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8 Tnu wiH dearly love all that bear their Father's image, and'the image of him who is the express image of the Father; and the more resemblance they have unto htm, you will love them the better: . John in. 1+ "By this we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." You will esteem them, as D.ivid, the excellent ones of the earth; with them will be all your delight.
Lasth, All the offspring and issue of God's house, they have a zeal for the standing of their F»ther's house; they " love the habitation of his house, and the place where his honour dwells; and therefore will have something of the Spirit ot tne first-born, of whom it is said, " The zeal of thine house hath ea'en me up." Is it possible that a true child of a family can he unconcerned, when he sees robberies, committed on his house, or the house of his father turned into a den of thieves t Or will a true born child herden and associate himself with such, without opposing them, and witnessing against them 1 A true child of the family will be ready to say of such, as Jacob said of Simeon andLevi,'« They are brethren tn u*JfMf* O my soul, come not thou into their secret,' &c. Ihtis I have given you some marks which have a relation to the first character given to believers in the text.
I come next to pursue a trial, with an eye toward the second character or designation of vessels of different sizes, vessels of cups, and vessels of flagons, all hanging upon the nail fastened in a sure place. In the church, which is the house of the living God, there are vessels of mercy and vessels of wrath, vessels of honour fitted for the Master's use, and vessels ot wrath fitted for destruction. . J,
Now, here some may readily put the question, How may I know if I lje a vessel of mercy and honour? For clearing the way to the answering of this question, you will consider, thai all the children of men sprung of Adam by natural generation, the elect of God as weil as others, are, in the eye of th« law. vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, through the polio tion and guilt of original or actual sin. And until God comi in a day of power, and dig the vessel of mercy from under tb filth and rubbish of the fall of Adim, no man can make a dil ference betwixt the vessels of mercy, and of wrath, because thi is among secret things that belong to the Lord.
But if the question be, How may a person know if he ■:
yec a vessel i>t mercy fitted by regenerating and fanctifvin j
grace for the Master's use? il.'.th God yet formed me fi*'
h he taken me out of nature's quarry, out of tl
d washed, and justified, and sanctified me in tl T
! of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit cf our God? Noi V'i
■ £t I say, is this be the question, I will give you a few marks of the vessels of mercy and honour:
i. Every vessel of mercy in the house of our God (whether they be vessels of cups, or vessels of flagons), has seen himself tobe a vessel of wrath by nature, condemned already, fullof ihevermine of sin and corruption, treasuring up to himself vruh against the day of wrath. Hence all God's Israel are ready to take up that melancholy song, *• A Syrian- ready to peril}) was I: At that time I was afar oss, an alien to the commonwealth of Israel, a stranger to the covenant of promise,' without God, without Christ, and without hope in the world." Hence,
2. All the vessels of mercy are taken up in admiring the rich and free mercy of God, in taking -up the like of them from among the pots. "Not by the works of righteousness. hut according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of retention," &c. Oh, says Paul, " I was a blasphemer, a perforator, an injurious person, but I obtained mercy. He took K (fays David) out of the horrible pit, and miry clay, and winy feet upon a rock, and put a new song in my mouth,
I "tn praises unto our God." I- All God's vessels of mercy have undergone the hammer tfAe /aw in a greater or lesser measure: "Is not my word shammer, faith the 'Lord, that breaketh the rock in pieces?" ■xhw is a school-master, to lead us unto Christ* So much simmering by the law is necessary, and no more, as serves to *»t the heart and hands of a sinner off from the broken nail the law, in point of righteousness. "I through the law ifsPau!), am dead to the law." So much of this hammer 'eittdful, as to beat down the vain and towering imagina«5iof our own goodness, holiness, wisdom, and right-ous-~rf', the Dagon of self, in all the shapes and forms of it, rri be broken down for ever. The vessel of mercy shall neJ-'more say with the proud Pharisee, " God, 1 thank thee, ^elsm not as other men ;" or, with Laodicea, " I am rich, "^increased wish goods, and stand in need of nothing."
