Page images

5. Most miserable will their case be, that shall be left to feel their own weight, Psal. xciy. ult. He shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off. Many see not their need of Christ and his righteousness now: but when that falls on them for their own sin, that fell on him for the sins of those he bare, they will find their punishment like Cain's greater than what they can bear. What the Cautioner was put to in paying the debt of sin, may fright every one with the thoughts of their answering for their own. 6. Lastly, Happy is the case of the justified, Psal. xxxii

. 1, They are secured as to their state, no more under wrath, Rom. viii. 1. Their eternal salvation is sure, and can never fail, Rom. viii. 30. They have got over the gulph of condemnation, and shall never fall therein. Whom God justifies now, he will not condemn hereafter.

Use II. Of trial. By what is said, ye may try your state, whether ye be justified or not. And ye have reason to put this matter to trial accurately and exactly, For,

1. One thing is sure, that every man is once under a sentence of condemnation, Eph. ii. 5. Gal. ii. 10. Now, what course have ye taken to get from under this ? and if ye

have been aiming at it, have ye carried your point, or not? No man is carried out of the state of condemnation in a morning dream; most men abide in the condemned state they were born in. O try it, whether ye be brought out of it or not.

2. As your state is in this life in point of justification, so it will be determined at death and the last day, Eccl. ix. 10. This life is the time of trial ; in the other, the judgment will pass upon men according to what they have been in this world. Now the door of mercy stands open for pardons ; but death being once come, there is no more access to a pardon. As the tree falls, it must lie.

3. Men are very apt to mistake their state in this matter. Many draw a pardon to themselves, that God will not set his seal to, and all it serves for is to blind their own eyes, Isa. xliv. 20. The foolish virgins dreamed very confidently of peace with God; but they met with a sad disappointment, They called themselves the friends of the Bridegroom, but he shut the door on them as on his enemies.

[ocr errors]

4. Lastly, A mistake in this point is very dangerous. It makes people let the time of obtaining a pardon slip, as fan.. cying they have it already. The foolish virgins might have got oil to their lamps, if they had seen their want of it, ere it was out of time. And thus it brings a ruining surprise, while people sleeping to death, in their dreams of peace, are awakened with the noise of war that God will have with them for ever and ever, without any more possibility of truce. Now, ye may try it by the following things.

1. Have ye been apprehended, sisted before God the Judge, and brought to a reckoning of your sins? No man gets

out his absolviture before the Lord, till he appear and answer to his libel. This is necessary to make the sinner flee to Christ; for this end the law was given, and for this end it is brought into the conscience, Gal. iii. 24. That state of sin which the soul never was made truly sensible of, does without doubt continue. They that never saw themselves in a state of condemnation are to this day under it. To what end should one have looked for healing to the brazen serpent, that were not stung with the fiery serpents? If the law has not had this effect on you to let you see your sin, and stopped your mouth before the Lord, ye are not come to Christ for justification. But if ye have seen your sin and state of condemnation by nature, and so have fled for mercy to Jesus Christ, then ye may conclude ye are justified.

2. I would ask you, Have ye been carried freely out of yourselves to Jesus Christ for righteousness, renouncing all other confidences in whole and in part, Phil. iii. 7, 8? There are many who, being convinced of sin, fall down and beg pardon, and hope for it upon their prayers, repentance, and reformation : but they never consider how the law shall be answered by a perfect righteousness. But the justified person sees, that there is no pardon to be got, without a righteousness that will satisfy the law, and that no work of his can do that ; therefore he lays hold on Christ for his righteousness, and pleads that for pardon. They unite with the Mediator by faith, and so he spreads his skirtover them. They get in under the covert of the Mediator's blood, and place their confidence there, believing that it is of sufficiency to shield them from wrath, and trusting upon his righteousness for that end, Phil. jii. 3. They continue not in mere suspense, James i. 6, 7. but so wrestle against doubting, as to cast

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

their anchor, and lay their weight for eternity, upon the righteousness of Christ,

3. The dominion and reigning power of sin is broken in the justified, Rom. vi. 14. Where the condemning power of sin, is removed, its reigning power is also taken away. If the condemned man get his remission, he is taken out of his irons, his prison, and the jailor's power; and so the pardoned sinner is no more taken captive by Satan at his will, 2 Tim. ii. ult. Will the liar lie on, the swearer swear on, the drunkard drink on, the formalist still hold on with his mere form of godliness, and hope that God has pardoned him? No; let no man deceive himself. Those chains of reigning lusts that are stiil rattling about thee, declare thee to be yet a condemned man, Rom. viii. 1, 2. Doubt ye not but if ye were justified, ye would be washed ? 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10, 11. To pretend to the pardon of sin which thou art still living and going on in, is practical blasphemy, as if Christ were the minister of sin; it is a turning the grace of God into li. centiousness, which will bring a heavy vengeance at length. But if the reigning power of sin, be broken in thee, thou art a justified man; it is a sign thou art healing, when the strength of the disease of sin is abating.

4. Habitual tenderness of conscience with respect to sin, temptations, and appearance of evil, is a good sign of a justified state, Acts xxiv. 16. Burnt bairns dread the fire; and the man who has brought himself under a sentence of death, if he escape he may be thought, he will beware of falling into the snare again, Isa. xxxviii. 17. compare ver. 15. Justified persons may fall into acts of untenderness many a time; but habitual untenderness is a black mark, when people habitual. ly and ordinarily take to themselves a sinful latitude in their thoughts, words, or actions. It is a sad sign that sin has never been made very bitter to them, when they can so easily go into it. It is easy to pretend to tenderness in opinions, and with respect to church-differences; but I would to God there appeared more tenderness among us in matters of morality, that there were more sobriety amongus, that people who have money to spare, would give it to the poor, and not lay it out in a way that God has so often visibly blasted, or spend it on their lusts; that men would not by their presence, or otherwise encourage penny-weddings (condemned both by the law of the land and the church,) these nurseries of profaneness, which have so often among us left a stink behind them in the nostrils of truly-tender persons, and before a holy God. I would recommend to you the apostle's general rule, Phil. iv. 8. “ Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

5. Lastly, The fruits of faith in a holy life. We are justified by faith without works; but that faith that justifies is always followed with good works, Acts xv. 9. If the curse be taken away, under which the soul remains barren, it will become fruitful in the fruits of the Spirit, Gal. v. 22, 23. Our faith justifies our persons as it receives Christ with his righteousness; but our faith must be justified by our works, i. e. it must be by our good works evidenced to be true faith. Therefore the apostle James disputes against that faith that is without works, shewing it to be no true justifyingfaith, James ü. 17, 18. There is a difference betwixt justification and sanctification, but they are inseparable companions. And no man can evidence his justification without the fruits of holiness. Examine yourselves by these things, what state ye are in before God.

Use III. Of exhortation. This I shall address both to sinners and saints.

First, To sinners yet in the state of sin and wrath. Here is good news of pardon and acceptance with God for you. I would exhort you to be concerned to get out of the state of wrath and condemnation ; and while God is sitting on a throne of grace, do not slip the opportunity, but sue out your absolviture from before the Lord in his own way. Take no rest till ye be justified before God through Christ. To make way for this exhortation, I will lay before you the following motives.

Mot. 1. While you are out of a justified state, a sentence of condemnation stands against thee in the court of heaven, and thou knowest not how soon it may be executed, Gal. iii. 10. John iii. 18. and ult. If thou wert under a sentence of death by the laws of men, wouldst thou not bestir thyself for a pardon, if there were any hope? But, poor soul, thou art under a sentence of eternal death; and yet thou livest ac ease. God's law has condemned thee as a malefactor, his

truth confirms the sentence, and justice craves execution. All things are ready for it, Psal. vii. 12, 13. When thou liest down, thou hast no security that it shall not be executed ere thou arise; and when thou goest out, thou hast no security that it shall not be executed ere thou come in. Only longsuffering procures thee a reprieve one day after another, to see if thou wilt sue out a pardon. But as secure as thou art the sword of justice hangs over thy head by the hair of longtired patience; and if that break, thou art a dead man.

Mot. 2. A pardon and acceptance with God is not so easily obtained as people generally think. God gives pardon freely, yet none come by it lightly. They that get it, get it so as they are taught to prize the mercy, Mic. vii. 18. They that know not the evil of sin, nor the holy just nature of God, and that were never pressed with the sense of

unpardoned guilt, think it a very easy thing to get a pardon, as if there were no more but to ask it and receive, But I would have you to consider,

(1.) The justifying and pardoning of a sinner is one of the greatest works of God. It is a greater work than to make a world. God had no more ado but to say, in the creation, “Let there be light, &c. and there was. But when sinners were to be absolved, justice stands up for satisfaction. The truth of God for the honour of a broken law, wisdom is set awork to find out a way how pardoning mercy may get a vent; and for that cause the Son of God pays down the price of blood to buy the absolviture. If God could have absolved the sinner from guilt and punishment by a bare word, how would he have passed by that easy way, and fetched a compass by the blood of his own Son ? John jii. 16.

And after all it is a work of power to be exercised according to the greatness of mercy, Num. xiv. 17, 19.

(2.) Sin is the greatest of evils, no wonder it be hard to take it away. It is of all things most contrary to the holy nature of God, Hab. i. 13. When thou goest on in thy sin, thou art engaged against all the attributes of God. It is a daring of his justice, an invading of his sovereignty, a defying of his power, an abusing of his patience, and a despising of his love, mercy, and goodness. It contradicts his will; thereby the potsherds strive against their Maker, and lusts are set up against his holy law. It robs him of the glory due to him from his creatures, and turns to his dishonour.' When

« PreviousContinue »