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but that he died that the flesh might be crucified with its affections and lusts. They not only preached this doctrine of death with Christ, but they experienced its practical effect in their hearts, and produced its virtues in their lives. What saith Paul ? “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. vi. 14). Thus, by means of the cross he and the world became dead to each other. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. ii. 20). The power of the cross within is the doctrine of the 6th chapter of Romans, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” If we are not practically free from sin, if we are not dead to the world, if our affections are not severed from the world, then we have received the wholesome lessons which the Scriptures teach of the power of the cross in word only. It is vain to say we are dead with Christ, if we walk as men of the earth.
2. The doctrine of porsonal holiness is sound doctrine. Indeed, sound doctrine teaches us that there is no salvation apart from personal holiness. The doctrine of the grace of God teaches us, who have apprehended it, “ that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.” For “ The great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus iii. 13, 14). These things the minister of Christ is to teach ; the contrary of these he is to rebuke with all authority. He must teach that all who have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, are required in the Gospel to walk “in the way of righteousness," and to obey " the holy commandment delivered unto them.” Every deviation from the way of righteousness, and from the strictest morality, is contrary to sound doctrine.
To teach sinful men that God has any other way of saving them than by renewing them and creating them anew unto holiness of life, is to teach another and soul-deceiving Gospel. All saved souls “are created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” If I know what the Gospel teacheth, if I know what sound doctrine is, if I have learned the truth in Christ, it is this," that ye put off the old man, which is corrupt, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. iv. 22—24). As many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them. But I fear multitudes who are not walking according to this rule are yet looking for salvation. They honour the Lord with their lips, while they are walking in the spirit of the world. Oh, let us, as believers in Christ, follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness !
“So let our lips and lives express
The holy Gospel we profess;
To prove the doctrine all divine.” 3. Sound doctrine is that which teaches and produces a practical wery-day religion. It teaches and inculcates the performance of all the relative duties of life. No one acquainted with the New Testament can doubt this. Read the epistles to Timothy and to Titus, and you will find in them that servants who are believers, are exhorted to render their masters good service, “that the name of God and his doctrine may not be spoken against.” Aged men are to be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, sincere in charity, constant in patience. Aged women are exhorted to be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things, that they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children; to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Young men are exhorted to be sober-minded, to be serious and steady in their behaviour, guarding against sensual temptations, and resolute in every part of self-government. Nor is this all : other duties are enjoined. Sound doctrine teaches the Christian to yield obedience to all the laws of the government under which he lives, that are not inconsistent with the law of God. It teaches him to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work. The Christian is to speak evil of no man, to be no brawler, but gentle, showing all meekness unto all men. He is not to despise government, or to speak evil of dignities, or to bring against them a railing accusation. These are the things connected with and inculcated in sound doctrine, and every way becoming it. “These things,” saith the holy Apostle, “ teach and exhort.” “Speak thou the things which become sound doctrine." “ If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained" (1 Tim. iv. 6). “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing” (1 Tim. vi. 3, 4).
Having seen what sound doctrine is, let us next notice its unpopularity in the present day. “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine ”-wholesome teaching—" but after their own lusts they shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they sball turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
This process of turning away from the truth and giving heed to fables had commenced in Paul's own day. Men arose, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Unsound teaching threatened the Church at Ephesus, and Timothy was to stay there to check it (1 Tim. i. 3). Evil appeared in Crete, and Titus was desired to remain there and restrain it. “The mystery of iniquity," said Paul to the Thessalonians,“ doth already work.” But here the Apostle warns us of a time to come, when men shall turn away from the truth to believe fables. Nor is this the only warning given by the Holy Spirit of the temper of men's minds in these last days. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. iv. 1). “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come" (2 Tim. iii. 1)-times perilous to the individual professor, perilous to his faith, and perilous to his soul. The signs that these times have overtaken us are too obvious to be evaded or denied. Nor should we desire to evade them. It is far better to look at them straight in the face, even though their significance may inake us sad, than remain blind to the true condition of things around us. Now we observe: 1. That the non-endurance of sound doctrine is true of many pro. fessors of religion in the present day. “They will not endure sound doctrine.” It does not surprise us that men of the world cannot bear the truth. Truth is never popular. There is no place for it in this world, or in the human heart. But it is a sad sign when those who have the form of godliness experience an inward weariness of the truth of God. This is really the case with many. A lady not long ago pettishly remarked, that she wished her minister would not always preach about our sinfulness and our duties; that Sunday was a day of rest, and she did not wish to be disturbed and annoyed by such things all the time. She could not endure that kind of preachingit was too direct, too probing, too faithful—she was uneasy and impatient under it. This is the case with all who have not the truth in their hearts, they grow weary of hearing it. They disrelish wholesome doctrine. They cannot endure the sin-killing, self-crucifying doctrine of the cross. It is offensive to them. In practice they deny it. They would walk after the flesh, and make provision to fulfil its desires. They dislike to hear of the blessed hope of the Lord's coming! They degrade the practical doctrine to the level of a speculative question. They will not endure the doctrine of personal holiness and practical godliness. Why is it they cannot endure sound doctrine ? Because their own hearts are corrupt; they are not prepared to forsake their sins, and live according to godliness. Sound doctrine, therefore, is unwholesome and unpleasant to the ear, as it opposes their lust, • crosses their thoughts, rebukes and condemns their practices. As unhealthy persons turn away from wholesome food, as persons of weak eyes by dwelling in darkness cannot bear the pleasant light, so men of unhealthy souls cannot relish the wholesome doctrines of the Gospel.
