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because it is not in the tongue alone, or in the hand, &c, but has its root in the heart; therefore it doth not wither as the grass, or flower lying on the superfice of the earth; but it flourishes, because rooted; and therefore it embraces the whole law, because it arises from a reverence it has for the lawgiver himself. Reverence, I say, but tempered with love: hence it accounts no law nor command little, or of small value which is from God, because he is great, and highly esteemed by the pious heart. No command hard (though contrary to the flesh) because all things are easy to love; there is the same authority in all, as St. James divinely argues. And this authority is the golden chain of all the commandments, which if broke in any link, all falls to pieces.
That this threefold perfection of obedience is not a picture drawn by fancy, is evident in David, where he subjects himself to the whole law. His feet', his mouth", his heart", the whole tenor of his life. He subjects himself to the whole law, and he professes his constancy therein, Teach me the way of thy statutes, and I shall keep it unto the end.
2dly, We have the causes of the condition above described.
According to the foreknowledge of God the Father.] The exactest knowledge of things is, to know them in their causes; it is then an excellent thing, and worthy of their endeavours that are most desirous of knowledge, to know the best things in their highest causes, and the happiest way of attaining to this knowledge is, to possess those things, and to know them in experience: to such the Apostle here speaks, and sets before them the excellency of their spiritual condition, and leads them to the causes of it.
Their estate is, that they are sanctified and justified: the nearest cause of both these is Jesus
Christ; he is made unto them both righteousness and sanctification, the sprinkling of his blood purifies them from guiltiness, and quickens them to obedience.
The appropriating or applying cause comes next under consideration, which is the Holy, and holy making, or sanctifying Spirit, the author of their selecting from the world, and effectual calling unte
The source of all, the appointing, or decreeing cause, is God the Father; for though they all work equally in all, yet in order of working, we are taught thus to distinguish, and particularly to ascribe the first work of eternal election to the first person of the blessed Trinity.
In or through sanctification.] For to render it elect to the sanctification is strained: so then I conceive this election, is their effectual calling, which is by the working of the Holy Spirit', where vocation and election are used in the same sense, Ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise. men after the flesh, &c. but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. It is the first act of the decree of election; the beginning of its performance in those that are elected; and it is in itself a real separating of men from the profane and miserable condition of the world, and an appropriating and consecrating of a man unto God; and therefore, both in regard of its relation to election, and in regard of its own nature, it well bears that name.
Sanctification in a narrower sense, as distinguished from justification, signifieth the inherent holiness of a christian, or his being inclined and enabled to obedience mentioned in this verse: but it is here more large, and is co-extended with the whole work of renovation, and is the severing and separating of meu. to God, by his Holy Spirit, drawing them unto him; and so it comprehends justification (as here) and the
1 Cor. i. 26, 27, 28. Rom. viii. 28. 30. Acts ii. 47. and xiii. 48. John xv. 19.
first working of faith, by which the soul is justified, through its apprehending, and applying the righteousness of Jesus Chrift.
Of the Spirit.] The word calls men externally, and by that external calling prevails with many to an external receiving and professing of religion, but if it be left alone it goes no further; it is indeed the means of sanctification and effectual calling, Sanctify them through thy truth. But this it doth when the Spirit that speaks in the word works in the heart, and causes it to hear and obey. The spirit or soul of a man is the chief and first subject of this work, and it is but slight false work that begins not there: but the spirit here, is rather to be taken for the Spirit of God the efficient, than the spirit of man the subject of this sanctification; and therefore our Saviour in that place prays to the Father, that he would sanctify his own by that truth, and this he doth by the concurrence of his spirit with that word of truth which is the life and vigour of it, and makes it prove the power of God unto salvation to them that believe. It is a fit means in itself, but it is then a prevailing means, when the Spirit of God brings it in to the heart; it is a sword, and sharper than a two edged sword, fit to divide, yea even to the dividing of soul and Spirit. But this it doth not, unless it be in the Spirit's hand, and he applies it to this cutting and dividing. The word calls, but the Spirit draws, not severed from that word, but working in it and by it.
It is a very difficult work to draw a soul out of the-hands and strong chains of satan, and out of the pleasing entanglements of the world, and out of its own natural perverseness, to yield up itself unto God, to deny itself, and live to him; and in so doing, to run against the main stream, and the current of the ungodly world without, and corruption within.
The strongest rhetoric, the most moving and persuasive way of discourse, is all too weak; the tongue of men and angels cannot prevail with the
t John xvii. 17.
soul to free itself, and shake off all that detains it. Although it be convinced of the truth of those things that are represented to it, yet still it can and will hold out against it, and say, non persuadebis etiamsi persuaseris.
The hand of man is too weak to pluck any soul out of the crowd of the world, and set it in amongst the select number of believers. Only the Father of Spirits hath absolute command of Spirits, viz. the souls of men, to work on them as he pleaseth, and where he will. This powerful, this sanctifying Spirit knows no resistance, works sweetly, and yet strongly; it can come into the heart, whereas all other speakers are forced to stand without. That still voice within persuades more than all the loud crying without; as he that is within the house, though he speak low, is better heard and understood, than he that shouts without doors.
When the Lord himself speaks by this his Spirit to a man, selecting and calling him out of the lost world, he can no more disobey, than Abraham did, when the Lord spoke to him after an extraordinary manner, to depart from his own country and kindred". Abraham departed as the Lord had spoken to him. There is a secret but very powerful virtue in a word, or look, or touch of this Spirit upon the soul, by which it is forced, not with a harsh but a pleasing violence, and cannot chuse but follow it, not unlike that of Elijah's mantle upon Elisha*. How easily did the disciples forsake their callings and dwellings to follow Christ?
The Spirit of God draws a man out of the world by a sanctified light sent into his mind, discovering to him, 1. How base and false the sweetness of sin is, that withholds men and amuses them, that they return not, and how true and sad the bitterness is, that will follow upon it. 2. Setting before his eyes the free and happy condition, the glorious liberty of the sons of God, the riches of their present enjoyment, and their far larger and assured hopes for * 1 Kings xix. 19.
u Gen. xii. 4.
hereafter. 3. Making the beauty of Jesus Christ visible to the soul; which straight way takes it so, that it cannot be stayed from coming to him, though its most beloved friends, most beloved sins lye in the way, and hang about it and cry, Will you leave us so? It will tread upon all to come within the embraces of Jesus Christ, and say with St. Paul, I was not disobedient to, or unpersuaded by the heavenly vision.
It is no wonder that the godly are by some called singular and precise; they are so, singular, a few selected ones, pickt out by God's own hand for himself". Know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself: therefore, saith our Saviour, the world hates you, because I have chosen you out For the world lies in unholiness of the world. And as living
and wickedness, is buried in it. men can have no pleasure among the dead, neither can these elected ones amongst the ungodly; they walk in the world as warily as a man or woman, neatly apparelled, would do amongst a multitude that are all sullied and bemired.
Endeavour to have this sanctifying Spirit in yourselves; pray much for it; for his promise is past to us, that he will give this holy Spirit to them And shall we be such fools as to want that ask it. it, for want of asking? When we find heavy fetters on our souls and much weakness, yea averseness to follow the voice of God calling us to his obedience, then let us pray with the spouse, draw me. She cannot go nor stir without that drawing; and yet with it, not only goes, but runs, we will run after thee.
Think it not enough that you hear the word, and use the outward ordinances of God, and profess his name; for many are thus called, and yet but a few of them are chosen. There is but a small part of the world outwardly called, in comparison of the rest that is not so, and yet the number of the true elect is so small, that it gains the number of these
y Psal. iv. 3.