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66 Ify one
Christ, could wish that there were no God, because he hateth God. Now God being his enemy, it is a hatred, when he could wish his enemy were not at all : God being his enemy, he could wish there were no Deity at all. But hath God no more enemies? Yes, until we were reconciled we were all enemies unto him. So the apostlex saith, “ if whilst we
were enemies, we were reconciled unto God by the death of his Son." God's children until their reconciliation are also enemies. Now the point is who shall take up the matter betwixt God and us. Old Eli asketh this question of his sons :
man sin against another, the judge will judge it, but if a man sin against the Lord, who will plead for him ?” And Job he complaineth”, that God was not a man like unto him to answer him in judgment, neither was there any umpire to lay his hand upon both. This then is no small controversy to end; to find one to lay his hand upon both. But God's mighty power doth it. Our Emanuel, Christ Jesus, he putteth one hand upon the Father and another upon us, so making perfect atonement and reconciliation by the union of his two natures. Now there are a select company who are partakers of this reconciliation, the lintels and posts of whose doors are sealed with the blood of the Lamb. Every one shall not be partaker of the benefit of his redemption, but the chosen of God; the wicked shall have no part therein. It may be, some will here object, that I restrain and shut up this precious redemption in a corner, which was sent unto all; and that I preach desperation. No, I tell you I preach not desperation. I confess the merit and value of this blood to be of infinite price, that it was sufficient for ten thousand worlds much more to one. I confess it was sent, and is freely offered unto all; but if thou refuse it, if thou wilt not accept of it, (it being only powerful unto those who accept the same,) if, I say, thou refuse to receive it, and cleave fast unto Christ in sign of thy acceptation, what portion hast thou in him ? God
y 1 Sam. chap. 2. ver. 25.
* Rom. chap. 5. ver. 10. * Job, chap. 9. ver. 32.
sendeth continually unto us by the preaching of the word, private and public means desiring us to be reconciled and come unto him, laying hold of Christ's blood and righteousness as means of reconciliation. When we put him off with excuses, and will not come when he calleth, how can we escape damnation ? Again, some there are, who embrace the feet of him that bringeth glad tidings cheerfully, the feet of peace being joyful unto them. These may boldly be without fear, they are delivered from the hands, power, and fear of their enemies. The Lord is merciful unto such with a marvellous mercy. This is then our blessed estate, that although all of us deserve to drink a full measure of the cup of his wrath (by nature being enemies), yet such is his love, that he will suffer the Son to take us out of his own hands, thereby to obtain our freedom. After which (whatsoever we were before) he is content to look upon us in his beloved Son, yea, he is well pleased with our persons and actions being in him. So the apostle saitha, “ that being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” Christ being with his righteousness apprehended and made ours, then there is peace with God, there is no fear of enemies. God's children, I confess, so long as they live, shall never be so freed that they shall have no enemies; for the devil, he knows he must fly away, with broken head at the last, yet he will love to be doing still, and vex such, whom he cannot master at his will. But here is our comfort, we are delivered from the power and fear of our enemies. We fear him not, but know assuredly, as the apostle to the Romans speaketh", that our God, according to his promise, even the God of peace, will tread down Satan under our feet, yet will the Lord have us to be his instruments in this action, for the greater ignominy unto Satan, and our own good. Therefore must we be content to fight in patience the Lord's battles, until by his might we be finally victorious. But what more? The Lord will have Satan even to be our drudge; he shall, in spite of him, do us service. The devil, he buffeted Saint
* Rom. chap. 5. ver. 1.
6 Rom. chap. 16. ver. 20.
Paul, but to what end did the Lord suffer him? Was it not to master and tame his corruptions, to keep him humble, and the like. The devil is but a drudge to Paul and all the faithful in this kind. So also Christ telleth unto Peter, “Simono, Simon, Satan hath desired to winnow thee, as wheat, but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.” We know that any kind of corn is so much the better when the chaff is removed. The devil doth the faithful this service, he winnoweth their corruptions away by his temptations, and buffetings, that they may be clean wheat for the Lord's garner; he shall do us this drudgery service in spite of him, he shall do us good service. It is no wonder that we be buffeted by him many times, for though we escape his thraldom, yet can we as yet not fly so far but he will overtake us; no wonder then thou endure many skirmishes, and that thy enemies' fury be great and full of rage, when thou hast escaped him, and yet he beset thee with more fury than ever. The children of God for the most part have most cause to rejoice in their greatest afflictions and trials. For be thou sure if the devil and thy spiritual enemies had that possession of thee which thou under the cross fearest, if thou wert shut up in their prison, what needed all this stir for a thing in possession. Thou shouldest surely then have peace. Let us then comfort ourselves in whatsoever troubles, for God is our help and stay in trouble, ready to be found, if we be too weak for our enemies. God he will fight for us, he will put the devil to flight.
