Just a Bit O’ History…Psalm 92. A Psalm to be sung on the Day of the Sabbath.

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The Jews of old appropriated certain Psalms to particular days, and every day of the week had its allotted Psalms. The songs which the Levites formerly sang in the sanctuary are these…

On the first day, Psalm 24,
On the second day, Psalm 48,
On the third day, Psalm 82,
On the fourth day, Psalm 114,
On the fifth day, Psalm 81,
On the sixth day, Psalm 93,
On the seventh day, Psalm 92, based upon its title.

The Talmud confirms this saying that Psalm 92 was sung on the morning of the Sabbath at the drink offering which followed the sacrifice of the first lamb, –Numbers 28:9.

Some ancient writers thought perhaps that this last Psalm was composed by Adam as tribute to the seventh day of Creation, but dismissing such a contention as raving, Spurgeon says, “Adam in Paradise had neither harp to play on, nor wicked men to contend with.”  Although nameless, no one acquainted with David’s style in the Psalms credited to him, hesitates to ascribe to him authorship of this Divine, Sabbath Hymn. A notable feature in this Psalm is the sevenfold name of JEHOVAH in verses, 1, 4, 8, 13, 15. Seven times is the Sabbatical number.

Here again we have an admirable combination and composition, “A Psalm of Song,” or a Psalm to be sung upon the day of rest. Full of equal measure of solemnity and joy, its subject is the praise of God for all his work, and the joyful occupation of hearts resting in the Divine Worker.  If David wrote it, then the Holy Spirit certainly gave him utterance, for the style is worthy of the theme and of the day it is dedicated to.   The general theme is set forth in the first four verses. Ellicott’s introduction says, “In this Psalm we seem to have the Sabbath musings of one who had met the doubt born of the sight of successful wickedness, and struggled through it to a firm faith in “The Rock of Whom is no unrighteousness, though on earth iniquity seems to flourish and prevail.”

Upon an instrument of ten strings… the psaltery… the harp, 92:3.  We cannot agree with Chrysostom that “Instrumental music was only permitted to the Jews, as sacrifice was, for the heaviness and grossness of their souls….” Away back in the cradle of humanity we read of one Jubal –from which we have the term “jubilant,” we read that he was the father and originator of all who handle the harp and organ, Genesis 4:21.  Justin Martyr expressly says “that the use of singing with instrumental music was not received in Christian churches as it was among the Jews in their infant state, but only the use of plain song.”  The insistence of some writers is that instrumental music was not in use in the churches until about the fourth century. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria, wrote of the inspiration he received by congregational singing by “clear voices and appropriate tunes.”  Isaac Watts would have us sing—

Oh may my heart in tune be found,
Like David’s harp of solemn sound.

The Psalmist felt that every sweet-sounding instrument should be consecrated in God, as General Booth believed, when he introduced band-music and tambourines to match his militant form of service and worship for his “soldiers.”   The wise observation of Spurgeon in this matter is of worthy note, “It is much to be feared of that attention to the mechanism of music, as in the mere noting keys and strings.  Fine music without devotion, which is the soul and essence of praise, is but a splendid garment upon a corpse.”

Eusebius, a prominent Biblical scholar of the 4th century, commenting on Psalm 92 says, “The Psaltery if ten strings is the worship of the Holy Spirit performed by means of the five senses of the body, and the five powers of the soul,” and in confirmation of his application goes on to quote 1 Corinthians 14:15. Carrying this application further, all who are the Lord’s can look upon the human frame made up of two eyes, two ears, two hands, two feet, one mouth and one heart—ten in all, as the instruments of ten strings with which to praise and magnify the Lord.  This is the truth that is embodied in Havergal’s searching hymn— “Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee.”

Thou hast made me glad through thy work, 92:4. Already we have seen how Dante made use of the Psalms (Purg. xxviii. 80, E Salmo Delectasti), both directly and symbolically, and in his Purgatorio we have further illustration of this use when he describes the beautiful form of Matilda. Wondering at the brightness of her smile, she tells him that she is gladdened by verse 4 of Psalm, beginning with, Delectasti, “Thou, God, had made me glad through thy work.” Is it not this delight in God’s service, and labor in his cause, that makes the perfect happiness of an active life on earth?

And then there is a story of Casaubon, who was one of the most learned men of his age, and truly devout. He was so humble and reticent, that some doubted his religious spirit; but there is an incident he records in his diary which reveals it, and which shows the hold the book of Psalms had on the hearts of Christians of that time. He and his wife, residing in Paris, wished to go to the Protestant Church of Charenton. There was only a frail old boat to take them up the Seine, but they ventured it rather than lose the service. ‘On embarking,’ he says, ‘my wife, as her custom was, began to sing the Psalms. We had finished Psalms 91 and had reached Psalms 92 verse 12, when the boat sank. With difficulty we saved our lives, but the psalm book, which had been a wedding gift to my wife twenty-two years before, was lost. We reached in time for the second service; and on looking into the book of a young man near me to see what was being sung, I found it was Psalms 86:13, “for great is thy mercy towards me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest grave.” I thought immediately of the word of St. Ambrose, that “those who listen to, or read the Psalms aright, may find it as if these Psalms had been written expressly for themselves.”

One last word…

They shall bring forth in old age, 92:14. In the garden of grace, plants weak in themselves because of natural, physical decay, are yet strong in the Lord and bear fruit acceptable to Him.  Even if bedridden, they bear the fruit of patience. Grinders (teeth) may fail, but the bread of heaven is to feed upon.  The literal translation of this verse reads— “Still shall they sprout in hoary age, sappy and green shall they be,” an allusion to the great fruitfulness of the date palm, and to the fact that to the very last, this fruitfulness continues. The aged, fruitful believer is a letter of commendation of the immutable fidelity of Jehovah as the Rock and as the Righteous One. Journeying on to the end, the godly, well-stricken in years, daily prove that God’s dispensations have no flaw in them, and can no more be moved than a rock can be dislodged from its age-long foundation. The Psalm, then presents a Divine climax, that the venerable godly, far from declining, climb higher and higher as they travel on to life’s last milestone.

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Taken adapted from, Psalms: A Devotional Commentary, written by Herbert Lockyer, Sr.
Taken from, “The Psalms in History and Biography,” written by John Ker,

THE THREE-FOLD RELATION WHICH MORAL AGENTS SUSTAIN TO THE DIVINE LAW

Taken and adapted from, “The Atonement”
Written by Alexander Hodge

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BUT if the law is immutable, and if its demands are personal, how can the legal relations of one person be assumed by another, and all of his legal obligations be vicariously discharged by the substitute instead of the principal?

In order to throw light upon this question, I propose the following considerations. The Theologian Turretin, well noted the fact that the relations which men sustain to the law may be discriminated under three heads –the natural, federal, and penal relations.

1   To every created moral agent in the universe the law of absolute moral perfection sustains a uniform and constant natural relation as a standard of character and rule of actionIn this relation the law is absolutely perfect and absolutely changeless. All that is moral is eternally and intrinsically obligatory on all moral agents.

All that is not obligatory is not moral. And every particular and every degree in which any moral agent comes short of the standard of perfect moral excellence in being or action is of the nature of sin. The demands of the law therefore are everywhere and always the same; they are inherently, and therefore changelessly, obligatory and incapable of being either intermitted, relaxed, or transferred. In respect to this natural relation to the law therefore, Christ did not, and from the nature of the case could not, take our law-place. In respect to the inherent and inalienable claims of right, it is purely impossible that the obligations of law can be removed from one person and vicariously assumed by another. The law in this relation maintains forever inviolable all its claims over all moral creatures whatever; equally over angels and devils, men unfallen, fallen, regenerate, in perdition, and in glory. The hideous heresy of the Antinomians consists in the claim that Christ has in such a sense fulfilled all the claims of law upon his people that they are no longer required to live in conformity to it in their own persons. This abominable heresy the entire Church has always consistently rejected with abhorrence, maintaining that the immutability of the law and the changeless perpetuity of its claims is a principle lying at the foundation of all religion, whether natural or revealed.

2   The federal relation to the law, on the other hand, has respect to a period of probation, into which man was introduced in a condition of moral excellence, yet fallible; and his confirmation in an immutably holy character, and his subsequent eternal blessedness is made to depend upon his obedience during that period.

It appears to be a general principle of the divine government

(1) that every moral agent is created holy, yet
(2) in a state of instable moral equilibrium, and hence
(3) that confirmation in an estate of stable holiness is a divine gift, above those included in the natural endowments of any creature, and always
(4) suspended upon the condition of perfect obedience during a period of probation. As a matter of fact, this is precisely the relation to the law as a covenant of life, into which Adam (and all his descendants in him) was brought at his creation.

He was created holy, yet fallible, and for a period of probation put under the law as a test of obedience. Upon this obedience his character and condition for eternity were made to depend. If he had obeyed for the period prescribed, he would have attained the reward. The granting of that reward would have confirmed him in holiness, and by thus rendering him impeccable, would have closed his probation and removed him from under the law in this federal relation forever, while his subjection to the same law, in its natural relation, would have been continued and confirmed. We know that the angels have passed through a probation not essentially different. They were created holy, yet fallible, for some did fall. And all who stood at the first appear to have been consequently confirmed in character and the enjoyment of divine favor; since there is no intimation that any have since fallen into sin, and since we cannot believe that it is God’s plan that any of his sinless creatures should continue permanently or even indefinitely in that state of unstable equilibrium in which they were created. We may therefore assume it to be a general principle of the divine government that every new created moral agent is introduced into being holy, yet fallible, and subjected to the law as a covenant for a period of probation, conditioning upon perfect obedience ultimate confirmation in holiness and divine favor forever.

It is evident that this federal relation to the law is in its very nature temporary in any event, being inevitably closed, ipso facto, either by giving the reward in case of obedience, or by inflicting the penalty in case of disobedience. It is evident also that this relation to the law has a special end: not the demanding of perpetual obedience because of its intrinsic rightfulness, but demanding it as a test for a definite period, to the end of an ultimate confirmation of a holy character, which confirmation will terminate the relation itself by securing the end for which it was designed. Hence this federal relation to the law, unlike the natural relation, concerns not at all the unchangeable demands of personal holiness, but simply those conditions upon which God’s favors are to be shown. And hence, unlike the natural relation, the federal is neither intrinsic, perpetual, nor inseparable from the person concerned. Although, of course, it is ultimately founded upon the essential righteousness of the divine nature, yet all the variable conditions of the probationary period and test are evidently largely dependent upon the divine sovereignty, and the relation itself ceases as soon as the trial is closed, either by the grant of the reward or the infliction of the penalty; and, if God pleases, the whole relation may be sustained by a substitute, and its obligations discharged vicariously, as was the case in the instances of Adam and of Christ.

3   The penal relation to the law is that which instantly supervenes when the law is violated.

As shown above, the penalty is an essential element of the law, expressing the essential attitude in which absolute righteousness stands to transgression, just as the perceptive element of the law expresses the attitude in which that righteousness stands to the moral condition and action of the subject. Whenever, therefore, the law is violated by disobedience, the penalty instantly supervenes, and continues for ever until it is fully exhausted in, strict rigor of absolute justice.

It is consequently obvious that the penal and federal relations to the law are naturally mutually exclusive. The instant a moral agent incurs the penalty his federal relation to the law necessarily terminates, because the end of that relation –that is, his confirmation in a holy character –has definitely failed. Adam was created under the natural and the federal relation to law. When he sinned he continued under the natural, and passed from the federal to the penal, where his non-elect descendants remain for all eternity. And it is just here that with respect to the elect the infinitely gracious mediation of Christ intervenes. If it were not for the sovereign supervention of a gracious upon a purely legal economy, they would of course be left, with the rest of mankind, to the just consequences of their sin. Their probation having been abused, the promised confirmation in holy character having been forfeited, nothing but the penalty remains.

But in behalf of the elect, Christ comes as the second Adam, assumes and graciously continues their federal relation to the law just at the point at which Adam failed. If he undertakes their case, there is a need that he assumes both their obligations to obedience, which was the original condition of their being raised to a stable equilibrium of moral character and receiving the adoption of sons, and their obligations to penal sufferings incurred by their disobedience. The law in its natural relation of course remains binding on them as before, while they are forever released from all obligation obey it as a condition of life, and are confirmed in an immutable stability both of character and happiness through the vicarious discharge of all of their original obligations by their Substitute.

When we say that Christ as our Substitute assumed our law-place, the specific thing that we mean is, that he became the federal head of the elect under the Covenant of Redemption, which provided for his assuming in relation to them all the conditions of the violated Covenant of Works. The federal headship of Christ presupposes the federal headship of Adam. The latter is the necessary basis for the former, and the work and position of the former can be understood only when it is brought in mental perspective into its true relation to the latter.

The solution of the question as to the true nature of the federal headship of Adam becomes, therefore, an essential element as to the nature of the Atonement.

The apostle declares that the principles upon which sin and misery came upon the race through Adam are identical with those upon which righteousness and blessedness come upon the elect through Christ. No man can entertain false views as to the former without perverting his faith as to the latter.

OF THE RIGHT KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST CRUCIFIED

Taken and adapted into modern English from, “Knowing Christ Crucified”
Written by, William Ames, 1576-1633

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IT is the most excellent worthy part of divine wisdom to know Christ crucified….

The Prophet Isaiah says; The knowledge of my righteous servant: that is, Christ crucified, shall justify many. And Christ himself says; This is life eternal, to know thee the only God, and whom you have sent, Jesus Christ. And Paul says; I have decreed to know nothing among you, but Jesus Christ and him crucified. Again, God forbid that I should rejoice in anything, but in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Again, I think all things but loss, for the excellent knowledge sake of Christ Jesus my Lord, and do judge them but dung, that I might win Christ.

In the right way of knowing Christ crucified, two points must be considered: one, how Man for his part is to know Christ: the other, how he is to be known of man.

Touching the first: Man must know Christ, not generally and confusedly, but by a living, powerful, and operative knowledge: for otherwise the devils themselves know Christ. In this knowledge, three things are required. The first is notice or consideration, whereby you must conceive in mind, understand, and seriously think to yourself about Christ, as he is revealed in the history of the Gospel, and as he is offered to your particular person, in the ministry of the word and Sacraments. And that this consideration may not be dead and idle in thee, two things must be done. First, you must labor to feel yourself to stand in need of Christ crucified; yea, to stand in excessive need even of the very least drop of his blood, for the washing away of your sins. And unless you thoroughly feel in yourself, to want all that goodness and grace that is in Christ; and that you even stand in extreme need of his passion, you shalt never learn to teach Christ in deed and truth. The second thing is, with the understanding of the doctrine of Christ, to join thirsting, whereby man in very soul and spirit, longs after the participation of Christ, and says in this case as Sampson said; Give me water, I die for thirst.

The second part of knowledge, is application, whereby you must know and believe, not only that Christ was crucified, but that he was crucified for thee; for thee I say in particular. Here two rules must be remembered and practiced. One, that Christ on the cross was your pledge and surety in particular, that he then stood in the very room and place, in which you yourself in your own person, should have stood: that your very personal and particular sins were imputed and applied to him: that he stood guilty as a malefactor for them, and suffered the very pangs of hell, and that his sufferings are as much in acceptation with God, as if you had borne the curse of the law in your own person eternally. The holding and believing of this point, is the very foundation of religion, as also of the Church of God. Therefore in any wise be careful to apply Christ crucified to yourself: and as Elisha, when he would revive the child of the Shunamite, went up and lay upon him, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his hands upon his hands, and his eyes upon his eyes, and stretched himself upon him: even so, if you wouldst be revived to everlasting life, you must by faith as it were set yourself upon the cross of Christ, and apply your hands to his hands, your feet to his feet, and your sinful heart to his believing heart: and content not yourself with Thomas, to put your finger in his side, but even dive and plunge yourself wholly, both body and soul, into the wounds and blood of Christ. This will make thee to cry with Thomas, and say; My Lord my God: and this is to be crucified with Christ. And yet do not content yourself with this, but by faith also descend with Christ from the cross to the grave, bury yourself in the very burial of Christ: and then look as the dead soldier tumbled into the grave of Elisha, was made alive at the very touching of his body: so shalt you by a spiritual touching of Christ dead buried, be quickened to life everlasting. The second rule is, that Christ crucified is yours, being really given thee of God the Father, even as truly as houses and lands are given of earthly fathers to their children; thus must you firmly hold and believe: and hence is it, that the benefits of Christ, are before God ours indeed for our justification and salvation.

The third point in lively knowledge is, that by all the affections of our hearts, we must be carried to Christ, and as it were, transformed into him. Whereas he gave himself wholly for us, we can do no less than bestow our hearts upon him. We must therefore labor above all, following the Martyr Ignatius, who said, that Christ his love was crucified. We must value him at so high a price, that he must be unto us better than ten thousand worlds: yea, all things which we enjoy, must be but as dross and dung unto us in respect of him. Lastly, all our joy, rejoicing, comfort, and confidence; must be placed in him. And that thus much is requisite in knowledge, it appears by the common rule of expounding Scripture, that works of knowledge imply affection. And indeed it is but a knowledge swimming in the brain, which does not alter and dispose that affection, and the whole man.

Thus much of our knowledge. Now follows the second point, how Christ is to be known He must not be known barely as God, or as man, or as a Jew, borne in the tribe of Judah, or as a terrible and just Judge, but as he is our Redeemer, and the very price of our redemption: and in this respect, he must be considered as the common treasure and store-house of Gods Church, as Paul testifies when he says, In him are all the treasures of knowledge and wisdom hid. And again, Blessed be God, which has blessed us with all spiritual blessings in Christ. And S. John says, that of his fullness, we receive grace for grace. Here then let us mark, that all the blessings of God, whether spiritual or temporal; all, I say, without exception, are conveyed unto us from the Father, by Christ: and so they must be received of us, and not otherwise. That this point may be further cleared, the benefits which we receive from Christ, are to be handled, and the manner of knowing them. The benefits of Christ are three, his Merit, his Virtue, his Example.

The merit of Christ, is the value and price of his death and passion, whereby any man is perfectly reconciled to God. This reconciliation has two parts, remission of sins, and acceptation to life everlasting. Remission of sins, is the removing, or the abolishing both of the guilt and punishment of man’s sins. By guilt, I understand a subjection or obligation to punishment, according to the order of divine justice. And the punishment of sin, is the malediction or curse of the whole law, which is the suffering of the first, and second death. Acceptation to life everlasting, is a giving of right and title to the kingdom of heaven, and that for the merit of Christs obedience imputed. Now this benefit of reconciliation, must be known, not by conceit and imagination, nor by carnal presumption; but by the inward testimony of Gods spirit, certifying our consciences thereof; which for this cause, is called the spirit of Revelation. And that we may attain to infallible assurance of this benefit, we must call to mind the promises of the Gospel, touching remission of sins, and life everlasting. This being done, we must further strive and endeavor, by the assurance of Gods spirit, to apply them to ourselves, and to believe that they belong unto us: and we must also put ourselves often to the exercises of invocation and true repentance. For in, and by our crying unto heaven to God for our reconciliation, comes the assurance thereof, as Scriptures and Christian experience makes manifest. And if so it falls out, that any man in temptation, apprehend and feel nothing but the furious indignation and wrath of God; against all reason and feeling, he must hold to the merit of Christ, and know that this point of religion hard to be learned, that God is a most loving Father to them that have care to serve him, even at that instant, when he shows himself a most fierce and terrible enemy.

From the benefit of reconciliation proceeds four benefits.

First, that excellent peace of God that passes all understanding, which has six parts.

The first is, peace with God and the blessed Trinity, Romans 5:1. Being justified we have peace with God. The second, peace with the good Angels, John 1:51. Ye shall see the Angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man. And that Angels, like armies of soldiers encamp about the servants of God, and as nurses bear them in their arms, that they be neither hurt by the devil and his Angels, nor by his instruments, it proceeds of this, that they being in Christ, are partakers of his merits. The third is, peace with all such as fear God, believe in Christ. This Isaiah foretold when he said, that the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid, and the lion and a fat beast together, and that a little child shall lead them, chapter 11. v. 6. The fourth is, peace with a man’s own self, when the conscience washed in the blood of Christ, ceases to accuse and terrify: and when the will, affections and inclinations of the whole man, are obedient to the mind, enlightened by the Spirit and word of God, Colossians 3:15. Let the peace of God rule in your hearts. The first is, peace with enemies, and that two ways: first in that such as believe in Christ, seek to have peace with all men, hurting none, but doing good to all. Secondly, in that God restrains the malice of the enemies, and inclines their hearts to be peaceable. Thus God brought Daniel into love favor with the chief of the Eunuchs. The last is, peace with all creatures in heaven earth, in that they serve for man’s salvation, Psalm 91:13. You shalt walk upon the lion the Asp, the young Lion the Dragon shalt you tread under foot. Hosea 2:18. And in that day will I make a covenant for them, with the beasts of the field, with the fowls of heaven. Now this benefit of peace, is known, partly by the testimony of the spirit, partly by a daily experience thereof.

The second benefit, is a recovery of that right and title, which man has to all creatures in heaven and earth, and all temporal blessings, which right Adam lost to himself, and every one of his posterity, 1. Cor. 3:22. Whether it be the world, or life, or death, whether they be things present, or things to come, all are yours. Now, the right way of knowing this one benefit, is this. When God vouch safes meat, drink, apparel, houses, lands, etc. We must not barely consider them as blessings of God, for that very heathen men, which know not Christ, can do: but we must acknowledge and esteem them as blessings, proceeding from the special love of God the Father, whereby he loves us in Christ: and procured unto us by the merit of Christ crucified: and we must labor in this point to be settled and persuaded: and so oft as we see and use the creatures of God for our own benefit, this point should come to our minds. Blessings conceived apart from Christ, are misconceived: whatsoever they are in themselves: they are no blessings to us, but in, and by Christs merits. Therefore, this order must be observed touching earthly blessings: First, we must have part in the merit of Christ: and then secondly, by means of that merit, a right before God, and comfortable use of the thing we enjoy. All men that have and use the creatures of God otherwise, as gifts of God, but not by Christ, use them but as flat usurpers and thieves. For this cause it is not sufficient for us generally confusedly, to know Christ to be our Redeemer; but we must learn to see, know and acknowledge him in every particular gift and blessing of God. If men, using the creatures of meat and drink, could, when they behold them, withal by the eye of faith, behold in them the merit of Christs passion, there would not be so much excess and riot, so much gluttony and drunkenness as there is: and if men could consider their houses and lands, etc. as blessings to them, and that by the fountain of blessing, the merits of Christ, there should not be so much fraud and deceit, nor so much injustice and oppression in bargaining as there is. That which I have now said of meats, drinks, apparel, must likewise be understood of Gentry and Nobility, in as much as noble birth without new birth in Christ, is but an earthly vanity: the like may be said of physic, sleep, health, liberty, yea, of the very breathing in the air. And to go yet further, in our recreation, Christ must be known: for all recreation stands in the use of all things indifferent: and the holy use of all things indifferent, is purchased unto us by the blood of Christ. For this cause it is very good, that Christian men and women, should with their earthly recreation, join spiritual meditation of the death of Christ, and from the one, take occasion to bethink themselves of the other. If this were practiced, there should not be so many unlawful sports and delights, and so much abuse of lawful recreation, as there is.

The third benefit is, that all crosses, afflictions, and judgments whatsoever, cease to be curses and punishments to them that are in Christ, and are only means of correction or trial; because his death has taken away, not some few parts, but all, and every part of the curse of the whole law. Now, in all crosses, Christ is to be known of us on this manner. We must judge of our afflictions, as chastisements or trials, proceeding not from a revenging judge, but from the hand of a bountiful and loving Father; and therefore they must be conceived in, and with the merit of Christ; and if we do otherwise regard them, we take them as curses and punishments of sin. And hence it follows, that subjection to Gods hand in all crosses, is a mark and badge of the true Church.

