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first place, they are delivered as said is, no more than a dead corpse can rise and serve you. Eph. ii. 1-10. You will not, I think, question the truth of this, with respect to the dominion of sin, death, and the devil; but will readily grant there can be no true serving of God, till once a soul is delivered from these. But as to the soul's deliverance from the law and sin's guilt of eternal wrath, perhaps you observe not the necessity of being delivered from them, before we can thus serve the Lord. But truly, according to the scriptures, these four things, are four links of one chain, each holding fast another, and all together, holding fast the poor sinner, that he cannot serve the Lord.
Wherein lies the power of the devil over a man? It lies in death. He hath the power of death, Heb. ii. 14, and by it he holds the man fast. So there is no getting out of the devil's hold without loosing the bands of death, and delivering from its power.
In what lies the sting and strength of death? It lies in sin. "The sting of death is sin." In the guilt of sin primarily, by which the soul is bound over to death. So there is no getting out of death's chains, without loosing the band of sin, namely its guilt of eternal wrath.
Now in what lies the strength of sin? It lies in the law. sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law." By this the guilt of eternal wrath is fixed on the sinner, that moment he transgresses its commandments. So there is no getting out of the chains of sin, without loosing the band of the law from off the sin
So that while a poor sinner is under the law, namely as a covenant he is under sin; while under sin, he is under death; while under death, he is under the power of the devil: So he cannot serve the Lord, while under the law as a covenant, Romans vii. 5, 6.
2. The soul being once thus delivered, will certainly serve the Lord, "in holiness and righteousness before him." The deliverance will infallibly produce the service; and that both from the design of God, which cannot misgive; he delivering them for that very end; as also from the nature of the thing, whereby the bands of death are removed, and a new life given, which must exert itself in actions agreeable to the nature of it.
USE 1. The sanctification of sinners is the chief subordinate end of the covenant of grace, or of the gospel, standing next to the glory of God. And faith, justification, deliverance from the law, sin, death, and the devil, are subordinated to sanctification, as means for reaching that end. Therefore the covenant hath its full perfecVOL. IV.
tion, or accomplishment in heaven, when the man is so sanctified as to serve God perfectly, and work perfectly good works. Wherefore, invert not the order of God's covenant, in seeking deliverance by your works. But make use of God's covenant, and the covenant daily, for the deliverance, that you may be holy, and may perform good works.
USE 2. They in whom the spirit of legalism, hypocrisy, and apostacy reigns, have no part nor lot in this matter.
Lastly, As ever you would evidence yourselves God's covenant people, partakers of this deliverance, serve no more the devil, and your own lusts. But serve the Lord as his children, universally, and constantly, "without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of your life." Amen.
Ettrick, Sabbath Afternoon.
THE LEADING PRIVILEGE OF THEM THAT KNOW THE JOYFUL SOUND.
PSALM 1xxxix. 15,
They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance.
HERE begins the account of the happiness of those that know the joyful sound of the gospel. They have many special privileges, and this is the leading one, "They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance."
Here is first their motion at the joyful sound. The gospel is a sound for motion and and action. They that know it not sit still, no moving heaven-wards by them: but they that know it are quickened by it, they are set on a march, and go forward. They will walk on, and walk vigorously, as the word imports, through the several steps in the wilderness journey. We have next the advantage which they may have from the joyful sound for their walking. "They shall walk in the light of thy countenance." Light is a great help to walking on a journey. It is neither safe nor comfortable to walk in the dark. They shall walk in the light of the Lord's countenance, or face, which is more lightsome to those that know it, than the united light of sun, moon, and stars. They
shall have the sunny side of the brae, of all the rest of the world. Their way shall be a Goshen for light, while others sit in Egyptian darkness.
The Psalmist's directing his speech to God here, shows his firm confidence as to the thing, and how much his own heart was set upon enjoying that privilege.
DOCTRINE. AS men know and believe the joyful sound of the gospel, so shall they walk on their way heavenward, in the light of the Lord's countenance. In prosecuting this, I shall,
I. Consider the duty to which the joyful sound known and believed, effectually excites men. They shall walk.
II. I shall consider the privilege which they that know the joyful sound, shall thereby have, in their walk heavenwards. I am then,
I. To consider the duty to which the joyful sound known and believed, effectually excites men. They shall walk.
1. They shall not sit still, doing nothing to purpose for God and their immortal souls, like the rest of the world, dead in trespasses and sins. The sound of the gospel is the most powerful of all alarms. The law may terrify a sinner; yea it may toss a dead soul, as a dead corpse is tossed hither and thither in the earth by an earthquake, but can never put life into it. It is not a mean appointed by God for that end. It is the ministration of death and condemnation, not of life, 2 Cor. v. 7-8. But the joyful sound of the gospel, quickens the dead sinner to a spiritual life. "The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." And this life will exert itself in its proper actions, namely, in holy obedience. So they have not known the joyful sound, who are not excited to walk on the way heavenward. The unholy are without doubt unbelievers.
