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And the scripture was fulfilled, &c.
THE third thing which remains to be spoken to is,
III. To shew you what such a faith doth certainly infer. This also hath much of friendliness towards God in it; and it infers divers things that are so: as—
1. What is indeed very general, an entire living to God. If any soul do believe unto righteousness and salvation, so as now to be justified, and finally saved, that very faith of his will certainly infer the most entire living unto God; the most friendly thing towards God that can be thought. It is impossible that I can bear more of friendliness in my mind and soul towards any one, than when I consecrate my life to him—devote my life to him—devote myself to him. This is certainly inferred by that faith which avails to justification and salvation. I pray observe, that where you have that phrase of “living to God,” Gal. ii. 19, that the whole 444context speaks of this very subject; justifying faith which is mentioned in this so expressly. Look at Gal. ii. from verse 16, to the end; “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not 1, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God. who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” Here is a most positive and delucid assertion of the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone, exclusive of works. But the apostle objects to himself, or obviates the objections of others in verse 17. “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.” This looks like a doctrine that serves the purposes of sin, and as if Christ came into the world to minister unto sin, to promise indulgences for it; not that men might cease to sin, but that they may sin with less danger and more safety. “God forbid,” saith he—abhorred be any such thought, “if I build again the things which I destroyed, [and to admit this will be building what I had been aiming all this while to destroy] I make myself a transgressor,” I fight with myself. All my doctrine causes nothing in it but inconsistency and self repugnance: “For, (saith he) I through the law am dead to the law.” But, with what design? upon what account?—that I might live unto God: “I through the law am dead to the law.” The law hath killed all the hopes and expectations I had of life, or justification by it, and hath as a severe, but as a faithful, dextrous schoolmaster, driven me to Christ, (as it is afterwards spoken in the same chapter) and constrained me to have recourse to him, to seek righteousness and life there. And what then? Is it that afterwards I might live as I list? No; far be it; it is only that I might live unto God; a life more entirely holy than it was possible for me ever to have lived upon other terms. And this living thus to God is manifestly spoken of as an inferred, consequential thing unto justification, 445as a thing that naturally and necessarily ensues. But it is the most friendly thing towards God that can be imagined and thought of, that I should dedicate my whole life to him; and this doth not belong to friendship as friendship, but it belongs peculiarly to friendship with God. If any other friend should lay claim to the whole of my life, that my life should be spent entirely for him, and I should do nothing but for him; it is the highest insolence for him to expect or require it; but in this case it is the highest insolence to deny it unto this friend, for do not I owe my whole life to Him, if he hath justified me, if he hath imparted a righteousness to me? For what was I before, but a condemned lost creature. My life was forfeited. When he hath given me righteousness, he hath given me my life. The case cannot be thus among other friends. There is usually some sort of parity; but here is the greatest imparity and disparity. Another friend may have obliged me, perhaps I have at some time or other obliged one as much. But here the obligation lies all on one side; and it is the deepest obligation that can be thought. So that what was an hyperbole in the apostle to Philemon, “thou owest thy very self to me,” (and he expresseth it with a diminution, not to say it,) it is no hyperbole here. Every justified person owes himself to his justifier, his whole life. For do not we know it was forfeited, entirely forfeited? If it be a state of justification, how did we come into it? It was a state of condemnation out of which we did pass. This is nothing to the ordinary friendship that is between man and man. But if an offended prince do take a condemned wretch out of his cage and chains, and from the dungeon and gibbet, into his arms, and embraces him; gives him life and his favour; and all the dignities and honours he can load him with; here is one owes his very self, in a subordinate way, as much as it is possible a creature can to a creature. Though the prince claims that life which he cannot preserve; for when he hath given it in one moment, a disease may take it away in the next. But here it is the most reasonable thing in all the world, that I should give my life to him who hath justified me.
And whereas all were under condemnation before; when a person is justified, he is made to “reign in life,” as that most emphatical expression is, Rom. v. 17. Death had passed over all by one. By one man’s offence, death reigned. But now they that receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, do reign in life by one Jesus Christ, or they shall do so, as some copies read it. 446“They shall reign in life.” The life of a king is reckoned a sacred thing, inviolable—not to be touched. He hath made us kings and priests unto God, having “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” Rev. i. 5. Then such lives are not to be touched. “Touch not mine anointed.” They are all anointed ones, who have this life imparted to them.
