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unto the end of his journey; but he that walketh is ever going, and drawethalway nearer and nearer unto his journey's end. In consideration whereof the Holy Scripture useth this word “Walk,” to put us in remembrance that, if we have begun well in our profession, we should not there cease and stand still, but go forth “From virtue to virtue,” “From faith to faith,” until at the last we attain unto the perfection of pure innocency. For “He that continueth unto the end,” saith Christ, “Shall be saved.” Again, “Be faithful unto the death, and I shall give thee the crown of life.” This word we read in divers places of the Holy Scriptures. Christ saith, “Walk while ye have light, that the darkness doth not overwhelm you. For he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” St. Paul also saith, “Wal as the children of light, proving what is acceptable to the Lord.” Again, “Look that ye walk circumspectly, not as unwise, but as wise, redeeming the time, for the days are evil.” Hitherto pertaineth that saying of St. John, “He that saith that he dwelleth in Christ ought to walk even as He hath walked."
These places, with all other such like, declare to us that we ought so to walk in our profession by increasing daily in virtues, that at the last we may be perfect, and as St. Paul saith, “Make every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” And this is it that followeth in the latter end of the sentence, “And be perfect.” For we ought so to walk, that is, increase in all godliness, virtue, and honesty, that we might be perfect, as Christ saith, “Be ye perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Also St. Paul, “Rejoice and be perfect.” It is one degree of virtue to love my neighbour, but it is an higher degree to love mine enemy, but the most excellent degree above all is so to love our very enemies that we can be contented not only to do them good, but also even to give our lives to win them unto Christ. It is a point of mercy to help my poor neighbour with my superfluous goods; but it is a point of perfection to sell all that ever I have and to give it to the poor, as Christ said to the rich man, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come on thy way and follow Me." It is a point of godliness to bear an honest heart toward the Word of God, yet it is much more openly to confess it boldly before men; but the very perfect point of godliness is, not only to love and confess it, but also manly to abide by it, even unto the very death, if need so requireth. Now, therefore, even unto the most and greatest perfection in all things ought we to contend and labour, that we may walk before God and be perfect.
Peace with God.
JOHN LIGHTFOOT, D.D.
The very word, “To have peace with God,” may make a Christian's heart to leap within him, it speaks so much happiness. “ Did not our hearts burn within us?” say they in the gospel, upon Christ's gracious discourses with them. It is enough to warm a heart, if it be not, if it will not be, a stone; if it be sensible, if it will be sensible, what it is to be a sinner; to hear that an offended, just, dreadful, all-powerful God will be at peace with him that hath offended Him.
Why art thou so dull, O my soul, why so stupid within me, as not to stir, not to be affected, at the sounding of such tidings as these, that it is possible for a sinner to have peace with God! Cain, why art thou so unquiet in thy conscience? If thou do well, shalt thou not be accepted? but if thou do not,“ There is a sin offering lies at the door," and thou mayest have an atonement. Wretch that thou art, if thy heart relent not at such tidings as these !
When the devil had set enmity betwixt God and man at the fall of Adam, it was a lovely dawning towards man's recovery when God set enmity betwixt man and the devil, for their friendship had been man's undoing ; but it was the glorious sun-rising, or noontide rather, when God abolished the enmity betwixt man and Himself, and brought and spake peace.
In the angels' song that they sung at the birth of our Saviour, that part of the ditty spake a great deal of happiness that spake of “ Peace on earth betwixt man and man, which was now to be by reconciling Jew and Gentile in the gospel; but that part of it spake more happiness that spake of “God's goodwill towards men,” or peace betwixt men and God.
Now what it is to have peace with God who can utter? It is a fit theme for an angel from heaven to discourse upon who never had enmity with God; or, rather, for a saint in glory who had once been at enmity, but now knows what the sweetness of peace with God is in its full enjoyment.
