John Owen: The Lord’s Day (Hebrews 4)

19. First, the apostle showeth that there was a great work of God, and that finished, for the foundation of the whole. This he had made way for, chap. 3:4, 5, where he both expressly asserts the Son to be God, and shows the analogy that is between the creation of all things and the building of the church,—that is, the works of the old and new creation. As, then, God wrought in the creation of all, so Christ, who is God, wrought in the setting up of this new church-state. And upon his finishing of it he entered into his rest, as God did into his, whereby he limited a certain day of rest unto his people. So he speaks, “There remaineth therefore a sabbatism for the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his works, as God did from his own.” A new day of rest, accommodated unto this new church-state, ariseth from the rest that the Lord Christ entered into upon his ceasing from his works. And as to this day, we may observe,—(1.) That it hath this in common with the former days, that it is a sabbatism, or one day in seven, which that name in the whole Scripture use is limited unto; for this portion of time to be dedicated unto sacred rest, having its foundation in the light and law of nature, was equally to be observed in every state of the church. (2.) That although both the former states of the church had one and the same day, though varied in some ends of it, now the day itself is changed, as belonging to another covenant, and having its foundation in a work of another nature than what they had respect unto. (3.) That the observation of it is suited unto the spiritual state of the church under the gospel, delivered from the bondage frame of spirit wherewith it was observed under the law. And these things must be further confirmed from the context.

20. The foundation of the whole is laid down, verse 10, “For he that hath entered into his rest, is ceased from his works, as God from his own.” Expositors generally apply these words unto believers, and their entering into the rest of God; whether satisfactorily to themselves and others, as to their design, coherence, scope, or signification of particular expressions, I know not. The contrary appears with good evidence to me; for what are the works that believers should be said here to rest from? Their sins, say some; their labours, sorrows, and sufferings, say others. But how can they be said to rest from these works as God rested from his own? for God so rested from his as to take the greatest delight and satisfaction in them,—to be “refreshed” by them: “In six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed,” Exod. 31:17. He so rested from them as that he rested in them and blessed them, and blessed and sanctified the time wherein they were finished. We have showed before that the rest of God was not only a cessation from working, nor principally so, but the satisfaction and complacency that he had in his works. But now if those mentioned be the works here intended, men cannot so rest from them as God did from his; but they cease from them with a detestation of them so far as they are sinful, and joy for their deliverance from them so far as they are sorrowful. This is not to rest as God rested. Again; when are believers supposed to rest from these works? It cannot be in this world: for here we rest not at all from temptations, sufferings, and sorrows; and in that mortification of sin which we attain unto, yet the conflict is still continued, and that with severity, unto death, Rom. 7:24. It must therefore be in heaven that they thus rest; and so it is affirmed accordingly. But this excludes the rest in and of the gospel from the apostle’s discourse, which renders it altogether unsuitable to his purpose. This I have so fully demonstrated in the exposition of the chapter, as that I hope it will not be gainsaid. Thirdly, There is no comparison in the whole discourse between the works of God and the works of men, but between the works of God in the creation and under the law on the one side, and those in and under the gospel on the other; and the whole comparison is summed up and closed in this verse.

21. It appears, therefore, that the subject of the apostle’s proposition in this place hath been mistaken. It is another who is intended, even Christ himself, the Son of God, and his rest from his works, which is here compared with the rest of God from his at the foundation of the world, to which end alone the mention of them was introduced, Heb. 4:3, 4; for,—
(1.) The conjunction γὰρ, “for,” whereby he brings in his assertion, manifests that the apostle in these words gives an account whence it is that there is a new sabbatism remaining for the people of God: “There remaineth a Sabbath-keeping for the people of God; for he that is entered into his rest is ceased from his works.” Had there not been a work laying the foundation of the gospel church-state, and a rest of God in it and ensuing thereon, there could have been no such sabbatism for believers, for these things are required unto a Sabbath. He had proved before that there could be no such rest but what was founded in the works of God, and his rest that ensued thereon; such a foundation, therefore, he saith, this new rest must have, and it hath it. This must be, and is, in the works and rest of him by whom the church was built; that is Christ, who is God, as it is expressly argued, chap. 3:3, 4. For as that rest which all the world was to observe was founded in his works and rest who made the world and all things in it, so the rest of the church under the gospel is to be founded in his works and rest by whom the church was built,—that is Jesus Christ; for he, on the account of his works and rest, is also “Lord of the Sabbath,” to abrogate one day of rest, and to institute another.
(2.) The apostle here changeth the manner of his expression from the plural absolutely, “We who believe,” or virtually in the name of a multitude, “The people of God,” into that which is absolutely singular, Ὁ εἰσελθὼν, “He that is entered.” A single person is here expressed, with respect unto whom the things mentioned are asserted; and of this change of phrase there can be no other reason given.
(3.) The rest which this person is said to enter into is called “his rest” absolutely. As God, speaking of the former rest, calls it “My rest,” so this is the “My rest” of another,—namely, the rest of Christ: whereas when the entering of believers into rest is spoken of, it is called either God’s rest, “They shall enter into my rest,” or rest absolutely, “We that believe do enter into rest,” but not their rest, or our rest; for it is not our own absolutely, but God’s rest whereinto we enter and wherein we rest. But the rest here is the rest of him whose it is, and who is the author of ours.
(4.) There is a direct parallel in the words between the works of the old creation and those of the new, which are compared by the apostle; for,—
[1.] There are the authors of them; which on the one side is said to be God, “As God did from his own,”—that is, God the Creator, or God as Creator; on the other, “He,” αὐτός, the same with οὗτος, chap. 3:3,—that is, he of whom we speak, as the apostle declares himself, chap. 4:13, for in these words a transition is made unto his treating of the person of Christ.
[2.] The works of the one and the other are expressed. The works of the Creator are ἴδια ἔργα, “his proper works,” “his own works,”—the works of the old creation, ὥσπερ ἀπὸ τῶν ἰδίων ὁ Θεὸς. And there are the works of him of whom he speaks, τὰ ἔργα αὐτοῦ, “his works,” those which he wrought in like manner as God did his own at the beginning; that is, the work of building the church: for these works must answer each other, and have the same respect unto their authors. They must be good and complete in their kind, and such as rest and refreshment may be taken in and on them. To compare the sins and sufferings of men with the works of God, our apostle did not intend.
[3.] There is the rest of the one and the other; and these also have their mutual proportion. Now, God rested from his own works of creation,—1st. By ceasing from creating, only continuing all things by his power in their order, and propagating them unto his glory. 2dly. By his respect unto them and refreshment in them, as those which expressed his excellencies and set forth his praise, and so satisfied his glorious design. So also must he rest who is spoken of. 1st. He must cease from working in the like kind of works. He must suffer no more, die no more, but only continue the work of his grace and power in the preservation of the new creature, and the orderly increase and propagation of it by his Spirit. 2dly. He takes delight and satisfaction in the works that he hath wrought; for he sees of the travail of his soul, and is satisfied, and is in the possession of that glory which was set before him whilst he was engaged in this work.

And these things sufficiently clear the subject here spoken of, namely, that it is Jesus Christ, the mediator.

22. The works that the rest mentioned respects have been sufficiently intimated, and I have so fully insisted on them in the exposition of the third and fourth verses of the third chapter of this Epistle, that I shall not here again repeat them. In brief, all that he did and suffered, in and from his incarnation to his resurrection, as the mediator of the covenant, with all the fruits, effects, and consequences of what he so did and suffered, whereby the church was built and the new creation finished, belongs unto these works. His rest that ensued on these works hath two parts;—(1.) A cessation from his works, which was eminent, and answered God’s rest from his own; (2.) Satisfaction in his works, and the glorious product of them, as those which had an impression on them of his love and grace, Ps. 16:7.

