Page images
PDF
EPUB

XVI.

CHAP. eats indeed but he lives, but he also eats that he may live. live. We both can and ought to act in a holy manner, because we are quickened by the Spirit of God. But we must also act in the same manner, that that life may be preserved in us, may increase, and at last terminate in an uninterrupted and eternal life. Moses said excellently of old, Deut. xxx. 19, 20. "I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set life and death before you: therefore choose life, that thou mayest live, in loving the Lord thy God, obeying his voice, and cleaving unto him, for he is thy life." Deut. vii. 1. « Observe to do, that ye may live." And xxx. 6. « The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart to love the Lord thy God, that thou mayest live." Truly these speeches are not legal, but evangelical.

VII. That VII. 2dly, A mercenary baseness is cerit is good and holy tainly unworthy of the high born sons of that in the God: but their heavenly Father does not forstudy of good works bid them to have any regard to their own ad

we have a

salvation.

regard also Vantage in the exercise of holiness. He not to our own only permits, but also willeth, "that by a patient continuance in well-doing, we seek for glory, and honour, and immortality;" and to them who do so, he will render eternal life, Rom. ii. 6, 7. And though he requires us to love him above all, yet he does not command that all love to ourselves be entirely banished. For we are not bound to love our neighbour, and not to love ourselves. It is al

XVI.

so just that the study of holiness be excited CHAP. in us by this love to ourselves. For, pray, what is the end of all these promises, whereby God hath commended his precepts to us, but that stimulated with a desire after them, we might the more cheerfully obey him? Not to love the benefits promised, is to contemn the goodness of God who promiseth. Not to be animated to piety through a desire af- · ter them, is to abuse them to a purpose quite opposite to that for which they were designed of God. David himself confessed that the 66 precepts of God were far more desirable than gold, yea, than fine gold; and sweeter than honey, and the honey-comb, even on that account, because in keeping them there is great reward," Psal. xix. 10, 11. And the faith of Moses is commended, " because he had respect to the recompence of the reward," Heb. xi. 26. Yea, that faith is required of all who "come unto God, whereby they must believe that he is the rewarder of them who diligently seek him," verse 6.

VIII. But at the same time this love to our- VIII. Provided

selves ought to flow from the love of God, that love be subordinate, and referred to it. It is not to ourselvesbe properly lawful to love God for our own sake, so as to subordinate consider ourselves as the end, and him as the to the love of God. mean, by the enjoyment of whom we are rendered happy. But since we are the property of God, whom we ought to love above allthings, therefore we are also bound to love ourselves in relation to him. Our good is

XVI.

CHAP. therefore to be sought, that in it we may taste the sweetness of the Lord, and that his peculiar treasure may be so much the more increased. Thus love to ourselves shall at last be absorbed in the ocean of love Divine. The subject itself obliges me to repeat here what I observed elsewhere.

IX. That godliness is

to all things.

IX. 3dly, Neither is it agreeable to the profitable perpetual tenor of the scriptures, that we reap no real advantage from duties rightly performed; that no evil is averted by prayers, fastings, and penitence; and that neither peace of conscience, nor joy of heart, are promoted by the exercise of virtue. Certainly this is contrary to the Mosaic doctrine, Deut. vi. 18. "Do that which is right, that it may be well with thee." Add verse 3. "He who followeth after righteousness and mercy, shall find life;" "righteousness, and honour," saith the writer of the Proverbs, chap. xxi. 21. Paul tells us that godliness is great gain, and that it is profitable unto all things, having the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come:" and that "good works are good and profitable unto men," 1 Tim. vi. 6. iv. 8. Tit. iii. 8.

X. That impending calamities are averted

X. That

by it im- by penitence, is taught of God, Jer. xviii. pending calamities are 7,8. And remarkable is Zephaniah's speech, avoided, chap. ii. 3. "Seek the Jehovah, all the meek and peace of consci- of the earth, who work his judgment: seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of Jehovah's anger.”

ence and

joy promoted.

Further, it is written in Isaiah, chap. xxxii. 17. "That the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance for ever." In the same prophet we are also taught, that if any "cease to do evil, and learn to do well, it shall come to pass that their sins, though as scarlet, shall be white as snow; and though red like crimson, they shall be as wool," chap. i. 16, 17, 18. He also teaches," that if any man rightly observed the Sabbaths of the Lord, he should delight himself in the Lord," chap. lviii. 13, 14. When we believe the scripture asserting all these things, we do not believe that the exercises of virtue or religion merit any such thing, or that the efficacy of these duties is so great, that of themselves, setting aside the Divine blessing, they can procure benefits, or avert calamities: but we believe, so great is the goodness of our heavenly Father, that for Christ's sake, he liberally rewards the sincere endeavours of his children, who rejoice to please him. "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name," Heb. vi. 10.

XVI.

XI. 4thly, It is much more difficult to say XI. what is controverted as to the evidences of Some seem unjustly to grace, than what should be determined ac- deny that cording to holy scripture. For sometimes it sanctification is an eseems to be denied that any inherent quali- vidence of ties are proper evidences of justification. justifica"Let not thy comfort, (says one) depend on

tion.

XVI.

CHAP. thy personal sanctification, because no certainty and constant consolation can flow from hence. Again, From the effects of sanctification, a man has reason to doubt in his own soul concerning justification: wherefore no effect of sanctification can show the soul its justification. The soul which apprehends its justification in Christ, not only knows it, but also lives by, and enjoys its delicious fruits, peace, joy, and strengthening, without any sanctification in itself." Lest any, however, infer from hence, that sanctification may be altogether separated from justification, it is immediately added: " as we ought not to infer our justification from any effect of sanctification; so that apprehension of justification is not of God, which withdraws a man from the means and the rules of sanctification: for it is uncomely not to walk in holiness according to the word of God." And sometimes it seems to be acknowledged, that sanctification and its effects, are in their kind, remarkable evidences of justification; but not suffi-> ciently convincing without the witnessing of the Divine Spirit. Things so intricate, who can explain?

[ocr errors]

XII The

deed bear

XII. How much clearer here is the simSpirit in- plicity of the scriptures? It teaches a double eth witness way whereby a man may come to the certain that we are knowledge of his state: the one depends on the illumination of Divine grace alone, and on the most liberal witnessing of the Holy Spirit to our spirit: but the other is committed

the sons of God.

« PreviousContinue »