Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

cordial and affectionate in any thing, surely he must be so here in this “ one thing that is necessary.” It must not be simply a fancy in the head, it must be a heartbusiness, a soul-business; yea, not a business in the outer court of affections, but in the flower of affections, and in the innermost cabinet of the soul, where Christ is formed. Shall a man be cordial in any thing, and not in this, which doth comprise all his chief interests and his everlafting state within it ? Shall “the Lord be said to rejoice over a man as a bridegroom rejoiceth over his bride ?" and to rest in his love with joy ?" and shall not the heart of man go out and meet him here? The heart or nothing; love or nothing; marriage-love, which goeth from heart to heart ; love of espousals, or nothing ;My son, give me thine heart.” “ Though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.” I will not say that there is in all, as foon as they believe, a prevailing sensible love, which maketh fick ; but there must be in believing a rational and kindly love, so well grounded, and deeply engaging, that

many waters cannot quench it. It is strong as death, and jealousy in it burneth as fire."

3dly. The third property or qualification of believing, as it goeth out after Christ it must be rational. Hereby I mean, that the man should move towards God in Christ, in knowledge and understanding taking up God's device of saving finners by Christ as the scripture doth hold it out ; not fancying a Christ to himself otherwise than the gospel speaketh of him, nor another way

of relief by him than the word of God holdeth out. Therefore we find knowledge joined to the covenant between God and man as a requisite ; 6 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord ; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God." 66 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord : for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the

65

greatest of them, faith the Lord.” I mean here also, that a man be in calmness of spirit, and, as it were, in his cold blood, in closing with Christ Jesus; not in a fit of affection, which foon evanisherh : “ He that received the seed into itony places, the fame is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it ;” nor in a distemper through some outward distress, as the people were, “ When he flew them, then they fought him -and proved not stedfast in the covenant :” nor under a temptation of some outward temporary interest, as Simon Magus was when he believed, Aets viii. A man must act here rationally as being master of himself, in fome measure able to judge of the good or evil of the thing as it stands before him.

4thly. The fourth is faith ; as it goeth out rationally, so it goeth out refolutely. The poor distressed people in the gospel did most resolutely cast them felves upon Chrift. This refoluteness of spirit is in order to all difficulties that ly in the way ; violence is offered to these. The man whose heart is a shaping out for Christ Jesus cannot say, “ There is a lion in the street." If he cannot have access by the door, he will break through the roof of the house, with that'man, Luke v. 19. He of ten doth noi regard that which the world calleth discretion or prudence, like Zacheus climbing up on a tree to see Chrift, when faith was breeding in his bosom, Luke xix. This resoluteness of spirit looketh towards what inconveniencies may follow, and .waveih all these ; at least, refolving over all these, like a “ wise builder, who reckoneth the expense before-hand.” This resoluteness is also in order to all a man's idols, and fuch weights as would easily beset him if he did not bend after Christ over them all, like that blind man who did cast his garments from him when Christ called him. This refoluteness in the soul proccedeth from desperate felf-receflity within the man, as it was with the Jailor, Aets xvi. 30, and from the sovereign command of God, obliging the man to move towards Christ; “ This is his command. ment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ ;” and from the good report gone abroad of God, that " he putteth none away that come unto him through Christ,” but doth commend such as do adventure over the greatest difficulties, as the woman of Canaan, Mat. xv. 28. But, above all, this refoluteness doth proceed from the arm of JehOVAH, fecretly and strongly drawing the finner towards Chrift; “ Nó man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me draw him."

I will not say, that every one, closing with Christ in the offers of the gospel, hath all the foresaid thoughts formally in his mind; yet, upon search, it will be found, if he be put to it, or put in mind of these things, they are then aloft in the soul.

By what is said, it doth manifestly appear, that many in the visible church had need to do somewhat further for securing of their soul, when they come to years of discretion, than is found to have been done by them before, in the covenant between God and the church, sealed to them in baptism.