I beseech you consider this case according to the mighty weight of it, and consider it as your own case, or that which is your case, or may be. For we are all of us here before the Lord, either in a state of condemnation, or in a state of justification this hour, at this time. If we have any of us cause to suspect that fearful state to be ours, a state of condemnation, I hope you do not intend to continue there; you think not, sure, of abiding so, in such a state as abiding in death, a condemned person in death, under death. Take we the state of our case as it is. Let every one view himself about this matter. Oh, my soul, what dost think of thy state? Either thou art a justified or a condemned man. What dost thou think of thy state? If thou thinkest thou art condemned, what is to be done in this case? It is dreadful to think of taking up and abiding here. But we are told what is to be done. “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” John iii. 16, 17. Believe in the Son of God, and this brings you under his righteousness, under his shadow, and the protection of it. It shelters you, covers you. “He that believeth in the Son of God, is not condemned; but he that believeth not, is condemned already.” The sentence is past, though yet a reversible sentence—a sentence that may be reversed. Here our case is plain, to wit, that our main business must be to consider, do we believe in the Son of God? With such a faith as the gospel meaneth, with a lively, gospel faith. For if the gospel do mean one thing by faith, and I do understand quite another, it is not my mistaken notion that will save me. Do I think to be saved by a false notion? By a faith that is not only but notional, but my very notion also is false. That will not do. I am to consider, ergo, what this faith of mine infers. It signifies, or infers, my living to God, or it signifies nothing. How earnestly and emphatically is it inculcated in this Chapter, where the text 447lies, that a dead faith cannot justify, and cannot save. A faith that hath no life in it, no spirit, no energy, no operativeness. It is not the works that proceed from faith that do justify, hut it is a workingness in faith which is requisite to justification:—a faith that will work, not a dead faith. And we are, ergo, to know, that in the same instant when a man’s faith is available for the obtaining of righteousness for him, it is available for the obtaining of life too, of a vital principle. God doth never give these separately, he always gives them together. This faith unites the soul with Christ. He is righteousness and life to it at once. His righteousness (as hath been told you,) never continues one moment the clothing of a carcase, of a dead soul. It is never designed to be the habit and apparel of such a soul. It is too rich a thing, too glorious a thing, to be so. There is no righteousness without having of Christ. “But he that hath the Son, hath life,” at the same time when the soul is caught into union with him. “Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” He is made unto us holy life upon our being in him, as he is thereupon made righteousness to us. 1 Cor. i. 30. This is plain, intelligible truth to any that will use their understanding, and apply their minds to consider it. But to speak a little more distinctly of this matter of living to God, as it is a thing inferred from, and consequential upon, the faith that justifies, I shall note unto you a few particular distinct heads, under this first more general one, as,
(1.) That whenever the soul is brought to believe unto righteousness, (Rom. x. 10) it is an heart principle, an heart exercise, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” And whenever he doth so, he then receives a new spiritual life, a divine life. He was alienated from the life of God before, but now he comes to participate in a certain sort of divine life. This is so plain, that nothing can be more. “He that findeth me, findeth life.” There is a blessing pronounced upon waiting on this account. “Blessed is he (saith Christ, the Son of God, the eternal Logos, or wisdom, Prov. viii. 34,) that waiteth, that is continually waiting at the posts of my house, for he that findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.” Findeth life; what doth that signify? It signifies that life in this world is a great rarity. A man may be long in quest of it, and not find it. It is a world, lost in 448death. “Death hath passed upon all by one, inasmuch as all have sinned.” Rom. v. 12. If a poor soul that dwells in the shadow of death, casts about its wondering eyes and thoughts this way and that way, and saith, Where shall I find life? Why, (saith our Lord), he that findeth me, findeth life. All thy enquiries are in vain, and lost, and to no purpose, till thou meet with me. And you shall find me if you seek. “He that seeks me early, shall find me.” ver. 17. “But if he finds me, he finds life.” The very first meeting proves vital to him. For do but consider what is said in that same context, Rom. v. 12, 16, 17. Death had passed over all, reigned over all, unto condemnation. “All were dead,” as the matter is also expressed, 2 Cor. v. 14. “If Christ died for all, then were all dead.” Death passed over all. But how? Not only in law, but in fact. Pray observe it, all were dead, not only in law, but in fact too. Dead in trespasses and sins. Death did prevail, spread itself and its dismal horrid shadow over the very souls of men universally. And that by one—that one who first sinned, and so let in sin and death into the world. But then observe what is said in the 14th verse, That “that one was the figure of him who was to come.” Which might signify, that as the former Adam did let in sin, and by it death upon all, so as to bring all not only under condemnation, but under an actual death, in the moral and more horrid sense, as death stands in opposition both to sanctity and to felicity. So as that in these respects it should reach the very souls of men, which, though they are naturally immortal, are morally (it is too plain) mortal; and not only mortal, but dead in the moral sense; to wit, as death stands in opposition to holy life, and as it stands in opposition to blessed life. So all were actually dead, as well as in law. Now if that first Adam was the figure of Him that was to come, pray consider in consequence what the second Adam was to be, and what he was to do. We are told that, “The first man, Adam, was made a living soul; the last Adam was a quickening spirit.” 