The last benefit is, that death is properly not death, but a rest or sleep. Death therefore must be known and considered, not as it is set forth in the law, but as it is altered and changed by the death of Christ: and when death comes, we must then look upon it through Christs death, as through a glass: and thus it will appear to be but a passage from this life to everlasting life. 

Thus much of the merit of Christ crucified: Now follows his virtue, which is the power of his godhead, whereby he creates new hearts in all them that believe in him, and makes them new creatures. This virtue is double: the first is the power of his death, whereby he freed himself from the punishment and imputation of our sins: and the same virtue serves to mortify and crucify the corruptions of our minds, wills, affections, even as a corrosive does waste and consume the rotten and dead flesh in any part of man’s body.

The second is, the virtue of Christs resurrection, which is also the power of his Godhead, whereby he raised himself from death to life and the very same power serves to raise those that belong to Christ, from their sins in this life, and from the grave in the day of the last judgement. Now the knowledge of this double virtue, must not be only speculative; that is, barely conceived in the brain, but it must be experimental: because we ought to have experience of it in our hearts and lives, and we should labor by all means possible, to feel the power of Christs death, killing mortifying our sins, and the virtue of his resurrection, in the putting of spiritual life into us, that we may be able to say, that we live not, but that Christ lives in us. This was one of the most excellent and principal things which Paul sought for, who says: I have counted all things loss, and do judge them to be dung, that I might know him, the virtue of his resurrection, Phil. 3:8, 10. And he says that this is the right way to know and learn Christ, to cast off the old man, which is corrupt through the deceptive lusts, and to put on the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness, Eph. 4:21, 24.

The third benefit, is the example of Christ. We deceive ourselves, if we think that he is only to be known of us as a redeemer, not as a spectacle or pattern of all good duties, to which we ought to conform ourselves. Good men indeed, that have been, or in present are upon the earth the servants of God, must be followed of us: but they must be followed no otherwise then they follow Christ, and Christ must be followed in the practice of every good duty that may concern us, without exception simply and absolutely, 1. Cor. 11:1. Our conformity with Christ stands either in the framing of our inward spiritual life, or in the practice of outward moral duties.

Conformity of spiritual life is, not by doing that which Christ did upon the cross, afterward, but a doing of the like, by a certain kind of imitation. And it has four parts. The first is, a spiritual oblation. For as Christ in the garden, and upon the cross, by prayer made with strong cries and tears, presented and resigned himself to be a sacrifice of propitiation to the justice of his Father for man’s sin: so must we also in prayer, present and resign ourselves, our souls, our bodies, our understanding, will, memory, affections, all we have; to the service of God, in the general calling of a Christian, and in the particular callings, in which he has placed us. Take an example in David; Sacrifice and burnt offering (says he) you wouldst not, but ears you have opened; then said I, behold, I come: I desire to do your will, O God; yea, your law is within my heart, Psalm 40:6-7. The second is, conformity in the cross two ways. For first, as he brought his own cross to the place of execution: so must we as good disciples of Christ, deny ourselves, and take up all the crosses afflictions that the hand of God shall lay upon us. Again, we must become like unto him, in the crucifying and mortifying the body of sin, which we carry about us. Gal. 5: 24. They which are Christs, have crucified the flesh with the affections and lust thereof. We must do as the Jews did, we must set up the crosses and gibbets whereon we are to fasten and hang this flesh of ours: that is, the sin and corruption that cleaves and sticks unto us, and by the sword of the spirit, wound it even to death. This being done, we must yet go further, and labor by experience to see and feel the very death of it, to lay it as it were in a grave never to rise again: and therefore, we should daily cast new molds upon it. The third is, a spiritual resurrection, whereby we should by God’s grace use means that we may every day more and more come out of our sins, as out of a loathsome grave; to live unto God in newness of life, as Christ rose from his grave. And because it is a hard matter for a man to come out of the grave or rather dungeon of his sins, this work cannot be done at once, but by degrees, as God shall give grace. Considering we lie by nature dead in our sins, and stink in them as loathsome carrion: first we must begin to stir ourselves as a man that comes out of a swoon, awakened by the word and voice of Christ sounding in our deaf ears; secondly, we must raise up our minds to a better state and condition, as we use to raise up our bodies: after this, we must put out of the grave, first one hand, then the other. This done, we must do our endeavor as it were upon our knees, at the least to put one foot out of the sepulcher of sin, the rather when we see ourselves to have one foot of the body in the grave of the earth, that in the day of judgement we may be wholly delivered from all bonds of corruption. The fourth part is, a spiritual ascension into heaven, by a continual elevation of the heart and mind to Christ, sitting at the right hand of the Father, as Paul says, Phil. 3:20. Have your conversation in heaven: and, Col. 3:1. If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things that are above.

Conformity in moral duties, is either general or special. General, is to be holy as he is holy. Romans 8:29. Those whom he knew before he has predestinate to be like the image of his son, that is, not only in the cross, but also in holiness and glory. 1. John 3:3. He which has this hope, purifies himself even as he is pure.

Special conformity, is chiefly in four virtues; Faith, Love, Meekness, Humility.

We must be like him in faith. For as he, when he apprehended the wrath of God, and the very pangs of hell were upon him, wholly stayed himself upon the aide, help, protection, and good pleasure of his Father, even to the last: so must we by a true and lively faith depend wholly on Gods mercy in Christ, as it were with both our hands, in peace, in trouble, in life, and in the very pang of death: and we must not in any wise let our hold go; no though we should feel ourselves descend to hell.

We must be like him in meekness. Matthew 11: 29. Learn of me, that I am meek and lowly. His meekness showed itself in the patient bearing of all injuries abuses, offered by the hands of sinful and wretched men, and in the suffering of the curse of the law, without grudging or repining, with submission to his Fathers will in all things. Now the more we follow him herein, the more shall we be conformable to him in his death and passion, Phil. 3:10.

Thirdly, he must be our example in love: he loved his enemies more than himself. Eph. 5:2. Walk in love even as Christ loved us, and has given himself for us an oblation and sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savor unto God. The like love ought we to show, by doing service to all men in the compass of our calling, and by being all things to all men (as Paul was) that we might do them all the good we can, both for body and soul, 1. Cor. 9:19.

Lastly, we must follow Christ in humility, whereof he is a wonderful spectacle, in that being God, he became man for us: and of a man, became a worm that is trodden under foot, that he might save man. Phil. 2:5. Let the same mind be in you that was in Jesus Christ, who being in the form of God, humbled himself, and became obedient to the death, even to the death of the cross.

And here we must observe, that the example of Christ has something more in it than any other example has or can have: for it does not only show us what we ought to do (as the examples of other men do) but it is a remedy against many vices, and a motive to many good duties.

First of all, the serious consideration of this, that the very Son of God himself suffered all the pains and torments of hell on the cross for our sins, is the proper and most effectual means to stir up our hearts to a godly sorrow for them. And that this thing may come to pass, every man must be settled without doubt, that he was the man that crucified Christ; that he is to be blamed as well as Judas, Herod, Pontius Pilate, and the Jews: and that his sins should be the nails, the spears, and the thorns that pierced him. When this meditation begins to take place, bitterness of spirit, with wailing and mourning, takes place in like manner. Zach. 12:10. And they shall look upon him, whom they have pierced: and they shall lament for him as one laments for his only son. Peter in his first Sermon struck the Jews as with a thunder-clap from heaven, when he said unto them, Ye have crucified the Lord of glory, so at the same time three thousand men were pricked in their hearts, and said, Act. 2:37. Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved? Again, if Christ for our sins shed his heart blood, and if our sins made him sweat water and blood; O then why should not we ourselves shed bitter tears, and why should not our hearts bleed for them! He that finds himself so dull and hardened that the passion of Christ does not humble him, is in a lamentable case, for there is no faith in the death of Christ effectual in him as yet.

Secondly, the meditation of the passion of Christ, is a most notable means to breed repentance and reformation of life in time to come. For when we begin to think, that Christ crucified, by suffering the first and second death, has procured unto us remission of all our sins past, and freed us from hell, death, and damnation: then if there be but a spark of grace in us, we begin to be of another mind, and to reason thus with ourselves: What? has the Lord been thus merciful unto me, that am in myself but a firebrand of hell, as to free me from deserved destruction, to receive me to favor in Christ? yea, no doubt he has; his name be blessed therefore: I will not therefore sin any more as I have done, but rather endeavor hereafter to keep myself from every evil way. And thus faith purifies both heart and life.

Thirdly, when you are in any pain of body or sickness, think how light these are, compared to the agony and bloody sweat, to the crown of thorns and nails of Christ. When you are wronged in word or deed, by any man, turn your eye to the cross, consider how meekly he suffered all abuses for the most part in silence, and prayed for them that crucified him. When you are tempted with pride or vain-glory, consider how for your proper sins Christ was despised and mocked, and condemned among thieves. When anger and desire of revenge inflame your heart, think how Christ gave himself to death to save his enemies, even then when they did most cruelly entreat him, and shed his blood: and by these meditations, especially if they be mingled with faith, your mind shall be eased.

Thus we see how Christ crucified, is to be known: and hence arises a three-fold knowledge; one of God, the second of our neighbors, the third of ourselves.

Touching the first: if we would know the true God aright, and know him to our salvation, we must know him only in Christ crucified. God in himself and his own majesty, is invisible, not only to the eyes of the body, but also to the very minds of men; and he is revealed to us only in Christ, in whom he is to be seen, as in a glass. For in Christ he sets forth gives his justice, goodness, wisdom, and himself wholly unto us. For this cause he is called the brightness of the glory, and the engraved form of the person of the Father, Hebrews 1:3. and the image of the invisible God, Colossians 1:15. Therefore, we must not know God, and seek him anywhere else but in Christ: and whatsoever out of Christ, comes unto us in the name of God, is a flat idol of man’s brain.

As for our neighbors, those especially that are of Christ’s Church, they are to be known of us on this manner: When we are to do any duty unto them, we must not barely respect their persons, but Christ crucified in them, and them in Christ. When Paul persecuted such as called on the name of Christ, he then from heaven cried; Saul, Saul, why persecutest you me? Here then let this be marked, that when the poor comes to us for relief, it is Christ that comes to our doors, and says, I am hungry, I am thirsty, I am naked: let the bowels of compassion be in us towards them: as towards Christ, unless we will hear that fearful sentence in the day of judgement, “Go ye cursed into hell, etc. I was hungry, and ye fed me not, I was naked, and ye did not clothe me, etc.” Matthew 25: 42.

Thirdly, the right knowledge of ourselves, arises of the knowledge of Christ crucified, in whom, and by whom, we come to know five special things of ourselves. The first, how grievous our sins are, and therefore how miserable we are in regard of then. If we consider our offences in themselves, and as they are in us, we may soon be deceived, because the conscience being corrupted, often errs in giving testimony, and by that means, makes sin to appear less than it is indeed. But if sin be considered in the death and passion of Christ, whereof it was the cause, and the vileness thereof measured by the unspeakable torments endured by the Son of God: and if the greatness of the offence of man be esteemed by the endless satisfaction made to the justice of God, the least sin that is, will appear to be a sin indeed, and that most grievous and ugly. Therefore, Christ crucified must be used of us as a mirror or looking-glass, in which we may fully take a view of our wretchedness and misery, and what we are by nature. For such as the passion of Christ was in the eyes of men, such is our passion or condition in the eyes of God: and that which wicked men did to Christ, the same does sin Satan to our very soul.

The second point is, that men believing in Christ, are not their own or Lords of themselves, but wholly both body and soul belong to Christ, in that they were given to him of God the Father, and he has purchased them with his own blood: 1. Corinthians 3:13. Ye are Christs, and Christ Gods. Hence it comes to pass (which is not to be forgotten) that Christ esteems all the crosses and afflictions of his people, as his own proper afflictions. Hence again we must learn, to give up ourselves both body and soul to the honor and service of Christ, whose we are.

