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The GOSPEL MYSTERY OF

SANCTIFICATION

 

Walter Marshall

 


Chapter Two

Several endowments and qualifications are necessary to enable us for the immediate practice of the law. Particularly we must have an inclination and propensity of our hearts thereunto; and therefore we must be well persuaded of our reconciliation with God, and of our future enjoyment of the everlasting heavenly happenings, and of sufficient strength both to will and perform all duties acceptably, until we come to the enjoyment of that happiness.

Those means that are next to the attainment of the grand end aimed at are first to be discovered, that we may learn how to get them by other means, expressed in the following directions. Therefore I have named here several qualifications and endowments that are necessary to make up that holy frame and state of the soul by which it is furnished and enabled to practice the law immediately; and that not only in the beginning, but in the continuation of that practice. And, therefore, note diligently that these endowments must continue in us during the present life, or else our ability for a holy life will be lost; and they must be before practice, not in any distance of time, but only as the cause is before the effect. I do not say that I have named particularly all such necessary qualifications; but this much I dare say, that he that gains these may, by the same means, gain any other that should be ranked with them; and this is a matter worthy of our serious consideration, for few understand that any special endowments are required to furnish us for a holy practice, more than for other voluntary actions. The first Adam had excellent endowments bestowed on him for a holy practice when he was first created according to the image of God; and the second Adam had endowments more excellent, to enable Him for a harder task of obedience. And, seeing obedience is grown more difficult, by reason of the opposition and temptations that it meets with since the fall of Adam, we, that are to be imitators of Christ, had need have very choice endowments, as Christ had - at least as good, or something better than Adam had at first, as our work is harder than his. What king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first, and consults whether he is able, with ten thousand, to meet him that comes against him with twenty thousand? And shall we dare to rush into battle against all the powers of darkness, all worldly terrors and allurements, and our own inbred domineering corruptions, without considering whether we have sufficient spiritual furniture to stand in the evil day? Yet many content themselves with such an ability to will and do their duty, as they would have to be given to men universally; by which they are no better enabled for the spiritual battle than the generality of the world, that lie vanquished under the wicked one; and therefore their standing is not at all secured by it. It is a hard matter to find what this universal ability is, that so many contend so earnestly for, of what it consists, by what means it is conveyed to us and maintained.

Bodily agility has spirits, nerves, ligaments and bones to subsist by; but this spiritual universal ability seems to be some occult quality, that no sufficient account can be given how it is conveyed, or of what it is constituted. That none may deceive themselves, and miscarry in their enterprises for holiness, by depending on such a weak occult quality, I have here showed four endowments, of which a true ability for the practice of holiness must necessarily be constituted and by which it must subsist and be maintained. I intend to show afterwards by what means they are given to us, and whether the inclination or propensity here mentioned be perfect or imperfect. And they are of such a mysterious nature that some, who own the necessity of endowments to frame them for holiness, are prone to think that less than these will serve, and that some of these frame us rather for licentiousness than holiness, as they are here placed before any actual performance of the moral law; and that some things contrary to them would put us into a better frame for holiness. Against all such surmises, I shall endeavour such a demonstration of these endowments particularly as may gain the assent of right reason, insisting on them in the same order in which I have placed them in the direction.

In the first place, I assert that an inclination and propensity of heart to the duties of the law is necessary to frame and enable us for the immediate practice of them. And I mean not such a blind propensity as inanimate creatures and brutes have to their natural operations, but such a one as is fitting for intelligent creatures, by which they are, by the conduct of reason, prone and bent to approve and choose their duty, and averse to the practice of sin. And therefore I have intimated that the three other endowments mentioned in the direction are subservient to this as the chief of all, which are sufficient to make it a rational propensity. This is contrary to those that, out of zeal for obedience, but not according to knowledge, contend so earnestly for free will, as a necessary and sufficient endowment to enable us to perform our duty, when once we are convinced of it, and of our obligation to it; and that extol this endowment, as the greatest benefit that universal redemption has blessed all mankind with, though they consider this free will without any actual inclination to good. Yea, they cannot but acknowledge that, in most of mankind that have it, it is encumbered with an actual bent and propensity of the heart altogether to evil. Such a free will as this is can never free us from slavery to sin and Satan, and fit us for the practice of the law; and therefore is not worthy of the pains of those that contend so hotly for it. Neither is the will so free as is necessary for the any of holiness, until it is endued with an inclination and propensity thereunto; as may appear by the following arguments.

