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dom is an everlasting kingdom, and of his dominion there is no end."
8. They are in this world a scattered seed; when the angels are sent to gather them together at the last day, they will be sent to the four winds, or quarters of the world. They are scattered in respect of place or situation; Is. xxiv. 16: "From the uttermost wings of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous." They are many times scattered by persecution; when a cluster of them gets together, commonly the storms of persecution arising from the malice of hell, scatter them abroad, as we read in the Acts, chap. viii.
9. They are a holy seed. But this leads me to,
III. The third thing proposed, which was, to inquire why God's remnant are not only called a seed," but a holy seed? I answer in these three: 1. They are called a holy seed, in respect of separation. 2. In respect of purification. 3. In respect of participation of divine holiness.
First, I say, the church of believers are called a holy seed, in respect of separation from the rest of the profane world. Any thing that is sequestrated from a common use, and dedicated to the service of God, is called holy. Thus the temple, the tabernacle, and the utensils of both, are called holy, because dedicated to God, to his service. So the whole body of the children of Israel are called a holy nation; because they were separated from the rest of the world, as the peculiar people of God. In this respect the seed of Christ are a holy seed; because God has set them apart for himself, and they have set themselves apart for him. He has separated them from the rest of the world, the common mass of mankind, by an eternal decree of election, by a donation or grant that he made of them to Christ: "Thine they were, and thou gavest them me," John xvii. 6. By a peculiar purchase, having "redeemed them from their vain conversation, not. with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot." By an effectual calling of them by the power of his grace, whereby they are "delivered from the power of darkness, and translated into the kingdom of his dear Son." By a voluntary surrender of themselves to the Lord, under the influence of his own grace, they have presented themselves "a holy, living, and acceptable sacrifice to him, which is their reasonable service." Thus they are holy in respect of separation.
Secondly, They are a holy seed, in respect of their purification from filth and pollution. At the same moment that the guilt of sin is pardoned in justification, at the same moment
the purifying work of the Spirit is begun; and that which takes away the guilt of sin in justification, also purifies the soul from the filth of sin, by which its Ethiopian hue is changed. Now, this cleansing and purifying work of the Spirit may be viewed, either in its beginning, progress, or
1. Inchoate or begun in regeneration. Hence, says the apostle, Tit. iii. 5, "We are saved by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." The Holy Spirit of God takes the soul, defiled by "lying among the pots " of sin, and bathes it in the "fountain opened to the house of David, and inhabitants of Jerusalem," by which its sin and uncleanness are purged away.
2. It is to be viewed in its progress, as it is carried on by the renewed actings of faith, which more and more "purifies the heart," Acts xv. 9. Every new act of faith, on the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, carries on the work of sanctification in the soul a degree higher. As Naaman, by the prophet's direction, went down seven times into the waters of Jordan, till he was wholly purified from his bodily leprosy ; so the soul finding, while in this world, something of the filth of sin cleaving to it, it is always by faith, dipping itself in the Jordan of a Redeemer's blood, til at death, it come forth, "without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing." Hence, 2 Cor. vii. 1, believers are said to "cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, and to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord."
3. This purifying work may be viewed in its consummation at death, when every spot or wrinkle of sin is wholly removed. Believers in this life, are but fair like the moon, which has black spots in her; but then they are clear like the sun, "They shall shine forth like the sun, in the kingdom of their Father." As the soul, in the moment of its union with the body, becomes sinful; so in the moment of its disunion, it becomes perfectly holy, and free of all the spots of sin sin brought death into the world, and God, in a way of holy resentment, makes use of death to put an end to the very being of sin in his saints. Thus you see, that they are holy in respect of purification.
Thirdly, They are called a holy seed, in respect of a positive communication of divine holiness; for we are said to be renewed after the image of God, which was lost by the fall of the first Adam. The priests under the law, when about to minister in the holy place, were not only to purify and wash themselves, but to put on their priestly attire and ornaments, which were exceedingly beautiful: so believers are a royal priesthood; they must not only be washed from the filth of
sin, but, like "the King's daughter," they must be made "all glorious within ;" they must not only have the robe of imputed righteousness put upon them, but the beautifying grace of the Holy Spirit implanted in them; which is sometimes called a partaking of the divine nature; sometimes, the beauty of the Lord, "Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us;" sometimes called, the new heart, the new spirit, the image of God, the life of God in the soul. And this positive work of sanctification, gets various names and designations, just according to the different actings of the principle of spiritual life. As it takes in the revelation of the mind of God in the word read or preached, it is called knowledge; as it depends on the Lord Christ, by virtue of the new covenant and promise, it is called faith; as it delights itself in the Lord, it is called love; as it mourns or grieves for sin, by which it has offended the Lord, it is called repentance; as it stands in awe of God, as a Father, it is called fear; as it sweetens the mind, and composes it, it is called meekness; as it falls in with the preceptive or commanding will of God in heart and life, it is called obedience; as it renounces the law, and all confidence in the flesh, it is called self-denial; as it bears afflictions, it is called patience. All these, I say, are nothing else than the different actings of that principle of holiness implanted in the heart by the Spirit of the Lord, Thus you see why they are called a holy seed,
IV. The fourth thing in the method was, to inquire what may be imported in their being called, the substance thereof: The holy seed shall be the substance thereof. I answer it takes in the following particulars :
1. That the wicked of a land are but a heap of lumber in God's reckoning, whatever be their station, quality, or estate: though they have the gold ring and the gay clothing, and may cast a great dash in the eyes of men; yet, 1 say, before God, and before them that have the Spirit, and spiritual discerning of things and persons, they are but so much lumber and trash. Hence is that [saying] of David, Psal. cxix. 119: "Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross." Hence, also, they are likened to chaff and tares, briers and thorns, that are "nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned."
