Nevertheless, we must live up to what we have already attained.
I. CONSIDER THE DUTY OF BELIEVERS TO WALK IN THE FULNESS OF PRESENT TRUTH. The saints, who are here described as perfect, including that very apostle who had just said he was not perfect, are to be regarded as perfect in the sense of adultness of understanding. They were not "babes in Christ;" they had put away childish things; they had assumed the apostle's position concerning the Law. But on this very ground they were to stand strongly consistent in all moral and spiritual development. They were to be like the apostle, forgetting the past and pressing onward to the mark for the heavenly prize.
II. BELIEVERS MAY NOT SEE EYE TO EYE, BUT ARE ENCOURAGED TO LOOK TO THE LORD FOR FULLER KNOWLEDGE. " And if in anything ye be otherwise minded, God will reveal even this to you." The principle is ever tree. "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God? If a believer is rooted in the faith of Christ, the Lord will help him to see the truth respecting minor matters.
III. So FAR AS BELIEVERS AGREE, THEY OUGHT TO SHOW A VISIBLE CONFORMITY OF LIFE AND OPINION. "But let us walk according to that we have attained." Thus
(1) God is glorified;
(2) believers are maintained in a peaceful fellowship;
(3) the world is impressed and won by the exhibition of Christian unity. - T.C.
Nevertheless whereto we have already attainedI. GOD HAS LEFT HIS CHURCH A RULE OF FAITH AND MANNERS. This is a rule whereby men must walk, otherwise we should be in a labyrinth of error, having no other light but the torch of nature.
II. THE PROPERTIES OF THIS RULE.
1. Unchangeableness. Therefore we must bring all to it; not it to all.
2. Perspicuous. "A lamp unto my feet," etc.
3. Homogeneal. All things therein are spiritual and holy; and therefore, when the question is about religion, we must have recourse thereto as the only absolute complete rule.
III. A CHRISTIAN WALKETH BY THIS RULE. He thinks it not sufficient to take a step, but keeps a right course steadfastly onward. How may this be done?
1. Let us treasure up the word in our consciences. Let us get the rule within us; get the articles of faith and assurance of the promises, and let this be betimes while we are young. It is the ordinary cry, "The Scriptures are hard, they cannot understand them." But the reason is they are bred up in earthly businesses, and are stuffed with them so as they find no place for the Word; and it is a miracle to see men thus brought up to live by this rule.
2. When we have once treasured up the knowledge of these things, we must learn to apply them upon several occasions; for where no practice is, there knowledge is idle, and makes us worthy of more stripes. Many have general truths in their minds, but coming to apply them, they find a great want. David knew adultery was a sin, and Peter knew it was dangerous for a man to rely on himself, yet how foully did they fall.
3. Let us compare our experience with our rule. We shall find there is nothing therein but is fulfilled; there is no suffering but for sin; and that besides heaven hereafter, God rewards particular obedience here with particular rewards; and particular sin with particular corrections. We shall know that His judgments are not scarecrows.
4. Be inquisitive and watchful over our particular steps. Take and hear admonitions and instructions. Those that are otherwise minded, no marvel if they, like libertines, spurn against all instruction and advice, and accordingly feel the smart of their ways before they see it.
5. Get a wonderful jealousy over our hearts. We often offend in thoughts and desires, which God, the searcher of the heart, looks into; and we must therefore be jealous of idle thoughts and words.
(R. Sibbes, D. D.)I. IN ITS MEASURES — various — we may have outstripped others — are yet far behind.
II. ITS MEANS.
1. Determined by the will of God.
2. Proved by experience.
3. Must be persevered in.
(J. Lyth, D. D.)
(N. Smyth, D. D.)
(T. Guthrie, D. D.)
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