|RPM, Volume 13, Number 25, June 19 to June 25, 2011|
Assurance has amazing transforming powers.
It changes iron to gold, ignominies to crowns,
and all sufferings to delights!
Showing the several ways and means of gaining a well-grounded assurance.
(1.) The first means. If ever you will attain to assurance, then be much in the exercise and actings of grace. As the believing Ephesians, Eph 1:13, were in the very exercise and actings of grace, the Spirit of the Lord "sealed them up to the day of redemption." Assurance flows in upon the actings of grace. Assurance is bred and fed, it is raised and maintained in the soul, by the actings of grace. Grace is most discernible when it is most in action, and grace is made more and more perfect by acting. Neglect of your graces is the ground of their decrease. Wells are the sweeter for drawing; you get nothing by dead and useless theories; talents hidden in a napkin gather rust; the noblest faculties wither when not improved; grace in the theory is no more discernible than fire under the ashes, than gold in the ore, than a dead man in the grave; but grace, in its lively actings and operations, is as a prince upon his throne, sparkling and shining. A Christian who would have assurance, must never leave blowing his little spark until he has blown it into a flame.
Ah, Christians! were your grace more active, it would be more visible; and were your grace more visible, your assurance would be more clear and full. As Paul once spoke to Timothy, "Stir up the gift of God that is in you," (the words are an allusion to the fire in the temple, which was always to be kept burning;) so say I to you, If ever you would have assurance, stir up the grace of God that is in you, blow up that heavenly fire, raise up those noble spirits, never cease believing nor repenting, until it be clearly given into your bosoms, that you are sure that you do believe, and that you do repent, as you are sure that you live, as you are sure that God rules in Jacob, and dwells in Zion.
Remember, Christians, all the honor which God has from you in this life, is from the actings and exercise of your grace, and not from mere theories of grace. Remember, Christians, that all your consolations flow, not from the theories—but from the acts of grace. Remember, Christians, that the lack of the exercise of grace is the reason why you do not discern your grace, and why you have no more assurance of your future happiness. He who will be rich, must still be turning the penny; and he who will attain unto the riches of assurance, must still be acting his graces, Col 2:2. There are none but lively, active Christians, who know and feel those joys, comforts, and contentments which attend the exercise of grace. If you would not be always a babe in grace, and a stranger to assurance, then see that your lamp is always burning, see that your golden wheels of grace is always going.
(2.) The second means. If you would, Christians, attain unto assurance, then you must mind your work more than your wages; you must be better at obeying than disputing; at doing, at walking, than at talking and wrangling. Assurance is the heavenly wages which Christ gives, not to loiterers—but to holy laborers. Though no man merits assurance by his obedience, yet God usually crowns obedience with assurance. "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him." John 14:21-23
In these words you see, that doing Christians, working Christians, are the only Christians who shall have most of the love of the Father and the Son, and who shall have the choicest manifestations of grace and favor, and who shall have most of their presence and company. So in Psalm 50:23, "Unto him that orders his conduct aright, will I declare the salvation of God." That is, I will declare myself to be his Savior, I will show him salvation, and I will show him his interest in salvation; I will save him, and I will make him see that I have saved him. He shall see the worth of salvation, and test the sweetness of salvation. So Gal 6:16, "And as many as walk according to this rule" (that is, the rule of the new creature), "peace be on them, and mercy upon the Israel of God." The Greek word that is here rendered "walk," signifies not simply to walk—but to walk by rule, in order, and measure, without turning aside—but making straight steps to our feet.
Now those choice souls who thus walk according to the law of the new creature, shall have peace and mercy in them, and peace and mercy with them, and peace and mercy on them. "As many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be on them." Assurance is a jewel of too high a price to be cast into any of their bosoms, who walk contrary to the laws of the new creature. Such may talk of assurance, and make a stir and a noise about assurance—but it is the close walking Christian, who shall be crowned with assurance. Assurance is a choice part of a believer's happiness, and therefore God will never give it out of a way of holiness. "The Lord has set apart for the godly man himself," Psalm 4:3. None are favorites in God's court, nor are admitted to be of his counsel—but those who are all glorious within, and whose raiment is of embroidered gold. That is, such whose principles are full of spiritual glory, and whose practices are amiable and answerable in purity and sanctity. These are the people who shall have the honor to have God's ear, and the happiness to know his heart. "Would you never be sad? Then live well," says Bernard.
(3.) The third means. To gain assurance, is to be kind to the Spirit, hear his voice, follow his counsel, live up to his laws. The Spirit is the great revealer of the Father's secrets, he lies in the bosom of the Father, he knows every name that is written in the book of life; he is best acquainted with the inward workings of the heart of God towards poor sinners; he is the great comforter, and the only sealer up of souls to the day of redemption. [Rom 8:26; John 14:26: Eph 1:13] If you set him a-mourning by your willful sinnings, who alone can gladden you—by whom will you be gladdened? Truly, Christians, when you turn your back upon the Spirit, he will not turn his face upon your souls. Your vexing of the Spirit will be but the disquieting of yourselves, Isa 63:10. Look! as all lights cannot make up the lack of the light of the sun—so all creatures cannot make up the lack of the testimony of the Spirit.
So say I, behold the Spirit of the Lord, who is your guide and guard, he also is only able to make a soul-satisfying view of his love and favor to you; therefore, as ever you would have assurance, beware of him and obey his voice, provoke him not; for if you do by willful transgressions, he will neither comfort you nor counsel you; he will neither be a sealing nor a witnessing Spirit unto you; nay, he will raise storms and tempests in your souls; he will present to you the Father frowning, and your Savior bleeding, and himself as grieving; and these sights will certainly rack and torture your doubting souls.
The Spirit of the Lord is a delicate visitant, a holy visitor, a blessed guest, who makes every soul happy where he lodges. "Therefore grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption," Eph 4:30. You will not grieve your guests, your friends—but courteously and friendly entertain them; why then do you make so little conscience of grieving that Holy Spirit who alone can stamp the image of the Father upon you, and seal you up to life and glory?
