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typical event, an emblem of the sure standing of the saints, while hypocrites fall away and perish.
This double seal answers to the two parts of the covenant; Jer. xxxii. 40, " And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me." This covenant shall not fail on God's part, for it hath this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his;" nor on the part of the saints, for it hath this seal, "Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." Let us attend,
1. To the seal itself, which, in its general nature, is a command of sanctification; in which consider, to whom it is directed, upon whom this awful charge is laid. They are the Lord's own words, directed to every one that nameth the name of his Son, that is, to all who profess Christ. And this character of professors serves not only to distinguish them from those without the church, who are incapable of apostacy; but also shows the obligation laid on them to holiness by their profession, the holy name named by them binding them to a holy life. The inconsistency between the holy profession and an unholy life, which, though men join together, God will have separated, sooner or later, for he will strip them either of their fair name, or their foul heart and life, in time or in eternity. Consider, the duty commanded, "to depart from iniquity," as from a thing one formerly stood to and followed. Iniquity is that thing which we all naturally follow as a master and leader; but there must be a falling off from it, an apostacy, or falling away from sin, as the word imports. And this is the way to prevent apostacy from the Lord; for this does import, that it is some one iniquity or other indulged, and left to reign in the heart, which betrays professors into apostacy, as Judas, Demas, &c. Consider,
2. How this can be a seal to secure the saints and elect ones from apostacy, since it is but a commandment? To this I answer, that the nature of the preceding seal would seem to have required this expression, "And they that are his depart from iniquity." But it is in form of a command, to show that the saints depart from inj quity by choice, and that they are by the Lord himself powerfully determined to this choice; so that their perseverance is both rational and gracious. It is a command, at the same time it is a powerful and efficacious command of God, like that in Gen. i. 3, "And God said, Let there be light, and there was light;" a command which effects what it requires in all who are his. It is such a command as that in Num. xvi. 26, (quoted above), which brought away from the tents of Dathan and Abiram, all who were not to be swallowed up
with them. And this command is going through wherever the gospel is preached, and will go till the last day; like a brisk wind separating the corn from the chaff, carrying away from the tents of sin all who are ordained to eternal life, though others dwell on in them still. Thus, though the profane and hypocritical, and all who are not the Lord's, are still held by some one bond of sin or other which is never broken: yet this powerful word looses the bands of all sin, sets them and their sins asunder, and keeps them asunder, who, being sealed with the first seal, are his. And all this God's efficacious word can do, as well as keep the world from returning into its primitive mass of confusion; Heb. i. 3, "Upholding all things by the word of his power." And so it is a seal securing them from apostacy. From this subject two general doctrines may be proposed:
DOCTRINE I. That God doth charge all who name the name of Christ to depart from iniquity.
DOCTRINE II. That God's charge to depart from iniquity becomes infallibly effectual in all who are his, so as that they do truly depart from iniquity, while others hold it fast to their utter ruin. I begin with the
First, That God doth charge all that name the name of Christ to depart from iniquity.
In illustrating this point, I shall shew,
I. Who they are whom the Lord charges to depart from iniquity. II. What is implied in departing from iniquity, which God chargeth these to do.
III. How he charges these who name the name of Christ to depart from iniquity.
IV. Why these particularly who name the name of Christ are charged to do so. And then add the practical improvement.
I. To shew who they are whom the Lord charges to depart from iniquity.
The text tells you it is every one who names the name of Christ. Thus, it is every one of you, whatever your character be. The poor pagans, amongst whom Christ is not named, God winks at them; but he charges you, and every one of you, to depart from iniquity. This charge is to you,
1. Baptized persons, capable to discern betwixt good and evil; the name of Christ is called upon you, and you name him; God charges you to depart from iniquity. You are engaged to be the Lord's, to fight against the devil, the world, and the flesh. You
have no liberty to follow your lusts, and the vanity of your minds. You are charged, as God's subjects, to have no more converse with his enemies; since you have given up your names to Christ, you are to dwell no more in the tents of sin. There is no exception of the young more than the old, but every one who nameth the name of Christ is to depart from iniquity. The charge is to you,
2. Who profess faith in Christ, and hope of salvation through him. You name his name, and therefore you are charged. Although, perhaps, you will not so much as bow a knee to God, nor have so much as a form of godliness, yet you have not renounced the faith, nor your part in Christ; therefore, since you retain his name, and will be called Christians, depart from iniquity; live like Christians, and not like those who never heard of Christ.-The charge is to you,
3. Who pray to God through Christ. You name the name of Christ, and therefore are charged to depart from iniquity. Some of you, perhaps, pray only sometimes, as if you had more necessary business than serving the Lord; some pray ordinarily, yet go on in some sinful course or other; as if God was only to be served with fair words, and your lusts with the whole course of your life. But though this be your situation, this charge God lays on you notwithstanding, Depart from iniquity. This charge is to you,
4. Who profess faith in Christ, and holiness of life also. You name the name of Christ, and therefore you should depart from iniquity. Are there not many such, whose lives are miserably stained in points of immorality, who walk most unsuitably to their character, by reason of whom the way of truth is evil spoken of? Rom. ii. 23, "Thou that makest thy boast of the law through breaking the law, dishonourest thou God?" God charges you to walk up to your character, to your profession, and to depart from iniquity.This charge is,
Lastly, To communicants who name the name of Christ in a most solemn manner, by sitting down at his table, before God, angels, and men. This charge is to you. You have named this name, and gone back to those iniquities of which you were convinced. Are there not some who have adventured to stretch forth their hand to the Lord at his table, and have quickly again stretched it out to their lusts? To you the Lord is saying, Quit your communicating, or your iniquity; join no more an unholy life to such a fair and flaming profession.
