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without the image of God in his soul, his affections alienated from him, and that he has no love towards him, nor desire after him, nor delight in him, nor any thing, in short, of the obediential spirit of a dependent creature remaining within him, will he not wish to be restored to original purity, seeing without this he knows he cannot be capable of any happiness in God, and that in heaven itself he should miss of a reward ? You see the whole matter is, a fallen creature, made sensible of his fallen state, desires help ; and when he finds that help offered him in Christ, he accepts it: that is to say, seeing Christ offers him deliverance from sin, the world, and the devil, he accepts it; seeing Christ offers him deliverance from wrath and hell, he accepts it; seeing Christ offers to restore unto him the image of God upon his soul, he accepts it ; the vow itself being but the public declaration and avowal of such his acceptance.
Such is the nature and the necessity of the baptismal vow. And, taken in the light wherein the matter now lies before us, three very plain and incontestable consequences present themselves to us, highly worth our notice.
I.-That such as deny or are ignorant of the state they are in by nature cannot have accepted the offer of salvation, nor possibly be keeping the baptismal vow.
II.-That such as are not keeping the baptismal vow are still in their natural state.
III.—That they who are keeping it are actually in a state of present salvation.
All which have been glanced at before, but now require a more distinct consideration.
First.-Such as deny or are ignorant of the state they are in by nature cannot have accepted the offer of salvation, nor possibly be keeping the baptismal vow, so they must needs be still in their natural state of sin and death. The Christian salvation (and of course the acceptance thereof, together with the baptismal vow, which is but the declaration of that acceptance) stands altogether upon the supposition of our fallen state, and the several parts of that salvation upon the several circumstances of our condition by nature ; so that my acceptance of this salvation can only follow upon my acquaintance with my fallen estate, which, consequently, if I am unacquainted with, I cannot possibly accept that salvation. Consider, therefore, have you been made deeply and thoroughly acquainted with your fallen and lost condition by nature ? Have you been brought to see yourself an apostate creature, in whom dwelleth only a principle and body of sin, which is perpetually suggesting to you its evil, that is, its sensual, earthly, and devilish motions ; a principle that naturally engages to itself all your thoughts, desires, and pursuits ; a principle that cannot delight in God, and would not you should have any thought of him, or converse with him ; a principle that naturally wraps you up in yourself, shutting out of your conduct every consideration due to God and man; a principle that naturally makes you mind nothing but self, and mean nothing but self, your own praise, your own interest, your own gratification ; a carnal principle, craving indulgence, ease, pleasure ; a worldly principle, all for the present life, its honours and interests ; a devilish principle, stirring up in your heart high thoughts of yourself, low ones of others; envy, malice, resentment, revenge, cruelty ? I say, has past and present experience taught you that you are thus born in sin ? And have you been made to see this state of sin as a state of misery, as that whereon is entailed the wrath and curse of God; as that which has made you liable to present death, and future eternal misery; and as a state, too, whereby your soul is robbed of its richest jewel, the image of God, which before the fall was the grand prerogative, the distinguished glory, the noble qualification of man for serving and enjoying his Creator ? Have you found yourself this corrupted, fallen, undone creature ?
If not, you cannot have accepted the offer of Christ, who cannot be a physician to the whole. If you deny that you are thus fallen, you disclaim all that can properly be called salvation, determinately strike your name ont of the list of those whom Christ shall save, and put your eternal happiness upon a footing, which, after all your fine reasonings, gives you little support, and which you feel in your own breast will not bear you out against the sense of guilt, and the fear of death and judgment. And if you are ignorant of this your fallen state through mere carelessness and inconsideration, though I dare not say your case is alike desperate with that of gainsayers, yet I must say your state is at present equally bad : you are not, you cannot be, in Christ ; for you have never found the want of him, and therefore could never receive him to be your Saviour. And I beseech you, sirs, consider what a wrong you must have been doing to your own souls. What ! not so much as to inquire whether you were a fallen creature or not? In so many years to make no search whether
wanted not salvation ? and so to suffer the Lord of glory to stand waiting upon you with the offer of salvation, without paying him the least regard ? How can you answer this to yourself? Sure I am, if you have not lost your reason, you cannot acquit yourself to your own conscience. And the reflection cannot sit easy upon you, that, if there be salvation in Christ, however much you need it, you have no part therein, through your own shameful negligence of looking into yourself, and searching after the deplorable circumstances of our fallen state. But some of you are saying, “ I know I am a corrupted creature ; I confess myself by nature a child of wrath ; I own the loss of the image of God which I suffered in Adam.” To you, therefore, I propose for inquiry,