Ah, Christians! the way to assurance is not to sit down sighing and complaining of the lack of assurance—but it lies in your eyeing of the Holy Spirit, in your complying with the Spirit, in your cleaving to the Spirit, in your following of the Spirit, in your welcoming of the Spirit, and in your honoring and obeying of the Spirit. As he said of the sword of Goliath, "There is none like it!" 1 Sam 21:9. Just so, say I, "There is no means like this, to gain a well-grounded assurance of a man's happiness and blessedness". And as he said, "If there be any way to heaven on horseback, it is by prayer;" so say I, if there be any way to assurance, it is by being fearful to offend, and careful to please the Spirit of the Lord, whose office it is to witness to poor souls the remission of their sins, and the salvation of their souls.
(4.) The fourth means. If you would obtain assurance, then be sincere, be diligent and constant in assuring ordinances. He who will meet the king, must wait on him in his walks, Isa 64:5. Christ's ordinances are Christ's walks; and he who would see the beauty of Christ, and taste of the sweetness of Christ, and be ravished with the love of Christ, must wait at wisdom's door—they must attend Christ in his own appointments and institutions, Rev 2:1; Prov 8:34-35. That comfort and assurance which flows not in through the golden pipes of the sanctuary, will not better the soul, nor long abide with the soul; it will be as the morning dew, and as the flowers of the field which soon fade away, Hos 6:4; 1 Pet 1:24.
I have in the former discourse showed at large how the Lord is graciously pleased to cause his love and glory to beam forth upon souls in ordinances; and therefore I shall say no more unto this particular at this time.
(5.) The fifth means to obtain assurance is, wisely and seriously to observe what gift of God there is in you, which brings you within the compass of the promises of eternal mercy. Now, let the gift be this or that, if it be a gift which brings you within the compass of the promise of eternal mercy, that gift is an infallible evidence of your salvation.
For the better and further opening of this truth, premise with me these two things:
[1.] First, No man can have any sure evidence to himself of his happiness and blessedness, from the promises of Scripture. [Isa 42:6; Isa 49:8; Joel 2:28; Ezek 32:26-27; Jer 32:40; Heb 8:10-12; Isa 32:15] The promises do not describe to whom salvation and all eternal blessings belong. The promise of giving Christ, of giving the Spirit, of giving a new heart, and of pardoning and blotting out sin—are all general promises. Now God is free to make good these to whom he pleases; therefore he often steps over the rich and chooses the poor; he often steps over the learned, and chooses the ignorant; he often steps over the strong, and chooses the weak; he often steps over the noble, and chooses the vile; he often steps over the sweet nature, and chooses the wicked nature, etc., that no flesh may glory, and that all may shout out "Grace, grace!" 1 Cor 1:25-29.
[2.] Secondly, Though no man can have any sure evidence of his happiness and blessedness from the promises, because the promises do not describe the persons to whom salvation and all eternal blessings belong; yet these promises are of most choice and singular use.
(1.) In that they discover to us that our salvation is only from free grace, and not from anything good in us or done by us.
(2.) They are a most sure and glorious foundation for the very worst of sinners to stay their filthy, guilty, wearied, burdened, perplexed souls upon. Seeing that God looks not for any penny or pennyworth, for any goodness or merit in the creature to draw his love—but he will justify, pardon, and save for his name's sake, Isa 55:1-2; seeing all the motives which move God to show mercy are in his own bosom; seeing they are all within doors, there is no reason why the vilest of sinners should sit down and say, 'There is no hope, there is no help,' Deut 7:7-8; Psalm 68:18.
[3.] Thirdly, Promises may, and doubtless often are, choice cordials to many precious souls, who perhaps have lost the sense and feeling of divine favor. Promises are waters of life to many precious sons of Zion. They are a heavenly fire at which they can sit down and warm themselves when they cannot blow their own spark into a flame, and when all candlelight, torchlight, and starlight fails them. When all other comforts can yield a perplexed, distressed soul no comfort, yet then the promises will prove full breasts of consolation to the distressed soul.
These things being promised, see now what gift of God there is in you who brings you within the compass of the promise of everlasting happiness and blessedness; and to help you a little in this, I shall put you in mind of these following particulars.
1. The first gift. FAITH is a gift of God which brings the soul within the promise of everlasting blessedness, as the Scripture does everywhere evidence: "He who believes shall be saved;" "he who believes shall not come into condemnation;" "he shall not perish;" "he shall have eternal life," etc. [Mark 16:16; John 3:15-16, etc.; John 1:12] Now believing is nothing else but the accepting of Christ for your Lord and Savior, as he is offered to you in the gospel; and this accepting is principally, though not only, the act of your will. Just so, that if you are sincerely and cordially willing to have Christ upon his own terms, upon gospel terms, that is, to save you and rule you, to redeem you and to reign over you—then you are a believer. Your sincere willingness to believe is your faith; and this gift brings you within the compass of the promise of eternal happiness and blessedness.
Christian reader, in the following discourse you will find the nature, the properties, and the excellencies of a sound saving faith clearly and largely laid open before you; and therefore I shall say no more to it in this place—but refer you to what follows.
2. The second gift. WAITING patiently on God is a gift which brings you within the promise of everlasting happiness and blessedness. And he who has but a waiting frame of heart, has that which God will eternally own and crown: Isa 30:18, "Blessed are all those who wait for him." Truly, it is no iniquity to pronounce them blessed, whom God pronounces blessed. It is no piety—but cruelty and inhumanity, for any not to be as merciful to themselves, as God is merciful to them; not to have as sweet and precious thoughts of their present condition, as God has. If God says the waiting soul is blessed, who dares judge, who dares say it is not blessed? "Let God be true, and every man a liar," Rom 3:4; Isa 64:4, "For since the beginning of the world, men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen, O God, besides you, what he has prepared for the one who waits for Him." Prov 8:34, "Blessed is the man that hears me, watching daily at my gates, and waiting at the posts of my doors." Isa 49:23, They shall not be ashamed, who wait for me;" that is, I will never fail the waiting soul; I will never put him to blushing by frustrating his patient waiting on me. The waiting soul shall carry away the crown at last.
