« FöregåendeFortsätt »
would have accepted this as the answer of a good conscience, and what conscience had done, he would not do over again. It hath judged, then I acquit; for if we would judge ourselves, (says the Apostle), we "should not be judged ".
The questioning or inquiry of conscience, and so its report or answer unto God, extends to all the affairs of the soul, all the affections and motions of it, and all the actions and carriage of the whole man. The open wickedness of the most testifies against them, that though sprinkled with water in baptism, yet they are strangers to the power and gracious efficacy of it; not baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire; still their dross and filth remaining in them, and nothing else appearing in their ways; so that their consciences cannot so much as make a good answer for them unto men, much less unto God. What shall it answer for them, being judged, but that they are swearers, and cursers, and drunkards, or unclean ; or that they are slanderers, delighting to pass their hours in descanting on the actions and ways of others, and looking through the miscoloured glass of their own malice and pride; that they are neglecters of God and holy things; lovers of themselves, and their own pleasures, more than lovers of God? And, have such as these impudence enough to call themselves Christians, and to pretend themselves to be such as are washed in the blood of Christ ? Yes, they do this. But be ashamed and confounded in yourselves, you that remain in this condition. . Yea, although thou art blameless in men's eyes, and possibly in thy own eyes too, yet thou mayest be filthy still in the sight of God. There is such a generation, a multitude of them, that is pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their filthiness'. There are many moral evil persons that are most satisfied with their own estate, or such as have further a form of godliness, but their lusts are not mortified by the power of it. Secret pride, and earthliness of mind, and vain glory, and carnal wisdom, are still entertained with plea
di Cor. xi. 31. e 2 Tim. jii. 2. 4. f Proy, xxx. 12, Vol. II.
sure within ; these are foul pollutions, filthy and hate, ful in the sight of God: So that where it is thus, that such guests are in peaceable possession of the heart, there the blood and Spirit of Christ are not yet come; neither can there be this answer of a good conscience unto God.
This answer of a good conscience unto God, as likewise its questioning, to enable itself for that answer, is touching two great points, that are of chief concern to the soul, its justification and sanctification; for baptism is the seal of both, and purges the conscience in both respects. That water, is the figure both of the blood and water, the justifying blood of Christ, and the pure water of the sanctifying Spirit of Christ; he takes away the condemning guiltiness of sin by the one, and the polluting filthiness by the other.
Now, the conscience of a real believer inquiring within, upon right discovery will make this answer unto God: " Lord, I have found that there is no standing before thee, for the soul in itself is overwhelmed with a world of guiltiness: but I find a blood sprinkled upon it, that hath, I am sure, vire tue enough to purge it all away, and to present it pure unto thee. And I know that wheresoever thou findest that blood sprinkled, thine anger is quenched and appeased immediately upon the sight of it, Thine hand cannot smite where that blood is before thine eye.”. And this the Lord does agree to, and authorises the conscience, upon this account, to rea turn back an answer of safety and peace to the soul.
So for the other, Lord, I find a living work of, holiness on this soul; though there is yet corrupe tion there, yet it is as a continual grief and vexation, it is an implacable hatred; there is no peace betwixt them, but continual enmity and hostility : and if I cannot say much of the high degrees of grace, and faith in Christ, and love to him, and heavenliness of mind ; yet I may say, there is a beginning of these ; at least this I most confidently affirm, that there are real and earnest desires of the soul after these things.
It would know and conform to thy will, and be delivered from itself and its own will; and though it were to the highest displeasure of all the world, it would gladly walk in all well-pleasing unto thee.” Now, he that sees the truth of these things, knowing it to be thus, owns it as his own work, and engages himself to advance it, and bring it to perfection.
This is a taste of that intercourse the purified conscience hath with God, as the saving fruit of baptism.
And all this it doth, not of itself, but by virtue of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which refers both to the remote effect, salvation, and the nearer effect, as a means and pledge of that, the purging of the conscience.
By this, his death, and the effusion of his blood in his sufferings, are not excluded, but are included in it: His resurrection being the evidence of all that work of expiation, both completed and accepted ; full payment being made by our surety ; and so he set free, his freedom is the cause and the assurance of ours. Therefore the Apostle St. Paul expresses it so, That he died for our sins, and rose for our righteousness ; and our Apostle shews us the worth of our living hope in this same resurrection 8; Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which, according to his abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
Now, that baptism doth apply and seal to the believer his interest in the death and resurrection of Christ, the Apostle St. Paul teaches to the full', We are buried with him, says he, by baptism into his death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we should also walk in newness of life. Where the dipping into the waters is referred to, as representing our dying with Christ; and the return thence, as expressive of our rising with him. 3dly, The last thing is, the resemblance of baptism & chap. i. 3.
h Rom, vi, 4
in these things, with the saving of Noah in the flood. And it holds in that we spoke last of: For he seemed to have rather entered into a grave, as dead, than into a safeguard of life, in going into the ark; yet, being buried there, he rose again, as it were, in his coming forth to begin a new world. The waters of the flood drowned the ungodly, and washed them away, and their sin together, as one inseparable heap of filthiness; and upon the same waters the ark floating, preserved Noah. Thus the waters of baptism are intended as a deluge to drown sin, and to save the believer, who by faith is separated both from the world and froin his sin; so it sinks, and he is saved.
And there is, further, another thing specified by the Apostle, wherein, though it be a little hard, yet he chiefly intends the parallel ; the fewness of these that are saved by both. For though many are sprinkled with the elemental water of baptism, yet few, so as to attain by it the answer of a good conscience towards God, and to live by participation of the resurrection and life of Christ.
Thou that seest the world perishing in a deluge of wrath, and art now most thoughtful for this, how thou shalt escape it; fly in to Christ as thy safety, and rest secure there. Thou shalt find life in his death, and that life further ascertained to thee in his rising again. 1. There is so full and clear a title to life in these two, that thou canst challenge all adversaries upon this very ground as unconquerable, whilst thou standest on it, and mayest speak thy challenge in the Apostle's style, It is God that justifieth, who shall condemn? But how know you that He justifies ? It is Christ that died, yea, rather, that is risen, who sitteth at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us'. It alludes to that placek where Christ speaks of himself, but in the name of all that adhere to him; He is near that justifies me, who is he that will contend with me? So that what Christ speaks there, the Apostle, with good i Rom. viii. 33, 34.
k Isa. 1. 8.
reason imparts to each believer as in him. If no more is to be laid to Christ's charge, he being now acquitted, as is clear by his rising again, then neither to thine, who art clothed with him, and one with him.
This is the grand answer of a good conscience ; and, in point of justifying them before God, there can be no answer but this, What have any to say to thee? Thy debt is paid by Him that undertook it, and he is free. Answer all accusations with this, Christ is risen.
And then, for the mortifying of sin, and strengthening of thy graces, look daily on that death and resurrection : Study them, set thine eye upon them, till thy heart take on the impression of them by much spiritual and affectionate looking on them ; beholding the glory of thy Lord Christ, then be transformed into it'. It is not only a moral pattern or copy, but an effectual cause of thy sanctification, having real influence into thy soul; dead with him, and again alive with him. Oh! happiness and dignity unspeakable, to have this life known and cleared to your souls ! If it were, how would it make you live above the world, and all the vain hopes and fears of this wretched life, and the fears of death itself! Yea, it would make that visage of death, which to the world is inost affrightful, most lovely to thee.
It is the apostle's maxim, that the carnal mind is enmity against God; and as it is universally true of every carnal mind, so of all the motions and thoughts of it, even where it seems to agree with God, yet it is still contrary; if it acknowledge and conform to his ordinance, yet, even in so doing, it is in direct opposite terms to him, particularly in this, that which he esteems most in them, the carnal mind makes least account of. He chiefly eyes and values the inside; the natural man dwells and rests in the shell and superficies of them. God, according to his spiritual nature, looks most on the more spiritual part of his worship and worshippers. The carnal mind is in this,
12 Cor. iii, 18.