1. The duties of the law are of such a nature that they cannot possibly be performed while there is wholly an aversion or mere indifferency of the heart to the performance of them, and no good inclination and propensity towards the practice of them, because the chief of all the commandments is to love the Lord with our whole heart, might and soul; to love everything that is in Him; to love His will, and all His ways, and to like them as good. And all duties must be influenced in their performance by this love: we must delight to do the will of God; it must be sweeter to us than the honey or honeycomb (Ps. 40:8; Job 23:12 ; Ps. 63:1; 119:20; 19:10 ). And this love, liking, delight, longing, thirsting, sweet relishing must be continued to the end; and the first indeliberate motion of lust must be regulated by love to God and our neighbour; and sin must be lusted against (Gal. 5:17), and abhorred (Ps. 36:4). If it were true obedience (as some would have it) to love our duty only as a market man loves foul ways to the market, or as a sick man loves an unpleasant medicinal potion, or as a captive slave loves his hard work for fear of a greater evil - then it might be performed with averseness, or want of inclination; but we must love it, as the market man gain, as the sick man health, as pleasant meat and drink, as the captive liberty. Doubtless there can be no power in the will for this kind of service without an agreeableness of our inclination to the will of God, a heart according to His own heart, an aversion of our hearts from sin and a kind of antipathy against sin; for we know the proverb, 'Like loveth like.' There must be an agreeableness in the person or thing beloved to the disposition of the lover. Love to God must flow from a clean heart (1 Tim. 1:5), a heart cleaned from evil propensities and inclinations. And reason will tell us that the first motions of lust which fall not under our choice and deliberations cannot be avoided without a fixed propensity of the heart to holiness.

2. The image of God (in which God, according to His infinite wisdom, judged it suitable to frame the first Adam in righteousness, and true holiness, and uprightness) (Gen. 1:27; Eph. 4:24; Eccles. 7:29), consists in an actual bent and propensity of heart to the practice of holiness - not in a mere power of will to choose good or evil; for this; in itself, is neither holy nor unholy, but only a groundwork, on which either the image of God or of Satan may be drawn; nor in an indifference of propensity to the choice of sin or duty; for this is a wicked disposition in an intelligent creature that knows his duty, and fits us only to halt between God and Baal. God set Adam's soul at first wholly in a right bent and inclination, though Adam might act contrary to it if he would; as we may be prevailed on to do some things contrary to our natural inclinations, and it is easy to fail of our duty, though great preparation and furniture are required for the performance of it. The second Adam also, the Lord Jesus Christ, was born a holy thing (Luke 1:35 ), with a holy disposition of His soul, and propensity to goodness. And can we reasonably hope to rise to the life of holiness, from which the first Adam fell, or to be imitators of Christ, since duty is made so difficult by the Fall, if we are not renewed in a measure according to the same image of God, and enabled with such a propensity and inclination?

3. Original corruption (by which we are dead to God and godliness from the birth, and made willing slaves to the performance of all actual sins until the Son of God makes us free) consists in a propensity and inclination of the heart to sin, and averseness to holiness. Without this propensity to sin, what can that 'law of sin in our members' be, 'that wars against the law of our mind, and leads us captive to the service of sin'? (Rom. 7:23.) What is that poison in us, for which men may be called serpents, vipers? What is that spirit of whoredoms in men, by reason of which they will not frame their doings to turn to God? (Hos. 5:4.) How is the tree first corrupt, and then its fruit corrupt? (Matt. 12: 33.) How can man be said to be abominable and filthy, that drinks iniquity like water? (Job 15:16.) How should the mind of the flesh be continual enmity to the law of God? (Rom. 8:7.) I know there is also a blindness of understanding and other things belonging to original corruption which conduce to this evil propensity of the will; but yet this propensity itself is the great evil, the indwelling sin, which produces all actual sins and must of necessity be removed or restrained, by restoring that contrary inclination, in which the image of God consists; or else we shall be backward and reprobate to every good work, and whatever freedom the will has, it shall be employed only in the service of sin.

