- Influence. This peace enjoyed in the Christian’s bosom hath a sweet influence into his self-denial—as grace so necessary to suffering, that Christ lays the cross, as I may so say, upon the back of it. ‘Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me,’ Mark 8:34. Another, with Simon of Cyrene, may be compelled to carry Christ’s cross after him a little way. But, it is the self-denying soul that will stoop willingly, and down on his knees, to have this burden laid on him at Christ’s hand. Now the sense of a soul’s peace with God will enable the creature in a twofold self-denial, and by both, sweetly dispose him for any suffering from or for Christ.
(1.) The sense of this peace will enable the Christian to deny himself in his sinful self. Sin may well be called ourself; it cleaves so close to us, even as members to our body. [It is] as hard to mortify a lust as to cut off a joint. Some sins too are more ourself than others, as our life is more bound up in some members than others. Well, let them be what they will, there is a good day, in which, if Christ asks the head of the proudest lust among them all, he shall have it with less regret than Herodias obtained the Baptist’s at Herod’s hands. And what is that gaudy day, in which the Christian can so freely deny his sin, and deliver it up to justice, but when Christ is feasting him with this ‘hidden manna’ of pardon and peace? A true friend will rather deny himself than one he loves dearly, if it be in his power to grant his request. But, least of all can he deny him, when his friend is doing him a greater kindness at the same time that he asks a less. No such picklock to open the heart as love. When love comes a begging, and that at a time when it is showing itself in some eminent expression of kindness to him at whose door she knocks, there is little fear but to speed. Esther chose that time to engage Ahasuerus’ heart against Haman her enemy, when she expressed her love most to Ahasuerus, viz. at a banquet. When doth God give, or indeed when can he give, the like demonstration of his love to a poor soul, as when he entertains it at this gospel banquet? Now sure, if ever, God may prevail with his child to send the cursed Amalekite to the gallows, his lust to the gibbet. Do you think that Mary Magdalene, when that blessed news dropped from Christ into her mournful heart, that her ‘sins, which were many, were all forgiven her,’ could now have been persuaded to have opened the door to any of her former lovers, and gone out of these embraces of Christ’s love to have played the whore again? No, I doubt not but she would sooner have chosen the flames of martyrdom than of lust. Indeed, that which can make the creature deny a lust, can make the creature it shall not deny a cross.