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true believers, calling them elect and fanctified, &c. And the Apostle St Paul writes in the same style in his epistles to the churches : Not that all in these churches were such indeed, but because they professed to be such, and by that their profession and calling as Christians, they were obliged to be such; and as many of them as were in any measure true to that their calling and profession, were really such. Befides, it would seem not unworthy of consideration, that in all probability there would be fewer false Chriftians, and the number of true believers usually greater, in the chuches in those primitive times, than now in the best reformed churches : Because there could not then be many of them that were from their infancy bred in the Christian faith, but for the greatest part were such, as, being of years of discretion, were, by the hearing of the gospel, converted from Paganism and Judaism to the Christian religion first, and made a deliberate choice of it, to which there were at that time no great outward encouragements; and therefore the less danger of multitudes of hypocrites, which, as vermin in summer, breed most in the time of the church's prosperity. Though no nation or kingdom had then universally received the faith, but rather hated and persecuted it; yet were there even then amongit them, as the writings of the Apostles teftify, false brethren, and inordinate walkers, and men of corrupt minds earthly minded, and led with a spirit of envy and contention, and vain glory.
Although the question that is moved concerning the necessary qualifications of all the members of a true visible church, can no way, as I conceive, be decided from the inscriptions of the epistles; yet certainly they are useful to teach Christians and Christian churches what they ought to be, and what their holy profession requires of them, and sharply to reprove the gross unlikeness and inconformity that is in the most part of men, to the description of Christians. As there be some that are too strait in their judgment
concerning the being and nature of the visible church, so certainly the greatest part of churches are too loose: in their practice.
From the diffimilitude betwixt our churches and those, we may make this use of reproof, that if an apoftolical epiftle were to be directed to us, it ought to be inscribed, To the ignorant, profane, malicious, &c. As he, who at the hearing of the gospel read, said, “ Either this is not the gospel or we are not “ Christians ;" fo either these characters, given in the inscription of these epistles, are not true characters, or we are not true Chriftians.
Ver. 3. Elect, according to the foreknowledge of God
the Father, through fanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.
N this verse we have their condition, and the causes,
of it. Their condition, sanctified, and justified ; the former expressed by obedience, the latter by sprinkling of the blood of Christ. The causes, l. Eternal election, 2. The execution of that decree, their effectual calling, which, I conceive, is meant by election here, the selecting them out of the world, and joining them to the fellowship of the children of God; so John xv. 19.
The former election is particularly afcribed to God the Father, the latter, to the Holy Spirit, and the blood of Jesus Christ the Son of God is here the cause of their juftification ; and so the whole Trinity concurring, dignify them with this their spiritual and happy estate.
First, I shall discourse of these separately, and then of their connection. 1. Of the state itself; and first of justification, though named last.
This sprinkling has respect to the rite of the legal purification by the sprinkling of blood, and that appofitely; for these rites of sprinkling and blood, did all point out this blood and this sprinkling, and exVol. I. D
hibited this true ransom of fouls, which was only fhadowed by them.
As the use and end of sprinkling was purification and expiation, because fin merited death, and the pollutions and stains of huinan nature were by fin; such is the pollution, that it can be no manner of way washed off but by blood, Heb. ix. 22. Neither is there any blood able to purge from fin, except the must precious blood of Jesus Christ, which is called the blood of God, Acts xx. 28.
That the stain of fin can only be washed off by blood, intimates, that it merits death. And that no blood, but that of the Son of God, can do it, intimates, that this itain merits eternal death ; and it had been our portion, except the death of the eternal Lord of Life had freed us from it.
Filthiness needs sprinkling ; Guiltiness, such as deserves death, needs sprinkling of blood; and the death it deserves being everlasting death, the blood must be the blood of Chrift, the eternal Lord of Life dying to free us from the sentence of death.
The soul (as the body) hath its life, its health, its purity; and the contrary of these, its death, diseases, deformities, and impurity, which belong to it as to their first subject, and to the body by participation.
