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are mingled with the wheat,--there is more the wine of his joy run out. Were the Arsin than grace,-yet grace is habitually pre- minian doctrine true, how could the apostle dominant. Grace is like a spark in the sea, say, the seed of God remains in him, 1 John a wonder it is not quenched,—a wonder sin iii. 9, and the anointing of God abides? doth not destroy grace ; that it doth not do, 1 John ii. 27. What comfort were it to as sometimes the nurse to the infant, over- have one's name written in the book of life, lay it, and it dies ; so that this infant of if it might be blotted out again? But, be grace is not smothered by corruption. assured, for your comfort, grace, if true, Temptations without. Satan envies us hap- though never so weak, shall persevere ; piness, and he raiseth his militia, stirs up though a Christian hath but little grace to persecution ; he shoots his fiery darts of trade with, yet he need not fear breaking, temptations; they are called darts for their because God doth not only give him a stock swiftness, fiery for their terribleness. We of grace, but will keep his stock for him. are every day beset with devils; as it was a Gratia concutitur, non excutitur, Aug. wonder Daniel was kept alive in the midst of Grace may be shaken with fears and doubts, the roaring lions : so, that there are many but it cannot be plucked up by the roots. roaring devils about us, and yet we are not Fear not falling away. If any thing should torn in pieces. Now, whence is it we stand hinder the saints' perseverance, then it must against these powerful temptations? We be either sin or temptation ; but neither of are kept by the power of God. 3. The these. 1. Not the sin of believers. That world's golden snares, riches and pleasure. which humbles them shall not damn them; Luke xviii. 24, “ How hardly shall they that but their sins are a mean to humble them, have riches enter into the kingdom of God?" they gather grapes off thorns ; from the thorn How many have been cast away upon these of sin they gather the grape of humility. 2. golden sands, 2 Tim. iv. 10, as Demas? Not temptation. The devil lays the train of What a wonder any soul perseveres in re- his temptation to blow up the fort of a saint's ligion, that the earth doth not choke the grace ; but this cannot do it. Temptation is fire of all good affections ? Whence is this a medicine for security ; the more Satan but from the power of God? We are kept tempts, the more the saints pray. When by his power.
Paul had the messenger of Satan to buffet Use 2d. Consolation. This doctrine of him, 2 Cor. xii. 8, “For this I besought the perseverance is as a Bezoar stone; it is a Lord thrice that it might depart from me." sovereign cordial to keep up the spirits of Thus nothing can break off a believer from the godly from fainting. There is nothing Christ, or hinder his perseverance. Let this doth more trouble a child of God than this, wine be given to such as are of a heavy he fears he shall never hold out; these weak heart : this perseverance is comfort. 1. In legs of mine will never carry me to heaven. the loss of worldly comforts. When our But perseverance is an inseparable fruit of goods may be taken away, our grace cannot, sanctification. Once in Christ, and for ever Luke x. 42, “Mary hath chosen the better in Christ. A believer may fall from some part which cannot be taken from her.” 2. degrees of grace, but not from the state of In the hour of death. When all things fail, grace; an Israelite could never wholly sell or friends take their farewell of us, yet still alienate his land of inheritance, Luke xv. grace remains. Death may separate all 23. A type of our heavenly inheritance, things else from us but grace; a Christian which cannot be wholly alienated from us. may say on his deathbed, as Olevan, once, How despairing is the Arminian doctrine of "Sight is gone,-speech and hearing are defalling from grace? To-day a saint-to-parting,—but the loving-kindness of God will morrow a reprobate ; to-day a Peter,-to- never depart." morrow a Judas. This must needs cut the Quest. 1. What motives and incentives sinews of a Christian's endeavour, and be as are there to make Christians persevere ? the boring a hole in the vessel, to make all Ans. 1. It is the crown and glory of a
11 re ludil the [im
Christian to persevere, In Christianis non A. 4. The promises of mercy are annexed
Perseverance carries away the garland ; no
