Page images

sin; for which if thou has deserved any thing, it is only 'hell, or that which is worse than hell, if any such thing can be And canst thou, O most wretched creature, boast of any such vanity!" Rom. iii. 27.

LXII. 3dly, It conduces above all to the consolation of the afflicted soul, bewailing his sins with godly sorrow; whom we may address in this manner, from the very genius, or nature of this doctrine. "Indeed, thy sins are both more numerous and greater, than thou canst either conceive or express: but behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world. Every thing, in thee, is infected with much sin but thanks be to God, the cause of thy justification is not to be sought for in thee: we are justified freely by his grace. Thou hast to do with a most righteous judge, who will not clear the guilty: but behold Jesus the surety, who, by a full expiation, has brought it to pass, that he can justify the ungodly, without any violation of his justice. Having such a leader and guardian, approach without fear to this judge being assured, that Jesus thy patron or powerful friend will so plead thy cause, that thou shalt not be cast. Canst thou not yet venture? What should hinder? Do thy sins, thy nakedness and thy pollution affright thee? But take shelter behind Christ, hide thyself in his wounds, wrap thyself in his death and blood, receive, with the hand of faith the offered fine lin en, the righteousness of the saints. Is thy faith itself so weak that thou art ashamed and grieved? But again thanks be to God, that thou art not to be justified for thy faith, or for any worthiness that is in it, but if it is true and sincere, however weak, it is the band of thy union and communion with Christ. And being united to him also present thyself to God without fear; undauntedly before the devil and all who take pleasure to accuse thee. Humbly confess whatever sin may be objected against thee: but add, that they shall no doubt triumph in the judgment when they shall make it appear, that the merits and satisfaction of Christ are not sufficient to atone for and remove them, or thou not suffered to plead those merits of Christ in judgment. I challenge the devil and all his accomplices who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth," &c. Doest thou believe these things? Thou doest, but with faultering and hesitation. Fight manfully against all the temptations of unbelief, and even now, thou shalt receive that white stone, and new name written thereon which none knoweth, but he who received it; and the hidden manna, which having tasted, thou wilt enjoy thy life" in patience, and death in desire." This

is comfort indeed they, who build not on these foundations, are certainly, like Job's friends, miserable comforters. It is memorable, what the reverend Voetius, Disput. ii. p. 754. relates of John Frederic duke of Saxon, who acquainted Luther that George duke of Saxon comforted his son John, in the agonies of death, with the righteousness of faith, desiring him to look to Christ alone, and disclaim his own merits and the invocation of saints. And when the wife of the aforesaid John (who was sister to Philip Landgrave of Hesse) asked duke George, why these things were not thus publicly taught, made answer; O daughter such things are to be said to the dying only. O the force of truth, breaking forth even from the breasts of those who are set against it.


LXXXIII. 4thly, This doctrine is exceedingly powerful to promote godliness. 1. Because it lays, as a foundation, a submissive humility of soul, presuming nothing of itself,without which there is no holiness that deserves the name. Because we teach, that no faith justifies, but what is the fruitful parent of good works. And can any one really believe," that he, who is himself, a most unworthy sinner, is without any merit of his own, received into the favour of God, delivered from the expectation of hell, and favoured with the hope of a blessed eternity, and not, in every respect, and by all means be obedient to so benevolent a Lord? Can he believe, that God the father spared not his own son, that he might spare this slave: that God the Son bore so many things grievous to mention, and hard to suffer, that he might procure pardon for the guilty, and a right to life: that God, the Holy Ghost, should enter his heart, as the messenger and earnest of so great a happiness, and love those so ardently, who had no love for him? Can he then provoke the father by disobedience? Trample on the son by his wickedness and profane his blood? Can he grieve the spirit the comforter? Indeed, sucha one knows not what faith is, who imagines, that it consists in a strong persuasion destitute of good works. 3dly, Because it teacheth a sublime pitch of holiness, by which a person, laying aside every mercenary affection, can iove God. and virtue for itself. direct every thing to the glory of God alone, and securely trust him with the free reward of his works. Here now we appeal to the conscience of our adversaries, which is the safer way, whether that which we point out to our people, or what they would have theirs to walk in? We both agree, that without good works none shall be saved. Now whether is it safer, to say, do good works, with a presumption of merit; or, do them with all diligence and energy

3 H 2


of soul; because you cannot be saved without them: yet, having done all, own thyself to be an unprofitable servant, and look for heaven as a free gift. If works merit nothing, doubtless he offends God who boasts of his merits But if they deserve any thing, yet I, though performing them diligently, dare not arrogate any thing to myself from merit: of what detriment, pray, will that humility be? We conclude, that a doctrine, whose advantages are so many, and so considerable cannot but be true.

1. R


Of Spiritual Peace.

ECONCILIATION stands in close connection with justifi cation, the consummation of which is a spiritual, holy, and blessed peace: "therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ," Rom. v 1.

