Page images

and in exercising spiritual graces upon him. Now, habitual sanctification consists in receiving grace from him : actual sanctification, in exercising spiritual graces upon him. Let none say, that seeing sanctification does not merit eternal life, it is of no use.

From this subject we may learn, that there is a great difference between true and counterfeit holiness. The one is substantial, the other is merely a shadow : the one springs from union with Christ, the great receptacle of the sanctifying Spirit, the other arises from a man's own spirit: the one proceeds from nature, the other from grace: the one includes an irreconcilable hatred of all sin, of secret sins, as well as those that are open ; the other only of some sins; the one flows from the supreme love of God, the other from self love.

Hence we may be informed, that none of our performances are good works but such as proceed from a sancti. fied heart. There cannot be a new life without a new heart, neither can there be a new heart without our being renewed in the whole man. None can love God in Christ but he whose emnity against him is slain in sanctification; and nothing can be deemed a good work but what springs from faith working by love. That is not genuine love which does not produce evangelical obedience; and that deserves not to be called evangelical obedience which springs not from supreme love to God.

Hence we may learn the way in which the true believer performs his duties. He performs them acceptably, though not perfectly ; in all their parts, though not perfectly in any part. David showed that he was sancti. fied, by fulfilling all the will of God, that is, every part of it. If you are sanctified, you yield obedience in all the parts of it, though not in all the degrees of those parts. Now, no formal professor performs it in this way; he comes short of the very parts of it. Besides, you perform it acceptably, though not perfectly. You show a good will to every duty, however difficult to be performed ; and if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted, for the sake of Christ, according to that which a man hath. Though you cannot perform duties perfectly, you can perform them sincerely; and though sincerity cannot be accepted in the affair of justification, it is accepted in the article of sanctification.

Hence see what we are to understand by perfection, as it is ascribed to saints in this world. We read that Job was perfect and upright, and that Hezekiah walked before God in truth, and with a perfect heart. But were these saints absolutely perfect ? No; their conduct showed that they were not. They and all God's sanctified ones are said to be perfect. As many as are perfect be thus minded.” They are perfect even in this world, with a subjective perfection: they are sanctified wholly in the whole man: they are perfect objectively : they have a regard to the whole law, and yield obedience to all its precepts without limitation; they are evangelically perfect, and truly sincere, and are going on to absolute perfection. Some of them are comparatively perfect; more perfect than they who are but children in knowledge, faith, and experience. Perfection, then, is ascribed to the saints while here in all these senses. Do not say, secure sinner, that none are perfect : if you be not perfect, in one or other of the senses of it, already mentioned, you are not yet sanctified.

Are believers renewed according to the image of God's dear Son ? Then see how highly they are honoured. What an inexpressible honour is it to bear the image of the second Adam ; to receive grace for grace out of his fulness ! The more spiritually and attentively the Christian contemplates the glory of the infinitely amiable Redeemer, the more of his image will be expressed on him. He shall attain more lively features of his glorious image. What an honour is it to resemble him who is worthy to receive all honour! Nothing can be more dishonourable than to resemble Satan ; nothing more honourable than to be conformed to Jesus Christ. God's holy ones are a delight to him: He delights to look upon them, and to shine

them. From what has been said, we may learn, that nothing can be more vain than for sinners to attempt this or the other good work, in order to gain a personal interest in Christ, or to entitle themselves to his righteousness and salvation. No performances can be pleasing or acceptable to God, but such as are done by one who is sanctified, and already interested in Jesus Christ. “ Without me ye can do nothing ;” nothing that can please God. Works proceeding from an unsanctified heart are far from pleasing him, and, as our reformers used to say, are no better than splendid sins. Besides, a personal interest in Christ is not procured by the sinner, but granted by God freely, granted to the chief of sinners, in a way of sovereign grace.


Hence we see reasons of special encouragement to disquieted and disconsolate believers. Your sanctification is the work of omnipotent grace; and therefore your strongest corruptions cannot hinder it or retard it for a moment; it is the work of infinitely free grace, and no unworthiness in you can prevent it.

