« AnteriorContinuar »
 The Inward Dictates of your own Consciences and the Motions of the Holy Spirit may cease. Conscience may be bribed to silence: and the Holy Ghost may be commissionated to depart after this present opportunity; and never more may you have its breathings and movings upon your hearts, if you do not now listen to them.
 If inward motions do continue, are you sure, after this moment's refusal, that you shall obtain that Grace from God, that may make you willing to close with those motions? Leave, not, therefore, the eternal salvation of your precious and immortal
souls at such hazards and delays. Now is the acceptable time
now is the day of salvation: To-day, therefore, if ye will hear hit voice, even while it is called To-day, harden not your hearts; for this is the only time and season for working.
2. As you must work speedily, without delay; so you must work Constantly, without cessation or intermission.
To stand still, is to backslide; and to cease working,is to undo and unravel what you have wrought. You are not like men, that row in a still water; who, though they slack their course, yet find themselves in the same station: but you are to go against tide and stream; the tide of your own corruptions, and the stream of other men's actions and examples. And the least intermission, here, will be to your loss: hereby you will be carried far down the tide; yea, and much pains and labour will scarce suffice to regain what a little sloth hath lost.
So much for this text.
The Lord make what hath been spoken profitable! Amen.
ASSURANCE OF HEAVEN AND SALVATION,
- POWERFUL MOTIVE
SERVE GOD WITH FEAR.
HEB. xii. 28, 29.
WHEREFORE WE RECEIVING A KINGDOM WHICH CANNOT BE MOVED, LET US HAVE GRACE, WHEREBY WE MAY SERVE GOD ACCEPTABLY, WITH REVERENCE AND GODLY FEAR: FOR OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE.
i His text contains in it a Doctrine, a Use, and a Motive.
The Doctrine is, We have received a kingdom which
cannot be moved. The Use or Inference from thence is this: Therefore,
let us serve God. And the Motive, to enforce this exhortation, is in these words, for our God is a consuming fire. First. In the first part, which is the Thesis or Position, We have received a kingdom which cannot be moved, we must know, there is a Twofold Kingdom: a Kingdom of Grace, set up in the heart of a saint, where Christ alone reigns as sole monarch and sovereign; and a Kingdom of Glory, prepared for us in the highest heavens, where we shall reign as kings with Christ for ever.
If we take it in the former sense, for the Kingdom of Grace, so the Apostle saith, we have a kingdom, that is, we have it already in possession. Christ hath established his dominion over every believer: and, though he sits personally upon his throne in heaven; yet he rules in us by the vicegerency and deputation of his Spirit that received commission from him, and also by the law of his Word enacted by it.
If we understand it in the latter sense, for the Kingdom of Glory, which seems most congruous to the design of the Apostle, so, also, we have a kingdom, and that in a Fourfold sense.
By Grace, giving us the earnest of it.
By Faith, realizing it.
By Hope, embracing it. And,
By the Promises, assuring of it. first. We have a Kingdom of Glory, in the Earnest and First-Fruits of it.
The comforts and graces of the Spirit are very often, in Scripture, called the earnest of our inheritance: so you have it in 2 Cor. i. 22. and in Eph. i. 14. An earnest, you know, is always part of the bargain: so God, to assure us that he is in earnest when he promiseth heaven and glory to us, hath already given us part of it in the graces of his Spirit. Grace and glory are one and the same thing, in a different print, in a smaller and a greater letter: here, we have heaven in seminal inchoation; hereafter, we shall haye it in consummate perfection: glory lies couched and compacted in grace, as the beauty of a flower lies couched and eclipsed in the seed: therefore the Psalmist saith,Psalm xcvii. 11 .That Light is sown for the righteous: that is, the light of joy and of a future life are in the graces of God's children as in their seed, and they shall certainly bud and sprout forth into perfect happiness.
Secondly. We have a Kingdom of Glory, because Faith realizeth things future, and giveth an existence and being to things that are not.
This is that grace* to which nothing is past nor nothing future. It contracts all things into present time, and makes all actually existent. It draws things, that are at a great distance from it, near to itself: and thus the Galatians' faith represented 'the death of Christ so visibly to them, that the Apostle told them, he was crucified among them: Gal. iii. 1. It dives down into the gulf of future times, and fetcheth up things that as yet are hot. It is much at one to a strong faith, to have heaven, or to believe it: this grace makes heaven as really present, as if it were already in possession: and therefore it is called, in Heb. xi. 1. the evidence of things not seen, and the substance of things hoped for: it is the very being of things hoped for; the being of those things, that as yet have no being.
Thirdly. We have a Kingdom of Glory, as in the view of faith, so also in the embraces of Hope.
And therefore hope is called, the anchor of the soul that en
tereth into that within the veil: Heb. vi. 19. that is, into heaven: it lays hold on all that glory, that is there laid up and kept in reversion for us. Hope is, in itself, a solid and substantial possession; for it stirs up the same affections, it excites the same joy, delight, and complacency, as fruition itself doth. It is the taster of all our comforts: and, if they be but temporal, it not only tastes them, but sometimes quite devours them ; and leaves us in suspense, whether it be not better to be expectants than enjoyers. Heavenly hope gives the same real contentment and satisfaction: it antedates our glory; and puts us into the possession of our inheritance, whilst we are yet in our nonage: only it doth not spend and devour its object, beforehand, as earthly hope doth.
Fourthly. We have a Kingdom of Glory, because God hath assured to us the possession of it by his immutable word of Promise.
And therefore it is called eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, liath promised: Tit. i. 2. God's word is as good security, as actual possession. It is this word, that gives us right and title to it: and this right we may well call ours. Hence we
have it, and it is observable, Mark xvi. 16. He, that believcth
shall be saved: here is assurance of salvation, for the future. But, in John iii. 18. it is, He, that belicoeth not, is condemned already. He, that believeth, shall be saved: He, that believeth not, is condemned already. Unbelievers are no more actually condemned, than believers are actually saved: only, what God promiseth, or what God threateneth, it is all one whether he saith it is done or it shall be done; for damnation is as sure to the one, and salvation as certain to the other, as if they were already in their final estate. So, then, we have a kingdom: that is, God, who cannot lie, hath promised it; and his promise is as much as actual possession itself.
This kingdom is described to us, in the text, to be immoveable: We have a kingdom, which cannot be moved. It is not like the kingdoms of the earth, that are all subject to earthquakes and commotions; but we have a kingdom, which cannot be moved. And, if we understand this of the Kingdom of Grace in the hearts of believers, then the sense is, it can never be so moved as to be utterly removed: though it be shaken and battered, yet the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal on it, The Lord knoweth who are his; as the Apostle speaks, 2 Tim. ii. 19: indeed., as all earthquakes are caused by some vapours included in the bowels of the earth, so is there enough in us to cause shakings and earthquakes: there are those corrupt and sinful steams of lusts, that are still working and heaving in our breasts; that, were not God's truth, wisdom, and power all engaged to keep and preserve us, we should be soon moved from our standing and overthrown. If we understand by it the Kingdom of Glory, that is certainly immoveable: We have a kingdom, which cannot be moved: there, we shall be free from the temptations of Satan, from the infirmities and corruptions of the flesh, from the mutability and fickleness of our own wills; and shall have a blessed necessity imposed upon us, to be for ever holy, and to be for ever happy.
So much for the thesis, We have a kingdom that cannot be moved.
Secondly. From the thesis, the Apostle proceeds to draw a Practical Inference: wherein we may observe, both what he exhorts us unto, and how we ought to do it.
The matter of the duty, to which he exhorts us, is, Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God.
The manner how we ought to serve God is set down in one
word, and that is acceptably: Let us serve God acceptably.
which that we may do, he directs us to the means; and that is, in all our serving of God let us address ourselves to him, with reverence and godly fear: let us serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear.
I shall only, as I pass along, take a taste of this part of the text, before I fix upon what I principally intend. The word here translated reverence signifies shamefacedness orbash/ulness; such, as is commendable in inferiors, while they are in the presence of their superiors. And it implies in it two things: first, consciousness of our own vileness and unworthiness: se