Take the prospect of it thus reflexly. Take your stand, in your thoughts, from a death-bed, a very convenient stand to take our view in all our actions. Think of your dying condition, and conceive all your sins then mustered before you; the vanity, folly, and wretchedness of an ill-led life presenting themselves before you in their horror and confusion, your conscience flashing the very flames of hell into your faces; imagine that you beheld God frowning, and His face full of indignation ; in a word, that you saw plainly your lost and undone condition, and then speak, heart, what is it to have peace with God? Solomon, wilt thou have riches? Sinner, wilt thou have preferments, wealth, pleasure, all contents the world can afford? No, Lord, let me have peace with God, which is above ten thousand worlds.
Inward peace in the conscience doth not infer having peace with God. By “ Inward peace in the conscience” I mean the opposite to pangs, troubles, storms of conscience. And this peace is the common temper of the most consciences in the world; they have no disquiet at all. Who hath used to visit the sick on their dying beds, hath he not found it too common that conscience hath been in this temper? “I thank God nothing troubles me; all is quiet in my conscience.” As Elisha over Hazael, upon foresight of his mischievousness to come, so could I weep over such a poor soul, to see it go out of the world with such a delusion as this in its right hand.
Ah! say not “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace. For here, indeed, is neither peace with God, nor peace of conscience, properly so called. But if you will have the Spirit of God to word it, it is the “Spirit of slumber ;” it is an “Impenitent heart ;" it is “ Past feeling ;" in a word, it is a Nabal's heart, dead within him. And that such a conscience should be quiet it is no wonder ; for mortui non mordent. But it would be a wonder if such a peace in the conscience should be a sign of peace with God. Into such a peace let not my soul, my conscience, enter.
It was a strange request of him that said to his father, “Smite me, I pray thee.” But I hardly know a more pertinent request that a sinner can put up to God, and it must be mine continually; and I know that all that know what belong to the right frame of conscience, will pray with me, “Lord, smite me, I pray Thee; wound me, lash my conscience, and spare it not, rather than suffer me to lie and die, and perish under such peace of conscience as this is ;" if such stupidity may be called peace.
It is a mystery in divinity and experience that an unregenerate person can hardly be driven off from presuming on his salvation, and that a regenerate man can hardly be brought to hope of his salvation ; that he who is farthest from having peace with God should scarcely be driven from not doubting of his peace with Him; and that he that
undoubtedly hath his peace with Him should so hardly be driven off from doubting it. Many a good soul is in the world that is justified, and hath without question, quoad rem ipsam, his peace with God, according to the divine oracle of the text; and yet is, as to the sense of it, exceeding far from peace of conscience, full of troubles and fears at all times.
But I give not the whole definition of peace with God, unless to God reconciled to man I add man reconciled to God. We may observe how the Holy Ghost expresses the great reconciliation : the main stress lies in the reconciliation of man to God, Col. i., 20 ; “God, through the blood of the cross, hath reconciled all things to Himself." He saith not, “ Hath reconciled Himself to all things,” but “All things to Himself.” And in 2 Cor. v., 19, “God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself.” He saith not, reconciling Himself unto the world. And, verse 20, “We pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled unto God.” The great business is for man to be reconciled unto God; Absalom unto David. Here, then, is the main trial, to know whether God be at peace with you; see if you be at peace with Him. This is the note in the index; and if we find it there, we may be sure to find the other in the book. As he that looked westward for the rising of the sun saw it sooner, gilding the tops of the mountains, than they that looked for it in the east; so this is the best way to see whether God be at peace with us; let us look back upon ourselves, and see how our condition is towards God. Some hold that the answer by Urim and Thummim was by the rising of the stones in the high priest's breastplate. Though I am not of their mind, yet I may allude unto it in the case in hand ; look into thine own breast, make thine observation thence, see how thy heart stands affected towards God; and by that thou mayest understand what God's answer to thy question is-viz., whether He be at peace with thee.