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SERMON XXVII. Occasioned by the Death of Mr EDWARD LUdlow. Preached Jan. 1, 1749.
2 THESS. II. 16.
And good hope through grace.
HREE things the apostle does in the context: he describes the happy
state and condition of the persons he writes to; he exhorts them to ftand fast in the faith, and hold fast the truth; and he prays for them.
First, He describes their happy state, in opposition to the followers of the man of sin, the son of perdition, who were given up to believe a lie, that they might be damned. First, by their character, as Brethren; of Christ, of the apostle, and of one another, in a spiritual relation ; and as beloved of the Lord, or of God, as some versions; of God the Father, who had so loved them as co give his Son for them; of the Lord Jesus Christ; who had given himself for them; and, of the Lord the Spirit, who had quickened and sanctified them: and he further describes them by their election of God, for which he thought himself bound. to give thanks to God for them; the date of which is, from the beginning, or eternity; the means, sanctification of the spirit, and belief of the truth; the end, salvation; the evidence, the effectual call of them by the gospel to the enjoyinent of that glory, which Christ is in the poffesfion of, and is preparing for them.
Secondly, He exhorts them to stand fast in the faith of the gospel, and not be moved away from it ; seeing they were so much in the favour of God, were chosen of him, and called by him: and to hold fast the traditions they had been instructed in, both by word of mouth and by letter : not the traditions of the Jewish elders; nor such like unwritten traditions the Papilts plead for;, but the truths and ordinances of the gospel; so called, because delivered by Christ to his apostles, and by them to the churches, either by speech, or by writing; and are the evangelical cabala, which ought to be held fast till Christ's second coming.
Thirdly, He prays for them, as being most affectionately concerned for their welfare; and therefore he follows his exhortations with peticions; well knowing
this was the most effectual way to have them succeed. The objects addressed are, our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father; two divine persons in the godhead : and seeing our Lord Jesus Christ is equally prayed unto as God our Father; and the same things are asked of him as of the Father; and the same gifts and blessings of .grace are ascribed to the one as to the other; yea, he is mentioned in the address before his Father ; we may conclude his perfect equality with him, and so his true and proper deity; or prayer, which is such a confiderable branch of worship, would not be made to him, nor would he be placed on an equal foot with his Father, and much less be set before him. The things prayed for are, that these divine persons would comfort their hearts; with fresh discoveries of their love to them ; with renewed applications of pardoning grace and.mercy; with the exceeding great and precious promises of the gospel; by the word and ordinances of it; and by granting them fellowship with Father, Son, and Spirit, in private and in public: and also, that they would stablish them in every good word and work; in every truth of the gospel, and in the practice of every duty. It is a good thing for a christian to have his heart established in the doctrines of grace; and it is his honour to be stedfast and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord: and though the saints are in a firm and stable ftate, as being interested in everlasting love, secured in the covenant of grace, and safe in the arms of Chrift; yet they have need of establishment in the prefent truths, that so they may not be carried away with the error of the wicked ; and in the exercise of grace, that they may not fall from the stedfastness of their faith; and in the discharge of duty, that they be not drawn off from it. Now there is abundant reason to conclude that these petitions would be heard and answered,
1. From the characters of the persons addressed, our Lord Jesus Christ himself ; he who is our Lord, not by creation only, as he is Lord of all; but by redemption, having bought us with his precious blood, and therefore are not our own, but his; and by virtue of a marriage-relation to us, he having. espoused us to himself in righteousness, mercy, and loving-kindness; and therefore, is our Lord, and we should worship him: and moreover he is Jesus, our Saviour and Redeemer, who has saved us from our Sins, and from wrath to come, with an everlasting salvation; and is the Christ of God, anointed to be Prophet, Priest, and King, which offices he fustains and executes for us; and therefore may it not reasonably be concluded that whatsoever is asked of him and in his name, will be granted ? The other person is God even our Father ; noc by creation merely, as he is of all men; who are his offspring, and the care of his providence; but by adoption, through Jesus Christ : he who is Christ's God is our God, and he who is Christ's Father is our Father; which relation is owing to his free favour and love ; and if earthly parents are ready and willing to give good gifts to their children to the utmost of their power ; will not our heavenly Father give every good and needful thing to his children, fo near and dear to him? and which may be further concluded,
free others is Rom. viii. 24, 25.