Truly, God's glorious love and power is as much seen in keeping up a poor soul in a patient waiting on God—as it was in raising Christ from the grave, and as it is in bringing souls to glory. Nothing can make the waiting soul miserable. Hold out faith and patience but a little, and he who shall come will come, and bring his reward with him," Rev 22:11-12.
3. The third gift. HUNGERING and THIRSTING AFTER RIGHTEOUSNESS is a gift which brings the soul within the compass of the promise of everlasting happiness and blessedness: Matt 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled"; or as it runs in the Greek, "Blessed are those who are hungering and thirsting," intimating that wherever this is the present disposition of men's souls, they are blessed, and may expect spiritual repletions.
Considerable to this purpose is that of Isa 44:2-5: "But now listen, O Jacob, my servant, Israel, whom I have chosen. This is what the Lord says—he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, O Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams. One will say, 'I belong to the Lord'; another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, 'The Lord's,' and will take the name Israel." By water is meant the Spirit, say some; others understand it of the spiritual waters of grace, which God will pour out upon those who thirst and long after an abundance of grace, etc.
Of the like consideration is that of Isa 35:6-7, "The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will shout and sing! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the desert. The parched ground will become a pool, and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land. Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived."
To the like purpose is that in Psalm 107:9, "For he satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."
But that none may mistake nor miscarry in this business, that is of an eternal concernment to them, I shall desire them to premise with me these following things, for a better and fuller clearing of this particular truth that is under our present consideration.
First, Premise this with me: All real hungerings and thirstings after righteousness are earnest and vehement thirstings and longings. They are like Rachel's longing for children, and like Samson's longing for water: Psalm 42:1-2, "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?" Naturalists observe, that of all the animals, the deer is most thirsty by nature—but most of all thirsty when she is hunted and pursued by dogs. Says David: As the hunted deer, as the wounded deer, yes, as the she-deer, in whom the passions of thirst are strongest, pants after the water-brooks, so does my soul pant after you, O God. A gracious soul pants and faints, it breathes and thirsts, for the longing it has at all times after the righteousness of Christ imputed and infused, Psalm 119:20.
The Greeks derive their word for desire from a root that signifies to burn. Ah, Christians! real desires are burning desires; they set the soul all in a holy flame after God and Christ. If they are not vehement, if they do not put an edge upon your affections, if they do not make you like a burning seraphim, Christ will take no pleasure in them; they shall return into your own bosom without working any wonders in heaven, as those desires do, which flow from the soul's being touched with a coal from the altar.
Secondly, Premise this with me: All real hungerings in the soul after righteousness, arise from spiritual and heavenly considerations; [Psalm 63:1-4; Psalm 27:4; Phil 3:7-10] they spring in the soul from some convictions, some apprehensions, some persuasions that the soul has—of a real worth, of a real beauty, glory, and excellency that is in Christ, and in his righteousness, imputed and imparted. Such desires after righteousness which flow from external considerations, are of no worth, weight, or continuance, but those desires after righteousness which flow from spiritual considerations, are full of spirit, life, and glory; they are such that God will not only observe but accept, not only record but reward, Psalm 145:19.
Thirdly, Real hungerings and thirstings after Christ and his righteousness, etc., will put the soul upon lively endeavors. If they are trueborn desires, they will not make the soul idle, but active; not negligent, but diligent, in the use of all holy means, whereby the soul may enjoy Christ and his righteousness: Isa 26:9, "With my soul have I desired you in the night, yes, with my spirit within me will I seek you early." Real desires will make us earnest and early in seeking to obtain the thing desired, as the Hebrew word imports—which signifies to seek in the morning, when it is but dim and dusky, and it notes both an earnest and an early seeking.
A thirsty man will not only long for drink—but labor for it; the condemned man will not only desire his pardon—but he will write, and entreat, and weep, and set this friend and that, to solicit for him; the covetous man does not only wish for wealth—but will rise early and go to bed late, he will turn every stone, and make attempts upon all hopeful opportunities, whereby he may fill his bags and fill his barns. Even so, all holy desires will put souls upon the use of the means, whereby the mercy desired may be gained. And thus to run, is to attain; thus to will, is to work; thus to desire, is to do the will of our Father, who accepts of pence for pounds, of mites for millions.
The Persian monarch was not so famous for accepting a little water from the hand of a loving subject, as our God is for accepting a handful of meal for a sacrifice, and a pinch of goat's hair for an oblation; for accepting of that little which we have, and for accounting our little much, Lev 2:2; Exod 35:6; 2 Cor 8:12.
Noah's sacrifice could not be great, and yet it was greatly accepted and highly accounted of by God. Such is God's condescending love to weak worms, that he looks more at their will than at their work; he minds more what they would do, than what they do do; he always prefers the willing mind before the worthiest work, and where desires and endeavors are sincere, there God judges such to be as good as they desire and endeavor to he.
Fourthly, Spiritual hungerings and thirstings are only satisfied with spiritual things. John 14:8, "Show us the Father, and it suffices us." All things in the world cannot suffice us; but a sight of the Father—that will satisfy us: Psalm 63:5-6, "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise you with joyful lips; when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the night-watches." Psalm 65:4, "We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, even of your holy temple." It is only God, and the precious things of his house, which can satisfy a thirsty soul.
It was a sweet saying of one, "As what I have, if offered to you, pleases you not, O Lord, without myself. Just so, the good things we have from you, though they may refresh us, yet they cannot satisfy us, without yourself." The rattle without the breast will not satisfy the child, the house without the husband will not satisfy the wife, the cabinet without the jewel will not satisfy the virgin, nor the world without Christ will not satisfy the soul.
Luther, in a time of great need, receiving unexpectedly a good sum of money from the elector of Germany, at which being somewhat amazed, he turned himself to God and protested, that God should not put him off with such poor low things. The hungry soul will not be put off with any bread but with the bread of life; the thirsty soul will not be put off with any water but with the wellsprings of life. As the king of Sodom said once, "You take the goods, give me the people," Gen 14:21. Just so, says the hungry soul, "You take goods—take your honors, and riches, and the favor of creatures, take you the grain, the oil, and the wine; give me Christ, give me the light of his countenance, give me the joy of his Spirit, etc." Oh the answering of spiritual breathings is very sweet to the soul: Prov 13:19, "The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul." Returns from heaven make a paradise in the soul.
