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there is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Hereby you will find them on the other side of the grave, you will carry them along with you to another world, or rather you will go to them there in their perfection. For all of that kind here is but the first fruits, and a pledge of what is to be had in heaven. There the saints shall enjoy the most refined pleasure in a perfection which we cannot now comprehend, and withal the most profound peace, without the least touch of uneasiness while eternity lasts.
Now I have delivered my message unto you, respecting the pleasure and peace of God's way. I have recommended religion unto you, and laboured to remove the prejudice of unpleasantness which Satan and the world lay it under, intending to dress it up in such a frightful figure, as to make you afraid of it. I now would ask you, 1. Do you now believe? John xvi. 31. Do you credit the report of the gospel, respecting the way of religion? Do you believe it to be the true way of pleasure and peace? I am afraid the hearts of some do look on what has been said, but as pulpit flourishes, and idle tales. But what is that, but to disbelieve the word of God, for nothing can be said higher, than what our text itself says on this matter. I tell you, if you be not cured of your unbelief, you will be cured of it, when you come to be in the situation of the rich man, "who when in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments."
2. Are you now resolved to take this way or not? What will you do, will you hold on the broad way with the multitude, and not know the way of peace? Or will you now resolve to turn your back on them and it, and go by the footsteps of the flock? I would say to you as the prophet Gad said unto David, "Now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me." Sirs, your all
is lying at stake. Your state for eternity turns upon this point. Take heed what you do. Is there any one among us who will say in their practice still, "It is vain to serve God. For I have loved strangers, and after them will I go." Such persons have no taste for the pleasures of religion, but are resolved to make the best which they can of the pleasure and peace in the way of sin. Then I must tell you, That you are left without excuse, and are not only losers but despisers of the promised land. For I must protest in behalf of him that sent me, that none among us, young nor old shall have it to say, that they knew not that religion was a pleasant life, but that the veil is drawn off her face, that whosoever would, might see her loveliness and attractive beauty.
I must also tell you that in this you sin against displayed love and good-will. God has not been speaking to you from Sinai with
thunder and terror, but from Sion, with the still small voice. You are not driven with whips into the way, nor dragged with chains of iron, but drawn with cords of love, and yet you will not come.
Therefore I say finally, that by this you do judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life. And therefore I declare that if you do not repent you shall never see life, but wrath will be your portion. And it will be dear bought pleasure and peace now, at the rate of everlasting burnings, and roarings under the lashes of revenging justice.
But now if there be any who are resolved to go this way, their question will be, what course shall I take to find the pleasure and peace of religion?
1. Close with Christ the Mediator of peace, in the way of the covenant of peace through his blood. Come up into the chariot in the way of believing. This is the only true foundation of the pleasure and peace of religion.
2. Be still going to Christ in a way of believing for the supplies of the Spirit of holiness, to carry on the renewing of your nature. For the more your nature be renewed and the old nature crucified, the more pleasure and peace you will find in religion.
3. Grow in love to the Lord, by believing God to be your God in Christ, believing what he hath done for you in the great work of redemption, and what he hath prepared for you that love him.
4. Labour to starve your lusts, and to root out the love of the world. "Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof," 1 John ii. 15-17. As long as the gust and relish of earthly things is too quick and lively, the gust of religion will be flat and dull. A heart drenched in sensuality, or any excessive love to created things, will be like wet wood, not easily fired from heaven.
5. Strive to be spiritual in every duty, aiming at communion with God in religious exercises, studying to do whatever you do from right principles, in a right manner, and to a right end, for in these consist the life of religion, Song iv. 16. and v. 11.
6. Be a constant close walker with God, making religion your business; this will turn it to be a pleasure unto you; and the more you go on in it without interruption, it will be the more pleasant.
7. Go often to the fountain to wash, and to make much use of an imputed righteousness. "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh." This is the way to keep the conscience sweet and pure, to get the peace of God to rule in your hearts.
8. Believe the promises of strength and furniture for duty, and VOL. III.
to go to the duty upon the credit of the promise. "This is to be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."
Lastly, Be heavenly in your frame and conversation. "For our conversation, says Paul, is in heaven." Keep the other world much in your view. Live in the hope of drinking of the rivers of pleasure. Believe the promises about these things, and let it be your main scope and end to get forward thither. So life will be blessed and death no terror. Or if you would have the directions in one word, Live by faith, and then you will find the pleasure and peace of religion. Amen.
Ettrick, Oct. 2, 1720.
THOSE THAT ARE IN CHRIST ARE DEAD TO THE WORLD.