1 Cor. xv. 45. So that now if you touch him, you touch life. If you meet with him, if you are joined with him, you are delivered by it. You have life not only in right, but in fact. As under the other Adam there was death, not only deserved, but as actually incumbent, death had passed over all. That is, here were the beginnings of eternal death, the beginnings of hell. Christ is the Lord from Heaven. If once you unite with him by that faith, that true faith of the gospel, you have 449not only now a right to life, but you have the beginning of it, the inchoation of it in fact, as there was the beginning of death and hell in souls by the former Adam, the figure of this latter. And you are to reign in life by Jesus Christ. Life exults in you, springeth in your hearts, and is gradually springing up more and more towards eternal life. At least where that is not so perceptible, there are springings which import life, strugglings, and impatience of deadness. Whereas one that is entirely dead, is impatient of nothing—feels nothing. But if there be aimings and strugglings for life! Oh, this dead heart of mine; that I could find it to live more. This speaks life, a new life, which is working in you, and struggling in you, towards its perfection. And then you must not only gather here, that this living to God implies being made alive spiritually, a participant of an holy, divine life: but that it doth, in the next place,
(2.) Directly terminate on God. Here is life, living; and it is living unto God, which is the certain result and consequent of that faith that justifies and saves. It is, I say, a life that points at God; tends and works directly towards him. “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Rom. vi. 11. I pray note the appositeness and the emphasis of these words: “Dead to sin,” having no mind to live a sinning life any longer. “But alive to God:” here is a new life now given—a spiritual, divine life. But what is it? a loose and a vagrant thing, that works at random, no one can tell how or which way? No, far be it from thinking so. It is a life directly pointing upon God; carries the soul in all its powers and thoughts, and affections and inclinations, in one current towards God. “Alive to God through Jesus Christ.” There was nothing but deadness towards God before; life enough to every thing else, but only no inclination towards God;—no inclination, no concern with God. But now here is being made “alive to God through Jesus Christ.” And this is the effect and consequent of union to Christ by faith; when we are planted together with him into the likeness of his death, and into the likeness of his resurrection, and by a certain kind of conjunction, or being married to him, we come to bring forth fruit unto God. As it is in the fore going verses of Rom. vi. And,
(3.) This is further to be noted concerning this living to God, as inferred by and consequential upon that faith that 450justifies and saves; that the workings and stream and cur rent of this life, and of all the powers of the soul so enlivened, are directed towards God, and by a friendly affection. I pray note that further: they all work towards God; this life, and every thing that belongs to it, tends and works, and beats and contends Godwards. And what is that which makes it do so? A friendliness of inclination towards Him, and a suitableness of spirit unto him. They are, therefore, whenever they come to. believe unto righteousness, to be called the friends of God; for now the whole life, from the power of friendly inclination, comes to be directed Godward. And so living to him is not from necessity and terror and dread, but from choice and kind propension. And,
(4.) It is hereupon necessarily consequent, that the soul is obliged to be very much in the exercises of religion: because in all the acts of religion there is a direct and immediate application unto God. If it be brought by the power and tendency of that faith which justifies into a course of living unto God, my life must be a thing, in the whole of it, sacred unto God; then it cannot be but it must be taken up in the exercises of religion, because therein it hath to do with God directly and immediately, but more remotely and collaterally when one is otherwise employed. The exercises of religion must thereby be delectable to such an one, for he liveth unto God; that the faith that justifies him hath, inferred: from that very inclination of mind (saith he) I must be with God. And hence it will be the most remote thing in all the world from such an one to count the exercises of religion wearisome. But he will surely have that habitual estimate; though the flesh maybe many times weak and wayward, the spirit will be willing so far as it is influenced and animated by such a life. And, therefore, among the other exercises of religion which such a life, and that faith which hath justified a soul, must imply, those exercises of religion which I have been so lately pressing upon you will be looked upon as no cumbersome imposition. The exercises of family religion, as well as those of the closet and those of the church, they will all carry a pleasantness, a felicity in them, proportionable to the measure of life received.
