How the believing and justified Christian is daily led and urged by the Holy Spirit, to hate evil and to do good, merely in honor of his creator and redeemer: Or, which is the same thing, how he is daily renovated, sanctified and purified by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit now urges on the justified and accepted pilgrims, on the narrow road of denial, softly, but at the same time strongly, with the word, and through the word of truth.
Firstly, In the conversion, (a) the Father draws the soul under the law to the Son, and as in her distress, she can find no where a place of refuge, she flees into his open wounds; (b) the Son bathes, sprinkles and absolves them, and delivers them to the care and guidance of his spirit; (c) The spirit of Christ leads them in all truth, to the wished for port. If difficulties occur, the Spirit of Christ assists our weakness, and intercedes for us with Christ in our prayers, as well as in our faults — he teaches us to call him our Lord and Saviour, and leads us daily; 2nd, Christ receives our supplication and prayer, signs it with his blood, 3rd, and brings the matter with his intercession before the Father. O! love thou art never tired to work for us poor sinners!
The spirit never over-hurries the souls, nor does he suffer them to stand still, but leads them further and further from one grace, and age of grace to the other: — He effects the work of sanctification, renovation and purification, not by an unlimited power — but he regulates himself according to the weakness of human nature, he continues the sanctification by degrees, from day to day, teaches us to resign daily more, to crucify the flesh more, to believe, love, suffer and undergo daily more, Rev. iii, 17.
The urging of the Hob Spirit is not a legal, storm urging, of this the soul, thank God! is liberated, through the blood of the expiation; The ransom is paid, there is no longer a dunning creditor, but we are led by the bands of love. It is a human yoke and the Lord assists us to bear it. Hos. xi. 4. Therefore it is said to Christ, in the cx Psalm, vs. 3, Thy people, thy redeemed, to wit: the faithful (these are the people of the Saviour, Mat. i, 21, Gal. v, 24, 2 Cor. x, 7) They are all volunteers, they are willing to sacrifice: It is not said thou shalt, but thou wilt. The commandments are all turned into gospel promises; you will have in future no other Gods an* assistants. You will no longer abuse the name and the blood of the Saviour, you will despise no longer his word, no longer be obstinate and disobedient. You will no longer kill and hate, no longer love impure lusts and vanities, &c. In this manner the law is fulfilled, and so it is established in us through faith, Rom. iii, 31.
The faithful are a people and property of the great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, all industrious people, Tit. ii, i 14. They think sanctification, prayer and renunciation of the world, rather a blessing, than a servitude.
They are like the four creatures of Ezekiel, chap, i, it is a living mind and spirit in them, they go straight forward, whither the mind (the spirit of the Lord) goes, thither they go likewise, they dare not guide themselves; for they hate all serpentine turnings. Whenever their leader gives a signal, they go or rest; all own busying, all willful resting is taken from them. When they rest, they gather new strength, when they go, they go well prepared, and think of leaving the whole world behind: They have here no continuing city, but seek one to come, they are sanctified by the blood of Jesus, in the communion of his cross and in death, Heb. xiii, 14. Every thing goes through death to life. Before every new degree of life, a dying precedes, each step is made through a death.
It is exactly as in a worldly journey; particularly it goes always uphill. We proceed further and further, foot by foot, by a constant resignation. We approach one place after the other on our way, but stop at none. We often think, O, if we were only so far, and when we come so far, we soon leave the place again; when one hill is surmounted, we perceive a new one, and so we hurry on to the end. It is a constant leaving and pushing forward. We do not slop at what we leave behind, but look at that which is yet before us. Paul sayeth — But one thing I do, forgetting these things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, Phil iii, 13, 14. And in another place: Make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed. — Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord, Heb. xii, 13, 14.
The whole journey proceeds step by step, in daily repentance, and in daily faith, to hate sin, to do good, to denounce the world, and to aim at heavenly things. The more we hasten, renounce all, the more we enter into grace and heavenly subsistence; so much the quicker shall we advance.
The further we get away from a place, the smaller the same appears to us — the nearer we come to it, the larger. So even the further we hasten away from the world and deny it, the smaller it will become in our eyes; the nearer we come to the City of God, the larger and more glorious will it become to us. To whomsoever the world is yet very great in his eyes and heart, he must be very near to it, or perhaps even in it yet; he will have seen nothing yet of heavenly things, they will appear to him very mean and small. It goes up hill: Up, advance! To turn aside into external vanities, is going down hill and turning back — but to turn into the interior, to collect one self is climbing up the hill.
