you may seek holiness and righteousness only by believing in Christ and
walking in Him by faith, according to the former directions, take
encouragement from the great advantages of this way and the excellent
properties of it.
This direction may
serve as an epilogue or conclusion by stirring us up unto a lively and
cheerful embracing those gospel rules forementioned by several weighty
motives. Many are kept from seeking godliness because they know not the way to
it; or the way that they think of seems uncouth, unpleasant, disadvantageous
and full of discouragement, like the way through the wilderness to Canaan,
which wearied the Israelites and occasioned their many murmurings (Num. 21:4).
But this is a way so
good and excellent that those that have the true knowledge of it, and desire
heartily to be godly, cannot dislike it. I shall show the excellency of it in
several particulars. But you should first call to mind what is the way I have
taught, namely, union and fellowship with Christ, and by faith in Christ, as
discovered in the gospel; not by the law, or in a natural condition, or by
thinking to get it before we come to Christ, to procure Christ by it - which
is striving against the stream; but that we must first apply Christ and His
salvation to ourselves for our comfort, and that by confident faith; and then
walk by that faith, according to the new man, in Christ, and not as in a
natural condition; and use all means of holiness rightly for this end. Now,
that this is an excellent advantageous way appears by the following desirable
properties of it.
Firstly, it has this
property that it tends to the abasement of all flesh and exaltation of God
only, in His grace and power through Christ. And so it is agreeable to God's
design in all His works and the end that He aims at (Rom. 11:6; Isa. 2:17;
Ezek. 36:21-23, 31, 32; Ps. 145:4); and a fit means for the attaining the end
that we ought to aim at in the first place, which is the hallowing,
sanctifying and glorifying God's name in all things; and is the first and
chief petition (Matt. 6:9); and is the end of all our actings (1 Cor. 10:31);
and was the end of giving the law (Rom. 3:19, 20). God made all things for
Christ, and would have Him have the preeminence in all (Col. 1:17, 18), that
the Father may be glorified in the Son (John
). And this property of it is a great argument to prove that it is the way of
God, and has the character of His image stamped on it. We may say that it is
like Him and a way according to His heart, as Christ proves His doctrine to be
of God by this argument (John 7:18). And Paul proves the doctrine of
justification, and of sanctification, and salvation by grace through faith to
be of God, because it excludes all boastings of the creature (Rom.
, 28; 1 Cor.
, 30, 31; Eph. 3:8, 9). This property appears evidently in the mystery of
sanctification by Christ in us through faith. For
1. It shows that we
can do nothing by our natural will, or any power of the flesh, and that God
will not enable us to do anything that way (Rom. 7:18), however nature is
stirred up by the law or natural helps (Gal. 3:11, 21). And so it serves to
work self-loathing and abasement, and to make us look on nature as desperately
wicked, and past cure, and not to be reformed, but put off by putting on
Christ. It remains wicked, and only wicked, after we have put on Christ.
2. It shows that all
our good works and living to God are not by our own power and strength at all,
but by the power of Christ living in us by faith; and that God enables us to
act, not merely according to our natural power, as He enables carnal men and
all other creatures, but above our own power by Christ united to us and in us
through the Spirit. All men live, move and have their being in Him and, by His
universal support and maintenance of nature in its being and activity, they
act (Heb. 1:3), so that the glory of their actings as creatures belongs to
God. But God acts more immediately in His people, who are one flesh and one
Spirit with Christ, and act not by their own power, but by the power of the
Spirit of Christ in them, as closely united to Him, and being the living
temples of His Spirit; so that Christ is the immediate principal agent of all
their good works, and they are Christ's works properly, who works all our
works in us and for us; and yet they are the saints' works by fellowship with
Christ, by whose light and power the faculties of the saints do act, and are
acted (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:16, 17; Col. 1:11); so that we are to ascribe all our
works to God in Christ and thank Him for them as free gifts (1 Cor. 15:10;
Phil. 1:11). God enables us to act, not by ourselves, as He does others, but
by Himself. The wicked are supported in acting only according to their own
nature, so they act wickedly; thus all are said to live, move and have their
being in God (Acts 17:28). But God enables us to conquer sin, not by
ourselves, but by Himself (Hos. 1:7); and the glory of enabling us does not
only belong to Him, which the Pharisee could not but ascribe to him (Luke
), but also the glory of doing all in us. And yet we work as one with Christ,
even as He works as one with the Father, by the Father working in Him. We live
as branches by the juice of the vine, act as members by the animal spirits of
the head, and bring forth fruit by marriage to Him as our husband, and work in
the strength of Him as the living bread that we feed on. He is all in the new
man (Col. 3:11), and all the promises are made good in Him (2 Cor.
