Now a few words to the second doctrine, and so I shall draw towards a conclusion.
FIRST USE. The doctrine doth contain in it very much comfort to thy [The use, for the second doctrine]. soul who art a new- covenant man, or one of those who are under the new covenant. There is, First, pardon of sin; and, Second, the manifestation of the same; and, Third, as power to cause thee to persevere through faith to the very end of thy life.
First, There is, first, pardon of sin, which is not in the old covenant; for in that there is nothing but commands; and if not obeyed, condemned. O, but there is pardon of sin, even of all thy sins, against the first and second covenant, under which thou art, and that freely upon the account of Jesus Christ the righteousness, He having in thy name, nature, and in the room of thy person, fulfilled all the whole law in Himself for thee, and freely giveth it unto thee. O, though the law be a ministration of death and condemnation, yet the Gospel, under which thou art, is the ministration of life and salvation (2 Cor 3:6-9). Though they that live and die under the first covenant, God regardeth them not (Heb 8:9). Yet they that are under the second are as the apple of His eye (Deu 32:10; Psa 17:8; Zech 2:8). Though they that are under the first, the Law, are "called to blackness, and darkness, and tempest, the sound of a trumpet," and a burning mountain, which sight was so terrible, that Moses said, "I exceedingly fear and quake" (Heb 12:18- 22). "But ye are come unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn," whose names "are written in Heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus," to blessed Jesus, "the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel" (Heb 12:22-24). Even forgiveness of sins (Eph 1:7).
Second, The covenant that thou art under doth allow of repentance in case thou chance to slip or fall by sudden temptation; but the law allows of none (Rev 2:5; Gal 3:10). The covenant that thou art under allows thee strength also; but the law is only a sound of words, commanding words, but no power is given by them to fulfill the things commanded (Heb 12:19). Thou that art under this second, art made a son; but they that art under that first, are slaves and vagabonds (Gen 4:12). Thou that art under this, hast a Mediator, that is to stand between justice and thee; but they under the other, their mediator is turned an accuser, and speaketh most bitter things against their souls (1 Tim 2:5; John 5:45). Again; the way that thou hast into Paradise is a new and living way-mark, a living way; but they that are under the old covenant, their way into Paradise is a killing and destroying way (Heb 10:20; Gen 3:24). Again; thou has the righteousness of God to appear before God withal; but they under the old covenant have nothing but the righteousness of the Law, which Paul counts dirt and dung (Phil 3:7-9). Thou hast that which will make thee perfect, but the other will not do so-"The law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did," which is the Son of God, "by the which we draw nigh unto God" (Heb 7:19).
Third, The new covenant promiseth thee a new heart, as I said before; but the old covenant promiseth none; and a new spirit, but the old covenant promiseth none (Eze 36:26). The new covenant conveyeth faith, but the old one conveyeth none (Gal 3). Through the new covenant the love of God is conveyed into the heart; but through the old covenant there is conveyed none of it savingly through Jesus Christ. Romans 5. The new covenant doth not only give a promise of life, but also with that the assurance of life, but the old one giveth none; the old covenant wrought wrath in us and to us, but the new one worketh love (Rom 4:15; Gal 5:6). Thus much for the first use.
SECOND USE. As all these, and many more privileges, do come to thee through or by the new covenant, and that thou mightst not doubt of the certainty of these glorious privileges, God hath so ordered it that they do all come to thee by way of purchase, being obtained for thee, ready to thy hand, by that one Man Jesus, who is the Mediator, or the Person that hath principally to do both with God and thy soul in the things pertaining to this covenant; so that now thou mayst look on all the glorious things that are spoken of in the new covenant, and say, All these must be mine; I must have a share in them; Christ hath purchased them for me, and given them to me. Now I need not to say, O! but how shall I come by them? God is holy, I am a sinner; God is just, and I have offended. No; but thou mayst say, Though I am vile, and deserve nothing, yet Christ is holy, and He deserveth all things; though I have so provoked God by breaking His law that He could not in justice look upon me, yet Christ hath so gloriously paid the debt that now God can say, Welcome, soul, I will give thee grace, I will give thee glory, thou shalt lie in My bosom, and go no more out; My Son hath pleased Me, He hath satisfied the loud cries of the Law and justice, that called for speedy vengeance on thee; He hath fulfilled the whole Law, He hath brought in everlasting righteousness (Dan 9:24,25). He hath overcome the devil, He hath washed away thy sins with His most precious blood, He hath destroyed the power of death, and triumphs over all the enemies. This He did in His own Person, as a common Jesus, for all persons in their stead, even as for so many as shall come in to Him; for His victory I give to them, His righteousness I give to them, His merits I bestow on them, and look upon them holy, harmless, undefiled, and for ever comely in my eye, through the victory of the Captain of their salvation (1 Cor 15:55-57).
