A SERMON BY JOHN WELSH
1 PETER 2:9
[AFTER speaking of a saving faith, gripping to mercy
in a Saviour, gripping to the blood of the second Person of the Trinity, even
God made flesh; and then believing all that is written in the law and the
prophets, and the Gospels, he goes on to say, Ye should be as the
apostle says, I endeavour for the hopes sake to serve God
always; that is, I rax out all the strength of my soul and heart
continually for the hope of that glory which shall one day be revealed.
And then he proceeds to speak of the believers privileges.]
The last thing is to tell you of your privileges. It is casten in by the apostle Peter for to comfort them to whom he writes this epistle. For after he has exhorted them to drink in the sincere milk of the Word, having laid aside all maliciousness, and guile, and dissimulation, and envy, and evil speaking; and after he has exhorted them to come to Christ, as unto a living stone, disallowed of the Jews but allowed of God and precious, to whom, to you only that believe, it is precious, but unto them that be disobedient, a stone to stumble at, and a rock of offence; lest they should be discouraged with this saying, therefore he brings in this to comfort them; and he says, But ye are a chosen generation, that is, a generation of mercy and grace; He not only wiled thyself out., but also thy seed, and therefore ye are a generation that is chosen and ordained to life, a royal priesthood; ye are all crowned kings and set at liberty, ye are not under the tyranny and slavery of the law.
Now ye are not under the slavery of that sentence, Do this, or else thou shalt die for evermore; Cursed is he that abides not in all things that are written in the law to do them. Ye are loosed now from under that bondage and misery of that terrible law, proclaimed with a terrible voice, out of a terrible fire, out of Mount Sinai; but now ye have a sweet voice out of Mount Zion, spoken out of the mouth of our own Husband and Lord. And what a voice is that, Believe, and thou shalt never perish; Come unto me, all that are wearied and heavy laden, and I will refresh you. So ye are kings loosed from the bonds of sin, and freed from the slavery of the devil, and from the curse of the law, and from the severity fire, that whenever anything in our heart ran wrong it was ready to devour us. A royal priesthood" ye are priests; so that not only may ye step into the sanctuary, and offer there with your own hand, and the sins of the people, but also ye are His priests, that may not only step into the holy of holies, but into highest heavens; not at set times, or once in the year but at all times every day; not with the blood of bullocks and goats, but with the precious blood of Jesus Christ, that immaculate Lamb, who has been slain from the beginning of the world, and takes away the sins of the world. So not only are ye priests, ye are high priests, who may step into heaven where Christ is, and there present not only yourselves, but every one of you may bear the twelve tribes of Israel upon your breast, and so present the whole bodies of all the members of Christ Jesus in thy arms before God, and intercede for them. Ye are a holy nation; that is, ye are the people of God, whom He appointed to be holy as He is holy, for without holiness no man can see God.
Now, what is the end of all this? That ye may show forth the virtues of Him that hath called you from darkness to His marvellous light. But what virtues have our calling, peace, joy, humility, patience, meekness, love, zeal, strength, and all the rest of the graces of the Spirit? For thou that believest in Christ, and hast Him in thy heart, thou hast all the graces of theSpirit with Him; therefore thou that hast them, bring them and show them to others, for it is not good to hide them.
Well, I see I must leave this, for I will not have time to go through it as I intended to do. Always for the present, to give you something to be thinking upon, ye shall remember that the privileges are of two sorts, the first care in this life, the next in the life to come, for thou that hast once believed hast as sure right to these privileges as the surest heir in the world has to his heritage. Now, what are the privileges in this life?
First, Thou art not only loved of God, chosen to eternal life redeemed by the blood of Jesus and ordained to eternal glory, but also thou hast this privelege, that thou mayst know it so, and this is more than allthe world is worth, that eating or drinking, waking or sleeping, going or sitting, or whatever thou be'st doing, thou mayest know assuredly that thou mayest say freely, I am beloved, I am chosen to eternal life, I am redeemed by the blood of Christ, called, justified, and shall be glorified. Now what comfort mayst thou have, who knowest this, that nothing can scrape thy name out of the book of life, when thou mayst say, I am the child of God, I am the brother of Jesus Christ, and I shall get a part of all my elder Brothers heritage; mayst thou not ease thy heart with these? What more hast thou in this life? The same which was spoken to Mary, Hail, freely beloved! God is with thee. This may be said to all that believe, and are beloved, and God aye with them, for God has a special care of thee. It is true God is called the Saviour of all the world; because of His providence He prevails therein, and by His power He governs them; but especially He is the Saviour of the elect, because He will let none of His sheep perish.