By what is said also, there is a competent guard upon the free grace of God in the gospel, held out through Christ Jesus ; so as ignorant, senseless, profane meng cannot, with any shadow of reason, pretend to an interest in it. It is true, believing in Christ, and clofing with him as a perfect Saviour, seemeth easy, and every godless man faith, that he believeth on him: but they deceive themselves, since their soul hath never cordially, rationally, and resolutely, gone out after Christ Jesus, as we have said. It may be fome wicked men have been enlightened, Heb. vi. 4. and have found some diforderly motion in their fear, Felix trembled, Aits xxiv. 25. or in their joy; “ He that received the feed into ftony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it," and “ Herod heard John gladly ;" but not having engaged their heart in approaching to God," have either litten down in that com. mon work, as their sanctuary, until the trial came, “ When tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended : or, " they return back with the dog to their vomit," from which they had in före measure as escaped by the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour,; or they utterly fall away to the hatred and malicious defpiling and perfecuting of Christ and his interests; “ from whence hardly can they be recovered.” Which things should provoke men to be serious in this great business.

We come now to speak to the Fifth thing proposed, and that is, What be the native consequences of true believing. I shall reduce what I will speak of them to these two, viz. Union with God, and communion. First, then I say, when a sinner closeth with Christ Jesus as faid is, there is presently an admirable union; a strange oneness, between God and the man. As the husband and wife, head and body, root and branches are not to be reckoned two but one ; fo Christ, or God in Chrift, and the finner closing with him by faith, are one ;

“We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones,” &c. “ He that is fo joined unto the Lord, is one fpirit. “ As the Father is in the Son, and Christ in the Father; fo believers are one in the Father and the Son : they are one as the Father and the Son are one. The Father in Christ, and Christ in believers, that they may be made perfect in one." what a strange interweaving, and indiffoluble knot there!

Because of this union betwixt God and the believer, (1.) They can never hate one another. Henceforth the Lord will never hate the believer. As no man hateth his own flesh at any time, but cherisheth and nourisheth it," fo doth Christ his people. He may be angry, so as to correct and chastise the man that is a believer ; but all he doth to him is for his good and advantage. “ All the Lord's paths must be mercy and truth to him.” “ All things must work together for good to him." On the other side, the believer can never

N

hate God maliciously; 66 He that is born of God finneth not." For the Lord hath resolved and ordained things fo, that his hand shall undoubtedly fo be upon all believers for good, that they shall never get leave to hate him, and be so plucked out of his hand.

(2.) Because of this union there is a strange sympa. thy and fellow feeling between God and the believer. • The Lord is afflicted with the man's affliction." He doth tenderly, carefully, and seasonably resent it, as if he were afflicted with it. 6t He who toucheth the belicv. er, toucheth the apple of the Lord's eye.

66 He is touched with the feeling of their infirmities ; " " and precious in his sight is their blood.” In a word what is done to them is done unto him; and what is not done unto them is not done unto him ; " He that receiveth

you,

receiveth me." In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my bretbren, ye have done it unto me.--Inas much as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” On the other part, “the zeal of his house fitteth in the heart of the believer; " The Lord's

reproach” lighteth on the believer. If it go well with his affairs, that is the bufiness of his people. So there is

a strange sympathy between God and believers, all by virtue of the union between them; because of which, men should hate every thing which would rival bim in their love or affections, and should disdain to be flaves to the creatures, Gince these are the fervants of their Lord and husband, and their servants through him. What a hateful thing for a queen to whore with the servants of her prince and husband ? It is also a shame for a believer to be “afraid of evil tidings,” since the Lord, with whom he is one, alone ruleth all things, " and doth whatsoever pleaseth him in heaven and earth.” things are your's,and ye are Christ's and Christ is God's."

Surely he shall not be moved forever, he shall not be afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord; his heart is established, he shall not be afraid."

66 Ali

« ForrigeFortsett »