And I would have you now to consider the providence of God. It is observable to you and me that I was called off from this subject by a general agreement of my brethren to speak to you of that about family religion before I had 451finished this. So that that discourse did even fall into this before I had concluded it. Observe the providence of God in it. For by this means it comes to pass that I am cast upon it to give you the shortest and fullest directory how. to manage that business of family religion, as well as other exercises of religion, faithfully, pleasantly, and to purpose. Thus in general, whenever you are to do acts of religion, I pray consider your state. What is my state, wherein I am now to appear before God in this or that religious performance or exercise? Shall I appear before him as a justified person, or as a condemned person? Oh what shall I do if I am to appear ordinarily under the latter notion, as a condemned person? I come with my family (whatever they be) myself a condemned wretch. It is true it is a case that needs prayer: but it is a very uncomfortable case, for all that, when a person must do so from day to day. And, therefore, look well to your state. This is a state (as was told you before) that is not to be rested in, upon any terms. Though you are not to throw off the exercises of religion because you suspect your state to be bad, but in continuing of them to hope and expect it will mend and be better. But I would have you consider what it is. If you must come always in approaching unto God as a condemned person, or being a condemned person (whether you apprehend it or no) you will always approach to him either with the heart of a slave, or the heart of a stone. Either with a misgiving, affrighted, amazed heart, the heart of a slave or a stupid senseless heart, dead and cold as a stone. And therefore, especially see that such exercises of religion, as well as all other, do proceed from the conjunct principles of faith and love, or faith and godliness, towards God, the very things that the text hath in it, as you see, believing and being the friend of God. See that such principles animate all your religion, your family religion, and all other; otherwise, it goes all for lost.
[1.] The principle of faith. Without that it is impossible for you to please God in any thing you do, Heb. xi. 6. By it you come to offer an acceptable sacrifice. By faith Abel offered up a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain; a more acceptable one. The word is a fuller one, a sacrifice which had a fulness in it compared with Cain’s. Without it all your sacrifice?, all your duties, will be dead formalities and nothing else; neither pleasing to God, nor pleasing to you; there can be no pleasure in them on the one hand, nor on the other. It is true you must go on in a course 452of such duties, for the law of nature (as was told you) obligeth you thereto, and stands unrepealed: for (as hath been said) to suppose a repeal of the law of nature, is to suppose that God would divest himself of his deity, and you should be divested of humanity, both at once. As long as God is God, and man is man, this part of the law of nature, which concerns this state of things between him and man, must be unalterable, and can never be repealed. It is that which his law requires of you most indispensably. You must go on yet, still aim at bettering your state, and getting into that faith by which you shall be exempt from that condemnation. Into it, (I say) into the power and spirit of it. Indeed here lies the snare and danger, that when people first find themselves urged, and possibly are brought to apprehend the reasonableness and necessity of going on in such a course of duty, they expect to be justified in that way. No, never till you reach that faith which unites you to Christ. But this may be your way towards that faith. If you should think that your dead spiritless duties are to supply the room of Christ, vital faith, and a living religion proceeding from thence, this is all a mistake, and the most dangerous one that can be thought. To be justified by our own works, and such pitiful dead works, it speaks, as the Apostle’s determination of the matter is, Gal. v. 4, 5, that “Christ is become of none effect to you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” There is an eternal law binding you to such duty, and which is invariable and unalterable. But what then? Must you think of being justified by it? No; then Christ will be of none effect, and ye are fallen from grace. But we through the Spirit do wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. The great hopes of righteousness we wait for by faith, and by that alone, through the Spirit, the Holy Ghost, prompting and teaching us so to do. But this is the stupid, senseless, absurdity which hath seized the minds of multitudes, that when their works are least worth, then they expect most from them. When they are all worth nothing, they account of being justified by them; when they are all dead works. When a man’s soul comes to be made alive, by how much the more he lives so much the more he sees that the best works he is capable of in this state and region of mortality can have nothing in them (though they have never so much of spiritual and divine life) unto the purpose of justification; for they never were designed to justle Christ out of his office. Nor are the offices of Christ and the Holy Ghost to mingle or be 453confounded, and made to interfere with one another, upon any terms. Such living works (when living) serve for other necessary and most excellent purposes, but not to justify us. They serve to qualify us for communion with God, and to enable us to serve and glorify him in the world, and to carry on a preparedness for us more and more for an inheritance among them that are sanctified, or with the spirits in light. See to that, that in all the exercises of religion (though while it is not so, they are not to be forborn and laid aside in families, closets, or otherwise yet) you aim to get that principle of faith which may mend your state, and make that good, and make you capable now (having your consciences sprinkled by Jesus Christ from dead works) of serving the living God, of living service suitable to the living God. And,
