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Sermon 8 - Colossians 1:20

Christ's Eternal Existence and the Dignity of His Person Asserted and Proved by Thomas Manton (1620-1677) (Volume 1)

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“One way to get comfort is to plead the promise of God in prayer, show Him His handwriting; God is tender of His Word.”

Sermon 8 – Colossians 1:20

“And having made peace by the blood his cross, to reconcile all things to himself; by him I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Col. 1. 20.

In these words observe…

First, What Christ was to do.

Secondly, The manner how he did it; or,

First, The end for which he was appointed. To be our Mediator and Redeemer, and accordingly promised and sent into the world to reconcile all things to God, ‘Whether they be things in heaven, or things in earth.’

Secondly, The means by which he accomplished it: ‘Having made peace by the blood of his cross;’ that is, by his bloody sacrifice on the cross, thereby answering the sacrifices of atonement under the law. In the first branch take notice of:-

1. The benefit: reconciliation with God.

2. The person procuring it: by him; and it is repeated again, I say, by him.

3. The persons to whom this benefit is intended, expressed –

[1.] Collectively, panta, all things.

[2.] Distributively: whether they be things in earth or things in heaven.

As they are collectively expressed, it teaches us that grace is revealed and offered in the most comprehensive expressions, that none may be excluded, or have just cause to exclude themselves. As it is distributively expressed, the latter clause is of a dubious interpretation. Some ‘by things on earth,’ understand men, but by ‘things in heaven’ the angels. Surely not the fallen angels, for they are not in heaven, neither was Christ sent to reconcile them, nor relieve them in their misery and reduce them to God, Heb. ii. 16, ouk epilambanetai twn aggelwn . What then shall we understand by ‘things in heaven’? Some think the holy angels, others the glorified saints.

(1.) Those that assert the first argue thus: that the angels are properly inhabitants of heaven, and so fitly called things in heaven; and they are enemies to men whilst they are ungodly, idolatrous, and rebels to God (as good subjects hold with their prince, and have common friends and enemies with him), but are reconciled to them as soon as they partake of the benefits of Christ’s death, as we are told of ‘joy in heaven among the angels of God, at the conversion of one sinner,’ Luke xv. 10. Now if there be so much joy over one sinner repenting, how much more when many sinners are snatched out of the jaws of hell? They make the sense to be thus: before, for the sins of men, they were alienated from them, but then reconciled. But this scripture speaks not of the reconciliation of angels and men, hut the reconciliation of all things to God; for so it is expressly in the text, to reconcile all things to himself. Now the good angels cannot be said to be reconciled to God, for there was never a breach between them, Se nunquam cum matre in gratiam rediisse.

(2.) Therefore, I interpret it of the glorified saints. See the like expression, Eph. i 10, ‘To gather together in one all things to Christ which are in heaven and in earth.’ And more clearly, Eph. iii 15, ‘Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.’ Meaning thereby the faithful who are already in heaven, and those who are now remaining upon earth. This is a comfortable note, and teaches us:-

1. That the apostle Paul knew no purgatory, or third place for souls after death.

2. That the saints departed are now in heaven as to their souls, and gathered to the rest of the spirits of just men made perfect.

3. The souls now in heaven once needed the merit of Christ, even as we do. None come thither but they were first reconciled to God. By him their peace was made, and they obtained remission of sins by the blood of his cross, as ye do. In short, all that go to heaven go thither by the mediation, sacrifice, and meritorious righteousness of the same Redeemer.

Doct. One great benefit we have by Christ is peace and reconciliation with God.

