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Chapter IV. Necessity of holiness from God’s sending Jesus Christ.
The necessity of holiness proved from the design of God in sending Jesus Christ, with the ends of his mediation.
IV. We have yet other considerations and arguments to plead unto the same purpose with them foregoing; for one principal end of the design of God in sending his Son into the world was, to recover us into a state of holiness, which we had lost: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil,” 1 John iii. 8. The manifestation of the Son of God was his incarnation, 1 Tim. iii. 16, in order to the work which he had to accomplish in our nature; and this was, in general, the destruction of the works of the devil; and among these, the principal was the infecting of our nature and persons with a principle of sin and enmity against God, which was the effect of his temptation. And 629this is not done but by the introduction of a principle of holiness and obedience. The image of God in us was defaced by sin. The renovation or restoration hereof was one principal design of Christ in his coming. Unless this be done, there is no new world, no new creatures, no restoration of all things, — no one end of the mediation of Christ fully accomplished. And whereas his great and ultimate design was to bring us unto the enjoyment of God, unto his eternal glory, this cannot be before, by grace and holiness, we are “made meet for that inheritance of the saints in light.” But we shall consider this matter a little more distinctly.
The exercise of the mediation of Christ is confined unto the limits of his threefold office. Whatever he doth for the church, he doth it as a priest, or as a king, or as a prophet. Now, as these offices agree in all the general ends of his mediation, so they differ in their acts and immediate objects: for their acts, it is plain, — sacerdotal, regal, and prophetical acts and duties, — are of different natures, as the offices themselves are unto which they appertain; and for their objects, the proper immediate object of the priestly office is God himself, as is evident both from the nature of the office and its proper acts. For as to the nature of the office, “every priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins,” Heb. v. 1. A priest is one who is appointed to deal with God in the behalf of them for whom he executes his office. And the acts of the priestly office of Christ are two, oblation and intercession, of both which God is the immediate object. He offered himself unto God, and with him he makes intercession. But the immediate object of Christ’s kingly and prophetical offices are men or the church. As a priest, he acts with God in our name and on our behalf; as a king and prophet, he acts towards us in the name and authority of God.
This being premised, we may consider how each of these offices of Christ hath an influence into holiness, and makes it necessary unto us:—
First, For the priestly office of Christ, all the proper acts of it do immediately respect God himself, as hath been declared; and, therefore, he doth not by any sacerdotal act immediately and efficiently work holiness in us. But the effects of these priestly acts, that is, his oblation and intercession, are of two sorts:— 1. Immediate, such as respect God himself; as atonement, reconciliation, satisfaction. In these consist the first and fundamental end of the mediation of Christ. Without a supposition of these all other things are rendered useless. We can neither be sanctified nor saved by him unless sin be first expiated and God atoned. But they are not of our present consideration. 2. The mediate effects of Christ’s 630sacerdotal actings respect us, and are also of two sorts:— (1.) Moral, as our justification and pardon of sin. (2.) Real, in our sanctification and holiness. And hereunto, as God doth design them, so he effecteth holiness in all believers by virtue of the oblation and intercession of Jesus Christ. Wherefore, although the immediate actings of that office respect God alone as their proper object, yet the virtue and efficacy of them extend themselves unto our sanctification and holiness.
Tit. ii. 14, “He gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” His “giving himself for us” is the common expression for his offering himself a sacrifice to God as a priest, Eph. v. 2. And this he did not only that he might “redeem us from all iniquity,” from the guilt of our sins, and punishment due unto them, which are regarded in redemption, but also that he might “purify us to himself,” sanctify us, or make us holy and fruitful, or “zealous of good works.” His blood, as through the eternal Spirit he offered himself unto God, “purgeth our conscience from dead works to serve the living God,” Heb. ix. 14. There is a purging of sin which consists in the legal expiation of it, in making atonement; but the purging of a sinner, or of the conscience, is by real efficiency, in sanctification, which is declared to be one end of the oblation of Christ, chap. i. 3. So where he is said to “wash us from our sins in his own blood,” — namely, as shed and offered for us, — Rev. i. 5, it is not only the expiation of guilt, but the purification of filth, that is intended.
