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sition? but because they have not studied the gospel more, and free remission, and justification by faith alone, and they have not the sense of this upon their hearts. Poor souls, you want the experience of this. You think, some of you, there is no such way to be holy and gracious, as to have legal breakings, to have the law pressed upon you; but I do here tell you in the name of the Lord, and I lie not, that justification by faith alone, and free remission, is the principle of all our obedience and all our holiness. And when Paul came to this, and the sense of this, “ Now I live," says he: and so wilt thou say, poor soul, when thou comest to the sense of this truth: I was dead before, but now I live; indeed I was down, and my heart dead, when I hung upon my own duties, but now I live.
Now therefore, as you desire to live, and live spiritually, the Lord give you hearts to live in the sense and experience of this great truth; justification and free remission by faith alone.
Nevertheless I live, yet not 1, but Christ liveth in me."
Gal. II. 20. The apostle Paul having spoken of our living to God in the former verse, of our spiritual life, in those words, “ Yet now I live;" he proceeds unto the properties of this spiritual life, and those are three, First, It is a self-denying life: “Yet not I: I live, yet not I.” Secondly, It is a Christ-advancing life: “ But Christ liveth in me.” Thirdly, it is the life of faith: “And the life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God."
I begin with the first at this time, in those words, “ Yet not I.” The words hold forth a self-depression or self-annihilation. The words are spoken in the person of a believer, So that in all these I's; “ I through the law," and “ I am crucified,” and “I live,” Paul doth personate a believer, one that seeks justification by faith alone, according to the tenure of the gospel. And so the observation is this:
Every true believer that seeks justification by faith alone,
is an humble, self-denying person ; denying himself in spiritual things.
The way of the gospel is a self-denying way. Though a believer, that seeks justification by faith alone, and not by the works of the law, does live a spiritual life, and so does act, move and work towards God; yet he cannot endure to write an I upon his own performance. “ Yet not I." He will obey God, but he will not have an I to be written upon his obedience. He will pray to God, but he will not have an I to be written upon his performance. Yet not I: “ I live, yet not l.” Wherever the gospel comes in power, it does work this self-denying frame of soul and spirit. And thus it was with Paul, in regard of his own person, as ye read in the first of Corinthians, the xvth chapter, speaking with relation unto the other apostles, at the 10th verse,
I laboured more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me." I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I. I have been a preacher of the gospel, and have been a means to convert many souls unto Jesus Christ; “yet not I, but the grace of God with me.” I have comforted many afflicted souls; yet not I. I have been a means to plant many churches; yet not I, but the grace of God with
He will not have his work defiled with self, or this I to be written upon what he doth. And so it is with every believer, more or less; this is the way, and this is the spirit of the gospel: where it comes in life, truth and power, thus it is.
For the clearing of this great truth unto you. First, I shall spend a little time in the explication, and shew ye what it is for a man to deny himself in spiritual things. Secondly, I shall labour to give you some demonstrations of the truth. Thirdly, Answer one objection. And, Fourthly, Shew ye what there is in the gospel, or the way of the gospel, that can work a man's heart to this frame.
First, If ye ask me, What is it for a man to deny himself in spiritual things?
I answer, Ye know that there is a threefold self mentioned by divines. A natural self; as a man's parts, wit, reason, will, affections and inclination, are called one's self. Then there is a sinful self; and so a man's corruption, lust, and sinful disposition is called one's self. And then there is a
religious self; and so a man's duties, graces, obedience, righteousness and holiness are called one's self. Now though a man is to deny all these, yet I am not at this time to speak of the common place of self-denial, this scripture does not lead me to it; but only of self-denial in spiritual things, denial of religious self. There is a great difference between a man's denying of his sinful and of his religious self. When a man does deny his sinful self for Christ, then he is wholly to leave and forsake his sin and that self. But when a man is to deny his religious self for Christ, he is not to leave and forsake his duty: only, in point of justification, he is to renounce all; and, in point of sanctification, he is to attribute the strength, the power, and the glory of all his graces and duties unto Jesus Christ, and to himself nothing: and when a man, in point of justification, does renounce all; and, in point of sanctification, does attribute the strength, the power, and the glory of all unto Jesus Christ, and unto himself nothing; then he denies himself in spiritual things.