Here I shall show:-

1. What this reconciliation is.

2. How it was obtained.

3. What assurance we have that it is obtained.

4. How and upon what terms it is applied to us.

1. What this reconciliation is.

I answer: It is not an original peace, but a returning to amity after some foregoing breach. Now the breach by sin consisted in two things – an aversion of the creature from God, and an aversion of God from the creature. So before peace and reconciliation can be made, two things must be removed – God’s wrath, and our sinful nature: God must be pacified, and man converted. God’s wrath is appeased by the blood of Christ, and our natures are changed and healed by the Spirit of grace. First, God’s wrath is appeased, and then the Spirit is bestowed upon us; for while God is angry and offended, no saving benefit can be expected from him. This text speaks not how he took away our enmity, but how he appeased God for us, not so much of the application as the impetration of this benefit. The application is spoken of ver. 21, how it is applied to us, but here the apostle more directly speaks of the impetration, how it was procured and obtained for us namely, by Christ’s satisfying God’s justice for that wrong which caused the breach, or the dying of the Son of God for a sinful world. Now this hath an influence on God’s pardon and our conversion, for by virtue of this reconciliation we are justified and pardoned. Therefore, we are said to be justified by his blood, Rom. viii. 9, that is, the price is paid by Christ and accepted by God. There needeth nothing more to be done on the Mediator’s part. By virtue of the same peace made we are also sanctified and converted unto God, 2 Cor. v. 18. The gift of the sanctifying Spirit is given us as the fruit of Christ’s death.

2. How it was obtained – by the blood of his cross he made peace. This implieth death, and such a death as in appearance was accursed; for the death of the cross is the vilest and most cruel death: Gal. iii. 13, ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made accursed for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.’ Now we must see the reasons of this course or way of reconciling the world, that we may not mistake God’s design, nor be possessed with any imaginations which are derogatory to God’s honour – as, suppose, if we should hence conceit that God is all wrath and justice, unwilling of himself to be reconciled to man, or that he delighteth in blood, and is hardly drawn to give out grace. Oh, no! these are false misprisions and misrepresentations of God. Therefore let us a little inquire into the reasons why God took this way to reconcile all things to himself, and ordained Christ to bear the chastisement of our peace. I answer: That the justice of God might be eminently demonstrated, the lawgiver vindicated, and the breach that was made in the frame of government repaired; and God manifested to be a hater of sin, and yet the sinner saved from destruction; and that the love of God might be eminently and conspicuously discerned; and our peace the better secured. As let us a little see these things more particularly. I begin –

[1.] With the holiness of God’s nature, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, Hab. i. 13, – that is, so as to approve of it, or altogether connive at it, so as to let it go without punishment or mark of his displeasure; therefore some way must be found out to signify his purest holiness, and his hatred and detestation of sin, and that it should not be pardoned without some testimony of his displeasure against it. We are told God hateth the workers of iniquity, Ps. v. 5, and the righteous Lord loveth righteousness, Ps. xi. 7; and, therefore, when God was to grant his universal pardon he would not do it without this propitiatory atonement.

[2.] The honour of his governing justice was to be secured, and freed from any blemish, that the awe of God might be kept up in the world. In the mystery of our redemption we must not look upon God only as pars loesa, the wronged party; but as rector mundi. God was to carry himself as the governor of the world. Now there is a difference between a private person and a governor – private persons may pass by offences as they please, but a governor must do right, and what conduces to the public good. There is a twofold notion that we have of public right, justum est quod fieri debet, and justum est quod fieri potest. That which ought to be done, or we are unjust; as for instance, to punish the righteous equally with the wicked, that Abraham pleadeth, Gen. xviii. 25, ‘That be far from thee, to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee. Shall not the judge of the the earth do right?’ Not that Abraham mindeth God of his office, but he was confidently assured of the nature of God that he could not do otherwise. But now there is justum quod fieri potest, which if it be done, or if it be not done, the party is not unjust. The first part of justice is paying of debts; the second, exacting or requiring of debts. Now the Judge of the world doth all things wisely and righteously. The question is, therefore, whether God, passing by the offences of the world without any satisfaction required, doth deal justly? As a free Lord he may make what laws he pleases; but as a just Judge, with respect to the ends of government, he doth that which is for public good. The right of passing by a wrong, and the right of releasing a punishment, are different things; because punishment is a common interest, and is referred to a common good to preserve order and government, and for example to the future. The government of the world required it that God should stand on the satisfaction of Christ, and the submission of the sinner, that he may be owned and reverenced as the just and holy governor of the world. A valuable compensation is insisted on for this end: Rom. ii. 25, 26, ‘Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.’

