Through Spirit

My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
~ Psalm 139:12-16

Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
~ Hebrews 13:12, Ephesians 2:22, Ephesians 2:10, Romans 8:9, Hebrews 10:14

Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass, And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
~ Exodus 35:5 & 21, Psalm 110:3

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
~ Revelation 20:12

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
~ 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 1 Peter 1:2, 1 Peter 1:22

On the Holy Spirit, or Pneumatologia, by John Owen (1616-1683). The following contains excerpts from Chapters One and Two from Book Four of the text.

A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit
In Which
An Account is Given of His Name, Nature, Personality, Operations, and Effects; His Whole Work in the Old and New Creation is Explained; The Doctrine Concerning It is Vindicated From Opposition and Reproach.
The Nature and Necessity of Gospel Holiness; The Differences Between Grace and Morality — Or A Spiritual Life Lived to God in Evangelical Obedience,
And A Course of Moral Virtues — Are Stated and Declared.

“Search the Scriptures…” — John 5.39
Ἐκ τῶν θείων γραφᾶν θεολογοῦμεν, καὶ θέλωσιν οἱ ἐχθροὶ, καὶ μή.

Out of the written word of God come Divine teachings, though His enemies may not wish it. — CHRYSOSTOM


Book IV —Chap.I. The Nature of Sanctification and Gospel Holiness Explained. An Excerpt.

Regeneration is the way by which the Spirit forms living members for the mystical body of Christ—It is carried on by sanctification—1 Thes 5.23 explained —God is the only author of our sanctification and holiness, as the God of peace—Sanctification described—A diligent inquiry into the nature of it, and of holiness, proved necessary—Sanctification is twofold: 1. By external dedication; 2. By internal purification—Holiness particular to the gospel and its truth—Not discernible to the eye of carnal reason—Hardly understood by believers themselves—It passes over into eternity—has a present glory in it —Is all that God requires of us, and in what sense—Promised to us—How we are to improve the command for holiness.

3. Believers themselves are often greatly unacquainted with holiness, either as to their apprehension of its true nature, causes, and effects, or at least as to their own interest and concern in it. Just as, of ourselves, we do not know the things worked in us by the Spirit of God, so we seldom attend as we should to his instructing us in them. It may seem strange indeed, that because all believers are sanctified and made holy, they would not understand or apprehend what is worked in them and for them, and what abides with them. But, alas! How little we know of ourselves, of what we are, and where our powers and faculties come from, even in natural things! Do we know how the members of the body are fashioned in the womb? We are apt to seek after and give reasons for all things, and to describe the progress of the production of our natures from first to last, if not to satisfy ourselves, then to please and amuse others. For “vain man would be wise, though he is born like the wild ass’s colt.” Job 11.12 The best results of our consideration of this, is that of the psalmist:

“You, O Lord, have possessed my inward parts: you have covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are your works; and my soul knows that right well. My substance was not hidden from you when I was made in secret, and skilfully worked in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet imperfect, and in your book were written all my members,1 which in continuance were fashioned when there was as yet none of them,” Psa 139.13-16.

By diligent consideration of these things, we may obtain a firm foundation to stand on, in a holy admiration of the infinite wisdom and goodness of that sovereign Architect who has raised this fabric to his own glory; and whatever we attempt beyond that, is vanity and curiosity.

How little we know of these souls of ours! Everything we do is by their powers and operations, which are consequential to their being. Now, these things are our own naturally — they dwell and abide with us; they are we, and we are they, and nothing else. Yet it is no easy thing for us to have a reflexive and intimate acquaintance with them. And is it strange if we are as much in the dark as to this new nature, this new creature, which comes from above, from God in heaven, and with which our natural reason has no acquaintance? It is new, it is wonderful; it is a supernatural work, and it is known only by supernatural revelation.

1 NKJ and other translations, “all my days,” Heb. yowm (OT:03117).

Besides, there are other things which pretend to be this gospel holiness and are not, by which unspeakable multitudes are deluded and deceived. With some, any reformation of life and abstinence from flagitious sins,1 along with the performance of the common duties of religion, is all they suppose is required for this part of their duty. Others contend with vehemence to substitute moral virtues for it, though they do not know what they mean by it. And there is a work of the law which, in its internal and external fruits, in the works of righteousness and duties, is hardly to be distinguished from it, and then only by spiritual light and measures. This also adds to the difficulty of rightly understanding it, and should add to our diligent inquiry into it.

4. We must also consider that holiness is not confined to this life, but passes over into eternity and glory. Death has no power over it, to destroy it or divest us of it; for —

(1.) Its acts are indeed transient, but its fruits abide forever in their reward. Those who “die in the Lord rest from their labours, and their works follow them,” Rev 14.13. “God is not unrighteous to forget their labor of love,” Heb 6.10. There is no effect or fruit of holiness, not the least, not even giving a cup of cold water to a disciple of Christ in the name of a disciple, that will not be held in everlasting remembrance, and abide forever in its eternal reward. Nothing will be lost, but all its fragments will be gathered up and kept safe forever. Everything else, however 2 1Cor 3.12 specious the least, the lowliest, the most secret fruit of holiness, will be gathered as gold and silver, durable substance, into God’s treasury, and become a part of the riches of the inheritance of the saints in glory. Let no soul fear the loss of any labor, in any of the duties of holiness, in the most secret contest against sin, for inward purity, for outward fruitfulness; in the mortification of sin, resistance of temptations, improvement of grace; in patience, moderation, self-denial, contentment — all that you know and what you do not know, will be revived, recalled, and abide eternally in your reward.

