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tained; in both distinguished from faith that gives us a real interest in forgiveness.
Of the first, or the spiritual sense that we have of acceptance with God, there are sundry parts or degrees; as first, hereunto belongs peace with God ; Rom. v. 1. • Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.' This peace is the rest and composure of the soul emerging out of troubles, upon the account of the reconciliation and friendship made for it by the blood of Christ. And it hath, as all peace hath, two parts; first, a freedom from war, trouble, and distress; and secondly, rest, satisfaction, and contentment in the condition attained. And this, at least the second part of it, belongs unto the spiritual sense that we inquire after. Again, there is in it joy in the holy ghost,' called 'joy unspeakable, and full of glory,' 1 Pet. i. 8. as also glorying in the Lord, upon the account of his grace, Isa. xlv. 25. with many the like effects, proceeding from a shedding abroad of the love of God in our hearts;' Rom. v. 5.
Yea, you say these are the things you aim at; these are the things you would attain, and be filled withal. It is this peace, this joy, this glorying in the Lord, that you would always be in the possession of. I say you do well to desire them, to seek and labour after them; they are purchased by Christ for believers; but you will do well to consider under what notion you do desire them. If you look on these things as belonging to the essence of faith, without which you can have no real interest in forgiveness or acceptance with God, you greatly deceive your own souls, and put yourselves out of the way of obtaining of them. These things are not believing, nor adequate effects of it so as immediately to be produced wherever faith is. But they are such consequents of it, as may or may not ensue upon it, according to the will of God. Faith is a seed that contains them virtually; and out of which they may be in due time educed by the working of the word and Spirit. And the way for any soul to be made partaker of them, is to wait on the sovereignty of God's grace, who createth peace in the exercise of faith
upon the promises. He then that would place believing in these things, and will not be persuaded that he doth believe, until he is possessed of them; he doth both lose the benefit, advantage, and comfort of what he hath, and neglecting the due acting of faith, puts himself out of the way of attaining what he aimeth at.
These things therefore are not needful to give you a real, saving interest in forgiveness, as it is tendered in the promise of the gospel by the blood of Christ. And it may be it is not the will of God, that ever you should be intrusted with them. It may be, it would not be for your good and advantage so to be. Some servants that are ill husbands, must have their wages kept for them to the year's end, or it will do them no good. It may be some would be such spendthrifts of satisfying peace and joy, and be so diverted by them from attending unto some necessary duties, as of humiliation, mortification, and self-abasement, without which their souls cannot live, that it would not be much to their advantage to be intrusted with them. It is from the same care and love, that peace and joy are detained from some believers, and granted unto others.
You are therefore to receive forgiveness by a pure act of believing, in the way and manner before at large described. And do not think that it is not in you, unless you have constantly a spiritual sense of it in your hearts. See in the mean time that your faith bringeth forth obedience, and God in due time will cause it to bring forth peace.
The like may be said concerning the other head of grace; though it be not so direct unto our purpose, yet tending also to the relief of the soul in its depths. This is the grace that we have from God in Christ for our sanctification. When the soul cannot find this in himself, when he hath not a spiritual sense and experience of its in-being and power, when it cannot evidently distinguish it from that which is not right or genuine; it is filled with fears and perplexities, and thinks it is yet in its sin. He is so indeed who hath no grace in him; but not he always who can find none in him. But these are different things. A man may have grace, and yet not have it at sometimes much acting; he may have grace'for life, when he hath it not for fruitfulness and comfort, though it be his duty so to have it, Rev. iii. 2. 2 Tim. i. 6. And a man may have grace acting in him, and yet not know, not be sensible that he hath acting grace. We see persons frequently under great temptations of apprehension that they have no grace at all, and yet at the same time to the clearest conviction of all who are able to discern spiritual things, sweetly and genuinely to act faith, love, submission unto God, and that in a high and eminent manner, Psal. lxxxviii. Heman complains that he was 'free among the dead;' a man of no strength,' ver. 4, 5. as one that had no spiritual life, no grace. This afflicted his mind, and almost distracted him, ver. 15. and yet there can be no greater expressions of faith and love to God, than are mixed with his complaints.
These things, I say then, are not to be judged of by spiritual sense, but we are to live by faith about them. And no soul ought to conclude, that because it hath not the one, it hath not the other; that because it hath not joy and peace, it hath no interest in pardon and forgiveness.
The seventh rule. Mix not foundation and building work together. The
eighth; spend not time in heartless complaints, &c. Mix not too much foundation and building work together. Our foundation in dealing with God is Christ alone, mere grace and pardon in him.
Our building is in and by holiness and obedience, as the fruits of that faith by which we have received the atonement. And great mistakes there are in this matter which bring great entanglements on the souls of men. Some are all their days laying of the foundation, and are never able to build upon it unto any comfort to themselves, or usefulness unto others. And the reason is, because they will be mixing with the foundation, stones that are fit only for the following building. They will be bringing their obedience, duties, mortification of sin, and the like, unto the foundation. These are precious stones to build with, but unmeet to be first laid to bear upon them the whole weight of the building. The foundation is to be laid, as was said, in mere grace, mercy, pardon in the blood of Christ. This the soul is to accept of and to rest in merely as it is grace, without the consideration of any thing in itself, but that it is sinful and obnoxious unto ruin : this it finds a difficulty in, and would gladly have something of its own to mix with it. It cannot tell how to fix these foundation stones without some cement of its own endeavours and duty. And because these things will not mix, they spend a fruitless labour about it all their days. But if the foundation be of grace, it is not at all of works; for otherwise grace is no more grace.' Ifany thing of our own be mixed with grace in this matter, it utterly destroys the nature of grace ; which if it be not alone, it is not at all. But doth this not tend to licentiousness ? doth not this render obedience, holiness, duties, mortification of sin, and good works, needless ? God forbid; yea, this is the only way to order them aright unto the glory of God. Have we nothing to do but to lay the foundation? Yes, all our days we are to build upon it, when it is surely and firmly laid. And these are the means and ways of our edification. This then is the soul to do who would come to peace and settlement. Let it let go all former endeavours if it have been engaged unto any of that kind; and let it alone receive, admit of, and adhere to, mere grace, mercy, and pardon, with a full sense that in itself it hath nothing for which it should have an interest in them, but that all is of mere grace through Jesus Christ. Other foundation can no man lay.' Depart not hence until this work be well over. Surcease not an earnest endeavour with your own hearts to acquiesce in this righteousness of God, and to bring your souls unto a comfortable persuasion that God for Christ's sake hath freely forgiven you all your sins.' Stir not hence until this be effected. If you have been engaged in another way, that is, to seek for an interest in the pardon of sin by some endeavours of your own, it is not unlikely but that you are filled with the fruit of your own doings; that is, that you go on with all kind of uncertainties, and without any kind of constant peace. Return then again hither; bring this foundation work to a blessed issue in the blood of Christ, and when that is done, up and be doing.
You know how fatal and ruinous it is for souls to abuse the grace of God, and the apprehension of the pardon of sins in the course of their obedience; to countenance themselves in sin, or the negligence of any duty; this is to turn the
grace of God into wantonness, as we have elsewhere at large declared. And it is no less pernicious to bring the duties of our obedience, any reserves for them, any hopes
about them, into the matter of pardon and forgiveness, as we are to receive them from God. But these things, as they are distinct in themselves, so they must be distinctly managed in the soul; and the confounding of them, is that which disturbs the peace and weakens the obedience of many. In a confused manner they labour to keep up a life of grace and duty, which will be in their places conjoined, but not mixed or compounded.
First, to take up mercy, pardon, and forgiveness absolutely on the account of Christ, and then to yield all obedience in the strength of Christ, and for the love of Christ, is the life of a believer ; Eph. ii. 8-10.
Take heed of spending time in complaints, when vigorous actings of grace are your duty. Fruitless and heartless complaints, bemoanings of themselves and their condition, is the substance of the profession that some make. If they can object against themselves, and form complaints out of their conditions, they suppose they have done their duty. I have known some who have spent a good part of their time in going up and down from one to another with their objections and complaints. These things are contrary to the life of faith. It is good indeed, in our spiritual distresses, to apply ourselves unto them who are furnished with the tongue of the learned, to know how to speak a word in season unto him that is weary. But for persons to fill their minds and imaginations with their own objections and complaints, not endeavouring to mix the words that are spoken for their relief and direction with faith, but going on still in their own way, this is of no use or advantage. And yet some, I fear, may please themselves in such course, as if it had somewhat of eminency in religion in it.
Others, it may be, drive the same trade in their thoughts, although they make not outwardly such complaints. They are conversant for the most part with heartless despondings. And in some they are multiplied by their natural constitutions or distempers. Examples of this kind occur unto us every day, Now what is the advantage of these things ? what did Sion get when she cried, “The Lord hath forsaken me,