Verse 12. "That the name of our Lord" - This is the great end of your Christian calling, that Jesus who hath died for you may have his passion and death magnified in your life and happiness; that ye may show forth the virtues of him who called you from darkness into his marvellous light.
"And ye in him" - That his glorious excellence may be seen upon you; that ye may be adorned with the graces of his Spirit, as he is glorified by your salvation from all sin.
"According to the grace" - That your salvation may be such as God requires, and such as is worthy of his grace to communicate. God saves as becomes God to save; and thus the dignity of his nature is seen in the excellence and glory of his work.
1. IT is an awful consideration to the people of the world, that persecutions and afflictions should be the lot of the true Church, and should be the proof of its being such; because this shows more than any thing else the desperate state of mankind, their total enmity to God; they persecute, not because the followers of God have done or can do them hurt, but they persecute because they have not the Spirit of Christ in them! Men may amuse themselves by arguing against the doctrine of original sin, or the total depravity of the soul of man; but while there is religious persecution in the world, there is the most absolute disproof of all their arguments. Nothing but a heart wholly alienated from God could ever devise the persecution or maltreatment of a man, for no other cause but that he has given himself up to glorify God with his body and spirit, which are his.
2. The everlasting destruction of the ungodly is a subject that should be continually placed before the eyes of men by the preachers of the Gospel.
How shall a man be induced to take measures to escape a danger of the existence of which he is not convinced? Show him the hell which the justice of God has lighted up for the devil and his angels, and in which all Satan's children and followers must have their eternal portion. All the perfections of God require that he should render to every man his due.
And what is the due of a sinner or a persecutor, of one who is a determinate enemy to God, goodness, and good men? Why, everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power. And if God did not award this to such persons, he could not be the God of justice.
3. The grand object of God in giving his Gospel to mankind is to save them from their sins, make them like himself, and take them to his eternal glory.
He saves according to the measure of his eternal goodness; the scanty salvation contended for and expected by the generality of Christians, it would be dishonourable to God to administer. He saves according to his grace. His own eternal goodness and holiness is the measure of his salvation to man; not the creeds and expectations of any class of Christians. To be saved at all, we must not only be saved in God's way, and upon his own terms, but also according to his own measure. He who is not filled with the fullness of God cannot expect the glory of God.
4. Another proof of the fall and degeneracy of men is, their general enmity to the doctrine of holiness; they cannot bear the thought of being sanctified through body, soul, and spirit, so as to perfect holiness in the fear of God.
A spurious kind of Christianity is gaining ground in the world. Weakness, doubtfulness, littleness of faith, consciousness of inward corruptions, and sinful infirmities of different kinds, are by some considered the highest proofs of a gracious state; whereas in the primitive Church they would have been considered as evidences that the persons in question had received just light enough to show them their wretchedness and danger, but not the healing virtue of the blood of Christ.