THE GREATNES OF THE MYSTERY OF GODLINES; Opened in severall Sermons BY CUTHBERT SYDENHAM Teacher to a Church of Christ at Newcastle upon Tine.

LONDON, Printed by W. Hunt for Richard Tomlins, at the Sun and Bible neare Pye-Corner. 1654.

TO THE Right Worshipfull William Johnson Maior of Newcastle, With the Aldermen, Sheriffe, Common Councell, and the rest of that famous Corporation.

Honoured, and Beloved,

IT is not any vaine desire to appeare in print that I pre­sent you with these sheets, but these two reasons have prest me thereunto.

First, because I cannot now preach to your eares, I would leave something before your eyes that might quicken up your spirits to a holy remembrance of what you have formerly heard; for [Page] carefull and observant reading doth im­print with more efficacy that which it may be did but passe more transiently thorough the eare; besides, in reading a man may dwell on a nation untill he hath suckt the spirits of it, and yet not lose the next, which in hearing is hazar­dous; so that primarily my uselessenesse to you (through sicknesse) in preaching hath provoked me, that if possible I might be a little usefull to your soules by this.

2. I have attempted this worke to leave a character and testimony of my deepe sence I have of your great fa­vours to me; you have nursed me as a Parent his Child: Now what have I to present you with but even this spirituall mite, which is seconded with many desires for your eternall welfare; and this I must say, that I beleeve never more respects [Page] have been shown by any Corporation in England to the most grave and worthy Preachers among them, than you have shewn to me, unworthy me. Thus I have given you a short account of what moved me to this enterprize, I hope it will be candidly interpreted among you.

I have only one thing to adde (which all the Nation may take notice of and wonder) concerning your happinesse, that these nine yeares, when all the Na­tion have been in a puzzle about errors, sects, and schismes, even almost to bloud, you have sate as in a Para­dise, no disturbances in your Pulpits, no railings or disputings, Presbyteri­ans and Independents preaching in the same place, fasting and praying toge­ther, in heavenly harmony, expressing nothing but kindnesse to each other, in their meetings ready to help each other; [Page] and as for the errours of the times that have disturbed so many Towns in Eng­land, it may be said of Newcastle as of Ireland, the Aire is so pure no such venemous creature can live there; and this hath been through the power of the Gospell, and your carefull Government.

Now the Lord make you reach after immortality, take heed of this evill world. Oh that you may further prize and profit by that precious Gospell which shines among you, and may this little Treatise adde one cubit to your stature in grace, how will it rejoyce the soule of him who is

Yours to serve you in Gospell, if ever God recover my strength, Cuthbert Sydenham.

To the ingenuous godly Reader.

ALL I have to entreat thee in the reading of these sheets is, first that thou wouldst no [...] look on it as a bare Treatise, wherein things are only opened and demonstrated, but as Sermons where the same things must sometimes be repeated, and often inculcated to worke the notions, if possible, into the spirits of men. Secondly, that thou wouldst do thy selfe and me so much right as to correct what thou findest amisse, and especially there is need of thy charity in reading this book; for in expressing such high and great mysteries, the least omission or addition of a syllable, yea, of a letter, may make it blasphemy to the Reader; I have found out some which I point out before thee, p. 44. for very read every. p. 45. for [...] r. [...]. p. 67. for God did manifest himselfe r. God did not. p. 69. for nature r. heart. p. 77. for dwelling r. dreadfull. p. 93. for when r. were p. 94. for you r. gone p. 96. for wise r. wisdome. p. 97. for your death r. on­ly you. p. 119. for expression r. impression. p. 145. read the foure first verses warily. p. 183. for take r. took. p. 144. leave out very p. 190. for Iews r. Gentiles. Other things I entreat thee to correct thy selfe, and where the sense failes to helpe it with charity; the Lord give an understanding heart, and a dis­cerning eye to dive into the mysteries of the Go­spell; this is the desire of him who is

Thine in the Gospell C. S.

The Greatness of the Mystery of Godlinesse opened in seve­rall Sermons. SERMON I.

1 TIM. 3.16.

And without controversie great is the mystery of Godlinesse, which is, God manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of Angels, preached unto the Gentiles, belee­ved on in the world, and received up into glory.

THe Apostle in this Chapter sutes his Exhortation to the divers Offices in the Church, and laies down their particular qualifi­cations who shall be fit for such places. [Page 2] God never cals any to places but he fits them, and he would have us looke to whom he hath qualified. It is not enough that men have publike vote for publike places, but they must have sutable en­dowments; a Bishop that is a Pastour must be blamelesse, v. 2. So he that thinks to act for God must have qualifications from God; Gods Call hath ever his bles­sing and assistance. Now that Timothy might take speciall notice of this, he tels him that he writ these things on purpose that he might know how to behave him­selfe in the Church, which he cals the house of God, and the pillar and ground of truth, ver. 15. that is that which holds forth truth as the pillar doth the light that is set on it; The Apostle laies the weight of his worke, and all the Ministers of the Gospell, and heightens their Calling from the preciousnesse of the truth that is to be manifested by them; and at last breakes forth into the great truths which they are to manifest, which are undeniably the great Mystery of Godlinesse in the world. God was manifest in flesh, &c.

So that this is the sum of all: Pastors, and Teachers, and Elders, and all Office, of the Church, had need be men peculiar­ly qualified, that they may behave them­selves as becomes them in the Church; for that is as a Pillar of truth, and the great Mystery of Godlinesse is opened among them, they are to hold forth that Godli­nesse which is a great Mystery. And it is as much as if he had said, Timothy, I write these things to thee, and all the Ministers of the Gospell, that they looke to them­selves; for a great charge is committed to them, to be as pillars in Gods House, and to carry forth the greatest mystery in the heaven and earth, that upon which de­pends the great weight of Salvation. Oh, if these that are to dispense the Gospell did but know their work, what a glorious and great Dispensation is committed to them, how would they labour to behave themselves in that great charge?

Here be many things observable in the words.

  • 1. The Preface, or Porch.
  • 2. The Fabrick it selfe.

In the Preface is 1. The manner of his speech, and that twofold: first, the affecti­on he speakes it with, he is so as a man in rapture that speakes in pure sentences, without Controversie, &c. He breakes off as it were from all that he had formerly spoken, and sits down and wonders at the greatnesse of that Mystery which the Go­spell held forth.

2. That he speakes of its Godlinesse.

3. The description he gives it, he cals it a Mystery, and that with this Adjunct, that it is a great Mystery.

4. The confidence he speakes it in, without Controversie, [...], manifest è ex confesso, without doubt or question it is so; none that ever knew God, or ever felt the power of it, but said it was a great mystery.

Then secondly, you have this Mystery unfolded, and cleared up in these severall particulars of it, which he deduceth to these sixe heads:

  • God manifested in the flesh.
  • Justified in the spirit.
  • Seene of Angels.
  • [Page 5]Preached unto the Gentiles.
  • Beleeved on in the World.
  • Received up into Glory.

So that here is Truth, and that truth is Godlinesse, and that godlinesse is a great Mystery, and all that is laid out in various manifestations of God. Here are many glorious things to be insisted on; all Di­vinity comprehended in these few lines, the very marrow and pith, the foundati­on and fountaine of all that we need to know, or to be acquainted with. And be­fore we come to Launch out in the Oce­an, we must cast an eye upon the Con­nexion of the words.

Obs. First, That which the Apostle cals Truth in the former verse, he cals Godli­nesse here; Truth is not a fancy or noti­on, but it is holinesse it selfe, and none can know Truth in the nature and power of it, but they must be godly.

First, Truth is the patterne and plat­forme of Holiness, it is the mould of God­linesse; that is godlinesse which is confor­mable to divine truth; Truth is Gods mind, and godliness is a soule conforma­ble [Page 6] unto that mind, or transformed into that truth; therefore the Apostle when he would relate the godlinesse of the Ro­mans, Rom. 6.17. he saith, they obeyed that doctrine or truth into the forme of which they were delivered, [...], he makes the truth of the Gospell as a type, a mould into which they were cast.

Secondly, godlinesse is truth, because truth works godliness; Christ praies the Father to sanctifie them with truth, Joh. 17.17. It is the nature of truth to sancti­fie and worke holinesse; truth is light, and life, and doth as the Sun, both enliven and enlighten all soules on whom its beames shines; errour never makes holy, though it may be in a holy person, and shadowed with the holinesse in whom it is; but all the truths of Christ they are as fire that convert soules to its own nature; whate­ver holiness is in the soule is no more but truth digested, turned into life and spirit.

Use. So that first let not the world mi­stake themselves concerning truth. It is not enough that men have abundance of [Page 7] notions concerning God or Christ, except it be holy truth, sanctifying truth; this world is growing exceeding knowing, men boast of many great and mysterious truths which they know, but where is godliness? Truth without godliness is as an Oracle without a voice, a body with­out a soule; as letters in brass without life. Brethren, what is it for a man to have found a peece of Gold when he is hungry and can find no meat? It is cleare men know little of truth, they are so un­acquainted with godliness; that is truth indeed which moulds the soule into the nature of God, which draws a soule into pure fellowship with God, which elevates the spirit into the glory of God, which turnes all things into life and power in the soule, other things are but notions; to have truth written in thy Bible and not in thy heart, what is it? For thee to have a forme of truth in thy understanding, the letters transcribed in thy fancy, and not be turned spiritually into that forme, godli­ness is nothing else but truth baptized in the soule, truth with a new name; that [Page 8] soule hath not a sparkle of truth which hath not a motion of life from it, truth came out of Gods bosome, and is the ma­nifestation of his life and glory, and it will turne the heart sutable to that life.

Ʋse 2. Would you know what it is to be godly, not to have a forme of this and that way of Religion of our owne ma­king, but to be conformable to divine truth? as good principles and notions with­out divine impressions of it on the soule are nothing; so godliness without a princi­ple of truth to lead it is superstition; as truth works godliness, so godliness lives answerable unto truth; godliness consists not in any forme of worship set us by men, though never so glorious, but by be­ing one with truth, in serving God after his own mind and heart.

Ʋse 3. Againe, know who are the knowing and the godly men; what those who barely and nakedly confess the Ar­ticles of faith, who beleeve in a cursory manner what is said of God and Christ in the Gospell? no, but those which are made godly by these truths. It is impossi­ble [Page 9] for any to know Jesus Christ, and the mystery of the Gospell, but they must have the life of it in them; if men will judge as God doth of their knowledge by their hearts, how few knowing men shall we have in the world? God values mens knowledge by their affections, by the value they set on truth; all our know­ledge and speculations of truth without godliness is but a humane knowledge of divine things; you know much, you see great mysteries of truth, what life, what spirit hath it put in you? If you have seen Jesus Christ as the Center and substance of truth, where are the transformations, and the raisings of your soules after this Christ apprehended? When principles are turned into practice, and speculations into power, and notions into spirit, then your truth is godliness.

Will you know the reason why there is so much profession of truth, and so little practice of godliness, why the heads of men have so outgrown their hearts?

I think it be this; either first that which men call truth is errour, or the fancies of [Page 10] their own braine, not the Vision on the mount: Or else, secondly, they have but the bare and leane apprehensions, do not see them in their own nature; men place Religion in knowledge, and godlinesse in a meere conceit; doubtlesse it truth were seene in her naked glory, without her hood, or gowne, only as she comes out of the bosome of Jesus Christ, the beames of her glory would pierce the very hearts and soules of men, and leave impressions of an immortall nature on their spirits. How can soules see Jesus Christ as the manifestation of God, behold him as one received up into glory, and sitting at the right hand of God, and have it as truth within him, and not be drawn out in strong desires of Communion with him, and have the reflexions of his holiness and glory on the heart? What is godli­ness but God shining in light, and wor­king in life in the soule? Take thy picture of truth which thou thinkest thou hast in thy understanding, and sit down and re­joyce in the high-flown notions of God and Christ, (thou knowing Professor) [Page 11] while poore soules enjoy the life, and power, the beauty, and substance of all truth within their hearts.

Obs. 2. The second thing of worth is this; How full Pauls heart is when he begins to speake of the things of the Gospell; like a man that is full of griefe or joy, longs to have vent, and breakes off on a sudden from his former discourses, so doth the Apostle; he was to swim out into a great deep, and his heart cannot hold, he speaks as a man overmatched with matter, that is faine to speake broken expressions, without controversie, &c.

High manifestations of God should be expressed with great affections; as God let out himselfe, so our hearts must be ta­ken: a little love and admiration will not serve when God manifests himselfe in a mystery, the best frame of spirit a soule can be in when he is meditating, or to speake of Gospell-mysteries is to be asto­nished at them, as one that knows not where to begin or end; you never have known the mysteries of God which have not admired them.

Use. All the use I would make of this to you, is, to get affections sutable to ma­nifestations, to rise as God rises. Oh let not your hearts be low when God is high in love and glory. Souls which are wrapt up in the bosome of glorious enjoyments, that apprehend God in his discoveries of himself, cannot but be lost in the thoughts of them; then are your soules in a spiri­tuall frame when they worke in the sight of God in Christ, and sutable to the ope­nings of his heart; the more your hearts are full of these apprehensions, the more you will breake forth in admirations.

But now to the words themselves, and in them first of the Preface; without Con­troversie, &c.

The Apostle speaks as one so confident that all did grant it to be truth, that there need no farther debate but the laying down the very things themselves.

The word ( [...]) signifies an absolute and cleare confession of a thing without doubt or scruple, and it is as much as if the Apostle had said by the confessi­on of all, it is so; it is a confessed truth [Page 13] by all the Saints, not one disputing or de­nying it, that godlinesse is a great myste­ry; in all these particulars I need give you no confirmation at all of it, it is without question, to deny it is to be wilfully blind and desperate.

Obs. That there are principles and my­steries of godliness cleare and undeniable to all the Saints.

He doth not say, I confess it is so, and all that I have conversed withall, but all that have had any light of the spirit confesse this to be true; it is a thing generally re­ceived without any controversie at all: In the opening this I shall shew,

1. That there are principles of godliness as of other things.

2. That they are confest by the Saints.

For the first: As there are principles in every Art or Science, which are as the foundations of other things, so likewise in divinity; such as the Apostle, Heb. 6.1. cals ( [...]) the foundation, and Heb. 5.12. ( [...]) the first principles, and now cals ( [...]) the mystery: and to prove,

1. Because divinity or godliness is the [Page 14] most demonstrative and certaine know­ledge of things that can be, now principles are the foundation of all demonstration; if there were not principles, there could be no certainty of knowledge. No man could speake any thing, no man could be­leeve any thing, if there were not com­mon and generall foundations or princi­ples to build upon; therefore this must be granted, that God hath left something in Religion which is without dispute.

2. If there were not set and absolute principles, there could be no common faith, or common experience among the Saints; none could know the condition of one another, or be able to judge of one another, neither of things themselves. Now the Apostle speakes of a common faith; and in another place there is but one faith, one baptisme, one hope among all the Saints, 2 Pet. 1.2. That other Foun­dation no man can lay than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. 3.11. in Gal. 1. no preaching of anothor Gospell, no, though by an Angell from heaven. But I need prove that no farther.