II. This pence is "a mutual concord between God and the sinner, who is justified by faith; so that the heart of God is carried out towards man, and in like manner, the heart of man towards God, by a delightful inclination of friendship." God thus addresses the church, when reconciled to him; "thou shalt no more be termed forsaken, neither shall thy land be any more termed desolate but thou shalt be called, Hephzi-bah (my delight), and thy land, Beulah (married): for the Lord delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married," Isa. lxii. 4. And the church in her turn, replies, "I will love thee, O Lord, my strength," Psal. xviii. 1.

III. This blessed peace presupposes that unhappy and destructive war, which the inconsiderate sinner had raised between God and himself; concerning which the prophet says, "your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you," Isa. lix. 2. By sin man lost the favour and friendship of God, and incurred his righteous hatred and displeasure, which "is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men," Rom. i, 18. and is threatened by the curse of the law, Deut. xxvii. 26. felt in the conscience, which trembles at every voice of God, Gen. iii. 8. and is the bitter source of all that anguish, which is the forerunner of eternal destruction. And on the other hand, man is carried out to a dreadful hatred of God, Rom. i. 30. After sin became his delight, he


became an enemy to all holiness, and consequently a most bitter enemy to God, because he is the most unspotted holiness. Whatever wisdom he has, it is enmity against God, Rom. viii. 7. He hath joined himself to the devil, under whose banner he fights against God." He stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty he runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick bosses of his bucklers, Job xv. 25, 6. If any thing is propounded to him out of the law of God, he the more boldly acts contrary to it, Rom. vii. 8. Whenever he feels the effects of divine indignation, he with the most reproachful words, reviles the most holy justice of God, Isa. viii. 21. And almost goes so far as to wish, that either there was no God, or that he did not punish sin. The first of these tends to destroy the existence of God; the other his holiness, without which (horrid to think !) he would be a wicked spirit. But seeing God is greater than man, Job xxxii. 12. this war cannot but prove fatal to man "God is wise in heart, and mighty in strength; who hath hardened himself against him, and hath prospered?" Job ix. 4.

IV. In this very grievous war, all hopes of an uniting peace seem to be entirely cut off. For it cannot be devised, in what manner, either God can be reconciled to man, or man to God. The holiness of God does not suffer him to allow the sinner communion with himself, least he should seem to be like him, Psal. 1. 21. The justice of God demands puzishment, Rom. i. 32 The truth of God threatens death, Gen. iii. 3. And it is on no account to be expected, that God would make a peace in favour of man who despises him, to the prejudice of any of his own perfections: for he cannot deny himself, 2 Tim. ii. 13. And man on his part is no less averse to peace, for though he will find nothing but ruin in this war, and all manner of good in this peace, yet he is so infatuated, so much an enemy to himself, that he madly hardens himself to his own destruction. Being subjected to the power of sin and Satan, he freely and fully serveth them. These blind the eyes of his understanding "least the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them," 2 Cor. iv. 4. And so lead him captive at their will, that he neither can, nor dare think in what manner he may recover himself out of the snare of the devil, and be reconciled to God, 2 Tim. ii. 26.

V. But God," whose understanding there is no searching put," Isa. xl. 28. was able to find out a method and way, whereby all these difficulties could be surmounted. For he


hath a Son, who being given to be the mediator and surety, made satisfaction to his holiness, justice, and veracity, and thus on his part God is reconciled, 2 Cor. v. 19. Moreover that Son has a spirit far more powerful than the infernal spirit, who by his turning and inclining efficacy, can expel the hatred of God out of our hearts, and shed abroad the love of God there. To whose guidance and influence, if man gives himself up, that blessed peace will be soon procured of which we are now to treat.

VI. Hence it appears, that the rise and beginning of this peace is from God; accordingly it is called the peace of God; and God himself the God of peace, Phil. iv. 7, 9. The father hath established the counsel of peace, Zech. vi. 13. And therefore it is ascribed to him as the original of it, that ❝having made peace, he reconciled all things unto himself," Col. i. 20. The Son hath executed that counsel of peace, and by shedding his precious blood, removed all obstructions, and actually obtained for the elect the grace and favour of his Father, which was long before designed for them. He therefore calls this his own peace; and declares that he gives it, John xiv. 2. nay he is called the Prince of peace, Isa. xi. 5. and king of peace, prefigured by Melchizedek, Heb. vii. 2. and the peace, Mich. v. 5. and our peace, Eph. ii. 14. The Holy Spirit, the messenger of so great a happiness, like Noah's dove with an olive-branch, flies at the appointed moment of grace to the elect, and effectually offers and brings home to them the peace decreed by the Father, and purchased by Christ: Hence peace is said to be by the Holy Ghost, Rom. xiv. 17.

VII. The fountain of this peace, and the first cause of it, can be nothing but the infinite mercy and philanthrophy of God: and this is the reason why the Apostles in their Epistles wishing peace to believers, usually set grace before it, as the spring of that peace. Which is the more evident, because as there was nothing in man, that could invite God to make peace with him (for, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, Rom. v. 10). so in like manner, God who is all sufficient to himself for all happiness could gain nothing by this peace. The whole advantage thereof redounds to man: the glory of so great a work is due to God alone.

VIII. Man surely ought not to hear the least report of this peace, without being directly carried with the greatest vigoar of soul, to obtain it for himself. And tho' he should be obliged to go to the utmost end of the earth, for instruc

« PreviousContinue »