4. God restores His people to holiness, by giving to them 'a new heart, and a new spirit, and taking away the heart of stone out of their flesh, and giving them a heart of flesh' (Ezek. 36:26, 27); and He circumcises their heart to love Him with their whole heart and soul. And He requires that we should be transformed 'in the renewing of our mind, that we may prove what is His acceptable will' (Rom. 12:2). And David prays, for the same end, 'that God would create in him a clean heart, and renew a right spirit in him' (Ps. 51:10). If anyone can judge that this new, clean, circumcised heart, this heart of flesh, this new right spirit, is such a one as has no actual inclination and propensity to good, but only a power to choose good or evil, undeservedly called free will, with a present inclination to evil, or an indifference of propensity to both contraries, it will not be worth my labour to convince such a judgement. Only let him consider whether David could account such a heart to be clean and right, when he prayed (Ps. 119:36), 'Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness.'

The second endowment necessary to enable us for the immediate practice of holiness, and concurring with the two other that follow to work in us a rational propensity to this practice, is that we be well persuaded of our reconciliation with God. We must reckon that the breach of amity, which sin has made between God and us, is made up by a firm reconciliation to His love and favour. And in this I include the great benefit of justification, as the means by which we are reconciled to God, which is described in Scripture, either by forgiving our sins, or by the imputation of righteousness to us (Rom. 4:5-7); because both are contained in one and the same justifying act - as one act of illumination comprehends expulsion of darkness and introduction of light; one act of repentance contains mortification of sin and vivification to righteousness; and every motion from anything to its contrary is but one and the same, though it may be expressed by divers names, with respect to either of the two contrary terms, the one of which is abolished, the other introduced by it. This is a great mystery (contrary to the apprehensions, not only of the vulgar, but of some learned divines) that we must be reconciled to God and justified by the remission of our sins and imputation of righteousness, before any sincere obedience to the law, that we may be enabled for the practice of it. They account that this doctrine tends to the subversion of a holy practice, and is a great pillar of Antinomianism, and that the only way to establish sincere obedience is to make it rather a condition to be performed before our actual justification and reconciliation with God. Therefore some late divines have thought fit to bring the doctrine of former Protestants concerning justification to their anvil, and to hammer it into another form, that it might be more free from Antinomianism and effectual to secure a holy practice. But their labour is vain and pernicious, tending to Antinomian profaneness, or painted hypocrisy at best; neither can the true practice or painted be secure, except the persuasion of our justification and reconciliation with God be first obtained without works of the law, that we may be enabled in this way to do them; as I shall now prove by several arguments, intending also to show in the following directions that such a persuasion of the love of God as God gives to His people tends only to holiness, though a mispersuasion of it is, in many, an occasion of licentiousness.

1. When the first Adam was framed for the practice of holiness at his creation, he was highly in the favour of God, and had no sin imputed to him, and he was accounted righteous in the sight of God, according to his present state, because he was made upright according to God's image. And there is no reason to doubt but that these qualifications were his advantage for a holy practice, and the wisdom of God judged them good for that end and, as soon as he lost them, he became dead in sin. The second Adam also, in our nature, was the beloved of the Father, accounted righteous in the sight of God, without the imputation of any sin to Him, except what His office was to bear on the behalf of others. And can we reasonably expect to be imitators of Christ, by performing more difficult obedience than the first Adam's was before the Fall, except the like advantages be given to us by reconciliation and remission of sins and imputation of a righteousness given by God to us, when we have none of our own?