What more? I will honour them that honour me, says Christ, the true wisdom of God. To honour belongs properly to the children of God, and no man is honourable in the sight of God but His own children that honour Him. He will keep thee as the apple of His eye, for He thinks thee as dear to Him as any man thinks the apple of his eye dear to himself.
What more? If God be on our side, who can be against us? Who can lay anything to the charge of Gods elect? It is God that justifies us; who can condemn us? The Lord is my light and salvation; whom shall I fear? He is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Though a thousand fall at my right hand, and ten thousand at my left hand, yet it shall not come near me (Ps. xci. 7).
What more? Thou art His servant, and thou mayst come into the chamber of His presence when thou wilt; yea, thou art His friend, for He has told all His counsel to thee, and has lamed nothing from thee that lies in His own heart; therefore thou mayst go boldly and ask counsel of Him when anything troubles thee, seeing thou art His son. What can be beyond that? Yet I remember that of Isa. lvi. 5, says He, I will give a place and a name better than of sons and daughters (I will give them an everlasting name that will not be cut off). And what name is better? I will tell you the name of a wife is better than the name of a son; and thou art His wife, yea, thou art more than a wife, for thou art His flesh and His blood; and what is most of all, thou art His chief treasure.
But is this all? No. What more, then? Thou hast this privilege, that thou mayst believe God is bound (and therefore thou mayest ask boldly of God) to take away thy stony heart and to give thee a heart of flesh.What more, yet? Thou hast Christ not only to be thy wisdom, and redemption, and justification, but also to be thy sanctification. What more? When thou fallest, God hath given thee means to rise again; and if thou usest them, God hath promised a blessing to them.
What more? God hath given thee a right and interest to all these means, that thou mayst step to them when thou wilt: thou mayst hear the Word, receive the sacraments, thou mayst pray, thou mayst sing, thou mayst meditate, thou mayst confer upon the Word, and thou mayst use all the exercise of religion when thou wilt - yea, oftentimes God gives thee strength to use them all when you had little strength to thyself in the use of them.
What more? He can teach thee how thou shouldst behave thyself in whatsoever estate thou best in, whether in prosperity or in adversity. What more? If thou believest, thou mayst seek that thy rising may be like the rising of the sun, and thy departing may be as the going down thereof -and thou mayst pray that thou mayst get grace to grow from faith to faith, and from strength to strength, until thou appearest before the Lord in Zion, and so thou mayst ask grace upon grace to be poured out, and to be multiplied upon thee.
What more? Thou hast this privilege, that, as thou hast lived in the Lord, so thou shalt die in the Lord; then, after this life shall be ended, the angels shall carry thy soul, not into the bosom of Abraham, but into the bosom of Jesus Christ, and they shall keep the very mools of thy rotten carcase in the grave, or in whatsomever part of the earth, or of the sea, that, although they be scattered pickles, ten thousand miles sundry, yet they shall keep them there until the day of the resurrection; and then they shall gather them together, and, soul and body being conjoined together, thou shalt be caught up in the air with the Lord into the chamber, where thou shalt follow the Lamb wherever He goes; then thou shalt be a citizen of that new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, whose shining is as a most precious stone, as a jasper stone, clear as crystal; which has a great wall, and high; which has twelve gates, and at the twelve gates twelve angels, and the wall thereof has twelve foundations, and in them the names of the Lambs twelve apostles; and the building of the wall is of jasper, and the city is of pure gold, and garnished with precious stones; and the twelve gates are twelve pearls, and every several gate is of one pearl, and the streets of the city are of pure gold, clear as shining glass. And there is no temple therein, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple thereof; and the city has no need of the sun to shine in it, for the glory of the Lord does lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
And thou shalt walk in the light thereof, and the kings shall bring their honour and glory to it. And thou shalt drink of the pure water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. And you shall eat of the tree of life, which is on either side of the river, and bears twelve manner of fruits every month, whose leaves serve to heal the nations. And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and there thou shalt serve Him day and night, and thou shalt see His face continually, and His name shall be on thy forehead, and thou shalt reign for evermore.
These are the fair prerogatives and great privileges, therefore now I beseech you, my hearts, oftentimes to think on thir privileges, even of this life, for they shall transform thy soul into the glorious image of Jesus Christ, and they shall make thee partaker of the very Divine nature. Now I say no more, but the Lord give you faith to believe, and grace to apply all these things to yourself - that thereby ye may live the life of Christ your Lord, to whom, with the Father and the Spirit, be all praise, and honour, and glory, for now and ever.
(From the Appendix to "Scots Worthies" submitted by the Editor, Andrew Bonar, instead of the original Lives of the Murderers of the Covenanters)
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