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shall call me blessed.” We are so low, mean, and contemptible to God, that it is impossible we should oblige him : the whole world compared to him is but as the drop of a bucket. Now what a small part are we of that drop ? Nay the whole world compared to him is but as the small dust upon the balance; nothing yea less than nothing, and vanity. So that there can be no obligation or merit arising from such creatures as we are.
2dly. If we consider the quality of our actions, it is impossible we should merit any thing from God.
(1.) Because all our spiritual powers are restored to us by the free grace of God. The apostle Paul saith, “We have no sufficiency of ourselves, as of ourselves so much as to think a good thought,” Phil. 2. 13. “ For it is God that worketh in us both to will and to do, of his good pleasure :" so that all our spiritual power and strength is from God: and it being entirely his, we cannot merit any thing from him. For all the power and strength we have, we owe it entirely to God and Christ; therefore John 15. 5. our Saviour compares himself to the vine, and the church to the branches, “I am the vine, and ye are the branches ; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.” The branch hath no power or living juice of its own, but what it derives from the root. So all our habitual graces, and all our exercise of those graces, is from God and Christ; therefore there can be no• merit on our part. For, indeed our obligation is increased, by the exercise of graces, and we are debtors to him by it. 4. (2.) Do but consider what imperfection attends all our services; so that were there not a Mediator as well to make our services acceptable, as to justify our persons, we should be expo sed to the displeasure of God: for the relics of sin stain and defile every service that comes from us.
The Holy Spirit is the immediate cause of every grace in us ; but it is we that act and exercise grace. Christ is the author and finisher of our faith ; but it is we that believe : the Spirit of Christ is the cause of our obedience; but it is we that obey; we are the next agents though he be the supreme cause.
There is a great imperfection in all our services that we perform to God: in our faith there is niuch of unbelief; and in our obedience, there are some degrees of disobedience; all our duties have an alloy, and such blemishes in them as would expose us to the anger of God, did not God for Christ's sake, pardon and accept us.
(3.) Our services are of no advantage or beneft to God. “My goodness extendeth not to thee, but to the saints that are in the earth.” Psa. 16. 2. If you had the affections of an angel to praise God while you are upon earth, his majesty and glory would not be increased by all your praises : for “ His glory is above the heavens.” If the sun should shine upon a clear crystal glass, that should reflect the beams of the sun, it could never reach the body of the sun, so as to increase the light of it: so it is with us; God shines upon us by his mercies, and we reflect them back again by our praises and grateful acknowledgments, but his essential glory is not increased by it; our righteousness doth not profit him; you can lay no obligation upon him ; none but those you do some kindness to, receive some benefit from you ; God's glory is above all the power of the creature; he is immense, and infinitely above all our services, we cannot oblige him.
(4.) There is no proportion between what is done and suffered by us and the glory of heaven, for saith the apostle, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time, are not worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us.” “I reckon," upon due weighing all things together, it is the result of my judgment, there is no comparison between the one and the other. When the apostle put them in the balance with the glory of heaven, the afflictions of this present life were light and inconsiderable. If sufferings, afflictions, and troubles are light much more is our obedience. If a father should see a child write a line after a copy, with an unskilful hand, and give him a twenty-shilling-piece for that writing, you cannot say this is a just reward ; no, but from his father's love and bounty. So God gives us heaven for our service here, but there is no proportion between our doings and sufferings and that exceeding eternal weight of glory; it is purely from gift and unmerited bounty: though it be a reward in respect of order, given to us for sincere service, performed to him. Now the papists do stand stiffly and confidently for a strict reward : it is true say they, our works and services do not deserve heaven, but the blood of Christ mixed with them, may make them meritorious. If you should take the dust of gold and mix it with sand and say it is worth so much, it is not the sand, but the gold that is to be esteemed and valued; for the mixture of the sand doth not make the gold of greater value: so our works mixed with Christ's merits are like gold mixed with sand. And therefore heaven is given with respect to Christ's precious blood, and not to our merits. Now it is observable that the papists, that build their hopes upon this fallacious and deceitful ground, do also very congruously determine, that it is our duty to live in doubt of heaven and salvation ; for they look upon assurance as the effect of pride and rash presumption. So that by their doctrine there is no solid hope of salvation. How much better is hope and well grounded confidence in Christ, than doubtful fear. Heaven is bestowed from the rich bounty and liberality of God: it is a reward that hath respect to the sincerity of our service, and not to the real worth and value of it. For heaven is a reward that is merited only by the sufferings and obedience of our blessed Redeemer, who is the author of eternal salvation, to all those that love and obey him.
