Yield Yourselves Unto God

BY ROBERT WALKER Romans vi. 12, 13. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof: neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin ; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instru- ments of righteousness unto God.
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YIELD YOURSELVES U TO GOD BY ROBERT WALKER Romans vi. 12, 13. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof: neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin ; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. A HE Apostle had, in the preceding part of the Epistle, opened at great length that fundamental doctrine of our holy religion, the justification of a sinner through faith in Jesus Christ. In the chapter from which the text is taken, he proceeds to guard the Christians to whom he wrote against those false conclusions which they might be in danger of inferring from this doctrine. And, that none might pretend to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, he shews, with great strength of evidence, that the truths which he had been stating, so far from giving encouragement to a licentious life, on the contrary, laid peculiar obligations on all who embraced them to a strict and universal holiness. This he argues from the nature of Christian baptism, the initiating seal of the covenant of grace, showing, that by this rite we are solemnly engaged to die unto sin and live unto righteousness, in conformity to Christ's death and resurrection, signified in that ordinance. Afterwards he goes on to dissuade them from giving indulgence to sin in any kind or degree, and to enforce the obligations to uuiver- SERMO LV. 277 sal purity by a variety of weighty arguments. " Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body." Sin is said to reigHf when it bears chief sway in the soul, and the person is wholly subject to its influence. The best and most sanctified Christian on earth hath still some remainder of corruption abiding in him : For perfection dotli not belong to the present state; and he that saith he hath no sin, deceiveth himself, and the truth is not in him. The Apostle therefore expresseth himself in this qualified manner. Let not sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Beware of giving way to your sensual appetites, otherwise you forfeit all the comfort of the doctrine which I have been teaching, and must be concluded strangers to that grace of God, which effectually teacheth those who are partakers of it, to *^ deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the world.*' Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, tliat ye should obey it in the lusts thereof: neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin ; " but yield yourselves unto God.'' It is this last exhortation which I propose to make the sul>jcct of the present discourse; and I intend, in the First place. To explain what is implied in yielding ourselves to God ; Secondly^ To offer some directions as to the right manner of performing this duty; and Thirdly, To enforce the exhortation by some arguments. I begin witli explaining the duty itself. And, in general, it implies, that whatever we possess, all that we are, or have, or can do, should be consecrated to God, and devoted to his service and honour. The being whicli we kve is derived from liim ; every blessing which we en- S78 SERMO LV. joy is the fruit of his bounty; every talent with which we are distinguished was freely' bestowed by him. To him, therefore, they ought to be entirely surrendered, and in the advancement of his glory at all times employed. When we serve God with the best of our faculties, and with the most valuable of our possessions, Wliat is the wiiole amount of our oiiering? Surely if ever selfcomplacent thoughts on this point might have bren indulged, David migiit have indulged them, when he, and a willing people with him, offered unto the Lord of their most precious subslance with a perfect heart. Yet hear how humbly he speaks of all the costly oblations which he had brought. " ^^'ho am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort; for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and the earth are thine; thine is the kingdom, and thou art exalted as head above all." More particularly, we must yield to God our immortal souls, with all the intellectual powers which they possess. We must dedicate our understanding to the Father of Lights, to be illuminated by him with saving knowledge, to be employed in contemplating his nature and perfection ; above all, to know Jesus, and him crucified, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We must dedicate our will to that holy rule 0f resignation which David expressed when he said, ^' Here am I, let the Loid do unto me what seemeth good in his sight;" and which David's Lord expressed in circumstances infinitely more trying: *•' Father, not my will, but thine be done." We must consecrate our memories to be treasuries of divine truth, our affections SERMO LV. 879 to the pursuit of those things which are above, our senses to the salutary discipline of self-denial, and our members as instruments of holiness to God. All our possessions and enjoyments must be devoted to God. Our wealth and power, our time and our faculties, nay life itself, which is the foundation of all our comforts, must be entirely resigned to him. either must we count death itself grievous, so that we finish our course with joy and true honour. We