« AnteriorContinuar »
Thus he that is in Christ is in a safe refuge from every thing that might disturb him; Isa. xxxii. 2. “ And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest: as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." " And hence they that dwell in Christ have that promise fulfilled to them which we have in the 18th verse of the same chapter: “ And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places."
And the true followers of Christ have not only ground of rest and peace of soul, by reason of their safety from evil, but on account of their sure title and certain enjoyment of all that good which they stand in need of, living, dying, and through all eternity. They are on a sure foundation for happiness, are built on a rock that can never be moved, and have a fountain that is sufficient, and can never be exhausted. The covenant is ordered in all things and sure, and God has passed his word and oath, " That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us. The infinite Jehovah is become their God, who can do every thing for them. He is their portion who has an infinite fulness of good in himself. “He is their shield and exceeding great reward.” As great a good is made over to them as they can desire or conceive of; and made as sure as they can desire : Therefore they have reason to put their hearts at rest, and be at peace in their minds.
Besides, he has bequeathed peace to the souls of his people, as he has procured for them and made over to them, the spirit of grace and true holiness ; which has a natural tendency to the peace and quietness of the soul. It implies a discovery
a and relish of a suitable and sufficient good. It brings a person into a view of divine beauty, and to a relish of that good which is a man's proper happiness ; and so it brings the soul to its true centre. The soul by this means is brought to rest, and ceases from restlessly inquiring, as others do, who will show us any good ; and wandering to and fro, like lost sheep seeking rest, and finding none. The soul hath found him who is the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, and sits down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit is sweet unto his taste. Cant. ii. 2. And thus that saying of Christ is fulfilled, John iv. 14. “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” And besides, true grace naturally tends to peace and quietness, as it settles things in the soul in their due order, sets reason on the throne, and subjects the senses and affections to its government, which before were uppermost. Grace tends to tranquillity, as it mortifies tumultu
ous desires and passions, subdues the eager and insatiable appetites of the sensual nature and greediness after the vanities of the world. It mortifies such principles as hatred, variance, emulation, wrath, envyings, and the like, which are a continual source of inward uneasiness and perturbation ; and supplies those sweet, calming, and quieting principles of humility, meekness, resignation, patience, gentleness, forgiveness, and sweet reliance on God." It also tends to peace, as it fixes the aim of the soul to a certain end; so that the soul is no longer distracted and drawn by opposite ends to be sought, and opposite portions to be obtained, and many masters of contrary wills and commands to be served; but the heart is fixed in the choice of one certain, sufficient, and unfailing good : and the soul's aim at this, and hope of it, is like an anchor that keeps it steadfast, that it should no more be driven to and fro by every wind.
2. This peace which Christ has left as a legacy to his true followers, is his peace. It is the peace which himself enjoys. This is what I take to be principally intended in the expression. It is the peace that he enjoyed while on earth, in his state of humiliation. Though he was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and was every where hated and persecuted by men and devils, and had no place of rest in this world : yet in God, his Father, he had peace. We read of his rejoicing in spirit, Luke x. 21. So Christ's true disciples, though in the world they have tribulation, yet in God have peace.
When Christ had finished his labours and sufferings, had risen from the dead, and ascended into heaven, he entered into his rest, a state of most blessed, perfect, and everlasting peace: delivered by his own sufferings from our imputed guilt, acquitted and justified of the Pather on his resurrection. Having obtained a perfect victory over all his enemies, he was received of his father into heaven, the rest which he had prepared for him, there to enjoy his heart's desire fully and perfectly to all eternity. And then were those words in the six verses of the 21st Psalm, which have respect to Christ, fulfilled. This peace and rest of the Messiah is exceeding glorious. Isaiah xi. 10. "And his rest shall be glorious.” This rest is what Christ has procured, not only for himself, but also his people, by his death; and he hath bequeathed it to them, that they may enjoy it with him, imperfectly in this, and perfectly and eternally in another world.
That peace, which has been described, and which believers enjoy, is a participation of the peace which their glorious Lord and Master himself enjoys, by virtue of the same blood by which Christ himself has entered into rest. It is in a participation of this same justification; for believers are justified with Christ. As he was justified when he rose from the dead, and as he was made free from our guilt, which he had as our surety, so believers are justified in him and through him; as being accepted of God in the same righteousness. It is in the favour of the same God and heavenly Father that they enjoy peace. “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” It is in a participation of the same spirit; for believers have the spirit of Christ. He had the spirit given to him not by measure, and of his fulness do they all receive, and grace for grace.
As the oil poured on the head of Aaron went down to the skirts of his garments, so the spirit poured on Christ, the head, descends to all his members. It is as partaking of the same grace of the spirit that believers enjoy this peace; John i. 16.
