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always against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh.” So that believers cannot do things for God with that perfection they desire : this grieves their
righteous souls day by day, and, with the holy apostle, makes them to cry out, “Who shall deliver us from the body of this death !" I thank God, ou Lord Jesus Christ will, but not completely before the day of our dissolution; then will the very being of sin be destroyed, and an eternal stop put to inbred, indwelling corruption. And is not this a great redemption? I am sure believers esteem it so: for there is nothing grieves the heart of a child of God so much, as the remains of indwelling sin. Again, believers are often in heaviness through manifold temptations; God sees that it is needful and good for them so to be; and though they may be highly favored, and wrapped up in communion with God, even to the third heavens, yet a messenger of Satan is often sent to buffet them, lest they should be puffed up with the abundance of revelations. But be not weary, be not faint in your minds : the time of your complete redemption draweth nigh. In heaven the wicked one shall cease from troubling you, and your weary souls shall enjoy an everlasting rest; his fiery darts cannot reach those blissful regions: Satan will never come any more to appear with, disturb, or accuse the sons of God, when once the Lord Jesus Christ shuts the door. Your righteous souls are now grieved, day by day, at the ungodly conversation of the wicked; tares now grow up among the wheat; wolves come in sheep's clothing: but the redemption spoken of in the text will free our souls from all anxiety on these accounts; hereafter you shall enjoy a perfect communion of saints; nothing that is unholy or unsanctified shall enter into the holy of holies, which is prepared for you above. This, and all manner of evil whatsoever, you shall be delivered from, when your redemption is hereafter made complete in heaven; not only so, but you shall enter into the full enjoyment of all good. It is true, all saints will not have the same degree of happiness, but all will be as happy as their hearts can desire. Believers, you shall judge evil, and familiarly converse with good, angels; you shall sit down with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the spirits of just men made perfect; and, to sum up all your happiness in one word, you shall see God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and, by seeing God, be more and more like unto him, and pass from glory to glory, even to all eternity.
But I must stop: the glories of the upper world crowd in so fast upon my soul, that I am lost in the contemplation of them. Brethren, the redemption spoken of is unutterable; we cannot here find it out; eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the hearts of the most holy men living, to conceive
how great it is. Were I to entertain you whole ages with an account of it, when you come to heaven, you must say, with the queen of Sheba, "Not half, no, not one thousandth part was told us." All we can do here, is to go upon Mount Pisgah, and, by the eye of faith, take a distant view of the promised land: we may see it, as Abraham did Christ, afar off, and rejoice in it; but here we only know in part. Blessed be God, there is a time coming, when we shall know God, even as we are known, and God be all in all. “Lord Jesus, accomplish the number of thine elect! Lord Jesus, hasten thy kingdom!"
And now, where are the scoffers of these last days, who count the lives of Christians to be madness, and their end to be without honor? Unhappy men ! you know not what you do. Were your eyes open, and had you senses to discern spiritual things, you would not speak all manner of evil against the children of God, but you would esteem them as the excellent ones of the earth, and envy their happiness : your souls would hunger and thirst after it: you also would become fools for Christ's sake. You boast of wisdom: so did the philosophers of Corinth: but your wisdom is the foolishness of folly in the sight of God. What will your wisdom avail you, if it does not make you wise unto salvation? Can you, with all your wisdom, propose a more consistent scheme to build your hopes of salvation on, than what has been now laid down before you? Can you, with all the strength of natural reason, find out a better way of acceptance with God, than by the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it right to think your own works can in any measure deserve or procure it? If not, why will you not believe in him? Why will you not submit to his righteousness? Can you deny that you are fallen creatures? Do not you find that you are full of disorders, and that these disorders make you unhappy? Do not you find that you cannot change your own hearts? Have you not resolved many and many a time, and have not your corruptions yet dominion over you? Are you not bond-slaves to your lusts, and led captive by the devil at his will? Why then will you not come to Christ for sanctification? Do you not desire to die the death of the righteous, and that your future state may be like theirs ? I am persuaded you cannot bear the thought of being annihilated, much less of being miserable for ever. Whatever you may pretend, if you speak truth, you must confess, that conscience breaks in upon you in your more sober intervals, whether you will or not, and even constrains you to believe, that hell is no painted fire. And why then will you not come to Christ? He alone can procure you everlasting redemption. Haste, haste away to him, poor beguiled sinners.