I have read of Darius, that when he fled from his enemy, and being in great thirst, he met with a dirty puddle of water, with carrion lying in it, and he sucked in and drank very heartily of it, and professed, "That it was the sweetest draught that ever he drunk in his life." Ah, how sweet then are those waters of life that are at God's right hand! How sweet are the droppings of God's honeycomb upon the hungry soul! Water out of the rock, and manna in the wilderness, was not so sweet to the hungry, thirsty Israelites—as spiritual answers and spiritual returns are to those who hunger and thirst after spiritual things.
(6.) The sixth means to obtain a well-grounded assurance of your everlasting happiness is, to be much, yes, to excel in those choice particular things which may clearly and fully difference and distinguish you, not only from the profane—but also from the highest and most glistening hypocrites in all the world. Many are much in and for church ordinances and activities, whose hearts are very carnal, and whose lives are very vain. "This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am about to desecrate My sanctuary--the stronghold in which you take pride, the delight of your eyes, the object of your affection." Ezekiel 24:21. "My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice." Ezekiel 33:31-32.
You have expressions of carnal hearts prizing church privileges. Just so, "The multitude of your sacrifices--what are they to me?" says the Lord. "I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations--I cannot bear your evil assemblies. Your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts my soul hates. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong!" Isaiah 1:11-16. Zech 7:4-7; Isa 58:1-3, etc.
It is nothing to be much in those religious duties and performances wherein the worst of sinners may equalize, yes, go beyond the best of saints. Oh! but to excel in those things that the most refined hypocrites cannot reach to, this cannot but much help you on to assurance. He who has those jewels in his bosom that God gives only to his choicest favorites, needs not question whether he be a favorite, etc. If he does it, it is his sin, and will hereafter be his shame.
But you may say to me, What are those choice particular things that may difference and distinguish Christ's true Nathanaels from all other people in the world? Now, to this question I shall give these following answers:
[1.] The first distinction. A true Christian, in his constant course, labors in all duties and services to be approved and accepted of God. He is most studious and industrious to approve his heart to God, in all that he puts his hand to. So David, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting," Psalm 139:23-24. This signifies to make a strict search and inquisition. So Peter approves his heart to Christ three several times together: "Lord, you know that I love you; Lord, you know that I love you; Lord, you know all things, you know that I love you," John 21:15-17. You know the sincerity and reality of my love, and therefore to you I do appeal. To the same purpose the apostle speaks: 2 Cor 5:9, "Therefore we labor, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him." The Greek word which is here rendered labor, is a very emphatic word; it signifies to labor and endeavor with all earnestness and might, to endeavor with a high and holy ambition to be accepted of God, judging it the greatest honor in the world to be owned and accepted of the Lord. Ambitious men are not more diligent, earnest, studious, and laborious to get honor among men, than we are, says the apostle, to get acceptance with God.
Ah! but your most refined hypocrites labor only to approve themselves to men in their praying, fasting, talking, hearing, giving, etc. Let them have but man's eye to see them, and man's ear to hear them, and man's tongue to commend them, and man's hand to reward them, and they will sit down and bless themselves, saying "it is enough; aha! so would we have it." Matt 6 and Matt 23. It is Chrysostom's observation, that "she who paints tears and blubberings, is worse than a promiscuous woman who paints to seduce."
They say of the nightingale, that when she is solitary in the woods, she is careless of her melody; but when she perceives that she has any auditors, or is near houses—then she composes herself more harmoniously and elegantly. Truly, this is the frame and temper of the best of hypocrites. Oh! but a sincere Christian labors in all places, and in all times, to approve himself to God; he labors as much to approve himself to God in a forest, where no eye sees him, as he does when the eyes of thousands are fixed upon him. The sun would shine bright, though all men were asleep at high noon, and no eyes open to see the glory of his beams. Just so, a sincere heart will shine, he will labor to do good; though all the world should shut their eyes, yet he will eye his work, and eye his God. He knows that God is totes oculus, all eye, and therefore he cares not though others have never an eye to observe him, to applaud him. Let God but secretly whisper him in the ear, and say, "Well done, good and faithful servant!" and it is enough to his soul, enough to satisfy him, enough to cheer him, and enough to encourage him in the ways and the work of his God.
[2.] The second distinction. He labors to get up to the very top of holiness; he labors to live up to his own principles. He cannot be satisfied with so much grace as will bring him to glory—but he labors to be high in grace, that he may be high in glory: Phil 3:11, "I desire if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead, that is, to that perfection that the dead shall attain to in the morning of the resurrection." He cannot be satisfied with so much grace as will keep him from dropping into hell; but he must have so much grace as will make him shine gloriously in heaven.
Truly, that man is ripe for heaven, who counts it his greatest happiness to be high in holiness; that man shall never be low in heaven, a doorkeeper in heaven, who cannot be satisfied until he be got up to the very top of Jacob's ladder, until he has attained to the highest perfection in grace and holiness. Psalm 45:13, "The king's daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold." Her inward principles are all glorious, and her outward practice echoes to her inward principles: "her clothing is of wrought gold."
It was the honor and glory of Joshua and Caleb, that they followed the Lord fully, Num 14:24, that is, they lived up to their own principles. So those virgins in Rev 14:4-5, who were without spot before the throne of God, they followed the Lamb wherever he went, that is, they lived up to their profession; there was a sweet harmony between their principles and practices. And thus the apostles lived: 2 Cor 1:12, "Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God's grace." 1 Thess 2:10, "You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed." Thus we see these worthies living up to their own principles. Blessed Bradford and Bucer so lived up to their principles, that their friends could not sufficiently praise them, nor their foes find anything justly to fasten on them.
(1.) That their living up to their own principles, does best evidence Christ living in them, and their union with him, Gal 2:20.
(2.) They know that it is not their profession—but living up to their principles, which will effectually stop the mouths, and convince the consciences of worldly men: 1 Pet 2:15, "For so is the will of God, that by well-doing," that is, by living up to your own principles, "you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men." There is no greater way in the world to still and silence wicked men, to make them dumb and speechless, to muzzle and tie up their mouths, as the Greek word notes—as by living up to your own principles. The lives of men convince more strongly than their words; the tongue persuades—but the life commands.