'The soul and body of all mankind is stained by the pollution of fin. The impure leprosy of the soul is not a spot outwardly, but wholly inward; hence as the corporal leprosy was purified by the sprinkling of blood, so is this. Then by reflecting, we see how all this that the Aposțle St Peter expresseth, is necessary to justification : 1. Christ the Mediator betwixt God and map is God and man. 2. A Mediator not only interceding, but also satisfying, Eph. ii 16. 3. This satisfaction doth not reconcile us, unless it be applied. Therefore there is not only mention of blood, but the Sprinkling of it. The Spirit by faith sprinkleth the foul, as with hyssop, wherewith the sprinkling was made: This is it of which the Prophet speaks, Isa. lii. 15. So pall he sprinkle many nations. And which the Apostle to the Hebrews prefers above all legal sprinklings, chap. ix. 12, 13, 14. both as to its duration, and as to the excellency of its effects.
Men are not easily convinced and persuaded of the deep stain of fin; and that no other laver can fetch it out, but the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Some that have moral resolutions of amendment, diflike at least gross fins, and purpose to avoid them, and it is to them cleanness enough to reform in those things; but they consider not what becomes of the guiltiness they have contracted already, and how that Thall be purged, how their natural pollution shall be taken away. Be not deceived in this; it is not a transient figh, or a light word, or a wish of, God forgive me ; no, nor the highest current of repentance, nor that which is the truest evidence of repentance, amendment: it is none of these that purifies in the sight of God, and expiates wrath ; they are all imperfect and stained themselves, cannot stand and answer for themselves, much less be of value to counterpoise the former guilt of fin; the very tears of the purest repentance, unless they be sprinkled with this blood, are impure; all our washings without this are but washings of the blackamoor, it is labour in vain, Jer. ii. 22. Job ix. 30, 31. There is none truly purged by the blood of Christ, that doth not endeavour after pur rity of heart and conversation; but yet it is the blood of Christ by which they are all fair, and there is no spot in them. Here it is said, elect to obedience ; but because that obedience is not perfect, there must be sprinkling of the blood too. There is nothing in religion further out of nature's reach, and out of its liking and believing, than the doctrine of redemption by a Saviour, and a crucified Saviour, by Christ, and by, his blood, first shed on the cross in his suffering, and then sprinkled on the soul by his Spirit. It is eafier to make men sensible of the neceslity of repentance and amendment of life, (though that is very difficult),
than of this purging by the sprinkling of this precious blood. Did we see how needful Christ is to us, we would esteem and love him more.
It is not by the hearing, of Christ, and of his blood in the doctrine of the gospel ; it is not by the sprinkling of water, even that water that is the sign of this blood, without the blood itself, and the sprinkling of it. Many are present where it is sprinkled, and yet have no portion in it. Look to this, that this blood be sprinkled on your souls, that the destroying Angel may pass by you. There is a generation (not some few buta generation) deceived in this ; they are their own deceivers, pure in their own eyes, Prov. xxx. 12. How carnestly doth David pray, Wash me, purge me with hylop? Though bathed in tears, Pfal. vi. 6. that satis. fied not, was thou me. This is the honourable condition of the saints, that they are purified and consecrated unto God by this sprinkling ; yea, have on long white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. There is mention indeed of great tribulation, but there is a double comfort joined with it, 1. They come out of it, that tribulation hath an end. And, 2. They pass from that to glory; for they have on the robe of candidates, long white robes wasbed in the blood of the Lamb, washed white in blood, as for this blood, it is nothing but purity and spotlessness, being stained with no fin; and besides, hath that virtue to take away the stain of fin, where it is sprinkled. My well-beloved is white and rudy, saith the spouse, thus in his death, ruddy by bloodshed, white by innocence, and purity of that blood. - Shall they then that are purged by this blood return to live among the swine, and tumble with them in the puddle? What gross injury is this to theniselves, and to that blood by which they are cleansed? They that are chosen to this Sprinkling, are likewise chosen to obedience; this blood purifieth the heart; yea, this blood purgeth our consciences from dead works to ferve the living God, Heb. ix. 14.