[Page 15]2. These principles are confest by all the Saints, this is that the Apostle aimes at, that none of the Saints scrupled this, That Godlinesse was a great mystery in every one of the particulars mentioned. Consider,

1. That which belongs to a Saint as a Saint, to his very being he cannot be igno­rant of, as that Jesus Christ died, and by his merits we are pardoned, that from him is all life, that God was manifested in him, and accepts us by him; that we come to him by faith, and enjoy him by our union; these things go to the consti­tution of a Saint, faith towards our Lord Jesus, and repentance towards God; he is not a Saint which knows not this, for they are the principles of his being; indeed the largeness and extent of these principles. The priviledge of his being he may be ignorant, for they are succes­sively manifested, as the glory of his uni­on, and the fulnesse of grace, and the rich assurance of it to his own soule, these he may be doubtfull in; but to question this, whether Christ be the Son of God, [Page 16] hath died, and is risen againe, these he can­not be ignorant of, for his faith is vaine if these things be not true and granted by him, he is no Saint if Christ be no Savi­our; but for the manner of making out this, of what full efficacy Christs Death and Resurrection is, and the like, and the manner of applying this, he may be ex­ceeding darke in.

2. The principles of godliness are laid down so positive, and so plaine, that the light that every Saint receives makes him beleeve them; these things are exprest in absolute termes, that Christ is the only Saviour, and nothing to be joyned with him; that justification is freely by grace; that in Adam all have sinned; that all which are in Christ are new Creatures, with such like expressions, so that the first and most common light of faith assents to them; there be some things in the Word, in which there lies a great deale of beau­ty and glory, not so nakedly exprest, nor so obvious to every understanding, as of the time of justification, the manner of our union, many things of the Kingdome [Page 17] of Christ, and other things which may admit a Controversie, they being not so cleare in themselves.

3. Principles that are absolutely funda­mentall, God hath set them down as the objects of faith to be beleeved on, not dis­puted. And though we cannot see the rea­son of them, yet we are to beleeve them; their demonstration lies in Gods testimo­ny of them. Gods word for things is a Christian reason.

Ʋse. Oh that in this sceptick age we would but observe this rule, to hold to principles: men are grown to question e­very thing, fundamentals cannot scape; some mens questions, most mens criticks are above their judgements: Some thinke Religion lies in a questioning all things. That good notion of searching after truth deceives many by misapprehension; the way to lose truth is to question the prin­ciples on which they are built; the Apo­stle speaks unto Timothy ( [...]) not to strive about words which tend to no profit, 2 Tim. 2.14. and to hold fast the forme of wholsome words of do­ctrines [Page 18] ( [...]) 2 Tim. 1.13. an ex­press systeme of principles. In all Sciences something must be taken for granted; Philosophers have made a just Law, Con­tra principia non est disputandum; they hiss at men that shall deny principles received by all Schollars, grounded on the abso­lute Law of Reason; for there must be some granted rules and principles that men dispute by, else it will be but a bab­ble, no dispute; all argumentation is con­cerning the application of rules, and de­ductions from principles: So it is in divini­ty, there be some truths are as foundation stones, must not be touched lest the whole building fall with it. I blame not Saints for searching after truth, but con­demne that stint of mens spirits to looke after no more than they have known; great and noble spirits love to be reaching after perfection, there is much to be dis­covered of the mystery of the Gospell, of the glory and beauty of truth. But this I urge, that there are some things must be without controversie, some truths that are written as with a Sun­beame, [Page 19] confest and acknowledged by all, that must be beleeved, not argued.

There is a twofold questioning of things:

1. Doubting whether they be so or no, that is dangerous, because men shall ne­ver want their scruples, if they will dis­pute those things which are supernatural; what God hath by his owne testimony in the Word, and in the hearts of all the Saints put out of question, It is Crimen laesae Majestatis but to name in doubting.

2. Men question things to be more cleered and confirmed in them, not so much for satisfaction of the truth of them, as desire to see the farther beauty and ex­cellency of them; this is commendable, for Saints to study all the principles wherein God hath manifested himselfe, that he may have his heart more set upon them. So the Bereans they were more no­ble, they would enquire into the Doctrine that Paul preached, and Paul commends them for it, and saith, they were ( [...]) men of better breeding; whatever comes from men you may question, and [Page 20] search againe whether it be so or no; but what you find in the Word laid down in express termes you may not question, but beleeve; though yet you may labour to be more cleare, and to have the same thing more demonstrative, and more spirituall to you; the Apostle unto Timothy, that the things he had heard of him among many witnesses he should ( [...]) commit unto faithfull men, who may teach the same to others, 2 Tim. 2.2. the Apostle would have the same Do­ctrine to go from hand to hand, and be transferred unto others; for new princi­ples to be revealed I expect not, but those in a new way, more of truth in a new kind of glory, more full and enriching; the light that the Saints have received is the same for kind and nature, but not for degree, therefore the Apostle saith, If we or an Angel from heaven shall preach another Gospell, that is different from what is preached in the revelation of Christ, let him be accursed, Gal. 1.8, 9. It is one thing to preach another Gospell, and another thing to have that same Go­spell [Page 21] opened more gloriously, and to have the sparklings of it more strong and glo­rious. He that will know no more than he hath known, is proud, and knows no­thing; and he that will know any thing contrary, or more than these principles of godlinesse containes, and will by improve­ment come up to, will be as one in the darke that knows not where he goes; to stick on the bare principles and go no far­ther, is as a child that learnes his Cate­chisme, and thinks he needs no more lear­ning; and to seeke to know much with casting of principles, is as one that would learne the Hebrew or Greeke, and yet will cast aside the Characters and Rules. That soule can never miscarry in divine knowledge, that holding the foundation builds according to that. Let your stru­cture be as high and glorious as can be, so your foundation be sure; for a man to make a long and mysterious discourse, and accent every expression, with the best language, and yet neither he, nor any that heares, can tell neither what he aimes at, or to what head or principle naturall to [Page 22] reduce it, how ridiculous is he in all wise mens eyes; all the fine and curious webs of speculation which men spin, and these stately structures in their own fancies will all be cut in sunder, and fall down, if they be not founded on the first, same, and eter­nall principles of godlinesse. God hath saved all the Saints by one and the same way, Christ, and faith; And though these things are more gloriously exprest now than before, and the same heart more o­pened in the same Christ, and faith acted with greater strength and cleereness than formerly; yet the same love, and faith, and Christ continues still. It is a pittifull thing to see soules stick still on the bare principles, and not launch out into that deep mystery which is conteined in them; and as sad it is to see men leave these principles and hug their own fancies. Oh Beloved, that unity in the spirit lies much in the onenesse and union of the founda­tion. This one Principle, That God was manifest in flesh, and this Christ made a Mediatour of soules, what an eternall ground of comfort doth it afford, thou [Page 23] needest not goe seek a new manifestation of this God; the studying but of this one, may take up all thy thoughts every mi­nute and moment of thy life, and enter­tain thee with fresh and new wonders of Glory. Every one of these Principles are a mystery, and mysteryes, though about the same things, are opened but by degrees. Angels desire to let out their thoughts in the reviewing of these unsear­chable riches. There is not a line or ex­pression of Christ in the Scripture, but is matter enough for a whole Age to Comment upon; so that thou needest not leave old principles for new discove­ries; for in them thou mayest find succe­ssive sweetnesse.

The Apostle in the 2 Colossians v. 2. speakes of a full assurance of understan­ding, which the Saints may come unto. [...]. That is the same with what the Text saith. To be so fully assured in our understandings, of all the truths of the Gospell, that nothing can shake us. To have all things so demon­strative and cleare, and our judgements [Page 24] so convinced and setled in them, that we may see round about all the objecti­ons that can be made of them: Doub­ting in judgement, makes doubting in con­science and Faith. As your principles are, so your practise will be; therefore you had need have them cleare. The hol­ding of some things are so odious, that a Saint should not answer them, but con­temne them. So Paul, when this objecti­on came in, that we might sinne because grace abounded. Rom. 6.1. What, doth he stand to confute it? no, he will not ho­nour it with an answer, but abominates the thoughts of it; God forbid, saith he.

To conclude this with a ground of comfort to all Saints. Your salvation is without controversie; the grounds of your eternall peace, are not to be so much as questioned. All things are car­ryed on in a mystery; yet so sure, as that it is death to question them: You may as well doubt, whether there be a God, as doubt whether the everlasting founda­tion of your peace can be removed: There [Page 25] is nothing for you to doe in this, but to believe; as these things in themselves are past dispute, so doe you believe that they may be without doubt to you. Get your assurances as unquestionable as Gods foundation; for that stands sure, and hath an eternall seal unto it; put your propriety in this mystery out of dispute, that you may be able to say without all controversy, this mystery is in me; and as God was manifest in flesh, and I may not doubt it, so God is manifest in me, and I dare not deny it. Art thou in Ie­sus Christ, who is the summe of this great mystery? why then; let Devills and men question thy salvation, it cannot hinder thy comfort. Beloved, get things at such a passe in your soules, that all things are beyond dispute in your hearts, ei­ther concerning the principles, or the ap­plication of them to your conscience, that you may come to the full assurance of Understanding in the mysteries of the Gospell, not to doubt of the truth of them; so come to the full assurance of Faith, not to question your part in them. [Page 26] That as this is sure, that Christ is, so you may be as sure, that you are in Christ.

God hath not left the things of salvati­on, the great truths of his Gospell, to be judged by the pur-blind eye of a probable judgement, but by the cleer and open eye of Faith. And though they seem to lye never so contrary to the received prin­ciples of reason; yet if they have God's stampe, they must be beleeved by our Faith.

If we may but guesse and conjecture at things of the Gospell, what a miserable condition were we in? what a disparage­ment to the divine light of Truth, that it is not so demonstrative, and fit for know­ledge, as the maximes of Nature? Indeed as the Apostle saith, 1 Cor. 2.8. The na­turall man with all his accomplisht parts and light of reason, cannot perceive the things of God; the utmost of his know­ledge is but conjecturall and common; he sees not into the nature of these truths. But the poorest soule which hath the least beame of supernaturall light in his Understanding, beholds such infallible [Page 27] cleernesse in the mind of God, that his whole soule fals down before the mani­festation of it.

Ob. But can a soule be as much with­out controversy and doubt of his own salvation, and of his being wrapt up in in that Mystery, as he is of the truth of the things themselves?

Sol. I answer. Yes; the same that re­veales the one reveales the other, the same un-erring spirit that revealed the mystery in it selfe, reveales it to the soule, and the same closeth with the light of the one, as with the other; why may not a soule be assured, that what the Holy Ghost hath written in his heart, is as cer­taine, as what he hath writ in the word? Doubtlesse, the worke of the spirit in the fleshly tables of our heart, is as certaine; and I may have as sure knowledge of it, as of the writing in Tables of stone, or in paper; for the Mistery of God in the heart, is but a transcript of what is in the word: yea, doubtlesse it is more glo­rious then the bare expression of the my­stery in words. What makes the soule [Page 28] be fully perswaded, that this in the Bible is the word of God, that these truths are certaine? but because of that light and demonstration of the spirit, which accom­panies it, every one sees not that infalli­ble glory and beauty in these things, on­ly takes them up in a generall and custo­mary notion; but in the Saints they know it is so, as they know that snow is white, and the same light and power of the spirit, assures their soules, that what is written in their hearts, is as absolute, an undenyable truth. The inequa­lity of light from the spirit, causeth the inequality of knowledge and assurance, concerning them both. And the Apo­postle speaks as confidently of his own salvation, as he speaks of the Truth of the Gospell; we know that if this earthly house, &c. 2 Cor. 5.1. And we know we are of God, though all the world lyes in wickednesse: And there is a full assu­rance of Faith, as of understanding. Oh look therefore to come into an unque­stionable condition; once thou hast it de­monstrative that thou art in Christ; take [Page 29] heed of questioning it. As every word which God hath spoken, shall not passe away unfulfilled; so every worke which God hath wrought in thee, shall be per­fected, God giving the same assurance to thy spirit, as he doth to his owne Truth.


1 TIM. 3.16.

And without controversie great is the mystery of godlinesse, &c.

IN these words, there is a full and summary com­prehension of the deepest divine truths that ever came out of Gods heart, and a seale of confirmati­on added to the assurance of them; they are not things which hang on uncertaine [Page 30] grounds, but have such demonstrations within themselves, that they are without all controversy, confest absolutely by al Saints; not but that some doe deny them, but that in themselves they are to be beleeved by the Saints. There is no place in all the Scripture, that in one verse, doth Epito­mize all Divinity, as this; that I may call it a Map of both worlds, wherein at once you may behold all that, which would cost you all your life to travell over, and see in the fulnesse of its Glo­ry.

All Divinity may be reduced to two heads: Gods manifestation in Christ, and Christs manifestation in us; God in Him, and He in us; and both these are laid out to the full in the Text.

We may well admire the fullnesse, and shortnesse of Divine expression in the Scripture, that so much should be wrapt up in so little; more then to have Ho­mers Iliads compriz'd in a nut-shell. Turn over all the Volumes of Nature, all the large writings of Prophane or Divine Authors, they containe not so much mat­ter [Page 31] as one of these expressions will hold forth unto us.

That which I shall begin with, is the generall description of Divinity, which is laid down in these words;

Great is the Mystery of Godlinesse.


Wherein you have, first, the thing described, that is Godlinesse; or else you have,

  • The subject, Godlinesse.
  • The predicate, Mystery.
  • The adjunct, a Great Mystery.
  • 2. The description it selfe, it is a My­stery.
  • 3. The adjunct, our Title to expresse by, it is a Great Mystery.

The Apostle cannot containe himselfe in ordinary expressions; to say it was a mystery is an exceeding large expression beyond our apprehensions; but in that he cals it a great mystery, he raiseth our thoughts, and loseth our understan­ding.

This observe by the way, you can ne­ver speake too high of, nor admire too much any thing of the Gospell; when you have spoken to the utmost, and have lost your selfe and your hearers, yet then you are below what glory is conteined in them; you may speake too much of any creature, and presently transgresse in your commendations, but it is impossible that ever any expressions should reach Go­spell-mystery; Hyperboles in the world are the excretion of our frothy wits, and serve but only to indulge our corrupt af­fections; but as one saith, Deus & Coelum non patitur hyperbolen, all the height of ex­pressions and wit strained through the narrowest and purest fancy can never be too high in expressing Gospell-glory. Gods own spirit is as it were streightned, and at a losse for expressions to set forth the deep mysteries of the Gospell; and though what is spoken of them be pro­per, yet they are far under the things themselves, and no more than Pictures and Phantasmes to the reality of those things themselves. What words can be [Page 33] given to set forth invisible, and immortall, and immense glory. God hath help'd our senses and understandings by those ex­pressions, though in all that is written he hath spoken below himselfe; if a man should paint the glory of the sun, what co­lours could he use, or how would he limb out the nature of a soule? why spirituall mysteries are far more invisible and glo­rious.