It is as being united to Christ, and living by a participation of his life, as a branch lives by the life of the vine. It is as partaking of the same love of God; John xvii. 26. “ That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them."-It is as having a part with him in his victory over the same enemies : and also as having an interest in the same kind of eternal rest, and peace. Eph. ii. 5, 6. “ Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.--and hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in heavenly
III. This legacy of Christ to his true disciples is very different from all that the men of this world ever leave to their children when they die. The men of this world many of them, when they come to die, have great estates to bequeath to their children, an abundance of the good things of this world, large tracts of ground, perhaps in a fruitful soil, covered with flocks and herds. They sometimes leave to their children stately mansions, and vast treasures of silver, gold, jewels, and precious things, fetched from both the Indies, and from every side of the globe. They leave them wherewith to live in much state and magnificence, and make a great show among men, to fare very sumptuously, and swim in worldly pleasures. Some have crowns, sceptres, and palaces, and great monarchies to leave to their heirs. " But none of these things are to be compared to that blessed peace of Christ which he hath bequeathed to his true followers. These things are such as God commonly in his providence gives his worst enemies, those whom he hates and despises most. But Christ's peace is a precious benefit, which he reserves for his peculiar favourites. These worldly things, even the best of them, that the men and princes of the world leave for their children, are things which God in his providence throws out to those whom he looks on as dogs; but Christ's peace is the bread of his children. All these earthly things are
but empty shadows, which, however men set their hearts upon them, are not bread, and never can satisfy their souls ; but this peace of Christ is a truly substantial satisfying food. Isaiah lv. 2. None of those things, if men have them to the best advantage, and in ever so great abundance, can give true peace and rest to the soul, as is abundantly manifest not only in reason, but experience; it being found in all ages, that those who have the most of them, have commonly the least quietness of mind. It is true, there may be a kind of quietness, a false peace, in the enjoyment of worldly things ; men may bless their souls, and think themselves the only happy persons, and despise others : may say to their souls, as the rich man did, Luke xii. 19. “ Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry." But Christ's peace, which he gives to his true disciples, differs from this peace that men may have in the enjoyments of the world, in the following respects:
1. Christ's peace is a reasonable peace and rest of soul ; it is what has its foundation in light and knowledge, in the proper exercises of reason, and a right view of things; whereas the peace of the world is founded in blindness and delusion. The peace that the people of Christ have, arises from their having their eyes open, and seeing things as they are.
The more they consider, and the more they know of the truth and reality of things the more they know what is true concerning themselves, the state and condition they are in; the more they know of God and what manner of being he is ; the more certain they are of another world and future judgment, and of the truth of God's threatenings and promises; the more their consciences are awakened and enlightened, and the brighter and the more searching the light-the more is their peace established. Whereas, on the contrary, the peace that the men of the world have in their worldly enjoyments can subsist no otherwise than by their being kept in ignorance. They must be blindfolded and deceived, otherwise they can have no peace: do but let light in upon their consciences, so that they may look about them, and see what they are, and what circumstances they are in, and it will at once destroy all their quietness and comfort.
Their peace can live no where but in the dark. Light turns their ease into torment. The more they know what is true concerning God and concerning themselves, the more they are sensible of the truth concerning those enjoyments which they possess : and the more they are sensible what things now are, and what things are like to be hereafter, the more will their calm be turned into a storm. The worldly man's peace cannot be maintained but by avoiding consideration and reflection. If be allows himself to think, and properly to exercise his reason, it destroys his quietness and comfort. 'If he would establish his
carnal peace, it concerns him to put out the light of his mind, and turn beast as fast as he can. The faculty of reason, if at liberty, proves a mortal enemy to his peace. It concerns him, if he would keep alive his peace, to stupify his mind and deceive himself, and to imagine things to be otherwise than they are.
But with respect to the peace which Christ gives, reason is its great friend. The more this faculty is exercised, the more it is established. The more they consider and view things with truth and exactness, the firmer is their comfort and the higher their joy. How vast a difference then is there between the peace of a Christian and the worldling! How miserable are they who cannot enjoy peace any otherwise than by hiding their eyes from the light, and confining themselves to darkness. Their peace is stupidity; it is as the ease that a man has who has taken a dose of stupifying poison, the ease and pleasure that a drunkard may have in a house on fire over his head, or the joy of a distracted man in thinking that he is a king, though a miserable wretch confined in bedlam. Whereas the peace that Christ gives his true disciples is the light of life, something of the tranquillity of heaven, the peace of the celestial paradise that has the glory of God to lighten it.
2. Christ's peace is a virtuous and holy peace. The peace that the men of the world enjoy is vicious; it is vile, depraves and debases the mind, and makes men brutish. But the peace that the saints enjoy in Christ, is not only their comfort, but it is a part of their beauty and dignity. The Christian tranquillity, rest, and joy of real saints, are not only unspeakable privileges, but they are virtues and graces of God's Spirit, wherein his image partly consists. This peace has its source in those principles which are in the highest degree virtuous and amiable, such as poverty of spirit, holy resignation, trust in God, divine love, meekness, and charity ; the exercise of the blessed fruits of the Spirit : Gal. v. 22, 23.
3. This peace greatly differs from that which is enjoyed by the men of the world, with regard to its exquisite sweetness. It is a peace so much above all that natural men enjoy in worldly things, that it surpasses their understanding and conception. Phil. iv. 7. It is exquisitely sweet and secure, because it has so firm a foundation, the everlasting rock that never can be moved; because perfectly agreeable to reason ; because it rises from holy and divine principles, that, as they are the virtue, so are they the proper happiness of men ; and because the greatness of the objective good that the saints enjoy, is no other than the infinite bounty and fulness of that God who is the fountain of all good. The fulness and perfection of that provision that is made in Christ and the new covenant, is a foundation laid for the saints' perfect peace; and this hereafter they shall actually enjoy. And though their peace is not