must yield ourselves to God in all capacities and relations wherein his providence may have placed us, and improve the advantages of our different conditions in life for the advancement of his glory. Are we masters or servants, parents or children, pastors or people, rulers or subjects, let us, in all these relations, be devoted to God, and discharge the various duties which result from them with fidelity and zeal, that we may glorify our Father in heaven, who hath appointed to every man liis proper work, and will at length demand an account of the manner in which we have performed it. If it be inquired for what purposes we are thus to yield ourselves unto God, the following particulars will furnish the answer. ist. We are to yield ourselves to God, to do whatsoever he commands; in all instances of duty, to give a prompt and cheerful obedience to his authority. It ought to be sufficient for us, in every case, to know what God hath pronounced to be an obligation, whatever the world or the flesh may have to say against it. This is the true way to keep our minds in a steady decisive frame. '' A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." He who seeks to ascertain other points besides his duty, will find himself perplexed with perpetual diflicuUies. Embarrassed with attending to distracting and opposite ggO SERMO LV. counsels, his conduct will neither be firm nor graceful ; and, even when he does what is right, he will be unable to enjoy the satisfaction of it, conscious that he did it not in that simplicity and godly sincerity which alone can render our oI)edience acceptable. We are therefore to yield ourselves to God as our supreme Lawgiver, who hath an unquestionable title to the service of all our active powers, saying with Samuel, " Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth ;" and with the apostle Paul, " Lord what wilt thou have me to do?"' 2f%. We must yield ourselves to God not only to do bttt to suffer liis will. The rewards of active obedience are not found in tlie present life : on the contrary, the most faithful servants of God are often visited with the severest dispensations of Providence. AVe must therefore not only have our loins girt about for cheerful obedience, but our minds prepared also for patient suifering. We must be ready to resign our most valuable possessions, and our dearest comforts, the moment that they are reclaimed by him who at first bestowed them, saying with Job, " The Lord gave, and the Loid hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord ;" and, with David, ''I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that in very taithfulness thou hast afflicted me." We are already in the hand of God, by our essential dependance, as the clay is in the hands of the potter; let us likewise be so by our own consent and choice. This is the true balm of life. It is this that softens adversity, and alleviates the load of sorrow. In this we unite the noblest duty which we can perform, and the most precious Ijenefits whicli we can reap. What wisdom can compare with the wisdom of resignation, which not only softens inevitable evils, but turns them into real and permanent good ; which not only sooths the sense of suffering, but secures a happy and a glorious reward. SERMO LV. 281 Sdly. We must yield ourselves to God, to be disposed of by his providence, as to our lot and condition in the world. " He hath made of one blood all that dwell upon the face of the earth.'' He hath fixed tiie precise issues of life and death, and hath appointed where we shall dwell, and what station we shall occupy in the world. To one he saith. Be thou a king; and to another, Be thou a beggar. All these things come forth of the Lord of Hosts; and in his will we must cheerfully acquiesce, with a firm and meek resolution to be disposed of as he sees meet, and to glorify him in the place and station which he hath assigned us ; to serve him cheerfully, while he hath service for us to perform in this world ; and at last to resign our souls into his hands, when he shall require them. 4:thly. As we must be resigned to the will of God with respect to our outward lot, so we must be satisfied with his disposal, as to the measure of spiritual gifts which he is pleased to bestow on us. Should he make us but as the foot, we must be as well contented as if he had made us the hand or the head, and rejoice that we are found qualified for being even the least honourable member in Christ's mystical body. We must not envy our brother for being wiser or better than we, more than for being richer or nobler. And though we may covet earnestly the best gifts, yet if, in the use of appointed means, we cannot attain to them, we ought, with resignation to the Father of lights, to make a diligent and faithful use of what God hath given us, trust- ing that they who have been good stewards over a little, shall not fail to receive their proportional reward in the day of retribution. Every vessel of honour hath not the same capacity, but every vessel of honour shall be completely filled. one shall have a mean station in the VOL. II.. S ;^82 SERMO LV. heavenly temple, although some shall be more gloriously distinguished than others. They shall all be kings and priests unto God, and mansions shall not be wanting to accommodate every class ofguests in the ew Jerusalem. I proceed now to give you some directions as to the manner iii which we ought to perform this duty, of yielding ourselves unto God. I. Before we