1. I shall begin in the first place with the subject of the proposition, that it Godliness.

2. Shew that it is mystery.

3. That it is a Great mystery.

That every word as well single as com­pounded may have its weight.

For the first, the word ( [...]) signi­fies the right worshipping of God in the generall signification of it; and it is used by the heathens to expresse the worship of their Gods: But in that notion it is not meant here; besides, what was said the last time of the nature of Godlinesse, in regard of the communion of the two expressions truth and godlinesse, I shall [Page 34] proceed more particularly to express the nature of it.

It is used three waies in Scripture.

1. For the whole doctrine of the Go­spell as a generall word which containes whatever is demonstrated concerning God; so it is called the doctrine which is according to godlinesse, 1 Tim. 6.3. thus godlinesse is truth.

2. It is put for the inward worke of all these truths on the heart, for the gracious qualifications of a soule sutable to the truths of the Gospell; they are put both together by the Apostle, Tit. 1.1, 2. the ac­knowledgement of the truth which is af­ter godliness, it imports the inward frame of the soule in conformity to the truths which are godliness.

3. It is put forth the holy walkings of a Saint in the world from the patterne of these spirituall truths, 1 Tim. 4.7. exer­cise thy selfe in godlinesse, that is, in all the waies of holiness; by godliness here is meant the whole sum of divinity, the circumference of all Religion, especially that which contains the great contrivance [Page 35] of Gods wisdome and love in the Gospel, and the manifestation and working of it in us; It is not meant barely of the truths themselves, but of the workes of these truths in the Saints.

So that godliness consists in the light of truth, and in the life of grace; God ma­nifesting himselfe in the light of truth, and working in the life of love and grace in the heart.

There is a forme of godlinesse which the Apostle speaks of, 2 Tim. 3.5. a meere externall profession and garbe of godli­nesse, there is no mystery in that, men may take up a curious picture of holiness without much ado, nature can reach that mystery; but there is a power of godli­ness which consists in the life and spirit of truth in the soule, that is a mystery.

Will you know then what godliness is? It is the openings of Gods glory in its selfe, and the workings of it gloriously in the soule. Godlinesse lies not in the bare expression of words, nor in the externall forme of profession of these words: But it lies in the divine glory of God which [Page 36] is wrapt up in these words, and the gra­cious dispositions and affections of the soule to these things; What a great mat­ter is it for a man to confess Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, to pray and express outward words accordingly: But to see the mystery of that glory which is in this that Christ is Gods Son, and to have the powerfull influence of it in the soule, this is godlinesse, and that which is called a great mystery.

Thus then the whole manifestation of God in the Gospell, all the actings of his glory in truth, and all those truths wrought in the soule, is this godlinesse which the Apostle well cals a great my­stery; though this must be added, that the Apostle especially aimes here at the truths themselves, and Gods manifestati­on of his glory in them.

Now secondly, This he cals a mystery; It is a high expression, and worthy to be appropriated unto godlinesse; and the Holy Ghost ever makes use of it when he would set forth the unexpressible nature of Gospell-truth; therefore to open it:

[Page 37]1. It signifies some secret and hidden thing that is above vulgar apprehension; its word that comes from ( [...]) which signifies to shut up, and hide a thing that none may find it and know where it is, as men hide jewels and precious things from common hands; therefore Daniel saith, It is God in heaven that reveales myste­ries or secret things, Dan. 2.28. Thus god­linesse is a mystery hidden from the eyes of thousands, hidden in Gods own breast from everlasting, and as the Apostle ex­presseth in Eph. 3. hidden from generations of men. The Gospell is Gods secret, that which is his bosome counsell. Angels nor men could not have known it, if God had not revealed it; so that it is a myste­ry which without revelation is unknown, that which cannot be demonstrated or ar­gued out, but its nature consists in revela­tion. Among the heathen they had their mysteries in their temples which they must not discover; therefore there was an Image before the Temple with his finger before his mouth, shewing that they must be silent in discovering hidden mysteries. [Page 38] Though the Gospell be now revealed, yet it is a mystery, because once it was kept so secret.

2. And which follows from thence, that is a mystery which hath any thing in its owne nature which is not obvious, and which lies not open to the quick and pre­sent apprehensions of men; as some things in nature are said to be mysteries, and in government there are arcana imperii, hid­den things of state that the vulgar cannot pry into; secret wheeles that move ma­ny actions which they cannot see move, only do behold the outward action; the things of the Gospell are arcana Dei; though we see the things done, yet we see not these invisible glorious wheels which did act them; and thus though the thing it selfe be revealed, yet because the rea­sons of them lye under ground they are called mysteries; thus the conversion of the Gentiles, and the calling of the Jews are both called mysteries, Rom. 11. thus di­vine truths are mysteries; thou hearest of Christ, and hast manifestations of God to thee, but alas the infinite reason [Page 39] God hath acted from, the secret wheels that have run along in every veine of Gods love, that is unknown; who hath searched his counsels, saith the Apostle? All Gods actions to us they have come from infinite and unsearchable counsels; go into a Chymists shop, there thou fin­dest severall extractions of mettals which thou seest, and tastest, but how he did it thou know'st not; that is a mystery to thee, what art he used in so rare a thing which to thy eye seemes contrary and impossi­ble; godlinesse hath been acted in such an invisible way that it may well be cal­led a mystery: How hath the Load-stone pusled all the heads of the greatest ones in the world, that they have left it as a mystery, a thing only to be beleeved, but the reason not known, only have redu­ced its power under a generall notion of Sympathy, and all, because men knew not the occult reasons of its nature. That God should carry himselfe in such a hidden way of glory that none can find out his steps but only by the effects of it, and that we can only say it is so, but not how, or [Page 40] why it is so, is the mystery of godlinesse.

3. That is a mystery, whose inward nature and excellency cannot be expressd, but is wrapt up in outward figures and representations, that which is so glori­ous in its own Nature, as it cannot be seen or manifested to us, but by the in­tervention of some externall medium. Thus marriage is said to be a great my­st'ry, because it is set to convay the hidden and mystical Marriage between Christ and the Church. Eph. 5. One would have thought all along that Chapter; he spoke in a literall sence of marriage, but at last he sums up all; this a great mystery: But I speak concerning Christ and the Church. Thus all the Gospell in generall, and in particular, is full of mysteryes; Its owne Nature is vailed in words and outward Types: Gods relations to us and Christs, under the notions of Husband and Wife, Father and Children; God compared to light; Christ set out by a Lyon, a Lambe, a Shepherd: Grace express'd by gold and silver, and precious stones: Hea­ven by Paradise. All which things doe [Page 41] rather vaile, then expresse these hidden glories in them, and all these titles which are so many mysteries, of Christ in which are contain'd the Nature of things far a­bove them. And under all these is covered the realtie that God is to the soul. As Hie­roglyphicks doe denote something that is internall; so doe all the expressions of Scripture, and all the manifestations of God, but represent some hidden glorie that at first we cannot perceive. There­fore Christ delivers the Gospell in Para­bles, and tels his Disciples; Unto you it is given to know the Mysteries of the King­dome. God makes many shapes and ap­pearance of these inward beauties, that we may come to learn what they mean, by these sensible things. As some stately pictures are covered over with a Cur­taine, that every one that comes into the room, cannot see them: So is it with the things of Heaven; they are represented in grosse bodies, which is as a Curtaine before them. and untill that be drawn, none can behold them. The Sacraments, they are outward signes of an invisible [Page 42] glory; in Water, and Bread, and Wine, are represented and vailed, Christ in his person, and merrits, in all his holinesse to the soule; he that comes and touches these things, and tasts them, may see but little in them, more then in ordinary bread, but only God discovers a mystery under these signes, unto a Saints Faith, makes the soule see Christ in his Nature and Merits, and feel him in his Vertue. So in preaching the high and unexpressi­ble love of God is to be let forth in the words of a Minister; which words can never expresse what that love is.

And soules may heare a thousand of the most Gospell-Sermons that can be preach'd, and yet understand nothing of Divine Truth, only there is a mystery vai­led in these words; and the great and in­ward things of God are manifested thorough these words: And this is one great respect wherein the godliness is call'd a mystery, because its own Nature is not to be ex­prest, though it be represented by out­ward things.

4. It is a mystery, because of the ful­nesse, [Page 43] and vastnesse, and variety of its manifestations; it is so ful, as that it cannot be discovered at once; it is so vast, as that it cannot be lookt into but by degrees; the variety of its actings are so many, as that you have it open'd in severall parcels. As some looks that you have seen, have so many several wards and turnings in them, that though they be in one peece, yet you must have divers keys, and divers tur­nings to open it; as severall artificiall Boxes, folded in one another; so is the mystery of the Gospell, though one intire peece of Heavenly light, yet interwo­men with such varietie of turnings, and spreading it selfe abroad into so vast a circumference, that you cannot see but a little of its glory, as you can see no more of the Sun, then in your owne Horizon. So saith the Apostle, Rom. 1. The Righ­teousnesse of God, is revealed from Faith to Faith. And in the Revelations; The Book of the Lambe had seven Seales.

Take godlinesse in its selfe, and the whole bulk of it, and it is so large, as it reacheth from everlasting to everla­sting; [Page 44] and all along it is manifested in a multitude of new expressions and demon­strations.

Take it in all the particulars of it, and every one is a distinct mystery, and so large, that there is not any one part of it fully discovered, or to be compleatly knowen; very other knowledge may be soon attained unto, men have come to a great perfection in it; but all our life is but a learning of this art, none professe to be Masters of it, all are Scholars, and the more they learne, they wonder the more at their own ignorance, there is so much behind. It is delivered in short sentences, that all the wits in the world have been racking their heads, but to beat out knowledge of it. All the former ages have had worke enough for all their parts too, and to serve but their age, out of the very letters in which this mystery is written; and yet the after ages won­der that they have known no more, and could dig no more glory out of this one Myne. The very out-side, and Cha­racters of the Gospell, have tortur'd the [Page 45] strongest heads from age to age, but to understand the meaning of it. And how much doe Saints find in the Gospell, in this age, as if there were a new manife­station of God unto the world: Yea and the ages to come shall know more of this mystery then we have.

The Apostle. Ephes. 2.7. Hath an expression in the Ephesians, which is ob­servable, viz. That in the Ages to come he might shew forth the exceeding riches of his grace, [...]. The superabundant riches of grace, that is but one part of this mystery, yet it is in an extream excesse: Why had not God revealed grace enough in the former ages; and in that present age, in calling in the Gentiles, in converting so many thousands at once; what a deal of that grace had Paul himselfe. 1 Tim. 1.14. He saith, that grace did superabound to him, before he writ to the Ephesians, and is there any more grace to be revea­led? Oh, yes; herein lies the mystery of grace, that he hath reserved exceeding riches of grace, for the ages to come, [Page 46] grace that never saw light before, as if he had yet a fuller magazine of riches of grace for the latter ages, and unto this day, we see grace running over all bounds on the Creatures. And we may say the like of every part of godlinesse; It is such a vast body of light and glory, that it can be seen by no eye in the world at once. God hath laid out every part in a distinct excellency: As when you goe to buy curious things at the Exchange, there are so many varieties, that you must have one box opened, then another, and by degrees see all their commodities: Therefore you have it said of the mani­festations of God in the old Testament. 1 Heb. 1. [...]. God ma­nifested in his glory, by peece-meale, and in divers wayes and administrations, be­cause of the abundance of glory in it; so not in the new Testament, these truths are set forth in divers administrations, divers operations, and multitude of gifts; some have one gift, some ano­ther, and yet all but opening one and the same mystery, in various and severall [Page 47] waies; the whole variety of dispensa­tions is called by the Apostle Peter, 1 Pet. 4.10. The manifold wisdome of God, or the wisdome of God variously mani­fested, one and the same wisdome acted in severall glories ( [...].) And thus god­linesse is a mystery indeed, which hath such manifold wisdome in it, so highly, and di­versly, and successively acted.

Fifthly, A mystery is put to express the depth of knowledge, the profound­nesse of any Science; it is knowledge un­known as it were unto the most, that which few know, or can dive into. It is not the scum or froth of wit, but the height and depth of wisdome; to be known in mysteries is to be a man of lear­ning and knowledge, as we say: Thus is godlinesse a mystery, that it hath the bot­tome and depth of all counsell and wis­dome in it; in the contrivance of godli­nesse God acted his utmost and eternall wisdome, and there you have the bot­tome of his heart turned up; these things that lay deep in the boundlesse sea of eter­nity are brought in sight unto our eyes; [Page 46] the Apostles expression of it is this, he brought life and immortality to light, through the Gospell. As if some man of rare parts should bring to knowledge some secret and strange contrived plot of great consequence into a state; why by the Gospell which is the systeme of godli­nesse, light, and immortality, the greatest things of most infinite concernment are brought to light; you read in the Corin­thians of the deepe things of God which the Spirit reveales, 1 Cor. 2. ( [...]) these deep things are nothing else but this mystery of godlinesse, which come out of the depth of wisdome, and power, and love unto our soules.

In Rom. 11. the Apostle speaking but of one part of this mystery in the rejecti­on of the Jews, cries out in admiration, ( [...]) Oh the depth both of the wis­dome and knowledge of God, &c. godli­nesse is no shallow thing, an outside of knowledge, but the very depth of wis­dome and knowledge, the word signifies a gulph that hath no bottome at all.

There is not a part of godlinesse but [Page 47] you must go back unto eternity to find its beginning, it containes the weightiest and important things of immortality and glo­ry; the Elephant may swim in these streames, the soule may soone be drow­ned in wading into these waters, lose his feet, and have the billows of immortality and unsearchable wisdome overflow him; godlinesse containes things which reason cannot reach, which wit cannot expresse, which the vastest understanding cannot containe. Sense is swallowed up, reason is non-plust while it deales with those my­steries; the Apostle professeth that they are so deep that none but the blessed spi­rit, who knows all things, can reveale them; yea, and he saith, that he searcheth the deep things, &c. As if they were so deep that the Spirit it selfe must search into them before he can know them; not but the Spirit knows all things, but to ex­presse unto us what mysterious things are in godlinesse.

Babylon in the Revelations is called a my­stery, because of the depth of deceit and policy whereby she stands, Rev. 10.7. In a [Page 48] word, whatever is darke in it selfe, or de­livered in hidden and unusuall termes, that is called a mystery, whatever can­not be known but meerly by Revelation, Rom. 16.25. Thus is the Gospell, and all Religion purely to be discovered by the revelation of the spirit of God; thus much of what the Word in its use im­ports: I must apply this ere I go far­ther.

Ʋse 1. It may serve as a reason to in­forme us, why no more are acquainted with the Gospell, it is a mystery; the most of men are ignorant of the ordina­ry, and the common principles of nature, there are but a few of strong apprehensi­ons that can fathome them, but the things of Religion are mysteries far above the reach of nature; no marvell if the wise men, and the noble men of the world are so foolish in these things; for the Apostle gives the reason, We speake the wisdome of God in a mystery, 1 Cor. 2.7. the wisdome of God is made known in the Gospell, and in a mystery; what is that? why it is vailed in outward, and poore, and low expressi­ons, [Page 49] which all their parts cannot see in­to.