[2.] That other conjunct principle, love. Friendly affection, see that animates all your worship too, that your souls be carried towards God by friendly inclination: as was said, “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.” If you have that faith by which you believe unto righteousness, it will work by love; it carries your souls unto God by a mighty power of love. This is living to God, the certain consequence of that belief unto righteousness; or unto which God doth impute righteousness. And how applicable is this to the purpose aforementioned, i.e. that all the exercises of religion, and especially of family religion, be animated by that principle of love to God, or friendliness towards God, faith. Do but take notice, whereas the text speaks of Abraham, (he was the instance) “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God. Pray see what the inclination was that carried him to take that care of his family that he did, (Gen. xviii. 17, 18, 19.) “Shall I hide from Abraham the thing that I intend to do?” He is my friend, I cannot hide things from my friend; and why should he be looked upon as such a friend? “I know him, that he will command his children, and his household after him, to serve me.” Abraham will take this care of his family, because he is my friend.
See, therefore, that this principle goes into it, otherwise all goes for lost. Why are you so careful? Why it is kindness to my friend, my greatest and best friend. I see his interest low in the world, he is little called upon or sought after. There are few among men that will own him. But I do 454it, because he is my friend, and because he bath captivated my very heart, and made that in some measure friendly unto him. That I may preserve, and that I may revive to my very uttermost his languishing interest in a lost world. He hath but a few friends, but I and my house will serve him; we will shew our friendliness towards him, whosoever do or will not do.
It comes in my way to give you this short, but full, directory in reference to the great subject we were so lately on. See that it be managed by that faith which will always justify. And see that it be influenced by a principle of love and friendly inclination towards God, and because you cannot endure his interest should be lost by your neglect, at least so far as you can signify any thing to the promoting and preserving it.
But here it may be said, that all the performances of an unjustified and unregenerate person are sin. But what? Are men obliged to sin? And should we urge them to sin? This admits of a very plain and easy answer. For,
1. There can be no declining of such performances when the injunction is in the law before us; but it must be upon a resolution not to do them. A resolution must be taken: I will not do them. There will be sin in doing, but there will be far greater in resolving not to do. The sin that is in doing, is only in the wrong manner, that I do not such a thing aright. But resolving not to do, is sin even in the very substance, of that resolution.
How vast is the difference between that which is in the very substance sinful, and that which is only sinful in the circumstance. And,
2. This is to be said too, that not only the praying, the hearing, and the other acts of natural worship done by an unjustified, unregenerate person, are sin, but all their other actions toe. The very ploughing of the wicked is sin. And what, therefore, must the whole unregenerate world do nothing? Are they all to sit still? If they eat they sin; if they drink they sin. Must they, therefore, starve, and neither eat nor drink? So absurd is such a pretence against doing such a duty, though it have ho tendency at all to recommend us to God. And, indeed, were the duties of regenerate persons themselves never so entirely vital and holy, they would signify nothing for the purpose of recommending us to God. They do proceed from the Holy Ghost, but we must not confound the offices of Christ and the Holy Ghost. It is the work of the Holy Ghost to sanctify us, and qualify us for communion 455with God. It is he work of Christ to justify us by his blood, and by his righteousness applied to us. It was Christ that was crucified for us. And, indeed, in reference to the matter of justification, even the most holy lives of the best of saints, they do more by positive influence for the justifying of Christ, than for the justifying of us. He is the eternal wisdom of God. And wisdom is justified of her children. We justify him; we shew that he did not undertake a vague thing, or come upon a vain errand into this world, when he gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify to himself “a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” When his end and design is so far answered, wisdom is justified. This appears to have been the work and design of wisdom, that it was not a foolish undertaking; for it hath succeeded, it doth prosper, and shall more and more do so. By positive influence, it more justifies him than it does us. Our justification comes quite another way, being justified freely by his blood. All the holiness in the world could never make him amends for my having been once a sinner, and thereby incurred the divine wrath. It is true we have communion with God, walking in the light as he is in the light. But it is “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son, that cleanseth us from all sin,” so as that we may come guiltless into that communion. 1 John i. 7. The truth is, that the doctrine of faith, and righteousness, and justification, have been talked of, and tossed into mere airy and insipid notions. Though so excellent, so glorious doctrines, Christians have learned to dispute them into nothing: even as rich and generous wine, thrown from vessel to vessel till it becomes vapid and spiritless, and even without savour. It is the greater pity and shame it should be so, when the truth in these matters is so very plain and so very easy, that he that runs may read it. But many have had a greater mind to dispute and contend about these things, than to draw spirit and life and nutriment to their souls out of them.
