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From this coherence of the words with the context, we may observe,
That there is great need to preach rousing and terrifying doctrines, even to true and real believers. Thunder is said to purge the air; and to cleanse it from those impure vapours, with which it is apt to abound when it hath been long serene and stagnant.
And, truly, thundering doctrine is of great use,
First. Not only to convince the hypocrite: when the word shall be applied so critically, that he can no longer hide himself from the evidence of it, nor any longer lurk under the false disguise of a seeming sanctity; but his own conscience will detect him, and deal as roundly with him, as he hath dealt dissemblingly both with God and man: nor,
Secondly. To rouse and awaken the secure; and, by alarming them with the terrors of the Lord, make them start out of their supine rechlessness, and stupid neglect of their souls and eternal concernments: but,
Thirdly. It is necessary also to make those, who are true and sincere Christians, cautious and circumspect; to stand upon their watch, lest they also draw back unto perdition, and bring upon themselves all the woes and curses which they hear denounced against these wretched apostates. Let him, that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall: 1 Cor. x. 12.
And, whereas he sweetens this terrible doctrine, by declaring his good hopes and opinion concerning them; observe,
That such rousing and terrifying truths require a great deal of holy prudence and caution in the delivering of them. Ministers ought not always to denounce woe and wrath; nor at all peradventures to fling abroad swords, arrows, and death; nor, like a company of whifflers in a show, spit fire at every man they meet. For this indiscreet preaching of hell and damnation, not making a careful distinction between persons and persons, doth but, First. Harden the wicked, while it puts them into as good a condition as any others.
Secondly. Grieve the good; and sadden the hearts of those, whom God would not have made sad: while it rattles out the terrors of the Lord, without any discrimination; and leaves them no means, nor advantage, of applying those comforts to themselves, which of right belong unto them. And,
* Thirdly. It prejudiceth all, inasmuch as it is apt to beget only a slavish fear; and that fear an aversation to God, and to that religion, which is thus imprudently represented as only dreadful and frightful.
But, to wave these things, that, which I shall principally consider, is that clause in the text, Things, that accompany salvation.
In which I shall enquire,
The Meaning of the Phrase.
What those things are, which do thus accompany salvation. For the Meaning and Import. of the Expression; we must here take notice, that Salvation may be taken in a Twofold sense: either,
For the full and actual Possession of it. Or,
For our Right and Title to it, and some initials of it
already begun in us.
In the former sense, it signifies the glory and happiness of the saints in heaven, when they are no longer viatores, but comprehensores; no longer travellers thither, but possessors of their inheritance. And thus it is not to be understood in this place. For many things accompany this salvation, which cannot be verified of the best and holiest saints, while they are here in this life: as, the clear and immediate vision and fruition of God; our perfect immunity from all sin and corruption; our final deliverance from all sorrows and sufferings, and the like: which the choicest believers do not enjoy, while they are here on earth; but they are reserved for them till they arrive at heaven, to be the completion of all their hopes, and their full and eternal reward...
This Salvation then, which the text mentions, is only Salvation in Right and Title: for then also are we said to be saved, when we have a right unto the eternal inheritance, and the initials and beginnings of it are wrought in our souls. This is a salvation on this side heaven: which we may well call a State of Salvation, or a certain tendency unto it; which will, at last, infallibly end in a full and entire enjoyment of it. Now all those things, which are previous and antecedent to our eternal salvation in heaven,' are concomitants and associates with this salvation; and therefore are said to accompany salvation, because they are to be found in all those, who have a true right unto the glory of heaven for
the present, and shall be brought unto the possession of’it hereafter.
That a STATE OF SALVATION HATH PROPER AND PECULIAR THINGS BELONGING UNTO IT, WHICH ARE NOT TO BE FOUND IN ANY OTHER CONDITION.
i. These things ARE NOT ONLY EXTERNAL PRIVILEGES, NOR THE DISPENSATION OF THE ORDINANCES OF JESUS CHRIST.
