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Hence it comes to pass, that God's people never make better speed, than when rowing against the stream of opposition.—There is,
2. Intimations of his special love to their souls. Thus had Caleb in the text, the saints of God have often golden days in the dregs of time apon this account. When the deluge of public calamity carries incorrigible sinners before it, with their burden of guilt upon their back, the saints are then made to rest in the evil day, by virtue of that peace which they have with God and their own conscience, Hab. iii. 16.-There is,
3. Special provision in a time of calamity : Psalm xxxvii. 19, " They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.” God riseth often to see well to the provision of those whose work it is to cleave to their duty, and rely on the Lord for their provision : Psalm xxxvii. 3, " Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” So that their faces are fatter and fairer than those who eat of the defiled meat.-There is,
4. Special protection in an evil day. God sets a mark on their foreheads : Ezek, ix. 4. “ And the Lord said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof." They are always protected from the evil of trouble ; but God sometimes, besides this, affords them special protection from trouble, by some surprising providence removing them out of the way of it; sometimes by making them find favour in the eyes of their enemies : Jer. xv. 11, “ The Lord said, verily, it shall be well with thy remnant; verily, I will cause the enemy to intreat thee well in the time of evil, and in the time of affliction.” And sometimes by hiding them in the grave before the calamity come on: Isa. lvii. 1, 2, “The righteous man perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men arg taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. He shall enter into peace, they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness."
Lastly, He gives them the crown of glory: Rev. ii. 10, “ Fear none of these things which thou shalt suffer; behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried ; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: Be tlou faithful unto the death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” He brings them into Canaan above, and crowns them, while others, who forsook God, are for ever forsaken of him; and they who sinned with the multitude, suffer with them for ever: Luke xxii. 28, 29, 30, “Ye are they which have continued with ine in my temptations. And I appoint unto you a kingdom,
as my father hath appointed unto me; that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."—We now proceed very shortly,
III. To subjoin the reasons of the point, to confirm it. Here we offer the following, viz.
1. It is hard work to follow fully in a declining time, to strive against the stream which is so ready to carry people away: Matth. xxiv. 12, “ And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Hard to keep warm in cold Sardis, Rev. iii. 4. To keep up the flame of religion, when a deluge or sin comes on, is very hard work. But hard work has always the greatest reward from the Lord.
2. It is a piece of special honour to God; and those who honour him he will honour. It is not so much to follow Christ wlien he hath a great backing, as to cleave to him when many are dropping off from him on every hand.
3. The Lord orders it so for the encouragement of his people, to follow him fully. He gives them the view of the recompense of reward, to encourage and animate them in pressing forward towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
IV. We are now to make some brief improvement of the whole ; and,
I. In an use of information. We see,
(1.) That none shall be losers at God's hand. They that clearo to him, when others leave him, God will cleave to them when he forsakes others. Our errand will come in his way, and he will shew bimself mindful of any respect and love shewn him by them that walk uprightly.- We see, (2.) That he who walketh uprightly walks surely, come what will
Whoso wanders from God's way, and follows the multitude to do evil, their feet will slide. But the best preparation and security for a time of general calamity, is to walk with God in a declining time.- We shall only add,
2. An use of exhortation,
We exhort you, then, to follow the Lord fully now. Our time is a declining time. There is a declining from the purity of gospel doctrine and gospel ordinances. There is a horrid declining in practice; the veil is falling off many faces, and the mask of religion. There is a general declining from holiness, and the power of godliness, on the spirits of professors in our day. It is a day of approaching calamity. Would you be safe ? Return now, and set your face against the stream; and the more you see others going off from God, cleave the more to him. If you do so, you will be distin
guished by special marks of favour in a day of public calamity; but
also go away, your sin will afterwards find you out. Remember, now you have heard your duty; it is the duty of communicants, and also of others. Remember that it is not enough to set fair off. It is only he that follows fully who will be brought safely to the promised land. It is only he that endureth to the end who will be saved. Be not, therefore, “ weary in this well-doing, for in due time ye shall reap, if ye faint not."
THE CHRISTIAN DESCRIBED, THE HYPOCRITE DETECTED.*
Rom. ii. 28, 29,
which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew which is one inwardly,
THESE words are a reason why no man ought to value bimself on the externals of religion, for they will go but short way. However they please men, they will never please God. The scope of them is, to show who are the people of God. The Jews of old were the people of God; the Christians are so now, being come in their room. The apostle here distinguishes the people of God into nominal and real ones, calling them Jews, because he was speaking to Jews; the case is the same as to Christians. In these words, he shews two things.
1. Who are not true Jews, real Christians, or saints indeed, ver. 28; for these are they whom he means by Jews, saying, " He is not a Jew.” Not those who are Jews outwardly, Christians and saints by profession, that is, who are only so, and no more ; for God requires externals of religion as well as internals, though the former, separate from the latter, avail nothing. But those who have 10 more religion than what is outward, viz. what men see or may see, they have nothing of the reality of it.
The Jews valued themselves on circumcision, as Christians on
• Delivered in March and April, 1719.
baptism; but true circumcision is not what is outward in the flesh, nor baptism what is by water; that is only so. These external rites signify an inward grace, without which they signify nothing before God. Circumcision was in a hidden part of the body, yet it was on the body, and what might be seen; so religion might be in saints; yet being only what may be seen, will not constitute a person truly religious.--He shows,
2. Who are true Jews, real Christians, or saints indeed? There are two characters of these, which distinguished them from the other. They are,
(1.) Those who are so inwardly, or in the bidden part, which is open to God alone, as well as in the outward part, which appears to the world. These who have the hidden part of religion, which being hid from the world's view, they cannot certainly judge of. Those who have the true circumcision, the spiritual baptism, that is, the circumcision of the heart, Deut. x. 16, by which corrupt lasts are cut off, and the body of sin put off, Col. ii. 11. This is the spiritual, not fleshly circumcision only. It touches on, reforms, and renews our spirit, our soul, the hidden, but most valuable part of a man. The carnal is but the cutting off a bit of the flesh of the body, which might be done while the spirit remained overgrown with unmortified lusts, and the soul quite defiled. The spirit is here opposed to the letter, which last cannot be well understood of the body, but of circumcision, and therefore the spirit also ; q. d. and circumcision of the heart, which is circumcision in the spirit or grace of it, (not in the letter, or external rite of circumcision), is the true circumcision. So they have the spirituality of it, which is as the soul thereof, as well as the letter, which is as the body thereof. The spirit of circumcision is the invisible grace signified by it, and joined with it, when it is effectual; the letter of it is the sensible sign or external rite.
(2.) They are such as have God's approbation, commendation, and praise, whether they have men's or not. There is an allusion here to the word Judah, from whom that people, now called Jews, had their name; it signifies praised, Gen. xlviii. 8. These are the true Judahs, whom not only their brethren, but their Father, even God, praises. Outward religion may gain praise of men, who cannot discern what is within ; but the true Jew the real Christian, is one approved even by the heart-searching God, according to the reality, and not the appearance. From this subject I take this
DOCTRINE, That he is not a true Christian, who only in the outward part, and in the letter of religion, approves himself to men ;
but he who, by the inner part of religion, and the spirituality there-
In illustrating this important truth, I shall,
I. To shew that ihere is such a difference in the visible church, that there are some who are only Christians outwardly, and that there are others who are also Christians inwardly.
II. To inquire what are the causes of this difference ?
III. To point out what is the outside and letter of religion, which only makes an outside Christian, and what the inside and spirit of religion is which makes a genuine Christian.
IV. To confirm the doctrine.-I am,
I. To shew that there is such a difference in the visible church, that there are some who are only Christians outwardly, and that there are others who are also Christians inwardly.
This difference appears many ways. It appears,
1. In the very different characters given those who profess the same faith and true religion. The preachers of the gospel are fishers of men, but they are not all good that come by profession into the net, Matth. xiii. 47, 48. The tares and the wheat grow together in the field of the church, the goats and the sheep go together all the day, till the great Shepherd separate them. And as to virgin-professors, some are wise, and have oil in their vessels, with their lamps; others are foolish, Matth. xxv. who mock God with fair promises, befool even the godly, who looked well upon them, and, worst of all, befool themselves in the latter end, when the Bridegroom cometh.
This appears, 2. In the very different effects religion has on the lives of those who are called Christians. There are some whose religion has a powerful efficacy on their hearts and lives to make them holy, others who have nothing but an idle form, having no more sanctifying power with it, than a painted fire has to burn : 2 Tim. iii. 5, “Har. ing a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. The knowledge of some is confined to their heads, it never gets down to their hearts : Tit. i. 16, “ They profess that they know God, but in works they deny him.” Others, by reason of their light, dare not venture on an ill thing, more than on a precipice. Religion makes some persons godly, sober, and righteous, binds powerfully on them their duty to God, to themselves, and to their neighbour. The pretended religion of others, leaves them loose as to all those things. It never