With the good we have done, with the gifts we have received, the sweet sensations, knowledge and mysteries, we must not settle down again in rest. God sometimes, when we want to rest in our own strength, uses to deprive us of all, that he may bring us further. We are led into the desert. The substance, the kernel, we keep, but we know it hardly — the worldliness as a coarse shell is stripped off. So we go out from ourselves, and enter into the house of our lover; We pass, like small children over into eternity.
O! that we had lost all, even ourselves, that is the highest lesson. He only shows Christ, who is entirely gone out from himself, who cordially hates the notions, power, lusts and advice of the flesh, and says; Jesus only is my light.
(A) Self-deception in sanctification.
It is a self-deception; 1st, to put our sanctity in external things. To perform external good works, is by no means rejected, it is commended by God, and is necessary, but not sufficient. One may be inwardly a rogue for all that, without true grace and communion with Jesus, St. Mat. vii, 22, 23.
2nd, To want to have the good only inwardly, and not evince it outwardly, is also a deception.
3rd, To lay down the sanctity of life (without expiation and justification) as a foundation, and to want to sanctity ourselves, is an evidence that we have not counted thee cost, or, that besides Christ, we will depend upon our own works, and not upon grace only.
It is a self-deception, 4th, If we place sanctity in sweet sensations, but at the same time will not surrender the own-life, obstinacy and willfulness.
5th, We likewise deceive ourselves, when we think we are perfect, that the old man is quite dead, that we are quite pure. The first purification of dead works and prevailing sins is; pre-supposed in conversion, Heb. ix. This certainly must be first completed; but the second purification of the faults, weaknesses, impurities must proceed daily; and they only experience it, who walk in the light, 1 John iv, 7. The daily crucifixion, the drowning of the old man, the daily coming forth of the new man, must never cease.
It is further self-deception, 6th, When we demand much of others, lay burdens upon them, but we ourselves do not touch them with a finger. Many an one requires always love from others, they shall love him, show him kindness, but he himself will show no love.
7th, To be very exact in trifles, but indulge in coarser things, that is as much as choke with gnats and swallow camels. We see many souls in whom is a great deal of good, but also so much selfishness, so much that lives yet in them, and it looks so unbroken and unfinished, that we do not know what to think of it. Lord melt and purify us poor children and worms! prune each vine that it may bring more fruit.
(B) By What souls detain themselves on the way to sanctification.
1st. Souls detain themselves — If after having obtained
grace, they look too much upon the particular conduct of others, or fall in love with their gifts, and want to regulate themselves according to them, or else are offended at their faults, whereby they may easily be moved out of their guidance and grace, and lose their gifts. There are many gifts and offices, but there is but one spirit. — Be contented with your station, and be faithful therein.
2nd, Souls detain themselves, if they withdraw themselves from the general guidance of grace, whereby all the conciliated are introduced into the communion of the cross and death, if they will rather retain their singularities, and will not, renounce all own choice and give themselves up entirely to the guidance of grace.
3rd, Own detention in sanctification is, if they will not renounce all what is worldly, then they hang and stick now in this, and then in another thorn-bush, and worldly care, and perhaps tear their beautiful garments.
4th, To this belongs also, when souls at the least change or beginning of sanctification, become confident and want to rest therein. They look more upon it, how far they are already, then how they shall get further — they have hardly entered upon their journey, and think they are already at the end.
5th, All false rests, also detain the pilgrims. A false rest is, if we stop at anything (let it be what it will) in selfishness; a true rest is a refreshment to hurry on to the last goal.
(C) To what persons the sanctification, renunciation, and renovation becomes difficult, and from what causes?
1st, The sanctification, renunciation and renovation becomes difficult to all who do not take all their strength from the free grace and living knowledge of Christ, but take and venture it upon their own strength. But those venture it upon their own strength, who suffer themselves to be led away from mercy. These are sick pilgrims, are not fit for traveling and must give out.
2nd, Sanctification likewise becomes difficult to those who meddle with dissipations, and burden themselves with many and various things, without any necessity, and out of secret self-love, self-desire and self interest. If a traveller has overloaded himself, it is difficult for him to get forward, and many stop, entirely.
3rd, Not less difficult, does sanctification become to those, who suffer themselves to be entirely struck down by their faults, and if they fall, will never get up again, who bear about their sins, which nevertheless the Lamb of God has borne already, and plague themselves with diseases, which his blood can cure. Let us lay aside the sin which doth so easily beset us, Heb. xii, I.
