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thing hath failed thereof.” The bringing them into the land of Canaan then was but a type of our bringing into the celestial Canaan now, by our true Jesus. We know while they were in the way, how they did murmur, and distrust the promises. When they looked on at it first, they were afraid, when they saw great cities with strong walls, chariots of iron, and strong and stout people, greater and mightier than they. As if they should have said, how impossible is this to be done, which is enjoined unto us ? Shall we cast out seven nations, taller and mightier than we; having such fenced cities, defended with men like giants, under whom we appear like grasshoppers ? Such servile people would rather have returned again to slavery and bondmen, than to rely on God's promises. Such slothful, distrustful people are we now in our journey unto heaven; every little cross or affliction is like to make us turn back unto Egypt. We object and say, oh, if we wrestled with flesh and blood it were somewhat; or if these and these crosses were not so sharp and so heavy, I could rejoice. But we wrestle with principalities and powers, with strong and potent enemies, invisible, subtle, powerful, &c. What of all this? Were the enemies never so strong, powerful, and many, God hath promised to cast them all out, that there shall not a man stand before us, as we see the Lord performed unto Joshua, beating all down before him. So it is the Lord that fights for us, and in us, and we overcome by his strength, and the power of his might.
Let us not then provoke the Lord unto anger, and perish as such have done. See with whom was he angry, and who were they who provoked him to wrath”. Whose carcases fell in the wilderness ? Even such who believed not his words.
He was grieved with a faithless people, who forgot all his wonders, and longed rather to return again to Egypt, than believe in God. If you look', you shall find what their sin was : they murmured against Moses, and chode with him ; whence the place was named Massah and Meribah, that is, temptation and chiding. Mark their sin how foul and detestable it was. When for a little season they had not meat and drink (a thing profane men delight most in) in outward things, they then begin to doubt, and make question, saying, is God among us, or not?
9 Heb. chap. 3. ver. 17.
' Exod. chap. 17. ver. 7.
This sin is not only peculiar to them, but even so it is with ourselves; we sin deeply this way. If God dandle us on his lap, give us plenty of outward things, freedom from crosses, health, &c., we can rejoice and trust in God; but if once the sunshine of his face be but a little eclipsed, that he withdraw his hand, pinch us a little, and make us feel the rod; then, like unto them we are ready to question God's love, and to say, is God among us or not? doth he love me? did he ever love me, &c. Let the conclusion of all this be; since God is truth; since his word is truth, and since he hath promised to be with us, and help us in all estates; let us wait and trust in him, and lay claim unto his promises, as the Prophet David did, “ Remembers the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope." So we must put God in mind of his word, of his truth, and of our waiting in expectation thereof.
Now I come to the second part: What this liberty is ?
This liberty by our Saviour Christ is expounded to be spiritual. The Jews we see, were carnal, and so wrested all Christ's sayings unto the outward sense of the letter; as when Christ did instruct Nicodemus in the mystery of regeneration, he understood it grossly, and so replied, “How can a man be born, when he is old ? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born ?" And so when he told them, “ Except" ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” And when he showed them, that he was that living bread which came down from heaven, they strove among themselves, saying, “ How can this man give us his flesh to eat ?" And here, when he speaks to them of the truth, telling them that the truth should make them free, they mistake him, and dreaming far wide of the matter, make him this reply; “ we are
s Psalm 119, ver. 49.
i John, chap. 3. ver. 4.
Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage unto any man, how sayest thou, ye shall be made free ?” We know for all this, they had often been formerly in bondage unto other nations, and were at this time in thraldom under the Romans, and yet they bray of their freedom. You shall ever have the most slavish and proudest men brag most. Now, Christ shows them, that whosoever commits sin, is the servant of sin. This is their servitude ; and that their freedom, when the truth shall make them free. 2. They bragged much of their father Abraham. He tells them, they are of their father the Devil. Here is a natural man's descent, let them brag, and say of themselves what they will. After all this he shows the extent of their freedom. “ Verily', verily I say unto you, if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.” So he shows what our liberty is, and that thereby he means a spiritual freedom purchased unto us, out of bondage ; yea out of death the last of bondages, by our Saviour Christ, to walk in the light of life. First then let us see their bondage, who have not this truth remaining in them. Whence we observe, until the Son do make us free, we remain in bondage and spiritual thraldom.