Does sanctification include a perfection of the parts of renovation ? We may bence be informed what judgment we ought to form of such as pretend to sanctification, and yet are not renewed in the whole man ; we are to consider them as not truly sanctified. have a new life, but this does not prove them to be sanctified unless they have also a new nature. Some attain new notions ; they acquire new knowledge; but unless their knowledge be transforming, it does not accompany salvation.

Is sanctification the chief and leading part of salvation? Then we may learn what it is that constitutes the chief part of a sinner's misery ; it is the disconformity of his heart and life to a holy God. Alas! are there not many who say that they are sanctified, and yet are so far from accounting themselves miserable because of their love to soine reserved sin, that they think themselves happy in the indulgence of it! How miserable is that sinner who has no changes but from evil to evil! One will say, they are miserable indeed who are destitute of sanctification ; but though I am

Some may

But are you

deficient in many things, as the best of men are, I trust,
notwithstanding, that I am sanctified.
indeed sanctified? If

be, how comes it to pass

that you have such a passionate desire to the pleasures of sin, such love to present enjoyments, such enmity to holy persons, and such strong aversion from spiritual and heavenly conversation ? Are not these evidences of your being destitute of sanctification ?

Should an exercised believer ask, How shall I be satis. fied that I am indeed sanctified? I am often disquieted with discouraging doubts concerning this. I would reply, If you be already sanctified, the love of Christ constrains

you to love him supremely ; his obedience to the law for you constrains you willingly to obey him; his sufferings for you constrain you to submit to reproaches and persecutions for him ; his crucifixion for you constrains you to crucify the body of sin ; his death constrains you to die to sin ; and his resurrection to rise to more newness of life.

Again : If you be sanctified, you are dead to sin. Now, is this your experience ? If it be, then every member of the body of sin has lost its reigning power in you. When one is seized with an infectious distemper, he may lose the power of some member of his body, but it is only when he is dead that he has lost the power of them all. Further, if your understanding be sanctified, you will discern an illustrious display of wisdom, love, and grace, in the glorious method of redemption by Jesus Christ. You will see the truth so as to feel it. You will see nothing in the promise but what is suitable and agreeable to you ; nothing in the precept that you would choose to alter ; nothing in holiness but what is amiable and attractive ; and nothing in sin but what is loathsome to you. If your will be renewed, it will pursue holiness of heart and life from choice ; its great ambition will be to make the promises of the new covenant the rule of your faith and comfort; the precepts of the law in the hand of Christ the rule of your life; and the providence of God the rule of your lot in this world.

Your want


of perfect resignation will be a grievous burden to you. If your affections be sanctified, in so far as they are so they will not desire that any thing that God hath done should be undone, or done otherwise than it is. You are never satisfied, either with your degree of hatred to sin, or love to Christ. Further, if you

be sanctified, you

love the commandments of God, because they are holy, and just, and good. You are watchful against all sin ; you trust in Christ for more sanctification, and delight in doing his will. Would


who are believers desire to advance in sanctification ? Then contemplate frequently the death and resurrection of your dear Redeemer. This is the way to advance in mortification, and vivification. Exercise your spiritual graces frequently; for they grow by exercise. As the natural body cannot grow or be vigorous without exercise, neither can the new creature formed in the soul. Exercise faith especially. It is by this that


derive an increase of sanctifying grace from the fulness of Jesus Christ. Trust that he will keep you from falling, and present you faultless before the presence of his glory, with exceeding joy. Embrace, and trust, and plead the promises of sanctification : believe that they shall be fulfilled to you. Be more acquainted with checking the first motions of sin in your heart : whenever you are sensible of a sinful thought, be sure to resist it by faith and prayer. Again : Be well acquainted with the proper uses of good works ; otherwise you

shall often be in danger of running either into Antinomian licentiousness, or Arminian legality. Associate with lively Christians; association begets assimilation : Search the word, and seek the Spirit of Christ. In a word, labour to adapt your spiritual exercise to the Lord's dealings with you. Be thankful in all your enjoyments, patient under all your afflictions, fervent in all your devotions, humble in all your attainments, and holy in all manner of conversation.

As for you who are destitute of sanctification, be exhorted to come to Christ for the sanctification of the

« PreviousContinue »