+ All the vessels of mercy are m.:de heartily content to
i**"^ their holding. All mankind have their holding either
■**e first or second-Adam; they art* either hanging by He
.Won/il of the covenant of works, or by the gospel-nail of
fltnvenant of grace; they arc either leekir>g life and righ
'**&(% by the works of the law, ot by the grace of the gos
)1& Now, in a day of conversion, the sinner having his hands
fcuAtd off from his first holding, he, by th? hand of faith,
■*«»i» God's gift, receives Christ, and takes hold of that co
i^w*bereof he t6 head, faying, '• In him will 1 be justified, and in htm will I glory; for in him have I righteousness and strength; he is to me the end of the law for righteousness for he was made sin for us, though he knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of Qod in him;" so Paul, Phil. iii. 3- o
5. All the vessels of mercy are melted in the sire of gospel grace and love, and made pliable to the will of God. The heart of stone is melted into a heart of flesh, Ezek. xxxvi. 26. The iron sinew of the obstinate will, through the heat of divine love, is made to give way, and yield unto the divine will, PsaJ. c*. 3. ; the language of every vessel of mercy, is, "Lord what wilt thou have me to do?" The adamantine heart is dis. solved into evangelical repentance, so that the man novy looks on him whom he had pierced, and mourns," Zech. xii. 10.
6. AU the vessels of the house are washed, and will be frequently washing themselves, in the fountain of a Redeemer's blood, from sin and from unclean ness, Zech. xiii. 1. The vessels of the house, through remaining corruption, tempt.-.' tion, and frequent falls into the puddle of actual fin, gather tiust, and become dim and unfit for the use and service of the great Father and Manager of the house ; and therefore he will have them sprinkled with clean water; he will have their hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and their bodies washed with pure water: "Except I wash thee (says Chrii^ to Peter), thou haft po part in me." And this washing h what they themselves cry for, especially when defiled wit)] any fall: hence they cry, w^th David, Psal. li. 2. " Wash m« throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.' And, ver. 7. " Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean wash me, and I shall he whiter than snow."
7. All the vessels of the house, from the least to the greatest have the name of the Father- of the house, and of the Manage 1 of the house, and os the house or city they pertain to, engr.i yen upon them. It has been, and Itili is, the custom of greu men, to have their names and arms graven on their gold am silver vessels; so is it in the house os our God. All the ves sels of mercy have his name and motto engraven upon them Rev. xiv. 1. " Lo, a Lamb stood on the Mount Sion, anc with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having theii Father's name written in their soreheads." They have th\ name of Christ, the great Manager of the house, written 01 them, particularly that name, Jtr. xxiii. 6. "The Lord ou: righteousness ;" and in this name of his do they rejoice all th< d?y long, for in his righteousness are they exalted. And then ae we are told, Rev- "i. 12. the name ot the new Jerusalem which comtth. down from God out of heaven, is engrav«n oq :. . '. tfc'vTn
them; for they prefer Jerusalem unto their chiefest jot. In z word, God's name, his glorf, honour, and authority, hi* truth, his worship, his cause, and interest, the word of God, the testimony of Jesus, the prerogatives of hi* crown and kingdom, every true believer hath these, as it were, engraven on his heirr, and will study to profess and maintain them before the world*
8. If yon- be the vessels of mercy and honour, the Master of the house will now and then be making use of you, by pouring the wine, the oil, the water, or milk of his grace and Spi* rit into you: "For oat of his fulness do we all receive, and grace for grace." Every vessel of the house is anointed with the frefli oil of the Holy Ghost: "We have an unction from the holy One." And they that want this anointing of the Spirit, iii one degree or another, the Manager of the house wiH not own them as his!" If any man have not the Spirit ef Christ, he is none of his." They will be found among the foolish virgins, whose vessels had no oil, when the mid-night cry was heard, •*' Behold, the bridegroom Cometh, go ye out w meet him." But, I say( all the vessels of mercy hate a greater or smaller measure of the anointing of the Spirit; and every anointing of the Spirit, enlargeth the vessel to hold more, afotrruch, that, through the frequent communications of the Spirit, a cup vessel at first becomes a large vessel, or a vessel os' 3igon, until it be ready to be transported from the lower to •it upper storey of the house, where every vessel shall be filled timful of God.