2. Those that know their natural deadness under the power of sin and Satan are fully convinced that, if God leave them to their own hearts, they can do nothing but sin; and that they can do no good work, except it please God, of His great love and mercy, to work it in them (John 8:36; Phil. 2:13; Rom. 8:7, 8). Therefore, that they may be encouraged and rationally inclined to holiness, they must hope that God will work savingly in them. Now, I leave it to considerate men to judge whether such a hope can be well grounded, without a good persuasion of such a reconciliation and saving love of God to us as does not depend on any precedent goodness of our works, but is a cause sufficient to produce them effectually in us. Yea, we know further (if we know ourselves sufficiently) that our death in sin proceeded from the guilt of the first sin of Adam, and the sentence denounced against it (Gen. 2:17); and that it is still maintained in us by the guilt of sin and the curse of the law; and that spiritual life will never be given us, to free us from that dominion, except this guilt and curse be removed from us; which is done by actual justification (Gal. 3:13, 14; Rom. 6:14). And this is sufficient to make us despair of living to God in holiness while we apprehend ourselves to be under the curse and wrath of God, by reason of our transgressions and sins still lying on us (Ezek. 33:10).

3. The nature of the duties of the law is such as requires an apprehension of our reconciliation with God, and His hearty love and favour towards us for the doing of them. The great duty is love to God with our whole heart, and not such a contemplative love as philosophers may have to the object of sciences, which they are concerned in no further than to please their fancies in the knowledge of them; but a practical love, by which we are willing that God should be absolute Lord and Governor of us and all the world, to dispose of us and all others according to His will, as to our temporal and everlasting condition, and that He should be the only portion and happiness of all those that are happy; a love by which we like everything in Him as He is our Lord - His justice as well as any other attribute - without wishing or desiring that He were better than He is; and by which we desire that His will may be done on us and all others, whether prosperity or adversity, life or death; and by which we can heartily praise Him for all things, and delight in our obedience to Him, in doing His will, though we suffer that which is ever so grievous to us, even present death.

Consider these things well, and you may easily perceive that our spirits are not in a fit frame for the doing of them, while we apprehend ourselves under the curse and wrath of God, or while we are under prevailing suspicions that God will prove an enemy to us at last. Slavish fear may extort some slavish hypocritical performances from us, such as that of Pharaoh in letting the Israelites go, sore against his will. But the duty of love cannot be extorted and forced by fear, but it must be won, and sweetly allured by an apprehension of God's love and goodness towards us, as that eminent, loving and beloved disciple testifies. 'There is no fear in love, but perfect love thrusts out fear - because fear has torment, and he that fears has not been made perfect in love. We must love Him because He first loved us' (1 John 4: 18 ,19).

Observe here that we cannot be beforehand with God in loving Him, before we apprehend His love to us. And consult your own experience, if you have any true love to God, whether it were not wrought in you by a sense of God's love first towards you? All the goodness and excellency of God cannot render Him an amiable object to us, except we apprehend Him an agreeable good to us. I question not but the devils know the excellency of God's nature as well as our greatest metaphysical speculators, and this but fills them the more with tormenting horror and trembling, that is contrary to love (James 2:19). The greater God's excellency and perfection is, the greater evil He is to us, if He hates and curses us. And therefore the principle of self-preservation, deeply rooted in our natures, hinders us from loving that which we apprehend as our destruction. If a man is an enemy to us, we can love him for the sake of our loving reconciled God, because His love will make man's hatred to work for our good, but if God Himself is our enemy, for whose sake can we love Him? Who is there that can free us from the evil of His enmity and turn it to our advantage, until He is pleased to reconcile Himself to us?

