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have his band; we make ourselves more sure: but if we have both his hand and seal, we rest secare of the accomplishing of what is given or undertaken. How much more assurance may we have, when we have the word of a God, whose very title is AMEN; Rev. iii. 14. and whose Promises are like himself, Pea and Amen; 2 Cor. i. 20! Alas, the best man is deceitful upon the balance; and his true style is, Omnis homo mendar, “ Every man is a liar:” but, for this God of Truth, heaven and earth shall pass away, before one tittle of his word shall fail. But, when that promise is seconded by his Seal, what a transcendent assurance is here! It is the charge of the Apostle Peter; Give diligence to make?
your calling and election sure ; 2 Pet. i. 10. Sure, not in respect of God; whom no changes can reach; whose word is, I am Jehovah ; my counsel shall stand: but, in respect of our apprehension; not in re'gard of the object only, which cannot fail, but even of the subject also; which if it were not feasible, sure the Spirit of God would not have enjoined it, or imposed it upon us.
The Vulgate reads, per bona opera, by good works: and, indeed, it is granted by Beza and Chamier, that, in some Greek copies, it is die nach égñãv: whereupon Bellarmin would fain take an advantage to prove his conjectural assurance: a strange match of words merely contradictory! for if but conjectural, how can it be assurance? and, if it be assurance, how only conjectural? we may as well talk of a false truth, as a conjectural assurance. But that implication of Bellarmin is easily blown over, if we consider, that these good works do not only comprehend external works, as almsdeeds, prayer, attendance on God's ordinances, and the like; but also the internal acts of the soul: the acts of believing, the acts of the love of God, the acts of that hope which shall never make us ashamed. These will evidence, as our calling and election, so the certainty of both; and therefore are the seal of our redemption.
Let foolish men have leave to improve their wits to their own wrong; in pleading for the uncertainty of their right to heaven: but, for us, let us not suffer our souls to take any rest, till we have this blessed seal put upon us, to the assuring of our redemption and salvation; that we may be able to say, with the Chosen Vessel, God hath sealed us, and given us the earnest of his Spirit in our hearts; 2 Cor. i. 22.
If we have the grant of some lease, or some goodly manor, made to us by word of mouth, we stay not, till we have gotten it under black and white; and not then, till we have it under seal; nor then, if it be a perpetuity, till we have livery and seizin given us of it; and, when all this is done, we make account securely to enjoy our hopes : and shall we be less careful of the main chance, even of the eternal inheritance of Heaven? Lo here all these are done for us ! Here is the Word, preaching peace and salvation to all that be. lieve: here are his Scriptures, the internal monuments of his written word, confirming it: here is the Seal added to it: here is the Livery and Seizin given, in the earnest of his Spirit: and here is sufficient Witness to all; even God's Spirit, witnessing with our spirits, that we are the sons of God. Let us find this in our bosom, aud we are happy: neither let our hearts be quiet, till we can say, with the Chosen Vessel, I am persuaded, that neither life, nor dealh, nori angels, nor principalities, nor powers, for things present
, ror things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any creature can be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord; Rom viii. 38. 39. · Lo, this is not a guess, but an assurance; TÉTELOUCI: neither doth the Apostle speak of his own special revelation, as the Popish Doctors would pretend; but he takes all belierers into the partnership of this comfortable unfailableness; nothing shall separate us. Thus happy are we, if we be sealed unto the day of redemption,
III. Having now handled the parts severally, let us, if you please, put them together; and see the power of this INFERENCE or ARGUMENT. Ye are, by the Spirit of God, sealed to the day of redemption; Oh, therefore, grieve not that Spirit of God, by whom ye are thus sealed. The Spirit of God hath infinitely merited of you; hath done so much for you, as ye are not capable to conceive, much less to answer, in so heavenly an obsignation: ok, then, be you tender of giving any offence to that Gond Spirit. Do not you dare to do ought, that might displease that Loving and Beneficent Spirit. Be not you so much your own enemies, as to give just distaste to your good God.
So as the force of the argument, as we intimated at the first, lies upon an action of unkindness; affording us this instruction, that the ground of God's childrens' fear to offend must be out of love and thankfulness. Great is thy mercy, that thou mayest be feared; saith the Psalmist: he doth not say, " Great is thy mercy, that thou mayest be loved;" nor, “Great is thy majesty, that thou mayest be feared;" but, Great is thy mercy, that thou mayest be feared. Base
, servile natures are kept in fear with stripes; but the ingenuous disposition of God's dear ones is wrought upon, by tender respect to the goodness and mercy of that God, who hath so infinitely blessed it.
It is an emphatical expression, that of St. Paul, For the love of Christ constraineth us; 2 Cor. v. 14. Lo, here is a kind of force and violence offered to the soul; but it is the force of love, than which nothing can be more pleasing. Neither will God offer any other: it can be no will, that is forced: God will not break in upon the soul; but wins it, with those sveet solicitations, that are more powerful than those of fear.
Men commonly run in a full career towards hell: it were happy, that any thing in the world could stay them. But are there any of us, that find a restraint upon ourselves, in the midst of our evil ways; so as we make a stop in this pernicious course of our sinning? whence is it?
Is it out of a mere fear of the pains of hell; of those eternal torments, that abide for sinners? This is little thank to them. Nature, even in brute creatures, will teach them to affect their own preservation; and to avoid those things, which will necessarily
draw on their destruction. Balaam's ass, seeing the angel's sword, will strive to decline it: every slave will tug hard to escape the lash.
