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from it provided for us in Jesus Christ. I cannot see how it is possible for a heart persuaded of these, to be very careful about any thing beside.
beside. You that eat and drink, and labour and trade, and bestow all your time, either in the pains or the pleasures of this earth, what think you of eternity? Is it a light
? thing for you to perish for ever? After a few days vainly spent, to fall under the wrath of God for ever? Oh! that you would be persuaded to think on these things.
And you that have an interest in this free and blessed estate, why are your spirits so cold, so infrequent in the thoughts of it? Why are you not rejoicing in the Lord? Gladening yourselves in secret when you remember this: "go the world as it will, my sin is forgiven me; mistake me, accuse me whoso will, my God hath acquitted me in his Christ, and he loves me, and lives to intercede for me.
Methinks I hear some say, “Ay, they that could say that, might be merry indeed; but, alas! I have no such assurance, who can lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? That is true; but here is the great point of so hard a resolution, am I one of these?"
That the apostle doth thus specify the owners of this consolation, by this high and hidden character of their election, is not to render it doubtful and dark; for bis main aim, on the contrary, is both to extend it as far as it can go, and to make it as clear as may be to all that have interest in it: but he designates them by the primitive act of love fixing on them, so as it is now manifested to them in the subsequent effects, which flow from theelect called and sanctified, and conformed to Jesus Christ, both by his Spirit within them, and the sufferings that without arise against them in the world; such as, being the sons of God, are led by the Spirit of God, and walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
And these things indeed considered as their characters, the stamp of God on them, the impressions
of their election to life, do check the vain confidence of all carnal ungodly professors of the name of Christ, and tell them that their pretended title to him is a mere delusion; certainly, whosoever lies in the love of sin, and takes the flesh for his guide, that accursed blind guide is leading him into the pit. What gross folly and impudence is it for any man, walking in the lusts of his own heart, to fancy and aver himself to be a partner of that redemption, whereof so great a part is to deliver us from the power of our iniquities, to renew our hearts, and re-unite them to God, and possess them with his love.
The great evidence of thy election is love. Thy love to him gives certain testimony of his preceding eternal love to thee, (so are they here designed, they that love God,) thy chusing him is the effect and evidence of his chusing thee.
Now this is not laborious, that needs to be disputed, amidst all thy frailties; feel the pulse of thine affection, which way beats it, and ask thy heart whether thou love him or not, in this thou hast the character of thy election.
Know you not, that the redeemed of Christ and he are one, they live one life, Christ lives in them, and if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his, as the apostle declares in this chapter? So then, this we are plainly to tell you, and consider it, you that will not let go your sins and lay hold on Christ, have as yet no share in him.
But on the other side: The truth is, that when souls are once set upon this search, they commonly wind the notion too high, and subtilize too much in the dispute, and so entangle and perplex themselves, and drive themselves farther off from that comfort that they are seeking after; such measures and marks of grace, they set to themselves for their rule and standard; and unless they find those without all controversy in themselves, they will not believe that they have an interest in Christ, and this blessed and safe estate in him,
To such I would only say, are you in a willing league with any known sin? Yea, would you willingly, if you might be saved in that way, give up yourself to voluptuousness and ungodliness, and not at all desire to follow Jesus Christ in the way of holiness? Then truly, I have not any thing as yet to say for your comfort, only there is a salvation provided, and the door is yet open, and your heart may be changed. But on the other side, are the desires of thy soul after Christ, a whole Christ, to be righteousness, and withal sanctification to thee? Wouldst thou willingly give up thyself to be ruled by him, and have him for thy king? Hadst thou rather chuse to suffer the greatest affliction for his sake, to honor him, than to commit the least sin to displease him? Doth thy heart go out after him, when thou hearest him spoken of? Dost thou account him thy treasure, so that all the world sounds but as an empty shell to thee, when he is named? Says thy soul within thee, oh! that he were mine? And, oh! that I were his, that I could please him, and live to him? Then do not toss thy spirit, and jangle and spin out thy thoughts in fruitless,, endless doubtings, but close with this as thy portion, and be of good comfort, thy sins are, or will be, forgiven thee.
I add yet further, if thou sayest yet, that thou findest none of all this, yet I say, there is warrant for thee to believe and lay hold on this righteousness here held forth, to the end that thou mayest then find those things in thee, aud find comfort in them. Thou art convinced of ungodliness, then believe on him that justifies the ungodly; thou art condemned, yet Christ is dead and risen, fly to him as such, as the lamb slain, he that was dead and is alive, and then say, who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, or rather that is risen. Who shall accuse? It is true, they may clamour and make a noise, both satan and thy conscience, but how can they fasten any accusation on thee? If they dare accuse, yet they cannot condemn, when the judge hath acquitted
thee, and declared thee free, who is greater than all, and hath the absolute power of the sentence; all charges, and libels come too late after he hath once pronounced a soul righteous. And who shall condemn, it is Christ that died, if the sentence of the law be brought forth? Yet here is the answer, it ought not to be twice satisfied; now once it is in Christ, he hath died, and that stands for the believer. Whosoever flies to him, and lays hold on him for life, he cannot die again; nor canst thou die, for whom he died once, or rather is risen; that raises the assurance higher, and sets it firmer; for this evidences that in his death all was paid, when he being the surety and seized on for the debt, and once death's prisoner, yet was set free. This clears the matter that there is no more to be said; and yet further, in sign that all is done, he is raised to the height of honor above all principalities and powers, is set at the right hand of the Father, and there he sits and lives to make intercession, to sue out the fulfilling of all for believers, the bringing of them home, lives to see all made good that he died and covenanted for; so now his righteousness is thine that believest, any challenge must meet with Christ first, and if it seize not on him, it cannot light on thee, for thou art in him, married to him. And the same triumph that he speaks, whence these words are borrowed, that is made thine, and thou mayest now speak it in him. I know not what can cast him down that hath this word to rest upon, and to comfort himself in.
c Isa. 1. 8.
ROMANS viii. 35, &c.
IVho shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall
tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? &c.
that I am! Who shall deliver me? That now triumphs, O happy man! Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Yes, it is the same. Pained then with the thoughts of that miserable conjunction with a body of death, and so crying out, who will deliver? Who will separate me froin that now? Now he hath found a deliverer to do that for him, to whom he is for ever united, and he glories now in his inseparable union, and unalterable love, that none can divide him from; yea, it is through him, that presently after that word of complaint he praises God, and now in him he triumphs. So vast a difference is there betwixt a christian, taken in himself, and in Christ; when he views himself in himself, then he is nothing but a poor, miserable, polluted, perishing wretcli; but then he looks again, and sees himself in Christ, and there he is rich, and safe, and happy, he triumphs, and he glories in it above all the painted prosperities, and against all the horrid adversities of the world, he lives in his Christ content and happy, and laughs at all enemies.
And he extends his triumph, he makes a common good of it to all believers, speaks it in their name, who shall separate us ? and would have them partake of the same confidence, and speak in the same stile with him. It is vain that men fancy these to