(3.) They know by living up to their principles, they cast a general glory upon Christ and his ways. This makes Christ and his ways to be well thought on and well spoke on, Matt 5:16; 1 Pet 2:11-12; 2 Pet 1:5-13.
(4.) They know that the ready way, the only way to get and keep assurance, joy, peace, etc., is to live up to their principles.
(5.) They know that by living below their own principles, or contrary to their own principles, they do but gratify Satan, and provoke wicked men to blaspheme that worthy name by which they are called; they know that by their not living up to their own principles, they do but multiply their own fears and doubts, and put a sword into the hand of conscience, and make sad work for future repentance.
Now these and such like considerations do exceedingly stir and provoke believers to labor with all their might to live up to their own principles, to get to the very top of holiness, to be more and more a-pressing towards the mark; and to think that nothing is done, until they have attained the highest perfection which is attainable in this life. It is true, many hypocrites may go up some rounds of Jacob's ladder, such as make for their profit, pleasure, applause, and yet tumble down at last to the bottom of hell, as Judas and others have done. Look! Hypocrites do not, nor like, nor love—to come up to the top of Jacob's ladder, Gen 28:12, to the top of holiness, as you may see in the Scribes and Pharisees, and all other hypocrites that the Scripture speaks of. James 2:7. The very heathen, as Salvian observes, did thus reproach Christians who walked contrary to their principles, "Where is that good law which they do believe? They read and hear the holy Scriptures, and yet are drunk and unclean; they profess to follow Christ, and yet disobey Christ; they profess a holy law, and yet do lead impure lives."
[3.] The third distinction. It is their greatest desire and endeavor that sin may be cured, rather than covered. Sin most afflicts a gracious soul. David cries out, "I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me," Psalm 51:3. Daniel complains not, we are reproached and oppressed—but we have rebelled, Dan 9:5. Paul cries not out of his persecutors—but of the law in his members rebelling against the law of his mind, Rom 7:23. A gracious soul grieves more that God by his sin is grieved and dishonored, than that for it he is afflicted and chastened.
The deer feeling within her the working of the serpent's poison, runs through the thorns and thickets, and runs over the green and pleasant pastures, that she may drink of the fountain and be cured. So gracious souls, being sensible of the poison and venom of sin, runs from the creatures, which are but as thorns and thickets; and runs over their own duties and righteousness, which are but as pleasant pastures—to come to Christ the fountain of life, that they may drink of those waters of consolation, of those wells of salvation that are in him, and cast up and cast out their spiritual poison, and be cured forever.
If a snake were to sting your dearly beloved spouse to death, would you preserve it alive, warm it by the fire, and hug it in your bosom? Would you not rather stab it with a thousand wounds? You are wise, and know how to apply it.
Believers know that their sins do most pierce and grieve the Lord, they lie hardest and heaviest upon his heart, and are most obvious to his eye, Amos 2:13. The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond, Jer 17:1; their sins are against beams of strongest light, they are against the affections of tenderest mercy, they are against the manifestations of greatest love, they are against the nearest and dearest relations, they are against the choicest and highest expectations; and this makes believing souls cry out, "Oh, a cure, Lord! a cure, Lord! Oh give me purging grace, give me purging grace; though I should never taste of pardoning mercy, yet give me purging grace." When Brutus went to stab Julius Caesar, he cried out, "What, you my son Brutus!" So may God well cry out, "What, you my son! What, will you stab me with your sins? Is it not enough that others stab my honor? but will you, my son?"
It was a notable speech of Cosmus, duke of Florence, "I have read," says he, "that I must forgive my enemies—but never that I must forgive my friends." The sins of God's friends, of God's people, provoke him most, and sadden him most, and this makes them sigh and groan it out, "Who shall deliver us from this body of death?" Rom 7:24. Oh! but now wicked men labor, not that sin may be cured—but only that sin might be covered, Hos 7:10-16; and that the consequences of sin, namely, affliction and the stinging of conscience, may be removed, as you may see in Cain, Saul, Judas, and many others:" Hos 5:14-15, "In their affliction they will seek me early," says God; they will then seek to be rid of their affliction—but not to be rid of their sins which have brought down the affliction upon them! Like the patient who would gladly be rid of the pain and torment, under which he groans—but cares not to be rid of those evil habits which have brought the pain and torment upon him.
"Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again. They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer. But then they would flatter him with their mouths, lying to him with their tongues; their hearts were not loyal to him, they were not faithful to his covenant." Psalm 78:34-37. In these words you see plainly, that these people are very early and earnest in seeking God, to take off his hand, to remove the judgments which were upon them—but not that God would cure them of those sins which provoked him to draw his sword; and to make it drunk with their blood; for, notwithstanding the sad slaughters which divine justice had made among them, they did but flatter and lie, and play the hypocrites with God. They would gladly be rid of their sufferings—but did not care to be rid of their sins!
Ah! but a gracious soul cries out, Lord, do but take away my sins, and it will satisfy me and cheer me, though you should never take off your heavy afflicting hand. A true Christian sighs it out under his greatest affliction, as Augustine did, "Deliver me, O Lord, from that evil man—myself!" There is no burden like the burden of sin. "Lord! says the believing soul; deliver me from my inward burden of sin—and lay upon me whatever outward burden you please."
Sin is evil in the eye, worse in the tongue, worser in the heart—but worst of all in the life.
(4.) The fourth distinction. Are not your souls taken with Christ as chief? is he not in your eye the chief of ten thousand? Is he not altogether lovely? Song 5:10,16. Yes, have you any in heaven but he, and is there any on earth that you desire in comparison of him? Prov 3:15; Psalm 73:25-26; Phil 3:7-8. No! Do not you lift up Jesus Christ as high as God the Father lifts him? God the Father lifts up Christ above all principalities and powers, Eph 1:21; Phil 2:9; he lifts up Christ above all your duties, above all your privileges, above all your mercies, above all your graces, above all your contentments, above all your enjoyments; do not you thus lift up Jesus Christ? Yes! "None but Christ, none but Christ!" cries the martyr.