This rest is certainly reserved for the people of God; hecause of the immuta.
bility of God's promise, which promise is agreeable to the general justice of God, and his special love to his people. The divine power is their great security. Why it is not given till after a life of service. This me. thod most honourable to God, because hereby he tries their faith and love: and most comfortable to them.
I shall now proceed to show you, that this rest is certainly reserved for God's people; and that I shall make apparent to you from these following considerations.
i. The immutability of the word of God, wherein this rest is promised to his people. There are many promises in scripture, the subject matter of which is this ; that there is a state of blessedness reserved for the saints. Rom. 2. 7. “To them who by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality, eternal life.” Thus the apostle expressly sets forth this rest, which is a variation of it under several notions ; and tells us, if we suffer with him, we shall reign with him. If we suffer with him, that is, in imitation of his example, and in obedience to his commands, we shall then reign with him. Rev. 2. 10. “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” The heaven is not more studded with stars, than the scripture with promises of this nature. Now it is true, before the promise is made, there is an absolute sovereign liberty in God, whether he will give such a right to the creature: but when God hath made a promise, he doth (as I may so speak) make himself a debtor to his servants ; though you must not take it in a strict sense, but there is an obligation lies upon him to fulfil his promise. The apostle when he gives you an account of the foundation of his faith says, “For I know in whom I have believed ; and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day;" that is, I know him to be a holy and true God, upon whose promises I have a blessed dependance, they all being of infallible certainty. The truth of it is, the word of God when it is once passed, is a more firm assurance to us, than we can have, that the sun will rise the next day; a greater assurance is given to us, than all this regular course of nature, that is established by the works of his providence; for we cannot tell when the course of nature shall have its period. But we have a most uncontrollable assurance for that, which God' “ who cannot lie promised before the world began.” God cannot deny the essential perfections of his own nature; therefore he will most certainly perform his promise. Upon this we may venture our hopes and our souls, as upon the most calm and clear security : God hath promised it, and he will do it.
ii. Let us consider those excellent properties in the divine nature which may still confirm our faith in the promise of God.
Ist. This promise of eternal life to his servants is that which is consentaneous to the general justice of God, “Say to the righteous it shall be well with him, for they shall eat the fruit of their doings, Woe to the wicked it shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him.” The general righteousness of God hath so disposed the distribution of rewards and punishments, that those that fear him, though indeed they can deserve nothing of him, yet from his pure love and according to his justice and righteousness they shall have a reward. The wicked indeed, according to strict justice, shall be rewarded ; so the apostle speaks 2 Thes. 1. 6, 7. “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us;" that is, according to the holy and righteous nature of God. It is not according to strict justice, but there is a clemency of God manifested in the pardon of sin, and his admirable love and bounty in recompensing the righteous : yet it is consentaneous to his justice that those who serve him as sons do a father, he will spare them and reward them.
2dly. It is according to his special love. It is not only from general justice, but special love and goodness is the fountain of this promise. Pray observe how God deals with his chosen people; the foundation of all his blessings is love, a love that is free and unmerited, a love that is rich, and glorious, and liberal; this love proceeds from one thing to another; God gives, that he may give; he gives his people grace that he may give them glory. He begins the work of holiness in them here, he perfects the work he begins, and he crowns the work he perfects and all from free love. This is the foundation of his promise, that love that is rich and free and glorious, so that one mercy to them is the earnest of another, and his promises are so concatenated that where he gives grace he will give glory.
3dly. The divine power is our great security; that God can and will accomplish those promises that he hath made to his people. “I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day." 2 Tim. 1. 12. What is the depositum Paul commits to God? I know divines generally interpret it of his departing soul. A believer when he comes to die, resigns up his soul (as his Saviour did) into God's hands. This seems not to be the true meaning of the apostle here, for wbile a man hath a soul living in his body, and in his possession, it cannot suit with the notion of a depositum; for a depositum is that which is out of my possession and committed to the hands of another : therefore this depositum is the crown of