AW Pink (1886-1952): The Narrow Way

The Narrow Way
By
AW Pink (1886-1952)
Copyright: Public Domain

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The Narrow Way

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Mat 7:13-14). The second half of Matthew 7 forms the applicatory part of that most important discourse of our Lord’s, known as “the Sermon on the Mount.” One leading design of that Sermon was to show the spiritual nature and wide extent of that obedience which characterizes the true subjects of Christ’s kingdom, and which obedience is absolutely necessary for the enjoyment of that ultimate state of blessedness which divine grace has provided for them. As the Prophet of God, Christ made known that the righteousness which obtains in His kingdom greatly exceeds the “righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees.”

Now, the Jews imagined that they were all of them the subjects of the Messiah’s kingdom—that by virtue of their descent from Abraham, they were the rightful heirs of it—that the “righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees” (that system of religious and moral duty taught by them) met all the requirements of God’s law. But this delusion the Lord Jesus here exposed. Fleshly descent from Abraham could not give title unto a spiritual kingdom. That which was merely natural was no qualification for the supernatural realm. Only they were accounted the true children of Abraham who had his faith (Rom 4:16), who did his works (Joh 8:39), and who were united to Christ (Gal 3:29).

In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord delineated the inward state of these who belonged to His spiritual kingdom (Mat 5:4-11), described the outward conduct by which they might be identified (Mat 5:13-16), expounded the personal righteousness which God’s justice demanded (Mat 5:17-28), and defined that utter repudiation of sin which He required from His people (Mat 5:29-30). So high are the demands of the thrice holy One, so uncompromising are the requirements of His ineffable character, that none can dwell with Him eternally who do not, in time, loathe, resist, and turn from all that is repulsive to His pure eye. Nothing short of the complete denying of self, the abandoning of the dearest idol, the forsaking of the most cherished sinful course—figuratively represented under the cutting off of a right hand and the plucking out of a right eye—is what He claims from every one who would have communion with Himself.

Such plain and pointed declarations of Christ must have seemed “hard sayings” to the multitudes who listened to Him. Such piercing and flesh-withering demands would probably cause many of His Jewish hearers to think within themselves, “Who then can be saved? This is indeed a strait gate and a narrow way.” Anticipating their secret objections, the Lord plainly declared that the gate unto salvation is “strait” and the way which leadeth unto life is “narrow.” Yet, He went on to point out, it is your wisdom, your interest, your duty to enter that “gate” and walk that “way.” He acknowledged and faithfully warned them that there was a “wide gate” soliciting their entrance, and a “broad road” inviting them to walk therein, but that gate leads to perdition, that road ends in Hell.

The “strait gate” is the only gate to “life,” the “narrow way” is the only one which conducts to heaven. Few indeed find it. Few have the least inclination for it. But that very fact ought only to provide an additional incentive to my giving all diligence to enter therein. In the verses which are now to be before us, Christ defined and described the Way of Salvation, though we (sorrowfully) admit that modern evangelists (?) rarely expound it. What we shall now endeavor to set forth is very different from what most have been taught, but you reject it at your peril. We repeat, that in the passage we are about to consider, He who was the Truth incarnate made known the only way of escaping perdition and securing heaven, namely, by entering the “strait gate” and treading the “narrow way.”

I. The Strait Gate

The Greek word for “strait” signifies restrained or “narrow” and is so rendered in the Revised Version. Now a “gate” serves two purposes—it lets in and it shuts out. All who enter this narrow gate gain admittance to that “way” which “leadeth unto life.” But all who enter not by this narrow gate are eternally barred from God’s presence. The second use of this gate is solemnly illustrated at the close of the parable of the virgins. There, our Lord pictures the foolish ones as being without the necessary “oil” (the work of the Spirit in the heart), and while they went to buy it, the Bridegroom came, and “the door was shut” (Mat 25:10). And though they then besought Him to open it to them, He answered, “I know you not.”

1. What is denoted by this figure of the “narrow gate”? We believe the reference is to the searching and solemn teaching of Him who is Truth incarnate. It is only as the heart bows to the righteousness of God’s claims and demands upon us, as set forth by His Son, that any soul can enter that path which alone leads to Him. While the heart is rebellious against Him, there can be no approach to Him, for “can two walk together except they be agreed”? It is true, blessedly and gloriously true, that Christ Himself is “the Door” (Joh 10:9), and He is so in a threefold way, according to the three principal functions of His mediatorial office. He is “the Door” into God’s presence as the Prophet, the Priest, and the King.

Now, it is only as Christ is truly received as God’s authoritative Prophet, only as His holy teachings are really accepted by a contrite heart, that any one is prepared to savingly welcome Him as Priest. Christ is the “way” and “the truth” before He is the “life” (Joh 14:6), as He is “first King of righteousness, and after that, also King of peace” (Heb 7:2). In other words, His cleansing blood is only available for those who are willing to throw down the weapons of their warfare against God, and surrender themselves to His holy rule. The wicked must forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, if he is to be pardoned by God (Isa 55:7). And this is only another way of saying that Christ must be received as Prophet, before He is embraced as Priest.

2. Why is this gate a “narrow” one? For at least three reasons. First, because of sin. “The wicked shall be turned into Hell, all the nations that forget God” (Psa 9:17)—the gate of heaven is far too narrow to admit such characters. The New Testament plainly affirms the same fact, “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them” (Eph 5:5-7). Second, because of the Law. There are two principal errors about the Law, and I know not which is the more dangerous and disastrous. That one can earn heaven by obeying it. That one may enter heaven without that personal and practical godliness which the Law requires. “Follow peace with all, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). Where there is not this personal conformity to the will of God, the strong hand of the Law will close the door of heaven. Third, because none can take the world along with him. This gate is far too “narrow” to admit those who love the world.

3. What is meant by “entering” this narrow gate? First, the acceptance of those teachings of truth, of duty, of happiness, which were unfolded by Christ. The honest and actual receiving into the heart of His holy, searching, flesh-withering instructions. Such acceptance is here figuratively represented as a person, with great difficulty, forcing his way through a circumscribed entrance. I say, “with great difficulty,” for Christ’s precepts and commandments are, to the last degree, unpalatable to an unrenewed heart, and cannot be willingly and gladly received without a rigid denial of self and relinquishment of sinful pleasures, pursuits, and interests. Christ has plainly warned us that it is impossible for a man to serve two masters. Self must be repudiated and Christ received as “the Lord” (Col 2:6), or He will not save us.

What is meant by “entering” this narrow gate? Second, a deliberate abandoning of the broad road, or the flesh-pleasing mode of life. Until this has been done, there is no salvation possible for any sinner. Christ Himself taught this plainly in Luke 15—the “prodigal” must leave the “far country” before he could journey to the Father’s house! The same pointed truth is taught again in James 4:8-10, “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

Ah, my friend, to really and actually enter this “narrow gate” is no easy matter. For that reason, the Lord bade the people, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you” (Joh 6:27). Those words do not picture salvation as a thing of simple and easy attainment. Ponder also Christ’s emphatic exhortation in Luke 13:24, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate.” That He should utter such a word clearly implies the great idleness and sloth which characterizes nominal professors, as it also intimates there are formidable difficulties and obstacles to be overcome. Let it be carefully noted that the Greek word for “strive” (viz., “agonizomai”) in Luke 13:24 is the same one that is used in 1 Corinthians 9:25, “And every one that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.” And it is also rendered, “labouring fervently” in Colossians 4:12, and “fight” in 1 Timothy 6:12!

And how are we to “strive” so as to “enter” the narrow gate? The general answer is, “lawfully” (2Ti 2:5). But to particularize, we are to strive by prayer and supplication, diligently seeking deliverance from those things which would bar our entrance. We are to earnestly cry to Christ for help from those foes which are seeking to overcome us. We are to come constantly to the Throne of Grace, that we may there find grace to help us repudiate and turn away with loathing from everything which is abhorred by God, even though it involves our cutting off of a right hand and plucking out of a right eye, and grace to help us do those things which He has commanded. We must be “temperate in all things,” especially those things which the flesh craves and the world loves.

But why is such “striving” necessary? First, because Satan is striving to destroy thy soul. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1Pe 5:8), therefore, must be resisted “steadfast in the faith.” Second, because natural appetites are striving to destroy thee, “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1Pe 2:11). Third, because the whole world is arrayed against thee, and if it cannot burn, it will seek to turn thee by alluring promises, Delilah-like guiles, fatal enticements. Unless you overcome the world, the world will overcome you to the eternal destruction of thy soul.

From what has been before us, we may plainly discover why it is that the vast majority of our fellow-men and women, yea, and of professing Christians also, will fail to reach heaven. It is because they prefer sin to holiness, indulging the lusts of the flesh to walking according to the Scriptures, self to Christ, the world to God. It is as the Lord Jesus declared, “Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Joh 3:19). Men refuse to deny self, abandon their idols, and submit to Christ as Lord, and without this, none can take the first step toward heaven!

II. The Narrow Way

Just as entering the “narrow gate” signifies the heart’s acceptance of Christ’s holy teaching, so to walk along the “narrow way” means for the heart and life to be constantly regulated thereby. Walking along the narrow way denotes a steady perseverance in faith and obedience to the Lord Jesus, overcoming all opposition, and rejecting every temptation to forsake the path of fidelity to Him. It is called the “narrow way” because all self-pleasing and self-seeking is shut out. In Genesis 18:19, it is called “the way”; in 1 Samuel 12:23, “the good and right way”; in Psalms 25:9, “his way”; in Proverbs 4:11, “the way of life”; in Isaiah 35:8, “the way of holiness”; in Jeremiah 6:16, “the good way”; in 2 Peter 2:2, “the way of truth”; and in 2 Peter 2:15, “the right way.”

The narrow way must be followed, no matter how much it may militate against my worldly interests. It is right here that the testing point is reached. It is much easier (unto the natural man) and far pleasanter to indulge the flesh and follow our worldly propensities. The broad road, where the flesh is allowed “liberty”—under the pretense of the Christian’s not “being under the law”—is easy, smooth, and attractive, but it ends in “destruction”! Though the “narrow way” leads to life, only FEW tread it. Multitudes make a profession and claim to be saved, but their lives give no evidence that they are “strangers and pilgrims” here, with their “treasure” elsewhere. They are afraid of being thought narrow and peculiar, strict and puritanic. Satan has deceived them. They imagine that they can get to heaven by an easier route than by denying self, taking up their cross daily, and following Christ!

There are multitudes of religionists who are attempting to combine the two “ways,” making the best of both worlds and serving two masters. They wish to gratify self in time and enjoy the happiness of heaven in eternity. Crowds of nominal Christians are deluding themselves into believing that they can do so, but they are terribly deceived. A profession which is not verified by mortifying the deeds of the body in the power of the Spirit (Rom 8:13) is vain. A faith which is not evidenced by complete submission to Christ is only the faith of demons. A love which does not keep Christ’s commandments is an imposition (Joh 14:23). A claim to being a Christian, where there is no real yieldedness to the will of God, is daring presumption. The reason why so few will enter life is because the multitudes are not seeking it in the way of God’s appointing. None seek it aright save those who pass through the narrow gate, and who, despite many discouragements and falls, continue to press forward along the narrow way.

Now notice, carefully, the very next thing which immediately follows our Lord’s reference to the two ways in Matthew 7, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Mat 7:15). Why does this come in next? Who are the “false prophets” against which a serious soul needs to be on his guard? They are those who teach that heaven may be reached without treading the narrow way! They are those who loudly insist that eternal life may be obtained on much easier terms. They come in “sheep’s clothing.” They appear (to undiscerning souls) to exalt Christ, to emphasize His precious blood, to magnify God’s grace. BUT, they do not insist upon repentance. They fail to tell their hearers that nothing but a broken heart which hates sin can truly believe in Christ. They declare not that a saving faith is a living one which purifies the heart (Act 15:9) and overcomes the world (1Jo 5:4).

These “false prophets” are known by their “fruits,” the primary reference being to their “converts”—the fruits of their fleshly labours. Their “converts” are on the broad road, which is not the path of open wickedness and vice, but of a religion which pleases the flesh. It is that “way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Pro 14:12). Those who are on this broad road (this way which “seemeth right” to so many), have a head-knowledge of the truth, but they walk not in it. The “narrow way” is bounded by the commandments and precepts of Scripture. The broad road is that path which has broken out beyond the bounds of Scripture. Titus 2:12-13 supplies the test as to which “way” we are in, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.”

Ere closing, let us anticipate and seek to remove an objection. Probably many of you are saying, “I thought Christ was the way to the Father (Joh 14:6). So He is, but how? First, in that He has removed every legal obstacle, and thereby opened a way to heaven for His people. Second, in that He has “left us an example that we should follow HIS steps.” The mere opening of a door does not give me entrance into a house. I must tread the path leading to it, and mount the steps. Christ has, by His life of unreserved obedience to God, shown us the way which leads to heaven, “When he putteth forth his own sheep, HE goeth before them, and the sheep follow him” (Joh 10:4). Third, in that He is willing and ready to bestow grace and strength to walk therein.

Christ did not come here and die in order to make it un-necessary for me to please and obey God. No, indeed! “He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them” (2Co 5:15). “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world” (Gal 1:4). “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works (Ti 2:14). Christ came here to “save his people from their sins” (Mat 1:21), and if you are not now delivered from the power of sin, from the deceptions of Satan, from the love of the world, and from the pleasing of self, then you are NOT saved.

May it please the God of all grace to add His blessing.

(The above is an address delivered by A. W. Pink in Glenolden (a suburb of Philadelphia) on September 28, 1931.)

Matthew Henry (1662-1714): Romans 4, 5 and 6 Commentary

Matthew Henry (1662-1714)

Romans 4, 5 and 6 Commentary

Copyright: Public Domain

 

Romans 4 Chapter Overview

The great gospel doctrine of justification by faith without the works of the law was so very contrary to the notions the Jews had learnt from those that sat in Moses’ chair, that it would hardly go down with them; and therefore the apostle insists very largely upon it, and labours much in the confirmation and illustration of it. He had before proved it by reason and argument, now in this chapter he proves it by example, which in some places serves for confirmation as well as illustration. The example he pitches upon is that of Abraham, whom he chooses to mention because the Jews gloried much in their relation to Abraham, put it in the first rank of their external privileges that they were Abraham’s seed, and truly they had Abraham for their father. Therefore this instance was likely to be more taking and convincing to the Jews than any other. His argument stands thus: “All that are saved are justified in the same way as Abraham was; but Abraham was justified by faith, and not by works; therefore all that are saved are so justified;” for it would easily be acknowledged that Abraham was the father of the faithful. Now this is an argument, not only à pari – from an equal case, as they say, but à fortiori – from a stronger case. If Abraham, a man so famous for works, so eminent in holiness and obedience, was nevertheless justified by faith only, and not by those works, how much less can any other, especially any of those that spring from him, and come so far short of him in works, set up for a justification by their own works? And it proves likewise, ex abundanti – the more abundantly, as some observe, that we are not justified, no not by those good works which flow from faith, as the matter of our righteousness; for such were Abraham’s works, and are we better than he? The whole chapter is taken up with his discourse upon this instance, and there is this in it, which hath a particular reference to the close of the foregoing chapter, where he has asserted that, in the business of justification, Jews and Gentiles stand upon the same level. Now in this chapter, with a great deal of cogency of argument, I. He proves that Abraham was justified not by works, but by faith (Rom 4:1-8). II. He observes when and why he was so justified (Rom 4:9-17). III. He describes and commends that faith of his (Rom 4:17-22). IV. He applies all this to us (Rom 4:22-25). And, if he had now been in the school of Tyrannus, he could not have disputed more argumentatively.

Romans 4:1-8

Here the apostle proves that Abraham was justified not by works, but by faith. Those that of all men contended most vigorously for a share in righteousness by the privileges they enjoyed, and the works they performed, were the Jews, and therefore he appeals to the case of Abraham their father, and puts his own name to the relation, being a Hebrew of the Hebrews: Abraham our father. Now surely his prerogative must needs be as great as theirs who claim it as his seed according to the flesh. Now what has he found? All the world is seeking; but, while the most are wearying themselves for very vanity, none can be truly reckoned to have found, but those who are justified before God; and thus Abraham, like a wise merchant, seeking goodly pearls, found this one pearl of great price. What has he found, kata sarkaas pertaining to the flesh, that is, by circumcision and his external privileges and performances? These the apostle calls flesh, Phi 3:3. Now what did he get by these? Was he justified by them? Was it the merit of his works that recommended him to God’s acceptance? No, by no means, which he proves by several arguments.

I. If he had been justified by works, room would have been left for boasting, which must for ever be excluded. If so, he hath whereof to glory (Rom 4:2), which is not to be allowed. “But,” might the Jews say, “was not his name made great (Gen 12:2), and then might not he glory?” Yes, but not before God; he might deserve well of men, but he could never merit of God. Paul himself had whereof to glory before men, and we have him sometimes glorying in it, yet with humility; but nothing to glory in before God, 1Co 4:4; Phi 3:8, Phi 3:9. So Abraham. Observe, He takes it for granted that man must not pretend to glory in any thing before God; no, not Abraham, as great and as good a man as he was; and therefore he fetches an argument from it: it would be absurd for him that glorieth to glory in any but the Lord.

II. It is expressly said that Abraham’s faith was counted to him for righteousness. What saith the scripture? Rom 4:3. In all controversies in religion this must be our question, What saith the scripture? It is not what this great man, and the other good man, say, but What saith the scripture? Ask counsel at this Abel, and so end the matter, 2Sa 2:18. To the law, and to the testimony (Isa 8:20), thither is the last appeal. Now the scripture saith that Abraham believed, and this was counted to him for righteousness (Gen 15:6); therefore he had not whereof to glory before God, it being purely of free grace that it was so imputed, and having not in itself any of the formal nature of a righteousness, further than as God himself was graciously pleased so to count it to him. It is mentioned in Genesis, upon occasion of a very signal and remarkable act of faith concerning the promised seed, and is the more observable in that it followed upon a grievous conflict he had had with unbelief; his faith was now a victorious faith, newly returned from the battle. It is not the perfect faith that is required to justification (there may be acceptable faith where there are remainders of unbelief), but the prevailing faith, the faith that has the upper hand of unbelief.

III. If he had been justified by faith, the reward would have been of debt, and not of grace, which is not to be imagined. This is his argument (Rom 4:4, Rom 4:5): Abraham’s reward was God himself; so he had told him but just before (Gen 15:1), I am thy exceeding great reward. Now, if Abraham had merited this by the perfection of his obedience, it had not been an act of grace in God, but Abraham might have demanded it with as much confidence as ever any labourer in the vineyard demanded the penny he had earned. But this cannot be; it is impossible for man, much more guilty man, to make God a debtor to him, Rom 11:35. No, God will have free grace to have all the glory, grace for grace’s sake, Joh 1:16. And therefore to him that worketh not – that can pretend to no such merit, nor show any worth or value in his work, which may answer such a reward, but disclaiming any such pretension casts himself wholly upon the free grace of God in Christ, by a lively, active, obedient faith – to such a one faith is counted for righteousness, is accepted of God as the qualification required in all those that shall be pardoned and saved. Him that justifieth the ungodly, that is, him that was before ungodly. His former ungodliness was no bar to his justification upon his believing: ton asebēthat ungodly one, that is, Abraham, who, before his conversion, it should seem, was carried down the stream of the Chaldean idolatry, Jos 24:2. No room therefore is left for despair; though God clears not the impenitent guilty, yet through Christ he justifies the ungodly.

IV. He further illustrates this by a passage out of the Psalms, where David speaks of the remission of sins, the prime branch of justification, as constituting the happiness and blessedness of a man, pronouncing blessed, not the man who has no sin, or none which deserved death (for then, while man is so sinful, and God so righteous, where would be the blessed man?) but the man to whom the Lord imputeth not sin, who though he cannot plead, Not guilty, pleads the act of indemnity, and his plea is allowed. It is quoted from Psa 32:1, Psa 32:2, where observe, 1. The nature of forgiveness. It is the remission of a debt or a crime; it is the covering of sin, as a filthy thing, as the nakedness and shame of the soul. God is said to cast sin behind his back, to hide his face from it, which, and the like expressions, imply that the ground of our blessedness is not our innocency, or our not having sinned (a thing is, and is filthy, though covered; justification does not make the sin not to have been, or not to have been sin), but God’s not laying it to our charge, as it follows here: it is God’s not imputing sin (Rom 4:8), which makes it wholly a gracious act of God, not dealing with us in strict justice as we have deserved, not entering into judgment, not marking iniquities, all which being purely acts of grace, the acceptance and the reward cannot be expected as debts; and therefore Paul infers (Rom 4:6) that it is the imputing of righteousness without works. 2. The blessedness of it: Blessed are they. When it is said, Blessed are the undefiled in the way, blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the wicked, etc., the design is to show the characters of those that are blessed; but when it is said, Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven, the design is to show what that blessedness is, and what the ground and foundation of it. Pardoned people are the only blessed people. The sentiments of the world are, Those are happy that have a clear estate, and are out of debt to man; but the sentence of the word is, Those are happy that have their debts to God discharged. O how much therefore is it our interest to make it sure to ourselves that our sins are pardoned! For this is the foundation of all other benefits. So and so I will do for them; for I will be merciful, Heb 8:12.

Romans 4:9-17

St. Paul observes in this paragraph when and why Abraham was thus justified; for he has several things to remark upon that. It was before he was circumcised, and before the giving of the law; and there was a reason for both.

I. It was before he was circumcised, Rom 4:10. His faith was counted to him for righteousness while he was in uncircumcision. It was imputed, Gen 15:6, and he was not circumcised till ch. 17. Abraham is expressly said to be justified by faith fourteen years, some say twenty-five years, before he was circumcised. Now this the apostle takes notice of in answer to the question (Rom 4:9), Cometh this blessedness then on the circumcision only, or on the uncircumcision also? Abraham was pardoned and accepted in uncircumcision, a circumstance which, as it might silence the fears of the poor uncircumcised Gentiles, so it might lower the pride and conceitedness of the Jews, who gloried in their circumcision, as if they had the monopoly of all happiness. Here are two reasons why Abraham was justified by faith in uncircumcision: –

1. That circumcision might be a seal of the righteousness of faith, Rom 4:11. The tenour of the covenants must first be settled before the seal can be annexed. Sealing supposes a previous bargain, which is confirmed and ratified by that ceremony. After Abraham’s justification by faith had continued several years only a grant by parole, for the confirmation of Abraham’s faith God was pleased to appoint a sealing ordinance, and Abraham received it; though it was a bloody ordinance, yet he submitted to it, and even received it as a special favour, the sign of circumcision, etc. Now we may hence observe, (1.) The nature of sacraments in general: they are signs and seals – signs to represent and instruct, seals to ratify and confirm. They are signs of absolute grace and favour; they are seals of the conditional promises; nay, they are mutual seals: God does in the sacraments seal to us to be to us a God, and we do therein seal to him to be to him a people. (2.) The nature of circumcision in particular: it was the initiating sacrament of the Old Testament; and it is here said to be, [1.] A sign – a sign of that original corruption which we are all born with, and which is cut off by spiritual circumcision, – a commemorating sign of God’s covenant with Abraham, – a distinguishing sign between Jews and Gentiles, – a sign of admission into the visible church, – a sign prefiguring baptism, which comes in the room of circumcision, now under the gospel, when (the blood of Christ being shed) all bloody ordinances are abolished; it was an outward and sensible sign of an inward and spiritual grace signified thereby. [2.] A seal of the righteousness of the faith. In general, it was a seal of the covenant of grace, particularly of justification by faith – the covenant of grace, called the righteousness which is of faith (Rom 10:6), and it refers to an Old Testament promise, Deu 30:12. Now if infants were then capable of receiving a seal of the covenant of grace, which proves that they then were within the verge of that covenant, how they come to be now cast out of the covenant and incapable of the seal, and by what severe sentence they were thus rejected and incapacitated, those are concerned to make out that not only reject, but nullify and reproach, the baptism of the seed of believers.

2. That he might be the father of all those that believe. Not but that there were those that were justified by faith before Abraham; but of Abraham first it is particularly observed, and in him commenced a much clearer and fuller dispensation of the covenant of grace than any that had been before extant; and there he is called the father of all that believe, because he was so eminent a believer, and so eminently justified by faith, as Jabal was the father of shepherds and Jubal of musicians, Gen 4:20, Gen 4:21. The father of all those that believe; that is, a standing pattern of faith, as parents are examples to their children; and a standing precedent of justification by faith, as the liberties, privileges, honours, and estates, of the fathers descend to their children. Abraham was the father of believers, because to him particularly the magna charta was renewed. (1.) The father of believing Gentiles, though they be not circumcised. Zaccheus, a publican, if he believe, is reckoned a son of Abraham, Luk 19:9. Abraham being himself uncircumcised when he was justified by faith, uncircumcision can never be a bar. Thus were the doubts and fears of the poor Gentiles anticipated and no room left to question but that righteousness might be imputed to them also, Col 3:11; Gal 5:6. (2.) The father of believing Jews, not merely as circumcised, and of the seed of Abraham according to the flesh, but because believers, because they are not of the circumcision only (that is, are not only circumcised), but walk in the steps of that faith – have not only the sign, but the thing signified – not only are of Abraham’s family, but follow the example of Abraham’s faith. See here who are the genuine children and lawful successors of those that were the church’s fathers: not those that sit in their chairs, and bear their names, but those that tread in their steps; this is the line of succession, which holds, notwithstanding interruptions. It seems, then, those were most loud and forward to call Abraham father that had least title to the honours and privileges of his children. Thus those have most reason to call Christ Father, not that bear his name in being Christians in profession, but that tread in his steps.

II. It was before the giving of the law, Rom 4:13-16. The former observation is levelled against those that confined justification to the circumcision, this against those that expected it by the law; now the promise was made to Abraham long before the law. Compare Gal 3:17, Gal 3:18. Now observe,

1. What that promise was – that he should be the heir of the world, that is, of the land of Canaan, the choicest spot of ground in the world, – or the father of many nations of the world, who sprang from him, besides the Israelites, – or the heir of the comforts of the life which now is. The meek are said to inherit the earth, and the world is theirs. Though Abraham had so little of the world in possession, yet he was heir of it all. Or, rather, it points at Christ, the seed here mentioned; compare Gal 3:16, To thy seed, which is Christ. Now Christ is the heir of the world, the ends of the earth are his possession, and it is in him that Abraham was so. And it refers to that promise (Gen 12:3), In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

2. How it was made to him: Not through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. Not through the law, for that was not yet given: but it was upon that believing which was counted to him for righteousness; it was upon his trusting God, in his leaving his own country when God commanded him, Heb 11:8. Now, being by faith, it could not be by the law, which he proves by the opposition there is between them (Rom 4:14, Rom 4:15): If those who are of the law be heirs; that is, those, and those only, and they by virtue of the law (the Jews did, and still do, boast that they are the rightful heirs of the world, because to them the law was given), then faith is made void; for, if it were requisite to an interest in the promise that there should be a perfect performance of the whole law, then the promise can never take its effect, nor is it to any purpose for us to depend upon it, since the way to life by perfect obedience to the law, and spotless sinless innocency, is wholly blocked up, and the law in itself opens no other way. This he proves, Rom 4:15. The law worketh wrath – wrath in us to God; it irritates and provokes that carnal mind which is enmity to God, as the damming up of a stream makes it swell – wrath in God against us. It works this, that is, it discovers it, or our breach of the law works it. Now it is certain that we can never expect the inheritance by a law that worketh wrath. How the law works wrath he shows very concisely in the latter part of the verse: Where no law is there is no transgression, an acknowledged maxim, which implies, Where there is a law there is transgression and that transgression is provoking, and so the law worketh wrath.

3. Why the promise was made to him by faith; for three reasons, Rom 4:16. (1.) That it might be by grace, that grace might have the honour of it; by grace, and not by the law; by grace, and not of debt, nor of merit; that Grace, grace, might be cried to every stone, especially to the top-stone, in this building. Faith hath particular reference to grace granting, as grace hath reference to faith receiving. By grace, and therefore through faith, Eph 2:8. For God will have every crown thrown at the feet of grace, free grace, and every song in heaven sung to that tune, Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name be the praise. (2.) That the promise might be sure. The first covenant, being a covenant of works, was not sure: but, through man’s failure, the benefits designed by it were cut off; and therefore, the more effectually to ascertain and ensure the conveyance of the new covenant, there is another way found out, not by works (were it so, the promise would not be sure, because of the continual frailty and infirmity of the flesh), but by faith, which receives all from Christ, and acts in a continual dependence upon him, as the great trustee of our salvation, and in whose keeping it is safe. The covenant is therefore sure, because it is so well ordered in all things, 2Sa 23:5. (3.) That it might be sure to all the seed. If it had been by the law, it had been limited to the Jews, to whom pertained the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law (Rom 9:4); but therefore it was by faith that Gentiles as well as Jews might become interested in it, the spiritual as well as the natural seed of faithful Abraham. God would contrive the promise in such a way as might make it most extensive, to comprehend all true believers, that circumcision and uncircumcision might break no squares; and for this (Rom 4:17) he refers us to Gen 17:5, where the reason of the change of his name from Abram – a high father, to Abraham – the high father of a multitude, is thus rendered: For a father of many nations have I made thee; that is, all believers, both before and since the coming of Christ in the flesh, should take Abraham for their pattern, and call him father. The Jews say Abraham was the father of all proselytes to the Jewish religion. Behold, he is the father of all the world, which are gathered under the wings of the Divine Majesty. – Maimonides.

Romans 4:17-22 (continues on with v. 17)

Having observed when Abraham was justified by faith, and why, for the honour of Abraham and for example to us who call him father, the apostle here describes and commends the faith of Abraham, where observe,

I. Whom he believed: God who quickeneth. It is God himself that faith fastens upon: other foundation can no man lay. Now observe what in God Abraham’s faith had an eye t – o that, certainly, which would be most likely to confirm his faith concerning the things promised: – 1. God who quickeneth the dead. It was promised that he should be the father of many nations, when he and his wife were now as good as dead (Heb 11:11, Heb 11:12), and therefore he looks upon God as a God that could breathe life into dry bones. He that quickeneth the dead can do any thing, can give a child to Abraham when he is old, can bring the Gentiles, who are dead in trespasses and sins, to a divine and spiritual life, Eph 2:1. Compare Eph 1:19, Eph 1:20. 2. Who calleth things which are not as though they were; that is, creates all things by the word of his power, as in the beginning, Gen 1:3; 2Co 4:6. The justification and salvation of sinners, the espousing of the Gentiles that had not been a people, were a gracious calling of things which are not as though they were, giving being to things that were not. This expresses the sovereignty of God and his absolute power and dominion, a mighty stay to faith when all other props sink and totter. It is the holy wisdom and policy of faith to fasten particularly on that in God which is accommodated to the difficulties wherewith it is to wrestle, and will most effectually answer the objections. It is faith indeed to build upon the all-sufficiency of God for the accomplishment of that which is impossible to anything but that all-sufficiency. Thus Abraham became the father of many nations before him whom he believed, that is, in the eye and account of God; or like him whom he believed; as God was a common Father, so was Abraham. It is by faith in God that we become accepted of him, and conformable to him.