Secondly, it has
this property that it consists well with other doctrines of the gospel; which
contrary errors do not. And hence this is the way to confirm us in many other
points of the gospel, and therefore appears to be true by its harmony with
other truths, and fit linking with them in the same golden chain of the
mystery of godliness, and evidences them to be true by their harmony with it.
I have showed that men's mistaking the true way of sanctification is the cause
of perverting the Scripture in other points of faith, and of declining from
the truth to Popish, Socinian and Arminian tenets, because men cannot
seriously take that for truth which they judge not to be according to
godliness. But this way of holiness will evidence that these gospel doctrines,
which they refuse, are according to godliness; and that those tenets, which a
blind zeal for holiness moves them to embrace, are indeed contrary to
holiness, however Satan appears to their natural understandings as an angel of
light in such tenets. Whatever men say, it is certain that legalists are
indeed the Antinomians, I shall instance in some truths confirmed by it.
1. The doctrine of
original sin, that is, not only the guilt of Adam's sin and a corrupt nature,
but utter impotency to do spiritual good, and proneness to sin, which is death
to God, in all people according to nature (Ps. 51:5; Rom. 5:12). There is an
utter inability to keep the law truly in any point. Many deny this doctrine,
because they think that if people believe this they will excuse their sins by
it, and be apt to despair of all striving to do good works and leave off all
endeavours and grow licentious, and they think it will be more conducing to
godliness to hold and teach either that there is no original sin or corruption
derived from Adam, or at least, it is done away, either in the world by
universal redemption, or in the church by baptism; and that there is free will
restored, whereby people are able to incline themselves to do good, that men
may be more encouraged to set upon good works and their neglect made
inexcusable. All this is indeed forcible against seeking and endeavouring for
holiness by the free will and power of nature, which is the way of
endeavouring, which I directed you to avoid, and if there were no new way to
holiness since the Fall, original sin might make us despair; but there is a
new birth, a new heart, a new creature, and therefore we have directed you to
the seeking of holiness by the Spirit of Christ, and willing good freely by a
spiritual power, as new creatures, partakers of a divine nature in Christ.
Yea, it is necessary to know the first Adam, that we may know the second (Rom.
5:12); to believe the Fall and original sin, that we may be stirred up to fly
to Christ by faith for holiness by free gift, knowing that we cannot attain it
by our own power and free will (2 Cor. 1:9; Matt. 9:12, 13; Rom. 7:24, 25; 2
Cor. 3:5; Eph. 5:14). There were no need of a new man or a new creation, if
the old were not without strength and life (John 3:5, 6; Eph. 2:8).
deadness cannot hinder God's working faith, and hungerings and thirstings
after Christ by the Spirit through the gospel, in those that God chooses to
walk holily and blamelessly before Him in love (1 Thess. 1:4, 5; Acts 26:18).
And so we are made alive in a new head and become branches of another vine,
living to God by the Spirit, not by nature.
2. It confirms us in
the doctrine of predestination, which many deny, because they say it takes men
off from endeavours, as fruitless, by telling men that all events are
predetermined. This argument would be more forcible against endeavours by the
power of our own free will, but not at all against endeavours for holiness by
the operation of God, giving us faith and all holiness by His own Spirit
working in us through Christ. We are to trust on Christ for the grace of the
elect and God's goodwill towards men (Matt. 3 17; Luke ; Ps. 106:4, 5). Election by grace destroys seeking by works, but not by grace
11:5, 6). And we are here taught to seek for salvation only in the way of the
elect; and we may conclude that holiness is to be had by God's will, and not
by our own; and it may move us to desire holiness by the will of God (Rom.
9:16; Ps. 110:3). And seeing it appears by this doctrine of sanctification
through Christ that we are God's workmanship, as to all the good wrought in us
(Phil. 2:12, 13; Eph. 2:10), we may well admit that He has appointed His
pleasure from eternity without infringing the natural liberty of our corrupt
wills, which reach not unto good works (Acts 15:18, cf. 36). Man's natural
free will may well consist with God's decree, as in paradise, Decretum
3. It confirms us in
the true doctrine of justification and reconciliation with God by faith,
relying on the merits of Christ's blood, without any works of our own, and
without considering faith as a work to procure favour by the righteousness of
the act, but only as a hand to receive the gift, or as the very eating and
drinking of Christ actually, rather than any kind of condition entitling us to
Him as our food.
This great doctrine
of the gospel many hate, as breaking the strongest bounds of holiness and
opening a way to all licentiousness; for they reckon that the conditionality
of works to attain God's favour and avoid His wrath, and the necessity of them
to salvation are the most necessary and effectual impulsives to all holiness;
and they account that the other doctrine opens the floodgates to
licentiousness. And truly this consideration would be of some weight, if
people were to be brought to holiness by moral suasion, and their natural
endeavours stirred up by the terms of the law and by slavish fears and
mercenary hopes; or the force of these motives would be altogether enervated
by the doctrine of justification by free grace.