The way and manner how holiness is communicated unto us by virtue of the death and oblation of Christ, I have showed before at large, and shall not, therefore, here again insist upon it. I shall only observe, that holiness being one especial end for which Christ “gave himself for us,” or “offered himself unto God” for us, without a participation thereof it is impossible that we should have the least evidence of an interest in his oblation as to any other end of it; and as for those who are never made holy, Christ never died or offered himself for them. I cannot understand what advantage it is unto religion to affirm that the most of them for whom Christ died as a priest, or offered himself as an oblation to God, shall have no benefit thereby as to grace or glory, and incomparably the most of them without any especial fault of their own, as never hearing of him. Neither can I find in the Scripture a double design of Christ in giving himself for mankind; — towards some, that they may be redeemed from all iniquity, and purified to be his peculiar ones; towards others, that they may yet be left under the guilt and power of their sins. And it evacuates the force of the motive unto the necessity of holiness from the consideration of the oblation of Christ, 631when men are taught that Christ offered himself a sacrifice for them who are never made holy. Wherefore, I say, no unholy person can have any certain evidence that he hath an interest in the oblation of Christ, seeing he gave himself to purify them for whom he was offered.
The intercession of Christ, which is his second sacerdotal act, hath also the same end, and is effectual to the same purpose. It is true, he doth intercede with God for the pardon of sin by virtue of his oblation, — whence he is said to be our advocate with God, to comfort us in case of surprisals by sin,1 John ii. 1, 2, — but this is not all he designeth therein; he intercedes also for grace and supplies of the Spirit, that we may be made and kept holy. See John xvii. 15, 17.
Secondly, As to the prophetical office of Christ, the church or men alone are its immediate object, and of all the acts and duties of it. He is therein God’s legate and ambassador, his apostle and messenger unto us. Whatever he doth as a prophet, he doth it with us and towards us in the name of God. And there are two parts or works of Christ in this office relating only to the doctrine he taught:— 1. The revelation of God in his name and love, in the mystery of his grace, and goodness, and truth, by his promises, that we may believe in him. 2. The revelation of God in his will and commands, that we may obey him. For the first, wherein, indeed, his prophetical office was principally exercised, see John i. 18, iii. 2, xvii. 6. The revelation of the preceptive will of God made by Jesus Christ may be considered two ways:— (1.) As he was peculiarly sent to the house of Israel, the “minister of the circumcision for the truth of the promises of God unto the fathers,” Rom. xv. 8. (2.) With respect unto the whole church of all ages.
(1.) The first, which took up much of his personal ministry in the flesh, consisted in the declarations, exposition, and vindication, that he gave unto the church of all divine precepts for obedience which had been given before. God had from the beginning, and in an especial manner at the promulgation of the law on Sinai, and by the ensuing expositions of it by the prophets, given excellent precepts for holiness and obedience; but the people unto whom they were given being carnal, they were not able to bear the spiritual light and sense of them, which was, therefore, greatly veiled under the Old Testament. Not only the promises, but the precepts also of the law, were then but obscurely apprehended. Besides, the church being grown corrupt, they were solemn expositions of God’s commands received amongst them, whose sole design was to accommodate them unto the lusts and sins of men, or to exempt men, if not totally yet in many instances, from an obligation unto obedience to them. Our blessed Saviour applies himself, in the discharge of his prophetical 632office, with respect unto the end of the command, which is our holy obedience, unto both these, in the declaration of its excellency and efficacy.
