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again into their former bondage, to fin and Satan. O Chriftian! if ever God gave thee a fight, and a fenfe of the misery and danger of thy natural ftate, if ever thou haft felt the pangs of a labouring, and diftreffed confcience, and, after all this, tafted the unspeakable fweetnefs of the peace and reft that are in Christ, thou wilt rather choose to die ten thousand deaths, than to forfake Chrift, and go back again into that fad condition.
Infer. 3. How fuitable, and well becoming is a free fpirit in believers, to their state of liberty and freedom? Chrift hath made your condition free, O let the temper and frame of your hearts be free alfo ; do all that you do for God with a spirit of freedom; not by constraint, but willingly. Methinks, Chriftians, the new nature that is in you should stand for a command, and be instead of all arguments that ufe to work upon the hopes, and fears of other men. See how all creatures work according to the principle of their natures. You need not command a mother to draw forth her breafts to a fucking child; nature itfelf teaches and prompts to that. You need not bid the fea ebb and flow at the stated hours. O Chriftian! why should thy heart need any other argument, than its own fpiritual inclination, to keep its stated times and feafons of communion with God? Let none of God's commandments be grievous to you : let not thine heart need dragging and forcing to its own benefit and advantage. Whatever you do for God, do it chearfully; and whatever you fuffer for God, fuffer it chearfully. It was a brave spirit which actuated holy Paul, "I am ready, (faith he), "not only to be bound, but alfo to die at Jerufalem for the name of the Lord Jesus," Acts xxi. 13.
Infer. 4. Let no man wonder at the enmity and oppofition of Satan to the preaching of the gospel: for by the gospel it is that fouls are recovered out of his power, Acts xxvi. 18. Tis the exprefs work of minifters "to turn men from darkness to light, "and from the power of Satan unto God." Satan (as one faith) is a great and jealous prince: he will never endure to have liberty proclaimed by the minifters of Chrift within his dominions. And, indeed, what is it lefs, when the gospel is preached in power, but as it were by beat of drum, and found of trumpet, to proclaim liberty, fpiritual, fweet, and everlastaing liberty, to every foul that is made fenfible of the bondage of corruption and cruel fervitude of Satan, and will now come over to Jefus Chrift? And oh what numbers and multitudes of prisoners have broken loofe from Satan at one proclamation of Chrift, Acts ii. 41. But Satan owes the fervants of Chrift a fpite for this, and will be fure to pay them, if ever they come within his
SERM. XIX. reach; perfecution is the genius of the gospel, and follows it as the fhadow doth the body.
Infer. 5. How careful should Chriftians be to maintain their fpiritual liberty in all and every point therefore! "stand faft (faith "Paul) in the liberty wherewith Chrift hath made us free, and "be not again in tangled in the yoke of bondage," Gal. v. 1. And again, "Ye are bought with a price, be not ye the fervants of "men." 'Tis Chrift's prerogative to prescribe the rules of his own house; he hath given no man dominion over your faith, 2 Cor. i. 24. One man is no rule to another, but the word of Chrift is a rule to all follow not the holiest of men one step farther than they follow Chrift, 1 Cor. 11. 4. Man is an ambitious creature, naturally affecting dominion; and dominion over the mind rather than over the body. To give law to others, feeds pride in himself: fo far as any man brings the word of Christ to warrant his injunctions, fo far we are to obey, and no farther: Christ is your Lord and Lawgiver.
Inference 6. Laftly, Let this encourage and perfuade sinners to come to Chrift; for with him is fweet liberty for poor cap: tives. Oh that you did but know what a blessed state Jefus Chrift would bring you into! "Come unto me (faith he) ye that "labour and are heavy laden;" and what encouragement doth he give to comers? Why this, "My yoke is eafy, and my burden
is light." The devil perfuades you, that the ways of obedience and ftrict godlinefs are a perfect bondage; but, if ever God regenerate you, you will find his ways, ways of pleasantoefs, and "all his paths peace: you will rejoice in the way of his com"mandments as much as in all riches:" you will find the worst work Chrift puts you about, even fuffering work, fweeter than all the pleasures that ever you found in fin. O therefore open your hearts at the call of the gofpel: Come unto Chrift, then fball you be free indeed.
The Saints coming home to GOD, by Reconciliation, and Glorification, opened and applied.
PET. iii. 18. For Chrift hath once fuffered for fins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God,
HE fcope of the apoftle in this place is to prepare, and fortify Chriftians for a day of fuffering. In order to
their chearful fuftaining whereof, he prefcribeth two excellent rules of mighty ufe for all fuffering Chriftians.
First, To get a good confcience within them, ver. 16, 17. hic murus aheneus efto.
Secondly, To fet the example of Chrift's fufferings before them, ver. 18. "For Chrift hath once fuffered for finners:" the fufferings of Chrift for us, is the great motive engaging Chriftians to fuffer chearfully for him.
In the words before us we have,
First, The fufficiency and fulness of Chrift's fufferings intimated in that particle [once]; Chrift needs to fuffer no more, having finished and compleated that whole work at once.
Secondly, The meritorious cause of the sufferings of Chrift, and that is fin, Christ once fuffered for fins; not his own fins, but ours as it follows in the next claufe, which is the third thing here obfervable, viz.
Thirdly, The admirable grace, and unexampled love of Chrift to us finners, the just for the unjust; in which words the subftitution of Chrift in the room and place of finners, the vicegerence of his death is plainly expreffed. Chrift died not only noftro bono, for our good, but also noftro loco, in our stead.
Fourthly, Here is alfo the final caufe, or design and scope of the fufferings of Chrift, which was to bring us to God.
Fifthly, Here is alfo the iffue of the fufferings of Christ, which was the death of Chrift in the flesh, and the quickning of Chrift after death by the Spirit. Many excellent obfervations are lodged in the bofom of this fcripture; all which I must pass over in filence at this time, and confine my discourse to the final cause of the fufferings of Chrift, namely, that he might bring us to God: where the obfervation will be plainly and briefly this.
Doct. That the end of Chrift's curfed death, and bitter fufferings, was to bring all thofe for whom he died unto God. In the explication and preparation of this point for use, two things must be fpoken unto, viz.
1. What Chrift's bringing us to God imports?
2. What influence the death of Chrift hath upon this defign of bringing us to God?
First, What Chrift's bringing us to God imports? And certainly there be many great and excellent things contained in this expreffion more generally it notes our state of reconciliation, and our state of glorification. By reconciliation we are brought nigh to God, Eph. ii. 13. "Ye are made nigh," (i. e.) reconciled, "by the blood of Christ," Heb. xii. 22, 23, we are faid
"to come to God the Judge of all." By reconciliation we are brought nigh unto God now; by glorification we shall be brought home to God hereafter, 1 Thef, iv. 17. "We fhall be ever "with the Lord." But more particularly this phrase, "that "he might bring us to God," imports,
First, That the chief happinefs of man confifteth in the enjoyment of God: that the creature hath as neceffary dependance upon God for happiness, as the ftream hath upon the fountain, or the image in the glafs upon the face of him that looks into it. For as the fum of the creatures mifery lies in this, depart from me; feparation from God is the principal part of damnation : fo, on the contrary, the chief happiness of the creature confifteth in the enjoyment, and bleffed vifion of God, 1 John iii. 2. Pfal. xvii. 15. "I fhall be fatisfied when I awake with thy like"nefs."
Secondly, It implies man's revolt and apoftacy from God, Eph. ii. 12. "But now in Chrift Jefus, ye who were fometime afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Chrift." Thofe whom Christ bringeth unto God, were before afar off from him, both in state and condition, and in temper and difpofition: we were loft creatures, and had no defire to return to God: The prodigal was faid to go into a far country, Luke xv. 30.
Thirdly, Chrift's bringing us to God, implies our inability to return to God of ourselves: we must be brought back by Christ, or perish for ever in a ftate of feparation from God: the loft fheep is made the emblem of the loft finner, Luke xv. 5. The sheep returns not to the fold of itfelf, but the fhepherd feeks it, finds it, and carries it back upon his fhoulders. And the apostle plainly tells us, Rom. v. 6. That when we were without strength (i. e.) any ability to recover, help, or fave ourselves, in due time Chrift died for the ungodly.
Fourthly, Chrift's bringing us to God, evidently implies this, that God's unfatisfied juftice was once the great bar betwixt him and man. Man can have no accefs to God but by Chrift: Chrift brings us to God by no other way but the way of fatif faction by his blood: "He hath fuffered for fins, the just for "the unjust, that he might bring us to God." Better ten thousand worlds should perish for ever, than God should lofe the honour of his juftice. This great obex, or bar to our enjoyment of God, is effectually removed by the death of Christ;
Although the faculties of the foul were not extinguished by the fall, yet their inclination to fpiritual objects was wholly loft. Zean em. on the image of God.
whereby God's justice is not only fully fatisfied, but highly hooured and glorified, Rom. iii. 24. And fo the way by which we are brought to God is again opened (to the wonder and joy of all believers) by the blood and fufferings of Christ.
Fifthly, and laftly, It fhews us the peculiar happiness and privilege of believers above all people in the world: thefe only are they which fhall be brought to God by Jefus Chrift in a reconciled ftate: others, indeed, fhall be brought to God as a Judge, to be condemned by him: believers only are brought to God in the Mediator's hand, as a reconciled Father, to be made blessed for ever in the enjoyment of him: every believer is brought fingly to God at his death, Luke xvi. 22. And all believers shall be jointly and folemnly prefented to God in the great day, Col. i. 22. Jude 24. They thall be all presented faultlefs before the prefence of his glory with exceeding joy. Now the privilege of believers in that day will lie in divers things.
Firft, That they shall be all brought to God together. This will be the general affembly mentioned, Heb. xii. 22. There shall be a collection of all believers, in all ages of the world, into one blessed affembly: they shall come from the east, and weft, and north, and fouth, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God, Luke xiii. 29. O what a glorious train will be feen following the Redeemer in that day!
Secondly, As all the faints fhall be collected into one body; fo they shall be all brought, or presented unto God, faultlefs and without blemish, Jude 24. "A glorious church, without spot "or wrinkle, or any fuch thing," Eph. v. 27. For this is the general affembly of the fpirits of juft men that are made perfect, Heb. xii. 23. All fin was perfectly feparated from them, when death had feparated their fouls and bodies.,
Thirdly, In this lies the privilege of believers, that as they shall be all brought together, and that in a state of abfolute purity, and perfection, fo they fhall be all brought to God: they fhall fee his face, in the vifion whereof is "fulness of joy, and "at whose right-hand are pleasures for evermore," Pfal. xvi. II. The objective bleffedness of the faints confifteth in their fruition of God, Pfal. lxxii. 25. To fee God in his word and works, is the happiness of the faints on earth; but to see him face to face, will be the fulness of their blessedness in heaven, 1 John iii. 2. This is that intuitive, transforming, and fanctifying vifion, of which the fcripture frequently speaks, Pfal. xvii. 15. ↑ Cor. xv. 28. Rev. vii. 17.
Fourthly, To be brought unto God, must needs imply a state of perfect joy, and highest delight. So speaks the apostle, Jude