A Cabinet of Choice Jewels, or,
A Box of Precious Ointment
By Thomas Brooks, 1669
III. Thirdly, If your OBEDIENCE is the obedience of faith—then your estate is good—then you have assuredly an infallible work of God upon your souls.
Question. But how shall we know whether our obedience is the obedience of faith or not? How may a man discern when his obedience springs from saving faith?
Answer. You may certainly know whether your obedience is the obedience of faith or no, by these following particulars:
[1.] First, That obedience which springs from saving faith—is a FULL obedience, a UNIVERSAL obedience.David did look upon his universal obedience as a special testimony of his uprightness: Psalm 119:6, "Then shall I not be ashamed—when I have respect unto all your commandments." Mark! the psalmist does not say, When I obey all your commandments—then shall I not be ashamed. But, "When I have a respect to all your commandments—then shall I not be ashamed." Now a respect to all God's commandments notes an inward awe and reverential eye towards every duty which God requires. The words, according to the Hebrew, may be read thus: "Then shall I not blush—when my eye is to all your commandments." Now you know the traveler has his eye towards the place where he is going, and though he is short of it—yet he is still a-going on and pressing forwards, all he can to reach it.
Just so, when the eye of a saint is to all the commands of God, and he is still a-pressing forwards towards full obedience, such a soul shall never be put to the blush; such a soul shall never be ashamed in the great day of our Lord Jesus. So Acts 13:22, "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after my own heart, which shall fulfill all my will;" the Greek is, all my wills, to note the sincerity and universality of his obedience. So Acts 24:16, "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men." So Heb. 13:18, "We trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly." That obedience which springs from saving faith, does neither dispute divine commands, nor divide divine commands one from another. Zacharias and Elizabeth "were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly," Luke 1:5-6.
That obedience which springs from saving faith is a full obedience, a universal obedience. It is universal in respect of the subject, the whole man, and it is universal in respect of the object, the whole law. Mark! he who obeys sincerely obeys universally, though not in regard of practice, which is impossible. Yet,
(1.) In regard of his WILL and DESIRES.His will and desire is to obey all: Romans 8:18, "For to will is present with me." Psalm 119:5, "Oh that my ways were directed to keep your statutes!"
(2.) In respect of ELECTION or CHOICE.He chooses to obey all: Psalm 119:173, "Let your hand help me: for I have chosen your precepts." The word here rendered chosen signifies to choose upon trial and examination: I have chosen your precepts before all, and above all other things. [The word notes a careful and diligent choice, upon good trial and proof.] I have chosen your precepts for my chief good, and for my only treasure. I have chosen your precepts—to own them, to follow them, and to obey them.
(3.) In respect of APPROBATION.He approves of all the commands of God, as holy, just, and good; he highly approves of those royal commands that he cannot perfectly obey: Romans 7:12, "Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good." And verse 16, "I consent unto the law that it is good." He assents to the commands of God as holy, and he consents to them as good.
(4.) In respect of AFFECTION.He loves all the commands of God, he dearly loves those very commands that he cannot obey: Psalm 119:97, "O how I love your law!" Such a pang of love he felt, as could not otherwise be vented—but by this glowing exclamation, "Oh how love I your law!" Verse 113, "I hate vain thoughts—but your law do I love." Verse 163, "I hate and abhor lying—but your law do I love." Verse 119, "You put away all the wicked of the earth like dross: therefore I love your testimonies." Verse 127, "Therefore I love your commandments above gold, yes, above fine gold." Verse 159, "Consider how I love your precepts." Verse 167, "My soul has kept your testimonies; and I love them exceedingly."
(5.) In respect of VALUATION or ESTEEM.He highly values all the commands of God, he highly prizes all the commands of God, as you may see by comparing these scriptures together: Psalm 119:72, 127-128, Psalm 19:8-11, Job 23:12.
(6.) In respect of his PURPOSE and RESOLUTION.He purposes and resolves, by divine assistance, to obey all, to keep all: Psalm 119:106, "I have sworn, and will perform it, that I will keep your righteous judgments." Psalm 17:3, "I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress."
(7.) In respect of his INCLINATION.He has an habitual inclination in him to keep all the commands of God: 1 Kings 8:57-58, 2 Chron. 30:17-20; Psalm 119:112, "I have inclined my heart to perform your statutes always, even to the end."
(8.) In respect of ENDEAVORS.He endeavors to keep all: Psalm 119:59, "I turned my feet unto your testimonies." There is no man who obeys God truly, who does not endeavor to obey God fully. And thus you see in what respect that obedience which flows from saving faith is a full obedience, a universal obedience. A child of God obeys all the commands of God in respect of his sincere desires, purposes, resolutions, and endeavors; and this God accepts in Christ for perfect and complete obedience. This is the glory of the covenant of grace—that God accepts and esteems of sincere obedience as perfect obedience. Such who sincerely endeavor to keep the whole law of God—they do keep the whole law of God in an evangelical sense, though not in a legal sense.
In the work of conversion, God infuses all grace together, and writes not one particular law in the hearts of his children—but the whole law, which is a universal principle, inclining the soul impartially to all, Ezek. 11:19-20. The gracious soul sincerely falls in with every command of God, so far as he knows it, without prejudice or partiality; he dares not pick and choose what commands to obey, and what to reject, as hypocrites do; he has an eye to see, an ear to hear, and a heart to obey the first table as well as the second; and the second as well as the first. He does not adhere to the first, and neglect the second, as hypocrites do; neither does he adhere to the second, and despise the first, as profane men do.
[The rule is good and true, he who serves and obeys God for God's sake, will equally obey all that God commands him. No one command is unjust or unreasonable, to him whose heart is upright in obedience, etc.]
All Sauls, Jehus, Judases, Demases, scribes, pharisees, and temporaries—they are still partial in their obedience; for while they yield obedience to some commands, they live in the habitual breach of other commands, Mat. 23:23. Jehu boastingly calls out, "Come, see my zeal for the Lord Almighty," 2 Kings 10:29-30. But if Jehoshaphat had gone a little further, he might have seen his calves too, contrary to God's commands. Herod heard John Baptist gladly, and did many things. But if John will be close and plain with him, he shall then first lose his liberty, and then his head for his labor, Mark 6:16-17. A sincere Christian loves all the known commands of God, and prizes all the commands of God, and sees a divine image, majesty, and authority stamped upon all the commands of God. And therefore the main bent and disposition of his soul is to obey all, and to be subject to all the commands of God. Let me in a few particulars open this great truth a little more fully to you. And therefore take me thus.