^uest. Some exercised soul may be ready to say, O how happy would I be, if I knew that I were but the least vessel in 4e house of God, hanging on the nail fastened in a sure place! but, alas! 1 am such a poOr, worthless, useless Creature, that I am afraid I am none of them.
Ansto. It is the nature of all the vessels of mercy in the house of God, yea, of the great flagons, to esteem themselves *orthress, and among the least, yea, less than the least of all the vessels of the house. Eph. iii. 8. fays the great apostle Patrl, •' I am kss than the least of all saints." And the lower that they sink in their own eyes, the higher do they rise in the tSeem of the great Lord of the house, If. Ivii. 15. and the £iore of his grace and favour do they receive, for " he giveth gnee unto the humble."
QhjtEl. 2. May another fay, I am so broken and tossed with worldly trials, that I am ready to think I am none of the orE; spring or vessels of his house. Ansto. " Many are the afflictions of the righteou-, and through many tribulations we must *a»r into the kingdom." Ghrift himself suffered before he
entered entered into his glory, and so have all the cloud of witnesses, Heb. xt. And therefore it is a false conclusion to think you do not belong to the Lord, because of multiplied roots of affliction ; for *' if we be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers* then are we bastards and not sons. Whom the Lord loveth, he chasttneth." God's gold and silver vessels go frequently into the furnace, and there is a netd-bc for ir, to purge away their, dross.; and therefore learn to fay with Job, " When thou hast tried me, thou shalt bring me forth as gold."
Objetl- 3. I am such a vile polluted creature, that I cannot think 1 am one of his offspring by regeneration, none of the vessels of honour, but rather a vessel of wrath, fitted for destruction. Ansiu. God will not cast away his gold and silver vessels, because of the dross and alloy of sin and corruption that is about them. A man wHl take up a vessel of his house, though it be lying in a dunghill. So here; David, Solomon, P<ter, and many others of the faints, fell into the mire of sin, and yet the Lord took them from the dunghill, and made them like the wings of a dove., And therefore, seeing God will no: cast off for ever, do not you cast otFyeurself. \
Objell. 4. I a;-, so.harassed whh Satan and his fiery darts, that I am afraid I am none of God's children, none of his vessels; I am tempted to evils and abominations that I am afraid to name to any in the world. Anfw. Christ himself wasttmpud in all things as we are, that he might be a merciful high priest, to sympathize with them that are tempted. Again, consider, for thy encouragement, that usually the devil gives the forest pulls and putties at the offspring of God's house, at the gold and silver v.ssels of his family: and if you did not belong to God, Satan would not pursue you so much. When Israel came out of Egypt, then Pharaoh and his host pursued most vigorously. Again, " The God of peace ihail bruise Satan under your sect iiiortly."
Objetl- 5.I am none of the offspring or vessels; for God i* hiding, and carrying to me as an enemy, insomuch that the very remembrance of him is a terror to me. ytnsw. This is no unprecedented caXe among God's children. David, when lie,":remembered God, he was troubled ;" Asaph cries, " Is his mercy clean gone?" Heman, Psal. Uxxviii. "While I suffer thy terrors, I am distracted." Yea, Christ, the firstborn and beloved Son, is under such agony of soul, that he cries out, " 1 am exceeding sorrowful, even unto death. It is hard to tell how far fatherly displeasure and chastisement may be carried; but this is an uncontroverted truth, that the foundation of God st^ndeth sure, and God will never dis» • inherit