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Faith comes to God with an empty hand, and leaves all: and therefore when we come to Christ, faith are the feet we go with, and the mouth we speak with, the weapons we fight with. Then a man comes to the throne of grace with confidence and great boldness, and lays hold on life, assured to receive: as a man cometh with confidence to take in his bond, when his surety hath paid the debt. If a man bring not Christ with him, there is no name or promise else to take hold of, wltereby he may be saved. “ In him (saith the apostle) all the promises are yea and amen.” “If? any man hath the Son, he shall have life.” All good things, all high and low things, must be let fall in this case. If it were humiliation itself, we have not Christ for this : I must receive freely with an empty hand, that all may be of grace.
Thus the truth makes us free in justification. By freeing us from the condemning power and guilt of sin : which being done, and sueing God on his bond, then we come to have interest in all the promises.
Gain we nothing else by being thus freed by the truth? Yes :
It is written : “ Goda having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities :" that is sanctify us; which is such a high privilege, that for the excellency thereof, it is by the apostle called glorification : “And whom he justified, them he also glorified.” Sanctification is nothing else but imperfect glory.
Here one may object. If it be thus, what a miserable creature am I not to be freed all this while: I am fettered and chained with my corruptions, which lie heavy upon me, and assail me often. I find not this freedom. Sure I am in a miserable estate.
But for this I say, beloved, mistake not the matter. See what our freedom here is. Our liberty in this life is like that of the children of Israel in the wilderness, marching towards Canaan ; like soldiers giving and receiving wounds. We were at first in Satan's dungeon, fast bound in chains under lock and key, full of bolts and fetters. Now here is our liberty; Christ he comes, breaks up the prison doors, knocks off our bolts and fetters, brings us out of prison, and then puts weapons into our hands, to fight for ourselves. We must not expect our freedom here in the Church militant, to be like that of the triumphant above. We are the Lord's soldiers; we must fight, and quit us like men, and scorn to yield ourselves prisoners unto sin and Satan. Here is our freedom-to cast the gauntlet unto sin, resolving perpetual war with Amalek, never to yield. Yea, and though we be weak, yet to be of good courage, crying unto God to help, who is the God of peace, and hath promised shortly to tread down Satan under our feet, and that the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head, and tread down all at last; though we find not this quite done now, yet it shall be hereafter.
y 2 Cor. chap. 1. ver. 20. · Acts, chap. 3. ver. 26.
? 1 John, chap. 5. ver. 12. * Rom. chap. 8. ver. 30.
But then what kind of liberty have we ?
It stands not so much in the measure as in the truth of grace: to see if a man in his heart hate all sin truly, and love God and goodness, with a resolution to have no covenant or league with sin, and to strive for every grace. If thou canst not bring thyself to yield to wickedness, but art always on thy guard, thou art free, when thou dost resolve never to yield, though thou be taken with blood about thy heels ; yet, if thou struggle and fight, resolving not to stand still, but to escape for thy life, and though sin come again and again, yet that thou wilt shake it off, as soon as may be; thou art a freeman, when thou art still on thy guard. As we see the States are free, because they are still standing on their guard.
Some say; Oh, I have wounds, such as a freeman cannot have: and some think they have not this liberty, because they have so little grace, nothing like (as they say) unto others of God's children.
But I say unto thee, how small soever thy spark be, see it be true in all graces, in truth, and then thou art free.
What if thy God will have his honour and glory seen so much the more ? (like the widow's oil) to make a little go far, and carry thee along with a little grace ? To this purpose, see what the Spirit of God saith unto the church of Philadelphia : “I know thy works: Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name:” he makes it as little as may be, and yet he saith, such kept his word. It is God, that makes a little go far. Alas! (may some say) had I had so much grace and strength as such and such a one, I had not thus fallen. Thou mistakest thyself. It is not by the strength of our grace we stand, but by the blessing on a little and on much. I hinder thee not to labour for a great measure, and to use all means for it. But withal, remember this, a little strength in God's service (if thou be not a dastard) will
go far, and make thee go on unto the end. It is but courage, resolution, and endeavour, which we want, to set that little a work.