First, A sincere Christian will endeavor to obey God in suffering commands as well as in doing commands; in losing as well as gaining commands.An unsound Christian, he loves cheap obedience; he is willing to fall in with those commands which are not chargeable or costly; he loves a cheap gospel, and a cheap ministry, and a cheap membership, and a cheap communion of saints, etc. But when his obedience comes to be chargeable, when his obedience to divine commands may cost him his health, his strength, his liberty, his riches, his estate, his friends, his credit, his name, etc., then he retires, then he cries out, It is a hard saying, who can bear it? John 6:60. This is a hard commandment, who can obey it?
When religion is attended with freedom, honor, and safety; when religion is attended with riches, pleasures, and applause—then unsound hearts will put forwards. But when these part, then they bid religion farewell. As you see in the young man in the Gospel, who was willing to follow Christ so long as he might be no loser in following of him, Mat. 19:20-25. But when it came to this—that he must part with his riches or with Christ—then he gives up, and goes away sorrowful, because he had great possessions. But now a sincere Christian will obey even the most chargeable and costly commands of God, as you may see in that little book of martyrs, and the tenth and eleventh chapters of the Hebrews. And as you may see in the three children in Daniel, in the disciples, in the primitive Christians, and in the martyrs in the Marian days. Mat. 19:27, "We have left everything to follow you!" But,
Secondly, If your obedience springs from true faith—then you will endeavor to obey God in relative commands as well as in absolute commands.A true Christian will endeavor to obey God in home duties. He will not only attend church, and pray, and read Scripture, and meditate, and fast--but he will labor to be godly in domestic relationships.
This is very applicable to many high professors this day, who are very forward in the general duties of religion, and yet make little conscience of relative duties. But he whose obedience springs from true faith—he will make conscience of relative commands as well as of absolute commands. Whatever command has the stamp of God, the authority of heaven, upon it, though it seems ever so small—he dares not disobey it. If he sees a beam of divine majesty sitting upon the face of any command, he will submit to it. You know men will not refuse a penny if the king's stamp is upon it; so if the authority of God is stamped upon the least command, a sound Christian will yield subjection to it as well as the greatest command. Mark, if a man makes no conscience of relative commands, though his general life as a Christian be ever so admirable—yet he has great cause to suspect himself and his estate, and that his heart is not right in the sight of God, Acts 8:21.
Oh that you would seriously consider that domestic graces and duties better demonstrate true piety and godliness, than public or general duties do. For pride, reputation, love of praise, and a hundred other carnal ulterior motives--may cause a man to shine in the general duties of religion, as you may see in the these Scriptures, [Isaiah 58:1-5; Hosea 5:14; Zech. 7:4-7] and as you may see in the scribes and Pharisees throughout the New Testament. But it argues both heart-sincerity and strength of grace, to be diligent and conscientious in the discharge of domestic duties. And this is the true reason why the apostles in their epistles do so frequently, so earnestly, and so strongly, by variety of motives, press Christians to the performance of their home duties. But,
Thirdly, If your obedience springs from saving faith—then you will endeavor to obey God in affirmative commands, as well as in negative commands.You will not only look upon what God would not have you to do—but you will also look to see what God would have you to do. Dives was not cast into hell for oppressing Lazarus—but for not showing mercy to Lazarus. He was not damned because he took anything from him—but because he gave nothing to him, Luke 16:19-29. The evil servant did not riot out his talent—but omitted the improvement of it, for which he was cast into outer darkness, Mat. 25:24-31. Those reprobates in the same chapter did not rob the poor saints—but omitted the relieving of them, which was their ruin. Moab and Ammon were banished the sanctuary to the tenth generation for a mere omission, because they met not God's Israel in the wilderness with bread and water, Deut. 23:3-4.
Look! as the omission of good diet breeds diseases, so the omission of religious duties will either make work for repentance, or for hell, or for the Physician of souls. Mark, there is many a man's religion lies merely in negatives; he is no swearer, no drunkard, no adulterer, no oppressor, no defrauder, etc. Luke 18:11, "God, I thank you that I am not like other men--robbers, evildoers, adulterers." A formal professor's obedience to divine commands does principally lie in negatives. He considers not so much what the command requires—as what it prohibits; and he pleases himself rather in abstaining from evil—than in doing of good; in being outwardly reformed—than in being inwardly renewed. He thinks it enough that he turns from sin—though he makes no conscience of turning to God. If you ask him concerning affirmative commands, there you will find him speechless. Ask him, "Are you holy? Are you humble? Are you heavenly? Are you sincere? Are you a believer? Do you set up God as the great object of your fear? Do you love God with a superlative love?" etc. Now here you strike him dumb; he looks upon the neglect of these things as no sins, because they are not such scandalous sins as the other things are, Isaiah 8:13, Psalm 18:1, Isaiah 58:13. Remember, sirs, sinful omissions many times lead to sinful commissions, as you may see in the angels that fell from heaven to hell. And as you may see in Adam, who fell from his highest glory into a woeful gulf of sin and misery. But,
Fourthly, If your obedience springs from saving faith—then you will endeavor to obey God in the spirit of the command, as well as in the letter of the command.In every command of God there is an inner aspect and an outer aspect; one part of Christ's law binds the flesh, and another part binds the spirit: "You shall do no murder;" there is the letter of the command. "You shall not be angry with your brother without a cause;" there is the spirit of the command. "You shall not commit adultery;" there is the letter of the command. "You shall not look upon a woman to lust after her;" there is the spirit of the command, Mat. 5:21-22, 27-28.
The pharisees of old did not look to the spirituality of the law—but only to the letter of the law; they rested wholly upon an outward conformity to the law. When their hearts were full of hellish lusts, they were all for the letter of the law, they regarded not the inside of the law. They were all for washing of platters and cups, and for beautifying of tombs, like an adulteress, whose care is to paint and set a fair face upon a foul heart. They were all for paying tithe of mint and anise and cummin. But they regarded not the inside of the law, they omitted the weightier matters of the law, namely, judgment, mercy, and faith, Mat. 23:23.
