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action is more seen than his. We, saith he, are led by the Spirit.
As for our grace in suffering ; the deportment and demeanour of a gracious soul in the time of suffering, see what our Saviour Christ says for that, in the xth of Matthew 19th and 20th verses: “But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak : for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." So that he hath a greater stroke in the grace and carriage of a soul under his sufferings than himself hath.
As for the matter of our assurance. You know also what the apostle Paul saith, in that same viiith of the Romans, “ Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father : the Spirit itself bearing witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God.” So that now all these five things are clear. And if the Spirit and Christ in a believer, the Spirit of Christ, have a greater stroke in a man's conversion, in his performance, in his obedience, in the grace of his suffering, and in his assurance, than himself hath : then surely, the Lord Jesus Christ hath a greater hand and stroke in spiritual actions of believers, than themselves have; now that is proved.
To give you one reason for it. If a believer had a greater hand and stroke in his spiritual actions, than the Spirit of Christ; then had he whereon to boast: for he might say thus : I have now been at duty; I confess I have had some help from Christ, and from the Spirit ; but I had the greatest hand and stroke therein myself, and therefore why should I not boast? I have been now at prayer, and though I have had some help from the Spirit in prayer, yet I had the greatest hand and stroke therein myself, therefore why should I not boast? But, saith the apostle, boasting is excluded : surely therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ doth so live in a christian, as that he hath a greater hand and stroke, in all the actions of his spiritual life, than a christian, or a believer hath himself; so that he may say truly, “ I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me."
If this be true; surely there are few believers in the world; how few are there in whom Christ lives thus? I
fear upon this account, will some poor soul say, that I have no faith in Jesus Christ: I thought once that I had faith in Christ, and that I was a believer, but I do not find Christ living in me thus, that the Lord Jesus hath a greater hand and stroke, in all my duties than myself, and therefore I fear that I never yet had faith : are there not few believers in the world upon this account?
I grant it, there are few believers in the world, few that have faith, few in whom Christ lives thus. But that this doctrine may not be a stone of stumbling to any weak christian, you must know this : That it is with Christ in us, living in us, as it was with Christ without us, living without
When the Lord Christ came into the world, and lived here on earth, lived without us : he lived a conflicting life, a life under temptations, and freedom from those temptations; desertions, and freedom from those desertions: his life here on earth was a hidden life, a veiled life; “ He came unto his own, and his own received him not,” John i. 11; and knew him not: his own would not say, Now our Lord Christ is among us.
So when Christ comes into the soul by his Spirit, when he lives there, he lives a conflicting life: he hath his temptations there, and his freedom from those temptations; he hath his desertions there, and his freedom from those desertions: he liveth a hidden life there, a veiled life there; he comes to his own, and many times the soul that is his own, doth not receive him in a way of comfort, is not able to say, Christ liveth in me.
But whoever you are that make this objection, or lie under this fear; give me leave to propound four or five questions to you.
1. What is that in you, that doth ordinarily sway the great actions of your lives? When the Lord Christ comes into the soul, he comes as a king, presently ascendeth the throne, and takes hold of the scepter; interests himself in all that doth sway the soul, and sways the actions of the soul : now what is it that doth sway a man's actions? Finis actionis domina et regina est. The end sways the action. And look what that is that doth sway your end, that is it which liveth in
if self swayeth your end, self liveth in you; if Christ sway your end, Christ liveth in you. Now, soul, take all the actions of thy life, since thou hast set thy face towards hea
you; if self
ven, and as for the great turnings of your life, and the great actions, hath not Christ been at the end of them?
2. Do you not find a secret kind of disposition unto all the commandments of the gospel ? Where the Spirit is, there Christ liveth. When the Lord makes a covenant of grace, you shall observe he promiseth, that he will give his Spirit, and withal that he will write his law in our hearts : and when he promiseth in the covenant of grace, that he will write his law in our hearts, he doth also promise for to give his Spirit. As when the Lord gave out the law at first to mankind, he did write the moral law in man's heart: so that the heathen now have the law written in their hearts, the moral law; whereby they are disposed and inclined to morality and civility : so when the Lord comes and makes a covenant of grace with the soul, then he doth give out his Spirit to the soul, and then he doth write his law, the law of grace, love and of the gospel, in that soul, and that soul hath a secret disposition unto all the commandments of the gospel. Now do you not find it thus with you? when sometimes you are tempted to what is evil, do not ye say thus, I cannot do it; O Lord, thou knowest I cannot live as I have done, and I cannot want the presence of God and Christ. What means this cannot, but a law within, that God hath written in the heart; there is the Spirit, and there is Christ?