4th, Those also, get along with difficulty, who do not feed themselves daily with the sweet gospel. A pilgrim who does not refresh himself with meat and drink, will soon be tired out. Observe the word of God is a staff for the Zion Pilgrims, Ps. ii, 3, 4. Whoever has not got that with him, and not lean upon it constantly in walking, will never come to the end of the way.
5th, Those that venture upon various bye-ways, and do not remain constantly in the way of true simplicity in Christ, in which the simple ones cannot err; such as turn aside unto the crooked ways, the Lord shall lead forth with the workers of iniquity, Ps. cxxv, 5.
6th, Those who go sometimes forward and sometimes backward, will never finish their course, nor attain the end of faith.
7th, Finally every thing becomes difficult to those, who are so tender in their christianism, that they will suffer or bear nothing, who are frightened by the difficulties of the road, and detained in their progress. All such difficulties, which man creates to himself, are all stones and obstacles, and occasion finally.
(D) Lassitude and weariness to the Zion Pilgrim; on the way of sanctification, and of the great injury arising therefrom.
It is a lassitude and weariness, if the Zion pilgrim either gets entirely tired out on his way, quite leaves off from prayer, from hearing of the word, renunciation of the world, and his attempts for heaven, and gives it up as one that can go no further — And shows himself therefore weary, so that you may observe even externally in him, that all inclination and eagerness for goodness is gone.
This lassitude originates partly from the same cause, of which it has been already said, that they render the way difficult — but partly and principally out of the many and long continued own endeavors. This seems to be a contradiction, but nevertheless, they are nearly connected.
Own endeavors are (a) when we outstrip grace, undertake things which are not fit for our present state of the soul and spiritual age; we undertake great things, that are too high for us, we loose ourselves amongst dangerous heights and cliffs; we teach others though we ought to learn first ourselves. We want to be busy, when we ought quietly to suck the breasts of the gospel, like in the parable, youths and boys run, climb and undertake other things, for which they have neither vocation nor sense, nor permission, nor strength; of these it may be properly said—See youths fall and the boys get weary, Isa. xl, 30. Own endeavors (b) originate from the yet remaining unextinguished own life and own boldness, we seek our own honor, satisfaction or interest by it. We are at the same time without inclination, guidance or strength of grace, (c) because it is done without a full surrender to grace, according to own will, it is therefore full of trouble, if it does not go as we wish it. (d) Because we do not hang on to guidance of of grace, we are full of false reasonings and scruples, which is not necessary under the guidance of grace. (e) The own working makes us proud and full of vain imaginations; in the beginning it is pleasant, but afterwards it leaves a kind of lassitude. I know some who were not quite without grace, who ran so eagerly, awakened others, and were in their own eyes already, far above their teachers, and who afterwards fell off in such a manner, and became so indifferent, that it was really astonishing. Others, who wish to avoid the own working and go over quietly, get into a false calm, sit down upon the old sediment, and thereby fall into spiritual lassitude and laziness. It is particularly to be observed that under the guidance of faith, we are only quieted from own workings, self-interest, and the exterior business and noise, but we suffer ourselves to be drawn forth by grace powerfully and in great earnestness.
The injury occasioned by lassitude is, 1st, That we get no further, while others advance. 2nd, That we fall easily back — Lassitude is frequently the beginning of a relapse. 3rd, All former struggling and groaning is therefore in vain; those who rest frequently by the way, come home either late or never.
Advantages for all that have been pardoned for the completion of their justification.
The advantages at the progress in grace are the following, 1st, Faithfully to apply every present grace, and not to reject the smallest one — not to stop at the greatest, but to use the same to go forward.
2nd, To pul off the sin which makes us backward after justification, as well as after sanctification: (a) after justification; that we should not carry it about in unbelief, as if the same had not been forgiven to us: (b) After sanctification, that we do not enter the same willfully, but get cured of it.
3rd, Not to give way to lassitude nor indifference, nor to own application, but hasten forward in quiet resignation.
4th, To renounce our own life and venture every thing in faith.
5th, To look up constantly to the crucified Saviour, which will give us wings, Heb, xii, 2 — Isa. xl, 30.
6th, To found ourselves upon no works, but upon grace.
7th, To consider the example of the martyrs, as a number of witnesses, and not suffer ourselves to be brought back either by swords or boiling oil.
8th, Upon each struggle follows a calm, and upon each calm a fresh struggle. This we should observe, and make use thereof.
9th, To have eternity always before our eyes and hasten towards it.
I renounce the world and follow the Lamb. Amen!