Owen, Of Communion With God, File 16
    (... continued from File 15)

    Chapter 8. How the saints hold communion with Christ as to
               their acceptation with God - What is required on
               the part of Christ hereunto; in his intention; 
               in the declaration thereof - The sum of our 
               acceptation with God, wherein it consists - What 
               is required on the part of believers to this 
               communion, and how they hold it, with Christ - 
               Some objections proposed to consideration, why the 
               elect are not accepted immediately on the under-
               taking and the death of Christ - In what sense 
               they are so - Christ a common or public person - 
               How he came to be so - The way of our acceptation 
               with God on that account - The second objection -
               The necessity of our obedience stated, Eph. 2: 
               8-10 - The grounds, causes, and ends of it mani-
               fested - Its proper place in the new covenant - 
               How the saints, in particular, hold communion with 
               Christ in this purchased grace - They approve of
               this righteousness; the grounds thereof - Reject 
               their own; the grounds thereof - The commutation 
               of sin and righteousness between Christ and be-
               lievers; some objections answered. 

        I. Communion with Christ in purchased grace, as unto
    acceptation with God, from the obedience of his life and
    efficacy of his death, is the first thing we inquire into. The
    discovery of what on the part of Christ and what on our part
    is required thereunto (for our mutual acting, even his and
    ours, are necessary, that we may have fellowship and communion
    together herein), is that which herein I intend.
        First, On the part of Christ there is no more required but
    these two things: - (1.) That what he did, he did not for
    himself, but for us.
        (2.) What he suffered, he suffered not for himself, but
    for us. That is, that his intention from eternity, and when he
    was in the world, was, that all that he did and suffered was
    and should be for us and our advantage, as to our acceptance
    with God; that he still continueth making use of what he so
    did and suffered for that end and purpose, and that only. Now,
    this is most evident: -
        (1.) What he did, he did for us, and not for himself: "He
    was made under the law, that we might receive the adoption of
    sons," Gal. 4: 4, 5. He was made under the law; that is, in
    that condition that he was obnoxious to the will and commands
    of it. And why was this? to what end? for himself? No; but to
    redeem us is the aim of all that he did, - of all his
    obedience: and that he did. This very intention in what he did
    he acquaints us with, John 17: 19, "For their sakes I sanctify
    myself, that they may be sanctified through the truth." "I
    sanctify myself, - dedicate and set myself apart to all that
    work I have to do. I came not to do my own will; I came to
    save that which was lost; to minister, not to be ministered
    unto; and to give my life a ransom;" - it was the testimony he
    bare to all he did in the world. This intendment of his is
    especially to be eyed. From eternity he had thoughts of what
    he would do for us; and delighted himself therein. And when he
    was in the world, in all he went about, he had still this
    thought, "This is for them, and this is for them, - my
    beloved." When he went to be baptised, says John, "I have need
    to be baptised of thee, and comest thou to me?" Matt. 3: 14,
    15; as if he had said, "Thou hast no need at all of it." But
    says Christ, "Suffer it to be so, now; for thus it becometh us
    to fulfil all righteousness;" - "I do it for them who have
    none at all, and stand obliged unto all."
        (2.) In what he suffered. This is more clear, Dan. 9: 26,
    "Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself". And the
    apostle lays down this as a main difference between him and
    the high priests of the Jews, that when they made their solemn
    offerings, they offered first for themselves, and then for the
    people; but Jesus Christ offered only for others. He had no
    sin, and could make no sacrifice for his own sin, which he had
    not, but only for others. He "tasted death every man," Heb. 2:
    9, - "gave his life a ransom for many," Matt. 20: 28. The
    "iniquity of us all was made to meet on him," Isa. 53: 6; -
    "He bare our sins in his own body on the tree," 1 Pet. 2: 24;
    - "loved the church, and gave himself for it," Eph. 5: 25; Gal
    2: 20; Rom. 4: 25; Rev. 1: 5, 6; Tit. 2: 14; 1 Tim. 2: 6; Isa.
    53: 12; John 17: 19. But this is exceeding clear and
    confessed, that Christ in his suffering and oblation, had his
    intention only upon the good of his elect, and their
    acceptation with God; suffering for us, "the just for the
    unjust, that he might bring us to God."
        Secondly, To complete this communion on the part of
    Christ, it is required, -
        (1.) That there be added to what he has done, the gospel
    tenders of that complete righteousness and acceptation with
    God which ariseth from his perfect obedience and sufferings.
    Now, they are twofold: -
        [1.] Declaratory, in the conditional promises of the
    gospel. Mark 16: 15; Matt. 11: 28, "He that believeth shall be
    saved;" "Come unto me, and I will give you rest;" "As Moses
    lifted up the serpent," etc.; "Christ is the end of the law
    for righteousness to every one that believeth," Rom. 10: 4;
    and innumerable others. Now, declaratory tenders are very
    precious, there is much kindness in them, and if they be
    rejected, they will be the "savour of death unto death;" but
    the Lord Christ knows that the outward letter, though never so
    effectually held out, will not enable any of his for that
    reception of his righteousness which is necessary to interest
    them therein; wherefore, -
        [2.] In this tender of acceptation with God, on the
    account of what he has done and suffered, a law is
    established, that whosoever receives it shall be so accepted.
    But Christ knows the condition and state of his in this world.
    This will not do; if he do not effectually invest them with
    it, all is lost. Therefore, -
        (2.) He sends them his Holy Spirit, to quicken them, John
    6: 63, to cause them that are "dead to hear his voice," John
    5: 25; and to work in them whatever is required of them, to
    make them partakers of his righteousness and accepted with
        Thus does Christ deal with his: - he lives and dies with
    an intention to work out and complete righteousness for them;
    their enjoying of it, to a perfect acceptation before God, is
    all that in the one and other he aimed at. Then he tenders it
    unto them, declares the usefulness and preciousness of it to
    their souls, stirring them up to a desire and valuation of it;
    and lastly, effectually bestows it upon them, reckons it unto
    them as theirs, that they should by it, for it, with it, be
    perfectly accepted with his Father.
        Thus, for our acceptation with God, two things are
    required: -
        First, That satisfaction be made for our disobedience, -
    for whatever we had done which might damage the justice and
    honour of God; and that God be atoned towards us: which could
    no otherwise be, but by undergoing the penalty of the law.