Indeed, these are ordinarily necessary as the means of salvation, without which none can, according to God's ordinary way of working, come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved : for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God: Rom. x. 17. But, yet, they are not inseparable concomitants of this state many enjoy the ordinances and means of grace, who yet are utter strangers to God; and despise that grace, which they were instituted to convey. And, therefore, as they prove great furtherances to the salvation of some, so they accidentally prove the occasion of obduration and sorer condemnation to others: as the same rain from heaven rots some trees, that makes others to sprout and grow; so the same ordinances do accidently rot and corrupt some wretched souls, and make them the fitter fuel for hell-fire, which cause others, that are trees of righteousness and plants of renown, to flourish, and spring, and bring forth much precious fruit unto God. And therefore we find, that God gives a most sad and dreadful commission to his prophet Isaiah, ch. vi. 9. Go and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Rest not, therefore, in ordinances: that you hear the word, and receive the sacraments; that you have the tenor of the covenant explained, and the seals of it applied. These are, indeed, means of grace; but they are not evidences of it: they are things, which promote salvation; but they do not necessarily accompany it and he, who hath no better a title for heaven, than only that he sits under the enjoyment of these, will find all his fond hopes miserably disappointed, when he shall hear
Christ pronounce a dreadful doom, even upon those, who have eaten and drunk in his presence, and whom he himself had taught and instructed: Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.
ii, Are THE COMMON GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD, those things, that accompany salvation.
These, indeed, are of great use and excellency; but yet they may be found in those, who are wholly devoid of true grace and the life of God. Many hypocrites may be endowed with a great measure of these gifts; and, sometimes, much beyond those, who are true and sincere Christians. Their gifts may further the salvation of others, when they only aggravate their own damnation. As Noah made use of those to build his ark, who yet were themselves drowned in the deluge; and as Solomon employed the Syrians, who were heathens, to prepare materials for the temple: so God doth, sometimes, make use of the gifts and abilities of wicked and ungodly men for the benefit and salvation of his Church. But, yet, those very parts and gifts, which help on the salvation of others, contribute not to the salvation of the owners; but rather to the increase of their future torments, because their knowledge, and gifts, and parts render them the more inexcusable before God.
iii. Are THE COMMON GRACES OF THE HOLY GHOST, those things, that accompany salvation.
There are many previous works wrought upon the souls of those, who are brought near unto salvation; but, through their quenching of the Spirit and resisting of his motions, they provoke him to withdraw, and so they never attain it.
iv. Are INWARD JOYS AND COMFORTS those things, that do necessarily accompany salvation.
Nay, indeed, a true Christian may, many times, go mourning and heavily, when a hypocrite shall flaunt and triumph in his joys; and boast of his evidences, and ravishments, and overpowering consolations, as if he were the only favourite and minion of heaven, whom God delighted to caress and dandle as the darling of his affections. See that proud Pharisee, Luke
xviii. 11: God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are.... nor as this publican: and that hypocritical church of Thyatira: Rev. iii. 17. I am rich, and increased in goods, and stand in need of nothing. Thus, through the delusions of Satan and their own self-flattery, they may bring themselves into a golden dream, that they are rich in enjoyments, increased in graces, and stand in need of nothing which might make them either holy or happy and so they give themselves the same applause, that the rich fool gave his soul; Soul, thou hast....goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But, alas! these over-weening conceits prove gross delusions! How many have we seen, who have prided themselves in their joys, and would be still boasting what sweetness of spirit, and soul ravishments, and other such like melting things they have felt, turn utter apostates from the truth, and the profession of godliness!
These, therefore, are not the things, that accompany salvation ; but a man may suffer everlasting torments, who hath tasted many delusive joys and comforts: he may drink deep of the cup of God's wrath and fury, who hath tasted of the powers of the world to come: he may go down to hell with many churchprivileges and ordinances, excellent gifts and parts, with many common graces of the Spirit, many convictions, many good wishes and desires, yea and many good duties too, and there suffer the vengeance of everlasting fire, and have all these burnt
These things, therefore, are no firm support for your hope; no good evidences for your future happiness: and, therefore, trust not your souls upon them: they will sink under you, and deceive you. They are only common things; and may belong to any, who live under Gospel-Dispensations. Hearing, praying, professing, receiving the sacraments, though they be absolutely necessary to salvation, as means; yet they are not, as evidences: they are distinguishing marks of Christians from those of another religion; but they are not distinguishing marks of saints from hypocrites. Or, if you will have them evidences, they are rather exclusive evidences, than conclusive: that is, it is an assured evidence that they are no true Christians, who do neglect, or disown, or despise these things: whosoever doth so, is certainly excluded from this number, and from all hopes and possibility of salvation. But they are not conclusive evidences: