The Method of Grace in Gospel Salvation

John Flavel, 1627–1691




The Epistle Dedicatory

To John Upton and his virtuous wife, the Author wishes Grace, Mercy, and Peace.

Honored and Worthy Friends,
It was a comfortable expression which Ambrose used in his funeral oration at the death of Theodosius, "That though he were gone, yet he was not wholly gone; for he had left Honorius, with others of his children, behind him, in whom Theodosius still lived."

Your renowned and worthy ancestors are gone, yet (blessed be God) they are not wholly gone; while the prudence, piety, and publicness of their spirits, still live and flourish in you, the top branch of a renowned and pious family. It is a great truth which Philo recommends to the observation of all posterity, "That it is not a natural descent from the most honorable and illustrious progenitors, nor the greatest affluence of riches and pleasures, that makes a man either honorable or happy; but the habitation of God in his soul, as in his temple, though (says he) those that never tasted religion, nor have seen its glory, will not credit this assertion." "The soul which is filled with God, (says Plotinus) and brings forth the beautiful fruits of righteousness, this is the truly noble soul." Our new birth makes us more honorable than our natural birth, let our birth-right dignities be what they will. The children of nobles are, by nature, the children of wrath, even as others!

All blood is of one color: it is all tainted in Adam, and mingled together in his posterity. "There is no king, says Seneca, which rose not from a servant; there is no servant which rose not from a king: these things have been blended, and jumbled to and fro in a long weave of changes, ever directed by an all-wise Providence."

But though the privileges of natural birth signify nothing as to eternal salvation, yet in civil and political respects and considerations, those that by birth, education, or estate, possess a higher station in the world—differ from the vulgar, as stars of greater magnitude and luster: their interest and influence are great in these things, and the welfare of kingdoms greatly depends upon them.

It is therefore a great design of the enemy of mankind, to corrupt persons of eminent rank and quality both in religion and morality; and by their influence and example, to infect and poison the whole nation; and his success herein deserves to be greatly lamented and bewailed. Persons of eminency are more especially obliged to shun base and sordid actions. Hierom professed he saw nothing desirable in nobility, except this, that such persons are bound by a certain kind of necessity, not to degenerate from the virtue, or stain the glory of their ancestors. But alas! how many in our times have not only exposed Christianity to contempt, but obscured the glory of their own families, and the kingdom in which they had their birth and breeding; so that if you will take right marks of your way to Heaven you will have little direction from those of your own rank.

As mariners take their direction at sea, by looking up to the heavens, so must you. In this general corruption it is very hard to escape infection; many (as Salvian complained) are compelled to be evil, lest they should be accounted vile, and incur the offence of God, to avoid the slights and censures of men. Although there is no more reason why they should be offended at the rational and religious pleasures you and other pious gentlemen take in the ways of godliness, than there is, that you should envy the sinful pleasures they take in the ways of wickedness.

It was an excellent apology that Tertullian made for the Christians of his time, against the Gentiles, "Wherein (says he) do we injure you, if we believe there are other pleasures? if we will not partake with you in your delights, it is only for our own injury: we reject your pleasures, and you are not delighted with ours."

But by how much the infection spreads and prevails among those of your order, by so much the more we have reason to value you, and all those that remain sound and untainted, both in religion and morality, as persons worthy of singular respect and honor: and blessed be God there is yet a number of such left.

Sir, It was a special happiness, which Chrysostom earnestly recommended to persons of quality, that they would so order their conduct, that their parents might rather glory in them, than they in their parents. "Otherwise (says he) it is better to rise to honor from a contemptible parent, than to be contemptible from an honorable parent;" but blessed be God, you and your worthy ancestors reflect honor upon each other.

Had God allowed you to degenerate, as many do, it would have been but a poor consolation to have said, My progenitors were men of honor, the love and delight of their country. This, as one excellently expresses it, would be the same thing as if one who is blind himself, should boast what a sharp and piercing sight his father had; or one who is lame himself, should glory in those feats of activity his grandfather performed. But God (to whose bounty therefore you are doubly obliged) has made you the inheritor of their virtues, as well as of their lands, and therein fulfilled many thousand prayers, which have been poured out to God upon your account.

But I must forbear, lest I provoke others to envy, and draw upon myself the suspicion of flattery. What has been already said may serve for a sufficient reason of this dedication. I know the agreeableness of such discourses to the pious dispositions of your souls, is of itself sufficient to make it welcome to you.

This is a treatise about Christ, yes, of the Method of Grace in the application of Christ; than which no subject can be more necessary to study, or sweet to experience.

All goodness is attractive; how powerfully attractive then must Jesus Christ be, who is the ocean of all goodness, from whom all streams of goodness are derived, and into whom they all empty themselves? If Pindarus could say of the lovely Theoxenus, that whoever saw that noble and lovely face of his, and was not surprised with amazement, and inflamed with love—must have an heart of adamant or brass! What then shall we resemble that man's heart unto, who has no fervent affections kindled in it by the incomparable beauty of Christ! He is a beauty, which excels in luster and brightness, that visible light which so dazzles our eyes, as that light does darkness itself. As Plato speaks of the divine light Christ is an inexpressible beauty, and all other beauties are but a shadow of his beauty.

How was holy Ignatius ravished with desires after Christ, when he cried out, "O how I long to be thrown into the jaws of those lions which I hear roaring for me! and if they will not dispatch me the sooner, I will enforce them to it by violence, that I may enjoy the sight of my blessed Jesus!"

"O my heart, (says another) how is it that you are not drawn up by the very root, by your desires after Christ?"

The necessity, and the trial of our union with, and a saving interest in, this lovely Lord Jesus, is the main subject of this discourse. Without the personal application of Christ by faith, our hopes of Heaven are but deluding dreams, Hebrews 3:11. "I swore in my wrath . . . if they shall enter into my rest." What then? Nay, there is all: but it is such a solemn pause as may justly shake every vein of the unbeliever's heart! If they shall enter: as if he had said, If ever they come into my glory, then say, I am no God, for I have sworn the contrary.

I will not be tiresome, but conclude all in a few requests to you and to God for you both. That which I request of you is:

(1.) That you will search and try your own hearts by these truths, especially now, when so great trials are likely to be made of every man's root and foundation in religion. Account that your first work, to make sure of your saving interest in Christ; for everything is as its foundation is. A true diamond will endure the smartest stroke of the hammer, but a false one will break in pieces.

(2.) That you be humble under all that dignity and honor which God has put upon you; be clothed with humility. It was the glory of the primitive Christians, that they did not speak but live great things. Humility will be the luster of your other excellencies: estates and honors are but appendants and fine trappings, which add not any real worth, yet how are some vain minds puffed up with these things! But you have not so learned Christ.

(3.) That you steadily persevere in those good ways of God, in which you have walked, and beware of heart, or life apostasy. You expect happiness while God is in Heaven, and God expects holiness from you while you are on earth. It was an excellent truth which Tossanus recommended to his posterity in his last will and testament, from his own experience: "I beseech you, (says he) my dear children and kindred, that you never be ashamed of the truths of the gospel, either by reason of scandals in the church, or persecutions upon it. Truth may labor for a time, but cannot be conquered; and I have often found God to be wonderfully present with those who walk before him in truth, though for a time they may be oppressed with troubles and calumnies."

(4.) Lastly, that you keep a strict and constant watch over your own hearts, lest they be ensnared by the tempting, charming, and dangerous snares attending a full and easy condition in the world. There are temptations suited to all conditions. Those who are poor and low in estate and reputation, are tempted to deceive, cheat, lie, and flatter—and all to get up to the mount of riches and honors. But those who were born upon that mount, though they are more free from those temptations, yet lie exposed to other temptations no less dangerous, and therefore we find, "Not many mighty, not many noble are called," 1 Corinthians 1:26.

Many great and stately ships, which spread much sail, and draw much water, perish in the storms—when small boats creep along the shore under the wind, and get safely into their port. Never aim at an higher station in this world than that you are in! Some have wished in their dying hour, they had been lower, but no wise man ever wished himself at the top of honor, when at the brink of eternity.

I will conclude all with this hearty wish for you, that as God has set you in a capacity of much service for him in your generation, so your hearts may be enlarged for God accordingly, and that you may be very instrumental for his glory on earth, and may go safely, but late to Heaven. That the blessings of Heaven may be multiplied upon you both, and your hopeful springing branches, and that you may live to see your children's children, and peace upon the Israel of God. In a word, that God will follow these truths in your hands, with the blessing of his Spirit; and that the manifold infirmities of him who ministers them, may be no prejudice or bar to their success with you, or any into whose hands they shall come; which is the hearty desire of

Your Most Faithful Friend and Servant in Christ,
John Flavel.


The Epistle to the Reader

EVERY creature, by the instinct of nature, or by the light of reason, strives to avoid danger, and get out of harm's way. The cattle in the fields presaging a storm at hand, fly to the hedges and thickets for shelter. The birds of the skies, by the same natural instinct, perceiving the approach of winter, take their timely flight to a warmer climate. This naturalists have observed of them, and their observation is confirmed by scripture testimony. Of the animals it is said, Job 37:6-8. "He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth,' and to the rain shower, 'Be a mighty downpour.' So that all men he has made may know his work, he stops every man from his labor. The animals take cover; they remain in their dens." And of the birds of the sky it is said, Jeremiah 8:7. "Even the stork that flies across the sky knows the time of her migration, as do the turtledove, the swallow, and the crane. They all return at the proper time each year."

But man being a prudent and prospecting creature has the advantage of all other creatures in his foreseeing faculty: "For God has taught him more than the beasts of the earth, and made him wiser than the birds of Heaven," Job 35:11. "And a wise man's heart discerns both time and judgment," Ecclesiastes 8:5. For as there are natural signs of the change of the weather, Matthew 16:3, so there are moral signs of the changes of times and providences; yet such is the supineness and inexcusable regardlessness of most men, that they will not fear until they feel, nor think any danger very considerable, until it becomes inevitable.

We of this nation have long enjoyed the light of the glorious gospel among us; it has shone in much clearness upon this sinful island, for more than a whole century of happy years: but the longest day has an end, and we have cause to fear our bright sun is going down upon us; for the shadows in England are grown greater than the substance, which is one sign of approaching night, Jeremiah 6:4. "The beasts of prey creep out of their dens and coverts," which is another sign of night at hand, Psalm 104:20. "And the workmen come home apace from their labors, and go to rest," which is as sad a sign as any of the rest, Job 7:1, 2. Isaiah 57:1, 2. Happy were it, if, in such a juncture as this, every man would make it his work and business to secure himself in Christ from the storm of God's indignation, which is ready to fall upon these sinful nations. It is said of the Egyptians, when the storm of hail was coming upon the land, Exodus 9:20. "He who feared the word of the Lord made his servants and cattle flee into the houses." It is but an odd sight to see the prudence of an Egyptian out-vying the wisdom and circumspection of a Christian.

God, who provides natural shelter and refuge for all creatures, has not left his people unprovided with, and destitute of defense and security, in the most tempestuous times of national judgments. It is said, Micah 5:5. "This man (meaning the man Christ Jesus) shall be the peace when the Assyrian shall come into our land, and when he shall tread in our palaces." And Isaiah 26:20. "Come, my people, enter you into your chambers, and shut your doors about you; hide yourself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast."

My friends, let me speak freely, as I am sure I speak seasonably. A sound of judgment is in our ears; "The Lord's voice cries unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see your name: hear you the rod, and who has appointed it," Micah 6:9. All things round about us seem to posture themselves for trouble and distress. Where is the man of wisdom that does not foresee a shower of wrath and indignation coming? "We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask you now, and see whether a man does travail with child? Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas, for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the day of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be delivered out of it," Jeremiah 30:5, 6, 7.

Many eyes are now opened to see the common danger, but some foresaw it long ago; when they saw the general decay of godliness everywhere, the notorious profanity and atheism that overspread the nations; the spirit of enmity and bitterness against the power of godliness wherever it appeared: and though there seemed to be a present calm, and general quietness, yet those that were wise in heart could not but discern the distress of nations, with great perplexity, in these seeds of judgment and calamity: but as the ephah fills more and more, so the determined wrath grows more and more visible to every eye; and it is a fond thing to dream of tranquility in the midst of so much iniquity. Indeed, if these nations were once swept with the broom of reformation, we might hope God would not sweep them with the broom of destruction; but what peace can be expected, while the highest provocations are continued?

It is therefore the great and present concernment of all to provide themselves of a refuge before the storm overtakes them; for, as Augustine well observes, O take up your lodgings in the attributes and promises of God before the night overtake you; view them often by faith, and clear up your saving interest in them, that you may be able to go to them in the dark, when the ministers and ordinances of Christ have taken their leave of you, and bid you good night.

While many are hastening on the wrath of God by profaneness, and many by smiting their fellow-servants; and multitudes resolve, if trouble come, to fish in the troubled waters for safety and preferment, not doubting, (whenever the overflowing flood comes) but they shall stand dry. O that you would be mourning for their sins, and providing better for your own safety.

Reader, it is your one thing necessary to get a cleared saving interest in Jesus Christ; which being once obtained, you may face the storm with boldness, and say, come troubles and distresses, losses and trials, prisons and death, I am provided for you; do your worst, you can do me no harm: let the winds roar, the lightnings flash, the rains and hail fall never so furiously, I have a good roof over my head, a comfortable lodging provided for me; "My place of defense is the munition of rocks, where bread shall be given me, and my waters shall be sure," Isaiah 33:16.

The design of the ensuing treatise is to assist you in this great work; and though it was promised to the world many years past, yet providence has reserved it for the fittest season, and brought it to your hand in a time of need.

It contains the method of grace in the application of the great redemption to the souls of men, as the former part contains the method of grace in the interpretation thereof by Jesus Christ. The acceptance God has given the former part, signified by the desires of many, for the publication of this, has at last prevailed with me (notwithstanding the secret consciousness of my inequality to so great an undertaking) to adventure this second part also upon the ingenuity and candor of the reader.

And I consent the more willingly to the publication of this, because the design I first aimed at, could not be entire and complete without it; but especially, the quality of the subject matter, which (through the blessing and concurrence of the Spirit) may be useful both to rouse the drowsy consciences of this sleepy generation, and to assist the upright in clearing the work of the Spirit upon their own souls. These considerations have prevailed with me against all discouragements.

And now, reader, it is impossible for me to speak particularly and distinctly to the case of your soul, which I am ignorant of, except the Lord shall direct my discourse to it in some of the following suppositions.

If you be one that have sincerely applied, and received Jesus Christ by faith, this discourse (through the blessing of the Spirit) may be useful to you, to clear and confirm your evidences, to melt your heart in the sense of your mercies, and to engage and quicken you in the way of your duties. Here you will see what great things the Lord has done for your soul, and how these dignities, as you are his son or daughter, by the double title of regeneration and adoption, do oblige you to yield up yourself to God entirely, and to say from your heart, Lord, whatever I am, I am for you, whatever I can do, I will do for you; and whatever I can suffer, I will suffer for you; and all that I am, or have, all that I can do or suffer, is nothing to what you have done for my soul.

If you be a stranger to regeneration and faith; a person that make powerless profession of Christ; that have a name to live, but are dead; here it is possible you may meet with something that will convince you how dangerous a thing it is to be an old creature in the new creature's dress and habit; and what is it that blinds your judgment, and is likeliest to prove your ruin; a seasonable and full conviction whereof will be the greatest mercy that can befall you in this world, if thereby at last God may help you to put on Christ, as well as the name of Christ.

If you be in darkness about the state of your own soul, and willing to have it faithfully and impartially tried by the rule of the word, which will not warp to any man's humor or interest, here you will find some weak assistance offered you, to clear and disentangle your doubting thoughts, which, through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, may lead you to a comfortable settlement and inward peace.

If you be a proud, conceited, presumptuous soul, who have too little knowledge, and too much pride and self-love, to admit any doubts or scruples of your state towards God, there are many things in this treatise proper for your conviction and better information; for woe to you, if you should not fear, until you begin to feel your misery, if your troubles do not come on until all your hopes are gone off.

I know all these things are performed by me with much infirmity; and that the whole management is quite below the dignity of the subject. But when I consider that the success of sermons and books in the world has but little relation to the elegance of language, and accuracy of method, and that many may be useful, who cannot be excellent, I am willing in all humility and sincerity to commit it to the direction of Providence, and the blessing of the Spirit.

One thing I shall earnestly request of all the people of God, into whose hands this shall fall, that now at last they will be persuaded to end all their unbrotherly quarrels and strifes among themselves, which have wasted so much precious time, and decayed the vital spirits of religion, hindered the conversion of multitudes, and increased and confirmed the atheism of the times, and now at last opened a breach, at which the common enemy is ready to enter and end the quarrel to our cost. O put on, as the elect of God, affections of mercy, and a spirit of charity and forbearance, if not for your own sakes, yet for the church's sake.

I remember it is noted in our English history as a very remarkable thing, that when the Severn overflowed part of Somersetshire, it was observed that dogs and hares, cats and rats, to avoid the common destruction, would swim to the next rising ground, and abide quietly together in that common danger, without the least discovery of their natural antipathy.

The story applies itself, and O that Christians would everywhere depose their animosities, that the hearts of the fathers might be turned to the children, and the children to the fathers, lest God come and smite the earth with a curse.

O that you would dwell more in your closets, and be more frequently and fervently upon your knees. O that you would search your hearts more narrowly, and sift them more thoroughly than ever, before the day pass as the chaff, and the Lord's fierce anger come upon you: look into your Bibles, then into your hearts, and then to Heaven, for a true discovery of your conditions; and if this poor mite may contribute anything to that end, it will be a great reward of the unworthy labors of





The general Nature of effectual Application stated


But of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.

HE WHO inquires what is the just value and worth of Christ, asks a question which puts all the men on earth, and angels in Heaven, to an everlasting non-plus.

The highest attainment of our knowledge in this life, is to know, that himself and his love do pass knowledge, Ephesians 3:19.

But how excellent soever Christ is in himself, what treasures of righteousness soever lie in his blood, and whatever joy, peace, and ravishing comforts, spring up to men out of his incarnation, humiliation, and exaltation, they all give down their distinct benefits and comforts to them, in the way of effectual application.

For never was any wound healed by a prepared, but unapplied plaster. Never any body warmed by the most costly garment made, but not put on: Never any heart refreshed and comforted by the richest cordial compounded, but not received: Nor from the beginning of the world was it ever known, that a poor deceived, condemned, polluted, miserable sinner, was actually delivered out of that woeful state, until of God, Christ was made unto him, wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

For look as the condemnation of the first Adam passes not to us, except (as by generation) we are his; so grace and remission pass not from the second Adam to us, except (as by regeneration) we are his. Adam's sin hurts none but those that are in him: And Christ's blood profits none but those that are in him: How great a weight therefore does there hang upon the effectual application of Christ to the souls of men! And what is there in the whole world so awfully solemn, so greatly important, as this is! Such is the strong consolation resulting from it, that the apostle, in this context, offers it to the believing Corinthians, as a superabundant recompense for the despicable baseness, and baseness of their outward condition in this world, of which he had just before spoken in verse 27, 28. telling them, though the world contemned them as vile, foolish, and weak, yet "of God Christ is made unto them wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption."

In which words we have an enumeration of the chief privileges of believers, and an account of the method whereby they come to be invested with them.

FIRST, Their privileges are enumerated, namely, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, mercies of inestimable value in themselves, and such as respect a fourfold misery lying upon sinful man, namely, ignorance, guilt, pollution, and the whole train of miserable consequences and effects, let in upon the nature of men, yes, the best and holiest of men, by sin.

Lapsed man is not only deep in misery, but grossly ignorant, both that he is so, and how to recover himself from it: Sin has left him at once senseless of his state, and at a perfect loss about the true remedy.

To cure this, Christ is made to him wisdom, not only by improvement of those treasures of wisdom that are in himself, for the benefit of such souls as are united to him, as an head, consulting the good of his own members; but also, by imparting his wisdom to them by the Spirit of illumination, whereby they come to discern both their sin and danger; as also the true way of their recovery from both, through the application of Christ to their souls by faith.

But alas! simple illumination does but increase our burden, and exasperate our misery as long as sin in the guilt of it is either imputed to our persons unto condemnation, or reflected by our consciences in a way of accusation.

With design therefore to remedy and heal this sore evil, Christ is made of God unto us righteousness, complete and perfect righteousness, whereby our obligation to punishment is dissolved, and thereby a solid foundation for a well-settled peace of conscience firmly established.

Yes, but although the removing of guilt from our persons and consciences be an inestimable mercy, yet alone it cannot make us completely happy: For though a man should never be damned for sin, yet what is it less than Hell upon earth, to be under the dominion and pollution of every base lust? It is misery enough to be daily defiled by sin, though a man should never be damned for it.

To complete therefore the happiness of the redeemed; Christ is not only made of God unto them wisdom and righteousness, the one curing our ignorance, the other our guilt; but he is made sanctification also, to relieve us against the dominion and pollutions of our corruptions: "He comes both by water and by blood, not by blood only, but by water also," 1 John 5:6. purging as well as pardoning: How complete and perfect a cure is Christ!

But yet something is required beyond all this to make our happiness perfect and entire wanting nothing; and that is the removal of those doleful effects and consequences of sin, which (notwithstanding all the fore-mentioned privileges and mercies) still lie upon the souls and bodies of illuminated, justified, and sanctified persons. For even with the best and holiest of men, what swarms of vanity, loads of deadness, and fits of unbelief, do daily appear in, and oppress their souls! to the embittering of all the comforts of life to them? And how many diseases, deformities, and pains oppress their bodies, which daily moulder away by them, until they fall into the grave by death, even as the bodies of other men do, who never received such privileges from Christ as they do? For if "Christ be in us (as the apostle speaks, Romans 8:10.) the body is dead, because of sin:" Sanctification exempts us not from mortality.

But from all these, and whatever else, the fruits and consequences of sin, Christ is redemption to his people also: This seals up the sum of mercies: This so completes the happiness of the saints, that it leaves nothing to desire.

These four, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption, take in all that is necessary or desirable, to make a soul truly and perfectly blessed.

SECONDLY, We have here the method and way, by which the elect come to be invested with these excellent privileges: the account whereof, the apostle gives us in these words, "Who of God is made unto us," in which expression, four things are remarkable.

FIRST, That Christ and his benefits go inseparably and undividedly together: it is Christ himself who is made all this unto us: we can have no saving benefit separate and apart from the person of Christ: many would willingly receive his privileges, who will not receive his person; but it cannot be; if we will have one, we must take the other too: Yes, we must accept his person first, and then his benefits: as it is in the marriage covenant, so it is here.

SECONDLY, That Christ with his benefits must be personally and particularly applied to us, before we can receive any actual, saving privilege by him; he must be [made unto us] that is particularly applied to us; as a sum of money becomes, or is made the ransom and liberty of a captive, when it is not only promised, but paid down in his name, and legally applied for that use and end. When Christ died, the ransom was prepared, the sum laid down; but yet the elect continue still in sin and misery, notwithstanding, until by effectual calling it be actually applied to their persons, and then they are made free, Romans 5:10, 11. reconciled by Christ's death, by whom "we have now received the atonement."

Thirdly, That this application of Christ is the work of God, and not of man: "Of God he is made unto us:" The same hand that prepared it, must also apply it, or else we perish, notwithstanding all that the Father has done in contriving, and appointing, and all that the Son has done in executing, and accomplishing the design thus far. And this actual application is the work of the Spirit, by a singular appropriation.

FOURTHLY, and lastly, This expression imports the suitableness of Christ, to the necessities of sinners; what they want, he is made to them; and indeed, as money answers all things, and is convertible into meat, drink, clothing, physic, or what else our bodily necessities do require; so Christ is virtually, and eminently all that the necessities of our souls require; bread to the hungry, and clothing to the naked soul. In a word, God prepared and furnished him on purpose to answer all our wants, which fully suits the apostle's sense, when he says, "Who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption." The sum of all is,

DOCTRINE: That the Lord Jesus Christ, with all his precious benefits, becomes ours, by God's special and effectual application.

There is a twofold application of our redemption, one primary, the other Secondary: The former is the act of God the Father, applying it to Christ our surety, and virtually to us in him: the latter is the act of the Holy Spirit, personally and actually applying it to us in the work of conversion: The former has the respect and relation of an example, model, or pattern to this; and this is produced and wrought by the virtue of that. What was done upon the person of Christ, was not only virtually done upon us, considered in him as a common public representative person, in which sense, we are said to die with him, and live with him, to be crucified with him, and buried with him, but it was also intended for a platform, or idea, of what is to be done by the Spirit, actually upon our souls and bodies, in our single persons. As he died for sin, so the Spirit applying his death to us in the work of mortification, causes us to die to sin, by the virtue of his death: And as he was quickened by the Spirit, and raised unto life, so the Spirit applying unto us the life of Christ, causes us to live, by spiritual vivification. Now this personal, secondary, and actual application of redemption to us by the Spirit, in his sanctifying work, is that which I am engaged here to discuss and open; which I shall do in these following propositions.


Proposition 1. The application of Christ to us, is not only comprehensive of our justification, but of all those works of the Spirit which are known to us in scripture by the names of regeneration, vocation, sanctification, and conversion.

Though all these terms have some small respective differences among themselves, yet they are all included in this general, the applying and putting on of Christ, Romans 13:14. "Put you on the Lord Jesus Christ."

Regeneration expresses those supernatural, divine, new qualities, infused by the Spirit into the soul, which are the principles of all holy actions.

Vocation expresses the terms from which, and to which, the soul moves, when the Spirit works savingly upon it, under the gospel-call.

Sanctification notes a holy dedication of heart and life to God: Our becoming the temples of the living God, separate from all profane sinful practices, to the Lord's only use and service.

Conversion denotes the great change itself, which the Spirit causes upon the soul, turning it by a sweet irresistible efficacy from the power of sin and Satan, to God in Christ.

Now all these are imported in, and done by the application of Christ to our souls: for when once the efficacy of Christ's death, and the virtue of his resurrection, come to take place upon the heart of any man, he cannot but turn from sin to God, and become a new creature, living and acting by new principles and rules. So the apostle observes, 1 Thessalonians 1:5, 6. speaking of the effect of this work of the Spirit upon that people, "Our gospel (says he) came not to you in word only, but in power; and in the Holy Spirit:" There was the effectual application of Christ to them. "And you became followers of us, and of the Lord," verse 6. there was their effectual call. "And you turned from dumb idols to serve the living and true God, verse 9. there was their conversion. So that you were examples to all that believe," verse 9. there was their life of sanctification or dedication to God. So that all these are comprehended in effectual application.

Proposition 2. The application of Christ to the souls of men is that great project and design of God in this world, for the accomplishment whereof all the ordinances and all the officers of the gospel are appointed and continued in the world.

This the gospel expressly declared to be its direct end, and the great business of all its officers, Ephesians 4:11, 12. "And he gave some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers; until we all come in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God; to a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ," that is the great aim and scope of all Christ's ordinances and officers, are to bring men into union with Christ, and so build them up to perfection in him; or to unite them to, and confirm them in Christ: and when it shall have finished this design, then shall the whole frame of gospel-ordinances be taken down, and all its officers disbanded. "The kingdom (that is this present economy, manner, and form of government) shall be delivered up," 1 Corinthians 15:24. What are ministers, but the bridegroom's friends, ambassadors for God, to beseech men to be reconciled? When therefore all the elect are brought home in a reconciled state in Christ, when the marriage of the Lamb is come, our work and office expire together.

Proposition 3. Such is the importance and great concernment of the personal application of Christ to us by the Spirit, that whatever the Father has done in the contrivance, or the Son has done in the accomplishment of our redemption, is all unavailable and ineffectual to our salvation without this.

It is confessedly true, that God's good pleasure appointing us from eternity to salvation, is, in its kind, a most full and sufficient impulsive cause of our salvation, and every way able (for so much as it is concerned) to produce its effect. And Christ's humiliation and sufferings are a most complete and sufficient meritorious cause of our salvation, to which nothing can be added to make it more apt, and able to procure our salvation, than it already is: yet neither the one nor the other can actually save any soul, without the Spirit's application of Christ to it; for where there are divers social causes, necessary to produce one effect, there the effect cannot be produced until the last cause has wrought. Thus it is here, the Father has elected, and the Son has redeemed; but until the Spirit (who is the last cause) has wrought his part also, we cannot be saved. For he comes in the Father's and in the Son's name and authority, to put the last hand to the work of our salvation, by bringing all the fruits of election and redemption home to our souls in this work of effectual vocation. Hence the apostle, 1 Peter 1:2. noting the order of causes in their operations, for the bringing about of our salvation, thus states it, "Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ." Here you find God's election and Christ's blood, the two great causes of salvation, and yet neither of these alone, nor both together can save us: there must be added the sanctification of the Spirit, by which God's decree is executed; and the sprinkling (that is the personal application of Christ's blood) as well as the shedding of it, before we can have the saving benefit of either of the former causes.

Proposition 4. The application of Christ, with his saving benefits, is exactly of the same extent and latitude with the Father's election, and the Son's intention in dying, and cannot possibly be extended to one soul farther.

"Whom he did predestine, them he also called," Romans 8:30. and Acts 13:48. "As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed;" 2 Timothy 1:9. "Who has saved and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Jesus Christ, before the foundation of the world."

The Father, Son, and Spirit, (between whom was the council of peace) work out their design in a perfect harmony and consent: as there was no jar in their council, so there can be none in the execution of it: those whom the Father, before all time, did chose; they, and they only, are the persons, whom the Son, when the fullness of time for the execution of that decree was come, died for, John 17:6. "I have manifested your name unto the men, which you gave me out of the world; your they were, and you gave them me;" and verse 19. "For their sakes I sanctify myself;" that is consecrate, devote, or set myself apart for a sacrifice for them. And those for whom Christ died, are the persons to whom the Spirit effectually applies the benefits and purchases of his blood: he comes in the name of the Father and Son. "But the world cannot receive him, for it neither sees, nor knows him," John 14:17. "They that are not of Christ's sheep, believe not," John 10:26.

Christ has indeed a fullness of saving power, but the dispensation thereof is limited by the Father's will; therefore he tells us, Matthew 20:23. "It is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father." In which words he no ways denies his authority, to give glory as well as grace; he only shows that in the dispensation proper to him, as Mediator, he was limited by his Father's will and counsel.

And thus also are the dispensations of grace by the Spirit, in like manner, limited, both by the counsel and will of the Father and Son. For as he proceeds from them, so he acts in the administration proper to him, by commission from both. John 14:26. "The Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name:" and as he comes forth into the world by this joint commission, so his dispensations are limited in his commission; for it is said, John 16:13. "He shall not speak of himself, but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak?" that is He shall in all things act according to his commission, which the Father and I have given him.

The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he sees the Father do, John 5:19. And the Spirit can do nothing of himself, but what he hears from the Father and Son; and it is impossible it should be otherwise, considering not only the unity of their nature, but also of their will and design. So that you see the application of Christ, and benefits by the Spirit, are commensurable with the Father's secret counsel, and the Son's design in dying, which are the rule, model, and pattern of the Spirit's working.

Proposition 5. The application of Christ to souls, by the regenerating work of the Spirit, is that which makes the first internal difference and distinction among men.

It is very true, that in respect of God's fore-knowledge and purpose, there was a distinction between one man and another, before any man had a being, one was taken, another left: and with respect to the death of Christ, there is a great difference between one and another; he laid down his life for the sheep, he prayed for them, and not for the world; but all this while, as to any relative change of state, or real change of temper, they are upon a level with the rest of the miserable world. The elect themselves are "by nature the children of wrath, even as others," Ephesians 2:3. And to the same purpose the apostle tells the Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 6:11. (when he had given in that black bill, describing the most lewd, profligate, abominable wretches in the world, men whose practices did stink in the very nostrils of nature, and were able to make the more sober Heathens blush; after this he tells the Corinthians) "And such were some of you, but you are washed," etc. q. d. look, these were your companions once: as they are, you lately were.

The work of the Spirit does not only evidence and manifest that difference which God's election has made between man and man, as the apostle speaks, 1 Thessalonians 1:4, 5. But it also makes a twofold difference itself, namely in state and temper? whereby they visibly differ, not only from other men, but also from themselves; after this work, though a man be the who, yet not the what he was. This work of the Spirit makes us new creatures, namely; for quality and temper, 2 Corinthians 5:17. "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are past away, behold, all things are become new."

Proposition 6. The application of Christ, by the work of regeneration, is that which yields unto men all the sensible sweetness and refreshing comforts that they have in Christ, and in all that he has done, suffered, or purchased for sinners.

An unsanctified person may relish the natural sweetness of the creature, as well as he who is sanctified; he may also seem to relish and taste some sweetness in the delicious promises and discoveries of the gospel, by a misapplication of them to himself. But this is like the joy of a beggar, dreaming he is a king; but he awakes and finds himself a beggar still: but for the rational, solid, and genuine delights and comforts of religion, no man tastes them, until this work of the Spirit has first passed upon his soul: it is an enclosed pleasure, a stranger intermeddles not with it. "The white stone, and the new name," (denoting the pleasant results and fruits of justification and adoption) "no man knows but he who receives it," Revelation 2:7. There are all those things wanting in the unsanctified (though elect) soul, that should capacitate and enable it to relish the sweetness of Christ and religion, namely, propriety, evidence, and suitableness of spirit.

Propriety is the sweetest part of any excellency; therefore Luther was accustomed to say, that the sweetness of the gospel lay mostly in pronouns, as me, my, your, etc. who loved [me] and gave himself for me, Galatians 2:20. Christ Jesus [my] Lord, Philippians 3:18. So Matt, 9:2. Son, be of good cheer, [your] sins are forgiven. Take away propriety, and you deflower the very gospel of its beauty and deliciousness: and as propriety, so

Evidence is requisite to joy and comfort; yes, so necessary, that even interest and propriety afford no sensible sweetness without it. For as to comfort, it is all one not to appear, and not to be. If I am registered in the book of life, and know it not, what comfort can my name there afford me? Besides, to capacitate a soul for the sweetness and comfort of Christ there is also an agreeable temper of spirit required; for how can Christ be sweet to that man's soul, whose thoughts decline, or nauseate so holy and pure an object? Now, all these requisites being the proper effects and fruits of the Spirit's sanctifying operations upon us, it is beyond controversy, that the consolations of Christ cannot be tasted, until the application of Christ be first made.

Proposition 7. The application of Christ to the soul effectually, though it be so far wrought in the first saving work of the Spirit, as truly to unite the soul to Christ, and save it from the danger of perishing; yet it is a work gradually advancing in the believer's soul, while it abides on this side Heaven and glory.

It is true, indeed, that Christ is perfectly and completely applied to the soul in the first act for righteousness. "Justification being a relative change, properly admits no degrees, but is perfected together, and at once, in one only act; though as to its manifestation, sense, and effects, it has various degrees." But the application of Christ to us, for wisdom and sanctification, is not perfected in one single act, but rises by many, and slow degrees to its just perfection.

And though we are truly said to be come to Christ when we first believe, John 6:35. yet the soul after that is still coming to him by farther acts of faith, 1 Peter 2:4. "To whom [coming] as unto a living stone;" the participle notes a continued motion, by which the soul gains ground, and still gets nearer and nearer to Christ; growing still more inwardly acquainted with him. The knowledge of Christ grows upon the soul as the morning light, from its first spring to the perfect day, Proverbs 4:18. Every grace of the Spirit grows, if not sensibly, yet really; for it is in discerning the growth of sanctification, as it is in discerning the growth of plants, which we perceive rather to have grown, rather than grow. And as it thrives in the soul, by deeper eradications of the habits, and more promptitude and spirituality in the actings; so Christ, and the soul proportionably, close more and more inwardly and efficaciously, until at last it is wholly swallowed up in Christ's full and perfect enjoyment.

Proposition 8. Lastly, Although the several privileges and benefits before mentioned are all truly and really bestowed with Christ upon believers, yet they are not communicated to them in one and the same way and manner; but differently and diversely, as their respective natures do require.

These four illustrious benefits are conveyed from Christ to us in three different ways and methods; his righteousness is made ours by imputation: his wisdom and sanctification by renovation: his redemption by our glorification.

I know the communication of Christ's righteousness to us by imputation, is not only denied, but scoffed at by Papists; who own no righteousness, but what is (at least) confounded with that which is inherent in us; and for imputative (blasphemously stiled by them putative) righteousness, they flatly deny it, and look upon it as a most absurd doctrine, everywhere endeavoring to load it with these and such like absurdities, That if God imputes Christ's righteousness to the believer, and accepts what Christ has performed for him, as if he had performed it himself; then we may be accounted as righteous as Christ. Then we may be the redeemers of the world. False and groundless consequences; as if a man should say, my debt is paid by my surety, therefore I am as rich as he. "When we say the righteousness of Christ is made ours by imputation, we think not that it is made ours according to its universal value, but according to our particular necessity: not to make others righteous, but to make us so: not that we have the formal intrinsical righteousness of Christ in us, as it is in him, but a relative righteousness, which makes us righteous, even as he is righteous; not as to the quantity, but as to the truth of it: nor is it imputed to us, as though Christ designed to make us the causes of salvation to others, but the subjects of salvation, ourselves;" it is inhesively in him, communicatively it becomes ours; by imputation, the sin of the first Adam becomes ours, and the same way the righteousness of the second Adam becomes ours, Romans 5:17. This way the Redeemer became sin for us, and this way we are made the righteousness of God in him, 2 Corinthians 5:21. This way Abraham the father of believers was justified, therefore this way all believers, the children of Abraham, must be justified also, Romans 4:22, 23. And thus is Christ's righteousness made ours.

But in conveying and communicating his wisdom and sanctification, he takes another method, for this is not imputed, but really imparted to us by the illuminating and regenerating work of the Spirit: these are graces really inherent in us: our righteousness comes from Christ as a surety, but our holiness comes from him as a quickening head, sending vital influences unto all his members.

Now these gracious habits being subjected and seated in the souls of poor imperfect creatures, whose corruptions abide and work in the very same faculties where grace has its residence; it cannot be, that our sanctification should be so perfect and complete, as our justification is, which inheres only in Christ. See Galatians 5:17. Thus are righteousness and sanctification communicated and made ours: but then,

For redemption, that is to say, absolute and plenary deliverance from all the sad remains, effects, and consequences of sin, both upon soul and body; this is made ours, (or, to keep to the terms) Christ is made redemption to us by glorification; then, and not before, are these miserable effects removed; we put off these together with the body. So that look, as justification cures the guilt of sin, and sanctification, the dominion of sin, so glorification removes, together with its existence and being, all those miseries which it let in (as at a flood-gate) upon our whole man, Ephesians 5:26, 27.

And thus of God, Christ is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption; namely, by imputation, regeneration, and glorification.

I shall next improve the point in some useful inferences.


Inference 1. Learn from hence, what a naked, destitute, and empty thing, a poor sinner is, in his natural unregenerate state.

He is one that naturally and inherently has neither wisdom, nor righteousness, sanctification nor redemption; all these must come from without himself, even from Christ, who is made all this to a sinner, or else he must eternally perish.

As no creature (in respect of external abilities) comes under more natural weakness into the world than man, naked, empty, and more shiftless and helpless than any other creature; so it is with his soul, yes, much more than so: all our excellencies are borrowed excellencies, no reason therefore to be proud of any of them, 1 Corinthians 4:7. "What have you that you have not received? Now, if you did receive it, why do you glory, as if you had not received it?" q. d. What intolerable insolence and vanity would it be for a man that wears the rich and costly robe of Christ's righteousness, in which there is not one thread of his own spinning, but all made by free-grace, and not by free-will, to jet proudly up and down the world in it, as if himself had made it, and he were indebted to none for it? O man! your excellencies, whatever they are, are borrowed from Christ, they oblige you to him, but he can be no more obliged to you, who wear them, than the sun is obliged to him that borrows its light, or the fountain to him that draws its water for his use and benefit.

And it has ever been the care of holy men, when they have viewed their own gracious principles, or best performances, still to disclaim themselves, and own free-grace as the sole author of all. Thus holy Paul, viewing the principles of divine life in himself, (the richest gift bestowed upon man in this world by Jesus Christ) how does he renounce himself, and deny the least part of the praise and glory as belonging to him, Galatians 2:20. "Now I live, yet not I; but Christ lives in me," and so for the best duties that ever he performed for God: (and what mere man ever did more for God?) Yet when, in a just and necessary defense, he was constrained to mention them, 1 Corinthians 15:10. how carefully is the like [Yet not I] presently added? "I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."

Well then, let the sense of your own emptiness by nature humble and oblige you the more to Christ, from whom you receive all you have.

Inference 2. Hence we are informed, that none can claim benefit by imputed righteousness, but those only that live in the power of inherent holiness; to whoever Christ is made righteousness, to him he also is made sanctification.

The gospel has not the least favor for licentiousness. It is every way as careful to press men to their duties as to instruct them in their privileges, Titus 3:8. "This is a faithful saying; and these things I will that you affirm constantly; that they which have believed in God, might be careful to maintain good works." It is a loose principle, divulged by libertines, to the reproach of Christ and his gospel, that sanctification is not the evidence of our justification. And Christ is as much wronged by them who separate holiness from righteousness (as if a sensual vile life were consistent with a justified state) as he is in the contrary extreme, by those who confound Christ's righteousness with man's holiness, in the point of justification; or that own no other righteousness, but what is inherent in themselves. The former opinion makes him a cloak for sin, the latter a needless sacrifice for sin.

It is true, our sanctification cannot justify us before God; but what then, can it not evidence our justification before men? Is there no necessity, or use for holiness, because it has no hand in our justification? Is the preparation of the soul for Heaven, by altering its frame and temper, nothing? Is the glorifying of our Redeemer, by the exercises of grace in the world, nothing? Does the work of Christ render the work of the Spirit needless? God forbid: "He came not by blood only, but by water also," 1 John 5:6. And when the apostle says, in Romans 4:5. "But unto him that works not, but believes on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness:" the scope of it is neither to characterize and describe the justified person, as one that is lazy and slothful, and has no mind to work, nor the rebellious and refractory, refusing obedience to the commands of God; but to represent him as an humbled sinner, who is convinced of his inability to work out his own righteousness by the law, and sees all his endeavors to obey the law fall short of righteousness, and therefore is said, in a law-sense, not to work, because he does not work so as to answer the purpose and end of the law, which accepts of nothing beneath perfect obedience.

And when (in the same text) the ungodly are said to be justified, that character describes not the temper and frame of their hearts and lives, after their justification, but what it was before; not as it leaves, but as it found them.

Inference 3. How unreasonable, and worse than brutish, is the sin of infidelity, by which the sinner rejects Christ, and with him all those mercies, and benefits, which alone can relieve and cure his misery!

He is by nature blind and ignorant, and yet refuses Christ, who comes to him with heavenly light and wisdom; he is condemned by the terrible sentence of the law to eternal wrath, and yet rejects Christ, who renders to him complete and perfect righteousness: he is wholly polluted and plunged into original and actual pollutions of nature and practice, yet will have none of Christ, who would become sanctification to him. He is oppressed in soul and body, with the deplorable effects and miseries sin has brought upon him, and yet is so in love with his bondage, that he will neither accept Christ, nor the redemption he brings with him to sinners.

O! what monsters, what beasts has sin turned its subjects into! "You will not come to me that you may have life," John 5:40. Sin has stabbed the sinner to the heart, the wounds are all mortal, eternal death is in his face; Christ has prepared the only plaster that can cure his wounds, but he will not allow him to apply it. He acts like one in love with death, and that judges it sweet to perish. So Christ tells us, Proverbs 8:36. "All they that hate me, love death:" not in itself but in its causes, with which it is inseparably connected. They are reluctant to burn, yet willing to sin; though sin kindle those everlasting flames. So that in two things the unbeliever shows himself worse than brutish, he cannot think of damnation, the effect of sin, without horror; and cannot yet think of sin, the cause of damnation, without pleasure; he is reluctant to perish to all eternity without a remedy, and yet refuses and declines Christ as if he were an enemy, who only can and would deliver him from that eternal perdition.

How do men act therefore, as if they were in love with their own ruin! Many poor wretches now in the way to Hell, what an hard shift do they make to cast themselves away! Christ meets them many times in the ordinances, where they studiously shun him: many times checks them in their way by convictions, which they make an hard shift to overcome and conquer. Oh how willing are they to accept a cure, a benefit, a remedy, for anything but their souls! You see then that sinners cannot, (should they study all their days to do themselves a mischief), take a readier course to undo themselves, than by rejecting Christ in his gracious offers.

Surely the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is less than this sin.

Mercy itself is exasperated by it, and the damnation of such as reject Christ, (so prepared for them, with whatever they need, and so seriously and frequently offered to them upon the knee of gospel entreaty), is just, inevitable, and will be more intolerable than to any in the world beside them. It is just, for the sinner has but his own option, or choice: he is but come to the end which he was often told his way would bring him to. It is inevitable, for there is no other way to salvation, but that which is rejected. And it will be more intolerable than the damnation of others, because neither heathens nor devils ever aggravated their sins by such an horrid circumstance, as the willful refusing of such an apt, offered, and only remedy.

Inference 4. What a tremendous symptom of wrath, and sad character of death, appears upon that man's soul, to which no effectual application of Christ can be made by the gospel.

Christ, with his benefits, is frequently offered to them in the gospel; they have been beseeched once and again, upon the knee of importunity, to accept him; those entreaties and persuasions have been urged by the greatest arguments, the command of God, the love of Christ, the inconceivable happiness or misery which unavoidably follow the accepting or rejecting of those offers, and yet nothing will affect them: all their pleas for infidelity have been over and over confuted, their reasons and consciences have stood convinced; they have been speechless, as well as Christless: not one sound argument is found with them to defend their infidelity: they confess in general, that such courses as theirs are, lead to destruction. They will yield them to be happy souls that are in Christ; and yet, when it comes to the point, their own closing with him, nothing will do; all arguments, all entreaties, return to us without success.

Lord! what is the reason of this unaccountable obstinacy? In other things it is not so: If they be sick, they are so far from rejecting a physician that offers himself, that they will send, and pray, and pay him too. If they be arrested for debt, and any one will be a surety, and pay their debts for them, words can hardly express the sense they have of such a kindness: but though Christ would be both a physician and surety, and whatever else their needs require, they will rather perish to eternity, than accept him. What may we fear to be the reason of this, but because they are not of Christ's sheep, John 10:26. The Lord open the eyes of poor sinners, to apprehend not only how great a sin, but how dreadful a sign this is.

Inference 5. If Christ, with all his benefits, be made ours, by God's special application, what a day of mercies then is the day of conversion! what multitudes of choice blessings visit the converted soul in that day!

"This day. (says Christ to Zaccheus, Luke 19:9.) is salvation come to this house." In this day, Christ comes into the soul, and he comes not empty, but brings with him all his treasures of wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. Troops of mercies, yes, of the best of mercies, come with him. It is a day of singular gladness and joy to the heart of Christ, when he is espoused to, and received by the believing soul: it is a coronation day to a king. So you read, Canticles 3:11. "Go forth, O you daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown with which his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart."

Where, under the type of Solomon in his greatest magnificence and glory, when the royal diadem was set upon his head, and the people shouted for joy, so that the earth did ring again, is shadowed out the joy of Christ's heart, when poor souls, by their high estimation of him, and consent to his government, do, as it were, crown him with glory and honor, and make his heart glad.

Now, if the day of our espousals to Christ be the day of the gladness of his heart, and he reckons himself thus honored and glorified by us, what a day of joy and gladness should it be to our hearts, and how should we be transported with joy, to see a King from Heaven, with all his treasures of grace and glory, bestowing himself freely, and everlastingly upon us, as our portion! No wonder Zaccheus came down joyfully, Luke 19:6. that the eunuch went home rejoicing, Acts 8:39. that the gawler rejoiced, believing in God with all his household, Acts 16:34. that they that were converted, did eat their meat with gladness, praising God, Acts 2:41, 46. that there was great joy among them of Samaria, when Christ came among them in the preaching of the gospel, Acts 8:5, 8. I say, it is no wonder we read of such joy accompanying Christ into the soul, when we consider, that in one day, so many blessings meet together in it, the least of which is not to be exchanged for all the kingdoms of this world, and the glory of them. Eternity itself will but suffice to bless God for the mercies of this one day.

Inference 6. If Christ be made all this to every soul, unto whom he is effectually applied, what cause then have those souls, that are under the preparatory work of the Spirit, and are come near to Christ and all his benefits, to stretch out their hands, with vehement desire to Christ, and give him the most important invitation into their souls!

The whole world is distinguishable into three classes, or sorts of persons; such as are far from Christ; such as are not far from Christ; and such as are in Christ. They that are in Christ have heartily received him. Such as are far from Christ, will not open to him; their hearts are fast barred by ignorance, prejudice, and unbelief against him: But those that are come under the preparatory workings of the Spirit, near to Christ, who see their own indispensable necessity of him, and his suitableness to their necessities, in whom also encouraging hopes begin to dawn, and their souls are waiting at the foot of God for power to receive him, for an heart to close sincerely and universally with him; O what vehement desires! what strong pleas! what moving arguments should such persons urge, and plead to win Christ, and get possession of him! they are in sight of their only remedy; Christ and salvation are come to their very doors; there wants but a few things to make them blessed forever. This is the day in which their souls are exercised between hopes and fears: Now they are much alone, and deep in thoughtfulness, they weep and make supplication for a heart to believe, and that against the great discouragements with which they encounter.

Reader, if this be the case of your soul, it will not be the least piece of service I can do for you, to suggest such pleas as in this case are proper to be urged for the attainment of your desires, and the closing of the match between Christ and you.

FIRST, Plead the absolute necessity which now drives you to Christ: Tell him your hope is utterly perished in all other refuges. You are come like a starving beggar to the last door of hope. Tell him you now begin to see the absolute necessity of Christ. Your body has not so much need of bread, water, or air, as your soul has of Christ, and that wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption, that are in him.

SECONDLY, Plead the Father's gracious design in furnishing and sending him into the world, and his own design in accepting the Father's call. Lord Jesus, were you not "anointed to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken-hearted, and to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound?" Isaiah 61:1, 3. Behold an object suitable to your office: while I was ignorant of my condition, I had a proud rebellious heart, but conviction and self-acquaintance have now melted it: my heart was harder than the nether millstone, and it was as easy to dissolve the obdurate rocks, as to thaw and melt my heart for sin; but now God has made my heart soft, I sensibly feel the misery of my condition. I once thought myself at perfect liberty, but now I see what I conceited to be perfect liberty, is perfect bondage; and never did a poor prisoner sigh for deliverance more than I. Since then you have given me a soul thus qualified, though still unworthy, for the exercise of your office, and execution of your commission; Lord Jesus, be, according to your name, a Jesus unto me.

Thirdly, Plead the unlimited and general invitation made to such souls as you are, to come to Christ freely. Lord, you have made open proclamation; "Ho, every one that thirsts, come you to the waters, Isaiah 55:1. and Revelation 22:17. Him that is a-thirst come." In obedience to your call, lo, I come; had I not been invited, my coming to you, dear Lord Jesus, had been an act of presumption, but this makes it an act of duty and obedience.

FOURTHLY, Plead the unprofitableness of your blood to God; Lord, there is no profit in my blood, it will turn to no more advantage to you to destroy, than it will to save me: if you send me to Hell, (as the merit of my sin calls upon your justice to do,) I shall be there dishonoring you to all eternity, and the debt I owe you never paid. But, if you apply your Christ to me for righteousness, satisfaction for all that I have done will be laid down in one full, complete sum; indeed, if the honor of your justice lay as a bar to my pardon, it would stop my mouth: but when your justice, as well as your mercy, shall both rejoice together, and be glorified and pleased in the same act, what hinders but that Christ be applied to my soul, since, in so doing, God can be no loser by it?

FIFTHLY, and lastly, Plead your compliance with the terms of the gospel: tell him, Lord, my will complies fully and heartily to all your gracious terms. I can now subscribe a blank: let God offer his Christ on what terms he will, my heart is ready to comply; I have no exception against any article of the gospel. And now, Lord, I wholly refer myself to your pleasure; do with me what seems good in your eyes, only give me a saving interest in Jesus Christ; as to all other concerns I lie at your feet, in full resignation of all to your pleasure. Never yet did any perish in that posture and frame; and I hope I shall not be made the first instance and example.

Inference 7. Lastly, If Christ, with all his benefits, be made ours, by a special application; how contented, thankful, comfortable, and hopeful, should believers be, in every condition which God casts them into in this world!

After such a mercy as this, let them never open their mouths any more to repine and grudge at the outward inconveniences of their condition in this world. What are the things you want, compared with the things you enjoy? What is a little money, health, or liberty, to wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption? All the crowns and scepters in the world, sold to their full value, are no price for the least of these mercies. But I will not insist here, your duty lies much higher than contentment.

Be thankful, as well as content, in every state. "Blessed be God, (says the apostle) the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all [spiritual blessings] in heavenly places in Christ:" O think what are men to angels, that Christ should pass by them to become a Savior to men? And what are you among men, that you should be taken, and others left! And among all the mercies of God, what mercies are comparable to these conferred upon you? O bless God in the lowest ebb of outward comforts, for such privileges as these.

And yet you will not come up to your duty in all this, except you be joyful in the Lord, and rejoice evermore, after the receipt of such mercies as these, Philippians 4:4. "Rejoice in the Lord you righteous, and again I say rejoice." For has not the poor captive reason to rejoice, when he has recovered his liberty? The debtor to rejoice when all scores are cleared, and he owes nothing? The weary traveler to rejoice, though he be not owner of a shilling, when he is come almost home, where all his wants shall be supplied? Why this is our case, when Christ once becomes yours: you are the Lord's freemen, your debts to justice are all satisfied by Christ; and you are within a little of complete redemption from all the troubles and inconveniences of your present state.

Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.




Wherein the Union of the Believer with CHRIST, as a principal Part of effectual Application, is stated and practically improved

JOHN 17:23, "I in them, and You in me, that they may be made perfect in one."

THE design and end of the application of Christ to sinners is the communication of his benefits to them; but seeing all communications of benefits necessarily imply communion, and all communion as necessarily presupposes union with his person: I shall therefore, in this place, and from this scripture, treat of the mystical union between Christ and believers; this union being the principal act, wherein the Spirit's application of Christ consists, of which I spoke (as to its general nature) in the former sermon.

In this verse (omitting the context) we find a threefold union, one between the Father and Christ, a second between Christ and believers, a third between believers themselves.

FIRST, You in me: This is a glorious ineffable union, and is fundamental to the other two. The Father is not only in Christ, in respect of dear affections, as one dear friend is in another, who is as his own soul; nor only essentially, in respect of the identity and sameness of nature and attributes, in which respect Christ is the express image of his person, Hebrews 1:3. But he is in Christ also as Mediator, by communicating the fullness of the Godhead, which dwells in him as God-man, in a transcendent and singular manner, so as it never dwelt, nor can dwell in any other. Colossians 2:9.

SECONDLY, I in them: Here is the mystical union between Christ and the saints, q. d. You and I are one essentially, they and I are one mystically: and you and I are one by communication of the Godhead, and singular fullness of the Spirit to me as Mediator; and they and I are one, by my communication of the Spirit to them in measure.

Thirdly, From hence results a third union between believers themselves; that they may be made perfect in one; the same Spirit dwelling in them all, and equally uniting them all to me, as living members to their Head of influence, there must needs be a dear and intimate union between themselves, as fellow-members of the same body.

Now my business, at this time, lying in the second branch, namely, the union between Christ and believers, I shall gather up the substance of it into this doctrinal proposition, to which I shall apply this discourse.

DOCTRINE: That there is a strict and dear union between Christ and all true believers.

The scriptures have borrowed from the book of nature four elegant and lively metaphors, to help the nature of this mystical union with Christ into our understandings; namely, that of pieces of timber united by glue; that of a graft taking hold of its stock, and making one tree; that of the husband and wife, by the marriage-covenant, becoming one flesh; and that of the members and head animated by one soul, and so becoming one natural body. Every one of these is more lively and full than the other: and what is defective in one, is supplied in the other; but yet, neither any of these singly, or all of them jointly, can give us a full and complete account of this mystery.

Not that of two pieces united by glue, 1 Corinthians 6:17. "He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit," glued to the Lord. For though this cement, and strongly joins them in one, yet this is but a faint and imperfect shadow of our union with Christ; for though this union by glue be intimate, yet not vital, but so is that of the soul with Christ.

Nor that of the engraft and stock, mentioned Romans 6:5. for though it be there said, that believers are implanted, or engrafted by way of incision, and this union between it and the stock be vital, for it partakes of the vital sap and juice of it; yet here also is a remarkable defect, for the engraft is of a more excellent kind and nature than the stock, and, upon that account, the tree receives its denomination from it, as from the more noble and excellent part; but Christ, into whom believers are engrafted, is infinitely more excellent than they, and they are denominated from him.

Nor yet that conjugal union, by marriage-covenant, between a man and his wife; for though this be exceeding dear and intimate, so that a man leaves father and mother, and cleaves to his wife, and they two become one flesh; yet this union is not indissolvable, but may and must be broken by death; and then the relict lives alone without any communion with, or relation to, the person that was once so dear; but this between Christ and the soul can never be dissolved by death, it abides to eternity.

Nor, lastly, that of the head and members united by one vital spirit, and so making one physical body, mentioned Ephesians 4:15, 16. for though one soul actuates every member, yet it does not knit every member alike near to the head, but some are nearer, and others removed farther from it; but here every member is alike nearly united with Christ the Head; the weak are as near to him as the strong.

Two things are necessary to be opened in the doctrinal part of this point.

1. The reality.

2. The quality of this union.

FIRST, For the reality of it, I shall make it appear, that there is such a union between Christ and believers; it is no empty notion, or cunningly devised fable, but a most certain demonstrable truth, which appears,

FIRST, From the communion which is between Christ and believers; in this the apostle is express, 1 John 1:3. "Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ;" κοινωνια. It signifies such fellowship or copartnership, as persons have by a joint interest in one and the same enjoyment, which is in common between them. So Hebrews 3:14. we are partakers of Christ. And Psalm 45:7, here the saints are called the companions, consorts or fellows of Christ; "and that not only in respect of his assumption of our mortality, and investing us with his immortality, but it has a special reference and respect to the unction of the Holy Spirit, or graces of the Spirit, of which believers are partakers with him and through him." Now this communion of the saints with Christ is entirely and necessarily dependent upon their union with him, even as much as the branch's participation of the sap and juice depends upon its union and coalition with the stock: take away union, and there can be no communion, or communications, which is clear from 1 Corinthians 3:22, 23. "All is yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's." Where you see how all our participation of Christ's benefits is built upon our union with Christ's person.

SECONDLY, The reality of the believer's union with Christ, is evident from the imputation of Christ's righteousness to him for his justification. That a believer is justified before God by a righteousness without himself, is undeniable from Romans 3:24. "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." And that Christ's righteousness becomes ours by imputation is as clear from Romans 4:23, 24. but it can never be imputed to us, except we be united to him, and become one with him: which is also plainly asserted in 1 Corinthians 1:30. "But of him are you (in Christ Jesus) who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." He communicates his merits unto none but those that are in him. Hence all those vain cavils of the Papists, disputing against our justification by the righteousness of Christ, and asserting it to be by inherent righteousness, are solidly answered.

When they demand, How can we be justified by the righteousness of another? Can I be rich with another man's money, or preferred by another man's honors? Our answer is, Yes, if that other be my surety or husband. Indeed Peter can not be justified by the righteousness of Paul; but both may be justified by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them; they being members, jointly knit to one common Head. Principal and surety are one in obligation and construction of law. Head and members are one body, branch and stock are one tree; and it is no strange thing to see a engraft live by the sap of another stock, when once it is engrafted into it.

Thirdly, The sympathy that is between Christ and believers, proves a union between them; Christ and the saints smile and sigh together. St. Paul in Colossians 1:24. tells us, that he did "fill up that which was behind"—the remainders of the "sufferings of Christ in his flesh:" not as if Christ's sufferings were imperfect, ("for by one offering he has perfected forever them that are sanctified," Hebrews 10:14.) but in these two scriptures, Christ is considered in a twofold capacity; he suffered once in his own person, as Mediator; these sufferings are complete and full, and in that sense he suffers no more: he suffers also in his church and members, thus he still suffers in the sufferings of every saint for his sake; and though these sufferings in his mystical body are not equal to the other, either in their weight and value, nor yet designed ex officio, for the same use and purpose, to satisfy by their proper merit, offended justice; nevertheless they are truly reckoned the sufferings of Christ, because the head suffers when the members do; and without this supposition, that place, Acts 9:5. is never to be understood, when Christ, the Head in Heaven, cries out, "Saul, Saul, why persecute you me?" when the foot was trod upon on earth: How does Christ sensibly feel our sufferings, or we his, if there be not a mystical union between him and us?

FOURTHLY, and lastly, The way and manner in which the saints shall be raised at the last day, proves this mystical union between Christ and them; for they are not to be raised as others, by the naked power of God without them, but by the virtue of Christ's resurrection as their Head, sending forth vital, quickening influences into their dead bodies, which are united to him as well as their souls. For so we find it, Romans 8:11. "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he who raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwells in you;" even as it is in our awaking out of natural sleep, first the animal-spirits in the head begin to rouse and play there, and then the senses and members are loosed throughout the whole body.

Now it is impossible the saints should be raised in the last resurrection, by the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them, if that Spirit did not knit and unite them to him, as members to their head. So then by all this, it is proved, that there is a real union of the saints with Christ.

Next, I shall endeavor to open the quality and nature of this union, and show you what it is, according to the weak apprehensions we have of so sublime a mystery; and this I shall do in a general and particular account of it.

FIRST, More generally, it is an intimate conjunction of believers to Christ, by the imparting of his Spirit to them, whereby they are enabled to believe and live in him.

All divine and spiritual life is originally in the Father, and comes not to us, but by and through the Son, John 5:26. to him has the Father given to have a quickening, enlivening power in himself; but the Son communicates this life which is in him to none but by and through the Spirit, Romans 8:2. "The Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus, has made me free from the law of sin and death."

The Spirit must therefore first take hold of us, before we can live in Christ; and when he does so, then we are enabled to exert that vital act of faith, whereby we receive Christ; all this lies plain in that one scripture, John 6:57. "As the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father, so he who eats me, (that is by faith applies me) even he shall live by me." So that these two, namely, the Spirit on Christ's part, and faith, his work on our part, are the two ligaments by which we are knit to Christ.

So that the Spirit's work in uniting or ingrafting a soul in Christ, is like the cutting off the engraft from its native stock (which he does by his illuminations and convictions) and closing it with the living, when it is thus prepared, and so enabling it (by the infusion of faith) to suck and draw the vital sap, and thus it becomes one with him. Or as the many members in the natural body, being all quickened and animated by the same vital spirit, become one body with the head, which is the principal member, Ephesians 4:4. "There is one body and one spirit."

More particularly, we shall consider the properties of this union, so that we may the better understand the nature of it. And here I shall open the nature of it both negatively and affirmatively.

FIRST, Negatively, by removing all false notions and misapprehensions of it. And we say,

FIRST, The saints union with Christ is not a mere mental union only in conceit or notion, but really exists whether we conceit it or not. I know the atheistical world censures all these things as fancies and idle imaginations, but believers know the reality of them, John 14:20. "At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." This doctrine is not fantastical, but scientific.

SECONDLY, The saints union with Christ is not a physical union, such as is between the members of a natural body and the head; our nature indeed is assumed into union with the person of Christ, but it is the singular honor of that blessed and holy flesh of Christ, to be so united as to make one person with him; that union is hypostatic, this only mystical.

Thirdly, Nor is it an essential union, or union with the divine nature, so as our beings are thereby swallowed up and lost in the Divine being.

Some there be indeed that talk at that wild rate, of being godded into God, and christed into Christ; and those unwary expressions of Gregory do but too much countenance those daring spirits; but oh, there is an infinite distance between us and Christ, in respect of nature and excellency, notwithstanding this union.

FOURTHLY, The union I here speak of, is not a federal union, or a union by covenant only: such a union indeed there is between Christ and believers, but that is consequential to and wholly dependent upon this.

FIFTHLY, and lastly, It is not a mere moral union by love and affection; thus we say, one soul is in two bodies, a friend is another self; the lover is in the person beloved; such a union of hearts and affections there is also between Christ and the saints, but this is of another nature; that we call a moral, this is a mystical union; that only knits our affections, but this our persons to Christ.

SECONDLY, Positively. And, FIRST, Though this union neither makes us one person nor essence with Christ, yet it knits our persons most intimately and nearly to the person of Christ. The church is Christ's body, Colossians 1:24. not his natural, but his mystical body; that is to say, his body is a mystery, because it is to him as his natural body. The saints stand to Christ in the same relation that the natural members of the body stand to the head, and he stands in the same relation to them, that the head stands in to the natural members; and consequently they stand related to one another, as the members of a natural body do to each other.

Christ and the saints are not one, as the oak and the ivy that clasps it are one, but as the engraft and stock are one; it is not a union by adhesion, but incorporation. Husband and wife are not so near, soul and body are not so near, as Christ and the believing soul are near to each other.

SECONDLY, The mystical union is wholly supernatural, wrought by the alone power of God. So it is said, 1 Corinthians 1:30. "But of him are you in Christ Jesus." We can no more unite ourselves to Christ, than a branch can incorporate itself into another stock; it is of him, that is, of God, his proper and alone work.

There are only two ligaments, or bands of union between Christ and the soul, namely, the Spirit on his part, and faith on ours. But when we say faith is the band of union on our part, the meaning is not, that it is so our own act, as that it springs naturally from us, or is educed from the power of our own wills; no, for the apostle expressly contradicts it, Ephesians 2:8. "It is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." But we are the subjects of it, and though the act on that account be ours, yet the power enabling us to believe is God's, Ephesians 1:19, 20.

Thirdly, The mystical union is an immediate union; immediate I say, not as excluding means and instruments, for several means and many instruments are employed for the effecting of it; but immediate, as excluding degrees of nearness among the members of Christ's mystical body.

Every member in the natural body stands not as near to the head as another, but so do all the mystical members of Christ's body to him: every member, the smallest as well as the greatest; has an immediate coalition with Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:2. "To the church of God, which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours."

Among the factions in this church at Corinth, those that said, I am of Christ, as arrogating Christ to themselves, were as much a faction, as those that said, I am of Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:30. To cure this he tells them, he is both theirs and ours. Such inclosures are against law.

FOURTHLY, The saints mystical union with Christ is a fundamental union; it is fundamental by way of sustentation; all our fruits of obedience depend upon it, John 15:4. "As the branch cannot bear fruit except it abide in the vine, no more can you, except you abide in me." It is fundamental to all our privileges and comfortable claims, 1 Corinthians 3:23. "All is yours, for you are Christ's." And it is fundamental to all our hopes and expectations of glory; for it is "Christ in you the hope of glory," Colossians 1:27. So then, destroy this union, and with it you destroy all our fruits, privileges, and eternal hopes, at one stroke.

FIFTHLY, The mystical union is a most efficacious union, for through this union the divine power flows into our souls, both to quicken us with the life of Christ, and to conserve and secure that life in us after it is so infused.

Without the union of the soul to Christ, which is to be conceived efficiently as the Spirit's act, there can be no union formally considered; and, without these, no communications of life from Christ to us, Ephesians 4:16. And as there is that effectual working of the spirit of life in every part, which he there speaks of, (as though you should say, the first appearances of a new life, a spiritual vitality diffused through the soul, which before while was dead in sin) yet still this union with Christ is as necessary to the maintaining, as before it was to the producing of it.

For why is it that this life is not again extinguished, and wholly suffocated in us, by so many deadly wounds as are given it by temptations and corruptions? Surely no reason can be assigned more satisfying than that which Christ himself gives us, in John 14:19. "Because I live, you shall live also:" q. d. while there is vital sap in me the root, you that are branches in me cannot wither and die.

SIXTHLY, The mystical union is an indissoluble union: there is an everlasting tie between Christ and the believer; and herein also it is beyond all other unions in the world; death dissolves the dear union between the husband and wife, friend and friend, yes, between soul and body, but not between Christ and the soul, the bands of this union rot not in the grave. "What shall separate us from the love of Christ?" says the apostle, Romans 8:35, 38, 39. He bids defiance to all his enemies, and triumphs in the firmness of his union over all hazards that seem to threaten it. It is with Christ and us, in respect of the mystical union, as it is with Christ himself, in respect of the hypostatic union; that was not dissolved by his death, when the natural union between his soul and body was, nor can this mystical union of our souls and bodies with Christ be dissolved, when the union between us and our dearest relations, yes, between the soul and body, is dissolved by death. God calls himself the God of Abraham, long after his body was turned into dust.

Seventhly, It is an honorable union, yes, the highest honor that can be done unto men; the greatest honor that was ever done to our common nature, was by its assumption into union with the second person hypostatically, and the highest honor that was ever done to our single persons, was their union with Christ mystically. To be a servant of Christ is a dignity transcendent to the highest advancement among men; but to be a member of Christ, how matchless and singular is the glory thereof! And yet, such honor have all the saints, Ephesians 5:30. "We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones."

Eighthly, It is a most comfortable union: yes, the ground of all solid comfort, both in life and death. Whatever troubles, wants, or distresses befall such, in this is abundant relief and support, Christ is mine, and I am his; what may not a good soul make out of that! If I am Christ's, then let him take care for me, and, indeed, in so doing, he does but take care for his own. He is my head, and to him it belongs to consult the safety and welfare of his own members, Ephesians 1:22, 23. He is not only an head to his own, by way of influence, but to all things else, by way of dominion, for their good. How comfortably may we repose ourselves, under that cheering consideration, upon him at all times and in all difficult cases!

Ninthly, It is a fruitful union; the immediate end of it is fruit, Romans 7:4. "We are married to Christ, that we should bring forth fruit to God." All the fruit we bear before our ingrafting into Christ is worse than none; until the person be in Christ, the work cannot be evangelically good and acceptable to God: "We are made accepted in the Beloved," Ephesians 1:6. Christ is a fruitful root, and makes all the branches that live in him so too, John 15:8.

Tenthly, and lastly, It is an enriching union; for, by our union with his person, we are immediately interested in all his riches, 1 Corinthians 1:30. How rich and great a person do the little arms of faith clasp and embrace! "All is yours," 1 Corinthians 3:22. All that Christ has becomes ours, either by communication to us, or improvement for us: His Father, John 20:17. His promises, 2 Corinthians 1:20. His providences, Romans 8:28. His glory, John 17:24. It is all ours by virtue of our union with him.

Thus you see briefly what the mystical union is. Next we shall improve it.


Inference 1. If there be such a union between Christ and believers. Oh then what transcendent dignity has God put upon believers.

Well might Constantine prefer the honor of being a member of the church, before that of being head of the empire; for it is not only above all earthly dignities and honors, but, in some respect, above that honor which God has put upon the angels of glory.

Great is the dignity of the angelical nature: the angels are the highest and most honorable species of creatures; they also have the honor continually to behold the face of God in Heaven, and yet, in this one respect the saints are preferred to them, they have a mystical union with Christ, as their head of influence, by whom they are quickened with spiritual life, which the angels have not.

It is true, there is a gathering together of all in Heaven and earth under Christ as a common head, Ephesians 1:10. He is the Head of angels as well as saints, but in different respects. To angels he is an head of dominion and government, but to saints he is both an head of dominion, and of vital influence too; they are his chief and most honorable subjects, but not his mystical members: they are as the Barons and Nobles in his kingdom, but the saints as the dear Spouse and Wife of his bosom. This dignifies the believer above the greatest angel. And as the nobles of the kingdom think it a preferment and honor to serve the Queen, so the glorious angels think it no degradation or dishonor to them to serve the Saints; for to this honorable office they are appointed, Hebrews 1:14. to be ministering or serviceable spirits, for the good of them that shall be heirs of salvation. The chief servant disdains not to honor and serve the heir.

Some imperious grandees would frown, should some of these persons but presume to approach their presence; but God sets them before his face with delight, and angels delight to serve them.

Inference 2. If there be such a strict and inseparable union between Christ and believers, then the grace of believers can never totally fail; Immortality is the privilege of grace, because sanctified persons are inseparably united to Christ the Fountain of life: "Your life is hidden with Christ in God," Colossians 3:3. While the sap of life is in the root, the branches live by it. Thus it is between Christ and believers, John 14:19. "Because I live, you shall live also." See how Christ binds up their life in one bundle with his own, plainly intimating, that it is as impossible for them to die, as it is for himself; he cannot live without them.

True it is, the spiritual life of believers is encountered by many strong and fierce oppositions: It is also brought to a low ebb in some, but we are always to remember, that there are some things which pertain to the essence of that life, in which the very being of it lies, and some things that pertain only to its well-being. All those things which belong to the well being of the new-creature, as manifestations, joys, spiritual comforts, etc. may, for a time, fail, yes, and grace itself may suffer great losses and remissions in its degrees, notwithstanding our union with Christ; but still the essence of it is immortal, which is no small relief to gracious souls. When the means of grace fail, as it is threatened, Amos 8:11. when temporary formal professors drop away from Christ like withered leaves from the trees in a windy day, 2 Timothy 2:18. and when the natural union of their souls and bodies is suffering a dissolution from each other by death, when that silver cord is loosed, this golden chain holds firm, 1 Corinthians 3:23.

Inference 3. Is the union so intimate between Christ and believers? How great and powerful a motive then is this, to make us open-handed and liberal in relieving the necessities and wants of every gracious person! For in relieving them, we relieve Christ himself.

Christ personal is not the object of our pity and charity, he is at the fountain-head of all the riches in glory, Ephesians 4:10. but Christ mystical is exposed to necessities and wants, he feels hunger and thirst, cold and pains, in his body the church; and he is refreshed, relieved, and comforted, in their refreshments and comforts. Christ the Lord of Heaven and earth, in this consideration is sometimes in need of a penny; he tells us his wants and poverty, and how he is relieved, Matthew 25:35, 40. A text believed and understood by very few, "I was an hungered, and you gave me meat: I was thirsty, and you gave me drink: I was a stranger, and you took me in. Then shall the righteous answer, Lord, when saw we you an hungered, etc. And the King shall answer, and say unto them, truly I say unto you, in as much as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me."

It was the saying of a great divine, that he thought scarce any man on earth did fully understand and believe this truth, and he conceives so much hinted in the very text, where the righteous themselves reply, "Lord, when saw we you sick," etc. intimating in the question, that they did not thoroughly understand the nearness, yes, oneness of those persons with Christ, for whom they did these things. And, indeed, it is incredible that a Christian can be hard-hearted and close-handed to that necessitous Christian, in refreshing and relieving of whom, he truly believes, that he ministers refreshment to Christ himself.

O think again and again upon this scripture; consider what forcible and mighty arguments are here laid together, to engage relief to the wants of Christians.

Here you see their near relation to Christ; they are mystically one person; what you did to them, you did to me. Here you see also how kindly Christ takes it at our hands, acknowledging all those kindnesses that were bestowed upon him, even to a bit of bread: He is, you see, content to take it as a courtesy, who might demand it by authority, and bereave you of all immediately upon refusal.

Yes, here you see one single branch or act of obedience, (our charity to the saints) is singled out from among all the duties of obedience, and made the test and evidence of our sincerity in that great day, and men blessed or cursed according to the love they have manifested this way to the saints.

O then, let none that understand the relation the saints have to Christ, as the members to the head, or the relation they have to each other thereby, as fellow-members of the same body, from henceforth suffer Christ to hunger, if they have bread to relieve him, or Christ to be thirsty, if they have with which to refresh him: this union between Christ and the saints affords an argument beyond all other arguments in the world to prevail with us. Methinks, a little rhetoric might persuade a Christian to part with anything he has for Christ, who parted with the glory of Heaven, yes, and his own blood for his sake.

Inference 4. Do Christ and believers make but one mystical person? How unnatural and absurd then are all those acts of unkindness, whereby believers wound and grieve Jesus Christ! This is as if the hand should wound its own head, from which it receives life, sense, motion, and strength.

When Satan smites Christ by a wicked man, he then wounds him with the hand of an enemy; but when his temptations prevail upon the saints to sin, he wounds him as it were with his own hand: As the eagle and tree in the fable complained, the one that he was wounded by an arrow winged with his own feathers; the other, that it was cleaved asunder by a wedge hewn out of its own limbs.

Now the evil and disingenuity of such sins are to be measured not only by the near relation Christ sustains to believers as their Head; but more particularly from the several benefits they receive from him as such; for in wounding Christ by their sins,

FIRST, They wound their Head of influence, through whom they live, and without whom they had still remained in the state of sin and death, Ephesians 4:16. Shall Christ send life to us, and we return that which is death to him! O how absurd, how disingenuous is this!

SECONDLY, They wound their Head of government. Christ is a guiding, as well as a quickening Head, Colossians 1:18. He is your wisdom, he guides you by his counsels to glory: but must he be thus requited for all his faithful conduct! What do you, when you sin, but rebel against his government, refusing to follow his counsels, and obeying, in the mean time, a deceiver, rather than him.

THIRDLY, They wound their consulting Head, who cares, provides, and projects, for the welfare and safety of the body. Christians, you know your affairs below have not been steered and managed by your own wisdom, but that orders have been given from Heaven for your security and supply from day to day. "I know, O Lord, (says the prophet) that the way of man is not in himself, neither is it in him that walks to direct his own steps," Jeremiah 10:23.

It is true, Christ is out of your sight, and you see him not: but he sees you, and orders everything that concerns you. And is this a due requital of all that care he has taken for you? Do you thus requite the Lord for all his benefits? What recompense evil for good! O let shame cover you.

FOURTHLY, and lastly, They wound their Head of honor. Christ your Head is the fountain of honor to you: This is your glory that you are related to him as your head: You are, on this account, (as before was noted) exalted above angels.

Now then consider, how vile a thing it is to reflect the least dishonor upon him, from whom you derive all your glory. O consider and bewail it.

Inference 5. Is there so strict and intimate a relation and union between Christ and the saints? Then surely they can never want what is good for their souls or bodies.

Every one naturally cares and provides for his own, especially for his own body: yet we can more easily violate the law of nature, and be cruel to our own flesh, than Christ can be so to his mystical body. I know it is hard to rest upon, and rejoice in a promise, when necessities pinch, and we see not from whence relief should arise; but O! what sweet satisfaction and comfort might a necessitous believer find in these considerations, would he but keep them upon his heart in such a day of straits.

FIRST, Whatever my distresses are for quality, number, or degree, they are all known even to the least circumstance, by Christ my Head: He looks down from Heaven upon all my afflictions, and understands them more fully than I that feel them, Psalm 38:9. "Lord all my desire is before you, and my groaning is not hidden from you."

SECONDLY, He not only knows them, but feels them as well as knows them; "We have not an High-priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities," Hebrews 4:15. In all your afflictions he is afflicted; tender sympathy cannot but flow from such intimate union; therefore in Matthew 25:35. he says, I was an hungered, and I was athirst, and I was naked. For indeed his sympathy and tender compassion gave him as quick a resentment, and as tender a sense of their wants, as if they had been his own. Yes,

Thirdly, He not only knows and feels my wants, but has enough in his hand, and much more than enough to supply them all; for all things are delivered to him by the Father, Luke 10:22. All the storehouses in Heaven and earth are his, Philippians 4:19.

FOURTHLY, He bestows all earthly good things, even to superfluity and redundance upon his very enemies, "They have more than heart can wish," Psalm 73:7. He is bountiful to strangers; he loads very enemies with these things, and can it be supposed he will in the mean time starve his own, and neglect those whom he loves as his own flesh? It cannot be. Moreover,

FIFTHLY, Hitherto he has not suffered me to perish in any former straits; when, and where was it that he forsook me? This is not the first plunge of trouble I have been in; have I not found him a God at hand! How oft have I seen him in the mount of difficulties!

SIXTHLY, and lastly, I have his promise and engagement that he will never leave me nor forsake me, Hebrews 13:5. and John 14:18. a promise which has never failed since the hour it was first made. If then the Lord Jesus knows and feels all my wants, has enough, and more than enough to supply them, if he gives even to redundance unto his enemies, has not hitherto forsaken me, and has promised he never will? Why then is my soul thus disquieted in me! Surely there is no cause it should be so.

Inference 6. If the saints are so nearly united to Christ, as the members to the head: O then, how great a sin, and full of danger is it for any to wrong and persecute the saints! For in so doing, they must needs persecute Christ himself.

"Saul, Saul, (says Christ) why persecute you me?" Acts 9:4. The righteous God holds himself obliged to vindicate oppressed innocency, though it be in the persons of wicked men; how much more when it is in a member of Christ? "He who touches you touches the apple of mine eye," Zechariah 2:8. And is it to be imagined that Christ will sit still, and suffer his enemies to hurt or injure the very apples of his eyes? No, "He has ordained his arrows against the persecutors," Psalm 7:13.

O it were better your hand should wither, and your arm fall from your shoulder, than ever it should be lifted up against Christ, in the poorest of his members. Believe it, sirs, not only your violent actions, but your hard speeches are all set down upon your doom's-day book; and you shall be brought to an account for them in the great day, Jude 15. Beware what arrows you shoot, and be sure of your mark before you shoot them.

Inference 7. If there be such a union between Christ and the saints, as has been described, upon what comfortable terms then may believers part with their bodies at death?

Christ your Head is risen, therefore you cannot be lost: nay, he is not only risen from the dead himself, but is also "become the first-fruits of them that slept," 1 Corinthians 15:20. Believers are his members, his fullness, he cannot therefore be complete without you: a part of Christ cannot perish in the grave, much less burn in Hell. Remember, when you feel the natural union dissolving, that this mystical union can never be dissolved: the pangs of death cannot break this bond. And as there is a peculiar excellency in the believer's life, so there is a singular support, and peculiar comfort in his death; "To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain," Philippians 1:21.

Inference 8. If there be such a union between Christ and believers, How does it concern every man to try and examine his state, whether he is really united with Christ or not, by the natural and proper effects which always flow from this union? As,

FIRST, The real communication of Christ's holiness to the soul. We cannot be united with this root, and not partake of the vital sap of sanctification from him; all that are planted into him, are planted into the likeness of his death, and of his resurrection, Romans 6:5, 6. namely, by mortification and vivification.

SECONDLY, They that are so nearly united to him, as members to the head, cannot but love him and value him above their own lives; as we see in nature, the hand and arm will interpose to save the head. The nearer the union, the stronger always is the affection.

Thirdly, The members are subject to the head. Dominion in the head must needs infer subjection in the members, Ephesians 5:24. In vain do we claim union with Christ as our head, while we are governed by our own wills, and our lusts give us law.

FOURTHLY, All that are united to Christ do bear fruit to God, Romans 7:4. Fruitfulness is the next end of our union; there are no barren branches growing upon this fruitful root.

Inference 9. Lastly, How much are believers engaged to walk as the members of Christ, in the visible exercises of all those graces and duties, which the consideration of their near relation to him exacts from them. As,

FIRST, How contented and well pleased should we be with our outward lot, however providence has cast it for us in this world? O do not repine, God has dealt bountifully with you; upon others he has bestowed the good things of this world; upon you, himself in Christ.

SECONDLY, How humble and lowly in spirit should you be under your great advancement! It is true, God has magnified you greatly by this union, but yet do not swell. "You bear not the root, but the root you," Romans 11:18. You shine, but it is as the stars, with a borrowed light.

Thirdly, How zealous should you be to honor Christ, who has put so much honor upon! Be willing to give glory to Christ, though his glory should rise out of your shame. Never reckon that glory that goes to Christ, to be lost to you: when you lie at his feet, in the most particular heart-breaking confessions of sin, yet let this please you, that therein you have given him glory.

FOURTHLY, How exact and circumspect should you be in all your ways, remembering whose you are, and whom you represent! Shall it be said, that a member of Christ was convicted of unrighteousness and unholy actions! God forbid. "If we say, we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie," 1 John 1:6. "And he who says he abides in him, ought also himself to walk even as he also walked," 1 John 2:6.

FIFTHLY, How studious should you be of peace among yourselves, who are so nearly united to such a Head, and thereby are made fellow-members of the same body! The Heathen world was never acquainted with such an argument as the apostle urges for unity, in Ephesians 4:3, 4.

SIXTHLY, and lastly, How joyful and comfortable should you be, to whom Christ, with all his treasures and benefits, is effectually applied in this blessed union of your souls with him! This brings him into your possession: O how great! how glorious a person do these little weak arms of your faith embrace!

Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.




Of the Nature and Use of the Gospel-ministry, as an external Mean of applying CHRIST

2 CORINTHIANS 5:20, "Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be reconciled to God."

THE effectual application of Christ principally consists in our union with him; but, ordinarily, there can be no union without a gospel-tender, and an overture of him to our souls; for, "How shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? and how shall they preach, except they be sent?" Romans 10:14.

If God be upon a design of espousing poor sinners to his Son, there must be a treaty in order to it; that treaty requires interlocution between both the parties concerned in it; but such is our frailty, that, should God speak immediately to us himself, it would confound and overwhelm us: God therefore graciously condescends and accommodates himself to our infirmity, in treating with us in order to our union with Christ, by his ambassadors, and these not angels, whose converses we cannot bear, but men like ourselves, who are commissioned for the effecting of this great business between Christ and us. "Now then, we are ambassadors for God," etc. In which words you have,

FIRST, Christ's ambassadors commissioned.

SECONDLY, Their commission opened.

FIRST, Christ's ambassadors commissioned. "Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ." The Lord Jesus thought it not sufficient to print the law of grace and the blessed terms of our union with him in the scriptures, where men may read his willingness to receive them, and see the just and gracious terms and conditions upon which he offers to become theirs; but has also set up and established a standing office in the church, to expound that law, inculcate the precepts, and urge the promises thereof; to woo and espouse souls to Christ, "I have espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ," 2 Corinthians 11:20. and this not simply from their own affections and compassions to miserable sinners, but also by virtue of their office and commission, whereby they are authorised and appointed to that work. "We then are ambassadors for Christ."

SECONDLY, Their commission opened: Wherein we find,

1. Their work appointed,

2. Their capacity described,

3. And the manner of their acting in that capacity prescribed.

FIRST, The work whereunto the ministers of the gospel are appointed, is to reconcile the world to God; to work these sinful, vain, rebellious hearts, which have a strong aversion from God naturally in them, to close with him according to the articles of peace contained in the gospel, that thereby they may be capable to receive the mercies and benefits purchased by the death of Christ, which they cannot receive in the state of enmity and alienation.

SECONDLY, Their capacity described: They act in Christ's stead, as his viceregents. He is no more in this world to treat personally with sinners, as he once did in the days of his flesh; but yet he still continues the treaty with this lower world, by his officers, requiring men to look upon them, and obey them as they would himself, if he were corporeally present, Luke 10:16. "He who hears you, hears me; and he who despises you, despises me."

THIRDLY, The manner of their acting in that capacity prescribed; and that is, by humble, sweet, and condescending entreaties and beseechings. This best suits the meek and lamb-like Savior whom they represent: thus he dealt with poor sinners himself, when he conversed among them; he "would not break a bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax," Isaiah 42:3. This is the way to allure and win the souls of sinners to Christ.

From hence the note is,

DOCTRINE: That the preaching of the gospel by Christ's ambassadors, is the mean appointed for the reconciling and bringing home of sinners to Christ.

This is clear from Romans 10:14. 1 Corinthians 1:21. and many other scriptures.

Here we shall take into consideration these three things.

FIRST, What is implied in Christ's treating with sinners by his ambassadors or ministers.

SECONDLY, What is the great concernment they are to treat with sinners about.

THIRDLY, What, and when is the efficacy of preaching, to bring sinners to Christ.

FIRST, We will open what is implied and imported in Christ's treaty with sinners, by his ambassadors or ministers.

And here we find these six things implied.

1. It necessarily implies the defection and fall of man, from his estate of favor and friendship with God: If no war with Heaven, what need of ambassadors of peace? The very office of the ministry is an argument of the fall. Gospel-ordinances and officers came in upon the fall, and expire with the Mediator's dispensatory-kingdom, 1 Corinthians 15:24, 25. "Then shall he deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father:" Thenceforth no more ordinances, no more ministers; What use can there be of them, when the treaty is ended? They have done and accomplished all they were ever intended and designed for, when they shall have reconciled to God all the number of his elect, that are dispersed among the lost and miserable posterity of Adam, and have brought them home to Christ in a perfect state, Ephesians 4:12, etc.