And, — [1.] He declares the inward spiritual nature of the law, with its respect unto the most secret frames of our hearts and minds, with the least disorder or irregularity of our passions and affections. And then, — [2.] He declares the true sense of its commands, their nature, signification, and extent, vindicating them from all the corrupt and false glosses which then passed current in the church, whereby there was an abatement made of their efficacy and an indulgence granted unto the lusts of men. Thus they had, by their traditional interpretation, restrained the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” unto actual murder; and the seventh, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” unto actual uncleanness; — as some now would restrain the second commandment unto the making of images and worshipping them, excluding the primary intent of the precept, restraining all means and manners of worship unto divine institution. How, in his doctrine, he took off these corruptions we may see, Matt. v. 21, 22, 27, 28.
Thus he restored the law to its pristine crown, as the Jews have a tradition that it shall be done in the days of the Messiah. Herein did the Lord Christ place the beginning of his prophetical office and ministry, Matt. v., vi., vii. He opened, unveiled, explained, and vindicated, the preceptive part of the will of God before revealed, to the end that by a compliance therewith we should be holy. The full revelation of the mind and will of God, in the perfection and spirituality of the command, was reserved for Christ in the discharge of his office; and he gave it unto us that we might have a perfect and complete rule of holiness. This, therefore, was the immediate end of this work or duty of the office of Christ; and when we answer it not, we reject that great prophet which God hath sent; to which excision is so severely threatened.
(2.) The second part of this office, or of the discharge of it with respect unto the church of all ages, which takes in the ministry of the apostles, as divinely inspired by him, consisted in the revelation of those duties of holiness, which although they had a general foundation in the law, and the equity of them was therein established, yet could they never have been known to be duties in their especial nature, incumbent on us and necessary unto us, but by his teachings and instructions. Hence are they called old and new commandments in distinct senses. Such are faith in God through himself, brotherly love, denial of ourselves in taking up the cross, doing good for evil, with some others of the same kind; and how great a part of evangelical holiness consists in these things is known. Besides, 633he also teacheth us all those ordinances of worship wherein our obedience unto him belongs unto our holiness also, whereby it is enlarged and promoted. This, I say, is the nature and end of the prophetical office of Christ, wherein he acts towards us from God and in his name, as to the declaration of the will of God in his commands; and it is our holiness which is his only end and design therein. So it is summarily represented, Tit. ii. 11, 12.
There are three things considerable in the doctrine of obedience that Christ teacheth:— [1.] That it reacheth the heart itself, with all its inmost and secret actings, and that in the first place. The practice of most goes no farther but unto outward acts; the teachings of many go no farther, or at best unto the moderation of affections; but he, in the first place, requires the renovation of our whole souls, in all their faculties, motions, and actings, into the image of God, John iii. 3, 5; Eph. iv. 22–24. [2.] It is extensive. There is nothing in any kind pleasing to God, conformable to his mind, or compliant with his will, but he requires it; nothing crooked, or perverse, or displeasing to God, but it is forbidden by him. It is, therefore, a perfect rule of holiness and obedience. [3.] Clearness, perspicuity, and evidence of divine truth and authority in all.
[1.] Hereby, I say, the doctrine of Christ for universal obedience, in all the duties of it, comes to be absolute, every way complete and perfect. And it is a notable effect of the atheistical pride of men, that, pretending to design obedience (at least in moral duties) unto God, they betake themselves unto other rules and directions, as either more plain, or full, or efficacious, than those of the gospel, which are the teachings of Christ himself, as the great prophet and apostle sent of God to instruct us in our duty. Some go to the light of nature and the use of right reason (that is, their own) as their guide; and some add the additional documents of the philosophers. They think a saying of Epictetus, or Seneca, or Arrianus, being wittily suited to their fancies and affections, to have more life and power in it than any precept of the gospel. The reason why these things are more pleasing unto them than the commands and instructions of Christ is because, proceeding from the spring of natural light, they are suited to the workings of natural fancy and understanding; but those of Christ, proceeding from the fountain of eternal spiritual light, are not comprehended in their beauty and excellency without a principle of the same light in us, guiding our understandings and influencing our affections. Hence, take any precept, general or particular, about moral duties, that is materially the same in the writings