can perform this duty in an acceptable manner, it is necessary that we have just views both of God and of ourselves. In a particular manner, we must have a deep sense both of our original apostacy, and of the actual transgressions with which we are chargeable. We must yield ourselves to God, like condemned rebels, who cast themselves on the mercy of their sovereign. Yet while we are sensible of our miserable and condemned state, we must also have a view of those riches of mercy which are open to the chief of sinners. We are to remember, with faith and gratitude, that God so loved the world, as to send his only begotten Son, not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might have life; that he only is the way, the truth, and the life; that he is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him; that in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and that he is made of God to all that believe on him, wisdom, and righteousness, and sanrtification, and redemption. The knowledge of these fundamental truths must influence the surrender which we make of ourselves to God, that it may be an act of our understanding, accompanied both with humility and with hope. But, II. We must yield ourselves unto God with serious, attentive, and awakened minds. It is seldom that any permanent good is olitained, in consequence of a hasty choice. Even when the object of our choice is just and SERMO LV. g83 valuable, our esteem of it is apt to decline, if it has been embraced at first with too rash and violent an affection. In proportion as the charms of novelty fade, our attachment to it subsides, and indifference or aversion succeed to the eagerness of a prompt and hasiy passion. If therefore we would prove steadfast and faithful, we must not be precipitate, but v\ eigh every circumstance with care, and ponder well ere we fix our choice. We must remember, that yielding ourselves to God, will involve in it the renouncing of many favourite engagements, the performing of man}" difficult duties, and the mortifying of many desires, whicii hitherto, perhaps, it has been the whole plan of our lives to gratify. Let us, therefore, represent to ourselves the probable consequences, before we embark in so important and solemn a transaction* Consider the self-reproach, the censures of others, and, above all, the displeasure of God, which you must incur, if you retract from such a deep engagement. God doth not wish to ensnare you into his service. He does not allure you by flattering prospects of ease. He does not conceal from you the hardships which you must endure. It is plainly therefore his will, that ye should consider these things, and that before ye devote yourselves to him, ye should count the cost, and see whether ye are able to fulfil the engagement. Sdlij. In yielding ourselves unto God, our hearts must be humbled with serious and deep repentance, for having so long gone astray from him and his service. We ought to imitate the example of those penitents mentioned in the 50th chapter of Jeremiah, (verse 4.) *'In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping, they shall go and seek the Lord their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with 28^ SERMO LV. their faces thitherward, saying, Come and let us join ourselves to the Lord in a perpetual covenant that shall never be forgotten." Gud will not accept of us, unless we he truly weary of our burden, and sensible of our absolute need of a Saviour. To such, the calls of the gospel are peculiarly addressed : " Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." — '' For thus saith the high and lofiy One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place; with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." 'ithly. We must yield ourselves unto God without any secret reserve or limitation, imploring that he may take the full possession of our hearls, and cast out of them whatever opposeth or exalteih itself against him. We ought to say to him, ^' O Lord, our Lord, other lords have had dominion over us; but henceforth we will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only." He who hath only consistent pursuits, may follow them with a prospect of success ; but a mind divided between contrary principles of action, can expect nothing but to be for ever drawn backward and forward, as they happen alternately to prevail. In this view it is impossible to yield ourselves to God, if at the same time we yield ourselves to sin in any degree. Perhaps indeed we pro- pose to dedicate ourselves to God in general, and only to spare ourselves the mortification of renouncing a few trifling induls;ences. But these indulgences have unforeseen connexions with others that are not trifling, and these again with more. Or supposing that they had not, yet the truth certainly is, that when we deliberately become unfaithful to our consciences in any one instance, we lose every firm ground on which we can withstand SERMa LV. g85 temptation in any other instance. We lose gradually both the power and inclination to resist evil. God withdraws the good aids (?f his Spirit, we decline from evil to worse, and our last state becomes worse than our first. Such only, therefore, as yield themselves wholly to God, and acknowledge, after all, that they are but unprofitable servants, entitled to acceptance only through the merits of a gracious Redeemer, have cause to hope well. All others build on the sand, but they on a rock. Their superstructure may be raised to the greatest height, and stands both firm and graceful. God will pardon their unavoidable infirmities, and assist their endeavours. They will of course make continual progress, and for every step of that progress enjoy an increase of peace and joy here, and of unfading glory hereafter. 