23. It remains only that we inquire into his entrance into his rest, both how and when he did so, even as God entered into his on the seventh day; for this must limit and determine a day of rest to the gospel church. Now, this was not his lying down in the grave. His body, indeed, there rested for a while, but that was no part of his mediatory rest, as he was the founder and builder of the church: for,—(1.) It was a part of his humiliation. Not only his death, but his abode and continuance in the state of death, was so, and that a principal part of it; for after the whole human nature was personally united unto the Son of God, to have it brought into a state of dissolution, to have the body and soul separated from each other, was a great humiliation. And every thing of this nature belonged unto his works, and not his rest. (2.) This separation of body and soul under the power of death was penal, a part of the sentence of the law which he underwent; and therefore Peter declares that the pains of death were not loosed but in his resurrection: Acts 2:24, “Whom God,” saith he, “hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.” Whilst he was held of it, he was under it penally. This, therefore, could not be his rest, nor any part of it; nor did he in it enter into his rest, but continued in his work. Nor, secondly, did he first enter into his rest at his ascension. Then, indeed, he took actual possession of his glory, as to the full, public manifestation of it. But to enter into rest is one thing, and to take possession of glory another; and it is placed by our apostle as a consequent of his being “justified in the Spirit” when he entered into rest, 1 Tim. 3:16. But this his entrance into rest was in, by, and at his resurrection from the dead; for,—(1.) Then and therein was he freed from the sentence, power, and stroke of the law, being discharged of all the debts of our sins, which he had undertaken to make satisfaction for, Acts 2:24. (2.) Then and therein were all types, all predictions and prophecies fulfilled, which concern the work of our redemption. (3.) Then, therefore, his work was done,—I mean that which answereth God’s creating work; though he still continues that which answers his work of preservation. Then was the law fulfilled and satisfied, Satan subdued, peace with God made, the price of our redemption paid, the promise of the Spirit received, and the whole foundation of the church of God gloriously laid on his person, in his works and rest. (4.) Then and therein was he “declared to be the Son of God with power,” Rom. 1:4; God manifesting unto all that this was he concerning and unto whom he said, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee,” Acts 13:33.

24. Thus did the author of the new creation, the Son of God, the builder of the church, having finished his works, enter into his rest. And this was, as all know, on the morning of the first day of the week. And hereby did he limit and determine the day for a sacred sabbatical rest under the new testament; for now was the old covenant utterly abolished, and therefore the day which was the pledge of God and man’s rest therein was to be taken away, and was so accordingly, as we have showed. As the rest from the beginning of the world had its foundation from the works of God, and his rest which ensued thereon, which was determined unto the seventh day, because that was the day wherein God ceased from those works, which day was continued under the legal administration of the covenant by Moses; so the rest of the Lord Christ, the Son of God, is the foundation of our rest; which, changing the old covenant and the day annexed unto it, he hath limited unto the first day of the week, whereon he ceased from his works and entered into his rest. And hereby the apostle completes the due analogy that is between the several rests of God and his people, which he hath discoursed of in this chapter. For as in the beginning of the world, there was, first, the work of God and his rest thereon; which made way unto a rest for his people in himself and in his worship, by the contemplation of his works that he had made, on whose finishing he rested; and a day designed, determined, blessed, and sanctified, to express that rest of God,—whence mention is made of those works in the command for the observation of that day, seeing the worship of God in and on it consisted principally in the glorifying of him by and for those works of his, as also to be a means to further men in their entrance into eternal rest, whereunto all these things do tend: and as at the giving of the law there was a great work of God, and his rest thereon, in his establishing his worship in the land of Canaan; which made way for the people’s entering into his rest in that worship and country; who had a day of rest enjoined unto them, to express the one and the other, as also to help them to enter finally into the rest of God: so now, under the gospel, there is a rest answering all these, in and by the instances which we have given.

25. And this is that which the apostle affirms, as the substance of all which he hath evinced, namely, that there is a sabbatism for the people of God, Heb. 4:9, σαββατισμός. The word is framed by our apostle from a Hebrew original, with a Greek termination. And he useth it as that which is comprehensive of his whole sense, which no other word could be; for he would show that there is a sabbatical rest, founded in the rest of God, remaining for the church, and therefore makes use of that word whereby God expressed his own rest when he sanctified the seventh day for a day of rest thereon. That day of rest being removed, and another on a new foundation, namely, the rest of Christ upon his works, introduced, he calls it a “sabbatism,” or a “sabbath-keeping.” He doth not do this only and separately, averring the necessity of a Sabbath observation in the first place, distinctly from a spiritual rest in Christ, with an eternal rest ensuing thereon, but in the manner and order before laid down, wherein the necessity of such a day is included. And besides the evidence that ariseth from the consideration of the whole context, there are two things which make it undeniably evident that our apostle asserts an evangelical Sabbath, or day of rest, to be constantly observed in and for the worship of God under the gospel. For, first, without this design there can be no tolerable reason assigned why he should mention the works of God from the foundation of the world, with his rest that ensued thereon, and refer us to the seventh day, which, without respect unto another day to be introduced, doth greatly involve his whole discourse. Again, his use of this word, σαββατισμός, “a sabbatism,”—which is framed, and as it were coined on purpose, that it might both comprise the spiritual rest aimed at, and also a sabbath-keeping, or observation of a sabbath rest,—manifests his purpose. When he speaks of our rest in general, he still doth it by κατάπαυσις, adding that there was an especial day for its enjoyment. Here he introduceth σαββατισμός, “a sabbatism;” which his way of arguing would not have allowed had he not designed to express the Christian Sabbath. Add hereunto that he subjoins the especial reason of such a day’s observation in the next verse, as we have declared. And here do we fix the foundation and reason of the Lord’s day, or the holy observation of the first day of the week, the obligation of the fourth commandment unto a weekly sacred rest being put off from the seventh day to the first, on the same ground and reason whereon the state of the church is altered from what it was under the law unto what it is now under the gospel. And the covenant itself also is changed; whence the seventh day is now of no more force than the old covenant and the old law of institutions contained in ordinances, because the Lord Christ hath ceased from his works and entered into his rest on the first day.

Owen, J. (1862). An Exposition of the Epistle to the Hebrews. (W. H. Goold, Ed.) (Vol. 19, pp. 416–422). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

Boston: Not All The People of God

That will not, indeed, prove them all to have been the people of God in the sense before given, for the reason here adduced by our author.

Howbeit, the preface to the ten commandments deserves a particular notice, in the matter, of the Sinai transaction, Exod. 20:2, “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Hence it is evident to me, that the covenant of grace was delivered to the Israelites on Mount Sinai. For the Son of God, the messenger of the covenant of grace, spoke these words to a select people, the natural seed of Abraham, typical of his whole spiritual seed. He avoucheth himself to be their God; namely, in virtue of the promise, or covenant made with Abraham, Gen. 17:7, “I will establish my covenant—to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee: and their God, which brought them out of the land of Egypt; according to the promise made to Abraham at the most solemn renewal of the covenant with him, Gen. 15:14, “Afterward shall they come out with great substance.” And he first declares himself their God, and then requires obedience, according to the manner of the covenant with Abraham, Gen. 17:1, “I am the Almighty God (i. e. in the language of the covenant, The almighty God to thee, to make thee for ever blessed through the promised seed) walk thou before me, and be thou perfect.”

But that the covenant of works was also, for special ends, repeated and delivered to the Israelites on Mount Sinai, I cannot refuse, 1. Because of the apostle’s testimony, Gal. 4:24, “These are the two covenants; the one from Mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage.” For the children of this Sinai covenant the apostle here treats of, are excluded from the eternal inheritance, as Ishmael was from Canaan, the type of it, ver. 30, “Cast out the bond-woman and her son; for the son of the bond-woman shall not be heir with the son of the free woman;” but this could never be said of the children of the covenant of grace under any dispensation, though both the law and covenant from Sinai itself, and its children, were even before the coming of Christ under a sentence of exclusion, to be execute on them respectively in due time. 2. The nature of the covenant of works is most expressly in the New Testament brought in, propounded, end explained, from the Mosaical dispensation. The commands of it from Exod. 20 by our blessed Saviour, Matth. 19:17–19, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith onto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit adultery,” &c. The promise of it, Rom. 10:5, “Moses describes the righteousness which is of the law, that the man which doth these things shall live by them.” The commands and promise of it together, see Luke 10:25–28. The terrible sanction of it. Gal. 3:10, “For it is written, (viz. Deut. 27:26,) Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” 3. To this may be added the opposition betwixt the law and grace so frequently inculcated in the New Testament, especially in Paul’s epistles. See one text for all, Gal. 3:12, “And the law is not of faith, but the man that doeth them shall live in them.” 4. The law from Mount Sinai was a covenant, Gal. 4:24, “These are the two covenants, the one from the Mount Sinai;” and such a covenant as had a semblance of disannuling the covenant of grace, Gal. 3:17, “The covenant that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law which was 430 years after, cannot disannul;” yea, such a one as did, in his own nature, bear a method of obtaining the inheritance, so far different from that of the promise, that it was inconsistent with it; “For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise,” Gal. 3:18, wherefore the covenant of the law from Mount Sinai could not be the covenant of grace, unless one will make this last not only a covenant seeming to destroy itself, but really inconsistent; but it was the covenant of works, which indeed had such a semblance, and in its own nature did bear such a method as before noted; howbeit, as Ainsworth says, “The covenant of the law now given could not disannul the covenant of grace.” Gal. 3:17.—Annot. on Exod. 19:1.

