« PrécédentContinuer »
harassed, fome know by fad experience : Fiery darts that they tremble to think of, and that they dare not name! This fills them with fear: But to such I say, Fear not. Christ died, and is alive evermore. He that thus lives evermore gave a deadly wound to the tempter. When Jesus was in the world, Satan set on him with the most severe temptations; but Jesus overcame him, and at his death triumphed over him. He spoiled principalities and powers, Col. ii. 15. “ And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a fhew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” You see, then, that the enemy with whom you fight is already vanquished, and the victory of Jesus over him is a sure pledge of yours. Yea, as in the first Adam we were all tempted and fell, so in the fecond Adam we were tempted and stood; and so have overcome already in our Head. We have no more to do but cry to our Lord, who, from his own temptations, well knows how to succour his tempted people. We must give the alarm, and handle our weapons. Though the fight may last a while, yet it will come to an end, and we shall be more than conquerors. Jefus is in heaven, waiting till his enemies be made his footitool ; and he will bruise Satan under our feet shortly.
5. Death is the cause of much fear. O how hard is it to look on it with a stayed countenance ! Death is terrible, in that it is a diffolution of nature, parts soul and body; and therefore we are so apt to shudder at the thoughts of it. But fear not ; for Christ died. His precious soul and body were parted: So he orders us to travel no path but such as he hath trode before us. death he has destroyed death; he has unstinged it to the believer. Then, fear it not, it can do you no harm. “But death is terrible, in that it takes us
out of this world from all our enjoyments, from our deareft relations and friends, and sends us into another world, where we know not a foot of ground, where we never saw a face. Were a child born with that judgement that men have, the first fight of this world might be terrible to them; fo must the unseen world be to us." But fear not : He that was dead is alive ; and when ye are carried off, you fall be with him who is infinitely better than all earthly relations. Here is your comfort. Jesus hath the keys of hell and death. He is Lord supreme of that other world to which you are travelling. He sends you such word as Joleph sent his father, Gen. xlv. 9. saying, “ God hath made me Lord of all Egypt; come down unto me, tarry not.”
O to believe it firmly! 6. And lastly, Hell is a fountain of fears. Sometimes the godly are above, sometimes under the fears of hell. It is terrible, the thought of being excluded for ever the presence of God! 6. Who can abide with everlasting burnings?” When we look down to the pit, it seems hard to escape it; when we look
to heaven, our souls faint lest we never get there. But fear not: For Christ died; and if so, he suffered the torments thou shouldst have suffered in hell, as to the essentials of them. He was under the punishment of loss; God forsook him, Pfal. xxii. 1. He endured the punishment of sense, even to drops of blood, and the wrath of God poured into his soul: Then God will not require two payments for one debt.
Christ lives, he rose, and entered heaven as a public person; and therefore, believer, thou shalt as surely go to heaven as if thou wert there already, Yea, the apostle says we are there already, Eph. ii. 6. “ We are raised up together, and made to fit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” as our Head. Je
sus lives for evermore; and therefore, thou shalt be for ever with the Lord. He has the keys of hell and death. Suppose your father or best friend on earth had thefe keys, would you be afraid ? But may
have more confidence in Jesus than in ten thousand fathers, or even the mothers that bare us. They may forsake us, and a mother may be found that will not have compassion on the son of her womb; but, О believer, Jesus hath said, “ I will not forget thee,” Isa. xlix. 15. 16. “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb ? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands, thy walls are continually before me.” Though Satan be the jailor of hell, yet he keeps not the keys; they hang, believer, at the girdle of your beft friend.
III. We shall conclude with some improvement.
1. From this subject, we may infer the comfort. less state of them that are out of Christ. Are the truths in the text grounds of consolation to the saints? How, then, can they bear up who have no interest in Chrift? Nay, we might turn the black fide of this white cloud upon unbelievers, and tell them, that if Jesus died, how can they escape? If he be alive, he will avenge their contempt of him, and their neglect of his falvation. If he lives for evermore, then they will have an eternal enemy. If he has the keys of hell, then they cannot escape that prison; or be rescued out of it.
2. That it is the duty of Christians to improve these things for their actual comfort. Christian, fit down at his table, and suck the breasts of consolation. Build your comforts on these truths. Alas ! our comforts are often short lived, because we do not found them sure enough. I will give you but a few notes concerning this. (1.) The grie
ving of the Spirit cuts the throats of our comforts. (2.) Good men sometimes build their comforts on cutward bleflings; hence, when these are gone, their comfort is gone. (3.) On grace
within them, not on grace without them; the comfort of some streams from their obedience principally, therefore it is foon dried up; whereas the death and life of Christ are liable to no change, as is our obedience. (4.) Upon the coming in of words to their minds. Hence, when a promise comes in, they are comforted; when a threatening, all is gone. I do believe, that the Spirit comforts his people by the word, and that he makes words come in with an impression on the foul, John xiv. 26. “ He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said.” But then these words lead the foul direct to Christ, and to build our comfort on him ; but it is not of God to build it on the bare impression of a comfortable word. The coming in of a word should guide us to Chrift; and though the impreslion, the guide go, yet we may keep our hold of him.-Here we are presented with an objection, “ But I fear I have nothing to do with these confolations." Anf. Are you this day willing to take Christ? Then give your consent, and he is yours, and all is yours: « Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely," Rev. xxii. 17. Obj. “But I fear I am not fincere, in that I am actuated from fear of hell, and hope of reward.” Ans. If ye fear not God's wrath, 1o as to endeavour to escape it, ye are despifers of God; if ye desire not salvation, so as to labour for it, ye are monstrous murderers of your own fouls. Let your self-love only be regular, and it is commendable; and then it is regular, when your desires of happiness are carried towards it through Christ and the way of holiness; so that
your soul longs for Christ as well as falvation, and ye desire to be holy as well as happy. It is regular, when it is subordinate to the will of God; and that is, when the man justifies God, though he should cast him off, and yet, come what will, is refolved to cleave to the Lord and his way.
A word to other two sources of the saint's fears.
1. Weakness and spiritual inability for the duties of religion. The foul taking a view of the great work it has to do, what strong lusts are to be mortified, temptations refifted, duties performed; and then, considering how weak and unable it is for any of these things, it is even ready to fink. But fear not : Christ died, &c. Heb. xii. 12. “ Wherefore, lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees :" Christ died, and therefore strength for duty is purchased. In the first Adam, the influences of the Spirit were forfeited; in the second Adam, they are bought back again. The well-ordered covenant is sealed and confirmed. There is a fulness in the covenant for all your wants. There are promises in it that will answer all your needs. Now, the covenant is confirmed, for the testator is dead. Christ liveth: He arose from death, and lives evermore; therefore, he that has the believer's stock of strength is alive. Adam got our first stock, but he became insolvent; Christ got the next, he liveth in the court of heaven as a public person, and treasury of strength, “ Of his fulness have alí we received, and grace for grace,” John i. 16.
The believer's Surety to the Father stands good ; and what need they fear as long as their cautioner holds foot ? Christ is the believer's cautioner for fanctification and perseverance, John X. 28. and chap. xvii. 12. “ While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is loft,