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obedience to divine precepts and commands.* So, then, let me question you thus : do you run the ways of God's commandments with enlarged hearts ? do you follow God fully, and walk with him uprightly ? do you delight to do God's will, and in all things mind your rule? doth the mind of God move you more than the customs and traditions of men ? though you cannot say you do exactly keep, yet cannot you say you have respect to, all God's commandments ? are you like the centurion's servants, ready to go or come at God's bidding ? doth the authority of a divine command more awe your conscience to obedience, than the examples of the most or the best of men? do you with Zechariah and Elizabeth walk in all the ways of God's commandments blameless ? do you take heed to your ways that you offend not with tongue or hand or foot ? do you worship God in the beauty of holiness? do you make it your business to engage your hearts in your approaches to God? do you lift up your hearts in God's ways, that he and you may meet ? do you worship God in the spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, not having any confidence in the flesh ? Let me ask further, do you gladly follow Christ's example, study conformity to him, and communion with him ? is faith working by love? and doth that love engage you to keep God's commands, and render them not grievous but pleasant ? do you account Christ's yoke easy, his burden light, and his service perfect freedom ? and are you constant and permanent in holy walking every day ? and though you may stumble and fall, or turn aside, or stand still, or turn back, yet you
* Si ergo
talis fuerit vita nostra, ita omnibus membris quadrata et composita ut universi motus nostri secundum Dei leges agantur, vere testamentum Dei erit super carnem nostram.-Orig. Hom. 3. in cap. 17.
dare not quit and forsake God's ways or choose the ways of sin, to go aside with the workers of iniquity; but you lament your miscarriages, are restless till you get into God's ways again, plead hard for pardon, are more jealous over your hearts, make more haste God-wards, and so through grace keep faithful, that at death you may receive a crown of life.
Thus I have gleaned up the conditions or dispositions of God's children which are promised by God, merited by Christ, and effectually wrought in their hearts by the blessed Spirit, and these are the mercies of the covenant, by which you may try whether you be interested in it; for if you find these new covenant mercies in you, you may conclude you have an interest in new covenant privileges.
Another way of trial, which I shall but briefly hint at, is to discover the influence and effects of new covenant mercies, upon the souls of such as partake of them; that is, such benefits and privileges of the covenant, as reconciliation, adoption, remission of sin, imputation of Christ's righteousness, and others beforementioned. These have a gracious influence upon the heart. Take a specimen :
1. They are transforming and conforming mercies; they change heart and life, as I have said before; they make a person argue from mercy to duty; he that partakes of these mercies, dares not sin that grace may abound, nor argue from mercy to sinful liberty, much less make christian liberty a cloak of lasciviousness; oh no, that is the devil's logic—a child of God thinks and thus reasons: did Christ die for me, and shall not I die unto sin, and live unto him that died for me? shall my dear Saviour shed his blood for me, and shall I think any thing too dear for him ? shall he forgive much to me, and shall I not give all I have to him? shall not I love him much ? pray much? obey much? O my soul, how canst thou choose but live in new obedience? doth not the love of Christ constrain thee? hath he reconciled thee to God, and God to thee, and wilt not thou be reconciled to thy offending brother? hath he forgiven thee ten thousand talents, gratis, and wilt not thou forgive such as offend thee a few farthings, for Christ's sake ? hath God given thee himself, and dost thou withhold any part of thy poor, silly, sorry self from him ? nay, here I am, let him work ir me, and do with me as seems good in his eyes.
2. They are cheering, comforting and refreshing mercies; these mercies of the covenant will answer all objections, clear all scores, and put the soul out of doubt concerning its state. Let the devil and an unbelieving heart conspire together to torment the conscience, yet one word of the blessed covenant will baffle all their arguings, and stop their mouths, and still the soul ; let God speak out and say, I am thy God in covenant, who then can cause trouble? this was all Dayid's salvation, desire, and consolation. One drop of this holy oil of the covenant will sweeten a whole fountain and sea of the bitter waters of the sharpest afflictions; a taste of the covenant will turn water into wine ; this is the tree cast into the bitter waters of Marah, that makes them sweet ; sense of pardon takes away the sense of pain ;* if a particular promise can so comfort the soul, that it may be called a cordial, O what comfort will the covenant afford, which is a cluster and constellation of evangelical promises ! the good things of the new covenant keep the head above water, and the heart above terror in all
* Isaiah xxxiii. 24.
conditions : these steel the soul with courage in difficulties, comfort in adversity, and are an antidote in prosperity.
3. These mercies of the covenant are reviving and elevating mercies. They lift the heart above the world, and advance it to divine celestial objects and conceptions : a Christian thus clothed with the sun, hath the moon under his feet, and all sublunary enjoyments at his heels; * Christ and things above lie next his heart; † other things are dross and dung in comparison thereof; † a covenanted Christian's treasure is in heaven, and his heart is there; he prefers a grain of grace to all the comforts of the world ; common mercies will not content his heart, nor quiet his conscience; he opens his heaven-born soul to heavenly influences; he can easily wink all the bravery of this lower world into blackness and deformity, and pity the sottish senseless sons of men that take up their rest below, and neglect the main concernments of eternity. Ah, thinks the gracious soul, what fools are these that chase these gilded vanities, and pant after the dust of the earth! would to God that they did but see with such enlightened eyes as God's Spirit hath given me. O that they did but taste the sweetness of that grace which my soul is enamoured with, they would thirst after the world no more, but long for God, yea this living, loving God, and never be content till they come to appear before him. How blessed are they that have their sins pardoned, their hearts purged, their souls reconciled! that have God for their portion, and heaven for their inheritance and eternal home!
4. The mercies of the covenant are growing and increasing mercies; the Christian that hath them is like the house of David, that “ waxed stronger and * Rev. xii. 1. + Col. iii. I.
+ Phil. ii. 8, 9.
stronger ;” they are tending to perfection, and make the soul strive and thrive in holiness ; * "
going from step to step, from strength to strength, pressing towards the mark,” rising as the sun unto noon-day, or as the water to the spring ; yea, “ this water shall still be springing up to eternal life.”—John iv. 14. Grace makes the soul long after means of growth, and so to “increase with the increase of God, till it be a perfect inan in Christ;" the soul is insatiable and never saith it hath enough, “till it have arrived at the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ,” Eph. iv. 13; yea, “ till it have attained to the resurrection of the dead,” Phil. iii. 11. O sirs, examine your hearts herein—how do you come on and increase in religion ? do you grow in grace, in knowledge, faith, love, humility, repentance, self-denial, and heavenly-mindedness? where is your proficiency ? have you found grace like a grain of mustard-seed ? have these mercies ripened into the blade and full ear of deliberate and proportionable fruitbearing? A right Christian will never say he is good enough while he sojourns in this lower region, nor yet happy enough till he be with God in heaven.
THE SURE MERCIES OF DAVID TEND TO PRODUCE
IV. This subject may be considered as an occasion of conviction or reprehension, which may seriously affect sinners and saints.
* Prov. iv. 18.