And that thou mayest, in deed and in truth, not only hear and read this glorious doctrine, but be found one that hath the life of it in thy heart, thou must be much in studying of the two covenants, the nature of the one, and the nature of the other, and the conditions of them that are under them both. Also, thou must be well-grounded in the manner of the victory, and merits of Christ, how they are made thine.
First, And here thou must, in the first place, believe that the babe that was born of Mary, lay in a manger at Bethlehem, in the time of Caesar Augustus; that He, that babe, that child, was the very Christ.
Second, Thou must believe that in the days of Tiberius Caesar, when Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and Pontius Pilate governor of Judea, that in those days He was crucified, or hanged on a tree between two thieves, which by computation, or according to the best account, is above sixteen hundred years since.
Third, Thou must also believe that when He did hang upon that cross of wood on the Mount Calvary, that then He did die there for the sins of those that did die before He was crucified; also for their sins that were alive at the time of His crucifying, and also that He did by that one death give satisfaction to God for all those that should be born and believe in Him after His death, even unto the world's end. I say, this thou must believe, upon pain of eternal damnation, that by that one death, that when He did die, He did put an end to the curse of the Law and sin [This is the doctrine that I will live and die by, and be willing to be damned if it saves me not. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation; therefore I preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness (Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:23).] and at that time by His death on the Cross, and by His resurrection out of Joseph's sepulchre, He did bring in a sufficient righteousness to clothe thee withal completely-"For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Not that He should often offer Himself-"for then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world; but now ONCE in the end of the world hath He appeared to put," or do, "away sin by the sacrifice of Himself"-namely, when He hanged on the Cross. For it is by the offering up of the body of this blessed Jesus Christ ONCE for all. Indeed, other priests may offer oftentimes sacrifices and offerings which can never take away sins; but this Man, this Jesus, this anointed and appointed sacrifice, when He had offered ONE sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God (Heb 10:14; 9:24,25).
[A word of advice]. But because thou in thy pursuit after the faith of the Gospel wilt be sure to meet with devils, heretics, particular corruptions, as unbelief, ignorance, the spirit of works animated on by suggestions, false conclusions, with damnable doctrines, I shall therefore briefly, besides what hath been already said, speak a word or two before I leave thee of further advice, especially concerning these two things. First, How thou art to conceive of the Saviour. Second, How thou art to make application of Him.
First. For the Saviour. 1. Thou must look upon Him to be very God and very Man; not man only, nor God only, but God and Man in one Person, both natures joined together, for the putting of Him in a capacity to be a suitable Saviour; suitable, I say, to answer both sides and parties, with whom He hath to do in the office of His Mediatorship and being of a Saviour. 2. Thou must not only do this, but thou must also consider and believe that even what was done by Jesus Christ, it was not done by one nature without the other; but thou must consider that both natures, both the Godhead and the manhood, did gloriously concur and join together in the undertaking of the salvation of our bodies and souls; not that the Godhead undertook anything without the manhood, neither did the manhood do anything without the virtue and union of the Godhead; and thou must of necessity do this, otherwise thou canst not find any sound ground and footing for thy soul to rest upon.
