First.  Is Satan such a great prince?  Try whose subject thou art.  His empire is large; [there are] only a few privileged who are translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.  Even in Christ’s own territories —[the] visible church I mean—where his name is professed and the sceptre of his gospel held forth, Satan hath his subjects.  As Christ had his saints in Nero’s court, so the devil his servants in the outward court of his visible church.  Thou must therefore have something more to exempt thee from his government, than living within the pale, and giving an outward conformity to the ordinances of Christ; Satan will yield to this and be no loser.  As a king lets his mer­chants trade to, yea, live in a foreign kingdom, and, while they are there, learn the language, and observe the customs of the place.  This breaks not their al­legiance; nor all that, thy loyalty to Satan.  When a statute was made in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, that all should come to church, the Papists sent to Rome to know the pope’s pleasure.  He returned then this answer, as it is said, ‘Bid the Catholics in England give me their heart, and let the queen take the rest.’ His subject thou art whom thou crownest in thy heart, and not whom thou flatterest with thy lips.

But to bring the trial to an issue, know that thou belongest to one of these, and but to one; Christ and satan divide the whole world.  Christ will bear no equal, and Satan no superior; and therefore, hold in with both thou canst not.

Now if thou sayest that Christ is thy prince,answer to these interrogatories.

1. How came he [Christ] into the throne?  Satan had once the quiet possession of thy heart; thou wast by birth, as the rest of thy neighbours, Satan’s vassal; yea, hast oft vouched him in the course of thy life to be thy liege lord; how then comes this great change?  Satan, surely, would not of his own accord resign his crown and sceptre to Christ; and for thyself, thou wert neither willing to renounce, nor able to resist, his power.  This then must only be the fruit of Christ’s victorious arms, whom God hath exalted ‘to be a Prince and a Saviour,’ Acts 5:31.  Speak therefore, Hath Christ come to thee, as once to Abraham to Lot, when prisoner to Chedorlaomer, rescuing thee out of Satan’s hands, as he was leading thee in the chains of lust to hell?  Didst thou ever hear a voice from heaven in the ministry of the word calling out to thee as once to Saul, so as to lay thee at God’s foot, and make thee face about for heaven; to strike thee blind in thine own apprehension, who before hadst a good opinion of thy state; to tame and meeken thee; so as now thou art willing to be led by the hand of a child after Christ?  Did ever Christ come to thee, as the angel to Peter in prison, rousing thee up, and not only causing the chains of darkness and stupidity to fall off thy mind and conscience, but make thee obe­dient also—that the iron gate of thy will hath opened to Christ before he left thee?  Then thou hast some­thing to say for thy freedom.  But if in all this I be a barbarian, and the language I speak be strange, thou knowest no such work to have passed upon thy spirit, then thou art yet in the old prison.  Can there be a change of government in a nation by a conqueror that invades it, and the subjects not hear of this?  One king unthroned and another crowned in thy soul, and thou hear no scuffle all this while?  The regenerating Spirit is compared to the wind, John 3:8.  His first at­tempts on the soul mat be so secret that the creature knows not whence they come, or whither they tend; but, before he hath done, the sound will be heard throughout the soul, so as it cannot but see a great change in itself, and say, ‘I that was blind, now see; I that was hard as ice, now relent for sin; now my heart gives; I can melt and mourn for it.  I that was well enough without a Christ, yea, did wonder what others saw in him, to make much ado for him, now have changed my note with the daughters of Jerusalem; and for, What is your Beloved? as I scornfully have asked; I have learned to ask where he is, that I might seek him with you.’  O soul, canst thou say it thus with thee?  Thou mayest know who has been here; no less than Christ, who, by his victorious Spirit, hath translated thee from Satan’s power into his own sweet kingdom.

 

2. Whose law dost thou freely subject thyself unto?  The laws of these princes are as contrary as their natures; the one a law of sin, Rom. 8:2; the other a law of holiness, Rom. 7:12; and therefore if sin hath not so far bereaved thee of thy wits, as not to know sin from holiness, thou mayest, except [thou] resolve to cheat thy own soul, soon be resolved.  Confess therefore and give glory to God; to which of these laws doth thy soul set its seal?  When Satan sends out his proclamation, and bids the sinner go, set thy foot upon such a command of God.  Observe what is thy behaviour; dost thou yield thyself, as Paul phraseth it, Rom. 6:16[5]; ‘yield yourselves,’ a metaphor from princes’ servants or others, who are said to present themselves before their lord, as ready and at hand to do their pleasure; by which the apostle ele­gantly describes the forwardness of the sinner’s heart to come to Satan’s foot, when knocked or called. Now doth thy soul go out thus to meet thy lust, as Aaron his brother, glad to see its face in an occasion? Thou art not brought over to sin with much ado, but thou likest the command.  Transgress at Gilgal, saith God, this liketh you well, Hosea 4:5[6].  As a courtier, who doth not only obey, but thank his prince that he will employ him.  Needest thou be long in resolving whose thou art?  Did ever any question, whether those were Jeroboam’s subjects, who willingly fol­lowed his command? Hosea 5:11.  Alas, for thee, thou art under the power of Satan, tied by a chain stronger than brass or iron; thou lovest thy lust.  A saint may be for a time under a force; sold under sin, as the apostle bemoans; and therefore glad when deliverance comes; but thou sellest thyself to work iniquity.  If Christ should come to take thee from thy lusts, thou wouldst whine after them, as Micah after his gods.