    This, I have showed abundantly, is done by the death of
    Christ. God "made him to be sin for us," 2 Cor. 5: 21, - a
    "curse," Gal. 3: 13. On this account we have our absolution, -
    our acquitment from the guilt of sin, the sentence of the law,
    the wrath of God, Rom. 8: 33, 34. We are justified, acquitted,
    freed from condemnation, because it was Christ that died; "he
    bare our sins in his own body on the tree," 1 Pet. 2: 24.
        Second, That the righteousness of the law be fulfilled,
    and the obedience performed that is required at our hands. And
    this is done by the life of Christ, Rom. 5: 18, 19. So that
    answerable hereunto, according to our state and the condition
    of our acceptation with God, there are two parts: -
        Our absolution from the guilt of sin, that our
    disobedience be not charged upon us. This we have by the death
    of Christ; our sins being imputed to him, shall not be imputed
    to us, 2 Cor. 5: 21; Rom. 4: 25; Isa. 53: 12.
        Imputation of righteousness, that we may be accounted
    perfectly righteous before God; and this we have by the life
    of Christ. His righteousness in yielding obedience to the law
    is imputed to us. And thus is our acceptation with God
    completed. Being discharged from the guilt of our disobedience
    by the death of Christ, and having the righteousness of the
    life of Christ imputed to us, we have friendship and peace
    with God. And this is that which I call our grace of
    acceptation with God, wherein we have communion with Jesus
        That which remains for me to do, is to show how believers
    hold distinct communion with Christ in this grace of
    acceptation, and how thereby they keep alive a sense of it, -
    the comfort and life of it being to be renewed every day.
    Without this, life is a hell; no peace, no joy can we be made
    partakers of, but what has its rise from hence. Look what
    grounded persuasion we have of our acceptation with God, that
    he is at peace with us; whereunto is the revenue of our peace,
    comfort, joy, yea, and holiness itself, proportioned.
        But yet, before I come in particular to handle our
    practical communion with the Lord Jesus in this thing, I must
    remove two considerable objections; - the one of them lying
    against the first part of our acceptation with God, the other
    against the latter.
        Objection 1. For our absolution by and upon the death of
    Christ, it may be said, that "if the elect have their
    absolution, reconciliation, and freedom by the death, blood,
    and cross of Christ, whence is it, then, that they were not
    all actually absolved at the death of Christ, or at least so
    soon as they are born, but that many of them live a long while
    under the wrath of God in this world, as being unbelievers,
    under the sentence and condemning power of the law? John 3:
    36. Why are they not immediately freed, upon the payment of
    the price and making reconciliation for them?"
        Obj. 2. "If the obedience of the life of Christ be imputed
    unto us, and that is our righteousness before God, then what
    need we yield any obedience ourselves? Is not all our praying,
    labouring, watching, fasting, giving alms, - are not all
    fruits of holiness, in purity of heart and usefulness of
    conversation, all in vain and to no purpose? And who, then,
    will or need take care to be holy, humble, righteous, meek,
    temperate, patient, good, peaceable, or to abound in good
    works in the world?"
        1. I shall, God assisting, briefly remove these two
    objections, and then proceed to carry on the design in hand,
    about our communion with Christ: -
        (1.) Jesus Christ, in his undertaking of the work of our
    reconciliation with God, - for which cause he came into the
    world, - and the accomplishment of it by his death, was
    constituted and considered as a common, public person, in the
    stead of them for whose reconciliation to God he suffered.
    Hence he is the "mediator between God and man," 1 Tim. 2: 5, -
    that is, one who undertook to God for us, as the next words
    manifest, verse 6, "Who gave himself a ransom for all," - and
    the "surety of the better covenant," Heb. 7: 22; undertaking
    for and on the behalf of them with whom that covenant was
    made. Hence he is said to be given "for a covenant of the
    people," Isa. 42: 6; and a "leader," 55: 4. He was the second
    Adam, 1 Cor. 15: 45, 47, to all ends and purposes of
    righteousness, to his spiritual seed, as the first Adam was of
    sin to his natural seed, Rom. 5: 15-19.
        (2.) His being thus a common person, arose chiefly from
    these things: -
        [1.] In general, from the covenant entered into by himself
    with his Father to this purpose. The terms of this covenant
    are at large insisted on, Isa. 53, summed up, Ps. 40: 7, 8;
    Heb. 10: 8-10. Hence the Father became to be his God; which is
    a covenant expression, Ps. 89: 26; Heb. 1: 5; Ps. 22: 1, 40:
    8, 45: 7; Rev. 3: 12; Mic. 5: 4. So was he by his Father on
    this account designed to this work, Isa. 42: 1, 6, 49: 9; Mal.
    3: 1; Zech. 13: 7; John 3: 16; 1 Tim. 1: 15. Thus the "counsel
    of peace" became to be "between them both," Zech. 6: 13; that
    is, the Father and Son. And the Son rejoices from eternity in
    the thought of this undertaking, Prov. 8: 22-30. The command
    given him to this purpose, the promises made to him thereon,
    the assistance afforded to him, I have elsewhere handled.
        [2.] In the sovereign grant, appointment, and design of
    the Father, giving and delivering the elect to Jesus Christ in
    this covenant, to be redeemed and reconciled to himself. John
    17: 6, "Thine they were, and thou gavest them me." They were
    God's by eternal designation and election, and he gave them to
    Christ to be redeemed. Hence, before their calling or
    believing, he calls them his "sheep," John 10: 15, 16, laying
    down his life for them as such; and hence are we said to be
    "chosen in Christ," Eph. 1: 4, or designed to obtain all the
    fruits of the love of God by Christ, and committed into his
    hand for that end and purpose.
        [3.] In his undertaking to suffer what was due to them,
    and to do what was to be done by them, that they might be
    delivered, reconciled, and accepted with God. And he
    undertakes to give in to the Father, without loss or
    miscarriage, what he had so received of the Father as above,
    John 17: 2, 12, 6: 37, 39; as Jacob did the cattle he received
    of Lab an, Gen. 31: 39, 40. Of both these I have treated
    somewhat at large elsewhere, in handling the covenant between
    the Father and the Son; so that I shall not need to take it up
    here again.
        [4.] They being given unto him, he undertaking for them to
    do and suffer what was on their part required, he received, on
    their behalf and for them, all the promises of all the
    mercies, grace, good things, and privileges, which they were
    to receive upon the account of his undertaking for them. On
    this account eternal life is said to be promised of God
    "before the world began," Tit. 1: 2; that is, to the Son of
    God for us, on his undertaking on our behalf. And grace, also,
    is said to be given unto us "before the world began," 2 Tim.
