CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR: THE PRIVILEGES OF THE GODLY: STRENGTH TO AVOID AND RECOVER FROM SIN
- As for the second, that it is, that the faithful are taught and enabled of God to avoid great faults and reproachful evils, this is plain for Scripture. Proverbs 19:23; Saul 119 10-11. And is seen it the examples Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, show; with others who for the time of their dear acquaintance with God, committed not any such heinous press passes, as work common stains lives in the lives of others.
- By this so excellent and invaluable privilege, the doing of good becomes meat and drink onto the faithful, so that they can serve God even in a good and joyful heart in all things. Deuteronomy 12:18, 28:47. That they mind heavenly things without that tediousness which is seen in others; perform earthly business with heavenly minds; and always rejoice before the Lord.
- And Still Perfection is not for Now.
- Not that they have no rebellion; for they find strife always, and are in part led captive by it, that they might not triumph before the victory. Partly that feeling their own weakness, they may more wholly depend on God, and partly that their future victory may appear more glorious. But all this while, though many wounds be received, the Christian is never so vanquished, but that recovering again by the power of God he goes on with steadfast joy.
- The Liberty of Repentance
- A further liberty is that if a godly do by any occasion fall from their settled course into any offense, whereby their consciences are wounded and accuse themselves, they may return again on to God, with certain assurance of be received by him. 1 John 2:2. Without this privilege they are were but small encouragement for any Christian, because of our frequent falls.
- Therefore the Lord does not only permit us to do thus, but calls and waits for it; yes, he is highly offended if we do not do so. Jeremiah 8. And for the effecting of it, he has given charge to the pastors, as in Ezekiel 34:3, and to others, Galatians 6:1. How great a privilege this is, they know full well who have experience of an afflicted conscience, to whom no tidings can be more gladsome than this, if it be rightly applied. It draws from such many thanks and praises, and so brings much honor to God.
- Not an Encouragement to Sin
- But this must be warily and wisely received, that we neither take occasion hence to embolden ourselves to sin, or to content ourselves with slight repentance; for God’s mercies must be instantly sought for, and then his favor may not be doubted of, as appears by the example in Ezekiel 10:1.
- So that here are two extremes are to be avoided, that is, that neither we presume upon slight and shallow repentance, nor languish in desperate and unfruitful sorrow, but in sound humiliation hope steadfastly for pardon and say to our souls as David does Psalm 43:5.
- The same it is spoken of actual sins must also be understood of dullness, idleness, unprofitable barrenness of heart; and such other corruptions which are wont to quench the work of God’s Spirit and to be the seed of many cursed evils. The Lord’s will is that from hence we should expect faith to give us strength to avoid sin as much as we expect his mercy to forgive sin.
God has Given us Means to Obtain Help
- The very helps themselves which God has given to us to further our salvation are great privileges, and so to be accounted.
- As that by prayer we may have access to God to break our mind, lay open our grief, and that with confidence. And that by watchfulness, we may escape those dangerous snares of Satan, wherein so many are entangled, and that we may in the end of every day make up our accounts with joy, to keep all straight. For onto these, suchlike helps, God has promised a blessing and we must by faith look constantly the same. For there is no fruit of the best helps if we use them not in faith. James 1:6.
- These are great privileges, that howsoever many through earthliness, sloth, and waywardness, out of their hearts they be not so esteemed, and therefore either not used, or else formally or slightly, yet we should account the more of them: as being so glorious, that the dim eyes of profane persons could not behold. Praise God the more, who makes them so sweet and gainful for us, which on to many are very gall and wormwood.
The previous post in this series may be found here: https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/11/18/paul-baynes-brief-directions-unto-a-godly-life-chapter-23-2/