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people? Have you the conversation of his people? God's peculiar people have peculiar mercies; at least, their hearts and spirits are carried out after them: “Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people” (Psalm cvi. 4). Common mercies will not serve their turn; but they must have renewing and sanctifying mercies, and special pledges of his love: not increase of estate, honour, or esteem in the world, these are not things their hearts run upon; but, “Lord, the favour of thy people ;' or, “Be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name” (Psalm cxix. 132). There is a goodness which God vouchsafeth to all his creatures: to the men of the world, he gives a plentiful portion, “their bellies are filled with thy hid treasure ;" but, “Lord, let me have the comforts of thy Spirit, the manifestations of thy love and good will to my soul in Christ Jesus.' As Luther said and protested, God should not put him off with gold nor with honours; he must have his grace, his Christ, his Spirit; Valde protestatus sum me nolle his satiari.
If you have such peculiar spirits, your hearts would be carried out after these distinguishing mercies. A man may have common mercies and go to Hell, and be cast away; but God's peculiar people have peculiar mercies; then they will not be contented with a common conversation : “ If ye love them which love you, &c., what do ye more than others ?" (Matt. v. 46, 47.) There is Ti Teplogòv, something over and above, that should be seen in a Christian's life. It is a fault, Ye “ walk as men" (1 Cor. iii. 3). In the new creature, there should be something more excellent. God's peculiar people, as there is a difference between them and others in point of privileges, so also in point of conversation; they should live at a higher rate, more heavenly, meek, mortified, more charitable, than others. Christians should walk so as to convince the world, and make them wonder at the beauty, majesty, and strictness of their lives. You harden carnal men, when you profess yourselves to be God's peculiar people, and there is no difference between you and others.
3. Doth your resignation appear in your living and acting for God? Is “ holiness" written in visible characters upon all you do? (Zech, xiv, 20.) The impress of God is upon his people, it is upon the horse-bells, upon all the pots of Jerusalem; it is upon all they have, all they enjoy, “ Holiness unto the Lord.” They spend their time as being dedicated to God; they spend their estates as being dedicated to God. Do you use yourselves as those that are Christ's, improving your time, relations, talents, interests, for his glory? This may be discovered-partly, by checking temptations upon this account: “Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot ?" (1 Cor. vi. 15.) This body is Christ's, and therefore must be kept in sanctification and in honour; this time I mispend, this estate, is Christ's; and so you dare not give way to the folly and sin with which others are transported; for you look upon all that you have as Christ's, and so also are all your contrivances and projects for God's glory; you will be casting about how you may honour Christ by your estate, and relations, and everything you have. “Grant sme mercy in the sight of this man; for I was the king's cup-bearer" (Neh. i. 11); that is, he was considering what use he might make of this authority and esteem which he had with the king of Babylon, and what use he might make of it for God : God hath advanced me to such honour and place, what honour hath God had? Look, as David, “ I dwell in a
house of cedar, but the ark of God dwelleth within curtains” (2 Sam. vii. 2). Here the Lord hath abundantly provided for me, but what have I done for God? When you are in all things seeking the things of God, and laying out yourselves for the glory of God; and, if God needs any. thing that is yours, you freely and willingly part with it.
USE II.—To persuade us to resign up ourselves to God, and to live as those that are God's.
First, To resign up ourselves to God: “One shall say, I am the Lord's ; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel” (Isa. xliv. 5). Come and subscribe to the God of Jacob, give it under hand and seal, enter your names in his muster-roll, that you are one of his subjects and servants. Motives are these :
1. You owe yourselves to God, and therefore should give up yourselves to him: “ Thou owest unto me even thine own self” (Philemon 19). It is true, with respect to God, thou owest all that thou hast to him, thou hast nothing but what he gave thee first. God calls it a gift, “My son, give me thy heart;' but it is indeed a debt, for God gave it; not to dispossess himself, and divest himself, but gave it for his use and service. He gave you yourselves to yourselves, as a man gives an estate to a factor to trade with, or as a husbandman scatters his seed upon the ground, not to bury it there, but expecting a crop from thence : so God scatters his gifts abroad in the world, gives life, and all things; not to establish a dominion in thy person, but only a stewardship, and a course of service. Hast thou life? Man is not dominus vitæ, but custos ; not lord of his life, but only the guardian and keeper for God. Now, what is said of life, is true of estates, and all things else; there is no proper dominion we have.