of philosophers and in the doctrine of the gospel, not a few prefer it as delivered in the first way before the latter. Such a contempt have men risen unto of Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God and the great 634prophet of the church! When he entered upon his office, the “voice came from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, hear him.” This succeeded into the room of all those terrible appearances and dreadful preparations which God made use of in the giving of the law; for he gave the law by the ministry of angels, who being mere creatures, he manifested the dread of his own presence among them, to give authority unto their ministrations. But when he came to reveal his will under the gospel, it being to be done by him “in whom dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily,” and who was intrusted himself with all divine power, he did no more but indigitate or declare which was the person, and give us a command in general to hear him. And this he did with respect unto what he had fixed before as a fundamental ordinance of heaven, — namely, that when he should raise up and send the great prophet of the church, whosoever would not hear him should be cut off from the people. A compliance, therefore, with this command, in hearing the voice of Christ, is the foundation of all holiness and gospel obedience. And if men will be moved neither with the wisdom, nor authority, nor goodness of God, in giving us this command and direction for our good; nor with the consideration of the endowments and faithfulness of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in the discharge of his prophetical office; nor from the remembrance that it is he, and not Epictetus, or Seneca, or Plato, to whom at the last day they must give their account, so as to take him alone for their guide in all obedience unto God and duty among themselves, — they will find, when it is too late, that they have been mistaken in their choice.
Let us suppose, if you please, at present, for the sake of them who would have it so, that all our obedience consists in morality, or the duties of it, — which is the opinion of (as one well calls them) our “modern heathens,” — from whence or whom shall we learn it, or to whom shall we go for teaching and instruction about it? Certainly, where the instruction or system of precepts is most plain, full, perfect, and free from mistakes; where the manner of teaching is most powerful and efficacious; and where the authority of the teacher is greatest and most unquestionable, — there we ought to apply ourselves to learn and be guided. In all these respects we may say of Christ, as Job said of God, “Who teacheth like him?” Job xxxvi. 22. Then, probably, shall we be taught of God, when we are taught by him. The commands and precepts of duties themselves which are given us by the light of nature, however improved by the wits and reasons of contemplative men, are many ways defective. For, —
1st. The utmost imaginations of men never reached unto that wherein the life and soul of holiness doth consist, — namely, the renovation of our lapsed nature into the image and likeness of God. 635Without this, whatever precepts are given about the moderation of affections and duties of moral holiness, they are lifeless, and will prove useless. And hence it is that by all those documents which were given by philosophers of old, the nature of no one individual person was ever renewed, what change soever was wrought on their conversation. But that this is plainly and directly required in the doctrine of obedience taught by Jesus Christ as the great prophet of the church, I have sufficiently proved in this whole discourse.
2dly. Very few of the precepts of it are certain, so as that we may take them for an undoubted and infallible rule. There are some general commands, I acknowledge, so clear in the light of nature as that no question can be made but that what is required in them is our duty to perform; such are they, that God is to be loved, that others are not to be injured, that everyone’s right is to be rendered unto him, whereunto all reasonable creatures do assent at their first proposal; — and where any are found to live in an open neglect, or seem to be ignorant of them, their degeneracy into bestiality is open, and their sentiments not at all to be regarded. But go a little farther, and you will find all the great moralists at endless, uncertain disputes about the nature of virtue in general, about the offices and duties of it, about the rule and measure of their practice. In these disputes did most of them consume their lives, without any great endeavours to express their own notions in their conversations. And from the same reason in part it is, I suppose, that our present moralists seem to care for nothing but the name; virtue itself is grown to be a strange and uncouth thing. But what is commanded us by Jesus Christ, there is no room for the least hesitation whether it be an infallible rule for us to attend unto or no. Every precept of his about the meanest duty is equally certain, and [as] infallibly declarative of the nature and necessity of that duty, as those of the greatest, and that have most evidence from the light of nature. If once it appear that Christ requires any thing of us by his word, that he hath taught us any thing as the prophet of the church, there is no doubt remains with us whether it be our duty or no.