II. How he believed. He here greatly magnifies the strength of Abraham’s faith, in several expressions. 1. Against hope, he believed in hope, Rom 4:18. There was a hope against him, a natural hope. All the arguments of sense, and reason, and experience, which in such cases usually beget and support hope, were against him; no second causes smiled upon him, nor in the least favoured his hope. But, against all those inducements to the contrary, he believed; for he had a hope for him: He believed in hope, which arose, as his faith did, from the consideration of God’s all-sufficiency. That he might become the father of many nations. Therefore God, by his almighty grace, enabled him thus to believe against hope, that he might pass for a pattern of great and strong faith to all generations. It was fit that he who was to be the father of the faithful should have something more than ordinary in his faith – that in him faith should be set in its highest elevation, and so the endeavours of all succeeding believers be directed, raised, and quickened. Or this is mentioned as the matter of the promise that he believed; and he refers to Gen 15:5, So shall thy seed be, as the stars of heaven, so innumerable, so illustrious. This was that which he believed, when it was counted to him for righteousness, Rom 4:6. And it is observable that this particular instance of his faith was against hope, against the surmises and suggestions of his unbelief. He had just before been concluding hardly that he should go childless, that one born in his house was his heir (Rom 4:2, Rom 4:3); and this unbelief was a foil to his faith, and bespeaks it a believing against hope. 2. Being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body, Rom 4:19. Observe, His own body was now dead – become utterly unlikely to beget a child, though the new life and vigour that God gave him continued after Sarah was dead, witness his children by Keturah. When God intends some special blessing, some child of promise, for his people, he commonly puts a sentence of death upon the blessing itself, and upon all the ways that lead to it. Joseph must be enslaved and imprisoned before he be advanced. But Abraham did not consider this, su katenoēsehe did not dwell in his thoughts upon it. He said indeed, Shall a child be born to him that is a hundred years old? Gen 17:17. But that was the language of his admiration and his desire to be further satisfied, not of his doubting and distrust; his faith passed by that consideration, and thought of nothing but the faithfulness of the promise, with the contemplation whereof he was swallowed up, and this kept up his faith. Being not weak in faith, he considered not. It is mere weakness of faith that makes a man lie poring upon the difficulties and seeming impossibilities that lie in the way of a promise. Though it may seem to be the wisdom and policy of carnal reason, yet it is the weakness of faith, to look into the bottom of all the difficulties that arise against the promise. 3. He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief (Rom 4:20), and he therefore staggered not because he considered not the frowns and discouragements of second causes; su diekrithēhe disputed not; he did not hold any self-consultation about it, did not take time to consider whether he should close with it or no, did not hesitate nor stumble at it, but by a resolute and peremptory act of his soul, with a holy boldness, ventured all upon the promise. He took it not for a point that would admit of argument or debate, but presently determined it as a ruled case, did not at all hang in suspense about it: he staggered not through unbelief. Unbelief is at the bottom of all our staggerings at God’s promises. It is not the promise that fails, but our faith that fails when we stagger. 4. He was strong in faith, giving glory to God, enedunamōthēhe was strengthened in faith, his faith got ground by exercise – crescit eundo. Though weak faith shall not be rejected, the bruised reed not broken, the smoking flax not quenched, yet strong faith shall be commended and honoured. The strength of his faith appeared in the victory it won over his fears. And hereby he gave glory to God; for, as unbelief dishonours God by making him a liar (1Jo 5:10), so faith honours God by setting to its seal that he is true, Joh 3:33. Abraham’s faith gave God the glory of his wisdom, power, holiness, goodness, and especially of his faithfulness, resting upon the word that he had spoken. Among men we say, “He that trusts another, gives him credit, and honours him by taking his word;” thus Abraham gave glory to God by trusting him. We never hear our Lord Jesus commending any thing so much as great faith (Mat 8:10 and Mat 15:28): therefore God gives honour to faith, great faith, because faith, great faith, gives honour to God. 5. He was fully persuaded that what God had promised he was able to perform, plērophorētheiswas carried on with the greatest confidence and assurance; it is a metaphor taken from ships that come into the harbour with full sail. Abraham saw the storms of doubts, and fears, and temptations likely to rise against the promise, upon which many a one would have shrunk back, and lain by for fairer days, and waited a smiling gale of sense and reason. But Abraham, having taken God for his pilot, and the promise for his card and compass, resolves to weather his point, and like a bold adventurer sets up all his sails, breaks through all the difficulties, regards neither winds nor clouds, but trusts to the strength of his bottom and the wisdom and faithfulness of his pilot, and bravely makes to the harbour, and comes home an unspeakable gainer. Such was his full persuasion, and it was built on the omnipotence of God: He was able. Our waverings rise mainly from our distrust of the divine power; and therefore to fix us it is requisite we believe not only that he is faithful, but that he is able, that hath promised. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness, Rom 4:22. Because with such a confidence he ventured his all in the divine promise, God graciously accepted him, and not only answered, but out-did, his expectation. This way of glorifying God by a firm reliance on his bare promise was so very agreeable to God’s design, and so very conducive to his honour, that he graciously accepted it as a righteousness, and justified him, though there was not that in the thing itself which could merit such an acceptance. This shows why faith is chosen to be the prime condition of our justification, because it is a grace that of all others gives glory to God.

Romans 4:23-25

In the close of the chapter, he applies all to us; and, having abundantly proved that Abraham was justified by faith, he here concludes that his justification was to be the pattern or sampler of ours: It was not written for his sake alone. It was not intended only for an historical commendation of Abraham, or a relation of something peculiar to him (as some antipaedobaptists will needs understand that circumcision was a seal of the righteousness of the faith, Rom 4:11, only to Abraham himself, and no other); no, the scripture did not intend hereby to describe some singular way of justification that belonged to Abraham as his prerogative. The accounts we have of the Old Testament saints were not intended for histories only, barely to inform and divert us, but for precedents to direct us, for ensamples (1Co 10:11) for our learning, Rom 15:4. And this particularly concerning Abraham was written for us also, to assure us what that righteousness is which God requireth and accepteth to our salvation, – for us also, that are man and vile, that come so far short of Abraham in privileges and performances, us Gentiles as well as the Jews, for the blessing of Abraham comes upon the Gentiles through Christ, – for us on whom the ends of the world are come, as well as for the patriarchs; for the grace of God is the same yesterday, today, and for ever. His application of it is but short. Only we may observe,

I. Our common privilege; it shall be imputed to us, that is, righteousness shall. The gospel way of justification is by an imputed righteousness, mellei logizesthaiit shall be imputed; he uses a future verb, to signify the continuation of this mercy in the church, that as it is the same now so it will be while God has a church in the world, and there are any of the children of men to be justified; for there is a fountain opened that is inexhaustible.

II. Our common duty, the condition of this privilege, and that is believing. The proper object of this believing is a divine revelation. The revelation to Abraham was concerning a Christ to come; the revelation to us is concerning a Christ already come, which difference in the revelation does not alter the case. Abraham believed the power of God in raising up an Isaac from the dead womb of Sarah; we are to believe the same power exerted in a higher instance, the resurrection of Christ from the dead. The resurrection of Isaac was in a figure (Heb 11:19); the resurrection of Christ was real. Now we are to believe on him that raised up Christ; not only believe his power, that he could do it, but depend upon his grace in raising up Christ as our surety; so he explains it, Rom 4:25, where we have a brief account of the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection, which are the two main hinges on which the door of salvation turns. 1. He was delivered for our offences. God the Father delivered him, he delivered up himself as a sacrifice for sin. He died indeed as a malefactor, because he died for sin; but it was not his own sin, but the sins of the people. He died to make atonement for our sins, to expiate our guilt, to satisfy divine justice. 2. He was raised again for our justification, for the perfecting and completing of our justification. By the merit of his death he paid our debt, in his resurrection he took out our acquittance. When he was buried he lay a prisoner in execution for our debt, which as a surety he had undertaken to pay; on the third day an angel was sent to roll away the stone, and so to discharge the prisoner, which was the greatest assurance possible that divine justice was satisfied, the debt paid, or else he would never have released the prisoner: and therefore the apostle puts a special emphasis on Christ’s resurrection; it is Christ that died, yea, rather that has risen again, Rom 8:34. So that upon the whole matter it is very evident that we are not justified by the merit of our own works, but by a fiducial obediential dependence upon Jesus Christ and his righteousness, as the condition on our part of our right to impunity and salvation, which was the truth that Paul in this and the foregoing chapter had been fixing as the great spring and foundation of all our comfort.

Romans 5:1-5

The precious benefits and privileges which flow from justification are such as should quicken us all to give diligence to make it sure to ourselves that we are justified, and then to take the comfort it renders to us, and to do the duty it calls for from us. The fruits of this tree of life are exceedingly precious.

I. We have peace with God, Rom 5:1. It is sin that breeds the quarrel between us and God, creates not only a strangeness, but an enmity; the holy righteous God cannot in honour be at peace with a sinner while he continues under the guilt of sin. Justification takes away the guilt, and so makes way for peace. And such are the benignity and good-will of God to man that, immediately upon the removing of that obstacle, the peace is made. By faith we lay hold of God’s arm and of his strength, and so are at peace, Isa 27:4, Isa 27:5. There is more in this peace than barely a cessation of enmity, there is friendship and loving-kindness, for God is either the worst enemy or the best friend. Abraham, being justified by faith, was called the friend of God (Jam 2:23), which was his honour, but not his peculiar honour: Christ has called his disciples friends, Joh 15:13-15. And surely a man needs no more to make him happy than to have God his friend! But this is through our Lord Jesus Christ – through him as the great peace-maker, the Mediator between God and man, that blessed Day’s-man that has laid his hand upon us both. Adam, in innocency, had peace with God immediately; there needed no such mediator. But to guilty sinful man it is a very dreadful thing to think of God out of Christ; for he is our peace, Eph 2:14, not only the maker, but the matter and maintainer, of our peace, Col 1:20.

II. We have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, Rom 5:2. This is a further privilege, not only peace, but grace, that is, this favour. Observe, 1. The saints’ happy state. It is a state of grace, God’s loving-kindness to us and our conformity to God; he that hath God’s love and God’s likeness is in a state of grace. Now into this grace we have access prosagōgēnan introduction, which implies that we were not born in this state; we are by nature children of wrath, and the carnal mind is enmity against God; but we are brought into it. We could not have got into it of ourselves, nor have conquered the difficulties in the way, but we have a manuduction, a leading by the hand, – are led into it as blind, or lame, or weak people are led, – are introduced as pardoned offenders, – are introduced by some favourite at court to kiss the king’s hand, as strangers, that are to have audience, are conducted. Prosagōgēn eschēkamenWe have had access. He speaks of those that have been already brought out of a state of nature into a state of grace. Paul, in his conversion, had this access; then he was made nigh. Barnabas introduced him to the apostles (Act 9:27), and there were others that led him by the hand to Damascus (Rom 5:8), but it was Christ that introduced and led him by the hand into this grace. By whom we have access by faith. By Christ as the author and principal agent, by faith as the means of this access. Not by Christ in consideration of any merit or desert of ours, but in consideration of our believing dependence upon him and resignation of ourselves to him. 2. Their happy standing in this state: wherein we stand. Not only wherein we are, but wherein we stand, a posture that denotes our discharge from guilt; we stand in the judgment (Psa 1:5), not cast, as convicted criminals, but our dignity and honour secured, not thrown to the ground, as abjects. The phrase denotes also our progress; while we stand, we are going. We must not lie down, as if we had already attained, but stand as those that are pressing forward, stand as servants attending on Christ our master. The phrase denotes, further, our perseverance: we stand firmly and safely, upheld by the power of God; stand as soldiers stand, that keep their ground, not borne down by the power of the enemy. It denotes not only our admission to, but our confirmation in, the favour of God. It is not in the court of heaven as in earthly courts, where high places are slippery places: but we stand in a humble confidence of this very thing that he who has begun the good work will perform it, Phi 1:6.

III. We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Besides the happiness in hand, there is a happiness in hope, the glory of God, the glory which God will put upon the saints in heaven, glory which will consist in the vision and fruition of God. 1. Those, and those only, that have access by faith into the grace of God now may hope for the glory of God hereafter. There is no good hope of glory but what is founded in grace; grace is glory begun, the earnest and assurance of glory. He will give grace and glory, Psa 84:11. 2. Those who hope for the glory of God hereafter have enough to rejoice in now. It is the duty of those that hope for heaven to rejoice in that hope.

IV. We glory in tribulations also; not only notwithstanding our tribulations (these do not hinder our rejoicing in hope of the glory of God), but even in our tribulations, as they are working for us the weight of glory, 2Co 4:17. Observe, What a growing increasing happiness the happiness of the saints is: Not only so. One would think such peace, such grace, such glory, and such a joy in hope of it, were more than such poor undeserving creatures as we are could pretend to; and yet it is not only so: there are more instances of our happiness – we glory in tribulations also, especially tribulations for righteousness’ sake, which seemed the greatest objection against the saints’ happiness, whereas really their happiness did not only consist with, but take rise fRom. those tribulations. They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer, Act 5:41. This being the hardest point, he sets himself to show the grounds and reasons of it. How come we to glory in tribulations? Why, because tribulations, by a chain of causes, greatly befriend hope, which he shows in the method of its influence. 1. Tribulation worketh patience, not in and of itself, but the powerful grace of God working in and with the tribulation. It proves, and by proving improves, patience, as parts and gifts increase by exercise. It is not the efficient cause, but yields the occasion, as steel is hardened by the fire. See how God brings meat out of the eater, and sweetness out of the strong. That which worketh patience is matter of joy; for patience does us more good than tribulations can do us hurt. Tribulation in itself worketh impatience; but, as it is sanctified to the saints, it worketh patience. 2. Patience experience, Rom 5:4. It works an experience of God, and the songs he gives in the night; the patient sufferers have the greatest experience of the divine consolations, which abound as afflictions abound. It works an experience of ourselves. It is by tribulation that we make an experiment of our own sincerity, and therefore such tribulations are called trials. It works, dokimēnan approbation, as he is approved that has passed the test. Thus Job’s tribulation wrought patience, and that patience produced an approbation, that still he holds fast his integrity, Job 2:3. 3. Experience hope. He who, being thus tried, comes forth as gold, will thereby be encouraged to hope. This experiment, or approbation, is not so much the ground, as the evidence, of our hope, and a special friend to it. Experience of God is a prop to our hope; he that hath delivered doth and will. Experience of ourselves helps to evidence our sincerity. 4. This hope maketh not ashamed; that is, it is a hope that will not deceive us. Nothing confounds more than disappointment. Everlasting shame and confusion will be caused by the perishing of the expectation of the wicked, but the hope of the righteous shall be gladness, Pro 10:28. See Psa 22:5; Psa 71:1. Or, It maketh not ashamed of our sufferings. Though we are counted as the offscouring of all things, and trodden under foot as the mire in the streets, yet, having hopes of glory, we are not ashamed of these sufferings. It is in a good cause, for a good Master, and in good hope; and therefore we are not ashamed. We will never think ourselves disparaged by sufferings that are likely to end so well. Because the love of God is shed abroad. This hope will not disappoint us, because it is sealed with the Holy Spirit as a Spirit of love. It is the gracious work of the blessed Spirit to shed abroad the love of God in the hearts of all the saints. The love of God, that is, the sense of God’s love to us, drawing out love in us to him again. Or, The great effects of his love: (1.) Special grace; and, (2.) The pleasant gust or sense of it. It is shed abroad, as sweet ointment, perfuming the soul, as rain watering it and making it fruitful. The ground of all our comfort and holiness, and perseverance in both, is laid in the shedding abroad of the love of God in our hearts; it is this which constrains us, 2Co 5:14. Thus are we drawn and held by the bonds of love. Sense of God’s love to us will make us not ashamed, either of our hope in him or our sufferings for him.

Romans 5:6-21

The apostle here describes the fountain and foundation of justification, laid in the death of the Lord Jesus. The streams are very sweet, but, if you run them up to the spring-head, you will find it to be Christ’s dying for us; it is in the precious stream of Christ’s blood that all these privileges come flowing to us: and therefore he enlarges upon this instance of the love of God which is shed abroad. Three things he takes notice of for the explication and illustration of this doctrine: – 1. The persons he died for, Rom 5:6-8. 2. The precious fruits of his death, Rom 5:9-11. 3. The parallel he runs between the communication of sin and death by the first Adam and of righteousness and life by the second Adam, Rom 5:12, to the end.

I. The character we were under when Christ died for us.

1. We were without strength (Rom 5:6), in a sad condition; and, which is worse, altogether unable to help ourselves out of that condition – lost, and no visible way open for our recovery – our condition deplorable, and in a manner desperate; and, therefore our salvation is here said to come in due time. God’s time to help and save is when those that are to be saved are without strength, that his own power and grace may be the more magnified, Deu 32:36. It is the manner of God to help at a dead lift,

2. He died for the ungodly; not only helpless creatures, and therefore likely to perish, but guilty sinful creatures, and therefore deserving to perish; not only mean and worthless, but vile and obnoxious, unworthy of such favour with the holy God. Being ungodly, they had need of one to die for them, to satisfy for guilt, and to bring in a righteousness. This he illustrates (Rom 5:7, Rom 5:8) as an unparalleled instance of love; herein God’s thoughts and ways were above ours. Compare Joh 15:13, Joh 15:14, Greater love has no man. (1.) One would hardly die for a righteous man, that is, an innocent man, one that is unjustly condemned; every body will pity such a one, but few will put such a value upon his life as either to hazard, or much less to deposit, their own in his stead. (2.) It may be, one might perhaps be persuaded to die for a good man, that is, a useful man, who is more than barely a righteous man. Many that are good themselves yet do but little good to others; but those that are useful commonly get themselves well beloved, and meet with some that in a case of necessity would venture to be their antipsuchoiwould engage life for life, would be their bail, body for body. Paul was, in this sense, a very good man, one that was very useful, and he met with some that for his life laid down their own necks, Rom 16:4. And yet observe how he qualifies this: it is but some that would do so, and it is a daring act if they do it, it must be some bold venturing soul; and, after all, it is but a peradventure. (3.) But Christ died for sinners (Rom 5:8), neither righteous nor good; not only such as were useless, but such as were guilty and obnoxious; not only such as there would be no loss of should they perish, but such whose destruction would greatly redound to the glory of God’s justice, being malefactors and criminals that ought to die. Some think he alludes to a common distinction the Jews had of their people into tsaddimrighteous, chesedimmerciful (compare Isa 57:1), and rashimwicked. Now herein God commended his love, not only proved or evidenced his love (he might have done that at a cheaper rate), but magnified it and made it illustrious. This circumstance did greatly magnify and advance his love, not only put it past dispute, but rendered it the object of the greatest wonder and admiration: “Now my creatures shall see that I love them, I will give them such an instance of it as shall be without parallel.” Commendeth his love, as merchants commend their goods when they would put them off. This commending of his love was in order to the shedding abroad of his love in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. He evinces his love in the most winning, affecting, endearing way imaginable. While we were yet sinners, implying that we were not to be always sinners, there should be a change wrought; for he died to save us, not in our sins, but from our sins; but we were yet sinners when he died for us. (4.) Nay, which is more, we were enemies (Rom 5:10), not only malefactors, but traitors and rebels, in arms against the government; the worst kind of malefactors and of all malefactors the most obnoxious. The carnal mind is not only an enemy to God, but enmity itself, Rom 8:7; Col 1:21. This enmity is a mutual enmity, God loathing the sinner, and the sinner loathing God, Zec 11:8. And that for such as these Christ should die is such a mystery, such a paradox, such an unprecedented instance of love, that it may well be our business to eternity to adore and wonder at it. This is a commendation of love indeed. Justly might he who had thus loved us make it one of the laws of his kingdom that we should love our enemies.

II. The precious fruits of his death.

1. Justification and reconciliation are the first and primary fruit of the death of Christ: We are justified by his blood (Rom 5:9), reconciled by his death, Rom 5:10. Sin is pardoned, the sinner accepted as righteous, the quarrel taken up, the enmity slain, an end made of iniquity, and an everlasting righteousness brought in. This is done, that is, Christ has done all that was requisite on his part to be done in order hereunto, and, immediately upon our believing, we are actually put into a state of justification and reconciliation. Justified by his blood. Our justification is ascribed to the blood of Christ because without blood there is no remission Heb 9:22. The blood is the life, and that must go to make atonement. In all the propitiatory sacrifices, the sprinkling of the blood was of the essence of the sacrifice. It was the blood that made an atonement for the soul, Lev 17:11.

2. Hence results salvation from wrath: Saved from wrath (Rom 5:9), saved by his life, Rom 5:10 When that which hinders our salvation is taken away, the salvation must needs follow. Nay, the argument holds very strongly; if God justified and reconciled us when we were enemies, and put himself to so much charge to do it, much more will he save us when we are justified and reconciled. He that has done the greater, which is of enemies to make us friends, will certainly the less, which is when we are friends to use us friendly and to be kind to us. And therefore the apostle, once and again, speaks of it with a much more. He that hath digged so deep to lay the foundation will no doubt build upon that foundation. – We shall be saved from wrath, from hell and damnation. It is the wrath of God that is the fire of hell; the wrath to come, so it is called, 1Th 1:10. The final justification and absolution of believers at the great day, together with the fitting and preparing of them for it, are the salvation from wrath here spoken of; it is the perfecting of the work of grace. – Reconciled by his death, saved by his life. His life here spoken of is not to be understood of his life in the flesh, but his life in heaven, that life which ensued after his death. Compare Rom 14:9. He was dead, and is alive, Rev 1:18. We are reconciled by Christ humbled, we are saved by Christ exalted. The dying Jesus laid the foundation, in satisfying for sin, and slaying the enmity, and so making us salvable; thus is the partition-wall broken down, atonement made, and the attainder reversed; but it is the living Jesus that perfects the work: he lives to make intercession, Heb 7:25. It is Christ, in his exaltation, that by his word and Spirit effectually calls, and changes, and reconciles us to God, is our Advocate with the Father, and so completes and consummates our salvation. Compare Rom 4:25 and Rom 8:34. Christ dying was the testator, who bequeathed us the legacy; but Christ living is the executor, who pays it. Now the arguing is very strong. He that puts himself to the charge of purchasing our salvation will not decline the trouble of applying it.

3. All this produces, as a further privilege, our joy in God, Rom 5:11. God is now so far from being a terror to us that he is our joy, and our hope in the day of evil, Jer 17:17. We are reconciled and saved from wrath. Iniquity, blessed be God, shall not be our ruin. And not only so, there is more in it yet, a constant stream of favours; we not only go to heaven, but go to heaven triumphantly; not only get into the harbour, but come in with full sail: We joy in God, not only saved from his wrath, but solacing ourselves in his love, and this through Jesus Christ, who is the Alpha and the Omega, the foundation-stone and the top-stone of all our comforts and hopes – not only our salvation, but our strength and our song; and all this (which he repeats as a string he loved to be harping upon) by virtue of the atonement, for by him we Christians, we believers, have now, now in gospel times, or now in this life, received the atonement, which was typified by the sacrifices under thee law, and is an earnest of our happiness in heaven. True believers do by Jesus Christ receive the atonement. Receiving the atonement is our actual reconciliation to God in justification, grounded upon Christ’s satisfaction. To receive the atonement is, (1.) To give our consent to the atonement, approving of, and agreeing to, those methods which Infinite Wisdom has taken of saving a guilty world by the blood of a crucified Jesus, being willing and glad to be saved in a gospel way and upon gospel terms. (2.) To take the comfort of the atonement, which is the fountain and the foundation of our joy in God. Now we joy in God, now we do indeed receive the atonement, Kauchōmenoiglorying in it. God hath received the atonement (Mat 3:17; Mat 17:5; Mat 28:2): if we but receive it, the work is done.

III. The parallel that the apostle runs between the communication of sin and death by the first Adam and of righteousness and life by the second Adam (Rom 5:12, to the end), which not only illustrates the truth he is discoursing of, but tends very much to the commending of the love of God and the comforting of the hearts of true believers, in showing a correspondence between our fall and our recovery, and not only a like, but a much greater power in the second Adam to make us happy, than there was in the first to make us miserable. Now, for the opening of this, observe,

1. A general truth laid down as the foundation of his discourse – that Adam was a type of Christ (Rom 5:14): Who is the figure of him that was to come. Christ is therefore called the last Adam, 1Co 15:45. Compare 1Co 15:22. In this Adam was a type of Christ, that in the covenant-transactions that were between God and him, and in the consequent events of those transactions, Adam was a public person. God dealt with Adam and Adam acted as such a one, as a common father and factor, root and representative, of and for all his posterity; so that what he did in that station, as agent for us, we may be said to have done in him, and what was done to him may be said to have been done to us in him. Thus Jesus Christ, the Mediator, acted as a public person, the head of all the elect, dealt with God for them, as their father, factor, root, and representative – died for them, rose for them, entered within the veil for them, did all for them. When Adam failed, we failed with him; when Christ performed, he performed for us. Thus was Adam tupos tou mellontosthe figure of him that was to come, to come to repair that breach which Adam had made.

2. A more particular explication of the parallel, in which observe,

(1.) How Adam, as a public person, communicated sin and death to all his posterity (Rom 5:12): By one man sin entered. We see the world under a deluge of sin and death, full of iniquities and full of calamities. Now, it is worth while to enquire what is the spring that feeds it, and you will find it to be the general corruption of nature; and at what gap it entered, and you will find it to have been Adam’s first sin. It was by one man, and he the first man (for if any had been before him they would have been free), that one man from whom, as from the root, we all spring. [1.] By him sin entered. When God pronounced all very good (Gen 1:31) there was no sin in the world; it was when Adam ate forbidden fruit that sin made its entry. Sin had before entered into the world of angels, when many of them revolted from their allegiance and left their first estate; but it never entered into the world of mankind till Adam sinned. Then it entered as an enemy, to kill and destroy, as a thief, to rob and despoil; and a dismal entry it was. Then entered the guilt of Adam’s sin imputed to posterity, and a general corruption and depravedness of nature. Eph’ hōfor that (so we read it), rather in whom, all have sinned. Sin entered into the world by Adam, for in him we all sinned. As, 1Co 15:22, in Adam all die; so here, in him all have sinned; for it is agreeable to the law of all nations that the acts of a public person be accounted theirs whom they represent; and what a whole body does every member of the same body may be said to do. Now Adam acted thus as a public person, by the sovereign ordination and appointment of God, and yet that founded upon a natural necessity; for God, as the author of nature, had made this the law of nature, that man should beget in his own likeness, and so the other creatures. In Adam therefore, as in a common receptacle, the whole nature of man was reposited, from him to flow down in a channel to his posterity; for all mankind are made of one blood (Act 17:26), so that according as this nature proves through his standing or falling, before he puts it out of his hands, accordingly it is propagated from him. Adam therefore sinning and falling, the nature became guilty and corrupt, and is so derived. Thus in him all have sinned. [2.] Death by sin, for death is the wages of sin. Sin, when it is finished, brings forth death. When sin came, of course death came with it. Death is here put for all that misery which is the due desert of sin, temporal, spiritual, eternal death. If Adam had not sinned, he had not died; the threatening was, In the day thou eatest thou shall surely die, Gen 2:17. [3.] So death passed, that is, a sentence of death was passed, as upon a criminal, diēlthenpassed through all men, as an infectious disease passes through a town, so that none escape it. It is the universal fate, without exception: death passes upon all. There are common calamities incident to human life which do abundantly prove this. Death reigned, Rom 5:14. He speaks of death as a mighty prince, and his monarchy the most absolute, universal, and lasting monarchy. None are exempted from its sceptre; it is a monarchy that will survive all other earthly rule, authority, and power, for it is the last enemy, 1Co 15:26. Those sons of Belial that will be subject to no other rule cannot avoid being subject to this. Now all this we may thank Adam for; from him sin and death descend. Well may we say, as that good man, observing the change that a fit of sickness had made in his countenance, O Adam! what hast thou done?

Further, to clear this, he shows that sin did not commence with the law of Moses, but was in the world until, or before, that law; therefore that law of Moses is not the only rule of life, for there was a rule, and that rule was transgressed, before the law was given. It likewise intimates that we cannot be justified by our obedience to the law of Moses, any more than we were condemned by and for our disobedience to it. Sin was in the world before the law; witness Cain’s murder, the apostasy of the old world, the wickedness of Sodom. His inference hence is, Therefore there was a law; for sin is not imputed where there is no law. Original sin is a want of conformity to, and actual sin is a transgression of, the law of God: therefore all were under some law. His proof of it is, Death reigned from Adam to Moses, Rom 5:14. It is certain that death could not have reigned if sin had not set up the throne for him. This proves that sin was in the world before the law, and original sin, for death reigned over those that had not sinned any actual sin, that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, never sinned in their own persons as Adam did – which is to be understood of infants, that were never guilty of actual sin, and yet died, because Adam’s sin was imputed to them. This reign of death seems especially to refer to those violent and extraordinary judgments which were long before Moses, as the deluge and the destruction of Sodom, which involved infants. It is a great proof of original sin that little children, who were never guilty of any actual transgression, are yet liable to very terrible diseases, casualties, and deaths, which could by no means be reconciled with the justice and righteousness of God if they were not chargeable with guilt.

(2.) How, in correspondence to this, Christ, as a public person, communicates righteousness and life to all true believers, who are his spiritual seed. And in this he shows not only wherein the resemblance holds, but, ex abundanti, wherein the communication of grace and love by Christ goes beyond the communication of guilt and wrath by Adam. Observe,

[1.] Wherein the resemblance holds. This is laid down most fully, Rom 5:18, Rom 5:19.