The third is, that every true believer, not as he is a man, but as he is a new man, or a Christian, has his being and subsisting from Christ: We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bone, Ephesians 5:30. In which words, Paul alludes to the speech of Adam, Gen. 2:23. You are bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; and thereby he teaches, that as Eve was made of a rib taken out of the side of Adam, so does the whole Church of God, and every man regenerate, spring and arise out of the blood that streamed from the heart and side of Christ crucified.

The fourth is, that all good works done of us, proceeds from the virtue and merit of Christ crucified: he is the cause of them in us, and we are the causes of them, in and by him. Without me (says he John, 15:5. ye can do nothing: and, every branch that bears not fruit in me, mark well, he says, in me, he takes away John 15:2.

The fifth point is, that we owe unto Christ an endless debt. For he was crucified only as our surety pledge, and in the spectacle of his passion we must consider ourselves as the chief debtors, and that the very discharge of our debt, that is, the sins which are inherent in us, were the proper cause of all the endless pains and torments that Christ endured, that he might set us most miserable bankrupts at liberty from hell, death and damnation. For this his unspeakable goodness, if we do but once think of it seriously, we must needs confess that we owe ourselves, our souls, and bodies, and all that we have, as a debt due unto him. And so soon as any man begins to know Christ crucified, he knows his own debt, and thinks of the payment of it.

Thus we see how Christ is to be known: now we shall not need to make much examination whether this manner of knowing and acknowledging of Christ, take any place in the world or no: for few there be that know him as they ought. The Turk even at this very day knows him not, but as he was a Prophet. The Jew scorns his cross, and passion. The Popish Churches, though in word they confess him, yet do they not know him as they ought. The Friars and Jesuits in their Sermons at this day, commonly use the passion as a means to stir up pity compassion towards Christ, who being so righteous a man, was so hardly entreated, and to inflame their hearers to a hatred of the Jews, and Judas, and Pontius Pilate, that put our blessed Savior to death; but all this may be done in any other history. And the service of God which in that Church stands now in force by the Canons of the Council of Trent, defaces Christ crucified, in that the passions of Martyrs are made meritorious, and the very wood of the cross their only help: and the virgin Mary the Queen of heaven, and a mother of mercy; who in remission of sins may command her son: and they give religious adoration to dumb crucifixes, made by the hand and are of man.

The common Protestant likewise comes short herein for three causes.

First, whereas in word they acknowledge him to be their Savior that has redeemed them from their evil conversation, yet indeed they make him a patron of their sins. The thief makes him the receiver, the murderer makes him his refuge, (a) the adulterer (be it spoken with reverence unto his Majesty) makes him the lewd. For generally men walk on in their evil ways, some living in this sin, some in that, and yet for all this, they persuade themselves that God is merciful, and that Christ has freed them from death and damnation. Thus Christ that came to abolish sin, is made a maintainer thereof, and the common pack-horse of the world, to bear every man’s burden.

Secondly, men are content to take knowledge of the merit of Christs passion for the remission of their sins, but in the mean season, the virtue of Christs death in the mortifying of sin, and the blessed example of his passion, which ought to be followed expressed in our lives and conversations, is little or nothing regarded.

Thirdly, men usually content themselves generally and confusedly to know Christ to be their redeemer, never once seeking in every particular estate and condition of life, and in every particular blessing of God, to feel the benefit of his passion. What is the cause that almost all the world lives in security, never almost touched for their horrible sins? Surely the reason is, because they did never yet seriously consider, that Christ in the garden lay groveling upon the earth, sweating water and blood for their offences. Again, all such as by fraud and oppression, or any kind of hard dealing suck the blood of poor men, never yet knew that their sins drew out the heart blood of Christ. And proud men women, that are puffed up by reason of their attire, which is the badge of their shame, never cease hunting after strange fashions, consider not that Christ was not crucified in gay attire, but naked, that he might bear the whole shame curse of the law for us. These such like, whatsoever they say in word, if we respect the tenor of their lives, are flat enemies of the cross of Christ, and tread his precious blood under their feet.

Now then, considering this so weighty and special a point of religion is so much neglected, O man or woman, high or low, young or old, if you have been wanting this way, begin for very shame to learn, learning truly to know Christ crucified. That you may attain to this, behold him often, not in the wooden crucifix after the Popish manner, but in the preaching of the word, and in the Sacraments, in which you shalt see him crucified before your eyes, Gal. 3:1. Desire not here upon earth to behold him with the bodily eye, but look upon him with the eye of true and lively faith, applying him and his merits to yourself as your own, and that with broken and bruised heart, as the poor Israelites stung with fiery serpents even to death, beheld the brazen Serpent. Again, you must look upon him first of all as a glass or spectacle, in which you shalt see Gods glory greater in your redemption, then in your creation. In the creation appeared Gods infinite wisdom, power, and goodness: in your redemption by the passion of Christ, his endless justice and mercy. In the creation you are a member of the first Adam, and bears his image: in your redemption you are a member of the second Adam.

In the first you are endued with natural life, in the second with spiritual. In the first you have in the person of Eve, your beginning of the rib of Adam: in the second you have your beginning as you are born of God out of the blood of Christ. Lastly, in the first God gave life, in commanding that to be, which was not: in the second he gives life, not by life, but by death, even of his own Son. This is the mystery, unto which the Angels themselves desire to look into, 1. Pet. 1:12.

Secondly, you must behold him as the full price of your redemption, and perfect reconciliation with God: and pray earnestly to God, that he would seal up the same in your very conscience by his holy Spirit.

Thirdly, you must behold Christ as an example, to whom you must conform yourself by regeneration. For this cause give diligence, that you may by experience say, that you are dead, and crucified, and buried with Christ, and that you rise again with him to newness of life: that he enlightened your mind, and by degrees reforms your will and affections, and gives thee both the will the deed in every good thing. And that you may not fail in this your knowledge, read the history of Christs passion, observe all the parts and circumstances thereof, and apply them to yourself for your full conversion. When you read that Christ went to the garden, as his custom was, where the Jews might soon attach him, consider that he went to the death of the cross for your sins willingly, not of constraint; and that therefore you for your part should do him all service freely, and frankly. Psalm 110: 3. When you hear that in his agony his soul was heavy unto death, know it was for your sins, and that you should much more conceive heaviness of heart for the same: again, that this sorrow of his is joy and rejoicing unto thee, if you wilt believe in him; therefore, Paul says, I say again, rejoice in the Lord. When you read that in the garden he prayed lying groveling on his face sweating water and blood, begin to think seriously what an unspeakable measure of Gods wrath was upon your blessed Savior, that did prostrate his body upon the earth, and cause the blood to follow: and think that your sins must needs be most heinous, that brought such bloody and grievous pains upon him. Also think it is a very shame for thee to carry your head to heaven with haughty looks, to wallow in your pleasures, to draw the innocent blood of your poor brethren by oppression deceit, for whom Christ sweat water blood; and take an occasion from Christs agony, to lay aside the pride of your heart, to be ashamed of yourself, to grieve in heart, yea even to bleed for your own offences, casting down humbling yourself with Ezra, saying, Ezra 9:6. O my God, I am confounded and ashamed to lift up mine eyes unto thee, my God: for mine iniquities are increased, my trespass is grown up into heaven.

When you read that Christ was taken and bound, think that your very sins brought him into the power of his enemies, were the very bonds wherewith he was tied: think that you should have been bound in the very same manner, unless he had been a surety and pledge for thee: think also that you in the selfsame manner are bound and tied with the chains of your own sin, and that by nature your will, affections, whole spirit is tied chained to the will of the devil, so as you canst do nothing but that which he wills: lastly, think believe that the bonds of Christ serve to purchase your liberty from hell, death, and damnation.

When you hear that he was brought before Caiaphas, think it was good, that your surety and pledge, who was to suffer the condemnation due unto thee, should by the high Priest, as by the mouth of God, be condemned: and wonder at this, that the very co-essential eternal Son of God, even the very sovereign Judge of the world, stands to be judged, that by wicked men; persuading yourself that this so great confusion comes of your sins. Whereupon being further amazed at your fearful estate, humble yourself in dust ashes, pray God so to soften your stony heart, that you may turn to him, by true faith lay hold on Christ, who has thus exceedingly abased himself, that his ignominy may be your glory, and his arraignment your perfect absolution. When you read that Barabbas the murderer was preferred before Christ, though he exceeded both men and angels in holiness; think it was to manifest his innocence, and that your very sins pulled upon him this shameful reproach; and in that for your cause he was esteemed worse than Barabbas, think of yourself as a most heinous and wretched sinner, and (as Paul says, 1. Tim. 1:15.) the head of all sinners. When you read that he was openly and judicially condemned to the cursed death of the cross, consider what is the wrath and fury of God against sin, and what is his great and infinity mercy to sinners: and in this spectacle look upon yourself, and with groans of heart cry out, and say, O good God, what do you set before mine eyes? I, even I have sinned, I am guilty worthy of damnation. Whence comes this change, that your blessed Son is in my room, but of your unspeakable mercy? Wretch that I am, how have I forgotten myself, and thee also my God? O Son of God, how low have you abased yourself for me? Therefore give me grace Oh God, that beholding mine own estate in the person of my Savior thus condemned, I may detest and loathe my sins that are the cause thereof, and by a lively faith embrace that absolution which you offer me in him, who was condemned in my stead room O Jesus Christ Savior of the world, give me your holy and blessed Spirit, that I may judge myself, and be as vile and base in mine own eyes, as you was vile before the Jews: also unite me unto thee by the same spirit, that in thee I may be as worthy to be accepted before God, as I am worthy in myself to be detested for my sins.

When you read that he was clad in purple, and crowned with thorns, mocked and spit upon, behold the everlasting shame that is due unto thee, and be ashamed of yourself; and in this point conform yourself to Christ, and be content (as he was) to be reproached, abused, and despised, so it be for a good cause. When you read that before his crucifying, he was stripped of all his clothes, think it was, that he being naked, might bear your shame on the cross, and with his most precious and rich nakedness cover your deformity. When you read the complaint of Christ, that he was forsaken of his Father, consider how he suffered the pangs and torments of hell as your pledge and surety. Learn by his unspeakable torments what a fearful thing it is to sin against God, and begin to renounce yourself, and detest your sins, and to walk as a child of light, according to the measure of grace received. When you come to die, set before your eyes Christ in the midst of all his torments on the cross: in beholding of which spectacle to your endless comfort, you shalt see a paradise in the midst of hell; God the Father reconciled unto thee, your Savior reaching out his hand unto thee to receive your soul unto him, and his cross as a ladder to advance it to eternal glory. Whereas he cried aloud with a strong voice at the point of death, it was to show that he died willingly without violence or constraint from any creature, and that if it had so pleased him, he could have freed himself from death, and have cast his very enemies to the very bottom of hell. When you read that he commended his soul into the hands of his Father, consider that your soul also (so be it you wilt believe in him) is delivered up into the hands of God, and shall be preserved against the rage and malice of all your enemies, and hereupon you may be bold to commend your spirit into the hands of God the Father. When you read of his death, consider that your sins were the cause of it, and that you should have suffered the same eternally, unless the Son of God had come in your room: again, consider his death as a ransom, and apprehend the same by faith, as the means of your life: for by death Christ has wounded both the first and second death, and has made his cross to be a throne or tribunal seat of judgement against all his and your enemies. When you read of the trembling of the earth at the death of Christ, think with yourself, it did in his kind, as it were groan under the burden of the sins of men in the world: and by his motion then, it signified that even you and the rest deserved rather to be swallowed of the earth, to go down into the pit alive, then to have any part in the merit of Christ crucified. When you read of his burial, think that it was to ratify his death, and to vanquish death even to his own den. Apply this burial to yourself, and believe that it serves to make your grave a bed of down, to free your body from corruption. Lastly, pray to God that you may feel the power of the spirit of Christ weakening consuming the body of sin, even as a dead corps rots in the grave till it be resolved to dust.

