Some of the duties of such, as live the life of Justification, proposed.
††††††††† In the last place, we shall mention this use of the truth, formerly cleared and confirmed, in reference to such as have attained unto this life of justification, through faith, which everyone may readily see, that it is the duty of such, as are made partakers of this life, to beware of such things, as may and will provoke the Lord to anger; and will be unsuitable for them, who are thus graciously advanced to such an high state and privilege of grace; and to mind such duties, as do most suit such, as are so highly advanced, and so greatly obliged to Him, that hath thus called them effectually, by his grace, and hath wrought up their hearts unto a full compliance with the Gospel-contrivance of free-grace. Many such particular duties might here be mentioned: but I shall only point at a few, to which others may be reduced.
††††††††† 1. Such, as live this life of Gospel Justification, should beware of entertaining thoughts of pride, or of boasting of anything, they have freely and graciously received, and particularly, they should guard against boasting in this matter, that they are preferred to others, and brought out of a state of death, when others are left yet to lie there into. This whole matter is so contrived, and so wisely framed, that no ground of boasting, either before God, or man, may be left unto man; but that everyone may celebrate the praise of free grace. Therefore justification is not by works, or by our obedience to the Law; for then the justified man, being justified upon the account of his own works, or of the works of righteousness, which he hath done, should have ground of glorying, though not before God, yet before men; as having by his own sweat, working and doing, obtained that, which others by their laziness, negligence and not doing, have come short of. Paul tells us expressly, Romans 4: 2, If Abraham were justified by works, he hath to glory, but not before God: and this is further confirmed in verse 4, Now to him, that worketh, is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. So that if justification were by works, justification itself, and all the consequences thereof should be due debt unto the worker, and his reward: and so, as the hireling may boast of his labor, when he gets his hire and reward; so the justified man, if justification were by the works of the Law, might boast of his own pains and diligence, as having received but his reward, and that which was due to him of debt, and not of grace. But now, that all mouths may be stopped, and no flesh might glory, or have ground of boasting, in themselves, and before others, the Lord hath contrived a far other way of justification, to wit, by faith alone, whereby the man goes out of himself, renounces all his own righteousness, professes himself poor,
naked and miserable, and a plain devoir, and utterly non-solvendo, and lays hold on a complete and all sufficient righteousness, in Jesus Christ; and so hath no ground of boasting or glorying even before men: for it is nothing that is in him; or that he doth, that is that righteousness, upon the account of which he is justified; but only the righteousness of Christ without him. It is not his faith, not his works, nor his righteousness; but Christís righteousness is equally imputed to all believers, to the weakest believer, as well as to the strongest; and so the strongest believer hath no ground of boasting before the weakest. Where is boasting then? (says the Apostle, Romans 3: 27.) It is excluded by what Law? Of works? nay; but by the Law of faith.
††††††††† 2. Upon the other hand, let all such glory in the Lord, and in His free grace and gracious workings; Let them say, when they reflect on this matter, not unto us Lord, not unto us, but unto thee be the glory, seeing the matter is so contrived, as that all the justified may see, that God may only have the glory of all, and that none ought to share with him; that he alone should wear the crown; and all his glorified ones should most cheerfully cast their crowns down at his feet. But of him (says the Apostle, I Corinthians , 31,) are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, and Sanctification and Redemption: that, according as it is written, he that glories, let him Glory in the Lord. Christ is made all things unto and for his people, and they have all of God through him, that no flesh should glory in his presence, as it is said in verse 29. Let all such therefore, as are made partakers of this rich and honorable privilege, comply sweetly and cheerfully with this design of God, to have God alone exalted, and the mouth of all flesh stopped, that he who glories, may alone glory in the Lord.
