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Rom. Chap. V. Ver. 1.
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.
Having out of these words declared unto you the mother-grace, justification by faith, I proceed to the consideration of her daughters, those fruits or graces which spring from a true justifying faith. So that here we have the great charter and privilege that a justified man is endowed withal. First, he hath peace with God. Secondly, free access unto him. Thirdly, unspeakable joy, and that joy not only in respect of that delectable object, the hope of the glory of God in heaven hereafter; but here also, that which spoils the joy of a natural man, (afflictions, &c.) are made the matter of this man's joy.
Now concerning "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ," the first of these, I considered three parts in it.
1. What the peace was which the justified man enjoyeth.
2. The parties between whom this peace was made.
3. Who was the peace maker.
Concerning the peace I declared unto you what it was, that it was an unconceivable thing, "The peace of God that passeth all understanding;" a thing which our shallow understandings cannot reach unto, we cannot apprehend the excellency of this grace: consider its excellency by the contrary ; there is no misery in the world like that, as when a man stands at enmity with God: "Do* we provoke the Lord? Are we stronger than he?" "Ifb a man sin against a man," saith Eli, "the judge shall judge him; another man may take up the quarrel, but if a man sin against God, if the controversy be between God and us, who shall intercede for us?" Were it not for this our Peacemaker Christ Jesus, we should be in a woful condition, unless he put to his hand, and took up the matter.
Now it is a great matter to come to the fruit of peace; "thec fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." We have this fruit of peace from righteousness, we do not sow fruit but seed, the fruit comes afterwards. It is not so with a Christian, he is as sure, as if the thing were in hand, he soweth not only the seed, but the fruit of peace in righteousness, to his justification; as soon as he is justified, at that instant he hath the fruit of peace.
So we have peace, but with whom is it? it is between God and us. God, and a justified man is at peace through Jesus Christ; at the very same instant that a man is justified, he is at peace with God. This peace as I declared unto you, is a gift of an high nature, which belongs not to every man, but to the justified man only; he who is justified by faith, he only hath peace. In the Ephesians and Isaiah there are general proclamations of peace; "Peace be unto them that are near, and unto them that are afar off:" and Isaiah, chap. LVII. ver. 19. The word the apostle useth in the Ephesians, hath allusion to this in Isaiah: "I create the fruit of the lips, peace, peace to them that are afar off and to them that are nigh, saith the Lord, and I will heal them; but the wicked are like a troubled sea, that cannot rest. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." Though the proclamation be never so general to Jews and Gentiles, yet it belongs only to those who have peaceable minds towards God, those who will not stand on terms of rebellion against him: what madness is it to think, that if I stand in point of rebellion against God,
"1 Cor. chap. 10. ver. 22.
I should have peace with him? But I must cast down my arms, renounce my treasons, and I must come with a subject's mind, then there will be peace, otherwise no peace. When Jehu came to revenge the quarrel of God, Joram asked him, "Is it peace, Jehu?" he answers, "Whate peace so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel, and her witchcrafts are so many!" As long as thou continuest in a course of rebellion, what hast thou to do to talk of peace? Why thinkest thou on peace, when thou art the chief rebel? As long as wickedness continues in thy heart, thou hast no peace of God by Jesus Christ.
Now it may fall out that there may be a kind of quietness in the conscience of a wicked man; but we must make a great difference between a peace and a truce; a truce is but a cessation of war, for such a time; and many times when the truce is over, it ends in greater war, because they have the more time to gather strength, and increase their forces: so there may be a peace or a truce between God and wicked men, but it is the highest judgment that can be upon a wicked man to be thus let alone; but it is not so with godly men; God breaks their peace, and hedges up their way with thorns, and many times torments their conscience, and breaks their peace; but when God suffers a sinner to thrive in sin, when he suffers him to go on so long, that his own honour is almost touched ; " I' held my peace," saith God, "then thou thoughtest me to be such a one as thyself." God holds his peace, then the sinner saith, God doth not heed. However the preacher amplifies these things, God is not so terrible as they make him: well, but though God hold his peace long, yet at last he will speak; "Oh, consider this, ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver you." When the time of the truce is out, then the conscience is like a fierce mastiff; the longer he is tied, the more fierce he is when he is let loose: so conscience, when he hath been long quiet and tied up, when God lets loose the cords thereof, it will be more fierce than ever be
fore, it will then fly like a mastiff in thy face, and as it were tear thy throat; and then there will be in thee the very flashings of hell.
Now there is a great difference between the peace of God's children, and this little cessation of war in the consciences of wicked men: "Wheng the strong man armed, keeps the house, the goods that he possesseth are in peace." When Satan is the master, and thou dost his will, and he hath thee at command, he doth not trouble thee; when he keeps the house, the goods are in peace; but when a stronger than he comes, and puts him out of possession, then comes the strife and debate. Look therefore to thy peace; is it such a peace as thou hast never found any conflict, any stirring, striving betwixt the strong man and the weak? suspect that peace; that is not the peace of a justified man, but of such a one who is held by the prince of darkness.
2. Again, how comes this peace to wicked men? they consider not the wrath of God, nor the danger of sin; they consider not that" Tophet11 is prepared of old," if they did but consider this, it would spoil their sport, and break their peace: but now a justified man, he knows what sin is, and what hell is; and at that very time, when he is thinking of his sins, and of damnation, when he knoweth that this is the reward of God's enemies, he hath peace even then. This proceedeth from the sense of God's frank and free remission in Christ, with which the children of God are much affected. St. Augustine cries out: "Quid' retribuam Domino, quod recolit haec memoria mea, et anima mea non metuit! inde diligam te Domine, et gratias agam, &c. What shall I render unto the Lord, that I recollect these impurities and monsters of sin, and yet am not overwhelmed with consternation in the recognition of them! I will love thee, O Lord, and give thee thanks, and confess to thy name." The other, the wicked, they shut their eyes that they may not see their danger; and because
f Luke, chap. 11. ver. 21. h Isaiah, chap. 30. ver. 33.
1 Confess. 2. 7.
they discern it not, therefore they are at peace. A man in a dark night going over a dangerous bridge, that if he miss but a step he is drowned, yet he passeth over securely, and is not afraid, because he wanteth light to discover the danger; but bring him the next day, and show him what a danger he escaped, and the thoughts of it will make him quake and tremble, though the danger be past: so these men, being in darkness, see not their danger, and therefore do not fear; but God's child having his eyes in his head, discerns the danger, and sees also how he is delivered by Jesus Christ: he is at peace, not because he seeth not the danger of the way, but because he knows that God made the way broad by Jesus Christ, and so is freed from sin and death.
Now to speak something to them that have this true and sound peace, this peace is with God; I showed you the last time that this peace is not always in their own conscience, but is such on God's part, which is the safe part; many reasons there are, why God doth not show it unto them; though all be quiet betwixt God and them, yet they have not an apprehension of it in their consciences.
I showed that this is "many times their own fault," because they will not be comforted; all their thoughts are bent upon their sins, and their provocations of God, and they have not an eye open, to look upon the mercies of Christ; they put it off, and will not be comforted: and if they put it off from themselves, no marvel if they have not peace in their consciences.
This may come by reason of the great conflict before in the conscience: God raiseth a great storm, and when he intends to bring a man to some great work, or to a great deal of joy, he first humbleth him; the Prince of our salvation was consecrated by afflictions, and we must be conformable unto Christ our Head; when the storms are past, the sea will continue raging for a while; and when you have turned the wheel round, if you take away your hand, it will go round itself for a time: so when you are justified by faith, the storm is over, yet the roaring of the