But I have already
shown that a man, being a guilty dead creature, cannot be brought to serve God
out of love by the force of any of these motives; and that we are not
sanctified by any of our own endeavours to work holiness in ourselves, but
rather by faith in Christ's death and resurrection, even the same whereby we
are justified; and that the urging of the law stirs up sin; and that freedom
from it is necessary to all holiness, as the apostle teaches (Rom. 6:11, 14;
7:4, 5). And this way of sanctification confirms the doctrine of justification
by faith, as the apostle informs (
8:1). For if we are sanctified, and so restored to the image of God and life
by the Spirit, through faith, it is evident that God has taken us into His
favour and pardoned our sins by the same faith, without the law; or else we
should not have the fruits and effects of His favour thereby to our eternal
salvation (Rom. 8:2). Yea, His justice would not admit His giving life without
works, if we were not made righteous in Christ by the same faith. And we
cannot trust to have holiness freely given us by Christ upon any rational
round, except we can also trust on the same Christ for free reconciliation and
forgiveness of sins for our justification; neither can guilty cursed
creatures, that cannot work by reason of their deadness under the curse, be
brought to a rational love of God, except they apprehend His loving them first
freely, without works (1 John 4:19).
The great objection
and reason of so many controversies and books written about it is because they
think that men will trust to be saved, however they live. But sanctification
is an effect of justification, and flows from the same grace; and we trust for
them both by the same faith, and for the latter in order to the former. And
such a faith, be it ever so confident, tends not to licentiousness, but to
holiness; and we grant that justification by grace destroys holiness by legal
endeavours, but not by grace. So that there is no need to live a Papist, and
die an Antinomian.
4. It confirms us in
the doctrine of real union with Christ, so plentifully held forth in
Scripture, which doctrine some account a vain notion, and cannot endure it,
because they think it works not holiness, but presumption; whereas I have
shown that it is absolutely necessary for the enjoyment of spiritual life and
holiness, which is treasured up in Christ - and that so inseparably that we
cannot have it without a real union with Him (2 Cor. 13:5; 1 John 5:12; John
6:53; 15:5; 1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 3:11). The members and branches cannot live
without union with the vine and head; nor the stones be part of the living
temple, except they be really joined mediately or immediately to the
5. It confirms us in
the doctrine of certain final perseverance of the saints (John
Thirdly, it has this
excellent property , that it is the never-failing, effectually powerful, alone
sufficient and sure way to attain to true holiness. They that have the truth
in them find it; and the truly humbled find it. People strive in vain, when
they seek it any other way; therefore venture with the lepers, else you die (2
Kings 7; Isa. 55:2, 3, 7). All other ways either stir up sin, or increase
despair in you: as seeking holiness by the law and working under the curse
does, and breeds but slavish and hypocritical obedience at best, and restrains
sin only instead of mortifying it (Gal. 4:25). The Jews sought another way and
could not attain it (Rom. 9). And all that seek it another way shall lie down
in sorrow (Isa. 50:11). And that,
1. Because as we are
under the law in our natural state, we are dead and children of wrath (Eph.
2:1, 3). And the law curses us, instead of helping us (Gal. 3:10), and gives no life by its obligation (Gal. ). And we cannot work holiness in ourselves (Rom.
5:6). So that a humble person finds it in vain to seek holiness by the law or
his own strength, for the law is weak through our flesh. Seeking a pure life
without a pure nature is building without a foundation. And there is no
seeking a new nature from the law, for it bids us make brick without straw,
and says to the cripple, 'Walk', without giving any strength.
3. In this way only
God is reconciled of us, even in Christ (2 Cor. ; Eph. 1:7). And so He loves us and is a fit object of our love (1 John ). And so in this way only we have a new and divine nature by the Spirit of
Christ in us, effectually carrying us forth to holiness with life and love
(Rom. 8:5; Gal. 5:17; 2 Peter 1:3, 4), and have new hearts according to the
law, so that we serve God heartily according to the new nature, and cannot but
serve Him (1 John 3:9). So that there is a sure foundation for godliness and
love to God with all our heart, might and soul; and sin is not only
restrained, but mortified; and not only the outside made clean, but the
inside, and the image of God renewed; and holy actings surely follow. We sin
not according to the old nature, though we are not perfect in degree because
of the old nature.
Fourthly, it is a
most pleasant way to those that are in it (Prov. 3:17), and that in several respects.
1. It is a most
plain way, easy to be found, to one that sees his own deadness under the law,
and is so renewed in the spirit of his mind as to know and be persuaded of the
truth of the gospel. Though such may be troubled and pestered with many legal
thoughts and workings, yet, when they seriously consider things, the way is so
plain that they think it folly and madness to go any other way, so that the
'wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein' (Isa. 35: 8; Prov. 8:9).
The enlightened soul cannot think of another way, when truly humbled (Prov:
2. It is easy to
those that walk in it by the Spirit, though it be difficult to get into it by
reason of the opposition of the flesh, or devil, scaring us or seducing us
from it. Here you have holiness as a free gift received by faith, an act of
the mind and soul. Whosoever will may come, take it and drink freely, and
nothing is required but a willing mind (John
3. It is a way of
4. It is a way that
is paved with love, like Solomon's chariot (S. of S. 3:10
). We are to set God's loving-kindness and all the gifts of His love still
before our eyes (Ps. 26:3), Christ's death, resurrection, intercession before
our eyes, which breed peace, joy, hope, love (Rom. 15:13; Isa. 35:10). You
must believe, for your justification, adoption, the gift of the Spirit and a
future inheritance, your death and resurrection with Christ. In believing for
these things, your whole way is adorned with flowers and has these fruits
growing on each side, so that it is through the garden of Eden, rather than
the wilderness of Sinai (Acts 9:31). It is the office of the Spirit our guide,
to be our comforter, and not a spirit of bondage (Rom. 8:15). Peace and joy are great duties in this way (Phil. 4:4-6). God does not
drive us on with whips and terrors, and by the rod of the schoolmaster, the
law, but leads us and wins us to walk in His ways by allurements (S. of S.
1:3; Hos. 11:3, 4). See such allurements (2 Cor.; 7:1; Rom. 12:1).
5. Our very moving,
acting, walking in this way is a pleasure and delight. Every good work is done
with pleasure; the very labour of the way is pleasant. Carnal men wish duties
were not necessary, and they are burdensome to them; but they are pleasant to
us, because we do not gain holiness by our own carnal wrestling with our lusts
and crossing them out of carnal fear, with regret and grief, and setting
conscience and the law against them, to hinder their actings; but we act
naturally, according to the new nature and perform our new spiritual desires
by walking in the ways of God through Christ; and our lusts and pleasures in
sin are not only restrained, but taken away in Christ, and pleasures in
holiness freely given us and implanted in us (Rom. 8:5; Gal. 5:17, 24; John
4:34; 40:8; 119:14, 16, 20). We have a new taste and savour, love and liking
by the Spirit of Christ, and look on the law not as a burden, but as our
privilege in Christ.
Fifthly, it is a
high exalted way, above all other ways. Unto this way the prophet Habakkuk is
exalted when, upon the failure of all visible helps and supports, he resolves
to 'rejoice in the Lord', and 'joy in the God of his salvation', and making
God his strength by faith, 'his feet should be as hinds' feet', and 'should
walk upon His high places' (Hab. 3:18, 19). These are the 'heavenly places in
Christ Jesus' that God has set us in, being quickened and raised up together
with Him (Eph. 2:5, 6).
1. We live high
here, for 'we live not after the flesh, but after the Spirit', and Christ in
us with all His fullness (
8: 1, 2; Gal.
). We walk in fellowship with God dwelling in us and walking in us (2 Cor.
, 18). And therefore our works are of higher price and excellency than the
works of others, because they are 'wrought in God' (John
), and are the fruits of God's Spirit (Gal.
). And we may know that they are accepted and good by our gospel principles,
which others have not (Rom. 7:6).
2. We are enabled to
the most difficult duties (Phil. 4:1, 3), and nothing is too hard for us. See
the great works done by faith (Heb. 11; Mark
) - works that carnal men think folly and madness to venture upon (they are so
great), and honourable achievements in doing and suffering for Christ.
3. We walk in an
honourable state with God, and on honourable terms - not as guilty creatures,
to get our pardon by works; not as bond-servants, to earn our meat and drink;
but as sons and heirs, walking towards the full possession of that happiness
to which we have a title, and so we have much boldness in God's presence (Gal.
4:6, 7). We can approach nearer to God than others, and walk before Him
confidently without slavish fear, not as strangers, but as such who are of His
own family (Eph.
4. It is the way
only of those that are honourable and precious in the eyes of the Lord, even
His elect and redeemed ones, whose special privilege it is to walk therein:
'No unclean beast goes there' (Isa. 35:8, 9). No carnal man can walk in this
way, but only those that are taught of God (John
-46). Nor would it have come into their hearts without divine revelation.
5. The preparing
this way cost Christ very dear. It is a costly way (Heb. 10:19, 20; 1 Peter
6. It is a good old
way, wherein you may follow the footsteps of all the flock.
It is the way to perfection. It leads to such holiness which shall, in a
while, be absolutely perfect. It differs only in the degree and manner of
manifestation from the holiness of heaven: there the saints live by the same
Spirit, and the same God is all in all (1 Cor.