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leads those who belong to him to glory. See this in Peter, Matt. Xxvi. 31, 35. John xxi. 15. 2 Cor. xii. 7, 8, 9, 10.
3. But this doth not afford him a sufficient consolation, nor quiet him fully, unless he be also assured of it. “Therefore his faithful Saviour assures him by his Holy Spirit of eternal life.” Since he is become the property of Jesus, who delivers and preserves him, he may also expect an everlasting and happy life: and that not, as an uncertainty ; for he is assured of it by the Holy Ghost, whom Jesus gives him to be a “comforter ” to him, John xiv. 16, 26. xv. 26. and an “ earnest and seal of his inheritance," 2 Cor. i. 20, 21, 22, 23. Eph. i. 13, 14. iv. 30. And thus, like the servants of old, he is marked with his Lord's seal, to assure him that he is his property, and that he will be " kept to everlasting life.” See Rev. viïi. 3, 8. And how doth he attain to this assurance ? Is he permitted to look into the book of life? or doth he hear a voice from heaven? or doth he obtain it by an imagination of his own spirit ? No, but by a secret persuasion of the Spirit of God, according to his word. (a) Sometimes the Holy Spirit enables him to form a believing syllogysm, by which he sets before him from the word, the true marks of those who belong to Christ. For “ we know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren,” | John iii. 4. He convinceth him of this truth : “ For the Spirit bears witness, that the Spirit” (who speaks in the word)“ is the truth,” 1 John v. 6. He enlightens the soul, “ that she may know the things that are freely given her of God,” I Cor. iis 12. And he teaches the believer to conclude, and “ bears withess with his 'spirit that he is a child of God." (b) Sometimes the Spirit gives him, upon the outgoings of his soul to the Lord for reconciliation and grace, an undisturbed peace and tranquility of mind, by which the former fear and perturbation of the soul is hushed. “He speaks peace to his people and to his saints.” Psalm 1xxxv. 8. (c) Sometimes the Holy Spirit speaks comfortably to his people, and saith, “I am thy salvation," Psalm XXXV. 3." Thy sins are forgiven thee," Mark ii. 5. “I know thee by name, and thou hast also found grace in my sight." Exod. xxxiii. 13. This ravishes the soul with a wonderful joy, and is accompanied with so much secret light and power, that she doubts not that it is the voice of the Holy Spirit, which suggests it to her, and so the Spirit causeth the believer to feel the beginnings of eternal joy in his heart, “embracing his soul in love," Isaiah xxxviii. 17, and “shedding the love of God abroad in his heart,” by which he is then most powerfully assured, that his " hope will not make him ashamed,” Rom. v. 5.
4. May a believer live then as he lists? We say, he may, for he will live holy. Jesus his faithful Saviour “makes him " by his Spirit “ sincerely willing and ready to live henceforth” not to himself, but “ unto him." To live unto Jesus is to surrender oneself to him, as his property, and to deny oneself, in order to live only to the service of Jesus, and according to his will. See this in the text, and Titus ii. 14. The believer is willing and ready to live such a life ; for he is one of that “most willing people," Psalm cx. 3. He hath“ a willing mind," I Cor. viii. 12. “ He makes haste, and doth not delay to keep God's commandinents," Psalm cxix. 60. And he “ follows after perfection,” Philip. iii. 12, 13, 14. For the love of Christ constraineth him," 2 Cor. v. 14, 15. But he attains not to this by his own spirit but by the “ Spirit of his Lord, whom he puts into the midst of him, and who causes him to walk in his statutes, and keep his judgments, and do them," Ezek. xxxvi. 27.