While Paul walked by the letter of the command, he was blameless in his own account. But when he came to walk by the spirit of the command, then sin revived, and he died, Philip. 3:6, Romans 7:9. Friends, there are the more general duties of religion—such as hearing, praying, reading, fasting, discoursing, etc. Now these all lie in the very letter of the command. And there are the more inward and spiritual duties of religion—such as the exercise of faith, fear, love, hope, joy, patience, contentment, humble submission, and choosing of God, and cleaving to God, and delighting in God, and admiring of God, and exalting of God, and following hard after God, and holy meditation, and self-examination, etc. Now all these lie in the very spirit of the command. [Could a man come up to all affirmative and negative precepts in his outward life—yet, if he were not spiritual in all these inward duties, his obedience would be but as a body without a soul. The pharisees rise higher in their outward obedience, and yet Christ clearly and fully shows that they were wretched adulterers and murderers, though they were not guilty of any such outward crimes, etc.]
Now in the exercise of these more spiritual duties, that our fellowship and communion with God mainly lies. In the more general duties of religion—a hypocrite may manifest the excellency of his gifts. But in the more spiritual duties of religion—a sincere Christian does manifest both the excellency and efficacy of grace. Mark, an unsound heart looks no further than to the bare letter of the command, to bare hearing, and bare praying, and bare preaching, and bare fasting, and bare giving, and bare receiving, and bare suffering; he looks no further than to that part of the command which only binds the flesh, or outward man. And if he does but observe that in the main, he thinks he has done marvelously well.
But now, a sound, a sincere Christian, he looks to the spirit of the command. And if he does not come up to that in sincere desires, in gracious purposes, in fixed resolutions, and in cordial endeavors—he can have no peace, no rest, no quiet, no comfort. O sirs! as ever you would see God, and enjoy God another day, you must labor, not only to obey the letter of the command—but also to bring your hearts to the sincere obedience of the spirit of the command. This is a very close, piercing, distinguishing, and discovering sign of saving grace. But,
Fifthly, If your obedience springs from saving faith—then you will labor, not only to obey God in the matter—but also in the manner of the command; not only in the substance of the command—but also in the circumstance of the command.God requires the manner as well as the matter. And God looks upon that work as not done, that is not done in a right manner. "Did not the Lord command sacrifice? and did not Cain offer sacrifice? and yet God had no respect to him, nor to his offering, because his sacrifice was not offered up in a right manner, his offering was not offered up by a hand of faith; he offered his offering—but because he did not offer himself as an offering to God, his offering was rejected by God," Gen. 4:8. [Luther on Genesis.]
A work may be materially good that is not formally and eventually good; and this was Cain's curse. How frequently did God command the Jews to pray? and yet he plainly tells them, "When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; yes, when you make many prayers, I will not hear," Isaiah 1:15. He commanded them to sacrifice, and yet he says, "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices?" verse 11, and all because they did not manage their prayers or sacrifices in a right manner. Their hands were full of blood, and their hearts were full of sins, and their lives were full of lewdness; and therefore all their services were vain oblations, yes, an abomination to God.
An unsound heart looks no further than to the substance of the command. If he has heard, and prayed, and fasted, and read, and repeated, and given alms, and received the Lord's supper; he strokes himself, and blesses himself, and hugs himself, and thinks all is well, and so he looks no further. But a sound sincere Christian, he looks to the circumstance as well as the substance, to the manner as well as to the matter of the command. When he prays, he labors to pray fervently, earnestly; he labors to get his heart into his prayers. When he hears, he will hear with attention and intention of spirit. When he walks, he endeavors to walk wisely, humbly, faithfully, fruitfully, circumspectly, exemplarily, winningly, convincingly, blamelessly. When he obeys, he desires and endeavors to obey freely, willingly, cheerfully. [James 5:17, 18; Micah 6:8; 1 Pet. 2:12, and 3:1-3; 1 Thess. 2:10; 2 Cor. 1:12; Psalm 110:3.]
O sirs! if we pray—yet pray not fervently; if we hear—yet hear not fruitfully; if we obey—yet obey not willingly; if we show mercy—yet do it not cheerfully; all is worth nothing, all will come to nothing, Isaiah 58:13. Mark, there are some circumstances accessory, and some necessary; some wherein the being, and some wherein the well-being of a duty does consist; and if you abstract these from them, the duty is worth nothing. Take away fervency and humility from prayer; take away faithfulness and fruitfulness from hearing; and take away willingness and delight from obedience; and all will be worth nothing. God regards not only the matter—but the manner.
Criton said, That God loved the adverbs better than the nouns. Not to pray only—but to pray heartily; not to merely do duties—but to do them heartily—is the great wisdom of a Christian. What is the sun without light, or the fountain without water, or the body without the soul, or wood without fire, or a gun without a bullet, or a ship without a rudder? No more are words in prayer—without the spirit of prayer. God looks more at the manner than at the matter of your prayers. And let thus much suffice to confirm the first particular. But,
[2.] Secondly, That obedience which springs from saving faith—is an obedience which is only grounded upon the word of God, the commands of God.Psalm 119:4-5, "You have commanded us to keep your precepts diligently. Oh that my ways were directed to keep your statutes!" 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." Mat. 5:18, "For truly I say unto you, Until heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled." John 10:35, "The Scripture cannot be broken." Chapter 12:48, "He who rejects me, and receives not my words, has one who judges him; the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." 2 Tim. 3:16-17, "All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." Now the reasons why that obedience which springs from saving faith is an obedience which is only grounded upon the word of God, the commands of God, are these five:
(1.) And the first is drawn from the supremacy and sovereignty of God—who alone is to prescribe to man his duty.He is our great Lord and Master, he is our only Lord and Lawgiver. Isaiah 33:22, "For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King." James 4:12, "There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy; who are you who judge another?" Now by the laws of this Lord and Lawgiver, we must square all our actions. Look! as it would be very absurd in a servant to do that work which he thinks fit, and not what his master commands; so it is as absurd for men to think, that God will accept of this or that at their hands, when they cannot plead his superscription and authority for what they do. God will one day say to such, "Who has required this at your hands?" Isaiah 1:12. O sirs! you must lay the command of God as a foundation for what you do, or else all your buildings, though ever so glorious, will certainly totter and fall! In all you do, you must be able to say, "Thus says the Lord," or else after you have done your best, you may be undone forever. But,
(2.) Secondly, God's promise and blessing is only annexed to God's command.He who will have the sweet of the promise, and the blessings of heaven—he must look that his obedience be grounded upon divine commands. In holy actions it is not your performance, nor your grace, nor your warmth, nor your zeal—but the command and the promise that is annexed to it, that will bear you out. Therefore we are called children of the promise, and heirs of the promise, Gal. 4:28; Heb. 6:17. The children of God, in all their obedience, should still keep an eye upon the command of God, and the promise of God, as ever they would run the race that is set before them, Heb. 12:1. But,
(3.) Thirdly, Our obedience must be grounded and bottomed upon a divine command, because of that great corruption, pollution, blindness, and darkness which is upon our minds and understandings, which would carry us to what not, if we were not to steer our Christian course by divine commands.Col. 2:20-22. The apostle condemns those things which had a show of humility and great mortification, because they were not grounded upon a divine command. And Christ condemned many practices of the scribes and pharisees, because they were not grounded upon a divine command, as you may see by comparing the 6th, 15th, and 23d chapters of Matthew together. But,
(4.) Fourthly, Our obedience must be bottomed upon a divine command, because else we can never be able to bear up our hearts comfortably, courageously, confidently, and resolutely, under all the afflictions, oppositions, temptations, persecutions, and discouragements that we meet with in the ways of the Lord, and in doing the work of the Lord.Psalm 44:9, seq.; Ezek. 28:12, 22. All the messages that the prophets delivered were still grounded upon a divine command, "Thus says the Lord;" and this steeled their spirits in the work of the Lord, this made them resolute and undaunted in the midst of all the afflictions and oppositions that they met with. And so it was a word of command that raised the spirits and encouraged the hearts of the apostles in the work of the Lord, in the face of all the oppositions, threatenings, and buffetings which they met with from the civil powers, Acts 4:19-20, and 5:29.
You know Absalom lays his bloody commands upon his servants, as their highest encouragement to that bloody work of killing his brother Amnon, 2 Sam. 13:28. "Now Absalom had commanded his servants [his assassins], saying, Mark you now when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say unto you, Smite Amnon, then kill him, fear not: have not I commanded you? Be courageous, and be valiant;" or sons of valor, as the Hebrew runs. And so a Christian must lay the command of God before him, as his highest encouragement to do what God requires of him, etc.
(5.) Fifthly and lastly, Our obedience must be bottomed and grounded upon the commands of God—to difference and distinguish ourselves from all hypocrites, formalists, superstitious and profane people—whose obedience is sometimes bottomed upon the traditions of men, and sometimes upon the commandments of men.It was the sin of the ten tribes of Judah, that they complied with the command of Jeroboam and his princes, to worship the calves at Dan and Bethel; and for this the wrath of the Lord fell heavy upon them. "Ephraim is oppressed, trampled in judgment, intent on pursuing idols." And sometimes their obedience is bottomed upon the examples of men, sometimes their obedience is bottomed upon the examples of their forefathers and ancestors—Jer. 10:3, "The customs of the people are vain," etc.—and sometimes upon the examples of great men. This was that which the pharisees objected against believing on Christ. [Isaiah 29:13-14; Mat. 15:1-10; Mark 7:3-10; Hosea 5:11, 12; Jer. 44:17-18, etc.; John 7:48-49.] "Have any of the rulers or of the pharisees believed on him? but this people who knows not the law are cursed." And sometimes they bottom their obedience upon the example of the multitude. This was Demetrius his argument against Paul, on the behalf of Diana, "that all Asia and the world did worship her," Acts 19:26-27. And therefore the doctrine of Paul, that they are no gods—which are made with hands, was false, and not to be tolerated. This has always been, and is still, the common plea of many, "We do but as the most do—and surely a great many eyes can see more than one or two!" And hereupon they exclaim against others for their singularity, because they won't do as the rest of their neighbors do. But,
[3.] Thirdly, That obedience which springs from saving faith—is a growing obedience, it is an abounding obedience.Such a man's desires, will, study, and labor—is to get up to the highest pitch of obedience, to get up to the highest round in Jacob's ladder: Rev. 2:19, "I know your work, and charity, and service, and faith, and your patience, and your works; and the last to be more than the first." The church of Thyatira is commended,
(1) first, for their love;
(2) for their charity;
(3) for their faith, and
(4) for their patience.
And in the general course of their life, they daily became more excellent; for their "latter works were more than the first," that is, they were more manifest proofs of their constancy, and more worthy of praise than the first. This faithful church is commended for their holy progress in grace and holiness.
So Paul, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12-14. The Greek word emphatically imports a pressing on with an eager pursuit after the mark. It is the same word that signifies to persecute, because the earnestness of his spirit in pressing toward the mark now, is the same that it was in the persecution of those who pressed toward the mark before. Look! as good runners, when they come near unto the finish line, stretch out their heads, and hands, and whole bodies; so Paul in his whole race so labored unto that which was before, as if he were still stretching out his arms to take hold of it.
If such a man might have his choice, he would be the most humble, the most holy, the most heavenly, the most mortified, the most patient, the most contented, the most thankful, the most fruitful, the most active, the most zealous, and the most self-denying Christian in the world, 1 Peter 1:15-16. If he might have his choice, he would be as holy as God is holy; and as perfect as his heavenly father is perfect; he would do the will of God on earth, as those princes of glory, the angels, do it now in heaven, namely—freely, readily, cheerfully, delightfully, universally, reverentially, and unweariedly, etc. If he might have his choice, he would exercise every grace, and perform every duty, with all his might. He sees so much excellency and beauty in God and Christ, that he cannot be at rest until he is swallowed up in the enjoyment of them. He sees so much excellency in grace, that nothing but perfection of grace will satisfy him. He makes perfection not only his utmost end—but he also labors after perfection with his utmost strength and endeavors. When God is made the apex of a man's desires, the apex of a man's affections, the apex of a man's life and comfort—then will he be the apex of a man's endeavors too.
That obedience which springs from saving faith, when it is not wintertime with a Christian, is a fruitful obedience, it is an abounding obedience, it is a progressive obedience. Look! as the mercy and favor of God to a believer is not stinted nor limited—so the obedience of a believer to God is not stinted or limited. But now the obedience of hypocrites is always stinted and limited. This command they will obey—but not that one; this duty they will do—but not that one; this work they will attend—but not that one, etc.
[It is not every believer's happiness always to make a progress in grace. Solomon and Asa, and others, run retrograde for a time. Saints have their winter seasons; they have their decaying times, and withering times, as well as their thriving times, their flourishing times, Rev. 2:4.]
[4.] Fourthly, That obedience which springs from saving faith—is the obedience of a son, not of a slave; it is a free, voluntary, evangelical obedience, and not a legal, servile, and forced obedience.Psalm 110:3, "Your people shall be willing in the day of your power, in the beauties of holiness;" in the Hebrew, it is willingnesses, in the plural number, to show their exceeding great willingness. Psalm 27:8, "When you said, Seek you my face, my heart said unto you, Your face, Lord, will I seek." By face is meant, (1.) God himself: Exod. 20:3, "Before my face," that is, before me. (2.) His favor, Jer. 18:17, "I will show them the back, and not the face, in the day of their calamity." Now, no sooner had God given forth a word of command for the psalmist to seek him, and to seek his favor—but presently his heart did echo to that command: "Your face, Lord, will I seek."
So in Jer. 3:22, "Return, faithless people; I will cure you of backsliding." "Yes, we will come to you, for you are the Lord our God." Every gracious soul has the duplicate of God's law in his heart, and is willingly cast into the mold of his word: Romans 6:17, "You have obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine that has been delivered to you," or whereto you were delivered, as the words may be read. They did not only obey—but they obeyed from the heart, their hearts were in their obedience. Psalm 40:8, "I delight to do your will, O my God! yes, your law is within my heart," or in the midst of my heart, as the Hebrew runs; these note the tenderest affections. There is the counterpart of the law written, yes, printed upon every gracious heart; a godly man will live and die with the law of God stamped upon his heart, Col. 1:12; Philip. 1:8; Jer. 31:33.
O beautiful Apocalypsis! said the martyr, catching up the book of Revelation, which was cast into the same fire with him to be burned. O blessed Revelation! how happy am I to be burned with you in my hands!
It was Christ's food and drink to do his Father's will; and the same mind is in all the saints, as was in Christ Jesus. "They delight in the law of God after the inward man," John 4; Philip. 2:5; Romans 7:22. True obedience flows from principles of heartiness and love within, and not from selfish ends, which are carnal and worldly. It is observable, that Jehu's obedience was as ample and as large as God's command: 2 Kings 10:30, "And the Lord said unto Jehu, because you have done well in executing that which is right in my eyes, and have done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." And yet because his heart was not in his obedience, and because he did not purely act for God—but for himself, that he might bring about his own designs, he met with a revenge instead of a reward; as you may see in Hosea 1:4, "And the Lord said unto him, Call his name Jezreel, for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu." Jehu's heart was not in his obedience; for though he rooted out Baal worship—yet the golden calves must still continue. He destroyed idolaters—but not idolatry. And this carnal policy brought down vengeance and misery upon him and his posterity.
Artaxerxes goes far: Ezra 7:23, "Whatever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done." To what a height does this heathen prince rise! He will do anything for God, he will do everything for God that he requires. But mark, what is that which moves him to it? Is it love to God? is it delight in God? Oh no! all his obedience proceeded from nothing but fear of wrath and vengeance, as is evident in the latter part of the verse: "For why should there be wrath upon the realm of the king, and of his sons?" or, as the Hebrew runs, Why should there be boiling or foaming anger, great indignation? as it is rendered and made the utmost degree of divine displeasure in Deut. 29:28. Some read these words, "Against the realm of the king and his sons," as distinct one from another, and not depending one upon another; thus: Against the realm, the king and his sons; and this reading the original will bear. And this reading shows, that as the king feared God's wrath against himself, so also against his realm and children. And accordingly he was the more studious and careful to escape it. Blind nature was afraid of divine wrath, and therefore was the more sedulous to prevent it.
Oh! but now a true child of God, he has the law of God written, not only in his understanding—but also in his heart and affections. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances." Ezekiel 36:26-27. And this is that which makes his obedience to be pleasing and delightful to him; so that if he might be free from the injunctions and directions of the word, he would not value such a liberty, Exod. 21:4-6, etc.; he would not swear, nor lie, nor be drunk, nor whore, nor dissemble, nor cheat, nor run into all excess of riot if he might—because in his soul he has a principle of grace, and an inward contrariety and antipathy against it. He would not cease to hear, to read, to pray, to meditate if he might—because his soul takes a pleasure and sweet delight in these things. There is a principle within him agreeable to the precepts of Scripture, which makes all pious performances to be easy and pleasurable to him.
Look! as the eye delights in seeing, and the ear in hearing, so a gracious heart (except when it is under a cloud of desertion, or in the school of temptation, or under some grievous tormenting afflictions, or sadly worsted by some prevalent corruption) delights in obedience. Actions of nature, you know, are actions of delight; and so are all those actions that spring from a new nature, a divine nature, etc.
[5.] Fifthly, That obedience which springs from saving faith is a transforming obedience.It mightily alters and changes a man; from impurity to purity, from sin to sanctity, from unrighteousness to righteousness, from earthly-mindedness to heavenly-mindedness, from pride to humility, from hypocrisy to sincerity, etc., 2 Cor. 3:18, Romans 12:1-2. Such as please themselves with this, that they are no changelings, and that they are whatever they were, these are still in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity, Acts 8:23. That obedience of the Romans, which was said to have come abroad unto all men, was an exemplary obedience, and a transforming obedience, Romans 16:19. Certainly, gospel-obedience is a grace of much worth, and of great force upon the whole man; for when it is once wrought in the heart, it works a conformity to all God's holy will. "Thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted." Romans 6:17. But having spoken more largely of this in my other writings, let this touch here suffice, etc.
[6.] Sixthly, That obedience which springs from saving faith—is a constant obedience; it is a fixed and resolved obedience.Not in respect of practice and continued acts, "for in many things we all stumble." "There is not a just man upon the earth, who does good and sins not." "Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from my sin?" "There is no man who sins not." "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us," etc. [James 3:2; Eccles. 7:20; Proverbs 20:9; 1 Kings 8:46; 1 John 1:8; Psalm 17:3.] But in respect of a Christian's sincere desires, bent of will, purpose of heart, resolution of soul, and faithful endeavors: Psalm 119:20, "My soul is consumed with longing for your laws at all times." Verse 112, "My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end." Verse 33, "Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I shall keep it unto the end." Job 17:9, "The righteous shall hold on his way; and he who has clean hands shall be stronger and stronger." So Isaiah 40:29-31, Job 2:3. Mark, the renewed man has at all times a desire to fear the name of the Lord, Neh. 1:11; a will to live honestly at all times, Heb. 13:18. And it has some endeavors and exercise of spirit, to keep always a conscience void of offence towards God and men, Acts 24:16.
The Israelites, in their marches toward the holy land, were many times interrupted by divers enemies—but yet they advanced in their course, as soon as they could get rid of their enemies. Just so, though the believer is many times interrupted, in the course of his obedience, by many fierce temptations, and strange working of corruptions—yet after the temptation is over, the believer returns to the course of obedience with greater resolution, and with redoubled strength and courage, and in the end perfects his course of holiness in the fear of the Lord, 2 Cor. 7:1.
Mark, the apparent motion and walking of an unregenerate man in a way of righteousness and holiness—is but artificial, from the motives of hypocrisy and self-interest, (like the flying of Architus' artificial dove,) and having no inward principle of life, it endures not. But the motion and walking of a man renewed by grace in ways of holiness and righteousness, is like the natural living motion of birds, it continues as long as life continues. And as everything in motion, the nearer it comes to the center, the more swiftly it moves; so the nearer the believer moves to his rest in heaven, the more inclined he is in all his motions towards God; "he forgets the things which are behind, and reaches forth unto those things which are before," Philip. 3:13.
That obedience which springs from saving faith is a fixed and resolved obedience; like David's worthies, it will break through a multitude of Philistines, through an army of difficulties, impediments, and discouragements, that it may be found doing the will of God. To make this a little more clearly and fully out, observe with me these few things:
First, No contrary commands of men, shall take this man off from his obedience to the commands of God.Acts 4:19, and 5:29, etc.
Secondly, No stream of evil examples, no current of corrupt times, shall bear them down in ways of obedience.Joshua 24:15, "I and my household will serve the Lord, though all Israel should serve idols." And Noah was upright with God, and walked with God in his generation, when the whole world was overspread with violence, and all flesh had corrupted their ways, Gen. 6:9, and 7:1.
Thirdly, No worldly profit or advantage shall bribe this man from his obedience.Heb. 11:8. Abraham will obey and follow God, though he forsakes all the benefits and contentments of his native country, and of his father's house, not knowing where his lot should fall, etc.
Fourthly, No carnal disputes or reasonings with flesh and blood shall dissuade him from his obedience.Heb. 11:7. Noah might have raised many objections against that strange attempt of building an ark—a work of a hundred and twenty years' continuance. But Noah waves all disputes, and falls upon building of the ark, according to the command of God. Just so Paul, as soon as he was converted, he was commanded by God to preach to the Gentiles; he might have made abundance of objections against that service—but instead of objecting, he falls close to his Master's work, and never consults with flesh and blood, Gal. 1:15-17.
Fifthly, No flood of natural affection shall hinder them in the way of their obedience.When God commanded Abraham to offer up Isaac as a burnt-offering, he goes about it readily, and never acquaints Sarah with it, lest she should have hindered him in his obedience, and he goes three days' journey to effect it, Gen. 22 compared with Heb. 11:17-19. When God commands, Abraham will not stick at it, though the command is to offer up a son, a natural son, and not an adopted son; an only son, and not one of many; a son of the free-woman, and not of the bond-woman; a son of his old age; a son of the promise; a son in whom all the nations of the earth should be blessed; a son of his love and delight; a son who made the good old man laugh and be merry—Isaac signifies laughter—a son who was grown up to some years; witness the wood of the burnt-offering that he carried, Gen. 22:6-7.
And this was the commendation of Levi: Deut. 33:8-9, "And of Levi, Moses said, Let your Thummim and your Urim be with your holy one" [Urim and Thummim signify light and perfection, according to their best derivation in the Hebrew tongue, and they are here put in the plural number, lights and perfections, to note the plenty as well as the excellency of divine graces,] "You tested him at Massah; you contended with him at the waters of Meribah. He said of his father and mother, 'I have no regard for them.' He did not recognize his brothers or acknowledge his own children, but he watched over your word and guarded your covenant." [By Urim and Thummim, some understand sincerity of life, and soundness of doctrine.] This relates to that heroical fact of the Levites, Exod. 32:26-29, when, at the commandment of Moses, they slew their idolatrous brethren who had worshiped the golden calf, not sparing those who were most nearly allied to them—but did execute God's judgments upon parents, brethren, and children, as if they had been mere strangers to them; the Levites were so impartial in God's cause as not to acknowledge either father or mother, brother or children, against his command. Natural affections are strong—but supernatural obedience is stronger. Some have well observed, that the married martyrs, who were parents of many children, as Rogers, Watts, Guest, Rawlins, etc., suffered with most alacrity.
Sixthly, No terrors, no threats, no reproaches, no afflictions, no oppositions, no persecutions, no bonds, no banishments, no dangers, no deaths—shall deter them or affright them from their obedience—as will evidently appear by comparing of these scriptures together, Psalm 44:16-21; Acts 20:23-24, 21:12-13, and 24:14; Dan. 3:14-19; Rev. 12:11. This is most evident in the histories of the ten persecutions, and in all other histories, both of a former and a later date, etc.
Physicians observe a difference between the natural and preternatural heat in men's bodies. The preternatural heat, which arises from distemper, may be more for the present. But as it exceeds for measure, so it abates for time, because the natural heat is a more equal, and moderate, and durable heat; every part has an equal share, and it is not extreme, and yet it continues. Thus it is with hypocrites and upright people in the matter of obedience. The hypocrite may, in a kind of preternatural heat, in a hot fit, in a present heat, fall upon hearing, and reading, and praying, and reforming of his family, and upon leaving of this sin and that, and upon casting off this vain company and that, and upon associating of himself with this good company and that. But this hot fit does not last; the cold fit overtakes him again, and then he bids farewell to all his duties, and loses all his good inclinations, and lays aside all his warm resolutions. Will the hypocrite pray always? Job 27:8-9. Ephraim's goodness was as a morning cloud, which soon vanishes, and as the early dew, which is soon dried up by the sunbeams, Hosea 6:4. They were both false and fickle, unsteady and unstable; constant only in inconstancy. Their hearts were never right with God, for they were not steadfast in his covenant, Psalm 78:36-37.There are four times wherein a hypocrite may express a great readiness and forwardness to religious duties:
(1.) First, When he is under terrors and distress of conscience.Oh, now for a little ease, a little rest, a little quiet, a little comfort—what won't the hypocrite do! etc.