2. It implies the singular grace and admirable condescension of God to sinful man. That God will admit any treaty with him at all, is wonderful mercy, it is more than he would do for the angels that fell, Jude, verse 6. "They are reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day." Christ took not on him their nature, but suffered myriads of them to perish, and fills up their vacant places in glory, with a number of sinful men and women, to whom the law awarded the same punishment.

But that God will not only treat, but entreat and beseech sinful men to be reconciled, is yet more wonderful. Barely to propound the terms of peace had been an astonishing mercy; but to woo and beseech stubborn enemies to be at peace, and accept their pardon, oh, how unparalleled was this condescension.

3. It implies the great dignity and honor of the gospel-ministry. We are ambassadors for Christ? Ambassadors represent and personate the prince that sends them; and the honors or contempts done to them, reflect upon, and are reckoned to the person of their master, Luke 10:16. "He who hears you, hears me; and he who despises you, despises me."

Neither their persons, nor parts, are the proper ground and reason of our respects to them; but their office and commission from Jesus Christ.

We are fallen into the dregs of time, wherein a vile contempt is poured, not only upon the persons, but the very office of the ministry; and I could heartily wish that scripture, Malachi 2:7, 8, 9. were thoroughly considered by us; possibly it might inform us of the true cause and reason of this sore judgment: but surely Christ's faithful ministers deserve a better entertainment than they ordinarily find in the world; and if we did but seriously bethink ourselves, in whose name they come, and in whose stead they stand, we should receive them as the Galatians did Paul, Galatians 4:14. as angels of God, even as Christ Jesus.

4. Christ's treating with sinners by his ministers, who are his ambassadors, implies the strict obligation they are under to be faithful in their ministerial employment. Christ counts upon their faithfulness whom he puts into the ministry, 1 Timothy 1:12. They are accountable to him for all acts of their office, Hebrews 13:17. If they be silent, they cannot be innocent: "Necessity is laid upon them, and woe to them, if they preach not the gospel," 1 Corinthians 9:16.

Yes, necessity is not only laid upon them to preach, but to keep close to their commission in preaching the gospel, 1 Thessalonians 2:3, 4, 5. "Our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of impurity, nor in deceit, but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tries our hearts:" the word is not to be corrupted to please men, 2 Corinthians 2:17. their business is not to make them their disciples, but Christ's; not to seek theirs, but them, 2 Corinthians 12:14. to keep close to their instructions, both in the matter, manner, and end of their ministry. So did Christ himself, the treasure of wisdom and knowledge; yet, being sent by God, he says, John 7:16. "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." And so he expects and requires that his ambassadors keep close to the commission he has given them, and be (according to their measure) faithful to their trust, as he was to his. Paul is to deliver to the people, that which he also received from the Lord, 1 Corinthians 11. And Timothy must keep that which was committed to him, 2 Timothy 1:14.

5. It implies the removal of the gospel-ministry to be a very great judgment to the people. The remanding of ambassadors presages an ensuing war. If the reconciling of souls to God be the greatest work, then the removal of the means and instruments thereof, must be the sorest judgment. Some account "the falling of the salt upon the table," ominous; but surely the falling of them whom Christ calls the salt of the earth, is so indeed.

What now are those once famous and renowned places, from whence Christ, (as he threatened) has removed the candlestick, but dens of robbers, and mountains of prey!

6. And lastly, It implies both the wisdom and condescension of God to sinful men, in carrying on a treaty of peace with them by such ambassadors, negotiating between him and them. Without a treaty, there would be no reconciliation; and no method to carry on such a treaty like this; for had the Lord treated with sinners personally, and immediately, they had been overwhelmed with his awful Majesty. The appearances of God confound the creature, "Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, (says Israel) neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not: Yes, so terrible was that sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake," Deuteronomy 18:16. Hebrews 12:21.

Or, had he commissioned angels for this employment, though they stand not at such an infinite distance from us as God does, yet such is the excellence of their glory (being the highest species and order of creatures) that their appearances would be more apt to astonish than persuade us; besides, they being creatures of another rank and kind, and not partaking with us, either in the misery of the fall, or benefit of the recovery by Christ, it is not to be supposed they should speak to us so feelingly and experimentally, as these his ministers do; they can open to you the mysteries of sin, feeling the workings thereof daily in their own hearts; they can discover to you the conflicts of the flesh and Spirit, as being daily exercised in that warfare; and then, being men of the same mold and temper, they can say to you as Elihu did to Job, chap, 33:6, 7. "Behold, I am according to your wish, in God's stead, I also am formed out of the clay; behold, my terror shall not make you afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon you."

So that, in this appointment, much of the Divine wisdom and condescension to sinners is manifested: "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us," 2 Corinthians 4:7. God's glory and man's advantage are both promoted by this dispensation.

SECONDLY, Next we are to consider that great concernment about which these ambassadors of Christ are to treat with sinners; and that (as the text informs us) is their reconciliation to God.

Now reconciliation with God, is the restoring of men to that former friendship they had with God, which was broken by the fall, and is still continued by our enmity and aversion while we continue in our natural and unregenerate state. Now this is the greatest and most blessed design that ever God had in the world; an astonishing and invaluable mercy to men, as will clearly appear, by considering these particulars following.

FIRST, That God should be reconciled after such a dreadful breach as the fall of man made, is wonderful; no sin, all things considered, was ever like to this sin: other sins, like a single bullet, kill particular persons, but this, like a chain-shot, cuts off multitudes as the sand upon the sea-shore, which no man can number.

If all the posterity of Adam in their several generations, should do nothing else but bewail and lament this sin of his, while this world continues, yet would it not be enough lamented; for a man so newly created out of nothing, and admitted the first moment into the highest order, crowned a king over the works of God's hands, Psalm 8:5. a man perfect and upright, without the least inordinate motion, or sinful inclination: a man whose mind was most clear, bright, and apprehensive of the will of God, whose will was free, and able to have easily put by the strongest temptation: a man in a paradise of delights, where nothing was left to desire for advancing the happiness of soul or body: a man understanding himself to be a public person, carrying not only his own, but the happiness of the whole world in his hand: so soon, upon so slight a temptation, to violate the law of his God, and involve himself and all his posterity with him, in such a gulf of guilt and misery; all which he might so easily have prevented! O wonderful amazing mercy, that ever God should think of being reconciled, or have any purposes of peace towards so vile an apostate creature as man.

SECONDLY, That God should be reconciled to men, and not to angels, a more high and excellent order of creatures, is yet more astonishing; when the angels fell they were lost irrecoverably; no hand of mercy was stretched out to save one of those myriads of excellent beings, but chains of darkness were immediately clapped on them, to reserve them to the judgment of the great day, Jude 6.

That the milder attribute should be exercised to the inferior, and the severer attribute to the more excellent creature, is just matter for eternal admiration. Who would cast away vessels of gold, and save earthen potsherds! Some indeed undertake to show us the reasons, why the wisdom of God made no provision for the recovery of angels by a Mediator of reconciliation; partly from the high degree of the malignity of their sin, who sinned in the light of Heaven; partly because it was decent, that the first breach of the Divine law should be punished, to secure obedience for the future. And besides, the angelical nature was not entirely lost, myriads of angels still continuing in their innocency and glory; when as all mankind was lost in Adam.

But we must remember still the law made no distinction, but awarded the same punishment, and therefore it was mercy alone that made the difference, and mercy forever is to be admired by men; how astonishing is the grace of God, that moves in a way of reconciliation to us, out of design to fill up the vacant places in Heaven, from which angels fell, with such poor worms as we are! Angels excluded, and men received. O stupendous mercy!

THIRDLY, That God should be wholly and thoroughly reconciled to man, so that no fury remains in him against us; according to that scripture, Isaiah 27:4. is still matter of further wonder.

The design he sends his ambassadors to you about, is not the allaying and mitigating of his wrath, (which yet would be matter of great joy to the damned) but thoroughly to quench all his wrath, so that no degree thereof shall ever be felt by you. O blessed embassy? "Beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that bring such tidings." God offers you a full reconciliation, a plenary remission.

FOURTHLY, That God should be freely reconciled to sinners, and discharge them without any, the least satisfaction to his justice from them is, and forever will be, marvelous in their eyes.

O what mercy would the damned account it, if after a thousand years torment in Hell, God would at last be reconciled to them, and put an end to their misery! But believers are discharged without bearing any part of the curse, not one farthing of that debt is levied upon them.

Objection: If you say, how can this be, when God stands upon full satisfaction to his justice before any soul be discharged and restored to favor? freely reconciled, and yet fully satisfied, how can this be?

Solution: Very well, for this mercy comes freely to your hands, how costly soever it proved to Christ; and that free remission, and full satisfaction, are not contradictory and inconsistent things, is plain enough from that scripture, Romans 3:24. "Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:" freely, and yet in the way of redemption.

For though Christ, your Surety, has made satisfaction in your name and stead, yet it was his life, his blood, and not yours, that went for it, and this Surety was of God's own appointment, and providing, without your thoughts or contrivance. O blessed reconciliation! happy is the people that hear the joyful sound of it.

FIFTHLY, and lastly, that God should be finally reconciled to sinners, so that never any new breach shall happen between him and them any more, so as to dissolve the league of friendship, is a most ravishing and transporting message.

Two things give confirmation and full security to reconciled ones, namely, the terms of the covenant, and the intercession of the Mediator.

The covenant of grace gives great security to believers, against new breaches between God and them. It is said, Jeremiah 32:40. "And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good, but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." The fear of the Lord is a choice preservative against second revolts, and therefore taken into the covenant. It is no hindrance, but a special guard to assurance.

There is no doubt of God's faithfulness: that part of the promise is easily believed, that he will not turn away from us to do us good: all the doubt is of the inconstancy of our hearts with God, and against that danger, this promise makes provision.

Moreover, the intercession of Christ in Heaven secures the saints in their reconciled state, 1 John 2:1, 2. "If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the Atoning sacrifice ." He continually appears in Heaven before the Father, "as a lamb that had been slain," Revelation 5:6. And as the bow in the clouds, Revelation 4:3. So that as long as Christ thus appears in the presence of God for us, it is not possible our state of justification and reconciliation can be again dissolved.

And this is that blessed embassy gospel-ministers are employed about; he has committed to them the word of this reconciliation.

In the last place, we are to inquire what, and whence is this efficacy of preaching, to reconcile and bring home sinners to Christ.

That its efficacy is great in convincing, humbling, and changing the hearts of men, is past all debate and question. "The weapons of our warfare (says the apostle) are not carnal, but mighty through God, to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ," 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5. No heart so hard, no conscience so stupid, but this sword can pierce and wound; in an instant it can cast down all those vain reasonings and fond imaginations, which the carnal heart has been building all its life long, and open a fair passage for convictions of sin, and the fears and terrors of wrath to come, into that heart that never was afraid of these things before. So Acts 2:37. "When they heard this, they were pricked to the heart, and said unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?"

What shall we do? is the doleful cry of men at their wits end; the voice of one in deepest distress: and such outcries have been no rarities under the preaching of the word; its power has been felt by persons of all orders and conditions; the great and honorable of the earth, as well as the poor and despicable. The learned and the ignorant, the civil and profane, the young and the old, all have felt the heart-piercing efficacy of the gospel.

If you ask, whence has the word preached this mighty power? The answer must be, neither from itself nor him that preaches it, but from the Spirit of God whose instrument it is, by whose blessing and concurrence with it, it produces its blessed effects upon the hearts of men.

FIRST, This efficacy and wonderful power is not from the word itself; take it in an abstract notion, separated from the Spirit, it can do nothing: it is called "the foolishness of preaching," 1 Corinthians 1:21. Foolishness, not only because the world so accounts it, but because in itself it is a weak and unsuitable, and therefore a very improbable way to reconcile the world to God; that the stony heart of one man should be broken by the words of another man; that one poor sinful creature should be used to breathe spiritual life into another; this could never be, if this sword were not managed by an omnipotent hand.

And besides, we know what works naturally, works necessarily; if this efficacy were inherent in the word, so that we should suppose it to work as other natural objects do, then it must needs convert all to whom it is at any time preached, except its effect were miraculously hindered, as the fire when it could not burn the three children; but alas, thousands hear it, that never feel the saving power of it, Isaiah 53:1. and 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4.

SECONDLY, It derives not this efficacy from the instrument by which it is ministered: let their gifts and abilities be what they will, it is impossible that ever such effects should be produced from the strength of their natural or gracious abilities, 2 Corinthians 4:7. "We have this treasure (says the apostle) in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."

The treasure of the gospel-light is carried in earthen vessels, as Gideon and his men had their lamps in earthen pitchers, or in oyster-shells, for so the word also signifies; the oyster-shell is a base and worthless thing in itself; however, there lies the rich and precious pearl of so great value. And why is this precious treasure lodged in such weak, worthless vessels? Surely it is upon no other design but to convince us of the truth I am here to prove, that the excellency of the power is of God, and not of us; as it follows in the next words. To the same purpose speaks the same apostle, 1 Corinthians 3:7. "So then, neither is he who plants anything, neither he who waters; but God that gives the increase."

Not anything! What can be more diminutively spoken of the gospel-preachers? But we must not understand these words in a simple and absolute, but in a comparative and relative sense; not as if they were not necessary and useful in their place, but that how necessary soever they be, and what excellent gifts soever God has furnished them with; yet it is neither in their power nor choice to make the word they preach effectual to men; if it were, then the damnation of all that hear us must needs lie at our door; then also, many thousands would have been reconciled to God, which are yet in the state of enmity, but the effect of the gospel is not in our power.

THIRDLY, But whatever efficacy it has to reconcile men to God, it derives from the Spirit of God, whose cooperation and blessing (which is arbitrarily dispensed) gives it all the fruit it has.

Ministers, says one, are like trumpets which make no sound, if breath be not breathed into them. Or like Ezekiel's wheels, which move not unless the Spirit move them; or Elisha's servant, whose presence does no good except Elisha's spirit be there also. For want of the Spirit of God how many thousands of souls do find the ministry to be nothing to them? If it be something to the purpose to any soul, it is the Lord that makes it so. This Spirit is not limited by men's gifts or parts; he concurs not only with their labors who have excellent gifts, but oftentimes blesses mean, despicable gifts with far greater success.

Suppose, says Augustine, there be two conduits in a town, one very plain and homely, the other built of polished marble, and adorned with excellent images, as eagles, lions, angels; the water refreshes as its water, and not as it comes from such or such a conduit. It is the Spirit that gives the word all that virtue it has: he is the Lord of all saving influences: he has dominion over the word, over our souls, over the times and seasons of conversion; and if any poor creature attend the ministry without benefit, if he go away as he came, without fruit, surely we may say in this case, as Martha said to Christ, in reference to her brother Lazarus, Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died; so, Lord, if you had been in this prayer, in this sermon, this poor soul had not gone dead and carnal from under it. And what now remains, but that we apply this truth in those uses that it gives us.


FIRST use of information

Is the preaching of the gospel by Christ's ambassadors, the way which God takes to reconcile sinners to himself? Then how inexcusable are all those that continue in their state of enmity, though the ambassadors of peace have been with them all their lives long, wooing and beseeching them to be reconciled to God?

O invincible, obstinate, incurable disease, which is aggravated by the only proper remedy! Has God been wooing and beseeching you by his ambassadors so many years to be reconciled to him, and will you not yield to any entreaties? Must he be made to speak in vain, to charm the deaf adder? Well, when the milder attribute has done with you, the severer attribute will take you in hand.

The Lord has kept an account of every year and day of his patience towards you, Luke 13:7. "These three years I came seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none;" and Jeremiah 25:3. "These three and twenty years have I spoken unto you, rising early and speaking, but you have not hearkened."

Well, be assured, that God has both the glass of your time, and the vials of his wrath, by him? and so much of his abused patience as runs out of one, so much of his incensed wrath runs into the other. There is a time when this treaty of peace will end, when the Master of the house will rise up, and the doors be shut, Luke 13:25. Then will you be left without hope, and without apology.

We read, indeed, of some poor and ineffectual pleas that will be made by some at the last day; so Matthew 7:22. "We have prophesied in your name," etc. These pleas will not avail; but as for you, what will you plead? Possibly many thousand idiots, or poor weak-headed persons, may perish; many young ones that had little or no time in the world to acquaint themselves with matters of religion, or understand the way of salvation. Many millions of Heathens that never heard the name of Christ, nor came within the sound of salvation, who will yet perish, and that justly.

Now whatever apologies any of these will make for themselves in the last day, to be sure you can make none. God has given you a capacity and competent understanding; many of you are wise and subtle in all your other concernments, and only show your folly in the great concernments of your salvation. You cannot plead want of time, some of you are grown grey-headed under the gospel; you cannot plead want of means and opportunities, the ordinances and ministers of Christ have been with you all your life long to this day; sure if you be Christless now, you must also be speechless then.

Inference 2. Hence it also follows, That the world owes better entertainment than it gives to the ministers of Christ: Christ's ambassadors deserve a better welcome than they find among men.

Your respects to them is founded upon their office and employment for you, Hebrews 13:17. and 1 Thessalonians 5:12. They watch for your souls, dare any of you watch for their ruin? They bring glad tidings, shall they return with sad tidings to him that sent them? They publish peace, shall they be rewarded with trouble? O ungrateful world! We read in Ephesians 6:20. of an ambassador in bonds, and he no ordinary one neither. We read also of a strange challenge, made by another at his own death, Acts 7:52. "Which of all the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which showed before the coming of the just One." Some that brake the bread of life to you, might want bread to eat, for any regard you have to them. The office of the ministry speaks the abundant love of God to you; your contempt and abuse of it, speaks the abundant stupidity and malignity of your hearts towards God. What a sad protestation does Jeremiah make against his ungrateful people, Jeremiah 18:20. "Shall evil (says he) be recompensed for good? for they have dug a pit for my soul; remember that I stood before you to speak good for them, and to turn away your wrath from them."

God's mercy is eminently discovered in the institution of, and Satan's malice is eminently discovered in the opposition to, the ministerial office. Satan is a great and jealous prince, and it is no wonder he should raise all the forces he can to oppose the ambassadors of Christ; when, says one, the gospel comes into his dominions, it does, as it were, by sound of trumpet and beat of drum, proclaim liberty to all his slaves and vassals, if they will quit that tyrant that has so long held their souls in bondage, and come under the sweet and easy government of Christ. And can the devil endure this, think you? If Christ sends forth ambassadors, no wonder if Satan sends forth opposers; he certainly owes them a spite, that undermine his government in the world.

Inference 3. Hence it follows, That it nearly concerns all Christ's ambassadors, to see that they be in a state of reconciliation with God themselves.

Shall we stand in Christ's stead by office, and yet not be in Christ by union? Shall we entreat men to be reconciled to God, and yet be at enmity with him ourselves? O let us take heed, "Lest after we have preached to others, we ourselves should be cast-a-ways," 1 Corinthians 9:27. Of all men living we are the most miserable, if we be Christless and graceless: our consciences will make more terrible applications of our doctrine to us in Hell, than ever we made to the vilest of sinners on earth. O, it is far easier to study and press a thousand truths upon others, than to feel the power of one truth upon our own hearts; to teach others duties to be done, than duties by doing them.

They are sad dilemma's with which a learned writer poses such graceless ministers; If sin be evil, why do you live in it? If it be not, why do you dissuade men from it? If it be dangerous, how dare you venture on it? If it be not, why do you tell men so? If God's threatenings be true, why do you not fear them? If they be false, why do you trouble men needlessly with them, and put them into such frights without a cause?

Take heed to yourselves, lest you should cry down sin and not overcome it; lest while you seek to bring it down in others, you bow to it, and become its slaves yourselves: it is easier to chide at sin than to overcome it. That is a smart question, Romans 2:21. "You that teach another, teach you not yourself? A profane minister was converted by reading that text once, but how many have read it as well as he, who never trembled at the consideration of it as he did!


2. USE for conviction

Is this the method God uses to reconcile men to himself; O, then examine yourselves, whether yet the preaching of the gospel has reconciled you to God. It is too manifest that many among us are in a state of enmity unto this day. We may say with the prophet, Isaiah 53:1. "Who has believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" We offer you peace upon gospel-terms and articles, but our peace returns to us again; enemies you were to God, and enemies you still continue. The evidence is undeniable: for,


1. Evidence. Many of you were never convinced to this day of your state of enmity against God; and without conviction of this, reconciliation is impossible; without repentance there can be no reconciliation, and without conviction there can be no repentance. When we repent, we lay down our weapons, Isaiah 27:4, 5. But how few have been brought to this? Alas! if a few poor, cold, heartless, ineffectual confessions of sin, may pass for a due conviction, and serious repentance, then have we been convinced, then have we repented; but you will find, if ever the Lord intend to reconcile you to himself, your convictions and humiliations for sin, will be other manner of things; and will cost you more than a few cheap words against sin, 2 Corinthians 7:11. "In that you sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yes, what clearing of yourselves, yes, what indignation, yes, what fear, yes, what vehement desire, yes, what zeal, yes, what revenge?

2. Evidence. Many of us never treated seriously with the Lord about peace, and how then are we reconciled to him? What, a peace without a treaty? Reconciliation without any consideration about it? It can never be. When was the time, and where was the place, that you were found in secret upon your knees, mourning over the sin of your nature, and the evils of your ways? Certainly you must be brought to this; you must with a broken heart bewail your sin and misery.

Friend, that stony heart of your must feel remorse and anguish for sin, it will cost you some sad days and sorrowful nights, or ever you can have peace with God: it will cost you many a groan, many a tear, many a hearty cry to Heaven. If ever peace be made between God and you, you must "take with you words, and turn to the Lord, saying, Take away all iniquity and receive me graciously." O for one smile, one token of love, one hint of favor! The child of peace is not born without pangs and agonies of soul.

3. Evidence. Many of us are not reconciled to the duties of religion, and ways of holiness, and how then is it possible we should be reconciled to God? What, reconciled to God, and unreconciled to the ways of God? By reconciliation we are made near: in duties of communion we draw near; and can we be made near to God, and have no heart to draw near to God? It can never be.

Examine your hearts, and say, Is not the way of strictness a bondage to you? Had you not rather be at liberty to fulfill the desires of the flesh, and of the mind? Could you not wish that the scriptures had not made some things else your sins, and other things your duties: do you delight in the law of God after the inner man, and esteem his judgments, concerning all things to be right? Do you love secret prayer, and delight in duties of communion with God: or rather, are they not an ungrateful burden, and irksome imposition? Give conscience leave to speak plain.

4. Evidence. Many of us are not enemies to sin, and how then are we reconciled to God? What, friends with God, and our lusts too? It cannot be. Psalm 97:10. "You that love the Lord hate evil." The same hour our reconciliation is made with God, there is an everlasting breach made with sin: this is one of the articles or conditions of our peace with God, Isaiah 55:7. "Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon."

But it is manifest in many of us, that we are no enemies to sin; we secretly indulge it, what bad names soever we call it. We will commit ten sins to cover one: we cannot endure the most serious, faithful, seasonable, private tender, and necessary reproofs for sin, but our hearts swell and rise at it; sure we are not reconciled to God, while we embrace his enemy in our bosoms.

5. Evidence. We love not the children of God, nor are we reconciled to them that bear his image, and how then can we be reconciled to God? 1 John 5:1. "He who loves him that begat, loves them also that are begotten." What, at peace with the Father, and at war with the children? It cannot be. Do not some that hope they have made their peace with God, hate, revile, and persecute the children of God? Surely, in that day we are reconciled to the Lord, we are reconciled to all his people: we all then love a Christian as a Christian, and by this we may know that we are passed from death to life.

6. Evidence. Lastly, How can any man think himself to be reconciled to God, who never closed heartily with Jesus Christ by faith, who is the only days-man, and peace-maker: the alone Mediator of reconciliation between God and man.

This is a sure truth, that all whom God accepts into favor, are "made accepted in the beloved," Ephesians 1:6. If any man will make peace with God, he must take hold of his strength, accept and close with Christ who is the power of God, or he can never make peace, Isaiah 27. He must be made "near by the blood of Christ," Ephesians 2:13. But alas! both Christ and faith are strangers to many souls, who yet persuade themselves they are at peace with God: O fatal mistake!


III. USE of Exhortation

Lastly, This point deserves a close, vigorous application in a threefold exhortation.

FIRST, To Christ's ambassadors, who treat with souls in order to their reconciliation with God.

SECONDLY, To those that are yet in their empty and unreconciled state.

THIRDLY, To those that have embraced the terms of peace, and submitted to the gospel-overtures.

FIRST, To the ambassadors of reconciliation. God has put a great deal of honor upon you in this high and noble employment; great is the dignity of your office; to some you are "the savor of death unto death, and to others a savor of life unto life; and who is sufficient for these things?" 2 Corinthians 2:16. But yet the duty is no less than the dignity. O what manner of men should we be for judgment, seriousness, affections, patience, and exemplary holiness, to whom the management of so great a concern between God and man is committed.

FIRST, For judgment and prudence, how necessary are these in so weighty and difficult a business as this! He had need be a man of wisdom that is to inform the ignorant of the nature and necessity of this great work, and win over their hearts to consent to the articles of peace propounded in the gospel; that has so many subtle temptations to answer, and so many intricate causes of conscience to resolve: there are many strong holds of Satan to be battered, and many stout and obstinate resistances made by the hearts of sinners, which must be overcome; and he had need be no novice in religion, to whom so difficult a province is committed.

SECONDLY, Let us be serious in our work as well as judicious. Remember, O you ambassadors of Christ, you bring a message from the God of Heaven, of everlasting consequence to the souls of men. The eternal decrees are executed upon them in your ministry: to some you are "the savor of life unto life, and to some the savor of death unto death," 2 Corinthians 2:16. Heaven and Hell are matters of most awful and solemn consideration. O, what an account have we also shortly to give unto him that sent us!

These are matters of such deep concernment, as should swallow up our very spirits; the least they can do, is to compose our hearts unto seriousness in the management of them.

THIRDLY, Be filled with tender affections toward the souls of men, with whom you treat for reconciliation: you had need be men of affections, as well as men of brains: you see a multitude of poor souls upon the brink of eternal misery, and they know it not, but promise themselves peace, and fill themselves with vain hopes of Heaven: and is there a more moving, melting spectacle in the world than this! O think with what affections of commiseration Moses and Paul were filled, when the one desired rather to be blotted out of God's book, and the other to be accursed from Christ, than that Israel should not be saved, Exodus 32:33. and Romans 9:3. Think how the affections of Christ yearned over Jerusalem, Matthew 23:37. And over the multitude, Matthew 9:36. "Let the same mind be in you, which also was in Christ Jesus."

FOURTHLY, Be patient and long-suffering towards sinners: such is the value of one soul, that it is worth waiting all our days to save it at last: "The servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing them that oppose themselves, if God perhaps will give them repentance," 2 Timothy 2:24, 25. The Lord waits with patience upon sinners, and well may you. Consider yourselves, how long was God treating with you, before you were won to him? Be not discouraged, if your success presently answer not your expectation.

FIFTHLY, and lastly, Be sure to back your exhortations with drawing examples; else you may preach out your last breath before you gain one soul to God. The devil, and the carnal hearts of your hearers, will put hindrances enough in the way of your labors; do not you put the greatest of all yourselves. O study not only to preach exactly, but to live exactly; let the misplacing of one action in your lives, trouble you more than the misplacing of words in your discourses; this is the way to succeed in your embassy, and give up your account with joy.

SECONDLY, The exhortation speaks to all those that are yet in a state of enmity and unreconciled to God unto this day. O that my words might prevail, and that you would now be entreated to be reconciled to God! The ambassadors of peace are yet with you, the treaty is not yet ended, the Master of the house is not yet risen up, nor the door of mercy and hope finally shut: hitherto God has waited to be gracious; O that the long-suffering of God might be your salvation: a day is hastening when God will treat with you no more, when a gulf shall be fixed between him and you forever, Luke 16:26. O what will you do when the season of mercy, and all hopes of mercy shall end together! When God shall become inaccessible, inexorable, and irreconcilable to you for evermore.

O, what will you do, when you shall find yourself shut up under eternal wrath! when you shall feel that misery you are warned of! Is this the place where I must be! Are these the torments I must endure! What, forever! yes, forever: Will not God be satisfied with the sufferings of a thousand years? no, nor millions of years? Ah, sinners, did you but clearly see the present and future misery of unreconciled ones, and what that wrath of the great and terrible God is, which is coming as fast as the wings of time can bring it upon you, it would certainly drive you to Christ, or drive you out of your wits. O it is a dreadful thing to have God for your eternal enemy: to have the great and terrible God causing his infinite power to avenge the abuse of his grace and mercy.

Believe it, friends, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God: knowing the terrors of the Lord we persuade men: an eternal weight hangs upon an inch of time. O that you did but know the time of your visitation! that you would not dare to adventure, and run the hazard of one day more in an unreconciled state.

THIRDLY, and lastly, This point speaks to those who have believed our report, who have taken hold of God's strength, and made peace with him: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy: who once were afar off, but now are made near by the blood of Christ: with you I would leave a few words of exhortation, and I have done.

FIRST, Admire and stand amazed at this mercy. "I will praise you, O Lord, (says the church, Isaiah 12:1.) Though you were angry with me, your anger is turned away, and you comfort me." O how overwhelming a mercy is here before you! God is at peace, at peace with you that were "enemies in your minds by wicked works," Colossians 1:21. At peace with you, and at enmity with millions as good by nature as you; at peace with you that sought it not: at peace forever; no dissolving this friendship for evermore. O let this consideration melt your hearts before the Lord, and make you cry, What am I, Lord, that mercy should take in me, and shut out fallen angels, and millions of men and women as capable of mercy as myself! O the riches! O the depths of the mercy and goodness of God!

SECONDLY, Beware of new breaches with God: God will speak "peace to his people and to his saints, but let them not turn again to folly, Psalm 85:8. What though this state of friendship can never be dissolved, yet it is a dreadful thing to have it clouded: You may lose the sense of peace, and with it all the joy of your hearts, and the comforts of your lives in this world.

THIRDLY, Labor to reconcile others to God: especially those that are endeared to you by the bonds of natural religion: When Paul was reconciled to God himself, his heart was full of heaviness for others that were not reconciled; for his "brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh," Romans 9:2, 3. When Abraham was become God's friend himself, then, "O that Ishmael might live before you!" Genesis 17:18.

FOURTHLY, and lastly, "Let your reconciliation with God relieve you under all burdens of affliction you shall meet with in your way to Heaven:" Let them that are at enmity with God droop under crosses and afflictions; but do not you do so. Romans 5:1, 2, 3. Let the peace of God keep your hearts and minds. As nothing can comfort a man that must go to Hell at last; so nothing should deject a man that shall, through many troubles, at last reach Heaven.




Concerning the work of the Spirit, as the internal, and most effectual Mean of the Application of CHRIST

John 6:44, "No man can come to me, except the Father, which has sent me, draw him."

OUR last discourse informed you of the usefulness and influence of the preaching of the gospel, in order to the application of Christ to the souls of men. There must be (in God's ordinary way) the external ministerial offer of Christ, before men can have union with him.

But yet, all the preaching in the world can never effect this union with Christ in itself, and in its own virtue, except a supernatural and mighty power go forth with it for that end and purpose. Let Boanerges and Barnabas try their strength, let the angels of Heaven be the preachers; until God draw, the soul cannot come to Christ.

No saving benefit is to be had by Christ, without union with his person, no union with his person without faith, no faith ordinarily wrought without the preaching of the gospel by Christ's ambassadors, their preaching has no saving efficacy without God's drawings, as will evidently appear by considering these words and the occasion of them.

The occasion of these words is found (as learned Cameron well observes) in the 42d verse, "And they said, is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?" Christ had been pressing upon them in his ministry, the great and necessary duty of faith; but notwithstanding the authority of the preacher; the holiness of his life; the miracles by which he confirmed his doctrine; they still objected against him, "is not this the carpenter's son?" From whence Christ takes occasion for these words; "No man can come unto me, except my Father which has sent me, draw him," q. d. In vain is the authority of my person urged; in vain are all the miracles wrought in your sight, to confirm the doctrine preached to you; until that secret, almighty power of the Spirit be put forth upon your hearts, you will not, you cannot, come unto me.

The words are a negative proposition,

In which the author, and powerful manner of divine operation in working faith, are contained: there must be drawing before believing, and that drawing must be the drawing of God: every word has its weight: we will consider them in the order they lie in the text.

No Man—not one, let his natural qualifications be what they will, let his external advantages, in respect of means and helps, be never so great: it is not in the power of any man; all persons, in all ages, need the same power of God, one as well as another; every man is alike dead, impotent, and averse to faith in his natural capacity. No man, or—not one, among all the sons of men.

Can—or is able: he speaks of impotency to special and saving actions, such as believing in Christ is: no act that is saving can be done without the concurrence of special grace. Other acts that have a remote tendency to it, are performed by a more general concourse and common assistance; so men may come to the word, and attend to what is spoken, remember and consider what the word tells them; but as to believing or coming to Christ, that no man can do of himself, or by a general and common assistance. No man can.

Come unto me—that is believe in me unto salvation. Coming to Christ, and believing in him, are equivalent terms, and are indifferently used to express the nature of saving faith, as is plain, verse 35. "He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes on me shall never thirst:" it notes the terms from which and to which the soul moves, and the voluntariness of the motion, notwithstanding that divine power by which the will is drawn to Christ.

Except my Father—not excluding the other two Persons; for every work of God relating to the creatures is common to all the three Persons; nor only to note that the Father is the first in order of working: but the reason is hinted in the next words.

who has sent me—God has entered into covenant with the Son, and sent him, stands obliged thereby, to bring the promised seed to him, and that he does by drawing them to Christ by faith: so the next words tell us the Father does,

Draws him—That is, powerfully and effectually. incline his will to come to Christ: "Not by a violent co-action, but by a benevolent bending of the will which was averse;" and as it is not in the way of force and compulsion, so neither is it by a simple moral suasion, by the bare proposal of an object to the will, and so leaving the sinner to his own election; but it is such a persuasion, as has a mighty overcoming efficacy accompanying it: of which more anon.

The words thus opened, the observation will be this:

DOCTRINE: That it is utterly impossible for any man to come to Jesus Christ, unless he be drawn unto him by the special and mighty power of God.

No man is compelled to come to Christ against his will, he who comes, comes willingly, but even that will and desire to come is the effect of grace, Philippians 2:13. "It is God that works in you, both to will and to do of his own good pleasure."

"If we desire the help and assistance of grace, (says Fulgentius) even the desire is of grace; grace must first be shed forth upon us, before we can begin to desire it." "By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God," Ephesians 2:8. Suppose the utmost degree of natural ability; let a man be as much disposed and prepared as nature can dispose or prepare him, and to all this, add the proposal of the greatest arguments and motives to induce him to come; let all these have the advantage of the fittest season to work upon his heart; yet no man can come until God draw him: we move as we are moved: as Christ's coming to us, so our coming to him are the pure effects of grace.

Three things require explication in this point before us.

FIRST, What the drawing of the Father imports.

SECONDLY, In what manner he draws men to Christ.

THIRDLY, How it appears that none can come until they be so drawn.

FIRST, What the drawing of the Father imports.

To open this, let it be considered, that drawing is usually distinguished into physical and moral. The former is either by co-action, force, and compulsion; or, by a sweet congruous efficacy upon the will. As to violence and compulsion, it is none of God's way and method, it being both against the nature of the will of man, which cannot be forced, and against the will of Jesus Christ, who loves to reign over a free and willing people, Psalm 110:5. "Your people shall be willing in the day of your power." Or, as that word may be rendered, they shall be voluntarinesses, as willing as willingness itself. It is not then by a forcible co-action, but in a moral way of persuasion, that God the Father draws men to Jesus Christ: He draws with the bands of a man, as they are called, Hosea 11:4. that is in a way of rational conviction of the mind and conscience, and effectual persuasion of the will.

But yet by moral persuasion, we must not understand a simple and bare proposal or tender of Christ and grace, leaving it still at the sinner's choice, whether he will comply with it or no. For though God does not force the will contrary to its nature, yet there is a real internal efficacy implied in this drawing, or an immediate operation of the Spirit upon the heart and will, which, in a way congruous and suitable to its nature, takes away the rebellion and reluctance of it, and of unwilling, makes it willing to come to Christ. And, in this respect, we own a physical, as well as a moral influence of the Spirit in this work; and so scripture expresses it, Ephesians 1:19, 20. "That we may know what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead." Here is much more than a naked proposal made to the will; there is a power as well as a tender; greatness of power; and yet more, the exceeding greatness of his power; and this power has an actual efficacy ascribed to it, he works upon our hearts and wills according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead. Thus he fulfills in us all the good pleasure of his will, and the work of faith with power, 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

And this is that which the schools call effectual grace; and others an overcoming, conquering delight: thus the work is carried on with a most efficacious sweetness. So that the liberty of the will is not infringed, while the obstinacy of the will is effectually subdued and over-ruled. For want of this, there are so many almost Christians in the world; hence are all those vanishing and imperfect works which come to nothing, called in scripture, a morning cloud, an early dew. Had this mighty power gone forth with the word, they had never vanished or perished like embryos as they do. So then, God draws not only in a moral way, by proposing a suitable object to the will, but also in a physical way, or by immediate powerful influence upon the will; not infringing the liberty of it, but yet infallibly and effectually persuading it to come to Christ.

SECONDLY, Next let us consider the marvelous way and manner in which the Lord draws the souls of poor sinners to Jesus Christ, and you will find he does it,

1. Gradually,

2. Congruously,

3. Powerfully,

4. Effectually, and

5. Finally.

FIRST, This blessed work is carried on by the Spirit gradually; bringing the soul step by step in the due method and order of the gospel to Christ; illumination, conviction, compunction, prepare the way to Christ; and then faith unites the soul to him: without humiliation there can be no faith, Matthew 21:32. "You repented not, that you might believe." It is the burdensome sense of sin, that brings the soul to Christ for rest, Matthew 11:28. "Come unto me all you that are weary and heavy laden." But without conviction there can be no compunction, no humiliation; he who is not convinced of his sin and misery, never bewails it, nor mourns for it. Never was there one tear of true repentance seen to drop from the eye of an unconvinced sinner.

And without illumination there can be no conviction; for what is conviction, but the application of the light which is in the understanding, or mind of a man, to his heart and conscience? Acts 2:37. In this order, therefore, the Spirit (ordinarily) draws souls to Christ, he shines into their minds by illumination; applies that light to their consciences by effectual conviction; breaks and wounds their hearts for sin in compunction; and then moves the will to embrace and close with Christ in the way of faith for life and salvation.

These several steps are more distinctly discerned in some Christians than in others; they are more clearly to be seen in the adult convert, than in those that were drawn to Christ in their youth; in such as were drawn to him out of a state of profaneness, than in those that had the advantage of a pious education; but in this order the work is carried on ordinarily in all, however it differ in point of clearness in the one and in the other.

SECONDLY, He draws sinners to Christ congruously, and very agreeably to the nature and way of man, so he speaks, Hosea 11:4. "I drew them with the cords of a man, with bands of love;" Not as beasts are drawn; but as men are inclined and wrought to compliance, by rational conviction of their judgments, and powerful persuasion of their wills: the minds of sinners are naturally blinded by ignorance, 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4. and their affections bewitched to their lusts, Galatians 3:4. and while it is thus, no arguments or entreaties can possibly prevail to bring them off from the ways of sin to Christ.

The way therefore which the Lord takes to win and draw them to Christ, is by rectifying their false apprehensions, and showing them infinitely more good in Christ than in the creature and in their lusts; yes, by satisfying their understandings, that there is goodness enough in Jesus Christ, to whom he is drawing them.

FIRST, Enough to out-bid all temporal good, which is to be denied for his sake.

SECONDLY, Enough to preponderate all temporal evils, which are to be suffered for his sake.

FIRST, That there is more good in Christ than in all temporal good things, which we are to deny or forsake upon his account. This being once clearly and convincingly discovered to the understanding, the will is thereby prepared to quit all that which entangles and with-holds it from coming to Christ. There is no man that loves money so much, but he will willingly part with it, for that which is more worth to him than the sum he parts with to purchase it, Matthew 13:56, 46. "The kingdom of Heaven is like to a merchant-man, seeking goodly pearls, who when he has found one pearl of great price, goes and sells all that he has and buys it."

Such an invaluable pearl is Jesus Christ; infinitely more worth than all that a poor sinner has to part with for him; and is a more real good than the creature. These are but vain shadows; Proverbs 23:5. Christ is a solid, substantial good: yes, he is, and by conviction appears to be a more suitable good than the creature: The world cannot justify and save, but Christ can. Christ is a more necessary good than the creature, which is only for our temporal convenience, but he is of eternal necessity. He is a more durable good than any creature comfort is, or can be: "The fashion of this world passes away," 1 Corinthians 7:13. But durable riches and righteousness are in him, Proverbs 8:17. Thus Christ appears in the day of conviction, infinitely more excellent than the world; he out-bids all the offers that the world can make; and this greatly forwards the work of drawing a soul to Jesus Christ.

SECONDLY, And (then to remove everything out of the way to Christ) God discovers to the soul enough in him to preponderate, and much more than will recompense all the evils and sufferings it can endure for his sake.

It is true, they that close with Christ close with his cross also: they must expect to save no more but their souls by him. He tells us what we must trust to, Luke 14:26, 27. "If any man come to me, and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters; yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." And whoever does not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

To read such a text as this, with such a comment upon it, as Satan and our flesh can make, is enough to fright a man from Christ forever. Nor is it possible by all the arguments in the world to draw any soul to Christ upon such terms as these, until the Lord convince it, that there is enough, and much more than enough in Jesus Christ to recompense all these sufferings and losses we endure for him.

But when the soul is satisfied that those sufferings are but external upon the vile body, but that the benefit which comes by Christ is internal in a man's own soul; these afflictions are but temporal, Romans 8:18. But Christ and his benefits are eternal: This must needs prevail with the will to come over to Christ, notwithstanding all the evils of suffering that accompany him, when the reality of this is discovered by the Lord, and the power of God goes along with these discoveries. Thus the Lord draws us in our own way, by rational convictions of the understanding, and allurements of the will.

And it is possible this may be the reason why some poor souls mis-judge the working of the Spirit of God upon themselves, thinking they never had that wonderful and mighty power of God in conversion, acting upon their hearts, because they find all that is done upon their hearts that way is done in the ordinary course and method of nature; They consider, compare, are convinced, and then resolved to chose Christ and his ways; whereas they expect to feel some strange operations, that shall have the visible characters of the immediate power of God upon them, and such a power they might discern, if they would consider it as working in this way and method: but they cannot distinguish God's acts from their own, and that puzzles them.

THIRDLY, The drawings of the Father are very powerful. "The arm of the Lord is revealed in this work," Isaiah 53:1. It was a powerful word indeed that made the light at first shine out of darkness, and no less power is required to make it shine into our hearts, 2 Corinthians 5:14. That day in which the soul is made willing to come to Christ, is called, "the day of his power," Psalm 110:3. The scripture expresses the work of conversion by a threefold metaphor, namely,

That of a resurrection from the dead, Romans 4:4.

That of creation Ephesians 2:10. And

That of victory or conquest, 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5. All these set forth the infinite power of God in this work; for no less than Almighty Power is required to each of them, and if you strictly examine the distinct notions, you shall find the power of God more and more illustriously displayed in each of them.

To raise the dead, is the effect of Almighty Power; but then the resurrection supposes pre-existent matter. In the work of creation, there is no pre-existent matter; but then there is no opposition: That which is not, rebels not against the power which gives it being. But victory and conquest suppose opposition, all the power of corrupt nature arming itself, and fighting against God: but yet not able to frustrate his design.

Let the soul whom the Father draws, struggle and fight as much as it can, it shall come, yes, and come willingly too, when the drawing power of God is upon it. O the self-conflicts, the contrary resolves, with which the soul finds itself distracted, and rent asunder! The hopes and fears; the encouragements and discouragements; they will, and they will not: but victorious grace conquers all opposition at last. We find an excellent example of this in blessed Augustin, who speaks of this very work, the drawing of his soul to Christ, and how he felt in that day two wills in himself, "one old, the other new; one carnal, the other spiritual; and how in these their contrary motions and conflicts, he was torn asunder in his own thoughts and resolutions, suffering that "unwillingly which he did willingly." And certainly, if we consider how deep the soul is rooted by natural inclination, and long continued custom in sin, how extremely averse it is to the ways of strict godliness and mortification; how Satan, that invidious enemy, that strong man armed, fortifies the soul to defend his possession against Christ, and intrenches himself in the understanding, will, and affections, by deep-rooted prejudices against Christ and holiness, it is a wonder of wonders to see a soul quitting all its beloved lusts, and fleshly interests and endearments, and coming willingly under Christ's yoke.

FOURTHLY, the drawings of God are very effectual: There is indeed a common and ineffectual work upon hypocrites and apostates, called in scripture a "morning cloud and early dew," Hosea 6:4. These may believe for a time, and fall away at last, Luke 8:13. Their wills may be half won, they may be drawn half way to Christ, and return again. So it was with Agrippa, Acts 26:28. Within a very little you persuade me to be a Christian: But in God's elected ones it is effectual: Their wills are not only almost, but altogether persuaded to embrace Christ, and quit the ways of sin, how pleasant, gainful, and dear soever they have been to them. The Lord not only draws, but draws home those souls to Christ, John 6:37. "All that the Father has given me, shall come to me."

It is confessed, that in drawing home of the very elect to Christ, there may be, and frequently are, many pauses, stands, and demurs; they have convictions, affections, and resolutions stirring in them, which, like early blossoms, seem to be nipped and die away again. There is frequently, (in young ones especially), an hopeful appearance of grace; they make conscience of avoiding sins, and performing duties: they have sometimes great awakenings under the word, they are observed to retire for meditation and prayer; and delight to be in the company of Christians: and after all this, youthful lusts and vanities are found to stifle and choke these hopeful beginnings, and the work seems to stand, (it may be some years), at a pause; however, at last, the Lord makes it victorious over all opposition, and sets it home with power upon their hearts.

FIFTHLY, To conclude, those whom the Father draws to Christ, he draws them finally and forever. "The gifts and calling of "God are without repentance," Romans 11:29. they are so, as to God the giver; he never repents, that he has called his people into the fellowship of his Son Christ Jesus: and they are so on the believer's part; he is never sorry, whatever he afterwards meets with, that he is come to Christ.

There is a time when Christians are drawn to Christ, but there shall never be a time in which they shall be drawn away from Christ, John 10:29. There is no plucking them out of the Father's hand. It was common to a proverb, in the primitive times, when they would express an impossibility, to say, "You may as soon draw a Christian from Christ, as do it." When Christ asked that question of the disciples, "Will you also go away? Lord, (said Peter, in the name of them all), to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life," John 6:68. those who are thus drawn, do with full purpose of heart, cleave unto the Lord. And thus of the manner and quality of effectual drawing.

THIRDLY, In the last place, I am to evince the impossibility of coming to Christ without the Father's drawings; and this will evidently appear upon the consideration of these two particulars.

FIRST, The difficulty of this work is above all the power of nature to overcome.

SECONDLY, That little power and ability that nature has, it will never employ to such a purpose as this, until the drawing power of God be upon the will of a sinner.

FIRST, If all the power of nature were employed in this design, yet such are the difficulties of this work, that it surmounts all the abilities of nature. This the scripture very plainly affirms, Ephesians 2:8. "By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." To think of Christ is easy, but to come to Christ, is to nature impossible. To send forth cold and ineffectual wishes to Christ we may, but to bring Christ and the soul together, requires the Almighty Power of God, Ephesians 1:19. The grace of faith by which we come to Christ, is as much the free gift of God, as Christ himself, who is the object of faith, Philippians 1:29. "To you it is freely given to believe." And this will easily appear to your understandings, if you do but consider




Act, and



of this work of faith, or coming to Christ.

FIRST, Consider the subject of faith in which it is wrought; or what it is that is drawn to Christ: It is the heart of a sinner which is naturally as indisposed for this work, as the wood which Elijah laid in order upon the altar was to catch fire, when he had poured so much water upon it, as did not only wet the wood, but also filled up the trench round about it, 1 Kings 18:33. For it is naturally a dark, blind, and ignorant heart, Job 11:12. And such an heart can never believe, until he who commanded the light to shine out of darkness do shine into it, 2 Corinthians 4:6.

Nor will it avail anything to say, though man be born in darkness and ignorance, yet afterwards he may acquire knowledge in the use of means, as we see many natural men do to a very high degree: For this is not that light that brings the soul to Christ, yes, this natural unsanctified light blinds the soul, and prejudices it more against Christ than ever it was before, 1 Corinthians 1:21, 26.

As it is a blind, ignorant heart, so it is a selfish heart by nature: All its designs and aims terminate in self; this is the center and weight of the soul; no righteousness but its own is sought after, that, or none, Romans 10:3. Now, for a soul to renounce and deny self, in all its forms, modes, and interests, as every one does that comes to Christ; to disclaim and deny natural, moral, and religious self, and come to Christ as a poor, miserable, wretched, empty creature; to live upon his righteousness for ever, is as supernatural and wonderful, as to see the hills and mountains start from their bases and centers, and fly like wandering atoms in the air.

Nay, this heart which is to come to Christ, is not only dark and selfish, but full of pride. O, it is a desperate proud heart by nature, it cannot submit to come to Christ, as Benhadad's servants came to the king of Israel, with sackcloth on their loins, and ropes upon their heads. To take guilt, shame, and confusion of face to ourselves, and acknowledge the righteousness of God in our eternal damnation; to come to Christ naked and empty, as one that justifies the ungodly. I say, nature left to itself, would as soon be damned as do this; the proud heart can never come to this, until the Lord has humbled and broken it by his power.

SECONDLY, Let us take the act of faith into consideration also, as it is here described by the soul's coming to Jesus Christ; and you will find a necessity of the Father's drawings; for this evidently implies, that which is against the stream and current of corrupt nature, and that which is above the sphere and capacity of the most refined and accomplished nature.

FIRST, It is against the stream and current of our corrupt nature to come to Christ. For let us but consider the term from which the soul departs, when it comes to Christ. In that day it leaves all its lusts, and ways of sin, how pleasant, sweet, and profitable soever they have been unto it, Isaiah 55:7. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord." Way and thoughts, that is both the practice of, and delight he had in sin, must be forsaken, and the outward and inward man must be cleansed from it. Now there are in the bosoms of unregenerate men such darling lusts, that have given them so much practical and speculative pleasure, which have brought so much profit to them, which have been born and bred up with them; and which, upon all these accounts, are endeared to their souls to that degree, that it is easier for them to die, than to forsake them; yes, nothing is more common among such men, than to venture eternal damnation, rather than suffer a separation from their sins.

And which is yet more difficult in coming to Christ, the soul forsakes not only its sinful self, but its righteous self, that is not only its worst sins, but its best performances, accomplishments, and excellencies. Now this is one of the greatest straits that nature can be put to. Righteousness by works was the first liquor that ever was put into the vessel, and it still retains the tang and savor of it, and will to the end of the world, Romans 10:3. "For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God." To come naked and empty to Christ, and receive all from him as a free gift, is, to proud corrupt nature, the greatest abasement and submission in the world.

Let the gospel furnish its table with the richest and costliest dainties that ever the blood of Christ purchased, such is the pride of nature, that it disdains to taste them, except it may also pay for the same. If the old hive be removed from the place where it was accustomed to stand, the bees will come home to the old place, yes, and many of them you shall find will die there, rather than go to the hive, though it stand in a far better place than it did before. Just so stands the case with men. The hive is removed, that is we are not to expect righteousness as Adam did, by obeying and working, but by believing and coming to Christ; but nature had as soon be damned as do this: It still goes about to establish its own righteousness.

Virtues, duties, and moral excellencies, these are the ornaments of nature; here is nature set off in its sumptuous attire, and rich embellishments, and now to renounce it, disclaim and despise it, as dross and dung, in comparison with Christ, as believers do, Phil, 3:8. this, I say, is against the grain of nature. We reckon it the strange effect of self-denial in Mahomet the Great, who being so enamored with his beautiful Irene, would be persuaded, upon reasons of state, with his own hand to strike off her head: and that even when she appeared in all her rich ornaments before him, rather like such a goddess, as the poets in their ecstasies use to feign, than a mortal creature. And yet certainly this is nothing to that self-denial which is exercised in our coming to Christ.

SECONDLY, And if we look to the other term to which the soul moves, we shall find it acting as much above the sphere and ability of improved nature, as here it acts and moves against the stream and current of corrupted nature: for how wonderful and supernatural an adventure is that, which the soul makes in the day that it comes to Jesus Christ.

Surely, for any poor soul to venture itself forever upon Jesus Christ whom it never saw, nay, upon Christ, whose very existence its own unbelief calls in question whether he be or no: and that when it is even weighed down to the dust, with the burdensome sense of its own vileness and total unworthiness, feeling nothing in itself but sin and misery, the workings of death and fears of wrath: to go to Christ, of whose pardoning grace and mercy it never had any the least experience, nor can find any ground of hope in itself that it shall be accepted; this is as much above the power of nature, as it is for a stone to rise from the earth, and fix itself among the stars. Well might the apostle ascribe it to that Almighty Power which raised up Christ from the dead, Ephesians 1:19, 20. If the Lord draw not the soul, and that omnipotently, it can never come from itself to Christ. And yet farther,

THIRDLY, The natural impossibility of coming to Christ, will more clearly appear, if we consider the enemies to faith, or what blocks are rolled by Satan and his instruments into the way to Christ: to mention, in this place, no more but our own carnal reason, as it is armed and managed by the subtlety of Satan, what a wonder is it that any soul should come to Christ?

These are the strong holds, (mentioned 2 Corinthians 10:4.) out of which those objections, fears, and discouragements sally, by which the soul is fiercely assaulted in the way to Christ.

Will you forsake all your pleasures, merry company, and sensible comforts, to live a sad, retired, pensive life? Will you beggar and undo yourself, let go all your comforts in hand, for an hope of that which your eyes never saw, nor have you any certainty that it is any more than a fancy! Will you that have lived in reputation and credit all your life, now become the scorn and contempt of the world? Think you yourself able to live such a strict, severe, mortified, and self-denying life, as the word of God requires? And what if persecution should arise, (as you may expect it will,) can you forsake father and mother, wife and children, yes, and give up your own life too, to a cruel and bloody death! be advised better, before you resolve in so important a matter. What think you of your forefathers, that lived and died in that way you are now living? Are you wiser than they? Do not the generality of men walk in the same paths you have hitherto walked in? If this way lead to Hell, as you fear it may, think then how many millions of men must perish as well as yourself; and is such a supposition consistent with the gracious and merciful nature of God? Besides, think what sort of people those are, unto whom you are about to join yourself in this new way? Are there not to be found among them many things to discourage you, and cool your zeal? They are generally of the lower and baser sort of men, poor and despicable: See you not, though their profession be holy, how earthly, carnal, proud, factious, and hypocritical, many of them are found to be! And doubtless, the rest are like them, though their hypocrisy be not yet discovered.

O what stands and demurs, what hesitations and doubts, is the soul clogged with in its way to Christ! But yet none of these can withhold and detain the soul when the Father draws: Greater then is he who is in us, than he who is in the world. And thus you see the nature, manner, and efficacy of divine drawings, and how impossible it is for any soul to come to Christ without them.

The inferences and improvements of the point follow.


Inference 1. How deeply and thoroughly is the nature of man corrupted, and what an enemy is every man to his own happiness, that he must be drawn to it? John 5:40. "You will not come unto me, that you might have life."

Life is desirable in every man's eyes, and eternal life is the most excellent: yet, in this, the world is rather agreed to die and perish forever than come to Christ for life. Had Christ told us of fields and vineyards, sheep and oxen, gold and silver, honors and sensual pleasures, who would not have come to him for these? But to tell of mortification, self-denial, strictness of life, and sufferings for his sake, and all this for an happiness to be enjoyed in the world to come, nature will never like such a proposition as this.

You see where it sticks, not in a simple inability to believe, but in an inability complicated with enmity; they neither can come, nor will come to Christ. It is true, all that do come to Christ, come willingly; but thanks be to the grace of God, that has freed and persuaded the will, else they never had been willing to come. Who ever found his own heart first stir and move towards Christ? How long may we wait and expect before we shall feel our hearts naturally burn with desires after, and love to Jesus Christ?

This aversion of the will and affections from God is one of the main roots of original sin. No argument can prevail to bring the soul to Christ, until this be mastered and overpowered by the Father's drawing. In our motions to sin we need restraining, but in all our motions to Christ we as much need drawing. He who comes to Heaven may say, Lord, if I had had my own way and will, I had never come here: if you had not drawn me, I should never have come to you. O the riches of the grace of God! Oh unparalleled mercy and goodness! not only to prepare such a glory as this for an unworthy soul, but to put forth the exceeding greatness of your power, afterwards to draw an unwilling soul to the enjoyment of it.

Inference 2. What enemies are they to God and the souls of men, that do all they can to discourage and hinder the conversion of men to Christ? God draws forward, and these do all that in them lies to draw backward, that is to prejudice and discourage them from coming to Jesus Christ in the way of faith: this is a direct opposition to God, and a plain confederacy with the devil.

O how many have been thus discouraged in their way to Christ by their carnal relations, I cannot say friends! Their greatest enemies have been the men of their own house. These have pleaded (as if the devil had hired and fed them) against the everlasting welfare of their own flesh. O cruel parents, brethren, and sisters, that jeer, frown, and threaten, where they should encourage, assist, and rejoice! Such parents are the devil's children. Satan chooses such instruments as you are, above all others, for this work: he knows what influence and authority you have upon them, and over them; and what fear, love, and dependence they have for you, and upon you; so that none in all the world are like to manage the design of their damnation so effectually, as you are like to do.

Will you neither come to Christ yourselves, nor suffer your dear relations that would? Had you rather find them in the ale-house than in the closet? Did you instrumentally give them their being, and will you be the instruments of ruining forever those beings they had from you? Did you so earnestly desire children, so tenderly nurse and provide for them; take such delight in them; and, after all this, do what in you lies to damn and destroy them! If these lines shall fall into any such hands, O that God would set home the conviction and sense of this horrid evil upon their hearts.

And no less guilty of this sin are scandalous and loose professors, who serve to furnish the devil with the greatest arguments he has to dissuade men from coming to Christ; it is your looseness and hypocrisy by which he hopes to scare others from Christ. It is said, Canticles 2:7. "I charge you by the roes and hinds of the field, that you stir not up, nor awake my beloved until he please."

Roes and hinds, like young converts and comers towards Christ, are shy and timorous creatures, that start at the least sound, or yelp of a dog, and fly away. Take heed what you do in this case, lest you go down to Hell under the guilt of damning more souls than your own.

Inference 3. Learn hence the true ground and reason of those strange, amazing, and supernatural effects, that you behold and so admire In the world, as often as you see sinners forsaking their pleasant, profitable corruptions and companions, and embracing the ways of Christ, godliness, and mortification.

It is said, 1 Peter 4:4. "They think it strange, that you run not with them into the same excess of riot." They stand at a gaze, as the hen that has hatched partridge eggs does, when she sees them take the wing and fly away from her.

Beloved, it is the world's wonder to see their companions in sin forsake them; those that were once as profane and vain as themselves, it may be more, to forsake their society, retire into their closets, mourn for sin, spend their time in meditation and prayer, embrace the severest duties, and content to run the greatest hazards in the world for Christ; but they see not that Almighty Power that draws them, which is too strong for all the sinful ties and engagements in the world to withhold and detain them.

A man would have wondered to see Elisha leave the oxen, and run after Elijah, saying, "Let me go, I pray you, and kiss my father and mother, and then I will follow you; when Elijah had said nothing to persuade him to follow him only as he passed by him, he cast his mantle on him, 1 Kings 10:19, 20. Surely that soul whom God draws, must needs leave all and follow Christ, for the power of God rests on it. All carnal ties and engagements to sin break and give way, when the Father draws the soul to Christ in the day of his power.

Inference 4. Is this the first spring of spiritual motion after Christ? Learn then from hence, how it comes to pass that so many excellent sermons and powerful persuasions are ineffectual, and cannot draw and win one soul to Christ. Surely it is because ministers draw alone; and the special saving power of God goes not forth at all times alike with their endeavors.

Paul was a chosen vessel, filled with a greater measure of gifts and graces by the Spirit, than any that went before him or followed after him; and, as his talents, so his diligence in improving them was beyond any recorded example we read of among men; "He rather flew like a seraphim, than traveled upon his Master's errand about the world." Apollos was an eloquent preacher, and mighty in the scriptures, yet Paul is nothing, and Apollos nothing; but God that gives the increase," 1 Corinthians 3:7. We are too apt to admire men, yes, and the best are but too apt to go forth in the strength of their own parts and preparations; but God secures his own glory, and magnifies his own power, frequently, in giving success to weaker endeavors, and men of lower abilities, when he withholds it from men of more raised, refined, and excellent gifts and abilities.

It is our great honor, who are the ministers of the gospel, that we are workers together with God, 1 Corinthians 3:9. in his strength we can prevail; "the weapons of our warfare are mighty through God," 2 Corinthians 10:4. But if his presence, blessing, and assistance be not with us, we are nothing, we can do nothing.

If we prepare diligently, pray heartily, preach zealously, and our hearers go as they came, without any spiritual effects and fruits of our labors, what shall we say, but as Martha said to Christ, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died:" Had the Spirit of God gone forth with his especial efficacy and blessing, with this prayer, or that sermon, these souls had not departed dead and senseless from under it.

Inference 5. Does all success and efficacy depend upon the Father's drawings? Let none then despair of their unregenerate and carnal relations, over whose obstinacy they do, and have cause to mourn.

What, if they have been as many years under the preaching of the gospel, as the poor man lay at the pool of Bethesda, and hitherto to no purpose? A time may come at last, (as it did for him) when the Spirit of God may move upon the waters; I mean put a quickening and converting power into the means, and then the desire of your souls for them shall be fulfilled.

It may be that you have poured out many prayers and tears to the Lord for them; you have cried for them as Abraham for his son, "O that Ishmael might live before you!" O that this poor husband, wife, child, brother, or sister, might live in your sight; and still you see them continue carnal, dead, and senseless: Well, but yet give not up your hopes, nor cease your pious endeavors, the time may come when the Father may draw as well as you, and then you shall see them quit all, and come to Christ; and nothing shall hinder them. They are now drawn away of their own lusts; they are easily drawn away by their sinful companions; but when God draws, none of these shall withdraw them from the Lord Jesus. What is their ignorance, obstinacy, and hardness of heart, before that mighty power that subdues all things to itself? Go therefore to the Lord by prayer for them, and say, Lord, I have labored for my poor relations in vain, I have spent my exhortations to little purpose; the work is too difficult for me, I can carry it no farther, but you can: O let your power go forth; they shall be willing in the day of your power.

Inference 6. If none can come to Christ except the Father draw them, then surely none can be drawn from Christ except the Father leave them: That power which at first drew them to Christ can secure and establish them, in Christ to the end. John 10:29. "My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."

When the power of God at first draws us out of our natural state to Christ, it finds us not only impotent but obstinate, not only unable, but unwilling to come; and yet this power of God prevails against all opposition; how much more is it able to preserve and secure us, when his fear is put into our inward parts, so that we dare not depart, we have no will to depart from him? Well then if the world say, I will ensnare you; if the devil say, I will destroy you; if the flesh say, I will betray you; yet you are secure and safe, as long as God has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," Hebrews 13:5.

Inference 7. Let this engage you to a constant attendance upon the ordinances of God, in which this drawing power of God is sometimes put forth upon the hearts of men.

Beloved, there are certain seasons in which the Lord comes near to men in the ordinances and duties of his worship; and we know not at what time the Lord comes forth by his Spirit upon this design: he many times comes in an hour when we think not of him! "I am found of them that sought me not," Isaiah 65:1. It is good therefore to be found in the way of the Spirit. Had that poor man, that lay so long at the pool of Bethesda, reasoned thus with himself, So long have I lain here in vain expecting a cure, it is to no purpose to wait longer, and so had been absent at that very time when the angel came down, he had, in all likelihood, carried his disease to the grave with him.

How do you know but this very Sabbath, this sermon, this prayer, which you have no heart to attend, and are tempted to neglect, may be the season and instrument wherein, and by which, the Lord may do that for your soul which was never done before?

Inference 8. To conclude, How are all the saints engaged to put forth all the power and ability they have for God, who has put forth his infinite Almighty Power to draw them to Christ?

God has done great things for your souls; he has drawn you out of the miserable state of sin and wrath; and that when he let others go, by nature as good as you, he has drawn you into union with Christ, and communion with his glorious privileges. O that you would henceforth employ all the power you have for God in the duties of obedience, and in drawing others to Christ, as much as in you lies, and say continually with the Church, "Draw me, we will run after you," Canticles 1:4.

Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.




Of the Work of the Spirit more particularly, by which the Soul is enabled to apply CHRIST

EPHESIANS 2:1, "And you has he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins."

IN the former sermons we have seen our union with Christ in the general nature of it, and the means by which it is effected, both external, by the preaching of the gospel, and internal, by the drawing of the Father. We are now to bring our thoughts yet closer to this great mystery, and consider the bands by which Christ and believers are knit together in a blessed union.

And if we heedfully observe the scripture expressions, and ponder the nature of this union, we shall find there are two bands which knit Christ and the soul together, namely,

1. The Spirit on Christ's part.

2. Faith on our part.

The Spirit, on Christ's part, quickening us with spiritual life, whereby Christ first takes hold of us, and faith on our part, when thus quickened, whereby we take hold of Christ; accordingly, this union with the Lord Jesus is expressed in scripture sometimes by the one and sometimes by the other of the means or bands by which it is effected. Christ is sometimes said to be in us; so Colossians 1:27. "Christ is in you the hope of glory." And Romans 8:10. "And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin." At other times it is expressed by the other band on our part, as 1 John 5:20. "We are in him that is true, even in his Son Christ Jesus." "And 2 Corinthians 5:17. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature."

The difference between both these is thus aptly expressed by a late author. Christ is in believers by his Spirit, 1 John 4:13. "The believer is in Christ by faith, John 1:12. Christ is in the believer by inhabitation, Romans 3:17. The believer is in Christ by implantation, Romans 6:5. Christ is in the believer as the head is in the body, Colossians 1:18. As the root in the branches', John 15:5. Believers are in Christ as the members are in the head, Ephesians 1:23. or as the branches are in the root, John 15:1, 7. Christ in the believer implies life, and influence from Christ, Colossians 3:4. The believer implies communion and fellowship with Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:30. When Christ is said to be in the believer, we are to understand it in reference to sanctification. When the believer is said to be in Christ, it is in order to justification."

Thus we apprehend, being ourselves first apprehended by Jesus Christ, Philippians 3:12. We cannot take hold of Christ until first he take hold of us; no vital act of faith can be exercised until a vital principle be first inspired: of both these bands of union we must speak distinctly, and first of "Christ quickening us by his Spirit, in order to our union with him," of which we have an account in the scripture before us, "You he has quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins:" In which words we find these two things noted, namely,

1. The infusion of a vital principle of grace.

2. The total indisposedness of the subject by nature.

FIRST, The infusion of a vital principle of grace, You has he quickened. These words [has he quickened] are a supplement made to clear the sense of the apostle, which else would have been more obscure, by reason of that long parenthesis between the first and fifth verses, "for as the learned observe, this word, you, is governed by the verb has he quickened, verse 5. So that here the words are transposed from the plain grammatical order, by reason of the interjection of a long sentence, therefore, with good warrant our translators have put the verb into the first verse, which is repeated, verse 5. and so keeping faithfully to the scope, have excellently cleared the syntax and order of the words." Now this verb, has he quickened, imports the first vital act of the Spirit of God, or his first enlivening work upon the soul, in order to its union with Jesus Christ: For look, as the blood of Christ is the fountain of all merit, so the Spirit of Christ is the fountain of all spiritual life; and until he quicken us, that is infuse the principle of the divine life into our souls, we can put forth no hand, or vital act of faith, to lay hold upon Jesus Christ.

This his quickening work is therefore the first in order of nature to our union with Christ, and fundamental to all other acts of grace done and performed by us, from our first closing with Christ throughout the whole course of our obedience; and this quickening act is said, verse 5. to be together with Christ. Either noting (as some expound it) that it is the effect of the same power by which Christ was raised from the dead, according to Ephesians 1:19. or rather, to be quickened together with Christ, notes that new spiritual life which is infused into our dead souls in the time of our union with Christ: "For it is Christ to whom we are conjoined and united in our regeneration, out of whom, as a fountain, all spiritual benefits flow to us, among which this vivification or quickening is one, and a most sweet and precious one."

Zanchy Bodius, and many others, will have this quickening to comprise both our justification and regeneration, and to stand opposed both to eternal and spiritual death, and it may well be allowed; but it most properly imports our regeneration, wherein the Spirit, in an ineffable and mysterious way, makes the soul to live to God, yes, to live the life of God, which soul was before dead in trespasses and sins. In which words we have,

SECONDLY, In the next place, the total indisposedness of the subjects by nature: For, as it is well noted by a learned man, "the apostle does not say of these Ephesians that they were half dead, or sick, and infirm, but dead wholly; altogether dead, destitute of any faculty or ability, so much as to think one good thought, or perform one good act." You were dead in respect of condemnation, being under the damning sentence of the law, and you are dead in respect of the privation of spiritual life; dead in opposition to justification, and dead in opposition to regeneration and sanctification: And the fatal instrument by which their souls died is here showed them; you were dead in, or by trespasses and sins, this was the sword that killed your souls, and cut them off from God. Some do curiously distinguish between trespasses and sins, as if one pointed at original, the other at actual sins; but I suppose they are promiscuously used here, and serve to express the cause of their ruin, or means of their spiritual death and destruction: this was their case when Christ came to quicken them, dead in sin; and being so, they could not move themselves towards union with Christ, but as they were moved by the quickening Spirit of God. Hence the observation will be this,

DOCTRINE: That those souls which have union with Christ, are quickened with a supernatural principle of life by the Spirit of God in order thereunto.

The Spirit of God is not only a living Spirit, formally considered; but he is also the Spirit of life, effectively or casually considered; And without his breathing, or infusing life into our souls, our union with Christ is impossible.

It is the observation of learned Camero, "that there must be an unition before there can be a union with Christ. Unition is to be conceived efficiently as the work of God's Spirit, joining the believer to Christ, and union is to be conceived formally, the joining itself of the persons together:" We close with Christ by faith, but that faith being a vital act, pre-supposes a principle of life communicated to us by the Spirit; therefore it is said, John 11:26. "Whoever lives and believes in me, shall never die:" The vital act and operation of faith springs from this quickening Spirit: So in Romans 8:1, 2. The apostle, having in the first verse opened the blessed estate of them that are in Christ, shows us in the second verse how we come to be in him: "The Spirit of life (says he) which is in Christ Jesus, has made me free from the law of sin and death."

There is indeed a quickening work of the Spirit, which is subsequent to regeneration, consisting in his exciting, recovering, and actuating of his own graces in us; and from hence is the liveliness of a Christian; and there is a quickening act of the Spirit in our regeneration, and from hence is the spiritual life of a Christian; of this I am here to speak, and that I may speak profitably to this point, I will in the doctrinal part labor to open these five particulars.

FIRST, What this spiritual life is in its nature and properties.

SECONDLY, In what manner it is wrought or inspired into the soul.

THIRDLY, For what end, or with what design, this life is so inspired.

FOURTHLY, I shall show this work to be wholly supernatural.

And then, FIFTHLY, Why this quickening must be antecedent to our actual closing with Christ by faith.

FIRST, We shall inquire into the nature and properties of this life, and discover (as we are able) what it is. And we find it to consist in that wonderful change which the Spirit of God makes upon the frame and temper of the soul, by his infusing or implanting the principles of grace in all the powers and faculties thereof.

A change it makes upon the soul, and that a marvelous one, no less than from death to life; for though a man be physically a living man, that is his natural soul has union with his body, yet his soul having no union with Christ, he is theologically a dead man, Luke 15:24. and Colossians 2:18. Alas, it deserves not the name of life, to have a soul serving only to season and preserve the body a little while from corruption: to carry it up and down the world, and only enable it to eat, and drink, and talk, and laugh, and then die: Then do we begin to live, when we begin to have union with Christ the Fountain of life, by his Spirit communicated to us: From this time we are to reckon our life as some have done: There be many changes made upon men besides this, many are changed from profaneness to civility, and from mere civility to formality, and a shadow of religion, who still remain in the state and power of spiritual death, notwithstanding: but when the Spirit of the Lord is poured out upon us, to quicken us with the new spiritual life, this is a wonderful change indeed: It gives us a new supernatural being, which is therefore called a new creature, the new man, the hidden man of the heart: The natural essence and faculties of the soul remain still, but it is divested of the old qualities, and endowed with new ones, 2 Corinthians 5:17. "Old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new."

And this change is not made by altering and rectifying the disorders of the life only, leaving the temper and frame of the heart still carnal; but by the infusion of a supernatural permanent principle into the soul, John 4:14. "It shall be in him a well of water:" principles are to a course of actions, as fountains or springs are to the streams and rivers that flow from them, and are maintained by them: and hence is the evenness and constancy of renewed souls in the course of godliness.

Nor is this principle or habit acquired by accustoming ourselves to holy actions, as natural habits are acquired by frequent acts, which beget a disposition, and thence grow up to an habit or second nature, but it is infused, or implanted in the soul by the Spirit of God. So we read, Ezekiel 36:25, 26. "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you:" It grows not up out of our natures, but is put or infused into us: as it is said of the two witnesses, Revelation 11:11. who lay dead in a civil sense, three days and a half, that the Spirit of life from God entered into them: so it is here in a spiritual sense, the Spirit of life from God enters into the dead, carnal heart: it is all by way of supernatural infusion.

Nor is it limited to this or that faculty of the soul, but grace or life is poured into all the faculties: "Behold, all thing are become new," 2 Corinthians 5:17. The understanding, will, thoughts, and affections, are all renewed by it: the whole inner man is changed; yes, the tongue and hand, the discourses and actions, even all the ways and courses of the outward man are renewed by it.

But more particularly, we shall discern the nature of this spiritual life, by considering the properties of it; among which, these are very remarkable.

FIRST, The soul that is joined to Christ is quickened with a divine life, so we read in 2 Peter 1:4. Where believers are said to be partakers of the divine nature: a very high expression, and warily to be understood. Partakers of the divine nature: not essentially; so it is wholly incommunicable to the creature, nor yet hypostatically, and personally; so Christ only was a partaker of it; but our participation of the divine nature, must be understood in a way proper to believers; that is to say, we partake of it by the inhabitation of the Spirit of God in us, according to 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17. "Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" The Spirit, who is God by nature dwells in, and actuates the soul whom he regenerates, and by sanctifying it, causes it to live a divine life: from this life of God the unsanctified are said to be alienated, Ephesians 4:18. but believers are partakers of it.

SECONDLY, And being divine, it must needs be the most excellent, and transcendent life that any creature does, or can live in this world: it surmounts the natural, rational, and moral life of the unsanctified, as much as the angelical life excels the life of flies and worms of the earth.

Some think it a rare life to live in sensual pleasures; but the scripture will not allow so much as the name of life to them; but tells us, "they are dead while they live," 1 Timothy 5:6. certainly it is a wonderful elevation of the nature of man to be quickened with such a life as this. There are two ways wherein the blessed God has honored poor man above the very angels of Heaven. One was by the hypostatic union of our nature, in Christ, with the divine nature: the other is by uniting our persons mystically to Christ, and thereby communicating spiritual life to us: this latter is a most glorious privilege, and in one respect a more singular mercy than the former; for that honor which is done to our nature by the hypostatic union, is common to all, good and bad, even they that perish have yet that honor; but to be implanted into Christ by regeneration, and live upon him as the branch does upon the vine, this is a peculiar privilege, a mercy kept from the world that is to perish, and only communicated to God's elect, who are to live eternally with him in Heaven.

THIRDLY, This life infused by the regenerating Spirit, is a most pleasant life. All delights, all pleasures, all joys, which are not fantastic and delusive, have their spring and origin here, Romans 8:6. "To be spiritually minded is life and peace," that is a most serene, placid life; such a soul becomes, so far as it is influenced and sanctified by the Spirit, the very region of life and peace: when one thing is thus predicated of another, (says a learned man) it speaks their intimate connection: peace is so connatural to this life, that you may either call it a life that has peace in it, or a peace that has life in it: yes, it has its enclosed pleasures in it, "such as a stranger intermeddles not with," Proverbs 14:10. Regeneration is the term from which all true pleasure commences; you never live a cheerful day, until you begin to live to God: therefore it is said, Luke 15:2. when the prodigal son was returned to his father, and reconciled, then they began to be merry.

None can make another, by any words, to understand what that pleasure is which the renewed soul feels diffused through all its faculties and affections, in its communion with the Lord, and in the sealings and witnessings of his Spirit. That is a very apt and well known similitude, which Peter Martyr used, and the Lord blessed to the conversion of that noble marquis Galeacus: if, said he, a man should see a company of people dancing upon the top of a remote hill, he would be apt to conclude they were a company of wild distracted people; but if he draw nearer, and behold the excellent order, and hear the ravishing sweet music that are among them, he will quickly alter his opinion of them, and be for dancing himself with them.

All the delights in the sensual life, all the pleasure that ever your lusts gave you, are but as the putrid, stinking waters of a corrupt pond, where toads lie croaking and spawning, compared to the crystal streams of the most pure and pleasant fountain.

FOURTHLY, This life of God, with which the regenerate are quickened in their union with Christ, as it is a pleasant, so it is also a growing increasing life, John 4:14. "It shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."

It is not in our sanctification, as it is in our justification; our justification is complete and perfect, no defect is found there; but the new creature labors under many defects: all believers are equally justified, but not equally sanctified. Therefore you read, 2 Corinthians 4:16. that "the inward man is renewed day by day:" And 2 Peter 3:18. Christians are exhorted "to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior:" if this work were perfect, and finished at once, as justification is, there could be no renewing day by day, nor growth in grace. That is what is perfect which wants nothing, and to which nothing can be added. The apostle indeed prays for the Thessalonians, "that God would sanctify them," perfectly, 1 Thessalonians 5:23. And this is matter of prayer and hope; for, at last, it will grow up to perfection; but this perfect holiness is reserved for the perfect state in the world to come, and none but deluded, proud spirits boast of it here: but when "that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away," 1 Corinthians 13:9, 10. And upon the imperfection of the new creature in every faculty, that warfare and daily conflict spoken of, Galatians 5:17. and experienced by every Christian, is grounded; grace rises gradually in the soul, as the sun does in the heavens, "which shines more and more unto a perfect day," Proverbs 4:18.

FIFTHLY, To conclude; This life with which the regenerate are quickened, is an everlasting life. "This is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son," 1 John 5:11. This principle of life, is the seed of God; and that remains in the soul forever, 1 John 3:9. It is no transient, vanishing thing, but a fixed, permanent principle, which abides in the soul forever; a man may lose his gifts, but grace abides; the soul may, and must be separated from the body, but grace cannot be separated from the soul: when all forsake us, this will not leave us.

This infused principle is therefore vastly different, both from the extraordinary gifts of prophecy, wherein the Spirit was sometimes said to come upon men, under the Old Testament, 1 Samuel 10:6, 10. and from the common vanishing effects he sometimes produces in the unregenerate, of which we have frequent accounts in the New Testament, Hebrews 6:4. and John 5:35. It is one thing for the Spirit to come upon a man in the way of present influence and assistance, and another thing to dwell in a man as in his temple.

And thus of the nature and quality of this blessed work of the Spirit in quickening us.

SECONDLY, Having seen the nature and properties of the spiritual life, we are concerned in the next place to inquire into the way and manner in which it is wrought and infused by the Spirit, and here we must say,

FIRST of all, that the work is wrought in the soul very mysteriously; so Christ tells Nicodemus, John 3:8. "The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell whence it comes, or where it goes, so is every one that is born of the Spirit." There be many opinions among philosophers about the original of wind; but we have no certain knowledge of it; we describe it by its effects and properties, but know little of its original: and if the works of God in nature be so abstruse, and unsearchable, how much more so are these sublime, and supernatural works of the Spirit?

We are not able to solve the Phenomena of nature, we can give no account of our own formation in the womb, Ecclesiastes 11:5. Who can exactly describe how the parts of the body are formed, and the soul infused? "It is curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth," as the Psalmist speaks, Psalm 139:16. but how, we know not. Basil says, divers questions may be moved about a fly, which may puzzle the greatest philosopher: we know little of the forms and essences of natural things, much less of these profound, and abstruse spiritual things.

SECONDLY, But though we cannot pry into these secrets by the eye of reason, yet God has revealed this to us in his word, that it is wrought by his own Almighty Power, Ephesians 1:19. The apostle ascribes this work to the exceeding greatness of the power of God; and this must needs be, if we consider how the Spirit of God expresses it in scripture by a new creation; that is a giving being to something out of nothing, Ephesians 2:10. In this it differs from all the effects of human power, for man always works upon some pre-existent matter, but here is no such matter; all that is in man, the subject of this work, is only a passive capacity, or receptivity, but nothing is found in him to contribute towards this work; this supernatural life is not, nor can it be educed out of natural principles; this wholly transcends the sphere of all natural power; but of this more anon.

THIRDLY, This also we may affirm of it, that this divine life is infused into all the natural faculties and powers of the soul, not one exempted, 1 Thessalonians 5:23. The whole soul and spirit is the recipient subject of it; and with respect to this general infusion into all the faculties and powers of the soul, it is called a new creature, a new man, having an integral perfection, and fullness of all its parts and members; it becomes light in the mind, John 17:3. Obedience in the will, 1 Peter 1:2. In the affections an heavenly temper and tenderness, Colossians 3:1, 2. And so is variously denominated, even as the sea is from the several shores it washes, though it be one and the same sea. And here, we must observe, lies one main difference between a regenerate soul and an hypocrite; the one is all of a piece, as I may say, the principle of spiritual life runs into all, and every faculty and affection, and sanctifies or renews the whole man; whereas the change upon hypocrites is but partial and particular; he may have new light, but no new love; a new tongue, but not a new heart; this or that vice may be reformed, but the whole course of his life is not altered.

FOURTHLY, and lastly, This infusion of spiritual life is done instantaneously, as all creation work is; hence it is resembled to that plastic power, which, in a moment, made the light to shine out of darkness; just so God shines into our hearts, 2 Corinthians 4:6.

It is true, a soul may be a long time under the preparatory works of the Spirit, he may be under convictions and humiliations, purposes and resolutions a long time; he may be waiting at the pool of Bethesda, attending the means and ordinances, but when the Spirit comes once to quicken the soul, it is done in a moment: even as it is in the infusion of the rational soul, the body is long before it be prepared and molded, but when once the embryo or matter is ready, it is quickened with the spirit of life in an instant: so it is here; but O what a blessed moment is this! Upon which the whole weight of our eternal happiness depends; for it is Christ in us, that is Christ formed in us, who is the hope of glory, Colossians 1:27. And our Lord expressly tells us, John 3:3. That except we be regenerate and born again, we cannot see the kingdom of God. And thus of the way and manner of its infusion.

THIRDLY, Let the design and end of God, in this his quickening work, be next considered; for what end and with what design and aim this work is wrought. And if we consult the scriptures in this matter, we shall find this principle of life is infused in order to our glorifying God, in this world, by a life of obedience, and our enjoying of God in the world to come.

FIRST, Spiritual life is infused in order to a course of obedience in this world, whereby God is glorified: So we read in Ephesians 2:10. "Created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them:" habits are to actions, as the root is to the fruit, it is for fruit sake that we plant the root, and ingraft the branches. So in Ezekiel 36:26, 27. "A new spirit will I also put within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments and do them." This is the next or immediate design and end, not only of the first infusion of the principle of life into the soul, but of all the exciting, actuating, and assisting works of the Spirit afterwards. Now this principle of spiritual life infused, has a twofold influence into obedience.

FIRST, This makes a sincere and true obedience, when it flows from an inward vital principle of grace. The hypocrite is moved by something as extra, from without, as the applause of men, the accommodation of fleshly interests, the force of education: or if there be anything from within that moves him, it is but self-interest, to quiet a disturbing conscience, and support his vain hopes of Heaven; but he never acts from a new principle, a new nature, inclining him to holy actions. Sincerity mainly lies in the harmony and correspondence of actions to their principles: from this infused principle it is, that men hunger and thirst for God, and go to their duties as men do to their meals, when they find an empty craving stomach.

O reader, pause a little upon this before you pass on, ask your heart whether it be so with you: are holy duties connatural to you? Does your soul move and work after God by a kind of supernatural instinct? This then will be to you a good evidence of your integrity.

SECONDLY, From this infused principle of life results the excellency of our obedience, as well as the sincerity of it; for by virtue and reason thereof, it becomes free and voluntary, not forced and constrained, it drops like honey, and of its own accord, out of the comb, Canticles 4:11. or as waters from the fountain, without forcing, John 4:14. An unprincipled professor must be pressed hard by some weight of affliction, before he will yield one tear, or pour out a prayer, Psalm 78:34. "When he slew them, then they sought him."

Now the freedom of obedience is the excellency of it, God's eye is much upon that, 1 Corinthians 9:17. yes, and the uniformity of our obedience, which is also a special part of the beauty of it, results from hence: he who acts from a principle acts fluently and uniformly, and there is a proportion between the parts of his conversation; this is it which makes us holy in all manner of conduct, or in every point and turning of our conduct, as the word imports, 1 Peter 1:15. Whereas he who is moved by this or that external accidental motive, must needs be very uneven, "like the legs of a lame man," as the expression is, Proverbs 26:7. "which are not equal." Now a word of God, and then the discourse runs muddy and profane or carnal again; all that evenness and uniformity that are in the several parts of a Christian's life, are the effect of this infused principle of spiritual life.

THIRDLY, Another aim and design of God in the infusion of this principle of life, is thereby to prepare and qualify the soul for the enjoyment of himself in Heaven: "Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God," John 3:3. All that shall possess that inheritance must be begotten again to it, as the apostle speaks, 1 Peter 1:3, 4. This principle of grace is the very seed of that glory; it is eternal life in the root and principle, John 17:3. by this the soul is attempered and qualified for that state and employment. What is the life of glory but the vision of God, and the soul's assimilation to God by that vision? From both which results that unspeakable joy and delight which passes understanding: but what vision of God, assimilation to God, or delight in God, can that soul have which was never quickened with the supernatural principle of grace? The temper of such souls is expressed in that sad character, Zechariah 11:8. "My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me." For want of this vital principle it is, that the very same duties and ordinances which are the delights and highest pleasures of the saints, are no better than a mere drudgery and bondage to others, Malachi 1:13. Heaven would be no Heaven to a dead soul; this principle of life, in its daily growth and improvement, is our fitness, as well as our evidence, for Heaven: these are the main ends of its infusion.

FOURTHLY, In the next place, according to the method proposed, I am obliged to show you, that this quickening work is wholly supernatural; it is the sole and proper work of the Spirit of God. So Christ himself expressly asserts it, in John 3:6, 8. "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit: the wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound thereof, but can not tell whence it comes, nor where it goes; so is every one that is born of the Spirit."

Believers are the birth or offspring of the Spirit, who produces the new creature in them in an unintelligible manner, even to themselves. So far is it above their own ability to produce, that it is above their capacity to understand the way of its production: as if you should ask, Do you know from whence the wind comes? No: Do you know where it goes? No: But you hear and feel it when it blows? Yes: Why, so is every one that is born of the Spirit; he feels the efficacy, and discerns the effects of the Spirit on his own soul, but cannot understand or describe the manner of their production. This is not only above the carnal, but above the renewed mind to comprehend; we can contribute nothing, I mean actively, to the production of this principle of life, we may indeed be said to concur passively with the Spirit in it; that is there is found in us a capacity, aptness, or receptiveness of this principle of life: our nature is endowed with such faculties and powers as are meet subjects to receive, and instruments to act this spiritual life: God only quickens the rational nature with spiritual life.

It is true also, that in the progress of sanctification, a man does actively concur with the Spirit, but in the first production of this spiritual principle he can do nothing: he can indeed perform those external duties that have a remote tendency to it, but he cannot by the power of nature perform any saving act, or contribute anything more than a passive capacity to the implantation of a new principle: as will appear by the following arguments.


