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and a little from thence is more pleasing unto the Lord, than all the fifteen years before.
But whoever you are that make this objection, give me leave to propound these two questions to you.
1. Whereas you say, it is little, and therefore you fear it cannot come from so full a fountain : dost thou stint, or limit thyself in thy obedience, or in thy holiness? A man that seeks to be justified, and saved by his working, he does stint and limit himself: I have enough, says he, for to bring me to heaven, and what need I more? a great many are very precise, and strict, but, I praise the Lord, I have enough for to bring me to heaven, and what need I more? So he stints and limits himself, And I have been weeping, and mourning enough for to get forgiveness, and the Lord now hath forgiven me, and what need I more? Thus he stints, and limits himself, because he is under the law, and under a covenant of works.
2. Though your obedience as you think is very little and very small: do you oppose those that have much do you oppose those that have the power of godliness, and those that have more than yourself? A man that seeks justification by works, he does oppose
those men that have more holiness than himself. See I pray, how it was with the Jews in that ixth of the Romans, and 31st verse : “ But Israel which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.” Wherefore ? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law: for they stumbled at that stumbling stone.” They stumbled at Christ, they stumbled at christianity, they stumbled at the corner stone. And so now, moral and civil men, that seek acceptance, though they do not understand themselves, in a way of working; they oppose those that are more godly that have the power of godliness. But ye know, a spark of fire, though it be but a spark of fire, it will not oppose the flame; though it be not so great as the flame, yet it will not oppose the flame: it opposes the water, but it doth not oppose the flame of fire. And so if a man have grace, though it be but a spark of grace; yet notwithstanding, if it be in truth, it will not oppose a flame. But now civil and moral men, that walk in a way of works, and are under the law; oh, how do they oppose those that have the power of
godliness, that have more grace than themselves, that are in a flame for Christ, them they oppose! Is it so with you that make this objection? Oh no, I praise the Lord, your soul will say, if it speak in truth; though I have but little, the Lord knows I do not oppose them that have much: I rejoice rather in those that have more than myself, yea, I rejoice in those that have the power of godliness. And, Lord, thou knowest I do not stint and limit myself; oh, I can never be godly enough, and I can never repent enough, and I can never mourn for my sins enough. Well, be of good comfort, this may be no other stream, than what flows from this blessed fountain, free remission, and justification by faith alone.
But some will say, I fear that upon all this account, my obedience and my holiness is not right; for I do not find the visible characters of justification upon my sanctification. Justification by faith alone is the fountain of all our holiness: then if my obedience were right, it would taste of my justification and of free remission; if my holiness were right, it would savour of free remission : but I do not find
visible characters of justification upon my sanctification; I do not find that
sanctification does relish or savour of free remission, or justification by faith alone; and therefore I fear all is naught, my obedience hath been naught and wrong all this while.
For answer to this. Know ye not, beloved, that a man's justification may be hidden from sense, when sanctification is in truth? Know ye not, that the life of grace is a hidden life? not only hidden from the world, but hidden from one's own soul, many times.
But what are those visible characters of justification, which are engraven upon a man's sanctification, so that when a man does see them, he may say, Surely here is a sanctification, that is no other than that which flows from free remission, and justification by faith alone ?
When a man does mourn for his sin because it is pardoned, does not this repentance savour of free remission? When a man does obey the Lord, because God hath pardoned and forgiven him; does not this sanctification then savour of his justification and of free remission?