[3.]To keep up the authority of his law. God had made a former covenant, which was not to he quitted and wholly made void but upon valuable consideration; therefore if it be broken, and no more ado made about it, all respect and obedience to God would fall to the ground. The law may be considered either as to the precept or sanction. The authority of the precept is kept up by Christ’s submission to the law, and living by the same rules we are bound to live by, and performing all manner of obedience to God; for it behoved him to fulfil all righteousness, Mat. iii. 15, being set up as a pattern of holiness in our nature, to which we are to be conformed. But that which is most considerable in this case is the sanction or penalty. If this should be relaxed, and no satisfaction required, it might leave upon God the blemish of levity, mutability, and inconstancy. The law was not given in jest, but in the greatest earnest that ever law was given; and so solemn a transaction was not constituted to no purpose, therefore God will not part with the law upon light terms: Gal. iv. 4, 5,’ When the fulness of time was come God sent forth his Son made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.’ That men may know that it is a dangerous thing to transgress his law, and that they may fear and do no more presumptuously; partly that it might not foster in us hopes of impunity, which are very natural to us, Gen. iii. 5. The devil seeks to weaken the truth of God’s threatenings, Deut. xxix. 19, 20. We are apt to look upon the threatenings of the law as a vain scarecrow; therefore, for the terror and warning of sinners for the future, God would not release us from the punishment till our surety undertook our reconciliation with God by bearing the chastisement of our peace.

[4.] Christ’s death was necessary to make sin odious, and obedience more acceptable to us.

(1.) Sin more odious or hateful – no other remedy would serve the turn to procure the pardon and destruction of it than the bloody death of the cross, Rom. viii. 3. Surely it is no small thing for which the Son of God must die. When you read or hear of Christ’s sufferings, you should never think an extenuating and favourable thought of it more.

(2.) To commend obedience: for Christ’s suffering death at the command of his Father was the noblest piece of service, and highest act of obedience that ever could or can be performed unto God. It is beyond anything that can be done by men or angels. There was in it so much love to man, so much self-denial, humility, and patience, so much resignation of himself to God, who had appointed him to be our Redeemer, that it cannot be paralleled. The great and most remarkable thing in Christ’s death was obedience: Rom. v. 18; Phil. ii. 7, 8. God delighteth not in mere blood, but blood offered in obedience as the best way to impress upon man a sense of his duty, and to teach him to serve and please God at the dearest rate.

[5.] This death commendeth the love of God to us, for it is the great demonstration of it. Many draw a quite contrary conclusion, as if he were with much ado brought to have mercy on us; but they forget that he is first and chief in the design: 2 Cor. v. 19, ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself.’ Christ came from heaven to declare to us the greatness of God’s love. God thought nothing too dear for us – not the Son of his love, nor his death, ignominy, and shame: Rom. v. 8, God commendeth his love in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. When we had alienated our hearts from God, refused his service, and could expect nothing but the rigour of his law and vindictive justice, then he spared not his own Son to bring about this reconciliation for us.

[6.] As God is pacified, so it gives us hopes our business lieth not with a God offended, but with a God reconciled. If we had not to do with a pacified God, who could lift up his face to him, or think a comfortable thought of him? But this gives us hope: Rom. v. 10, ‘For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.’ We were enemies by sin in us, which God hateth, and declareth his wrath against it in the law. Then by the satisfaction wrought by Christ we were restored to his favour, so far that free and easy conditions were procured in the gospel, and his Spirit is offered to prepare and fit us for a life of glory. We have heard what Christ hath done.

Thirdly, What assurance have we that this peace is obtained? Consciences are not easily settled, therefore some visible evidences are necessary that God is pacified. I shall name three or four: –

1. Christ’s resurrection and ascension into glory. This shows that God was propitiated, and hath accepted the ransom that was given for souls. We read, Rom. iv. 25, that he died for our offences, and rose again for our justification. His dying noteth his satisfaction, his rising again the acceptance of it. God by raising him up from the dead showed that he had received the death of his Son as a sufficient ransom for our sins – for he died in the quality of a surety, and in that quality was raised up again. By his death he made the payment; by his resurrection the satisfaction of it was witnessed to the world – for then our surety was let out of prison: Isa. liii. 8,’ He shall be taken from prison and from judgment.’ In his death he was in effect a prisoner, under the arrest of divine vengeance; but when he rose again he was discharged. Therefore there is great weight laid upon it as to our acquittance: Rom.viii. 34, ‘Yea, rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God.’ There is some special thing in his resurrection comparatively above his death which hath influence on our justification – that is, it was a visible evidence given to the world that enough was done for the expiation of sins, and to assure us of our deliverance if we be capable; and his ascension into glory doth further witness it. He being exalted to the greatest dignity, is able to defend and protect his people, and hath the advantage of interceding with his Father for the supply of all our wants

2. The grant of the new covenant – which is therefore called the covenant of his peace: Isa. liv. 10, ‘The covenant of my peace shall not be removed;’ Ezek. xxxvii. 26, ‘I will make a covenant of peace with them.’ It is so called not only because thereby this peace and reconciliation is offered to us, but the terms are stated, and the conditions required are far more equitable, gracious, and commodious for us than the terms of the law covenant. Man, as a sinful creature, is obnoxious to God’s wrath for the violation of the law of nature, and so might perish without remedy, and no impeachment to God’s goodness can happen thereby. But when God will give bounds to his sovereignty over him, and enter into terms of covenant with him, and give him a bottom to stand upon, whereon to expect good things from him, upon the account of his faithfulness and righteousness – this is a condescension; and so far condescended in the first covenant, that after that man hath cast away the mercies of his creation, and his capacity to fulfil that covenant, this was mere mercy and grace. That God would enter into a second covenant, it is not from any mutableness in God, but from the merit and satisfaction of a Redeemer. Surely there must be some great and important cause to change, alter, and abrogate a covenant so solemnly made and established – to lay aside one covenant, and to enter into another, especially since the former was so holy, righteous, and equal, fit for God to give, and us, in the state we then were in, to receive. Now, what was the important reason? Christ came to salve God’s honour in the first covenant, and to secure the ends of his government. Though a second covenant should be set up, the blood of his cross hath made this covenant everlasting, Heb. xiii. 20, and upon gracious terms doth convey great and precious privileges to us.

Thirdly, The pouring out of the Spirit, which certainly was the fruit and effect of Christ’s death, and also an evidence of the worth and value of it. The apostle telleth us that Christ was ‘made a curse for us, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles by faith in Jesus Christ.’ And what blessing was that? The gift of the Spirit, Gal. v. 13, 14. And in another place when. he interpreteth the types of the law, he telleth us that the fathers ‘did all eat of the same spiritual meat that we do, and did all drink of the same spiritual drink, for they drank of the rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.’ If the rock was Christ, the water that gushed out of the rock was the Spirit, often compared to waters in scripture, John iv. 14, vii. 38, 39; and the rock yielded not this water till it was smitten with the rod of Moses – a figure of the curses of the law. Christ was stricken and smitten of God, and so procured the Spirit for us John vii. 39, The Holy Ghost was not yet given, for Jesus was not yet glorified; that is, had not finished his passion, and the acceptance of it was not yet attested to the world, till he was advanced at the right hand of God, and then this effect declared it. The Spirit was given before, but more sparingly, because it was given upon trust, and with respect to the satisfaction that was afterwards to be made and accepted. And then it was witnessed to the world by a more copious and plentiful effusion of the Spirit. Therefore it is said: Acts ii. 33, ‘Therefore Jesus being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.’ The merit and value of the sacrifice is thus visibly attested, therefore this is one of the witnesses: Acts v. 30 – 32, ‘The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.’ And what was the evidence given to the church in general, is the evidence given also to every particular believer.

Fourthly, Some have obtained the effects and fruits of Christ’s death; this peace begun here hath been perfected in heaven. The text saith, He hath reconciled all things to himself, whether they be things in heaven, or things in earth.’ Here many are pardoned and accepted with God, and have the comfort of it in their own souls. Others are gone home to God, and have the full of this peace. All were by nature children of wrath, under the curse as well as others. Now, if some in all generations have enjoyed the love, favour, and friendship of God in this world, and upon their departure out of it have entered into glory upon this account, it is evident that Christ is accepted to the ends for which God sent him – thus Abraham, the father of the faithful, and all the blessed souls who are gathered into his bosom, and are alive with God in heaven. Certain it is they were all sinners by nature, for there is no difference between any of the children of men, and yet God admits them into his peace. Was it a personal privilege peculiar to them only? No; the apostle tells us, Rom. iv. 23, ‘It was not written for his sake alone;’ and Paul obtained mercy ‘for them that should hereafter believe on Christ for life everlasting,’ 1 Tim. i. 16. Therefore all penitent believers may be assured that this sacrifice is sufficient, and will avail for their acceptance with God. We take it for a good token of a healing water when we see the crutches of cripples that had been cured. All the blessed saints in heaven are witness to a sincere soul – they all obtained this blessed condition through the blood of his cross reconciling them to God. There is none in glory but had his pardon sealed through the blood of Christ.

4. How and upon what terms is it applied to us? for we have considered hitherto only how Christ hath made peace or made the atonement. Yet if we receive not the atonement we may perish for ever for all that; besides the work done on the cross by Christ alone, there is a work to be done in our hearts; the work of making peace is sufficiently done by Christ, there needeth nothing to be added to it, no other ransom, nor sacrifice, nor propitiation. Christ hath so fully satisfied divine justice, that he hath obtained the new covenant; but we are not actually admitted into this peace till we have personally accepted the covenant. Now here it sticketh. God hath been in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, there was the foundation laid; but, therefore, we pray you to be reconciled, 2 Cor. v. 20. There is our title, claim, actuaL right, security. But how do we receive this atonement? or how are we interested in it? The conditions and terms are gracious, such as the nature of the business calleth for. As to our entrance into this peace, no more is required but faith and repentance. The gospel is offered to all; but the penitent believer, as being only capable, is possessed of it.

1. Faith is required; that we believe what the Son of God hath done and purchased for us: Rom. v. 1, ‘Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ If we sincerely embrace the gospel, we are reconciled to God and accepted with him. The faith that justifieth is partly an assent to the truth of the Christian religion, especially the fundamental truth that Jesus is the Son of God and Saviour of the world; and partly an acceptance of Christ as God offers him, a serious, thankful, broken-hearted acceptance of Christ as your Lord and Saviour: serious, because of the weight of the business; broken-hearted, because of the condition of the person accepting, a self-condemning sinner, or one that hath an awakening sense of his sin and misery. Thankful, because reconciliation with God and fruition of them in glory is so great a benefit: and you take him as Lord; for every knee must bow to Christ, he is a Saviour by merit and efficacy. By his meritorious righteousness you obtain all benefits; by the efficacy of his Spirit you perform all duties. The last thing is trust and dependence, Eph. i. 13. Trust is such an expectation of the benefits offered by Christ, that forsaking all other things you entirely give up yourselves to the conduct of his word and Spirit.

2. The next thing is repentance, which is a turning from sin to God. We turn from sin by hatred, and we turn to God by love. We turn from sin by hatred; hatred of sin is the ground of all mortification. There is a twofold hatred – of abomination and of enmity. We turn to God by love, which is the great principle to incline us to God, and is the bottom of vivification or living to God. Now all this is necessary to actual peace, for our refreshing begins in conversion, Acts iii. 19. There is no peace allowed to the wicked; we must take Christ’s yoke, or we shall find no rest for our souls, Mat. xi. 29. We are not reconciled to God till our enmity be broken and overcome: then, of enemies, we become friends; of strangers, intimates – then we are reconciled. This, then, is required of you; only let me add this caution, what is at first vows and purposes must be afterwards deeds and practices; and having engaged yourselves to God, to live to him, to keep yourselves from sin, and to follow after holiness, this must be your business all the days of your lives, for so you continue your peace and interest in God: Gal. vi. 16, ‘And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and on the Israel of God.’

Use 1. To exhort you to enter into this peace, that you may be partakers of the fruit of Christ’s blood, and the virtue of his cross may be effectual in you.

