PEACE OF INDEMNITY AND SERVICE the blessing of the gospel

           

The fourth and last sort of peace which I thought to have spoken of, is a peace with all the creatures, even the most fierce and cruel.  I called it a peace of indemnity and service.  This, Adam, in his primitive state, enjoyed.  While he was innocent, all the creatures were innocent and harmless to him. The whole creation was at his service.  No mutinous prin­ciple was found in any creature that did incline it in the least to rebel against him.  When God sent the beasts of the field and fowls of the air to receive names from him, it was that they should do their homage to him and acknowledge him as their lord; and that he, by exercising that act of authority over them—in giving them names —might have an experiment of his perfect, though not absolute and indepen­dent, dominion over them.  But no sooner did man withdraw his allegiance from God; than all the crea­tures—as if they had been sensible of the wrong man by his apostasy had done his and their Maker, by whose patent he had held his lordship over them —presently forget their subjection to him, yea, take up arms in their supreme Lord’s quarrel against apos­tate man.  And thus they continue in array against him, till God and man meet together again in a happy covenant of peace; and then the commission, which God in wrath gave them against rebel man, is called in; and, in the same day that God and the believing soul are made friends, the war ends between him and them.  ‘In that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven,’ Hosea 2:18.  And mark the day from whence this covenant bears date: ‘In that day,’ that is, in the day that ‘I betroth thee unto me.’  So that our peace with the creatures comes in by our peace with God. And this being the blessing of the gospel, so must that also.  But as our peace with God is not so perfectly enjoyed in this life, but God hath left himself a liberty to chastise his reconciled ones, and that sharply too; so our peace with the creatures doth not hinder but that they may be, yea often are, the rod which God useth to correct them with.  The water may drown one saint, and the fire consume another to ashes, and yet these creatures at peace with these saints; because they are not sent by God in wrath against them, for any real hurt that God means them thereby.  This indeed was the commission he gave all the creatures against apos­tate man as part of his curse for his sin.  He sent the creatures against him—as a prince doth his general against a company of traitors in arms against him—with authority to take vengeance on them for their horrid rebellion against their Maker. But now the commission is altered, and runs in a more comfortable strain.  Go, fire, and be the chariot in which such a saint may be brought home from earth to me in heaven’s glory.  Go, water, waft another; and so of all the rest.  Not a creature comes on a worse message to a saint.  It is true they are sharp corrections as to the present smart they bring; but they are ever mercies, and do a friendly office in the intention of God and happy issue to the believer.  ‘All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,’ Rom. 8:28.  And the apostle speaks it as a common principle well known among the saints.  ‘We know that all things work,’ &c., as if he had said, ‘Where is the saint that doth not know this?’  And yet it were happy for us {if} we knew it better.  Some of us would then pass our days more comfortably than now we do.  But I intend not a discourse of this.  Let brevity here make amends for prolixity in the former. We come, however, to the third inquiry or question from these words propounded.

 

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