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Of Grace, as it reigns in our SANCTIFICATION.
HAVING treated upon that relative change which takes place in the state of God's people in justification and adoption, I now proceed to consider that real change which is begun in sanctification, and made perfect in glory. This real change is absolutely necessary. For though Christ is proclaimed in the gospel as entirely free for the sinner, and though we are considered as ungodly, when the obedience of the righteous Jesus is imputed to us for our justification before God; yet, before we can enter the mansions of immortal purity, we must be sanctified. Christ, indeed, finds his people entirely destitute of holiness, and of every desire after it but he does not leave them in that state. He produces in them a sincere love to God, and real pleasure in his ways. Hence they are called an holy nation. As holiness is the health of the soul, and the beauty of a rational nature--as it is the brightest ornament of the church of God, and essential to true blessedness-so it must by no means be overlooked in a treatise on reigning grace, for we may assure ourselves that grace reigns in it.
The vast importance of sanctification, and the rank it holds in the economy of grace, appear from hence : It is the end of our eternal election*-a capital promise, and a distinguished blessing of the covenant of gracet-a precious fruit of redemption by the blood of Jesus-the design of God in our regeneration§the primary intention of justification ||-the scope of
*Eph. i. 4. 2 Thess. ii. 13.
Jer. xxxi. 33. Heb. viii. 10. Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27.
Eph. v. 25, 26, 27.
x. 10. and xiii. 12.
John xvii. 19.
Tit. ii. 14. Heb. ix. 14.
§ 1 Pet. i. 22, 23. 1 Thess. iv. 7. 1 Pet. i. 15, 16.
Psal. cxxx. 4.
Rom. vi. 1, 2.
adoption*—and absolutely necessary to glorification.† So that, in the sanctification of a sinner, the great designs of all the divine operations respecting that most glorious of all works, redemption, are united.‡
Sanctification, therefore, may be justly denominated a part, a capital part, of our salvation, and is much more properly so termed than a condition of it. For to be delivered from that bondage to sin and Satan under which we all naturally lie, and to be renewed after the image of God, must certainly be esteemed a great deliverance and a valuable blessing; and in the enjoyment of that deliverance, and the participation of this blessing, consists the very essence of sanctification. Hence the word is used to signify that work of divine power and divine grace, by which they who are called and justified, are renewed after the image of the blessed God. The effect of this glorious work is true holiness. And what is holiness, but a conformity to the moral perfections of the Deity? or, in other words, love to God, and delight in him as the chief good. The end of the commandment is love, out of a pure heart.' So, to love the supreme Being is directly contrary to the bias of corrupt nature. For as our natural depravity radically consists in our aversion to God, and in a setting up of something in the affections in His stead, which manifests itself in ten thousand different ways; so the essence of true holiness consists in love to God. This heavenly affection is the fruitful source of all obedience to Him, and of all delight in him, both here and hereafter. Yen, it is not only the source of all our obedience, but also the sum and perfection of holiness. For all acceptable duties naturally flow from the love of God; nor are they anything else but the necessary expression of that divine principle.
Though justification and sanctification are both
blessings of grace, and though they are inseparable, yet they are distinct acts of God; and there is, in various respects, a wide difference between them. The distinction may be thus expressed: Justification respects the person in a legal sense, is a single act of grace, and terminates in a relative change; that is, a freedom from punishment, and a right to life: Sanctification regards him in a physical sense, is a continual work of grace, and terminates in a real change, as to the quality both of habits and actions. The former is by a righteousness without us; the latter is by holiness wrought in us. That precedes as a cause; this follows as an effect. Justification is by Christ as a priest, and his regard to the guilt of sin; sanctification is by him as a king, and refers to its dominion. The former deprives of its damning power, the latter of its reigning power. Justification is instantaneous and complete in all its subjects; sanctification is progressive and perfecting by degrees.