    1: 9; that is, in Christ, our appointed head, mediator, and
        [5.] Christ being thus a common person, a mediator,
    surety, and representative, of his church, upon his
    undertaking, as to efficacy and merit, and upon his actual
    performance, as to solemn (declaration, was as such acquitted,
    absolved, justified, and freed, from all and every thing that,
    on the behalf of the elect, as due to them, was charged upon
    him, or could so be; I say, as to all the efficacy and merit
    of his undertakings, he was immediately absolved upon his
    faithfulness, in his first engagement: and thereby all the
    saints of the Old Testament were saved by his blood no less
    than we. As to solemn declaration, he was so absolved when,
    the "pains of death being loosed", he was "declared to be the
    Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead;"
    Rom. 1: 4, God saying to him, "Thou art my Son; this day have
    I begotten thee," Ps. 2: 7. And this his absolution does
    Christ express his confidence of, Isa. 1. 5-9. And he was
    "justified," 1 Tim. 3: 16. That which I intend by this
    absolution of Christ as a public person is this: - God having
    made him under the law, for them who were so, Gal. 4: 4; in
    their stead, obnoxious to the punishment due to sin, made him
    sin, 2 Cor. 5: 21; and so gave justice, and law, and all the
    consequent of the curse thereof, power against him, Isa. 53:
    6; - upon his undergoing of that which was required of him,
    verse 12, God looses the pains and power of death, accepts
    him, and is well pleased with him, as to the performance and
    discharge of his work, John 17: 3-6; pronounceth him free from
    the obligation that was on him, Acts 13; and gave him a
    promise of all good things he aimed at, and which his soul
    desired. Hereon are all the promises of God made to Christ,
    and their accomplishment, - all the encouragements given him
    to ask and make demand of the things originally engaged for to
    him, Ps. 2: 8, (which he did accordingly, John 17), - founded
    and built. And here lies the certain, stable foundation of our
    absolution, and acceptation with God. Christ in our stead,
    acting for us as our surety, being acquitted, absolved,
    solemnly declared to have answered the whole debt that was
    incumbent on him to pay, and made satisfaction for all the
    injury we had done, a general pardon is sealed for us all, to
    be sued out particularly in the way to be appointed. For, -
        [6.] Christ as a public person being thus absolved, it
    became righteous with God, a righteous thing, from the
    covenant, compact, and convention, that was between him and
    the mediator, that those in whose stead he was, should obtain,
    and have bestowed on them, all the fruits of his death, in
    reconciliation with God, Rom. 5: 8-11; that as Christ received
    the general acquittance for them all, so they should every one
    of them enjoy it respectively. This is everywhere manifested
    in those expressions which express a commutation designed by
    God in this matter; as 2 Cor. 5: 21; Gal. 3: 13; 1 Pet. 2: 21,
    24; - of which afterward.
        [7.] Being thus acquitted in the covenant of the Mediator
    (whence they are said to be circumcised with him, to die with
    him, to be buried with him, to rise with him, to sit with him
    in heavenly places, - namely, in the covenant of the
    Mediator), and it being righteous that they should be
    acquitted personally in the covenant of grace, it was
    determined by Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that the way of
    their actual personal deliverance from the sentence and curse
    of the law should be in and by such a way and dispensation as
    might lead to the praise of the glorious grace of God, Eph 1:
    5-7. The appointment of God is, that we shall have the
    adoption of children. The means of it, is by Jesus Christ; the
    peculiar way of bringing it about, is by the redemption that
    is in his blood; the end, is the praise of his glorious grace.
    And thence it is, -
        [8.] That until the full time of their actual deliverance,
    determined and appointed to them in their several generations,
    be accomplished, they are personally under the curse of the
    law; and, on that account, are legally obnoxious to the wrath
    of God, from which they shall certainly be delivered; - I say,
    they are thus personally obnoxious to the law, and the curse
    thereof; but not at all with its primitive intention of
    execution upon them, but as it is a means appointed to help
    forward their acquaintance with Christ, and acceptance with
    God, on his account. When this is accomplished, that whole
    obligation ceases, being continued on them in a design of
    love; their last condition being such as that they cannot
    without it be brought to a participation of Christ, to the
    praise of the glorious grace of God.
        [9.] The end of the dispensation of grace being to glorify
    the whole Trinity, the order fixed on and appointed wherein
    this is to be done, is, by ascending to the Father's love
    through the work of the Spirit and blood of the Son. The
    emanation of divine love to us begins with the Father, is
    carried on by the Son, and then communicated by the Spirit;
    the Father designing, the Son purchasing, the Spirit
    effectually working: which is their order. Our participation
    is first by the work of the Spirit, to an actual interest in
    the blood of the Son; whence we have acceptation with the
        This, then, is the order whereby we are brought to
    acceptation with the Father, for the glory of God through
    Christ: -
        1st. That the Spirit may be glorified, he is given unto
    us, to quicken us, convert us, work faith in us, Rom. 8: 11;
    Eph. 1: 19, 20; according to all the promises of the covenant,
    Isa. 4: 4, 5; Ezek. 11: 19, 36: 26.
        2dly. This being wrought in us, for the glory of the Son,
    we are actually interested, according to the tenor of the
    covenant, at the same instant of time, in the blood of Christ,
    as to the benefits which he has procured for us thereby; yea,
    this very work of the Spirit itself is a fruit and part of the
    purchase of Christ. But we speak of our sense of this thing,
    whereunto the communication of the Spirit is antecedent. And,
        3dly. To the glory of the Father, we are accepted with
    him, justified, freed from guilt, pardoned, and have "peace
    with God," Rom. 5: 1. Thus, "through Christ we have access by
    one Spirit unto the Father," Eph. 2: 17. And thus are both
    Father and Son and the Holy Spirit glorified in our
    justification and acceptation with God; the Father in his free
    love, the Son in his full purchase, and the holy Spirit in his
    effectual working.
        [10.] All this, in all the parts of it, is no less fully
    procured for us, nor less freely bestowed on us, for Christ's
    sake, on his account, as part of his purchase and merits, than
    if all of us immediately upon his death, had been translated
    into heaven; only this way of our deliverance and freedom is
    fixed on, that the whole Trinity may be glorified thereby. And
    this may suffice in answer to the first objection. Though our
    reconciliation with God be fully and completely procured by
    the death of Christ, and all the ways and means whereby it is
    accomplished; yet we are brought unto an actual enjoyment
    thereof, by the way and in the order mentioned, for the praise
    of the glorious grace of God.