We are now,
II. To shew what is implied in this departing from iniquity which God chargeth us to aim at.-Here,
1st, Let us inquire in what this departure, this happy apostacy lies. And,
2dly, What of iniquity God charges us to depart from.-We are 1st, To inquire in what this departure, this happy apostacy lies. There are five things which belong to it.-There is,
God says of sin to all who
1. A giving up with our rest in sin. name Christ," Arise ye, and depart for this is not your rest; because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction." Sinners, ye are settled on your lees, as wine on the dregs, but there must be a separation; you are dwelling in a dangerous place, like Lot in Sodom; lying among the pots, as the Israelites in Egypt; sleeping securely like the sluggard on his bed, "while his poverty cometh as one that travaileth, and his want as an armed man." God chargeth you to awake and bestir yourself, to spring to your feet, and prepare to make progress in the ways of holiness. -There is,
2. A going off from sin, and giving up with it: Job xxxiv. 32, "If I have done iniquity, I will do no more." God is saying to you of sin's dominion, as he said to the Israelites at Horeb, "Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount; therefore up and be gone from the tents of wickedness; ye have dwelt too long in the tents of Mesech and Kedar." May not the time past suffice to have done the will of the flesh? 1 Pet. iv. 3, Ye "have long wandered on the mountains of vanity, come away from them now: Song iv. 8, "Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon." Bid a long farewell now, and turn your backs on the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.-There is,
3. A standing off from sin, as the word properly signifies: Prov. iv. 15, "Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away." Keep yourselves at a distance. Stand off from it as from a fire that will consume you, as from a leprosy that will infect you, as from an unclean thing that will defile you, as from a sword and arrow which will pierce and wound you to death, as from a serpent whose biting and stinging is poisonous, painful, and deadly.-There is,
4. A going off to the other side, namely, to Christ and holiness; Isa. lv. 7, "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." There can be no neutrality in the matter betwixt sin and holiness, no standing between the two: "He that is not with me is against me," saith Jesus; "and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad," Matth. xii. 30. Sin and holiness are such opposites, that one of them must be predominant in every subject capable of either. Apostates
from religion betake themselves to the other side, and they who run away from Christ, they list themselves under Satan's banner; and so do those who fall away from sin, fall in with Christ and newness of life. There is,
Lastly, A going farther and farther from sin. Even the saints must always be departing from it: Job, xi. 14, "If iniquity be in thine hand, put it far away, and let not wickedness dwell in thy tabernacles." The first departure of the saints in conversion, though it be sincere, is not perfect; but what is then begun, must be held on in the progress of sanctification, as a spring, when opened, runs and runs on, till the mud be wholly removed out of the fountain. Prov. iv. 18, "The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day." They, having this hope, purify themselves, even as God is pure, 1 John iii. 3. And hence their departing from sin consists in daily mortification, and living more and more to righteousness.
Secondly, Let us inquire what of iniquity God charges us to depart from. It is the accursed thing, with which we have nothing to do. We must depart from all sin, from the whole of it.-We must depart,
1. From under the dominion of sin: Rom. vi. 12, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." Sin has a dominion over all who are out of Christ. It commands their whole man. The motions of it are the laws they obey. It is a dominion which is opposed to Christ's; in the one, grace reigns unto life; but in the other, sin reigns unto death. Christ offers to break the bands of your yoke; come then to him, and shake off the yoke of your sins, renounce your allegiance, withdraw and refuse obedience to your old masters; say, "What have I any more to do with idols ?"-We must depart,
2. From the practice of sin, Isa. lv. 7, quoted above. Give up with and put an end to your sinful courses; be no longer workers of iniquity, for such workers will get a sad reward of their work, Matth. vii. 23,"Depart from me, ye that work iniquity." To what purpose do men pretend to believe in Christ, while they are the servants of sin? How can one serve two such contrary masters? What avails the pretended belief of the truth, which purges not the heart and life of ungodliness and unrighteousness; Rom. i. 18, " For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." Depart then from the practice of sin,-in your outward man, your life and conversation. God is saying to you this day, James, iv. 8, "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye double