Sunday, June 14, 2009
Sermons and Lessons
Col. 3:3,4 - For ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God; when Christ who is our Life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
The Life of Faith
Gal. 2:20 - Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.
Now he corrects, or indeed rather explains himself, how or what kind of life it is that he lives; Not he, how then? Christ lives in him.
So that in these words, you have a denial of himself, to be the author and root of his own life; he denies himself to live, even then when he doth live.
Secondly, You have an acknowledgement of the Author and root of his life; Christ lives in his life.
DOCTRINE. A living Christian lives not himself, but Christ in him.
The life of a Christian is not his own life, but the life of Christ Jesus.
Either of both these express these two parts of the verse; A living Christian lives not himself, not his own life, but Christ lives in him.
First, See how a living Christian lives not his own life, after once he bath had part in the death of Christ, and hath thereby been initiated into the life and power of Christ’s death, and so become a mortified and crucified Christian in some measure, such a Christian lives not his own life in this world.
There is a threefold life, A carnal life, a spiritual life, and a natural life; and in some respect, a living Christian lives none of these lives.
A carnal life is expressed in three things, in living to a mans lusts, in living to the world, and in living to a mans own wisdom and reason.
Now a Christian man lives to none of these; He lives not to his own lusts: How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein? Rom. 6:2 He looks at it as an absurdity, and indeed in some measure monstrous, ver. 6 The body of sin is dead in us, that we should no more serve sin; and ver. 7 he that is dead with Christ, is free from sin: arm yourselves with the same mind; now you live no longer to the lusts of men, but to the will of God; this life Paul doth not live, he is not lively at his lusts, they are death to him; for though a Christian man may be defiled, and sometimes overtaken, yet so far as he is a living Christian, so far he is a dead man to those lusts, they are the deadness of his heart, the discouragement of his spirit, the hell of his soul, that he is compassed about with such evils as these be; Oh wretched man that I am, &c. Rom. 7:23,24 as if it were the death of his life, that he carried about such a body of death with him. Now then, saith the Apostle, if I do that which I hate, It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me, Rom. 7:20 It is the misery of my spiritual life, that I am at any time deadhearted to spiritual duties, and somewhat apt to close with temptations to sin, whether darted by Satan, or stirred up by my own corrupt heart; and therefore if there be any life of sin in me, in the least measure, it is the death of my heart.
And secondly, so neither lives he in regard of the world, for though you may have a godly man busy in his calling from Sun rising to Sun setting, and may by Gods providence fill both his hand and head with business, yet a living Christian when he lives a most busy life in this world, yet he lives not a worldly life.
There are four or five several differences between a Christian his living to the world, and another mans that is not yet alive to God, and hath no fellowship with Christ in his death.
First, A Christian man principally seeks Christ above and before the world, Mat. 6:33 He doth first look for spiritual things, he had rather have his part in Christ, then in all the blessings of this life, he would first order his heart to Christ, his principal care is about that, and if he do not so, he looks at it as his death, which a worldly man doth not.
Secondly, As he first and principally seeks Christ, so all the good things he hath, he looks for them from Christ, he goes not about his business in his own strength, but what he wants he seeks it from Christ, and what he hath he receives it from Christ, Gen. 33:5 If God bless him with children, with health, or with estate, or what ever other comfort of this life, he looks at it as a free gift of Gods grace; he doth not sacrifice to his own nets, nor to the dexterity of his own hands, but these are the blessings God hath graciously given to his servant, though common, and such as every one hath, yet not so to him.
Thirdly, A Christian man, as he receives the world from Christ, so he enjoys them all in Christ; I mean he enjoys it not in the sense of his own desert, but he looks at himself less then the least of them all, Gen. 32:10 I am less then the least of all thy faithfulness to thy servant. This is to enjoy all in Christ, not in his own worth, but in the merit of Christ.
Now this a Christian doth, whatever his business be, in his worldly business, he doth not lead a worldly life.
Fourthly, He useth and employeth all for Christ. In our gates, saith the Church, are all manner of pleasant fruits, my Beloved I have kept them all for thee: When he hath many blessings, he considers what he shall doe with them. This is the frame of a living Christian, one whose heart is given to Christ. I have indeed all manner of these things, fair houses, well furnished rooms, pleasant provision of all sorts, but my Beloved I have kept them all for thee, though I have never so much, yet it is all for Christ, I Cor.10:31. That God may be glorified in Jesus Christ; this is the sum of his eating and drinking, and buying and selling, &c. this is the upshot of all, this is all for Christ, and this is so to live in the world, as not to live like a man of the world, and so he makes good work of his worldly business, though in themselves never so intricate.
Fifthly, A living Christian lives unto God, even then when he lives in the world, in that he is willing to leave worldly business, and worldly things for Christ, leave them all, rather then part with Christ; this is the resolution of his spirit, and his practice when he is put to it, Ps. 45:10. Hearken O daughter and consider, forget thy kindred and thy Fathers house; let them all go, forget thy pleasures and treasures in Pharaohs Court, so shall the King have pleasure in thy beauty, that if any thing stand between obtaining of Christ, and the enjoying of the world, let all go; were the comfort of this life never so precious and glorious, yet forget them all, let them all be as a dead commodity for a living Christ, Matt16:27. We have forsaken all and followed thee; and if afterward the world and Christ should fall out, as sometimes they will, and ere long it will be that a man cannot keep his heart in a comfortable plight with Christ, but it will cost him loss of friends, and sometimes lose of estate, and sometimes lose of life, why yet a Christian will forsake all for Christ, if once the world and Christ come to fall out; and in this case a Christian thinks it no hard choice, though Demas did, II Tim. 4:10. I pass not at all saith a Christian, so that I may but finish my course with joy Acts 20:23,24. This is the true life of a Christian in respect of his Christian life, and wherein he differs from a worldly man; for there is no worldly man that lives a worldly life, but his first care is for his estate to settle that well, and when he hath thus provided for him and his, in the remanent of his time he will seek Christ.
And when he gets any thing, he depends much upon his trade, he lives unto himself; and what he hath he thinks he hath deserved it, and he will be much offended with Gods providence if he be crossed in his designs and labors. And that which he hath, for whom doth he keep it? He will say for wife, and children, and kindred; but how they will use it, that is no matter. And if it come to a parting blow; that either the world or Christ we must lose, they think men very unwise that will part with a bird in the hand for two in the bush. They may go away sorrowful, but away they will go, if there bee no remedy, rather let Christ provide for himself; for their part, they will bear no such burdens for him; but now a Christian lives not to the world, and if he should so live, ft were rather a swoon of Christianity, then any life and power of Christ.
For a carnal life, which is a life of living to a mans own wisdom and reason, he lives not that life neither, If any man would be wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may be wise, I Cor. 3:18,19,20. No living Christian but he must deny his own wisdom, judgment, and understanding, that he may be wise in Christ; You say, what, would you have men senseless, and mopish, and not understand themselves? No, no, here is the point, True grace doth not destroy a mans wisdom, but rather enlargeth and enlightneth it wonderfully; so as that men by nature are blind, but spiritual wisdom enlightens the eyes of the blind. It is an excellent speech, that in the Heb. 11:1 Faith is the substance; in the Original it is, Faith is the subsistence of things not seen; The meaning is, that if we should tell many a man, that the favor of God is more worth then any blessing of this world, the blood of Christ more precious then gold, the spirit of grace the best companion for the soul, &c. these seem to many a man but famed things, no subsistence in these things: This is but some strong imagination of some melancholy brains, he sees no such matter in them, and he is persuaded there is no such thing, it is only faith that sees subsistence in these things; To a faithful Christian there is subsistence in al the promises, there is weight in the examples, threatenings, and Commandments of the word, subsistence in the favor of God, and in the blood of Christ, and in fellowship with the spirit, and in other things there is none at all. Now in this case a man must see all his wisdom to be but folly, all the high thoughts he had of the world and himself, he must look at them all as vain; and all the low thoughts he had of Religion and the ways of grace, he must look at them all as folly and madness; So that here a Christian is dead to his own wisdom; that which sometimes he thought to have been his chiefest good, is now nothing but vanity and vexation of spirit, but when he comes to see spiritual things have only true subsistence in them, then he leads a wiser life then ever he did before.
Now for his spiritual life: A living Christian, his whole spiritual life is Christ, and not himself, his spiritual life is not his own life.
There be three parts of spiritual life, which a Christian lives in this world, the fourth (which is the life of glory) he lives in that which is to come.
A life of Justification, a life of Sanctification, a life of spiritual Consolation.