When you have thus perused and applied to yourself the history of the passion of Christ, go yet further, and labor by faith to see Christ crucified in all the works of God, either in thee or upon thee. Behold him at your table in meat and drink, which is as it were a lively sermon, a daily pledge of the mercy of God in Christ. Behold him in all your afflictions, as your partner that pities your case has compassion on thee. Behold him in your most dangerous temptations, in which the devil thunders damnation, behold him I say as a mighty Sampson bearing away the gates of his enemies upon his own shoulders, and killing more by death than by life, crucifying the devil, even then when he is crucified, by death killing death: by entrance into the grave, opening the grave and giving life to the dead, in the house of death spoiling him of all his strength, power. Behold him in all the afflictions of your brethren, as though he himself were naked, hungry, sick, home, do unto them all the good you can, as to Christ himself. If you would behold God himself, look unto him in Christ crucified, who is the graven image of the Fathers person; and know it to be a terrible thing in the time of the trouble of your conscience, to think of God without Christ, in whose face the glory of God in his endless mercy is to be seen, 2. Cor. 4:6. If you would come to God for grace, for comfort, for salvation, for any blessing, come first to Christ hanging, bleeding, dying upon the cross, without whom there is no hearing God, no helping God, no saving God, no God to thee at all. In a word, let Christ be all things without exception unto thee, Col. 3:11. For when you pray for any blessing either temporal or spiritual, be it whatsoever it will be or can be, you must ask it at the hands of God the Father by the merit and mediation of Christ crucified. Now look as we ask blessings at Gods hand, so must we receive them of him; as they are received, so must we possess and use them daily, namely, as gifts of God procured to us by the merit of Christ: which gifts for this very cause, must be wholly employed to the honor of Christ.

FINIS.

PRECIOUS REMEDIES AGAINST SATAN’S DEVICES: Part Six. Satan’s Devices to Draw the Soul to Sin

Taken, condensed and adapted from, “PRECIOUS REMEDIES AGAINST SATAN’S DEVICES”
Written by, Thomas Brooks

YOM-slider

DEVICE 5: TO PRESENT GOD TO THE SOUL AS ONE MADE UP ALL OF MERCY

Oh! says Satan, you need not make such a matter of sin…

…you need not be so fearful of sin, not so unwilling to sin; for God is a God of mercy, a God full of mercy, a God that delights in mercy, a God that is ready to show mercy, a God that is never weary of showing mercy, a God more prone to pardon his people than to punish his people; and therefore he will not take advantage against the soul; and why then, says Satan, should you make such a matter of sin?

Remedy (1). The first remedy is, seriously to consider, ‘That it is the greatest judgment in the world is to be left alone to sin, upon any pretense whatever.’ O unhappy man! when God leaves you to yourself, and does not resist you in your sins. Woe, woe to him at whose sins God does wink. When God lets the way to hell be a smooth and pleasant way, that is hell on this side hell, and a dreadful sign of God’s indignation against a man; a token of his rejection, and that God does not intend good unto him. That is a sad word, ‘Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone’ (Hosea 4:17); he will be unteachable and incorrigible; he has made a match with mischief, he shall have his bellyful of it; he falls with open eyes; let him fall at his own peril. And that is a terrible saying, ‘So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lusts, and they walked in their own counsels’ (Psalm 81:12). A soul given up to sin is a soul ripe for hell, a soul hastening to destruction!

Ah Lord! this mercy! humbly beg, that whatever you give me up to, you will not give me up to the ways of my own heart; if you will give me up to be afflicted, or tempted, or reproached, I will patiently sit down, and say, “It is the Lord; let him do with me what seems good in his own eyes. Do anything with me, lay what burden you will upon me, so you do not give me up to the ways of my own heart.”

Augustine says, ‘It is a human thing to fall into sin, devilish to persevere therein, and divine to rise from it. Deliver me, O Lord, from that evil man—myself!

Remedy (2). The second remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, That God is as JUST, as he is merciful. As the Scriptures speak Him out to be a very merciful God, so they speak Him out to be a very just God. Witness His casting the angels out of heaven and His binding them in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.  Witness His turning Adam out of Paradise. Witness His drowning of the old world. Witness His raining hell out of heaven upon Sodom. Witness all the troubles, losses, sicknesses, and diseases, which are in the world. Witness Tophet [hell], which “has long been prepared; it has been made ready for the king. Its fire pit has been made deep and wide, with an abundance of fire and wood; the breath of the LORD, like a stream of burning sulfur, sets it ablaze.” (Isaiah 30:33) Witness His treasuring up of wrath against the day of wrath. But above all, witness the pouring forth of all His wrath upon His Bosom Son, when Jesus bore the sins of His people, and cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”

Remedy (3). The third remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That sins against God’s mercy will bring the greatest and sorest judgments upon men’s heads and hearts. Mercy is God’s Alpha, justice is His Omega. David, speaking of these attributes, places mercy in the forefront, and justice in the rearward, saying, “I will sing of Your love and justice.” (Psalm 101:1). When God’s mercy is despised, then His justice takes the throne! God is like a prince, who sends not his army against rebels before he has sent his pardon, and proclaimed it by a herald of arms: he first hangs out the white flag of mercy; if this wins men in, they are happy forever; but if they remain rebellious, then God will put forth his red flag of justice and judgment. If His mercy is despised, His justice shall be felt!

The higher we are in dignity, the more grievous is our fall and misery.

God is slow to anger—but he recompenses his slowness with grievousness of punishment. If we abuse His mercy to serve our lust, then, in Salvian’s phrase, God will rain hell out of heaven, rather than not visit for such sins. See this in the Israelites. He loved them and chose them when they were in their blood, and most unlovely. He multiplied them, not by means—but by miracle; from seventy souls they grew in few years to six hundred thousand; the more they were oppressed, the more they prospered. Like chamomile, the more you tread it, the more you spread it; or like a palm-tree, the more it is pressed, the further it spreads; or like fire, the more it is raked, the more it burns. Their mercies came in upon them like Job’s messengers, one upon the neck of the other: He put off their sackcloth, and girded them with gladness, and ‘compassed them about with songs of deliverance’; he ‘carried them on the wings of eagles’; he kept them ‘as the apple of his eye.’ (Psalm 32:7; Exod. 19:4; Deut. 32:10) But they, abusing his mercy, became the greatest objects of his wrath. As I know not the man who can reckon up his mercies; so I know not the man who can sum up the miseries which are coming upon him for their sins!

For as our Savior prophesied concerning Jerusalem, ‘that a stone should not be left upon a stone,’ so it was fulfilled forty years after his ascension, by Vespasian the emperor and his son Titus, who, having besieged Jerusalem, the Jews were oppressed with a grievous famine, in which their food was old shoes, leather, old hay, and the dung of beasts. There died, partly by the sword and partly by the famine, eleven hundred thousand of the poorer sort; two thousand in one night were slaughtered; six thousand were burned in a porch of the temple; the whole city was sacked and burned, and laid level to the ground; and ninety-seven thousand taken captives, and forced to base and miserable service, as Eusebius and Josephus says. (Vespasian broke into their city at Kedron, where they took Christ, on he same feast day that Christ was taken; he whipped them where they whipped Christ; he sold twenty Jews for a penny, as they sold Christ for thirty pence.) And to this day, in all parts of the world, are they not the offscouring of the world? None more abhorred, than they. Men shall be deeper in hell, because heaven was offered unto them; but they abused God’s mercy. Men’s offences are increased by their obligations.

And so Capernaum, that was lifted up to heaven, was threatened to be thrown down to hell. No souls fall so low into hell, if they fall, as those souls that by a hand of mercy are lifted up nearest to heaven. You who are so apt to abuse God’s mercy, consider this, that in the gospel days, the plagues that God inflicts upon the despisers and abusers of mercy are usually spiritual plagues; as blindness of mind, hardness of heart, numbness of conscience, which are ten thousand times worse than the worst of outward plagues which can befall you. And therefore, though you may escape temporal judgments, yet you shall not escape spiritual judgments: ‘How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:3) says the apostle. Oh! therefore, whenever Satan shall present God to the soul as one made up all of mercy, that he may draw you to do wickedly, say unto him, that sins against God’s mercy, will bring upon the soul the greatest misery; and therefore whatever becomes of you, you will not sin against mercy.

Remedy (4). The fourth remedy against this device of Satan, is seriously to consider, That though God’s general mercy is over all his works, yet his special mercy is confined to those who are divinely qualified. Augustus, in his solemn feasts, gave trifles to some—but gold to others whom his heart was most set upon. So God, by a hand of general mercy, gives these poor trifles—outward blessings, to those who he least loves; but his gold, special mercy, is only towards those who his heart is most set upon. So in Exodus 34:6, 7: ‘And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, patient, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty.’ Exodus 20:6, ‘And showing mercy unto thousands of those who love me, and keep my commandments.’ Psalm 25:10, ‘All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth, unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies.’ Psalm 32:10, ‘Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall compass him about.’ Psalm 33:18, ‘Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon those who fear him, upon those who hope in his mercy.’ Psalm 103:11, ‘For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward those who fear him.’ Ver. 17, ‘But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear him.’

When Satan attempts to draw you to sin by presenting God as a God all made up of mercy, oh then reply, that though God’s general mercy extend to all the works of his hand, yet his special mercy is confined to those who are divinely qualified, to those who love him and keep his commandments, to those who trust in him, that by hope hang upon him, and who fear him; and that you must be such a one here, or else you can never be happy hereafter; you must partake of his special mercy, or else eternally perish in everlasting misery, notwithstanding God’s general mercy.

Remedy (5). The fifth remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, ‘That those who were once glorious on earth, and are now triumphing in heaven, did look upon the mercy of God as the most powerful argument to preserve them from sin, and to fence their souls against sin; and not as an encouragement to sin. Psalm 26:3-5: ‘For I am constantly aware of your unfailing love, and I have lived according to your truth. I do not spend time with liars or go along with hypocrites. I hate the gatherings of those who do evil, and I refuse to join in with the wicked.’

So Joseph strengthens himself against sin from the remembrance of mercy: ‘How then can I,’ says he, ‘do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ (Gen. 39:9). He had his eye fixed upon mercy, and therefore sin could not enter, though the irons entered into his soul; his soul being taken with mercy, was not moved with his mistress’s impudence. Satan knocked often at the door—but the sight of mercy would not allow him to answer or open. Joseph, like a pearl in a puddle, keeps his virtue still. (The stone called Pontaurus, is said by some to be of that virtue, that it preserves him who carries it, from taking any hurt by poison. The mercy of God in Christ to our souls is the most precious stone or pearl in the world, to prevent us from being poisoned with sin.)

Likewise with Paul: ‘Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we who are dead to sin, live any longer therein?’ (Rom. 6:1, 2). There is nothing in the world that renders a man more unlike to a saint, and more like to Satan—than to argue from God’s mercy to sinful liberty; from divine goodness to licentiousness. This is the devil’s logic, and in whomever you find it, you may write, ‘This soul is lost!’ A man may as truly say, ‘the sea burns’, or ‘the fire cools’—as that God’s free grace and mercy should make a truly gracious soul to live wickedly. So the same apostle said: ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service’ (Rom. 12:1). So John: ‘These things I write unto you, that you sin not (1 John 2:1, 2). What was it that he wrote? He wrote: ‘That we might have fellowship with the Father and his Son; and that the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin; and that if we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins; and that if we do sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.’

These choice favors and mercies the apostle holds forth as the choicest means to preserve the soul from sin, and to keep at the greatest distance from sin; and if this will not do it…

…you may write the man void of Christ and grace, and undone forever!

True Righteousness vs. The Counterfeits of Conversion, Including that of a False Regeneration.

Taken, adapted, condensed, and brought into modern English, from, “A Sure Guide to Heaven”
Written by, Joseph Alleine

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And truly my beloved, the Devil has made many counterfeits of this Conversion…

…and he cheats some with this, and another with that. Such is the craft and artifice he has, that in this mystery of deceits, if it were possible, he would deceive the very elect. Now if I may cure the damnable mistakes of some, –who think they are converted when they are not, as well as remove the troubles and fears of others, that think they are not converted when they are; I shall show you the nature of conversion, and we will begin with the Negative.

1    It is not the taking upon us the profession of Christianity.

Doubtless Christianity is more than a name. If we will hear Paul, it lies not in word, but in power, –1 Cor. 4:20. If it was to cease from being Jews and Pagans, and to put on the Christian Profession had been true conversion, (as this is all, that some would have us to understand) who better Christians than they of Sardis and Laodicea? These were all Christians by profession, and had a name to live, but because they had only a name, they are condemned by Christ, and are threatened to be spewed out, –Rev. 3:1, 16. 

And are there not many that name the name of the Lord Jesus, but are not yet departed from iniquity? –2 Tim. 2:19. And do they not profess that they know God, but in their works deny him? –Titus 1:16. And will God receive them as true converts, because they have merely turned to the Christian Religion?

What, kind of person converts from sin, and yet still lives in sin? This is a visible contradiction. Surely if the lamp of profession would have served the turn, the foolish Virgins had never been shut out, –Matthew 25: 3, 12.

We find not only professors but Preachers of Christ and Wonder-workers cast out, because of their evil works.  –Matthew 7:22, 23.

2    It is not the being washed in the Laver of Regeneration; as in putting on the badge of Christ in baptism.

Many take the money, and wear the Livery of Christ, yet never stand to those colors, nor follow their leader. Ananias and Sapphira were baptized as well as the rest. How fondly do many make that mistake here, –deceiving, and being deceived! They are dreaming that effectual grace is necessarily tied to the external administration of Baptism. (but what is it, except to revive the Popish tenant, of the Sacraments as a working grace, ex opera operato?)

Hence men do fancy, that by being regenerated already when baptized, they need no further work. But if this were so, then all that were baptized in their infancy must necessarily be saved: because the promise of pardon and salvation is made upon conversion and regeneration.  –Acts 3:19, 1 Peter 3:4. Mathew 19:28

Our Calling, and sanctification (or, the beginnings of it), or Conversion (which are but the same thing, under different conception and expression) is but a middle link in the golden chain, fastened to election at one end, and glorification at the other, –Romans 8:30, 2 Thess. 2:13, 1 Peter 1:2. The silver cord may not be broken, nor the connection between Sanctification and Salvation, between grace and glory, impiously violated, –Matthew 5:8. If we were indeed begotten again, it is to an inheritance incorruptible reserved in heaven for us, and the divine power is engaged to keep us for it, –1 Pet. 1:5. But if we say that the very regenerate may perish at last in their sins, then we can no more say, that he is born of God, his seed remains in him, and that he cannot sin, (1 John 3:9) i.e. unto death, nor that it is impossible to deceive the very elect, –Matthew 24:24.

But indeed if Baptismal Regeneration be true, then we need look no farther to see our names written in Heaven, than to only search the Register, and see whether we were baptized: then I would keep the certificate of my baptism, as my fairest evidence for Heaven, and as my assurance of my gracious state.

In short, if it is to be believed, that there is nothing more necessary to conversion or regeneration, than to be turned to the Christian Religion, or to be baptized in infancy, then this will fly directly in the face of that Scripture, (Matthew 7:14) as well as multitudes of others. For then we could no longer say, “strait is the gate and narrow is the way”; for if all that are baptized, and are of the true Religion, and are saved, then the door is become heavenly wide, and we will henceforth say, wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leads unto life, for if this be true, then whole Parishes, yes, whole Countries, and whole Kingdoms may go in abreast, and we will no more need to teach, that the righteous shall scarcely be saved, or that there is need of such a stir in taking the Kingdom of Heaven by violence, and driving to enter in. Surely if the way be so easy that many make it, then there is little more that is necessary, than to be regenerated by our baptism, and then to cry God’s mercy, and be absolved by the Minister at our end; ’tis more ado than needs to be put ourselves to such running, and seeking, and knocking, and fighting, and wrestling, as the word of God requires as necessary to Salvation.

Secondly, if this be true, we will no more say, “few there be that find it; yea we will rather say, few there be that miss it: we will no more say, that of the many that are called, but few are chosen, –Mathew 22:14, and that and that even of the professing Israel, but a remnant shall be saved, –Romans 11:5. Indeed, if this Doctrine be true, we will not say any more with the Disciples, who then shall be saved? But rather, we shall say, who then shall not be saved? Or, that if a man be called a brother, that is a Christian and be baptized, though he be a fornicator, or a fighter, or covetous, or a drunkard, yet he shall inherit the Kingdom of God, –1 Cor. 5:11, 1 Cor. 6: 9, 10.

But the Arminians will reply; such as these though they did receive regenerating grace in Baptism, are since fallen away, and must be renewed again, or else they cannot be saved.

I answer,

  1. That there is an infallible connection between regeneration and salvation, as we have already showed, and I really itch to give farther evidence, –but that is against modest brevity.
  2. Then men must be born again, which carries a great deal of absurdity in its very face. And why may not men be twice born in nature, as well as in grace? Why is it not as great an absurdity to be twice regenerated as to be twice generated?

But 3. And above all, this grants the very thing I contend for, that whatever men do, or pretend to do, to receive in baptism, if they are found afterwards to be grossly ignorant, or profane, or formal, without the power of godliness, then they must be born again, or else be shut out of the kingdom of God. So then they must have more to plead for themselves, than their baptismal regeneration.

Well, in this all are agreed, that when men come to years and if they are evidently unsanctified, they must be renewed again by a through and powerful change, or else they cannot escape the damnation of Hell. Friends and Brethren, be not deceived, God is not mocked; Gal. 6:7. Whether it be your baptism, or whatever else that you pretend, I tell you from the living God, that if any of you be a prayer-less person, John 15:14, or unclean, or malicious, or covetous, or riotous, or a scoffer, or a lover of evil company, Prov. 13. 20, –in word, if you are not a holy, strict and self-denying Christian, Hebrews 12:14, Matthew 16:24, you cannot be saved, except you be transformed by a further work upon you, and you are renewed again by repentance.

Thus, as I have stated, it is not enough to show evidence that a man is regenerate, because he has been baptized, for because effectual grace does not necessarily accompany baptism, –as some have vainly asserted. But I must answer one objection before I pass.

Object. The Sacraments do certainly attain their ends, where man doth not ponere obicem, or lay some obstruction, which infants do not.

Solution. I answer, it is not the end of Baptism to regenerate,

  1. Because then there would be no reason as to why baptismal regeneration would be confined only to the seed of Believers. For both the Law of God and the nature of Charity, would require us to use this means of conversion for all, and for as far as we can have opportunity. Were Baptismal Regeneration true, would it not be love to catch the children of Turks and Heathens, and baptize them, and then dispatch them to Heaven out of hand, like the bloody wretches do to the poor Protestants, and then put them forthwith to death, saying. They would hang them while they are in a good mind.
  2. Because baptism presupposes regeneration, and therefore cannot be intended to confer it. “In all the instances in Scripture, we find that baptism presupposes their repenting, believing, receiving the Holy Ghost, -Acts 8:37, Acts. 2:38, Acts 10:47, Mark 16:16. And to imagine, that baptism was instituted for an end of which not one of the first subjects for which it was capable is no little absurdity. For the persons mentioned were adults, and supposedly were to have faith and repentance according as they had professed. But if the doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration were true, baptism would make even little children disciples, but we do not find it spoken of as such. Because Baptism, being but an outward Seal of the Covenant cannot convey the benefits of the Covenant, but acts according to the tenor of the Covenant, to which it is set.

Now the Covenant is conditional, therefore the, Seal conveys conditionally. The Covenant requires faith and repentance, as the condition of the grand benefits which are pardon, and life, Acts 16:31, Acts 3:19.

And what the Covenant does not convey but upon these set conditions, the Seal cannot. So that Baptism actually presupposes faith and repentance in the person, and without this faith and repentance, baptism cannot convey the saving benefits; otherwise, as a seal it would convey benefits that are contrary to the Covenant of which it is affixed.

4    Baptismal Regeneration lies not in a moral righteousness. This righteousness exceeds not the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, and therefore cannot bring us to the Kingdom of God, Matthew 5:20. Paul, while unconverted, in touching the righteousness which is in the law, was blameless, Phil. 3:6. None could say anything was wrong with Paul. The self-judiciary could say, I am no extortioner, adulterer, or unjust, person. Luke 18:11. You must have something more than all this to show, or else God will condemn you. I condemn not morality, but warn you not to rest here. Piety includes morality, just as Christianity includes humanity, and Grace includes reason. But we must not divide the tables.

5    True righteousness consists not in an external conformity to the Rules of Piety. This is also manifest, men may have a form of godliness, without the power, 2 Timothy 3:5. Men may pray long, Mat. 13:14. and fast often, Luke 18:12. and hear gladly, Mark 6:20. and be very aggressive in the service of God, though costly and expensive, Isaiah 1:11, and yet be strangers to Conversion. They must have more to plead for themselves, then that they keep to their Church, and give alms, and make use of prayer to prove themselves found Converts. It is not an outward service for even a hypocrite can do that; even to the giving of all his goods to the poor, and his members to the fire, 1 Cor. 13:3.

6    True righteousness lies not in the chaining up of corruption, by education, or by humane laws or the force of incumbent affliction. It is all too common and easy, to mistake education for grace; but if this were enough, who a better man then Jehoash? While Jehoiada his uncle lived he was very forward in Gods service, and calls upon him to repair the house of the Lord, 2 kings 12:2, 7. But here was nothing more than good education for all this while: for when his good tutor was taken out of the way, he appears to have been but a wolf chained up; and falls into Idolatry.

7    In short, True righteousness consists not in illumination, or conviction, or in a superficial change or partial reformation. An apostate may be a man enlightened, Hebrews 6:4, and a Felix tremble under convictions, Acts 24:25, and a Herod amend many things, Mark 6:20. It is one thing to have sin frightened by convictions, and another to have it captivated and crucified by converting grace. Many, because they have been troubled and worried in conscience for their sins, may think well about their chances for salvation… but they are miserably mistaking conviction for conversion.

With this misunderstanding, Cain might have parted for a Convert, –because he ran up and down the world, like a man distracted under the rage of a guilty conscience, till with building and business he had worn it away, Genesis 4:13,14. Others think, that because they have left, off their riotous lifestyle, and are broken off from evil company, or some particular lust, and are now reduced to sobriety and civility, that somehow they are now nothing other than real Converts, forgetting that there is a vast difference between being sanctified, and civilized: For many seek to enter into the Kingdom of heaven, Luke 13:24, and are not far from it, Mark 12:34. These people almost arrive to Christianity, Acts 26:28. And yet fall short at the last. While their conscience holds the whip over them, many will pray, hear, read, and forbear their delightful sins: but no sooner is this Lyon asleep, but they are at their vomit again.

Who more religious than the Jews, when Gods hand was upon them? –Psalms 78: 34, 35. But no sooner was the affliction over, but they forgot God, and showed their Religion to be a sin, (verses 36, 37). You may have disgorged a troublesome sin, that will not fit in your stomach, and have escaped those gross pollutions of the world, and yet not have changed your swinish nature all the while, 2 Peter 2:20-22.

You may pour the lead out of the rude mass, into the comelier proportion of a plant, and then you may pour it into the shape of a beast, and from there into the form and features of a man, but all the while it is but lead still. So a man may pass through different transmutations from ignorance into knowledge, from profane to civility, and from there to a form of Religion; and all this while he is still but a carnal and unregenerate person, for his nature remains unchanged.

Application. Hear then O Sinners; hear as you would live; so come and hear; Isaiah 55:3. Why would you so willfully deceive yourselves, or build your hope upon the sand. I know he shall find hard work of it that goes to pluck away your hopes. It cannot but understand why you be ungrateful, and truly, it is not pleasing to me. I set about it as a surgeon, as when he cuts off a putrefied member from his well-beloved friend; which of force he must do, but with an aching heart, pitiful eye, and trembling hand. But understand me, Brethren, I am only taking down the ruinous house, (which will otherwise speedily fall of itself and bury you in the rubbish) that I may build fair and strong, and firm forever. The hope of the wicked shall perish, if God be true to his word, –Proverbs 11:7. And were you not better, O sinner, let the word convince you now, before it is too late; to let go your false and self-deluding hopes, or you will have death to open your eyes, and then you will find yourself left in hell, before you are even aware of it. I would be a false and faithless Shepherd, if I did not tell you that you who have built your hopes upon no better rounds, than these before mentioned, for you are yet in your sins. Let your confidence- speak, what is it that you have to plead for yourselves? Is it because you wear Christ’s livery? Is it that you bear his name as Christian? Or, is that you are part of the visible Church? Perhaps, it is that you think that you have knowledge in the points of Religion? Maybe, you feel that you are converted because you are civilized and perform religious duties, are just in your dealings; or, on the other hand, you have been troubled in conscience for your sins? I tell you from the Lord, these pleas’ will never be accepted at God’s Bar. All this, though good in themselves, will not make you, or prove you converted; and they will not be sufficient to your salvation. O, look about you, and bethink yourselves of turning speedily and soundly. Set to praying, and to reading, and studying your own hearts; rest not, till God has made thorough work within you; for you must, be as saved men, or else you are lost men.

But if the people who do these things be short of Conversion, what shall I say of the profane sinner? It may be, he will scarce cast his eyes, or lend his ears to this discourse. But if there be any such reading, or within hearing, he must know from the Lord that made him, that he is far from the Kingdom of God. If a man be civilized and not be converted; where then shall the Drunkard, and Glutton appear? May a person keep company with the wise Virgins, and still be shut out? Shall not a companion of fools much more be destroyed? –Prov. 13:20. May a man be true and just in his dealings, and yet not be justified by God? What then will become of you, O wretched man, whose conscience tells you, you are false in your trade, and false in your word, and take advantage of people by a lying tongue?

If men may be enlightened, and brought to the performance of holy duties, and yet go down to perdition, for resting in them, and sitting down on this side of conversion; what will become of you, O miserable person, that lives without God in the world? And of you, O wretched sinners, with whom God is scarce in all your thoughts: are that ignorant, that you cannot, or so careless, that you will not pray? O, repent and be converted; break off your sins by righteousness; and get away to Christ for pardoning and renewing grace: give up yourselves to him, to walk with him in holiness, or else you shall never see God.

Oh that you would take the warnings of God! In his name, I once more admonish you. Turn you at my reproof, Prov. 1:23. Forsake the foolish, and live, Prov. 9:6. Be sober, righteous and Godly. Titus 2:12. Wash your hands you sinners, purify your hearts ye double minded, James 4:8. Cease to do evil, learn to do well, Isaiah 1:16, 17. But if you will continue on in your way, you must die. Ezekiel 33:11.

Reconciliation: How it was Effectuated in the Covenant Agreement

Taken and adapted from, “The Doctrine of Reconciliation”
Written by, A.W. Pink

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Reconciliation has been procured by the incarnate Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, for He is the grand and all-sufficient Provision of God for the accomplishing of His purpose.

But it was effected by the Lord Jesus in fulfillment of a Covenant agreement. Unless that be clearly perceived we are without the principal key to the understanding of this stupendous undertaking. There was a time when Christians generally were well instructed in Covenant truth, but alas, a generation has grown up the great majority of which have heard nothing or next to nothing on it. It will therefore be necessary for us to proceed slowly in connection with this fundamental aspect of our subject and enter into considerable detail, for we do not ask the reader to receive ought from our pen until clearly convinced it is in full accord with and has the definite backing of God’s Word. A few of our readers are more or less familiar with what we shall advance, yet it will do them no harm to have brought before them again the foundation on which faith should rest and to ponder the proofs which we now bring forward. The great majority of our readers know that “it is the blood (and that alone, plus nothing from us) that makes an atonement for the soul”(Lev. 17:11), but we wonder how many of them have pondered and grasped the purport of that blessed and remarkable statement “The God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of everlasting covenant” (Heb.13:20). That implies, first, that there was a covenant-agreement between God and our Lord Jesus; second, that it was a covenant made with Him as the Head of His people—”that great Shepherd of the sheep;” third, that Christ performed the condition of the covenant; fourth, that it was as the propitiated and reconciled One that God here acted; fifth, that it was in fulfillment of covenant purpose that He raised Christ; sixth, that Christ’s blood was the meritorious ground on which He (and all the saints in Him) was delivered from the prison of the grave; seventh, that hereby the Church has Divine assurance of its complete redemption and salvation. We cannot dwell upon these points but would request a careful weighing of them as introductory to what follows.

Three things are necessary in order to have a covenant, the parties, the terms, and the agreement.

A “covenant” is a solemn pact or contract in which there are certain “articles” or conditions to be performed, in return for which performance an agreed award is promised and assured. It is a mutual agreement in which one party guarantees a stipulated return for the other’s fulfillment of the work he had pledged himself to undertake. It is an agreement entered into voluntarily by both parties (see Matthew 26:15). The two parties in “the everlasting covenant” were the Father and the Son—the Holy Spirit concurring therein, being the Witness, and agreeing to co-operate in the same. In Scripture the Father is represented as taking the initiative in this matter, proposing to His Son the terms of the covenant. The Father proposed a federal transaction in which the Son should take upon Him the Mediatorial office and serve as the Head of His people, thereby assuming and discharging their liabilities and bringing in an everlasting righteousness for them. The Son is represented as freely and gladly consenting to it.

It needs to be pointed out and emphatically insisted upon that the Son was not so circumstanced antecedently to His susception of the Mediatorial office that He could not have avoided the humiliation and sufferings which He endured. We shall explain later the precise meaning of His words “My Father is greater than I”(John 14:28), “neither came I of Myself but He sent Me” (John 8:42), “this commandment (to lay down His life) have I received of My Father”(John 10:18); sufficient now to point out they have no reference whatever to His condition and position prior to the Covenant, for He then enjoyed absolute equality with the Father in every way. The Son might have resigned the whole human race to the dire consequences of their apostasy and have remained Himself everlastingly blessed and glorious. It was by His own voluntary consent that He entered into covenant engagement with the Father. In that free consent lay the excellency of it. It was His willing obedience and personal merits which gave infinite value to His oblation. Behind that willingness lay His love for the Father and His love for the Church.

On the other hand, it is equally true that though the Son had pitied, yea to so love the elect (fore-viewed as fallen) that He was willing to become their Surety and Substitute, yet He could not have redeemed them without the Father’s acceptance of His sacrifice. The Father too must consent to such an undertaking. Thus, there must be a mutual agreement between Them. The relation which Christ assumed to His people and the work He did for them presupposed the Father’s willingness to it. Before passing on it must also be pointed out that in consenting to become Mediator and Servant, and as such in subjection to the Father, the Son did not surrender any of His perfections not relinquish any of His Divine rights, but He agreed to assume an inferior office and for a season to be subordinate to the Father’s will. This was for the glory of the whole Godhead and the salvation of His people. After He became incarnate He was still in possession of His essential glory, though He was pleased to veil it in large measure from men and make Himself of “no reputation” in the world.

Before adducing proof-texts of the covenant made between the Father and the Son, let us call attention to a number of passages which clearly imply it and which otherwise are not fully intelligible. Take Christ’s very first recorded utterance after He became incarnate: “Do you not know that I must be about My Father’s business”(Luke 2:49). Did not that intimate He had entered this world with a clearly defined and Divinely designed task before Him? “I came clown from heaven not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me”(John 6:38) is even more explicit. Such subordination of one Divine person to another argues a mutual agreement between Them, and that, for some unique end. “Say you of Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the World; You blaspheme, because I said, I am the Son of God?” (John 10:36). Observe carefully the order of the two verbs: Christ was “sanctified” by the Father—that is, set apart and consecrated to His mediatorial office—before He was “sent” into the world! “Other sheep I have . . . them also I must bring” (John 10:16)—why “must” unless He was under definite engagement to do so?

That Christ went to the cross in fulfillment of a covenant-agreement may be gathered from His own words: “truly the Son of man goes as it was determined”(Luke 22:22), with which should be linked “Of a truth against Your holy child Jesus, whom You have anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together, for to do whatsoever Your hand and Your counsel determined before to be done” (Acts 4:27, 28). When you stand before the cross and gaze by faith upon its august Sufferer recognize that He was there fulfilling the compact into which He entered with the Father before the world was. His blood shedding was necessary—”ought not Christ to have suffered these things!” (Luke 24:26). He asked—because of the relation He sustained to His people as their Surety. He was pledged to secure their salvation in such a way as glorified God and magnified His Law, for that had been Divinely “determined” and mutually agreed upon in the everlasting Covenant. Had not Christ died there would have been no atonement, no reconciliation to God; equally true is it that, had there been no covenant, Christ had never died!

Every passage where Christ owns the Father as His God (during the days of His flesh) witnesses to the same truth. When Jehovah established His covenant with Abraham He promised “I will. . .be a God unto You and to your seed” (Gen. 17:8), and therefore when He “remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob”(Ex. 2:25) and revealed Himself to Moses at the burning bush preparatory to delivering His people from Egypt, He declared Himself to be “The Lord God of your fathers: the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob: this is My name forever and this is My memorial to all generations”(Ex. 3:15). This is My covenant title and the guarantee of My covenant faithfulness. So too the grand promise of the new covenant is “I . . .will be their God” (Jer. 31:33 and Heb. 8:10). If then the Father had entered into covenant with His Son we should expect to find Him owning Him as His God during the days of His flesh. And this is exactly what we do find. “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me” was not only a cry of agony, but an acknowledgement of covenant relationship. “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God”(John 20:17). So also after His ascension. He declared, “Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the Temple of My God. . .and I will write upon Him the Name of My God, and the name of the city of My God” (Rev. 3:12).

Turning to the Epistles we find many passages which presuppose the Father’s covenant with Christ before creation on behalf of His people. “Who has saved us. . .according to His own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began”(2 Tim. 1:9). Even at that time, if time it may be called, there was a federal relationship subsisting between Christ and the Church, though it was not made fully manifest until He became incarnate. That subsisting relationship formed the basis of the whole economy of Divine grace toward them after the fall, as it was the ground on which God pardoned the O. T. saints and bestowed spiritual blessings upon them. “In hope of eternal life which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world was”(Titus 1:2). Does not that “promised” imply an agreement that God made promise to Christ as the Covenant Head and to His people in Him? Christ was faithful to Him that appointed Him (Heb. 3:2). As “obedience” implies a precept, so “faithfulness” connotes a trust, and a trust wherein one has engaged himself to perform that trust according to directions given him.

Passing now from indirect allusions to what is more specific, we begin with Psalm 89:3. “I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David My Servant.” The immediate allusion is to the historical David, but the spiritual reference is to David’s Son and Lord. This is clear from many considerations. First, the striking and lofty manner in which this Psalm opens intimates that its leading theme must be one of great weight and value. “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, Mercy shall be built up forever, your faithfulness shall You establish in the very heavens”(vv. 1, 2). Such language denotes that no ordinary or common “mercies” are in view, but those which when apprehended fill the hearts of the redeemed with holy songs and cause them to magnify the fidelity of Jehovah as nothing else does. Thus, such an introduction should prepare us to expect Divine revelation of extreme importance and blessedness.

