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to Him, in consequence of His benefits conferred upon them; and also a profession that their hopes are directed to the rest, or keeping of a sabbath, which remaineth for the people of God 54 in His eternal kingdom and glory.
Let us thus render honour to Him to whom honour is due ; remembering that our “duty towards God is to believe in Him, to fear Him, and to love Him with all our heart, with all our mind, with all our soul, and with all our strength; to worship Him, to give Him thanks, to put our whole trust in Him, to call upon Him, to honour His holy name, and His word, and to serve Him truly all the days of our life.” Thus honouring Him here on earth, it will be our privilege, since He has promised, Them that honour Me, I will honour, 56 to look forward in hope that we shall receive the honour of which all His saints will partake in His eternal kingdom and glory. That this blessedness may be vouchsafed to us, may God of His infinite mercy grant, for Christ's sake: To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory ascribed, now and for ever.
54 Hebrews iv. 9.
55 1 Samuel ii. 30.
FIFTH SUNDAY AFTER EPIPHANY.
Colossians iii. 17.
AND WHATSOEVER YE DO IN WORD OR DEED,
DO ALL IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS, GIVING THANKS TO GOD AND THE FATHER BY HIM .
To show the superiority of Christianity in its principles and precepts to every thing that had before been exhibited to the world, is the object which appears to have been proposed by the selection of Epistles for the Sundays after the Epiphany. In that which is appointed for this day, believers in Christ are addressed under the characters of the elect of God, holy and beloved, and are exhorted to manifest in their dispositions and behaviour a conduct suitable to these characters. The first of these characteristics of the
children of God, is one which is viewed with peculiar jealousy by the people of the world; who, although their minds are set on earthly things, yet cannot endure that others should be more the favourites of heaven, as they term it, than themselves. But that God has a chosen people among mankind, whom He has formed for Himself to show forth His praise, is the uniform testimony of the holy scriptures. And that there is a distinction made between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God, and him that serveth Him not, 56 has been evident from the days of Cain and Abel. Thus, after the flood, Abraham was selected by Divine grace to be the friend of God, and the depositary of His blessings to the world, when all around him had fallen into idolatry; and his posterity were made the peculiar people of God for many ages, while the whole world had sunk into the grossest ignorance of God and disobedience to His laws, so as to work all uncleanness with greediness, 57 being dead in trespasses and sins.
When the religion of Christ was made known to the Gentiles, and they were invited to partake of its blessings, those who embraced it were denominated the elect people of God. The apostle Paul says to the Christians at Ephesus: The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
56 Malachi iii. 18.
57 Ephesians iv. 19.
hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love ; having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.58 St. Peter addresses his first epistle to those who were elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. 59 So our Saviour said to His disciples, Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit. Believers in Christ are spoken of-as the elect of God, in order to promote their humiliation, and selfabasement before Him, since it is not on account of any
merit of theirs, but of His own grace that He has chosen them to be His people; and to fill them with gratitude and love to Him who has shown His mercy to His undeserving creatures.
When this characteristic of the people of God is mentioned, it is always in connection with holiness. The elect of God are holy persons. As Moses said to the Israelites, Thou art a holy people unto the Lord thy God; the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself above all people that are upon the face of the earth.6i So the apostle Peter said to believers in Christ, Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people ; that ye should show forth the praises of Him, who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light.62 As such, they follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.63 As He which hath called them is holy, so are they to be holy in all manner of conversation ; because it is written, Be ye holy, for I am Holy. It is their prayer to the God of peace, the Lord the Spirit, that He would sanctify them wholly; that their whole spirit and soul and body may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.65
58 Eph. i. 4-6.
59 1 Peter i. 2.
60 John xv. 16.
They are also beloved of God. He has loved them in Christ Jesus with an everlasting love, and therefore with loving kindness has drawn66 them to Himself, to believe in His name, and to put their trust in His mercy. Such are the characteristics of the people of God. They are made known in the word of God in order to lead us to self-examination. If we are numbered among the elect people of God, we shall be humble from a sense of our unworthiness, and thankful for His goodness to us. We shall also be holy persons, who deny ungodliness, and worldly lusts, and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present
61 Deut. vii. 6. 62 1 Pet. ii. 9. 63 Heb. xii. 14. 64 1 Pet. i. 15, 16.