The Apostle professeth, that no natu­rall man can reach the meaning of them, 1 Cor. 2.14. All the things of Christ they are paradoxes, strange things to men of great judgements in the world; and the reason is, because they are spiritually to be discerned: ( [...]) this is a great objection against many things of truth, such great men and wise men can see no reason for it; it is no wonder, for they are mysteries: Those which will find out this riddle must plow with ano­ther Heifer than sense and reason, and na­turall endowments. God hath so orde­red that he hath chosen the foolish things of the world, ( [...]) to confound the wise things of the world. 1 Cor. 1.27.

Therefore the Gospell is called the wisdome of God, as opposite to the wis­dome of men; And the Apostle saith po­sitively, that it was wisdome in such a mystery that none of the Princes of this world knew; Nay, the Spirit jeeres all the learned of the world in this very thing, be­cause [Page 50] of their grosse ignorance, ( [...]?) Where is the Scribe? Where is the wise? Where is the disputer? hath not God made foolish the wisdome of the world? 1 Cor. 1.20. ( [...]) Christ he bles­seth his Father for this, that he had hid these things from wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes, Mat. 11.

There is a twofold knowledge of Re­ligion: A historicall, or notionall, and spirituall, and mysticall; the first, these which are most wise may come unto the most exact knowledge of, as far as letters and words will expresse things, as much as outward Characters can expresse in­ward life; and they may know the true sence and meaning of things in the Gospel, according to what either the history, or the tenor of such words will import, and have as reall meaning of the words as the best of Saints may have: But this is (hae­rere in cortice) to stick at the rind, they can never spiritually see into that glorious mystery which God intends by those ex­pressions.

But this I would have all to note, [Page 51] though the mystery is more than can be exprest in word, and there is a further glory hidden than is exprest in any sen­tences divine, yet there is no mystery con­trary to the very sense and meaning of the positive words of scripture.

Ob. So that if any aske how far the light of humane reason can go in the fin­ding out these great mysteries?

Sol. I answer, No farther than what the sense of words will beare, and the deduc­tions, and conclusions from thence, (which yet may be as true for the notion as any knowledge which enlightned souls have) but into the intimate glory and nature of the things themselves, and Gods designe of love and glory in them, all the light of na­ture cannot see, for they are spirituall things, though cloathed with earthly formes, and expressing themselves by earthly mediums, and they are to be judged in their owne nature, and their ownlight. ( [...]) judging spirituall things by spirituall, as the sun must be tried by its own light, not, by the stars or a candle; for example [Page 52] suppose a mans soule be affected with joy or griefe, or taken up with apprehensi­ons of some high nature, and it breakes forth in words or writing to expresse this, any man which hath reason can tell what the words mean, and so gives judgement of his workings: But to see intimately how that soule works, how the spirits flow up and downe in the workings of the soule on those apprehensions, none can imagine but one that is possest with the very same passion, and can go as it were purely into such a soule; so may I say of all the myste­ry of the Gospell, the sound of words, the sense of things which they hold forth, na­ture may see, reason may apprehend: But to behold the spirituall glory and beauty of God in these above all things else, none but the spirituall man, one who hath his heart in the bosome of those glories, can see. Therefore the Apostle prayes for the Ephesians, Eph. 1.17, 18. That they might have the Spirit of wisdome and revelation, in the know­ledge of him, the eyes of their under­standing being enlightned, they might know, &c.

[Page 53]2. Ʋse. What cause hast thou to blesse God for ever, who hast any thing of this mystery made known to thee? It was hid from ages and generations of men, and hath God revealed it in any measure to thy poor soule? Oh what a deal of wonder should it raise in thy heart. It is as a great mystery, to reveal this in thee, as the things themselves doe hold forth. The Apostle to the Colossi­ans, magnifies the dispensation of it, 1 Col. 26, 27. And he cals it the riches of the glory of the mystery, which is, Christ in you. This mystery holds forth the unsear­chable riches of Christ to the poor soul: Oh, men doe not know what a mercy it is, to have a revelation of this glorious Christ, in such a mystery, in their owne soules; that must needs be a glorious mercy, which Christ doth so heartily thanke his Father for, Mat. 11.

There is not such an expression in all the Scripture againe, where Christ doth so expressely thanke his Father, as for the revelation of these great things to poore soules.

God might have shut up thee in blind­ness with the world, given thee only parts and gifts in the world, heightned thy understanding, to have contemplated the secrets of Nature, and it had born a great mercy, or at most might have inlightned thy reason, to have taken in the out­ward notion of the Gospell: But hath he revealed Christ in thee, let thee see into the wonders of glory, which no tongue can expresse, and given thee the light of his Glory in thy heart? Oh, how should thy soule be ravished with the riches of God's love to thee?

3. Ʋse. If Religion be a mystery, how should we wait on God for the mani­festation of every truth of it: when we come to heare the Gospell, we should come as to mysteries, lay downe our owne carnall reason and unbeliefe, and look for God to teach us, and to reveale his owne glory in us.

There is a twofold vaile must be taken away, the one from our eyes, and the other from the things themselves.

1. God must open divine truths to us [Page 55] in their owne Nature; there is a vaile that lies on them, viz. the darknesse of the expression of them; nay, the resplen­dentnesse and exceeding glory of truth in its selfe, is as a vaile before it, as the glory of the Sun is as a vaile unto it, that we cannot look stedfastly on it to behold its Nature. Now, God must remove all vailes from godlinesse, and make its glory raking unto us, and not only so: But

2. The vaile must be taken off from our eyes; though these things were never so lightsome, yet if we are blind, it is all one to us: light and darkenesse is at one with a blind man. The Apostle saith of the Jewes, that when Moses was read there was a vaile on his face; they could not see thorough these outward sha­dowes, the living substance, Jesus Christ; but the reason was, because the vaile was on their hearts: But when the vaile is taken off, then we behold with open face, the glory of God, as in a glasse. 2 Cor. 3 ult.

Men strive to excell in knowledge in the world, to dive into things that are [Page 56] not common, which others understand nor. Oh Brethren, here is knowledge in­deed, to comprehend this mystery of god­linesse.

1. In the knowing this a man comes to be privy to all God's eternall plots and de­signes of love and grace unto the world.

2. Soules which behold this mystery, they see their own persons, and happiness wrapped up in it; for it is a mystery for us, and in us.

3. In knowing this, a soule is able to reconcile all contradictions, both in him­selfe and the world, for they all have their reason here, which in Nature, are absurdities.

4. There is no way to take thy heart or worke on thy soule by any truth, but as thou seest in the hidden and mysteri­ous excellency of it; all outward ap­prehensions of divine things, will goe no farther then the outward man.


1 TIM. 3.16.

God manifested in the flesh, &c.

I Am now come to these particulars, wherein the Apostle layes down the greatnesse of the Mystery of godlinesse; he might well elevate his voice, and ac­cent his words when he was to speak of such deep things; to call it a great Myste­ry. Godlinesse in generall is a mystery, and every thing contained in it, grace and the actings of so many mysteries. But here indeed lyes the greatnesse of the mystery, that is passing all knowledge, that God is manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit.

So that the Apostle summes up all the mystery of godlinesse in these six parti­culars.

Before I come to handle each distinct­ly, know in generall, that all that is spo­ken of here in this mysterious enumera­tion of particulars, it is spoken of, in re­ference to Jesus Christ, he is the summe and subject of it. For God manifested in the flesh, was no other then Christ, who was also justified in the spirit, and who is Preached unto the Gentiles, and who is be­leeved on in the World, &c. They all are so many severall openings of Christ, ac­cording to the severall waies he may be apprehended,

Christ is the mystery wrapt up in all the mysteries of the Gospell; he com­prehends all the circumference of godli­nesse; he is the scope of all the Scriptures, the Pearle hid in the large Field of God's word. Every line is drawn to him, as the centre, all things and persons in the old world were types of him, all the Prophets prophesied of him, all the New Testament speaks of him, all the Saints [Page 59] are joyn'd to him, all Gods love runs tho­rough him, all graces and gifts flow from him, the whole eye of God is upon him, his great designes in Heaven and Earth meet in him; as man is an Epitome of the whole world, so is Christ of all reli­gion. Eph. 1.10. There is an [...], a summing up of all things in Heaven and Earth, in Jesus Christ. If you look on the Creation, the world was made by Christ, Col. 1.15, 16, 17. on evidences, all things subsist in Christ, have their being and well being in him: If you eye what is the end of all things, why it is Christ; all things made for him: Look againe how all things are redeemed, why God was in Christ, reconciling the world, 2 Cor. 6. Will you know where to finde God? why, he is in Christ. Will you know what is Heaven? it is to be with Christ; Phil. 1. Whence comes the spirit but from Christ. what doth the spirit do in the World? He shall glorifie Christ, for he shall take of mine, Joh. 16. What is the subject of the Old & New Testament, but a Christ to come, and come? What is [Page 60] the end of preaching, but to bring men to Christ? What use of ordinances, but to set forth Christ? Christ is the great cen­ter between Heaven and Earth, God, An­gels, Men, and all creatures meet in him, and are all vertually in him. What is in the Saints, but Christ? What doe the Saints love and beleeve in, but Christ? He is the fulnesse of him that fils all in all. 1 Ephes. ult.

Use. Let all creatures stand and gaze, and wonder and admire at Jesus Christ, he is the great wonder of knowledge. Oh, how should all our hearts be con­tracted in the beholding Jesus Christ! What delight should soules take in the studying of this Christ? Saints, turne your eyes on the Lord, and see his glo­ry. Whatever you know in the world, labour to know him: He is the mystery of all the glory of God. When thou hast sought over all the world, all the Gospell, thou shalt find God laying out nothing but Christ; all relations are found in Christ, all excellencies are ga­thered up in him, as beames in the Sun. [Page 61] Come poor soule, whose eyes run two and fro the world to find comforts and happinesse, cast thy eye back, and see Heaven and Earth in one, and look what ever thy vast thoughts can fancie, not only to be in this world, but in the world to come; or if thou canst imagine more variety, see that, and infinitely more shi­ning forth from the person of the Lord Jesus. Ministers must cry up Christ; Saints must adore him, Angels must stand amazed at him, all creatures must vaile all their glory to him: Here is an object of love, a compendium of all glories; here is one for a heart to be taken with, that is made of nothing but of severall mysteries of glory.

Well might the Apostle; 1 Cor. 2.2. Phil. 3. desire to know nothing but Je­sus Christ; to account all things but dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ, he knew all things in him,

Oh what mad men are sinners, which reject this Christ, they slight all at once; nothing is ever to be had without Christ, nothing but in Christ. Why stand you [Page 62] gazing on the toyes of this world, when such a Christ is offered you in the Go­spell? Can the world die for you? can the world bring God to you? can the world advance you to Heaven?

Oh, let all cry out, none but Christ, studdy nothing but Christ, goe to nothing but Christ, admire nothing but Christ; as he is the summe and substance of all things, so let him be the full and compleat subject of your Faith and Love, and Joyes and Delights; the more you see him, the more your hearts will be lost in love to him; you may see every day new mysteries of Love and Beauty in Jesus Christ, new depths of wisdome and fulnesse. Oh, how could the Apostle choose when he thought of Christ, but break out as he did: Let them be Anathema Maranatha, that love not the Lord Jesus. Cursed for ever be those soules, that cannot love such a Christ; there can be no curse too dread­full.

But so much only in the generall, which yet is worth your observation.

The particulars in themselves are so glorious, as they dazle my eyes; some­thing might be said of them, but the depth and glory of them, can never be ex­prest.

To begin with the first.

God manifest in flesh.

This is the bottome of all the mysteries in the Gospell; every word speaks Pa­radoxes, God manifested is wonderfull, for no man ever saw God at any time; But God manifested in flesh, that is a con­tradiction; it is more absurd to nature, then to say, a spirit is flesh: God hath gone beyond us exceedingly in the work of our own salvation; yet because that the thing is made known, we must pry into the mystery of it, and of all the mysteries in the Gospell, this is the first and grea­test, the foundation of all the rest. In the opening of it, we must observe;

  • 1. What is meant by God.
  • 2. What by God manifested.
  • 3. What by flesh, and the manife­station in flesh.
  • [Page 64]4. How God hath manifested him­selfe in flesh.
  • 5. The eminency of this manifesta­tion above all other.
  • 6. The mystery of all this.

For the first: By God, is not meant God essentially, the very God-head inde­finitely, but God personally in such a person; though the whole god-head be included, yet it is manifested but in one Person; to wit, the second Person Jesus Christ, because all actions are done by Persons, not by Natures: Therefore, this is a manifestation of God in his owne Son. God's essence was never manife­sted, no man ever saw God, only, the onely begotten Son.

He that came out of his bosome to re­veale him: And this is none other, but an exact description of Christ, which is, God manifest in the flesh.

Now secondly; by God is not barely meant an apparition of God in flesh, which he meant to lay downe againe upon an occasion; but as the word signifies pas­sively, [Page 65] conspicuus factus est in carne, is made known and cleer to us in flesh. This ma­nifestation notes not a transcient shew of God to us, but a cleer and constant de­monstration of God, and the only great and glorious first way of the manifesting God unto us, as the word signifies, a ma­king of a thing to shine as the Sun to our eyes, that convinceth every man, of what he seeth: And this not only as a glimpse of God, which was very glorious, and so away; but as the cleerest and richest way of discovery, that ever was, or should be in this world.

But thirdly, VVhat this flesh should be is a mystery. Flesh is taken severall ways in Scripture.

First, For sinne, and its sinfull Nature we have.

See the lusts of the flesh, that cannot be here meant, God hath made no appea­rance of himselfe in sin.

Secondly, Flesh taken for our humane Nature.

All flesh have corrupted their waies, Gen. 6. That is, all men, their Natures [Page 66] are defiled. So Rom. 7. in my flesh, dwels no good thing, that is, in my Nature, ei­ther in soule or body, or both.

Thirdly, Flesh is commonly taken for the weaknesse and infirmities of that Na­ture; All flesh is grasse, and the glory of it as the flower. 1 Pet. 1.

And the Holy Ghost speaking of the Aegyptian Horses, tels you, that they are flesh and not spirit, it is weak and not strong. So that,

Fourthly, How hath God manifested himselfe in flesh, not in the first sence, but the two latter, in appearing in our Na­ture, in taking our infirmities and weak­nesse, sutable unto that Nature, (sin still excepted.) And what is here called the manifestation of God in flesh, is in other Scriptures parallell explain'd. As he is said to be Immanuell, God with us. Mat. 2. How can that be, but only because of be­ing in the same common Nature with us. It is said, the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. 1 John 14. it is the same phrase with this; for the word was God. v. 1. And yet it was made flesh, not that there [Page 67] was any transmutation of God into flesh, that was blasphemy, but only by reason of the union of flesh to him who was God.

This is farther exprest in the Apostle to the Hebrews Heb. 2.16. He took not on him, the Nature of Angels, but the seed of Abraham. ( [...]) He assumed not to himselfe; that is, God did mani­fest himselfe, or appeared in any Ange­licall Nature, but in the Nature of men; And was made in all things like unto us, sin only excepted.