        2. The second objection is, "That if the righteousness and
    obedience of Christ to the law be imputed unto us, then what
    need we yield obedience ourselves?" To this, also, I shall
    return answer as briefly as I can in the ensuing observations:
        (1.) The placing of our gospel obedience on the right foot
    of account (that it may neither be exalted into a state,
    condition, use, or end, not given it of God; nor any reason,
    cause, motive, end, necessity of it, on the other hand, taken
    away, weakened, or impaired), is a matter of great importance.
    Some make our obedience, the works of faith, our works, the
    matter or cause of our justification; some, the condition of
    the imputation of the righteousness of Christ; some, the
    qualification of the person justified, on the one hand; some
    exclude all the necessity of them, and turn the grace of God
    into lasciviousness, on the other. To debate these differences
    is not my present business; only, I say, on this and other
    accounts, the right stating of our obedience is of great
    importance as to our walking with God.
        (2.) We do by no means assign the same place, condition,
    state, and use to the obedience of Christ imputed to us, and
    our obedience performed to God. If we did, they were really
    inconsistent. And therefore those who affirm that our
    obedience is the condition or cause of our justification, do
    all of them deny the imputation of the obedience of Christ
    unto us. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, as that
    on the account whereof we are accepted and esteemed righteous
    before God, and are really so, though not inherently. We are
    as truly righteous with the obedience of Christ imputed to us
    as Adam was, or could have been, by a complete righteousness
    of his own performance. So Rom. 5: 18, by his obedience we are
    made righteous, - made so truly, and so accepted; as by the
    disobedience of Adam we are truly made trespassers, and so
    accounted. And this is that which the apostle desires to be
    found in, in opposition to his own righteousness, Phil 3: 9.
    But our own obedience is not the righteousness whereupon we
    are accepted and justified before God; although it be
    acceptable to God that we should abound therein. And this
    distinction the apostle does evidently deliver and confirm, so
    as nothing can be more clearly revealed: Eph. 2: 8-10, "For by
    grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves:
    it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should
    boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus
    unto good works, which God has prepared that we should walk in
    them." We are saved, or justified (for that it is whereof the
    apostle treats), "by grace through faith," which receives
    Jesus Christ and his obedience; "not of works, lest any man
    should boast." "But what works are they that the apostle
    intends?" The works of believers, as in the very beginning of
    the next words is manifest: "'For we are,' we believers, with
    our obedience and our works, of whom I speak." "Yea; but what
    need, then, of works?" Need still there is: "We are his
    workmanship," etc.
        Two things the apostle intimates in these words: -
        [1.] A reason why we cannot be saved by works, - namely,
    because we do them not in or by our own strength; which is
    necessary we should do, if we will be saved by them, or
    justified by them. "But this is not so," saith the apostle;
    "for we are the workmanship of God," etc.; - all our works are
    wrought in us, by full and effectual undeserved grace.
        [2.] An assertion of the necessity of good works,
    notwithstanding that we are not saved by them; and that is,
    that God has ordained that we shall walk in them: which is a
    sufficient ground of our obedience, whatever be the use of it.
        If you will say then, "What are the true and proper gospel
    grounds, reasons, uses, and motives of our obedience; whence
    the necessity thereof may be demonstrated, and our souls be
    stirred up to abound and be fruitful therein?" I say, they are
    so many, and lie so deep in the mystery of the gospel and
    dispensation of grace, spread themselves so throughout the
    whole revelation of the will of God unto us, that to handle
    them fully and distinctly, and to give them their due weight,
    is a thing that I cannot engage in, lest I should be turned
    aside from what I principally intend. I shall only give you
    some brief heads of what might at large be insisted on: -
        1st. Our universal obedience and good works are
    indispensably necessary, from the sovereign appointment and
    will of God; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
        In general "This is the will of God, even your
    sanctification," or holiness, 1 Thess. 4: 3. This is that
    which God wills, which he requires of us, - that we be holy,
    that we be obedient, that we do his will as the angels do in
    heaven. The equity, necessity, profit, and advantage of this
    ground of our obedience might at large be insisted on; and,
    were there no more, this might suffice alone, - if it be the
    will of God, it is our duty: -
        (1st.) The Father has ordained or appointed it. It is the
    will of the Father, Eph 2: 10. The Father is spoken of
    personally, Christ being mentioned as mediator.
        (2dly.) The Son has ordained and appointed it as mediator.
    John 15: 16, "'I have ordained you, that ye should bring forth
    fruit' of obedience, and that it should remain." And, -
        (3dly.) The holy Ghost appoints and ordains believers to
    works of obedience and holiness, and to work holiness in
    others. So, in particular, Acts 13: 2, he appoints and designs
    men to the great work of obedience in preaching the gospel.
    And in sinning, men sin against him.
        2dly. Our holiness, our obedience, work of righteousness,
    is one eminent and especial end of the peculiar dispensation
    of Father, Son, and Spirit, in the business of exalting the
    glory of God in our salvation, - of the electing love of the
    Father, the purchasing love of the Son, and the operative love
    of the Spirit: -
        (1st.) It is a peculiar end of the electing love of the
    Father, Eph 1: 4, "He has chosen us, that we should be holy
    and without blame." So Isa. 4: 3, 4. His aim and design in
    choosing of us was, that we should be holy and unblamable
    before him in love. This he is to accomplish, and will bring
    about in them that are his. "He chooses us to salvation,
    through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the
    truth," 2 Thess. 2: 13. This the Father designed as the first
    and immediate end of electing love; and proposes the
    consideration of that love as a motive to holiness, 1 John 4:
        (2dly.) It is so also of the exceeding love of the Son;
    whereof the testimonies are innumerable. I shall give but one
    or two: - Tit. 2: 14, "Who gave himself for us, that he might
    redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a
    peculiar people, zealous of good works." This was his aim, his
    design, in giving himself for us; as Eph. 5: 25-27, "Christ
    loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might
    sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word;
    that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not
    having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should
    be holy, and without blemish" 2 Cor. 5: 15; Rom. 6: 11.
        (3dly.) It is the very work of the love of the Holy Ghost.
    His whole work upon us, in us, for us, consists in preparing
    of us for obedience; enabling of us thereunto, and bringing
    forth the fruits of it in us. And this he does in opposition
    to a righteousness of our own, either before it or to be made
    up by it, Tit. 3: 5. I need not insist on this. The fruits of
    the Spirit in us are known, Gal. 5: 22, 23.