Wherefore I conceive the two covenants to have been both delivered on Mount Sinai to the Israelites. First, The covenant of grace made with Abraham, contained in the preface, repeated and promulgate there unto Israel, to be believed and embraced by faith, that they might be saved; to which were annexed the ten commandments, given by the Mediator Christ, the head of the covenant, as a rule of life to his covenant people. Secondly, The covenant of works made with Adam, contained in the same ten commands, delivered with thunderings and lightnings, the meaning of which was afterwards cleared by Moses, describing the righteousness of the law and sanction thereof, repeated and promulgate to the Israelites there, as the original perfect rule of righteousness, to be obeyed; and yet were they no more bound hereby to seek righteousness by the law than the young man was by our Saviour’s saying to him, Mat. 19:17, 18, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments—Thou shalt do no murder,” &c. The latter was a repetition of the former.

Thus there is no confounding of the two covenants of grace and works; but the latter was added to the former as subservient unto it, to turn their eyes towards the promise, or covenant of grace: “God gave it to Abraham by promise. Wherefore then serveth the law? it was added, because of transgressions, till the Seed should come,” Gal. 3:18, 19. So it was unto the promise given to Abraham, that this subservient covenant was added; and that promise we have found in the preface to the ten commands. To it, then, was the subservient covenant, according to the apostle, added, put, or set to, as the word properly signifies. So that it was no part of the covenant of grace, the which was entire to the fathers, before the time that it was set to it; and yet in, to the New Testament church, after that it is taken away from it: for, says the apostle, “It was added till the Seed should come.” Hence it appears, that the covenant of grace was, both in itself, and in God’s intention, the principal part of the Sinai transaction: nevertheless the covenant of works was the most conspicuous part of it, and lay most open to the view of the people.

According to this account of the Sinai transaction, the ten commands, there delivered, must come under a twofold notion or consideration; namely, as the law of Christ, and as the law of works: and this is not strange, if it is considered, that they were twice written on tables of stone, by the Lord himself,—the first tables the work of God, Exod. 32:16, which were broken in pieces, verse 19, called the tables of the covenant, Deut 9:11, 15,—the second tables the work of Moses, the typical Mediator, Exod. 34:1; deposited at first (it would seem) in the tabernacle, mentioned chap, 33:7, afterward, at the rearing of the tabernacle with all its furniture, laid up in the ark within the tabernacle, chap. 25:16; and whether or not some such thing is intimated, by the double accentuation of the decalogue, let the learned determine; but to the ocular inspection it is evident, that the preface to the ten commands, Exod. 20:2, and Deut. 5:6, stands in the original, both as a part of a sentence joined to the first command, and also as an entire sentence separated from it, and shut up by itself.

Upon the whole, one may compare with this the first promulgation of the covenant of grace, by the messenger of the covenant in paradise, Gen. 3:15, and the flaming sword placed there by the same hand, “turning every way to keep the way of the Tree of Life.”

Boston, Works, 7.197

(Boston’s Note on the Marrow of Modern Divinity)

Bradford: Of Heaven and Heavenly Things

O MY soul, lift up thyself above thyself; fly away in the contemplation of heaven and heavenly things; make not thy further abode in this inferior region, where is nothing but travail and trials, and sorrow, and woe, and wretchedness, and sin, and trouble, and fear, and all deceiving and destroying vanities. Bend all thine affections upward unto the superior places where thy Redeemer liveth and reigneth, and where thy joys are laid up in the treasury of his merits which shall be made thy merits, his perfection thy perfection, and his death thy life eternal, and his resurrection thy salvation. Esteem not the trifling pleasures of this life to be the way to this wealth, nor thy ignominious estate here to be any bar to prevent thee from the full use and joyful fruition of the glory there prepared for thee.

I am assured that though I want here, I have riches there; though I hunger here, I shall have fulness there; though I faint here, I shall be refreshed there; and though I be accounted here as a dead man, I shall there live in perpetual glory.

That is the city promised to the captives whom Christ shall make free; that is the kingdom assured to them whom Christ shall crown; there are the joys prepared for them that mourn; there is the light that never shall go out; there is the health that shall never be impaired; there is the glory that shall never be defaced; there is the life that shall taste no death; and there is the portion that passeth all the world’s preferment.

There is the world that never shall wax worse; there is every want supplied freely without money; there is no danger, but happiness, and honour, and singing, and praise, and thanksgiving unto the heavenly Jehovah, “to him that sitteth on the throne,” “to the Lamb” that here was led to the slaughter, that now “reigneth;” with whom I “shall reign” after I have run this comfortless race through this miserable earthly vale.

The honour in this earth is baseness; the riches of this world is poverty; the fulness of this life is want; the joys of this world’s kingdom are sorrow, and woe, and misery, and sadness, and grief. And yet “the fool saith in his heart,” ‘There is no other heaven but this harmful deceiving world’s happiness, no other hell but this world’s bitterness, no better comfort than this world’s cares, no further help than this world’s wealth.’

Thus is man’s wisdom made foolishness, and man’s glory turned into shame, and man’s power made of no force: and the faithful poor that are here despised, they are advanced, the sorrowful are comforted, and the castaways in this world are recei[ved] to this blessed being, that cannot be expressed with the tongue of man, nor conceived with the heart of man.

“O that I had wings,” saith heavenly-hearted David, that I might fly away from this world’s vanities, and possess heaven’s happiness! “O that I were dissolved,” saith blessed Paul, “that I might be with Christ!” O that I were in this place of such wished happiness, where I might rest from those worldly labours, and earthly miseries, and transitory vanities!

But be not heavy, O my soul, though thou must yet wade under the burden of these earthly troubles; for these heavenly mysteries are not seen of carnal eyes, nor can be obtained by carnal means; but through troubles, and afflictions, and dangers, and persecutions, they must be achieved: and none that are God’s elected shall be free from this world’s hatred. For such difference is there between earth and heaven, and between earthly and heavenly things, that whoso delighteth in the first shall be deprived of the latter; for we cannot have this world’s heaven and “the heaven of heavens,” the heaven of saints and angels, and cherubim and seraphim, where are all unspotted and all glorious, and all “in white robes” of sanctity, and where Christ the sacrificed Lamb is unto them “All in all.”

Oh, blessed are all they that are thus assured; blessed are the poor that shall have this heaven’s riches; blessed are the base that shall be thus advanced; blessed are the low that shall be thus raised; and blessed are the world’s despised that shall have this heaven’s happiness; yea, happy is this wretched world’s unhappy man, for he shall be happy.

I will daily meditate of [the] greatness and majesty of this high heaven’s blessed estate, where I shall one day bless my God with the company of his saints; and where I shall one day sit secure and free from the dangers and perils, and crosses, and afflictions, that now do assail me on the right hand and on the left, within me and without me; and am never free from one calamity or another.

But it is good for me to be here humbled, that I may be there advanced where I wish speedily to come: it is good that I were in want here, that I might seek heavenly necessaries: it is good that the world did discourage me, that I might fly to God that comforteth me: it is good that I am daily killed here, that I might live continually.

Now therefore, O my soul, stand up, fear not, faint not at this world’s crosses; but give glory to this great God, praise this high and helping God, seek him “while it is day;” drive not off to pray to this God, notwithstanding any hope thou hast in mortal men, but reject not his gracious means, who, in favour infinite and mercy endless, moveth the hearts of men in this life to do good unto such as he seeth distressed. He can find out and afford infinite means to succour them that are his, and will not leave them forsaken in danger; for he even here giveth me his blessings as pledges of his never-failing love, that, being visited in his mercy with timely comforts here, I may assure me of greater blessings in heaven, where they are prepared beyond all that I can ask or think.
“O Lord God of hosts, who is like unto thee,” who hast “established thy kingdom with truth and equity, with mercy and judgment?” “Thou hast a mighty arm, strong is thine hand, and high is thy right hand:” whoso is under thy protection, he is safe; and “he that trusteth in thee, mercy embraceth him on every side.”

O, blessed art thou, O my soul, if thou canst “rejoice in the Lord.” He is thy Father, he is thy helper: walk therefore “in the light of his countenance,” and be patient; wait in hope till these storms be past: and then shalt thou have that quiet rest that he hath prepared in heaven.
“Lord, increase my faith.”

“Our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, even the Lord Jesus.”*
“If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.”
“Set your affections on things which are above, and not on things which are on the earth.”

Bradford, J. (1848). The Writings of John Bradford. (A. Townsend, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 266–269). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bannerman: Church Power For The Good of It’s People

II. The power of the Church has for its aim and end directly the general benefit and spiritual good of the Church as a body.