You lack wisdom; ask it of Christ. Who knows but he may give it you? He is able: for he is the wisdom of the Father; he is that wisdom which was from everlasting. You have no righteousness; away, therefore, to Christ. He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. You are unholy; flee to the Lord Jesus; he is full of grace and truth; and of his fullness, all may receive that believe in him. You are as if afraid to die ; let this drive you to Christ : he has the keys of death and hell; in him is plenteous redemption; he alone can open the door which leads to everlasting life. Let not, therefore, the deceived reasoner boast any longer of his pretended reason. Whatever you may think, it is the most unreasonable thing in the world not to believe on Jesus Christ, whom God hath sent. Why, why will you die? Why will you not come unto him, that you may have life? Ho! every one that thirsteth, come unto the waters of life and drink freely : Come, buy without money and without price. Were these blessed privileges in the text to be purchased with money, you might say, we are poor and cannot buy: or, were they to be conferred only on sinners of such a rank or degree, then you might say, how can such sinners as we expect to be so highly favored ? But they are to be freely given of God to the worst of sinners. To us, says the apostle; to me a persecutor, to you, Corinthians, who were unclean, drunkards, covetous persons, idolaters. Therefore, each poor sinner may say then, why not unto me? Has Christ but one blessing? What if he has blessed millions already, by turning them away from their iniquities; yet, he still continues the same: he lives for ever to make intercession, and therefore will bless you, even you also. Though Esau-like, you have been profane, and hitherto despised your heavenly Father's birth-right; even now, if you believe, Christ will be made to you of God,'“ wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”
But I must turn again to believers, for whose instruction, as I observed before, this discourse was particularly intended. You see, brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, what great blessings are treasured up for you in Jesus Christ your head, and what you are entitled to by believing on his name. Take heed, therefore, that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. Think often how highly you are favored; and remember, you have not chosen Christ, but Christ hath chosen you. Put on (as the elect of God) humbleness of mind, and glory, but let it be only in the Lord : for you have nothing but what you have received of God. By nature, ye were as foolish, as legal, as unholy, and in as damnable a condition as others. Be pitiful, therefore, be courteous;
and, as sanctification is a progressive work, beware of thinking you have already attained. Let him that is holy, be holy still ; knowing that he who is most pure in heart, shall hereafter enjoy the clearest vision of God. Let indwelling sin be your daily burden ; and not only bewail and lament, but see that you subdue it daily by the power of divine grace; and look up to Jesus continually to be the finisher, as well as the author of your faith. Build not on your own faithfulness, but on God's unchangeableness. Take heed of thinking you stand by the power of your own free-will. The everlasting love of God the Father must be your only hope and consolation : let this support you under all trials. Remember that God's gifts and callings are without repentance; that Christ having once loved you, will love you to the end. Let this constrain you to obedience, and make you long and look for that blessed time, when he shall not only be your wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, but also complete and everlasting redemption. "Glory be to God in the highest.”
THE PHARISEE AND PUBLICAN.
Luke xviii. 14.
you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other : For every one that exalteth himself, shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted.
Though there be some who dare deny the Lord Jesus, and disbelieve the revelation he has been pleased to give us, and thereby bring upon themselves swift destruction; yet I would charitably hope there are but few, if any such among you to whom I am now to preach the kingdom of God. Were I to ask you,“ how you expect to be justified in the sight of an offended God ?” I suppose you would answer, only for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ. But, were I to come more home to your consciences, I fear most would make the Lord Jesus but in part their Savior, and go about, as it were, to establish a righteousness of their own. And this is not thinking contrary to the rules of christian charity : For we are all self-righteous by nature; it is as natural for us to turn back to a covenant of works, as for the sparks to fly upwards. We have had so
many legal and so few free grace preachers, for these many years, that most professors now seem to be settled upon their lees, and rather deserve the title of pharisees than christians.
Thus it was with the generality of the people during the time of our Lord's public ministrations: and therefore, in almost all his discourses, he preached the gospel to poor sinners, and denounced terrible woes against prond self-justifiers. The parable to which the words of the text belong, looks both these ways: for the evangelist informs us, (verse 9.) that our Lord "spake it unto certain who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous, and despised others.” And a notable parable it is; a parable worthy your most serious attention. “He that hath ears to hear let him hear” what Jesus Christ speaks to all visible professors in it.
Ver. 10. “Two men went up into the temple to pray,” (and never two men of more opposite characters) " the one a pharisee, and the other a publican.” The pharisees were the strictest sect among the Jews. I was of the strictest sect of the pharisees, says Paul. They prayed often; not only so, but they made long prayers; and, that they might appear extraordinarily devout, they would pray at the corners of the street, where two ways met, that people going or coming, both ways, might see them. “They made broad (as our Lord informs us the borders of their philacteries :" they had pieces of parchment sewed to their long robes, on which some parts of the scripture were written,
that people might from thence infer, that they were lovers of the law of God. They were so very punctual and exact in outward purifications, that they washed at their going out and coming in. They held to the washing of pots, brazen vessels and tables, and many other like things they did. They were very zealous for the traditions of the fathers, and for the observation of the rites and ceremonies of the church, notwithstanding they frequently made void the law of God by their traditions. And they were so exceedingly exact in the outward observation of the Sabbath, that they condemned our Lord for making a little clay with his spittle ; and called him a sinner, and said he was not of God, because he had given sight to a man born blind, on the Sabbath day. For these reasons, they were had in high veneration among the people, who were sadly misled by these blind guides: they had the uppermost places in the synagogues, and greetings in the market places, (which they loved dearly) and were called of men, Rabbi; in short, they had such a reputation for piety, that it became a proverb among the Jews, that if there were but two men saved, the one of them must be a pharisee.
As for the publicans, it was not so with them. It seems