There is another cleer place, Phil. 2.6, 7, 8. Which the Apostle urgeth about the manner of this discovery, that Christ, though he were in the forme of God, and thought it no robbery (that is, did God no wrong to say he was equall with him) yet assumed or took on him, or appeared in the forme or the likenesse of a servant, it is our Nature which was in sub­jection and servitude unto God.

So that now this manifestation of God in flesh, is no other then God in the se­cond person, assuming to himselfe the [Page 68] humane Nature, and so revealing him­selfe to men, sutably to their condition; and this is Christ. This manifestation is an effect of Gods assumption of our Na­ture; so that this expression literally im­ports:

1. The assuming of our Nature, and the union with God; God taking up us to himselfe as one, in our common Nature.

2. The full discovery of God to us, in our owne Nature, God acting forth his glory in our owne flesh.

And al this is stil but to denote out Christ, who is the person set forth in the Gospell, who was with God, and was God, and dwelt among us, as the Apostle saith; that is, took up his Tabernacle of flesh in our Nature, thereby to converse with us: Yet many would faine wrest this Scripture from the person of Christ; for some of the old Interpreters, as Beza ob­serves; leave out ( [...]) and put in only ( [...]) quod manifestè est) omit God, and put in which mystery manifested in flesh, there­by to take off the glory of Christs as God. Erasm. by flesh, here he under­stands [Page 69] the whole world, and by mani­festation the Gospell, intimating that this is the mystery, that God should be mani­fested to the world, but that is contrary unto this place, for he afterwards speaks of the Preaching of it to the Gentiles, that is, to the whole world.

It is doubtlesse, meant of God as in our Nature, making up the person of Jesus Christ; and this will yet appeare if you consider the

4 Thing; that this was the greatest manifestation of God, that ever was; God was manifested in nothing like this; for look first over the manifestation of God in the first creation, there was but only some outside of God's glory disco­vered, nothing of Gods Nature: The whole world never saw what God was, truly by that: Indeed the Apostle saith, Rom 1. That the invisible things of God, were knowne by the things that are made, even God's eternall power and wisdome; but these were manifested in an ordinary and common way; as a Pi­cture shewes the art of the Painter, but [Page 70] yet you may not know his person. But in this, God himselfe is manifested; for first, here is not only so much of God ma­nifested, as humane nature it selfe could demonstrate, for then it had been a poor manifestation of God, who can see God, in seeing all the men in the world, or in all the Saints in the world, in their flesh; but it sets out a speciall way of assumption of our Nature unto the person of Christ, who was God ma­king these two natures, but one person.

2. This manifestation was in union of flesh in the neerest way to God himselfe; not as a lanthorne to hold the light only of God's glory; but as one intire person, to represent what God is in himselfe; all the whole world was never united to God before, though God did manifest some thing to our Nature, as to Adam, yet God did never unite any creature to himselfe before, and though God was manifest to flesh, yet never in flesh before; that is the great mystery. God is manifest to his Saints, but he is not manifested in the flesh or in the Nature of any but Jesus Christ. [Page 71] This is so great a manifestation, as that God is become man, as it were by rea­son of the union of their Natures; the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; as if God had relinquished his own Name and Nature, and lost himselfe in our Na­ture; he was found in the forme of a ser­vant. Now let us but thinke what a mani­festation of God this must be, which is God not only letting forth himselfe in a way of communication, but God in union with the same Nature which we are in: Therefore Christ is called the expresse image of the person of the Father, not an image as he was the second person meer­ly; for so he was not the image, but God himselfe; but an image, because in that union of our Nature with God, there was the exactest discovery of God him­selfe, as possible could be to the creature.

2 Cor. 3 ult. Therefore Christ is cal­led a glasse, wherein a man may with open face, behold the bright glory of God. But

6. How great must this mystery needes be; God manifested in flesh? how is [Page 72] that possible? flesh hides God, he is of a spirituall Nature; it is as much as to say the Sun manifested in a cloud, or light manifest in darknesse: I confesse, my heart could rather stand and admire, then speak any thing more. What ever is a medium of conveyance of any thing in Nature, must be proportion'd unto the thing it discovers; as the aire, not a mud wall conveys the light of the Sun to us; flesh and God; what proportion is there between them; let flesh be but thought, God must needs be forgotten, for they are at an infinite distance, yea, contrary; yet this is the mystery.

1. God not only setting our himselfe thorough flesh in a transient way, shining thorough it, but being made flesh, being one with flesh.

2. Not in innocent Nature, but in the likenesse of sinfull Nature, Rom. 8.3. To manifest himselfe in the flesh of Rebels and Traytours, and honour that flesh which had so sinned, and was so polluted: this is a mystery.

3. To act in this Nature in the world, [Page 73] to dye, and be despised, and suffer the utmost contradiction of sinners, who is able to fathom the depth of this mystery? As one saith of the Trinity, they were like three sisters, which spun one piece of a garment, and only one weares it; so had all these three an hand in the ma­king of this Nature, but only Christ the second Person weares it, and all their glory is laid out in it; how one Person could be God and man; how God should be put to death in our Nature, to recon­cile us to himselfe, flesh filled with the fulnesse of God, is beyond the apprehen­sion of men and Angels to declare. But we may tell that it is so, and admire it as we speake. Blessednesse to be made a curse, Heaven let downe into Hell, the God of the world shutting himselfe up, as it were in a body, the invisible God made visible to sense; he which hath all things in Heaven and Earth at his com­mand, not have a house in the world, glory it selfe of no comelinesse: What shall I say, all things become nothing, making it selfe of no reputation? And a [Page 74] thousand more such paradoxes are wrapt up in this one expression. Oh how great a depth is in this glorious design of God; he was manifested to Adam, to Moses, and many others; but here was his utmost manifestation in our flesh.

For the nature of this manifestation, know:

1. It is not a bare manifestation of some attributes of God, but it is a mani­festation of God in his own nature; the fulnesse of the God-head dwelt in Christ bodily or really, Col. 2. Not that God is circumscribed in our Nature, but that the God-head it selfe is united to Christs body, and dwels in it, fils it, and abides up­on him.

2. Neither is it a manifestation of God absolutely, as in himselfe; but as in or­der to reconciliation and salvation of soule. For God might have been mani­fested else in our flesh to have consumed us: But as the Apostle saith, God was in Christ, reconciling the World to himselfe. That is, God was in Christs Nature, as a God in order to the reconciling poor [Page 75] soules; and this is the great mystery. God was offended by our Nature, and God takes that Nature on himselfe, to recon­cile us to himselfe, by himselfe. God himselfe will pay the price, out of his own glory, for our offences only assumes our Nature, (as if it should be thought to act it out for us) and joines it to his sonne, and cals that Christ, and this is the Gos­pell-notion of Christ, God manifest in flesh, in order to the reconciliation of poor soules. Thus God must satisfie himselfe, and save us, himselfe only takes our Nature to doe it in, and cals it Christ a Saviour, when it is none other then God himselfe in our Nature, transa­cting our peace.

This manifestation is a peculiar one.


First, God was never manifested as one with flesh before; he was not one with Adam's Nature, or with any of the first Creation; but this is a manifestation of ownnesse

Secondly, God never manifested him­selfe in his God-head before, in such a [Page 76] manner: many of his glorious attributes were seen and discovered, as his wis­dome, power; But no man saw God at any time, the only begotten Sonne revea­led him, and the fulnesse of the God-head dwelt in no Nature bodily, but in our Nature which Christ had.

Thirdly, God never manifested him­selfe in such a straine of love, as in our flesh; it was the highest manifestation of Love, that ever was, that God loved our very Nature so, as to be one with us; herein was his love manifested, and commended indeed, that he would come down in our Nature to us. And as one said well, God did so love the very Nature of his Elect, that though he had them not all with him in Heaven for the present, yet he must have their picture, of their own Nature in his Sonne, to see them in, and love them.

1. Ʋse. Then here is still ground of new admiration and wonder to soules; God is come downe, and hath left as it were his owne habitation, to dwell a­mo [...] the sonnes of men: This is the first [Page 77] and great mystery of the Gospell. God out of infinite goodnesse, would make a revelation of himselfe to the world; to doe it in his pure glory, would consume all flesh, especially seeing it was to be a manifestation unto sinners; but he cloths himselfe with flesh, with our own Nature, and so appears to us, as in infinite love and sweetnesse; there be many great designes in this one.

1. By this he takes away the distance between his majesty and us, for he is now become Immanuell, God with us. The thoughts of God would have been sufficient terror; we could never have come nigh God, for we were infinitely below him. But now, Gods taking up our Nature as one with himselfe, and appearing as in our own form and like­nesse, hath broken down the wall of par­tition in Nature, as that which takes away the dwelling nature of Gods glory, yet reflects the reall sweetnesse of it to us.

2. By this, God would indeare and sweeten himselfe to his poor creature, and [Page 78] fit a way of sweet converse with us; if God had manifested himselfe in his own naked glory, still while we are sinners, we should not only be daz'led, but shrunk up to nothing; to see the Sun as it shines in its owne lustre, would spoile the sight of the strongest eye.

But to look upon it, as in an eclipse in water, or thorough a glasse, that is not offensive; to consider God in himselfe, is to have our soules swallowed up, but to look on God in our nature, brings down his glory to our eye, and wooes us to be­hold it.

3. By this God hath raised up a statue and visible monument of his own infinite love to his Elect for ever: For rather then they shall want a sutable discovery of himselfe, he will come and take up their owne nature, and be called after their names, as if he would be any thing to shew his love. This is the fullest visible demonstration of God's love that ever was: It was more for God to take our nature, then simply to save us, more then let a out bare mercy, and grace in it selfe. [Page 79] For a King to save a murtherer from the Gallowes, by his owne prerogative, and dispence with the Law, is not such an act of love and mercy, as to take the mur­therers clothes, and weare them as his richest livery, and give as a mark of ho­nour, to his owne Sonne, and to make an honourable order of the rags of that gar­ment, as that King did of a Garter. God hath done more in taking our Nature; what love was this, that God will be no more God, as it were simply, but take up another Nature, rather then the brightnesse of his owne glory shall undoe us.

4. By this God would shew what he means to bring us unto; he took our na­ture up to himselfe, as a pattern or type of what he would bring all Saints unto; God is come down in our likenesse, to bring us up into his likenesse. Nature was never so advanced; it is the highest glory that is possible to be put upon nature, it is more then to fill all our souls with a fulnesse of grace; for our nature is united in a personall union with the [Page 80] second person, then which there cannot be more glory. What a faire step is now made, for the bringing the person up to the injoyment of God.

Oh, let none say now, that God is not willing to save soules, who is come down so low, as live among us; say not who shall goe up to Heaven to bring downe God, or downe unto the deeps to fetch him up. God is nigh you, even in your owne flesh: You may but turne about, and see God manifested to your owne eyes; we preach not fancy, when we lay out the riches of Gods glory in love and mercy. But as the Apostle saith, what we have seen, and what we have felt and tasted, that we declare unto you, 1 Joh. 1.1, 2, 3. Say not unbelieving soule, how shall I come nigh God; why God is come to thee, he dwels in the Tabernacles of men. In a word, God is manifested in our flesh, that our flesh may be taken up into his fulnesse.


1 TIM. 3.16.

God manifested in the flesh, &c.

I Made an entrance on this the last day, but there are new mysteries yet ari­sing, and no sooner doth one discovery passe but another comes on, this bottomlesse depth of Gods glory in the Gospell can be sounded by none but God himselfe; we have some manifestations of it, and that in flesh, or else we had ne­ver imagined what thoughts God had to­wards his poore Creatures; besides what hath been spoken as to the opening of the words, still this must be taken in, That it is not God in flesh mystically, but perso­nally: Or else thus, It is not meant of God manifested in flesh, that is, in the [Page 82] whole mysticall body of Christ, the Saints: But only God assuming our nature into the union of Christs person, and this had need to be observed, because all these places, where it is said, that it pleased the Father, that in him all fulnesse should dwell, Col. 1.19. and that the fulnesse of the God-head dwelt in him bodily, Col. 2. and this place is spoken of Christ mystically, or in his body, not personally, intimating that God dwels in the flesh of the Saints, as much as in the humane nature of Jesus Christ; and that there is no other distinction than of head and members.

Now to cleare up this to you, I shall not need to go farther than this verse.

1. This is spoken of a thing that is al­ready done: God is, or was manifested in flesh; now if it were meant of the whole mystical body of Christ, it must have been said God will manifest himself in flesh, for all that body is not yet made up, are not capable of any such manifestation, thou­sands of them being yet unborne.

2. God that is manifested in flesh, is ju­stified in spirit, and seen of Angels, and [Page 83] preached unto the Gentiles, and beleeved on in the world, and received up to glo­ry; now none will be so grossely igno­rant as to attribute this to Saints; Saints are not preached to the Gentiles, nor be­lieved on in the world, nor yet all recei­ved up to glory.

3. God as manifest in flesh, did dye in that flesh, was crucified to make atonement for sin, for this was a manife­station in order unto reconciliation; now who will say, that the bodies of the Saints did dye, and were offered up in sacrifice, and did make our peace with God, which they must be said to do, if the meaning of the phrase be according to that interpre­tation.

We had need be wary in the letting out our thoughts on the Scripture, and fastening interpretation of things, seeing such strange consequences may follow.

And especially take heed of advan­cing Saints so as to lessen Christ; he must have the preheminence above Saints and Angels; and know that there is not only a distinction between Christ and Saints [Page 84] meerly as head and members, but a distin­ction of them in regard of their persons; for Christ is a head, in regard of his person, as the husband is the head of his wife, and though they be one body, yet he is a di­stinct person, and hath those incommuni­cable prerogatives that cannot be appro­priated either to Saints singly, or as his body.

Gods manifestation to the flesh of Saints, is at second hand thorough Christ, of his fulnesse, that is, of that fulnesse which resides eminently and distinctly in his person, they receive grace for grace. Indeed God is said to dwell in us, and we in God; but how? not as God dwels in Christ, but because he dwels in us by his own nature, and we by union with Christ partake of that fulnesse, according to our measure. God dwels in Christ immedi­ately, and as a God he dwels in us through Jesus Christ, Christ letting out part of that fulnesse on our hearts. And thus God was pleased that in him all fulnesse should dwell, and by him to reconcile all things to himselfe, that in all things he might [Page 85] have the preheminence, and that his per­son might be distinctly admired above all Creatures.

The difference of Gods manifesting himselfe in flesh, that is, in Christs hu­mane nature, and ours, lies in this, that this manifestation was as in an ordinance of life and salvation, making that person which had our nature the great conveyer of eternall peace and comfort through that flesh; so the Apostle, Col. 1.22. In the body of his flesh, through death, he is to present us blamelesse and spotlesse to his Father; wherefore saith the Apostle a­gaine, Heb. 2.17. It became him in all things to be made like his brethren, that he might be a mercifull high Priest, &c. that is, that he might be fit to convey life and salvation to poore soules.

