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by their profession and calling as Christians, were obliged to be such, and because as many of them as were in any measure true to their calling and profession, were really such. Besides, it would seem not unworthy of consideration, that in all probability there would be fewer false Christians, and the number of true believers would be usually greater, in the churches in those primitive times, than now in the best reformed churches : because there could not then be many of them that were from their infancy bred in the Christian faith, but the greatest part were such as, being of years of discretion, were, by the hearing of the gospel, converted from Paganism and Judaism to the Christian religion, and made a deliberate choice of it; to which there were at that time no great outward encouragements, and therefore the less danger of multitudes of hypocrites, which, as vermin in summer, breed most in the time of the Church's prosperity.
From the dissimilitude betwixt our churches and those, we may make this use of reproof, that if au apostolical epistle were to be directed to us, it ought to be inscribed To the ignorant, profane, malicious: as he, who at the hearing of the gospel read, said, “ Either this is not the gospel, or we are not Christians," so either these characters, given in the inscription of these epistles, are not true characters, or we are not true Christians.
Ver. 2. Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God
the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ; grace unto you peace be multiplied.
In this verse we have their condition, and the causes of it-their condition, sanctified and justified; the former expressed by obedience, the latter by sprinkling of the blood of Christ—the causes, 1. election, 2. the execution of that decree, their effectual calling, wbicb, I conceive, is meant by election bere ; the selecting them out of the world, and joining them to the fellowship of the children of God. So Joho xv, 19. The former, election, is par
ticularly ascribed to God the Father, the latter to the Holy Spirit; and the blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is here assigned as the cause of their justification ; and so the whole Trinity concurring dignify them with this their spiritual and happy estate.
I shall discourse first of these separately, and then of their connexion.
I. Of the state itself; and first of justification, though named last.
This sprinkling has respect to the rite of the legal purification by the sprinkling of blood, and that appositely; for these rites of sprinkling and blood did all point out this blood and this sprinkling, and exhibited this true ransom of souls, which was shadowed by them.
The use and end of sprinkling were purification and expiation, because sin merited death, and the pollutions and stains of human nature were by sin. Such is the pollution, that it can be no manner of way wasbed off but by blood. Neither is there any blood able to purge from sin, except the most precious blood of Jesus Christ, which is called, Acts xx, 28, the blood of God.
That the stain of sin can be washed off only by blood, intimates, that it merits death; and that no blood, but that of the Son of God, can do it, intimates that this stain merits eternal death ; and this had been our portion, except the death of the eternal Lord of life bad freed us from it.
The soul aud body of all maukind are stained by the pollution of sin. The impure leprosy of the soul is notv a spot outwardly, but wholly inward; hence as the corporal leprosy was purified by the sprinkling of blood, 90 is this. " Then by reflecting, we see how all this that the apostle St. Peter expresseth, is necessary to justificationChrist, the Mediator betwixt God and man is God and maa-a Mediator pot only interceding, but also satisfying, Epb. ii, 16, this satisfaction doth not reconcile us, unless it be applied: therefore there is not only mention of blood, but the sprinkling of it. The Spirit by faith sprinkleth the soul, as with hyssop, wherewith the sprinkling was formerly made. This is it of which the prophet speaks, Isa. lii, 15, So shall he sprinkle many nations ; and which the apostle to the Hebrews prefers
above all legal sprinklings, ix, 12, 14, both as to its duration, and as to the excellency of its effects.
Men are not easily convinced and persuaded of the deep stain of sin, and that no other laver can fetch it out, but the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Some who have moral resolutions of amendment, dislike at least gross sins and purpose to avoid them, and it is to them cleanness enough to reform in these things; but they consider not what becomes of the guiltiness they have contracted already, and how that shall be purged, how their natural pollution shall be taken away. Be not deceived in this. It is not a transient sigh, or a light word, or a wish of, “ God forgive me;" po, nos the highest current of repentance, por that which is the truest evidence of repentance, amendment-it is none of these that purify in the sight of God and expiate wrath. They are all imperfect and stained themselves, cannot stand and answer for themselves, much less be of value to counterpoise the former guilt of sin. The very tears of the purest repentance, unless they be sprinkled with this blood, are impure; all our washings without this, are but washings of the blackmoor, it is labor in vain ; Jer. ii, 22; Job ix, 30, 31. There are none truly purified by the blood of Christ, who do not endeavour after purity of heart and conversation; but yet it is the blood of Christ by which they are all made fair, and there is no spot in them. Here it is said elect to obedience, but because that obedience is not perfect, there must be sprinkling of the blood too. There is nothing in religion further out of nature's reach and out of its liking and believing, than the doctrine of redemption by 'a Saviour and a crucified Saviour, by Christ and by his blood, first shed on the cross in his suffering, and then sprinkled on the soul by his Spirit. It is easier to make men sensible of the necessity of repentance and amendment of life, though that is very difficult, than of this purging by the sprinkling of this precious blood. Did we see how needful Christ is to us, we should esteem and love him more.
Look to this, that this blood be sprinkled on your souls, that the destroying angel may pass by you. There is a generation, not some few, but a generation, deceived in this; they are their own deceivers, pure in their own
eyes. How earnestly doth David pray, Wash me, purge me with hyssop! Though bathed in tears, Psal. vi, 6, that satisfied not-Wash thou me. This is the honorable condition of the saints, that they are purified and consecrated unto God by this sprinkling ; yea, they have on white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. re is mention indeed of great tribulation, but there is a double comfort joined with it—they come out of it ; that tribulation hatb an end-and they pass from it to glory; for they have on the robe of candidates, white robes washed in the blúod of the Lamb, washed white in blood. Shall they then who are purified by this blood, return to live among the swine ? What gross injury were this to themselves, and to that blood by which they are cleansed! They who are chosen to this sprinkling, are likewise chosen to obedience. This blood purifieth the heart; yea, this blood purgeth our consciences from dead works to serve the living God.
Secondly, of their sanctification ; elect unto obedience. When obedience to God is expressed by the simple absolute name of obedience, it teacheth us, that to him alone belongs absolute and unlimited obedience, all obedience by all creatures. It is the shame and misery of man, that he hath departed from this obedience, that we are become sons of disobedience ; but grace, renewing the hearts of believers, changeth their natures and so their names, and makes them children of obedience. As this obedience consists in the receiving Christ as
our Redeemer, so also at the same time as our Lord or King. There is an entire rendering up of the whole man to his obedience.
By obedience sanctification is here intimated. It signifies then both habitual and active obedience, renovation of heart and conformity to the divine will. The mind is illuminated by the Holy Ghost to know and believe the divine will; yea, this faith is the great and chief part of obedience; Rom. i, 8. The truth of the doctrine is first impressed on the mind; hence flows out pleasant obedience, and full of love; hence all the affections, and the whole body, with its members, learn to give a willing obedience, and submit upto God; whereas before they resisted bim, being under the standard of Satan.
This obedience, though imperfect, is universal in three ways--in the subject--in the object-in the duration the whole man is subjected to the whole law, and that constantly and perseveringly.
The first universality is the cause of the other. Because it is not in the tongue alone or in the hand, but has its root in the heart, therefore it doth not wither as the grass or flower lying on the surface of the earth, but it florishes because rooted. And it embraces the whole law, because it arises from a reverence it bas for the Lawgiver himself; reverence, I say, but tempered with love. Hence it accounts no law nor command little or of small value, which is from God, because he is great, and highly esteemed by the pious heart ; no command hard, though contrary to the flesh, because all things are easy to love. There is the same authority in all, as St. James divinely argues ; and this authority is the golden chain of all the commandments, which if broken in any link, all falls to pieces.
That this threefold perfection of obedience is not a picture drawn by fancy, is evident in David, Psalm cxix, where he subjects himself to the whole law; his feet, 105 ; his mouth, 13; bis heart, 11; the whole tenor of his life, 24. He subjects himself to the whole law, 6; and he professes his constancy therein, 16 and 33 ; Teach me the way of thy statutes, and I shall keep it unto the end.
II. We have the causes of the condition above described.
According to the foreknowledge of God the Father. The exactest knowledge of things is, to know them in their causes. It is then an excellent thing, and worthy of their endeavours who are most desirous of kuowledge, to know the best things in their highest causes ; and the happiest way of attaining to this knowledge is, to possess those things and to know them in experience. To such persons the apostle here speaks, and sets before them the excellency of their spiritual condition, and leads them to the causes of it.
Their state is, that they are sanctified and justified : the nearest cause of both these is Jesus Christ. He is