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How can they pretend to be washed, on whom the gross filth of sin is still lying visible in their outward life and conversation ? Men may escape that, and yet not be truly washed; escape and yet be intangled again by apostacy. Let none such pretend to have part in Christ, 2 Pet. ii. 20, 21, for Christ will disown them.
2dly, They that have no apparent beauty of holiness on them, 1 Thess. v. 5. Men deceive themselves in despising the appearance of holiness, scorning to appear holy. That is but a peace of fashionable contempt of religion, poured on it in compliance to an ungodly world, and a naughty heart: for wherever grace is in the heart, it will shine forth in the life, Matth. vi. 22; Philip. ii. 15, 16. And though men may appear holy, who are not so; yet no man can be holy that has no appearance of it. If there is any religion at at all in the world, it must be among them that have an appearance of it, and not among those that have not.
More particularly, they are yet unwashed by Christ,
1st, Who have never yet had the glass of the law held to their face, in a work of conviction of the sinfulness of their nature, heart, and life, John xvi. 8. Christ washes none till he has discovered to them their pollution. For till then they will never see their need of washing. He washeth by the word, as by its light it convinceth of defilement, points out the cleanness to be aimed at, and sets the soul astir anxiously to seek it.
2dly, Who have not yet got a view of the filthiness, loathsomeness, and abominable nature of sin, Ezek. xxxvi. 31.
Men's consciences may be fired with a sense of the guilt of sin; so as they may be brought to cast it out as a coal that would burn them; that yet are blind to the filth of sin, and see not how it defiles them. This appears, in that if they could be but safe from wrath, they would never part with sin.
3dly, Who have not yet been made willing to be made clean. None are washed against their will, Jer. xiii. 27. And there is need of a day of power to make willing, Psal. cx. 3. Men naturally love to be still in the pollution of their sin, as the sow to wallow in the mire. They are as loath to be brought away, as fishes to come out of the water. Nay, there is in every unregenerate man, a heart enmity against holiness, Rom. viii. 7. The heart spits its venom against it. They are not only not fond of it, but they hate it: A certain indication, that they are void of it.
4thly, Who have never yet felt an absolute need of Christ, his blood and Spirit, for their sanctification; and so bave not yet come to Christ by faith for it, Hos. v. 13; Psal. li. 2; and lxv. 3. There is no washing but by Christ, and in union with him : therefore they
who have not come to Christ for sanctification, whatever pains they have been at to wash themselves, are yet unwashed.
2. Consider the state of unwashed sinners as having no part with Christ. Having no part with Christ, 1st, They have no part in the favour of God, Eph. ii. 12. They
without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” They are yet in a state of enmity with God; for he only is our peace, and the only way to the Father. All their sins, original and actual, in the guilt of them, do yet lie upon them : there is not one item blotted out of their account. For God gives no pardons, but to sinners in Christ: they must meet him there who would be pardoned or reconciled, 3 Cor. v. 19.
2dly, They are loathsome in God's sight; his soul abhors them as abominable, Tit. i. 15. No sinner can be savoury in God's sight, but by the sweet-smelling savour of Christ's sacrifice upon them. The smell of Jacob was sweet to Isaac, in the goodly raiment of his elder brother: and sinners are savoury to God, only in Christ, 2 Cor. ii. 15. While the sinner has no part with Christ, the filth of all his sin, original and actual, lies on him; and there is nothing on him to master the filthy savour arising therefrom.
3dly, They have no part with the family of God, but with “ the world lying in wickedness, 1 John i. 3, and v. 19, “ They are aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world,” being without Christ, Eph. ii. 12. They have no right to the privileges of God's children; for none can have that but in the right of Christ as his head. What is the state of the world lying in wickedness, is their state. They are under God's wrath, and the curse of the law.
Lastly, They shall have no part with the saints in light, but their part will be with sinners in outer darkness, Col. i. 12, 13; Rev. xxii. 15. One who has no part with Christ here, will have no part in heaven hereafter for none can come there, but in and through him. They will have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone," Rev. xxi. 8.
INFERENCE 4, Lastly, The way to be washed from sin, and made holy, is to get part with Christ by faith.
1. Think not that ye must first be holy, before ye can have part with Christ: but ye must first have that part with Christ, ere ye can be holy, as appears from what is said. The former is as absurd as to say, the sick must be cured ere he come to the physician, and the filthy washed ere he come to the waters. Hence, (1.) Your unholiness cannot bar you from getting part with Christ. (2.) The first step to holiness is to believe.
2. This is a sure way to holiness; it cannot misgive. For hereby the sick are put in the hand of the physician, the filthy in the laver. The sinner united to Christ, must needs partake of his blood and Spirit: as through our relation to Adam we are defiled, so by our relation to Christ we come to be sanctified.
3. Lastly, This is the only way, as being of God's appointment. The sanctification of a sinner is above the power of nature, not to be reached by natural endeavours; they have not that word of appointment.
THE CHRISTIAN WARFARE ; OR, THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH.
