صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

xi. 20.

xi. 21.

66

than the lowing of beasts before him. Well (saith the Rom. Apostle), by their unbelief they are broken off, and thou 22. dost stand by thy Faith : behold therefore the bountifulness and severity of God; towards them severity, because they have fallen, bountifulness towards thee, if thou continue in his bountifulness, or else thou shalt be cut off.” If they forsake their unbelief and be grafted in again, and we at any time for the hardness of our hearts be broken off, it will be such a judgment as will amaze all the powers and principalities which are above. Who hath searched the counsel of God concerning this secret? And who doth not see, that Infidelity doth threaten Lo-ammi unto the Gen-Hosea tiles, as it hath brought Lo-ruhamah upon the Jews? It i. 6. may be that these words seem dark unto you: but the words of the Apostle, in the eleventh to the Romans, are plain enough; “ If God have not spared the natural branches, take heed, take heed, lest he spare not thee :" build thyself in Faith. Thus much of the thing which is prescribed, and wherein we are exhorted to edify” ourselves. Now consider the conditions and properties which are in this place annexed unto Faith. The former of them (for there are but two) is this, “ Edify yourselves in your Faith.”

21. A strange and a strong delusion it is wherewith the Man of Sin hath bewitched the world ; a forcible spirit of error it must needs be, which hath brought men to such a senseless and unreasonable persuasion as this is, not only that men clothed with mortality and sin, as we ourselves are, can do God so much service as shall be able to make a full and a perfect satisfaction before the tribunal seat of God for their own sins, yea, a great deal more than is sufficient for themselves; but also, that a man at the hands of a Bishop or a Pope, for such or such a price, may buy the overplus of other men's merits, purchase the fruits of other men's labours, and build his soul by another man's Faith. Is not this man drowned in the gall of bitterness? Is his heart right in the sight of God? Can he have any part or fellowship with Peter, and with the successors of Peter, which thinketh so vilely of building the precious Temples of the Holy Ghost? Let his money perish with him, [Acts and he with it, because he judgeth that the gift of God may

X. 20.]

be sold for money.

" The

22. But, beloved in the Lord, deceive not yourselves, neither suffer ye yourselves to be deceived: ye can receive no more ease nor comfort for your souls by another man's faith, than warmth for your bodies by another man's clothes,

or sustenance by the bread which another doth eat. (Hab. just shall live by his own Faith.”

or Let a Saint, yea a Martyr, content himself that he hath cleansed himself of his own sins" (saith Tertullian). No Saint or Martyr can cleanse himself of his own sins. But if so be a Saint or a Martyr can cleanse himself of his own sins, it is sufficient that he can do it for himself. Did ever any man by his death deliver another man from death, except only the Son of God ? He indeed was able to safe-conduct a thief from the cross to Paradise: for to this end he came, that being himself pure from sin, he might obey for sinners. Thou which thinkest to do the like, and supposest that thou canst justify another by thy righteousness, if thou be without sin, then lay down thy life for thy brother; die for me. But if thou be a sinner, even as I am a sinner, how can the oil of thy lamp be sufficient both for thee and for me? Virgins that are wise, get ye oil, while ye have day, into your own lamps: for out of all peradventure, others, though they would, can neither give nor sell. “ Edify yourselves in your own most holy Faith.” And let this be observed for the first property of that wherein we ought to edify ourselves.

23. Our Faith being such, is that indeed which St. Jude

doth here term “ Faith:" namely, a thing “ most holy." [Rom. The reason is this, we are justified by Faith: for Abraham iv. 22.) believed, and this was imputed unto him for righteousness.

Being justified, all our iniquities are covered; God beholdeth us in the righteousness which is imputed, and not in the sins which we have committed.

24. It is true we are full of sin, both original and actual;

whosoever denieth it is a double sinner, for he is both a [1 Johu sinner and a liar. To deny sin, is most plainly and clearly i. 8.)

to prove it; because he that saith he hath no sin, lieth, and by lying proveth that he hath sin.

25. But imputation of righteousness hath covered the sins of every soul which believeth; God by pardoning our sin hath taken it away: so that now, although our transgressions be multiplied above the hairs of our head, yet

xxxii.1.]

being justified, we are as free and as clear as if there were no one spot or stain of any uncleanness in us. For it is God that justifieth ; " And who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's chosen ?” saith the Apostle in Romans.

(viii.33.) 26. Now sin being taken away, we are made the righteousness of God in Christ: for David, speaking of this righteousness, saith, “ Blessed is the man whose iniquities (Psalm are forgiven." No man is blessed, but in the righteousness of God: every man whose sin is taken away is blessed; therefore every man whose sin is covered, is made the righteousness of God in Christ. This righteousness, doth make us to appear most holy, most pure, most unblameable before him.

27. This then is the sum of that which I say, Faith doth justify; Justification washeth away sin; sin removed, we are clothed with the Righteousness which is of God; the righteousness of God maketh us most Holy. Every of these I have proved by the testimony of God's own mouth; therefore I conclude, that Faith is that which maketh us most holy, in consideration whereof, it is called in this place, “ Our most holy Faith.”