5thly. All this must be done with an explicit regard to the Lord Jesus Christ, through whom alone we have access to the Father: " For there is none other name given under heaven whereby we can be saved, but the name of Jesus." Without this Mediator, God could have no friendly intercourse with man. The weapons cf our rebellion must be surrendered into his hands; for it is in him alone that God reconciles the world unto himself. It is by the blood of Jesus that we have boldness to enter into the holiest. We are accepted only in the beloved. The Father receives no offering but at the hand of this great High Priest. Having thus explained the duty of yielding ourselves unto God, and shewn in what way it ought to be performed, what remains but that I enforce the exhortation by some motives and arguments. eed I to represent to you the necessity of this duty ? Can you withdraw yourselves from being the property of God as his creatures? Can you evade the dispensations 286 SERMO LV. of his providence, or snatch from him those issues of life and death, which are incontrolably in his hands? If so, tljcn you may consult whether you should yield yourselves to him or not? But if your present and your eternal happiness depends on his favour; if you cannot secure an interest in his favour otherwise than by complying with this exhortation; if you must otherwise be left to struggle as you best can, with all the evils of life, and at last be banished his presence for ever, to spend a miseral)le eternity with reprobate spirits, what choice is left? Can you hesitate a moment to comply with what you cannot alter, and to surrender yourselves to Him, who \\\\\ either glorify himself in you as vessels of mercy, or as vessels prepared for destruction ? Consider, in the 2d place, the reasonableness of this duty. This is the argument of the Apostle to the Romans : '' 1 beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service." And what can be so reasonable as to consecrate to God that being, those faculties, those possesisions and enjoyments, which we derive from his bounty. If there is reasonableness in acknowledging our debts, and in being thankful for our benefits; if there is reason- ableness in submitting to be guided by unerring wisdom, and to be disposed of by infinite goodness; in a word, if there be any thing superior in reasonableness to any other that reason requires, it is this, that we should yield ourselves to that God who made us, who preserves and hatli redeemed us, and hath pledged his faithfulness (o conduct all those to hnppiness who put their confidence in him. And this leads me to the last argument which I shall use for enforcing this exhortation, which is the advantage with which it will be attended. At the same SERMO LV. §87 time that we yield ourselves to God, he gives himself to us in all the fulness of his grace; for this is the tenor of his well ordered covenant, "Iwill he your God, andje shall be my people." And what an infinite portion is this? If all the treasures of grace were open to our choice, would it be possible for to pitch on any blessing so ricii and compendious as this, tltat God would accept of us as his property, and provide for us as he provides for his own? Surely then we cannot want any good thing. His wisdom can guide us through all the perplexing paths of life; his power can support us in every danger and difficulty; and his goodness is more than sufficient to bestow on us all things richly to enjoy. I have only to add, that the exhortation in the text belongs in an especial manner to you who are as yet in early and vigorous years. ow your understandings are capable of the firmest impressions. ow your wills are most pliable. ow your afiections are most patient of discipline. ow your bodies are most useful to your minds. ow your minds are most unfettered, and your whole man most susceptible of good impressions, and most capable of exerting them in action* Lose not, therefore, your irrecoverable advantage. Answer now when God calls you with most affection. Oiler yourselves while you are most worth theoifering. Govern yourapprtites before the evil day come. ow you may gird them, and carry them whitiier you will; but if you neglect this precious season, they will hereafter gird you, and carry you whither you would not. An early virtue is the most worthy and valuable oifering, honoured and blessed with the kindest acceptance of God. 15ijt when a man shall look into himself, and find his faculties depraved and weakened, stained with the pollution, wearied with the service, sick with the disappointments, and 388 SERMO LVI. darkened with the impostures of sin, how comfortless a task must he have in preparing an oflering to God from among such a lame and diseased herd. " Remember therefore now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, ere the evil days come, and the years draw nigh in which thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. *imen. 1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.documento.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books 2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.documento.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000