The persons on whom the blessing of sanctification is bestowed, are those who are justified, and are in a state of acceptance with God. For concerning them it is said, and it is the language of reigning grace, 'I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts.* The blessing here designed, and the favour here promised, are that love of God, that delight in his law and ways, which are implanted in the hearts of all the regenerate, and enjoyed by them in some degree; constantly inclining them to obey the whole revealed will of God, so far as they are acquainted with it. Sanctification is a new covenant blessing, and in that gracious constitution it is promised as a choice privilege, not required as an entitling condition.
Further: Those happy souls who possess the invaluable blessing, and are delivered from the dominion of sin, are not under the law;' neither seeking justification by it, nor obnoxious to its curse; but under grace, are completely justified by the free fa
* Heb. viii, 10, 11, 12.
vour of God, and live under its powerful influence.* This text strongly implies that all who are under the law as a covenant, or are seeking acceptance with the eternal Judge by their own duties, are under the dominion of sin, whatever their character may be among men, or however high their pretences may be to holiness. And as they who are under the law have no holiness, so they can perform no acceptable obedience. For they that are in the flesh,' in their carnal, unregenerate state, 'cannot please God.' Every one that is under the law, is condemned by it; and so long as his person is accursed, his duties cannot be accepted. A man's person must be accepted with God, before his work can be pleasing to him.
To set the subject in a clearer light, it may be of use to consider what is essentially necessary to a good work. To constitute a good work, or one that is acceptable to God, it must be done from a right principle, performed by a right rule, and directed to a right end. -It must be done from a right principle. This is the love of God. The great command of the unchangeable law is, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God.'Whatever work is done from any other principle, however it may be applauded by men, it is not acceptable in the sight of Him who searches the heart. For by Him' principles, as well as actions, are weighed.'+-It must be performed by a right rule. This is the revealed will of God. His will is the rule of righteousness. The moral law, in particular, is the rule of our obedience. It is a complete system of duty, and, considered as moral, is immutably the rule of our conduct. However chargeable, therefore, any work may be to him that performs it, or however diligent he may be in the performance of it, yet if it be nowhere commanded by the authority of heaven, it stands condemned by that divine query, Who hath required this at your hands?' And though it be pretended that the love of God is the principle, and the glory of God the end, as the dupes of superstition, *Rom. vi. 14. + 1 Sam. ii. 3.
both ancient and modern, have generally done; yet, being nowhere enjoined in our only rule of faith and practice, it is no better than reprobate silver, and will certainly be rejected of God. So that however highly the performer may please himself, or gratify his own pride by the deed, he cannot be commended for his obedience. For where there is no command, explicit or implied, there can be no obedience; consequently no good work. It must be directed to a right end. This is the glory of the Supreme Being, 'whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God,'+ is the peremptory com mand of the Most High. And as this is the end for which Jehovah himself acts in all his works, both of providence and grace, so it is the highest end at which we can possibly aim. For no man can act for so sublime an end, but he that is taught of God, and fully persuaded that salvation is entirely by grace; so by grace, as to be detached from all works, dependent on no conditions to be performed by him. "For, till then, he cannot but refer his supposed good actions principally to self and his own salvation. This is the highest end for which such a person can possibly act, though other and baser ends are often proposed by him. But those works which are truly good, and which the Holy Spirit calls the fruits of righteousness, are,' in the design of the performer, as well as in the event, 'to the glory and praise of God.'-Now, though no unregenerate man may do those things which are materially good, and by a right rule, yet none who are ignorant of the gospel of divine grace, can act from that generous principle, and for that exalted end, which are absolutely necessary to constitute a good work.
To confirm the argument, and illustrate the point, I would observe, that man is a fallen creature, entirely destittue of the holy image and love of God. So far from loving his Maker, or delighting in his ways, he is an enemy to him. The language of an unregenerate man's heart and conduct is that of those
* Jer. vi. 30. + 1 Cor. x. 31. + Philip. i. 11.