As he is the Father's chief jewel, so he is your choicest jewel, is he not? Yes! Truly, none can lift up Christ as chief, unless Christ has their hearts, and they dearly love him, and believe in him, for Christ is only precious to those who believe, 1 Pet 2:7. Luther had rather be in hell with Christ—than in heaven without him; is not that the frame of your heart? Yes! Surely none but those who have union with Christ, and who shall eternally reign with Christ, can set such a high price upon the person of Christ. The true believer loves Christ for Christ; he loves Christ for his personal excellencies, Song 5:10-16.
What Alexander said of his two friends, is applicable to many in our day; says he, "Haehestion loves me as I am Alexander—but Craterus loves me as I am King Alexander." One loved him for his person, the other for the benefits he received by him. So true Christians love Christ for his person, for his personal excellency, for his personal beauty, for his personal glory; they see those perfections of grace and holiness in Christ, which render him very lovely and desirable in their eyes; though they should never get a kingdom, a crown by it. But most of those who profess to belong to Christ, do it only in respect of the benefits they receive by him. When one asked Cato's daughter why she would not marry again, she being young when her husband died, answered, 'Because she could not find a man that loved her more than her goods.' Few there are, who love Christ more than his benefits, etc.
It was Augustine's complaint of old, that 'scarcely any love Christ but for his benefits.' Few follow him for love—but for loaves, John 6:26; few follow him for his inward excellencies, many follow him for their outward advantages; few follow him that they may be made godly by him—but many follow him that they may be great by him. Certainly, you are the bosom friends of Christ, you are in the very heart of Christ, who prize Christ above all, who lift up Jesus Christ as high as God the Father lifts him, and that because of his rich anointings, and because all his garments smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia, Psalm 45:6-8. This is a work too high and too hard, too great and too noble, for all who are not true Christians, who are not twice born, who are not of the blood-royal, who are not partakers of the divine nature.
[5.] The fifth distinction. Are not your greatest and your hottest conflicts against inward pollutions, against those secret sins which are only obvious to the eye of God and your own souls? The light of nature's education, and some common convictions of the Spirit, may put men upon combating with those sins which are obvious to every eye—but it must be a supernatural power and principle which puts men upon conflicting with the inward motions and secret operations of sin. "I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members." Romans 7:23. The apostle complains of a law in his members warring against the law of his mind. The war was within doors, the fight was inward. The apostle was deeply engaged against the sin within him, which made him sigh it out, "O What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"
So David cries out, "Who can understand his errors? cleanse me from secret faults," Psalm 19:12. So Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, or for the lifting up of his heart, as the Hebrew has it, 2 Chron 32:26. His recovery from sickness, his victories over his enemies, and his rich treasures, lifted up his heart with pride. Oh! but for those outward risings and vauntings of heart, Hezekiah humbles himself, he abases and lays himself low before the Lord. A sincere heart weeps and laments bitterly over those secret and inward corruptions, which others will scarcely acknowledge to be sins. Many a man there is—who bleeds inwardly, and dies forever; many a soul is eternally slain by the inward workings of sin, and he sees it not, he knows it not, until it be too late.
The Persian kings reign powerfully, and yet are seldom seen in public. Secret sins reign in many men's souls powerfully and dangerously, when least apparently.
Oh! but a true Christian mourns over the inward motions and first risings of sin in his soul, and so prevents an eternal danger. Upon every stirring of sin in the soul, the believer cries out, "O Lord, help; O Lord, undertake for me; oh dash these brats of Babylon in pieces; oh stifle the first motions of sin, that they may never conceive and bring forth, to the wounding of two at once, your honor and my own conscience!
[6.] The sixth distinction. Are you not subject to Christ as a head? Yes! Devils and wicked men are subject to Christ as a Lord—but those who are by faith united to him, and who have a spiritual interest in him, are subject to him as a head. I shall open this particular thus unto you.
First, The members are willingly and sweetly subject to the head; their subjection is voluntary, not compulsory. It is so with a believing soul: Psalm 27:8, "When you said, Seek you my face, my heart said unto you, Your face, Lord, will I seek." So Psalm 110:3, "Your people shall be willing in the day of your power, in the beauties of holiness." So Paul cries out, "What will you have me to do?" Acts 9:6, and professes that he is willing not to be bound only—but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of Christ, Acts 21:13. A gracious soul is in some measure naturalised to the work of Christ, and Christ's work is in some measure naturalised to the soul.
Secondly, The members are subject to the head universally, they do all the head enjoins. Their obedience is universal,
(1.) in respect of the act of eschewing all evil, doing all good;
(2.) in respect of the rule, the whole word of God;
(3.) in respect of their general and particular calling.
The real members of Christ do in sincerity, endeavor universally to subject to all that Christ their head requires, without any exception or reservation. Luke 1:5-6, "Zacharias and Elizabeth walked in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless." They walked without halting or halving of it with God; they fell in with every part and point of God's revealed will, without prejudice or partiality, without tilting the balance on one side or another. Acts 13:22, "I have found David the son of Jesse a man after my own heart, who shall fulfill all my will," or rather all my wills," to note the universality and sincerity of his obedience.
Thirdly, The members are subject to the head constantly, unweariedly. The members are never weary of obeying the head; they obey in all places, cases, and times. Just so, are the real members of Christ. Acts 24:16, "And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men." That is, always, or throughout in all cases, or at all times. I use all diligence, skill, cunning, and conscience, to be sincere and inoffensive in all my motions and actions towards God and towards men. So David, Psalm 119:112, "I have inclined my heart" (or rather, as the Hebrew word signifies, "I have stretched out my heart," as a man would do a piece of parchment) "to do your statutes" (the Hebrew word signifies to do accurately, exactly, perfectly) "always, even unto the end."
A gracious soul is not like a deceitful bow, nor like the morning dew—but he is like the sun, which rejoices to run his race; he is like the stone in Thracia, that neither burns in the fire nor sinks in the water.
Now tell me, pray tell me, O you doubting souls, whether you do not,
(1.) Labor in all duties and services to approve your hearts to God?
