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justification, and that if there were a death unto sin, it would surely be attended with newness of life; they would serve God in holiness and righteousness.
The apostle, you see, encountereth divers objections, chiefly that of the Romanists of those days, who, bragging of their excellent and secure estate (like unto our proud Romanists now-a-days) after he had warned them not to brag of their estate, he telleth them that if the Jews, God's own people, did thus fall away, which were the true branches, how much more might they which were engrafted only. Therefore he warneth them not to be proud of any thing in themselves. And so may we also truly think of the Papists' doctrine, of their own inherent righteousness, that if this were so we overthrow grace. Our apostle, therefore, giveth all unto grace from us, arguing and urging (chiefly sanctification) to contain in it no such pride, but to be a true submission in humility to the will of God; wherein a man, viewing his total misery, ascribeth all the glory unto God; and therefore he showeth that this sanctification, and change of estates from death unto life, must needs be joined inseparably to serve God. For indeed we know that the sceptre of sin and grace will not, nor cannot stand together. Dagon must needs fall on his face before the ark of God. The apostle, therefore, alloweth of no mixture in our justification, he answereth not that we are justified by grace and works, but excluding everything in us, he giveth all unto grace. This grace is it, which doth all in all, it is this grace, whereby we stand. So that it is not possible after our new birth to sin. The dominion of sin being past, the child of God cannot sin, being once under grace. The apostle therefore maketh quite a contrary argument to that of the Papists. He showeth that by the works of the law (by any thing in us) no flesh shall be justified. They might object, but why? May not we be justified by works and grace? and therefore are in a secure estate. The stream of the apostle's disputation answereth them flatly, No. They might rather reason thus. Because I am under grace, having renounced myself wholly, to rely upon
Christ's righteousness. Therefore we are in a secure estate.
First then, from this necessity of being under one of these two estates; either, 1, the dominion and the thraldom of the law; or, 2, the freedom of grace. We may see the miserable estate of all under sin, whatsoever he be who liveth under sin. So long as a man seeth sin to have dominion over him, he hath no part of life, he is yet under the law. If then, thou wouldst be assured of thy estate, thou must go to the law, look if thou be yet under the same, look if sin hath yet dominion over thee, if thou live in thy sins, brag as thou wilt of thy justification, yet it is most certain, thou art yet holden of the law, and hast no part in Christ, for howsoever Christ when his grace quickeneth thee, findeth thee wicked, yet is it most certain that his grace never leaveth thee so in a wretched estate. For whensoever this blood of justification is truly applied to thy soul, it is most certain, that it not only covereth the wound, but it goeth further unto the root of sin, and also pulleth up that which is the very same thing the apostle in my text urgeth. That being now under grace, sin is dead, it hath no more dominion over them, who are not under the law, but under grace.
This is the comfort of God's children. From whence we may see for our instruction this first point of doctrine to be considered. That a man is in a woful and miserable estate so long as he is under the law; so long as sin hath dominion over, so long as he is without Christ. This is a most miserable slavery, when a man in this estate must be tried by the law, so cruel and severe an exactor of full payment. Now the reason of this fearfulness is, because a man who is yet under the law is cursed*. If he fulfil not all which the law requireth, even a full obedience to all, which is a thing impossible. But God's children rejoice, because they are not under the law, but under grace. The law exacteth full obedience; it exacteth, 1 say, of the wicked perfect satisfaction to all the commandments; yea
• Deut . chap. 27. ver. 26.
it searcheth unto the very thoughts, claiming the perfection of those also. Such wicked men, therefore, who will not repent, they must go to the law, they shall have no other trial. And what then? When thou art come to be tried by the law, thou shalt find small comfort there, for if thou wert miserable before, it will never a whit help thee, but give an addition to thy sorrows, for the law unto a wretched sinner is like those cruel taskmasters of Egyptb. Who if we complain to it, it will lay a greater and heavier task than before, so far is it from relieving our sorrows. No matter, will the law tell thee, whatsoever power thou wantest, or means to perform this great task of obedience, yet all must be fulfilled. But what, may some object, is not this an hard matter for the Lord to exact such perfection where it is not? To reap where he sowed not. I tell thee no; it is no injustice. The Lord is not hard, in reaping where he sowed not. It is no injustice, I say, in God to require of us the stock we once had. The law, therefore, looketh at that which we might have had, not that which we have. It is therefore by the benefit of grace, that there is any freedom from this heavy yoke of the law, and therein do we escape the burden of the law. But now, as for us, we were planted a noble vine, if now we bring forth the fruits of sin, let us look unto it, it will cost us dear in the end. The end of the commandment (saith the apostle) isc love out of a pure heart, and faith unfeigned (here is a perfection required of all) and of a good conscience. Let us build, therefore, as we list, if we lay not this foundation of a pure heart, unfeigned faith, and a good conscience, all our buildings fall unto the ground; for that sinner in whom sin beareth sway, he must expect no good. He must not think to have part in Christ. I preach not desperation, but this is most certain, that although I confess, all that repent and lay hold of Christ shall have mercy, yet what is this to thee, thou wretched man? so long as sin hath dominion over thee, what art thou? So long we are not only dead
b Exod. chap. 5. ver. 7.
