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Now when this living water is received, it takes up its seat in the heart, whence it spreads itself to the awakening of all the powers of the soul. For as in the first creation, the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters, in order to the putting of that creation into that excellent fashion and harmony which now we behold with our eyes, even so the new creation, to wit, the making of us new to God, is done by the overspreading of the same Spirit also.
As the herb that is planted or seed sown needs watering with continual showers of the mountains, so our graces implanted in us by the Spirit of grace must also be watered by the rain of Heaven. "Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly, thou settest the furrows thereof, thou makest it soft with showers, thou blessest the springing thereof." Hence he says that our graces shall grow. But how? "I will be as the dew unto Israel; he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive-tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine; the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon."
All the warmth that we have in our communion, is the warmth of the Spirit. When a company of saints are gathered together in the name of Christ to perform any spiritual exercise, and their souls are edified warmly and made glad therein, it is because this water, this river of water of life, has, in some of the streams thereof, run into that assembly. Then are Christians like those that drink wine in bowls, merry and glad; for that they have drank into the Spirit, and had their souls refreshed with the sweet gales and strong wine thereof. This is the feast that Isaiah speaks of when he saith, "In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things,
a feast of wine on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined." Isa. 25: 6. This is called in another place, "The communion of the Holy Ghost." 2 Cor. 13: 14. Now he warmeth spirits, uniteth spirits, enlighteneth spirits, reviveth, cherisheth, quickeneth, strengtheneth graces; renews assurances, brings old comforts to mind, weakens lusts, emboldeneth and raiseth a spirit of faith, of love, of hope, of prayer, and makes the word a blessing, conference a blessing, meditation a blessing, and duty very delightful to the soul. Without this water of life, communion is weak, flat, cold, dead, fruitless, lifeless; there is nothing seen, felt, heard, or understood, in a spiritual, heart-quickening way. Now ordinances are burdensome, sins strong, faith weak, hearts hard, and the faces of our souls dry, like the dry and parched ground.
This drink also revives us when tempted, when sick, when persecuted, when in the dark, and when we faint for thirst. The life of religion is this water of life; where that runs, where that is received, and where things are done in this spirit, there all things are well-the church thrifty, the soul thrifty, graces thrifty, and all is well.
You that are spiritual, you know what a high and goodly lifting up of heart one small gale of the good Spirit of God will make in your souls; how it will make your lusts to languish, and your souls to love and take pleasure in the Lord that saves you. You know, I say, what a flame of love, and compassion, and self-denial, and endeared affection to God and all saints, it will beget in the soul: “Oh, it is good to be here," saith the gracious heart.
This is the reason why so many are carried away with the errors that are broached in these days, because they have not indeed received the Lord Jesus by the revelation of the Spirit and with power, but by the relation of others only; and so having no other witness to set them down
withal, but the history of the word and the relation of others concerning the truths contained in it, yet not having had the Spirit of the Lord to confirm these things effectually to them, they are carried away with delusions.
IX. JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.
True justifying faith is said to receive, to embrace, to obey the Son of God as tendered in the gospel; by which expressions is showed both the nature of justifying faith in its actings in point of justification, and also the cause of its being full of good works in the world. A gift is not made mine by my seeing it, or because I know the nature of the thing so given; but it is mine if I receive and embrace it, yea, and as to the point in hand, if I yield myself up to stand and fall by it. Now he that shall not only see but receive, not only know but embrace the Son of God to be justified by him, cannot but bring forth good works; because Christ, who is now received and embraced by faith,* leavens and seasons the spirit of this sinner, through his faith, to the making of him so to be. Acts 15:9. For faith has joined Christ and the soul together, and being so joined, the soul is one spirit with him: not essentially, but in agreement and oneness of design. Besides, when Christ is truly received and embraced to the justifying of the sinner, in that man's heart he dwells by his word and Spirit through the same faith also. Now Christ by his Spirit and word must needs season the soul he thus dwells in; so then the soul being seasoned, it seasoneth the body and soul, the life and conversation.
If the receiving of a temporal gift naturally tends to the making of us to move our cap and knee, and binds us to be the servant of the giver, shall we think that faith will leave him who by it has received Christ, to be as unconcerned as a stock or stone, or that its utmost excellency is to provoke the soul to a lip-labor, and to give Christ a
few fair words for his pains and grace, and so wrap up the business? No, no; the love of Christ constraineth us thus to judge, that it is but reasonable, since he gave his all for us, that we should give our some for him. 2 Cor. 5:14.
We are said to be saved by faith, because by faith we lay hold of, venture upon, and put on Jesus Christ for life for life, I say, because God having made him the Saviour, has given him life to communicate to sinners; and the life that he communicates to them is the merit of his flesh and blood, which whoso eateth and drinketh by faith hath eternal life, because that flesh and blood have merit sufficient to obtain the favor of God. Yea, it hath done so, that day it was offered through the eternal Spirit a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savor to him. Wherefore God imputeth the righteousness of Christ to him that believeth in him, by which righteousness he is personally justified and saved from that just judgment of the law that was due unto him. John 5:26; 6:53-57; Eph. 4:32; 5:2; Rom. 4:23-25.
Here let Christians warily distinguish betwixt the meritorious and the instrumental cause of their justification. Christ, with what he has done and suffered, is the meritorious cause of our justification; therefore he is said to be "made unto us of God wisdom and righteousness," and we are said to be "justified by his blood and saved from wrath through him," 1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 5:9, 10; for it was his life and blood that was the price of our redemption.
Thou art therefore to make Christ Jesus the object of thy faith for justification; for by his righteousness thy sins must be covered from the sight of the justice of the law. Acts 16:31; Matt. 1:21.
FAITH THE INSTRUMENTAL CAUSE OF SALVA.
Faith as the gift of God is not the Saviour, as our act doth merit nothing. Faith was not the cause that God
gave Christ, neither is it the cause why God converts men to Christ; but faith is a gift bestowed upon us by the gracious God, the nature of which is to lay hold on Christ, whom God before did give for a ransom to redeem sinners. This faith hath its nourishment and supplies from the same God who at the first did give it; and is the only instrument through the Spirit that doth keep the soul in a comfortable frame both to do and suffer; for Christ helps the soul to receive comfort from him, when it can get none from itself, bearing up the soul in its progress heavenward. But that it is the first cause of salvation, I deny; or that it is the second, I deny. It is only the instrument or hand that receiveth the benefits that God hath prepared for thee before thou hadst any faith; so that we do nothing for salvation, as men. But if we speak properly, it was God's grace that moved him to give Christ a ransom for sinners, and the same God with the same grace, that doth give to the soul faith to believe and by believing to close in with him whom God out of his love and pity did send into the world to save sinners; so that all the works of the creature are shut out as to justification and life, and men are saved freely by grace.
TRUE AND FALSE FAITH DISTINGUISHED.
There are two sorts of good works; and a man may be shrewdly guessed at with reference to his faith, even by the works that he chooseth to be conversant in.
There are works that cost nothing, and works that are chargeable; and observe it, the unsound faith will choose to itself the most easy works it can find: for example, there is reading, praying, hearing of sermons, baptism, breaking of bread, church-fellowship, preaching, and the like; and there is mortification of lusts, charity, simplicity, and open-heartedness with a liberal hand to the poor, and their like also. Now, the unsound faith picks and chooses, and takes and leaves; but the true faith does not so.