(2.) Secondly, When he is under sore and heavy afflictions.Hosea 5:15, "In their affliction they will seek me early." Isaiah 26:16, "Lord, they came to you in their distress; when you disciplined them." Psalm 78:34, "When he slew them—then they sought him." It is a reproach to some: No plague—no prayer; no punishment—no prayer, etc. So Pharaoh and Ahab, etc.
(3.) Thirdly, When religion is in fashion, when it is a credit to be a professor, and when profession is the highway to profit and preferment. In the warm summer of prosperity, when there is no hazard, no danger, no loss to be a Christian, who then so forward in religious duties as the hypocrite? But when the sun of persecution is up—then he falls away, Mat. 13:5-6.
(4.) Fourthly, When others' presence, counsel, and examples have an influence upon them.Oh, now they keep religious duties! Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord—all the days of Jehoiada the priest. But when Jehoiada was dead, Joash serves groves and idols, and turns a deaf ear to those prophets who testified against him, and gives Zechariah his passport out of the world for speaking against his evil manners, and the wicked courses of his princes and people, 2 Chron. 24:2, 17-23.
While the good judges lived, the Israelites kept close to the service of God: Judges 2:7, "And the people served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the leaders who outlived him—those who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel." But when the good judges were dead, the Israelites did what was right in their own eyes: every man's lust was his law, Judges 17:6, and chapter 21:25.
While Moses was present, there was no talking of a golden calf—but no sooner was his back turned, that the Israelites make a golden calf, and worship it when it was finished! Exod. 32:1-9, etc.
But now mark, that obedience which springs from saving faith, that is a constant obedience. That is constant in opposition to fits and starts, and imports the course and bent of a Christian's life, which is always to walk with, God, to cleave to God, to follow God, and to obey God. But,
[7.] Seventhly and lastly, That obedience which springs from saving faith—is directed to right ENDS.Gospel obedience has always gospel ends attending it.
Question. What are these right ends?
Answer. They are these nine.
(1.) First, To testify our thankfulness to the Lord for all his favors and benefits that we have received from him.Psalm 8:1-4; 116:12, etc.
(2.) Secondly, To recover the image of God again, to the height of what we are able.The first Adam lost the image of God by his disobedience. Now, this image of God we recover again in Christ our second Adam. But so as that the more enlightened, the more holy, the more humble, the more heavenly, the more righteous, the more gracious, and the more obedient we are—the more we recover of this image of God, which consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, Eph. 4:24.
Now, says the believer, my intent is to recover that precious image of God which I lost in the first Adam, and therefore do I labor to come up to the highest pitches of obedience, because the higher I rise in my obedience, the more I shall recover of the lost image of God. I know that I lost this image by partaking of the disobedience and pollution of the first Adam. And I know that I have recovered in part the same image by partaking of the obedience and holiness of the second Adam. And I yet further know that the more holy and obedient I am, the more I shall be like God, who is holiness itself, and the more I shall recover of that blessed image which consists in perfect holiness.
(3.) Thirdly, Not for the justification of their person, for that is only by Christ's complete obedience, which is made theirs by faith.1 Cor. 1:30, Colos. 2:10. But for the manifestation of their justifying faith, according to that of the apostle, James 2:17-18; 26, etc.
(4.) Fourthly, That they may imitate the Lord Jesus Christ, that they may be the more conformable to Christ their head, who proposes his holiness to believers as a pattern for them to follow, as a copy for them to write after.1 John 2:6, "He who says he abides in him, ought himself also to walk even as he walked." Now says the believer, oh how holy, how humble, how heavenly, how meek, how compassionate, how zealous, how exemplary, how convincing, how winning, how obedient was Jesus when in this world! and therefore, O my soul! look to it, that you make it your business, your work, your heaven—to imitate the Lord Jesus to the utmost that you are able to reach to, Mat. 11:28-29.
(5.) Fifthly, Though not for the obtaining of salvation, that being made sure to us by Christ—yet for the obtaining of assurance of salvation, and for the making of our calling and election sure, according to that word, 2 Peter 1:5-11.
(6.) Sixthly, That they may keep up their communion with God; for though the union the saints have with God by Christ depends wholly upon that which is outside of them—namely, their being married to Christ, and clothed with his righteousness—yet the communion which the saints have with God through the Spirit has much dependence upon a saint's walking, and upon his obedience. So that, if a saint shall dare to walk carnally and loosely, though he shall not break the marriage-knot, and lose his union with Christ—yet he will by such sinful practices grieve the Spirit, and lose his communion with God, Jer. 3:14, Isaiah 49:1-2.
But on the other hand, when a believer walks spiritually, graciously, obediently—oh what sweet communion! what delightful communion! what high communion, what commodious communion! what soul-satisfying, soul-ravishing, soul-filling, soul-contenting communion with God, does he then enjoy! When the child walks wisely and obediently before his father—what sweet and delightful converses and communion are there between the father and the child. But if the child walks foolishly, stubbornly, rebelliously, disobediently—the prudent father will behave severely, distantly, and frowningly. Though his heart is still full of love to his child, and though he won't disinherit him—yet he will not be lovingly familiar with him. The application is easy, etc.
(7.) Seventhly, To keep down the body; and to bring it into subjection to the soul.1 Cor. 9:27, "I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should." By spiritual exercises the apostle did subdue his flesh to the obedience and discipline of the Spirit. In former times they had several athletic games, such as wrestling, and running for the prize. Such as were slow, heavy, bulky, and lazy—were dismissed from competing. Those who were admitted to those games kept their bodies under strict control, and did not pamper their bodies with dainties and delicacies. To these the apostle alludes.
