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election, is not to render it doubtful and dark ; for his main aim, on the contrary, is, both to extend it as far as it can go, and to make it as clear as may be to all that have interest in it; but he designates them by the primitive act of love fixing on them, so as it is now manifested to them in the subsequent effects which flow. from their election-called, and sanctified, and conformed to Jesus Christ, both by his Spirit within them, and by the sufferings that without arise against them in the world. They are such as, being the sons of God, are led by the Spirit of God, and walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

And these things indeed, considered as their characters, the stamp of God on them, the impressions of their election to life, do check the vain confidence of all .carnal ungodly professors of the name of Christ, and tell them that their pretended title to him is a mere delusion. · Certainly whosoever lives in the love of sin and takes the flesh for his guide, that accursed blind guide is leading him into the pit. What gross folly and impudence is it for any man, walking in the lusts of his own heart, to fancy and aver himself to be a partner of that redemption, whereof so great a part is, to deliver us from the power of our iniquities, to renew our hearts, and re-unite them to God, and possess them with his love!

The great evidence of thy election is love. Thy love to him, gives certain testimony of his preceding eternal love to thee : so are they here designated, them that love God. Thy choosing him, is the effect and evideuce of bis choosing thee. Now, this is not laborious nor needs to be disputed. Amidst all thy frailties, feel the pulse of thine affection, which way it beats, and ask thy heart whether thou love him or not. In this, thou hast the character of thy election.

Know you not, that the redeemed of Christ and he are one? They live one life. Christ lives in them, and if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his, as the apostle declares in this chapter. So then this we are plainly to tell you and consider it-you that will not let go your sins and lay hold on Christ, have as yet no share in him.

But on the other side, the truth is, that when souls are once set upon this search, they commonly wind the notion too high, and subtilize too much in the dispute, and so entangle and perplex themselves, and drive themselves further off from that comfort that they are seeking after. Such measures and marks of grace they set to themselves for their rule and standard ; and unless they find these without all controversy in themselves, they will not believe that they have an interest in Christ, and this blessed and safe estate in him.

To such I would only say, Are you in a willing league with any knowo sin? Yea, would you willingly, if you might be saved in that way, give up yourself to voluptuoustiess and ungodliness, and not at all desire to follow Jesus Christ in the way of holiness? Then truly I have not any thing as yet to say for your comfort; only; there is a salvation provided, and the door is yet open, and your heart may be changed. But, on the other side, are the desires of thy soul after Christ, a whole Christ, to be righteousness, and withal sanctification to thee? Wouldst thou willingly give up thyself to be ruled by him, and have him for thy king ? Hadst thou rather choose to suffer the greatest affliction for his sake, to honor him, than to commit the least sin to displease him ? Doth thy heart go out after bim, when thou hearest him spoken of? Dost thou account him thy treasure, so that all the world sounds but as an empty shell to thee, when he is named? Says thy soul within thee, O that he were mine ? and, O that I were his, that I could please him and live to him? Then do not toss thy spirit, and jangle and spin out thy thoughts in fruitless endless doubtings, but close with this as thy portion, and be of good comfort; thy sins are or will be forgiven thee.

I add further : if thou sayest still, that thou findest pone of all this, yet, I say, there is warrant for thee to believe and lay hold on this righteousness here held forth, to the end that thou mayest then find those things in thee, and find comfort in them. Thou art convinced of ungodliness; then believe on him who justifies the ungodly. Thou art condemned ; yet Christ is dead and risen. Flee to him as such, as the Lamb slain, he who was dead and is alive ; and then say, Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, or rather that is risen. Who shall accuse? It is true, they may clamor and make a noise, both Satan and thy conseience, but how can they fasten any accusation on thee? If they dare accuse, yet they cannot condemn, when the Judge bath acquitted thee, and declared thee free, who is greater than all, and hath the absolute power of the sentence. All charges and libels come too late, after he hath once pronounced a soul righteous. And who shall condemn ? It is Christ that died. If the sentence of the law be brought forth, yet here is the answer; it ought not to be twice satisfied ; now once it is satisfied in Christ, he bath died, and that stands for the believer. Whosoever fees to him, and lays hold on bim for life, he cannot die again, nor canst thou die, for whom he died once.