First, By the offence and disobedience of one many were made sinners, and judgment came upon all men to condemnation.

Here observe, 1. That Adam’s sin was disobedience, disobedience to a plain and express command: and it was a command of trial. The thing he did was therefore evil because it was forbidden, and not otherwise; but this opened the door to other sins, though itself seemingly small. 2. That the malignity and poison of sin are very strong and spreading, else the guilt of Adam’s sin would not have reached so far, nor have been so deep and long a stream. Who would think there should be so much evil in sin? 3. That by Adam’s sin many are made sinners: many, that is, all his posterity; said to be many, in opposition to the one that offended, Made sinners, katestathēsan. It denotes the making of us such by a judicial act: we were cast as sinners by due course of law. 4. That judgment is come to condemnation upon all those that by Adam’s disobedience were made sinners. Being convicted, we are condemned. All the race of mankind lie under a sentence, like an attainder upon a family. There is judgment given and recorded against us in the court of heaven; and, if the judgment be not reversed, we are likely to sink under it to eternity.

Secondly,

In like manner, by the righteousness and obedience of one (and that one is Jesus Christ, the second Adam), are many made righteous, and so the free gift comes upon all. It is observable how the apostle inculcates this truth, and repeats it again and again, as a truth of very great consequence. Here observe, 1. The nature of Christ’s righteousness, how it is brought in; it is by his obedience. The disobedience of the first Adam ruined us, the obedience of the second Adam saves us, – his obedience to the law of mediation, which was that he should fulfil all righteousness, and then make his soul an offering for sin. By his obedience to this law he wrought out a righteousness for us, satisfied God’s justice, and so made way for us into his favour. 2. The fruit of it. (1.) There is a free gift come upon all men, that is, it is made and offered promiscuously to all. The salvation wrought is a common salvation; the proposals are general, the tender free; whoever will may come, and take of these waters of life. This free gift is to all believers, upon their believing, unto justification of life. It is not only a justification that frees from death, but that entitles to life. (2.) Many shall be made righteous – many compared with one, or as many as belong to the election of grace, which, though but a few as they are scattered up and down in the world, yet will be a great many when they come all together. Katastathēsontaithey shall be constituted righteous, as by letters patent. Now the antithesis between these two, our ruin by Adam and our recovery by Christ, is obvious enough.

[2.] Wherein the communication of grace and love by Christ goes beyond the communication of guilt and wrath by Adam; and this he shows, Rom 5:15-17. It is designed for the magnifying of the riches of Christ’s love, and for the comfort and encouragement of believers, who, considering what a wound Adam’s sin has made, might begin to despair of a proportionable remedy. His expressions are a little intricate, but this he seems to intend: – First, If guilt and wrath be communicated, much more shall grace and love; for it is agreeable to the idea we have of the divine goodness to suppose that he should be more ready to save upon an imputed righteousness than to condemn upon an imputed guilt: Much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace. God’s goodness is, of all his attributes, in a special manner his glory, and it is that grace that is the root (his favour to us in Christ), and the gift is by grace. We know that God is rather inclined to show mercy; punishing is his strange work. Secondly, If there was so much power and efficacy, as it seems there was, in the sin of a man, who was of the earth, earthy, to condemn us, much more are there power and efficacy in the righteousness and grace of Christ, who is the Lord from heaven, to justify and save us. The one man that saves us is Jesus Christ. Surely Adam could not propagate so strong a poison but Jesus Christ could propagate as strong an antidote, and much stronger. 3. It is but the guilt of one single offence of Adam’s that is laid to our charge: The judgment was ex henos eis katakrima, by one, that is, by one offence, Rom 5:16, Rom 5:17. Margin. But from Jesus Christ we receive and derive an abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness. The stream of grace and righteousness is deeper and broader than the stream of guilt; for this righteousness does not only take away the guilt of that one offence, but of many other offences, even of all. God in Christ forgives all trespasses, Col 2:13. 4. By Adam’s sin death reigned; but by Christ’s righteousness there is not only a period put to the reign of death, but believers are preferred to reign of life, Rom 5:17. In and by the righteousness of Christ we have not only a charter of pardon, but a patent of honour, are not only freed from our chains, but, like Joseph, advanced to the second chariot, and made unto our God kings and priests – not only pardoned, but preferred. See this observed, Rev 1:5, Rev 1:6; Rev 5:9, Rev 5:10. We are by Christ and his righteousness entitled to, and instated in, more and greater privileges than we lost by the offence of Adam. The plaster is wider than the wound, and more healing than the wound is killing.

IV. In the last two verses the apostle seems to anticipate an objection which is expressed, Gal 3:19, Wherefore then serveth the law? Answer, 1. The law entered that the offence might abound. Not to make sin to abound the more in itself, otherwise than as sin takes occasion by the commandment, but to discover the abounding sinfulness of it. The glass discovers the spots, but does not cause them. When the commandment came into the world sin revived, as the letting of a clearer light into a room discovers the dust and filth which were there before, but were not seen. It was like the searching of a wound, which is necessary to to the cure. The offence, paraptōmathat offence, the sin of Adam, the extending of the guilt of it to us, and the effect of the corruption in us, are the abounding of that offence which appeared upon the entry of the law. 2. That grace might much more abound – that the terrors of the law might make gospel-comforts so much the sweeter. Sin abounded among the Jews; and, to those of them that were converted to the faith of Christ, did not grace much more abound in the remitting of so much guilt and the subduing of so much corruption? The greater the strength of the enemy, the greater the honour of the conqueror. This abounding of grace he illustrates, Rom 5:21. As the reign of a tyrant and oppressor is a foil to set off the succeeding reign of a just and gentle prince and to make it the more illustrious, so doth the reign of sin set off the reign of grace. Sin reigned unto death; it was a cruel bloody reign. But grace reigns to life, eternal life, and this through righteousness, righteousness imputed to us for justification, implanted in us for sanctification; and both by Jesus Christ our Lord, through the power and efficacy of Christ, the great prophet, priest, and king, of his church.

 

Romans 6:1-23

 

The apostle’s transition, which joins this discourse with the former, is observable: “What shall we say then? Rom 6:1. What use shall we make of this sweet and comfortable doctrine? Shall we do evil that good may come, as some say we do? Rom 3:8. Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Shall we hence take encouragement to sin with so much the more boldness, because the more sin we commit the more will the grace of God be magnified in our pardon? Is this a use to be made of it?” No, it is an abuse, and the apostle startles at the thought of it (Rom 6:2): “God forbid; far be it from us to think such a thought.” He entertains the objection as Christ did the devil’s blackest temptation (Mat 4:10): Get thee hence, Satan. Those opinions that give any countenance to sin, or open a door to practical immoralities, how specious and plausible soever they be rendered, by the pretension of advancing free grace, are to be rejected with the greatest abhorrence; for the truth as it is in Jesus is a truth according to godliness, Tit 1:1. The apostle is very full in pressing the necessity of holiness in this chapter, which may be reduced to two heads: – His exhortations to holiness, which show the nature of it; and his motives or arguments to enforce those exhortations, which show the necessity of it.

I. For the first, we may hence observe the nature of sanctification, what it is, and wherein it consists. In general it has two things in it, mortification and vivification – dying to sin and living to righteousness, elsewhere expressed by putting off the old man and putting on the new, ceasing to do evil and learning to do well.

1. Mortification, putting off the old man; several ways this is expressed. (1.) We must live no longer in sin (Rom 6:2), we must not be as we have been nor do as we have done. The time past of our life must suffice, 1Pe 4:3. Though there are none that live without sin, yet, blessed be God, there are those that do not live in sin, do not live in it as their element, do not make a trade of it: this is to be sanctified. (2.) The body of sin must be destroyed, Rom 6:6. The corruption that dwelleth in us is the body of sin, consisting of many parts and members, as a body. This is the root to which the axe must be laid. We must not only cease from the acts of sin (this may be done through the influence of outward restraints, or other inducements), but we must get the vicious habits and inclinations weakened and destroyed; not only cast away the idols of iniquity out of the heart. – That henceforth we should not serve sin. The actual transgression is certainly in a great measure prevented by the crucifying and killing of the original corruption. Destroy the body of sin, and then, though there should be Canaanites remaining in the land, yet the Israelites will not be slaves to them. It is the body of sin that sways the sceptre, wields the iron rod; destroy this, and the yoke is broken. The destruction of Eglon the tyrant is the deliverance of oppressed Israel from the Moabites. (3.) We must be dead indeed unto sin, Rom 6:11. As the death of the oppressor is a release, so much more is the death of the oppressed, Job 3:17, Job 3:18. Death brings a writ of ease to the weary. Thus must we be dead to sin, obey it, observe it, regard it, fulfil its will no more than he that is dead doth his quandam task-masters – be as indifference to the pleasures and delights of sin as a man that is dying is to his former diversions. He that is dead is separated from his former company, converse, business, enjoyments, employments, is not what he was, does not what he did, has not what he had. Death makes a mighty change; such a change doth sanctification make in the soul, it cuts off all correspondence with sin. (4.) Sin must not reign in our mortal bodies that we should obey it, Rom 6:12. Though sin may remain as an outlaw, though it may oppress as a tyrant, yet let it not reign as a king. Let it not make laws, nor preside in councils, nor command the militia; let it not be uppermost in the soul, so that we should obey it. Though we may be sometimes overtaken and overcome by it, yet let us never be obedient to it in the lusts thereof; let not sinful lusts be a law to you, to which you would yield a consenting obedience. In the lusts thereofen tais epithumiais autou. It refers to the body, not to sin. Sin lies very much in the gratifying of the body, and humouring that. And there is a reason implied in the phrase your mortal body; because it is a mortal body, and hastening apace to the dust, therefore let not sin reign in it. It was sin that made our bodies mortal, and therefore do not yield obedience to such an enemy. (5.) We must not yield our members as instruments of unrighteousness, Rom 6:13. The members of the body are made use of by the corrupt nature as tools, by which the wills of the flesh are fulfilled; but we must not consent to that abuse. The members of the body are fearfully and wonderfully made; it is a pity they should be the devil’s tools of unrighteousness unto sin, instruments of the sinful actions, according to the sinful dispositions. Unrighteousness is unto sin; the sinful acts confirm and strengthen the sinful habits; one sin begets another; it is like the letting forth of water, therefore leave it before it be meddled with. The members of the body may perhaps, through the prevalency of temptation, be forced to be instruments of sin; but do not yield them to be so, do not consent to it. This is one branch of sanctification, the mortification of sin.

2. Vivification, or living to righteousness; and what is that? (1.) It is to walk in newness of life, Rom 6:4. Newness of life supposes newness of heart, for out of the heart are the issues of life, and there is not way to make the stream sweet but by making the spring so. Walking, in scripture, is put for the course and tenour of the conversation, which must be new. Walk by new rules, towards new ends, from new principles. Make a new choice of the way. Choose new paths to walk in, new leaders to walk after, new companions to walk with. Old things should pass away, and all things become new. The man is what he was not, does what he did not. (2.) It is to be alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord, Rom 6:11. To converse with God, to have a regard to him, a delight in him, a concern for him, the soul upon all occasions carried out towards him as towards an agreeable object, in which it takes a complacency: this is to be alive to God. The love of God reigning in the heart is the life of the soul towards God. Anima est ubi amat, non ubi animat – The soul is where it loves, rather than where it lives. It is to have the affections and desires alive towards God. Or, living (our live in the flesh) unto God, to his honour and glory as our end, by his word and will as our rule – in all our ways to acknowledge him, and to have our eyes ever towards him; this is to live unto God. – Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Christ is our spiritual life; there is no living to God but through him. He is the Mediator; there can be no comfortable receivings from God, nor acceptable regards to God, but in and through Jesus Christ; no intercourse between sinful souls and a holy God, but by the mediation of the Lord Jesus. Through Christ as the author and maintainer of this life; through Christ as the head from whom we receive vital influence; through Christ as the root by which we derive sap and nourishment, and so live. In living to God, Christ is all in all. (3.) It is to yield ourselves to God, as those that are alive from the dead, Rom 6:13. The very life and being of holiness lie in the dedication of ourselves to the Lord, giving our own selves to the Lord, 2Co 8:5. “Yield yourselves to him, not only as the conquered yields to the conqueror, because he can stand it out no longer; but as the wife yields herself to her husband, to whom her desire is, as the scholar yields himself to the teacher, the apprentice to his master, to be taught and ruled by him. Not yield your estates to him, but yield yourselves; nothing less than your whole selves;” parastēsate eautousaccommodate vos ipsos Deoaccommodate yourselves to God; so Tremellius, from the Syriac. “Not only submit to him, but comply with him; not only present yourselves to him once for all, but be always ready to serve him. Yield yourselves to him as wax to the seal, to take any impression, to be, and have, and do, what he pleases.” When Paul said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? (Act 9:6) he was then yielded to God. As those that are alive from the dead. To yield a dead carcase to a living God is not to please him, but to mock him: “Yield yourselves as those that are alive and good for something, a living sacrifice,Rom 12:1. The surest evidence of our spiritual life is the dedication of ourselves to God. It becomes those that are alive from the dead (it may be understood of a death in law), that are justified and delivered from death, to give themselves to him that hath so redeemed them. (4.) It is to yield our members as instruments of righteousness to God. The members of our bodies, when withdrawn from the service of sin, are not to lie idle, but to be made use of in the service of God. When the strong man armed is dispossessed, let him whose right it is divide the spoils. Though the powers and faculties of the soul be the immediate subjects of holiness and righteousness, yet the members of the body are to be instruments; the body must be always ready to serve the soul in the service of God. Thus (Rom 6:19), “Yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. Let them be under the conduct and at the command of the righteous law of God, and that principle of inherent righteousness which the Spirit, as sanctifier, plants in the soul.” Righteousness unto holiness, which intimates growth, and progress, and ground obtained. As every sinful act confirms the sinful habit, and makes the nature more and more prone to sin (hence the members of a natural man are here said to be servants to iniquity unto iniquity – one sin makes the heart more disposed for another), so every gracious act confirms the gracious habit: serving righteousness is unto holiness; one duty fits us for another; and the more we do the more we may do for God. Or serving righteousness, eis hagiasmonas an evidence of sanctification.

II. The motives or arguments here used to show the necessity of sanctification. There is such an antipathy in our hearts by nature to holiness that it is no easy matter to bring them to submit to it: it is the Spirit’s work, who persuades by such inducements as these set home upon the soul.

1. He argues from our sacramental conformity to Jesus Christ. Our baptism, with the design and intention of it, carried in it a great reason why we should die to sin, and live to righteousness. Thus we must improve our baptism as a bridle of restraint to keep us in from sin, as a spur of constraint to quicken us to duty. Observe this reasoning.

(1.) In general, we are dead to sin, that is, in profession and in obligation. Our baptism signifies our cutting off from the kingdom of sin. We profess to have no more to do with sin. We are dead to sin by a participation of virtue and power for the killing of it, and by our union with Christ and interest in him, in and by whom it is killed. All this is in vain if we persist in sin; we contradict a profession, violate an obligation, return to that to which we were dead, like walking ghosts, than which nothing is more unbecoming and absurd. For (Rom 6:7) he that is dead is freed from sin; that is, he that is dead to it is freed from the rule and dominion of it, as the servant that is dead is freed from his master, Job 3:19. Now shall we be such fools as to return to that slavery from which we are discharged? When we are delivered out of Egypt, shall we talk of going back to it again?

(2.) In particular, being baptized into Jesus Christ, we were baptized into his death, Rom 6:3. We were baptized eis Christonunto Christ, as 1Co 10:2, eis Mōsēnunto Moses. Baptism binds us to Christ, it binds us apprentice to Christ as our teacher, it is our allegiance to Christ as our sovereign. Baptism is externa ansa Christi – the external handle of Christ, by which Christ lays hold on men, and men offer themselves to Christ. Particularly, we were baptized into his death, into a participation of the privileges purchased by his death, and into an obligation both to comply with the design of his death, which was to redeem us from all iniquity, and to conform to the pattern of his death, that, as Christ died for sin, so we should die to sin. This was the profession and promise of our baptism, and we do not do well if we do not answer this profession, and make good this promise.

[1.] Our conformity to the death of Christ obliges us to die unto sin; thereby we know the fellowship of his sufferings, Phi 3:10. Thus we are here said to be planted together in the likeness of is death (Rom 6:5), tō homoiōmati, not only a conformity, but a conformation, as the engrafted stock is planted together into the likeness of the shoot, of the nature of which it doth participate. Planting is in order to life and fruitfulness: we are planted in the vineyard in a likeness to Christ, which likeness we should evidence in sanctification. Our creed concerning Jesus Christ is, among other things, that he was crucified, dead, and buried; now baptism is a sacramental conformity to him in each of these, as the apostle here takes notice. First, Our old man is crucified with him, Rom 6:6. The death of the cross was a slow death; the body, after it was nailed to the cross, gave many a throe and many a struggle: but it was a sure death, long in expiring, but expired at last; such is the mortification of sin in believers. It was a cursed death, Gal 3:13. Sin dies as a malefactor, devoted to destruction; it is an accursed thing. Though it be a slow death, yet this must needs hasten it that it is an old man that is crucified; not in the prime of its strength, but decaying: that which waxeth old is ready to vanish away, Heb 8:13. Crucified with himsunestaurōthē, not in respect of time, but in respect of causality. The crucifying of Christ for us has an influence upon the crucifying of sin in us. Secondly, We are dead with Christ, Rom 6:8. Christ was obedient to death: when he died, we might be said to die with him, as our dying to sin is an act of conformity both to the design and to the example of Christ’s dying for sin. Baptism signifies and seals our union with Christ, our engrafting into Christ; so that we are dead with him, and engaged to have no more to do with sin than he had. Thirdly, We are buried with him by baptism, Rom 6:4. Our conformity is complete. We are in profession quite cut off from all commerce and communion with sin, as those that are buried are quite cut off from all the world; not only not of the living, but no more among the living, have nothing more to do with them. Thus must we be, as Christ was, separate from sin and sinners. We are buried, namely, in profession and obligation: we profess to be so, and we are bound to be so: it was our covenant and engagement in baptism; we are sealed to be the Lord’s, therefore to be cut off from sin. Why this burying in baptism should so much as allude to any custom of dipping under water in baptism, any more than our baptismal crucifixion and death should have any such references, I confess I cannot see. It is plain that it is not the sign, but the thing signified, in baptism, that the apostle here calls being buried with Christ, and the expression of burying alludes to Christ’s burial. As Christ was buried, that he might rise again to a new and more heavenly life, so we are in baptism buried, that is, cut off from the life of sin, that we may rise again to a new life of faith and love.

[2.] Our conformity to the resurrection of Christ obliges us to rise again to newness of life. This is the power of his resurrection which Paul was so desirous to know, Phi 3:10. Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, that is, by the power of the Father. The power of God is his glory; it is glorious power, Col 1:11. Now in baptism we are obliged to conform to that pattern, to be planted in the likeness of his resurrection (Rom 6:5), to live with him, Rom 6:8. See Col 2:12. Conversion is the first resurrection from the death of sin to the life of righteousness; and this resurrection is conformable to Christ’s resurrection. This conformity of the saints to the resurrection of Christ seems to be intimated in the rising of so many of the bodies of the saints, which, though mentioned before by anticipation, is supposed to have been concomitant with Christ’s resurrection, Mat 27:52. We have all risen with Christ. In two things we must conform to the resurrection of Christ: – First, He rose to die no more, Rom 6:9. We read of many others that were raised from the dead, but they rose to die again. But, when Christ rose, he rose to die no more; therefore he left his grave-clothes behind him, whereas Lazarus, who was to die again, brought them out with him, as one that should have occasion to use them again: but over Christ death has no more dominion; he was dead indeed, but he is alive, and so alive that he lives for evermore, Rev 1:18. Thus we must rise from the grave of sin never again to return to it, nor to have any more fellowship with the works of darkness, having quitted that grave, that land of darkness as darkness itself. Secondly, He rose to live unto God (Rom 6:10), to live a heavenly life, to receive that glory which was set before him. Others that were raised from the dead returned to the same life in every respect which they had before lived; but so did not Christ: he rose again to leave the world. Now I am no more in the world, Joh 13:1; Joh 17:11. He rose to live to God, that is, to intercede and rule, and all to the glory of the Father. Thus must we rise to live to God: this is what he calls newness of life (Rom 6:4), to live from other principles, by other rules, with other aims, than we have done. A life devoted to God is a new life; before, self was the chief and highest end, but now God. To live indeed is to live to God, with our eyes ever towards him, making him the centre of all our actions.

2. He argues from the precious promises and privileges of the new covenant, Rom 6:14. It might be objected that we cannot conquer and subdue sin, it is unavoidably too hard for us: “No,” says he, “you wrestle with an enemy that may be dealt with and subdued, if you will but keep your ground and stand to your arms; it is an enemy that is already foiled and baffled; there is strength laid up in the covenant of grace for your assistance, if you will but use it. Sin shall not have dominion.” God’s promises to us are more powerful and effectual for the mortifying of sin than our promises to God. Sin may struggle in a believer, and may create him a great deal of trouble, but it shall not have dominion; it may vex him, but shall not rule over him. For we are not under the law, but under grace, not under the law of sin and death, but under the law of the spirit of life, which is in Christ Jesus: we are actuated by other principles than we have been: new lords, new laws. Or, not under the covenant of works, which requires brick, and gives no straw, which condemns upon the least failure, which runs thus, “Do this, and live; do it not, and die;” but under the covenant of grace, which accepts sincerity as our gospel perfection, which requires nothing but what it promises strength to perform, which is herein well ordered, that every transgression in the covenant does not put us out of covenant, and especially that it does not leave our salvation in our own keeping, but lays it up in the hands of the Mediator, who undertakes for us that sin shall not have dominion over us, who hath himself condemned it, and will destroy it; so that, if we pursue the victory, we shall come off more than conquerors. Christ rules by the golden sceptre of grace, and he will not let sin have dominion over those that are willing subjects to that rule. This is a very comfortable word to all true believers. If we were under the law, we were undone, for the law curses every one that continues not in every thing; but we are under grace, grace which accepts the willing mind, which is not extreme to mark what we do amiss, which leaves room for repentance, which promises pardon upon repentance; and what can be to an ingenuous mind a stronger motive than this to have nothing to do with sin? Shall we sin against so much goodness, abuse such love? Some perhaps might suck poison out of this flower, and disingenuously use this as an encouragement to sin. See how the apostle starts at such a thought (Rom 6:15): Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. What can be more black and ill-natured than from a friend’s extraordinary expressions of kindness and good-will to take occasion to affront and offend him? To spurn at such bowels, to spit in the face of such love, is that which, between man and man, all the world would cry out shame on.

3. He argues from the evidence that this will be of our state, making for us, or against us (Rom 6:16): To whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants you are. All the children of men are either the servants of God, or the servants of sin; these are the two families. Now, if we would know to which of these families we belong, we must enquire to which of these masters we yield obedience. Our obeying the laws of sin will be an evidence against us that we belong to that family on which death is entailed. As, on the contrary, our obeying the laws of Christ will evidence our relation to Christ’s family.

4. He argues from their former sinfulness, Rom 6:17-21, where we may observe,

(1.) What they had been and done formerly. We have need to be often reminded of our former state. Paul frequently remembers it concerning himself, and those to whom he writes. [1.] You were the servants of sin. Those that are now the servants of God would do well to remember the time when they were the servants of sin, to keep them humble, penitent, and watchful, and to quicken them in the service of God. It is a reproach to the service of sin that so many thousands have quitted the service, and shaken off the yoke; and never any that sincerely deserted it, and gave themselves to the service of God, have returned to the former drudgery. “God be thanked that you were so, that is, that though you were so, yet you have obeyed. You were so; God be thanked that we can speak of it as a thing past: you were so, but you are not now so. Nay, your having been so formerly tends much to the magnifying of divine mercy and grace in the happy change. God be thanked that the former sinfulness is such a foil and such a spur to your present holiness.” [2.] You have yielded your members servants to uncleanness, and to iniquity unto iniquity, Rom 6:19. It is the misery of a sinful state that the body is made a drudge to sin, than which there could not be a baser or a harder slavery, like that of the prodigal that was sent into the fields to feed swine. You have yielded. Sinners are voluntary in the service of sin. The devil could not force them into the service, if they did not yield themselves to it. This will justify God in the ruin of sinners, that they sold themselves to work wickedness: it was their own act and deed. To iniquity unto iniquity. Every sinful act strengthens and confirms the sinful habit: to iniquity as the work unto iniquity as the wages. Sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind; growing worse and worse, more and more hardened. This he speaks after the manner of men, that is, he fetches a similitude from that which is common among men, even the change of services and subjections. [3.] You were free from righteousness (Rom 6:20); not free by any liberty given, but by a liberty taken, which is licentiousness: “You were altogether void of that which is good, – void of any good principles, motions, or inclinations, – void of all subjection to the law and will of God, of all conformity to his image; and this you were highly pleased with, as a freedom and a liberty; but a freedom from righteousness is the worst kind of slavery.”

(2.) How the blessed change was made, and wherein it did consist.

[1.] You have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered to you, Rom 6:17. This describes conversion, what it is; it is our conformity to, and compliance with, the gospel which was delivered to us by Christ and his ministers. – Margin. Whereto you were delivered; eis hon paredothēteinto which you were delivered. And so observe, First, The rule of grace, that form of doctrine – tupon didachēs. The gospel is the great rule both of truth and holiness; it is the stamp, grace is the impression of that stamp; it is the form of healing words, 2Ti 1:13. Secondly, The nature of grace, as it is our conformity to that rule. 1. It is to obey from the heart. The gospel is a doctrine not only to be believed, but to be obeyed, and that from the heart, which denotes the sincerity and reality of that obedience; not in profession only, but in power – from the heart, the innermost part, the commanding part of us. 2. It is to be delivered into it, as into a mould, as the wax is cast into the impression of the seal, answering it line for line, stroke for stroke, and wholly representing the shape and figure of it. To be a Christian indeed is to be transformed into the likeness and similitude of the gospel, our souls answering to it, complying with it, conformed to it – understanding, will, affections, aims, principles, actions, all according to that form of doctrine.

[2.] Being made free from sin, you became servants of righteousness (Rom 6:18), servants to God, Rom 6:22. Conversion is, First, A freedom from the service of sin; it is the shaking off of that yoke, resolving to have no more to do with it. Secondly, A resignation of ourselves to the service of God and righteousness, to God as our master, to righteousness as our work. When we are made free from sin, it is not that we may live as we list, and be our own masters; no: when we are delivered out of Egypt, we are, as Israel, led to the holy mountain, to receive the law, and are there brought into the bond of the covenant. Observe, We cannot be made the servants of God till we are freed from the power and dominion of sin; we cannot serve two masters so directly opposite one to another as God and sin are. We must, with the prodigal, quit the drudgery of the citizen of the country, before we can come to our Father’s house.

(3.) What apprehensions they now had of their former work and way. He appeals to themselves (Rom 6:21), whether they had not found the service of sin, [1.] An unfruitful service: “What fruit had you then? Did you ever get any thing by it? Sit down, and cast up the account, reckon your gains, what fruit had you then?” Besides the future losses, which are infinitely great, the very present gains of sin are not worth mentioning. What fruit? Nothing that deserves the name of fruit. The present pleasure and profit of sin do not deserve to be called fruit; they are but chaff, ploughing iniquity, sowing vanity, and reaping the same. [2.] It is an unbecoming service; it is that of which we are now ashamed – ashamed of the folly, ashamed of the filth, of it. Shame came into the world with sin, and is still the certain product of it – either the shame of repentance, or, if not that, eternal shame and contempt. Who would wilfully do that which sooner or later he is sure to be ashamed of?

5. He argues from the end of all these things. it is the prerogative of rational creatures that they are endued with a power of prospect, are capable of looking forward, considering the latter end of things. To persuade us from sin to holiness here are blessing and cursing, good and evil, life and death, set before us; and we are put to our choice. (1.) The end of sin is death (Rom 6:21): The end of those things is death. Though the way may seem pleasant and inviting, yet the end is dismal: at the last it bites; it will be bitterness in the latter end. The wages of sin is death, Rom 6:23. Death is as due to a sinner when he hath sinned as wages are to a servant when he hath done his work. This is true of every sin. There is no sin in its own nature venial. Death is the wages of the least sin. Sin is here represented either as the work for which the wages are given, or as the master by whom the wages are given; all that are sin’s servants and do sin’s work must expect to be thus paid. (2.) If the fruit be unto holiness, if there be an active principle of true and growing grace, the end will be everlasting life – a very happy end! – Though the way be up-hill, though it be narrow, and thorny, and beset, yet everlasting life at the end of it is sure. So, Rom 6:23, The gift of God is eternal life. Heaven is life, consisting in the vision and fruition of God; and it is eternal life, no infirmities attending it, no death to put a period to it. This is the gift of God. The death is the wages of sin, it comes by desert; but the life is a gift, it comes by favour. Sinners merit hell, but saints do not merit heaven. There is no proportion between the glory of heaven and our obedience; we must thank God, and not ourselves, if ever we get to heaven. And this gift is through Jesus Christ our Lord. It is Christ that purchased it, prepared it, prepares us for it, preserves us to it; he is the Alpha and Omega, All in all in our salvation.

THE GOSPEL of SATAN By AW Pink (1886-1952)

THE GOSPEL of SATAN By AW Pink (1886-1952)Copyright

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Satan is the arch-counterfeiter. As we have seen, the Devil is now busy at work in the same field in which the Lord sowed the good seed. He is seeking to prevent the growth of the wheat by another plant, the tares, which closely resembles the wheat in appearance. In a word, by a process of imitation he is aiming to neutralize the Word of Christ. Therefore, as Christ has a Gospel, Satan has a gospel too; the latter being a clever counterfeit of the former. So closely does the gospel of Satan resemble that which it parades, multitudes of the unsaved are deceived by it.

It is to this gospel of Satan the apostle refers when he says to the Galatians “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another, but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the Gospel of Christ” (1:6,7). This false gospel was being heralded even in the days of the apostle, and a most awful curse was called down upon those who preached it. The apostle continues, “But though we, or an angel from heaven preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” By the help of God we shall now endeavor to expound, or rather, expose, false gospel.

The gospel of Satan is not a system of revolutionary principles, nor yet a program of anarchy. It does not promote strife and war, but aims at peace and unity. It seeks not to set the mother against her daughter nor the father against his son, but fosters the fraternal, spirit whereby the human race is regarded as one great “brotherhood”. It does not seek to drag down the natural man, but to improve and uplift him. It advocates education and cultivation and appeals to “the best that is within us”. It aims to make this world such a congenial and comfortable habitat that Christ’s absence from it will not be felt and God will not be needed. It endeavors to occupy man so much with this world that he has no time or inclination to think of the world to come. It propagates the principles of self-sacrifice, charity and benevolence, and teaches us to live for the good of others, and to be kind to all. It appeals strongly to the carnal mind and is popular with the masses, because it ignores the solemn facts that by nature man is a fallen creature, alienated from the life of God, and dead in trespasses and sins, and that his only hope lies in being born again.

In contradistinction to the Gospel of Christ, the gospel of Satan teaches salvation by works. It inculcates justification before God on the ground of human merits. Its sacramental phrase is “Be good and do good”; but it fails to recognize that in the flesh there dwelleth no good thing. It announces salvation by character, which reverses the order of God’s Word—character by, as the fruit of, salvation. Its various ramifications and organizations are manifold. Temperance, Reform movements, “Christian Socialist Leagues”, ethical culture societies, “Peace Congresses” are all employed (perhaps unconsciously) in proclaiming this gospel of Satan—salvation by works. The pledge-card is substituted for Christ; social purity for individual regeneration, and politics and philosophy for doctrine and godliness. The cultivation of the old man is considered more practical” than the creation of a new man in Christ Jesus; whilst universal peace is looked for apart from the interposition and return of the Prince of Peace.

The apostles of Satan are not saloon-keepers and white slave traffickers, but are or the most part ordained ministers. Thousands of those who occupy our modern pulpits are no longer engaged in presenting the fundamentals of the Christian Faith, but have turned aside from the Truth and have given heed unto fables. Instead of magnifying the enormity of sin and setting forth its eternal consequences, they minimize it by declaring that sin is merely ignorance or the absence of good. Instead of warning their hearers to “flee from the wrath to come” they make God a liar by declaring that He is too loving and merciful to send any of His own creatures to eternal torment.

Instead of declaring that “without shedding of blood is no remission”, they merely hold up Christ as the great Examplar and exhort their followers to “follow in His step”. Of them it must be said, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:3). Their message may sound very plausible and they appear very praiseworthy, yet we read of them, “for such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves (imitating) into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing (not to be wondered at) if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works” (2 Cor. 11:13-15).

In addition to the fact that today hundreds of churches are without a leader who faithfully declares the whole counsel of God and presents His way of salvation, we also have to face the additional fact that the majority of people in these churches are very unlikely to learn the Truth for themselves. The family altar, where a portion of God’s Word was wont to be read daily is now, even in the homes of nominal Christians, largely a thing of the past. The Bible is not expounded in the pulpit and it is not read in the pew. The demands of this rushing age are so numerous that the multitudes have little time and still less inclination to make preparation for their meeting with God. Hence the majority who are too indolent to search for themselves are left at the mercy of those whom they pay to search for them; many of which betray their trust by studying and expounding economic and social problems rather than the Oracles of God . . . .

And now, my reader, where do you stand? Are you in the way which “seemeth right”, but which ends in death? Or are you in the Narrow Way which leadeth unto life? Have you truly forsaken the Broad Road that leadeth to death? Has the love of Christ created in your heart a hatred and horror of all that is displeasing to Him? Are, you desirous that He should “reign over” (Luke 19:14) you? Are you relying wholly on His righteousness and blood for your acceptance with God? . . . .

A yet more specious form of Satan’s gospel is to move preachers to present the atoning sacrifice of Christ and then tell their hearers that all God requires from them is to “believe” in His Son. Thereby thousands of impenitent souls are deluded into thinking that they have been saved. But Christ said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). To “repent” is to hate sin, to sorrow over, to turn from it. It is the result of the Spirit’s making the heart contrite before God. None except a broken heart can savingly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Again; thousands are deceived into supposing that they have “accepted Christ” as their “personal Saviour”, who have not first received Him as their LORD. The Son of God did not come here to save people in their sins, but “from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). To be saved from sins, is to be saved from ignoring and despising the authority of God, it is to abandon the course of self-will and self-pleasing, it is to “forsake our way” (Isa. 55:7). It is to surrender to God’s authority, to yield to His dominion, to give ourselves over to be ruled by Him. The one who has never taken Christ’s “yoke” upon him, who is not truly and diligently seeking to please Him in all the details of his life, and yet supposes that he is “resting on the Finished Work of Christ” is deluded by the Devil. In the seventh chapter of Matthew there are two scriptures which give us approximate results of Christ’s Gospel and Satan’s counterfeit. First, in verses 13 and 14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate. For, wide is the gate and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life and few there be that find it.” Second, in verses 22 and 23, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesized (preached) in Thy name? And in Thy name have cast out demons, and in Thy name have done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you, depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Yes, my reader, it is possible to work in the name of Christ, and even to preach in His name, and though the world knows us, and the Church knows us, yet to be unknown to the Lord! How necessary it is then to find out where we really are; to examine ourselves to see whether we be in the faith; to measure ourselves by the Word of God and see if we are being deceived by our subtle Enemy; to find out whether we are building our house upon the sand, or whether it is erected on the Rock which is Christ Jesus. May the Holy Spirit search our hearts, break our wills, slay our enmity against God, work in us a deep and true repentance, and direct our gaze to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.

CH Spurgeon (1834-1892): The Warning Neglected

The Warning Neglected

BY

C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Copyright: Public Domain

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The Warning Neglected (Sermon No. 165 from Vol. IV)

Delivered on Sabbath Morning, November 29, 1857 at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.

“He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him.”—Ezekiel 33:5.

In all worldly things, men are always enough awake to understand their own interests. There is scarce a merchant who reads the paper, who does not read it in some way or other, with a view to his own personal concerns. If he finds that by the rise or fall of the markets, he will be either a gainer or loser, that part of the day’s news will be the most important to him. In politics, in everything, in fact, that concerns temporal affairs, personal interest usually leads the van. Men will always be looking out for themselves, and personal and home interests will generally engross the major part of their thoughts. But in religion, it is otherwise. In religion men love far rather to believe abstract doctrines, and to talk of general truths, than the searching inquiries which examine their own personal interest in it. You will hear many men admire the preacher who deals in generalities, but when he comes to press home searching questions, by-and-by they are offended. If we stand and declare general facts, such as the universal sinnership of mankind, or the need of a Saviour, they will give an assent to our doctrine, and possibly they may retire greatly delighted with the discourse, because it has not affected them; but how often will our audience gnash their teeth, and go away in a rage, because, like the Pharisees with Jesus, they perceive, concerning a faithful minister, that he spoke of them. And yet, my brethren, how foolish this is. If in all other matters we like personalities—if in everything else we look to our own concerns, how much more should we do so in religion? for, surely, every man must give an account for himself, at the day of judgment. We must die alone; we must rise at the day of resurrection one by one, and each one for himself must appear before the bar of God; and each one must either have said to him, as an individual, “Come ye blessed;” or else, he must be appalled with the thundering sentence, “Depart, ye cursed.” If there were such a thing as national salvation; if it could be possible that we could be saved in the gross and in the bulk, that so, like the sheaves of corn, the few weeds that may grow with the stubble, would be gathered in for the sake of the wheat, then, indeed, it might not be so foolish for us to neglect our own personal interests; but if the sheep must, every one of them, pass under the hand of him that telleth them, if every man must stand in his own person before God, to be tried for his own acts—by everything that is rational, by everything that conscience would dictate, and self-interest would command, let us each of us look to our own selves, that we be not deceived, and that we find not ourselves, at last, miserably cast away.

Now, this morning, by God’s help, I shall labor to be personal, and whilst I pray for the rich assistance of the Divine Spirit, I will also ask one thing of each person here present—I would ask of every Christian that he would lift up a prayer to God, that the service may be blessed; and I ask of every other person that he will please to understand that I am preaching to him, and at him; and if there be anything that is personal and pertinent to his own case, I beseech him, as for life and death, to let it have its full weight with him, and not begin to think of his neighbor, to whom perhaps it may be even more pertinent, but whose business certainly does not concern him.

The text is a solemn one—”He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning: his blood shall be upon him.” The first head is this—the warning was all that could be desired—”he heard the sound of the trumpet.” Secondly, the excuses for not attending to the startling warning are all of them both frivolous and wicked: and therefore, in the third place, the consequences of inattention must be terrible, because man’s blood must then be on his own head.

I. First, then, THE WARNING WAS ALL THAT COULD BE DESIRED. When in time of war an army is attacked in the night, and cut off and destroyed whilst asleep, if it were impossible for them to be aware of the attack, and if they had made all diligence in placing their sentinels, but nevertheless the foe were so wary as to destroy them, we should weep; we should attach no blame to any one, but should deeply regret, and should give to that host our fullest pity. But if, on the other hand, they had posted their sentinels, and the sentinels were wide awake, and gave to the sleepy soldiers every warning that could be desired, but nevertheless, the army were cut off, although we might for common humanity regret the loss thereof, yet at the same time we should be obliged to say, if they were foolish enough to sleep when the sentinels had warned them; if they folded their arms in presumptuous sloth, after they had sufficient and timely notice of the progress of their blood-thirsty enemy, then in their dying, we cannot pity them: their blood must rest upon their own heads. So, it is with you. If men perish under an unfaithful ministry, and have not been sufficiently warned to escape from the wrath to come, the Christian may pity them, yea, and methinks, even when they stand before the bar of God, although the fact of their not having been warned will not fully excuse them, yet it will go far to diminish their eternal miseries, which otherwise might have fallen upon their heads; for we know it is more tolerable for unwarned Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than it is for any city, or any nation that has had the Gospel proclaimed in its ears. My brethren, if on the other hand, we have been warned, if our ministers have been faithful, if they have aroused our conscience, and have constantly and earnestly called our attention to the fact of the wrath to come, if we have not attended to their message, if we have despised the voice of God, if we have turned a deaf ear to their earnest exhortation, if we perish, we shall die warned—die under the sound of the Gospel, and our damnation must be an unpitied one, for our blood must fall upon out own heads. Permit me then, to try, if I can, to enlarge upon this thought, that the warning has been, in the case of many of you, all that could have been needed.

In the first place, the warnings of the ministry have been to most of you warnings that have been heard—”He heard the sound of the trumpet.” In far off lands, the trumpet sound of warning is not heard. Alas! there are myriads of our fellow-creatures who have never been warned by God’s embassadors, who know not that wrath abideth on them, and who do not yet understand the only way and method of salvation. In your case it is very different. You have heard the Word of God preached to you. You cannot say, when you come before God, “Lord, I knew no better.” There is not a man or a woman within this place who will dare then to plead ignorance. And moreover, you have not only heard with your ears, but some of you have been obliged to hear it in your consciences. I have before me many of my hearers whom I have had the pleasure of seeing now for some years. It has not been once, or twice, but many a time, I have seen the tear guttering their cheeks when I have spoken earnestly, faithfully, and affectionately to you. I have seen your whole soul moved within you; and yet, to my sorrow, you are now what you were: your goodness has been as the early cloud, and as the morning dew that passeth away. You have heard the Gospel. You wept under it, and you loved the sound of it, and you came again, and wept again, and many marveled that you did weep, but the greatest marvel was, that after having wept so well, you wiped away your tears so easily. Oh, yes, God is my witness, there are some of you not an inch nearer heaven, but ye have sealed your own damnation doubly sure, unless ye repent: for ye have heard the Gospel, ye have despised prophesyings, ye have rejected the counsel of God against yourself; and, therefore, when you shall die, ye must die pitied by your friends, but at the same time with your blood on your own heads.

The trumpet was not only heard, but, more than that, its warning was understood. When the man, supposed in the text, heard the trumpet, he understood by it that the enemy was at hand, and yet he took not warning. Now, my brethren, in your case, the sound of the Gospel warning has been understood. A thousand faults your minister may have, but there is one fault from which he is entirely free and that is, he is free from all attempts to use fine language in the expression of his thoughts; ye are all my witnesses, that if there be a Saxon word, or a homely phrase, a sentence that is rough and market-like, that will tell you the truth, I always use that first. I can say solemnly, as in the sight of God, that I never went out of my pulpit, except with the firm belief, that whatever might have happened, I was perfectly understood. I had sought, at least, so to gather wise words, that no man might mistake my meaning; gnash his teeth he might, but he could not say, “The preacher was misty and cloudy, talking to me of metaphysics, beyond my comprehension; he has been obliged to say, “Well, I know what he meant, he spoke plainly enough to me.” Well, sirs, then if it be so, and if ye have heard warnings that ye could understand, so much the more guilty are ye, if ye are living this day in rejection of them. If I have preached to you in a style above comprehension, then on my head must be your blood, because I ought to have made you understand; but if I come down to men of low estate, and pick even vulgar phrases to suit common people, then if you understood the warning, and if ye then risked it, mark you, my hands are clean of your blood. If ye be damned, I am innocent of your damnation, for I have told you plainly, that except ye repent, ye must perish, and that except ye put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is for you no hope of salvation.

Again, this trumpet sound was startling. The trumpet’s sound is ever considered to be the most startling in the world. Tis that which shall be used on the resurrection morning to startle the myriads of sleepers, and make them rise from their tombs. Ay, and ye have had a startling ministry. Ye have sat, some of you, under ministers that might have made the devil himself tremble, so earnest have they been; and they have made you tremble sometimes, so much, that you could not sleep. The hair of your head was well nigh moved to stand upright. They spake as though they never might speak again: as dying men to dying men. They spoke as if they had been in hell, and knew the vengeance of the Almighty, and anon, they spoke as if they had entered into the heart of Jesus, and read his love to sinners. They had brows of brass; they knew not how to flinch. They laid your iniquity bare before your face, and with rough language that was unmistakable, they made you feel that there was a man there who told you all things that ever you did. They so declared it, that you could not help feeling under it. You always retained a veneration for that minister, because you felt that he at least was honest with you; and you have sometimes thought that you would even go and hear him again, because there at least your soul was moved, and you were made to hear the truth. Yes, you have had a startling ministry, some of you. Then, sirs, if ye have heard the cry of fire, if ye are burned in your beds, your charred ashes shall not accuse me. If I have warned you that he that believeth not must be damned, if you are damned, your miserable souls shall not accuse me. If I have startled you sometimes from your slumbers, and made your balls and your pleasure parties uneasy, because I have sometimes warned you of these things, then sirs, if after all you put away these warnings, and you reject these counsels, you will be obliged to say, “My blood is on my own head.”

In many of your cases the warning has been very frequent. If the man heard the trumpet sound once and did not regard it, possibly we might excuse him; but how many of my audience have heard the trumpet sound of the gospel very frequently. There you are, young man. You have had many years of a pious mother’s teaching, many years of a pious minister’s exhortations. Wagon loads of sermons have been exhausted upon you. You have had many sharp providences, many terrible sicknesses. Often when the death-bell has tolled for your friend, your conscience has been aroused. To you warnings are not unusual things; they are very common. Oh! my hearers, if a man should hear the gospel but once, his blood would be upon his own head for rejecting it; but of how much sorer punishment shall you be thought worthy who have heard it many and many a time. Ah! I may well creep, when I think how many sermons you have listened to, many of you, how many times you have been cut to the heart. A hundred times every year you have gone up to the house of God, and far oftener than that, and you have just added a hundred billets to the eternal pile. A hundred times the trumpet has sounded in your ears, and a hundred times you have turned away to sin again, to despise Christ, to neglect your eternal interests, and to pursue the pleasures and the concerns of this world. Oh! how mad is this, how mad! Oh, sirs, if a man had but once poured out his heart before you concerning your eternal interests, and if he had spoken to you earnestly, and you had rejected his message, then, even then, ye had been guilty. But what shall we say to you upon whom the shafts of the Almighty have been exhausted? Oh, what shall be done unto this barren ground that hath been watered with shower after shower, and that hath been quickened with sunshine after sunshine? What shall be done unto him who being often rebuked, still hardeneth his neck? Shall he not be suddenly destroyed, and that without remedy, and shall it not then be said, “His blood lieth at his own door, his guilt is on his own head?”

And I would just have you recollect one thing more. This warning that you have had so often has come to you in time. “Ah,” said an infidel once, “God never regards man. If there be a God, he would never take notice of men.” Said a Christian minister, who was sitting opposite to him in the carriage, “The day may come, sir, when you will learn the truth of what you have just said. “I do not understand your allusion, sir,” said he. “Well, sir, the day may come, when you may call, and he will refuse; when you may stretch out your hands and he will not regard you, but as he has said in the book of Proverbs, so will he do, Because I called, and ye refused; because I stretched out my hands, and no man regarded, I also will mock at your calamity, I will laugh when your fear cometh.” But oh, sirs, your warning has not come too late. You are not warned on a sick bed, at the eleventh hour, when there is but a bare possibility of salvation, but you are warned in time, you are warned to-day, you have been warned for these many years that are now past. If God should send a preacher to the damned in hell, that were an unnecessary addition to their misery. Surely, if one could go and preach the gospel through the fields of Gehenna, and tell them of a Saviour they had despised, and of a gospel that is now beyond their reach, that were taunting poor souls with a vain attempt to increase their unutterable woe; but O my brethren, to preach the gospel now is to preach in a hopeful period; for “now is the accepted time: now is the day of salvation.” Warn the boatman before he enters the current, and then, if he is swept down the rapids, he destroys himself. Warn the man before he drinks the cup of poison, tell him it is deadly: and then, if he drinks it, his death lies at his own door. And so, let us warn you before you depart this life; let us preach to you while as yet your bones are full of marrow, and the sinews of your joints are not loosed. We have then warned you in time, and so much the more shall your guilt be increased, because the warning was timely; it was frequent, it was earnest, it was appropriate, it was arousing, it was continually given to you, and yet you sought not to escape from the wrath to come.

And so even this morning would I say to you, if ye perish, my skirts are white of your blood; if ye are damned, it is not for want of calling after, nor for want of praying for, nor for want of weeping over. Your blood must be on your own heads; for the warning is all that is needed.

II. And now we come to the second point. MEN MAKE EXCUSES WHY THEY DO NOT ATTEND TO THE GOSPEL WARNING, BUT THESE EXCUSES ARE ALL FRIVOLOUS AND WICKED. I will just go over one or two of the excuses that people make. Some of them say, “Well, I did not attend to the warning because I did not believe there was any necessity for it.” Ah! You were told that after death there was a judgment, and you did not believe there was any necessity that you should be prepared for that judgment. You were told that by the works of the law there shall no flesh living be justified, and that only through Christ can sinners be saved; and you did not think there was any necessity for Christ. Well, sir, you ought to have thought there was a necessity. You know there was a necessity in your inner consciousness. You talked very large things when you stood up as an unbeliever, a professed unbeliever: but you know there was a still small voice that while you spake belied your tongue. You are well aware that in the silent watches of the night you have often trembled; in a storm at sea you have been on your knees to pray to a God whom on the land you have laughed at; and when you have been sick nigh unto death, you have said, “Lord, have mercy upon me;” and so you have prayed, that you have believed it after all. But if you did not believe it, you ought to have believed it. There was enough in reason to have taught you that there was an hereafter; the Book of God’s revelation was plain enough to have taught it to you, and if you have rejected God’s Book, and rejected the voice of reason and of conscience, your blood is on your own head. Your excuse is idle. It is worse than that, it is profane and wicked, and still on your own head be your everlasting torment.

“But,” cries another, “I did not like the trumpet. I did not like the Gospel that was preached.” Says one, “I did not like certain doctrines in the Bible. I thought the minister preached too harsh doctrines sometimes, I did not agree with the Gospel; I thought the Gospel ought to have been altered, and not to have been just what it was.” You did not like the trumpet, did you? Well, but God made the trumpet, God made the Gospel; and inasmuch as ye did not like what God made, it is an idle excuse. What was that to you what the trumpet was, so long as it warned you? And surely, if it had been time of war, and you had heard a trumpet sounded to warn you of the coming of the enemy, you would not have sat still, and said, “now I believe that is a brass trumpet, I would like to have had it made of silver.” No, but the sound would have been enough for you, and up you would have been to escape from the danger. And so it must be now with you. It is an idle presence that you did not like it. You ought to have liked it, for God made the Gospel what it is.

But you say, “I did not like the man that blew it.” Well, if you did not like one messenger of God, there are many in this city. Could you not find one you did like? You did not like one man’s manner; it was too theatrical; you did not like another’s: it was too doctrinal; you did not like another’s: it was too practical—there are plenty of them, you may take which you do like, but if God has sent the men, and told them how to blow, and if they blow to the best of their ability, it is all in vain for you to reject their warnings, because they do not blow the way you like. Ah, my brethren, we do not find fault with the way a man speaks, if we are in a house that is on fire. If the man calls, “Fire! Fire!” we are not particular what note he takes, we do not think what a harsh voice he has got. You would think any one a fool, who should lie in his bed, to be burned, because he said he did not like the way the man cried, “Fire.” Why his business was to have been out of bed and down the stairs at once, as soon as he heard it.

But another says, “I did not like the man himself; I did not like the minister; I did not like the man that blew the trumpet; I could hear him preach very well, but I had a personal dislike to him, and so I did not take any notice of what the trumpet said.” Verily, God will say to thee at last, “Thou fool, what hadst thou to do with that man; to his own master he stands or falls; thy business was with thyself.” What would you think of a man? A man has fallen overboard from a ship, and when he is drowning, some sailor throws him a rope, and there it is. Well, he says, in the first place, “I do not like that rope; I don’t think that rope was made at the best manufactory; there is some tar on it too, I do not like it; and in the next place, I do not like that sailor that threw the rope over, I am sure he is not a kind-hearted man, I do not like the look of him at all;” and then comes a gurgle and a groan, and down he is in the bottom of the sea; and when he was drowned, they said, that it served him right, if he would not lay hold of the rope, but would be making such foolish and absurd objections, when it was a matter of life and death. Then on his own head be his blood. And so shall it be with you at last. You are so busy with criticising the minister, and his style, and his doctrine, that your own soul perishes. Remember you may get into hell by criticism, but you will never criticise your soul out of it. You may there make the most you can of it. You may be there and say, “I did not like the minister, I did not like his manner, I did not like his matter;” but all your dislikings will not get one drop of water to cool your burning tongue, nor serve to mitigate the unalleviated torments of that world of agony.

There are many other people who say, “Ah, well, I did none of those things, but I had a notion that the trumpet sound ought to be blown to everybody else, but not to me.” Ah! that is a very common notion. “All men think all men mortal, but themselves,” said a good poet; and all men think all men need the Gospel, but not themselves. Let each of us recollect that the Gospel has a message to each one of us. What saith the Gospel to thee my hearer ? What saith the Word to thee? Forget thy neighbors, and ask this question. Doth it condemn thee? or doth it assure thee of thy pardon? for recollect, all thou hast to do in the hearing of the Word, is to hear with thine own ears for thine own soul, and it will be idle for any one to say “I did not think it applied to me,” when we know that it is to be preached to every creature under heaven, and therefore there must be something in it for every creature or else it would not be preached to every creature.

Well, says another, “But I was so busy, I had so much to do, that I could not possibly attend to my soul’s concerns. What will you say of the man who had so much to do that he could not get out of the burning house, but was burnt to ashes? What will you say of the man that had so much to do, that when he was dying, he had not time to send for a physician? Why, you will say, then he ought not to have so much to do. And if any man in the world has a business which causes him to lose his own soul for want of time, let him lay this question to his heart, “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” But it is false—it is false—men have got time. It is the want of will, not want of way. You have time, sir, have you not, despite all your business, to spend in pleasure? You have time to read your newspaper—have you no time to read your Bible? You have time to sing a song—have you no time to pray a prayer? Why, you know when farmer Brown met farmer Smith in the market one day, he said to him, “Farmer Smith, I can’t think how it is you find time for hunting. Why, man, what with sowing and mowing and reaping and plowing, and all that, my time is so fully occupied on my farm, and I have no time for hunting.” “Ah,” said he, “Brown, if you liked hunting as much as I do, if you could not find time, you’d make it.” And so it is with religion, the reason why men cannot find time for it is, because they do not like it well enough. If they liked it, they would find time. And besides, what time does it want? What time does it require? Can I not pray to God over my ledger? Can I not snatch a text at my very breakfast, and think over it all day? May I not even when I am busy in the affairs of the world, be thinking of my soul, and casting myself upon a Redeemer’s blood and atonement? It wants no time. There may be some time required; some time for my private devotions, and for communion with Christ, but when I grow in grace, I shall think it right to have more and more time, the more I can possibly get, the happier I shall be, and I shall never make the excuse that I have no time.

“Well,” says another, “but I thought I had time enough, you do not want me, sir, to be religious in my youth, do you? I am a lad, and may I not have a little frolic and sow my wild oats as well as anybody else?” Well—yes, yes; but at the same time the best place for pleasure that I know of, is where a Christian lives; the finest happiness in all the world is the happiness of a child of God. You may have your pleasures—oh, yes! you shall have them doubled and trebled, if you are a Christian. You shall not have things that worldlings call pleasures, but you shall have some that are a thousand times better. But only look at that sorrowful picture. There, far away in the dark gulf of woe, lies a young man, and he cries, “Ah! I meant to have repented when I was out of my apprenticeship, and I died before my time was up.” “Ah!” says another by his side, “and I thought, whilst I was a journeyman, that when I came to be a master, I would then think of the things of Christ, but I died before I had got money enough to start for myself.” And then a merchant behind wails with bitter woe, and says, “Ah! I thought I would be religious when I had got enough to retire on, and live in the country; then I should have time to think of God, when I had got all my children married out, and my concerns settled about me, but here I am shut up in hell; and now what are all my delays worth, and what is all the time I gained for all the paltry pleasures in the world? Now I have lost my soul over them.” We experience great vexation if we are unpunctual in many places; but we cannot conceive what must be the horror and dismay of men who find themselves too late in the  next world! Ah! friends, if I knew there was one here who said, “I shall repent next Wednesday,” I would have him feel in a dreadful state till that Wednesday came; for what if he should die? Oh! what if he should die? Would his promise of a Wednesday’s repentance save him from a Tuesday damnation?

Ah, these are all idle excuses. Men make not such when their bodily life is concerned. Would God that we were wise, that we would not make such pitiful pretences to apology, when our soul, our own soul, is the matter at stake. If they take not warning, whatever their excuse, their blood must be upon their own head.

III. And now, I come most solemnly to conclude with all the power of earnestness; the warning has been sufficient, the excuse for not attending to it has been proved profane; then the last thought is “HIS BLOOD SHALL BE ON HIS OWN HEAD.” Briefly thus—he shall perish; he shall perish certainly; he shall perish inexcusably. He shall perish. And what does that mean? There is no human mind, however capacious, that can ever guess the thought of a soul eternally cast away from God. The wrath to come is as inexpressible as the glory that shall be revealed hereafter. Our Saviour labored for words with which to express the horrors of a future state of the ungodly. You remember he talked of worms that die not, and fires that are never quenched, of a pit without a bottom, of weeping, and wailing and gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness.

No preacher was ever so loving as Christ, but no man ever spoke so horribly about hell; and yet even when the Saviour had said his best and said his worst, he had not told us what are the horrors of a future state. Ye have seen sicknesses, ye have heard the shrieks of men and women when their pangs have been upon them. We, at least, have stood by the bedsides even of some dear to us, and we have seen to what an extent agony may be carried in the human body, but none of us know how much the body is capable of suffering. Certainly the body will have to suffer forever—”He is able to cast both body and soul into hell.” We have heard of exquisite torments, but we have never dreamt of any like unto this. Again, we have seen something of the miseries of the soul. Have we never marked the man that we used to know in our childhood who was depressed in spirits. All that ever could be done for him never could evoke a smile from him—never did the light of cheerfulness light up his eye—he was mournfully depressed. Ay, and it was my unhappy lot to live with one who was not only depressed in spirits, but whose mind had gone so far amiss, that it did brood fancies so mournful and dismal, that the very sight of him was enough to turn the sunlight of summer into the very darkness of a dreary winter. He had nothing to say but dark, groaning words. His thoughts always had a sombre appearance about them. It was midnight in his soul—a darkness that might be felt. Have you never seen yourselves what power the mind has over us to make us full of misery? Ah, brethren and sisters, if ye could go to many of our asylums, and to our sick wards—ay, and dying beds, too, you may know what acute anguish the mind may feel. And remember that the mind, as well as the mortal frame, is to endure damnation. Yes, we must not shirk that word, the Scripture saith it, and we must use it. Oh! men and women, except we repent, except we do each of us cry for mercy to him that is able to save, we must perish. All that is meant by that word “hell” must be realized in me, except I be a believer; and so all that is meant by “Depart, ye cursed,” must be thine, unless thou dost turn unto God with full purpose of heart.

But again, he that turneth not at the rebuke of the minister shall die, and he shall die certainly. This is not a matter of perhaps or chance. The things we preach, and that are taught in Scripture, are matters of solemn certainty. It may be that death is that bourne from which no traveller returns, but it is not true that we know nothing of it. It is as certain as that there are men, and a world in which they live, that there is another world to come, and that if they die impenitent, that world will be to them one of misery. And mark you—there is no chance of escape, die without Christ, and there is no gate out of which you can escape—forever, oh, forever lost, and not one hope of mercy—cast away, and not one outlet for escape, not one solitary chance of ransom. Oh, if there were hope that in the world to come, men might escape, we need not be so earnest; but since once lost, lost for ayeonce cast away, cast away without hope, without any prospect of a hope, we must be earnest. Oh, my God, when I remember that I have to-day some here present who in all probability must be dead before next Sabbath, I must be earnest. Out of so large an assembly, the chances are that we shall not all of us be found pilgrims in this world within another seven days. It is not only possible, but probable, that someone out of this vast audience will have been launched upon a world unknown. Shall it be myself, and shall I sail to the port of bliss, or must I sail over fiery waves forever, lost, shipwrecked, stranded, on the rocks of woe? Soul, which shall it be with thee? It may be thou shalt die, my gray-headed hearer, or thou young lad, thou boy, thou mayest die—I know not which, nor can we tell—God only knoweth. Then let each one ask himself—Am I prepared, should I be called to die? Yes, you may die where you are, on the benches where you are sitting—you may now die—and whither would you go? for recollect that whither ye go, ye go forever. Oh! eternity—eternity—eternity—must I climb thy topless steeps forever, and never reach the summit, and must my path be ever misery or joy. Oh! eternity, thou depth without a bottom, thou sea without a shore, must I sail over thy boundless waves forever in one undeviating track—and must I either plough through seas of bliss, or else be driven by the stormy winds of vengeance, over gulfs of misery? “Then what am I?” “My soul awake and an impartial survey take.” Am I prepared? Am I prepared? Am I prepared? For, prepared or not, death admits of no delay, and if he is at my door, he will take me where I must go forever, prepared or not.

Now, the last thing is, the sinner will perish—he will perish certainly, but, last of all, he will perish without excuse—his blood shall be on his own head. When a man is bankrupt, if he can say, “It is not through reckless trading—it has been entirely through the dishonesty of one I trusted that I am what I am;” he takes some consolation, and he says, “I can not help it.” But oh, my hearers, if you make bankrupts of your own souls, after you have been warned, then your own eternal bankruptcy shall lie at your own door. Should never so great a misfortune come upon us, if we can trace it to the providence of God, we bear it cheerfully; but if we have inflicted it upon ourselves, then how fearful is it! And let every man remember that if he perish after having heard the Gospel, he will be his own murderer. Sinner, thou wilt drive the dagger into thine heart thyself. If thou despisest the Gospel, thou art preparing fuel for thine own bed of flames, thou art hammering out the chain for thine own everlasting binding; and when damned, thy mournful reflection will be this:—I have damned myself, I cast myself into this pit; for I rejected the Gospel; I despised the message; I trod underfoot the Son of Man; I would have none of his rebukes; I despised his Sabbaths; I would not hearken to his exhortations, and now I perish by mine own hand, the miserable suicide of my own soul.”

And now a sweet reflection strikes me. A good writer says, “There are, doubtless, spots in the world that would be barren forever, if we recollected what had happened there.” Says he, “I was once in St. Paul’s cathedral, just under the dome, and a friend just touched me gently and said, Do you see that little chisel mark? and I said ”Yes.” He said, ”That is where a man threw himself down, and there he fell, and was dashed to atoms.” The writer says, “We all started aside from that little spot, where a fellow-creature’s blood had been shed. It seemed an awful place when we remembered that.” Now, there is many a street, there is many a way-side, there is many a house of God, where men have taken the last decision, and damned their own souls. I doubt not, there are some here this morning, standing or sitting, to whom the voice of conscience says, “Decide for God,” and now Satan and the evil heart together are saying, “Reject the message; laugh it off; forget it: take a ticket for the theater to-morrow: do not let this man alarm us: it is his very profession to talk to us like this; let us go away, and laugh it off; and let us spend the rest of this day in merriment.” Yes, that is the last warning thou wilt ever have. It is so with some of you. There are some of you that will this hour decide to damn yourselves, and you will look forever throughout eternity, to that place under the gallery, and you will say, “Alas! woe was the day I heard that man, I was half impressed—almost he persuaded me to be a Christian, but I decided for hell.” And that will be a solemn spot to angels where you are standing, or where you are sitting, for angels will say to one another, “Stand aside; that is a spot where a man ruined his own soul for ever and ever. But the sweet thought is, that there are some places just the reverse.

Why, you are sitting, my friend, this morning, on a spot where some three weeks ago one sat who was converted to God; and that place where you are sitting you ought to venerate, for in that place there sat one who was one of the chiefest of sinners like yourself, and there the Gospel message met him. And far back there, behind the door, many a soul has been brought to Christ. Many a piece of good news have I heard from some in yonder upper gallery. “I could not see your face, sir, all the sermon through, but the arrow of the Lord found its way round the corner, and reached my heart notwithstanding that, and I was saved.” Ah, well, may God so bless this place, that every seat of it this day may be solemnized by his own grace, and a spot to be remembered in your future history by reason of the beginning of your blessedness, the dawn of your salvation. “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and be baptized, and thou shalt be saved.” This is the gospel we are told to preach to every creature—”He that believeth, and is immersed, shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned.”

Matthew Henry (1662-1714): Commentary on Romans 8

Commentary on Romans 8

By

Matthew Henry (1662-1714)

Copyright: Public Domain

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Romans 8:1-9

I. The apostle here beings with one signal privilege of true Christians, and describes the character of those to whom it belongs: There is therefore now no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus, Rom 8:1. This is his triumph after that melancholy complaint and conflict in the foregoing chapter – sin remaining, disturbing, vexing, but, blessed be God, not ruining. The complaint he takes to himself, but humbly transfers the comfort with himself to all true believers, who are all interested in it. 1. It is the unspeakable privilege and comfort of all those that are in Christ Jesus that there is therefore now no condemnation to them. He does not say, “There is no accusation against them,” for this there is; but the accusation is thrown out, and the indictment quashed. He does not say, “There is nothing in them that deserves condemnation,” for this there is, and they see it, and own it, and mourn over it, and condemn themselves for it; but it shall not be their ruin. He does not say, “There is no cross, no affliction to them or no displeasure in the affliction,” for this there may be; but no condemnation. They may be chastened of the Lord, but not condemned with the world. Now this arises from their being in Christ Jesus; by virtue of their union with him through faith they are thus secured. They are in Christ Jesus, as in their city of refuge, and so are protected from the avenger of blood. He is their advocate, and brings them off. There is therefore no condemnation, because they are interested in the satisfaction that Christ by dying made to the law. In Christ, God does not only not condemn them, but is well pleased with them, Mat 17:5. 2. It is the undoubted character of all those who are so in Christ Jesus as to be freed from condemnation that they walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. Observe, The character is given from their walk, not from any one particular act, but from their course and way. And the great question is, What is the principle of the walk, the flesh or the spirit, the old or the new nature, corruption or grace? Which of these do we mind, for which of these do we make provision, by which of these are we governed, which of these do we take part with?

II. This great truth, thus laid down, he illustrates in the following verses; and shows how we come by this great privilege, and how we may answer this character.

1. How we come by these privileges – the privilege of justification, that there is no condemnation to us – the privilege of sanctification, that we walk after the Spirit, and not after the flesh, which is no less our privilege than it is our duty. How comes it about?

(1.) The law could not do it, Rom 8:3. It could neither justify nor sanctify, neither free us from the guilt nor from the power of sin, having not the promises either of pardon or grace. The law made nothing perfect: It was weak. Some attempt the law made towards these blessed ends, but, alas! it was weak, it could not accomplish them: yet that weakness was not through any defect in the law, but through the flesh, through the corruption of human nature, by which we became incapable either of being justified or sanctified by the law. We had become unable to keep the law, and, in case of failure, the law, as a covenant of works, made no provision, and so left us as it found us. Or understand it of the ceremonial law; that was a plaster not wide enough for the wound, it could never take away sin, Heb 10:4.

(2.) The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus does it, Rom 8:2. The covenant of grace made with us in Christ is a treasury of merit and grace, and thence we receive pardon and a new nature, are freed from the law of sin and death, that is, both from the guilt and power of sin – from the course of the law, and the dominion of the flesh. We are under another covenant, another master, another husband, under the law of the Spirit, the law that gives the Spirit, spiritual life to qualify us for eternal. The foundation of this freedom is laid in Christ’s undertaking for us, of which he speaks Rom 8:3, God sending his own Son. Observe, When the law failed, God provided another method. Christ comes to do that which the law could not do. Moses brought the children of Israel to the borders of Canaan, and then died, and left them there; but Joshua did that which Moses could not do, and put them in possession of Canaan. Thus what the law could not do Christ did. The best exposition of this verse we have Heb 10:1-10. To make the sense of the words clear, which in our translation is a little intricate, we may read it thus, with a little transposition: – God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and a sacrifice for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, which the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, etc., Rom 8:4. Observe, [1.] How Christ appeared: In the likeness of sinful flesh. Not sinful, for he was holy, harmless, undefiled; but in the likeness of that flesh which was sinful. He took upon him that nature which was corrupt, though perfectly abstracted from the corruptions of it. His being circumcised, redeemed, baptized with John’s baptism, bespeaks the likeness of sinful flesh. The bitings of the fiery serpents were cured by a serpent of brass, which had the shape, though free from the venom, of the serpents that bit them. It was great condescension that he who was God should be made in the likeness of flesh; but much greater that he who was holy should be made in the likeness of sinful flesh. And for sin, – here the best Greek copies place the comma. God sent him, en homoiōmati sarkos hamartias, kai peri hamartiasin the likeness of sinful flesh, and as a sacrifice for sin. The Septuagint call a sacrifice for sin no more than peri hamartiasfor sin; so Christ was a sacrifice; he was sent to be so, Heb 9:26. [2.] What was done by this appearance of his: Sin was condemned, that is, God did therein more than ever manifest his hatred of sin; and not only so, but for all that are Christ’s both the damning and the domineering power of sin is broken and taken out of the way. He that is condemned can neither accuse nor rule; his testimony is null, and his authority null. Thus by Christ is sin condemned; though it live and remain, its life in the saints is still but like that of a condemned malefactor. it was by the condemning of sin that death was disarmed, and the devil, who had the power of death, destroyed. The condemning of sin saved the sinner from condemnation. Christ was made sin for us (2Co 5:21), and, being so made, when he was condemned sin was condemned in the flesh of Christ, condemned in the human nature: So was sanctification made to divine justice, and way made for the salvation of the sinner. [3.] The happy effect of this upon us (Rom 8:4): That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us. Both in our justification and in our sanctification, the righteousness of the law if fulfilled. A righteousness of satisfaction for the breach of the law is fulfilled by the imputation of Christ’s complete and perfect righteousness, which answers the utmost demands of the law, as the mercy-seat was as long and as broad as the ark. A righteousness of obedience to the commands of the law is fulfilled in us, when by the Spirit the law of love is written upon the heart, and that love is the fulfilling of the law, Rom 13:10. Though the righteousness of the law is not fulfilled by us, yet, blessed be God, it is fulfilled in us; there is that to be found upon and in all true believers which answers the intention of the law. Us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. This is the description of all those that are interested in this privilege – they act from spiritual and not from carnal principles; as for others, the righteousness of the law will be fulfilled upon them in their ruin. Now,

2. Observe how we may answer to this character, Rom 8:5, etc.

(1.) By looking to our minds. How may we know whether we are after the flesh or after the Spirit? By examining what we mind, the things of the flesh or the things of the spirit. Carnal pleasure, worldly profit and honour, the things of sense and time, are the things of the flesh, which unregenerate people mind. The favour of God, the welfare of the soul, the concerns of eternity, are the things of the Spirit, which those that are after the Spirit do mind. The man is as the mind is. The mind is the forge of thoughts. As he thinketh in his heart, so is he, Pro 23:7. Which way do the thoughts move with most pleasure? On what do they dwell with most satisfaction? The mind is the seat of wisdom. Which way go the projects and contrivances? whether are we more wise for the world or for our souls? phronousi ta tēs sarkosthey savour the things of the flesh; so the word is rendered, Mat 16:23. It is a great matter what our savour is, what truths, what tidings, what comforts, we do most relish, and are most agreeable to us. Now, to caution us against this carnal-mindedness, he shows the great misery and malignity of it, and compares it with the unspeakable excellency and comfort of spiritual-mindedness. [1.] It is death, Rom 8:6. It is spiritual death, the certain way to eternal death. It is the death of the soul; for it is its alienation from God, in union and communion with whom the life of the soul consists. A carnal soul is a dead soul, dead as a soul can die. She that liveth in pleasure is dead (1Ti 5:6), not only dead in law as guilty, but dead in state as carnal. Death includes all misery; carnal souls are miserable souls. But to be spiritually minded, phronēma tou pneumatosa spiritual savour (the wisdom that is from above, a principle of grace) is life and peace; it is the felicity and happiness of the soul. The life of the soul consists in its union with spiritual things by the mind. A sanctified soul is a living soul, and that life is peace; it is a very comfortable life. All the paths of spiritual wisdom are paths of peace. It is life and peace in the other world, as well as in this. Spiritual-mindedness is eternal life and peace begun, and an assuring earnest of the perfection of it. [2.] It is enmity to God (Rom 8:7), and this is worse than the former. The former speaks the carnal sinner a dead man, which is bad; but this speaks him a devil of a man. It is not only an enemy, but enmity itself. It is not only the alienation of the soul from God, but the opposition of the soul against God; it rebels against his authority, thwarts his design, opposes his interest, spits in his face, spurns at his bowels. Can there be a greater enmity? An enemy may be reconciled, but enmity cannot. How should this humble us for and warn us against, carnal-mindedness! Shall we harbour and indulge that which is enmity to God our creator, owner, ruler, and benefactor? To prove this, he urges that it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. The holiness of the law of God, and the unholiness of the carnal mind, are as irreconcilable as light and darkness. The carnal man may, by the power of divine grace, be made subject to the law of God, but the carnal mind never can; this must be broken and expelled. See how wretchedly the corrupt will of man is enslaved to sin; as far as the carnal mind prevails, there is no inclination to the law of God; therefore wherever there is a change wrought it is by the power of God’s grace, not by the freedom of man’s will. Hence he infers (Rom 8:8), Those that are in the flesh cannot please God. Those that are in a carnal unregenerate state, under the reigning power of sin, cannot do the things that please God, wanting grace, the pleasing principle, and an interest in Christ, the pleasing Mediator. The very sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, Pro 15:8. Pleasing God is our highest end, of which those that are in the flesh cannot but fall short; they cannot please him, nay, they cannot but displease him. We may know our state and character,

(2.) By enquiring whether we have the Spirit of God and Christ, or not (Rom 8:9): You are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit. This expresses states and conditions of the soul vastly different. All the saints have flesh and spirit in them; but to be in the flesh and to be in the Spirit are contrary. It denotes our being overcome and subdued by one of these principles. As we say, A man is in love, or in drink, that is, overcome by it. Now the great question is whether we are in the flesh or in the Spirit; and how may we come to know it? Why, by enquiring whether the Spirit of God dwell in us. The Spirit dwelling in us is the best evidence of our being in the Spirit, for the indwelling is mutual (1Jo 4:16): Dwelleth in God, and God in him. The Spirit visits many that are unregenerate with his motions, which they resist and quench; but in all that are sanctified he dwells; there he resides and rules. He is there as a man at his own house, where he is constant and welcome, and has the dominion. Shall we put this question to our own hearts, Who dwells, who rules, who keeps house, here? Which interest has the ascendant? To this he subjoins a general rule of trial: If any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. To be Christ’s (that is, to be a Christian indeed, one of his children, his servants, his friends, in union with him) is a privilege and honour which many pretend to that have no part nor lot in the matter. None are his but those that have his Spirit; that is, [1.] That are spirited as he was spirited-are meek, and lowly, and humble, and peaceable, and patient, and charitable, as he was. We cannot tread in his steps unless we have his spirit; the frame and disposition of our souls must be conformable to Christ’s pattern. [2.] That are actuated and guided by the Holy Spirit of God, as a sanctifier, teacher, and comforter. Having the Spirit of Christ is the same with having the Spirit of God to dwell in us. But those two come much to one; for all that are actuated by the Spirit of God as their rule are conformable to the spirit of Christ as their pattern. Now this description of the character of those to whom belongs this first privilege of freedom from condemnation is to be applied to all the other privileges that follow.

Romans 8:10-16

In these verses the apostle represents two more excellent benefits, which belong to true believers.

I. Life. The happiness is not barely a negative happiness, not to be condemned; but it is positive, it is an advancement to a life that will be the unspeakable happiness of the man (Rom 8:10-11): If Christ be in you. Observe, If the Spirit be in us, Christ is in us. He dwells in the heart by faith, Eph 3:17. Now we are here told what becomes of the bodies and souls of those in whom Christ is.

1. We cannot say but that the body is dead; it is a frail, mortal, dying body, and it will be dead shortly; it is a house of clay, whose foundation is in the dust. The life purchased and promised does not immortalize the body in its present state. It is dead, that is, it is appointed to die, it is under a sentence of death: as we say one that is condemned is a dead man. In the midst of life we are in death: be our bodies ever so strong, and healthful, and handsome, they are as good as dead (Heb 11:12), and this because of sin. It is sin that kills the body. This effect the first threatening has (Gen 3:19): Dust thou art. Methinks, were there no other argument, love to our bodies should make us hate sin, because it is such an enemy to our bodies. The death even of the bodies of the saints is a remaining token of God’s displeasure against sin.

2. But the spirit, the precious soul, that is life; it is now spiritually alive, nay, it is life. Grace in the soul is its new nature; the life of the saint lies in the soul, while the life of the sinner goes no further than the body. When the body dies, and returns to the dust, the spirit if life; not only living and immortal, but swallowed up of life. Death to the saints is but the freeing of the heaven-born spirit from the clog and load of this body, that it may be fit to partake of eternal life. When Abraham was dead, yet God was the God of Abraham, for even then his spirit was life, Mat 22:31-32. See Psa 49:15. And this because of righteousness. The righteousness of Christ imputed to them secures the soul, the better part, from death; the righteousness of Christ inherent in them, the renewed image of God upon the soul, preserves it, and, by God’s ordination, at death elevates it, and improves it, and makes it meet to partake of the inheritance of the saints in light. The eternal life of the soul consists in the vision and fruition of God, and both assimilating, for which the soul is qualified by the righteousness of sanctification. I refer to Psa 17:15, I will behold thy face in righteousness.

3. There is a life reserved too for the poor body at last: He shall also quicken your mortal bodies, Rom 8:11. The Lord is for the body; and though at death it is cast aside as a despised broken vessel, a vessel in which is no pleasure, yet God will have a desire to the work of his hands (Job 14:15), will remember his covenant with the dust, and will not lose a grain of it; but the body shall be reunited to the soul, and clothed with a glory agreeable to it. Vile bodies shall be newly fashioned, Phi 3:21; 1Co 15:42. Two great assurances of the resurrection of the body are mentioned: – (1.) The resurrection of Christ: He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken. Christ rose as the head, and first-fruits, and forerunner of all the saints, 1Co 15:20. The body of Christ lay in the grave, under the sin of all the elect imputed, and broke through it. O grave, then, where is thy victory? It is in the virtue of Christ’s resurrection that we shall rise. (2.) The indwelling of the Spirit. The same Spirit that raiseth the soul now will raise the body shortly: By his Spirit that dwelleth in you. The bodies of the saints are the temples of the Holy Ghost, 1Co 3:16; 1Co 6:19. Now, though these temples may be suffered for a while to lie in ruins, yet they shall be rebuilt. The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, shall be repaired, whatever great mountains may be in the way. The Spirit, breathing upon dead and dry bones, will make them live, and the saints even in their flesh shall see God. Hence the apostle by the way infers how much it is our duty to walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, Rom 8:12-13. Let not our life be after the wills and motions of the flesh. Two motives he mentions here: – [1.] We are not debtors to the flesh, neither by relation, gratitude, nor any other bond or obligation. We owe no suit nor service to our carnal desires; we are indeed bound to clothe, and feed, and take care of the body, as a servant to the soul in the service of God, but no further. We are not debtors to it; the flesh never did us so much kindness as to oblige us to serve it. It is implied that we are debtors to Christ and to the Spirit: there we owe our all, all we have and all we can do, by a thousand bonds and obligations. Being delivered from so great a death by so great a ransom, we are deeply indebted to our deliverer. See 1Co 6:19-20. [2.] Consider the consequences, what will be at the end of the way. Here are life and death, blessing and cursing, set before us. If you live after the flesh, you shall die; that is, die eternally. It is the pleasing, and serving, and gratifying, of the flesh, that are the ruin of souls; that is, the second death. Dying indeed is the soul’s dying: the death of the saints is but a sleep. But, on the other hand, You shall live, live and be happy to eternity; that is the true life: If you through the Spirit mortify the deeds of the body, subdue and keep under all fleshly lusts and affections, deny yourselves in the pleasing and humouring of the body, and this through the Spirit; we cannot do it without the Spirit working it in us, and the Spirit will not do it without our doing our endeavour. So that in a word we are put upon this dilemma, either to displease the body or destroy the soul.

II. The Spirit of adoption is another privilege belonging to those that are in Christ Jesus, Rom 8:14-16.

1. All that are Christ’s are taken into the relation of Children to God, Rom 8:14. Observe, (1.) Their property: They are led by the Spirit of God, as a scholar in his learning is led by his tutor, as a traveller in his journey is led by his guide, as a soldier in his engagements is led by his captain; not driven as beasts, but led as rational creatures, drawn with the cords of a man and the bands of love. It is the undoubted character of all true believers that they are led by the Spirit of God. Having submitted themselves in believing to his guidance, they do in their obedience follow that guidance, and are sweetly led into all truth and all duty. (2.) Their privilege: They are the sons of God, received into the number of God’s children by adoption, owned and loved by him as his children.

2. And those that are the sons of God have the Spirit,

(1.) To work in them the disposition of children.

[1.] You have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, Rom 8:15. Understand it, First, Of that spirit of bondage which the Old Testament church was under, by reason of the darkness and terror of that dispensation. The veil signified bondage, 2Co 3:15. Compare Rom 8:17. The Spirit of adoption was not then so plentifully poured out as now; for the law opened the wound, but little of the remedy. Now you are not under that dispensation, you have not received that spirit. Secondly, Of that spirit of bondage which many of the saints themselves were under at their conversion, under the convictions of sin and wrath set home by the Spirit; as those in Act 2:37, the jailer (Act 16:30), Paul, Act 9:6. Then the Spirit himself was to the saints a spirit of bondage: “But,” says the apostle, “with you this is over.” “God as a Judge,” says Dr. Manton, “by the spirit of bondage, sends us to Christ as Mediator, and Christ as Mediator, by the spirit of adoption, sends us back again to God as a Father.” Though a child of God may come under fear of bondage again, and may be questioning his sonship, yet the blessed Spirit is not again a spirit of bondage, for then he would witness an untruth.

[2.] But you have received the Spirit of adoption. Men may give a charter of adoption; but it is God’s prerogative, when he adopts, to give a spirit of adoption – the nature of children. The Spirit of adoption works in the children of God a filial love to God as a Father, a delight in him, and a dependence upon him, as a Father. A sanctified soul bears the image of God, as the child bears the image of the father. Whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Praying is here called crying, which is not only an earnest, but a natural expression of desire; children that cannot speak vent their desires by crying. Now, the Spirit teaches us in prayer to come to God as a Father, with a holy humble confidence, emboldening the soul in that duty. Abba, Father. Abba is a Syriac word signifying father or my father; patēr, a Greek work; and why both, Abba, Father? Because Christ said so in prayer (Mar 14:36), Abba, Father: and we have received the Spirit of the Son. It denotes an affectionate endearing importunity, and a believing stress laid upon the relation. Little children, begging of their parents, can say little but Father, Father, and that is rhetoric enough. It also denotes that the adoption is common both to Jews and Gentiles: the Jews call him Abba in their language, the Greeks may call him patēr in their language; for in Christ Jesus there is neither Greek nor Jew.

(2.) To witness to the relation of children, Rom 8:16. The former is the work of the Spirit as a Sanctifier; this as a Comforter. Beareth witness with our spirit. Many a man has the witness of his own spirit to the goodness of his state who has not the concurring testimony of the Spirit. Many speak peace to themselves to whom the God of heaven does not speak peace. But those that are sanctified have God’s Spirit witnessing with their spirits, which is to be understood not of any immediate extraordinary revelation, but an ordinary work of the Spirit, in and by the means of comfort, speaking peace to the soul. This testimony is always agreeable to the written word, and is therefore always grounded upon sanctification; for the Spirit in the heart cannot contradict the Spirit in the word. The Spirit witnesses to none the privileges of children who have not the nature and disposition of children.

Romans 8:17-25

In these words the apostle describes a fourth illustrious branch of the happiness of believers, namely, a title to the future glory. This is fitly annexed to our sonship; for as the adoption of sons entitles us to that glory, so the disposition of sons fits and prepares us for it. If children, then heirs, Rom 8:17. In earthly inheritances this rule does not hold, only the first-born are heirs; but the church is a church of first-born, for they are all heirs. Heaven is an inheritance that all the saints are heirs to. They do not come to it as purchasers by any merit or procurement of their own; but as heirs, purely by the act of God; for God makes heirs. The saints are heirs though in this world they are heirs under age; see Gal 4:1-2. Their present state is a state of education and preparation for the inheritance. How comfortable should this be to all the children of God, how little soever they have in possession, that, being heirs, they have enough in reversion! But the honour and happiness of an heir lie in the value and worth of that which he is heir to: we read of those that inherit the wind; and therefore we have here an abstract of the premises. 1. Heirs of God. The Lord himself is the portion of the saints’ inheritance (Psa 16:5), a goodly heritage, Psa 16:6. The saints are spiritual priests, that have the Lord for their inheritance, Num 18:20. The vision of God and the fruition of God make up the inheritance the saints are heirs to. God himself will be with them, and will be their God, Rev 21:3. 2. Joint-heirs with Christ. Christ, as Mediator, is said to be the heir of all things (Heb 1:2), and true believers, by virtue of their union with him, shall inherit all things, Rev_21:7. Those that now partake of the Spirit of Christ, as his brethren, shall, as his brethren, partake of his glory (Joh 17:24), shall sit down with him upon his throne, Rev 3:21. Lord, what is man, that thou shouldst thus magnify him! Now this future glory is further spoken of as the reward of present sufferings and as the accomplishment of present hopes.

I. As the reward of the saints’ present sufferings; and it is a rich reward: If so be that we suffer with him (Rom 8:17), or forasmuch as we suffer with him. The state of the church in this world always is, but was then especially, an afflicted state; to be a Christian was certainly to be a sufferer. Now, to comfort them in reference to those sufferings, he tells them that they suffered with Christ – for his sake, for his honour, and for the testimony of a good conscience, and should be glorified with him. Those that suffered with David in his persecuted state were advanced by him and with him when he came to the crown; see 2Ti 2:12. See the gains of suffering for Christ; though we may be losers for him, we shall not, we cannot, be losers by him in the end. This the gospel is filled with the assurances of. Now, that suffering saints may have strong supports and consolations from their hopes of heaven, he holds the balance (Rom 8:18), in a comparison between the two, which is observable. 1. In one scale he puts the sufferings of this present time. The sufferings of the saints are but sufferings of this present time, strike no deeper than the things of time, last no longer than the present time (2Co 4:17), light affliction, and but for a moment. So that on the sufferings he writes tekel, weighed in the balance and found light. 2. In the other scale he puts the glory, and finds that a weight, an exceeding and eternal weight: Glory that shall be revealed. In our present state we come short, not only in the enjoyment, but in the knowledge of that glory (1Co 2:9; 1Jo 3:2): it shall be revealed. It surpasses all that we have yet seen and known: present vouchsafements are sweet and precious, very precious, very sweet; but there is something to come, something behind the curtain, that will outshine all. Shall be revealed in us; not only revealed to us, to be seen, but revealed in us, to be enjoyed. The kingdom of God is within you, and will be so to eternity. 3. He concludes the sufferings not worthy to be compared with the gloryouk axia pros tēn doxan. They cannot merit that glory; and, if suffering for Christ will not merit, much less will doing. They should not at all deter and frighten us from the diligent and earnest pursuit of that glory. The sufferings are small and short, and concern the body only; but the glory is rich and great, and concerns the soul, and is eternal. This he reckons. I reckonlogizomai. It is not a rash and sudden determination, but the product of a very serious and deliberate consideration. he had reasoned the case within himself, weighed the arguments on both sides, and thus at last resolves the point. O how vastly different is the sentence of the word from the sentiment of the world concerning the sufferings of this present time! I reckon, as an arithmetician that is balancing an account. He first sums up what is disbursed for Christ in the sufferings of this present time, and finds they come to very little; he then sums up what is secured to us by Christ in the glory that shall be revealed, and this he finds to be an infinite sum, transcending all conception, the disbursement abundantly made up and the losses infinitely countervailed. And who would be afraid then to suffer for Christ, who as he is before-hand with us in suffering, so he will not be behind-hand with us in recompence? Now Paul was as competent a judge of this point as ever any mere man was. He could reckon not by art only, but by experience; for he knew both. He knew what the sufferings of this present time were; see 2Co 11:23-28. He knew what the glory of heaven is; see 2Co 12:3-4. And, upon the view of both, he gives this judgment here. There is nothing like a believing view of the glory which shall be revealed to support and bear up the spirit under all the sufferings of this present time. The reproach of Christ appears riches to those who have respect to the recompence of reward, Heb 11:26.

II. As the accomplishment of the saints’ present hopes and expectations, Rom 8:19, etc. As the saints are suffering for it, so they are waiting for it. Heaven is therefore sure; for God by his Spirit would not raise and encourage those hopes only to defeat and disappoint them. He will establish that word unto his servants on which he has caused them to hope (Psa 119:49), and heaven is therefore sweet; for, if hope deferred makes the heart sick, surely when the desire comes it will be a tree of life, Pro 13:12. Now he observes an expectation of this glory,

1. In the creatures Rom 8:19-22. That must needs be a great, a transcendent glory, which all the creatures are so earnestly expecting and longing for. This observation in these verses has some difficulty in it, which puzzles interpreters a little; and the more because it is a remark not made in any other scripture, with which it might be compared. By the creature here we understand, not as some do the Gentile world, and their expectation of Christ and the gospel, which is an exposition very foreign and forced, but the whole frame of nature, especially that of this lower world – the whole creation, the compages of inanimate and sensible creatures, which, because of their harmony and mutual dependence, and because they all constitute and make up one world, are spoken of in the singular number as the creature. The sense of the apostle in these four verses we may take in the following observations: – (1.) That there is a present vanity to which the creature, by reason of the sin of man, is made subject, Rom 8:20. When man sinned, the ground was cursed for man’s sake, and with it all the creatures (especially of this lower world, where our acquaintance lies) became subject to that curse, became mutable and mortal. Under the bondage of corruption, Rom 8:21. There is an impurity, deformity, and infirmity, which the creature has contracted by the fall of man: the creation is sullied and stained, much of the beauty of the world gone. There is an enmity of one creature to another; they are all subject to continual alteration and decay of the individuals, liable to the strokes of God’s judgments upon man. When the world was drowned, and almost all the creatures in it, surely then it was subject to vanity indeed. The whole species of creatures is designed for, and is hastening to, a total dissolution by fire. And it is not the least part of their vanity and bondage that they are used, or abused rather, by men as instruments of sin. The creatures are often abused to the dishonour of their Creator, the hurt of his children, or the service of his enemies. When the creatures are made the food and fuel of our lusts, they are subject to vanity, they are captivated by the law of sin. And this not willingly, not of their own choice. All the creatures desire their own perfection and consummation; when they are made instruments of sin it is not willingly. Or, They are thus captivated, not for any sin of their own, which they had committed, but for man’s sin: By reason of him who hath subjected the same. Adam did it meritoriously; the creatures being delivered to him, when he by sin delivered himself he delivered them likewise into the bondage of corruption. God did it judicially; he passed a sentence upon the creatures for the sin of man, by which they became subject. And this yoke (poor creatures) they bear in hope that it will not be so always. Ep’ elpidi hoti kai, etc. – in hope that the creature itself; so many Greek copies join the words. We have reason to pity the poor creatures that for our sin have become subject to vanity. (2.) That the creatures groan and travail in pain together under this vanity and corruption, Rom 8:22. It is a figurative expression. Sin is a burden to the whole creation; the sin of the Jews, in crucifying Christ, set the earth a quaking under them. The idols were a burden to the weary beast, Isa 46:1. There is a general outcry of the whole creation against the sin of man: the stone crieth out of the wall (Hab 2:11), the land cries, Job 31:38. (3.) That the creature, that is now thus burdened, shall, at the time of the restitution of all things, be delivered from this bondage into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom 8:21) – they shall no more be subject to vanity and corruption, and the other fruits of the curse; but, on the contrary, this lower world shall be renewed: when there will be new heavens there will be a new earth (2Pe 3:13; Rev 21:1); and there shall be a glory conferred upon all the creatures, which shall be (in the proportion of their natures) as suitable and as great an advancement as the glory of the children of God shall be to them. The fire at the last day shall be a refining, not a destroying annihilating fire. What becomes of the souls of brutes, that go downwards, none can tell. But it should seem by the scripture that there will be some kind of restoration of them. And if it be objected, What use will they be of to glorified saints? we may suppose them of as much use as they were to Adam in innocency; and if it be only to illustrate the wisdom, power, and goodness of their Creator, that is enough. Compare with this Psa 96:10-13; Psa 98:7-9. Let the heavens rejoice before the Lord, for he cometh. (4.) That the creature doth therefore earnestly expect and wait for the manifestation of the children of God, Rom 8:19. Observe, At the second coming of Christ there will be a manifestation of the children of God. Now the saints are God’s hidden ones, the wheat seems lost in a heap of chaff; but then they shall be manifested. It does not yet appear what we shall be (1Jo 3:2), but then the glory shall be revealed. The children of God shall appear in their own colours. And this redemption of the creature is reserved till then; for, as it was with man and for man that they fell under the curse, so with man and for man they shall be delivered. All the curse and filth that now adhere to the creature shall be done away then when those that have suffered with Christ upon earth shall reign with him upon the earth. This the whole creation looks and longs for; and it may serve as a reason why now a good man should be merciful to his beast.

2. In the saints, who are new creatures, Rom 8:23-25. Observe, (1.) The grounds of this expectation in the saints. It is our having received the first-fruits of the Spirit, which both quickens our desires and encourages our hopes, and both ways raises our expectations. The first-fruits did both sanctify and ensure the lump. Grace is the first-fruits of glory, it is glory begun. We, having received such clusters in this wilderness, cannot but long for the full vintage in the heavenly Canaan. Not only they – not only the creatures which are not capable of such a happiness as the first-fruits of the Spirit, but even we, who have such present rich receivings, cannot but long for something more and greater. In having the first-fruits of the Spirit we have that which is very precious, but we have not all we would have. We groan within ourselves, which denotes the strength and secrecy of these desires; not making a loud noise, as the hypocrites howling upon the bed for corn and wine, but with silent groans, which pierce heaven soonest of all. Or, We groan among ourselves. It is the unanimous vote, the joint desire, of the whole church, all agree in this: Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. The groaning denotes a very earnest and importunate desire, the soul pained with the delay. Present receivings and comforts are consistent with a great many groans; not as the pangs of one dying, but as the throes of a woman in travail – groans that are symptoms of life, not of death. (2.) The object of this expectation. What is it we are thus desiring and waiting for? What would we have? The adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. Though the soul be the principal part of the man, yet the Lord has declared himself for the body also, and has provided a great deal of honour and happiness for the body. The resurrection is here called the redemption of the body. It shall then be rescued from the power of death and the grave, and the bondage of corruption; and, though a vile body, yet it shall be refined and beautified, and made like that glorious body of Christ, Phi 3:21; 1Co 15:42. This is called the adoption. [1.] It is the adoption manifested before all the world, angels and men. Now are we the sons of God, but it does not yet appear, the honour is now clouded; but then God will publicly own all his children. The deed of adoption, which is now written, signed, and sealed, will then be recognized, proclaimed, and published. As Christ was, so the saints will be, declared to be the sons of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead, Rom 1:4. It will then be put past dispute. [2.] It is the adoption perfected and completed. The children of God have bodies as well as souls; and, till those bodies are brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God, the adoption is not perfect. But then it will be complete, when the Captain of our salvation shall bring the many sons to glory, Heb 2:10. This is that which we expect, in hope of which our flesh rests, Psa 16:9-10. All the days of our appointed time we are waiting, till this change shall come, when he shall call, and we shall answer, and he will have a desire to the work of his hands, Job 14:14-15. (3.) The agreeableness of this to our present state, Rom 8:24-25. Our happiness is not in present possession: We are saved by hope. In this, as in other things, God hath made our present state a state of trial and probation – that our reward is out of sight. Those that will deal with God must deal upon trust. It is acknowledged that one of the principal graces of a Christian is hope (1Co 13:13), which necessarily implies a good thing to come, which is the object of that hope. Faith respects the promise, hope the thing promised. Faith is the evidence, hope the expectation, of things not seen. Faith is the mother of hope. We do with patience wait. In hoping for this glory we have need of patience, to bear the sufferings we meet with in the way to it and the delays of it. Our way is rough and long; but he that shall come will come, and will not tarry; and therefore, though he seem to tarry, it becomes us to wait for him.

Romans 8:26-28

The apostle here suggests two privileges more to which true Christians are entitled: –

I. The help of the Spirit in prayer. While we are in this world, hoping and waiting for what we see not, we must be praying. Hope supposes desire, and that desire offered up to God is prayer; we groan. Now observe,

1. Our weakness in prayer: We know not what we should pray for as we ought. (1.) As to the matter of our requests, we know not what to ask. We are not competent judges of our own condition. Who knows what is good for a man in this life? Ecc 6:12. We are short-sighted, and very much biassed in favour of the flesh, and apt to separate the end from the way. You know not what you ask, Mat 20:22. We are like foolish children, that are ready to cry for fruit before it is ripe and fit for them; see Luk 9:54-55. (2.) As to the manner, we know not how to pray as we ought. It is not enough that we do that which is good, but we must do it well, seek in a due order; and here we are often at a loss – graces are weak, affections cold, thoughts wandering, and it is not always easy to find the heart to pray, 2Sa 7:27. The apostle speaks of this in the first person: We know not. He puts himself among the rest. Folly, and weakness, and distraction in prayer, are what all the saints are complaining of. If so great a saint as Paul knew not what to pray for, what little reason have we to go forth about that duty in our own strength!

2. The assistances which the Spirit gives us in that duty. He helps our infirmities, meant especially of our praying infirmities, which most easily beset us in that duty, against which the Spirit helps. The Spirit in the world helps; many rules and promises there are in the word for our help. The Spirit in the heart helps, dwelling in us, working in us, as a Spirit of grace and supplication, especially with respect to the infirmities we are under when we are in a suffering state, when our faith is most apt to fail; for this end the Holy Ghost was poured out. Helpeth, sumantilambanetaiheaves with us, over against us, helps as we help one that would lift up a burden, by lifting over against him at the other end – helps with us, that is, with us doing our endeavour, putting forth the strength we have. We must not sit still, and expect that the Spirit should do all; when the Spirit goes before us we must bestir ourselves. We cannot without God, and he will not without us. What help? Why, the Spirit itself makes intercession for us, dictates our requests, indites our petitions, draws up our plea for us. Christ intercedes for us in heaven, the Spirit intercedes for us in our hearts; so graciously has God provided for the encouragement of the praying remnant. The Spirit, as an enlightening Spirit, teaches us what to pray for, as a sanctifying Spirit works and excites praying graces, as a comforting Spirit silences our fears, and helps us over all our discouragements. The Holy Spirit is the spring of all our desires and breathings towards God. Now this intercession which the Spirit makes is, (1.) With groanings that cannot be uttered. The strength and fervency of those desires which the Holy Spirit works are hereby intimated. There may be praying in the Spirit where there is not a word spoken; as Moses prayed (Exo 14:15), and Hannah, 1Sa 1:13. It is not the rhetoric and eloquence, but the faith and fervency, of our prayers, that the Spirit works, as an intercessor, in us. Cannot be uttered; they are so confused, the soul is in such a hurry with temptations and troubles, we know not what to say, nor how to express ourselves. Here is the Spirit interceding with groans that cannot be uttered. When we can but cry, Abba, Father, and refer ourselves to him with a holy humble boldness, this is the work of the Spirit. (2.) According to the will of God, Rom 8:27. The Spirit in the heart never contradicts the Spirit in the word. Those desires that are contrary to the will of God do not come from the Spirit. The Spirit interceding in us evermore melts our wills into the will of God. Not as I will, but as thou wilt.

3. The sure success of these intercessions: He that searches the heart knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, Rom 8:27. To a hypocrite, all whose religion lies in his tongue, nothing is more dreadful than that God searches the heart and sees through all his disguises. To a sincere Christian, who makes heart-work of his duty, nothing is more comfortable than that God searches the heart, for then he will hear and answer those desires which we want words to express. He knows what we have need of before we ask, Mat 6:8. He knows what is the mind of his own Spirit in us. And, as he always hears the Son interceding for us, so he always hears the Spirit interceding in us, because his intercession is according to the will of God. What could have been done more for the comfort of the Lord’s people, in all their addresses to God? Christ had said, “Whatever you ask the Father according to his will he will give it you.” But how shall we learn to ask according to his will? Why, the Spirit will teach us that. Therefore it is that the seed of Jacob never seek in vain.

II. The concurrence of all providences for the good of those that are Christ’s, Rom 8:28. It might be objected that, notwithstanding all these privileges, we see believers compassed about with manifold afflictions; though the Spirit makes intercession for them, yet their troubles are continued. It is very true; but in this the Spirit’s intercession is always effectual, that, however it goes with them, all this is working together for their good. Observe here.

1. The character of the saints, who are interested in this privilege; they are here described by such properties as are common to all that are truly sanctified. (1.) They love God. This includes all the out-goings of the soul’s affections towards God as the chief good and highest end. It is our love to God that makes every providence sweet, and therefore profitable. Those that love God make the best of all he does, and take all in good part. (2.) They are the called according to his purpose, effectually called according to the eternal purpose. The call is effectual, not according to any merit or desert of ours, but according to God’s own gracious purpose.

2. The privilege of the saints, that all things work together for good to them, that is, all the providences of God that concern them. All that God performs he performs for them, Psa 57:2. Their sins are not of his performing, therefore not intended here, though his permitting sin is made to work for their good, 2Ch 32:31. But all the providences of God are theirs – merciful providences, afflicting providences, personal, public. They are all for good; perhaps for temporal good, as Joseph’s troubles; at least, for spiritual and eternal good. That is good for them which does their souls good. Either directly or indirectly, every providence has a tendency to the spiritual good of those that love God, breaking them off from sin, bringing them nearer to God, weaning them from the world, fitting them for heaven. Work together. They work, as physic works upon the body, various ways, according to the intention of the physician; but all for the patient’s good. They work together, as several ingredients in a medicine concur to answer the intention. God hath set the one over against the other (Ecc 7:14): sunergei, a very singular, with a noun plural, denoting the harmony of Providence and its uniform designs, all the wheels as one wheel, Eze 10:13. He worketh all things together for good; so some read it. It is not from any specific quality in the providences themselves, but from the power and grace of God working in, with, and by, these providences. All this we know – know it for a certainty, from the word of God, from our own experience, and from the experience of all the saints.

Romans 8:29-30

The apostle, having reckoned up so many ingredients of the happiness of true believers, comes here to represent the ground of them all, which he lays in predestination. These precious privileges are conveyed to us by the charter of the covenant, but they are founded in the counsel of God, which infallibly secures the event. That Jesus Christ, the purchaser, might not labour in vain, nor spend his strength and life for nought and in vain, there is a remnant given him, a seed that he shall see, so that the good pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands. For the explication of this he here sets before us the order of the causes of our salvation, a golden chain, which cannot be broken. There are four links of it: –

I. Whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son. All that God designed for glory and happiness as the end he decreed to grace and holiness as the way. Not, whom he did foreknow to be holy those he predestinated to be so. The counsels and decrees of God do not truckle to the frail and fickle will of men; no, God’s foreknowledge of the saints is the same with that everlasting love wherewith he is said to have loved them, Jer 31:3. God’s knowing his people is the same with his owning them, Psa 1:6; Joh 10:14; 2Ti 2:19. See Rom 11:2. Words of knowledge often in scripture denote affection; so here: Elect according to the foreknowledge of God, 1Pe 1:2. And the same word is rendered fore-ordained, 1Pe 1:20. Whom he did foreknow, that is, whom he designed for his friends and favourites. I know thee by name, said God to Moses, Exo 33:12. Now those whom god thus foreknew he did predestinate to be conformed to Christ. 1. Holiness consists in our conformity to the image of Christ. This takes in the whole of sanctification, of which Christ is the great pattern and sampler. To be spirited as Christ was, to walk and live as Christ did, to bear our sufferings patiently as Christ did. Christ is the express image of his Father, and the saints are conformed to the image of Christ. Thus it is by the mediation and interposal of Christ that we have God’s love restored to us and God’s likeness renewed upon us, in which two things consists the happiness of man. 2. All that God hath from eternity foreknown with favour he hath predestinated to this conformity. It is not we that can conform ourselves to Christ. Our giving ourselves to Christ takes rise in God’s giving us to him; and, in giving us to him, he predestinated us to be conformable to his image. It is a mere cavil therefore to call the doctrine of election a licentious doctrine, and to argue that it gives encouragement to sin, as if the end were separated from the way and happiness from holiness. None can know their election but by their conformity to the image of Christ; for all that are chosen are chosen to sanctification (2Th 2:13), and surely it cannot be a temptation to any to be conformed to the world to believe that they were predestinated to be conformed to Christ. 3. That which is herein chiefly designed is the honour of Jesus Christ, that he might be the first-born among many brethren; that is, that Christ might have the honour of being the great pattern, as well as the great prince, and in this, as in other things, might have pre-eminence. It was in the first-born that all the children were dedicated to God under the law. The first-born was the head of the family, on whom all the rest did depend: now in the family of the saints Christ must have the honour of being the first-born. And blessed be God that there are many brethren; though they seem but a few in one place at one time, yet, when they come all together, they will be a great many. There is, therefore, a certain number predestinated, that the end of Christ’s undertaking might be infallibly secured. Had the event been left at uncertainties in the divine counsels, to depend upon the contingent turn of man’s will, Christ might have been the first-born among but few or no brethren – a captain without soldiers and a prince without subjects – to prevent which, and to secure to him many brethren, the decree is absolute, the thing ascertained, that he might be sure to see his seed, there is a remnant predestinated to be conformed to his image, which decree will certainly have its accomplishment in the holiness and happiness of that chosen race; and so, in spite of all the opposition of the powers of darkness, Christ will be the first-born among many, very many brethren.

II. Whom he did predestinate those he also called, not only with the external call (so many are called that were not chosen, Mat 20:16; Mat 22:14), but with the internal and effectual call. The former comes to the ear only, but this to the heart. All that God did from eternity predestinate to grace and glory he does, in the fulness of time, effectually call. The call is then effectual when we come at the call; and we then come at the call when the Spirit draws us, convinces the conscience of guilt and wrath, enlightens the understanding, bows the will, persuades and enables us to embrace Christ in the promises, makes us willing in the day of his power. It is an effectual call from self and earth to God, and Christ, and heaven, as our end – from sin and vanity to grace, and holiness, and seriousness as our way. This is the gospel call. Them he called, that the purpose of God, according to election, might stand: we are called to that to which we were chosen. So that the only way to make our election sure is to make sure our calling, 2Pe 1:10.

III. Whom he called those he also justified. All that are effectually called are justified, absolved from guilt, and accepted as righteous through Jesus Christ. They are recti in curia – right in court; no sin that ever they have been guilty of shall come against them, to condemn them. The book is crossed, the bond cancelled, the judgment vacated, the attainder reversed; and they are no longer dealt with as criminals, but owned and loved as friends and favourites. Blessed is the man whose iniquity is thus forgiven. None are thus justified but those that are effectually called. Those that stand it out against the gospel call abide under guilt and wrath.

IV. Whom he justified those he also glorified. The power of corruption being broken in effectual calling, and the guilt of sin removed in justification, all that which hinders is taken out of the way, and nothing can come between that soul and glory. Observe, It is spoken of as a thing done: He glorified, because of the certainty of it; he hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling. In the eternal glorification of all the elect, God’s design of love has its full accomplishment. This was what he aimed at all along – to bring them to heaven. Nothing less than that glory would make up the fulness of his covenant relation to them as God; and therefore, in all he does for them, and in them, he has this in his eye. Are they chosen? It is to salvation. Called? It is to his kingdom and glory. Begotten again? It is to an inheritance incorruptible. Afflicted: It is to work for them this exceeding and eternal weight of glory. Observe, The author of all these is the same. It is God himself that predestinated, calleth, justifieth, glorifieth; so the Lord alone did lead him, and there was no strange God with him. Created wills are so very fickle, and created powers so very feeble, that, if any of these did depend upon the creature, the whole would shake. But God himself hath undertaken the doing of it from first to last, that we might abide in a constant dependence upon him and subjection to him, and ascribe all the praise to him – that every crown may be cast before the throne. This is a mighty encouragement to our faith and hope; for, as for God, his way, his work, is perfect. He that hath laid the foundation will build upon it, and the top-stone will at length be brought forth with shoutings, and it will be our eternal work to cry, Grace, grace to it.

Romans 8:31-39

The apostle closes this excellent discourse upon the privileges of believers with a holy triumph, in the name of all the saints. Having largely set forth the mystery of God’s love to us in Christ, and the exceedingly great and precious privileges we enjoy by him, he concludes like an orator: What shall we then say to these things? What use shall we make of all that has been said? He speaks as one amazed and swallowed up with the contemplation and admiration of it, wondering at the height and depth, and length and breadth, of the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge. The more we know of other things the less we wonder at them; but the further we are led into an acquaintance with gospel mysteries the more we are affected with the admiration of them. If Paul was at a loss what to say to these things, no marvel if we be. And what does he say? Why, if ever Paul rode in a triumphant chariot on this side of heaven, here it was: with such a holy height and bravery of spirit, with such a fluency and copiousness of expression, does he here comfort himself and all the people of God, upon the consideration of these privileges. In general, he here makes a challenge, throws down the gauntlet, as it were, dares all the enemies of the saints to do their worst: If God be for us, who can be against us? The ground of the challenge is God’s being for us; in this he sums up all our privileges. This includes all, that God is for us; not only reconciled to us, and so not against us, but in covenant with us, and so engaged for us – all his attributes for us, his promises for us. All that he is, and has, and does, is for his people. He performs all things for them. He is for them, even when he seems to act against them. And, if so, who can be against us, so as to prevail against us, so as to hinder our happiness? Be they ever so great and strong, ever so many, ever so might, ever so malicious, what can they do? While God is for us, and we keep in his love, we may with a holy boldness defy all the powers of darkness. Let Satan do his worst, he is chained; let the world do its worst, it is conquered: principalities and powers are spoiled and disarmed, and triumphed over, in the cross of Christ. Who then dares fight against us, while God himself is fighting for us? And this we say to these things, this is the inference we draw from these premises. More particularly.

I. We have supplies ready in all our wants (Rom 8:32): He that spared, etc. Who can be against us, to strip us, to deprive us of our comforts? Who can cut off our streams, while we have a fountain to go to? 1. Observe what God has done for us, on which our hopes are built: He spared not his own Son. When he was to undertake our salvation, the Father was willing to part with him, did not think him too precious a gift to bestow for the salvation of poor souls; now we may know that he loves us, in that he hath not withheld his Son, his own Son, his only Son, from us, as he said of Abraham, Gen 22:12. If nothing less will save man, rather than man shall perish let him go, though it were out of his bosom. Thus did he deliver him up for us all, that is, for all the elect; for us all, not only for our good, but in our stead, as a sacrifice of atonement to be a propitiation for sin. When he had undertaken it, he did not spare him. Though he was his own Son, yet, being made sin for us, it pleased the Lord to bruise him. Ouk epheisatohe did not abate him a farthing of that great debt, but charged it home. Awake, O sword. He did not spare his own Son that served him, that he might spare us, though we have done him so much disservice. 2. What we may therefore expect he will do: He will with him freely give us all things. (1.) It is implied that he will give us Christ, for other things are bestowed with him: not only with him given for us, but with him given to us. He that put himself to so much charge to make the purchase for us surely will not hesitate at making the application to us. (2.) He will with him freely give us all things, all things that he sees to be needful and necessary for us, all good things, and more we should not desire, Psa 34:10. And Infinite Wisdom shall be the judge whether it be good for us and needful for us or no. Freely give – freely, without reluctancy; he is ready to give, meets us with his favours; – and freely, without recompence, without money, and without price. How shall he not? Can it be imagined that he should do the greater and not do the less? that he should give so great a gift for us when we were enemies, and should deny us any good thing, now that through him we are friends and children? Thus may we by faith argue against our fears of want. he that hath prepared a crown and kingdom for us will be sure to give us enough to bear our charges in the way to it. He that hath designed us for the inheritance of sons when we come to age will not let us want necessaries in the mean time.

II. We have an answer ready to all accusations and a security against all condemnations (Rom 8:33-34): Who shall lay any thing? Doth the law accuse them? Do their own consciences accuse them? Is the devil, the accuser of the brethren, accusing them before our God day and night? This is enough to answer all those accusations, It is God that justifieth. Men may justify themselves, as the Pharisees did, and yet the accusations may be in full force against them; but, if God justifies, this answers all. He is the judge, the king, the party offended, and his judgment is according to truth, and sooner or later all the world will be brought to be of his mind; so that we may challenge all our accusers to come and put in their charge. This overthrows them all; it is God, the righteous faithful God, that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? Though they cannot make good the charge yet they will be ready to condemn; but we have a plea ready to move in arrest of judgment, a plea which cannot be overruled. It is Christ that died, etc. It is by virtue of our interest in Christ, our relation to him, and our union with him, that we are thus secured. 1. His death: It is Christ that died. By the merit of his death he paid our debt; and the surety’s payment is a good plea to an action of debt. It is Christ, an able all-sufficient Saviour. 2. His resurrection: Yea, rather, that has risen again. This is a much greater encouragement, for it is a convincing evidence that divine justice was satisfied by the merit of his death. His resurrection was his acquittance, it was a legal discharge. Therefore the apostle mentions it with a yea, rather. If he had died, and not risen again, we had been where we were. 3. His sitting at the right hand of God: He is even at the right hand of God – a further evidence that he has done his work, and a mighty encouragement to us in reference to all accusations, that we have a friend, such a friend, in court. At the right hand of God, which denotes that he is ready there – always at hand; and that he is ruling there – all power is given to him. Our friend is himself the judge. 4. The intercession which he makes there. He is there, not unconcerned about us, not forgetful of us, but making intercession. He is agent for us there, an advocate for us, to answer all accusations, to put in our plea, and to prosecute it with effect, to appear for us and to present our petitions. And is not this abundant matter for comfort? What shall we say to these things? Is this the manner of men, O Lord God? What room is left for doubting and disquietment? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Some understand the accusation and condemnation here spoken of of that which the suffering saints met with from men. The primitive Christians had many black crimes laid to their charge – heresy, sedition, rebellion, and what not? For these the ruling powers condemned them: “But no matter for that” (says the apostle); “while we stand right at God’s bar it is of no great moment how we stand at men’s. To all the hard censures, the malicious calumnies, and the unjust and unrighteous sentences of men, we may with comfort oppose our justification before God through Christ Jesus as that which doth abundantly countervail,” 1Co 4:3-4.

III. We have good assurance of our preservation and continuance in this blessed state, Rom 8:35, to the end. The fears of the saints lest they should lose their hold of Christ are often very discouraging and disquieting, and create them a great deal of disturbance; but here is that which may silence their fears, and still such storms, that nothing can separate them. We have here from the apostle,

1. A daring challenge to all the enemies of the saints to separate them, if they could, from the love of Christ. Who shall? None shall, Rom 8:35-37. God having manifested his love in giving his own Son for us, and not hesitating at that, can we imagine that any thing else should divert or dissolve that love? Observe here,

(1.) The present calamities of Christ’s beloved ones supposed – that they meet with tribulation on all hands, are in distress, know not which way to look for any succour and relief in this world, are followed with persecution from an angry malicious world that always hated those whom Christ loved, pinched with famine, and starved with nakedness, when stripped of all creature-comforts, exposed to the greatest perils, the sword of the magistrate drawn against them, ready to be sheathed in their bowels, bathed in their blood. Can a case be supposed more black and dismal? It is illustrated (Rom 8:36) by a passage quoted from Psa 44:22, For thy sake we are killed all the day long, which intimates that we are not to think strange, no not concerning the fiery bloody trial. We see the Old Testament saints had the same lot; so persecuted they the prophets that were before us. Killed all the day long, that is, continually exposed to and expecting the fatal stroke. There is still every day, and all the day long, one or other of the people of God bleeding and dying under the rage of persecuting enemies. Accounted as sheep for the slaughter; they make no more of killing a Christian than of butchering a sheep. Sheep are killed, not because they are hurtful while they live, but because they are useful when they are dead. They kill the Christians to please themselves, to be food to their malice. They eat up my people as they eat bread, Psa 14:4.

(2.) The inability of all these things to separate us from the love of Christ. Shall they, can they, do it? No, by no means. All this will not cut the bond of love and friendship that is between Christ and true believers. [1.] Christ doth not, will not, love us the less for all this. All these troubles are very consistent with the strong and constant love of the Lord Jesus. They are neither a cause nor an evidence of the abatement of his love. When Paul was whipped, and beaten, and imprisoned, and stoned, did Christ love him ever the less? Were his favours intermitted? his smiles any whit suspended? his visits more shy? By no means, but the contrary. These things separate us from the love of other friends. When Paul was brought before Nero all men forsook him, but then the Lord stood by him, 2Ti 4:16-17. Whatever persecuting enemies may rob us of, they cannot rob us of the love of Christ, they cannot intercept his love-tokens, they cannot interrupt nor exclude his visits: and therefore, let them do their worst, they cannot make a true believer miserable. [2.] We do not, will not, love him the less for this; and that for this reason, because we do not think that he loves us the less. Charity thinks no evil, entertains no misgiving thoughts, makes no hard conclusions, no unkind constructions, takes all in good part that comes from love. A true Christian loves Christ never the less though he suffer for him, thinks never the worse of Christ though he lose all for him.

(3.) The triumph of believers in this (Rom 8:37): Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors.

[1.] We are conquerors: though killed all the day long, yet conquerors. A strange way of conquering, but it was Christ’s way; thus he triumphed over principalities and powers in his cross. It is a surer and a nobler way of conquest by faith and patience than by fire and sword. The enemies have sometimes confessed themselves baffled and overcome by the invincible courage and constancy of the martyrs, who thus overcame the most victorious princes by not loving their lives to the death, Rev 12:11.

[2.] We are more than conquerors. In our patiently bearing these trials we are not only conquerors, but more than conquerors, that is, triumphers. Those are more than conquerors that conquer, First, With little loss. Many conquests are dearly bought; but what do the suffering saints lose? Why, they lose that which the gold loses in the furnace, nothing but the dross. It is no great loss to lose things which are not – a body that is of the earth, earthy. Secondly, With great gain. The spoils are exceedingly rich; glory, honour, and peace, a crown of righteousness that fades not away. In this the suffering saints have triumphed; not only have not been separated from the love of Christ, but have been taken into the most sensible endearments and embraces of it. As afflictions abound, consolations much more abound, 2Co 1:5. There is one more than a conqueror, when pressed above measure. He that embraced the stake, and said, “Welcome the cross of Christ, welcome everlasting life,” – he that dated his letter from the delectable orchard of the Leonine prison, – he that said, “In these flames I feel no more pain than if I were upon a bed of down,” – she who, a little before her martyrdom, being asked how she did, said, “Well and merry, and going to heaven,” – those that have gone smiling to the stake, and stood singing in the flames – these were more than conquerors.

[3.] It is only through Christ that loved us, the merit of his death taking the sting out of all these troubles, the Spirit of his grace strengthening us, and enabling us to bear them with holy courage and constancy, and coming in with special comforts and supports. Thus we are conquerors, not in our own strength, but in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. We are conquerors by virtue of our interest in Christ’s victory. He hath overcome the world for us (Joh 16:33), both the good things and the evil things of it; so that we have nothing to do but to pursue the victory, and to divide the spoil, and so are more than conquerors.

2. A direct and positive conclusion of the whole matter: For I am persuaded, Rom 8:38-39. It denotes a full, and strong, and affectionate persuasion, arising from the experience of the strength and sweetness of the divine love. And here he enumerates all those things which might be supposed likely to separate between Christ and believers, and concludes that it could not be done. (1.) Neither death nor life – neither the terrors of death on the one hand nor the comforts and pleasures of life on the other, neither the fear of death nor the hope of life. Or, We shall not be separated from that love either in death or in life. (2.) Nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers. Both the good angels and the bad are called principalities and powers: the good, Eph 1:21; Col 1:16; the bad, Eph 6:12; Col 2:15. And neither shall do it. The good angels will not, the bad shall not; and neither can. The good angels are engaged friends, the bad are restrained enemies. (3.) Nor things present, nor things to come – neither the sense of troubles present nor the fear of troubles to come. Time shall not separate us, eternity shall not. Things present separate us from things to come, and things to come separate and cut us off from things present; but neither from the love of Christ, whose favour is twisted in with both present things and things to come. (4.) Nor height, nor depth – neither the height of prosperity and preferment, nor the depth of adversity and disgrace; nothing from heaven above, no storms, no tempests; nothing on earth below, no rocks, no seas, no dungeons. (5.) Nor any other creature – any thing that can be named or thought of. It will not, it cannot, separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. It cannot cut off or impair our love to God, or God’s to us; nothing does it, can do it, but sin. Observe, The love that exists between God and true believers is through Christ. He is the Mediator of our love: it is in and through him that God can love us and that we dare love God. This is the ground of the stedfastness of the love; therefore God rests in his love (Zep 3:17), because Jesus Christ, in whom he loves us, is the same yesterday, today, and for ever.