2. God offers himself to thee, and therefore it is but reasonable thou give up thyself to God. In the covenant there is a mutual engaging between God and the creature to be each other's, according to their several capacities : “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” The great God, quantus quantus est, totus noster est ; as great as he is, he becomes ours, all in him ours; his wisdom, power, strength, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is our everlasting portion. God the Father will be our portion for ever; he will give his Son to be our redeemer, and his Spirit to be our guide; all the persons, with all their power and strength, are engaged for our use. Look, as when Jehoshaphat made a league with the king of Israel, this was the manner of it : “I am as thou art, my people as thy people, my horses as thy horses” (1 Kings xxii. 4); they mutually made over their strength one to another; so, when God offereth to make over himself to us, this is the tenor, I will be for thee, and thou shalt be for me' (Hos. jï. 3). He makes over himself, with all that is his. Now, when God offers to make over himself to us, and all that belongs to him to our use, his strength, power, and love, shall we stand demurring upon so blessed a contract, and not give up ourselves to the Lord? God, that needs us not, will engage himself to us to be for us, if we will be for him. Oh! then, let us resign up ourselves, and put ourselves under the power and sovereignty of God.
3. You never enjoy yourselves so much as when you give up yourselves to God; it is not your loss, but your gain ; it is a kind of receiving; for you give up yourselves to become his people, to be sanctified, to be preserved by his grace, and governed by his Spirit ; and all these are privileges, they are rather a gift for us. For a beggar to give up herself to match with a prince, she gets by giving; you give up your hearts to God to be better. Other things that are dedicated to God, are only altered in their use, as gold and silver dedicated to the sanctuary; but, when a man is given to God, he is altered in his nature, he is governed and fitted for God's use. If there be any pretence of loss, it is this, a right or power to live according to your own will. Ay, but that you never had by virtue of your creation : you are bound to live according to the will of God: God's precepts they bind as a law, where they are not received as a cove. nant; and therefore you have no power to dispose of yourselves; you are God's, whether you give up yourselves to him or not. When you consider how much you gain, you are interested in all the privileges of the Lord's grace; it not only establisheth your duty, but your comfort and encouragement. If there were nothing but this free leave to go to God in all our straits and dangers, “I am thine, save me;" this were a benefit not to be valued. If God be yours, you may expect salvation, temporal, eternal; therefore the benefit of this gift is not God's, but ours; you give up yourselves, not to bring aught to God, but receive from God.
4. You cannot give other things to him, unless you give up yourselves to him. It is rendered as a reason of their forwardness in a good work, they “ first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God" (2 Cor. viii. 5). When a man hath given himself to God, all things else will succeed more easily in the spiritual life; as for a woman and man in the conjugal relation, they are easily kind one to another, when they have bestowed themselves one upon another; as Quintus Fabius Maximus, answering to the ambassador that offered him gold, that it was not the fashion of the Romans to have gold under their power, but they were under a power that were owners and possessors of their gold. Apply it, the first thing God looks after is the person.
5. It is your honour to be in relation to God, therefore give up yourselves: “O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid” (Psalm cxvi. 16). He repeats it thrice, as if he were wonderfully pleased with the relation. Mean offices about a prince are accounted honourable in the world; so to be in the meanest degree of service about God, it is a great honour; therefore give up yourselves to God.
Secondly, Live as those that are God's. The first thing we should do, is to determine whose we are, then to make good that relation. You are not your own, that is clear (1 Cor. vi. 19); therefore not to live to your own will, your own ends, your own interest. All the disorder that is in the world, it comes from a man's looking upon himself as his own: “Our lips are our own" (Psalm xii. 4); and therefore they take the liberty to speak what they please. And saith Nabal, ‘My bread and my wine.' When we are so eager to establish our own dominion and propriety, then we miscarry. As Bernard saith, Horreo quicunque de meo ut sim meus ; we should be in utter detestation of living to ourselves, and rather be God's bondmen than our own freemen.
And as they are not their own, so not the world's : “Because ye are not of the world, &c., therefore the world hateth you” (John xv. 19). The world hates the godly, because they have other principles and other ends; you should not conform to the world in judgment or practices, for you are not of the world; you are not of the flesh: “ We are debtors, not to the flesh ” (Rom. viii. 12); therefore this should not be your care and study, to pamper and please the flesh. You are not Satan's, for you are taken out of his power (Col. i. 13). Whose are you? You are the Lord's; therefore your business should be to please God, and honour God. It is easy to say, “I am thine ;” do we make it good in our practice? This may be known two ways:
1. When we make his glory to be the scope of our lives: “To me to live, is Christ” (Phil. i. 21); that is my business and employment, not to seek my own things, but the things of Christ Jesus. Do you give up yourselves to be governed and ordered by his Spirit, acting and living for his glory?
2. When we walk so as God may own us with honour; take his law for our rule, as well as to fix his glory for our scope. Exod. xxxii. 7, saith God to Moses, “ Thy people, which thou broughtest up out of the land of Egypt:" “ thy people;" God would not own them, when they had corrupted their ways. We would say to God, Lord, I am thine;' but, alas ! we act not as the Lord's, but as if we were the flesh's; as if we were Satan's, and lust's, and passion's, and anger's; by those cursed influences are we acted and swayed in our conversations.
It is as sweet an argument, and as forcible a reason, as you can use to God in prayer, to say, “Lord, I am thine;' if we could use it in good conscience, saith Chrysostom. All men are so, but how few can thus speak to God; for, saith he, “ His servants ye are to whom you obey;" and the servant of sin lieth, when he saith, “I am thine.” Alas! to most every kind of sin may say, 'Thou art mine;' lust, and covetousness, and ambition may challenge us. It is not words, but affections and actions, that must prove us to be the Lord's; then we are his, when we seek to please him in all things. Judas was Christ's in profession, but the Devil's in affection. David saith, “I am thine," but presently adds, “I have sought thy precepts," I endeavour to do thy will. Oh! then, live not as your own, or Satan's, and the flesh's, but as the Lord's.
Let us come to the ground of his plea, “Save me.” David doth not say, 'Thou art mine, save me;' but, “I am thine.” These two are correlates; he that speaks the one, speaks both: if we be God's, God is ours; “I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine;" and yet David saith, “I am thine," but doth not say, “Thou art mine,' for four reasons :
1. Because this is first in our apprehension : we know God to be ours, by giving up ourselves to be his. His choice and election of us, that is a secret, till it be evidenced by our choice of him, till we choose him for our portion. Well then, a believer cannot always say God is his; but a believer is always resolved to be the Lord's, by his own choice and dedication : they resolve to be his, and not their own. Though you cannot discern your election, that God hath chosen you, yet it is comfortable to renew your resignation of yourselves to God. Resignation, that is our act, and is more sensible to conscience than God's election : 'Lord, I have none in Heaven but thee, and whom do I desire in comparison of thee?' God will not refuse such a soul, that is thus willing to tack himself upon God, will not be put off; “I am thine.” As the Campani, when they begged the Romans to help them, and they refused, they came and gave themselves and their whole estates to be vassals to the Romans, with this plea, “If you will not defend us as your allies, defend us as your subjects.' Thus a gracious soul will tack himself upon God, and will not be put off: “I will not be my own, but thine.'
2. “I am thine :” he saith so, because this was the best check to the present temptation. David was then in fear of his life, when he spoke this, when the wicked lay in wait to destroy him (verse 95). They wanted neither malice nor power to do it ; then saith David, “I am thine." In afflictions, God seems to break down the hedge, and lay his people open, in common with others, to the fury of the judgment that is then upon them. In regard of God's outward dealings, little appearance different between us and them; but then we must say, “Lord, I am thine;' though involved in the same judgment, yet, ‘Lord, thou canst put a difference ; “I am thine."' “ The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Peter ii. 9), how to put a distinction and difference between his own and others; so that our distinct interest, “I am thine," it is a relief to the soul.
3. Saints observe a difference when they speak to God, and when they plead with their own hearts. When they speak to God, then they mention their own resignation, 'Lord, I am thine;' but, when they would revive their own drooping souls, then they say, 'God is mine.' Compare the text with Psalm xlii. 11, “ Why art thou cast down, O my soul," &c. He is my God; God is mine, and wilt thou be troubled? But, when they speak to God, “ I am thine ;" so they raise their hearts in a holy confidence. The interest is mutual. In dealing with our own unbelief, it is best to urge our interest in God, "He is mine ;' but, when in prayer, God's interest in us, “Lord, “I am thine."
4. This is the more humbling way to urge our own resignation. See Psalm cxvi. 15, 16, “ Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints ;" then presently, “ O Lord, truly I am thy servant,” &c. God's children may be exposed to hazards alike; but their blood is precious to God. Now, though the world thinketh lightly of their death, yet God doth not think so. How doth David apply this comfort, “Precious in the sight," &c. He doth not say, as the force of the words would seem to carry it, • Lord, I am one of thy saints ;' but, “Lord, I am thy servant;' he takes a more humble title. There is many a man fears and doubts to apply the privileges of God's children, under some higher title ; yet they should apply them in a title suitable to their condition and measure. So did David : he presumeth not to say, 'Thou art mine;' that were a higher challenge, but yet such as God's condescension will warrant him; but he doth aver and assert his own resignation, which is a more dutiful and humble way of confidence. Again, he doth not say, 'I am thus and thus,' but, “ I am thine.” He doth not plead property, or good qualification ; but he pleads God's propriety in him : ‘Lord, I cannot say I am perfect and upright as I should be ; yet “ I am thine."! It is good to own God in the humbling way, and take hold of promises on the dark side; so doth Paul: “ This is a faithful saying,” &c. (1 Tim. i. 15.) As if he had said, · Nay, if that be a faithful saying, then I can put in a plea; I am sinner enough for Christ to save. Thus, by these lower ways of application, we may derive, and take out to ourselves, the comfort of the promises.
DOCTRINE II.—God's interest in his people, is the ground of his care for their safety.
It may be pleaded as a ground of his care for their safety, ‘Lord, “I am thine,” and therefore “save me;" ' this is David's plea in a time of danger. And so Christ, when he was to leave his disciples to the troubles of a furious, opposite world, how doth he plead for them? “ Thine they