But Gods manifestation in the flesh, or persons of the Saints, is as into severall Cisternes which lye under the fountaine to receive their proportion: God manife­sting himselfe in Christs flesh is as of a fulnesse to fill all; but in the person of the Saints it is but of severall degrees and [Page 86] measures in order to a fulnesse; that we may come to the fulnesse of the measure; God hath manifested himselfe in our na­ture, that by that he might at length fill all our persons; Thus is our nature joy­ned to the Godhead, to be as a great pipe set at the mouth of some full spring, that through that God might run out his love and glory by degrees on our heart; first Christ receives it at once, and then tho­rough his Spirit discovers it in us.

In a word, Gods manifestation in Christs flesh was as a Saviour, a Redee­mer, a Head, yea, as the Author of eter­nall Salvation to us. And this is the my­sterie of mysteries, he which reads this may very well cease to wonder at any thing else.

This is the foundation of all Gods o­ther actings to us, the pole on which they all turne, all the discoveries of God are wrapt up in this one; this unlocks Gods own Cabinet wherein all his designes lye; Election, Redemption, Glorificati­on, all is wrapt up in this, and made cleare when we understand this one expression; [Page 87] God manifested in flesh, it is the being of light, and immortality to light, at once it opens heaven and earth.

1. This is the foundation of our union with God and Sonship; it is from hence that God is one with our nature, God is manifested as a Father in our own flesh; we are Sons, because Christ is, he was re­ally and naturally the Son, and wee through him receive the adoption of sons; For he which sanctifieth and they which are sanctified are all one, therefore he is not asha­med to call them brethren, Heb. 2.11. So you have (Gal. 4.4, 5.) God sent forth his Son in our flesh, that we might receive the adop­tion of Sons. God first takes our na­ture and marries it to his own Son, that so we might be united to him in his na­ture; This is the Antitype and modell of all relations; God one with flesh, here is Father, and Son, Husband, and Wife, all relations meet in this one. 2. It is by this that we have communion with God, we had never seen God, had not he manife­sted himselfe thus familiarly in our own flesh; communion is in things, and be­tweene [Page 88] persons sutable; There was no sutablenesse between God and us untill he appeared in our own likenesse, but now he made himselfe as it were fit for converse with the unworthiest Creatures; there is a sweet sympathy between Christ and us, by reason that he dwels in the same house of clay, as it were with us; the devill himselfe when he comes to the Indians as their God, to draw their hearts to worship him, appeares in the forme of a man, that so he might the bet­ter converse with them: The blessed God was willing to manifest infinite goodnesse to the Creature, and to con­verse with them, and that all terrifying apparitions might be shunned, he appears as a man, that so we may have intimate fellowship and communion with him; with what a holy boldnesse may soules draw nigh to God, and delight to behold him, and converse with him, now he is in such a habit of love and sutablenesse unto our own sences? Why art thou strange, poore trembling soule, and standest afar off, as if it were death to draw nigh? [Page 89] Of whom art thou afraid? What vision of amazement dost thou behold? Is God come down among men, and thou canst not look on him, lest thou dye and perish for ever? Why, cast one look more, and be not discouraged; It is true, God is come down, but not in flaming fire, not in the armour of justice, and everlasting burn­ings, but cloathed with the garments of flesh, and sweetly desires to converse with thee after thine owne forme. No­thing can be a stronger motive to allure poore soules unto termes of peace and love as this, that God is come down, not to consume them with the brightnesse of his glory, but to beseech them to see with their own eyes their eternall happinesse. Let all poore soules come and put in their hands, and they may feele Gods heart come, and behold life and immor­tality inhabiting the tabernacles of earth, and their own peace and eternall happi­nesse in their owne flesh. Who can make any excuse now that he beleeves not? Why do soules now stand off? What can be desired by lost soules more? [Page 90] Oh that I might see God, say some soules, why, he is come down in the likenesse of man; he walkes in our own shape; Oh, saith another, might I have my heart uni­ted to God; why, he is come down on purpose, and hath united our own nature to himselfe; God hath left all the world without excuse, he hath condescended below himselfe, that we might be above our selves.

In a word, by this the way of life is pa­ved, and all the bars and blocks taken out of the way, all objections stifled in the birth, and answered before they are made; In this manifestation justice and mercy sweetly kisse each other, and have their equall joy, free grace, and merit, bounty and beauty, fulnesse and nothingnesse are made one, and triumph together, the most hidden things revealed, and the worst things advanced, all things become nothing, and nothing all things; our na­ture which lay in rags enriched with the unsearchable treasures of glory; that flesh which was so weake as not able to put forth a hand to save its own life en­abled [Page 91] to save millions of soules, and bring forth the greatest designes of God; and that flesh which the Apostle cals a vile bo­dy, enobled and advanced beyond the na­ture of Angels: This, this is the great mystery hid from Ages, and Generations of men, that God lives in our flesh, and there acts all the parts of his glory. It is now no wonder that man is made one to God, and hath boldnesse through faith even to go into heaven, seeing God is come to carry them up with him; this was the first and great experiment which ever God did make of the fulnesse of his love, and glory, and we have now seene that in our flesh, which could never have been seene in it selfe.

Ʋse 1. Seeing this is so great a mystery, what use can we make enough of it? doubtlesse it cannot be accounted lesse than a spring of unconceivable comfort to all poore soules, yea, in whatever con­dition they be; give leave to extract some few grounds of strong support and joy, and we need no chymicall art, the consi­deration doth naturally drop the stron­gest [Page 92] spirits of rejoycing and incourage­ment, that can be possible.

Unto two sorts I shall especially direct this use.

1 To poor soules, that are yet in the embryo, under the first and lowest con­victions of their owne condition, who first for feare of there wrath to come, and would faine draw neer, but dare not touch the staffe of their eternall comfort; this point will yield water of life, at the first striking unto their poor soules, yea, and more then their soules are able to beare, or their doubts are able to answer, if they will but observe what the weight of this expression is.

2. To beleevers, who are yet tremb­ling at the sight of their many sins, and not yet cleered up in the spirituall notions of the Gospell.

For the first,

Let me speak to you drooping hearts, who long after life and salvation, and to see God as yours, more then life it selfe; what ailes thy heart, who hath made thee afraid? what is that shakes thy knees, [Page 93] and dryes up thy marrow, and breaks thy bones, and cuts thy joynts and nerves.

Oh, why dost thou start back in the day of thy trouble! Why, you will say God is mine enemy, I am a stranger to him, I shall never see a glimpse of the face of God, where all my happinesse lies, sin hath brought forth death and misery in my soule; God's law con­demnes me, my owne conscience accuseth me, and justice will have its due: These and such like, are the usuall apprehensi­ons of such convinced soules.

Yet notwithstanding all this, let word of the Gospell be heard, let the truth be heard speak for it selfe: God is mani­fested in the flesh. VVhen thy soule lost seven fold more then it is, the spirit of this expression is able to recover thee, and set thee upon thy legs, with a crowne of glo­ry on thy head.

1. God himselfe is come into the world to offer the tearms of love, and peace un­to thy poor soule, because it was impos­sible for thee to come to God; he is come to thee, and hath laid aside, as it [Page 94] were his owne glory, while he converses with thee. This is no ordinary design that God hath to drive, when he is so won­derfully manifest in thy own flesh; when God manifesting himselfe as formerly, in Thunder and Lightning, with an innu­merable company of Angels, all having their swords of justice and vengeance drawne; well might poor soules tremble, and run into corners, for who would ever be able to indure his comming; but loe poor soule, God is come in flesh, with an Olive branch of eternall peace in his hand, and bids you all be witnesse, he is not come to destroy, but to save: There be but two things in God, which might discourage poor soules from making ap­proaches to him, the infinite brightnesse of his glory, whereby there is such a great distance between God and his poor creatures.

2. The infinite severity and exactnesse of his justice, whereby he is clothed with vengeance; but behold, these terrifying sights are you, God hath made his ap­pearance as a man, as one of us, and [Page 95] there shall not be the least distance be­tween us; and this God is likewise in our own Nature, to satisfie himselfe, and to gratifie his own justice; for this is the naturall meaning of this phrase; that God hath taken flesh, to reconcile flesh to him­selfe.

Bring out thy sins, and weigh them to the utmost aggravation of them, and take in every circumstance, both of law and Gospell, and set but this in the other scale, that God is manifested in flesh, to take away sin; how would all thy ini­quities, seem lighter then vanity, yea, be as nothing, in comparison to that which is laid downe as a propitiation for these sins.

It is most true, that nothing can reveale God at such a distance from a soule as sin; it being that which is most contrary to his blessed Nature, who is infinitely pure and holy.

Yet, here is the mystery of godlinesse, that God himselfe, is become the satisfier of himselfe, and that in our owne Na­ture: The utmost height of sin lies in [Page 96] regard that it is a contradiction to the immortall God; therefore it is so hainous, that the death of Angels and men could never expiate it, or reconcile sinners to God; but if God will dye in our Nature, and lay downe himselfe as a ransome, how is the demerit of sin swallowed up in the incomprehensible redundancy of divine glory? and now, how doth grace superabound infinite wise laid down for satisfaction of the transitory and finite transgressions of the poor creature, the Law-giver suffering for the offences done against the Law? Doth not your hearts yet begin to leap within you, and the blood to come againe in your faces, and strength into your sinews? In the ap­prehensions of this mystery of comfort, surely that soule is shut up in the inmost dungeon of unbeliefe, where never a beam of the glory of God shines.

But yet, will you have more, at least to leave you without excuse? This mani­festation is not only a discovery in flesh, but to flesh.

And therefore, as he come in our Na­ture to satisfie, so he comes in the Gos­pell, freely and fully to offer the tearmes of love, in the richest and most alluring expressions; And if God cannot satisfie your death, what will? VVhat ever was done in our Nature, in order to redemp­tion, was none other, then God acting out his owne love, and grace, and glory. So the Apostle saith, the blood of God was offered, meaning, that the efficacy and life of all that offering, was from God in our Nature, using that as an Or­gan or instrument to act by: Let unbe­liefe come forth and make its plea, and let it dare to appear before this conside­ration; is not God enough to satisfie thy conscience? Oh, come nigh poor soules, see what an infinite ground of comfort is laid in for you, let the rich and glorious openings of the heart of the almighty o­vercome your hearts; had God spoke from Heaven by himselfe, and called poor creatures, that lye in the midst of sin, crying out who shall deliver, and had he said, I will pardon you by my [Page 98] owne prerogative; I made the Law, I will dispence with it, rather then you shall perish, what soule would not have been raised but up, even from the bottome of Hell; (and yet unbeliefe might scru­ple, and say, what shall become of infi­nite justice, shall that be dishonored to save me?) But alas, that were not as much, as for God to come in our flesh, and come as a price, and pay himselfe be­fore our eyes.

In the Rom. 9. The Apostle gives this as the great reason of all his actions, he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy; if there were nothing else but God's will in the salvation of poor soules, who hath contradicted his will? But God hath not only showne his willingnesse, but hath really undertaken the effect of it by his God-head, and ingaged his owne ho­nour, and all his glory, in the transa­cting of it. Oh then, why shouldst thou feare to cast thy selfe into the infinite O­cean of God's owne glory, notwithstan­ding all thy vilenesse, God himselfe stands to lead thee by the hand, and hath put a [Page 99] price sufficient in the hands of justice, to stop the clamors against thee; and if thou yet fearest to come to God, yet come to thy owne flesh; goe to Christ as having thy owne Nature, and knowes how to pitty thee. VVhat can be said more, to draw on thy trembling heart? if God himselfe, and God so fitted and qualified, as it were, will not, must not men dye and perish in unbeliefe, and who can pitty them? that when God's justice is satisfied, our Conscience should be unsatisfied; that when God is come downe so low to us, we should stand questioning, whether wee should come to him, what is it, but to say, all that God is, and doth, is lesse, or too little to com­fort me.

2. Ʋse reacheth to these poor be­leevers, who yet stand afarre off, and though they have hopes, yet have little Faith, and cannot so fully close in with the Gospell, nor draw nigh so boldly be­for God, thorough the fears of their owne hearts. This point opens a door of rich entrance into the presence of God [Page 100] himselfe; the blessed God hath made a Portall into Heaven, not of Iron or Brasse, but of thy owne flesh; this is that new and living way which is consecrated from Heaven, and now, with what free­nesse and boldnesse of heart, mayest thou draw neer to God. Unbeliefe is strang­led, after this consideration; since God is come in the flesh, we may believe any thing, for this is the greatest impossibi­lity that could be. VVhy is God come downe so sutable, so lowly, if he would have thy poor soule be afraid to come to him, if he had any other intention, but to give strong consolation to the most sad soules, he would have appeared in ano­ther forme, made use of another way, which should have bespoke such a design: But what is the meaning of this at first sight; God manifest in flesh, but this, as if God had said; you will not come to me, I will come to you, and that you may see how reall and tender I am of your good, I have taken up your owne flesh to make my great discoveries in; put your hand into my heart, and see how [Page 101] love beates, and look into your owne hearts, and see what you want, I have taken the same Nature, that I may more sensibly supply you, and that nothing may disquiet your hearts, or dazle your eyes, I have set out my owne glory in love, and sutablenesse to your capa­cities; this, and much more of the like expressions, are the very naturall spea­kings of this blessed mystery. Oh, consi­der once againe, what a heart of love was in this design, and what a ground of eternall comfort and support is there to thy heart in this; God is in thy owne Na­ture, to take upon him all the mise­ries of thy Nature, and to supply thy flesh with his fulnesse; this is none other then God's heart leaping out into our bo­somes; and as much as if God should have said expressely, poor soules, I cannot keep from you, I love your very Nature; I will be nothing, so you may be some­thing, my glory shall not hinder me, but I will vaile it, rather then it shall hurt you, I will take as much delight in your flesh, as in my owne Son, so I may but [Page 102] shew my selfe kind and tender to you, and so I may have communion with you, and you with me, I care not, if I become one with you, live in your very flesh. Oh, that ever there should be a heart of unbeliefe, after these sensible demonstrations of divine glory and love; wilt thou stand off now, doubt now, why, what wilt thou have God to doe? can he manifest himselfe in a more ta­king, alluring, sutable way to thy conditi­on? Is there any thing below flesh where­in the great God can humble himselfe for our good, think of another, and a bet­ter way, or else for ever beleeve? VVhat, art thou shye of God, who is so sweet to thee? many soules thinke it a great part of their humility, to see their owne unworthinesse, so as to draw back from God? Oh, it is pride to the utmost, when God hath made himselfe low, and is come so nigh to us, not to take notice of him; to draw back from such a blessed one, who drawes so nigh unto us. I beseech you, gather up your spirits, and annoint your hearts with the oyle of [Page 103] gladnesse; for God himselfe is come to live among you, and professeth he will have no other life, but among you; there he will manifest himself in all his sweetnesse and blessednesse to your soule. Lay aside all coynesse and strangenesse of spirit, seeing such a way of familia­rity and entercourse is made, between you and God. It is very sad to see believers still so shye of approaching to God, so doubtfull of their accep­tance, when God himselfe stoopes first, and is so in love with our ac­quaintance, as that he will be as wee are. Let not such a Rocke of strength be slighted. But every day entertaine sweet and pretious thoughts of this de­sign, and inure your hearts, to a way of believing in this God, so fully disco­vered.