Our Father, who now “sees in secret,” will one day reward openly; and the more we abound in these things, the more God will be glorified in the recompense of reward. But this is not all that I intend.

(2.) It abides forever, and passes over into glory in its principle or nature. The love with which we now adhere to God, and by which we act the obedience of faith towards the saints, does not 3 fail; it does not end when glory comes on, but is part of it, 1Cor 13.8. It is true, some gifts will be done away as useless in a state of perfection and glory, as the apostle discusses there; and some graces will cease, as to some special acts and particular exercise of them, such as faith and hope, so far as they respect things that are unseen and future; — but all those graces by which holiness is constituted, and in which it consists, as to the substance of them, as they contain the image of God, as we are united and adhere to God in Christ by them, will abide forever in their present nature, improved into perfection. In our knowledge of them, therefore, we have our principal insight into our eternal condition in glory; and just as this is a firm foundation of our consolation, so it is a part of our highest joy in this world. Is it not a matter of unspeakable joy and refreshment, that these poor bodies we carry about us, after they have been made a prey to

1 Flagitious: shockingly wicked. 2 Specious, here, means “gilded.”
2 Specious, here, means “gilded.”3 1Cor 13:8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away

death, dust, worms, and corruption, will be raised and restored to life and immortality, freed from pain, sickness, weakness and weariness, and vested with those qualities, in conformity to Christ’s glorious body, which we do not yet understand? It is also true, that these souls which now animate and rule in us, will be delivered from all their darkness, ignorance, vanity, instability, and alienation from spiritual and heavenly things. But this is not all. Those poor low graces, which now live and are acting in us, will be continued, preserved, purified, and perfected; but in their nature, they will be the same as they are now, as our souls and bodies will be.

That love by which we now adhere to God as our highest good; that faith by which we are united to Christ, our everlasting head; that delight in any of the ways or ordinances of God in which he is enjoyed, as he has promised his presence in them; that love and good will which we have for all those in whom the Spirit resides, and on whom the image of Christ abides; with the entire principle of spiritual life and holiness, which has now begun in any of us — will be completely purified, enhanced, perfected, and pass into glory. That very holiness which we attain here, those inclinations and dispositions, those frames of mind, those powers and abilities in obedience and adherence to God, which contend here with the weight of their own weakness and imperfection, and with the opposition that is continually made against them by the body of death that is utterly to be abolished, will be gloriously perfected into immutable habits, unchangeably acting our souls in the enjoyment of God.

And this also manifests of how much concern it is to us to be acquainted with its doctrine, and how much more we are to be really interested in it. Indeed —

5. There is spiritual and heavenly glory in it in this world. From this, the church (the “King’s daughter”) is said to be “all glorious within,” Psa 45.13. Her inward adorning with the graces of the Spirit, making her beautiful in holiness, is called “glory;” and so it is. So also the progress and increase of believers in it, is called being “changed from glory to glory,” by our apostle (2Cor 3.18) — from one degree of glorious grace to another. This holiness is put upon us by the free grace of God; and as such, it is our only beauty in his sight, next to the loveliness of the righteousness of Christ — thus it has a real spiritual glory in it. It is the first-fruits of heaven. And as the apostle argues concerning the Jews, that if the “first-fruits” were holy, then the whole lump is holy, so too on the other side, if the whole “weight” (as he calls it) and fullness of our future enjoyment is glory, then we are the first-fruits in their measure also.

There is in this holiness, as we will see afterward, a ray of eternal light, a principle of eternal life, and the entire nature of that love by which we will eternally adhere to God. The divine nature, the new immortal creature, the life of God, the life of Christ, are all comprised in it. It represents to God the glory of his own image renewed in us; and it represents to the Lord Christ the fruits of his Spirit and the effect of his mediation, in which he sees the travail of his soul, and is satisfied. 53.11 There is therefore nothing more to be abhorred than those carnal, low, and unworthy thoughts which some men vent about this glorious work of the Holy Spirit, who would have it consist entirely in a legal righteousness or moral virtue.

6. This is what God indispensably requires of us. We must put off the full prosecution of this consideration until our arguments for the necessity of it, which will ensue in their proper place. At present I will show that God not only indispensably requires holiness in all believers, but also that this is all that he requires or expects from them; for it comprises the whole duty of man. And this surely renders it necessary for us to know both what it is, and also to diligently apply ourselves to obtaining an assured participation in it. For what servant who has any sense of his relationship and duty, if he is satisfied that his master requires only one thing of him, would not endeavour to be acquainted with it and perform it? Some indeed say that their holiness (such as it is) is the chief or only design of the gospel. If they mean that it is the first and principal design of God in and by the gospel, not only as to its preceptive part, but also as to its doctrinal and promissory parts — those from which it is principally and emphatically designated — then it is a fantasy.

God’s great and first design, in and by the gospel, is to eternally glorify himself, his wisdom, 1 goodness, love, grace, righteousness, and holiness, by Jesus Christ, Eph 1.5-6. And in order to attain this great and supreme end, God has designed the gospel; and he designs by the gospel (which gives the gospel its design) —

(1.) To reveal his love and grace for lost sinners, with the way it is communicated through the mediation of his Son incarnate, as the only means by which He will be glorified, and by which they may be saved, Acts 26.18.

(2.) To prevail with men — in and by the dispensation of its truth, and the encouragement of its promises — to renounce their sins and all other expectations of relief or satisfaction; and to take themselves by faith to that way of life and salvation which it declares to them, 2Cor 5.18-21; Col 2

(3.) To be the means and instrument of conveying to them, and giving them a title to and right in, that grace and mercy, that life and righteousness, which is revealed and tendered to them by 3 the gospel, Mark 16.16.

(4.) To be the way and means of communicating to the elect the Spirit of Christ, with grace and 4 strength, enabling them to believe and receive the atonement, Gal 3.2.

(5.) Hereby to give them union with Christ as their spiritual and mystical head; and also to fix their hearts and souls, in their choicest acts — in their faith, trust, confidence, and love — 5 Therefore, the first and principal end of the gospel towards us is to invite and encourage lost sinners to faith in, and approval of, the way of grace, life, and salvation by Jesus Christ. Without first complying with this, the gospel has nothing more to do with sinners, but leaves them to justice, the law, and themselves. But now, upon supposing these things, and giving glory to God by faith

1 Eph 1:5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.
2 2Cor 5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Col 1:25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God, 26the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
3 Mar 16:16 “He who believes and is baptised will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
4 Gal 3:2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
5 Joh 14:1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.

in them, the whole of what God requires of us in the gospel by way of duty is this: that we should be holy, and abide in the use of those means by which holiness may be attained and improved in us. For if he requires anything else of us, it must be on one of these other accounts:

(1.) To make atonement for our sins; or,
(2.) To be our righteousness before him; or,
(3.) To merit life and salvation by it; or,
(4.) To supererogate 1 on behalf of others.

No other end can be thought of which God would require of us, besides the true ends of holiness. And so, all false religion in the world leans on a supposition that God requires something of us with respect to these other ends.

But —

(1.) He requires nothing of us (which we had all the reason in the world to expect that he would) to make atonement or satisfaction for our sins, that might compensate the injuries we have done him by our apostasy and rebellion.

For we had multiplied sins against him, lived in enmity and opposition to him, and contracted inexcusable and immeasurable debts upon our own souls. Terms of peace now being proposed to us, who would not think that the first thing required of us would be that we should make some kind of satisfaction to divine justice for all our enormous and heinous provocations? Indeed, who is there that naturally thinks otherwise? So this man apprehended, who was contriving a way in his own mind, how he might come to an agreement with God:

Mic. 6.6-7, “With what will I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? Will I come before him with burnt-offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousand rivers of oil? Will I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”

This or something of its nature seems to be a very reasonable inquiry for a guilty self-condemned sinner, when he first entertains thoughts of reaching an agreement with the holy sin-avenging God. This was the foundation of all that cruel and expensive superstition which the world was in bondage to for so many ages. Mankind generally thought that the principal thing required of them in religion was to atone and pacify the wrath of the divine Power, and to compensate for what had been done against Him. From this came their sacrifices of hecatombs2 of beasts, of mankind, of their children and of themselves, as I declared elsewhere. And the same principle is still deep-rooted in the minds of convinced sinners. And this has founded many an abbey, monastery, college, and alms-house. For the priests who set it to work, always shared deeply in the fruits of this superstition. But it is quite otherwise in the gospel. There is declared and tendered to sinners an absolute free pardon of all their sins, without any satisfaction or compensation made on their part, that is, by themselves — rather, it is on account of the atonement made for them by Jesus Christ. And all attempts or endeavours after works or duties of obedience that are in any respect done to satisfy God for sin, or to be meritorious for pardon,

1 An effort above and beyond the call of duty.
2 A great sacrifice; an ancient Greek or Roman sacrifice of 100 oxen.

subvert and overthrow the whole gospel.1 This is why, in answer to the inquiry mentioned, the reply in the prophet is that God looks for none of these things. All such contrivances were wholly vain: “He has shown you,O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”Mic.6.8. This last expression comprises the whole of our covenant obedience, Gen 17.1, just as the two former expressions are eminent and particular instances of it.

(2.) God requires nothing of us by way of righteousness for our justification for the future. We might also have justly expected that he would require this of us; for we must have righteousness, or we cannot be accepted by him. And here also, many are at a loss. They resolve that it is absurd and inconsistent to think of peace with God without some righteousness of their own, for which they may be justified before him. Rather than forego that understanding, they let go of all other thoughts of peace and acceptance. “Being ignorant of the righteousness of God, they go about to establish their own righteousness, and do not submit themselves to the righteousness of God.” Nor will they acquiesce in it, “that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believes,” Rom 10.4. But so it is: God does not require this of us in the gospel, for we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Rom 3.24. We “therefore conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” Rom 3.28. So 2 also, Rom8.3-4. Nor is there any mention in the whole gospel of God’s requiring a righteousness in us on account of which we should be justified before him, or in his sight. For the justification by works mentioned in James, consists in evidencing and declaring our faith by them. Jas 2.21-23

(3.) God does not require anything of us by which we should purchase or merit for ourselves life and salvation: for “by grace are we saved through faith; not of works, lest any man should boast,” Eph 2.8-9. God saves us neither by nor for the” works of righteousness which we have done,” but “according to his mercy,” Tit 3.5. So that even though, on the one side, the “wages of sin is death” — justice being proportionate between sin and punishment —there is none between our obedience and our salvation. And therefore “eternal life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Rom 6.23. God therefore requires nothing at our hands under this notion or consideration, nor is it possible that in our condition any such thing should be required of us. For whatever we can do, is due beforehand and on other accounts; and so it can have no prospect to merit what is to come. Who can merit anything by simply doing his duty? Our Saviour so plainly proves the contrary, that none can doubt it any more than they can doubt his truth and authority, 3

Nor can we do anything that is acceptable to Him except what is worked in us by his grace. This overthrows the whole nature of merit, which requires that whatever we would do to deserve something from another, it must in every way be our own, and not his more than ours. Nor is there any proportionality between our duties and the reward of the eternal enjoyment of God. For these duties are entirely weak, imperfect, and tainted with sin, so that none of them is able to make good its own station for any end or purpose. And besides this, in the strictness of divine

1 See 2Cor 5.18-21 (above, p. 377, footnote).
2 Rom 8:3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
3 Luk 17.10 “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'”

justice, they come altogether infinitely short of the desert of an eternal reward by any rule of divine justice.

And if anyone says,

“This merit for our works does not depend on, nor is it measured by, strict justice, but wholly by the gracious condescension of God, who has appointed and promised to reward them,”

I answer, first, that this perfectly overthrows the whole nature of merit; for the nature of merit consists entirely and absolutely in this: that “to him that works, the reward is not reckoned of grace, but of debt,” Rom 4.4. And these two are contrary and inconsistent; for what is “by grace is no more of works, otherwise grace is no more grace;” and what is “of works is no more of grace, otherwise work is no more work,” Rom 11.6. Those who would found our merit in the grace of God, endeavour to unite and reconcile those things which God has everlastingly separated and opposed.

And I say, secondly, That although God freely, graciously, and bountifully rewards our duties of obedience, and on account of his covenant and promise he is said to be (and he is) righteous in doing so, yet he declares everywhere in Scripture that what he does is an act of mere grace in himself, which has no respect to anything except the interposition and mediation of Jesus Christ. In this sense, in the gospel God requires nothing at all of us.

(4.) Much less does God require anyone to do something that is unnecessary to the obedience they personally owe Him, which may yet somehow, by their supererogation in this, redound to the advantage and benefit of others. This monstrous fiction, which has outdone all the Pharisaism of the Jews, is engaged by the church of Rome, as a pretence for the piety, or rather covering the impiety, of their votaries.1But seeing that those who pretend to these works are but flesh, they cannot on their own account be “justified in the sight of God.”Gal 3.11 And so it is extreme pride and cursed self-confidence for them to undertake to help others by the merit of those works, whose worth they are not in need of.2 Concerning these works, it will be said to them one day, “Who has required these things at your hands?” Isa 1.12

But now, because God requires none of these four things from us, nothing with respect to any of these ends, the perverseness of our minds by nature is such that many think God requires nothing else of us, or nothing except with respect to one of these ends. Nor can they conceive in their hearts why they should perform any duty towards God unless it is with regard to these things.

If they can do anything by which to make some recompense for their past sins (at least in their own minds and consciences), anything by which to procure acceptance with God and his approval of their state and condition, then they suppose they have something which may quicken and 3 animate their endeavours. Without these considerations, holy obedience is a lifeless and useless
thing to them.

1 One who is bound by vows to a religious life of worship and service.
2 Christ did everything necessary to merit our salvation; by substituting or adding our own works, we reject his. – WHG
3 That is, something to motivate them to be holy – some tangible reward to make holiness “worthwhile.”

2 “Who has required these things at your hands?” Isa 1.12 whose worth they are not in need of. Concerning these works, it will be said to them one day, But seeing that those who pretend to these works are but flesh, they

Others will labour and take pains, both in outward mortification of sin, and profuse munificence1 in the way of superstitious charity, if they are persuaded, or they can persuade themselves, that these will merit eternal life and salvation for them without being much beholden to the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Indeed, all that has the face or pretence of religion in the Papacy consists in a supposition that everything which God requires of us, is with respect to these ends of atonement, justification, merit, and supererogation. They apply to this all that remains of the ordinances of God among them; and all their own inventions are managed with the same design.

But by these things, the gospel and the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, is made of no effect. In this, I say then, lies the express opposition that exists between the “wisdom of God” in the mystery of the gospel, and the “wisdom of the flesh,” or our carnal reason. God, in dealing with us by the gospel, takes it upon his own grace and wisdom to provide an atonement for our sins, and a righteousness by which we may be justified before him, and the bestowing of eternal life upon us — all in and by the one who, of God, is “made to us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption.” 1Cor 1.30 But along with this, he still indispensably requires holiness and universal obedience from us for the ends that will be declared afterward.

This way of salvation, thinks the wisdom of the flesh, or our carnal reason, is mere “foolishness;” as our apostle testifies in 1Cor 1.18, 23; but it is such a foolishness that it is “wiser than men,” verse 25 — that is, it is a way that is so excellent and full of divine wisdom, that men are not able to comprehend it. This is why, in opposition to this way, carnal reason concludes either that what God requires of us is to be done with respect to the ends mentioned (some one or other of them, or all of them together), or else it is no great matter whether it is done or not. Nor can the flesh discern what use our holiness or obedience to God would be, if it does not serve these purposes. It has no regard for the need to conform to God, to have his image renovated in us before we are brought to enjoy him in glory, no regard for the authority of his commands or for his wisdom, no thought that he has appointed the way of holiness and obedience as the means of expressing our thankfulness, and of glorifying him in the world, and of coming to eternal life.

But the first true saving light that shines into our souls by the gospel from Jesus Christ, begins to undeceive us in this matter. There is no greater evidence of our receiving an evangelical baptism, or of being baptised into the spirit of the gospel, than the clear compliance of our minds with the wisdom of God in this. When we find such constraining motives for holiness upon us, that they will not allow the least disregard of our souls for universally attending to it, based purely on the ends of the gospel, without respect to those ends now discarded, it is an evidence that the wisdom of God has prevailed against the wisdom of the flesh in our minds.

