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God may say
any advantage by your return; it is for your own good, not for his. He is not dealing with you, as one that hires a servant, because he needs one, and cannot want one; but like a compassionate person that is dealing with a frantic one, that will needs destroy himself in the water. to the greatest men, the richest, aye, and the most penitent sinners, and the holiest alive, I have no need of you.
3. Ye can do God no real hurt by your continuing impenitent in your sins, Job xxxv. 6, 8. Your sins can reach him as little to his loss, as your obedience to his profit. All sin is against the mind of God, but there is no sin against the happiness of God. If it were possible, and all the angels in heaven, and all the men on earth, should conspire with the devils against him, it could not diminish one jot of his happiness, nor create him the least real uneasiness thereby. All is but like a dog's barking at the moon, or one's rushing his head against a rock, which stands unmoved, but he is wounded.
4. Lastly, By thy compliance with the call of God, and the duties of religion, while others slight them, do not thou think thou obligest God, or that he is more indebted to thee than to others, Luke xvii. 10. Thou actest indeed more for thy own interest than they ; but as he suffers no damage by their folly, so he reaps no advantage by thy duties. 2. If thou compliest with the call of the gospel
, the profit shall be thine own; though God do not and cannot gain by it, thou shalt. Thou shalt be wise for thyself. The phrase imports two things.
ist, Thou shalt gain by it, thou shalt advance thy own interest thereby. Men praise them that do good to themselves; they that hearken to the gospel-call do so. When the rest of the world are mispending their time and talents like a parcel of fools, thou art acting a wise part, consulting thy own true interest. Briefly, this gain lies in two things.
(1.) In saving, or preventing of loss. Thou shalt prevent the loss of God's favour, thy own soul, happiness, &c. A penny saved is a penny gained. And is not a soul saved from the pit a noble gain? Well, if thou be wise for thyself, thou shalt save a soul from death, and hide a multitude of sins.
(2.) In getting what we want. If thou be wise for thyself thou shalt not only save, but get, make a purchase.
Thou shalt gain for time, and gain for eternity, 1 Tim. iv. 8. Whatever drops out of the promise, or is wrung out of the everlasting covenant, they drop all into the lap of the penitent sinner. And there is all in them for time and eternity. The earth is in then, and the heavens are in them. So shalt thou be wise for thyself in gaining these.
2dly, Nobody shall go between thee and thy gain, in the. . enjoyment of it. How often is that verified quickly, ‘One soweth, and another reapeth ;' one has the pains, and another gets .
the fruit ? Matth. vi. 20. • Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth cor. rupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.” Many a wise man of the world is a fool for himself, and wise for others. He gathers, and others enjoy the treasure. And death makes it so at length; and therefore the world's good things are called another man's, only those of another world are our own, which no man shall leave to his heirs, Luke xvi. 12. Now, if thou be wise for thyself, thou shalt carry thy gain into another world with thee, and it shall be thine own, and not another's.
Thirdly, If by not complying with the gospel-call, thou scornest it, thou shalt get the weight of that to bear thyself: Thou alone shalt bear it. And it is heavier than mountains of brass, and of everlasting continuance, even everlasting judgment without mercy, Prov. i. 26. And,
1. Thou shalt bear the blame of it. It is a heavy blame, a weighty guilt; but thou shalt not get another's back in all the creation to lay it on; and shift it off thy own. They that comply may bless God; they that do not may thank themselves. The cause is from themselves.
2. Thou shalt bear the loss of it, the loss of what thou scornest, the loss of grace, the favour of God, the loss of heaven. Thy blood shall be on thine own head. The scorning of the call brings a heavy load of wrath ; but thou alone shalt bear it: that is,
(1.) God that called thee shall not bear it, either blame or loss. A man's heart perverts his way now, and his heart fretteth against the Lord; and I cannot think that the hearts of the reprobates in hell will be more reconciled to this dispensation, Matth. xxv. 24, 25. But the Lord will throw the weight of it back on thee, and thou alone shalt bear it?
for though he was not obliged to give thee grace, yet he offered it to thee, and thou refused it.
(2.) His faithful servants that warned thee, and called thee to comply with the call of God, shall not bear it, Ezek. xxxiii. 9. Nay, every call of theirs, every sermon, exhortation, reproof, and warning, in public or private, shall turn it back on thyself. Every sigh, gpoan, waste of their strength, for warning thee, shall turn it upon thee with a witness : And thou alone shalt bear it. Nay,
(3.) They that had a hand in thy not complying shall not bear it. They that tempted thee to sin, thy graceless neighbours and companions, whose face thou shalt curse the day that ever thou sawest it, they shall not bear it. Even unfaithful ministers, who either shall not warn thee, or by their unholy life harden thee, they shall not bear it, and thou wilt not find shelter under their wings. Nay, the devil himself, who goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, and does what he can to hinder thee, even he shall not bear it. For they do not force thee, but entice and tempt thee to sin ; they lay the bait, but it is thy own fault that thou embracest it: they lay the stumbling-block, the occasion of sinning, in thy way; but thou art obliged to go by it, and hold off from it.
It is true they shall bear the weight of the hand they had in thy ruin ; but alas ! what is that to thee? what good will it do to thy poor soul? It is in this case as when one draws another into the water, and both are drowned together! alas ! what is it to the man whom the other drew, that his companion is drowned himself too? that does not save his life, Ezek. xxxiii. 8. So they shall not bear it, but thou alone shalt bear it.
[1.] None shall bear it for thee, nor take the burden off thy back. The soul that sinneth, it dies. The sinner shall be the sufferer. They that refuse the surety of the Father's chusing, to bear the burden in their stead, shall not get another surety nor burden-bearer for them among angels or men.
Nay, thou alone, and not another for thee, shalt bear it.
[2.] None shall bear it with thee, to ease thee of a part of the weight, Gal. vi. 5. There will be no relieving out of the flames, so there will be none that will be so kind as to bring a drop of water to cool the tongue in it, Ezek. xvi.
24. The whole weight shall lie upon thyself. Thou alone, and not another with thee, shalt bear it.
Wherefore consider what ye do. Be wise, sinners, and repent: For except ye repent, ye shall perish. The sound of the Lord's word goes away, and dies out as other sounds: but it liveth and abideth for ever in its efficacy, for the sal vation or condemnation of those that hear it. So death and life are set before you, the blessing and the curse. If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself: but if thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear it.
HOW THE SACRAMENTS BECOME EFFECTUAL MEANS OF
1 Cor. xi. 13.- For by one Spirit are we all baptised into
one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free ; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
COME now to handle the questions in the Caetchism
And the first of these is that touching the efficacy of these holy ordinances, which is one of the doctrines of this text, in which the apostle explains and confirms the doctrine of the mystical union betwixt Christ and his people, from the two sacraments. I explained this text at large, when speaking of the
mystical union from it*. I shall only consider it now, in so far as it relates to the sacraments. And so there is,
1. The number of the sacraments of the new Testament. These are two, viz. baptism, we are all baptised, &c. and the Lord's Supper, called here drinking ; the denomination being taken from the cup, as it is called breaking of bread, the naine being taken from the bread therein used, Acts ii. 42. The former is the sacrament of our initiation into Christ, and union with him; the other, of our nourishment in, and communion with him.
2. The efficacy of these sacraments. They are effectual to salvation in those in whom they have their effect, they being united to Christ into one body, and partaking more and more of his Spirit, in those ordinances respectively which so secures their salvation from sin, and wrath too.
3. To whom they are effectual. Not to all, but to be. lievers only, We all, viz. who are members of Christ, ver. 11.
4. How they become effectuat. Their efficacy is not from themselves, nor from the administrator, but from the Spirit of Christ. By one Spirit are we all baptised, &c. So their efficacy depends on the operation of the Holy Ghost in an by them; and to this is presupposed the blessing of
See vol. ii,