Lastly, Let men and Angels look about them what a mount of vision is raised up for the strongest and quickest eye to take the fairest prospect of glory from, seeing God is manifest in flesh; If God begins so gloriously, how will he end? If God [Page 104] be so full of love, as to come down in flesh, oh what matter of hope is laid be­fore us of what he will be to us? What doth God meane to bring poore soules unto? If his heart and glory be let out so full at first, beleeve, and wait for the most glorious openings of all Gods glory, see­ing that he hath took the first rise of his manifestations so sutable to us; he is now manifested in flesh, and hath laid out a world of glory in that, but he shall be ma­nifest in himselfe.


1 TIM. 3.16.

God manifested in the flesh, &c.

ALl divine truths, though they are but one in substance and nature, yet they are various in their manifesta­tations, and have their parti­cular glory and lustre that sparkles from them.

Here is in this verse one and the same glory of God discovered in divers admi­nistrations, and yet every one shining forth in a distinct excellency. God was manifested in flesh, made the object of shame and misery in the world, humbled and abased in our flesh, and that God is againe justified in the Spirit, and set forth [Page 106] as an object for Angels to looke and admire, and for the world to lay hold on and beleeve, and then this God is taken up againe into glory, that is, advanced to that dignity which he seemed to leave and bid adieu unto for a while; and all this but a delineation of the various conditi­ons and considerations of one and the same person Jesus Christ, and carrying on but one designe in severall representa­tions for the good of poore sinners. This is that which the Apostle cals a great my­stery, that is, the most hidden and pro­found designe that ever God undertooke to act, wherein all the depth of his coun­sels and heart was. For here is nothing else but God appearing in manifold shapes and formes to make poore soules partakers of himselfe, and raise up our conditions to a state of happinesse and glory.

Of the first of these particulars we have largely spoken, it being the prime and great mystery in this great order of mysteries. And yet there is so much in it as may againe take up our thoughts with [Page 107] new wonderment, what can be more sweet and precious than a manifestation of God to poore Creatures; but for God to be manifested in flesh so sutable to us, herein lies the mystery; that is,

1. God manifesting himselfe in a way of humiliation, as one that would lay a­side his glory to come and live with us, and undergoe the poorest and meanest condition for us.

2. In flesh, that God should make our owne nature which had sinned against him, and was so infinitely below him, to be our great ordinance of reconciling us to himselfe, and the organ of union, and communion with his own blessed nature; for God to manifest himselfe unto flesh is not such a mystery, it may soone be con­ceived; God did manifest himselfe to Adams nature: But that God should be manifest in flesh is the great mystery of god­linesse; God himselfe taking flesh, and dwelling in it with all his fulnesse, and advancing that flesh into onenesse, and ma­king that flesh more glorious than An­gels; through that flesh opening all his [Page 108] Counsels, dying, and satisfying for the transgressions of flesh, and making the richest discoveries of love and free grace unto the sons of men, this may well be called a mystery, and a great mystery, an asto­nishing, and amazing expression: And all other mysteries are wrapt up in this, this is that which Angels do so pry into.

Let us view it a little more in the con­trivance and depth of it; God had an e­ternall design to discover his infinite love to some besides himselfe, he therefore creates a world of Creatures, some ra­tionall, and only capable of love, others irrationall, and serviceable to that one Creature which he makes the top of the whole Creation; set up one man Adam as a common person to represent the rest, gives him abundance of glorious qualificati­ons, set him over the workes of his hands, made all subject to him, as if he were the darling of love. Now one would thinke Gods love and glory had been centred here, that he had taken up his abode for ever; but behold this man was but for a day, he fell from God, and all that were [Page 109] in him, even the whole world, and all these beloved ones that were in Gods eye from eternity fell with him into the same gulph of sin and misery; Gods face is hid, not a sight of him, but in flaming fire to condemne sinners, and execute vengeance; but God had a further reach of love, and wisdome, and out of this darke cloud let some glimpses of another discovery, though so darkly that few could spell it, or make any comfortable sence or application of it to their own soule: But by degrees God hints it out more, points out with the fin­ger by types and shadows, makes some models of it in outward Ceremonies, yet all hid and darke, that in three thousand yeares men were but guessing, and hoping through promises for a manifestation of God. And this is the meaning of that in Eph. 3. that it was hid from Ages and Ge­nerations of men, that is, hid in Gods brest from them, they knew not what to make of this designe; but at last God opens himselfe fully; and what doth all this workings end in? why, in this, that God is manifested in flesh; the whole of all this [Page 110] mystery is summed up in this, that God tooke the flesh of these poore sinners which he had so loved, and joynes him­selfe to it, and cals it Christ a Saviour, and Redeemer of these poore sinners that lay condemned by the Law, and under condemnation with the whole world; and God comes to lye in the wombe of a Virgin, to be borne as we are, to live in the world in the poorest and meanest estate, as if he had not wherewithall to lay his head, he dies in that flesh, and is glorified in it; and joynes it so nigh, as that there is a communion of properties between them; that attributed to God which is proper to flesh, as to be borne, to suffer, that to flesh which is only proper to God; who can choose but wonder when he thinkes of this phrase, that a peece of flesh should be called God, and God who is immortall, incompre­hensible be made flesh, and dwell among us; flesh infinitely provoking God, and God in the same Flesh infinitely pleased and satisfied. God veiling himselfe with Flesh, which was a way to darken his [Page 111] glory, and yet unveiling at the same time the deepest and darkest of his designes in the most blessed and comfortablest way to soules; this swallows up our thoughts, and raiseth our faith to beleeve any thing, after this, when a soule can look on God as in his owne flesh, and see him at one time as Saviour, and his Father, and his Friend, and his Reconciler, as his Justifi­cation, and his Sanctification, how can his heart containe within it selfe, but leap out of it selfe as one lost in the admirati­on of it; all the actings of Salvation turne upon this hinge; when Christ was borne into the world, the Apostle saith, Joh. 1.14. We saw his glory as of the only be­gotten Son of God, full of grace and truth, no­ting out, that at first sight of him, so much glory sparkled from him as could appear from none but a God walking up & down the world, or at least his own naturall Son that came out of his bosome.

I will adde but two things by way of use to shut up this point.

Ʋse 1. Study this mystery above all things, nothing so pleasant, nothing more [Page 112] deep, come but once to know the mystery of God in our flesh, and thou wilt desire soone to be taken into fellowship with it; the Apostle desired to know no­thing but Christ, and him crucified, this is none other than the Lord Jesus; what­ever expression is given of godlinesse, it is none other than God in Christ; what de­light should soules take in the looking on their own happinesse? with what joy should we draw water out of this well of Salvation; the great reason of the shal­lownesse of our comforts, the shortnesse of our hopes, the faintnesse of our spirits, the lownesse of our graces, is from the not knowing this mystery: we looke on our selves, on our present attainements, at some scattered promises, but not fully on God in Christ; God in our own flesh, a soule would see here a fountaine opened of grace and comfort that could never run dry.

1. God hath set our own nature as a vast pipe to his Godhead, that it may flow out in all manner of fulnesse upon our hearts; our flesh stands not for a [Page 113] cypher, but it is an Organ of life and grace to us. If we saw such a fulnesse in our owne flesh laid in on purpose to in­rich us, would we be so poor, want so much? VVe eye this, and that, but know not that all the fulnesse of God lies in our own Flesh, to be emptied upon us.

2. God hath in our own flesh laid out the modell and draught of what he will doe unto all his Saints for ever, for he made Christ the great Epitome of all his designe, and thou maiest see thorough thy flesh at once, what thou art design'd unto, and how high and rich thou shalt be, what a design God hath upon thee; for look what was done to our Nature in Christ, shall at length be done to all the persons of the Saints in Heaven. If we knew this, how high would our hopes be, and how lofty our expectations, after the utmost inrichings of the great God? For to what end hath God made flesh so glorious, but to shew what he will by that make us.

3. What ever God is in himselfe, thorough our flesh, he is to us, if he be [Page 114] good, or mercifull, or gracious, or pow­erfull, &c. For this manifestation is a suiting of all that God is to us, that when we eye this mystery, we may see what e­ver God is acted out to the comfort and benefit of our owne poor soules; God himselfe making all his attributes and glory serviceable, to the good ends of his poor creature, and that in and tho­rough their owne flesh.

Oh, my Brethren, let not such a strong hold be passed by, not such a treasury be unlookt into: In this mystery, you have Heaven brought downe to Earth, yea, more then Heaven; For God himselfe is come downe to open his heart to you. Let nothing take off your eye from this, set Faith on work immediately to eye this fulnesse; one mite of Faith on God in Christ, that is in our owne Nature, brings in more grace and comfort then a thousand considerations of any thing else; yea indeed, it is the only spirituall way of conveighing all comfort to the soule; there is no saving knowledge of God, but as he is manifest in Christ, and [Page 115] doe not thinke that God is gone out of flesh, that is, that Christ hath left his hu­mane Nature behind him, and is only gone up in his spirit to Heaven, nor but this flesh of thine is received up into glory, and stand as an eternall monu­ment of love, and is the great Ordinance unto the end of the world of life and sal­vation, and God shall come againe in the same flesh, though not as abased, but glorified. Oh Brethren, what succes­sive sweetnesse, and without any inter­mission, would flow out on your hearts, if you did by Faith lay your heads at this pipe: How canst thou want grace, when thy own flesh hath it without mea­sure, and on purpose to fill thee? why art thou sad, when thy own Nature is made reconciler of thee to God? Bre­theren, you live not like men under this design, that know what such a mystery meanes, you would see enough and to spare, a redundancy of every thing you want in this Lord Jesus; and the floods of immortality and glory would soone break over your unbeliefe, and swell [Page 116] your hopes and joyes, beyond all bounds. God hath made our Nature a Myne of all sorts of rich and pretious graces, that by digging into it, we may see our estate. Whatever the person of Christ hath in himselfe, is all to convey unto us. Oh, that you were but insighted into these glories! had but acquaintance with this discovery of God, how blessed might you live! What a happinesse must it needs be, to see God in our own Na­ture, and our Natures in him, and to behold nothing else but love, acting in a fulnesse of all grace and glory, to a poor soule!

Let your whole spirits be carried out thus fully to Jesus Christ, and with both hands, even with heart and soule claspe about Jesus Christ, and you will soon find depths of love and grace, power and sweetnesse, overflowing and swallow­ing up your heart.

A soule hath space enough to expati­ate its selfe, and hath a sure Rock to rest on; other things are narrow, and circum­scribe the thoughts; all the promises of [Page 117] particular graces are gathered up in this one manifestation of God. Thinke upon love in this or that communication, either in outward or inward graces; still we are shut up, our thoughts can goe beyond all that; but God manifested in Christ, there is room enough for a soule to let out his utmost thoughts, and to inlarge his affections, and yet there is no taking in by one soule, the vastnesse of this mystery, or the compleatnesse of this ful­nesse: When a soule hath got out grace enough for this condition, and yet still that fountaine runs, and knowes no pro­portion; if we would therefore study to know how to use this mystery, we should find out comforts exceeding our doubts, and our supplies our wants. VVhen Saylers are out in the Ocean, they feare not, though storms arise, and the Ship tosse: But when they come nigh land, then they feare, Sand and Rocks then lye undiscovered. So it is with a poor soule, as long as he lancheth out by Faith into the fulnesse of Christ; it is safe in the midst of the greatest stormes, all [Page 118] the feares of unbeliefe are, when we come nigh the shore of our own duties and per­formances, and come to see the land of our weak workings, then wee come into shallow water, and stick fast in misprisi­ons, and are scattered by doubts and feares, because there is not water enough, not a stream deep enough to bear up the burthen of our sinking and dying soules.

That we may therefore know how to act our Faith to get strong consolation and full supplies.

1. Faith must goe directly unto God as in our flesh, that is, unto Jesus Christ, and take in nothing by the way which may divert its strength, never stop un­till it fasten on this fulnesse of God in Christ. For when the eye of Faith roles here and there, and takes in but partiall sights of Christ, as in some particular pro­mise only of this and that grace, and doth not fully set on Jesus Christ, as God in our Nature, it loseth the efficacy of that influence, which also would come, and besides, it divides the strength of its owne act, which is most strong, as it doth ad­aequately [Page 119] relye on Jesus Christ, and singly closeth in with him; for the truth, is, promises and actings, or what ever way God lets out himselfe, is but to allure and draw on the soule to an immediate close with the person of Jesus Christ.

2. Know, that though there be some things in Christ, which are most proper for some acts of Faith; as Christ dying, and crucified for a recumbents Faith unto the satisfying of his soule, in the pardon of sin; yet the strongest and pu­rest acts of Faith are these, which take in Christ as such a person, laid out in all his glory, and all his offices as sutable to the condition of the soule. And the more comprehensive acts of Faith are taken in Christ in his fulnesse, the more are the injoyments of it, and the more lively the influences; As the more Iron is set at the advantage of the strongest point of the Loadstone, and adaequately laid for an immediate close, the stronger expression is left; and the more power­full it is attracted, all such electricall bo­dies, worke (as all other) according to [Page 120] the propinquity, immediation, and adae­quatenesse of the approach of other things of a sutable Nature to them. Therefore the Apostle saith, Heb. 12. loo­king unto Jesus, the Author and finisher of our Faith, standing and beholding as with a stedfast eye, what he is, from first to last, as the Author and finisher of our Faith. So in another place, 1 Pet. 2. To whom come as to a living stone, we are built up, &c. These loose and transient glan­ces on the actions and offices of Christ, bring in but loose and ordinary commu­nications; but hearty and full out-goings to him, as God is in him, and as such a person, thus and thus qualified from Hea­ven, carries power and life with it. And these vast and serious spirits who are not content only with flashie or secondary actings on Jesus Christ, but are longing to be diving into the depths of Christs glory and excellency, carry along with them impressions of an abiding and trans­forming Nature. Oh, therefore be ambi­tious only of apprehending what is the riches of this glorious mystery, and let not [Page 121] course and common apprehensions of Christ content you.

Some think it a carnall apprehension of Jesus Christ, to know him as in flesh; it is true, to apprehend him absolutely so, as only having flesh, and going up and down in weaknesse: But to consider Christ as God manifested in flesh, and that flesh acted by God, and filled with God, is a true and spirituall apprehension of Christ, and that wherein lies one of the greatest mysteries of godlinesse; for we are not to understand this as a myste­ry only for that time: As if God came and once manifested himself in flesh to satisfie for the sins of his Elect, and so to leave it down againe, but very flesh remaines to this day, and shall remaine, and all the spirit and life which the Saints shall have unto the end of the world, is to be con­veyed through that person which hath our flesh; yea, the Spirit it selfe dwels in it, and is conveyed through it; therefore looke upon this as a standing manifesta­tion of God to your soules, and beleeve perfectly on it. See but how God hath [Page 22] fitted an object for faith in this mystery. This expression that God was manifest in Flesh is so laid out, that it doth as it were create faith in every soule that looks in it.

