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indeed, that can steer his faith in so direct a course, as not now and then to strike upon this duty, and run aground upon that grace. The spiritual children of Abraham may be found too often cleaving to their own righteousness, especially when they are taken with the glory and splendour of it. According to the various aspects of our obedience, so oft times is the ebbing and flowing of our faith, if there be a spring tide of our enlargement, it covers the mountains of our fears; if there be a wane, presently our faith flies back, and we have no hopes of acceptance. Ah sirs, how poor is this life of spiritual sense! learn this high lesson a little better, practically to improve Jesus Christ as mediator of this covenant, for access to God, and acceptance with him.
SOURCES OF CONSOLATION SUGGESTED, and a
I HAVE yet something to add for the encouragement of such as are entered into covenant with the Lord, which I shall place under the two following divisions: Cordials for their support, and answers to their doubtings.
In the first place, I shall briefly advert to the cordials, or sources of consolation to which God's children may have recourse.
1. Thou mayest, Christian, be truly entitled a saint; so saith the text, "gather my saints together," those are they that have made a covenant with him by sacri
fice. See here, covenanting souls are sanctified souls. It is true, that in this ridiculing age the word saint is grown a matter of such scorn with us, as the word reformed is with the Roman Catholics; yet we have no reason to decline or be ashamed of scripture language; we may call those saints whom God is pleased to stile by that appellation. You will say, but who are saints, many arrogate that title to themselves and their party, that are a pack of arrant hypocrites? I answer,
(1.) The truest saints are most humble, and humble persons are most conscious to themselves of their own sinfulness, and therefore are most cautious in assuming this title.
(2.) They that assume this title most confidently to themselves, or monopolize all saintship to their own party, are most to be suspected, for it is equivalent to God's children; believers, Christians, faithful, or God's servants, which are not to be restrained to one sect or sort of Christians, but have a catholic import, including all that profess the true faith, and live accordingly. So saith the apostle, 1 Cor. i. 2, "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints with all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours." We may in the judgment of charity call them saints, that call upon the name of the same Lord, though they differ from us in many things, yet holding the essentials of religion, in doctrine, worship, and practice. You will say, are not all sinners, who then can be saints? I answer, all are sinners, but all are not alike sinners.
[i.] Some are in the state of sin, under the power
[ii] Some are regenerated, in whom sin is subdued as to its dominion, "these are not under the law, bụt
under grace," and God is pleased to denominate them from the better part, though much is amiss in them; we speak of a corn field, though there be weeds, straw, and chaff. "Aaron was a saint of the Lord,"† though he had much imperfection. Converts are puritans, though they have much impurity; holy brethren, though not all holy. Be comforted in this, God owns his jewels, though they be in this polluted world, and much sullied, yet he will not despise them, but gather them up to himself at last.||
2. Thou hast a title to all the promises in the bible; all the good things in earth and heaven are thine. "All the promises in Christ are yea and amen."§ He that hath right to the tree, hath right to all the fruits growing on that tree; "he that overcometh shall inherit all things; godliness hath the promise of this life, and that which is to come; all things are yours;" good things are for your comfort, evil things for your profit; all shall prove either food or physic. God's glorious attributes shall be employed for you; Christ's purchases shall be conferred on you. It is hard to make a catalogue of the saint's inventory; it is worth more than heaven and earth amount to. If you be the Lord's he will save you ;** nature teacheth every thing to take care of its own. You cannot foresee what dangers and difficulties you are daily exposed to, "but the Lord is thy keeper on thy right hand; he that keepeth Israel, neither slumbers nor sleeps ;"†† thou mayest safely commit thyself into his hands in doing and suffering, "for he is thy faithful Creator :"++ thou mayest use this as the lock of the night and key
Rom. vi. 14. + Psalm cvi. 16. Heb. iii. 1. Mal. iii. 17. Rev. xxi. 7. 1 Tim. iv. 8. 1 Cor. iii. 21. ** Psalm cxix. 94.
‡ 1 John iii. 3. § 2 Cor. i. 20.
++ Psalm exxi. 3-5. 1 Pet. iv. 19.
of the morning; open and shut thy eyes with this cordial, God is mine and I am his; "now thou mayest lie down and not be afraid, thy sleep shall be sweet; for the Lord shall be thy confidence."* "The poor committeth himself to thee,† thou art the helper of the fatherless," Psal. x. 14; and it is one thing to have a mercy from God in a common, another in a covenant way. O what a blessed relish doth covenant kindness put into a mercy! This is a complicated mercy that hath many in the bowels of it; thou mayest rejoice in the mercies of thy God, but especially in the God of thy mercies amidst the sharpest dispensations. ‡ ·
3. This covenant relation shall never be dissolved. What thou hast been doing to day, shall stand for ever; it is a covenant of salt, "an everlasting covenant that shall not be forgotten; mountains may depart, and bills be removed-but this covenant of peace shall not be removed; God will not leave you, nor forsake you ;" and he takes care and orders "that you shall not forsake him." Is this worth nothing in this uncertain world? You may lose estates, credit, houses, relations, spiritual comforts, necessary supplies, but shall never lose your God; this is worth something in a suffering day. God is faithful and omnipotent; "no man can pluck you out of his hands;" God the Son will not lose such as are given him, "he saves to the utmost," and ever lives to make intercession for you. God the Holy Ghost "shall be in you a well of water springing up unto everlasting life." Covenant grace sets the soul's "feet in an even place; and he that walketh uprightly walketh surely,"** he treads strong on the
Prov. iii. 24-26.
Ezek. xxxiv. 25.
+ Heb.leaveth himself with thee. Deut. xxvi. 11. Hab.iii. 16-18.
|| Jer. 1. 5. Isa. liv. 9, 10. Heb. xiii. 5. Jer. xxxii. 40.
Heb. vii. 25.
¶ John iv. 14.
§ John x. 28. John xvii. 12.
ground, like one whose feet are sound; though sharp stones lie in his way, he goes over them safely ;. nothing turns him back, "for the eternal God is his refuge, and underneath him are everlasting arms ;" and God is able to "keep him from falling, and to present him blameless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy."* O the happiness of a covenanted soul; when he is called out to more than ordinary service or suffering, God gives more than ordinary supplies, both of strength to bear troubles and of consolation; "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand;"† he hath some auxiliaries that another hath not, and shall be brought safe to land whatever shipwrecks he may suffer.
4. This personal covenant now contracted, will render death welcome, and will bring thee safe to heaven. That death which dissolves all other bonds, confirms this; death is a stingless serpent, it cannot hurt you; and though it be an enemy to nature, in breaking the nerves, or ligaments of soul and body, yet it is a friend to grace, perfecting that and joining it fully to its present source. Death is a dark valley, that makes the stoutest champions tremble when they enter it, yet David could say, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”‡ Direction and protection are worth something through that strange passage which you never went before, and which leads you into an endless state. O what trembling qualms have come upon poor sinners' spirits when they have entered these straits. A mighty emperor dying, cried out, "O my poor wandering, self-flattering soul,
+ Psalm xxxvii. 24.
* Deut. xxxiii. 27. Jude, 24. Psalm xxii. 4.