 

Second.  Bless God, O ye saints, who upon the former trial, can say you are translated into the kingdom of Christ, and so delivered from the tyranny of this usurper.  There are few but have some one gaudy day in a year, which they solemnize; some keep their birthday, others their marriage; some their man­umission from a cruel service, others their deliverance from some imminent danger.  Here is a mercy where all these meet.  You may call it, as Adam did his wife, Evah, the mother of all the living; every mercy riseth up and calls this blessed.  This is thy birth-day; thou wert before, but beganst to live when Christ began to live in thee.  The father of the prodigal dated his son’s life from his return: ‘This my son was dead, and is alive.’  Is it thy marriage day: ‘I have married you to one husband, even Christ Jesus,’ saith Paul to the Corinthians.  Perhaps thou hast enjoyed this thy hus­band’s sweet company many a day, and had a nu­merous offspring of joys and comforts by thy fellow­ship with him, the thought of which cannot but en­dear him to thee, and make the day of thy espousals delightful to thy memory.  It is thy manumission; then were thy indentures cancelled, wherein thou wert bound to sin and Satan.  When the Son made thee free, thou becamest free indeed.  Thou canst not say thou wast born free, for thy father was a slave; not that thou boughtest thy freedom with a sum.  By grace ye are saved.  Heaven is settled on thee in the promise, and thou not at charge so much as for the writing’s drawing.  All is done at Christ’s cost, with whom God indented, and to whom he gave the prom­ise of eternal life before the world began, as a free estate to settle upon every believing soul in the day they should come to Christ, and receive him for their Prince and Saviour; so that from the hour thou didst come under Christ’s shadow, all the sweet fruit that grows on this tree of life is thine.  With Christ, all that both worlds have, fall to thee; all is yours, because you are Christ’s.

O Christian, look upon thyself now, and bless thy God to see what a change there is made to thy state, since that black and dismal time, when thou wert slave to the prince of darkness.  How couldst thou like thy old scullion’s work again, or think of returning to thy house of bondage, now thou knowest the privileges of Christ’s kingdom?  Great princes, who from baseness and beggary have ascended to kingdoms and empires—to add to the joy of their present honour—have delighted to speak often of their base birth, to go and see the mean cottages where they were first entertained, and had their birth and breeding and the like.  And it is not unuseful for the Christian to look in at the grate, to see the smoky hole where once he lay, to view the chains wherewith he was laden, and so to compare Christ’s court and the devil’s prison—the felicity of the one and the horror of the other—together.  But when we do our best to affect our hearts with this mercy, by all the enhancing aggravations we can find out, alas, how little a portion of it shall we know here?  This is a nimium excellens—a surpassing excellence, which cannot be fully seen, unless it be by a glorified eye. How can it be fully known by us, where it cannot be fully enjoyed?  Thou art translated into the kingdom of Christ, but thou art a great way from his court. That is kept in heaven, and that the Christian knows, but as we [know] far countries which we never saw only by map, or some rarities that are sent us as a taste of what grows there in abundance.