When there is a meeting of all graces, and one good work
and duty and grace is reconciled to another in a man's life; is there not then a taste and a savour of justification and free remission? When the Lord does justify a poor sinner, then all the attributes of God are reconciled to one another; justice is reconciled to mercy, and mercy is reconciled to justice; and all these reconciled attributes of the Lord, do meet upon the soul of a justified person : and accordingly, there is a meeting of all graces in the soul, and all good works and graces they are reconciled to one another. That whereas before a man was justified, they were at odds, at a distance one from another, and were inimititious one to another; now they are not. Whereas before a man was justified, he could not rejoice in God, but it hindered his mourning for sin; and he could not mourn for sin, but it hindered his faith, and he could not believe: his believing hindered his repentance. But now, when a man is justified and reconciled to the Lord, then all those works, duties and graces are reconciled to one another. Why? Because the attributes of God are reconciled unto one another, and all the attributes of God, they meet upon the heart of a justified person, and so there are the characters of his justification upon his sanctification here. And I appeal to ye, whoever you are that labour under this scruple, Is it not thus with thy soul in truth, do not you find it thus, that now you look
the very justice of the Lord as your friend, the justice and righteousness of the Lord as your friend? That now ye are reconciled, as it were, to those duties, that therefore you
looked upon as your enemies ? That now you rest upon the Lord Christ that you may be obedient; and your very resting upon Christ, makes you obedient; your very beholding of Christ changes you from glory to glory? as the apostle speaks, 2 Cor. iii. 18. If you would speak in truth from your soul, you would say thus : Lord, thus it is with me; now I am reconciled to that duty that before was an enemy to me, and now these works, duties and graces are reconciled: for
I can rejoice in God, the more I can mourn for sin; and the more I believe, the more I can repent. Heretofore, the more I believed the less I repented; my believing was my security: but now I see these works and duties are friends to one another, that now, the more I repent, the more I believe; and the more I believe,
the more I repent; all these works are reconciled in me. And Lord, thou that knowest all things, knowest, that therefore I grieve for my sins, because thou hast pardoned them; and therefore I desire to obey thee, because thou hast forgiven me. Well then, here are the visible characters of thy justification upon thy sanctification. And therefore be of good comfort notwithstanding this objection.
Only let me tell thee this, It may be thou hast not stood enough at a distance from thy own doings and duties, as to the matter of thy acceptance with God. But, would you be more spiritual and holy in your lives? labour more and more to stand at a distance from all your duties and doings, as to the great matter of your acceptance with God the Father.
But you will say, Suppose that I have not stood clear from my own doings as to the matter of my justification or acceptance with God the Father ; what shall I do, that now I may stand clear in this matter, that so this fountain of free remission and justification by faith alone, may be opened upon my soul, and my spiritual life thereby may be more enlarged and increased ?
Some things by way of answer to this, and so I have done.
1. Be ye humbled in the sight and presence of the Lord, that
you have walked in that way, that you have tied Jesus Christ unto your conditions, and that you have made use of Christ only to eke out your performance, as to the matter of your acceptance.
2. Study much the transactions of things between God the Father and Jesus Christ; and then you will find, that Jesus Christ had satisfied God the Father before ever you came into the world: and therefore your souls when you think of this will say, How therefore can my work or my duty any way bring in satisfaction or acceptance with God the Father. Study, I say, the transactions between God the Father and Jesus Christ.
3. Acquaint your soul much with the difference between the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. In the covenant of works, a man's work is first accepted and then his person ; but in the covenant of grace, a man's person is first accepted, and then his work, And when you understand this, then you will say, Aye, if this be true, that a
man's person is first accepted, and then his work, how can my work any way fetch me in acceptance with God the Father? O my soul, for ever stand clear in this great matter of my acceptance in my duties.
4. Whenever your duties, your works and your graces are highest, then, and then especially, use thy soul to be beyond them, and say thus: Though now, I bless the Lord, my heart is thus and thus enlarged, yet I do not count upon my acceptance by reason of this enlargement. Though, I bless the Lord, I have now prayer, that before had none, yet I do not count my acceptance with God the Father by this prayer. When, I say, thy duty is highest, use thy soul to be beyond it.
5. When your duty, grace and holiness is lowest, then know that now ye have an opportunity to stand clear from your own duties and working, as to the matter of your acceptance and justification by faith alone. If I have a friend in my house, that lives in my house with me, whom I would not have privy unto a work or business, I shall take the opportunity to do the work when that friend is out of doors. Now, say I, he is abroad; if he were at home he would be prying over my shoulder, and he would have a finger in the business, and he would see it; but now he is abroad, now I will take the time to do it. My brethren, your duties, prayer and humiliation, they are all friends to your justification; but when prayer is out, and duty is out and abroad, and out of sight, and not at home: now take your time to be clear in the matter of resting upon Christ alone, and say, Now my prayer is gone, and duties gone, and all out of sight, O Lord! now I have an opportunity to rest upon Christ alone: had my prayer been at home, and duties at home, they would have been peering and prying into this work, but now they are all out of sight, now I will rest upon Christ and his righteousness alone. This is certain, that this justification by faith alone, and free remission of a poor sinner, it is the great fountain and principle of all our grace and holiness; and therefore, if you would be more gracious and more holy, I beseech you in the name of Christ study it much, and walk in the sense of it. And what is the reason that many professors are no more holy and humble, but waspish and peevish and harsh, and of a rugged dispo