And here is our exceeding comfort that now also the captain being put to flight, the soldiers will likewise quickly ily: the devil being subdued, death also, and all the rest of our enemies, they shall also fly away. Death it shall not hurt us; of an enemy and a cruel enemy it shall prove our best friend. The apostle Paul, having found his great misery, by the continual combats betwixt the flesh and the spirit, 'with his own weakness to resist and the excellency of our freedom from such heavy crosses, at last you see he wishes deliverance, crying out :
c Luke, chap. 22. ver. 31.
d Rom, chap. 7. ver. 24.
wretched man, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” Why dost thou ask who shall deliver thee? I tell thee being in Christ death itself shall deliver thee, even this enemy shall prove thy faithful friend. Death shall do thee this good service. It shall bring thee pure unto heaven.
All this lumpish heaviness and corruption which now procureth unto thee so many sorrows, shall all by death be taken away; it shall be unto thee the Lord's refining pot, to purge away all the dross of thy corruptions, that thou mayest be pure gold for the Lord's treasury.
And lastly, death shall be unto thee but as the porter of Heaven, to open the door of thy celestial Canaan and new Jerusalem unto thee. Who although he be a churlish porter, yet courage, for he will lead thee unto Heaven. Do you think that a weary prisoner (who had long lain miserably afflicted and loaded with bolts and chains) would much respect the ugliness of his jailor, who should come for his enlargement; nay, would not rather the joyful expectation of liberty to see his own country, rejoice with his friends, and acquaintance, and the like, rather so transport him with joy, that he would not regard the ugliness of the porter. So we are all in prison here in this life, fettered with the cords of sin, and our own corruptions, whereby we live in continual sorrow, longing for liberty, to be clothed with our house which is from heaven. This is our country, death he cometh to set us at liberty ; let us not then regard the ugliness of his shape, nor his grim countenance; but rather let our minds be wrapped up with joyful liberty at hand, to come unto our heavenly country, to have eternal life free from all miseries, to have the fruition of God's countenance. The company of all saints, and our dear friends and acquaintance, let these and the like meditations sweeten the bitterness of death, and then our supposed enemy will prove our faithful friend.
The Papists dream of a Purgatory, a third place by the way; but let them and this accursed doctrine, which hath no warrant from Scripture, perish. Let us who have not thus learned Christ, never think of these fooleries; we acknowledge no such thing, but an immediate passage after death, either to eternal joys, or perpetual shame and contempt.
Thus you see we are freed by death, and as the apostle speaketh, yet are we not hurt thereby. Death is swallowed up in victory. Oh death (saith he) where is thy sting ? Oh grave where is thy victory ? The apostle triumpheth over all, giving thanks unto God at last for our victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Death indeed was fearful with a sting, but now the sting of death is gone and the strength thereof also, we ought not to fear it. I confess death at first is ugly, like unto a serpent whose sting we fear. Aye, but I say look nearer unto him, and if thou be in Christ, the sting is gone; and then as men take a stingless serpent into their bosom, playing with it boldly, so mayest thou do unto death, now that sin the sting thereof is gone, fear not him now who is thy friend. Death is swallowed up in victory. Yet, that we may be freed from our enemies, and not fear them, it is here further required, to attain unto this assurance; we must observe yet a third point, which is that,
Such must serve him for ever in holiness and righteous
But, may some object, we like this very well; if the sting of death be gone, then will we fear no more, we will be careless and live as we list. But, I would ask of such, Aye, but how knowest thou the truth of thy justification ? it is not enough that thou see, but thou must show evidence to prove the same by an holy life. Thou must serve him therefore without fear all the days of thy life, in holiness and righteousness, in justification and sanctification, these must go together. Those who are assured of the truth of their justification, it is impossible that they should be the servants of sin. No justification unto thee without serving of God in holiness. Neither let any say or object that in this I preach desperation ; no, I preach not desperation; I confess there is no sin so great, but there is mercy for the same, if we repent. And that nothing can bar us of the same but our impeni