« PreviousContinue »
to seek it. Be frequent in self-examination, cry to the Lord for the witness of his Spirit. Believe the word, and be habitually tender in your walk, if ever ye would have assurance, Psal. v. ult.
II. OF PEACE OF CONSCIENCE.
• Peace of conscience is a benefit flowing from justifica
Here I shall shew,
I. I am to shew what peace of conscience is. It is a blessed inward calmness and consolation arising from the purging of the conscience from guilt before the Lord, in which description, observe these two things.
1. The subject of this peace. It is a purged conscience, Heb. ix. 14. Peace and purity go together, and make a good conscience, 1 Tim. i. 5. That peace which is joined with impurity, in an unpurged conscience, is but carnal security, peace in a dream, which will end in a fearful surprise. Now, there are two things necessary to the purging of conscience.
(1.) Removal of guilt, in pardon thereof, which brings the sinner into a state of peace with God, Psalm xxxii. 1. Guilt, felt or unfelt, is a band on the soul binding it over to God's wrath ; it is a disease in the conscience, which will make it a sick conscience at length. But a pardon takes away guilt, looses the band, removes the deadly force of the disease, and lays a foundation for carrying off the sickness, Isa. xxxiii. ult.
(2.) Removal of the conscience of guilt, in the sense of pardon, Heb. X. 2. Though a malefactor's pardon be passed the seals, and he is secured from death, yet till he know it he cannot have peace. So the pardoned sinner, who knows not his mercy, though he has peace with God, yet wants
peace of conscience, Psalm li. 8. So the conscience is purged, when the sting of felt guilt is drawn out of it.
2. The parts of this peace. These are two. (1.) An inward calm of the soul, and quietness of the mind, wherein it is not disturbed with the fears of God's wrath, nor frighted with the judgments which its sins do in themselves deserve, Prov. i. 33. A troubled conscience is full of fears, of terrible forebodings, and of torments, 1 John iv. 18. When peace enters the conscience, the mist clears up, the fears are scattered, and the conscience has a serenity and quiet within itself. (2.) Consolation and comfort of heart, 2 Cor. i. 12. Isa
. lvii. 19. Peace of conscience is not a mere negative, or indisturbance, which sloth and negligence of soul-matters may procure to the unpardoned: but it is an active cheerfulness of spirit, in the soul's looking up towards God, and reflecting how matters stand betwixt heaven and it, Col. iii. 15.
Conceive the whole thus : Sin entering into the soul, casts the conscience into a fever, and guilt makes the rage of it
. The great Physician gives the proper remedy: and so the conscience gets a cool, the sickness is removed, and the man gathers health, strength, and soundness, Job xxxiii. 22—26. Heb. ix. 14.
II. I shall shew the excellency of it. It is Abraham's bosom on this side of heaven, the lower paradise ; it is like the shore to the shipwrecked soul; and life from the dead. I will only say three things of it.
1. It is the wine-press of the grapes of heaven, that squeezeth out into the man's mouth
the sap of the covenant, Psal. cxix. 102, 103. It was a sad tale of the good Asaph's, Psal. lxxvii. 3. I remembered God, and was troubled! I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed.' Peace of conscience makes a man remember God, and be comforted; to suck the sap of promises, and all the declarations of God's love and favour in his word, as the same Asaph did, Psalm lxxiii. 24, 25, 26.
2. It is sap and poison to all earthly comforts, Prov. xv. 15. A sick man can take no pleasure in the comforts of life
, as a healthy man does. An uneasy conscience sucks the sap out of all. But peace there, makes coarse fare, and little of it, very sweet, Prov. xvii. 1. And whatever a man has, it puts an additional sweetness in it,
3. It is sweet sauce to all afflictions, 2 Cor. i. 12. John xvi. 33. When there is no peace within, little thing makes people fretful : even a scratch of a pin is a wound with a sword. But this makes a man easy in the middle of the little annoyances of the world, though they be great in them. selves, Col. iii. 15. Phil. iv. 7. Compare Heb. X. 34. When a man meets with disquietments and vexations abroad, he is helped to bear all, when he is comforted and cheered coming into his own house. But heavy is their case, who come from bitterness abroad, and are met with bitterness at home. The former is an emblem of peace of conscience, the latter an emblem of the soul in afflictions.
III. I am to shew how this peace of conscience is obtained. This peace is peculiar to the saints. Others may have false peace, Luke xi. 21. but they only have, or can have, true peace, Rom. v. 1.