Several Sermons, preached at Ettrick, in the year 1723,
1 TIMOTHY vi. 12,
The Apostle having given Timothy an exhortation to several particular duties, here gives him an exhortation to the Christian life in general. Wherein we have two things.
1. A description of the Christian life. It is not an easy, idle, inactive life; but, (1.) A fight, a combat, a wrestling : for there are many enemies set to keep us out of the promised land. (2.) A good fight. There are many ill fights in the world. The men of the world have many fights and squabbles about this world, the honours, advantages, and pleasures of it, not worth the fighting for. But it is a good fight, a noble and worthy fight, wherein true valour and magnanimity appears. (3.) A fight of faith. Some understand this of the doctrine of faith, as that which is to be fought for. I anderstand it rather of the grace of faith, by which the fight is to be managed. This comprehends the former; and is more agreeable to the practical directions, ver. 11, and the “laying hold on eternal life," which is done by the grace of faith. So it is a fight to be managed in the way of believing.
2. The word of command given : “Fight the good fight of faith :" Agonize, like a combatant, wrestler, puting forth your utmost vigour. Timothy was engaged already in the fight; but still he was in the field of battle, and the enemy not yet off the field : therefore it is said to him, Fight. Paul was going off the field, and he says, I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have
kept the faith,” 2 Tim. iv. 7. Timothy was come on the field, and to him it was said, Fight.
The doctrine natively arising from the words, is this.
DOCTRINE. The Christian life is the good fight of faith, that must be fought by all that would see heaven.
In discoursing this doctrine, we shall shew,
III. Why the Christian life in the disposal of holy providence, is made a fight.
IV. Why a fight of faith.
V. Touch at some particular fights of faith the Christian may have in his course heavenward.
I. We shall shew in what respects the Christian life is the fight of faith. I take up this in these seven things.
1. There are enemies of our salvation, and there must be faith in the soul to set against them. Where there are not two parties, there can be no fight. There is no fighting in heaven, for there are no enemies there, Rev. xxi. 25. There is none of this fighting in the unbelieving world neither; for the enemies have all there alone, and there is no faith to set against them, Luke xi. 21. Unbelief carries the man quite over to the enemy's side; it is the evil spy, that says, It is needless to think on the fight. This fight is only found where faith and its opposites meet; and that is in the Christian's heart and life: Cant. vi. ult. “ What will ye see in the Shulamite? as it were the company of two armies.” So the combatant is only the man that has given up his name to Christ, and listed with him.
2. The enemy will not be quiet; he will make an attack on the believer setting heavenward. Hence is that exhortation, 1. Pet. v. 8, “Be sober, be viligant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.” Satan may rock his own children, and labour to keep all quiet: the more secure they lie, they are in the less hazard to break away from him. But God's children must not look for such treatment; their faces are away-ward from his kingdom; and therefore the enemy's face will be set against them, as a prize.
3. God's people must resist: 1 Pet. v. 9, “Whom (Satan) resist stedfast in the faith.” They must set themselves to stand their ground against all opposition, and grapple with the difficulties in their way to heaven, Luke xiii. 24. They must be denied to their
ease, content to quit their soft beds of ease, and take the field for it, fiand endure hardness, 2 Tim ii. 3.
4. They must resist by faith, 1 Pet. v. 9. above-cited. Faith is the mouth of the soul, that must give the shout in this battle, the hands the men of might must find in it, the weapon they must wield in it, both in the offensive and defensive part of it: Eph. vi. 16, “ Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” So one must not only have the grace of faith, but he must have it in exercise.
5. They must continue in that resistance, and hold on in it: Eph. vi. 13, “ Take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand.” The Christian life is a fight, and that denotes a continuance. Many think they should have no more ado, but whenever an enemy starts up, to lay at him with a stroke, and strike him down; and so be easy again: and so they perplex themselves with doubts, fears, and jealousies of the love of God, because it is otherwise with them, the enemy being still fresh and vigorous, Is. xxvi. 18. But alas ! Sirs, ye should consider, that that may be striking indeed, but not a fight, being of no continuance.
6. They must lay their account with ups and downs, getting as well as giving wounds in the encounter. Hence says David, Psal. xxx. 7, “Lord, by thy favour thou hast made my mountain to stand strong: thon didst hide thy face, and I was troubled.” Prevailing Jacob halted in his thigh, after his straggle of faith with the angel. To be absolute masters over the enemy, would not be the fight of faith, but the triumph of faith, which is reserved for heaven. In the fight of faith, the Christian may be set to his knees, but must not give over: yea, though the enemy should lay him on his back, he must say, “ Rejoice pot against me, O mine enemy : when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me,” Mic. vii. 8, and so bend to his feet again.
7. Lastly, Faith has the chief interest in this fight. In it there will be use for all the graces, the doing and suffering graces: yet the fight has its name from faith, as that which has the chief hand in it. For,
1st, It is faith's possession that the plea is about. Life and salvation in Christ Jesus is held forth, offered, and exhibited in the gospel to the sinner; and the sinner believing in Christ, appropriates and takes possession of it by faith : Cant. ii. 16, “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” John xx. 28, “ Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.” 1 John v. 11, 12, “This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son, hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.” There is the ground