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is as the apple tree among the trees of the wood, and sits down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit is sweet unto his taste, Cant. ï. 2. And thus is that saying of Christ fulfilled, John iv. 14,“ Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst." And besides, true grace naturally tends to peace and quietness, as it settles things in the soul in their due order, sets reason on the throne, and subjects the senses and affections to its government, which before were uppermost, and put all things into confusion and uproar in the soul. Grace tends to tranquillity, as it mortifies tumultuous desires and passions, subdues the eager and insatiable appetites of the sensual nature and greediness after the vanities of the world. It mortifies such principles as hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, envyings, and the like, which are a continual source of inward uneasiness and perturbation ; and supplies those sweet, calming, and quieting principles of humility, meekness resignation, patience, gentleness, forgiveness, and sweet reliance on God. It also tends to peace, as it fixes the aim of the soul to a certain end; so that the soul is no longer distracted and drawn contrariwise by opposite ends to be sought, and opposite portions to be obtained, and many masters of contrary wills and commands to be served; but the heart is fixed in the choice of one certain, sufficient, and unfailing good; and the soul's aim at this, and hope of it, is like an anchor to it, that keeps it steadfast, that it should no more be driven to and fro by every wind.
2. This peace which Christ has left as a legacy to his true followers, is his peace. It is the peace which bimself enjoys. This is what I take to be that which is principally intended in the expression. It is the peace that he enjoyed while on earth, in his state of humiliation : though he was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and was everywhere hated and persecuted:by men and devils, and had no place of rest in this world; yet in God his Father, he had peace. We read of his rejoicing in spirit, Luke x. 21. So Christ's true disciples, though in the world they have tribulation, yet in God have peace.
When Christ had finished his labors and sufferings, and rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, then he entered into his rest, and into a state of most blessed, perfect, and everlasting peace : delivered by his own sufferings from our imputed guilt, acquitted and justified of the Father on his resurrection; having obtained a perfect victory over all his enemies; was received of his Father into beaven, the rest which he had prepared for him, there to enjoy his heart's desire fully and perfectly to all eternity. And then were those words in the first six verses of the 21st Psalm, which have respect to Christ, fulfilled. This peace and rest of the Messiah is doubtless exceeding glorious. Isai. xi. 10, “And his rest shall be glorious.” This rest is what Christ has procured, not only for himself, but also his people, by his death ; and has bequeathed it to them, that they may enjoy it with him, imperfectly in this world, and perfectly and eternally in another world.
That peace, which has been described, which believers enjoy, is a participation of the peace which their glorious Lord and Master himself enjoys, by virtue of the same blood of Christ, by which Christ himself has entered into rest; it is in a participation of this same justification ; for believers are justified with Christ. As he was justified when he rose from the dead, and as he was made free from our guilt, which he had as our surety, so believers are justified in him and through him. It is as being accepted of God in the same righteous ness: it is in the favor of the same God and heavenly Father that they enjoy peace. “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." It is in a participation of the same spirit; for believers have the spirit of Christ. He had the Spirit given to him not by measure, and of his fulness do they all VOL. IV.
receive, and grace for grace. As ihe oil, poured on the head of Aaron, went down to the skirts of his garments, so the Spirit poured on Christ, the head, descends to all his members. It is partaking of the same grace of the Spirit that believers enjoy this peace, John i. 16.
It is as being united to Christ, and living by a participation of his life, as a branch lives by the life of the vine. It is as partaking of the same love of God. John xvii. 26, “ That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them.” It is as having a part with him in his victory over the same enemies: and also as having an interest in the same kind of eternal rest and peace. Eph. ii. 5, 6, “ Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ-and hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in heavenly places.”