From idleness there comes no goodness. When the spirit is not acting in that which is good, that the flesh may be kept under control—the flesh will take an advantage to be very active in those things which are evil. The flesh is like an unruly beast, which through sloth, idleness, and high feeding—grows wild and masterless. Now, the only way to tame this beast is to work him hard; so the way of ways to keep the body under is to keep up the soul as much as may be, in the full exercise of holiness and obedience. Such as have most pampered their bodies—have been the greatest enemies to their own souls. And how many are there this day who pamper their bodies—but starve their souls; who adorn their bodies—but defile their souls; who dress and trim up their bodies with gold, and silver, and silks—while their souls are naked of all grace, holiness, and goodness, like the Laodiceans of old. [Deut. 32:13-17; Jer. 5:7-8, etc.; Rev. 3:16-18.]
The body itself, if you set too high a price upon it, will make a cheap soul. A man may be as happy in rags—as in silk. And he is certainly an unhappy man whose outside is his best side. Our bodies are but dirt handsomely fashioned. We derive our pedigree from the dust, and are akin to clay. And therefore we need not scruple the keeping of it under by holy exercises, and by all ways of gospel obedience, etc.
(8.) Eighthly, To the profit and advantage both of sinners and saints.
[1.] To convince sinners, to silence sinners, and to stop the mouths of sinners. Let but one man who walks wisely, humbly, circumspectly, convincingly, exemplarily, blamelessly, come into a town, a parish, a family; which is made up of drunkards, swearers, whoremasters, etc., and his holy walking will convince them and condemn them, 1 Peter 2:12, 15; chapter 3:13, 16.
[2.] To the profit, advantage, and encouragement of the saints. The strict, exact-walking Christian provokes the slight, loose Christian to mend his ways, and to order his steps and life aright. And the lively active Christian puts the dull, heavy, sluggish Christian to a blush, and spurs and quickens him up to a more lively walking with God. And the warm, flaming, zealous, burning Christian puts heat and warmth into the cold, formal, frozen Christian. And the free, liberal, bountiful Christian provokes others to be free, noble, and liberal for the supply of the necessities of the saints, 2 Cor. 9:1-2; chapter 8:1-4, 19-20, etc.
(9.) The ninth and last, though not the least end—is the honor and glory of the great God.God's grace is the spring, and God's glory is the end of all a Christian's obedience. God's glory is the ultimate end, the primary end, the universal end—the sea to which all a Christian's actions, like so many rivers, move and bend, Romans 14:7-8; Philip. 1:20-21. It is true many poor, low, selfish, base ends may creep into a Christian's performances. But here mark,
[1.] they are disallowed;
[2.] they are loathed and abhorred;
[3.] they are resisted and striven against;
[4.] they are lamented and mourned over;
[5.] the gracious soul would willingly be rid of them.
If a Christian might have his choice, he would never more be troubled with any base or selfish end. Beloved, you must always distinguish between a man's settled and his spasmodic ends. A man's settled end may be one thing, and his spasmodic end another thing. Now forever remember this, that the great God always makes a judgment of men according to their settled ends, according to the universal frame of their spirits, and not according to those spasmodic ends which are influenced by the world, the flesh, or the devil. It is in this case as it may be with a man who shoots at a mark; he aims aright at the mark—but his elbow may meet with a jog, which may carry the arrow quite another way than what he intended. Or as it is with a man who is sailing to such a haven, or to such a harbor, he steers a right course by his compass—but the winds blowing contrary, and the sea running high, he is forced into such a creek, or such a harbor, which he never intended, etc.
Question. Is it requisite, for the clearing of the sincerity of our hearts, that we have a continual eye to the glory of God in every action we do?
Answer 1. First, You must distinguish between an actual aim and intention—and a habitual aim and intention. For the first, an actual aim and intention of the spirit, in every particular action that a man does to the glory of God, is utterly impossible, while we carry about with us a body of sin and death. The angels and "spirits of just men made perfect" do thus actually aim at the glory of God in all they do. But it is a work that will be too high and too hard for us, while we are here in a polluted estate. This was so high a mark, that Adam missed it in his innocency. No wonder then if we often miss it in our sinful state and condition. But,
Answer 2. Secondly, There is a habitual inclination in us, in every action we do, to aim at the honor and glory of God, though there is not the actual intention of the spirit in every action we do. It is with us, as with a man traveling towards a town or city; he thinks in the morning to go to such a town, such a place, where he purposes to rest the first night, and therefore sets forth towards it. And though he does not think of this every step he takes—yet it is his purpose in his journey to rest there at night. Or as it is with a man who comes to church, his end is to hear the word of the Lord. Yet in every word he hears spoken, he has not the thought of his end upon his mind—but he is there by virtue of his first intention.
Just so here, though in every particular there is not an intention of spirit to perform this or that distinct action to the glory of God—yet it is the main drift and habitual scope of a man's spirit, that God's glory may be the end of all his actions.
Answer 3. Thirdly, There is an eyeing or looking to the glory of God; as when I forbear such and such a sin, because God by such a command has forbidden it; or I do such and such a duty, because God has commanded it. Now, in eyeing of the command of God, I eye the glory of God. But,
Answer 4. Fourthly, In some particular or special cases, I ought actually to eye the glory of God: as [1.] In some eminent or extraordinary service that I am to do for Christ; or [2.] In some special testimony that I am called to give for Christ or his gospel; or [3.] In some great thing that I am called to suffer for Christ, or his gospel, or his interest. But,
Answer 5. Fifthly, The more a Christian actually eyes the glory of God in all he does—
[1.] The more you glorify God.
[2.] The nearer you are the life of heaven, and the more you act like the glorious angels, and "the spirits of just men made perfect."
[3.] The more will be your joy, comfort, and peace, both in life and death, and in the day of your account.
[4.] The more strong will be your confidence and assurance that your spiritual estate is good, and that you shall be saved forever.
[5.] The better you will be able to bear up under all the false, hard, and sour censures of this world.
[6.] The more you will be temptation-proof.
[7.] The more glorious and weighty will be your crown of glory at last. He shall be highest in heaven, who has actually aimed most at the glory of God in this lower world.
And thus you see how you may know whether your obedience is such an obedience as springs from saving faith or not. Now, if upon trial you shall find that your obedience is the obedience of faith—then you may safely and groundedly conclude, that you have a saving work of God upon your hearts.