In the exercises of religion, there is that in the faith by which they are justified and saved, that will prompt unto them, if that faith have place in them. And we are concerned to see to it that it have, that is to look to our state. And if we cannot conclude it to be for the present good, not to sit down there; for to sit down destitute of such a faith, is to sit down in the midst of death and under condemnation. That is n fourth thing which, living to God as a consequent of that faith which justifies and will finally save, doth carry in it of friendship towards God. Living to God, inferred by 456such a faith, doth include in it a continual disposition to the exercises of religion, as the result of that faith, and as proceeding from an amiable and friendly affection towards God. But,
(5.) This living to God, as it is consequential of faith which justifies and will save, continually obligeth to do nothing against him to our uttermost or with self-allowance. Herein the reason of the thing speaks itself: if my whole life be a dedicated, devoted life, and all the powers and proper ties and actions belonging thereunto be so devoted, then there is nothing to be done against him who is the end and terminus of this life. I can allow myself to do nothing, I am surprized if ever I do any thing; it is an unintended, indeliberate thing, if any thing be done to the prejudice of his interest, that any thing diminisheth or soils his glory, or obscures and darkens it. It will be a grief to the soul, if it be a believing soul, (if it believe, by that faith which he justifies and saves,) that he is offended. For there is hereupon that entireness of self-dedication to him, that there is nothing of us left, excepted from obligation, or that can be directed against him or his interest in any kind. I can do nothing (saith the apostle) against the truth, but for it. I can do nothing; it is a certain sort of powerful impotency, an impotency that speaks power. I can do nothing against the truth; there is a positive principle obliges and prompts me otherwise. So the apostle, Gal. v. 17, “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would:” indeed in neither kind. But it is plain the latter by the scope of that context must be meant, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the flesh;” that is the thing there to be proved, that walking in the Spirit is a certain remedy against fulfilling the lusts of the flesh. How is that proved? Why, saith he, though it be true that the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, yet the Spirit doth so strive and lust against the flesh, that ye cannot do what, according to your carnal, corrupt inclinations, you otherwise would. You cannot, you are inhibited; for you look upon yourselves as devoted ones; your life is consecrated, and all the powers relating thereto. And therefore, they cannot be used to counterwork the great design you have undertaken and engaged to serve. If I live unto God pursuantly unto faith in that gospel, then I cannot deliberately do any thing which hath a direct tendency to depress his interest or darken his glory.
(6.) This faith, as it infers our living to God, allows us 457not to have any separate interest from him. The maxim of that great Pagan, “All things of friends are common,” obtains strongly in this case. There is a friendship between God and me. I must not have a separate interest. His interest is mine, and my interest is his. So that if my life be a sacred, devoted life, when I buy, when I sell, when this and that way I am employed in secular and civil negociations, it will be looked upon as a most unlawful and wicked presumption to make myself mine own end in all this. No, God is my end; I live unto God. And that faith by which I am justified, obliges and prompts me hereunto; that is, so and so I do, that I may glorify God. Not finally that I may please myself, and indulge my own inclinations, and satisfy any appetite of mine; whether it be an appetite to live in pleasure, or whether it be an appetite to grow rich and great in the world. No, by no means; my life is a sacred thing, a devoted thing. “To me to live is Christ;” and so all the actions of human and civil life must terminate in God, as the end, if indeed I live to God. For if that be my end, it is my last end; and the last end is that into which all others do run. And whatsoever doth not serve the last end, doth really and finally serve none at all. And so all those actions are lost actions; i.e. they cannot come properly under the notion of human actions. If they do not refer to the last end, they are beside any end. It is the last end that infers whatever there is of order in this world; all runs into confusion that is not referred to the last end.