1. A life of Justification, Rom. 5:18. Now a Christian man looks for Justification, not from all his spiritual performances, prayer, preaching, receiving Sacraments, &c. He looks at all these as loss, that he might win Christ, Not having his own righteousness, Phil. 3:6-9.
2. For his life of Sanctification, he doth not make account that himself is sufficient, as of himself, to think a good thought, II Cor. 3:5. When God hath given him grace yet he can do nothing in any lively manner, unless Christ assist him, and help him at every turn, I Cor. 15:10. By the grace of God I am that I am, and the grace in me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly then they all; yet not I, it is not I that have took all this pains; though he had a good calling, and an honest heart, yet not I, nay, neither was it the grace of Christ that was in him, but the grace of God that was with him; it was the spirit of God breathing in his grace, that made these spices thus flow forth, Cant. 4 ult. Though he had many precious graces bestowed on him yet not he, nor any grace in him, but the grace of God with him, that wrought with him, and acted, and did all he did wherever he came; Now blessed be God that makes manifest the savor of his grace, II Cor. 2:12-15.
3. And thirdly, for his life of Consolation, there go two things for the making up of a mans consolation, partly Gods favor, and that is better then life, Ps. 63:3 Ps. 30:5 In thy favor is life.
Secondly, The prospering of Gods work in themselves and others, I Thess. 3:8. Now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord: they were his joy, and his crown and glory; But was that his lift of Justification, think you? No, nor of his Sanctification neither; though the Church had failed, yet Paul his work had been glorious in Gods sigh; and he had still been justified and sanctified; but it was the lift of his consolation: this is our life, and the crown of our rejoicing if you stand fast in the Lord.
Now for a mans natural life, how can a man be said not to live his own natural life? Yet a Christian may say; that in some measure he lives not his own natural life, but Christ lives in him, Acts 17:28. In him we live, move and have our being You say, so hath a carnal man his life from Christ; True, but he acknowledgeth it not; In him was life, and that was the life of men, Job 1:3,4 A Christian man hath his natural life from Christ, as from an head that - both spiritual and natural life; In him thou hast given me life and breath, and thy visitation hath preserved my being, Job 12:10. Christ gave us our life, and he preserves it, we cannot better explain it then thus; A wind-mill moves not only by the wind, but in the wind; so a water-mill hath its motion, not only from the water, but in the water so a Christian lives, as having his life from Christ, and in Christ, and further then Christ breathes and assists, he stirs not; Ps. 104:29,30. My times are in thy hand Ps. 31:5, Dan. 5:23. Thou hast not honored thy God, in whose hand thy breath is, and all thy ways, it was the sin of the profane King not to regard it; All his ways and turnings, his sickness and health, and all his changes, they are all in Gods hands; Jer. 10.23. I know that the way of man is not in himself; upon thee have I been cast, from my mothers womb, thou hast poured me out like milk, and by thee I was curdled in my mothers womb, so that I live; What you Paul? No, not I; as if it were too broad a word for a Christian man to speak, Though I live, yet not I.
Now secondly, how may it be said, that Christ lives in a liv¬ing Christian; How? as a route of his lift, as the Author both of his spiritual and natural life: for his carnal life, that he is wholly dead unto; but for his other; Christ is the Actor and root of all, for God hath given him above all to be head of the Church; as the members live a reasonable lift from the head, so doth the Church from Christ; Without me you can do nothing John 15:1,2 he is called the Prince of life, Acts 3:15; I Cor. 15:45. And this comes to pass partly by Gods acceptance of him as our head; God hath appointed him to bee our head; and also by the communication of his Spirit to us, I Cor. 6:17.