The apostle to Galatians, in setting down both covenants and states, doth clear this, both which are set down by an allegory. “ The one from Mount Sinai, which gendereth unto bondage, which is Agar; for this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem, which now is; and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem, which is above, is free, which is the mother of us all.” So that, before a man be the child of the heavenly Jerusalem, to wit, a member of Christ's body, new born, a child of Mount Zion, &c.; Hagar is in bondage with her children ; and such are bondslaves till they be freed by the son. He that is not born again, and hath (not]' a new life infused into him, he [not] being in Christ (nor] Christ in him, he is in bondage, like Hagar and her children ; yea as yet, fast tied in the chains and fetters of miserable servitude. Many think this to be a paradox, but we have Christ's word for it, “ He who
* John, chap. 8. ver. 51.
y The bracketed words are not in MS.
sins is the servant of sin.” The worldlings think this to be the only freedom, when a man may run out in riot and excess, to do what he will; and a man who fears, and dares do nothing without a warrant, him they think to be in bondage and thraldom. And therefore they say, as it is Psal. 2, “Let’us break their bonds asunder and cast away their cords from us.” They consider not that Christ's service is the only freedom. Yet for all this, they are but bondmen all this while. “ Hisa own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sin.” If nothing else should, yet every new sin is as a cord to bind a man. That even as Nebuchadnezzar commands the mightiest men in his army, to bind the three children'; so sins fetter us as fast as may be, every sin being a new rope to bind men, and cast them into hell-fire. To this effect the Church hath power to bind and loose sin; how? By telling them that their sins are loosed, being freemen in the state of grace, which shows, that formerly such were bound, though they think not so, nor see it. And he saith, • Knowd you not that to whom you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are, whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness ?” So that here the apostle shows, there is no bondage beyond the forcible bondage of sin, no thraldom comparable to that. It is as though the apostle had said, Have you no understanding to see what bondage and liberty is ? Is there any question to be made, but if a man obey sin, and the lusts thereof, he is kept in bondage thereof? You may read to this effect, what the apostle Peter writes of such men, “ that while they promise others liberty, they themselves are the servants of sin for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” So that man who is overcome with every sin, he is not free, but a slave bound in the chains of sin ; every sin is as a chain, or a bond, to tie him faster and faster.
That I may go further. These men perhaps care not to
z Psalm 2. ver. 3.
• Prov. chap. 5. ver. 22.
be slaves of sin, but scorn one should think these bonds unto them. But in the second place, such, who thus are slaves to sin, become thereby slaves to the Devil. I am persuaded, if men did know whose work they were a doing, they would be ashamed to be rowing in the Devil's galleys; that they would repine against such a master. Wicked men in their actions, are doing the Devil service; Satan doth tie them, and imprison them; as it is written, “Behold the Devil shall cast some of you into prison, that you may be tried.” Doth the Devil cast ministers in prison ? Why, what doth Satan? he appears not ? Yes, he casts them in prison : Satan doth it, when men do follow the stream of their own wicked passions and lusts for revenge, or any other cause. They do the Devil's work, he maketh them his drudges, to do whatsoever it pleaseth him. This is woful, to be a slave to the worst of all tyrants, who delights to overthrow his servants, yea all the creatures of God, if he might.
Is this all ? No; for as his service is, so is his reward. He is a murderer from the beginning. As he said to Eve at the beginning, “ Fear not, you shall not die;" so he deals with Christians now. First he draws them on unto sin, saying, what fear you ? these men are too strict, and precise, whom you desire to imitate ; there is not so much ado for heaven as you think ; God is merciful. And then, when men are thus deceived, he turns a tormentor, and murderer unto them; which is the reward of his service. Then he shows them (as the apostle speaks) “ Thath the wages of sin is death.” And will not sin have his wages paid him? The apostle James shows, how the hire of the labourers, who had reaped down their fields, kept back of them by fraudi, crieth, and the cries of them which had reaped, are entered into the ears of the Lord of Saboth. So I may say, sin, it cries for wages, and this cry, like the blood of Abel, cries for vengeance; so that if there be not a cry which is stronger than this, which speaks better things than the
" Revel. chap. 2. ver. 10. h Rom. chap. 6. ver. 23.
8 John, chap. 8. ver. 44. i James, chap. 5. ver. 4.