This is why holiness and its fruits, with respect to their proper ends (to be declared afterward), is all that God requires of us. He declares this in the tenor of his covenant with Abraham,

Gen 17.1, “I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be perfect;”

In other words, “This is all that I require of you, namely, your holy obedience; for all other things in which you are concerned, I take it upon my own almighty power or all-sufficiency.” As he says elsewhere, the “whole of man is to fear God and keep his commandments.” Ecc 12.13 And the

1 Munificence: liberality in bestowing gifts; extremely liberal and generous with material wealth.

consideration of this, taken singly and by itself, is sufficient for all those who have any regard for God, or their own eternal welfare, to convince them of what importance these things are to them.

7. Yet we are not left in this matter merely under the authority of God’s command, with an expectation of our compliance with it from our own ability and power. For God has moreover promised to sanctify us, or to work this holiness in us, the consideration of which will give us yet a nearer look into its nature. God who requires sanctification of us, knows that we do not have it of ourselves. When we were in our best condition by nature, in the state of original holiness, vested with the image of God, we did not preserve it. And so, is it likely that now, in the state of lapsed and depraved nature, it is in our own power to restore ourselves, to re-introduce the image of God into our souls, and do it in a far more eminent manner than it was created by God at first? What was the need for all that contrivance of infinite wisdom and grace, for the reparation of our nature by Jesus Christ, if holiness (in which our reparation consists) is in our own power, and can be educed out of the natural faculties of our souls? No greater fantasy can befall the minds of men than to think that defiled nature is able to cleanse itself; or that depraved nature is able to rectify itself; or that we who have lost that image of God which he created in us, could create it again in ourselves by our own endeavours. This is why, when God commands and requires us to be holy, he commands us to be what we are not by nature and of ourselves; and not only so, but what we do not have the power to attain to of ourselves. Therefore, whatever is absolutely in our own power is not of that holiness which God requires of us. For if we can do it ourselves, there is neither necessity nor reason why God should promise to work it in us by his grace.

And to say that what God promises to work, he will not actually work or effect himself, but will only persuade and prevail with us to do it ourselves, is (through the pride of unbelief) to defy the truth and grace of God, and to adorn our own righteousness and power with their spoils. Now, God has multiplied his promises to this purpose. And so we will need to recall only some of them for instance: Jer 31.33, “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” Jer 32.39-40, “I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever; and I will put my fear in their hearts, that they will not depart from me.” Eze 36.26, 27, “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you will keep my judgments, and do them.” Eze 36.25, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness.” Verse 29, “I will also save you from all your uncleannesses.”

The whole of our sanctification and holiness is comprised in these promises. To be sanctified, or to be holy, is to be cleansed from the defilements of sin, whatever they are. It is to have a heart that is inclined, disposed, and enabled to fear the Lord always; and to walk in all his ways and statutes accordingly; with an internal habitual conformity of the whole soul to the law of God. And God promises to directly work all this in us, and to accomplish it himself. It is with faith in these promises, and for their fulfilment, that the apostle prays for the Thessalonians as we observed at our introduction, that “the God of peace himself would sanctify them throughout,” by which “their whole spirits, souls, and bodies, might be preserved blameless to the coming of Jesus Christ.” And hence, what we observed before is evident: that what is absolutely in our own power is not of the nature of, nor does it necessarily belong to holiness, whatever it may be. The best of the intellectual or moral habits of our minds, which are but the natural improvement and exercise of our faculties, are not nor can they be our holiness; nor do the best of our moral duties, as merely and only moral, belong to this. We understand these moral habits and duties to be the powers, faculties, or abilities of our souls as they are exercised with respect and in obedience to the commands of God; and as they are excited, persuaded, and guided by outward motives, rules, arguments, and considerations. Plainly, what this refers to is all the power that we have of ourselves to obey the law of God, and all that we do in the pursuit and exercise of that power, for any reasons, motives, or considerations whatsoever. And all of these may be reduced to the fear of punishment and the hope of reward, along with some present satisfaction of mind on account of the ease of our conscience within, or our enhanced reputation without, whether in abstinence from sin, or the performance of our moral duties. But these are not that holiness which we inquire after.

And the reason is plain: because those things are not worked in us by the power of the special grace of God in the pursuit of the special promise of the covenant, as all true holiness is. If any would say that these are so worked in us that they expressly change their nature: and thereby those powers would no longer be natural, but supernatural; and those duties would no longer be merely moral, but evangelical and spiritual — that would be to grant all that we contend for. Thus, what men call “moral virtue” is so far from being the whole of internal grace or holiness, that if it is no more than this, it does not belong to holiness at all. And this is because it is not being effected in us by the special grace of God, according to the tenor and promise of the covenant.