        And thus have we a twofold bottom of the necessity of our
    obedience and personal holiness: - God has appointed it, he
    requires it; and it is an eminent immediate end of the
    distinct dispensation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the
    work of our salvation. If God's sovereignty over us is to be
    owned, if his love towards us be to be regarded, if the whole
    work of the ever-blessed Trinity, for us, in us, be of any
    moment, our obedience is necessary.
        3dly. It is necessary in respect of the end thereof; and
    that whether you consider God, ourselves, or the world: -
        (1st.) The end of our obedience, in respect of God, is,
    his glory and honour, Mal. 1: 6. This is God's honour, - all
    that we give him. It is true, he will take his honour from the
    stoutest and proudest rebel in the world; but all we give him
    is in our obedience. The glorifying of God by our obedience is
    all that we are or can be. Particularly, -
        [1st.] It is the glory of the Father. Matt. 5: 16, "Let
    your light so shine before men, that they may see your good
    works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." By our
    walking in the light of faith does glory arise to the Father.
    The fruits of his love, of his grace, of his kindness, are
    seen upon us; and God is glorified in our behalf. And, -
        [2dly.] The Son is gloried thereby. It is the will of God
    that as all men honour the Father, so should they honour the
    Son, John 5: 23. And how is this done? By believing in him,
    John 14: l; obeying of him. Hence, John 17: 10, he says he is
    glorified in believers; and prays for an increase of grace and
    union for them, that he may yet be more glorified, and all
    might know that, as mediator, he was sent of God.
        [3dly.] The Spirit is gloried also by it. He is grieved by
    our disobedience, Eph. 4: 30; and therefore his glory is in
    our bringing forth fruit. He dwells in us, as in his temple;
    which is not to be defiled. Holiness becometh his habitation
    for ever.
        Now, if this that has been said be not sufficient to
    evince a necessity of our obedience, we must suppose ourselves
    to speak with a sort of men who regard neither the
    sovereignty, nor love, nor glory of God, Father, Son, or Holy
    Ghost. Let men say what they please, though our obedience
    should be all lost, and never regarded (which is impossible,
    for God is not unjust, to forget our labour of love), yet here
    is a sufficient bottom, ground, and reason of yielding more
    obedience unto God than ever we shall do whilst we live in
    this world. I speak also only of gospel grounds of obedience,
    and not of those that are natural and legal, which are
    indispensable to all mankind.
        (2dly.) The end in respect of ourselves immediately is
    threefold: - [1st.] Honour. [2dly.] Peace. [3dly.] Usefulness.
        [1st.] Honour. It is by holiness that we are made like
    unto God, and his image is renewed again in us. This was our
    honour at our creation, this exalted us above all our
    fellow-creatures here below, - we were made in the image of
    God. This we lost by sin, and became like the beasts that
    perish. To this honour, of conformity to God, of bearing his
    image, are we exalted again by holiness alone. "Be ye holy,"
    says God, "for I am holy," 1 Pet. 1: 16; and, "Be ye perfect"
    (that is, in doing good), "even as your Father which is in
    heaven is perfect," Matt. 5: 48, - in a likeness and
    conformity to him. And herein is the image of God renewed;
    Eph. 4: 23, 24, therein we "put on the new man, which after
    God is created in righteousness and holiness of truth." This
    was that which originally was attended with power and
    dominion; - is still all that is beautiful or comely in the
    world. How it makes men honourable and precious in the sight
    of God, of angels, of men; how alone it is that which is not
    despised, which is of price before the Lord; what contempt and
    scorn he has of them in whom it is not, - in what abomination
    he has them and all their ways, - might easily be evinced.
        [2dly.] Peace. By it we have communion with God, wherein
    peace alone is to be enjoyed. "The wicked are like the
    troubled sea, that cannot rest;" and, "There is no peace" to
    them, "saith my God," Isa. 57: 20; 2]. There is no peace,
    rest, or quietness, in a distance, separation, or alienation
    from God. He is the rest of our souls. In the light of his
    countenance is life and peace. Now, "if we walk in the light,
    as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another," 1
    John 1: 7; "and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and
    with his Son Jesus Christ," verse 3. He that walks in the
    light of new obedience, he has communion with God, and in his
    presence is fulness of joy for ever; without it, there is
    nothing but darkness, and wandering, and confusion.
        [3dly.] Usefulness. A man without holiness is good for
    nothing. "Ephraim," says the prophet, "is an empty vine, that
    brings forth fruit to itself" And what is such a vine good
    for? Nothing. Saith another prophet, "A man cannot make so
    much as a pin of it, to hang a vessel on." A barren tree is
    good for nothing, but to be cut down for the fire.
    Notwithstanding the seeming usefulness of men who serve the
    providence of God in their generations, I could easily
    manifest that the world and the church might want them, and
    that, indeed, in themselves they are good for nothing. Only
    the holy man is commune bonum.
        (3dly.) The end of it in respect of others in the world is
    manifold: -
        [1st.] It serves to the conviction and stopping the mouths
    of some of the enemies of God, both here and hereafter: - 1.
    Here. 1 Pet. 3: 16, "Having a good conscience; that, wherein
    they speak evil of you, as of evil-doers, they may be ashamed
    that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ." By our
    keeping of a good conscience men will be made ashamed of their
    false accusations; that whereas their malice and hatred of the
    ways of God has provoked them to speak all manner of evil of
    the profession of them, by the holiness and righteousness of
    the saints, they are convinced and made ashamed, as a thief is
    when he is taken, and be driven to acknowledge that God is
    amongst them, and that they are wicked themselves, John 17:
    23. 2. Hereafter. It is said that the saints shall judge the
    world. It is on this, as well as upon other considerations:
    their good works, their righteousness, their holiness, shall
    be brought forth, and manifested to all the world; and the
    righteousness of God's judgements against wicked men be thence
    evinced. "See," says Christ, "these are they that I own, whom
    you so despised and abhorred; and see their works following
    them: this and that they have done, when you wallowed in your
    abominations," Matt. 25: 42, 43.
        [2dly.] The conversion of others. 1 Pet. 2: 12, "Having
    your conversation honest among the Gentiles; that, wherein
    they speak against you as evil-doers, they may, by your good
    works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of
    visitation," Matt. 5: 16. Even revilers, persecutors,
    evil-speakers, have been overcome by the constant holy walking
    of professors; and when their day of visitation has come, have
    glorified God on that account, 1 Pet. 3: 1, 2.
