The Effigies of John Flavell.
Aetatis suae 50 An̄o Dom 1680.

R:White sculp.

[Page] THE METHOD OF GRACE, In bringing home the Eternal Redemption, Contrived by the FATHER, and accomplished by the SON through the effectual application of the Spirit unto GOD's Elect; being the Second Part of GOSPEL REDEMPTION: WHEREIN The great mysterie of our Union and Communion with Christ is opened and applied, Unbelievers invited, False pretenders convicted, every mans claim to Christ exami­ned, and the misery of Christless persons discovered and bewailed.

By John Flavell Minister of the Gospel.

Which things the Angels desire to look into,
1 Pet. 1. 12.
[...].
Basilius, in Psal. 115.
[...].
Nazianzen.

LONDON, Printed by M. White, for Francis Tyton at three Daggers in Fleetstreet near the Inner-Temple-Gate. 1681.

To the Worshipful John Upton of Lup­ton, Esq, and the most accomplish­ed and vertuous Lady his dear Con­sort; the Author wishes Grace, Mer­cy and Peace.

Honoured and Worthy Friends,

IT was a comfortable expressi­on which Ambrose used in his Funeral Oration at the death of Theodosius; Theodosius tantus impe­rator recessit à nobis, sed non totus re­cessit; reli­quit enim nobis liberos suos, in qui­bus debemus eum agnosce­re. Ambros. in obit. Theodos. that though he were gone, yet he was not wholly gone; for he had left Honorius with others of his Children behind him, in whom Theodosius still lived. Your re­nowned and worthy Ancestors are gone, yet bles­sed be God, they are not wholly gone; whilst the prudence, piety and publickness of their Spi­rits [Page] still lives and flourishes in you, the top­branch of a renowned and religious Family. 'Tis a great truth which Philo Judaeus recommends to the ob­servation of all posterity [...]. Philo Judaeus [...], A Book fit for the hands of all Gentlemen, translated by Laurentius Humphredus in his excellent Tract de nobilitate. that it is not a natural descent from the most honourable and illustrious progenitors, nor the greatest affluence of riches and pleasures that makes a man ei­ther honourable or happy; but the inhabitation of God in his soul, as in his Temple, though (saith he) those that never tast­ed Religion nor have seen its glory will not credit this asserti­on. The soul which is filled with God, saith [...]. [...]otinus. Plotinus, and brings forth the beautiful fruits of righteousness, this is the truly noble soul: our new birth makes us more honourable than our natural birth, let our birth-right dignities be what they will. The Children of Nobles are by nature the Children of wrath even as others: omnis san­guis concolor, all blood is of one colour; it is all tainted in Adam, and mingled together in his posterity: there is no King saith [Page] Neminem regem non ex servis es­se oriundu [...], neminem servum non ex regibus: omnia ista longa varietas miscuit, & sursum deorsum fortuna versavit. Senec. Epist. 44. Seneca, which rose not from a servant: there is no servant which rose not from a King: these things have been blended and tos­sed to and fro, by a long variety.

But though the priviledges of natural birth signifie nothing as to eternal salvation, yet in civil and political respects and considerations, those that by birth, education or estate possess an higher station in the world, differ from the vulgaras stars of greater magnitude and lustre: their interest and influence is great in these things, and the welfare of Kingdoms Qui [...] ma tractant gubernacu­la, qui pri­vatis, qui publicis rebus intersunt ac praesunt, nisi viri summi ac nobiles? Quis in senatu praeit, in foro praesidet, domi, foris imperat? Principes sanè viri & nobiles: quis jubet, vetat, agit, satagit, quis versat & volvit omnia, quis leges fingit, & refingit, quis in pace rempublicam, contra hostes bella administrat; praeterquam magni viri & nobiles? Nec mirum ei rerum summa committi, qui & virtute sua, & commendatione majorum, ad hominum famam & existimati­onem dimanavit. Laurentius Humphredus de nobilitate, pag. (mihi) 64. great­ly depends upon them.

It is therefore a great design of the enemy of mankind to corrupt persons of eminent rank and quality both in religion and morality; and by their influence and example to infect and poyson the whole body politick: and his [Page] success herein deserves to be greatly lament­ed and bewailed. Persons of eminency are more especially In maxima fortuna, minima est licentia. Salust. obliged to shun base and sordid actions. Hierom professed Nih [...]l aliud video in nobilita­te appetendum, nisi quod nobiles quadam necessitate constringun­tur ne ab antiquorum probitate degenerent. Hieron. he saw nothing desirable in nobility ex­cept this, that such persons are bound by a certain kind of ne­cessity not to degenerate from the probity, or stain the glory of their Ancestors. But alas! how many in our times have not on­ly exposed Christianity to con­tempt, but obscured Faxit Deus opt. max. ut eum finem consequatur, quem mihi proposui, quo tandem aliquando vetus & veneranda nobilitas r [...] ­deat, quae prudentiae & dectri­n [...] gloriâ, & factorum splendo­re, majorum laudes obscuret, in­ustamque augusto nomini suo ma­culam tollat & deleat. Humph. de Nob. p. 58. the glory of their own families, and the Kingdom in which they had their birth and breeding; so that if you will take right marks of your way to Heaven, you will have little direction from those of your own rank, but as Eadem ratione hanc vitae viam quaeri oportet, qua in alto iter navibus quaeritur; nisi aliquid coeli lumen observent, incertis cursibus vagantur: quisquis re­ctum iter vitae tenure nititur, non terram debet aspicere, sed coelum; & ut apertius loquar, non homi­nem debet sequi sed Deum: ita (que) si oculos in coelum semper inten­das, & solem quà oritur, observes, eumque habes vitae quasi navigii ducem; sua sponte pedes inviam dirigentur, Lactan. lib. 6. c. 8. Mariners take their dire­ction at Sea, by looking up to the Heavens, so must you. In this general corruption it is ve­ry hard to escape infection: ma­ny (as Salvian complained) [Page] Mali esse coguntur ne viles habe­antur. Salv. de Guber­nat. are compelled to be evil, lest they should be accounted vile: and incur the offence of God, to avoid the slights and censures of men. Although there is no more reason why they should be offended at the rational and religi­ous pleasures, you and other pious Gentlemen take in the ways of godliness, than there is that you should envy the sinful pleasures they take in the ways of wickedness. It was an excellent Apology that Tertullian made for the Christians of his time against the Gentiles, Quo vos offendimus si alias prae­sumimus vo­luptates? si oblectari no­lumus, no­stra injuria est: repro­bamus quae placent vobis, nec vos nostra delectant. Tertul. Apolog. adv. Gent. Wherein (saith he) do we offend you, if we believe there are other pleasures? If we will not partake with you in your delights, it is only our own injury: we reject your plea­sures, and you are not delighted with ours.

But by how much the infection spreads and prevails among those of your Order, by so much the more we have reason to value you, and all those that remain sound and untainted both in religion and morality, as persons worthy of singular respect and honour, and blessed be God there is yet a number of such left.

[Page] Sir, It was a special happiness which Chry­sostom earnestly recommended to persons of quality, that they would so order their con­versations, that their Parents might rather glo­ry in them, than they in their Parents; Melius est de contem­ptibili fieri clarum, quam de cla­ro genere contemptibi­lem esse. Chrysostom in Mat. 4. Nec fieri potest quin hunc comitetur ignobilitas etiamsi vel A [...]is, vel Proavis natus sit vitâ inculpatis, qui ab eorum studiis alienus est, seque longissimè tum dictis, tum factis à-nobilitate disjungit. otherwise (saith he) it is better to rise to ho­nour from a contemptible Parent, than to be contemptible from an honourable Parent: but blessed be God, you and your worthy Ance­stors mutually reflect honour upon each other.

Had God suffered you to degenerate, as many do, it would have been but a poor consolation to have said, my Progenitors were men of honour, the love and delight of their Country. This as Quid oculis capto ad visum profuerit perspicax majorum acies, cùm eâ privatus est? Vel quid ad interpretandi faculta­tem, impeditae linguae hominem juverit, parentes vel avos fuisse vocales? Pari ratione, nec in­justis justi parentes, nec luxu perditis, temperantes: nec om­nino boni malis quicquam utilita­tis afferunt, &c. Philo. [...]. one excellently expres­seth it, would be the same thing as if one that is blind himself, should boast what a sharp and piercing sight his father had, or one that is lame himself should glory in those feats of activity his Grandfather per­formed: but God (to whose bounty there­fore [Page] you are doubly obliged) hath made you the inheritor of their vertues, as well as of their lands, and therein fulfilled many thou­sand prayers which have been poured out to God upon your account. But I must forbear, lest I provoke others to envy, and draw up­on 1 [...] my self the suspicion of flattery: what hath been already said may serve for a suffici­ent reason of this Dedication. I know the Quando bona audien­tis & grata mens est, fa­cilè assenti­tur sermoni­bus verita­tis. Chryso. Hom. 26. in Mat. agreeableness of such discourses to the pi­ous dispositions of your souls is of it self suffi­cient to make it welcome to you. It is a Treatise of Christ, yea, of the method of grace in the application of Christ; than which no subject can be more necessary to study, or sweet to experience. [...]. Plato. All goodness is attractive, how powerfully attractive then must Jesus Christ be who is the oce­an of all goodness, from whom all streams of goodness are de­rived, and into whom they all empty themselves? [...]. If Pin­darus could say of the lovely Theoxenus, that whosoever saw that august and comely face of his, and was not surpri­zed with amazement and inflamed with love, must have an heart of Adamant or Brass, what [Page] then shall we resemble that mans heart unto that hath no fervorous affections kindled in it by the incomparable beauty of Christ! A beauty which excels in lustre and brightness that visible light which so dazels our eyes [...]. Plato. as that light doth darkness it self, as Plato speaks of the divine light. Christ is [...] an inexpressible beauty, and all other beauties are but [...], an image, nay a shadow of his beauty. How was holy Ignatius ravished with desires after Christ when [...]. Ignatius Epist. he cried out, O how I long to be thrown into the jaws of those Lions which I hear roaring for me! and if they will not dis­patch me the sooner, [...], I will enforce them to it by violence, that I may enjoy the sight of my blessed Jesus. O Cor me­um quomodo non te evel­lis post tan­tum deco­rem? Ni­remberg. Vivere re­nuo, ut Chri­sto vivam. O my heart (saith another) how is it thou art not drawn up by the very root by thy desires after Christ? The necessity and the trial of our union with, and interest in this lovely Lord Jesus, is the main subject of this discourse: without the personal application of Christ by faith, our hopes of Heaven are but deluding dreams, Heb. 3. 11. I sware in my wrath [...], [Page] if they shall enter into my rest: what then? Nay, there is all: but it is a dreadful Aposiope­sis (as one calls it) such a pause, as may justly shake every vein of the unbelievers heart: if they shall enter, as if he had said, if ever they come into my glory, then say I am no God, for I have sworn the contrary.

I will not be tiresom, but conclude all in few requests to you, and to God for you both. That which I request of you is,

(1.) That you will search and try your own hearts by these truths, especially now when so great tryals are like to be made of eve­ry mans root and foundation in Religion. Ac­count that your first work, which Bellarmine calls the first error of Protestants, to make sure your interest in Christ; Primus haereticorun [...] error est, posse fideles eam notiti­am habere de sua gratia, ut certâ fide statuant sibi remissa esse peccata. Bellarm. de justi­fic. lib. 3. cap. 3. every thing is as its foundation is: a true Diamond will endure the smartest stroke of the Hammer, but a false one will fly.

(2.) That you be humble under all that dignity and honour which God hath put upon you: be ye cloathed with humility. It was the glory of the Primitive Christians, that they Non elo­quimur magna, fed vivimus. Tertul. Apolog. did not speak but live great things. [Page] Humility will be the luster of your other ex­cellencies: Estates and Honours are but ap­pendants and fine trappings which add not any real worth, yet Narrant Bucepha­lum quoties nudus esset, equisonem admittere in tergum voluisse: sed regiis phaleris & bullis decoratum, neminem praeter regem ipsum tulisse: ita sanè-fit in novis hisce optimatibus, &c. how are some vain minds puffed up with these things! but ye have not so learned Christ.

(3.) That you steddily persevere in those good wayes of God in which you have walk­ed, and beware of heart or life apostasie. You expect happiness whilst God is in Heaven, and God expects holiness from you whilst you are on earth. It was an excellent truth which Tossanus Obtestor etiam vos liberos, & generos cha­rissimos ne illius verita­tis evange­licae unquam vos pudeat: potest enim laborare, sed non vinci veritas: & non semel expertus sum Dominum Deum mirabiliter adesse iis qui coram ipso ambulant, & in sua vocatione sedulò & integrè versantur; licet ad tempus, odiis, aut simultatibus, aut calumniis agitentur. Melch. Adams in vita Tossani. recommended to his po­sterity in his last Will and Testament from his own experience. I beseech you, saith he, my dear Children and Kindred, that you ne­ver be ashamed of the truths of the Gospel, either by reason of scandals in the Church, or persecutions upon it; truth may labour for a time but cannot be conquered, and I have of­ten found God to be wonderfully present with them that walk before him in truth, though [Page] for a time they may be opprest with troubles and calumnies.

(4.) Lastly, That you keep a strict and constant watch over your own hearts, lest they be ensnared by the tempting, charming and dangerous snares attending a full and ea­sie condition in the world. There are tem­ptations suited to all conditions: those that are poor and low in estate and reputation, are tempted to cozen, cheat, lie and flatter; and all to get up to the mount of Riches and honours: but those that were born upon that mount, though they be more free from those temptations, yet lie exposed to others no less dangerous, and therefore we find, not many mighty, not many noble are called, 1 Cor. 1. 26. Many great and stately Ships, which spread much sail, and draw much water perish in the storms, when small Barks creep along the shore under the wind, and get safe into their Port. Never aim-at an higher station in this world than that you are in: Lugebat moribundus Hermannus plus temporis operaeque se palatio quàm Tem­plo impendisse; luxum & vitiae Aulae, quae corrigere debuisset, adjuvasse, atque ita multo peccati dolore, trepidâ spe divinae clementiae, plurimo astantium horro­re, anceps sui, anima aeternitatem ingressa est. Hist. Bohem. lib. 11. some have wisht in their dying hour they had been lower, but no wise man ever wisht himself at the top of honour at the brink of eternity.

[Page] I will conclude all with this hearty wish for you, that as God hath set you in a capacity of much service for him in your generation, so your hearts may be enlarged for God ac­cordingly; that you may be very instrumen­tal for his glory on earth, and may go safe, but late to Heaven. That the blessings of Heaven may be multiplied upon you both, and your hopeful springing branches; and that you may live to see your Childrens Chil­dren and peace upon Israel. In a word, that God will follow these truths in your hands with the blessing of his spirit, and that the manifold infirmities of him that ministers them, may be no prejudice or bar to their suc­cess with you or any into whose hands they shall come, which is the hearty desire of

Your most faithful friend and Servant in Christ,Jo. Flavel.

THE EPISTLE.

Christian Reader,

EVery Creature by the instinct of na­ture, or by the light of reason strives to avoid danger, and get out of harms way. The Cattel in the fields presaging a storm at hand, fly to the hedges and thickets for shelter. The Fowls of Heaven by the same natu­ral instinct, perceiving the approach of Winter, take their timely flight to a warmer Climate. This Plin. l. 18. c. 35. Virg. Georg. l. 1. Naturalists have observed of them, and their ob­servation is confirmed by Scripture testimony: of the Cattle it is said, Job 37. 6, 7, 8. He saith to [Page] the Snow, be thou on the earth, likewise the small rain, and the great rain of his strength; then the beasts go into dens and remain in their places: And of the Fowls of the air it is said, Jer. 8. 7. The Stork in the Heavens knoweth her appointed times, and the Turtle and the Crane, and the Swallow observe the time of their coming.

But man being a prudent and prospecting crea­ture, hath the advantage of all other Creatures in his foreseeing faculty; For God hath taught him more than the beasts of the earth, and made him wiser than the fowls of Heaven, Job 35. 11. And a wise mans heart discerneth both time and judgement, Eccles. 8. 5. For as there are natural signs of the change of weather, Mat. 16. 3. so there are moral signs of the changes of time and providences: yet such is the supineness and inexcu­sable regardlesness of most men, that they will not fear till they feel; nor think any danger very con­siderable, till it become inevitable.

We of this Nation have long enjoyed the light of the glorious Gospel among us: it hath shone in much clearness upon this sinful Island for more than a whole Century of happy years: but the longest day hath an end, and we have cause to fear our bright Sun is going down upon us; for the shadows in England are grown greater than the substance [Page] which is one sign of approaching night, Jer. 6. 4. The beasts of prey creep out of their dens and coverts, which is another sign of night at hand, Psal. 104. 20. and the workmen come home apace from their labours, and go to rest; which is as sad a sign as any of the rest, Job 7. 1, 2. Isa. 57. 1, 2. Happy were it if in such a juncture as this, every man would make it his work and business to secure himself in Christ, from the storm of Gods indignation which is ready to fall upon these sinful Nations. It is said of the Egyptians when the storm of hail was coming upon the land, Exod. 9. 20. He that feared the word of the Lord, made his servants and cattle flee into the houses. 'Tis but an odd sight to see the prudence of an Egyptian out-vying the wisdom and circumspection of a Christian.

God who provides natural shelter and refuge for all creatures, hath not left his people unprovided and destitute of defence and security in the most tempe­stuous times of national judgements. It is said, Mic. 5. 5. This man (meaning the man Christ Jesus) shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land, and when he shall tread in our Palaces: and Isai. 26. 20. Come my people, enter thou into thy Chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thy self as it were for a little moment until the indignation be overpast.

[Page] My Friends, let me speak as freely as I am sure I speak seasonably. A sound of judgement is in our ears; the Lords voice crieth unto the City, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod and who hath appoint­ed it, Mica. 6. 9. All things round about us seem to posture themselves for trouble and distress. Where is the man of wisdom that doth not foresee a shower of wrath and indignation coming? We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear and not of peace. Ask ye now and see whether a man doth tra­vel with child? Wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness. Alas, for that day is great, so that none is like it; it is even the day of Jacobs trouble, but he shall be delivered out of it, Jer. 30. 5, 6, 7.

Many eyes are now opened to see the common danger, but some foresaw it long ago; when they saw the general decay of godliness every where, the notorious Prophanity and Atheism that overspread the Nations; the spirit of enmity and bitterness against the power of godliness whereever it ap­peared: and though there seemed to be a present calm and general quietness; yet those that were wise in heart could not but discern distress of nations with great perplexity in these seeds of judgement and ca­lamity: but as the Epha fills more and more, so [Page] the determined wrath grows more and more visible to every eye: and 'tis a fond thing to dream of tranquillity in the mid [...] of so much iniquity. Indeed, if these Nations were once swept with the besom of reformation, we might hope God would not sweep them with the besome of destruction: but what peace can be expected whilst the highest provocations are continued?

It is therefore the great and present concernment of all to provide themselves of a refuge before the storm overtake them: for as Augustin well observes, non facile inveniuntur praesidia in adversitate, quae non fuerint in pace quaesita, O take up your lodgings in the Attributes and Promises of God, before the night overtake you: view them often by faith, and clear up your interest in them, that you may be able to go to them in the dark, when the Ministers and Ordinances of Christ have taken their leave of you, and bid you good night.

Whilst many are hasting on the wrath of God by prophaneness, and many by smiting their fellow Ser­vants; and multitudes resolve if trouble come, to fish in the troubled waters for safety and prefer­ment; not doubting whensoever the overflowing flood comes, but they shall stand dry: O that you would be mourning for their sins, and providing better for your own safety.

[Page] Reader, it is thy one thing necessary to get a cleared interest in Jesus Christ: which being once obtained, thou maist face the storm with boldness, and say Come troubles and distresses, losses and try­als, prisons and death; I am provided for you; do your worst, you can do me no harm: let the winds roar, the lightnings flesh, the rains and hail fall ne­ver so furiously, I have a good roof over my head, a comfortable lodging provided for me: my place of defence is the munition of rocks, where bread shall be given me, and my waters shall be sure, Isa. 33. 16.

The design of the ensuing Treatise is to assist thee in this great work: and though it was promised to the world many years past, yet providence hath reserved it for the fittest season, and brought it to thy hand in a time of need.

It contains the method of grace in the applica­tion of the great redemption to the souls of men, as the former part contains the method of grace in the impetration thereof by Jesus Christ. The acceptation God hath given the former part, signified by the desires of many for the publication of this; hath at last prevailed with me, (notwithstand­ing the secret consciousness of my inequality to so great an undertakement) to adventure this second part also upon the ingenuity and candour of the Reader.

[Page] And I consent the more willingly to the publicati­on of this, because the design I first aimed at could not be intire and compleat without it; but especially the quality of the subject matter which through the blessing and concurrence of the spirit may be useful both to rouze the drousie Consciences of this sleepy generation, and to assist the upright in clearing the work of the spirit upon their own souls. These consi­derations have prevailed with me against all discou­ragements.

And now, Reader, it is impossible for me to speak particularly and distinctly to the case of thy soul, which I am ignorant of, except the Lord shall direct my discourse to it in some of the following sup­positions.

If thou be one that hast sincerely applied and re­ceived Jesus Christ by faith, this discourse through the blessing of the Spirit may be useful to thee, to clear and confirm thy evidences, to melt thy heart in the sense of thy mercies, and to ingage and quicken thee in the way of thy duties. Here thou wilt see what great things the Lord hath done for thy soul, and how these dignities as thou art his Son or Daughter by the double title of regeneration and adoption, do oblige thee to yield up thy self to God intirely, and to say from thy heart, Lord whatever I am, I am for thee, whatever I can do, I will do for thee, and whatever I can suffer, I will suffer for thee; and all that I [Page] am or have, all that I can do or suffer, is nothing to what thou hast done for my soul.

If thou be a stranger to regeneration and faith; a person that makest a powerless profession of Christ; that hast a name to live but art dead: here it's pos­sible thou maist meet something that will convince thee, how dangerous a thing it is to be an old creature in the new creatures dress and habit: and what it is that blinds thy judgement, and is likeliest to prove thyruine: a seasonable and full conviction whereof will be the greatest mercy that can befall thee in this world; if thereby at last God may help thee-to put on Christ as well as the name-of Christ.

If thow be in darkness about the state of thy own soul, and willing to have it faithfully and impartially tried by the rule of the word, which will not warp to any mans humour or interest: here thou wilt find some weak assistance offered thee, to clear and disintan­gle thy doubting thoughts, which through thy prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, may lead thee to a comfortable settlement, and inward peace.

If thou be a proud, conceited, presumptuous [...]oul, who hast too little knowledge, and too much pride and self-love to admit any doubts or scruples of thy state towards God; there are many things in this Treatise proper for thy conviction and better information: for woe to thee, if thou shouldest not fear, till thou [Page] begin to feel thy misery; if thy troubles do not come on, till all thy hopes are gone off.

I know all these things are performed by me with much infirmity: and that the whole management is quite below the dignity of the subject. But when I con­sider the success of Sermons and Books in the world, hath but little relation to the elegancy of Language or accuracy of method; and that many may be useful, who cannot be excellent: I am willing in all humi­lity and sincerity to commit it to the direction of provi­dence, and the blessing of the Spirit.

One thing I shall earnestly request of all the people of God, into whose hands this shall fall; that now at last, they will be perswaded to end all their unbrother­ly quarrels and strifes among themselves; which have wasted so much precious time, and decayed the vital spirits of Religion; hindred the conversion of multi­tudes, and increased and confirmed the Atheism of the times: and now at last opened a breach at which the common enemy is ready to enter, and end the quarrel to our cost. O put on as the elect of God, bowels of mercy, and a spirit of charity and forbearance; if not for your own sakes, yet for the Churches sake; Si non vis tibi parcere, parce Carthagini.

I remember it is noted in our English History as a very remarkable thing, that when the Severn over­flowed part of Somersetshire, it was observed that Dogs and Hares, Cats and Rats, to avoid the com­mon [Page] destruction, would swim to the next rising ground, and abide quietly together in that common danger, with­out the least discovery of their natural antipathy.

The story applies it self, and O that Christians would every where depose their animosities; that the hearts of the Fathers might be turned to the children, and the children to the Fathers; lest God come and smite the earth with a curse.

O that you would dwell more in your Closets, and be more frequently and fervently upon your knees. O that you would search your hearts more narrowly, and sift them more throughly than ever; before the day pass as the chaff, and the Lords fierce anger come up­on you: look into your Bibles, then into your hearts, and then to Heaven for a true discovery of your con­ditions; and if this poor mite may contribute any thing to that end, it will be a great reward of the unworthy labours of

Thy Servant in Christ, John Flavel.

A Table of Scriptures occasionally opened in this TREATISE.

Genesis.
  • GEN. 44. 10. p. 240
Exodus.
  • Exod. 23. 21. p. 154
Numbers.
  • Numb. 24. 2. p. 407
Duteronomy.
  • Deut. 9. 12. p. 284
  • 12. 8, 9. p. 221
2 Samuel.
  • 2 Sam. 12. 7, 8. p. 319
1 Kings.
  • 1 King. 8. 18. p. 315
Job.
  • Job 4. 21. p. 252
  • 21. 12. p. 292
  • 13. 26. p. 185
  • 21. 4. p. 190
  • 24. 6. p. 398
  • 36. 8, 9. p. 379
Psalm.
  • Psal. 11. 4. p. 71
  • 18. 6, 7. p. 317
  • 19. 17. p. 396
  • 27. 4. p. 271
  • 30. 7. p. 291
  • 32. 1, 2. p. 303
  • 45. 7. p. 28
  • 45. 7. p. 162
  • 45. 2. p. 179
  • 45. 14, 15. p. 256
  • 45. 15. p. 339
  • 49. 14. p. 353
  • 73. 4. p. 350
  • 78. 34. p. 102
  • 97. 10. p. 62
  • 97. 11. p. 207
  • 97. 11. p. 293
  • [Page] 97. 11. p. 423
  • 103. 10. p. 303
  • 119. 60. p. 578
  • 130. 2, 3. p. 185
  • 139. 16. p. 100
Proverbs.
  • Prov. 8. 36. p. 17, 18
  • 16. 6. p. 484
  • 30. 8. p. 477
Canticles.
  • Cant. 2. 7. p. 85
  • 2. 3. p. 238
  • 3. 11. p. 20
  • 4. 9. p. 258
  • 5. 16. p. 248
  • 5. 9. p. 385
Isaiah.
  • Isai. 12. 1. p. 66
  • 27. 4. p. 52
  • 29. 1, 4. p. 452
  • 43. 25. p. 300
  • 45. 11. p. 313
  • 53. 5. p. 218, 225
  • 53. 3. p. 593
  • 55. 7. p. 80
  • 55. 10, 11. p. 363
  • 61. 1. p. 198
  • 65. 1. p. 89
Jeremiah.
  • Jer. 2. 13. p. 295
  • 23. 6. p. 154
  • 31. 24. p. 376
  • 31. 33. p. 378
  • 32. 40. p. 53
Ezekiel.
  • Ezek. 13. 18. p. 355
  • 33. 32. p. 575
  • 36. 25. p. 96
  • 36. 27. p. 101
Daniel.
  • Dan. 2. 17. p. 316
  • 9. 24. p. 240
Hosea.
  • Hos. 11. 4. p. 74
Amos.
  • Amos 6. 13. p. 292
Haggai.
  • Hag. 2. 7. p. 262
Zechariah.
  • Zech. 2. 8. p. 42
  • 12. 10. p. 417
Malachi.
  • Mal. 3. 12. p. 263
  • 1. 13. p. 103
Matthew.
  • Mat. 3. 9. p. 351
  • 7. 7. p. 313
  • 7. 22. p. 352
  • 6. 22, 23. p. 563
  • 8. 11. p. 265
  • 9. 12. p. 215
  • 11. 28. p. 181, 182
  • 11. 29. p. 465
  • 11. 25. p. 584
  • 12. 44, 45. p. 332
  • 13. 45, 46. p. 74
  • 13. 19. p. 577
  • 21. 32. p. 73
  • 21. 21. p. 354
  • 25. 35, 40. p. 38
Mark.
  • Mark 9. 44. p. 186
  • 9. 44. p. 490
Luke.
  • Luk. 1. 72. p. 232, 233
  • 2. 25. p. 286
  • 5. 31. p. 199
  • 11. 21. p. 572
  • 14. 28. p. 124
  • 15. 24. p. 97
  • 15. 24. p. 95
  • 16. 8. p. 109
  • 9. 62. p. 386
John.
  • Joh. 1. 13. p. 110
  • 1. 12. p. 113
  • 1. 16. p. 169
  • 1. 12, 13. p. 445
  • 1. 54 p. 470
  • 3. 8. p. 99
  • [Page] 3. 36. p. 136
  • 3. 24. p. 154
  • 3. 8. p. 434
  • 3. 18. p. 539
  • 3. 19. p. 550
  • 4. 14. p. 95
  • 4. 29. p. 186
  • 5. 26. p. 30
  • 5. 40. p. 83
  • 5. 40. p. 195
  • 6. 57. p. 30
  • 6. 44. p. 68, 69
  • 6. 44. p. 194
  • 6. 37. p. 224
  • 6. 45. p. 373
  • 7. 17. p. 377
  • 8. 36. p. 322
  • 10. 29. p. 88
  • 11. 26. p. 94
  • 14. 19. p. 34, 37
  • 14. 26. p. 399
  • 15. 22. p. 555
  • 16. 13. p. 10
  • 16. 8, 9. p. 199
  • 16. ult. p. 214
  • 16. 9. p. 364
  • 16. 8, 9. p. 114
  • 17. 23. p. 25, 26
  • 17. 22. p. 408
  • 20. 17. p. 176
Acts.
  • Act. 4. 12. p. 155
  • 9. 5. p. 29
  • 13. 50. p. 589
  • 15. 9. p. 152
  • 16. 29. p. 149
Romans.
  • Rom. 2. 14. p. 498
  • 2. 9 p. 557
  • 3. 24. p. 53
  • 3. 22. p. 546
  • 4. 5. p. 123
  • 5. 8. p. 302
  • 6. 5. p. 27
  • 6. 4. p. 76
  • 6. ult. p. 380
  • 6. 21. p. 448
  • 6. 5, 6, 7, 8. p. 458
  • 6. 13, 14. p. 470
  • 6. 2. p. 490
  • 7. 9. p. 347
  • 8. 11. p. 30
  • 8. 2. p. 30
  • 8. 35, 38, 39. p. 34
  • 8. 6. p. 97
  • 8. 1. p. 208
  • 8. 2. p. 415
  • 8. 5, 6. p. 418
  • 8. 14. p. 419
  • 8. 13. p. 458, 461
  • 10. 3. p. 79
  • 10. 3. p. 137
  • 11. 29. p. 78
  • 13. 11. p. 343
1 Corinthians.
  • 1 Cor. 1. 3. p. 1
  • 1. 30. p. 32
  • 1. 2. p. 33
  • 1. 21. p. 55
  • 2. 2. p. 237
  • 2. 8. p. 276
  • 2. 14. p. 394
  • 3. 22. p. 35
  • 3. 7. p. 87
  • 3. 16, 17. p. 96
  • 3. 22, 23. p. 209
  • 3. 7. p. 362
  • 3. 7. p. 55
  • 4. 7. p. 15
  • 4. 13. p. 318
  • 6. 11. p. 10
  • 6. 17. p. 27
  • 7. 22. p. 330
  • 9. 27. p. 59
  • 9. 24. p. 487
  • 12. 11. p. 411
  • 12. 26, 27. p. 416
  • 15. 24. p. 48
  • 15. 11. p. 121
2 Corinthians.
  • 2 Cor. 3. 16. p. 390
  • 3. 18. p. 391
  • 4. 7. p. 55
  • 4. 6. p. 101
  • 4. 3, 4. p. 354
  • 4. 6. p. 430
  • 4. 3, 4. p. 565
  • 5. 20. p. 54
  • 5. 17. p. 426
  • 6. 1. p. 156
  • 5. 5. p. 435
  • 8. 9. p. 174
  • 10. 4, 5. p. 54
  • 10. 4, 5. p. 76
  • 10. 3. p. 79
  • 10. 4. p. 82, 83
Galatians.
  • [Page]Gal. 2. 20. p. 169
  • 3. 23. p. 148
  • 4. 4, 5. p. 341
  • 4. 6, 7. p. 409
  • 5. 17. p. 112
  • 5. 6. p. 152
  • 5. 17. p. 452
  • 5. 24. p. 456
  • 6. 1. p. 187
  • 6. 22, 23. p. 441
Ephesians.
  • Eph. 1. 22, 23. p. 35
  • 1. 10. p. 36
  • 1. 19, 20. p. 72
  • 1. 7. p. 298
  • 1. 6. p. 309
  • 1. 18. p. 568
  • 2. 10. p. 76
  • 2. 1. p. 90, 91
  • 2. 10. p. 100
  • 2. 13. p. 310
  • 2. 12. p. 337
  • 2. 12. p. 350
  • 2. 1, 2, 3. p. 433
  • 3. 17. p. 127
  • 3. 8. p. 173
  • 4. 15, 16. p. 27
  • 4. 7. p. 235
  • 5. 31, 32. p. 166
  • 5. 14. p. 527
  • 6. 32. p. 27
Philippian.
  • Phil. 1. 29. p. 79
  • 1. 29. p. 282
  • 2. 15. p. 503
  • 3. 8. p. 81
  • 3. 12. p. 91
  • 3. 9. p. 168
  • 3. 12. p. 500
  • 4. 19. p. 176
Colossians.
  • Col. 1. 2, 4. p. 29
  • 1. 27. p. 136
  • 1. 19. p. 250
  • 1. 17. p. 251
  • 1. 22. p. 310
  • 2. 13. p. 95
  • 2. 6. p. 158
  • 3. 11. p. 172
  • 3. 3. p. 434
  • 2. 14. p. 326
1 Thessalonians.
  • 1 Thess. 1. 5, 6. p. 7
  • 5. 23. p. 98
2 Thessalonians.
  • 2 Thess. 1. 10. p. 282
1 Timothy.
  • 1 Tim. 1. 16. p. 190
  • 1. 15. p. 193
  • 5. 6. p. 108
2 Timothy.
  • 2 Tim. 2. 19. p. 499
Titus.
  • Tit. 2. 10. p. 284
  • 3. 8. p. 16
Hebrews.
  • Heb. 2. 14. p. 327
  • 3. 14. p. 28
  • 3. 14. p. 344
  • 4. 3. p. 205
  • 5. 14. p. 111
  • 5. 2. p. 223
  • 5. 4. p. 504
  • 7. 25. p. 196
  • 7. 25. p. 253
  • 10. 14. p. 29
  • 10. 27. p. 187
  • 11. 6. p. 194
  • 11. 26. p. 281
  • 12. 24. p. 257
  • 12. 8. p. 326
James.
  • Jam. 1. 18. p. 431
  • 4. 12. p. 279
1 Peter.
  • 1 Pet. 1. 2. p. 8
  • 1. 2. p. 409
  • 1. 5. p. 474
  • 2. 4. p. 12
  • 2. 2. p. 112
  • 3. 18. p. 335
  • 4. 4. p. 86
  • 4. 4. p. 433
2 Peter.
  • [Page]2 Pet. 1. 4. p. 96
  • 1. 4. p. 481
1 John.
  • 1 Joh. 2. 27. p. 139
  • 2. 27. p. 377
  • 2. 6. p. 495
  • 2. 6. p. 515
  • 3. 7. p. 13
  • 3. 9. p. 99
  • 3. 8. p. 103
  • 3. 7. p. 130
  • 3. 24. p. 403
  • 5. 11. p. 99
  • 5. 9. p. 118
Jude.
  • Jude v. 6. p. 52
  • v. 21. p. 155
  • v. 6. p. 155
  • v. 12. p. 536
Revelation.
  • 2. 7. p. 11
  • 3. 2. p. 438
  • 5. 6. p. 257
  • 21. 9. p. 255
Reader,

NOtwithstanding the extraordinary care of the Printer and Corrector some faults have escaped the Press, which a little care of thine may easily rectifie in this manner.

CORRIGENDA.

PAge 12. line 4. add be before registred: p. 27. l. 8. read though: p. 31. l. 9. for it r. him: p. 36. l. 20. add by nature: p. 47. l. 31. for when r. whence: p. 38. l. 22. dele And: p. 71. l. 22. dele either, and l. 23. for or r. this: p. 74. l. 7. for of r. or: p. 81. l. penult. is is transposed: p. 88. l. 3. for contain r. continue: p. 117. l. 22. dele of and put it after act­ings: p. 167. l. ult. add to justifie us after as Christ hath: p. 244. l. 26. for seems r. sees: p. 158. l. 27. for of r. by: p. 300. l. 9. for essentially r. especially: p. 307. l. 38. for by r. of salvation: p. 422. l. 2. dele not: p. 323. l. 28. for are r. is: p. 454. l. 9. for creature r. nature: p. 475. l. 6. dele The earthliness of: p. 487. l. 4. for our r. one: p. 519. l. 19. for weaken r. meeken: p. 507. l. 28. for as r. was: p. 536. l. 12. for spiritual r. specifical: p. 541. l. 23. for or r. and: p. 549. l. penult. for your r. you: p. 558. l. 27. for us r. him.

Υποτυπωσις TOTIUS OPERIS.

  • Redemption hath 2 Parts, viz. meritorious Impetration, opened Part 1. and effectual Application opened in this 2d Part: wherein it is considered and improved,
    • 1. Doctri­nally both in its
      • 1. General nature opened, Sermon 1.
      • 2. Special na­ture consist­ing in our
        • 1. Union with Christ, Serm. 2. including four things in it, viz.
          • 1. The Gospel offer. Serm. 3
          • 2. The Spirits drawing. Serm. 4
          • 3. Infusion of Life. Serm. 5
          • 4. Actual Faith. Serm. 6, 7
        • 2. Communion with Christ in graces and Priviledges Serm. 8
    • 2. Practi­cally in 4. Uses.
      • 1. Exhortati­on to come to Christ, Serm. 9. enforced by motives drawn from his
        • 1. Encouraging Titles which are six.
          • 1. Title. Serm. 10
          • 2. Title. Serm. 11
          • 3. Title. Serm. 12
          • 4. Title. Serm. 13
          • 5. Title. Serm. 14
          • 6. Title. Serm. 15
        • 2. Excellent privi­ledges which are four.
          • 1. Priviledge. Serm. 16
          • 2. Priviledge. Serm. 17
          • 3. Priviledge. Serm. 18
          • 4. Priviledge. Serm. 19
      • 2. Conviction proving that none can ordinarily come to Christ without
        • 1. The application of the Law. Serm. 20, 21
        • 2. The teachings of the Father. Serm. 22, 23
      • 3. Examination of our interest in Christ by four Trials, viz.
        • 1. The donation of the spirit. Serm. 24
        • 2. The new Creation. Serm. 25, 26
        • 3. The mortification of sin. Serm. 27, 28
        • 4. The imitation of Christ. Serm. 29, 30
      • 4. Lamentation representing the mise­ry of Christless persons as they lie un­der, and are exposed to
        • 1. The Death of sin. Serm. 31
        • 2. The curse of the Law. Serm. 32
        • 3. Greater guilt and damnation. Serm. 33
      • (4.) And in order thereunto they are blinded by the God of this world, which forerunner of Damnation is opened and applied in Serm. 34, 35.

The First SERMON. Serm. 1.

1 COR. 1. 30. Opening the general nature of Effectual Applicati­on.‘But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us, wisdome, and righteousness, san­ctification and redemption.’

HE that enquires what is the just value and worth of Christ, asks a question which puts all the men on earth, and Angels in heaven to an everlasting non-plus.

The highest attainment of our knowledge in this life, is to know that himself and his love do pass knowledge, Eph. 3. 91.

But how excellent soever Christ is in himself, what trea­sures of righteousness soever lye in his blood, and whatever joy, peace, and ravishing comforts spring up to men out of [Page 2] his incarnation, humiliation, and exaltation; they all give down their distinct benefits and comforts to them in the way of Ef­fectual application.

For never was any wound hea [...]ed by a prepared, but unap­plied plaister. Never any body warmed by the most costly garment made, but not put on: Never any heart refreshed and comforted by the richest Cordial compounded, but not received: nor from the [...] of the world was it ever known, that a poor deceived, condemned, polluted miserable sinner was actually delivered out of that woful state, until of God Christ was made unto him, wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

For look Parisiensis de causis, cur deus homo, cap. 9. Quemadm [...] ­dum non transit Adae damna­tio, nisi per ge­nerationem in carnaliter ex [...]o generatos: Sic non transit Christi gratia, & peccatorum remissio, nisi perregenerati­onem ad spiri­tualiter per ip­sum regenera­tos. Sicut de­ [...]ictum Ade non nocet, nisi suis, in eo quod sui sunt: Sic nec gratia Christi prodest, nisi suis, in eo quod sui sunt. as the Condemnation of the First Adam passeth not to us, except (as by generation) we are his; so grace and remission pass not from the Second Adam to us, except as (by re­generation) we are his. Adams Sin hurts none but those that are in him; and Christs blood profits none but those that are in him: how great a weight therefore doth there hang upon the effectual application of Christ to the Souls of men! and what is there in the whole world so awfully solemn, so greatly important as this is! Such is the strong consolation resulting from it, that the Apostle in this context offers it to the be­lieving Corinthians, as a superabundant recompence for the despicable meanness and baseness of their outward condition in this world, of which he had just before spoken in ver. 27, 28. telling them though the world contemned them as vile, foolish, and weak, yet of God Christ is made unto them wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

In which words we have an Enumeration of the chief privi­ledges of believers, and an Account of the method whereby they come to be invested with them.

First, Their priviledges are enumerated, namely, wis­dome, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, mercies of 1. Quatuor Christo [...]logia hic ad­scribit, quae totam ejus virtutem, & quicquid ab ipso bonorum recipimus complectuntur. Calv. in loc. inestimable value in themselves; and such as respect a four­fold [Page 3] misery lying upon sinful man [...] viz. Ignorance, guilt▪ pollution, and the whole [...] of miserable consequences and effects let in upon the nature of men, yea the best and holiest of men by sin.

Lapsed man is not only in deep misery, but grossly igno­rant both that he is so, and how to recover himself from it: Sin hath left him at once senseless of his state, and at a perfect loss about the true remedy.

To cure this, Christ is made to him Wisdome, not only by improvement of those treasures of wisdome that are in himself for the benefit of such souls as are united to him, as an head con­sulting the good of his own members; but also by imparting his wisdome to them by the Spirit of illumination, whereby they come to discern both their sin and danger; as also the true way of their recovery from both, through the applicati­on of Christ to their souls by faith.

But alas! Simple illumination doth but increase our bur­den, and exasperate our misery; as long as sin in the guilt of it is either imputed to our persons unto condemnation, or re­flected by our consciences in a way of accusation.

With design therefore to remedy and heal this sore evil, Christ is made of God unto us righteousness, compleat and per­fect righteousness, whereby our obligation to punishment is dissolved, and thereby a solid foundation for a well settled peace of conscience firmly established.

Yea, but although the removing of guilt from our persons and consciences be an inestimable mercy, yet alone it cannot make us compleatly happy: for though a man should never be damned for sin, yet what is it less than an hell upon earth to be under the dominion and pollution of every base lust? it's misery enough to be daily defiled by sin, though a man should never be damned for it.

To compleat therefore the happiness of the redeemed; Christ is not only made of God unto them Wisdome, and righteousness, the one curing our ignorance, the other our guilt; but he is made Sanctification also, to relieve us against the dominion and pollution of our corruptions: he comes both by water and by blood, not by blood only, but by water also: 1▪ Joh. 5. 6. purging as well as pardoning: how compleat and perfect a cure is Christ!

[Page 4] But yet something is required beyond all this to make our happiness perfect and entire wanting nothing; and that is the removal of those doleful effects and consequents of sin, which notwithstanding all the forementioned priviledges and mer­cies still lye upon the souls and bodies of illuminated, justi­fied and sanctified persons. For even upon the best and ho­liest of men, what swarms of vanity, loads of deadness, and fits of unbelief do daily appear in and oppress their souls! to the imbittering of all the comforts of life to them. And how many diseases, deformities, pains oppress their bodies, which daily moulders away by them, till they fall into the grave by death, even as the bodies of other men do, who never re­ceived such priviledges from Christ as they do. For if Christ be in us (as the Apostle speaks Rom. 8. 10.) the body is dead because of sin: Sanctification exempts us not from mortality.

But from all these and whatsoever else the fruits and conse­quences of sin, Christ is Redemption to his people also: this seals up the sum of mercies: this so compleats the happiness of the Saints that it leaves nothing to desire.

These four, wisdome, righteousness, sanctification and redemption take up amongst them all that is necessary or de­sirable to make a soul truly and perfectly blessed.

Secondly, we have here the method and way by which the Elect come to be invested with these excellent priviledges: 2. the account whereof the Apostle gives us in these words [Who of God is made unto us] in which expression four things are remarkable.

First, That Christ and his benefits go inseparably and un­dividedly together: 'tis Christ himself is made all this unto us: we can have no saving benefit separate and apart from the person of Christ: many would willingly receive his priviledges, who will not receive his person; but it cannot be; if we will have one, we must take the other too: yea, we must accept his person first and then his benefits: as it is in the marriage Covenant, so 'tis here.

Secondly, That Christ with his benefits must be personally and particularly applied to us before we can receive any actual saving priviledge by him: he must be [made unto us] (i. e.) par­ticularly applied to us: as a sum of money becomes or is made the ransome and liberty of a Captive when it is not only promi­sed [Page 5] but paid down in his name, and legally applied for that use and end: when Christ dyed, the ransome was prepared, the sum laid down; but yet the elect continue still in sin and misery notwithstanding, till by effectual calling it be actually applied to their persons, and then they are made free, Rom. 5. 10, 11. reconciled by Christs death by whom we have now received the attonement.

Thirdly, That this application of Christ is the work of God, and not of man: Of God he is made unto us: the same hand that prepared it, must also apply it, or else we perish not­withstanding all that the father hath done in contriving and appointing, and all that the son hath done in executing and accomplishing the design thus far. And this actual ap­plication is the work of the Spirit by a singular appro­priation.

Fourthly and Lastly, This expression imports the suitable­ness of Christ to the necessities of Sinners: What they want, he is made to them: and indeed as money answers all things, and is convertible into meat, drink, rayment, physick, or what else our bodily necessities do require; so Christ is virtu­ally and eminently all that the necessities of our souls require: bread to the hungry soul, and cloathing to the naked soul. In a word, God prepared and furnished him on purpose to an­swer all our wants, which fully hits the Apostles sense, when he saith, Who of God is made unto us wisdome and righteousness, sanctification and redemption. The sum of all is

Doct. Doct.

That the Lord Jesus Christ with all his precious benefits becomes ours by Gods special and effectual Application.

There is a twofold Application of our redemption, one Primary, the other Secondary: the former is the Act of God the Father, applying it to Christ our Surety, and virtually to us in him; the later is the Act of the holy Spirit, personally and actually applying it to us in the work of conversion: the former hath the respect and relation of an example, model, or pattern to this, and this is produced and wrought by the vertue of that. What was done upon the person of Christ, was not only virtually done upon us, considered in him as a [Page 6] common publick representative person, in which sense we are said to dye with him and live with him, to be crucified with him and buryed with him: but it was also intended for a platform or Idea of what is to be done by the Spirit actually upon our souls and bodies in our single persons. As he dyed for sin, so the Spirit applying his death to us in the work of mortification causes us to dye to sin, by the vertue of his death: and as he was quick­ned by the Spirit and raised unto life, so the Spirit applying unto us the life of Christ causeth us to live, by spiritual vivi­fication. Now this personal, secondary and actual application of redemption to us by the Spirit in his sanctifying work is that which I am engaged here to discuss and open: Which I shall do in these following Propositions.

Propos. 1.

The Application of Christ to us is not only Comprehensive of our Justification, but of all those works of the Spirit which are known Propos. 1. to us in Scripture by the names of regeneration, vocation, sanctifi­cation and conversion.

Though all these terms have some small respective diffe­rences among themselves; yet they are all included in this general, the applying, and putting on of Christ, Rom. 13. 14. Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Regeneration expresses those supernatural, divine, new qua­lities infused by the Spirit into the Soul, which are the princi­ples of all holy actions.

Vocation expresseth the terms from which, and to which the soul moves, when the Spirit works savingly upon it under the Gospel call.

Sanctification notes that holy dedication of heart and life to God: our becoming the Temples of the living God, sepa­rate from all prophane, sinful practices, to the Lords only use and service.

Conversion denotes the great change it self which the Spi­rit causeth upon the soul, turning it by a sweet irresisti­ble efficacy from the power of Sin and Satan to God in Christ.

Now all these are imported in, and done by the Application of Christ to our souls: for when once the efficacy of Christs [Page 7] death and the vertue of his resurrection come to take place upon the heart of any man, he cannot but turn from Sin to God, and become a new creature, living and acting by new principles and rules. So the Apostle observes 1 Thes. 1. 5, 6. speaking of the effect of this work of the Spirit upon that peo­ple, Our Gospel (saith he) came not to you in word only, but in pow­er; and in the Holy Ghost: there was the effectual application of Christ to them. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, ver. 6. there was their effectual call. And ye turned from dumb Idols to serve the living and true God, ver. 9. there was their conversion. So that ye were ensamples to all that be­lieve, ver. 7. there was their life of Sanctification or dedi­cation to God. So that all these are comprehended in effe­ctual application.

Propos. 2.

The Application of Christ to the souls of men is that great project Propos. 2. and design of God in this world, for the accomplishment whereof all the Ordinances and all the officers of the Gospel are appointed and continued in the world.

This the Gospel expressly declared to be its direct and great end, and the great business of all its officers, Eph. 4. 11, 12. And he gave some Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some pastors and teachers: till we all come in the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God; to a perfect man, unto the mea­sure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, (i. e.) the great aim and scope of all Christs Ordinances and officers is to bring men into Union with Christ, and so build them up to perfection in him: or to unite them to, and confirm them in Christ: and when it shall have finished this design, then shall the whole frame of Gospel Ordinances be taken down, and all its officers disbanded. The Kingdom (i. e. this present oeconomy, man­ner and form of Government) shall be delivered up, 1 Cor. 15. 24. what are Ministers, but the Bridegrooms friends, Ambas­sadors for God to beseech men to be reconciled? when there­fore all the elect are brought home in a reconciled state to Christ, when the marriage of the Lamb is come, our work and office expire together.

Propos. 3.

Such is the Importance and great concernment of the personal ap­plication of Christ to us by the Spirit, that whatsoever the father hath Propos. 3. done in the contrivement, or the Son hath done in the accomplishment of our Redemption, is all inavailable and ineffectual to our Salvation without this.

It is confessedly true, that Gods good pleasure appointing us from eternity to Salvation, is in its kind a most full and sufficient Impulsive cause of our Salvation, and every way able (for so much as it is concerned) to produce its effect. And Christs humiliation and sufferings are a most compleat and sufficient meritorious cause of our Salvation, to which no­thing can be added to make it more apt and able to procure our Salvation, than it already is: yet neither the one or other can actually save any Soul without the Spirits application of Christ to it: for where there are divers social causes or concauses necessary to produce one effect; there the effect can­not be produced until the last cause have wrought: thus it is here, The Father hath elected, and the Son hath redeemed; but until the Spirit (who is the last cause) have wrought his part also, we cannot be saved. For he comes in the Fathers and in the Sons name and authority to put the last hand to our Salvation work, by bringing all the fruits of election and redemption home to our souls in this work of effectual voca­tion: hence the Apostle 1 Pet. 1. 2. noting the order of cau­ses in their operations, for the bringing about of our Salva­tion, thus states it: Elect according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: here you find Gods election and Christs blood, the two great causes of Salvation, and yet neither of these alone, nor both together can save us; there must be added the Sanctification of the Spirit, by which Gods decree is executed; and the sprinkling (i. e. the per­sonal application of Christs blood) as well as the shedding of it, before we can have the saving benefit of either of the for­mer causes.

Propos. 4.

The application of Christ with his saving benefits, is exactly of the same extent and latitude with the Fathers election, and the Sons in­tention Propos. 4. in dying, and cannot possibly be extended to one soul farther.

Whom he did predestinate, them he also called, Rom. 8. 30. And Acts 13. 48. as many as were ordained to eternal life, believed; 2 Tim. 1. 9. who hath saved and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works; but according to his own purpose and grace which was given us in Christ Jesus before the foundation of the world.

The Father, Son and Spirit (betwixt whom was the coun­cil of peace) work out their design in a perfect harmony and consent: as there was no jarr in their council, so there can be none in the execution of it: those whom the Father before all time did chuse; they, and they only are the persons whom the Son when the fulness of time for the execution of that de­cree was come, dyed for, John 17. 6. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world; thine they were, and thou gavest them me: and ver. 19. for their sakes I sanctifie my self: (i. e.) consecrate, devote, or set my self apart for a sacrifice for them. And those for whom Christ died, are the persons to whom the Spirit effectually applys the benefits and purchases of his blood: [...] comes▪ in the name of the Father and Son; but the world cannot receive him, for it neither sees, nor knows him, Joh. 14. 17. they that are not of Christs sheep, believe not, Joh. 10. 26.

Christ hath indeed a fulness of saving power, but the dis­pensation thereof is limited by the Fathers will: therefore he tells us, Matth. 20. 23. it is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my father: in which words he no way denies his authority to give glory as well as grace; only shews that in the dispensation proper to him as mediator, he was limited by his Fathers will and counsel.

And thus also are the dispensations of grace by the Spirit in like manner limited, both by the counsel and will of the Father and Son. For as he proceeds from them, so he acts in the administration proper to him, by commission from both. [Page 10] Joh. 14. 26. The Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my name: and as he comes forth into the world by this joynt Commission, so his dispensations are limited in his Commission: for it's said John 16. 13. he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: (i. e.) he shall in all things act ac­cording to his Commission which the Father and I have gi­ven him.

The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do, Joh. 5. 19. And the Spirit can do nothing of him­self, but what he hears from the Father and Son: and it's im­possible it should be otherwise, considering not only the Uni­ty of their Nature, but also of their will and design. So that you see the applications of Christ and benefits by the Spirit are commensurable with the Fathers secret counsel, and the Sons design in dying, which are the rule, model and pattern of the Spirits working.

Propos. 5.

The Application of Christ to Souls by the regenerating work of the Spirit is that which makes the first internal difference and distinction Propos. 5. among men.

It is very true, that in respect of Gods fore-knowledge and purpose there was a distinction betwixt one man and another, before any, man had a being, one was taken, another left: and with respect to the death of Christ, there is a great difference betwixt one and another: he laid down his life for the sheep, he pray'd for them and not for the world; but all this while as to any relative change of state, or real change of temper, they are upon a level with the rest of the miserable world. The Elect themselves are by nature children of wrath even as others, Eph. 2. 3. and to the same purpose the Apostle tells. the Corinthians 1 Cor. 6. 11. (when he had given in that black bill describing the most Iewd profligate abominable wretches in the world, men whose practices did stink in the very no­strils of nature, and were able to make the more sober Hea­thens blush; after this he tells the Corinthians) And such were some of you, but ye are washed, &c. q. d. look, these were your Companions once: as they are, you lately were.

[Page 11] The work of the Spirit doth not only evidence and mani­fest that difference which Gods Election hath made between man and man, as the Apostle speaks 1 Thes. 1. 4, 5. but it also makes a twofold difference it self, namely in state and temper; whereby they visibly differ not only from other men, but also from themselves: after this work, though a man be the who, yet not the what he was. This work of the spirit makes us new creatures, namely for quality and temper: 2 Cor. 5. 17. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are past away, behold all things are become new.

Propos. 6.

The Application of Christ by the work of regeneration is that which yields unto men all the sensible sweetness and refreshing com­forts Propos. 6. that they have in Christ, and in all that he hath done, suffered, or purchased for sinners.

An unsanctified person may relish the natural sweetness of the creature, as well as he that is sanctified; he may also seem to relish and tast some sweetness in the delicious promises and discoveries of the Gospel by a misapplication of them to him­self: but this is like the joy of a beggar dreaming he is a King; but he awakes and finds himself a beggar still: but for the ra­tional, solid and genuine delights and comforts of religion, no man tasts it, till this work of the Spirit have first past upon his soul: it is an enclosed pleasure, a stranger intermeddles not with it. The white stone and the new name, (denoting the pleasant results and fruits of Justification and adoption) no man knows but he that receives it, Revel. 2. 7. there are all those things wanting in the unsanctified (though Elect) soul that should capacitate and enable it to relish the sweetness of Christ and Religion, namely, propriety, evidence, and suitableness of Spirit.

Propriety is the sweetest part of any excellency, therefore Luther was wont to say, that the sweetness of the Gospel lay mostly in pronouns, as me, my, thy, &c. who loved [me] and gave himself for me, Gal. 2. 20. Christ Jesus [my] Lord, Phil. 3. 18. so Matth. 9. 2. Son be of good che [...] [thy] sins are forgiven: take away propriety and you de [...]ower the very Go­spel of its beauty and deliciousness: and as propriety, so

[Page 12] Evidence is requisite to joy and comfort, yea, so necessary, that even interest and propriety afford no sensible sweetness without it. For as to comfort, it's all one not to appear, and not to be. If I am registred in the book of life, and know it not; what comfort can my name there afford me? besides, to capacitate a soul for the sweetness and comfort of Christ, there is also an agreeable temper of Spirit required; for how can Christ be sweet to that mans soul, whose thoughts relu­ctate, decline, or nauseate so holy and pure an object? Now, all these requisites being the proper effects and fruits of the Spirits sanctifying operations upon us, it is beyond controver­sie that the consolations of Christ cannot be tasted, until the application of Christ be first made.

Propos. 7.

The Application of Christ to the soul effectually, though it be so far wrought in the first saving work of the Spirit, as truly to entitle Propos. 7. the soul to Christ, and save it from the danger of perishing; yet is it a work gradually advancing in the believers soul, whilst it abides on this side heaven and glory.

It's true indeed, that Christ is perfectly and compleatly ap­ply'd Nullos propriè dict [...]s gradus admittit, sed unico actu si­mul ac semel existit perfe­cta, quamvis quoad manife­stationem, sen­sum, & effecta; varios habet gradus. Ames. to the soul in the first act for righteousness. Justificati­on being a relative change properly admits no degrees, but is perfected together and at once, in one only act; though as to its manifestation and sense it hath various degrees: but the application of Christ to us for wisdome and sanctification is not perfected in one single act, but rises by many and slow degrees to its just perfection.

And though we are truly said to be come to Christ when we first believe, Joh. 6. 35. yet the soul after that is still co­ming to him by farther acts of faith: 1 P [...]t. 2. 4. to whom [coming] as unto a living stone: the participle notes a continued motion, by which the soul gains ground, and still gets nearer and nearer to Christ: growing still more inwardly acquainted with him, the knowledge of Christ grows upon the soul as the morning light, from its first spring, to the perfect day: Prov. 4. 18. every grace of the Spirit grows, if not sensibly, yet really, for it is in discerning the growth of Sanctification, as it is in discerning the growth of plants; which we perceive [Page 13] rather crevisse, quam crescere: to have grown, than to grow. And as it thrives in the soul, by deeper radications of the ha­bits, and more promptitude and spirituality in the actings; so Christ and the Soul proportionably close more and more in­wardly and efficaciously, till at last it be wholly swallow'd up in Christs full and perfect enjoyment.

Propos. 8.

Lastly, Although the several priviledges and benefits foremen­tioned be all truly and really bestowed with Christ upon believers, yet Propos. 8. they are not communicated to them in one and the same way and manner; but differently and diversly, as their particular and re­spective natures do require.

These four illustrious benefits are convey'd from Christ to us in three different ways and methods: his righteousness is made ours by imputation: his wisdome and sanctification by renovation: his redemption, by our glorification.

I know the Communication of Christs righteousness to us by imputation, is not only denyed, but * scoffed at by Pa­pists; who own no righteousness, but what is (at least) con­founded Spectrum [...]cre­bri Lutherani. Stapleton. with that which is inherent in us: and for imputative (blasphemously stiled by them putative) righteousness; they flatly deny it; and look upon it as a most absurd doctrine, every where endeavouring to load it with these and such like absurdities. That if God impute Christs righteousness to the believer, and accepts what Christ hath perform­ed for him; as if he had performed it himself: then, we may be accounted as righteous as Christ. Then we may be the Redeemers of the world. False and groundless con­sequences: as if a man should say, my debt is paid by my surety, therefore I am as rich as he: when we say the righteousness of Christ is made ours by imputation, we think not it's made ours according to its universal value, but according to our particular necessity: not to make others righteous, but to make us so: not that we have the formal intrinsecal righteousness of Christin us, as it is in him; but a relative righteousness, which makes us righteous even as he is righteous, not as to the quantity but as to the truth of it: 1 Joh. 3. 7. nor is it imputed to us, as though Christ designed to make us [Page 14] the causes of Salvation to others, but the Subjects of Salvation Non formali & intrinseca ju­stitiâ, sed rela­tivâ: non quoad quanti­tatem, sed ve­ritatem: fit e­nim finita ap­plicatio infi­nitae justitiae; si aliter, equè ju­sti essemus ut Christus, at non: justitia Christi sit[?] nostra, non quoad universalem valorem, sed particularem necessitatem; & imputatur nobis, non [...]t causis salvationis, sed ut subjectis salvandis. Bradsh. de Justificat. our selves; it is inhesively in him, communicatively it becomes ours: by imputation the sin of the first Adam became ours, and the same way the righteousness of the second Adam be­comes ours: Rom. 5. 17. This way the Redeemer became sin for us, and this way we are made the righteousness of God in him, 2 Cor. 5. 21. This way Abraham the Father of be­lievers was justified, therefore this way all believers, the chil­dren of Abraham must be justified also, Rom. 4. 22, 23. And thus is Christs righteousness made ours.

But in conveying and communicating his wisdome and San­ctification he takes another method, for this is not imputed, but really imparted to us, by the illuminating, and regenerating work of the Spirit: these are graces really inherent in us: our righteousness comes from Christ as a Surety, but our holiness comes from him as a quickening head, sending vital influences into all his members.

Now these gracious habits being subjected and seated in the souls of poor imperfect creatures, whose corruptions abide and work in the very same faculties where grace hath its resi­dence, it cannot be, that our Sanctification should be so perfect and compleat, as our Justification is, which in­heres only in Christ. See Gal. 5. 17. thus are righteous­ness and sanctification communicated and made ours: but then

For Redemption, that is to say, absolute and plenary deli­verance from all the sad remains, effects and consequents of Sin, both upon soul and body: this is made ours (or to keep to the terms) Christ is made redemption to us, by glorification: then and not before are these miserable effects removed: we put off these together with the body. So that look as Justi­fication cures the guilt of Sin, and Sanctification the dominion and power of Sin: so glorification removes together with its existence and being, all those miseries which it let in (as at a floodgate) upon our whole man. Eph. 5. 26, 27.

[Page 15] And thus of God Christ is made unto us wisdome and righ­teousness, sauctification, and redemption: namely by im­putation, regeneration, and glorification.

I shall next improve the point in some useful Inferences.

Inference 1.

Learn from hence what a naked, destitute and empty thing a poor sinner is in his natural and unregenerate state. Infer. 1.

He is one that naturally and inherently hath neither wis­dome, nor righteousness, sanctification nor redemption: all Quin dicitur eum factum esse nobis sapie [...]ti­am, justitiam, sanctitatem & redemptionem, rursus & nostra dignitas & meritum exclu­duntur: ex hoc etiam consequi­tur, ante per­ceptionem ejus, nos fuisse slul­tos, injustos, profanos & di­aboli ma [...]ci­pia. Muscul. in­loc. these must come from without himself, even from Christ; who is made all this to a sinner, or else he must eternally perish.

As no creature (in respect of external abilities) comes under more natural weakness into the world than man, naked and empty, and more shiftless and helpless than any other creature; so it is with his soul, yea, much more than so: all our excellencies are borrowed excellencies, no reason there­fore to be proud of any of them: 1 Cor. 4. 7. What hast thou, that thou hast not received? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou hadst not received it? q. d. what intolera­ble insolence, and vanity would it be for a man that wears the rich and costly robe of Christ's righteousness, in which there is not one thred of his own spinning; but all made by free grace, and not by free will; to jett proudly up and down the world in it, as if himself had made it; and he were beholding to none for it? O man! thine excellencies whatever they are, are borrowed from Christ, they oblige thee to him, but he can be no more obliged to thee who wearest them, than the Sun is obliged to him that borrows its light, or the fountain to him that draws its water for his use and benefit.

And it hath ever been the care of holy men, when they have viewed their own gracious principles, or best performances; still to disclaim themselves, and own free grace as the sole author of all. Thus holy Paul viewing the principles of di­vine life in himself, (the richest gift bestowed upon man in this world by Jesus Christ,) how doth he renounce himself, and deny the least part of the praise and glory as belonging to him, Gal. 2. 20. Now I live, yet not I; but Christ liveth in me: [Page 16] and so for the best duties that ever he performed for God (and what meer man ever did more for God?) yet when in a just and necessary defence he was constrain'd to mention them, 1 Cor. 15. 10. how carefully is the like [Yet not I] pre­sently added? I laboured more abundantly than they all, yet not I; but the grace of God which was with me.

Well then, let the sense of your own emptiness by nature humble and oblige you the more to Christ from whom you receive all you have.

Inference 2.

Hence again we are informed, that none can claim benefit by impil­ted Infer. 2. righteousness, but those only that live in the power of inherent holi­ness: to whomsoever Christ is made righteousness, to him he is also made sanctification.

The Gospel hath not the least favour for licentiousness: it is every way as careful to press men to their duties, as to instruct them in their priviledges, Titus 3. 8. This is a faith­ful saying; and these things I will that thou affirm constantly; That they which have believed in God, might be careful to maintain good works: It is a loose principle, divulged by Libertines to the reproach of Christ and his Gospel, that sanctification is not the evidence of our justification: and Christ is as much wronged by them who separate holiness from righteousness (as if a sensual vile life were consistent with a justified state) as he is in the contrary extream by those who confound Christs righteousness with mans holiness, in the point of Justifica­tion: or that own no other righteousness but what is inhe­rent in themselves: the former opinion makes him a cloak for sin, the later a needless sacrifice for sin.

It's true, our Sanctification can't justifie us before God, but what then, can't it evidence our Justification before men? is there no necessity or use for holiness, because it hath no hand in our Justification? is the preparation of the soul for heaven, by altering its frame and temper, nothing? is the glorifying of our Redeemer by the exercises of grace in this world nothing? doth the work of Christ render the work of the Spirit needless? God forbid: he came not by blood only, but by water also, 1 Joh. 5. 6. And when the Apostle [Page 17] saith in Rom. 4. 5. but unto him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly; his faith is counted for righteous­ness: the scope of it is neither to characterize and describe the justified person, as one that is lazy and slothful and hath no mind to work, or rebellious and refractory, refusing obe­dience to the commands of God; but to represent him as an humbled sinner, who is convinced of his inability to work out his own righteousness by the Law, and sees all his endeavours to obey the Law fall short of righteousness, and therefore is said in a Law sense not to work, because he doth not work so as to answer the purpose and end of the Law, which accepts of nothing beneath perfect obedience.

And when (in the same Text) the ungodly are said to be Deus just [...] impium ante­cedenter, non consequenter. Pareus. justified, that character describes not the temper and frame of their hearts and lives after their justification, but what it was before, not as it leaves, but as it found them.

Infer. 3.

How unreasonable and worse than bruitish is the sin of infidelity by which the Sinner rejects Christ, and with him all those mercies Infer. 3. and benefits which alone can relieve and cure his misery!

He is by nature blind and ignorant, and yet refuses Christ, who comes to him with heavenly light and wisdome: he is condemned by the terrible sentence of the Law to eternal wrath, and yet rejects Christ who tenders to him compleat and perfect righteousness: he is wholly polluted and plunged into original and actual pollutions of nature and practice, yet will have none of Christ, who would become sanctificati­on to him: he is oppressed in soul and body with the deplora­ble effects and miseries sin hath brought upon him, and yet is so in love with his bondage that he will neither accept Christ, nor the redemption he brings with him to sinners.

Oh what monsters! what beasts hath sin turned its subjects into! you will not come unto me that you may have life, Joh. 5. 40. sin hath stabb'd the sinner to the heart, the wounds are all mortal, eternal death is in his face; Christ hath prepared the only plaister that can cure his wounds, but he will not suffer him to apply it: he acts like one in love with death, and that judges it sweet to perish. So Christ tells us, Prov. [Page 18] 8. 36. all they that hate me love death: Not in it self, but in Non quod quis­que ita insa [...]i­at, ut sciens & volens dili­gat mortem; quam omnes natura ex­horrescimus: sed quia ista est fructus spretae sapientiae Dei, ut mortem tan­dem afferat. Lavat. in loc. its causes; with which it is inseparably connected: they are loth to burn, yet willing to sin; though sin kindle those everlasting flames. So that in two things the unbeliever shews himself worse than bruitish, he can't think of damna­tion the effect of sin, without horror, and yet cannot think of sin the cause of damnation, without pleasure: he is loth to perish to all eternity without remedy, and yet refuses and declines Christ as if he were an enemy, who only can and would deliver him from that eternal perdition.

How do men act therefore as if they were in love with their own ruin? many poor wretches now in the way to Hell, what an hard shift do they make to cast themselves away! Christ meets them many times in the Ordinances; where they studiously shun him: many times checks them in their way by convictions, which they make an hard shift to overcome, and conquer: oh how willing are they to accept a cure, a benefit, aremedy for any thing but their Souls! You see then that Sinners cannot, (should they study all their days to do themselves a mischief) take a readier course to undo themselves, than by rejecting Christ in his gracious offers.

Surely the sin of Sodom and Gomorrha is less than this sin, mercy it self is exasperated by it, and the damnation of such as reject Christ (so prepared for them, with whatever they need, and so seriously and frequently offer'd to them upon the Knee of Gospel intreaty) is just, inevitable, and more intole­rable than any in the world beside them. It is just, for the sinner hath but his own option, or choice: he is but come to the end which he was often told his way would bring him to. It is inevitable, for there is no other way to Salvation but that which is rejected: and it will be more intolerable than the Damnation of others, because neither Heathens nor Devils ever aggravated their sins by such an horrid! circum­stance, as the wilful refusing of such an apt, offered, and only remedy.

Infer. 4.

What a tremendous Symptome of wrath, and sad Character of Death appears upon that mans Soul to which no effectual applica­tion Infer. 4. of Christ can be made by the Gospel!

Christ with his benefits is frequently tendered to them in the Gospel, they have been beseeched once and again upon the Knee of importunity to accept him, those entreaties and perswasions have been urged by the greatest arguments, The Command of God, the love of Christ, the inconceiveable hap­piness or misery which unavoidably follows the accepting or rejecting of those offers, and yet nothing will stick: all their pleas for infidelity have been over and over confuted, their reasons and consciences have stood convinced, they have been Speechless as well as Christless: not one sound ar­gument is found with them to defend their infidelity: they confess in general, that such courses as theirs is, lead to destruction: they will yield them to be happy souls that are in Christ: and yet when it comes to the point, their own closing with him; nothing will stick; all arguments, all entreaties return to us without success.

Lord! what is the reason of this unaccountable obstinacy! in other things it is not so: if they be sick they are so far from rejecting a physician that offers himself, that they will send and pray, and pay him too: if they be arrested for debt, and any one will be a surety and, pay their debts for them; words can hardly express the sense they have of such a kindness: but though Christ would be both physician and surety, and what ever else their needs require, they will rather perish to eternity than accept him: what may we fear to be the reason of this, but because they are not of Christs sheep, Joh. 10. 26. the Lord open the eyes of poor sinners to apprehend not only▪ how great a sin, but how dreadful a sign this is.

Infer. 5.

If Christ with all his benefits be made ours by Gods special ap­plication; Infer. 5. what a day of mercies then is the day of conversion! What multitudes of choice blessings visit the converted soul in that day!

[Page 20] This day (saith Christ to Zacheus Luke 19. 9.) is Salva­tion come to this house: in this day Christ cometh into the soul, and he comes not empty; but brings with him all his treasures of wisdom and righteousness, sanctification and re­demption. Troops of mercies, yea of the best of mercies come with him. It is a day of singular gladness and joy to the heart of Christ when he is Espoused to, and received by the believing soul: it is as a Coronation day to a King. So you read Cant. 3. 11. Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the Crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his Espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

Where under the Type of Solomon in his greatest magni­ficence and glory, when the royal Diadem was set upon his head, and the people shouted for joy, so that the earth did ring again; is shadowed out the joy of Christs heart, when poor souls by their high estimation of him, and consent to his government, do as it were Crown him with glory and honour, and make his heart glad.

Now if the day of our Espousals to Christ be the day of the gladness of his heart, and he reckons himself thus honour­ed, and glorified by us; what a day of joy and gladness should it be to our hearts, and how should we be transport­ed with joy to see a King from heaven with all his treasures of grace and glory bestowing himself freely and everlastingly upon us, as our portion! No wonder Zacheus came down joyfully Luke 19. 6. That the Eunuch went home rejoicing, Act. 8. 39. That the Jaylor rejoyced, believing in God with all his houshold, Act. 16. 34. That they that were converted did eat their meat with gladness, praising God, Act. 2. 41. 46. That there was great joy among them of Samaria when Christ came among them in the preaching of the Gospel, Acts 8. 5. 8. I say it's no wonder, we read of such Joy accompa­nying Christ into the soul, when we consider that in one day so many blessings meet together in it, the least of which is not to be exchanged for all the Kingdoms of this world, and the glory of them. Eternity it self will but suffice to bless God for the mercies of this one day.

Infer. 6.

If Christ be made all this to every Soul unto whom he is effectu­ally applyed, what cause then have those souls that are under the Infer. 6. preparatory work of the spirit, and are come nigh to Christ and all his benefits; to stretch out their hands with vehement desire to Christ, and give him the most importunate invitation into their Souls!

The whole world is distinguishable into three classes or sorts of persons, such as are far from Christ, such as are not far from Christ, and such as are in Christ: they that are in Christ have heartily received him: such as are far from Christ will not open to him; their hearts are fast barred by ignorance, prejudice and unbelief against him; but those that arecome under the preparatory workings of the spirit nigh to Christ, who see their own indispensable necessity of him, and his suita­bleness to their necessities, in whom also encouraging hopes begin to dawn, and their souls are waiting at the foot of God for power to receive him, for an heart to close sin­cerely and universally with him; oh what vehement de­sires! what strong pleas! what moving arguments should such persons urge and plead to win Christ, and get posses­sion of him! they are in sight of their only remedy: Christ and Salvation are come to their very doors: there wants but a few things to make them blessed for ever: this is the day in which their souls are exercised greatly betwixt hopes and fears: now they are much alone, and deep in thought­fulness, they weep andmake supplication for an heart to be­lieve, and that against the great discouragements with which they encounter.

Reader, if this be the case of thy soul; it will not be the least piece of service I can do for thee, to suggest such pleas as in this case are proper to be urged for the attainment of thy desires, and the closing of the match be­twixt Christ and thee.

First, Plead the absolute necessity which now drives thee to Christ: tell him thy hope is utterly perished in all other refuges: thou art come like a starving beggar to the last door of hope: tell him thou now beginnest to see the abso­lute necessity of Christ: thy body hath not so much need [Page 22] of bread, water, or air, as thy soul hath of Christ, and that wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption that are in him.

Secondly, Plead the Fathers gracious design in furnishing and sending him into the world, and his own design in ac­cepting the Fathers call. Lord Jesus, wast thou not anoint­ed to preach good tydings to the meek, to bind up the broken heart­ed, to proclaim liberty to the Captives, and the opening of the Isai. 16. 1, 2. prison to them that are bound? behold an Object suitable to thine Office: whilest I was ignorant of my condition, I had a proud rebellious heart, but conviction and self-acquaintance have now meekned it: my heart was harder than the nether mil­stone, and it was as easie to dissolve the obdurate rocks into syrrup, as to thaw and melt my heart for sin; but now God hath made my heart soft, I sensibly feel the misery of my condition. I once thought my self at perfect liberty, but now I see what I conceited to be perfect liberty, is per­fect bondage; and never did a poor prisoner sigh for de­liverance more than I. Since then thou hast given me a soul thus qualified (though still unworthy) for the exer­cise of thine office, and execution of thy commission: Lord Jesus, be according to thy name a Jesus unto me.

Thirdly, Plead the unlimited and general invitations made to such souls as you are, to come to Christ freely. Lord, thou hast made open Proclamation; Ho every one that thirst­eth come ye to the waters, Isai. 55. 1. and Revel. 22. 17. him that is athirst come: in obedience to thy call Lo I come, had I not been invited, my coming to thee (dear Lord Jesus) had been an act of presumption, but this makes it an act of duty and obedience.