For if thou look upon any of these asunder-that is to say, the Godhead without the manhood, or the manhood without the Godhead-thou wilt conclude that what was done by the Godhead was not done for man, being done without the manhood; or else, that that which was done with the manhood could not answer Divine justice, in not doing what it did by the virtue and in union with the Godhead; for it was the Godhead that gave virtue and value to the suffering of the manhood, and the manhood being joined therewith, that giveth us an interest into the heavenly glory and comforts of the Godhead.
What ground can a man have to believe that Christ is his Saviour, if he do not believe that He suffered for sin in his nature? And what ground also can a man have to think that God the Father is satisfied, being infinite, if he believe not also that He who gave the satisfaction was equal to Him who was offended?
Therefore, beloved, when you read of the offering of the body of the Son of Man for our sins, then consider that He did it in union with, and by the help of, the eternal Godhead. "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God, purge your consciences from dead works," etc.
And when thou readest of the glorious works and splendour of the Godhead in Christ, then consider that all that was done by the Godhead, it was done as it had union and communion with the manhood. And then thou shalt see that the devil is overcome by God-man; sin, death, Hell, the grave, and all overcome by Jesus, God-man, and then thou shalt find them overcome indeed. They must needs be overcome when God doth overcome them; and we have good ground to hope the victory is ours, when in our nature they are overcome.
Second. The second thing is, how to apply, or to make application of this Christ to the soul. And for this there are to be considered the following particulars-
1. That when Jesus Christ did thus appear, being born of Mary, He was looked upon by the Father as if the sin of the whole world was upon Him; nay, further, God did look upon Him and account Him the sin of man-"He hath made Him to be sin for us," (2 Cor 5:21) that is, God made His Son Jesus Christ our sin, or reckoned Him to be, not only a sinner, but the very bulk of sin of the whole world, and condemned Him so severely as if He had been nothing but sin. "For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh"-that is, for our sins condemned His Son Jesus Christ; as if He had in deed and truth been our very sin, although altogether "without sin" (Rom 8:3; 2 Cor 5:21). Therefore, as to the taking away of thy curse, thou must reckon Him to be made sin for thee. And as to His being thy justification, thou must reckon Him to be thy righteousness; for, saith the Scripture, "He," that is, God, "hath made HIM to be SIN for us, though He knew no sin, that we might be made the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God in HIM."
2. Consider for whose sakes all this glorious design of the Father and the Son was brought to pass; and that you shall find to be for man, for sinful man (2 Cor 8:9).
3. The terms on which it is made ours; and that you will find to be a free gift, merely arising from the tender-heartedness of God-you are "justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ, whom God hath set forth to be a Propitiation through faith in His blood," etc. (Rom 3:25).
4. How men are to reckon it theirs; and that is, upon the same terms which God doth offer it, which is freely, as they are worthless and undeserving creatures, as they are without all good, and also unable to do any good. This, I say, is the right way of applying the merits of Christ to thy soul, for they are freely given to thee, a poor sinner, not for anything that is in thee, or done by thee, but freely as thou art a sinner, and so standest in absolute need thereof.
And, Christian, thou art not in this thing to follow thy sense and feeling, but the very Word of God. The thing that doth do the people of God the greatest injury, it is their too little hearkening to what the Gospel saith, and their too much giving credit to what the Law, sin, the devil, and conscience saith; and upon this very ground to conclude that because there is a certainty of guilt upon the soul, therefore there is also for certain, by sin, damnation to be brought upon the soul. This is now to set the Word of God aside, and to give credit to what is formed by the contrary; but thou must give more credit to one syllable of the written Word of the Gospel than thou must give to all the saints and angels in Heaven and earth; much more than to the devil and thy own guilty conscience.
Let me give you a parable:-There was a certain man that had committed treason against his king; but forasmuch as the king had compassion upon him, he sent him, by the hand of a faithful messenger, a pardon under his own hand and seal; but in the country where this poor man dwelt, there were also many that sought to trouble him, by often putting of him in mind of his treason, and the law that was to be executed on the offender. Now which way should this man so honour his king, but as by believing his handwriting, which was the pardon. Certainly he would honour him more by so doing than to regard all the clamours of his enemies continually against him.
