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“ I through the law, am dead to the law, that I might live to God;" I a believer; and I am crucified with Christ. I a believer. And, “Nevertheless I live.” All along he does personate a believer, and does not speak in his own person, but in the person of a believer. And he says here, “ Nevertheless I live." He had said before, that “ justified by faith alone, and not by the works of the law;" and that a believer was crucified with Christ. Now, says he, this doctrine that I have preached unto you, is no way opposite unto our spiritual life, or unto our holiness; yet, now I live, or “nevertheless I live.”
From whence then you may observe these two things.
First, That every true believer, every godly, gracious man, is a living man, lives a spiritual life, is in the state of life.
Secondly, That our justification by faith alone, and our being crucified with Christ; is no enemy, but a friend unto this spiritual life. 66 Nevertheless I live.”
First of all. Every godly, gracious man, is a living man, is in the state of life, lives a spiritual life.
And this ye have most expressly, in that vith chapter of John, at the 40th verse : - This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” But, though he shall have everlasting life hereafter, it may be he hath not this life for the present. Look therefore what he says at the 47th verse, “ Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” It is not said, he shall have everlasting life, but he hath everlasting life; everlasting life is begun in him already. And that ye may be the more sure of it, he gives you a double verily, “ Verily, verily I say unto ye, he that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” But how can this be? Nay, how should it be otherwise ? for a man's life is as his meat is; and says our Saviour, “I am the bread of life,” at the 48th verse. Then at the 54th verse,
66 Whosoever eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life. For my flesh (at the 55th verse) is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed; he that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” So that ye see, this
chapter is full of it, here is a cloud of witnesses. I say, therefore, That every godly, gracious man, is a living man, and fives another life from the life of the world, a spiritual life, and is in the state of spiritual life.
I. For the opening of this truth unto ye, we must first of all inquire, What this spiritual life is ? Take therefore this description of it: It is that supernatural perfection of soul, whereby a man being united unto Christ, by the Spirit, is able to act, move, and work towards God as his utmost end.
1. It is a supernatural perfection. There is some perfection in every life. Life is the greatest good and perfection, death is the greatest evil. Therefore when the Lord threatened Adam, to punish him for eating the forbidden fruit, he says, “The day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die the DEATH, Gen. ii. 17. Death is the greatest evil, and so life is the greatest good and perfection. And this the devil knew full well, when he said, “ Skin for skin, and all that a man hath will he give for his life,” Job ii. 4. So that life is a perfection. But I say, this spiritual life, it is the supernatural perfection of the soul. And therefore in the ivth chapter of the Ephesians, and the 18th verse, this life of the saints, the very life of the saints is called, the life of God. It is a supernatural perfection of the soul therefore.
2. As it is a supernatural perfection of soul, so it rises from our union with Christ, by the Spirit. A man is united to God by faith, and by the Spirit: and as our outward life does arise from the union between the soul and the body; and though the body be never so fair or full, yet if it be not united to the soul, it is but a dead carcase: so our spiritual life, it doth arise from our union with Christ; and though a man have never so many moral virtues, and his conversation be never so fair, yet if not united to Christ by the Spirit, he is but a dead man, spiritually a dead man.
And therefore saith the apostle here in the text, “ Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”
3. As it arises from our union with Christ, by the Spirit; so, I say, it is that supernatural perfection, whereby a man is able to act, and move, and work towards God as his utmost and last end. And therefore says the apostle in the former verse, “I through the law, am dead unto the law, that I may
live to God;" to God, as my last and my utmost end. And when a man is able to act, and move, and work towards God, as his last and utmost end, then he is said to live spiritually. So that when ye hare this description of our spiritual life, I repeat it again, it is that supernatural perfection of soul, whereby a man being united unto Christ, by the Spirit, is able to act, and move, and work towards God, as his utmost end.
II. Whereby may it appear, that every godly, gracious man, is thus a living man, made partaker of this spiritual life, so as to be able to act, and move, and work towards God as his utmost end?
I will take but the three ordinary lives that are in the world. The vegetative life, the life of plants and herbs. The sensitive life, the life of beasts. And the rational life, the life of man. And I will shew ye, that the essential properties of all these lives, are in a spiritual way in the godly; and then the argument will lie thus : if the essential properties of all these lives be in a spiritual way in every godly man: then certainly, every godly, gracious man, is a living man, and in the state of life; living another life from the life of the world.