We may divert here a little, to consider what the frame of our minds ought to be in the pursuit of holiness with respect to these things — namely, what regard we ought to have to the command on the one hand, and to the promise on the other — to our own duty, and to the grace of God. Some would separate these things as inconsistent with each other. A command, they suppose, leaves no room for a promise, at least not such a promise that God would take it upon himself to work in us what the command requires of us. And a promise, they think, removes all the influencing authority of the command. “If holiness is our duty, then there is no room for grace in this matter; and if it is an effect of grace, then there is no place for duty.” But all these arguments are a fruit of the wisdom of the flesh mentioned before; and we have disproved them before. The “wisdom that is from above” teaches us other things. It is true, our works and grace are opposed in the matter of justification, as utterly inconsistent with each other: if it is of works then it is not of grace; and if it is of grace, then it is not of works, as our apostle argues in Rom 11.6. But our duty and God’s grace are nowhere opposed in the matter of sanctification; indeed, the one absolutely supposes the other. Nor can we perform our duty in this without the grace of God; nor does God give us this grace for any other end than to rightly perform our duty. The person who would deny either that God commands us to be holy by way of duty, or that he promises to work holiness in us by way of grace, may reject the whole Bible with as much modesty. We are therefore to have a due regard for both of these if we intend to be holy. And,

(1.) Our regard for the command consists in three things —

[1.] That our consciences always get affected with the authority of it, as it is the command of God. This must be enlarged on afterward. Where this is not so, there is no holiness. Our holiness is our obedience; and the formal nature of obedience arises from its respect for the authority of the command.

[2.] That we see and understand the reasonableness, the equity, the advantage of the command. Our service is a reasonable service; the ways of God are equitable, and there is great reward in keeping his commands. If we do not judge this way, if we do not rest in this, and are not filled by it with indignation against everything within or without us that opposes it or rises up against it, then whatever we may do to comply with it in the way of duty, we are not holy.

[3.] That upon this, we love and delight in it, because it is holy, just, and good; because the things it requires are upright, equitable, easy, and pleasant to the new nature, without any regard to the false ends uncovered before. And,

(2.) We have a due regard for the promise to the same end,

[1.] When, we walk in a constant sense of our own inability to comply with the command even once from any power in ourselves, for we have no sufficiency in ourselves; our sufficiency is of God. As for someone who is otherwise minded, his heart is lifted up.

[2.] When we adore that grace which has provided help and relief for us. Seeing that without the grace promised, we could never have attained the least part or degree of holiness, and seeing that we could never deserve the least dram of that grace, how we should then adore and continually praise that infinite bounty which has freely provided us this supply!

[3.] When we exercise faith in prayer and in expectation on the promise for supplies of grace, enabling us to holy obedience. And,

[4.] When we have special regard for this with respect to special temptations and particular duties. When on all such occasions we do not satisfy ourselves only with a general regard for the promise, but we exercise faith in particular on it for aid and assistance, then we regard it in a due manner.

8. To come still nearer to our principal design, I say it is the Holy Ghost who is the immediate and particular sanctifier of all believers, and the author of all holiness in them. I suppose I do not need to insist on the confirmation of this assertion in general. I have proved before that the Spirit is the immediate dispenser of all divine grace, or the immediate operator of all divine gracious effects in us, of which this is the chief effect. Besides, it is such an avowed and admitted principle among all those who are called Christians — namely, that the Holy Ghost is the sanctifier of all God’s elect — that it is not questioned; and so it need not be further proved in general. Those who are less experienced in these things may consult Psa 51.10-12; Eze 11.19, 36.25-27; Rom 8.9-14; 1Cor 16.11;1 Pet1.2; Isa4.4, 44.3-4; Tit3.4-5. But we are to inquire into the nature and manner of the Spirit’s work in this sanctification, with the effect produced by it. And because this belongs to our general design of declaring the nature, power, and efficacy of all the gracious, divine operations of the Holy Spirit, it will acquaint us in particular with that work and its fruits, in which we are so highly concerned.

For instance: Psa 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from 12 generous Spirit. Eze 36:25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your 26 Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out filthiness and from all your idols of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them; 1Cor 6:11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. Tit 3:4 But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit;

Book IV —Chap.II. Sanctification is a Progressive Work. An Excerpt.

Sanctification described, with the nature of the work of the Holy Spirit in this; which is progressive — The way and means by which holiness is increased in believers, especially by faith and love, whose exercise is required in all duties of obedience; and also those graces whose exercise is occasional — The growth of holiness expressed in an allusion to that of plants, with an insensible progress — Renders grace in this to be greatly admired; and is discerned in the corresponding work of the Spirit in sanctification and supplication — Objections against the progressive nature of holiness are removed.

Having passed through the consideration of the general concerns of the work of sanctification, I will, in the next place, give a description of it, and then explain it more particularly in its principal parts. And I will do this only under this express caution: that I do not hope or design at the same time to represent the life, glory, and beauty of it, nor to comprise all things that eminently belong to it; I will only set up some way-marks that may guide us in our progress, or future inquiry into the nature and glory of it. And so I say that —

Sanctification is an immediate work of the Spirit of God on the souls of believers, purifying and cleansing their natures from the pollution and uncleanness of sin, renewing in them the image of God, and thereby enabling them, from a spiritual and habitual principle of grace, to yield obedience to God, according to the tenor and terms of the new covenant, by virtue of the 1

Or more briefly: It is the universal renovation of our natures by the Holy Spirit into the image of God, through Jesus Christ.

Hence it follows that our holiness, which is the fruit and effect of this work as terminated in us, comprises the renewed principle or image of God worked in us; and thus it consists in a holy obedience to God by Jesus Christ, according to the terms of the covenant of grace, from the principle of a renewed nature. Our apostle expresses the whole more briefly yet — namely, He that is in Christ Jesus is a new creature, 2Cor 5.17; for he expresses in this both the renovation of our natures, the endowment of our natures with a new spiritual principle of life and operation, with actings towards God that are suitable to this new creature. I will take up the first general description of it, and in the consideration of its parts, I will give some account of the nature of the work and its effects. And then I will distinctly prove and confirm the true nature of it, in which it is opposed or called into question.

