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clearness of that stupendous, condescending demonstration; the apostle John testifies, 1 Epist. i. 1, concerning Christ, saying, “ We have heard, seen with our eyes, looked upon, yea, our hands have handled of the word of life;" and this doth he declare to us from experience of several senses. ( what a blessed thing were it to have an undoubted assurance of the certainty of divine things! O what life would it put into our graces, duties and comforts! what an antidote would it be against temptations, corruptions and persecutions ! Could we as truly believe the reality of the things of God as corporeal objects, what beauty should we discern therein! what comfort should we receive therefrom! what should we not do and endure for them! Did we see the reality, necessity, and excellency of covenant mercies as we do of common mercies, how should our hearts be enamoured therewith ? They that have the most prevailing persuasion of the certainty and transcendency of heavenly mercies, are the most exact and eminent Christians; but a faint belief of these things is the cause of sloth ; all irreligion and prophaneness proceeds from a want of an effectual assent to gospel revelations. Alas, there is more atheism and infidelity in the world than we are aware of. Did men as certainly believe there is a heaven and a hell, as they see and know there are stones and trees, earth and water, would not this have a wonderful influence upon their practice? would they not be other manner of persons than they are ? especially if they did faithfully work upon their hearts the reality of the things of God. Paul and the saints in his days looked not on the things seen, but on things not seen, that is, eternal things, 2 Cor. iv. 18. Moses saw him that was invisible, which made him to endure any thing:—Heb. xi. 27. O Christians, rest not satisfied with a bare conjecture, but press forward till you arrive at a full assurance, you cannot be too sure in these cases,
The apostle hath a mighty full expression, Col. ii. 2, to this purpose; verse 1, he tells of “ a conflict that he had for them, and the Laodiceans," that is, a care, fear, and desire ; good man, he was in a heart-rending conflict, an agony. Why, what is the matter? well, “ it is that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.” Observe the climax, here is,
(1.) Assurance he desires for them; then,
(4.) All riches of full assurance; yea, not a rash and ignorant assurance, but an assurance,
(5.) Of understanding, that is, with a settled judgment, and not only to have such assurance, and keep it to themselves, but all this
(6.) To the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, that they may make an open profession of it.
But why was he so earnest for all this, verse 4, “ This I say, or pray for you, lest any man beguile you with enticing words,” as if he had said, you will find all this little enough when a subtle disputer shall set upon you with cunning artifice to draw you from the truth; you will perhaps feel that you have need of the fullest persuasion that creatures can arrive at, that you may keep your hold, and not be driven away from the hope of the gospel. You little know what storms may assault your faith in the truth of the gospel. Peter made a glorious profession, yet his faith was staggered by a temptation ; and Satan is a cunning sophister-he desires to have you that he may sift you, and toss you so as to shake away the purest grain of gospel truth; he will do what he can to cheat you of your religion ; hence it is, that “ Paul was so jealous over the Corinthians with godly jealousy,— lest by any means, (and he hath store of devices) that as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty; so their minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”—2 Cor. xi. 1—3. Hence it is, that teachers have always been so careful to settle and ground their hearers in the certainty of things they taught, as Luke his Theophilus, and Paul his Timothy.* O sirs, get well assured of these things! Let your faith and persuasion have its full dimensions; let it be deeply rooted, and high built ; take not things upon trustlet every truth have its complete emphasis and efficacy upon your hearts and consciences, especially the main momentous gospel truths, which you must venture your souls upon, and live and die by. You had need consider what ground you stand upon, and be fully persuaded in your own minds.
THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID FURNISH MATERIALS
III. A further use may be suggested, namely, to try us whether we have a real interest in these sure mercies of the covenant; it is one of the most important questions that we can be asked, whether we have a right title to covenant mercies ? Alas, we have forfeited our title to God, or to any good thing from him, by our breach of the old covenant, and now we have nothing to do with God, except only to endure the severe strokes of his sin-revenging justice. O what need have we to try ourselves by an impartial scrutiny! For our better assistance in this great and weighty business, I shall a little explain what it is to enter into covenant in general, next inquire what conditions of the new covenant we can find in our hearts, and then shew a little of the nature and effects of these covenant mercies where they exist.
* Luke i. 3, 4. 2 Tim. iii. 14.
For the first, to enter into covenant with God is to own God as our God, and to give up ourselves wholly to him as his; expressed in these words in Scripture,
I will be thy God and thou shalt be my people”this, this is the marrow of the covenant, for God to be our God—it is a comprehensive word; it is substantia foederis, as Funius calls it ; anima foederis, as Pareus calls it; caput fæderis, as Musail—the substance, soul, and head of the covenant; the life of religion is in this: as one saith sweetly, the goodness of duties lies in adverbs, and the sweetness of the covenant lies in possessives.
Well then, the contracting of this covenant betwixt God and a soul consists chiefly in a mutual surrender, or giving up of themselves to each other, expressed in Scripture by a matrimonial contract, when God gives up himself to the believer, and accepts of him, and the believer accepts of God as his God, and gives up himself to him. Now, we are not left to inquire after the act of God, for it is fully expressed in the Scriptures, and it is certainly supposed God accepts the sinner, when the sinner accepts of God, for these are correlatives, nor is there any change in God, the change is only in the sinner, who is now put into a new state
and relation. It is certain by the free offers of the gospel, that God doth consent, and the main thing to be inquired into is, whether the soul do consent or not? for if it cordially do, the agreement is made, God and the soul are united, which is a thing of the greatest importance in the whole world. I shall purposely wave controversies in this business wherein this consent lies, whether it be only an assent as an act of the understanding, or be a choice as an act of the will, &c. I conceive it is an act of the whole soul, whereby a poor troubled sinner discovering its forlorn estate by its breach of the old covenant, and sad consequences thereof, and discerning a possibility of a recovery and the way of reconciliation by a new covenant formed and contracted betwixt God and fallen man, sealed and confirmed by the blood of the Mediator, God-man, doth freely, cordially, and decidedly accept of God as his chief good and ultimate end, and give up himself to him resolvedly, unreservedly, and universally, to be the Lord's; to be and do what the Lord pleaseth, to obey divine commands, be at God's disposal in life and death, and thus to continue even to the end of his days.
This is for a soul to enter into covenant with the Lord. The trial will lie in these two things: first, whether we have accepted of God as our God ? secondly, whether we have given up ourselves to him, to be at his disposal, yea or no? a little on both these.
1. Whether have you taken the Lord to be yours, or not? We are all naturally idolaters and have our hearts glued to the creature, or something else besides God; we are of those many, who cry out, “ who will shew us any good ?” who trace the whole creation to find satisfaction, till they are weary, and sit down in despair of obtaining what they seek, for all the crea
* See Mr. Baxt. Saints' Rest, part 1. p. 177, 178.