Fourthly, Plead the unprofitableness of thy blood to God. Lord there is no profit in my blood, it will turn to no more advantage to thee to destroy than it will to save me: if thou send me to hell (as the merit of my sin calls upon thy Justice to do) I shall be there dishonouring thee to all eternity, and the debt I owe thee never pay'd: but if thou apply thy Christ to me for righteousness; satisfaction for all that I have done will be laid down in one full round sum: indeed if the honour of thy Justice lay as a bar to my pardon, it would stop my mouth; but when thy Justice as well as [Page 23] mercy shall both rejoyce together, and be glorified and pleased in the same act, what hinders but that Christ be apply'd to my soul: since in so doing God can be no loser by it?

Fifthly, Lastly, Plead thy complyance with the terms of the Gospel: tell him Lord, my will complys fully and heartily to all thy gracious terms. I can now subscribe a blank: let God offer his Christ on what terms he will, my heart is ready to comply. I have no exception against any Article of the Gospel: and now Lord I whol­ly refer my self to thy pleasure: do with me what seem­eth good in thine eyes: only give me an interest in Jesus Christ: as to all other concerns I lye at thy feet in full resignation of all to thy pleasure. Never yet did any perish in that posture and frame: and I hope I shall not be made the first instance and example.

Inference 7. Infer. 7.

Lastly, If Christ with all his benefits, be made ours by special application; how contented, thankful, comfortable and hopeful should believers be in every condition which God casts them into in this world!

After such a mercy as this, let them never open their mouths any more to repine and grudge at the outward in­conveniencies of their condition in this world: what are the things you want, compared with the things you en­joy? what is a little money, health or liberty, to wis­dom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption? all the Crowns and Scepters in the world sold to their full value, are no price for the least of these mercies: but I will not insist here, your duty lyes much higher than content­ment.

Be thankful as well as content in every state: blessed be God (saith the Apostle) the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all [spiritual blessings] in heavenly places in Christ: O think what are men to Angels; that Christ should pass by them to become a Saviour to men! and what art thou among men, that thou shouldst be taken, and others left! and among all the mercies of God, what [Page 24] mercies are comparable to these confer'd upon thee? O bless God in the lowest ebb of outward comforts, for such priviledges as these.

And yet you will not come up to your Duty in all this, except you be joyful in the Lord, and rejoyce evermore after the receipt of such mercies as these: Philip. 4. 4. Re­joyce in the Lord ye righteous, and again I say rejoyce: for hath not the poor Captive reason to rejoyce, when he hath recovered his liberty: the Debtor to rejoyce, when all scores are cleared and he owes nothing: the weary traveller to rejoyce, though he be not owner of a shilling, when he is come almost home where all his wants shall be supplied? Why this is your case, when Christ once becomes yours: you are the Lords freemen: your debts to Justice are all satisfied by Christ: and you are within a little of compleat re­demption from all the troubles and inconveniencies of your present state.

Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.

The Second SERMON. Serm. 2.

JOHN 17. 23. Wherein the belie­vers Union with Christ is stated, and opened as a princi­pal part of Gospel Ap­plication.‘I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.’

THE design and end of the Application of Christ to Sinners, is the Communication of his benefits to them: but seeing all Communications of benefits necessarily imply Communion, and all Communion as necessarily presupposes Union with his person: I shall there­fore in this place, and from this Scripture treat of the Mysti­cal Union betwixt Christ and believers: this Union being the principal act wherein the Spirits application of Christ consists; of which I spake (as to its general nature) in the former Sermon.

In this Verse (omitting the Contexture) we find a three­fold Union. One betwixt the Father and Christ, a second betwixt Christ and believers: a third betwixt believers themselves.

First, Thou in me: this is a glorious ineffable Union, and is fundamental to the other two: the Father is not only in Christ, in respect of dear affection, as one friend is in ano­ther who is as his own soul: nor only essentially, in respect of [Page 26] the identity and sameness of nature and attributes; in which respect Christ is the express Image of his person, Heb. 1. 3. but he is in Christ also as Mediator, by communicating the fulness of the godhead which dwells in him as God-man, in a transcen­dant and singular manner; so as it never dwelt, nor can dwell in any other, Col. 2. 9.

Secondly, I in them, here is the Mystical Union betwixt Christ and the Saints: q. d. thou and I are one essentially, they and I are one mystically: thou and I are one by the communi­cation of the Godhead, and singular fulness of the Spirit to me as Mediator; and they and I are one, by my communica­tion of the Spirit to them in measure.

Thirdly, From hence results a third Union betwixt belie­vers themselves: that they may be made perfect in one: the same Spirit dwelling in them all, and equally uniting them all to me, as living members to their head of influence, there must needs be a dear and intimate Union betwixt themselves as fel­low members of the same body.

Now, my business at this time lying in the second branch, namely the Union betwixt Christ and believers, I shall gather up the substance of it into this Doctrinal proposition, to which I shall apply this discourse.

Doct.

That there is a strict and dear Union betwixt Christ and all true believers.

The Scriptures have borrowed from the book of Nature four elegant and lively Metaphors to help the Nature of this Mystical Union with Christ into our understandings; Name­ly, that of two pieces of timber, united by glew: that of a graff taking hold of its stock; and making one tree: that of the husband and wife, by the marriage Covenant beco­ming one flesh: and that of the members and head animated by one soul, and so becoming one Natural body. Every one of these is more lively and full than the other, and what is defective [...]in one, is supplied in the other; but yet, neither any of these singly, or all of them jointly, can give us a full and compleat account of this Mystery.

[Page 27] Not that of two pieces united by glew, 1 Cor. 6. 17. he that 1 Cor. 6. 17. is joyned to the Lord is one Spirit: [...], glewed to the Lord. For though this cementeth, and strongly joyns them in one; yet this is but a faint and imperfect shadow of our Union with Christ: for though this Union by glew be intimate, yet it is not vital; but so is that of the soul with Christ.

Nor that of the graff and stock mentioned Rom. 6. 5. for Rom. 6. 5. thought it be there said that believers are [...], implanted, or ingraffed by way of incision, and this Union betwixt it and the stock be vital; for it partakes of the vital sap and juice of it; yet here also is a remarkable defect, for the graff is of a more excellent kind and nature than the stock, and up­on that account the tree receives its denomination from it, as from the more noble and excellent part; but Christ into whom believers are ingraffed, is infinitely more excellent than they, and they are denominated from him.

Nor yet that Conjugal Union by marriage Covenant betwixt Eph. 6. 32. a man and his wife; for though this be exceeding dear and intimate, so that a man leaves father and mother, and cleaves to his wife, and they two become one flesh: yet this Union is not indissolvable, but may and must be broken by death; and then the relict lives alone without any Communi­on with, or relation to the person that was once so dear: but this betwixt Christ and the soul can never be dissolved by death, it abides to eternity.

Nor Lastly, That of the head and members united by one Eph. 4. 15, 16. vital Spirit and so making one Physical body, mentioned Eph. 4. 15, 16. for though one soul actuates every member, yet it doth not knit every member alike near to the head, but some are nearer, and others removed farther from it; but here every member is alike nearly united with Christ the head, the weak are as near to him as the strong.

Two things are necessary to be opened in the doctrinal part of this point.

1. The realityof this Union.
2. The quality

First, For the reality of it, I shall make it appear that there is such a Union betwixt Christ and believers: it is no Ens ra­tionis, 1. [Page 28] empty notion, or cunningly devised fable; but a most certain demonstrable truth, which appears,

First, From the Communion which is betwixt Christ and be­lievers: in this the Apostle is express, 1 Joh. 1. 3. truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his son Jesus Christ: [...]. It signifies such fellowship or Copartnership as persons have by a joynt interest in one and the same enjoyment, which is in common betwixt them. So Heb. 3. 14. we are [...], Ipse venit in sortem nostrae mortalita­tis, ut in for­tem nos addu­ceret suae im­mortalitatis: clarum autem est, hic agi de consortibus un­ctionis; quales sunt omnes fide­les qui unctio­nis participes fiunt. Rivet. partakers of Christ, and Psal. 45. 7. [...] here the Saints are called the companions, consorts, or fellows of Christ: and that not only in respect of his assumption of our mortality, and in­vesting us with his immortality; but it hath a special reference and respect to the Unction of the Holy Ghost, or graces of the Spirit of which believers are partakers with him and through him. Now this Communion of the Saints with Christ is entirely and necessarily dependant upon their Union with him, even as much as the branches participation of the sap and juice, depends upon its Union and coalition with the stock: take away Union, and there can be no communion, or commu­nications, which is clear from 1 Cor. 3. 22, 23. All is yours, and ye are Christs, and Christ is Gods: where you see how all our participation of Christs benefits, is built upon our Union with Christs person.

Secondly, The reality of the believers Union with Christ is evident from the Imputation of Christs righteousness to him for his Justification. That a believer is justified before God by a righteousness without himself is undeniable from Rom. 3. 24. being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: and that Christs righteousness becomes ours by Imputation, is as clear from Rom. 4. 23, 24. but it can ne­ver be imputed to us, except we be united to him, and be­come one with him: which is also plainly asserted in 1 Con. 1. 30. But of him are ye (in Christ Jesus) who of God is made unto us wisdome, and righteousness, sanctification and redemption: he communicates his merits unto none but those that are in him: hence all those vain cavils of the Papists disputing against our Justification by the righteousness of Christ, and asserting it to be by inherent righteousness, are solidly answered.

[Page 29] When they demand, how can we be justified by the righ­teousness of another? can I be rich with another mans mo­ney, or preferr'd by anothers honours? Our answer is, Yes, if that other be my surety or husband: indeed Peter cannot be justified by the righteousness of Paul: but both may be justified by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them; they being members joyntly knit to one common head: prin­cipal and surety are one in obligation, and construction of Law: head and members are one body, branch and stock are one tree, and it's no strange thing to see a graff live by the sap of another stock, when once it is ingraffed into it.

Thirdly, The Sympathy that is betwixt Christ and believers proves a Union betwixt them: Christ and the Saints smile and sigh together. St. Paul in Colos. 1. 2, 4. tells us that he did fill up that which is behind, [...]—the remain­ders of the sufferings of Christ in his Flesh: not as if Christs suf­ferings were imperfect, (for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified, Heb. 10. 14.) but in these two Scriptures Christ is consider'd in a twofold capacity: he suffered once in Corpore proprio, in his own person as mediator; these sufferings are compleat and full, and in that sense he suffers no more: he suffers also in Corpore m [...]tico, in his Church and members, thus he still suffers in the sufferings of every Saint for his sake: and though these sufferings in his Mystical body, are not equal to the other, either pondere & mensura, in their weight and value, nor yet designed ex officio, for the same use and purpose, to satisfie by their proper merit offend­ed Justice; nevertheless they are truly reckoned the sufferings of Christ, because the head suffers when the members do: and without this supposition, that place, Acts 9. 5. is never to be understood, when Christ the head in Heaven crys out, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? when the toe was trod upon on earth: how doth Christ sensibly feel our sufferings or we his, if there be not a Mystical Union betwixt him and us?

Fourthly and Lastly, The way and manner in which the Saints shall be raised at the last day, proves this Mystical Union betwixt Christ and them: for they are not to be raised as others, by the naked power of God without them, but by [Page 30] the vertue of Christs resurrection as their head, sending forth vital quickening influences into their dead bodies, which are united to him as well as their souls. For so we find it, Rom. 8. 11. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you: he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you: even as it is in our awakening out of natural sleep, first the animal spirits in the head begin to rouze and play there, and then the senses and members are loosed throughout the whole body.

Now it's impossible the Saints should be raised in the last re­surrection, by the Spirit of Christ dwelling in them; if that Spirit did not knit and unite them to him, as members to their head. So then, by all this it is proved that there is a real Union of the Saints with Christ.

Next I shall endeavour to open the quality and nature of this Union: and shew you what it is, according to the weak 2. apprehensions we have of so sublime a Mystery: and this I shall do in a

Generalaccount of it.
and
Particular

First, More generally, it is an intimate conjunction of be­lievers to Christ by the imparting of his Spirit to them, where­by 1. they are enabled to believe and live in him.

All divine Spiritual life is originally in the Father, and co­meth not to us but by, and through the son; Joh. 5. 26. to him hath the Father given to have an [...]—a quicken­ing, enlivening power in himself: but the Son communicates this life which is in him to none but by and through the Spi­rit, Rom. 8. 2. the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus, hath made me free from the Law of sin and death.

The Spirit must therefore first take hold of us, before we can live in Christ; and when he doth so, then we are enabled to exert that vital act of faith, whereby we receive Christ: all this lyes plain in that one Scripture, Joh. 6. 57. As the li­ving Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that cateth me (that is by faith applys me) even he shall live by me. [Page 31] So that these two, namely the Spirit on Christs part, and Faith his work, on our part, are the two ligaments by which we are knit to Christ.

So that the Spirits work in uniting or engrassing a soul into Christ is like the cutting off the graff from its native stock (which he doth by his illuminations and convictions) and clo­sing it with the living stock when it is thus prepared, and so en­abling it (by the infusion of faith) to suck and draw the vital sap, and thus it becomes one with it. Or as the many mem­bers in the natural body, being all quickened and animated by the same vital Spirit, become one body with the head which is the principal member: Eph. 4. 4. there is one body, and one Spirit.

More particularly, we shall consider the properties of this 2. Union, that so we may the better understand the nature of it. And here I shall open the nature of it both negatively, and affirmatively.

First, Negatively, by removing all false notions and mis­apprehensions 1. Negatively. of it. And we say,

First, The Saints Union with Christ is not a meer mental 1. Union, only in conceit and notion, but really exists extra men­tem, whether we conceit it or not. I know the atheistical world censures all these things as fancies, and idle imaginati­ons; but believers know the reality of them. Joh. 14. 20. At that day you shall know that I am in my father, and you in me, and I in you. This doctrine is not phantastical, but scien­tifical.

Secondly, The Saints Union with Christ is not a Physical Union, such as is betwixt the members of a natural body and 2. the head: our Nature indeed is assumed into Union with the person of Christ, but it is the singular honour of that blessed and holy flesh of Christ, to be so united, as to make one per­son with him: that Union is hypostatical, this only My­stical.

Thirdly, Nor is it an Essential Union, or Union with the divine nature, so as our beings are thereby swallowed up and 3. lost in the divine being.

Some there be indeed that talk at that wild rate, of being Godded into God, and Christed into Christ: and those un­wary expressions of Greg. Naz. [...], and [...], do [Page 32] but too much countenance those daring Spirits: but oh there is an infinite distance betwixt us and Christ in respect of na­ture and excellency notwithstanding this Union.

Fourthly, The Union I here speak of, is not a foederal Uni­on; or an Union by Covenant only: such a Union indeed 4. there is betwixt Christ and believers, but that is consequenti­al to and wholly dependent upon this.

Fifthly, and Lastly, It is not a meer Moral Union by love and affection: thus we say, one soul is in two bodies, a friend 5. is another self: the lover is in the person beloved: such a Union of hearts and affections there is also betwixt Christ and the Saints, but this is of another nature: that we call a Mo­ral, this a Mystical Union: that only knits our affections, but this knits our persons to Christ.

Secondly, Positively, and First, though this Union neither 2. Positively. makes us one person, or essence with Christ, yet it knits our persons most intimately and nearly to the person of Christ: 1. the Church is Christs body, Coloss. 1. 24. not his Natural, but his Mystical body: that is to say, his body in a Mystery: because it is to him as his natural body: the Saints stand to Christ in the same relation that the natural members of the body stand to the head, and he stands in the same relation to them, that the head stands in to the natural mem­bers: and consequently they stand related to one ano­ther, as the members of a natural body do to each o­ther.

Christ and the Saints are not one as the Oak and the Ivy that clasps it are one; but as the graff and stock are one: it is not a Union by adhesion, but incorporation. Husband and Wife are not so near, soul and body are not so near as Christ and the believing soul are near to each other.

Secondly, The Mystical Union is wholly supernatural: wrought by the alone power of God. So it's said 1 Cor. 1. 30. 2. but of him are ye in Christ Jesus: we can no more unite our selves to Christ, than a branch can incorporate it self into another stock: it is of him (i. e.) of God, his proper and alone work.

There are only two ligaments or bands of Union betwixt Christ and the Soul, viz. the Spirit on his part, and Faith on ours: but when we say faith is the band of Union on our [Page 33] part, the meaning is not, that it's so our own act, as that it springs naturally from us, or is educed from the power of our own wills; no, for the Apostle expressly contradicts it, Eph. 2. 8. it is not of your selves, it is the gift of God: but we are the subjects of it, and though the act on that account be ours, yet the power enabling us to believe is God's. Eph. 1. 19, 20.

Thirdly, the Mystical Union is an immediate Union: Im­mediate I say, not as excluding means and instruments, for 3. several means and many instruments are employ'd for the ef­fecting of it: but immediate as excluding degrees of near­ness among the members of Christs mystical body.

Every member in the Natural body stands not as near to the head as another: but so do all the mystical members of Christs body to him; every member, the smallest, as well as the greatest hath an immediate coalition with Christ. 1 Cor. 1. 2. To the Church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus; called to be Saints: with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs, and ours.

Among the factious in this Church at Corinth, those that said I am of Christ; as arrogating Christ to themselves; were as much a faction, as those that said I am of Paul, 1 Cor. 1. 30. to cure this he tells them, he is both theirs and ours. Such inclosures are against law.

Fourthly, The Saints Mystical Union with Christ is a 4. fundamental Union: it's fundamental by way of Sustentation: all our fruits of obedience depend upon it. John 15. 4. As the branch cannot bear fruit except it abide in the Vine, no more can ye [...] except ye abide in me. It's fundamental to all our priviledges and comfortable claims, 1 Cor. 3. ult. all is yours for ye are Christs. And it is fundamental to all our hopes, and expectations of glory; for it is Christ in you the hope of glory, Col. 1. 27. So then destroy this Union, and with it you destroy all our fruits, priviledges and eternal hopes at one stroke.

Fifthly, The Mystical Union is a most Efficacious Union, for through this Union the divine power flows into our 5. souls; both to quicken us with the life of Christ, and to con­serve and secure that life in us after it is so infused.

[Page 34] Without the Unition of the soul to Christ, which is to be conceived efficiently as the Spirits act, there can be no Uni­on formally considered; and without these, no communicati­ons of life from Christ to us. Eph. 4. 16. And when there is that [...] or effectual working of the spirit of life in every part, which he there speaks of, (as who should say, the first bublings up of the new life, a spiritual vitality diffu­sed through the soul which ere while was dead in sin) yet still this Union with Christ is as necessary to the maintaining, as before it was to the producing of it.

For why is it that this life is not again extinguished and wholly suffocated in us by so many deadly wounds as are given it by temptations and corruptions? surely no reason can be assigned more satisfying than that which Christ him­self gives us in John 14. 19. because I live, ye shall live also. q. d. whilst there is vital sap in me the root, you that are branches in me, cannot wither and dye.

Sixthly, The Mystical Union is an indissoluble Union: there is an everlasting tye betwixt Christ and the believer: and herein also it is beyond all other Unions in the world: death dissolves the dear Union betwixt the husband and wife, friend and friend, yea betwixt soul and body; but not betwixt Christ and the soul: the bands of this Union rot not in the grave: what shall separate us from the love of Christ? saith the Apostle Rom. 8. 35, 38, 39. he bids defiance to all enemies, and triumphs in the firmness of this Union over all hazards that seem to threaten it. It is with Christ and us in respect of the Mystical Union, as it was with Christ himself in respect of the hypostatical Union: that was not dissolved by his death when the Natural Union betwixt his soul and body was; nor can this mystical Union of our souls and bodies with Christ be dissolved when the Unions betwixt us and our dearest relations, yea betwixt the soul and body are dissolved by death. God▪ calls himself the God of Abraham, long after his body was turned into dust.

Seventhly, It is an honourable Union, Apex, cap [...]t, & vertex [...]obi­litatis est Chri­stus, sine quo nibil est i [...] toto ho [...] sublunari orbe terraru [...] nobile, cujus solium est coelum, & cujus scabellu [...] est terra; terra [...]nquam, in qua h [...]rum omnis cognatio & nobilitas sita-est & collo­cata, divinis illius pedibus substernitur. Laurent. Hum [...]redus de no [...]ilitate lib. 2. p. 176. yea the highest ho­nour 7. that can be done unto men: the greatest honour that [Page 35] was ever done to our common nature, was by its assum­ption into Unity with the second person hypostatically, and the highest honour that was ever done to our single per­sons was their Union with Christ mystically. To be a servant of Christ is a dignity transcendent to the highest advance­ment among men; but to be a member of Christ, how matchless and singular is the glory thereof! and yet such ho­nour have all the Saints, Eph. 5. 30. we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

Eighthly, It is a most Comfortable Union: yea, the ground 8. of all solid comfort both in life and death: whatever trou­bles, wants, or distresses befal such, in this is abundant re­lief and support. Christ is mine, and I am his; what may not a soul make out of that! If I am Christs, then let him take care for me, and indeed in so doing, he doth but care for his own: he is my head, and to him it belongs to con­sult the safety and welfare of his own members: Eph. 1. 22, 23. he is not only an head to his own by way of Influ­ence, but to all things else by way of dominion, for their good: how comfortably may we repose our selves under that cheering consideration upon him at all times, and in all difficult cases!

Ninthly, It is a fruitful Union: the immediate end of it is 9. fruit: Rom. 7. 4. we are married to Christ, that we should bring forth fruit to God: all the fruit we bear before our ingraf­ture into Christ, is worse than none: till the person be in Christ, the work cannot be Evangelically good, and accepta­ble to God: we are made accepted in the beloved, Eph. 1. 6. Christ is a fruitful root, and makes all the branches that live in him so too, Joh. 15. 8.

Tenthly and Lastly, It is an enriching Union: for by our 10. Union with his person we are immediately interessed in all his riches, 1 Cor. 1. 30. how rich and great a person do the little arms of Faith clasp and embrace! All is yours, 1 Cor. 3. 22. all that Christ hath, becomes ours, either by commu­nication to us, or improvement for us: his Father, Joh. 20. 17. his promises, 2 Cor. 1. 20. his providences, Rom. 8. 28. his glory, Joh. 17. 24. it's all ours by vertue of our Union with him.

Thus you see briefly what the Mystical Union is. Next we shall improve it.

Inference 1.

If there be such a Union betwixt Christ and believers, oh then what transcendent dignity hath God put upon believers! Infer. 1. Si vis vir vir­tutis appellari, indue te Chri­stum, qui est Dei virtus & sapi­entia; & in omnibus ad­jung [...] te domi­no, ita ut [...] c [...] [...]o spiritus fias, & tunc vir virtutis essicieris. Orig. Hom. in Numb. 31.

Well might Constantine perfer the honour of being a mem­ber of the Church before that of being head of the Empire: for it is not only above all earthly dignities and honours; but in some respect above that honour which God hath put upon the Angels of glory.

Great is the dignity of the Angelical nature, they are the highest and most honourable species of creatures: they also have the honour continually to behold the face of God in Hea­ven, and yet in this one respect the Saints are preferr'd to them, they have a Mystical Union with Christ as their head of influence, by whom they are quickned with spiritual life, which the Angels have not.

It is true, there is an [...] or gathering together of all in heaven and earth under Christ as a common head: Eph. 1. 10. he is the head of Angels, as well as Saints; but in different respects: to Angels he is an head of dominion and govern­ment, but to Saints he is both an head of dominion and vital influence too: they are his chief and most honourable subjects, but not his Mystical members: they are as the Barons and Nobels in his Kingdome, but the Saints as the dear Spouse and wife of his bosome: this dignifies the believer above the greatest Angel. And as the Nobles of the Kingdome think it a preferment and honour to serve the Queen, so the glorious Angels think it no degradation or dishonour to them to serve the Saints: for to this honourable office they are appointed, Heb. 1. 14. to be ministring or serviceable spirits for the good of them that shall be heirs of salvation: the chiefest servant disdains not to honour and serve the heir.

Some imperious Grandees would frown, should some of these persons but presume to approach their presence, but God sets them before his face with delight, and Angels delight to serve them.

Infer. 2.

If there be such a strict and inseparable Union betwixt Christ Infer. 2. and believers, then the graces of believers can never totally fail: immortality is the priviledge of grace, because sanctified persons are inseparably united to Christ the fountain of life: your life is bid with Christ in God, Coloss. 3. 3. Whilst the sap of life is in the root, the branches live by it: thus it is betwixt Christ and believers, Joh. 14. 19. because I live, ye shall live also: see how Christ binds up their life in one bundle with his own, plainly inti­mating it is as impossible for them to dye, as it is for himself, he cannot live without them.

True it is, the spiritual life of believers is encountred by many strong and fierce oppositions: it is also brought to a low ebb in some, but we are always to remember there are some things which pertain to the essence of that life, in which the very being of it lyes, and some things that pertain only to its well-being: all those things which belong to the well-being of the new creature, as manifestations, joys, spiritual com­forts, &c. may for a time fail, yea and grace it self may suffer great losses and remissions in its degrees notwithstanding our Union with Christ; but still the essence of it is immortal, which is no small relief to gracious souls: when the means of grace fail, as is threatned Amos 8. 11. whem temporary formal professors drop away from Christ like withered leaves from the trees in a windy day, 2 Tim. 2. 18. and when the natural Union of their souls and bodies are suffering a dissolution from each other by death, when that Sil­ver cord is loosed, this Golden chain holds firm: 1 Cor. 3. 23.

Infer. 3.

Is the Union so intimate betwixt Christ and believers? how great Infer. 3. and powerful a motive then is this, to make us open-handed and liberal in relieving the necessities and wants of every gracious per­son! for in relieving them we relieve Christ himself.

[Page 38] Christ personal is not the object of our pity and charity, Qui respectu fratris in[?] Eccle­sia non move­tur, vel Christi contemplatione moveatur; & qui non cogitat in labore & egestate conser­vum, vel domi­num cogitet in ipso illo quem despicit, consti­tutum. Cypri­an. de opere & eleemosy­nis. he is at the fountain head of all the riches in glory; Eph. 4. v. 10. but Christ mystical is exposed to necessities and wants, he feels hunger and thirst, cold and pains in his body the Church: and he is refreshed, relieved and comforted in their refreshments and comforts: Christ the Lord of heaven and earth in this consideration is sometimes in need of a penny; he tells us his wants and poverty, and how he is relieved, Mat. 25. 35, 40. A Text believed and understood by very few, I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink. I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Then shall the righteous answer, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, &c. And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, in as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me.

It was the saying of a great Divine, that he thought scarce any man on earth did fully understand and believe this truth, and he conceives so much hinted in the very Text where the righteous themselves reply, Lord when saw we thee sick, &c. intimating in the question, that they did not throughly un­derstand the nearness, yea, oneness of those persons with Christ, for whom they did these things. And indeed, it is incredible that a Christian can be hard hearted, and close handed, to that necessitous Christian, in refreshing and relie­ving of whom he verily believes that he ministers refresh­ment to Christ himself.

O think again and again upon this Scripture, consider what forcible and mighty Arguments are here laid together to en­gage relief to the wants of Christians.

Here you see their near relation to Christ: they are Mysti­cally one person: what you did to them, you did to me. Here you see also how kindly Christ takes it at our hands: acknowledging all those kindnesses that were bestowed upon him, even to a bit of bread: he is you see content to take it as a courtesy, who might demand it by authority, and bereave you of all immediately upon refusal.

Yea, here you see this one single branch or act of obedi­ence, (our charity to the Saints) is singled out from among all the duties of obedience, and made the test and evidence of our sincerity in that great day, and men blessed or cur­sed [Page 39] according to the love they have manifested this way to the Saints.

O then henceforth let none that understand the relation the Saints have to Christ, as the members to the head, or the relation they have to each other thereby as fellow members of the same body, from henceforth suffer Christ to hunger, if they have bread to relieve him, or Christ to be thirsty, if they have to refresh him; this Union betwixt Christ and the Saints affords an Argument beyond all other arguments in the world to prevail with us: methinks a little Rhetorick might perswade a Christian to part with any thing he hath to Christ, who parted with the glory of heaven, yea, and his heart blood to boot for his sake.

Inference 4.

Do Christ and believers make but one Mystical person? how unna­tural Infer. 4. and absurd then are all those acts of unkindness whereby be­lievers wound and grieve Jesus Christ! this is as if the hand should wound its own head, from which it receives life, sense, motion, and strength.

When Satan smites Christ by a wicked man, he then wounds him with the hand of an enemy; but when his temptations prevail upon the Saints to sin, he wounds him as it were▪ with his own hand: as the Eagle and Tree in the Fable complain'd, the one that he was wounded by an Arrow winged with his own Feathers, the other, that it was rived asunder by a wedge hewen out of its own limbs.

Now the evil and disingenuity of such sins, is to be measured not only by the near relation Christ sustains to believers as their head, but more particularly, from the several benefits they receive from him as such: for in wounding Christ by their sins,

First, They wound their head of influence, through whom they live, and without whom they had still remain'd in the state of sin and death. Eph. 4. 16. Shall Christ send life to us, and we return that which is as death to him? O how ab­surd, how disingenuous is this!

[Page 40] Secondly, They wound their head of government. Christ is a guiding as well as a quickening head, Col. 1. 18. the is your wis­dome, he guides you by his counsels to glory; but must he be thus requited for all his faithful conduct! what do you when you sin against him, but rebel against his government, refusing to sollow his counsels, and obeying in the mean time a deceiver rather than him.

Thirdly, They wound their consulting head who cares, pro­vides, and projects for the welfare and safety of the body. Christians, you know your affairs below have not been steered and managed by your own wisdome, but that orders have been given from heaven for your security and supply from day to day. I know O Lord (saith the Prophet) that the way of man is not in himself, neither is it in him that walks to direct his own steps. Jer. 10. 23.

It's true, Christ is out of your sight, and you see him not; but he sees you, and orders every thing that concerns you. And is this a due requital of all that care he hath taken for you? Do ye thus requite the Lord, for all his bene­fits? what! recompence evil for good! O let shame co­ver you.

Fourthly and Lastly, They wound their head of honour. Christ your head, is the fountain of honour to you: this is your glory that you relate to him as your head: you are on this account (as before was noted) exalted above Angels.

Now then consider how vile a thing it is to reflect the least dishonour upon him from whom you derive all your glory. O consider and bewail it.

Infer. 5.

Is there so strict and intimate a relation and Union betwixt Christ and the Saints? then surely they can never want what is good for Infer. 5. Qui misit fili­um, immisit spi­ritum, promi­sit vultum, quid tandem denegabit? their souls or bodies.

Every one naturally cares and provides for his own, espe­cially for his own body; yet we can more easily violate the law of nature and be cruel to our own flesh, than Christ can [Page 41] be so to his Mystical body. I know it's hard to rest upon and rejoyce in a promise, when necessities pinch, and we see not from whence relief should arise: but oh what sweet satisfacti­on and comfort might a necessitous believer find in these con­siderations, would he but keep them upon his heart in such a day of straits!

First, Whatever my distresses are for quality, number, or degree, they are all known even to the least circumstance by Christ my head: he looks down from heaven upon all my af­flictions, and understands them more fully than I that feel them. Psal. 38. 9. Lord all my desire is before thee, and my groaning is not hid from thee.

Secondly, He not only knows them, but feels them, as well as knows them: we have not an high priest that can­not be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, Heb. 4. 15. in all your afflictions he is afflicted: tender Sympathy cannot but flow from such intimate Union: therefore in Matth. 25. 35. he saith, I was an hungred, and I was a thirst, and I was naked. For indeed his Sympathy and tender compassion gave him as quick a resentment, and as tender a sense of their wants, as if they had been his own: yea,

Thirdly, He not only knows and feels my wants, but hath enough in his hand, and much [...] enough to supply them all: for all things are delivered to him by the Father, Luk: 10. 22. all the storehouses in heaven and earth are his, Phil. 4. 19.

Fourthly, He bestows all earthly good things even to super­fluity and redundance upon his enemies, they have more than heart can wish, Psal. 73. 7. he is bountiful to strangers: he loads his very enemies with these things, and can it be sup­posed he will in the mean while starve his own, and neglect those whom he loves as his own flesh? it cannot be. More­over

Fifthly, hitherto he hath not suffered me to perish in any former straits: when and where was it that he forsook me? this is not the first plunge of trouble I have been in: have I not found him a God at a pinch? how oft have I seen him in the Mount of difficulties!

[Page 42] Sixthly, and Lastly, I have his promise and engagement that he will never leave me nor forsake me, Heb. 13. 5. and Joh. 14. 18. a promise never crackt since the hour it was first made. If then, the Lord Jesus knows and feels all my wants, hath enough and more than enough to supply them, if he gives even to redundance unto his enemies, hath not hitherto forsaken me, and hath promised he never will: why then is my soul thus disquieted in me? surely there is no cause it should be so.

Infer. 6.

If the Saints are so nearly united to Christ, as the members to Infer. 6. the head; O then how great a sin, and full of danger is it for any to wrong and persecute the Saints! For in so doing, they must needs persecute Christ himself.

Saul, Saul, (saith Christ) why persecutest thou me? Acts Agesilaus di­c [...]re solitus est, se v [...]hementer admirari, eos non haberi in sacrilegorum numero qui lae­derent eos qui Deo supplica­rent vel Deum venerantur: quo i [...]nuit, eos non tantum Sacrilegos esse qui deos ipsos, aut templorum ornatum spoliarent; sed eos maxime qui de­orum ministros, & praecones contumeliis afficiunt. Aemyl. Prob. 9. 4. The righteous God holds himself obliged to vindicate oppressed innocency though it be in the person of a wicked man, how much more when it is in a member of Christ? He that toucheth you toucheth the Apple of mine eye, Zech. 2. 8. And is it to be imagined, that Christ will sit still, and suffer his enemies to thrust out the very Apples of his eyes? no, no, He hath ordained his arrrows against the persecutors, Psal. 7. 13.

O it were better thy hand should wither, and thine arm fall from thy shoulder, than ever it should be lifted up against Christ in the poorest of his members. Believe it Sirs, not only your violent actions, but your hard speeches are all set down upon your doomes-days book; and you shall be brought to an account for them in the great day, Jud. 15. Beware what arrows you shoot, and be sure of your mark before you shoot them.

Infer. 7.

If there be such a Union betwixt Christ and the Saints as hath been described, upon what comfortable terms then, may believers Infer. 7. part with their bodies at Death!

Christ your head is above water, therefore you cannot be lost: nay, he is not only risen from the dead himself, but Templum Dei in quo spiritus in­habitat patris & membr [...] Christi non participare sa­ [...]utem, sed in perditionem redigi dicere: quomodo non maximae est blasphemiae? Iren. lib. 5. is also become the first-fruits of them that sleep, 1 Cor. 15. 20. Believers are his members, his fulness, he cannot therefore be compleat without you: a part of Christ cannot perish in the grave, much less burn in hell: remember when you feel the Natural Union dissolving, that this Mystical Union can never be dissolved: the pangs of death cannot break this tye: as there is a peculiar excellency in the believers life, so there is a singular support and peculiar comfort in his death, to me to live is Christ, and to dye is gain, Phil. 1. 21.

Infer. 8.

If there be such a Union betwixt Christ and believers, how doth it concern every man to try and examin his Estate, Infer. 8. whether he be really united with Christ or not; by the natural and proper effects which alwayes flow from this Union? As

First, The real Communication of Christs holiness to the soul: we cannot be United with this root, and not partake of the vital sap of sanctification from him: all that are plan­ted into him, are planted into the likeness of his death and of his resurrection, Rom. 6. 5, 6. viz. by mortification, and vivification.

Secondly, They that are so nearly united to him as mem­bers to the head cannot but love him and value him above their own lives: as we see in nature, the hand and arm will in­terpose to save the head: the nearer the Union, the strong­er always is the affection.

Thirdly, The members are subject to the head: Dominion in the head must needs infer subjection in the members, Eph. 5. 24. in vain do we claim Union with Christ as our head, [Page 44] whilst we are governed by our own wills, and our Lusts give us law.

Fourthly, All that are United to Christ, do bear fruit to God, Rom. 7. 4. fruitfulness is the next end of our Union: there are no barren branches growing upon this fruitful root.

Infer. 9.

Lastly, how much are believers engaged to walk as the mem­bers Infer. 9. of Christ, in the visible exercises of all those graces and duties which the consideration of their near relation to him exacts from them! As

First, How contented and well pleased should we be with our outward lot, however providence hath cast it for us in this world. O do not repine, God hath dealt bountifully with you: upon others he hath bestowed the good things of this world, upon you himself in Christ.

Secondly, How humble and lowly in spirit should you be under your great advancement! It's true, God hath magni­fied you greatly by this Union; but yet don't swell, You bear not the root but the root you, Rom. 11. 18. You shine, but it is as the Stars, with a borrowed light.

Thirdly, How Zealous should you be to honour Christ, who hath put so much honour upon you! Be willing to give glory to Christ, though his glory should rise out of your shame. Never reckon that glory that goes to Christ, to be lost to you: when you lye at his feet in the most particular heart-break­ing confessions ofsin, yet let this please you, that therein you have given him glory.

Fourthly, how exact and circumspect should you be in all your wayes, remembring whose you are, and whom you represent! Shall it be said that a member of Christ was con­victed of unrighteous and unholy actions! God forbid: if we say we have fellowship with him, and walkin darkness we lye, 1 Joh. 1. 6. and he that saith he abideth in him, ought also him­self to walk even as he walked, 1 Joh. 2. 6.

Fifthly, how studious should you be of peace among your selves who are all so nearly united to such a head, and there­by are made fellow-members in the same body! The heathen [Page 45] world was never acquainted with such an Argument as the Apostle urges for Unity in Eph. 4. 3, 4.

Sixthly and Lastly, how joyful and comfortable should you be, to whom Christ with all his treasures and benefits is effectually applyed in this blessed Union of your souls with him! This brings him into your possession: oh how great! how glorious a person do the little weak arms of your faith em­brace!

Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.

The Third SERMON. Serm. 3.

2 Cor. 5. 20. Opening the nature and use of of the Gos­pel Mini­stry, as an external means of applying Christ.‘Now then, we are Ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you, we pray you in Christs stead; be ye reconciled to God.’

THe Effectual Application of Christ principally consists in our Union with him, but (ordinari­ly) there can be no Union without a Gospel tender and overture of him to our souls, for how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a Preacher? and how shall he preach except he be sent? Rom. 10. 14.

[Page 46] IF God be upon a design of marrying poor sinners to his Son, there must be a treaty in order to it: that treaty requires interlocution betwixt both the parties concerned in it: but such is our frailty, that should God speak immediately to us himself, it would confound and overwhelm us: God therefore graciously condescends and accommodates himself to our infirmity, in treating with us in order to our Union with Christ by his Ambassadors, and these not Angels whose con­verses we cannot bear, but men like our selves who are com­missionated for the effecting of this great business betwixt Christ and us. Now then we are Ambassadors for God, &c. In which words you have

First, Christs Ambassadors commissionated.

Secondly, Their Commission opened.

First, Christs Ambassadors commissionated. Now then we are Ambassadors for Christ. The Lord Jesus thought it not sufficient to print the law of grace, and blessed terms of our Union with him in the scriptures, where men may read his willingness to receive them, and see the just and gracious terms and conditions upon which he offers to become theirs; but hath also set up and established a standing office in the Church to expound that Law, inculcate the precepts, and urge the promises thereof: to wooe and espouse souls to Christ, I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chast virgin to Christ, 2 Cor. 11. 20. and this not simply from their own affections and compassions to miserable sinners, but also by vertue of their office and Com­mission whereby they are authorized and appointed to that work. We then are Ambassadors for Christ.

Secondly, Their Commission opened: wherein we find

  • 1. Their work appointed.
  • 2. Their Capacity described.
  • 3. And the manner of their acting in that Capacity pre­scribed.

First; The work whereunto the Ministers of the Gospel are appointed, is to reconcile the world to God: to work these sin­ful, vain, rebellious hearts which have a strong aversation from God naturally in them; to close with him according to the Articles of peace contained in the Gospel; that thereby [Page 47] they may be capable to receive the mercies and benefits pur­chased by the death of Christ, which they cannot receive in the state of enmity and alienation.

Secondly, Their Capacity described, they act in Christs stead as his Vicegerents. He is no more in this world to treat personally with sinners as once he did in the dayes of n [...]s flesh: but yet he still continues the treaty with this lower world by his officers, requiring men to look upon them, and obey them as they would himself if he were Corporally present, Luke 10. 16. He that heareth you, heareth me, and he that despiseth you, despiseth me.

Thirdly, The manner of their acting in that Capacity prescribed: and that is by humble, sweet, and condescending intreaties and beseechings: this best suits that meek and Lamb­like Saviour whom they represent. Thus he dealt with poor sinners himself when he conversed among them; he would not break a bruised reed nor quench smoaking flax, Isa. 42. 3. This is the way to allure and win the souls of sinners to Christ.

From hence the Note is:

Doct.

That the preaching of the Gospel by Christs Ambassadors is the Doct. means appointed for the reconciling and bringing home of sinners to Christ.

This is clear from Rom. 10. 14. 1 Cor. 1. 21. and many other Scriptures.

Here we shall take into Consideration these three things.

First, what is implyed in Christs treating with sinners by his Ambassadors or Ministers.

Secondly, What the great Concernment they are to treat with sinners about is.

Thirdly, What and when is the Efficacy of preaching to bring sinners to Christ.

First, We will open what is implyed and imported in Christs treaty with sinners by his Ambassadors or Mini­sters.

And here we find these six things implied.

First, it necessarily implies the defection and fall of man [Page 48] from his estate of favour and friendship with God: if no war with heaven, what need of Ambassadors of peace? the very office of the Ministry, is an argument of the fall. Gospel Ordinances and Officers came in upon the fall, and expire with the Mediators dispensatory Kingdom, 1 Cor. 15. 24, 25. Then shall he deliver up the Kingdom to God even the Father: thenceforth no more Ordinances, no more Ministers; what use can there be of them, when the treaty is ended? They have done and accomplished all they were ever intend­ed and designed for, when they shall have reconciled to God all the number of his Elect that lay dispersed among the lost and miserable posterity of Adam, and have brought them home to Christ in a perfect state, Eph. 4. 12. &c.

Secondly, It implies the singular grace and admirable con­descension of God to sinful man. That God will admit any treaty with him at all is wonderful mercy, it's more than he would do for the Angles that fell, Jude 6. they are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgement of the great day. Christ took not on him their nature, but suffered Myriads of them to perish, and fills up their vacant places in glory with a number of sinful men and women to whom the Law a warded the same punishment.

But that God will not only treat but entreat and beseech sinful men to be reconciled is yet more wonderful. Barely to propound the terms of peace had been an astonishing mercy, but to wooe and beseech stubborn enemies to be at peace and accept their pardon, Oh how unparallell'd as this condescension!

Thirdly, It implyes the great dignity and honour of the Inter illos qui regi regum in­serviunt, [...]e­gatisumus: Dei Christique per­sonam gerimus, [...]ullus unquam nos impu [...]e despicat [...] ha­buit, quin in Deum Chri [...]umque idem injurius. Bowles pr [...]fat ad past. Evang. Gospel ministry. We are Ambassadors for Christ, Ambassa­dors represent and personate the Prince that sends them: and the honours or contempts done to them reflect upon, and are reckon'd to the person of their Master, Luke 10. 16. he that heareth you, heareth me; and he that despi­seth you, despiseth me.

Neither their persons, nor parts are the proper ground and reason of our respects to them; but their office and Com­mission from Jesus Christ.

[Page 49] We are fallen into the dreggs of time, wherein a vile contempt is poured not only upon the persons but the very Office of the Ministry: and I could heartily wish that Scrip­ture, Mal. 2. 7, 8, 9. were throughly considered by us, possibly it might inform us of the true cause and reason of this sore judgement: but surely Christs faithful Ministers de­serve a better entertainment than they ordinarily find in the world: and if we did but seriously bethink our selves, in whose name they come, and in whose stead they stand, we should receive them as the Galatians did Paul, Gal. 4. 14. as Angels of God, even as Christ Jesus.

Fourthly, Christs treating with sinners by his Ministers, who are his Ambassadors, implies the strict obligation they are under to be faithful in their Ministerial imployment. Christ counts upon their faithfulness whom he puts into the Ministry, 1 Tim. 1. 12. They are accountable to him for all acts of their office, Heb. 13. 17. If they be silent, they can­not be innocent: necessity is laid upon them, and wo to them if they preach not the Gospel, 1 Cor. 9. 16.

Yea, necessity is not only laid upon them to preach, but to keep close to their Commission in preaching the Gospel, 1 Thes. 2. 3, 4, 5. Our Exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile, but as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the Gos­pel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts: the word is not to be corrupted to please men, 2 Cor. 2. 17. their business is not to make them their disciples, but Christs, not to seek theirs but them, 2 Cor. 12. 14. to keep close to their instructions, both in the matter, manner, & end of their Ministry. So did Christ himself the treasure of wisdom and knowledge, yet being sent by God, he saith, Job. 7. 16. my doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. And so he expects and requires that his Ambassadors keep close to the Commission he hath given them; and be (according to their measure) faithful to their trust, as he was to his. Paul is to deliver to the people, that which he also received from the Lord, 1 Cor. 11. And Timothy must keep that which was committed to him, 2 Tim. 1. 14.

Fifthly, It implies the removal of the Gospel ministry to be a very great judgment to the people. The remanding of Ambassadors, presages an ensuing War. If the reconciling of souls to God be the greatest work, then the removal of [Page 50] the means and instruments thereof must be the forest Judge­ment. Some account the falling of the Salt upon the Table omi­nous, but surely the falling of them whom Christ calls the Salt of the earth is so indeed.

What are those once famous and renowned places from whence Christ (as he threatned) hath removed the Candle­stick, but magna latrocinia dens of Robbers, and mountains of prey?

Sixthly and Lastly, It implyes both the wisdome and con­descension of God to sinful men in carrying on a treaty of peace with them by such Ambassadors, negotiating betwixt him and them: without a treaty there would be no reconciliati­on; and no method to carry on such a treaty like this: for had the Lord treated with sinners personally, and immediate­ly, they had been overwhelmed with such an awful Majesty. The app [...]ces of God confound the creature, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God (saith Israel) neither let me see this great fire any more, that I dye not: yea so ter­rible was that sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake, Deut. 18. 16. Heb. 12. 21.

Or had he Commissionated Angels for this imployment, though they stand not at such an infinite distance from us as God doth, yet such is the excellence of their glory (being the highest Species and order of creatures) that their appear­ances would be more apt to astonish than persuade us: be­sides they being creatures of another rank and kinde, and not partaking with us either in the misery of the fall, or benefit of the recovery by Christ, 'tis not to be supposed they should speak to us so feelingly, and experimentally, as these his Ministers do: they can open to you the mysteries of sin, feeling the workings thereof daily in their own hearts: they can discover to you the conflicts of the flesh and spirit, as being daily exercised in that warfare; and then being men of the same mould and temper they can say to you as Elihu did to Job, Chap. 33. 6, 7. Behold, I am according to thy wish, in Gods stead, I also am formed out of the clay: behold, my terror shall not make thee afraid, neither shall my hand be heavy upon thee.

So that in this appointment much of the Divine wisdom and condescension to sinners is manifested: we have this treasure in [...]arthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, [Page 51] and not of us, 2 Cor. 4. 7. Gods glory and mans advantage are both promoted in this dispensation.

Secondly, Next we are to consider that great Concernment 2. about which these Ambassadors of Christ are to treat with sin­ners: and that (as the Text informs us) is their reconciliation to God.

Now reconciliation with God, is the restoring of men to Reconciliareni­hil aliud est quam amiciti­am offensione aliquagravi diremptam re­sarcire, & sic inimicos in pristinam con­cordiam redu­cere. Daven. in [...] Col. 20. that former frindship they had with God, which was broken by the fall, and is still continued by our Enmity and aver­sation, whilst we continue in our Natural, and unregenerate Estate. Now this is the greatest and most blessed design that ever God had in the world: an astonishing and invaluable mercy to men, as will clearly appear by considering these particulars following.

First, That God should be reconciled after such a dreadful breach as the fall of man made, is wonderful: No sin, all things considered, was ever like to this sin: other sins like a single bullet kill particular persons, but this like a chain-shot cuts off multitudes, multitudes as the sand upon the sea shore which no man can number.

If all the posterity of Adam in their several generations should do nothing else but bewail and lament this sin of his whilst this world continues, yet would it not be enough lamented: for a man so newly Created out of nothing, and admitted the first moment into the highest order, Crown­ed a King over the works of Gods hands, Psal. 8. 5. a man perfect and upright, without the least inordinate motion, or sinful inclination: A man whose minde was most clear, bright and apprehensive of the will of God, whose will was free, and able to have easily put by the strongest temptati­on: A man in a paradise of delights, where nothing was left to desire for advancing the happiness of soul or body: A man understanding himself to be a publick complexive per­son, carrying not only his own, but the happiness of the whole world in his hand: so soon, upon so slight a temptation, to violate the Law of his God, and involve himself and all his posterity with him in such a gulph of guilt and misery: all which he might so easily have prevented! O wonderful a­mazing mercy, that ever God should think of being recon­ciled, or have any purposes of peace towards so vile an Apostate creature as man!

[Page 52] Secondly, That God should be reconciled to men and not to Angels, a more high and excellent order of creatures, is yet more astonishing: when the Angels fell they were lost irrecove­rably: no hand of mercy was stretched out to save one of those Myriads of excellent beings, but chains of darkness were immediately clapt on them, to reserve them to the judgment of the great day, Jude v. 6.

That the milder attribute should be exercised to the infe­riour, and the severer attribute to the more excellent Creature, is just matter for eternal admiration: who would cast away vessels of gold, and save earthen potsherds! Some indeed un­dertake to shew us the reasons why the wisdom of God made no provision for the recovery of Angels by a Mediator of re­conciliation: partly from the high degree of the malignity of their sin, who sinned in the light of heaven, partly because it was decent that the first breach of the Divine Law should be punished, to secure obedience for the future. And besides, the Angelical nature was not entirely lost, Myriads of An­gels still continuing in their innocency and glory: whenas all mankind was lost in Adam.

But we must remember still the Law made no distinction, but awarded the same punishment, and therefore it was mer­cy alone that made the difference, and mercy for ever to be admired by men: how astonishing is the grace of God, that moves in a way of reconciliation to us, out of design to fill up the vacant places in heaven from which Angels fell, with such poor worms as we are! Angels excluded, and men re­ceived. O stupendious mercy!

Thirdly, That God should be wholly and throughly reconci­led to men, so that no fury remains in him against us; accord­ing to that Scripture Isai. 27. 4. is still matter of farther wonder.

The design he sends his Ambassadors to you about is not the allaying, and mitigating of his wrath, (which yet would be matter of great joy to the damned) but throughly to quench all his wrath, so that no degree thereof shall ever be felt by you. O blessed Embassy! Beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that bring such tydings. God offers you a full re­conciliation, a plenary remission.

Fourthly, That God should be freely reconciled to sinners and discharge them without any the least satisfaction to his [Page 53] justice from them; is and for ever will be marvellous in their eyes.

Oh what mercy would the damned account it if after a thousand years torments in hell God would at last be recon­ciled to them, and put an end to their misery! But believers are discharged without bearing any part of the curse, not one farthing of that debt is levied upon them.

If you say, how can this be, when God stands upon full Object. satisfaction to his Justice before any soul be discharged, and restored to savour? freely reconciled, and yet fully satis­fied, how can this be?

Very well, for this mercy comes freely to your hands, how Solut. costly soever it proved to Christ: and that free remission, and full satisfaction are not contradictory and inconsistent things, is plain enough from that Scripture, Rom. 3. 24. Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: freely and yet in the way of redemption.

For though Christ your surety have made satisfaction in your name and stead, yet it was his life, his blood, and not yours, that went for it, and this surety was of Gods own appointment and providing without your contrivement or thoughts. O blessed reconciliation, happy is the people that hear the joyful sound of it.

Fifthly, and Lastly, That God should be finally reconciled to sinners, so that never any new breach shall happen betwixt him and them any more, so as to dissolve the League of friendship; is a most ravishing and transporting message.

Two things give Confirmation and full security to recon­ciled ones, viz. The terms of the Covenant, and the inter­cession of the Mediator.

The Covenant of grace gives great security to believers against new breaches betwixt God and them. It's said Jer. 32. 40. And I will make an everlasting Covenant with them that I will not turn away from them to do them good, but I will put my fear in their hearts that they shall not depart from me. The fear of God is a choice preservative against second revolts, and therefore taken into the Covenant. It is no hindrance, but a special guard to assurance.

There is no doubt of Gods faithfulness, that part of the promise is easily believed, that he will not turn away from [Page 54] us to do us good, all the doubt is of the inconstancy of our hearts with God, and against that danger this promise makes provision.

Moreover the Intercession of Christ in heaven secures the Saints in their reconciled state. 1 Joh. 2. 1, 2. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father Jesus Christ the righte­ous, and he is the propitiation: he continually appears in hea­ven before the Father, as a Lamb that had been slain, Rev. 5. 6. And as the bow in the clouds, Rev. 4. 3. So that as long as Christ thus appears in the presence of God for us, it is not possible our state of Justification and reconciliation can be again dissolved.

And this is that blessed Embassy Gospel Ministers are im­ployed about: he hath committed to them the word of this reconciliation.

In the last place we are to enquire what and whence is this efficacy of preaching, to reconcile and bring home sinners to 3. Christ.

That its efficacy is great in convincing, humbling, and changing the hearts of men is past all debate and question. The weapons of our warfare (saith the Apostle) are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds, cast­ing down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth it self against the knowledge of God, and bringing into Captivity eve­ry thought to the obedience of Christ, 2 Cor. 10. 4, 5. No heart so hard, no conscience so stupid, but this sword can pierce and wound: in an instant it can cast down all those vain rea­sonings, and fond imaginations which the Carnal heart hath been building all its life long, and open a fair passage for Convictions of sin, and the fears and terrors of wrath to come into that heart that was never afraid of these things be­fore. So Acts 2. 37. When they heard this they were pricked to the heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the Apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

What shall we do? is the doleful cry of men at their wits end: the voice of one in deepest distress, and such outcries have been no rarities under the preaching of the word: its power hath been felt by persons of all orders and conditions: the great and honourable of the earth, as well as the poor and despicable. The learned and the ignorant, the civil and pro­fane, [Page 55] the young and the old, all have felt the heart-piercing efficacy of the Gospel.

If you ask whence hath the word preached this mighty power? The answer must be, Neither from it self, nor him that preaches it, but from the spirit of God whose instrument it is, by whose blessing and concurrence with it, it produceth its blessed effects upon the hearts of men.

First, This Efficacy and wonderful power is not from the 1. word it self: take it in an abstract notion, separated from the spirit, it can do nothing: it is called the foolishness of preach­ing, 1 Cor. 1. 21. foolishness not only because the world so accounts it, but because in it self it is a weak and unsuitable, and therefore a very improbable way to reconcile the world to God: that the stony heart of one man should be broken by the words of another man, that one poor sinful Creature should be used to breath spiritual life into another, this could never be if this sword were not managed by an omnipotent hand.

And besides, we know what works Naturally, works necessarily: if this Efficacy were inherent in the word, so that we should suppose it to work as other Natural agents do, then it must need convert all to whom it is at any time preached, except its effect were miraculously hindered, as the fire when it could not burn the three Children: but alas thousands hear it, that never feel the saving power of it, Isai. 53. 1. and 2 Cor. 4. 3, 4.

Secondly, It derives not this Efficacy▪ from the Instrument 2. by which it is ministred: let their gifts and abilities be what they will, it's impossible that ever such effects should be pro­duced from the strength of their Natural or gracious abili­ties: 2 Cor. 4. 7. We have this treasure (saith the Apostle) in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

This treasure of Gospel light is carried [...] in earthen vessels, as Gideon and his men had their Lamps [...] in earthen pitchers or in Oyster-shells, for so the word also signi­fies, the Oyster-shell is a base and worthless thing in it self, however, there lyes the rich and precious Pearl of so great value: and why is this precious treasure lodged in such weak worthless vessels? surely it is upon no other design but to con­vince [Page 56] us of the truth I am here to prove, That the Excel­lency of the power is of God, and not of us: as it follows in the next words. To the same purpose speaks the same Apostle, 1 Cor. 3. 7. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

Not any thing! what can be more diminutively spoken of the Gospel preachers? but we must not understand these words in a simple and absolute, but in a comparative and relative sence: not as if they were not necessary and useful in their place, but that how necessary soever they be, and what ex­cellent gifts soever God hath furnished them with; yet it is neither in their power, nor choice to make the word they preach effectual to men: if it were, then the damnation of all that hear us must needs lye at our door: then also, many thousands would have been reconciled to God, which are yet in the state of enmity, but the effect of the Gospel is not in our power.

Thirdly, But whatever efficacy it hath to reconcile men to God, it derives from the spirit of God, whose Coope­ration 3. and blessing (which is arbitrarily dispensed) gives it all the fruit it hath.

Ministers, saith one Mr. Anthony Burges., are like Trumpets which make no sound, if breath be not breathed into them. Or like Eze­kiels wheels, which move not, unless the spirit move them: or like Elisha's servant, whose presence doth no good except Elisha's spirit be there also: for want of the spirit of God, how many thousands of souls do find the Ministry to be nothing to them? If it be something to the purpose to any soul, it is the Lord that makes it so. This spirit is not limited by mens gifts or parts: he concurrs not only with their labours who have excellent gifts, but ostentimes blesses mean despicable gifts, with far greater success: beautiful Rachel is barren, and blear-ey'd Leah bears children. Ex duobus aeta­te jam grandi­bus impiis; cur iste ita vocetu [...] ut vocantem se­quatur, ille autem non? noli­to judicare, si non vis errare: inscrutabilia sunt judica dei: cujus vult mis [...]retur. Aug. de bono persec. Cap. 8.

Suppose, saith Austin, there be two Conduits in a Town, one very plain and homely, the other built of polished mar­ble, and adorned with excellent Images, as Eagles, Lions, Angels: the water refreshes as it is water, and not as it comes from such or such a Conduit. 'Tis the spirit that gives the [Page 57] word all that vertue it hath: he is the Lord of all saving influences: he hath dominion over the word, over our souls, over the times and seasons of conversion: and if any poor Crea­ture attend the Ministry without benefit, if he go away as he came, without fruit; surely we may say in this case as Mar­tha said to Christ in reference to her brother Lazarus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not dy'd; so, Lord if thou hadst been in this prayer, in this Sermon, this poor soul had not gone dead, and carnal from under it. And now what remains, but that we apply this truth in those uses that it gives us?

First Use of Information.

Infer. 1.

Is the Preaching of the Gospel by Christs Ambassadors the way which God takes to reconcile sinners to himself? Then how inexcusable are all those that continue in their state of en­mity, though the Ambassadors of peace have been with them all their lives long, wooing and beseeching them to be reconciled to God?

O invincible, obstinate, incurable disease, which is aggra­vated by the only proper remedy! hath God been wooing and beseeching you by his Ambassadours so many years to be recon­ciled to him, and will you not yield to any intreaties? must he be made to speak in vain, to charm the deaf Adder? well, when the milder Attributre hath done with you, the seve­er Attribute will take you in hand.

The Lord hath kept an account of every year and day of his patience towards you, Luke 13. 7. These three years I came seeking fruit on this Fig-tree, and finde none, and Jer. 25. 3. These three and twenty years have I spoken unto you rising early and speaking, but ye have not hearkened.

Well, be you assured, that God hath both the glass of your time, and the vials of his wrath by him: and so much of his abused patience as runs out of one, so much of his in­censed wrath runs into the other: there is a time when this Treaty of peace will end, when the Master of the house will rise up, and the doors be shut, Luke 13. 25. Then will you be left without hope and without Apology.

We read indeed of some poor and ineffectual pleas that will be made by some at the last day, so Matth. 7. 22. We have Prophesied in thy name, &c. These pleas will not avail, but as [Page 58] for you what will you plead? possibly many thousand Ideots or poor weak-headed persons may perish, many young ones that had little or no time in the world to acquaint them­selves with matters of religion, or understand the way of salvation: many Millions of heathens, that never heard the name of Christ, nor came within the sound of Salvation; who will yet perish and that justly.

Now whatsoever Apologies any of these will make for themselves in the last day, to be sure you can make none. God hath given you a Capacity, and competent understand­ing: many of you are wise and subtil in all your other concern­ments, and only shew your folly in the great concernments of your Salvation: you cannot plead want of time, some of you are grown gray-headed under the Gospel: you cannot plead want of means and opportunities, the Ordinances and Ministers of Christ have been with you all your life long to this day: sure if you be Christless now, you must also be speechless then.

Infer. 2.

Hence it also follows, That the world owes better entertain­ment Infer. 2. than it gives to the Ministers of Christ. Christs Ambassa­dors deserve a better welcome than they find among men.

Your respects to them is founded upon their office and imployment for you, Heb. 13. 17. and 1 Thes. 5. 12. They watch for your souls, dare any of you watch for their ru­ine? They bring glad tydings, shall they return with sad tydings to him that sent them? They publish peace, shall they be rewarded with trouble? O ungrateful world! We read in Eph. 6. 20. of an Ambassador in bonds, and he no ordinary one neither; we read also a strange Challenge made by another at his own death, Acts 7. 52. Which of all the pro­phets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before the coming of the Just one. Some that break the bread of life to you might want bread to eat for any regard you have to them. The office of the Ministry speaks the abundant love of God to you, your Contempt and abuse of it speaks the abundant stupidity or malignity of your hearts towards God: what a sad protesta­tion [Page 59] doth Jeremy make against his ungrateful people, Jer. 18. 20. shall evil, saith he, be recompenced for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul; remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them.

Gods mercy is eminently discovered in the institution, and Satans malice is eminently discovered in the opposition of the Ministerial office. Satan is a great and jealous Prince, and it is no wonder he should raise all the forces he can to op­pose Mr. G [...]rnals Christian Armor. the Ambassadors of Christ: When, saith one, the Gospel comes into his dominions, it doth as it were by sound of Trum­pet and beat of drum proclaim liberty to all his slaves and vassals if they will quit that Tyrant that hath so long held their souls in bondage, and come under the sweet and easy government of Christ: and can the Devil endure this, think you? if Christ send forth Ambassadors, no wonder if Satan send forth opposers: he certainly owes them a spite, that un­dermine his government in the world.

Infer. 3.

Hence it follows, that it nearly concerns all Christs Ambassa­dors Infer. 3. to see that they be in a state of reconciliation with God themselves.

Shall we stand in Christ's stead by office, and yet not be in Christ by Union? Shall we intreat men to be reconciled to God, and yet be at enmity with him our selves? O let us take heed lest after we have preached to others, we our selves be as cast-awayes, 1 Cor. 9. 27. Of all men living we are the most miserable if we be Christless, and graceless: our Consciences will make more terrible ap­plications of our doctrine to us in hell, than ever we made to the vilest of sinners on earth. O it's far easier to study and press a thousand truths upon others, than to feel the power of one truth upon our own hearts: to teach others facienda quàm faciendo: duties to be done, than duties by doing them.

They are sad Dilamma's with which a learned Writer poses Gildas Salv. p. 15, 16. such graceless Ministers: If Sin be evil, why do you live in it? If it be not, why do you dissuade men from it? If it be dan­gerous, how dare you venture on it? If it be not, why do you tell men so? If Gods threatenings be true; why don't you [Page 60] fear them? If they be false, why do you trouble men needlesly with them, and put them into such frights with­out a cause?

Take heed to your selves, lest you should cry down sin, and not overcome it; lest while you seek to bring it down in others, you bow to it and become its slaves your selves: it's easier to chide at sin, than to overcome i. That is a smart questi­on, Rom. 2. 21. Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not thy self? A prophane Minister was Converted by reading that Text once, but how many have read it as well as he, who never trembled at the consideration of it as he did?

2. Use for Conviction.

Is this the method God uses to reconcile men to himself? O then examine your selves whether yet the preaching of the 2. Use. Gospel hath reconciled you to God. It's too manifest that many among us are in the state of enmity unto this day: we may say with the Prophet Isaiah, 53. 1. Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? We of­fer you peace upon Gospel terms and Articles, but our peace returns to us again: enemies you were to God, and enemies you still continue. The Evidence is undeniable; for

1. Evidence.

Many of you were never Convinced to this day of your state 1. Evid. of enmity against God, and without Conviction of this, reconciliation is impossible; without repentance there can be no reconciliation, and without Conviction there can be no repentance: when we repent we lay down our Wea­pons, Isai. 27. 4, 5. But how few have been brought to this? Alas! if a few poor cold heartless, ineffectual confessions of sin may pass for a due Conviction, and serious repentance, then have we been convinced, then have we repented: but you will find if ever the Lord intend to reconcile you to him­self, your Convictions and humiliations for sin will be other manner of things: this will cost you more than a few cheap words against sin. 2 Cor. 7. 11. In that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of [Page 61] your selves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge?

2. Evidence.

Many of us never treated seriously with the Lord about peace, and how then are we reconciled to him? What, a 2. Evid. peace without a treaty? Reconciliation without any consi­deration about it? it can never be: When was the time, and where was the place, that you were found in secret upon your knees, mourning over the sin of your Na­ture, and the evils of your ways? Certainly you must be brought to this, you must with a broken heart bewail your sin and misery.

Friend, that stony heart of thine must feel remorse and anguish for sin, it will cost thee some sad days and sorrowful nights or ever thou canst have peace with God: it will cost thee many a groan, many a tear, many a hearty cry to hea­ven; if ever the peace be made betwixt God and thee, thou must take with thee words and turn to the Lord, saying, Take away all iniquity, and receive me graciously. O for one smile, one token of love, one hint of favour! The child of peace is not born without pangs, and agonies of Soul.

3. Evidence.

Many of us are not reconciled to the duties of religion, and ways of holiness, and how then is it possible we should 3. Evid. be reconciled to God? What, reconciled to God, and unre­conciled to the ways of God? By reconciliation we are made nigh: in duties of Communion we draw nigh; and can we be made nigh to God, and have no heart to draw nigh to God? it can never be.

Examine your hearts and say, is not the way of strictness a bondage to you? had you not rather be at liberty to full­fill the desires of the flesh and of the mind? Could you not wish that the Scriptures had not made some things else your sins and other things your duties? do you delight in the Law of God after the inner man, and esteem his Judgments concer­ning all things to be right? Do you love secret prayer, and de­light [Page 62] in duties of Communion with God; or rather are they not an ungrateful burden, and irksome imposition? give Con­science leave to speak plain.

4. Evidence.

Many of us are not Enemies to sin, and how then are we reconciled to God? what, friends with God, and our Lusts 4. Eivd. too? it cannot be. Psal. 97. 10. Ye that love the Lord hate evil: the same hour our reconciliation is made with God, there is an everlasting breach made with sin: this is one of the Articles or Conditions of our peace with God, Isai. 55. 7. Let the wicked forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon.

But it's manifest in many of us that we are no enemies to sin, we secretly indulge it, what bad names soever we call it by: we will commit ten sins to cover one: we cannot endure the most serious faithful, seasonable, private, tender, and necessary reproofs of Sin, but our hearts swell and rise at it: sure we are not reconciled to God, whilest we embrace sin his enemy in our bofoms.

5. Evidence.

We love not the Children of God, nor are reconciled to them that bear his Image, and how then can we be reconciled 5. Evid. to God? 1 Joh. 5. 1. He that loveth him that begat, loveth them also that are begotten: what, at peace with the father, and at War with the children! It cannot be: do not some that hope they have made their peace with God, hate, revile and persecute the Children of God? Surely in that day we are reconciled to the Lord, we are reconciled to all his people: we shall then love a Christian as a Christan, and by this we know we are passed from death to life.

6. Evidence.

Lastly, How can any man think himself to be reconciled to God, who never closed heartily with Jesus Christ by 6. Evid. faith, who is the only dayes-man, and peace-maker; the alone mediator of reconciliation betwixt God and man.

This is a sure truth, that all whom God accepts into fa­vour, are made accepted in the beloved, Eph. 1. 6. If any man will make peace with God, he must take hold of his strength, accept and close with Christ who is the power of God, or he can never make peace, Isai. 27. He must be made nigh by the blood of Christ, Eph. 2. 13. But alas, both Christ and faith are strangers to many souls who yet perswade them­selves to be at peace with God: O fatal mistake!

3. Use of Exhortation.

Lastly, This point deserves a close vigorous applicati­on 3. Use. in a threefold exhortation.

First, To Christs Ambassadors who treat with Souls in or­der to their reconciliation with God

Secondly, To those that are yet in their enmity and un­reconciled state.

Thirdly, to those that have embraced the terms of peace, and submitted to the Gospel overtures.

First, To the Ambassadors of reconciliation. God hath put a 1. great deal of honour upon you in this high and noble imployment: great is the dignity of your office, to some you are the savour of death unto death, and to others the savour of life unto life; and who is sufficient for these things? 2 Cor. 2. 16. But yet the Duty is no less than the dignity. O what manner of men should we be for judgement, seriousness, af­fections, patience, and exemplary holiness to whom the ma­nagement of so great a Concern betwixt God and man is committed!

First, for Judgment and prudence, how necessary is it in so weighty and difficult a business as this! He had need be a man of wisdom that is to inform the ignorant of the nature and necessity of this great work, and win over their hearts to [Page 64] consent to the Articles of peace propounded in the Gospel: that hath so many subtil temptations to answer, and so ma­ny intricate cases of conscience to resolve: There are ma­ny strong holds of Satan to be battered, and many stout and obstinate resistances made by the hearts of sinners which must be overcome; and he had need be no Novice in religion to whom so difficult a province is committed.

Secondly, Let us be Serious in our work as well as judici­ous. Remember O ye Ambassadors of Christ, you bring a message from the God of heaven of everlasting consequence to the souls of men. The eternal decrees are executed up­on them in your Ministry: to some you are the savour of life unto life, and to some the savour of death unto death, 2 Cor. 2. 16. Heaven and hell are matters of most awful and solemn Consideration. O what an account have we also shortly to give unto him that sent us!

These are matters of such deep Concernment as should swallow up our very spirits, the least they can do is to com­pose our hearts unto seriousness in the management of them.

Thirdly, Be filled with tender affections toward the souls Vide Bowles pastor Evang. p. 136. of men with whom you treat for reconciliation: you had need be men of bowels as well as men of brains: you see a multitude of poor souls upon the brink of eternal misery, and they know it not, but promise themselves peace, and fill themselves with vain hopes of heaven: and is there a more moving, melting spectacle in the world than this! O think with what bowels of Commiseration Moses and Paul were filled, when the one desired rather to be blotted out of Gods Book, and the other to be accursed from Christ, than that Israel should not be saved, Exod. 32. 33. and Rom. 9. 3. Think how the Bowels of Christ yearned over Jerusa­lem, Matth. 23. 37. and over the multitude, Matth. 9. 36. Let the same mind be in you which also was in Christ Jesus.

Fourthly, Be patient and long-suffering towards sinners: such is the value of one soul, that it's worth waiting all our days to save it at last: the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness in­structing them that oppose themselves, if God peradventure will give them repentance, 2 Tim. 2. 24, 25. The Lord waits with [Page 65] patience upon sinners, and well may you. Consider your selves, how long was God treating with you, ere you were won to him? Be not discouraged if success present­ly answer not expectation.

Fifthly, and Lastly, be sure to back your Exhortations with drawing examples, else you may preach out your last breath before you gain one soul to God. The De­vil and the Carnal hearts of your hearers will put hinde­rances enough in the way of your labours, don't you put the greatest of all your selves. O study not only to preach exactly, but to live exactly, let the misplacing of one a­ction in your lives trouble you more, than the misplacing of words in your discourses: this is the way to succeed in your Embassy, and give up your account with joy.

Secondly, The exhortation speaks to all those that are 2. yet in a state of enmity and unreconciled to God unto this day. O that may words might prevail, and that you would now be intreated to be reconciled to God! The Ambassadors of peace are yet with you, the treaty is not yet ended, the Master of the house is not yet risen up, nor the door of mercy and hope finally shut: hitherto God hath waited to be gracious, O that the long-suffer­ing of God might be your salvation: a day is hasting when God will treat with you no more, when a gulph shall be fixed betwixt him and you for ever, Luk. 13. 25. O what will you do when the season of mercy and all hopes of mer­cy shall end together! When God shall become inac­cessible, inexorable and unreconcilable to you for ever­more.

O what wilt thou do when thou shalt find thy self shut up under eternal wrath: when thou shalt feel that mise­ry thou art now warned of! is this the place where I must be, are these the torments I must endure, what for ever! Yea, for ever: will not God be satisfied with the sufferings of a thousand years? No, nor of Millions of years! Ah sinners, did you but clearly see the present and future misery of unreconciled ones, and what that wrath of the great and terrible God is which is coming as fast as the wings of time can bring it upon you; it would certain­ly drive you to Christ, or drive you out of your wits. [Page 66] O 'tis a dreadful thing to have God for your eternal ene­my: to have the great and terrible God setting on work his infinite power to avenge the abuse of his grace and mercy.

Believe it friends, it's a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God: knowing the terrors of the Lord we perswade men: an eternal weight hangs upon an inch of time. O that you did know the time of your visitation! That you would not dare to adventure, and run the hazard of one day more in an unreconciled state.

Thirdly, and Lastly, This point speaks to those who 3. have believed our report, who have taken hold of Gods strength, and made peace with him: who had not ob­tained mercy, but now have obtained mercy: who once were afar off, but now are made nigh by the blood of Christ: with you I would leave a few words of exhortation, and I have done.

First, Admire and stand amaz'd at this mercy. I will praise thee O Lord, (saith the Church Isai. 12. 1.) though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortest me. O how overwhelming a mercy is here before you! God is at peace, at peace with you that were enemies in your minds by wicked works, Colos. 1. 21. at peace with you, and at enmity with Millions as good by nature as you: at peace with you that sought it not: at peace for ever, no dissolving this friendship for ever­more. O let this Consideration thaw your hearts before the Lord and make you cry, What am I Lord that mercy should take in me, and shut out fallen Angels, and mil­lions of men and women as capable of mercy as my self! O the riches! O the depths of the mercy and goodness of God!

Secondly, Beware of New breaches with God: God will speak peace to his people and to his Saints, but let not them return any more to folly, Psal. 85. 8. What if this state of friendship can never be dissolved, yet it is a dreadful thing to have it clouded: you may lose the sense of peace, and with it all the joy of your hearts and comforts of your lives in this world.

[Page 67] Thirdly, Labour to reconcile others to God, Especially those that are endeared to you by the bonds of Natural rela­tion: When Paul was reconciled to God himself, his heart was full of heaviness for others that were not recon­ciled, for his brethren and kinsinen according to the flesh, Rom. 9. 2, 3. When Abraham was become Gods friend himself, then, O that Ishmael might live before thee! Gen. 17. 18.

Fourthly and Lastly, let your reconciliation with God re­lieve you under all burdens of affliction you shall meet with in your way to heaven: let them that are at enmity with God droop under Crosses and afflictions, but don't you do so. Tranquillus deus tranquillat omnia. Rom. 5. 1, 2, 3. Let the peace of God keep your hearts and minds. As nothing can comfort a man that must to Hell at last, so nothing should deject a man that shall through many troubles win heaven at last.

The Fourth SERMON. Serm. 4.

Joh. 6. 44. Explaining the work of the Spirit, as the inter­nal & most effectual means of the Appli­cation of Christ.‘No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me, draw him.’

OUR last discourse informed you of the usefulness & influence of the preaching of the Gospel in order to the Application of Christ to the souls of men: there must be (in Gods Ordinary way) the ex­ternal ministerial offer of Christ, before men can have Uni­on with him.

But yet all the preaching in the world can never effect this Union with Christ, in it self, and in its own vertue, except a supernatural and mighty power go forth with it for that end and purpose. Let Boanerges and Barnabas try their strength, let the Angels of heaven be the preachers; till God draw, the soul cannot come to Christ.

No saving benefit is to be had by Christ without Union with his person, no Union with his person without faith, no faith ordinarily wrought without the preaching of the Gos­pel by Christs Ambassadors, their preaching hath no saving efficacy without Gods drawings; as will evidently appear [Page 69] by considering these words and the occasion of them.

The occasion of these words is found (as Learned Came­ron well observes) in the 42. verse. And they said, Is not this Je­sus Cameronis My­rothes. p. 139. the son of Joseph, whose Father and Mother we know? Christ had been pressing upon them in his ministry the great and necessary duty of faith, but notwithstanding the Authority of the preacher, the holiness of his life, the miracles by which he confirmed his doctrine, they still objected against him, is not this the Carpenters. Son? from whence Christ takes the oc­casion of these words: No man can come unto me except my Father which hath sent me draw him: q. d. In vain is the Authority of my person urged, in vain are all the miracles wrought in your sight to confirm the doctrine preached to you, till that secret almighty power of the Spirit be put forth upon your hearts, you will not, you cannot come un­to me.

The words are a Negative proposition.

In which the Author and powerful manner of divine ope­ration in working faith are contained: there must be draw­ing before believing, and that drawing must be the draw­ing of God: every word hath its weight, we will consider them in the order they lye in the Text.

[...]—No man] not one, let his Natural qualifications be what they will, let his external advantages in respect of means and helps be never so great: it is not in the power of any man: all persons in all ages need the same power of God, one as well as another: every man is alike dead, im­potent, and averse to faith in his Natural Capacity. No man, or—not one, among all the sons of men.