For there is a twofold denial of one's self even in spiritual things. One that is opposed to self-seeking, and another that is opposed to self-advancing. When a man seeks himself, he makes himself his end: when a man does advance himself, he makes himself his end. . Now though a man be to deny himself in opposition to all self-seeking, yet that is not the argument that lies here, it is not the argument of this scripture; but a man is called upon by this scripture, to deny himself in opposition to self-advancing: “I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”
But yet again, that we may rightly understand things. Though every believer is to deny himself, in spiritual things, and so to depress himself; yet, notwithstanding, he is not to speak evil of the grace of God within him. For there are two things in every duty or service: there is something of God's, and something of a man's own; something of the Spirit of God, and something of a man's own. Now though a man may trample upon all his duties, and upon all his graces, as to the point of justification; yet as to the point of sanctification, he may not mis-call the graces of God in him, and his duties, saying, These are nothing but the fruits of hypocrisy: for then he should speak evil of the Spirit, whose works they are. A man tramples and treads upon the dirt,
but he will not trample upon money, upon gold and silver : why? because that is a precious metal, or hath the stamp or the image of the prince upon it. Now our own duties, our own righteousness and holiness, as to the matter of justification, they are nothing worth, and so we trample upon all; but as to the matter of sanctification, they have the image of Christ upon them, they are precious metal; and therefore for a man to say, This is hypocrisy, and all is nothing but hypocrisy; this is not self-denial : properly, self-denial in spiritual things is, as to the matter of justification, to renounce all; and as to the matter of sanctification, to attribute the strength, the power, and the glory of all unto Jesus Christ, and to one's self nothing: and when a man does attribute all the strength, the power, the glory of all to Jesus Christ, and to himself nothing; then he is said to deny himself in spiritual things. This by way of explication.
Secondly. But now, whereby may it appear that the gospel works this grace in the heart of man?
I. If the law, and the preaching of the law, cannot make a man to deny himself in spiritual things, then the gospel must do it; for this grace is to be obtained, and found somewhere, something must work. Now the law, and the preaching of the law, can never make a man to deny himself in spiritual things; but rather it will make a man to seek himself in spiritual things. For what is it to preach the law, but when I shall come from God, and tell ye, that if you do keep the ten commandments, and fail in nothing, ye shall be saved ; but if ye fail in any one point, ye shall be damned, and lost for ever.
This will not make a man to deny his own righteousness, but rather to seek himself his own salvation to avoid damnation, and seek himself, in spiritual things. But now, when I come to ye, and speak thus unto ye from the Lord, that if you do throw down all your own righteousness at the feet of Christ, and rest only upon him, ye shall be saved ; this will make a man to deny all his own righteousness, and deny himself in spiritual things: and this is the gospel. And the gospel must needs do it. For what is the gospel, but the voice of Christ, the preachings and the sermons of Christ? Now look as it was with the first Adam; the first lesson that the first Adam did learn, practice and teach his posterity, was, to advance himself in spiritual
things. “The day that thou eatest (says Satan to him) thou shalt not die; but thine eyes shall be opened, and thou shalt be as God," Gen. ïïi. 5. Which he believed, and did eat, and so laboured to advance himself in spiritual things. The first lesson that ever he learned and taught his posterity, was to advance himself. So the second Adam; the first lesson that ever the second Adam, Christ, put in practice, was selfdenial in spiritual things. For says the apostle, “He thought it no robbery to be equal with God, and yet humbled himself unto the form of a servant, and became of no reputation," Phil. ii. 6, 7. This was the first thing. Now, I say, the gospel is nothing else, but the voice of Christ, the sermons and preachings of Jesus Christ, the second Adam; and there, and there only is this lesson to be learned.
II. Every godly, gracious man, that lives under the gospel, is of a spirit and disposition contrary to the world. This is the disposition of the world, to write an I upon what they do. Ye know what that proud king said, Have not I built this great Babel, for the honour of my majesty, have not I built it? Dan. iv. 30. And ye know what the legal pharisee said, Lord, I thank thee, that I am not as other men; no extortioner, and the like: I fast, I pray, I give alms. Luke xviii. 11, 12. He writes an I upon what he does. Now the spirit of a believer is contrary; and though a believer say, I pray, yet he will bite that I in again, and he will say, yet not I, but the grace of God within me. He is of a disposition contrary unto that of the world, and therefore, cannot write an I upon what he does.
III. Every godly, gracious man, that liveth under the gospel, is very tender of trenching upon, or doing any thing contrary to God's prerogative, unto Christ's prerogative. This is the prerogative of God, of Christ, to write an I upon what he does. “I create the fruit of the lips, peace, peace, says God," Isa. lvii. 19. “ I even I am he," Isa. xliii. 25. So in many places. “Go, (says our Saviour Christ) tell that fox, Herod, that I work to-day, and to-morrow,” Luke xiii. 32. This is the great prerogative of God, and of Christ, for to write an I upon what they do. Now believers, they are very tender of doing any thing that may intrench upon God's prerogative, and therefore they cannot