Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

Holy Ghost. There is no man actually belonging unto the kingdom of Christ, who hath not all these holy affections wrought in him, and maketh conscience of them, as of his calling, and the duties of his life.

We see then that holiness is the badge of Christ's subjects; they are called. The people of his holiness : Israel was holiness unto the Lord',' and the first-fruits' of his increase consecrated unto him and his service as a kind of first-fruits.& The livery of Christ's servants is a parcel of the same holy Spirit, with which his own human nature was clothed. All the vessels and ministerial instruments of the tabernacle were anointed with the holy oil h; and the house of the Lord was a house of holiness', to signify that every Christian should be, by the Spirit of God, sanctified, because he is a templek; and every member, because it is a vessel and instrument for the master's use. The Spirit of holiness is that which distinguisheth, and, as it were, marketh the sheep of Christ from the wicked of the world : “ Ye are sealed with the holy Spirit of promise : ye have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God." Holiness setteth us apart for God's service o, for his presence, and fruition P; protecteth and privilegeth us from the wrath to come, in the day when he shall separate between the precious and the vile, and make up his jewels;--without this, no man can either serve, or see, or escape God; either do his will, enjoy his favour, or decline his fury. All our services without this are but dung?: and who would thank that man for his service, who, with wonderful officiousness, should bring nothing but heaps of dung into his house? If a man could pour out of his veins rivers of blood, and offer up every day as many prayers as thoughts unto God; if his eyes were melted into tears, and his knees hardened into horn with devotion ;-yet all this, if it be not the fruit of holiness, but of will-worship, or superstition, or opinion of merit and righteousness, it is but as dung in God's sight. " Wherefore liest thou upon thy face? There is an accursed thing in the camp.” Whatever sin thy conscience telleth thee lieth next thy heart, and warms it, so that thou art unwilling to part from it, take heed of bringing it into God's presence, or provoking him with thy services; for he will throw them back like dung into thy face. " What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many"? What hast thou to do to take

d Rom. xv. 16. • Isai. Ixiii. 18. f Jer, ii. 3. 8 James i. 18. h Exod. xl. 9. i Psal. xciü. 5. k 2 Cor. vi. 16. I Rom. vi, 13. m Ephes. i. 13.

DI Cor. ii. 12. o Tit. ii. 14. P Heb. xii, 14. Ezek. ix. 4. 4 Malach. ii. 3.

my covenant in thy mouth, seeing thou hatest instructions? Who hath required this at your hands, to tread in my courts ? Bring no more vain oblations, incense is an abomination unto me, &c. Till a man put away the evil of his doings, and cleanse himself, all his worship of God is but mocking of him, and profaning his ordinances. In vain did the mariners pray, while Jonah was in the ship; in vain did Joshua intercede, while the accursed thing was in the camp. A man shall lose all which he hath wrought in God's worship, and have neither thanks nor reward for it, so long as he harboureth any unclean affection in his heart, and will not yield to part from it. Any sin which wasteth the conscience (as every great presumptuous sin doth in whomsoever it is) unqualifieth that person for the kingdom of Heaven. Grace maketh a believer sure of salvation, but it doth not make him wretchless, or secure in living. Though there be not an extinguishment, yet there is a suspension of his right upon any black and notorious fall, that a man must not dare to lay claim to Heaven, that hath dared, in a presumptuous manner, to provoke the Lord. Our holiness is not the cause of our salvation, but yet it is the way thereunto. He which, by any wasting and presumptuous sin, putteth himself out of that way, must by repentance turn into it again, before he can hope to find out Heaven; for“ without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” He that is a hundred miles from his own house, notwithstanding his propriety thereunto, shall yet never actually enter therein, till he have travelled over the right way which leads unto it. There is an order, . a primo ad ultimum,' in the salvation of men; many indeterminate passages between their vocation and their glory: justification, repentance, sanctification, as a scale or ladde betwixt earth and Heaven. He that falls from his holiness

* Jer. xi. 15.

* Isai. i. 11, 14,

8 Psal. 1. 16, 17.

and purity of conscience, though he be not quite down the ladder, and hath the whole work to begin again as much as ever, yet doubtless he shall never get to the top, till he recover the step from which he fell.

And if, in this case, it be true that the righteous shall scarcely be saved ; 0 then where shall that man appear whom God, at the last, shall find without this garment and seal upon him? When there was a tempest, he who slept, and least thought of it, was thrown into the sea; and when the day of wrath shall come, those that have neglected their estate most, shall doubtless be in the greatest danger. And, therefore, we should labour to go to God's throne with our garments and our mark upon us; for all other endowments, our learning, our honours, our parts, our preferments, our earthly hopes and dependences, will none follow us; but we shall live to see them, or the comforts of them depart. Ahitophel had wisdom like an oracle of God; but he lived to see it bid him quite farewell: for he died like a very fool or child, who, when he may not have his own will, will be revenged upon himself. Haman had more honour than the ambition of a subject usually aspires unto; and yet he lived to see it bid him farewell, and died the basest death which himself could devise for his most hated and despised enemy. Jehoiakim, a king, lived to see his crown take its leave, and was buried with the burial of an ass, and dragged like carrion out of the gates of the city. There will be nothing at last left for any man to cast his trust upon, but God, or angels, or our fellows; and if then God be against us, though all which remains were on our side, alas what is a handful of stubble to a world full of fire ? But yet there will not be that advantage, but the combat must be single between God and a sinner. The good angels rejoice to do good God's will, and the wicked will rejoice to do man any mischief: these will be only ready to accuse, and those to gather the wicked together unto the wrath of him that sitteth on the thronę. O what would a man give then for that holiness, which he now despiseth! what covenants would such a man be content to subscribe unto, if God would then show him mercy, when the court of mercy is shut up! Wouldst thou return to the earth, and live there a thousand years under contempt

[ocr errors]

and persecution for my service ? O yes, not under thy service only, but under the rocks and mountains of the earth, so I may be hid from the face of the Lamb.-Wilt thou be content to go to Hell, and serve me there a thousand years in the midst of hellish torments, and the reviling of damned creatures ? O yes, even in Hell infinitely better would it be to be thy servant than thine enemy.-Wilt thou revenge every oath with a year of prayers, every bribe or corruption with a treasury of alms, every vanity with an age of preciseness? Yes, Lord, the severest of thy commands to escape but the smallest of thy judgements.- let us be wise for ourselves: there shall be no such casy conditions then proposed, when it will be impossible to observe them; and there are now far easier proposed, when we are invited to observe them.

Lastly, From hence we learn, that none will be willing to come unto Christ, till they see beauty in his service, which, with a carnal eye, they cannot do: for naturally the heart is possessed with much prejudice against it,--that the way of religion, in that exactness which the Word requires, is but the phantasm of more sublimated speculatioif, a mere notional and airy thing, which hath no being at all, but in the wishes of a few men, who fancy unto themselves the shape of a church, as Xenophon did of a prince, or Plato of a commonwealth. And therefore though with their tongues they do not, yet in their hearts, men are apt to lay aside that rigour and exactness, which the Scripture requires ;-namely, to pull out our right eyes, to cut off our right hands, to hate father, and mother, and wife, and lands, and our own life; to deny ourselves, to cross our own desires, to mortify our earthly members; to follow the Lamb through evil report and good report, through afflictions and persecutions and manifold temptations, whithersoever he goeth ; to war with principalities and powers, and spiritual wickednesses; to acquaint ourselves with the whole counsel of God, and the like ; and instead thereof to resolve upon certain more tolerable maxims of their own to go to Heaven by, certain mediocrities between piety and profaneness, wherein men hope to hold God fast enough, and yet not to lose either the world, or their sinful lusts. This is a certain and confessed truth, that the spirit which is in us by nature, is contrary to the

son, the

Spirit of purity and power which is in the Word : and therefore the universal and willing submission of the heart unto this, must needs find both many antipathies within, and many discouragements and contempts without. Christ was set up for “a sign of contradiction to be spoken against", and that “in the houses of Israel and Judah ;” and as it was then, so is it now, even in Abraham's family, in the household and visible church of Christ, “ They that are of the flesh, persecute those that are after the Spirit;" Christ had never greater enemies than those which professed his name. This is one of the sorest engines Satan bath against his kingdom, to make it appear in the eyes of men as a despicable", contemptuous, and unbeautiful thing. And therefore no man comes under Christ's government, till that prejudice by manifest evidence of the Spirit be removed. And for this rea

of Christ are set forth as beautiful, even under crosses and afflictions. “I am black” with persecution, with the beating of the sun upon me ; " but yet I am comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem.”y When the watchmen smote the church, and wounded her, and took away her veil, yet still she acknowledged Christ, for whose sake she suffered these persecutions, to be “white and ruddy, the fairest of ten thousand 2:” and the same opinion hath Christ of his church, though she be afflicted and tossed with tempest, yet he esteemeth of her as of a beautiful structure: “How fair and pleasant art thou, O love, for delights b.” And this is that we should all endeavour to show forth in a shining and unblamable conversation, the beauty of the gospel, that the enemy may have no occasion,-from any indiscretions, affectations, unnecessary reservedness, and deformities, ungrounded scrupulosities, over worldly affections, or any other miscarriages of those who profess not the name only, but the power of religion,—to blaspheme or Aling off from a way, against which they have such prejudices offered them : for all that which the faithful have common with the world, shall yet be sure to be charged upon their profession by wicked men, who have not either reason or charity

ways

u Isa. viii. 14, 18. Zech. iii. 8. Luke ii. 34. x Quantus in Christiano populo honor Christi, ubi religio ignobilem facit?--per hoc omnes quodammodo mali esse coguntur, ne viles habeantur. Salv. y Cant, i. 5, 8. Cant. v. 7, 10

Isai, liv. 11, 12, b Cant. iv. 1, 7.

« ElőzőTovább »