We are concerned to look carefully to our hearts about this, that we suffer not any secret dispositions and workings of spirit contrary hereunto. To go from day to day, and I cannot answer it to my conscience, that it is God that I have been serving; serving him in my calling, and not myself; Oh, in what peace can such an one lie down at night, when he hath been playing the idolater all day, and usurping upon Majesty—the Majesty of heaven? For it is God’s prerogative to be all things, the last as well as the first, “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.” For a creature born but the other day, lately sprung up into being, to rival the universal Lord of heaven and earth, and to take upon him as if he were God—I will be my own end, pursue an interest of my own, separately and apart from God—this is to pluck himself from under the rule of the Universal Ruler, and to say, I will have no Lord over me; I am my own, and not his. But a man’s having devoted his life, so 458as that be can be said to live to God, is necessarily exclusive of all tins. And thereupon again,
(7.) This living to God, consequent upon justifying and saving faith, will oblige and prompt us to take in God with us in all our affairs; to go about nothing without him; for we are to act dependency in every thing; to commit our way unto the Lord. Committing is believing; committing is trusting. And we are to cast all our burden upon him, and all our care upon him, expecting he will care for us. This living to God includes. Every man, as he is called therein, let him abide with God. 1. Cor. vii. 24. Implying, you have nothing to do in all this world, which you cannot better do with God than without him. You have no business to do in all this world, wherein you need to sever and part yourselves from God. No, take him in with you, as your first and last. And if we design him as our end, so as that he be our last, it will necessarily infer the other too. If I am to act for him in every thing, I must act from him; otherwise I act unproportionably. God can not be served but with his own. What is to be done for his glory, is to be” done by his power. This is that trust in God which allows us not to lean to our own understanding, but to commence with him in all things, and have our eye keep quick turns with Him; ever and anon to look up and apply ourselves to him, and appeal to him; Lord, thou seest that I am aiming at thee, as I do depend on thee for conduct and support all along in my way. And,
(8.) This living to God, as it is consequent of such a faith, implies, and must bring about, our enjoying of all things in him and with him, and in order to him. As well what we enjoy, as what we do, is all in him, if our life be once a devoted life. For we are to consider life, not only as an active principle, but also as a fruition. And a life devoted to God, doth as well enjoy all things in God, whatsoever he doth enjoy, as all for him. So that this will be the sense of a believing soul (which is prompted by that faith to a course of living unto God), “I have no enjoyment under the sun, that carries any taste or relish in it without God.” Many will say, “Who will shew us any good?” But Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon me, and this shall be more to me than the increase of corn and wine and oil. When men can please themselves with the creature (excluding God, setting God aside), solace themselves with this and that creature-comfort apart 459from God, neglecting and disregarding God; this is quite beside the genius of a life sacred to God,—most contrary to the notion of living to Him. For life is the principle by which we enjoy what is enjoyable, as well as the principle by which we do or practise what is practicable. And that is one thing which that faith which is justifying and will save, doth infer, which carries very great appearance and expressions of friendliness in it, living to God. The most friendly thing we are capable of doing. And it appears so, if we consider the several mentioned things that do concur in it. But,
2. It infers too, in the next place, liberty towards God, as well as living to him. The next thing to life, is liberty. A life dedicated to God, is inferred by a vital faith; and liberty is as certainly and necessarily inferred. That is a liberty and freedom towards him,—and what is more friendly? By that you estimate friendship; to wit, by liberty and freedom towards one another, which is the certain effect and consequent of vital trust. There is no such thing as real living faith, but from a spirit of faith, of which we read, 2 Cor. iv. 13. “We having the same spirit of faith,” the same that David had (he is quoting David there in that place;) “I believed, therefore have I spoken,” saith the apostle Paul, as David had said so many hundred years before. We also believe, and, therefore, speak, having the same spirit of faith. So that there never was faith in the world, among them that did really and truly believe in God, but it was from one and the same spirit of faith, working uniformly in the several ages and successions of time. The same spirit of faith which David had in his time, the apostle had in his time. And he doth riot speak of himself separately, but including other Christians, “We having the same spirit of faith.” Lay this scripture to that other in the foregoing chapter, 2 Cor. iii. 17, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Where that Spirit is not, the soul is in bonds. They that are not under grace, but under a condemning law (which they must be, by standing under a covenant of work?), they are slaves; that covenant “genders to