[...]—Can] or is able: he speaks of impotency to special and saving actions, such as believing in Christ is: no act that is saving can be done without the concurrence of special grace. Other acts that have a remote tendency to it, are performed by a more general concourse and common as­sistance, so men may come to the word, and attend what is spoken, remember, and consider what the word tells them; but as to believing or coming to Christ, that no man can do of himself, or by a general and common assistance. No man can

[Page 70] [...],—come unto me] (i. e.) believe in me un­to Salvation. Coming to Christ, and believing in him are terms aequipollent, and are indifferently used to express the nature of saving faith, as is plain from ver. 35. he that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst: it notes the terms from which, and to which the soul moves, and the voluntariness of the motion, notwithstanding that di­vine power by which the will is drawn to Christ.

[...]Except my Father] not excluding the other two persons, for every work of God relating to the Creatures is common to all the three persons, nor only to note that the Father is the first in order of working: but the reason is hinted in the next words,

[...]who hath sent me] God having entred into Covenant with the son and sent him, stands obliged by that paction to bring the promised seed to him, and that he doth by drawing them to Christ by faith: so the next words tell us the Father doth

[...]draw him] that is powerfully and effectu­ally incline his will to come to Christ: not by a violent coacti­on, Non violenta coactio [...]mmedi­ata, sed volun­tatis à deo a­aversae henevo­la flectio. Glas. Rhet: Sacra. p. 2 [...]6. but by a benevolent bending of the will which was averse; and as it is not in the way of force and compulsion, so neither is it by a simple moral suasion, by the bare propo­sal of an object to the will, and so leaving the sinner to his own election, but it is such a persuasion as hath a migh­ty overcoming efficacy accompanying it: of which more anon.

The words thus opened the Observation will be this:

Doct.

That it is utterly impossible for any man to come to Jesus Christ Doct. unless he be drawn unto him by the special and mighty power of God.

No man is compelled to come to Christ against his will, he that cometh, comes willingly, but even that will and de­sire to come is the effect of grace: Phil. 2. 13. It is God that worketh in you both to will, and to do, of his own good pleasure.

[Page 71] If we desire the help and assistance of grace (saith Ful­gentius) Ut ergo deside­remus adjuto­rium, hoc quo­que est gratiae; ipsa namque incipit effundi, ut incipiat po­sci. Fulgen. Epist. 6. ad Theod. even the desire is of grace; grace must first be shed forth upon us before we can begin to desire it: by grace are y [...] saved through faith, and that not of your selves, it is the gift of God, Eph. 2. 8. suppose the utmost degree of natural abi­lity, let a man be as much disposed and prepared as nature can dispose or prepare him, and to all this add the proposal of the greatest arguments and motives to induce him to come; let all these have the advantage of the fittest sea­son to work upon his heart; yet no man can come till God draw him: we move as we are moved; as Christs coming to us, so our coming to him are the pure effects of grace.

Three things require Explication in this point be­fore us.

First, What the drawing of the Father imports.
Secondly, In what manner he draws men to Christ.
Thirdly, How it appears that none can come till they be so drawn.

First, What the drawing of the Father imports.

To open this, let it be considered, that drawing is usually 1. distinguisht into Physical and Moral. The former is either by coaction, force, and compulsion, or by a sweet congru­ous efficacy upon the will: as to violence and compulsion it is none of Gods way and Method, it being both against the nature of the will of man which cannot be forced, and against the will of Jesus Christ who loves to reign over a free and willing people, Psal. 110. 4. The people shall be wil­ling in the day of thy power: or as that word may be ren­dred, they shall be voluntarinesses, as willing as willingness it self: it is not then by a forcible coaction, but in a Mo­ral way of perswasion that God the Father draws men to Jesus Christ: he draws with the bands of a man, as they are called, Hosea 11. 14. (i. e.) in a way of rational conviction of the mind and Conscience, and effectual perswasion of the will.

But yet by Moral perswasion we must not understand a sim­ple and bare proposal or tender of Christ and grace, lea­ving it still at the sinners choice whether he will comply [Page 72] with it or no, Non videmus deum concion­autem, scriben­tem, docentem, tamen ac si vi­demus, credi­mus, habet enim omn is veritas vim inclinati­vam, & major, majorem; & maxima, maxi­mam: sed cur ergo non omnes credunt evan­gelio? Respon­deo, quod non omnes trahun­tur a deo. Ba­ptist. Mantua­nus de pati­entia, lib. 3. cap. 2. for though God do not force the will con­trary to its nature, yet there is a real internal efficiency implyed in this drawing, or an immediate operation of the Spirit upon the heart and will which in a way Congruous and suitable to its nature takes away the rebellion and re­luctance of it, and of unwilling makes it willing to come to Christ: and in this respect we own a physical as well as a Moral influence of the Spirit in this work: and so the Scri­pture expresses it, Eph. 1. 19, 20. that we may know what is the exceeding greatness of his power towards us who believe, ac­cording to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead: here is much more than a naked proposal made to the will, there is a power as well as a tender, greatness of power, and yet more, the exceeding greatness of his power; and this power hath an actual efficiency ascribed to it, he works upon our hearts and wills according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead: thus he fulfills in us all the good pleasure of his will, and the work of faith with power, 2 Thes. 1. 11.

And this is that which the Schools call gratia efficax, effe­ctual grace, and others victrix delectatio an overcoming con­quering Coelestis qu e­dam & ineffa­bilis suavitas. Jansenius Aug. Lib. 4. cap. 1. delight: thus the work is carried on with a most efficacious sweetness. So that the liberty of the will is not infringed, whilst the obstinacy of the will is effectually sub­dued and over-ruled: for want of this there are so many almost Christians in the world, hence are all those vanishing imperfect works which come to nothing, call'd in Scri­pture a morning cloud, an early dew: had this mighty power gone forth with the word, they had never vanished, or pe­rished like Embryos as they do: So then, God draws not only in a moral way by proposing a suitable object to the will, but also in a physical way, or by immediate powerful influence upon the will: not infringing the Liberty of it; but yet infallibly and effectually perswading it to come to Christ.

Secondly, Next let us consider the marvellous way and 2. manner in which the Lord draws the souls of poor sinners to Jesus Christ; and you will find he doth it

  • [Page 73] 1. Gradually,
  • 2. Congruously,
  • 3. Powerfully,
  • 4. Effectually, and
  • 5. Finally.

First, This blessed work is carried on by the Spirit gra­dually, bringing the soul step by step in the due method and order of the Gospel to Christ: illumination, conviction, compunction prepare the way to Christ; and then faith unites the soul to him: without humiliation there can be no faith, Mat. 21. 32. ye repented not, that ye might believe: 'tis the burdensome sense of sin that brings the soul to Christ for rest, Mat. 11. 28. come unto me ye that are weary and heavy laden: but without Conviction there can be no Compunction, no hu­miliation; he that is not convinced of his sin and misery, ne­ver bewails it nor mourns for it: never was there one tear of true repentance seen to drop from the eye of an uncon­vinced sinner.

And without illumination there can be no Conviction, for what is Conviction but the application of the light which is in the understanding or mind of a man to his heart and Con­science? Acts 2. 37. In this order therefore the Spirit (or­dinarily) draws souls to Christ, he shines into their minds by illumination, applys that light to their Consciences by effectual Conviction, breaks and wounds their hearts for sin in Compunction, and then moves the will to embrace and close with Christ in the way of Faith for life and sal­vation.

These several steps are more distinctly discerned in some Christians than in others; they are more clearly to be seen in the Adult Convert, than those that were drawn to Christ in their youth; in such as were drawn to him out of a state of prophaneness, than those that had the advantage of a pious education; but in this order the work is carried on ordinari­ly in all, however it differ in point of clearness in the one, and in the other.

Secondly, He draws sinners to Christ Congruously, and ve­ry agreeably to the nature and way of man. So he speaks, [Page 74] Hosea 11. 4. I drew them with the cords of a man, with bands Fu [...]ibus ho­minum (i. e.) humanis: n [...] quibus trahi ac deduci so­lent boves. of love: not as beasts are drawn, but as men are inclined and wrought to complyance by rational Conviction of their Judgements, and powerful perswasion of their wills; the minds of sinners are naturally blinded by ignorance, 2 Cor. 4. 3, 4. and their affections bewitched to their Lusts, Gal. 3. 4. and whilst it is thus, no arguments of intreaties can possibly prevail to bring them off from the ways of sin to Christ.

The way therefore which the Lord takes to win and draw them to Christ, is by rectifying their false apprehensions, and shewing them infinitely more good in Christ than in the Creature, and in their Lusts, yea, by satisfying their under­standings that there is goodness enough in Jesus Christ, to whom he is drawing them,

First, To outbid all temporal good, which is to be deni­ed for his sake.

Secondly, To preponderate all temporal evils which are to be suffered for his sake.

First, That there is more good in Christ than in all tem­poral good things, which we are to deny or forsake upon his account: this being once clearly and convincingly discove­red to the understanding, the will is thereby prepared to quit all that which entangles and with holds it from coming to Christ: there is no man that loves money so much, but he will willingly part with it for that which is more worth to him than the sum he parts with to purchase it: Matth. 13. 45, 46. The Kingdome of heaven is like to a Merchant man, seeking goodly Pearls, who when he hath found one Pearl of great price, goeth and selleth all that he hath and buyeth it.

Such an invaluable Pearl is Jesus Christ, infinitely more worth than all that a poor sinner hath to part with for him, and is a more real good than the creature. These are but vain shadows, Prov. 23. 5. Christ is a solid substantial good: yea, he is, and by Conviction appears to be a more suitable good than the creature: the world cannot justifie and save, but Christ can. Christ is a more necessary good than the creature, this is for our temporal Conveniency, but he of eternal necessity. He is a more Durable good than any crea­ture [Page 75] comfort is or can be: the fashion of this world passeth away, 1 Cor. 7. 31. but durable riches and righteousness are in him, Prov. 8. 17. Thus Christ appears in the day of con­viction infinitely more excellent than the world, he out-bids all the offers that the world can make, and this gives the main stroke to this work, of drawing a Soul to Jesus Christ.

Secondly, And then (to remove every block out of the way to Christ) God discovers to the Soul enough in him to preponderate and much more than recompence all the evils and sufferings it can endure for his sake.

'Tis true, they that close with Christ, close with his cross also: they must expect to save no more but their souls by him: he tells us what we must trust to, Luke 14. 26, 27. If any man come to me, and hate not his Father and Mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters; yea, and his own life also; he cannot be my disciple: and whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

To read such a Text as this with such a Comment upon it as Satan and our own flesh can make, is enough to scare a man from Christ for ever: nor is it possible by all the arguments in the world to draw any soul to Christ upon such terms as these, till the Lord convince it, that there is enough, and much more than enough in Jesus Christ to recompence all these sufferings and losses we endure for him.

But when the soul is satisfied that these sufferings are but external upon the vile body, but the benefit that comes by Christ is internal in a mans-own soul, These afflictions are but temporal, Rom. 8. 18. but Christ and his benefits are eter­nal: this must need prevail with the will to come over to Christ notwithstanding all the evils of suffering that accom­pany him, when the reality of all this is discovered by the Lord, and the power of God goes along with these discove­ries. Thus the Lord draws in our own way, by rational Convictions of the understanding and allurements of the will.

And it's possible this may be the reason why some poor souls mis-judge the workings of the Spirit of God upon them selves, thinking they never had that wonderful and mighty power of God in conversion acting upon their hearts, be­cause [Page 76] they find all that is done upon their hearts that way, is done in the ordinary course and method of Nature: they consi­der, compare, are convinced, and then resolve to choose Christ and his ways; whereas they expect to feel some strange opera­tions that shall have the visible Characters of the immediate power of God upon them, and such a power they might dis­cern, if they would consider it as working in this way and me­thod: but they cannot distinguish Gods acts from their own, and that puzzles them.

Thirdly, The drawings of the Father are very powerful. The arm of the Lord is revealed in this work, Isa. 53. 1. It was a powerful word indeed that made the light at first shine out of darkness, and no less power is required to make it shine into our hearts, 2 Cor. 5. 14. That day in which the soul is made willing to come to Christ, is call'd the day of his power, Psal. 110. 3. The Scripture expresseth the work of conversion by a threefold Metaphor. viz.

That of a resurrection from the dead, Rom. 6. 4.

That of Creation, Ephes. 2. 10. And

That of Victory or Conquest, 2 Cor. 10. 4, 5. All these set forth the infinite power of God in this work, for no less than almighty power is required to each of them; and if you strictly examine the distinct notions, you shall find the power of God more and more illustriously display'd in each of them.

To raise the dead is the effect of almighty power, but then there surrection suppseth pre-existent matter. In the work of creation, there is no pre-existent matter, but then there is no op­position: that which is not, rebels not against the power that gives it being. But Victory and Conquest supposes oppo­sition, all the power of corrupt Nature arming it self and fighting against God, but yet not able to frustrate his design.

Let the soul whom the father draws struggle and reluctate S [...]avis motus in verbo, & sor­tis tractus in Deo. Est enim quae­dam necessitas vuluntaria. Moulin. Anat. Ar [...]in. as much as it can, it shall come, yea, and come willingly too, when the drawing power of God is upon it. O the self-conflicts, the contrary resolves with which the soul finds it self distracted and rent asunder! the hopes and fears, the incouragements and discouragements, they will, and they will not! but victorious grace conquers [Page 77] all opposition at last. We find an excellent example of this in blessed Augustine Ita due vo­luntates [...], una vetus, alia nov [...], illa car­nalis, illa spi­ritualis confli­gibant inter se at (que) discor­dando dissipa­bant animam medan.—ibi enim magis jam non ego, quia ex magna par­te id patiebar invitus, quod [...] faciebam vo­lens. Aug. con­fess. lib. 8. c. 5. who speaks of this very work, the draw­ing of his soul to Christ, and how he f [...]lt in that day two wills in himself, one old, the other ne [...]; one carnal, the other spiritual, and how in these their contrary moti­ons and conflicts he was torn asunder in his own thoughts and resolutions, suffering that unwillingly, which he did willingly. And certainly if we consider how deep the soul is rooted by natural inclination, and long continu­ed custome in sin, how extreamly averse it is to the ways of strict godliness and mortification, how Satan that invidious enemy, that strong man armed fortifies the soul to defend his possession against Christ, and intrenches himself in the understanding, will, and affections; by deep rooted pre­judices against Christ and holiness, it is the wonder of won­ders to see a soul quitting all its beloved lusts and fleshly in­terests and endearments, and coming willingly under Christs yoak.

Fourthly, The drawings of God are very effectual: there is indeed a Common and ineffectual work upon hypocrites and Apostates, call'd in Scripture a morning cloud, an early dew, Hosea 6. 4. these may believe for a time, and fall away at last, Luke 8. 13. their wills may be half won, they may be drawn half way to Christ, and return again. So it was with Agrippa, Acts 26. 28. [...], within a very little Suadere est co­nantis, persua­dere efficientis: suadet qui con­sulit, persuadit qui quo vult inducit homi­nem. Erasm. thou perswadest me to be a Christian: but in Gods elected ones it is effectual: their wills are not only almost, but alto­gether perswaded to embrace Christ, and quit the ways of sin, how pleasant, gainful and dear soever they have been to them: the Lord not only draws, but draws home those souls to Christ, Joh. 6. 37. all that the Father hath given me, shall come to me.

It is confessed, that in the drawing home of the very elect to Christ, there may be and frequently are many pauses, stands, and demurrs, they have convictions, affections and resolutions stirring in them, which like early blossoms seem to be nipt and dye away again. There is frequently (in young ones especially) an hopeful appearance of grace, they make conscience of sins, and duties: they have sometimes notable rouzings and awakenings under the word, they are observed [Page 78] to affect retirements for meditation and prayer, and de­light to be in the company of Christians, and after all this, youthful lusts and vanities are found to stifle and choak these hopeful beginnings, and the work seems to stand (it may be some years) at a pause, however at last the Lord makes it victorious over all opposition, and sets it home with power upon their hearts.

Fifthly, To conclude, Those whom the Father draws to Christ he draws to him finally and for ever. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance, Rom. 11. 29. They are so as to God the giver, he never repents that he hath called his people into the fellowship of his Son Christ Jesus: and they are so on the believers part, he is never sorry, whatever he afterwards meets with, that he is come to Christ.

There is a time when Christians are drawn to Christ, but there shall never be a time in which they shall be drawn away from Christ, Joh. 10. 29. there's no plucking them out of the Fathers hand. It was common to a Proverb in the Primitive times; when they would express an impossibili­ty, you may as soon draw a Christian from Christ, as do it: when Christ asked that question of the disciples, Will ye also go away? Lord (saith Peter in the name of them all) to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life; Joh. 6. 68. They that are thus drawn do with full purpose of heart cleave un­to the Lord. And thus of the manner and quality of effectual drawing.

Thirdly, In the last place, I am to evince the impossibility of coming to Christ without the Fathers drawings: and this [...]. will evidently appear upon the consideration of these two particulars.

First, The difficulty of this work is above all the power of nature to overcome.

Secondly, That little power and abili [...]y that nature hath, it will never employ to such a purpose as this, till the draw­ing power of God be upon the will of a sinner.

First, If all the power of nature were imploy'd in this de­sign, yet such are the difficulties of this work, that it sur­mounts all the abilities of nature: this the Scripture roundly and plainly affirms, Eph. 2. 8. by grace are ye saved through [Page 79] faith, and that not of your selves, it is the gift of God. To think of Christ is easie, but to come to Christ is (to nature) impossible: to send forth lazy and ineffectual wishes to Christ we may; but to bring Christ and the soul together requires the almighty power of God, Eph. 1. 19. The grace of faith by which we come to Christ, is as much the free gift of God, as Christ himself who is the object of faith, Phil. 1. 29. to you it is freely given to believe. And this will easi­ly let it self into your understandings if you but con­sider

theSubject,of this work of faith or coming to Christ.
Act, and
Enemies

First, Consider the Subject of faith in which it is wrought, or what it is that is drawn to Christ: 'tis the heart of a sin­ner: 1. which is naturally as indisposed to this work as the wood which Elijah laid in order upon the Altar was to catch fire, when he had poured so much water upon it as did not only wet the wood, but also fill'd up the trench round about it, 1. Kings 18. 33. For it's naturally a dark, blind, and igno­rant heart, Job 11. 12. and such an heart can never believe, till he that commanded the light to shine out of darkness, do shine into it, 2 Cor. 5. 14.

Nor will it avail any thing to say, though man be born in darkness and ignorance, yet afterwards he may acquire knowledge in the use of means, as we see many natural men do in a very high degree: for this is not that light that brings the soul to Christ, yea, this natural unsanctified light blinds the soul and prejudices it more against Christ than ever it was before, 1 Cor. 1. 21, 26.

As it is a blind and ignorant heart, so it's a selfish heart by nature: all its designs and aims terminate in Self: this is the Centre and weight of the soul, no righteousness but its own is sought after, that, or none, Rom. 10. 3. now for a soul to renounce and deny Self in all its forms, modes, and interests, as every one doth that cometh to Christ; To disclaim and deny natural, moral, and religious Self and come to Christ, as a poor, miserable, wretched, empty creature; to live upon [Page 80] his righteousness for ever, is as supernatural and wonder­ful, as to see the hills and mountains start from their ba­ses and Centres, and flye like wandering Atomes in the Air.

Nay this heart which is to come to Christ is not only dark and selfish, but full of pride. O'tis a desperate proud heart by nature, it cannot submit to come to Christ as Benhadads servants came to the King of Israel with sackcloath on their loyns, and ropes upon their heads. To take guilt, shame and con­fusion of face to our selves, and acknowledge the righteous­ness of God in our eternal damnation; to come to Christ naked and empty as one that justifies the ungodly; I say na­ture left to it self, would as soon be damned as do this: the proud heart can never come to this, till the Lord have hum­bled and broken it by his power.

Secondly, Let us take the Act of faith into consideration also, as it is here described, by the souls coming to Jes [...]s 2. Christ, and you will find a necessity of the Fathers drawings, for this evidently implies that which is against the stream and current of corrupt nature, and that which is above the Sphere and capacity of the most refined and accomplished nature.

First, It's against the Stream and Current of our corrupt na­ture to come to Christ. For let us but consider the Term from which the soul departs when it comes to Christ. In that day it leaves all its lusts and ways of sin, how pleasant, sweet and profitable soever they have been unto it. Isa. 55. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord: way and thoughts, (i. e.) both the practice and delight of sin, must be forsaken, the out­ward and inward man must be cleansed from it. Now there are in the bosomes of unregenerate men such darling Lusts, that have given them so much practical, and speculative plea­sure, which have brought so much profit to them, which have been born and bred up with them, and which upon all these accounts are endeared to their souls to that degree; that it's easier for them to dye, than to forsake them: yea, nothing is more common among such men, than to venture eternal damnation, rather than suffer a separation from their sins.

[Page 81] And which is yet much more difficult in coming to Christ, the soul forsakes not only its sinful self, but its righteous self: (i. e.) not only its worst sins, but its best performances, accomplish­ments, and excellencies. Now this is one of the greatest straits that Nature can be put to: righteousness by works was the first liquor that ever was put into the vessel, and it still retains the tang and savour of it, and will to the end of the world. Rom. 10. 3. For they being ignorant os Gods righte­ousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. [...], they have not submitted: to come naked and empty to Christ and receive all from him as a free gift, is to proud corrupt nature, the greatest abasement and submission in the world.

Let the gospel furnish its Table with the richest and costliest dainties that ever the blood of Christ purchased, such is the pride of nature, that it disdains to tast them; except it may also pay the reckoning. If the old Hive be removed from the place where it was wont to stand, the Bees will come home to the old place, yea, and many of them you shall find will dye there, rather than go to the Hive though it stand in a far better place than it did before. Just so stands the case with men. The Hive is removed, (i. e.) we are no more to expect righteousness as Adam did, by obeying and working, but by believing, and coming to Christ; but nature had as lieve be damned as do this: it still goes about to establish its own righteousness.

Vertues, Duties, and Moral excellencies these are the Or­naments of nature, here is Nature set off in its sumptuous attire and rich embellishments, and now to renounce it, dis­claim and contemn it as dross and dung in comparison of Christ as believers do, Phil. 3. 8. this I say is against the grain of nature. We reckon it the strange effect of self de­nyal in Mahomet the Great, who being so enamoured with his beautiful Irene, would be perswaded upon reasons of Knowles Hi­story of the Turks. State with his own hand to strike off her head, and that when she appeared in all her rich ornaments before him, rather like such a Goddess as the Poets in their ecstasies use to feign, than a mortal creature: and yet certainly this nothing is to that self denyal which is exercised in our coming to Christ.

[Page 82] Secondly, And if we look to the other Term to which the soul moves, we shall find it acting as much above the Sphere and ability of improved Nature as here it acts and moves against the stream and current of corrupted nature: for how wonderful and supernatural an adventure is that which the soul makes in the day that it comes to Jesus Christ!

Surely for any poor soul to venture it self for ever upon Jesus Christ whom it never saw, nay, upon Christ whose very existence its own unbelief calls into question whether he be, or no: and that when it's even weighed down to the dust with the burdensome sense of its own vileness and to­tal unworthiness, feeling nothing in it self but sin and mise­ry, the workings of death and fears of wrath: to go to Christ of whose pardoning grace and mercy it never had any the least experience, nor can find any ground of hope in it self that it shall be accepted; this is as much above the power of nature, as it is for a stone to rise from the earth and fix it self among the Stars: well might the Apostle ascribe it to that almighty power which raised up Christ from the dead, Eph. 1. 19, 20. if the Lord draw not the Soul, and that with an omnipotent pull, it can never come from it self to Christ. And yet farther,

Thirdly, The Natural impossibility of coming to Christ will more clearly appear, if we consider the enemies to faith, or what blocks are roll'd by Satan and his instruments into the way to Christ: to mention (in this place) no more, but our own carnal reason as it's armed and managed by the subtilty of Satan; what a wonder is it that any soul should come to Christ?

These are the strong holds (mentioned 2 Cor. 10. 4.) out of which those objections, fears and discouragements sal­ly, by which the soul is fiercely assaulted in the way to Christ.

Wilt thou forsake all thy pleasures, merry company, and sensible comforts to live a sad, retired, pensive life? wilt thou begger and undo thy self, let go thy comforts in hand for an hope of that which thine eyes never saw, nor hast thou any certainty that it's any more than a fancy? wilt thou that hast lived in reputation and credit all thy life, now be­come [Page 83] the scorn and contempt of the world? thinkest thou thy self able to live such a strict, severe, mortified and self­denying a life, as the word of God requires? and what if persecution should arise, (as thou must expect it will) canst thou forsake father and mother, wife and children, yea, and give up thine own life too to a cruel and bloody death? be advised better before thou resolve in so important a matter: what thinkest thou of thy fore-fathers, that lived and dyed in that way thou art now leaving? art thou wiser than they? do not the generality of men walk in the same paths thou hast hitherto walked in? if this way lead to hell as thou fearest it may; think then how many millions of men must perish as well as thy self, and is such a supposi­tion consistent with the gracious and merciful nature of God? Besides, think what sort of people those are unto whom thou art about to joyn thy self in this new way? are there not to be found among them many things to dis­courage thee and cool thy zeal? they are generally of the lower and baser sort of men, poor and despicable: seest thou not though their profession be holy, how earthly, carnal, proud, factious, and hypocritical ma­ny of them are found to be! and doubtless the rest are like them, though their hypocrisie be not yet dis­covered.

O what stands, and demurrs! what hesitations, and doubts is the soul clog'd with in its way to Christ! but yet none of these can with-hold and detain the soul; when the Father draws: greater is he that is in us, than he that is in the world: and thus you see the nature, manner, and efficacy of divine drawings, and how impossible it is for any Soul to come to Christ without them.

The Inferences and Improvements of the point fol­low.

Infer. 1.

How deeply and throughly is the nature of man corrupted, and Infer. 1. what an enemy is every man to his own happiness, that he must be drawn to it? Joh. 5. 40. you will not come unto me that ye might have life.

[Page 84] Life is desirable in every mans eyes, and eternal is the most excellent life; yet in this the world is agreed rather to dye and perish for ever than come to Christ for life. Had Christ told us of Fields and Vineyards, Sheep and Oxen, Gold and Silver, honours and sensual pleasures, who would not have come to him for these? but to tell them of mortification, self-denyal, strictness of life, and sufferings for his sake, and all this for an happiness to be enjoyed in the world to come, nature will never like such a proposition as this.

You see where it sticks, not in a simple inability to believe, but in an inability complicated with enmity, they neither can come, nor will come to Christ: 'tis true, all that do come to Christ come willingly, but thanks to the grace of God that hath freed and perswaded the will, else they had never been wil­ling to come: who ever found his own heart first stir and move towards Christ? how long may we wait and expect before we shall feel our hearts naturally burn with desires after, and love to Jesus Christ?

This aversation of the will and affections from God is one of the master roots of original sin. No argument can prevail to bring the soul to Christ, till this be master'd and overpowred by the Fathers drawings. In our motions to sin we need trig­ging: but in all our motions to Christ we as much need draw­ing. He that comes to heaven may say, Lord if I had had my own way and will I had never come here: if thou hadst not drawn me I should never have come to thee. O the riches of the grace of God! oh unparallel'd mercy and good­ness! not only to prepare such a glory as this for an unworthy soul, but to put forth the exceeding greatness of thy power afterwards to draw an unwilling soul to the enjoyment of it!

Inference 2.

What enemies are they to God and the souls of men, that do all they can to discourage and hinder the Conversion of men to Christ? Infer. 2. God draws forward, and these do all that in them lyes to draw back­ward, (i. e.) to prejudice and discourage them from coming to Jesus Christ in the way of faith: this is a direct opposition to God, and a plain Confederacy with the Devil.

[Page 85] O how many have been thus discouraged in their way to Christ, by their carnal relations, I cannot say friends! their greatest enemies have been the men of their own house: these have pleaded (as if the Devil had hired and fee'd them) against the everlasting welfare of their own flesh. O cruel parents, brethren, and sisters; that jeer, frown, and threa­ten; where they should encourage, assist and rejoyce! such parents are the Devils children. Satan chuses such instruments as you are above all others for this work: he knows that influence and authority you have upon them, and over them: and what fear, love, and dependance they have for you, and upon you: so that none in all the world are like to manage the design of their damnation so effectually as you are like to do it.

Will you neither come to Christ your selves, nor suffer your dear relations that would? had you rather find them in the Ale-house, than in the Closet? did you instrumentally give them their being, and will you now be the instruments of ruining for ever those beings they had from you? did you so earnestly desire children, so tenderly nurse and provide for them, take such delight in them, and after all this do what in you lies to damn and destroy them? if these lines shall fall into any such hands, O that God would set home the conviction and sense of this horrid evil upon their hearts.

And no less guilty of this sin are scandalous and Ioose pro­fessors who serve to furnish the Devil with the greatest argu­ments he hath to dissuade men from coming to Christ: 'tis your looseness and hypocrisie by which he hopes to scare others from Christ. It's said Cant. 2. 7. I charge you by the Roes and Hinds of the field, that ye stir not up nor awake my belo­ved till he please.

Roes and Hinds (like young Converts, and comers to­wards Christ) are shy and timerous Creatures that start at the least sound, or yelp of a dog; and flye away: take heed what you do in this case, lest you go down to hell under the guilt of damning more souls than your own.

Infer. 3.

Learn hence the true ground and reason of those strange, ama­zing, and supernatural effects that you behold and so admire in the Infer. 3. world, as often as you see sinners for saking their pleasant profitable corruptions and companions, and embracing the ways of Christ, god­liness, and mortification.

It is said 1 Pet. 4. 4. they think it strange that you run not with them into the same excess of riot: the word is [...], they stand at a gaze as the hen that hath hatcht Patridge eggs doth, when she sees them take the wing and flye away from her.

Beloved, it is the worlds wonder to see their Compani­ons in sin forsake them: those that were once as pro­phane and vain as themselves, it may be more, to forsake their society, retire into their Closets, mourn for sin, spend their time in meditation and prayer, embrace the seve­rest duties, and content to run the greatest hazards in the world for Christ; but they see not that almighty pow­er that draws them, which is too strong for all the sinful tyes and engagements in the world to with-hold and detain them.

A man would have wonder'd to see Elisha leave the Oxen and run after Elijah saying, Let me go I pray thee and kiss my Father and my Mother; and then I will follow thee; when Elijah had said nothing to persuade him to follow him, only as he past by him he cast his mantle on him, 1 Kings 10. 19, 20. Surely, that soul whom God draws must needs leave all and fol­low Christ, for the power of God resteth on it: all carnal tyes and engagements to sin break and give way when the Fa­ther draws the soul to Christ in the day of his power.

Inference 4.

Is this the first spring of spiritual motion after Christ? learn then from hence how it comes to pass that so many excellent Sermons and Infer. 4. powerful persuasions are ineffectual, and cannot draw or win one soul to Christ. Surely it is because ministers draw alone, and the special saving power of God goes not forth at all times alike with their endeavours.

[Page 87] Paul was a chosen Vessel, fill'd with a greater measure of gifts and graces by the Spirit than any that went before him, or followed after him; and as his talents so his diligence in improving them was beyond any recorded example we read of amongst men: he rather * flew like a Seraphim than travel­led upon his masters errand about the world. Apollo was an [...]. Chrysost. eloquent preacher and mighty in the Scriptures, yet Paul is nothing, and Apollo nothing; but God that gives the increase, 1 Cor. 3. 7. We are too apt to admire men, yea, and the best men are but too apt to go forth in the strength of their own parts and preparations; but God secures his own glory, and magnifies his own power frequently in giving success to weak­er endeavours, and men of lower abilities, when he with­holds it from men of more raised; refined, and excellent gifts and abilities.

It is our great honour who are the ministers of the Gospel that we are [...] workers together with God, 1 Cor. 3. 9. in his strength we can prevail, the weapons of our warfare are migh­ty through God, 2 Cor. 10. 4. but if his presence, blessing and assistance be not with us we are nothing, we can do no­thing.

If we prepare diligently; pray heartily, preach zealously, and our hearers go as they came without any spiritual effects and fruits of our labours; what shall we say, but as Martha said to Christ, Lord if thou hadst been here my Brother had not dyed: had the Spirit of God gone forth with his especial efficacy and blessing with this prayer, or that Sermon; these souls had not departed dead and senseless from under it.

Infer. 5.

Doth all success and efficacy depend upon the Fathers draw­ings? Infer. 5. Let none then despair of their unregenerate and car­nal relations, over whose obstinacy they do, and have cause to mourn.

What if they have layen as many years under the preach­ing of the Gospel as that poor man did at the pool of Be­thesda, and hitherto to no purpose? a time may come at last (as it did for him) when the Spirit of God may move upon [Page 88] the waters, I mean, put a quickening and converting power into the means, and then the desire of your souls for them shall be fulfill'd.

It may be you have poured out many prayers and tears to the Lord for them, you have cryed for them as Abraham for his Son, O that Ishmael might live before thee! O that this poor husband, wise, child, brother or sister might live in thy sight, and still you see they contain at one rate, carnal, dead and senseless: well, but yet give not up your hopes, nor cease your pious endeavours, the time may come when the Father may draw as well as you, and then you shall see them quit all and come to Christ, and nothing shall hinder them. They are now drawn away of their own lusts, they are easily drawn away by their sinful Compa­nions, but when God draws, none of these shall with­draw them from the Lord Jesus. What is their igno­rance, obstinacy, and hardness of heart before that migh­ty power that subdues all things to it self? Go therefore to the Lord by prayer for them, and say, Lord I have laboured for my poor relations in vain, I have spent my exhortations to little purpose: the work is too difficult for me, I can carry it no farther, but thou canst; O let thy power go forth, they shall be willing in the day of thy power.

Infer. 6.

If none can come to Christ except the Father draw them, then surely none can be drawn from Christ except the Father leave Infer. 6. them: that power which at first drew them to Christ, can secure and establish them in Christ to the end. Joh. 10. 29. my Father which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Fathers hand.

When the power of God at first draws us out of our na­tural state to Christ, it sinds us not only impotent, but obstinate, not only unable but unwilling to come; and yet this power of God prevails against all opposition: how much more is it able to preserve and secure us, when his fear is put into our inward parts, so that we dare [...]t depart, we have no will to depart from him? Well then, [Page 89] if the world say I will ensnare thee; if the Devil say I will destroy thee, if the flesh say I will betray thee, yet thou art secure and safe as long as God hath said I will never leave thee nor for sake thee, Heb. 13. 5.

Infer. 7.

Let this engage you to a constant attendance upon the ordinances Infer. 7. of God in which this drawing power of God is sometimes put forth upon the hearts of men.

Beloved, there are certain seasons in which the Lord comes nigh to men in the Ordinances and Duties of his wor­ship, and we know not at what time the Lord cometh forth by his Spirit upon this design: he many times comes in an hour when we look not for him, when we think not of him, I am found of them that sought me not, Isa. 65. 1. it's good therefore to be found in the way of the Spirit: had that poor man that lay so long at the pool of Bethesda rea­soned thus with himself, so long have I lain here in vain ex­pecting a cure, it's to no purpose to wait longer, and so had been absent at that very time when the Angel came down, he had in all likelihood carryed his disease to the grave with him.

How dost thou know but this very Sabbath, this Sermon, this prayer which thou hast no heart to attend, and art tempted to neglect; may be the season, and instrument wherein the Lord may do that for thy soul which was never yet done upon it?

Infer. 8.

To conclude, how are all the Saints engaged to put forth all the Infer. 8. power and ability they have for God, who hath put forth his in­finite almighty power to draw them to Christ!

God hath done great things for your souls, he hath drawn you out of the miserable state of sin and wrath, and that when he let others go, by nature as good as you, he hath drawn you into Union with Christ, and Communion with his glorious priviledges. O that you would henceforth imploy all the power you have for [Page 90] God in duties of obedience, and in drawing others to Christ as much as in you lies, and say continually with the Church, Draw me, we will run after thee. Cant. 1. 4.

Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.

The Fifth SERMON. Serm. 5.

EPHES. 2. 1.‘And you hath he quickened who were dead in trespas­ses Opening that work of the Spi­rit more particular­ly, by which the soul is enabled to apply Christ. and sins.’

IN the former Sermons we have seen our Union with Christ in the general nature of it, and the means by which it is effected, both external by the preaching of the Gospel, and internal by the drawings of the Father. We are now to bring our thoughts yet closer to this great mystery, and consider the bonds or ligaments by which Christ and believers are knit together in a blessed oneness.

[Page 91] And if we heedfully observe the Scripture expressions, and ponder the nature of this Union, we shall find there are two bands which knit Christ and the soul toge­ther, viz.

  • 1. The Spirit on Christs part.
  • 2. Faith on our part.

The Spirit on Christs part, quickening us with spiritual life, whereby Christ first takes hold of us, and faith on our part, when thus quickened, whereby we take hold of Christ: accordingly this Union with the Lord Jesus is expressed in Scripture sometimes by one, and sometimes by the other of these means or bonds by which it is effected. Christ is some­times said to be in us, so Col. 1. 27. Christ in you the hope of glory: and Rom. 8. 10. And if Christ be in you the body is dead be­cause of sin: and other times it is expressed by the other bond on our part, as 1 Joh. 5. 20. we are in him that is true, even in his son Christ Jesus: and 2 Cor. 5. 17. if [...]ny man be in Christ, he is a new creature.

The difference betwixt both these is thus aptly expressed by a late Author, ‘Christ is in believers by his Spirit, 1 Joh. 4. 13. the believer is in Christ by faith, Joh. 1. 12. Christ Mount Pisga [...]. p. 22, 23. is in the believer by inhabitation, Rom. 3. 17. the believer is in Christ by implantation, Rom. 6. 35. Christ is in the be­liever as the head is in the body, Col. 1. 18. as the root in the branches, Joh. 15. 5. believers are in Christ as the members are in the head, Eph. 1. 23. or as the branches are in the root, Joh. 15. 1, 7. Christ in the believer im­plyeth life and influence from Christ, Col. 3. 4. the believer in Christ implyeth Communion, and fellowship with Christ, 1 Cor. 1. 30. when Christ is said to be in the believer, we are to understand it in reference to Sanctification; when the believer is said to be in Christ it is in order to Justi­fication.

Thus we apprehend, being our selves first apprehended by Jesus Christ, Phil. 3. 12. we cannot take hold of Christ, till first he take hold of us, no vital act of faith can be exer­cised, till a vital principle be first inspired: of both these bonds of Union we must speak distinctly, and first of the [Page 92] first, Christ quickening us by his Spirit in order to our Union with him, of which we have an account in the Scripture before us, You hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins: in which words we find these two things noted, Viz.

  • 1. The infusion of a vital principle of grace.
  • 2. The total indisposedness of the subject by nature.

First, The infusion of a vital principle of grace, you hath he quickened. These words [hath he quickened] are a supple­ment, 1. made to clear the sense of the Apostle, which else would have been more obscure by reason of that long Parenthesis betwixt the first and the fifth verses, for as the Illud [...] regitur à [...]. v. 5. est igi­tur hoc loco & hyper­baton & synchysis & [...], quae est species [...], cujus quidem ano­maliae causa est [...] interjectio sententiae prolixioris. Piscator. Pooles Synop. learned ob­serve, this word [...] you, is governed of the verb [...] hath he quickened, verse 5. so that here the words are transposed from the plain grammatical order, by reason of the interjection of a long sentence, therefore with good warrant our Translators have put the verb into this first verse, which is repeated verse the fifth, and so keeping faithfully to the scope, have excellently cleared the Syntax and order of the words. Now this verb [...] hath he quickened, imports the first vital act of the spirit of God, [...]or his first enlivening work upon the soul in order to its Union with Jesus Christ: for look as the blood of Christ is the fountain of all merit, so the Spi­rit of Christ is the fountain of all spiritual life: and until he quicken us, (i. e.) infuse the principle of the divine life into our souls, we can put forth no hand, or vital act of faith to lay hold upon Jesus Christ.

This his quickening work is therefore the first in order of nature to our Union with Christ and fundamental to all other acts of grace done and performed by us from our first closing with Christ throughout the whole course of our obedience: and this quickening act is said, verse the fifth, to be together Ex Christo con­ju [...]cto nobis­cum ut capite cum membris profluunt in nos omnia benefi­cia in quorum numero est vi­vificatio. Rol­loc. in Loco. with Christ: either noting (as some expound it) that it is the effect of the same power by which Christ was raised from the dead, according to Eph. 1. 19. or rather to be quickened together with Christ notes that new spiritual life which is infused into our dead souls in the time of our Uni­on with Christ: for it is Christ to whom we are conjoyned and united in our regeneration, out of whom as a fountain [Page 93] all spiritual benefits flow to us, among which this vivifi­cation or quickening is one, and a most sweet and preci­ous one.

Zanchy, Bodius and many others; will have this quickening to comprize both our justification and regeneration, and to stand opposed both to infernal and spiritual death, and it may well be allowed; but it most properly imports our regenera­tion, wherein the Spirit in an ineffable and mysterious way, makes the soul to live to God; yea to live the life of God which was before dead in trespassis and sins: in which words we have

Secondly, In the next place, the total indisposedness of 2. the subjects by nature: for as it is well noted by a Non vocat hic semi mor­tuos aut aegro­tos ac infir­mos, sed pror­sus mortuos, omni fa ultate­bene cogitandi aut agendi de­stituti. Rolloc. in Loc. learned man, The Apostle doth not say of these Ephesians▪ that they were half dead, or sick and infirm, but dead wholly, altoge­ther dead, destitute of any faculty or ability so much as to think one good thought, or perform one good act: you were dead in respect of condemnation; being under the damn­ing sentence of the Law, and you were dead in respect of the privation of spiritual life, dead in opposition to Justi­fication, and dead in opposition to regeneration and sancti­fication: and the fatal instrument by which their. Souls dyed is here shewed them, you were dead in or by trespasses and sins, this was the Sword that kill'd your souls, and cut them off from God. Some do curiously distinguish betwixt tres­passes and sins, as if one pointed at original, the other at actual sins; but I suppose they are promiscuously used here; and serve to express the cause of their ruine, or means of their spiritual death and destruction: this was their case when Christ came to quicken them, dead in sin, and being so, they could not move themselves towards Union with Christ, but as they were moved by the quickening Spirit of God.

Hence the observation will be this,

Doct.

That those Souls which have Union with Christ, are quickened with a Supernatural principle of life by the Spirit of God in order Doct. thereunto.

[Page 94] The Spirit of God is not only a living Spirit, formally con­sidered, but he is also the Spirit of life effectively or causally considered: and without his breathing or infusing li [...] into our souls, our Union with Christ is impossible.

It is the observation of learned Camero, that there must be Observandum est unionem & unitionem in­ter se disserre: unio est rerum actus, qui for­mae rationem habet, nempe actus rerum unitarum quâ unitae sunt: unitio autem actus significat caus [...] efficien­tis, &c. Ca­mero de Ec­cles. p. 222. an Unition before there can be a Union with Christ. Unition is to be conceived efficiently as the work of Gods Spirit, joyning the believer to Christ, and Union is to be conceived formally, the joyning it self of the persons together: we close with Christ by faith, but that faith being a vital act, presupposes a principle of life communicated to us by the Spirit; therefore it's said Joh. 11. 26. whosoever liveth and be­lieveth in me shall never dye: the vital act and operation of faith springs from this quickening Spirit: so in Rom. 8, 1, 2. the Apostle having in the first verse opened the blessed estate of them that are in Christ, shews us in the second verse how we come to be in him, The Spirit of life (saith he) which is in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the Law of sin and death.

There is indeed a quickening work of the Spirit, which is subsequent to regeneration, consisting in his exciting, recovering, and actuating of his own graces in us, and from hence is the liveliness of a Christian; and there is a quickening act of the Spirit in our regeneration, and from hence is the first spiritual life of a Christian, of this I am here to speak, and that I may speak profitably to this point, I will in the Doctrinal part la­bour to open these five particulars.

  • First, What this spiritual life is in its nature and pro­perties.
  • Secondly, In what manner it is wrought or inspired into the Soul.
  • Thirdly, For what end, or with what design this life is so inspired.
  • Fourthly, I shall shew this work to be wholly super­natural.
  • And then fifthly, Why this quickening must be an­tecedent to our actual closing with Christ by Faith.

[Page 95] First, We will enquire into the nature and properties of 1. this life, and discover (as we are able) what it is. And we find it to consist in that wonderful change which the Spirit of God makes upon the frame and temper of the soul, by his infusing or implanting the principles of grace in all the powers and facul­ties thereof.

A change it makes upon the soul, and that a marvellous one, no less than from death to life, for though a man be physically a living man, (i. e.) his natural soul hath Union with his body, yet his soul having no Union with Christ, he is Theologically a dead man, Luke 15. 24. and Col. 2. 13. alas it deserves not the name of life, to have a soul serving only to season and preserve the body a little while from stinking: to carry it up and down the world, and only enable it to eat and drink and talk and laugh, and then dye: then do we begin to live, when we begin to have Union with Christ the fountain of life by his Spirit communicated to us: from this time we are to reckon our life Hic jacet Si­milis cujus ae­tas multorum annorum fuit, ipse septem dumtaxat annos vixit. as some have done: there be many changes made upon men besides this, many are changed from prophaneness to Civility, and from meer Ci­vility to formality and a shadow of Religion, who still re­main in the state and power of spiritual death notwithstand­ing; but when the Spirit of the Lord is poured out upon us to quicken us with the new spiritual life, this is a wonderful change indeed: it gives us an Esse supernaturale, a new super­natural being, which is therefore call'd a new creature, the new man, the hidden man of the heart: the natural essence and faculties of the soul remain still, but it is devested of the old qualities, and endowed with new ones, 2 Cor. 5. 17. old things are past away, behold all things are become new.

And this change is not made by altering and rectifying the disorders of the life only, leaving the temper and frame of the heart still carnal; but by the infusion of a supernatural per­manent principle into the soul, Joh. 4. 14. it shall be in him a well of water: principles are to a course of actions as foun­tains or springs are to the streams and rivers that flow from them, and are maintain'd by them: and hence is the even­ness and constancy of renewed souls in the course of godli­ness.

[Page 96] Nor is this principle or habit acquired by accustoming our selves to holy actions, as natural habits are acquired by fre­quent acts, which beget a disposition, and thence grow up to an habit or second nature; but it is infused or implanted in­to the soul by the Spirit of God. So we read Ezek. 36. 25, 26. a new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you: it grows not up out of our Natures, but is put, or infused into us: as it's said of the two witnesses, Rev. 11. 11. who lay dead in a Civil sense three days and an half, that the Spirit of life from God entered into them; so it is here in a spi­ritual sense, the spirit of life from God enters into the dead, carnal heart: it's all by way of supernatural infusion.

Nor is it limited to this or that faculty of the soul, but grace or life is poured into all the faculties: behold all things are become new, 2 Cor. 5. 17. The understanding, will, thoughts, and affections are all renewed by it: the whole inner man is changed, yea, the tongue and hand, the dis­courses and actions, even all the ways and courses of the out­ward man are renewed by it.

But more particularly, we shall discern the nature of this spiritual life, by considering the properties of it, among which these are very remarkable.

First, The soul that is joyned to Christ, is quickened with a divine life, so we read in 2 Pet. 1. 4. where believers are said to be partakers or consorts of the divine nature: a very high expression, and warily to be understood. Partakers of the divine nature, not essentially, so it's wholly incommunicable to the Creature, nor yet Hypostatically and personally, so Christ on­ly was a partaker of it, but our participation of the Divine na­ture must be understood in a way proper to believers, that is to say, we partake of it by the inhabitation of the Spirit of God in us: according to 1 Cor. 3. 16, 17. know ye not that ye are the Temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you? the Spirit who is God by nature, dwells in and actuates the soul whom he regenerates, and by sanctifying causes it to live a divine life: from this life of God the unsanctified are said to be alienated, Eph. 4. 18. but believers are partakers of it.

Secondly, And being divine, it must needs be the most excellent and transcendent life that any creature doth or [Page 97] can live in this world: it surmounts the natural, rational, and moral life of the unsanctified, as much as the Angelical life excels the life that flyes and worms of the earth do live.

Some think it a rare life to live in sensual pleasures, but the Scripture will not allow so much as the name of life to them; but tells us they are dead whilest they live, 1 Tim. 5. 6. certainly it is a wonderful elevation of the nature of man, to be quickened with such a life as this. There are two ways wherein the blessed God hath honoured poor man above the very Angels of heaven. One was by the Hypostatical Union of our nature in Christ, with the divine nature; the other is by uniting our persons mystically to Christ, and thereby communicating spiritual life to us: this later is a most glori­ous priviledge, and in one respect a more singular mercy than the former; for that honour which is done to our Na­ture by the Hypostatical Union, is common to all good and bad, even they that perish have yet that honour; but to be implanted into Christ by regeneration, and live upon him as the branch doth upon the Vine, this is a peculiar pri­viledge, a mercy hedg'd in from the world that is to perish, and only communicated to Gods elect, who are to live eter­nally with him in heaven.

Thirdly, This life infused by the regenerating Spirit, is a most pleasant life. All delights, all pleasures, all joys, which are not phantastick and delusive, have their spring and origin here. Rom. 8. 6. to be spiritually minded is life and peace, (i. e.) a most serene placid life, such a soul becomes, so far as it is influ­enced and sanctified by the Spirit, the very region of life and peace: when one thing is thus predicated of another in casu recto (saith a learned man) it speaks their intimate Connexion: peace is so connatural to this life, that you may either call it a life that hath peace in it, or a peace that hath life in it: yea it hath its enclosed pleasures in it, Such as a stran­ger intermeddles not with, Prov. 14. 10. Regeneration is the term from which all true pleasure commences, you never live a merry day, till you begin to live to God: therefore it's said Luke 15. 24. when the prodigal son was returned to his Father and reconciled, then they began to be merry.

[Page 98] None can make another by any words to understand what that pleasure is which the renewed soul feels diffused through all its faculties and affections in its communion with the Lord, and in the sealings and witnessings of his Spirit. That is a very apt and well known similitude which Peter Martyr used, and the Lord blessed to the conversion of that Noble Marquess Galeacius: If, said he, a man should see a company of people dancing upon the top of a remote hill, he would be apt to conclude they were a company of wild distracted people; but if he draw nearer and behold the ex­cellent order, and hear the ravishing sweet Musick that is among them, he will quickly alter his opinion of them, and fall a dancing himself with them.

All the delights in the sensual-life, all the pleasure that ever your lusts gave you, are but as the putrid stinking waters of a corrupt pond, where Toads lye croaking and spawn­ing, to the Crystal streams of the most pure and pleasant fountain.

Fourthly, This life of God with which the regenerate are quickened in their Union with Christ as it is a pleasant, so it is also a growing increasing life. Joh. 4. 14. It shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

It is not in our Sanctification, as it is in our Justification, our Justification is compleat and perfect, no defect is found there, but the new Creature labours under many defects: all believers are equally Justified, but not equally Sanctified: therefore you read 2 Cor. 4. 16. that the inward man is re­newed day by day: and 2 Pet. 3. 18. Christians are exhorted to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Sa­viour: if this work were perfect and finished at once as Justification is, there could be no renewing day by day, nor growth in grace, perfectum est cui nihil deest, & cui nihil addi potest: the Apostle indeed prays for the Thessalonians, that God would sanctifie them [...]—wholly, perfectly, 1 Thes. 5. 23. and this is matter of prayer and hope, for at last it will grow up to perfection; but this perfect holiness is reser­ved for the perfect state in the world to come, and none but Perfectio Sanctificatio­nis in istha [...] vil a non repe­ritur nisi in somniis quo­rundam sana­ticorum. [...]. deluded proud spirits boast of it here: but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away, 1 Cor. 13. 9, 10. and upon the imperfection of the [Page 99] new Creature in every faculty, that warfare and dayly conflict spoken of Gal. 5. 17. and experienced by every Christian is grounded: grace rises gradually in the soul as the Sun doth in the heavens, which shineth more and more unto a perfect day, Prov. 4. 18.

Fifthly, To Conclude, this life with which the regenerate are quickened, is an everlasting life. This is the record, that God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his son, 1 Joh. 5. 11. this principle of life, is the seed of God, and that remains in the soul for ever, 1 Joh. 3. 9. it is no transient vanishing thing, but a fixed permanent principle, which abides in the soul for ever; a man may lose his gifts, but grace abides: the soul may and must be separated from the body, but grace cannot be separated from the soul: when all forsake us, this sticks by us.

This infused principle is therefore vastly different both from the extraordinary gifts of prophecie wherein the Spirit sometimes was said to come upon men, under the old Testa­ment, 1 Sam. 10. 6, 10. and from the common vanishing ef­fects he sometimes produceth in the unregenerate, of which we have frequent accounts in the new Testament, Heb. 6. 4. and Joh. 5. 35. it's one thing for the Spirit to come upon a man in the way of present influence and assistance, and ano­ther thing to dwell in a man as his Temple.

And thus of the nature and quality of this blessed work of the Spirit in quickening us.

Secondly, Having seen the nature and properties of the spiritual life, we are concerned in the next place to enquire 2. into the way and manner in which it is wrought, and infused by the Spirit: and here we must say,

First of all, That the work is wrought in the soul very my­steriously, so Christ tells Nicodemus, Joh. 3. 8. The wind blow­eth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh or whither it goeth, so is every one that is born of the Spirit: there be many opinions among Philosophers about the original of winds, but we have no certain know­ledge of it: we deseribe it by its effects and properties, but know little of its original: and if the works of God in na­ture be so abstruse and unsearchable, how much more are these sublime and supernatural works of the Spirit so?

[Page 100] We are not able to solve the Phaenomena of nature, we can give no account of our own formation in the womb, Eccles. 11. 5. who can exactly describe how the parts of the body are formed and the soul infused? it's curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth, as the Psalmist speaks, Psal. 139. 16. but how we know not. Basil saith divers questions may be moved about a Fly, which may pose the greatest Philoso­pher: we know little of the forms and essences of natural things, much less of these profound, and abstruse spiritual things.

Secondly, But though we cannot pry into these secrets by the eye of reason, yet God hath revealed this to us in his word, that it is wrought by his own almighty power, Eph. 1. 19. The Apostle ascribes this work to the exceeding great­ness of the power of God: and this must needs be, if we con­sider, how the Spirit of God expresses it in Scripture by a new Creation: (i. e.) a giving being to something out of no­thing, Eph. 2. 10. In this it differs from all the effects of hu­mane power, for man always works upon some pre-existent matter, but here is no such matter: all that is in man, the Ab uno desuper principio quod convenienter voluntati ope­ratur depen­dent prima, se­cunda & ter­tia. Quemad­modum mini­ma pars ferri lapidis magne­tis spiritu mo­vetur, per mul­tos annulos fer­reos extensi: ita etiam qui sunt virtute praediti, divino spiritu attra­cti, cum prima mansione con­jungantur, de­inceps autem alii usque ad postremam. Glem. Alexan. Strom. lib. 7. subject of this work, is only a passive capacity or receptivity, but nothing is found in him to contribute towards this work: this supernatural life is not, nor can it be educed out of natu­ral principles: this wholly transcends the Sphere of all natural power: but of this more anon.

Thirdly, This also we may affirm of it, that this divine life is infused into all the natural faculties and powers of the soul, not one exempted. 1 Thes. 5. 23. The whole soul and spirit is the recipient subject of it: and with respect to this general infusion into all the faculties and powers of the soul, it's call'd a new creature, a new man, having an integral per­fection and fullness of all its parts and members: it becomes light in the mind, Joh. 17. 3. obedience in the will, 1 Pet. 1. 2. in the affections an heavenly temper and tenderness, Col. 3. 1, 2. and so is variously denominated, even as the Sea is from the several shores it washes, though it be one and the same Sea. And here we must observe lyes one main difference be­twixt a regenerate soul, and an hypocrite; the one is all of a piece, as I may say, the principle of spiritual life runs into all and every faculty and affection; and sanctifies or renews the [Page 101] whole man: whereas the change upon hypocrites is but partial and particular, he may have new light, but no new love, a new tongue, but not a new heart: this or that vice may be reformed, but the whole course of his life is not altered.

Fourthly, and lastly, This infusion of spiritual life is done instantaneously, as all Creation work is: hence it is resembled to that plastick power, which in a moment made the light to shine out of darkness, just so doth God shine into our hearts, 2 Cor. 4. 6.

'Tis true, a soul may be a long time under the preparato­ry works of the Spirit, he may be under Convictions and hu­miliations, purposes and resolutions a long time, he may be waiting at the pool of Bethesda, attending the means and ordinances, but when the Spirit comes once to quicken the soul, it's done in a moment: even as it is in the infusion of the rational soul, the body is long ere it be prepared and moulded, but when once the Embryo or matter is ready, it's quickned with the Spirit of life in an instant: so it is here: but O what a blessed moment is this! upon which the whole weight of our eternal happiness depends; for it is Christ in us, (i. e.) Christ formed in us, who is the hope of glory, Col. 1. 27. and our Lord expressly tells us, Joh. 3. 3. that ex­cept we be regenerate and born again, we cannot see the Kingdome of God. And thus of the way and manner of its infusion.

Thirdly, Let the design and end of God in this his quicken­ing work be next considered: for what end, and with what 3. design and aim this work is wrought. And if we con­sult the Scriptures in this matter, we shall find this principle of life is infused in order to our glorifying God in this world by a life of obedience, and our enjoying of God in the world to come.

First, Spiritual life is infused in Order to a course of obe­dience in this world, whereby God is glorified: so we read in Eph. 2. 10. Created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them: ha­bits are to actions, as the root is to the fruit, it is for fruit sake that we plant the roots, and ingraff the branches. So in Ezek. 36. 27. a new spirit also will I put within you, and cause [Page 102] you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgements and do them. This is the next or immediate design and end not only of the first infusion of the principle of life into the Soul, but of all the exciting, actuating and assisting works of the Spirit afterwards. Now this principle of spiri­tual life infused hath a twofold influence into obedi­ence.

First, This makes it sincere and true obedience, when it flows from an inward vital principle of grace. The Hypo­crite is moved by something ab extra, from without, as the applause of men, the accommodation of fleshly interests, the force of education, or if there be any thing from within that moves him, it is but a self-interest, to quiet a grumbling Con­science, and support his vain hopes of heaven: but he never acts from a new principle, a new nature inclining him to holy actions. Sincerity mainly lyes in the harmony and correspondency of actions to their principles: from this in­fused principle it is, that men hunger and thirst for God, and go to their Duties, as men do to their meals, when they find an empty craving stomach.

O Reader, pause a little upon this ere thou pass on, ask thy heart whether it be so with thee: are holy duties connatural to thee? doth thy soul move and work after God by a kind of supernatural instinct? this then will be to thee a good evidence of thy integrity.

Secondly, From this infused principle of life, results the Excellency of our obedience, as well as the sincerity of it: for by vertue and reason thereof, it becomes free and volunta­ry, not forced and constrained, it drops like honey of its own accord out of the Comb, Cant. 4. 11. without squeezing: or as waters from the fountain without forcing, Joh. 4. 14. An unprincipled professor must be squeez'd by some weight of affliction, ere he will yield one tear, or pour out a prayer, Psal. 78. 34. when he slew them, then they sought him.

Now the freedome of obedience is the excellency of it, Gods eye is much upon that, 1 Cor. 9. 17. yea, and the unifor­mity of our obedience, which is also a special part of the beau­ty of it, results from hence: he that acts from a principle acts [...]uently and uniformly, there is a proportion betwixt the parts [Page 103] of his Conversation: this is it which makes us holy [...], in all manner of Conversation, or in every creek and turning of our Conversations, as that word imports, 1 Pet. 1. 15. whereas, he that is moved by this or that external-accidental motive must needs be up and down, off and on, very uneven, like the legs of a lame man, as the expression is, Prov. 26. 7. which are not equal: now a word of God, and then the discourse runs muddy and prophane, or carnal again: all that evenness and uniformity that is in the several parts of a Christians life, is the effect of this infused principle of spiritual life.

Thirdly, Another aim and design of God in the infusion of this principle of life, is thereby to prepare and qualifie the soul for the enjoyment of himself in heaven: except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God, Joh. 3. 3. all that shall possess that inheritance must be begotten again to it, as the Apostle speaks 1 Pet. 1. 3, 4. this principle of grace is the very seed of that glory, it's eternal life in the root and principle, Joh. 17. 3. by this the soul is attempered and qualified for that state and imployment: what is the life of glory, but the vision of God, and the souls assimilation to God by that vision? from both which results that un­speakable joy and delight which passeth understanding: but what vision of God, assimilation to God; or delight in God can that soul have, which was never quickened with the su­pernatural principle of grace? The temper of such souls is expressed in that sad Character, Zech. 11. 8. my soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me: for want of this vi­tal principle it is that the very same duties and ordinances which are the delights and highest pleasures of the Saints, are no better than a meer drudgery and bondage to others, Ma [...] 1. 13. heaven would be no heaven to a dead soul; this princi­ple of life in its daily growth and improvement is our meet­ness as well as our evidence for heaven: these are the main ends of its infusion.

Fourthly, In the next place according to the method pro­posed I am obliged to shew you, that this quickening work is 4. wholly supernatural, it is the sole and proper work of the Spi­rit of God. So Christ himself expressly asserts it in Joh. 3. 6, 8. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which [Page 104] is born of the Spirit is Spirit: the wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it co­meth nor whither it goeth, so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Believers are the birth or off-spring of the Spirit, who pro­duceth the new creature in them in an unintelligible manner even to themselves. So far it is above their own ability to produce, that it is above their capacity to understand the way of its production: as if you should ask, do you know from whence the wind comes? no: do you know whither it goes? no, but you hear and feel it when it blows? yes, why so is every one that is born of the Spirit: he feels the efficacy and discerns the effects of the Spirit on his own soul, but cannot understand or describe the manner of its production: this is not only above the carnal, but above the renewed mind to comprehend; we can contribute no­thing, I mean actively, to the production of this principle of life: we may indeed be said to concur passively with the Spi­rit in it: that is, there is found in us a capacity, aptness, or receptiveness of this principle of life: our nature is endowed with such faculties and powers as are meet sub­jects to receive, and instruments to act this spiritual life: God only quickens the rational nature with spiritual life.

It is true also, that in the progress of Sanctification a man doth actively concurr with the Spirit, but in the first producti­on of this spiritual principle he can do nothing: he can indeed perform those external duties that have a remote tendency to it, but he cannot by the power of nature perform any saving act, or contribute any thing more than a passive capacity to the implantation of a new principle: as will appear by the following Arguments.

Argument 1.

He that actively concurrs to his own regeneration, makes himself to differ; but this is denyed to all regenerate men, 1 Cor. 4. 7. who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive?

Arg. 2.

That to which the Scripture ascribes both impotency and enmity with respect to grace, cannot actively and of it self concurr to the production of it: But the Scripture ascribes both impotency and enmity to Nature with respect to grace. It denyes to it a power to do anything of it self, Joh. 15. 5. and which is less, it denies to it power to speak a good word, Matth. 12. 34. and which is least of all, it denies it power to think a good thought, 2 Cor. 3. 5. This impo­tency if there were no more, cuts off all pretence of our active concurrence, but then if we consider that it ascribes enmity to our natures as well as impotency, how clear is the case! see Rom. 8. 7. the carnal mind is enmity against God: and Col. 1. 21. and you that were enemies in your minds by wicked works. So then Nature is so far pro­ductive of this principle, as impotency and enmity can enable it to be so.

Arg. 3.

That which is of natural production, must needs be subject to natural dissolution, that which is born of the flesh, is flesh, a perishing thing, sor everything is as its principle is, and there can be no more in the effect, than there is in the cause: but this principle of spiritual life is not subject to dissolution, it is the water that springs up into everlasting life, Joh. 4. 14. the seed of God which remaineth in the regenerate soul, 1 Joh. 3. 9. and all this because it's born not of corruptible, but of incor­ruptible seed, 1 Pet. 1. 23.

Arg. 4.

If our new birth be our resurrection, a new creation, yea, a victory over nature, then we cannot actively contribute to its production; but under all these notions it is represented to us in the Scriptures. It's our resurrection from the dead, Eph. 5. 14. and you know the body is wholly passive in its resurrection: but though it concurrs not, yet it gives pre­existent [Page 106] matter: therefore the metaphor is designedly varied, Eph. 4. 24. where it's call'd a creation: in which there is nei­ther active concurrence, nor pre-existent matter: but though Creation excludes pre-existent matter, yet in pro [...]cing something out of nothing there is no reluctancy nor oppo­sition; therefore to shew how purely supernatural this principle of life is, it is cloathed and presented to us in the notion of a victory, 2 Cor. 10. 4. and so leaves all to grace.

Arg. 5.

If nature could produce, or but actively concurr to the pro­duction of this spiritual life, then the best natures would be soonest quickened with it; and the worst natures not at all, or last and least of all: but contrarily we find the worst na­tures often regenerated, and the best left in the state of spiri­tual death: with how many sweet homilitical vertues was the young man adorned? Mark 10. 21. yet graceless: and what a sink of sin was Mary Magdalen, Luke 7. 37. yet sancti­fied: thus beautiful Rachel is barren, whilst blear-ey'd Leah bears children. And there is scarce any thing that affects and melts the hearts of Christians more than this compara­tive consideration doth: when they consider vessels of Gold cast away, and leaden ones chosen for such noble uses. So that it's plain enough to all wise and humble souls, that this new life is wholly of supernatural production.

Fifthly, and lastly, I shall briefly represent the necessary antecedency of this quickening work of the Spirit to our first closing with Christ by faith: and this will easily let it self into your understandings if you but consider the nature of the vital act of faith: which is the souls receiving of Christ and rest­ing upon him for pardon and salvation, in which two things are necessarily included, viz.

  • 1. The renouncing of all other hopes and depen­dencies.
  • 2. The opening the heart fully to Jesus Christ.

[Page 107] First, The renouncing of all other hopes and dependencies whatsoever. Self in all its acceptations, natural, sinful, and moral, is now to be denyed and renounced for ever, else Christ can never be received, Rom. 10. 3. not only self in its vilest pollutions, but self in its richest ornaments, and endow­ments: but this is as impossible to the unrenewed natural man, as it is for rocks or mountains to start from their Centre, and fly like wandering Atomes in the air: nature will rather choose to run the hazard of everlasting damnation, than escape it by a total renunciation of its beloved lusts, or self­righteousness: this supernatural work necessarily requires a supernatural principle, Rom. 8. 2.

Secondly, The opening the heart fully to Jesus Christ, without which Christ can never be received, Rev. 3. 20. but 2. this also is the effect of the quickening Spirit, the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus: sooner may we expect to see the flowers and blossoms open without the influence of the Sun, than the heart and will of a sinner open to receive Christ, without a principle of spiritual life first derived from him: and this will be past doubt to all that consider, not only the im­potence of nature, but the ignorance, prejudice, and aversations of nature by which the door of the heart is barr'd and chain'd up against Christ, Joh. 5. 40. so that nature hath neither abili­ty nor will, power or desire to come to Christ; if any have an heart open'd to receive him, 'tis the Lord that opens it, by his almighty power; and that in the way of an infused principle of life supernatural.

But here it may be doubted, and objected, against this po­sition, Quest. If we cannot believe till we are quickened with spiri­tual life, as you say, and cannot be justified till we be­live, as all say; then it will follow that a regenerate soul may be in the state of condemnation for a time, and con­sequently perish if death should befall him in that juncture.

To this I return, that when we speak of the priority of Sol. this quickening work of the Spirit to our actual believing, we rather understand it of the priority of nature, than of time: the nature and order of the work requiring it to be so: a vital principle must in order of nature be infused before a vi­tal act can be exerted. First make the tree good, and then [Page 108] the fruit good: and admit we should grant some priority in time also to this quickening principle, before actu­al faith, yet the absurdity mentioned would be no way con­sequent upon that concession: for as the vital act of faith quickly follows the regenerating principle, so the soul is abundantly secured against the danger objected; God never beginning any special work of grace upon the soul, and then leaving it and the soul with it in hazzard, but preserves both to the finishing and compleating of his gracious design, Phil. 1. 6.

First Use of Information.

Infer. 1.

If such be the nature and necessity of this principle of di­vine Infer. 1. life, as you have heard it opened in the foregoing dis­course, then hence it follows, That unregenerate men are no better than dead men. So the Text represents them, you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins: (i. e.) spi­ritually dead though naturally alive, yea and lively too as any other persons in the world. There is a threefold considera­tion of objects,

Viz.
  • 1. Naturally.
  • 2. Politically.
  • 3. Theologically.

First, Naturally, to all those things that are natural, they are a­live: they can understand, reason, discourse, preject and contrive as well as others, they can eat, drink, build, plant, and suck out the natural comfort of these things as much as any others. So their life is described, Job 21. 12. They take the Timbrel and Harp, and rejoyce at the sound of the Organ: they spend their [...]ays in Wealth, &c. and James 5. 5. ye have lived in pleasure upon earth, as the fish lives in the water its natural element, and yet [...]is natu­ral sensual life is not allowed the name of life, 1 Tim. 5. 6. such persons are dead whilst they live: 'tis a base and ignoble life, to have a soul only to salt the body, or to enable a man [Page 109] for a few years to eat, and drink, and talk, and laugh, and then dye.

Secondly, Objects may be considered Politically, and with respect to such things they are alive also: they can buy and sell, and manage all their worldly affairs with as much dexterity, skill, and policy as other men, yea, the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light, Luke 16. 8. The intire stream of their thoughts, pro­jects and studies running in that one Channel: having but one Liberet me de­us, ab homine unius tantum negotii. Bern. design to manage, they must needs excel in worldly wisdom: but then

Thirdly, Theologically considered, they are dead; without life, sense or motion towards God, and the things that are above: their understandings are dead, 1 Cor. 2. 14. and can­not receive the things that are of God: their wills are dead, and cannot move towards Jesus Christ, Joh. 6. 65. their af­fections are dead, even to the most excellent and spiri­tual objects: and all their duties are dead duties, with­out life or spirit. This is the sad case of the unregenerate world.

Infer. 2.

This speaks encouragement to Ministers and parents to wait in hopes of success at last, even upon those that yet give them Infer. 2. little hope of conversion at the present: the work you see is the Lords, when the Spirit of life comes upon their dead souls, they shall believe, and be made willing; till then, we do but plough upon the rocks: yet let not our hand slack in duty, pray for them and plead with them; you know not in which prayer or exhortation the Spirit of life may breathe upon them: can these dry bones live? yes, if the Spirit of life from God breathe upon them, they can, and shall live: what though their dispositi­ons be averse to all things that are spiritual and serious? yet even such have been regenerated, when more sweet and promising natures have been passed by and left under spiri­tual death.

It was the observation of Mr. Ward upon his Bro­ther Mr. Daniel Rogers, (who was a man of great gifts and [Page 110] eminent graces, yet of a very bad temper and constituti­on) Though my Brother Rogers (said he) have grace enough for two men, yet not half enough for him­self.

It may be you have pray'd and striven long with your relations and to little purpose, yet be not discou­raged. How often was Mr. John Rogers that famous suc­cessful Divine, a grief of heart to his relations in his younger years, proving a wild and lewd young man to the great discouragement of his pious friends; yet at last, the Lord graciously changed him, so that Mr. Richard Rogers would say, when he would exercise the utmost degree of charity or hope for any that at present were vile and naught, I will never despair of any man for John Rogers sake.

Infer. 3.

How honourable are Christians by their new birth! they are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of Infer. 3. man, but of God, Joh. 1. 13. (i. e.) not in an im­pure, or meer natural way, but in a most spiritual and supernatural manner: they are the off-spring of God, the children of the most high, as well by regeneration as by adoption: which is the greatest advancement of the hu­mane nature next to its hypostatical union with the se­cond person: Oh what honour is this for a poor sinful creature to have the very life of God breathed into his soul! all other dignities of nature are trifles compar'd with this: this makes a Christian a sacred hallowed thing, the living temple of God, 1 Cor. 6. 19. the special object of his delight.

Infer. 4.

How deplorable is the condition of the unregenerate world, in no better case than dead men! Now to affect our hearts with the Infer. 4. misery of such a condition, let ut consider and compare it in the following particulars.

[Page 111] First, There is no beauty in the dead, all their loveliness goes away at death; there is no spiritual beauty or loveli­ness in any that are unregenerate: 'tis true, many of them have excellent moral homilitical vertues, which adorn their conversations in the eyes of men; but what are all these, but so many sweet flowers strewed over a dead Corpse?

Secondly, The dead have no pleasure nor delight: even so the unregenerate are incapable of the delights of the Chri­stian life: to be spiritually minded is life and peace, Rom. 8. 6. (i. e.) this is the only serene, placid, and pleasant life: when the prodigal who was once dead, was alive, then he began to be merry, Luke. 15. 24. they live in sensual plea­sures, but this is to be dead while alive in Scripture reckoning.

Thirdly, The dead have no heat, they are as cold as clay: so are all the unregenerate towards God and things above: their lusts are hot, but their affections to God cold and frozen: that which makes a gracious heart melt, will not make an un­regenerate heart move.

Fourthly, The dead must be buried, Gen. 23. 4. bury my dead out of my sight: so must the unregenerate be buried out of Gods sight forever: buried in the lowest hell, in the place of darkness for ever, Joh. 3. 3. Woe to the unregenerate, good had it been sor them they had never been born.

Infer. 5.

How greatly are all men concerned to examine their condition Infer. 5. with respect to spiritual life and death! It's very common for men to presume upon their Union with and interest in Christ: this priviledge is by common mistake extended generally to all that profess Christian religion, and practise the exter­nal duties of it, when in truth no more are or can be united Praesumendo sperant, & spe­rando pereunt. Ames. to Christ than are quickened by the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus, Rom. 8. 1, 2. O try your interest in Christ by this rule, if I am quickened by Christ, I have Union with Christ. And

First, If there be spiritual sense in your souls, there is spi­ritual life in them: there are [...] senses belonging to the spiritual, as well as to the animal life, Heb. 5. 14. they can feel and sensibly groan under soul pressures, and burdens of [Page 112] sin, Rom. 7. 24. the dead feel not, moan not under the burdens of sin, but the living do: they may be sensible indeed of the evil of sin with respect to themselves, but not as against God, damnation may scare them, but pollution doth not; hell may fright them, but not the offence of God.

Secondly, If there be spiritual hunger and thirst, it's a sweet sign of spiritual life; this sign agrees to Christians of a day old, 1 Pet. 2. 2. even new born babes desire the sincere milk of the word: if spiritual life be in you, you know how to expound that Scripture, Psal. 42. 1. without any other interpreter than your own experience: you will feel somewhat like the g [...]awing of an empty stomach, making you restless during the interruption of your daily communion with the Lord.

Thirdly, If there be spiritual conflicts with sin, there is spi­ritual life in your soul, Gal. 5. 17. not only a combat betwixt light in the higher, and lust in the lower faculties: nor only opposition to more gross external corruptions that carry more infamy and horror with them than other sins do: but the same faculty will be the seat of War; and the more inward, secret and spiritual any lust is, by so much the more will it be op­posed and mourned over.

In a word, the weakest Christian may upon impartial ob­servation find such signs of spiritual life in himself (if he will allow himself time to reflect upon the bent and frame of his own heart) as desires after God, conscience of duties, fears, cares, and sorrows about sin: delight in the society of hea­venly and spiritual men, a loathing and burden in the compa­ny of vain and carnal persons.

O but I have a very dead heart to spiritual things.

'Tis a sign of life that you feel and are sensible of that dead­ness: Ob. and beside, there's a great deal of difference betwixt Sol. spiritual deadness and death: the one is the state of the un­regenerate, the other is the disease of regenerate men.

Some signs of spiritual life are clear to me, but I cannot close with others. Ob.

If you can really close with any, it may satisfie you, though you be dark in others: if a child can't go, yet if it can suck; Sol. if it can't suck, if it can cry; if it can't cry, yet if it breath it is alive.

The Sixth SERMON. Serm. 6.

JOH. 1. 12. Describing that Act on our part by which we do actually and effectu­ally apply Christ to our own souls.‘But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God; even to them that be­lieve on his name.’

NO sooner is the soul quickened by the Spirit of God, but it answers in some measure the end of God in that work, by its active reception of Jesus Christ, in the way of believing: what this vital act of faith is, upon which so great a weight depends, as our Interest in Christ and everlasting blessedness, this Scripture before us will give you the best account of it: wherein (omit­ting the Coherence and contexture of the words) we have three things to ponder.

First, The high and glorious priviledge conferr'd, viz. power to become the sons of God.

Secondly, The subject of this priviledge described, As ma­ny as received him.

Thirdly, The description explain'd by way of Apposition, even as many as believed on his name.

