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tially, and from its very nature, of merely typical and temporary character, or of only local and limited obligation,every general precept which has not been either directly or virtually repealed by the Gospel,) when he solemnly commanded his disciples to “search the Scriptures”; and when, in various instances, he exemplified and sanctioned the practice of referring to the books of the Old Testament, both for the establishment of divine truth, and for the direction of human conduct.
Thus it appears, that the whole system of revealed truth is justly entitled to the high and honourable designation of “the saying” or words of Christ.”
But what is that keeping of his saying which our Divine Master describes as characteristic of his true disciples ? It implies,
1. The knowledge and belief of revealed truth in the understanding. We cannot keep what we do not know; nor can the doctrines or the laws of Christ be expected to exert any practical influence on a man's heart or life, unless his judgment shall have previously discerned their nature and import, and been convinced of their truth and obligation. Whoever, therefore, will keep the saying of Christ, must begin by a diligent investigation of those sacred oracles, which contain the records of his mind and will. The Holy Scriptures must be the subjects of his careful study. To these he must have continual recourse “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” He must thankfully improve every opportunity, which the Providence of God may place within his reach, of becoming accurately acquainted with their true meaning; and must refuse no help, public or private, which may enable him to “grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” Above all, he must implore by earnest prayer the enlightening agency of the Holy Spirit. “Consider what I say,” was the advice of Paul to TIMOTHY; "and,” he immediately adds, “ the Lord give thee understanding in all things:"—thus teaching, that without divine illumination, as well as human diligence,
little progress can be made in the science of salvation. The understanding must be supernaturally "opened," and rescued from the bias of worldly prejudices and passions, before it can duly “understand the Scriptures,” acquire just and impressive views of spiritual things, apprehend sacred verities in their proper order and proportion, their beauty, harmony, and glory, or perceive their matchless dignity and importance as “the true sayings of God.” If any man lack this heavenly wisdom, let him ask of God, and it shall be given him. Then, in God's light shall he see light.
2. To keep the saying of Christ implies the careful and conscientious retention of it in the memory. It is not sufficient to have devoted some one particular period of our lives to the investigation of our Chistian privileges and obligations, or to have been once taught of God what we ought to be and to do. The habitual recollection of the lessons thus received is often enjoined in the Scriptures, as a duty in which we should exercise ourselves unto godliness. “We ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip,” as water wastes away out of a leaky vessel. “Ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you.” In the first and third chapters of St. Peter's Second Epistle, that Apostle speaks in strong terms on the importance of this duty; and assigns it as a reason of his writing that he was anxious to assist the churches, into whose hands his letter might come, in its due and regular performance. “I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance. This second Epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance ; that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour."
The duty of retaining “the things revealed" being thus
proved, how may that duty be successfully accomplished ? Chiefly, I think, by two methods :-First, by the continued use of those means from which we have derived our present information ; by an habitual recurrence to those fountains of light, from which alone the streams of heavenly influence and illumination flow; by a constant and persevering attention, “in season and out of season,” at every fitting opportunity, to “the word of God and prayer;" 'including not only the private perusal of that word, but also its stated public ministrations, which even men who really have in some sense “more understanding than their teachers” always need, and, if truly wise and humble, will always be the first to value, as an ordinance designed and calculated “to stir them up, by putting them in remembrance:"-and, Secondly, by abounding in the exercise of holy meditation. When the shepherds “made known abroad the saying which was told them” by the angel concerning the birth of our Saviour, we are first informed by the evangelist that “all they that heard it wondered," ?-a very profitless emotion, truly, if they rested in this merely transient feeling; andit is but too possible that admiring but unfruitful hearers of the gospel, as well as its profane despisers, should, after all, both “ wonder and perish.” There was one, however, who heard to better and holier purpose, and who derived abiding benefit and consolation from the celestial message. For the historian adds, to his statement that “all wondered," these instructive words-—But MARY kept these things, and pondered them in her heart." The way to keep divine sayings is to ponder them in our hearts, to familiarize them to our minds, and to imprint them on our memories, by a sedulous and determined direction of our thoughts and attention to these subjects of everlasting interest. How much precious time might we thus profitably redeem from mental indolence and listlessness, or from vain thoughts and frivolous occupations; and how often, when so employed, might it be our privilege to say with David, “My meditation of him shall be sweet; I will be glad in the Lord."
3. To keep the saying of Christ implies the love of his truth, abiding and operating, as a governing and sanctifying principle, in the heart and affections. No knowledge of Christian doctrine, however clear and comprehensive, no retention of it in the memory, however exact and perfect, will produce any saving benefit, unless the heart be suitably affected by the truth thus understood and remembered, and filled with a sincere and lively attachment to it. It is by this test that the knowledge which is the result of a divine illumination, may be distinguished from mere theory and speculation, and from a barren intellectual apprehension. The former, under the gracious agency of the Holy Spirit, interests the heart, and excites in it correspondent dispositions; while the latter leaves it habitually cold and obdurate. It is " with the heart” that " man believeth unto righteousness.” It is the sin and misery of “them that perish,” that “they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.” The good seed of the gospel is then said to be sown on good ground, and is likely to bring forth fruit, when they that have heard the word keep it in an honest and good heart," a heart made such by the renewing influence of the Divine Spirit. Our blessed Lord had therefore the best possible reason for saying to his apostles, “ He that loveth me not, keepeth not my sayings;" for no man will keep his sayings who is not first made to love them; and there can be no true love to his sayings, until the love of Himself be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost given to us. Hence it follows, that none but pardoned and justified persons, who love the Saviour because he first loved them, and has washed them from their sins in his own blood,-and none but regenerate persons, in whom the carnal mind which is enmity against God, and is not subject to the law of God neither indeed can be, has been superseded by that spiritual mind which affects and loves divine things, and brings life and peace,-none but these are qualified for keeping the saying of Christ, in that sense of the phrase to which the promise of the text is annexed. Those sayings of Christ which
require “repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ," must, first of all, be studied, remembered, and cordially received. When in this appointed way of penitence and faith we obtain remission of sins, and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, as the Spirit of adoption and of renewing grace, then are we enabled to keep the other sayings of Jesus, honestly, cheerfully, and uniformly. It is the principle of grateful love to our pardoning God, that makes our willing feet in swift obedience move;" and we “find it perfect liberty to serve” the Lord Christ.
4. Practical obedience to the general requirements of the gospel, is another thing implied in keeping the saying of Christ. He only can be allowed rightly to know and remember, or sincerely to love, the truth as it is in Jesus, who is, in the course and habit of his life, “a doer of the word.” Listen to the solemn admonition of the great teacher himself: “Every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon
the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the wind blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” No further argument can be necessary to prove that, to keep Christ's saying, we must live under its influence; we must keep it as the rule by which we are to be governed, and as the way in which we are to travel on our journey to our Heavenly Father's kingdom. From the gospel we must derive our principles of action, and our maxims of conduct, in every relation and concern of life. It must be our conscientious purpose and strenuous endeavour, in dependence on his all-sufficient grace, implicitly to believe the doctrines of Jesus, thankfully to embrace his promises, humbly to obey his precepts, and devoutly to observe all his wise and holy institutions.
5. The character described in the text includes, lastly, a steadfast adherence to the truth of Christ, and the persevering profession and advocacy of it, according to our means and opportunities, to the close of our earthly pilgrimage. To