3. Do not you find your souls sometimes carried out to what is good, beyond and contrary to your own dispositions and natural inclinations? It is written of Trajan the Emperor, that he was an exceeding meek, loving, quiet, good natured man; and yet he was one of the greatest persecutors in the primitive times, he had his hand in as bloody actions against the saints, as any persecutor in those times : yet a man of a quiet, loving, sweet nature and disposition. How came this to pass ? He was acted by Satan, and being thus acted beyond his own disposition and inclination, it argued that Satan had a greater hand and stroke in his action than himself had. So, when a man shall be carried on to what is good, even contrary to his own nature and disposition, what doth this argue, but that the Lord Christ hath a greater hand and stroke in that action than himself hath.
. Do not you find sometimes, whoever you are that make this objection, or lie under this fear, that Christ doth
not live in you; do not you find, that sometimes your soul is carried out to what is good, beyond what you intended ? When Zaccheus went up into the sycamore-tree, he only went up to see the outside of Christ; but he comes down, receives Christ into his house, there he bids him welcome and saith, “ Lord, behold the half of my goods I give to the poor," Luke xix. 8. Zaccheus never intended this when he went up to see Christ: what is the reason? The Lord Christ
upon his soul, the Lord Christ at work upon him; and because he was carried out farther in this good work than ever he intended, it thereby doth appear, that the Lord Jesus Christ had a greater stroke in this spiritual action of his than himself had. As on the other side, a wicked man sometimes he begins to sin; and saith he within himself, I will do it but a little, I will not go very far, I will never do it again, I will now take
leave of this sin, it shall never be acted by me any more.
But he goes farther in it than ever he intended; Why? because the devil hath a greater stroke upon him than himself hath. So here, when as a man's soul shall be carried out unto what is good beyond what he intended, this argues that the Lord Jesus Christ is at work upon his soul, and hath a greater hand and stroke upon his actions, his spiritual actions than himself hath. Now is it not thus with thee?
5. Whoever thou art, man or woman, that makes this objection, and lies under this fear, that the Lord Christ doth not live in thee; were you never persuaded of this, did you never yet think, that Christ was in you; did
you never yet believe that Christ lived in you? Yes, I confess I had such thoughts once; but oh, I have lost those thoughts, I have lost those persuasions. But when you had those thoughts, and when you had those persuasions, how came you by them? My soul was lying in a sad, dark, dead, hardened condition; my soul was ready to sink with despair : and all on a sudden, my soul was raised up within me to this persuasion, for to think that Christ was in me, and that Christ liveth in me. Well, either these thoughts were from Satan, or from Christ; either this persuasion of yours was from Satan, or it was from Christ: not from Satan, for Satan doth not use to be so loving to a poor tempted soul, to bear it up when it is ready to sink under temptation ; Satan doth
not use to be so loving to a poor soul to free it from despair: then it was from Christ; and if it were from Jesus Christ, then Christ had a greater hand and stroke in this persuasion than thy own soul; for thou sayest, I was dead, dull, hardened, ready to sink ; and I said, Mercy is gone, I shall never see the face of Christ again ; and all on a sudden these persuasions were raised in me. Here Christ plainly hath a greater stroke in this persuasion than thy own soul.
Upon all this I do now appeal unto you, whoever you are that lie under any of these fears, hath it not been thus with you, that all on a sudden you have been raised to these persuasions? Do not you find that sometimes your soul hath been carried out to God, even contrary to your own inclination and disposition? Do not you find that sometimes your soul hath been carried out to what is good, beyond all that you intend; you thought to begin prayer a little while, and hath not the Lord sometimes come in, and carried out your soul farther than ever you intended ? Do you not find a secret disposition or inclination to all the commandments of the gospel of Jesus Christ? Do you not find that in the greatest actions and turnings of your lives, Christ hath been at the end thereof? Oh yes, if I should speak true I must needs say this, Although I have not seen Christ at the end of every action, yet as for the great actions and turnings of my life, I must needs say Christ hath been there. And the Lord knows I have a secret disposition to the commandments of the gospel. And, O Lord, thou knowest that I have been carried out many times to what is good, contrary to mine own disposition. O Lord, thou knowest I have been carried further in a way of good than ever I intended. O Lord, thou knowest when my soul hath been dead, hardened, and I have said, Now mercy is gone, and I am driven from mercy; then, then hath there been persuasions raised in me, that Jesus Christ is in me. Well, be of good comfort, soul, be of good comfort from the Lord. If thou hast these persuasions, do not check them; and it for the present you have not these persuasions, yet wait on the Lord, for our Saviour Christ hath said, “ I will send the Comforter; and in that day ye shall know, that I am in you, and you in me,' John xiv. 20: and therefore wait upon Christ for that day.