[Page 114] First, The priviledge conferr'd is a very high and glorious 1. one, than which no created being is capable of greater: pow­er Beza, hoc jus: Piscator, hanc dignitatem: Lightfoote, prarogativam. Heinsius, pri­vilegium: nec multo aliter v [...]ce [...] Hellenistae us [...] videntur cum C [...]aldeorum [...] expres­serunt. Heins. to become the sons of God: this word [...] is of large ex­tent and signification, and is by some rendred this right, by others this dignity, by others this prerogative. This priviledge or honour: it implys a title or right to Adoption, not only with respect to the present benefits of it in this life, but al­so to that blessed inheritance which is laid up in heaven for the sons of God: and so Grotius rightly expounds it of our consummate sonship, consisting in the actual enjoyment of bles­sedness, as well as that which is inchoate: not only a right to pardon, favour and acceptance now, but to heaven, and the full enjoyment of God hereafter. O what an honour, dignity, and priviledge is this!

Secondly, The Subjects of this priviledge are described: as many as received him. This Text describes them by that 2. very grace, Faith, which gives them their title and right to Christ and his benefits; and by that very act of faith which pri­marily conferrs their right to his person, and secondarily to his benefits, viz. receiving him: there be many graces besides faith, but faith only is the grace that gives us right to Christ: and there be many acts of faith besides receiving, but this receiving or embracing of Christ is the justifying and saving act: as many as received him, [...]] as many, be they of any nation, sex, age, or condition. For there is neither Greek, nor Jew, Circumcision, nor Uncircumcision, Bar­barian, Scythian, Bond or Free: but Christ is all, and in all. Col. 3. 11.

Nothing but unbelief barrs men from Christ and his bene­fits: as many as received him] the word signifies to accept, take, or (as we fitly render) to receive, assume or take to [...] & [...] idem est. Grot. us, a word most aptly expressing the nature and office of faith, yea the very justifying and saving act: and we are also heed­fully to note its special object, [...] him, the Text saith not [...] his, but [...] him (i. e.) his person, as he is cloath­ed with his offices, and not only his benefits and priviledges. These are secondary and consequential things to our receiving him. Oblatio est actio Dei, ple­runque mediata facta in verbo; receptio est actio. hominis, ita tamen ut simul quoque sit beneficium d [...]; nec enim homo posset recipere mediatorem nisi fides, quae receptionis hujus est organon, [...] deo da­retur. Wendel. So that it is a receiving, assuming or accepting the [Page 115] Lord Jesus Christ, which must have respect to the tenders and proposals of the gospel, for therein is the righteousness of God re­vealed from faith to faith, Rom. 1. 17. therein is Jesus Christ re­vealed, proposed, and offered unto sinners as the only way of justification and salvation, which Gospel offer (as before was opened) is therefore ordinarily necessary to believing, Rom. 10. 11, 12, 13, &c.

Thirdly, This description is yet further explained, by this additional exegetical clause, even to them that believe in his 3. name] here the terms are varied, though the thing exprest in both be the same: what he call'd receiving there, is call'd believing on his name here, to shew us that the very essence of saving faith consists in our receiving of Christ: by his name, we are to understand Christ himself: it is usual to take these two, believing in him, and believing in his name, as terms convertible and of the same importance. [...] ipse est nomen suum, & nomen ejus ipse est: his name Drusius. is himself and himself is his name. So that here we have the true nature, and precious benefits of saving faith excellently exprest in this Scripture: the summ of which take in this pro­position.

Doct.

That the receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ, is that saving and vital act of faith, which gives the soul right both to his person and Doct. benefits.

We cannot act spiritually, till we begin to live spiritually: therefore the Spirit of life must first joyn himself to us in his quickening work, (as was shewn you in the last Sermon) which being done, we begin to act spiritually by taking hold upon, or receiving Jesus Christ, which is the thing designed to be opened in this Sermon.

The soul is the life of the body, faith is the life of the soul, and Christ is the life of faith. There are several sorts of faith besides saving faith, and in saving faith there are several acts besides the justifying or saving act; but this receiving act which is to be our subject this day, is that upon which both our righteousness and eternal happiness do depend. This as a form differences saving faith from all other kinds or sorts of faith: by this it is that we are justified and saved. To as many as re­ceived [Page 116] him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God: Forma vel ali­quid formae analogum po­nitur differen­tiae loco. yet it doth not justifie and save us by reason of any proper dignity that is found in this Act, but by reason of the object it receives and apprehends: the same thing is often exprest in Scripture by other terms, as coming to Christ, Joh. 6. 35. rol­ling or staying upon Christ, Isa. 50. 10. but whatever is found in those expressions it is all comprehended in this, as will appear hereafter. Now, the method into which I shall cast the discourse of this subject, that I may handle it with as much perspicuity and profit as I can, shall be

First, To explain and open the nature of this receiving of Christ and shew you what it includes. 1.

Secondly, To prove that this is the justifying and saving act of faith. 2.

Thirdly, To shew you the excellency of this act of Faith. 3.

Fourthly, To remove some mistakes, and give you the true account of the dignity and excellency of this act. 4.

Fifthly, And then bring home all in a proper and close ap­plication. 5.

First, In the first place then, I will endeavour to explain (1.) There are di­vers other expressi­ons by which the nature of saving faith is exprest in Scripture, viz. eating Christs flesh, and drinking his blood, Joh. 6. 40. coming to Christ, Mat. 11. 28. Having the son, 1 Joh. 5. 12. Trusting or depending upon him, for which the Hebrew use th [...]ee emphatical wo [...]ds, [...] The first signifies a firm and sta­ble trust. The second to lean or depend with security. The third to betake ones self to a sanctuary for protection: all which is supposed or included in our receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ: in eating and drinking we must receive meat and drink, coming to Christ is necessarily supposed in receiving him, for there is no receiving at a distance: Having the son, and receiving him are notions of the same importance; and for trusting, relying with security, and betaking our selves to Christ for refuge, they are all involved in the receiving act: for as God offers him to us as the only prop of our hearts and hopes, so we receive hi [...] o rely upon him: and as he is held forth in the Gospel as the only Asylum or City of refuge, so we take or receive him, and accordingly betake our souls to him for refuge. and open the nature of this receiving of Christ, and shew you what is implyed in it.

And indeed it involves many deep mysteries and things of greatest weight: people are generally very ignorant and un­acquainted with the importance of this expression, they have very sleight thoughts of faith, who never past under the illu­minating, convincing and humbling work of the Spirit: but we shall find that saving faith is quite another thing, and differs in its whole kind and nature from that tra [...]itional faith, and common assent, which is so fatally mistaken for it in the world.

[Page 117] For First, It is evident, that no man can receive Jesus Christ in the darkness of natural ignorance: we must under­stand and discern who and what he is, whom we receive to be the Lord our righteousness. If we know not his person and his offices, we do not take, but mistake Christ. It's a good rule in the Civil Law, non consentit qui non sentit: a mistake of the person invalidates the match: [...]e that takes Christ for a meer man, or denys the satisfaction of his blood, or devests him of his humane nature, or denys any of his most glorious and necessary offices, let them cry up as high as they will, his spirituality, glory, and exemplary life and death; they can never receive Jesus Christ aright: this is such a crack, such a flaw in the very foundation of faith, as undoes and de­stroys all: ignorantis non est consensus: all saving faith is founded in light and knowledge: and therefore it's called knowledge, Isa. 53. 11. and seeing is inseparably connected with believing, Joh. 6. 40. men must hear and learn of the father before they can come to Christ, Joh. 6. 45. the re­ceiving act of faith is directed and guided by knowledge. I will not presume to state the degree of knowledge, which is absolutely necessary to the reception of Christ, I know the first of actings faith are in most Christians accompanied with much darkness and confusion of understanding: but yet we must say in the general, that where ever faith is, there is so much light as is sufficient to discover to the soul, its own sins, dan­gers, and wants; and the all-sufficiency, suitableness, and necessity of Christ for the supply and remedy of all; and without this Christ cannot be received. Come unto me ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Mat. 11. 28.

Secondly, The receiving Christ necessarily implies the Assent of the understanding to the truths of Christ revealed in the Gospel, viz. his person, natures, offices, his incar­nation, death and satisfaction; which assent, though it be not in it self saving faith, yet is it the foundation and ground­work of it: it being impossible the soul should receive and fiducially embrace, what the mind doth not assent unto as true and infallibly certain. Now there are three degrees of assent, Vide Dr. Scla­ter in Rom. 4. 3. conjecture, opinion, and belief. Conjecture is but a slight, and weak inclination to assent to the thing propounded, by rea­son [Page 118] of the weighty objections that lye against it. Opinion is a more steady and fixed assent, when a man is almost certain, though yet some fear of the contrary remains with him. Be­lief is a more full and assured assent to the truth, to which the mind may be brought four ways.

First, By the perfect intelligence of sense, not hinde­red or deceived. So I believe the truth of these proposi­tions, Fire is hot: water moist: honey is sweet: gall is bitter.

Secondly, By the native clearness of self-evidencing principles. So I believe the truth of these propositions, The whole is more than a part: the cause is before the effect.

Thirdly, By discourse, and rational deduction▪ So I be­lieve the truth of this proposition, Where all the parts of a thing are, there is the whole.

Fourthly, By infallible Testimony, when any thing is witnessed or asserted, by one whose truth is unquestiona­ble: and of this sort is the assent of faith: which is there­fore Nec enim dece­bat ut cum de­us ad homines loqueretur ar­gumentis asse­reret suas vo­ces, tanquam aliter fides ei non haberetur: sed ut oportuit est locutus, quasi rerum omnium maxi­mus judex, cu­jus est non ar­gumentari, sed pronunciare ve­rum, &c. La­ctantius de falsa religione p. (mihi) 179. Titubat fides ubi vacillat divinarum Scripturarum autoritas. Aug. call'd our receiving the witness of God, 1 Joh. 5. 9. our setting to our Seal that God is true, Joh. 3. 33. This prima veritas, divine veracity is the very formal object of faith: into this we resolve our faith. Thus saith the Lord, is that firm foundation upon which our assent is built: and thus we see good reason to believe those profound myste­ries of the incarnation of Christ, the Hypostatical Union of the two natures in his wonderful person, the mystical Union of Christ and believers, though we cannot understand these things by reason of the darkness of our minds. It satisfies the soul to find these mysteries in the written word, upon that foundation it firmly builds its assent: and without such an assent of faith, there can be no embracing of Christ: all acts of faith and religion without assent, are but as so ma­ny Arrows shot at randome into the open air, they signifie no­thing for want of a fixed determinate object.

It is theresore the policy of Satan, by injecting or fo­menting Atheistical thoughts (with which young Converts use to find themselves greatly infested) to undermine and destroy the whole work of faith: but God makes his people victori­ous over them: yea, and even at that time they do assent to the truths of the word, when they think they do not: [Page 119] as appears by their tenderness and fear of sin, their dili­gence and care of duty: If I discern these things in a Christians life, he must excuse me if I believe him not, when he saith he doth not assent to the truths of the Gospel.

Thirdly, our receiving Christ necessarily implies our hear­ty approbation, liking, and estimation, yea, the acquiescence of our very souls in Jesus Christ, as the most excellent, sui­table and compleat remedy for all our wants, sins and dangers that ever could be prepared by the wisdome and love of God for them: we must receive him with such a frame of heart as rests upon him, trusts to and relys upon him, if ever we re­ceive him aright: to them that believe he is precious, 1 Pet. 2. 7. this is the only soveraign plaister in all the world that is large enough, and efficacious enough to cure our wounds: and therefore as Christ is most highly esteemed, and heartily approved as the only remedy for our souls, so the soveraign grace and wisdome of God are admired, and the way and method he hath taken to save poor lost souls by Jesus Christ most heartily approved; as the most apt and excellent me­thod, both for his glory and our good, that ever could be taken: for 'tis a plain case, that none will espouse themselves with conjugal affections to that person whom they esteem not as the best for them that can be chosen: none will for­sake and quit all for his sake, except they account him as the spouse did, the chiefest of ten thousand, Cant. 5. 10.

There are two things in Christ which must gain the greatest approbation in the soul of a poor convinced sinner, and bring it to rest upon Jesus Christ.

First, That it can find nothing in Christ that is distastful or unsuitable to it, as it doth experimentally find in the best creatures. In him is no weakness but a fulness of all saving abilities; able to save to the uttermost: no Pride causing him to scorn and contemn the most wretched soul that comes to him: no inconstancy or levity, to cause him to cast off the soul whom he hath once received: no passion, but a Lamb for meekness and patience: there is not a spot to be found in him, but he is altogether lovely, Cant. 5. 16.

Secondly, As the believer can find nothing in Christ that is distastful, so it finds nothing wanting in Christ that is ne­cessary [Page 120] or desirable: such is the fulness of wisdome, righ­teousness, sanctification, and redemption that is in Christ, that nothing is left to desire, but the full enjoyment of him. O saith the soul, how compleatly happy shall I be, if I can but win Christ! I would not envy the Nobles of the earth, were I but in Christ. I am an hungry and a thirst, and Christ is meat indeed, and drink indeed; this is the best thing in all the world for me, because so necessary, and so sui­table to the needs of a soul ready to perish. I am a law-condemned, and a self-condemned sinner; trembling for fear of the execution of the curse upon me every moment; in Christ is compleat righteousness to justifie my soul; O there is nothing better for me than Christ. I see my self plunged both in nature and practice into the odious pollutions of sin, and in Christ is a fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness: his blood is a fountain of merit, his spirit a fountain of holiness and purity: none but Christ, none but Christ. O the manifold wisdome and unsearch­able love of God to prepare, and furnish such a Christ, so fully answering all the needs, all the distresses, all the fears and burdens of a poor sinner! Thus the believing soul approves of Christ as best for it. And thus in believing it gives glory to God, Rom. 4. 20.

Fourthly, Receiving Christ consists in the consent and choice of the will: and this is the opening of the heart, the opening and stretching forth of the soul to receive him: thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, Psal. 110. 3.

'Tis the great design and main scope of the Gospel to work over the wills of poor sinners to this: and this was the great complaint of Christ against the incredulous Jews, Joh. 5. 40. ye will not come unto me that ye might have life.

It is disputed by some whether faith can be seated in two distinct faculties, as we seem to place it, when we say it involves both the approbation of the judgement, and the consent of the will. I will not here intangle my discourse with that fruit­less dispute. I am of the same judgement with those Divines that think Faith cannot be expressed fully by any one single habit or act of the mind or will distinctly, for that (as one [Page 121] well notes) there are such descriptions given of it in Scri­pture, Dr. Owen in his Doctrine of Justificati­on, p. 135. Consensus deno­tare videtur concursum vo­luntatis cum intellectu, ad sentiendum i­dem quod intel­lectus sentit. 12 Q. 15. a. 1. Fides non est virtus simplex, sed diversis constat parti­bus, notitia, as­sensu, & fidu­cia, quae ad eandem poten­tiam non pertinent. Wendelini Theol. p. 450. such things are proposed as the object of it; and such is the experience of all that sincerely believe; as no one sin­gle act either of the mind or will can answer unto: nor do I see any thing repugnant to Scripture or Philosophy, if we place it in both faculties. Consent (saith Vasquez) seems to de­note the concourse of the will with the understanding: but to leave that, it is most certain, the saving justifying act of faith lies principally in the consent of the will, which consent is the effect of the almighty power of God, Eph. 1. 19. he allures and draws the will to Christ, and he draws with the cords of a man, (i. e.) he prevails with it by rational Argu­ments: for the soul being prepared by convictions of its lost and miserable estate by sin, and that there is but one door of hope open to it for an escape from the wrath to come, and that is Christ: being also satisfied of the fulness and com­pleatness of his saving ability, and of his willingness to make it over for our salvation upon such just and equal terms; this cannot but prevail with the will of a poor distressed sinner, to consent and chuse him.

Fifthly, and Lastly, The last and principal thing included in our receiving of Christ, is the respect that this act of accep­tance hath, unto the terms upon which Christ is tendred to us in the Gospel, to which it is most agreeable, 1 Cor. 15. 11. so we preach, and so ye believed: faith answers the Gospel offer Rom. 6. 17. [...]. The will like melted metal is delivered into the Gos­pel mould, where it re­ceives the same form and figure that the mould gives. as the impress upon the wax doth the engravings in the Seal: and this is of principal consideration, for there is no recei­ving Christ upon any other terms but his own, proposed in the Gospel to us: he will never come lower, nor make them easier than they are, for any mans sake in the world: we must either receive him upon these, or part with him for ever as thousands do, who could be content to agree to some Articles, but rather choose to be damned for ever, than sub­mit to all: this is the great controversie betwixt Christ and sinners: upon this many thousands break off the Trea­ty, and part with Christ; because he will not come to their terms: but every true believer receives him upon his own, (i. e.) their acceptance of him by faith is in all things consentaneous to the overtures made of him in the writ­ten word. So he tenders himself, and so they receive [Page 122] him; as will be evident in the following particulars.

First, The Gospel offers Christ to us sincerely and really, and so the true believer receives and accepts him: even with 1. a faith unfeigned, 1 Tim. 1. 5. If ever the soul be serious and in earnest in any thing, it it so in this: can we suppose the heart of him that flys for his life to the refuge City, to be serious and in earnest to escape by flight the Avenger of blood who pursues him, then is the heart of a convinced sinner seri­ous in this matter; for under that notion is the work of faith presented to us, Heb. 6. 18.

Secondly, Christ is offered to us in the Gospel intirely and undividedly, as cloathed with all his offices, Priestly, Prophe­tical, 2. and Regal: as Christ Jesus the Lord, Acts 16. 31. and so the true believer receives him: the hypocrite like the harlot is for dividing, but the sincere believer finds the need he hath of every office of Christ, and knows not how to want any thing that is in him.

His ignorance makes him necessary and desirable to him, as a Prophet: His guilt makes him necessary as a Priest: His strong and powerful Lusts and Corruptions makes him necessary as a King: and in truth he sees not any thing in Christ that he can spare; he needs all that is in Christ, and admires the infinite wisdome in nothing more than the investing Christ with all these offices, which are so suited to the poor sin­ners wants and miseries. Look as the three offices are undivided in Christ, so they are in the believers acce­ptance: and before this tryal, no hypocrite can stand, for all hypocrites reject and quarrel with something in Christ: they like his pardon, better than his govern­ment: they call him indeed Lord and master, but it is but an empty Tite they bestow upon him; for let them ask their own hearts, if Christ be Lord over their thoughts, as well as words: over their secret, as well as open actions: over their darling Lusts, as well as others: let them ask, who will appear to be Lord and master over them, when Christ and the world come in competition? when the pleasures of sin shall stand upon one side, and sufferings to death, and deepest points of self-denyal upon the other side? Surely 'tis the greatest affront that can be offered to the divine wisdome and goodness to separate in our acceptance, what is so [Page 123] united in Christ for our salvation and happiness. As with­out any one of these offices the work of our salvation could not be compleated, so without acceptance of Christ in them all, our Union with him by faith cannot be compleated.

The Gospel offer of Christ includes all his offices, and Gospel faith just so receives him, to submit to him, as well as to be redeemed by him: to imitate him in the holiness of his life, as well as to reap the purchases and fruits of his death. It must be an entire receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thirdly, Christ is offered to us in the Gospel exclusively, 3. as the alone and only saviour of sinners; with whose blood A man may as lawfully joyn Saints or Angels in his mediation with Christ, as graces. It is gross idolatry to make the works of God a God: and it is but a more subtil Idolatry to make the works of Christ a Christ. Burges de Lege. and intercession nothing is to be mixed: but the foul of a sinner is singly to rely and depend on him and no other. Acts 4. 2. 1 Cor. 3. 11. and so faith receives him, Psal. 71. 16. I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only. Phil. 3. 9. And be found in him not having my own righteousness which is of the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ: to depend partly upon Christs righteousness, and partly upon our own, is to set one foot upon a rock, and the other in a quick-sand: either Christ will be to us all in all, or nothing at all in point of righteousness and salvation: he affects not social honour: as he did the whole work, so he expects the sole praise: if he be not able to save to the uttermost, why do we depend upon him at all? and if he be, why do we lean upon any beside him?

Fourthly, The Gospel offers Christ freely to sinners as the gift, not the sale of God, Joh. 4. 10. Isa. 55. 1. Rev. 22. 17. and even so faith receives him. The believer comes to Christ with an empty hand, not only as an undeserving, but as an hell deserving sinner: he comes to Christ as to one that justifies the ungodly, Rom. 4. 5. Unto him that worketh not, but belie­veth in him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righte­ousness: where by him that worketh not, he means a convin­ced humbled sinner, who finds himself utterly unable to do the task the Law sets him (i. e.) perfectly to obey it; and therefore in a Law sense is said not to work: for it's all one as to the intent and purpose of the Law not to work and not to work perfectly: this he is convinced of, and therefore comes to Christ as one that is in himself ungodly, acknow­ledging the righteousness by which he alone can stand before [Page 124] God; is in Christ, and not in himself, in whole, or in part: and by the way, let this encourage poor souls that are scared and daunted for want of due qualifications, from closing with and embracing Christ: there is nothing qualifies any man for Christ more than a sense of his unworthiness of him, and the want of all excellencies or ornaments that may com­mend him to divine acceptance.

Fifthly, The Gospel offers Christ orderly to sinners, first his person, then his priviledges. God first gives his son, and then 5. with him, or as a consequent of that gift; he gives us all things, Rom. 8. 32. In the same order must our faith receive him. The believer doth not marry the portion first, and then the person: but to be found in him is the first and great care of a believer.

I deny not but it's lawful for any to have an eye to the benefits of Christ. Salvation from wrath is, and lawfully may be intended and aimed at: look unto me, and be ye saved all ye ends of the earth, Isa. 45. 22. Nor do I deny but there are many poor souls who being in deep distress and fear, may and often do look mostly to their own safety at first; and that there is much confusion as well in the actings of their faith, as in their condition; but sure I am it is the proper or­der in believing, first to accept the person of the Lord Je­sus: heaven is no doubt very desirable, but Christ is more: whom have I in heaven but thee? Psal. 73. 25. Union with Christ is in order of nature antecedent to the Communica­tion of his priviledges, therefore so it ought to be in the or­der and method of believing.

Sixthly, Christ is Advisedly offered in the Gospel to sinners, as the result of Gods eternal counsel, a project of grace upon which his heart and thoughts have been much set, Zech. 6. 13. 6. The counsel of peace was betwixt the Father and Son. And so the believer receives him, most deliberately weighing the matter in his most deep and serious thoughts: for this is a time of much solitude and thoughtfulness. The souls espou­sals are acts of judgement, Hosea 2. 19. on our part, as well as on Gods: we are therefore bid to sit down and count the cost, Luke 14. 28. Faith, or the actual receiving of Christ is the result of many previous debates in the soul: the mat­ter hath been ponder'd over and over: the objections and [Page 125] discouragements both from the self-denying terms of the Gospel, and our own vileness and deep guilt have been ru­minated, and lain upon our hearts day and night, and after all things have been ballanced in the most deep consideration, the soul is determined to this conclusion, I must have Christ be the terms never so hard, be my sins never so great and ma­ny, I will yet go to him and venture my soul upon him; if I perish I peri [...]h. I have thought out all my thoughts, and this is the result, union with Christ here, or separation from God for ever must be my lot.

And thus doth the Lord open the hearts of his elect, and win the consent of their wills to receive Jesus Christ up­on the deepest consideration, and debate of the matter in their own most solemn thoughts: they understand and know that they must deeply deny themselves, take up his cross and follow him, Matth. 16. 24. renounce not only sinsul but religious self; these are hard and difficult things, but yet the necessity and excellency of Christ makes them appear eligible, and rational: by all which you see faith is another thing than what the sound of that word (as it is generally understood) signifies to the understandings of most men. This is that fidu­cial receiving of Christ here to be opened.

Secondly, Our next work will be to evince this receiving 2. of Christ as it hath been opened, to be that special saving faith of Gods elect: this is that faith of which such great and glorious things are spoken in the Gospel, which whosoever hath shall be saved, and he that hath it not shall be damned: and this I shall evidently prove by the following Arguments or reasons.

Arg. 1.

First, That faith which gives the soul right and title to spiritual Adoption, with all the priviledges and benefits there­of, Arg. 1. is true saving Faith.

But such a receiving of Christ as hath been describ'd, gives the soul right and title to spiritual Adoption, with all the priviledges and benefits thereof.

Therefore such a receiving of Christ as hath been describ'd, is true and saving faith.

[Page 126] The Major proposition is undeniable, for our right and title to spiritual Adoption and the priviledges thereof rises from our Union with Jesus Christ; we being united to the son of God, are by vertue of that Union reckon'd or ac­counted sons. Gal. 3. 26. You are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ: the effect of saving faith is union with Christs person, the consequent of that Union is Adoption, or right to the inheritance.

The Minor is most plain in the Text: To as many as received him, to them gave he power or right to become the sons of God: a false faith hath no such priviledges annexed to it: no unbe­liever is thus dignified: no stranger entitled to this inheri­tance.

Arg. 2.

Secondly, That only is saving and justifying faith, which is in all true believers, in none but true believers; and in all Arg. 2. true believers at all times.

But such a receiving of Christ as hath been described, is in all true believers, in none but true believers; and in all true believers at all times.

Therefore such a receiving of Christ as hath been describ'd, is the only saving and justifying faith.

The Major is undenyable, that must needs contain the es­sence of saving faith which is proper to every true believer, at all times, and to no other.

The Minor will be as clear, for there is no other act of faith, but this of fiducial receiving Christ as he is offer'd, that doth agree to all true believers, to none but true believers; and to all true believers at all times.

There be three Acts of faith, Assent, Acceptance, and As­surance. The Papists generally give the essence of saving faith Actus fidei consistit in as­s [...], quo quis as­sentitur alicui propositioni à deo revelatae, propter autho­ritatem reve­lantis. Becan. Theol. Schol. Tom. 3. cap. 8. Q. 4. to the first, viz. Assent. The Lutherans and some of our own give it to the last, viz. Assurance: but it can neither be so, nor so. Assent doth not agree only to true believers or justi­fied persons. Assurance agrees to justified persons, and them only, but not to all justified persons, and that at all times.

Assent is too low to contain the essence of saving faith, it is found in the unregenerate as well as the regenerate: yea, in de­vils as well as men, Jam. 2. 19. 'tis supposed and included in justi­fying [Page 127] faith, but it is not the justifying or saving act. Assurance is as much too high: being found only in some eminent believers; Many new­born Christi­ans live like the new-born babe: vivit & est vitae nesci­us ipse suae: the whole stock of many a be­liever consists in the bare direct acts of faith. and in them too, but at some times: there's many a true believer to whom the joy and comfort of assurance is denyed: they may say of their Union with Christ, as Paul said of his vi­sion; whether in the body, or out of the body I cannot tell: so they, whether in Christ, or out of Christ they can­not tell.

A true believer may walk in darkness, and see no light, Isa. 50. 10. nay, a man must be a believer, before he know himself to be so: the direct act of faith is before the reflex act: so that the justifying act of faith lies neither in Assent, nor in Assurance. Assent saith, I believe that Christ is, and that he is the Saviour of the elect. Assurance saith, I believe and am sure that Christ dyed for me, and that I shall be saved through him. So that Assent widens the nature of faith too much, and Assurance upon the other hand straitens it too much: but Acceptance, which saith, I take Christ in all his offices to be mine, this fits it exactly, and belongs to all true believers, and to none but true believers; and to all true believers at all times: this therefore must be the justifying and saving act of faith.

Arg. 3.

Thirdly, That and no other is the justifying and saving act of faith, to which the properties and effects of saving faith do Arg. 3. belong, or in which they are only found.

But in the fiducial receiving of Christ, are the properties and effects of saving faith only found.

This therefore must be the justifying and saving act of faith.

First, By saving faith Christ is said to dwell in our hearts, Eph. 3. 17. but it is neither by assent, nor assurance, but by acceptance, and receiving him that he dwells in our hearts: not by assent, for then he would dwell in the unrege­nerate; nor by assurance, for he must dwell in our hearts before we can be assured of it; Therefore it is by acce­ptance.

Secondly, By faith we are justified, Rom. 5. 1. but nei­ther assent nor assurance for the reasons above, do justi­fie; [Page 128] therefore it must be by the receiving act and no other.

Thirdly, The Scripture ascribes great difficulties to that faith by which we are saved: as being most cross and oppo­site to the corrupt nature of man; but of all the acts of faith none is clog'd with like difficulties, or conflicts with greater oppositions than the receiving act doth: about this act hang the greatest difficulties, fears, and deepest self-denyal. In assent a mans reason is convinced, and yields to the evidence of truth, so that he can do no other but assent to the truth. In assu­rance there is nothing against a mans will or comfort, but much for it; every one desires it: but it is not so in ac­ceptance of Christ upon the self-denying terms of the Gos­pel, as will hereafter be evinced. We conclude there­fore, that in this consists the nature and essence of saving faith.

Thirdly, Having seen what the receiving of Jesus Christ 3. is, and that it is the faith by which we are justified and saved: I next come to open the Dignity and excellency of this faith, whose praises and Encomiums are in all the Scriptures: there you find it renowned by the title of precious faith, 2 Pet. 1. 7. enriching faith, Jam. 2. 5. the work of God, Joh. 6. 29. the great mystery of Godliness, 1 Tim. 3. 16. with many more rich Epithets throughout the Scriptures bestowed upon it.

Now faith may be considered two ways, viz. either

Qualitatively or
Relatively.

Considered qualitatively, as a saving grace, it hath the same excellency that all other precious saving graces have: as it is the fruit of the Spirit it is more precious than Gold, Prov. 8. 11, 19. and so are all other graces as well as faith: in this sense they all shine with equal glory, and that a glo­ry transcending all the glory of this world: but then consi­der faith Relatively as the instrument by which the righteous­ness of Christ is apprehended and made ours, and in that consideration it excels all other graces.

[Page 129] This is the grace that is singled out from among all other graces, to receive Christ, by which office it is dignified above all its fellows: as Moses was honoured above the many thousands of Israel, when God took him up into the Mount, admitted him nearer to himself than any other of all the Tribes might come; for they stood without the Rail, while Moses was received into the special presence of God, and was admitted to such views as others must not have: so faith is honoured above all its fellow graces in being sin­gled out, and solemnly anointed to this high office in our Justi­fication: this is that precious eye that looks unto Christ as the stung Israelites did to the brazen Serpent, and derives healing vertue from him to the soul. It is the grace which instrumentally saves us, Eph. 2. 8. as it's Christs glory to be the door of salvation, so it's Faiths glory to be the golden key that opens that door.

What shall I say of Faith? 'tis the bond of Union, the instrument of justification, the spring of spiritual peace and joy, the means of spiritual livelihood and subsistence: and therefore the great scope and drift of the Gospel, which aims at and presseth nothing more than to bring men and women to believe.

First, This is the bond of our Union with Christ: that Uni­on is begun in our vivification, and compleated in our actual receiving of Christ: the first is a bond of Union on the Spi­rits part, the second, a bond of Union on our part. Christ dwelleth in our hearts by faith, Eph. 3. 17. and herein it is a door opened to let in many rich blessings to the soul: for by uniting us to Christ, it brings us into special favour and acceptation with God, Eph. 1. 6. makes us the special objects of Christs conjugal love and delight, Eph. 5. 29. draws from his heart sympathy and tender sense of all our mi­series and burdens, Heb. 4. 15.

Secondly, 'Tis the instrument of our justification, Rom. 5. 1. till Christ be received, (thus received by us) we are in our sins, under guilt and condemnation; but when faith comes, then comes freedome: by him all that believe are justified from all things, Acts 13. 38. Rom. 8. 1. for it apprehends or re­ceives the pure and perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus, wherein the soul how guilty and sinful soever it be in it self, [Page 130] stands faultless and spotless before the presence of God: all Inveniri in Christo taci­tam habet re­lationem ad dei judicium; in iis nullam invenit con­demnationem, quia justitiâ, qualem esse re­quirit (i. e.) perfectâ accu­mulatâ exorna­tos nos inve­nit; nempe ju­stitia Christi per fidem nobis imputata. Bern. in Loc. obligations to punishment are upon believing immediately dissolved: a full and final pardon sealed. O precious faith, who can sufficiently value it!

What respect, Reader, wouldst thou have to that hand that should bring thee a Pardon when on the Ladder or Block! why, that pardon, which thou canst not read without tears of joy, is brought thee by the hand of faith. O inestimable grace! that cloaths the pure righteousness of Jesus upon our defiled souls: and so causes us to become the righteousness of God in him, or as it is 1 Joh. 3. 7. righteous as he is righteous: non formali & intrinsecâ Justitiâ, sed relativâ: not with a for­mal inherent righteousness of our own, but with a relative imputed righteousness from another.

I know this most excellent and most comfortable doctrine of imputed righteousness is not only denyed but derided by Papists. Stapleton calls it spectrum Cerebri Lutherani: the monstrous birth of Luthers brain: but blessed be God this comfortable truth is well secured against all attempts of its adversaries. Let their blasphemous mouths call it in derision as they do, putative righ­teousness, (i. e.) a meer fancied or conceited righteousness: yet we know assuredly Christs righteousness is imputed to us, and that in the way of faith. If Adams sin became ours by Imputation, then so doth Christs righteousness also become ours by Impu­tation, Rom. 5. 17. If Christ were made a sinner by the im­putation of our sins to him, who had no sin of his own; then we are made righteous by the imputation of Christs righte­ousness to us, who have no righteousness of our own; ac­cording to 1 Cor. 5. 21. This was the way in which Abraham the father of them that believe was justified, and therefore this is the way in which all believers, the children of Abra­ham, must in like manner be justified. Rom. 4. 22, 23, 24. Who can express the worth of faith in this one respect, if this were all it did for our souls?

But Thirdly, It is the spring of our spiritual peace and joy; and that as it is the Instrument of our Justificati­on. If it be an instrument of our Justification, it cannot but be the spring of our consolation. Rom. 5. 1. Being justi­fied by faith, we have peace with God: in uniting us with Christ, and apprehending and applying his righteousness to [Page 131] us, it becomes the seed or root of all the peace and joy of a Christians life. Joy the child of faith therefore bears its name, Phil. 1. 25. the joy of faith. So 1 Pet. 1. 8, 9. Belie­ving we rejoyce with joy unspeakable: we cannot forbear laugh­ing when we are tickled, nor can we forbear rejoycing while by faith we are brought to the sight and knowledge of such a priviledged state: when faith hath first given, and then cleared our title to Christ, Joy is no more under the souls command: we cannot but rejoyce, and that with Joy un­speakable.

Fourthly, It is the means of our spiritual livelihood and subsistance: all other graces like birds in the nest depend up­on what faith brings in to them: take away faith, and all the graces languish and dye: joy, peace, hope, patience, and all the rest depend upon faith, as the members of the natural body do upon the vessels by which blood and spirits are conveyed to them. The life which I now live (saith the Apostle) is by the faith of the Son of God, Gal. 2. 20. it pro­vides our ordinary food, and extraordinary Cordials, Psal. 27. 13. I had fainted unless I had believed. And seeing it is all this to our souls,

Fifthly, In the last place it is no wonder that it is the main scope and drift of the Gospel to press and bring souls to believing: 'tis the Gospels grand design to bring up the hearts of men and women to faith. The urgent commands of the Gospel aim at this, 1 Joh. 3. 23. Mark 1. 14, 15. Joh. 12. 36. hither also look the great promises and encourage­ments of the Gospel, Joh. 6. 35 & 37. so Mark 16. 16. And the opposite sin of unbelief is every where fearfully aggra­vated, and threatned, Joh. 16. 8, 9. Joh. 3. 18. 35. And this was the third thing premised, namely, a discovery of the transcendant worth and excellency of saving faith.

Fourthly, But lest we commit a mistake here, to the prejudice of Christs honour and glory, which must not be 4. given to another, no not to faith it self, I promised you in the fourth place to snew you upon what account faith is thus dignified and honoured: that so we may give unto faith, the things that are faiths; and to Christ, the things that are Christs.

[Page 132] And I find four opinions about the interest of faith in our Justification: some will have it to justifie us formally, not re­latively: (i. e.) upon the account of its own intrinsecal va­lue and worth, and this is the Popish sense of Justification by faith. Some affirm that though faith be not our perfect legal righteousness considered as a work of ours, yet the act of believing is imputed to us for righteousness (i. e.) God graciously accepts it instead of perfect legal righteousness, and so in his esteem it's our evangelical righteousness. And this is the Arminian sense of justification by faith.

Some there are also even among our reformed Divines that contend that faith justifies and saves us as it is the Condition of the new Covenant. And Lastly, others will have it to justifie us as an Instrument apprehending or receiving the righteousness of Christ; with which opinion I must close: when I consider my Text calls it a receiving of Christ: most certain it is

That First, It doth not justifie in the Popish sense, upon the account of its own proper worth and dignity: for then

First, Justification should be of debt, not of grace; con­trary to Rom. 3. 23, 24.

Secondly, This would frustrate the very scope and end of the death of Christ; for if righteousness come by the Law, (i. e.) by the way of works and desert, then is Christ dead in vain, Gal. 2. 21.

Thirdly, Then the way of our justification by faith would be so sar from excluding, that it would establish boasting, expressly contrary to the Apostle, Rom. 3. 26, 27.

Fourthly, Then there should be no defects or imperfecti­ons in faith, for a defective and imperfect thing can never be the matter of our Justification before God: if it justifie upon the account of its own worth and proper dignity, it can have no flaw nor imperfection in it, contrary to the common sense of all believers. Nay,

Fifthly, Then it's the same thing to be justified by faith, and to be justified by works, which the Apostle so carefully distinguisheth and opposeth, Phil. 3. 9. and Rom. 4. 6. so that we conclude it doth not justifie in the Popish sense, for any worth or proper excellency that is in it self.

Secondly, And it is as evident it doth not justifie us in the Arminian sense, viz. as the [...] credere, the Act of believing is [Page 133] imputed, or accepted by God as our Evangelical righteous­ness, instead of perfect legal righteousness. In the former opinion you have the dreggs of Popery, and here you have re­fined Popery. Let all Arminians know we have as high esteem for faith as any men in the world can have, but yet we will not rob Christ to cloath faith: we cannot embrace their opinion, because

First, We must then dethrone Christ, to exalt faith: we are willing to give it all that is due to it, but we dare not de­spoyl Christ of his glory for faiths sake: he is the Lord our righteousness, Jer. 23. we dare not set the servant above the master: we acknowledge no righteousness but what the obe­dience and satisfaction of Christ yields us: his blood, not our faith, his satisfaction, not our believing it, is the matter of our justification before God.

Secondly, We dare not yield this point, lest we undermine all the comfort of Christians by bottoming their pardon and peace upon a weak, imperfect work of their own. Oh how tottering and unstable must their station be, that stand upon such a bottom as this! what ups and downs are there in our faith, what mixtures of unbelief at all times, and prevalency of unbelief at some times; and is this a foundation to build our justification and hope upon? debile fundamentum fallit opus: if we lay the stress here, we build upon very loose ground, and must be at a continual loss both as to safety and comfort.

Thirdly, We dare not wrong the justice and truth of God at that rate, as to affirm that he esteems and imputes our poor weak faith for perfect legal righteousness: we know that the judgement of God is always according to truth: if Ergo quia fi­des Christum justitiam no­stram recipit & gratiae dei in Christo om­nia tribuit, ideo fidei tri­buitur justifi­catio, maxime propter Chri­stum, & non ideo quia no­strum opus est. Confess. Helv. [...]. the justice of God requires full payment, sure it will not say it's fully satisfied by any act of ours; when all that we can do amounts not to one mite of the vast summ we owe to God. So that we deservedly reject this opinion also.

Thirdly, And for the third opinion that it justifies as the Condition of the new Covenant, though some of great name and worth among our Protestant Divines seem to go that way, yet I cannot see according to this opinion any reason why re­pentance may not as properly be said to justifie us as faith, for it is a condition of the new Covenant as much as faith, and [Page 134] if faith justifie as a condition, then every other grace that is a condition must justifie as well as faith. I acknowledge faith to be a condition of the Covenant, but cannot allow that it justifies as a condition. And therefore must profess my self best satisfied in the last opinion, which speaks it an instrument in our justification: it is the hand which receives the righte­ousness of Christ that justifies us, and that gives it its value above all other graces: as when we say a Diamond Ring is worth one hundred pounds, we mean not the Gold that re­ceives, but the stone that is set in it is worth so much: faith consider'd as an habit is no more precious than other graci­ous habits are, but consider'd as an instrument to receive Christ, and his righteousness; so it excels them all: and this instru­mentality of faith is noted in those phrases [...]. Rom. 3. 28. and [...], Rom. 3. 22. by faith and through faith. And thus much of the nature and excellency of saving faith.

The Seventh SERMON. Serm. 7.

JOH. 1. 12. Text.‘But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God; even to them that be­lieve on his name.’

THe Nature and Excellency of saving faith, together with its relation to justification as an Instrument in receiving Christ and his righteousness, having been discoursed doctrinally already, I now come to make application of it according to the nature of this weighty and fruitful point.

And the Uses I shall make of it will be for our

  • 1. Information.
  • 2. Examination.
  • 3. Exhortation. And.
  • 4. Direction.

First Use of Information.

And in the first place this point yields us many and great 1. Use. and useful truths for our Information: as,

Infer. 1.

Is the receiving of Christ the vital and saving act of faith Infer. 1. which gives the soul right to the person and priviledges of Christ: Then it follows, That the rejecting of Christ by unbelief must needs be the damning and soul-destroying sin, which cuts a man off from Christ and all the benefits purchased by his blood. If there be life in receiving, there must needs be death in rejecting Christ.

There is no grace more excellent than faith, no sin more exe­crable and abominable than unbelief: faith is the saving grace, and unbelief is the damning sin. Mark 16. 16. He that believeth not shall be damned. See Joh. 3. 18, 36. and Joh. 8. 24.

And the reason why this sin of unbelief is the damning sin is this, because in the justification of a sinner, there must be a cooperation of all the Concauses that have a joint influence into that blessed effect: As there must be free grace for an impulsive cause, The blood of Christ as the meritorious cause; so of necessity there must be faith the Instrumental cause to receive and apply what the free grace of God designed, and the blood of Christ purchased for us. For where there are many social causes or concauses to produce one effect, there the effect is not produced till the last cause be in Act.

To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whoso­ever believeth in him shall receive remissions of sins, Acts 10. 43. Faith in its place is as necessary as the blood of Christ in its place: 'tis Christ in you the hope of glory, Col. 1. 27. not Christ in the womb, nor Christ in the grave, nor Christ in heaven, except he be also Christ in you.

Though Christ be come in the flesh, though he dyed and rose again from the dead; yet if you believe not, you must for all that, dye in your sins, Joh. 8. 24. and what a dreadful thing is this! better dye the death of a dog, better dye in a [Page 137] ditch, than dye in your sins: if you dye in your sins, you will also rise in your sins; and stand at the bar of Christ in your sins: you can never receive remission till first you have received Christ. O cursed unbelief, which damns the soul: dishonours God, 1 Joh. 5. 10. sleights Jesus Christ the wisdome of God, as if that glorious design of redemption by his blood, the triumph and master-piece of divine wisdome, were meer foolishness, 1 Cor. 1. 23, 24. frustrates the great design of the Gospel, Gal. 4. 11. and consequently it must be the sin of sins: the worst and most dangerous of all sins: leaving a man under the guilt of all his other sins.

Infer. 2.

If such a receiving of Christ as hath been described, be sa­ving and justifying faith? Then faith is a work of greater diffi­culty Infer. 2. than most men understand it to be, and there are but few sound believers in the world.

Before Christ can be received the heart must be emptied and opened: but most mens hearts are full of self righteous­ness, and vain confidence: this was the case of the Jews, Rom. 10. 3. being ignorant of Gods righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.

Mans righteousness was once in himself, and what liquor is first put into the vessel, it ever afterward savours of it: 'tis with Adams posterity as with Bees which have been accusto­med to go their own hive, and carry all thither; if the hive be removed to another place, they will still flye to the old place, hover up and down about it, and rather dye there, than go to a new place. So it is with most men. God hath removed their righteousness from doing, to believing: from themselves, to Christ; but who shall prevail with them to for­sake self? nature will venture to be damned rather than do it: there is much submission in believing, and great self deny­al: a proud self-conceited heart will never stoop to live up­on the stock of anothers righteousness.

Besides, it is no easie thing to perswade men to receive Christ as their Lord in all things, and submit their necks to his strict and holy precepts, though it be a great truth that [Page 138] Christs yoak doth not gall, but grace and adorn the neck that Jugum Christi non deterit, sed honestat colla. Bern. bears it; that the truest and sweetest liberty is in our free­dom from our lusts, not in our fulfilling them: yet who shall per­swade the carnal heart to believe this? and much less will men ever be prevailed withal to forsake father, mother, wife, children, inheritance, and life it self, to follow Christ: and all this upon the account of spiritual and invisible things: and yet this must be done by all that receive the Lord Jesus Christ upon Gospel terms: yea, and before the soul hath any encouraging experience of its own, to balance the manifold discouragements of sense and carnal reason, improved by the utmost craft of Satan to dismay it: for ex­perience is the fruit and consequent of believing. So that it may well be placed among the great mysteries of godli­liness, that Christ is believed on in the world, 1 Tim. 3. 16.

Infer. 3.

And then Thirdly, hence it will follow; that there may be more true and sound believers in the world than know or dare con­clude Infer. 3. themselves to be such. For as many ruine their own souls by placing the essence of saving faith in naked assent, so some rob themselves of their own comfort by placing it in full assu­rance. Faith and sense of faith are two distinct and separable mercies: you may have truly received Christ, and not re­ceive the knowledge or assurance of it, Isa. 50. 10. Some there be that say thou art our God, of whom God never said you are my people: these have no authority to be call'd the sons of God: others there are of whom God saith, these are my people, yet dare not call God their God: these have autho­rity to be call'd the sons of God, but know it not. They have received Christ, that's their safety; but they have not yet received the knowledge and assurance of it, that's their trouble: the Father owns his child in the Cradle, who yet knows him not to be his Father.

Now there are two reasons why many believers who might argue themselves into peace, do yet live without the comforts of their faith: and this may come to pass either from

[Page 139] First, The inevidence of the premises.

Secondly, Or the weighty importance of the conclu­sion.

First, It may come to pass from the inevidence of the pre­mises. Assurance is a practical Syllogism, and it proceeds thus:

All that truly have received Christ Jesus, they are the chil­dren of God.

I have truly received Jesus Christ,

Therefore I am the child of God.

The Major proposition is found in the Scripture, and there can be no doubt of that: the Assumption depends upon expe­rience, or internal sense. I have truly received Jesus Christ: here usually is the stumble, many great objections lye against it, which they cannot clearly answer: as,

Light and knowledge are necessarily required to the right 1. Ob. receiving of Christ, but I am dark and ignorant, many car­nal unregenerate persons know more than I do, and are more able to discourse of the mysteries of Religion than I am.

But you ought to distinguish of the kinds and degrees of Sol. knowledge, and then you would see that your bewailed ig­norance is no bar to your interest in Christ. There are two kinds of knowledge:

  • 1. Natural.
  • 2. Spiritual.

There is a natural knowledge even of spiritual objects, a spark of nature blown up by an advantagious education, and though the objects of this knowledge be spiritual things, yet the light in which they are discerned is but a meer natural light.

And there is a spiritual knowledge of spiritual things, the teaching of the anointing, as it's call'd 1 Joh. 2. 27. (i. e.) the effect and fruit of the Spirits sanctifying work upon our souls, when the experience of a mans own heart informs and teach­eth his understanding, when by feeling the workings of grace in our own souls, we come to understand its nature: this is spiritual knowledge. Now a little of this knowledge is a [Page 140] better evidence of a mans interest in Christ, than the most raised and excellent degree of natural knowledge: as the Phi­losopher truly observes: praestat paucula de meliori scientia degu­stasse, quam de ignobiliori multa: one drachm of knowledge of the best and most excellent things, is better than much know­ledge of common things. So it is here, a little spiritual know­ledge of Jesus Christ, that hath life and savour in it, is more than all the natural sapless knowledge of the unregenerate, which leaves the heart dead, carnal and barren: 'tis not the quantity but the kind, not the measure but the savour: if you know so much of the evil of sin as renders it the most bitter and burdensome thing in the world to you, and so much of the necessity and excellency of Christ, as renders him the most sweet and desirable thing in the world to you; though you may be defective in many degrees of knowledge, yet this is enough to prove yours to be the fruit of the Spirit: you may have a sanctified heart, though you have an irregu­lar or weak head: many that knew more than you are in hell, and some that once knew as little as you are now in heaven: in absoluto & facili stat aeternitas: God hath not pre­par'd heaven only for clear and subtil heads: a little sanctifi­fied and effectual knowledge of Christs person, offices, suita­bleness, and necessity may bring thee thither, when others with all their curious speculations and notions may perish for ever.

But you tell me that Assent to the truths of the Gospel is 2. Ob. necessarily included in saving faith, which though it be not the justifying and saving act, yet it is presupposed and re­quired to it: now I have many staggerings and doubtings about the certainty and reality of these things: many horrid atheistical thoughts, which shake the assenting act of faith in the very foundation, and hence I doubt I do not be­lieve.

There may be and often is a true and sincere assent found in the soul that is assaulted with violent atheistical suggesti­ons Sol. from Satan; and thereupon questions the truth of it: and this is a very clear evidence of the reality of our assent, that whatever doubts or contrary suggestions there be, yet we dare not in our practice contradict or slight those truths or duties which we are tempted to disbelieve. Ex. gr. [Page 141] we are assaulted with atheistical thoughts, and tempted to slight and cast off all fears of sin, and practice of religious duties, yet when it comes to the point of practice, we dare not commit a known sin, the awe of God is upon us: we dare not omit a known duty, the tye of conscience is found strong enough to hold us close to it: in this case, 'tis plain, we do really assent, when we think we do not. A man thinks he doth not love his child, yet carefully provides for him in health, and is full of grief and fears about him in sick­ness: why now, so long as I see all fath rly duties per­formed, and affections to his childs welfare manifested; let him say what he will as to the want of love to him, whilest I see this, he must excuse me if I do not believe him, when he saith he hath no love for him: Just so is it in this case, A man saith I do not assent to the being, necessity, or ex­cellency of Jesus Christ: yet in the mean time his soul is fill'd with cares and fears about securing his interest in him, he is found panting and thirsting for him with vehement desires, there's nothing in all the world would give him such joy, as to be well assured of an interest in him; while it is thus with any man, let him say or think what he will of his assent, it's manifest by this he doth truly and heartily assent, and there can be no better proof of it than these real effects produc'd by it.

Secondly, But if these, and other objections were never so fully answer'd for the clearing of the assumption, yet it of­ten falls out, that believers are afraid to draw the conclusi­on, and that fear arises partly from

First, The weighty importance of the matter.

Secondly, The sense of the deceitfulness of their own hearts.

First, The conclusion is of infinite importance to them, it is the everlasting happiness of their souls, than which nothing is or can be of greater weight upon their spirits: things in which we are most deeply concerned are not lightly and hastily received by us: it seems so great and so good, that we are still apt (if there be any room for it) to suspect the truth and certainty thereof, as never being sure enough.

[Page 142] Thus when the women that were the first messengers and witnesses of Christs resurrection, Luke 24. 10, 11. came and told the disciples those wonderful and comfortable ty­dings, it's said, that their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not: they thought it was too good to be true: too great to be hastily received: so is it in this case.

Secondly, The sense they have of the deceitfulness of their own hearts, and the dayly workings of hypocrisie there, makes them afraid to conclude in so great a point as this is.

They know that very many dayly cozen and cheat them­selves in this matter, they know also that their own hearts are full of falseness and deceit, they find them so in their daily observations of them, and what if they should prove so in this? why then they are lost for ever! they also know there is not the like danger in their fears and jealousies, that would be in their vain confidences and presumpti­ons: by the one they are only deprived of their present comfort, but by the other they would be ruined for ever: and therefore choose rather to dwell with their own fears, (though they be uncomfortable companions) than run the danger of so great a mistake, which would be infinitely more fatal. And this being the common case of most Chri­stians, it follows that there must be many more believers in the world than do think or dare conclude themselves to be such.

Infer. 4.

If the right receiving of Jesus Christ be true saving and justi­fying faith, then those that have the least and lowest degree and mea­sure Infer. 4. of saving faith, have cause for ever to admire the bounty and riches of the grace of God to them therein.

If you have received never so little of his bounty by the hand of providence in the good things of this life, yet if he have given you any measure of true saving faith, he hath dealt bountifully indeed with you: this mercy alone is enough to ballance all other wants and inconveniencies of this life. Poor in the world, rich in faith, James 2. 5. O let your hearts [Page 143] take in the full sense of this bounty of God to you, say with the Apostle, Eph. 1. 3. blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: and you will in this one mercy find matter enough of praise and thanksgiving, wonder and admiration to your dying day, yea, to all eternity: for do but consider

First, The smallest measure of saving faith which is found in any of the poople of God, receives Jesus Christ; and in receiving him what mercy is there which the belie­ving soul doth not receive in him and with him? Rom. 8. 32.

O believer, though the arms of thy faith be small and weak; yet they embrace a great Christ, and receive the richest gift that ever God bestowed upon the world: no sooner art thou become a believer, but Christ is in thee the hope of glory: and thou hast authority to become a son or daughter of God: thou hast the broad seal of hea­ven to confirm thy title and claim to the priviledges of Adoption, for to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God. To as many] be they strong, or be they weak; provided they really receive Christ by faith; there is authority or power given, so that it's no act of presumption in them to say God is our Father, heaven is our inheritance. Oh precious faith! the treasures of ten thou­sand worlds cannot purchase such priviledges as these: all the Crowns and Scepters of the earth sold at their full value, are no price for such mercies.

Secondly, The least degree of saving faith brings the soul into a state of perfect and full Justification. For if it re­ceives Jesus Christ, it must therefore needs in him, and with him receive a free, full, and final pardon of sin: the least measure of faith receives remission for the greatest sins. By him all that believe are justified from all things, Acts 13. 39. it unites thy soul with Christ, and then as the necessary con­sequent of that Union, there is no condemnation, Rom. 8. 1. [...] not one condemnation, how many soever our sins have been.

Thirdly, The least measure or degree of saving faith is a greater mercy than God hath bestowed, or ever will bestow [Page 144] upon many that are far above you in outward respects: all men have not faith: nay 'tis but a remnant among men that believe. Few of the Nobles and Potentates of the world have such a gift as this: they have houses and lands, yea, Crowns and Scepters, but no Faith, no Christ, no pardon: they have authority to rule over men, but no authority to become the sons of God, 1 Cor. 1. 26, 27.

Say therefore in thy most debased, straitned, afflicted con­dition, Return to thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.

Fourthly, The least degree of saving faith is more than all the power of nature can produce: there must be a speci­al revelation of the arm of the Lord in that work, Isa. 53. 1. Believers are not born of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God, Joh. 1. 12, 13. all believing motions towards Christ are the effects of the Fathers drawing, Joh. 6. 44. a glorious and irresistable power goes forth from God to produce it, whence it's call'd the faith of the operation of God, Col. 2. 12.

So then, Let not believers depise the day of small things: or overlook that great and infinite mercy which is wrapt up in the least degree of saving faith.

Inference 5.

Learn hence the impossibility of their salvation who neither know the nature, nor enjoy the means of saving faith. Infer. 5.

My soul pities and mourns over the infidel world. Ah what will become of the millions of poor unbelievers! there is but one door of salvation, viz. Christ; and but one Key of faith to open that door: and as that key was never given to the heathen world, so it's laid aside, or taken away from the people by their cruel guides, all over the Popish world: were you among them you should hear nothing else prest as necessary to your salvation but a blind implicite faith, to believe as the Church believes, that is, to believe they know not what.

To believe as the Pope believes, that is, as an Infidel be­lieves, for so they confess he may be, Non enim fides interior Roma­ni Po [...]tificis ecclesiae est ne­cessaria. Canus Loc. Theol. p. 344. and though there be such a thing as an explicite faith sometimes spoken of [Page 145] among them, yet it is very sparingly discoursed, very falsely described, and exceedingly slighted by them, as the veriest trifle in the world.

First, It is but sparingly discoursed of: they love not to accustome the peoples ears to such doctrine: one of them­selves confesses that there is so deep a silence of explicit par­ticular faith in the Romish Church that you may find many eve­ry where that believe no more of these things than heathen Navarr, cap. 11. p. 142. Philosophers.

Secondly, When it is preacht or written of, it is falsely described: for they place the whole nature and essence of justifying and saving faith in a naked assent: which the Devils have as well as men, James 2. 19. no more than this is prest upon the people at any time, as necessary to their salvation.

Thirdly, And even this particular explicit faith when it is spoken or written of is exceedingly slighted. I think if the De­vil himself were in the Pulpit, he could hardly tell how to bring men to a more low and slight esteem of faith; to re­present it as a verier trifle, and needless thing than these his Agents have done. Some (Petr. à S. Jo­seph. sum. Art. 1. p. 6.) say, if a man believe with a particular explicit faith (i. e.) if he actually assent to Scripture truths once in a year, it is enough. Yea, and others (Bonacina Tom. 2. in 1. praecept.) think it too much to oblige people to believe once in twelve months, and for their ease tell them if they believe once in twelve years it is sufficient: and lest this should be too great a task (Jo. Sanc. Disp. 41. n. 32.) others affirm that if it be done but once in their whole life, and that at the point of death too, it is enough, especially for the rude and common people. Good God! what do­ctrine is here! it was a saying long ago of Gregory (as I remember) malus minister est nisus di [...]boli: a wicked minister is the devils Gosshawk, that goes a birding for hell: and O what game have these hawks of hell among such numerous flocks of people! O bless God while you live for your de­liverance from Popery: and see that you prize the Gospel and means of grace you enjoy at an higher rate, lest God bring you once more under that yoak, which neither you nor your Fathers could bear.

Second Use for Examination.

Doth saving faith consist in a due and right receiving of the Lord Jesus Christ, then let me perswade you to examine 2. Use. your selves in this great point of faith. Reflect solemn­ly upon the transactions that have been betwixt Christ and your souls: think close on this subject of meditation.

If all you were worth in the world lay in one precious stone, and that stone were to be tried by the skilful Lapi­dary, whether it were true or false, whether it would flye or endure under the smart stroke of his Hammer, sure your thoughts could not be unconcerned about the issue: why, all that you are worth in both worlds depends upon the truth of your saith, which is now to be tried.

O therefore read not these lines with a running careless eye, but seriously ponder the matter before you: you would be loth to put to Sea, though it were but to cross the chan­nel, in a rotten leaky bottome: and will you dare to ven­ture into the ocean of eternity in a false rotten faith? God forbid: you know the Lord is coming to try every mans faith as by fire, and that we must stand or fall for ever with the sincerity or hypocrisie of our faith. Surely you can never be too exact and careful about that on which your whole estate depends, and that for ever.

Now there are three things upon which we should have a very tender and watchful eye for the discovery of the sinceri­ty of our faith, and they are

TheAntecedentsof Faith.
Concomitants
Consequents

As these are, so we must judge and reckon our faith to be. And accordingly they furnish us with three general Marks or tryals of faith.

First, If you would discern the sincerity of your faith exa­mine 1. Mark. whether those Antecedents and preparative works of the Spirit were ever found in your souls, which use to introduce and usher it into the souls of Gods Elect: such are illu­mination, [Page 147] conviction, self-despair, and earnest crys to God.

First, Illumination is a necessary antecedent to faith: you cannot believe till God hath opened your eyes to see your sin, your misery by sin, and your remedy in Jesus Christ alone: you find this act of the Spirit to be the first in order both of nature and time, and introductive to all the rest, Acts 26. 18. To turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God. As faith without works (which must be a consequent to it) is dead, so faith without light, which must be an Ante­cedent to it, is blind: faith is the hand by which Christ is received, but knowledge is the eye by which that hand is directed.

Well then, hath God opened your eyes to see sin and misery in another manner than ever you saw it before? for certainly if God have opened your eyes by saving illumina­tion, you will find as great a difference betwixt your former and present apprehensions of sin and danger, as betwixt a painted Lion upon the wall or sign post, and the real living Lion that meets you roaring in the way.

Secondly, Conviction is an Antecedent to believing: where this goes not before, no faith can follow after: the Spirit first convinces of sin, then of righteousness, Joh. 16. 8. So Mark 1. 15. repent ye, and believe the Gospel: believe it O man, that breast of thine must be wounded, that vain and frothy heart of thine must be pierced and stung with conviction, sense, and sorrow for sin: thou must have some sick days and restless nights for sin, if ever thou rightly close with Christ by faith: 'tis true, there is much difference found in the strength, depth, and continuance of conviction and spiri­tual troubles in converts, as there is in the labours and tra­vailing pains of women, but sure it is, the child of faith is not ordinarily born without some pangs. Conviction is the application of that light which God makes to shine in our minds, to our particular case and condition, by the consci­ence: and sure when men come to see their miserable and sad estate by a true light, it cannot but wound them, and that to the very heart.

Thirdly, Self-despair, or a total and absolute loss in our selves about deliverance, and the way of escape, either by [Page 148] our selves, or any other meer creature, doth and must go be­fore faith.

So it was with those believers, Acts 2. 37. men and bre­thren what shall we do? they are the words of men at a to­tal loss: it is the voyce of poor distressed souls that saw them­selves in misery, but knew not, saw not, nor could devise any way of escape from it, by any thing they could do for themselves, or any other creature for them: and hence the Apostle uses that emphatical word, Gal. 3. 23. [...] (i. e.) shut up to the faith, (i. e.) as men besieged and distres­sed in a garrison in time of a storm, when the enemy pours in upon them through the breaches, and over-powers them: there is but one sally-port or gate at which they can escape, and to that they all throng; as despairing of life if they take any other course: Just so do mens convictions besiege them, distress them, beat them off from all their holds and intrench­ments; and bring them to a pinching distress in themselves, shutting them up to Christ as the only way of escape. Duties cannot save me, reformation cannot save me, nor Angels nor men can save me; there is no way but one, Christ or Con­demnation for evermore.

I thought once that a little repentance, reformation, resti­tution, and a stricter life, might be a way to escape wrath to come; but I find the bed is too short, and the covering too narrow: all is but loss, dung, dross, in comparison with Jesus Christ: if I trust to those Aegyptian reeds, they will not only fail me, but pierce and wound me too. I see no hope within the whole Horizon of sense.

Fourthly, Hence come vehement and earnest crys to God for faith, for Christ, for help from heaven to transport the soul out of this dangerous condition, to that strong rock of salvation: to bring it out of this farious stormy Sea of trouble where it's ready to wreck every moment, into that safe and quiet harbour Christ.

O when a man shall see his misery and danger, and no way of escape but Christ, and that he hath no ability in himself to come to Christ, to open his heart thus to receive him, but that this work of faith is wholly supernatural, the operati­on of God; How will the soul return again and again upon God with such crys as that Mark 9. 24. Lord help my unbelief. [Page 149] Lord enable me to come to Christ: give me Christ or I perish for ever: what profit is there in my blood? why should I dye in the sight and presence of a Saviour? O Lord it is thine own work and a most glorious work: reveal thine arm in this work upon my soul, I pray thee: give me Christ, if thou deny me bread: give me faith, if thou deny me breath: it's more necessary that I believe, than that I live.’

O Reader, reflect upon the days and nights that are past, the places where thou hast been conversant: where are the bed-sides, or the secret corners where thou hast besieged hea­ven with such crys? if God have thus inlightned, convin­ced, distressed thy soul, and thus set thee a mourning after Christ, it will be one good sign that faith is come into thy soul; for here are certainly the Harbingers and fore runners of it, that ordinarily make way for faith into the souls of men.

Secondly, If you would be satisfied of the sincerity and truth 2. Mark. of your faith, then examine what Concomitants it is attended with in your souls. I mean what frames and tempers your souls were in at that time when you think you received Christ. For certainly in those that receive Christ (excepting those in­to whose hearts God hath in a more still and insensible way infused faith betime, by his blessing upon pious education) such concomitant frames of Spirit may be remarkt, as these following.

First, The heart is deeply serious, and as much in earnest in this matter, as ever it was, or can be about any thing in the world. This you see in that example of the Jaylor, Acts 16. 29. he came in trembling and astonished: it is the most solemn and important matter that ever the soul had before it in this world, or ever shall, or can have: how much are the hearts of men affected in their outward straits and distresses about the concernments of the body? their hearts are not a little concern'd in such questions as these, What shall I eat? what shall I drink? where withal shall I and mine be fed and cloathed? but certainly the straits that souls are in about salvation, must be allowed to be greater than these; and such questions as that of the Jaylors; Sirs! what must I do to be saved? make deeper impressions upon the [Page 150] heart, than what shall I eat, or drink? Some indeed have their thoughts sinking deeper into these things than others: these thoughts lye with different degrees of weight upon men: but all are most solemnly and awfully concern­ed about their condition: all frothiness and frolicks are gone, and the heart settles it self in deepest earnest about its eternal state.

Secondly, The heart that receives Jesus Christ is in a frame of deep humiliation and self-abasement. O when a man be­gins to apprehend the first approaches of grace, pardon and mercy [...]y Jesus Christ to his soul: a soul convinced of its utter unworthiness, and desert of hell; and can scarce ex­pect any thing else from the just and holy God but damna­tion; how do the first dawnings of mercy melt and humble it! ‘O Lord what am I that thou shouldest feed me and preserve me! that thou shouldest but for a few years spare me, and forbear me! but that ever Jesus Christ should love me and give himself for me, that such a wretched sinner as I should obtain Union with his person, pardon, peace and salvation by his blood! Lord whence is this to such a worm as I? and will Christ indeed bestow himself upon me? shall so great a blessing as Christ ever come within the arms of such a soul as mine? will God in very deed be reconciled to me in his son? what to me! to such an enemy as I have been! shall my sins which are so many, so horrid, so much aggravated beyond the sins of most men, be forgiven me? O what am I vile dust, base wretch, that ever God should do this for me!’ And now is that Scripture indeed fulfill'd and made good, Ezech. 16. 63. That thou maist remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I am pacified towards thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God. Thus that poor broken-hearted believer stood behind Christ weeping, and washing his feet with tears; as one quite melted down and overcome with the sense of mercy to such a vile sinner, Luke 7. 38.

Thirdly, The soul that receives Jesus Christ is in a weary Condition, restless and full of disquietness, neither able to bear the burden of sin, nor knowing how to be discharged from it; except Christ will give it ease, Matth. 11. 28. Come unto me, [Page 151] that is believe in me, you that are weary and heavy laden: if they do not look into their own souls they know there's no safety, and if they do, there's no comfort. O the burdensome sense of sin overweighs them: they are ready to fail, to sink un­der it.

Fourthly, The soul that rightly receives Christ is not on­ly in a weary, but in a longing condition: never did the hart pant more earnestly for the water-brooks: never did the hire­ling desire the shadow, never did a condemned person long for a pardon, more than the soul longs after Jesus Christ. O said David, that one would give me of the waters of the well of Bethlehem to drink. O saith the poor humbled sinner, that one would give me of the open'd fountain of the blood of Christ to drink! O for one drop of that precious blood! O for one encouraging smile from Christ! O now were ten thousand worlds at my command, and Christ to be bought; how freely would I lay them all down to purchase him! but he is the gift of God. O that God would give me Christ if I should go in raggs, and hunger and thirst all my days in this world!

Fifthly, The soul in the time of its closing with or recei­ving Christ is in a state of conflict: it hangs betwixt hopes and fears, encouragements and discouragements, which occa­sion many a sad stand and pause in the way to Christ; some­times the number and nature of its sins discourage it, then the riches and freeness of the grace of Christ erects his hopes again: there's little hope, saith unbelief, nay it's utterly impossible saith Satan, that ever such a wretch as thou shouldst find mercy; now the hands hang down. O but then there's a necessity, an absolute necessity; I have not the choice of two, but am shut­up to one way of deliverance: others have found mercy, and the invitation is to all that are weary, and to all that are a­thirst: he saith he that cometh to him, he will in no wise cast­out; now new hopes inspire the soul, and the hands that did hang down are again strengthned.

These are the Concomitant frames that accompany faith.

Lastly, Examine the Consequents and effects of Faith if you 3. Mark. would be satisfied of the truth and sincerity of it: and such are

[Page 152] First, Evangelical meltings, and ingenuous thawings of the heart under the apprehensions of grace and mercy: Zech. 12. 10. They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and shall mourn.

Secondly, Love to Christ, his ways and people. Gal. 5. 6. Faith worketh by love, (i. e.) it represents the love of God, and then makes use of the sweetness of it by way of ar­gument to constrain the soul to all acts of obedience, where­in it may testifie the reality of its love to God and Christ.

Thirdly, Heart purity, Acts 15. 9. purifying their hearts by faith: it doth not only cleanse the hands but the heart: no principle in man besides faith can do this: morality may hide corruption, but faith only purifies the heart from it.

Fourthly, Obedience to the commands of Christ, Rom. 16. 26. the very name of faith is call'd upon obedience: for it accepts Christ as Lord, and urges upon the soul the most powerful arguments in the world to draw it to obe­dience.

In a word, let the poor doubting believer that que­stions his faith, reflect upon those things that are un­questionable in his own experience, which being well considered will greatly tend to his satisfaction in this point.

It's very doubtful to you whether you believe, but yet in the mean while, it may be past doubt, (being a matter of clear experience) that you have been deeply convinced of sin, struck off from all carnal props and refuges, made wil­ling to accept Jesus Christ upon what terms soever you might enjoy him: you doubt whether Christ be yours, but it's past doubt that you have a most high and precious esteem of Christ, that you heartily long for him, that you prize and love all, whether persons or things, that bears his image: that nothing in the world would please your hearts like a trans­formation into his likeness, that you had rather your souls should be fill'd with his Spirit, than your houses with Gold and Silver. 'Tis doubtful whether Christ be yours, but it's past doubt that one smile from Christ, one token of his love, would do you more good than all the honours and smiles of the world; and nothing so grieves you, as your [Page 153] grieving him by sin doth: you dare not say that you have re­ceived him, nor can you deny but that you have had many sick days and nights for him: that you have gone into many secret places with yearning bowels after him: whether he be yours or not, you cannot tell; but that you are resolved to be his, that you can tell: whether he will save you is a doubt, but that you resolve to lye at his feet, and wait only on him, and never look to another for salvation, is no doubt.

Well, well; poor pensive soul, if it be so, arise, lift up thy dejected head, take thine own Christ into thy arms. These are undoubted signs of a real closure with Christ: thou makest thy self poor, and yet hast great riches: such things as these are not found in them that despise and reject Christ by unbelief.

3. Use of Exhortation.

This point is likewise very improveable by way of Exhor­tation, 3. Use. and that both to

  • Unbelievers and
  • Believers.

First, To unbelievers who from hence must be prest, as ever they expect to see the face of God in peace, to receive Je­sus Christ as he is now offered to them in the Gospel: this is the very scope of the Gospel, I shall therefore press it by three great Considerations: viz.

First, What is in Christ whom you are to receive.

Secondly, What is in the offer of Christ by the Gospel.

Thirdly, What is in the rejecting of that offer.

First Motive.

First, Consider well what is in Christ whom I perswade you this day to receive: did you know what is in Christ, you Motive 1. would never neglect or reject him as you do: For

[Page 154] First, God is in Christ, 2 Cor. 5. 19. the Deity hath cho­sen to dwell in his flesh, he is God manifest in flesh, 1 Tim. 3. 16. a Godhead dwelling in flesh is the worlds wonder: so that in receiving Christ, you receive God himself.

Secondly, The Authority of God is in Christ, Ex [...] 23. 21. My name is in him: him hath God the father sealed, Joh. 6. 27. he hath the Commission, the great seal of heaven to redeem and save you: all power in heaven and earth is given to him, Matth. 28. 18. he comes in his Fathers name to you, as well as in his own name.

Thirdly, The wisdome of God is in Christ, 1 Cor. 1. 24. Christ the wisdom of God: yea, in him are hid all the treasures of wisdome and knowledge, Col. 2. 3. Never did the wisdome of God display it self before the eyes of Angels and men as it hath done in Christ. The Angels desire to look into it, 1 Pet. 1. 12. yet they are not so much concerned in the project and design of this wisdome in redemption as you are.

Fourthly, The fulness of the Spirit is in Christ: yea, it fills him so as it never did nor will fill any creature, Joh. 3. 34. God giveth not the Spirit by measure to him: all others have their li­mits, stints, and measures; some more, some less; but the Spirit is in Christ without measure. O h [...]w lovely and de­sirable are those men that have a large measure of the Spirit in them! but he is anointed with the Spirit of holiness above all his fellows, Psal. 45. 2, 7. Whatever grace is found in all the Saints which makes them desirable and lovely, wisdome in one, faith in another, patience in a third; they all Centre in Christ as the rivers do in the Sea: quae faciunt divisa beatum, in hoc mixta [...].

Fifthly, The righteousness of God is in Christ, by which on­ly a poor guilty sinner can be justified before God. 2 Cor. 5. 21. we are made the righteousness of God in him: he is [...] the Lord our righteousness, Jer. 23. 6. (i. e.) the (i. e.) Auto­rem justitiae no­strae. Calv. in Loc. author of our righteousness, or the Lord who justifies us: by that name he shall be known and call'd by his people, than which none can be sweeter.

Sixthly, The love of God is in Christ: yea, the very yearn­ing bowels of divine love are in him: what is Christ but the love of God wrapt up in flesh and blood? 1 Joh. 4. 9, 10. In this was manifested the love of God towards us, and herein is love [Page 155] that God sent his Son: this is the highest [...] that ever di­vine love made, and higher than this it [...] mount. O love, unparalell'd and admirable!

Seventhly, The mercies and compassions of Christ are all in Christ, Jude v. 21. Mercy is the thing that poor sinners want, it's that they cry for at the last gasp, it's the only thing that can do them good. O what would they give to find mercy in that great day? Why, if you receive Christ, you shall with him receive mercy: but out of him there is no mercy to be expected from the hands of God: for God will never exercise mercy to the prejudice of his Justice, and it is in Christ that justice and mercy meet and embrace each other.

Eighthly, To Conclude, The salvations of God are in Christ. Acts 4. 12. Neither is there salvation in any other. Christ is the d [...]r of salvation, and Faith is the key that opens that door to men: if you therefore believe not, (i. e.) if you so receive not Jesus Christ as God hath offer'd him, you exclude your selves from all hopes of salvation. The Devils have as much ground to expect salvation as you: you see what is in Christ to induce you to receive him.

Motive 2.

Next, I beseech you confider what there is in the offer Motive 2. of Christ to sinners, to induce you to receive him. Con­sider well to whom, and how Christ is offered in the Go­spel.

First, To whom he is offered: not to the fallen Angels but to you: they lye in chains of darkness, Jude 6. as he took not their nature, so he designs not their recovery; and therefore will have no treaty at all with them: but he is offe­red to you, creatures of an inferiour rank and order by na­ture: nor is he offered to the damned, the treaty of peace is ended with them. Christ will nevermake them another ten­der of salvation: nor is he offered to millions of millions as good as you [...]ow living in the word: the sound of Christ and Salvation is not come to their ears; but he is offered to you by the special favour and bounty of heaven: and will you not receive him? O then how will the devils, the dam­ned: [Page 156] and the heathens upbraid your folly! and say, had we had one such tender of mercy of which you have had thou­sands, we would never have been now in this place of tor­ments.

Secondly, Consider how Christ is offered to you, and you shall find that he is offered,

First, Freely, as the gift of God to your souls: you are not to purchase him, but only to receive him, Isa. 55. 1. Ho, every one that thirsteth come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money let him come, &c.

Secondly, Christ is offered importunately by repeated in­treaties, 2 Cor. 5. 20. As though God did beseech you, we pray you in Christs stead, be ye reconciled to God. O what amazing condescension is here in the God of mercy! God now be­seeches you, will you not yield to the intreaties of your God? O then what wilt thou say for thy self when God will not hear thee, when thou shalt intreat and cry for mercy? Which brings us to the

Motive 3.

Consider the sin and danger that there is in refusing or Motive 3. neglecting the present offers of Christ in the Gospel, and surely there is much sin in it: the very malignity of sin, and the summ of all misery lyes here: for in refusing Christ,

First, you put the greatest contempt and slight upon all the Attributes of God that it is possible for a creature to do: God hath made his justice, his mercy, his wisdome, and all his attributes to shine in their brightest glory in Christ: never was there such a display of the glory of God made to the world in any other way.

O then, what is it to reject and despise Jesus Christ, but to offer the greatest affront to the glory of God that it is pos­sible for men to put upon him?

Secondly, you hereby frustrate and evacuate the very design and importance of the Gospel to your selves, you receive the grace of God in vain, 2 Cor. 6. 1. as good, yea, better had it been for you, that Christ had never come into the world, or if he had, that your lot had fallen in the dark places of [Page 157] the earth where you had never heard his name: yea, good had it been for that man if he had never been born.

Thirdly, hereby a man murthers his own soul. I said there­fore unto you that you shall dye in your sins; for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall dye in your sins, Joh. 8. 24. unbelief is self­murther: you are guilty of the blood of your own souls: life and salvation was offered you, and you rejected it: yea,

Fourthly, The refusing of Christ by unbelief will aggravate your damnation, above all others that perish in ignorance of Christ. O 'twill be more tolerable for heathens than for you: the greatest measures of wrath are reserved to punish the worst of sinners, and among sinners none will be found worse than unbelievers.

