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bought them, had nobly preferred the stake of the martyr and the salvation of the soul, to the worthless privilege of life, with its certain consequence, everlasting wo; for they were not ignorant that the Saviour himself had declared,-" Whosoever shall confess me before men, him will I confess before my Father which is in heaven."
Brethren, I should be guilty of manifest injustice to my subject, and I should be as manifestly guilty of unfaithfulness to God and to your souls, were I to omit the mention of the practical remarks which most naturally arise from the preceding consideration; and in order that I may discharge my duty with as much brevity as the nature of Gospel faithfulness will allow, I will confine your attention in the remainder of the present discourse to such practical remarks, leaving the other portions of this interesting epistle as subjects for future consideration, should it be the will of God to afford us the opportunity.
It was the distinction of certain members of the Church of Pergamos, that being rooted and grounded in the faith, they did not deny the name of Christ. Is this your distinction? Let us test this matter, and on this experiment, exhaust the time which may be allotted us, and spend the strength and energy of our effort.
I have already told you, brethren, that the high commendation passed upon the members of the Church of Pergamos was, that in a time of peculiar trial, and in a place of peculiar abomination and persecution, they had held to the name and had not denied the faith of their Master. I have already stated that these two terms are so nearly synony
mous that they need not to be made the subject of separate consideration; or to adopt the language of a most judicious, as well as elegant writer, "possibly these two qualities may be considered as standing towards each other in the relation of cause and effect." Their adherence to the faith of Christ was under the influence of the Holy Spirit, the source of their adherence to his name, i. e. to the open, honest, manly profession of the Gospel of a crucified Saviour. Every other quality in the Christian must, to a considerable degree, take its colouring and dimensions from his belief. By faith he walks; the life that he lives in the flesh, he lives by the faith of the Son of God. By faith he overcomes the world. When the Apostle Paul, in that delightful chapter of his epistle to the Hebrews, in which he collects the servants of God, of every age and country, and causes them to pass by as in triumphant procession, records their achievements in the cause of God and humanity, he does not for an instant hesitate to impute one and all of these to the faith which they possessed. By faith Abel and Noah, Abraham and Moses, and all those of whom the world was not worthy, obtained a good report. A deficiency in practice or temper, therefore, at once indicates a defect in faith; and he who would lay his axe at the root of the evil, must assail, not only the outward defect, but the inward corruption in which that defect originates.
You deny the faith, and of course the name of Christ,
1. When you do not supremely rest on him as your only hope of pardon and acceptance with God.
2. When you are afraid or ashamed to take a
bold and determined stand on his side, in the face of friend or foe, for life or for death, as the case may be.
3. When you do not exhibit to the world the testimony of the faith which you profess to have.
1st. You deny the faith, and you hold not to the name of Christ, when you do not supremely rest on him as your only hope of pardon and salvation.
Faith in Christ necessarily implies a decided recognition of those fundamental principles, his true and proper divinity, and the efficacy of his death as a sacrifice for sin. Without these, Christianity becomes reduced to a mere code of morals, and loses the very life-blood of the system. To deny the divinity of Christ is to deny his faith; for it were absurd, to speak of faith in Christ, if it went no further than the acknowledgment of him as a prophet sent from heaven; for if he sustained no loftier character, salvation might as well be predicated on faith in Moses and the other prophets. To deny the divinity of Christ, is to deny the atonement which he made for sin; for the divinity of Christ is to the doctrine of atonement what the soul is to the body. Gainsay either the one or the other, and you make shipwreck of the faith at once, and abandon all hold upon the name of Christ, and with it all legitimate claims upon the title or the character of Christians. But, my friends, this is not the point on which, in these practical remarks, I desire to be specially concerned. It is possible that we may be completely orthodox on these great points, so far as mere speculation is concerned, and yet not rest supremely upon him as our only hope of par
don and salvation, for unless we embrace the Gospel plan of salvation thoroughly and heartily, in all the particulars necessarily connected with it, we still deny the name and the faith of Christ, though we do it by a route more circuitous. Thus, to hold to the name of Christ, implies the recognition of our entire lost and ruined state by nature; and this not as a general truth merely, but as an individual conviction of the heart; for while this world shall stand, never will a sinner look to the Lord Jesus Christ for pardon and salvation, and desire to be complete in him as justified and sanctified, unless there is an antecedent conviction of the ruin and spiritual death in which he himself is involved. The faith and the name of Christ is denied, whenever either in theory or by practice, we build one solitary hope of ultimate salvation upon any thing short of the merits and the righteousness of Christ. For if the sinner's justification comes in any other way, then is Christ dead in vain. And yet, here is the rock on which thousands, calling themselves by the name of Christ, are wrecked and lost. They seek to carve out a righteousness of their own, and their object is to make God's mercy a debtor to their doings. This is because they are willingly in ignorance of God's righteousness, and have no just conception of the holiness, and the uncompromising spirit of his law. If there is an individual who would build on his own morality or general goodness, one solitary hope; if the thought even passes through his mind with delight, he in fact denies the name and the faith of Christ, because he does not depend on that method of God's mercy which fixes the only procuring cause of the sinner's pardon on
Turn ye then from lost and perishing
the death and righteousness of him who became a sin-offering for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. every refuge of vanity, and as sinners, seek the mercy of God, through the infinite merit of the blood of the atonement; for on no other ground have I ever been able to perceive for sinners, the prospect or the possibility of pardon. And if on mere morality; if on the mere profession of religion; if on the mere possession of a Christian name and Christian privileges; if on any thing short of the true foundation which God hath laid in Zion, you rest your hopes; there stands at this hour against you the charge of denying the name and the faith of Christ. For, apart from this, you cannot believe in Christ to the saving of the soul; and he that believeth not, is condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on him, and will there abide, till it finds him in the mansions of eternal wo, unless in the time of his merciful visitation he is brought to a purer faith, and to the simplicity of a Gospel truth. This is essential to an exemption from the charge of denying the name and the faith of Christ.
Once more: We deny the faith and the name of Christ, when we are either ashamed or afraid to take upon ourselves a bold and decided stand on the side of Christ, in the face of friend or of foe, for life or for death.
Do I not read the character of many an one among you, my friends, when I say that you are either afraid or ashamed of the reproach of Christ? Oh how ignoble; oh how base and servile; oh how supereminently ungrateful! What should you fear?