††††††††† 3. Let such as are thus advanced, mind the great duty of holiness, and of growing in grace, and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ; the way of faith is not to make void the Law, but it doth establish it Romans 3: 31, as Christ is made of God unto us righteousness, so is he made sanctification. As he is Priest to reconcile us to God, and become righteousness to us, so is he a King to cause us to walk in the Lord, and to subdue our spiritual enemies, and so become Sanctification to us. It is the language of the flesh and of corruption, to argue from this change and advancement unto a liberty to sin. The flesh will object, Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? But the Apostle answers, Romans 6: 2 &c. God forbid, how shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? It is repugnant to the nature of that state, whereinto now they are brought to give way to sin: Therefore the justified should mind what they are called to, and what new grounds, new advantages, new helps, new encouragements they have unto holiness, that they had not before, all plainly and fully set down by Paul in Romans 6 and elsewhere.
††††††††† 4. How should they commend and cry up the free grace of God, and that love that visited them, when they were lying in their blood, and no eye pitied them. They were ungodly and without strength, yet Christ died for them, Romans 5: 6, and the Lord did justify the ungodly, even them, who had no righteousness of their own, nor nothing to commend them unto him,
Romans 4: 5. Yea were sin abounded, grace did much more abound, Romans 5: 20. Not only had they nothing more than others to commend them unto God, but even they had less, and yet God through free grace set his love upon the less worthy; for, says Paul (I Corinthians 1: 26, 27, 28) ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world, and things which are despised hath God chosen, and things which are not, to bring to naught things which are. That no flesh should glory in his presence. Should not the thoughts of this raise their wondering, and cause them to speak to the commendation of the rich and free grace of God?
††††††††† 5. Let such as are brought into this state of life, wherein they have peace with God, and are reconciled to Him, through Jesus Christ, carry as persons no more strangers unto him, and as foreigners, but as now made nigh by the blood of Jesus; and therefore let such remember, that through him, they have an access by one Spirit unto the Father, being now fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, Ephesians 2: 13, 14, 18, 19, Romans 5: 2. Therefore they should improve this advantage, both for their own good and for the good of others; and should exercise communion and fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ and so walk with him, as agreed with him, and have their conversation in heaven. Hath the Lord brought them into his household, yea and admitted them to his presence, that they may <?> his hand, and stand before his face continually, in the lower chamber of presence; and should they behave as yet estranged from him? Is He at peace with them, and should they have jealous thoughts of Him? Is He reconciled unto them, and should they act as keeping up some grudge against Him?
††††††††† 6. Such should account this state, whereinto now they are brought, their only blessedness here below. Even as David (says Paul Romans 4: 6, 7, 8) also describes the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputes righteousness without works, saying, blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered: blessed is the man unto whom the Lord will not impute sin. Here is the poor self condemned sinnerís blessedness, that he hath a righteousness imputed to him, who had none of his own, and who thereupon hath his iniquities forgiven, covered, and not imputed. And such as are made partakers of this blessedness, should account it their happiness, that however it be with them, as to outward things in the world, yet they are now brought within the Covenant, and are covered with the mantle of Christís righteousness and have all their iniquities covered, cast into the midst of the sea, so that they shall never be reckoned upon their score.
††††††††† 7. This should be a ground for them of glorying in the Lord, in the hardest condition, they can be into the world; being thus justified, they should glory in tribulations knowing that they can suffer no loss or disadvantage thereby, but on the contrary reap much good and advantage; for tribulation worketh in such as are thus justified, and at peace with God, patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed, because
the love of God is shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Ghost. Ought they not then to carry under all oppressions, persecutions, hard usages of men, upon the account of owning Christ and his interest, as persons that are upon the gaining hand, and reaping much spiritual advantage, being now brought through grace into such a state of life? And how would they hereby glorify God in the world?