2. From the love each person bore to those for whom the petitions are prefented : which hath loved us; which relates both to God our Father, and to our Lord Jesus Christ, who have both loved us; such who were by nature children of wrath, enemies in their minds by wicked works; and were far from having any true love to God or Christ; so far from it, that they were enmity itself unto them, and yet loved by them. Matchless, unparalleled Grace! The Father loved them, and therefore appointed them not unto the wrach they deserved, but to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ; loved them, and therefore made a covenant with them in Christ, ordered in all things and sure, full of precious promises and spiritual blessings, suited to their cases and circumstances; loved them, and therefore made them the care and charge of his Son, put them into his hands, and laid up grace and glory for them; loved them, and therefore fent his Son in the likeness of Gnful Aesh to be the Saviour and Redeemer of them; loved them, and therefore fpared him not, but delivered himn up into the hands of justice and death for them; loved them, and therefore begot them again to a lively hope, and quickened them when dead in trespasses and fins ; loved them, and therefore justified them, pardoned them, and adopted them into his family, and made them heirs of himself, and joint-heirs with Christ. And our Lord Jesus Christ himself loved them with the same love his Father did, and as early; and therefore in eternity became their surety, and espoused their persons and cause; loved them, and therefore in time assumed their nature, bore their sorrows, took upon him their sins, and suffered for them; loved them, and therefore gave himself an offering unto God for them; loved them, and therefore shed his precious blood for the reniffion of their fins, and washed them from them in it; loved them, and therefore is gone to prepare heaven and happiness for them, and will come again and take them to himself, that where he is, they may be also. Now, from persons of so much love, and who have given such strong proofs of it, what may not be expected ? And which may be still further concluded,
3. From the gifts of grace, bestowed as the fruits of such love: and bath given us everlasting consolation ; God is the God of comfort, and all true comfort Springs from him; Christ is the consolation of Israel, and if there is any real, solid comfort, it is in him, and comes by him, through his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; and which is applied by the holy Spirit, through che word and ordinances, which are breasts of consolation, and by the ministers of the gospel, who are Barnabases, fons of comfort; and miserable comforters are all others that attempt to comfort in another way. And whatever comfort is had in this way, is a pure gift of God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ; it is what men are undeserving of, and therefore the least measure of it should not be reckoned small; because those that share it are by nacure children of wrath, as others : and though this, as to sensible enjoyment, does not always continue, but is interrupted through the prevalence of corruptions, the violence of Satan's temptations, and through divine defertions; yet the foundation of it is always, and is everlasting, as the everlasting love of God; and therefore the elect are not, and cannot be consumed; the everlasting covenant of grace, which yields the heirs of promise strong consolation ; the everlasting righteousness of Christ, by which being justified, they have peace with God; and everlasting salvation by him, and therefore shall be saved froni wrath to come; and both Christ and the holy Spirit, the other comforter, always abide, and are the same to-day, yesterday, and for ever : and besides, as the spiritual joy of believers is what no man can take away from them, so it eventually issues in everlasting confolation, without any interruption in the future state ; when the redeemed shall be come to Zion, they fall bave everlasting joy on their heads, and sorrow and fighing Mall flee away. The other gift is good bope through grace; and since God and Christ have bestowed such high favours upon the saints, it may be reasonably thought, that they will go on to comfort their hearts, and establish them. And this clause in the text being what our deceased friend pointed at, and laid the emphasis upon, I fall a little more largely insist upon it, and do the following things.
First, I shall give some account of the nature of the grace of bope.
First, I shall give some account of the nature of the grace of bope ; and which
may be learnt in a good measure from the things with which it is con
versant. And, if, It is of things unseen. An object seen and enjoyed leaves no room for the exercise of hope about it ; wherefore the apostle says, hope that is seen is not hope; that is, what is seen and enjoyed is not the object of hope ;, and hope can be no longer conversant with it, since it is in actual poffeffion; concerning which the same inspired writer in the same place thus strongly reasons; for what a man seeth, why doth be yet hope for ? but if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Christ is the object of our hope, and he is unseen by us, with our bodily eyes, is only seen by faith; he is gone to heaven, and is at the Father's right hand, out of our light; but we hope and believe that he will come again and receive us to himself; and therefore we expect him our Saviour from heaven, to raise our bodies, and change them, and make them like his own, and to re-unite them to our souls, and give us perfect happiness with him : the glories of the future state we are hoping for, are unseen realities; what eye has not feen, nor ear heard; eternal things we are looking at by Faith, and which are a support, under present afictions, are invisible; they are within the vail, into which faith enters, and gives a glimpse of; and hope follows, and waits for a clear light and full enjoyment of.
2dly, It is of things future, things to come : present things are not the object of hope; for what are present with us, we no more hope about; we and hope ceases, which was exercised concerning them when at a distance : nor have them, are the things of this present life the only objects of hope ; for if in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. Our hope indeed has to do with future things in the present life; we hope for more communion with God and Christ in ordinances, and therefore wait patiently in them; we hope for further supplies of grace out of the fulness that is in Chrift, and therefore wait upon him and for him ; we gird up the loins of our minds, and hope to the end, for the grace that is to be brought unto us at the revelation of Christ: our hope' reaches beyond the grave, to a future state in another world; to the resurrection of our bodies; to our standing at the right hand of Christ; to our being justified before men and angels; to our receiving the crown of life and glory; to our admission into the everlasting kingdom; and to our being with Christ for evermore, and being like him, and seeing him as be is. The things we are hoping for are laid up for us to be enjoyed hereafter; we have here some pledges and foretastes now, but the main is yet to come; and therefore we keep looking for it : faith only gives those things we are hoping for a kind of subsistence, and realizes them to us; and therefore it is said to be the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen".
3dly, It is of things difficult to be obtained, as future salvation is; for though the righteous are certainly saved, yet scarcely", that is, with difficulty ; by reason of the many corruptions, temptations, and snares in the way; and particuJarly by reason of afflictions, reproaches, and persecutions for Christ's sake: they come to the enjoyment of it through a strait gate and a narrow way, through many tribulations and sorrows; and these try and exercise hope. And yet,
4thly, It is of things possible ; or otherwise there would be no room, nor reason for hope ; nothing but black despair, would ensue, and a resolution to lay
to i Cor. xv. 19.
c Heb. xi. 1.
i Peter iv, 18.