That this is the case is very explicitly announced by the Apostle Paul, when speaking of the authority vested in himself as an apostle and an extraordinary office-bearer in the Church: “Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord has given me to edification, and not to destruction.” And what is true of the extraordinary and temporary office of the apostleship which Paul held, and of the power belonging to it, is also true of the permanent and standing office-bearers of the Christian society, and of the ordinary power which they are commissioned to wield. Such power is instituted for the interests and spiritual edification of the whole Church, and not for the advantage of the few who administer it. It is not to create a separate class, or to aggrandize a privileged order in the Christian society, that Church power is given and limited to a few, any more than it is to create a caste, or to benefit a particular order in the civil society, that political power is given and restricted to a few. In the case of the state, the ordinance of power established by God is an ordinance for good not to a small body, but to all within it. The distinction of ranks, the privileges of civil rule, the authority of government, the rights of power, exist not because of the ambitious desires or interests of those invested with office, but because of the necessity of such things to secure the blessings of order, and justice, and peace in the community at large. And so, in the case of the Church, the power which belongs to it exists for the moral and spiritual good of the whole body, and not for the creation of a priestly caste, or for the aggrandizement of a few at the expense of the many. Government exists in the Christian society for the interest as much of the governed as the governors. Office exists for the benefit no less of those who have it not, than of those who have. Power belongs to the state ecclesiastical, not for the ambition or aggrandizement of a Church order, but for the edification and well-being of those who have no place in the Church but as members. Authority is exercised and enforced within the Christian Church, not for the gain of a few, but for the spiritual good of the many. The Church of Christ knows of no spiritual order distinct from the order of Christians,—no priestly caste separated from all others by internal rights and prerogatives peculiar to itself,—no separate interest for the members of which alone power and privilege and authority exist,—no lordly rank, to whom belong mysterious authority and transcendental privileges unknown to the rest.

The Church of Christ confesses to the existence within it of no clergy, as in the Church of Rome, distinguished by indelible “character” and internal powers from the laity or the Christian people. The true clergy of the Church of Christ are, according to the original import of the word, the κληρος, the “lot,” or “possession,” or “heritage” of Christ,—the whole body of His called and chosen people. And in nothing is the spirit of Rome more apparent than in that distinction which she has set up between the clergy and the laity,—between a sacerdotal and profane caste,—between those to whom, according to her Church principles, the power of the Christian society inherently belongs, and those who are appointed to be its slaves or its victims. The very last thing intended by its Divine Head in the institution of office, and authority, and power in His Church, was the creation or aggrandizement of a separate interest or privileged class, who should inherently possess a right to place, and power, and honour, at the expense of the rest. And although, for the sake of order, and for the sake of order alone, some were set apart in the Christian society to office and for the purpose of administering the authority of its government, yet it must never be forgotten that such an arrangement was made not for their sakes, but for the sake of the whole; and that in virtue of being so appointed to administer the power and manage the affairs of the body of Christians, they become all the more the “ministers” or servants of the rest. The spiritual edification of the whole body of believers is the one end and aim of Church power. It knows of no object apart from this. It confesses to no aim of a private and exclusive kind, distinct from the universal good. It is not the gain of a few at the expense of the many. It is not the peculiar prerogative or the peculiar interest of a privileged and separate order, who claim to be the heirs of apostolic power by “apostolic succession.” “Not for that we have dominion,” said an apostle not by succession, “not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy.” “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.”

The direct design and end of Church power is the spiritual edification of the Church,—meaning by the word not a privileged class, but the whole body of the faithful, whatever place or name they may have in the Christian society. For this one object Church power in all its forms and exercises was instituted, and ought to be administered within the Christian society. We can see, indeed, in regard to every department of Church power, whether it regards doctrine, ordinance, or discipline, that it is subservient to this great end, and that it is fitted as well as intended to advance the spiritual interests of the society.

Bannerman, J. (1868). The Church of Christ: a treatise on the nature, powers, ordinances, discipline, and government of the Christian Church (Vol. 1, pp. 252–254). Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

Boston: Partake of This Salvation

That all who partake of this salvation, must partake of it in him, by virtue of union with him: But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, &c. As the stock is stay, strength, and sap to the branches; so is Christ wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, to them that are in him, or unto sinners united to him. The sap of the stock is not conveyed to branches that are not in it: neither is Christ wisdom, &c. to any but those that are in him. He is the Saviour of his body; and we must partake of his salvation as members of his body. In the old world when the deluge came on, some without the ark getting up on the tops of trees or mountains, might be safe for a while; but none but those who were in the ark were safe to the end; so men that are out of Christ may get common temporal favours from the Lord; but none but those in him receive that wisdom, &c. which is the great salvation. The lost world is the first Adam, and the natural branches of that stock. The saved world are such branches as are taken out of that dead and killing stock, and ingrafted into Christ the true vine.

This then is the grand device of salvation, that Christ shall be all to sinners, and that they must partake of all in him; which is quite opposite to our natural imaginations, and exalts the free grace of God, depressing nature. (1.) They do not help themselves, their help is in another: He is made wisdom, &c. (2.) They do not so much as help themselves to their helper; for it is of God, by the power of his grace, that they are brought to be in him. It is not the branch itself, but the husbandman that ingrafts it.

Boston, T. (1848). The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion, Part 2. (S. M‘Millan, Ed.) (Vol. 2, p. 9). Aberdeen: George and Robert King.

Boston: Statements On The Visible/Invisible Church

“An internal and saving adoption, which is peculiar to believers, or those effectually called and converted, which make up the invisible church and family of God on earth, enjoying spiritual privileges, beyond all others without or within the visible church. These are they that are chosen out from the unconverted world lying in wickedness, according to the decree of election, and brought and ingrafted into Christ, and made real members of his body, John 1:12, 13. These God adopts, judicially avouches them to be his sons and daughters, and Satan, their natural father, is obliged to quit his right to them; and they thereby are, and are accounted, no more of his family, but children of God, and have a right to the saving special privileges of the children of his family”(1)

“Sue for this adoption, and for being received into this number; and for this cause come out from among the world lying in wickedness, and be ye separate. There is a feast before as made for the children. It is a sad token for people never to partake of the childrens’ bread, but ever to stand at a distance as strangers to the family: and what concern can there be in the spirits of these for the privileges of God’s invisible family, that have no concern for the privileges of his visible family on earth? On the other hand, it is dangerous to intrude among the children, while one is not of the family; to come in among the children of God at the Lord’s table, while they are not come out from among the children of Satan.”(2)

“The kingdom of his grace, Matth. 6:33. ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God,’ &c. This is yet narrower than any of the former, and comprehends only the invisible church; for it is not an external, but an internal kingdom, in which grace, saving grace, reigns in the hearts of those who belong to it; for, says Christ to his disciples, ‘behold the kingdom of God is within you,’ Luke 17:21.
(1.) The subjects of it are believers, true saints, and they only; and they commence subjects of this kingdom in the day of Christ’s power on their hearts, their new birth-day, Psal. 110:3. Well may it be called a kingdom, for it is a kingdom of Kings, Rev. 1:6 as all the subject of it are ‘made kings unto God’ Out of prison (their natural state) they come to reign over their spiritual enemies.
(2.) The King of it is Christ, dwelling in their hearts, Eph. 3:17; sitting in their hearts as on his throne, and all things else made his footstool, Luke 14:26. The gospel comes with power to the elect souls, Psal. 24:8. The everlasting doors are lifted up, and the King makes his triumphant entry, and receives the crown at his entrance, Cant. 3 ult.”(3)


1. Boston, T. (1848). The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion, Part 1. (S. M‘Millan, Ed.) (Vol. 1, p. 615). Aberdeen: George and Robert King.

2. Ibid. Pg. 623-624

3. Boston, T. (1848). The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion, Part 2. (S. M‘Millan, Ed.) (Vol. 2, pp. 572–573). Aberdeen: George and Robert King.

Prelates, Those Dirty Dogs

It has been a year since I wrote on the Savoy Conference (1661), but I have recently begun a project on the topic. I have been going over old references, and have acquired some new ones along the way. It is interesting to continually read the “good” intentions of the Breda Declaration, but finding out the Savoy conference went so badly. Why, you might ask, did the conference end up achieving no movement? No agreement? No accomplishment? Well, quite frankly, the prelates were a bunch of “dirty dogs”.

In reading Edward Cardwell’s A History of Conferences we take notice that the bishops were advised to “win over” those who had distaste for the Book of Common Prayer. Observed by Dr. Barwick on the 22nd of April in 1660, after receiving a letter, he writes:

The king desires that he [Dr. Morley] and you, and other discreet men of the clergy, should have frequent conferences with those of the Presbyterian party, that, if it be possible, you may reduce them to such a temper as is consistent with the good of the church; and, it may be, it would be no ill expedient to assure them of present good preferments in the church. But, in my own opinion, you should rather endeavor to win over those who, being recovered, will have both reputation and desire to merit from the church, than be over solicitous to comply with the pride and passion of those who propose extravagant things. As what can be said to the divine who is not only so will satisfied with his rebellion, but would require other men to renounce their innocence and justify him, which I am confident no parliament will ever do.1

In his Life (2.121), Lord Clarendon gives his opinion on this matter as well:

It is an unhappy policy, and always unhappily applied, to imagine that classis of men can be recovered and reconciled by partial concessions, of granting less than they demand. And if all were granted they would have more to ask, somewhat as a security for the enjoyment of what is granted, that shall preserve their power, and shake the whole frame of the government. Their faction is their religion; nor are those combinations ever entered into upon real and substantial motives of conscience, how erroneous soever, but consist of many glutinous materials, of will, and humor, and folly, and knavery, and ambition, and malice, which make men cling inseparably together till they have satisfaction in all their pretenses, or till they are absolutely broken and subdued, which may always be more easily don’t than the other.2

It seems here that most (if not all) the bishops were of one mind before the conference ever took place: either submit to all of their demands (which would never happen) or subdue their opponents. The non-conformists of the Savoy Conference never had a chance.