· Who can doubt now that the only comfort of a sinner in life and death is, that he belongs with body and soul both in life and death to Christ, For
1. Is he the Lord's, the Lord is then also his, and that entirely, and in whatsoever he is, bath and doth. « Blessed is the nation, whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance," saith David, Psalm xxxiii. 1%. “ The portion of Jacob is not like them: for he is the former of all things, and Israel is the rod of his inheritance; the Lord of hosts is his name," Jer, x. 16. Esau may say, “ I have much ;" but Jacob can say, “I have all,” Gen. xxxiii. 9, 11. Inasmuch as the believer belongs to Christ, therefore whatever exists, belongs to the believer, 1 Cor. iii. 21, 22, 23.
2. There is nothing that deprives believers of their comfort so much as their guilt, and the power of the devil. But Jesus Christ hath fully satisfied for all their sins, and “ hath delivered them from all the power of the devil, and from the fear of death by his death," Heb. ji. 14, 15. Thus “ Joshua the high-priest was comforted, when he stood with filthy garments and Satan at his right hand to resist him, before the angel of the Lord. For the Lord said unto Satan, the Lord rebuke thee, O Satan even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: and to Joshua he said, Behold I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment,” Zech. iii. 1, 5.
3. The fear of evil to come cannot deprive a Christian of his comfort, since his faithful Saviour watches over him, and preserves him so carefully, that without the will of his Heavenly Father not a hair
can fall from his head. “ He keeps him as the apple of his eye, and hides him under the shadow of his wings,” Psalm xvii. 8. “ He is a wall of fire round about him, and he that toucheth him toucheth the apple of his eye,” Zech. ii. 5. 8. Doth any evil befall him, through the wise ordination of his Saviour, it may afford him consolation, that it will work together for his good, and he may, “glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience experience; and experience hope.” Rom. v. 3, 4.
4. “ If in this life only he had hope in Christ, he would of all men be the most miserable,” as Paul speaks, 1 Cor. xv. 19. But it can afford him a full consolation, that he hath an expectation of an everlasting life, founded not upon an uncertainty, but upon the plainest and most certifying grounds : for God gives him his word, his Spirit, his covenant seals, yea, his“ oath, to show the immutability of his counsel, that he may by these immutable things, in which it is impossible that God should lie, have strong consolation," Heb. xi. 17, 18.
5. There is nothing that disturbs his comfort more than the natural sluggishness and backwardness of his heart to live entirely to him only: but his Lord undertakes to render him willing and ready to this, “ to run without being weary and faint ; for he giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no strength,” Isaiah xl. 29, 30. “ He enlargeth his heart, that he may run the way of his commandments,” Psalm cxix. 32, and“ rejoice in the way of God's testimenies, as much as in all riches,” vs. 14.
We may not doubt that believers under the old testament did also belong to their faithful Saviour Jesus Christ, both in life and death. They were also on this account “comforted on every side, and gloried therein,” Psalm lxxi. 21. cvi. 4, 5. cxix. 57, 94. Jer. X. 16, They were confident that he had, as their surety, taken their sins upon him, and would certainly satisfy for them, and that they were therefore already delivered from all the power of the devil, carefully preserved, and assured, and sanctified by bis Spirit. And therefore we cannot believe that God did still demand satisfaction of them for their guilt, and that they were still under the law, under wrath, the curse, under bondage to fear, and under the fear of death. The surety had not indeed paid fully for their sins, but they were, notwithstanding fully forgiven, on account of the future satisfaction of the surety, of whom alone the Father demanded it. The Spirit of consor lation was not indeed poured out in such an abundant measure as under the New Testament; but more and less alters not the nature of things.
II. But how shall a sinner, who is still his own, obtain this comfort, and how shall he preserve it, after he hath obtained it? “ It is necessary that he should know three things, First, how great his sins and misery are.” This he is taught in the second, third, and fourth Lord's day. He knows this, not by a bare literal understanding of it, and by being able to give a proper account of it to others, but by seeing and feeling the greatness of his sins and misery in himself with pain and concern, and having an earnest desire to be delivered from his sins and misery, like Ephraim, Jer. xxxi. 18, 19., and David, Psalm li. 3, 4, 5. and like the Corinthians, 2 Cor. vii. 9, 10, 11.
