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5. Though by the death and resurrection of Christ, the sanctification of his people is infallibly insured, as the corruption of all mankind was by the fall of Adam; yet we cannot actually partake of Christ's holiness till we have a spiritual being in him, even as we partake not of Adam's corruption till we have a natural being from him. And for the effecting of this union with Christ, he in the time of love sends his quickening Spirit into the soul, whereby he apprehends us; and thus there is a passive reception of Christ. And the soul being quickened, believes, and so apprehends Christ. Thus that union with Christ is made up by the Spirit on Christ's part, and faith on ours. So the soul being united to him, lives by the same spirit of holiness which is in him, and takes of his, and gives to his members for their sanctification.
6. Lastly, As Jesus Christ is the prime receptacle of the Spirit of holiness, as the head of all the saints; so the continual supplies of that Spirit are to be derived from him for the saints' progress in holiness, till they come to perfection. And faith is the great mean of communication betwixt Christ and us, Acts xv. 9. And thus it does, as it empties the soul of all confidence in itself for sanctification, and relies upon him for it according to his word: putting on the saints to use the means of sanctification appointed by him, yet taking their confidence off the means, and setting it on himself, Phil. iii. 3. And for the ground of this confidence it has his word, so that his honour and faithfulness are engaged for the supply of the Spirit of sanctification this way, being the way in which he has commanded us to look for it.
USE I. Of information. This lets us see,
1. The absolute necessity of holiness. When God, in the depth of infinite wisdom, laid his measures for the salvation of sinners, he had their sanctification in his eye, to bring it about by the death of his own Son. A certain evidence that there is no salvation without it. Nay, it is a principal part of our salvation, Matth. i. 21. There is more evil in sin than suffering, more in man's sin than the wrath of God. Nay, suppose a man saved from wrath, but not from sin, he is a miserable man, because of his unlikeness to God; for as happiness lies in assimilation to God, it must needs be a miserable case to be so unlike him as sin makes us.
2. In vain do men attempt sanctification without coming to Christ for it. Those that know not Christ may attain to a shadow of holiness, but can never be truly sanctified. And those that hear the gospel, but neglect the great duty of believing and uniting with Christ, can do no duty aright, their obedience at best is but a hypocritical obedience, Tit. i. 15, 16.
3. Unholiness ought not to stop a sinner from coming to Christ, more than a disease ought to hinder a man to take the physician's help, or cold from taking the benefit of the fire. And they that will have men to attain to holiness before they believe, are as absurd as one who would have the cripple to walk before he use the cure for his lameness.
4. True faith is the soul's coming to Christ for sanctification as well as justification. For faith must receive Christ as God offers him, and he offers him with all his salvation. Now, he is made sanctification: Wherefore the soul, being willing to take Christ with all his salvation, to be sanctified, comes to him for it.
USE II. Of Exhortation. Come then to Christ for sanctification. To press this, I offer the following motives.
Mot. 1. If ye be not holy, ye will never see heaven.—Heaven's door is bolted on the unholy, Heb. xii. 14.—There is another place provided for the unholy impure goats.
Mot. 2. Ye will never attain holiness, if ye come not to Christ for it. How can ye think to thrive following another device than God's for your end ? Ye may do what ye can to reform, ye may bind yourselves with vows to be holy, watch against sin, and press your hearts with the most affecting considerations of heaven, hell, &c. but ye shall as soon bring water out of the flinty rock, as holiness out of all these, till ye believe and unite with Christ. Consider,
1. While ye are out of Christ, ye are under the curse ; and is it possible for the cursed tree to bring forth the fruit of holiness?
2. Can ye be holy without sanctifying influences, or can ye expect that these shall be conveyed to you otherwise than through a Mediator, by his Spirit ?
3. Ye have nothing wherewith to produce holiness. The most skilful musician cannot play unless his instrument be in tune. The lame man, if he were ever so willing, cannot run till he be cured. Ye are under an utter impotency, by reason of the corruption of your nature.
Lastly, If ye will come to Christ, ye shall be made holy. There is a fulness of merit and spirit in him for sanctification. Come then to the fountain of holiness. The worst of sinners may be sanctified · this way, 1 Cor. vi. 11.
Wherefore be persuaded of your utter inability to sanctify yourselves, and receive Christ for sanctification, as he is offered to you; and thus alone shall you attain to holiness both in heart and life.
OF THE BENEFITS FLOWING FROM JUSTIFICATION, ADOPTION,
Rom. v. 1, 2.—Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace
with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
THERE are three sorts of benefits belonging to the justified, adopted, and sanctified. (1.) Some in this life they partake of. (2.) Some at death. (3.) Some at the resurrection. As for those in this life, we are told what they are in that question, • What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification ? Ans. Assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance therein to the end.' These are divided into two sorts. (1.) Some that flow from the sense of our justification, &c. (2.) Some from the being of it. Of the former, the Catechism takes notice of three, viz, assurance, peace, joy. All which are held out in the text as benefits coming through justification. Here observe,
1. Justification as a spring of other benefits. It is a leading mercy, it brings many others along with it. In it guilt is removed ; and that being removed, a stream of mercies flows from heaven into the soul.