After the conference, Bishop Kennett writes:

And so, ended this conference without union or accommodation; the Presbyterian divines depending too much on the encouragement they had received from the king and his chief ministers, on the assurances given them by some of the leading members of the parliament, and on the affections of the people; in all which they were mistaken, as well as in the merit of their cause.3

Without any forward advancement in their discussions, the end result would be the Act of Uniformity of 1662. Either you conform to the prelates, or be ejected from your pulpit by force.


1. Cardwell, Edward. A History of Conferences and Other Proceedings Connected With the Revision of The Book of Common Prayer; From The Year 1558 To The Year 1690. 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 1840. (Pg. 248-249)

2. Clarendon, Edward H. The Life of the Edward Earl of Clarendon. Vol. 2, Clarendon Printing House, 1760. (Pg. 121)

3. Cardwell, Edward. A History of Conferences and Other Proceedings Connected With the Revision of The Book of Common Prayer; From The Year 1558 To The Year 1690. 3rd ed., Oxford University Press, 1840. (Pg. 266-267)

Goodwin: Salvation

I find saved is thus distinguished, when he speaks, as here he doth, of grace, and not of works. And that text which we have often occasion to recur to in the point of free grace, is an opener of this place; it is in 2 Tim. 1:9, ‘Who hath saved us and called us, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus.’ Here, if you mark it, ‘saved us’ is made distinct from calling; he hath both saved us and called us, and both by grace, and not of works. Now if you take in the whole work of calling, God doth not call us by faith, not by faith alone, for calling includes sanctification and regeneration; we are saints by calling as well as believers by calling; yet we see that he distinguisheth salvation which is the work of God upon us, from calling which is the work of God in us.

Or if you will, you may take this distinction to clear it, which may help your understandings more in it; and that is, that that salvation which is applied here in this world, for we exclude heaven, is not through faith, not through faith alone; for in 2 Thess. 2:13, we are chosen to salvation through faith and sanctification both: it is a medium through which he carries us.
Or if you will, we may also distinguish thus of salvation itself; that there are two sorts of degrees of the application of it, and both called salvation:—

1. One is an investing us with a right, a title, a tenure, an interest in all benefits of salvation, be they what they will; to give us a formal, sure, legal, authentical interest, according to the rules of the word, to all benefits of salvation, whether in this world or in the world to come.

2. Or in the second place, there is an actual possession, or, if you will, rather call it an accomplishment of all the parts of salvation and works of God in us, which God carrieth on in us by degrees, works holiness in us by degrees, whereof quickening is the beginning; works glory in us by degrees, first raising us and then filling us with glory in heaven, as I shewed out of the 6th verse.

Now these are evidently distinct, and yet they are both called salvation. There is salvation in hope,—that is, having the title of it, Rom. 8:24. And there is σωτηρίας τύχωσι, an obtaining of salvation, or salvation obtained; as you have it in 2 Tim. 2:10. There are some benefits indeed which we have not only a right to, but we do as fully possess them as we shall do in the world to come; and that is being justified: we are as much righteous as ever we shall be in heaven, and have as full a possession of it; only at the latter day there shall be a fuller enjoyment of it, therefore sins are said to be pardoned in the world to come.

This distinction of salvation thus, in the right and title of it, and of salvation in the full accomplishment of it by degrees, time after time, is evident in Scripture. 1 John 3:2, ‘Now are we the sons of God,’—now the whole right of sons is ours, and God himself can give us nothing which he hath not given us a right unto; and yet, saith he, ‘it doth not appear what we shall be.’ Look, what our right to sonship gives us a title to, that is yet to be manifest; what it will bring with it, we know not. ‘It doth not yet appear what we shall be; but when he shall appear, we shall be like him.’ So take sanctification itself; you are not perfectly sanctified, you have not that part of salvation completed and accomplished as it shall be in heaven; you have as much right to all the sanctification that you shall ever have now, as you shall have in heaven. All that is prepared by grace in election from eternity, the whole title to it is given us at once, and God doth but parcel out by degrees that salvation which he giveth in the title of it at first.

Goodwin, T. (1861). The Works of Thomas Goodwin (Vol. 2, pp. 314–315). Edinburgh: James Nichol.

Boston: Christ is Made Sanctification

1 COR. 1:30.—But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who is made unto us—sanctification.

THE world in its greatest darkness was not insensible that man’s nature was corrupted, that they needed something wherewith they might please God, attain to happiness, and repair the wound which they understood their nature had got. And although that Jews and Gentiles had different devices whereby they thought this might be obtained, yet all agreed in that it behoved them to go into themselves for it, and to draw something out of the ruins of their natural powers wherewith to help themselves, thereby discovering they did not sufficiently understand the depth of the corruption of human nature. And this principle is so agreeable to corrupt reason, that God’s device to bring about man’s salvation from sin and misery in and by another, to wit, Christ, was to ‘the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness,’ ver. 23. And if we sound to the bottom, it is the same at this day to the unregenerate part of the Christian world.

In the text we have the sum of God’s device for the salvation of sinners, and it centres in Jesus Christ who was crucified. We may take up the text and it in these two things.

1. That the whole of man’s salvation shall be from Christ. God has made or constituted him the fountain of all salvation, from whom it must be conveyed to all that shall partake of it. As Pharaoh made Joseph ruler over Egypt; and when the famished people cried to him for bread, he bade them go to Joseph, Gen. 41:55 so God has dealt with the Mediator, and tells us by the gospel, Psal. 89:24. ‘My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him: and in my name shall his horn be exalted.’ If we look into the ruins of the fall we may take them up under four heads, answerable to which there are remedies in Christ.

(1.) Man is ignorant naturally of the way to true happiness: he has lost God, and knows not how to find him again.—Falling into the hands of Satan, he has lost his two eyes, like Samson; gropes for the way of happiness, but cannot find it, like the Sodomites at Lot’s door. Some remains of knowledge found in the ruins of the fall were improved in the world, by study, observation of the works of God, and in some by external revelation, which yet the natural darkness of the mind did pervert. And these notions, thus improved, they called wisdom. But the way of happiness by works, the only way naturally known by Adam, being blocked up by his fall, it was impossible for them by their wisdom to fall on the other way, unless we should say, that fallen man’s natural knowledge could reach farther than his natural knowledge when it was whole and entire before the fall. So man’s wisdom is his folly.

For remedy of this, Christ is made ‘wisdom.’ The treasures of wisdom and knowledge were lodged in him, Col. 2:3 and he is constituted the grand Teacher of all that seek for eternal happiness. Therefore the philosophers and Rabbi’s must lay by their books, as insufficient to point them the way to happiness, and study that body of divinity, Jesus Christ, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily. The wise men of the world must renounce confidence in their natural abilities, draw a black score over all their attainments in their Christless state, and sit down at Christ’s feet, as knowing nothing, and learn of him: and those of the shallowest capacities, giving up themselves to him, shall get ‘the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ,’ 2 Cor. 4:6.

(2.) Man is unrighteous, and cannot stand before a righteous God. His guilt binds him over to wrath, and makes him miserable before a just God, a revenger of sin. And this is so impressed on the hearts of men, that even a natural conscience sometimes makes terrible heart-quakes within him, knowing the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death.’ Now, the natural man, for remedy of this, goes about to work out a righteousness of his own, to spin a righteousness out of his own bowels, and to appease the anger of God, and gain his favour, by his obedience. But when it appears in the light of the holy law, it is nothing but as a filthy, rotten, moth-eaten garment, that cannot cover the soul before the Lord, Isa. 64:7. Let them stretch it as they will, the bed is shorter than a man can stretch himself on it, and the covering narrower than he can wrap himself in it.

For remedy of this, Christ is made righteousness. He, by his obedience to the law’s commands and suffering the wrath it threatened, hath brought in everlasting righteousness, which is a large garment, able to cover all that betake themselves to it, for it is ‘the righteousness of God; a beautiful garment, sound in every part, for it is white raiment, without the least stain, being the righteousness of the Son of God, who was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners. Therefore the most refined moralists may lay aside, in point of confidence, their highest attainments in morality, as filthy rags before the Lord; and the strictest professors and livers on earth, who follow after the law of righteousness, must renounce their inherent righteousness, and sit down naked before the Lord, to receive the imputed righteousness of Christ. And the vilest of men coming to him, shall find a righteousness in him to be communicated to them; so that they that are far from righteousness shall be wrapt up in a perfect righteousness, if they will take Christ to them as God has made him.