Second, “I have made a covenant with My Chosen” (same word as My Elect in Isa. 42:1). I have sworn unto David (which means Beloved) My Servant. In the following passages it may be seen that Christ is expressly referred to as “David” by the prophets (Jer. 30:9; Ezek. 34:23; 37:24; Hosea 3:5) and let it be duly borne in mind that all those predictions were made long after the historical David had passed away from this scene. “You spoke in vision to Your Holy One and said: I have laid help upon One that is mighty, I have exalted One chosen out of the people (Deut. 18:15), 1 have found David My Servant, with My holy oil have I anointed Him” (vv. 19, 20). Who can doubt that a greater than the son of Jesse is here before us? But more: God goes on to say “I will make Him My Firstborn higher than the kings of the earth… My covenant shall stand fast with Him”(vv. 27, 28)—does not that establish beyond a doubt the identity of the One with whom Jehovah made the covenant! Such declarations pertain to no mere human being.

Third, the covenant promises here made establish the same fact. “His seed will I make to endure forever and His throne as the days of heaven”(v. 29)—the throne of the historical David perished over two thousand years ago! That this promise was to be fulfilled in Christ is clear from Luke 1:31-33, where it was said to Mary. You “shall call His name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever and of His kingdom there shall be no end.” Another proof that it is not the typical David who is viewed in this Psalm appears in “If His children forsake My Law . . . then will I visit their transgression with the rod”(vv. 30-32). Had it been the successor of Saul who was the subject of this Psalm it had said “If he shall break My Law. . .! will visit his transgression with the rod” —as he was sorely chastised for so grievously wronging Uriah. No, it is Christ and His spiritual children who are referred to, and it is because of God’s covenant with Him that He casts then not off. (See vv. 33-36).

Fourth, in Acts 13:34 Paul proved the resurrection of Christ thus: “As concerning that He raised Him from the dead to return no more to corruption, He said on this wise: I will give you the sure mercies of David.” But in what did that quotation from Isaiah 55:3 provide proof? By the resurrection of Christ the “sure mercies of David” are confirmed unto His children. If they are in possession of them, then Christ must have risen! That word of Paul’s looks back beyond Isaiah 55 to Psalm 89, which, as we have seen, begins thus: “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever.” The principal mercies are “I have made a covenant with My chosen . . . Your seed will I establish forever, and build up Your throne for all generations”(vv. 3, 4). Here then are “the sure mercies of David:” that God has covenanted to raise up Christ and set Him at His own right hand from where, on His mediatorial throne, He communicates those mercies to His seed. All doubt on this point is removed by Peter’s avowal that through David God had sworn that “Of the fruit of his loins . . . He would raise up Christ to sit on His throne”(Acts 2:30 and see v. 33).

On Psalm 89:3, 4 the immortal Toplady said, “Do you suppose that this was spoken to David in his own person only? No, indeed; but to David as the type, figure, and forerunner of Jesus Christ. ‘I have sworn unto David My Servant’ unto the Messiah, who was typified by David, unto My co-equal Son, who stipulated to take upon Himself ‘the form of a servant.’ ‘Your seed’ all those that I have given unto you in the decree of election; all those whom you shall live and die to redeem. Those ‘will I establish forever,’ so as to render their salvation irreversible and inadmissible. ‘And build up Your Throne:’ Your mediatorial throne, as King of saints and covenant Head of the elect. ‘To all generations:’ there shall always be a succession of favored sinners to be called and sanctified, in consequence of Your federal obedience unto death, and every period of time shall recompense Your covenant sufferings with an increasing revenue of converted souls, until as many as were ordained to eternal life shall be gathered in” (Author of that precious hymn “Rock of Ages”).

PRECIOUS REMEDIES AGAINST SATAN’S DEVICES: Part Five. Satan’s Devices to Draw the Soul to Sin

Taken, condensed and adapted from, “PRECIOUS REMEDIES AGAINST SATAN’S DEVICES”
Written by, Thomas Brooks

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“Yes, Show the man the pleasure of his favorite sin, but hide the sorrow.”

DEVICE 4: By presenting to the soul the best men’s sins, and by hiding from the soul their virtues; by showing the soul their sins, and by hiding from the soul their sorrows and repentance…

…as by setting before the soul the adultery of David, the pride of Hezekiah, the impatience of Job, the drunkenness of Noah, the blasphemy of Peter, etc., and by hiding from the soul the tears, the sighs, the groans, the meltings, the humblings, and repentings of these precious souls.

Remedy 1. The first remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That the Spirit of the Lord has been as careful to note the saints’ rising by repentance out of sin, as he has to note their falling into sins. David falls fearfully—but by repentance he rises sweetly. ‘Blot out my transgressions, wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, cleanse me from my sin; for I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow; deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, God of my salvation.’ It is true, Hezekiah’s heart was lifted up under the abundance of mercy that God had cast in upon him; and it is as true that Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, so that the wrath of the Lord came not upon him, nor upon Jerusalem, in the days of Hezekiah.  It is true, Job curses the day of his birth, and it is as true that he rises by repentance: ‘Behold, I am vile,’ says he; ‘what shall I answer you? I will lay my hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken—but I will not answer; yes twice—but I will proceed no further. I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear—but now my eye sees you; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes’ (Job 40:4, 5; 42:5, 6).

Tertullian says that he was born for no other purpose but to repent. Peter falls dreadfully—but rises by repentance sweetly; a look of love from Christ melts him into tears. He knew that repentance was the key to the kingdom of grace. As once his faith was so great that he leaped, as it were, into a sea of waters to come to Christ; so now his repentance was so great that he leaped, as it were, into a sea of tears, because he had denied Christ. Some say that, after his sad fall, he was ever and always weeping, and that his face was even furrowed with continual tears. He had no sooner took in poison but he vomited it up again, before it got to the vitals; he had no sooner handled this serpent but he turned it into a rod to scourge his soul with remorse for sinning against such clear light, and strong love, and sweet discoveries of the heart of Christ to him.

Luther confesses that, before his conversion, he met not with a more displeasing word in all his study of divinity than repent—but afterward he took delight in the word. Clement notes that Peter so repented, that all his life after, every night when he heard the cock crow, he would fall upon his knees, and, weeping bitterly, would beg pardon of his sin. Ah, souls, you can easily sin as the saints—but can you repent with the saints? Many can sin with David and Peter, that cannot repent with David and Peter—and so must perish forever! Theodosius the emperor, pressing that he might receive the Lord’s supper, excuses his own foul act by David’s doing the like; to which Ambrose replies, “You have followed David transgressing, follow David repenting, and then think you of the table of the Lord.”

Remedy 2. The second remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, that these saints did not make a trade of sin. They fell once or twice, and rose by repentance, that they might keep the closer to Christ forever. They fell accidentally, occasionally, and with much reluctance; and you sin presumptuously, obstinately, readily, delightfully, and customarily. The saints cannot sin with a whole will—but, as it were, with a half-will, an unwillingness; not with a full consent—but with a dissenting consent. You have, by your making a trade of sin, contracted upon your soul a kind of cursed necessity of sinning, that you can as well cease to be, or cease to live, as you can cease to sin. Sin is, by custom, become as another nature to you, which you cannot, which you will not lay aside, though you know that if you do not lay sin aside, God will lay your soul aside forever; though you know that if sin and your soul do not part, Christ and your soul can never meet.

If you will make a trade of sin, and cry out—Did not David sin thus, and Noah sin thus, and Peter sin thus? No! their hearts turned aside to folly one day—but your heart turns aside to folly every day (2 Peter 2:14, Prov. 4:6); and when they were fallen, they rise by repentance, and by the actings of faith upon a crucified Christ. But you fall, and have no strength nor will to rise—but wallow in sin, and will eternally die in your sins, unless the Lord be the more merciful to your soul. Do you think, O soul, this is good reasoning? — Such a one tasted poison but once, and yet narrowly escaped; but I daily drink poison, yet I shall escape. Yet such is the mad reasoning of vain souls. David and Peter sinned once foully and fearfully; they tasted poison but once, and were sick to death; but I taste it daily, and yet shall not taste of eternal death. Remember, O souls! that the day is at hand when self-flatterers will be found self-deceivers, yes, self-murderers! Though sin dwells in the regenerate, yet it does not reign over the regenerate; they rise by repentance.

Remedy 3. The third remedy against this device of Satan is, seriously to consider, That though God does not, nor never will, disinherit his people for their sins, yet he has severely punished his people for their sins. David sins, and God breaks his bones for his sin: ‘Make me to hear joy and gladness, that the bones which you have broken may rejoice’ (Psalm 51:8). ‘And because you have done this, the sword shall never depart from your house, to the day of your death’ (2 Sam. 12:10). Though God will not utterly take from them his loving-kindness, nor allow his faithfulness to fail, nor break his covenant, nor alter the thing that is gone out of his mouth, yet will he ‘visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes’ (Psalm 89:30, 35). The Scripture abounds with instances of this kind. This is so known a truth among all that know anything of truth, that to cite more scriptures to prove it would be to light a candle to see the sun at noon. Josephus reports that, not long after the Jews had crucified Christ on the cross, so many of them were condemned to be crucified that there were not places enough for crosses nor crosses enough for the bodies that were to be hung thereon.

The Jews have a proverb, ‘That there is no punishment comes upon Israel in which there is not one ounce of the golden calf’; meaning that that was so great a sin, as that in every plague God remembered it; that it had an influence into every trouble that befell them. Every man’s heart may say to him in his sufferings, as the heart of Apollodorus in the kettle, ‘I have been the cause of this.’ God is most angry when he shows no anger. God keep me from this mercy; this kind of mercy is worse than all other kind of misery.  One writing to a dead friend has this expression: ‘I account it a part of unhappiness not to know adversity; I judge you to be miserable, because you have not been miserable.’

Luther says, ‘There is not a Christian that carries not his cross.’ It is mercy that our affliction is not execution—but a correction. He who has deserved hanging, may be glad if he escapes with a whipping. God’s corrections are our instructions, his lashes our lessons, his scourges our schoolmasters, his chastisements our admonitions. And to note this, both the Hebrews and the Greeks express chastening and teaching by one and the same word because the latter is the true end of the former, according to that in the proverb, ‘Smart makes wit, and vexation gives understanding.’ Whence Luther fitly calls affliction The Christian man’s divinity.’ So says Job (Chap. 33:14-19), ‘But God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. He speaks in dreams, in visions of the night when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in bed. He whispers in their ear and terrifies them with his warning. He causes them
to change their minds; he keeps them from pride. He keeps them from the grave, from crossing over the river of death. Or God disciplines people with sickness and pain, with ceaseless aching in their bones.’ When Satan shall tell you of other men’s sins to draw you to sin—then think of the same men’s sufferings to keep you from sin. Lay your hand upon your heart, and say, O my soul! if you sin with David, you must suffer with David!

Remedy 4. The fourth remedy against this device of Satan is, solemnly to consider, that there are but two main ends of God’s recording of the falls of his saints. And the one is, to keep those from fainting, sinking, and despair, under the burden of their sins, who fall through weakness and infirmity. And the other is, that their falls may be as landmarks to warn others to take heed lest they fall.

It never entered into the heart of God to record his children’s sins, that others might be encouraged to sin—but that others might look to themselves, and hang the faster upon the skirts of Christ, and avoid all occasions and temptations that may occasion the soul to fall, as others have fallen, when they have been left by Christ. The Lord has made their sins as landmarks, to warn his people to take heed how they come near those sands and rocks, those snares and baits, that have been fatal to the choicest treasures, namely—the joy, peace, comfort, and glorious enjoyments of the bravest spirits and noblest souls that ever sailed through the ocean of this sinful troublesome world; as you may see in David, Job, and Peter. There is nothing in the world that can so notoriously cross the grand end of God’s recording of the sins of his saints, then for any from thence to take encouragement to sin; and wherever you find such a soul, you may write him Christless, graceless, a soul cast off by God, a soul that Satan has by the hand, and the eternal God knows where he will lead him. I have known a good man, says Bernard, who, when he heard of any that had committed some notorious sin, he was accustomed to say with himself—he fell today, so may I tomorrow.