THESE words are a reason of the preceding exhortation, to set our affections on things above, not on things upon the earth. We must not set our hearts on, nor by any means seek the things on earth as our happiness; for we are dead, and the dead have laid down all their worldly care in the grave, and have no more to do with this world. Now all that are in Christ are dead, yea buried with him and risen again, chap. ii. 12. and iii. 1. And of these only the text speaks, as for others they are yet alive.
Question. In what sense are believers said to be dead?
There is a natural death consisting in the separation of the soul from the body; of this the apostle speaks not. A moral death consisting in a separation of certain qualities from the soul, which are the principles of action according to their kind, which being removed, the soul acts no more in that way, than a man morally dead moves and acts. There is a twofold moral life competent to man. One in Adam, another in Christ; the former our natural stock, the latter the supernatural one. In these, all men, as branches, live a life agreeable to the nature of the stock to which they are united. In the former all natural men are living, in the latter all believers. Those who are in Christ are cut out of the natural stock, and so
they are dead to it; engrafted to Christ, and so they are alive to him. This death of which the apostle speaks, is the dying of the soul to the natural stock, whereby it comes to pass that the communication is stopped betwixt that stock and them, as by natural death the communication betwixt the soul and the body is stopped. This death is fourfold:
1. Believers are dead to the law as a covenant of works. This is the doctrine of the scriptures. "Wherefore, says Paul, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead that we should bring forth fruit unto God." This is also the doctrine of our confession of faith, chap. xix. article 6. So that as the law is a covenant, believers have no more to do with it, than a dead wife has with the husband, to whom she was sometime married. Christ by his death, has removed the obligation of it as a covenant from those that are his, and as it were grinded to powder the stones on which it was written. In the mean time, he gives the same law to believers, as the will of their new husband.
2. They are dead to themselves. "For none of us, saith Paul,
liveth to himself." Believers live to him that loved them and died for them. "For me, saith Paul, to live is Christ." Natural men being in the old stock, the covenant of works is the covenant by which they are influenced. Self is the principle and end of their actions. When one comes to Christ, he dies to the first covenant, he dies to the old principle, for behold the law of the new marriage: "And I said unto her, thou shalt abide for me many days, thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man; so will I also be for thee." And so among the first lessons learned at Christ's school is self-denial, by which one dies to his natural, moral, and religious self.
3. They are dead to sin. "How shall we who are dead to sin, says Paul, live any longer therein." The dominion or reigning power of it in them is broken. "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the law, but under grace." It is no more their trade and course of life which they choose. "He that is born of God doth not commit sin." The firm hold which their heart and affections had of it is loosed, and it lies on them as a burden of which their souls are weary.
4. They are dead to the world. "But God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." There they sought their happiness before they came to Christ; there they always sought a resting place, and satisfaction to their hearts. Their affections lay
in them dead to God and the things of another world; but living and lively to the things of a present life. But now the glass is turned, and they are dead to that world, which they valued so much before.
All these are comprehended in the death here meant; but the death to the world is the thing chiefly aimed at. So the doctrine is, Doctrine.-Those that are in Christ are dead to the world: I
I. Shew in what respect they are dead to the world.
II. What way this dying to the world is brought about: we are then,
I. To shew in what respects they are dead to the world:
1. In their head Jesus Christ, hence they are said to be buried with him in baptism. He lived in the world for a time, at length he left it by death, not to return to live any more in it as formerly. He died as a public person, in name of all those that are his; rose again, and ascended into heaven, and they also are risen with him, v. 1. of this chapter, "Yea, they are raised up together, and are made to sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Hence, the believer, whatever he be in himself, looking to himself as in Christ, must needs conclude himself to be dead to the world, unless he will either renounce his union with Christ, or think that though the head be dead to it, the members have no interest in that death.
2. In their own persons, by virtue of the death of Christ, so they are said to be planted in the likeness of his death. The power of his death having deadened their affections to this earth; that as the world crucified Christ, so Christ crucified hath crucified them to the world. They are dead to it sacramentally, Col. ii. 12. The sacrament of baptism signifies them to be dead to it, binds and obliges them to die to it more and more. They are also dead to it inceptively. The death is not complete, but it is begun, Gal. vi. 14. Another spirit than the spirit of the world, is put into them, and the death will certainly be completed. They are dead to it comparatively, in comparison with the men of the world, and with themselves in their unrenewed state: We proceed,
II. To show what way this dying to the world is brought about. 1. In the day the Lord begins to deal with the soul, he finds it living and lively to the world. The man's heart and affections are set upon it. He loves it, lives to it, and longs for it, more than any thing else. Their constant cry is, who will shew us any good. His life is wrapt up in it. If it smiles he is well; if it frowns he is broken. He knows nothing better, he desires nothing better. From it he seeks his satisfaction, and without it he can have none.