Mr. Hugh Kennedy, an eminent Christian of Ayr, in Scotland, when he was dying, called for a Bible; but, finding his sight gone, he said, “Turn me to the eighty of the Romans, and set my finger at these words, I am persuaded that neither death nor life,” etc. “Now,” said he, “is my finger upon them?” And, when they told him it was, without speaking any more, he said, “Now, God be with you, my children; I have breakfasted with you, and shall sup with my Lord Jesus Christ this night;” and so departed.

CH Spurgeon (1834-1892): The Warning Neglected

The Warning Neglected

BY

C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)

Copyright: Public Domain

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The Warning Neglected (Sermon No. 165 from Vol. IV)

Delivered on Sabbath Morning, November 29, 1857 at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens.

“He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning; his blood shall be upon him.”—Ezekiel 33:5.

In all worldly things, men are always enough awake to understand their own interests. There is scarce a merchant who reads the paper, who does not read it in some way or other, with a view to his own personal concerns. If he finds that by the rise or fall of the markets, he will be either a gainer or loser, that part of the day’s news will be the most important to him. In politics, in everything, in fact, that concerns temporal affairs, personal interest usually leads the van. Men will always be looking out for themselves, and personal and home interests will generally engross the major part of their thoughts. But in religion, it is otherwise. In religion men love far rather to believe abstract doctrines, and to talk of general truths, than the searching inquiries which examine their own personal interest in it. You will hear many men admire the preacher who deals in generalities, but when he comes to press home searching questions, by-and-by they are offended. If we stand and declare general facts, such as the universal sinnership of mankind, or the need of a Saviour, they will give an assent to our doctrine, and possibly they may retire greatly delighted with the discourse, because it has not affected them; but how often will our audience gnash their teeth, and go away in a rage, because, like the Pharisees with Jesus, they perceive, concerning a faithful minister, that he spoke of them. And yet, my brethren, how foolish this is. If in all other matters we like personalities—if in everything else we look to our own concerns, how much more should we do so in religion? for, surely, every man must give an account for himself, at the day of judgment. We must die alone; we must rise at the day of resurrection one by one, and each one for himself must appear before the bar of God; and each one must either have said to him, as an individual, “Come ye blessed;” or else, he must be appalled with the thundering sentence, “Depart, ye cursed.” If there were such a thing as national salvation; if it could be possible that we could be saved in the gross and in the bulk, that so, like the sheaves of corn, the few weeds that may grow with the stubble, would be gathered in for the sake of the wheat, then, indeed, it might not be so foolish for us to neglect our own personal interests; but if the sheep must, every one of them, pass under the hand of him that telleth them, if every man must stand in his own person before God, to be tried for his own acts—by everything that is rational, by everything that conscience would dictate, and self-interest would command, let us each of us look to our own selves, that we be not deceived, and that we find not ourselves, at last, miserably cast away.

Now, this morning, by God’s help, I shall labor to be personal, and whilst I pray for the rich assistance of the Divine Spirit, I will also ask one thing of each person here present—I would ask of every Christian that he would lift up a prayer to God, that the service may be blessed; and I ask of every other person that he will please to understand that I am preaching to him, and at him; and if there be anything that is personal and pertinent to his own case, I beseech him, as for life and death, to let it have its full weight with him, and not begin to think of his neighbor, to whom perhaps it may be even more pertinent, but whose business certainly does not concern him.

The text is a solemn one—”He heard the sound of the trumpet, and took not warning: his blood shall be upon him.” The first head is this—the warning was all that could be desired—”he heard the sound of the trumpet.” Secondly, the excuses for not attending to the startling warning are all of them both frivolous and wicked: and therefore, in the third place, the consequences of inattention must be terrible, because man’s blood must then be on his own head.

I. First, then, THE WARNING WAS ALL THAT COULD BE DESIRED. When in time of war an army is attacked in the night, and cut off and destroyed whilst asleep, if it were impossible for them to be aware of the attack, and if they had made all diligence in placing their sentinels, but nevertheless the foe were so wary as to destroy them, we should weep; we should attach no blame to any one, but should deeply regret, and should give to that host our fullest pity. But if, on the other hand, they had posted their sentinels, and the sentinels were wide awake, and gave to the sleepy soldiers every warning that could be desired, but nevertheless, the army were cut off, although we might for common humanity regret the loss thereof, yet at the same time we should be obliged to say, if they were foolish enough to sleep when the sentinels had warned them; if they folded their arms in presumptuous sloth, after they had sufficient and timely notice of the progress of their blood-thirsty enemy, then in their dying, we cannot pity them: their blood must rest upon their own heads. So, it is with you. If men perish under an unfaithful ministry, and have not been sufficiently warned to escape from the wrath to come, the Christian may pity them, yea, and methinks, even when they stand before the bar of God, although the fact of their not having been warned will not fully excuse them, yet it will go far to diminish their eternal miseries, which otherwise might have fallen upon their heads; for we know it is more tolerable for unwarned Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than it is for any city, or any nation that has had the Gospel proclaimed in its ears. My brethren, if on the other hand, we have been warned, if our ministers have been faithful, if they have aroused our conscience, and have constantly and earnestly called our attention to the fact of the wrath to come, if we have not attended to their message, if we have despised the voice of God, if we have turned a deaf ear to their earnest exhortation, if we perish, we shall die warned—die under the sound of the Gospel, and our damnation must be an unpitied one, for our blood must fall upon out own heads. Permit me then, to try, if I can, to enlarge upon this thought, that the warning has been, in the case of many of you, all that could have been needed.

In the first place, the warnings of the ministry have been to most of you warnings that have been heard—”He heard the sound of the trumpet.” In far off lands, the trumpet sound of warning is not heard. Alas! there are myriads of our fellow-creatures who have never been warned by God’s embassadors, who know not that wrath abideth on them, and who do not yet understand the only way and method of salvation. In your case it is very different. You have heard the Word of God preached to you. You cannot say, when you come before God, “Lord, I knew no better.” There is not a man or a woman within this place who will dare then to plead ignorance. And moreover, you have not only heard with your ears, but some of you have been obliged to hear it in your consciences. I have before me many of my hearers whom I have had the pleasure of seeing now for some years. It has not been once, or twice, but many a time, I have seen the tear guttering their cheeks when I have spoken earnestly, faithfully, and affectionately to you. I have seen your whole soul moved within you; and yet, to my sorrow, you are now what you were: your goodness has been as the early cloud, and as the morning dew that passeth away. You have heard the Gospel. You wept under it, and you loved the sound of it, and you came again, and wept again, and many marveled that you did weep, but the greatest marvel was, that after having wept so well, you wiped away your tears so easily. Oh, yes, God is my witness, there are some of you not an inch nearer heaven, but ye have sealed your own damnation doubly sure, unless ye repent: for ye have heard the Gospel, ye have despised prophesyings, ye have rejected the counsel of God against yourself; and, therefore, when you shall die, ye must die pitied by your friends, but at the same time with your blood on your own heads.

The trumpet was not only heard, but, more than that, its warning was understood. When the man, supposed in the text, heard the trumpet, he understood by it that the enemy was at hand, and yet he took not warning. Now, my brethren, in your case, the sound of the Gospel warning has been understood. A thousand faults your minister may have, but there is one fault from which he is entirely free and that is, he is free from all attempts to use fine language in the expression of his thoughts; ye are all my witnesses, that if there be a Saxon word, or a homely phrase, a sentence that is rough and market-like, that will tell you the truth, I always use that first. I can say solemnly, as in the sight of God, that I never went out of my pulpit, except with the firm belief, that whatever might have happened, I was perfectly understood. I had sought, at least, so to gather wise words, that no man might mistake my meaning; gnash his teeth he might, but he could not say, “The preacher was misty and cloudy, talking to me of metaphysics, beyond my comprehension; he has been obliged to say, “Well, I know what he meant, he spoke plainly enough to me.” Well, sirs, then if it be so, and if ye have heard warnings that ye could understand, so much the more guilty are ye, if ye are living this day in rejection of them. If I have preached to you in a style above comprehension, then on my head must be your blood, because I ought to have made you understand; but if I come down to men of low estate, and pick even vulgar phrases to suit common people, then if you understood the warning, and if ye then risked it, mark you, my hands are clean of your blood. If ye be damned, I am innocent of your damnation, for I have told you plainly, that except ye repent, ye must perish, and that except ye put your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, there is for you no hope of salvation.

Again, this trumpet sound was startling. The trumpet’s sound is ever considered to be the most startling in the world. Tis that which shall be used on the resurrection morning to startle the myriads of sleepers, and make them rise from their tombs. Ay, and ye have had a startling ministry. Ye have sat, some of you, under ministers that might have made the devil himself tremble, so earnest have they been; and they have made you tremble sometimes, so much, that you could not sleep. The hair of your head was well nigh moved to stand upright. They spake as though they never might speak again: as dying men to dying men. They spoke as if they had been in hell, and knew the vengeance of the Almighty, and anon, they spoke as if they had entered into the heart of Jesus, and read his love to sinners. They had brows of brass; they knew not how to flinch. They laid your iniquity bare before your face, and with rough language that was unmistakable, they made you feel that there was a man there who told you all things that ever you did. They so declared it, that you could not help feeling under it. You always retained a veneration for that minister, because you felt that he at least was honest with you; and you have sometimes thought that you would even go and hear him again, because there at least your soul was moved, and you were made to hear the truth. Yes, you have had a startling ministry, some of you. Then, sirs, if ye have heard the cry of fire, if ye are burned in your beds, your charred ashes shall not accuse me. If I have warned you that he that believeth not must be damned, if you are damned, your miserable souls shall not accuse me. If I have startled you sometimes from your slumbers, and made your balls and your pleasure parties uneasy, because I have sometimes warned you of these things, then sirs, if after all you put away these warnings, and you reject these counsels, you will be obliged to say, “My blood is on my own head.”

In many of your cases the warning has been very frequent. If the man heard the trumpet sound once and did not regard it, possibly we might excuse him; but how many of my audience have heard the trumpet sound of the gospel very frequently. There you are, young man. You have had many years of a pious mother’s teaching, many years of a pious minister’s exhortations. Wagon loads of sermons have been exhausted upon you. You have had many sharp providences, many terrible sicknesses. Often when the death-bell has tolled for your friend, your conscience has been aroused. To you warnings are not unusual things; they are very common. Oh! my hearers, if a man should hear the gospel but once, his blood would be upon his own head for rejecting it; but of how much sorer punishment shall you be thought worthy who have heard it many and many a time. Ah! I may well creep, when I think how many sermons you have listened to, many of you, how many times you have been cut to the heart. A hundred times every year you have gone up to the house of God, and far oftener than that, and you have just added a hundred billets to the eternal pile. A hundred times the trumpet has sounded in your ears, and a hundred times you have turned away to sin again, to despise Christ, to neglect your eternal interests, and to pursue the pleasures and the concerns of this world. Oh! how mad is this, how mad! Oh, sirs, if a man had but once poured out his heart before you concerning your eternal interests, and if he had spoken to you earnestly, and you had rejected his message, then, even then, ye had been guilty. But what shall we say to you upon whom the shafts of the Almighty have been exhausted? Oh, what shall be done unto this barren ground that hath been watered with shower after shower, and that hath been quickened with sunshine after sunshine? What shall be done unto him who being often rebuked, still hardeneth his neck? Shall he not be suddenly destroyed, and that without remedy, and shall it not then be said, “His blood lieth at his own door, his guilt is on his own head?”

And I would just have you recollect one thing more. This warning that you have had so often has come to you in time. “Ah,” said an infidel once, “God never regards man. If there be a God, he would never take notice of men.” Said a Christian minister, who was sitting opposite to him in the carriage, “The day may come, sir, when you will learn the truth of what you have just said. “I do not understand your allusion, sir,” said he. “Well, sir, the day may come, when you may call, and he will refuse; when you may stretch out your hands and he will not regard you, but as he has said in the book of Proverbs, so will he do, Because I called, and ye refused; because I stretched out my hands, and no man regarded, I also will mock at your calamity, I will laugh when your fear cometh.” But oh, sirs, your warning has not come too late. You are not warned on a sick bed, at the eleventh hour, when there is but a bare possibility of salvation, but you are warned in time, you are warned to-day, you have been warned for these many years that are now past. If God should send a preacher to the damned in hell, that were an unnecessary addition to their misery. Surely, if one could go and preach the gospel through the fields of Gehenna, and tell them of a Saviour they had despised, and of a gospel that is now beyond their reach, that were taunting poor souls with a vain attempt to increase their unutterable woe; but O my brethren, to preach the gospel now is to preach in a hopeful period; for “now is the accepted time: now is the day of salvation.” Warn the boatman before he enters the current, and then, if he is swept down the rapids, he destroys himself. Warn the man before he drinks the cup of poison, tell him it is deadly: and then, if he drinks it, his death lies at his own door. And so, let us warn you before you depart this life; let us preach to you while as yet your bones are full of marrow, and the sinews of your joints are not loosed. We have then warned you in time, and so much the more shall your guilt be increased, because the warning was timely; it was frequent, it was earnest, it was appropriate, it was arousing, it was continually given to you, and yet you sought not to escape from the wrath to come.

And so even this morning would I say to you, if ye perish, my skirts are white of your blood; if ye are damned, it is not for want of calling after, nor for want of praying for, nor for want of weeping over. Your blood must be on your own heads; for the warning is all that is needed.

II. And now we come to the second point. MEN MAKE EXCUSES WHY THEY DO NOT ATTEND TO THE GOSPEL WARNING, BUT THESE EXCUSES ARE ALL FRIVOLOUS AND WICKED. I will just go over one or two of the excuses that people make. Some of them say, “Well, I did not attend to the warning because I did not believe there was any necessity for it.” Ah! You were told that after death there was a judgment, and you did not believe there was any necessity that you should be prepared for that judgment. You were told that by the works of the law there shall no flesh living be justified, and that only through Christ can sinners be saved; and you did not think there was any necessity for Christ. Well, sir, you ought to have thought there was a necessity. You know there was a necessity in your inner consciousness. You talked very large things when you stood up as an unbeliever, a professed unbeliever: but you know there was a still small voice that while you spake belied your tongue. You are well aware that in the silent watches of the night you have often trembled; in a storm at sea you have been on your knees to pray to a God whom on the land you have laughed at; and when you have been sick nigh unto death, you have said, “Lord, have mercy upon me;” and so you have prayed, that you have believed it after all. But if you did not believe it, you ought to have believed it. There was enough in reason to have taught you that there was an hereafter; the Book of God’s revelation was plain enough to have taught it to you, and if you have rejected God’s Book, and rejected the voice of reason and of conscience, your blood is on your own head. Your excuse is idle. It is worse than that, it is profane and wicked, and still on your own head be your everlasting torment.

“But,” cries another, “I did not like the trumpet. I did not like the Gospel that was preached.” Says one, “I did not like certain doctrines in the Bible. I thought the minister preached too harsh doctrines sometimes, I did not agree with the Gospel; I thought the Gospel ought to have been altered, and not to have been just what it was.” You did not like the trumpet, did you? Well, but God made the trumpet, God made the Gospel; and inasmuch as ye did not like what God made, it is an idle excuse. What was that to you what the trumpet was, so long as it warned you? And surely, if it had been time of war, and you had heard a trumpet sounded to warn you of the coming of the enemy, you would not have sat still, and said, “now I believe that is a brass trumpet, I would like to have had it made of silver.” No, but the sound would have been enough for you, and up you would have been to escape from the danger. And so it must be now with you. It is an idle presence that you did not like it. You ought to have liked it, for God made the Gospel what it is.

But you say, “I did not like the man that blew it.” Well, if you did not like one messenger of God, there are many in this city. Could you not find one you did like? You did not like one man’s manner; it was too theatrical; you did not like another’s: it was too doctrinal; you did not like another’s: it was too practical—there are plenty of them, you may take which you do like, but if God has sent the men, and told them how to blow, and if they blow to the best of their ability, it is all in vain for you to reject their warnings, because they do not blow the way you like. Ah, my brethren, we do not find fault with the way a man speaks, if we are in a house that is on fire. If the man calls, “Fire! Fire!” we are not particular what note he takes, we do not think what a harsh voice he has got. You would think any one a fool, who should lie in his bed, to be burned, because he said he did not like the way the man cried, “Fire.” Why his business was to have been out of bed and down the stairs at once, as soon as he heard it.

But another says, “I did not like the man himself; I did not like the minister; I did not like the man that blew the trumpet; I could hear him preach very well, but I had a personal dislike to him, and so I did not take any notice of what the trumpet said.” Verily, God will say to thee at last, “Thou fool, what hadst thou to do with that man; to his own master he stands or falls; thy business was with thyself.” What would you think of a man? A man has fallen overboard from a ship, and when he is drowning, some sailor throws him a rope, and there it is. Well, he says, in the first place, “I do not like that rope; I don’t think that rope was made at the best manufactory; there is some tar on it too, I do not like it; and in the next place, I do not like that sailor that threw the rope over, I am sure he is not a kind-hearted man, I do not like the look of him at all;” and then comes a gurgle and a groan, and down he is in the bottom of the sea; and when he was drowned, they said, that it served him right, if he would not lay hold of the rope, but would be making such foolish and absurd objections, when it was a matter of life and death. Then on his own head be his blood. And so shall it be with you at last. You are so busy with criticising the minister, and his style, and his doctrine, that your own soul perishes. Remember you may get into hell by criticism, but you will never criticise your soul out of it. You may there make the most you can of it. You may be there and say, “I did not like the minister, I did not like his manner, I did not like his matter;” but all your dislikings will not get one drop of water to cool your burning tongue, nor serve to mitigate the unalleviated torments of that world of agony.

There are many other people who say, “Ah, well, I did none of those things, but I had a notion that the trumpet sound ought to be blown to everybody else, but not to me.” Ah! that is a very common notion. “All men think all men mortal, but themselves,” said a good poet; and all men think all men need the Gospel, but not themselves. Let each of us recollect that the Gospel has a message to each one of us. What saith the Gospel to thee my hearer ? What saith the Word to thee? Forget thy neighbors, and ask this question. Doth it condemn thee? or doth it assure thee of thy pardon? for recollect, all thou hast to do in the hearing of the Word, is to hear with thine own ears for thine own soul, and it will be idle for any one to say “I did not think it applied to me,” when we know that it is to be preached to every creature under heaven, and therefore there must be something in it for every creature or else it would not be preached to every creature.

Well, says another, “But I was so busy, I had so much to do, that I could not possibly attend to my soul’s concerns. What will you say of the man who had so much to do that he could not get out of the burning house, but was burnt to ashes? What will you say of the man that had so much to do, that when he was dying, he had not time to send for a physician? Why, you will say, then he ought not to have so much to do. And if any man in the world has a business which causes him to lose his own soul for want of time, let him lay this question to his heart, “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” But it is false—it is false—men have got time. It is the want of will, not want of way. You have time, sir, have you not, despite all your business, to spend in pleasure? You have time to read your newspaper—have you no time to read your Bible? You have time to sing a song—have you no time to pray a prayer? Why, you know when farmer Brown met farmer Smith in the market one day, he said to him, “Farmer Smith, I can’t think how it is you find time for hunting. Why, man, what with sowing and mowing and reaping and plowing, and all that, my time is so fully occupied on my farm, and I have no time for hunting.” “Ah,” said he, “Brown, if you liked hunting as much as I do, if you could not find time, you’d make it.” And so it is with religion, the reason why men cannot find time for it is, because they do not like it well enough. If they liked it, they would find time. And besides, what time does it want? What time does it require? Can I not pray to God over my ledger? Can I not snatch a text at my very breakfast, and think over it all day? May I not even when I am busy in the affairs of the world, be thinking of my soul, and casting myself upon a Redeemer’s blood and atonement? It wants no time. There may be some time required; some time for my private devotions, and for communion with Christ, but when I grow in grace, I shall think it right to have more and more time, the more I can possibly get, the happier I shall be, and I shall never make the excuse that I have no time.

“Well,” says another, “but I thought I had time enough, you do not want me, sir, to be religious in my youth, do you? I am a lad, and may I not have a little frolic and sow my wild oats as well as anybody else?” Well—yes, yes; but at the same time the best place for pleasure that I know of, is where a Christian lives; the finest happiness in all the world is the happiness of a child of God. You may have your pleasures—oh, yes! you shall have them doubled and trebled, if you are a Christian. You shall not have things that worldlings call pleasures, but you shall have some that are a thousand times better. But only look at that sorrowful picture. There, far away in the dark gulf of woe, lies a young man, and he cries, “Ah! I meant to have repented when I was out of my apprenticeship, and I died before my time was up.” “Ah!” says another by his side, “and I thought, whilst I was a journeyman, that when I came to be a master, I would then think of the things of Christ, but I died before I had got money enough to start for myself.” And then a merchant behind wails with bitter woe, and says, “Ah! I thought I would be religious when I had got enough to retire on, and live in the country; then I should have time to think of God, when I had got all my children married out, and my concerns settled about me, but here I am shut up in hell; and now what are all my delays worth, and what is all the time I gained for all the paltry pleasures in the world? Now I have lost my soul over them.” We experience great vexation if we are unpunctual in many places; but we cannot conceive what must be the horror and dismay of men who find themselves too late in the  next world! Ah! friends, if I knew there was one here who said, “I shall repent next Wednesday,” I would have him feel in a dreadful state till that Wednesday came; for what if he should die? Oh! what if he should die? Would his promise of a Wednesday’s repentance save him from a Tuesday damnation?

Ah, these are all idle excuses. Men make not such when their bodily life is concerned. Would God that we were wise, that we would not make such pitiful pretences to apology, when our soul, our own soul, is the matter at stake. If they take not warning, whatever their excuse, their blood must be upon their own head.

III. And now, I come most solemnly to conclude with all the power of earnestness; the warning has been sufficient, the excuse for not attending to it has been proved profane; then the last thought is “HIS BLOOD SHALL BE ON HIS OWN HEAD.” Briefly thus—he shall perish; he shall perish certainly; he shall perish inexcusably. He shall perish. And what does that mean? There is no human mind, however capacious, that can ever guess the thought of a soul eternally cast away from God. The wrath to come is as inexpressible as the glory that shall be revealed hereafter. Our Saviour labored for words with which to express the horrors of a future state of the ungodly. You remember he talked of worms that die not, and fires that are never quenched, of a pit without a bottom, of weeping, and wailing and gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness.

No preacher was ever so loving as Christ, but no man ever spoke so horribly about hell; and yet even when the Saviour had said his best and said his worst, he had not told us what are the horrors of a future state. Ye have seen sicknesses, ye have heard the shrieks of men and women when their pangs have been upon them. We, at least, have stood by the bedsides even of some dear to us, and we have seen to what an extent agony may be carried in the human body, but none of us know how much the body is capable of suffering. Certainly the body will have to suffer forever—”He is able to cast both body and soul into hell.” We have heard of exquisite torments, but we have never dreamt of any like unto this. Again, we have seen something of the miseries of the soul. Have we never marked the man that we used to know in our childhood who was depressed in spirits. All that ever could be done for him never could evoke a smile from him—never did the light of cheerfulness light up his eye—he was mournfully depressed. Ay, and it was my unhappy lot to live with one who was not only depressed in spirits, but whose mind had gone so far amiss, that it did brood fancies so mournful and dismal, that the very sight of him was enough to turn the sunlight of summer into the very darkness of a dreary winter. He had nothing to say but dark, groaning words. His thoughts always had a sombre appearance about them. It was midnight in his soul—a darkness that might be felt. Have you never seen yourselves what power the mind has over us to make us full of misery? Ah, brethren and sisters, if ye could go to many of our asylums, and to our sick wards—ay, and dying beds, too, you may know what acute anguish the mind may feel. And remember that the mind, as well as the mortal frame, is to endure damnation. Yes, we must not shirk that word, the Scripture saith it, and we must use it. Oh! men and women, except we repent, except we do each of us cry for mercy to him that is able to save, we must perish. All that is meant by that word “hell” must be realized in me, except I be a believer; and so all that is meant by “Depart, ye cursed,” must be thine, unless thou dost turn unto God with full purpose of heart.

But again, he that turneth not at the rebuke of the minister shall die, and he shall die certainly. This is not a matter of perhaps or chance. The things we preach, and that are taught in Scripture, are matters of solemn certainty. It may be that death is that bourne from which no traveller returns, but it is not true that we know nothing of it. It is as certain as that there are men, and a world in which they live, that there is another world to come, and that if they die impenitent, that world will be to them one of misery. And mark you—there is no chance of escape, die without Christ, and there is no gate out of which you can escape—forever, oh, forever lost, and not one hope of mercy—cast away, and not one outlet for escape, not one solitary chance of ransom. Oh, if there were hope that in the world to come, men might escape, we need not be so earnest; but since once lost, lost for ayeonce cast away, cast away without hope, without any prospect of a hope, we must be earnest. Oh, my God, when I remember that I have to-day some here present who in all probability must be dead before next Sabbath, I must be earnest. Out of so large an assembly, the chances are that we shall not all of us be found pilgrims in this world within another seven days. It is not only possible, but probable, that someone out of this vast audience will have been launched upon a world unknown. Shall it be myself, and shall I sail to the port of bliss, or must I sail over fiery waves forever, lost, shipwrecked, stranded, on the rocks of woe? Soul, which shall it be with thee? It may be thou shalt die, my gray-headed hearer, or thou young lad, thou boy, thou mayest die—I know not which, nor can we tell—God only knoweth. Then let each one ask himself—Am I prepared, should I be called to die? Yes, you may die where you are, on the benches where you are sitting—you may now die—and whither would you go? for recollect that whither ye go, ye go forever. Oh! eternity—eternity—eternity—must I climb thy topless steeps forever, and never reach the summit, and must my path be ever misery or joy. Oh! eternity, thou depth without a bottom, thou sea without a shore, must I sail over thy boundless waves forever in one undeviating track—and must I either plough through seas of bliss, or else be driven by the stormy winds of vengeance, over gulfs of misery? “Then what am I?” “My soul awake and an impartial survey take.” Am I prepared? Am I prepared? Am I prepared? For, prepared or not, death admits of no delay, and if he is at my door, he will take me where I must go forever, prepared or not.

Now, the last thing is, the sinner will perish—he will perish certainly, but, last of all, he will perish without excuse—his blood shall be on his own head. When a man is bankrupt, if he can say, “It is not through reckless trading—it has been entirely through the dishonesty of one I trusted that I am what I am;” he takes some consolation, and he says, “I can not help it.” But oh, my hearers, if you make bankrupts of your own souls, after you have been warned, then your own eternal bankruptcy shall lie at your own door. Should never so great a misfortune come upon us, if we can trace it to the providence of God, we bear it cheerfully; but if we have inflicted it upon ourselves, then how fearful is it! And let every man remember that if he perish after having heard the Gospel, he will be his own murderer. Sinner, thou wilt drive the dagger into thine heart thyself. If thou despisest the Gospel, thou art preparing fuel for thine own bed of flames, thou art hammering out the chain for thine own everlasting binding; and when damned, thy mournful reflection will be this:—I have damned myself, I cast myself into this pit; for I rejected the Gospel; I despised the message; I trod underfoot the Son of Man; I would have none of his rebukes; I despised his Sabbaths; I would not hearken to his exhortations, and now I perish by mine own hand, the miserable suicide of my own soul.”

And now a sweet reflection strikes me. A good writer says, “There are, doubtless, spots in the world that would be barren forever, if we recollected what had happened there.” Says he, “I was once in St. Paul’s cathedral, just under the dome, and a friend just touched me gently and said, Do you see that little chisel mark? and I said ”Yes.” He said, ”That is where a man threw himself down, and there he fell, and was dashed to atoms.” The writer says, “We all started aside from that little spot, where a fellow-creature’s blood had been shed. It seemed an awful place when we remembered that.” Now, there is many a street, there is many a way-side, there is many a house of God, where men have taken the last decision, and damned their own souls. I doubt not, there are some here this morning, standing or sitting, to whom the voice of conscience says, “Decide for God,” and now Satan and the evil heart together are saying, “Reject the message; laugh it off; forget it: take a ticket for the theater to-morrow: do not let this man alarm us: it is his very profession to talk to us like this; let us go away, and laugh it off; and let us spend the rest of this day in merriment.” Yes, that is the last warning thou wilt ever have. It is so with some of you. There are some of you that will this hour decide to damn yourselves, and you will look forever throughout eternity, to that place under the gallery, and you will say, “Alas! woe was the day I heard that man, I was half impressed—almost he persuaded me to be a Christian, but I decided for hell.” And that will be a solemn spot to angels where you are standing, or where you are sitting, for angels will say to one another, “Stand aside; that is a spot where a man ruined his own soul for ever and ever. But the sweet thought is, that there are some places just the reverse.

Why, you are sitting, my friend, this morning, on a spot where some three weeks ago one sat who was converted to God; and that place where you are sitting you ought to venerate, for in that place there sat one who was one of the chiefest of sinners like yourself, and there the Gospel message met him. And far back there, behind the door, many a soul has been brought to Christ. Many a piece of good news have I heard from some in yonder upper gallery. “I could not see your face, sir, all the sermon through, but the arrow of the Lord found its way round the corner, and reached my heart notwithstanding that, and I was saved.” Ah, well, may God so bless this place, that every seat of it this day may be solemnized by his own grace, and a spot to be remembered in your future history by reason of the beginning of your blessedness, the dawn of your salvation. “Believe on the Lord Jesus, and be baptized, and thou shalt be saved.” This is the gospel we are told to preach to every creature—”He that believeth, and is immersed, shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned.”

George Whitefield (1714-1770): The Lord Our Righteousness

The Lord Our Righteousness

By

George Whitefield (1714-1770)

Copyright: Public Domain

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The Lord Our Righteousness:Jeremiah 23:6 — “The Lord our Righteousness.”