(3.) Man is unholy, unfit for communion with a holy God here or hereafter. His soul is dead in sin, his lusts live and are vigorous in him; so that he is no more meet for heaven than a sow for a palace. The natural man, to help himself in this point, calls together his natural powers as in a solemn day, and endeavours to set about his duty, and turn the stream of his life and conversation into the channel of the law. Some prevail this way to the reformation of their outward conversation; but there is as much difference betwixt true holiness and their attainment, as between a living body and an embalmed corpse. Others find all their endeavours to no purpose, and so they come to despair of sanctification, and therefore even lay the reins on the necks of their lusts, Jer. 2:25. And how can it be otherwise in either of them? for, like fools or madmen, they go into the mire to wash themselves clean; the house that must be razed from the foundation, they go to patch up and repair; for in their attempts for holiness, they act as if they had need of nothing but activity to use and improve their natural abilities for sanctification; which is as opposite to the doctrine of the gospel, as to say, the cripple needs but to set himself to rise and walk, and he will be cured, is contrary to common sense: for our natural abilities will serve us no more for sanctification, than the cripple’s legs will serve him to walk. Let men learn from Job, that where the whole body is all full of boils and sores, their hands are not fit to scrape the sores on the rest of their body, being as ill themselves as any other part: therefore he took a potsherd, and scraped himself. And while to the unbelieving there is nothing pure; their very natural powers being defiled, can never purify the man.

But for remedy in this, Christ is made sanctification. There is a fulness of the spirit of holiness lodged in him, to be communicated to the unholy; and to him God sends the unholy sinner, that out of his fulness he may receive, and grace for grace. Therefore the most sober natural man and strictest professor, who has hammered out of his mere natural abilities, assisted by external revelation, a life blameless before the world, being estranged still to the life of faith, must know that he has but put a new face on the old man, which Christ never intended to repair, but to destroy, Rom. 6:6; and must begin anew to attain true holiness, from and by him whom the Father has made sanctification to us. And the most polluted sinner, whose lusts are most raging, may confidently try this grand method of sanctification, which can no more fail him than God’s device can fail to reach the end he designed for it.

(4.) Man by the fall is become mortal, liable to many bodily infirmities and miseries, and at length must go to the grave, the house appointed for all living. Nature could find no remedy for this. The learned Athenians mocked at the resurrection of the dead, Acts 7:32; the Sadducees among the Jews denied it, Matth. 22:23. The unrenewed part of the world, who, by the benefit of external revelation, have embraced the doctrine of the resurrection, and particularly of the happy resurrection, have no other way to attain it, but what they follow to attain righteousness and sanctification; and that being insufficient to attain them, must be so also in this respect; for all their Christless endeavours leave them still under guilt and corruption; these bonds of death, wherewith the second death will draw them down into the pit, when they are raised out of their graves at the last day still hold them fast.

But man’s salvation cannot be complete without a remedy for this; therefore Christ is made ‘redemption,’ who will give in due time deliverance to his people from misery and death, which is called ‘the redemption of the body,’ Rom. 8:23. And in this sense he calls himself ‘the resurrection and the life,’ John 11:25. So redemption is in him, in so far as he has got above death and the power of the grave by his resurrection, and that as a public person, thereby ensuring the happy resurrection of all that are in him. Therefore, if ever we would get our heads above these waters, we must come to him.

Boston, T. (1848). The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion, Part 2. (S. M‘Millan, Ed.) (Vol. 2, pp. 5–8). Aberdeen: George and Robert King.

O. Sedgwick: True Faith is Fruitful

“I will shew thee my faith by my works”, “Was not our father Abraham justified by work?”, “Seest thou how faith wrought by his works, and by works was faith made perfect?” (James 2: 18, 21-22)

The Apostle in that chapter speaks of a double faith.

One was a counterfeit faith, a shadow as it were, which bad the looks, but not the substance it was a dead faith, which hath the limbs, but not the soul and life. But how did it appear that this faith was dead? Did it not speak many good words? Yes, says Saint James, It gave good words, & praeterea nihil, no good works. It could say to the poor, “be ye clothed”, and “be ye warm”, but gave nothing to clothe or to fee, why? Says he, “this mans faith is vain” (that is) he hath not the true quality of faith, and it will stand him in no stead.

Another was a lively and justifying faith. It had in it the true nature and property of faith, but how did that appear? The apostle answers, “by works”. You know that there is a great difference between these two, viz. the justifying of a man’s person before God, and the justifying of a man’s faith before the world. That which justified my person before God, is only faith in Jesus Christ, and that which justified (as one particular) my faith before men, not to be a dead, but living faith, is the acting of good work. Hence that of Paul, “This is a faithful saying, and those things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works, these things are good and profitable unto men” (Titus 3:8). Tight is the speech of saint Augustine, “Sequuntur justificatum” though “non praecedunt justificandum”. As in a clock, the finger makes not the clock to go, but the clock it, and yet the motion of the finger without, shows whether the clock goes within.

So although works do not cause of infuse justifying faith, nor yet cause our justification, yet they do clearly manifest whether we have such a faith as doth indeed justify, or not.

Objection: You will say, the work of faith is to look up, and to come and to deal with God only; and therefore to breath out good works which respect men, seems not to be testimony of faith.

Solution: I answer,

1. The apostle there expressly distinguishes the lively and the dead faith by works (as if he had said) it is so

2. There is (if you will let me distinguish so) as it were a double act of faith. One is proper and personal, and this is circumscribed to that heavenly employment of receiving or presenting in and through Christ.
Another is grateful, and this is extended to the sending forth of good works. Not as if it were a work of supererogation, for faith finds the doing of good works under many commands, and also the rewards of them under many promises. But because faith see also a sweet and reasonable equity, that if God be good to me in Christ, I should be good to some for Christs’ sake. And surely, as the workless person doth not now own Christ by faith, so hereafter Christ will not own him by mercy, “depart from me”.

Objection: But yet you will reply, good works cannot be a sure testimony of faith, because many evil men may perform them, and some believers have not where-withall to do them.

Solution: I answer,

1. Good works may be so styled, either, First, materially because they are such things as may do good. Secondly, formally, being sealed with all the circumstances which are required to make them good, both for spiritual composition, and divine acceptation. Now though wicked men may perform works good materially, yet formally they do not, for to make a work formally good, there must be the concurrence of all circumstances, the person must have a good heart, and a good ground, and a good end, and a good Christ.

2. Though every believer cannot actually do every good work, yet some good works or other he can do, though he cannot give money, yet he can give prayer. Now think on this ye who have riches and wealth, and profess faith on Christ, and yet scarce a person, a poor distressed person can bless God for your fruitful faith. No, the very doing of a small good work, sometimes does even try all the faith in the soul. A man does many times believe he shall surely want, and improves his estate if he should be rich in good works.

(Obadiah Sedgwick, The Humbled Sinner Resolved, Pg. 104-106)

Perkins: The Decree of Reprobation

The decree of reprobation is a work of Gods providence, whereby he hath decreed to passe by certain men, in regard of supernatural grace for the manifestation of his justice and wrath in their due destruction: or, it is his will, whereby he suffreth some men to fall into sin, and inflicteth the punishment of condemnation for sin.

It hath in like manner two acts.
The first is the purpose to forsake some men, and to make known his justice in them. This act hath a final cause, but no impulsive cause out of God. For it ariseth of Gods mere good pleasure, no respect had of good or evil in the creature. For the will of God is the cause of causes: therefore we must make our stand in it, and out of or beyond it no reason must be sought for: yea indeed there is nothing beyond it.

Moreover every man (as Paul averreth) is unto God, as a lump of clay in the potters hand: and therefore God according to his supreme authority doth make vessels of wrath, he doth not find them made. But he should not make them, but find them made, if we say that God willed in his eternal counsel, to passe by men only as they are sinners, and not as they are men for causes most just, though unknown to us.

Thirdly, if God did reject men, because he foresaw that they would reject him, reprobation should not depend upon God, but upon men themselves. And this is all one, as if a man should say, that God foresaw that some would choose him, and others refuse him. And the contempt of the Gospel doth not befall infants, which die out of the covenant of the Gospel.