c 1 Tim. chap. 1. rer. 5.
but also rotten in sin, so that it may be said of us, as it was of Lazarusd, " Lord, (saith Martha,) he stinketh already." So we are not only dead and rotten in sin, but we even stink thereof, so long as any sin or sins hath dominion over us. All this while I pray you, what doth our bodies carry about with us, but a sink of hell, and an image of destruction. It is true (I confess) that if we look upon a man we cannot perceive his misery until it break forth in some actions. Yet I look upon mine own heart, and finding it to be so wicked, I thereby judge of others. It is a sink of hell, until it be renewed. Many think it strange to be judged of. But may not a man know thou art a wicked man, when he seeth thy profane life, and dissolute courses, when he seeth thee neglect and contemn God and his servants, and piety? May not a man judge that there is fire when he seeth sparks fly. So when evil speeches, dissolute blasphemous thoughts, and deeds come from thee by action. It is a sure sign, when these sparks fly from thee, that that fire is in thy heart, which without mercy and repentance will at last bring thy soul to destruction. Yet herein is our misery so much the more fearful, that in this miserable estate of bondage to the law, not only ourselves, but also all our actions are impure, every thing which doth issue from us, every work we work, whatsoever, is abominable, and tendeth to incense and anger God against us. And then if (as it is said) the King's anger be death, how much more grievous, I pray you consider, will the anger of the King of kings be, if once his wrath be kindled against thee?
Aye, but may some wicked man say, although God the Father be thus severe, yet I will run unto Christ, he is merciful. I confess so, but to whom? Yet he is a most cruel judge, who acquitteth not but condemneth the wicked, there thou shalt be condemned, and have a cruel sentence of " Depart ye cursed," from him. Nay imagine not thou art to receive any comfort from Christ in this estate; for so long
as sin reigneth in thee, thou art but a dead creature, thou art dead. This the apostlec maketh to be the sting of death. The sting of death is sin. Sin, if thou harbour it, it will assuredly bring death, and death eternal destruction. This to be true the apostle Paul confesseth, where/ saith he, sin slew me, he all this while was but as a dead man. A most miserable thing it is to be still a dying, without any fear of death, when this death shall presently lead us to eternal destruction. The cry of Sodom was great, when yet they were lulled asleep in security, until fire and brimstone did awaken them. When a man is a sleeping, yet his sins are still a crying for vengeance to God. Many of us are like unto Cain, when we have sinned, we live secure, without any remorse for sin, or any care of the same, as though we were well. But doth thy sin for all this leave thee? Oh no! as the Lord said to Cain, sin but lyeth at thy doors sleeping, it haunteth thee but up and down; it watcheth but a fit opportunity, it watcheth but to send thee some mischief or other. It will surely kill thee at last.
Further, so long as we are under the dominion of sin and the law, we are in the power of our enemies, our most terrible foes. Ifk then the apostle so exceedingly rejoiceth to be freed from the power of these enemies, saying, if God be on our side who shall be against us, &c. Do we then think it possible for those to rejoice, who are under the power of so cruel enemies. If there the apostle so triumpheth to be freed from principalities and powers, and other inferior enemies, how much more cause of exceeding sorrow unto the wicked, is it to have God their enemy. That man whom God hateth, God is his enemy; and he in this being a wretched creature, in his conceits wishing there were no God at all. Let a wicked man consider of this, whether or not he could wish there were no God, whether or not he could wish that there were nobody to punish him. Can a man wish well unto his enemy, could he not rather wish his enemy were not at all; a wicked man could wish
c 1 Cor. chap. 15. ver. 56. 1Rom. chap. 7. ver. II,
» Rom. chap. 8. ver. 31.