(2.) Whether you do not endeavor to get up to the very top of holiness, and to live up to your own principles?
(3.) Whether it be not your greatest desire and endeavor that sin may be cured rather than covered?
(4.) Whether you are not taken with Christ as chief? whether you do not, in your judgments and affections, lift up Christ above all, as God the Father does?
(5.) Whether your greatest and hottest conflicts and combats be not against inward pollutions, against those secret stirrings and operations of sin, which are only obvious to the eye of God and your own souls?
(6.) Whether you do not, in respect of the general bent and frame of your hearts, subject to Christ as your head?
[1.] Freely and sweetly.
[2.] Universally, in one thing as well as another, without any exception or reservation.
[3.] Constantly and unwearily.
Yes; we do these things; we would belie the grace of God if we should say otherwise. These things the Lord has wrought in us and for us, Isa 26:12. Well, then, know,
First, That your estate is good; you have certainly a blessed interest in the Lord Jesus. None can do these things but souls who have union with Christ, that are savingly interested in Christ, who are acted by the peculiar and special influences of Christ, and who are highly beloved by Christ. Truly, these are such flowers of paradise that cannot be gathered in nature's garden; they are pearls of great price which God bestows upon none but those who are the price of Christ's blood. All the men in the world cannot prove by the Scripture that these jewels can be found in any men's breasts but in theirs who have union and communion with Christ, and that shall reign forever with Christ. If these things could be found in the most shining hypocrites, or any others but real saints, they could not possibly be either a first or second evidence.
Secondly, Know that it is no iniquity—but rather your duty, for you to suck sweetness out of these honeycombs, and to look upon these things as infallible pledges and evidences of divine favor, and of your everlasting happiness and blessedness. Some there are, who make the witness of the Spirit, of which I shall, towards the close of this discourse, speak at large, the only evidence of our interest in Christ, and deny all other evidences from the fruit of the Spirit; but this is to deny the fruit, growing upon the tree, to be an evidence that the tree is alive, whereas all know, that the fruit growing upon the tree is an infallible and undeniable evidence that there is life in the tree. Certainly it is one thing to judge by our graces, and another thing to rest upon our graces, or to put trust in our graces. When one argues from the beams of the sun, that there is a sun, one would think that the most caviling spirit in the world should lie quiet and still. We have cause enough to keep off doubtings and distress of spirit upon the bare sight of our evidences. This, complaining, caviling souls will not understand.
(7.) The seventh means to get a well-grounded assurance of your everlasting happiness and blessedness is, to grow and increase more and more in grace. 2 Pet 1:5-11, "Add to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge, etc. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." By entrance into the everlasting kingdom of Christ, is not meant a local entrance into heaven; for heaven is nowhere called the kingdom of Christ—but the Father's kingdom. 2 Pet 1:9 shows clearly that it is meant of assurance. Now, the way to full assurance is by adding grace to grace. The Greek word that is here rendered "add," has a greater emphasis; it signifies to link our graces together, as people in a dance do link their hands together. Oh! we must be still a-joining grace to grace, we must still be adding one grace to another, we must still be a-leading up the dance of graces.
Though our graces be our best jewels, yet they are imperfect, and do not give out their full luster; they are like the moon, which, when it shines brightest, has a dark spot. Therefore, we should add still grace to grace.
Great measures of grace carry with them great evidence of truth; little measures carry with them but little evidence. Great measures of grace carry with them the greatest evidence of the soul's union and communion with Christ; and the more evident your union and communion with Christ is, the more clear and full will your assurance be.
Great measures of grace carry with them the greatest and clearest evidences of the glorious indwellings of the Spirit in you, and the more you are persuaded of the real indwellings of the Spirit in you, the higher will your assurance rise. Great measures of grace will be a fire which will consume and burn up the dross—the stubble, the fears and doubts which perplex the soul, and that cause darkness to surround the soul. Now, the more you are rid of your fears, doubts, and darkness, the more easily, and the more effectually will your hearts be persuaded that the thoughts of God towards you are thoughts of love; that you are precious in his eyes, and that he will rejoice over you, to do you good forever, Jer 32:41, etc.
'If moral virtue,' says Plato, 'could be seen with mortal eyes, it would soon draw all hearts to itself.' Oh how much the more should our hearts be drawn out after the highest measures of grace! the least grain of grace being more worth than all moral virtue.
(8.) The eighth means to gain a well-grounded assurance of your everlasting happiness and blessedness is, to take your hearts when they are in the best and most spiritual frame and temper God-wards, heaven-wards, and holiness-wards. Times of temptation and desertion, etc., are praying times, hearing times, mourning times, and believing times; but they are not trying times, they are not seasonable times for doubting souls to set themselves about so great and so solemn a work as that is, of searching and examining how things stand, and are likely to stand, between God and them forever, 2 Cor 13:5.
Be diligent and constant, be studious and conscientious in observing the frame and temper of your own hearts, and when you find them most plain, most melting, most yielding, most tender and humble, most sweetly raised, and most divinely composed—then, oh then, is the time to single out the most convenient place where you may with greatest freedom open your bosom to God, and plead with him as for your life, that he would show you how things stand between him and you, and how it must fare with your soul forever. And when you have thus set yourself before God, and opened your bosom to God, then wisely observe what report God and your own renewed conscience do make concerning your eternal condition: "I will hear what God the Lord will speak," says David; "for he will speak peace unto his people, and they shall not return to folly," so the Hebrew may be read.
"I will listen to what God the Lord will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints--but let them not return to folly. Surely his salvation is near those who fear him." Psalm 85:8-9. Oh! so must you stand still, when you have sincerely opened yourself before the Lord, and listened and hearkened what God will say unto you. Surely he will speak peace unto you, he will say, "Son, be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven, your heart is upright with me; my soul is set upon you; I have already blessed you, and I will hereafter glorify you.'
