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real poverty, and the wonderful bounty of heaveti. Into this poor soul-degrading state the hypocrite comes not; for, like the Laodiceans, though destitute of real faith, the Holy Spirit, and his grace, and of all real righteousness, yet they are rich in themselves, increased with goods, and have need of nothing, Rev. iii. 17.
10. And here I may bring in another hard nut, which those who are strangers to the exceeding sinfulness of their own hearts are unacquainted with; and that is, wherein true greatness in the sight of God consists: Not in aspiring at the ministry; not in knowledge or understanding; not in splendid gifts, fluent speech, or elocution; but in a continual sight and sense of the remains of inbred corruption, and this in the glass of Christ's sufferings, and in the faith of interest in his death. This gives us a sense of fellowship with him in his sufferings, and makes us conformable unto his death. “Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” Matt. xviii. 4. The whole-hearted professor comes not into this secret. He is sure to strive for mastery, and it is self-applause and legal pride that puffs him up and spurs him forward. Hence the warning and advice; “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation; for in many things we offend all,” James iii. 1. But these masters do nothing else but offend. These are some of the nuts which are hard to crack; but there is a real sweetness in them, when we can get them open. I shall now proceed to treat of the gradual rise and spring of eternal life in the soul.
This life, whatever it be, is the gift of God, the fruit and effect of his secret good-will of pur-, pose in Christ, as saith the Apostle: “ In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began,” Titus i. 2. To this life are all the elect of God ordained; and this is the sole cause of the gift of faith to them, or of the elect being brought to believe in Christ. “As. many as were ordained to eternal life believed,” and none else. This life is given us in Christ: it is put into his hands, and is secured and sure to all the seed in him; and on this account he is called our life, and the length of our days. “ Blessed,” says Wisdom, " is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors; for whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord.” 'This life is the choicest blessing of an everlasting covenant made between the Father and the Son, in which covenant Christ undertakes, by his sacrifice, to remove sin out of the way, which is the cause of death; and death itself also, as the dreadful effect of sin; that this gift of God might flow through him to the souls that are dead in trespasses and sins. Hence this covenant is called the covenant of life and peace, Mal. ii. 5. And this. covenant, which is now ratified, and
confirmed by the death of Christ, is turned into what is called the gospel, which is preached among us; the grand subject and glorious matter of which is, the promise of eternal life, which life and immortality are said to be brought to light by the gospel.
In this I have often admired the goodness and condescension of my God; that, as death in all its dreadful meaning, and in its endless latitude, is so terrible an adversary to poor alarmed sinners; so God, in his abundant mercy, has scattered his gift of eternal life all over the Bible;. and his superabounding grace is to terminate in the abundance of life. Hence every spiritual blessing in the book of God is either life itself, or something that leads to it: for upon Mount Zion God hath commanded the blessing, even life for evermore, Psalm cxxxiii. When God promises to be a God to Abraham, and to his seed; and styles himself the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; it amounts to the same thing as our Lord shews in his explication of the words, “ As touching the dead, that they risé; have ye not read, in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living,” Mark xii, 26, 27.
This blessing of life lies in the love of God, in his good-will of purpose and of promise: it is
in Christ, in the Holy Spirit of promise; and indeed the gift of eternal life is in every spiritual grace implanted in the believer's heart. Hence Peter calls us heirs together of the grace of life, i Peter iji. 7.
But that which brings this life nearest to us is the word of God, or the gospel preached in the power of it; for eternal life is in the word: “ Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.” On this account Peter says that God hath given unto us exceeding great and precious promises, that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, 2 Peter i. 4. And by this divine nature he means the grace of life, and nothing else. But then Christ, and Christ alone, must speak this word honie to the licart, if it brings life to the sinner's soul. Men can only speak to the outward ear; the excellency of the power is of God, and not of men, 2 Cor. iv. 7. “ My word is spirit, and my word is life,” says Christ; because the spirit of his mouth always attends the word of his grace, when he speaks to the heart and gives in ward testimony to it. Death, and him that hath the power of death, must decamp when the Lord of life and death speaks. “I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, Live: yea, I said unto thee, when thou wast in thy blood, Live,” Ezek. xvi. 6.
But to proceed. This blessing of eternal life is set forth before us by the emblem of wind;
which is represented as moving those that are dead, and compared to a skeleton of dry bones; “Son of man, can these bones live? Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say unto the wind, Thus saith the Lord God, Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live,” Ezek. xxxvii. 3, 9.
It is also set forth before us by the metaphor of water flowing from the sanctuary, and overflowing all its banks; or the partition wall that separated between the Jews and Gentiles, and carrying the blessing of eternal life into the pagan world. “Then said he unto me, These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea, which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed. And it shall come to pass, that every thing that liveth, which moveth, whithersoever the rivers shall come, shall live: and there shall be a very great multitude of fish, because these waters shall come thither, for they shall be healed, and every thing shall live, whither the river cometh,” Ezek. xlvii. 8, 9. These waters are nothing else but the Holy Spirit and his grace; the sea is this confused and sin-disordered world; the fish are elected sinners, which the Apostles, who were made fishers of men, were sent to catch; and the blessing that attended these healing waters is eternal life; “Every thing shall live whither the river cometh.”