1. It is, as proven before and confessed by all, the work in us of the Spirit of God. It is our renovation by the Holy Ghost, by which we are saved. And it is a real, internal, powerful, physical work, as we abundantly proved before, and will more fully confirm afterward. He does not make us holy only by persuading us to be holy. He does not just require us to be holy, propose motives for holiness, convict us of the necessity of holiness, and thereby excite us to pursue and attain it — though he does this also, by the word and its ministration. It is too high an impudence for anyone to pretend to own the gospel, and yet deny a work of the Holy Ghost in our sanctification; and therefore, both the old and new Pelagians did and do avow a work of the Holy Ghost in this. But what is it that they really ascribe to him? They ascribe merely the exciting our own abilities, aiding

1 Compare this with his definition on p. 369.

and assisting us in and to the exercise of our own native power. When all is done, this leaves the work our own and not his, and the glory and praise of it must be ascribed to us. But we already sufficiently proved that the things promised by God, and effected, are really worked by the exceeding greatness of the power of the Spirit of God; and this will be made still more particularly apparent afterward.

2. This work of sanctification differs from the work of regeneration, just as it does on other accounts, but especially on account of the way it is worked. The work of regeneration is instantaneous, consisting in one single creating act. Hence it is not capable of degrees in any subject. No one is more or less regenerate than another; everyone in the world is absolutely so, or not so, and that is equally, even though there are degrees in their state for other reasons. But this work of sanctification is progressive, and it allows for degrees. One may be more sanctified and more holy than another, who is yet truly sanctified and truly holy. It is begun at once, and carried on gradually. This observation is of great importance, and if rightly weighed, it will contribute much light to the nature of the whole work of sanctification and holiness. And so, I will divert in this chapter to such an explanation and confirmation of it, that it may give an understanding and furtherance in this.

In the Scripture, an increase and growth in sanctification or holiness is frequently enjoined of us, and frequently promised to us. So the apostle Peter says by way of command, 2Pet 3.17-18, “Do not fall,” do not be thrown down, “from your own steadfastness; but grow,” or increase, “in grace.” It is not enough to not decay in our spiritual condition, or to not be diverted and carried away from a steady course in obedience by the power of temptations; but what is required of us is an endeavour after improvement, an increase, a thriving in grace — that is, in holiness.

And compliance with this command is what our apostle commends in 2Thes 1.3 1 — namely, the exceeding growth of their faith, and the abounding in their love; that is, the thriving and increasing of those graces in them, which is called “increasing with the increase of God,” Col 2.19;2 or with the increase in holiness which God requires, accepts, and approves, by supplies of spiritual strength from Jesus Christ our head.

The work of holiness, at its beginning, is like a seed cast into the earth — namely, the seed of God, by which we are born again. And we know how seed that is cast into the earth grows and increases. Being variously cherished and nourished, its nature is to take root and spring up, bringing forth fruit. So it is with the principle of grace and holiness. It is small at first, but being received in good and honest hearts — made so by the Spirit of God, and nourished and cherished there — it takes root and produces fruit. And both of these — the first planting and the increase of it — are equally from God by his Spirit. “He that begins this good work also performs it until the day of Jesus Christ,” Phi 1.6. And he does this in two ways:

First, By increasing and strengthening those graces of holiness which we have received and have been engaged in exercising. There are some graces whose exercise does not depend on any outward occasions; but in their actual exercise, they are absolutely necessary to the least degree of the life

1 2Thes 1:3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other;
2 Col 2:19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.

of God: such are faith and love. No man does or can live to God, except in the exercise of these graces. Whatever duties men may perform towards God, if they are not enlivened by faith and love, then they do not belong to that spiritual life by which we live to God. And these graces are capable of degrees, and so they are capable of increase. For so we read expressly about little faith Mat 14.31 and great faith,Mat 8.10 weak faith Rom 14.1 and strong faith. Rom 4.20 Both are true faith and they are the same in their substance, but they differ in degrees.So also there is fervent love,1Pet 4.8 and love that is comparatively cold. Mat 24.12 These graces, therefore, in carrying on the work of sanctification, are gradually increased. So the disciples asked our Saviour to increase their faith, Luke 17.5—that is, to add to its light, confirm it in its assent, multiply its acts, and make it strong against assaults, so that it might work more effectively in difficult duties of obedience. They had a special regard for this, as evident from the context, for they pray for this increase of faith on the occasion of our Saviour’s enjoining them to frequently forgive their offending brethren—it is a duty that is not at all easy, nor pleasing to our flesh and blood. And the apostle prays for the Ephesians, that they may be “rooted and grounded in love,”Eph 3.17. That is, that by the increase and strengthening of their love, they may be more established in all the duties of love.1

Because these graces are the springs and spirit of our holiness, it is in their increase in us that the work of sanctification is carried on, and universal holiness is increased. And this is done by the Holy Spirit in several ways:

First, By exciting these graces to frequent actings. Frequency of acts naturally increases and strengthens the habits from which they proceed; and these spiritual habits of faith and love are, 2 moreover, by God’s appointment. They grow and thrive, in and by their exercise, Hos 6.3. The lack of this exercise is the principal means of their decay. And there are two ways by which the Holy Spirit excites the graces of faith and love to frequent acts:

(1.) He does it morally, by proposing suitable and seasonable objects for them. He does this by his ordinances of worship, especially by the preaching of the word. In proposing to us God in Christ, the promises of the covenant, and other proper objects of our faith and love, these graces are drawn out into their exercise. This is one principal advantage we have by attending to the dispensation of the word in a due manner — namely, that by presenting to our minds those spiritual truths which are the object of our faith, and by presenting to our affections those spiritual good things which are the object of our love, both of these graces are drawn out into frequent actual exercise. We are greatly mistaken if we suppose that we have no benefit by the word beyond what we retain in our memories, even though we should labor for that also. Our chief advantage lies in the excitation which is given to our faith and love by it, to their proper exercise. These graces are kept alive by this; for without preaching, they would decay and wither.