Argument 1. He who actively concurs to his own regeneration, makes himself to differ; but this is denied to all regenerate men, 1 Corinthians 4:7. "Who makes you to differ from another? And what have you that you did not receive?"

Argument 2. That to which the scripture ascribes both impotency and enmity, with respect to grace, cannot actively, and of itself, concur to the production of it: but the scripture ascribes both impotency and enmity to nature, with respect to grace. It denies to it a power to do anything of itself, John 15:5. And, which is less, it denies to it a power to speak a good word, Matthew 12:34. And, which is least of all, it denies it power to think a good thought, 2 Corinthians 3:5. This impotency, if there were no more, cuts off all pretense of our active concurrence; but then if we consider that it ascribes enmity to our natures, as well as impotency, how clear is the case! See Romans 8:7. "The carnal mind is enmity against God." And Colossians 1:21. "And you that were enemies in your minds by wicked works." So then nature is so far productive of this principle, as impotency and enmity can enable it to be so.

Argument 3. That which is of natural production, must needs be subject to natural dissolution; that which is born of the flesh is flesh, a perishing thing, for everything is as its principle is, and there can be no more in the effect, than there is in the cause: but this principle of spiritual life is not subject to dissolution, it is the water that springs up into everlasting life, John 4:14. The seed of God, which remains in the regenerate soul, 1 John 3:9. And all this, because it is "born not of corruptible, but of incorruptible seed," 1 Peter 1:23.

Argument 4. If our new birth be our resurrection, a new creation, yes, a victory over nature, then we cannot actively contribute to its production; but under all these notions it is represented to us in the scriptures; it is our resurrection from the dead, Ephesians 5:14. And you know the body is wholly passive in its resurrection: but though it concurs not, yet it gives pre-existent matter: therefore the metaphor is designedly varied, Ephesians 4:24. where it is called a creation: in which there is neither active concurrence, nor pre-existent matter; but though creation excludes pre-existent matter, yet in producing something out of nothing, there is no reluctancy nor opposition: therefore to show how purely supernatural this principle of life is, it is clothed and presented to us in the notion of a victory, 2 Corinthians 10:4. And so leaves all to grace.

Argument 5. If nature could produce, or but actively concur to the production of this spiritual life, then the best natures would be soonest quickened with it; and the worst natures not at all, or at last, and least of all: but contrarily, we find the worst natures often regenerated, and the best left in the state of spiritual death: with how many sweet homilitical virtues was the young man adorned? Mark 10:21. yet graceless: and what a sink of sin was Mary Magdalen, Luke 7:37. yet sanctified. Thus beautiful Rachel is barren, while Leah bears children. And there is scarce anything that affects and melts the hearts of Christians more than this comparative consideration does, when they consider vessels of gold cast away, and leaden ones chosen for such noble uses. So that it is plain enough to all wise and humble souls, that this new life is wholly of supernatural production.

FIFTHLY, and lastly, I shall briefly represent the necessary antecedency of this quickening work of the Spirit, to our first closing with Christ by faith: and this will easily let itself into your understandings, if you but consider the nature of the vital act of faith; which is the soul's receiving of Christ, and resting upon him for pardon and salvation: in which two things are necessarily included, namely,

1. The renouncing of all other hopes and dependencies.

2. The opening of the heart fully to Jesus Christ.

FIRST, The renouncing of all other hopes and dependencies whatever. Self in all its acceptations, natural, sinful, and moral, is now to be denied and renounced forever, else Christ can never be received, Romans 10:3. not only self in its vilest pollutions, but self in its richest ornaments and endowments: but this is as impossible to the unrenewed and natural man, as it is for rocks or mountains to start from their center, and fly like wandering atoms in the air: nature will rather chose to run the hazard of everlasting damnation, than escape it by a total renunciation of its beloved lusts, or self-righteousness: this supernatural work necessarily requires a supernatural principle, Romans 8:2.

SECONDLY, The opening the heart fully to Jesus Christ, without which Christ can never be received, Revelation 3:20. but this also is the effect of the quickening Spirit, the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus. Sooner may we expect to see the flowers and blossoms open without the influence of the sun, than the heart and will of a sinner open to receive Christ without a principle of spiritual life first derived from him: and this will be past doubt to all that consider, not only the impotence, but the ignorance, prejudice, and aversations of nature, by which the door of the heart is barred, and chained against Christ, John 5:40. So that nature has neither ability nor will, power nor desire, to come to Christ: if any have an heart opened to receive him, it is the Lord that opens it by his Almighty Power, and that in the way of an infused principle of life supernatural.

QUESTION But here it may be doubted and objected, against this position. If we cannot believe until we are quickened with spiritual life, as you say, and cannot be justified until we believe, as all say, then it will follow, that a regenerate soul may be in the state of condemnation for a time, and consequently perish, if death should befall him in that juncture.

Sol. To this I return, That when we speak of the priority of this quickening work of the Spirit to our actual believing, we rather understand it of the priority of nature, than of time, the nature and order of the work requiring it to be so: a vital principle must, in order of nature, be infused before a vital act can be exerted. FIRST, Make the tree good, and then the fruit good: and admit we should grant some priority in time also to this quickening principle, before actual faith, yet the absurdity mentioned would be no way consequent upon that concession; for as the vital act of faith quickly follows the regenerating principle, so the soul is abundantly secured against the danger objected: God never beginning any special work of grace upon the soul, and then leaving it and the soul with it in hazard, but preserves both to the finishing and completing of his gracious design, Philippians 1:6.


FIRST USE of Information

Inference 1. If such be the nature and necessity of this principle of divine life, as you have heard it opened in the foregoing discourse, then hence it follows, That unregenerate men are no better than dead men. So the text represents them. "You has he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins:" that is spiritually dead, though naturally alive; yes and lively too as any other persons in the world. There is a threefold consideration of objects, namely,

1. Naturally.

2. Politically.

3. Theologically.

FIRST, Naturally, To all those things that are natural, they are alive: they can understand, reason, discourse, project, and contrive, as well as others; they can eat, drink, and build, plant, and suck out the natural comfort of these things, as much as any others. So their life is described, Job 21:12. "They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ; they spend their days in wealth," etc. And James 5:5. "You have lived in pleasure upon earth," as the fish lives in the water its natural element, and yet this natural sensual life is not allowed the name of life, 1 Timothy 5:9. such persons are dead while they live; it is a base and ignoble life, to have a soul only to salt the body, or to enable a man for a few years to eat, and drink, and talk, and laugh, and then die.

SECONDLY, Objects may be considered politically, and with respect to such things, they are alive also: they can buy and sell, and manage all their worldly affairs with as much dexterity, skill, and policy as other men: yes, "the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light," Luke 16:8. The entire stream of their thoughts, projects, and studies, running in that one channel; having but one design to manage, they must needs excel in worldly wisdom: But then,

THIRDLY, Theologically considered, they are dead; without life, sense, or motion, towards God, and the things that are above: their understandings are dead, 1 Corinthians 2:14. and cannot receive the things that are of God; their wills are dead, and cannot move towards Jesus Christ, John 6:65. Their affections are dead, even to the most excellent and spiritual objects; and all their duties are dead duties, without life or spirit. This is the sad case of the unregenerate world.

Inference 2. This speaks encouragement to ministers and parents, to wait in hopes of success at last, even upon those that yet give them little hope of conversion at the present.

The work you see is the Lord's; when the, Spirit of life comes upon their dead souls, they shall believe, and be made willing; until then, we do but plough upon the rocks: yet let not our hand slack in duty, pray for them, and plead with them: you know not in which prayer, or exhortation, the Spirit of life may breathe upon them. Can these dry bones live? Yes, if the Spirit of life from God breathe upon them, they can, and shall live: what though their dispositions be averse to all things that are spiritual and serious, yet even such have been regenerated, when more sweet and promising natures have been passed by, and left under spiritual death.

It was the observation of Mr. Ward, upon his brother Mr. Daniel Rogers, (who was a man of great gifts and eminent graces, yet of a very bad temper and constitution) Though my brother Rogers, says he, has grace enough for two men, yet not half enough for himself.

It may be that you have prayed and striven long with your relations and to little purpose, yet be not discouraged. How often was Mr. John Rogers, that famous and successful divine, a grief of heart to his relations in his younger years, proving a wild and lewd young man, to the great discouragement of his pious friends; yet, at last, the Lord graciously changed him, so that Mr. Richard Rogers would say, when he could exercise the utmost degree of charity or hope, for any that at present were vile and naught, I will never despair of any man for John Rogers' sake.

Inference 3. How honorable are Christians by their new birth! "They are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God," John 1:13. I e. not in an impure, or mere natural way, but in a most spiritual and supernatural manner: they are the offspring of God, the children of the Most High, as well by regeneration as by adoption; which is the greatest advancement of the human nature, next to its hypostatic union with the second person. Oh, what honor is this for a poor sinful creature, to have the very life of God breathed into his soul! All other dignities of nature are trifles compared with this; this makes a Christian a sacred hallowed thing, the living temple of God, 1 Corinthians 6:19. The special object of his delight.

Inference 4. How deplorable is the condition of the unregenerate world, in no better case than dead men? Now to affect our hearts with the misery of such conditions, let us consider and compare it in the following particulars,

FIRST, There is no beauty in the dead, all their loveliness goes away at death; there is no spiritual beauty or loveliness in any that are unregenerate: It is true, many of them have excellent moral homilitical virtues, which adorn their conduct in the eyes of men; but what are all these, but so many sweet flowers strewed over a dead corpse?

SECONDLY, The dead have no pleasure nor delight; even so the unregenerate are incapable of the delights of the Christian life; "to be spiritually minded is life and peace," Romans 8:6. that is this is the only serene, placid, and pleasant life: when the prodigal, who was once dead, was alive, then he began to be merry, Luke 15:24. They live in sensual pleasures, but this is to be dead while alive, in scripture-reckoning.

THIRDLY, The dead have no heat, they are as cold as clay; so are all the unregenerate towards God and things above: their lusts are hot, but their affections to God cold and frozen: that which makes a gracious heart melt, will not make an unregenerate heart move.

FOURTHLY, The dead must be buried, Genesis 23:4. "Bury my dead out of my sight:" So must the unregenerate be buried out of God's sight forever: buried in the lowest Hell, in the place of darkness, forever, John 3:3. Woe to the unregenerate, good had it been for them had they never been born!

Inference 5. How greatly are all men concerned to examine their condition with respect to spiritual life and death! It is very common for men to presume upon their union with, and interest in Christ. This privilege is, by common mistake, extended generally to all that profess the Christian religion, and practice the external duties of it, when, in truth, no more are or can be united to Christ, than are quickened by the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1, 2. O try your interest in Christ by this rule, if I am quickened by Christ, I have union with Christ. And,

FIRST, If there be spiritual sense in your souls, there is spiritual life in them: there are senses belonging to the spiritual as well as to the animal life, Hebrews 5:14. They can feel and sensibly groan under soul pressures and burdens of sin, Romans 7:24. The dead feel not, moan not under the burdens of sin, but the living do: they may be sensible indeed of the evil of sin, with respect to themselves, but not as against God; damnation may scare them, but pollution does not; Hell may fright them, but not the offending of God.

SECONDLY, If there be spiritual hunger and thirst, it is a sweet sign of spiritual life; this sign agrees to Christians of a day old, 1 Peter 2:2. Even "new born babes desire the sincere milk of the word:" If spiritual life be in you, you know how to expound that scripture, Psalm 42:1. without any other interpreter than your own experience: you will feel somewhat like the gnawing of an empty stomach making you restless during the interruption of your daily communion with the Lord.

THIRDLY, If there be spiritual conflicts with sin, there is spiritual life in your souls, Galatians 5:17. Not only a combat between light in the higher, and lust in the lower faculties; not only opposition to more gross external corruptions, that carry more infamy and horror with them than other sins do: but the same faculty will be the seat of war; and the more inward and secret any lust is, by so much the more will it be opposed and mourned over.

In a word, the weakest Christian may, upon impartial observation, find such signs of spiritual life in himself (if he will allow himself time to reflect upon the bent and frame of his own heart) as desires after God; conscience of duties; fears, cares, and sorrows, about sin; delight in the society of heavenly and spiritual men; and a loathing and burden in the company of vain and carnal persons.

Objection: O but I have a very dead heart to spiritual things!

Sol. It is a sign of life that you feel, and are sensible of that deadness; and besides, there is a great deal of difference between spiritual deadness and death; the one is the state of the unregenerate, the other is the disease of regenerate men.

Objection: Some signs of spiritual life are clear to me, but I cannot close with others.

Sol. If you can really close with any, it may satisfy you, though you be dark in others; for if a child cannot go, yet if it can suck; but if it cannot suck, yet if it can cry; yes, if it cannot cry, yet if it breathe, it is alive.




Of that Act on our Part, by which we do actually and effectually apply Christ to our own Souls

JOHN 1:12, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God; even to them that believe on his name."

NO sooner is the soul quickened by the Spirit of God, but it answers, in some measure, the end of God in that work, by its active reception of Jesus Christ, in the way of believing: What this vital act of faith is upon which so great a weight depends, as our interest in Christ and everlasting blessedness, this scripture before us will give you the best account of; wherein (omitting the consideration of the coherence and context of the words) we have three things to ponder.

FIRST, The high and glorious privilege conferred, namely, "Power to become the sons of God."

SECONDLY, The subject of this privilege described, "As many as received him."

THIRDLY, The description explained, by way of opposition, "Even as many as believe on his name."

FIRST, The privilege conferred is a very high and glorious one, than which no created being is capable of greater; "power to become the sons of God:" this word εξουσιαν is of large extent and signification, and is, by some, rendered "this right, by others this dignity, by others this prerogative, this privilege or honor:" It implies a title or right to adoption, not only with respect to the present benefits of it in this life, but also to that blessed inheritance which is laid up in Heaven for the sons of God. And so Grotius rightly expounds it of our consummate sonship, consisting in the actual enjoyment of blessedness, as well as that which is inchoate: not only a right to pardon, favor, and acceptance now, but to Heaven and the full enjoyment of God hereafter. O what an honor, dignity, and privilege is this!

SECONDLY, The subjects of this privilege are described; "As many as received him." This text describes them by that very grace, faith, which gives them their title and right to Christ and his benefits; and by that very act of faith, which primarily confers their right to his person, and secondarily to his benefits, namely, receiving him: there be many graces besides faith, but faith only is the grace that gives us right to Christ; and there be many acts of faith besides receiving, but this receiving or embracing of Christ, is the justifying and saving act: "As many as received him," as many, be they of any nation, gender, age, or condition. For "there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision, nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free: but Christ is all, and in all," Colossians 3:11.

Nothing but unbelief bars men from Christ and his benefits. As many as [received him;] the word signifies "to accept, take," or, (as we fitly render it), to receive, assume, or take to us; a word most aptly expressing the nature and office of faith, yes, the very justifying and saving act; and we are also heedfully to note its special object: The text says not αυτα, his, but αυτον, him, that is his person, as he is clothed with his offices, and not only his benefits and privileges. These are secondary and consequential things to our receiving him. So that it is a receiving, assuming, or accepting the Lord Jesus Christ, which must have respect to the offers and proposals of the gospel, "for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith," Romans 1:17. therein is Jesus Christ revealed, proposed, and offered unto sinners, as the only way of justification and salvation; which gospel-offer, as before was opened, is therefore ordinarily necessary to believing, Romans 10:11, 12, 13, etc.

THIRDLY, This description is yet further explained by this additional exegetical clause, [even to them that believe on his name;] here the terms are varied, though the things expressed in both be the same; what he called receiving there, is called believing on his name here, to show us that the very essence of saving faith consists in our receiving of Christ. By his name, we are to understand Christ himself: it is usual to take these two, believing in him, and believing in his name, as terms convertible, and of the same importance. His name is Himself, and Himself is his name. So that here we have the true nature and precious benefits of saving faith excellently expressed in this scripture, the sum of which take in this proposition;

DOCTRINE: That the receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ is that saving and vital act of faith which gives the soul right both to his person and benefits.

We cannot act spiritually until we begin to live spiritually: Therefore the spirit of life must first join himself to us, in his quickening work, (as was shown you in the last sermon), which being done, we begin to act spiritually, by taking hold upon, or receiving Jesus Christ, which is the thing designed to be opened in this sermon.

The soul is the life of the body, faith is the life of the soul, and Christ is the life of faith. There are several sorts of faith besides saving faith, and in saving faith there are several acts, besides the justifying or saving act; but this receiving act, which is to be our subject this day, is that upon which both our righteousness and eternal happiness do depend. "This, as a form, differences saving faith from all other kinds or sorts of faith;" by this it is that we are justified and saved. "To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God:" yet it does not justify and save us by reason of any proper dignity that is found in this act, but by reason of the object it receives or apprehends. The same thing is often expressed in scripture by other terms, as "Coming to Christ," John 6:35. Trusting or staying upon Christ, Isaiah 50:10. But whatever is found in those expressions, it is all comprehended in this, as will appear hereafter. Now, the method into which I shall cast my discourse on this subject, that I may handle it with as much perspicuity and profit as I can, shall be,

FIRST, To explain and open the nature of this receiving of Christ, and show you what it includes.

SECONDLY, To prove that this is the justifying and saving act of faith.

THIRDLY, To show you the excellency of this act of faith.

FOURTHLY, To remove some mistakes, and give you the true account of the dignity and excellency of this act.

FIFTHLY, And then bring home all, in a proper and close application.

FIRST, In the first place then, I will endeavor to explain and open the nature of this receiving of Christ, and show you what is implied in it.

And, indeed, it involves many deep mysteries, and things of greatest weight. People are generally very ignorant and unacquainted with the importance of this expression; they have very slight thoughts of faith who never passed under the illuminating, convincing, and humbling work of the Spirit: but we shall find that saving faith is quite another thing, and differs in its whole kind and nature from that traditional faith, and common assent, which is so fatally mistaken for it in the world.

For, FIRST, It is evident that no man can receive Jesus Christ in the darkness of natural ignorance: we must understand and discern who and what he is, whom we receive to be the Lord our righteousness. If we know not his person, and his offices, we do not take, but mistake Christ. It is a good rule in the civil law, a mistake of the person invalidates the match. He who takes Christ for a mere man, or denies the satisfaction of his blood, or divests him of his human nature, or denies any of his most glorious and necessary offices, let them cry up as high as they will, his spirituality, glory, and exemplary life and death, they can never receive Jesus Christ aright. This is such a crack, such a flaw in the very foundation of faith, as undoes and destroys all. All saving faith is founded in light and knowledge, and therefore it is called knowledge, Isaiah 53:11. and seeing is inseparably connected with believing, John 6:40. Men must hear and learn of the Father before they can come to Christ, John 6:45. The receiving act of faith is directed and guided by knowledge. I will not presume to state the degree of knowledge which is absolutely necessary to the reception of Christ; I know the first actings of faith are, in most Christians, accompanied with much darkness and confusion of understanding: but yet we must say in the general, that wherever faith is, there is so much light as is sufficient to discover to the soul its own sins, dangers and wants, and the all-sufficiency, suitableness, and necessity of Christ, for the supply and remedy of all; and without this, Christ cannot be received. "Come unto me, all you that labor, and I will give you rest," Matthew 11:28.

SECONDLY, The receiving of Christ, necessarily implies the assent of the understanding to the truths of Christ revealed in the gospel, namely, his person, natures, offices, his incarnation, death, and satisfaction; which assent, though it be not in itself saving faith, yet is it the foundation and ground work of it; it being impossible the soul should receive, and fiducially embrace, what the mind does not assent unto as true and infallibly certain. Now, there are three degrees of assent; conjecture, opinion, and belief. Conjecture is but a slight and weak inclination to assent to the thing propounded, by reason of the weighty objections that lie against it. Opinion is a more steady and fixed assent, when a man is almost certain, though yet some fear of the contrary remains with him. Belief is a more full and assured assent to the truth; to which the mind may be brought four ways.

FIRST, By the perfect intelligence of sense, not hindered or deceived. So I believe the truth of these propositions, Fire is hot, water is moist, honey is sweet, gall is bitter.

SECONDLY, By the native clearness of self-evident principles. So I believe the truth of these propositions, The whole is more than a part; the cause is before the effect.

THIRDLY, By discourse, and rational deduction. So I believe the truth of this proposition, Where all the parts of a thing are, there is the whole.

FOURTHLY, By infallible testimony, when anything is witnessed or asserted by one whose truth is unquestionable. And of this sort is the assent of faith, which is therefore called our receiving the witness of God, 1 John 5:9. our setting to our seal that God is true, John 3:33. This divine verity, is the very formal object of faith: into this we resolve our faith. Thus says the Lord, is that firm foundation upon which our assent is built. And thus we see good reason to believe those profound mysteries of the incarnation of Christ; the hypostatic union of the two natures in his wonderful person; the mystical union of Christ and believers; though we cannot understand these things, by reason of the darkness of our minds. It satisfies the soul to find these mysteries in the written word; upon that foundation it firmly builds its assent: and without such an assent of faith, there can be no embracing of Christ: all acts of faith and religion, without assent, are but as so many arrows shot at random into the open air, they signify nothing for want of a fixed determinate object.

It is therefore the policy of Satan, by injecting or fomenting atheistical thoughts, (with which young converts use to find themselves greatly infested) to undermine and destroy the whole work of faith. But God makes his people victorious over them: yes, and even at that time they do assent to the truths of the word, when they think they do not; as appears by their tenderness and fear of sin, their diligence and care of duty. If I discern these things in a Christian's life, he must excuse me if I believe him not, when he says he does not assent to the truths of the gospel.

THIRDLY, Our receiving Christ necessarily implies our hearty approbation, liking and estimation; yes, the acquiescence of our very souls in Jesus Christ, as the most excellent, suitable, and complete remedy for all our wants, sins, and dangers, that ever could be prepared by the wisdom and love of God for us: We must receive him with such a frame of heart, as rests upon, and trusts in him, if ever we receive him aright; "To them that believe he is precious," 1 Peter 2:7. This is the only sovereign plaster in all the world that is large enough, and efficacious enough, to cure our wounds: And therefore as Christ is most highly esteemed, and heartily approved, as the only remedy for our souls; so the sovereign grace and wisdom of God are admired, and the way and method he has taken to save poor souls, by Jesus Christ, most heartily approved as the most apt and excellent method, both for his glory and our good, that ever could be taken: for it is a plain case, that none will espouse themselves with conjugal affections, to that person whom they esteem not as the best for them that can be chosen: None will forsake and quit all for his sake, except they account him as the spouse did, "The chief of ten thousand."

There are two things in Christ, which must gain the greatest approbation in the soul of a poor convinced sinner, and bring it to rest upon Jesus Christ.

FIRST, That it can find nothing in Christ that is distasteful, or unsuitable to it, as it does experimentally find in the best creatures. In him is no weakness, but a fullness of all saving abilities; "Able to save to the uttermost:" No pride, causing him to scorn and despise the most wretched soul that comes to him: No inconstancy or levity, to cause him to cast off the soul whom he has once received: No passion but a Lamb for meekness and patience: There is no spot to be found in him, but "He is altogether lovely," Canticles 5:16.

SECONDLY, As the believer can find nothing in Christ that is distasteful, so it finds nothing wanting in Christ that is necessary, or desirable: Such is the fullness of wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption that is in Christ, that nothing is left to desire but the full enjoyment of him. O, says the soul, how completely happy shall I be, if I can but win Christ! I would not envy the nobles of the earth, were I but in Christ. I am hungry and athirst, and Christ is meat indeed, and drink indeed; this is the best thing in all the world for me, because so necessary and so suitable to the needs of a soul ready to perish. I am a law-condemned and a self-condemned sinner, trembling for fear of the execution of the curse upon me every moment; in Christ is complete righteousness to justify my soul; O there is nothing better for me than Christ. I see myself plunged, both in nature and practice, into the odious pollutions of sin, and in Christ is a fountain opened for sin and for impurity: His blood is a fountain of merit, his spirit is a fountain of holiness and purity: None but Christ, none but Christ. O the manifold wisdom and unsearchable love of God, to prepare and furnish such a Christ so fully answering all the needs, all the distresses, all the fears and burdens of a poor sinner! Thus the believing soul approves of Christ as best for it. And thus in believing, it gives glory to God, Romans 4:21.

FOURTHLY, Receiving Christ consists in the consent and choice of the will; and this is the opening of the heart and stretching forth of the soul to receive him: Your people shall be willing in the day of "your power," Psalm 110:3.

It is the great design and main scope of the gospel, to work over the walls of poor sinners to this: And this was the great complaint of Christ against the incredulous Jews, John 5:40. "You will not come unto me that you might have life."

It is disputed by some, whether faith can be seated in two distinct faculties, as we seem to place it, when we say it involves both the approbation of the judgment and the consent of the will. I will not here entangle my discourse with that fruitless dispute. I am of the same judgment with those divines, that think faith cannot be expressed fully by any one single habit, or act of the mind or will distinctly, for that (as one well notes) there are such descriptions given of it in scripture, such things are proposed as the object of it, and such is the experience of all that sincerely believe, as no one single act, either of the mind or will, can answer unto: Nor do I see anything repugnant to scripture or philosophy if we place it in both faculties. Consent (says Vasquez) seems to denote the concourse of the will with the understanding; but to leave that, it is most certain the saving, justifying act of faith lies principally in the consent of the will, which consent is the effect of the Almighty Power of God, Ephesians 1:19. He allures and draws the will to Christ, and he draws with the cords of a man, that is he prevails with it by rational arguments: For the soul being prepared by convictions of its lost and miserable estate by sin, and that there is but one door of hope open to it for an escape from the wrath to come, and that is Christ; being also satisfied of the fullness and completeness of his saving ability, and of his willingness to make it over for our salvation, upon such just and equal terms; this cannot but prevail with the will of a poor distressed sinner, to consent and chose him.

FIFTHLY, and lastly, The last and principal thing included in our receiving of Christ, is the respect that this act of acceptance has unto the terms upon which Christ is offered to us in the gospel, to which it is most agreeable, 1 Corinthians 15:11. "So we preach, and so you believed:" Faith answers the gospel-offer, as the impress upon the wax does the engraving in the seal; and this is of principal consideration, for there is no receiving Christ upon any other terms but his own, proposed in the gospel to us; He will never come lower, nor make them easier than they are for any man's sake in the world; we must either receive him upon these, or part with him forever as thousands do, who could not be content to agree to some articles, but rather chose to be damned forever than submit to all: This is the great controversy between Christ and sinners; upon this, many thousands break off the treaty, and part with Christ, because he will not come to their terms; but every true believer receives him upon his own, that is their acceptance of him by faith, is in all things consentaneous to the overtures made of him in the written word. So he offers himself, and so they receive him; as will be evident in the following particulars.

FIRST, The gospel offers Christ to us sincerely and really, and so the true believer receives and accepts him, even with a faith sincere; 1 Timothy 1:5. If ever the soul be serious and in earnest in anything, it is so in this: Can we suppose the heart of him that flies for his life to the refuge city, to be serious and in earnest to escape by flight the avenger of blood who pursues him? Then is the heart of a convinced sinner serious in this matter; for under that notion is the work of faith presented to us, Hebrews 6:18.

SECONDLY, Christ is offered to us in the gospel entirely and undividedly, as clothed with all his offices, priestly, prophetic, and regal; as Christ Jesus the Lord, Acts 16:31. and so the true believer receives him; The hypocrite, like the harlot, is for dividing, but the sincere believer finds the need he has of every office of Christ, and knows not how to want anything that is in him.

His ignorance makes him necessary and desirable to him as a prophet: His guilt makes him necessary as a priest: His strong and powerful lusts and corruptions make him necessary as a king: and in truth, he sees not anything in Christ that he can spare; he needs all that is in Christ, and admires infinite wisdom in nothing more than the investing Christ with all these offices, which are so suited to the poor sinner's wants and miseries. Look, as the three offices are undivided in Christ, so they are in the believer's acceptance; and before this trial no hypocrite can stand; for all hypocrites reject and quarrel with something in Christ; they like his pardon better than his government. They call him indeed, Lord and Master, but it is but an empty title they bestow upon him; for let them ask their own hearts if Christ be Lord over their thoughts, as well as words; over their secret, as well as open actions; over their darling lusts, as well as others; let them ask, who will appear to be Lord and Master over them, when Christ and the world come in competition? When the pleasure of sin shall stand upon one side, and sufferings to death, and deepest points of self-denial, upon the other side? Surely it is the greatest affront that can be offered to the Divine Wisdom and Goodness, to separate in our acceptance, what is so united in Christ, for our salvation and happiness. As without any one of these offices, the work of our salvation could not be completed, so without acceptance of Christ in them all, our union with him by faith cannot be completed.

The gospel-offer of Christ includes all his offices, and gospel-faith just so receives him; to submit to him, as well as to be redeemed by him; to imitate him in the holiness of his life, as well as to reap the purchases and fruits of his death. It must be an entire receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ.

THIRDLY, Christ is offered to us in the gospel exclusively, as the alone and only Savior of sinners; with whose blood and intercession nothing is to be mixed; but the soul of a sinner is singly to rely and depend on him, and no other, Acts 4:2. 1 Corinthians 3:11. and so faith receives him, Psalm 71:16. "I will make mention of your righteousness, even of your only" Philippians 3:9. "And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ." To depend partly upon Christ's righteousness, and partly upon our own, is to set one foot upon a rock, and the other in a quick-sand; either Christ will be to us all in all, or nothing at all, in point of righteousness and salvation; he affects not social honor; as he did the whole work, so he expects the sole praise; if he be not able to save to the uttermost, why do we depend upon him at all? and if he be, why do we lean upon any beside him?

FOURTHLY, The gospel offers Christ freely to sinners as the gift, not the sale of God, John 4:10. Isaiah 55:1. Revelation 22:17. and even so faith receives him. The believer comes to Christ with an empty hand, not only as an undeserving, but as an hell-deserving sinner; he comes to Christ as to one that justifies the ungodly, Romans 4:5. "Unto him that works not, but believes in him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Where by him that works not, he means a convinced, humbled sinner, who finds himself utterly unable to do the task the law sets him, that is perfectly to obey it; and therefore in a law sense is said not to work; for it is all one as to the intent and purpose of the law, not to work, and not to work perfectly. This is he convinced of, and therefore comes to Christ as one that is in himself ungodly, acknowledging the righteousness, by which alone he can stand before God, is in Christ, and not in himself, in whole, or in part; and by the way, let this encourage poor souls that are scared and daunted for want of due qualifications, for closing with and embracing Christ. There is nothing qualifies a man for Christ more than a sense of his unworthiness of him, and the want of all excellencies or ornaments, that may commend him to divine acceptance.

FIFTHLY, The gospel offers Christ orderly to sinners, first his person, then his privileges. God first gives his Son, and then with him, or as a consequent of that gift, he gives us all things, Romans 8:32. In the same order must our faith receive him. The believer does not marry the portion first, and then the person, but to be found in him is the first and great care of a believers

I deny not but it is lawful for any to have an eye to the benefits of Christ. Salvation from wrath is, and lawfully may be intended and aimed at: "Look unto me, and be saved all you ends of the earth," Isaiah 45:22. Nor do I deny but there are many poor souls, who being in deep distress and fear, may, and often do, look mostly to their own safety at first; and that there is much confusion, as well in the actings of their faith, as in their condition; but sure I am, it is the proper order in believing, first to accept the person of the Lord Jesus: Heaven is no doubt very desirable, but Christ is more: "Whom have I in Heaven but you?" Psalm 73:25. Union with Christ is, in order of nature, antecedent to the communication of his privileges, therefore so it ought to be in the order and method of believing.

SIXTHLY, Christ is advisedly, offered in the gospel to sinners, as the result of God's eternal counsel, a project of grace upon which his heart and thoughts have been much set, Zechariah 6:13. The counsel of peace was between the Father and the Son. And so the believer receives him, most deliberately weighing the matter in his most deep and serious thoughts; for this is a time of much solicitude and thoughtfulness. The soul's espousals are acts of judgment, Hosea 2:19. on our part, as well as on God's; We are therefore bid to sit down and count the cost, Luke 14:28. Faith, or the actual receiving of Christ, is the result of many previous debates in the soul: The matter has been pondered over and over: The objections and discouragements, both from the self-denying terms of the gospel, and our own vileness and deep guilt, have been ruminated, and lain upon our hearts day and night, and after all things have been balanced in the most deep consideration, the soul is determined to this conclusion, I must have Christ, be the terms never so hard, be my sins never so great and many, I will yet go to him, and venture my soul upon him; if I perish, I perish. I have thought out all my thoughts, and this is the result, union with Christ here, or separation from God forever must be my lot.

And thus does the Lord open the hearts of his elect, and win the consent of their wills to receive Jesus Christ upon the deepest consideration and debate of the matter in their own most solemn thoughts: They understand and know, that they must deeply deny themselves, take up his cross and follow him, Matthew 16:24. renounce not only sinful but religious self; these are hard and difficult things, but yet the necessity and excellency of Christ make them appear eligible and rational: by all which you see faith is another thing than what the sound of that word (as it is generally understood) signifies to the understandings of most men. This is that fiducial receiving of Christ here to be opened.

SECONDLY, Our next work will be to evince this receiving of Christ as has been opened, to be that special saving faith of God's elect: This is that faith of which such great and glorious things are spoken in the gospel, which, whoever has shall be saved, and he who has it not shall be damned; and this I shall evidently prove by the following arguments or reasons.


Argument 1. That faith which gives the soul right and title to spiritual adoption, with all the privileges and benefits thereof, is true and saving faith.

But such a receiving of Christ as has been described, gives the soul right and title to spiritual adoption, with all the privileges and benefits thereof.

Therefore such a receiving of Christ as has been described is true and saving faith.

The major proposition is undeniable, for our right and title to spiritual adoption, and the privileges thereof arise from our union with Jesus Christ; we being united to the Son of God, are, by virtue of that union, reckoned or accounted sons, Galatians 3:26. "You are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ:" The effect of saving faith is union with Christ's person, the consequent of that union is adoption, or right to the inheritance.

The minor is most plain in the text: "To as many as received him, to them gave he power or right to become the sons of God:" A false faith has no such privilege annexed to it; no unbeliever is thus dignified: No stranger entitled to this inheritance.

Argument 2. That only is saving and justifying faith, which is in all true believers, in none but true believers, and in all true believers at all times.

But such a receiving of Christ as has been described, is in all true believers, in none but true believers, and in all true believers at all times.

Therefore such a receiving of Christ as has been described, is the only saving and justifying faith.

The major is undeniable, that must needs contain the essence of saving faith, which is proper to every true believer at all times, and to no other.

The minor will be as clear, for there is no other act of faith, but this of fiducial receiving Christ as he is offered, that does agree to all true believers, to none but true believers, and to all true believers at all times.

There be three acts of faith, assent, acceptance, and assurance: The Papists generally give the essence of saving faith to the first, namely, assent The Lutherans, and some of our own, give it to the last, namely, assurance: But it can be neither way so. Assent does not agree only to true believers, or justified persons. Assurance agrees to justified persons, and them only, but not to all justified persons, and that at all times.

Assent is too low to contain the essence of saving faith; it is found in the unregenerate as well as the regenerate: yes, in devils as well as men, James 2:19. it is supposed and included in justifying faith, but it is not the justifying or saving act. Assurance is as much too high, being found only in some eminent believers: and in them too but at some times. There is many a true believer to whom the joy and comfort of assurance is denied; they may say of their union with Christ, as Paul said of his vision; whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell; so they, whether in Christ or out of Christ, they cannot tell.

A true believer may "walk in darkness, and see no light," Isaiah 50:10. Nay a man must be a believer before he know himself to be so; the direct act of faith is before the reflex act: so that the justifying act of faith lies neither in assent nor in assurance. Assent says, I believe that Christ is, and that he is the Savior of the elect. Assurance says, I believe and am sure that Christ died for me, and that I shall be saved through him. So that assent widens the nature of faith too much, and assurance upon the other hand straitens it too much; but acceptance, which says, I take Christ in all his offices to be mine, this fits it exactly, and belongs to all true believers, and to none but true believers; and to all true believers at all times. This therefore must be the justifying and saving act of faith.

Argument 3. That and no other is the justifying and saving act of faith, to which the properties and effects of saving faith do belong, or in which they are only found.

But in the fiducial receiving of Christ are the properties and effects of saving faith only found.

This therefore must be the justifying and saving act of faith.

FIRST, By saving faith, Christ is said to "dwell in our hearts," Ephesians 3:17. but it is neither by assent, nor assurance, but by acceptance, and receiving him that he dwells in our hearts; not by assent, for then he would dwell in the unregenerate; nor by assurance, for he must dwell in our hearts before we can be assured of it: therefore it is by acceptance.

SECONDLY, By faith we are justified, Romans 5:1. But neither assent nor assurance, for the reasons above, do justify; therefore it must be by the receiving act, and no other.

THIRDLY, The scripture ascribes great difficulties to that faith by which we are saved, as being most cross and opposite to the corrupt nature of man; but of all the acts of faith, none is clogged with like difficulties, or conflicts with greater oppositions than the receiving act does; this act is attended with the greatest difficulties, fears, and deepest self-denial. In assent, a man's reason is convinced, and yields to the evidence of truth, so that he can do no other but assent to the truth. In assurance there is nothing against a man's will or comfort, but much for it; every one desires it: but it is not so in the acceptance of Christ, upon the self-denying terms of the gospel, as will hereafter be evinced. We conclude therefore, that in this consists the nature and essence of saving faith.

THIRDLY Having seen what the receiving of Jesus Christ is, and that it is the faith by which we are justified and saved, I next come to open the dignity and excellency of this faith, whose praises and encomiums are in all the scriptures; there you find it renowned by the title of precious faith, 2 Peter 1:7. enriching faith, James 2:5. the work of God, John 6:29. the great mystery of godliness, 1 Timothy 3:16. With many more rich epithets throughout the scriptures bestowed upon it.

Now faith may be considered two ways, namely, either qualitatively or relatively

Considered qualitatively, as a saving grace, it has the same excellency that all other precious saving graces have; as it is the fruit of the Spirit, it is more precious than gold, Proverbs 8:11, 19. And so are all other graces as well as faith; in this sense they all shine with equal glory, and that a glory transcending all the glory of this world: but then consider faith relatively, as the instrument by which the righteousness of Christ is apprehended and made ours, and in that consideration it excels all other graces.

This is the grace that is singled out from among all other graces, to receive Christ, by which office it is dignified above all its fellows: as Moses was honored above the many thousands of Israel, when God took him up into the mount, admitted him nearer to himself than any other of all the tribes might come; for they stood without the rail, while Moses was received into the special presence of God, and was admitted to such views as others must not have: so faith is honored above all its fellow-graces, in being singled out, and solemnly anointed to this high office in our justification: this is that precious eye that looks unto Christ as the stung Israelites did to the brazen serpent, and derives healing virtue from him to the soul. It is the grace which instrumentally saves us, Ephesians 2:8. As it is Christ's glory to be the door of salvation, so it is faith's glory to be the golden key that opens that door.

What shall I say of faith? It is the bond of union; the instrument of justification; the spring of spiritual peace and joy; the means of spiritual life and subsistence; and therefore the great scope and drift of the gospel; which aims at and presseth nothing more than to bring men and women to believe.

FIRST, This is the bond of our union with Christ; that union is begun in our vivification,. and completed in our actual receiving of Christ; the first is the bond of union on the Spirit's part, the second a bond of union on our part. "Christ dwells in our hearts by faith," Ephesians 3:17. And therein it is a door opened to let in many rich blessings to the soul; for, by uniting us to Christ, it brings us into special favor and acceptance with God, Ephesians 1:6. Makes us the special objects of Christ's conjugal love and delight, Ephesians 5:29. Draws from his heart sympathy and a tender sense of all our miseries and burdens, Hebrews 4:15.

SECONDLY, It is the instrument of our justification, Romans 5:1. Until Christ be received (thus received by us) we are in our sins; under guilt and condemnation; but when faith comes, then comes freedom: "By him all that believe are justified from all things." Acts 13:38. Romans 8:1. For it apprehends or receives the pure and perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus, wherein the soul, how guilty and sinful soever it be in itself, stands faultless and spotless before the presence of God; all obligations to punishment are, upon believing, immediately dissolved; a full and final pardon sealed. O precious faith! Who can sufficiently value it!

What respect, reader, would you have to that hand that should bring you a pardon when on the ladder or block? Why, such a pardon, which you can not read without tears of joy, is brought you by the hand of faith. O inestimable grace! This clothes the pure righteousness of Jesus upon our defiled souls, and so causes us to become the "righteousness of God in him," or as it is 1 John 3:7. "Righteous as he is righteous." Not with a formal inherent righteousness of our own, but with a relative imputed righteousness from another.

I know this most excellent and most comfortable doctrine of imputed righteousness, is not only denied but derided by Papists. The monstrous birth of Luther's brain! But, blessed be God, this comfortable truth is well secured against all attempts of its adversaries. Let their blasphemous mouths call it in derision, as they do putative righteousness, that is a mere imagined or conceited righteousness: Yet we know assuredly Christ's righteousness is imputed to us, and that in the way of faith. If Adam's sin became ours by imputation, then so does Christ's righteousness also become ours by imputation, Romans 5:17. If Christ were made a sinner by the imputation of our sins to him, who had no sin of his own, then we are made righteous by the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us, who have no righteousness of our own, according to 2 Corinthians 5:21. This was the way in which Abraham, the father of them that believe, was justified; and therefore this is the way in which all believers, the children of Abraham, must, in the like manner, be justified, Romans 4:22, 23, 24. Who can express the worth of faith in this one respect, were this all it did for our souls?

But, THIRDLY, It is the spring of our spiritual peace and joy: and that as it is the instrument of our justification. If it be an instrument of our justification, it cannot but be the spring of our consolation, Romans 5:1. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God." In uniting us with Christ, and apprehending and applying his righteousness to us, it becomes the seed or root of all the peace and joy of a Christian's life. Joy, the child of faith, therefore bears its name, Philippians 1:25. "The joy of faith. So 1 Peter 1:8, 9. "Believing we rejoice with joy unspeakable." We cannot forbear rejoicing when by faith we are brought to the sight and knowledge of such a privileged state; when faith has first given and then cleared our title to Christ, joy is no more under the soul's command; we cannot but rejoice, and that with joy unspeakable.

FOURTHLY, It is the means of our spiritual livelihood and subsistence: all other graces, like birds in the nest, depend upon what faith brings in to them; take away faith, and all the graces languish and die: joy, peace, hope, patience, and all the rest, depend upon faith, as the members of the natural body do upon the vessels by which blood and spirits are conveyed to them. "The life which I now live (says the apostle) is by the faith of the Son of God," Galatians 2:20. It provides our ordinary food, and extraordinary cordials, Psalm 27:13. "I had fainted, unless I had believed." And seeing it is all this to our souls,

FIFTHLY, In the last place, it is no wonder that it is the main scope and drift of the gospel, to press and bring souls to believing: it is the gospel's grand design to bring up the hearts of men and women to faith. The urgent commands of the gospel aim at this, 1 John 3:23. Mark 1:14, 15. John 12:36. Hither also look the great promises and encouragements of the gospel, John 6:35, 37. So Mark 16:16. And the opposite sin of unbelief is everywhere fearfully aggravated and threatened, John 16:8, 9. John 3:18, 35. And this was the third thing promised, namely, a discovery of the transcendent worth and excellency of saving faith.

FOURTHLY, But lest we commit a mistake here, to the prejudice of Christ's honor and glory, which must not be given to another, no not to faith itself; I promised you in the fourth place, to show you upon what account faith is thus dignified and honored; so that we may give unto faith the things that are faith's, and to Christ the things that are Christ's.

And I find four opinions about the interest of faith in our justification: some will have it to justify us formally, not relatively: that is upon the account of his own intrinsical value and worth; and this is the popish sense of justification by faith. Some affirm, that though faith be not our perfect legal righteousness, considered as a work of ours, yet the act of believing is imputed to us for righteousness, that is God graciously accepts it instead of perfect legal righteousness, and so, in his esteem, it is our evangelical righteousness. And this is the Arminian sense of justification by faith.

Some there are also, even among our reformed divines, that contend that faith justifies and saves us, as it is the condition of the new covenant. And lastly, others will have it to justify us as an instrument apprehending or receiving the righteousness of Christ; with which opinion I must close. When I consider my text calls it a receiving of Christ. Most certain it is,

That, FIRST, It does not justify in the popish sense, upon the account of its own proper worth and dignity; for then,

FIRST, Justification should be of debt, not of grace; contrary to Romans 3:23, 24.

SECONDLY, This would frustrate the very scope and end of the death of Christ; for if righteousness come by the law, that is by the way of works and desert, then is Christ dead in vain, Galatians 2:21.

THIRDLY, Then the way of our justification by faith would be so far from excluding, that it would establish boasting, expressly contrary to the apostle, Romans 3:26, 27.

FOURTHLY, Then there should be no defects or imperfections in faith, for a defective or imperfect thing can never be the matter of our justification before God: if it justify upon the account of its own worth and proper dignity, it can have no flaw or imperfection in it, contrary to the common sense of all believers. Nay,

FIFTHLY, Then it is the same thing to be justified by faith, and to be justified by works, which the apostle so carefully distinguishes and opposes, Philippians 3:9. and Romans 4:6. So that we conclude it does not justify in the Popish sense, for any worth or proper excellency that is in itself.

SECONDLY, And it is as evident, it does not justify us in the Arminian sense, namely, as the το credere, the act of believing is imputed or accepted by God, as our evangelical righteousness, instead of perfect legal righteousness. In the former opinion you have the dregs of Popery, and here you have refined Popery. Let all Arminians know, we have as high an esteem for faith as any men in the world, but yet we will not rob Christ to clothe faith. We cannot embrace their opinion, because,

FIRST, We must then dethrone Christ to exalt faith: we are willing to give it all that is due to it, but we dare not despoil Christ of his glory for faith's sake: "He is the Lord our righteousness," Jeremiah 23. We dare not set the servant above the master. We acknowledge no righteousness but what the obedience and satisfaction of Christ yields us. His blood, not our faith; his satisfaction, not our believing it, is the matter of our justification before God.

SECONDLY, We dare not yield this point, lest we undermine all the comfort of Christians, by setting their pardon and peace upon a weak imperfect work of their own. Oh how tottering and unstable must their station be, that stand upon such a bottom as this! What alterations are there in our faith, what mixtures of unbelief at all times, and prevalency of unbelief at some times; and is this a foundation to build our justification and hope upon? If we lay the stress here, we build upon very loose ground, and must be at a continual loss both as to safety and comfort.

THIRDLY, We dare not wrong the justice and truth of God at that rate, as to affirm that he esteems and imputes our poor weak faith for perfect legal righteousness. We know that the judgment of God is always according to truth; if the justice of God require full payment, sure it will not say, it is fully satisfied by any acts of ours, when all that we can do amounts not to one mite of the vast sum we owe to God. So that we deservedly reject this opinion also.

THIRDLY, And for the third opinion, That it justifies as the condition of the new covenant; though some of great name and worth among our Protestant divines seem to go that way, yet I cannot see, according to this opinion, any reason why repentance may not as properly be said to justify us as faith, for it is a condition of the new covenant as much as faith; and if faith justify as a condition, then every other grace that is a condition must justify as well as faith. I acknowledge faith to be a condition of the covenant, but cannot allow that it justifies as a condition. And therefore must profess myself best satisfied in the last opinion, which speaks it an instrument in our justification: it is the hand which receives the righteousness of Christ that justifies us, and that gives it its value above all other graces; as when we say a diamond ring is worth one hundred pounds, we mean not the gold that receives, but the stone that is set in it, is worth so much. Faith, considered as an habit, is no more precious than other gracious habits are, but considered as an instrument to receive Christ and his righteousness, so it excels them all; and this instrumentality of faith is noted in these phrases, Romans 3:28 and Romans 3:22. By faith, and through faith. And thus much of the nature and excellency of saving faith.




JOHN 1:12, 'But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God; even to them that believe on his name.'

THE nature and excellency of saving faith, together with its relation to justification, as an instrument in receiving Christ and his righteousness, having been discoursed doctrinally already; I now come to make application of it, according to the nature of this weighty and fruitful point.

And the uses I shall make of it will be for our,

1. Information,

2. Examination,

3. Exhortation, and,

4. Direction.


FIRST USE of Information

USE 1. And in the first, this point yields us many great and useful truths for our information: As,

Inference 1. Is the receiving of Christ the vital and saving act of faith, which gives the soul right to the person and privileges of Christ? Then it follows, That the rejecting of Christ by unbelief, must needs be the damning and soul-destroying sin, which cuts a man off from Christ, and all the benefits purchased by his blood. If there be life in receiving, there must needs be death in rejecting Christ.

There is no grace more excellent than faith; no sin more execrable and abominable than unbelief. Faith is the saving grace, and unbelief the damning sin, Mark 16:16. "He who believes not shall be damned." See John 3:18, 36. and John 8:24.

And the reason why this sin of unbelief is the damning sin is this, because, in the justification of a sinner, there must be a cooperation of all the con-causes that have a joint influence on that blessed effect. As there must be free grace for an impulsive cause, the blood of Christ as the meritorious cause, so, of necessity, there must be faith, the instrumental cause, to receive and apply what the free grace of God designed, and the blood of Christ purchased for us. For where there are many social causes, or con-causes to produce one effect, there the effect is not produced until the last cause be in act.

"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins," Acts 10:43. Faith in its place is as necessary as the blood of Christ in its place: "It is Christ in you the hope of glory," Colossians 1:27. Not Christ in the womb, not Christ in the grave, nor Christ in Heaven, except he be also Christ in you.

Though Christ be come in the flesh; though he died and rose again from the dead; yet if you believe not, you must for all that die in your sins, John 8:24. And what a dreadful thing is this! better die any death whatever than die in your sins. If you die in your sins, you will also rise in your sins, and stand at the bar of Christ in your sins: you can never receive remission, until first you have received Christ. O cursed unbelief, which damns the soul: dishonors God, 1 John 5:10. slights Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God, as if that glorious design of redemption by his blood, the triumph and master-piece of divine wisdom, were mere foolishness, 1 Corinthians 1:23, 24. frustrates the great design of the gospel, Galatians 4:11. and consequently it must be the sin of sins; the worst and most dangerous of all sins; leaving a man under the guilt of all his other sins.

Inference 2. If such a receiving of Christ, as has been described, be saving and justifying faith, then faith is a work of greater difficulty than most men understand it to be, and there are but few sound believers in the world.

Before Christ can be received, the heart must be emptied and opened: but most men's hearts are full of self-righteousness and vain confidence: this was the case of the Jews, Romans 10:3. "Being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God."

Man's righteousness was once in himself, and what liquor is first put into the vessel, it ever afterwards savors of it. It is with Adam's posterity as with bees, which have been accustomed to go to their own hive, and carry all thither; if the hive be removed to another place, they will still fly to the old place, hover up and down about it, and rather die there than go to a new place. So it is with most men. God has removed their righteousness from doing to believing; from themselves to Christ; but who shall prevail with them to forsake self? Nature will venture to be damned rather than do it: there is much submission in believing, and great self-denial: a proud self-conceited heart will never stoop to live upon the stock of another's righteousness.

Besides, it is no easy thing to persuade men to receive Christ as their Lord in all things, and submit their necks to his strict and holy precepts, though it be a great truth that "Christ's yoke does not gall, but grace and adorn the neck that bears it;" that the truest and sweetest liberty is in our freedom from our lusts, not in our fulfilling them; yet who can persuade the carnal heart to believe this? And much less will men ever be prevailed withal, to forsake father, mother, wife, children, inheritance, and life itself, to follow Christ: and all this upon the account of spiritual and invisible things: and yet this must be done by all that receive the Lord Jesus Christ upon gospel terms; yes, and before the soul has any encouraging experience of its own, to balance the manifold discouragements of sense, and carnal reason, improved by the utmost craft of Satan to dismay it: for experience is the fruit and consequent of believing. So that it may well be placed among the great mysteries of godliness, that Christ is believed on in the world, 1 Timothy 3:16.

Inference 3. Hence it will follow, That there may be more true and sound believers in the world, than know, or dare conclude themselves to be such.

For, as many ruin their own souls by placing the essence of saving faith in naked assent, so some rob themselves of their own comfort, by placing it in full assurance. Faith, and sense of faith, are two distinct and separable mercies: you may have truly received Christ, and not receive the knowledge or assurance of it, Isaiah 50:10. Some there be that say, You are our God, of whom God never said, You are my people: these have no authority to be called the sons of God: others there are, of whom God says, These are my people, yet dare not call God their God: these have authority to be called the sons of God, but know it not. They have received Christ, that is their safety, but they have not yet received the knowledge and assurance of it; that is their trouble: the Father owns his child in the cradle, who yet knows him not to be his Father.

Now there are two reasons why many believers, who might argue themselves into peace, do yet live without the comforts of their faith: and this may come to pass, either from,

FIRST, The inevidence of the premises.

SECONDLY, Or the weighty importance of the conclusion.

FIRST, It may come to pass from the inevidence of the premises. Assurance is a practical syllogism, and it proceeds thus:

All that truly have received Christ Jesus, they are the children of God.

I have truly received Jesus Christ.

Therefore I am the child of God.

The major proposition is found in the scripture, and there can be no doubt of that. The assumption depends upon experience, or internal sense; I have truly received Jesus Christ; here usually is the stumble: many great objections lie against it, which they cannot clearly answer: As,


Objection 1. Light and knowledge are necessarily required to the right receiving of Christ, but I am dark and ignorant; many carnal, unregenerate persons know more than I do, and are more able to discourse of the mysteries of religion than I am.

Sol. But you ought to distinguish of the kinds and degrees of knowledge, and then you would see that your bewailed ignorance is no bar to your interest in Christ. There are two kinds of knowledge:

1. Natural.

2. Spiritual.

There is a natural knowledge, even of spiritual objects, a spark of nature blown up by an advantageous education; and though the objects of this knowledge be spiritual things, yet the light in which they are discerned is but a mere natural light.

And there is a spiritual knowledge of spiritual things, the teaching of the anointing, as it is called, 1 John 2:27. that is the effect and fruit of the Spirit's sanctifying work upon our souls, when the experience of a man's own heart informs and teaches his understanding, when by feeling the workings of grace in our own souls, we come to understand its nature; this is spiritual knowledge. Now, a little of this knowledge is a better evidence of a man's interest in Christ, than the most raised and excellent degree of natural knowledge: As the philosopher truly observes; One grain of knowledge of the best and most excellent things, is better than much knowledge of common things. So it is here, a little spiritual knowledge of Jesus Christ, that has life and savor in it, is more than all the natural, sapless knowledge of the unregenerate, which leaves the heart dead, carnal, and barren: it is not the quantity, but the kind, not the measure, but the savor: If you know so much of the evil of sin, as renders it the most bitter and burdensome thing in the world to you, and so much of the necessity and excellency of Christ, as renders him the most sweet and desirable thing in the world to you, though you may be defective in many degrees of knowledge, yet this is enough to prove yours to be the fruit of the Spirit: you may have a sanctified heart, though you have an irregular or weak head: many that knew more than you are in Hell: and some that once knew as little as you, are now in Heaven: God has not prepared Heaven only for clear and subtle heads. A little sanctified and effectual knowledge of Christ's person, offices, suitableness, and necessity, may bring you thither, when others, with all their curious speculations and notions, may perish forever.

Objection 2. But you tell me, that assent to the truths of the gospel is necessarily included in saving faith, which, though it be not the justifying and saving act, yet it is pre-supposed and required to it. Now I have many staggerings and doublings about the certainty and reality of these things; many horrid atheistical thoughts, which shake the assenting act of faith in the very foundation, and hence I doubt I do not believe.

Sol. There may be, and often is, a true and sincere assent found in the soul, that is assaulted with violent atheistical suggestions from Satan; and thereupon questions the truth of it. And this is a very clear evidence of the reality of our assent, that whatever doubts, or contrary suggestions there be, yet we dare not in our practice contradict or slight those truths or duties which we are tempted to disbelieve, Exodus gr. We are assaulted with atheistical thoughts, and tempted to slight and cast off all fears of sin, and practice of religious duties, yet when it comes to the point of practice, we dare not commit a known sin, the awe of God is upon us; we dare not omit a known duty, the tie of conscience is found strong enough to hold it close to it: in this case, it is plain we do really assent, when we think we do not. A man thinks he does not love his child, yet carefully provides for him in health, and is full of griefs and fears about him in sickness: why now, so long as I see all fatherly duties performed, and affections to his child's welfare manifested, let him say what he will as to the want of love to him, while I see this, he must excuse me if I do not believe him, when he says he has no love for him. Just so is it in this case, a man says I do not assent to the being, necessity, or excellency of Jesus Christ; yet, in the mean time, his soul is filled with cares and fears about securing his interest in him, he is found panting and thirsting for him with vehement desires, there is nothing in all the world would give him such joy, as to be well assured of a saving interest in him; while it is thus with any man, let him say or think what he will of his assent, it is manifest by this he does truly and heartily assent, and there can be no better proof of it than these real effects produced by it.

SECONDLY, But if these, and other objections were never so fully answered for the clearing of the assumption, yet it often falls out, that believers are afraid to draw the conclusion; and that fear partly arises from,

FIRST, The weighty importance of this matter.

SECONDLY, The sense of the deceitfulness of their own hearts.

FIRST, The conclusion is of infinite importance to them, it is the everlasting happiness of their souls, than which nothing is, or can be of greater weight upon their spirits: things in which we are most deeply concerned, are not lightly and hastily received by us: it seems so great and so good, that we are still apt (if there be any room for it) to suspect the truth and certainty thereof, as never being sure enough.

Thus when the women that were the first messengers and witnesses of Christ's resurrection, Luke 24:10, 11. came and told the disciples those wonderful and comfortable tidings, it is said, "That their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not." They thought it was too good to be true; too great to be hastily received; so it is in this case.

SECONDLY, The sense they have of the deceitfulness of their own hearts, and the daily workings of hypocrisy there, makes them afraid to conclude in so great a point as this is.

They know that very many daily cozen and cheat themselves in this matter; they know also that their own hearts are full of falseness and deceit; they find them so in their daily observations of them; and what if they should prove so in this? Why then they are lost forever! They also know there is not the like danger in their fears and jealousies, that would be in their vain confidences and presumptions; by the one, they are only deprived of their present comfort, but by the other, they would be ruined forever: and therefore chose rather to dwell with their own fears (though they be uncomfortable companions) than run the danger of so great a mistake, which would be infinitely more fatal. And this being the common case of most Christians, it follows that there must be many more believers in the world than do think, or dare conclude themselves to be such.

Inference 4. If the right receiving of Jesus Christ, be true, saving, and justifying faith, then those that have the least, and lowest degree and measure of saving faith, have cause forever to admire the bounty and riches of the grace of God to them therein.

If you have received never so little of his bounty by the hand of providence, in the good things of this life, yet if he have given you any measure of true saving faith, he has dealt bountifully indeed with you: this mercy alone is enough to balance all other wants and inconveniences of this life, "poor in the world, rich in faith," James 2:5. O, let your hearts take in the full sense of this bounty of God to you; say with the apostle, Ephesians 1:3. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" and you will in this one mercy, find matter enough of praise and thanksgiving, wonder and admiration to your dying day, yes, to all eternity: for, do but consider,

FIRST, The smallest measure of saving faith which is found in any of the people of God, receives Jesus Christ; and in receiving him, what mercy is there which the believing soul does not receive in him, and with him? Romans 8:32.

O believer, though the arms of your faith be small and weak, yet they embrace a great Christ, and receive the richest gift that ever God bestowed upon the world: no sooner are you become a believer, but Christ is in you the hope of glory; and you have authority to become a son or daughter of God; you have the broad seal of Heaven to confirm your title and claim to the privileges of adoption, for "to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." [To as many] be they strong, or be they weak, provided they really receive Christ by faith; there is authority or power given, so that it is no act of presumption in them to say, God is our Father, Heaven is our inheritance. O precious faith! the treasures of ten thousand worlds cannot purchase such privileges as these: all the crowns and scepters of the earth, sold at full value, are no price for such mercies.

SECONDLY, The least degree of saving faith brings the soul into a state of perfect and full justification. For if it receives Jesus Christ, it must needs therefore in him, and with him, receive a free, full, and final pardon of sin: the least measure of faith receives remission for the greatest sins. "By him all that believe are justified from all things," Acts 13:39. It unites your soul with Christ, and then, as the necessary consequent of that union, there is no condemnation, Romans 8:1, not one condemnation, how many soever our sins have been.

THIRDLY, The least measure or degree of saving faith, is a greater mercy than God has bestowed, or ever will bestow upon many that are far above you in outward respects: All men have not faith: nay, it is but a remnant among men that believe. Few of the nobles and potentates of the world have such a gift as this: they have houses and lands, yes, crowns and scepters, but no faith, no Christ, no pardon; they have authority to rule over men, but no authority to become the sons of God, 1 Corinthians 1:26, 27.

Say therefore in your most debased, straitened, afflicted condition, "Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you."

FOURTHLY, The least degree of saving faith is more than all the power of nature can produce. There must be a special revelation of the arm of the Lord in that work, Isaiah 53:1. Believers are not "born of the flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God," John 1:12, 13. All believing motions towards Christ, are the effects of the Father's drawing, John 6:44. A glorious and irresistible power goes forth from God to produce it, whence it is called "the faith of the operation of God," Colossians 2:12.

So then, let not believers despise the day of small things, or overlook that great and infinite mercy which is enrapt up in the least degree of saving faith.

Inference 5. Learn hence the impossibility of their salvation, who neither know the nature, nor enjoy the means of saving faith.

My soul pities and mourns over the infidel world. Ah! what will become of the millions of poor unbelievers! there is but one door of salvation, namely, Christ; and but one key of faith to open that door: and as that key was never given to the Heathen world: so it is laid aside, or taken away from the people by their cruel guides, all over the Popish world; were you among them, you should hear nothing else pressed as necessary to your salvation but a blind, implicit faith, to believe as the church believes; that is, to believe they know not what.

To believe as the pope believes; that is as an infidel believes, for so they confess he may be, and though there be such a thing as an explicit faith sometimes spoken of among them, yet it is very sparingly discoursed, very falsely described, and exceedingly slighted by them as the merest trifle in the world.

FIRST, It is but sparingly discoursed of: they love not to accustom the people's ears to such a doctrine; one of themselves confesses that there is so deep a silence of explicit, particular faith in the Romish church, that you may find many everywhere, that believe no more of these things than Heathen philosophers.

SECONDLY, When it is preached or written of, it is falsely described: for they place the whole nature and essence of justifying and saving faith in a naked assent, which the devils have as well as men, James 2:19. No more than this is pressed upon the people at any time, as necessary to their salvation.

THIRDLY, And even this particular explicit faith, when it is spoken or written of, is exceedingly slighted. I think if the devil himself were in the pulpit, he could hardly tell how to bring men to a more low and slight esteem of faith; to represent it more as a very trifle, or a quite needless thing, than these his agents have done. Some say if a man believe with a particular explicit faith, that is if he actually assent to the scripture-truths once in a year, it is enough. Yes, and others think it too much to oblige people to believe once in twelve months; and, for their ease, tell them, if they believe once in twelve years it is sufficient; and, lest this should be too great a task, others affirm, that if it be done but once in their whole life, and that at the point of death too, it is enough, especially for the rude and common people. Good God! what a doctrine is here! It was a saying long ago of Gregory (as I remember,) A wicked minister is the devil's gooshawk, that goes a birding for Hell; and O what game have these hawks of Hell among such numerous flocks of people! O, bless God while you live for your deliverance from popery; and see that you prize the gospel, and means of grace you enjoy at an higher rate, lest God bring you once more under that yoke, which neither you nor your fathers could bear.


Second use for examination

Does saving faith consist in a due and right receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ? Then let me persuade you to examine yourselves in this great point of faith. Reflect solemnly upon the transactions that have been between Christ and your souls; think close on this subject of meditation.

If all you were worth in the world lay in one precious stone, and that stone were to be tried by the skillful Lapidary, whether it were true or false, whether it would fly or endure under the smart stroke of his hammer, sure your thoughts could not be unconcerned about the issue. Why all that you are worth in both worlds depends upon the truth of your faith which is now to be tried.

O therefore read not these lines with a running, careless eye, but seriously ponder the matter before you. You would be reluctant to put to sea, though it were but to cross the channel, in a rotten leaky bottom: And will you dare to venture into the ocean of eternity in a false rotten faith! God forbid. You know the Lord is coming to try every man's faith as by fire, and that we must stand or fall forever with the sincerity or hypocrisy of our faith. Surely, you can never be too exact and careful about that, on which your whole estate depends, and that for ever.

Now there are three things upon which we should have a very tender and watchful eye, for the discovery of the sincerity of our faith, and they are,

The Antecedents of faith.

The Concomitants of faith.

The Consequents of faith.

As these are, so we must judge and reckon our faith to be. And, accordingly, they furnish us with three general marks or trials of faith.

FIRST, If you would discern the sincerity of your faith, examine whether those antecedents, and preparative works of the spirit, were ever found in your souls, which use to introduce and usher it into the souls of God's elect: Such are illumination, conviction, self-despair, and earnest cries to God.

FIRST, Illumination is a necessary antecedent to faith: You cannot believe until God has opened your eyes to see your sin, your misery by sin, and your remedy in Jesus Christ alone: You find this act of the Spirit to be the first, in order both of nature and time, and introductive to all the rest, Acts 26:18. "To turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God." As faith without works (which must be a consequent to it) is dead, so faith without light, which must be an antecedent to it, is blind: Faith is the hand by which Christ is received, but knowledge is the eye by which that hand is directed.

Well then, has God opened your eyes to see sin and misery in another manner than ever you saw them before? For certainly, if God has opened your eyes by saving illumination, you will find as great a difference between your former and present apprehensions of sin and danger, as between the painted lion upon the wall or a sign-post, and the real living lion that meets you roaring in the way.

SECONDLY, Conviction is an antecedent to believing: Where this goes not before, no faith can follow after: The Spirit first convinces of sin, then of righteousness, John 16:8. So Mark 1:15. "Repent you, and believe the gospel:" Believe it, O man! that breast of your must be wounded, that vain and frothy heart of your must be pierced and stung with conviction, sense, and sorrow for sin: You must have some sick days, and restless nights for sin, if ever you rightly close with Christ by faith. It is true, there is much difference found in the strength, depth, and continuance of conviction, and spiritual troubles in converts; but sure it is, the child of faith is not ordinarily born without some pangs. Conviction is the application of that light which God makes to shine in our minds, to our particular case and condition by the conscience; and sure, when men come to see their miserable and sad estate by a true light, it cannot but wound them, and that to the very heart.

THIRDLY, Self-despair, or a total and absolute loss in ourselves about deliverance, and the way of escape, either by ourselves, or any other mere creature, does, and must go before faith.

So it was with those believers, Acts 2:37. "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" They are the words of men at a total loss: It is the voice of poor distressed souls, that saw themselves in misery, but knew not, saw not, nor could devise any way of escape from it, by anything they could do for themselves, or any other creature for them: And hence the apostle uses that emphatic word, Galatians 3:23. συγκεκλεισμινοι, that is shut up to the faith, that is as men besieged and distressed in a garrison in a time of storm, when the enemy pours in upon them through the breaches, and overpowers them: There is but one sally-port or gate, at which they can escape, and to that they all throng, as despairing of life, if they take any other course. Just so do men's convictions besiege them, distress them, beat them off from all their holds and entrenchments, and bring them to a pinching distress in themselves, shutting them up to Christ as the only way to escape. Duties cannot save me, reformation cannot save me; nor angels, nor men can save me; there is no way but one, Christ, or condemnation forever.

I thought once, that a little repentance, reformation, restitution, and a stricter life, might be a way to escape the wrath to come; but I find the bed is too short, and the covering too narrow: All is but loss, dung, dross, in comparison with Jesus Christ; if I trust to those Egyptian reeds, they will not only fail me, but pierce and wound me too: I see no hope within the whole Horizon of sense.

FOURTHLY, Hence come vehement and earnest cries to God for faith, for Christ, for help from Heaven, to transport the soul out of this dangerous condition, to that strong rock of salvation; to bring it out of this furious, stormy sea of trouble, where it is ready to wreck every moment, into that safe and quiet harbor, Christ.

O when a man shall see his misery and danger, and no way to escape but Christ, and that he has no ability himself to come to Christ, to open his heart thus to receive him, but that this work of faith is wholly supernatural, the operation of God; how will the soul return again, and again upon God, with such cries as in Mark 9:24. "Lord, help my unbelief?" "Lord, enable me to come to Christ; give me Christ or I perish forever; What profit is there in my blood? Why should I die in the sight and presence of a Savior? O Lord, it is your own work, a most glorious work: Reveal your arm in this work upon my soul, I pray you; give me Christ, if you deny me bread? give me faith, if you deny me breath. It is more necessary that I believe, than that I live."

O Reader, reflect upon the days and nights that are past, the places where you have been conversant: Where are the bed-sides, or the secret corners where you have besieged Heaven with such cries? If God have thus enlightened, convinced, distressed your soul, and thus set you a mourning after Christ, it will be one good sign that faith is come into your soul; for here are certainly the harbingers and forerunners of it, that ordinarily make way for faith into the souls of men.

SECONDLY, If you would be satisfied of the sincerity and truth of your faith, then examine what concomitants it is attended with in your souls. I mean, what frames and tempers your souls were in, at that time when you think you received Christ. For certainly, in those that receive Christ, (excepting those into whose hearts God has in a more still and insensible way infused faith early, by his blessing upon pious education) such concomitant frames of spirit may be remarked as these following.

FIRST, The heart is deeply serious, and as much in earnest in this matter, as ever it was, or can be, about anything in the world. This you see in that example of the gawler, Acts 16:29. "He came in trembling and astonished:" It is the most solemn and important matter that ever the soul had before it in this world, or ever shall, or can have: How much are the hearts of men affected in their outward straits and distresses, about the concernments of the body? Their hearts are not a little concerned in such questions as these, "What shall I eat? what shall I drink?" wherewithal shall I and mine be fed and clothed? but certainly the straits that souls are in about salvation, must be allowed to be greater than these; and such questions as that of the jailor's, "Sirs! What must I do to be saved?" make deeper impressions upon the heart, than what shall I eat or drink? Some indeed have their thoughts sinking deeper into these things than others: These thoughts lie with different degrees of weight upon men: but all are most solemnly and awfully concerned about their condition: All frothiness and frolics are gone, and the heart settles itself in the deepest earnest about its eternal state.

SECONDLY, The heart that receives Jesus Christ is in a frame of deep humiliation and self-abasement. O, when a man begins to apprehend the first approaches of grace, pardon, and mercy by Jesus Christ to his soul: When a soul is convinced of its utter unworthiness and desert of Hell; and can scarce expect anything else from the just and holy God but damnation, how do the first dawnings of mercy melt and humble them! "O Lord, what am I that you should feed me, and preserve me! that you should but for a few years spare me and forbear me! but that ever Jesus Christ should love me, and give himself for me; that such a wretched sinner as I should obtain union with his person, pardon, peace, and salvation by his blood! Lord, whence is this to such a worm as I? and will Christ indeed bestow himself upon me? shall so great a blessing as Christ ever come within the arms of such a soul as mine? will God in very deed be reconciled to me in his Son? what, to me! to such an enemy as I have been! shall my sins which are so many, so horrid, so much aggravated, beyond the sins of most men, be forgiven? O what am I, vile dust? base wretch, that ever God should do this for me!" And how is that scripture fulfilled and made good, Ezekiel 16:63. "That you may remember, and be confounded, and never open your mouth any more, because of your shame, when I am pacified towards you for all that you have done, says the Lord God." Thus, that poor broken-hearted believer stood behind Christ weeping, and washing his feet with tears, as one quite melted down, and overcome with the sense of mercy to such a vile sinner, Luke 7:38.

THIRDLY, The soul that receives Jesus Christ is in a weary condition, restless, and full of disquietness, neither able to bear the burden of sin, nor knowing how to be discharged from it, except Christ will give it ease, Matthew 11:28. "Come unto me," that is, believe in me, "you that are weary and heavy laden:" If they do not look into their own souls, they know there is no safety, and if they do, there is no comfort. O! the burdensome sense of sin overweighs them; they are ready to fall, to sink under it.

FOURTHLY, The soul that rightly receives Christ, is not only in a weary, but in a longing condition: never did the deer pant more earnestly for the water-brooks: never did the hireling desire the shadow: never did a condemned person long for a pardon more than the soul longs after Jesus Christ. O, said David, that one would give me of the water of the well of Bethlehem to drink. O, says the poor humbled sinner, that one would give me of the opened fountain of the blood of Christ to drink! O for one drop of that precious blood! O for one encouraging smile from Christ! O now were ten thousand worlds at my command, and Christ to be bought, how freely would I lay them all down to purchase him! but he is the gift of God. O that God would give me Christ, if I should go in rags, and hunger and thirst all my days in this world!

FIFTHLY, The soul in the time of its closing with, or receiving Christ, is in a state of conflict: It hangs between hopes and fears, encouragements and discouragements, which occasions many a sad stand and pause in the way of Christ; sometimes the number and nature of its sins discourage it, then the riches and freeness of the grace of Christ erects his hopes again: there is little hope, says unbelief; nay, it is utterly impossible, says Satan, that ever such a wretch as you should find mercy; now the hands hang down. O but then there is a necessity, an absolute necessity; I have not the choice of two, but am shut up to one way of deliverance; others have found mercy, and the invitation is to all that are weary, and to all that are athirst: he says, him that comes to him, he will never cast out: now new hopes inspire the soul, and the hands that did hang down are strengthened.

These are the concomitant frames that accompany faith.

3. Mark. Lastly, Examine the consequents and effects of faith, if you would be satisfied of the truth and sincerity of it: And such are,

FIRST, Evangelical meltings, and sincere thawings of the heart under the apprehensions of grace and mercy: Zechariah 12:10. "They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn."

SECONDLY, Love to Christ, his ways and people, Galatians 5:6. Faith works by love, that is represents the love of God, and then makes use of the sweetness of it by way of argument, to constrain the soul to all acts of obedience, where it may testify the reality of its love to God and Christ.

THIRDLY, Heart-purity, Acts 15:9. "Purifying the hearts by faith:" It does not only cleanse the hands but the heart. No principle in man, besides faith, can do this: Morality may hide corruption, but faith only purifies the heart from it.

FOURTHLY, Obedience to the commands of Christ, Romans 16:26. The very name of faith is called upon obedience: for it accepts Christ as Lord, and urges upon the soul the most powerful arguments in the world to draw it to obedience.

In a word, let the poor doubting believer, that questions his faith, reflect upon those things that are unquestionable in his own experience, which being well considered, will greatly tend to his satisfaction in this point.

It is very doubtful to you whether you believe, but yet in the mean time, it may be past doubt, (being a matter of clear experience) that you have been deeply convinced of sin, struck off from all carnal props and refuges, made willing to accept Jesus Christ upon what terms soever you might enjoy him. You doubt whether Christ be yours, but it is past doubt that you have a most high and precious esteem of Christ, that you heartily long for him, that you prize and love all, whether persons or things, that bear his image: that nothing in the world would please your hearts like a transformation into his likeness: that you had rather your souls should be filled with his Spirit, than your houses with gold and silver. It is doubtful whether Christ be yours, but it is past doubt that one smile from Christ, one token of his love would do you more good than all the honors and smiles of the world; and nothing so grieves you, as your grieving him by sin does. You dare not say that you have received him, nor can you deny but that you have had many sick days and nights for him; that you have gone into many secret places with yearning affections after him. Whether he be yours or not, you cannot tell; but that you are resolved to be his, that you can tell. Whether he will save you is but a doubt, but that you resolve to lie at his feet, and wait only on him, and never look to another for salvation, is no doubt.

Well, well; poor pensive soul, if it be so, arise, lift up your dejected head, take your own Christ into your arms. These are undoubted signs of a real closure with Christ; you make yourself poor, and yet have great riches: Such things as these are not found in them that despise and reject Christ by unbelief.


3. USE of Exhortation

3. Use. This point is likewise very improveable by way of exhortation, and that both to

Unbelievers and Believers.

FIRST, To unbelievers, who from hence must be pressed, as ever they expect to see the face of God in peace, to receive Jesus Christ as he is now offered to them in the gospel. This is the very scope of the gospel; I shall therefore press it by three great considerations, namely,

FIRST, What is in Christ whom you are to receive.

SECONDLY, What is in the offer of Christ by the gospel.

THIRDLY, What is in the rejecting of that offer.

FIRST Motive

FIRST, Consider well what is in Christ, whom I persuade you this day to receive: Did you know what is in Christ, you would never neglect or reject him as you do: For,

FIRST, "God is in Christ," 2 Corinthians 5:19. the Deity has chosen to dwell in his flesh; he is "God manifest in flesh," 1 Timothy 3:16. a Godhead dwelling in flesh is the world's wonder; so that in receiving Christ, you receive God himself.

SECONDLY, The authority of God is in Christ, Exodus 23:21. "My name is in him: Him has God the Father sealed," John 6:27. he has the commission, the great seal of Heaven to redeem and save you. All power in Heaven and earth is given to him, Matthew 28:18. he comes in his Father's name to you, as well as in his own name.

THIRDLY, The wisdom of God is in Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:24. "Christ the wisdom of God," yes, "in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge," Colossians 2:3. Never did the wisdom of God display itself before the eyes of angels and men as it has done in Christ. The "angels desire to look into it," 1 Peter 1:12. yet they are not so much concerned in the project and design of this wisdom in redemption as you are.

FOURTHLY, The fullness of the Spirit is in Christ; yes, it fills him so as it never did, nor will fill any creature, John 3:34. "God gives not the Spirit by measure to him:" all others have their limits, stints, and measures; some more, some less; but the Spirit is in Christ without measure. O how lovely and desirable are those men that have a large measure of the Spirit in them! but he is anointed with the Spirit of holiness above all his fellows, Psalm 45:2, 7. Whatever grace is found in all the saints, which make? them desirable and lovely, wisdom in one, faith in another, patience in a third; they all center in Christ as the rivers do in the sea, quζ faciunt divisa beatum, in hoc mixta fluunt.

FIFTHLY, The righteousness of God is in Christ, by which only a poor guilty sinner can be justified before God, 2 Corinthians 5:21. we are "made the righteousness of God in him:" he is ιηεη φψχπε "the Lord our righteousness," Jeremiah 23:6. that is " the author of our righteousness," or the Lord who justifies us; by that name he will be known, and called by his people, than which none can be sweeter.

SIXTHLY, The love of God is in Christ; yes, the very yearning affections of divine love are in him: What is Christ, but the love of God enrapt up in flesh and blood? 1 John 4:9, 10. "In this was manifested the love of God towards us:" and herein is love, that God sent his Son; this is the highest flight that ever divine love made; and higher than this it cannot mount. O love, unparalleled and admirable!

Seventhly, The mercies and compassions of God are all in Christ, Jude, verse 21. Mercy is the thing that poor sinners want, it is that they cry for at the last gasp; it is the only thing that can do them good. O what would they give to find mercy in that great day? Why, if you receive Christ, you shall with him receive mercy; but out of him there is no mercy to be expected from the hands of God; for God will never exercise mercy to the prejudice of his justice; and it is in Christ that justice and mercy meet and embrace each other.

Eighthly, To conclude, The salvation of God is in Christ, Acts 4:12. "Neither is there salvation in any other." Christ is the door of salvation, and faith is the key that opens that door to men. If you therefore believe not, that is if you so receive not Jesus Christ, as God has offered him, you exclude yourselves from all hopes of salvation. The devils have as much ground to expect salvation as you. You see what is in Christ to induce you to receive him.


Motive 2

Next, I beseech you, consider what there is in the offer of Christ to sinners, to induce you to receive him. Consider well to whom and how Christ is offered in the gospel.

FIRST, To whom is he offered; not to the fallen angels, but to you; they lie in chains of darkness, Jude, verse 6. as he took not their nature, so he designs not their recovery; and therefore will have no treaty at all with them: but he is offered to you, creatures of an inferior rank and order by nature; nor is he offered to the damned, the treaty of peace is ended with them: Christ will never make them another tender of salvation; nor is he offered to millions as good as you, now living in the world. The sound of Christ and salvation is not come to their ears, but he is offered to you by the special favor and bounty of Heaven; and will you not receive him? Oh! then how will the devils, the damned, and the Heathen upbraid your folly! and say, had we had one such tender of mercy, of which you have had thousands, we would never have been now in this place of torments.

SECONDLY, Consider how Christ is offered to you, and you shall find that he is offered,

1. Freely, as the gift of God, to your souls; you are not to purchase him, but only to receive him, Isaiah 55:1. "Ho, every one that thirsts, come you to the waters, and he who has no money, let him come," etc.

2. Christ is offered importunately, by repeated entreaties, 2 Corinthians 5:20. "As though God did beseech you, we pray you in Christ's stead, be reconciled to God." O! what amazing condescension is here in the God of mercy! God now beseeches you, will you not yield to the entreaties of your God? O then what will you say for yourself, when God will not hear you, when you shall entreat and cry for mercy? Which brings us to

Motive 3. Consider the sin and danger that there is in refusing or neglecting the present offers of Christ in the gospel, and surely there is much sin in it; the very malignity of sin, and the sum of all misery lies here; for in refusing Christ,

1. You put the greatest contempt and slight upon all the attributes of God that is possible for a creature to do: God has made his justice, his mercy, his wisdom, and all his attributes to shine in their brightest glory in Christ. Never was there such a display of the glory of God made to the world in any other way.

O then, what is it to reject and despise Jesus Christ, but to offer the greatest affront to the glory of God that it is possible for men to put upon it?

2. You hereby frustrate and evacuate the very design and importance of the gospel to yourselves; you "receive the grace of God in vain," 2 Corinthians 6:1. As good, yes, better had it been for you, that Christ had never come into the world, or, if he had, that your lot had fallen in the dark places of the earth, where you had never heard his name; yes, good had it been for that man if he had never been born.

3. Hereby a man murders his own soul. "I said therefore unto you, that you shall die in your sins; for if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins," John 8:24. Unbelief is self-murder; you are guilty of the blood of your own souls; life and salvation were offered you, and you rejected them. Yes,

4. The refusing of Christ by unbelief will aggravate your damnation above all others that perish in ignorance of Christ. O, it will be more tolerable for Heathens than for you; the greatest measures of wrath are reserved to punish the worst of sinners; and among sinners, none will be found worse than unbelievers.

SECONDLY, To believers, this point is very useful to persuade them to divers excellent duties; among which, I shall single out two principal ones, namely,

1. To bring up their faith of acceptance, to the faith of assurance.

2. To bring up their conduct to the principles and rules of faith.

1. You that have received Jesus Christ truly, give yourselves no rest until you are fully satisfied that you have done so; acceptance brings you to Heaven hereafter, but assurance will bring Heaven into your souls now. O, what a life of delight and pleasure does the assured believer live! What pleasure is it to him to look back and consider where he once was, and where he now is? To look forward, and consider where he now is, and where shortly he shall be! I was in my sins, I am now in Christ; I am in Christ now, I shall be with Christ, and that forever, after a few days. I was upon the brink of Hell, I am now upon the very borders of Heaven; I shall be in a very little while among the innumerable company of angels and glorified saints, bearing part with them in the song of Moses, and of the Lamb, for evermore.

And why may not you that have received Christ, receive the comfort of your union with him? There be all the grounds and helps of assurance furnished to your hand; there is a real union between Christ and your souls, which is the very ground-work of assurance. You have the scriptures before you which contain the signs of faith, and the very things within you that answer those signs in the word. So you read, and so, just so, you might feel it in your own hearts, would you attend to your own experience. The Spirit of God is ready to seal you, it is his office and his delight so to do. O therefore, give diligence to this work, attend the study of the scriptures and of your own hearts more, and grieve not the holy Spirit of God, and you may arrive to the very desire of your hearts.

2. Bring up your conduct to the excellent principles and rules of faith; "As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him," Colossians 2:6. Live as you believe; you received Christ sincerely in your first close with him, O maintain the like seriousness and sincerity in all your ways, to the end of your lives: you received him entirely and undividedly at first, let there be no exceptions against any of his commands afterward. You received him exclusively to all others, see that you watch against all self-righteousness and self-conceitedness now, and mingle nothing of your own with his blood, whatever gifts or enlargements in duty God shall give you afterwards.

You received him advisedly at first, weighing and considering the self-denying terms upon which he was offered to you; O show that it was real, and that you see no cause to repent the bargain, whatever you shall meet with in the ways of Christ and duty afterwards: convince the world of your constancy and cheerfulness in all your sufferings for Christ, that you are still of the same mind you were, and that Christ, with his cross, Christ, with a prison, Christ, with the greatest afflictions, is worthy of all acceptance: "As you have received him, so walk in him." Let him be as sweet, as lovely, as precious to you now, as he was in the first moment you received him; yes, let your love to him, delights in him, and self-denial for him, increase with your acquaintance with him, day by day.


Use: Lastly, I will close all with a few words of direction to all that are made willing to receive the Lord Jesus Christ; and sure it is but needful that help were given to poor Christians: in this matter, it is a time of trouble, fear, and great temptation; mistakes are easily made of dangerous consequence; attend heedfully, therefore, to a few directions.

Direction 1. In your receiving Christ, Beware you do not mistake the means for the end. Many do so, but see you do not. Prayer, sermons, reformations, are means to bring you to Christ, but they are not Christ; to close with those duties is one thing, and to close with Christ is another thing. If I go into a boat, my design is not to dwell there, but to be carried to the place whereon I desire to be landed: so it must be in this case, all your duties must land you upon Christ; they are means to bring you to Christ.

Direction 2. See that you receive not Christ for a present help, but for your everlasting portion. Many do so; they will inquire after Christ, pray for Christ, cast themselves (in their way) upon Christ, and the satisfaction of his blood, when the efficacy and terror of conscience is upon them, and they feel the sting of guilt within them; but as soon as the storm is over, and the rod that conscience shook over them laid by, there is no more talk of Christ then: alas! it was not Christ, but quietness that they sought; beware of mistaking peace for Christ.

Direction 3. In receiving Christ, come empty-handed unto him: "believing on him who justifies the ungodly," Romans 4:5. and know that the deepest sense of your own vileness, emptiness, and unworthiness, is the best frame of heart that can accompany you to Christ. Many persons stand off from Christ for want of fit qualifications; they are not prepared for Christ as they should be, that is they would not come naked and empty, but have something to commend them to the Lord Jesus for acceptance. O! this is the pride of men's hearts, and the snare of the devil. Let him that has no money come: You are not to come to Christ because you are qualified, but that you may be qualified with whatever you want; and the best qualification you can bring with you, is a deep sense that you have no worth nor excellency at all in you.

Direction 4. In receiving Christ, beware of dangerous delays. O follow on that work until it be finished. You read of some that are almost persuaded, and of others not far from the kingdom of God; O take heed of what the prophet says, Hosea 13:13. Delays here are full of danger, life is uncertain, so are means of grace too. The man-slayer needed no motives to quicken his flight to the city of refuge.

Direction 5. See that you receive all Christ, with all your heart. To receive all Christ, is to receive his person clothed with all his offices; and to receive him with all your heart, is to receive him into your understanding, will, and affections, Acts 8:37. As there is nothing in Christ that may be refused, so there is nothing in you from which he must be excluded.

Direction 6. Lastly, Understand that the opening of your hearts to receive the Lord Jesus Christ, is not a work done by any power of your own, but the arm of the Lord is revealed therein, Isaiah 53:1. It is therefore your duty and interest to be daily at the feet of God, pouring out your souls to him in secret, for abilities to believe. And so much, as to our actual reception of Christ.

Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.




Setting forth the Believer's Fellowship with CHRIST, the next End of his Application to them

PSALM 45:7, "Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows."

THE method of grace in uniting souls with Jesus Christ, has been opened in the former discourses; thus does the Spirit, (whose office it is) make application of Christ to God's elect: The result and next fruit whereof is communion with Christ in his graces and benefits. Our mystical union is the very ground-work and foundation of our sweet, soul-enriching communion and participation of spiritual privileges; we are first engrafted into Christ, and then suck the sap and fatness of the root: first married to the person of Christ, then endowed and instated in the privileges and benefits of Christ. This is my proper work to open at this time, and from this scripture.