Just thus it is here: thou having committed treason against the King of Heaven, He through compassion, for Christ's sake, hath sent thee a pardon; but the devil, the Law, and thy conscience do continually seek to disturb thee by bringing thy sins afresh into thy remembrance. But now, wouldst thou honour thy King? Why then, he that believeth "the record that God hath given of His Son," hath set to his seal that God is true. "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son" (1 John 5:11). And therefore, my brethren, seeing God our Father hath sent us damnable traitors a pardon from Heaven, even all the promises of the Gospel, and also hath sealed to the certainty of it with the heart-blood of His dear Son, let us not be daunted, though our enemies, with terrible voices, do bring our former life never so often into our remembrance.
Object. But, saith the soul, how, if after I have received a pardon, I should commit treason again? What should I do then?
Answ. Set the case: thou hast committed abundance of treason, He hath by Him abundance of pardons-"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon" (Isa 55:7).
Sometimes I myself have been in such a strait that I have been almost driven to my wit's ends with the sight and sense of the greatness of my sins; but calling to mind that God was God in His mercy, pity, and love, as well as in His holiness, justice, etc.; and again, considering the ability of the satisfaction that was given to holiness and justice, to the end there might be way made for sinners to lay hold of this mercy; I say, I considering this, when tempted to doubt and despair, I have answered in this manner-
"Lord, here is one of the greatest sinners that ever the ground bare; a sinner against the Law, and a sinner against the Gospel. I have sinned against light, and I have sinned against mercy. And now, Lord, the guilt of them breaks my heart. The devil also he would have me despair, telling of me that Thou art so far from hearing my prayers in this my distress, that I cannot anger Thee worse than to call upon Thee; for saith he, Thou art resolved for ever to damn, and not to grant me the least of Thy favour; yet, Lord, I would fain have forgiveness. And Thy Word, though much may be inferred from it against me, yet it saith, If I come unto Thee, Thou will in nowise cast me out. Lord, shall I honour Thee most by believing Thou canst pardon my sins, or by believing Thou canst not? Shall I honour Thee most by believing Thou wilt pardon my sins, or by believing Thou wilt not?
Shall I honour the blood of Thy Son also by despairing that the virtue thereof is not sufficient, or by believing that it is sufficient to purge me from all my blood-red and crimson sins? Surely, Thou that couldst find so much mercy as to pardon Manasseh, Mary Magdalene, the three thousand murderers, persecuting Paul, murderous and adulterous David, and blaspheming Peter-Thou that offeredst mercy to Simon Magus, a witch, and didst receive the astrologers and conjurors in the 19th of Acts-Thou hast mercy enough for one poor sinner. Lord, set the case: my sins were bigger than all these, and I less deserved mercy than any of these, yet Thou hast said in Thy Word that he that cometh to thee Thou wilt in "nowise cast out." And God hath given comfort to my soul, even to such a sinner as I am. And I tell you, there is no way so to honour God, and to beat out the devil, as to stick to the truth of God's Word and the merits of Christ's blood by believing. When Abraham believed-even against hope and reason-he gave glory to God (Rom 4). And this is our victory, even our faith (1 John 5:4). Believe, and all things are possible to you. He that believeth shall be saved. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life, and shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of Christ's Father's hands.