4. Our conscience must of necessity be first purged from dead works, that we may serve the living God. And this is done by actual remission of sin, procured by the blood of Christ, and manifested to our consciences, as appeared by Christ's dying for this end (Heb. 9:14, 15; 10:1, 2, 4, 14, 17, 22). That conscience, by which we judge ourselves to be under the guilt of sin and the wrath of God, is accounted an evil conscience in Scripture, though it perform its office truly, because it is caused by the evil of sin, and will itself be a cause of our committing more sin, until it can judge us to be justified from all sin, and received in the favour of God. Love which is the end of the law must proceed from a good conscience, as well as from any other cleanness of heart (1 Tim. 1:5). David's mouth could not be opened to show forth the praise of God until he was delivered from bloodguiltiness (Ps. 51:14, 15). This evil guilty conscience, by which we judge that God is our enemy and that His justice is against us to our everlasting condemnation by reason of our sins, strongly maintains and increases the dominion of sin and Satan in us, and works most mischievous effects in the soul against godliness, even to bring the soul to hate God and to wish there were no God, no heaven, no hell, so we might escape the punishment due to us. It so disaffects people towards God, that they cannot endure to think, or speak, or hear of Him and His law, but strive rather to put Him out of their minds by fleshly pleasures and worldly employments. And thus they are alienated from all true religion, only binding it and stopping the mouth of it. It produces zeal in many outside religious performances, and also false religion, idolatry and the most inhuman superstitions in the world.

I have often considered by what manner of working any sin could effectually destroy the whole image of God in the first Adam, and I conclude it was by working first an evil guilty conscience in him, by which he judged that the just God was against him and cursed him for that one sin. And this was enough to work a shameful nakedness by disorderly lusts, a turning his love wholly from God to the creature, and a desire to be hidden from the presence of God (Gem. 3 8, 10) which was a total destruction of the image of God's holiness. And we have cause to judge that from the same cause proceeds the continual malice, rancour, rage and blasphemy of the devil and many notorious wicked men against God and godliness. Some may think job uncharitable in suspecting, not merely that his sons had sinned, but that they had been so abominably wicked as to curse God in their hearts (Job 1:5). But job well understood that if the guilt of any ordinary sin lies on the conscience it will make the soul to wish secretly that God was not, or that He were not so just a judge; which is a secret cursing of God that cannot be avoided until our consciences are purged from the guilt of sin, by the offering of Christ for us; which was then figured out by the burnt offerings of job for his sons. 

4. God has abundantly discovered to us in His Word that His method in bringing men from sin to holiness of life is first, to make them know that He loves them and that their sins are blotted out. When He gave the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai, He first discovered Himself to be their God, that had given them a sure pledge of His salvation by their delivery from Egypt, in the preface (Exod. 20:2). And during all the time of the Old Testament God was pleased to make the entrance into religion to be by circumcision, which was not only a sign, but also a seal of the righteousness of faith, by which God justifies people while they are considered as ungodly (Rom. 4:5, 11). And this seal was administered to children of eight days old, before they could perform any condition of sincere obedience, for their justification, that their furniture for a holy practice might be ready beforehand.

Furthermore, in the time of the Old Testament, God appointed divers washings, and the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, to prepare and sanctify them for other parts of His worship in His tabernacle and temple, to figure out His purging their consciences from dead works by the blood of Christ, that they might serve the living God (Heb. 9:10, 13, 14, 22). This, I say, was then figurative sanctification, as the word sanctification is taken in a large sense, comprehending all things that prepare us for the service of God, chiefly the remission of sin (Heb. 10:10, 14, 18). Though, if it is taken in a strict sense, respecting only our conformity to the law, it must necessarily be placed after justification, according to the usual method of Protestant divines. God also minded them of the necessity of purging away their guilt first, that their service might be acceptable, by commanding them to offer the sin offering before the burnt offering (Lev. 5:8; 16:3, 11). And lest the guilt of their sins should pollute the service of God, notwithstanding all their particular expiations, God was pleased to appoint a general atonement for all their sins one day every year, in which the scapegoat was 'to bear on him all their iniquities into an uninhabited land' (Lev. 16:22, 34).

