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are all sweet and delightful to a real believer; and they are said to be so on a threefold account. First, On the account of the purchase which the due and full improvement of those graces, in him, hath made for God's elect. Hence those expressions of the apostle: “Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood,” Acts xx. 28. “Which is the earnest of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory," Ephes. i. 14. That stock of grace put into the first Adam's hand, to be improved for himself, and us his posterity, was lost; and therefore both he, and we in him, are become mere bankrupts, incapable of ever paying to justice a ransom for our own redemption. But the stock of grace wherewith the second Adam was entrusted for God's elect, was improved to the uttermost, for the everlasting advantage of God's chosen. Hereby Christ hath purchased for the elect justification, sanctification, and all other good, spiritual and temporal. Secondly, The personal graces of Christ are sweet and delightful to the real believer, on the account of their being both the original from which the graces of the believers receive their first rise and their after-nourishment. Christ's fulness is the fountain; the graces in believers are the streams, or springs, which flow therefrom. Hence we have that expression of the true church of real believers, Psalm lxxxvii. 7; “ All *
my springs are in thee.” From this Christ assures all believers of the infallible certainty of their eternal salvation. “Because I live, ye shall live also,” John xiv. 19. “ Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except ye abide in me,” John xv. 4.
Thirdly, The imputation of the perfection of Christ's graces to the believer, is that which renders both the believer's weak graces, and all his imperfect performances, acceptable and pleasing to God.
They who question or oppose this, will find it a hard task to shew in what other sense the scriptures following are to be taken: “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved,” Ephes. i. 6. “And another angel came and stood at the altar, liaving a golden censer; and, there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it, with the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar, which is before the throne," Rev. viii. 3.
The highest and most refined acts of sanctification in believers, even those acts which come nearest to that sinless perfection which it is every believer's duty to strive after, are imperfect, and therefore stand in need of the spotless sanctification of the mediator to recommend them to God. Pertinent to the purpose in hand is that of St. Augustin, “Domine, lava lachrymas meas O Lord, wash thou my tears of repentance. “Unto him that
loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” Rev. i. 5. “And have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” Rev: vii. 14.
Secondly, By the fruit of Christ we are to understand his word. This is the meaning of the spouse in Cant. v. 16. “His mouth is most sweet; yea, he is altogether lovely.”
Here the words of Christ are synechdochically intended; by which the love and grace of God to sinners elect, and chosen in Christ, is revealed in the gospel, and made sensibly manifest in the consciences of true believers by the Holy Ghost. With this accords that of the Psalmist, “ How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” • There are three things which bespeak the words of Christ sweet and delightful to a real believer.
First, The suitableness of them to a believer's necessitous condition.
What is it which bespeaks the gospel of Christ to be so sweet and preferable before the law, but the suitableness thereof to poor distressed sinking souls; the doctrine thereof being a system of sweet and precious promises, suited to every condition in which believers can be in this life; according to 2 Cor. i. 20;“ For all the promises of God, in him are yea, and in him amen, to the glory of God by us.” · And 2 Pet. i. 4. “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye may be inade partakers of the divine nature.” The suitableness, then, of the words of Christ's mouth, is one thing which bespeaks them sweet and delightful to a real believer. What is, or can be, more suitable to a creature who is dying of the wounds given him by sin, than the glad tidings and discovery of a Saviour, who is both able and willing to save and reconcile him to God? “ The Spirit of the Lord,” saith Christ, “ is upon me, because he liath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor: he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised,” Luke iv. 18.
What makes bodily medicaments, or plasters, so valued and desirable, but their suitableness to the distemper or ailment of the body?
A promise of the everlasting covenant of God's grace, suited to the afflicted, tempted, and despairing condition of a poor sinner, is like physic or a plaster suited to the body. When the poor sinner inwardly feels, through the powerful influence of the Holy Ghost, the healing virtue of the promise, O how sweet and comfortable is such a promise to that soul! “I will never forget thy precepts,” saith holy David, “ for with them thou hast quickened me,” Psal. cxix. 93. Every experienced believer can, more or less, tell how surpassing all other words the words of Christ are, and that on the account of their suitableness to the necessitous and straitened condition he has been in. Hence the commendations given, by real experienced believers,
to the word of Christ, above all other writings and sayings whatever. 'I was,' saith one experienced believer to another, 'in such and such a strait, and the Spirit of grace brought such and such a word of promise to my mind and thoughts, and thereby relieved and comforted my drooping pensive spirit.' “And,' saith another, I was so and so tempted in such a place, at such a time, even to a bordering on the very verge or precipice of desperation and ruin; and, when I concluded myself past ail hope of escaping, the blessed Spirit brought to my remembrance such and such a promise, which was every way suited to the tempted condition I was in; and thereby my spirit was stayed and helped.' O how blessed a privilege are those souls favoured with who can speak these things experimentally!
Secondly, The words of Christ are sweet to a real believer on the account of the seasonableness of them. . This was one of the needful qualifications which was to be in Christ, to make him a complete highpriest; namely, to know how to time deliverance and comfort to poor fainting desponding souls. “ The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary,” &c. Isa. 1. 4.
The Spirit of God, by Solomon, tells us, that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in picties of silver,” Prov. xxv. 11. Here we are to understand, that a word in due time and place,