I have read of one who was kept from destroying of himself, being much tempted by Satan unto suicide—by remembering that there was a time when he solemnly set himself in prayer and self-examination before the Lord, and made a diligent inquiry into his spiritual condition; and in the close of that work, it was evidenced to him that his heart was upright with God, and this kept him from laying of violent hands upon himself. A good conscience is a thousand witnesses; therefore make much of its testimony. Oh! a wise and serious observing what that testimony is, which God, conscience, and the word gives in upon solemn prayer and self-examination, may beget strong consolation, and support the soul under the greatest affliction, and strengthen the soul against the most violent temptations, and make the soul look and long for the day of dissolution—as princes do for their day of coronation.
(9.) The ninth means to gain a well-grounded assurance is, to make a diligent inquiry whether you have those things which accompany eternal salvation: Heb 6:9, "Beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things which accompany salvation;" or as it is in the Greek, "who have salvation," as it were in the very heart of them, which comprehend salvation and which touch upon salvation.
Oh! beloved, if you have those choice things which accompany salvation, which comprehend salvation, you may be abundantly assured of your salvation.
But you may say to me—What are those things which accompany salvation?
To this question I shall give this answer, namely, that there are seven special things which accompany salvation, and they are these:
1, Knowledge; 2, Faith; 3, Repentance; 4, Obedience; 5, Love; 6, Prayer; 7, Perseverance.
(1.) KNOWLEDGE is one of those special things which accompanies salvation: John 17:3, "And this is life eternal, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." Divine knowledge is the beginning of eternal life; it is a spark of glory, it works life in the soul, it is a taste and pledge of eternal life: 1 John 5:20, "And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know him who is true: and we are in him who is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ; this is the true God, and eternal life." 2 Pet 1:3, "According as his divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who has called us to glory and virtue." What this knowledge is, which accompanies salvation, I shall show you shortly.
In reading Scripture and pious books, let us not look so much for intellectual learning, as a savouriness of the truth upon our own hearts.
(2.) Secondly, FAITH is another of those special things which accompanies salvation: 2 Thess 2:13, "But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has from the beginning chosen you to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth." 1 Pet 1:5, "You who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." Heb 10:39, "But we are not of those who draw back to perdition—but of those who believe to the saving of the soul." John 3:14-16, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him should not perish—but have everlasting life." John 3:36, "He who believes on the Son has everlasting life." John 5:24, "Truly, truly, I say unto you, he who hears my word, and believes on him who sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation—but has passed from death unto life." John 6:40, "And this is the will of him who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:47, "Truly, truly, I say unto you, he who believes on me has everlasting life." This double assertion is used only in matters of weight. Mark 16:16; Acts 16:31; Rom 10:9; Isa 45:22; Phil 2:8; John 11:25-26; 1 John 5:10. All these and many more scriptures speak out the same truth.
(3.) Thirdly, REPENTANCE is another of those choice things which accompanies salvation: 2 Cor 7:10, "For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation, not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world works death." Jer 4:14, "O Jerusalem, wash your heart from wickedness, that you may be saved." Acts 11:18, "God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life." Matt 18:3, "Truly I say unto you, except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Acts 3:19, "Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the time of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."
The very word repent was very displeasing to Luther until his conversion—but afterward he took delight in the work—to sorrow for his sin, and then rejoice in his sorrow.
(4.) Fourthly, OBEDIENCE is another of those precious things which accompanies salvation. Heb 5:9, "And being made perfect," speaking of Christ, "he became the author of eternal salvation unto all those who obey him." Psalm 50:23, "If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God."
(5.) Fifthly, LOVE to God, is another of those singular things which accompanies salvation. 2 Tim 4:8, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only—but unto all those who love his appearing." When God crowns us, he does but crown his own gifts in us.
James 2:5, "Hearken, my beloved brethren, has not God chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?" 1 Cor 2:9, "It is written, eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man—the things which God has prepared for those who love him." James 1:12, "Blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he is tried he shall receive a crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love him." The word crown notes to as,
(1.) the perpetuity of that life the apostle speaks of, for a crown has neither beginning nor ending;
(2.) it notes plenty; the crown fetches a range on every side;
(3.) it notes dignity;
(4.) it notes majesty. Eternal life is a coronation day; it notes all joys, all delights; in a word, it notes all good, it notes all glory.
Matt 19:29, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life." The whole is as if Christ had said, Whoever shall show love to me, this way or that, in one thing or another, out of respect to my name, to my honor, mercy shall be his portion here, and glory shall be his portion hereafter.
(6.) Sixthly, PRAYER is another of those sweet things which accompanies salvation. Rom 10:10,13, "For with the heart man believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." Acts 2:21, "And it shall come to pass, that whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved." That is, says one, he shall be certainly sealed up to salvation. Or as another says, He who has this grace of prayer, it is an evident sign and assurance to him, that he shall be saved. Therefore to have grace to pray, is a better and a greater mercy than to have gifts to prophesy, Matt 7:22. Praying souls shall find the gates of heaven open to them, when prophesying souls shall find them shut against them.
(7.) Seventhly and lastly, PERSEVERANCE is another of those prime things which accompanies salvation. Matt 10:22, "And you shall be hated of all men for my name's sake—but he who endures to the end, the same shall be saved." The same words you have in Mark 13:13.
Matt 24:12-13, "And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold; but he who endures unto the end, the same shall be saved." Rev 2:10, "Fear none of those things which you shall suffer; behold the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may he tried, and you shall have tribulation ten days. Be faithful unto the death, and I will give you a crown of life." A crown without cares, fears, co-rivals, envy, end. God turns the crown of thorns into a crown of glory.
Rev 3:5, "He who overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life—but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. To him that overcomes, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne."
Thus you see these seven choice things which accompany salvation. But for your further and fuller edification, satisfaction, confirmation, and consolation, it will be very necessary that I show you,
(1.) What knowledge that is, which accompanies salvation.
(2.) What faith that is, which accompanies salvation.
(3.) What repentance that is, which accompanies salvation.
(4.) What obedience that is, which accompanies salvation.
(5.) What love that is, which accompanies salvation.
(6.) What prayer that is, which accompanies salvation.
(7.) What perseverance that is, which accompanies salvation.
I hope when I have fully opened these precious things to you in the next chapter, that you will be able to sit down much satisfied and cheered in a holy confidence and blessed assurance of your everlasting well-being.
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