        [3dly.] The benefit of all; partly in keeping off
    judgements from the residue of men, as ten good men would have
    preserved Sodom: partly by their real communication of good to
    them with whom they have to do in their generation. Holiness
    makes a man a good man, useful to all; and others eat of the
    fruits of the Spirit that he brings forth continually.
        [4thly.] It is necessary in respect of the state and
    condition of justified persons; and that whether you consider
    their relative state of acceptation, or their state of
    sanctification: -
        First. They are accepted and received into friendship with
    a holy God, - a God of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, -
    who hates every unclean thing. And is it not necessary that
    they should be holy who are admitted into his presence, walk
    in his sight, - yea, lie in his bosom? Should they not with
    all diligence cleanse themselves from all pollution of flesh
    and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord?
        Secondly. In respect of sanctification. We have in us a
    new creature, 2 Cor. 5: 17. This new creature is fed,
    cherished, nourished, kept alive, by the fruits of holiness.
    To what end has God given us new hearts, and new natures? Is
    it that we should kill them? stifle the creature that is found
    in us in the womb? that we should give him to the old man to
    be devoured?
        [5thly.] It is necessary in respect of the proper place of
    holiness in the new covenant; and that is twofold: -
        First. Of the means unto the end. God has appointed that
    holiness shall be the means, the way to that eternal life,
    which, as in itself and originally [it] is his gift by Jesus
    Christ, so, with regard to his constitution of our obedience,
    as the means of attaining it, [it] is a reward, and God in
    bestowing of it a rewarder. Though it be neither the cause,
    matter, nor condition of our justification, yet it is the way
    appointed of God for us to walk in for the obtaining of
    salvation. And therefore, he that has hope of eternal life
    purifies himself, as he is pure: and none shall ever come to
    that end who walketh not in that way; for without holiness it
    is impossible to see God.
        Secondly. It is a testimony and pledge of adoption, - a
    sign and evidence of grace; that is, of acceptation with God.
    And, -
        Thirdly. The whole expression of our thankfulness.
        Now, there is not one of all these causes and reasons of
    the necessity, the indispensable necessity of our obedience,
    good works, and personal righteousness, but would require a
    more large discourse to unfold and explain than I have
    allotted to the proposal of them all; and innumerable others
    there are of the same import, that I cannot name. He that upon
    these accounts does not think universal holiness and obedience
    to be of indispensable necessity, unless also it be exalted
    into the room of the obedience and righteousness of Christ,
    let him be filthy still.
        These objections being removed, and having, at the
    entrance of this chapter, declared what is done on the part of
    Christ, as to our fellowship with him in this purchased grace,
    as to our acceptation with God, it remains that I now show
    what also is required and performed on our part for the
    completing thereof. This, then, consists in the ensuing
    particulars: -
        1. The saints cordially approve of this righteousness, as
    that alone which is absolutely complete, and able to make them
    acceptable before God. And this supposeth six things: -
        (1.) Their clear and full conviction of the necessity of a
    righteousness wherewith to appear before God. This is always
    in their thoughts; this in their whole lives they take for
    granted. Many men spend their days in obstinacy and hardness,
    adding drunkenness unto thirst, never once inquiring what
    their condition shall be when they enter into eternity; others
    trifle away their time and their souls, sowing the wind of
    empty hopes, and preparing to reap a whirlwind of wrath; but
    this lies at the bottom of all the saints' communion with
    Christ, - a deep, fixed, resolved persuasion of an absolute
    and indispensable necessity of a righteousness wherewith to
    appear before God. The holiness of God's nature, the
    righteousness of his government, the severity of his law, the
    terror of his wrath, are always before them. They have been
    all convinced of sin, and have looked on themselves as ready
    to sink under the vengeance due to it. They have all cried,
    "Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?" "Wherewith
    shall we come before God?" and have all concluded, that it is
    in vain to flatter themselves with hopes of escaping as they
    are by nature. If God be holy and righteous, and of purer eyes
    than to behold iniquity, they must have a righteousness to
    stand before him; and they know what will be the cry one day
    of those who now bear up themselves, as if they were otherwise
    minded, Isa. 53: 1-5; Mic. 6: 6, 7.
        (2.) They weigh their own righteousness in the balance,
    and find it wanting; and this two ways: -
        [1.] In general, and upon the whole of the matter, at
    their first setting themselves before God. When men are
    convinced of the necessity of a righteousness, they catch at
    every thing that presents itself to them for relief. Like men
    ready to sink in deep waters, [they] catch at that which is
    next, to save them from drowning; which sometimes proves a
    rotten stick, that sinks with them. So did the Jews, Rom. 9:
    31, 32; they caught hold of the law, and it would not relieve
    them; and how they perished with it the apostle declares,
    chap. 10: 1-4. The law put them upon setting up a
    righteousness of their own. This kept them doing, and in hope;
    but kept them from submitting to the righteousness of God.
    Here many perish, and never get one step nearer God all their
    days. This the saints renounce; they have no confidence in the
    flesh: they know that all they can do, all that the law can
    do, which is weak through the flesh, will not avail them. See
    what judgement Paul makes of all a man's own righteousness,
    Phil 3: 8-10. This they bear in their minds daily, this they
    fill their thoughts withal, that upon the account of what they
    have done, can do, ever shall do, they cannot be accepted with
    God, or justified thereby. This keeps their souls humble, full
    of a sense of their own vileness, all their days.
        [2.] In particular. They daily weigh all their particular
    actions in the balance, and find them wanting, as to any such
    completeness as, upon their own account, to be accepted with
    God. "Oh!" says a saint, "if I had nothing to commend me unto
    God but this prayer, this duty, this conquest of a temptation,
    wherein I myself see so many failings, so much imperfection,
    could I appear with any boldness before him? Shall I, then,
    piece up a garment of righteousness out of my best duties? Ah!
    it is all as a defiled cloth," Isa. 64: 6. These thoughts
    accompany them in all their duties, in their best and most
    choice performances: - "Lord, what am I in my best estate? How
    little suitableness unto thy holiness is in my best duties! O
    spare me, in reference to the best thing that ever I did in my
    life!" Neh. 13: 22. When a man who lives upon convictions has
    got some enlargements in duties, some conquest over a sin or
    temptation, he hugs himself, like Micah when he had got a
    Levite to be his priest: now surely it shall be well with him,
    now God will bless him: his heart is now at ease; he has peace
    in what he has done. But he who has communion with Christ,
    when he is highest in duties of sanctification and holiness,
    is clearest in the apprehension of his own unprofitableness,
    and rejects every thought that might arise in his heart of
    setting his peace in them, or upon them. He says to his soul,
    "Do these things seem something to thee? Alas! thou hast to do
    with an infinitely righteous God, who looks through and
    through all that vanity, which thou art but little acquainted
    withal; and should he deal with thee according to thy best
    works, thou must perish."