And thirdly, by faith, for it is faith that receives Christ to dwell in us, Eph. 3:17 so that by these we dwell in Christ, and so live in him, and he in us, for by this means Christ is made our root, Rom 11:17 so as we that were by nature branches of the wild Olive, are now made partakers of the good Olive and hence it is, that wee bring forth savory fruit; some fruits there bee, which if you never transplant them, they will grow wild, but transplant them, and they will bring forth fruit; so take any man that is wild by nature, and let him be crucified with Christ, cut him off from fellowship with Adam, and his lusts, and implant him into Christ, and then he is made partaker of the true Olive, and so will bring forth good fruit
USE. It may be first an evident sign of trial to everyone of us, of our own estates, whether we have part in Christ’s death yea or no, whether wee be living Christians, or no; Christians we are, we cannot deny, and so have an outward right to partake with the rest of Gods people; But would you know whether you bee living Christians, or no? Consider, a living Christian lives not himself, but Christ lives in him; Christian signifies one Anointed with the grace of Christ, I John 2:27. Now for this consider what hath been said; If thou be a living Christian, thou livest, yet not thou, but Christ in thee; And let me say this to every Christian sonic, and take it as an eternal truth, if to this day thou livest to thy lusts, and livest in any known sin, and it is the delight of thy sonic to live in pride, and covetousness, &c. if you live in any sin, and desire so to do, thou mayest be called a Christian, but thou art a dead Christian. But you say, you thank God, you have bid adieu to all your lusts: but it was a shrewd saying of old, Licitis perimus omnes, we most of us perish by lawful things; and therefore I say further, Dost thou not live to the world? Thou sayest, Is it not lawful for a man to be diligent in his calling, thou canst not leave thy business, as such and such as are bankrupts; Well, God forbids thee not to be diligent in thy calling; let me tell thee, if thou canst so live in the world, as that thy first care is to seek Christ, before the doing of any work of thine own, and if to manage thy calling thou look for help from him, and look at thy self, as unworthy of any mercy from God, and ask thy heart, who is all this for? is it for Christ? canst thou say, I have kept them all for thee? and canst thou come to this resolution, that if Christ and thy calling come to be at variance, yet thou canst part with all to keep fellowship with Christ? then thou livest in the World, but art not a man of the World; Christ sits next to thy heart all this while, and then thou art well; but otherwise let me tell thee, if thou canst first be busy about thy calling, and think you have wit enough for your own business, and you think you deserve all you have, else you would not be so much disturbed when you are crossed in it; and if you use them not for Christ, but you lose him in the use of them, and you keep it, that you and yours may be some great ones in the World; and if a cross way come, that Christ and your estates must part, you turn your back upon Christ, and upon all that profess his name; then bee not a liar against the truth, thou art of the world, and livest to the world, and the Lord Jesus hath yet no hold of thee; and therefore bee sure if it be so with you, you have failed in one of these; you have stirred about worldly business, before you looked for Christ, and gone about them in your own strength, and in sense of your own worthiness of them, which makes you discontent when you are crossed in them, and you consider not for what end you laid up all these; and hence it is, that when it comes to a parting blow, many a Christian is foiled about the world: and therefore look seriously to it, and if you conceive worldly things have some subsistence in them, but not so of the things of God, then it is not Christ that lives in you, but you live to your selves.
USE 2. To cast a just reproof upon living Christians, that Christian men should not live like Christian men; a shame for Christian men still to live in pride, and uncleanness, committing the works of darkness; and therefore be ashamed that ever you should take up the life of a Christian, and still bee more forward for the world, then for Christ; still to bee impatient for worldly crosses, and still to want serious thoughts for whom is all this, and yet not come to consider how you must part from all these. This may cast much con fusion upon the face of a Christian man, that to this day they cannot say that they live unto Christ. Some there be, who say, that they live unto Christ, and some that say, they will not have Christ to reign over them, Luke 19:14 some there be that say; Let us break his bonds asunder, and cast his cords from us, Ps. 2 but it were a shame that any Christian should do so.
USE 3. To teach us all, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, to desire to make known to our own consciences, and to the world, that we are crucified with Christ, and live to God; let us say, it is not enough for a Christian to live besides his lusts, or that the world is less to be regarded then Christ, &c. but I pray you practice this resolution daily, unless you have some thoughts of this daily, you will lose your spiritual life daily, and you never find your hearts lost in worldly business; but when you want a heart daily to consider what God calls you to, you must therefore have these thoughts daily. And further, take this counsel, if thou art troubled about thy justification and peace with God, let this comfort thee, that thou knowest thou livest not by thine own graces, but by Christ.
USE 4. Of comfort and consolation, to every soul as can truly say, this is the frame of their hearts, they doe not live themselves, but Christ in them; bee not you discouraged at your own weakness, but make account your living in Christ will bear you out, and therefore labor to be loose to the World, and live like those that have a living fountain to run unto, for supply of what ever you stand in need of, that so all the rest of our time may not be a life of our own lusts, but of Christ in us.