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12. It is the knowledge of Christ dwelling in you, and so of the special love of God, that must acquaint you with a life of holy thankfulness and praise. These highest and most acceptable duties, will be out of your reach if Satan can hide from you that mercy which must be the chiefest matter of your thanksgiving. Will that soul be in tune for the high praises of the Lord, that thinks he meaneth to use him as an enemy? Can you look for any cheerful thanksgiving from him that looks to lie in hell? Will he not rather cry with David, "In death there is no remembrance of thee: In the grave who shall give thee thanks?" (Psal. vi. 5.) "What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit? Shall the dust praise thee? shall it declare thy truth?" (Psal. xxx. 9.) Shall the damned praise thee, or shall they give thee thanks that must be scorched with the flames of thine indignation? Can you expect that joy should be in their hearts, or cheerfulness in their countenances, or praises in their mouths, that think they are reprobated to the fire of hell? Undoubtedly Satan is not ignorant, that this is the way to deprive God of the service which is most acceptable, to him and you of the pleasures of so sweet a life. And therefore he that envieth both, will do his worst to damp your spirits, and breed uncomfortable doubts and fears, and wrongful suspicions in your minds. Whereas the knowledge of your interest in Christ, would be a continual storehouse of thanksgiving and praise, and teach your hearts as well as your tongues, to say with David, "Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered; blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice ye righteous, and shout for joy all ye that are upright in heart." (Psal. xxxii. 1, 2. 11.) "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: who forgiveth all thine iniquities: who healeth all thy diseases: who redeemeth thy life from destruction, and, crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies." (Psal. ciii. 1-4.) "O Lord, my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me: O Lord, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave; thou hast kept me alive that I should not go down to the pit. Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness: for his
anger endureth but for a moment: in his favour is life." (Psal. xxx. 2-5.) Thanksgiving would be the very pulse and breath of your assurance of Christ dwelling in you. You would say with Paul," Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in celestials in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love: Having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins according to the riches of his grace, wherein he hath abounded toward us," &c. (Eph. i. 3-8.) Thus faith and assurance, as they have an unspeakable store to work upon, so it is natural to them to expatiate in the praise of our Redeemer, and to delight in amplifications and commemorations of the ways of grace. Just so doth Peter begin his first epistle, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time, wherein ye greatly rejoice," &c.
No wonder if the heirs of heaven be inclined to the language and the work of heaven. I think there are few of you that would not rejoice, and by your speech and countenance express your joy, if you had assurance but of the dignities and dominions of this world. And can he choose but express his joy and thankfulness, that hath assurance of the crown of life? What fragrant thoughts should possess that mind that knoweth itself to be possessed by the Spirit of the living God! How thankful will he be that knows he hath Christ and heaven to be thankful for! What sweet delights should fill up the hours of that man's life, that knows the Son of God living in him, and that he shall live in joy with Christ for ever! How gladly will he be exercised in the praises of his Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier, that knows it must be his work for ever! No wonder if this joy
be a stranger to their hearts, that are strangers to Christ, or strangers to their interest in his love: No wonder if they have no hearts for these celestial works, that have no part in the celestial inheritance, or that know not that they have any part therein. How can they joyfully give thanks for that which they know not that they have or ever shall have, or have any probability to attain!
But to that man that is assured of Christ within him, heaven and earth, and all their store, do offer themselves as the matter of his thanks, and do furnish him with provisions to feed his praises. What a shame is it that an assured heir of heaven should be scant and barren in comfort to himself, or in thanks and praise to Jesus Christ, when he hath so full a beap of love and mercy to fetch his motives from, and hath two worlds to furnish him with the most precious materials; and hath no less than Infinite goodness, even God himself, to be the subject of his praise! "O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, because his mercy endureth for ever (whatever others do): Let Israel say, let the house of Aaron say, let them that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever." (Psal. cxviii. 1-4.) The knowledge of our interest fitteth us for his praise. "Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee." (Psal. cxviii. 28.) "O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds; I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord!" (Psal. cxvi. 16, 17.) "His praise is for the congregation of his saints. Let Israel rejoice in him that made him; let the children of Zion be joyful in their King." (Psal. cxlix. 1, 2.) "Let them praise the name of the Lord; for his name alone is excellent, his glory is above the earth and heaven. He also exalteth the horn of his people; the praise of all his saints, even of the children of Israel, a people near unto him." (Psal. cxlviii. 13, 14.) "I will also clothe his priests with salvation, and his saints shall shout aloud for joy." (Psal. cxxxii. 16.) Praise is a work so proper for the saints, and thanksgiving must be fed with the knowledge of your mercies, that Satan well knoweth what he shall get by it, and what you will lose, if he can but hide your mercies from you. The height of his malice is against the Lord, and the next is against you and how can he shew it more than by
drawing you to rob God of his thanks and praise, when he hath blessed and enriched you with the chiefest of his mercies! Labour therefore, Christians, to know that you have that grace that may be the matter and cause of so sweet and acceptable an employment as the praises of your Lord.
13. Moreover, you should consider that without the knowledge of your interest in Christ, you cannot live to the honour of your Redeemer, in such a measure as the Gospel doth require. The excellency of Gospel-mercies will be veiled and obscured by you, and will not be revealed and honoured by your lives. Your low and poor dejected spirits will be a dishonour to the faith and hope of the saints, and to the glorious inheritance, of which you have so full a prospect in the promises. If you take the son of a prince in his infancy, and educate him as the son of a ploughman, he will not live to the honour of his birth, which he is not acquainted with. The heirs of heaven, that know not themselves to be such, may live like the heirs of heaven as to uprightness and humility, but not in the triumphant joy, nor in the courageous boldness, which becometh a believer. What an injury and dishonour is it to our Redeemer, that when he hath done and suffered so much to make us happy, we should walk as heavily as if he had done nothing for us at all! And when he hath so fully secured us of everlasting happiness, and told us of it so expressly that our joy may be full, we should live as if the Gospel were not the Gospel, and such things had never been promised or revealed! When heaven is the object, and the promise of God is the groundwork of our faith, we should live above all earthly things, as having the honours and pleasures of the world under our feet, accounting all as "loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ," (Phil. iii. 8,) whom we should love, though "we have not seen him; in whom though now we see him not, yet believing we should rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory, as those that must receive the end of their faith, the salvation of our souls." (1 Pet. i. 8, 9.) And how can we do this, if we are still questioning the love of Christ, or our interest in it!
Believers should with undaunted resolution charge through the armies of temptation, and conquer difficulties, and suffer for the name of Christ with joy; accounting it a
blessed thing to be persecuted for righteousness sake, because that "theirs is the kingdom of heaven :" Because of the greatness of the reward, they should "rejoice and be exceeding glad." (Matt. v. 10. 12.) And how can they do this, that believe not that the reward and kingdom will be theirs!
The joys of faith and confidence on the promise and strength of Christ, should overcome all inordinate fears of man; For he hath said, I will never fail thee nor forsake thee." So that we may boldly say, "The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." (Heb. xiii. 5, 6.) And how can we do this, while we are questioning our part in the Christ and promise that we should thus boldly trust upon !
14. Lastly consider, that the knowledge of your part in Christ, may make all sufferings easy to you. You will be so much satisfied in God your portion, as will abate the desires, and drown the joys and sorrows of the world. You will judge the "sufferings of this present time unworthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us." (Rom. viii. 18.) You will choose rather "to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches that the treasures of the world, as having respect to the recompence of the reward." (Heb. xi. 25, 26.) All this must be done, and will be done by true believers, that have an assurance of their own sincerity; they must and will forsake all, and take up the cross and follow Christ, in hope of a reward in heaven, as it is offered them in the Gospel, when they know their special interest in it. For these are Christ's terms which he imposeth on all that will be his disciples. (Luke xiv. 33; xviii. 22. 24, 25.) But you may certainly perceive that it will be much more easy to part with all, and undergo and do all this, when we have the great encouragement of our assured interest, than when we have no more but the common offer. To instance in some particulars.
1. Do you live where serious godliness is derided, and you cannot obey the word of God, and seek first the kingdom of God, and its righteousness, without being made the common scorn, and the daily jest and by-word of the company? Let it be so: If you know that you have Christ within you, and are secured of the everlasting joys, will you