« السابقةمتابعة »
this title. 1 Cor. 6. 19, 20. "You are not your own, ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your bodies, and in your spirits, which are God's." Mankind was fallen from the glory of God, and was brought to a state of servile bondage to sin, and was under the curse of the law. Now though this could not defeat God of his right, this sin of man could not alienate man from God; God's title was still entire, notwithstanding; yet nevertheless man was brought into such a state, that he was incapable to serve God. Then he was pleased to appoint the life of his Son to be a sacrifice to redeem mankind from the curse of the law, and to reconcile himself to them, and free them from the bondage of sin. And this is a title that cost him more dear than the creating of the whole world; for that was effected by his word; "he spake, and it was done," saith the psalmist; but it was not so in the redemption of man, that had sold himself to sin, and was under the heavy sentence of the law: he was put to the expence of that which was the richest treasure, the precious blood of the Son of God. And thus God hath a special people upon the account of election and special redemption.
(3.) The third title God hath to his people, is from renovation, the restoring of them to his own image, and the renewing of their natures, and giving to them heavenly endowments, preparing them for his service and glory. So you shall find the apostle tells them, Eph. 2. 10. "for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works; which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." So that as a man hath a right to the house which he builds, and he is truly the owner of it that finds the materials, and frames and raiseth the building; so God is the owner of his people; they are his living and spiritual temple, raised and framed for his praise, they are his workmanship. As in nature God is obeyed by every rank of creatures in those actions which are congruous, and suitable to those principles of operation which he hath put into them. As when the sun runs its course, and the stars keep their regular motion, and the flux and reflux of the sea obey God, and all the creatures observe that order that he hath appointed, and act according to their several principles of operation. Thus it is with the sensitive world; and so it is likewise with the people of God, that have a new nature communicated to them, they
are furnished with heavenly qualities to serve God, and to glorify and enjoy him.
Thus I have gone over three things that evidence God's propriety in his people; and could you bring it down to yourselves, it would be of use to you. Election is an object too high for us to see immediately; we cannot look into the rolls of eternity; but election makes itself evident, and declares itself in our sanctification for sanctification is, as it were, a temporal election; for God chooseth a person when he makes him holy, and separates him from the rest of the world: Psal. 100. 3. "We are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." You must understand it in a political sense: God is our governor, and we must obey him; you know flocks of sheep have marks upon them, that separate and distinguish them from other sheep; so the saints have God's mark upon them. Holiness to the Lord is a visible stamp, whereby they are distinguished from the world; whereby it is clear and evident, that he prepares them for his rest above.
ii. On our part, being of the number of the people of God, includes these things: our unfeigned consent to be his people. When the soul is absolutely and entirely brought to close with the right of God, and to confirm his right in us, and to acknowledge it, and to accept of it cordially and sincerely; then we come to be in the number of God's people. You find an expression which is directly to this purpose: Psał. 110. 3. “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power." Willing to what? Willing to acknowledge the sovereignty of God and Christ, and to yield up themselves to it. In the day of thy power? That is, when the grace of God, which hath omnipotency going along with it, shall work upon the heart, and make it willing to own and acknowledge God in this. There are none but will acknowledge God in profession and words that they are his but the greatest part of the world keep the crown upon the devil's head; they are his servants, and yield him the throne of their hearts, and he reigns in them: but those that are the people of God, they do with their hearts acknowledge his right and title to them, and do most desirously close with him. In short; as God takes them to be his people, so do they joyfully and pleasantly yield up themselves to be his servants, and take him to be their sovereign if it be offered to their choice, they infinitely prefer him and his government above all others. This, as to our believing
sense, is the foundation of our relation to God. His election and choice is a thing without us, and above us; and it discovers itself by the effects; until we be made a willing people, we can never discover that he is our King and Lord, and will reward us with eternal life. That you may not, deceive yourselves with a vain pretence of being God's people; they that are the people of God, will own him for their King, and be subject to his laws, and subject to them all, without exception. If there be any duty, God commands you as a king, and from that title, and if there be any niceness or aversion in your breasts against it, and you would fain have your obligation to that duty dissolved, you are none of God's people; for the reserving of one sin, and the exception of one duty, will make you in a state of rebellion and enmity against God. Where ever this is, it will make a person incapable of this rest: though the gospel makes an allowance for failings, and infirmities, and relapses; yet there is no chancery in the gospel for any person that retains any sin, and that hath a prevailing exception in his heart against any command: if you think there is, you build your hopes upon a fancy. The gospel requires sincerity; and the very essence of sincerity lies in this, that I endeavour entirely to comply with all God's will. I may be surprised into a sin against God; I may by a sudden temptation break a command; but if there be not a sincere endeavour to comply with all the will of God, such a person is God's enemy, and never to be received in his kingdom. The subjection must be entire and sincere; "Then shall I not be ashamed" (saith the psalmist, Psal. 119. 6.) "when I have respect to all thy commandments:" that is, his hope shall not be disappointed at last, so as to expose him to everlasting shame.