        (3.) They approve of, value, and rejoice in, this
    righteousness, for their acceptation, which the Lord Jesus has
    wrought out and provided for them; this being discovered to
    them, they approve of it with all their hearts, and rest in
    it. Isa. 45: 24, "Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I
    righteousness and strength." This is their voice and language,
    when once the righteousness of God in Christ is made known
    unto them: "Here is righteousness indeed; here have I rest for
    my soul. Like the merchant man in the gospel (Matt. 13: 45,
    46) that finds the pearl of price, I had been searching up and
    down; I looked this and that way for help, but it was far
    away; I spent my strength for that which was not bread: here
    is that, indeed, which makes me rich for ever!" When first the
    righteousness of Christ, for acceptation with God, is revealed
    to a poor labouring soul, that has fought for rest and has
    found none, he is surprised and amazed, and is not able to
    contain himself: and such a one always in his heart approves
    this righteousness on a twofold account: -
        [1.] As full of infinite wisdom. "Unto them that believe,"
    saith the apostle, "Christ crucified is 'the wisdom of God,'"
    1 Cor. 1: 24. They see infinite wisdom in this way of their
    acceptation with God. "In what darkness," says such a one, "in
    what straits, in what entanglements, was my poor soul! How
    little able was I to look through the clouds and perplexities
    wherewith I was encompassed! I looked inwards, and there was
    nothing but sin, horror, fear, tremblings; I looked upwards,
    and saw nothing but wrath, curses, and vengeance. I knew that
    God was a holy and righteous God, and that no unclean thing
    could abide before him; I knew that I was a poor, vile,
    unclean, and sinful creature; and how to bring these two
    together in peace, I knew not. But in the righteousness of
    Christ does a world of wisdom open itself, dispelling all
    difficulties and darkness, and manifesting a reconciliation of
    all this." "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and
    knowledge of God!" Rom. 11: 33; Col. 2: 3. But of this before.
        [2.] As full of grace. He knows that sin had shut up the
    whole way of grace towards him; and whereas God aims at
    nothing so much as the manifestation of his grace, he was
    utterly cut short of it. Now, to have a complete righteousness
    provided, and yet abundance of grace manifested, exceedingly
    delights the soul; - to have God's dealing with his person all
    grace, and dealing with his righteousness all justice, takes
    up his thoughts. God everywhere assures us that this
    righteousness is of grace. It is "by grace, and no more of
    works," Rom 11: 6, as the apostle at large sets it out, Eph.
    2: 7-9. It is from riches of grace and kindness that the
    provision of this righteousness is made. It is of mere grace
    that it is bestowed on us, it is not at all of works; though
    it be in itself a righteousness of works, yet to us it is of
    mere grace. So Tit. 3: 4-7, "But after that the kindness and
    love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of
    righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy
    he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of
    the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus
    Christ our Saviour, that being justified by his grace, we
    should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."
    The rise of all this dispensation is kindness and love; that
    is, grace, verse 4. The way of communication, negatively, is
    not by works of righteousness that we have done; - positively,
    by the communication of the Holy Ghost, verse 5; the means of
    whose procurement is Jesus Christ, verse 6; - and the work
    itself is by grace, verse 7. Here is use made of every word
    almost, whereby the exceeding rich grace, kindness, mercy, and
    goodness of God may be expressed, all concurring in this work.
    As: 1. "Chrestotes", - his goodness, benignity, readiness to
    communicate of himself and his good things that may be
    profitable to us. 2. "Filantropia", - mercy, love, and
    propensity of mind to help, assist, relieve them of whom he
    speaks, towards whom he is so affected. 3. "'Eleos", - mercy
    forgiveness, compassion, tenderness, to them that suffer; and
    "charis", - free pardoning bounty, undeserved love. And all
    this is said to be "tou Theou soteros", - he exercises all
    these properties and attributes of his nature towards us that
    he may save us; and in the bestowing of it, giving us the Holy
    Ghost, it is said, "exeche-en", - he poured him out as water
    out of a vessel, without stop and hesitation; and that not in
    a small measure, but "plousios", - richly and in abundance:
    whence, as to the work itself, it is emphatically said,
    "dikaiotentes te ekeinou chariti", - justified by the grace of
    him who is such a one. And this do the saints of God, in their
    communion with Christ, exceedingly rejoice in before him, that
    the way of their acceptation before God is a way of grace,
    kindness, and mercy, that they might not boast in themselves,
    but in the Lord and his goodness, crying, "How great is thy
    goodness! how great is thy bounty!"
        (4.) They approve of it, and rejoice in it, as a quay of
    great peace and security to themselves and their own souls.
    They remember what was their state and condition whilst they
    went about to set up a righteousness of their own, and were
    not subject to the righteousness of Christ, - how miserably
    they were tossed up and down with continual fluctuating
    thoughts. Sometimes they had hope, and sometimes were full of
    fear; sometimes they thought themselves in some good
    condition, and anon were at the very brink of hell, their
    consciences being racked and torn with sin and fear: but now,
    "being justified by faith, they have peace with God," Rom. 5:
    1. All is quiet and serene; not only that storm is over, but
    they are in the haven where they would be. They have abiding
    peace with God. Hence is that description of Christ to a poor
    soul, Isa. 32: 2, "And a man shall he as a hiding-place from
    the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in
    a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land."
    Wind and tempest, and drought and weariness, - nothing now
    troubles the soul that is in Christ; he has a hiding-place,
    and a covert, and rivers of water, and the shadow of a great
    rock, for his security. This is the great mystery of faith in
    this business of our acceptation with God by Christ: - that
    whereas the soul of a believer finds enough in him and upon
    him to rend the very caul of the heart, to fill him with
    fears, terror, disquietments all his days, yet through Christ
    he is at perfect peace with God, Isa. 26: 3; Ps. 4: 6-8. Hence
    do the souls of believers exceedingly magnify Jesus Christ,
    that they can behold the face of God with boldness,
    confidence, peace, joy, assurance, - that they can call him
    Father, bear themselves on his love, walk up and down in
    quietness, and without fear. How glorious is the Son of God in
    this grace! They remember the wormwood and gall that they have
    eaten; - the vinegar and tears they have drunk; - the
    trembling of their souls, like an aspen leaf that is shaken
    with the wind. Whenever they thought of God, what contrivances
    have they had to hide, and fly, and escape! To be brought now
    to settlement and security, must needs greatly affect them.