3dly. The whole rule of duties given by the most improved light of nature, setting aside those that are purely evangelical, which some despise, is obscure and partial. There are sundry moral duties, which I instanced in before, which the light of nature, as it remains in the lapsed, depraved condition of it, never extended itself to the discovery of. And this obscurity is evident from the differences that are about its precepts and directions. But now as the revelation made by Christ, and his commands therein, are commensurate unto universal obedience and gives bounds unto it, so that there is no duty of it but what he hath commanded, and it is sufficient to discharge the 636most specious pleas and pretences of any thing to be a duty towards God or man, by showing that it is not required by him, so his commands and directions are plain and evidently perspicuous. I dare challenge the greatest and most learned moralist in the world to give an instance of any one duty of morality, confirmed by the rules and directions of the highest and most contemplative moralist, that I will not show and evince is more plainly and clearly required by the Lord Christ in the gospel, and pressed on us by far more effectual motives than any they are acquainted withal. It is, therefore, the highest folly as well as wickedness for men to design, plead, or pretend the learning duties of obedience from others rather than from Christ, the prophet of the church.
[2.] The manner of teaching, as to power and efficacy, is also considerable unto this end. And concerning this also we may say, “Who teacheth like him?” There was such eminency in his personal ministry, whilst he was on the earth, as filled all men with admiration. Hence it is said that “he taught as one having authority, and not as the scribes,” Matt. vii. 29; and another while “they wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth,” Luke iv. 22; and the very officers that were sent to apprehend him for preaching came away astonished, saying, “Never man spake like this man,” John vii. 46. It is true, it was not the design of God that multitudes of that hardened generation should be converted by his personal ministry, John xii. 37–40, as having another to fulfil in them, by them, and upon them; yet it is evident from the gospel that there was θεῖον τί, a divine power and glory accompanying his ministerial instructions. Yet this is not that which I intend, but his continued and present teaching of the church by his word and Spirit. He gives such power and efficacy unto it as that by its effects everyday it demonstrates itself to be from God, being accompanied with the evidence and demonstration of a spiritual power put forth in it. This the experiences, consciences, and lives of multitudes, bear witness unto continually. They do, and will to eternity, attest what power his word hath had to enlighten their minds, to subdue their lusts, to change and renew their hearts, to relieve and comfort them in their temptations and distresses, with the like effects of grace and power.
What is in the manner of teaching by the greatest moralist, and what are the effects of it? Enticing words, smoothness and elegancy of speech, composed into snares for the affections and delight unto the fancy, are the grace, ornament, and life of the way or manner of their teaching. And hereof evanid satisfaction, temporary resolutions for a kind of compliance with the things spoken, with, it may be, some few perishing endeavours after some change of life, are the best effects of all such discourses. And so easy and gentle is their 637operation on the minds of men, that commonly they are delighted in by the most profligate and obstinate sinners; as is the preaching of them who act in the same spirit and from the same principles.
[3.] Whereas the last thing considerable in those whose instructions we should choose to give up ourselves unto is their authority, that must be left without farther plea to the consciences of all men, whether they have the higher esteem of the authority of Christ the Son of God, or of those others whom they do admire; and let them freely take their choice, so they will ingenuously acknowledge what they do.
Whereas, therefore, the great end of the prophetical office of Christ, in the revelation he made of the will of God in the Scriptures, in his personal ministry, and in the dispensation of his word and Spirit continued in the church, is our holiness and obedience unto God, I could not but remark upon the atheism, pride, and folly of those “modern heathens,” who really, or in pretence, betake themselves to the light of nature and philosophical maxims for their guidance and direction, rather than to him who is designed of God to be the great teacher of the church. I deny not but that in the ancient moralists there are found many excellent documents concerning virtue and vice; but yet, having been, it may be, more conversant in their writings than most of those who pretend so highly unto their veneration, I fear not to affirm that as their sayings may be of use for illustration of the truth, which is infallibly learned another way, so take them alone, [and] they will sooner delight the minds and fancies of men than benefit or profit them as to the true ends of morality or virtue.
Thirdly, This, also, is one great end of the kingly power of Christ; for as such doth he subdue our enemies and preserve our souls from ruin. And those are our adversaries which fight against our spiritual condition and safety; such principally are our lusts, our sins, and our temptations, wherewith they are accompanied. These doth our Lord Christ subdue by his kingly power, quickening and strengthening in us, by his aids and supplies of grace, all principles of holy obedience. In brief, the work of Christ as a king may be reduced unto these heads:— 1. To make his subjects free; 2. To preserve them in safety, delivering their souls from deceit and violence; 3. In giving them prosperity, and increasing their wealth; 4. In establishing assured peace for them; 5. In giving them love among themselves; 6. In placing the interest and welfare of his kingdom in all their affections; 7. In eternally rewarding their obedience. And all these he doth principally by working grace and holiness in them, as might be easily demonstrated. I suppose none question but that the principal work of Christ towards us as our head and king is in making and preserving of us holy; I shall not, therefore, farther insist thereon.
638It remains that we improve these considerations unto the confirmation of our present argument concerning the necessity of holiness.
And, first, it is hence evident how vain and fond a thing it is for any persons continuing in an unholy condition to imagine that they have any interest in Christ, or shall have any benefit by him. This is the great deceit whereby Satan, that enemy of the common salvation, hath ruined the generality of mankind who profess the Christian religion. The gospel openly declares a way of life and salvation by Jesus Christ This is thus far admitted by all who are called Christians, that they will allow of no other way for the same end unto competition with it; for I speak not of them who, being profligate and hardened in sins, are regardless of all future concernments, but I intend only such as in general have a desire to escape the damnation of hell, and to attain immortality and glory. And this they at least profess to do by Jesus Christ, as supposing that the things to this purpose mentioned in the gospel do belong unto them as well as unto others, because they also are Christians. But they consider not that there are certain ways and means whereby the virtue and benefit of all that the Lord Christ hath done for us are conveyed to the souls of men, whereby they are made partakers of them. Without these we have no concernment in what Christ hath done or declared in the gospel. If we expect to be saved by Christ, it must be by what he doth and hath done for us, as a priest, a prophet, and a king. But one of the principal ends of what he doth in all these is to make us holy; and if these be not effected in us, we can have no eternal benefit by any thing that Christ hath done or continueth to do as the mediator of the church.
Hence the miserable condition of the generality of those who are called Christians, who live in sin, and yet hope to be saved by the gospel, is greatly to be bewailed. They contract to themselves the guilt of the two greatest evils that any reasonable creatures are liable unto in this world; for, — 1. They woefully deceive and ruin their own souls. Their whole profession of the gospel is but a crying, “Peace, peace,” when sudden destruction lies at the door. They “deny the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” They are bought and vindicated into the knowledge and profession of the truth, but in their works they deny him whom in words they own, — “whose damnation slumbereth not.” For men to live in covetousness, sensuality, pride, ambition, pleasures, hatred of the power of godliness, and yet to hope for salvation by the gospel, is the most infallible way to hasten and secure their own eternal ruin. And, 2. They cast the greatest dishonour on Christ and the gospel that any persons are capable of casting on them. Those by whom the Lord Christ is rejected as a seducer and the gospel as a fable do 639not more (I may say, not so much) dishonour the one and the other than those do who, professing to own them both, yet continue to live and walk in an unholy condition: for as to the open enemies of Christ, they are judged and condemned already, and none have occasion to think the worse of him or the gospel for their opposition unto them; but for those others who profess to own them, they endeavour to represent the Lord Christ as a minister of sin, as one who hath procured indulgence unto men to live in their lusts and in rebellion against God, and the gospel as a doctrine of licentiousness and wickedness. What else can anyone learn from them concerning the one or the other? The whole language of their profession is, that Christ is such a Saviour, and the gospel such a law and rule, as that men loving sin and living in sin may be saved by them. This is that which hath reflected all kind of dishonour on Christian religion, and put a stop unto its progress in the world. These are they of whom our apostle makes his bitter complaint: Phil. iii. 18, 19, “Many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ; whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.” How many that are called Christians doth this character suit in these days! Whatever they think of themselves, they are “enemies of the cross of Christ,” and do “tread under their feet the blood of the covenant.”