Or rather is risen again; that raises the assurance bigher, and sets it firmer, for this evidences that in his death all was paid. When he, being the surety, and seized on for the debt, and once death's prisoner, yet was set free, this clears the matter that there is no more to be paid. And yet further as a sign that all is done, be is raised to the height of honor above all principalities and powers, is set at the right hand of the Father, and there he sits and lives to make intercession, to sue out the fulfilling of all for believers, the bringing of them home; lives to see all made good that he died and covenanted for. So now that his righteousness is thine who believest, any challenge must meet with Christ first ; and if it seize not on him, it capriot light on thee, for thou art in him, married to him. And the same triumph that be speaks, Isa. I, 8, whence these words are borrowed, is made thine, and thou mayest now speak it in him. I know not what can cast hina down, who hath this word to rest upon and to comfort himself in.

191.

SERMON XVII.
The Christian Triumph.

ROMANS viii. 35, &c.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall

tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? &c.

Is this he who so lately cried out, 0 wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me? who now triumphs, O happy man! Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Yes, it is the same.

Pained then with the thoughts of that miserable conjunction with a body of death, and so crying out, Who will deliver? who will separate me from that? now, now, he hath found a Deliverer to do that for him, to whom he is for ever united, and he glories now in his inseparable union and unalterable love, which none can divide him from. Yea, it is through him, that presently after that word of complaint he praises God; and now, in him he triumphs. So vast a difference is there betwixt a Christian taken in hinzself, and in Christ! When he views himself in himself, theu he is nothing but a poor, miserable, polluted, perishing wretch; but then he looks again, and sees himself in Christ, and there he is rich, and safe, and bappy; he triumphs, and he glories in it, above all the painted prosperities, and against all the horrid adversities of the world; he lives in his Christ, content and happy, and laughs at all his enemies.

And be extends his triumph; be makes a common good of it to all believers, speaks it in their name, Who shall separate us ? and would have them partake of the same confidence, and speak in the same style with him. It is vain that men fancy these to be expressions of revelations, or some singularly privileged assurances: then they would not suit their end, which is clearly and undoubtedly the encouragement of all the children of God, upon grounds that are peculiar to them from all the rest of the world, but common to them all, in all ages and all varieties of condition.

It is true, all of them have not alike clear and firin apprehensions of their happy and sure estate, and scarcely any of them are alike at all times; yet they bave all and always the same right to this estate and to the comfort of it, and when they stand in a right light to view it, they do see it so and rejoice in it.

There be indeed some kinds of assurance that are more rare and extraordinary, some immediate glances or coruscations of the love of God upon the soul of a believer, a smile of his countenance; and this doth exceedingly refresh, yea, ravish the soul, and enables it mightily for duties and sufferings. These he dispenses arbitrarily and freely, where and when he will. Some weaker Christians sometimes have them, while stronger are strangers to them, the Lord training them to live more contentedly by faith till the day of vision come.

And that is the other, the less ecstatical, but the more constant and fixed kind of assurance, the

proper assurance of faith: the soul, by believing, cleaves unto God in Christ as he offers himself in the gospel, and thence is possessed with a sweet and calm persuasion of his love; that being the proper work, to appropriate him, to make Christ and in him eternal life ours. So that it is the proper result and fruit of that its acting, especially when it acts any thing strongly, to quiet the soul in him. Then being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and from that peace, joy, yea, even glorying in tribulation, follows ; and these springing, not from an extraordinary sense or view, but from the very innate virtue of faith working kindly, and according to its own nature.

Therefore many Christians do prejudice their own comfort and darken their spirits, by not giving freedom to faith to act according to its nature and proper principles. They will not believe till they fiud some evidence or assurance, which is quite to invert the order of the thing, and to look for fruit without setting a root for it to grow from. Would you take Christ

the absolute word of promise tendering him to you, and rest on him so, this would

upon

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