        (5.) They cordially approve of this righteousness, because
    it is a way and means of exceeding exaltation and honour of
    the Lord Jesus, whom their souls do love. Being once brought
    to an acquaintance with Jesus Christ, their hearts desire
    nothing more than that he may be honoured and glorified to the
    utmost, and in all things have the pre- eminence. Now, what
    can more tend to the advancing and honouring of him in our
    hearts, than to know that he is made of God unto us "wisdom
    and righteousness?" 1 Cor. 1: 30. Not that he is this or that
    part of our acceptation with God; but he is all, - he is the
    whole. They know that on the account of his working out their
    acceptation with God, he is, -
        [1.] Honoured of God his Father. Phil. 2: 7-11, "He made
    himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a
    servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found
    in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient
    unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also
    has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above
    every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the
    earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ
    is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Whether that word
    "wherefore" denotes a connection of causality or only a
    consequence, this is evident, that on the account of his
    suffering, and as the end of it, he was honoured and exalted
    of God to an unspeakable pre-eminence, dignity, and authority;
    according as God had promised him on the same account, Isa.
    53: 11, 12; Acts 2: 36, 5: 30, 31. And therefore it is said,
    that when "he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down at
    the right hand of the Majesty on high," Heb. 1: 3.
        [2.] He is on this account honoured of all the angels in
    heaven, even because of this great work of bringing sinners
    unto God; for they do not only bow down and desire to look
    into the mystery of the cross, 1 Pet. 1: 12, but worship and
    praise him always on this account: Rev. 5: 11-14, "I heard the
    voice of many angels round about the throne, and the living
    creatures and the elders: and the number of them was ten
    thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;
    saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to
    receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and
    honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is
    in heaven and earth, and under the earth, and such as are in
    the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing,
    and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth
    upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the
    living creatures said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders
    fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever."
    The reason given of this glorious and wonderful doxology, this
    attribution of honour and glory to Jesus Christ by the whole
    host of heaven, is, because he was the Lamb that was slain;
    that is, because of the work of our redemption and our
    bringing unto God. And it is not a little refreshment and
    rejoicing to the souls of the saints, to know that all the
    angels of God, the whole host of heaven, which never sinned,
    do yet continually rejoice and ascribe praise and honour to
    the Lord Jesus, for his bringing them to peace and favour with
        [3.] He is honoured by his saints all the world over; and
    indeed, if they do not, who should? If they honour him not as
    they honour the Father, they are, of all men, the most
    unworthy. But see what they do, Rev. 1: 5, 6, "Unto him that
    loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and
    has made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him
    be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Chap. 5: 8-10,
    "The four living creatures and four and twenty elders fell
    down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and
    golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
    And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the
    book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and
    hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred,
    and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our
    God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." The
    great, solemn worship of the Christian church consists in this
    assignation of honour and glory to the Lord Jesus: therefore
    do they love him, honour him, delight in him; as Paul, Phil.
    3: 8; and so the spouse, Cant. 5: 9-16. And this is on this
    account, -
        (6.) They cordially approve of this righteousness, this
    way of acceptation, as that which brings glory to God as such.
    When they were labouring under the guilt of sin, that which
    did most of all perplex their souls was, that their safety was
    inconsistent with the glory and honour of the great God, -
    with his justice, faithfulness, and truth, all which were
    engaged for the destruction of sin; and how to come off from
    ruin without the loss of their honour [i. e., the honour of
    the fore-mentioned attributes] they saw not. But now by the
    revelation of this righteousness from faith to faith, they
    plainly see that all the properties of God are exceedingly
    glorified in the pardon, justification, and acceptance of poor
    sinners; as before was manifested.
        And this is the first way whereby the saints ho]d daily
    communion with the Lord Jesus in this purchased grace of
    acceptation with God: they consider, approve of, and rejoice
    in, the way, means, and thing itself.
        2. They make an actual commutation with the Lord Jesus as
    to their sins and his righteousness. Of this there are also
    sundry parts: -
        (1.) They continually keep alive upon their hearts a sense
    of the guilt and evil of sin; even then when they are under
    some comfortable persuasions of their personal acceptance with
    God. Sense of pardon takes away the horror and fear, but not a
    due sense of the guilt of sin. It is the daily exercise of the
    saints of God, to consider the great provocation that is in
    sin, - their sins, the sin of their nature and lives; to
    render themselves vile in their own hearts and thoughts on
    that account; to compare it with the terror of the Lord; and
    to judge themselves continually. This they 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
        (2.) 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, -
        [1.] They seriously consider, and by faith conquer, all
    objections to the contrary, that Jesus Christ, by the will and
    appointment of the Father, has really undergone the punishment
    that was due to those sins that lie now under his eye and
    consideration, Isa. 53: 6; 2 Cor. 5: 21. He has as certainly
    and really answered the justice of God for them as, if he
    himself (the sinner) should at that instant be cast into hell,
    he could do.
        [2.] They hearken to the voice of Christ calling them to
    him with their burden, "Come unto me, all 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, -
        [3.] 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 [which had] not yet come to pass,
    Heb. 11: 1, so faith now makes that present which was
    accomplished and past many generations ago. This it is to know
    Christ crucified.
        [4.] 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 has wrought out for them;
    so fulfilling the whole of that of the apostle, 2 Cor. 5: 21,
    "He was made sin for us, that we might be made 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.
        Objection. 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
        Answer. 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, -
        1. 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 [by] 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.
        2. 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 has 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 curse for me: I was
    troubled, but have peace; for the chastisement of my peace was
    upon him. I knew not what to do, nor whither to cause any
    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
    has in himself, the pre-eminence 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.
        Obj. Yea, hut 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 takes 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
    abhorrence of sin, on accounts 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, has made it for
    them, and in their name, Rom. 6: 1-3. The very same doctrine
    that I have insisted on being delivered, chap. 5: 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, notwithstanding 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 meditations. 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
    self-abhorrency 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 has 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. 

    Owen, Of Communion With God
    (continued in File 17...)

    file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: owcom-16.txt