III. This legacy of Christ to his true disciples is very diverse from all that the men of this world ever leave to their children when they die. The men of this world, many of them, when they come to die, have great estates to bequeath to their children, an abundance of the good things of this world, large tracts of ground, perhaps in a fruitful soil, covered with flocks and herds. They sometimes leave to their children stately mansions, and vast treasures of silver, gold, jewels, and precious things, fetched from both the Indies, and from every side of the globe of the earth. They leave them wherewith to live in much state and magnificence, and make a great show among men, to fare very sumptuously, and swim in worldly pleasures. Some have crowns, sceptres, and palaces, and great monarchies to leave to their heirs. But none of these things are to be compared to that blessed peace of Christ which he has bequeathed to his true followers. These things are such as God commonly, in his providence, gives his worst enemies, those whom he hates and despises most. But Christ's peace is a precious benefit, which he reserves for his peculiar favorites. These worldly things, even the best of them, that the men and princes of the world leave for their children, are things which God in his providence throws out to those whom he looks on as dogs; but Christ's peace is the bread of his children. All these earthly things are but empty shadows, which, however men set their hearts upon them, are not bread, and can never satisfy their souls; but this peace of Christ is a truly substantial, satisfying food, Isai. lv. 2. None of those things, if men have them to the best advantage, and in ever so great abundance, can give true peace and rest to the soul, as is abundantly manifest not only in reason, but experience; it being found in all ages, that those who have the most of them, have commonly the least quietness of mind. It is true, there may be a kind of quietness, a false peace they may have in their enjoyment of worldly things; men may bless their souls, and think themselves the only happy persons, and despise others; may say to their souls, as the rich man did, Luke xü. 19, “ Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.” But Christ's peace, which he gives to his true disciples, vastly differs from this peace that men may have in the enjoyments of the world, in the following respects :
1. Christ's peace is a reasonable peace and rest of soul; it is what has its foundation in light and knowledge, in the proper exercises of reason, and a right view of things; whereas the peace of the world is founded in blindness and delusion. The peace that the people of Christ have, arises from their hav. ing their eyes open, and seeing things as they be. The more they consider, and the more they know of the truth and reality of things, the more they know what is true concerning themselves, the state and condition they are in; the more they know of God, and the more certain they are that there is a God, and the more they know what manner of being he is, the more certain they are of an
other world and future judgment, and of the truth of God's threatenings and promises; the more their consciences are awakened and enlightened, and the brighter and the more searching the light is that they see things in, the more is their peace established: whereas, on the contrary, the peace that the men of the world have in their worldly enjoyments can subsist no otherwise than by their being kept in ignorance. They must be blindfolded and deceived, otherwise they can have no peace: do but let light in upon their consciences, so that they may look about them and see what they are, and what circumstances they are in, and it will at once destroy all their quietness and comfort. Their peace can live nowhere but in the dark. Light turns their ease into torment. The more they know what is true concerning God and concerning themselves, the more they are sensible of the truth concerning those enjoyments which they possess; and the more they are sensible what things now are, and what things are like to be hereafter, the more will their calm be turned into a storm. The worldly man's peace cannot be maintained but by avoiding consideration and reflection. If he allows himself to think, and properly to exercise his reason, it destroys his quietness and comfort. If he would establish his carnal peace, it concerns him to put out the light of his mind, and turn beast as fast as he can. The faculty of reason, if at liberty, proves a mortal enemy to his peace. It concerns him, if he would keep alive his peace, to contrive all ways that may be, to stupify his mind and deceive himself, and to imagine things to be otherwise than they be. But with respect to the peace which Christ gives, reason is its great friend. The more this faculty is exercised, the more it is established. The more they consider and view things with truth and exactness, the firmer is their comfort, and the higher their joy. How vast a difference is there between the peace of a Christian and the worldling! How miserable are they who cannot enjoy peace any otherwise than by hiding their eyes from the light, and confining themselves to darkness; whose peace is properly stupidity, as the ease that a man has who has taken a dose of stupifying poison, and the ease and pleasure that a drunkard may have in a house on fire over his head, or the joy of a distracted man in thinking that he is a king, though a miserable wretch confined in bedlam : whereas, the peace which Christ gives his true disciples, is the light of life, something of the tranquillity of heaven, the peace of the celestial paradise, that has the glory of God to lighten it.
2. Christ's peace is a virtuous and holy peace. The peace that the men of the world enjoy is vicious; it is a vile stupidity, that depraves and debases the mind, and makes men brutish. But the peace that the saints enjoy in Christ, is not only their comfort, but it is a part of their beauty and dignity. The Christian tranquillity, rest, and joy of real saints are not only unspeakable privileges, but they are virtues and graces of God's Spirit, wherein the image of God in them does partly consist. This peace bas its source in those principles that are in the highest degree virtuous and amiable, such as poverty of spirit
, holy resignation, trust in God, divine love, meekness, and charity; the exercise of such blessed fruits of the Spirit as are spoken of, Gal. 22, 23.
3. This peace greatly differs from that which is enjoyed by the men of the world, with regard to its exquisite sweetness. It is a peace that passes all that natural men enjoy in worldly things so much, that it passes their understanding and conception, Phil. iv. 7. It is exquisitely sweet, because it has so firm à foundation as the everlasting rock that never can be moved. It is sweet, because perfectly agreeable to reason. It is sweet, because it rises from holy and divine principles, that as they are the virtue, so they are the proper happiness of men.
It is exquisitely sweet, because of the greatness of the objective good that
the saints enjoy, and have peace and rest in, being no other than the infinite bounty and fulness of that God who is the fountain of all good. It is sweet, on account of the fulness and perfection of that provision that is made for it in Christ and the new covenant, where there is a foundation laid for the saints perfect peace; and hereafter they shall actually enjoy perfect peace; and though their peace is not now perfect, it is not owing to any defect in the provision made, but in their own imperfection and misery, sin and darkness; and because as yet they do partly cleave to the world and seek peace from thence, and do not perfectly cleave to Christ. But the more they do so, and the more they see of the provision there is made, and accept of it, and cleave to that alone, the nearer are they brought to perfect tranquillity, Isaiah xxvi. 5.
4. The peace of the Christian infinitely differs from that of the worldling, in that it is unfailing and eternal peace. That peace which carnal men have in the things of the world, is, according to the foundation that it is built upon, of short continuance; like the comfort of a dream, 1 John ii. 17, 1 Cor. vü. 31. These things, the best and most durable of them, are like bubbles on the face of the water; they vanish in a moment, Hos. x. 7.
