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God in Christ, you claim him as such, without : doubting of your title. I gave two observations on this, but it is too weighty a point briefly to pass over. It is a pity that a believer should so lung stand afar from God, with his wishes, O that he were mine! and that he should not draw near with full aflurance, and say, He is mine in Christ.To promote this exercise, I would have you to at-tend to the following considerations. .
(1.) God allows you to claim him as your God. Satan, and an unbelieving heart, may contradict. the claim, but God will never do it. The cove... nant runs in these terms, “ I will be your God," Heb. viii. 10.; and will he ever resist you when : you plead his covenant? Did he not allow Tho-.mas, formerly an unbeliever, to claim this, and say, “ My Lord, and my God?” John, xx. 28... Seeing, therefore, you may do it, it is folly to flight such a glorious privilege.--Consider,
(2.) That God is well-pleased with you if you : make this claim : Jer. iii. 4. “ Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My Father, thou art the guide of my youth ?” Is not a father well-pleased to hear his child call him so ? God is more loving than any father or mother upon earth. Though they may forget, yet he will not forget us, Ila.. xlix. 15. 16. The Son of his bosum, who best : knows what pleases him, teaches us to pray, Our Father; his Spirit, who searcheth the deep things . of God, teaches the children to cry, Abba, Fa. ther. It is true, that he is not plealed when carnal professors claim him as their God, Hof. viii. 2. 3. Psal. l. 16. 17. But why should the children start back from their food, because the dogs are boasted away? If you are casting off the thing that is good, and are hating instruction, I am not advising you to call him Father ; but have you taken 2
him in Christ for a rest to thine heart, to make thee holy, as well as happy ? then claim him as thy God: Hof. ii. 23. “ And they shall say, Thou art my God.”--Consider,
(3.) That the faints of God, in former ages, have claimed God as their God: Psal. xvi. 2. “ ) my soul! thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord." --Song, ii. 16. “ My beloved is mine, and I am his.” And it is the usual way of scripture-saints, to plead their interest in God by faith. These things are written for our imitation. I observe the saints in scripture not only claiming God as their God in the sunshine days of their profperity, but also in deep affliction ; when the hand of God lay heavy on them, they expected good from him : Psal. xlii. 6. “O my God! my soul is cast down within me, therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.” Was ever any more afflicted than Job, tempted even by his friends to quit his claim ? yet he refolutely maintained it. The saints have done this also in deep desertion : Thus, Psal. xxii. i. “ My God, my God, why haft thou forsaken me?” The 88th Psalm begins with a believing claim. Why should it not be so, seeing
afflictions and defertions are the trial of faith? - nay, what is more, they claim God as their God
in the time when sin, guilt, and backsliding, are staring them in the face, Ezra, ix. 6.-10.; for this opens the heart to kindly sorrow for fin, while unbelief locks it up. When the claim is altogether given up with, the heart may be broken into a thousand hard pieces, but it will never melt into godly sorrow.-Confider,
(4.) That this claim honours God. Abraham Wis strong in faith, giving glory to God, Rom. ir. 20. Faith honours the blood of Christ, the
blood of the everlasting covenant, when the soul, over the belly of' felt unworthiness, claims God as its God upon the title given by this blood. It gives Christ the honour of the infinite virtue, value, and efficacy of his blood. Faith honours the truth of God in the promises of the gospel, when the foul, in view of the infinite disproportion betwixt God and his sinful creature, yet, on the credit of the word, puts in its claim to God himself.- Consider,
(5.) That it is in the strength of faith by which persons draw near when taking God as their God, . but they come still nearer when claiming him assuch : Job, xiii. 15. 16. “ Though he flay me, yet will I trust in him. He also shall be my fal. vation.” The stronger that the man is, he holds the harder, and the stronger that faith is, it comes: the farther forward in the house of God. When Thomas got in his fingers, he cried, “ My Lord, and my God,” John, xx. 28. for then his faith was as a giant refreshed with wine.- Consider,
(6.) If you dare not claim God as your Goul, how will you claim any benefit of the covenant ? There is guilt lying on your soul, you come and claim a pardon, there is a lust too strong for you, you claim strength against it; in difficulties you seek light and direction. Now, how can you claim any of these, if you claim not God himself as your God? Can a man who has no claim to a woman, claim the benefit of a contract with her ? “ I will be their God,” is the great promise of the covenant, on which all the rest depend ; give up your claim to this, and you can lay claim to none of the rest. If God be not your God in Chrift, you have no right to pardon, peace, strength, &c.
tion. Faith is the great promoter of holiness. Acts, xv. 5:9. “ Purifying their hearts by faith.” So the more faith which a man has, he will be the more holy; and with the more full assurance that "he can claim God, he has the more faith, and so will be the more - fanctified. Thus it is certain, that that claim which does not advance holiness, is but a delusion; for the claim of faith is still of this nature, Pfal. xvi. 2. 3. Exod. 15. 2. “ The Lord is my strength and my song, and he is become my salvation ; he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation : my father's God, and I will exalt him." This is a great gospel-truth; I shall not launck forth into it now, but only men.. tion you three things upon it.-I observe,
(1.) That the way to attain true holiness is, by - drawing itofrom its fountain, God in Christ, Heb.
viii. 10. I Cor. i. 30. “ But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and fanctification, and redemption.” There is a bastard fanctification, consisting of some acts of external obedience, wrought out of our own natural powers; but true fanctification is by improving those treasures of holiness which are in Christ, or God in Christ: John, i. 16. « And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” Now, how can we improve or make use of those treasures which are in God, if we cannot claim him for our God ? But if we cannot claim him as such, we can come boldly to his throne to find mercy and obtain grace to help us in time of need, Heb. iv. 16. If the foul can say, God is mine, then may the person fay, Light, life, and strength are mine, the promises are mine. They may fuck freely at the breasts of all the gracious promises on record. In a word, when the foul can. claim God by faith, it can come
freely freely to him for fanctification, and improve him for that end.-I observe,
(2.) That love to God is the fulfilling of the law; and the more love, the more holiness. Now, to claim God in Christ as our God, is the true way to attain true love to God; for it is faith which fets love a-going. Faith worketh by love, and so it sets all the graces of the Spirit in motion. Mine is a kindly word ; though you live in a cottage, if you can say, It is mine, it will be sweeter to you than the king's palace, because it is not yours. See how the love of God is kindled in the breast of a guilty creature, 1 John, iv. 19. “We love him, because he first loved us.” It is a hard work (to say no more) to love a God not. believed in, not embraced as our God; for the greater and more glorious he is, he is the more dreadful an enemy. It is the word of the gospel which brings the glad news of the love of God in Christ. Is it not plain, then, that the more this be believed with application, the more will that love to God be inflamed, and consequently the soul more satisfied. I obferve,
(3.) That our hearts must have something of their own to satisfy themselves with. The greater part of the world hang on about the door of the empty creation, and suck the breasts of their fulfome lusts. Why do they this? Because God is not theirs, and they cannot want altogether. But let the heart once take God in Christ, and claim him as its own God, then it has enough. And the more the soul is persuaded of this, the less it will care for other things, but says, in effect, “I have all, and abound.” A man will keep in his candles, if he be not persuaded the sun is up; but if the windows be opened, and he fees the