Fourthly, Paul, who was a most skillful defender of Gods justice, doth exclude all works in the first place, out of this wonderful election of one from another, made in the counsel of God: Not by work, saith he; and therefore excludeth all respect of sin; then afterwards being ravished with admiration, he quieteth himself in the alone will of God, Who hath resisted his will? But, O man, who art thou which pleadest against God? Again, O the deepness of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God: how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! To conclude if it be demanded why God created this world and no more, we must have recourse the mere will of God: and why must we not do so, if it be demanded why God electeth this man, and forsaketh that man or another? Author de vec gent A part of mankind is redeemed, a part perisheth. But who can tell, why God doth not pity them, and pitieth these? the reason of the distinction is unknown, but the distinction or separation it self is not known.

The second act is the ordaining of them to punishment or due destruction. This ordination in respect of the diverse consideration thereof, may be distinguished: and so it is either simple or comparative. The simple ordination is that, whereby this man, suppose Peter or John, is ordained to punishment. And this ordination is of the most just will of God, yet not without respect of original and actual sin. For as men are actually damned for sin: so God hath decreed to damn them for the same sin. Yet notwithstanding sin is not the cause of the decree of reprobation, but in regard of order it goeth before in Gods fore-knowledge, not that former, but this latter act. The ordination which stands in comparison is that, whereby one man and not another, and this man rather then that being in the like condition, is ordained to punishment.

This serveth to shew the liberty of Gods will, in the dispensation of supernatural benefits. For in that God chooseth this man and not that, it declareth the liberty and very great perfection of God: and therefore under the name of an householder, he challengeth the same unto himself, when he saith: May I not do with my own what I list? And verily though God destroy and condemn all those whom he doth forsake, yet should he not be unjust. For we our selves in the daily killing and slaughtering of beasts will not be counted unjust, neither indeed are we: and yet in comparison of God we are not so much worth, as a fly is in respect of us. If it be lawful for thee to receive in, or to thrust out any out of thine house, because thou wilt; it were a point of desperate boldness to take the same right from God in his house.

Perkins, William. A Christian and Plain Treatise of the Manner and Order of Predestination, Pg. 24-28.

Boston: The Nature of the Sanctification of the Soul

II. More particularly, I will inquire into the nature of the sanctification of a soul. And let us consider,

1. The kinds of sanctification.
2. The Author of it.
3. The moving cause of it.
4. Wherein it consists.
5. The parts of it.
6. The subject of it.
7. The effect of it.
8. How it is carried on.
9. The means of it.

FIRST, I shall consider the kinds of sanctification distinguishable. Sanctification of a soul is twofold.

1. Initial sanctification, which is the implanting of the seeds of grace in the soul at first, and is the same with regeneration, 1 John 3:9 wherein the Spirit of Christ comes into the man’s heart with his graces, and takes possession of him for God. The whole soul is cast into a new mould and frame, and the image of God is drawn anew upon it.

2. Progressive sanctification, whereby that change is carried on more and more, the Spirit holding hand to the begun work, Acts 20:32. Satan’s image is more defaced, and the image of God more perfected in the soul; corruption more weakened, and grace more excited and strengthened. This work lasts through the saint’s whole life, and is never perfected till death.

These are one and the same work for substance, though differing in circumstances; and no man has the one, but he has the other too. Initial sanctification goes before justification in the order of nature, as being the principle from which faith doth arise; and this accounts for the apostle’s order in the text: but progressive sanctification, i. e. sanctification distinguished from regeneration, follows justification.

SECONDLY, Let us consider the Author of sanctification, whose work it is.

1. Negatively, It is not the sinner himself, nor any other creature, who is the author of it. We can well defile ourselves with all impurity, but cannot cleanse ourselves. We will lie still in our filthiness, till help come from another quarter, Eph. 2:1. We are bid to cleanse our hands and hearts: but, alas! the rule of our duty is not the measure of our strength.

2. Positively, It is the work of God; for it needs no less power than was necessary for creating a world, or raising the dead. It is the work of a whole Trinity to sanctify a soul, as lightly as many think of being holy. It is the work of the Father, Jude, ver. 1 ‘Sanctified by God the Father;’ of the Son, Eph. 5:26. ‘That he (Christ) might sanctify—it;’ of the Holy Spirit, 2 Thess. 2:13. ‘Through sanctification of the Spirit.’ But in a special manner it belongs to the Spirit; as the Father elects, the Son redeems, and the Holy Ghost sanctifies. It is the work of the Spirit of God then. For,

1. In initial sanctification the Spirit acts alone, and the poor sinner is wholly passive, and can do nothing that way. For he is dead in sin, and cannot move out of its dominion. He lies in the grave like the dry bones, which cannot live, nor stand up till they be breathed upon by the Lord himself.

2. In progressive sanctification, though the sinner does act towards his own sanctification, 2 Cor. 7:1 yet he acts not but as he is acted by the Holy Spirit, Phil. 2:13. In vain will he spread out his sails, if the wind from heaven blow not, Cant. 4:16. No blow of his struck in the battle against lusts will do execution, if the Spirit do not carry it home.

THIRDLY, The moving cause of it. Sanctification is a great benefit: whom the Lord bestows it upon, he puts an honour on, for they are set apart for himself. There is an intrinsic glory in holiness, Psal. 45:13. ‘The King’s daughter is all glorious within.’ God is glorious in it, and therefore no wonder it be the glory of the creature. When the Lord makes one holy, he does more for him than if he would give him all the gold of the Indies, or make him sole monarch of the world. Nay, the gift of sanctification is more worth than the Spirit of prophecy, or the faith of miracles: for men may be ruined notwithstanding these, but not if they have this.

The only cause of it is free grace, not any personal worth in the creature, Tit. 3:5. As the sun shines without hire, and enlightens the dark world; so does the Holy Spirit sanctify the unholy sinner freely, without any thing in him to move him thereto, Matth. 11:25, 26. For,

1. There is nothing in an unholy sinner that is pleasing and acceptable in God’s sight, Rom. 8:8. There is nothing but stench and rottenness in the dead soul, till the sanctifying Spirit enter into him. His best dispositions, actions, and performances, are sin, being without faith, and the mere product of nature unrenewed.

2. Though there be a great difference betwixt natural men before the world, one having by far the advantage of the other in respect of their natural tempers and the way of their life; yet the Lord does not give his sanctifying grace according to these advantages, but oft-times grace takes hold of those who are most unlikely to get it, 1 Cor. 1:26, 27, &c. Publicans and harlots enter into the kingdom of God before Scribes and Pharisees. And oft-times sovereign grace overlooks those of the most sweet natural dispositions, and brings in those of the most rugged.

3. Sovereign grace often chuses the time for sanctifying the sinner, when he has gone the farthest length in sin and wickedness. Paul was carried the length of blasphemy and persecution, ere sanctifying grace took hold of him, 1 Tim. 1:13. And Manasseh was carried to horrid murders and witchcraft, ere he was prevented by divine grace. Many have been carried to extraordinary acts of wickedness, whereby they have lost their lives in the course of justice whom grace has plucked as brands out of the burning, to proclaim the freedom of grace.

FOURTHLY, I shall shew wherein sanctification consists, or what the Spirit doth to a sinner when he sanctifies him. It consists in the renewing of the sinner after the image of God, Eph. 4:23, 24. The ruin of man’s nature lay in defacing the image of God which was upon him: sanctification is the renewing and repairing of it, without which God can take no delight in his creature. Now, in all renewing, the old is put away, and the new brought in. So there are two acts of the Spirit in sanctification.

1. Destroying of the body of sin, called the old man, Rom. 6:6 putting it away, Col. 2:11. The Spirit of the Lord breaks the dominion of sin in the soul, and turns it off the throne, that it cannot command the sinner as aforetime, Rom. 6:14 weakens and mortifies the several lusts thereof, Rom. 8:13. So that it is a crucified man, who has got his death’s wounds by the nails, and shall not come down till he die out.

2. Endowing the sinner with grace, even with all the graces of the Spirit, John 1:16 whereby the sinner becomes a new creature, 2 Cor. 5:17. This is the new man which is put on in sanctification; the seed of heaven, which can never misgive, but will spring up to everlasting life, being carried on towards perfection, by the same Spirit.

FIFTHLY, The parts of sanctification are two.

1. Mortification, whereby the sinner is enabled more and more to die unto sin, Rom. 6:4, 6. The Spirit applying the virtue of Christ’s death to the sinner, mortifies him to sin, blunts the edge of his affection to sin and sinful courses, so that in respect of sin, he is like a dying man. So that although he be not quite freed from it yet he is on the way to be so. His lusts are upon the cross, nailed through and pierced to the heart, not to come down till they have breathed out their last, Gal. 5:24. Like a dying man taking leave of friends, he is parting with his old lusts: like a man leaving off cares about the world, the bent of his soul is turned away from his former courses.