††††††††† 8. The consideration of their present state of life, should cause them triumph, in the midst of all difficulties and temptations, that they shall meet with in their way, as knowing, that the life of justification, whereof now they are made partakers, shall continue: and that it shall end in the life of glory; for whom the Lord justifies, them he also glorifies, Romans 8: 30. Who shall then lay anything to the charge of Godís elect? It is God that justifies: who is he that condemns? Who shall then separate such from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or persecution, or distress, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay in all these things they are more than conquerors, through him that loved them: Romans 8: 33, 34, 35, 37. Hear how Paul concludes that matter for himself and others verse 38, 32, for I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God: which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Therefore should not such persons conduct themselves as those who cannot be made miserable? How much doth the Apostle insist on this, and clear it from this ground, Romans 5: 9, 10, saying, much more then being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him, for if when we were enemies, we were reconciled unto God, by the death of his Son; much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And again verse 21, That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ, our Lord. There being then a sure ground of confidence and assurance of life and of complete salvation, laid in justification, all such are called to rejoice in hope of the glory of God, Romans 5: 2. And to have confidence in the Lord, that he will perfect what he hath begun and to rest assured, that all they, which receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, shall reign in life by one Jesus Christ, Romans 5: 17.
††††††††† 9. Yea particularly, the consideration of their many sins should not discourage them, or cause them to despond: for being now justified, all their by-gone sins are pardoned, and shall not be by the Lord laid to their charge again, however the memory of them may humble them, and cause them to run to the fountain of the blood of Jesus; and all their future sins shall be pardoned, according the Gospel grounds, and after the Gospel method, so that they shall not prejudge them of their promised possession of glory and life everlasting. Now the free gift is of many offenses, unto justification, Romans 5: 16. There is a sure way laid down, in the Gospel, whereby all their sins shall be taken away, and the very body of death shall be killed more and more daily, so that they shall not finally perish, whatever Satan, and body of death within shall do, to prejudge them of the promised inheritance. Hence the Apostle infers from his foregoing discourse, Romans 8: 1.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them, which are in Christ Jesus.
††††††††† 10. Such as are thus justified, should follow the example of Paul, Philippians 3: 7, 8, 9, and so account such things less for Christ, which formerly were gain yea and count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, their Lord, yea and account them but dung, that they may win Christ, and be found in Him; Here should their heart and delight be: about this should their whole occupation be, to win and gain Christ more, to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, and to be made conformable unto his death verse 10, that hereby Christ may be their gain, their glory, and their all. How jealous should they be of their deceitful hearts, that nothing be admitted, to share of the glory due to Christ, or to possess any of that room in the heart, that is due to him? He should have the throne, for He is well worthy of it: and whatever comes in competition with him, be it within us, or without us, should be rejected that He alone may be exalted in our souls.
††††††††† 11. Such as have been made partakers of this royal life of justification, through a crucified Christ, laid hold on by faith, should labor to keep this doctrine pure both by word and deed, so far as they can, that the grace of God, that so eminently shines forth therein, may not be darkened by menís erroneous apprehensions; and that so much the rather, that Satan without and corruption within many, are so far at enmity with this doctrine of the grace of God, that they labor by all means, either more directly, or more indirectly to pervert it, and to press for a mixture of works upon one consideration, or other, in this matter, which it will not admit: and that because, it is so cross and contrary to the corrupt inclinations of man, who is so proud of nothing, that he will not be beholden to Christ for less and for more, and for all. We see Paul was most jealous in this matter, and most zealous for the truth, and therefore on all occasions did assert and vindicate it, as we may see especially in his epistle to the Galatians, where he did so zealously withstand Peter, chapter 2: 14, and immediately did state the question, verse 16, saying, knowing that a man is not justified by works of the Law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the Law, &c. adding, verse 18, that he for his part, would not build again the things, which he had destroyed, and so make himself a transgressor. Nor would he, verse 21,† frustrate the grace of God.
††††††††† 12. Finally all such, as have by faith laid hold on Christ, and his righteousness, and are by faith justified, and so made partakers of this life through faith in Christ, must resolve to abide in Christ by faith, that life may be preserved, and by new acts of faith daily on Christ, get as it were new breath, that their life may be continued, and thus live continually the life of justification by faith, and by faith take their new sins to Christ, that they may be done away in his blood; for the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, the just shall live by faith; But of this we are to speak more hereafter.