And if thou dost indeed believe this, thou wilt not only confess Him as the Quakers do-that is, that He was born at Bethlehem of Mary, suffered on Mount Calvary under Pontius Pilate, was dead and buried, rose again, and ascended, etc.; for all this they confess, and in the midst of their confession they do verily deny that His death on that Mount Calvary did give satisfaction to God for the sins of the world, and that His resurrection out of Joseph's sepulchre is the cause of our justification in the sight of God, angels, and devils; but, I say, if thou dost believe these things indeed, thou dost believe that then, so long ago, even before thou wast born, He did bear thy sins in His own body, which then was hanged on the tree, and never before nor since; that thy old man was then crucified with Him, namely, in the same body then crucified (See 1 Peter 2:24; and Rom 6:6). This is nonsense to them that believe not; but if thou do indeed believe, thou seest it so plain, and yet such a mystery, that it makes thee wonder. But,
[THIRD USE]. In the third place, this glorious doctrine of the new covenant, and the Mediator thereof, will serve for the comforting, and the maintaining of the comfort, of the children of the new covenant this way also-that is, that He did not only die and rise again, but that He did ascend in His own Person into Heaven to take possession thereof for me, to prepare a place there for me, standeth there in the second part of His suretyship to bring me safe in my coming thither, and to present me in a glorious manner, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; that He is there exercising of His priestly office for me, pleading the perfection of His own righteousness for me, and the virtue of His blood for me; that He is there ready to answer the accusations of the Law, devil, and sin for me. Here thou mayst through faith look the very devil in the face, and rejoice, saying, O Satan! I have a precious Jesus, a soul-comforting Jesus, a sin-pardoning Jesus. Here thou mayst hear the biggest thunder-crack that the Law can give, and yet not be daunted.
Here thou mayst say, O Law! thou mayst roar against sin, but thou canst not reach me; thou mayst curse and condemn, but not my soul; for I have righteous Jesus, a holy Jesus, a soul- saving Jesus, and He hath delivered me from thy threats, from thy curses, from thy condemnations; I am out of thy reach, and out of thy bounds; I am brought into another covenant, under better promises, promises of life and salvation, free promises to comfort me without my merit, even through the blood of Jesus, the satisfaction given to God for me by Him; therefore, though thou layest my sins to my charge, and sayest thou wilt prove me guilty, yet so long as Christ is above ground, and hath brought in everlasting righteousness, and given that to me, I shall not fear thy threats, thy charges, thy soul-scarring denunciations; my Christ is all, hath done all, and will deliver me from all that thou, and whatsoever else can bring an accusation against me. Thus also thou may say when death assaulteth thee-O death, where is thy sting? Thou mayst bite indeed, but thou canst not devour; I have comfort by and through the one Man Jesus; Jesus Christ, He hath taken thee captive, and taken away thy strength; He hath pierced thy heart, and let out all thy soul- destroying poison; therefore, though I see thee, I am not afraid of thee; though I feel thee, I am not daunted; for thou hast lost thy sting in the side of the Lord Jesus; through Him I overcome thee, and set foot upon thee.
Also, O Satan! though I hear thee grumble, and make a hellish noise, and though thou threaten me very highly, yet my soul shall triumph over thee, so long as Christ is alive and can be heard in Heaven; so long as He hath broken thy head, and won the field of thee; so long as thou are in prison, and canst not have thy desire. I, therefore, when I hear thy voice, do pitch my thoughts on Christ my Saviour, and do hearken when He will say, for He will speak comfort; He saith, He hath got the victory, and doth give to me the crown, and causeth me to triumph through His most glorious conquest.
Nay, my brethren, the saints under the Levitical Law, who had not the new covenant sealed or confirmed any further than by promise that it should be; I say, they, when they thought of the glorious privileges that God had promised should come, though at that time they were not come, but seen afar off, how confidently were they persuaded of them, and embraced them, and were so fully satisfied as touching the certainty of them, that they did not stick at the parting with all for the enjoying of them. [Shall not we then that see all things already done before us make it a strong argument to increase our faith (Heb 11).] How many times doth David in the Psalms admire, triumph, and persuade others to do so also, through the faith that he had in the thing that was to be done? Also Job, in what faith doth he say he should see his Redeemer, though He had not then shed one drop of blood for him, yet because He had promised so to do; and this was signified by the blood of bulls and goats. Also Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zechariah, etc., how gloriously in confidence did they speak of Christ, and His death, blood, conquest, and everlasting priesthood, even before He did manifest Himself in the flesh which He took of the Virgin. [For they were so many sure promises, with a remembrance in them, also for the better satisfaction of them that believed them].