Under the New Testament, God uses the same method, in loving us first, and washing us from our sins by the blood of Christ, that He may make us priests, to offer the sacrifices of praise and all good works to God, even the Father. He entered us into His service by washing away our sins in baptism; he feeds and strengthens us for His service by remission of sins, given to us in the blood of Christ at the Lord's Supper; He exhorts us to obey Him, because He has already loved us, and our sins are already pardoned. 'Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, even as also God forgave you in Christ. Then be mimics of God, as loved children, and walk in love, even as also Christ loved us' (Eph. 4:32; 5:1, 2). '1 write to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name's sake. Do not love the world or the things in the world' (1 John 2:12 , 15). I might quote abundance of texts of the same nature. We may clearly see by all this that God has accounted it a matter of great importance and has condescended to take wonderful care in providing plentiful means, both under the Old and New Testament, that His people might be first cleansed from guilt and reconciled to Himself, to fit them for the acceptable practice of holiness. Away then with all the contrary methods of the new divinity!

The third endowment necessary to enable us for the practice of holiness, without which a persuasion of our reconciliation with God would be of little efficacy to work in us a rational propensity to it, is that we be persuaded of our future enjoyment of the everlasting heavenly happiness. This must precede our holy practice, as a cause disposing and alluring us to it. This assertion has several sorts of adversaries to oppose it. Some account that a persuasion of our own future happiness, before we have persevered in sincere obedience, tends to licentiousness; and that the way to do good works is rather to make them a condition necessary for the procuring of this persuasion. Others condemn all works, that we are allured or stirred up to by the future enjoyment of the heavenly happiness, as legal, mercenary, flowing from self-love, and not from any pure love to God; and they figure out sincere godliness by a man bearing fire in one hand, to burn up heaven, and water in the other to quench hell; intimating that the true service of God must not proceed at all from hope of reward, or fear of punishment, but only from love. To establish the truth asserted, against the errors that are so contrary to it and to each other, I shall propose the ensuing considerations.

1. The nature of the duties of the law is such that they cannot be sincerely and universally practiced without this endowment. That this endowment must be present in us is sufficiently proved already by all that I have said concerning the necessity of the persuasion of our firm reconciliation with God by our justification, to prepare us for this practice; because that includes a persuasion of this future happiness, or else it is of little worth. All that I have to add here is that sincere obedience cannot rationally subsist, except it is allured, encouraged and supported by this persuasion. Let me, therefore, suppose a Sadducee, believing no happiness after this life, and put the question: 'Can such a one love God with his whole heart, might and soul?' Will he not be reasonable, rather to lessen and moderate his love towards God, lest he should be overmuch troubled to part with Him by death? We account it most reasonable to sit loose in our affections from things that we must part with. Can such a one be satisfied with the enjoyment of God as his happiness? Will he not rather account that the enjoyment of God and all religious duties are vanities, as well as other things, because in a little time we shall have no more benefit by them than if they had never been? How can such a one be willing to lay down his life for the sake of God when, by his death, he must part with God, as well as with other things? How can he willingly choose afflictions rather than sin, when he shall be more miserable in this life for it, and not at all happy hereafter? I grant, if afflictions come unavoidably on such a person, he may reasonably judge that patience is better for him than impatience, but it will displease him that he is forced to the use of such a virtue, and he will be prone to fret and murmur at his Creator, and to wish he had never been, rather than to endure such miseries and to be comforted only with vain transitory enjoyments. I think I have said enough to show how unfurnished such a man is for holiness. And he that will burn up heaven, and quench hell, that he may serve God out of love, thereby leaves himself little better furnished than the Sadducee. The one denies them, the other will not have them at all to be considered in this case.

2. The sure hope of the glory of heaven is made use of ordinarily by God, since the fall of Adam, as an encouragement to the practice of holiness, as the Scripture abundantly shows. Christ, the great pattern of holiness, 'for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame' (Heb. 12:2). And, though I cannot say that the first Adam had such a sure hope, to preserve him in innocency, yet he had, instead of it, the present possession of an earthly paradise and a happy estate in it, which he knew would last, if he continued in holiness, or be changed into a better happiness. The apostles did not faint under affliction, because they knew that it brought for them 'a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory' (2 Cor. 4:16 , 17). The believing Hebrews 'took joyfully the plundering of your goods - knowing in yourselves that you have better and more enduring riches in Heaven' (Heb. 10:34). The apostle Paul accounts all his sufferings unprofitable, were it not for a glorious resurrection, and that Christians would be of all men most miserable, and that the doctrine of the Epicures were rather to be chosen: 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.' And he exhorts the Corinthians to be 'abundant in the work of the Lord, knowing that their labor shall not be in vain in the Lord' (1 Cor. 15:58).

