Friday, June 25, 2010

LAW BONDAGE, GOSPEL REST, AND SANCTIFICATION


Christian Reader, — Thou art here presented with another discourse on the old subject, which I believe will ever be the controversy of Zion as long as freeborn sons and bond children are together. It began between Cain and Abel; it appeared in Noah’s family; in Sarah and Hagar, Ishmael and Isaac; between Esau and Jacob; between the apostle and the Jewish scribes; and it will be ended when the lamp of the law affords no oil to the foolish virgins and when the lamp of salvation will burn to eternity in the hearts of the wise.

If my reader be one of Paul’s living epistles, known and read of all men; on the fleshly tables of whose heart the Spirit of the living God has written the law of faith, truth, love, and liberty, he will know by happy experience what Paul means by the law being abolished. (II Corinthians 3:13)

He will feel and enjoy the blessed effects of it in his own experience, by finding revealed wrath and his carnal enmity, legal bondage and servile fear, the dread of damnation and a train of torments; the gaffing yoke of precept and the terrifying sentence abolished from his heart, blotted out in the Saviour’s atonement, and banished from his soul by the wonderful operation of the Spirit of love, which castest out all fear and which is the fulfilling of the law.

Such a soul, once shut up in unbelief and now enlarged by the Spirit of liberty, will prize the Saviour’s yoke and understand the apostle’s meaning, and none else.

Such a soul is delivered from the destroying power of the law of sin and death and from the penal power of the law of death: “Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.”

Nevertheless, we being born under the law and shut up under it, and being habituated to a legal way of working for life and blessings, we are prone to lean this way when we lose sight of our interest in Christ. This Satan is aware of. Hence it is that he has furnished the world and pestered the church from age to age with ministers to revile the Gospel and cry up the law; traducing the former as a licentious doctrine and extolling the works of the latter as consummate holiness; whose work is to beguile the unstable, entangle the unwary, deceive the simple, and call passengers back to the law, who go right on their way.

For my own part, I never knew a child of God yet who stood so fast in his liberty as never to take a single trip to Horeb (the mountain of the law). Let any one simple soul, in his first love or in the sweetest liberty, attend a legal orator, a man of much Scripture, parts, abilities, and fiery zeal, but one month, he shall find himself zealously affected; and soon after a strong confidence shall spring up and stand in the wisdom of man; a fiery zeal shall influence him; to work in his own strength he goes; pride and self-sufficiency follow upon it; the Spirit is grieved and ceases to operate as a Comforter; narrowness of heart ensues and sensible bondage follows; although, all this time, the poor soul may be ignorant and never once suspect the person that communicated his legal fetters to him!

The law genders to bondage, and we are prone to lean that way; and the effects of it are a straitened spirit and a gloomy countenance, flaming jealousy, and inward anger and hatred at the happiness of those who abide in the simplicity of Christ, humble at His feet, and in comfortable union with Him.

A young Christian, just crawled out of the shell, will not credit this; for sometimes such are wiser than the ancient!

The foolish Galatians were wiser in this point than Paul the aged. But before he has been twenty years in the school of Christ, it is ten to one but he agrees with me.

Furthermore, that my reader may not be blindfolded, confused, and misled, by every person who in a pulpit pronounces the word sanctification, I will endeavour to drop a few hints upon it.

When God appointed the seventh day (not the first day, or “Sunday”) to be a day of rest for His creatures, — not only man, but beasts of burden as well — and appropriated it to His service, it was called sanctifying of it: “And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it.”

God’s taking of the first-born of Israel to Himself, both of man and beast, when He slew the first-born of Egypt, and afterwards taking the Levites into His service, instead of all the first-born of Israel, is called sanctifying them:

“For all the first-born of the children of Israel are Mine, both man and beast; on the day that I smote every first-born in the land of Egypt, I sanctified them for Myself; and I have taken the Levites for all the first-born of the children of Israel.”
(Numbers 8:17-18)

The day of rest above mentioned PREFIGURED THE GOSPEL DAY, in which the believer rests from impious rebellion and war with his Maker, from legal labour for life, and from the intolerable burden of sin; as well as an eternal rest from the indwelling of sin in heaven; as it is written:

“Come unto Me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28)

We that believe do enter into rest. (Hebrews 4:6-11) And, with respect to the heavenly glory, Paul says, “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.” (Hebrews 4:9)

The first-born of beast being sanctified, was intended to point out the grand sacrifice of Christ, who is the first-born of every creature, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence. The first-born of Israel typified God’s elect, called the first-born, whose names are written in heaven. These being exchanged for the Levites, was to show that, in the days of Christ, every believer, Jew or Gentile, should be a priest, or a Levite (see Isaiah 66:21); yea, the whole church a royal priesthood, made kings and priests to God, to offer up spiritual sacrifices.

Again, Sanctifying, under the law, consisted in abstaining from wives, washing the flesh, washing the clothes, and having a sacrifice offered for sins, which sacrifice pointed to the sacrifice of Christ; and the washing pointed to regeneration, that believers in Christ’s days should be saved by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. Washing the clothes typified the clean linen garments of praise, of humility, and of imputed righteousness, in which the believer should approach a mercy-seat, and minister to God in private, in his family, and at the house of God.

Abstaining from wives, was to show that the lawful embraces of a wife should be kept in their proper place; and that she should be loved with a moderate and not with an inordinate affection when the soul is espoused to Christ; and this is to be given up, wife and all, when the worship, service, or cause of God require it:

“If any man come to Me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26); and he that said, “I have married a wife, and therefore cannot come,” was excluded from the supper.

Sanctification, as it respects us, is, in the highest sense, God’s act of predestinating us to the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ, His choosing us in Him, appointing our redemption by Him, and our meetness for glory by the Spirit through Him; all which was complete in God’s secret purpose, and as sure to be done as He willed it to be done; on which account we are said to be sanctified by God the Father, in His purpose; preserved in Jesus Christ, in whom we were chosen; and called by God, to the fellowship of Christ, as our covenant Head; (Jude 1) as it is written: “To them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.”

Such were the fowls, four-footed beasts, and creeping things, in Peter’s sheet; which he refused to kill and eat, calling them things common and unclean, till the voice told him, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”

Again, Sanctification is by the death of Christ, who by His death blotted out the penal sum of our sins, magnified the law, and appeased the offended Majesty of heaven; in whose death God viewed the whole mystical body of Christ redeemed and cleansed in their Head, who is one with the elect; who, by His one offering hath for ever perfected them that are sanctified.

This was according to the predeterminate counsel, purpose, and will of God:

“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
(Hebrew 10:10)

Once more, Sanctification is by the Holy Ghost; who subdues the will, renews the mind, enlightens the understanding, and sheds abroad the love of God in the heart:

“That the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.”
(Romans 15:16)

All this is willed and determined by the secret counsel of God; as it is written: “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.”

Lastly. That such a highly-favoured soul should live, walk, and act, becoming an object of God’s choice, the purchase of a Saviour’s blood, and as a living temple of the Holy Ghost, redeemed from among men, set apart by the Spirit, and ordained for heaven, is called walking in sanctification: “That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour.”

By William Huntington, S.S.

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