We that have lived since Christ, have more ground to hope than they under the old covenant had, though they had the word of the just God for the ground of their faith. Mark, they had only the promise that He should and would come; but we have the assured fulfilling of those promises, because He is come; they were told that He should spill His blood, but we do see He hath spilt His blood; they ventured all upon His standing Surety for them, but we see He hath fulfilled, and that faithfully too, the office of His Suretyship, in that, according to the engagement, He hath redeemed us poor sinners; they ventured on the new covenant, though not actually sealed, only "because He judged Him faithful who had promised" (Heb 11:11). But we have the covenant sealed, all things are completely done, even as sure as the heart-blood of a crucified Jesus can make it.
There is a great difference between their dispensation and ours for comfort, even as much as there is between the making of a bond with a promise to seal it, and the sealing of the same. It was made indeed in their time, but it was not sealed until the time the blood was shed on the Mount Calvary; and that we might indeed have our faith mount up with wings like an eagle, he showeth us what encouragement and ground of faith we have to conclude we shall be everlastingly delivered, saying, "For where a testament" or covenant "is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood" (Heb 9:16-18). As Christ's blood was the confirmation of the new covenant, yet it was not sealed in Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob's days to confirm the covenant that God did tell them of, and yet they believed; therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to believe the things that we have heard, and not in any wise to let them be questioned; and the rather, because you see the testament is not only now made, but confirmed; not only spoken of and promised, but verily sealed by the death and blood of Jesus, who is the Testator thereof.
My brethren, I would not leave you ignorant of this one thing, that though the Jews had the promise of a sacrifice, of an everlasting High Priest that should deliver them, yet they had but the promise; for Christ was not sacrificed, and was not then come a high priest of good things to come; only the type, the shadow, the figure, the ceremonies they had, together with Christ's engaging as Surety to bring all things to pass that were promised should come, and upon that account received and saved.
It was with them and their dispensation as this similitude gives you to understand:-Set the case that there be two men who make a covenant that the one should give the other ten thousand sheep on condition the other give him two thousand pound; but forasmuch as the money is not to be paid down presently, therefore if he that buyeth the sheep will have any of them before the day of payment, the creditor requesteth a surety; and upon the engagement of the surety there is part of the sheep given to the debtor even before the day of payment, but the other at and after. So it is here; Christ covenanted with His Father for His sheep-"I lay down My life for My sheep," saith He-but the money was not to be paid down so soon as the bargain was made, as I have already said, yet some of the sheep were saved even before the money was paid, and that because of the Suretyship of Christ; as it is written, "Being justified," or saved, "freely by His grace through the redemption," or purchase, "that is in Christ Jesus. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past," or the sinners who died in the faith before Christ was crucified, through God's forbearing till the payment was paid; to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness; "that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom 3:24-26).
The end of my speaking of this is, to show you that it is not wisdom now to doubt whether God will save you or no, but to believe, because all things are finished as to our justification: the covenant not only made, but also sealed; the debt paid, the prison doors flung off of the hooks, with a proclamation from Heaven of deliverance to the prisoners of hope, saying, "Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope, even today do I declare," saith God, "that I will render double unto thee" (Zech 9:12). And, saith Christ, when He was come, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the Gospel," that is, good tidings "to the poor," that their sins should be pardoned, that their souls shall be saved. "He hath sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised," and to comfort them that mourn, "to preach the acceptable year of the Lord" (Luke 4:18,19).
Therefore here, soul, thou mayst come to Jesus Christ for anything thou wantest, as to a common treasure-house, being the principal Man for the distributing of the things made mention of in the new covenant, He having them all in His own custody by right of purchase; for He hath bought them all, paid for them all. Dost thou want faith? then come for it to the Man Christ Jesus (Heb 12:2). Dost thou want the Spirit? then ask it of Jesus. Dost thou want wisdom? Dost thou want grace of any sort? Dost thou want a new heart? Dost thou want strength against thy lusts, against the devil's temptations? Dost thou want strength to carry thee through afflictions of body, and afflictions of spirit, through persecutions? Wouldst thou willingly hold out, stand to the last, and be more than a conqueror? then be sure thou meditate enough on the merits of the blood of Jesus, how He hath undertaken for thee, that He hath done the work of thy salvation in thy room, that He is filled of God on purpose to fill thee, and is willing to communicate whatsoever is in Him or about Him to thee. Consider this, I say, and triumph in it.
Again; this may inform us of the safe state of the saints as touching their perseverance, that they shall stand though Hell rages, though the devil roareth, and all the world endeavoureth the ruin of the saints of God, though some, through ignorance of the virtue of the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, do say a man may be a child of God today, and a child of the devil tomorrow, which is gross ignorance; for what? Is the blood of Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, of no more virtue than to bring in for us an uncertain salvation? or must the effectualness of Christ's merits, as touching our perseverance, be helped on by the doings of man? Surely they that are predestinated are also justified; and they that are justified, they shall be glorified (Rom 8:30). Saints, do not doubt of the salvation of your souls, unless you do intend to undervalue Christ's blood; and do not think but that He that hath begun the good work of His grace in you will perfect it to the second coming of our Lord Jesus (Phil 1:6). Should not we, as well as Paul, say, I am persuaded that nothing shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus (Rom 8). O let the saints know, that unless the devil can pluck Christ out of Heaven, he cannot pull a true believer out of Christ. When I say a true believer, I do mean such an one as hath the faith of the operation of God in his soul.
Lastly, Is there such mercy as this? such privileges as these? Is there so much ground of comfort, and so much cause to be glad? Is there so much store in Christ, and such a ready heart in Him to give it to me? Hath His bleeding wounds so much in them, as that the fruits thereof should be the salvation of my soul, of my sinful soul, as to save me, sinful me, rebellious me, desperate me? What then? Shall not I now be holy? Shall not I now study, strive, and lay out myself for Him that hath laid out Himself soul and body for me? Shall I now love ever a lust or sin? Shall I now be ashamed of the cause, ways, people, or saints of Jesus Christ? Shall I now yield my members as instruments of righteousness, seeing my end is everlasting life? (Rom 6). Shall Christ think nothing too dear for me? and shall I count anything too dear for Him? Shall I grieve Him with my foolish carriage? Shall I slight His counsel by following of my own will? Thus, therefore, the doctrine of the new covenant doth call for holiness, engage to holiness, and maketh the children of that covenant to take pleasure therein. Let no man, therefore, conclude on this, that the doctrine of the Gospel is a licentious doctrine; but if they do, it is because they are fools, and such as have not tasted of the virtue of the blood of Jesus Christ; neither did they ever feel the nature and sway that the love of Christ hath in the hearts of His. And thus also you may see that the doctrine of the Gospel is of great advantage to the people of God that are already come in, or to them that shall at the consideration hereof be willing to come in, to partake of the glorious benefits of this glorious covenant. But, saith the poor soul,
Object. Alas! I doubt this is too good for me.
Inquirer. Why so, I pray you?
Object. Alas! because I am a sinner.
Reply. Why, all this is bestowed upon none but sinners, as it is written, While we were ungodly, Christ died for us (Rom 5:6,8). "He came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tim 1:15).
Object. O, but I am one of the chief of sinners.
Reply. Why, this is for the chief of sinners-"Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief," saith Paul (1 Tim 1:15).
Object. O, but my sins are so big, that I cannot conceive how I should have mercy.
Reply. Why, soul? Didst thou ever kill anybody? Didst thou ever burn any of thy children in the fire to idols? Hast thou been a witch? Didst thou ever use enchantments and conjuration? [You that are resolved to go on in your sins, meddle not with this]. Didst thou ever curse, and swear, and deny Christ? And yet if thou hast, there is yet hopes of pardon; yea, such sinners as these have been pardoned, as appears by these and the like Scriptures, 2 Chronicles 33:1-10, compared with verses 12, 13. Again, Acts 19:19, 20; 8:22, compared with verse 9; Matthew 26:74, 75.
Object. But though I have not sinned in such kind of sins, yet it may be I have sinned as bad.
Answ. That cannot likely be; yet though thou hast, still there is ground of mercy for thee, forasmuch as thou art under the promise (John 6:37).