As worldly hope keeps the world at work in their various employments, so God gives His people the hope of His glory to keep them close to His service (Heb. 6:11, 12; 1 John 3:3). And it is such a sure hope as shall never make them ashamed (Rom. 5:5). Those that think it below the excellency of their love to work from a hope of the heavenly reward do in this way advance their love beyond the love of the apostles and primitive saints, and even of Christ Himself.

3. This persuasion of our future enjoyment of everlasting happiness cannot tend to licentiousness, if we understand well that perfect holiness is a necessary part of that happiness, and that though we have a title to that happiness by free justification an adoption, yet we must go to the possession of it in a way of holiness (1 John 3:1-3). Neither is it legal or mercenary to be moved by this persuasion, seeing the persuasion itself is not gotten by the works of the law, but by free grace through faith (Gal. 5:5). And, if it is a working from self-love, yet, for certain, it is not that carnal self-love which the Scripture condemns as the mother of sinfulness (2 Tim. 3:2), but a holy self-love, inclining us to prefer God above the flesh and the world, such as God directs us to when He exhorts us to save ourselves (Acts 2:40; 1 Tim. 4:16). And it is so far from being contrary to the pure love of God that it brings us to love God more purely and entirely. The more good and beneficial we apprehend God to us to all eternity , doubtless the more lovely God will be to us, and our affections will be the more inflamed towards Him. God will not be loved as a barren wilderness, a land of darkness to us, neither will He be served for nothing (Jer. 2:31). He would think it a dishonour to Him to be owned by us as our God, if He had not prepared for us a city (Heb. 11:16). And He draws us to love Him by the cords of a man, such cords as the love of man uses to be drawn by, even by His own love to us in laying His benefits before us (Hos. 11: 4). Therefore, the way for us to keep ourselves in the love of God is to look for His mercy to eternal life (Jude 21).

The last endowment, for the same end as the former, is that we will be persuaded of sufficient strength both to will and perform our duty acceptably, until we come to the enjoyment of the heavenly happiness. This is contrary to the error of those that account it sufficient if we have strength to practice holiness if we will, or to will it if we please; and this is the sufficient strength which they earnestly contend for as a great benefit bestowed on all mankind by universal redemption. It is also contrary to the error of those that think the practice of godliness and wickedness to be alike easy, excepting only some difficulty in the first alterations of vicious customs, and in bearing persecutions, which they account to be a rare case; since the kingdoms of the world have been brought to the profession of Christianity; or that think that God requires omen only to do their endeavour, that is, what they can do; and it is nonsense to say they cannot do what they can do. According to their judgement, it is needless to concern ourselves much about sufficient strength for holy practice. For the confirmation of the assertion against those errors take these arguments.

1. We are, by nature, dead in trespasses and sins, unable to will or do anything that is spiritually good, notwithstanding the redemption that is by Christ until we are actually quickened by Christ (Eph. 2:1; Rom. 8:7-9). Those that are sufficiently enlightened and humbled know themselves to be naturally in this case, and that they do not only want executive power to do good, but chiefly a heart to will it and to be pleased with it; and that, if God does not work in them both to will and to do, they shall neither will nor do anything pleasing to Him (Phil. 2:13); and that, if He leaves them to their own corruption, after He has begun the good work, they shall certainly prove vile apostates, and their latter end will be worse than their beginning. We may conclude from this that whoever can courageously attempt the practice of the law, without being well persuaded of a sufficient power by which he may be enabled to be heartily willing, as well as to perform when he is willing, until he has gone through the whole work of obedience acceptably, such a one was never yet truly humbled and brought to know the plague of his own heart; neither does he truly believe the doctrine of original sin, whatever formal profession he makes of it.

