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do in general;'My sin is ever before me,' says David, they set sin before them not to terrify and affright their souls with it, but that a due sense of the evil of it, may be kept alive upon their hearts.
2dly. They gather up in their thoughts the sins for which they have not made a particular reckoning with God in Christ; or if they have begun so to do, yet they have not made clear work of it, nor come to a clear and comfortable issue. There is nothing more dreadful than for a man to be able to digest his convictions, to have sin look him in the face, and speak perhaps some words of terror to him, and to be able by any charms of diversions or delays, to put it off, without coming to a full trial as to state and condition in reference thereunto. This the saints do ; they gather up their sins, lay them in the balance of the law, see and consider their weight and desert; and then,
[3.] They make this commutation I speak of with Jesus Christ. That is,
1st. They seriously consider, and by faith conquer all objections to the contrary, that Jesus Christ, by the will and appointment of the Father, hath really undergone the punishment that was due to those sins, that lie now under his eye and consideration; Isa. liii. 6. 2 Cor. v. 21. he hath as certainly and really answered the justice of God for them, as if he himself, the sinner, should at that instance be cast into hell, could do.
2dly. They hearken to the voice of Christ calling them to him with their burden ; • Come unto me ye that are weary and heavy laden :' come with your burdens; come thou (poor soul) with thy guilt of sin. Why, what to do? Why, this is mine, saith Christ, this agreement I made with my Father, that I should come, and take thy sins, and bear them away; they were my lot. Give me thy burden, give me all thy sins; thou knowest not what to do with them, I know how to dispose of them well enough, so that God shall be glorified and thy soul delivered. Hereupon,
3dly. They lay down their sins at the cross of Christ, upon his shoulders ; this is faith's great and bold venture upon the grace, faithfulness, and truth of God; to stand by the cross and say, Ah! he is bruised for my sins, and wounded for my transgressions, and the chastisement of my peace is upon him.' He is thus made sin for me. Here I give up my sins to him that is able to bear them, to undergo them. He requires it of my hands, that I should be content that he should undertake for them, and that I heartily consent unto. This is every day's work, I know not how any peace can be maintained with God, without it. If it be the work of souls to receive Christ, as made sin for us, we must receive him, as one that takes our sins upon him. Not as though he died any more, or suffered any more; but as the faith of the saints of old, made that present and done before their eyes, not yet come to pass; Heb. xi. 1. so faith now, makes that present, which was accomplished and past many generations ago. This it is to know Christ crucified.
4thly. Having thus by faith given up their sins to Christ, and seen God laying them all on him, they draw nigh, and take from him that righteousness which he hath wrought out for them, so fulfilling the whole of that of the apostle; 2 Cor. v. 21. He was made sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.' They consider him tendering himself and his righteousness, to be their righteousness before God; they take it, and accept of it, and complete this blessed bartering and exchange of faith. Anger, curse, wrath, death, sin as to its guilt, he took it all, and takes it all away; with him we leave whatever of this nature belongs to us, and from him we receive, love, life, righteousness and
peace. Ob. But it may be said, Surely this course of procedure can never be acceptable to Jesus Christ. What! Shall we daily come to him, with our filth, our guilt, our sins ? May he not, will he not, bid us keep them to ourselves ? they are our own; shall we be always giving sins, and taking righteousness?
Ans. There is not any thing that Jesus Christ is more delighted with, than that his saints should always hold communion with him, as to this business of giving and receiving. For,
(1st.) This exceedingly honours him, and gives him the glory that is his due; many indeed cry Lord, Lord, and make mention of him, but honour him not at all. How so? They take his work out of his hands, and ascribe it unto other things; their repentance, their duties, shall bear their iniquities. They do not say so, but they do so. The commutation they make, if they make any, it is with themselves. All their bartering about sin, is in and with their own souls. The work that Christ came to do in the world, was to bear our iniquities,' and lay down his life a ransom for our sins. The cup he had to drink of, was filled with our sins, as to the punishment due to them. What greater dishonour then can be done to the Lord Jesus, than to ascribe this work to any thing else; to think to get rid of our sins any other way, or means. Herein then, I say, is Christ honoured indeed, when we go to him with our sins, by faith, and say unto him, Lord, this is thy work; this is that for which thou camest into the world; this is that, thou hast undertaken to do; thou callest for my burden, which is too heavy for me to bear; take it, blessed Redeemer; thou tenderest thy righteousness, that is my portion. Then is Christ honoured, then is the glory of mediation ascribed to him, when we walk with him in this communion.
(2dly.) This exceedingly endears the souls of the saints to him and constrains them to put a due valuation upon him, his love, his righteousness, and grace. When they find, and have the daily use of it, then they do it. Who would not love him? I have been with the Lord Jesus, may the poor soul say; I have left my sins, my burden with him, and he hath given me his righteousness, wherewith I am going with boldness to God. I was dead, and am alive, for he died for me; I was cursed, and am blessed, for he was made a
me; I was troubled, but have peace, for the chastisement of my peace was upon him ; I knew not what to do, ñor whither to cause my sorrow to go; by him have I received joy unspeakable and glorious. If I do not love him, delight in him, obey him, live to him, die for him, I am worse than the devils in hell. Now the great aim of Christ in the world, is, to have a high place and esteem in the hearts of his people; to have there (as he hath in himself), the preeminence in all things; not to be jostled up and down among other things; to be all, and in all. And thus are the saints of God prepared to esteem him, upon the engaging themselves to this communion with him.
Ob. Yea, but you will say, If this be so, what need we to repent, or amend our ways; it is but going to Christ by faith,
making this exchange with him, and so we may sin that grace may abound?
Ans. I judge no man's person; but this I must needs say, that I do not understand, how a man that makes this objection in cold blood, not under a temptation or accidental darkness, can have any true or real acquaintance with Jesus Christ; however, this I am certain of, that this communion in itself, produces quite other effects, than those supposed. For,
(1.) For repentance. It is, I suppose, a gospel repentance that is intended. For a legal bondage, repentance full of dread, amazement, terror, self-love, astonishment at the presence of God, I confess this communion takes it away, prevents it, casts it out, with its bondage and fear; but for gospel repentance, whose nature consists in godly sorrow for sin, with its relinquishment, proceeding from faith, love, and abhorrency of sin, on account of Father, Son, and Spirit, both law, and love, that this should be hindered by this communion, is not possible. I told you that the foundation of this communion is laid in a deep, serious, daily consideration of sin, its guilt, vileness, and abomination, and our own vileness on that account; that a sense hereof is to be kept alive in and upon the heart of every one, that will enjoy this communion with Christ; without it Christ is of no value nor esteem to him. Now is it possible that a man should daily fill his heart with the thoughts of the vileness of sin, on all considerations whatever, of law, love, grace, gospel, life, and death, and be filled with self-abhorrency on this account, and yet be a stranger to godly sorrow? Here is the mistake, the foundation of this communion is laid in that, which they suppose it overthrows.
(2.) But what shall we say for obedience? If Christ be so glorified and honoured by taking our sins, the more we bring to him the more will he be glorified. A man could not suppose that this objection would be made, but that the Holy Ghost, who knows what is in man, and his heart, hath made it for them, and in their name; Rom. vi. 1-3. The very same doctrine that I have insisted on, being delivered, chap. v. 18—20. the same objection is made to it; and for those who think it may have any weight, I refer them to the answer given in that chapter by the apostle, as also to what
was said before to the necessity of our obedience, notwitlıstanding the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.
But you will say, How should we address ourselves to the performance of this duty ? What path are we to walk in?
Faith exercises itself in it, especially three ways.
[1.] In meditation. The heart goes over in its own thoughts the part above insisted on, sometimes severally, sometimes jointly, sometimes fixing primarily on one thing, sometimes on another, and sometimes going over the whole. At one time perhaps, the soul is most upon consideration of its own sinfulness, and filling itself with shame and selfabhorrency on that account; sometimes it is filled with the thoughts of the righteousness of Christ, and with joy unspeakable, and glorious on that account. Especially on great occasions, when grieved and burdened by negligence or eruption of corruption, then the soul goes over the whole work, and so drives things to an issue with God, and takes up the peace that Christ hath wrought out for him.
[2.] In considering and inquiring into the promises of the gospel, which hold out all these things; the excellency, fulness, and suitableness, of the righteousness of Christ, the rejection of all false righteousness, and the commutation made in the love of God, which was formerly insisted on.
[3.] In prayer. Herein do their souls go through this work day by day; and this communion have all the saints with the Lord Jesus, as to their acceptation with God, which was the first thing proposed to consideration.
Of communion with Christ in holiness. The several acts ascribed unto the
Lord Christ herein. 1. His intercession. 2. Sending of the Spirit. 3. Bestows habitual grace. Whát that is, and wherein it consists. This purchased by Christ; bestowed by him. Of actual grace. How the saints hold communion with Christ in these things, manifested in sundry particulars.
Our communion with the Lord Jesus, as to that grace of sanctification and purification, whereof we have made men