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2. And as it is the soul's highest beauty, so it is the soul's best evidence for heaven. "Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God." Matt. 5: S. Without holiness, no man shall see the Lord." Heb. 12:14. No gifts, no duties, no natural endowments can claim heaven, but the least measure of true holiness will secure it to the soul.
3. Again, as holiness is the soul's best evidence for heaven, so it is a continual spring of comfort on the way thither. The purest and sweetest pleasures in this world are the results of holiness. Till we live holy lives, we never live comfortably. Heaven is epitomized in holiness.
4. And, to say no more, it is the peculiar mark by which God hath visibly distinguished his own from other men: "The Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself." Psalm 4: 3. Oh holiness, how surpassingly glorious art thou!
INFERENCE 1. Did Christ die to sanctify his people? How deep is the pollution of sin, that nothing but the blood of Christ can cleanse it! All the tears of a penitent sinner, should he shed as many as there have fallen drops of rain since the creation, cannot wash away one sin. The everlasting burnings in hell cannot purify the flaming conscience from the least sin.
2. Did Christ die to sanctify his people? Behold the love of a Saviour. "He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." He did not shed the blood of beasts, as the priests of old did, but his own blood. Heb. 9 12. And that not common, but "precious blood," 1 Pet. 1: 19, the blood of God, one drop of which outvalues the blood that runs in the veins of all Adam's posterity. And not some of that blood, but all, all, to the last drop. And thus liberal was he of his blood to us when we were enemies. Oh what manner of love is this!
IV. As Christ died to sanctify his people; so he died also to confirm the new testament to all sanctified ones. So it was in the type, Exod. 24 : 8, and so it is in Christ, Matt. 26: 28, "This is the new testament in my blood," that is, ratified and confirmed by my blood. For "where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator." Heb. 9: 16. So that now all the blessings and benefits bequeathed to believers in the last will and testament of Christ, are abundantly confirmed and secured to them by his death. Yea, he died on purpose to make that testament of force to them. Men make their wills and testaments; and Christ makes his. What they bequeath, and give in their wills, is a free and voluntary act, they cannot be compelled to do it. And what is bequeathed to us in this testament of Christ, is altogether a free and voluntary donation. Other testators usually bequeath their estates to their wives and children, and near relations; so doth this testator: all is settled upon his spouse, the church; upon believers, his children. A stranger intermeddles not with these mercies. Men give all their goods and estate that can be conveyed, to their friends that survive them. Christ giveth to his church, in the new testament, three sorts of goods:
1. All temporal good things; 1 Tim. 6:6; Matt. 6: 33; that is, the comfort and blessing of all, though not the possession of much; "As having nothing, and yet possessing all things." 2 Cor. 6: 10.
2. All spiritual good things, as remission of sin, and acceptance with God, which are contained in their justification. Rom. 3:24-26. Sanctification of their natures, both initial and progressive. 1 Cor. 1:30. Adoption into the family of God. Gal. 3:26. The ministry of angels. Heb. 1:14. Interest in all the promises. 2 Pet. 1:4.
3. All eternal good things. Heaven, glory, and eter
nal life. Rom. 8: 16, 17. No such bequests as these were ever found in the testaments of princes. All that kings and nobles settle by will upon their heirs, are but trifles to what Christ hath conferred in the new testa ment upon his people.
All this is confirmed and ratified by the death of Christ. He died, not merely, as Socinians say, to confirm the new testament by way of testimony, or witness-bearing in his death. This is a fearful derogation from the efficacy of Christ's blood, bringing it down to equality with the blood of martyrs; as if there were no more in it than in their blood. But know, reader, Christ died not only, or principally, to confirm the testament by his blood, as witness to the truth of those things, but his death ratified it as the death of a testator, which makes the new testament irrevocable; just as when a man hath made his will, and is dead, that will is presently in force, and can never be recalled. Besides, the will of the dead is sacred with men; they dare not cross it. It is certain the last will and testament of Christ is most sacred, and God will never annul or make it void. Moreover, it is not with Christ as with other testators, who die, and must trust the performance of their wills with their executors; but as he died to put it in force, so he lives again to be the executor of his own testament. And all power to fulfil his will is now in his hands. Rev. 1: 18.
INFERENCE 1. Did Christ die to confirm the new testament, in which such legacies are bequeathed to believers? How are all believers concerned to assure their title to the mercies contained in this blessed testament!
Examine your relations to Christ. Are you his spouse? Have you forsaken all for him? Psa. 45: 10, 11. Are you ready to take your lot with him, in prosperity or in adversity? Jer. 2:2. Are you loyal to Christ? Thou shalt be for me, and not for another." Hos. 3:3. Do
you yield obedience to him as your Head and Husband? Eph. 5:23; then you may be confident you are interested in the blessings of Christ's last will and testament; for can you imagine Christ will make a testament and forget his spouse? It cannot be. If he so loved the church as to give himself for her, much more what he hath purchased is settled on her. Again, are you his spiritual seed, his children by regeneration? Are you born of the Spirit? John, 3. Do you resemble Christ in holiness? 1 Pet. 1: 15, 16. Do you find a reverential fear of Christ impelling you to obey him in all things? Mal. 1:6. Are you led by the Spirit of Christ? As many as are so led, "they are the sons of God." Rom. 8:14. To conclude, Have you the spirit of adoption, enabling you to cry, Abba, Father? Gal. 4:6; that is, helping you in a gracious manner, with reverence mixed with filial confidence, to open your heart spiritually to your Father on all occasions? If so, you are children; and if children, doubt not but you have a rich legacy in Christ's last will and testament.
You may also discern your interest in the New Testament or covenant (for they are substantially the same thing) by the new covenant impressions made on your hearts, which are so many clear evidences of your right to the benefits it contains. Such are spiritual illuminations, Jer. 31: 34; gracious softness and tenderness of heart, Ezek. 11: 19; the awful dread and fear of God, Jer. 32:43; the copy or transcript of his laws on your hearts in gracious correspondent principles, Jer. 31: 33. These things speak you to be children of the covenant, on whom all these great things are settled.
2. To conclude, it is the indispensable duty of all on whom Christ hath settled such mercies, to admire and walk in his love. Admire the love of Christ. Oh how intense and ardent was the love of Jesus, who designed for you such an inheritance, with such a settlement of
it upon you! Before this love let all the saints fall down astonished, humbly professing that they owe themselves, and all they are, or shall be to eternity, to this love. And be sure you walk becoming persons for whom Christ hath done such great things. Comfort yourselves under present trials with your spiritual privileges, James, 2:5, and let all your rejoicing be in Christ, whilst others are blessing themselves in vanity.
Having finished what I designed to say of the work of redemption, as performed by Christ in his humbled state, we shall now view that blessed work as further advanced and perfected in his state of EXALTATION.
The whole of that work was not to be finished in a state of suffering and abasement on earth: the apostle makes his exaltation so necessary a part of his priesthood, that without it he could not have been a priest. "If he were on earth he should not be a priest," Heb. 8:4; that is, if he had continued here, and had not been raised again from the dead, and taken up into glory, he could not have been a complete and perfect priest. For just as it was not enough for the sacrifice to be slain without, and his blood left there; but it must be carried within the veil, into the most holy place before the Lord, Heb. 9:7; so it was not sufficient that Christ shed his own blood on earth, except he carry it before the Lord into heaven, and there perform his intercession-work for us.
Moreover, God the Father stood engaged in a solemn covenant to reward him for his deep humiliation, with a most glorious and illustrious advancement. Isa. 49: 5-7. And how God made this good to Christ, the apostle very clearly expresses. Phil. 2:9. Our surety could not be detained in the prison of the grave, when the