Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Walter Marshall's 11th Direction

In his work on sanctification entitled The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, author Walter Marshall delivers 14 directions towards our sanctification. Direction 11 is as follows:
Endeavour diligently to perform the great work of believing on Christ in a right manner, without any delay; and then also continue and increase in your most holy faith, that so your enjoyment of Christ, union and fellowship with Him, and all holiness by Him, may be begun, continued and increased in you.
His thrust in this direction is fairly straightforward in explanation: believe! However,in application we all know this is easier said then done. Marshall quickly recognizes this in his writing.
Believing on Christ is a work that will require diligent endeavour and labour for the performance of it. We must labour 'to enter into that rest, lest any man fall by unbelief' (Heb. 4:11). We must 'show diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end, that we may be followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises' (Heb. 6:11, 12). It is a work that requires the exercise of might and power, and therefore we have need to be 'strengthened with might by the Spirit in the inward man, that Christ may dwell in our hearts by faith' (Eph. 3:16, 17).
Thought, admittedly, this is work that requires 'diligence', 'might', and 'power', it is also 'easy', 'pleasant', and 'delicious' as is seen in the passage that follows the portion above.
I confess it is easy, pleasant and delicious in its own nature, because it is a motion of the heart, without any cumbersome bodily labour; and it is a taking Christ and His salvation as our own, which is very comfortable and delightful; and the soul is carried forth in this by love to Christ and its own happiness, which is an affection that makes even hard works easy and pleasant; yet it is made difficult to us by reason of the opposition that it meets with from our own inward corruptions, and from Satan's temptations.
Easiness, pleasantness, and deliciousness is countered by the difficulty presented by our sin and Satan which oppose our believing. In explaining the difficulty further, Marshall writes,
It is no easy matter to receive Christ as our happiness and free salvation, with true confidence and lively affection, when the guilt of sin lies heavily on the conscience and the wrath of God is manifested by the Word and terrible judgements - especially when we have been long accustomed to seek salvation by the procurement of our own works, and to account the way of salvation by free grace foolish and pernicious; when our lusts incline us strongly to the things of the flesh and the world; when Satan does his utmost, by his own suggestions, and by false teachers, and by worldly allurements and terrors, to hinder the sincere performance of this duty.
So it is easy, but difficult. And Marshall ends this section by returning to the easiness that is only found by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
It is so difficult a work that we cannot perform it without the mighty working of the Spirit of God in our hearts, who only can make it to be absolutely easy to us, and does make it easy, or allow it to be difficult, according as He is pleased to communicate His grace in various degrees to our souls.
Let us pray for grace towards our believing!

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