Page images
PDF
EPUB

to the heavenly inheritance be clear! It is horrible to see how industrious many are for an inheritance on earth, and how careless for heaven. By which we may plainly see how vilely the noble soul is depressed by sin, and sunk down into flesh, minding only the things of the flesh. Hear me, ye that labor for the world, as if heaven were in it; what will you do when at death you shall look back and see all that for which

you

have spent your time and strength shrinking and vanishing away from you? When you shall look forward and see vast eternity opening to swallow you up; oh then what would you give for a well-grounded assurance of an eternal inheritance !

Oh, therefore, if you have any regard for your poor soul ; if it be not indifferent to you whether it be saved or be damned, "give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.” 2 Pet. 1:10. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of his own good pleasure." Phil. 2:12, 13. Remember it is salvation you work for, and that is no trifle--your own salvation. It is for thy own poor soul that thou art striving; and what hast thou more?

Remember God now offers you his help; now the Spirit waits upon you; but of its continuance you have no assurance; for it is of his own good pleasure, and not at yours. To your work, souls, to your work. Ah, strive as men that know what an inheritance in heaven is worth.

And, as for you that have solid evidence that it is yours; oh, that with hands and eyes lifted up to heaven you would adore that free grace that hath entitled a child of wrath to a heavenly inheritance! Walk as become heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. Be olten looking heaven-ward when wants pinch here. Oh look to that fair estate you have reserved in heaven for you, and say, I am hastening home; and when I come thither, all my wants shall be supplied. Consider what it cost Christ to purchase it for thee; and with a deep sense of what he hath done for thee, let thy soul say, Blessed be God for Jesus Christ.

CHAPTER XVI.

KINGLY OFFICE OF CIIRIST, AS EXECUTED SPIRITUALLY UPON

THE SOULS OF THE REDEEMED.

Casting down imaginations, and crcry high thing that exallelh ilself

against the knowledge of God, and bringing into caplivily every thought to the obcdicnce of Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5.

We now come to the regal office, by which our glorious Mediator executes the design of our redemption. Had he not, as our Prophet, opened the way of life and salvation to the children of men, they could never have known it; and if they had clearly known it, yet except, as their Priest, he had offered up himself to obtain redemption for them, they could not have been redeemed virtually by his blood; and if they had been so redeemed, yet had he not lived in the capacity of a King, to apply this purchase of his blood to them, they could have had no, actual, personal benefit by his death ; for what he revealed as a Prophet, he purchased as a Priest; and what he so revealed and purchased as a Prophet and Priest, he applies as a King; first subduing the souls of his people to his spiritual government, then ruling them as his subjects, and ordering all things in the kingdom of Providence for their good. So that Christ has a twofold kingdom, the one spiritual and internal, by which he subdues and rules the hearts of his people; the other providential and external, whereby he guides, rules, and orders all things in the world, in a blessed subordination to their eternal salvation. I am to speak from this text of his spiritual and internal kingdom.

These words hold forth the efficacy of the Gospel, in its plainness and simplicity for subduing rebellious sin. ners to Christ : in them we have,

1. The oppositions made by sinners against the assaults of the Gospel, namely, imaginations, or reasonings, as the word nogloucus, may be fitly rendered : the subtleties, excuses, subterfuges, and arguings of fleshlyminded men; in which they fortify and intrench themselves against the convictions of the word : yea, and there are not only such carnal reasonings, but many proud, high conceits, with which poor creatures swell, and scorn to submit to the abasing, humble, self-denying way of the Gospel. These are the fortifications erected against Christ by the carnal mind.

2. We have here the conquest which the Gospel obtains over sinners, thus fortified against it; it casts down and overthrows these strong holds. Thus Christ spoils Satan of his armor in which he trusted, by showing the sinner that all this can be no defence to his soul against the wrath of God. And more,

3. You have here the improvement of the victory. Christ not only leads away these enemies spoiled, but brings them into obedience to himself, that is, makes them, after conversion, subjects of his own kingdom, obedient, useful, and serviceable to himself ; and so is more than a conqueror, They not only lay down their arms, and fight no more against Christ, but repair to his camp, and fight for Christ with those weapons before employed against him: as it is said of Jerome, Origen, and Tertullian, that they came into Canaan laden with Egyptian gold ; that is, they came into the church full of excellent learning and abilities,

with which they eminently served Jesus Christ. "Oh blessed victory, (says Meyer,) where the conqueror and conquered both triumph together!” And thus enemies and rebels are subdued, and made subjects of the spiritual kingdom of Christ. Hence, Jesus Christ exercises a kingly power over the souls of

all whom the Gospel subdues to his obedience. No sooner were the Colossians delivered out of the power of darkness, than they were translated into the kingdom of Christ, the Son. Col. 1: 13. This kingdom of Christ, which is our present subject, is the internal spiritual kingdom, said to be within the saints: "The kingdom of God is within you.” Luke, 17 : 20, 21. Christ sits as an enthroned King in the hearts, consciences, and affections of his willing people. Psalm 110: 3. And his kingdom consists in " righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Rom. 14: 17.

In the prosecution of this point, I will show how Christ obtains the throne in the hearts of men; how ho rules in it and by what acts he exercises his kingly authority ; and what are the privileges of those over whom he reigas.

1. We will show how Christ obtains a throne in the hearts of men, and that is by conquest : for though the souls of the redeemed are his by donation and right of redemption, the Father having given them to him, and he died for them; yet Satan has the first possession. As it was with Abraham, to whom God gave the land of Canaan by promise and covenant, yet the Canaanites, Perizzites, and sons of Anak, had the actual possession of it, and Abraham's posterity must fight for it, and win it before they enjoy it. The house is conveyed to Christ by him that built it, but the strong man armed keeps possession of it, till a stronger than he comes and casts him out. Luke, 11 : 20-22. Christ must fight his way into the soul, though he have a right to enter, as

into his dearly purchased possession. And so he does ; for when the time of recovering them is come, he sends forth his armies to subdue them; as Psalm 110:3, "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.” The Hebrew may as fitly be rendered, and so is by some, " in the day of thine armies ;” when the Lord Jesus sent forth his armies of prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastors, teachers, under the conduct of his Spirit, armed with that two-edged sword, the word of God, which is sharp and powerful. Heb. 4 : 12. But that is not all: he causes armies of convictions and spiritual troubles to begird and straiten them on every side, so that they know not what to do. These convictions, like a shower of arrows, strike into their consciences; "When they heard this, they were pricked to the heart, and said, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Acts, 2:37. Christ's arrows are sharp in the hearts of his enemies, whereby the people fall under him. Psalm 45:5, 6. By these convictions he batters down all their vain hopes, and levels them with the earth. Now all their weak pleas and defences, from the general mercy of God, the example of others, &c. prove but as paper walls. These shake their hearts, even to the very foundation, and overturn every high thought that exalts itself against the Lord.

The day in which Christ summons the soul by such messengers as these, is a day of distress within ; yea, such a day of trouble, that none is like it. But though it be so, yet Satan hath so deeply intrenched himself in the mind and will, that the soul yields not at the first summons, till its provisions within are spent, and all its towers of pride and walls of vain confidence be undermined by the Gospel, and shaken down ; and then the soul sees its need of Christ. Oh, now it would be glad of terms, any terms, if it may but save its life ; let all go as a prey to the conqueror. Now it sends many

« PreviousContinue »