasonable and acceptable service." And that we might be thus sanctified was the great end of all that our blessed Lord either did or suffered for us: "he gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works P." And the very same object he still keeps in view in all that he is at this moment doing for us in heaven ".]
This however must be accomplished through the instrumentality of his word
[His Holy Spirit indeed is the agent, without whom not even the word itself would produce any good effect. But he is pleased to make use of his word as the means of quickening us to a heavenly life', and of carrying on his work where it is begun, and of completing it even to the end.
His word is
n Jam. i. 18.
q Rom. xiv. 9.
2 Tim. iii. 16, 17.
the mould into which we are to be cast", and by which we shall be altogether changed into the divine image. This is the state to which he desires to bring us; and by his word ministered he will turn us from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God."]
OBSERVE now from hence,
1. How great is the love of Christ to fallen man!
[He well knew all that he must endure if he would become a substitute and surety for fallen man: yet he undertook our cause, and came down from heaven for us, and never ceased from his work till he could say, "It is finished". Methinks the ox and the ass may well reproach our more than brutish ingratitude" — ——]
2. What obligations have we to holiness!
[By holiness I mean, a total surrender of ourselves to God. And if we aspire not after this, what do we but pour contempt upon all that Christ has done and suffered for us, and cause him, as far as lies in our power, to have “sanctified himself" in vain. What excuse shall we offer for this when he shall call us into judgment? Verily if, being "called to be saints," we be not found so at the last day, it would be better for us never to have heard of Christ at all -] 3. What guilt do they contract who turn back from the service of their God!
[As Aaron and his sons were sanctified with the blood of the Mosaic covenant", so are we with the blood of the Christian covenant. And, "if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, we do, in fact, tread under foot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant wherewith we have been sanctified an unholy thing, and do despite unto the Spirit of grace." What then awaits us in the eternal world? The despisers of Moses' law died without mercy: but a much sorer punishment will come on us, even the everlasting wrath of our offended Goda. O let not any of
you turn back unto perdition; but be of those who believe unto the saving of their souls".]