Secondly, To Believers, this point is very useful to per­swade 2. them to divers excellent duties: among which I shall sin­gle out two principal ones.

Viz.
  • 1. To bring up their faith of acceptance to the faith of assurance.
  • 2. To bring up their conversations to the princi­ples and rules of faith.

First, You that have received Jesus Christ truly, give your selves no rest till you are fully satisfied that you have done so: acceptance brings you to heaven hereafter, but assurance will bring heaven into your souls now. O what a life of delight and pleasure doth the assured believer live! what pleasure is it to him to look back and consider where once he was, and where now he is: to look forward and con­sider where he now is! and where shortly he shall be! I was in my sins, I am now in Christ, I am in Christ now, I shall be with Christ and that for ever, after a few days. I was upon the very brink of hell, I am now upon the very borders of heaven; I shall be in a little while among the innumerable company of Angels and glorified Saints bear­ing part with them in the Song of Moses and of the Lamb for evermore.

And why may not you that have received Christ, receive the comfort of your union with him? there be all the grounds and [Page 158] helps to assurance furnisht to your hand: there is a real union Viget ap [...]d nos spei immobilis virtus & fir­mitas. Cypr. Sermone de patientia. betwixt Christ and your souls, which is the very groundwork of assurance: you have the Scriptures before you which con­tain the signs of faith, and the very things within you that answer those signs in the word. So you read, and so, just so you might feel it in your own hearts, would you attend to your own experience. The spirit of God is ready to seal you, 'tis his office and his delight so to do: ▪O therefore give dili­gence to this work, attend the study of the Scriptures, and of your own hearts more, and grieve not the holy Spi­rit of God, and you may arrive to the very desire of your hearts.

Secondly, Bring up your conversations to the excellent principles and rules of faith. As you have received Christ Je­sus the Lord, so walk in him, Col. 2. 6. live as you believe: you received Christ sincerely in your first close with him, O main­tain the like seriousness and sincerity in all your ways to the end of your lives: you received him intirely and undividedly at first, let there be no exceptions against any of his com­mands afterward: you received him exclusively to all others; see that you watch against all self-righteousness and self-con­ceitedness now, and mingle nothing of your own with his blood, whatever gifts or enlargements in duty God shall give you afterwards.

You received him advisedly at first, weighing and consider­ing the self-denying terms upon which he was offered to you, O shew that it was real, and that you see no cause to repent the bargain, whatever you shall meet with in the ways of Christ and duty afterwards. Convince the world of your constancy and chearfulness in all your sufferings for Christ, that you are still of the same mind you were, and that Christ with his cross, Christ with a prison, Christ with the great­est afflictions is worthy of all acceptation: as you have received him, so walk ye in him: let him be as sweet, as lovely, as precious to you now, as he was the first moment you received him: yea, let your love to him, delights in him, and self-deny­al for him, increase with your acquaintance with him day by day.

4 Use of Direction. 4. Use.

Lastly, I will close all with a few words of direction to all that are made willing to receive the Lord Jesus Christ: and sure it is but need that help were given to poor Christians in this matter, it is a time of trouble, fear, and great temptation: mistakes are easily made, and of dan­gerous consequence: attend heedfully therefore to a few di­rections.

Direction 1.

First, In your receiving Christ beware you do not mistake Direct. 1. the means, for the end: many do so, but see you do not: Prayer, Sermons, Reformations are means to bring you to Christ, but they are not Christ: to close with those du­ties is one thing, and to close with Christ is another thing: if I go into a Boat, my design is not to dwell there, but to be carried to the place whereon I desire to be landed. So it must be in this case, all your Duties must land you upon Christ: they are but means to bring you to Christ.

Direction 2.

Secondly, See that you receive not Christ for a present shift, Direct. 2. but for your everlasting portion: many do so, they will en­quire after Christ, pray for Christ, cast themselves (in their way) upon Christ, and the satisfaction of his blood; when the efficacy and terrour of conscience is upon them; and they feel the sting of guilt within them: but assoon as the storm is over, and the rod that conscience shak't over them laid by; there's no more talk of Christ then: alas, it was not Christ but quietness that they sought: beware of mistaking peace for Christ.

Direction 3.

Thirdly, In receiving Christ come empty handed unto him: believing in him that justifies the ungodly, Rom. 4. 5. and Direct. 3. know that the deepest sense of your own vileness, empti­ness, and unworthiness is the best frame of heart that can accompany you to Christ: many persons stand off from Christ for want of fit qualifications, they are not prepa­red for Christ as they should be, (i. e.) they would not come naked, and empty, but have something to commend them to the Lord Jesus for acceptance. O this is the pride of mens hearts, and the snare of the Devil: let him that hath no money come: you are not to come to Christ be­cause you are qualified, but that you may be qualified with whatever you want, and the best qualification you can bring with you, is a deep sense that you have no worth nor excel­lency at all in you.

Direction 4.

Fourthly, In receiving Christ, beware of dangerous delays. Direct. 4. O follow on that work till it be finished: you read of some that are almost perswaded, and others not far from the kingdome of God. O take heed of sticking in the birth, Hosea 13. 13. delays here are full of danger, life is un­certain, so are means of grace too: the man-slayer needed no motives to quicken his flight to the refuge City.

Direction 5.

Fifthly, See that you receive all Christ with all your heart: to receive all Christ is to receive his person cloathed with all Direct. 5. his offices; and to receive him with all your heart, is to receive him into your understanding, will, and all the af­fections, Acts 8. 37. As there is nothing in Christ that may be refused, so there is nothing in you from which he must be excluded.

Direction 6.

Lastly, Understand that the opening of your hearts to receive the Lord Jesus Christ, is not a work done by Direct. 6. any power of your own, but the arm of the Lord is re­vealed therein, Isa. 53. 1. It is therefore your duty and interest to be daily at the feet of God, pouring out your souls to him in secret, for abilities to believe. And so much as to our actual reception of Christ.

Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.

The Eighth SERMON. Serm. 8.

PSAL. 45. 7.‘—Therefore God thy God, hath anointed thee with Text. Setting forth the Believers fellowship with Christ, the next end of his Applicati­on to them.—the oyl of gladness above thy fellows.’

THe Method of grace in uniting souls with Jesus Christ, hath been opened in the former discourses, thus doth the Spirit (whose office it is) make ap­plication of Christ to Gods elect: The result and next fruit whereof is Communion with Christ in his graces and benefits: our Mystical union is the very ground-work and foundation of our sweet soul-enriching Communion, and participation of spiritual priviledges; we are first ingraffed into Christ, and then suck the sap and fatness of that root: first married to the person of Christ, then endowed and en­stated in the priviledges and benefits of Christ. This is my proper work to open at this time, and from this Scri­pture.

The words read are a part of that excellent song of love, that heavenly Epithalamium, wherein the spiritual espousals of [Page 163] Christ and the Church are figuratively, and very elegantly Hic Psalmus propheticus est, continetque E­pithalamium quo Christi cum ecclesia nuptiae cele­brantur, idem (que) habet argumen­tum quod can­ticum cantico­rum, ejus (que) vi­detur esse Epi­tome. Coc. in Loc. celebrated and shadowed. The subject matter of this Psalm is the very same with the whole book of the Canticles: and in this Psalm under the figure of King Solomon and the daughter of Aegypt whom he espoused, the spiritual espousals of Christ and the Church are set forth and represented to us. Among many rapturous and elegant expressions in pra [...]e of this glo­rious bridegroom Christ, this is one which you have before you. God thy God hath anointed thee with the oyl of gladness above thy fellows: (i. e.) enriched and fill'd thee in a singular and peculiar manner with the fulness of the Spirit, whereby thou art consecrated to thy office; and by reason whereof thou out-shinest and excellest all the Saints who are thy fellows or Copartners in these graces. So that in these words you have two parts,

Viz.
  • First, The Saints dignity, and
  • Secondly, Christs preeminency.

First, The Saints dignity which consists in this, that they are Christs fellows, the Hebrew word— [...] is very full and 1. Consortes, par­ticipes, sodales, socios. copious, and is translated consorts, companions, copartners, partakers, or as ours reads it, fellows, (i. e.) such as are partakers with him in the anointing of the Spirit: who do Vox Hebr [...] quodcun (que) soci­etatis sive com­munionis genus significat. Muis. in their measure receive the same Spirit, every Christian be­ing anointed, modo sibi proportionato, with the same grace, and dignified with the same titles. 1 Joh. 2. 27. Rev. 1. 6. Christ and the Saints are in common one with another: doth the Spirit of holiness dwell in him? so it doth in them too: is Christ King and Priest? why, so are they too by the grace of Union with him. He hath made us Kings and Priests to God, and his Father. This is the Saints dignity to be Christs fel­lows, consorts, or copartners: So that look whatever grace or spiritual excellency is in Christ, it is not impropriated to himself, but they do share with him; for indeed he was fill'd with the fulness of the Spirit for their sakes and use: as the Sun is fill'd with light not to shine to it self, but to others; so is Christ with grace: and therefore some translate the Text not pr [...] consortibus, above thy fellows, but propter consortes, for thy [...]. fellows: making Christ the first recepta [...]le of all grace, who [Page 164] first and immediately is fill'd from the fountain the Godhead, but it is for his people who receive and derive from him ac­cording to their proportion.

This is a great truth, and the dignity of the Saints lyes chiefly in their partnership with Christ, though our translation above thy fellows suits best both with the importance of the word and scope of the place.

Secondly, But then whatever dignity is ascribed herein to the Saints, there is and still must be a preeminency acknow­ledged 2. in and ascribed to Christ: if they are anointed with the Spirit of grace, much more abundantly is Christ: God, thy God hath anointed thee with the oyl of gladness above thy fellows.

By the oyl of gladness, understand the spirit of holiness: compared here with oyl, of which there was a double use Oleum ipsum est limpidum & pellucidum & flammis fo­mentum & ali­moniam suppe­ditat; inde sumpta meta­phora ungere in scriptura saepe significat spiri­tu sancto intus a [...]imum illu­strare, & ac­cendere in eo veram-agnitio­nem dei & mo­tus congruentes cum deo. Mol­lerus in Loc. under the Law, viz. a Civil, and a Sacred use: it had a sa­cred and solemn use in the inauguration, and consecration of the Jewish Kings, and High Priests: it had also a civil and common use, for the anointing their bodies to make their limbs more agile, expedite and nimble: To make the face shine, for it gave a lustre, freshness, and liveliness to the countenance: it was also used in Lamps to feed and maintain the fire, and give them light: these were the prin­cipal uses of oyl. Now, upon all these accounts it excel­lently expresseth, and figuratively represents to us the Spi­rit of grace poured forth upon Christ and his peo­ple: For

First, By the spirit poured out upon him, he was prepared for and consecrated to his offices, he was anointed with the holy Ghost and with power, Acts 10. 38.

Secondly, As this precious oyl runs down from Christ the head to the borders of his garments, I mean as it is shed up­on believers, so it exceedingly beautifies their faces, and makes them shine with glory.

Thirdly, It renders them apt, expedite and ready to every good work: non tar dat unctarota.

Fourthly, It kindles and maintains the flame of divine love in their souls, and like a lamp inlightens their minds in the knowledge of Spiritual things, the anointing teaches them.

[Page 165] And this oyl is here call'd the oyl of gladness, because it is [...] dicitur id quod causam dat summi gaudii. Grot­in Heb. 1. v. 9. [...]. OEcum. the cause of all joy and gladness to them that are anointed with it: oyl was used (as you heard before) at the instal­ment of soveraign Princes, which was the day of the gladness of their hearts: and among the common people it was li­berally used at all their festivals, but never upon their days of mourning: whence it becomes excellently expressive of the nature and use of the Spirit of grace, who is the cause and author of all joy in believers, Joh. 17. 13.

And with this oyl of gladness is Christ said to be anointed above his fellows, (i. e.) to have a far greater share of the Spirit of grace than they: for to every one of the Saints is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ, Eph. 4. 7. but to him the Spirit is not given by measure, Joh. 3. 34. It hath pleased the father that in him should all fullness dwell, Col. 1. 19. and of his fulness we all receive grace for grace, Joh. 1. 16. The Saints partake with him, and through him in the same Spirit of grace, for which reason they are his fellows, but all the grace poured out upon believers comes exceeding short of that which God hath poured out up­on Jesus Christ. The words being thus opened, give us this note.

Doct.

That all true believers have a real communion or fellowship with Doct. the Lord Jesus Christ.

From the Saints Union with Christ, there doth naturally and immediately result a most sweet and blessed communion or fellowship with him in graces and spiritual priviledges, Eph. 1. 3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places (or things) in Christ: in giving us his Son, he freely gives us all things, Rom. 8. 32. so in 1 Cor. 1. 30. of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdome, righteousness, sanctifica­tion and redemption: and once more, 1 Cor. 3. 22, 23. all are yours, and ye are Christs: what Christ is and hath is theirs by communication to them, or improvement for them: and this is very evidently carried in all those excellent Scripture me­taphors by which our Union with Christ is figured and sha­dowed [Page 166] out to us: as the Marriage Union betwixt a man and his wife, Eph. 5. 31, 32. You know that this conjugal uni­on [...]bi ego Cajus tu Caja. Uxor clarescit in radiis ma­riti. gives the wife interest in the estate and honour of the husband, be she never so meanly descended in her self: the natural Union betwixt the head and members of the body, by which also the mystical union of Christ and believers is set forth, 1 Cor. 12. 12. excellently illustrates this fellowship or com­munion betwixt them: for from Christ the whole body fitly joyn­ed together, and compacted, by that which every joint supplieth ac­cording to the effectual working in the measure of every part maketh increase of the body, as the Apostle speaks, Eph. 4. 16. The Union betwixt the graffe and the stock which is another embleme of our Union with Christ, Joh. 15. 1. imports in like manner this communion or partnership betwixt Christ and the Saints. For no sooner doth the graffe take hold of the stock, but the vital sap of the stock is communicated to the graffe, and both live by one and the same juice.

Now that the scope of this discourse be not mistaken, let the Reader know that I am not here treating of the Saints communion or fellowship with God in duties, as in prayer, hearing, Sacraments, &c. but of that interest which believers have in the good things of Christ by vertue of the Mystical Union betwixt them through faith: there is a twofold communion of the Saints with Christ.

  • The first is an Act.
  • The second is a State.

There is an actual fellowship or communion the Saints have with Christ in holy duties: wherein Christians let forth their hearts to God by desires, and God lets forth his com­forts and refreshments again into their hearts: they open their mouths wide, and he fills them: this communion with God is the joy and comfort of a believers life: but I am not to speak of that here. It is not any act of communion, but the State of communion, from which all acts of communion flow, and upon which they all depend; that I am now to treat of: which is nothing else but the joynt interest that Christ and the Saints have in the same things: as when a ship, an house, or estate is among many partners, [Page 167] or joynt-heirs, every one of them hath right to it, and inte­rest in it, though some of them have a greater and others a lesser part. So is it betwixt Christ and his people: there is a [...] (i. e.) a fellowship or joynt interest betwixt them, upon which ground they are call'd co-heirs with Christ, Rom. 8. 17. This communion or participation in Christs benefits de­pends upon the Hypostatical Union of our nature, and the mystical union of our persons with the Son of God: in the first he partakes with us, in the second we partake with him; the for­mer is the remote, the later the next cause thereof.

In the explication of this point I shall speak to these four things,

  • 1. What are those things in which Christ and believers have fellowship.
  • 2. By what means they come to have such a fellowship with Christ.
  • 3. How great a dignity this is to have fellowship with Jesus Christ.
  • 4. And then apply the whole in divers practical infe­rences.

First, What are those things in which Christ and believers 1. have fellowship: to which I must speak both negatively and positively.

First, The Saints have no fellowship with Jesus Christ in Negatively. those things that belong to him as God: such as his consub­stantiality, coequality, and coeternity with the father: 'tis the blasphemy of the wicked Familists to talk of being God­ded into God and Christed into Christ: neither men or Angels partake in these things, they are the proper and incommuni­cable Justitia Chri­sti fit nostra, non quoad uni­versalem valo­remsed particu­larem necessita­tem, & impu­tatur nobis non ut causis sal­vationis, sed ut subjectis sal­vandis. Brad­shaw de justi­ficatione. glory of the Lord Jesus.

Secondlly, The Saints have no communion or fellowship in the honour and glory of his mediatory works, viz. his satis­faction to God, or redemption of the elect: 'tis true, we have the benefit and fruit of his mediation and satisfaction, his righteousness also is imputed to us for our personal justifi­cation, but we share not in the least with Christ in the glo­ry of this work: nor have we an inherent righteousness in us as Christ hath, nor can we justifie and save others as [Page 168] Christ doth: we have nothing to do with his peculiar honour and praise in these things: though we have the benefit of being saved, we may not pretend to the honour of being Sa­viours as Christ is to our selves or others. Christs righte­ousness is not made ours as to its universal value, but as to our particular necessity: nor is it imputed to us as to so many causes of salvation to others, but as to so many subjects to be saved by it our selves.

Secondly, But then, there are many glorious and excellent Posi ively. things which are in common betwixt Christ and believers, though in them all he hath the preeminence, he shines in the fulness of them as the Sun, and we with a borrowed and les­ser light, but of the same kind and nature as the Stars. Some of these I shall particularly and briefly unfold in the following particulars.

First, Believers have communion with Christ in his names and titles: they are call'd Christians from Christ, Eph. 3. 15. from him the whole family in heaven and earth is named: this is that worthy name the Apostle speaks of, James 2. 7. He is the son of God, and they also by their union with him have power or authority to become the sons of God, Joh. 1. 12. He is the heir of all things, and they are joynt heirs with him, Rom. 8. 17. He is both King and Priest, and he hath made them Kings and Priests, Rev. 1. 6. but they do not only partake in the names and titles, but this com­munion consists in things as well as titles: and there­fore

Secondly, They have communion with him in his righte­ousness, (i. e.) the righteousness of Christ is made theirs, 2 Cor. 5. 21. and he is the Lord our righteousness, Jer. 23. 6. 'Tis true, the righteousness of Christ is not inherent in us, as it is in him; but it is ours by imputation, Rom. 4. 5. 11. and our union with him is the ground of the imputation of his righteousness to us, 2 Cor. 5. 21. we are made the righte­ousness of God in him, Phil. 3. 9. for Christ and believers are considered as one person, in construction of Law; as a man and his wife, a debtor and surety are one: and so his payment or satisfaction is in our name, or upon our account.

[Page 169] Now this is a most inestimable priviledge, the very ground of all our other blessings and mercies. O what a benefit is this to a poor sinner, that owes to God infinitely more than he is ever able to pay him, by doing or suffering; to have such a rich treasure of merit as lyes in the obedience of Christ, to discharge in one entire payment all his debts to the least farthing? Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteous­ness, Isa. 45. 24. even as a poor woman that owes more than she is worth, in one moment is discharged of all her ob­ligations, by her marriage to a wealthy man.

Thirdly, Believers have communion with Christ in his ho­liness or Sanctification, for of God he is made unto them not only righteousness, but Sanctification also: and as in the for­mer priviledge they have a stock of merit in the blood of Christ to justifie them, so here they have the Spirit of Christ to sanctisie them, 1 Cor. 1. 30. and therefore we are said of his fulness to receive grace for grace, Joh. 1. 16. (i. e.) say some, grace upon grace, manifold graces or abun­dance of grace: or grace for grace, that is, grace answerable to grace: as in the seal and wax, there is line for line, and cut for cut exactly answerable to each other: or grace for grace, that is, say others, the free grace of God in Christ for the sanctifica­tion or filling of our souls with grace: be it in which sense it will, it shews the communion believers have with Jesus Christ in grace and holiness. Now holiness is the most precious thing in the world, it's the image of God, and chief excellen­cy of man: it is our evidence for glory, yea, and the first-fruits of glory: in Christ dwells the fulness of grace, and from him our head it is derived and communicated to us: thus he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one, Heb. 2. 11. You would think it no small priviledge to have Baggs of Gold to go to, and enrich your selves with, and yet that were but a very trifle in comparison to have Christs righteousness and holiness to go to for your Justification and Sanctification. More particularly,

Fourthly, Believers have communion with Christ in his death: they dye with him, Gal. 2. 20. I am crucified with Christ, (i. e.) the death of Christ hath a real killing and mor­tifying influence upon the lusts and corruptions of my heart and nature: true it is he died for sin one way, and we dye [Page 170] to sin another way: he dyed to expiate it, we dye to it when we mortifie it: the death of Christ is the death of sin in belie­vers: and this is a very glorious priviledge: for the death of sin is the life of your souls: if sin do not dye in you by mor­tification, you must dye for sin by eternal damnation: if Christ had not dyed, the Spirit of God by which you now mortifie the deeds of the body, could not have been given unto you: then you must have lived Vassals to your sins, and dyed at last in your sins: but the fruit, efficacy and benefit of Christs death is yours, for the killing those sins in you which else had been your ruine.

Fifthly, Believers have Communion with Christ in his life and resurrection from the dead: as he rose from the dead, so do they; and that by the power and influence of his vivifica­tion and resurrection: 'tis the Spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus that makes us free from the Law of sin and death, Rom. 8. 2. our spiritual life is from Christ, Eph. 2. 1. and you hath he quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins: and hence Christ is said to live in the believer, Gal. 2. 20. Now I live, yet not I; but Christ liveth in me: and it is no small priviledge to partake of the very life of Christ, which is the most excellent life that ever any creature can live: yet such is the happiness of all the Saints, the life of Christ is manifest in them, and such a life as shall never see death.

Sixthly, To conclude, Believers have fellowship with Je­sus Christ in his glory which they shall enjoy in heaven with him: they shall be ever with the Lord, 1 Thes. 4. 17. and that's not all, (though as one saith it were a kind of heaven but to look through the keyhole, and have but a glimpse of Christs blessed face) but they shall partake of the glory which the father hath given him, for so he speaks Joh. 17. 22, 24. and more particularly they shall sit with him in his throne, Rev. 3. 21. and when he comes to judge the world, he will come to be glorified in the Saints, 2 Thes. 1. 10. So that you see what glorious and inestimable things are and will be in common betwixt Christ and the Saints. His Ti­tles, his righteousness, his holiness, his death, his life, his glory. I do not say that Christ will make any Saint equal with him in glory: that's impossible: he will be known from all the Saints in heaven, as the Sun is distinguished from [Page 171] the Stars: but they shall partake of his glory, and be fill'd with his joy there: and thus you see what those things are that the Saints have fellowship with Christ in.

Secondly, Next I would open the way and means by which 2. we come to have fellowship with Jesus Christ in these excel­lent priviledges; and this I shall do briefly in the following Po­sitions.

Position 1.

First, No man hath fellowship with Christ in any special sa­ving Position 1. Soli verè fide­les sunt mem­bra Christi, id (que) non quate­nus homines, sed quatenus Christiani: nec secundum pri­mam genera­tionem, sed se­cundum reg ne­rationem. Po­lanus Syntag. lib. 6. cap. 35. priviledge by nature, howsoever it be cultivated or improved; but only by faith uniting him to the Lord Jesus Christ: 'tis not the priviledge of our first, but second birth. This is plain from Joh. 1. 12, 13. But to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to as many as believed on his name, who are born not of flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man but of God. We are by nature children of wrath, Eph. 2. 3. we have fel­lowship with Satan in sin, and misery: the wild branch hath no communication of the sweetness and fatness of a more noble and excellent root, until it be ingraffed upon it, and have immediate Union and coalition with it, Joh. 15. 1, 2.

Position 2.

Believers themselves have not an equal share one with another in all the benefits and priviledges of their Union with Christ, but in Position 2. some there is an equality, and in others an inequality: according to the measure and gift of Christ, to every one.

In Justification they are all equal: the weak and the strong believer are alike justified, because it is one and the same per­fect righteousness of Christ which is applied to the one and to the other, so that there are no different degrees of Justi­fication, but all that believe are justified from all things, Acts 13. 39. and there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, Rom. 8. 1. be they never so weak in faith, or defective in degrees of grace. But there is appa­rent difference in the measures of their Sanctification, some are strong men, and others are babes in Christ, 1 Cor. 3. 1. the faith of some flourishes and grows exceedingly, 2 Thes. 1. 3. the things that are in others are ready to dye, Rev. 3. 2. [Page 172] It's a plain case, that there is great variety sound in the de­grees of grace and comfort among them that are joyntly inte­rested in Christ, and equally justified by him.

Position 3.

The Saints have not fellowship and communion with Christ in the fore-mentioned benefits and priviledges by one and the same medium, Position 3. but by various mediums and ways according to the nature of the be­nefits in which they participate.

For instance, they have partnership and communion with Christ (as hath been said) in his righteousness, holiness and glo­ry: but they receive these distinct blessings, by divers mediums of communion: we have communion with Christ in his righte­ousness by the way of Imputation: we partake of his holiness by the way of infusion: and of his glory in heaven by the beatifi­cal Vision. Our Justification is a relative change, our sanctifica­tion a real change, our glorification a perfect change by redem­ption from all the remains both of sin and misery.

Thus hath the Lord appointed several blessings for belie­vers in Christ, and several channels of conveying them from him to us: by imputed righteousness we are freed from the guilt of sin, by imparted holiness we are freed from the domi­nion of sin, and by our glorification with Christ we are freed from all the reliques and remains both of sin and misery let in by sin upon our natures.

Position 4.

That Jesus Christ imparts to all believers all the spiri­tual Position 4. blessings that he is filled with, and with-holds none from any that have Union with him: be these blessings never so great, or they that receive them never so weak, mean, and con­temptible in outward respects. Gal. 3. 27. Ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. The salvation that comes by Christ is stiled the common salvation, Jude 3. and heaven the inheritance of the Saints in light, Col. 1. 12. There is neither Greek nor Jew (saith the Apostle) Circumcision nor uncircum­cision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free; but Christ is all and in all, Col. 3. 11. he means, there is no priviledge in the one [Page 173] to commend them to God, and no want of any thing in the other to debarr them from God: let men have or want outward excellencies, as beauty, honour, riches, nobility, gifts of the mind, sweetness of nature, and all such like or­naments: what is that to God? he looks not at these things, but respects them, and communicates his favour to them as they are in Christ: he is all, and in all. The gifts and blessings of the Spirit are given to men as they are in Christ, and without respect to any external differences made in this world among men: hence we find excellent treasures of grace in mean and contemptible persons in the world: poor in the world, rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdome: and as all believers without difference receive from Christ, so they are not debarr'd from any blessing that is in Christ: all is yours, for ye are Christs, 1 Cor. 3. ult. with Christ God freely gives us all things, Rom. 8. 32.

Position 5.

The Communion believers have with Christ in spiritual benefits Position 5. is a very great mystery, far above the understanding of natural men. There are no footsteps of this thing in all the works of creation, therefore the Apostle calls it the unsearchable riches of Christ, Eph. 3. 8. [...]: the word▪ signifies that which hath no footsteps to trace it by: yea, 'tis so deep a mystery that the Angels themselves stoop down to look into it, 1 Pet. 1. 12. Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entred into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them them that love him: but God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, 1 Cor. 2. 9, 10.

Thirdly and Lastly, I shall in a few particulars open the dignity and excellency of this fruit of our Union with Christ, and shew you, that a greater glory and honour cannot be put upon man, than to be thus in fellowship with Jesus Christ, Joh. 17. 22. The glory which thou gavest me, I have given them; that they may be one as we are one: and therefore more particu­larly let it be considered

First, With whom we are associated, even the Son of God: with him that is over all, God blessed for ever. Our asso­ciation with Angels is an high advancement, for Angels and [Page 174] Saints are fellow servants in the fame family, Rev. 19. 10. and through Christ we are come to an innumerable company of Angels, Heb. 12. 22. but what is all this to our fellowship with Jesus Christ himself; and that in another manner than Angels have? for though Christ be to them an head of do­minion, yet not an head of vital influence as he is to his mystical body the Church: this therefore is to them a great mystery, which they greatly affect to study, and pry into.

Secondly, What we are that are dignified with this title, the fellows or copartners with Jesus Christ: not only dust by na­ture, dust thou art, but sinful dust; such wretched sinners as by nature, and the sentence of the Law ought to be associated with devils, and partakers with them of the wrath of the al­mighty God, to all eternity.

Thirdly, The benefits we are partakers of in and with the Lord Jesus Christ: and indeed they are wonderful and astonishing things, so far as they do already appear, but yet we see but lit­tle of them, comparatively to what we shall see, 1 Joh. 3. 1, 2. Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. O what will that be! to see him as he is, and to be transformed into his likeness.

Fourthly, The way and manner in which we are brought into this fellowship with Christ, which is yet more admirable. The Apostle gives us a strange account of it in 2 Cor. 8. 9. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through [...]is poverty might be rich: he empties himself of his glory, that we might be fill'd: he is made a curse, that we might enjoy the blessing: he submits to be crown'd with thorns, that we might be crowned with glory and honour: he puts himself into the number of worms, Psal. 22. 6. that we might be made equal to the Angels; O the unconceivable grace of Christ!

Fifthly, The reciprocal nature of that communion which is be­twixt Christ and believers: we do not only partake of what is his, but he partakes of what is ours▪ he hath fellow­ship with us in all our wants, sorrows, miseries, and afflictions, and we have communion with him in his righ­teousness, grace, sonship, and glory: he takes part of our misery and we take part of his blessedness: our sufferings are [Page 175] his sufferings, Col. 1. 24. O what an honour is it to thee, poor wretch, whom a great many would not turn aside to ask how thou doest, to have a King, yea, the Prince of all the Kings of the earth to pity, relieve, sympathize, groan and bleed with thee, to sit by thee in all thy troubles, and give thee his Cordials, to say thy troubles are my troubles, and thy afflictions are my afflictions: whatever toucheth thee toucheth me also: O what name shall we give unto such grace as this is?

Sixthly, and Lastly, Consider the perpetuity of this priviledge: your fellowship with Christ is interminable, and abides for ever. Christ and the Saints shall be glorified together, Rom. 8. 17. while he hath any glory, they shall partake with him. 'Tis said indeed 1 Cor. 15. 24. that there shall be a time when Christ will deliver up the Kingdome to his father: but the meaning is not that ever he will cease to be an head to his Saints, or they from being his members: no, no, the relation never cease: Justification, Sanctification and Ado­ption are everlasting things, and we can never be devested of them.

Infer. 1.

Are the Saints Christs fellows, what honourable persons then are Infer. 1. they! and how should they be esteemed and valued in the world! If a King who is the fountain of honour, do but raise a man by his favour and dignifie him by bestowing some honoura­ble Title upon him, what respect and observance is present­ly paid him by all persons? but what are all the vain and empty Titles of honour to the glorious and substantial pri­viledges with which believers are dignified, and raised above all other men by Jesus Christ? he is the son of God, and they are the sons of God also: he is the heir of all things, and they are joynt-heirs with Christ. He reigns in glory, and they shall reign with him: he sits upon the throne, and they shall sit with him in his throne. O that this vile world did but know the dignity of believers, they would never slight, hate, abuse, and persecute them as they do! and O that believers did but understand their own happiness and pri­viledges by Christ, they would never droop and sink under every small trouble at t [...]t rate they do.

Infer. 2.

How abundantly hath God provided for all the necessities and wants of believers! Christ is a storehouse fill'd with blessings Infer. 2. and mercies, and it's all for them: from him they receive abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, Rom. 5. 17. of his fulness they all receive grace for grace, Joh. 1. 16. all the fulness of Christ is made over to them for the supply of their wants: my God shall supply all your need (saith the Apostle) according to his riches in glory by Jesus Christ, Phil. 4. 19. If all the riches of God can supply your needs, then they shall be supplyed. Say not Christ is in the possession of consum­mate glory, and I am a poor creature struggling with many difficulties, and toyling in the midst of many cares and fears in the world; for care is taken for all thy needs: and orders given from heaven for their supply: my God shall supply all your need. O say with a melting heart, I have a full Christ, and he is fill'd for me. His pure and perfect righteousness is to justifie me, his holiness is to sanctifie me, his wisdome is to guide me, his comforts are to refresh me, his power is to protect me, his all-sufficiency is to supply me. O be chear­ful, be thankful, you have all your hearts can wish; and yet be humble, it is all from free grace to empty and unworthy creatures.

Infer. 3.

How absurd, disingenuous and unworthy of a Christian is it to deny or with-hold from Christ any thing he hath, or by which he Infer. 3. may be served or honoured? Doth Christ communicate all he hath to you, and can you with-hold any thing from Christ? On Christs part it is not mine, and thine; but ours, or mine and yours, Joh. 20. 17. I ascend to my Father, and your father, to my God and your God. But O this cursed Idol Self! which impro­priates all to its own designs and uses. How liberal is Christ! and how penurious are we to him! Some will not part with their credit for Christ, when yet Christ abased himself un­speakably for them. Some will not part with a drop of blood for Christ, when Christ spent the whole treasure of his blood [Page 177] freely for us: yea, how loth are we to part with a shilling for Christ to relieve him in his distressed members, when as yet we know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich! O ungrateful return! O base▪ and disingenuous Spirits! The things Christ gives us are great, the things we deny to him are small: he parts with the greatest, and yet is denyed the least. The things he communicates to us are none of ours, we have no right nor title by nature or any desert of ours to them, the things we deny or grudge to Christ are by all titles his own, and he hath the fullest and most unquestionable title to them all: what he gives to us he gives to them that never deserved it; what we with-hold from him, we with-hold from one that hath deserved that and infinitely more from us, than we have, or are.

He interested you freely in all his riches when you were enemies, you stand upon trifles with him, and yet call him your best and dearest friend: he gave himself and all he hath to you, when you could claim nothing from him, you deny to part with these things to Christ, who may not only claim them upon the highest title his own soveraignty, and absolute pro­perty, but by your own act, who profess to have given all in Covenant to him: what he gives you returns no profit to him, but what you give or part with for him, is your greatest advan­tage. O that the consideration of these things might shame and humble our souls.

Infer. 4.

Then certainly no man is or can be supposed to be a loser by conversion, seeing from that day whatever Christ is or hath be­comes Infer. 4. his.

O what an inheritance are men possessed of by their new birth! Some men cry out, Religion will undo you, but with what eyes do these men see? surely you could never so reckon, except your souls were so incarnated as to reckon pardon, peace, adoption, holiness and heaven for nothing: that invisibles are non-entities, and temporals the only reali­ties. 'Tis true, the converted soul may lose his estate, his liberty, yea, his life for Christ: but what then? are they [Page 178] losers that exchange Brass for Gold? or part with their pre­sent comforts for an hundredfold advantage, Mark 10. 29. So that none need scare at religion for the losses that attend it, whilest Christ and heaven is gain'd by it: they that count religion their loss, have their portion in this life.

Inference 5.

How securely is the Saints inheritance settled upon them, seeing they are in commons with Jesus Christ? Christ and his Saints Infer. 5. are joynt-heirs, and the inheritance cannot be alienated but by his consent, he must lose his interest, if you lose yours: indeed Adams inheritance was by a single title, and more­over, it was in his own hand, and so he might, (as indeed he soon did) devest himself and his posterity of it: but it is not so betwixt Christ and believers, we are secured in our inheritance by Christ our co-heir, who will never alienate it: and therefore it was truly observed by the Father, Foelicior Job in sterquilinio, quam Adamus in Paradiso: Job was happier upon the Dunghil, than Adam was in Paradise. The cove­nant of grace is certainly the best tenure: as it hath the best mercies, so it gives the fullest security to enjoy them.

Infer. 6.

How rich and full is Jesus Christ, who communicates abun­dantly to all the Saints, and yet hath more still in himself than is Infer. 6. communicated to them, although all they receive were brought in­to one heap!

Take all the faith of Abraham, all the meekness of Moses, all the patience of Job, all the wisdome of Solomon, all the zeal of David, all the industry of Paul, and all the tender­heartedness of Josiah: add to this all the grace that is pou­red (though in lesser measure) into all the elect vessels in the world, yet still it is far short of that which remains in Christ, he is anointed with the oyl of gladness above his fellows: and in all things he hath, and must ever have the preemi­nence: there be many thousand Stars glittering above your [Page 179] heads, and one star differs from another star in glory, yet there is more light and glory in one Sun, than in the many thousand Stars: grace beautifies the children of men exceedingly, but still that is true of Christ, Psal. 45. 2. Thou art fairer than the children of men, grace is poured into thy lips: for all grace is secondarily and derivatively in the Saints, but it is pri­mitively, and originally in Christ, Joh. 5. 26. Grace is im­perfect and defective in them but in him it is in its most ab­solute perfection and fulness, Col. 1. 19. In the Saints it is mixed with abundance of corruption, but in Christ it is al­together unmixed and exclusive of its opposite, Heb. 7. 26. So that as the heathen said of moral vertue, I may much more say of Christ, That were he to be seen with mortal eyes, he would compel love and admirati­on from all men, for he is altogether lovely, Cant. 5. 16.

Infer. 7.

What delight and singular advantage must needs be in the com­munion of the Saints, who have communion with Jesus Christ in all Infer. 7. his graces and benefits!

That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ, 1 Joh. 1. 3. O 'tis sweet to have fellowship with those that have fel­lowship with God in Jesus Christ. Christ hath commu­nicated to the Saints varieties of graces in different mea­sures and degrees: and as they all receive from Christ the fountain, so it's sweet and most delightful to be impro­ving themselves by spiritual communion one with ano­ther: yea, for that end one is furnisht with one grace more eminently than another, that the weak may be as­sisted by the strong: as a Modern Divine well observes: Athanasius was prudent and active, Basil of an heavenly Mr. Tors [...]ell. sweet temper, Chrysostome laborious without affectation, Am­brose resolv'd and grave, Luther couragious, and Calvin acute and judicious: thus every one hath his proper gift from Christ, the fountain of gifts and graces, 1 Cor. 7. 7. One hath quickness of parts, another solidity of judge­ment, [Page 180] but not ready and presential; one is zealous, but ungrounded, another well principled but timorous; one is wary, and prudent; another open, and plain; one is trembling, and melting; another chearful, and joy­ous; one must impart his light, another his heat: the Eye, the knowing man, cannot say to the Hand, the active man, I have no need of thee. And O how sweet would it be if gifts, graces, and experiences were frequently, and humbly imparted: but idle notions, earthly-mindedness, self-interests, and want of more communion with Christ, have almost destroyed the comfort of Christian fellowship every where in the world.

Infer. 8.

In a word, those only have ground to claim interest in Infer. 8. Christ who do really participate of his graces, and in whom are found the effects and fruits of their Union and communion with him.

If you have interest in Christ, you have communion in his graces and benefits, and if you have such communi­on it will appear in your maintaining daily actual com­munion with God in duties, whereby will be pro­duced,

First, The increase of your Sanctification, by fresh participations from the Fountain: as Cloth which is often dipt into the Fat receives the deeper dye, and live­lier tincture; so will your souls by assiduous communion with God. It will also be discerned,

Secondly, In your deeper humiliation and spiritual sense of your own vileness: the more any man partakes of God, and is acquainted with him, and assimilated to him; the more base and vile in his own sight he still grows, Job 42. 5, 6. Isa. 6. 5.

Thirdly, It will appear in your more vehement longings after the full enjoyment of God in heaven, 1 Pet. 1. 8. and Rom. 8. 23. you that have the first-fruits, will groan with­in your selves after the full harvest, and satisfying fruition: you will not be so taken with things below, as to be content [Page 181] with the best lot on earth for your everlasting portion. O if hese communicated drops be so sweet, what is there in Christ the fountain?

And thus I have opened the method of grace in bringing home Christ and his benefits to Gods elect by Union in or­der to communion with him.

Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.

The Ninth SERMON. Serm. 9.

MATTH. 11. 28. Text. Containing the first ge­neral use of Exhortati­on, invi­ting all men to ap­ply Jesus Christ.‘Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden; and I will give you rest.’

THe Impetration of our Redemption by Jesus Christ, being finished in the first part, and the way and means by which Christ is applied to sinners in the foregoing part of this Treatise, I am now orderly come to the general Use of the whole; which in the first place shall be by way of Exhortation to invite and perswade all men to come unto Christ, who in all the former Sermons [Page 182] hath been represented in his garments of salvation, red in his apparel, prepared and offered to sinners as their all-suffici­ent and only remedy: and in the following Sermons will be represented in his perfumed garments coming out of his Ivory Palaces, Psal. 45. 8. to allure and draw all men un­to him.

For a general head to this Use which will be large, I have chosen this Scripture, Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

These words are the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ himself, in which there is a vital ravishing sound: 'tis your mercy to have such a joyful sound in your ears this day: and in them I will consider their dependance, parts and scope.

As to their dependance it is manifest they have an imme­diate relation to the foregoing verse, wherein Christ opens his Commission and declares the fulness of his authority and saving power, and the impossibility of coming to God any other way: all things are delivered to me of my Eather, and no man knoweth the Son but the Father: neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him, v. 27.

This 28 verse is brought in proleptically to obviate the discouragements of any poor convinced and humbled soul, who might thus object, Lord, I am fully satisfied of the ful­ness of thy saving power, but greatly doubt whether ever I shall have the benefit thereof. For I see so much sin and guilt in my self, so great vileness, andutter unworthiness, that I am over-weighed and even sink under the burden of it: my soul is discouraged because of sin. This objection is pre­vented in the words of my Text, Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, Q. d. let not the sense of your sin and misery drive you from your only remedy: be your sins never so many, and the sense and burthen of them never so heavy; yet for all that, come unto me: you are the persons whom I invite and call. I came not to call the righteous but sinners to re­pentance.

In the words three things are especially remark­able.

  • [Page 183] 1. The souls spiritual distress and burthen: weary and heavy laden.
  • 2. Its invitation to Christ under that barthen, come un­to me.
  • 3. Its incouragement to that great duty, I will give you rest.

First, The souls spiritual distress and burthen, exprest in 1. [...] qui laboratis, scil. ad defati­gationem us (que) hac enim Em­phasi differt Tò [...] à verbo [...] quod in genere significat labo­rare. Piscator in Loc. (i. e.) Qui sentitis [...]nus peccatorum & sub illo tant [...] non succum­bitis. Chrysostomus intelligit one­ratos legalib [...] oneribus, nos vero in genere intelligimus universos eos qui peccatorum pondere, natu­rae (que) corruptae malitiâ quam sentiunt pressi, ad ejiciendam pravitatem & assequendam justitiam lu­cta t ur. Mu [...] c [...]lus in Loc. two very Emphatical words, [...], ye that labour and are heavy laden: the word which we translate labour signifies a labouring even to faintness and tiring, to the consumption and wast of the spirits: and the other word signifies such a pressure by a burden that is too heavy to be born that we do even sink down under it.

There is some difference among expositors about the quality of this burthen. Chrysost. & some others after him expound it of burden of the legal rites & Ceremonies, which was a heavy bur­den indeed such as neither they, nor their fathers could bear: under the task and burden of these legal observances they did sweat and toyl to obtain a righteousness to justifie them before God, & all in vain; and this is a pious sense, but others expound it of the burthen of sin in general; the corruption of na­ture, and evils of practice, which souls are convinced have brought them under the curse, and will bring them to hell, and therefore labour and strive all that in them lyes, by re­pentance and reformation to clear themselves from it, but all in vain; whilest they strive in their own strength. Such are they that are here called to come to Christ, which is the second thing, namely

Secondly, The Invitation of burthened souls to Christ. Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden: come unto me, (i. e.) believe in me, lean and rest your burthened souls upon me. I am able to ease all your burthens, in me is that righteousness and peace which you seek in vain in all the le­gal rites and Ceremonies: or in your repentance, reforma­tions and duties, but it will give you no ease, 'twill be no benefit to you except you come unto me. Faith is often ex­pressed under this notion, see Joh. 6. 37. and Joh. 7. 37. 2. and it is to be further noted that [all] burthened souls are [Page 184] invited to come. All ye that labour: whatever your sin or guilt hath been, whatever your fears or discouragements are, yet come (i. e.) believe in me.

Thirdly, Here is the encouragement Christ gives to this du­ty, And I will give you rest: [...]—I will refresh you, 3. Quid alibi quaeritis, quod non licet inve­nire? ego is sum qui possum vos juvare so­lus. Musc. in Loc. I will give you rest from your labour, your Consciences shall be pacified, your heart at rest and quiet in that pardon, peace and favour of God which I will procure for you by my death. But here it must be heedfully noted, that this promise of rest in Christ is not made to men simply as they are sinners, nor yet as they are burthened, and heavy laden sinners: but as they come to Christ, (i. e.) as they are believers. For let a man break his heart with sin, let him weep out his eyes for sin, let him mourn as a dove, and shed as many tears for sin (if it were possible) as ever there fell drops of rain upon the ground, yet if he come not to Christ by faith, his repen­tance shall not save him, nor all his sorrows bring him to true rest.

Hence Note,

  • Doct. 1. That some souls are heavy laden with the burthensome sense of sin.
    Doct. 1.
  • Doct. 2. That all burthened souls are solemnly invited to come to Christ.
    Doct. 2.
  • Doct. 3. That there is rest in Christ for all that come to him under the hea­vy burthen of sin.
    Doct. 3.

Doct. 1.

Some souls are heavy laden with the burthensome sense of sin.

I Do not say all are so, for fools make a mock of sin, Prov. Doct. 1. 14. 9. 'tis so far from being burthensome to some, that it is a sport to them, Prov. 10. 23. but when a mans eyes are opened to see the evil that is in sin, and the eternal misery that follows it, (sin and hell being linkt to­gether with such strong chains as nothing but the blood of Christ can loose) then no burthen is like that of sin: a wound­ed conscience who can bear? Prov. 18. 14. For let us but con­sider the efficacy that the Law of God hath upon the consci­ences of men, when it comes in the spirituality and pow­er of it to convince and humble the soul of a sinner. For then

First, The memory of sin long since committed is refresht and revived as if it had been but yesterday: there are fresh recog­nitions 1. What inward troubles for sin are. of sin long since acted, and forgotten, as if they had never been: what was done in our youth is fetcht back again, and by a new impression of fear and horror set home upon the trembling conscience. Job 13. 26. Thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the sins of my youth. Conscience can call back the days that are past, and draw up a new charge upon the score of old sins, Gen. 42. 21. all that ever we did is recorded and entred into the book of Con­science, and now is the time to open that book, when the Lord will convince and awaken sinners: we read in Job 14. 17. of sealing up iniquities in a bag, which is an allusion to the Clerk of the Assizes, that takes all the indictments that are made against persons at the Assizes, and seals them up in a bag, in order to a Tryal. This is the first office and work of conscience, upon which

[Page 186] The second, namely its Accusations, do depend: these ac­cusations of Conscience are terrible things, who can stand 2. before them? they are full, they are clear, and all of them referring to the approaching Judgement of the great and terrible God.

Conscience dives into all sins, secret as well as open, and Prima est haec ultio, quod se judice, nemo uocens absolvi­tur. into all the circumstances and aggravations of sin, as being committed against light, against mercy, against the strivings, warnings, and regretts of conscience. So that we may say of the efficacy of conscience as it is said Psal. 19. 6. of the influence of the Sun, nothing is hid from the heat or pow­er thereof. Come (saith the woman of Samaria) see a man that hath told me all that ever I did, Joh. 4. 29, Christ convin­ced her but of one sin by that discourse, but conscience by that one fetcht in and charged all the rest upon her. And as the accusations of conscience are full, so they are clear, and undeniable: a man becomes self-convinced, and there remains no shift, excuse, or plea to defend himself: a thousand witnesses cannot prove any point more clearly than one te­stimony of conscience doth, Matth. 22. 12. the man was speech­less, [...] & ille capi­stratus er at. a mute; muzzled (as the word signifies) by the clear testimony of his own conscience: these accusations are the second work or office of conscience, and they make way for the third, namely,

Thirdly, The sentence and condemnation of Conscience: and truly this is an insupportable burthen: the condemnati­on 3. of conscience is nothing else but its application of the condemning sentence of the Law to a mans person: the Law curseth every one that transgresseth it, Gal. 3. 10. consci­ence applys this curse to the guilty sinner. So that it sen­tences the sinner in Gods name and authority, from which there is no appeal: the voice of conscience is the voice of God, and what it pronounces in Gods name and au­thority, he will confirm and ratifie, 1 Joh. 3. 20. if our hearts (i. e.) our consciences, condemn us, God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things: this is that torment which no man can endure. See the effects of it in Cain, in Judas, and in Spira, 'tis a real foretast of hell torments: this is that worm that never dyes, Mark 9. 44. For look as a worm in the body is bred of the corruption that is there, so the accusations and con­demnations [Page 187] of conscience are bred in the soul by the corrupti­on and guilt that is there: as the worm in the body preys and bites upon the tender sensible inward parts, so doth con­science touch the very quick. This is its third effect or work to sentence and condemn, and this also makes way for a fourth, namely,

Fourthly, To upbraid and reproach the sinner under his misery: 4. and this makes a man a very terrour to himself: to be pittied in misery is some relief, but to be upbraided and reproached doubles our affliction: you know it was one of the aggrava­tions of Christs sufferings, to be reproached by the tongue of his enemies, whilest he hanged in torments upon the cursed tree: but all the scoffs and reproaches, the bitter jeers and Sarcas [...]s in the world are nothing to these of a mans own con­science: this will cut to the very bone.

O when a mans conscience shall say to him in a day of trou­ble, as Reuben to his afflicted brethren, Gen. 42. 22. Spake I not unto you saying, do not sin against the child: and ye would not hear, therefore behold also his blood is required. So consci­ence, Did I not warn you, threaten you, perswade you in time against these evils? but you would not hearken to me, therefore behold now you must suffer to all eternity for it: the wrath of God is kindled against thy soul for it: this is the fruit of thy own wilful madness and obstinacy. Now thou shalt know the price of sinning against God, against light, and conscience. O this is terrible! every bite of conscience makes a poor soul to startle, and in a terrible fright to cry, Oh the worm! Oh the bitter foretast of Hell! a wounded spirit who can bear?

This is a fourth wound of conscience, and it makes way for a fifth, for here it is as in the pouring out of the vials, and the sounding of those woe-trumpets in the Revelation, one woe is past, and another cometh. After all these deadly blows of conscience upon the very heart of a sinner, comes another as dreadful as any that is yet named, and that is,

Fifthly, The fearful expectations of wrath to come which 5. it begets in the soul of a guilty sinner: of this you read Heb. 10. 27. a fearful looking for of Judgement, and fiery indigna­tion: and this makes the stoutest sinner quail and faint under the burthen of sin. For the tongue of man cannot declare [Page 188] what it is to lye down and rise with those fearful expectati­ons: the case of such sinners is somewhat like that which is described in Deut. 28. 65, 66, 67. The Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind, and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have no assurance of thy life: in the morning thou shalt say Would God it were evening, and at even thou shalt say Would God it were morning, for the fear of thine heart, wherewith thou shalt fear, &c. Only in this it differs, in this Scripture you have the terrours of those described, whose temporal life hangs in doubtful suspense, but in the persons I am speaking of it is a trembling under the ap­prehensions and expectations of the vengeance of eternal fire.

Believe it Friends, words cannot express what those poor creatures feel, that lye down and rise under these fears and frights of conscience. Lord what will become of me! I am free among the dead, yea, among the damned. I hang by the frail thred of a momentany life, which will and must break shortly, and may break the next moment, over the everlasting burnings: no pleasant bread is eaten in these days, but what is like the bread of condemned men.

And thus you see what the burden of sin is, when God makes it to bear upon the consciences of men, no burden of affliction is like it: losses of dearest relations: sorrows for an only son are not so pungent, and penetrating as these, For

First, No creature enjoyment is pleasant under these in­ward troubles: in other troubles they may[?] signifie something to a mans relief, but here they are nothing, the wound is too deep to be healed by any thing but the blood of Jesus Christ: Conscience requires as much to satisfie it, as God re­quires to satisfie him. When God is at peace with thee (saith Conscience) then will I be at peace with thee too; but till then, expect no rest nor peace from me: all the pleasures and diversions in the world shall never stop my mouth: go where thou wilt, I will follow thee like thy shadow: be thy portion in the world as sweet as it will, I will drop in Gall and Wormwood into thy cup, that thou shalt tast no sweetness in any thing, till thou hast got thy pardon.

[Page 189] These inward troubles for sin, alienate the mind from all former pleasures and delights, there's no more taste or sa­vour in them, than in the white of an Egg. Musick is out of tune, all instruments jarr and groan. Ornaments have no beauty, what heart hath a poor creature to deck that body, in which dwells such a miserable soul! to feed and pamper that carcass that hath been the souls inducement to, and instru­ment in sin, and must be its companion in everlasting misery.

Secondly, These inward troubles for sin, put a dread into death beyond whatever the soul saw in it before. Now it looks like the King of terrours indeed: you read in Heb. 2. 15. of some that through fear of death are all their life long sub­ject to bondage. O what a lively comment is a soul in this case able to make upon such a Text? they would not scare at the pale horse, nor at him that sits on him though his name be called death, if it were not for what follows him, Rev. 6. 8. but when they consider that hell follows, they tremble at the very name, or thoughts of death.

Thirdly, Such is the nature of these inward troubles of spi­rit that they swallow up the sense of all other outward troubles: alas these are all lost in the deeps of soul sorrows as the lit­tle rivulets are in the vast Sea: he that is wounded at the heart, will not cry Oh at the bite of a Flea: and surely no greater is the proportion betwixt outward and inward sor­rows: a small matter formerly would discompose a man, and put him into a fret, now ten thousand outward troubles are lighter than a feather. For, saith he, why doth the living man complain? am I yet on this side eternal burnings? O let me not complain then, whatever my condition be: have I losses in the world, or pains upon my body? alas these are not to be named with the loss of God, and the feeling of his wrath and indignation for evermore. Thus you see what troubles in­ward troubles for sin be.

Secondly, If you ask in the second place, how it comes 2. How souls are supported under such troubles. to pass that any soul is supported under such strong troubles of Spirit that all that feel them do not sink under them; that all that go down into these deep waters of sorrow, are not drowned in them: The Answer is,

[Page 190] First, Though this be a very sad time with the soul (much like that of Adam, betwixt the breach of the first Covenant, and the first promise of Christ made to him) yet the souls that are thus heavy laden do not sink, because God hath a most tender care over them, and regard to them: under­neath them are the everlasting arms, and thence it is they sink not: were they left to grapple with these troubles in their own strength, they could never stand: but God takes care of these mourners that their Spirits do not fail before him, and the souls that he hath made, I mean those of his E­lect whom he is this way preparing for, and bringing unto Christ.

Secondly, The Lord is pleased to nourish still some hope in the soul under the greatest fears and troubles of Spirit: though it have no comfort or joy, yet it hath some hope in the bottom and that keeps up the heart: the afflicted soul doth in this case as the afflicted Church, Lam. 3. 29. he put­teth his mouth in the dust if yet there may be hope: he saith, its good for a man to hope, and quietly to wait for the salvation of God: there are usually some glimmerings or dawnings of mer­cy through Christ in the midnight darkness of inward trou­bles: non dantur purae tenebrae, in hell indeed there is no hope to enlighten the darkness, but it is not so upon earth.

Thirdly, The experiences of others who have been in the same deeps of trouble are also of great use to keep up the soul [...] ut & [...] est primum pi­cturae linea­mentum: su­mitur hic pro exemplo, ut vi­derent quid si­bi sp [...]randum sit [...] domino: gratiam esse u­beriorem ac po­tentiorem pec­cato [...] quis qui credit diffide­reti sibi para­tam esse veni­am. Poli Sy­nops. in Loc. above water. The experience of another is of great use to prop up a desponding mind, whilest as yet it hath none of its own: and indeed for the support of souls in such cases they were recorded 1 Tim. 1. 16. For this cause I obtained mercy that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all long suffering for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting: for an encouraging pattern, an eminent precedent to all poor sinners that were to come after him: that none might absolutely despair of finding mercy through Christ. You know if a man be taken sick, and none can tell what the dis­ease is, none can say that ever they heard of such a disease before, it's exceeding frightful; but if one and another, it may be twenty, come to the sick mans bedside and tell him, [Page 191] Sir, be not afraid, I have been in the very same case that you now are, and so have many more, and all did well at last, why this is half a cure to the sick man. So it is here a great support to hear the experiences of other Saints.

Fourthly, As the experiences of others support the soul under these burdens, so the riches of free grace through Je­sus Christ uphold it: 'tis rich and abundant, Psal. 130. ult. plenteous redemption, and 'tis free and to the worst of sin­ners, Isa. 1. 18. and under these troubles it finds it self in the way and proper method of mercy, for so my Text (a Text that hath upheld many thousand drooping hearts) states it: all this gives hope, and encouragement under trouble.

Fifthly, Lastly, Though the state of the soul be sad and sinking, yet Jesus Christ usually makes haste in the extremi­ty of the trouble to relieve it, by sweet and seasonable disco­veries of his grace: cum duplicantur lateres, venit Moses: in the Mount of the Lord it shall be seen. It is with Christ as it was with Joseph whose bowels yearned towards his bre­thren, and he was in pain till he had told them I am Joseph your brother. This is sweetly exhibited to us in that excel­lent parable of the Prodigal, Luke 15. when his Father saw him, being yet a great way off, he ran and fell upon his neck and kissed him: mercy runs nimbly to help when souls are ready to fail under the pressure of sin. And thus you see both how they are burthened, and how upheld under the burthen.

Thirdly, If it be enquired in the last place, why God makes the burden of sin press so heavy upon the hearts of poor 3. Why doth God make the burden of sin lie so hea­vy upon the souls of some sinners. sinners, 'tis answered,

First, He doth it to divorce their hearts from sin, by gi­ving them an experimental taste of the bitterness and evil that is in sin: mens hearts are naturally glewed with delight to their sinful courses: all the perswasions and arguments in the world are too weak to separate them and their beloved lusts. The morsels of sin go down smoothly and sweetly: they roll them with much delectation under their tongues; and it is but need that such bitter potions as these should be administred to make their stomachs rise against sin, as that [Page 192] word used by the Apostle in 2 Cor. 7. 11. signifies, in that ye [...] indigna­tio, stomocha­tio. Leigh's Critica, in verb. sorrowed after a godly sort, what indignation it wrought: it notes the rising of the stomach with rage, a being angry even unto sickness, and this is the way, the best and most effectual way to separate the soul of a sinner from his Lusts: for in these troubles conscience saith, as it is in Jer. 4. 18. Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness, because it is great, because it reacheth unto thy heart.

Secondly, The Lord doth this, to make Jesus Christ most welcome and desirable to the soul. Christ is not sweet, till sin be made bitter to us. Matth. 9. 12. They that be whole need not a Physician, but they that be sick. If once God wound the heart of a sinner with the stinging sense of sin, then nothing in the world is so precious, so necessary, so vehemently desired, and panted for, as Jesus Christ. O that I had Christ, if I did go in raggs, if I did feed upon no other food all my dayes, but the bread and water of affliction! This is the language of a soul filled with the sense of the evil of sin.

Thirdly, The Lord doth this to advance the riches of his free grace in the eyes of sinners. Grace never appears Grace, till sin appear to be sin. The deeper our sense of the evil of sin is, the deeper our apprehensions of the free grace of God in Christ will be. The louder our groans have been un­der the burden of sin, the louder will our acclamations and praises be for our salvation from it by Jesus Christ. To me (saith Paul) the chiefest of sinners was this grace given, 1 Tim. 1. 15. Never doth the grace of a Prince melt the heart of a Traytor, as when Tryal, Sentence, and all prepa­rations for his execution have past, before his unexpected pardon comes.

Fourthly, The Lord doth this to prevent relapses into sin: In that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought! 2 Cor. 2. 7. The burnt Child dreads the fire; the Bird that is delivered out of the Tallons of the Hawk, trem­bles afterward at the noise of his Bells. After such a delive­rance as this, should we again break thy Commandments? Ezra 9. 13, 14. Ask a poor penitent soul, that hath been in the deeps of sorrow for sin, Will you return to your former course of sin again? and it sounds in his ears, as if you should ask him, [Page 185] Will you run into the fire, will you go to the Rack again? No [...]o tanti emere poeniten­tiam. O no: it hath cost him dear already.

Fifthly, Lastly, This the Lord doth, to make them both skil­ful and compassionate in relieving others that are under like inward troubles. None can speak so judiciously, so pertinently, so feelingly to anothers case, as he that hath been in the Haud ignara mali, miseris [...]currere disco. Dido. same case himself: this furnishes them with the tongue of the learned, to speak a word in season to the weary soul: By this means they are able to comfort others with the same comforts wherewith they themselves have been comforted of God, 2 Cor. 1. 4.

Thus you have had a brief account, what the burden of sin is, how souls are supported under that burden, and why the Lord causes sin to lye so heavy upon the souls of some sin­ners. The improvement of all will be in a double Use: viz.

of
  • Information, and
  • Direction.

First Use for Insormation.

Inference 1. Use.

Is there such a load and burden in sin? What then was the Inference 1. burden that our Lord Jesus Christ felt and bare for us, upon whom the dead weight of all the sins of all Gods elect lay! Isa. 53. 6. He hath made the iniquities of us all to meet on him. Our bur­den is heavy, but nothing to Christ. O there's a vast diffe­rence betwixt that which Christ bare, and that which we bear. We feel but the single weight of our own sins. Christ felt the whole weight of all our sins. You do not feel the whole weight that is in any one sin: alas, it would sink you, if God should let it bear in all its aggravations and effects upon you, Psal. 130. 2, 3. If thou Lord shouldst mark iniquity, O Lord who shall stand! You would quail and sink presently: you can no more stand under it, than under the weight of a mighty Mountain. But Christ bare all the burden upon himself: his understanding was deep and large: he knew the extent of [Page 186] its evil, which we do not: we have many reliefs and helps un­der our burden, he had none: we have friends to counsel, comfort and pity us; all his friends and familiars forsook him and fled in the day of his trouble: we have comforts from heaven, he had frowns from heaven: My God, my God (saith he in that doleful day) why hast thou forsaken me? there's no compare betwixt our load and Christ's.

Inference 2.

If there be such a burden in sin, Then certainly sinners will pay Inscrence 2. dear for all the pleasure they find in sin in the dayes of their va­nity. What one saith of crafty counl [...]s, we may say of Consilia calli­da prima spe­cie laeta; tractatu dura; aventu tristia. Livy. all sins; though they seem pleasant in their first appearance, they will be found sad in the event: they are honey in the mouth, but the gall of Asps in the belly: they tickle the fan­cy, but rend the conscience. O sinner, thy mirth will cer­tainly be turned into mourning, as sure as thou livest, that vain and frothy breast of thine shall be wounded: thou shalt feel the s [...]ing and pain, as well as relish the sweet and pleasure of sin. O that thou wouldst but give thy self the leisure seriously to ponder those Scriptures in the Margent: Prov. 20. 7. Prov. 23. 31, 32. Job 20. 12, 13, 14. James 1. 15. Rom. 6. 21. me thinks they should have the same effect that the hand-wri­ting upon the plaister of the wall had upon that Jovial King in the height of a frolick, Dan. 5. 5. Reason thus with thine own heart, and thou wilt find the conclusion unavoida­ble: Either I shall repent for sin, or I shall not: if I shall not, then must I howl under the wrath of God for sin in the lowest Hell for evermore. If I shall, then by what I have now read of the throbs and wounds of conscience, I see what this heart of mine, this vain heart of mine must feel in this world. O how much wiser was the choice that Moses made, Heb. 11. 25. the worst of sufferings, rather than the best of sin, the pleasures of sin which are but for a season!

Inference 3.

Is there such a burden in sin, Then the most tender compassion Inference 3. is due debt to souls afflicted and heavy laden with sin. Their condition cryes for pity, whatever their tongues do: they [Page 187] seem to call upon you, as Job upon his friends, Have pity, have pity upon me, O ye my friends, for the hand of God hath touched me, Job 19. 21. and O let all that have felt the wounds and anguish of an afflicted conscience themselves, learn from their own experience tenderly to pity and help others, [...], luxata membra in suum locum restituere. Gal. 6. 1. You that are spiritually minded restore (or set him in joint again) in the spirit of meekness, considering thy self.

Israel was commanded to be kind to strangers, for saith God, you know the heart of a stranger: and surely if any case in the world require help, pity and all compassionate tenderness, this doth: and yet how do some slight spiritual troubles upon others? Parents slight them in their own chil­dren, Masters in their servants; the more bruitish and wicked they. O had you but felt your selves what they feel, you would never handle them as you do. But let this comfort such poor creatures, Christ hath felt them, and will pity and help them; yea, he therefore would feel them himself, that he might have compassion upon you. If men will not, God will pity you: if men be so cruel to persecute him whom God hath smitten, God will be so kind, to pour balm into the wounds that sin hath made: if they pull away the shoulder from you, and will not be concerned about your troubles, except it be to aggravate them, God will not serve you so: but cer­tainly you that have past through the same difficulties, you cannot be without compassion to them that are now grap­ling with them.

Inference 4.

How unexpressibly dreadful is the state of the damned, who must bear the burden of all their sins upon themselves without relief or Inference 4. hope of deliverance! Mark 9. 44. where their worm dyeth not, and the fire is not quenched.

O if sin upon the soul that's coming to Christ for delive­rance be so burdensome, what is it upon the soul that is shut out from Christ, and all hopes of deliverance for ever! For do but ponder these differences betwixt these two burdens.

First, No soul is so capacious now, to take in the fulness of the evil and misery of sin, as they are, who are gone down to the place of torments. Even as the joyes of Gods face [Page 188] above are much unknown to them that have the foretastes and first-fruits of them here by faith; so the misery of the damned is much unknown, even to them that have in their consciences now the bitterest taste and sense of sin in this world: as we have the visions of heaven, so we have the vi­sions of hell also but darkly through a glass.

Secondly, No burden of sin presseth so continually upon the soul here, as it doth there: afflicted souls on earth have intermissions and breathing times; but in hell there are no Lucid intervals: the wrath of God there is still flowing: it is in fluxu continu [...], Isa. 30. 33. a stream of brimstone.

Thirdly, No burden of sin lyes upon any of Gods elect so long, as the damned do and must bear it: our troubles about sin are but short, though they should run parallel with the line of life; but the troubles of the damned are parallel with the endless line of eternity.

Fourthly, Under these troubles the soul hath hope, but there all hope is cut off: all the Gospel is full of hope; it breathes nothing but hope to sinners that are moving Christ­ward under their troubles: but in hell the pangs of despera­tion rend their consciences for ever. So that upon all ac­counts the state of the damned is inexpressibly dreadful.

Inference 5.

If the burden os sin be so heavy, how sweet then must the Inference 5. pardon of sin be to a sin-burdened soul! Is it a refreshment to a prisoner, to have his chains knockt off? a comfort to a debtor, to have his debts paid, and obligations cancelled? What joy must it then be to a sin-burthened soul, to hear the voice of pardon and peace in his trembling conscience? Is the light of the morning pleasant to a man after a weary tire­some night? the Spring of the year pleasant after a hard and tedious Winter? they are so indeed; but nothing so sweet, as the favour, peace and pardon of God to a soul that hath been long restless and anxious under the terrors and fears of conscience: for though after pardon and peace a man re­members sin still, yet it is as one that remembers the dange­rous pits and deep waters from which he hath been wonder­fully delivered, and had a narrow escape. O the uncon­ceivable [Page 189] sweetness of a pardon! Who can read it, and not wet it with tears of joy? Are we glad when the grinding pain of the Stone, or racking fits of the Colick are over? and shall we not be transported, when the accusations and condemnations of conscience are over? Tongue cannot ex­press what these things are; this joy is something that no words can convey to the understanding of another, that ne­ver felt the anguish of sin.

Inference 6.

Lastly, In how sad a case are those that never felt any burden in Inference 6. sin, that never were kept waking and restless one night for sin?

There is a burthened conscience, and there is a benummed conscience. The first is more painful, but the last more dangerous. O 'tis a fearful blow of God upon a mans soul, to strike it senseless and stupid, so that though mountains of guilt lye upon it, it feels no pain or pressure: and this is so much the more sad, because it incapacitates the soul for Christ, and is a presage and fore-runner of hell. It would grieve the heart of a man, to see a delirious person in the rage and height of a fevor, to laugh at those that are weeping for him, call them fools, and telling them, he is as well as any of them: much so is the case of many thousand souls, the God of mercy pity them.

Second Use for Counsel.

The only further Use I shall make of this Point here, shall Use 2. be to direct and counsel souls that are weary and heavy laden with the burden of sin, in order to their obtaining true rest and peace. And first,

First Counsel.

Satisfie not your selves in fruitless complaints to men. Many 1. Counsel. do so, but it's never the near. I grant it's lawful in spiritual distresses to complain to men; yea, and it is a great mercy if we have any near us in times of trouble, that are judicious, tender and faithful, into whose bosomes we may pour out our troubles: but to rest in this short of Christ, is no better than a snare of the Devil to destroy us. Is there not a God [Page 190] to go to in trouble? The best of men in the neglect of Christ are but Physicians of no value. Be wise and wary in your choice of Christian friends to whom you open your com­plaints: some are not clear themselves in the doctrine of Christ and faith, others are of a dark and troubled spirit as you are, and will but entangle you more. As for me (saith Job) is my complaint to man, and if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled? Job 21. 4. One hour betwixt Christ and thy soul in secret, will do more to thy true relief, than all other counsellors and comforters in the world can do.

Second Counsel.

Beware of a false peace, which is more dangerous than your trouble for sin can be. Many men are afraid of their troubles, 2. Counsel. but I think they have more cause to fear their peace a great deal. There is a twofold peace that ruines most men. Peace in sin, and peace with sin. O how glad are some persons when their troubles are gone, but I dare not rejoyce with them: It's like him that rejoyces his Ague is gone, though it hath left him in a deep Consumption. You are got rid of your troubles, but God knows how you have left them: your wounds are skinn'd over, better they were kept open. There's no wise woman would desire to have her pains and throes cease till the Child be born. And surely they have much to answer, that help on these delusions, healing the hurt of souls slightly, by crying peace, peace, when there is no peace. The false peace you beget in them, will be a real trouble to your selves in the issue, Jer. 6. 14.

Third Counsel.

Let all that are under inward troubles for sin, take heed of 3. Counsel. drawing desperate conclusions against themselves and the final state of their own souls. Though your case be sad, 'tis not despe­rate: though the night be troublesome and tedious, keep on in the way to Christ, and light will spring up. To mourn for sin is your duty; to conclude there is no hope for you in Christ, is your sin. You have wronged God enough already, do'nt add a farther and greater abuse to all the rest, by an [Page 191] absolute despair of mercy. 'Twas your sin formerly to pre­sume beyond any promise, 'tis your sin now to despair against ma­ny commands. I would say as the Apostle in another case, I would not have you mourn as men that have no hope: your condition is sad as it is, but yet it's much better than once it was: you were once full of sin, and void of sense; now you have the sense of sin which is no small mercy: you were once quite out of the way and method of mercy, now you are in that very path wherein mercy meets the elect of God. Keep hope therefore at the bottom of all your troubles.

Fourth Counsel.

Observe whether your troubles for sin produce such fruits and effects in your souls, as theirs do which end at last in Christ and 4. Counsel. everlasting peace.

First, One that is truly burdened with sin, will not allow himself to live in the secret practice of sin: either your trouble will put an end to your course of sinning, or your sinning will put an end to your troubles. Consult 2 Cor. 7. 11.

Secondly, True sorrow for sin will give you very low and vile thoughts of your selves: as you were covered with pride before, so you will be covered with shame after God hath convinced and humbled you, Rom. 6. 21.

Thirdly, A soul really burdened with sin, will never stand in his own justification before God, nor extenuate and mince it in his confessions to him, Psal. 51. 3, 4.

Fourthly, The burdens of sin will make a man set light by all other burdens of affliction, Lam. 3. 22. Mic. 7. 9. The more you feel sin, the less you feel affliction.

Fifthly, A soul truly burdened for sin, will take no hearty joy or comfort in any outward enjoyment of this world, till Christ come and speak peace to the soul, Lam. 3. 28. Just so the soul sits alone and keepeth silence; merry company is a burden, and musick is but howling to him.

Fifth Counsel.

Beware of those things that make your troubles longer than they 5. Counsel. ought to be. There be several errors and mistakes that hold [Page 192] poor souls much longer in their fears and terrors than else they might be: And such are,

First, Ignorance of the nature of saving faith, and the ne­cessity of it: till you come to believe, you cannot have peace, and while you mistake the nature, or apprehend not the necessity of faith, you are not like to fall into that path of peace.

Secondly, Labouring to heal the wounds that the Law hath made upon your consciences by a more strict obedience to it for the future, in the neglect of Christ and his righteousness.

Thirdly, Inobservance of what God hath already done for you, in these preparatory works of the Law in order to your salvation by Jesus Christ. O if you would but compare what you now are, with what you lately were, it would give some relief: but the last and principal thing is this:

Sixth Counsel.

Hasten to Christ in the way of faith, and you shall find rest; and till then all the world cannot give you true rest. The sooner 6. Counsel. you transact with Christ in the way of faith, the sooner you shall be at peace, and enter into his rest: for those that be­lieve, do now enter into rest. You may tugg and strive, look this way and that, but all in vain; Christ and peace come to­gether. No sooner do you come to him, and roll your bur­den on him, receive him as he offers himself, but the soul feels it self eased on a suddain, being justified by faith we have peace with God, Rom. 5. 1. And thus in finishing the first, we are brought home to the second Observation.

Doct. 2. Doct. 2.

That Sin-burdened souls are solemnly invited to come to Christ.

THIS Point sounds sweetly in the ear of a di­stressed sinner, it is the most joyful voice that ever the soul heard; the voice of blessing from Mount Gerezim, the ravishing voice from Mount Sion, Ye are come to Jesus the Mediator. In opening of it I will shew,

  • 1. What it is to come to Christ.
  • 2. How Christ invites men to come to him.
  • 3. Why his invitation is directed to burdened souls.

First, We will enquire what it is to come to Christ, and 1. how many things are involved in it.

In general, To come to Christ, is a phrase aequipollent, or of the same amount with believing in Christ. It is an expression that carries the nature and necessity of faith in it, and is reciprocated with believing, John 6. 35. He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth in me shall never thirst. Coming to Christ, is believing in Christ; and belie­ving in Christ, is coming to Christ: they are Synonyma's, and import the self same thing: only in this notion of faith there are many rich and excellent things hinted to us, which no other word can so aptly convey to our minds: as,

First, It hints this to us, That the souls of convinced and burdened sinners, do not only discern the reality of Christ, or that he is; but also the necessity of applying Christ, and that their eternal life is in their union with him: for this is most certain, that the object of faith must be determinate and [Page 194] fixed; the soul must believe that Christ is, or else there can be no emotions of the soul after him: all coming presup­poses a fixed term to which we come, Heb. 11. 6. He that cometh to God, must believe that God is. Take away this, and all motion after Christ presently stops. No wonder then that souls in their first motions to Christ find themselves clogg'd with so many atheistical temptations, shaking their assent to the truth of the Gospel at the very root and foundation of it: but they that come to Christ do see that he is, and that their life and happiness lyes in their union with him; else they would never come to him upon such terms as they do.

Secondly, Coming to Christ, implyes the souls despair of salvation any other way: the way of faith is a supernatural way, and souls will not attempt it, until they have tryed all natural wayes to help and save themselves, and find it all in vain: therefore the Text describes these Comers to Christ as weary persons, that have been tugging and striving all other wayes for rest, but can find none; and so are forced to relinquish all their fond expectations of salvation in any other way, and come to Christ as their last and only remedy.

Thirdly, Coming to Christ, notes a supernatural and al­mighty power acting the soul quite above its own natural abilities in this motion, John 6. 44. No man can come to me except my father which hath sent me draw him. It is as possible for the ponderous mountains to start from their Bases and Centres, mount themselves aloft into the air, and there flye like wandring Atoms hither and thither; as it is for any man of himself, (i. e.) by a pure natural power of his own, to come to Christ: it was not a stranger thing for Peter to come to Christ walking upon the Waves of the Sea, than for his or any mans soul to come to Christ in the way of faith.

Fourthly, Coming to Christ, notes the voluntariness of the soul in its motion to Christ. 'Tis true, there's no coming without the Fathers drawing; but that drawing hath nothing of co-action in it; it doth not destroy, but powerfully, and with an overcoming sweetness perswade the will. 'Tis not forced or driven, but it comes: being made willing in the day of Gods power, Psal. 110. 3. Ask a poor distressed sinner in that season, Are you willing to come to Christ? O rather than live. Life is not so necessary as Christ is. O with all my heart, [Page 195] ten thousand worlds for Jesus Christ if he could be purchased, were nothing answerable to his value in mine eyes. The souls motion to Christ is free and voluntary, 'tis coming.

Fifthly, It implyes this in it, That no duties or Ordinances (which are but the wayes or means by which we come to Christ) are or ought to be Central and terminative to the soul: (i. e.) the soul of a believer is not to sit down and rest in them; but to come by them, or through them to Jesus Christ, and take up his rest in him only. No duties, no reformations, no Ordinances of God how excellent soever these things are in themselves, and how necessary soever they are in their proper place and use, can give rest to the weary and heavy laden soul: it cannot centre in any of them; and you may see it cannot, because it still gravitates, and inclines to another thing, even Christ; and cannot terminate its motion till it be come to him. Christ is the term to which a believer moves; and therefore cannot sit down by the way as well sa­tisfied, as if he were at his journeys end. Ordinances and du­ties have the nature and use of means to bring us to Christ, but not to be to any man instead of Christ.