"The words read, are a part of that excellent song of love, that heavenly Epithalamium, wherein the spiritual espousals of Christ and the church are figuratively and very elegantly celebrated and shadowed. The subject matter of this psalm is the very same with the whole book of the Canticles;" and in this psalm, under the figure of king Solomon, and the daughter of Egypt, whom he espoused, the spiritual espousals of Christ and the church are set forth and represented to us. Among many rapturous and elegant expressions in praise of this glorious bridegroom, Christ, this is one, which you have before you: "God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows:" that is enriched and filled you, in a singular and peculiar manner, with the fullness of the Spirit, whereby you are consecrated to your office: and by reason whereof you out-shinest and excel all the saints, who are your fellows or copartners in these graces. So that in these words you have two parts; namely, FIRST, The saints' dignity, and SECONDLY, Christ's pre-eminency:

FIRST, The saints' dignity, which consists in this, that they are Christ's fellows. The Hebrew word is very full and copious, and is translated "comsorts, companions, copartners, partakers: or, as ours read it, fellows:" that is such as are partakers with him in the anointing of the Spirit, who do, in their measure, receive the same Spirit, every Christian being anointed, modo sibi proportionato, with the same grace, and dignified with the same titles, 1 John 2:27. Revelation 1:6. Christ and the saints are in common one with another: Does the spirit of holiness dwell in him? so it does in them too. Is Christ King and Priest? Why, so are they too by the grace of union with him. He has made us kings and priests to God, and his Father. This is the saints' dignity to be Christ's fellows, consorts, or copartners; so that look, whatever spiritual grace or excellency is in Christ, it is not appropriated to himself, but they do share with him: for indeed he was filled with the fullness of the Spirit, for their sakes and use: as the sun is filled with light, not to shine to itself, but to others; so is Christ with grace. And therefore, some translate the text, not prζ consortibus, above your fellows; but propter consortes, for your fellows. Making Christ the first receptacle of grace, who first and immediately is filled from the fountain, the Godhead: but it is for his people, who receive and derive from him, according to their proportion.

This is a great truth, and the dignity of the saints lies chiefly in their partnership with Christ, though our translation, above your fellows, suits best, both with the importance of the word, and scope of the place.

SECONDLY, But then, whatever dignity is ascribed herein to the saints, there is, and still must be, a pre-eminency acknowledged, and ascribed to Christ: if they are anointed with the Spirit of grace, much more abundantly is Christ: "God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows."

By the oil of gladness understand the Spirit of holiness, compared here with oil, of which there was a double use under the law, namely, a civil and a sacred use. It had a sacred and a solemn use, in the inauguration and consecration of the Jewish kings and high-priests; it had also a civil, and common use, for the anointing their bodies, to make their limbs more agile, expedite, and nimble; to make the face shine, for it gave a luster, freshness, and liveliness to the countenance. It was also used in lamps, to feed and maintain the fire, and give them light. These were the principal uses of oil. Now, upon all these accounts, it excellently expresses, and figuratively, represents to us the Spirit of grace poured forth upon Christ and his people. For,

FIRST, By the Spirit poured out upon him, he was prepared for, and consecrated to his offices, he was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, Acts 10:38.

SECONDLY, As this precious oil runs down from Christ, the head, to the borders of his garments, I mean, as it is shed upon believers, so it exceedingly beautifies their faces, and makes them shine with glory.

THIRDLY, It renders them apt, expedite, and ready to every good work: Non tardat uncta rota.

FOURTHLY, It kindles and maintains the flame of divine love in their souls, and, like a lamp, enlightens their minds in the knowledge of spiritual things; the anointing teaches them.

"And this oil is here called the oil of gladness, because it is the cause of all joy and gladness to them that are anointed with it:" Oil was used (as you heard before) at the instalment of sovereign princes, which was the day of the gladness of their hearts; and, among the common people, it was liberally used at all their festivals, but never upon their days of mourning. Whence it becomes excellently expressive of the nature and use of the Spirit of grace, who is the cause and author of all joy in believers, John 17:13.

And with this oil of gladness is Christ said to be anointed above his fellows, that is to have a far greater share of the Spirit of grace than they: "For to every one of the saints is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ," Ephesians 4:7. But to him the Spirit is not given by measure, John 3:34. "It has pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell," Colossians 1:19. and "of his fullness we all receive grace for grace," John 1:16. The saints partake with him, and through him in the same Spirit of grace, for which reason they are his fellows; but all the grace poured out upon believers comes exceeding short of that which God has poured out upon Jesus Christ. The words being thus opened, give us this note,

DOCTRINE: That all true believers have a real communion or fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ

From the saints' union with Christ, there does naturally and immediately result a most sweet and blessed communion and fellowship with him in graces and spiritual privileges, Ephesians 1:3. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (or things) in Christ: in giving us his Son, he freely gives us all things," Romans 8:32. So in 1 Corinthians 1:30. "Of him are you in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption." And once more, 1 Corinthians 3:22, 23. "All are yours, and you are Christ's." What Christ is and has is theirs by communication to them, or improvement for them; and this is very evidently implied in all those excellent scripture metaphors, by which our union with Christ is figured and shadowed out to us; as the marriage-union between a man and his wife, Ephesians 5:31, 32. You know that this conjugal union gives the wife interest in the estate and honors of the husband, be she never so meanly descended in herself. The natural union between the head and members of the body, by which also the mystical union of Christ and believers is set forth, 1 Corinthians 12:12. excellently illustrates this fellowship or communion between them, for from Christ "the whole body fitly joined together, and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body," as the apostle speaks, Ephesians 4:16. The union between the engraft and the stock, which is another emblem of our union with Christ, John 15:1. imports, in like manner, this communion or partnership between Christ and the saints; for no sooner does the engraft take hold of the stock, but the vital sap of the stock is communicated to the engraft, and both live by one and the same juice.

Now, that the scope of this discourse be not mistaken, let the reader know that I am not here treating of the saint's communion or fellowship with God in his duties, as in prayer, hearing, sacraments, etc. but of that interest which believers have in the good things of Christ, by virtue of the mystical union between them through faith: there is a twofold communion of the saints with Christ.

The first is an act.

The second is a state.

There is an actual fellowship or communion the saints have with Christ in holy duties, wherein Christians let forth their hearts to God by desires, and God lets forth his comforts and refreshments again into their hearts; they open their mouths wide, and he fills them: this communion with God is the joy and comfort of a believer's life, but I am not to speak of that here. It is not any act of communion, but the state of communion, from which all acts of communion flow, and upon which they all depend, that I am now to treat of; which is nothing else but the joint interest that Christ and the saints have in the same things; as when a ship, an house, or estate, is among many partners, or joint heirs, every one of them has a right to it, and interest in it, though some of them have a greater, and others a lesser part. So it is between Christ and his people; there is a κοινωνια, that is a fellowship or joint interest between them, upon which ground they are called co-heirs with Christ, Romans 8:17. This communion or participation in Christ's benefits, depends upon the hypostatic union of our nature, and the mystical union of our persons with the Son of God; in the first he partakes with us, in the second we partake with him; the former is the remote, the latter the next cause thereof.

In the explication of this point, I shall speak to these four things:

1. What are those things in which Christ and believers have fellowship.

2. By what means they come to have such a fellowship with Christ.

3. How great a dignity this is to have fellowship with Jesus Christ.

4. And then apply the whole in divers practical inferences.

FIRST, What are those things in which Christ and believers have fellowship, to which I must speak both negatively and positively.

1. Negatively, The saints have no fellowship with Jesus Christ in those things that belong to him as God; such as his consubstantiality, co-equality, and co-eternity with the Father. It is the blasphemy of the wicked Familists to talk of being godded into God, and christed into Christ. Neither men nor angels partake in these things; they are the proper and incommunicable glory of the Lord Jesus.

2. The saints have no communion or fellowship in the honor and glory of his mediatory Works, namely, his satisfaction to God, or redemption of the elect. It is true, we have the benefit and fruit of his mediation and satisfaction: his righteousness also is imputed to us for our personal justification, but we share not in the least with Christ in the glory of this work; nor have we an inherent righteousness in us as Christ has; nor can we justify and save others as Christ does: we have nothing to do with his peculiar honor and praise in these things. Though we have the benefit of being saved, we may not pretend to the honor of being Saviors, as Christ is to ourselves or others. "Christ's righteousness is not made ours as to its universal value, but as to our particular necessity; nor is it imputed to us as to so many causes of salvation to others, but as to so many subjects to be saved by it ourselves."

SECONDLY, But then there are many glorious and excellent things which are in common between Christ and believers, though in them all he has the pre-eminence; he shines in the fullness of them, as the sun, and we with a borrowed and lesser light, but of the same kind and nature as the stars. Some of these I shall particularly, and briefly unfold in the following particulars.

FIRST, Believers have communion with Christ in his names and titles; they are called Christians from Christ, Ephesians 3:15. from him the whole family in Heaven and earth is named: this is that worthy name the apostle speaks of, James 2:7. He is the Son of God, and they also, by their union with him, have power or authority to become the sons of God, John 1:12. He is the heir of all things, and they are joint-heirs with him, Romans 8:17. He is both King and Priest, and he has made them kings and priests, Revelation 1:6. But they do not only partake in the names and titles, but this communion consists in things as well as titles. And therefore,

SECONDLY, They have communion with him in his righteousness, that is the righteousness of Christ is made theirs, 2 Corinthians 5:21. and he is "the Lord our righteousness," Jeremiah 23:6. It is true, the righteousness of Christ is not inherent in us, as it is in him; but it is ours by imputation, Revelation 4:5, 11. and our union with him is the ground of the imputation of his righteousness to us, 2 Corinthians 5:21. "We are made the righteousness of God in him," Philippians 3:9. for Christ and believers are considered as one person, in construction of law; as a man and his wife, a debtor and surety, are one: and so his payment or satisfaction is in our name, or upon our account.

Now, this is a most inestimable privilege, the very ground of all our other blessings and mercies. O, what a benefit is this to a poor sinner, that owes to God infinitely more than he is ever able to pay, by doing or suffering; to have such a rich treasure of merit as lies in the obedience of Christ, to discharge, in one entire payment, all his debts to the last farthing? "Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness," Isaiah 45:24. even as a poor woman that owes more than she is worth, in one moment is discharged of all her obligations, by her marriage to a wealthy man.

THIRDLY, Believers have communion with Christ in his holiness or sanctification, for of God he is made unto them, not only righteousness, but sanctification also; and as in the former privilege, they have a stock of merit in the blood of Christ to justify them; so here, they have the Spirit of Christ to sanctify them, 1 Corinthians 1:30. and therefore we are said of his fullness to receive "grace for grace," John 1:16. that is say some, grace upon grace, manifold graces, or abundance of grace; or grace for grace, that is, grace answerable to grace: as in the seal and wax, there is line for line, and cut for cut, exactly answerable to each other; or grace for grace, that is, say others, the free grace of God in Christ, for the sanctification or filling of our souls with grace: be it in which sense it will, it shows the communion believers have with Jesus Christ in grace and holiness. Now, holiness is the most precious thing in the world, it is the image of God, and chief excellency of man: it is our evidence for glory, yes, and the first fruits of glory. In Christ dwells the fullness of grace, and from him, our head, it is derived and communicated to us; thus he who sanctifies, and they that are sanctified, are all of one, Hebrews 2:11. You would think it no small privilege to have bags of gold to go to, and enrich yourselves with, and yet that were but a very trifle in comparison to have Christ's righteousness and holiness to go to for your justification and sanctification. More particularly,

FOURTHLY, Believers have communion with Christ in his death; they die with him, Galatians 2:20. "I am crucified with Christ," that is the death of Christ has a real killing and mortifying influence upon the lusts and corruptions of my heart and nature: true it is, he died for sin one way, and we die to sin another way: he died to expiate it, we die to it, when we mortify it: the death of Christ is the death of sin in believers; and this is a very glorious privilege; for the death of sin is the life of your souls; if sin do not die in you by mortification, you must die for sin by eternal damnation. If Christ had not died, the Spirit of God, by which you now mortify the deeds of the body, could not have been given unto you: then you must have lived vassals to your sins, and died at last in your sins; but the fruit, efficacy, and benefit of Christ's death is yours for the killing those sins in you, which else had been your ruin.

FIFTHLY, Believers have communion with Christ in his life and resurrection from the dead; as he rose from the dead, so do they; and that by the power and influence of his vivification and resurrection. It is the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus that makes us free from the law of sin and death, Romans 8:2. Our spiritual life is from Christ, Ephesians 2:1. "And you has he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins:" and hence Christ is said to live in the believer, Galatians 2:20. "Now I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me:" and it is no small privilege to partake of the very life of Christ, which is the most excellent life that ever any creature can live; yet such is the happiness of all the saints, the life of Christ is manifest in them, and such a life as shall never see death.

SIXTHLY, To conclude, believers have fellowship with Jesus Christ in his glory, which they shall enjoy in Heaven with him: they "shall be ever with the Lord," 1 Thessalonians 4:17. and that is not all, (though, as one says, it were a kind of Heaven but to look through the key-hole, and have but a glimpse of Christ's blessed face) but they shall partake of the glory which the Father has given him; for so he speaks, John 17:22, 24. and more particularly, they shall sit with him in his throne, Revelation 3:21. and when he comes to judge the world, he will come to be glorified in the saints, 2 Thessalonians 1:10. So that you may see what glorious and inestimable things are, and will be in common between Christ and the saints. His titles, his righteousness, his holiness, his death, his life, his glory. I do not say that Christ will make any saint equal with him in glory; that is impossible, he will be known from all the saints in Heaven, as the sun is distinguished from the stars; but they shall partake of his glory, and be filled with his joy there; and thus you see what those things are that the saints have fellowship with Christ in.

SECONDLY, Next I would open the way and means by which we come to have fellowship with Jesus Christ in these excellent privileges; and this I shall do briefly in the following positions.


Position 1

FIRST, No man has fellowship with Christ in any special saving privilege by nature, however it be cultivated or improved; but only by faith uniting him to the Lord Jesus Christ; It is not the privilege of our first, but second birth. This is plain from John 1:12, 13. "But to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even as many as believe on his name, who are born not of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God." We are by nature children of wrath, Ephesians 2:3. we have fellowship with Satan in sin and misery: the wild branch has no communication of the sweetness and fatness of a more noble and excellent root until it be engrafted upon it, and have immediate union and coalition with it, John 15:1, 2.

Position 2

Believers themselves have not an equal share one with another, in all the benefits and privileges of their union with Christ, but in some there is an equality, and in others an inequality; according to the measure and gift of Christ, to every one.

In justification they are all equal: the weak and the strong believer are alike justified, because it is one and the same perfect righteousness of Christ, which is applied to the one and to the other, so that there are no different degrees of justification, but all that believe are justified from all things, Acts 13:39. and "there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," Romans 8:1. be they never so weak in faith, or defective in degrees of grace. But there is apparent difference in the measures of their sanctification, some are strong men, and others are babes in Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:1. The faith of some flourishes and grows exceedingly, 2 Thessalonians 1:3. the things that are in others are ready to die, Revelation 3:2. It is a plain case, that there is great variety found in the degrees of grace, and comfort among them that are jointly interested in Christ, and equally justified by him.

Position 3

The saints have not fellowship and communion with Christ, in the fore-mentioned benefits and privileges by one and the same medium, but by various mediums and ways, according to the nature of the benefits, in which they participate.

For instance, they have partnership and communion with Christ, as has been said, in his righteousness, holiness, and glory, but they receive these distinct blessings by divers mediums of communion: we have communion with Christ in his righteousness, by the way of imputation; we partake of his holiness, by the way of infusion; and of his glory in Heaven, by the beatifical vision. Our justification is a relative change, our sanctification a real change, our glorification a perfect change, by redemption from all the remains both of sin and misery.

Thus has the Lord appointed several blessings for believers in Christ, and several channels of conveying them from him to us; by imputed righteousness, we are freed from the guilt of sin: by imparted holiness, we are freed from the dominion of sin, and by our glorification with Christ, we are freed from all the relics and remains both of sin and misery let in by sin upon our natures.

Position 4

That Jesus Christ imparts to all believers, all the spiritual blessings that he is filled with, and withholds none from any that have union with him, be these blessings never so great, or they that receive them never so weak, mean, and contemptible in outward respects, Galatians 3:27. "You are the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ." The salvation that comes by Jesus Christ is stiled the common salvation, Jude 3. and Heaven the inheritance of the saints in light, Colossians 1:12. "There is neither Greek nor Jew, (says the apostle, circumcision, nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free, but Christ is all, and in all," Colossians 3:11. He means, there is no privilege in the one to commend them to God, and no want of anything in the other to debar them from God; let men have or want outward excellencies, as beauty, honor, riches, nobility, gifts of the mind, sweetness of nature, and all such like ornaments, What is that to God? He looks not at these things, but respects them, and communicates his favor to them as they are in Christ: He is all, and in all. The gifts and blessings of the Spirit are given to men as they are in Christ, and without respect to any external differences made in this world among men: hence we find excellent treasures of grace in mean and contemptible persons in the world; poor in the world and rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom; and as all believers, without difference, receive from Christ, so they are not debarred from any blessing that is in Christ: "All is yours, for you are Christ's, 1 Corinthians 3 ult. With Christ God freely gives us all things," Romans 8:32.

Position 5

The communion believers have with Christ, in spiritual benefits, is a very great mystery, far above the understandings of natural men. There are no footsteps of this thing in all the works of creation; therefore the apostle calls it "The unsearchable riches of Christ," Ephesians 3:8. ανεξιχνιασον πλουτον του Χρισου: The word signifies, that which has no footsteps to trace it by: yes, it is so deep a mystery, that the angels themselves stoop down to look into it, 1 Peter 1:12. "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them that love him: but God has revealed them unto us by his Spirit," 1 Corinthians 2:9, 10.

THIRDLY, and lastly, I shall, in a few particulars, open the dignity and excellency of this fruit of our union with Christ, and show you, that a greater glory and honor cannot be put upon man, than to be thus in fellowship with Jesus Christ, John 17:22. "The glory which you gave me, I have given them, that they may be one, as we are one:" And therefore, more particularly, let it be considered,

FIRST, With whom we are associated, even the Son of God; with him that is over all, God blessed for ever. Our association with angels is an high advancement, for angels and saints are fellow-servants in the same family, Revelation 19:10. and through Christ we are come to an innumerable company of angels, Hebrews 12:22. But what is all this to our fellowship with Jesus Christ himself, and that in another manner than angels have? For though Christ be to them an head of dominion, yet not an head of vital influences, as he is to his mystical body the church; this therefore is to them a great mystery, which they greatly affect to study and pry into.

SECONDLY, What we are that are dignified with this title, the fellows or co-partners with Jesus Christ: not only dust by nature, (Dust you are), but sinful dust; such wretched sinners, as, by nature, and the sentence of the law, ought to be associated with devils, and partakers with them of the wrath of the Almighty God to all eternity.

THIRDLY, The benefits we are partakers of, in and with the Lord Jesus Christ; and, indeed, they are wonderful and astonishing things, so far as they do already appear, but yet we see but little of them comparatively, to what we shall see, 1 John 3:1, 2. "Now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." O, what will that be! to see him as he is, and to be transformed into his likeness!

FOURTHLY, The way and manner in which we are brought into this fellowship with Christ; which is yet more admirable. The apostle gives us a strange account of it in 2 Corinthians 8:9. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might be rich:" he empties himself of his glory, that we might be filled; he is made a curse, that we might enjoy the blessing; he submits to be crowned with thorns, that we might be crowned with glory and honor; he puts himself into the number of worms, Psalm 22:6. that we might be made equal to the angels. O, the inconceivable grace of Christ!

FIFTHLY, The reciprocal nature of that communion which is between Christ and believers; we do not only partake of what is his, but he partakes of what is ours: he has fellowship with us in all our wants, sorrows, miseries and afflictions; and we have communion with him in his righteousness, grace, sonship and glory: he takes part of our misery, and we take part of his blessedness; our sufferings are his sufferings, Colossians 1:24. O, what an honor is it to you, poor wretch, to whom a great many would not turn aside to ask how you do; to have a King, yes, the Prince of all the kings of the earth, to pity, relieve, sympathize, groan and bleed with you, to sit by you in all your troubles, and give you his cordials; to say your troubles are my troubles, and your afflictions are my afflictions: whatever touches you, touches me also. O what name shall we give unto such grace as this is!

SIXTHLY, and lastly, Consider the perpetuity of this privilege: Your fellowship with Christ is interminable, and abides for ever. Christ and the saints shall be glorified together, Romans 8:17. while he has any glory they shall partake with him. It is said indeed, 1 Corinthians 15:24. that there shall be a time when Christ will deliver up the kingdom to his Father; but the meaning is not that ever he will cease to be the Head of his saints, or they from being his members: No, the relation never ceases; justification, sanctification and adoption, are everlasting things, and we can never be divested of them.


Inference 1. Are the saints Christ's fellows? What honorable persons then are they! and how should they be esteemed and valued in the world! If a king, who is the fountain of honor, do but raise a man by his favor, and dignify him by bestowing some honorable title upon him, what respect and observance is presently paid him by all persons? But what are all the vain and empty titles of honor, to the glorious and substantial privileges with which believers are dignified, and raised above all other men by Jesus Christ? He is the Son of God, and they are the sons of God also: he is the Heir of all things, and they are joint-heirs with Christ: he reigns in glory, and they shall reign with him: he sits upon the throne, and they shall sit with him in his throne. O that this vile world did but know the dignity of believers, they would never slight, hate, abuse, and persecute them as they do! And O that believers did but understand their own happiness and privileges by Christ, they would never droop and sink under every small trouble at that rate they do!

Inference 2. How abundantly has God provided for all the necessities and wants of believers! Christ is a storehouse filled with blessings and mercies, and it is all for them: from him they "receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness," Romans 5:17. "Of his fullness they all receive grace for grace," John 1:16. All the fullness of Christ is made over to them for the supply of their wants: "My God shall supply all your needs, (says the apostle) according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ," Philippians 4:19. If all the riches of God can supply your needs, then they shall be supplied. Say not, Christ is in the possession of consummate glory, and I am a poor creature, struggling with many difficulties, and toiling in the midst of many cares and fears in the world; for care is taken for all your wants, and orders given from Heaven for their supply: My God shall supply all your need. O say with a melting heart, I have a full Christ, and he is filled for me: I have his pure and perfect righteousness to justify me, his holiness to sanctify me, his wisdom to guide me, his comforts to refresh me, his power to protect me, and his all-sufficiency to supply me. O be cheerful, be thankful, you have all your hearts can wish; and yet be humble; it is all from free-grace to empty and unworthy creatures.

Inference 3. How absurd, disingenuous, and unworthy of a Christian, is it to deny, or withhold from Christ anything he has, or by which he may be served or honored? Does Christ communicate all he has to you, and can you withhold anything from Christ? On Christ's part it is not mine, and your, but ours, or mine and yours; John 20:17. "I ascend to my Father, and your Father; to my God, and your God." But O this cursed idol self! which appropriates all to its own designs and uses. How liberal is Christ! and how penurious are we to him! Some will not part with their credit for Christ, when yet Christ abased himself unspeakably for them. Some will not part with a drop of blood for Christ, when Christ spent the whole treasure of his blood freely for us; yes, how reluctant are we to part with a shilling for Christ, to relieve him in his distressed members, when as yet "we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich!" O ungrateful return! O base and disingenuous spirits!" The things Christ gives us are great, and the things we deny to him are small: he parts with the greatest, and yet is denied the least. The things he communicates to us are none of ours, we have no right nor title by nature, or any desert of ours to them; the things we deny or grudge to Christ are by all titles his own, and he has the fullest and most unquestionable title to them all; what he gives to us, he gives to them that never deserved it; what we withhold from him, we withhold from one that has deserved that, and infinitely more from us than we have or are.

He interested you freely in all his riches when you were enemies; you stand upon trifles with him, and yet call him your best and dearest friend: he gave himself and all he has to you, when you could claim nothing from him; you deny to part with these things to Christ, who may not only claim them upon the highest title, his own sovereignty, and absolute property, but by your own act, who profess to have given all in covenant to him: what he gives you return no profit to him; but what you give or part with for him is your greatest advantage. O that the consideration of these things might shame and humble your souls!

Inference 4. Then certainly no man is, or can be supposed to be a loser by conversion, seeing from that day, whatever Christ is or has becomes his.

O what an inheritance are men possessed of by their new birth! Some men cry out, Religion will undo you; but with what eyes do these men see? Surely, you could never so reckon, except your souls were so incarnated, as to reckon pardon, peace, adoption, holiness, and Heaven, for nothing; that invisibles are nonentities, and temporals the only realities. It is true, the converted soul may lose his estate, his liberty, yes, his life for Christ; but what then? Are they losers that exchange brass for gold? or part with their present comforts for an hundred-fold advantage? Mark 10:29. So that none need be frightened at religion, for the losses that attend it, while Christ and Heaven are gained by it: they that count religion their loss have their portion in this life.

Inference 5. How securely is the saints inheritance settled upon them, seeing they are in common with Jesus Christ? Christ and his saints are joint-heirs, and the inheritance cannot be alienated but by his consent; he must lose his interest, if you lose yours. Indeed Adams inheritance was by a single title, and moreover, it was in his own hand, and so he might, (as indeed he soon did) divest himself and his posterity of it; but it is not so between Christ and believers; we are secured in our inheritance by Christ our co-heir, who will never alienate it: and therefore it was truly observed by the father, Fœlicior Job in sterquilinio, quam Adamus in paradiso: Job was happier upon the dunghill, than Adam was in paradise. The covenant of grace is certainly the best tenure; as it has the best mercies, so it gives the fullest security to enjoy them.

Inference 6. How rich and full is Jesus Christ, who communicates abundantly to all the saints, and yet has infinitely still more in himself than has ever been received by them all.

Take all the faith of Abraham, all the meekness of Moses, all the patience of Job, all the wisdom of Solomon, all the zeal of David, all the industry of Paul, and all the tender-heartedness of Josiah; add to this, all the grace that is poured, (though in lesser measure,) into all the elect vessels in the world, yet still it is far short of that which remains in Christ; "He is anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows:" And in all things he has, and must ever have the pre-eminence. There are many thousand stars glittering above your heads, and one star differs from another star in glory, yet there is more light and glory in one sun, than in many thousand stars. Grace beautifies the children of men exceedingly, but still that is true of Christ, Psalm 45:2. "You are fairer than the children of men, grace is poured into your lips." For all grace is secondarily, and derivatively in the saints, but it is primitively and originally in Christ, John 5:16. Grace is imperfect and defective in them, but in him it is in its most absolute perfection and fullness, Colossians 1:19. In the saints it is mixed with abundance of corruption, but in Christ it is altogether unmixed, and exclusive of its opposite, Hebrews 7:26. So that as the Heathen said of moral virtue, I may much more say of Christ, That were he to be seen with mortal eyes, he would compel love and admiration from all men, for "he is altogether lovely," Canticles 5:16.

Inference 7. What delight and singular advantage must needs be in the communion of the saints, who have communion with Jesus Christ in all his graces and benefits.

"That which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you, that you also may have fellowship with us: And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ," 1 John 1:3. O it is sweet to have fellowship with those that have fellowship with God in Jesus Christ. Christ has communicated to the saints varieties of graces, in different measures and degrees; and as they all receive from Christ the fountain, so it is sweet and most delightful to be improving themselves by spiritual communion one with another: Yes, for that end one is furnished with one grace more eminently than another, that the weak may be assisted by the strong, as a modern divine well observes. Athanasius was prudent and active, Basil of an heavenly, sweet temper, Chrysostom laborious, without affectation, Ambrose resolved and grave, Luther courageous, and Calvin acute and judicious. Thus every one has his proper gift from Christ, the fountain of gifts and graces, 1 Corinthians 7:7. One has quickness of parts, another solidity of judgment, but not ready and presential; one is zealous, but ungrounded; another well principled, but timorous; one is wary and prudent; another open and plain; one is trembling and melting; another cheerful and joyous; one must impart his light, another his heat: The eye, the knowing man, cannot say to the hand, the active man, I have no need of you. And O how sweet would it be, if gifts, graces, and experiences were frequently and humbly imparted: But idle notions, earthly mindedness, self-interests, and want of more communion with Christ, have almost destroyed the comfort of Christian fellowship everywhere in the world.

Inference 8. In a word, those only have ground to claim interest in Christ, who do really participate of his graces, and in whom are found the effects and fruits of their union and communion with him.

If you have interest in Christ, you have communion in his graces and benefits; and if you have such communion, it will appear in your maintaining daily actual communion with God in duties; whereby will be produced,

FIRST, The increase of your sanctification, by fresh participations from the fountain; as cloth which is often dipped into the vat receives the deeper dye, and livelier tincture; so will your souls by assiduous communion with God. It will also be discerned,

SECONDLY, In your deeper humiliation, and spiritual sense of your own vileness: The more any man partakes of God, and is acquainted with him, and assimilated to him, the more base and vile in his own sight he still grows, Job 42:5, 6. Isaiah 6:5.

THIRDLY, It will appear in your more vehement longings after the full enjoyment of God in Heaven, 1 Peter 1:8. and Romans 8:23. You that have the first fruits will groan within yourselves after the full harvest, and satisfying fruition; you will not be so taken with things below, as to be content with the best lot on earth for your everlasting portion. O! if these communicated drops be so sweet, what is there in Christ the fountain?

And thus I have opened the method of grace in bringing home Christ and his benefits to God's elect by union, in order to communion with him.

Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.




Containing the first general USE of Exhortation, inviting all Men to apply JESUS CHRIST

Matthew 11:28, "Come unto me, all you that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

THE impetration of our redemption by Jesus Christ, being finished in the first part, and the way and means by which Christ is applied to sinners in the foregoing part of this treatise; I am now orderly come to the general use of the whole; which in the first place shall be by way of exhortation, to invite and persuade all men to come to Christ; who, in all the former sermons, had been represented in his garments of salvation, red in his apparel, prepared and offered to sinners as their all-sufficient and only remedy: And in the following sermons, will be represented in his perfumed garments coming out of his ivory palaces, Psalm 45:8. to allure and draw all men unto him.

For a general head to this use, which will be large, I have chosen this scripture, "Come unto me all you that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

These words are the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ himself, in which there is a vital, ravishing sound: It is your mercy to have such a joyful sound in your ears this day. And in them I will consider their dependence, parts, and scope.

As to their dependence, it is manifest they have an immediate relation to the foregoing verse, wherein Christ opens his commission, and declares the fullness of this authority and saving power, and the impossibility of coming to God any other way. "All things are delivered to me of my Father, and no man knows the Son but the Father: Neither knows any man the Father save the Son, and he to whoever the Son will reveal him," verse 27.

The 28th verse is brought in proleptically to obviate the discouragements of any poor, convinced, and humbled soul, who might thus object: Lord, I am fully satisfied of the fullness of your saving power, but greatly doubt whether ever I shall have the benefit thereof; for I see so much sin and guilt in myself, so great vileness and utter unworthiness, that I am over weighed, and even sink under the burden of it: My soul is discouraged because of sin. This objection is prevented in the words of my text, "Come unto me, all you that labor, and are heavy laden," q. d. Let not the sense of your sin and misery drive you from your only remedy: Be your sins never so many, and the sense and burden of them never so heavy, yet, for all that, Come unto me: You are the persons whom I invite and call. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

In the words, three things are especially remarkable.

1. The soul's spiritual distress and burden: Weary and heavy laden.

2. Its invitation to Christ under that burden: Come unto me.

3. Its encouragement to that great duty: I will give you rest.

FIRST, The soul's spiritual distress and burden expressed in two very emphatical words, οι κοπιωντες και πεφορτισμενοι "You that labor and are heavy laden." The word which we translate labor, signifies a laboring even to faintness and tiring, to the consumption and waste of the spirits; and the other word signifies such a pressure by a burden that is too heavy to be borne, that we do even sink down under it.

There is some difference among expositors about the quality of this burden. Chrysostom, and some others after him, expound it of the burden of the legal rites and ceremonies, which was a heavy burden indeed, such as neither they, nor their fathers could bear. Under the task and burden of these legal observances, they did sweat and toil to obtain a righteousness to justify them before God, and all in vain: and this is a pious sense: But others expound it of the burden of sin in general; the corruption of nature, and evils of practice, which souls are convinced have brought them under the curse, and will bring them to Hell, and therefore labor and strive, all that in them lies, by repentance and reformation, to clear themselves from it; but all in vain, while they strive in their own strength. Such are they that are here called to come to Christ, which is the second thing; namely,

SECONDLY, The invitation of burthened souls to Christ: "Come unto me all you that labor, and are heavy laden: Come unto me," that is believe in me, lean and rest your burthened souls upon me. I am able to ease all your burthens; in me are that righteousness and peace which you seek in vain in all the legal rites and ceremonies; or in your repentance, reformations, and duties; but it will give you no ease, it will be no benefit to you, except you come unto me. Faith is often expressed under this notion, see John 6:37. and John 7:37. and it is to be further noted, that [all] burthened souls are invited to come, "All you that labor." Whatever your sin or guilt have been, whatever your fears or discouragements are, yet come, that is believe in me.

THIRDLY, Here is the encouragement Christ gives to this duty, And I will give you rest: αναπαυσω μας. I will refresh you, I will give you rest from your labor, your consciences shall be pacified, your hearts at rest and quiet in that pardon, peace and favor of God which I will procure for you by my death. But here it must be heedfully noted, that this promise of rest in Christ is not made to men simply as they are sinners, nor yet as they are burthened and heavy laden sinners, but as they come to Christ, that is as they are believers. For let a man break his heart for sin, let him weep out his eyes, let him mourn as a dove, and shed as many tears for sin (if it were possible) as ever there fell drops of rain upon the ground, yet if he come not to Christ by faith, his repentance shall not save him, nor all his sorrows bring him to true rest. Hence note,

DOCTRINE: 1. That some souls are heavy laden with the burdensome sense of sin.

DOCTRINE: 2. That all burthened souls are solemnly invited to come to Christ.

DOCTRINE: 3. That there is rest in Christ for all that come to him under the heavy burden of sin.

DOCTRINE: 1. Some souls are heavy laden with the burdensome sense of sin

I do not say all are so, for "fools make a mock at sin," Proverbs 14:9. It is so far from being burdensome to some, that it is a sport to them, Proverbs 10:23. But when a man's eyes are opened to see the evil that is in sin, and the eternal misery that follows it, (sin and Hell being linked together with such strong chains as nothing but the blood of Christ can loose) then no burden is like that of sin: "A wounded conscience who can bear? Proverbs 18:14. For let us but consider the efficacy that the law of God has upon the consciences of men, when it comes in the spirtuality and power of it, to convince and humble the soul of a sinner. For then,

FIRST, The memory of sin long since committed, is refreshed and revived, as if it had been but yesterday: There are fresh recognitions of sin long since acted and forgotten, as if they had never been: What was done in our youth is fetched back a again, and by a new impression of fear and horror set home upon the trembling conscience, Job 13:26. "You write bitter things against me, and make me to possess the sins of my youth." Conscience can call back the days that are past, and draw up a new charge upon the score of old sins, Genesis 42:21. All that ever we did is recorded and entered into the book of conscience, and now is the time to open that book, when the Lord will convince and awaken sinners. We read in Job 14:17. of sealing up iniquities in a bag, which is an allusion to the Clerk of the assizes, that takes all the indictments that are made against persons at the assizes, and seals them up in a bag, in order to a trial. This is the first office and work of conscience; upon which

The second, namely, its accusations, do depend. These accusations of conscience are terrible things; who can stand before them? They are full, they are clear, and all of them referring to the approaching judgment of the great and terrible God.

Conscience dives into all sins, secret as well as open, and into all the circumstances and aggravations of sin, as being committed against light, against mercy, against the strivings, warnings, and regrets of conscience. So that we may say of the efficacy of conscience, as it is said, Psalm 19:6. of the influence of the sun, "nothing is hidden from the heat and power thereof." "Come (says the woman of Samaria) see man that has told me all that ever I did," John 4:29. Christ convinced her but of one sin by his discourse, but conscience, by that one, fetched in, and charged all the rest upon her. And as the accusations of conscience are full, so they are clear and undeniable. A man becomes self-convinced, and there remains no shift, excuse, or plea, to defend himself. A thousand witnesses cannot prove any point more clearly than one testimony of conscience does. Matthew 22:12. "The man was speechless, a mute; muzzled (as the word signifies) by the clear testimony of his own conscience. These accusations are the second work of conscience, and they make way for the third, namely,

THIRDLY, The sentence and condemnation of conscience: And truly this is an insupportable burden: The condemnation of conscience is nothing else but its application of the condemning sentence of the law to a man's person: The law curses every one that transgresses it, Galatians 3:10. Conscience applies this curse to the guilty sinner. So that it sentences the sinner in God's name and authority, from whence there is no appeal: The voice of conscience is the voice of God, and what it pronounces in God's name and authority, he will confirm and ratify, 1 John 3:20. "If our hearts, (that is) our consciences condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and knows all things." This is that torment which no man can endure. See the effects of it in Cain, in Judas, and in Spira; it is a real foretaste of hell-torments: This is that worm that never dies, Mark 9:44. For look, as a worm in the body is bred of the corruption that is there, so the accusations and condemnations of conscience are bred in the soul by the corruption and guilt that are there. As the worm in the body preys and bites upon the tender, sensible, inward parts, so does conscience touch the very quick. This is the third effect, or work, to sentence and condemn; and this also makes way for a fourth, namely,

FOURTHLY, To upbraid and reproach the sinner under his misery: and this makes a man a very terror to himself: To be pitied in misery is some relief, but to be upbraided and reproached, double our affliction. You know it was one of the aggravations of Christ's sufferings to be reproached by the tongues of his enemies, while he hanged in torments upon the cursed tree; but all the scoffs and reproaches, the bitter jeers and sarcasms in the world, are nothing to those of a man's own conscience, which will cut to the very bone.

O! when a man's conscience shall say to him in a day of trouble, as Reuben to his afflicted brethren, Genesis 43:2. "Spoke I not unto you, saying, do not sin against the child, and you would not hear; therefore behold also his blood is required." So conscience, did I not warn you, threaten you, persuade you in time against these evils, but you would not hearken to me, therefore behold now you must suffer to all eternity for it. The wrath of God is kindled against your soul for it: This is the fruit of your own willful madness and obstinacy. Now you shall know the price of sinning against God, against light and conscience. O, this is terrible! Every bite of conscience makes a poor soul to startle, and in a terrible fright to cry, O the worm! O, the bitter foretaste of Hell! A wounded spirit who can bear?

This is a fourth wound of conscience, and it makes way for a fifth; for here it is as the pouring out of the vials, and the sounding of those woe-trumpets in Revelations; one woe is past, and another comes. After all these deadly blows of conscience upon the very heart of a sinner, comes another as dreadful as any that is yet named; and that is,

FIFTHLY, The fearful expectation of wrath to come, which it begets in the soul of a guilty sinner: Of this you read, Hebrews 10:27. "A fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation." And this makes the stoutest sinner faint and sink under the burden of sin. For the tongue of man cannot declare what it is to lie down and rise with those fearful expectations. The case of such sinners is somewhat like that which is described in Deuteronomy 28:65, 66, 67. "The Lord shall give you a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. And your life shall hang in doubt before you, and you shall fear day and night, and shall have no assurance of your life. In the morning you shall say, would to God it were even: And at even you shall say, would to God it were morning: For the fear of your heart, with which you shall fear," etc. Only in this it differs, in this scripture you have the terror of those described, whose temporal life hangs in doubtful suspense, but in the persons I am speaking of, it is a trembling under the apprehensions and expectations of the vengeance of eternal fire.

Believe it, friends, words cannot express what those poor creatures feel, that lie down, and rise up under these fears, and frights of conscience. Lord, what will become of me! I am free among the dead, yes, among the damned. I hang by the frail thread of a momentary life, which will, and must, break shortly, and may break the next moment, over the everlasting burnings: No pleasant bread is to be eaten in these days, but what is like the bread of condemned men.

And thus you see what the burden of sin is, when God makes it to bear upon the consciences of men, no burden of affliction is like it: losses of dearest relations, sorrows for an only son, are not so pungent and penetrating as these: For,

FIRST, No creature-enjoyment is pleasant under these inward troubles: In other troubles they may signify something to a man's relief; but here they are nothing; the wound is too deep to be healed by anything but the blood of Jesus Christ; conscience requires as much to satisfy it, as God requires to satisfy him. When God is at peace with you, (says conscience) then will I be at peace with you too; but, until then, expect no rest nor peace from me. All the pleasures and diversions in the world shall never stop my mouth: go where you will, I will follow you like your shadow: be your portion in the world as sweet as it will, I will drop in gall and wormwood into your cup, that you shall taste no sweetness in anything, until you have got your pardon.

These inward troubles for sin alienate the mind from all former pleasures and delights; there is no more taste or savor in them, than in the white of an egg. Music is out of tune; all instruments jar and groan. Ornaments have no beauty; what heart has a poor creature to deck that body, in which dwells such a miserable soul! to feed and pamper that carcass that has been the soul's inducement to, and instrument in sin, and must be its companion in everlasting misery!

SECONDLY, These inward troubles for sin put a dread into death, beyond whatever the soul saw in it before. Now it looks like the King of terrors indeed. You read in Hebrews 2:15. of some that through fear of death are all their life long subject to bondage. O what a lively comment is a soul in this case able to make upon such a text! They would not scare at the pale horse, nor at him that sits on him, though his name be called Death, if it were not for what follows him, Revelation 6:8. but when they consider that Hell follows, they tremble at the very name or thoughts of death.

THIRDLY, Such is the nature of these inward troubles of spirit, that they swallow up the sense of all outward troubles. Alas! these are all lost in the deeps of soul-sorrows, as the little rivulets are in the vast sea; he who is wounded at the heart will not cry Oh, at the bite of the smallest insect. And surely no greater is the proportion between outward and inward sorrows. A small matter formerly would discompose a man, and put him into a fret; now ten thousand outward troubles are lighter than a feather: For, says he, "why does the living man complain?" Am I yet on this side of eternal burnings! O let me not complain then whatever my condition be. Have I losses in the world, or pains upon my body? Alas! these are not to be named with the loss of God, and the feeling of his wrath and indignation for evermore. Thus you see what troubles, inward troubles for sin be.

SECONDLY, If you ask in the second place, how it comes to pass that any soul is supported under such strong troubles of spirit, that all that feel them do not sink under them; that all that go down into these deep waters of sorrow, are not drowned in them? The answer is,

FIRST, Though this be a very sad time with the soul (much like that of Adam, between the breach of the first covenant, and the first promise of Christ made to him) yet the souls that are thus heavy laden, do not sink, because God has a most tender care over them, and regard to them; underneath them are the everlasting arms, and thence it is they sink not: were they left to grapple with these troubles in their own strength, they could never stand. But God takes care of these mourners, that their spirits do not fail before him, and the souls that he has made; I mean those of his elect, whom he is this way preparing for, and bringing unto Christ.

SECONDLY, The Lord is pleased to nourish still some hope in the soul under the greatest fears and troubles of spirit. Though it have no comfort or joy, yet it has some hope, and that keeps up the heart. The afflicted soul does, in this case, as the afflicted church, Lamentations 3:29. "He puts his mouth in the dust, if yet there may be hope:" He says, "It is good for a man to hope, and quietly to wait for the salvation of God." There are usually some glimmerings or dawnings of mercy through Christ, in the midnight darkness of inward troubles; non dantur purζ tenabrζ. In Hell, indeed, there is no hope to enlighten the darkness, but it is not so upon earth.

THIRDLY, The experiences of others, who have been in the same deeps of trouble, are also of great use to keep up the soul above water. The experience of another is of great use to prop up a desponding mind, while as yet it has none of its own; and, indeed, for the support of souls in such cases, they were recorded. 1 Timothy 1:16. "For this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting." For an encouraging Pattern, an eminent precedent to all poor sinners that were to come after him, that none might absolutely despair of finding mercy through Christ. You know if a man be taken sick, and none can tell what the disease is, none can say that ever they heard of such a disease before, it is exceeding frightful; but if one and another, it may be twenty, come to the sick man's bed-side, and tell him, sir, be not afraid, I have been in the very same case that you now are in, and so have many more, and all did well at last; why this is half a cure to the sick man. So it is here a great support to hear the experiences of other saints.

FOURTHLY, As the experiences of others support the soul under these burdens, so the riches of free grace through Jesus Christ uphold it. It is rich and abundant, Psalm 130:7, 8. plenteous redemption; and it is free, and to the worst of sinners, Isaiah 1:18. And under these troubles it finds itself in the way and proper method of mercy, for so my text (a text that has upheld many thousand drooping hearts) states it. All this gives hope and encouragement under trouble.

FIFTHLY, and lastly, Though the state of the soul be sad and sinking, yet Jesus Christ usually makes haste in the extremity of trouble to relieve it by sweet and seasonable discoveries of his grace; cum duplicantur lateris, venit Moses, in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. It is with Christ as it was with Joseph, whose affections yearned towards his brethren, and he was in pain until he had told them, "I am Joseph your brother." This is sweetly exhibited to us in that excellent parable of the prodigal, Luke 15 when his father saw him, being yet a great way off, he ran and fell upon his neck, and kissed him. Mercy runs nimbly to help, when souls are ready to fall under the pressure of sin. And thus you see both how they are burdened, and how upheld under the burden.

THIRDLY. If it be inquired, in the last place, why God makes the burden or sin press so heavy upon the hearts of poor sinners? It is answered,

FIRST, He does it to divorce their hearts from sin, by giving them an experimental taste of the bitternesss and evil that is in sin. Men's hearts are naturally glued with delight to their sinful courses; all the persuasions and arguments in the world are too weak to separate them from their beloved lusts. The morsels of sin go down smoothly and sweetly, they roll them with much delectation under their tongues, and it is but need that such bitter potions as these should be administered "to make their stomachs rise against sin," as that word used by the apostle in 2. Corinthians 7:11. signifies, in that you sorrowed after a godly sort, what indignation it wrought? It notes the rising of the stomach with rage, a being angry even unto sickness; and this is the way, the best and most effectual way to separate the soul of a sinner from his lusts; for, in these troubles, conscience says, as it is in Jeremiah 4:18. "Your way and your doings have procured these things unto you; this is your wickedness, because it is great, because it reaches unto your heart."

SECONDLY, The Lord does this to make Jesus Christ most welcome and desirable to the soul. Christ is not sweet until sin be made bitter to us. Matthew 9:12. "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick." If once God wounds the heart of a sinner, with the stinging sense of sin, then nothing in the world is so precious, so necessary, so vehemently desired and panted for as Jesus Christ! O that I had Christ, if I did go in rags, if I did feed upon no other food all my days, but the bread and water of affliction! This is the language of a soul filled with the sense of the evil of sin.

THIRDLY, The Lord does this to advance the riches of his free grace in the eyes of sinners. Grace never appears grace until sin appear to be sin. The deeper our sense of the evil of sin is, the deeper our apprehensions of the free grace of God in Christ will be. The louder our groans have been under the burden of sin, the louder will our acclamations and praises be for our salvation from it by Jesus Christ. "To me (says Paul) the chief of sinners, was this grace given," 1 Timothy 1:15. Never does the grace of a prince so melt the heart of a traitor, as when trial, sentence, and all preparations for his execution have passed, before his unexpected pardon comes.

FOURTHLY, The Lord does this to prevent relapses into sin: "In that you sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought!" 2 Corinthians 2:7. The burnt child dreads the fire, the bird that is delivered out of the talons of the hawk, trembles afterwards at the noise of his bells. "After such a deliverance as this, should we again break your commandments?" Ezra 9:13, 14. Ask a poor penitent soul, that has been in the deeps of sorrow for sin, Will you return to your former course of sin again? And it sounds in his ears, as if you should ask him, Will you run into the fire? Will you go to the rack again? O no, it has cost him dear already.

FIFTHLY, Lastly, This the Lord does, to make them both skillful and compassionate in relieving others that are under like inward troubles. None can speak so judiciously, so pertinently, so feelingly to another's case, as he who has been in the same case himself; this furnishes them with the tongue of the learned, to speak a word in season to the weary soul; by this means they are able to "comfort others with the same comforts with which they themselves have been comforted of God," 2 Corinthians 1:4.

Thus you have had a brief account, what the burden of sin is, how souls are supported under that burden, and why the Lord causes sin to lie so heavy upon the souls of some sinners. The improvement of all will be in a double use, namely,

Of information and direction.

FIRST use for information

Inference 1. Is there such a load and burden in sin? What then was the burden that our Lord Jesus Christ felt and bare for us, upon whom the whole weight of all the sins of all God's elect lay! Isaiah 53:6. "He has made the iniquities of us all to meet on him." Our burden is heavy, but nothing to Christ's. O there is a vast difference between that which Christ bare, and that which we bear. We feel but the single weight of our own sins; Christ felt the whole weight of all our sins. You do not feel the whole weight that is in any one sin; alas, it would sink you, if God should let it bear in all its aggravations and effects upon you. Psalm 130:2, 3. "If you, Lord, should mark iniquity, O Lord, who shall stand!" You would sink presently, you can no more stand under it, than under the weight of a mighty mountain. But Christ bare all the burden upon himself; his understanding was deep and large; he knew the extent of its evil, which we do not: we have many reliefs and helps under our burden, he had none; we have friends to counsel, comfort, and pity us; all his friends and familiars forsook him, and fled in the day of his trouble: we have comforts from Heaven, he had frowns from Heaven: "My God, my God, (says he in that doleful day) why have you forsaken me?" There is no comparison between our load and Christ's.

Inference 2. If there be such a burden in sin, then certainly sinners will pay dear for all the pleasure they find in sin in the days of their vanity. "What one says of crafty counsels, we may say of all sins; though they seem pleasant in their first appearance, they would be found sad in the event:" they are honey in the mouth, but the gall of asps in the belly; they tickle the fancy, but rend the conscience. O sinner, your mirth will certainly be turned into mourning, as sure as you live; that vain and frothy breast of your shall be wounded; you shall feel the sting and pain, as well as relish the sweet and pleasure of sin. O that you would but give yourself the leisure seriously to ponder those scriptures in the margin; methinks they should have the same effect that the handwriting upon the plaster of the wall had upon that jovial king in the height of a frolic, Daniel 5:5. Reason thus with your own heart, and you will find the conclusion unavoidable; either I shall repent for sin, or I shall not: If I shall not, then must I howl under the wrath of God for sin, in the lowest Hell for evermore. If I shall, then by what I have now read of the throbs and wounds of conscience, I see what this heart of mine, this vain heart of mine, must feel in this world. O how much wiser was the choice that Moses made, Hebrews 11:25. the worst of sufferings rather than the best of sin, the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season!

Inference 3. Is there such a burden in sin, then the most tender compassion is a debt due to souls afflicted and heavy laden with sin. Their condition cries for pity, whatever their tongues do; they seem to call upon you, as Job upon his friends; "Have pity, have pity upon me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has touched me, Job 19:21. And O let all that have felt the wounds and anguish of an afflicted conscience themselves, learn from their own experience tenderly to pity and help others. Galatians 6:1. "You that are spiritual, restore (or set him in joint again) in the spirit of meekness, considering yourself."

Israel was commanded to be kind to strangers, for, says God, you know the heart of a stranger. And surely if any case in the world require help, pity, and all compassionate tenderness, this does; and yet how do some slight spiritual troubles upon others? Parents slight them in their own children, masters in their servants; the more brutish and wicked they! O had you but felt yourselves what they feel, you would never treat them as you do. But let this comfort such poor creatures, Christ has felt them, and will pity and help them; yes, he therefore would feel them himself, that he might have compassion upon you. If men will not, God will pity you; if men be so cruel to persecute him whom God has smitten, God will be so kind to pour balm into the wounds that sin has made: if they pull away the shoulder from you, and will not be concerned about your troubles, except it be to aggravate them, God will not serve you so: but certainly you that have passed through the same difficulties, you cannot be without compassion to them that are now grappling with them.

Inference 4. How inexpressibly dreadful is the state of the damned, who must bear the burden of all their sins upon themselves, without relief or hope of deliverance! Mark 9:44. "where their worm dies not, and the fire is not quenched."

O! If sin upon the soul that is coming to Christ for deliverance, be so burdensome, what is it upon the soul that is shut out from Christ, and all hopes of deliverance forever! For, do but ponder these differences between these two burdens.

FIRST, No soul is so capacious now, to take in the fullness of the evil and misery of sin, as they are who are gone down to the place of torments. Even as the joys of God's face above are as much unknown to them that have the fore-tastes and first fruits of them here by faith, so the misery of the damned is much unknown, even to them that have in their consciences now, the bitterest taste and sense of sin in this world: as we have the visions of Heaven, so we have the visions of Hell also, but darkly through a glass.

SECONDLY, No burden of sin presseth so continually upon the soul here as it does there. Afflicted souls, on earth, have intermissions, and breathing times; but in Hell there are no lucid intervals, the wrath of God there is still flowing; it is fluxu continuo, Isaiah 30:33. a stream of brimstone.

THIRDLY, No burden of sin lies upon any of God's elect so long as on the damned, who do, and must bear it: our troubles about sin are but short, though they should run parallel with the line of life; but the troubles of the damned are parallel with the endless line of eternity.

FOURTHLY, Under these troubles, the soul has hope, but there, all hope is cut off: all the gospel is full of hope, it breathes nothing but hope to sinners that are moving Christ-ward under their troubles; but in Hell the pangs of desperation rend their consciences for ever. So that, upon all accounts, the state of the damned is inexpressibly dreadful.

Inference 5. If the burden of sin be so heavy, how sweet then must the pardon of sin be to a sin-burdened soul! Is it a refreshment to a prisoner to have his chains knocked off? A comfort to a debtor to have his debts paid, and obligations cancelled? What joy must it then be to a sin-burthened soul, to hear the voice of pardon and peace in his trembling conscience! Is the light of the morning pleasant to a man after a weary, tiresome night? the spring of the year pleasant after a hard and tedious winter? They are so indeed; but nothing so sweet as the favor, peace, and pardon of God, to a soul that has been long restless, and anxious, under the terrors and fears of conscience. For, though after pardon and peace a man remembers sin still, yet it is as one that remembers the dangerous pits, and deep waters, from which he has been wonderfully delivered, and had a narrow escape. O the inconceivable sweetness of a pardon! Who can read it without tears of joy? Are we glad when the grinding pain of the stone, or racking fits of the cholic are over? And shall we not be transported, when the accusations and condemnations of conscience are over? Tongue cannot express what these things are; his joy is something that no words can convey to the understanding of another, that never felt the anguish of sin.

Inference 6. Lastly, In how sad a case are those that never felt any burden in sin, that never were kept waking and restless one night for sin?

There is a burdened conscience, and there is a benumbed conscience. The first is more painful, but the last more dangerous. O it is a fearful blow of God upon a man's soul, to strike it senseless and stupid, so that though mountains of guilt lie upon it, it feels no pain or pressure: and this is so much more sad, because it incapacitates the soul for Christ, and is a presage and fore-runner of Hell. It would grieve the heart of a man, to see a delirious person in the rage and height of a fever, to laugh at those that are weeping for him, call them fools, and telling them he is as well as any of them: much so is the case of many thousand souls; the God of mercy pity them.

Second use for counsel

The only further use I shall make of this point here, shall be to direct and counsel souls that are weary and heavy laden with the burden of sin, in order to their obtaining true rest and peace. And first,

FIRST counsel

Satisfy not yourselves in fruitless complaints to men. Many do so, but they are never the nearer. I grant it is lawful in spiritual distresses to complain to men, yes, and it is a great mercy if we have any near us in times of trouble that are judicious, tender and faithful, into whose bosoms we may pour out our troubles; but to rest in this, short of Christ, is no better than a snare of the devil to destroy us. Is there not a God to go to in trouble? The best of men, in the neglect of Christ, are but physicians of no value. Be wise and wary in your choice of Christian friends, to whom you open your complaints; some are not clear themselves in the doctrine of Christ and faith, others are of a dark and troubled spirit, as you are, and will but entangle you more. "As for me (says Job) is my complaint to man, and if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled?" Job 21:4. One hour between Christ and your soul in secret, will do more to your true relief than all other counselors and comforters in the world can do.

Second counsel

Beware of a false peace, which is more dangerous than your trouble for sin can be. Many men are afraid of their troubles, but I think they have more cause to fear their peace a great deal. There is a twofold peace that ruins most men, peace in sin, and peace with sin: O how glad are some persons when their troubles are gone; but I dare not rejoice with them. It is like him that rejoices his ague is gone, that it has left him in a deep consumption. You are got rid of your troubles, but God knows how you have left them; your wounds are skinned over, better they were kept open. Surely they have much to answer for, that help on these delusions, healing the hurt of souls slightly, by crying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. The false peace you beget in them, will be a real trouble to yourselves in the outcome, Jeremiah 6:14.

Third counsel

Let all that are under inward troubles for sin, take heed of drawing desperate conclusions against themselves, and the final state of their own souls. Though your case be sad, it is not desperate; though the night be troublesome and tedious, keep on in the way to Christ, and light will spring up. To mourn for sin is your duty; to conclude there is no hope for you in Christ, is your sin. You have wronged God enough already, do not add a further and greater abuse to all the rest, by an absolute despair of mercy. It was your sin formerly to presume beyond any promise, it is your sin now to despair against many commands. I would say as the apostle in another case, I would not have you mourn as men that have no hope: your condition is sad as it is, but yet it is much better than once it was. You were once full of sin and void of sense, now you have the sense of sin, which is no small mercy. You were once quite out of the way and method of mercy, now you are in that very path wherein mercy meets the elect of God. Keep hope, therefore, at the bottom of all your troubles.

Fourth counsel

Observe whether your troubles for sin produce such fruits and effects in your souls as theirs do, which end at last in Christ and everlasting peace.

FIRST, One that is truly burdened with sin, will not allow himself to live in the secret practice of sin; either your trouble will put an end to your course of sinning, or your sinning will put an end to your troubles. Consult 2 Corinthians 7:11.

SECONDLY, True sorrow for sin, will give you very low and vile thoughts of yourselves; as you were covered with pride before, so you will be covered with shame after God has convinced and humbled you, Romans 6:21.

THIRDLY, A soul really burdened with sin will never stand in his own justification before God, nor extenuate and mince it in his confessions to him, Psalm 51:3, 4.

FOURTHLY, The burdens of sin will make a man set light by all other burdens of affliction, Lamentations 3:22. Micah 7:9. The more you feel sin, the less you feel affliction.

FIFTHLY, A soul truly burdened for sin will take no hearty joy or comfort in any outward enjoyment of this world, until Christ come and seek peace to the soul, Lamentations 3:28. Just so the soul sits alone and keeps silence; merry company is a burden, and music is but howling to him.

Fifth counsel

Beware of those things that make your troubles longer than they ought to be. There be several errors and mistakes that hold poor souls much longer in their fears and terrors than else they might be; and such are,

FIRST, Ignorance of the nature of saving faith, and the necessity of it. Until you come to believe, you cannot have peace; and while you mistake the nature, or apprehend not the necessity of faith, you are not like to find that path of peace.

SECONDLY, Laboring to heal the wounds that the law has made upon your consciences, by a more strict obedience to it for the future, in the neglect of Christ and his righteousness.

THIRDLY, In observance of what God has already done for you, in these preparatory works of the law, in order to your salvation by Jesus Christ. O! if you would but compare what you now are, with what you lately were, it would give some relief. But the last and principal thing is this:

Sixth counsel

Hasten to Christ in the way of faith, and you shall find rest; and until then all the world cannot give you rest. The sooner you transact with Christ, in the way of faith, the sooner you shall be at peace and enter into his rest; for those that believe do now enter into rest. You may labor and strive, look this way and that, but all in vain; Christ and peace come together. No sooner do you come to him, and roll your burden on him, receive him as he offers himself, but the soul feels itself eased on a sudden; "being justified by faith, we have peace with God," Romans 5:1. And thus in finishing the first, we are brought home to the second observation.

DOCTRINE: 2. That sin-burdened souls are solemnly invited to come to Christ

This point sounds sweetly in the ear of a distressed sinner; it is the most joyful voice that ever the soul heard: the voice of blessing from mount Gerizim, the ravishing voice from mount Zion, "You are come to Jesus the Mediator." In opening of it I will show,

1. What it is to come to Christ.

2. How Christ invites men to come to him.

3. Why his invitation is directed to burdened souls.

FIRST, We will inquire what it is to come to Christ, and how many things are included in it.

In general, to come to Christ, is a phrase equipollent, or of the same amount with believing in Christ. It is an expression that carries the nature and necessity of faith in it, and is reciprocated with believing. John 6:35. "He who comes so me shall never hunger; and he who believes in me shall never thirst." Coming to Christ, is believing in Christ; and believing in Christ, is coming to Christ; they are synonyma's, and import the self same thing. Only in this notion of faith, there are many rich and excellent things hinted to us, which no other word can so aptly convey to our minds. As,

FIRST, It hints this to us, That the souls of convinced and burdened sinners do not only discern the reality of Christ, or that he is, but also the necessity of applying Christ, and that their eternal life is in their union with him: for this is most certain, that the object of faith must be determinate and fixed; the soul must believe that Christ is, or else there can be no emotions of the soul after him: all coming pre-supposes a fixed term to which we come, Hebrews 11:6. "He who comes to God, must believe that God is." Take away this, and all motions after Christ presently stop. No wonder then that souls, in their first motions to Christ, find themselves clogged with so many atheistical temptations, shaking their assent to the truth of the gospel at the very root and foundation of it; but they that come to Christ, do see that he is, and that their life and happiness lie in their union with him, else they would never come to him upon such terms as they do.

SECONDLY, Coming to Christ implies the soul's despair of salvation any other way. The way of faith is a supernatural way, and souls will not attempt it until they have tried all natural ways to help and save themselves, and find it all in vain; therefore the text describes these comers to Christ as weary persons, that have been laboring and striving all other ways for rest, but can find none; and so are forced to relinquish all their fond expectations of salvation in any other way, and come to Christ as their last and only remedy.

THIRDLY, Coming to Christ notes a supernatural and almighty power, acting the soul quite above its own natural abilities in this motion. John 6:44. "No man can come unto me, except my Father which has sent me draw him." It is as possible for the ponderous mountains to start from their bases and centers, mount themselves aloft into the air, and there fly like wandering atoms hither and thither, as it is for any man, of himself, that is by a pure natural power of his own, to come to Christ. It was not a stranger thing for Peter to come to Christ, walking upon the waves of the sea, than for his, or any man's soul, to come to Christ in the way of faith.

FOURTHLY, Coming to Christ notes the voluntariness of the soul in its motion to Christ. It is true, there is no coming without the Father's drawing; but that drawing has nothing of coaction in it; it does not destroy, but powerfully, and with an overcoming sweetness, persuade the will. It is not forced or driven, but it comes; being made "willing in the day of God's power," Psalm 110:3. Ask a poor distressed sinner in that season, Are you willing to come to Christ? O rather than live! life is not so necessary as Christ is! O! with all my heart, ten thousand worlds for Jesus Christ, if he could be purchased, were nothing answerable to his value in mine eyes! The soul's motion to Christ is free and voluntary, it is coming.

FIFTHLY, It implies this in it, That no duties, or ordinances, (which are but the ways and means by which we come to Christ), are, or ought to be central and terminative to the soul: that is the soul of a believer is not to sit down, and rest in them, but to come by them or through them to Jesus Christ, and take up his rest in him only. No duties, no reformations, no ordinances of God, how excellent soever these things are in themselves, and how necessary soever they are in their proper place and use, can give rest to the weary and heavy laden soul: it cannot center in any of them, and you may see it cannot, because it still gravitates and inclines to another thing, even Christ, and cannot terminate its motion until it be come to him. Christ is the term to which a believer moves; and therefore he cannot sit down by the way, or be as well satisfied as if he were at his journey's end. Ordinances and duties have the nature and use of means to bring us to Christ, but not to be to any man instead of Christ.

SIXTHLY, Coming to Christ, implies an hope or expectation from Christ in the coming soul. If he has no hope, why does it move forward? As good sit still, and resolve to perish where it is, as to come to Christ, if there is no ground to expect salvation by him. Hope is the spring of motion and industry; if you cut off hope, you hinder faith: it cannot move to Christ, except it be satisfied, at least, of the possibility of mercy and salvation by him. Hence it is, that when comers to Christ are struggling with the doubts and fears of the issue, the Lord is pleased to enliven their faint hopes, by setting home such scriptures as these, John 6:37. "He that comes to me, I will never cast out." And Hebrews 7:25. "He is able to save to the uttermost, all that come unto God by him." This puts life into hope, and hope puts life into industry and motion.

Seventhly, Coming to Christ for rest implies, that believers have, and lawfully may have an eye to their own happiness, in closing with the Lord Jesus Christ. The poor soul comes for rest; it comes for salvation; its eye and aim are upon it; and this aim of the soul at its own good, is legitimated, and allowed by that expression of Christ, John 5:40. "You will not come unto me, that you may have life." If Christ blame them for not coming to him, that they might have life, sure he would not blame them, had they come to him for life.

Eighthly, but Lastly, and which is the principal thing in this expression; Coming to Christ, notes the all-sufficiency of Christ, to answer all the needs and wants of distressed souls, and their betaking themselves accordingly to him only for relief, being content to come to Christ for whatever they need, and live upon that fullness that is in him. If there were not an all-sufficiency in Christ, no soul would come to him; for this is the very ground upon which men come. Hebrews 7:25. "He is able to save to the uttermost, all that come to God by him:" Εις το αντελες, to the uttermost: In the greatest plunges, difficulties, and dangers. He has a fullness of saving power in him, and this encourages souls to come unto him. One beggar uses not to wait at the door of another, but all at the doors of them they conceive able to relieve them. And as this notes the fullness of Christ as our Savior, so it must needs note the emptiness and humility of the soul as a comer to him. This is called submission, in Romans 10:3. Proud nature must be deeply distressed, humbled, and molded into another temper, before it will be persuaded to live upon those terms, to come to Christ for everything it wants, to live upon Christ's fullness in the way of grace and favor, and have no stock of its own to live upon. O! this is hard, but it is the way of faith.

SECONDLY, In the next place, let us see how Christ invites men to come to him, and you shall find the means employed in this work, are either internal, and principal, namely, the Spirit of God, who is Christ's viceregent, and comes to us in his name and room, to persuade us to believe, John 15:26; or external, namely, the preaching of the gospel by commissioned ambassadors, who, in Christ's stead, beseech men to be reconciled to God, that is to come to Christ by faith, in order to their reconciliation and peace with God. But all means and instruments employed in this work of bringing men to Christ, entirely depend upon the blessing and concurrence of the Spirit of God, without whom they signify nothing. How long may ministers preach, before one soul comes to Christ, except the Spirit co-operate in that work! Now as to the manner in which men are persuaded, and their wills wrought upon to come to Christ, I will briefly note several acts of the Spirit, in order thereunto.

FIRST, There is an illustrating work of the Spirit upon the minds of sinners, opening their eyes to see their danger and misery; until these be discovered, no man stirs from his place: It is sense of danger that rouzes the secure sinner, that distresses him, and makes him look about for deliverance, crying, What shall I do to be saved? And it is the discovery of Christ's ability to save, which is the ground and reason, (as was observed above,) of its motion to Christ. Hence, seeing the Son, is joined with believing, or coming to him, in John 6:40.

SECONDLY, There is the authoritative call, or commanding voice of the Spirit in the word; a voice that is full of awful majesty and power. 1 John 3:23. "This is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ." This call of the Spirit to come to Christ, removes one great obstruction, namely, the fear of presumption out of the soul's way to Christ, and, instead of presumption in coming, makes it rebellion, and inexcusable obstinacy, to refuse to come. This answers all pleas against coming to Christ from our unworthiness and deep guilt; and mightily encourages the soul to come to Christ, whatever it has been, or done.

THIRDLY, There are soul-encouraging, conditional promises, to all that do come to Christ in obedience to the command. Such is that in my text, I will give you rest: And that in John 6:37. "Him that comes to me, I will never cast out." And these breathe life and encouragement into poor souls that fear, and are daunted through their own unworthiness.

FOURTHLY, There are dreadful threatenings denounced by the Spirit in the word, against all that refuse or neglect to come to Christ, which are of great use to engage and quicken souls in their way to Christ. Mark 16:16. "He who believes not shall be damned: Die in his sins," John 8:14. "The wrath of God shall remain on him," John 3 ult. Which is as if the Lord had said, Sinners, do not dally with Christ, do not be always treating, and never concluding, or resolving: for if there be justice in Heaven, or fire in Hell, every soul that comes not to Christ, must, and shall perish to all eternity. Upon your own heads let the blood and destruction of your own souls be forever, if you will not come unto him.

FIFTHLY, There are moving examples set before souls in the word, to prevail with them to come, alluring and encouraging examples of such as have come to Christ, under the deepest guilt and discouragement, and yet found mercy. 1 Timothy 1:15, 16. "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief: howbeit, (or nevertheless) for this cause I have obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe in him to life everlasting." Who would not come to Christ after such an example as this? And if this will not prevail, there are dreadful examples recorded in the word, setting before us the miserable condition of all such as refuse the calls of the word to come to Christ. 1 Peter 3:19, 20. "By which also he went and preached to the spirits which are in prison, which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah." The meaning is, the sinners that lived before the flood, but now are in Hell, clapped up in that prison, had the offers of grace made them, but despised them, and now lie for their disobedience in prison, under the wrath of God for it, in the lowest Hell.

SIXTHLY, and lastly, There is an effectual persuading, overcoming and victorious work of the Spirit upon the hearts and wills of sinners, under which they come to Jesus Christ. Of this I have spoken at large before, in the fourth sermon, and therefore shall not add anything more here. This is the way and manner in which souls are prevailed with to come to Jesus Christ.

THIRDLY, In the last place, if you inquire why Christ makes his invitations to weary and heavy laden souls, and to no other, the answer is briefly this:

FIRST, Because in so doing, he follows the commission which he received from his Father: so you will find it runs, in Isaiah 61:1. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek, he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. You see here how Christ's commission directs him: his Father sent him to poor broken-hearted sinners, and he will keep close to his commission. "He came not to call the righteous, but sinners, (that is sensible burdened sinners) to repentance." Matthew 9:13. "I am not sent (says he,) but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Thus his instructions and commission from the Father limit him only to sensible and burdened souls, and he will be faithful to his commission.

SECONDLY, The very order of the Spirit's work in bringing men to Christ, shows us to whom the invitation and offers of grace in Christ are to be made. For none are convinced of righteousness, that is of complete and perfect righteousness, which is in Christ for their justification, until first they be convinced of sin; and, consequently, no man will, or can come to Christ by faith, until convictions of sin have awakened and distressed him, John 16:8, 9. This being the due order of the Spirit's operation, the same order must be observed in gospel-offers and invitations.

THIRDLY, It behooves that Christ should provide for his own glory, as well as for our safety; and not to expose one to secure the other; but save us in that way which will bring him most honor and praise. And certainly such a way as this, by first convincing, humbling, and burdening the souls of men, and then bringing them home to rest in himself.

Alas! let those that never saw, or felt the evil of sin, be told of rest, peace, and pardon in Christ, they will but despise it as a thing of no value, Luke 5:31. "The whole need not a physician, but those that are sick." Bid a man that thinks himself sound and whole go to a physician, and he will but laugh at the motion; if you offer him the richest composition, he will refuse it, slight it, and it may be, spill it upon the ground. Ay, but if the same man did once feel an acute disease, and were made to sweat and groan under strong pains, if ever he come to know what sick days and restless nights are, and to apprehend his life to be in imminent hazard; then messengers are sent, one after another, in post-haste to the physician; then he begs him with tears to do what in him lies for his relief: he thankfully takes the bitterest potions, and praises the care and skill of his physician with tears of joy. And so the patient's safety and the physician's honor are both secured. So is it in this method of grace. The uses follow.


Inference 1. If sin-burdened souls are solemnly invited to come to Christ, Then it follows, that whatever guilt lies upon the conscience of a poor humbled sinner, it is no presumption, but his duty to come to Christ, notwithstanding his own apprehended vileness and great unworthiness.

Let it be carefully observed, how happily that universal particle all, is inserted in Christ's invitation, for the encouragement of sinners; "Come unto me, [all] you that labor;" q. d. Let no broken-hearted sinner exclude himself, when he is not by me excluded from mercy: my grace is my own, I may bestow it where I will, and upon whom I will. It is not I, but Satan that impales and incloses my mercy from humbled souls that are made willing to come unto me; he calls that your presumption, which my invitation makes your duty.


Objecttion. 1. But I doubt my case is excepted by Christ himself, in Matthew 12:31. where blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is exempted from pardon, and I have had many horrid blasphemous thoughts injected into my soul.

Sol. Are you a burdened and heavy laden soul? If so, your case is not in that, or any other scripture exempted from mercy; for the unpardonable sin is always found in an impenitent heart: as that sin finds no pardon with God, so neither is it followed with contrition and sorrow in the soul that commits it.

Objecttion. 2. But if I am not guilty of that sin, I am certainly guilty of many great and heinous abominations of another kind, too great for me to expect mercy for; and therefore I dare not go to Christ.

Sol. The greater your sins have been, the more need you have to go to Jesus Christ. Let not a motive to go to Christ be made an obstacle in your way to him. Great sinners are expressly called, Isaiah 1:18. great sinners have come to Christ and found mercy, 1 Corinthians 6:7. and to conclude, it is an high reproach and dishonor to the blood of Christ, and mercy of God, which flows so freely through him, to object the greatness of sin to either of them. Certainly you have not sinned beyond the extent of mercy, or beyond the efficacy of the blood of Christ: but pardon and peace may be had, if you will thus come to Christ for it.

Objecttion. 3. Oh! but it is now too late; I have had many thousand calls by the gospel, and refused them; many purposes in my heart to go to Christ, and quenched them; my time therefore is past, and now it is to no purpose.

Sol. If the time of grace be past, and God intends no mercy for you, how comes it to pass your soul is now filled with trouble and distress for sin? Is this the frame of a man's heart that is past hope. Do such signs as these appear in men that are hopeless? Beside, the time of grace is a secret hidden in the breast of God; but coming to Christ is a duty plainly revealed in the text: And why will you object a thing that is secret and uncertain, against a duty that is so plain and evident? Nor do you yourselves believe what you object; for at the same time that you say your seasons are over, it is too late, you are, notwithstanding, found repenting, mourning, praying, and striving to come to Christ. Certainly, if you knew it were too late, you would not be found laboring in the use of means. Go on, therefore, and the Lord be with you. It is not presumption, but obedience, to come when Christ calls, as he here does, "Come unto me, all you that labor, and are heavy laden."

Inference 2. Hence it follows, That none have cause to be troubled, when God makes the souls of their friends or relations sick with the sense of sin. It was the saying (as I remember) of Hieron to Sabinian, Nothing (said he) makes my heart sadder, than that nothing can make my heart sad. It is matter of joy to all that rightly understand the matter, when God smites the heart of any man with the painful sense of sin; of such sickness it may be said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God." Yet how do many carnal relations lament and bewail this as a misery, as an undoing to their friends and acquaintances; as if then they must be reckoned lost, and never until then, that Christ is finding and saving them. O! if your hearts were spiritual and wise, their groans for sin would be as music in your ears. When they go alone to bewail their sin, you would go alone also to bless God for such a mercy, that ever you should live to such a happy day: You would say, Now is my friend in the blessed pangs of the new birth; now is he in the very way of mercy; never in so hopeful a condition as now. I had rather he should groan now at the feet of Christ, than groan hereafter under the wrath of God for ever. O! parents, beware, as you love the souls of your children, that you do not damp and discourage them, tempt or threaten them, divert or hinder them in such cases as this, lest you bring the blood of their souls upon your own heads.

Inference 3. It also follows from hence, That those to whom sin was never any burden, are not yet come to Christ, nor have any interest in him. We may as well suppose a child to be born without any pangs, as a soul to be born again, and united to Christ, without any sense or sorrow for sin. I know many have great frights of conscience, that never were made duly sensible of the evil of sin; many are afraid of burning, that never were afraid of sinning. Slight and transient troubles some have had, but they vanished like an early cloud, or morning dew. Few men are without checks and throbs of conscience at one time or other; but instead of going to the closet, they run to the alehouse or tavern for cure. If their sorrow for sin had been right, nothing but the sprinkling of the blood of Christ could have appeased their consciences, Hebrews 10:22. How cold should the consideration of this thing strike to the hearts of such persons! Methinks, reader, if this be your case, it should send you away with an aking heart; you have not yet tasted the bitterness of sin, and if you do not, you shall never taste the sweetness of Christ, his pardons and peace.

Inference 4. How great a mercy is it for sin-burthened souls to be within the sound and call of Christ in the gospel!

There be many thousands in the Pagan and Popish parts of the world, that labor under distresses of conscience as well as we, but have no such reliefs, no such means of peace and comfort as we have that live within the joyful sound of the gospel. If the conscience of a Papist be burdened with guilt, all the relief he has, is to afflict his body to quiet his soul; a penance, or pilgrimage, is all the relief they have. If a Pagan be in trouble for sin, he has no knowledge of Christ, nor notion of a satisfaction made by him; the voice of nature is, Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? The damned endure the terrible blows and wounds of conscience for sin, they roar under that terrible lash, but no voice of peace or pardon is heard among them. It is not, "Come unto me, you that labor, and are heavy laden," but "depart from me, you cursed."

Blessed are your ears, for you hear the voice of peace; you are come to Jesus the Mediator, and to the blood of sprinkling. O, you can never set a due value upon this privilege.

Inference 5. How sweet and unspeakably relieving is the closing of a burthened soul with Jesus Christ, by faith! It is rest to the weary soul.

Soul-troubles are spending, wasting troubles; the pains of a distressed conscience are the most acute pains. A poor soul would gladly be at rest, but knows not where; he tries this duty and that, but finds none. At last, in a way of believing, he casts himself, with his burden of guilt and fear, upon Christ, and there is the rest his soul desired. Christ and rest come together; until faith bring you to the bosom of Jesus, you can find no true rest: The soul is rolling and tossing, sick and weary, upon the billows of its own guilt and fears. Now the soul is come like a ship tossed with storms and tempests, out of a raging ocean into the quiet harbor! or like a lost sheep that has been wandering in weariness, hunger, and danger, into the fold. Is a soft bed in a quiet chamber sweet to one that is spent and tired with travel? Is the sight of a shore sweet to the shipwrecked mariner, who looked for nothing but death? Much more sweet is Christ to a soul that comes to him pressed in conscience, and broken in spirit under the sinking weight of sin.

How did the Italians rejoice, after a long and dangerous voyage, to see Italy again! crying, with loud and united voices which made the very heavens ring again, Italy! Italy! But no shore is so sweet to the weather-beaten passenger, as Christ is to a broken-hearted sinner: This brings the soul to a sweet repose. Hebrews 4:3. "We, which have believed, do enter into rest." And this endears the way of faith to their souls ever after.

Inference 6. Learn hence the usefulness of the law to bring souls to Jesus Christ. It is utterly useless, as a covenant, to justify us; but exceeding useful to convince and humble us; it cannot relieve nor ease us, but it can and does awaken and rouse us. It is a fair glass to show us the face of sin, and until we have seen that we cannot see the face of Jesus Christ.

The law, like the fiery serpent smites, stings, and torments the conscience; this drives us to the Lord Jesus, lifted up in the gospel, like the brazen serpent in the wilderness, to heal us. The use of the law is to make us feel our sickness; this makes us look out for a Physician: "I was alive once, without the law, (says Paul) but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died," Romans 7:9. The hard, vain, proud hearts of men require such an hammer to break them to pieces.

Inference 7. It is the immediate duty of weary and heavy-laden sinners to come to Christ by faith, and not stand off from Christ, or delay to accept him upon any terms whatsoever.

Christ invites and commands such to come unto him; it is therefore your sin to neglect, draw back, or defer whatever seeming reasons and pretenses there may be to the contrary. When the gawler was brought (where I suppose you now to be) to a pinching distress, that made him cry, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved? The very next counsel the apostles gave him was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved," Acts 16:30, 31. And, for your encouragement, know, that he who calls you to come, knows your burden, what your sins have been and troubles are, yet he calls you: if your sin hinder not Christ from calling, neither should it hinder you from coming. He who calls you, is able to ease you, "to save to the uttermost, all that come to God by him," Hebrews 7:25. Whatever fullness of sin be in you, there is a greater fullness of saving power in Christ. Moreover, he who calls you to come, never yet rejected any poor burdened soul that came to him; and has said he never will. John 6:37. "Him that comes unto me, I will never cast out." Fear not, therefore, he will not begin with you, or make you the first instance and example of the feared rejection.

And, Lastly, Bethink yourself, what will you do, and where will you go, in this case, if not to Jesus Christ? Nothing shall ease or relieve you until you do come to him. You are under an happy necessity to go to him; with him only is found rest for the weary soul; which brings us to the third and last observation,

DOCTRINE: 3. That there is rest in Christ, for all that come unto him. under the heavy burden of sin

Rest is a sweet word to a weary soul; all seek it, but none but believers find it. We which have believed, (says the apostle) do enter into rest, Hebrews 4:3. "He does not say, they shall, but they do enter into rest; noting their spiritual rest to be already begun by faith on earth in the tranquility of conscience, and shall be consummated in Heaven, in the full enjoyment of God." There is a sweet calm upon the troubled soul after believing, an ease, or rest of the mind, which is an unspeakable mercy to a poor weary soul. Christ is to it as the ark was to the dove, when she wandered over the watery world, and found no place to rest the sole of her foot. Faith centers the unquiet spirit of man in Christ, brings it to repose itself and its burden on him. It is the soul's dropping anchor in a storm, which stays and settles it.

The great debate which cost so many anxious thoughts is now issued into this resolution; I will venture my all upon Christ, let him do with me as seems him good. It was impossible for the soul to find rest, while it knew not where to bestow itself, or how to be secured from the wrath to come; but when all is embarked in Christ for eternity, and the soul fully resolved to lean upon him, and to trust to him, now it feels the very initials of eternal rest in itself: it finds an heavy burden unloaded from its shoulders; it is come, as it were, into a new world; the case is strangely altered. The word rest, in this place, notes, (and is so rendered by some) a recreation; it is restored, renewed, and recreated, as it were, by that sweet repose it has upon Christ. Believers, know that faith is the sweetest recreation you can take. Others seek to divert and lose their troubles, by sinful recreations, vain company, and the like; but they little know what the recreation and sweet restoring rest that faith gives the soul is. You find, in Christ, what they seek in vain among the creatures. Believing is the highest recreation known in this world. But to prevent mistakes, three Cautions need to be premised, lest we do, in ipso limine impingere, stumble at the threshold, and so lose our way all along afterward.


Caution 1

You are not to conceive, that all the soul's fears, troubles and sorrows are presently over and at an end, as soon as it is come to Christ by faith. They will have many troubles in the world after that, it may be, more than ever they had in their lives: "Our flesh (says Paul) had no rest," 2 Corinthians 7:5. They will be infested with many temptations after that; that, it may be, the assaults of Satan may be more violent upon their souls than ever. Horribilia de Deo, terribilia de fide: injections that make the very bones to quake, and the belly to tremble. They will not be wholly freed from sin; that rest remains for the people of God; nor from inward trouble and grief of soul about sin. These things are not to be expected presently.

Caution 2

We may not think all believers do immediately enter into the full, actual sense of rest and comfort, but they presently enter into the state of rest. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God," Romans 5:1. that is we enter into the state of peace immediately. "Peace is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart," Psalm 117:11. And he is a rich man that has a thousand acres of corn in the ground, as well as he who has so much in his barn, or the money in his purse. They have rest and peace in the seed of it, when they have it not in the fruit; they have rest in the promise, when they have it not in possession; and he is a rich man that has good bonds and bills for a great sum of money, if he have not twelve-pence in his pocket. All believers have the promise, have rest and peace granted them under God's own hand, in many promises which faith brings them under; and we know that the truth and faithfulness of God stands engaged to make good every line and word of the promise to them. So that though they have not a full and clear actual sense and feeling of rest, they are, nevertheless by faith come into the state of rest.

Caution 3

We may not conceive that faith itself is the soul's rest, but the means and instruments of it only. We cannot find rest in any work or duty of our own, but we may find it in Christ, whom faith apprehends for justification and salvation.

Having thus guarded the point against misapprehensions, by these needful cautions, I shall next show you how our coming to Christ by faith brings us to rest in him. And here let it be considered what those things are that burden, grieve and disquiet the soul before its coming to Christ; and how it is relieved and eased in all those respects, by its coming to the Lord Jesus; and you shall find,

FIRST, That one principal ground of trouble is the guilt of sin upon the conscience, of which I spoke in the former point. The curse of the law lies heavy upon the soul, so heavy that nothing is found in all the world able to relieve it under that burden; as you see in a condemned man, spread a table in prison with the greatest dainties, and send for the rarest musicians, all will not charm his sorrow: but if you can produce an authentic pardon, you ease him presently. Just so it is here, faith plucks the thorn out of the conscience, which so grieved it, unites the soul with Christ, and then that ground of trouble is removed: for "there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus," Romans 8:1. The same moment the soul comes to Christ, it has passed from death to life, is no more under the law, but grace. If a man's debt be paid by his surety, he need not fear to show his face boldly abroad; he may freely meet the sergeant at the prison-door.

SECONDLY, The soul of a convinced sinner is exceedingly burdened with the impurity and filthiness with which sin has defiled and polluted it. Conviction discovers the universal pollution of heart and life, so that a man loathes and abhors himself by reason thereof: if he do not look into his own corruptions, he cannot be safe; and if he do, he cannot bear the sight of them; he has no quiet; nothing can give rest, but what gives relief against this evil; and this only is done by faith uniting the soul with Jesus Christ. For though it be true that the pollution of sin be not presently and perfectly taken away by coming to Christ, yet the burden thereof is exceedingly eased; for, upon our believing, there is an heart-purifying principle planted in the soul, which does, by degrees, cleanse that fountain of corruption, and will at last perfectly free the soul from it. Acts 15:9. "Purifying their hearts by faith;" and being once in Christ, he is concerned for the soul as a member now of his own mystical body, to purify and cleanse it, that at last he may present it perfect to the Father, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, Ephesians 5:26. The reigning power of it is gone immediately upon believing, and the very existence and being of it shall at last be destroyed. O, what rest must this give under those troubles for sin:

THIRDLY, It was an intolerable burden to the soul to be under the continual fears, alarms, and frights of death and damnation; its life has been a life of bondage, upon this account, ever since the Lord opened his eyes to see his condition. Poor souls lie down with tremblings, for fear what a night may bring forth. It is a sad life indeed to live in continual bondage of such fears; but faith sweetly relieves the trembling conscience, by removing the guilt which breeds its fears. The sting of death is sin. When guilt is removed, fears vanquish. "Smite, Lord, smite, said Luther, for my sins are forgiven." Now, if sickness come, it is another thing than it was accustomed to be. Isaiah 33:24. "The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick, the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquities." A man scarce feels his sickness, in comparison to what he did, while he was without Christ and hope of pardon.

FOURTHLY, A convinced sinner, out of Christ, sees everything against him; nothing yields any comfort, yes, everything increases and aggravates his burden, when he looks to things past, present, or to come. If he reflect upon things past, his soul is filled with anguish, to remember the sins committed and the seasons neglected, and the precious mercies that have been abused; if he look upon things present, the case is doleful and miserable; nothing but trouble and danger, Christless and comfortless; and if he look forward to things to come, that gives him a deeper cut to the heart than anything else; for though it be sad and miserable for the present, yet he fears it will be much worse hereafter; all these are but the beginning of sorrows. And thus the poor, awakened sinner becomes a Magor Missabib; fear round about.

But, upon his coming to Christ, all things are marvelously altered; a quite contrary face of things appears to him; every thing gives him hope and comfort, which way soever he looks. So speaks the apostle, 1 Corinthians 3:22, 23. "All things are yours, (says he) whether life or death, or things present, or things to come; all is yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's:" They are ours, that is for our advantage, benefit, and comfort. More particularly upon our coming to Christ,

FIRST, Things past are ours, they conduce to our advantage and comfort. Now the soul can begin to read the gracious end and design of God, in all its preservations and deliverances; whereby it has been reserved for such a day as this. O! it melts his heart to consider his companions in sin and vanity are cut off, and he spared; and that for a day of such mercy, as the day of his espousals with Christ is. Now all his past sorrows, and deep troubles of spirit, which God has exercised him with, begin to appear the greatest mercies that ever he received; being all necessary and introductive to this blessed union with Christ.

