Page images
PDF
EPUB

that justifieth us: for there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, that walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit;" Rom. viii. 1. 33, 34.

(4.) With this benefit doth concur, our reconciliation to God, and our adoption; by which we are made his sons, and God is pleased to own us as our Father. For being one with Christ the Son of God, we are sons by him. For “ to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name ;" John i. 12. This is the wonderful love that the Father hath bestowed on those that were his enemies ; that they should not only be reconciled to him by the death of his Son, but also be called the sons of God; Rom. v. 10. 1John iii. 1. For he hath “ chosen us in him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy, and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved ;" Ephes. i.4–6. O what an unspeakable mercy is it to have the blessed God, whom we had so oft offended, to become our reconciled Father in Christ! For it is not an empty title that he assumeth; but he hath more abundant love to us, and tenderness of our welfare, than any title can make us understand.

(5.) And hereupon it doth immediately follow, that we have a right to the blessed inheritance of his sons, and are certain heirs of his heavenly kingdom ; Col. i. 12. For if “sons, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ;" Rom. viii. 17. “Being saved by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, and justified by grace through Jesus Christ, we are made heirs, according to the hope of eternal life;" Tit. iii. 5—7. “Being begotten again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us;" 1 Pet.i.3, 4.

(6.) Withal, the Holy Ghost is given to us, not only to close us at first with Christ, but to take up his abode in us, as his temples, and to be the agent and life of Christ within us, and to do his work, and maintain his interest, and cleanse us of all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and sanctify us throughout, and to strive against, and conquer the flesh, and to keep

us by divine power through faith unto salvation; 1 Cor. vi. 19. Gal. y. 17. 22. 2 Cor. vi. 1. 1 Pet. i.5. For“ because we are sons, God sendeth forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, whereby we cry, Abba, Father;" Gal.iv. 6. This Spirit of adoption which we receive doth "bear witness with our spirits, that we are the sons of God;" Rom. viii. 15, 16. For “ if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, the same is none of his;" Rom. viii. 9. By this Spirit is the spirit of the world cast out of us; the spirit of pride, and of blindness, and of delusion, and hardheartedness, and of sensuality, and malice, and hypocrisy are cast out. By this is God's image imprinted on our souls; we are conformed to his blessed will; “we are made partakers of the Divine nature, being holy, as God is holy; Col. iii. 10. 2 Pet. i. 4. 1 Pet. i. 16. Hereby also we are fitted for the service of God, to which before we were undisposed and unfit. O what an ease is it to the soul, to be free from so much of the burden of sin. What an honour is it to have the Spirit of God within us, and to have a nature so truly heavenly and divine? How can it go ill with him that hath “God dwelling in him, and that dwells in God?” 1 John iv. 15.

(7.) Another of our precious benefits by Christ, is, that we shall be actually employed in the special and nearest service of God, that on earth is to be performed. Let diseased souls desire idleness; and swinish sinners take pleasure in the mire, and feed like ravenous beasts on carrion, or as dogs on dung. But the saints will ever rejoice in God, and take it for the most blessed life on earth, when they can do him the greatest service. Let his enemies that hate his service be weary of it, as if it were a toil or drudgery; but his children will desire no sweeter work. They never think themselves so well as when they are most serviceable to their blessed Lord, though at the greatest cost and labour to the flesh. So sweet is God's service, that the more of it we can do, the more is our pleasure, and honour, and content. Other work spendeth strength; but this increaseth it. Other work must have recreation intermixed, but this is itself the most delightful recreation. Other service is undertaken for the love of the wages, but this is undertaken for the love of the master, and the work, and is wages itself to them that go through with it. For other service is but a means, and that to some inferior end; but this is a means, to the everlasting perfection, and blessedness of the soul ; and such a means as containeth, or presently procureth, somewhat of the end. All the saints are even here

a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that they shall shew forth the praises of him that hath called them out of darkness, into his marvellous light: they are a holy priesthood, to offer up a spiritual sacrifice, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ; 1 Pet. ii.5.9. Their very bodies are "a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, in their reasonable service.” What a sweet work is it to live in the daily love of God; in his praises, in the hopes, and sweet forethoughts of everlasting joys. The world affordeth not such a Master, nor such a work.

(8.) Another of the precious benefits by Christ, is, The liberty of access in all our wants to God by Prayer, with a promise to be heard. The flaming sword did keep the way to the tree of life, till Christ had taken it down, and consecrated for us a new and living way, through the vail, which is his flesh. And now we have “ boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus ; and, therefore, may draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith ;" Heb. x. 19, 20.22. When worldlings may cry to their Baal in vain, the “righteous cry, and the Lord heareth them, and delivereth them out of all their (hurtful) troubles." O what a mercy is it in our falls, in our distresses, in our dangers, in our wants, to have a God, a faithful, merciful Father to go to, and make our moan to for relief! What a mercy is it, when our flesh and our hearts do fail us, when friends and worldly things all fail us, to have God for the rock of our hearts, of our portion; Psal. lxxiii. 26. When sickness begins to break these bodies, and earthly delights do all forsake us, and death calls us to come to our endless state, then to have a reconciled Father to go to, and crave his aid, upon

the encouragement of a promise, and recommend our souls into his hand as to a faithful Creator, and our surest, dearest friend ; this is a mercy that no man can well value, till they come to use it. To know every day, that as oft as ever we come to God, we are always welcome; and that our persons, and prayers are pleasing to him through his Son, what a mercy is it. One would think we should live joyfully, if we had but one such promise as this for faith to live upon : “Call upon me in the days of trouble, and I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me;" Psal. 1. 15. , “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son;" John xiv. 13, 14. No wonder if they be rich, that have so free access to such a treasure; and if they be safe that have access to so sure a help. For God is a very present help in trouble; Psal. xlvi. 1.

(9.) Another precious benefit, is, That we have peace of conscience, or ground for it at the least, in our peace with God; and so may come to assurance of salvation, and

may partake of the joy of the Holy Ghost. For in this peace and joy the kingdom of God doth much consist. When the chief cause of all our fear and sorrow is done away, what then is left to break our peace? When we have no cause to fear the flames of hell, nor the sting of death, or the appearance of our Judge, any further than to move us to make ready, what then should greatly trouble the soul? If God and heaven be not matter of comfort, I know not what is. If we saw a man, that had got many kingdoms, to be still sad, and dumpish, because he had no more, we would say, he were very ambitious, or covetous; and yet he might have reason for it. But if

you have the love of God, and a title by promise to heavenly inheritance, and yet you are discontented, and God and glory is not enough for you, this is most unreasonable.

(10.) Another of our precious benefits by Christ, is, Our spiritual communion with his church, and holy members. We do not only join with them in outward communion, but we unite our desires, and there is a harmony of affections. We are in the main of one mind and will, and

and jointly constitute the body of our Lord. “ We are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly, and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant;" Heb. xii. 22-24. We are joined to that body, and have communion with it, which consisteth both of militant, and triumphant saints, and of the angels also. We are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, and are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone,

way,

we

in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord; in whom we also are builded together, for a habitation of God, through the Spirit; Ephes. ü. 19-22. And as in holy concord we serve the Lord, having one God, one Christ, one Spirit, one faith, one baptism, one rule, the word of God, one mind, one heart, one work of holiness and righteousness in the main ; one hope, one heaven, the place of our expectations. So have we the fruit of the prayers of each other, and of all the church, and have the honour, the safety, and other benefits of being members of so blessed a society.

Yea, we have in this communion, the whole church obliged, and disposed according to their capacity to endeavour the good of every member. So that ministers and magistrates, yea, though they were apostles, and prophets, Paul, or Apollos, all are ours ; 1 Cor. iii. 22. Kings have their power for us, and for us they must use them. If we suffer, every member must be as forward to assist us, and if we want to relieve us, according to their power, as if they suffered with us; 1 Cor. xii. 25, 26.

Yea, the angels are our brethren (Rev. xxix. 9.) and fellow servants, yea, “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them that shall be heirs of salvation; Heb.i. 14." To

encamp about them, and to bear them in their arms,” rejoicing to behold their graces, and prosperity, as was shewed before.

(11.) Another of our precious benefits by Christ, is, That “All things shall work together for good; Rom. viü. 28. When we are sanctified to God, all things are sanctified to us, to serve us for God, and help us to him. Every creature that we have to do with, is, as it were, another thing to the saints, than to other men. They are all wheels in that universal engine of grace, to carry us to salvation. The same things that are common mercies to others, are special to us, as proceeding from a special love, and being designed to a special use. As flesh-pleasing is the ultimate end of the ungodly, and all things are thereby debased, to be but means to that ignoble end; so the pleasing and fruition of God, is the end of all the saints, and thereby all things that they have to do with, are advanced to the honour of being sanctified means to this most high and noble end, and as they are engaged to use them to this end, and consequently to

« PreviousContinue »