2 It imports, that the saints, the truly godly in a land, are excellent and valuable persons; for the substance of a land lies in the things that are most valuable and excellent in it. This was David's verdict and character of the saints, Psal. xvi. 3: "My delight is with the saints, the excellent ones of the earth." And his son Solomon was of the same judgment,
Prov. xii. 26: "The righteous is more excellent than his neighbour." Yea, we have the testimony of one wiser than Solomon, even Christ, the essential Wisdom of the Father, Rev. iii. 4: "Thou hast a few names, even in Sardis, which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white for they are worthy." Yea, so worthy and excellent, that it is declared, Heb. xi. 38, that "the world was not worthy of them.”
3. The holy seed shall be the substance thereof,-implies, that the saints of God are his inheritance and portion in a land: "The Lord's portion is his people: Jacob is the lot of his inheritance." He has a peculiar right and property in them beyond the rest of mankind: they are so much his, that they are not their own; and therefore have not power to dispose of themselves, but for his glory: "Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."
4. It implies, that as they are his portion and property; so he has a great deal of pleasure in them, even as a man takes a delight and pleasure in that which is his substance. Such pleasure he has in them, that he dwells and walks in them; they are his pleasant garden, his crown, his diadem, his bride, his love, his dove, his undefiled, his Hephzibah, and Beulah and as such he has a great deal of care about them; for "his eyes run to and fro through the earth, to show himself strong in behalf of those that fear him." As a man's eye and heart is upon his substance; so the Lord's heart and eye is upon his people, his holy seed; such a high value and esteem hath he for them.
5. It implies, that there is something in and about the godly that is not to be found among other men. The wicked, when laid in God's balance, like Belshazzar, are found wanting solidity; hence God's verdict of them is, "Mean men are vanity, and great men are a lie; when weighed in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity;" but the holy seed are the substance, they bear weight; and no wonder, for they are the living, while others are "dead in trespasses and sins;" they are the only seeing persons, while others are blind: "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not." They are wise, but the rest of the world are fools: they have oil in their vessels, but others are empty.
6. It implies, that the remnant of the truly godly in a land are the riches thereof; for a man's riches is his substance. precious sons of Zion" are compared unto fine gold; and though the world do not see it, yet their "clothing is of wrought gold; and the grace of God in them, and about them, is "gold
tried in the fire;" gold, better than the gold of Ophir. On the same account they are called jewels: Mal. iii. 17: " They shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when 1 make up my jewels." Whatever be the outward poverty of a house, a church, or land; yet it is really rich, if there be any of God's jewels there. Alas! they are but thinly sown in our day; though, blessed be God, there is a remnant. 7. It implies, that the truly godly are the stay and support of the land where they live. But this leads me to,
V. The fifth thing in the method, in what respect are the truly godly the stay, strength, and support of a land or church? for so some read the words; being, as I said, an allusion to the trees that grew on either side of the way to the temple, by which the earth of the cast-up-way was supported from mouldering away; and with allusion to this, it is said, the holy seed shall be the support or strength thereof. Now, in answer to this, how the godly are the support of a land, or church? I answer in the few particulars following:
1. It is for the sake of the holy seed, the godly remnant in a land, that ruining judgments are deferred or removed : Is. i. 9: 66 Event the Lord of hosts had left unto ue a vern small མཐ༦P• unu vury sunan iem•
nant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrha." Had there been but ten righteous persons in Sodom, it had been spared; and when God has a mind to let loose his hand against a sinful people, he first pulls down these pillars, removes them out of the way, and then goes on to judgment; for he can do nothing till they be out of the way, Gen. xix. 22; Is. lvii. 1: "The righteous are taken away from the evil to come."
2. It is for the sake of the holy seed, that both temporal and spiritual mercies are conferred upon a sinful people. For Jacob's sake Laban's flock increases, and for Joseph's sake, a blessing falls upon Potiphar's house and substance. And for the sake of the holy seed that are to be raised in a place, the gospel is sent to, or continued among, a people; it is upon their account that the Lord keeps his vineyard, and "waters it every moment." And when once the holy seed is gathered in, and brought home to glory, then the Lord pulls down the hedges, and lays his vineyard of a visible church waste and desolate, and forbids the clouds to rain any more upon it.. And does not this say, that they are the strength or stay of a church or land?
3. The holy seed is the strength of a land, or its support, as they employ their interest at a throne of grace on behalf of a people among whom they dwell, that God may not destroy them. Thus Moses interposed with God for Israel, Psal,