SECONDLY, Things present are ours, though it be not yet with us as we would have it; Christ is not sure enough, the heart is not pure enough; sin is too strong, and grace is too weak; many things are yet out of order; yet can the soul bless God for this, with tears of joy and praise, being full of admiration and holy astonishment, that it is as it is; and that he is where he is, though he be not yet where he would be. O! it is a blessed life to live as a poor recumbent, by acts of trust and affiance, though, as yet, he have but little evidence; that he is resolved to trust all with Christ, though he be not yet certain of the issue. O this it a comfortable station, a sweet condition to what it was, either when the soul wallowed in sin, in the days before conviction, or was swallowed up in fears and troubles for sin after conviction; now it has hope, though it want assurance: and hope is sweet to a soul coming out of such deep distresses. Now it sees the remedy, and is applying it; whereas before the wound seemed desperate. Now all hesitations and debates are at an end in the soul; it is no longer unresolved what to do; all things have been deeply considered, and after consideration, issued into this resolve, or decree of the will: I will go to Christ; I will venture all upon his command and call; I will embark my eternal interests in that bottom; here I fix, and here I resolve to live and die. O! how much better is this than that floating life it lived before, rolling upon the billows of inward fears and troubles, not able to drop anchor any where, nor knowing where to find an harbor?

THIRDLY, Things to come are ours; and this is the best and sweetest of all: Man is a prospecting creature, his eye is much upon things to come, and it will not satisfy him that it is well at present, except he have a prospect that it shall be so hereafter. But now the soul has committed itself and all its concernments to Christ for eternity, and this being done, it is greatly relieved against evils to come.

I cannot (says the believer) think all my troubles over, and that I shall never meet any more afflictions; it were a fond vanity to dream of that: but I leave all these things where I have left my soul: he who has supported me under inward, will carry me through outward troubles also. I cannot think all my temptations to sin past; O! I may yet meet with sore assaults from Satan, yet it is infinitely better to be watching, praying, and striving against sin, than it was when I was obeying it in the lusts of it. God, that has delivered me from the love of sin, will, I trust, preserve me from ruin by sin. I know also death is to come; I must feel the pangs and agonies of it: but yet the aspect of death is much more pleasant than it was. I come, Lord Jesus to you, who are the death of death, whose death has disarmed death of its sting: for I fear not its dart if I feel not its sting. And thus you see briefly, how by faith believers enter into rest; how Christ gives rest, even at present, to them that come to him, and all this but as a beginning of their everlasting rest.


Inference 1. Is there rest in Christ for weary souls that come unto him? Then, certainly it is a design of Satan against the peace and welfare of men's souls, to discourage them from coming to Christ in the way of faith.

He is a restless spirit himself, and would make us so too; it is an excellent note of Minutius Eelix, "Those desperate and restless spirits (says he) have no other peace but in bringing us to the same misery themselves are in:" He goes about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. It frets and grates his proud and envious mind, to see others find rest when he can find none; an effectual plaster applied to heal our wound, when his own must bleed to eternity: And he obtains his end fully, if he can but keep off souls from Christ. Look therefore, upon all those objections and discouragements raised in your hearts against coming to Christ, as so many artifices and cunning devices of the devil, to destroy and ruin your souls. It is true they have a very specious and colorable appearance; they are gilded over with pretenses of the justice of God, the heinous nature of sin, the want of due and befitting qualifications for so holy and pure a God, the lapsing of the season of mercy, and an hundred others of like nature: but I beseech you, lay down this as a sure conclusion, and hold it fast; that whatever it be that discourages and hinders you from coming to Christ, is directly against the interest of your souls, and the hand of the devil is certainly in it.

Inference 2. Hence also it follows, that unbelief is the true reason of all that disquietness and trouble, by which the minds of poor sinners are so racked and tortured.

If you will not believe, you cannot be established; until you come to Christ, peace cannot come to you: Christ and peace are undivided. Good souls, consider this; you have tried all other ways, you have tried duties, and no rest comes; you have tried reformation, restitution, and a stricter course of life; yet your wounds are still open, and fresh bleeding: these things, I grant, are in their places both good and necessary; but, of themselves, without Christ, utterly insufficient to give what you expect from them: why will you not try the way of faith? Why will you not carry your burden to Christ? O! that you would be persuaded to it, how soon would you find what so long you have been seeking in vain! How long will you thus oppose your own good? How long will you keep yourselves upon the rack of conscience? Is it easy to go under the throbs and wounds of an accusing and condemning conscience? You know it is not: you look for peace, but no good comes; for a time of healing, and behold trouble. Alas! it must and will be so still, until you are in the way of faith, which is the true and only method to obtain rest.

Inference 3. What cause have we all to admire the goodness of God, in providing for us a Christ, in whom we may find rest to our souls!

How has the Lord filled and furnished Jesus Christ with all that is suitable to a believer's wants! Does the guilt of sin terrify his conscience? Lo, in him is perfect righteousness to remove that guilt, so that it shall neither be imputed to his person, nor reflected by his conscience, in the way of condemnation as it was before. In him also is a fountain opened, for washing and for cleansing the filth of sin from our souls; in him is the fullness both of merit, and of spirit, two sweet springs of peace to the souls of men: well might the apostle say, "Christ the wisdom of God," 1 Corinthians 1:30. and well might the Church say, "He is altogether lovely," Canticles 5:16. Had not God provided Jesus Christ for us, we had never known one hour's rest to all eternity.

Inference 4. How unreasonable, and wholly inexcusable, in believers, is the sin of backsliding from Christ! Have you found rest in him, when you could not find it in any other! Did he receive, and ease your souls, when all other persons and things were physicians of no value? And will you, after this, backslide from him again? O what madness is this! "Will a man leave the snow of Lebanon, which comes from the rock of the field? Or shall the cold, flowing waters, that come from another place, be forsaken?" No man that is in his wits would leave the pure, cold, refreshing stream of a crystal fountain, to go to a filthy puddle, lake, or an empty cistern; such the best enjoyments of this world are, in comparison with Jesus Christ.

That was a melting expostulation of Christ's with the disciples, John 6:67, 68. when some had forsaken him, "Will you also go away?" And it was a very suitable return they made, Lord, where away from you should we go! q. d. From you, Lord! No, where can we mend ourselves? be sure of it, whenever you go from Christ, you go from rest to trouble. Had Judas rest? Had Spira rest? and do you think you shall have rest? No, no, "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways," Proverbs 14:14. "Cursed be the man that departs from him, he shall be as the heath in the desert, that sees not when good comes, and shall inhabit the parched places of the wilderness," Jeremiah 17:5. If fear of sufferings, and worldly temptations, ever draw you off from Christ, you may come to those straits and terrors of conscience that will make you wish yourselves back again with Christ in a prison, with Christ at a stake.

Inference 5. Let all that come to Christ learn to improve him to the rest and peace of their own souls, in the midst of all the troubles and outward distresses they meet with in the world.

Surely rest may be found in Christ in any condition; he is able to give you peace in the midst of all your troubles here. So he tells you in John 16:33. "These things have I spoken to you, that in me you might have peace; in the world you shall have tribulation." By peace he means not a deliverance from troubles, by taking off affliction from them, or taking them away by death from all afflictions; but it is something they enjoy from Christ in the very midst of troubles, and amidst all their afflictions, that quiets and gives them rest, so that troubles cannot hurt them. Certainly, believers, you have peace in Christ, when there is little in your own hearts; and your hearts might be filled with peace too, it you would exercise faith upon Christ for that end. It is your own fault if you be without rest in any condition in this world. Set yourselves to study the fullness of Christ, and to clear your interest in him; believe what the scriptures reveal of him, and live as you believe, and you will quickly find the peace of God filling your hearts and minds.

Blessed be God for Jesus Christ.




Wherein the general Exhortation is enforced by one Motive drawn from the first Title of CHRIST

Matthew 9:12, "But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick."

HAVING opened, in the former discourses, the nature and method of the application of Christ to sinners; it remains now that I press it upon every soul, as it expects peace and pardon from God, to apply and put on Jesus Christ, that is to get union with him by faith, while he is yet held forth in the free and gracious offers of the gospel. To which purpose I shall now labor in this general use of exhortation, in which my last subject engaged me; wherein divers arguments will be further urged, both from

1. The titles, and

2. The privileges of Jesus Christ.

The titles of Christ are so many motives or arguments fitted to persuade men to come unto him. Among which, Christ, as the Physician of souls, comes under our first consideration, in the text before us.

The occasion of these words of Christ, was the call of Matthew the publican, who, having first opened his heart, next opened his house to Christ, and entertains him there. This strange and unexpected change, wrought upon Matthew, quickly brings in all the neighborhood, and many publicans and sinners resorted thither; at which the stomachs of the proud Pharisees began to swell. From this occasion they took offence at Christ, and, in this verse, Christ takes off the offence, by such an answer as was fitted both for their conviction and his own vindication. But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, "The whole have no need of a physician, but they that are sick."

He gives it, says one, as a reason why he conversed so much with Publicans and sinners, and so little among the Pharisees, because there was more work for him; Christ came to be a physician to sick souls; Pharisees were so well in their own conceit, that Christ saw that they would have little to do with him, and so he applied himself to those who were more sensible of their sickness.

In the words, we have an account of the temper and state both of,

1. The secure and unconvinced sinner,

2. The humbled and convinced sinner. And,

3. Of the carriage of Christ, and his different respect to both.

FIRST, The secure sinner is here described, both with respect to his own apprehensions of himself, as one that is whole, and also by his low value and esteem for Christ, he sees no need of him; "The whole have no need of a physician."

SECONDLY, The convinced and humbled sinner is here also described, and that both by his state and condition, he is sick; and by his valuation of Jesus Christ, he greatly needs him: they that are sick need the physician.

THIRDLY, We have here Christ's carriage, and different respect to both; the former he rejects and passes by, as those with whom he has no concernment; the latter he converses with in order to their cure.

The words thus opened, are fruitful in observations. I shall neither note nor insist upon any beside this one, which suits the scope of my discourse, namely,

DOCTRINE: That the Lord Jesus Christ is the only physician for sick souls.

The world is a great hospital, full of sick and dying souls, all wounded by one and the same mortal weapon, sin. Some are senseless of their misery, feel not their pains, value not a physician; others are full of sense, as well as danger: mourn under the apprehension of their condition, and sadly bewail it. The merciful God has, in his abundant compassion to the perishing world, sent a physician from Heaven, and given him his orders under the great seal of Heaven, for his office, Isaiah 61:1, 2. which he opened and read in the audience of the people, Luke 4:18. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek, he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted," etc. He is the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations: he is Jehovah Rophe, the Lord that heals us; and that as he is Jehovah Tzidkenu, the Lord our righteousness. The brazen serpent that healed the Israelites in the wilderness, was an excellent type of our great physician, Christ, and is expressly applied to him, John 3:14. He rejects none that come, and heals all whom he undertakes; but more particularly, I will,

FIRST, Point at those diseases which Christ heals in sick souls, and by what means he heals them.

SECONDLY, The excellency of this physician above all others: there is none like Christ, he is the only Physician for wounded souls.

FIRST, We will inquire into the diseases which Christ the physician cures, and they are reducible to two heads, namely,

1. Sin, and,

2. Sorrow.

FIRST, The disease of sin; in which three things are found exceeding burdensome to sick souls.

1. The guilt,

2. The dominion,

3. The inherence of sin; all cured by this physician, and how.

FIRST, The guilt of sin; this is a mortal wound, a stab in the very heart of a poor sinner. It is a fond and groundless distinction that Papists make of sins mortal and venial; all sin, in its own nature is mortal, Romans 6:23. "The wages of sin is death." Yet though it be so in its own nature, Christ can and does cure it by the sovereign balsam of his own precious blood, Ephesians 1:7. "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." This is the deepest and deadliest wound the soul of man feels in this world. What is guilt but the obligation of the soul to everlasting punishment and misery? It puts the soul under the sentence of God to eternal wrath; the condemning sentence of the great and terrible God; than which, nothing is found more dreadful and insupportable: put all pains, all poverty, all afflictions, all miseries, in one scale, and God's condemnation in the other, and you weigh but so many feathers against a talent of lead.

This disease, our great physician, Christ, cures, by remission, which is the dissolving of the obligation to punishment; the loosing of the soul that was bound over to the wrath and condemnation of God, Colossians 1:13, 14. Hebrews 6:12. Micah 7:17, 18, 19. This remission being made, the soul is immediately cleared from all its obligations to punishment. Romans 8:1. "There is no condemnation." All bonds are cancelled, the guilt of all sins is healed or removed, original and actual, great and small. This cure is performed upon souls by the blood of Christ; nothing is found in Heaven or earth, besides his blood that is able to heal this disease. Hebrews 9:22. "Without shedding of blood there is no remission;" nor is it any blood that will do it, but that only which dropped from the wounds of Christ. Isaiah 53:5. "By his stripes we are healed." His blood only is innocent and precious blood, 1 Peter 1:19. blood of infinite worth and value; blood of God, Acts 20:18. blood prepared for this very purpose, Hebrews 10:5. This is the blood that performs the cure; and how great a cure is it! for this cure, the souls of believers shall be praising and magnifying their great Physician in Heaven to all eternity, Revelation 1:5, 6. "To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, etc. to him be glory and dominion, forever and ever."

SECONDLY, The next evil in sin cured by Christ, is the dominion of it over the souls of poor sinners. Where sin is in dominion, the soul is in a very sad condition; for it darkens the understanding, depraves the conscience, stiffens the will, hardens the heart, misplaces and disorders all the affections; and thus every faculty is wounded by the power and dominion of sin over the soul. How difficult is the cure of this disease! It passes the skill of angels or men to heal it; but Christ undertakes it, and makes a perfect cure of it at last, and this he does by his Spirit. As he cures the guilt of sin by pouring out his blood for us; so he cures the dominion of sin by pouring out his Spirit upon us. Justification is the cure of guilt, sanctification the cure of the dominion of sin. For,

FIRST, As the dominion of sin darkens the understanding, 1 Corinthians 2:14. so the Spirit of holiness which Christ sheds upon his people, cures the darkness and blindness of that noble faculty, and restores it again, Ephesians 5:8. They that were darkness are hereby light in the Lord; the anointing of the Spirit teaches them all things, 1 John 2:27.

SECONDLY, As the dominion of sin depraved and defiled the conscience, Titus 1:15. wounded it to that degree, as to disable it to the performance of all its offices and functions; so that it was neither able to apply, convince, or tremble at the word: So, when the Spirit of holiness is shed forth, O what a tender sense fills the renewed conscience! For what small things will it check, smite, and rebuke! How strongly will it bind to duty, and bar against sin.

THIRDLY, As the dominion of sin stiffened the will and made it stubborn and rebellious, so Christ, by sanctifying it, brings it to be pliant and obedient to the will of God. "Lord, (says the sinner) what will you have me to do!" Acts 9:6.

FOURTHLY, As the power of sin hardens the heart so that nothing could affect it, or make any impression upon it; when sanctification comes upon the soul, it thaws and breaks it, as hard as it was, and makes it to dissolve in the breast of a sinner in godly sorrow, Ezekiel 36:26. "I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh." It will now melt ingenuously under the threatenings of the word, 2 Kings 22:19. or the strokes of the rod, Jeremiah 31:18. or the manifestations of grace and mercy, Luke 7:38.

FIFTHLY, As the power of sin misplaced and disordered all the affections, so sanctification reduces them again and sets them right, Psalm 4:6, 7. And thus you see how sanctification becomes the rectitude, health, and due temper of the soul, so far as it prevails, curing the diseases that sin in its dominion filled the soul with. True it is, this cure is not perfected in this life; there are still some remains of the old diseases in the holiest souls, notwithstanding sin be dethroned from its dominion over them: but the cure is begun, and daily advances towards perfection, and at last will be complete, as will appear in the cure of the next evil of sin; namely,

THIRDLY, The inherence of sin in the soul: this is a sore disease, the very core and root of all our other complaints and ailments. This made the holy apostle bemoan himself and wail so bitterly, Romans 7:17. because of "sin that dwelt in him." And the same misery is bewailed by all sanctified persons all the world overse

It is a wonderful mercy to have the guilt and dominion of sin cured, but we shall never be perfectly sound and well, until the existence or in-dwelling of sin in our natures be cured too: when once that is done, then we shall feel no more pain nor sorrows for sin: and this our great Physician will at last perform for us and upon us. But as the cure of guilt was by our justification, the cure of the dominion of sin by our sanctification: so the third and last, which perfects the whole cure, will be by our glorification: and until then, it is not to be expected. For it is a clear case, that sin like ivy in the old walls, will never be gotten out until the walls be pulled down, and then it is pulled up by the roots. This cure Christ will perform in a moment, upon our dissolution. For it is plain,

FIRST, That none but perfected souls, freed from all sin, are admitted into Heaven, Ephesians 5:27. Hebrews 12:23. Revelation 21:27.

SECONDLY, It is as plain, that no such personal perfection and freedom is found in any man on this side death and the grave, 1 John 1:8. 1 Kings 8:46. Philippians 3:12. a truth sealed by the sad experience of all the saints on earth.

THIRDLY, If such freedom and perfection must be before we can be perfectly happy, and no such thing be done in this life, it remains that it must be done immediately upon their dissolution, and at the very time of their glorification. As sin came in at the time of the union of their souls and bodies in the womb, so it will go out at the time of their separation by death; then will Christ put the last hand to this glorious work, and perfect that cure which has been so long under his hand, in this world; and thenceforth sin shall have no power upon them, it shall never tempt them more, it shall never defile them more, it shall never grieve and sadden their hearts any more: henceforth it shall never cloud their evidences, darken their understandings, or give the least interruption to their communion with God. When sin is gone, all these, its mischievous effects, are gone with it. So that I may speak it to the comfort of all gracious hearts, according to what the Lord told the Israelites, in Deuteronomy 12:8, 9. (to which I allude for illustration of this most comfortable truth) "You shall not do after all the things that you do here this day, every man whatever is right in his own eyes, for you are not as yet come to the rest, and to the inheritance which the Lord your God gives you." While you are under Christ's cure upon earth, but not perfectly healed, your understandings mistake, your thoughts wander, your affections are dead, and your communion with God is daily interrupted; but it shall not be so in Heaven, where the cure is perfect: you shall not there know, love, or delight in God in the manner you do this day; for you are not as yet come to the rest, and to the inheritance which the Lord your God gives you. And so much as to the diseases of sin, and Christ's method of curing them.

SECONDLY, As sin is the disease of the saints, so also is sorrow; the best saints must pass through the valley of Bacha, to Heaven. How many tears fall from the eyes of the saints, upon the account of outward as well as inward troubles, even after their reconciliation with God? Through much tribulation we must enter into the "kingdom of God," Acts 14:22. It would be too great a digression in this place, to note but the more general heads under which almost infinite particulars of troubles and afflictions are found; it shall suffice only to show, that whatever distress or trouble any poor soul is in, upon any account whatever, if that soul belongs to Jesus Christ, he will take care of it for the present, and deliver it at last by a complete cure.

FIRST, Christ cures troubles, by sanctifying them to the souls of his that are under affliction, and makes their very troubles medicinal and healing to them. Trouble is a scorpion, and has a deadly sting, but Christ is a wise physician, and extracts a sovereign oil out of this scorpion, that heals the wound it makes. By afflictions, our wise Physician purges our corruptions, and so prevents or cures greater troubles by lesser; inward sorrows by outward ones. Isaiah 27:9. "By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit to take away his sin."

SECONDLY, Christ cures outward troubles by inward consolations, which are made to rise in the inner man as high as the waters of affliction do upon the outward man, 2 Corinthians 1:5. One drop of spiritual comfort is sufficient to sweeten a whole ocean of outward trouble. It was an high expression of an afflicted father, whom God comforted, just upon the death of his dear and only son, with some clearer manifestations of his love than was usual: "O, (said he) might I but have such consolations as these, I could be willing (were it possible) to lay an only son into the grave every day I have to live in this world." Thus all the troubles of the world are cured by Christ. John 16:33. "In the world you shall have trouble, but in me you shall have peace."

THIRDLY, Christ cures all outward sorrows and troubles in his people by death, which is their removal from the place of sorrows to peace and rest for evermore. Now God wipes all tears from their eyes, and the days of their mourning are at an end; they then put off the garments and spirit of mourning, and enter into peace, Isaiah 57:2. They come to that place and state where tears and sighs are things unknown to the inhabitants; one step beyond the state of this mortality, brings us quite out of the sight and hearing of all troubles and lamentations. These are the diseases of souls; sin, and sorrow; and thus they are cured by Christ, the Physician.

SECONDLY, Next I shall show you that Jesus Christ is the only Physician of souls, none like him for a sick sinner; and this will be evident in divers respects.

FIRST, None so wise and judicious as Jesus Christ, to understand and comprehend the nature, depth and danger of soul-diseases. O how ignorant and unacquainted are men with the state and case of afflicted souls! But "Christ has the tongue of the learned, that he should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary," Isaiah 50:4. He only understands the weight of sin, and depth of inward troubles of sin.

SECONDLY, None so able to cure and heal the wounds of afflicted souls as Christ is; he only has those medicines that can cure a sick soul. The blood of Christ, and nothing else, in Heaven or earth, is able to cure the mortal wounds which guilt inflicts upon a trembling conscience; let men try all other receipts, and costly experience shall convince them of their insufficiency. Conscience may be benumbed by stupefactive medicines, prepared by the devil, for that end; but pacified it can never be but by the blood of Christ, Hebrews 9:22.

THIRDLY, None so tender-hearted and sympathizing with sick souls as Jesus Christ; he is full of affections and tender compassions to afflicted souls; he is one that can have compassion, because he has had experience, Hebrews 5:2. If I must come unto the surgeon's hands with broken bones, give me such an one to chose whose own bones have been broken, who has felt the anguish in himself. Christ knows what it is by experience, having felt the anguish of inward troubles, the weight of Gods wrath, and the terrors of a forsaking God, more than any or all the sons of men: this makes him tender over distressed souls. Isaiah 42:3. "A bruised reed he will not break, and smoking flax he will not quench."

FOURTHLY, None cures in so wonderful a method as Christ does; he heals us by his stripes, Isaiah 53:5. The Physician dies that the patient may live: his wounds must bleed, that ours may be cured; he feels the smart and pain, that we might have ease and comfort. No physician but Christ will cure others at this rate.

FIFTHLY, None so ready to relieve a sick soul as Christ; he is within the call of a distressed soul at all times. Are you sick for sin, weary of sin, and made truly willing to part with sin? lift up but your sincere cry to the Lord Jesus for help, and he will quickly be with you. When the prodigal, the emblem of a convinced, humbled sinner, said, in himself, I will return to my father, the father ran to meet him, Luke 15:20. He can be with you in a moment.

SIXTHLY, None so willing to receive and undertake all distressed and afflicted souls as Jesus Christ is; he refuses none that come to him. John 6:37. "He who comes unto me, I will never cast out." Whatever their sins have been, or their sorrows are; however they have wounded their own souls with the deepest gashes of guilt; how desperate and helpless soever their case appears in their own or others eyes, he never puts them off, or discourages them, if they be but willing to come, Isaiah 1:18, 19.

Seventhly, None so happy and successful as Christ; he never fails of performing a perfect cure upon those he undertakes; never was it known that any soul miscarried in his hands, John 3:15, 16. Other physicians, by mistakes, by ignorance, or carelessness, fill church-yards, and cast away the lives of men; but Christ suffers none to perish that commit themselves to him.

Eighthly, None so free and generous as Christ; he does all gratis; he sells not his medicines, though they be of infinite value; but freely gives them; Isaiah 55:1. "He who has no money, let him come." If any be sent away, it is the rich, Luke 1:53. not the poor and needy: those that will not accept the remedy as a free gift, but will needs purchase it at a price.

Ninthly, and lastly, None rejoice in the recovery of souls more than Christ does. O! it is unspeakably delightful to him to see the efficacy of his blood upon our souls; Isaiah 53:11. "He shall see the travail of his soul, (that is the success of his death and sufferings) and shall be satisfied." When he foresaw the success of the gospel upon the world, it is said, Luke 10:21. "In that hour Jesus rejoiced in Spirit." And thus you see there is no physician like Christ for sick souls.

The uses of this point are,

For information and direction

FIRST, From whence we are informed of many great and necessary truths deducible from this: As,


Inference 1. How inexpressible is the grace of God, in providing such a physician as Christ, for the sick and dying souls of sinners! O blessed be God that there is a balm in Gilead, and a Physician there! that their case is not desperate, forlorn and remediless, as that the devils and damned is. There is but one case exempted from cure, and that, such as is not incident to any sensible, afflicted soul, Matthew 12:31. and this only excepted, all manner of sins and diseases are capable of a cure. Though there be such a disease as is incurable, yet take this for your comfort, never any soul was sick, that is sensibly burdened with it, and willing to come to Jesus Christ for healing; for under that sin the will is so wounded, that they have no desire to Christ. O inestimable mercy! that the sickest sinner is capable of a perfect cure! There be thousands, and ten thousands now in Heaven and earth, who said once, Never was any case like theirs; so dangerous, so hopeless. The greatest of sinners have been perfectly recovered by Christ, 1 Timothy 1:15. 1 Corinthians 6:11. O mercy, never to be duly estimated!

Inference 2. What a powerful restraint from sin is the very method ordained by God for the cure of it! Isaiah 53:5. "By his stripes we are healed." The Physician must die, that the patient might live; no other thing but the blood, the precious blood of Christ, is found in Heaven or earth able to heal us, Hebrews 9:22, 26. This blood of Christ must be freshly applied to every new wound sin makes upon our souls, 1 John 2:1, 2. every new sin wounds him afresh, opens the wounds of Christ anew. O think of this again and again, you that so easily yield to the solicitations of Satan. Is it so easy and so cheap to sin as you seem to make it? Does the cure of souls cost nothing? True, it is free to us, but was it so to Christ? No, it was not; he knows the price of it, though you do not. Has Christ healed you by his stripes, and can you put him under fresh sufferings for you so easily? Have you forgot also your own sick days and nights for sin, that you are careless in resisting and preventing it? Sure it is not easy for saints to wound Christ, and their own souls, at one stroke. If you renew your sins, you must also renew your sorrows and repentance, Psalm 51 title. 2 Samuel 12:13. you must feel the anguish and pain of a troubled spirit again, things with which the saints are not unacquainted; of which they may say, as the church, "Remembering my affliction, the wormwood and the gall, my soul has them still in remembrance," Lamentations 3:19. Yes, and if you will be remiss in your watch, and so easily incur new guilt, though a pardon in the blood of Christ may heal your souls, yet some rod or other, in the hand of a displeased father, shall afflict your bodies, or smite you in your outward comforts, Psalm 89:23.

Inference 3. If Christ be the only physician of sick souls, what sin and folly is it for men to take Christ's work out of his hands, and attempt to be their own physician.

Thus do those that superstitiously endeavor to heal their souls by afflicting their bodies; not Christ's blood, but their own, must be the plaster: and as blind Papists, so many carnal and ignorant Protestants strive, by confession, restitution, reformation, and stricter course of life, to heal those wounds that sin has made upon their souls, without any respect to the blood of Christ: but this course shall not profit them at all. It may, for a time divert, but can never heal them: the wounds so skinned over, will open and bleed again. God grant it be not when our souls shall be out of the reach of the true and only remedy.

Inference 4. How sad is the case of those souls, to whom Christ has not yet been been a physician? They are mortally wounded by sin, and are like to die of their sickness; no saving, healing applications have hitherto been made unto their souls: and this is the case of the greatest part of mankind, yes, of them that live under the discoveries of Christ in the gospel. Which appeals by these sad symptoms.

FIRST, In that their eyes have not yet been opened, to see their sin and misery; in which illumination the cure of souls begin, Acts 26:18. To this day he has not given them eyes to see, Deuteronomy 29:4. but that terrible stroke of God which blinds and hardens them, is too visibly upon them, mentioned in Isaiah 6:9, 10. No hope of healing, until the sinner's eyes be opened to see his sin and misery.

SECONDLY, In that nothing will divorce and separate them from their lusts; a sure sign they are not under Christ's cure, nor were ever made sick of sin. O if ever Christ be a physician to your soul, he will make you loathe what now you love, and say to your most pleasant and most profitable lusts, Get you hence, Isaiah 30:22. Until then, there is no ground to think that Christ is a physician to you.

THIRDLY, In that they have no sensible and pressing need of Christ, nor make any earnest inquiry after him, as most certainly you would do, if you were in the way of healing and recovery. These, and many other sad symptoms, do too plainly discover the disease of sin, to be in its full strength upon your souls; and if it so continue, how dreadful will the issue be? See Isaiah 6:9, 10.

Inference 5. What cause have they to be glad, that are under the hand and care of Christ, in order to a cure, and who do find, or may, upon due examination, find their souls are in a very hopeful way of recovery! Can we rejoice when the strength of a natural disease is broken, and nature begins to recover ease and vigor again? And shall we not much more rejoice, when our souls begin to mend, and recover sensibly, and all comfortable signs of health and life appear upon them? particularly, when the understanding, which was ignorant and dark, has the light of life beginning to dawn into it; such is that in 1 John 2:27. When the will which was rebellious and inflexible to the will of God, is brought to comply with that holy will, saying, "Lord, what will you have me to do?" Acts 9:6. When the heart, which was harder than an adamant, is now brought to contrition for sin, and can mourn as heartily over it, as ever a father did for a dead son, a beloved and only son; when its aversations from God are gone, at least have no such power as once they had; but the thoughts are now fixed much upon God, and spiritual things begin to grow pleasant to the soul; when times of duty come to be longed for, and the soul never better pleased than in such seasons: when the hypocrisy of the heart is purged out, so that we begin to do all that we do heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men, Colossians 3:23. 1 Thessalonians 2:4. when we begin to make conscience of secret sins, Psalm 119:113. and of secret duties, Matthew 6:5, 6. when we have an equal respect to all God's commandments, Psalm 119:8. and our hearts are under the holy and awful eye of God, which does indeed over-awe our souls, Genesis 17:1. O what sweet signs of a recovering soul are these! Surely such are in the skillful hand of the great Physician, who will perfect what yet remains to be done.

Second use for direction

In the last place, this point yields matter of advice and direction to poor souls that are under the disease of sin; and they are of two sorts, which I will distinctly speak to: namely, FIRST, Such as are under their first sickness of spiritual sorrow for sin, and know not what course to take: or, SECONDLY, Such as have been longer in the hands of Christ the Physician, but are troubled to see the cure advance so slowly upon them, and fear the issue.

FIRST, As to those that are in their first troubles for sin, and know not what course to take for ease and safety; I would address to them these following counsels.

FIRST, Shut your ears against the dangerous counsels of carnal persons, or relations; for as they themselves are unacquainted with these troubles, so also are they with all proper remedies: and it is very usual with the devil to convey his temptations to distressed souls, by such hands; because, by them, he can do it with least suspicion. It was Augustine's complaint, that his own father took little care for his soul; and many parents act, in this case, as if they were employed by Satan.

SECONDLY, Be not too eager to get out of trouble, but be content to take God's way, and wait his time. No woman that is wise, would desire to have her travail hastened one day before the due time; nor will it be your interest to hasten too soon out of trouble. It is true, times of trouble are apt to seem tedious; but a false peace will endanger you more than a long trouble: a man may lengthen his own troubles to the loss of his own peace, and may shorten them to the hazard of his own soul.

THIRDLY, Open your case to wise, judicious, and experienced Christians, and especially the ministers of Christ, whose office it is to counsel and direct you in these difficulties; and let not your troubles lie, like a secret, smothering fire, always in your own breasts. I know men are more ashamed to open their sins under convictions, than they were to commit them before conviction: but this is your interest, and the true way to your rest and peace. If there be with you, or near you, an interpreter, one of a thousand, to show you your righteousness, and remedy, as it lies in Christ; neglect not your own souls, in a sinful concealment of your case: it will be the joy of their hearts to be employed in such work as this.

FOURTHLY, Be much with God in secret, open your hearts to him, and pour out your complaints into his bosom. The 102 Psalm bears a title very suitable to your case and duty; yes, you will find if your troubles work kindly, and God intend a cure upon your souls, that nothing will be able to keep God and your souls asunder: whatever your incumbrances in the world be, some time will be daily redeemed, to be spent between God and you.

FIFTHLY, Plead hard with God in prayer for help and healing. "Heal my soul, (says David) for I have sinned against you," Psalm 41:4. Tell him Christ has his commission sealed for such as you are: he was sent to "bind up the broken-hearted," Isaiah 61:1. Tell him he came into the world, "to seek and save that which "was lost," and so are you now, in your own account and apprehensions. Lord, what profit is there in my blood? Will you pursue a dried leaf? And why is my heart wounded with the sense of sin, and mine eyes open to see my danger and misery; Are not these the first dawnings of mercy upon sinners? O let it appeal, that the time of mercy, even the set time, is now come.

SIXTHLY, Understand your peace to be in Christ only, and faith to be the only way to Christ and rest; let the great inquiry of your souls be after Christ and faith; study the nature and necessity of these, and cry to God day and night for strength to carry you to Christ in the way of faith.

SECONDLY, As to those that have been longer under the hands of Christ, and yet are still in troubles, and cannot obtain peace, but their wounds bleed still, and all they hear in sermons, or do in the way of duty, will not bring them to rest; to such I only add two or three words for a close.

FIRST, Consider whether you have rightly closed with Christ since your first awakening, and whether there be not some way of sin, in which you still live: if so, no wonder your wounds are kept open, and your souls are strangers to peace.

SECONDLY, If you be conscious of no such flaw in the foundation, consider how much of this trouble may arise from your constitution and natural temper, which being melancholy, will be doubtful and suspicious; you may find it so in other cases of less moment, and be sure Satan will not be wanting to improve it.

THIRDLY, Acquaint yourselves more with the nature of true justifying faith; a mistake in that has prolonged the troubles of many; if you look for it in no other act but assurance, you may easily overlook it as it lies, in the mean time, in your affiance or acceptance. A true and proper conception of saving faith would go far in the cure of many troubled souls.

FOURTHLY, Be more thankful to shun sin, than to get yourselves clear of trouble: it is sad to walk in darkness, but worse to lie under guilt. Say, Lord, I would rather be grieved myself, than be a grief to your Spirit. O keep me from sin, how long soever you keep me under sorrow. Wait on God in the way of faith, and in a tender spirit towards sin, and your wounds shall be healed at last by your great Physician.

Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.




Containing the Second Motive to enforce the general Exhortation, from a second Title of CHRIST

LUKE 1:72, "To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and remember his holy covenant."

THIS scripture is part of Zechariah's prophecy, at the rising of that bright star, John, the harbinger and fore-runner of Christ: They are some of the first words he spoke after God had loosed his tongue, which, for a time, was struck dumb for his unbelief. His tongue is now unbound, and at liberty to proclaim to all the world, the unspeakable riches of mercy through Jesus Christ, in a song of praise. Wherein note,

The mercy celebrated, namely, redemption by Christ, verse 68.

The description of Christ by place and property, verse 69.

The faithfulness of God in our redemption this way, verse 70.

The benefit of being so redeemed by Christ, verse 71.

The exact accomplishment of all the promises made to the fathers in sending Christ, the mercy promised, into the world, verse 72. "To perform the mercy promised to our fathers," etc. In these words we find two parts, namely,

1. A mercy freely promised.

2. The promised mercy faithfully performed.

FIRST, You have a mercy freely promised, namely, by God the Father, from the beginning of the world, and often repeated and confirmed in several succeeding ages, to the fathers, in his covenant-transactions.

This mercy is Jesus Christ, of whom he speaks in this prophecy; the same which he stiles "An horn of salvation in the house of "David," verse 69.

The mercy of God in scripture, is put either for,

1. His free favor to the creature. Or,

2. The effects and fruits of that favor.

It is put for the free and undeserved favor of God to the creature, and this favor of God may respect the creature two ways, either as undeserving, or as ill-deserving.

It respected innocent man, as undeserving, for Adam could put no obligation upon his benefactor. It respects fallen man, as ill-deserving. Innocent man could not merit favor, and fallen man did merit wrath: the favor or mercy of God to both is every way free; and that is the first acceptance of the word mercy: but then it is also taken for the effects and fruits of Gods favor, and they are either,

1. Principal and primary: or,

2. Subordinate and secondary.

Of secondary and subordinate mercies, there are multitudes, both temporal, respecting the body, and spiritual, respecting the soul; but the principal and primary mercy is but one, and that is Christ, the first-born of mercy; the capital mercy, the comprehensive root-mercy, from whom are all other mercies; and therefore called by a singular emphasis in my text, The mercy; that is the mercy of all mercies; without whom no drop of saving mercy can flow to any of the sons of men; and in whom are all the tender affections of divine mercy yearning upon poor sinners. The mercy, and the mercy promised. The first promise of Christ was made to Adam, Genesis 3:15. and was frequently renewed afterwards to Abraham, to David, and as the text speaks, unto the fathers, in their respective generations.

SECONDLY, We find here also the promised mercy faithfully performed; "To perform the mercy promised." What mercy soever the love of God engaged him to promise, the faithfulness of God stands engaged for the performance thereof. Christ, the promised mercy, is not only performed truly, but he is also performed according to the promise in all the circumstances thereof, exactly. So he was promised to the fathers, and just so performed to us their children: Hence the note is,

DOCTRINE: That Jesus Christ, the mercy of mercies, was graciously promised and faithfully performed by God to his people.

Three things are here to be opened.

FIRST, Why Christ is stiled the mercy.

SECONDLY, What kind of mercy Christ is to his people.

THIRDLY, How this mercy was performed.

FIRST, Christ is the mercy, emphatically so called: the peerless, invaluable, and matchless mercy: Because he is the prime fruit of the mercy of God to sinners. The mercies of God are infinite; mercy gave the world and us our being; all our protection, provision, and comforts in this world are the fruits of mercy, the free gifts of divine favor: but Christ is the first and chief; all other mercies, compared with him, are but fruits from that root, and streams from that fountain of mercy; the very affections of divine mercy are in Christ, as in verse 78 according to the tender mercies, or as the Greek, the yearning affections of the mercy of God.

SECONDLY, Christ is the mercy, because all the mercy of God to sinners is dispensed and conveyed through Christ to them, John 1:16. Colossians 2:3. Ephesians 4:7. Christ is the medium of all divine communications, the channel of grace, through him are both the decursus et recursus gratiarum; the flows of mercy from God to us, and the returns of praise from us to God. Fond and vain therefore are all the expectations of mercy out of Christ; no drop of saving mercy runs beside this channel.

THIRDLY, Christ is the mercy, because all inferior mercies derive both their nature, value, sweetness, and duration from Christ, the fountain-mercy of all other-mercies.

FIRST, They derive their nature from Christ; for out of him, those things which men call mercies, are rather traps and snares, than mercies to them, Proverbs 1:32. The time will come when the rich that are christless, will wish, O that we had been poor! And nobles, that are now ennobled by the new birth, O that we had been among the low rank of men! All these things that pass for valuable mercies, like ciphers, signify much when such an important figure as Christ stands before them, else they signify nothing to any man's comfort or benefit.

SECONDLY, They derive their value as well as nature from Christ: For how little, I pray you, does it signify to any man to be rich, honorable, politic, and successful in all his designs in this world, if after all he must lie down in Hell?

THIRDLY, All other mercies derive their sweetness from Christ, and are but insipid things without him. There is a twofold sweetness in things; one natural, another spiritual: Those that are out of Christ can relish the first, believers only relish both. They have the natural sweetness that is in mercy itself, and a sweetness supernatural from Christ and the covenant, the way in which they receive them. Hence it is, that some men taste more spiritual sweetness in their daily bread, than others do in the Lord's supper; and the same mercy, by this means, becomes a feast to soul and body at once.

FOURTHLY, All mercies have their duration and perpetuity from Christ; all christless persons hold their mercies upon the greatest contingencies and terms of uncertainty; if they be continued during this life, that is all: there is not one drop of mercy after death. But the mercies of the saints are continued to eternity; the end of their mercies on earth, is the beginning of their better mercies in Heaven. There is a twofold end of mercies, one perfective, another destructive; the death of the saints perfects and completes their mercies; the death of the wicked destroys and cuts off their mercies. For these reasons, Christ is called the mercy.

SECONDLY, In the next place, let us inquire what kind of mercy Christ is; and we shall find many lovely and transcendent properties to commend him to our souls.

FIRST, He is free and undeserved mercy, called upon that account, The gift of God, John 4:10. And to show how free this gift was, God gave him to us when we were enemies, Romans 5:8. Needs must that mercy be free, which is given, not only to the undeserving, but to the ill-deserving; the benevolence of God was the sole, impulsive cause of this gift, John 3:16.

SECONDLY, Christ is a full mercy, replenished with all that answers to the wishes, or wants of sinners; in him alone is found whatever the justice of an angry God requires for satisfaction, or the necessities of souls require for their supply. Christ is full of mercy, both extensively, and intensively; in him are all kinds and sorts of mercies; and in him are the highest and most perfect degrees of mercy; "For it pleased the Father, that in him should all fullness dwell," Colossians 1:19.

THIRDLY, Christ is the seasonable mercy, given by the Father to us in due time, Romans 5:6. In the fullness of time, Galatians 4:4. a seasonable mercy in his exhibition to the world in general, and a seasonable mercy in his application to the soul in particular; the wisdom of God pitched upon the best time for his incarnation, and it takes the very properest for its application. When a poor soul is distressed, lost, at its wits end, and ready to perish, then comes Christ. All God's works are done in season, but none more seasonable than this great work of salvation by Christ.

FOURTHLY, Christ is the necessary mercy, there is an absolute necessity of Jesus Christ; hence in scripture he is called the "bread of life," John 4:41. he is bread to the hungry; he is the "water of life," John 7:37. as cold water to the thirsty soul. He is a ransom for captives, Matthew 20:28. a garment to the naked, Romans 13 ult. Bread is not so necessary to the hungry, nor water to the thirsty, nor a ransom to the captive, nor a garment to the naked, as Christ is to the soul of a sinner: The breath of our nostrils, the life of our souls is in Jesus Christ.

FIFTHLY, Christ is a fountain-mercy, and all other mercies flow from him: A believer may say with Christ, "All my springs are in you;" from his merit, and from his spirit, flow our redemption, justification, sanctification, peace, joy in the Holy Spirit, and blessedness in the world to come: "In that day shall there be a fountain opened," Zechariah 13:1.

SIXTHLY, Christ is a satisfying mercy; he who is full of Christ, can feel the want of nothing. "I desire to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified," 1 Corinthians 2:2. Christ bounds and terminates the vast desires of the soul: He is the very Sabbath of the soul. How hungry, empty, and straitened on every side is the soul of man in the abundance and fullness of all outward things, until it come to Christ? the weary motions of a restless soul, like those of a river, cannot be at rest until they pour themselves into Christ, the ocean of blessedness.

Seventhly, Christ is a peculiar mercy, intended for, and applied to a remnant among men; some would extend redemption as large as the world, but the gospel limits it to those only that believe; and those believers are upon that account called a peculiar people, 1 Peter 2:9. The offers of Christ indeed are large and general, but the application of Christ is but to few, Isaiah 53:1. The greater cause have they to whom Christ comes, to lie with their mouths in the dust, astonished and overwhelmed with the sense of so peculiar and distinguished a mercy.

Eighthly, Jesus Christ is a suitable mercy, suited in every respect to all our needs and wants, 1 Corinthians 1:20. wherein the admirable wisdom of God is illustriously displayed; "You are complete in him," (says the apostle) Colossians 2:20. Are we enemies? He is reconciliation: Are we sold to sin and Satan? He is redemption: Are we condemned by the law? He is the Lord our righteousness: Has sin polluted us? He is a fountain opened for sin, and for impurity: Are we lost by departing from God? He is the way to the Father. Rest is not so suitable to the weary, nor bread to the hungry, as Christ is to the sensible sinner.

Ninthly, Christ is an astonishing and wonderful mercy; his Name is called wonderful, Isaiah 9:6. and as his name is, so is he; a wonderful Christ: His Person is a wonder, 1 Timothy 3:16. "Great is the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh."

His abasement is wonderful, Philippians 2:6. His love is a wonderful love; his redemption full of wonders; angels desire to look into it. He is, and will be admired by angels and saints to all eternity.

Tenthly, Jesus Christ is an incomparable and matchless mercy; "as the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons," (says the enamored spouse) Canticles 2:3. Draw the comparison how you will between Christ and all other enjoyments, you will find none in Heaven nor on earth to equal him: He is more than all externals, as the light of the sun is more than that of a candle: Nay, even the worst of Christ is better than the best of the world; his reproaches are better than the worlds pleasures, Hebrews 11:25. He is more than all spirituals, as the fountain is more than the stream. He is more than justification, as the cause is more than the effect; more than sanctification, as the person himself is more than the image or picture. He is more than all peace, all comfort, all joy, as the tree is more than the fruit. Nay, draw the comparison between Christ and things eternal, and you will find him better than they; for what is in Heaven without Christ, Psalm 73:25. "Whom have I in Heaven but you?" If Christ should say to the saints, take Heaven among you, but as for me I will withdraw myself from you; the saints would weep, even in Heaven itself, and say, Lord, Heaven will be no more Heaven to us, except you be there, who are by far the better half of Heaven.

Eleventhly, Christ is an unsearchable mercy; who can fully express his wonderful name? Proverbs 30:4. Who can tell over his unsearchable riches? Ephesians 3:8. Hence it is that souls never tire in the study or love of Christ, because new wonders are eternally rising out of him. He is a deep which no line of any created understanding, angelical or human, can fathom.

Twelfthly, and lastly, Christ is an everlasting mercy; "the same yesterday, to day, and forever," Hebrews 13:8. All other enjoyments are perishable, time-eaten things; time, like a moth, will fret them out; but the riches of Christ are durable riches, Proverbs 8:18. The graces of Christ are durable graces, John 4:14. All the creatures are flowers, that appear and fade in their month; but this Rose of Sharon, this Lily of the Valley never withers. Thus you see the mercy performed with its desirable properties.

THIRDLY, The last thing to be opened is the manner of God's performing his mercy to his people; which the Lord did,

1. Really and truly, as he had promised him.

2. Exactly agreeable to the promises and predictions of him.

FIRST, Really and truly; as he had promised, so he made good the promise. Acts 2:36. "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made that same Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."

The manifestation of Christ in the flesh was no phantasm or delusion, but a most evident and palpable truth. 1 John 1:1. "That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, "which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled." A truth so certain, that the asserters of it appealed to the very enemies of Christ for the certainty thereof, Acts 2:22. Yes, not only the sacred, but profane writers, witness to it; not only the evangelists and apostles, but even the heathen writers of those times, both Roman and Jewish, as Suetonius, Tacitus, Plinius the younger, and Josephus the Jewish antiquary, do all acknwledge it.

SECONDLY, As God did really and truly perform Christ the promised mercy, so he performed this promised mercy exactly agreeable to the promises, types, and predictions made of him to the fathers, even the most minute circumstances thereof. This is a great truth for our faith to be established in: let us, therefore, cast our eyes both upon the promises and performances of God, with respect to Christ, the mercy of mercies. See how he was represented to the fathers long before his manifestation in the flesh; and what an one he appeared to be when he was really exhibited in the flesh.

FIRST, As to his person and qualifications, as it was foretold, so it was fulfilled. His original was said to be unsearchable and eternal, Micah 5:2. and so he affirmed himself to be, Revelation 1:11. "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last." John 6:31, 32. "Before Abraham was, I am." His two natures, united into one person, were plainly foretold, Zechariah 13:7. The man my Fellow; and such a one God performed, Romans 9:5. His immaculate purity and holiness were foretold, Daniel 9:24. "To anoint the most Holy;" some render it, the great Saint, the Prince of Saints; and such an one he was indeed, when he lived in this world. John 8:46. "Which of you convinces me of sin?" His Offices were foretold, the prophetic Office predicted, Deuteronomy 18:15. and fulfilled in him, John 1:18. His priestly Office foretold, Psalm 110:4. fulfilled, Hebrews 9:14. his kingly Office foretold, Micah 5:2. and in him fulfilled; his very enemies being judges, Matthew 27:37.

SECONDLY, As to his birth, the time, place, and manner thereof were foretold to the fathers, and exactly performed to a tittle.

FIRST, The time prefixed, more generally in Jacob's prophecy, Genesis 44:10. When the scepter should depart from Judah, as, indeed, it did in Herod the Idumean: More particularly in Daniels seventy weeks, from the decree of Darius, Daniel 9:24. answering exactly to the time of his birth; so cogent and full of proof, that Porphyry, the great enemy of Christians, had no other evasion, but that this prophecy was devised after the event: Which yet the Jews (as bitter enemies to Christ as himself) will by no means allow to be true. And, lastly, the time of his birth was exactly pointed at in Haggai's prophecy, Hag. 2:7, 9. compared with Malachi 3:1. He must come while the second temple stood; at that time was a general expectation of him, John 1:19. and at that very time he came, Luke 2:38.

SECONDLY, The place of his birth was foretold to be Bethlehem Ephrata, Micah 5:2. and so it was, Matthew 2:5, 6. to be brought up in Nazareth, Zechariah 6:12. "Behold the man whose name is "the Branch." The word is Netzer, whence is the word Nazarite. And there indeed was our Lord brought up, Matthew 2:23.

THIRDLY, His parent was to be a virgin, Isaiah 7:14. punctually fulfilled, Matthew 1:20, 21, 22, 23.

FOURTHLY, His stock, or tribe, was foretold to be Judah, Genesis 49:10. and it is evident, says the apostle, "that our Lord "sprang out of Judah," Hebrews 7:14.

FIFTHLY, His harbinger, or forerunner was foretold, Malachi 4:5, 6. fulfilled in John the Baptist, Luke 1:16, 17.

SIXTHLY, The obscurity and baseness of his birth were predicted, Isaiah 53:2. Zechariah 9:9. to which the event answered, Luke 2:12.

THIRDLY, His doctrine and miracles were foretold, Isaiah 16:1, 2. 35:4, 5. the accomplishment whereof in Christ is evident in the history of all the evangelists.

FOURTHLY, His death for us was foretold by the prophets, Daniel 9:26. "The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself:" Isaiah 53:5. "He was wounded for our transgressions." And so he was, John 11:50. The very kind and manner of his death was prefigured in the brazen serpent, his type; and answered in his death upon the cross, John 3:14.

FIFTHLY, His burial in the tomb of a rich man was foretold, Isaiah 53:9 and accomplished most exactly, Matthew 27:59, 60.

SIXTHLY, His resurrection from the dead was typed out in Jonah, and fulfilled in Christ's abode three days and nights in the grave, Matthew 12:49.

Seventhly, The wonderful spreading of the gospel in the world, even to the Isles of the Gentiles, was prophesied of, Isaiah 49:6 to the truth whereof we are not only the witnesses, but the happy instances and examples of it. Thus the promised mercy was performed.


Inference 1. If Christ be the mercy of mercies, the medium of conveying all other mercies from God to men; then in vain do men expect and hope for mercy of God out of Jesus Christ.

I know many poor sinners comfort themselves with this, when they come upon a bed of sickness; I am sinful, but God is merciful: and it is very true God is merciful; plenteous in mercy; his mercy is great above the heavens; mercy pleases him; and all this they that are in Christ shall find experimentally, to their comfort and salvation. But what is all this to you, if you are Christless? There is not one drop of saving mercy that comes in any other channel than Christ to the soul of any man.

But must I then expect no mercy out of Christ? This is a hard case, very uncomfortable doctrine. Yes, you may be a Christ-less, and covenantless soul, and yet have variety of temporal mercies, as Ishmael had, Genesis 17:20, 21. God may give you the fatness of the earth, riches, honors, pleasures, a numerous and prosperous posterity; will that content you? Yes, yes, if I may have Heaven too: No, neither Heaven, nor pardon, nor any other spiritual or eternal mercy may be expected out of Christ, Jude, verse 21. O deceive not yourselves in this point; there are two bars between you and all spiritual mercies, namely, the guilt of sin, and the filth of sin; and nothing but your own union with Christ can remove these, and so open the passage for spiritual mercies to your souls.

Why, but I will repent of sin, strive to obey the commands of God, make restitution for the wrongs I have done, cry to God for mercy, bind my soul with vows and strong resolutions against sin for time to come: will not all this lay a ground-work for hope of mercy to my soul? No, this will not, this cannot do.

FIRST, All your sorrows, tears and mournings for sin cannot obtain mercy; could you shed as many tears for any sin that ever you committed, as all the children of Adam have shed upon any account whatever, since the creation of the world; they will not purchase the pardon of that one sin; for the law accepts no short payment; it requires plenary satisfaction, and will not discharge any soul without it; nor can it acknowledge or own your souls to be such. The repentance of a soul finds, through Christ, acceptance with God, but out of him it is nothing.

SECONDLY, All your strivings to obey the commands of God, and live more strictly for time to come, will not obtain mercy. Matthew 5:20. "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of Heaven."

THIRDLY, Your restitution, and reparation of wrongs you have done, cannot obtain mercy. Judas restored, and yet was damned. Man is repaired, but God is not. Remission is the act of God, it is he must loose your consciences from the bond of guilt, or they can never be loosed.

FOURTHLY, All your cries to God for mercy will not prevail for mercy, if you be out of Christ, Matthew 7:22. Job 27:2–9. A righteous judge will not rever. the just sentence of the law, though the prisoner at the bar fall upon his knees, and cry, Mercy, mercy.

FIFTHLY, Your vows and engagements to God for time to come cannot obtain mercy; for they being made in your own strength, it is impossible you should keep them; and if you could, yet it is impossible they should obtain remission and mercy: should you never sin more for time to come, yet how shall God be satisfied for sins past? Justice must have satisfaction, or you can never have remission, Romans 3:25, 26. and no work wrought by man can satisfy divine justice; nor is the satisfaction of Christ made over to any for their discharge, but to such only as are in him: therefore never expect mercy out of Christ.

Inference 2. Is Christ, the mercy of mercies, greater, better, and more necessary than all other mercies: then let no inferior mercy satisfy you for your portion.

God has mercies of all sorts to give, but Christ is the chief, the prime mercy of all mercies; O be not satisfied without that mercy. When Luther had a rich present sent him, "he protested God should not put him off so:" and David was of the same mind, Psalm 17:14. If the Lord should give any of you the desires of your hearts in the good things of this life, let not that satisfy you, while you are Christless. For,

FIRST, What is there in these earthly enjoyments, whereof the vilest men have not a greater fullness than you? Job 21:7, 8, 9, 10, 11. Psalm 17:10. and 73:3, 12.

SECONDLY, What comfort can all these things give to a soul already condemned as you are; John 3:18.

THIRDLY, What sweetness can be in them, while they are all unsanctified things to you? enjoyments and sanctification are two distinct things, Psalm 37:16. Proverbs 10:22. Thousands of unsanctified enjoyments will not yield your souls one drop of solid spiritual comfort.

FOURTHLY, What pleasure can you take in these things, of which death must shortly strip you naked? You must die, you must die; and whose then shall all those things be, for which you have labored? Be not so fond, to think of leaving a great name behind you: it is but a poor felicity (as Chrysostom well observes) to be tormented where you are, and praised where you are not: the sweeter your portion has been on earth, the more intolerable will your condition be in Hell; yes, these earthly delights do not only increase the torments of the damned, but also prepare (as they are instruments of sin) the souls of men for damnation, Proverbs 1:32. "Surely the prosperity of fools shall destroy them." Be restless, therefore, until Christ, the mercy of mercies, be the root and fountain, yielding and sanctifying all other mercies to you.

Inference 3. Is Christ, the mercy of mercies, infinitely better than all other mercies? then let all that be in Christ be content, and well satisfied, whatever other inferior mercies the wisdom of God sees fit to deny them. You have a Benjamin's portion, a plentiful inheritance in Christ; will you yet complain? Others have houses, splendid and magnificent upon earth; but you have "an house made without hands, eternal in the heavens," 2 Cor.5:1. Others are clothed with rich and costly apparel, your souls are clothed with the white, pure robes of Christ's righteousness. Isaiah 61:10. "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God: for he has clothed me with the garment of Salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels." Let those that have full tables, heavy purses, rich lands, but no Christ, be rather objects of your pity, than envy: it is better, like store-cattle, to be kept lean and hungry, than with the fatted ox, to tumble in flowery meadows, thence to be lead away to the shambles. God has not a better mercy to give than Christ, your portion; in him all necessary mercies are secured to you, and your wants and straits sanctified to your good. O! therefore, never open your mouth to complain against the bountiful God.

Inference 4. Is Christ the mercy, that is he in whom all the tender mercies of God towards poor sinners are; then let none be discouraged in going to Christ, by reason of the sin and unworthiness that are in them: his very name is mercy, and as his name is, so is he. Poor drooping sinner, encourage yourself in the way of faith; the Christ to whom you are going, is mercy itself to broken hearted sinners moving towards him in the way of faith; doubt not that mercy will repulse you; it is against both its name and nature so to do. Jesus Christ is so merciful to poor souls that come to him, that he has received and pardoned the chief of sinners; men that stood as remote from mercy as any in the world, 1 Timothy 1:15. 1 Corinthians 6:11. Those that shed the blood of Christ, have yet been washed in that blood from their sin, Acts 2:36, 37. Mercy receives sinners, without exception of great and heinous ones. John 7:37. "If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink." Gospel invitations run, in general terms, to all sinners that are heavy laden, Matthew 11:28. When Mr. Bilney the martyr heard a minister preaching at this rate, O you old sinner, who have been serving the devil these fifty or sixty years; do you think that Christ will receive you now? O! said he, what a preaching of Christ is here? Had Christ been thus preached to me in the day of my trouble for sin, what had become of me? But, blessed be God there is a sufficiency both of merit and mercy in Jesus Christ for all sinners, for the vilest among sinners, whose hearts shall be made willing to come unto him. So merciful is the Lord Jesus Christ, that he moves first, Isaiah 62:1, 2. so merciful, that he upbraids none, Ezekiel 18:22. so merciful, that he will not despise the weakest, if sincere, desires of souls, Isaiah 42:3. so merciful, that nothing more grieves him than our unwillingness to come unto him for mercy, John 5:40. so merciful, that he waits to the last upon sinners to show them mercy, Romans 10:21. Matthew 23:37. in a word, so merciful, that it is his greatest joy when sinners come unto him, that he may show them mercy, Luke 15:5, 22.

Objection: But yet it cannot enter into my thoughts that I should obtain mercy.

Sol. FIRST, You measure God by yourselves, 1 Samuel 24:19. "If a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away?" Man will not, but the merciful God will, upon the submission of the enemies to him.

SECONDLY, You are discouraged, because you have not tried. Go to Jesus Christ, poor distressed sinners; try him, and then report what a Christ you find him to be.

Objection: But I have neglected the time of mercy, and now it is too late.

Sol. How know you that? Have you seen the book of life, or turned over the records of eternity? Or do you not unwarrantably intrude into the secrets of God, which belong not to you? Besides, if the treaty were at an end, how is it that your heart is now distressed for sin, and solicitous after deliverance from it?

Objection: But I have waited long, and yet see no mercy for me.

Sol. May not mercy be coming, and you not see it? Or have you not waited at the wrong door? If you wait for the mercy of God through Christ, in the way of humiliation and faith, and continue waiting, assuredly mercy shall come at last.

Inference 5. Has God performed the mercy promised to the Fathers, the great mercy, the capital mercy, Jesus Christ; then let no man distrust God for the performance of lesser mercies contained in any other promises of the scripture. The performance of this mercy secures the performance of all other mercies to us. For,

FIRST, Christ is a greater mercy than any other which yet remains to be performed, Romans 8:32.

SECONDLY, This mercy virtually comprehends all other mercies, 1 Corinthians 3:21, 22, 23.

THIRDLY, The promises that contain all other mercies, are ratified and confirmed to believers in Christ, 2 Corinthians 1:20.

FOURTHLY, It was much more improbable that God would bestow his own Son upon the world, than that he should bestow any other mercy upon it. Wait, therefore, in a comfortable expectation of the fulfilling of all the rest of the promises in their seasons. Has he given you Christ? He will give you bread to eat, clothing to put on, support in troubles, and whatever else your soul or body stands in need of: The blessings contained in all other promises are fully secured by the performance of this great promise; your pardon, peace, acceptance with God now, and enjoyment of him forever shall be fulfilled: The great mercy, Christ, makes way for all other mercies to the souls of believers.

Inference 6. Lastly, How mad are they that part with Christ, the best of mercies, to secure and preserve any temporal lesser mercies to themselves! Thus Demas and Judas gave up Christ to gain a little of the world; O soul-undoing bargain! How dear do they pay for the world, that purchase it with the loss of Christ, and their own peace forever!

Blessed be God for Jesus Christ, the Mercy of mercies.




Containing a third Motive to enliven the general Exhortation from a third Title of CHRIST

CANTICLES 5:16, "Yes, He is altogether lovely!"

AT the ninth verse of this chapter, you have a query propounded to the spouse, by the daughters of Jerusalem, "What is your beloved more than another beloved?" To this question the spouse returns her answers in the following verses, wherein she asserts his excellency in general. Verse 10. "He is the chief among ten thousands;" confirms that general assertion, by an enumeration of his particular excellencies, to verse 16. where she closes up her character and encomium of her beloved, with an elegant epiphonema, in the words that I have read: "Yes, he is altogether lovely."

The words, you see, are an affirmative proposition, setting forth the transcendent loveliness of the Lord Jesus Christ; and naturally resolve themselves into three parts, namely,

1. The subject.

2. The predicate.

3. The manner of predication.

FIRST, The subject, He, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ, after whom she had been seeking, for whom she was sick of love; concerning whom these daughters of Jerusalem had inquired: whom she had endeavored so graphically to describe in his particular excellencies. This is the great and excellent subject of whom she here speaks.

SECONDLY, The predicate, or what she affirms or says of him, namely, That he is a lovely one, Machamaddim, desires; according to the import of the original, "which signifies earnestly to desire, covet, or long after that which is most pleasant, grateful, delectable, and admirable." The original word is both in the abstract, and of the plural number, which speaks Christ to be the very essence of all delights and pleasures, the very soul and substance of them. As all the rivers are gathered into the ocean, which is the congregation or meeting-place of all the waters in the world: so Christ is that ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet.

THIRDLY, The manner of predication; He is [altogether] lovely, Totus, totus desiderabilis; lovely in all, and in every part; as if she had said, Look on him in what respect or particular you will; cast your eye upon this lovely object, and view him any way; turn him in your serious thoughts which way you will; consider his person, his offices, his works, or any other thing belonging to him; you will find him altogether lovely, There is nothing ungrateful in him, there is nothing lovely without him. Hence note,

DOCTRINE: That Jesus Christ is the loveliest person souls can set their eyes upon, Psalm 45:2. "You are fairer than the children of men."

That is said of Jesus Christ, which cannot be said of any creature; that he is "altogether lovely." In opening this lovely point I shall,

1. Weigh the importance of this phrase "altogether lovely."

2. Show you in what respect Christ is so.

FIRST, Let us weigh this excellent expression, and particularly consider what is contained in it, and you shall find this expression "altogether lovely."

FIRST, That it excludes all unloveliness and distastefulness from Jesus Christ. So Vatablus; "There is nothing in him which is not amiable." The excellencies of Jesus Christ are perfectly exclusives of all their opposites; there is nothing of a contrary nature or quality found in him to alloy or debase his excellency. And in this respect Christ infinitely transcends the most excellent and loveliest creatures. For whatever loveliness is found in them, it is not without a distasteful tang; the fairest pictures must have their shadows: The most orient and transcendent stones must have their foils to set off their beauty; the best creature is but a bitter sweet at best: If there be somewhat pleasing, there is also somewhat distasting; if there be gracious and natural excellencies in the same person to delight us, yet there is also some natural corruption intermixed with it to distaste us: But it is not so in our altogether lovely Christ; his excellencies are pure and unmixed; he is a sea of sweetness without one drop of gall.

SECONDLY, Altogether lovely, that is as there is nothing unlovely found in him, so all that is in him is wholly lovely; as every ray of God is precious, so everything that is in Christ is precious: Who can weigh Christ in a pair of balances, and tell you what his worth is? "His price is above rubies, and all that you can desire is not to be compared with him," Proverbs 8:11.

THIRDLY, Altogether lovely, that is He is comprehensive of all things that are lovely: he seals up the sum of all loveliness: Quζ faciunt divisa beatum, in hoc mixta fluunt: Things that shine as single stars with a particular glory, all meet in Christ as a glorious constellation. Colossians 1:19. "It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell." Cast your eyes among all created beings, survey the universe, observe strength in one, beauty in a second, faithfulness in a third, wisdom in a fourth; but you shall find none excelling in them all as Christ does. Bread has one quality, water another, clothing another, physic another; but none has all in itself as Christ has: He is bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, a garment to the naked, healing to the wounded; and whatever a soul can desire is found in him, 1 Corinthians 1:30.

FOURTHLY, Altogether lovely, that is Nothing is lovely in opposition to him, or in separation from him. If he be altogether lovely, then whatever is opposite to, or separate from him can have no loveliness in it; take away Christ, and where is the loveliness of any enjoyment? The best creature-comfort out of Christ, is but a broken cistern; it cannot hold one drop of true comfort, Psalm 73:26. It is with the creature, the sweetest and loveliest creature, as with a beautiful image in the glass: turn away the face and where is the image? Riches, honors, and comfortable relations are sweet when the face of Christ smiles upon us through them; but without him, what empty trifles are they all?

FIFTHLY, Altogether lovely, that is Transcending, all created excellencies in beauty and loveliness; so much it speaks. If you compare Christ and other things, be they never so lovely, never so excellent and desirable; Christ carries away all loveliness from them; "He is (says the apostle) before all things," Colossians 1:17. Not only before all things in time, nature, and order; but before all things in dignity, glory, and true excellency: In all things he must have the pre-eminence. For let us but compare Christ's excellency with the creature's in a few particulars, and how evidently will the transcendent loveliness of Jesus Christ appear! For,

FIRST, All other loveliness is derivative and secondary; but the loveliness of Christ original and primary. Angels and men, the world and all the desirables in it, receive what excellency they have from him; they are streams from the fountain. But as the waters in the fountain itself are more abundant, so more pure and pleasant than in the streams. And the farther anything departs, and is removed from its fountain and original, the less excellency there is in it.

SECONDLY, The loveliness and excellency of all other things, is but relative and respective, consisting in its reference to Christ, and subserviency to his glory; but Christ is lovely, considered absolutely in himself: He is desirable for himself, other things are so for him.

THIRDLY, The beauty and loveliness of all other things is fading and perishing; but the loveliness of Christ is fresh to all eternity: the sweetness of the best creatures is a fading flower; if not before, yet certainly at death it must fade away. Job 4:21. "Does not their excellency, which is in them, go away?" Yes, yes, whether natural excellencies of the body, or acquired endowments of the mind, lovely features, amiable qualities, attracting excellencies; all these like pleasant flowers are withered, faded, and destroyed by death; "but Christ is still the same, yesterday, to day, and forever," Hebrews 13:8.

FOURTHLY, The beauty and holiness of creatures are ensnaring and dangerous; a man may make an idol thereof, and dote beyond the bounds of moderation upon them, but there is no danger of excess in the love of Christ. The soul is then in the healthiest frame and temper when it is most sick of love to Christ, Canticles 5:8.

FIFTHLY, The loveliness of every creature is of a cloying and glutting nature; our estimation of it abates and sinks by our nearer approach to it, or longer enjoyment of it: creatures, like pictures, are fairest at a due distance, but it is not so with Christ; the nearer the soul approaches him, and the longer it lives in the enjoyment of him, still the more sweet and desirable is he.

SIXTHLY, and lastly, All other loveliness is unsatisfying and straitening to the soul of man; there is not room enough in any one, or in all the creatures for the soul of man to dilate and expatiate itself; but it still feels itself confined and narrowed within those strait limits: And this comes to pass from the inadequateness and unsuitableness of the creature, to the nobler and more excellent soul of man, which like a ship in a narrow river has not room to turn; and besides, is ever and anon striking ground and foundering in those shallows. But Jesus Christ is every way adequate to the vast desires of the soul; in him it has sea-room enough; there it may spread all its sails, no fear of touching the bottom. And thus you see what is the importance of this phrase, Altogether lovely.

SECONDLY, Next I promised to show you in what respects Jesus Christ is altogether lovely. And,

FIRST, He is altogether lovely in his person: a Deity dwelling in flesh, John 1:14. The wonderful union and perfection of the divine and human nature in Christ, render him an object of admiration and adoration to angels and men, 1 Timothy 3:16. God never presented to the world such a vision of glory before: And then consider how the human nature of our Lord Jesus Christ is replenished with all the graces of the Spirit, so as never any of all the saints was filled; O how lovely does this render him! John 3:34. "God gives not the Spirit by measure unto him." This makes him fairer than the children of men, grace being poured into his lips, Psalm 45:2. If a small measure of grace in the saints make them such sweet and desirable companions, what must the riches and fullness of the Spirit of grace filling Jesus Christ without measure, make him in the eyes of believers? O what a glory and luster must it stamp upon him!

SECONDLY, He is altogether lovely in his offices: for let us but consider the suitableness, fullness, and comfortableness of them.

FIRST, The suitableness of the offices of Christ to the miseries and wants of men; and we cannot but adore the infinite wisdom of God in his investiture with them; we are, by nature, blind and ignorant, at best but groping in the dim light of nature after God, Acts 17:27. Jesus Christ is a light to lighten the Gentiles, Isaiah 49:6. When this great prophet came into the world, then did the day-spring from on high visit us, Luke 1:78. The state of nature is a state of alienation from, and enmity against God; Christ comes into the world an atoning sacrifice, making peace by the blood of his cross, Colossians 1:20. All the world, by nature, are in bondage and captivity to Satan, a lamentable thraldom; Christ comes with kingly power, to rescue sinners, as a prey from the mouth of the terrible one.

SECONDLY, Let the fullness of his offices be also considered, by reason whereof he is able "to save to the uttermost, all that come to God by him," Hebrews 7:25. The three offices, comprising in them all that our souls do need, become a universal relief to all our wants; and therefore,

THIRDLY, Unspeakably comfortable must the offices of Christ be to the souls of sinners. If light be pleasant to our eyes, how pleasant is that light of life springing from the Sun of righteousness! Malachi 4:2. If a pardon be sweet to a condemned malefactor, how sweet must the sprinkling the blood of Jesus be to the trembling conscience of a law-condemned sinner? If a rescue from a cruel tyrant be sweet to a poor captive, how sweet must it be to the ears of enslaved sinners, to hear the voice of liberty and deliverance proclaimed by Jesus Christ? Out of the several offices of Christ, as out of so many fountains, all the promises of the new covenant flow, as so many soul-refreshing streams of peace and joy: all the promises of illumination, counsel and direction flow out of the prophetic office; all the promises of reconciliation, peace, pardon, and acceptance flow out of the priestly office, with the sweet streams of joy, and spiritual comforts depending thereupon; all the promises of converting, increasing, defending, directing, and supplying grace, flow out of the kingly office of Christ; indeed, all promises may be reduced to the three offices: so that Jesus Christ must needs be altogether lovely in his offices.

THIRDLY, Jesus Christ is altogether lovely in his relations.

FIRST, He is a lovely Redeemer, Isaiah 61:1. He came to open the prison-doors to them that are bound. Needs must this Redeemer be a lovely one, if we consider the depth of misery from which he redeemed us, even "from the wrath to come," 1 Thess.1:10. How lovely was Titus, in the eyes of the poor enthralled Greeks, whom he delivered from their bondage! this endeared him to them to that degree, that when their liberty was proclaimed, they even trod one another to death to see the herald that proclaimed it; and all the night following, with instruments of music, danced about his tent, crying with united voices, "a Savior, a Savior." Or, whether we consider the numbers redeemed, and the means of their redemption. Revelation 5:9. And they sang a new song, saying, "You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood, out of every kindred and tongue, and people, and nation." He redeemed us not with silver and gold, but with his own precious blood, by way of price, 1 Peter 1:18, 19. with his out-stretched and glorious arm, by way of power, Colossians 1:13. he redeemed us freely, Ephesians 1:7. fully, Romans 8:1. seasonably, Galatians 4:4. and out of special and peculiar love, John 17:9. In a word, he has redeemed us forever, never more to come into bondage, 1 Peter 1:5. John 10:28. O how lovely is Jesus Christ in the relation of a Redeemer to God's elect!

SECONDLY, He is a lovely bridegroom to all that he espouses to himself. How does the church glory in him, in the words following my text; "this is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, O you daughters of Jerusalem!" q. d. Heaven and earth cannot show such another: which needs no fuller proof than the following particulars.

FIRST, That he espouses to himself, in mercy and in loving-kindness, such deformed, defiled, and altogether unworthy souls as we are; who have no beauty, no excellency to make us desirable in his eyes; all the springs of his love to us are in his own breast, Deuteronomy 7:7. he chooses us, not because we were, but that he might make us lovely, Eph.5:27. he passed by us when we lay in our blood, and said unto us, Live; and that was the time of love, Ezekiel 16:5.

SECONDLY, He expects nothing with us, and yet bestows himself, and all that he has, upon us. Our poverty cannot enrich him, but he made himself poor to enrich us, 2 Corinthians 8:9. 1 Corinthians 3:22.

THIRDLY, No husband loves the wife of his bosom, as Christ loved his people, Ephesians 5:25. He loved the church and gave himself for it.

FOURTHLY, None bears with weaknesses and provocations as Christ does; the church is stiled "the Lamb's wife," Revelation 19:9.

FIFTHLY, No husband is so immortal and everlasting a husband as Christ is; death separates all other relations, but the soul's union with Christ is not dissolved in the grave; yes, the day of a believer's death, is his marriage day, the day of his fullest enjoyment of Christ. No husband can say to his wife, what Christ says to the believer, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you," Hebrews 13:5.

SIXTHLY, No bridegroom advances his bride to such honors by marriage, as Christ does; he relates them to God as their father, and from that day the mighty and glorious angels think it no dishonor to be their servants, Hebrews 1:14. they are brought in admiring the beauty and glory of the spouse of Christ, Revelation 21:9.

Seventhly, and lastly, No marriage was ever consummated with such triumphal solemnity, as the marriage of Christ and believers shall be in Heaven, Psalm 45:14, 15. "She shall be brought to the king in clothing of needle-work, the virgins, her companions that follow her, shall be brought unto you; with gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the king's palace." Among the Jews the marriage-house was called Bethillula, the house of praise; there was joy upon all hands, but none like the joy that will be in Heaven, when believers, the spouse of Christ, shall be brought thither: God the Father will rejoice, to behold the blessed accomplishment and confirmation of those glorious designs of his love. Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, will rejoice to see the travail of his soul, the blessed birth and issue of all his bitter pangs and agonies, Isaiah 53:11. The Holy Spirit will rejoice to see the completion and perfection of that sanctifying design which was committed to his hand, 2 Corinthians 5:5. to see those souls whom he once found as rough stones, now to shine as the bright, polished stones of the spiritual temple. Angels will rejoice: great was the joy when the foundation of this design was laid, in the incarnation of Christ, Luke 2:13. great therefore must their joy be, when the top-stone is set up with shouting, crying, Grace, grace, The saints themselves shall rejoice unspeakably, when they shall enter into the King's palace, and be forever with the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Indeed there will be joy on all hands, except among the devils and damned, who shall gnash their teeth with envy at the everlasting advancement and glory of believers.

Thus Christ is altogether lovely, in the relation of a Bridegroom.

THIRDLY, Christ is altogether lovely, in the relation of an Advocate. 1 John 2:1. "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the Atoning sacrifice ;" it is he who pleads the cause of believers in Heaven; appears for them in the presence of God, to prevent all new breaches, and continues the state of friendship and peace between God and us. In this relation Christ is altogether lovely. For,

FIRST, He makes our cause his own, and acts for us in Heaven, as for himself, Hebrews 4:15. He is touched with the tender sense of our troubles and dangers, and is not only one with us, by way of representation, but also one with us in respect of sympathy and affection.

SECONDLY, Christ our Advocate, follows our suit and business in Heaven, as his great and main design and business; therefore, in Hebrews 7:25. he is said to "live forever to make intercession for us;" as if our concernments were so minded by him there, as to give up himself wholly to that work, as if all the glory and honor which is paid him in Heaven would not satisfy him, or divert him one moment from our business.

THIRDLY, He pleads the cause of believers by his blood; it satisfies him not, as other advocates, to be at the expense of words and oratory, which is a cheaper way of pleading; but he pleads for us by the voice of his own blood, Hebrews 12:24. where we are said to be come "to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things than that of Abel:" Every wound he received for us on earth, is a mouth opened to plead with God on our behalf in Heaven; Quot vulnera, tot ora. And hence it is, that in Revelation 5:6. he is represented standing before God, as a lamb that had been slain; as it were, exhibiting and opening in Heaven those deadly wounds received on earth, from the justice of God, on our account. Other advocates spend their breath, Christ his blood.

FOURTHLY, He pleads the cause of believers freely. Other advocates plead for reward, and exhaust the purses, while they plead the causes of their clients.

FIFTHLY, In a word, he obtains for us all the mercies for which he pleads; no cause miscarries in his hand, which he undertakes, Romans 8:33, 34. O what a lovely Advocate is Christ for believers!

FOURTHLY, Christ is altogether lovely in the relation of a friend, for in this relation he is pleased to own his people, Luke 12:4, 5. There are certain things in which one friend manifests his affection and friendship to another, but none like Christ. For,

FIRST, No friend is so open-hearted to his friend as Christ is to his people: he reveals the very counsels and secrets of his heart to them. John 15:15. "Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knows not what his Lord does; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you."

SECONDLY, No friend in the world is so generous and bountiful to his friend, as Jesus Christ is to believers; John 15:13. he parts with his very blood for them; "Greater love (says he) has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." He has exhausted the precious treasures of his invaluable blood to pay our debts. O what a lovely friend is Jesus Christ to believers!

THIRDLY, No friend sympathizes so tenderly with his friend in affliction, as Jesus Christ does with his friends: "In all our afflictions he is afflicted," Hebrews 4:15. He feels all our sorrows, wants and burdens as his own. Whence it is that the sufferings of believers are called the sufferings of Christ, Colossians 1:24.

FOURTHLY, No friend in the world takes that delight in his friend, as Jesus Christ does in believers. Canticles 4:9. "You have ravished my heart, (says he to the spouse) you have ravished my heart with one of your eyes, with one chain of your neck." The Hebrew, here rendered ravished, signifies to puff up, or to make one proud: how is the Lord Jesus pleased to glory in his people! how is he taken and delighted with those gracious ornaments which himself bestows upon them! No friend so lovely as Christ.

FIFTHLY, No friend in the world loves his friend with so fervent and strong affection as Jesus Christ loves believers. Jacob loved Rachel, and endured for her sake the parching heat of summer and cold of winter; but Christ endured the storms of the wrath of God, the heat of his indignation, for our sakes. David manifested his love to Absalom, in wishing, "O that I had died for you!" Christ manifested his love to us, not in wishes that he had died, but in death itself, in our stead, and for our sakes.

SIXTHLY, No friend in the world is so constant and unchangeable in friendship as Christ is, John 13:1. "Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end." He bears with millions of provocations and injuries, and yet will not break friendship with his people. Peter denied him, yet he will not disown him; but after his resurrection he says, "Go, tell the disciples, and tell Peter," q. d. Let him not think he has forfeited, by that sin of his, his interest in me; though he have denied me, I will not disown him, Mark 16:7. O how lovely is Christ in the relation of a friend! I might farther show you the loveliness of Christ in his ordinances and in his providences, in his communion with us and communications to us, but there is no end of the account of Christ's loveliness: I will rather chose to press believers to their duties towards this altogether lovely Christ, which I shall briefly dispatch in a few words.

Use. FIRST, Is Jesus Christ altogether lovely, then I beseech you set your souls upon this lovely Jesus. Methinks such an object as has been here represented, should compel love from the coldest breast and hardest heart. Away with those empty nothings, away with this vain deceitful world, which deserves not the thousandth part of the love you give it; let all stand aside and give way to Christ. O did you but know his worth and excellency, what he is in himself, what he has done for, and deserved from you, you would need no arguments of mine to persuade you to love him.

SECONDLY, Esteem nothing lovely but as it is enjoyed in Christ, or improved for Christ. Affect nothing for itself, love nothing separate from Jesus Christ. In two things we all sin in love of creatures, namely, in the excess of our affections, loving them above the rate and value of creatures; and in the inordinancy of our affections, that is in loving them out of their proper places.

THIRDLY, Let us all be humbled for the baseness of our hearts, that are so free of their affections to vanities and trifles, and so hard to be persuaded to the love of Christ, who is altogether lovely. O how many pour out streams of love and delight upon the vain and empty creature; while no arguments can draw forth one drop of love from their obdurate and unbelieving hearts to Jesus Christ! I have read of one Joannes Mollius, who was observed to go often alone, and weep bitterly; and being pressed by a friend to know the cause of his troubles; O! said he, it grieves me that I cannot bring this heart of mine to love Jesus Christ more fervently.

FOURTHLY, Represent Christ, as he is, to the world, by your carriage towards him. Is he altogether lovely; let all the world see and know that he is so, by your delights in him and communion with him; zeal for him, and readiness to part with any other lovely thing upon his account; proclaim his excellencies to the world, as the spouse here did; convince them how much your beloved is better than any other beloved; display his glorious excellencies in your heavenly conduct; hold him forth to others, as he is in himself, altogether lovely. See that you "walk worthy of him unto all well-pleasing," Colossians 1:10. "Show forth the praises of Christ," 1 Peter 2:19. Let not that "worthy name be blasphemed through you," James 2:7. He is glorious in himself, and will put glory upon you; take heed you put not shame and dishonor upon him; he has committed his honor to you, do not betray that trust.

FIRST, Never be ashamed to own Christ: he is altogether lovely; he can never be a shame to you; it will be your great sin to be ashamed of him. Some men glory in their shame; be not you ashamed of your glory: if you be ashamed of Christ now, he will be ashamed of you when he shall appear in his own glory, and the glory of all his holy angels. Be ashamed of nothing but sin; and among other sins, be ashamed especially for this sin, that you have no more love for him who is altogether lovely.

SIXTHLY, Be willing to leave everything that is lovely upon earth, that you may be with the altogether lovely Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven. Lift up your voices with the spouse, Revelation 22:20. "Come Lord Jesus, come quickly." It is true, you must pass through the pangs of death into his bosom and enjoyment; but sure it is worth suffering much more than that to be with this lovely Jesus. "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and the patient waiting for Jesus Christ," 2 Thessalonians 3:5.

Seventhly, Strive to be Christ-like, as ever you would be lovely in the eyes of God and man. Certainly, my brethren, it is the Spirit of Christ within you, and the beauty of Christ upon you, which only can make you lovely persons; the more you resemble him in holiness, the more will you discover of true excellency and loveliness; and the more frequent and spiritual your converse and communion with Christ is, the more of the beauty and loveliness of Christ will be stamped upon your spirits, changing you into the same image, from glory to glory.

Eighthly, Let the loveliness of Christ draw all men to him. Is loveliness in the creature so attractive? And can the transcendent loveliness of Christ draw none? O the blindness of man! If you see no beauty in Christ why you should desire him, it is because the God of this world has blinded your minds.




Alluring the Hearts of Men to come to CHRIST, by a fourth Motive contained in another Title of CHRIST

HAGGAI 2:7, "And the desire of all nations shall come."

THE former chapter is mainly spent, in reproving the negligence of the Jews, who, being discouraged from time to time, had delayed the rebuilding the temple: and, in the mean time, employed their care and cost in building and adorning their own houses: but, at last, being persuaded to set about the work, they met with this discouragement, that such was the poverty of the present time, that the second structure would no way answer the magnificence and splendor of the first. In Solomon's days the nation was wealthy, now drained; so that there would be no proportion between the second and the first. To this grand discouragement the prophet applies this relief; that whatever should be wanting in external pomp and glory, should be more than recompensed by the presence of Jesus Christ in this second temple. For Christ, "the desire of all nations," says he, shall come into it. Which, by the way, may give us this useful note: That the presence of Jesus Christ gives a more real and excellent glory to the places of his worship, than any external beauty or outward ornaments whatever can bestow upon them. Our eyes, like the disciples, are apt to be dazzled with the goodly stones of the temple, and, in the mean time, to neglect and overlook that which gives it the greatest honor and beauty.

But to return. In these words we have both the description of Christ, and an index pointing at the time of his incarnation: he is called "the desire of all nations;" and the time of his coming in the flesh, is plainly intimated to be while the second temple should be standing. Where, by the way, we find just cause to admire at and bemoan the blindness that is happened to the Jews, who, owning the truth of this prophecy, and not able to deny the destruction of the second temple, many hundred years past, will not yet be brought to acknowledge the incarnation of the true Messiah notwithstanding.

But to the point. The character, or description of Christ, stiled the desire of all nations, who was to come into the world in the time of the second temple, Malachi 3:12. and that, after grievous concussions and shakings of the world, which were to make way for his coming, for so our prophet here speaks, "I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come," to which the apostle alludes, in Hebrews 12:26. applying this prophecy to Jesus Christ, here called the "desire of all nations:" putting the act for the object, desire for the thing desired: as in Ezekiel 24:16. "The desire of your eyes," that is the desirable wife of your bosom; so here, the "desire of all nations," that is Christ, the object of the desires of God's elect, in all nations of the world: a Savior infinitely desirable in himself, and actually desired by all the people of God, dispersed among all kindreds, tongues, and nations of the world. From whence this note is,

DOCTRINE: That the desires of God's elect in all kingdoms, and among all people of the earth, are, and shall be drawn out after, and fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

The merciful God beholding the universal ruins of the world by sin, has provided a universal remedy for his own elect, in every part of the earth. Christ is not impropriated to any one kingdom or nation in the world; but intended to be God's salvation to the ends of the earth; and accordingly speaks the apostle, Colossians 2:11. "There is neither Greek, nor Jew, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but Christ is all and in all." In the explication of this point two things must be inquired into.

1. Why Christ is called the desire of all nations.

2. Upon what account the people of God, in all nations, desire him.

FIRST, Why he is called the desire of all nations, and what that phrase may import; and there are divers things that are supposed, or included in it.

FIRST, That God the Father has appointed him as a common remedy for the sins and miseries of his people, in all parts and quarters of the world. So in the covenant of redemption, between the Father and the Son, the Lord expresses himself, Isaiah 49:6. and he said, "It is a light thing that you should be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give you for a light to the Gentiles, that you may be my salvation unto the end of the earth." Suitable whereunto is that prophecy, Isaiah 52:15. "He shall sprinkle many nations." If God had not appointed him for, he could not be desired by all nations.

And, indeed, herein the grace of God does admirably shine forth in the freeness of it, that even the most barbarous nations are not excluded from the benefits of redemption by Christ. This is what the apostle admires, that Christ should be preached to the Gentiles, 1 Timothy 3:16. a people that seemed to be lost in the darkness of idolatry; yet even for them Christ was given by the Father, "Ask of me (says he) and I will give you the Heathen for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession."

SECONDLY, Christ, the desire of all nations, plainly notes the sufficiency that is in him, to supply the wants of the whole world; as the sun in the heavens suffices all nations for light and influence, so does the Sun of righteousness suffice for the redemption, justification, sanctification and salvation of the people of God all over the world; Isaiah 45:22. "Look unto me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth."

THIRDLY, It implies the reality that is in godliness. It shows you that religion is no fancy, as the atheistical world would persuade us; and this evidently appears in the uniform effects of it upon the hearts of all men, in all nations of the world, that are truly religious: all their desires, like so many needles touched by one and the same loadstone, move towards Jesus Christ, and all meet together in one and the same blessed object, Christ. Were it possible for the people of God to come out of all nations, kindreds and languages in the world, into one place, and there confer and compare the desires and workings of their hearts, though they never saw each other's faces, nor heard of each other's names, yet, as face answers to face in a glass, so would their desires after Christ answer to each other. All hearts work after him in the same manner; what one says, all say: These are my troubles and burdens, these my wants and miseries; the same things my desires and fears: one and the same Spirit works in all believers throughout the world; which could never be if religion were but a fancy, as some call it; or a combination or confederacy, as others call it: fancies are as various as faces; and confederacies presuppose mutual acquaintance and conference.