[1.] Let me reason, a periculo from the danger. Consider what it is to be at odds with God, and how soon and how easily he can revenge his quarrel against you, and how miserable they will be for ever that are not found of him in a state of peace: Ps. vii. 11 – 13, ‘God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and will make his arrows ready.’ There the psalmist representeth God and man as in a state of hostility against each other. The wicked man affronts his holiness, questions his justice, slights his wrath, breaks his laws, wrongeth his people, and saith, Tush! I shall have peace though I add drunkenness to thirst. God for a while giveth time and warning; but every moment can break in upon us, for he is able easily to deal with us, comminus, hand to hand, for he hath his sword; eminus, at a distance, for he hath his bow. He is not only able to deal with them, but ready, for he is whetting his sword and hath bent his bow, the arrow is upon the string, though not as yet sent or shot out. What remedy, then, is there? There is but one exception: ‘if he turn not.’ If he be not reduced and brought home to God by a timely repentance, he falleth into the hands of the living God. Now, no persons are in so dangerous an estate as those that have peace offered and despise it: Isa. xxvii. 4,’ Let him take hold of my strength;’ when God is ready to strike. A man that is fallen into the power of his enemy will take hold of his arm. We are always in God’s power, his vengeance. may surprise us before we are aware. What is our business, but to be found of him in peace?

[2.] Ab utili, from the happiness of being at peace with God. Your great work is over, and you have a world of benefit by it – you stop all danger at the fountain-head. When you are at peace with God, you are at peace with the creatures: Ezek. xxxiv. 25, ‘I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land. Danger might way lay us at every turn. Then for men: Prov. x. 17, ‘When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes his enemies to be at peace with him.’ Then peace in your own consciences: Rom. xv. 13, ‘Now the God of hope fill you with joy and peace in believing.’ To have a man’s conscience settled on sound terms is a great mercy. Peace with the holy angels; instead of being instruments of vengeance, they are ministering spirits,’ Heb. i. 14. Lastly, Communion with God himself: Rom. v. 1, 2,’ Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith,’ etc.; Eph. ii. 17, 18, ‘Preaching peace, by whom also we have access by one Spirit unto the Father.’

[3.] I reason from the confidence we may have of this benefit if we submit to godly terms.

1. God is willing to give it: ver. 19, ‘ It pleased the Father that in him all fulness should dwell.’ There is God’s authority and good pleasure in it. The first motive came from God, who received the wrong, not from him that gave it. God was in Christ, 2 Cor. v.14. Among men, the inferior should seek to the superior, the party offending to the party offended, the weaker to the stronger, they that need the reconciliation, to him that needeth it not; but here all is contrary.

2. You may be confident of it upon another ground, the sufficiencv of Christ to procure all fulness. The whole divine nature did inhabit and reside in the man Christ Jesus, and so he is completely fitted and furnished for this work. He hath paid a full price for this peace when he bare our sins and carried our sorrows; and by his Spirit he changes our hearts as well as pacifies the wrath of God. And then he preserveth this peace by his constant intercession, Heb. ii. 17, 18. Now, shall we doubt of it but that we may get it?

[1.] Let us take the way of entrance by faith and repentance. It concerns us much to see whether we be in peace or trouble: if in trouble, you see the cure; if in peace, the next question is, is it God’s peace? That is had by the blood of Christ, the merit of which we must depend upon, and devote ourselves to God, break off our old league with sin, and bind ourselves with a bond to live unto God, to be the Lord’s for evermore.

[2.] When this peace is made, be very tender of it, that no breach fall out between you and God: Ps. lxxxv. 8, ‘ He will speak peace to his people, and to his saints: but let not them turn again to folly.’

[3.] Let us be thankful to God for this fruit of Christ’s death; it is an act of free and undeserved mercy, and to be imputed to nothing but his mere grace that God hath appointed such a way: ‘It pleased the Father to bruise him,’ Isa. liii. 9. That he sendeth ambassadors to publish it: Acts x. 36, ‘ The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all):’ and that he appointeth a ministry. It is a great privilege in itself for by this peace we have not only the beginnings but the increase of grace till all be perfected in heaven: Heb. xiii. 20, 21, ‘Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight.’ 1 Thes. i. 23, ‘ The God of peace sanctify you, that you may be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ This peace doth encourage us in all temptations from the devil: Rom. xvi. 20, ‘ The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly.’ From the world: Eph. vi. 16, ‘Shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.’ Fears of the wrath of God, and doubts about our eternal condition: Rom. xiv. 17, ‘The kingdom of God is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.’ Here are three words – comfort, peace and joy. These succeed one another as so many degrees: comfort is support under trouble, peace a ceasing from trouble, joy a lively sense of the love of God.

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