bondage,” (Gal. iv. 24.) the covenant of grace unto liberty. And so all that are of the spiritual seed, born of the Spirit (as all true believers are) they are the children of “that Jerusalem which is free, and is the mother of us all.” Hence, from that faith which instates a man in the grace of the covenant, he hath a freedom in his spirit towards God. And do but mark hereupon 460the connexion between these two things, in that of the Psalmist, (Psalm lxii. 8.) “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your hearts before him.” He that hath no vital trust in God, is shut up towards God, his spirit is pent in, he hath no liberty towards God. When he goes to pray, or applies himself to any other work, he is like a man that cannot find his hands. He is manacled and bound, hand and foot. The spirit that rules in him, is a spirit of bondage: but the spirit of adoption, the spirit of sons, is a spirit of liberty and freedom. He can be free with God, as a man can be free with his friend. And it is friendly when he can be so; when he can pour out his soul to him, make his complaint, spread his desires, and represent his grievances. You can do so towards such an one, towards whom you bear a friendly mind, but not to a stranger. And,
3. Such a faith as justifies, and will save, infers a communication of secrets. This it infers, that you do not affect to cover or keep any thing secret from God. You cannot only use a liberty in expressing your desires, and making your complaints and moans to him, but you have nothing at all that you would reserve and hide from him, or make a secret to him. This, faith prompts unto. You very well know, that when we communicate a secret, that which we would have be a secret, we seek to commit and entrust it to a friend. I trust such a man with my secrets, that is friendship. Such a friendly mind accompanies faith towards God. I do not desire that anything should be a secret with me from him. A guilty soul, that hath none of this faith, cries, Oh, give me a corner, give me a cloud, give me darkness, in which I may be wrapt up. When it is said “there is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity can hide themselves:” it is the thing they seek,—that is the thing they covet. But the believing soul saith, I would have no secret between me and this great friend, nothing that I would reserve as a secret from him. So he is pleased to express friendliness to us, by communicating his secrets, by unfolding to us that gospel which was a secret from ages, and from generations by-past. So our Lord Christ argues his own friendliness to his disciples: “I have called you friends; for all things that have been made known unto me of my Father, I have made known unto you.” John xv. 15. As you have largely heard. The same way are we to express friendliness to him. And faith will infer it, that we can freely open to him all our secrets, and 461never be upon our reserves towards him. And not only because we cannot help it, but because we choose it. It is not a thing unavoidably imposed upon us; but it is a thing that a friendly mind prompts us to, to tell him all our hearts. We would have no design which should not be under his eye, and about which we would not communicate with him. This the faith that justifies will infer. I should have insisted a little in the next place upon this,
4. That it obliges to the strictest watchfulness against the insinuations of this world into our hearts; because the friendship of this world is enmity against God. I pray bear it away with you. I must in faithfulness warn you of it. If you consider it not, all friendly concern with God is at an end. To have the world follow you into your closets, and into family duties, and into the public solemnities of worship, and you still carry the world with you, a worldly heart, a worldly mind, and worldly desires—this is very dangerous; for, know ye not that the friendship of this world is enmity against God? When it is said, “Let your conversation be without covetousness,” it is added, “for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Heb. xiii. 5. There are five negatives, never, never, never, never, never. What doth that imply? It implies thus much,—that if yet I will allow, and indulge and cherish in my soul a predominant worldly inclination, I care not for the divine presence in comparison of this world. It signifies, that the world is more to me than God and the divine presence, and the glory of it; and that I had rather he should forsake me, than I should forsake this world. A worldly inclination is for this a less tolerable and more unallowable thing, because it contributes nothing to a man’s enjoying more of this world, for there is nothing to be done in the pursuit of any honest design in the world, but I may better do it in subordination to God, than in opposition. I may use my understanding as well, and take in God with me, and keep myself in the divine presence, and continue united and cleaving to him in heart and spirit. And, therefore, if a worldly mind do draw a soul off from God, this is to be worldly for worldliness sake; it profiteth a man nothing, it plucks him away from God to no purpose. Any thing that were lawful and honest and just, might as well have been done, designed, and enjoyed, notwithstanding my intercourse with God, Faith is 462our victory over the world; that faith, therefore, which doth justify a man, and set all things right between God and him, it must needs fortify against worldly inclinations, and make this world despicably little, and render God always gloriously great in mine eyes.
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