In this, the Holy Spirit “takes the things of Christ, and shows them to us,” Joh 16.14-15. He represents them to us in the preaching of the word as the proper objects of our faith and love, and so he brings to remembrance the things spoken by Christ, Joh 14.26. That is, in the dispensation of the word, the Spirit reminds us of the gracious words and truths of Christ, proposing them to our faith and love. And in this lies the secret profiting and thriving of

1 1Thes 3:12-13 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you, 13 so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father…
2 Hos 6:3 Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.

believers under the preaching of the gospel, which maybe they are not aware of themselves. By this means, many thousands of acts of faith and love are drawn out whereby these graces are exercised and strengthened; and consequently holiness is increased. And the word, by the actings of faith being mixed with it, as in Heb 4.2,1 increases holiness by its incorporation.

(2.) The Spirit does it really and internally. He dwells in believers, preserving in them the root and principle of all their grace by his own immediate power. Hence all graces in their exercise are called “The fruits of the Spirit,” Gal 5.22-23. He brings them forth from the stock that he has planted in the heart.

And we cannot act any one grace without his effectual operation in this: “God works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” Phi 2.13; — that is, there is no part of our wills, singly and separately from Him in obedience, that is not the operation of the Spirit of God in us, so far as it is spiritual and holy. The Spirit is the immediate author of every good or gracious acting in us; for “in us, that is, in our flesh” (and of ourselves, we are but flesh), “there dwells no good.” This is why the Spirit of God, dwelling in believers, effectively excites and stirs up their graces to frequent exercise and actings, by which they are increased and strengthened. There is nothing in the whole course of our walking before God that we ought to be more careful about, than not grieving, not provoking, this good and holy Spirit, for which he should withhold his gracious aids and assistance from us. Therefore, this is the first way by which the work of sanctification is gradually carried on: by the Holy Ghost exciting our graces to frequent actings, by which these graces are increased and strengthened.

Secondly, The Spirit [increases holiness in us] by supplying believers with experiences of the truth, and of the reality and excellence of the things that are believed. Experience is the food of all grace, which it grows and thrives upon. Every taste that faith obtains of divine love and grace, or of how gracious the Lord is, adds to its measure and stature. Two things, therefore, must briefly be declared: (1.) That the experience of the reality, excellence, power, and efficacy of the things that are believed, is an effectual means of increasing faith and love; and (2.) That it is the Holy Ghost which gives us this experience.

(1.) For the first, God himself expostulates 2 with the church how its faith came to be so weak, when it had so great an experience of him, or of his power and faithfulness: Isa 40.27-28, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? How, then, can you say that God has forsaken you?” And our apostle affirms that the consolations which he experientially received from 3 God, enabled him to discharge his duty towards others in trouble, 2Cor 1.4. For in this we prove, or really approve of (as being satisfied in), “the good, and acceptable, and perfect will 4. I may say that someone who does not know how faith is encouraged and strengthened by special experiences of the reality, power, and spiritual efficacy upon the soul, of the things

1 Heb 4:2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.
2 That is, reasons.
3 2 Cor 1:4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
4 Col 2:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ;

believed, was never made a partaker of any of them. How often David encourages his own faith and the faith of others from his former experiences! These were also pleaded by our Lord Jesus Christ to the same purpose, in his great distress, Psa 22.9-10. 1

(2.) No other consideration is needed to evince that the Holy Ghost gives us all our spiritual experiences, but this: that all our consolation consists in these experiences. It is his work and office to administer consolation to believers, because he is the only Comforter of the church. Now, he administers comfort in no other way than by giving to the minds and souls of believers a spiritual, sensible experience of the reality and power of the things we believe. He does not comfort us by words, but by things. I know of no other means of spiritual consolation; and I am sure that this one never fails. Give a soul an experience, a taste, of the love and grace of God in Christ Jesus, and whatever that soul’s condition may be, it cannot refuse to be comforted. And hereby the Spirit “sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts,” Rom 5.5, by which all graces are cherished and increased.

Thirdly, He does it by working immediately an actual increase of these graces in us. I have shown that these are capable of improvement, and of an addition of degrees to them. Now, they are originally the immediate work and product of the Spirit of God in us, as has been abundantly evinced. And as he first works and creates them, so he increases them. Hereby those who are “feeble become as David,” Zec 12.8; that is, those whose graces were weak, whose faith was infirm, and whose love was languid, will become strong and vigorous by the supplies of the Spirit, and the increase given by him. Promises are multiplied to this purpose in the Scripture, which we principally consider in our constant supplications. The schoolmen, after Austin, call this “Gratiam corroborantem;” that is, the working of the Holy Spirit in the increasing and 2 strengthening of grace received. See Eph 3.16-17; Col 1.10-11; Isa 40.29. And this is the principal cause and means of the gradual increase of holiness in us, or of carrying on the work of sanctification, Psa 138.8 3.

1 Owen extends Psa 22.1 “Why have you forsake me?” to include Psa 22:9 But You are He who took Me out of the womb; You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon You from birth. From My mother’s womb You have been My God.
2 Eph 3:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love; Col 1:10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; Isa 40:29 He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength.
3 Psa 138:8 The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever;