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tranfient act of a regenerate soul may not be free from fin; but it was never questioned, whether any continued act, much less a course of actions, could be without fin. Evil will be present with us in all we do ; it will be with us in our closets ; prefent even in the awful presence of the holy God, in the most high and folemn duties of religion, in the most pure and spiritual actions that pass from us , cease then, as from dependance, lo from pride and conceitedness in all you do. Whilft our natures are sanctified but in part, and our principles mixt, our duties and performances can never be pure. “Who can bring a “ clean thing out of an unclean ? not one,” Job xiv. 4.
3. How are we all obliged to bless God for Jesus the Medi. ator, to make us and our finful duties acceptable to God ? Sad were our case if this high priest did not “bear the iniquity of
our holy things," as it is, Exod. xxviii. 38. It is his oblation and intercellion that obtains and continues our pardon for our prayer-Gns, our hearing-lins, our facrament-lins; these alone would eternally damn us, if we had no other, did not free-grace
make us accepted in the Beloved," Eph. i. 6. When evil is present with us, then is Christ, our Advocate, present with the Father for uş; and thence it is that we are not destroyed upon our knees, and that the jealousy of God breaks not forth as fire, to devour us in our very duties.
4. If evil be present with us, yea, inherent in us, in our best duties, what need had Christians then to watch against the external occasions of sin, and to keep a close guard upon their senfes, especially when they have to do with God?
There is danger enough from within ; you need not open another door from without. This natural corruption is too active in itself, if there be no irritation by any external occafion; how much more when the eye and ear are opened and unguarded, and occasions are offered it from without. Watching is half the work of a Christian, whilft he is praying, Eph. vi. 18. The Arabian proverb is as instructive as it is myftical, Shut the windows, that the house may be light.
5. If evil be present when we would do good, if it infeft us in our best duties, then certainly there is no rest to be expected for any of God's people in this world. Where shall we go to be free from fin ? If any where, let us go to our clofets, to pur knees, to the ordinances of God; yea, but even there evil is, and will be present with us ; if we cannot be free from evil there, it is in vain to expect it elsewhere in this world. Only in heaven believers rest from fin. When once they are absent from the body, and present with the Lord, fin shall no
more be present with them; which should make all that hate fin, long for heaven, and be “ willing to be diffolved and be * with Christ.”
2. For direftion. Let all that experimentally fee and feel what the apostle here mourns over, carefully attend such directions as may prevent the spoil of their duties by the working of their corruptions in them.
Though no rules are found füfficient to prevent wholly the influence of our corruptions upon duties, yet own it as a special mercy, if it may in any measure be prevented or restrained: In order whereunto I shall hint briefly these following rules, which the experience of many Christians hath recommended, as exceeding useful in this case.
Rule 1. Be more diligent in preparation for your duties, if you would meet with less interruption in your
duties. The very light of nature teaches solemn preparation to all important and weighty business : And is there more folemn and concerning business in all the world, than that which thou transactest with God in duties? Angels approach not this God with whom thou haft to do, without profound respects to his immense greatness and awful holiness, Ifa. vi. 3. When you stretch forth your hands, it is required that you first prepare your hearts, Job xi. 13, 14.
Rule 2. Realize the presence of God in all your duties; and awe your hearts all that you are ble by that consideration. O think what a piercing holy eye beholds thy heart, and tries thy reins ! Wouldest thou not be really ashamed, if thy thoughts were but vocal to men, and the workings and wanderings of thy heart visible to those that join with thee in the fame duty ? O, if the presence of God were more realized, certainly your hearts would be better secured against the incursions of your corruptions.
Rule 3. Labour for a deeper measure and degree of fanctification ; many other rales are but fpiritual
' anodynes to give present ease, but this is the way to a real cure. A thousand things may be found helpful to put by a vain thought for the present, but then it returns again, and it may
be with more ítrength : This is the proper method to dry the spring, when others are but attempts to divert the stream: If habits of grace were more deeply radicated, acts of grace would be more easy to us, and flow more freely from us.
Rule 4. Lastly, Consider whit an aggravation it is to your evil, to vent itself in the special presence of God in duties. See who Paul mourns over it in the text: It is not only a sin, but
an affronting of God to his face: This grieving of his Spirit is the spoil of thy duty; it is (as one aptly calls it) obex infernalis, an hellish bar or remora to all sweet and free intercourse of the foul with God.
3. For Consolation. But whilft I am representing the evil of it to fome, it may be there are others overwhelmed with the forrowful sense of it, even to discouragement and despondency : Poor Christian ! is this thy case ? Are all the afflictions in the world nothing to thee, in comparison with this evil which is present with thee, when thou wouldest do good? Well, though thou canst not do the good thou wouldst, nor free thyself yet, from the evil thou wouldft, rather than live, be freed from, there are four things that may give much relief to thy pensive soul.
1. Though the presence of evil, even in thy best duties, be sad, yet thy grief and afflictions for it is sweet : That is a sad sin, but this is a sweet fign. It is not heart-evils, heart-wandering in duties, hardness and unbelief, that hypocrites mourn for, but more gross and external evils. Let this trouble for sin comfort thee when the presence of fin grieves thee. - 2. God accepts, through Jesus Christ, what you do fincerely, though you can do nothing purely and perfeitly, Cant. v. 1. Your sincerity is your evangelical perfection; the evil that is present is not imputed; the good that is present is (notwithstanding that commixed evil) accepted, which is strong confolation.
3. You find your cale was the case of blessed Paul, a man of eminent fanétity. And if you consult all the faints, one by one, you will find them all fick of this disease ; so that
your case is not fingular.
4. Your justificatiin is perfeet, and without spot, though your Janétification be not so ; and the time is coming, when your fanctification shall be as your justification is, and after that no more complaints.
sealed with the holy Spirit of promise.
ROM his doxology and folemn thanksgiving, ver. 3.
the apostle enumerates the principal Christian privileges that gave the occasion of that thanksgiving, among which this in the text is not the least, though last named.
In this one verse we have the two noble acts of faith displayed; its direct act, called trusting; and its reflex act, which in order of nature and time follows it, and is implied in the word sealing.
In the latter clause (to which I shall confine my meditations) four things must be remarked ; vit. 1. The subject; 2. Nature ; 3. Author ; And 4. Quality of assurance.
1. The subject of assurance, which is, and can be no other than a foul that hath closed with Christ by faith : Reflex acts necessarily presuppose direct ones. Never was any unbeliever fealed, except to damnation : Aflarance is peculiarly the prerogative of believers.
2. The nature of affurance: He calls it fealing; an apt mee taphor to express the nature of it; for affurance, like a seal, both confirms, declares, and distinguishes it; it confirms the grant of God, declares the purpose of God, and distinguishes the person so privileged from other men.
3. The Author of assurance, which is the Spirit, he is the keeper of the great seal of heaven; and it is his office to confirm and seal the believer's right and interest in Christ and heaven, Rom. viii. 16.
4. Lastly, The quality of this Spirit of affurance, or the sealing Spirit: He seals in the quality of an holy Spirit, and of the Spirit of promise ; as an holy Spirit, relating to his previous fan&tifying work upon the sealed soul ; as the Spirit of promise, respecting the medium or instrument made use of by him in his sealing work; for he seals by opening and applying the promises to believers from the Spirit's order. The note will be this : Doct. That the privilege of jealing follows the duty of bea
lieving There is no season more proper to treat of the fealing of the Spirit, than at a sealing ordinance: Nor can I handle the Spirit's fealing-work in a more profitable method, than in fatisfying thefe five queries particularly, and then applying the whole.
1. What is the Spirit's fealing-work, and how performed ? 2. Why none are sealed till they believe ? 3. Whether all believers are fealed ? 4. What is the privilege of being fealed ? 5. What are the effects of the Spirit's fealing?
Query. What is the Spirit's sealing-work? and how is it performed
Anfw. The sealing of the Spirit is, his giving.a fure and certain testimony to the reality of that work of grace he hath
souls, and to our interest in Christ and the promises, thereby satisfying our fears and doubts about our estate and condition.
Every matter of weight and concernment is to be proved by two sufficient witnesses, Deut. xix. 15: Our sincerity and intereft in Christ are matters of the deepest concernment to us in all the world, and therefore need a farther witness to confirm and clear them thạn that of our own spirits, Rom. viii. 16. Three things concur to the Spirit's fealing-work.
He sanctifies the soul; he irradiates and clears that work of Ianctification ; he enables it thereby to apply promises.
The first is his material or objective feal; the latter his formal sealing. None but the Spirit of God can clear and confirm our title to Christ, for he only searcheth the deep things of God, i Cor. ii. io. and it is his office, Rom. viii. 16. oupe uap Tvov, to witness with our spirits.
This seal or witness of the Spirit must needs be true and certain, because omniscience and truth are his essential properties. He is omniscient, i Cor. ii. so. and therefore cannot be deceived himself. He is the Spirit of truth, John xiv. 17. and therefore cannot deceive us ; so that his testimony is more infallible and satisfactory than a voice from heaven, 2 Pet. i. 19.
If an angel ihould appear, and tell us, Christ hath said to him, Go and tell such a man; that I love him, that I shed my
blood for him, and will save him, it could never give that repose and satisfaction to the mind, as the internal witness or seal of the Spirit doth ; for that may be a delusion, but this cannot. The witness of our own heart may amount to a strong probability, but the witness of the Spirit is demonstration, 1 John iv. 24.
So, that as it is the design and work of Satari; to cast in doubts and fears into gracious hearts, to perplex and entangle them, so, oppositely, it is the work of the Spirit to clear and lettle the fanctified soul, and fill it with peace and joy int believing, John xvi. 7. Rom. xiv. 17.
In sealing, he both attests the fidem quæ creditur, the doctrine br object of faith, and the fidem qua creditur, the infufeil habit or grace of faith i of the former he faith, This is my word of the latter, This is my work; and his seal or testimony is evermore agreeable to the written word, Isa. viii. 20. So that what he speaks in our hearts, and what he faith in the scripture, are evermore concordant and harmonious testimonies. Vol. VIII.