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spirit, qualities very unapt to yield and be silent) did, at the very first revelation thereof, give unto the gospel; "Immediately," saith he, "I conferred not with flesh and blood i; I did not compare the gospel of Christ with the principles of my carnal wisdom; I did not resolve to dispute against God's grace, or to conform unto this mystery no farther than the precepts of mine own reason, or the co-existence of mine own secular ends and preferments would allow : but I captivated all my thoughts, and laid down all the weapons of the flesh, at Christ's feet,-resting only on this Word as a treasury of wisdom, and yielding up my whole heart, to be in all things ordered by this rule. It is a horrible boldness in many men to rest, and torture, and distinguish the gospel into all shapes, for their own lusts' sake. As we see what shifts men will use, to make the way of life broader than it is, by looking upon it through their own multiplying glasses; what evasions and subterfuges, sin will find out to escape by, when the letter of the Word presseth sore upon them. O how many sins might men escape, how wonderfully might they improve the image of Christ in their hearts, if they did, with David, make the law their counsellor and weigh every action which they go about:-those especially which they have any motions of reluctancy in the spirit of their mind unto, "Non in statera dolosa consuetudinum, sed in recta statera scripturarum," not in the deceitful balance of human custom, but in the balance of the sanctuary, the holy scriptures: if they would seriously remember, that they must always "walk in Christ "," make him the rule, the way, the end, the judge, the companion, the assistant in all their works; that as the members of the body do nothing at all but in the fellowship of the body, and as they are thereunto applied by the same common soul which animates them all; so Christian men should do nothing but as parts of Christ, and as actuated by the same gracious Spirit, which is in him. This is the meaning of our being Christians, and of that consent which, in our baptism, we yield unto that covenant of Christ,-that we will not follow, nor be led by Satan, the world, or the flesh;—that is, by that wisdom which
Psal. cxix. 24. 1 Aug. contr. Ep. Parmen. lib. 3. c. 2.
i Gal. i. 16. Col. ii. 6.
is earthly, sensual, devilish ;-but that we will be ordered by that Spirit of regeneration, the seal of whose baptism we receive in our sacramental washing. O then what is become of the Christianity of many men, who forget that they have been purged! who live as if they had never been baptized into Christ,' who live as if they never learned Christ!' What a prodigy and contradiction is it, that that tongue which even now professed itself to be a Christian, and said Amen to a most clean and holy prayer, should like those beasts which Seneca speaketh of, which by but turning aside their head to some other spectacle, do immediately forget the meat which they most greedily ate before, break forth presently into blasphemies, oaths, lies, revilings, clamours, obscenities, which are the very fumes and evidences of Hell in the heart! That those hands which even now were reached forth to receive the sacred pledges and most dreadful mysteries of salvation, which were even now employed in distributing alms to the members of Christ, or in helping to heave and lift up a prayer unto Heaven, which seemed, like the hands of Ezekiel's living creature, to have wings of devotion over them,— should suddenly have their wings melted off, and fall down to covetous and cruel practices again! that those feet which, in the morning, carried men into the Lord's sanctuary, and into the presence of Christ,-should, the same day, turn the backs of the same men upon the temple of the Lord, and carry them to stews and stages, the nurseries of uncleanness! that those eyes which even now seemed to have been nailed unto Heaven, and to have contended with the tongue and the hand, which should more earnestly have presented the prayers of the soul to God,-should, almost in the space of their own twinkling, be filled with sparks of uncleanness, gazing and glutting themselves upon vain or adulterous objects! What is this but for men to renounce their baptism, to tear off their seal, and dash out their subscription from the covenant of grace, 'to deny the Lord that bought them,' to repent their bargain, which they had made for salvation, and really to dishonour that gospel which they hypocritically profess? This then is the first honour which we can do unto the gospel of Christ, when we set it up in our hearts as a most adequate rule of all wisdom, and the alone principle of every action.
Secondly, We continue to honour the gospel of Christ, by walking in obedience of faith, receiving it, and leaning upon it, laying hold on the covenant which is therein revealed, as on the only hope which is set before us: for this is a great acknowledgment of the glory and praise of God, when we trust in him for salvation. Therefore the apostle, having showed the glory of Christ above Moses, maketh this use of it, that therefore "they should hear his voice, and take heed of an unbelieving heart, in departing from him "." "We," saith he, "are to the praise of God's glory, who trust in Christ "."
Secondly, In obedience of life and holiness. When, for the honour of the gospel, we can deny ourselves, and dishonour our lusts, and part from all that we had before, as from dung and dross, and express the image of Christ in our conversations. This is indeed the true learning of Christ P, when we show forth his life in ours; when we walk as he also walked ; when as he was, so we are in this world; when the same minds, judgement, affections are in us which were in Christ. Thus the faithful are said to honour God', when they sanctify his sabbath, and to glorify him " when they bring forth much fruit.