Secondly.—Whether you are keeping the baptismal vow? For, if you are not, your case is not a jot mended, however exactly you may know both your lost estate by nature, and that there is free and full salvation in Jesus Christ. The point is, whether or no you have closed with and accepted that salvation ; which acceptance has been fully shown to be no other thing than being in the practice of the baptismal vow. If you are living in sin, or not seeking to apply unto yourself the merits of Christ for your pardon and acceptance with God, or not endeavouring in your whole conduct to serve and please God, it is plain you have not accepted the offered salvation, and are still in your natural state. Now therefore look to yourself. If you are the person I am now intending, one that has knowledge, and knowledge only concerning man's misery and Christ's salvation, your case is this : you know that you are a fallen creature, sensual, earthly, and devilish by nature, and you know that there is deliverance from the dominion of sin in Christ, yet sin hath full dominion over you. Either you are wholly led away in your heart and conduct by the love of pleasure, of indulgence, of sloth, and worldly ease ; or you are under the power of covetousness, your mind carking and caring for the things of the
world, never satisfied, and ever intent upon the main point of being something in life through your wealth ; or you are under the direction of worldly esteem, not daring to be better than is consistent with keeping your reputation among your neighbours; or you are of an unhumbled spirit ; wayward, you must have your own way, and are angry whether God or man thwart you ; proud, you are lifted up by whatever seems to distinguish you from others. These and the like are your ruling tempers. Now, if all or any of this be your case, you cannot say that in practice you are renouncing the devil, the world, and the flesh, or have partaken of Christ's salvation from the dominion of sin. So in this respect it is plain you are still in your natural state. Then, again, you have a knowledge in your head that you are a guilty creature, and that there is perfect reconciliation in Christ ; but you have made no use of, you have received no benefit from, this knowledge; you are not humbled and alarmed at the sight of your condition ; you have no sense of the value of the reconciliation ; you have not drawn nigh to the throne of grace by the blood of the atonement; your heart is not sprinkled from an evil conscience by it; you are not filled, you are not so much as acquainted with what is meant by peace in believing; all that you know of this important matter is but as the knowledge of a foreign tale, in which you have no concern. See, then, if the guilt of all your sins does not yet lie upon you. Finally, you know that to be brought to the love and practice of God's commandments is a principal part of Christ's salvation, and of your want by nature. But with any love of God's law in your heart you are perfectly unacquainted ; neither can you say, that to walk therein is your main, your grand, your ruling, nay, that it is in any measure your real, deliberate, concern.
What! are you striving every day to walk with God, watchful over your conduct, that nothing you do may displease or dishonour him, studying above all things how you may please him, and how you may every day abound therein more and more ; and calling ardently and constantly for his grace to enable you to do so ? Alas! you know this is not the employment of your ordinary thoughts and desires; other things, as I have said, of various kinds, perpetually take you up : God has not the sway and rule within. Of pleasing him you think but little. You do not ask whether what you do be agreeable to his mind or not. You live in needless temptations. Your ordinary course is forgetfulness of God, and to do what he bids you is far from being the settled design of your life. I beseech you, therefore, are you, or can you desire to be thought, God's servant ? Your conscience testifies you are not, and therefore acknowledges that Christ has not circumcised your heart to love and serve the Lord your God. Brethren, let us not be deceived: let not our knowledge deceive us. You see, whatever knowledge a man has of himself, and of Jesus Christ, yet, if he be not in the practice of the baptismal vow, he has not accepted Christ's offer, therefore is no true Christian ; and consequently is in his natural state of sin and wrath. A state which, however terrible it be to all that are in it, is peculiarly so to such as know their Master's will and do it not. But,
Thirdly. You are really, though imperfectly, walking in the baptismal vow. Sin has not dominion over you; you have come as an undone sinner to Christ, and taken him for your Saviour, and are determined also not to part with him, though you suffer the loss of all things ; to please God and serve him is your main desire and aim : you are therefore in a present state of salvation ; for you have heard it made apparent, that to be in the practice of the baptismal vow, and to receive Christ in his whole salvation, are exactly the same thing. And you are in the practice of this your vow; for are you not fighting daily against sin, opposing the body of sin in you, and never lying down under its dominion, though it sometimes gain advantage of you ? Are not your eyes upon Jesus for pardon and acceptance with your injured God? Have you not taken, and do you not continually take, refuge in his blood from the accusations of conscience and dread of the law ? And your business, is it not through a supply of the spirit of the same Jesus, to live a godly life, desiring to be conformed to God's revealed mind, and making that, and not your own inclinations, nor the humours of others, the measure of your conduct ? This you cannot deny, and this you ought to own to the glory of that grace by which you thus stand and walk in the midst of so many enemies and temptations, and cumbered as you are with flesh and blood. I say you ought to own it to the glory of God, and to your own comfort and en