2. Those that think sincere conformity to the law, in ordinary cases, to be so very easy, show that they neither know it nor themselves. Is it an easy thing to wrestle, not against flesh only, but against principalities, powers and spiritual wickedness in high places? (Eph. 6:12.) Is it an easy thing not to lust or covet according to the tenth commandment? The apostle Paul found it so difficult to obey this commandment that his concupiscence prevailed the more by occasion of the commandment (Rom. 7:7, 8). Our work is not only to alter vicious customs, but to mortify corrupt natural affections which bred these customs; and not only to deny the fulfilling of sinful lusts, but to be full of holy love and desires. Yet even the restraining the execution of corrupt lusts and crossing them by contrary actings is, in many cases, like 'the cutting off a right hand, and plucking out a right eye' (Matt. 5:29, 30). If obedience is so easy, how did it come to pass that the heathens generally did those things, for which their own consciences condemned them as worthy of death? (Rom. 1:32.) And that many among us seek to enter into this strait gate, and are not able (Luke 13:24), and break so many vows and purposes of obedience and fall back to the practice of their lusts, though, in the meantime, the fears of eternal damnation press hard on their consciences?

As for those that find persecution for religion to be so rare a thing in late days, they have cause to be suspected that they are of the world, and therefore the world loves its own; else they would find that national profession of religion will not secure those that are truly godly from several sorts of persecutions. And suppose men do not persecute us for religion, yet there is great difficulty in bearing great injuries from men on other accounts, and losses, poverty, bodily pains, long diseases and untimely deaths from the ordinary providence of God, with such hearty love to God and to injurious men, for His sake, and such a patient acquiescence in His will, as the law of God requires. I acknowledge that the work of God is easy and pleasant to those whom God rightly furnishes with endowments for it; but those who assert it to be easy to men in their common condition show their imprudence in contradicting the general experience of heathens and Christians. Though many duties do not require much labour of body or mind, and might be done with ease, if we were willing; yet it is easier to remove a mountain than to move and incline the heart to will and affect the doing of them. I need not concern myself with those that account that all have sufficient strength for a holy practice, because they can do their endeavour, that is, what they can do; for God requires actual fulfilling His commands. What, if by our endeavours we can do nothing in any measure according to the rule, shall the law be put off with no performance? And shall such endeavours be accounted sufficient holiness? And what if we cannot so much as endeavour in a right way? If a man's ability were the measure of acceptable duty, the commands of the law would signify very little.

3. The wisdom of God has ever furnished people with a good persuasion of a sufficient strength that they might be enabled both to will and do their duty. The first Adam was furnished with such a strength; and we have no cause to think that he was ignorant of it, or that he needed to fear that he should be left to his own corruptions, because he had no corruptions in him, until he had produced them in himself by sinning against strength. When he had lost that strength, he could not recover the practice of holiness, until he was acquainted with a better strength, by which the head of Satan should be bruised (Gen. 3:15). Our Lord Christ, doubtless, knew the infinite power of His deity to enable Him for all that He was to do and suffer in our nature. He knew the Lord God would help Him, therefore He should not be confounded (Isa. 50:7). The Scripture shows what plentiful assurance of strength God gave to Moses, Joshua, Gideon, when He called them to great employments, and to the Israelites, when He called them to subdue the land of Canaan. Christ would have the sons of Zebedee to consider whether they were able to drink of His cup, and to be baptized with the baptism that He was baptized with (Matt. 20:22 ). Paul encourages believers to the life of holiness by persuading them that sin shall not prevail to get the dominion over them, because they are not under the law, but under grace (Rom. 6:13, 14). And he exhorts them to be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might, that they might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:10, 11). John exhorts believers not to love the world, nor the things of the world, because they were strong, and had overcome the wicked one (1 John 2:14, 15).

They that were called of God before this to work miracles were first acquainted with the gift of power to work them, and no wise man will attempt to do them without knowledge of the gift. Even so, when men that are dead in sin are called to do the works of a holy life, which are in them great miracles, God makes a discovery of the gift of power to them, that He may encourage them in a rational way to such a wonderful enterprise.

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