Thirdly, We honour the gospel of Christ by constancy and continuance in our faith and obedience thereunto: for 'standing fast,' or persisting immovably in our course without sorrow or repentance, is an argument of the excellency of the gospel. "Walk," saith the apostle, "as becometh the gospel". "that I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit."-Lusts ever bring inconstancy with them, and make the soul like weary and distempered bodies, never well in any posture or condition. Wicked men flee like bees from one flower to another, from one vanity to another, can never find enough in any to satiate the endless intemperancy of unnatural desires: only the gospel being spiritually apprehended, hath treasures enough for the soul to rest in, and to seek no farther. And therefore falling away from the truth, power, or purity of the gospel, is said to ex
n Heb. iii. 3, 12. o Ephes. i. 12. P Ephes. iv. 20, 22. 91 John ii. 6. r1 John iv. 17. s Phil. ii. 5. Isai. lviii. 13. u John xv. 8. - Phil. i. 27. y Non stant uno loco vitia, sed mobilia, et inter se diffidentia tumultuantur, pellunt invicem, et fugantur. Sen. de Benef, 1. i. c. 16.
pose Christ to shame, and to crucify him again. For as, in baptism, when we renounce sin, and betake ourselves to Christ, we do, as it were, expose sin unto public infamy, and nail it on the cross of Christ; so when we revolt from Christ unto sin again, and in our hearts turn back unto Egypt, and thrust him from us, we do then put him to shame again, as if he were either in his power deficient, or unfaithful in those promises which before we pretended to rely upon. If Israel, as they consulted, should likewise actually have rebelled against Moses, and returned in body as well as in heart unto Egypt again, what a scorn would it have wrought in that proud nation, that their vassals should voluntarily resume their thraldom, after so many boasts and appearances of deliverance! If a man should relinquish the service of some noble person, and apply himself unto some sordid master for subsistence, would not the mouths of men be quickly open, or their minds jealous to suspect that however such a man carries a high name, and there be great expectations from attending on him, yet, in truth, he is but a dry master, whom his own servants do so publicly dishonour"? So when any men turn apostates from the power and profession of the gospel of Christ, presently wicked men are apt to blaspheme, and to conceive desperate prejudices against our high and holy calling. If any man make a boast of the law, and yet break it, he dishonoureth God the more: for, (saith the apostle)" The name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles through you, as it is written." So then constancy in Christ's service, giveth him the glory of an honourable master,—and his law, of a royal law; putteth to silence the ignorance of those foolish men, who lie in wait to take advantages, that they may blaspheme the name of God, and his doctrine.
Fourthly, The gospel of Christ is honoured by the unity of the Spirit, and concurrent judgements and affections of men towards it. When all the sincere professors thereof, do unanimously strive together, and "earnestly contend for it ";" when all that ever have been, or are acquainted therewith, do
3 Δείξῃς ὅτι τὴν ἁμαρτίαν ὄντως μεμίσηκας, παραδειγματίσας αὐτήν· καὶ θριαμBevoas, ús ážíav ü6pews. Greg. Naz. Orat. 40. de Baptismo. a Rom. ii. 23, 24. b 1 Pet. ii. 15, 16. 2 Cor. vi. 3. 1 Tim. vi. 1. d Phil. i. 27. • Jude verse 3.
glorify it with their suffrages and subscription. omnes, neminem omnes fefellere ;" it must needs be a glorious gospel, if all that ever looked on it, do so conclude.-Nothing was ever able to deceive all men, neither did so many ever combine to deceive others.-When the philosophers severally strove for the precedence of their several sects, and every man, after his own order, gave the next place unto Plato, it was undoubtedly concluded, that his was the most excellent, because, after their own prejudice and personal respects, it was honoured by the equal suffrages of all the rest. How much more must the gospel needs be glorious, which hath the joint attestation of angels, and all holy men, since the world began to honour it withal! Therefore when the apostle proveth the greatness of this heavenly mystery, he useth a word which importeth the consent of men, καὶ ὁμολογουμένως "without any doubt," or by a universal confession, "Great is the mystery of godliness." Doth it not much set forth the glory of a law, that there should be so much wisdom, power, equity, majesty, beauty in the face of it, that every true subject in a realm should concur in a constant and uniform love and obedience to it? Let us, therefore, express the glory of the gospel, not only in our joint confessions, but in our united obedience thereunto, and in our unanimous zeal and contention for it, in our brotherly affections and compassions to one another thereby for the schisms and disaffections of Christians, bring much dishonour upon their holy profession, which, in all their miscarriages, doth ever, by occasion of the unreasonableness of wicked men, suffer together with them. Therefore the apostle, from the unity of Christ in himself, concludeth that such he should be in his members too. "Is Christ divided?" hath he divers opinions? or hath he the truth of God in respect of persons? such as he is, such should you be likewise; lest, by your contentions, you seem to make another Christ, or another gospel, than that which you have received.
Fifthly, The gospel of Christ is honoured in our studying of it, and digging after it in our serious and painful enquiries into the mysteries of it. St. Paul despised all other knowledge, and shook off every weight, that he might press for
t1 Tim. iii. 16.