2. The benefits flowing from it.
(1.) Peace with God, or towards God; i. e, not only reconciliation with God, the cause of the quarrel being taken away ; but peace of conscience, peace within, when we look towards God, arising from the sense of our justification and reconciliation. But all this is owing to Christ, who brought us into the state of reconciliation, called this grace wherein we stand.
(2.) Assurance of eternal happiness : Rejoice in hope of the glory of God; i. e. in the glory of God we hope for. They are so sure of that happiness, that they rejoice in the view of it, as if they were actually carried into it. And assurance of God's love, ver. 5.
(3.) Spiritual joy: We rejoice in hope of the glory of God; that is, We glory or joy in the Lord, upon this hope.
The text evidently affords this doctrine, viz.
Doct. ' Assurance, spiritual peace, and joy, are benefits flowing from a state of justification.'
I. OF ASSURANCE.
In speaking to the first, namely, assurance, I will shew,
IV. The fruits of it, whereby it may be discerned from presumption.
V. The necessity of it.
1. Objective assurance, whereby the special love of God to a saint, and his eternal salvation, are sure in themselves, 2 Tim. ii. 19. • The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.'—This is never wanting, whether the the child of God know it or not. Though they raze foundations of hope at some times, yet God never razes his.
2. Subjective assurance, whereby a child of God is assured that God loves him with a special love, and that he shall certainly partake of eternal glory, Gal. ii. 20. “Who loved me, and gave himself for me,' says Paul. This is not a wavering hope, or conjecture, but an infallible certainty. This is the assurance we treat of.
II. I shall shew that a child of God may have this assurance.
1. A believer may know that he has relative grace, that he is justified and therefore shall never come into condemnation, Rom. v. 1, &c. Though he cannot ascend to heaven, and at first read his name in the book of God's decrees; yet by comparing the book of God and the book of his own soul, he may know that he is called and elected, 2 Pet. i. 10. and therefore shall certainly be saved.
2. He may be assured that he has inherent grace, that he believes as sure as he breathes, 2 Tim. i. 12. that he has love to the Lord unfeigned, and can appeal to Omniscience on the head, John xxi. 15. as Peter did when he said, “ Thou who knowest all things, knowest that I love thee.' And believing that such are loved of God, and shall certainly persevero, for which he has the testimony of the word, he may be assured that he is the happy man.
3. It is the oslice of the Spirit of God to assure believers of this. He has given us the word for this end: He is given to lead his people into all truth, particularly to discover the grace of God to them, and in them, 1 Cor. ii. 12. to witness with their spirits to their adoption, Rom. viii. 16. to be a seal, which is properly to ensure an evidence, Eph. iv. 30. and an earnest, a part of the price and pledge of the whole, 2 Cor. v. 5.
Lastly, Many of the saints have attained it; as Job, chap. xix. 25. “ For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth,' Psal. xxiii. ult. Surely goodness and merey shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever,' 2 Tim. ir. 8. · Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous Judge shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.' And others too, besides scripture-saints.
III. I shall shew the nature of this assurance, and how a saint comes to be assured. By what is said, ye may perceive that this is a work of the Spirit, in the hearts of the saints, without whose efficacy no man can attain it. We may take it up in these three things.
1. The Spirit shining on his own word, particularly the promises, in the Bible, the child of God firmly believes them, Heb. vi. 11, 12. The Lord has testitied in his word, that such and such persons, for instance, that love him, Prov. viii. 17. are universal in obedience ; are poor in spirit, Matt. v. 3. are beloved of him, and shall certainly be saved. The Spirit says in effect, by the light he gives the believer into the divine authority of that word, This is my word. And as such the child of God is firmly persuaded of the certainty of it, as if a voice from the throne of God would make these promises and declarations. This is the ground-work of assurance.
2. The Spirit shining on his own work of grace in the believer's heart, the believer discerns it, 1 Cor. ii. 12. The Spirit of God clears up to the man the truth of grace in him ; lets him see that he, for instance, loves God, &c. and so says in effect, This is my work. Hence he is enabled to conclude assuredly, that the Lord loves him, he shall not be ashamed, and that the kingdom of God is his. This assurance is stronger or weaker according to the degree of light that shines upon the work of grace in the heart to discover it.
3. Lastly, The Spirit of the Lord sometimes gives a joint testimony with the spirits of the saints, to the truth of that conclusion, Rom. viii. 16. that they are the children of God. The testimony of the believer's own spirit is weak in itself, and Satan can find many ways to invalidate it; therefore the Spirit witnesses to them the truth of the conclusion, whereby they are raised to a full persuasion of it.
IV. I shall shew the fruit of this assurance, whereby it may be discerned from presumption.
1. It inflames the soul with love to the Lord. As one flame begets another, so the assurance of God's love to us will add new