Third.  This, Christian, calls for thy loyalty and faithful service to Christ, who hath saved thee from Satan’s bondage.  Say, O ye saints, to Christ, as they say to Gideon, ‘Come thou and rule over us, for thou hast delivered us from the hand, not of Midian, but of Satan.’  Who so able to defend thee from his wrath, as he who broke his power? who like to rule thee so tenderly, as he that could not brook another’s tyranny over thee?  In a word, who hath right to thee besides him, who ventured his life to redeem thee? —that being delivered from all thine enemies, thou mayest serve him without fear in holiness all the days of thy life.  And were it not pity that Christ should take all this pains to lift up thy head from Satan’s house of bondage, and give thee a place among those in his own house, who are admitted to minister unto him—which is the highest honour the nature of men or angels is capable of—and that thou shouldst after all this be found to have a hand in any treasonable practice against thy dear Saviour?  Surely Christ may think he hath deserved better at your hands, if at none besides.  Where shall a prince safely dwell, if not in the midst of his own courtiers? and those such were all taken from chains and prisons to be thus pre­ferred, the more to oblige them in his service.  Let devils and devilish men do their own work, but let not thy hand, O Christian, be upon thy dear Saviour. But this is too little, to bid thee not play the traitor. If thou hast any loyal blood running in thy veins, thy own heart will smite thee when thou rendest the least skirt of his holy law; thou canst as well carry burning coals in thy bosom, as hide any treason there against thy dear Sovereign.  No, it is some noble enterprise I would have thee think upon, how thou mayest ad­vance the name of Christ higher in thy heart, and [in the] world too, as much as in thee lies.  O how kindly did God take it, that David, when peaceably set in his throne, was casting about, not how he might entertain himself with those pleasures which usually corrupt and debauch the courts of princes in times of peace, but how he might show his zeal for God, in building a house for his worship that had reared a throne for him, II Sam. 7.  And is there nothing, Christian, thou canst think on, wherein thou mayest be instrumental for God in thy generation?  He is not a good subject, that is all for what he can get of his prince, but never thinks what he may do for him; nor he the true Chris­tian, whose thoughts dwell more on his own happi­ness than on the honour of his God.  If subjects might choose what life stands best for their own en­joyment, all would desire to live at court with their prince; but because the prince’s honour is more to be valued than this, therefore, noble spirits, to do their prince service, can deny the delicacies of a court, to jeopard their lives in the field, and thank their prince too for the honour of their employment.  Blessed Paul upon these terms was willing to have his day of coronation in glory prorogued[7], and he to stay as companion with his brethren in tribulation here, for the furtherance of the gospel.  This, indeed, makes it worth the while to live[8], that we have by a fair op­portunity—if hearts to husband it—in which we may give a proof of our real gratitude to our God, for his redeeming love in rescuing us out of the power of the prince of darkness, and translating us into the king­dom of his dear Son.  And therefore, Christian, lose no time, but, what thou meanest to do for God, do it quickly.

Art thou a magistrate? now it will be soon seen on whose side thou art.  If indeed thou hast re­nounced allegiance to Satan, and taken Christ for thy prince, declare thyself an enemy to all that bear the name of Satan, and march under his colours.  Study well by commission, and when thou understandest the duty of thy place, fall to work zealously for God.  Thou hast thy prince’s sword put into thy hand.  Be sure thou use it, and take heed how thou usest it, that when called to deliver it up, and thy account also, it may not be found rusty in the sheath through sloth and cowardice, besmeared with the blood of vio­lence, not bent and gaped with partiality and injustice.

Art thou a minister of the gospel?  Thy employ­ment is high, an ambassador, and that not from some petty prince, but from the great God to his rebellious subjects; a calling so honourable, that the Son of God disdained not to come in extraordinary from heaven to perform it, called therefore the ‘messenger of the covenant,’ Mal. 3:1; yea, he had to this day stayed on earth in person about it, had he not been called to re­side as our ambassador and advocate in heaven with the Father; and therefore in his bodily absence he hath intrusted thee, and a few more, to carry on the treaty with sinners, which, when on earth, himself began.  And what can you do more acceptable to him, than to be faithful in it, as a business on which he hath set his heart so much?  As ever you would see his sweet face with joy—you that are his ambassadors —attend to your work, and labour to bring this treaty of peace to a blessed issue between and those you are sent to.  And then if sinners will not come off, and seal the articles of the gospel, you shall, as Abraham said to his servant, be clear of your oath.  Though Israel be not gathered, yet you shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord.

And let not the private Christian say he is a dry tree, and can do nothing for Christ his prince, be­cause he may not bear the magistrate’s fruit or minis­ter’s.  Though thou hast not a commission to punish the sins of others with the sword of justice, yet thou mayest show thy zeal in mortifying thy own with the sword of the Spirit, and mourn for theirs also; though thou mayest not condemn them on the bench, yet thou mayest, yea, oughtest, by the power of a holy life, to convince and judge them.  Such a judge Lot was to the Sodomites.  Though thou art not sent to preach and baptize, yet thou mayest be wonderfully helpful to them that are.  The Christian’s prayers whet [the] magistrates and ministers’ sword also.  O pray, Christian, and pray again, that Christ’s terri­tories may be enlarged.  Never go to hear the Word but pray, Thy kingdom come.  Loving princes take great content in the acclamations and good wishes of their subjects as they pass by.  A vivat rex—long live the king—coming from a loyal breast, though poor, is more worth than a subsidy from those who deny their hearts while they part with their money.  Thou serv­est a prince, Christian, who knows what all his sub­jects think of him, and he counts it his honour not to have a multitude feignedly submit to him, but to have a people that love him and cordially like his govern­ment, who, if they were to choose their king, and make their own laws they should live under every day, would desire no other than himself, nor any other laws than what they have already from his mouth.  It was no doubt great content to David, that he had the hearts of his people, so as whatever the king did, pleased them all, II Sam. 3:36.  And surely God took it as well, that what he did pleased David, for indeed David was content under the rule and disposure of God as the people were under his.  Witness the calm­ness of his spirit in the greatest affliction that ever befell him: ‘Behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him,’ II Sam. 15:26.  Loyal soul! he had rather live in exile, with the good-will of God, than have his throne, if God will not say it is good for him.

 

 

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