« AnteriorContinuar »
day, that blessed day of refreshment that comes from the presence of the Lord, * what then will it be worth to have the favour of the Judge ? no matter then who be friends, or who enemies, if I may have Christ on my side, blessed be God I have now a friend in the court, Jesus Christ my Saviour, my advocate, he it is that then shall be Judge, who will own his members, and not forget his brethren, but will proclaim that joyful welcome into his Father's kingdom, “Come ye blessed of my Father,” † come up hither, and sit with me in my throne, even as I overcame and sat with my Father in his throne, welcome my dear saints, ye have been faithful to death, I will also give you a crown of life; you owned me on earth, I will also own you in heaven; you chose my favour above the world, you shall have my favour, and not the world; you shall be placed on my right hand, but others on my left; you were once in favour with me, and you are now in favour, and shall continue so for ever; come into my everlasting embraces, this is the state I purchased for you, promised to you, these are the mansions I went before to prepare for you, || this is the kingdom which I told you, it was your Father's good pleasure to give unto you, it is God's gift,s not your desert, it is the fruit of God's favour, not your labour. I know it, Lord, I know it, saith the soul, this could not be from my earning, for it is by grace and mere favour that I am what I am, and what can such a one deserve; therefore am I now seeking thy favour, now at the last struggle, that I may lie down in my grave in peace, sleep in the dust as on a bed of spices, and rise with thy saints into glory. In the mean time being fortified with thy favour, I can bid adieu to this weary * Acts ii. 19. + Matt. xxv. 34.
# Rev. iii. 21. || John. xiv. 2. § Luke xii. 32. Rom. vi. 23. Isa. lvii. 2.
world, welcome death, hope for life, and therefore my heart is glad, my glory rejoiceth, my flesh also shall rest in hope, * “ For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. And though, after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God : whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another: though my reins be consumed within me." Job xix. 25—27.
OF WHAT NATURE THAT LIFE IS WHICH PRO
CEEDS FROM THE FAVOUR OF GOD.
THERE is one thing more in the doctrinal part of this subject, of which I shall briefly speak, before I proceed to the application, which is, the reason why a Christian's life is in God's favour: to illustrate and confirm this point, I may shew,
First, What life proceeds from God's favour.
Secondly, Why saints esteem God's favour to be. their life.
First, What is the nature of that life which is in God's favour? Besides what was spoken in explication of a natural, comfortable, and spiritually joyful life, all which depend on God's favour; I shall more particularly open a fourfold life of the Christian, which is contained in, and flows from the favour of God, namely,
A life of justification, sanctification, covenant supplies, and glory.
* Psal. xvi. 9, 10.
1. Of justification; a justified state is life. As a man condemned is dead legally, so pardon brings him a new life in a legal sense; thus the just shall live by faith, Rom. i. 17, that is, by applying the righteousness of Christ to sinners by faith, for their justification, which is the gospel way of justification : now this work is of grace and favour, not of debt, Rom. iv. 4. Mere favour that God would appoint and accept satisfaction from the surety, and not demand full payment from the debtor; so that “to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness,” Rom. iv. 5. This is the stupendous contrivance of free grace; poor sinners that cannot pay a farthing in order to satisfy justice, yet are reckoned clear upon accepting Christ by faith, and that faith also a free gift, a fruit of covenant grace ; here is favour upon favour, favour witha witness. Surely, a poor arrested debtor accounts it a great favour, if a friend will be bound for him, much more if he pay the whole debt, most of all, if he furnish him with means to perform the conditions ; God hath done all this for believers. O what astonishing mercy is this! what an admirable contrivance of grace! God just still, the law in force still, sin hateful, the poor soul sinning, and can do nothing to satisfy, yet accepted as righteous in God's sight, as if he had fully answered the demands of the law. This is the proper result produced by infinite grace and wisdom.
2. A life of sanctification originates in divine favour. This in scripture is called life also, Gal. ii. 20, “ I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,” by his image, and his Spirit working in my heart, bringing forth vital acts, eternal life within, and a spiritual grace without, in holy performances and new obedience; all this is from covenant love, and favour as scripture assures
us,* God's favour is the proper cause of the being of grace, “it gives grace and renders souls acceptable.” + Grace were not grace, if not freely given. Paul saith, “ By the
grace of God I am what I am," 1 Cor. xv. 10. It is God's favour that draws out the habits of grace into exercise; “For,” saith our Saviour, “without me you can do nothing, John xv. 5, and “it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do,” Phil. ii. 13. All that spring of grace in the heart, and those rivers of living waters which flow from believers, proceed from covenant favour, John vii. 38. The very God of peace must sanctify wholly, and he alone fills with fruits of righteousness, he gives progress in sanctification, power to perform religious duties, and fresh assistance for new undertakings. Let none say we deny holiness, because we exclude it a place in a sinner's justification, for these are inseparable companions; we allow it the place which scripture assigns it, though we dare not put it into the room of Christ's blood, it is certain where Christ is a Saviour he will be a sovereign, his benefits and his person cannot be divided, the virtue of his death and resurrection, goes along with their value; newness of life and heart is as necessary in its place, as freedom from wrath and condemnation. Now Christ is made sanctification as well as righteousness ; || and no question but a sincere saint pursues after holiness, and blesseth God for knocking off his fetters, as well as paying his debts. Though a prisoner be set at liberty, yet he is not satisfied, unless he have his mortal disease healed. Spiritual health and strength of soul to serve God are unspeakable favours, as well as deliverance from guilt and wrath; God is the author,
* Jer. xxxi. 33. Ezek. xxxvi. 25-27. + Gratia gratiam dans, et gratiam faciens. # 1 Thess. v. 23. Col. i. 10. || Rom. viii. 1, 2. 1 Cor. i. 30.
and Christ the purchaser, while a believing soul is the possessor of both.
3. A life of covenant supply is from God's favour. God's blessing makes our comforts effectual to attain the end designed in their use; for “ man lives not by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord.”—Deut. viii. 3. Alas, how can dead things preserve life in us? God's blessing is the staff of our bread, the support of our lives, and the ground of all our hopes; what have we to depend upon but this? But that which we mean here is covenant supply, by virtue of a promise, and when all things come as tokens of God's favour. Phil. iv. 19, “ My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." O blessed word! (1.)
My God.” (2.) “ Riches in glory,” or glorious riches. (3.) “ By Christ Jesus.”
No wonder now if wants be supplied, all wants of soul and body, and that in a covenant way. It is an admirable text, hath much marrow in it, which an active faith will fetch out. The word of God is full of expressions to this purpose, that there is no want to them that fear him, and that God gives the desire of the saint's heart.* Nor do these come as common mercies, but as tokens of special favour; hence Jer. xxxii. 41, “Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart, and with my whole soul.” Here is favour with favour. Sometimes God gives gifts, that may in a sort be called giftless, when he gives not himself or his special love, so he gave Israel quails in wrath ; f for it is one thing for God to give a mercy,
* Psal. xxxiv. 9, 10. xxxvii. 3, 4, 11, 22, 26. lxxxiv. 11, 12. cxxviii. 1, 2. cxxxö. 15. Matt. vi. 33. + Psal. lxxviii. 29, 31.