FOURTHLY, Christ, the desire of all nations, implies the vast extent his kingdom has, and shall have in the world; out of every nation under Heaven some shall be brought to Christ, and to Heaven by him; and though the number of God's elect, compared with the multitudes of the ungodly in all nations, is but a remnant, a little flock; and, in that comparative sense, there are few that shall be saved; yet considered absolutely, and in themselves, they are a vast number, which no man can number, Matthew 8:11. "Many shall come from the east, and from the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of Heaven." In order whereunto, the gospel, like the sun in the heavens, circuits the world. It arose in the east, and takes its course towards the western world; rising, by degrees, upon the remote, idolatrous nations of the earth: out of all which a number is to be saved, even "Ethiopia shall stretch out her hands to God," Psalm 68:31. And this consideration should move us to pray earnestly for the poor Heathens, who yet sit in darkness, and the shadow of death; there is yet hope for them.

FIFTHLY, It holds forth this, that when God opens the eyes of men to see their sin and danger by it, nothing but Christ can give them satisfaction: it is not the amenity, fertility, riches and pleasures, the inhabitants of any kingdom of the world do enjoy, that can satisfy the desires of their souls: when once God touches their hearts with the sense of sin and misery, then Christ, and none but Christ is desirable and necessary, in the eyes of such persons. Many kingdoms of the world abound with riches and pleasures; the providence of God has carved liberal portions of the good things of this life to many of them, and scarce left anything to their desires that the world can afford. Yet all this can give no satisfaction without Jesus Christ, the desire of all nations, the one thing necessary, when once they come to see the necessity and excellency of him: then take the world who will, so they may have Christ, the desire of their souls. Thus we see upon what grounds and reasons Christ is stiled the desire of all nations.

Objection: But there lies one great objection against this truth, which must be solved; namely, if Christ be the desire of all nations, how comes it to pass, that Jesus Christ finds no entertainment in so many nations of the world among whom Christianity is hissed at, and Christians not tolerated to live among them? Who see no beauty in him that they should desire him.

Sol. FIRST, We must remember the nations of the world have their times and seasons of conversion; those that once embraced Christ, have now lost him, and idols are now set up in the places where he once was sweetly worshiped. The sun of the gospel is gone down upon them, and now shines in another Hemisphere; and so the nations of the world are to have their distinct days and seasons of illumination. The gospel, like the sea, gains in one place what it loses in another; and in the times and seasons appointed by the Father, they come successively to be enlightened in the knowledge of Christ; and then shall the promise be fulfilled, Isaiah 49:7. "Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his holy One, To him whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers; kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful."

SECONDLY, Let it also be remembered, that although Christ be rejected by the rulers and body of many nations; yet he is the desire of all the elect of God dispersed and scattered among those nations.

In the next place, SECONDLY, we are to inquire upon what account Christ becomes the desire of all nations, that is of all those in all the nations of the world, that belong to the election of grace. And the true ground and reason thereof is, because Christ only has that in himself which relieves their wants, and answers to all their need. As.

FIRST, They are all, by nature, under condemnation, Romans 5:16, 18. under the curse of the law; against which, nothing is found in Heaven or earth, able to relieve their consciences, but the blood of sprinkling, the pure and perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus: and hence it is, that Christ becomes so desirable in the eyes of poor sinners, all the world overse If anything in nature could be found to pacify and purge the consciences of men from guilt and fear, Christ would never be desirable in their eyes; but finding no other remedy but the blood of Jesus, to him, therefore, shall all the ends of the earth look for righteousness, and for peace.

SECONDLY, All nations of the world are polluted with the filth of sin, both in nature and practice, which they shall see, and bitterly bewail, when the light of the gospel shall shine among them; and the same light, by which this shall be discovered, will also discover the only remedy of this evil to lie in the spirit of Christ, the only fountain opened to all nations for sanctification and cleansing: and this will make the Lord Jesus incomparably desirous in their eyes. O how welcome will he be that comes unto them, not by blood only, but by water also, John 1:5, 6.

THIRDLY, When the light of the gospel shall shine upon the nations, they shall then see, that by reason of the guilt and filth of sin, they are all barred out of Heaven; those doors are chained up against them, and that none but Christ can open an entrance for them into that kingdom of God! that "no man comes to the Father but by him," John 14:6. "Neither is there any name under Heaven given among men, whereby they must be saved, but the name of Christ," Acts 4:12. Hence the hearts of sinners shall pant after him, as a deer pants for the water-brooks. And thus you see upon what grounds Christ becomes the desire of all nations. The improvement of all follows, in five several uses of the point; namely,

1. For information.

2. For examination.

3. For consolation.

4. For exhortation.

5. For direction.

FIRST use for information

FIRST, Is Christ the desire of all nations? how vile a sin is it then in any nation, upon whom the light of the gospel has shifted, to reject Jesus Christ? And say, as those in Job 21:14. "Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of your ways." To thrust away his worship, government, and servants from among them; and in effect to say, as it is Luke 19:14. "We will not have this man to reign over us." Thus did the Jews, Acts 13:46. they put away Christ from among them, and thereby judged themselves unworthy of eternal life. This is at once a fearful sin, and a dreadful sign. How soon did vengeance overtake them like the overthrow of Sodom? O, let it be for a warning to all nations to the end of the world. He would have gathered the children of Israel under his wings as a hen does her brood, even when the Roman Eagle was hovering over them, but they would not; therefore their houses were left unto them desolate, their city and temple made an heap.

SECONDLY, If Jesus Christ be the desire of all nations, how incomparably happy then must that nation be, that enjoys Christ in the power and purity of his gospel-ordinances! If Christ, under a veil made Canaan a glorious land, (as it is called) Daniel 11:41. what a glorious place must that nation be, that beholds him with open face in the bright sunshine of the gospel! O England, know your happiness and the day of your visitation: what others desire, you enjoy: provoke not the Lord Jesus to depart from you, by corrupting his worship, longing after idolatry, abusing his messengers, and oppressing his people, lest his soul depart from you.

Second use for examination

If Christ be the desire of all nations, examine whether he be the desire of your souls in particular; else you shall have no benefit by him. Are your desires after Christ true spiritual desires? Reflect, I beseech you, upon the frames and tempers of your heart. Can you say of your desires after Christ, as Peter did of his love to Christ? Lord, you know all things; you know that I desire you. Try your desires as to their sincerity by the following characters:

FIRST, Are they vehement and ardent? Has Christ the supreme place in your desires? Do you esteem all things to be but dross and dung in comparison with the excellencies of Jesus Christ your Lord? Philippians 3:8. Is he to you as the refuge-city to the man-slayer? Hebrews 6:18, 19. As a spring of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land? Isaiah 32:2. Such vehement desires are true desires.

SECONDLY, Are your desires after Christ universal; that is is everything in Christ desirable in your eyes? The hypocrite, like the harlot, is for a divided Christ; they would be called by his name, but live upon their own stock, Isaiah 4:1. If his holiness and government his cross and sufferings be desirable for his sake: such universal desires are right desires.

THIRDLY, Are your desires after Christ industrious desires, using all the means of accomplishing what you desire! You say you desire Christ, but what will you do to obtain your desires? If you seek him carefully and incessantly in all the ways of duty; if you will strive in prayer, labor to believe, cut off right hands, and pluck out right eyes, that is be content to part with the most profitable and pleasant ways of sin that you may enjoy Christ, the desire of your souls; then are your desires right desires.

FOURTHLY, Are your desires after Christ permanent desires, or only a sudden motion or fit which goes off again without effect? If your desires after Christ abide upon your hearts, if your longings be after him at all times, though not in the same height and degree, then are your desires right desires. Christ always dwells in the desires of his people; they can feel him in their desires, when they cannot discern him in their love or delight.

FIFTHLY, Will your desires after Christ admit no satisfaction, nor find rest any where but in the enjoyment of Christ? then are your desires right desires. The soul that desires Christ, can never be at rest until it come home to Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:2, 6. Philippians 1:23. The devil can satisfy others with the riches and pleasure of this world, as children are quieted with rattles; but if nothing but Christ can rest and terminate your desires, surely such restless desires are right desires.

SIXTHLY, Do your desires after Christ spring from a deep sense of your need and want of Christ? Has conviction opened your eyes to see your misery, to feel your burthens, and to make you sensible that your remedy lies only in the Lord Jesus? then are your desires right desires. Bread and water are made necessary and desirable by hunger and thirst; by these things try the truth of your desires after Christ.

Third use for consolation

Do you indeed, upon serious trial, find such desires after Christ as were described above? O, bless the Lord for that day wherein Christ, the desire of all nations, became the desire of your souls; and for your comfort, know that you are happy and blessed souls at present.

FIRST, Blessed in this, that your eyes have been opened to see both the want and worth of Christ. Had not Christ applied his precious eye-salve to the eyes of your mind, you could never have desired him; you would have said with them in Isaiah 53:2, 3. "He has no form nor loveliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him:" Or, as they to the spouse, Canticles 5:9. "What is your beloved more than another beloved?" O, blessed souls, enlightened of the Lord, to see those things that are hidden from them that perish!

SECONDLY, You are blessed in this, that your desires after Christ are a sure evidence that the desire of Christ is towards you: had he not first desired you, you could never have desired him. We may say of desires, as it is said of love, we desire him because he first desired us: your desires after Christ are inflamed from the desires of Christ after you.

THIRDLY, Blessed in this, that your desires shall surely be satisfied, Matthew 5:6. "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." Proverbs 10:24. "The desires of the righteous shall be granted." God never raised such desires as these in the souls of his people, to be a torment to them for ever.

FOURTHLY, Blessed in this, that God has guided your desires to make the best choice that ever was made in the world; while the desires of others are hunting after riches, pleasure, and honor in the world; toiling themselves like children in pursuit of a painted butterfly, which when they have caught, does but daub their fingers: God, meanwhile, has directed your desires to Christ, the most excellent object in Heaven or earth. Any good will satisfy some men; O, happy soul, if none but Christ can satisfy you! Psalm 4:6.

FIFTHLY, Blessed in this, that there is a work of grace certainly wrought upon your soul; and these very desires after Christ are a part thereof.

SIXTHLY, Blessed in this, that these desires after Christ keep your soul active and working after him continually in the ways of duty, Psalm 27:4. "One thing have I desired, that will I seek after." Desire will be a continual spring to diligence and industry in the ways of duty; the desire of the end quickens to the use of means, Proverbs 18:1. Others may fall asleep and cast off duty, but it will be hard for you to do so, whose souls burn with desire after Christ.

Seventhly, Blessed in this, that your desires after Christ will make death much the sweeter and easier to you, Philippians 1:23. "I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ, which is far better." When a Christian was once asked, Whether he was willing to die? He returned this answer, "Let him be unwilling to die, who is unwilling to go to Christ." And much like it, was that of another, Vivere renuo, ut Christo vivam: I refuse this life, to live with Christ.

Fourth use for exhortation

In the fourth place, let me exhort and persuade all to make Jesus Christ the desire and choice of their souls. And here I fall in with the main scope and design of the gospel. And O that I could effectually press home this exhortation upon your hearts; let me offer some moving considerations to you, and may the Lord accompany them to your hearts.

FIRST, Every creature naturally desires its own preservation; do not you desire the preservation of your precious and immortal soul! If you do, then make Christ your desire and choice, without whom they can never be preserved, Jude, verse 1.

SECONDLY, Do not your souls earnestly desire the bodies they live in? How tender are they over them, how careful to provide for them? though they pay a dear rent for those tenements they live in. And is not union with Christ infinitely more desirable than the union of soul and body? O covet union with him! then shall your souls be happy, when your bodies drop off from them at death, 2 Corinthians 5:1, 3. yes, soul and body shall be happy in him, and with him for evermore.

THIRDLY, How do the men of this world desire the enjoyments of it? They pant after the dust of the earth; they rise early, sit up late, eat the bread of carefulness; and all this for very vanity: Shall a worldling do more for earth, than you for Heaven? Shall the creature be so earnestly desired, and Christ neglected?

FOURTHLY, What do all your desires in this world benefit you, if you go christless? Suppose you had the desire of your hearts in these things, how long should you have comfort in them, if you miss Christ?

FIFTHLY, Does Christ desire you, who have nothing lovely or desirable in you? And have you no desires after Christ, the most lovely and desirable one in both worlds? "His desires are towards you," Proverbs 8:31. O make him the desire and choice of your souls.

SIXTHLY, How absolutely necessary is Jesus Christ to your souls? Bread and water, breath and life, are not so necessary as Christ is; "One thing is necessary," Luke 10:42. and that one thing is Christ. If you miss your desires in other things, you may yet be happy; but if you miss Christ you are undone for ever.

Seventhly, How suitable a good is Christ to your souls! comprising whatever they want, 1 Corinthians 1:30. Set your hearts where you will, none will be found to match and suit them, as Christ does.

Eighthly, How great are the benefits that will redound to you by Jesus Christ! In him you shall have a rich inheritance settled upon you: all things shall be yours, when you are Christ's, 1 Corinthians 3:22. And is not such a Christ worth desiring?

Ninthly, All your well-grounded hopes of glory are built upon your union with Christ, 1 Corinthians 1:21. If you miss Christ, you must die without hope. Will not this draw your desires to him;

Tenthly, Suppose you were at the judgment-seat of God, where you must shortly stand, and saw the terrors of the Lord in that day; the sheep divided from the goats; the sentences of absolution and condemnation passed, by the great and awful Judge, upon the righteous and wicked: would not Christ be then desirable in your eyes? As ever you expect to stand with comfort at that bar, let Christ be the desire and choice of your souls now.

Fifth use for direction

Do these, or any other considerations, put you upon this inquiry; how shall I get my desires kindled and inflamed towards Christ? Alas! my heart is cold and dead, not a serious desire stirring in it after Christ. To such I shall offer the following directions.

Direction 1. Redeem some time every day for meditation; get out of the noise and clamor of the world, Psalm 4:4. and seriously bethink yourselves how the present state of your soul stands, and how it is like to go with you forever: here all sound conversion begins, Psalm 69:5–9.

Direction 2. Consider seriously of that lamentable state, in which you came into the world; children of wrath by nature, under the curse and condemnation of the law: so that either your state must be changed, or you inevitably damned, John 3:3.

Direction 3. Consider the way and course you have taken since you came into the world, proceeding from iniquity to iniquity. What command of God have you not violated a thousand times over? What sin is committed in the world, that you are not one way or other guilty of before God? How many secret sins upon your score, unknown to the most intimate friend you have in the world? Either this guilt must be separated from your souls, or your souls from God to all eternity.

Direction 4. Think upon the severe wrath of God due to every sin; "The wages of sin is death," Romans 6:23. And how intolerable the fullness of that wrath must be when a few drops sprinkled upon the conscience in this world, are so insupportable, that has made some to chose strangling rather than life; and yet this wrath must abide forever upon you, if you get not interest in Jesus Christ, John 3:36.

Direction 5. Ponder well the happy state and condition they are in who have obtained pardon and peace by Jesus Christ, Psalm 32:12. And seeing the grace of God is free, and you are set under the means thereof; why may not you be as capable thereof as others?

Direction 6. Seriously consider the great uncertainty of your time, and preciousness of the opportunities of salvation, never to be recovered, when they are once past, John 9:4. let this provoke you to lay hold upon those golden seasons while they are yet with you; that you may not bewail your folly and madness, when they are out of your reach.

Direction 7. Associate yourselves with serious Christians; get into their acquaintance, and beg their assistance; beseech them to pray for you; and see that you rest not here, but be frequently upon your knees, begging of the Lord a new heart, and a new state.

In conclusion of the whole, let me beseech and beg all the people of God, as upon my knees, to take heed, and beware, lest by the carelessness and scandal of their lives they quench the weak desires beginning to kindle in the hearts of others. You know what the law of God awards for striking a woman with child, so that her fruit go from her, Exodus 21:22, 23. O shed not soul-blood, by stifling the hopeful desires of any after Christ.

Blessed be God for Jesus Christ, the desire of all nations.




Containing the fifth Motive to apply CHRIST, drawn from another excellent Title of CHRIST

1 CORINTHIANS 2:8, "Which none of the princes of this world have known, for had they known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."

IN this chapter the apostle discourses to the Corinthians, of the excellency of his ministry, both to obviate the contempt which some cast upon it for want of human ornaments, and to give the greater authority unto it among all: and whereas the spiritual simplicity of his ministry laid it under the contempt of some, he removes that several ways, by showing them,

FIRST, That it was not suitable to the design and end of his ministry, his aim being "to know nothing among them, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified," verse 1, 2.

SECONDLY, Neither was it for the advantage of their souls; it might indeed tickle their fancies, but could be no solid foundation to their faith and comfort, verse 4, 5.

THIRDLY, Though his discourses seemed jejune and dry to carnal hearers, yet they had a depth and excellency in them, which spiritual and judicious Christians saw and acknowledged, verse 6, 7.

FOURTHLY, Therefore this excellent wisdom which he preached far transcended all the natural wisdom of this world; yes, the most raised and improved understandings of those that were most renowned and admired in that age for wisdom, verse 8. "which none of the princes of this world knew."

In which words we have,

1. A negative proposition.

2. The proof of the proposition.

FIRST, A negative proposition: None of the princes of this world knew that spiritual wisdom which he taught. By princes of this world, or rather, principes seculi, the princes of that age, he means, as Cameron well notes, the learned Rabbis, Scribes, and Pharisees, renowned for wisdom and learning among them; and honored upon that account as so many princes: but he adds a diminutive term, which darkens all their glory: They are but the princes of this world, utterly unacquainted with the wisdom of the other world. To which he adds,

SECONDLY, A clear and full proof; "For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." In which words we find one of Christ's glorious and royal titles, The Lord of glory: upon which title will be my present discourse. The words being fitly rendered, and nothing of ambiguity in them, they give us this observation,

DOCTRINE: That Christ crucified is the Lord of glory.

Great and excellent is the glory of Jesus Christ, the scriptures everywhere proclaim his glory: yes, we may observe a notable climax, or gradation, in those scriptures that speak of his glory. The prophet Isaiah, speaking of him, calls him glorious; Isaiah 4:2. "In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious." John, speaking of his glory, rises a step higher, and ascribes to him a "glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father," John 1:14. that is a glory meet for, and becoming the Son of God: proper to him, and incommunicable to any other. The apostle James rises yet higher, and does not only call him glorious, or glorious as the only begotten of the Father, but the glory, James 2:1. glory in the abstract; "My brethren, (says he) have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glory, with respect of persons;" For the word Lord, which is in our translation, is a supplement; Christ is glory itself, yes, the glory emphatically so stiled; the glory of Heaven; the glory of Zion; the glory of our souls for ever. The author to the Hebrews goes yet higher, and calls him not simply the glory, but "the brightness of the Father's glory," Hebrews 1:3. as though he should say, the radiancy, sparkling, or beaming forth of his Father's glory; the very splendor or refulgency of divine glory. O what a glorious Lord is our Lord Jesus Christ! the bright, sparkling diamond of Heaven; who shines in glory there, above the glory of angels and saints, as the glory of the sun excels the lesser, twinkling stars. When he appeared to Paul, Acts 26:13. "I saw (says he) a light from Heaven above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me:" Needs must the glory of Christ be unspeakable, who reflects glory upon all that are with him, John 17:24. and stamps glory upon all that belong to him. His works on earth were glorious works, Luke 13:17. the purchased liberty of his people, a glorious liberty, Romans 8:21. the church his mystical body, a glorious church, Ephesians 5:27. the gospel which reveals him is a glorious gospel, 1 Timothy 1:11.

But more particularly let us consider the glory of Christ, as it is distinguished into his either,

1. Essential, or,

2. Mediatorial glory.

FIRST, The essential glory of Christ, which he has as God from everlasting; which is unspeakable and inconceivable glory: For (says the apostle, Philippians 2:6.) "He being in the form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God," that is he has a peerage or equality with his Father in glory; John 10:30. "I and my Father are one." And again, John 16:15. "All things that the Father has are mine:" the same name, the same nature, the same essential properties, the same will, and the same glory.

SECONDLY, The mediatorial glory of Christ is exceeding great. This is proper to him, as the head of the church, which he has purchased with his own blood. Of this glory the apostle speaks, Philippians 2:9, 10. "Wherefore God also has exalted him, and given him a name, which is above every name, etc. υπερυψωσε, exalted above all exaltation. Now the mediatorial glory of our Lord Jesus Christ consists either,

1. In the fullness of grace inherent in him; or,

2. In the dignity and authority put upon him.

FIRST, In the fullness of grace inherent in him: The humanity of Christ is filled with grace, as the sun with light: John 1:14. "Full of grace and truth." Never any creature was filled by the Spirit of grace, as the man Christ Jesus is filled; for "God gives not the Spirit to him by measure," John 3:34. By reason of this fullness of grace inherent in him, he is "fairer than the children of men," Psalm 45:2. excelling all the saints in spiritual luster and gracious excellencies.

SECONDLY, In the dignity and authority put upon him. He is crowned King in Zion; all power in Heaven and earth is given unto him, Matthew 28:18. he is a law-giver to the church, James 4:12. all acts of worship are to be performed in his name; prayer, preaching, censures, sacraments, all to be administered in his name. Church officers are commissioned by him, Ephesians 4:11. The judgment of the world in the great day will be administered by him; Matthew 25:31. "Then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory."

To conclude, Jesus Christ shall have glory and honor ascribed to him for evermore, by angels and saints, upon the account of his mediatorial work; this some divines call his passive glory, the glory which he is said to receive from his redeemed ones. Revelation 5:8, 9, 10. "And when he had taken the book, the four beasts, and the four and twenty elders, fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints; and they sung a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof; for you were slain, and have redeemed us to God by your blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation," etc. And thus you see that our Lord Jesus Christ is upon all accounts the Lord of glory. The uses follow.


Inference 1. How wonderful was the love of Christ, the Lord of glory, to be so abased and humbled, as he was for us, vile and sinful dust? It is astonishing to conceive that ever Jesus Christ should strip himself of his robes of glory, to clothe himself with the mean garment of our flesh: O what a stoop did he make in his incarnation for us! If the most magnificent monarch upon earth had been degraded into a toad; if the sun in the heavens had been turned into a wandering atom; if the most glorious angel in Heaven had been transformed even into a fly; it had been nothing to the abasement of the Lord of glory. This act is everywhere celebrated in scripture as the great mystery, the astonishing wonder of the whole world, 2 Timothy 3:16. Philippians 2:8. Romans 8:3. The Lord of glory looked not like himself, when he came in the habit of a man; Isaiah 53:3. "We hid, as it were our faces from him:" Nay, rather like a worm than a man; Psalm 22:6. "A reproach of men, and despised of the people." The birds of the air and beasts of the earth were here provided of better accommodations than the Lord of glory, Matthew 8:20. O stupendous abasement! O love unspeakable! "Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich," 2 Corinthians 8:9. He put off the crown of glory to put on the crown of thorns; Quanto pro me vilior, tanto mihi charior, said Bernard; The lower he humbled himself for me, the dearer he shall be to me.

Inference 2. How transcendently glorious is the advancement of believers, by their union with the Lord of glory? This also is an admirable and astonishing mystery; it is the highest dignity of which our nature is capable, to be hypostatically united; and the greatest glory of which our persons are capable is to be mystically united to this Lord of glory; to be bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. O what is this! Christian, do you know and believe all this, and your heart not burn within you in love to Christ? O! then, what a heart have you? What are you, by nature, but sinful dust, a loathsome sinner, viler than the vilest creature, cast out to the loathing of your person in the day of your nativity! O that ever the Lord of glory should unite himself to such a lump of vileness! take such a wretch into his very bosom! Be astonished, O heavens and earth, at this! this is the great mystery which the angels stooped down to look into: Such an honor as this could never have entered into the heart of man. It would have seemed a rude blasphemy in us, once to have thought or spoken of such a thing, had not Christ made first the motion thereof; yet how long did you make this Lord of glory wait upon your undetermined will, before he gained your consent? Might he not justly have spurned you into Hell, upon your first refusal, and never have made you such another offer? Will you not say, Lord, what am I, and what is my father's house, that so great a King should stoop so far beneath himself, to such a worm as I am! That strength should unite itself to weakness, infinite glory to such baseness! O grace, grace, for ever to be admired!

Inference 3. Is Jesus Christ the Lord of glory? Then let no man count himself dishonored by suffering the vilest indignities for his sake: The Lord of glory puts glory upon the very suffering you undergo in this world for him. "Moses esteemed the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt," Hebrews 11:26. he cast a kingdom at his heels, to be crowned with reproaches, for the name of Christ. The diadem of Egypt was not half so glorious as self-denial for Christ. This Lord of glory freely degraded himself for you; will you stand hesitating with him upon terms? It is certainly your honor to be dishonored for Christ, Acts 5:41. to you it is given, in behalf of Christ, not only to believe, but also to suffer for his sake, Philippians 1:29. The gift of suffering is there matched with the gift of faith; it is given as an honorarium, a badge of honor to suffer for the Lord of glory. As all have not the honor to wear the crown of glory in Heaven, so few have the honor to wear the chain of Christ upon earth. Thanus reports of Ludovicus Marsacus, a knight of France, that being led to suffer with other martyrs, who were bound, and he unbound, because a person of honor; he cried out, "Why don't you honor me with a chain too, and create me a knight of that noble order?" My brethren count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations, James 1:2. that is trials by sufferings. David thought it an honor to be vile for God, and that is a true observation that disgrace itself is glorious when endured for the Lord of glory.

Inference 4. Is Christ the Lord of glory? How glorious then shall the saints one day be, when they shall be made like this glorious Lord, and partake of his glory in Heaven? John 17:22. "The glory which you gave me, I have given them:" Yes, the vile bodies of believers shall be made like to the glorious body of Christ, Philippians 3:21. What glory then will be communicated to their souls? True, his essential glory is incommunicable; but there is a glory which Christ will communicate to his people. "When he comes to judge the world, he will come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe," 2 Thessalonians 1:10. Thus he seems to account his social glory, which shall result from his saints, a great part of his own glory: As we have now fellowship with him in his sufferings, so we shall have a fellowship or communion with him in his glory: When he shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory; then the poorest believer shall be more glorious than Solomon in all his royalty. It was a pious saying of Luther, that he had rather be Christianus rusticus, quam Ethnicus Alexander; a Christian clown, than a Pagan emperor. The righteous is more excellent than his neighbor, though he live next door to a graceless nobleman: But it does not yet appear what they shall be. The day will come, it certainly will come, for the Lord has spoken it, when they shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

Inference 5. How has the devil blindfolded, and deluded them that are frighted off from Christ, by the fears of being dishonored by him? Many persons have half a mind to religion, but when they consider the generality of its professors to be persons of the lowest and basest rank in the world, and that reproaches and sufferings attend that way; they shrink back as men ashamed, and as Salvian says, Mali esse coguntur, ne viles habeantur; they chose rather to remain wicked, than to be esteemed vile: But to them that believe, Christ is an honor; as the word which we translate precious might be rendered, 1 Peter 2:7. Until God open men's eyes thus, they will put evil for good, and good for evil. But O dear bought honors, for which men stake their souls and everlasting happiness! Paul was not of your mind: for birth he was an Hebrew of the Hebrews; for dignity and esteem, a Pharisee; for moral accomplishments, touching the law, blameless: Yet all this he trampled under his feet, counting it all but dross and dung in comparison with Jesus Christ. Moses had more honor to lay down for Christ than you; yet it was no temptation to him to conceal or deny faith in Christ. Noble Galeacius would not be withheld from Christ by the splendor and glory of Italy; but O, how does the glory of this world dazzle and blind the eyes of many: "How can you believe (says Christ) who receive honor one of another?" John 5:44. Saints and sinners, upon this account, are wonders one to the other. It is the wonder of the world to see Christians glorying in reproaches; they wonder that the saints run not with them into the same excess of riot; and it is a wonder to believers, how such poor toys and empty titles (rather than titles of honor) should keep the world as it does from Jesus Christ, and their everlasting happiness in him.

Inference 6. If Christ be the Lord of glory, how careful should all be who profess him, that they do not dishonor Jesus Christ, whose name is called upon by them? Christ is a glory to you, be not you a shame and dishonor to him. How careful had Christians need to be, to draw every line and action of their lives exactly: The more glorious Christ is, the more circumspect and watchful you had need to be. How lovely would Jesus Christ appear to the world, if the lives of Christians did adorn the doctrine of God their Savior, in all things! Remember, you represent the Lord of glory to the world; it is not your honor only, but the honor of Christ which is engaged and concerned in your actions. O let not the carelessness or scandal of your life, make Jesus Christ ashamed to be called your Lord. When Israel had grievously revolted from God, he bids Moses rise and get down from thence; for (says he) your people, which you have brought forth out of Egypt, have corrupted themselves, Deuteronomy 9:12. as if the Lord were ashamed to own them for his people any longer. It was a cutting question, James 2:7. apt to startle the consciences of these loose professors; "Do they not blaspheme that worthy name by which you are called?" Your duty is to adorn the gospel by your conduct, Titus 2:10. The words signify to deck, trim, or adorn the gospel, to make it trim, neat, and lovely, to the eyes of beholders. When there is such a beautiful, harmony, and lovely proportion between Christ's doctrine and your practices, as there is in the works of creation, wherein the loveliness and elegance of the world much consists. (for to this the apostle's word here alludes) then do we walk suitably to the Lord of glory.

Inference 7. What delight should Christians take in their daily converse with Jesus Christ in the way of duty? Your converses in prayer, hearing, and meditation, are with the Lord of glory: The greatest peers in the kingdom count it more honor to be in the presence of a king, bare-headed, or upon the knee at court, than to have thousands standing bare to them in the country. When you are called to the duties of communion with Christ, you are called to the greatest honor, dignified with the noblest privilege creatures are capable of in this world: Had you but a sense of that honor God puts upon you by this means, you would not need so much pressing and striving, to bring a dead and backward heart into the special presence of Jesus Christ. When he says, Seek you my face, your hearts would echo to his calls; Your face, Lord, will we seek. But alas! the glory of Christ is much hidden and veiled by ignorance and unbelief, from the eyes of his own people; it is but seldom the best of saints, by the eye of faith, do see the King in his glory.

Inference 8. If Christ be so glorious, how should believers long to be with him, and behold him in his glory above? Most men need patience to die, a believer should need patience to live. Paul thought it well worth enduring the pangs of death, to get a sight of Jesus Christ in his glory, Philippians 1:23. "The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ," (says the apostle) 2 Thessalonians 3:5. intimating that the saints have great need of patience, to enable them to endure the state of distance and separation from Christ, so long as they must endure it in this world. The spirit and the bride say, come, and let him that hears say, come, and let him that is a-thirst come: even so, come lord Jesus, and be as a swift roe upon the mountains of separation.

Blessed be God for Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.




Opening the sixth Motive to come to CHRIST, contained in the sixth and last Title of CHRIST

LUKE 2:25, "Waiting for the Consolation of Israel."

SEVERAL glorious titles of Christ have been already spoken to, out of each of which much comfort flows to believers: It is comfortable to a wounded soul to eye him as a Physician; comfortable to a condemned and unworthy soul to look upon him under the notion of mercy: The loveliness, the desirableness, and the glory of Christ, are all so many springs of consolation. But now I am to show you, from this scripture, that the saints have not only much consolation from Christ, but that Christ himself is the very consolation of believers: He is pure comfort wrapped up in flesh and blood.

In this context, you have an account of Simeon's prophecy concerning Christ; and in this text, a description of the person and quality of Simeon himself, who is described two ways.

1. By his practice.

2. By his principle.

His practice was heavenly and holy; he was a just and devout man: The principle from which his righteousness and holiness did flow, was his faith in Christ; "he waited for the consolation of Israel." In which words, by way of periphrasis, we have,

1. A description of Christ, the consolation of Israel.

2. The description of a believer, one that waited for Christ.

FIRST, That the consolation of Israel is a phrase descriptive of Jesus Christ, is beyond all doubt, if you consult verse 26. where he, that is Simeon is satisfied by receiving Christ into his arms, the consolation for which he had so long waited.

SECONDLY, And that waiting for Christ is a phrase describing the believers of those times that preceded the incarnation of Christ is past doubt; they all waited for that blessed day: But it was Simeon's lot to fall just upon that happy point of time, wherein the prophecies and promises of his incarnation were fulfilled. Simeon and others that waited with him, were sensible that the time of the promise was come, which could not but raise (as indeed it did) a general expectation of him, John 9:19. But Simeon's faith was confirmed by a particular revelation, verse 26. That he should see Christ before he saw death, which could not but greatly encourage and raise his expectation to look out for him, whose coming would be the greatest consolation to the whole Israel of God. The consolation παρακλησις. The Spirit is frequently called in scripture, παρακλητης, the Comforter: But Christ in this place is called παρακλησις, comfort or consolation itself: The reason of both is given in John 16:14. "He shall take of mine and show it unto you:" Where Christ is said to be the matter, and the Spirit, the applier of true comfort to the people of God. Now this consolation is here expressed both with a singular emphasis [the consolation] intimating that there is nothing of consolation in anything besides him; all other comforts compared with this, are not worth naming. And as it is emphatically expressed, so it is also limited and bounded within the compass of God's Israel, that is true believers, stiled the Israel of God, whether Jews or Gentiles, Galatians 6:16. From whence the point of doctrine is,

DOCTRINE: That Jesus Christ is the only consolation of believers, and of none besides them.

So speaks the apostle, Philippians 3:3. "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." Those that worship God in the Spirit are sincere believers; to such sincere believers, Christ is consolation, our rejoicing is in Christ Jesus: And they have no consolation in anything beside him; nothing in the world can give them comfort without Christ, We have no confidence in the flesh. The gospel is glad tidings of great joy; but that which makes it to be so is Jesus Christ, whom it imparts and reveals to us, Luke 2:10, 11. In the opening of this comfortable point, four things must be spoken to, for the right stating the method of our discourse, namely,

1. What is meant by consolation.

2. That Christ, and he only, is consolation to believers.

3. That believers only have consolation in Christ.

4. How it comes to pass that any believer should be dejected, since Christ is consolation to all believers.

The first thing to be opened, is the nature of consolation, which is nothing else but the cheerfulness of a man's spirit, whereby he is upheld, and fortified against all evils felt, or feared. Consolation is to the soul what health is to the body after wasting sickness; or the reviving spring to the earth after a long and hard winter. And there are three sorts of consolation, or comfort, suitable to the disposition and temper of the mind, namely,


Sinful, and


Natural comfort is the refreshment of our natural spirits by the good creatures of God, Acts 14:17. "Filling their hearts with food and gladness." Sinful comfort is the satisfaction and pleasure men take in the fulfilling of their lusts, by the abuse of the creatures of God, James 5:5. "You have lived in pleasure upon earth," that is your life has been a life of sensuality and sin.

Spiritual comfort is the refreshment, peace, and joy, gracious souls have in Christ, by the exercise of faith, hope, and other graces, Romans 5:2. And this only deserves the name of true solid consolation: To which four things are required.

FIRST, That the matter thereof be some spiritual, eminent, and durable good; else our consolation in it will be but as the crackling of thorns under a pot, a sudden blaze, quickly extinct with the failing matter of it. Christ only gives the matter of solid, durable consolation; the righteousness of Christ, the pardon of sin, the favor of God, the hopes of glory, are the substantial materials of a believer's consolation, Romans 5:2. Matthew 9:2. Psalm 4:6, 7. 2 Peter 1:8. Things are as their foundations be.

SECONDLY, Interest and propriety in these comfortable things, are requisite to our consolation by them, Luke 1:47. "My spirit rejoices in God my Savior." It is no consolation to him that is hungry to see a feast; to him that is poor to see a treasure; if the one may not taste, or the other partake thereof.

THIRDLY, Knowledge, and evidence of interest, in some degree is requisite to actual consolation, though without it a man may be in the state of consolation; for that which appears not, is (in point of actual comfort) as if it were not.

FOURTHLY, In order hereunto, the work of the Spirit upon our hearts is requisite, both to give, and clear our interest in Christ and the promises: And both these ways he is the Comforter, "The fruit of the Spirit is joy," Galatians 5:22. And thus briefly of the nature of consolation.

SECONDLY, Next I will show you that Christ, and he only, is matter of consolation to believers: which will demonstratively appear by this argument.

FIRST, He who brings to their souls all that is comfortable, and removes from their souls all that is uncomfortable, must needs be the only consolation of believers.

But Jesus Christ brings to their souls all that is comfortable, and removes from their souls all that is uncomfortable.

Therefore Christ only is the consolation of believers.

FIRST, Jesus Christ brings whatever is comfortable to the souls of believers. Is pardon comfortable to a person condemned? Nothing can be matter of greater comfort in this world. Why, this Christ brings to all believers, Jeremiah 23:6. "And this is the name whereby he shall be called the Lord our righteousness." This cannot but give strong consolation; righteousness is the foundation of peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit, Romans 14:17. "The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever," Isaiah 32:17. Come to a dejected soul, laboring under the burden of guilt, and say, cheer up, I bring you good tidings, there is such an estate befallen you, or such a troublesome business comfortably ended for you; alas! this will not reach the heart: If you can bring me (says he) good news from Heaven, that my sins are forgiven, and God reconciled, how soon should I be comforted! And therefore (as one well observes) this was the usual receipt with which Christ cured the souls of men and women, when he was here on earth; Son or daughter, "be of good cheer, your sins be forgiven you." And, indeed, it is as easy to separate light and warmth from the beams of the sun, as cheerfulness and comfort from the voice of pardon.

Are the hopes and expectations of Heaven and glory comfortable! Yes sure, nothing is comfortable if this be not, Romans 5:2. "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Now, Christ brings to the souls of men all the solid grounds and foundations upon which they build their expectations of glory, Colossians 1:27. "Which is Christ, in you, the hope of glory." Name anything else that is solid matter of comfort to the souls of men, and the grounds thereof will be found in Christ, and in none but Christ; as might easily be demonstrated by the enumeration of multitudes of particular instances, which I cannot now insist upon.

SECONDLY, Jesus Christ removes from believers whatever is uncomfortable; therein relieving them against all the matters of their affliction and sorrow. As namely,

FIRST, Is sin a burden and matter of trouble to believers? Christ, and none but Christ, removes that burden, Romans 7:24, 25. "O wretched man that I am! (says sin-burdened Paul) who will deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." The satisfaction of his blood, Ephesians 5:2. The sanctification of his Spirit, John 1:5, 6. His perfect deliverance of his people from the very being of sin at last, Ephesians 5:26, 27. This relieves at present, and removes at last the matter and ground of all their troubles and sorrows for sin.

SECONDLY, Do the temptations of Satan burden believers? O yes, by reason of temptations, they go in trouble and heaviness of spirit. Temptation is an enemy under the walls; temptation greatly endangers, and therefore cannot but greatly afflict the souls of believers; but Christ brings the only matter of relief against temptations. The intercession of Christ is a singular relief at present, Luke 22:32. "But I have prayed for you that your faith fail not." And the promises of Christ are a full relief for the future; "The God of peace shall shortly tread Satan under your feet," Romans 16:20.

THIRDLY, Is spiritual desertion, and the hiding of God's face, matter of affliction and casting down to believers? Yes, yes, it distresses their hearts, nothing can comfort them; "You hide your face, and I was troubled," Psalm 30:7. Outward afflictions do but break the skin, this touches the quick; they like rain fall only upon the tiles, this soaks into the house; but Christ brings to believers substantial matter of consolation against the troubles of desertion: He himself was deserted of God for a time, that they might not be deserted for ever. In him also the relieving promises are made to believers, that notwithstanding God may desert them for a time, yet the union between him and them shall never be dissolved, Hebrews 13:4. Jeremiah 32:40. Though he forsake them for a moment, in respect of evidenced favor, yet he will return again and comfort them, Isaiah 54:7. Though Satan pull hard, yet he will never "be able to pluck them out of his Father's hand," John 10:20. O, what relief is this! What consolation is Christ to a deserted believer.

FOURTHLY, Are outward afflictions matter of dejection and trouble? Alas, who finds them not to be so? How do our hearts fail and our spirits sink under the many smarting rods of God upon us? But our relief and consolation under them all is in Christ Jesus; for the rod that afflicts us is in the hand of Christ that loves us, Revelation 3:19. "Whom I love, I rebuke and chasten." His design in affliction is our profit, Hebrews 12:10. That design of his for our good shall certainly be accomplished, Romans 8:28. And after that no more afflictions for ever. Revelation 21:3, 4. "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes." So that upon the whole, two things are most evident.

FIRST, Nothing can comfort the soul without Christ! he is the soul that animates all comforts; they would be dead things without him. Temporal enjoyments, riches, honors, health, relations yield not a drop of true comfort without Christ. Spiritual enjoyments, ministers, ordinances, promises, are fountains sealed and springs shut up; until Christ open them, a man may go comfortless in the midst of them all.

SECONDLY, No troubles, sorrows, or afflictions can deject or sink the soul that Christ comforts, 2 Corinthians 6:10. "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing." A believer may walk with a heart full of comfort amidst all the troubles of this world: Christ makes the darkness and troubles to be light round about his people. So that the conclusion stands firm, and never to be shaken, that Christ, and Christ only, is the consolation of believers; which was the thing to be proved.

In the third place, I am to show you that believers, and none but believers, can have consolation in Christ; which will convincingly appear from the consideration of those things which we laid down before as the requisites to all true spiritual consolation. For,

FIRST, No unbeliever has the materials, out of which spiritual comfort is made, which (as I there told you) must be some solid, spiritual, and eternal good, as Christ and the covenant are: what do unregenerate men. rejoice in but trifles and mere vanities, in a thing of nothing? Amos 6:13. See how their mirth is described in Job 21:12. "They take their timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ." He does not say, they take the Bible, turn to the promises, and rejoice in Christ and the covenant; it is not the melody of a good conscience, the joy of the Holy Spirit; no, no, they have no acquaintance with such music as that; but the rejoicing of believers is in those things, 2 Corinthians 1:12. and this is well built consolation, which reaches the heart.

SECONDLY, I told you that propriety and interest in Christ and the promises are required to all spiritual consolation: but no unbeliever has any title or interest in Christ and the promises, and so they can signify nothing to him in point of comfort. It is not another man's money, but my own, that must feed, clothe and comfort me; nor is it another man's Christ, but my own Christ, that must justify, save, and comfort my soul.

THIRDLY, You were told, that evidence of a man's peace and reconciliation with God, is necessary to his actual consolation, which no unbeliever can possibly have; he has neither grace within him to make him a qualified subject of any special promise, nor any witness or seal of the Spirit, to confirm and clear his propriety in Christ; for he never seals, but where he first sanctifies. So that it is beyond all contradiction, that believers, and none but believers are partakers of the consolations that are in Christ Jesus.

FOURTHLY and lastly, There is one inquiry remains to be satisfied; namely, seeing Jesus Christ is consolation to believers, how it comes to pass, that so many believers in the world should walk so dejectedly as they do, without any spiritual consolation?

FIRST, This need not be wondered at, if we consider that the consolations of Christ are of two soils; seminal and in preparation, or actual in present possession. Every believer in the world has the root and seed of comfort planted and sown for him, Psalm 97:11, "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart." They have Christ and the promises, which are the seeds of consolation, and will bring forth joy at last, though at present they have no actual consolation; the seed of all joy is sown, and in due time they shall reap the full ripe fruit thereof.

SECONDLY, It must be remembered, that interest and evidence are distinct blessings, every believer has interest in Christ: but every believer has not the evidence thereof, Isaiah 50:10. "Who is among you, that fears the Lord, and obeys the voice of his servant; that walks in darkness, and has no light?" Every child of God is not of sufficient age to know his Father, or take comfort in that blessed inheritance whereunto he is begotten again, 1 Peter 1:3, 4.

THIRDLY, Every believer does not walk with like strictness, and exact holiness: all do not exercise faith in a like degree. Among Christians some are strong in grace, rich in faith, strict in obedience, tender of sin to an eminent degree; these usually are owners of much consolation: but others are weak in grace, poor in faith, comparatively careless of their hearts and ways, frequently grieving the good Spirit of God, and wounding their own consciences (the vessel into which spiritual consolation is poured;) and these are usually denied the joy and comfort which others abound withal.

FOURTHLY, The consolations of Christ are arbitrarily dispensed by the Spirit, who is the Comforter, and gives to every man in such proportions, and at such seasons, as pleases him: whence it comes to pass, that he who is rich in comfort today, may be poor tomorrow; and, contrarily, the heart that is quite full of sorrow one hour, is filled with peace and joy in believing in the next. Things that are necessary to the being of a Christian, are fixed and stable; but things belonging only to the well-being of a Christian, come and go, according to the good pleasure and appointment of the Spirit. The use of all follows.


Inference 1. Hence it follows, That the state of unbelievers is the most sad and uncomfortable state in the world, having no interest in Christ, the consolation of Israel. It is true, they abound in creature-comforts; they live in pleasure upon earth; joy displays its colors in their faces; but for all this, there is not the least drop of true consolation in any of their hearts; they have some comfort in the creature, but none in Christ: that little they gather from the creature now, is all their portion of joy, Luke 6:24. "You have received your consolation:" as this is all they have, so they shall enjoy it but a little while, Job 21:13, 17. And while they do enjoy it, it is mixed with many gripes of conscience, Job 14:13. "Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness." Whatever consolation any unbeliever speaks of besides this, is but by rote; for when the day of his distress comes, and the terrors of conscience shall awake him out of his pleasant dreams, all his sensual joys will vanish from him, and the doors of true consolation will be shut against him. Let him go to Jesus Christ, knock at that door, and say, Lord Jesus, your name is consolation: my heart is ready to burst within me; have you no consolation for me? O Lord, for one drop of spiritual comfort now; but alas there is none, no not in Christ himself, for any unbeliever. It is children's bread, the saints privilege; comfort and grace are undivided. Let him return into himself, search his own conscience for comfort, and say, O conscience! you are more than a thousand witnesses, and thousands have been comforted by you; where you speak comfort, none can speak trouble; have you no consolation for me in my deepest distress? Alas, no; if God condemn you, wherewithal shall I comfort you? I can speak neither more nor less than the scriptures put into my mouth, and I find not one word in all the book of God warranting me to be your comforter. Believe it is an undoubted truth (though the sense of the bewitched world over-rules it) that the state of unbelievers, even at the best, is a sad and dismal state.

Inference 2. Let all believers fetch all their comfort out of Christ, who is the consolation of his people: "We rejoice (says the apostle) in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." That is the true temper of a believing soul: take heed you live not partly upon Christ and partly upon the creature for your comfort; much rather beware that you forsake not Christ, the fountain of living waters, and hew out cisterns for yourselves which can hold no water, Jeremiah 2:13. If you make any creature the spring and fountain of your comfort, assuredly God will dry up that spring. If your souls draw their comfort from any creature, you know they must out-live that creature, and what then will you do for comfort? Besides, as your comforts are, so are you. The food of every creature is suitable to its nature. You see divers creatures feeding upon several parts of the same herb, the bee upon the flower, the bird upon the seeds, the sheep upon the stalk, and the swine upon the root, according to their nature so is their food. Sensual men feed upon sensual things, spiritual men upon spiritual things; as your food is, so are you. If carnal comforts can content your heart, sure your heart must then be a very carnal heart. Yes, and let Christians themselves take heed, that they fetch not their consolations out of themselves instead of Christ. Your graces and duties are excellent means and instruments, but not the ground-work and foundation of your comfort, they are useful buckets to draw, but not the well itself in which the springs of consolation rise. If you put your duties in the room of Christ, Christ will put your comforts out of the reach of your duties.

Inference 3. If Christ be the consolation of believers, what a comfortable life should all believers live in the world? Certainly, if the fault be not your own, you might live the happiest and comfortablest lives of all men in the world. If you would not be a discomfort to Christ, he would be a comfort to you every day, and in every condition, to the end of your lives. Your condition abounds with all the helps and advantages of consolation. You have the command of Christ to warrant your comforts, Philippians 4:4. You have the Spirit of Christ for a spring of comfort; you have the scriptures of Christ for the rules of comfort; you have the duties of religion for the means of comfort. Why is it then that you go comfortless? If your afflictions be many in the world, yet your encouragements are more in Christ. Your troubles in the world have been turned into joy, but your comforts in Christ can never be turned into trouble. Why should troubles obstruct your comfort, when the blessing of Christ upon your troubles makes them subservient to promote your happiness? Romans 8:28. Shake off despondency then, and live up to the principles of religion. Your dejected life is uncomfortable to yourselves, and of very ill use to others.

Inference 4. If Christ be the consolation of believers, then let all that desire comfort in this world, or in that to come, embrace Jesus Christ, and get real union with him. The same hour you shall be in Christ, you shall also be at the fountain-head of all consolations: your soul shall be then a pardoned soul, and a pardoned soul has all reason in the world to be a joyful soul: in that day the conscience shall be sprinkled with the blood of Christ; and a sprinkled conscience has all the reason in the world to be a comforting conscience: in that day you become the children of your Father in Heaven, and he who has a Father in Heaven, has all reason to be the most joyful man upon earth; in that day you are delivered from the sting and hurt of death; and he who is delivered from the sting of death, has the best reason to take in the comfort of life. O come to Christ! come to Christ! until you come to Christ, no true comfort can come to you.




Enforcing the general Exhortation, by a seventh Motive drawn from the first Benefit purchased by CHRIST

EPHESIANS 1:7, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace."

SIX great motives have been presented already from the titles of Christ, to draw the hearts of sinners to him; more are now to be offered from the benefits redounding to believers by Christ; essaying, by all means, to win the hearts of men to Christ. To this end I shall in the first place, open that glorious privilege of gospel-remission, freely and fully conferred upon all that come to Christ by faith, "in whom we have redemption by faith," etc.

In which words we have, first, a singular benefit, or choice mercy bestowed, namely, redemption, interpreted by way of opposition, the remission of sins: this is a privilege of the first rank, a mercy by itself; none sweeter, none more desirable among all the benefits that come by Christ. And therefore.

SECONDLY, You have the price of this mercy, an account what it cost, even the blood of Christ, in whom we have redemption [through his blood:] precious things are of great price; the blood of Christ is the meritorious cause of remission.

THIRDLY, You have here also the impulsive cause, moving God to grant pardons at this rate to sinners, and that is said to be the riches of his grace: where, by the way, you see that the freeness of the grace of God, and the fullness of the satisfaction of Christ, meet together without the least jar in the remission of sin, contrary to the vain cavil of the Socinian adversaries: "In whom we have redemption, even the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace."

FOURTHLY, You have the qualified subjects of this blessed privilege, namely, Believers, in whose name he here speaks, [we] have remission, that is We the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus, verse 1. We whom he has chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, and predestined unto the adoption of children, verse 4, 5. We that are made accepted in the beloved, verse 6. It is we, and we only, who have redemption through his blood. Hence observe,

DOCTRINE: That all believers, and none but believers, receive the remission of their sins through the riches of grace, by the blood of Jesus Christ.

In the explication of this point three things must be spoken to.

1. That all that are in Christ are in a pardoned state.

2. That their pardon is the purchase of the blood of Christ.

3. That the riches of grace are manifested in remission.

FIRST, That all that are in Christ are in a pardoned state: where I will first show you what pardon or remission of sin is.

SECONDLY, That this is the privilege of none but believers.

FIRST, Now remission of sin is the gracious act of God, in and through Christ, discharging a believing sinner from all the guilt and punishment of his sin, both temporal and eternal.

It is the act of God; he is the author of remission; none can forgive sins but God only, Mark 2:7. Against him only, that is principally and especially, the offence is committed, Psalm 51:4. To his judgment guilt binds over the soul; and who can remit the debt but the creditor? Matthew 6:12.

It is an act of God, discharging the sinner; it is God's loosing of one that stood bound, the cancelling of his bond or obligation, called therefore remission or releasing in the text; the blotting out of our iniquities, or the removing of our sins from us, as it is called in other scriptures; see Psalm 103:11. Micah 7:18, 19.

It is a gracious act of God, the effect of pure grace, done for his own name's sake, Isaiah 43:25. discharging us without any satisfaction at all by us: there is much grace in that; and providing a surety for us every way able to pay our debt, there is more grace in that.

It is the gracious act of God in and through Christ: the satisfaction of Christ is the procuring cause of our remission, and so God declares himself just in the remission of our sin, Romans 3:25. "Gracious is the Lord and righteous," Psalm 116:5. Justice and mercy meet here, and embrace each other; "in whom (says the text) we have remission:" no other price could purchase this privilege, Micah 6:6, 7. not rivers of oil, or of human blood.

And this gracious act of God discharges the pardoned soul both from guilt and punishment. Guilt is nothing else but the force and power that is in sin, to oblige the sinner to undergo the penalty due to sin; therefore sinners are said to be guilty of hell-fire. Matthew 5:22. Guilty of eternal judgment, Mark 3:29. To be under the judgment of God, Romans 3:19. Remission takes away both guilt and punishment together; it takes away all guilt, Acts 13:38, 39. and all punishment. And so much of the first thing to be opened, namely, what the remission of sin is.

SECONDLY, Now that this remission of sin is the privilege of believers, is most apparent, for all the causes of remission are in conjunction to procure it for them; the love of God, which is the impulsive cause of pardon; the blood of Christ, which is the meritorious cause of pardon; and saving faith, which is the instrumental cause of pardon, do all co-operate for their remission, as is plain in the text.

Besides, all the promises of pardon are made to them, Jeremiah 31:34. Micah 7:18. And, lastly, all the signs of pardon are found in them, and in them only, that love God, Luke 7:47. Mercifulness to others, Matthew 6:14. A blessed calmness and peace in the conscience, Romans 5:1. So that it is a truth beyond controversy, that all that are in Christ are in a pardoned state.

SECONDLY, Next I will show you, that the pardon of believers is the purchase of the blood of Christ: nothing but the blood of Christ is a price equivalent to the remission of sin, for this blood was innocent and untainted blood, 1 Peter 1:19. the blood of a Lamb without spot; this blood was precious blood, blood of infinite worth and value, the blood of God, Acts 20:28. It was prepared blood for this very purpose, Hebrews 10:5. Prepared by God's eternal appointment; prepared by Christ's miraculous and extraordinary production by the operation of the Spirit; prepared by his voluntary sequestration, or sanctification of himself to this very use and purpose.

The blood of Jesus is not only innocent, precious, and prepared blood, but it is also blood actually shed and sacrificed to the justice of God, for the expiation of guilt, and procurement of our discharge, Isaiah 53:5. To conclude, the severe justice of God could put in no exception against the blood of Christ; it is unexceptionable blood, being, (as before was noted,) untainted by sin, and dignified above all estimation by the person whose blood it was. Justice required no less, and could demand no more; and this is the price at which our pardons are purchased, and without which no sin could be pardoned; for "without shedding of blood, (such blood as this) there is no remission," Hebrews 9:22.

THIRDLY, The last thing to be opened is, That God has manifested the riches of his grace, in the remission of our sins. So speaks the apostle, Romans 5:20. "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: And, 1 Timothy 1:14. "The grace of our Lord (namely, in the pardon of sin) was exceeding abundant." Which will appear, if we bring our thoughts close to the matter, in several particulars.

FIRST, From the nature of the mercy, which is the richest of all mercies, except Christ the purchaser of it: No mercy sweeter than a pardon to a condemned sinner; no pardon like Gods pardon to a man condemned at his bar; all the goodness of God is made to pass before our eyes in his pardoning acts of grace, Exodus 33:19.

SECONDLY, The very riches of grace must needs be in the pardon of sin, if we consider the method in which pardons are dispensed, which is, as the text speaks, "through his blood." Herein "God commends his love to us," Romans 5:8. He commends it more than if he had pardoned sin without such a sacrifice; for then he had only displayed his mercy, but not caused mercy and justice to meet and triumph together.

THIRDLY, The riches of his grace shine forth in the peculiarity of the mercy. Remission is no common favor; it is never extended to the fallen angels, nor to the greater part of the children of men, but only to a little flock, a small remnant of mankind, Luke 12:32. John 17:9.

FOURTHLY, The riches of grace are manifested in remission, if we consider the subjects of this privilege, who are not only equally plunged into sin and misery with others by nature, Ephesians 2:3. but many of the Lord's pardoned ones have been actually guilty of a deeper-dyed abomination than many unpardoned ones, in the civilized world, are defiled with. "To me, (says Paul), the greatest of sinners, one that was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, etc. yet to me is this grace given; I obtained mercy," 1 Timothy 1:15. "And such were some of you, but you are justified," 1 Corinthians 6:11. Yes, God singles out the most base, despised, poor, and contemptible ones among men, to be the subjects of this glorious privilege, 1 Corinthians 1:26. "You see your calling, brethren," etc.

FIFTHLY, More of the riches of grace still appear, if we view the latitude and extent of this act of grace. O how innumerable are our transgressions! "Who can understand his errors?" Psalm 19:12. "Yet the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin," 1 John 1:7. Small and great sins, open and secret sins, old and new sins, ail pardoned without exception. O the riches of grace! O the unsearchable goodness of God! "With the Lord there is mercy, and with him there is plenteous redemption; and he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities," Psalm 130:7, 8.

SIXTHLY, and lastly, The riches of grace shine forth in the irrevocableness and perpetuity of remission. As grace pardons all sins without exception, so the pardons it bestows are without revocation: The pardoned soul shall "never come into condemnation," John 5:24. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us," Psalm 103:10. The east and west are the two opposite points of Heaven, which can never come together; neither shall the pardoned soul and its sins ever meet any more. "You have cast, (says Hezekiah) all my sins behind your back." The penitent believer sets his sins before his face, but the merciful God casts them all behind his back, never to behold them more, so as to charge them upon his pardoned people. And thus you see what the pardon of sin is, what the price that purchases pardon is, and what riches of grace God manifests in the remission of a believer's sins; which were the things to be explained and opened in the doctrinal part. The improvement of the whole you will have in the following uses.


Inference 1. If this be so, that all believers, and none but believers, receive the remission of their sins through the riches of grace, by the blood of Christ; What a happy condition then are believers in! Those that never felt the load of sin may make light of a pardon; but so cannot you, that have been in the deeps of trouble and fear about it; those that have been upon the rack of an accusing and condemning conscience, as David, Heman, and many of the saints have been, can never sufficiently value a pardon. "Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered; blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity," Psalm 32:1, 2. or, O the blessedness and felicities of the pardoned man! as in the Hebrew. Remission cannot but appear the wonder of mercies, if we consider through what difficulties the grace of God makes way for it to our souls; what strong bars the love of God breaks asunder, to open our way to this privilege; for there can be no pardon without a Mediator; no other Mediator but the Son of God: the Son of God cannot discharge our debts, but by taking them upon himself as our surety, and making full payment, by bearing the wrath of God for us; and when all this is done, there can be no actual pardon, except the Spirit of grace open our blind eyes, break our hard hearts, and draw them to Christ in the way of believing. And as the mercy of remission comes to us through wonderful difficulties, so it is in itself a complete and perfect mercy: God would not be at such vast expense of the riches of his grace; Christ would not lay out the invaluable treasures of his precious blood to procure a cheap and common blessing for us. Rejoice then, you pardoned souls, God has done great things for you, for which you have cause to be glad.

Inference 2. Hence it follows, That interest in Christ by faith, brings the conscience of a believer into a state of rest and peace, Romans 5:1. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God." I say not that every believer is presently brought into actual peace and tranquility of conscience; there may be many fears, and much trouble even in a pardoned soul; but this is an undoubted truth, that faith brings the pardoned soul into that condition and state, where he may find perfect rest in his conscience, with respect to the guilt and danger of sin. The blood of Christ sprinkles us from an evil (that is, an accusing, condemning) conscience. We are apt to fear, that this or that special sin, which has most terrified and affrighted our conscience, is not forgiven: but if there be riches enough in the grace of God, and efficacy enough in the blood of Christ, then the sins of believers, all their sins, great as well as small, one as well as another, without limitation or exception, are pardoned.

For let us but consider, If Christ remits no sin to any man, but with respect to the blood of Christ, then all sins are pardoned, as well as any one sin; because the dignity and desert of that blood is infinite, and as much deserves a universal pardon for all sins, as the particular pardon of any, even the least sin: moreover, remission is an act of God's fatherly love in Christ; and if it be so, then certainly no sin of any believer can be retained or excluded from pardon; for then the same soul should be in the favor of God, so far as it is pardoned, and out of favor with God, so far as it is unpardoned, and all this at one and the same instant of time: which is a thing both repugnant to itself, and to the whole strain of the gospel.

To conclude: What is the design and end of remission, but the saving of the pardoned soul? But if any sin be retained or excluded from pardon, the retaining of that sin must needs make void the pardon of all other sins; and so the acts of God must cross and contradict each other, and the design and end of God miscarry and be lost; which can never be. So then we conclude, faith brings the believing soul into a state of rest and peace.

Inference 3. Hence it also follows, That no remission is to be expected by any soul, without a saving interest by faith in Jesus Christ: no Christ, no pardon; no faith, no Christ. Yet how apt are many poor deluded souls to expect pardon in that way, where never any soul yet did, or ever can meet it. Some look for pardon from the absolute mercy of God, without any regard to the blood of Christ, or their interest therein: we have sinned, but God is merciful! Some expect remission of sin by virtue of their own duties, not Christ's merits: I have sinned, but I will repent, restore, reform, and God will pardon! But little do such men know how they therein diminish the evil of sin, undervalue the justice of God, slight the blood of Christ, and put an undoing cheat upon their own souls for ever. To expect pardon from absolute mercy, or our own duties, is to knock at the wrong door, which God has shut up to all the world, Romans 3:20. While these two principles abide firm, that the price of pardon is only in the blood of Christ, and the benefit of pardon, only by the application of his blood to us; this must remain a sure conclusion, that no remission is to be expected by any soul, without a saving interest by faith in Jesus Christ. Repentance, restitution, and reformation are excellent duties in their kind, and in their proper places, but they were never meant for saviors, or satisfaction to God for sin.

Inference 4. If the riches of grace be thus manifested in the pardon of sin, How vile an abuse is it of the grace of God, to take the more liberty to sin, because grace abounds in the pardon of it!

"Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid!" Romans 6:1, 2. Will nothing cheaper than the grace of God serve to make a cloak for sin? O vile abuse of the most excellent thing in the whole world? Did Christ shed his blood to expiate our guilt, and dare we make that a plea to extenuate our guilt? God forbid!

If it be intolerable ingratitude among men, to requite good with evil, sure that sin must want a name bad enough to express it, which puts the greatest dishonor upon God for the greatest mercy that ever was given by God to the world. "There is mercy with you, (says the Psalmist,) that you may be feared," not that you may be the more abused, Psalm 130:4. Nay, let me say, the devils never sinned at this rate; they cannot abuse the pardoning grace of God, because such grace was never offered unto them. And certainly, if the abuse of the common mercies of God, as food and drink, by gluttony and drunkenness, be an heinous sin, and highly provoking to God; then the abuse of the riches of his grace, and the precious blood of his Son, must be out of measure sinful, and the greatest affront we can put upon the God of mercy.

Inference 5. To conclude: If this be so, as ever you expect pardon and mercy from God, come to Christ in the way of faith; receive and embrace him now in the offers of the gospel.

To drive home this great exhortation, I beseech you, as in the affections of Christ Jesus, and by all the regard and value you have for your souls, let these following considerations sink down in your hearts.

FIRST, That all christless persons are actually under the condemnation of God, John 3:18. "He who believes not is condemned already:" and it must needs be so, for every soul is concluded under the curse of the law, until Christ make him free, John 8:36. Until we are in Christ, we are dead by law; and when we believe unto justification, then we pass from death to life. A blind mistaken conscience may possibly acquit you, but assure yourselves God condemns you.

SECONDLY, Consider what a terrible thing it is to lie under the condemnation of God; the most terrible things in nature cannot shadow forth the misery of such a state; put all sicknesses, all poverty, all reproaches, the torments invented by all tyrants into one scale, and the condemnation of God into the other, and they will be all found lighter than a feather. Condemnation is the sentence of God, the great and terrible God; it is a sentence shutting you up to everlasting wrath: it is a sentence never to be rever.d, but by the application of Christ in the season thereof. O souls! you cannot bear the wrath of God; you do not understand it, if you think it tolerable: One drop of it upon your consciences now, is enough to distract you in the midst of all the pleasures and comforts of this world: yet all that are out of Christ, are sentenced to the fullness of God's wrath for ever.

THIRDLY, There is yet a possibility of escaping the wrath to come; a door of hope opened to the worst of sinners; a day of grace is offered to the children of men, Hebrews 3:15. God declares himself unwilling that any should perish, 2 Peter 3:9. O what a mercy is this! Who, that is on this side Heaven or Hell, fully understands the worth of it?

FOURTHLY, The door of mercy will be shortly, shut, Luke 12:25. God has many ways to shut it: he sometimes shuts it by withdrawing the means of grace, and removing the candlesticks; a judgment at this time to be greatly feared. Sometimes he shuts it by withdrawing the Spirit and blessing from the means, whereby all ordinances lose their efficacy, 1 Corinthians 3:7. But if he shut it not by removing the means of grace from you, certain it is, it will be shortly shut by your removal from all the means and opportunities of salvation by death.

FIFTHLY, When once the door of mercy is shut, you are gone beyond all the possibilities of pardon and salvation for evermore. The night is then come, in which no man can work, John 9:4. All the golden seasons you now enjoy, will be irrecoverably gone out of your reach.

SIXTHLY, Pardons are now daily granted to others: some (and they once as far from mercy as you now are,) are at this day reading their pardons with tears of joy dropping from them. The world is full of the examples and instances of the riches of pardoning grace. And whatever is needful for you to do in the way of repentance and faith to obtain your pardon, how easily shall it be done, if once the day of Gods power come upon you? Psalm 110:3. O therefore, lift up your cries to Heaven, give the Lord no rest, take no denial until he open the blind eye, break the stony heart, open and bow the stubborn will, effectually draw your soul to Christ, and deliver your pardon signed in his blood.




Opening the eighth Motive to come to CHRIST, drawn from the sixth Benefit purchased by CHRIST for Believers

EPHESIANS 1:6, "To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he has made us accepted in the Beloved."

IN our last discourse we opened to you the blessed privilege of remission of sin, from the following verse; in this verse lies another glorious privilege, namely, the acceptance that believers have with God through Jesus Christ; both which comprise (as the two main branches) our justification before God. In the words read, (to omit many things that might be profitably observed from the method and dependence of the apostle's discourse) three things are observable, namely,

1. The privilege itself,

2. The meritorious cause,

3. The ultimate end thereof.

FIRST, The privilege itself, which is exceeding rich and sweet in its own nature; "he has made us accepted;" the word is εχαριτωσεν ημας, he has ingratiated us, or brought us into the grace, favor and acceptance of God the Father; endeared us to him, so that we find grace in his sight.

SECONDLY, The meritorious cause, purchasing and procuring this benefit for us, noted in the words, εν τω ηγαπημενω, in the Beloved; which words are a periphrasis of Christ, who is here emphatically stiled the Beloved, the great favorite of Heaven, the delight of God's soul, the prime object of his love: it is he who obtains this benefit for believers: he is accepted for his own sake, and we for his.

THIRDLY, The ultimate end and aim of conferring this benefit upon believers; "To the praise of the glory of his grace;" or, to the end that his grace might be made glorious in praises: there are riches of grace in this act of God; and the work and business of believers, both in this world and in that to come, is to search and admire, acknowledge and magnify God for his abundant grace herein. Hence the note is,

DOCTRINE: That Jesus Christ has purchased and procured special favor and acceptance with God for all that are in him.

This point lies plain in scripture, Ephesians 2:13. "But now in Jesus Christ, you who sometimes were afar off, are made near by the blood of Christ," εγτυς εγενηθητε, made near, a term of endearedness: nothing is taken into the very bosom and embraces but what is very dear, precious and acceptable; and in Revelation 2:5, 6. believers are said to be made by Jesus Christ "kings and priests unto God, and his Father," that is dignified favorites, upon whom the special marks of honor are set by God.

In opening of this point three things must be doctrinally discussed and opened, namely,

1. What the acceptance of our persons with God is?

2. How it appears that believers are so accepted with God?

3. How Christ the Beloved procures this benefit for believers?

FIRST, What the acceptance of our persons with God is? To open which, it may be proper to remember, that there is a twofold acceptance of persons mentioned in scripture.

1. One is the sinful act of corrupt man.

2. The other the gracious act of a merciful God.

FIRST, Accepting of persons is noted in scripture as the sinful act of a corrupt man; a thing which God abhors, being the corruption and abuse of that power and authority which men have in judgment; overlooking the merit of the cause through sinful respect to the quality of the person whose cause it is; so that the cause does not commend the person, but the person the cause. This God everywhere brands in men, as a vile perverting of judgment, and utterly disclaims it himself, Galatians 2:6. "God accepts no man's person;" Romans 2:11. "There is no respect of persons with God."

SECONDLY, There is also an accepting of persons, which is the gracious act of a merciful God; whereby he receives both the persons and duties of believers into special grace and favor for Christ's sake; and of this my text speaks. In which act of favor three things are supposed or included.

FIRST, It supposes an estate of alienation and enmity; those only are accepted into favor that were out of favor; and indeed so stood the case with us, Ephesians 2:12, 13. "You were aliens and strangers, but now in Christ Jesus, you who sometimes were afar off, are made near by the blood of Christ:" So the apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 2:10. "Which in time past were not a people, but now are the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." The fall made a fearful breach between God and man. Sin, like a thick cloud, intercepted all the beams of divine favor from us; the satisfaction of Christ dissolves that cloud, Isaiah 44:22. "I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, your transgressions, and, as a cloud, your sins." This dark cloud thus dissolved, the face of God shines forth again with cheerful beams of favor and love upon all, who, by faith, are interested in Jesus Christ.

SECONDLY, It includes the removing of guilt from the persons of believers, by the imputation of Christ's righteousness to them, Romans 5:1, 2. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand:" for the face of God cannot shine upon the wicked; the person must be first made righteous, before he can be made accepted.

THIRDLY, It includes the offering up, or tendering of our persons and duties to God by Jesus Christ. Accepting implies presenting or tendering: believers indeed do present themselves to God, Romans 12:1. But Christ's presenting them makes their tender of themselves acceptable to the Lord; Colossians 1:22. "In the body of his flesh through death to present you holy, and unblamably, and unreproveable, in his sight." Christ leads every believer, as it were, by the hand, into the gracious presence of God; after this manner bespeaking acceptance for him: "Father, here is a poor soul that was born in sin, has lived in rebellion against you all his days; he has broken all your laws, and deserved all your wrath; yet he is one of that number which you gave me before the world was. I have made full payment by my blood for all his sins: I have opened his eyes to see the sinfulness and misery of his condition: broken his heart for his rebellions against you; bowed his will in obedience unto your will; united him to myself by faith, as a living member of my body: and now, Lord, since he is become mine by regeneration, let him be your also by special acceptance: let the same love with which you love me embrace him also, who is now become mine." And so much for the first particular, namely, What acceptance with God is.

SECONDLY, In the next place I must show you how it appears that believers are thus ingratiated, or brought into the special favor of God by Jesus Christ. And this will be evinced divers ways.

FIRST, By the titles of love and endearedness, with which the Lord graceth and honors believers, who are sometimes called the household of God, Ephesians 2:19. the friends of God, James 2:23. the dear children of God, Ephesians 5:1. the peculiar people of God, 1 Peter 2:9. a crown of glory, and a royal diadem in the hand of their God, Isaiah 62:3. The object of his delight and pleasure, Psalm 147:10, 11. O what terms of endearedness does God use towards his people! Does not all this speak them to be in special favor with him? Which of all these alone does not signify a person highly in favor with God.

SECONDLY, The gracious manner in which he treats them upon the throne of grace, to which he allows them to come with boldness, Hebrews 4:16. This also speaks them in the special favor of God; he allows them to come to him in prayer, with the liberty, confidence and filial boldness of children to a father; Galatians 4:6. "Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father;" the familiar voice of a dear child: yes, which is a wonderful condescension of the great God to poor worms of the earth, he says, Isaiah 45:11. "Thus says the Lord, the holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons; and concerning the work of my hands command you me:" an expression so full of grace and special favor to believers, that it needs great caution in reading and understanding such an high and astonishing expression: the meaning is, that God has, as it were, subjected the works of his hands to the prayers of his saints; and it is as if he had said, if my glory, and your necessity shall require it, do but ask me in prayer, and whatever my Almighty Power can do, I will do it for you. However, let no favorite of Heaven forget the infinite distance between himself and God. Abraham was a great favorite of Heaven, and was called the friend of God; yet see with what humility of spirit and reverential awe he addresseth God, Genesis 18:27. "Behold now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes." So that you see the titles of favor above-mentioned are no empty titles.

THIRDLY, God's readiness to grant, as well as their liberty to ask, speaks them the special favorites of God. The heart of God is so propense, and ready to grant the desires of believers, that it is but ask and have, Matthew 7:7. The door of grace is opened by the key of prayer. That is a favorite indeed, to whom the king gives a blank to insert what request he will: "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you," John 15:7. O blessed liberty of the sons of God! David did but say, "Lord, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness," and it was done as soon as asked, 2 Samuel 15:31. Joshua did but say, "You sun stand still in Gibeon," and a miraculous stop was presently put to its swift motion in the heavens; nay, which is wonderful to consider, a prayer, yet unborn, I mean conceived in the heart, and not yet uttered by the lips of believers, is often anticipated by the propensiveness of free grace, Isaiah 65:24. "And it shall come to pass, that before they call I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear." The prayers of others are rejected as an abomination, Proverbs 15:8. God casts them back into their faces, Malachi 2:3. But free grace signs the petitions of the saints more readily than they are presented; we have not that freedom to ask that God has to give: it is true, the answer of a believer's prayers may be a long time suspended from his sense and knowledge; but every prayer, according to the will of God, is presently granted in Heaven, though, for wise and holy ends, they may be held in a doubtful suspense about them upon earth.

FOURTHLY, The free discoveries of the secrets of God's heart to believers, speak them to be his special favorites: men open not the counsels and secrets of their own hearts to enemies or strangers but to their most inward and intimate friends: "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant," Psalm 25:14. When God was about to destroy Sodom, he would do nothing in that work of judgment until he had acquainted Abraham his friend, with his purpose therein, Genesis 18:17. "And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? For I know him," etc. So when a king was to be elected for Israel, and the person whom God had chosen was yet unknown to the people, God, as it were, whispered that secret unto Samuel the day before, 1 Samuel 9:15. "Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came:" according to the manner of princes with some special favorite.

FIFTHLY, The Lord's receiving every small thing that comes from them with grace and favor, when he rejects the greatest things offered by others, does certainly bespeak believers the special favorites of God. There was but one good word in a whole sentence from Sarah, and that very word is noted and commended by God, 1 Peter 3:6. "She called him Lord." There were but some small beginnings or buddings of grace in young Abijah, and the Lord took special notice thereof, 1 Kings 14:13. "Because in him there is found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel, in the house of Jeroboam." Let this be an encouragement to young ones, in whom there are found any breathing desires after Christ; God will not reject them if any sincerity be found in them; a secret groan, uttered to God in sincerity, shall not be despised, Romans 8:26. The very bent of a believer's will, when he had no more to offer unto God, is an acceptable present, 2 Corinthians 8:11. The very intent and purpose that lie secretly in the heart of a believer, not yet executed, are accepted with him, 1 Kings 8:18. "Whereas it was in your heart to build an house to my name, you did well that it was in your heart." Thus small things offered to God by believers find acceptance with him, while the greatest presents, even solemn assemblies, sabbaths, and prayers from others are rejected: "They are a trouble unto me; (says God) I am weary to bear them," Isaiah 1:14, 15. "Incense from Sheba, the sweet cane from a far country" are not acceptable, nor sacrifices sweet from other hands, Jeremiah 6:20. From all which it appeals beyond doubt, that the persons and duties of believers are accepted in the special favor of God by Jesus Christ; which was the second thing to be spoken to, and brings us to the third general, namely,

THIRDLY, How Christ, the beloved, procures this benefit for believers? And this he does four ways.

FIRST, By the satisfaction of his blood, Romans 5:10. "When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." No friendship without reconciliation, no reconciliation but by the blood of Christ: therefore the new and living way, by which believers come unto God with acceptance, is said to be consecrated for us through the veil of Christ's flesh; and hence believers have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, Hebrews 10:19, 20.

SECONDLY, The favor of God is procured for believers, by their mystical union with Christ, whereby they are made "members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, Ephesians 5:30. So that as Adam's posterity stood upon the same terms that he their natural head did, so believers, Christ's mystical members, stand in the favor of God, by the favor which Christ their spiritual head has, John 17:23. "I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them as you have loved me."

THIRDLY, Believers are brought into favor with God by Christ's becoming their altar, upon which their persons and duties are all offered up to God: The altar sanctifies the gift, Hebrews 13:10. And this was typified by the legal rite mentioned Luke 1:9, 10. Christ is that golden altar from whence all the prayers of the saints ascend to the throne of God, perfumed with the odors and incense of his merits, Revelation 8:3, 4. "And another angel came and stood at the altar, having a golden censer, and there was given unto him much incense that he should offer it, with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne; and the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." And thus you see how the persons and duties of believers are brought into favor and acceptance with God by Jesus Christ. The uses follow.


Inference 1. If all believers be in favor with God, how great a mercy is it to have the prayers of such engaged on our behalf? Would we have our business speed in Heaven, let us get into the favor of God ourselves, and engage the prayers of his people, the favorites of Heaven for us. Vis unita fortior, one believer can do much, many can do more: When Daniel designed to get the knowledge of that secret, hinted in the obscure dream of the king, which none but the God of Heaven could make known, it is said, Daniel 2:17. "Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known unto Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions; that they would desire mercies of the God of Heaven concerning this secret." The benefit of such assistance in prayer by the help of other favorites with God, is plainly intimated by Jesus Christ to us, Matthew 18:19. "If two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven." God sometimes stands upon a number of voices, for the carrying of some public mercy, because he delights in the harmony of many praying souls; and also loves to oblige and gratify many in the answer and return of the same prayer. I know this usage is grown too formal and complemental among professors; but certainly it is a great advantage to be sincere with them who are so with God. St. Bernard, prescribing rules for effectual prayer, closes them up with this wish, et cum talis fueris, momento mei, when your heart is in this frame, then remember me.

Inference 2. If believers be such favorites in Heaven, in what a desperate condition is that cause and those persons, against whom the generality of believers are daily engaged in prayers and cries to Heaven?

Certainly Rome shall feel the dint and force of the many millions of prayers that are gone up to Heaven from the saints for many generations; the cries of the blood of the martyrs of Jesus, joined with the cries of thousands of believers, will bring down vengeance at last upon the man of sin. It is said, Revelation 8:4, 5, 6. "That the smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel's hand:" And immediately it is added, verse 5. "And the angel took the censer and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth, and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and earthquakes; and the seven angels, which had the seven trumpets, prepared themselves to sound." The prayer of a single saint is sometimes followed with wonderful effects, Psalm 18:6, 7. "In my distress I called upon the Lord, and I cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears: then the earth shook and trembled; the foundation also of the hills moved and were shaken, because he was wroth:" what then can a thundering legion of such praying souls do? It was said of Luther, Iste vir potuit cum Deo quicquid voluit, that man could have of God what he would; his enemies felt the weight of his prayers, and the church of God reaped the benefit thereof. The queen of Scots professed she was more afraid of the prayers of Mr. Knox, than of an army of ten thousand men: these were mighty wrestlers with God, however contemned and vilified among their enemies. There will a time come, when God will hear the prayers of his people, who are continually crying in his ears, How long? Lord, how long?

Inference 3. Let no believer be dejected at the contempts and slightings of men, so long as they stand in the grace and favor of God. It is the lot of the best men to have the worst usage in the world: those of whom the world was not worthy, were not thought worthy to live in the world, Hebrews 11:38. Paul and his companions were men of choice and excellent spirits; yet, says he, 1 Corinthians 4:12. "Being defamed, we entreat; we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day." They are words signifying the basest, most contemptible, and abhorred things among men. How are Heaven and earth divided in their judgments and estimations of the saints? Those whom men call filth and dirt, God calls a peculiar treasure, a crown of glory, a royal diadem. But trouble not yourself, believer, for the unjust censures of the blind world; they speak evil of the things they know not: "He who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is judged of no man," 1 Corinthians 2:14. You can discern the earthliness and baseness of their spirits: they want a faculty to discern the excellency and choiceness of your spirits: he who carries a dark lantern in the night can discern him that comes against him, and yet is not discerned by him. A courtier regards not a slight in the country, so long as he has the ear and favor of his prince.

Inference 4. Never let believers fear the want of any good thing necessary for them in this world. The favor of God is the fountain of all blessings, provisions, protections, even of all that you need. He has promised that he will withhold no good thing from them that walk uprightly, Psalm 84:11. He who is bountiful to his enemies will not withhold what is good from his friends. The favor of God will not only supply your needs, but protect your persons, Psalm 5:12. "You will bless the righteous, with favor will you compass him as with a shield."

Inference 5. Hence also it follows, that the sins of believers are very piercing things to the heart of God. The unkindness of those whom he has received into his very bosom, upon whom he has set his special favor and delight, who are more obliged to him than all the people of the earth beside, O this wounds the very heart of God. What a melting expostulation was that which the Lord used with David, 2 Samuel 12:7, 8. "I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul, and I gave you your masters house, and your master's wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah, and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto you such and such things: wherefore have you despised the commandment of the Lord?" But reader, if you be a reconciled person, a favorite with God, and have grieved him by any eminent transgression, how should it melt your heart to hear the Lord thus expostulating with you: I delivered you out of the hand of Satan; I gave you into the bosom of Christ; I have pardoned unto you millions of sins; I have bestowed upon you the riches of mercy; my favor has made you great: and, as if all this were too little, I have prepared Heaven for you: for which of all these favors do you thus requite me?

Inference 6. How precious should Jesus Christ be to believers, by whose blood they are ingratiated with God, and by whose intercession they are, and shall forever be continued in his favor? When the apostle mentions the believer's translation, from the sad state of nature to the blessed privileged state of grace, see what a title he bestows upon Jesus Christ, the purchaser of that privilege, calling him the dear Son, Colossians 1:13. Not only dear to God, but exceeding dear to believers also. Christ is the favorite in Heaven, to him you owe all the preferment there: Take away Christ, and you have no ground on which to stand one minute in the favor of God. O then let Jesus Christ, the fountain of your honor, be also the object of your love and praise.

Inference 7. Estimate by this the state and condition of a deserted saint, upon whom the favor of God is eclipsed. If the favor of God be better than life, the hiding of it from a gracious soul must be more bitter than death: Deserted saints have reason to take the first place among all the mourners in the world: The darkness before conversion had indeed more danger, but this has more of trouble. Darkness after light is dismal darkness. Since therefore the case is so sad, let your preventing care be the more; grieve not the good Spirit of God; you prepare but for your own grief in so doing.

Inference 8. Lastly, Let this persuade all men to accept Jesus Christ, as ever they expect to be accepted with the Lord themselves. It is a fearful case, for a man's person and duties to be rejected of God; to cry and not be heard: And much more terrible to be denied audience in the great and terrible day. Yes, as sure as the scriptures are the sealed and faithful sayings of God, this is no more than what every christless person must expect in that day, Matthew 7:22. Luke 13:26. trace the history of all times, even as high as Abel, and you shall find that none but believers did ever find acceptance with God; all experience confirms this great truth, that they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Reader, if this be your condition, let me beg you to ponder the misery of it in a few sad thoughts.

Consider how sad it is to be rejected of God, and forsaken by all creatures at once; what a day of straits your dying day is like to be, when Heaven and earth shall cast you out together. Be assured whatever your vain hopes for the present quiet you withal, this must be your case, the door of mercy will be shut against you; no man comes to the Father but by Christ. Sad was the case of Saul, when he told Samuel, "the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me," 1 Samuel 28:15. The saints will have boldness in the day of judgment, 1 John 4:17. But you will be a confounded man; there is yet, blessed be the God of mercy, a capacity and opportunity for reconciliation, 2 Corinthians 5:19. Isaiah 27:5. But this can be of no long continuance. O therefore, by all the regard and love you have for the everlasting welfare of your own souls, come to Christ; embrace Christ in the offers of the gospel, that you may be made accepted in the beloved.




The Liberty of Believers opened and stated

JOHN 8:36, "If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed."

FROM the 30th verse of this chapter unto my text, you have an account of the different effects which the words of Christ had upon the hearts of his hearers: Some believed, verse 30. These he encourages to continue in his word, verse 31. giving them this encouragement, verse 32. "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Hereat the unbelieving Jews take offence, and commence a quarrel with him, verse 33. "We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man." We are of no slavish extraction; the blood of Abraham runs in our veins. This scornful boast of the proud Jews, Christ confutes, verse 34. where he distinguishes on a two-fold bondage; one to men, another to sin; one civil, another spiritual: Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin, then tells them, verse 36. "The servant abides not in the house forever, but the Son abides for ever." Wherein he intimates two great truths, namely, That the servants and slaves of sin may for a time enjoy the external privileges of the house or church of God; but it would not be long before the master of the house would turn them out of doors: But if they were once the adopted children of God, then they should abide in the house for ever. And this privilege is only to be had by their believing in, and union with the natural Son of God, Jesus Christ: which brings us fairly to the text; "If the Son therefore shall make you free, you shall be free indeed." In which words we have two parts; namely,

1. A supposition.

2. A concession.

FIRST, A supposition, "If the Son therefore shall make you free," q. d. The womb of nature cast you forth into the world in a state of bondage! in that state you have lived all your days; servants to sin; slaves to your lusts; yet freedom is to be obtained: And this freedom is the prerogative belonging to the Son of God to bestow: "If the Son shall make you free."

SECONDLY, Christ's concession upon this supposition, "Then shall you be free indeed," that is you shall have a real freedom, an excellent and everlasting freedom: No conceit only, as that which you now boast of is: If ever therefore you will be free men indeed, belive in me. Hence note,

DOCTRINE: That interest in Christ sets the soul at liberty from all that bondage whereunto it was subjected in its natural state.

Believers are the children of the new covenant, the denizons of Jerusalem which is above, which is free, and the mother of them all, Gal 4:26. The glorious liberty, namely, that which is spiritual and eternal, is the liberty of the children of God, Romans 8:21. Christ, and none but Christ, delivers his people out of the hand of their enemies, Luke 1:74.

In the doctrinal part of this point, I must show you,

FIRST, What believers are not freed from by Jesus Christ in this world.

SECONDLY, What that bondage is from which every believer is freed by Christ.

THIRDLY, What kind of freedom that is which commences upon believing.

FOURTHLY, Open the excellency of this state of spiritual freedom.

FIRST, What those things are from which believers are not made free in this world: We must not think that our spiritual liberty by Christ, presently brings us into an absolute liberty, in all respects, For,

FIRST, Christ does not free believers from obedience to the moral law: It is true we are no more under it as a covenant for our justification; but we are, and must still be under it, as a rule for our direction. The matter of the moral law is unchangeable, as the nature of good and evil is, and cannot be abolished except that distinction could be destroyed, Matthew 5:17, 18. The precepts of the law are still urged under the gospel to enforce duties upon us, Ephesians 6:12. It is therefore a vain distinction, invented by Libertines, to say it binds us as creatures, not as Christians; or that it binds the unregenerate part, but not the regenerate: but this is a sure truth, that those who are freed from its penalties are still under its precepts. Though believers are no more under its curse, yet they are still under its conduct: The law sends us to Christ to be justified, and Christ sends us to the law to be regulated. Let the heart of every Christian join therefore with David's in that holy wish, Psalm 119:4, 5. "You have commanded us to keep your precepts diligently; O that my heart were directed to keep your statutes." It is excellent when Christians begin to obey the law from life, which others obey for life; because they are justified, not that they may be justified. It is also excellent when duties are done in the strength, and for the honor of Christ, which is evangelical; and not in our own strength, and for our own ends, which is servile and legal obedience: Had Christ freed us from obedience, such a liberty had been to our loss.

SECONDLY, Christ has not freed believers, in this world, from the temptations and assaults of Satan: even those that are freed from his dominion, are not free from his molestation. It is said indeed, Romans 16:20. "God shall shortly bruise Satan under your feet:" But mean time he has power to bruise and buffet us by his injections, 2 Corinthians 12:7. He now bruises Christ's heel, Genesis 3:15. that is bruises him in his tempted and afflicted members: Though he cannot kill them, yet he can and does afflict and fright them, by shooting his fiery darts of temptation among them, Ephesians 6:16. It is true, when the saints are got safe into Heaven they are out of gunshot; there is perfect freedom from all temptation. A believer may then say, O you enemy, temptations are come to a perpetual end. I am now arrived there, where none of your fiery darts can reach me: But this freedom is not yet.

THIRDLY, Christ has not yet freed believers, in this world, from the motions of indwelling sin; these are continually acting, and infesting the holiest of men, Romans 7:21, 23, 24. Corruptions, like Canaanites, are still left in the land to be thorns in your eyes, and goads in your sides. Those that boast most of freedom from the motions of sin, have most cause to suspect themselves still under the dominion of sin. All Christ's freemen are troubled with the same complaint: who among them complains not as the apostle did, Romans 7:24. "Oh wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?"

FOURTHLY, Jesus Christ does not free believers, in this world, from inward troubles and exercises of soul, upon the account of sin. God may let loose Satan, and conscience too, in the way of terrible accusations, which may greatly distress the soul of a believer, and woefully eclipse the light of God's countenance, and break the peace of their souls. Job, Heman, and David were all made free by Christ, yet each of them has left upon record his bitter complaint upon this account, Job 7:19, 20. Psalm 88:14, 15, 16. Psalm 38. unto verse 11.

FIFTHLY, Christ has not freed believers, in this world, from the rods of affliction. God, in giving us our liberty, does not abridge his own liberty, Psalm 89:32. All the children of God are made free, yet what son is there whom the father chastens not? Hebrews 12:8. Exemption from affliction is so far from being the mark of a free man, that the apostle there makes it the mark of a slave. Bastards, not sons, want the discipline and blessing of the rod: To be free from affliction would be no benefit to believers, who receive so many benefits by it.

SIXTHLY, No believer is freed by Christ from the stroke of death, though they are all freed from the sting of death, Romans 8:10. The bodies of believers are under the same law of mortality with other men, Hebrews 9:27. We must come to the grave as well as others; yes, we must come to it through the same agonies, pangs, and dolors that other men do: The foot of death treads as heavy upon the bodies of the redeemed, as of other men. Believers, indeed, are distinguished by mercy from others, but the distinguishing mercy lies not here. Thus you see what believers are not freed from in this world: If you shall now say, what advantage then has a believer, or what profit is there in regeneration? I answer,

SECONDLY, That believers are freed from many great and sad miseries and evils by Jesus Christ, notwithstanding all that has been said. For,

FIRST, All believers are freed from the rigor and curse of the law: The rigorous yoke of the law is broken off from their necks, and the sweet and easy yoke of Jesus Christ put on, Matthew 9:28. The law required perfect working, under the pain of a curse, Galatians 3:10. accepted of no short endeavors; admitted no repentance; gave no strength: It is not so now; proportionable strength is given, Philippians 4:13. Evangelical sincerity is reckoned perfection, Job 1:1. Transgression brings not under condemnation, Romans 8:1. O blessed freedom! when duty becomes light, and failings hinder not acceptance! This is one part of the blessed freedom of believers.

SECONDLY, All believers are freed from the guilt of sin; it may trouble, but it cannot condemn them, Romans 8:33. The hand-writing which was against us is cancelled by Christ, nailed to his cross, Colossians 2:14. When the seal and hand-writing are torn off from the bond, the debtor is made free thereby: Believers are totally freed, Acts 13:39. "Justified from all things:" And finally freed, John 5:24. "They shall never come into condemnation." O blessed freedom! How sweet is it to lie down in our beds, yes, in. our graves, when guilt shall neither be our bed-fellow, nor grave-fellow!

THIRDLY, Jesus Christ frees all believers from the dominion as well as the guilt of sin. "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace," Romans 6:14. "The law of the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus, has made me free from the law of sin and death," Romans 8:2. Now, who can estimate such a liberty as this? What slavery, what an intolerable drudgery is the service of divers lusts, from all which believers are freed by Christ; not from the residence, but from the reign of sin. It is with sin in believers as it was with those beasts mentioned Daniel 7:12. "They had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and a time."

FOURTHLY, Jesus Christ sets all believers free from the power of Satan, in whose right they were by nature, Colossians 1:13. they are translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of Christ. Satan had the possession of them, as a man of his own goods; but Christ dispossesses that strong man armed, alters the property, and recovers them out of his hand, Luke 11:21, 22. There are two ways by which Christ frees believers out of Satan's power and possession; namely,

1. By price.

2. By power.

FIRST, By price. The blood of Christ purchases believers out of the hands of justice, by satisfying the law for them, which being done, Satan's authority over them falls of course, as the power of a gawler over the prisoner does, when he has a legal discharge, Hebrews 2:14. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood; he also himself took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." The cruel tyrant beats and burdens the poor captive no more after the ransom is once paid, and he actually freed; and therefore Christ delivers his,

SECONDLY, By power. Satan is exceeding unwilling to let go his prey: He is a strong and malicious enemy; every rescue and deliverance out of his hand is a glorious effect of the Almighty Power of Christ, Acts 26:18. 2 Corinthians 10:5. How did our Lord Jesus Christ grapple with Satan at his death, and triumph over him, Colossians 2:15. O glorious salvation! blessed liberty of the children of God!

FIFTHLY, Christ frees believers from the poisonous sting and hurt of death: Kill us it can, but hurt us it cannot, 1 Corinthians 15:55, 56. "O death! where is your sting? O grave! where is your victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law: But thanks be to God which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." If there be no hurt, there should be no horror in death: It is guilt that arms death, both with its hurting and terrifying power. To die in our sins, John 8:24. To have our bones full of the sins of our youth, which shall lie down with us in the dust, Job 20:11. To have death, like a dragon, pulling a poor guilty creature as a prey into its dreadful den, Psalm 49:14. In this lies the danger and horror of death: But from death, as a curse, and from the grave, as a prison, Christ has set believers at liberty, by submitting to death in their room; and by his victorious resurrection from the grave, as the first-born of the dead, death is disarmed of its hurting power. The death of believers is but a sleep in Jesus.

THIRDLY, The next thing to be briefly spoken to, is the kind and nature of that freedom and liberty purchased and procured by Christ for believers.

Now liberty may be considered two ways; namely,

1. As civil.

2. As sacred.

As to civil freedom, or liberty, it belongs not to our present business: Believers, as to their civil capacity, are not freed from the duties they owe to their superiors. Servants, though believers, are still to be subject to their masters, according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, Ephesians 6:5. nor from obedience to lawful magistrates, whom we are to obey in the Lord, Romans 12:1, 4. Religion dissolves not the bonds of civil relations; nor is it to be used as an occasion to the flesh, 1 Peter 2:16. It is not a carnal, but a spiritual freedom Christ has purchased for us: And this spiritual freedom is again to be considered, either as,

1. Inchoate.

2. Consummate.

The liberty believers have at present is but a beginning liberty; they are freed but in part from their spiritual enemies; but it is a growing liberty every day, and will be consummate and complete at last.

To conclude, Christian liberty is either,

1. Privative, or,

2. Positive.

The liberty believers are invested with is of both kinds: They are not only freed from many miseries, burdens and dangers, but also invested by Jesus Christ with many royal privileges and invaluable immunities.

FOURTHLY, And this brings us to the fourth and last thing; namely, the properties of this blessed freedom which the saints enjoy by Jesus Christ; and, if we consider it duly, it will be found to be,

FIRST, A wonderful liberty, never enough to be admired. How could it be imagined that ever those who owed unto God more than ever they could pay by their own eternal sufferings; those that were under the dreadful curse and condemnation of the law, in the power and possession of Satan the strong man armed; those that were bound with so many chains in their spiritual prison; their understanding bound with ignorance, their wills with obstinacy, their hearts with impenetrable hardness, their affections with a thousand betwitching vanities, that slight their state of slavery so much, as industriously to oppose all instruments and means of deliverance; for such persons to be set at liberty, notwithstanding all this, is the wonder of wonders, and will be deservedly marvelous in the eyes of believers for ever.

SECONDLY, The freedom of believers is a peculiar freedom; a liberty which few obtain; the generality abiding still in bondage to Satan, who, from the multitude of his subjects, is stiled the God of this world, 2 Corinthians 4:4. Believers in scripture are often called a remnant, which is but a small part of the whole piece: The more cause have the people of God to admire distinguishing mercy. How many nobles and great ones of the world are but royal slaves to Satan, and their own lusts!

THIRDLY, The liberty of believers is a liberty dearly purchased by the blood of Christ. What that captain said, Acts 22:28. "With a great sum obtained I this freedom," may be much more said of the believers' freedom: It was not silver or gold, but the precious blood of Christ that purchased it, 1 Peter 1:18.

FOURTHLY, The freedom and liberty of believers is a growing and increasing liberty; they get more and more out of the power of sin, and nearer still to their complete salvation every day, Romans 13:11. The body of sin dies daily in them: they are said to be crucified with Christ: the strength of sin abates continually in them, after the manner of crucified persons, who die a slow, but sure death: And look in what degree the power of sin abates, proportionally their spiritual liberty increases upon them.

FIFTHLY, The freedom of believers is a comfortable freedom: the apostle comforts Christians of the lowest rank, poor servants, with this consideration, 1 Corinthians 7:22. "He who is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman," q. d. Let not the baseness of your outward condition, which is a state of subjection and dependence, a state of poverty and contempt, at all trouble you: you are the Lord's freemen, of precious account in his eyes. O it is a comfortable liberty!

SIXTHLY, and Lastly, It is a perpetual and final freedom; they that are once freed by Christ, have their manumission and final discharge from that state of bondage they were in before: sin shall never have dominion over them any more: it may tempt them and trouble them, but shall never more rule and govern them, Acts 26:18. And thus you see what a glorious liberty the liberty of believers is.

The improvement whereof will be in the following inferences.


Inference 1. How rational is the joy of Christians, above the joy of all others in the world? Shall not the captive rejoice in his recovered liberty? the very birds of the air (as one observes) had rather be at liberty in the woods, though lean and hungry, than in a golden cage with the richest fare: every creature naturally prizes it; none more than believers, who have felt the burden and bondage of corruption, who in the days of their first illumination and conviction have poured out many groans and tears for this mercy. What was said of the captive people of God in Babylon, excellently shadows forth the state of God's people under spiritual bondage, with the way and manner of their deliverance from it, Zechariah 9:11. "By the blood of the covenant I have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water." Believers are delivered by the blood of Christ, out of a worse pit than that of Babylon; and look, as the tribes in their return from thence were overwhelmed with joy and astonishment, Psalm 126:1, 2. "When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we are like them that dream: Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing." They were overwhelmed with the sense of the mercy: So should it be with the people of God. It is said, Luke 15:24. when the prodigal son (there made the emblem of a returning, converting sinner) was returned again to his father's house, that there was heard music and dancing, mirth and feasting in that house. The angels in Heaven rejoice when a soul is recovered out of the power of Satan: And shall not the recovered soul, immediately concerned in the mercy, greatly rejoice? Yes, let them rejoice in the Lord, and let no earthly trouble or affliction ever have power to interrupt their joy for a moment, after such a deliverance as this.

Inference 2. How unreasonable and wholly inexcusable is the sin of apostasy from Jesus Christ? What is it but for a delivered captive to put his feet again into the shackles; his hands into the manacles; his neck into the iron yoke, from which he has been delivered? It is said, Matthew 12:44, 45. "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walks through dry places, seeking rest and finds none: Then he says, I will return into mine house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he finds it empty, swept, and garnished; then goes he, and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there, and the last state of that man is worse than the first." Even as a prisoner that has escaped, and is again recovered, is loaded with double irons. Let the people of God be content to run any hazard, endure any difficulties in the way of religion, rather than return again into their former bondage, to sin and Satan. O Christian! if ever God gave you a sight and a sense of the misery and danger of your natural state, if ever you have felt the pangs of laboring and distressed conscience, and, after all this, tasted the unspeakable sweetness of the peace and rest that are in Christ, you will rather chose to die ten thousand deaths, than to forsake Christ, and go back again into that sad condition.

Inference 3. How suitable and well-becoming is a free spirit in believers to their state of liberty and freedom? Christ has made your condition free, O let the temper and frame of your hearts be free also; do all that you do for God with a spirit of freedom; not by constraint, but willingly. Methinks, Christians, the new nature that is in you should stand for a command, and be instead of all arguments that use to work upon the hopes and fears of other men. See how all creatures work according to the principle of their natures. You need not command a mother to draw forth her breasts to a sucking child; nature itself teaches and prompts to that. You need not bid the sea ebb and flow at the stated hours. O Christian! why should your heart need any other argument, than its own spiritual inclination, to keep its stated times and seasons of communion with God? Let none of God's commandments be grievous to you: let not your heart need dragging and forcing to its own benefit and advantage. Whatever you do for God, do it cheerfully; and whatever you suffer for God suffer it cheerfully. It was a brave spirit which actuated holy Paul, "I am ready says he) not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus," Acts 21:13.

Inference 4. Let no man wonder at the enmity and opposition of Satan to the preaching of the gospel: for by the gospel it is that souls are recovered out of his power, Acts 26:18. It is the express work of ministers "to turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God." Satan (as one says) is a great and jealous prince: he will never endure to have liberty proclaimed by the ministers of Christ within his dominions. And, indeed, what is it less, when the gospel is preached in power, but as it were by beat of drum, and sound of trumpet, to proclaim liberty, spiritual, sweet, and everlasting liberty, to every soul sensible of the bondage of corruption and the cruel servitude of Satan, and will now come over to Jesus Christ? And O what numbers and multitudes of prisoners have broken loose from Satan at one proclamation of Christ, Acts 2:41. But Satan owes the servants of Christ a spite for this, and will be sure to pay them if ever they come within his reach; persecution is the evil genius of the gospel, and follows it as the shadow does the body.

Inference 5. How careful should Christians be to maintain their spiritual liberty in all and every point thereof! "stand fast (says Paul) in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and be not again entangled in the yoke of bondage," Galatians 5:1. And again, "You are bought with a price, be not you the servants of men." It is Christ's prerogative to prescribe the rules of his own house; he has given no man dominion over your faith, 2 Corinthians 1:24. One man is no rule to another, but the word of Christ is a rule to all: follow not the holiest of men one step farther than they follow Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:4. Man is an ambitious creature, naturally affecting dominion; and dominion over the mind rather than over the body. To give law to others, feeds pride in himself; so far as any man brings the word of Christ to warrant his injunctions, so far we are to obey, and no farther; Christ is your Lord and Lawgiverse

Inference 6. Lastly, Let this encourage and persuade sinners to come to Christ; for with him is sweet liberty to poor captives. Oh that you did but know what a blessed state Jesus Christ would bring you into! "Come unto me (says he) you that labor and are heavy laden:" and what encouragement does he give to comers? Why this, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light." The devil persuades you, that the ways of obedience and strict godliness are a perfect bondage; but if ever God regenerate you, you will find his ways, "ways of pleasantness, and all his paths peace: you will rejoice in the way of his commandments as much as in all riches:" you will find the worst work Christ puts you about, even suffering work, sweeter than all the pleasures that ever you found in sin. O therefore open your hearts at the call of the gospel: Come unto Christ, then shall you be free indeed.




The Saints coming home to GOD by Reconciliation and Glorification, opened and applied

1 PETER 3:18, "For Christ has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God."

THE scope of the apostle in this place is to prepare and fortify Christians for a day of suffering. In order to their cheerful sustaining whereof, he prescribes two excellent rules of mighty use for all suffering Christians.

FIRST, To get a good conscience within them, verse 16, 17. hic murus aheneus esto.

SECONDLY, To set the example of Christ's sufferings before them, verse 18. "For Christ has once suffered for sinners;" the sufferings of Christ for us, is the great motive engaging Christians to suffer cheerfully for him.

In the words before us we have,

FIRST, The sufficiency and fullness of Christ's sufferings intimated in that particle [once]; Christ needs to suffer no more, having finished and completed that whole work at once.

SECONDLY, The meritorious cause of the sufferings of Christ, and that is sin, Christ once suffered for sins; not his own sins, but ours; as it follows in the next clause, which is the third thing here observable, namely,

THIRDLY, The admirable grace and unexampled love of Christ to us sinners, the just for the unjust; in which words the substitution of Christ in the room and place of sinners, the vicegerence of his death is plainly expressed. Christ died not only nostra bono, for our good, but also nostra loco, in our stead.

FOURTHLY, Here is also the final cause or design and scope of the sufferings of Christ, which was to bring us to God.

FIFTHLY, Here is also the issue of the sufferings of Christ, which was the death of Christ in the flesh, and the quickening of Christ after death by the Spirit. Many excellent observations are lodged in the bosom of this scripture; all which I must pass over in silence at this time, and confine my discourse to the final cause of the sufferings of Christ, namely, that he might bring us to God: where the observation will be plainly and briefly this.

DOCTRINE: That the end of Christ's cursed death, and bitter sufferings, was to bring all those for whom he died unto God.

In the explication and preparation of this point for use, two things must be spoken unto, namely,

1. What Christ's bringing us to God imports?

2. What influence the death of Christ has upon this design of bringing us to God?

FIRST, What Christ's bringing us to God imports? And certainly there be many great and excellent things contained in this expression: more generally it notes our state of reconciliation, and our state of glorification. By reconciliation we are brought near to God, Ephesians 2:13. "You are made near," that is reconciled, "by the blood of Christ," Hebrews 12:22, 23. we are said "to come to God the Judge of all." By reconciliation we are brought near unto God now; by glorification we shall be brought home to God hereafter, 1 Thessalonians 4:17. "We shall be ever with the Lord." But more particularly this phrase, "that he might bring us to God," imports,

FIRST, That the chief happiness of man consists in the enjoyment of God: that the creature has as necessary dependence upon God for happiness, as the stream has upon the fountain, or the image in the glass upon the face of him that looks into it. For as the sum of the creature's misery lies in this, depart from me; separation from God being the principal part of damnation; so, on the contrary, the chief happiness of the creature consists in the enjoyment and blessed vision of God, 1 John 3:2. Psalm 17:15. "I shall be satisfied when I awake with your likeness."

SECONDLY, It implies man's revolt and apostasy from God, Ephesians 2:12. "But now in Christ Jesus, you who were some time afar off, are made near by the blood of Christ." Those whom Christ brings unto God were before afar off from him, both in state and condition, and in temper and disposition: we were lost creatures, and had no desire to return to God. The prodigal was said to go into a far country, Luke 15:30.

THIRDLY, Christ's bringing us to God, implies our inability to return to God of ourselves; we must be brought back by Christ, or perish forever in a state of separation from God: the lost sheep is made the emblem of the lost sinner, Luke 15:5. The sheep returns not to the fold of itself, but the shepherd seeks it, finds it, and carries it back upon his shoulders. And the apostle plainly tells us, Romans 5:6. That when we were without strength, that is any ability to recover, help, or save ourselves, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.

FOURTHLY, Christ bringing us to God evidently implies this, that God's unsatisfied justice was once the great bar between him and man. Man can have no access to God but by Christ: Christ brings us to God by no other way but the way of satisfaction by his blood: "He has suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God." Better ten thousand worlds should perish forever, than that God should lose the honor of his justice. This great obex, or bar to our enjoyment of God, is effectually removed by the death of Christ, whereby God's justice is not only fully satisfied, but highly honored and glorified, Romans 3:24. And so the way by which we are brought to God is again opened (to the wonder and joy of all believers) by the blood and sufferings of Christ.

FIFTHLY, and lastly, It shows us the peculiar happiness and privilege of believers above all people in the world: these only are they which shall be brought to God by Jesus Christ in a reconciled state: others, indeed, shall be brought to God as a Judge, to be condemned by him: believers only are brought to God in the Mediator's hand, as a reconciled Father, to be made blessed forever in the enjoyment of him: every believer is brought singly to God at his death, Luke 16:22. And all believers shall be jointly and solemnly presented to God in the great day, Colossians 1:22. Jude, verse 24. They shall be all presented faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. Now the privilege of believers in that day will lie in divers things.

FIRST, That they shall be all brought to God together. This will be the general assembly mentioned, Hebrews 12:22. There shall be a collection of all believers, in all ages of the world, into one blessed assembly; they shall come from the east, and west, and north, and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God, Luke 13:29. O what a glorious train will be seen following the Redeemer in that day!

SECONDLY, As all the saints shall be collected into one body; so they shall be all brought or presented unto God, faultless and without blemish, Jude, verse 24. "A glorious church, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing," Ephesians 5:27. For this is the general assembly of the spirits of just men that are made perfect, Hebrews 12:23. All sin was perfectly separated from them when death had separated their souls and bodies.

THIRDLY, In this lies the privilege of believers, that as they shall be all brought together, and that in a state of absolute purity, and perfection, so they shall be all brought to God: they shall see his face, in the vision whereof is "fullness of joy, and at whose righthand are pleasures for evermore," Psalm 16:11. The objective blessedness of the saints consists in their fruition of God, Psalm 72:25. To see God in his word and works, is the happiness of the saints on earth; but to see him face to face, will be the fullness of their blessedness in Heaven, 1 John 3:2. This is that intuitive, transforming, and sanctifying vision, of which the scriptures frequently speaks, Psalm 17:15. 1 Corinthians 15:28. Revelation 7:17.

FOURTHLY, To be brought unto God, must needs imply a state of perfect joy and highest delight. So speaks the apostle, Jude 14. Christ shall present, or bring them to God with exceeding joy. And more fully the joy of this day is expressed, Psalm 45:15. "With joy and rejoicing shall they be brought; they shall enter into the kings palace." It will be a day of universal joy, when all the saints are brought home to God in a perfected state. For,

1. God the Father will rejoice when Christ brings home that precious number of his elect, whom he redeemed by his blood: he rejoices in them now, though imperfect, and under many distasteful corruptions and weaknesses, Zephaniah 3:17. How much more will he rejoice in them when Christ presents them without spot or wrinkle to him, Ephesians 5:27.

2. Jesus Christ will exceedingly rejoice; it will be the day of the gladness and satisfaction of his heart; for now, and not until now, he receives his mystical fullness, Colossians 1:24. beholds all the blessed issues of his death, which cannot but give him unspeakable contentment, Isaiah 53:11. "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied."

3. The day in which believers are brought home to God, will be a day of unspeakable joy to the Holy Spirit of God himself. For unto this all his sanctifying designs in this world had respect: to this day he sealed them: towards this day he stirred up desires, and groanings in their hearts that cannot be uttered, Ephesians 4:30. Romans 8:26. Thus the great and blessed persons, Father, Son, and Spirit, will rejoice in the bringing home of the elect to God. For as it is the greatest joy to a man to see the designs which his heart has been long projecting, and intently set upon, by an orderly conduct, at last brought to the happy issue he first aimed at; much more will it be so here; the counsel and hand of each person being deeply concerned in this blessed design.

4. The angels of God will rejoice at the bringing home of believers to him: the spirits of just men made perfect, will be united in one general assembly, with an innumerable company of angels, Hebrews 12:22. Great is the affection and love of angels to redeemed ones; they greatly rejoiced at the incarnation of Christ for them, Luke 2:13. They greatly delighted to pry into the mystery of their redemption, 1 Peter 1:12. They were marvelously delighted at their conversion, which was the day of their espousals to Christ, Luke 15:10. They have been tender and careful over them, and very serviceable to them in this world, Hebrews 1:14. and therefore cannot but rejoice exceedingly, to see them all brought home in safety to their fathers house.

5. To conclude, Christ's bringing home all believers unto God, will be matter of unspeakable joy to themselves; for, whatever knowledge and acquaintance they had with God here, whatever sights of faith they had of Heaven and the glory to come in this world, yet the sight of God and Christ the Redeemer will be an unspeakable surprise to them in that day. This will be the day of relieving all their wants, the day of satisfaction to all their desires; for now they are come where they would be, arrived at the very desires of their souls.

SECONDLY, In the last place, let it be considered, what influence the death of Christ has upon this design, and you shall find it much every way. In two things especially, the death of Christ has a blessed casualty and influence in this matter, namely,

1. It effectually removes all obstacles to it.

2. It purchases (as a price) their title to it.

FIRST, The death of Christ removes all obstacles out of the way of this mercy: such were the bars hindering our access to God as nothing but the death of Christ could remove, and thereby open a way for believers to come to God. The guilt of sin barred us from his gracious presence, Romans 1:2, 3. Hosea 14:2. The filth of sin excluded us from God, Habakkuk 1:2–3. Hebrews 12:14 The enmity of our nature perfectly stopped up our way to God, Colossians 1:21. Romans 8:7. by reason hereof fallen man has no desire to come unto God, Job 21:14. The justice of God, like a flaming sword, turning every way, kept all men from access to God. And Lastly, Satan, that malicious and armed adversary, lay as a lion in the way to God, 1 Peter 5:8. O, with what strong bars were the gates of Heaven shut against our souls! The way of God was chained up with such difficulties, as none but Christ was able to remove; and he by death has effectually removed them all: The way is now open, even the new and the living way, consecrated for us by his blood. The death of Christ effectually removes the guilt of sin, 1 Peter 2:24. washes off the filth of sin, 1 John 5:6. takes away the enmity of nature, Colossians 1:20, 21. satisfies all the demands of justice, Romans 3:25, 26. has broken all the power of Satan, Colossians 2:15. Hebrews 2:14. and consequently the way to God is effectually and fully opened to believers by the blood of Jesus, Hebrews 10:20.

SECONDLY, The blood of Christ purchased for believers their right and title to this privilege, Galatians 4:4, 5. "But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law; to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons," that is both the relation and inheritance of sons. There was value and worth enough in the precious blood of Christ, not only to pay all our debts to justice, but over and above the payment of our debts, to purchase for us this invaluable privilege. We must put this unspeakable mercy of being brought to God, as my text puts it, upon the account, and to the score of the death of Christ: no believer had ever tasted the sweetness of such a mercy, if Christ had not tasted the bitterness of death for him. The use of all you will have in the following deductions of truth.


Deduction. 1. Great is the preciousness and worth of souls, that the life of Christ should be given to redeem and recover them to God. As God laid out his thoughts and counsel from eternity, upon them, to project the way and method of their salvation, so the Lord Jesus, in pursuance of that blessed design, came from the bosom of the Father, and spilt his invaluable blood to bring them to God. No wise man expends vast sums to bring home trifling commodities: how cheap soever our souls are in our estimation, it is evident by this they are of precious esteem in the eyes of Christ.

Deduct. 2. Redeemed souls must expect no rest or satisfaction on this side Heaven, and the full enjoyment of God. The life of a believer in this world, is a life of motion and expectation: they are now coming to God, 1 Peter 2:4. God, you see, is the center and rest of their souls, Hebrews 4:9. As the rivers cannot rest until they pour themselves into the bosom of the sea, so neither can renewed souls find rest until they come into the bosom of God. There are four things which do and will break the rest, and disturb the souls of believers in this world; afflictions, temptations, corruptions, and absence from God. If the three former causes of disquietness were totally removed, so that a believer were placed in such a condition upon earth, where no affliction could disturb him, no temptation trouble him, no corruption defile or grieve him, yet his very absence from God must still keep him restless and unsatisfied, 2 Corinthians 5:6. "While we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord."

Deduct. 3. What sweet and pleasant thoughts should all believers have of death! When they die, and never until they die, shall they be fully brought home to God. Death to the saints, is the door by which they enter into the enjoyment of God: the dying Christian is almost at home, yet a few pangs and agonies more, and then he is come to God, in whose presence is the fullness of joy. "I desire (says Paul) to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better," Philippians 1:23. It should not affright us to be brought to death, the king of terrors, so long as it is the office of death to bring us to God. That dreaming opinion of the soul sleeping after death, is as ungrounded, as it is uncomfortable: the same day we loose from this shore, we shall be landed upon the blessed shore, where we shall see and enjoy God for ever. O, if the friends of dead believers did but understand where, and with whom their souls are, while they are mourning over their bodies, certainly a few believing thoughts of this would quickly dry up their tears, and fill the house of mourning with voices of praise and thanksgiving!

Deduct. 4. How comfortable and sweet should the converses and communication of Christians be one with another, in this world! Christ is bringing them all to God through this valley of tears: they are now in the way to him; all bound for Heaven; going home to God, their everlasting rest in glory: every day, every hour, every duty brings them nearer and nearer to their journey's end, Romans 13:11. "Now (says the apostle) is our salvation nearer than when we believed." O, what manner of heavenly communications and ravishing discourses should believers have with each other as they walk by the way! O, what pleasant and delightful converse should they have with one another about the place and state where Christ is bringing them, and where they shall shortly be! What ravishing, transporting, transforming visions they shall have that day they are brought home to God! How surprizingly glorious to them the sight of Jesus Christ will be, who died for them to bring them unto God! how should such discourses as these, shorten and sweeten their passage through this world, strengthen and encourage the dejected and feeble-minded, and exceedingly honor and adorn their profession? Thus lived the believers of old, Hebrews 11:9, 10. "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God." But, alas! most Christians are either so entangled in the cares and troubles, or so ensnared by the delights and pleasures which almost continually divert and take up their thoughts by the way, that there is but little room for any discourses of Christ and Heaven, among many of them: but certainly this would be as much your interest as your duty. When the apostle had entertained the Thessalonians with a lovely discourse of their meeting the Lord in the air, and being ever with the Lord, he charges it upon them as their great duty, to comfort one another with these words, 1 Thessalonians 4:17, 18.

Deduct. 5. How unreasonable are the dejections of believers upon the account of those troubles which they meet with in this world! It is true, afflictions of all kinds do attend believers in their way to God; through many tribulations we must enter into that kingdom. But what then? must we despond and droop under them as other men? Surely no; If afflictions be the way through which you must come to God, then never be discouraged at affliction; troubles and afflictions are of excellent use, under the blessings of the Spirit, to further Christ's great design in bringing you to God. How often would you turn out of that way which leads to God, if he did not hedge up your way with thorns, Hosea 2:6. Doubtless when you come home to God, you shall find you have been much indebted (it may be a great deal more) to your troubles than to your comforts, for bringing you thither: however, the sweetness of the end will infinitely more than recompense the sorrows and troubles of the way: nor are they worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in you, Romans 8:18.

Deduct. 6. How much are all believers obliged, in point of interest, to follow Jesus Christ wherever he goes! Thus are the saints described, Revelation 14:4. "These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes: these were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits unto God, and to the Lamb." If it be the design of Christ to bring us to God, then certainly it is our duty to follow Christ in all the paths of active and passive obedience through which he now leads us, as ever we expect to be brought home to God at last: "We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end," Hebrews 3:14. If we have followed him through many sufferings and troubles, and shall turn away from him at last, we lose all that we have wrought and suffered in religion, and shall never reach home to God at last. The crown of life belongs only to them who are faithful to the death.

Deduct. 7. Let all that desire, or expect to come to God hereafter, come to Christ by faith now. There is no other way to the Father, but by Christ; no other way to Christ but faith. How vain therefore are the hopes and expectations of all unbelievers? Be assured of this great truth, Death shall bring you to God as an avenging Judge, if Christ do not bring you now to God as a reconciled Father: without holiness no man shall see God: the door of hope is shut against all christless persons, John 14:6. "No man comes unto the Father but by me." O what a sweet voice comes down from Heaven to your souls this day, saying, As ever you expect or hope to come to God, and enjoy the blessing that is here, come unto Christ, obey his calls, give up yourselves to his conduct and government, and you shall certainly be brought to God! As sure as you shall now be brought to Jesus Christ by spiritual union, so sure shall you be brought to God in full fruition.

Blessed be God for Jesus Christ, the new and living way to the Father.

And thus I have finished the motives drawn from the titles and benefits of Christ, serving to enforce and quicken the great gospel-exhortation of coming to, and effectually applying the Lord Jesus Christ in the way of faith. O that the blessings of the Spirit might follow these calls, and fix these considerations as nails in sure places! But seeing the great hindrance and obstruction to faith is the false opinion and persuasion of most unregenerate men, that they are already in Christ; my next work therefore shall be, in a second use of conviction, to undeceive men in that matter; and that, by showing them the undoubted certainty of these two things:

FIRST, That there is no coming ordinarily to Christ without the application of the law to our consciences, in a way of effectual conviction.

SECONDLY, Nor by that neither, without the teachings of God, in the way of spiritual illumination. The first of these will be fully confirmed and opened in the following sermon.




The great usefulness of the Law or Word of GOD, in order to the Application of CHRIST

ROMANS 7:9, "For I was alive without the law once, bat when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died."

THE scope of the apostle in this epistle, and more particularly in this chapter, is to state the due use and excellency of the law, which he does accordingly.

FIRST, By denying to it a power to justify us, which is the peculiar honor of Christ.

SECONDLY, By ascribing to it a power to convince us, and so prepare us for Christ.

Neither attributing to it more honor than belongs to it, nor yet detracting from it that honor and usefulness which God has given it. It cannot make us righteous, but it can convince us that we are unrighteous; it cannot heal, but it can open and discover the wounds that sin has given us; which lie proves in this place by an argument drawn from his own experience, confirmed also by the general experience of believers, in whose persons and names we must here understand him to speak; "For I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." Wherein three particulars are very observable.

FIRST, The opinion Paul had, and all unregenerate men have of themselves before conversion: I was alive once. By life, understand here liveliness, cheerfulness, and confidence of his good estate and condition: he was full of vain hope, false joy, and presumptuous confidence; a very brisk and jovial man.

SECONDLY, The sense and opinion he had, and all others will have of themselves, if ever they come under the regenerating work of the Spirit in his ordinary method of working: I died. The death he here speaks of, stands opposed to that life before mentioned; and signifies the sorrows, fears, and tremblings that seized upon his soul, when his state and temper were upon the change: the apprehensions he then had of his condition struck him home to the heart, and damped all his carnal mirth: I died.

THIRDLY, The ground and reason of this wonderful alteration and change of his judgment, and apprehension of his own condition; the commandment came, and sin revived: The commandment came, that is it came home to my conscience, it was fixed with a divine and mighty efficacy upon my heart: the commandment was come before by way of promulgation, and the literal knowledge of it; but it never came until now in its spiritual sense and convincing power to his soul; though he had often read, and heard the law before, yet he never clearly understood the meaning and extent, he never felt the mighty efficacy thereof upon his heart before; it so came at this time, as it never came before. From hence the observations are,

DOCTRINE: 1. That unregenerate persons are generally full of groundless confidence and cheerfulness, though their condition be sad and miserable.

DOCTRINE: 2. That there is a mighty efficacy in the word or law of God, to kill vain confidence, and quench carnal mirth in the hearts of men, when God sets it home upon their consciences.

We shall take both these points under consideration, and improve them to the design in hand.

DOCTRINE: 1. That unregenerate persons are generally full of groundless confidence and cheerfulness, though their condition be sad and miserable; Revelation 3:17. Because you say I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked; This is the very life that unregenerate men do live.

In opening whereof, I shall show you,

1. What is the life of the unregenerate.

2. What maintains that life.

3. How it appears that this is the life the generality of the world do live.

4. The danger of living such a life as this: and then apply it.

FIRST, What is the life of the unregenerate, and wherein it consists? Now there being, among others, three things in which the life of the unregenerate does principally consist, namely,

Carnal security,

Presumptuous hope, and

False joy,

Of these briefly in their order.

FIRST, There is in unregenerate men a great deal of carnal security; they dread no danger; Luke 11:21. "When a strong man armed keeps his palace, his goods are at peace:" There is generally a great stillness and silence in the consciences of such men; when others, in a better condition, are watching and trembling, they sleep securely: so they live, and so offtimes they die, Psalm 73:4. "They have no bonds in their death," [Hebrew, on knots], no difficulties that puzzle them. It is true, the consciences of few men are so perfectly stupefied, but that some time or other they twang and gird them; but it seldom works to that height, or continues with them so long as to give any considerable interruption to their carnal peace and quietness.

SECONDLY, The life of the unregenerate consists in presumptuous hope: this is the very foundation of their carnal security. So Christ tells the Jews, John 8:54, 55. "Of whom you say that he is your God, and yet you have not known him." The world is full of hope without a promise, which is but as a spider's web, when a stress comes to be laid upon it, John 20:8. Unregenerate men are said indeed to be without hope, Ephesians 2:12. but the meaning is, they are without any solid, well-grounded hope; for in scripture-account, vain hope is no hope, except it be a lively hope, 1 Peter 1:3. A hope flowing from union with Christ, Colossians 1:27. A hope nourished by experience, Romans 5:4. A hope for which a man can give a reason, 1 Peter 3:15. a hope that puts men upon heart-purifying endeavors, 1 John 3:3. It is in the account of God a cipher, a vanity, not deserving the name of hope; and yet such a groundless, dead, christless, irrational, idle hope is that which the unregenerate live upon.

THIRDLY, The life of the unregenerate consists in false joy, the immediate offspring of ungrounded hope, Matthew 13:28. The stony ground receive the word with joy.

There are two sorts of joy upon which the unregenerate live, namely,

1. A sensitive joy in things carnal.

2. A delusive joy in things spiritual.

They rejoice in corn, wine, and oil, in their estates and children, in the pleasant fruitions of the creature; yes, and they rejoice also in Christ and the promises, in Heaven and in glory: with all which they have just such a kind of communion as a man has in a dream with a full feast and curious music; and just so their joy will vanish when they awake. Now these three, security, hope, and joy, make up the livelihood of the carnal world.

SECONDLY, Next it concerns us to inquire what are the things that maintain and support this security, hope and joy in the hearts of unregenerate men; and if we consider duly, we shall find that church-privileges, natural ignorance, false evidences of the love of God, slight workings of the gospel, self-love, comparing themselves with the more profane, and Satan's policy managing all these in order to their eternal ruin, are so many springs to feed and maintain this life of delusion in the unregenerate.

1. Church privileges lay the foundation to this strong delusion. Thus the Jews deceived themselves, saying in their hearts, "We have Abraham for our father," Matthew 3:9. This propt up the vain hopes that Abraham's blood ran in their veins, though Abraham's faith and obedience never wrought in their hearts.

2. Natural ignorance; this keeps all in peace: they that see not, fear not. There are but two ways to quiet the hearts of men about their spiritual and eternal concernments, namely, the way of assurance and faith, or the way of ignorance and self-deceit; by the one we are put beyond danger, by the other beyond fear, though the danger be greater. Satan could never quiet men, if he did not first blind them.

3. False evidences of the love of God is another spring feeding this security, vain hope, and false joy in the hearts of men: see the power of it to hush and still the conscience, Matthew 7:2. "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name?" etc. The things upon which they built their evidence and confidence, were external things in religion; yet they had a quieting power upon them, as if they had been the best evidences in the world.

4. Slight workings of the gospel; such are transient motions of the affections under the word, Hebrews 6:8. the working of their desires about spiritual objects John 6:34. Math. 25:8. the external change and reformation of their ways, Matthew 12:43. all which serve to nourish the vain hopes of the unregenerate.

5. Self-love is an apparent reason and ground of security and false hope, Matthew 7:3. It makes a man to overlook great evils in himself, while he is sharp-sighted to discover and censure lesser evils in others: self-love takes away the sight of sin, by bringing it too near the eye.

6. Mens comparing themselves with those that are more profane and grossly wicked than themselves, serves notably to quiet and hush the conscience asleep; "God, I thank you, (said the Pharisee), I am not as other men, or as this publican." O what a saint did he seem to himself, when he stood by those that were externally more wicked.

7. And lastly, The policy of Satan to manage all these things to the blinding and ruining of the souls of men, is another great reason they live so securely and pleasantly as they do, in a state of so much danger and misery, 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4. "The God of this world has blinded the minds of them that believe not."

THIRDLY, You have seen what the life of the unregenerate is, and what maintains that life. In the next place, I shall give you evidence that this is the life the generality of the world do live; a life of carnal security, vain hope, and false joy; this will evidently appear, if we consider,

FIRST, The activity and liveliness of men's spirits in pursuit of the world. O how lively and vigorous are their hearts in the management of earthly designs! Psalm 6:4. "Who will show us any good?" The world eats up their hearts, time, and strength. Now this could never be, if their eyes were but opened to see the danger and misery their souls are in. How few designs for the world run in the thoughts of a condemned man? O if God had ever made the light of conviction to shine into their consciences, certainly the temptations would lie the quite contrary way, even in too great a neglect of things of this life! But this briskness and liveliness plainly show the great security which is upon most men.

SECONDLY, The marvelous quietness and stillness that is in the thoughts and consciences of men, about their everlasting concernments, plainly shows this to be the life of the unregenerate: How few scruples, doubts, or fears shall you hear from them? How many years may a man live in carnal families, before he shall hear such a question as this seriously propounded, "What shall I do to be saved?" There are no questions in their lips, because no fear or sense of danger in their hearts.

THIRDLY, The general contentedness, and professed willingness of carnal men to die, give clear evidence that such a life of security and vain hope is the life they live; "Like sheep they are laid in the grave," Psalm 49:14. O how quiet and still are their consciences, when there are but a few breaths more between them and everlasting burnings! Had God opened their eyes to apprehend the consequences of death, and what follows the pale horse, Revelation 6:8. it were impossible but that every unregenerate man should make that bed on which he dies shake and tremble under him.

FOURTHLY, and lastly, The low esteem men have for Christ, and the total neglect of, at least the mere trifling with, those duties in which he is to be found, plainly discover this stupid secure life to be the life that the generality of the world do live; for were men sensible of the disease of sin, there could be no quieting them without "Christ the physician," Philippians 3:8. All the business they have to do in this world could never keep them from their knees, or make them strangers to their closets; all which, and much more that might be said of the like nature, gives too full and clear proof of this sad assertion, that this is the life the ungenerate world generally lives.

FOURTHLY, In the last place, I would speak a few words to discover the danger of such a life as has been described; to which purpose let the following brief hints be seriously minded.

FIRST, By these things souls are inevitably betrayed into Hell and eternal ruin; this blinding is in order to damning, 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4. "If our gospel be hid, it is hidden to them that are lost; whose eyes the God of this world has blinded." Those that are turned over into eternal death are thus generally hoodwinked and blinded in order thereunto, Isaiah 6:9, 10. "And he said go and tell this people, hear you indeed, but understand not: and see you indeed, but perceive not. Make the hearts of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and convert, and be healed."

SECONDLY, As damning is the event of blinding, so nothing makes Hell a more terrible surprise to the soul than this does: By this means the wrath of God is felt before its danger be apprehended; a man is past all hope, before he begins to have any fear: his eternal ruin, like a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, comes suddenly at an instant, Isaiah 30:13. and as it damns surely and surprizingly, so,

THIRDLY, Nothing more aggravates a man's damnation than to sink suddenly into it, from amidst so many hopes, and high confidence of safety: For a man to find himself in Hell, when he thought and concluded himself within a step of Heaven, O what a Hell will it be to such men! The higher vain hopes lifted them up, the more dreadful must their fall be, Matthew 7:22. And as it damns surely, surprizingly, and with highest aggravations, so,

FOURTHLY, This life of security and vain hope frustrates all the means of recovery and salvation, in the only season wherein they can be useful and beneficial to us: By reason of these things the word has no power to convince men's consciences, nothing can bring them to a sight and sense of their condition: Therefore Christ told the self-confident and blind Jews, Matthew 21:21. "That the publicans and harlots go into the kingdom of God before them:" And the reason is, because their hearts lie more open and fair to the strokes of conviction and compunction for sin than those do, who are blinded by vain hopes and confidences.


Inference 1. Is this the life that the unregenerate world lives? Then it is not to be wondered at that the preaching of the gospel has so little success: "Who has believed our report? (says the prophet) and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" Isaiah 53:1. Ministers study for truths apt to awaken and convince the consciences of them that hear them, but their words return again to them: They turn to God, and mourn over the matter; we have labored in vain, and spent our strength for nothing: And this security is the cause of all; vain hopes bar fast the doors of men's hearts against all the convictions and persuasions of the word. The greater cause have they to admire the grace of God, who have found, or shall find the convictions of the word sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit; to whose hearts God brings home the commandment by an effectual application.

Inference 2. If this be the life of the unregenerate world, what deadly enemies are they that nourish and strengthen the groundless confidences and vain hopes of salvation in men? This the scripture calls the healing of the hurt of souls slightly, by crying, "Peace, peace, when there is no peace," Jeremiah 6:14. The sewing of pillows under their arm-holes, Ezekiel 13:18. That they may lie soft and easy under the ministry; and this is the doctrine which the people love: but oh, what will the end of these things be! And what an account have those men to give to God for the blood of those souls by them betrayed to the everlasting burnings! Such flattery is the greatest cruelty: Those whom you bless upon earth, will curse you in Hell, and the day in which they trusted their souls to your conduct.

Inference 3. How great a mercy is it to be awakened out of that general sleep and seurity which is fallen upon the world! You cannot estimate the value of that mercy, for it is a peculiar mercy. O that ever the Spirit of the Lord should touch your soul under the ministry of the word, startle, and rouse your conscience, while others are left in the dead sleep of security round about you! When the Lord dealt with your soul much after the same manner he did with Paul in the way to Damascus, who not only saw a light shining from Heaven, which those that traveled with him saw as well as he, but heard that voice from Heaven which did the work upon his heart, though his companions heard it not. Besides, it is not only a peculiar mercy, but it is a leading, introductive mercy, to all other spiritual mercies that follow it to all eternity. If God had not done this for you, you had never been brought to faith, to Christ, or Heaven. From this act of the Spirit all other saving acts take their rise; so that you have cause forever to admire the goodness of God in such a favor as this is.

Inference 4. Lastly, Hence it follows that the generality of the world are in the direct way to eternal ruin; and whatever their vain confidences are, they cannot be saved. "Narrow is the way, and strait is the gate that leads unto life, and few there be that find it." Hear me all you that live this dangerous life of carnal security and vain hope, whatever your persuasions and confidences are, except you give them up, and get better grounds for your hope, you cannot be saved. For,

FIRST, Such hopes and confidences as yours are directly contradictory to the established order of the gospel, which requires repentance, Acts 5:31. faith, Acts 13:39. and regeneration, John 3:3. in all that shall be saved. And this order shall never be altered for any man's sake.

SECONDLY, If such as you be saved, all the threatenings in scripture must be rever.d, which lie in full opposition to your vain hopes, Mark 16:16. John 3:16. Romans 3:8, 9. Either the truth of God, in these threatenings must fail, or your vain hopes must fail.

THIRDLY, If ever such as you be saved, new conditions must be set to all the promises; for there is no condition of any special promise found in any unregenerate person. Compare your hearts with these scriptures, Matthew 5:3, 4, 5, 6. Psalm 24:4. Psalm 84:11. Genesis 17:1, 2.

FOURTHLY, If ever such a hope as yours bring you to Heaven, then the saving hope of God's elect is not rightly described to us in the scriptures. Scripture-hope is the effect of regeneration, 1 Peter 1:3. And purity of heart is the effect of that hope, 1 John 3:3. Nay,

FIFTHLY, The very nature of Heaven is mistaken in scripture, if such as you be subjects qualified for its enjoyment: For assimilation, or the conformity of the soul to God in holiness, is, in the scripture account, a principal ingredient of that blessedness: By all which it manifestly appears that the hopes of most men are in vain, and will never bring them to Heaven.




ROMANS 7:9, "For I was alive without the law once: But when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died."

DOCTRINE: 2. THAT there is a mighty efficacy in the word or law of God, to kill vain confidence, and quench carnal mirth in the hearts of men, when God sets it home upon their consciences. "The weapons of the word are not carnal, but mighty through God; to the pulling down of strong holds, casting down imaginations, and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ," 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5.

In the opening of this point I shall,

1. Demonstrate the efficacy of the word or law of God.

2. Show wherein the efficacy thereof lies.

3. From whence it has all this mighty power and efficacy.

FIRST, I shall give you some demonstrations of the mighty power and efficacy that there are in the word or law of God; which will appear with the fullest evidence,

FIRST, From the various subjects upon whom it works: The hearts and consciences of men of all orders and qualities, have been reached and wounded to the quick by the two-edged sword of God's law. Some, among the great and honorable of the earth, (though indeed the fewest of that rank) have been made to stoop and tremble under the word, Acts 24:16. Mark 6:20. 1 Samuel 15:24. The wise and learned of the world have felt its power, and been brought over to embrace the humbling and self-denying ways of Christ, Acts 17:34. Thus Origen, Hierom, Tertullian, Bradwardine, and many more, came into Canaan laden with the Egyptian gold, as one speaks, that is they came into the church of God abundantly enriched and furnished with the learned arts and sciences, devoting them all to the service of Christ. Yes, and which is as strange, the most simple, weak, and illiterate have been wonderfully changed, and wrought upon by the power of the word: "The testimonies of the Lord make wise the simple:" Men of weak understandings, in all other matters, have been made wise to salvation by the power of the word, Matthew 11:25. 1 Corinthians 1:27. Nay the most malicious and obstinate enemies of Christ have been wounded and converted by the word, 1 Timothy 1:13. Acts 16:25. Those that have been under the prejudice of the worst and most idolatrous education, have been the subjects of its mighty power, Acts 19:26. To conclude, men of the most profligate and debauched lives have been wonderfully changed and altered by the power of the word, 1 Corinthians 6:10, 11.

SECONDLY, The mighty efficacy of the law of God appears in the manner of its operation; it works suddenly; strikes like a dart through the hearts and consciences of men, Acts 2:37. A wonderful change is made in a short time: And, as it works quickly and suddenly, so it works irresistibly, with an uncontrolled power upon the spirits of men, 1 Thessalonians 1:5. Romans 1:16. Let the soul be armed against conviction with the thickest ignorance, strongest prejudice, or most obstinate resolution, the word of God will wound the breast even of such a man, when God sends it forth in his authority and power.

THIRDLY, The wonderful power of the law or word of God is evidently seen in the strange effects which are produced by it in the hearts and lives of men. For,

FIRST, It changes and alters the frame and temper of the mind: It molds a man into a quite contrary temper, Galatians 1:23. "He which persecuted us in times past, now preaches the faith, which once he destroyed:" Thus a tyger is transformed into a lamb, by the power of the word of God.

SECONDLY, It makes the soul, upon which it works, to forego and quit the dearest interests it has in this world for Jesus Christ, Philippians 3:7, 8, 9. Riches, honors, self-righteousness, dearest relations, are denied and forsaken. Reproach, poverty, and death itself, are willingly embraced for Christ's sake, when once the efficacy of the word has been upon the hearts of men, 1 Thessalonians 1:6. Those that were their companions in sin, are declined, renounced, and cast off with abhorrence, 1 Peter 4:3, 4. In such things as these the mighty power of the word discovers itself.

SECONDLY, Next, let us see wherein the efficacy of the word upon the souls of men principally consists: and we find in scripture it exerteth its power in five distinct acts upon the soul; by all which it strikes at the life, and kills the very heart of vain hopes. For,

FIRST, It has an awakening efficacy upon secure and sleepy sinners: It rouses the conscience, and brings a man to a sense and feeling apprehension, Ephesians 5:13, 14. The first effectual touch of the word startles the drowsy conscience. A poor sinner lies in his sins, as Peter did in his chains, fast asleep, though a warrant was signed for his execution the next day: but the Spirit in the word awakens him as the angel did Peter: And this awakening power of the word is in order, both of time and nature, antecedent to all its operations and effects.

SECONDLY, The law of God has an enlightening efficacy upon the minds of men: It is eye-salve to the blinded eye, Revelation 3:18. A light shining in a dark place, 2 Peter 1:19. A light shining into the very heart of man, 2 Corinthians 4:6. When the word comes in power, all things appear with another face: The sins that were hidden from our eyes, and the danger which was concealed by the policy of Satan from our souls, now lie clear and open before us, Ephesians 5:8.

THIRDLY, The word of God has a convincing efficacy: It sets sin in order before the soul, Psalm 50:21. As an army is drawn up in an exact order, so are the sins of nature and practice, the sins of youth and age, even a great and terrible army is drawn up before the eye of the conscience; the convictions of the word are clear and full, 1 Corinthians 14:24, 25. The very secrets of a sinner's heart are made manifest; his mouth is stopped; his pleas are silenced; his conscience yields to the charge of guilt, and to the equity of the sentence of the law, so that the soul stands mute, and self-condemned at the bar of conscience: It has got nothing to say why the wrath of God should not come upon it to the uttermost, Romans 3:19.

FOURTHLY, The law of God has a soul-wounding, an heart-cutting efficacy: It pierces into the very soul and spirit of man, Acts 2:37. "When they heard this, they were pricked at their hearts, and said unto Peter, and to the rest of the apostles; men and brethren, what shall we do?" A dreadful sound is in the sinner's ears; his soul is in deep distress; he knows not which way to turn for ease; no plaster but the blood of Christ can heal these wounds which the word makes: No outward trouble, affliction, disgrace, or loss, ever touched the quick as the word of God does.

FIFTHLY, The word has a heart-turning, a soul converting efficacy in it: It is a regenerating, as well as a convincing word, 1 Peter 1:23. 1 Thessalonians 1:9. The law wounds, the gospel cures; the law discovers the evil that is in sin, and the misery that follows it; and the Spirit of God, working in fellowship with the word, effectually turns the heart from sin. And thus we see in what glorious acts the efficacy of the word discovers itself upon the hearts of men; and all these acts lie in order to each other: For, until the soul be awakened, it cannot be enlightened, Ephesians 5:14. Until it be enlightened, it cannot be convinced, Ephesians 5:13. Conviction being nothing else but the application of the light that shines in the mind to the conscience of a sinner: Until it be convinced, it cannot be wounded for sin, Acts 2:37. And until it be wounded for sin, it will never be converted from sin, and brought effectually to Jesus Christ. And thus you see what the power of the word is.

THIRDLY, In the last place, it will concern us to inquire whence the word of God has all this power? And it is most certain, that it is not a power inherent in itself, nor derived from the instrument by which it is managed, but from the Spirit of the Lord, who communicates to it all that power and efficacy which it has upon our souls.

1. Its power is not in, or from itself: It works not in a physical way, as natural agents do; for then the effect would always follow, except it were miraculously hindered: But this spiritual efficacy is in the word, as the healing virtue was in the waters of Bethesda, John 5:4. "An angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: Whoever then first, after the troubling of the water, stepped in, was made whole of whatever disease he had". It is not a power naturally inherent in it at all times, but communicated to it at some special seasons. How often is the word preached, and no man awaked or convinced by it!

2. The power of the word is not communicated to it by the instrument that manages it, 1 Corinthians 3:7. "Neither is he that plants anything, neither he who waters." Ministers are nothing to such an effect and purpose as this is; he does not mean that they are useless and altogether unnecessary, but insufficient of themselves to produce such mighty effects: It works not as it is the word of man, 2 Thessalonians 2:13. Ministers may say of the ordinary, as Peter said of the extraordinary effects of the Spirit, Acts 3:12. "You men of Israel, why marvel you at this? or why look you so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?" If the effects of the word were in the power, and at the command of him that preaches it, then the blood of all the souls that perish under our ministry must lie at our door, as was formerly noted.

3. If you say, whence then has the word all this power? Our answer is, It derives it all from the Spirit of God, 1 Thessalonians 2:13. "For this cause thank we God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of man, but (as it is in truth) the word of God, which effectually works also in you that believe." It is a successful instrument only when it is in the hand of the Spirit, without whose influence it never did, nor can convince, convert, or save any soul. Now, the Spirit of God has a sovereignty over three things in order to the conversion of sinners.

1. Over the word which works.

2. Over the soul wrought upon.

3. Over the time and season of working.

FIRST, The Spirit has a glorious sovereignty over the word itself whose instrument it is to make it successful or not, as it pleases him, Isaiah 55:10, 11. "For as the rain comes down, and the snow from Heaven, etc. so shall my word be that goes out of my mouth:" as the clouds, so the word is carried and directed by divine pleasure. It is the Lord that makes them both give down their blessings, or to pass away fruitless and empty: yes, it is from the Spirit that this part of the word works, and not another. Those things upon which ministers bestow greatest labor in their preparation, and from which accordingly they have the greatest expectation; these do nothing, when, mean time, something that dropped occasionally from them, like a chosen shaft, strikes the mark and does the work.

SECONDLY, The Spirit of the Lord has a glorious sovereignty over the souls wrought upon: it is his peculiar work "to take away the stony heart out of our flesh, and to give us an heart of flesh," Ezekiel 36:26. We may reason, exhort, and reprove, but nothing will abide until the Lord set it home. The Lord opened the heart of Lydia under Paul's ministry: he opens every heart that is effectually opened to receive Christ in the word: if the word can get no entrance, if your hearts remain dead under it still, we may say concerning such souls, as Martha did concerning her brother Lazarus; "Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died." So, Lord, if you had been in this sermon, in this prayer, or in that counsel, these souls had not remained dead under them.

THIRDLY, The Spirit has dominion over the times and seasons of conviction and conversion. Therefore the day in which souls are wrought upon is called "the day of his power," Psalm 110:3. That shall work at one time, which had no efficacy at all at another time; because this, and not that, was the time appointed. And thus you see whence the word derives that mighty power it has.

Now this word of God, when it is set home by the Spirit, is mighty to convince, humble, and break the hearts of sinners, John 16:9. "The Spirit when it comes shall convince the world of sin." The word signifies conviction by such clear demonstration as compels assent: it not only convinces men in general that they are sinners, but it convinces men particularly of their own sins, and the aggravations of them. So in the text, Sin revived, that is, the Lord revived his sins, the very circumstances and aggravations with which they were committed and so it will be with us when the commandment comes; sins that we had forgotten, committed so far back as our youth or childhood; sins that lay slighted in our consciences, shall now be roused up as so many sleepy lions to affright and terrify us: for now the soul hears the voice of God in the word, as Adam heard it in the cool of the day and was afraid, and hides itself; but all will not do, for the Lord is come in the word; sin is held up before the eyes of the conscience in its dreadful aggravations and fearful consequences, as committed against the holy law, clear light, warnings of conscience, manifold mercies, God's long-suffering, Christ's precious blood, many warnings of judgment, the wages and demerit whereof, by the verdict of a man's own conscience, is death, eternal death, Romans 6:23. Romans 1:32. Romans 2:9. Thus the commandment comes, sin revives, and vain hope gives up the Spirit.


Inference 1. Is there such a mighty power in the word? then certainly the word is of divine authority. There cannot be a more clear and satisfying proof that it is no human invention, than the common sense that all believers have of the Almighty power in which it works upon their hearts. So speaks the apostle, 1 Thessalonians 2:13. "When you received the word of God which you heard of us, you received it not as the word of man, but (as it is in truth) the word of God, which effectually works also in you that believe." Can the power of any creature, the word of a mere man, so convince the conscience, so terrify the heart, so discover the very secret thoughts of the soul, as to put a man into such tremblings? No, a greater than man must needs be here; none but a God can so open the eyes of the blind, so open the graves of the dead, so quicken and enliven the conscience that was seared, so bind over the soul of a sinner to the judgment to come, so change and alter the frame and temper of a man's spirit, or so powerfully raise, refresh and comfort a drooping dying soul; certainly the power of God is in all this; and, if there were no more, yet this alone were sufficient to make full proof of the divine authority of the scriptures.

Inference 2. Judge from hence what an invaluable mercy the preaching of the word is to the world: It is a blessing far above our estimation of it; little do we know what a treasure God commits to us in the ordinances, Acts 13:25. "To you is the word of this salvation sent." It is the very power of God to salvation, Romans 1:16. And salvation is ordinarily denied to whom the preaching of the word is denied, Romans 10:14. It is called the word of life, Philippians 2:16. and deserves to be valued by every one of us as our life. The eternal decree of God's election is executed by it upon our souls; as many as he ordained to eternal life shall believe by the preaching of it. Great is the ingratitude of this generation, which so slights and undervalues this invaluable treasure; which is a sad presage of the most terrible judgment, even in the removing our candlestick out of its place, except we repent.

Inference 3. How sore and terrible a judgment lies upon the souls of those men to whom no word of God is made powerful enough to convince and awaken them! Yet so stands the case with thousands, who constantly sit under the preaching of the word; many arrows are shot at their consciences, but none goes home to the mark, all fall short of the end; the commandment has come unto them many thousand times, by way of promulgation and ministerial inculcation, but yet never came home to their souls by the Spirit's effectual application. O friends! you have often heard the voice of man, but you never yet heard the voice of God; your understandings have been instructed, but your consciences to this day were never thoroughly convinced. "We have mourned unto you, but you have not lamented," Matthew 11:17. "Who has believed our report? And unto whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" Alas! we have labored in vain, we have spent our strength for nothing; our word returns unto us empty; but O what a stupendous judgment is here! Hebrews 6:7, 8. "The earth which drinks in the rain that comes oft upon it, and brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receives blessing from God; but that which bears thorns and briars is rejected, and is near unto cursing, whose end is to be burned." What a sore judgment and sign of God's displeasure would you account it, if your fields were cursed; if you should manure, dress, plow, and sow them, but never reap the fruit of your labor; the increase being still blasted? And yet this were nothing, compared with the blasting of the word to your souls: that which is a savor of life unto life unto some, becomes the savor of death unto death to others, 2 Corinthians 2:16. The Lord affect our hearts with the terrible strokes of God upon the souls of men!


USE of Exhortation

I shall conclude this point with a few words of exhortation to three sorts of men, namely,

1. To those that never felt the power of the word.

2. To those that have only felt some slight and common effects thereof.

3. To those unto whose very hearts the commandment is come, in its effectual and saving power.

FIRST, You that never felt any power in the word at all, I beg you in the name of him that made you, and by all the regard and value you have for those precious souls within you, that now at last such considerations as these may find place in your souls, and that you will bethink yourselves.



Consideration 1

Whose word is that which cannot gain entrance into your hearts? Is it not the word of God which you despise and slight? "You casts my word behind your back," Psalm 50:17. O what an affront and provocation to God is this! You despise not man, but God; the great and terrible God, in whose hand your breath and soul are: This contempt runs higher than you imagine.

Consideration 2

Consider, that however the word has no power upon you, the commandment cannot come home to your hearts; yet it does work, and comes home with power to the hearts of others: While you are hardened, others are melted under it; while you sleep, others tremble; while your hearts are fast locked up, others are opened. How can you choose but reflect with fear and trembling upon these contrary effects of the word; especially when you consider that the eternal decrees, both of election and reprobation, are now executed upon the souls of men, by the preaching of the word; some believe, and others are hardened.

Consideration 3

That no judgment of God, on this side Hell, is greater than a hard heart and stupid conscience under the word; it were much better that the providence of God should blast your estate, take away your children, or destroy your health, than harden your heart, and sear your conscience under the word: So much as your soul is better than your body, so much as eternity is more valuable than time, so much is this spiritual judgment more dreadful than all temporal ones. God does not inflict a more terrible stroke than this upon any man in this world.

O therefore, as you love your own souls, and are reluctant to ruin them to all eternity, attend upon every opportunity that God affords you; for you know not in which of them the Lord may work upon your hearts. Lay aside your prejudices against the word or the weaknesses and infirmities of them that preach it; for the word works not as it is the word of man, as it is thus neat and elegant, but as it is the word of God. Pray for the blessing of God upon the word; for except his word of blessing go forth with it, it can never come home to your soul. Meditate upon what you hear; for, without meditation, it is not like to have any effectual operation upon you. Search your souls by it, and consider whether that be not your very case and state which it describes; your very danger whereof it gives warning. Take heed, lest after you have heard it, the cares of the world choke what you have heard, and cause those budding convictions which begin to put forth, to blast and wither. Carefully attend to all those items and memorandums your consciences give you under the word, and conclude that the Lord is then come near unto you.

SECONDLY, Let this be matter of serious consideration and caution to all such as have only felt some slight, transient, and ineffectual operations of the gospel upon their souls: The Lord has come near to some of our souls; we have felt a strange power in the ordinances, sometimes terrifying, and sometimes transporting our hearts; but, alas! it proves but a morning-dew, or an early cloud, Hosea 6:4. We rejoice in the word, but it is but for a season, John 3:25. Galatians 4:14, 15. They are vanishing motions, and come to nothing. Look, as in nature there are many abortives, as well as perfect children, so it is in religion; yes, where the new creature is perfectly formed in one soul, there be many abortives and miscarriages in others; and there may be three reasons assigned for it, namely,

FIRST, The subtlety and deep policy of Satan, who never more effectually deceives and destroys the souls of men, than in such a method, and by such an artifice as this; for when men have once felt their consciences terrified under the word, and their hearts at other times ravished with the joys and comforts of it, they now seem to have attained alt that is necessary to conversion, and constitutive of the new creature; these things look so well like the regenerating effects of the Spirit, that many are easily deceived by them. The devil beguiles the hearts of the unwary by such false appearances: for it is not every man that can distinguish between the natural and spiritual motions of the affections under the word: It is very frequently seen that even carnal and unrenewed hearts have their meltings and transports, as well as spiritual hearts. The subject-matter upon which the word treats, are the weighty things of the world to come; Heaven and Hell are very awful and affecting things, and an unrenewed heart is apt to thaw and melt at them: Now here is the cheat of Satan, to persuade a man that these must needs be spiritual affections, because the objects about which they are conversant are spiritual; whereas it is certain the objects of the affections may be very spiritual and heavenly, and yet the workings of man's affections about them may be in a mere natural way.

SECONDLY, The dampening efficacy of the world is a true and proper cause of these abortions and miscarriages under the word, Luke 8:12, 13, 14. There are hopeful and promising beginnings and buddings of affections in some persons, especially in their youth; but when once they come to be engaged in the world, how soon are they damped and quenched! As the cares of a family grow on, so does the care of salvation wear off. It is not as it was accustomed to be, What shall I do to be saved? How shall I get interest in Christ? But what shall I eat, and drink, and with which shall I, and mine, be maintained? Thus earth justles out Heaven, and the present world drowns all thoughts of that to come. Good had it been for many men, they had never been engaged so deep in the world as they are; their life is but a constant hurry of business, and a perpetual diversion from Christ, and things that are eternal.

THIRDLY, and lastly, The deceitfulness and treachery of the heart, which too easily gives way to the designs of Satan, suffers itself to be imposed upon by him, is not the least cause why so many hopeful beginnings come to nothing, and the effects of the word vanish. Pride and self-love are very apt to over-rule every little good, and slight or undervalue every ill that is in us; and so quickly choke those convictions that begin to work in our souls.

But oh! that such men would consider, that the dying away of their convictions is that which threatens the life of their souls for ever; now is the bud withered, the blossom blasted: and what expectation is there of fruit after this, except the Lord revive them again? The Lord open men's eyes to discern the danger of such things as these are! Jude 12. Hebrews 10:38. Yet I deny not but there are many stands and pauses in the work of conversion; it seems to die away, and then revives again; and revive it must, or we are lost. But how many are there who never recover it more! This is a sore judgment of a most terrible consequence to the souls of men!

THIRDLY, In the last place, let it be a word of counsel and advice to them, upon whom the word works effectually and powerfully; to whose hearts the commandment is come home to revive sin, and kill their vain hopes; and these are of two sorts.

1. Embryos under the first workings of the Spirit.

2. Complete births of the Spirit, regenerated souls.

FIRST, Embryos that are under the first workings of the Spirit in the word. O let it not seem a misery, or unhappiness to you, that the commandment is come, and sin revived, and your former hopes overthrown. It must be thus, if ever God intend mercy for you. Had you gone on in that dangerous security you were in before, you had certainly been lost forever: God has stopped you in that path that leads down to Hell, and none that go in there do ever return again, or take hold of the paths of life. O! it is better to weep, tremble, and be distressed now, than to mourn without hope for ever. Let it not trouble you that sin has found you out; you could never have found out the remedy in Christ, if you had not found out the disease and danger, by the coming of the commandment. And I beseech you carefully to observe, whether the effects and operations of the word upon your hearts be deeper and more powerful than they are found to be in such souls as miscarry under it: the commandment comes to them, and shows them this or that more gross and startling sin. Does it come to you, and show you not only this or that particular sin, but all the evils of your heart and life; the corruption of your natures, as well as the transgressions of your lives? If so, it promises well, and looks hopefully and comfortably to you. The commandment comes to others, and startles them with the fears of damnation for their sin: it puts them into a grievous fright at Hell, and the everlasting burnings: but does it come to you and discover the infinite evil that is in your sin, as it is committed against the great, holy, righteous, and good God, and so melts your heart into tears for the wrong that you have done him, as well as the danger into which you have brought yourself? This is a hopeful work, and may encourage you. It comes to others, and greatly shakes, but never destroys and razes the foundation of their vain hopes: if it so revive sin as to kill all vain hopes in you, and send you to Christ alone, as your only door of hope, fear not; these troubles will prove the greatest mercies that ever befell you in this world, if thus they work, and continue to work upon your soul.

SECONDLY, Others there are upon whom the word has had its full effect as to conversion. O bless God forever for this mercy; you cannot sufficiently value it! God has not only made it a convincing and wounding, but a converting and healing word to your souls; he has not only revived your sins, and killed your vain hopes, but begotten you again to a lively hope; see that you be thankful for this mercy. How many have sate under the same word, but never felt such effects of it? As Christ said in another case, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah, but unto none of them was the prophet sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, to a certain widow there, Luke 4:26. So I may say, in this case, there were many souls in the same congregation, at the same time, but unto none of them was the word sent with a commission to convince and save, but such a one as yourself; one as improbable to be wrought upon as any soul there. O let this beget thankfulness in your souls; and let it make you love the word as long as you live: "I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have quickened me," Psalm 119:93.

But above all, I beseech you make it appear that the commandment has come home to your hearts, with power to convince you of the evil of sin, by your tenderness and care to shun it as long as you live. If ever you have seen the face of sin, in the glass of the law of God; if your hearts have been humbled and broken for it in the days of your trouble and distress, certainly you will choose the worst affliction rather than sin: It would be the greatest folly in the world to return again to iniquity, Psalm 85:8. You that have seen so much of the evil that is in it, and the danger that follows it; you that have had such inward terrors and fears of spirit about it, when that terrible representation was made you, will be reluctant to feel those gripes and distresses of conscience again, for the best enjoyment in this world.

Blessed be God if any word has been brought home to our hearts, which has been instrumental to bring us to Christ!




The Teachings of God opened, in their Nature and Necessity

JOHN 6:45, It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes unto me."

HOW necessary to our union with Jesus Christ, the application of the law, or coming home of the commandment to the heart of a sinner is, we have heard in the last discourse; and how impossible it is, either for the commandment to come to us, or for us to come to Christ without illumination and instruction from above, you shall hear in this.

This scripture has much of the mind of God in it; and he who is to open it, had need himself to be taught of God. In the foregoing verses, Christ offers himself as the bread of life unto the souls of men: against this doctrine they oppose their carnal reason, verse 41, 42. Christ strikes at the root of all their cavils and objections in his reply, verse 43, 44. "Murmur not among yourselves: no man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him;" q. d. you slight me because you do not know me; you do not know me because you are not taught of God; of these divine teachings, the prophets of old have spoken, and what they foretold is at this day fulfilled in our sight; so many as are taught of God, and no more, come unto me in the way of faith: it is impossible to come without the teachings of God, verse 44. It is as impossible not to come, or to miscarry in their coming unto me, under the influence of these divine teachings, verse 45.

The words read, consist of two parts, namely,

1. An allegation out of the prophets.

2. The application thereof made by Christ.

FIRST, An allegation out of the prophets: "It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God." The places in the prophets to which Christ seems here to refer, are, Isaiah 54:13. "And all your children shall be taught of the Lord;" and, Jeremiah 31:34. "And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, says the Lord." These promises contain the great blessings of the new covenant, namely, Divine instruction and heavenly illumination, without which no man can obtain a saving interest in the new covenant.

SECONDLY, We have here the application of these testimonies out of the prophets, made by Christ himself; "Every man therefore that has heard, and learned of the Father, come unto me."

In which words we have both the necessity and the efficacy of these divine teachings; without them no man can come, and under them no man can miscarry. The words being fitly rendered, and the sense obvious,

The notes are,

DOCTRINE: 1. That the teachings of God are absolutely necessary to every man that comes unto Christ, in the way of faith.

DOCTRINE: 2. No man can miss of Christ, or miscarry in the way of faith, that is under the special instructions and teachings of the Father.

DOCTRINE: 1. That the teachings of God are absolutely necessary to every man that comes unto Christ, in the way of faith.

Of the necessity of divine teaching, in order to believing, the apostle speaks, in Ephesians 4:20, 21. "But you have not so learned Christ; if so be that you have heard him, and been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus;" that is Your faith must needs be effectual, both to the reformation of your lives, and your perseverance in the ways of holiness, if it be such a faith as is begotten and introduced into your hearts by divine teachings. Now, in the explication of this point, I shall speak distinctly to the following inquiries.

1. How does God teach men, or what is imported in our being taught of God?

2. What those special lessons are, which all believers do hear, and are taught of God?

3. In what manner does God teach these things to men in the day of their conversion to Christ?

4. What influence God's teaching has upon our believing?

5. Why it is impossible for any man to believe, or come to Christ without the Father's teachings.

FIRST, How does God teach men, or what is imported in our being taught of God? To this I will speak both negatively and positively, for your clearer apprehension of the sense and meaning of the Spirit of God in this phrase.

FIRST, The teaching of God, and our hearing and learning of him, is not to be understood of any extraordinary visional appearances, or oraculous and immediate voice of God to men: God indeed has so appeared unto some, Numbers 12:8. Such voices have been heard from Heaven, but now these extraordinary ways are ceased, Hebrews 1:1, 2. and we are no more to expect them; we may sooner meet with satanical delusions than divine illuminations in this way. I remember, the learned Gerson tells us that the devil once appeared to a holy man in prayer, personating Christ, and saying, I am come in person to visit you, for you are worthy. But he with both hands shut his eyes, saying, Nolo hic Christum videre, satis est ipsum in Gloria videre; that is I will not see Christ here; it is enough for me to see him in glory. We are now to attend only to the voice of the Spirit in the scriptures: this is a more sure word than any voice from Heaven, 2 Peter 1:19.

SECONDLY, The teachings of God are not to be understood as opposite unto, or exclusive of the teachings of men. Divine teachings do not render ministerial teachings in vain or useless. Paul was taught of God, Galatians 1:12. and his conversion had something extraordinary in it, yet the ministry of Ananias was used and honored in that work, Acts 9:4, 17. compared. Divine teachings do indeed excel, but not exclude human teachings. I know that scripture, Jeremiah 31:24. to which Christ here refers, is objected against the necessity of a standing ministry in the church, "They shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother," etc. But if those words should be understood absolutely, they would not only overthrow all public ordinances of God's own institution, 1 Corinthians 12:28. and deprive us of a principal fruit of Christ's ascension, Ephesians 4:11, 12. but, for the same reason, would destroy all private instructions and fraternal admonitions also. Such a sense would make the prophet to contradict the apostle, and spoil the consent and harmony of the scriptures: the sense thereof cannot be negative, but comparative; it shows the excellency of divine, but does not destroy the usefulness of human teachings; Subordinata non pugnant. The teachings of men are made effectual by the teachings of the Spirit; and the Spirit in his teachings will use and honor the ministry of man.

THIRDLY, But to speak positively, the teachings of God are nothing else but that spiritual and heavenly light, by which the Spirit of God shines into the hearts of men, to give them "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," as the apostle speaks, 2 Corinthians 4:6. And though this be the proper work of the Spirit, yet it is called the teachings of the Father, because the Spirit who enlightens us is commissioned and sent by the Father so to do, John 14:26. Now these teachings of the Spirit of God, consist in two things, namely, in his,

1. Sanctifying impressions.

2. Gracious assistances.

FIRST, In his sanctifying impressions or regenerating work upon the soul, by virtue whereof it receives marvelous light and insight into spiritual things; and that not only as illumination is the first act of the Spirit in our conversion, Colossians 3:10. but as his whole work of sanctification is illuminative and instructive to the converted soul, 1 John 2:27. "The anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teaches you." The meaning is that sanctification gives the soul experience of those mysterious things which are contained in the scriptures, and that experience is the most excellent key to unlock and open those deep scripture-mysteries; no knowledge is so distinct, so clear, so sweet, as that which the heart communicates to the head, John 7:17. "If any man do his will, he shall know of the doctrine." A man that never read the nature of love in books of philosophy, nor the transports and ectasies thereof in history, may yet truly describe and express it by the sensible motions of that passion in his own soul; yes, he who has felt, much better understands, than he who has only read or heard. O what a light does spiritual sense and experience cast upon a great part of the scriptures! for indeed sanctification is the very copy or transcript of the word of God upon the heart of man; Jeremiah 31:33. "I will write my law in their hearts:" so that the scriptures and the experiences of believers, by this means answer to each other, as the lines and letters in the press answer to the impressions made upon the paper; or the figures in the wax, to the engravings in the seal. When a sanctified man reads David's psalms, or Paul's epistles, how is he surprised with wonder to find the very workings of his own heart so exactly decyphered and fully expressed there! O, says he, this is my very case, these holy men speak what my heart has felt.

SECONDLY, The Spirit of God teaches us, as by his sanctifying impressions, so by his gracious assistances, which he gives us pro re nata, as our need requires, Matthew 10:19. It shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak, John 14:26. He shall bring all things to your remembrance: he assists both the understanding in due apprehensions of truth, and the heart in the spiritual improvements of truth. And so much briefly of the first particular.

SECONDLY, In the next place we are to inquire what those special truths are which believers hear and learn of the Father, when they come to Christ.

And there are divers great and necessary truths, wherein the Spirit enlightens men in that day. I cannot say they are all taught every believer in the same degree and order; but it is certain they are taught of God such lessons as these are, which they never so understood before.


Lesson 1. They are taught of God that there is abundantly more evil in their sinful natures and actions, than ever they discerned or understood before: "the Spirit when he comes shall convince the world of sin," John 16:8, 9. Men had a general notion of sin before; so had Paul, when a Pharisee: but how vastly different were his apprehensions of sin, from all that ever he had in his natural state, when God brought home the commandment to his very heart? There is a threefold knowledge of sin, namely, traditional, discursive, and intuitive. The first is the more rude and illiterate multitude. The second is more rational and knowing men. The third is only found in those that are enlightened and taught of God. And there is as great a difference between this intuitive knowledge of sin, whereby God makes a soul to discern the nature and evil of it in a spiritual light, and the two former, as there is between the sight of painted lion upon the wall, and the sight of a living lion that meets us roaring in the way. The intuitive sight of sin is another thing than men imagine it to be: it is such a sight as wounds a man to the very heart, Acts 2:37. for God does not only show a man this or that particular sin, but in the day of conviction, he sets all his sins in order before him, Psalm 50:21. yes, the Lord shows him the sinfulness of his nature as well as practice. Conviction digs to the root, shows and lays open that original corruption, from whence the innumerable evils of the life do spring, James 1:14, 15. and which is yet more, the Lord shows the man whom he is bringing to Christ the sinful and miserable estate which he is in by reason of both, John 16:9. And now all excuses, pleas and defences of sin are gone, he shows him "how their iniquities have exceeded," Job 36:8, 9. exceeded in number, and in aggravations of sinfulness; exceeding many, and exceeding vile; no such sinner in the world as I; can such sins as mine be pardoned? The greatness of God greatens my sin; the holiness of God makes it beyond measure vile; the goodness of God puts inconceivable weight into my guilt. O, can there be mercy for such a wretch as I! If there be, then there will not be a greater example of the riches of free grace in all the world than I am. Thus God teaches the evil of sin.

Lesson 2. God teaches the soul whom he is bringing to Christ, what that wrath and misery are which hang over it in the threatenings because of sin. Scripture-threatenings were formerly slighted, now the soul trembles at them: They once apprehended themselves safe enough, Isaiah 28:15. Psalm 50:21. They thought, because they heard no more of their sins after the commission of them, that therefore they should never hear more; that the effect had been as transient a thing as the act of sin was; or if trouble must follow sin, they should speed no worse than others, the generality of the world being in the same case; and besides, they hoped to find God more merciful than sour and precise preachers represented him. But when a light from God enters into the soul, to discover the nature of God, and of sin, then it sees that whatever wrath is treasured up for sinners in the dreadful threatenings of the law, is but the just demerit of sin, the recompense that is meet: "The wages of sin is death," Romans 6:23. The penal evil of damnation is but equal to the moral evil of sin: So that in the whole ocean of God's eternal wrath, there is not one drop of injustice; yes, the soul does not only see the justice of God in its eternal damnation, but the wonderful mercy of God in the suspension thereof so long. O, what is it that has withheld God from damning me all this while! How is it that I am not in Hell! Now do the fears and awful apprehensions of eternity seize the soul, and the worst of sensitive creatures is supposed to be in a better condition than such a soul. Never do men tremble at the threatenings of God, nor rightly apprehend the danger of their condition, until sin, and wrath, and the wages of sin be discovered to them by a light from Heaven.

Lesson 3. God teaches the soul whom he brings to Christ that deliverance from sin, and wrath to come, is the greatest and most important business it has to do in this world. Acts 16:30. "What must I do to be saved?" q. d. O direct me to some effectual way (if there be any) to secure my poor wretched soul from the wrath of God. Sin, and the wrath that follows it, are things that swallow up the souls, and drink up the very spirits of men: Their thoughts never conversed with things of more confessed truth and awful solemnity: These things float not upon their fancies as matters of mere speculation, but settle upon their hearts day and night, as the deepest concernment in all the world: They now know much better than any mere scholar, the deep sense of that text, Matthew 16:26. "What is a man profited, if he should gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"

Five things show how weighty the thoughts and cares of salvation are upon their hearts.

FIRST, Their continual thoughtfulness and solicitude about these things: if earthly affairs divert them for a while, yet they are still returning again to this solemn business.

SECONDLY, Their careful redeeming of time, and saving the very moments thereof to employ about this work: Those that were prodigal of hours and days before, look upon every moment of time as a precious and valuable thing now.

THIRDLY, Their fears and tremblings lest they should miscarry, and come short at last, show how much their hearts are set upon this work.

FOURTHLY, Their inquisitiveness and readiness to embrace all the help and assistance that they can get from others, evidently discover this to be their great design.

FIFTHLY, and lastly, The little notice they take of all other troubles and afflictions, tells you their hearts are taken up about greater things. This is the third lesson they are taught of God.

Lesson 4. The Lord teaches the soul that is coming to Christ, that though it be their duty to strive to the uttermost for salvation; yet all strivings, in their own strength, are insufficient to obtain it. This work is quite above the power of nature: "It is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs, but of God that shows mercy." The soul is brought to a full conviction of this, by the discovery of the heinous nature of sin, and of the rigor and severity of the law of God. No repentance nor reformation can possibly amount unto a just satisfaction, nor are they within the compass and power of our will. It was a saying that Dr. Hill often used to his friends, speaking about the power of man's will; he would lay his hand upon his breast, and say, "Every man has something here to confute the Arminian doctrine." This fully takes off the soul from all expectations of deliverance that way; it cannot but strive, that is its duty; but to expect deliverance, as the purchase of its own strivings, that would be its sin.

Lesson 5. The soul that is coming to Christ by faith, is taught of God, that though the case it is in be sad, yet it is not desperate and remediless: There is a door of hope, a way of escape for poor sinners, how black and fearful soever their own thoughts and apprehensions are; there is usually at this time a dawning light of hope in the soul that is under the Father's teachings; and this commonly arises from the general and indefinite encouragements and promises of the gospel, which, though they do not presently secure the soul from danger, yet they prop and mightily support it against despair: For though they be not certain that deliverance shall be the event of their trouble; yet the possibilities, and much more the probabilities of deliverance are a great stay to a sinking soul. The troubled soul cannot but acknowledge itself to be in a far better case than the damned are, whose hopes are perished from the Lord, and a death-pang of despair has seized their consciences. And herein the merciful and compassionate nature of God is eminently discovered, in hastening to open the door of hope, almost as soon as the evil of sin is opened. It was not long after Adam's eyes were opened to see his misery, that God opened Christ, his remedy, in that first promise, Genesis 3:15. And the same method of grace is still continued to his elect offspring, Galatians 3:21, 22. Romans 3:21, 22. These supporting hopes the Lord sees necessary to encourage industry in the use of means; it is hope that sets all the world awork; if all hope were cut off, every soul would sit down in a sullen despair, yielding itself for Hell.

Lesson 6. The Lord teaches those that come to Christ, that there is a fullness of saving power hi him, whereby any soul that duly receives him, may be perfectly delivered from all its sin and misery, Hebrews 7:25. Colossians 1:19. Matthew 28:18. This is a great and necessary point for every believer to learn and hear from the Father; for unless the soul be satisfied of the fullness of Christ's saving power, it will never move forward towards him; and herein also the goodness of God is most sweetly and seasonably manifested; for, at this time, it is the great design of Satan to fill the soul with despairing thoughts of a pardon; but all those black and heart-sinking thoughts vanish before the discovery of Christ's all-sufficiency. Now the sin-sick soul says with that woman, Matthew 9:21. "If I may but touch the hem of his garment, I shall be healed." How deep soever the guilt and stain of sin be, yet the soul which acknowledges the infinite dignity of the blood of Christ, the offering it up to God in our room, and God's declared satisfaction in it, must needs be satisfied that Christ is able to save, to the uttermost, all that come unto God by him;" which is the sixth lesson believers are taught of God.

Lesson 7. Every man that comes to Christ is taught of God, that he can never reap any benefit by the blood of Christ, except he have union with the person of Christ, 1 John 5:12. Ephesians 4:16. Time was when men fondly thought nothing was necessary to their salvation but the death of Christ; but now the Lord shows them that their union with Christ by faith is as necessary, in the place of an applying cause, as the death of Christ is, in the place of a meritorious cause: The purchase of salvation is an act of Christ without us, while we are yet sinners; the application thereof is by a work wrought within us, when we are believers, Colossians 1:27. In the purchase all the elect are redeemed together by way of price; in the application they are actually redeemed, each person, by way of power. Look, as the sin of the first Adam could never hurt us, unless he had been our head by way of generation; so the righteousness of Christ can never benefit us, unless he be our head by way of regeneration. In teaching this lesson, the Lord, in mercy, unteaches and blots out that dangerous principle, by which the greatest part of the christianized world do perish, namely, that the death of Christ is, in itself, effectual to salvation, though a man be never regenerated or united to him by saving faith.

Lesson 8. God teaches the soul, whom he is bringing to Christ, that whatever is necessary to be wrought in us, or done by us, in order to our union with Christ, is to be obtained from him in the way of prayer, Ezekiel 36:37. And it is observable, that the soul no sooner comes under the effectual teachings of God, but the Spirit of prayer begins to breathe in it, Acts 9:8. "Behold, he prays." Those that were taught to pray by men before, are now taught of the Lord to pray: To pray did I say? yes, and to pray fervently too, as men concerned for their eternal happiness; to pray not only with others, but to pour out our souls before the Lord in secret; for their hearts are as bottles full of new wine, which must vent or break. Now the soul returns upon its God often in the same day; now it can express its burdens and wants, in words and groans which the Spirit teaches. They pray, and will not give over praying, until Christ come with complete salvation.

Lesson 9. All that come to Christ are taught of God to abandon their former ways and companions in sin, as ever they expect to be received unto mercy, Isaiah 55:7. 2 Corinthians 5:17. Sins that were profitable and pleasant, that were as the right hand, and right eye, must now be cast off. Companions in sin, who were once the delight of their lives, must now be cast off. Christ says to the soul concerning these, as he said in another case, John 18:8. "If therefore you seek me, let these go their way." And the soul says unto Christ, as it is, Psalm 119:115. "Depart from me, you evil-doers, for I will keep the commandments of my God." And now pleasant sins and companions in sin, become the very burden and shame of a man's soul. Objects of delight are become objects of pity and compassion: No endearments, no union of blood, no earthly interests whatever, are found strong enough to hold the soul any longer from Christ: Nothing but the effectual teachings of God are found sufficient to dissolve such bonds of iniquity as these.

Lesson 10. Tenthly, All that come unto Christ are taught of God, that there is such a beauty and excellency in the ways and people of God, as is not to be equaled in the whole world, Psalm 16:3. When the eyes of strangers to Christ begin to be opened, and enlightened in his knowledge, you may see what a change of judgment is wrought in them, with respect to the people of God: and towards them especially, whom God has any way made instrumental for the good of their souls, Canticles 5:9. they then call the spouse of Christ, the fairest among women. The convincing holiness of the bride then began to enamour and affect them, with a desire of nearer conjunction and communion: We will seek him with you; with you that have so charged us, that have taken so much pains for the good of our souls; now, and never before, the righteous appears more excellent than his neighbor. Change of heart is always accompanied with change of judgment, with respect to the people of God: thus the gawler, Acts 16:33. washed the apostle's stripes, to whom he had been so cruel before. The godly now seem to be the glory of the places where they live; and the glory of any place seems to be darkened by their removal; as one said of holy Mr. Barrington, "Methinks the town is not at home when Mr. Barrington is out of town." They esteem it a choice mercy to be in their company and acquaintance; Zechariah 8:23. "We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you," No people like the people of God now; as one said, when he heard of two faithful friends, Utinam tertius essem! O that I might make the third! Whatever vile or low thoughts they had of the people of God before, to be sure now they are the excellent of the earth, in whom is all their delight: The holiness of the saints might have some interest in their consciences before, but they never had such a saving interest in their estimation and affections, until this lesson was taught them by the Father.

Lesson 11. Eleventhly, All that come to Christ are taught of God, that whatever difficulties they apprehend in religion, yet they must not, upon pain of damnation, be discouraged thereby, or return again to sin, Luke 9:62. "No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Ploughing-work is hard work; a strong and steady hand is required for it: he who ploughs must keep on, and make no balks of the hardest and toughest ground he meets with. Religion also is the running of a race, 1 Corinthians 9:24. there is no standing still, much less turning back, if ever we hope to win the prize.

The devil, indeed, labors every way to discourage and daunt the soul, by representing the insuperable difficulties of religion to it; and young beginners are but too apt to be discouraged, and fall under despondency; but the teachings of the Father are encouraging teachings; they are carried on from strength to strength against all the oppositions they meet with from without them, and the many discouragements they find within them. To this conclusion they are brought by the teaching of God, We must have Christ, we must get a pardon, we must strive for salvation, let the difficulties, troubles, and sufferings in the way be never so great or many. As he said, Necesse est ut eam, non ut vivam; it is necessary that I go on, it is not necessary that I live: So says the soul that is taught of God; it is easier for me to dispense with ease, honor, relations, yes, with life itself, than to part with Christ, and the hopes of eternal life.

Lesson 12. Twelfthly, They that come to Christ, are taught of God, that whatever guilt and unworthiness they discover in themselves, and whatever fears and doubts are upon their hearts, as to pardon and acceptance; yet as the case stands, it is their wisdom and great interest to venture themselves in the way of faith, upon Jesus Christ, whatever the issue thereof be.

Three great discouragements are usually found upon the hearts of those that come to Christ in the way of faith.

FIRST, The sensible greatness of guilt and sin. How can I go to Christ that am in such a case, that have been so vile a wretch? And here measuring the grace and mercy of Christ, by what it finds in itself, or in other creatures, 1 Samuel 24:19. the soul is ready to sink under the weight of its own discouraging and misgiving thoughts.

SECONDLY, The sense they have of their own weakness and inability to do what God requires, and must of necessity be done, if ever they be saved. My heart is harder than adamant, how can I break it? My will is stubborn, and exceeding obstinate, I am no way able to bow it; the frame and temper of my spirit is altogether carnal, and earthly; and it is not in the power of my hand to alter and change it; alas! I cannot subdue any one corruption, nor perform one spiritual duty, nor bear one of those sufferings and burdens which religion lays upon all that follow Christ: this also proves a great discouragement in the way of faith.

THIRDLY, And, which is more than all, the soul that is coming to Jesus Christ, has no assurance of acceptance with him, if it should adventure itself upon him: it is a great hazard, a great adventure; it is much more probable, if I look to myself, that Christ will shut the door of mercy against me.

But under all these discouragements the soul learns this lesson from God, That, as ungodly as it is, nevertheless it is every way its great duty and concernment to go on in the way of faith, and make that great adventure of itself upon Jesus Christ: and of this the Lord convinces the soul by two things, namely,

1. From the absolute necessity of coming.

2. From the encouraging probabilities of speeding.

FIRST, The soul sees an absolute necessity of coming: necessity is laid upon it, there is no other way, Acts 4:12. God has shut it up by a blessed necessity to this only door of escape, Galatians 3:23. Damnation lies in the neglect of Christ, Hebrews 2:3. The soul has no choice in this case; angels, ministers, duties, repentance, reformation cannot save me; Christ, and none but Christ can deliver me from present guilt, and the wrath to come. Why do I dispute, demur, delay, when certain ruin must inevitably follow the neglect or refusal of gospel-offers?

SECONDLY, The Lord shows those that are under his teaching, the probabilities of mercy, for their encouragement in the way of believing. And these probabilities the soul is enabled to gather from the general and free invitations of the gospel, Isaiah 55:1, 7. Revelation 22:17. from the conditional promises of the gospel, John 6:37. Matthew 11:28. Isaiah 1:18. from the vast extent of grace, beyond all the thoughts and hopes of the creatures, Isaiah 55:8, 9. Hebrews 7:25. from the encouraging examples of other sinners, who have found mercy in as bad a condition as they, 1 Timothy 1:13. 2 Chronicles 33:3. 2 Corinthians 6:10, 11. from the command of God, which warrants the action, and answers all the objections of unworthiness and presumption in them that come to Christ, 1 John 3:23. and lastly, from the sensible changes already made upon the temper and frame of the heart. Time was, when I had no sense of sin, nor sorrow for sin; no desire after Christ, no heart to duties. But it is not so with me now; I now see the evil of sin, so as I never saw it before; my heart is now broken in the sense of that evil; my desires begin to be inflamed after Jesus Christ; I am not at rest, nor where I would be, until I am in secret mourning after the Lord Jesus; surely these are the dawnings of the day of mercy; let me go on in this way. It says, as the lepers at the siege of Samaria, 2 Kings 7:3, 4. "If I stay here, I perish:" If I go to Christ I can but perish. Hence believers bear up against all objected discouragements; it is the dictate of wisdom, the vote of reason, to exchange a certain for an uncertain ruin. And thus you have here what those excellent lessons are, which all that come to Christ are taught by the Father.




JOHN 6:45, "It is written in the Prophets, And they shall be all taught of God: Every man therefore that has heard, and has learned of the Father, comes unto me."

IN the former sermon, you have been taught this great truth;

DOCTRINE: That the teachings of God are absolutely necessary to every soul that comes unto Christ, in the way of faith.

What the teachings of God import, has been formerly opened; and what those special lessons are, which all believers hear and learn of the Father, was the last thing discoursed: that which remains to be further cleared about this subject, before I come to the application of the whole, will be to show you,

1. What are the properties of divine teachings.

2. What influence they have in bringing souls to Christ.

3. Why it is impossible for any man to come to Christ without these teachings of the Father.

FIRST, What are the properties of divine teachings? Concerning the teachings of God, we affirm in general, that, though they exclude not, yet they vastly differ from all human teachings: as the power of God in effecting transcends all human power, so the wisdom of God in teaching transcends all human wisdom. For,

1. God teaches powerfully; he speaks to the soul with a strong hand; when the word comes accompanied with the Spirit, it is "mighty through God, to cast down all imaginations," 2 Corinthians 10:4. Now the gospel "comes not in word only, (as it was accustomed to do,) but in power," 1 Thessalonians 1:4, 5. a power that makes the soul fall down before it, and acknowledge that God is in that word, 1 Corinthians 14:25.

2. The teachings of God are sweet teachings. Men never relish the sweetness of a truth, until they learn it from God, Canticles 1:3. "His name is as ointment poured forth." Canticles 5:16. "His mouth is most sweet." O how powerfully and how sweetly does the voice of God slide into the hearts of poor melting sinners! how jejune, dry, and tasteless are the discourses of men, compared with the teachings of the Father!

3. God teaches plainly and clearly: He not only opens truths to the understanding, but he opens the understanding also to perceive them, 2 Corinthians 3:16. In that day the veil is taken away from the heart; a light shines into the soul; a clear beam from Heaven is darted into the mind, Luke 24:45. Divine teachings are fully satisfying; the soul doubts no more, staggers and hesitates no more, but acquiesces in that which God teaches; it is so satisfied, that it can venture all upon the truth of what it has learned from God; as that martyr said, I cannot dispute, but I can die for Christ. See Proverbs 8:8, 9.

FOURTHLY, The teachings of God are infallible teachings. The wisest and holiest of men may mistake, and lead others into the same mistakes with themselves; but it is not so in the teachings of God. If we can be sure that God teaches us, we may be as sure of the truth of what he teaches; for his Spirit guides us into all truth, John 16:3. and into nothing but truth.

FIFTHLY, The teachings of God are abiding teachings; they make everlasting impressions upon the soul, Psalm 119:98. they are ever with it: The words of men vanish from us; but the words of God abide by us: what God teaches, he writes upon the heart, Jeremiah 31:33. and that will abide; litera scripta manet. It is usual with souls, whose understandings have been opened by the Lord, many years afterward to say, I shall never forget such a scripture that once convinced, such a promise that once encouraged me.

SIXTHLY, The teachings of God are saving teachings; they make the soul wise unto salvation, 2 Timothy 3:15. There is a great deal of other knowledge that goes to Hell with men: The pavement of Hell (as one speaks) is pitched with the skulls of many great scholars, but eternal life is the teachings of God, John 17:3. "This is the eternal life, to know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." This is deservedly stiled the light of this life, John 8:12. "In this light we shall see light," Psalm 36:9.

Seventhly, The teachings of God make their own way into the dullest and weakest capacities, Isaiah 32:4. "The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly." Upon this account Christ said, Matthew 11:25. "I thank you, O Father, Lord of Heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent, and have revealed them unto babes." It is admirable to see what clear illuminations some poor illiterate Christians have in the mysteries of Christ and salvation, which others, of great abilities, deep and searching heads, can never discover with all their learning and study.

Eighthly, To conclude, The teachings of God are transforming teachings; 2 Corinthians 3:18. they change the soul into the same image; God casts them, whom he teaches, into the very mold of those truths which they learn of him, Romans 6:17. These are the teachings of God, and thus he instructs those that come to Christ.

SECONDLY, Next let us see what influence divine teachings have upon souls, in bringing them to Christ; and we shall find a threefold influence in them.

1. They have an influence upon the external means, by which they come to Christ.

2. They have an influence upon the mind, to remove what hindered it from Christ.

3. They have an influence upon the will, to allure and draw it to Christ.

FIRST, They have an influence upon the means by which we come to Christ; the best ordinances are but a dead letter except the Spirit, the teaching and quickening Spirit of God, work in fellowship with them, 2 Corinthians 3:6. The best ministers, like the disciples, cast forth the net, but take nothing, win not one soul to God, until God teach as well as they. Paul is nothing, and Apollos nothing, but God that gives the increase, 1 Corinthians 3:7. Let the most learned, eloquent, and powerful orator be in the pulpit, yet no man's heart is persuaded until it hear the voice of God; Cathedram in cœlis habet, qui corda docet.

SECONDLY, They have influence upon the mind, to remove what hindered it from Christ. Except the minds of men be first untaught those errors, by which they are prejudiced against Christ, they will never be persuaded to come unto him; and nothing but the Father's teachings can unteach those errors, and cure those evils of the mind. The natural mind of man slights the truths of God, until God teach them; and then they tremble with an awful reverence of them. Sin is but a trifle, until God shows us the face of it in the glass of the law, and then it appears exceeding sinful, Romans 7:13. We think God to be such a one as ourselves, Psalm 50:21. until he discover himself unto us in his infinite greatness, awful holiness, and severe justice; and then we cry, who can stand before this great and dreadful God! We thought it was time enough hereafter, to mind the concernments of another world, until the Lord open our eyes, to see in what danger we stand upon the very brink of eternity; and then nothing alarms us more, than the fears that our time will be finished before the great work of salvation be finished. We thought ourselves in a converted state before, until God made us to see the necessity of another manner of conversion, upon pain of eternal damnation. We readily caught hold upon the promises before, when we had no right to them; but the teachings of God make the presumptuous sinner let go his hold, that he may take a better and surer hold of them in Christ. We once thought that the death of Christ, in itself, had been enough to secure our salvation; but, under the teachings of God, we discern plainly the necessity of a change of heart and state; or else the blood of Christ can never profit us. Thus the teachings of God remove the errors of the mind, by which men are withheld from Christ.

THIRDLY, The teachings of God powerfully attract and allure the will of a sinner to Christ, Hosea 2:14. But of these drawings of the Father I have largely spoken before, and therefore shall say no more of them in this place, but hasten to the last thing propounded, namely,

THIRDLY, Why it is impossible for any man to come to Christ without the Father's teachings; and the impossibilities hereof will appear three ways.

1. From the power of sin.

2. From the indisposition of man.

3. From the nature of faith.

By all which, the last point designed to be spoken to from this scripture, will be fully cleared, and the whole prepared for application.

FIRST, The impossibility of coming to Christ without the teachings of the Father, will appear from the power of sin, which has so strong an holdfast upon the hearts and affections of all unregenerate men, that no human arguments or persuasions whatever can divorce or separate them; for,

FIRST, Sin is connatural with the soul, it is born and bred with a man; Psalm 51:4. Isaiah 48:8. It is as natural for fallen man to sin, as it is to breathe.

SECONDLY, The power of sin has been strengthening itself from the beginning, by long continued custom, which gives it the force of a second nature, and makes regeneration and mortification naturally impossible, Jeremiah 13:23. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may he also do good that is accustomed to do evil."

THIRDLY, Sin is the delight of a sinner: "It is sport to a fool to do mischief," Proverbs 10:23. Carnal men have no other pleasure in this world, but what arises from their lusts; to cut off their corruptions by mortification, were at once to deprive them of all the pleasure of their lives.

FOURTHLY, Sin being connatural, customary, and delightful, does therefore bewitch their affections and enchant their hearts, to that degree of madness and fascination, that they rather chose damnation by God, than separation from sin: "Their hearts are fully set in them to do evil," Ecclesiastes 8:11. they rush into sin, as the "horse rushes into the battle," Jeremiah 8:6. And now, what think you can separate a man from his beloved lust, except the powerful and effectual teachings of God? Nothing but a light from Heaven can rectify and reduce the enchanted mind; no power, but that of God, can change and alter the sinful bent and inclination of the will; it is a task above all the power of the creature.

SECONDLY, The impossibility of coming to Christ, without the Father's teachings, evidently appears from the indisposedness of man, the subject of this change; "The natural man receives not the things which are of God," 1 Corinthians 2:14. Three things must be wrought upon man, before he can come to Christ: His blind understanding must be enlightened; his hard and rocky heart must be broken and melted; his stiff, fixed, and obstinate will must be conquered and subdued: but all these are effects of a supernatural power. The illumination of the mind is the peculiar work of God, 2 Corinthians 4:6. Revelation 3:17. Ephesians 5:8. The breaking and melting of the heart is the Lord's own work; it is he who gives repentance, Acts 5:31. It is the Lord that takes away the heart of stone, and gives an heart of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26. It is he who pours out the spirit of contrition upon man, Zechariah 12:10. The changing of the natural bent and inclination of the will, is the Lord's sole prerogative, Philippians 2:13. All these things are effectually done in the soul of man, when God teaches it, and never until then.

THIRDLY, The nature of faith, by which we come to Christ, plainly shows the impossibility of coming without the Father's teaching. Everything in faith is supernatural; the implantation of the habit of faith is so, Ephesians 2:8. It is not of ourselves, but the gift of God; it is not an habit acquired by industry, but infused by grace, Philippians 1:29. The light of faith, by which spiritual things are discerned, is supernatural, Hebrews 9:1, 27. It sees things that are invisible. The adventures of faith are supernatural; for "against hope, a man believes in hope, giving glory to God," Romans 4:18. By faith a man goes unto Christ, against all the dictates and discouragements of natural sense and reason. The self-denial of faith is supernatural; the cutting off the right-hand, and plucking out of right-eye sins, must needs be so, Matthew 5:29. The victories and conquests of faith do all speak it to be supernatural; it overcomes the strongest oppositions from without, Hebrews 11:33, 34. It subdues and purges the most obstinate and deep-rooted corruptions within, Acts 15:9. It overcomes all the blandishments and charming allurements of the bewitching world, 1 John 5:4. All which considered, how evident is the conclusion, that none can come to Christ without the Father's teachings? The uses follow.


FIRST use for information

Inference 1. How notoriously false and absurd is that doctrine which asserts the possibility of believing without the efficacy of supernatural grace? The desire of self-sufficiency was the ruin of Adam, and the conceit of self-sufficiency is the ruin of multitudes of his posterity. This doctrine is not only contradictory to the current stream of scripture, Philippians 2:13. 1 John 1:1–3. with many other scriptures; but it is also contradictory to the common sense and experience of believers; yet the pride of nature will strive to maintain what scripture and experience plainly contradict and overthrow.

Inference 2. Hence we may also inform ourselves, how it comes to pass that so many rational, wise and learned men miss Christ, while the simple and illiterate, even babes in natural knowledge, obtain interest in him, and salvation by him. The reason hereof is plainly given us by Christ, in Matthew 13:11. "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given." It is the dropping and dews of divine teaching upon one, and not upon another, that dries up the green tree, and makes the dry tree to flourish. Many natural men have very fine brains, searching wits, solid judgments, nimble fancies, tenacious memories; they can search out the mysteries of nature, solve the phœnomena, satisfy the inquiries of the most curious; they can measure the earth, discover the motions of the heavens; but after all take up their place in Hell, when, in the mean time, the statutes of the Lord (by the help of his teachings) make wise the simple, Psalm 19:7. It is no matter how dull and incapable the scholar be, if God undertake to be the teacher. I remember, Augustine speaks of one who was commonly reputed a fool, and yet he could not but judge him to be truly godly, and that by two signs of grace which appeared in him; one was, his seriousness when he heard any discourses of Christ; the other was, his indignation manifested against sin. It was truly said by those two Cardinals, (who, riding to the council of Constance, overheard a poor shepherd in the fields with tears bewailing his sins) Surgent indocti ct rapient cœlum; The unlearned will rise and take Heaven, while we with all our learning shall descend into Hell.

Inference 3. This also informs us of the true reason of the strange and various successes of the gospel upon the souls of men. Here we see why the ministry of one man becomes fruitful, and another's barren; yes why the labors of the same poor man prosper exceedingly at one time, and not at another; these things are according as the teachings of God do accompany our teachings. We often see a weaker and plainer discourse blessed with success, while that which is more artificial, neat and labored, comes to nothing. St. Augustine has a pretty similitude to illustrate this; Suppose, says he, two conduits, the one very plain, the other curiously carved and adorned with images of lions, eagles, etc. the water does not refresh and nourish as it comes from such a curious conduit, but as it is water. Where we find most of man, we frequently find least of God. I speak not this to encourage carelessness and laziness, but to provoke the dispensers of the gospel to more earnestness and frequent prayer for the assistance and blessing of the Spirit upon their labors, and to make men less fond of their own gifts and abilities; blear-eyed Leah may bear children, when beautiful Rachel proves barren.

Inference 4. Learn hence the transcendent excellency of saving, spiritual knowledge, above that which is merely literal and natural. One drop of knowledge taught by God, is more excellent than the whole ocean of human knowledge and acquired gifts, Philippians 3:8. John 17:3. 1 Corinthians 2:2. Let no man therefore be dejected at the want of those gifts with which unsanctifled men are adorned. If God have taught you the evil of sin, the worth of Christ, the necessity of regeneration, the mystery of faith, the way of communion with God in duties; trouble not yourself because of your ignorance in natural or moral things: you have that, reader, which will bring you to Heaven; and he is a truly wise man that knows the way of salvation, though he be ignorant and unskillful in other things: you know those things which all the learned doctors and libraries in the world could never teach you, but God has revealed them to you; others have more science, you have more savor and sweetness; bless God, and be not discouraged.

Second use for examination

If there be no coming to Christ without the teachings of the Father: then it greatly concerns us to examine our own hearts, whether ever we have been under the saving teachings of God, during the many years we have sat under the preaching of the gospel. Let not the question be mistaken; I do not ask what books you have read, what ministers you have heard, what stock of natural or speculative knowledge you have acquired; but the question is, whether ever God spoke to your hearts, and has effectually taught you such lessons, as were mentioned in our last discourse? O there is a vast difference between that notional, speculative, and traditional knowledge which man learns from men, and that spiritual, operative, and transforming knowledge which a man learns from God. If you ask how the teachings of God may be discerned from all other mere human teachings; I answer, they may be discerned, and distinguished by these six signs.

Sign 1. The teachings of God are very humbling to the soul that is taught. Human knowledge puffs up, 1 Corinthians 8:1. but the teachings of God do greatly abase the soul, Job 42:5. "I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye sees you; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes:" the same light which reveals to us the holiness, justice, greatness, and goodness of God, discovers also the vileness, baseness, emptiness, and total unworthiness of men; yes, of the best and holiest of men, Isaiah 6:5.

Sign 2. The teachings of God are deeply affecting and impressive teachings; they fully reach the heart of man, Hosea 2:14. "I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her;" or, as it is in the Hebrew, I will speak to her heart. When God shows unto man the evil of sin, he so convinces the soul, that no creature-comforts have any pleasure or sweetness in them; and when he shows unto man his righteousness, pardon, and peace in Christ, he so comforts and refreshes the heart, that no outward afflictions have any weight or bitterness in them: one drop of consolation from Heaven, sweetens a sea of trouble upon earth, Psalm 94:19. "In the multitude of my thoughts within me, your comforts delight my soul."

Sign 3. The teachings of God are sanctifying and renewing teachings; they reform and change the heart, Ephesians 4:21, 22, 23. "If so be that you have heard him, and been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus; that you put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts: and be renewed in the spirit of your mind," etc. See here what holiness and purity are the effect of divine teaching! Holiness, both external and internal, negative and positive: holiness of every kind follows the Father's teachings: all the discoveries God makes to us of himself in Christ, have an assimilating quality, and change the soul into their own likeness, 2 Corinthians 3:18.

Sign 4. All God's teachings are practical, producing obedience. Idle notions and useless speculations are not learned from God. As God's creating words, so his teaching words are with effect: as when he said, "Let there be light, and there was light:" so when he says to the soul, Be comforted, be humbled; it is effectually comforted, Isaiah 66:13. it is humbled, Job 40:4, 5. As God has in nature made no creature in vain, so he speaks no word in vain: everything which men hear, or learn from the Father, is for use, practice, and benefit to the soul.

Sign 5. All teachings of God are agreeable with the written word: The Spirit of God, and the word of God do never jar, John 14:26. "He shall take of mine, and show it unto you." When God speaks unto the heart of man, whether in a way of conviction, consolation, or instruction in duty, he always either makes use of the express words of scripture, or speaks to the heart in language every way consentaneous and agreeable to scripture: So that the written word becomes the standard to weigh and try all divine teachings, Isaiah 8:20. "To the law, and to the testimony: If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light (or morning) in them." Whatever is disagreeing or jarring with the scripture must not pass for an inspiration of God, but a deluding sophism, and insinuation of Satan.

Sign 6. The teachings of God are very satisfying teachings to the soul of man: The understanding faculty, like a dial, is enlightened with the beams of divine truth shining upon it: this no man's teachings can do: Men can only teach objectively, by propounding truth to the understanding; but they cannot enlighten the faculty itself, as God does, 1 John 5:20. He gives man understanding as well as instructions, to be understood; he opens the eyes of the understanding, as well as propounds the object, Ephesians 1:18. And thus we may discern and distinguish the teachings of God from all other teachings.


Third use of exhortation

The last use I shall make of this point, shall be a word of exhortation, both to them that never were yet effectually taught of God, and to them also that have heard his voice, and are come to Christ.

FIRST, To those that never yet heard the voice of God speaking to their hearts; and truly this is the general case of most men and women, in the professing world: They have heard the sound of the gospel, but it has been a confused, empty, and ineffectual sound in their ears; they have heard the voice of man, but have never yet heard the voice of God. The gifts and abilities of preachers have, in a notional and mere human way, improved their understandings, and sometimes slightly touched their affections: All this is but the effect of man upon man. O that you would look for something which is beyond all this: satisfy not yourselves with what is merely natural and human in ordinances; come to the word with higher ends and more spiritual designs, than to get some notions of truth which you had not before, or to judge the gifts and abilities of the speaker: If God speak not to your hearts, all the ordinances in the world can do you no good, 1 Corinthians 3:7. O remember what a solemn and awful thing it is to come to those ordinances, and attend upon that ministration, in and by which the eternal decrees of Heaven are to be executed upon your souls, which must be to you the "savor of life unto life, or of death unto death;" Wrestle with God by prayer for a blessing upon the ordinances. Say, Lord, speak yourself to my heart, let me hear "your voice, and feel your power in this prayer, or in this sermon: Others have heard your voice, cause me to hear it: It had been much better for me if I had never heard the voice of preachers, except I hear your voice in them."

SECONDLY, Let all those that have heard the voice of God, and are come to Christ in the virtue of his teachings, admire the wonderful condescension of God to them. O that God should speak to your soul, and be silent to others! There be many thousands living at this day under ordinances, to whom the Lord has not given an ear to hear, nor an heart to obey, Deuteronomy 29:4. "To you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of Heaven, but to them it is not given," Matthew 13:11. And I beseech you, walk as men and women that have been taught of God. When Satan and your corruptions tempt you to sin, and to walk in the ways of the carnal and careless world; remember then that scripture, Ephesians 4:20, 21. "But you have not so learned Christ, if so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus." To conclude, see that you be exceeding humble, and lowly in spirit. Humility qualifies you for divine teachings, Psalm 25:9. The meek he will teach; and the more you are taught of God, the more humble you will still be.

And thus you see, that no man can come to Christ without the application of the law, and the teachings of the Father; which being considered, may be very useful to convince us, (which indeed is the design of it) that among the multitudes of men and women, living under the ordinances of God, and the general profession of religion, there are but few, very few to be found, who have effectually received the Lord Jesus Christ by saving faith.

And now, reader, I suppose by this time you are desirous to know by what signs and evidences your union with Christ by faith may be cleared up, and made evident to you; and how that great question, whether you have yet effectually applied Christ to your soul or no, may be clearly decided; which brings me to the third general use of the whole, namely,

The examination of our interest in Christ, by

1. The donation of the Spirit, from 1 John 3:24.

2. The new creation, from 2 Corinthians 5:17.

3. The mortification of sin, from Galatians 5:24.

4. The imitation of Christ, from 1 John 2:6.

Of each of these trials of our interest in Christ I shall speak in their order: And, first, of the donation of the Spirit.




Of the Manner and Importance of the SPIRIT'S Indwelling

1 JOHN 3:24, "And hereby we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us."

THE apostle in this chapter is engaged in a very trying discourse; his scope is to discriminate the spirits and states of sincere believers, from merely nominal and pretended Christians; which he attempts not to do by anything that is external, but by the internal effects and operations of the Spirit of God upon their hearts. His inquiry is not into those things which men profess, or about the duties which they perform, but about the frames and tempers of their hearts, and the principles by which they are acted in religion. According to this test, he puts believers upon the search and study of their own hearts; calls them to reflect upon the effects and operations of the Spirit of God, wrought within their own souls, assuring them, that these gracious effects, and the fruits of the Spirit in their hearts, will be a solid evidence unto them of their union with Jesus Christ, amounting to much more than a general, conjectural ground of hope, under which it is possible there may lurk a dangerous and fatal mistake: But the gracious effects of the Spirit of God within them, are a foundation upon which they may build the certainty and assurance of their union with Christ: Hereby we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us. In which words we have three things to consider, namely,

1. The thing to be tried, our union with Christ.

2. The trial of it, by the giving of his Spirit to us.

3. The certainty of the trial this way: Hereby we know,

FIRST, The thing to be tried; which is indeed the greatest and weightiest matter that can be brought to trial in this world, or in that to come, namely, our union with Christ, expressed here by his abiding in us; a phrase clearly expressing the difference between those who, by profession and common estimation, pass for Christians among men, though they have no other union with Christ, but by an external adhesion to him in the external duties of religion, and those whose union with Christ is real, vital, and permanent, by the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ in their souls. John 15:5, 6. opens the force and importance of this phrase, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered." The thing then to be tried is, Whether we stand in Christ as dead branches in a living stock, which are only bound to it by external ligatures or bonds that hold them for a while together; or whether our souls have a vital union and coalition with Christ, by the participation of the living sap of that blessed root?

SECONDLY, The trial of this union, which is by the giving of the Spirit to us: The Spirit of Christ is the very bond of union between him and our souls. I mean not that the very person of the Spirit dwells in us, imparting his essential properties to us; it were a rude blasphemy so to speak; but his saving influences are communicated to us in the way of sanctifying operations; as the sun is said to come into the house, when his beams and comforting influence come there. Nor yet must we think that the graces or influences of the Spirit abide in us in the self-same measure and manner they do in Christ; "for God gives not the Spirit to him by measure;" in him all fullness dwells. He is anointed with the Spirit above his fellows; but there are measures and proportions of grace differently communicated to believers by the same Spirit; and these communicated graces, and real operations of the Spirit of grace in our hearts, do undoubtedly prove the reality of our union with Christ; as the communication of the self-same vital juice or sap of the stock, to the branch whereby it lives, and brings forth fruit of the same kind, certainly proves it to be a real part or a member of the same tree.

THIRDLY, Which brings us to a third thing; namely, the certainty of the trial this way, or by this we know: We so know that we cannot be deceived. To clear this, let us consider two things in grace, namely,

1. Somewhat constitutive of its being.

2. Somewhat manifestative of its being.

There is something in grace which is essential, and constitutive of its being; and somewhat that flows from grace, and is manifestative of such a being: We cannot immediately and intuitively discern the essence of grace, as it is in its simple nature. So God only discerns it, who is the author of it; but we may discern it mediately and secondarily, by the effects and operations of it. Could we see the simple essence of grace, or intuitively discern our union with Christ, our knowledge would be demonstrative, a priori ad posterius, by seeing effects, as they are lodged in the cause: But we come to know the being of grace, and the reality of our union with Christ, a posteriori, by ascending in our knowledge from the effects and operations, to their true cause and being.

And, accordingly, God has furnished us with a power of self. intuition and reflection; whereby we are able to turn it upon our own hearts, and make a judgment upon ourselves, and upon our own acts. The soul has not only power to project, but a power also to reflect upon its own actions; not only to put forth a direct act of faith upon Jesus Christ, but to judge and discern that act also, 2 Timothy 1:12. I know whom I have believed: And this is the way in which believers attain their certainty and knowledge of their union with Christ: from hence the observation will be,

DOCTRINE: That interest in Christ may be certainly gathered and concluded from the gift of the Spirit to us: "No man (says the apostle) has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God dwells in us, and his love is perfected in us: Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit," 1 John 4:12, 13. The being of God is invisible, but the operations of his Spirit in believers, are sensible and discernable. The soul's union with Christ is a supernatural mystery, yet it is discoverable by the effects thereof, which are very perceptible in and by believers.

Two things require explication and confirmation in the doctrinal part of this point.

1. What the giving of the Spirit imports and signifies.

2. How it evidences the soul's interest in Jesus Christ.

FIRST, As to the import of this phrase, we are to inquire what is meant by the Spirit, and what by the giving of the Spirit.

Now the Spirit is taken in scripture two ways, namely,

Essentially, or personally.

In the first sense it is put for the Godhead, 1 Timothy 3:16. Justified in the Spirit, that is By the power of his divine nature, which raised him from the dead. In the second sense it denotes the third person, or subsistence in the glorious and blessed Trinity; and to him this word Spirit is attributed, sometimes properly in the sense before-mentioned, as denoting his personality; at other times metonymically, and then it is put for the effects, fruits, graces, and gifts of the Spirit communicated by him unto men, Ephesians 5:11. be filled with the Spirit. Now the fruits or gifts of the Spirit are either,

1. Common and assisting gifts: Or,

2. Special and sanctifying gifts.

In the last sense and signification, it must be taken in this place; for, as to the common assisting and ministering gifts of the Spirit, they are bestowed promiscuously upon one as well as another; such gifts in an excellent degree and a large measure, are found in the unregenerate, and therefore can never amount to a solid evidence of the soul's union with Christ: but his special sanctifying gifts, being the proper effect and consequent of that union, must needs strongly prove and confirm it. In this sense therefore we are to understand the Spirit in this place; and by giving the Spirit to us, we are to understand more than the coming of the Spirit upon us: The Spirit of God is said to come upon men in a transient way, for their present assistance in some particular service, though in themselves they be unsanctified persons: Thus the Spirit of God came upon Balaam, Numbers 24:2. enabling him to prophesy of things to come: And, although those extraordinary gifts of the Spirit be now ceased, yet the Spirit ceases not to give his ordinary assistances unto men, both regenerate and unregenerate, 1 Corinthians 12:8, 9, 10, 31. compared: But, whatever gifts he gives to others, he is said to be given, to dwell, and to abide only in believers, 1 Corinthians 3:6. "Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwellth in you?" An expression denoting both his special property in them, and gracious familiarity with them. There is a great difference between the assisting and the indwelling of the Spirit; the one is transient, the other permanent. That is a good rule the schoolmen give us, Illa tantum dicuntur inesse, quζ insunt per modum quietis: those things are only said to be in a man, which were in him by way of rest and permanency, and so the Spirit is in believers: Therefore they are said to live in the Spirit, Galatians 5:25. to be led by the Spirit, verse 18. to be in the Spirit, and the Spirit to dwell in them, Romans 8:9. And so much of the first thing to be opened, namely, What we are to understand by the giving of the Spirit.

SECONDLY, In the next place we are to inquire and satisfy ourselves, how this giving of the Spirit evidently proves and strongly concludes that soul's interest in Christ unto whom he is given: and this will evidently appear by the consideration of these five particulars.

1. The Spirit of God in believers is the very bond by which they are united unto Christ: If therefore we find in ourselves the bond of union, we may warrantably conclude, that we have union with Jesus Christ: This is evidently held forth in those words of Christ, John 17:22, 23. "The glory which you gave me, have I given them, that they may be one, even as we are one. I in them and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them as you have loved me." It is the glory of Christ's human nature to be united to the Godhead: "This (said Christ) you gave me, and the glory you gave me, I have given them," that is By me they are united unto you. And how this is done, he shows us more particularly, I in them; there is Christ in us, namely, mystically: And you in me; there is God in Christ, namely, hypostatically: So that in Christ, God and believers meet in a blessed union: It is Christ's glory to be one with God; it is our glory to be one with Christ, and with God by him: But how is this done? Certainly no other way but by the giving of his Spirit unto us; for so much the phrase, I in them, must needs import: Christ is in us by the sanctifying Spirit, which is the bond of our union with him.

SECONDLY, The scripture everywhere makes this giving, or indwelling of the Spirit, the great mark and trial of our interest in Christ; concluding from the presence of it in us, positively, as in the text; and from the absence of it, negatively, as in Romans 8:9. "Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, the same is none of his," Jude, verse 19. "Sensual, not having the Spirit." This mark therefore agreeing to all believers, and to none but believers, and that always, and at all times, it must needs clearly infer the soul's union with Christ, in whoever it is found.

THIRDLY, That which is a certain mark of our freedom from the covenant of works, and our title to the privileges of the covenant of grace, must needs also infer our union with Christ, and special interest in him; but the giving or indwelling of the sanctifying Spirit in us, is a certain mark of our freedom from the first covenant, under which all Christless persons still stand, and our title to the special privileges of the second covenant, in which none but the members are interested; and, consequently, it fully proves our union with the Lord Jesus. This is plain from the apostle's reasoning, Galatians 4:6, 7. "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father: Wherefore you are no more a servant, but a son: and if a son, then an heir of God, through Christ." The spirit of the first covenant was a servile spirit, a spirit of fear and bondage, and they that were under that covenant were not sons, but servants; but the spirit of the new covenant is a free, sincere spirit, acting in the strength of God, and those that do so, are the children of God; and children inherit the blessed privileges and royal immunities contained in that great charter, the covenant of grace: they are heirs of God, and the evidence of this their inheritance, by virtue of the second covenant, and of freedom from the servitude and bondage of the first covenant, is the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, crying, Abba Father; So Galatians 5:18. "If you be led by the Spirit, you are not under the law."

FOURTHLY, If the eternal decree of God's electing love be executed, and the virtues and benefits of the death of Christ applied by the Spirit, unto every soul in whom he dwells, as a spirit of sanctification; then such a giving of the Spirit unto us must needs be a certain mark and proof of our special interest in Christ; but the decree of God's electing love is executed, and the benefits of the blood of Christ are applied to every soul in whom he dwells, as a spirit of sanctification. This is plain from 1 Peter 1:2. "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:" Where you see both God's election executed, and the blood of Jesus sprinkled or applied unto us by the Spirit, which is given to us as a Spirit of sanctification. There is a blessed order of working observed as proper to each person in the Godhead; the Father elects, the Son redeems, the Spirit sanctifies. The Spirit is the last efficient in the work of our salvation; what the Father decreed, and the Son purchased, that the Spirit applies; and so puts the last hand to the complete salvation of believers. And this some divines give as the reason why the sin against the Spirit is unpardonable, because he being the last agent, in order of working, if the heart of a man be filled with enmity against the Spirit, there can be no remedy for such a sin; there is no looking back to the death of Christ, or to the love of God for remedy. This sin against the Spirit is that obex infernalis, the deadly stop and bar to the whole work of salvation; Oppositely, where the Spirit is received, obeyed, and dwells in the way of sanctification; into that soul the eternal love of God, the inestimable benefits of the blood of Christ run freely, without any interruption; and, consequently, the interest of such a soul in Jesus Christ is beyond all dispute.

FIFTHLY, The giving of the Spirit to us, or his residing in us, as a sanctifying Spirit, is everywhere in scripture made the pledge and pledge of eternal salvation, and consequently must abundantly confirm and prove the soul's interest in Christ, Ephesians 1:13, 14. "In whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise; which is the pledge of our inheritance," etc. So, 2 Corinthians 1:22. "who has also sealed us, and given the pledge of the Spirit in our hearts." And thus you have the point opened and confirmed. The use of all follows:

Use. Now the only use I make of this point shall be that which lies directly, both in the view of the text, and of the design for which it was chosen; namely, by it to try and examine the truth of our interest in, and the validity of our claim to Jesus Christ. In pursuance of which design, I shall first lay down some general rules, and then propose some particular trials.

FIRST, I shall lay down some general rules for the due information of our minds in this point, upon which so much depends.


Rule 1. Though the Spirit of God be given to us, and works in us, yet he works not as a natural and necessary, but as a free and arbitrary agent: He neither assists, nor sanctifies, as the fire burns, ad ultimum sui posse, as much as he can assist or sanctify, but as much as he pleases: dividing to every man severally as he will," 1 Corinthians 12:11. Bestowing greater measures of gifts and graces upon some than upon others; and assisting the same person more at one season than another; and all this variety of operation flows from his own good pleasure. His grace is his own, he may give it as he pleases.

Rule 2. There is a great difference in the manner of the Spirit's working before and after the work of regeneration. While we are unregenerate, he works upon us as upon dead creatures that work not at all with him; and what motion there is in our souls, is a counter-motion to the Spirit; but after regeneration it is not so, he then works upon a complying and willing mind; we work, and he assists, Romans 8:26. Our conscience witnesses, and he bears witness with it, Romans 8:16. It is therefore an error of dangerous consequence to think that sanctified persons are not bound to stir and strive in the way of duty, without a sensible impulse, or preventing motion of the Spirit, Isaiah 64:7.

Rule 3. Though the Spirit of God be given to believers, and works in them, yet believers themselves may do or omit such things as may obstruct the working, and obscure the very being of the Spirit of God in them. Ita notis tractat, ut a nobis tractatur: He deals with us in his evidencing and comforting work, as we deal with him in point of tenderness and obedience to his dictates; there is a grieving, yes, there is a quenching of the Spirit by the lusts and corruptions of those hearts in which he dwells; and though he will not forsake his habitation, as a Spirit of sanctification, yet he may for a time desert it as a Spirit of consolation, Psalm 51:11.

Rule 4. Those things which discover the indwelling of the Spirit in believers are not so much the matter of their duties, or substance of their actions, as the more secret springs, holy aims, and spiritual manner of their doing or performing of them. It is not so much the matter of a prayer, the neat and orderly expressions in which it is uttered, as the inward sense and spiritual design of the soul; it is not the choice of elegant words, whereby our conceptions are clothed, or the copiousness of the matter with which we are furnished, for even a poor stammering tongue, and broken language, may have much of the Spirit of God in it. This made Luther say, he saw more excellency in the duty of a plain rustic Christian, than in all the triumphs of Caesar and Alexander. The beauty and excellency of spiritual duties is an inward hidden thing.

Rule 5. All the motions and operations of the Spirit are always harmonious, and suitable to the written word, Isaiah 8:20. "To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." The scriptures are by the inspiration of the Spirit, therefore this inspiration into the hearts of believers must either substantially agree with the scriptures, or the inspiration of the Spirit be self-repugnant, and contradictory to itself. It is very observable, that the works of grace wrought by the Spirit in the hearts of believers, are represented to us in scripture, as a transcript, or copy of the written word, Jeremiah 31:33. "I will write my law in their hearts." Now, as a true copy answers the original, word for word, letter for letter, point for point; so do the works of the Spirit in our souls harmonize with the dictates of the Spirit in the scriptures; whatever motion therefore shall be found repugnant thereto, must not be fathered upon the Spirit of God, but laid at the door of its proper parents, the spirit of error and corrupt nature.

Rule 6. Although the works of the Spirit, in all sanctified persons, do substantially agree, both with the written word, and with one another, (as ten thousand copies, penned from one original, must needs agree within themselves;) yet as to the manner of infusion and operation, there are found many circumstantial differences. The Spirit of God does not hold one and the same method of working upon all hearts: The work of grace is introduced into some souls with more terror and trouble for sin, than it is in others; he wrought upon Paul one way, upon Lydia in another way; he holds some much longer under terrors and troubles than he does others; inveterate and more profane sinners find stronger troubles for sin, and are held longer under them, than those are, into whose heart grace is more early and insensibly infused by the Spirit's blessing upon religious education; but as these have less trouble than the other at first, so commonly they have less clearness, and more doubts and fears about the work of the Spirit afterwards.

Rule 7. There is a great difference found between the sanctifying and the comforting influences of the Spirit upon believers, in respect of constancy and permanency. His sanctifying influences abide forever in the soul, they never depart; but his comforting influences come and go, and abide not long upon the hearts of believers. Sanctification belongs to the being of a Christian, consolation only to his well-being: The first is fixed and abiding, the latter various and inconstant. Sanctification brings us to Heaven hereafter, consolation brings Heaven unto us here; our safety lies in the former, our cheerfulness only in the latter. There are times and seasons, in the lives of believers, wherein the Spirit of God does more signally and eminently seal their spirits, and ravish their hearts with joy unspeakable. But what Bernard speaks is certainly true in the experience of Christians: " It is a sweet hour, and it is but an hour; a thing of short continuance: the relish of it is exceeding sweet, but it is not often that Christians taste it." And so much may suffice for the general rules about the indwelling and workings of the Spirit in believers, for the better information of our understandings, and prevention of mistakes in this matter; I shall next, according to promise, lay down the particular marks and trials by which we may discern whether God has given us his Spirit or no, by which grown Christians, when they are in a due composed frame, may, by the assistance of the Spirit of God, (for which therefore they are bound to pray), discern his indwelling and working in themselves.


Evidence 1. In whoever the Spirit of Christ is a Spirit of sanctification, to that man or woman he has been, more or less, a Spirit of conviction and humiliation. This is the order which the Spirit constantly observes in adult or grown converts, John 16:8, 9. "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin because they believe not on me." This, you see, is the method he observes all the world over; he shall reprove or convince the world of sin. Conviction of sin has the same respect unto sanctification, as the blossoms of trees have to the fruits that follow them: A blossom is but fructus imperfectus, et ordinabilis; an imperfect fruit in itself, and in order to a more perfect and noble fruit. Where there are no blossoms, we can expect no fruit; and where we see no conviction of sin, we can expect no conversion to Christ. Has then the Spirit of God been a Spirit of conviction to you? Has he more particularly convinced you of sin, because you have not believed on him? that is has he shown you your sin and misery, as an unbeliever? Not only terrified and affrighted your conscience with this or that more notorious act of sin, but fully convinced you of the state of sin that you are in by reason of your unbelief, which, holding you from Christ, must needs also hold you under the guilt of all your other sins. This gives, at least, a strong probability that God has given you his Spirit, especially when this conviction remains day and night upon your soul, so that nothing but Christ can give it rest, and consequently the great inquiry of your soul is after Christ, and none but Christ.

Evidence 2. As the Spirit of God has been a convincing, so he is a quickening Spirit, to all those to whom he is given; Romans 8:2. "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death:" He is the Spirit of life, that is the principle of spiritual life in the souls whom he inhabits; for, uniting them to Christ, he unites them to the fountain of life; and this spiritual life, in believers, manifests itself as the natural life does in vital actions and operations. When the Spirit of God comes into the soul of a man that was dead and senseless under sin, "O (says he) now I begin to feel the weight and load of sin, Romans 7:24. now I begin to hunger and thirst after Christ and his ordinances, 1 Peter 2:2. now I begin to breathe after God in spiritual prayer," Acts 9:11. Spiritual life has its spiritual senses, and suitable operations. O think upon this you that cannot feel any burden in sin, you that have no hungerings or thirstings after Christ; how can the Spirit of God be in you? I do not deny but there may, at some times, be much deadness and senselessness upon the hearts of Christians, but this is their disease, not their nature; it is but at some times, not always, and when it is so with them, they are burdened with it, and complain of it as their greatest affliction in this world; their spirits are not easy and at rest, in such a condition as yours are; their spirits are as a bone out of joint, an arm dislocated, which cannot move any way without pain.

Evidence 3. Those to whom God gives his Spirit have a tender sympathy with all the interests and concernments of Christ. This must needs be so, if the same Spirit which is in Christ dwells also in your heart; if you be a partaker of his Spirit, then what he loves, you love, and what he hates, you hate. This is a very plain case; even in nature itself, we find that the many members of the same natural body being animated by one and the same spirit of life, "whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it: Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular," 1 Corinthians 12:26, 27. For look, as Christ, the head of that body is touched with a tender sense and feeling of the miseries and troubles of his people, he is persecuted when they are persecuted, Acts 9:4. so they that have the Spirit of Christ in them, cannot be without a deep and tender sense of the reproach and dishonors that are done to Christ: This is "as it were a sword in their bones," Psalm 42:3. If his public worship cease, or the assemblies of his people are scattered; it cannot but go to the hearts of all, in whom the Spirit of Christ is: "They will be sorrowful for the solemn assemblies; the reproach of them will be a burden," Zephaniah 3:18. Those that have the Spirit of Christ do not more earnestly long after any one thing in this world, than the advancement of Christ's interest by conversion and reformation in the kingdoms of the earth, Psalm 45:3, 4. Paul could rejoice that Christ was preached, though his own afflictions were increased, Philippians 1:16, 18. and John could rejoice that Christ increased, though he himself decreased; yet therein was his joy fulfilled, John 3:29. So certainly the concernments of Christ must and will touch that heart which is the habitation of his Spirit. I cannot deny, but even a good Baruch may be under a temptation to seek great things for himself, and be too much swallowed up in his own concernments, when God is plucking up and breaking down, Jeremiah 45:4, 5. But this is only the influence of a temptation: the true temper and spirit of a believer inclines him to sorrow and mourning, when things are in this sad posture: Ezekiel 9:4. "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof."

O reader, lay your hand upon your heart: Is it thus with you? Do you sympathize with the affairs and concernments of Christ in the world? or, care you not which way things go with the people of God, and gospel of Christ, so long as your own affairs prosper, and all things are well with you?

Evidence 4. Wherever the Spirit of God dwells, he does in some degree, mortify and subdue the evils and corruptions of the soul in which he resides. This Spirit lusts against the flesh, Galatians 5:7. and believers, "through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body," Romans 8:13. This is one special part of his sanctifying work. I do not say he kills and subdues sin in believers, as that it shall never trouble or defile them any more: No; that freedom belongs to the perfect state in Heaven, but its dominion is taken away, though its life be prolonged for a season. It lives in believers still, but not upon the provision they willingly make to fulfill the lust of it, Romans 1:23. The design of every true believer, is co-incident with the design of the Spirit, to destroy and mortify corruption: They long after the extirpation of it, and are daily in the use of all sanctified means and instruments, to subdue and destroy it; the workings of their corruption are the afflictions of their souls, Romans 7:24. "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" And there is no one thing that sweetens the thoughts of death to believers (except the sight and full enjoyment of God) more than their expected deliverance from sin does.

Evidence 5. Wherever the spirit of God dwells in the way of sanctification, in all such he is the Spirit of prayer and supplication, Romans 8:26. "Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities, for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us, with groanings which cannot be uttered:" Wherever he is poured out as the Spirit of grace, he is also poured out as the Spirit of supplication, Zechariah 12:10. His praying and his sanctifying influences are undivided. There is a threefold assistance that the Spirit gives unto sanctified persons in prayer. He helps them before they pray, by setting an edge upon their desires and affections: He helps them in prayer, by supplying matters of request to them, teaching them what they should ask of God: He assists them in the manner of prayer, supplying them with suitable affections, and helping them to be sincere in all their desires to God. It is he who humbles the pride of their hearts, dissolves, and breaks the hardness of their hearts; Out of deadness makes them lively; out of weakness makes them strong. He assists the spirits of believers after prayer, helping them to faith and patience, to believe, and wait for the returns and answers of their prayers. O reader, reflect upon your duties, consider what spirituality, sincerity, humility, broken-heartedness, and melting affections after God, are to be found in your duties: Is it so with you? Or do you hurry over your duties as an interruption to your business and pleasures? Are they an ungrateful task, imposed upon you by God, and your own conscience? Are there no hungerings and thirstings after God in your soul? Or, if there be any pleasure arising to you out of prayer, is it not from the ostentation of your gifts? If it be so, reflect sadly upon the carnal state of your heart; these things do not speak the Spirit of grace and supplication to be given you.

Evidence 6. Wherever the Spirit of grace inhabits, there is an heavenly, spiritual frame of mind accompanying, and evidencing the indwelling of the Spirit, Romans 8:5, 6. "For they that are after the flesh, do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit: for to be carnally minded is death: but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." By the mind, understand the musings, reasonings, yes, and the cares, fears, delights and pleasures of the soul, which follow the workings and meditations of the mind. As these are, so are we; if these be ordinarily and habitually taken up, and exercised about earthly things, then is the frame and state of the man carnal, and earthly: The workings of every creature follow the being and nature of it. If God, Christ, Heaven, and the world to come, engage the thoughts and affections of the soul, and the temper of such a soul is spiritual, and the Spirit of God dwells there; this is the life of the regenerate, Philippians 3:20. "Our conversation is in Heaven;" and such a frame of heart is life and peace: A serene, placid, and most comfortable life. No pleasures upon earth, no gratifications of the senses, do relish and savor, as spiritual things do. Consider, therefore, which way your heart ordinarily works, especially in your solitudes and hours of retirement. These things will be a great evidence for, or against your soul. David could say, "How precious are your thoughts unto me, O God! How great is the sum of them: if I should count them, they are more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with you," Psalm 139:17, 18. Yet it must be acknowledged, for the relief of weaker Christians, that there is a great difference and variety found in this matter, among the people of God: For the strength, steadiness, and constancy of a spiritual mind, result from the depth and improvement of sanctification: The more grace, still the more evenness, spirituality, and constancy there is in the motions of the heart after God. The minds of weak Christians are more easily entangled in earthly vanities, and more frequently diverted by inward corruptions; yet still there is a spiritual Pondus, inclination and bent of their hearts towards God; and the vanity and corruption which hinders their communion with him are their greatest grief and burden under which they groan in this world.

Evidence 7. Those to whom the Spirit of grace is given, are led by the Spirit, Romans 8:14. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God:" Sanctified souls give themselves up to the government and conduct of the Spirit; they obey his voice, beg his direction, follow his motions, deny the solicitations of flesh and blood, in obedience to him, Galatians 1:16. And they that do so, they are the sons of God. It is the office of the Spirit to guide us into all truth; and it is our great duty to follow his guidance. Hence it is, that in all enterprises and undertakings, the people of God so earnestly beg direction and counsel from him. "Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness, (says David) make your way straight before my face," Psalm 5:8. They dare not, in doubtful cases, lean to their own understandings; yes, in points of duty, and in points of sin, they dare not neglect the one, or commit the other, against the convictions and persuasions of their own consciences; though troubles and sufferings be unavoidable in that path of duty, when they have balanced duties with sufferings, in their most serious thoughts, the conclusion and result will still be, it is better to obey God, than man, the dictates of the Spirit, rather than the counsels of flesh and blood.

But, before I leave this point, I reckon myself a debtor unto weak Christians, and shall endeavor to give satisfaction to some special doubts and fears, with which their minds are ordinarily entangled in this matter; for it is a very plain case, that many souls have the presence and sanctification of the Spirit without the evidence and comfort thereof. Divers thing are found in believers, which are so many fountains of fears and doubts to them. And,


Objection 1. I greatly doubt the Spirit of God is not in me, (says a poor Christian) because of the great darkness and ignorance which clouds my soul; for I read, 1 John 2:27. that he enlightens the soul which he inhabits. "The anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you, but as the same anointing teaches you of all things," etc. but alas, my understanding is weak and cloudy, I have need to learn of the basest of God's people: This only I know, that I know nothing as I ought to know.

Sol. Two things are to be regarded in spiritual knowledge; namely, the quantity, and the efficacy thereof. Your condition does not so much depend upon the measures of knowledge; for, haply, you are under many natural disadvantages, and want those helps and means of increasing knowledge, which others plentifully enjoy. It may be that you have wanted the helps of education, or have been incumbered by the necessities and cares of the world, which have allowed you but little leisure for the improvement of your minds: But if that which you do know, be turned into practice and obedience, Colossians 1:9, 10. If it have influence upon your hearts, and transform your affections into a spiritual frame and temper, 2 Corinthians 3:17, 18. If your ignorance humble you, and drive you to God daily for the increase of knowledge, one drop of such knowledge of Christ, and yourselves as this, is more worth than a sea of human, moral, unsanctified, and speculative knowledge. Though you know but little, yet that little, being sanctified, is of great value: Though you know but little, time was when you knew nothing of Jesus Christ, or the state of your own souls. In a word, though you know but little, that little you do know will be still increasing, "like the morning light, which shines more and more unto the perfect day," Proverbs 4:18. If you know so much as brings you to Christ, you shall shortly be where your knowledge shall be as the light at noon-day.

Objection: 2. I sometimes find my heart raised, and my affections melted in duties, but I doubt it is in a natural way, and not from the Spirit of God: could I be assured those motions of my heart were from the Spirit of grace, and not merely a natural thing, it would be a singular comfort and satisfaction to me.

Sol. FIRST, Consider whether this be not the ground of your fear and doubting, because you are gladly to take pains in the way of meditation, prayer, and other duties, to bring your hearts to relish and savor the things of God; whereas, it may be, you expect your spiritual enlargements and comforts should flow in upon you spontaneously, and drop from Heaven immediately of their own accord, without any pains or industry of yours. Here may be, (and probably is) a great mistake in this matter; for the Spirit of God works in the natural method, wherein affections use to be raised, and makes use of such duties as meditation and prayer, as instruments to do that work by, Ezekiel 36:37. So David was forced to reason with, and chide his own heart, Psalm 42:5. Your comfort and enlargement may nevertheless be the fruit of the Spirit, because God makes it spring up, and grow upon your duties.

SECONDLY, Take this as a sure rule, Whatever rises from self, always aims at, and terminates in self. This stream cannot be carried higher than the fountain; if therefore your aim, and end in striving for affections and enlargements in duty, be only to win applause from men, and appear to be what in reality you are not, this, indeed, is the fruit of nature, and a very corrupt and hypocritical nature; but if your heart be melted, or desire to be melted in the sense of the evil of sin, in order to the further mortification of it; and, under the apprehensions of the free grace and mercy of God in the pardon of sin, in order to the engaging of your soul more firmly to him; if these, or such like, be your ends and designs, or be promoted and furthered by your enlargements and spiritual comforts, never reject them as the mere fruits of nature: A carnal root cannot bring forth such fruits as these.

Objection: 3. Upon the contrary, spiritual deadness, and indisposedness to duties, and to those especially which are more secret, spiritual, and self-denying than others, is the ground upon which many spiritual souls, who are yet truly gracious, do doubt the indwelling of the Spirit in them. O, says such a soul, if the Spirit of God be in me, Why is it thus? Could my heart be so dead, so backward and averse to spiritual duties? No; these things would be my meat and my drink, the delights and pleasures of my life.

Sol. FIRST, These things indeed are very sad, and argue your heart to be out of frame, as the body is, when it cannot relish the most desirable meats or drinks: But the question will be, how your soul behaves itself in such a condition as this is? whether this be easy or burdensome to be borne by you? and if you complain under it as a burden; then what pains you take to ease yourself, and get rid of it?

SECONDLY, Know also, that there is a great difference between spiritual death, and spiritual deadness; the former is the state of the unregenerate, the latter is the disease and complaint of many thousand regenerate souls: If David had not felt it as well as you, he would never have cried out nine times in the compass of one Psalm, Quicken me, quicken me. Besides,

THIRDLY, Though it be often, it is not so always with you; there are seasons wherein the Lord breaks in upon your heart, enlarges your affections, and sets your soul at liberty; to which times you will do well to have an eye, in these dark and cloudy days.

Objection: 4. But the Spirit of God is the comforter, as well as a sanctifier: He does not only enable men to believe, but after they believe, he also seals them, Ephesians 1:13. But I walk in darkness, and am a stranger to the sealing and comforting work of the Spirit: How therefore can I imagine the Spirit of God should dwell in me, who go from day to day in the bitterness of my soul, mourning as without the sun?

Sol. There is a twofold sealing, and a two-fold comfort: The Spirit seals both objectively, in the work of sanctification; and formally, in giving clear evidence of that work. You may be sealed in the first, while you are not yet sealed in the second sense: If so, your condition is safe, although it be at present uncomfortable. And, as to comfort, that also is of two sorts, namely, seminal, or actual: in the root, or in the fruit; Light is sown for the righteous, Psalm 97:11. though the harvest to reap and gather in that joy and comfort be not yet come. And there are many other ways beside that of joy and comfort, whereby the indwelling of the Spirit may evidence itself in your soul: If he do not enable you to rejoice, yet if he enable you sincerely to mourn for sin; if he do not enlarge your heart in comfort, yet if he humble and purge your heart by sorrows: if he deny you the assurance of faith, and yet give you the dependence of faith, you have no reason to call in question, or deny the indwelling of the Spirit in you for that cause.

Objection: 5. But the apostle says, "They that walk in the Spirit, do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh," Galatians 5:16. but I find myself entangled, and frequently overcome by them: Therefore I doubt the Spirit of God is not in me.

Sol. It is possible the ground of your doubting may be your mistake of the true sense and meaning of that scripture: It is not the apostle's meaning in that place, that sin in believers does not work, tempt, and oftentimes overcome, and captivate them; for then he would contradict himself in Romans 7:23. where he thus complains, "But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." But two things are meant by that expression, "You shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh."

FIRST, That the principle of grace will give a check to sin in its first motions, and cause it to miscarry in the womb, like an untimely birth, before it come to its full maturity; it shall never be able to gain the full consent of the will, as it does in the unregenerate.

SECONDLY, If, notwithstanding all the opposition grace makes to hinder the birth or commission of it, it does yet prevail, and break forth into act; yet such acts of sin, as they are not committed without regret, so they are followed with shame, sorrow, and true repentance: And those very surprisals, and captivities of sin at one time, are made cautions and warnings to prevent it at another time. If it be so with you, you do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.

And now, reader, upon the whole, if upon examination of your heart by these rules, the Lord shall help you to discern the saving work of the Spirit upon your soul, and thereby your interest in Christ, What a happy man or woman are you! what pleasure will arise to your soul from such a discovery! Look upon the frame of your heart absolutely as it is in itself at present, or comparatively, with what once it was, and others still are, and you will find enough to transport and melt your heart within you: Certainly this is the most glorious piece of workmanship that ever God wrought in the world upon any man, Ephesians 2:10. The Spirit of God is come down from Heaven, and has hallowed your soul to be a temple for himself to dwell in; as he has said, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people," 2 Corinthians 7:16. Moreover, this gift of the Spirit is a sure pledge and pledge of your future glory: Time was, when there was no such work upon your soul. And, considering the frame and temper of it, the total aversion, strong opposition, and rooted enmity that was in it; it is the wonder of wonders, that ever such a work as this should be wrought upon such a heart as your: that ever the Spirit of God, whose nature is pure and perfect holiness, should chose such an unclean, polluted, abominable heart to frame an habitation for himself there to dwell in; to say of your soul (now his spiritual temple) as he once said of the material temple at Jerusalem, Psalm 132:13, 14. "The Lord has chosen it, he has desired it for his habitation. This is my rest forever: Here will I dwell; for I have desired it," O what has God done for your soul!

Think, reader, and think again: Are there not many thousands in the world of more sincere, sweet, and amiable dispositions than yourself, whom yet the Spirit of God passes by, and leaves them as tabernacles for Satan to dwell in? Such a one you lately were, and had still remained, if God had not wrought for you, beyond all the expectations and desires of your own heart. O bless God that you have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that you might know the things which are freely given unto you of God.




Of the Nature and Necessity of the NEW CREATURE

2 CORINTHIANS 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

YOU have seen one trial of a saving interest in Christ, in our last discourse, namely, by the donation of the Spirit. We have here another trial of the same matter, from one of the greatest, and most noble effects of the Spirit upon our souls; namely, his work of renovation, or new creation: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." The apostle's scope in the immediate context, is to dissuade Christians from a carnal, sinful partiality, in their respects to men: Not to despise them after the manner of the world, according to the external differences, but the real internal worth and excellency that is in men. This the apostle presses by two arguments; one drawn from the end of Christ's death, verse 15. which was to take off from these selfish designs and carnal ends by which the whole world is swayed. SECONDLY, From the new spirit, by which believers are actuated: they that are in Christ are to judge and measure all things by a new rule: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: Old things are passed away;" q. d. we have done with that low, selfish spirit of the world, which was wholly governed by carnal interest; we are now to judge by a new rule, to be actuated from a new principle, aim at a new and more noble end; "Behold, all things are become new." In these words we have three general parts, to be distinctly considered, namely,

1. The great question to be determined, "If any man be in Christ?"

2. The rule by which it may be determined, namely, "he is a new creature."

3. This general rule more particularly explained, "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."

FIRST, We have here the great question to be determined, Whether a man be in Christ? A question upon the determination whereof, we must stand, or fall for ever. By [being in Christ] the apostle does not here mean the general profession of Christianity, which gives a man the reputation of a saving interest in him; but by being in Christ, he means a saving interest in him, by vital union with his person, and real participation of his benefits. Now this is the question to be determined, the matter to be tried; than which, nothing can be more solemn and important in the whole world.

SECONDLY, The rule by which this great question may be determined, namely, The new creation; "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." By this rule all the titles and claims made to Christ in the professing world, are to be examined. [If any man] be he what he will, high or low, great or small, learned or illiterate, young or old, if he pretend interest in Christ, this is the standard by which he must be tried: if he be in Christ, he is a new creature; and if he be not a new creature, he is not in Christ, let his endowments, gifts, confidence, and reputation be what they will: [A new creature] not new physically, he is the same person he was; but a new creature, that is, a creature renewed by gracious principles, newly infused into him from above, which sway him and guide him in another manner, and to another end than ever he acted before; and these gracious principles not being educed out of anything which was pre-existent in man, but infused de novo, from above, are therefore called, in this place, a new creature: This is the rule by which our claim to Christ must be determined.

THIRDLY, This general rule is here more particularly explained; "Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." He satisfies not himself to lay down this rule concisely, or express it in general terms, by telling us, the man in Christ must be a new creature; but more particularly, he shows us what this new creature is, and what the parts thereof are, namely, Both

1. The privative part; "Old things are passed away."

2. The positive part thereof; "All things are become new."

By old things, he means all those carnal principles, self-ends, and fleshly lusts belonging to the carnal state, or the old man: all these are passed away; " not simply, and perfectly, but only in part at present, and wholly in hope and expectation hereafter." So much briefly of the privative part of the new creature, "Old things are passed away." A word or two must be spoken of the positive part; "All things are become new." He means not that the old faculties of the soul are abolished, and new ones created in their room; but as our bodies may be said to be new bodies, by reason of their new endowments and qualities super-induced, and bestowed upon them in their resurrection, so our souls are now renewed by the infusion of new gracious principles into them, in the work of regeneration. These two parts, namely, the privative part, the passing away of old things; and the positive part, the renewing of all things, do, between them, comprize the whole nature of sanctification, which, in other scriptures, is expressed by equivalent phrases; sometimes by putting off the old, and putting on the new man, Ephesians 4:24. sometimes by dying unto sin, and living unto righteousness, Romans 6:11. which is the self-same thing the apostle here intends, by the passing away of old things, and making all things new. And because this is the most excellent, glorious, and admirable work of the Spirit, which is, or can be wrought upon man in this world; therefore the apostle asserts it with an ecce, a note of special remark and observation, "Behold, all things are become new;" q. d. Behold and admire this surprising, marvelous change which God has made upon men; they are come out of darkness into his marvelous light, 1 Peter 2:9. out of the old, as it were, into a new world; "Behold, all things are become new." Hence note,

DOCTRINE: That God's creating of a new supernatural work of grace in the soul of any man, is that man's sure, and infallible evidence of a saving interest in Jesus Christ.

Suitable hereunto are those words of the apostle, Ephesians 4:20, 21, 22, 23, 24. "But you have not so learned Christ; if so be that you have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That you put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts: and be renewed in the Spirit of your mind: and that you put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." Where we have, in other words of the same importance, the very self-same description of the man that is in Christ, which the apostle gives us in this text. Now, for the opening and stating of this point, it will be necessary that I show you,

1. Why the regenerating work of the Spirit is called a new creation.

2. In what respect every soul that is in Christ is renewed, or made a new creature.

3. What are the remarkable properties and qualities of this new creature.

4. The necessity of this new creation to all that are in Christ.

5. How this new creation evidences our interest in Christ.

6. And then apply the whole in the proper uses of it.

FIRST, Why the regenerating work of the Spirit is called a new creation. This must be our first inquiry. And, doubtless, the reason of this appellation is the analogy, proportion, and similitude which is found between the work of regeneration, and God's work in the first creation. And their agreement and proportion will be found in the following particulars.

FIRST, The same almighty Author who created the world, creates also this work of grace in the soul of man, 2 Corinthians 4:6. "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, has shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." The same powerful word which created the natural, creates also the spiritual light. It is equally absurd for any man to say, I make myself to repent, or to believe, as it is to say, I made myself to exist, and be.

SECONDLY, The first thing that God created in the natural world, was light, Genesis 1:3. and the first thing which God creates in the new creation, is the light of spiritual knowledge, Colossians 3:10. "And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him."

THIRDLY, Creation is out of nothing; it requires no pre-existent matter; it does not bring one thing out of another, but something out of nothing; it gives a being to that which before had no being: So it is also in the new creation, 1 Peter 2:9, 10. "Who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy." The work of grace is not educed out of the power and principles of nature, but it is a pure work of creation. The Heathen philosophers could neither understand, nor acknowledge the creation of the world, because that notion was repugnant to this maxim of reason, ex nihilo nihil fit, out of nothing, nothing can be made. Thus did they insanire cum ratione, befool themselves with their own reasonings; and after the same manner some great pretenders to reason among us, voting it an absurdity to affirm, that the work of grace is not virtually and potentially contained in nature, the new creation in the old.

FOURTHLY, It was the virtue and efficacy of the Spirit of God, which gave the natural world its being by creation; Genesis 1:2. the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters; it hovered over the chaos, as the wings of a bird do over her eggs, as the same word is rendered, Deuteronomy 32:11. cherishing, as it were by incubation, that rude mass by a secret quickening influence, by which it drew all creatures into their several forms, and particular natures: So it is in the new creation; a quickening influence must come from the Spirit of God, or else the new creation can never be formed in us; John 3:8. "So is every one that is born of the Spirit." And verse 6. "That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit."

FIFTHLY, The word of God was the instrument of the first creation; Psalm 33:6, 9. "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth: For he spoke, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast." The word of God is also the instrument of the new creation, or work of grace in man; 1 Peter 1:23. "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible; by the word of God, which lives, and abides for ever." So James 1:18. "Of his own will begat he us, with the word of truth." Of his own will; that was the impulsive cause; with the word of truth; that was the instrumental cause. Great respect and honor, love, and delight, is due to the word upon this account, that it is the instrument of our regeneration, or new creation.

SIXTHLY, The same power which created the world, still underprops and supports it in its being: the world owes its conservation, as well as its existence, to the power of God, without which it could not exist one moment. Just so it is with the new creation, which entirely depends upon the preserving power, which first formed it; Jude verse 1. "Preserved in Christ Jesus," and 1 Peter 1:5. "Who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto salvation." As in a natural way "we live, move, and have our being in God," Acts 17:28. so in a spiritual way, we continue believing, repenting, loving, and delighting in God; without whose continued influence upon our souls, we could do neither.

Seventhly, In a word, God surveyed the first creation with complacence and great delight; he beheld the works of his hands, and approved them as very good, Genesis 1:31. So this also in the second creation; nothing pleases and delights God more than the works of grace in the souls of his people. It is not an outward privilege of nature, or gift of providence, which commends any man to God; "Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but a new creature," Galatians 6:15. And thus you see upon what grounds the work of regeneration in man is stiled a new creature; which was the first thing to be opened.

SECONDLY, Next we must inquire, in what respects every soul that is in Christ is renewed, or made a new creature: and here we shall find a threefold renovation of every man that is in Christ, namely,

1. In his state and condition.

2. In his frame and constitution.

3. In his practice and conversation.

FIRST, He is renewed in his state and condition: for he passes from death to life in his justification, 1 John 3:14. He was condemned by the law, he is now justified freely by grace, through the redemption which is in Christ: he was under the curse of the first covenant; he is under the blessing of the new covenant: he was afar off, but is now made near unto God; an alien, a stranger once, now of the household of God, Ephesians 2:12, 13. O blessed change, from a sad to a sweet and comfortable condition! "There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus," Romans 8:1.

SECONDLY, Every man in Christ is renewed in his frame and constitution; all the faculties and affections of his soul are renewed by regeneration: his understanding was dark, but now is light in the Lord, Ephesians 5:8. his conscience was dead and secure, or full of guilt and horror, but is now become tender, watchful, and full of peace, Hebrews 9:14. his will was rebellious, stubborn, and inflexible; but is now made obedient and complying with the will of God, Psalm 110:2. his desires did once pant and spend themselves in the pursuit of vanities, now they are set upon God, Isaiah 26:8. his love did fondly dote upon ensnaring earthly objects, now it is swallowed up in the infinite excellencies of God and Christ, Psalm 119:97. his joy was once in trifles and things of nothing, now his rejoicing is in Christ Jesus, Philippians 3:3. his fears once were about noxious creatures, now God is the object of the fear of reverence, Acts 9:31. and sin the object of the fear of caution, 2 Corinthians 7:11. his hopes and expectations were only from the world present, but now from that to come, Hebrews 6:19. Thus the soul in its faculties and affections is renewed; which being done, the members and senses of the body must needs be destinated and employed by it in new services; no more to be the weapons of unrighteousness, but instruments of service to Jesus Christ, Romans 6:19. And thus all that are in Christ are renewed in their frame and constitution.

THIRDLY, The man in Christ is renewed in his practice and conversation: the manner of operation always follows the nature of beings. Now the regenerate not being what they were, cannot walk and act as once they did; Ephesians 2:1, 2, 3. "And you has he quickened, who were once dead in trespasses and sins; wherein you walked according to the course of this world." They were carried away, like water by the strength of the tide, by the influence of their own corrupt natures, and the customs and examples of the world; but the case is now altered. So in 1 Corinthians 6:11. the apostle shows believers their old companions in sin, and tells them, "Such were some of you, but you are washed, but you are sanctified," etc. q. d. the world is now well altered with you, thanks be to the grace of God for it. This wonderful change of practice, which is so universal and remarkable in all the regenerate, and immediately consequent upon their conversion, sets the world a wondering at them; 1 Peter 4:4. Wherein they think it strange, that you run not with them into the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you. They think it strange:" The word signifies to stand and gaze, as the hen does which has brooded, and hatched partridge eggs, when she sees the chickens which she has brought forth, take the wing and fly away from her. Thus do the men of the world stand amazed to see their old companions in sin, whose language once was vain and earthly, it may be, profane and filthy, now to be praying, speaking of God, Heaven, and things spiritual, having no more to do with them, as to sin, except by way of reprehension and admonition: this amazes the world, and makes them look with a strange admiring eye upon the people of God.

THIRDLY, In the next place let us inquire into the properties and qualities of this new creature, and show you, as we are able, what they are; yet, reader, expect not here an exact and accurate account of that which is so great a mystery; for if questions may be moved about a silly fly, which may puzzle the greatest philosopher to resolve them; how much more may we conceive this great and marvelous work of God, the most mysterious and admirable of all his works, to surmount the understandings of the most illuminated Christians? O how little do we know of the nature, properties, and operations of this new creature! So far as God has revealed it to our weak understandings, we may speak of it. And,

FIRST, The scripture speaks of it as a thing of great difficulty to be conceived by man, John 3:8. "The wind blows where it wills, and you nearest the sound thereof, but can not tell whence it comes and where it goes: So is every one that is born of the Spirit." The original of winds is a question of great difficulty in philosophy: We hear the voice of the wind, feel its mighty force, and behold its strange effects; but neither know whence it comes, or where it goes. Ask a man, Do you hear the wind blow? Yes. Do you feel it blow? Yes, very sensibly. Do you see the effects of it, rending and overturning the trees? Yes, very plainly. But can you describe its nature, or declare its original? No, that is a mystery which I do not understand. Why just so it is with him that is born of the Spirit. The holy Spirit of God, whose nature and operations we understand but little of, comes from Heaven, quickens and influences our souls, beats down and mortifies our lusts by his Almighty Power: These effects of the Spirit in us we experimentally feel, and sensibly discern: But how the Spirit of God first entered into, and quickened our souls, and produced this new creature in them, we understand little more of it than how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child, Ecclesiastes 11:5. Therefore is the life of the new creature called a hidden life, Colossians 3:3. The nature of that life is not only hidden totally from all carnal men, but in a very great measure it is an hidden and unknown life unto spiritual men, though themselves be the subjects of it.

SECONDLY, But though this life of the new creature be a great mystery, and secret in some respects; yet so far as it is known, and appears unto us, the new creature is the most beautiful and lovely creature that ever God made; for the beauty of the Lord himself is upon it: "The new man is created after God," Ephesians 4:24. As the picture is drawn after the man, it is a draught of God himself delineated by the Spirit, that admirable Artist, upon the soul of man. Holiness is the beauty and glory of God; and in holiness the new creature is created after God's own image, Colossians 3:10. The regenerate soul hereby becomes holy, 1 John 3:3. not essentially holy, as God is, nor yet efficiently holy; for the regenerate soul can neither make itself, nor others holy: But the life of the new creature may be said to resemble the life of God in this, that as God lives to himself, so the new creature wholly lives to God; as God loves holiness, and hates the contrary, so does the new creature; it is in these things formed after the image of God that created it. When God creates this creature in the soul of man, we are said then to be "partakers of the divine nature," 2 Peter 1:4. So that there can be nothing communicated unto men which beautifies and adorns their souls as this new creation does: Men do not resemble God as they are noble, and as they are rich, but as they are holy: no gift, no endowment of nature embellishes the soul as this new creature does: An awful Majesty sits upon the brow of the new creature, commanding the greatest and worst of men to do homage to it, Mark 6:20. Yes, such is the beauty of the new creature, that Christ, its author, is also its admirer, Canticles 4:2. "You have ravished mine heart with one of your eyes."

THIRDLY, This new creature is created in man, upon the highest design that ever any work of God was wrought: the end of its creation and infusion is high and noble: salvation to the soul in which it is wrought; this is both the finis operis, and the finis operantis: It is the design both of the work and of the workman that wrought it. When we receive the end of our faith, we receive the salvation of our souls; salvation is the end of faith: as death is the end of sin, so life eternal is the end of grace. The new creature does, by the instinct and steady direction of its own nature, take its course as directly to God, and to Heaven, the place of its full enjoyment, as the rivers do to the ocean; it declares itself to be made for God, by its restless workings after him; and as salvation is the end of the new creature, so it is the express design and end of him that created it. 2 Corinthians 5:5. "Now he who has wrought us for the self-same thing, is God;" by this workmanship of his upon our souls, he is now polishing, preparing, and "making them meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light," Colossians 1:12.

FOURTHLY, This new creation is the most necessary work that ever God wrought upon the soul of man: the eternal well-being of his soul depends upon it; and without it no man shall see God, Hebrews 12:14. and John 1:3, 5. "Except you be regenerate, and born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God." Can you be saved without Christ? You know you cannot. Can you have interest in Christ without the new creature? My text expressly tells you it can never be; for, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature." O reader, whatever slight thoughts of this matter, and with what a careless and unconcerned eye soever you read these lines; yet know you must either be a new creature, or a miserable and damned creature for ever. If civility without the new creature could save you, why are not the moral Heathens saved also? If strictness of life without the new creature could save you, why did it not save the Scribes and Pharisees also? If an high profession of religion without the new creature can save you, why did it not save Judas, Hymeneus and Philetus also? Nothing is more evident than this, that no repentance, obedience, self-denial, prayers, tears, reformations or ordinances, without the new creation, avail anything to the salvation of your soul: The very blood of Christ himself, without the new creature, never did, and never will save any man. Oh how necessary a work is the new creation! "Circumcision avails nothing, and uncircumcision nothing: but a new creature."

FIFTHLY, The new creature is a marvelous and wonderful creature: there are many wonders in the first creation, "The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein," Psalm 111:2. But there are no wonders in nature, like those in grace. Is it not the greatest wonder that ever was seen in the world, (except the incarnation of the Son of God) to see the nature and temper of man so altered and changed as it is by grace? to see lascivious Corinthians, and idolatrous Ephesians, become mortified and heavenly Christians? to see a fierce and cruel persecutor, become a glorious confessor and sufferer for Christ? Galatians 1:23. to see the carnal mind of man, which was lately fully set in a strong bent to the world, to be wholly taken off from its lusts, and set upon things that are spiritual and heavenly? Certainly it was not a greater miracle to see dead Lazarus come out of his sepulcher, than it is to see the dead and carnal mind coming out of its lusts to embrace Jesus Christ; it was not a greater wonder to see the dead and dry bones in the valley to move and come together, than it is to see a dead soul moving after God, and moving to Christ in the way of faith.

SIXTHLY, The new creature is an immortal creature, a creature that shall never see death, John 4:14. it is in the soul of man, a well of water, springing up unto eternal life. I will not adventure to say, it is immortal in its own nature, for it is but a creature, as my text calls it; and we know, that essential interminability is the incommunicable property of God: The new creature has both a beginning and succession; and therefore might also have an end, as to anything in itself, or its own nature. Experience also shows us, that it is capable both of increasing and decreasing, and may be brought near unto death, Revelation 3:2. The work of the Spirit in believers, may be ready to die; but though its perpetuity flow not out of its own nature, it flows out of God's covenant and promises, which make it an immortal creature: when all other excellencies in man go away, as at death they will, Job 4:21. this excellency only remains: our gifts may leave us, our friends leave us, our estates leave us, but our graces will never leave us; they ascend with the soul (in which they inhere) into glory, when the stroke of death separates it from the body.

Seventhly, The new creature is an heavenly creature; "It is not born of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God," John 1:13. its descent and original is heavenly, it is spirit born of spirit, John 3:6. its center is Heaven, and thither are all its tendencies, Psalm 63:8. its proper food, on which it lives, are heavenly things, Psalm 4:6, 7. It cannot feed, as other creatures do, upon earthly things; the object of all its delight and love is in Heaven, Psalm 73:26. "Whom have I in Heaven but you?" The hopes and expectations of the new creature are all from Heaven; it looks for little in this world, but waits for the coming of the Lord. The life of the new creature upon earth, is a life of patient waiting for Christ; his desires and longings are after Heaven, Philippians 1:23. The flesh indeed lingers, and would delay, but the new creature hastens, and would gladly be gone, 2 Corinthians 5:2. It is not at home while it is here; it came from Heaven, and cannot be quiet, nor suffer the soul, in which it dwells, to be so, until it comes thither again.

Eighthly, The new creature is an active and laborious creature; no sooner is it born, but it is acting in the soul. Acts 9:6. Behold he prays! Activity is its very nature. Galatians 5:25. "If we live in the Spirit, let us walk in the Spirit." Nor is it to be admired, that it should be always active and stirring in the soul, seeing activity in obedience was the very end for which it was created. "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works," Ephesians 2:10. and he who is acted in the duties of religion, by this principle of the new creature, or nature, will (so far as that principle acts him) delight to do the will of God; rejoice in the way of his commandment, and find the sweetest pleasure in the paths of duty.

Ninthly, The new creature is a thriving creature, growing from strength to strength, 1 Peter 2:2. and changing the soul in which it is subjected, from glory unto glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18. The vigorous tendencies, and constant striving of this new creature, are to attain its just perfection and maturity, Philippians 3:11. It can endure no stints and limits to its desire, short of perfection; every degree of strength it attains, does but whet and sharpen its desires after higher degrees: Upon this account, it greatly delights in the ordinances of God, duties of religion, and society of the saints; as they are helps and improvements to it, in order to its great design.

Tenthly, The new creature, is a creature of wonderful preservations: There are many wonders of divine providence in the preservation of our natural lives, but none like those whereby the life of the new creature is preserved in our souls: There are critical times of temptation and desertion, in which it is ready to die, Revelation 3:2. the degrees of its strength and liveliness, are sometimes sadly abated, and its sweet and comfortable workings intermitted, Revelation 2:4. the evidences by which its being in us was accustomed to be discovered, may be, and often are darkened, 2 Pet.1:9. and the soul in which it is may draw very sad conclusions about the issue and event; concluding its life not only to be hazarded, but quite extinguished, Psalm 51:10, 11, 12. but though it be ready to die, God wonderfully preserves it from death; it has as well its reviving, as its fainting seasons. And thus you see, what are the lovely and eximious properties of the new creature. In the next place,

FOURTHLY, We will demonstrate the necessity of this new creation to all that are in Christ, and by him expect to attain salvation; and the necessity of the new creature will appear divers ways.

FIRST, From the positive and express will of God, revealed in scriptures, touching this matter: Search the scriptures, and you shall find God has laid the whole stress and weight of your eternal happiness, by Jesus Christ, upon this work of the Spirit in your souls. So our Savior tells Nicodemus, John 3:5. "Truly, truly, I say unto you, except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." Agreeable whereunto are those words of the apostle, Hebrews 12:14. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." And whereas some may think, that their birth-right privileges, enjoyment of ordinances, and profession of religion, may commend them to God's acceptance, without this new creation; he shows them how fond and ungrounded all such hopes are. Galatians 6:15. "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." Christ and Heaven are the gifts of God, and he is at liberty to bestow them, upon what terms and conditions he pleases: and this is the way, the only way, and stated method in which he will bring men, by Christ, unto glory. Men may raze out the impressions of these things from their own hearts, but they can never alter the settled course and method of salvation. Either we must be new creatures, as the precept of the word command us, or lost, and damned creatures, as the threatenings of the word plainly tell us.

SECONDLY, This new creation, is the inchoative part of that great salvation which we expect through Christ, and therefore, without this, all hopes and expectations of salvation must vanish. Salvation, and renovation, are inseparably connected. Our glory in Heaven, if we rightly understand its nature, consists in two things; namely, our assimilation to God, and our fruition of God: and both these take their beginning and rise from our renovation in this world. Here we begin to be changed into his image, in some degree, 2 Corinthians 3:18. for the new man is created after God, as was opened above. In the work of grace, God is said to begin that good work, which is to be finished, or consummated, in the day of Christ, Philippians 1:6. Now nothing can be more irrational, than to imagine that ever that design, or work should be finished or perfected, which never had a beginning.

THIRDLY, So necessary is the new creation to all that expect salvation by Christ, that without this, Heaven would be no Heaven, and the glory thereof no glory to us, by reason of the unsuitableness and aversion of our carnal minds thereunto; "The carnal mind is enmity against God," Romans 8:7. and enmity is exclusive of all delight and delight. There is a necessity of a suitable and agreeable frame of heart to God, in order to that complacential rest of our souls in him: And this agreeable temper is wrought by our new creation, 2 Corinthians 5:5. "He who has wrought us for the self-same thing, is God." Renovation, you see, is the working or molding of a man's spirit into an agreeable temper, or as it is in Colossians 1:12. the making of us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light.

From all which, it follows, that seeing there can be no complacence, or delight in God, without suitableness and conformity to him, as it is plain, from 1 John 3:2. as well as from the reason and nature of the thing itself; either God must become like us, suitable to our sinful, corrupt and vain hearts, which were but a rude blasphemy once to imagine; or else we must be made agreeable and suitable to God, which is the very thing I am now proving the necessity of.

FOURTHLY, There is an absolute necessity of the new creature to all that expect interest in Christ, and the glory to come, since all the characters, marks, and signs of such an interest, are constantly taken from the new creature wrought in us. Look over all the marks and signs of interest in Christ, or salvation by him, which are dispersed through the scriptures, and you shall still find purity of heart, Matthew 5:8. Holiness both in principle and practice, Hebrews 12:14. Mortification of sin, Romans 8:13. Longing for Christ's appearance, 2 Timothy 4:8. with multitudes more of the same nature, to be constantly made the marks and signs of our salvation by Christ. So that either we must have a new bible, or a new heart; for if these scriptures be the true and faithful words of God, no unrenewed creature can see his face; which was the fourth thing to be opened.

FIFTHLY, The last thing to be opened is, how the new creation is an infallible proof and evidence of the soul's interest in Christ; and this will appear divers ways.

FIRST, Where all the saving graces of the Spirit are, there interest in Christ must needs be certain; and where the new creature is, there all the saving graces of the Spirit are: For what is the new creature but the frame or system of all special saving graces? It is not this or that particular grace, as faith, or hope, or love to God, which constitutes the new creature; for these are but as so many particular limbs or branches of it; but the new creature is comprehensive of all the graces of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22, 23. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, joy, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance," etc. Any one of the saving, special graces of the Spirit gives proof of our interest in Christ: how much more, then, the new creature, which is the complex frame or system of all the graces together?

SECONDLY, To conclude; Where all the causes of a saving interest in Christ are found, and all the effects and fruits of a saving interest in Christ do appear; there, undoubtedly, a real interest in Christ is found: but wherever you find a new creature, you find all the causes and all the effects of a saving interest in Christ: For there you shall find,

FIRST, The impulsive cause, namely, The electing love of God, from which the new creature is inseparable, 1 Peter 1:2. with the new creature also, the meritorious, efficient, and final causes of interest in Christ, and union with him, are ever found, Ephesians 2:10. chapter 1:4, 5, 6.

SECONDLY, All the effects and fruits of interest in Christ are found in the new creature; there are all the fruits of obedience, for we are created in Christ Jesus unto good works, Ephesians 2:10. Romans 7:4. there is true spiritual opposition to sin. 1 John 5:18. "He who is begotten of God, keeps himself, and that wicked one touches him not." There is love to the people of God; 1 John 4:7. "Every one that loves is born of God." There is a conscientious respect to the duties of both tables; for the new creature is created after God in righteousness and true holiness, Ephesians 4:25. There is perseverance in the ways of God to the very end, and victory over all temptations; for whoever is born of God, overcomes the world, 1 John 5:4. It were easy to run over all other particular fruits of our union with Christ, and show you every one of them in the new creature. And thus much of the doctrinal p