If one will go on with a little, it shall increase, and the truth will make him free.
Now consider in the next place, why doth God enable us, and free us ? Not to return to the Devil's service: but to serve God in holiness and righteousness. But here is all the matter, may some say, how shall this be done ?
The helps leading us unto freedom of sanctification, are divers. I will only touch them, because of the time.
I. The first is, “ Thed oath which he sware to our father Abraham, that he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” God hath sworn to sanctify as well as justify us. Many believe their justification, but not which is right of sanctification. They can come to ask remission of sins, because Christ hath paid the
< Rev. chap. 3. ver. 8.
d Luke, chap. 1. ver. 73.
debt, and they trust and believe in the all-sufficiency of his merits. But they are colder in begging sanctification. But, beloved, God hath as surely promised to sanctify us, as to justify. It is the nature of faith, and faith will lay hold on all promises tending to both.
What then shall we do ? God hath sworn that he will subdue our iniquities, and sanctify us : and God will have us to believe this. If one then were troubled with a great sin, that he could not master, the way is not by our own strength and industry to think to overcome it. But this were the way to break the neck of it, if one should come unto the Lord, and
say: Lord, thou hast sworn, when thou dost forgive the sin, and justify the sinner, to heal the wretchedness of nature, and sanctify it also, to yield obedience to thy commandments : good Lord, thou hast sworn, those who are justified, shall serve thee for ever, in holiness and righteousness: Therefore, since without thee we can do nothing of ourselves, not so much as to think a good thought, or speak a good word, and that thou workest all our works for us, and hast promised to subdue our iniquities : good Lord, therefore make thy promise good, for thy Christ's sake, and subdue this sin, which so vexes me every day. If a man would thus come unto God, and claim and lay fast hold of the promises, he might have sanctification as well as justification, if a man would plead for it, as for his life.
II. Further, for this a man must look upon Christ, in a threefold manner : upon his,
I. First consider (as the apostle speakse), him that endured such contradiction of sinners. Consider him in his sufferings, and then consider him as a pattern of our imitation. This the apostle points us to do, who, when he hath exhorted us to run on with patience, unto the race that is
• Heb. chap. 12. ver. 3.
set before us, he tells us how this should be done : “ Looking' unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith : who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of God.” In all troubles, sorrows, and afflictions, look unto him. Here is one means. Perhaps they call thee hypocrite, rail on thee, as a profane person, because thou runnest not with them unto the same excess of riot. How shouldest thou free thyself here ? Look on him : they did call Christ a Devil, and a Samaritan : look on him : he puts no more for thee to taste of, than he did himself deeply drink of: and now thy comfort is, that he hath taken the strength of the temptations and blows upon himself, the glancing blow only comes on thee. And therefore, as Abimelech said unto his
have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done." What did they do? In imitation of him, every one cut down his bough, and put them to the tower of Shechem; and so firing them out, chased
all the enemies : so do thou : look what Christ hath done, and what his carriage was in all the crosses of this life, and thus fire out thy spiritual enemies : so shalt thou attain this freedom.
2. Another thing in his life is, we must consider him as a pattern. If we find him rightly, we shall in him find a full overflowing fountain of virtues. Now this do, if thou findest in thyself this and that passion and vile affection strong in thee, meditate, and find thou out the contrary virtue in Christ to thy passion. As imagine it be anger, cast thy eye upon those treasures of goodness in him; look on his patience and meekness, who was dumb, and “ledh like a sheep to the slaughter, yet opened not his mouth :" look on him, who endured such contradiction of sinners, and then pray:
Lord, thou hast given unto me Christ Jesus, with all those treasures of goodness in him. I find in him a fulness of this so excellent a virtue, the contrary whereof reigns so in me. Good Lord, therefore let me be partaker of this