Page images

ward Ministration also, -so tamf read in S*»mo» the History all that CÆn/?.did, taught, andts\\j' suffered, without any real Benefit to their Souls, or knowing any thing xsf the Mystery of Godliness, for all historical, nay and doctrinal Knowledge too, retained in Minds unsanctified, and without that Love of Christ which passeth Knowledge, proSteth nothing, r.

Lastly, This Law of the Spirit of Life put into the inward Parts and written in the Heart, is the surest Foundation of Obedience to all the Precepts and Rules of Holy Living laid down in the Gospel, as Well as the best Interpreter and most faithful Applier of them, for it begets in the Soul a Conformity to the Nature of the Thing commanded, which makes Performance both easy and pleasant: It sets the Soul at Liberty, not by freeing it from Obedience, but by making Obedience free: We are made willing in the Day of God's Power who were unwilling in the Day of our own Weakness and Backwardness. The Prophet Ezekiel, on the Subject of Christ's Kingdom, pronounces the following gracious Promise of God: "A new HeartEzek, 11 will I give you, and I will put my Spirits t6'•v/r <( within

Sermon « within you, and cause you to walk in \^Y\f" my Statutes, and ye mall keep my Judg"ments and do them." Plainly shewing hereby, that the Renovation of a Gospel Spirit is the only Security of a Gospel Obedience; and that in all Things where we are commanded to fulfil the Will of God, we can then most truly fay, we are content to do it, when his Law is within our Heart. This will be illustrated by considering the Legalist (whether he be called Jew or Christian) and the Man of Grace, in their Religious Characters respectively. The former applies himself to the Work of Religion as to a Business, as to a System of Duties that must be performed in his own Strength, and self-armed with his Reason, Resolution, and Free-will, he sets outasGtfliah did to meet David, in full Confidence of Victory. But when he comes to. the Trial, that which he before thought himself sufficient for, he now finds too hard for him: The Sin of his Nature takes Occasion from the Holiness of the Commandment to shew its Rebellion and Enmity against God, and here he meets with an Opposition from within that he was not aware of: He returns tq the Charge and ;." ' renews renews his Efforts, but with no better Sue- Sermq«

. x

cess, for the Weapons of his Warfare are o^v\j

but carnal, and therefore alike insufficient both for Victory and Defence} and the Law which he before considered as only commanding and forbidding outward Things, upon a nearer View makes manifest the Cor^ ruptions of his Heart, and condemns Sin inwardly in the Flesh, and this flays his Confidence, and causes his Spirit to fail within him: His best Obedience therefore being only external, and both unequal to the Task and contrary to the Bent of unmortified Nature, he doth his Work not willingly*, but of Constraint, and is in Bondr age to his very Duties j for where the Form of Godliness is not enlivened by the Spirit of it, the Religion of such a one is either Hypocrisy on the one hand or Slavery on the other.' - '.'

-But with such as walk in the Way of Gospel Salvation, and go not about to establish their own Righteousness, but stand fast in that Righteousness which is of God by Faith; it is far otherwise; for these having their Hearts principled with Grace, fhey go forth, like David, in the Name and Strength of the Lord, and He subdueth .: 4 a»

SErxioNall their Enemies tinder their Feet. They \y^/\^ toH not at their Duties as at a Task, but waik in the Way's of God freely arid cheerfully: They keep not his Commandments only because they^afe written in the Bible, but they delight. in them because they are written in their Hearts: They worship the Lord, not thro' Fear, as Bond Slaves, because. they dare not do otherwise, but as Sons, with a filial Affection: The Love of Chriji,and not :the dread of Punishment, constraineth them, for they are led by his Spirit to pay a willing Obedience, and enabled by the fame Spirit for the Performance of 'it: They do not single out such Duties 35 are most easy to Flesh and Blood, or make the most splendid Appearance in the Eyes of Men, but have an equal Respect unto a$ God's Commandments, and so serve Him without Partiality and without Hypocrisy i And they complain not thajt their Work Is, too hard, or the Yoke of Religion too lieavyC for they are not under the Law which gives no Strength, but under that Grace which is sufficient for them. In a word, a Faiths working by Love animates the whole'of their Obedience, and their Hearts go] , along with it, and so they find of a Truth'/


that the. Service of God is perfect Free-SeRmoi'

Happy are the Pepple that are in such a -'' Case, for |hey. are the true Children of the Covenant, and have this sure Word of Promise from the Lottf, that he will be fq. them aGodx and theyjhall be to Him a People. . And such indeed He is to them in ar| emphatical Sense of the Blessing j for He is to them a reconciled God in the Son of his Love, forgiving all their Sin, and healing all their Infirmities; the God by whom they escape Death, and the God of whom cometh their Salvation: He is the neverfailing Spring of their Comforts, their Defence in Danger, and their Refuge in Trouble. And as He is to them a God, so are they to Him a People, a willing and faithful People, a loving and obedient People; a People in whom He doth all his Works, fulfils all his Will, and makes good all his Promises. In this so near and endearing a Relation how happy are they! God's Friends are their Friends, and they have no Enemies but such as are Enemies unto Him :. His Angels minister unto them, his Providence protects them, his Grace supports them/ his Spirit guides them. What then


« PreviousContinue »