How Gospel Peace Prepares the Soul for Suffering BY ITS INFLUENCES 1/3

 Second.  Gospel peace prepares the heart for suffering, as it is influential unto the saint’s graces and affections, exciting them, and making them act to such a height, as lifts him above the fear of trouble and suffering.

  1. Influence. This peace where it is felt, makes the Christian unconquerable in his faith.  Nothing is too hard for such a one to believe, that carries a par­don in his con­science, that hath his peace with God sealed to him.  Moses was to meet with many difficulties in that great work of conducting Israel out of Egypt towards Canaan.  Therefore, to make them all a more easy conquest to his faith, when he should be assaulted with them, God gives him at his very first entering upon his charge an experiment of his mighty power in some miracles—as the turning {of} his rod into a serpent, and that again into a rod, making his hand leprous, and then restoring it again to be as sound as before—that he might never think anything too hard for that God to do towards their salvation and deliverance, even when things seem most desperate.  And how unconquerable Moses was after these in his faith, we see.  Truly, when God speaks to a poor soul, he gives such a testimony of his almighty power and love, that, so long as the sweet sense of this lasts in the soul, the creature’s faith cannot be posed.  What doth God in his pardoning mercy, but turn the serpent of the law—with all its threatenings, from which the sinner fled, as that which would sting him to death—into the blossoming rod of the gospel, that brings forth the sweet fruit of peace and life?  And which is the greater miracle of the two, think you?—the leprous hand of Moses made clean and sound, or a poor sinner’s heart, leprous with sin, made clean and pure by washing in the blood of Christ?  Certainly this miracle of mercy, where it is strongly believed to be done, will make it easy for that soul to trust God in a sea of temporal sufferings, and cheerfully follow him through a whole wilderness of troubles in this life.  When David hath comfortable apprehensions of God’s pardoning mercy, then his faith is up, and can strongly act on God for tem­poral deliverance.  We find him, Ps. 32:5, under the sweet sense of his peace with God, able to vouch God as reconciled to him.  ‘I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.’  And now see, ver. 7, to what a height his faith acts on God as to outward troubles.  ‘Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.’  He spells this, which is the less, from the other, that is incomparably the greater mercy.

           2. Influence. This peace with God, where it is felt, fills the heart with love to Christ.  The Chris­tian’s love to Christ takes fire at Christ’s love to him.  And the hotter Christ’s love lies on the soul, the stronger reflection doth the creature make of love to him again, ‘she loved much,’ to whom much was ‘forgiven,’ Luke 7:47.  And the more love, the less fear there will be of suffering.  We will venture far for a dear friend.  When Christ told his disciples Lazarus was dead, Thomas would needs go and die with him for company, John 11:16.  So powerful is love, even as strong as death.  ‘For a good man,’ saith the apostle, ‘some would even dare to die’—that is, a merciful kind man, whose had endeared him to them.  How much more daring will a gracious soul be to sacrifice his life for a good God?  ‘Thy name,’ saith the spouse of Christ, ‘is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee,’ Song 1:3.  Then Christ’s name is poured forth, when the love of God through him is shed abroad in the soul.  Let this precious box be but broke, and the sweet savour of it diffused in the heart, and it will take away the unsavoury scent of the most stinking prison in the world.  This heavenly fire of Christ’s love, beaming powerfully on the soul, will not only put out the kitchen fire of creature love; but also the hell fire, as I may call it, of slavish fear.  What makes us so aghast at the thoughts of death, especially if it comes towards us in a bloody dress, and hath some circumstances of persecutors’ cruelty, to put a further grimness on its unpleasing counte­nance?  Surely this comes from guilt, and  unac­quaintance with Christ, and what he hath done for us; who came partly on this very errand into the world, ‘To deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage,’ Heb. 2:15.  And how hath he done it, but by reconciling us to God, and so reconciling us to the thoughts of death itself, as that which only can do us this kind office—bring us and Christ, that hath done all this for us, together

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