Billeder på siden

jects, disciples of this Christ. But the person of Christ we only receive by such an active, moral, reputative reception, as a servant by consent receives a master, a patient by consent receives a physician, a wife by consent receives a husband, and as a scholar or pupil by consent receives a teacher or tutor, or the subjects by consent receive a sovereign. So that it is the same thing that is called, "receiving Jesus the Lord," and, "believing in him," as it is expounded, John i. 12. There are three great observable acts of faith essential to it; the first is, Assent to the truth of the Gospel. The second is, Consent or acceptance of Christ and life, as the offered good. The third is, Affiance in Christ for the accomplishing of the ends of his office. Now the word 'faith' doth most properly express the first act and the last, and the word 'receiving' doth most properly express the middlemost; but whichever term is used, when it is justifying faith that is spoken of, all three are intended or included. By what hath been said, you may discern whether you have received Christ or not; for your faith may be known by these acts which are its parts. 1. If you sincerely believe the Gospel to be true; which must be with a belief so strong at least, as that you are resolved to venture your happiness upon this belief, and let go all for the hope that is set before you. 2. If an offered Christ, in his relation as a full and perfect Saviour, be heartily welcome to you. If you consent to the Gospel offer, and are but truly willing to be his, and that he be yours in that relation. Faith is not only called a "receiving of Christ," but is oft expressed by this term of "willing" him; and therefore the promise is to “whosoever will;" Rev. xxii. 17. and the wicked are denied a part in Christ, because "they will not have him reign over them;" Luke xix. 27. or "will not come to him that they may have life;" John vi. 40. even because they "would have none of him ;" Psalm lxxxi. 11, 12. which is, because they are not true believers or disciples of Christ. 3. If you thus by consent take Christ for your Saviour, Teacher, and Lord, it must needs follow that you fiducially rely upon him, or trust him to accomplish the ends of his relations; that you trust to him for deliverance from the guilt, and power, and punishment of sin, and for quickening, strengthening, and preserving grace, and for everlasting life, that you resign yourselves up to him as his disciples, to learn of him,


with a confidence or trust, that he will infallibly teach you the way to happiness. And that you also give up yourselves to him as his subjects, with a trust that he will govern you in truth and righteousness, in order to your salvation, and will defend you from destroying enemies. This much is of the very being of faith, or the "receiving Christ Jesus the Lord;" and these parts are inseparable; he that hath one in truth, hath all. Whenever we find in Scripture, the promise of justification or salvation made to us, if we believe, it is this believing, and none but this, that is intended. It is not only believing in Christ as a sacrifice or priest, that is the faith which justifieth, and believing in him as a Teacher or Lord, that sanctifieth: the effects are not thus parcelled out to several essential parts of this same faith but it is this one entire faith in all these essential parts, that is the undivided condition of all these benefits; and in that way of a condition of the free promise it doth procure them. So much for the meaning of the first words, "Receiving Christ Jesus the Lord." I will be briefer about the next. The second, is, "walking in him," which is no more but the living as Christians, when once we are become Christians, and using that Christ to the ends which we received him for, when once we have received him. Two things are necessary to such as we, that have lost our way: the first is, to get into the right way (and that is to get into Christ, who is the way): the other is to travel on when we are in it for it is not enough to bring us to our journey's end, that we have found out the right way. The next word to be explained, is," rooted;" which doth not intimate that any are really planted into Christ, without any rooting in him at all; but by "rooted," is meant, "deeply rooted;" for the roots increase under ground, as well as the tree above ground. Rooting hath two ends, and both are here implied: the first is for the firmness of the tree, that blustering winds may not overturn it. The second is for nutriment, that it may receive that nourishment from the earth, which may cause its preservation, growth, and fruitfulness. This is the rootedness of Christians in Christ, that they may be confirmed in him against all assaults, and may draw from him that nutriment that is necessary to their growth and fruit. The next term is, "built up in him." No house consisteth of a bare foundation. Five things are expressly contained in

our being "built up in him." The first is, that we are united or conjoined to him, as the building is on the foundation. The second is, that we rest wholly on him as our support, as the building doth on the foundation. The third is, that we are also conjoined one unto another, and are become one spiritual building in the Lord. The fourth is, that the fabric doth increase in bigness, as the house doth by being built up; so that it importeth our increase in grace, and the increase of the church by us. The fifth is, the fitness of the building to its intended ends and use; till it be built up, it is not fit for habitation; and till Christians are built up, God hath not that use of them to which he doth intend them. The next term is, "stablished or confirmed in the faith," which signifieth but that strengthening and fixing of us that may prevent our falling or shaking; and it compriseth these two things: first, that we be soundly bottomed on Christ, who is our foundation. And secondly, that we be cemented and firmly joined to each other. And this comprehendeth their stability in the doctrine of faith: and therefore he addeth "as ye have been taught," to fortify them against heresies, which indeed are all but novelties; that so they may know how to try the doctrines that afterwards should be offered them, and stick fast to that which the apostles taught. He next requireth them to abound therein," to let them know that as it is no small matters that they expect by Christ, so they should not rest in small degrees of grace or duty; but especially the duty of thanksgiving," which is an evangelical and celestial duty, and so admirably beseems a people that have partaken of such admirable salvation, and is so suitable to our mercies, and our condition, and God's just expectation. As it is love and grace, whose eternal praise is designed by the Gospel, and are magnified in the church by the Redeemer's great and blessed work: so it is returns of love, and praise, and joy, that should be the most abounding or overflowing part of all our Christian affections and performances. After this explication, you may see that the sense of the text lieth plain in this proposition.

[ocr errors]


Doct. Those that have savingly received Christ Jesus the Lord, must be so far from resting here as if all were done, that they must spend the rest of their days in walking in him, being rooted and built up in him, and stablished in

the faith as the apostles taught it, and abounding in it, es pecially with joyful praises to our Redeemer.'

And because that my design is only to direct young Christians how they may come to be established and confirmed in Christ, I shall therefore pass over all other things that the full handling of this text requireth; and shall only give you, I. A short intimation here, what this confirmation and stability is, (which shall be more fully opened to you in the Directions). II. And shew you the need of seeking it. And III. How you may attain it.

I. This confirmation is the habitual strength of grace, distinct from present actual confirmation by the influence of grace from God; for though God may in an instant confirm a weak person against some particular temptation, by his free assistance, yet that is not it which we have here to speak of, but habitual confirmation in a state of grace. And ordinarily we may expect, that God's co-operating assisting grace should bear some proportion with our habitual grace. Even as in nature he concurreth with the strongest men, to do greater works than he causeth the weak to do; and with the wisest men to understand more than the foolish do: I say but that ordinarily it is thus.

A confirmed Christian as contrary to a weak one, 1. Is not to be judged of by his freedom from all scruples, doubts, or fears. 2. Nor by his eminency in men's esteem or observation. 3. Nor by his strength of memory. 4. Or freedom of utterance in praying, preaching, or discourse. 5. Or by his seemly deportment and courtesy towards others. 6. Nor by his sedate, calm, and lovely temper, and freedom from some haste and heats which other tempers are more prone to. 7. Nor by a man-pleasing or dissembling faculty to bridle the tongue, when it would open the corruption of the mind, and to suppress all words which would make others know how bad the heart is. There are many endowments laudable and desirable, which will not shew so much as sincerity in grace; and much less a state of confirmation and stability.

But confirmation lieth in the great degree of all those graces which constitute a Christian. And the great degree appeareth in the operations of them. As, 1. When holiness is as a new nature in us, and giveth us a promptitude to holy actions, and maketh us free and ready to them, and

maketh them easy and familiar to us; whereas the weak go heavily, and can scarce drive on and force their minds. 2. When there is a constancy or frequency of holy actions; which sheweth the strength and stability of holy inclinations. 3. When they are powerful to bear down oppositions and temptations, and can get over the greatest impediments in the way, and make an advantage of all resistance, and despise the most splendid baits of sin. 4. When it is still getting ground, and drawing the soul upward, and nearer to God, its rest and end: and when the heart groweth more heavenly and divine, and stranger to earth and earthly things. 5. And when holy and heavenly things are more sweet and delectable to the soul, and are sought and used with more love and pleasure. All these do shew, that the operations of grace are vigorous and strong, and consequently that the habits are so also. ́

And this confirmation should be found, 1. In the understanding. 2. In the will. 3. In the affections. 4. In the life.

1. When the mind of man hath a larger comprehension of the truths of God, and the order, and method, and usefulness of every truth: and a deeper apprehension of the certainty of them, and of the goodness of the matter expressed in them: when knowledge and faith come nearest unto sight or intention, and we have the fullest, the truest, and the firmest and most certain apprehension of things revealed and unseen; when the nature, and the reasons, and the ends and benefits of the Christian religion are all most clearly, orderly, decently, constantly and powerfully printed on the mind, then is that mind in a confirmed state.

2. When the will is guided by such a confirmed understanding, and is not brutishly resolved, he knoweth not for what or why: when light hath fixed it in such resolutions as are past all notable doubtings, deliberations, waverings, or unwilling backwardness: and a man is in seeking God and his salvation, and avoiding known sin, as a natural man is about the questions, Whether he should preserve his life, and make provision for it? And whether he should poison, or famish, or torment himself? When the inclination of the will to God, and heaven, and holiness, are most like to its natural inclination to good as good, and to its own felicity : and its action is so free as to have least indetermination, and VOL. VIII.


« ForrigeFortsæt »