. 20, “Be not high-minded, but fear,” 1 tion is now nearer,--you have but a little Cor. x. 12, “ Let him that thinketh he standway to go, and you will set your foot in eth, take heed lest he fall.” It was Peter's heaven! Though the way be up-hill and sin, he leaned more upon his grace than upon full of thorns, viz. sufferings, yet you have Christ, and then he fell. A Christian hath gone the greatest part of your way, and short- cause to fear lest the lust and deceit of his ly you shall rest from your labours. heart betray him ; take heed of presuming;
A. 3. How sad is it not to persevere in fear begets prayer,– prayer begets strength, holiness? You expose yourselves to the re- and strength begets steadiness. 2dly, Take proaches of men, and the rebukes of God. heed of hypocrisy. Judas was first a sly hyFirst, to the reproaches of men. They will pocrite, and then a traitor, Ps. lxxviii. 37, deride both you and your profession, Luke" Their heart was not right with God, nei. xiv. 30, “ This man began to build, and was ther were they steadfast in his covenant.” If not able to finish.” Such is he who begins there be any venom or malignity in the blood, in religion, and does not persevere: he is the it will break forth into a plague-sore. The ludibrium, and derision of all. Secondly, to venom of hypocrisy is in danger of breaking the rebukes of God. God is most severe out into the plague-sore of scandal. 3dly, against such as fall of, because they bring an Beware of a vile heart of unbelief, Heb. iii. evil report upon religion. Apostacy breeds 12, “ Take heed lest there be in
you a bitter worm in conscience; what a worm an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from did Spira feel! And it brings swift damna- the living God.” Whence is apostacy but tion; it is a drawing back to perdition, Heb. from incredulity ? Men do not believe the x. 39. God will make his sword drunk with truth, and then they fall from the truth. the blood of apostates.
Unbelieving and unstable go together, Ps.
Ixxviii. 22, “They believed not in God;" |ther of all the graces. God lets a poor, humver. 41, “They turned back.”
ble Christian stand, when others of higher A. 2. If you would be pillars in the temple parts, and who have higher thoughts of themof God, and persevere in sanctity,
selves, fail off by apostacy. They are likest First, Look that you enter into religion to persevere, whom God will give most grace upon a right ground; be well grounded in the to: “ But he gives grace to the humble," 1 distinct knowledge of God; you must know Pet. v. 5. They are likest to persevere, who the love of the Father, the merit of the Son, have God dwelling in them: But God dwells and the efficacy of the Holy Ghost. Such as in the humble soul, Isa. lvii. 15. Non requi. know not God aright, will by degrees fall off. escet Spiritus Sanctus nisi super humilem, The Samaritans sometimes sided with the BERN. The lower the tree roots in the earth, Jews when they were in favour, but afterwards the firmer it is; the more the soul is rooted disclaimed all kindred with them, when Anti-in humility, the more established it is, and is ochus persecuted the Jews; and no wonder in less danger of falling away. the Samaritans were no more fixed in reli- Fifthly, Would you persevere, cherish the gion, if you consider what Christ saith of the grace of faith. Faith doth stabilere animum, Samaritans, John iv. 22, “Ye worship ye 2 Cor. i. 24, “ By faith ye stand.” 1. Faith know not what;" they were ignorant of the knits us to Christ, as the members are knit true God. Let your knowledge of God be to the head by nerves and sinews. 2. Faith clear, and serve him purely out of choice, fills us with love to God,—it works by love, and then you will persevere, Ps. cxix. 30, 31, Gal. v. 6; and he who loves God, will ra“I have chosen the way of truth, I have ther die than desert him. The soldier who stuck unto thy testimonies."
| loves his general, will die in his service. Secondly, Get a real work of grace in your 3. Faith gives us a prospect of heaven, it heart, Heb. xiii. 9, “ It is a good thing that shows an invisible glory; and he who hath the heart be established with grace.” No- Christ in his heart, and a crown in his eye, thing will hold out but grace; it is only this will not faint away. O cherish faith! Keep anointing abides; paint will fall off. Get a your faith, and your faith will keep you; heart-changing work, 1 Cor. vi. 11, “ But ye while the pilot keeps his ship, his ship keeps are washed, but ye are sanctified.” Be not him. content with the baptism of water, without Sixthly, Would we persevere, let us seek baptism of the Spirit; the reason men perse. God's power to help us; we are kept by the vere not in religion, is for want of a vital power of God. The child is safest when it principle; a branch must needs wither, that is held in the nurse's arms; so are we, when hath no root to grow upon.
we are held in the arms of free grace.
It is Thirdly, If
you would persevere, be very not our holding God, but his holding us, presincere. Perseverance grows only upon the serves us.
When a boat is tied to a rock, root of sincerity, Ps. xxv. 21, “ Let integrity it is secure; so when we are fast tied to the and uprightness preserve me.” The breast- Rock of Ages, then we are impregnable. plate of sincerity can never be shot through. O engage God's power to help us to perseHow many storms was Job in ? the devil set vere ! We
his power by prayer; let against him,-his wife tempted him to curse us pray to him to keep us, Ps. xvii. 5, God,-his friends accused him of being a hy. “Hold up my goings in thy path, that my pocrite,-here was enough, one would think, footsteps slip not." It was a good prayer to have made him to desist from religion : yet of Beza, Domine quod cepisti perfici, ne in for all this, he perseveres. What preserved portu naufragium accidat,— Lord perfect him? It was his sincerity, Job xxvii. 6, “ My what thou hast begun in me, that I may not righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it suffer shipwreck when I am almost at the go; my heart shall not reproach me so long haven.' as I live.”
Seventhly, If you would persevere, set be. Fourthly, If you would persevere, be hum- fore your eyes the noble examples of those ble, St Chrysostom calls humility the mo- who have persevered in religion. Quot mara
tyres, quot fideles in cælis, jam triumphant? Let us look on their zeal and courage, and be What a glorious army of saints and martyrs animated, Heb. xii. 1, “Seeing we also are have gone before us! How constant to the compassed about with so great a cloud of death was St Paul? Acts xxi. 13. How witnesses, let us run with patience the race persevering in the faith were Ignatius, Po- that is set before us.” The crown is set at lycarp, Athanasius? These were stars in the end of the race ; if we win the race, we their orbs,-pillars in the temple of God. shall wear the crown.
A BELIEVER'S PRIVILEGE AT DEATH.
Phil. i. 21. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Saint Paul was a great admirer of Christ, propagate his gospel : the design of our life -he desired to know nothing but Christ and is to exalt Christ, and make the crown upon him crucified, 1 Cor. ii. 2. No medicine like his head flourish. Now, it may be said, the blood of Christ; and in the text, “ 'To me
* For us to live is Christ,”-our whole life to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
a living to Christ. 1. “For me to live is Christ.” We must 3. “For me to live is Christ," i. e, Christ understand Paul of a spiritual life. “For is the joy of my life, Ps. xliii. 4, “God my me to live is Christ," i. e. Christ is my life : exceeding joy," or the cream of my joy. A 80 Greg. Nyssen ; or thus, my life is made Christian rejoiceth in Christ's righteousness; up of Christ ; as a wicked man's life is made he can rejoice in Christ, when worldly joys up of sin, so Paul's life was made up of are gone ; when the tulip in a garden withers, Christ, he was full of Christ. But that I a man rejoiceth in his jewels : when relamay give you the sense of the text more tions die, a saint can rejoice in Christ the fully, take it in these three particulars ; pearl of price. In this sense, “For me to
1. Christ is the principle of my life. live is Christ,” he is the joy of my life ; if 2. Christ is the end of my life.
Christ were gone, my life would be a death 3. Christ is the joy of my life.
1. "For me to live is Christ," i. e. Christ Use. It should exhort us all to labour to is the principle of my life. I fetch my spiri- say as the apostle, “For me to live is Christ.” tual life from Christ, as the branch fetcheth Christ is the principle of my life, the end of its sap from the root, Gal. ii. 20, “Christ my life, the joy of my life. " For ine to live liveth in me.” Jesus Christ is a head of is Christ ;" and then we may comfortably influence ; be sends forth life and spirits conclude, that to die shall be gain. into me, to quicken me to every holy action. II. And that brings me to the second part Thus, " For me to live is Christ ;” Christ of the text, “ And to die is gain." is the principle of my life ; from his ful- Doct. To a believer death is great gain. ness I live, as the vine-branch lives from the A saint can tell what his losses for Christ root.
are, but he cannot tell how great his gains 2. “For me to live is Christ,” i. e. Christ are at death, "To me to die is gain,” Death is the end of my life. -I live not to myself to a believer is crepusculum gloriæ,—the but to Christ. So Grotius and Causabon, day-break of eternal brightness. To show Christio servio. “ For me to live is Christ :” fully what a believer's gains are at death, all my living is to do service to Christ; Rom. were a task too great for an angel,—all hy. xiv. 8, " Whether we live, we live unto the perboles fall short,—the reward of glory exLord,” when we lay out ourselves wholly ceeds our very faith : only let me give you for Christ. As the factor trades for the mer
some dark views and imperfect lineaments chant, so we trade for Christ's interest, we of that infinite glory the saints shall gain
at the hour of death ; “ To me to die is 4. Believers at death shall gain a celestial gain."
palace, ,a house not made with hands, 2 Cor. 1. Believers at death shall gain a writ of v. 1. Here the saints are straitened for ease from all sins and troubles; they shall be room, they have but mean cottages to live in, in a state of impeccability. Sin expires with but they shall have a royal palace to live their life. I think sometimes what a happy in ; here is but their sojourning house,– state that will be, never to have a sinful there in heaven is their mansion-house,-a thought more; and they shall have a quietus house built high above all the visible orbs,— est from their troubles. Here David cried a house bespangled with light, Col. i. 12,out, “My life is spent with grief, and my enriched with pearls and precious stones, years with sigling,” Ps. xxxi. 10. Quid est Rev. xxi. 19. And this is not their landlord's diu vivere, nisi diu torqueri, Aug. Life house, but their Father's house, John xiv. 2 ; begins with a cry, and ends with a groan; and this house stands all upon consecrated but at death all troubles die.
ground; it is set out by transparent glass to 2. Believers at death shall gain the glo- show the holiness of it, Rev. xxi. 27. rious sight of God. They shall see him, 1st, 5. Believers at death shall gain the sweet Intellectually with the eyes of their mind, society of glorified saints and angels : this which divines call the beatifical vision ; if will add something to the felicity of heaven, there were not such an intellectual sight of as every star adds some lustre to the firmaGod, how do the spirits of just men, made ment. 1st, The society of the glorified saints; perfect, see him ?–2dly, They shall behold we shall see them in their souls, as well as the glorified body of Jesus Christ; and if it be in their bodies; their bodies shall be so clear pleasant to behold the sun, then how blessed and bright, that we shall see their souls shina sight will it be to see Christ the Sun of ing through their bodies, as the wine through Righteousness clothed rith our human na. the glass; and believers at death shall have ture, shining in glory above the angels ? converse with the saints glorified. And how Through Christ's flesh, as through a trans- delightful will that be, when they shall be parent glass, some bright rays and beams of freed from all their sinful corruptions, pride, the Godhead shall display themselves to glo- envy, passion, censoriousness, which are rified eyes; the sight of God through Christ scars upon them here to disfigure them? In will be very complacential and delightful; the heaven there shall be perfect love among terror of God's essence will be taken away; the saints; they shall, as the olive and myrGod's majesty will be mixed with beauty, and tle, sweetly embrace each other ; the saints sweetened with clemency ; it will be infinite- shall know one another, as Luther speaks. ly delightful to the saints to see the amiable If in the transfiguration Peter knew Moses aspects and smiles of God's face. Which and Elias, whom he never saw before, Matt. brings me to the third thing.
xvii. 3, then much more, in the glorified state, 3. The saints at death shall not only have the saints shall perfectly know one another, a sight of God, but shall enjoy the love of though they never saw them before. 2dly, God; there shall be no more a veil on God's The saints at death shall behold the angels face, nor his smiles chequered with frowns, with the glorified eye of their understandbut God's love shall discover itself in all its ing. The wings of the cherubim (repreorient beauty and fragrant sweetness. Here senting the angels) were made of fine gold the saints pray for God's love, and they have to denote both their sanctity and splen. a few drops, but there they shall have as much dour; the angels are compared to lightning, as their vessel can receive. To know this Matt. xxviii. 3, because of those sparkling love that passeth knowledge, this will cause beams of majesty, which as lightning shoot jubilation of spirit, and create such holy rap- from them. And when saints and angels tares of joy in the saints as are superlative, shall meet and sing together in concert in the and would soon overwhelm them if God did heavenly choir, what divine harmony, what not make them able to bear.
joyful triumphs will it create !