Secondly, Let more serious professors be most serious in this matter. The apostle having given assurance of the certain salvation of all true believers, from the immutable purpose of God, presently adds, “Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity,” 2 Tim. ii. 19; plainly intimating that without holiness, without a universal departure from iniquity, we cannot have the least evidence that we are interested in that assured condition. You name the name of Christ, profess an interest in him, and expect salvation by him; which way will you apply yourselves unto him? From which of his offices do you expect advantage? is it from his sacerdotal? Hath his blood purged your consciences from dead works that you should serve the living God? Are you cleansed, and sanctified, and made holy thereby? Are you redeemed out of the world by it, and from your vain conversation therein, after the customs and traditions of men? Are you by it dedicated unto God, and made his peculiar ones? If you find not these effects of the blood-shedding of Christ in and upon your souls and consciences, in vain will you expect those others of atonement, peace, and reconciliation with God, of mercy, pardon, justification, and salvation, which you look for. The priestly office of Christ hath its whole effects towards all on whom it hath any effect. Despisers of its fruits 640in holiness shall never have the least interest in its fruits in righteousness.
Is it from his actings as the great prophet of the church that you expect help and relief? Have you effectually learned of him “to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world?” Hath he taught you to be humble, to be meek, to be patient, to “hate the garment spotted with the flesh?” Hath he instructed you unto sincerity in all your ways, dealings, and whole conversation among men? Above all, hath he taught you, have you learned of him, to purify and cleanse your hearts by faith, to subdue your inward spiritual and fleshly lusts, to endeavour after a universal conformity unto his image and likeness? Do you find his doctrine effectual unto these ends? and are your hearts and minds cast into the mould of it? If it be so, your interest in him by his prophetical office is secured unto you. But if you say that you hear his voice in his word read and preached; that you have learned many mysteries and have attained much light or knowledge thereby, at least that you know the substance of the doctrine he hath taught so as that you can discourse of it; yea, and that you do many things or perform many duties according unto it; but cannot say that the effects before inquired after are wrought in you by his word and Spirit, — you lose the second expectation of an interest in Christ as mediator, or any advantage thereby.
Will you betake yourselves to the kingly office of Christ? and have you expectations on him by virtue thereof? You may do well to examine how he ruleth in you and over you. Hath he subdued your lusts, those enemies of his kingdom which fight against your souls? Hath he strengthened, aided, supported, assisted you by his grace, unto all holy obedience? And have you given up yourselves to be ruled by his word and Spirit, to obey him in all things, and to intrust all your temporal and eternal concernments unto his care, faithfulness, and power? If it be so, you have cause to rejoice, as those who have an assured concern in the blessed things of his kingdom. But if your proud, rebellious lusts do yet bear sway in you; if sin have dominion over you; if you continue to “fulfil the lusts of the flesh and of the mind;” if you walk after the fashions of this world, and not as obedient subjects of that kingdom of his which is not of this world, — deceive not yourselves any longer, Christ will be of no advantage unto you.
In these things lie the sum of our present argument. If the Lord Christ act no otherwise for our good but in and by his blessed offices of priest, prophet, and king; and if the immediate effect of the grace of Christ acting in all these offices towards us be our holiness and sanctification, — those in whom that effect is not wrought and produced 641have neither ground nor reason to promise themselves an interest in Christ, or any advantage by his mediation. For men to “name the name of Christ,” to profess themselves Christians, or his disciples, to avow an expectation of mercy, pardon, life and salvation by him, and in the meantime to be in themselves worldly, proud, ambitious, envious, revengeful, haters of good men, covetous, living in divers lusts and pleasures, is a scandal and shame unto Christian religion, and unavoidably destructive to their own souls.
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