But the foundation of the Christian's peace is everlasting ; it is what no time, no change, can destroy. It will remain when the body dies; it will remain when the mountains depart and the hills shall be removed, and when the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll. The fountain of his comfort shall never be diminished, and the stream shall never be dried. His comfort and joy is a living spring in the soul, a well of water springing up to everlasting life.
APPLICATION. The use that I would make of this doctrine, is to improve it, as an inducement unto all to forsake the world, no longer seeking peace and rest in its vanities, and to cleave to Christ and follow him. Happiness and rest are what all men are in pursuit of. But the things of the world, wherein most men seek it, can never afford it; they are laboring and spending themselves in rain. But Christ invites you to come to him, and offers you this peace which he gives his true followers, that so much excels all that the world can afford, Isa. lv. 2, 3.
You that have hitherto spent your time in the pursuit of satisfaction and peace in the profit and glory of the world, or in the pleasures and vanities of youth, have this day an offer made to you of that excellent and everlasting peace and blessedness, which Christ has purchased with the price of his own blood, and bestows only on those that are his peculiar favorites, his redeemed ones, that are his portion and treasure, the objects of his everlasting love. As long as you continue to reject those offers and invitations of Christ, and continue in a Christless condition, you never will enjoy any true peace or comfort; but in whatever circumstances you are, you will be miserable; you will be like the prodigal, that in vain endeavored to fill his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: the wrath of God will abide upon, and misery will attend you wherever you go, which you never will, by any means, be able to escape. Christ gives peace to the most sinful and miserable that come to him. He heals the broken in heart and bindeth up their wounds. But it is impossible that they should have peace, that continue in their sins, Isa. lvii
. 19–21. There is no peace between God and them; as they have the guilt of sin remaining in their souls
, and are under the dominion of sin, so God's indignation continually burns against them, and therefore there is reason why they should travail in pain all their days.
While you continue in such a state, you live in a state of dreadful uncertainty what will become of you, and in continual ganger. When you are in the
enjoyment of things that are the most pleasing to you, where your heart is best suited, and most cheerful, yet you are in a state of condemnation, hanging over the infernal pit, with the sword of divine vengeance hanging over your head, having no security one moment from utter and remediless destruction. What reasonable peace can any one enjoy in such a state as this. What does it signify to take such a one and clothe him in gorgeous apparel, or to set him on a throne, or at a prince's table, and feed him with the rarest dainties the earth affords? And how miserable is the ease and cheerfulness that such have! What a poor kind of comfort and joy is it that such take in their wealth and pleasures for a moment, while they are the prisoners of divine justice, and wretched captives of the devil, and have none to befriend them or defend them, being without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world!
I invite you now to a better portion. There are better things provided for the sinful miserable children of men. There is a surer comfort and more durable peace : comfort that you may enjoy in a state of safety and on a sure foundation : a peace and rest that you may enjoy with reason and with your eyes open ; having all your sins forgiven, your greatest and most aggravated transgressions blotted out as a cloud, and buried as in the depths of the sea, that they may never be found more; and being not only forgiven, but accepted to favor; being the objects of God's complacence and delight; being taken into God's
family and made his children ; and having good evidence that your names were : written on the heart of Christ before the world was made, and that you have
an interest in that covenant of grace that is well ordered in all things and sure; wherein is promised no less than life and immortality, an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, a crown of glory that fades not away; being in such circumstances, that nothing shall be able to prevent your being happy to all eternity;
having for the foundation of your hope, that love of God which is from eter: nity unto eternity; and his promise and oath, and his omnipotent power, things
infinitely firmer than mountains of brass. The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, yea, the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, yet these things will never be abolished.
In such a state as this you will have a foundation of peace and rest through all changes, and in times of the greatest uproar and outward calamity be defended from all storms, and dwell above the floods, Psalm xxxii. 6, 7; and you shall be at peace with every thing, and God will make all his creatures throughout all parts of his dominion, to befriend you, Job v. 19, 24. You need not be afraid of any thing that your enemies can do unto you, Psalm iii. 5, 6. Those things that now are most terrible to you, viz., death, judgment, and eternity, will then be most comfortable, the most sweet and pleasant objects of your contemplation, at least there will be reason that they should be so. Hearken therefore to the friendly counsel that is given you this day, turn your feet into the way of peace, forsake the foolish and live ; forsake those things which are no other than the devil's baits, and seek after this excellent peace and rest of Jesus Christ, that peace of God which passes all understanding. Taste and see; never was any disappointed that made a trial, Prov. xxiv. 13, 14. You will not only find those spiritual comforts that Christ offers you to be of a surpassing sweetness for the present, but they will be to your soul as the dawning light that shines more and more to the perfect day; and the issue of all will be your arrival in heaven, that land of rest, those regions of everlasting joy, where your peace and happiness will be perfect, without the least mixture of trouble or affliction, and never be interrupted nor have an end.