28. To make a wicked and a sinful man most holy through his believing, is more than to create a world of nothing. Our Faith most holy! Surely, Solomon could not shew the Queen of Sheba so much treasure in all his Kingdom, as is lapt up in these words. Othat our hearts were stretched out like tents, and that the eyes of our understanding were as bright as the sun, that we might throughly know the riches of the glorious inheritance of Saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us, whom he accepteth for pure, and most holy, through our believing! O that the Spirit of the Lord would give this doctrine entrance into the stony and brazen heart of the Jew, which followeth the Law of Righteous- [Rom. ness, but cannot attain unto the Righteousness of the Law! 31–33.] Wherefore, saith the Apostle, they seek Righteousness, and not by Faith ; wherefore they stumble at Christ, they are bruised, shivered to pieces, as a ship that hath run herself

O that God would cast down the eyes of the proud, and humble the souls of the high-minded! that they might at the length abhor the garments of their

upon a rock.

own flesh, which cannot hide their nakedness, and put on

the Faith of Christ Jesus, as he did put it on, which hath (Phil. ili. said, “ Doubtless I think all things but loss, for the excel8, 9.]

lent knowledge' sake of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have counted all things loss, and do judge them to be dung, that I might win Christ, and might be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the Law; but that which is through the Faith of Christ, even the Righteousness which is of God through Faith.” O that God would open the Ark of mercy, wherein this doctrine lieth, and set it wide before the eyes of poor afflicted consciences, which fly up and down upon the water of their afflictions, and can see nothing but only the gulf and deluge of their sins, wherein there is no place for them to rest their feet. The God of pity and compassion give you all strength and courage, every day, and every hour, and every moment, to build and “edify yourselves” in this most pure and “ holy Faith.” And thus much both of the thing prescribed in this exhortation, and also of the properties of the thing, “ Build yourselves in your most holy Faith.” I would come to the next branch, which is of Prayer ; but I cannot lay this matter out of my hands, till I have added somewhat for the applying of it, both to others and to ourselves.

29. For your better understanding of matters contained in this exhortation, “ Build yourselves,” you must note, that every Church and Congregation doth consist of a multitude of believers, as every house is built of many stones. And although the nature of the mystical body of

the Church be such, that it suffereth no distinction in the (1 Cor. visible members, but whether it be Paul or Apollos, Prince

or Prophet, he that is taught, or he that teacheth, all are equally Christ's, and Christ is equally theirs: yet in the external administration of the Church of God, because God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, it is necessary that in every Congregation there be a distinction, if not of inward dignity, yet of outward degree; so that all are Saints, or seem to be Saints, and should be as they seem: but are all Apostles? If the whole body were an eye, where

were then the hearing? God, therefore, hath given some [Eph. iv. to be Apostles, and some to be Pastors, &c. “ for the edifi11, 12.) cation of the Body of Christ.” In which work“

iii. 22,

23.)

we are

2, 3.

God's labourers (saith the Apostle), and ye are God's (1 Cor.

lii. 9.] husbandry, and God's building."

30. The Church, respected with reference unto Administration Ecclesiastical, doth generally consist but of two sorts of men, the Labourers and the Building; they which are ministered unto, and they to whom the work of the Ministry is committed; Pastors, and the Flock over whom the Holy Ghost hath made them Overseers. If the Guide of a congregation, be his name or his degree whatsoever, be diligent in his vocation, feed “ the Flock of God' which 1 Pet. v: dependeth upon him, caring for it “not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; not as though he would tyrannize over God's heritage, but as a pattern unto the Flock," wisely guiding them: if the People in their degree do yield themselves frameable to the truth, not like rough stone or flint, refusing to be smoothed and squared for the building: If the Magistrate do carefully and diligently survey the whole order of the work, providing by Statutes and Laws, and bodily punishments, if need require, that all things may be done according to the rule which cannot deceive; even as Moses provided, that all things might be done according to the pattern which he saw in the Mount; there the words of this exhortation are truly and effectually heard. Of such a congregation every man will say, “Behold a people that are wise, a people that walk in the Statutes and Ordinances of their God, a people full of knowledge and understanding, a people that have skill in building themselves.” Where it is otherwise, there,

as by slothfulness the roof doth decay;" and as by" idleness of hands the house droppeth through," as it is in Ecclesiastes x. 18. so first one piece, and then another of their building shall fall away, till there be not a stone left upon a stone.

31. We see how fruitless this exhortation hath been to such as bend all their travail only to build [and] manage a Papacy upon earth, without any care in the world of building themselves in their “most holy Faith.” God's people have enquired at their mouths, “ What shall we do to have eternal Life?” Wherein shall we build and edify ourselves? And they have departed home from their Prophets, and from their Priests, laden with doctrines which are precepts of men; they have been taught to tire out themselves with

VOL. III.

K K

« السابقةمتابعة »