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are of another court, they did appeal betimes from the court to the Chancery, where they found peace and reconciliation in this life. And first for justification, he is free from that, that he is not tied unto, he will not be tried by the law, he applieth and layeth hold of the merits of Christ, he leaveth his own righteousness, and cleaveth close unto Christ, saying thus unto himself, my debt indeed is great, and I am able to pay nothing thereof, but Christ and I stand together, we now are one, what he hath done by virtue of our union, is also truly mine and for me. And now let the devil and the world do what they can, here I will rest, here I will stay, and if I perish, I perish. Again for righteousness, although I have none of mine own yet will I plead Christ's righteousness, who is made unto me of God the Father, righteousness, justice, sanctification, and redemption.
And as for the imperfection of my sanctification, the law in this shall be my counsellor to direct me, not my judge to judge me. And let the law exact never so much of me, let it exact what it can, yet I fear it not, it can exact nothing but I in Christ Jesus have fulfilled the same. The law (beloved) unto us who are under grace, is like unto a man who writeth out a fair copy for his scholar to imitate, as near as he can, not forcing him to anything beyond his
power. So the law is now unto us, but as a fair copy
written by our heavenly schoolmaster, which we must endeavour to imitate, and follow daily nearer and nearer, as we can, wherein neither the ill nor the good scholars are forced beyond their ability; if they all with one heart travel towards the mark diligently to their power. So that I say, the law now is unto us, as a rule and fair copy, whereby to guide our life. It being our comfort that it is now our counsellor, not our judge, we shall not be tried by it, we fear not to be tried by it, we fear not the sentence thereof. All our works, I confess, do smell of many imperfections. But the angel with the golden censer in his hand, he mingleth sweet odours therewith, pouring sweet incense upon
Rev. chap. 8. ver. 3.
them, which together with our prayers, mount up unto the presence of God, that thereby our God smelleth a sweet savour of rest, and we have peace with him: so passing by all our imperfections, by which means we are freed from the law, being now under grace. But what more, is this all? Nay we are also freed from the dominion of sin by being under grace. Now to make this appear the more evident, we must first see and consider, what things be in sin; there are two in number.
1. The penalty, death.
2. The taint and corruption of sin, a general infection in soul and body.
Now for the first, the penalty of sin. Behold how we are freed from death. Sin, when it cannot work in its own element, as before; when it altereth the course, and natural working, then it is dead unto us, it hurteth us not when it worketh in another kind, out of its own climate, when the ordinary course and streams thereof are so stopped, that it seeketh for new beginnings, for even as those bright streaming lamps (which we call stars) falling out of their proper natural region of light, unto the earth, the nearer they come unto us from their proper orb, the darker they are still, until at last falling on the ground, their light cometh quite to be extinguished. So sin in the regenerate, now working unwillingly, by compulsion and violence, not naturally by willing consent, as before, having altered kind, is now as dead unto them, because the longer they live the more they strive against it. It is now a falling towards the ground daily, where it hath less and less light, until at last it be quite extinguished. It is their comfort, it cannot rise again, to its own former and proper place of natural working. It is still falling downwards, and daily as it falleth it loseth some light, until at last it be quite dead. If thou beest sure, that sin once be a falling before thee, assure thyself it must by degrees fall unto the ground. It was the complaint of the children of the prophet to Elisha, when coloquintila had by some unawares been shred into the pottage: "O thou man of God death is in the pot,"
2 Kings, chap. 4. ver. 40.
which he presently healed by casting a little meal amongst them. So, I confess, for all this we may complain of poison, and still cry out that death is in the pot. But here is our comfort, that the blood of Christ is sprinkled into it, and keepeth us safe, that the venom thereof doth not hurt us. So that now, although death be in our pot, yet doth it also lie sprawling, wounded at our feet, not able to hurt For even as the three children were preserved in the midst of the fiery furnace, from being burned thereby, and from the heat of the flame, so it is with God's children, although death be in their pot, and sin still haunt them as a troublesome guest (more bold than welcome); yet the heat and venom of sin is delayed and taken away, by the mighty mercies and power of our God, that it is not able to kill them, which our blessed Saviour further confirmeth, telling us, that amongst other things, and privileges of believers in his name, this should be one especial property. "And" if (saith he) they shall drink any thing, it shall not hurt them." This is an especial privilege of the child of God under grace. Thus you see the venom of sin is killed. It hurteth not God's children, they are freed from the penalty of sin.
A further second thing there is to be considered in sin, which is, the taint and corruption thereof, which hurteth, and is as a general infection, infused into soul and body. But yet for all this, when a man hath once apprehended the blood of Christ, all this taint and corruption is washed away at an instant, and forgiven. Even as a traitor who hath been forfeited and tainted of blood, and cut off from being a member of the state, when it pleaseth the prince to restore him again by act of parliament, this man is no more a traitor, but hath forgiveness granted unto him at one instant, both from the penalty of the law, and guilt, and corruption of tainture of blood. So I say we having apprehended this most precious blood of Christ, the charter of reconciliation with him, having our hearts sprinkled therewith, at one instant we are restored from being any more
Dan. chap. 3. ver. 27.
"Mark, chap. 16. ver. 18.
Jerem. chap. 50. ver. 20.
traitors to God, having thereby both freedom from the severe exaction of the law, as also the taint and corruption of our sins infection taken away, being restored again at one instant to the blood royal, as the Lord speaketh: "In those days, and at that time (saith the Lord) the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none, and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found, for I will be merciful unto them whom I reserve." So, even so, I say, having apprehended the blood of Christ, whereby we are restored at one instant, all is forgiven. We are freed both from the penalty of sin, and from the taint and corruption thereof, yea so clean (in respect of imputation) that you see the Lord promiseth that though the iniquities of Israel, and the sins of Judah should be sought for, yet this work of apprehending Christ, and regeneration being once wrought, there should none be found; all is swallowed up in mercy. God's children in this life deprive themselves of much comfort by mistaking this point. They go on without this strong consolation I speak of. And because they would gladly judge of their good estate by the perfection of their regeneration and sanctification, being full of imperfections, they live in many sorrows. When indeed they should look unto the truth of the business. Am I truly, howsoever in much weakness, regenerate? Am I within the doors of the covenant of grace, although I come not so far in as others? Have I laid hold of Christ? Am I within the king's proclamation of free grace? Have I entered my name to him, and turned from my former rebellions? Why then, no question, I am within the doors, howsoever I was a traitor before. Why now all is forgiven and quite taken away, as though it had never been. I am no more under the law, but under grace. The penalty and guilt of sin are both taken away from me. Soy the Lord hath covenanted with us, that with that new fleshy heart in regeneration, the blood of Christ (like unto nitre) should wash away all our iniquities. And (saith he) I will pour clean water upon
y Ezek. chap. 36. ver. 26.
you, and ye shall be clean, yea from all your filthi
Let us then comfort ourselves with these things and be thankful, learning to weigh them aright, and praying continually that we find the continuance of this happy and blessed estate; not to be under the law, but under grace, and that for Christ Jesus' sake, &c.