“ Secondly, He must know how he may be delivered from all his sins and misery.” The instructor showeth the manner in which the sinner is delivered, from the fifth to the thirty-second Lord's day. We know this deliverance by faith, whereby, understanding the sufficiency and willingness of the Deliverer, through the Spirit, with persuasion of mind, we flee to him, choose him, embrace him,'and own him upon his invitation and call. And so this knowledge is faith. " By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many,” saith the Father, Isaiah lii. 2.
Finally, “ he must know how he shall express his gratitude to God for such deliverance," whereby, from a view of his unworthiness, and the greatness of this benefit
, he doth with joy, and surrendering himself to the Lord, to serve him, glorify, and praise him with his heart, his mouth, and whole conversation. See this in David, Psalm ciii, civ. Of this doctrine of gratitude the catechism treats from the thirty-second to the last Lord's day.
That these three things are necessary, in order to live and die happily in this comfort, appears (a) Because no man is capable of this comfort, unless he be heartily sorry for his sins and misery. For “blessed are they that mourn : for they shall be comforted,” Matt. v. 4. (b) But though a person be ever so sorry for his sins and misery, he cannot and will not obtain deliverance, but will with Cain and Judas fall into despair, unless he have a knowledge of the deliverance. (c) Doth he possess a knowledge of the deliverance, and is he not thankful for it, his soul will still not enjoy, or be refreshed with comfort. It is in proportion to “ the fear of the Lord, that the comfort of the Holy Ghost is multiplied," Acts ix. 31.
The Christian doctrine is therefore very properly comprehended in these three particulars, as especially calculated to obtain the only comfort. The compilers of the catechism were induced to adopt this method by the example of Paul, in his epistle to the Romans. For that highly enlightened man speaks there first of the misery of the
sinner, from chapter i. 18, to chap. ii. 21. At which place be begins the doctrine of the deliverance, which he concludes with chap. s. 36. And to this he annexes the doctrine of gratitude, in the fire bass chapters. In this excellent way doth the Lord God also conduct the sinner to the only comfort. We see it in the Jailer, Acts svi. 19, 34. And believers will improve these three particulars every day after their repeated discomforting backslidings, as we see in the examples of David and Paul, Psalm xxxii, and li. Rom. vii. 24, 25.
APPLICATION. See now, hearers, the truth of the doctrine of our Reformed Churcb. Surely that doctrine is true, and according to the word of God, which proposes a perfect and steadfast consolation to the singer in all his afflictions by proper means. For to this end was the whole word of God writien, as Paul testifieth, Rom. x6. 4. * Wbatsoever things were written afore time were written for our learning ; that we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope." Who can now suspect our doctrine of falsebood, and who may be compared to us, when we discover the most proper method to obtain a sufficient comfort, to the glory of God's free grace.” Verily Deither the Papists, nor the Socinians, nor the Remonstrants, nor any who favour them. The vain-glorious, free, and in different will of the sinner is their only aim, and only comfort, to which they accommodate every doctrine of the Christian religion. For on account of this incit ferent will, they will deny either the reality or the perfection of the Saviour's satisfaction. They do not know how to reconcile an efec tual deliverance from the power of the devil to the freedom of the will, nor yet the particular care and regard of the Lord, to his people, por his wonderful direction of evil to the good of those whom he owns for his. That believers should have an assurance of eternal life, and should be made by the Holy Spirit in an effectual manner willing and ready to live to their Lord, these men will not believe, because this would be a forcing of the will. Rather than this idol should be cast down from its throne, they wil reject all these comfortable doctrines, and seek their comfort in being their own by this free will. The true Christian is therefore more considerate, since he places his supreme good and comfort in being delivered from himself, and in belonging entirely and for ever to his Lord.
But, hearers, is this also your only comfort ? I ask not what ought to be your comfort, or wherein it consists, but what is your comfort, and what is your chief and only solace and satisfaction? Truly the most of you neither have not seek comfort in belonging to Christ. For