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Suppose this doctrine be true, that Christ liveth in all believers; that he hath a greater hand and stroke in the actions, the spiritual actions of believers, than themselves have; what conclusions or practical meditations shall we draw from hence?
I will name some and lay them before you; carry them
home with you.
If these things be true, then may every one say, Now I see that the in-being of Christ in the soul, is not a mere fancy, a mere notion, but carries with it the greatest reality in the world. For when Christ is in a believer, there he lives, acts and works : yea, and he hath a greater stroke in the spiritual actions of believers than themselves have. Surely therefore, this in-being of Christ in the soul, is a work of power, of almighty power, the same power that raised up Christ from the dead.
If these things be true, then here may a man say, I see a great and vast difference between a godly and a wicked man. Take a wicked man, and though he be never so great or rich, yet Satan is in him, Satan liveth in him and ruleth in
the prince of the air ruleth in him, and he is taken captive by the devil at his will. But now take a godly man, and though he be never so poor and mean, yet Christ is in him, Christ liveth in him, Christ hath a greater hand and stroke in his actions than himself hath. Take a wicked man of the highest form, and though he do pray, hear, read, confer or speak of good things, yet not Christ, but himself works and acts in him ; self worketh and acteth him. But take a godly man, and though he be never so weak, Christ liveth in him, and hath a greater hand in his actions than himself. Who would not be godly, who would not get into Jesus Christ?
If these things be true, what desperate madness is it for any to oppose the saints and children of God, especially for the matter of their religion and gracious actions ? It is opposition done unto Christ himself. Christ liveth in them. And the Lord Christ doth so live in a gracious man, a believer, as he hath a greater stroke in all his prayers and in all his duties than himself hath. Then for a man to stand and scorn, scoff and jeer at the prayers, duties and gracious actions of a believer, what is it, but to make opposition to
Christ himself? If there be ever an opposer, a scorner in this congregation, Poor soul! where wilt thou appear in the great day?
If all these things be true, then may every believer say, Now see what a great evil it is for any child of God to say that his duties are nothing but hypocrisy, or the work of Christ hypocrisy. Do ye look upon the work of Jesus Christ as so vile and base ? nothing more base in your eye than hypocrisy. If Christ be in me, he liveth in me, he hath a greater hand and stroke in all my spiritual actions than myself hath. Therefore, through the grace of God, I will be for ever wary how I say of my own duties again, they are all nothing but vile hypocrisy.
If these things be true, then here now I see the reason why a believer is and ought to be thankful to God for all those things that he doth to God and for God; not only thankful for what he receiveth from God, but thankful for what himself doth offer unto God. We read of David, that when he and his people had offered a great offering, he praiseth the Lord for his own willingness to offer unto the Lord. So a believer is not only to be thankful for what he receiveth from God, but also for what he himself doth do to God and for God. Why? Because it is not he that doth it, but Christ living in him; and the Lord Christ hath a greater stroke in that action which he doth to God, or for God, than himself hath. Therefore infinite reason why we should not only be thankful for what we receive from God, but for what we do to and for God.
If all this be true, then here we see a mighty engagement for every poor believer to come unto duty, although his heart be dead, dull, heavy and indisposed unto it; because it is not he, but Christ worketh in him in duty. Am I therefore dead, dull, heavy and indisposed to prayer or any duty; yet will I go and offer myself unto God in prayer. Either Jesus Christ will come down upon my prayer, God will come down in my duty, or else he will not. If the Lord do, what a mercy shall it be unto me. If the Lord do not come down while I am at duty, and work all my work for me, it shall be my affliction, and I will mourn after God. But whether the Lord does come down in my duty, or whether he does not, it is as it pleaseth him; I will wait upon the Lord, for it is he that worketh in us mightily. Oh, my so
therefore for ever wait upon God in duty, yea, although my heart be hard, dead, dull and indisposed thereunto.
If all this be true, what gracious, holy, heavenly lives should all those lead that pretend to the word, believer. Some there are that do pretend to the word, believer—I am a believer; and they say they have faith. But if I have faith indeed, then Christ liveth in me: not the world liveth in me,
but Christ liveth in me; not malice liveth in me, but Christ liveth in me; not pride liveth in me, but Christ liveth in me. But how many are there, poor souls, that may say in truth, Pride liveth in me, and malice liveth in me, and the world liveth in me, but Christ liveth not in me. And will ye say then, that ye have faith? Let us not be deceived. But if this be true, that Christ liveth in all believers, what gracious and holy conversations should the conversations of believers be; and whensoever you fail in any thing, you should even say, Yea, but would Christ do so ? My soul, thus and thus hast thou spoken, but would Christ have spoken thus and thus?
If all this be true, why should we not all stand, wonder, and admire at the infinite love of Christ? It was much love in Christ, for to come down into our nature ; it was yet more for to come down into our hearts by his Spirit; yet more for to live, act and work there: but the Lord Christ, he is not only come down into our nature, come down into our hearts, for to live, act and work there: but the Lord Christ hath an eye upon all our actions, the Lord Christ hath a greater stroke in all our spiritual actions than ourselves have; he is at the beginning, and he is at the middle, and he is at the latter end of every action. Had the Lord Christ only given himself for us, what a great mercy had it been; but he hath given himself to us, not only for us, but to us; he cometh and liveth in a believer : he liveth more in a believer, than a believer doth himself. What love, mercy and grace is here! You that are believers, do you know your own privilege ? What is it to have Christ living in you? Only hear the word of exhortation, you that are made partakers of this great privilege, Christ living in you: “ Christ in you the hope of glory,” Col. i. 27. Labour now to hold forth the virtues of Jesus Christ in your lives. And when ye have done all, then walk humbly, walk humbly with your God,
and say as Paul here of the true believer, “ I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” I have been now at prayer, yet not I, but Christ prayed in me: I have been now at conference, and spoke such and such good words; yet not I, but Christ worketh in me, speaketh in me. Upon this account let us all labour to walk humbly with our God, for it is Christ more than you, Christ hath a greater stroke in all your actions than yourselves have; therefore now let every man say, “ I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”