There must be a persevering and a constant subjection. Rom. 2. 7. "To them who by patient continuance in well-doing," whatsoever it cost you, whatsoever difficulty or hazard you are exposed to, whatsoever you lose. If you do not persevere in well-doing, you can plead nothing from gospel-promises, to this rest. Rev. 2. 10. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Were it possible for a man to go on in a course of holiness to the last day of his life, and he should then break off his course, if he should meet with a temptation so grateful or terrible as to make him leave off his obedience to God, he could have no comfortable hope of heaven: "For he only that endu
reth to the end shall be saved." And here it is observable, the scripture tells us, though a man hath lived in a course of disobedience and opposition to God many years, if he turn to God at last, and persevere in that return he shall go to heaven: but if he hath lived an hundred years in obedience and at last fall off he shall perish for ever. And we find a resemblance of this in the justice of men. Suppose a person hath done never so worthily for a king and kingdom, if afterwards he turn rebel, he may justly be cut off for his rebellion. So if a person fall off from God; all his former righteousness shall be forgotten; for this rest remaineth only for those that are the persevering people of God.
Heaven the place of this rest. It is stable, and vastly large; very glorious, and pleasant.
II. I Come now to speak of the place of this rest. It is enjoyed in that kingdom that is unshaken above. You shall find an expression of the apostle very fit to my purpose: Heb. 12. 28. "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken or moved." It is a proper place for this rest I am speaking of. The kingdoms of this world are not more properly compared to any thing, than the sea, which is always voluble and inconstant, and sometimes so violent, that he which expects rest there, must contradict both reason and sense. This world is a seat of change and mutability: but the kingdom above is most aptly resembled by a sea of glass, Rev. 15. 2. “I saw as if it were a sea of glass." There is no unquiet agitation in a sea of glass, no disturbance there. The kingdom of heaven is God's sanctuary, where the God of peace reigns. It is said in the book of Job,
Job 25. 2. "He makes peace in his high places." Indeed once there was a disturbance in heaven; when the angels fell; but that disturbance did not continue, they were presently expelled from their first habitation; that is the region of peace.
It is an expression of Seneca, as a piece of poetical bravery, Animus sapientis est sicut locus supra lunam, semper illic serenum est: the heart of a wise man is like the place above the moon, all is serene and calm there.
The lower region is charged with clouds and thunder, which encounter one another, and make disturbance: but the true rest is heaven, the celestial paradise above, the New Jerusalem, God hath fitted and prepared that place for the rest of his people. Although it is but little that we can speak of the glory of that place, I can raise your thoughts of it a little, by one consideration which I find in the prophet Isaiah, chap. 6. When the seraphims were praising God, one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts; the whole world is full of his glory." That which I apply it for, is this, this lower world, that is this earth, is full of the glory of God; the earth, which God hath made the receptacle of birds and beasts. If the earth that is the wilderness of God's people, and which his enemies enjoy, is full of the glory of God, pray raise your thoughts by this consideration:
What is heaven then, and the glory of God's sanctuary above? How do all his perfections shine there.
If the "earth be full of the glory of the Lord," do not doubt but the glory of that place doth contribute to the blessedness of this rest. Look upon the aspectible heavens, all those great luminaries, sun, moon, and stars, they are but the frontispiece of heaven now this is the rest of the people of God. We cannot now conceive what is the glory of that rest. The scripture saith something to us of the place of our future happiness; it would be a proud curiosity to make such inquiries into it as we have no foundation for in the word of God: but there are several things the Holy Spirit in the scripture reveals to us concerning it: all which will serve to enlarge our apprehensions concerning that rest and blessedness we shall enjoy in heaven. There are four which I shall briefly touch upon, and then proceed.
1. The stability of that place, the security of it. It is called, Heb. 11. 10. "A city that hath foundations." There the apos