2. Vivification, whereby the sinner is enabled more and more to live unto righteousness, Rom. 6:4. The sanctified sinner leads a new life, in respect of which he is as a man raised from the dead, not meddling as before in the business of the world: so the sanctified sinner lives as one of another world, not conforming himself to the sinful courses of this world, but being transformed into likeness to those of the better world, Rom. 12:2. Phil. 3:20. The business of his life is to serve the Lord, and work out his own salvation; to be preparing for the eternal rest in heaven, whither his heart is carried before him.

SIXTHLY, Let us view the subject of sanctification.—Under which consider,
1. Who are sanctified.
2. What of them is sanctified,

First, Who are sanctified. It is the elect who are sanctified, even all of them, and they only, Eph. 1:4. 2 Thess. 2:13. And elect infants among the rest, dying in infancy, being naturally corrupted must needs be sanctified too, by the Holy Spirit, since they are of the number of the elect. For others may be sanctified from the womb, Jer. 1:5. And none other but the elect do partake of this grace of sanctification: so that sanctification is a certain evidence of election.
Secondly, What of them is sanctified. The whole man is sanctified, 2 Cor. 5:17. 1 Thess. 5:23. The grace of sanctification is a holy leaven, that goes through the whole lump, and makes every part of the man holy.

1. The soul is sanctified in all the faculties thereof, new qualities being infused into and advanced in them. (1.) The understanding naturally darkened, is renewed in saving knowledge, after God’s image, Col. 3:10. A new light is struck out in the mind; the light of grace arises there, whereby the soul knows spiritual things in another manner than before; and this advanceth unto the perfect day, Prov. 4:18. (2.) The will, naturally perverse and rebellious, gets a righteous set and bent, agreeable to the will of God, Eph. 4:24. whereby it is averse to evil, and prone to good. (3.) The unholy affections are made holy, ibid. So that their love, hatred, delight, sorrows, &c. are changed. And herewith comes along the sanctification of the conscience and memory.

2. The body is sanctified, in so far as it is made the temple of the Holy Spirit, and a member of Christ, 1 Cor. 6:15, 19. And the members thereof are changed in respect of their use, becoming instruments of righteousness employed for the Lord, Rom. 6:13. In respect of which the body is presented a holy sacrifice to God, to serve and honour him with, whether by doing or suffering, Rom. 12:1.

But although the whole man is sanctified, yet no part of the man is perfectly sanctified in this life. It is neither midnight to them as with the unregenerate, nor mid-day as with the glorified, but twilight, which is a mixture of darkness and light. Hence arises the combat betwixt the flesh and Spirit, Gal. 5:17. Every grace has a weed of the contrary corruption by the side of it, which occasions this struggle, and imperfection in the best of their works.

SEVENTHLY, I am to shew the effect of sanctification. That is holiness. The fruit of this work of the Spirit is habitual holiness, that is, an habitual aversion of the soul to evil, and inclination to good; and actual holiness in all manner of life and conversation, in good works, which have God’s word for their rule, his glory for their end, and are done in faith. Both which we have, Psal. 45:13. ‘The King’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold.’

EIGHTHLY, I proceed to shew how sanctification is carried on. Now, though sanctification must needs be begun in an instant, yet it is not a simple act, but a work carried on by degrees, to which many actions (and these repeated) of the Holy Spirit do concur. The believer not being perfectly renewed at first, the renovation is carried on by degrees, and the Spirit is at that work still, so as not to give it over till it be perfected, though there be many interruptions of it. And,

1. The Spirit implants grace in the soul, sows the heavenly seed there, framing the heart anew, giving it a new power, and a new set, towards God and his law; and putting in new motions and inclinations in the soul, agreeable to the holy law, and contrary to the natural sinful ones, Heb. 8:10. So that the soul is inclined to love what before it loathed, and to loath what before it loved.

2. He preserves the grace implanted, 1 Pet. 1:5. Though it is lodged in the same heart with an ill neighbour, the remains of natural corruption; yet he keeps it that it do not die out, he preserves it as a spark of fire in the midst of the ocean.

3. He excites it and quickens it, to pursue and resist the flesh, Phil. 2:13. Grace sometimes may fall so very low in the soul, that it becomes like a spark hid under the ashes: yet the sanctifying Spirit blows it up again into a flame, Cant. 4:16. As the tree in the winter divested of its leaves and verdure, when the warm sun returns in the spring, the sap driven to the root returns, and is diffused through the whole.

4. He strengthens it by new supplies, Isa. 40 ult. so as the soul is enabled more and more to hold on the battle, and gets victories of the enemy, 2 Cor. 12:9, 10. For grace is a child of heaven, which has all its nourishment and strength from the same Spirit that gave it life.

5. Lastly, At death, but not till then, he perfects it, Heb. 12:23. Then the new man is brought to its perfect stature, Eph. 4:13. Often may the soul be ready to say, One day I will perish by the hand of such a lust. But the Spirit of God will perfect the work he has begun. And when the walls of the leprous house are taken down, the leprosy shall be quite removed. From what has been said, we may infer,

Inf. 1. The case of unsanctified sinners is a wretched case; they are lying with the lost world, in their filthiness, utterly unfit to serve God acceptably, or to have communion with him here or hereafter. For they are not sanctified, not separated, purified, nor prepared for God’s service.

2. Behold the beauty of holiness, and fall in love with it, and labour to attain it. The holy man is more excellent than his neighbour, as set apart for God: ‘Israel shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations,’ because they are a holy people. It is the purity of the soul, God’s image drawn on the man, it is a newness of nature from heaven, and like heaven. By it a man is a vessel fit for the Master’s use, honourably employed now, and most honourably hereafter.

3. See the way how ye may be made holy. The fire from your own hearth will not purge you; faithless vows, resolutions, and endeavours, will not do it, Isa. 50 ult. The Spirit of the Lord can only perform the work. O! cry for the Spirit, wait on in ordinances for the blowing of the Spirit. Come to Christ by faith, that ye may partake of his Spirit.

4. Sanctification is not the work of a day, but a work that must be in a continual progress. Sit not down on any measure of grace attained. They that are converted still need the Spirit for their sanctification. Beware of grieving the Spirit, lest the work be interrupted. Make no truce with the enemy, but pursue the lusts of the body of sin vigorously.

5. Lastly, See here that there are none so unholy, but they may be made holy. It is a work of grace, and grace is powerful to overcome the strongest lusts. It is a work of free grace, and therefore no vileness nor unworthiness of the creature, that is content to be made holy, can hinder it. This may lay the pride of some, who think they deserve grace, and whose hearts fret against the Lord, if grace be not given them in an hour of temptation. Man’s heart perverteth his way, and fretteth against the Lord. And this may encourage those who think the Lord will never look on them.

LASTLY, Let us consider the means of sanctification.—The outward means that the Spirit makes use of in this work, and which have all their efficacy from him, are,

1. Ordinances, public, private, and secret, Isa. 12:3 especially the word, and sacraments thereto appended, Eph. 5:26. And they that would be holy must use these means of sanctification, whereby the Spirit begins and carries on the work.

2. Providences; smiling and favourable dispensations have a tendency that way, Rom. 2:4 but especially afflictions are means which the Spirit makes use of for this end, Isa. 27:9. ‘By this shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit to take away his sin.’
I shall now shut up this subject with a few inferences, besides those I drew under the former heads.

Inf. 1. Those who are unrenewed are unsanctified. Where there is no change of heart and life, there is no grace, 2 Cor. 5:17. Ah! how many live as they were born, and are like to die as they live? They have no changes, but from evil to evil: no change from sin to holiness, and yet are unconcerned with their unrenewed state, sleeping until they sleep the sleep of death.

2. A partial change is not sanctification. Those who are changed, but not in the whole man, are not truly sanctified, but are yet in their natural pollution. Sanctification is not a new head full of knowledge, with the old heart and life; nor is it a new life, with the old heart and nature. But it is a change that goes through the whole soul and body, which must needs be followed with a new life, 2 Cor. 5:17.

3. True sanctification puts work into the hand of the sanctified, that will occupy them while they live. Dying to sin, and living to righteousness, are works that will fill up every minute we have in the world.

4. Let none be so foolish as to sit down contented without sanctification, but study holiness as ever ye would see heaven. We want a title to heaven, we must get that in justification and adoption: we want a meetness for heaven, and we must get that in sanctification. The sanctified are elected, and shall be glorified, 1 Pet. 1:1, 2, 4. And they that live and die unsanctifled, shall never see heaven, Heb. 12:14. ‘For without holiness no man shall see the Lord.’

5. Lastly, As ever ye would be holy, attend and improve the means of grace. Let not your afflictions drive you from God, neither be stupid under them, but fall in with the design of providence in them, for your sanctification.

Boston, T. (1848). The Whole Works of Thomas Boston: An Illustration of the Doctrines of the Christian Religion, Part 1. (S. M‘Millan, Ed.) (Vol. 1, pp. 654–661). Aberdeen: George and Robert King.