2. They shall not go back to their former lusts in their ignorance. Apostates were never true believers. "If any man draw back," says God, "my soul shall have no pleasure in him." "But," says Paul, "we are not of them that draw back to perdition, but of them that believe, to the saving of the soul." It was those among the Israelites, that believed not, that were for making a captain, and going back to Egypt. They looked on the promise of Canaan, as a thing that would not hold, and therefore they would see to themselves otherwise. Thus do many bewray their unbelief of the gospel, by a greedy return to the world and their lusts after a communion, looking upon the world as a thing certain, and what is in the promise as a thing uncertain and distant.
3. They shall hold forward in their way in spite of all opposition,
and not give over till they get to the journey's end, whatever weather blow. "The righteous also, shall hold on his way; and he that hath clean hands shall wax stronger and stronger." The faith of the gospel is the spring of perseverance, according to that saying, "the just shall live by his faith ;" and unbelief is the great cause of apostacy. It is "the evil heart of unbelief that leads men to depart from the living God." It was the unbelief of the spies, and of those who credited them, that made their carcases fall in the wilderness; while Caleb and Joshua believed the joyful sound of the promise, and got safe to Canaan. Faith makes a man righteous in the sight of God, and so frees him of the burden of the curse, and guilt of eternal wrath. And sooner shall a prisoner laden with irons, make his way up a steep hill, and not fall by the way, than an unjustified sinner setting out in God's way, shall hold on. Faith listening to the joyful sound, inspires the soul with new vigour. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint."
Lastly, They shall walk on in the sight of the Lord, as he who walketh in the light, walks in the sight of the sun. "Walk before me," said God unto Abram, "and be thou perfect." Faith believing the gospel, calls the name of the Lord, speaking to the sinner, "Thou, God, seest me;" as Hagar did in another case, Gen. xvi. 13. They will walk before him as under his eye, considering him as the witness to all their actions, and who will be their judge. While unbelievers forget him, and have little or no regard to his all-seeing eye, and all-hearing ear. We now proceed,
II. To consider the privileges which they that know and believe the joyful sound, shall thereby have in their walk heaven-wards : "They shall walk, O Lord, in the light of thy countenance."
1. They shall be ever in a state of favour, peace, and reconciliation with God. "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ." God is no more their enemy, but they are in inviolable friendship with him. The darkness of a natural state is over with them, and shall never return. The true light is come, the sun of righteousness is risen on them, in the joyful sound known and believed, and shall never go down on them again. "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of the light."
2. No cloud of revenging wrath shall ever gather above their heads any more, no curse of the law, no guilt of eternal wrath. Such a cloud would extinguish the light of the Lord's countenance, for the time it staid, and reduce them, for the time, to the state of
enmity and wrath, in which they were, before they knew the joyful sound. The joyful sound of the everlasting covenant, secures them for ever, against all such clouds returning after the rain of revenging wrath, poured out on Christ, in their room and stead. "For this is as the waters of Noah unto me; saith the Lord: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee."
3. Whatever cloud may gather above their head in their way heavenward, it shall never be so thick, but the light of the Lord's countenance shall shine through it, Psal. lxxxix. 31-34. Though God will never resume the face of a wrathful revenging judge against them, yet he may be an angry Father, and they may be under clouds of fatherly anger. But in the blackest of all these, there are rays of love and favour to be seen. For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. As many," saith he, "as I love, I rebuke and chasten." The sharpest arrows shot against them, shall be winged with love; and their bitterest potions shall be medicinal. Though the light of the Lord's countenance do not always shine alike full upon them, it shall never, in their darkest hours, suffer a total eclipse.
4. They shall be directed in their way. "I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye." They walk through a wilderness, where ofttimes it is hard to know the right way, where there are many to lead them out of the way. But the Lord will be eyes to them in the wilderness. Listening to the joyful sound, they shall hear a voice behind them, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it; when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left." The way through the world is so filled with stumbling blocks, that they who have not this light, cannot escape to fall over them and perish. But they shall walk in the light and be directed in their way. "For this God is our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even unto death."
5. They shall be strengthened in their way, for this light is the light of life. Solomon observes, "that in the light of the king's countenance is life, and his favour is as a cloud of the latter rain." How much more in the light of the Lord's countenance, is there life and refreshment. The joyful sound of the gospel, known and believed, brings a strengthening light with it. "They that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint." Many a time hath the child of God, by this