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Verse 14. For we are made partakers of Christ. We are spiritually united to the Saviour. We become one with him. We partake of his Spirit and allotments. The sacred writers are accustomed to describe the Christian as being closely united to the Saviour, and as being one with him. See Barnes "Joh 15:1, seq., See Barnes "Joh 17:21"; See Barnes "Joh 17:23"; See Barnes "Eph 5:30"; See Barnes "1 Co 12:27".

The idea is, that we participate in all that pertains to him. It is a union of feeling and affection; a union of principle and of congeniality; a union of dependence as well as love; a union where nothing is to be imparted by us, but everything gained; and a union, therefore, on the part of the Redeemer of great condescension. It is the union of the branch to the vine, where the branch is supported and nourished by the vine, and not the union of the ivy and the oak, where the ivy has its own roots, and merely clings around the oak and climbs up upon it. What else can be said so honourable of man as that he is "a partaker of Christ;" that he shares his feelings here, and that he is to share his honours in a brighter world? Compared with this, what is it to participate with the rich and the gay in their pleasures; what would it be to share in the honours of conquerors and kings?

If we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast. See Barnes "Heb 3:6".

If we continue to maintain the same confidence which we had in the beginning, or which we showed at the commencement of our Christian life. At first, they had been firm in the Christian hope. They evinced true and strong attachment to the Redeemer. They were ardent and devoted to his cause. If they continued to maintain that to the end, that is, the end of life; if, in the midst of all temptations and trials they adhered inflexibly to the cause of the Savior, they would show that they were true Christians, and would partake of the blessedness of the heavenly world with the Redeemer. The idea is, that it is only perseverance in the ways of religion that constitutes certain evidence of piety. Where piety is manifested through life, or where there is an untiring devotion to the cause of God, there the evidence is clear and undoubted. But where there is at first great ardour, zeal, and confidence, which soon dies away, then it is clear that they never had any real attachment to him and his cause. It may be remarked here, that the "beginning of the confidence" of those who are deceived, and who know nothing about religion at heart, is often as bold as where there is true piety. The hypocrite makes up in ardour what he lacks in sincerity; and he who is really deceived, is usually deceived under the influence of some strong and vivid emotion, which he mistakes for true religion. Often the sincere convert is calm, though decided, and sometimes is even timorous and doubting; while the self-deceiver is noisy in profession, and clamorous in his zeal, and much disposed to blame the lukewarmness of others. Evidence of piety, therefore, should not be built on that early zeal; nor should it be concluded, that because there is ardour, there is of necessity genuine religion. Ardour is valuable, and true religion is ardent; but there is other ardour than that which the gospel inspires. The evidence of genuine piety is to be found in that which will bear us up under trials, and endure amidst persecution and opposition. The doctrine here is, that it is necessary to persevere if we would have the evidence of true piety. This doctrine is taught everywhere in the Scriptures. Persevere in what? I answer, not

(1.) merely in a profession of religion. A man may do that, and have no piety.

(2.) Not in zeal for party or sect. The Pharisees had that to the end of their lives.

(3.) Not in mere honesty, and correctness of external deportment. A man may do that in the church, as well as out of it, and yet have no religion. But we should persevere

(1) in the love of God and of Christ—in conscious, ardent, steady attachment to Him to whom our lives are professedly devoted.

(2) In the secret duties of religion: in that watchfulness over the heart; that communion with God; that careful study of the Bible; that guardianship over the temper; and in that habitual intercourse with God in secret prayer which is appropriate to a Christian, and which marks the Christian character.

(3) In the performance of the public duties of religion: in leading a Christian life, as distinguished from a life of worldliness and vanity—a life of mere morality and honesty—a life such as thousands lead who are out of the church. There is something which distinguishes a Christian from one who is not a Christian; a religious from an irreligious man. There is something in religion; something which serves to characterize a Christian; and unless that something is manifested, there can be no evidence of true piety. The Christian is to be distinguished in temper, feeling, deportment, aims, plans, from the men of this World; and unless those characteristics are shown in the life and deportment, there can be no well-founded evidence of religion. Learn,

(1.) that it is not mere feeling that furnishes evidence of religion.

(2.) That it is not mere excitement that constitutes religion.

(3.) That it is not mere ardour.

(4.) That it is not mere zeal. All these may be temporary. Religion is something that lasts through life. It goes with a man everywhere. It is with him in trial. It forms his plans; regulates his temper; suggests his words; prompts to his actions. It lives with him in all his external changes, and goes with him through the dark valley of death, and accompanies him up to the bar of God, and is with him for ever.

{a} "if we hold" Heb 3:6

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