2. Again, as proof that sound doctrine is unpopular, mark the growing desire among Christian professors for preaching that suits and satisfies the flesh. “After their own lusts”—that is, after their own desires—"shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears ”— teachers whose sentiments will be the echo of their own, whose preaching will please the ear, and soothe like a composing draught, an uneasy conscience. They love novelties-go here and there to hear some new religious opinion. They go to hear this and that celebrity, in the hope of having "an intellectual treat;” and care more for cleverness, eloquence, and power of excitement in the preacher, than for purity of doctrine. The preaching they lust after and relish is that which is suitable to their nature and desires ; that, alas! which affords delusive solace to the mind, and renders the indulgence of their lusts consistent with the hope of salvation.
The demand for flesh-pleasing doctrines creates the supply; and as the demand increases the supply increases. There are not a few, but heaps of teachers, who are too ready to feed and foster this unhealthy craving for excitement and novelty. Not long since a clergyman confessed to a friend that solid Gospel preaching failed to give satisfaction to his congregation, and he spoke as if he thought he could not do otherwise than fall in with the prevailing tastes of the age. I fear many ministers, perhaps unconsciously, catch the contagion, and are led to pare down the Gospel to suit modern modes of thought. They aim to captivate and charm, to gratify by acquiescence, and to conciliate by compromise. They prophesy smooth things—things pleasing to itching ears. Preachers of this sort are popular. They are men in high repute. They are regarded as men suited for the times. Large hearted and tolerant, they affect a contempt for creeds and confessions, and all stereotyped forms of thought. They profess to accept the teaching of Scripture, but with liberty reserved to reject any portion of it that does not commend itself to their judgment, “Scripture truth must be made to have a certain elasticity and pliableness. The spirit of the age demands this, and orthodoxy, if it cannot continue to hold a measure of iron, must be content with a more flexible rule of lead.” What is all this but a turning away from the truth of God? The very object of Scripture is to stereotype truth. Flexibility may suit very well these popular compromising teachers, but it has no place in the authoritative teaching of God's unchanging Word.
Multitudes listen to these teachers, and are taken with their speculations and notions, and the result is, faith is abandoned, and error
welcomed. “They shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." Is it not true that errors of every sort and name are being taught by men of superior ability and subtle power ? How many teachers are found in the English Protestant Church, so called, who insist upon adding to the Word of God the traditions of the Church ; who descant on the beauty and necessity of rites and ceremonies; who teach of feasts and fasts, and Councils and Fathers, and of necessary submission to the authority of men. There are others of a different stamp, who can expatiate on the wonders of reason, and lead out the souls of their auditors in metaphysical flights, and teach doctrines of the philosophy of the day intermingled with Scripture phrases. There are grave and earnest men belonging almost to every denomination of Protestantism teaching dangerous doctrines. The doctrine of man's temptation and fall is reduced to a myth. The doctrine of real atonement for sin by the shedding of the Redeemer's blood is being lowered to a mere exhibition of love as a motive to constrain. The specific and direct agency of the Holy Spirit in the conversion of men is in danger of being supplanted by the notion that the truth per se accomplishes this change. The eternity of future punishment is giving place to the notion of restoration after limited punishment, or to the modern one of annihilation. There is no resurrection of the wicked, to them death is an eternal sleep. There are also the subtle and deceitful teachings of the Mormons, the Spiritualists, and Christadelphians, who maintain and disseminate doctrines utterly subversive of the truth as it is in Jesus. They wrest and twist the truth, and teach truly pernicious dogmas which tend to ruin the soul. These evils are dispersed like a pestilential influence far and wide. Alas! many of God's children are following their pernicious ways, giving heed to their teachings, and being influenced by them to abandon the Christian faith.
What will be the issue ? It is sad to contemplate. The Apostle foresees and foretells the issue of voluntary departure from truth. “Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie : that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. ii. 10–12).
My dear reader, you attend a Gospel ministry. “Take heed how ye hear.” The disease of an itching ear works mischief. “Take heed what you hear.” It is of vital importance that you have “good doctrine"_" the faithful word”-doctrine “according to godliness." Take heed what sentiments you imbibe. Let no man deceive you by good words and fair speeches. Be jealous of receiving anything that cannot be proved to be sound by the text of the Bible. Prove what Fou hear, and what is true hold that fast. Think not that false doctrine will meet you in the face and say, "I am false doctrine, I want to come