Sixthly, Coming to Christ, implies an hope or expectation Venite ad me, (i. e.) affe­ctibus fidei, & spei religiosae, & desiderii. Burgensis in loc. from Christ in the coming soul. If it have no hope, why doth it move forward? as good sit still, and resolve to perish where it is, as come to Christ, if there be no ground to ex­pect salvation by him. Hope is the spring of motion and industry: if you cut off hope, you hamstring faith: it cannot move to Christ, except it be satisfied at least of the possibility of mercy and salvation by him. Hence it is, that when comers to Christ are strugling with the doubts and fears of the issue, the Lord is pleased to enliven their faint hopes, by setting on such Scriptures as that John 6. 37. He that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out: and Heb. 7. 25. He is able to save to the utter­most all that come unto God by him. This puts life into hope, and hope puts life into industry and motion.

Seventhly, Coming to Christ for rest, implies that believers have, and lawfully may have an eye to their own happiness in closing with the Lord Jesus Christ. The poor soul comes for rest: it comes for salvation: its eye and aim is upon it: and this aim of the soul at its own good is legitimated and allowed by that expression of Christ, John 5. 40. Ye will not come unto me that [Page 196] ye may have life. If Christ blame them for not coming to him that they might have life, sure he would not blame them, had they come to him for life.

Eighthly, But Lastly, and which is the principal thing car­ried in this expression, Coming to Christ, notes the all-suffici­ency of Christ to answer all the needs and wants of distressed souls, and their betaking themselves accordingly to him only for relief, being content to come to Christ for whatever they need, and live upon that fulness that is in him. If there were not an all-sufficiency in Christ, no soul would come to him: for this is the very ground upon which men come, Heb. 7. 25. he is able to save to the uttermost, all that come to God by him: [...], to the uttermost: in the greatest plunges, dif­ficulties and dangers: he hath a fulness of saving power in him; and this encourages souls to come unto him. One beggar uses not to wait at the door of another, but all at the doors of them they conceive able to relieve them. And as this notes the fulness of Christ as a Saviour, so it must needs note the emptiness and humility of the soul as a comer to him. This is call'd submission in Rom. 10. 3. Proud nature must be deeply distressed, humbled and moulded into another temper, before it will be perswaded to live upon those terms, to come to Christ for every thing it wants, to live upon Christ's ful­ness in the way of grace and favour, and have no stock of its own to live upon. O this is hard, but it's the way of faith.

Secondly, In the next place let us see how Christ invites 2. men to come unto him, and you shall find the means em­ploy'd in this work, are either internal and principal, namely the Spirit of God, who is Christ's Vice-gerent, and comes to us in his name and room to perswade us to believe, Joh. 15. 26. or external, namely the preaching of the Gospel by Commis­sionated Embassadors, who in Christ's stead beseech men to be reconciled to God: (i. e.) to come to Christ by faith in or­der to their reconciliation and peace with God. But all means and instruments employ'd in this work of bringing men to Christ, entirely depend upon the blessing and con­currence of the Spirit of God, without whom they signifie nothing: how long may Ministers preach, before one soul come to Christ, except the Spirit co-operate in that work? Now as to the manner in which men are perswaded, and their [Page 197] wills wrought upon to come to Christ, I will briefly note seve­ral acts of the Spirit in order thereunto.

First, There is an illustrating work of the Spirit upon the minds of sinners, opening their eyes to see their danger and misery. Till this be discovered, no man stirs from his place: 'tis sense of danger that rouzes the secure sinner, that distresses him and makes him look about for deliverance, crying, What shall I do to be saved? and 'tis the discovery of Christs ability to save, which is the ground and reason, (as was observed above) of its motion to Christ. Hence, seeing the Son, is joyned with believing or coming to him, in John 6. 40.

Secondly, There is the Authoritative call, or commanding voice of the Spirit in the Word; a voice that's full of awful majesty and power, 1 Joh. 3. 23. This is his Commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ. This call of the Spirit to come to Christ rolls one great block, namely the fear of presumption, out of the souls way to Christ, and in­stead of presumption in coming, makes it rebellion, and inex­cusable obstinacy to refuse to come. This answers all pleas against coming to Christ from our unworthiness and deep guilt, and mightily encourages the soul to come to Christ, whatever it hath been or done.

Thirdly, There are soul-encouraging conditional promises to all that do come to Christ in obedience to the Command. Such is that in my Text, I will give you rest: and that in John 6. 37. Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out: and these breathe life and encouragement into poor souls that hang back and are daunted through their own unworthiness.

Fourthly, There are dreadful threatnings denounced by the Spirit in the Word against all that refuse or neglect to come to Christ, which are of great use to engage and quicken souls in their way to Christ, Mark 16. 16. He that believes not, shall be damned. Dye in his sins, John 8. 24. The wrath of God shall remain on him, John 3. ult. Which is as if the Lord had said, Sinners don't dally with my Christ: don't be alwayes treating and never concluding or resolving: for if there be Justice in heaven, or Fire in hell, every soul that comes not to Christ, must and shall perish to all eternity: upon your own heads let the blood and destruction of your own souls be for ever, if you will not come unto him.

[Page 198] Fifthly, There are moving and working examples set before souls in the Word, to prevail with them to come, alluring and encouraging Examples of such as have come to Christ under deepest guilt and discouragement, and yet found mercy, 1 Tim. 1. 15, 16. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief: howbeit (or nevertheless) for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter be­lieve in him to life everlasting. Who would not come to Christ after such an example as this? And if this will not prevail, there are dreadful examples recorded in the Word setting before us the miserable condition of all such as refuse the calls of the Word to come to Christ, 1 Pet. 3. 19, 20. By which also he went and preached to the spirits which are in prison, which sometime were disobedient when once the long-suffering of God waited in the dayes of Noah. The meaning is, the sinners that lived before the Flood, but now are in hell, clapt up into that prison, had the offers of grace made them, but despised them, and now lye for their disobedience in prison, under the wrath of God for it, in the lowest hell.

Sixthly and Lastly, There is an effectual perswading, over­coming and victorious work of the Spirit upon the hearts and wills of sinners, under which they come to Jesus Christ. Of this I have spoken at large before in the fourth Sermon, and therefore shall not add any thing more here. This is the way and manner, in which souls are prevailed with to come to Jesus Christ.

Thirdly, In the last place, if you enquire why Christ makes his invitations to weary and heavy laden souls, and to 3. no other: the answer is briefly this:

First, Because in so doing, he follows the Commission which he received from his Father; for so you will find it runs in Isa. 61. 1. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tydings to the meek, he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the Captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. You see here how Christs Commission binds him up: his Fa­ther sent him to poor broken hearted sinners, and he will keep close to his Commission. He came not to call the righte­ous, [Page 199] but sinners (i. e. sensible burthened sinners) to repentance, Matth. 9. 13. I am not sent (saith he) but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Thus his Instructions and Commission from the Father, limit him only to sensible and burthened souls, and he will be faithful to his Commission.

Secondly, The very order of the Spirits work in bringing men to Christ, shews us to whom the invitations and offers of grace in Christ are to be made. For none are convinced of righteousness, (i. e.) of the compleat and perfect righteous­ness which is in Christ for their Justification, until first they be convinced of sin; and consequently, no man will or can come to Christ by faith, till convictions of sin have awakened and distressed them, John 16. 8, 9. This being the due order of the Spirits operation, the same order must be observed in Gospel offers and invitations.

Thirdly, It behoves, that Christ should provide for his own glory as well as for our safety, and not expose that, to secure this; but save us in that way which will bring him most ho­nour and praise. And certainly such a way is this, by first convincing, humbling and burthening the souls of men, and then bringing them to rest in himself.

Alas! Let those that never saw or felt the evil of sin, be told of rest, peace and pardon in Christ, they will but despise it, as a thing of no value, Luke 5. 31. The whole need not a Physician, but those that are sick. Bid a man that thinks him­self sound and whole, go to the Physician, and he will but laugh at the motion. If you offer him the richest composi­tion, he will refuse it, slight it, and it may be spill it upon the ground: ay, but if the same man did once feel an acute disease, and were made to sweat and groan under strong pains, if ever he come to know what sick dayes and restless nights are, and to apprehend his life to be in eminent hazard; then messengers are sent one after another in post-haste to the Physician; then he begs him with tears to do what in him lyes for his relief; he thankfully takes the bitterest potions, and praises the care and skill of his Physician with tears of joy; and so the Patients safety and the Physicians honour are both secured. So is it in this method of grace. The Uses follow.

Inference 1. Use.

If sin-burthened souls are solemnly invited to come to Inference 1. Christ, Then it follows, that whatever guilt lye upon the Consci­ence of a poor humbled sinner, 'tis no presumption, but his duty to come to Christ notwithstanding his own apprehended vileness and great unworthiness.

Let it be carefully observed how happily that universal particle all is inserted in Christs invitation for the encourage­ment of sinners. Come unto me [All] ye that labour: q. d. let no broken-hearted sinner exclude himself, whenas he is not by me excluded from mercy: my grace is my own, I may bestow it where I will, and upon whom I will. 'Tis not I, but Satan that impales and incloses my mercy from humbled souls that are made willing to come unto me: he calls that your presumption, which my invitation makes your Duty.

But I doubt my case is excepted by Christ himself in Matth. Object. 1. 12. 31. where blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is exempted from pardon: and I have had many horrid blasphemous thoughts injected into my soul.

Art thou a burdened and heavy laden soul? If so, thy case is not in that, or any other Scripture exempted from mercy: Sol. for the unpardonable sin is alwayes found in an impenitent heart: as that sin finds no pardon with God, so neither is it followed with contrition and sorrow in the soul that com­mits it.

But if I am not guilty of that sin, I am certainly guilty of ma­ny Object. 2. great and heinous abominations of another kind, too great for me to expect mercy for, and therefore I dare not go to Christ.

The greater your sins have been, the more need you have to go to Jesus Christ. Let not a Motive to Christ, be made Sol. an Obstacle in your way to him. Great sinners are expresly called Isa. 1. 18. great sinners have come to Christ and found mercy, 1 Cor. 6. 7. And to conclude, it's an high reproach and dishonour to the blood of Christ, and mercy of God which flowes so freely through him, to object the greatness of sin to either of them. Certainly you have not sinned be­yond the extent of mercy, or beyond the efficacy of the blood of [Page 201] of Christ: but pardon and peace may be had, if you will thus come to Christ for it.

Oh but it's now too late; I have had many thousand calls by the Gospel, and refused them; many purposes in my heart 3. Obj. to go to Christ, and quenched them: my time therefore is past, and now 'tis to no purpose.

If the time of grace be past, and God intends no mercy for thee, how comes it to pass thy soul is now filled with trouble Sol. and distress for sin? Is this the frame of a mans heart that is past hope? Do such signs as these appear in men that are hopeless? Beside, the time of grace is a secret hid in the breast of God; but coming to Christ is a duty plainly re­vealed in the Text: and why will you object a thing that is secret and uncertain, against a duty that is so plain and evi­dent? Nor do you your selves believe what you object: for at the same time that you say your seasons are over, it is too late; you are notwithstanding found repenting, mourning, praying and striving to come to Christ. Certainly if you knew it were too late, you would not be found labouring in the use of means. Go on therefore, and the Lord be with you. 'Tis not presumption but obedience, to come when Christ calls; as here he doth, Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden:

Inference 2.

Hence it follows, That none have cause to be troubled, when God makes the souls of their friends or relations sick with the Inference 2. sense of sin. It was the saying (as I remember) of Hierom to Sabinian, Nothing (said he) makes my heart sadder, than that nothing can make thy heart sad. 'Tis matter of joy to all that rightly understand the matter, when God smites the heart of any man with the painful sense of sin; of such sick­ness it may be said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God. Yet how do many carnal relations lament and bewail this as a misery, as an undoing to their friends and acquaintance; as if then they must be reckon'd lost, and ne­ver till then that Christ is finding and saving them. O if your hearts were spiritual and wise, their groans for sin, would be as musick in your ears. When they go alone to [Page 202] bewail their sin, you would go alone also to bless God for such a mercy; that ever you should live to such a happy day: you would say, now is my friend in the blessed pangs of the new birth: now is he in the very way of mercy: never in so hopeful a condition as now. I had rather he should groan now at the feet of Christ, than groan hereafter under the wrath of God for ever. O Parents, beware as you love the souls of your Children, that you don't damp and discourage them, tempt or threaten them, divert or hinder them in such cases as this; lest you bring the blood of their souls upon your own heads.

Inference 3.

It also follows from hence, That those to whom sin was never Inference 3. any burthen, are not yet come to Christ, nor have they any interest in him. We may as well suppose a Child to be born without any pangs or throes, as a soul to be born again, and united to Christ without any sense or sorrow for sin. I know many have great frights of conscience, that never were made duly sensible of the evil of sin: many are afraid of burning, that never were afraid of sinning. Slight and transient troubles some have had, but it's vanisht like an early cloud, lickt up like a morning dew. Few men are without checks and throbs of conscience at one time or other, but instead of going to the Closet, they run to the Ale house or Tavern for a cure: If their sorrow for sin had been right, nothing but the sprink­ling of the blood of Christ could have appeased their con­sciences, Heb. 10. 22. How cold should the consideration of this thing strike to the hearts of such persons! Methinks Reader, if this be thy case, it should send thee away with an aking heart: Thou hast not yet tasted the bitterness of sin, and if thou do not, then shalt thou never taste the sweetness of Christ, his pardons and peace.

Inference 4.

How great a mercy is it for sin-burthened souls, to be within the Inference 4. sound and call of Christ in the Gospel!

[Page 203] There be many thousands in the Pagan and Popish parts of the world, that labour under distresses of conscience as well as we, but have no such reliefs or means of peace and com­fort as we have that live within the joyful sound of the Gospel. If the conscience of a Papist be burdened with guilt, all the relief he hath, is to afflict his body to quiet his soul: a penance or pilgrimage is all the relief they have. If a Pagan be in trouble for sin, he hath no knowledge of Christ, nor notion of a satisfaction made by him. The voice of na­ture is, Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? The damned endure the terrible blows and wounds of conscience for sin, they roar under that terrible lash, but no voice of peace or par­don is heard among them. It is not, come unto me ye that labour and are heavy laden, but depart from me ye cursed.

Blessed are your ears, for you hear the voice of peace, you are come to Jesus the Mediator, and to the blood of sprink­ling. O you can never set a due value upon this priviledge.

Inference 5.

How sweet and unspeakably relieving is the closing of a burdened Inference 5. soul with Jesus Christ by faith! 'Tis rest to the weary soul.

Soul troubles are spending and wasting troubles. The pains of a distressed conscience are the most acute pains. A poor soul would fain be at rest, but knows not where: he tryes this duty and that, but finds none: at last he falls into the way of believing; he casts himself with his burden of guilt and fear upon Christ, and there is the rest his soul de­sired. Christ and rest come together: till faith bring you to the bosome of Jesus, you can find no true rest; the soul is rolling and tossing, sick and weary upon the billows of its own guilt and fears. Now the soul is come like a Ship tossed with storms and tempests, out of a raging Ocean into the quiet harbour, or like a lost Sheep that hath been wandring in wea­riness, hunger and danger, into the fold. Is a soft bed in a quiet chamber sweet to one that is spent and tired with travel? Is the sight of a shoar sweet to the shipwrackt Mari­ner that looks for nothing but death? much more sweet is [Page 204] Christ to a soul that comes to him pressed in conscience, and broken in spirit under the sinking weight of sin.

How did the Italians rejoyce after a long & dangerous voy­age to see Italy again! Crying with loud and united voices which made the very heavens ring again, Italy, Italy! But no shoar is so sweet to the weather-beaten passenger, as Christ is to a Italiam, Itali­am, l [...]to cla­more salutant. Virg. broken-hearted sinner: this brings the soul to a sweet repose, Heb. 4. 3. We which have believed, do enter into rest: and this endears the way of faith to their souls ever after.

Inference 6.

Learn hence the usefulness of the Law, to bring souls to Jesus Inference 6. Christ. It's utterly useless as a Covenant to justifie us, but ex­ceeding useful to convince and humble us. It cannot relieve or ease us, but it can and doth awaken and rouze us: it's a fair glass to shew us the face of sin; and till we have seen that, we cannot see the face of Jesus Christ.

The Law like the Fiery Serpents smites, stings and torments the conscience: this drives us to the Lord Jesus lifted up in the Gospel, like the Brazen Serpent in the Wilderness to heal us. The use of the Law, is to make us feel our sickness; this makes us look out for a Physician. I was alive once without the Law (saith Paul) but when the Commandment came sin revived, and I dyed, Rom. 7. 9. The hard, vain, proud hearts of men require such an hammer to break them to pieces.

Inference 7.

It's the immediate duty of weary and heavy laden sinners to Inference 7. come to Christ by faith, and not stand off from Christ, or delay to accept him upon any pretence whatsoever.

Christ invites and commands such to come unto him, 'tis therefore your sin to neglect, draw back, or deferr, what­ever seeming reasons and pretences there may be to the contrary. When the Jaylor was brought (where I suppose thee now to be) to a pinching distress that made him cry, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? the very next counsel the Apostles gave him, was, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, Acts 16. 30, 31. And for your encou­ragement [Page 205] know, he that calleth you to come, knows your burden, what your sins have been, and troubles are, yet he calls you: if your sin hinder not Christ from calling, neither should it hinder you from coming. He that calls you, is able to ease you; to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him, Heb. 7. 25. Whatever fulness of sin be in you, there is a greater fulness of saving power in Christ. Moreover, he that calls you to come, never yet rejected any poor burdened soul that came to him: and hath said he never will, Joh. 6. 37. He that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out. Fear not therefore, he will not begin with thee, or make thee the first instance and example of the feared rejection.

And Lastly, Bethink thy self, what wilt thou do, and whither wilt thou go in this case, if not to Jesus Christ? No­thing shall ease or relieve thee, till thou dost come to him. Thou art under an happy necessity to go to him. With him only is found rest for the weary soul. Which brings us to the third and last Observation.

Doct. 3. Doct. 3.

That there is rest in Christ for all that come unto him under the heavy burden of Sin.

REST, is a sweet word to a weary soul, all seek it, none but believers find it. We which have believed Non dicit [...] ingressi sumus, sed [...] ingredi­mur, signifi­cans, initia quietis fideles nunc habere: plenam quie­tem suo tempor [...] consecuturos. Pareus in loc. (saith the Apostle) do enter into rest, Heb. 4. 3. he doth not say they shall, but they do enter into rest; noting their spiritual rest to be already begun by faith on earth in the tranquillity of conscience, and shall be consum­mated in heaven in the full enjoyment of God. There is a sweet calm upon the troubled soul after believing, an ease or rest of the mind, which is an unspeakable mercy to a poor weary soul. Christ is to it, as the Ark was to the Dove when she wandred over the watery World, and found not a place [Page 206] to rest the soal of her foot. Faith centres the unquiet spi­rit of man in Christ, brings it to repose it self and its bur­den on him. It is the souls dropping anchor in a storm, which stayes and settles it.

The great debate which cost so many anxious thoughts, is now issued into this resolution; I will venture my all upon Christ, let him do with me as seemeth him good. It was im­possible for the soul to find rest whilest it knew not where to bestow it self, or how to be secured from the wrath to come; but when all is embarqued in Christ for eternity, and the soul fully resolved to lean upon him, and trust to him; now it feels the very initials of eternal rest in it self: it finds an heavy burden unloaded from its shoulders: it is come as it were into a new world: the case is strangely altered. The word rest in this place notes, (and is so rendered by some) a recreation: 'tis restored, renewed and recreated as it Recreabo vos, nempe à lassi­tudine, à mo­lestia, & one­re. Vatab. & Erasm. were, by that sweet repose it hath upon Christ. Believers know, that faith is the sweetest recreation you can take. Others seek to divert and lose their troubles by sinful recre­ations, vain company and the like; but they little know what that recreation, and sweet restoring rest that faith gives the soul, is. You find in Christ what they seek in vain among the creatures. Believing is the highest recreation known in this world. But to prevent mistakes, three Cauti­ons need to be premised, lest we do in ipso limine impingere, stumble at the threshold, and so lose our way all along af­terward.

Caution 1.

You are not to conceive, that all the souls fears, troubles and sorrows are presently over and at an end, as soon as it is come to Caution 1. Christ by faith. They will have many troubles in the world after that, it may be more than ever they had in their lives: Luther upon his conversi­on was so buffeted by Satan, ut nec calor, nec san­guis, nec sensus, nec vox super­esset. Our flesh (saith Paul) had no rest, 2 Cor. 7. 5. They will be infested with many temptations after that, it may be the as­saults of Satan may be more violent upon their souls than ever: horribilia de deo, terribilia de fide: Injections that make the very bones to quake, and the belly to tremble: they will not be freed from sin, that rest remains for the people of [Page 207] God, nor from inward trouble and grief of soul about sin. These things are not to be expected presently.

Caution 2.

We may not think that all believers do immediately enter into Caution 2. the full actual sense of rest and comfort; but they presently enter into the state of rest. Being justified by faith, we have peace with God, Rom. 5. 1. (i. e.) we enter into the state of peace immediately. Peace is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart, Psal. 97. 11. And he is a rich man that hath a thousand acres of corn in the ground, as well as he that hath so much in his barn, or the money in his purse. They have rest and peace in the seed of it, when they have it not in the fruit: they have rest in the promise, when they have it not in possession: and he is a rich man that hath good Bonds and Bills for a great summ of money, if he have not twelve pence in his pocket. All believers have the promise, have rest and peace granted them under Gods own hand in many promises; which faith brings them under: and we know that the truth and faithfulness of God stands engaged to make good every line and word of the promise to them. So that though they have not a full and clear actual sense and feeling of rest, they are nevertheless by faith come into the state of rest.

Caution 3.

We may not conceive, that faith it self is the souls rest, but Caution 3. the means and instrument of it only. We cannot find rest in any work or duty of our own, but we may find it in Christ, whom faith apprehends for Justification and Sal­vation.

Having thus guarded the point against misapprehensions by these needful cautions, I shall next shew you, how our coming to Christ by faith brings us to rest in him. And here let it be considered what those things are that burden, grieve and disquiet the soul before its coming to Christ, and how it is relieved and eased in all those respects by▪ its coming to the Lord Jesus: and you shall find,

[Page 208] First, That one principal ground of trouble, is the guilt 1. of sin upon the conscience, of which I spake in the former point. The curse of the Law lyes heavy upon the soul, so heavy that nothing is found in all the world able to relieve it under that burthen: as you see in a condemned man, spread a Table in Prison with the greatest dainties, and send for the rarest Musicians, all will not charm his sorrow; but if you can produce an authentick pardon, you ease him presently: just so it is here, faith plucks the thorn out of the conscience which so grieved it, unites the soul with Christ, and then that ground of trouble is removed: for there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ, Rom. 8. 11. The same moment the soul comes to Christ, it is past from death to life; is no more under the Law, but Grace. If a mans debt be paid by his surety, he need not fear to shew his face boldly abroad: he may freely meet the Sergeant at the prison door.

Secondly, The soul of a convinced sinner is exceedingly 2. burdened with the uncleanness and filthiness wherewith sin hath defiled and polluted it. Conviction discovers the universal pollution of heart and life, so that a man loaths and abhorrs himself by reason thereof: If he do not look into his own corruptions, he cannot be safe: and if he do, he cannot bear the sight of it; he hath no quiet: Nothing can give rest, but what gives relief against this evil. And this only is done by faith uniting the soul with Jesus Christ. For though it be true, that the pollution of sin be not presently and per­fectly taken away by coming to Christ; yet the burden there­of is exceedingly eased: for upon our believing, there is an heart-purifying principle planted into the soul, which doth by degrees cleanse that fountain of corruption, and will at last perfectly free the soul from it, Acts 15. 9. Purifying their hearts by faith: and being once in Christ, he is concerned for the soul, as a member now of his own mystical body to pu­rifie and cleanse it, that at last he may present it perfect to the Father without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, Eph. 5. 26. The reigning power of it is gone immediately upon believing, and the very existence and being of it shall at last be destroyed. O what rest must this give under those troubles for sin?

[Page 209] Thirdly, It was an intolerable burthen to the soul to be under the continual fears, aiarms and frights of death and 3. damnation. Its life hath been a life of bondage upon this ac­count, ever since the Lord opened his eyes to see his conditi­on. Poor souls lye down with tremblings for fear what a night may bring forth. 'Tis a sad life indeed to live in conti­nual bondage to such fears. But faith sweetly relieves the trembling Conscience, by removing the guilt which breeds it; fears. The sting of death is sin; when guilt is removed, fears vanish. Smite Lord, smite, said Luther, for my sins are for­given. Now if sickness come, 'tis another thing than it was Feri Domine, feri, nam à pec­catis meis ab­solutus sum, Luth. wont to be, Isai. 33. 21. The Inhabitant shall not say I am sick, the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquities: a man scarce feels his sickness in comparison to what he did, whilst he was without Christ, and hope of pardon.

Fourthly, A convinced sinner out of Christ sees every thing 4. against him: nothing yields any comfort, yea every thing increases and aggravates his burthen, whether he look to things past, present, or to come. If he reflect upon things past, his soul is filled with anguish to remember the sins committed, and the seasons neglected; and the precious mercies that have been abused: if he look upon things present, the case is doleful and miserable: nothing but trouble and danger; Christless, and comfortless: and if he look forward to things to come, that gives him a deeper cut to the heart than any thing else; for though it be sad and miserable for the present, yet he fears it will be much worse hereafter; all these are but the beginning of sorrows: and thus the poor awakened sinner becomes a Magor missabib; fear round about.

But upon his coming to Christ all things are marvellously al­tered: a quite contrary face of things appears to him: eve­ry thing gives him hope and comfort which way soever he looks: so speaks the Apostle, 1 Cor. 3. 22, 23. All things are yours (saith he) whether life, or death; or things present, or things to come, all is yours, and ye are Christs, and Christ is Gods: they are ours (i. e.) for our advantage, benefit and comfort; more particularly upon our coming to Christ▪

First, Things past are ours, they conduce to our advantage and comfort. Now the soul can begin to read the gracious end and design of God, in all its preservations and delive­rances; [Page 210] whereby it hath been reserved for such a day as this. O! it melts his heart to consider, his Companions in sin and Vanity are cut off, and he spared; and that for a day of such mercy as the day of his espousals with Christ is. Now all his past sorrows and deep troubles of spirit which God hath exercised him with, begin to appear the greatest mercies that ever he received; being all necessary, and introductive to this blessed union with Christ.

Secondly, Things present are ours, though it be not yet with us as we would have it; Christ is not sure enough, the heart is not pure enough; sin is too strong, and grace is too weak; many things are yet out of order; yet can the soul bless God for this with tears of joy, and praise him for this brimful of admiration, and holy astonishment; that it is, as it is; that he is where he is, though he be not yet where he would be. O 'tis a blessed life to live as a poor recumbent, by acts of trust and affiance, though as yet it have but little evidence: that it is resolved to trust all with Christ, though it be not yet certain of the issue. O this is a comfortable station, a sweet condition to what it was, either when it wallowed in sin in the days before conviction, or was swallowed up in fears and troubles for sin after conviction: now it hath hope though it want assurance; and hope is sweet to a soul com­ing out of such deep distresses: now it sees the remedy, and is applying it, whereas before the wound seemed desperate: now all hesitations and debates are at an end in the Soul, 'tis no longer bivious and unresolved what to do; all things have been deeply considered, and after consideration, issued into this resolve or decree of the will. I will go to Christ; I will venture all upon his Command and Call; I will im­barque my eternal interests in that Bottom: here I fix; and upon this ground I resolve to live and dye. O how much better is this, than that floating life it lived before, roll­ing upon the billows of inward fears and troubles, not able to drop Anchor any where, nor knowing where to find an Harbour.

Thirdly, Things to come are ours: and this is the best and sweetest of all: man is a prospecting creature, his eye is much upon things to come, and it will not satisfie him that it is well at present, except he have a prospect that it shall be [Page 211] so hereafter: but now the soul hath committed it self and all its concernments to Christ for eternity, and this being done, it's greatly relieved against evils to come.

I cannot (saith the Believer) think all my troubles over, and that I shall never meet any more afflictions, it were a fond va­nity to dream of that; but I leave all these things where I have left my soul: he that hath supported me under inward, will carry me through outward troubles also. I cannot think all my temptations to sin past, O, I may yet meet with sore assaults from Satan: yet it is infinitely better to be watching, praying and striving against sin, than it was when I was obey­ing it in the lusts of it. God that hath delivered me from the love of sin, will, I trust, preserve me from ruine by sin. I know also death is to come, I must feel the pangs and agonies of it; but yet the aspect of death is much more pleasant than it was. I come Lord Jesus to thee, who art the death of death, whose death hath disarmed death of its sting. I fear not its dart, if I feel not its sting. And thus you see briefly, how by faith Believers enter into rest. How Christ gives rest even at present to them that come to him, and all this but as a beginning of their everlasting rest.

Inference 1.

Is there rest in Christ for weary souls that come unto him, Then certainly it's a design of Satan against the peace and welfare Inference 1. of mens souls to discourage them from coming to Christ in the way of faith.

He is a restless spirit himself, and would make us so too: it is an excellent note of Minutius Foelix, Those desperate Ad Solamen calamitatis suae, non defi­nunt per i [...]i perdere. Mi­nut. Felix. and restless Spirits (saith he) have no other pleasure, but in bringing us to the same misery themselves are in: he go­eth about as a roaring Lyon, seeking whom he may devour. It frets and grates his proud and envious mind to see others find rest, when he can find none: an effectual Plaister appli­ed to heal our wound, when his own must bleed to eternity: and he obtains his end fully, if he can but keep off souls from Christ: look therefore upon all those objections and discou­ragements raised in your hearts against coming to Christ, as so many Artifices and cunning Devices of the Devil to de­stroy [Page 212] and ruine your souls. 'Tis true, they have a very specious and colourable appearance, they are guilded over with pretences of the Justice of God, the heinous nature of sin; the want of due and befitting qualifications for so holy and pure a God: the lapsing of the reason of mercy, and an hun­dred other of like nature: but I beseech you lay down this as a sure conclusion, and hold it fast; that whatever it be that discourages and hinders you from coming to Christ, is direct­ly against the interest of your souls, and the hand of the Di­vil is certainly in it.

Inference 2.

Hence also it follows, That unbelief is the true reason of all that disquietness and trouble, by which the minds of poor sinners are Inference 2. so rackt and tortured.

If you will not believe, you cannot be established: till you come to Christ, peace cannot come to you: Christ and peace are undivided. Good souls consider this, you have tryed all other ways, you have tried duties, and no rest comes; you have tried reformation, restitution, and a stricter course of life, yet your wounds are still open and fresh bleeding: these things, I grant, are in their places both good and necessary, but of themselves, without Christ, utterly insufficient to give what you expect from them: why will you not try the way of faith? why will you not carry your burthen to Christ? O that you would be perswaded to it, how soon would you find what so long you have been seeking in vain! how long will you thus oppose your own good! how long will you keep your selves upon the rack of Conscience! is it easie to go under the throbs and wounds of an accusing and condemning Consci­ence? You know it is not: you look for peace, but no good comes, for a time of healing, and behold trouble: alas, it must and will be so still, untill you fall into the way of faith, which is the true and only method to obtain rest.

Inference 3.

What cause have we all to admire the goodness of God, in providing for us a Christ, in whom we may find rest to our Inference 3. souls!

How hath the Lord filled and furnished Jesus Christ with all that is suitable to a Believers wants! Doth the guilt of sin terrifie his Conscience? Lo, in him is perfect righteous­ness to remove that guilt, so that it shall neither be imputed to his person, nor reflected by his Conscience in the way of condemnation as it was before. In him also is a Fountain opened for washing and for cleansing the filth of sin from our souls: in him is the fulness both of Merit, and of Spirit, two sweet Springs of Peace to the souls of men: well might the Apostle say, Christ the wisdom of God, 1 Cor. 1. 30. and well might the Church say, he is altogether lovely, Cant 5. 16. Had not God provided Jesus Christ for us, we had never known one hours rest to all eternity.

Inference 4.

How unreasonable and wholly inexcusable in Believers is the sin of backsliding from Christ? Have you found rest in him, Inference 4. when you could not find it in any other? Did he receive and ease your souls when all other persons and things were Phy­sicians of no value? and will you after this backslide from him again? O what madness is this! Will a man leave the Snow of Lebanon which cometh from the Rock of the Field? or shall the cold flowing waters that come from another place, be forsaken? No man that is in his wits would leave the pure cold re­freshing streams of a Crystal Fountain, to go to a filthy pud­led Lake, or an empty Cistern, as the best enjoyments of this world are in comparison with Jesus Christ.

It was Christs melting expostulation with the Disciples, Joh. 6. 67, 68. when some had forsaken him, will ye also go away? and it was a very suitable return they made, Lord, whi­ther away from thee should we go! q. d. from thee, Lord, no no, where can we mend our selves? Be sure of it, when ever you go from Christ, ye go from rest to trouble. Had Judas [Page 214] rest? had Spira rest? and do you think you shall have re [...] no no, The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways, Prov. 14. 14. you shall have your bellies full of it: Cursed be the man that departeth from him, he shall be as the Heath in the Desart, that seeth not when good cometh, and shall inhabit the parched places of the wilderness, Jer. 17. 5. If fear of suf­ferings and worldly temptations ever draw you off from Christ, you may come to those straights and terrors of Con­science, that will make you wish your selves back again with Christ in a Prison, with Christ at a Stake.

Inference 5.

Let all that come to Christ, learn to improve him to the rest and peace of their own souls, in the midst of all the troubles and Inference 5. outward distresses they meet with in the world.

Surely rest may be found in Christ in any condition: he is able to give you peace in the midst of all your troubles here. So he tells you in Joh. 16. ult. These things have I spo­ken to you, that in me you might have peace; in the world you shall have tribulation: by peace he means not a deliverance from troubles by taking off affliction from them, or taking them away by death from all afflictions; but it is something they en­joy from Christ in the very thick of troubles, and amidst all their afflictions, that quiets and gives them rest, so that troubles cannot hurt them: certainly Believers, you have peace in Christ, when there is little in your own hearts: and your hearts might be filled with peace too, if you would exercise faith upon Christ for that end: 'tis your own fault, if you be without rest in any condition in this world. Set your selves to study the fulness of Christ, and to clear your interest in him, believe what the Scriptures reveal of him, and live as you believe, and you will quickly find the peace of God filling your hearts and minds.

Blessed be God for Jesus Christ.

The Tenth SERMON. Sermon 10.

MAT. 9. 12.‘But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, Text. Wherein the general Exhortati­on is enfor­ced, by one Motive, drawn from the first Title of Christ. They that be whole need not a Physician, but they that be sick.’

HAving opened in the former discourses the na­ture and method of the Application of Christ to sinners, it remains now that I press it upon eve­ry soul, as ever it expects peace and pardon from God, to apply, and put on Jesus Christ, (i. e.) to get union with him by faith whilst he is yet held forth in the free and gracious tenders of the Gospel; to which purpose I shall now labour in this general Use of Exhortation, in which my last Subject engaged me; wherein divers Arguments will be further urged, both from

The1. Titles, andof Jesus Christ.
2. Priviledges

The Titles of Christ are so many Motives or arguments fitted to perswade men to come unto him. Amongst which, [Page 216] Christ as the Physician of Souls comes under our first Conside­ration in the Text before us.

The occasion of these words of Christ, was the call of Matthew the Publican: who having first opened his Heart, next opened his House to Christ, and entertains him there: this strange and unexpected change wrought upon Matthew, quickly rings in all the Neighbourhood, and many Publicans and Sinners resorted thither; at which the stomachs of the proud Pharisees began to swell: from this occasion they took offence at Christ, and in this verse Christ takes off the of­fence by such an answer as was fitted both for their convicti­on and his own vindication. But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them; The whole have no need of a Physician, but they that be sick.

He gives it (saith one) as a reason why he conversed so much with Publicans and Sinners, and so little among the Pha­risees, because there was more work for him: men set up where they think Trade will be quickest: Christ came to be a Physician to sick souls. Pharisees were so well in their own conceit, that Christ saw he should have little to do among them; and so he applied himself to those who were more sensible of their sickness.

In the words we have an account of the temper and state both

Of1. The secure and unconvincedSinner.
2. The humbled and convinced
And 3. Of the Carriage of Christ, and his different respect to either. 

1. First, The secure sinner is here described, both with respect to his own apprehensions of himself, as one that is whole, and also by his low value and esteem for Christ, he sees no need of him; the whole have no need of the Physician.

2. Secondly, The Convinced and Humbled Sinner is here also described, and that both by his state and condition, he is sick; and by his valuation of Jesus Christ, he greatly needs him: they that be sick need the Physician.

3. Thirdly, We have here Christs carriage and different re­spect to both: the former he rejects, and passeth by; as those [Page 217] with whom he hath no concernment: the later he converses with in order to their cure.

The words thus opened are fruitful in observations. I shall neither note nor insist upon any beside this one, which fuits the scope of my Discourse, viz.

DOCT.

That the Lord Jesus Christ is the only Physician for sick souls.

The world is a great Hospital full of sick and dying souls, Doct. all wounded by one and the same mortal weapon, sin. Some are senseless of their misery, feel not their pains, value not a Physician: others are full of sense, as well as danger; mourn under the apprehension of their condition, and sadly bewail it. The merciful God hath, in his abundant compassion to the perishing world, sent a Physician from Heaven, and gi­ven him his Orders under the Great Seal of Heaven for his Office, Isai. 61. 1, 2. which he opened and read in the au­dience of the people, Luke 4. 18. The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach good tydings unto the meek, he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, &c. He is the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the Nations: he is Jehova Rophe, the Lord that healeth us; and that as he is Jehovah Tzidkenu, the Lord our righteousness. The Brazen Serpent that healed the Israelites in the Wilder­ness, was an excellent Type of our Great Physician Christ, and is expresly applied to him, John 3. 14. he rejects none that come, and heals all whom he undertakes: but more particularly I will,

First, Point at those Diseases which Christ heals in sick souls, and by what means he heals them.

Secondly, the excellency of this Physician above all others: there is none like Christ, he is the only Physician for wound­ed souls.

First, We will enquire into the Diseases which Christ the Physician cures; and they are reducible to two heads, [...].

viz.
  • 1. Sin, and
  • 2. Sorrow.

[Page 218] First, The disease of sin, in which three things are found exceeding burthensome to sick souls,

1. The Guiltof sin; all cured by this Physici­an, and how.
2. The Dominion
3. The Inherence

First, The guilt of sin, this is a mortal wound, a stab in 1. the very heart of a poor sinner. 'Tis a fond and groundless distinction that Papists make of sins Mortal and Venial: all sin in its own nature is mortal, Rom. 6. 23. The wages of sin is death: yet though it be so in its own nature, Christ can, and doth cure it by the Soveraign Balfom of his own pre­cious blood, Eph. 1. 7. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace. This is the deepest and deadliest wound the soul of man feels in this world: what is guilt, but the obligation of the soul to everlasting punishment and misery? It puts the soul under the sentence of God to eternal wrath; the con­demning sentence of the great and terrible God; than which, nothing is found more dreadful and insupportable: put all pains, all poverty, all afflictions, all miseries in one Scale, and Gods condemnation in the other, and you weigh but so many Feathers against a talent of Lead.

This Disease our great Physician Christ cures by Remission, which is the dissolving of the obligation to punishment; the loosing of the soul that was bound over to the Wrath and Condemnation of God, Coll. 2. 13, 14. Heb. 6. 12. Micah 7. 17, 18, 19. this remission being made, the soul is immediate­ly cleared from all its obligations to punishment, Rom. 8. 1. There is no condemnation: all Bonds are cancelled; the guilt of all sins is healed or removed; original, and actual; great, and small. This cure is performed upon souls by the blood of Christ: nothing is found in Heaven or earth besides his blood, that is able to heal this disease; Heb. 9. 22. With­out shedding of blood there is no remission; nor is it any blood that will do it, but that only which dropt from the wounds of Christ, Isa. 53. 5. By his stripes we are healed: his blood only is innocent and precious blood, 1 Pet. 1. 19. blood of infi­nite worth and value; the blood of God, Act. 20. 28. blood [Page 219] prepared for this very purpose, Heb. 10. 5. this is the blood that performs the cure; and how great a cure is it! for this cure the souls of Believers shall be praising and magni­fying their great Physician in Heaven to all eternity, Rev. 1. 5, 6. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, &c. to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.

Secondly, The next evil in sin, cured by Christ, is the do­minion 2. of it over the souls of poor sinners. Where sin is in dominion, the soul is in a very sad condition; for it darkens the Understanding, depraves the Conscience, stiffens the Will, hardens the Heart, misplaces and disorders all the Affections: and thus every faculty is wounded by the power and domi­nion of sin over the soul. How difficult is the cure of this disease! it passes the skill of Angels or men to heal it: but Christ undertakes it, and makes a perfect cure of it at last; and this he doth by his Spirit. As he cures the guilt of sin by pouring out his blood for us, so he cures the dominion of sin, by pouring out his Spirit upon us. Justification is the cure of guilt, Sanctification the cure of the dominion of sin. For,

First, As the Dominion of sin darkens the understanding, 1 Cor. 2. 14. so the spirit of holiness which Christ sheds up­on his people, cures the darkness and blindness of that no­ble faculty, and restores it again, Eph. 5. 8. they that were darkness are hereby light in the Lord: the anointing of this Spirit teacheth them all things, 1 John 2. 27.

Secondly, As the dominion of sin depraved and defiled the Conscience, Tit. 1. 15. wounded it to that degree, as to disable it to the performances of all its Offices and Functions; so that it was neither able to apply, convince, or tremble at the word: So when the Spirit of holiness is shed forth, O what a tender sense fills the renewed Conscience! for what small things will it check, smite and rebuke! how strongly will it bind to duty, and bar against sin!

Thirdly, As the dominion of sin stiffned the Will, and made it stubborn and rebellious; so Christ by sanctifying it, brings it to be pliant and obedient to the will of God. Lord, saith the sinner, what wilt thou have me to do? Act. 9. 6.

[Page 220] Fourthly, As the power of sin hardneth the Heart, so that nothing could affect it, or make any impression upon it; when sanctification comes upon the soul, it thaws and breaks it, as hard as it was, and makes it dissolve in the breast of a sinner in godly sorrow, Ezec. 36. 26. I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. It will now melt ingenuously under the threatnings of the word, 2 Kings 22. 19. or the strokes of the Rod, Jer. 31. 18. or the manifestations of grace and mercy, Luke 7. 38.

Fifthly, As the power of sin misplaced and disordered all the affections, so sanctification reduces them again, and sets them right, Psal. 4. 6, 7. And thus you see how sanctification becomes the rectitude, health and due temper of the soul, so far as it prevails, curing the diseases that sin in its domi­nion filled the soul with. True it is, this cure is not per­fected in this life: there are still some grudgings of the old diseases in the holiest souls, notwithstanding sin be dethro­ned from its dominion over them: but the cure is begun, and daily advances towards perfection, and at last will be compleat, as will appear in the cure of the next evil of sin, namely,

Thirdly, The Inherence of sin in the soul; this is a sore disease, the very core and root of all our other complaints 3. and ayles. This made the holy Apostle bemoan himself, and waile so bitterly, Rom. 7. 17. because of sin that dwelt in him: and the same misery is bewailed by all sanctified persons all the world over.

'Tis a wonderful mercy to have the guilt and the dominion of sin cured; but we shall never be perfectly sound and well till the existence, or indwelling of sin in our natures be cu­red too. When once that is done, then we shall feel no more pain, nor sorrows for sin: and this our great Physician will at last perform for us, and upon us: but as the cure of guilt was by our Justification, the cure of the dominion of sin by our Sanctification; so the third and last which per­fects the whole cure, will be by our Glorification; and till then it is not to be expected. For it's a clear case, that sin like Ivy in the old Walls, will never be gotten out, till the Wall be pulled down, and then it's pulled up by the roots. This [Page 221] cure Christ will perform in a moment upon our dissolution. For 'tis plain,

First, That none but perfected souls, freed from all sin, are admitted into Heaven, Eph. 5. 27. Heb. 12. 23. Rev. 21. 27.

Secondly, 'Tis as plain, that no such personal perfecti­on and freedom is found in any man on this side death, and the grave, 1 Joh. 1. 8. 1 Kings 8. 46. Philip. 3. 12. a truth sealed by the sad experience of all the Saints on earth.

Thirdly, If such freedom and perfection must be before we can be perfectly happy, and no such thing be done in this life; it remains that it must be done immediately upon their dissolution, and at the very time of their glorification: as sin came in at the time of the union of their souls and bodies in the womb, so it will go out at the time of their separation by death: then will Christ put the last hand to this glorious work, and perfect that cure which hath been so long under his hand in this world: and thenceforth sin shall have no power upon them; it shall never tempt them more, it shall never defile them more; it shall never grieve and sadden their hearts any more: henceforth it shall never cloud their evi­dences, darken their understandings, or give the least inter­ruption to their communion with God: when sin is gone, all these its mischievous effects are gone with it. So that I may speak it to the comfort of all gracious hearts, according to what the Lord told the Israelites in Deut. 12. 8, 9. (to which I allude for illustration of this most comfortable truth) Ye shall not do after all the things that ye do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes, for ye are not as yet come to the rest, and to the inheritance which the Lord your God giveth you. Whilst you are under Christs cure upon earth, but not perfectly healed; your understandings mistake, your thoughts wander, your affections are dead, your com­munion with God is daily interrupted: but it shall not be so in Heaven, where the cure is perfect: you shall not know, love, or delight in God as you do this day; for you are not as yet come to the rest, and to the inheritance which the Lord your God giveth you: and so much as to the dis­eases of sin, and Christs method of curing them.

Secondly, As sin is the disease of the Saints, so also is Sorrow. The best of Saints must pass through the vally of 2 [...]. [Page 222] Bacha to Heaven. How many tears fall from the Eyes of the Saints upon the account of outward, as well as inward troubles; even after their reconciliation with God? Through much tribulation we must enter into the Kingdom of God, Acts 14. 22. It would be too great a digression in this place, to note but the more general heads, under which almost infi­nite particulars of troubles and afflictions are found. It shall suffice only to shew, that whatever distress or trouble any poor soul is in upon any account whatsoever; if that soul belong to Jesus Christ, he will take care of it for pre­sent, and deliver it at last by a compleat cure.

First, Christ cures troubles by sanctifying them to the souls of his that are under affliction, and makes their very trou­bles medicinal and healing to them. Trouble is a Scorpion, and hath a deadly sting; but Christ is a wise Physician, and extracts a Soveraign Oyl out of this Scorpion, that heals the wound it makes. By affliction our wise Physician purges our corruptions, and so prevents or cures greater troubles by les­ser; inward sorrows, by outward ones, Isai. 27. 9. By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit, to take away his sin.

Secondly, Christ cures outward troubles by inward conso­lations, which are made to rise in the inner man as high as the waters of affliction do upon the outward man, 2 Cor. 1. 5. One drop of spiritual comfort is sufficient to sweeten a whole Ocean of outward trouble. It was an high expression of an Nihil Corpus sent it in nerv [...], cum Anima sit in Coelo. afflicted Father, whom God comforted just upon the death of his dear and only Son, with some clearer manifestations of his love than was usual. O, said he, might I but have such consolations as these, I could be willing (were it possible) to lay an only Son into the grave every day I have to live in this world. Thus all the troubles of the world are cured by Christ, John 16. 33. In the world ye shall have trouble, but in me ye shall have peace.

Thirdly, Christ cures all outward sorrows and troubles in his people by death, which is their removal from the place of sorrows to peace and rest for evermore. Now God wipes all tears from their eyes, and the days of their mourning are at an end: they then put off the Garments and Spirit of mourning, and enter into peace, Isai. 57. 2. they come to [Page 223] that place and state, where tears and sighs are things un­known to the Inhabitants: one step beyond the state of this mortality, brings us quite out of the sight and hearing of all troubles and lamentations. These are the diseases of souls, sin and sorrow; and thus they are cured by Christ the Physician.

Secondly, Next, I shall shew you that Jesus Christ is the only Physician of souls: none like him for a sick sinner: and this will be evident in divers respects.

First, None so wise and judicious as Jesus Christ to under­stand, 2. and comprehend the nature, depth, and danger of soul diseases. O how ignorant and unacquainted are men with the state and case of afflicted souls! but Christ hath the tongue of the Learned, that he should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary, Isai. 50. 4. He only understands the weight of sin, and depth of inward troubles for sin.

Secondly, None so able to cure and heal the wounds of af­flicted souls as Christ is: he only hath those medicines that can cure a sick soul. The blood of Christ, and nothing else in Heaven or Earth, is able to cure the mortal wounds which guilt inflicts upon a trembling Conscience: let men try all other receipts, and costly experience shall convince them of their insufficiency. Conscience may be benummed by stupe­factive medicines, prepared by the Devil for that end, but pacified it can never be, but by the blood of Christ, Heb. 16. 22.

Thirdly, None so tender hearted, and sympathizing with sick souls, as Jesus Christ: he is full of bowels and tender compassions to afflicted souls: he is one that can have compas­sion, because he hath had experience, Heb. 5. 2. If I must come into the Chirurgeons hand with broken bones, give me such a one to choose, whose own bones have been broken, who hath felt the anguish in himself. Christ knows what it is by experience, having felt the anguish of inward trou­bles, the weight of Gods wrath, and the terrors of a forsa­king God, more than any, or all the sons of men: this makes him tender over distressed souls, Isai. 42. 3. A brui­sed reed he will not break, and smoaking flax he shall not quench.

Fourthly, None cures in so wonderful a method as Christ doth: he heals us by his stripes, Isai. 53. 5. The Physician [Page 224] dyes that the Patient may live: his wounds must bleed, that ours may be cured: he feels the smart and pain, that we might have the ease and comfort. No Physician but Christ will cure others at this rate.

Fifthly, None so ready to relieve a sick soul as Christ: he is within the call of a distressed soul at all times. Art thou sick for sin, weary of sin, and made truly willing to part with sin? Lift up but thy sincere cry to the Lord Jesus for help, and he will quickly be with thee: when the Prodigal, the embleme of a convinced humbled sinner, said in himself, I will return to my Father, the Father ran to meet him, Luke 15. 20. he can be with thee in a moment.

Sixthly, none so willing to receive and undertake all di­stressed and afflicted souls as Jesus Christ is: he refuses none that come to him, Joh. 6. 37. He that cometh unto me, I will in no wayes cast out: whatever their sins have been, or their sorrows are; however they have wounded their own souls with the deepest gashes of guilt; how desperate and helpless soever their case appears in their own or others Eyes: he ne­ver puts them off, or discourages them, if they be but will­ing to come, Isai. 1. 18, 19.

Seventhly, None so happy and successful as Christ: he ne­ver fails of performing a perfect cure upon those he under­takes: never was it known that any soul miscarried in his hands, John 3. 15, 16. other Physicians by mistakes, by ig­norance, or carelesness, fill Church-yards, and cast away the lives of men: but Christ suffers none to perish that commit themselves to him.

Eighthly, none so free and generous as Christ, he doth all gratis: he sells not his medicines, though they be of infinite value, but freely gives them, Isai. 55. 1. He that hath no mo­ney let him come; if any be sent away, 'tis the rich, Luk. 1. 53. not the poor and needy: those that will not accept their re­medy as a free gift, but will needs purchase it at a price.

Ninthly, and Lastly, None rejoyces in the recovery of souls more than Christ doth. O it is unspeakably delightful to him to see the efficacy of his blood upon our souls, Isai. 53. 11. He shall see the travail of his soul (i. e. the success of his death and sufferings) and shall be satisfied: when he foresaw the success of the Gospel upon the world, it's said Luk. 10. 21. [Page 225] In that hour Jesus rejoyced in spirit: and thus you see, there is no Physician like Christ for sick souls.

The Uses of this Point are,

For
  • Information and
  • Direction.

First, From hence we are informed of many great and ne­cessary truths deducible from this: as,

Inference 1.

How inexpressible is the grace of God, in providing such a Phy­sician Inference 1. as Christ, for the sick and dying souls of Sinners! O blessed be God, that there is Balm in Gilead, and a Physician there: that your case is not as desperate, forlorn and re­mediless as that of the Devils and damned is. There is but one case excepted from cure, and that such as is not incident to any sensible afflicted soul, Mat. 12. 31. and this only ex­cepted, all manner of sins and diseases are capable of a cure. Though there be such a disease as is incurable, yet take this for thy comfort, never any soul was sick ( i. e.) sensibly burthened with it, and willing to come to Jesus Christ for healing: for under that sin, the will is so wounded that they have no desire to Christ. O inestimable mercy, that the sickest sinner is capable of a perfect cure! There be thou­sands, and ten thousands now in Heaven and earth, who said once, never was any case like theirs; so dangerous, so hopeless. The greatest of sinners have been perfectly reco­vered by Christ, 1 Tim. 1. 15. 1 Cor. 6. 11. O mercy never to be duly estimated!

Inference 2.

What a powerful restraint from sin, is the very method ordain­ed Inference 2. by God for the cure of it! Isai. 53. 5. by his stripes we are healed. The Physician must dye, that the Patient might live: no other thing but the blood, the precious blood of Christ [Page 226] is found in Heaven or earth able to heal us, Heb. 9. 22. 26. This blood of Christ must be freshly applied to every new wound sin makes upon our souls, 1 John 2. 1, 2. every new sin wounds him afresh, opens the wounds of Christ anew. O think of this again, and again, you that so easily yield to the solicitations of Satan: is it so cheap and easie to sin, as you seem to make it? Doth the cure of souls cost nothing? True, it is free to us, but was it so to Christ? No, no, it was not; he knows the price of it, though you do not: hath Christ healed you by his stripes, and can you put him un­der fresh sufferings for you so easily? Have you forgot also your own sick days and nights for sin, that you are careless in resisting, and preventing it? Sure 'tis not easie for Saints to wound Christ and their own souls, at one stroke: if you renew your sins, you must also renew your sorrows and re­pentance, Psal. 51. Title. 2 Sam. 12. 13. you must feel the throes and pains of a troubled Spirit again, things with which the Saints are not unacquainted: of which they may say as the Church, Remembring my affliction, the Wormwood and the Gall, my soul hath them still in remembrance, Lam. 3. 19. Yea, and if you will yet be remiss in your watch, and so ea­sily incur new guilt; though a pardon in the blood of Christ may heal your souls, yet some Rod or other in the hand of a displeased Father shall afflict your bodies, or smite you in your outward Comforts, Psal. 89. 32.

Inference 3.

If Christ be the only Physician of sick souls, what sin and folly is it for men to take Christs work out of his hands, and attempt Inference 3. to be their own Physicians?

Thus do those that superstitiously endeavour to heal their souls by afflicting their bodies: not Christs blood, but their own must be the Plaister: and as blind Papists, [...]o many carnal and ignorant Protestants strive by con­fession, restitution, reformation, and a stricter course of life to heal those wounds that sin hath made upon their souls, without any respect to the blood of Christ: but this course shall not profit them at all. It may for a time divert, but can never heal them: the wounds so skinned over, [Page 227] will open and bleed again; God grant it be not when our souls shall be out of the reach of the true and only re­medy.

Inference 4.

How sad is the case of those souls, to whom Christ hath not Inference 4. yet been a Physician? They are mortally wounded by sin, and are like to dye of their sickness; no saving healing ap­plications having hitherto been made unto their souls: and this is the case of the greatest part of mankind; yea, of them that live under the discoveries of Christ in the Gospel: which appears by these sad symptoms.

First, In that their eyes have not yet been opened to see their sin and misery, in which illumination the cure of souls begins, Act. 26. 18. to this day he hath not given them Eyes to see, Deut. 29. 4. but that terrible stroke of God, which blinds and hardens them, is too visibly upon them, mentioned in Isai. 6. 9, 10. no hope of healing till the sin­ners Eyes be opened to see his sin, and misery.

Secondly, In that nothing will divorce and separate them from their lusts: a sure sign they are not under Christs cure, nor were ever made sick of sin. O if ever Christ be a Phy­sician to thy soul, he will make thee loath what now thou lo­vest, and say to thy most pleasant and profitable lusts, get ye hence, Isai. 30. 22. till then there is no ground to think that Christ is a Physician to you.

Thirdly, In that they have no sensible and pressing need of Christ, nor make any earnest enquiry after him, as most certainly you would do, if you were in the way of healing and recovery. These and many other sad symptoms do too plainly discover the disease of sin to be in its full strength up­on your souls; and if it so continue, how dreadful will the issue be? See Isai. 6. 9, 10.

Inference 5.

What cause have they to be glad, that are under the hand and Inference 5▪ care of Christ in order to a cure; and who do find, or may upon due examination find, their souls are in a very hopeful way of [Page 228] recovery! Can we rejoyce when the strength of a natural disease is broken, and nature begins to recover ease, and vi­gour again, and shall we not much more rejoyce when our souls begin to mend, and recover sensibly, and all comfor­table signs of life and health appear upon them? particu­larly when the understanding which was ignorant and dark, hath the light of life beginning to dawn into it, such is that in 1 John 2. 27. When the will which was rebellious and in­flexible to the will of God, is brought to comply with that holy will, saying, Lord what wilt thou have me to do? Acts 9. 6. When the heart which was harder than an Ada­mant, is now brought to contrition for sin, and can mourn as heartily over it, as ever a tender Father did for a dead Son, a beloved and only Son. When its aversations from God are gone, at least have no such power as once they had: but the thoughts are now fixed much upon God, and spiritual things begin to grow pleasant to the soul: when times of duty come to be longed for, and the soul never bet­ter pleased than in such seasons. When the Hypocrisie of the heart is purged out, so that we begin to do all that we do heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men, Coll. 3. 23. 1 Thess. 2. 4. when we begin to make Conscience of secret sins, Psal. 119. 113. and of secret duties, Mat. 6. 5, 6. when we have an equal respect to all Gods Commandments, Psal. 119. 6. and our hearts are under the holy and awful Eye of God, which doth indeed over-awe our souls, Gen. 17. 1. O what sweet signs of a recovering soul are these! Surely such are in the skilful hand of the great Physician, who will perfect what yet remains to be done.

Second Use for Direction.

In the last place, this point yields us matter of advice and direction to poor souls that are under the disease of sin, Use 2. and they are of two sorts, which I will distinctly speak to, viz. First, Such as are under their first sickness, or spiritual sorrow for sin, and know not what course to take: or, Se­condly, such as have been longer in the hands of Christ the Physician, but are troubled to see the cure advance so slowly upon them, and fear the issue.

[Page 229] First, As to those that are in their first troubles for sin, 1. and know not what course to take for ease and safety; I would address to them these following Counsels.

First, Shut your Ears against the dangerous counsels of carnal persons or relations; for as they themselves are un­acquainted with these troubles: so also are they with all proper memedies; and it is very usual with the Devil to convey his temptations to distressed souls by such hands; because by them he can do it with least suspicion. It was Augustins complaint, that his own Father took little care for his soul; and many Parents act in this case, as if they were imployed by Satan.

Secondly, Be not too eager to get out of trouble, but be content to take Gods way, and wait his time: no wo­man that is wise, would desire to have her travail hastned one day before the due time: nor will it be your interest to hasten too soon out of trouble. 'Tis true, times of trouble are apt to seem tedious; but a false peace will en­danger you more than a long trouble: a man may lengthen his own troubles to the loss of his own peace, and he may shorten them to the hazard of his own soul.

Thirdly, Open your case to wise, judicious and experien­ced Christians, and especially the Ministers of Christ, whose office it is to counsel and direct you in these difficulties; and let not your troubles lye like a secret smothering fire, always in your own breasts. I know men are more ashamed to open their sins under convictions, than they were to com­mit them before conviction: but this is your interest, and the true way to your rest and peace. If there be with, or near you an Interpreter, one of a thousand, to shew you your righteousness, and remedy, as it lies in Christ; neg­lect not your own souls in a sinful concealment of your case: it will be the joy of their hearts to be imployed in such work as this is.

Fourthly, Be much with God in secret: open your hearts to him, and pour out your complaints into his Bosome. The 102. Psalm bears a title very suitable to your case and duty: yea, you will find if your troubles work kindly, and God intend a cure upon your souls, that nothing will be [Page 230] able to keep God and your souls asunder: whatever your incumbrances in the world be, some time will be daily re­deemed to be so spent betwixt you and God.

Fifthly, Plead hard with God in prayer for help and healing: Heal my soul (saith David) for I have sinned against thee, Psal. 41. 4. tell him, Christ hath his Commission sealed for such as you are: he was sent to bind up the broken heart­ed, Isai. 61. 1. tell him he came into the world to seek and save that which was lost, and so are you now in your own account and apprehension. Lord, what profit is there in my bood? Wilt thou pursue a dried leaf? And why is my heart wounded with the sense of sin, and mine eyes open­ed to see my danger and misery, are not these the first dawnings of mercy upon sinners? O let it appear, that the time of mercy, even the set time is now come.

Sixthly, Understand your peace to be in Christ only, and faith to be the only way to Christ and rest: let the great enquiry of your souls be after Christ and faith, stu­dy the nature and necessity of these, and cry to God day and night for strength to carry you to Christ in the way of faith.

Secondly, As to those that have been longer under the hands of Christ, and yet are in troubles still, and cannot 2. attain peace, but their wounds bleed still, and all they hear in Sermons, or do in way of duty, will not bring them to rest: to such I only add two or three words for a close.

First, Consider whether you ever rightly closed with Christ since your first awakening, and whether there be not some way of sin in which you still live: if so, no wonder your wounds are kept open, and your souls are strangers to peace.

Secondly, If you be conscious of no such flaw in the foundation, consider how much of this trouble may arise from your constitution and natural temper, which being melancholy, will be doubtful and suspicious: you may find it so in other cases of less moment, and be sure Satan will not be wanting to improve it.

Thirdly, Acquaint your selves more with the nature of true justifying faith; a mistake in that hath prolonged the [Page 231] troubles of many: if you look for it in no other act but assurance, you may easily overlook it, as it lies in the mean time in your affiance or acceptance. A true and proper conception of saving faith would go far in the cure of ma­ny troubled souls.

Fourthly, Be more careful to shun sin, than to get your selves clear of trouble. 'Tis sad to walk in darkness, but worse to lye under guilt. Say, Lord, I would rather be grieved my self, than be a grief to thy Spirit. O keep me from sin, how long soever thou keep me under sor­row. Wait on God in the way of faith, and in a tender spirit towards sin, and thy wounds shall be healed at last by thy great Physician.

Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ.

The Eleventh SERMON. Sermon 11.

LUKE 1. 72. Text. Containing the second motive to enforce the general ex­hortation, from a se­cond Title of Christ.‘To perform the mercy promised to our Fathers, and to remember his holy Covenant.’

THis Scripture is part of Zechariahs Prophecy at the rising of that bright Star, John, the Harbin­ger and forerunner of Christ: they are some of the first words he spake after God had loosed his tongue, which for a time was struck dumb for his un­belief. His tongue is now unbound, and at liberty to pro­claim to all the world the riches of mercy through Jesus Christ, in a song of praise. Wherein note,

The Mercy celebrated, viz. Redemption by Christ, vers. 68.

The description of Christ by place and property, vers. 69.

The faithfulness of God in our Redemption this way, vers. 70.

The benefit of being so Redeemed by Christ, vers. 71.

The exact accomplishment of all the promises made to the Fathers, in sending Christ, the mercy promised, into [Page 233] the world, vers. 72. To perform the mercy promised to our Fa­thers, &c. In these words we find two parts,

viz.
  • 1. A mercy freely promised.
  • 2. The promised mercy faithfully performed.

First, You have here a mercy freely promised, viz. by God the Father from the beginning of the world, and often re­peated 1. and confirmed in several succeeding ages to the Fa­thers, in his Covenant transactions.

This Mercy is Jesus Christ, of whom he speaks in this Prophecie: the same which he stiles an horn of salvation in the house of David, vers. 69.

The mercy of God in Scripture is put either for,

  • 1. His free favour to the Creature, or,
  • 2. The effects and fruits of that favour.

'Tis put for the free and undeserved favour of God to the creature, and this favour of God may respect the creature two wayes, either as undeserving, or as ill deser­ving.

It respected innocent man as undeserving, for Adam could put no obligation upon his Benefactor: it respecteth fallen man as ill deserving. Innocent man could not merit favour, and fallen man did merit wrath: the favour or mercy of God to both is every way free; and that is the first ac­ceptation of the word mercy: but then it is also taken for the effects and fruits of Gods favour; and they are,

Either,
  • 1. Principal and primary, or,
  • 2. Subordinate and Secundary.

Of Secundary and Subordinate Mercies, there are multi­tudes, both Temporal, respecting the body, and Spiritual, re­specting the soul: but the Principal and Primary Mercy is but one, and that is Christ, the first-born of mercy; the ca­pital mercy; the comprehensive-root-mercy, from whom [Page 234] are all other mercies; and therefore called by a singular em­phasis in my Text The Mercy, (i. e.) the mercy of all mercies; without whom no drop of saving mercy can flow to any of the sons of men; and in whom are all the tender bowels of Divine mercy yearning upon poor sin­ners. The Mercy, and the mercy promised. The first promise of Christ was made to Adam, Gen. 3. 15. and was frequent­ly renewed afterwards to Abraham, to David; and as the Text speaks, unto the Fathers, in their respective genera­tions.

Secondly, We find here also, the promised mercy faithful­ly performed. To perform the mercy promised. What mercy 2. soever the love of God engageth him to promise, the faith­fulness of God stands engaged for the performance thereof. Christ the promised mercy, is not only performed truly, but he is also performed according to the promise in all the circumstances thereof exactly. So he was promised to the Fathers, and just so performed to us their Children: hence the Note is:

DOCT.

That Jesus Christ the Mercy of mercies, was graciously pro­mised, and faithfully performed by God to his people. Doct.

Three things are here to be opened.

First, Why Christ is stiled the Mercy.

Secondly, What kind of Mercy Christ is to his people.

Thirdly, How this promised Mercy was performed.

First, Christ is the mercy, emphatically so called, the peer­less, invaluable, and matchless mercy; because he is the 1. prime fruit of the mercy of God to Sinners. The mercies of God are infinite: mercy gave the world and us our be­ings: all our protections, provisions and comforts in this world are the fruits of mercy: the after-births of Divine Favour: but Christ is the first-born from the womb of mercy: all other mercies compared with him, are but fruits from that root, and streams from that fountain of mercy: the very bowels of Divine mercy are in Christ, as in vers. 78. according to the tender mercies, or as the Greek, the yearn­ing bowels of the mercy of God.

[Page 235] Secondly, Christ is the mercy, because all the mercy of 2. God to sinners is dispensed and conveyed through Christ to them, Joh. 1. 16. Col. 2. 3. Eph. 4. 7. Christ is the medium of all Divine communications: the Channel of Grace; through him is both the decursus & recursus gratiarum; the flows of mercy from God to us, and the returns of praise from us to God: fond and vain therefore are all the expectations of mercy out of Christ: no drop of saving mercy runs beside this Channel.

Thirdly, Christ is the mercy, because all inferiour mercies derive both their nature, value, sweetness and duration from 3. Christ, the fountain mercy of all other mercies.

First, they derive their nature from Christ: for out of him those things which men call mercies, are rather traps and snares, than mercies to them, Prov. 1. 32. The time will come when the rich that are Christless will wish, O that we had been poor! and Nobles that are not ennobled by the new birth, O that we had been among the lower rank of men! All these things that pass for valuable mercies, like Ciphers signifie much when such a speaking Figure as Christ stands before them, else they signifie nothing to any mans comfort or benefit.

Secondly, They derive their value as well as nature from Christ: for how little, I pray you, doth it signifie to any man to be rich, honourable, politick, and successfull in all his designs in the world; if after all, he must lye down in Hell?

Thirdly, All other mercies derive their sweetness from Christ, and are but insipid things without him. There is a twofold sweetness in things; one natural, another spiritual: those that are out of Christ can relish the first, Believers only relish both: they have the natural sweetness that is in the mercy it self, and a sweetness supernatural from Christ and the Covenant, the way in which they receive them. Hence it is that some men taste more spiritual sweetness in their daily bread, than others do in the Lords Supper: one and the same mercy by this means becomes a feast to soul and body at once.

Fourthly, All mercies have their duration and perpetuity from Christ: all Christless persons hold their mercies upon [Page 236] the greatest contingencies and terms of uncertainty: if they be continued during this life, that's all: there is not a drop of mercy after death; but the mercies of the Saints are continued to eternity: the end of their mercies on earth, is the beginning of their better mercies in Heaven. There is a twofold end of mercies, one perfective, another destructive: the death of the Saints perfects and compleats their mercies; the death of the wicked destroys and cuts off their mercies: for these reasons Christ is called the mercy.

Secondly, In the next place let us enquire what manner of mercy Christ is; and we shall find many lovely, and tran­scendent, 2. properties to commend him to our souls.

First, He is a free and undeserved mercy, called upon that account the gift of God, John 4. 10. And to shew how free this gift was, God gave him to us when we were ene­mies, Rom. 5. 8. needs must that mercy be free, which is given not only to the undeserving, but to the ill deserving: the benevolence of God was the sole impulsive cause of this gift, John 3. 16.

Secondly, Christ is a full mercy replenished with all that answers to the wishes or wants of sinners: in him alone is found whatever the justice of an angry God requires for satisfaction, or the necessities of souls require for their sup­ply. Christ is full of mercy, both extensively and intensively; in him are all kinds and sorts of mercies, and in him are the highest and most perfect degrees of mercy; for it pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell, Col. 1. 19.

Thirdly, Christ is the seasonable mercy, given by the Fa­ther to us in due time, Rom. 5. 6. in the fulness of time, Gal. 4. 4. a seasonable mercy in his exhibition to the world in general, and a seasonable mercy in his application to the soul in particular: the wisdom of God pitched upon the best time for his incarnation, and it hits the very nick of time, for his application. When a poor soul is distressed, lost, at its wits end, ready to perish; then comes Christ: all Gods works are done in season, but none more seasonable than this great work of Salvation by Christ.

Fourthly, Christ is the necessary mercy: there is an abso­lute necessity of Jesus Christ: hence in Scripture he is called the bread of life, Joh. 6. 48. he is bread to the hungry: he is [Page 237] the water of life, Joh. 7. 37. as cold water to the thirsty soul: he is a ransome for captives, Mat. 20. 28. a garment to the naked, Rom. 13. ult. only bread is not so necessary to the hungry, nor water to the thirsty, nor a ransom to the Cap­tive, nor a garment to the naked; as Christ is to the soul of a sinner, the breath of our nostrills, the life of our souls is in Jesus Christ.

Fifthly, Christ is a fountain mercy, and all other mercies flow from him: a believer may say of Christ, all my fresh springs are in thee: from his merit, and from his Spirit flow our Redemption, Justification, Sanctification, Peace, Joy in the Holy Ghost, and blessedness in the world to come: In that day shall there be a fountain opened, Zech. 13. 1.

Sixthly, Christ is a satisfying mercy; he that is full of Christ can feel the want of nothing. I desire to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified, 1 Cor. 2. 2. Christ bounds and terminates the vast desires of the soul; he is the very Sabbath of the soul: how hungry, empty, straitned, and pinched in upon every side, is the soul of man in the abun­dance and fulness of all outward things, till it come to Christ? The weary motions of a restless soul, like those of a River, cannot be at rest till they pour themselves into Christ, the Ocean of blessedness.

Seventhly, Christ is a peculiar mercy intended for, and ap­plied to a remnant among men: some would extend re­demption as large as the world, but the Gospel limits it to those only that believe: and these Believers are upon that account called a peculiar people, 1 Pet. 2. 9. The offers of Christ indeed are large, and general; but the application of Christ is but to few, Isai. 53. 1. the greater cause have they to whom Christ comes, to lye with their mouths in the dust, astonished and overwhelmed with the sense of so peculiar and distinguishiug mercy.

Eighthly, Jesus Christ is a suitable mercy, fitted in all re­spects to our needs and wants, 1 Cor. 1. 20. wherein the ad­mirable wisdom of God is illustriously displaied: ye are complete in him (saith the Apostle) Col. 2. 20. Are we ene­mies? He is reconciliation: are we sold to sin and Satan? He is redemption: are we condemned by Law? He is the Lord our righteousness: hath sin polluted us? He is a foun­tain [Page 238] opened for sin and for uncleaness: are we lost by depart­ing from God? He is the way to the Father. Rest is not so suitable to the weary, nor bread to the hungry, as Christ is to the sensible sinner.

Ninthly, Christ is an astonishing and wonderful mercy: his name is called Wonderful, Isai. 9. 6. and as his name is, so is he; a wonderful Christ: his person is a wonder, 1 Tim. 3. 16. Great is the mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh: his abasement wonderful, Phil. 2. 6. his love is a wonderful love: his redemption full of wonders: Angels desire to look into it: he is and will be admired by Angels and Saints to all eternity.

Tenthly, Jesus Christ is an incomparable and matchless mer­cy; as the Apple-tree among the Trees of the Wood, so is my Be­loved among the Sons (saith the enamoured Spouse) Cant. 2. 3. Draw the comparison how you will betwixt Christ and all other enjoyments, you will find none in Heaven or earth to match him: he is more than all externals, as the light of the Sun is more than that of a Candle: nay the worst of Christ is better than the best of the world: his reproaches are bet­ter than the worlds pleasures, Heb. 11. 25. he is more than all Spirituals, as the Fountain is more than the Streams: he is more than justification, as the cause is more than the effect: more than sanctification, as the person himself is more than his image or picture: he is more than all peace, all comfort, all joys, as the Tree is more than the Fruit. Nay draw the comparison betwixt Christ and things eternal, and you will find him better than they: for what is Heaven without Christ? Psal. 73. 25. Whom have I in Heaven but thee? If Christ should say to the Saints, Take Heaven among you, but as for me, I will withdraw my self from you: the Saints would fall a weeping, even in Heaven it self, and say, Lord, Heaven will be no more Heaven to us, except thou be there; thou art the better half of Heaven.

Eleventhly, Christ is an unsearchable mercy: who can spell his wonderful name, Prov. 30. 4. who can tell over his un­searchable riches, Eph. 3. 8. Hence it is that souls never tire in the study or love of Christ, because new wonders are eternal­ly rising out of him: he is a deep which no line of any crea­ted understanding, angelical or humane can fathom.

[Page 239] Twelfthly, and Lastly, Christ is an everlasting mercy; the same yesterday, to day, and for ever, Heb. 13. 8. All other enjoyments are perishable, time eaten things: time like a Moth will fret them out: but the riches of Christ are dura­ble riches, Prov. 8. 18. the graces of Christ are durable graces, Joh. 4. 14. all the creatures are flowers that appear and fade in their month: but this Rose of Sharon, this Lilly of the Valley, never withers. Thus you see the mercy per­formed, with his desirable properties.

Thirdly, The last thing to be opened is the manner of 3. Gods performing this mercy to his people: which the Lord did,

  • 1. Really and truly, as he had promised him.
  • 2. Exactly agreeable to the promises and predictions of him.

First, Really and truly; as he had promised, so he made good the promise, Act. 2. 36. Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye crucifi­ed, both Lord and Christ.

The manifestation of Christ in the flesh was no phantasm or delusion, but a most evident and palpable truth, 1 Joh. 1. 1. That which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled. A truth so certain, that the assertors of it appealed to the very enemies of Christ for the certainty thereof, Act. 2. 22. yea, not only the sacred but prophane writers witness to it: not only the Evangelists and Apostles, but even the Heathen writers of those times, both Roman and Jewish, as Suetonius, Tacitus, Plinius the younger, and Josephus the Jewish Anti­quary do all acknowledge it.

Secondly, As God did really and truly perform Christ the promised mercy, so he performed this promised mercy exactly agreeable to the promises, types, and predictions made of him to the Fathers, even to the most minute circum­stances thereof. This is a great truth for our faith to be esta­blished in: let us therefore cast our eyes both upon the pro­mises and performances of God, with respect to Christ the mercy of mercies. See how he was represented to the Fa­thers [Page 240] long before his manifestation in the flesh: and what an one he appeared to be when he was really exhibited in the flesh.

First, As to his person and qualifications, as it was foretold, so it was fulfilled. His original was said to be unsearchable and eternal, Mica. 5. 2. and so he affirmed himself to be, Rev. 1. 11. I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: Joh. 6. 31, 32. Before Abraham was, I am: his two natures united in one person was plainly foretold, Zech. 13. 7. the man my fellow; and such a one God performed, Rom. 9. 5. His immaculate puri­ty and holiness was foretold, Dan. 9. 24. to anoint the most Holy; some render it the great Saint: the Prince of Saints, and such an one he was indeed, when he lived in this world: Joh. 8. 46. Which of you convinceth me of sin? His Offices were foretold, the prophetical Office predicted, Deut. 18. 15. and fulfilled in him, Joh. 1. 18. his Priestly Office foretold, Psal. 110. 4. fulfilled, Heb. 9. 14. his Kingly Office foretold, Mica. 5. 2. and in him fulfilled, his very enemies being Judges, Mat. 27. 37.

Secondly, As to his birth, the time, place, and manner thereof was foretold to the Fathers, and exactly perform­ed to a tittle.

First, The time prefixed more generally in Jacobs Phophe­cie, Gen. 44. 10. when the Scepter should depart from Ju­dah, as indeed it did in Herod the Idumean: more particular­ly in Daniel seventy weeks from the decree of Darius, Dan. 9. 24. answering exactly to the time of his birth: so cogent and full a proof, that Porphyry, the great enemy of Christi­ans had no other evasion, but that this Prophecie was devi­sed after the event; which yet the Jews (as bitter enemies to Christ as himself) will by no means allow to be true: and Lastly, The time of his birth was exactly pointed at in Haggai's Prophecie, Hag. 2. 7, 9. compared with Mal. 3. 1. he must come whilst the second Temple stood: at that time was a general expectation of him, Joh. 1. 19. and at that ve­ry time he came, Luke 2. 38.

Secondly, The place of his birth was foretold to be Bethlehem Ephrata, Mica. 5. 2. and so it was, Mat. 2. 5, 6. to be brought up in Nazareth, Zech. 6. 12. Behold the man whose name is the branch, the word is Netzer, whence is the [Page 241] word Nazarite: and there indeed was our Lord brought up, Mat. 2. 23.

Thirdly, His Parent was to be a Virgin, Isai. 7. 14. pun­ctually fufilled, Mat. 1. 20, 21, 22, 23.

Fourthly, His Stock or Tribe was foretold to be Judah, Gen. 49. 10. and it is evident (saith the Apostle) that our Lord sprang out of Judah, Heb. 7. 14.

Fifthly, His Harbinger or forerunner was foretold, Mal. 4. 5, 6. fulfilled in John the Baptist, Luk. 1. 16, 17.

Sixthly, The obscurity and meanness of his birth was pre­dicted, Isai. 53. 2. Zech. 9. 9. to which the event answered, Luk. 2. 12.

Thirdly, His Doctrine and Miracles were foretold, Isai. 61. 1, 2. and Isai. 35. 4, 5. the accomplishment whereof in Christ is evident in the History of all the Evangelists.

Fourthly, His death for us was foretold by the Prophets, Dan. 9. 26. The Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself: Isai. 53. 5. He was wounded for our transgression: and so he was, Joh. 11. 50. The very kind and manner of his death was prefigured in the brazen Serpent, his Type, and answe­red in his death upon the Cross, Joh. 3. 14.

Fifthly, His burial in the Tomb of a rich man was fore­told, Isai. 53. 9. and accomplished most exactly, Mat. 27. 59, 60.

Sixthly, His resurrection from the dead was Typed out in Jona, and fulfilled in Christs abode three days and nights in the Grave, Mat. 12. 39.

Seventhly, The wonderful spreading of the Gospel in the world, even to the Isles of the Gentiles, was fore-prophesied, Isai. 49. 6. To the truth whereof we are not only the witnes­ses, but the happy instances, and examples of it. Thus the promised mercy was performed.

Inference 1.

If Christ be the mercy of mercies; the medium of conveying all other mercies from God to men: Then in vain do men expect Inference 1. and hope for the mercy of God out of Jesus Christ.

I know many poor sinners comfort themselves with this, when they come upon a bed of sickness, I am sinful, but [Page 242] God is merciful: and it is very true, God is merciful; plenteous in mercy; his mercy is great above the heavens; mercy pleaseth him: and all this they that are in Christ shall find experimentally to their comfort and salvation: but what is all this to thee, if thou beest Christless? There is not one drop of saving mercy that comes in any other Chanel than Christ to the soul of any man.

But must I then expect no mercy out of Christ? This is a hard case, very uncomfortable doctrine. Yes, thou maist be a Christless and Covenantless soul, and yet have variety of temporal mercies as Ishmael had, Gen. 17. 20, 21. God may give thee the fatness of the Earth, Riches, Honours, Pleasures, a numerous and prosperous Posterity; will that content thee? Yes, if I may have Heaven too: no, no, nei­ther Heaven nor Pardon, nor any other Spiritual or Eter­nal mercy may be expected out of Christ, Jude vers. 21. O deceive not your selves in this point. There are two bars be­twixt you and all Spiritual mercies, viz. the guilt of sin, and the filth of sin: and nothing but your own union with Christ can remove these, and so open the passage for Spiritual mer­cies to your souls.

Why, but I will repent of sin, strive to obey the Com­mands of God, make restitutions for the wrongs I have done, cry to God for mercy, bind my soul with vows and strong resolutions against sin for time to come: will not all this lay a ground work for hope of mercy to my soul? No, no, this will not, this cannot do it.

First, All your sorrows, tears and mournings for sin can­not obtain mercy: could you shed as many tears for any one sin that ever you committed, as all the children of Adam have shed upon any account whatsoever since the creation of the World; they will not purchase the pardon of that one sin: for the Law accepts no short payment, it requires plenary satisfaction, and will not discharge any soul without it: nor can it acknowledge or own your sorrows to be such: the re­pentance of a soul in Christ finds through him acceptance with God, but out of him it's nothing.

Secondly, All your strivings to obey the Commands of God, and live more strictly for time to come, will not ob­tain mercy, Mat. 5. 20. Except your righteousness shall exceed [Page 243] the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Thirdly, Your restitution and reparation of wrongs you have done cannot obtain mercy: Judas restored, and yet was damned: man is repaired, but God is not: remission is the act of God; 'tis he must loose your Consciences from the bond of guilt, or they can never be loosed.

Fourthly, All your cryes to God for mercy will not prevail for mercy, if you be out of Christ, Mat. 7. 22. Job 27. 9. A righteous Judge will not reverse the just sentence of the Law, though the Prisoner at the Bar fall upon his knees, and cry, mercy, mercy.

Fifthly, Your vows and engagements to God for time to come cannot obtain mercy: for they being made in your own strength, 'tis impossible you should keep them; and if you could, yet it is impossible they should obtain remission and mercy: should you never sin more for time to come, yet how shall God be satisfied for sins past? Justice must have sa­tisfaction, or you can never have remission, Rom. 3. 25, 26. and no work wrought by man can satisfie Divine Justice, nor is the satisfaction of Christ made over to any for their dis­charge, but to such only as are in him: therefore never ex­pect mercy out of Christ.

Inference 2.

Is Christ the mercy of mercies, greater, better and more neces­sary Inference 2. than all other mercies, then let no inferiour mercy satisfie you for your portion.

God hath mercies of all sorts to give; but Christ is the chief, the prime mercy of all mercies: O be not satisfied without that mercy. When Luther had a rich present sent him, Valde protesta­tus sum, me nolle sie ab eo satiari, Luth. he protested God should not put him off so: and David was of the same mind, Psal. 17. 14. If the Lord should give any of you the desires of your hearts in the good things of this life, let not that satisfie you whilst you are Christless. For,

First, What is there in these earthly enjoyments, whereof the vilest of men have not a greater fulness than you? Job 21. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. Psal. 17. 10. Psal. 73. 3, 12.

[Page 244] Secondly, What comfort can all these things give to a soul already condemned as thou art? Joh. 3. 18.

Thirdly, What sweetness can be in them, whilst they are all unsanctified things to you? Enjoyments and their sanctifi­cation are two distinct things, Psal. 37. 16. Prov. 10. 22. Thousands of unsanctified enjoyments will not yield your souls one drop of solid spiritual comfort.

Fourthly, What pleasure can you take in these things out of which death must shortly strip you naked? You must die, you must dye; and whose then shall all those things be for which you have laboured? Be not so fond to think of Tunc edax flamma comb [...] ­ret, quos nunc carnalis dele­ctatio polluit. leaving a great name behind you: 'tis but a poor felicity (as Chrysostom well observes) to be tormented where thou art, and praised where thou art not: the sweeter your por­tion hath been on earth, the more intolerable will your condition be in Hell: yea, these earthly delights do not only encrease the torments of the damned, but also pre­pare (as they are instruments of sin) the souls of men for damnation, Prov. 1. 32. Surely the prosperity of fools shall de­stroy them: be restless therefore, till Christ the mercy of mercies be the root and fountain, yielding and sanctifying all other mercies to you.

Inference 3.

Is Jesus Christ the mercy of mercies, infinitely better than all other mercies; then let all that be in Christ be content and well Inference 3. satisfied, whatever other inferiour mercies the wisdom of God seems fit to deny them: you have a Benjamins portion, a plen­tiful inheritance in Christ, will you yet grumble? Others, have Houses splendid and magnificent upon earth; but you have an house made without hands, eternal in the Heavens, 2 Cor. 5. 1. Others are cloathed with rich and costly appa­rel, your souls are cloathed with the white pure robes of Christs righteousness, Isai. 61. 10. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyfull in my God; for he hath cloathed me with the garment of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a Bridegroom decketh himself with orna­ments, and as a Bride adorneth her self with Jewels. Let those that have full Tables, heavy Purses, rich Lands, but no [Page 245] Christ; be rather objects of your pity than envy: 'tis bet­ter like store-cattle to be kept lean and hungry, than with the fatted Ox to tumble in flowry Meadows, thence to be led away to the shambles. God hath not a better mercy to give than Christ thy portion, in him all necessary mercies are secured to thee, and thy wants and straits sanctified to thy good. O therefore never open thy mouth to complain against thy bountiful God.

Inference 4.

Is Christ the mercy (i. e:) he in whom all the tender mer­cies Inference 4. of God towards poor sinners are, then let none be discoura­ged in going to Christ by reason of the sin and unworthiness that is in them: his very name is mercy, and as his name is so is he. Poor drooping sinner, incourage thy self in the way of faith, the Christ to whom thou art going is mercy it self to broken-hearted sinners moving towards him in the way of faith: Doubt not that mercy will repulse thee, 'tis against both its name and nature so to do. Jesus Christ is so mer­ciful to poor souls that come to him, that he hath received and pardoned the chiefest of sinners; men that stood as re­mote from mercy as any in the world, 1 Tim. 1. 15. 1 Cor. 6. 11. Those that shed the blood of Christ, have yet been washed in that blood from their sin, Act. 2. 36, 37. Mercy receives sinners without exception of great and heinous ones, Joh. 7. 37. If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. Gospel invitations run in general terms to all sinners that are heavy laden, Mat. 11. 28. When Mr. Billney the Martyr heard a Minister preaching at this rate, O thou old Sinner who hast been serving the Devil these fifty or sixty years; dost thou think that Christ will receive thee now? O said he, what a preaching of Christ is here? Had Christ been thus preached to me in the day of my trouble for sin, what had become of me! But blessed be God there is a suffi­ciency both of merit and mercy in Jesus Christ for all sinners, for the vilest among sinners, whose hearts shall be made wil­ling to come unto him. So merciful is the Lord Jesus Christ that he moves first, Isai. 65. 1, 2. So merciful that he upbraids none, Ezec. 18. 22. So merciful that he will not despise the [Page 246] weakest if sincere desires of souls, Isai. 42. 3. So merciful, that nothing more grieves him, than our unwillingness to come unto him for mercy, Joh. 5. 40. So merciful that he waiteth to the last upon sinners to shew them mercy, Rom. 10. 21. Mat. 23. 37. In a word, so merciful, that it is his greatest joy when sinners come unto him that he may shew them mercy, Luk. 15. 5. 22.

But yet it cannot enter into my thoughts that I should ob­tain Object. mercy.

First, You measure God by your selves, 1 Sam. 24. 19. If Sol. a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? Man will not, but the merciful God will upon the submission of his enemies to him.

Secondly, You are discouraged because you have not try­ed. Go to Jesus Christ, poor distressed sinner, try him; and then report what a Christ thou findest him to be.

But I have neglected the time of mercy, and now it is too late. Object.

How know you that? Have you seen the Book of Life, or turned over the Records of Eternity? Or do you not unwar­rantably Sol. intrude into the secrets of God which belong not to you? Besides, if the treaty were at an end, how is it that thy heart is now distressed for sin, and solicitous after deliverance from it?

But I have waited long, and yet see no mercy for me.

May not mercy be coming, and you not see it? or have you Object. not waited at the wrong dore? If you wait for the mercy of Sol. God, through Christ, in the way of humiliation and faith, and continue waiting; assuredly mercy shall come at last.

Inference 5.

Hath God performed the mercy promised to the Fathers, the great mercy, the capital mercy Jesus Christ, then let no Inference 5. man distrust God for the performance of lesser mercies, contained in any other promises of the Scripture: the performance of this mercy secures the performance of all other mercies to us. For,

First, Christ is a greater mercy than any other which yet remains to be performed, Rom. 8. 32.

[Page 247] Secondly, This mercy virtually comprehends all other mercies, 1 Cor. 3. 21, 22, 23.

Thirdly, The promises that contain all other mercies are ratified and confirmed to Believers in Christ, 2 Cor. 1. 20.

Fourthly, It was much more improbable that God would bestow his own Son upon the world, than that he should be­stow any other mercy upon it. Wait therefore in a comfor­table expectation of the fulfilling of all the rest of the promi­ses in their seasons: hath he given thee Christ, he will give thee bread to eat, rayment to put on, support in troubles, and whatsoever else thy soul or body stands in need of: the blessings contained in all other promises are fully secured by the performance of this great promise: thy pardon, peace, acceptance with God now, and enjoyment of him for ever, shall be fulfilled: the great mercy Christ, makes way for all other mercies to the souls of Believers.

Inference 6.

Lastly, How mad are they that part with Christ, the best of Inference 6. mercies, to secure and preserve any temporal, lesser mercies to themselves! Thus Demas and Judas gave up Christ to gain a little of the world: O soul-undoing bargain! How dear do they pay for the world, that purchase it with the loss of Christ, and their own peace for ever!

Blessed be God for Jesus Christ the mercy of mercies.

The Twelfth SERMON. Sermon 12.

CANT. 5. part of verse 16. Text. Containing a third mo­tive to en­liven the general ex­hortation, from a third title of Christ.‘—yea, he is altogether lovely.’

AT the ninth verse of this Chapter you have a que­ry propounded to the Spouse, by the Daughters of Jerusalem, What is thy Beloved more than another Beloved? To this question the Spouse returns her answer in the following verses, wherein she asserts his ex­cellency in general, vers. 10. He is the chiefest among ten thou­sands: confirms that general assertion by an enumeration of his particular excellencies to vers. 16. where she closes up her Character and Encomium of her Beloved, with an elegant Epiphonema, in the words that I have read, Yea, he is altoge­ther lovely.

The words, you see, are an affirmative proposition, setting forth the transcendent loveliness of the Lord Jesus Christ, and naturally resolve themselves into three parts, viz.

  • 1. The Subject.
  • 2. The Predicate.
  • 3. The manner of Predication.

[Page 249] First, The subject, He, viz. the Lord Jesus Christ, after 1. whom she had been seeking: for whom she was sick of love: concerning whom these Daughters of Jerusalem had enqui­red: whom she had endeavoured so graphically to describe in his particular excellencies. This is the great and excel­lent Subject of whom she here speaks.

Secondly, The predicate, or what she affirmeth or saith of 2. him, viz. that he is a lovely one, machamaddim, desires, ac­cording to the import of the original which signifies earnestly Significat ap­petere, expetere quod jucun­dum, gratum, voluptuosum, utile & ama­bile est. Pagn. to desire, covet or long for that which is most pleasant, grateful, delectable and amiable; the original word is both in the abstract, and of the plural number, which speaks Christ to be the very essence of all delights and pleasures, the ve­ry soul and substance of them. As all the Rivers be gather­ed into the Ocean, which is the congregation or meeting­place of all the waters in the world: so Christ is that Ocean in which all true delights and pleasures meet.

Thirdly, The manner of predication, He is [altogether] 3. lovely, totus, totus desiderabilis, lovely in all and in every part, as if she had said, Look on him in what respect or particu­lar you will, cast your eye upon this lovely object and view him any way, turn him in your serious thoughts which way you will; consider his Person, his Offices, his Works, or any thing belonging to him, you shall find him altogether lovely: there is nothing ungrateful in him, there is nothing lovely without him.

Hence note,

DOCT.

That Jesus Christ is the loveliest person souls can set their eyes Doct. upon: Psal. 45. 2. Thou art fairer than the children of men. That is said of Jesus Christ, which cannot be said of any creature, that he is altogether lovely. In opening this love­ly point, I shall,

  • 1. Weigh the importance of this phrase, altogether lovely.
  • 2. Shew you in what respects Christ is so.

[Page 250] First, Let us weigh this excellent expression, and particu­larly 1. consider, what is involved in it, and you shall find this expression, Altogether lovely:

First, That it excludes all unloveliness, and distastefulness from Jesus Christ. So Vatablus, there is nothing in him which Nibil in to quod non est am [...]bile. is not amiable: the excellencies of Christ are perfectly ex­clusive of all their opposites: there is nothing of a contrary nature or quality found in him to allay or debase his excellen­cy: and in this respect Christ infinitely transcends the most excellent and loveliest creatures: for whatsoever loveliness is found in them it is not without a distasteful tang: the fairest Pictures must have their shadows: the most orient and transplendent Stones must have their foiles to set off their beauty: the best creature is but a bitter-sweet at best: if there be somewhat pleasing, there is also somewhat distasting: if there be gracious and natural excellencies in the same person to delight us, yet there is also some natural corruption in­termixed with it to distaste us: but it is not so in our alto­gether lovely Christ: his excellencies are pure and unmixed, he is a Sea of Sweetness, without one drop of Gall.

Secondly, Altogether lovely (i. e.) as there is nothing un­lovely found in him, so all that is in him is wholly lovely: as Quantus quan­tus est, sum­mis studi is & votis est expe­tendus, Bright­man. every raye of Gold is precious, so every thing that is in Christ is precious: who can weigh Christ in a pair of ballan­ces, and tell you what his worth is? His price is above Ru­bies, and all that thou canst desire is not to be compared with him, Prov. 8. 11.

Thirdly, Altogether lovely, (i. e.) he is comprehensive of all things that are lovely: he seals up the sum of all loveli­ness: quae faciunt divisa beatum, in hoc mixta fluunt; things that shine as single stars with a particular glory, all meet in Christ as a glorious constellation, Col. 1. 19. It pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell. Cast your eyes among all created beings, survey the Universe, observe strength in one, beauty in a second, faithfulness in a third, wisdom in a fourth; but you shall find none excelling in them all as Christ doth. Bread hath one quality, Water ano­ther, Rayment another, Physick another, but none hath all in it self as Christ hath: he is bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, a garment to the naked, healing to the wound­ed, [Page 251] and whatever a soul can desire is found in him, 1 Cor. 1. 30.

Fourthly, Altogether lovely, (i. e.) nothing is lovely in opposition to him, or in separation from him; if he be alto­gether lovely, then whatsoever is opposite to, or separate from him, can have no loveliness in it: take away Christ, and where is the loveliness of any enjoyment? The best crea­ture comfort out of Christ is but a broken Cistern, or a Vessel whose bottom is fallen out, it cannot hold one drop of true comfort, Psal. 73. 25. It is with the creature, the sweetest and loveliest creature, as with a beautiful image in the Glass; turn away the Face, and where is the Image? Riches, Honours, and comfortable Relations are sweet when the face of Christ smiles upon us through them, but without him what empty trifles are they all?

Fifthly, Altogether lovely, (i. e.) transcending all created excellencies in beauty and loveliness, so much it speaks: if you compare Christ and other things, be they never so love­ly, never so excellent and desireable; Christ carries away all loveliness from them, he is (saith the Apostle) before all things, Col. 1. 17. not only before all things in time, nature, and order; but before all things in dignity, glory and true excellency: in all things he must have the preeminence: for let us but compare Christs excellency with the creatures, in a few particulars, and how evidently will the transcendent loveliness of Jesus Christ appear! For,

First, All other loveliness is derivative and secondary, but the loveliness of Christ is original and primary. Angels and men, the world and all the desirables in it, receive what excellency they have from him, they are streams from the fountain: but as the waters in the fountain it self are more Dulcius ex ips [...] fonte bibuntur aquae. abundant, so more pure and pleasant than in the streams: and the farther any thing departs and is removed from its foun­tain and original, the less excellency there is in it.

Secondly, The loveliness and excellency of all other things is but relative and respective, consisting in its reference to Christ, and subserviency to his glory; but Christ is love­ly considered absolutely in himself: he is desireable for himself, other things are so for him.

[Page 252] Thirdly, The beauty and loveliness of all other things is fading and perishing, but the loveliness of Christ is fresh to all eternity: the sweetness of the best of creatures is a Fa­ding flower, if not before, yet certainly at death it must fade away, Job 4. 21. Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? Yes, yes, whether natural excellencies of the body, or acquired endowments of the mind, lovely features, ami­able qualities, attracting excellencies: all these like plea­sant flowers are withered, faded, and destroyed by death: but Christ is still the same, yesterday, to day and for ever, Heb. 13. 8.

Fourthly, The beauty and loveliness of creatures is ensna ring, and dangerous; a man may make an Idol of it, and dote beyond the bounds of moderation upon it: but there is no danger of excess in the love of Christ: the soul is then in the healthiest frame and temper, when it is most sick of love to Christ, Cant. 5. 8.

Fifthly, The loveliness of every creature is of a cloying and glutting nature: our estimation of it abates, and links by our nearer approach to it, or longer enjoyment of it: creatures like Pictures are fairest at a due distance; but it is not so with Christ, the nearer the soul approacheth him, and the longer it lives in the enjoyment of him, still the more sweet and desireable he is.

Sixthly, Lastly, All other loveliness is unsatisfying, and straitning to the soul of man: there is not room enough in any one, or in all the creatures for the soul of man to di­late and expatiate it self; but it still feels it self pinch't in, Aestuat infe­lix angusto [...] ­mite mundi. and narrowed within those strait limits: and this comes to pass from the inadequateness and unsuitableness of the creature to the nobler and more excellent soul of man: which like a Ship in a narrow River hath not room to turn, and besides is ever and anon striking ground, and foundring in those shallows: but Jesus Christ is every way adequate to the vast desires of the soul: in him it hath Sea-room enough: there it may spread all its fails, no fear of touching the bottom. And thus you see what is the importance of this phrase, al­together lovely.

Secondly, Next I promised to shew you in what respects Jesus Christ is altogether lovely. And, 2.

[Page 253] First, He is altogether lovely in his person; a deity dwelling in flesh, Joh. 1. 14. The wonderful union and perfection of the divine and humane nature in Christ renders him an ob­ject of admiration and adoration to Angels and men, 1 Tim. 3. 16. God never presented to the world such a vision of glo­ry before: and then considering how the humane nature of our Lord Jesus Christ is replenished with all the graces of the Spirit, so as never any of all the Saints was filled; O how lovely doth this render him! Joh. 3. 34. God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him: this makes him fairer than the children of men, grace being poured into his lips, Psal. 45. 2. If a small measure of grace in the Saints makes them such sweet and desireable companions, what must the riches and fulness of the Spirit of grace, filling Jesus Christ without measure, make him in the eyes of believers? O what a glory and a luster must it stamp upon him!

Secondly, He is altogether lovely in his Offices: for let us but consider the suitableness, fulness, and comfortableness of them.

First, The suitableness of the Offices of Christ to the mise­ries and wants of men, and we cannot but adore the infinite wisdom of God in his investiture with them: we are by na­ture blind and ignorant, at best but groping in the dim light of nature after God: Acts 17. 27. Jesus Christ is a light to lighten the Gentiles, Isai. 49. 6. When this great Prophet came into the world, then did the day-spring from on high visit us, Luk. 1. 78. The state of nature is a state of aliena­tion and enmity to God; Christ comes into the world an attoning sacrifice, making peace by the blood of his Cross, Col. 1. 20. All the world, by nature, are in bondage and cap­tivity to Satan, a lamentable thraldom: Christs comes with a kingly power to rescue sinners, as a prey, from the mouth of the terrible one.

Secondly, Let the fulness of his Offices be also considered, by reason whereof he is able to save to the uttermost, all that come to God by him, Heb. 7. 25. The three Offices comprising in them all that our souls do need become an universal relief to all our wants; and therefore,

Thirdly, Unspeakably comfortable must the Offices of Christ be to the souls of sinners: if light be pleasant to our [Page 254] eyes, how pleasant is that light of life springing from the Sun of righteousness! Mal. 4. 2. If a pardon be sweet to a condemned malefactor, how sweet must the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus be to the trembling Conscience of a law­condemned-sinner? If a rescue from a cruel Tyrant be sweet to a poor Captive; how sweet must it be to the ears of in­slaved sinners to hear the voice of liberty and deliverance proclaimed by Jesus Christ? Out of the several Offices of Christ, as out of so many fountains, all the promises of the new Covenant flow; as so many soul refreshing streams of peace and joy: all the promises of illumination, counsel and direction flow out of the Prophetical Office: all the pro­mises of reconciliation, peace, pardon, and acceptation flow out of the Priestly Office, with the sweet streams of Joy and Spiritual comfort depending thereupon: all the promi­ses of converting, increasing, defending, directing, and sup­plying grace, flow out of the Kingly Office of Christ: indeed all promises may be reduced to the three Offices: so that Jesus Christ must needs be altogether lovely in his Offices.

Thirdly, Jesus Christ is altogether lovely in his relations.

First, He is a lovely Redeemer, Isai. 61. 1. he came to open the Prison-dores to them that are bound. Needs must this Redeemer be a lovely one, if we consider the depth of misery from which he redeemed us, even from the wrath to come, 1 Thess. 1. 10. How lovely was Titus in the eyes of the poor enthralled Greeks, whom he delivered from their bondage! This endeared him to them unto that degree, that when their liberty was proclaimed, they even trode one another to death to see the Herauld that proclaimed it; and all the night following with instruments of mu­sick danced about his Tent, crying with united voyces A Saviour, a Saviour. Or whether we consider the numbers redeemed, and the means of their redemption, Rev. 5. 9. And they sang a new Song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the Book, and to open the Seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation. He redeemed us not with Silver and Gold, but with his own precious Blood by way of price, 1 Pet. 1. 18, 19. with his out-stretched and glori­ous arm, by way of power, Col. 1. 13. he redeemed us freely, [Page 255] Eph. 1. 7. fully, Rom. 8. 1. seasonably, Gal. 4. 4. and out of special and peculiar love, Joh. 17. 9. In a word, he hath redeemed us for ever, never more to come into bondage, 1 Pet. 1. 5. Joh. 10. 28. Oh how lovely is Jesus Christ in the relation of a Redeemer to Gods elect!

Secondly, He is a lovely Bridegroom to all that he espouses to himself: how doth the Church glory in him, in the words following my Text, This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend, O ye Daughters of Jerusalem; (q. d.) Heaven and earth cannot show such another: which needs no fuller proof than the following particulars.

First, That he espouseth to himself in mercy, and in loving kindness, such deformed, defiled, and altogether un­worthy souls as we are; who have no beauty, no excel­lency to make us desirable in his eyes: all the springs of his love to us are in his own breast, Deut. 7. 7. He choo­seth us not because we were, but that he might make us lovely, Ephes. 5. 27. He passed by us when we lay in our blood, and said unto us live, and that was the time of love, Ezec. 16. 5.

Secondly, He expects nothing with us, and yet bestows himself, and all he hath upon us: our poverty cannot en­rich him, but he made himself poor to enrich us, 2 Cor. 8, 9. 1 Cor. 3. 22.

Thirdly, No Husband loves the Wife of his bosome at the rate Christ loved his people, Eph. 5. 25. He loved the Church, and gave himself for it.

Fourthly, None bears with weaknesses, and provocations as Christ doth, the Church is stiled the Lambs Wife, Rev. 21. 9.

Fifthly, No Husband is so immortal and everlasting a Hus­band as Christ is. Death separates all other relations, but the souls union with Christ is not dissolved in the Grave: yea, the day of a Believers death is his marriage-day, the day of his fullest enjoyment of Christ: no Husband can say to his Wife what Christ saith to the Believer, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee, Heb. 13. 5.

Sixthly, No Bridegroom advanceth his Bride to such ho­nours by Marriage as Christ doth: he relates them to God as their Father; and from that day the mighty and glorious [Page 256] Angels think it no dishonour to be their servants, Heb. 1. 14. They are brought in admiring the beauty and glory of the Spouse of Christ, Rev. 21. 9.

Seventhly, and Lastly, No marriage was ever consum­mated with that triumphal solemnity, as the marriage of Christ and Believers shall be in Heaven, Psal. 45. 14, 15. She shall be brought to the King in rayment of needle work, the virgins, her companions, that follow her, shall be brought unto thee, with gladness and rejoycing shall they be brought, they shall enter into the Kings Palace. Among the Jews the marriage house was called Bethillula, the house of praise: there was joy upon all hands; but not like the joy that will be in Heaven, when Believers, the Spouse of Christ, shall be brought thi­ther; God the Father will rejoyce to behold the blessed ac­complishment and consummation of that glorious design and project of his love. Jesus Christ the Bridegroom will re­joyce to see the travail of his soul, the blessed birth and is­sue of all his bitter pangs and agonies, Isai. 53. 11. The ho­ly Spirit will rejoyce to see the complement and perfection of that sanctifying design which was committed to his hand, 2 Cor. 5. 5. To see those souls whom he once found as rough stones, now to shine as the bright polished stones of the Spiritual Temple. Angels will rejoyce; great was the joy when the foundation of this design was laid in the incarnati­on of Christ: Luk. 2. 13. Great therefore must their joy be when the top-stone is set up with shouting, crying, Grace, grace. The Saints themselves shall rejoyce unspeakably when they shall enter into the Kings Palace, and be for ever with the Lord, 1 Thess. 4. 17. Indeed there will be joy on all hands, except among the Devils, and damned; who shall gnash their teeth with envy at the everlasting advancement and glory of Believers. Thus Christ is altogether lovely, in the relation of a Bridegroom.

Thirdly, Christ is altogether lovely in the relation of an Advocate, 1 Joh. 2. 1. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propi­tiation; 'tis he that pleads the cause of Believers in Heaven: appears for them in the presence of God, to prevent all new breaches, and continue the state of friendship and peace be­twixt God and us. In this relation Christ is altogether lovely. For,

[Page 257] First, He makes our cause his own, and acts for us in Heaven as for himself, Heb. 4. 15. He is touched with the tender sense of our troubles and dangers, and is not only one with us by way of representation, but also one with us in re­spect of sympathy and affection.

Secondly, Christ our Advocate follows our suit, and bu­siness in Heaven, as his great and main design and business, therefore in Heb. 7. 25. he is said to live for ever to make intercession for us: as if our concernments were so minded by him there, as to give up himself wholly to that work: as if all the glory and honour which is paid him in Heaven, would not satisfie him, or divert him one moment from our bu­siness.

Thirdly, He pleads the cause of Believers by his blood: it satisfies him not as other Advocates, to be at the expence of words and oratory, which is a cheaper way of pleading; but he pleads for us by the voice of his own blood, Heb. 12. 24. where we are said to be come to the blood of sprinkling, that speak­eth better things than that of Abel: every wound he received for us on earth, is a mouth opened to plead with God on our behalf in Heaven, quot vulnera, tot ora: and hence it is that in Rev. 5. 6. he is represented standing before God, as a Lamb that had been slain: as it were exhibiting and open­ing in Heaven those deadly wounds received on earth, from the justice of God upon our account: other Advocates spend their breath, Christ his blood.

Fourthly, He pleads the cause of Believers freely: other Advocates plead for reward, and exhaust the Purses while they plead the causes of their Clients.

Fifthly, In a word, he obtaineth for us all the mercies for which he pleads; no cause miscarries in his hand which he undertakes, Rom. 8. 33, 34. O what a lovely Advocate is Christ for Believers!

Fourthly, Christ is altogether lovely in the relation of a Friend, for in this relation he is pleased to own his people, Luk. 12. 4, 5. There are certain things in which one friend manifests his affection and friendship to another, but none like Christ. For,

[Page 258] First, No Friend is so open-hearted to his friend as Christ is to his people: he reveals the very counsels and secrets of his heart to them, Joh. 15. 15. Henceforth I call you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doth; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father, I have made known unto you.

Secondly, No Friend in the world is so expensive and bountiful to his friend, as Jesus Christ is to Believers, Joh. 15. 13. He parts with his very blood for them: grea­ter love (saith he) hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends: he hath exhausted the precious treasures of this invaluable blood to pay our debts. O what a lovely friend is Jesus Christ to Believers!

Thirdly, No Friend sympathises so tenderly with his Friend in affliction, as Jesus Christ doth with his friends: in all our afflictions he is afflicted, Heb. 4. 15. He feels all our sorrows, wants and burthens as his own. Whence it is that the sufferings of Believers are called the sufferings of Christ, Col. 1. 24.

Fourthly, No Friend in the world takes that complacency in his Friend as Jesus Christ doth in Believers, Cant. 4. 9. Thou hast ravished my heart (saith he to the Spouse) thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck: the Hebrew here rendred ravished, signifies to puff up, or to make one proud; how is the Lord Jesus plea­sed to glory in his people! how is he taken and delighted with those gracious ornaments which himself bestows upon them! no friend so lovely as Christ.

Fifthly, No Friend in the world loves his Friend with so ferverous, and strong affection, as Jesus Christ loves Belie­vers. Jacob loved Rachel, and endured for her sake the parching heat of Summer, and cold of Winter: but Christ indured the storms of the wrath of God, the heat of his [...]ignation for our sakes. David manifested his love to [...], in wishing, O that I had died for thee! Christ manifested his love to us, not in wishes that he had died, but in death it self, in our stead, and for our sakes.

Sixthly, No Friend in the world is so constant and un­ch [...]ble in friendship, as Christ is, Joh. 13. 1. Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the [Page 259] end. He bears with millions of provocations, and injuries, and yet will not break friendship with his people. Peter denied him, yet he will not disown him; but after his resur­rection he saith, go, tell the Disciples, and tell Peter, (q. d.) let him not think he hath forfeited by that sin of his, his interest in me; though he have denied me, I will not disown him, Mark 16. 7. Oh how lovely is Christ in the relation of a friend! I might farther shew you the loveliness of Christ in his Ordinances, and in his providences, in his communion with us, and communications to us: but there is no end of the ac­count of Christs loveliness. I will rather choose to press Believers to their dutys towards this altogether lovely Christ, which I shall briefly dispatch in a few words.

Use 1.

First, Is Jesus Christ altogether lovely, then I beseech Use 1. you set your souls upon this lovely Jesus: methinks such an object as hath been here represented should compel love from the coldest breast, and hardest heart. Away with those empty nothings, away with this vain deceitful world which deserves not the thousandth part of the love you give it: let all stand aside, and give way to Christ. O did you but know his worth and excellency, what he is in himself, what he hath done for, and deserved from you; you would need no arguments of mine to perswade you to love him.

Secondly, Esteem nothing lovely, but as it is enjoyed in 2. Christ, or improved for Christ: affect nothing for it self, love nothing separate from Jesus Christ. In two things we all sin in the love of creatures, viz. in the excess of our affecti­ons, loving them above the rate, and value of creatures, and in the inordinacy of our affections, (i. e.) in loving them out of their proper places.

Thirdly, Let us all be humbled for the baseness of our hearts, 3. that are so free of their affections to vanities, and trifles; and so hard to be perswaded to the love of Christ, who is altogether lovely. Oh how many pour out streams of love and de­light upon the vain and empty creature, whilst no ar­guments can squeese out one drop of love from their ob­durate [Page 260] and unbelieving hearts to Jesus Christ! I have read of one Johannes Mollius, who was observed to go often alone, and weep bitterly; and being prest by a Friend to know the cause of his trouble; Oh, said he, it grieves me that I cannot bring this heart of mine to love Jesus Christ more fervently.

Fourthly, Represent Christ as he is to the world, by your 4. carriages towards him: Is he altogether lovely? Let all the world see and know that he is so, by your delights in him, and communion with him, zeal for him, and readi­ness to part with any other lovely thing upon his account: proclaim his excellencies to the world, as the Spouse here did: convince them how much your Beloved is better than any other Beloved. Display his glorious excellencies in your heavenly Conversations: hold him forth to others, as he is in himself, altogether lovely. See that you walk worthy of him unto all well-pleasing, Col. 1. 10. Shew forth the praises of Christ, 1 Pet. 2. 9. Let not that worthy name be blas­phemed through you, James 2. 7. He is glorious in himself, and will put glory upon you; take heed ye put not shame and dishonour upon him: he hath committed his honour to you, do not betray that trust.

Fifthly, Never be ashamed to own Christ: he is altogether 5. lovely: he can never be a shame to you: 'twill be your great sin, to be ashamed of him. Some men glory in their shame, be not you ashamed of your glory: if you be ashamed of Christ now, he will be ashamed of you, when he shall appear in his own glory, and the glory of all his holy Angels. Be asha­med of nothing but sin, and among other sins, be ashamed especially for this sin, that you have no more love for him who is altogether lovely.

Sixthly, Be willing to leave every thing that is lovely upon 6. earth, that you may be with the altogether lovely Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven. Lift up your voices with the Spouse, Rev. 20. 20. Come Lord Jesus, come quickly. 'Tis true, you must pass through the pangs of death into his bosom and enjoyment; but sure 'tis worth suffering much more than that, to be with this lovely Jesus. The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and the patient waiting for of Jesus Christ, 2 Thes. 3. 5.

[Page 261] Seventhly, Strive to be Christ-like, as ever you would be 7. lovely in the eyes of God and men. Certainly my Brethren, 'tis the Spirit of Christ within you, and the beauty of Christ upon you, which only can make you lovely per­sons: the more you resemble him in holiness, the more will you discover of true excellency and loveliness: and the more frequent and spiritual your converse and com­munion with Christ is, the more of the beauty and love­liness of Christ will still be stamped upon your Spirits, changing you into the same image from glory to glory.

Eighthly, Let the loveliness of Christ draw all men to 8. him. Is loveliness in the creature, embodied beauty, so attractive? And can the transcendent loveliness of Christ draw none? Oh the blindness of man! If you see no beau­ty in Christ, why you should desire him, 'tis because the God of this world hath blinded your minds.

The Thirteenth SERMON. Sermon 13.

HAGGAI 2. 7. Text. Alluring the hearts of men to come to Christ by a fourth mo­tive, con­tained in another Title of Christ.‘—And the desire of all Nations, shall come.’

THe former Chapter is mainly spent in reproving the negligence of the Jews, who being discoura­ged from time to time, had delayed the rebuild­ing the Temple: and in the mean time imployed their care, and cost in building and adorning their own houses: but at last being perswaded to set about the work, they meet with this discouragement, that such was the po­verty of the present time, that the second structure would no way answer the magnificence and splendor of the first. In Solomons days the Nation was wealthy, now drained, so that there would be no proportion betwixt the second and the first. To this grand discouragement, the Prophet applies this relief, that whatsoever should be wanting in external pomp and glory, should be more than recompensed by the presence of Jesus Christ in this second Temple. For Christ, the desire of all Nations (saith he) shall come into it. Which by the way may give us this useful note, That the presence of Jesus Christ gives a more real and excellent glory to the places of his worship, than any external beauty, or out­ward [Page 263] ornaments whatsoever can bestow upon them. Our eyes like the Disciples are apt to be dazled with the goodly stones of the Temple, and in the mean time to neglect, and overlook that which gives it its greatest honour and beauty.

But to return, In these words we have both the descripti­on of Christ, and an index pointing at the time of his in­carnation; he is called the desire of all Nations: and the time of his coming in the flesh, 'tis plainly intimated to be while the second Temple should be standing: where by the way, we find just cause to admire and bemoan the blindness that is hapned to the Jews; who owning the truth of this Prophecie, and not able to deny the destruction of the se­cond Temple, many hundred years past, will not yet be brought to acknowledge the incarnation of the true Messiah, notwithstanding.

But to the point, the character or description of Christ, stiled the desire of all nations, who was to come into the world in the time of the second Temple, Mal. 3. 12. and that after grievous concussions and shakings of the world, which were to make way for his coming, for so our Prophet here speaks, I will shake all nations, and the desire of all na­tions shall come, to which the Apostle alludes in Heb. 12. 26. applying this prophecie to Jesus Christ, here called the desire of all Nations: putting the act for the object, desire for the thing desired; as in Ezec. 24. 16. the desire of thine eyes, that is the desirable Wife of thy bosome. So here the desire of all nations, that is Christ the object of the desires of Gods elect in all nations of the world. A Saviour infinitely de­sireable in himself, and actually desired by all the people of God, dispersed among all kindreds, tongues and nations in the world.

From whence this note is,

DOCT.

That the desires of Gods Elect in all Kingdoms, and among Doct. all people of the earth, are and shall be drawn out after, and fix­ed upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

[Page 264] The merciful God beholding the universal ruines of the world by sin, hath provided an universal remedy for his own Elect, in every part of the earth. Christ is not impropri­ated to any one Kingdom or Nation in the world; but in­tended to be Gods salvation to the ends of the earth, and accordingly speaks the Apostle, Col. 2. 11. There is neither Greek nor Jew, Barbarian, Scythian, Bond nor Free; but Christ is all, and in all. In the explication of this point, two things must be enquired into.

  • 1. Why Christ is called the desire of all Nations.
  • 2. Upon what account the people of God in all Nati­ons desire him.

First, Why he is called the desire of all Nations: and 1. what that Phrase may import: and there are diverse things that are supposed or included in it.

First, That God the Father hath appointed him as a com­mon remedy, for the sins and miseries of his people in all parts and quarters of the world. So in the Covenant of Re­demption betwixt the Father and the Son, the Lord expres­seth himself, Isai. 49. 6. and he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant, to raise up the Tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou maist be my salvation to the end of the earth. Suitable whereunto is that Prophecie, Isai. 52. 15. He shall sprinkle many Nations. If God had not appointed him for, he could not be desired by all Nations.

And indeed herein the grace of God doth admirably shine forth in the freeness of it, that even the most barbarous Na­tions are not excluded from the benefit of redemption by Christ. This is that the Apostle admires, that Christ should be preached to the Gentiles, 1 Tim. 3. 16. A people that seem­ed to be lost in the darkness of Idolatry; yet even for them Christ was given by the Father. Ask of me (saith he) and I will give thee the Heathen for thine inheritance, and the ut­termost parts of the earth for thy possession.

Secondly, Christ the desire of all Nations, plainly notes the sufficiency that is in him to supply the wants of the whole world: as the Sun in the Heavens suffices all Nations for light and influence, so doth the Sun of Righteousness suf­fice for the Redemption, Justification, Sanctification and [Page 265] salvation of the people of God, all the world over, Isa. 45. 22. Look unto me, and be ye saved all ye ends of the earth.

Thirdly, It implies the reality that is in godliness: it shews you that Religion is no fancy, as the Atheistical world would perswade us: and this evidently appears in the uni­form effects of it upon the hearts of all men in all nations of the world, that are truely religious: all their desires, like so many Needles touched by one and the same Load­stone, move towards Jesus Christ, and all meet together in one and the same blessed object Christ. Were it possible for the people of God to come out of all Nations, Kindreds and Languages in the world, into one place, and there con­fer, and compare the desires and workings of their hearts; though they never saw each others face, nor heard of each others name; yet as face answers to face in a glass, so would their desires after Christ answer to each other: all hearts work after him in the same manner, what one saith, all say; these are my troubles and burthens, these my wants and mi­series: the same things my desires and fears: one and the same Spirit harmonically works in all Believers through the world, which could never be, if Religion were but a fancie as some call it, or a combination or confederacy as others call it: fancies are as various as faces; and confederacies presuppose mutual acquaintance, and conference.

Fourthly, Christ the desire of all Nations implies the vast extent his Kingdom hath and shall have in the world: out of every Nation under Heaven some shall be brought to Christ, and to Heaven by him. And though the number of Gods elect, compared with the multitudes of the ungodly in all Nations, is but a remnant, a little flock, and in that compa­rative sense there are few that shall be saved; yet consider­ed absolutely, and in themselves, they are a vast number, which no man can number, Mat. 8. 11. Many shall come from the East, and from the West, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of Heaven. In order whereunto the Gospel, like the Sun in the Heavens, circuits the world: it arose in the East, and takes its course towards the western world: rising by degrees upon the remote Idola­trous Nations of the earth; out of all which a number is to [Page 266] be saved, even Ethiopia shall stretch out her hands to God, Pfal. 68. 31. And this consideration should move us to pray carnestly for the poor Heathens, who yet sit in darkness, and the shadow of death; there is yet hope for them.

Fifthly, It holds forth this, that when God opens the eyes of men to see their sin, and danger by it; nothing but Christ can give them satisfaction: 'tis not the amenity, fertility, riches and pleasures the Inhabitants of any Kingdom of the world do enjoy, that can quench and satisfie the desires of their souls: when once God touches their hearts with the sense of sin and misery: Christ and none but Christ is desira­ble and necessary in the eyes of such persons. Many King­doms of the world abound with riches and pleasures, the providence of God hath carved liberal portions of the good things of this life to many of them, and scarce left any thing to their desires that the world can afford. Yet all this can give no satisfaction without Jesus Christ, the desire of Na­tions, the one thing necessary, when once they come to see the necessity and excellency of him: then take the world who will, so they may have Christ the desire of their souls. Thus we see upon what grounds and reasons Christ is stiled the desire of all Nations.

But there lies one great Objection against this truth, Object. which must be satisfied, viz. if Christ be the desire of all Na­tions, how comes it to pass, that Jesus Christ finds no en­tertainment in so many Nations of the world, among whom Christianity is hissed at, and Christians not tolerated to live among them; who see no beauty in him that they should de­desire him.

First, We must remember the Nations of the World have their times and seasons of conversion. Those that Sol. once embraced Christ, have now lost him, and Idols are now set up in the places where he once was sweetly worshipped. The Sun of the Gospel is gone down upon them, and now shines in another Hemisphere: and so the Na­tions of the World are to have their distinct days, and sea­sons of illumination. The Gospel, like the Sea, gaineth in one place what it loseth in another: and in the times and sea­sons appointed by the Father they come successively to be enlightned in the knowledge of Christ; and then shall that [Page 267] promise be fulfilled, Isai. 49. 7. Thus saith the Lord, the Re­deemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of Rulers; Kings shall see and arise, Princes also shall worship, because of the Lord that is faithful.

Secondly, Let it also be remembered, that although Christ be rejected by the Rulers and Body of many Nations; yet he is the desire of all the Elect of God dispersed, and scat­tered among those Nations.

Secondly, In the next place we are to enquire, upon what 2. account Christ becomes the desire of all Nations, (i. e.) of all those in all the Nations of the world that belong to the election of grace. And the true ground and reason thereof is, because Christ only hath that in himself which relieves their wants and answers to all their needs. As,

First, They are all by nature under condemnation, Rom. 5. 16, 18. under the curse of the Law; against which nothing is found in Heaven or earth able to relieve their Consciences but the blood of sprinkling, the pure and perfect righteous­ness of the Lord Jesus: and hence it is that Christ becomes so desirable in the eyes of poor sinners all the world over. If any thing in nature could be found to pacifie and purge the Consciences of men from guilt and fear; Christ would ne­ver be desirable in their eyes; but finding no other remedy but the blood of Jesus, to him therefore shall all the ends of the earth look for righteousness and for peace.

Secondly, All Nations of the world are polluted with the filth of sin, both in nature and practice, which they shall see, and bitterly bewail when the light of the Gospel shall shine amongst them; and the same light by which this shall be dis­covered, will also discover the only remedy of this evil to Ile in the spirit of Christ, the only fountain opened to all Nations for sanctification and cleansing: and this will make the Lord Jesus incomparably desirous in their eyes. Oh how welcome will he be that cometh unto them, not by blood only, but by water also! John 1. 5, 6.

Thirdly, When the light of the Gospel shall shine upon the Nations, they shall then see, that by reason of the guilt and filth of sin, they are all barr'd out of Heaven. Those dores are chained up against them, and that none but Christ can open an entrance for them into that Kingdom of God: [Page 268] that no man cometh to the Father but by him, John 14. 6. nei­ther is there any name under Heaven given among men, where­by they must be saved, but the name of Christ, Act. 4. 12. Hence the hearts of sinners shall pant after him, as the Hart panteth for the water brooks. And thus we see upon what grounds Christ becomes the desire of all Nations. The im­provement of all followeth in five several uses of the point, viz.

  • 1. For Information.
  • 2. For Examination.
  • 3. For Consolation.
  • 4. For Exhortation.
  • 5. For Direction.

Use for Information.

First, Is Christ the desire of all Nations, How vile a sin is Use 1. it then in any Nation, upon whom the light of the Gospel hath shined, to reject Jesus Christ, and say as those in Job 21. 14. Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. To thrust away his worship, government, and servants from amongst them, and in effect to say as it is, Luke 19. 14. we will not have this man to reign over us: thus did the Jews, Act. 13. 46. they put away Christ from among them, and thereby judged themselves unworthy of eternal life. This is at once a fearful sin, and a dreadful sign: how soon did vengeance overtake them, like the overthrow of Sodom! O let it be for a warning unto all Nations to the end of the world. He would have gathered the Children of Israel un­der his wings, as a Hen doth her brood, even when the Roman Eagle was hovering over them, but they would not: therefore their Houses were left unto them desolate, their Ci­ty and Temple made an heap.

Secondly, If Jesus Christ be the desire of all Nations, how incomparably happy then must that Nation be, that enjoys Christ in the power and purity of his Gospel-ordinances! If Christ under a vail made Canaan a glorious land (as it's called) Dan. 11. 41. what a glorious place must that Nation be that beholds him with open face in the bright Sunshine of the [Page 269] Gospel! O England know thy happiness, and the day of thy visitation: what others desire thou enjoyest: provoke not the Lord Jesus to depart from thee, by corrupting his worship, hankering after Idolatry, abusing his Messengers, oppressing his people, lest his soul depart from thee.

2d Use for Examination.

If Christ be the desire of all Nations, examine whether he Use 2. be the desire of your souls in particular, else you shall have no benefit by him. Are your desires after Christ true spiritu­al desires? Reflect, I beseech you, upon the frames and tem­pers of your hearts. Can you say of your desires after Christ, as Peter did of his love to Christ, Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I desire thee: try your desires as to their sincerity, by the following characters.

First, Are they vehement and ardent? hath Christ the su­preme place in your desires? do you esteem all things to be but dross and dung in comparison of the excellencies of Je­sus Christ your Lord? Phil. 3. 8. Is he to you as the refuge City to the manslayer, Heb. 6. 18, 19. as a spring of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great Rock in a weary land, Isai. 32. 2. Such vehement desires are true desires.

Secondly, Are your desires after Christ universal? (i. e.) is every thing in Christ desirable in your eyes? the Hypocrite like the Harlot is for a divided Christ: they would be called by his name, but live upon their own stock, Isai. 4. 1. if his holiness, and government, his cross, and sufferings be desira­ble for his sake, such universal desires are right desires.

Thirdly, Are your desires after Christ industrious desires, using all the means of accomplishing what you desire? You say you desire Christ, but what will you do to obtain your desires? If you seek him carefully and incessantly in all the ways of duty, if you will strive in prayer, labour to believe, cut off right hands, and pluck out right eyes, (i. e.) be content to part with the most profitable and pleasant ways of sin, that you may enjoy Christ the desire of your souls, then are your desires right desires.

Fourthly, Are your desires after Christ permanent desires, or only a suddain mood and fit, which goes off again with­out [Page 270] effect? If your desires after Christ abide upon your hearts, if your longings be after▪ him at all times, though not in the same height and degree, then are your desires right desires? Christ always dwells in the desires of his peo­ple, they can feel him in their desires, when they cannot discern him in their loves or delights.

Fifthly, Will your desires after Christ admit no satisfa­ction, nor find rest any where but in the injoyment of Christ, then are your desires right desires: the soul that desires Christ can never be at rest till it come home to Christ, 2 Cor. 5. 2, 6. Phil. 1. 23. The Devil can satisfie others with riches and pleasures of this world, as Children are quieted with Rattles. If nothing but Christ can rest and terminate your desires, surely such restless desires are right desires.

Sixthly, Do your desires after Christ spring from a deep sense of your need and want of Christ: hath conviction open­ed your eyes to see your misery, to feel your burthens, and to make you sensible that your remedy lies only in the Lord Jesus, then are your desires right desires: bread and water are made necessary and desirable by hunger and thirst. By these things try the truth of your desires after Christ.

3d Use for Consolation.

Do you indeed upon serious trial find such desires after Use 3. Christ, as were described above, Oh bless the Lord for that day wherein Christ the desire of Nations became the desire of your souls, and for your comfort know that you are happy and blessed souls at present.

First, Blessed in this, that your eyes have been opened to see both the want and the worth of Christ. Had not Christ ap­plied his precious eye-salve to the eyes of your mind, you could never have desired him, you would have said with them in Isai. 53. 2, 3. He hath no form nor comliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him: or as they to the Spouse, Cant. 5. 9. What is thy Be­loved more than another Beloved? Oh blessed souls, inlightned of the Lord; to see those things that are hid from them that perish!

[Page 271] Secondly, You are blessed in this, that your desires after Christ are a sure evidence that the desire of Christ is towards you: had he not first desired you, you could never have desi­red him. We may say of desires as it is said of love; we desire him because he first desired us: your desires after Christ are inflamed from the desires of Christ after you.

Thirdly, Blessed in this, that your desires shall surely be satisfied, Mat. 5. 6. Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled: Prov. 10. 24. The desires of the righteous shall be granted. God never raised such de­sires as these in the souls of his people to be a torment to them for ever.

Fourthly, Blessed in this, that God hath guided your de­sires to make the best choice that ever was made in the world: whilst the desires of others are hunting after riches, pleasure and honours in the world, toiling themselves like Children in pursuit of a painted Butterfly, which when they have caught, doth but daub their fingers: God mean while hath directed your desires to Christ, the most excellent object in Heaven or earth. Any good will satisfie some men, Oh happy soul if none but Christ can satisfie thee, Psal. 4. 6.

Fifthly, Blessed in this, that there is a work of grace cer­tainly wrought upon thy soul, and these very desires after Christ are a part thereof.

Sixthly, Blessed in this, that these desires after Christ keep thy soul active and working after him continually in the ways of duty, Psal. 27. 4. One thing have I desired, that will I seek after. Desire will be a continual spring to diligence and industry in the ways of duty: the desire of the end quickens to the use of means, Prov. 18. 1. Others may fall asleep and cast off duty, but it will be hard for you to do so, whose souls burn with desire after Christ.

Seventhly, Blessed in this, that your desires after Christ will make death much the sweeter and easier to you, Phil. 1. 23. I desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ, which is far better. When a Christian was once asked, whether he were willing to dye? He returned this answer, let him be unwilling to dye, who is unwilling to go to Christ: and Illius est nolle mori, qui nolit­ire ad Chri­stum. much like it was that of another, vivere renuo, ut Christo vi­vam, I refuse this life, to live with Christ.

4th Use for Exhortation.

In the fourth place, let me exhort and perswade all to Use 4. make Jesus Christ the desire and choice of their souls. And here I fall in with the main scope and design of the Gospel: and Oh that I could effectually press home this Exhortation upon your hearts. Let me offer some moving Considerati­ons to you, and the Lord accompany them to your hearts.

First, Every Creature naturally desires its own preserva­tion, do not you desire the preservation of your precious and immortal souls? If you do, then make Christ your desire and choice, without whom they can never be preserved, Jude vers. 1.

Secondly, don't your souls earnestly desire the bodies they live in? how tender are they over them, how careful to pro­vide for them? though they pay a dear rent for those Tene­ments they live in: and is not union with Christ infinitely more desirable than the union of soul and body? Oh covet union with him, then shall your souls be happy, when your bodies drop off from them at death, 2 Cor. 5. 1, 3. yea, soul and body shall be happy in him, and with him for ever­more.

Thirdly, How do the men of this world desire the enjoy­ments of it? They pant after the dust of the earth: they rise early, sit up late, eat the bread of carefulness; and all this for very vanity. Shall a worldling do more for earth than you for Heaven? Shall the Creature be so earnestly desired, and Christ neglected?

Fourthly, What do all your desires in this world benefit you, if you go Christless? Suppose you had the desire of your hearts in these things, how long shall you have com­fort in them if you miss Christ?

Fifthly, Doth Christ desire you, who have nothing lovely or desirable in you? And have you no desires after Christ, the most lovely, and desirable one in both worlds? His de­sires are towards you, Prov. 8. 31. O, make him the desire and choice of your souls.

Sixthly, How absolutely necessary is Jesus Christ to your souls? Bread and water, breath and life is not so necessary [Page 273] as Christ is, One thing is necessary, Luk. 10. 42. and that one thing is Christ: if you miss your desires in other things, you may yet be happy; but if you miss Christ, you are undone for ever.

Seventhly, How suitable a good is Christ to your souls? Comprizing whatsoever they want, 1 Cor. 1. 30. Set your hearts where you will, none will be found to match and suit them as Christ doth.

Eighthly, How great are the benefits that will redound to you by Jesus Christ? In him you shall have a rich inheritance setled upon you: all things shall be yours when you are Christs, 1 Cor. 3. 22. and is not such a Christ worth desiring?

Ninthly, All your well-grounded hopes of glory are built upon your union with Christ, 1 Cor. 1. 21. If you miss Christ, you must dye without hope; will not this draw your desires to him?

Tenthly, Suppose you were at the Judgement Seat of God, where you must shortly stand; and saw the terrors of the Lord in that day; the Sheep divided from the Goats, the sentences of absolution and condemnation past by the great and awful Judge, upon the righteous and the wicked; would not Christ be then desirable in your eyes? As ever you ex­pect to stand with Comfort at that Bar, let Christ be the desire and choice of your souls now.

5th Use for Direction.

Do these, or any other Considerations put thee upon this Use 5. enquiry, how shall I get my desires kindled and inflamed to­wards Christ? Alas, my heart is cold and dead, not a seri­ous desire stirring in it after Christ: to such I shall offer the following Directions.

Direction 1.

Redeem some time every day for meditation: get out of the noise and clamour of the world, Psal. 4. 4. and seriously bethink your selves how the present state of your soul stands, and how it is like to go with you for ever: here all sound Conversion begins, Psal. 119. 59.

Direction 2.

Consider seriously of that lamentable state in which you came into the world: children of wrath by nature, under the curse and condemnation of the Law. So that either your state must be changed, or you inevitably damned, Joh. 3. 3.

Direction 3.

Consider the way and course you have taken, since you came into the world; proceeding from iniquity to iniquity. What Command of God have you not violated a thousand times over? What sin is committed in the world, that you are not one way or other guilty of before God? How many secret sins are upon your score, unknown to the most intimate Friend you have in the world? Either this guilt must be se­parated from your souls, or your souls from God to all eter­nity.

Direction 4.

Think upon the severe wrath of God due to every sin, The wages of sin is death, Rom. 6. ult. and how intolerable the fulness of that wrath must be when a few drops sprinkled upon the Conscience in this world is so insupportable, that it hath made some to choose strangling rather than life: and yet this wrath must abide for ever upon you, if you get not interest in Jesus Christ, Joh. 3. 63.

Direction 5.

Ponder well the happy state and condition they are in, who have obtained pardon and peace by Jesus Christ, Psal. 32. 12. And seeing the grace of God is free, and you are yet under the means thereof, why may not you be as capa­ble thereof as others?

Direction 6.

Seriously consider the great uncertainty of your time, and preciousness of the opportunities of salvation, never to be recovered when they are once past, Joh. 9. 4. Let this pro­voke you to lay hold upon those golden seasons, whilst they are yet with you; that you may not bewail your folly and madness when they are out of your reach.

Direction 7.

Associate your selves with serious Christians, get into their acquaintance, and beg their assistance; beseech them to pray for you: and see that you rest not here, but be frequently upon your knees begging of the Lord a new heart, and a new state.

In Conclusion of the whole, let me beseech and beg all the people of God, as upon my knees, to take heed and beware lest by the carelesness, and scandals of their lives, they quench the weak desires beginning to kindle in the hearts of others. You know what the Law of God awards for striking a wo­man with Child, so that her fruit go from her, Exod. 21. 22, 23. Oh shed not soul blood by stifling the hopeful desires of any after Christ.

Blessed be God for Jesus Christ the desire of all Nations.

The Fourteenth SERMON. Sermon 14.

1 COR. 2. 8. Text. Containing the fifth Motive to apply Christ, drawn from ano­ther excel­lent Title of Christ.‘Which none of the Princes of this world have known, for had they known him, they would not have Cru­cified the Lord of Glory.’

IN this Chapter the Apostle discourses to the Corinthians the excellency of his Ministry, both to obviate the con­tempt which some might cast upon it for want of hu­mane Ornaments; and to give the greater authority unto it among all: and whereas the spiritual simplicity of his Ministry laid it under the contempt of some, he removes that several ways, by showing them,

First, That it was not suitable to the design, and end of his ministry, his aim being to know nothing among them, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified, vers. 1, 2.

Secondly, Neither was it for the advantage of their souls: it might indeed tickle their fancies, but could be no solid foundation to their faith and comfort, vers. 4, 5.

[Page 277] Thirdly, Though his discourses seemed jejune, and dry to carnal hearers, yet it had a depth, and an excellency in it, which spiritual and judicious Christians saw and acknowledg­ed, vers. 6, 7.

Fourthly, Therefore this excellent wisdom which he preached, far transcended all the natural wisdom of this world: yea, the most raised and improved understandings of those that were most renowned, and admired in that age for wisdom, vers. 8. Which none of the Princes of this world knew.

In which words we have,

  • 1. A Negative Proposition.
  • 2. The proof of the Proposition.

First, A Negative Proposition, none of the Princes of this 1. world knew that Spiritual Wisdom which he taught. By Princes of this world, or rather principes seculi, the Princes of that age, he means, as Camero well notes, the learned Rab­bies, Scribes and Pharisees, renowned for wisdom and learn­ing among them, and honoured upon that account, as so many Princes: but he adds a diminutive term, which darkens all their glory. They are but the Princes of this world, utterly unacquainted with the wisdom of the other world. To which he adds,

Secondly, A clear and full proof, for had they known it, 2. they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. In which words we find one of Christs glorious and royal Titles, the Lord of glory: upon which Title my present Discourse must fall. The words being fitly rendred, and nothing of ambi­guity in them, they give us this observation.

DOCT.

That Christ Crucified is the Lord of Glory. Doct.

Great and excellent is the glory of Jesus Christ; the Scriptures every where proclaim his glory. Yea, we may observe a notable Climax, or gradation in those Scriptures that speak of his glory. The Prophet Isaiah speaking of [Page 278] him, calls him glorious, Isai. 4. 2. In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious. John speaking of his glory rises a step higher, and ascribeth to him a glory as of the only begotton Son of the Father, John 1. 14. (i. e.) a glo­ry meet for, and becoming the Son of God: proper to him and incommunicable to any other. The Apostle James ri­ses yet higher, and doth not only call him glorious, or glorious as the only begotten of the Father: but the glory, Jam. 2. 1. glory in the abstract; my brethren (saith he) have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glory, with respect of persons: for the word Lord, which is in our translation, is a supplement: Christ is glory it self: yea, the glory em­phatically so stiled; the glory of Heaven; the glory of Sion; the glory of our souls for ever. The Author to the Hebrews goes yet higher, and calls him not simply the glory, but the brightness of his Fathers glory, Heb. 1. 3. as who should [...]. say, the radiancy, sparkling, or beaming forth of his Fathers glory, the very splendor, or refulgency of divine glory. Oh what a glorious Lord is our Lord Jesus Christ! the bright sparkling Diamond of Heaven: who shines in glory there, above the glory of Angels and Saints, as the glory of the Sun excels the lesser twinkling Stars. When he ap­peared to Paul in Acts 26. 13. I saw, said he, a light from Heaven, above the brightness of the Sun, shining round about me: needs must the glory of Christ be unspeakable, who reflects glory upon all that be with him, John 17. 24. and stamps glory upon all that belongs to him. His works on earth were glorious works, Luk. 13. 17. The purchased liber­ty of his people, a glorious liberty, Rom. 8. 21. The Church his mystical body, a glorious Church, Eph. 5. 27. The Go­spel which reveals him, is a glorious Gospel, 1 Tim. 1. 11.

But more particularly, let us consider the glory of Christ, as it is distinguished into his either,

1. EssentialGlory.
2. Mediatorial

First, The Essential Glory of Christ which he hath as God 1. from everlasting; which is unspeakable and unconceivable glory: for (saith the Apostle) Phil. 2. 6. He being in the [Page 279] form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God (i. e.) he had a Peerage, or equality with his Father in glory, Joh. 10. 30. I and my Father are one: and again, Joh. 16. 15. All things that the Father hath, are mine: the same name, the same nature, the same essential properties, the same will, and the same glory.

Secondly, The Mediatorial glory of Christ is exceeding 2. great: this is proper to him, as head of the Church, which he hath purchased with his own blood. Of this glory the Apostle speaks, Phil. 2. 9, 10. Wherefore God also hath highly ex­alted him, and given him a name, which is above every name, &c. [...] exalted above all exaltation. Now the mediatorial glory of our Lord Jesus Christ consisteth ei­ther,

  • 1. In the fulness of Grace inherent in him.
  • 2. Or in the Dignity and Authority put upon him.

First, In the fulness of grace inherent in him: the huma­nity of Christ is filled with grace, as the Sun with light, Joh. 1. 14. Full of grace and truth: never any creature was so filled by the Spirit of Grace, as the man Christ Jesus is filled, for God gives not the spirit to him by measure, Joh. 3. 34. By reason of this fulness of grace inherent in him, he is sairer than the Children of men, Psal. 45. 2. Excelling all the Saints in spiritual lustre, and gracious excellencies.

Secondly, In the Dignity and Authority put upon him▪ he is crowned King in Sion: all power in Heaven and earth is given unto him, Mat. 28. 18. he is Lawgiver to the Church, James 4. 12. All acts of worship are to be perform­ed in his name, Prayer, Preaching, Censures, Sacraments, all to be administred in his name. Church Officers are Com­missioned by him, Eph. 4. 11. The Judgement of the world in the great day will be administred by him, Mat. 25. 31. Then shall he sit upon the Throne of his Glory.

To conclude, Jesus Christ shall have glory and honour ascribed to him for evermore by Angels and Saints, upon the account of his Mediatorial work. This some Divines call his passive glory; the glory which he is to receive from his redeemed ones, Rev. 5. 8, 9, 10. And when he had taken [Page 280] the Book, the four Beasts, and the four and twenty Elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them Harps, and golden Vials full of Odours, which are the prayers of the Saints; and they sung a new Song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the Book, and to open the Seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every Kindred, and Tongue, and People, and Nation, &c. And thus you see, that our Lord Jesus Christ is upon all accounts the Lord of Glory. The Uses follow.

Inference 1.

How wonderful was the love of Christ the Lord of glory, to be so abased and humbled as he was for us, vile, and sinful Inference 1. dust! 'Tis astonishing to conceive that ever Jesus Christ should strip himself out of his Robes of Glory, to cloath himself with the thread-bare tatters of our flesh. Oh what a stoop did he make in his incarnation for us! If the most magnifi­cent Monarch upon earth, had been degraded into a Toad: if the Sun in the Heavens had been turned into a wandring Atom: if the most glorious Angel in Heaven, had been transformed into a silly Fly; it had been nothing to the abasement of the Lord of Glory. This act is every where celebrated in Scripture, as the great mystery, the astonish­ing wonder of the whole world, 2 Tim. 3. 16. Phil. 2. 8. Rom. 8. 3. The Lord of glory looked not like himself, when he came in the habit of a man, Isai. 53. 3. We hid as it were our faces from him: nay, rather like a worm, than a man, Psal. 22. 6. A reproach of men, and despised of the people. The Birds of the air, and Beasts of the earth were here provided of better accommodations than the Lord of glory, Mat. 8. 20. Oh stupendious abasement! Oh love unspeakable! Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich, 2 Cor. 8. 9. He put off the Crown of Glory, to put on the Crown of Thorns: quanto pro me vilior, tanto mihi charior, said Bernard, the lower he hum­bled himself for me, the dearer he shall be to me.

Inference 2.

How transcendently glorious is the advancement of Believers by their union with the Lord of Glory! This also is an admira­ble, Inference 2. and astonishing mystery; 'tis the highest dignity of which our nature is capable, to be hypostatically united, and the greatest glory of which our persons are capable to be mystically united to this Lord of Glory; to be bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. O what is this! Christian dost thou know, and believe all this, and thy heart not burn within thee in love to Christ? O then what a heart hast thou? What art thou by nature, but sinful dust, a loathsom sinner, viler than the vilest Toad, cast out to the loathing of thy person in the day of thy nativity! O that ever the Lord of Glory should unite himself to such a lump of vileness! take such a wretch into his very bosom! Be astonished O Hea­vens and earth at this; this is the great mystery which the Angels stoopt down to look into. Such an honour as this could never have entred into the heart of man: it would have seemed a rude blasphemy in us once to have thought, or spoken of such a thing, had not Christ made the first mo­tion thereof. Yet how long didst thou make this Lord of Glory wait upon thy undetermined will, before he gained thy consent? Might he not justly have spurned thee into Hell upon thy first refusal, and never have made thee such ano­ther offer? Wilt thou not say, Lord, what am I, and what is my Fathers house, that so great a King should stoop so far beneath himself to such a worm as I am! That strength should unite it self to weakness, infinite glory to such base­ness! O grace, grace, for ever to be admired!

Inference 3.

Is Jesus Christ the Lord of Glory, then let no man count Inference 3. himself dishonoured by suffering the vilest indignities for his sake: the Lord of Glory puts glory upon the very sufferings you undergo in this world for him. Moses esteemed the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, Heb. 11. 26. He cast a Kingdom at his heels, to be crowned with re­proaches [Page 282] for the name of Christ. The Diadem of Egypt was not half so glorious, as self-denial for Christ. This Lord of Glory freely degraded himself for thee, wilt thou stand huck­ling with him upon terms? 'Tis certainly your honour to be dishonoured for Christ, Act. 5. 41. To you it is given in be­half of Christ, not only to believe, but also to suffer for his sake, Phil. 1. 29. The gift of suffering is there matched with the gift of faith: 'tis given as an honorarium, a badge of Honour to suffer for the Lord of Glory: as all have not the honour to wear the Crown of Glory in Heaven; so few have the honour to wear the chain of Christ upon earth. Thuanus Cur me non quoque torque donas, & in­si nis hujus or­dinis mili em creas? Thua­nus. reports of Lodovicus Marsacus, a Knight of France, that be­ing led to suffer with other Martyrs who were bound, and he unbound, because a person of Honour; he cryed out, Why don't you honour me with a Chain too, and create me a Knight of that Noble Order? My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations, Jam. 1. 2. (i. e.) tryals by sufferings. David thought it an honour to be vile for God, and that's a true observation, that disgrace it self is glorious, when endured for the Lord of Glory.

Inference 4.

Is Christ the Lord of Glory, How glorious then shall the Saints one day be, when they shall be made like this glorious Inference 4. Lord, and partake of his glory in Heaven, John 17. 22. the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them: yea, the vile bodies of Believers, shall be made like to the glorious body of Christ, Phil. 3. 21. What glory then will be communica­ted to their souls? True, his essential glory is incommunicable; but there is a glory, which Christ will communicate to his people, When he comes to judge the world, he will come to be glorified in his Saints, and to be admired in all them that believe, 2 Thes. 1. 10. Where he seemeth to account his social glo­ry, which shall result from his Saints, a great part of his own glory: as we have now fellowship with him in his sufferings, so we shall have a fellowship or communion with him in his glo­ry: when he shall appear, then shall we also appear with him in glory: then the poorest Believer shall be more glorious than Solomon in all his Royalty. It was a pious saying of Lu­ther, that he had rather be Christianus Rusticus, quam Ethnicus [Page 283] Alexander, a Christian Clown, than a Pagan Emperor; the righ­teous is more excellent than his neighbour: though he live next dore to a graceless Nobleman: but it doth not yet ap­pear what they shall be. The day will come, it will certainly come, for the Lord hath spoken it, when they shall shine forth as the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father.

Inference 5.

How hath the Devil blindfolded, and deluded them, that are scared off from Christ by the fears of being dishonoured by him? Inference 5. Many persons have half a mind to Religion, but when they consider the generality of its professors to be persons of the lowest and meanest rank in the world, and that reproaches and sufferings attend that way; they shrink back as men asha­med, and as Salvian saith, mali esse coguntur, ne viles habeantur, they choose rather to remain wicked, than to become vile: but to them that believe, Christ is an honour: as the word which we translate precious might be rendred, 1 Pet. 2. 7. Till God open mens eyes thus, they will put evil for good, and good for evil. But O dear bought honours for which men stake their souls, and everlasting happiness! Paul was not of your mind, yet for birth he was an Hebrew of the Hebrews, for dignity and esteem, a Pharisee for moral accomplishments, touching the Law blameless: yet all this he trampled under his feet, counting it all but dross and dung in comparison of Je­sus Christ. Moses had more honour to lay down for Christ than you, yet it was no temptation to him to conceal or de­ny the faith of Christ. Noble Galeacius would not be with­held from Christ by the splendor and glory of Italy. But Oh how doth the glory of this world dazle and blind the eyes of many! How can ye believe (saith Christ) who receive ho­nour one of another, John 5. 44. Saints and sinners upon this account are wonders to one the other. 'Tis the wonder of the world to see Christians glorying in reproaches, they wonder that the Saints run not with them into the same excess of ri­ot. And it is a wonder to Believers how such poor toys and empty titles (rather than titles of honour) should keep the world as it doth from Jesus Christ, and their everlasting happiness in him.

Inference 6.

If Christ be the Lord of Glory, how careful should all be Inference 6. who profess him, that they do not dishonour Jesus Christ, whose name is called upon them? Christ is a glory to you, be not you a shame and dishonour to him. How careful had Christians need be to draw every line and action of their lives exactly. The more glorious Christ is, the more circumspect and watchful ye had need to be. How lovely would Jesus Christ appear to the world, if the lives of Christians did adorn the Doctrine of God their Saviour in all things! Remember you represent the Lord of Glory to the world: 'tis not your ho­nour only, but the honour of Christ which is engaged, and concerned in your actions. O let not the carelesness, or scandals of your life make Jesus Christ ashamed to be called your Lord. When Israel had grievously revolted from God, he bids Moses rise, and get him down from thence, for (saith he) thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt, have corrupted themselves, Deut. 9. 12. as if the Lord were ashamed to own them for his people any longer. It was a cutting question, Jam. 2. 7. apt to startle the Consciences of those loose professors; do they not blaspheme that worthy name by which ye are called? Your duty is to adorn the Gospel by your Conversations, Titus 2. 10. The words signifie to deck, trim, or adorn the Gospel, to make it neat, trim, and love­ly to the eyes of beholders. When there is such a beautiful harmony, and lovely proportion betwixt Christs Doctrine, and your practices, as there is in the works of Creation: wherein the comliness and elegancy of the world much con­sists (for to this the Apostles word here alludes) then do we walk suitably to the Lord of Glory.

Inference 7.

What delight should Christians take in their daily converse with Jesus Christ in the way of duty? Your converses in prayer, hear­ing, Inference 7. Suppose (saith Mr. Ruther­ford) there were no letter of a command, yet there is a suitableness betwixt the Law en­graven on the heart, and the spiritual matter commanded—there is an Heaven in the bo­som of prayer, though there were not a granting of the suit. Rutherfords Treatise of the Covenant, p. 71. [Page 285] and meditation are with the Lord of Glory: the great­est Peers in a Kingdom, account it more honour to be in the presence of a King bareheaded, or upon the knee at Court, than to have thousands standing bare to them in the Country. When you are called to duties of communion with Christ, you are called to the greatest honour, dignified with the noblest priviledge creatures are capable of in this world: had you but a sense of that honour God puts upon you by this means, you would not need so much tugging and striving to bring a dead and backward heart into the special presence of Jesus Christ. When he saith, seek ye my face, your hearts would echo to his calls, thy face, Lord, will we seek: But alas, the glory of Christ is much hid and vailed by ignorance and un­belief from the eyes of his own people; 'tis but seldom the best of Saints, by the eye of faith, do see the King in his Glory.

Inference 8.

If Christ be so glorious, how should Believers long to be with Inference 8. him, and behold him in his glory above? Most men need pati­ence to dye, a Believer should need patience to live. Paul thought it well worth enduring the pangs of death, to get a sight of Jesus Christ in his glory, Phil. 1. 23. The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and patient waiting for of Christ, (saith the Apostle) 2 Thes. 3. 5. intimating that the Saints have great need of patience to enable them to endure the state of distance and separation from Christ, so long as they must endure it in this world. The Spirit and the Bride say come, and let him that heareth say come, and let him that is a thirst come, even so come Lord Jesus, and be thou as a swift Roe upon the Mountains of Separation.

Blessed be God for Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory.

The Fifteenth SERMON. Sermon 15.

LUKE 2. 25. Text. Opening the sixth Motive to come to Christ, con­tained in the sixth and last Ti­tile of Christ.‘—Waiting for the [Consolation] of Israel.’

SEveral Glorious Titles of Christ have been already spoken to, out of each of which, much comfort flows to Believers: 'tis comfortable to a wounded soul to eye him as a Physician: comfortable to a con­demned and unworthy soul, to look upon him under the no­tion of the Mercy. The loveliness, the desirableness, and the glory of Christ are all so many springs of Consolation. But now I am to shew you from this Scripture, that the Saints have not only much consolation from Christ, but that Christ himself is the very Consolation of Believers: he is pure comfort wrapped up in flesh and blood.

In this Context you have an account of Simeons Prophe­cie concerning Christ; and in this Text, a description of the Person, and quality of Simeon himself, who is described two wayes.

  • 1. By his Practice.
  • 2. By his Principle.

[Page 287] His practice was heavenly and holy, he was a just and devout man: the principle from which his righteousness and holiness did flow, was his faith in Christ; he waited for the consolation of Israel. In which words by way of Periphrasis we have,

  • 1. A description of Christ, the Consolation of Israel.
  • 2. The description of a Believer, one that waiteth for Christ.

First. That the Consolation of Israel is a phrase descriptive 1. of Jesus Christ is beyond all doubt, if you consult vers. 26. where he (i. e.) Simeon is satisfied by receiving Christ into his arms, the Consolation for which he had so long waited.

Secondly, And that waiting for Christ is a phrase descri­bing 2. Phrasis est Ju­daeistum tempo­ris familiaris & notissima, qua Messiae ad­ventum signifi­cabatur. Lo­dov. Capell. the Believers of those times, that preceeded the incar­nation of Christ, is past doubt; they all waited for that bles­sed day: but it was Simeons lot to fall just upon that happy nick of time, wherein the Prophecies and Promises of his in­carnation were fulfilled. Simeon and others that waited with him, were sensible that the time of the Promise was come, which could not but raise (as indeed it did) a general ex­pectation of him, John 9. 19. but Simeons faith was confirm­ed by a particular revelation, vers. 26. that he should see Christ before he saw death, which could not but greatly en­courage and raise his expectation to look out for him, whose coming would be the greatest consolation to the whole Israel of God. The Consolation. [...]. The Spirit is frequently called in Scripture, [...] the Comforter; but Christ in this place is called [...] comfort or consolation it self; the reason of both is given in John 16. 14. He shall take of mine and shew it unto you: where Christ is said to be the matter, and the Spirit, the applier of true comfort to the people of God. Now this consolation is here expressed both with a singular Emphasis [the Consolation] intimating, that there is nothing of consolation in any thing beside him: all other comforts compared with this, are not worth a naming. And as it is em­phatically expressed, so it is also limited and bounded within the compass of Gods Israel (i. e.) true Believers stiled the Is­rael of God, whether Jews or Gentiles, Gal. 6. 16. From whence the point of Doctrine is,

DOCT.

That Jesus Christ is the only Consolation of Believers, and of none besides them. Doct.

So speaks the Apostle, Phil. 3. 3. For we are the circumcisi­on, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoyce in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Those that worship God in the Spirit are sincere Believers, to such sincere Believers Christ is consolation, our rejoycing is in Christ Jesus: and they have no consolation in any thing beside him, nothing in the world can give them comfort without Christ, we have no confidence in the flesh. The Gospel is glad tidings of great joy, but that which makes it to be so, is Jesus Christ whom it imports and reveals to us, Luke 2. 10, 11. In the opening of this comfortable point, four things must be spoken to, for the right stating the method of our Discourse, viz.

  • 1. What is meant by Consolation.
  • 2. That Christ, and he only is Consolation to Believers.
  • 3. That Believers only have Consolation in Christ.
  • 4. How it comes to pass, that any Believer should be de­jected; since Christ is Consolation to all Believers.

The first thing to be opened, is the nature of Consolation, 1. which is nothing else but the cheariness of a mans spirit whereby he is upheld, and fortified against all evils felt, or feared. Con­solation is to the soul, what health is to the body after wast­ing sickness, or the reviving Spring to the earth, after a long and hard Winter: and there are three sorts of consolation, or comfort suitable to the disposition and temper of the mind, viz.

  • Natural,
  • Sinful and
  • Spiritual.

Natural Comfort is the refreshment of our natural Spirits by the good Creatures of God, Acts. 14. 17. Filling their hearts with food and gladness. Sinful Comfort is the satisfaction [Page 289] and pleasure men take in the fulfilling▪ of their lusts, by the abuse of the creatures of God, James 5. 5. Ye have lived in plea­sure upon earth, (i. e.) your life hath been a life of sensuality and sin.

Spiritual Comfort is the refreshment, peace and joy gracious souls have in Christ, by the exercise of faith, hope, and other graces, Rom. 5. 2. and this only deserves the name of true so­lid Consolation: to which four things are required.

First, That the matter thereof be some spiritual, eminent and durable good: else our consolation in it, will be but as the crackling of Thorns under a Pot; a sudden blaze, quick­ly extinct with the failing matter: Christ only gives the mat­ter of solid, durable Consolation: The righteousness of Christ, the pardon of sin, the favour of God, the hopes of glory, are the substantial materials of a Believers Consolation, Rom. 5. 2. Mat. 9. 2. Psal. 4. 6, 7. 2 Pet. 1. 8. Things are as their foundations be.

Secondly, Interest and propriety in these comfortable things, is requisite to our consolation by them, Luke 1. 47. My Spirit rejoyceth in God my Saviour. 'Tis no consolation to him that is hungry, to see a Feast; to him that is poor, to see a Trea­sure; if the one may not taste, or the other partake thereof.

Thirdly, Knowledge, and evidence of interest in some de­gree is requisite to actual consolation, though without it a man may be in the state of consolation: for that which ap­pears not, is (in point of actual comfort) as if it were not.

Fourthly, In order hereunto the work of the Spirit upon our hearts is requisite, both to give, and clear our interest in Christ, and the promises: and both these ways he is the Com­forter, The fruit of the Spirit is joy, Gal. 5. 22. And thus briefly of the nature of Consolation.

Secondly, Next I will shew you that Christ, and he only 2. is matter of Consolation to Believers: which will demonstra­tively appear by this Argument.

He that brings to their souls all that is comfortable, and removes from their souls all that is uncomfortable, must Argu. needs be the only consolation of Believers.

But Jesus Christ brings to their souls all that is comforta­ble, and removes from their souls all that is uncomfortable.

[Page 290] Therefore Christ only is the Consolation of Believers.

First, Jesus Christ brings whatsoever is comfortable to the souls of Believers. Is pardon comfortable to a person condemned? Nothing can be matter of greater comfort in this world. Why, this Christ brings to all Believers, Jer. 23. 6. And this is the name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our righteousness: this cannot but give strong consolation; righ­teousness is the foundation of peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, Rom. 14. 17. The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance for ever; Isai. 32. 17. Come to a dejected soul, labouring under the burthen of guilt, and say, Cheer up, I bring you good tidings; there is such an Estate befallen you, or such a troublesom bu­siness comfortably ended for you; alas! this will not reach the heart. If you can bring me (saith he) good news from Heaven, that my sins are forgiven, and God reconciled; how soon should I be comforted! And therefore (as one well ob­serves) this was the usual receipt with which Christ cured the souls of men and women, when he was here on earth; Son, or Daughter, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee: and indeed it is as easie to separate light and warmth from the beams of the Sun, as cheeriness and comfort from the voice of pardon.

Are the hopes and expectation of Heaven and glory comfortable? Yes sure, nothing is comfortable if this be not, Rom. 5. 2. We rejoyce in hope of the glory of God. Now, Christ brings to the souls of men all the solid grounds and foundations upon which they build their expectations of glory, Col. 1. 27. Which is Christ, in you, the hope of glory. Name any thing else that is solid matter of comfort to the souls of men, and the grounds thereof will be found in Christ, and in none but Christ; as might easily be demonstrated by the enumeration of multitudes of particular instances, which I cannot now in­sist upon.

Secondly, Jesus Christ removes fom Believers, whatever is uncomfortable; therein relieving them against all the mat­ters of their affliction and sorrow. As namely,

First, Is sin a burthen, and matter of trouble to Believers? Christ, and none but Christ removes that burthen, Rom. 7. 24, 25. O wretched man that I am, (saith sin burthened Paul) [Page 291] who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. The satisfaction of his blood, Eph. 5. 2. The sanctification of his Spirit, John 1. 5, 6. His perfect deliverance of his people from the very being of sin at last, Eph. 5. 26, 27. This relieves at present, and removes at last the matter and ground of all their troubles and sor­rows for sin.

Secondly, Do the temptations of Satan burthen Believers? O yes, by reason of temptations, they go in trouble, and heaviness of spirit. Temptation is an enemy under the walls, temptation greatly endangers, and therefore cannot but greatly afflict the souls of Believers; but Christ brings the only matter of relief against temptations. The intercession of Christ is a singular relief at present, Luke 22. 32. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and the promi­ses of Christ are a full relief for the future: The God of peace shall shortly tread Satan under your feet, Rom. 16. 20.

Thirdly, Is spiritual desertion, and the hiding of Gods face, matter of affliction, and casting down to Believers? Yes, yes, it quails their hearts, nothing can comfort them; Thou hi­dest thy face, and I was troubled, Psal. 30. 7. Outward affli­ctions do but break the skin, this touches the quick: they like rain fall only upon the Tiles, this soaks into the House; but Christ brings to Believers substantial matter of Consolation against the troubles of desertion: he himself was deserted of God for a time, that they might not be deserted for ever: in him also the relieving promises are made to Believers, that notwithstanding God may desert them for a time, yet the union betwixt him and them shall never be dissolved, Heb. 13. 5. Jer. 32. 40. Though he forsake them for a moment, in respect of evidenced favour, yet he will return again and comfort them, Isai. 54. 7. Though Satan tug hard, yet he shall never be able to pluck them out of his Fathers hand, John 10. 20. Oh what relief is this! What consolati­on is Christ to a deserted Believer!

Fourthly, Are outward afflictions matter of dejection, and trouble? Alas, who finds them not to be so? How do our hearts fail, and our spirits sink under the many smarting rods of God upon us! but our relief and consolation under them all, is in Christ Jesus: for the rod that afflicts us is in the hand [Page 292] of Christ that loveth us, Rev. 3. 19. Whom I love I rebuke and chasten: his design in affliction is our profit, Heb. 12. 10. That design of his for our good shall certainly be accom­plished, Rom. 8. 28. and after that no more afflictions for ever, Rev. 21. 3, 4. God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. So that upon the whole, two things are most evi­dent.

First, Nothing can comfort the soul without Christ: he is the soul that animates all Comforts, they would be but dead things without him. Temporal enjoyments, riches, honours, health, relations, yield not a drop of true Comfort without Christ. Spiritual enjoyments, Minister, ordinances, promi­ses, are fountains sealed, and springs shut up till Christ open them, a man may go comfortless in the midst of them all.

Secondly, No troubles, sorrows, or afflictions can deject, or sink the soul that Christ comforteth, 2 Cor. 6. 10. As sor­rowful, yet always rejoycing. A Believer may walk with a heart brim full of comfort, amidst all the troubles of this world. Christ makes the darkness of trouble, to be light round about his people. So that the conclusion stands firm, and never to be shaken; that Christ, and Christ only is the Consolation of Believers: which was the thing to be proved.

In the Third place, I am to shew you, that Believers, and 3. none but Believers can have consolation in Christ: which will convincingly appear from the consideration of those things which we laid down before, as the requisites to all true Spi­ritual Coonsolation. For,

First, No unbeliever hath the materials out of which Spi­ritual Comfort is made; which (as I there told you) must be some solid, spiritual and eternal good, as Christ and the Covenant are. What do unregenerate men rejoyce in, but trifles and meer vanities, in a thing of nought? Amos 6. 13. See how their mirth is described in Job 21. 12. They take their Timbrel and Harp, and rejoyce at the sound of the Organ. He doth not say, they take the Bible, turn to the promises, and rejoyce in Christ and the Covenant; 'tis not the melody of a good Conscience, the joy of the Holy Ghost: no, no, they have no acquaintance with such musick as that: but the re­joycing of Believers is in those things, 2 Cor. 1. 12. And this is well-built consolation which reaches the heart.

[Page 293] Secondly, I told you that propriety, and interest in Christ, and the promises is required to all Spiritual Consolation: but no unbeliever hath any title or interest in Christ, and the promises, and so they can signifie nothing to him in point of Comfort. 'Tis not another mans mony, but my own, that must feed, cloath and comfort me; nor is it ano­ther mans Christ, but my own Christ, that must justifie, save and comfort my soul.

Thirdly, You were told that evidence of a mans peace, and reconciliation with God, is necessary to his actual conso­lation, which no unbeliever can possibly have; he hath nei­ther grace within him, to make him a qualified subject of any special promise; nor any witness, or seal of the spirit to con­firm and clear his propriety in Christ: for he never seals, but where he first sanctifies. So that it is beyond all contra­diction, that Believers, and none but Believers are partakers of the Consolations that are in Christ Jesus.

Fourthly, and Lastly, There is one inquiry remains to be satisfied, namely, seeing Jesus Christ is consolation to Belie­vers, how it comes to pass that so many Believers in the world should walk so dejectedly as they do without any Spi­ritual Consolation.

First, This may not be wondred at, if we consider that the Consolations of Christ are of two sorts. Seminal and in preparation, or actual in present possession. Every Believer in the world hath the root, and seed of comfort, planted and sown for him, Psal. 97. 11. Light is sown for the righ­teous, and gladness for the upright in heart. They have Christ and the promises which are the seeds of Consolation, and will bring forth joy at last, though at present they have no actual Consolation; the seed of all joy is sown, and in due time they shall reap the full ripe fruit thereof.

Secondly, It must be remembred that interest and evidence are distinct blessings, every Believer hath interest in Christ, but every Believer hath not the evidence thereof, Isai. 50. 10. Who is among you that feareth the Lord, and obeyeth the voice of his Servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light. Eve­ry Child of God is not of sufficient age to know his Father, or take comfort in that blessed inheritance whereunto he is begotten again, 1 Pet. 1. 3, 4.

[Page 294] Thirdly, Every Believer doth not walk with like strict­ness, and exact holiness, all do not exercise faith in a like de­gree: among Christians some are strong in grace, rich in faith, strict in obedience, tender of sin to an eminent degree, these usually are owners of much Consolation: but others are weak in grace, poor in faith, comparatively careless of their hearts and ways; frequently grieving the good Spirit of God, and wounding their own Consciences (the vessel into which Spiritual Consolation is poured) and these are usually denied the joy and comfort which others abound withal.

Fourthly, The Consolations of Christ are arbitrarily dis­pensed by the Spirit who is the Comforter, and giveth to every man in such proportions and seasons as pleaseth him; whence it comes to pass, that he that is rich in comfort to day, may be poor to morrow, and contrarily the heart that is brimful of sorrow one hour, is filled with peace and joy in believing the next. Things that are necessary to the being of a Christian are fixed and stable, but things belonging only to the well-being of a Christian come and go according to the good pleasure and appointment of the Spirit. The use of all follows.

Inference 1.

Hence it follows, that the state of unbelievers is the most sad and uncomfortable state in the world: having no interest in Christ Inference 1. the Consolation of Israel. 'Tis true, they abound in Creature­comforts, they live in pleasure upon earth. Joy displaies its colours in their faces: but for all this there is not the least drop of true Consolation in any of their hearts: they have some comfort in the Creature, but none in Christ: that little they gather from the Creature now, is all their portion of joy, Luke 6. 24. Ye have received your consolation: as this is all they have, so they shall enjoy it but a little while, Job 21. 13, 17. and while they do injoy it, it's mixt with many gripes of Conscience, Job 14. 13. Even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness: whatever consolation any unbeliever speaks of besides this, is but by rote; for when the day of his distress cometh, and the terrors of [Page 295] Conscience shall awake him out of his pleasant dreams, all his sensual joys will vanish from him, and the dores of true Consolation will be all shut against him. Let him go to Je­sus Christ, knock at that dore, and say, Lord Jesus thy name is Consolation, my heart is ready to burst within me, hast thou no Consolation for me? O Lord for one drop of Spi­ritual Comfort now, but alas there is none, no not in Christ himself for any unbeliever. 'Tis Childrens bread; the Saints priviledge; comfort and grace are undivided: let him re­turn into himself, search his own Conscience for comfort, and say, O Conscience, thou art more than a thousand wit­nesses, and thousands have been comforted by thee: where thou speakest comfort, none can speak trouble, hast thou no Consolation for me in my deepest distress? Alas, no, if God condemn thee, wherewithal shall I comfort thee? I can speak neither more nor less than the Scriptures put in­to my mouth, and I find not one word in all the Book of God warranting me to be thy Comforter: believe it as an undoubted truth, (though the sense of the bewitched world over-rules it) that the state of unbelievers, even at the best, is a sad and dismal state.

Inference 2.

Let all Believers fetch all their Comfort out of Christ, who is Inference 2. the Consolation of his people: we rejoice (saith the Apostle) in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. That's the true temper of a believing soul: Take heed you live not partly upon Christ, and partly upon the Creature for your Comfort; much rather beware that you forsake not Christ the fountain of living waters, and hew out Cisterns for your selves which can hold no water, Jer. 2. 13. If you make any Creature the spring and fountain of your comfort, as­suredly God will dry up that spring: if your souls draw their Comfort from any Creature, you know they must out­live that Creature, and what then will you do for Comfort? Beside, as your Comforts are, so are you. The food of eve­ry Creature is suitable to its nature. You see divers Crea­tures feeding upon several parts of the same herb; the Bee upon the flower, the Bird upon the seed, the Sheep upon the [Page 296] stalk, and the Swine upon the root; according to their na­ture, so is their food: sensual men feed upon sensual things: spiritual men upon spiritual things; as your food is, so are you. If carnal comforts can content thy heart, sure thy heart must then be a very carnal heart: yea, and let Christians them­selves take heed, that they fetch not their Consolations out of themselves instead of Christ. Your graces and duties are excellent means and instruments, but not the ground­work, and foundation of your Comfort: they are useful buckets to draw, but not the well it self in which the springs of consolation rise. If you put your duties in the room of Christ, Christ will put your comforts out of the reach of your duties.

Inference 3.

If Christ be the Consolation of Believers, what a comfortable Inference 3. life should all Believers live in this world? Certainly if the fault be not your own, you might live the happiest and comforta­blest lives of all men in the world. If you would not be a discomfort to Christ, he would be a comfort to you every day, and in every condition to the end of your lives: your condition abounds with all the helps and advantages of con­solation: you have the command of Christ to warrant your comforts, Phil. 4. 4. You have the Spirit of Christ for a spring of comfort, you have the Scriptures of Christ for the rules of comfort: you have the duties of Religion for the means of comfort: why is it then that you go comfortless? If your afflictions be many in the world, yet your encouragements be more in Christ: your troubles in the world may be turned into joy, but your comforts in Christ can never be turn­ed into trouble. Why should troubles obstruct your com­fort, when the blessing of Christ upon your troubles makes them subservient to promote your happiness? Rom. 8. 28. Shake off despondency then, and live up to the principles of Religion: your dejected life is uncomfortable to your selves, and of very ill use to others.

Inference 4.

If Christ be the Consolation of Believers, then let all that de­sire Inference 4. comfort in this world, or in that to come, imbrace Jesus Christ, and get real union with him. The same hour you shall be in Christ, you shall also be at the fountain head of all Conso­lations. Thy soul shall be then a pardoned soul, and a par­doned soul hath all reason in the world to be a joyful soul: in that day thy Conscience shall be sprinkled with the blood of Christ, and a sprinkled Conscience hath all the reason in the world to be a comforting Conscience: in that day you become the Children of your Father in Heaven; and he that hath a Father in Heaven, hath all reason to be the joyfullest man upon earth: in that day you are delivered from the sting and hurt of death; and he that is delivered from the sting of death, hath the best reason to take in the comfort of life. O come to Christ, come to Christ; till you come to Christ, no true comfort can come to you.

The Sixteenth SERMON. Sermon 16.

EPHES. 1. 7. Text. Enforcing the general exhortati­on by a se­venth mo­tive drawn from the first benefit purchased by Christ.‘In whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace.’

SIx great Motives have been presented already from the Titles of Christ, to draw the hearts of sinners to him: more are now to be offered from the benefits re­dounding to Believers by Christ. Essaying by all means to win the hearts of men to Christ. To this end I shall in the first place open that glorious priviledge of Gospel remission; freely and fully conferred upon all that come to Christ by faith, in whom we have redemption by faith, &c.

In which words we have first a singular benefit, or choice mercy bestowed, viz. Redemption; interpreted by way of apposition, the remission of sins: this is a priviledge of the first rank, a mercy by it self: none sweeter, none more desirable among all the benefits that come by Christ. And therefore,

[Page 299] Secondly, You have the price of this mercy, an account what it cost, even the blood of Christ; in whom we have redem­ption [through his blood] Precious things are of great price, the blood of Christ is the meritorious cause of remission.

Thirdly, You have here also the impulsive cause, moving God to grant pardons at this rate to sinners, and that is said to be the riches of his grace. Where by the way you see, that the freeness of the grace of God, and the fulness of the sa­tisfaction of Christ meet together without the least jar in the remission of sin; contrary to the vain cavil of the Socinian adversaries, In whom we have redemption, even the remission of sins, according to the riches of his grace.

Fourthly, You have the qualified subjects of this blessed priviledge, viz. Believers, in whose name he here speaks [we] have remission, (i. e.) we the Saints, and faithful in Christ Jesus, vers. 1. we whom he hath chosen in Christ be­fore the foundation of the world, and predestinated unto the adoption of Children, vers. 4, 5. we that are made ac­cepted in the beloved, vers. 6. 'tis we, and we only who have redemption through his blood.

Hence observe,

DOCT.

That all Believers, and none but Believers, receive the remis­sion Doct. of their sins through the riches of grace, by the blood of Je­sus Christ.

In the explication of this point, three things must be spo­ken to.

  • 1. That all that are in Christ are in a pardoned state.
  • 2. That their pardon is the purchase of the blood of Christ.
  • 3. That the riches of Grace are manifested in remis­sion.

First, That all that are in Christ are in a pardoned state: where I will first shew you what pardon or the remission of sin is.

[Page 300] Secondly, That this is the priviledge of none but Belie­vers.

First, Now remission of sin is the gracious act of God, in and through Christ, discharging a believing sinner from all the guilt and punishment of his sin, both temporal and eternal.

'Tis the act of God, he is the author of remission, none can forgive sins but God only, Mark 2. 7. against him on­ly (i. e.) principally and essentially the offence is com­mitted, Psal. 51. 4. To his Judgement guilt binds over the soul, and who can remit the debt, but the Creditor, Mat. 6. 12.

'Tis an act of God discharging the sinner: it is Gods loosing of one that stood bound, the cancelling of his bond, or obligation: called therefore remission, or releasing in the Text: the blotting out of our iniquities, or the removing our sins from us, as it's called in other Scriptures, see Psal. 103. 11. Mica. 7. 18, 19.

It is a gracious act of God, the effect of pure grace, done for his own name sake, Isai. 43. 25. discharging us without any satisfaction at all by us; there is much grace in that: and providing a surety for us every way able to pay our debt, there is more grace in that.

'Tis the gracious act of God in and through Christ: the satisfaction of Christ is the procuring cause of our remission, and so God declares himself just in the remission of our sin, Rom. 3, 25. Gracious is the Lord and righteous, Psal. 116. 5. Justice and mercy meet here, and embrace each other: in whom (saith the Text) we have remission: no other price could purchase this priviledge, Micah 6. 6, 7. not rivers of Oyl, or humane Blood.

And this gracious act of God discharges the pardoned soul both from guilt and punishment: guilt is nothing else but the force and power that is in sin, to oblige the sinner to undergo the penalty due to sin. Therefore sinners are said to be guilty of Hell-fire, Mat. 5. 22. Guilty of eternal judge­ment, Mark 3. 29. to be under the judgement of God, Rom. 3. 19. Remission takes away both guilt and punishment to­gether, it takes away all guilt, Acts 13. 38, 39. and all pu­nishment. And so much of the first thing to be opened, namely what the remission of sin is.

[Page 301] Secondly, Now that this remission of sin is the priviledge of Believers is most apparent, for all the causes of remission are in conjunction to procure it for them. The love of God which is the impulsive cause of pardon: the blood of Christ which is the meritorious cause of pardon; and saving faith which is the instrumental cause of pardon, do all cooperate for their remission, as is plain in the Text.

Besides, all the promises of pardon are made to them, Jer. 31. 34. Micah 7. 18. and Lastly, All the signs of pardon are sound in them, and in them only, that love God, Luk. 7. 47. mercisulness to others, Mat. 6. 14. a blessed calmness and peace in the Conscience, Rom. 5. 1. So that it is a truth beyond con­troversie, that all that are in Christ are in a pardoned state.

Secondly, Next I will shew you, that the Pardon of Belie­vers 2. is the purchase of the blood of Christ: nothing but the blood of Christ is a price equivalent to the remission of sin, for this blood was innocent and untainted blood, 1 Pet. 1. 19. the blood of a Lamb without spot. This blood was precious blood, blood of infinite worth and value, the blood of God, Acts 20. 28. it was prepared blood for this very purpose, Heb. 10. 5. prepared by Gods eternal appointment: prepared by Christs miraculous and extraordinary producti­on; by the operation of the Spirit: prepared by his volun­tary sequestration, or sanctification of himself to this very use and purpose.

The blood of Jesus is not only innocent, precious and pre­pared blood, but it is also blood actually shed and sacrificed to the justice of God, for the expiation of guilt, and pro­curement of our discharge, Isai. 53. 5. To conclude, the se­vere justice of God could put in no exception against the blood of Christ, 'tis unexceptionable blood, being (as be­fore was noted) untainted by sin, and dignified above all estimation by the person whose blood it was. Justice requi­red no less, and could demand no more: and this is the price at which our pardons are purchased: and without which no sin could be pardoned, for without shedding of blood (such blood as this) there is no remission, Heb. 9. 22.

Thirdly, The last thing to be opened is, That God hath 3. manifested the riches of his grace in the remission of our sins: so speaks the Apostle, Rom. 5. 20. Where sin abounded grace did [Page 302] much more abound: And 1 Tim. 1. 14. The grace of our Lord (viz. in the pardon of sin) was exceeding abundant. Which will appear (if we bring our thoughts close to the matter) in several particulars.

First, From the nature of the mercy, which is the richest of all mercies, except Christ, the purchaser of it: no mercy sweeter than a pardon to a condemned sinner. No pardon like Gods pardon, to a man condemned at his Bar: all the goodness of God is made to pass before our eyes in his par­doning acts of grace, Exod. 33. 19.

Secondly, The very riches of grace must needs be in the pardon of sin, if we consider the method in which pardons are dispensed, which is (as the Text speaks) through his blood. Herein God commends his love to us, Rom. 5. 8. he commends it more, than if he had pardoned sin without such a sacrifice, for then he had only displayed his mercy; but not caused Mercy and Justice to meet and triumph together.

Thirdly, The riches of his grace shines forth in the peculi­arity of the mercy. Remission is no common favour, it was never extended to the fallen Angels, nor to the far greater part of the children of men, but only to a little flock, a small remnant of mankind, Luke 12. 32. Joh. 17. 9.

Fourthly, The riches of grace are manifested in remis­sion, if we consider the subjects of this priviledge, who are not only equally plunged into sin and misery with others by nature, Eph. 2. 3. but many of the Lords pardoned ones are actually guilty of deeper-died abominations, than many un­pardoned ones in the civilized world are defiled with. To me (saith Paul) the greatest of sinners, one that was before a blasphemer, a persecutor, &c. yet to me is this grace given. I obtained mercy, 1 Tim. 1. 15. and such were some of you, but ye are justified, 1 Cor. 6. 11. Yea, God singles out the most base, despised, poor, and contemptible ones among men, to be the subjects of this glorious priviledge, 1 Cor. 1. 26. You see your calling brethren, &c.

Fifthly, More of the riches of grace still appears if we view the latitude and extent of this act of grace. Oh how innumerable are our transgressions! Who can understand his errors? Psal. 19. 12. Yet the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin, 1 Joh. 1. 7. Small and great sins, open and secret sins, old [Page 303] and new sins; all pardoned without exception. O the riches of grace! O the unsearchable goodness of God! With the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption; and he shall redeem Israel from all his Iniquities, Psal. 130. 7, 8.

Sixthly, and lastly, The riches of Grace shine forth in the irrevocableness and perpetuity of remission: as grace pardons all sins without exception, so the pardons it bestows are with­out revocation. The pardoned soul shall never come into con­demnation, Joh. 5. 24. As far as the East is from the West, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us, Psal. 103. 10. The East and West are the two opposite points of Heaven, which can never come together; neither shall the pardoned soul and its sins ever meet any more. Thou hast cast (saith Hezekiah) all my sins behind thy back. The penitent Believer sets his sins before his face, but the merciful God casts them all behind his back, never to behold them more, so as to charge them upon his pardoned people. And thus you see, what the pardon of sin is, what the price that purchaseth pardon is; and what riches of grace God manifesteth in the remission of Believers sins: which were the things to be ex­plained and opened in the Doctrinal part. The improvement of the whole you will have in the following Uses.

Inference 1.

If this be so that all Believers, and none but Believers re­ceive Inference 1. the remission of their sins through the riches of grace, by the blood of Christ: What a happy condition then are Belie­vers in! Those that never felt the load of sin, may make light of a pardon, but so cannot you that have been in the deeps of trouble and fear about it: those that have been upon the rack of an accusing and condemning Conscience, as David, Heman, and many of the Saints have been, can never sufficiently value a pardon. Blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered; blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, Psal. 32. 1, 2. or, O the blessednesses and felicities of the pardoned man! as the Hebrew sounds. Remission cannot but appear the wonder of [...] mercies, if we consider through what difficulties the grace of God makes way for it to our souls; what strong bars the [Page 304] love of God breaks asunder, to open our way to this privi­ledge: for there can be no pardon without a Mediator: no other Mediator but the Son of God: the Son of God can­not discharge our debts but by taking them upon himself as our surety, and making full payment by bearing the wrath of God for us; and when all this is done, there can be no actual pardon, except the spirit of grace open our blind eyes, break our hard hearts, and draw them to Christ in the way of believing. And as the mercy of remission comes to us through wonderful difficulties, so it is in it self a com­pleat and perfect mercy. God would not be at such vast ex­pence of the riches of his grace, Christ would not lay out the invaluable treasures of his precious blood to procure a cheap and common blessing for us. Rejoyce then ye par­doned souls, God hath done great things for you, for which you have cause to be glad.

Inference 2.

Hence it follows, That interest in Christ by faith brings the Inference 2. Conscience of a Believer into a state of rest and peace, Rom. 5. 1. Being justified by faith we have peace with God. I say not that eve­ry Believer is presently brought into actual peace and tran­quillity of Conscience, there may be many fears, and much trouble even in a pardoned soul: but this is an undoubted truth, that faith brings the pardoned soul into that conditi­on and state where he may find perfect rest in his Consci­ence, with respect to the guilt and danger of sin. The blood of Christ sprinkles us from an evil (that is an accusing, con­demning) Conscience. We are apt to fear, that this or that special sin, which hath most terrified and affrighted our Con­sciences, is not forgiven: but if there be riches enough in the grace of God, and efficacy enough in the blood of Christ; then the sins of Believers, all their sins, great as well as small, one as well as another without limitation or exception are pardoned.

For let us but consider, if God remits no sin to any man, but with respect to the blood of Christ, then all sins are pardon­ed as well as any one sin; because the dignity and desert of that blood is infinite, and as much deserves an universal par­don [Page 305] for all sins, as the particular pardon of any, even the least sin. Moreover, remission is an act of Gods Fatherly love in Christ, and if it be so, then certainly no sin of any Believer can be retained or excluded from pardon: for then the same soul should be in the favour of God so far as it is pardoned, and out of the favour of God, so far as it is un­pardoned; and all this at one and the same instant of time, which is a thing both repugnant to it self, and to the whole stream of the Gospel.

To Conclude, what is the design and end of remission, but the saving of the pardoned soul? But if any sin be re­tained or excluded from pardon, the retaining of that sin must needs irritate and void the pardon of all other sins; and so the acts of God must cross and contradict each other; and the design and end of God miscarry and be lost, which can never be. So then we conclude, faith brings the believing soul into a state of rest and peace.

Inference 3.

Hence it also follows, That no remission is to be expected by any Inference 3. soul without interest by faith in Jesus Christ: no Christ no pardon, no faith no Christ. Yet how apt are many poor deluded souls to expect pardon in that way where never any soul yet did, or ever can meet it? Some look for pardon from the absolute mercy of God, without any regard to the blood of Christ, or their interest therein: we have sinned, but God is merciful. Some expect remission of sin by vertue of their own duties, not Christs merits. I have sinned but I will repent, restore, reform, and God will pardon: but little do such men know how they therein diminish the evil of sin, undervalue the justice of God, slight the blood of Christ, and put an undo­ing cheat upon their own souls for-ever: to expect pardon from absolute mercy, or our own duties, is to knock at the wrong dore, which God hath shut up to all the world, Rom. 3. 20. Whilst these two principles abide firm, that the price of pardon is only in the blood of Christ, and the benefit of pardon only by the application of his blood to us; this must remain a sure conclusion, that no remission is to be expected by any soul without interest by faith in Jesus Christ. Repen­tance, [Page 306] restitution and reformation are excellent duties in their kind, and in their proper places; but they were never meant for saviours or satisfactions to God for sin.

Inference 4.

If the riches of grace be thus manifested in the pardon of sin, Inference 4. how vile an abuse is it of the grace of God to take the more liberty to sin, because grace abounds in the pardon of it!

Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid, Rom. 6. 1, 2. Will no cheaper stuff than the grace of God serve to make a cloak for sin? O vile abuse of the most excel­lent thing in the whole world! did Christ shed his blood to expiate our guilt, and dare we make that a plea to extenuate our guilt? God forbid.

If it be intolerable ingratitude among men to requite good with evil, sure that sin must want a name bad enough to ex­press it, which puts the greatest dishonour upon God for the greatest mercy that ever was given by God to the world: there is mercy with thee (saith the Psalmist) that thou maist be feared, not that thou maist be the more abused, Psal. 130. 4. Nay, let me say the Devils never sinned at this rate: they cannot abuse the pardoning grace of God, because such grace was never offered unto them. And certainly if the abuse of the common mercies of God, as meat and drink by gluttony and drunkenness, be an hainous sin, and highly provo­king to God: then the abuse of the riches of his grace, and the precious blood of his Son must be out of measure sinful; and the greatest affront we can put upon the God of mercy.

Inference 5.

To Conclude, If this be so, as ever you expect pardon and Inference 5. mercy from God, come to Christ in the way of faith; receive and embrace him now in the tenders of the Gospel.

To drive home this great Exhortation, I beseech you, as in the bowels of Christ Jesus, and by all the regard and va­lue you have for your own souls, let these following Conside­rations sink down into your hearts.

[Page 307] First, That all Christless persons are actually under the condemnation of God, John 3. 18. He that believeth not is condemned already: and it must needs be so, for every soul is concluded under the curse of the Law, till Christ make him free, John 8. 36. Till we are in Christ, we are dead by Law, and when we believe unto justification, then we pass from death to life. A blind mistaken Conscience may possibly acquit you, but assure your selves God condemns you.

Secondly, Consider what a terrible thing it is to lye under the condemnation of God, the most terrible things in nature cannot shadow forth the misery of such a state. Put all sicknes­ses, all poverty, all reproaches, the torments invented by all Ty­rants into one Scale, and the condemnation of God into the other; and they will be all found lighter than a Feather. Condemnation is the sentence of God, the great and terri­ble God: 'Tis a sentence shutting you up to everlasting wrath; 'tis a sentence never to be reversed, but by the appli­cation of Christ in the season thereof. O souls, you cannot bear the wrath of God, you do not understand it if you think it tolerable: one drop of it upon your Consciences now, is enough to distract you in the midst of all the pleasures and comforts of this world: yet all that are out of Christ are sentenced to the fulness of Gods wrath for ever.

Thirdly, There is yet a possibility of escaping the wrath to come: a dore of hope opened to the worst of sinners: a day of grace is afforded to the Children of men, Heb. 3. 15. God declares himself unwilling that any should perish, 2 Pet. 3. 9. O what a mercy is this! Who that is on this side Heaven or Hell fully understands the worth of it?

Fourthly, This dore of mercy will be shortly shut, Luk. 12. 25. God hath many ways to shut it: he sometimes shuts it by withdrawing the means of grace, and removing the Candle­sticks, a judgement at this time to be greatly feared. Some­times shuts he it by withdrawing his Spirit and blessing from the means, whereby all Ordinances lose their efficacy, 1 Cor. 3. 7. But if he shut it not by removing the means of grace from you, certain it is, it will be shortly shut by your removal from all the means and opportunities by Salvation by death.

Fifthly, When once the dore of mercy is shut, you are gone beyond all the possibilities of pardon and salvation, for [Page 308] evermore: the night is then come, in which no man can work, John 9. 4. All the golden seasons you now enjoy will be irrecoverably gone out of your reach.

Sixthly, Pardons are now daily granted to others: some (and they once as far from mercy as you now are) are at this day reading their pardons with tears of joy dropping up­on them. The world is full of the examples and instances of the riches of pardoning grace. And whatever is needful for you to do in the way of repentance, and faith to obtain your pardon; how easily shall it be done, if once the day of Gods power come upon you? Psal. 110. 3. Oh therefore lift up your cries to Heaven, give the Lord no rest, take no de­nial till he open the blind eye, break the stony heart, open and bow the stubborn will, effectually draw thy soul to Christ; and deliver thy pardon signed in his blood.

The Seventeenth SERMON. Sermon 17.

EPHES. 1. 6. Text. Opening the eighth motive to come to Christ, drawn from the se­cond bene­fit purcha­sed by Christ for Believers.‘To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.’

IN our last discourse we opened to you the blessed pri­viledge of remission of sin from the following verse; in this verse lies another glorious priviledge, viz. the acceptation that Believers have with God through Jesus Christ: both which comprise (as the two main branches) our justification before God. In the words read (to omit many things that might be profitably observed from the method and dependance of the Apostles discourse) three par­ticulars are observable,

viz.
  • 1. The Priviledge it self.
  • 2. The Meritorous Cause.
  • 3. The ultimate end thereof.

First, The priviledge it self, which is exceeding rich and 1. sweet in its own nature; he hath made us accepted: the word [Page 310] is [...] he hath ingratiated us, or brought us into the grace, favour and acceptance of God the Father; en­deared us to him, so that we find grace in his sight.

Secondly, The meritorious cause purchasing and procuring this benefit for us, noted in these words, [...], in 2. the beloved; which words are a periphrasis of Christ, who is here emphatically called the Beloved, the great favorite of Heaven, the delight of Gods soul, the prime object of his love: 'tis he that obtaineth this benefit for Believers: he is accepted for his own sake, and we for his.

Thirdly, The ultimate end and aim of conferring this be­nefit upon Believers: to the praise of the glory of his grace: or 3. to the end that his grace might be made glorious in praises: there are riches of grace in this act of God, and the work and business of Believers, both in this world and in that to come, is to search and admire, aknowledge, and magnifie God for his abundant grace herein.

Hence the note is,

DOCT.

That Jesus Christ hath purchased and procured special favour Doct. and acceptation with God for all that are in him.

This point lies plain in Scripture, Ephes. 2. 13. But now in Jesus Christ, ye who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ, [...], made nigh, a term of en­dearedness: nothing is taken into the very bosom and em­braces but what is very dear, precious and acceptable: and in Rev. 1. 5, 6. Believers are said to be made by Jesus Christ, Kings and Priests unto God, and his Father, (i. e.) dignified favourites, upon whom the special marks of honour are set by God.

In the opening of this point, three things must be doctri­nally discussed and opened.

viz.
  • 1. What the acceptation of our persons with God is.
  • 2. How it appears that Believers are so accepted with God.
  • 3. How Christ the beloved procures this benefit for Believers.

[Page 311] First, What the acceptation of our persons with God is? 1. To open which, we must remember, that there is a twofold acceptance of persons noted in Scripture.

  • 1. One is the sinful act of a corrupt man.
  • 2. The other the gracious act of a merciful God.

First, accepting of persons is noted in Scripture as the sin­ful act of a corrupt man: a thing which God abhors: being the corruption and abuse of that power and authority which men have in judgement: overlooking the merit of the cause through sinful respect to the quality of the person, whose cause it is. So that the cause doth not commend the per­son, but the person the cause: this God every where brands in men, as a vile perverting of judgement, and utterly dis­claims it himself, Gal. 2. 6. God accepteth no mans person: Rom. 2. 11. There is no respect of persons with God.

Secondly, There is also an accepting of persons, which is the gracious act of a merciful God; whereby he receives both the persons and duties of Believers into special grace and favour for Christs sake: and of this my Text speaks. In which act of favour three things are supposed or included.

First, It supposes an estate of alienation and enmity: those only are accepted into favour that were out of favour; and indeed so stood the case with us, Ephes. 2. 12, 13. Ye were aliens and strangers, but now in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were afar off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. So the Apostle Peter, in 1 Pet. 2. 10. Which in time past were not a people, but now are the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. The fall made a fearful breach be­twixt God and man. Sin like a thick cloud intercepted all the beams of divine favour from us: the satisfaction of Christ dissolves that cloud, Isai. 44. 22. I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy transgressions, and as a cloud thy sins: This dark cloud thus dissolved, the face of God shines forth again with chearful beams of favour and love upon all, who by faith are interested in Jesus Christ.

Secondly, It includes the removing of guilt from the per­sons of Believers, by the imputation of Christs righteousness [Page 312] to them, Rom. 5. 1, 2. Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand: for the face of God cannot shine upon the wicked: the person must be first made righteous before it can be made accepted.

Thirdly, it includes the offering up, or tendering of our persons and duties to God by Jesus Christ. Accepting im­plies presenting or tendring: Believers indeed do present themselves to God, Rom. 12. 1. but Christs presenting them makes their tender of themselves acceptable to the Lord, Col. 1. 22. In the body of his flesh through death to present you holy, and unblameable, and unreproveable in his sight. Christ leads every Believer as it were by the hand, into the graci­ous presence of God; after this manner bespeaking acce­ptance for him. ‘Father, here is a poor soul that was born in sin, hath lived in Rebellion against thee all his days; he hath broken all thy laws, and deserved all thy wrath; yet he is one of that number which thou gavest me before the world was. I have made full payment by my blood for all his sins. I have opened his eyes to see the sinfulness, and misery of his condition: broken his heart for his rebellions against thee: bowed his will in obedience unto thy will: united him to my self by faith, as a living member of my body. And now, Lord, since he is become mine by rege­neration, let him be thine also by special acceptation: let the same love with which thou lovest me, embrace him al­so who is now become mine.’ And so much for the first particular, viz. what acceptation with God is.

Secondly, In the next place I must shew you how it ap­pears 2. that Believers are thus ingratiated or brought into the special favour of God by Jesus Christ. And this will be evi­denced divers ways.

First, By the Titles of love and endearedness with which the Lord graceth and honoureth Believers, who are some­times called the houshold of God, Ephes. 2. 19. the friends of God, Jam. 2. 23. the dear Children of God, Ephes. 5. 1. the peculiar people of God, 1 Pet. 2. 9. A Crown of Glory, and a Royal Diadem in the hand of their God, Isai. 62. 3. the ob­jects of his delight and pleasure, Psal. 147. 10, 11. Oh what tearms of endearedness doth God use towards his people! [Page 313] Doth not all this speak them to be in special favour with him? Which of all these alone doth not signifie a person highly in favour with God?

Secondly, The gracious manner in which he treats them upon the throne of grace, to which he allows them to come with boldness, Heb. 4. 16. This also speaks them in the spe­cial favour of God: he allows them to come to him in prayer, with the liberty, confidence and filial boldness of children to a Father, Gal. 4. 6. Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying Abba, Fa­ther: the familiar voice of a dear child: yea, which is a won­derful dignation and condescension of the great God to poor worms of the earth, he saith, Isai. 45. 11. Thus saith the Lord the holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me: an expression so full of grace and special favour to Believers, that it needs great caution in reading and understanding such an high and astonishing expression: the meaning is, that God hath as it were subjected the works of his hands to the prayers of his Saints: and it is as if he had said, If my glory, and your necessity shall require it, do but ask me in prayer, and whatever my almighty power can do, I will do it for you: however let no favourite of Heaven forget the infinite distance betwixt himself and God. Abraham was a great fa­vourite of Heaven, and was called the friend of God, yet see with what humility of spirit, and reverential awe he ad­dresseth to God, Gen. 18. 27. Behold now I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes. So that you see the Titles of favour above mentioned are no empty Titles.

Thirdly, Gods readiness to grant, as well as their liberty to ask speaks them the special favourites of God. The heart of God is so propense, and ready to grant the desires of Be­lievers, that it is but ask and have, Mat. 7. 7. the dore of grace is opened at the knock of prayer: that is a favourite indeed to whom the King gives a blank to insert what request he will: If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you; ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you, John 15. 7. Oh blessed liberty of the sons of God! David did but say, Lord turn the Counsel of Ahitophel into foolishness, and it was done [Page 314] as soon as asked, 2 Sam. 15. 31. Joshua did but say, Thou Sun stand still in Gibeon: and a miraculous stop was presently put to its swift motion in the Heavens: nay, which is wonderful to consider, a prayer in the womb, yet unborn, I mean con­ceived in the heart, and not yet uttered by the lips of Be­lievers, is often anticipated by the propenseness of free grace, Isai. 65. 24. And it shall come to pass that before they call I will answer, and whilst they are yet speaking I will hear. The prayers of others are rejected as an abomination, Prov. 15. 8. God casts them back into their-faces, Mal. 2. 3. But free grace signs the petitions of the Saints more readily, than they are presented: we have not that freedom to ask, that God hath to give: 'tis true, the answer of a Believers prayers may be a long time suspended from his sense and knowledge; but every prayer according to the will of God is presently granted in Heaven, though for wise and holy ends they may be held in a doubtful suspense about them up­on earth.

Fourthly, The free discoveries of the secrets of Gods heart to Believers▪ speaks them to be his special favourites: men open not the counsels and secrets of their own hearts to enemies or strangers, but to their most inward and intimate friends: The secret of the Lord is-with them that fear him, and he will shew them his Covenant, Psal. 25. 14. When God was about to destroy Sodom, he will do nothing in that work of judgement till he had acquainted Abraham, his friend, with his purpose therein, Gen. 18. 17. And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do? for I know him, &c. So when a King was to be elected for Israel, and the person whom God had chosen, was yet unknown to the people, God as it were whispered that secret unto Samuel the day before, 1 Sam. 9. 15. Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came: according to the manner of Princes with some special favourite.

Fifthly, The Lords receiving every small thing that comes from them with grace and favour, when (mean while) he re­jects the greatest things offered by others, doth certainly be­speak Believers the special favourites of God. There was but one good word in a whole sentence from Sarah, and that very word is noted and commended by God, 1 Pet. 3. 6. She called [Page 315] him Lord. There were but some small beginnings or buddings of grace in young Abijah, and the Lord took special notice of it, 1 Kings 14. 12. Because in him there is found some good thing toward the Lord God of Israel in the house of Jeroboam. Let this be an encouragement to young ones, in whom there are found any breathing desires after Christ: God will not re­ject them if any sincerity be found in them: a secret groan uttered to God in sincerity shall not be despised, Rom. 8. 26. The very bent of a Believers will when he hath no more to offer unto God is an acceptable present, 2 Cor. 8. 11. The very intent and purpose that lies secretly in the heart of a Believer, not yet executed, is accepted with him, 1 Kings 8. 18. Where as it was in thine heart to build an house to my name, thou didst well that it was in thine heart. Thus small things offered to God by Believers find acceptance with him, whilst the greatest presents, even solemn assemblies, Sabbaths and prayers from others are rejected: They are a trouble unto me (saith God) I am weary to bear them, Isai. 1. 14, 15. In­cense from Sheba, the sweet Cane from a far Country are not acceptable, nor sacrifices sweet unto God from other hands, Jer. 6. 20. From all which it appears beyond doubt, that the persons and duties of Believers are accepted into the special favour of God by Jesus Christ: which was the second thing to be spoken to, and brings us to the third general, viz.

Thirdly, How Christ the Beloved procures this benefit for 3. Believers? And this he doth four ways.

First, By the satisfaction of his blood, Rom. 5. 10. When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son. No friendship without reconciliation, no reconciliation but by the blood of Christ: therefore the new and living way by which Believers come unto God with acceptance, is said to be consecrated for us through the veil of Christs flesh, and hence believers have boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, Heb. 10. 19, 20.

Secondly, The favour of God is procured for Believers, by their mystical union with Christ, whereby they are made mem­bers of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones, Eph. 5. 30. So that look as Adams posterity stood upon the same terms that he their natural head did; so Believers Christs mystical members stand in the favour of God, by the favour which [Page 316] Christ their spiritual head hath, John 17. 33. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Thirdly, Believers are brought into favour with God by Christs becoming their Altar, upon which their persons and du­ties are all offered up to God: the Altar sanctifies the gift, Heb. 13. 10. And this was typified by that legal rite menti­oned, Luke 1. 9, 10. Christ is that golden Altar from whence all the prayers of the Saints ascend to the throne of God, per­fumed with the odours and incense of his merits, Rev. 8. 34. And another Angel came and stood at the Altar, having a golden Censer, and there was given unto him much incense that he should offer it, with the prayers of all Saints upon the golden Altar which was before the Throne; and the smoak of the incense which came with the prayers of the Saints ascended up before God, out of the Angels hand. And thus you see how the persons and duties of Believers are brought into favour and accep­tance with God by Jesus Christ. The Uses follow.

Inference 1.

If all Believers be in favour with God, how great a mercy is Inference 1. it to have the prayers of such ingaged on our behalf? Would we have our business speed in Heaven, let us get into favour with God our selves, and engage the prayers of his people, the favourites of Heaven, for us: vis unita fortior, one Belie­ver can do much, many can do more: when Daniel designed to get the knowledge of that secret hinted in the obscure dream of the King, which none but the God of Heaven could make known, it's said, Dan. 2. 17. Then Daniel went to his House, and made the thing known to Hanania, Mishael and Aza­ria his Companions; that they would desire mercies of the God of Heaven concerning this secret. The benefit of such assistance in prayer by the help of other favourites with God, is plainly intimated by Jesus Christ unto us, Mat. 18. 19. If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in Heaven. God sometimes stands upon a number of voices, for the carrying of some publick mercy; because he delighteth in the harmo­ny [Page 317] of many praying souls, and also loves to oblige and gra­tifie many in the answer and return of the same prayer. I know this usage is grown too formal and complemental among Professors: but certainly it is a great advantage to be inward with them, who are so with God. St. Bernard prescribing rules for effectual prayer, closes them up with this wish, & cum talis fueris, memento mei, when thy heart is in this frame, then remember me.

Inference 2.

If Believers be such favourites in Heaven, in what a desperate Inference 2. condition is that Cause, and those Persons against whom the gene­rality of Believers are daily engaged in prayers and cries to Heaven?

Certainly Rome shall feel the dint and force of the many millions of prayers that are gone up to Heaven from the Saints for many generations: the cries of the blood of the Martyrs of Jesus, joyned with the cries of thousands of Be­lievers will bring down vengeance at last upon the Man of sin. 'Tis said, Rev. 8. 4, 5, 6. That the smoak of the incense which came with the prayers of the Saints, ascended up before God out of the Angels hand: and immediately it is added, vers. 5. And the Angel took the Censer, and filled it with fire of the Altar, and cast it into the earth, and there were voices, and thunderings, and lightnings, and earth-quakes, and the seven Angels, which had the seven Trumpets, prepared themselves to sound. The prayer of a single Saint is sometimes followed with wonderful effects, Psal. 18. 6, 7. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cryed unto my God: he heard my voice out of his Temple, and my cry came before him even into his ears: then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the hills moved, and were shaken because he was wroth: what then can a thundring legion of such praying souls do! It was said of Luther, iste vir potuit cum Deo quicquid voluit, that man could have of God what he would, his enemies felt the weight of his prayers, and the Church of God reaped the benefits thereof. The Queen of Scots professed she was more afraid of the Prayers of Mr. Knox, than of an army of ten thousand men: these were mighty wrestlers with God, how­soever [Page 318] contemned and vilified among their enemies. There Jacobus Lani­gius, the Sor­bone Doctor, who wrote the lives of Luther, Knox and Calvin, speaks as if the Devil had hired his pen to abuse those precious servants of Christ. will a time come when God will hear the prayers of his peo­ple, who are continually crying in his ears, How long Lord, how long.

Inference 3.

Let no Believer be dejected at the contempts and slightings of Inference 3. men, so long as they stand in the grace and favour of God: it is the lot of the best men to have the worst usage in this world: those of whom the world was not worthy, are not thought [...] (i. e) the sweepings of the house: the filth wiped off any thing: Erasmus, the dirt that sticks to the Shoos: Valla, the dung of the Belly as the Syriack translates. The condem­ned man that was tumbled from a steep Rock into the Sea, as a sacri­fice to Nep­tune, was call­ed [...], saith Budeus. Sit pro nobis [...]. worthy to live in the world, Heb. 11. 38. Paul and his Com­panions were men of choice and excellent spirits, yet saith he, 1 Cor 4. 13. Being defamed we intreat, we are made as the filth of the world, and are the off-scouring of all things unto this day: they are words signifying the basest, contemptiblest and most abhorred things among men. How is Heaven and Earth divided in their Judgements and estimations of the Saints! those whom men call filth and dirt, God calls a pecu­liar Treasure, a Crown of Glory, a Royal Diadem. But trouble not thy self Believer for the unjust censures of the blind world, they speak evil of the things they know not: he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man, 1 Cor. 2. 14. You can discern the earthliness and baseness of their spirits, they want a faculty to discern the excellency and choiceness of your spirits. He that carries a dark Lanthorn in the night, can discern him that comes against him, and yet is not discerned by him: a Courtier re­gards not a slight in the Country, so long as he hath the ear and favour of his Prince.

Inference 4.

Never let Believers fear the want of any good thing necessary Inference 4. for them in this world: the favour of God is the fountain of all blessings, provisions, protections, even of all that you need. He hath promised that he will withhold no good thing from [Page 319] them that walk uprightly, Psal. 84. 11. He that is bountiful to his enemies will not withhold what is good from his friends. The favour of God will not only supply your needs, but protect your persons, Psal. 5. 12. Thou wilt bless the righteous, with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.

Inference 5.

Hence also it follows, that the sins of Believers are very piercing Inference 5. things to the heart of God. The unkindness of those whom he hath received into his very bosom, upon whom he hath set his special favour and delight, who are more obliged to him than all the people of the earth beside, O this wounds the very heart of God. What a melting expostulation was that which the Lord used with David, 2 Sam. 12. 7, 8. I anointed thee King over all Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul, and I gave thee thy masters house, and thy masters wives in­to thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and Juda; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things: wherefore hast thou despised the Command­ment of the Lord? But Reader, if thou be a reconciled per­son, a favourite with God, and hast grieved him by any emi­nent transgression, how should it melt thy heart to hear the Lord thus expostulating with thee: I delivered thee out of the hand of Satan: I gave thee into the bosom of Christ: I have pardoned unto thee millions of sins, I have bestowed upon thee the riches of mercy: my favour hath made thee great; and as if all this were too little, I have prepared Heaven for thee: for which of all these favours dost thou thus requite me?

Inference 6.

How precious should Jesus Christ be to Believers, by whose Inference 6. blood they are ingratiated with God, and by whose intercession they are and shall for ever be continued in his favour? When the Apostle mentions the Believers translation from the sad state of nature to the blessed priviledged state of grace, see what a Title he bestows upon Jesus Christ the purchaser of that priviledge, calling him the dear Son, Col. 1. 13. [Page 320] not only dear to God, but exceeding dear to Believers al­so. Christ is the favourite in Heaven, to him you owe all your preferment there: take away Christ, and you have no ground to stand one minute in the favour of God. O then let Jesus Christ the fountain of your honour be also the ob­ject of your love and praise.

Inference 7.

Estimate by this the state and condition of a deserted Saint Inference 7. upon whom the favour of God is eclipsed. If the favour of God be better than life, the hiding of it from a gracious soul must be more bitter than death: deserted Saints have reason to take the first place among all the mourners in the world: the darkness before conversion had indeed more of danger, but this hath more of trouble. Darkness after light is dismal darkness. Since therefore the case is so sad, let your preventing care be the more: grieve not the good Spi­rit of God, you prepare but for your own grief in so doing.

Inference 8.

Lastly, Let this perswade all men to accept Jesus Christ, as Inference 8. ever they expect to be accepted with the Lord themselves. It is a fearful case for a mans person and duties to be reject­ed of God: to cry and not be heard: and much more terrible to be denied audience in the great and terrible day. Yet as sure as the Scriptures are the sealed and faithful sayings Si voluntatem Dei nosse quis­quam deside­rat, fit amicus Deo, August. of God, this is no more than what every Christless person must expect in that day, Mat. 7. 22. Luke 13. 26. Trace the history of all times, even as high as Abel, and you shall find that none but Believers did ever find acceptance with God: all experience confirms this great truth, that they that are in the flesh cannot please God. Reader, if this be thy condition let me beg thee to ponder the misery of it in a few sad thoughts.

Consider how sad it is to be rejected of God, and forsa­ken by all creatures at once: what a day of streights thy dying day is like to be, when Heaven and Earth shall cast [Page 321] thee out together. Be assured whatever thy vain hopes for the present quiet thee withal, this must be thy case, the dore of mercy will be shut against thee, no man cometh to the Fa­ther but by Christ. Sad was the case of Saul when he told Samuel, the Philistins make war against me, and God is de­parted from me, 1 Sam. 28. 15. The Saints will have bold­ness in the day of Judgment, 1 John 4. 17. but thou wilt be a confounded man; there is yet, blessed be the God of mer­cy, a capacity and opportunity of reconciliation, 2 Cor. 5. 19. Isai. 27. 5. But this can be of no long continuance. O there­fore by all the regard and love you have for the everlasting welfare of your own souls, come to Christ, embrace Christ in the offers of the Gospel, that you may be made accepted in the beloved.

The Eighteenth SERMON. Sermon 18.

JOHN 8. 36. Text. The liber­ty of Belie­vers open­ed, and sta­ted.‘If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’

FRom the 30th verse of this Chapter unto my Text, you have an account of the different effects which the words of Christ had upon the hearts of his hearers: some believed, verse 30. these he encou­rageth to continue in his word, verse 31. giving them this encouragement, vers. 32. Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. Hereat the unbelieving Jews take offence, and commence a quarrel with him, vers. 33. We be Abrahams seed, and were never in bondage to any man. We are of no slavish extraction, the blood of Abraham runs in our veins: this scornful boast of the proud Jews, Christ confutes, vers. 34. where he distinguisheth of a twofold bon­dage; one to men, another to sin; one civil, another spiri­tual: whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin, then tells them, vers. 36. The servant abideth not in the house for ever, but the Son abideth for ever. Wherein he intimateth [Page 323] two great truths, viz. that the servants and slaves of sin may for a time enjoy the external priviledges of the house or Church of God; but it would not be long before the master of the house will turn them out of dore: but if they were once the adopted Children of God, then they should abide in the house for ever. And this priviledge is only to be had by their believing in, and union with the natural Son of God, Jesus Christ: which brings us fairly to the Text; If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

In which words we have two parts.

viz.
  • 1. A Supposition.
  • 2. A Concession.

First, A Supposition, if the Son therefore shall make you free, 1. q. d. The womb of nature cast you forth into the world in a state of bondage, in that state you have lived all your days, servants to sin, slaves to your lusts, yet freedom is to be ob­tained: and this freedom is the prerogative belonging to the Son of God to bestow: if the Son shall make you free.

Secondly, Christs Concession upon this supposition, then 2. shall ye be free indeed, (i. e.) you shall have a real freedom, an excellent and everlasting fredom: no conceit only, as that which you now boast of is: if ever therefore you will be free men indeed, believe in me. Hence note,

DOCT.

That interest in Christ sets the soul at liberty from all that Doct. bondage whereunto it was subjected in its natural state.

Believers are the Children of the New Covenant, the de­nizons of Jerusalem which are above, which is free and the mother of them all, Gal. 4. 26. the glorious liberty, viz. that which is spiritual and eternal, is the liberty of the Chil­dren of God, Rom. 8. 21. Christ, and none but Christ deli­vers his people out of the hands of their enemies, Luk. 1. 74.

[Page 324] In the Doctrinal part of this point, I must shew you

  • First, What Believers are not freed from by Jesus Christ in this world.
  • Secondly, What that bondage is from which every Be­liever is freed by Christ.
  • Thirdly, What kind of freedom that is which comes in upon believing.
  • Fourthly, Open the excellency of this state of spiritual freedom.

First, What those things are from which Believers are 1. not made free in this world? we must not think that our spi­ritual liberty by Christ presently brings us into an absolute liberty in all respects. For,

First, Christ doth not free Believers from obedience to the moral Law: 'Tis true we are no more under it as a Co­venant for our justification; but we are, and must still be un­der it as a rule for our direction. The matter of the moral law is unchangeable as the nature of good and evil is, and cannot be abolished except that distinction could be destroy­ed, Mat. 5. 17, 18. The precepts of the Law are still urged under the Gospel to enforce duties upon us, Eph. 6. 12. 'Tis therefore a vain distinction invented by Libertines to say it binds us as Creatures not as Christians: or that it binds the unregenerate part, but not the regenerate: but this is a sure truth, that they who are freed from its penalties, are still under its precepts: though Believers are no more under its curse, yet they are still under its conduct: the Law sends us to Christ to be justified, and Christ sends us to the Law to be regulated. Let the heart of every Christian joyn therefore with Davids in that holy wish, Psal. 119. 4, 5. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently, O that my heart were directed to keep thy Statutes. 'Tis excellent when Christi­ans begin to obey the Law from life, which others obey for life: because they are justified, not that they may be justifi­ed. When duties are done in the strength and for the ho­nour of Christ, which is Evangelical; not in our own strength and for our own ends, which is servile and legal obedience: [Page 325] had Christ freed us from obedience, such a liberty had been to our loss.

Secondly, Christ hath not freed Believers in this world from the temptations and assaults of Satan: even those that are freed from his dominion, are not free from his molestation. 'Tis said indeed, Rom. 16. 20. God shall shortly bruise Sa­tan under your feet: but mean time he hath power to bruise and buffet us by his injections, 2 Cor. 12. 7. he now bruiseth Christs heel, Gen. 3. 15. (i. e.) bruiseth him in his tempted and afflicted members: though he cannot kill them, yet he can and doth afflict and fright them, by shooting his fiery darts of temptation among them, Eph. 6. 16. 'Tis true, when the Saints are got safe into Heaven, they are out of Gun­shot; there is perfect freedom from all temptation. A Be­liever may then say, O thou enemy, temptations are come to a perpetual end. I am now arrived there, where none of thy fiery darts can reach me: but this freedom is not yet.

Thirdly, Christ hath not yet freed Believers in this world from the motions of indwelling sin: these are continually acting and infesting the holiest of men, Rom. 7. 21, 23, 24. Corruptions like Canaanites are still left in the Land to be thorns in our eyes, and goads in our sides. Those that boast most of freedom from the motions of sin, have most cause to suspect themselves still under the dominion of sin. All Christs freemen are troubled with the same complaint: who among them complains not as the Apostle did, Rom. 7. 24. Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliever me from the body of this death?

Fourthly, Jesus Christ doth not free Believers in this world from inward troubles and exercises of soul upon the account of sin. God may let loose Satan and Conscience too, in the way of terrible accusations, which may greatly distress the soul of a Believer, and wofully eclipse the light of Gods Countenance, and break the peace of their souls. Job, He­man and David were all made free by Christ, yet each of them hath left upon record his bitter complaint upon this account, Job 7. 19, 20. Psal. 88. 14, 15, 16. Psal. 38. unto vers. 11.

Fifthly, Christ hath not freed Believers in this world from the rods of affliction. God in giving us our liberty doth not abridge his own liberty, Psal. 89. 32. all the Children of [Page 326] God are made free, yet what Son is there whom the Father chastneth not? Heb. 12. 8. Exemption from affliction is so far from being the mark of a Freeman, that the Apostle there makes it the mark of a slave. Bastards, not Sons want the discipline and blessing of the Rod: to be freed from af­fliction would be no benefit to Believers, who receive so many benefits by affliction.

Sixthly, No Believer is freed by Christ from the stroak of death, though they are all freed from the sting of death, Rom. 8. 10. The bodies of Believers are under the same Law of mortality with other men, Heb. 9. 27. we must come to the Grave as well as others: yea, we must come to it through the same agonies, pangs and dolours that other men do: the foot of death treads as heavy upon the bodies of the redeemed as of other men. Believers indeed are distin­guished by mercy from others, but the distinguishing mercy lies not here. Thus you see what Believers are not freed from in this world: if you shall now say, what advantage then hath a Believer, or what profit is there in regenerati­on? I Answer,

Secondly, That Believers are freed from many great and 2. sad miseries and evils by Jesus Christ notwithstanding all that hath been said. For,

First, All Believers are freed from the rigour and curse of the Law: the rigorous yoak of the Law is broken off from their necks, and the sweet and easie yoak of Jesus Christ put on, Mat. 11. 28. The Law required perfect working under the pain of a curse, Gal. 3. 10. accepted of no short endeavours; admitted no repentance; gave no strength: it is not so now, proportionable strength is given, Phil 4. 13. Sincerity is reckoned perfection, Job 1. 1. Transgression brings not under condemnation, Rom. 8. 1. O blessed free­dom! when duty becomes delight, and failings hinder not acceptance: this is one part of the blessed freedom of be­lievers.

Secondly, All Believers are freed from the guilt of sin, it may trouble, but it cannot condemn them, Rom. 8. 33. The hand writing which was against us is cancelled by Christ, nailed to his Cross, Colos. 2. 14. When the seal and hand­writing is torn off from the Bond, the Debtor is made free [Page 327] thereby: Believers are totally freed, Acts 13. 39. Justified from all things: and finally freed, John 5. 24. They shall ne­ver come into condemnation. O blessed freedom! How sweet is it to lie down in our beds, yea in our graves; when guilt shall neither be our Bed fellow, nor Grave fellow!

Thirdly, Christ frees all Believers from the dominion as well as the guilt of sin. Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under the Law, but under Grace, Rom. 6. 14. The law of the spirit of life which is in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death, Rom. 8. 2. Now who can estimate such a liberty as this? What slavery, what an into­lerable drudgery is the service of divers lusts from all which Believers are freed by Christ: not from the residence but from the reign of sin. 'Tis with sin in Believers as it was with those beasts mentioned Dan. 7. 12. They had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time.

Fourthly, Jesus Christ sets all Believers free from the power of Satan; in whose right they were by nature, Col. 1. 13. they are translated from the power of darkness into the Kingdom of Christ. Satan had the possession of them, as a man of his own goods; but Christ dispossesseth that strong man armed, alters the property, and recovers them out of his hand, Luke 11. 21, 22. There are two ways by which Christ frees Believers out of Satans power and pos­session, namely,

  • 1. By Price.
  • 2. By Power.

First, By Price, the blood of Christ purchaseth Believers out of the hand of justice by satisfying the law for them, which being done, Satans authority over them falls of course, as the power of a Jaylor over the Prisoner doth, when he hath a legal discharge, Heb. 2. 14. For as much then as the Children are partakers of flesh and blood: he also himself took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the Devil. The cruel Tyrant beats and burthens the poor captive no more after the ransom is once paid, and he actually freed, and therefore Christ deli­vers his,

[Page 328] Secondly, By power. Satan is exceeding unwilling to let go his prey: he is a strong and a malicious enemy: every rescue and deliverance out of his hand, is a glorious effect of the al­mighty power of Christ, Act. 26. 18. 2 Cor. 10. 5. How did our Lord Jesus Christ grapple with Satan at his death, and triumphed over him, Col. 2. 15. O glorious salvation, blessed liberty of the Children of God!

Fifthly, Christ frees Believers from the poisonous sting and hurt of death: kill us it can, but hurt us it cannot, 1 Cor. 15. 55, 56. O death where is thy sting? O grave where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the Law: but thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. If there be no hurt, there should be no horror in death: 'tis guilt that arms death both with its hurting and terrifying power. To dye in our sins, John 8. 24. To have our bones full of the sins of our youth, which shall lye down with us in the dust, Job 20. 11. To have death, like a Dragon, pulling a poor guilty Creature as a prey into its dreadful Den, Psal. 49. 14. In this lies the danger and horror of death: but from death as a curse, and from the grave as a Prison, Christ hath set Be­lievers at liberty, by submitting to death in their room, by his victorious resurrection from the grave, as the first-born of the dead: death is disarmed of its hurting power: the death of Believers is but a sleep in Jesus.

Thirdly, The next thing to be briefly spoken to, is the 3. kind and nature of that freedom and liberty purchased and procured by Christ for Believers.

Now liberty may be considered two ways.

viz.
  • 1. As Civil.
  • 2. As Sacred.

As to civil freedom or liberty, it belongs not to our pre­sent business: Believers as to their civil capacity are not freed from the duties they owe to their Superiors. Servants, though Believers, are still to be subject to their Masters accord­ing to the flesh with fear and trembling, Ephes. 6. 5. nor from obedience to lawful Magistrates whom we are to obey in the [Page 329] Lord, Rom. 13. 1, 4. Religion dissolves not the bonds of ci­vil relations: nor is it to be used as an occasion to the flesh, 1 Pet. 2. 16. 'Tis not a carnal but a spiritual freedom Christ hath purchased for us: and this spiritual freedom is again to be considered, either

as
  • 1. Inchoate.
  • 2. Consummate.

The liberty Believers have at present is but a beginning liberty, they are freed but in part from their spiritual ene­mies: but it is a growing liberty every day, and will be consummate, and compleat at last.

To conclude, Christian Liberty is,

either
  • 1. Privative, or,
  • 2. Positive.

The liberty Believers are invested with, is of both kinds: they are not only freed from many miseries, burthens and dangers; but also invested by Jesus Christ with many royal priviledges and invaluable immunities.

Fourthly, And this brings us to the fourth and last thing; 4. namely the properties of this blessed freedom which the Saints enjoy by Jesus Christ: and if we consider it duly it will be found to be,

First, A wonderful liberty, never enough to be admired: how could it be imagined that ever those who owed unto God more than ever they could pay by their own eternal sufferings, those that were under the dreadful curse and con­demnation of the Law, in the power and possession of Satan the strong man armed; those that were bound with so ma­ny chains in their spiritual prison; their understanding bound with ignorance, their wills with obstinacy, their hearts with impenetrable hardness, their affections with a thousand bewitching vanities; that slight their state of slavery so much as industriously to oppose all instruments and means of deli­verance: For such persons to be set at liberty, notwith­standing [Page 330] all this, is the wonder of wonders, and is deservedly marvellous in the eyes of Believers for ever.

Secondly, The freedom of Believers is a peculiar freedom: a liberty which few obtain, the generality abiding still in bondage to Satan, who from the multitude of his Subjects is stiled the god of this world, 2 Cor. 4. 4. Believers in Scri­pture are often called a remnant, which is but a small part of the whole piece: the more cause have the people of God to admire distinguishing mercy: how many Nobles and great ones of the world are but royal slaves to Satan and their own lusts!

Thirdly, The liberty of Believers is a liberty dearly pur­chased by the blood of Christ: what that Captain said, Acts 22. 28. With a great sum obtained I this freedom, may be much more said of the Believers freedom: 'twas not Silver or Gold but the precious blood of Christ that purchased it, 1 Pet. 1. 18.

Fourthly, The freedom and liberty of Believers is a grow­ing and encreasing liberty, they get more and more out of the power of sin, and nearer still to their compleat salvation every day, Rom. 13. 11. the body of sin dieth daily in them: they are said to be crucified with Christ: the strength of sin abates continually in them after the manner of crucified per­sons: who dye a slow but sure death: and look in what de­gree the power of sin abates, proportionably their spiritual liberty encreases upon them.

Fifthly, The freedom of Believers is a comfortable free­dom: the Apostle comforts Christians of the lowest rank, poor servants, with this consideration, 1 Cor. 7. 22. He that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lords freeman, q. d. Let not the meanness of your outward condition, which is a state of subjection and dependance, a state of po­verty and contempt, at all trouble you: you are the Lords freemen, of precious account in his eyes. O 'tis a comfor­table liberty!

Sixthly, and Lastly, 'Tis a perpetual and final freedom, they that are once freed by Christ have their manumissions and final discharge from that state of bondage they were in before. Sin shall never have dominion over them any more: it may tempt them and trouble them, but shall never more [Page 331] rule and govern them, Acts 26. 18. And thus you see what a glorious liberty the liberty of Believers is.

The improvement whereof will be in the following Infe­rences.

Inference 1.

How rational is the joy of Christians, above the joy of all Inference 1. others in the world? shall not the captive rejoycé in his reco­vered liberty? The very Birds of the air (as one observes) had rather be at liberty in the woods, though lean and hun­gry, than in a golden Cage with the richest fare: every crea­ture naturally prises it, none more than Believers, who have felt the burthen and bondage of corruption: who in the days of their first illumination and conviction have poured out many groans and tears for this mercy. What was said of the captive people of God in Babylon, excellently shadows forth the state of Gods people under spiritual bondage, with the way and manner of their deliverance from it, Zech. 9. 11. By the blood of thy Covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit, wherein is no water. Believers are delivered by the blood of Christ out of a worse pit than that of Babylon: and look as the Tribes in their return from thence were overwhelm­ed with joy and astonishment, Psal. 126. 1, 2. When the Lord turned again the captivity of Sion; we were like them that dream, then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: they were overwhelmed with the sense of the mercy: so should it be with the people of God. 'Tis said, Luke 15. 24. when the Prodigal Son (there made the embleme of a returning converting sinner) was returned again to his Fathers house; that there was heard musick and dancing, mirth and feasting in that house. The Angels in Heaven re­joice when a soul is recovered out of the power of Satan: and shall not the recovered soul, immediately concerned in the mercy, greatly rejoyce? Yea, let them rejoyce in the Lord, and let no earthly trouble or affliction ever have power to interrupt their joy for a moment after such a deli­verance as this.

Inference 2.

How unreasonable, and wholly inexcusable is the sin of Aposta­sie from Jesus Christ? What is it but for a delivered cap­tive Inference 2. to put his feet again into the shackles, his hands into the manacles, his neck into the iron yoke, from which he hath been delivered? 'Tis said, Mat. 12. 44, 45. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seek­ing rest and findeth none: then he saith, I will return into mine house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept and garnished; then goeth he, and taketh with him seven other Spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there, and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even as a Prisoner that hath escaped, and is again recovered, is loaded with double irons. Let the people of God be content to run any hazzard, endure any difficulties in the way of Religion, rather than return again into their former bondage, to sin and Satan. O Christian, if ever God gave thee a sight, and a sense of the misery and danger of thy natural state, if ever thou hast felt the pangs and throes of a labouring and distressed Conscience, and after all this tasted the unspeakable sweetness of the peace and rest that is in Christ, thou wilt rather choose to dye ten thousand deaths than to forsake Christ, and go back again into that sad condition.

Inference 3.

How suitable and well-becoming is a free spirit in Believers to Inference 3. their state of liberty and freedom? Christ hath made your con­dition free. O let the temper and frame of your hearts be free also, do all that you do for God with a spirit of free­dom: not by constraint but willingly. Methinks, Christians, the new nature that is in you should stand for a command, and be instead of all arguments that use to work upon the hopes and fears of other men: See how all creatures work according to the principle of their natures: you need not command a Mother to draw forth her breasts to a sucking Child: nature it self teaches and prompts to that: you need [Page 333] not bid the Sea ebb or flow at the stated hours. O Christi­an, why should thy heart need any other argument than its own spiritual inclination to keep its stated times and seasons of communion with God? Let none of Gods commandments be grievous to you: let not thine heart need dragging and forcing to its own benefit and advantage. Whatever you do for God do it cheerfully, and whatever you suffer for God suffer it cheerfully: it was a brave spirit which acted holy Paul, I am ready, saith he, not only to be bound, but also to dye at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus, Acts 21. 13.

Inference 4.

Let no man wonder at the enmity and opposition of Satan to the Inference 4. preaching of the Gospel: For by the Gospel it is that souls are recovered out of his power, Acts 26. 18. 'tis the express work of Ministers to turn men from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. Satan (as one faith) is a great and jealous Prince: he will never endure to have li­berty proclaimed by the Ministers of Christ within his do­minions: and indeed what is it less when the Gospel is preached in power, but as it were by beat of Drum and sound of Trumpet to proclaim liberty, liberty, spiritual sweet and everlasting liberty, to every soul that is made sen­sible of the bondage of corruption and cruel servitude of Sa­tan, and will now come over to Jesus Christ? and oh what numbers and multitudes of prisoners have broken loose from Satan at one proclamation of Christs, Acts 2. 41. but Satan owes the servants of Christ a s