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2. The merit and interceffion of Chrift the Son. He redeemed them by paying a full price, which must be loft if they be loft, 1 Pet. i. 18. 19. And he ever liveth to make interceffion for them, Heb. vii. 25.
3. The perpetual abiding of the Spirit in and with them, John xiv. 16. which fecures their union with Christ, and the preservation of the feed of grace, 1 John iii. 9.
4. Laftly, The nature of the covenant of grace, which is furnished with fuch pillars as the firft covenant had not, namely, the promifes of perpetual confervation in the ftate of grace, Jer. xxxii. 40. I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good: but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.
SIXTHLY, I fhall fhew the means of perfeverance. Let none think that they may live carelessly, having once got grace, because it cannot be loft: for besides that one's giving himfelf quite up to fuch an opinion and courfe is inconfiftent with faving grace, God has joined together the end and means, and none shall feparate them, Acts xxvii. 22. And now I exhort you to be good cheer for there fhall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the fhip. Compare ver. 31. Paul faid to the centurion and to the foldiers, Except thefe abide in the hip, ye cannot be faved. Now, in the general, thefe are,
1. God's ordinances and providences, He makes ufe of both to keep the feet of his faints, John xv. 2.
2. The duties of religion, and exercise of the graces, faith, fear, watchfulness, &c. 1 Cor. x. 12. Wherefore let him that thinketh be ftandeth, take heed left he fall.
I fhall conclude with a few inferences.
Inf. 1. Would ye have a treasure which ye cannot lofe? then get grace. Ye may lofe your worldly trea fures, comforts, and enjoyments; the world's good things may go. But grace is durable.
2. Take heed to yourselves, and beware of apoftafy; for it is not the beginning well, but holding on to the end, that will fecure your falvation, Matth. X. 22. He that endureth to the end, shall be faved. Beware left Satan, the world, and your lufts give you up your foot, and ye lofe all ye have wrought, 2 John 8.
3. As ever ye would perfevere, look well to the foundation of your religion; for fincerity will last, but hypocrify is a difeafe in the vitals that will end in death. The builders endeavour to lay the foundation faft and fecurely, and then they are fure that the fuperftructure they raise upon it fhall ftand firm. Therefore lay the foundation well, and ye may be affured that the building fhall weather all ftorms.
4. Laftly, Let those whofe care it is to be found in Chrift, and to live to him in all the duties of piety and righteousness, be comforted amidst all their temptations, fnares, and corruptions, in that God who has begun the good work, will perfect it, Phil. i. 6.
Of the Benefits which Believers receive at Death.
PHILIPPIANS i. 21.
LL muft die; but as mens lives are very different, fo their account in death is alfo. To an ungodly man death is a lofs, the greateft lofs: but to a believer it is gain, the greatest gain.
Paul was now a prifoner in Rome, and his cafe in itself was doubtful whether it would terminate in life or death, (though he was affured it would not be death at that time, ver. 25.) But having taken a view of both, he does, in the text, in his own perfon, give us, (1.) The fum of a believer's life, that is, Chrift As all the lines drawn from the circumference meet in the centre, fo the whole of a believer's life in Chrift,
his honour being the scope of all. (2.) His eftímate of a believer's death; he will not be a lofer, but a gainer by it: it brings him in many benefits, and fo is a gainful exchange.
The doctrine of the text is,
DocT. Death is gain to a believer.
In difcourfing this doctrine, I fhall fhew,
1. In what respects death is gain to believers.
I. I am to fhew in what refpects death is gain to believers. It is fo in respect of their fouls and of their bodies.
FIRST, In refpect of their fouls. It feparates their fouls from their bodies, but not to their lofs, but to their gain. It is with the fouls of believers at death, as with Paul and his company in their voyage, Acts xxvii, The (hip broke in many pieces, but the paffengers came all fafe to land. So when the eye-ftrings break, the speech is laid, the laft pulfe beats, the last breath is drawn, the foul escapes, and gets fafe away out of the troublesome fea of this world, into Immanuel's land. Now there is a twofold gain or benefit which the fouls of believers receive at death, namely, perfection in holiness, and immediate entering into glory.