Whoever is acquainted with the nature of mankind in general, or the propensity of his own heart in particular, must acknowledge, that self-righteousness is the last idol that is rooted out of the heart: being once born under a covenant of works, it is natural for us all to have recourse to a covenant of works, for our everlasting salvation. And we have contracted such devilish pride, by our fall from God, that we would, if not wholly, yet in part at least, glory in being the cause of our own salvation. We cry out against popery, and that very justly; but we are all Papists, at least, I am sure, we are all Arminians by nature; and therefore no wonder so many natural men embrace that scheme. It is true, we disclaim the doctrine of merit, are ashamed directly to say we deserve any good at the hands of God; therefore, as the Apostle excellently well observes, “we go about,” we fetch a circuit, “to establish a righteousness of our own”, and, like the Pharisees of old, “will not wholly submit to that righteousness which is of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

This is the sorest, though, alas! the most common evil that was ever yet seen under the sun. An evil, that in any age, especially in these dregs of time wherein we live, cannot sufficiently be inveighed against. For as it is with the people, so it is with the priests; and it is to be feared, even in those places, where once the truth as it is in Jesus was eminently preached, many ministers are so sadly degenerated from their pious ancestors, that the doctrines of grace, especially the personal, All-Sufficient Righteousness of Jesus, is but too seldom, too slightly mentioned. Hence the love of many waxeth cold; and I have often thought, was it possible, that this single consideration would be sufficient to raise our venerable forefathers again from their graves; who would thunder in their ears their fatal error.

The righteousness of Jesus Christ is one of those great mysteries, which the angels desire to look into, and seems to be one of the first lessons that God taught men after the fall. For, what were the coats that God made to put on our first parents, but types of the application of the merits of righteousness of Jesus Christ to believers hearts? We are told, that those coats were made of skins of beasts; and, as beasts were not then food for men, we may fairly infer, that those beasts were slain in sacrifice, in commemoration of the great sacrifice, Jesus Christ, thereafter to be offered. And the skins of the beasts thus slain, being put on Adam and Eve, they were hereby taught how their nakedness was to be covered with the righteousness of the Lamb of God.

This is it which is meant, when we are told, “Abraham believed on the Lord, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” In short, this is it of which both the law and the prophets have spoken, especially Jeremiah in the words of the text, “The Lord our righteousness.”

I propose, through divine grace,

      I. To consider who we are to understand by the word Lord.

      II. How the Lord is man’s righteousness.

      III. I will consider some of the chief objections that are generally urged against this doctrine.

      IV. I shall show some very ill consequences that flow naturally from denying this doctrine.

      V. Shall conclude with an exhortation to all to come to Christ by faith, that they may be enabled to say with the prophet in the text, “The Lord our righteousness.”

I. I am to consider who we are to understand by the word Lord. The Lord our righteousness.

If any Arians or Socinians are drawn by curiosity to hear what the babbler has to say, let them be ashamed of denying the divinity of that Lord, who has bought poor sinners with his precious blood. For the person mentioned in the text, under the character of the Lord, is Jesus Christ. Ver. 5, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch, a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days (ver. 6) Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.” By the righteous branch, all agree, that we are to understand Jesus Christ. He it is that is called the Lord in our text. If so, if there were no other text in the Bible to prove the divinity of Christ, this is sufficient: for if the word Lord may properly belong to Jesus Christ, he must be God. And, as you have it in the margin of your Bibles, the word Lord is in the original Jehovah, which is the essential title of God himself. Come then, ye Arians, kiss the son of God, bow down before him, and honor him, even as ye honor the Father. Learn of the angels, those morning-stars, and worship him as truly God: for otherwise you are as much idolaters, as those that worship the Virgin Mary. And as for you Socinians, who say Christ was a mere man, and yet profess that he was your Savior, according to your own principles you are accursed: for, if Christ be a mere man, then he is only an arm of flesh: and it is written, “Cursed is he that trusteth on an arm of flesh.” But I would hope, there are no such monsters here; at least, that, after these considerations, they would be ashamed of broaching such monstrous absurdities any more. For it is plain, that, by the word Lord, we are to understand the Lord Jesus Christ, who here takes to himself the title Jehovah, and therefore must be very God of very God; or, as the Apostle devoutly expresses it, “God blessed for evermore.”

II. How the Lord is to be man’s righteousness, comes next to be considered.

And that is, in one word, by Imputation. For it pleased God, after he had made all things by the word of his power, to create man after his own image. And so infinite was the condescension of the high and lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity, that, although he might have insisted on the everlasting obedience of him and his posterity; yet he was pleased to oblige himself, by a covenant or agreement made with his own creatures, upon condition of an unsinning obedience, to give them immortality and eternal life. For when it is said, “The day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die;” we may fairly infer, so long as he continued obedient, and did not eat thereof, he should surely live. The 3rd of Genesis gives us a full, but mournful account, how our first parents broke this covenant, and thereby stood in need of a better righteousness than their own, in order to procure their future acceptance with God. For what must they do? They were as much under a covenant of works as ever. And though, after their disobedience, they were without strength; yet they were obliged not only to do, but continue to do all things, and that too in the most perfect manner, which the Lord had required of them: and not only so, but to make satisfaction to God’s infinitely offended justice, for the breach they had already been guilty of. Here then opens the amazing scene of Divine Philanthropy; I mean, God’s love to man. For behold, what man could not do, Jesus Christ, the son of his Father’s love, undertakes to do for him. And that God might be just in justifying the ungodly, though “he was in the form of God, and therefore thought it no robbery to be equal with God; yet he took upon him the form of a servant,” even human nature. In that nature he obeyed, and thereby fulfilled the whole moral law in our stead; and also died a painful death upon the cross, and thereby became a curse for, or instead of, those whom the Father had given to him. As God, he satisfied, at the same time that he obeyed and suffered as man; and, being God and man in one person, he wrought out a full, perfect, and sufficient righteousness for all to whom it was to be imputed.

Here then we see the meaning of the word righteousness. It implies the active as well as passive obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. We generally, when talking of the merits of Christ, only mention the latter, — his death; whereas, the former, — his life and active obedience, is equally necessary. Christ is not such a Savior as becomes us, unless we join both together. Christ not only died, but lived, not only suffered, but obeyed for, or instead of, poor sinners. And both these jointly make up that complete righteousness, which is to be imputed to us, as the disobedience of our first parents was made ours by imputation. In this sense, and no other, are we to understand that parallel which the apostle Paul draws, in the 5th of the Romans, between the first and second Adam. This is what he elsewhere terms, “our being made the righteousness of God in him.” This is the sense wherein the Prophet would have us to understand the words of the text; therefore, Jer. 33:16, “She (i.e. the church itself (Rev. 21:9)) shall be called, (having this righteousness imputed to her) The Lord our righteousness.” A passage, I think, worthy of the profoundest meditation of all the sons and daughters of Abraham.

Many are the objections which the proud hearts of fallen men are continually urging against this wholesome, this divine, this soul saving doctrine. I come now,

III. To answer some few of those which I think the most considerable.

And, First, they say, because they would appear friends to morality, “That the doctrine of an imputed righteousness is “destructive of good works, and leads to licentiousness.”

And who, pray, are the persons that generally urge this objection? Are they men full of faith, and men really concerned for good works? No; whatever few exceptions there may be, if there be any at all, it is notorious, they are generally men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. The best title I can give them is, that of profane moralists, or moralists false so called. For I appeal to the experience of the present as well as past ages, if iniquity did and does not most abound, where the doctrine of Christ’s whole personal righteousness is most cried down, and most seldom mentioned. Arminian being antichristian principles, always did, and always will lead to antichristian practices. And never was there a reformation brought about in the church, but by preaching the doctrine of an imputed righteousness. This, as the man of God, Luther, calls it, is “Articulus stantis out cedentis Ecclesiæ,” the article by which the Church stands or falls. And though the preachers of this doctrine are generally branded by those on the other side, with the opprobrious names of Antinomians, deceivers, and what not; yet, I believe, if the truth of the doctrine on both sides was to be judged of by the lives of the preachers or professors of it, on our side the question would have the advantage every way.

It is true, this, as well as every other doctrine of grace, may be abused. And perhaps the unchristian walk of some, who have talked of Christ’s imputed righteousness, justification by faith, and the like, and yet never felt it imputed to their own souls, has given the enemies of the Lord thus cause to blaspheme. But this is a very unsafe, as well as a very unfair way of arguing. The only question should be, Whether or not this doctrine of an imputed righteousness, does in itself cut off the occasion of good works, or lean to licentiousness? To this we may boldly answer, In no wise. It excludes works, indeed, from being any cause of our justification in the sight of God; but it requires good works as a proof of our having this righteousness imputed to us, and as a declarative evidence of our justification in the sight of men. And then, how can the doctrine of an imputed righteousness be a doctrine leading to licentiousness?

It is all calumny. The apostle Paul introduceth an infidel making this objection, in his epistle to the Romans; and none but infidels, that never felt the power of Christ’s resurrection upon their souls, will urge it over again. And therefore, notwithstanding this objection, with the Prophet in the text, we may boldly say, “The Lord is our righteousness.”

But Satan (and no wonder that his servants imitate him) often transforms himself into an angel of light; and therefore, (such perverse things will infidelity and Arminianism make men speak) in order to dress their objections in the best colors, some urge, “That our Savior preached no such doctrine; that in his sermon on the mount, he mentions only morality:” and consequently the doctrine of an imputed righteousness falls wholly to the ground.

But surely the men, who urge this objection, either never read, or never understood, our Lord’s blessed discourse, wherein the doctrine of an imputed righteousness is so plainly taught, that he who runs, If he has eyes that see, may read.

Indeed our Lord does recommend morality and good works, (as all faithful ministers will do) and clears the moral law from many corrupt glosses put upon it by the letter-learned Pharisees. But then, before he comes to this, tis remarkable, he talks of inward piety, such as poverty of spirit, meekness, holy mourning, purity of heart, especially hungering and thirsting after righteousness; and then recommends good works, as an evidence of our having his righteousness imputed to us, and these graces and divine tempers wrought in our hearts. “Let your light (that is, the divine light I before have been mentioning) shine before men, in a holy life; that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your father which is in heaven.” And then he immediately adds, “Think not that I am come to destroy the moral law: I came not to destroy, (to take away the force of it as a rule of life) but to fulfill, (to obey it in its whole latitude, and give the complete sense of it.”) And then he goes on to show how exceeding broad the moral law is. So that our Lord, instead of setting aside an imputed righteousness in his sermon upon the mount, not only confirms it, but also answers the foregoing objection urged against it, by making good works a proof and evidence of its being imputed to our souls. He, therefore, that hath ears to hear, let him hear what the Prophet says in the words of the text, “The Lord our righteousness.”

But as Satan not only quoted scripture, but backed one temptation after another with it, when he attacked Christ in the wilderness; so his children generally take the same method in treating his doctrine. And, therefore, they urge another objection against the doctrine of an imputed righteousness, from the example of the young man in the gospel.

We may state it thus: “The Evangelist Mark, say they, chapter 10, mentions a young man that came to Christ, running, and asking him what he should do to inherit eternal life? Christ referred him to the commandments, to know what he must do to inherit eternal life. It is plain, therefore, works were to be, partly at least, the cause of his justification; and consequently the doctrine of an imputed righteousness is unscriptural.” This is the objection in its full strength: and little strength in all its fullness. For, was I to prove the necessity of an imputed righteousness, I scarce know how I could bring a better instance to make it good.

Let us take a nearer view of this young man, and of our Lord’s behavior towards him, Mark 10:17, the Evangelist tells us, “That when Christ was gone forth into the way, there came one running (it should seem it was some nobleman; a rarity indeed to see such a one running to Christ!) and not only so, but he kneeled to him, (perhaps many of his rank now, scarce know the time when they kneeled to Christ) and asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Then Jesus, to see whether or not he believed him to be what he really was, truly and properly God, said unto him, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God.” And, that he might directly answer his question, says he, “Thou knowest the commandments: do not commit adultery, do not bear false witness, defraud not, honor thy father and thy mother.” This was a direct answer to his question; namely, That eternal life was not to be attained by his doings. For our Lord, by referring him to the commandments, did not (as the objectors insinuate) in the least hint, that his morality would recommend him to the favor and mercy of God; but he intended thereby, to make the law his schoolmaster to bring him to himself; that the young man, seeing how he had broken every one of these commandments, might thereby be convinced of the insufficiency of his own, and consequently of the absolute necessity of looking out for a better righteousness, whereon he might depend for eternal life.

This was what our Lord designed. The young man being self-righteous, and willing to justify himself, said, “All these have I observed from my youth;” but had he known himself, he would have confessed, all these have I broken from my youth. For, supposing he had not actually committed adultery, had he never lusted after a woman in his heart? What, if he had not really killed another, had he never been angry without a cause, or spoken unadvisedly with his lips? If so, by breaking one of the least commandments in the least degree, he became liable to the curse of God: for “cursed is he (saith the law) that continueth not to do all things that are written in this book.” And therefore, as observed before, our Lord was so far from speaking against, that he treated the young man in that manner, on purpose to convince him of the necessity of an imputed righteousness.

But perhaps they will reply, it is said, “Jesus beholding him, loved him.” And what then? This he might do with a human love, and at the same time this young man have no interest in his blood. Thus Christ is said to wonder, to weep over Jerusalem, and say, “O that thou hadst known, Me.” But such like passages are to be referred only to his human nature. And there is a great deal of difference between the love wherewith Christ loved this young man, and that wherewith he loved Mary, Lazarus, and their sister Martha. To illustrate this by comparison: A minister of the Lord Jesus Christ seeing many amiable dispositions, such as a readiness to hear the word, a decent behavior at public worship, and a life outwardly spotless in many, cannot but so far love them; but then there is much difference betwixt the love which a minister feels for such, and that divine love, that union and sympathy of soul, which he feels for those that he is satisfied are really born again of God. Apply this to our Lord’s case, as a faint illustration of it. Consider what has been said upon the young man’s case in general, and then, if before you were fond of this objection, instead of triumphing, like him you will go sorrowful away. Our Savior’s reply to him more and more convinces us of the truth of the prophet’s assertion in the text, that “the Lord is our righteousness.”

But there is a fourth, and a grand objection yet behind, which is taken from the 25th chapter of Matthew, “where our Lord is described as rewarding people with eternal life, because they fed the hungry, clothed the naked, and such-like. Their works therefore were a cause of their justification, consequently the doctrine of imputed righteousness is not agreeable to scripture.”

This, I confess, is the most plausible objection that is brought against the doctrine insisted on from the text; and that we may answer it in as clear and brief a manner as may be, we confess, with the Article of the Church of England, “That albeit good works do not justify us, yet they will follow after justification, as fruits of it; and though they spring from faith in Christ, and a renewed soul, they shall receive a reward of grace, though not of debt; and consequently the more we abound in such good works, the greater will be our reward when Jesus Christ shall come to judgment.”

Take these considerations along with us, and they will help us much to answer the objection now before us. For thus saith Matthew, “Then shall the King say to them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed children of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. I will therefore reward you, because you have done these things out of love to me, and hereby have evidenced yourselves to be my true disciples.” And that the people did not depend on these good actions for their justification in the sight of God, is evident. “For when saw we thee an hungered, say they, and fed thee? Or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in, or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?” Language, and questions, quite improper for persons relying on their own righteousness, for acceptance and acquittance in the sight of God.

But then they reply against thee: “In the latter part of the chapter, it is plain that Jesus Christ rejects and damns the others for not doing these things. And therefore, if he damns these for not doing, he saves those for doing; and consequently the doctrine of an imputed righteousness is good for nothing.”

But that is no consequence at all; for God may justly damn any man for omitting the least duty of the moral law, and yet in himself is not obliged to give to any one any reward, supposing he has done all that he can. We are unprofitable servants; we have not done near so much as it was our duty to do, must be the language of the most holy souls living; and therefore, from or in ourselves, cannot be justified in the sight of God. This was the frame of the devout souls just now referred to. Sensible of this, they were so far from depending on their works for justification in the sight of God, that they were filled, as it were, with a holy blushing, to think our Lord should condescend to mention, much more to reward them for, their poor works of faith and labors of love. I am persuaded their hearts would rise with a holy indignation against those who urge this passage, as an objection to the assertion of the prophet, that “the Lord is our righteousness.”

Thus, I think, we have fairly answered these grand objections, which are generally urged against the doctrine of an imputed righteousness. Was I to stop here, I think I may say, “We are made more than conquerors through him that loved us.” But there is a way of arguing which I have always admired, because I have thought it always very convincing, by showing the absurdities that will follow from denying any particular proposition in dispute.

IV. This is the next thing that was proposed.

And never did greater or more absurdities flow from the denying any doctrine, than will flow from denying the doctrine of Christ’s imputed righteousness.

And First, if we deny this doctrine, we turn the truth, I mean the word of God, as much as we can, into a lie, and utterly subvert all those places of scripture which say that we are saved by grace; that it is not of works, lest any man should boast, that salvation is God’s free gift, and that he who glorieth, must glory only in the Lord. For, if the whole personal righteousness of Jesus Christ be not the sole cause of my acceptance with God, if any work done by or foreseen in me, was in the least to be joined with it, or looked upon by God an in inducing, impulsive cause of acquitting my soul from guilt, then I have somewhat whereof I may glory in myself. Now boasting is excluded in the great work of our redemption; but that cannot be, if we are enemies to the doctrine of an imputed righteousness. It would be endless to enumerate how many texts of scripture must be false, if this doctrine be not true. Let it suffice to affirm in the general, that if we deny an imputed righteousness, we may as well deny a divine revelation all at once; for it is the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end of the book of God. We must either disbelieve that, or believe what the prophet has spoken in the text, “that the Lord is our righteousness.”

But further: I observed at the beginning of this discourse, that we are all Arminians and Papists by nature; for as one says, “Arminianism is the back way to popery.” And here I venture further to affirming that if we deny the doctrine of an imputed righteousness, whatever we may stile ourselves, we are really Papists in our hearts; and deserve no other title from men.

Sirs, what think you? Suppose I was to come and tell you that you must intercede with saints, for them to intercede with God for you; would you not say, I was justly reputed a papist missionary by some, and deservedly thrust out of the synagogues by others? I suppose you would. And why? Because, you would say, the intercession of Jesus Christ was sufficient of itself, without the intercession of saints, and that it was blasphemous to join theirs with his, as though it was not sufficient.

Suppose I went a little more round about, and told you that the death of Christ was not sufficient, without our death being added to it; that you must die as well as Christ, join your death with his, and then it would be sufficient. Might you not then, with a holy indignation, throw dust in the air, and justly call me a “setter forth of strange doctrines?” And how then, if it be not only absurd, but blasphemous to join the intercession of saints with the intercession of Christ, as though his intercession was not sufficient; or our death with the death of Christ, as though his death was not sufficient: judge ye, if it be not equally absurd, equally blasphemous, to join our obedience, either wholly or in part, with the obedience of Christ, as if that was not sufficient. And if so, what absurdities will follow the denying that the Lord, both as to his active and passive obedience, is our righteousness?

One more absurdity I shall mention, as following the denying this doctrine, and I have done.

I remember a story of a certain prelate, who, after many arguments in vain urged to convince the Earl of Rochester of the invisible realities of another world, took his leave of his lordship with some such words as these: “Well, my lord, if there be no hell, I am safe; but if there should be such a thing as hell, what will become of you?” I apply this so those that oppose the doctrine now insisted on. If there be no such thing as the doctrine of an imputed righteousness, those who hold it, and bring forth fruit unto holiness, are safe; but if there be such a thing (as there certainly is) what will become of you that deny it? It is no difficult matter to determine. Your portion must be in the lake of fire and brimstone for ever and ever. Since you will rely upon your works, by your works you shall be judged. They shall be weighed in the balance of the sanctuary; and they will be found wanting. By your works therefore shall you be condemned; and you, being out of Christ, shall find God, to your poor wretched souls, a consuming fire.

The great Stoddard of Northampton in New England, has therefore well entitled a book which he wrote (and which I would take this opportunity to recommend) “The Safety of appearing in the Righteousness of Christ.” For why should I lean upon a broken reed, when I can have the rock of ages to stand upon, that never can be moved?

And now, before I come to a more particular application, give me leave, in the apostle’s language, triumphantly to cry out, “Where is the scribe, where the disputer?” Where is the reasoning infidel of this generation? Can any thing appear more reasonable, even according to your own way of arguing, than the doctrine here laid down? Have you not felt a convincing power go along with the word? Why then will you not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, that so he may become the Lord your righteousness?

But it is time for me to come a little closer to your consciences.

Brethren, though some may be offended at this doctrine, and may account it foolishness; yet, to many of you, I doubt not but it is precious, it being agreeable to the form of sound words, which from your infancy has been delivered to you; and, coming from a quarter, you would least have expected, may be received with more pleasure and satisfaction. But give me leave to ask you one question; Can you say, the Lord our righteousness? I say, the Lord our righteousness. For entertaining this doctrine in your heads, without receiving the Lord Jesus Christ savingly by a lively faith into your hearts, will but increase your damnation. As I have often told you, so I tell you again, an unapplied Christ is no Christ at all. Can you then, with believing Thomas, cry out, “My Lord and my God?” Is Christ your sanctification, as well as your outward righteousness? For the word righteousness, in the text, not only implies Christ’s personal righteousness imputed to us, but also holiness wrought in us. These two, God has joined together. He never did, he never does, he never will put them asunder. If you are justified by the blood, you are also sanctified by the Spirit of our Lord. Can you then in this sense say, The Lord our righteousness? Were you ever made to abhor yourselves for your actual and original sins, and to loathe your own righteousness; for, as the prophet beautifully expresses it, “your righteousness is as filthy rags? Were you ever made to see and admire the all-sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness, and excited by the Spirit of God to hunger and thirst after it? Could you ever say, my soul is athirst for Christ, yea, even for the righteousness of Christ? O when shall I come to appear before the presence of my God in the righteousness of Christ! Nothing but Christ! Nothing but Christ! Give me Christ, O God, and I am satisfied! My soul shall praise thee for ever.

Was this ever the language of your hearts? And, after these inward conflicts, were you ever enabled to reach out the arm of faith, and embrace the blessed Jesus in your souls, so that you could say, “my beloved is mine, and I am his?” If so, fear not, whoever you are. Hail, all hail, you happy souls! The Lord, the Lord Christ, the everlasting God, is your righteousness. Christ has justified you, who is he that condemneth you? Christ has died for you, nay rather is risen again, and ever liveth to make intercession for you. Being now justified by his grace, you have peace with God, and shall, ere long, be with Jesus in glory, reaping everlasting and unspeakable fruits both in body and soul. For there is no condemnation to those that are really in Christ Jesus. “Whether Paul or Apollos, or life or death, all is yours if you are Christ’s, for Christ is God’s. My brethren, my heart is enlarged towards you! O think of the love of Christ in dying for you! If the Lord be your righteousness, let the righteousness of your Lord be continually in your mouth. Talk of, O talk of, and recommend the righteousness of Christ, when you lie down, and when you rise up, at your going out and coming in! Think of the greatness of the gift, as well as the giver! Show to all the world, in whom you have believed! Let all by your fruits know, that the Lord is your righteousness, and that you are waiting for your Lord from heaven! O study to be holy, even as he who has called you, and washed you in his own blood, is holy! Let not the righteousness of the Lord be evil spoken of through you. Let not Jesus be wounded in the house of his friends, but grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, day by day. O think of his dying love! Let that love constrain you to obedience! Having much forgiven, love much. Be always asking, What shall I do, to express my gratitude to the Lord, for giving me his righteousness? Let that self-abasing, God-exalting question be always in your mouths; “Why me, Lord? Why me?” why am I taken, and others left? Why is the Lord my righteousness? Why is he become my salvation, who have so often deserved damnation at his hands?

My friends, I trust I feel somewhat of a sense of God’s distinguishing love upon my heart; therefore I must divert a little from congratulating you, to invite poor Christless sinners to come to him, and accept of his righteousness, that they may have life.

Alas, my heart almost bleeds! What a multitude of precious souls are now before me! How shortly must all be ushered into eternity! And yet, O cutting thought! Was God now to require all your souls, how few, comparatively speaking, could really say, the Lord our righteousness!

And think you, O sinner, that you will be able to stand in the day of judgment, if Christ be not your righteousness? No, that alone is the wedding garment in which you must appear. O Christless sinners, I am distressed for you! The desires of my soul are enlarged. O that this may be an accepted time! That the Lord may be your righteousness! For whither would you flee, if death should find you naked? Indeed there is no hiding yourselves from his presence. The pitiful fig leaves of your own righteousness will not cover your nakedness, when God shall call you to stand before him. Adam found them ineffectual, and so will you. O think of death! O think of judgment! Yet a little while, and time shall be no more; and then what will become of you, if the Lord be not your righteousness? Think you that Christ will spare you? No, he that formed you, will have no mercy on you. If you are not of Christ, if Christ be not your righteousness, Christ himself shall pronounce you damned. And can you bear to think of being damned by Christ? Can you bear to hear the Lord Jesus say to you, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Can you live, think you, in everlasting burnings? Is your flesh brass, and your bones iron? What if they are? Hell-fire, that fire prepared for the devil and his angels, will heat them through and through. And can you bear to depart from Christ? O that heart-piercing thought! Ask those holy souls, who are at any time bewailing an absent God, who walk in darkness, and see no light, though but a few days or hours; ask them, what it is to lose a light and presence of Christ? See how they seek him sorrowing, and go mourning after him all the day long! And, if it is so dreadful to lose the sensible presence of Christ only for a day, what must it be to be banished from him to all eternity!

But thus it must be, if Christ be not your righteousness. For God’s justice must be satisfied; and, unless Christ’s righteousness is imputed and applied to you here, you must hereafter be satisfying the divine justice in hell-torments eternally; nay, Christ himself shall condemn you to that place of torment. And how cutting is that thought! Methinks I see poor, trembling, Christless wretches, standing before the bar of God, crying out, Lord, if we must be damned, let some angel, or some archangel, pronounce the damnatory sentence: but all in vain. Christ himself shall pronounce the irrevocable sentence. Knowing therefore the terrors of the Lord, let me persuade you to close with Christ, and never rest till you can say, “the Lord our righteousness.” Who knows but the Lord may have mercy on, nay, abundantly pardon you? Beg of God to give you faith; and, if the Lord gives you that, you will by it receive Christ, with his righteousness, and his All. You need not fear the greatness or number of your sins. For are you sinners? So am I. Are you the chief of sinners? So am I. Are you backsliding sinners? So am I. And yet the Lord (for ever adored be his rich, free and sovereign grace) the Lord is my righteousness. Come then, O young man, who (as I acted once myself) are playing the prodigal, and wandering away afar off from your heavenly Father’s house, come home, come home, and leave your swines trough. Feed no longer on the husks of sensual delights: for Christ’s sake arise, and come home! Your heavenly Father now calls you. See yonder the best robe, even the righteousness of his dear Son, awaits you. See it, view it again and again. Consider at how dear a rate it was purchased, even by the blood of God. Consider what great need you have of it. You are lost, undone, damned for ever, without it. Come then, poor, guilty prodigals, come home: indeed, I will not, like the elder brother in the gospel, be angry; no, I will rejoice with the angels in heaven. And O that God would now bow the heavens, and come down! Descend, O Son of God, descend; and, as thou hast shown in me such mercy, O let thy blessed Spirit apply thy righteousness to some young prodigals now before thee, and clothe their naked souls with thy best robe!

But I must speak a word to you, young maidens, as well as young men. I see many of you adorned, as to your bodies, but are not your souls naked? Which of you can say, the Lord is my righteousness? Which of you was ever solicitous to be dressed in this robe of invaluable price, and without which you are no better than whited sepulchers in the sight of God? Let not then so many of you, young maidens, any longer forget your chief and only ornament. O seek for the Lord to be your righteousness, or otherwise burning will soon be upon you, instead of beauty!

And what shall I say to you of a middle age, you busy merchants, you cumbered Martha’s, who, with all your gettings, have not yet gotten the Lord to be your righteousness? Alas! what profit will there be of all your labor under the sun, if you do not secure this pearl of invaluable price? This one thing, so absolutely needful, that it only can stand you in stead, when all other things shall be taken from you. Labor therefore no longer so anxiously for the meat which perisheth, but henceforward seek for the Lord to be your righteousness, a righteousness that will entitle you to life everlasting. I see also many hoary heads here, and perhaps the most of them cannot say, the Lord is my righteousness. O gray-headed sinner, I could weep over you! Your gray hairs, which ought to be your crown, and in which perhaps you glory, are now your shame. You know not that the Lord is your righteousness: O haste then, haste ye, aged sinners, and seek an interest in redeeming love! Alas, you have one foot already in the grave, your glass is just run out, your sun is just going down, and it will set and leave you in an eternal darkness, unless the Lord be your righteousness! Flee then, O flee for your lives! Be not afraid. All things are possible with God. If you come, though it be at the eleventh hour, Christ Jesus will in no wise cast you out. Seek then for the Lord to be your righteousness, and beseech him to let you know, how it is that a man may be born again when he is old! But I must not forget the lambs of the flock. To feed them was one of my Lord’s last commands. I know he will be angry with me, if I do not tell them, that the Lord may be their righteousness; and that of such is the kingdom of heaven. Come then, ye little children, come to Christ; the Lord Christ shall be your righteousness. Do not think, that you are too young to be converted. Perhaps many of you may be nine or ten years old, and yet cannot say, the Lord is our righteousness: which many have said, though younger than you. Come then, while you are young. Perhaps you may not live to be old. Do not stay for other people. If your fathers and mothers will not come to Christ, do you come without them. Let children lead them, and show them how the Lord may be their righteousness. Our Lord Jesus Christ loved little children. You are his lambs; he bids me feed you. I pray God make you willing betimes to take the Lord for your righteousness.

Here then I could conclude; but I must not forget the poor negroes; no, I must not. Jesus Christ had died for them, as well as for others. Nor do I mention you last, because I despise your souls; but because I would have what I shall say, make the deeper impression upon your hearts. O that you would seek the Lord to be your righteousness! Who knows but he may be found of you? For in Jesus Christ there is neither male nor female, bond nor free; even you may be the children of God, if you believe in Jesus. Did you never read of the eunuch belonging to the queen of Candace? A negro like yourselves. He believed. The Lord was his righteousness. He was baptized. Do you also believe, and you shall be saved. Christ Jesus is the same now as he was yesterday, and will wash you in his own blood. Go home then, turn the words of the text into a prayer, and entreat the Lord to be your righteousness. Even so, come Lord Jesus, come quickly, into all our souls! Amen, Lord Jesus,

Amen and Amen!