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New Jerusalem, to disturb those that have ascended thither? Yet do not mistake here, though holiness be the way to eternal safety, the path appointed by the Lord for his people by which to reach heaven, yet it is not for your holiness, as the procuring you
thither. Alas! when we have done all, we are but unprofitable servants, and it is not possible for us to merit any thing at the hand of God. We must not overlook the righteousness of Christ, he is said to be the way, and none come to the Father but by the Son; and holiness is said to be the way too, for without it none shall see the Lord, yet in different respects ; Christ is the way of merit, purchase, and procurement, and holiness the way of
means, preparatory meetness, and fitness for heaven ; Christ's righteousness and ours have their distinct offices, and both the way in some respects We have our reconciliation with God, and security from his wrath, by the blood of Christ, and inward peace of conscience from the evidence of our sanctification ; yet some, though they pretend to have renounced popery, talk of earning heaven. Ask them how they expect to be saved? Well, by their good works. They think that those who do so and so, shall not surely fall short of heaven at last; if they do, what will become of others more loose and careless than themselves?. And so they forget the merits of the Lord Jesus, never considering his procurement of our acceptance with God.
Secondly, The confirmation of the doctrine, and here we shall endeavour to prove,
I. That the way of real sanctity is a way of safety. 1. From scripture assertions and expressions. “He that
“ walketh uprightly, walketh surely," Prov. x. 9. Many politicians can invent ways, as they imagine, to secure themselves, yet when they have done all, honesty will be found to be the best policy. “Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, " Psal. xxv. 21. Righteousness is called a breast-plate, for its security. A breast-plate preserves the principal part of the body. A man may lose a leg or an arm, and not lose his life ; but a stab at the heart is mortal : so righteousness and holiness preserve the principal part of a Christian, his soul and conscience.
2. From scriptural instances. Many such we find upon record in holy writ, that let us see how the Lord hath signally and seasonably appeared for his people, when in great straits and amidst threatening difficulties. We shall mention a few among many that might be named. Such was the wickedness of the old world, that the Lord deluged it with a flood of water, and there Noah, a preacher of righteousness, is preserved in the ark when others are swept away. Such was the abounding sin of Sodom, that the Lord destroyed it with fire and brimstone from heaven ; but righteous Lot must be first fetched out and set without the city: destruction must not come upon it so long as he remained there.
Famous are those two instances in Daniel, and very pertinent to our purpose. See that in the third chapter.
. A decree goes forth from the king, that whoever did not fall down and worship the golden image which he had set up, should be cast into the burning fiery furnace. Hard measure indeed, it was come to this --they must either turn or burn; yea, and says proud, blasphemous Nebuchadnezzar, “Who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands ?" Oh what insulting arrogance ! as though he had been the great controller and commander of the world. What! out of his hands ? as if man, a worm, was able to grapple with divine vengeance ! Yet notwithstanding his great words and daring insolence, Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, are not affrighted. Blessed nonconformists ! they are partly as bold as he, though in a better sense; the goodness
a of their cause helps them to courage. They firmly believe the Most High was above him, and they do not much demur or dispute the point, but are resolved, come what will, they will obey God rather than man: “Be it known unto thee, Oking, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up." 'O heroic, and generous faith! triumph
” O ing in the face of danger, yea, what was most likely, in the face of death! The king's command is executed; these three Dissenters are thrown in, and not only so, but the furnace is heated seven times hotter too! The enemies of God would burn his people in hell, if they could, yet the Lord doth preserve them safe in such burnings.
The other is that of Daniel himself, chap. vi. We have an account of a desperate plot that was on foot against Daniel, when he was advanced to a high place, being preferred above the presidents and princes, because “an excellent spirit was found in him.” They envy him and would gladly throw him out of place and favour, and they have their diabolical devices and cabals to bring this about. They first seek occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom, thinking to find some misdemeanor or irregular management of matters there; then they would have a plausible plea to endeavour his ejectment: but all their expectations are frustrated, forasmuch as he was conscientiously faithful, “neither was there any error or fault found in him." Their hopes being blasted this way, another project comes into their heads; for what will not the devil help his agents to do? They now despair of accomplishing their designs, unless they find occasion against him concerning the law of his God. This seeming to be the most likely expedient, they contrived, as one says, an act of uniformity, forbidding by an unalterable law, to ask a petition of any god or man, but of the king, for the space of thirty days, upon pain of death; no less penalty would serve them, designing to be rid of such a factious, obstinate fellow, as they accounted Daniel to be. This was agreed upon, according to the law of the Medes and Persians, which altereth not, so that there is no dispensing with it; now he that will dare to be disobedient must die for it. They thought that he who prayed so often, would not refrain seeking God for thirty days, and they were not mistaken; for though he knew that the writing was signed against him, yet he kneeled upon his knees, three times a day, and prayed and gave thanks to his God, as he did aforetime; as he did before, so he doth still, he keeps on his course, not baulking his devotion though his life was at stake. They watch him, and found him praying and making supplication to his God. They throw him into the den of lions according to their established law, yet the lions' mouths are stopped by an angel sent from God, and Daniel is as safe there as he was before. See hence how safe it is to be found waiting on God in a way of duty, not turning aside for fear of men, notwithstanding their big looks and swelling words. We should not decline duty, though the performance of it should be attended with hazard. Some, it may be, are ready to think that there is more danger in our day, Daniel's being an extraordinary case, and that now no such miracles are to be expected. It is true, that was a signal and extraordinary appearance of God in his providence, yet we have seen the point proved also, 3. From our own experience.
God is the same that he was formerly, and he has the wonted love for his people that he had heretofore ; his hand is not shortened that he cannot save; his wisdom is not yet nonplussed, and never shall be; omnipotence has not acted to the very uttermost. A variety of instances might be given, that show how God has been pleased to step in for the relief of his servants; how he has appeared in the mount of difficulty and extremity since old testament times, yea, in our day. Have not some of us seen a copy written after that original in the case of Daniel? It may be not so terrible, yet some can very well remember how the servants of God, who durst not sin against him, nor disown what they judged to be his will, have been thrown into dungeons and prisons, for acting ac
cording to their light; they were shut up in dismal cells of darkness, in years not long since past; though, by earnest prayer and diligent searching into those things, they endeavoured to
II. Wherefore holiness is the way of safety.
The Lord is with his people as long as they are with him. Of whom then should they be afraid that have such a one to protect them? If he be for them, who shall be against them ? ic The name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it and are safe,” Prov. xviii. 10. The great God, the God of the armies of Israel, is able to defend them, and he will do it; hence it is that he hath bid them not to be afraid : “ Fear not, O Jacob, though thou passest through the waters and through the fire, I will be with thee;" and his presence with any, surely doth bespeak their safety; none need question but that he will be as good as his word, for “he is faithful who hath promised." God's people are safe, so long as he reigns in heaven, and rules all their enemies, both in hell and on earth; though they may meet with storms and tempests, yet there is shelter for them in the chamber of his attributes. Infinite wisdom shall be at work to counsel and direct them. The Lord governs the world, and
orders all things by his providence, and will so dispose of matters, you may be sure, as shall not be to the real detriment of those that belong to him. The Lord will overmatch all his enemies, and make their oracles to speak but folly. His power also shall be employed to protect and defend his people, and whoever destroys them must ask God leave; he will baffle all the attempts of his enemies in his due time. All the malicious combinations of the hellish fraternity shall be frustrated; all their daring enterprizes shall be labour in vain; it is not possible that they should ever enervate omnipotence. God is greater than all, and none shall ever pluck his people out of his hand. The Lord hatb taken charge of them, he hath bound himself to them by promise, and rather than fail he will work wonders for them. His angels he employs for their safety; they are all “ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation ;-—and the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him." Though saints be the ob jects of hell's envy, and earth's malice, yet they are God's darlings, and angels' charge. The believer may argue from all God's relations to him. He is my God, my King, my Father, my Husband, therefore he will take care of me; this may
well bé the inference from such premises ; certainly believers may be well assured, that so long as God keeps the throne, so long they shall not want what may be for their good.
2. Because all harm shall turn to the saints' good.
5 And we know, that all things shall work together for good," &c. Rom. viii. 28: it is not some uncertain and improbable report, no, we know it; so the apostle saith elsewhere, “All is yours;" a large and comfortable word indeed, all, whatever they be, all afflictions, trials, adverse providences, shall end well; so that whatsoever a saint meets with, he will be no loser in the end. “ All things work together for good;" take a wicked man and all things are against him: but it is not so here, they work for good, not some only, but all, comforts and crosses, mercies and judgments. Some may think their troubles and persecutions will not, and are ready to say, can any good come out of these? yes, these also come into the number. In such times and by such means their corruptions are mortified, and their graces are brightened; their trouble will be introductive of their triumph. We are short-sighted creatures, we cannot oftentimes understand the design of divine providences, and therefore are prone to misinterpret them; when things go not as we would have them, we are ready to say, all these are against us, when God is intending us grcat spiritual advantage.
Thou dost not now see the reason of such sharp and severe