But is it in a sweet sense of the mercies of God, who hath done so much for thy soul? is it out of a conscience not to offend so holy and munificent a God, who hath purchased thee so dear, and sealed thee up to the day of redemption? now, thou hast in thee a true generosity of spirit: this argues thee to have the proper affec-, tions of a true child of God; for every child of God is spiritually good-natured.
It is not so with our natural children. A stomachfull Esau knows that his good father cannot but be displeased with his Pagan matches; yet he takes him wives of the daughters of Heth; Gen. xxvi. 34. 35. And an ambitious Absalom dares rise up in rebellion against his tenderly-loving father. But grace hath other effects: the spiritual generation of God's faithful ones are dearly affectionate to their Father in Heaven, and apply themselves to all obedience out of mere love and duty. - The son and the slave are both enjoined one work. God be thanked, we can have no instance in this kind: that vassalage is happily and justly extinguished as unfit to be of use amongst Chris. tians; but, where it obtaineth still, the son and the slave do one work; but out of different grounds: the son, to please his father; the slave, that he may avoid the stripes of an imperious master; therefore, the one doth it cheerfully and willingly; the other, grudgingly and repiningly: the one, of love and gratitude; the other, out of fear.
This is a point worthy of our serious consideration, as that which mainly imports our souls, what are the grounds of our either actions or forbearances. We endeavour some good duties; we refrain from some sins: out of what principles ? Some there are, that can brag of their immunity from gross sins, with the proud Pharisee, “I am no fornicator, no drunkard, no murderer, no liar, no slanderer, no oppressor :” and, I would to God, every one of you, that hear me this day, could, in sincerity of heart, say so. But what is the ground of this their pretended inoffensiveness? If it be only a fear of hell, and of the wrathful indignation of that just Judge, thou canst reap small comfort to thy soul in this condition; for this is out of mere self-love, and desire to escape pain and misery, which is incident into the worst of creatures. Even the evil spirits themselves are afraid of tormenting; and deprecate the sending them back to their chains. But, if it be out of a gracious and tender love to God; out of a filial fear of the displeasure of a God, that hath done so much for thee; this argues the disposition of a true child of God, and may justly administer comfort to thy soul, in the time of thy trial.
Oh, that we could every one of us lay before our eyes the sweet mercies of our God; especially his spiritual favours: how freely he hath loved us; how dearly he hath redeemed us, even with the inost precious blood of the Son of his Love; how graciously be
hath sealed us up to the day of our redemption! and, that we could make this use of it, to be a strong retractive from any, even of our dearest and gainfullest sins!
Carry this home with you, Dear Brethren, I beseech you; and fail not to think of it upon all occasions. Whenever you shall find yourselves tempted to any sin whatsoever, of lust, of excess, of covetous desires, have this antidote ready in your bosoms, which good Joseph had; How shall I do this great evil and sin against God? As good Polycarpus, that holy martyr, when, for the preservation of his life, he was urged to renounce Christ, said; “Fourscore and six years have I been his servant, and he never did me hurt; and shall I deny my Sovereign King, that hath so graciously preserved me?"
If, out of these grounds, thou canst check thy sins; and capst say, “Lord, I have been careful not to grieve thy Good Spirit, because thou, in thine eternal love, hast sealed me thereby to the day of my redemption,” be confident, that thy redemption is sealed in heaven; and shall, in due time, be manifested to thine inves. titure with the eternal glory and happiness, which God hath prepared for all his: To the participation whereof, that God, who hath ordained us, in his good time mercifully bring us, for the sake of the Son of his Love, Jesus Christ the Just: To whom, with the Father, and the Blessed Spirit, One Infinite and Incomprehensible God, be given all praise, honour, and glory, now and for evermore. Amen.
CHRIST OUR PASSOVER:
A SERMON PREACHED ON EASTER-DAY, AT HIGHAM, 1648.
1 CORINTHIANS v. 7."
For Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep
the feast. The feast : that is, the Passover of the Jews, then expiring : or the Christians' Easter, then succeeding. Indeed, I know not whether both be not alluded to: for this Epistle is conceived to have been written by the Apostle some twenty-four years after our Saviour's Passion ; ere which time, it is more than probable, that the feast of Christ's Resurrection was 'solemnly celebrated by the Christian Church. This I am sure of, that no record in all history mentions the time when it began to be kept; and, therefore, it is most likely, according to Augustin's received rule, to be deduced from the observation of the Apostles. There were ancient and eager quarrels, betwixt the Eastern and Western Churches, about the day whereon it should be kept; but whether it should be kept or no, there was never yet any question, since Christianity looked forth into the world. And, as that Pasche, so this Easter, is justly the Feast, for the eminency of it abore the rest : for, if we do with joy and thankfulness, according to the angel's message, solemnize the day wherein the Son of God, our Blessed Redeemer, being born, entered the life of human nature; how much more should we celebrate that day, wherein, having conquered all the powers of death and hell, he was, as it were, born again to the life of a glorious immortality!
But, to leave the time, and come to the Text. This for, that leads it in, is both a relative and an illative: referring to what he had said in the foregoing words; and inferring a necessary consequence of the one clause upon the other: Purge out the old leaven; for Christ, our passover, is sacrificed for us.
The whole text is allegorical; alluding to the charge and duty of God's ancient people, the Jews, in the observation of their passover: who, upon no less pain than cutting off from the congregation of Israel, must admit of no leavened bread to be eaten or found in their houses, during the whole seven days of this cele