1. It is obtained for them by Jesus Christ dying and suffering to procure it, Isa. liii. 5. Eph. ii. 14. There can be none of this peace without reconciliation with God, and there could be no reconciliation without his blood. The convinced sinners could have had no more inward peace than devils have, if Christ had not died to procure it; but their wound had been incurable, and stood open and gaping
2. It is obtained by them, by these two methods.
(1.) By a believing application of the blood of Christ, Rom. xv. 13. Job xxxiii. 23, &c. This is the only medicine that can draw the thorn of guilt out of the conscience, and heal its wounds, 1 Johnı. 7. Medicines prepared by men may cure bodily distempers, and a vitiated fancy, or disordered imagination, among other things. Confessing, mourning, reforming, watching, &c. may give a palliative cure even to the conscience, scurfing over its sores. But Bothing but a believing application of Christ's blood will give true peace of conscience; and do what ye will, if ye do not that, ye will never get true peace, Isa. vii. 9.
(2.) By God's speaking peace thereupon to the soul, Isa. lvii. 19. The soul resting on Christ-by faith, brings it into a state of peace with God; but for peace of conscience, more is required, namely, a sense of that peace. And this none but God can give, Psal. li. 8. He speaks peace in the word; bụt a work of the Spirit on the conscience is necessary to make the application, as appears from 2 Sam. xii
. 13. compared with Psal. li. And this is a light struck up in the soul, discovering the soul to be at peace with God, an overpowering light that silences doubts and fears, and creates a blessed calm. This also is obtained in the
of believing, in the reflex act of faith.
IV. I shall shew how this peace is maintained. The apostle tells us it was his exercise to maintain it, Acts xxiv. 16. And if we be not exercised in it, it will soon be lost. Now, it is maintained by,
1. Keeping up a firm and settled purpose of heart to follow the way of duty, and to stand aloof from sin, cost what it will, Acts xi. 23. David kept up
peace Psalm xvii. 3. This is the breast-plate of righteousness
, Eph. vi. 14. the which if it fall by, one may quickly be wounded to the heart. Unsettledness of heart, one's being at every turn unresolved what to do, cannot miss to leave him in the mire.
2. Living a life of dependence on the Lord, for light and life, direction and through-bearing, Prov. iii. 6. Gal ii. 20. And this will keep a man from presumption, and doing any thing with a doubting conscience, which will soon mar
3. Watchfulness against sin, snares and temptations, 1 Cor. x. 12. One that would maintain his peace, must be upon his guard, otherwise it will soon be disturbed, in this evil world.
4. A strict, holy, gospel-walk, in all known duties, towards God and towards man, Gal. vi. 16. He that will adventure to balk any of them, shall soon lose it.
5. Lastly, Frequent renewing of our faith and repentance, for purging away the sins we fall into, 1 Pet. ii. 4.
v. I proceed to shew how peace of conscience is distinguished from false peace. A godly man may have a false peace, Cant. v. 2. Such had David before Nathan came to him after his fall. An unregenerate man can have no peace but what is false, Isa. lvii. ult.
1. True peace, built on the ground of God's word, is established by the word, however searching; the other is weakened by it. For God's word is a friend to God's peace, but an enemy to delusion, 1 John iii. 20, 21. But this is meant of God's word rightly understood, (if we misunder
stand it, it is not his word, but our own mistake); and
2. True peace cannot be maintained but by a holy ten-
is maintained without it, I John iii. 3.
Inf. 1. The unconverted sinner, and the untender Chris. tian ton, are in a very unfit case for a time of common calamity, Isa. lvii. 20, 21. Matth. xxv. 5. Only the man that has peace of conscience is prepared, Isa. xxxiii. 14, 15.
2, Let all who would have their consciences to be their friends, flee to the blood of Christ, and lead a holy life.
3. Lastly, Let those that want it, labour to get it; and they that have it, be exercised to keep it.
III. OF JOY IN THE HOLY GHOST.
' Spiritual joy, or joy in the Holy Ghost, is a benefit
flowing from justification.' Now, to shew first of all what spiritual joy is : Joy in general is a pleasing passion, arising from the enjoyment, or hope of the enjoyment of a desired object. Spiritual joy iş a joy arising from the enjoyment, and hope of the enjoyment of spiritual blessings.
Here I shall shew,
II. The objects of it, or what they joy in.
V. The means the Spirit makes use of to convey it into the hearts of the saints.
VI. The difference betwixt it and the hypocrite's joy.
1. I shall consider the subjects of this joy, who they are that partake of it.
1. It is peculiar to the saints; for they only are blessed with spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus, and no others can have true spiritual joy, Phil. iii.. 3. Any body may have a sensitive joy, viz. in things grateful to their senses, Acts xiv. 17. Profane men may have a sinful joy, a joy in sin, Prov,