First, Perfection in holiness, Heb. xii. 23.-The Spirits of just men made perfect. In regeneration the elect get a new nature, which is a holy nature, 2 Pet. i. 4. but much of the old nature ftill remains. Then grace is planted in them by the Spirit. It grows up in the gradual advances of fanétification; but at death it is perfected, they are made perfectly holy. This perfection confifts in two things.
1. A perfect freedom from fin, Eph. v. 27. The fpiritual enemies they fee to day, they fhall never fee more, when once death has clofed their eyes. Many a groan and fruggle there is now to be free of fin,
but ftill it hangs about the believer. Sometimes he gets his feet on the neck of his lufts, but they rife up again upon him: therefore he is never in fafety to let down his watch, or to lay by the fword of the Spirit. The fpiritual bands are never quite off here; but then it will be faid, Loofe him and let him go. At death the faints fhall be free,
(1.) From all commiffion of fin, Rev. xxi. 27. In the carthly paradife fin was found, there Adam broke the whole law; but into the heavenly paradife no fia can enter. Not a vain thought fhall ever go through a believer's heart more; there fhall be no more temptation to fin, nor the leaft inclination to it.
(2.) From the very inbeing of fin. The body of death fhall go out with the death of the body, and then shall the defire be answered, Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Sin's reigning power is broken in fanctification; yet it fill abides as a trouble. fome gueft; but at death it is plucked up by the roots. It is like the houfe under the law infected with the leprofy, for the removal of which the ftones were carried away into an unclean place.
(3.) From a poffibility of finning, Rev. iii. 12. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he fhall go no more out. The firft man in paradife, yea the angels in heaven till they were confirmed, were but as reeds liable to be shaken with the wind of temptations, as the doleful event made appear. But by death putting an end to the believer's probationary life, he becomes a pillar in the temple of God, which can never more be moved.
2. In the arrival of their holinefs at the highest pitch they are capable of, Eph. iv. 13. Now every fincere foul has a perfection of holiness in refpect of the parts thereof; they are like little children who have all the parts of a man, but none of them grown to their utmoft pitch. But then they will have a perfection of degrees, anfwering to the holy law in all
points, like men who are come to their full growth. Sincerity fhall then be turned to legal perfection.
(1.) Their understandings fhall be perfectly illuminated, 1 Cor. xiii. 12. For now we fee through a glass darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. There shall then be no more complaints of weakness of knowledge in them who in their life were the weakest of all faints. There fhall not be the leaft remains of darkness there, but a full funshine shall be in them.
(2.) Their wills fhall be perfectly upright, fo that they fhall will nothing but what is good, and that without the leaft bias to the other fide, Rev. xxi. 27. A perfect conformity fhall then be betwixt God's will and theirs, without the leaft poffible jarring, 1 John
(3.) The executive faculty fhall then perfectly an fwer their will, readily and with all imaginable cafe and delight, Matth. vi. 10. Now the believer is often in the dark, he knows not what to do. Sometimes when he knows his duty, he has no will to it; there is a great averfion and backwardness that he has to ftrive with. Oftimes when he would fain do it, he cannot, Matth. xxvi. 41. The Spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. But then there fhall be no more fuch impotency; he will be able to do whatever he will, and will nothing but what is good.
Secondly, Immediate entering into glory. As Pharaoh's jailor opening the prifon-door to the butler, let him out into the court; fo death letting the foul out of the body, it goes to glory. Chrift faid to the thief on the cross, This day Jhalt thou be with me in paradife, Luke xxiii. 43. So death is to them the beginning of an immortal life; a ftrait entry by which they go out into the heavenly paradife; the fhip by which they are transported into Immanuel's land. Here confider,
1. The glory they enter into. They pafs after death into,