1. Take the life of plants and herbs, or of flowers, and what is the essential property of the vegetative life? It is to grow; no sooner hath a thing the vegetative life, but it does grow. All plants, and herbs, and flowers, they grow, and trees they grow, because they have this vegetative life. And so the saints do, they grow in grace. It is said of them in the lxxxivth Psalm, " They go from strength to strength.” It is an Hebraism, and it notes augmentation; from, to, notes augmentation. And the like Hebraisms ye have in the New Testament. In Rom. i. 27. “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed, from faith to faith.” It notes the augmentation of faith. And so in 2 Cor. iii. 18,“ But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory." It notes an augmentation of glory. And so, “ They go from strength to strength.” That is, they grow in strength; it notes, an augmentation of their strength. But suppose they do want the means, and want the ordinances; do they grow then ? Yes. It is that which is said in the same Psalm ;
“ Though they walk through the valley of Baca, and be in a dry place, where no water is; yet they go on from strength to strength.” And,“ we all with open face beholding as in glass, the mirror of the Lord, are changed from glory to glory.” Not some, but all; all believers, and all the godly, they do grow in grace. And this ye know, is the difference between a painted child, and a living child; take a living child, and though he be but little, and very weak, yet he grows bigger. But now, a child that is painted upon a wall, a painted child grows not: and if a man come to ye
say, What is the reason that this child does not grow? two or three years agone he was as big as now he is? you will easily answer, Because he is but a painted child, he is not a living child ; if he were a living child he would grow. Now the saints and people of God, they grow in grace, and therefore they are living children: they are living children, and therefore they grow in grace. .
2. What is the essential property of the sensitive life, of the life of beasts, of the life of birds? for they live another life than the life of trees, and flowers, and herbs; what is the essential property of that kind of life? The essential property of that kind of life is, To be sensible of good or evil suitable unto it. And so the saints and people of God are : they are sensible also, they are not past feeling, as it is said of wicked men, but they are sensible of things suitable to them. Indeed, they have not the sense and feeling of things as they would, or do desire : but there are three things which the saints and people of God are all sensible of. They are sensible of their sins; especially if they be committed against their knowledge. They are sensible of the hidings of God's face from them. And they are sensible of the church's miseries.
They are very sensible of their sins: and therefore Paul crics out,
" () wretched man that I am! I find a law in my members; O wretched man that I am !” Rom. vii. 23, 24. Ye read in other places of his epistles, he says, “ He will rejoice concerning his afflictions and infirmities," 2 Cor. xii. 10. He tells us how he was stoned, and how he was imprisoned, scourged, whipped; and in all that, he does not cry out 66 O wretched man that I am ! But now, finding the law in his members, he is more sensible of that than of any afflic
tion; here now he cries out, “ O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver !”
And as for the hiding of God's face : the people of God are the most sensible of that too. For ye know what David said, “ As a sword in my bones, while they said unto me, Where is now thy God?” Psalm xlii. 10. The Lord had hid his face from him. Oh, says he, this is a sword in my bones, while men say unto me, Where is now thy God? And so our Lord and Saviour Christ, when he was upon the cross, he cries out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matt. vii. 46. He does not cry out unto his apostles and disciples, Why have you forsaken me? They all left him, and yet he did not say, 0 Thomas, O Peter, O Matthew, oh, all my les and apostles, why have you forsaken me? And the sun had withdrawn his light; and he does not say, Why hast thou forsaken me? He felt many pains, being pierced through, nailed unto the cross; and yet he does not cry out and say, Oh, what pains and tortures do I feel! but, as sensible of this more than of all his outward torment, he cries out, “ My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And as it is with the Head, so it is with the members.
And, as unto the miseries of the churches. Ye know how it was with Jeremiah ; " Oh, that my head were a fountain of tears, that I could weep day and night for the slain of my people,” Jer. ix. 1. Thus, I say, a godly man, though he have not the sense and feeling of his sin, and of other things as he would have, yet these three things he is especially sensible of: sensible of his own sin, especially that committed against knowledge; the hiding of God's face from him; and the miseries of the churches. Surely, therefore, he is alive, he hath this essential property of this life in a spiritual way, and therefore he is alive, and in the state of life.
3. Take now the third life, the life of reason, the rational life, the life of man. And what is the essential property of that life? It is to understand, to know, and to reflect upon a man's own actions, whether they be good or evil. A beast does many actions, but a beast hath not power to reflect upon his own action, to consider whether it be good or evil when he hath done the action. Herein a man is distinct from a beast. A beast understands not, knows not, is not able to reflect upon his own action, and to consider whether it be