1. What is fitter for a poore soule who hath nothing than God himselfe, who is the utmost object of faith, the happinesse of the poore creature depending on his relying on God. But,

2. Because God himselfe is offended, and the soule cannot find ground for faith in God himselfe, you have God manife­sted in our own Flesh, that is, God takes up our nature, and joynes it to himselfe as one person, and laies out that before faith: So that here is God, and God sui­ted to the particular state and condition of the sinner; and not only barely acting towards us, but manifested in the greatest love and fulnesse to us; whatever may feed the humour of unbeliefe is destroy­ed in this: For God hath laid in that in our own nature, which doth not only suit, but swallow up the wants and miseries of poore soules.

There be but three things can hinder faith.

1. The infinite exactnesse of divine ju­stice which must be satisfied.

2. The exceeding unworthinesse of the soule.

3. And in the sight of both these, the want of a Mediatour, or some sutable person which may stand between the sinner and God, which the soule may go unto, and first close withall before it deales with the infinite glory of God himselfe.

Now in this mystery faith is fully sa­tisfied.

1. God hath seemed to passe by, and overlook the unworthinesse of his Crea­ture, himselfe disdaines not to be as they are, to weare their own flesh; and

2. That his justice may be satisfied, and their hearts quieted, he hath by the u­nion of that flesh set up a person which is nothing but fulnesse, and righteousnesse, love, and bowels to receive the first acts of our faith, and to have immediate uni­on, and communion with us, and yet still [Page 124] this is God himselfe manifested to us; and though we pitch not our saith immediate­ly on God, yet at last we come to him, and our faith lives in God before it is a­ware as it were, through the sweet in­tervention of that person which is God himselfe called but by another name.

Take faith as it lies in adherence and recumbency, or as it may be sometimes taken for an act of assurance, both have enough to lay hold on in this mystery: For the first, Take the poorest soule that groanes under the saddest wants, and bur­thens, and seemes by sin to lye at the va­stest distance from God, yet he hath ground here to beleeve, that is, to go un­to, and rely, and cast himselfe freely and fully, with the greatest confidence on Je­sus Christ: For here is none other than God himselfe offering himselfe as the righteousnesse and riches of such a poore foule, and that in such a way as he shall be judge with his own eyes; and for the faith of assurance what a ground is there for a soule to be perswaded of all the re­ality and truth of Gods intentions, seeing [Page 125] he hath so sensibly demonstrated it in ta­king our own flesh; if God cannot con­tent himselfe, who shall? And he profes­seth he is pleased, and delighted in that Union, and satisfaction by it, which he hath in our nature; This is my beloved Son, in whom my soule is well pleased, Mat. 3. ult. Doubtlesse Gods heart must needs be much in, yea, and infinitely set on the sal­vation of the souls of poor sinners, seeing he hath made such an overture to advan­tage it, as the taking up our flesh which was so far below him; and what can poore soules now beleeve otherwise, but that God cannot be content with his own ho­nour and glory alone, but he must impart it, yea, and to those which have beene the most unworthy, and most contrary to him and his glory.

So that Beleevers, you see, how heaven and earth, God and man, are combined together to do you good, and what op­portunity have you of living gloriously upon God in your owne nature; Faith desires no more but an incouragement, and a person to close with, and in both [Page 126] you have a sutablenesse from this, that God is manifest in flesh; that God is ma­nifested in such a way as flesh, is enough to move any heart to beleeve that he is as he acts; but this expression doth not only stir up hope, but fits the very person so sweetly, as if one would desire, or pro­pose a thing to ones desires, it could not be more qualified than this, that God is manifested in flesh; for here is God himselfe brought downe to our termes, and made subject to our owne propositi­ons. Oh that this exhortation might be of force but to improve this glorious de­signe to the supplying of all your wants, and the making up all your losses; and when you make use of Christ, go not to him as one who hath something, but all things; yea, let faith have its course, and hinder it not from a full and immediate laying hold on the riches and fulnesse of God himselfe, both for Justification and Sanctification; for it is God himselfe which in your flesh is made the proper object of your faith.

Use 2. That seeing God is manifest in [Page 127] flesh, that is, so blessedly in Christ for us, labour to get a manifestation of God in your own flesh, for this is the comfort to your soules; what if God be made one with a common nature in Christs person if he be not made one with my spirit? You heare often that there is a mystery in Gods being discovered in Flesh, but who among you have had the manifestation of this God in your own soules? The A­postle speaking of the sweet fruit of his suffering, saies it lay in this, that the life of Christ was manifested in his mortall flesh; doubtlesse Gods designe of mani­festing himselfe in flesh in generall, was, that by that he might manifest himselfe to flesh in particular; and these soules can have no speciall comfort in this, that God is manifest in their nature, (that is, in Christ) except they have a speciall dis­covery of this God to themselves; actions are sutable to the being of things: if God be in our nature he will act in that nature what may be most glorious to the good of soules. Look to your own hearts what manifestations of God are there; [Page 128] Dost thou say, thou beleevest that God was manifest in flesh? And yet there is not a glimpse of Gods glory in thy own heart; why, the Devils can say as much and perish; why hath God taken up our nature? What, for himselfe? No: But by that as a medium he might communi­cate himselfe to our persons; Let not soules flatter themselves with generall no­tions of the Gospell, and the mystery of it; If God be not in thy person, as truly, though not as fully, as in thy nature, thou hast no particular comfort from this de­signe; when Paul speaks of the Gospell in generall, he speaks particularly of the ma­nifestation of it to him as his comfort, It pleased God to reveale Christ in me, Gal. 1. whatever is done in our nature in com­mon is to be done spiritually (though not litterally) on our persons; and if God be revealed in Christ, and that Christ be not revealed in us, all is nothing; the end of God is by that to bring up our hearts to himselfe, and that we may know what is the riches of that glory which he intends to communicate by the first fruits of it in our own soules.


1 TIM. 3.16.

Justified in the spirit, &c.

HAving spoken of the first and great mystery of god­linesse which the Apostle reckons up in this verse, that God was manifested in flesh: Another presents it selfe before our eyes to be admired; In the things of the Gospell you go from glory to glory; you can no sooner come out of one roome of blessednesse, but you step into another as glorious; every step to heaven is a new opening of Gods glo­ry; What would a soule expect more than a manifestation of God, and in flesh so fitly for his good? Who would not sit [Page 130] down under the shadow of this happinesse and go no farther; but yet this is not all, this God is set forth in another mystery, as, Justified in the spirit; before one is able to go to the bottome of one mystery he is led into the bosome of another; so thick and fast doth the glory of God break in upon the poore soule, as he is not able to keep his eye fast on one thing, but another as glorious comes to be presented. Bre­thren, what a blessed thing is it to live in God, to be viewing the mysteries of god­linesse? Seeing God himselfe is laid out before your eye as in manifold manifesta­tions of his own glory; Saints may do nothing else but ravish their hearts with the diversity of heavenly light which breakes forth from the bosome of God.

One would thinke there needed no o­ther mystery to take up the thoughts of a Saint but this, that the blessed God is ma­nifested in flesh; Who is able to reach the fulnesse of this discovery? But yet you have another mystery as great and amazing springs out before your eyes, to astonish you, that this God was justified in spirit.

The first respects his humiliation in our flesh: The other the beginning of his exaltation; and yet these are only vari­ous expressions of Jesus Christ our Me­diatour.

There was two great things to be done for the salvation of sinners: Satisfaction, and Justification; God now, in regard of these two considerations, manifests himselfe as in two form as: First, in flesh, as abased and humbled, that in our own nature he might satisfie for our sins, and lay a ground-worke of eternall commu­nion with us; and then as a testimony of the reality of this satisfaction he was ju­stified by or in the spirit. So that you have Christ set out in these two conside­rations, as standing in our own flesh to beare the guilt, and charge, the misery, and punishment of our sins, and as discharged and justified from all these by the spirit.

There be these things to be opened.

  • 1. What it is to justifie.
  • 2. What meant by spirit.
  • 3. How God is said to be justified in spirit.

For the first, to justifie, or to be justi­fied, are words though commonly spoken, yet much mistaken; Bellarmine, and the Jesuits take it ever in a Physicall sence, for the infusing habituall principles of grace in the heart, and so make it all one with Sanctification, that so by that they might have a way of setting up their own righteousnesse equall with, if not above, the righteousnesse of Christ; and yet it is not to be denied but sometimes this word signifies to make just. But the com­mon and usuall signification is, first, to pronounce or declare one just; So (Luke 16.15.) Wisdome is justified of her chil­dren, that is, all the sons of wisdome will vindicate her from all the false aspersions cast on her by the sons of folly in the world, and pronounce her righteous, that there are the issues of life in her waies.

That thou mayest be justified by thy sayings, Rom. 3.4. that is, declared to be just. So in Mat. 12. saith Christ, out of thy words thou shalt be justified or condemned; that is, pro­nounced just according as thy words are good.

Secondly, It is taken sensu forensi, in a legall sense, for the acquitting or absol­ving a Malefactor from the guilt and punishment of the Law; Esa. 5.23. he which justifies the wicked, and condemns the righteous is an abomination to the Lord; speaking of the Rulers, and these which sit in judgement, that is, he which laies guilt on an honest man, but acquits a wicked man.

How is a man said to be justified this way?

1. When as he is falsely accused, and is declared by the Judge not to have done the fact, but to be righteous, then he is justified from that act.

2. When a man is really accused, and yet for, and in consideration of some other thing is acquitted and absolved from the guilt and punishment of that which was laid to him, then he is said to be justified also.

For the second thing; what is meant by Spirit?

This word is likewise taken divers waies in Scripture: Sometimes for the [Page 134] soule and life of a man; Into thy hands I commend my spirit, Psal. 31. Christ cried, and gave up his spirit, Mat. 27. that is, his life departed from him. But especial­ly it is taken these foure waies.

1. For the whole divine Nature, or the God-head. God is a spirit, that is, the Nature of God is spirituall, unknown to flesh.

2. It is sometimes taken for the divine Nature of Christ; so the Lord is that spirit, that is, Jesus Christ is that spirit, which is opposed to all the outward and fleshly ordinances of the Law.

3. It is taken for the Holy Ghost, or third person of the Trinity, as distinct from the Father and the Sonne. There be three that beare witnesse in Heaven; the Father, the VVord, and the Spirit. 1 John 5. It is the spirit which beares witnesse, for he is truth. I will send the Comfor­ter, even the spirit of truth, Iohn 14. And I will pray the Father for it. Iohn 3.

4. Taken for the product, or work of the Spirit; what is borne of the Spirit is Spirit, that is of the same Nature with [Page 135] the Spirit it selfe. So that now, for God to be justified in the Spirit, is not meant as if he had any righteousnesse infused in him, which he had not before, but that he was justified, that is, declared to be righteous, one who had no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth, and that he was absolved from all that charge of the guilt and punishment of sin, which was laid upon him, and one who had fi­nished his course, and done his worke compleatly, both satisfyed the law, and the justice of God; and that in or by the Spirit, that is, his God-head, or by the vertue and merit of his divine Nature, which made all he did, efficacious and satisfactory, the Spirit it selfe bearing witnesse of it, and fully discharging him from what was laid upon him.

For these words, (as one saith) to be brought in answer to an objection, which might be made on this, that Christ was God manifest in flesh, that is, humbled and abased, or else he could not have suf­fered; why hence, the world thought he was a deceiver, that he was not such [Page 136] a one as he pretended, took upon him as a malefactor, and used him so; why, but he was not so; for though he was mani­fested in that base and low way, and so united and clouded in flesh, yet he was justifyed in the spirit; they saw not that inward glory and power which was in Christ's Nature, but what ever men e­steemed of him, yet the spirit it selfe ju­stified him.

But seeing this is so great a mystery, set in the second ranck of the deep things of God, we had need look more narrowly into it, and see what the Scripture saith concerning this; how Jesus Christ may be said to be justified.

This is to be premised in generall, that it is spoken in opposition to his humilia­tion or manifestation in flesh, for in that he seemed to be condemned to walke up and downe as a sinner, one which was the shame of the world; and therefore he is said to be justified in the spirit; that is,

1. Internally, what ever he was with­out, yet within he had a spirit of glory, [Page 137] his outside was meane, but his inside bles­sed.

2. Externally, he was notwithstan­ding all the visible actings of him in the world, and the misapprehensions of wic­ked men, yet the spirit did still justify him, and cleer him, and declare him to be righteous.

Two things were laid on Christ, which he had need to be justified from.

1. The false aspersions which the world laid on him; they lookt on him as a deceiver, a friend of Publicans and Sinners; one which blasphemed, when he said he was the sonne of God, one which had a Devill, and wrought all his miracles by the Devill.

2. The state he stood in under our sins, have had the guilt and the punishment of them laid on him, whereby he stood as a visible malefactor, and under the visi­ble sentence of condemnation.

For Christ was really charg'd with the satisfaction of our sins, and was lia­ble to all that the Law could say to us for them. Now he had need to be justi­fied [Page 138] from this, by having an acquittance and absolution by the spirit of God.

Now, in both these wayes may Christ be said to be justified.

1. He was justified in the spirit, from all those wicked imputations his enemies laid on him; none were accounted of so vile, as Jesus Christ; all the reproaches that could be invented, were laid on him, they called him a Devill commonly. Now see how he was justified in the spi­rit, that is; first, how cleer he was with­in in his spirit, no guile was found in his mouth.

2. By his Godhead, what bright sparklings of God, was in the face of Je­sus Christ, to the conviction of his ene­mies? many times when they came to catch him, they were catch'd by the beau­ty of his glory, and faine to confesse he was a righteous one, and that never any spake or acted like him: in all that ever he did in the acts of his humiliation, he was justified in it, God clearing it up, that he was the true Messias and Saviour of the world; when he was borne, wise [Page 139] men came by the spirit to see him and worship him, when he was baptized, the spirit came downe visibly on him, and proclaim'd from Heaven, that he was the beloved Son of God, with him he was infi­nitely well pleased. Nay, come to the uttermost degree of his humiliation, when he hung on the Crosse between two thieves, by his spirit, he converted one of them, and made them acknowledge he was the righteous man, and they only the sinners; In a word, what ever he did or spoke, the spirit did act it in him, and justified him in it. I speak not of myselfe, but God testifyes of me, Iohn 6. He was be­gotten in the wombe by the spirit, led up and downe in the spirit, offer'd up by the eternall spirit, raised from the dead by the spirit. That place in the Romans, 1.3. cleers up this; He was declared to be the Sonne of God with power, by the spirit of ho­linesse in his Resurrection. It is a place which answers this; He was of the seed of David as concerning the flesh, but declared to be the Sonne of God in the spirit, when he did rise againe; as much as to say, he was [Page 140] God manifest in flesh, that is, in weakness, and yet he was justified by the spirit of holinesse, to be the sonne of God. Christ would often call himselfe the son of God, and for that, he was called a blasphemer, and for that, they sought to put him to death, as if they had said, we will try that, thou canst not dye if thou be the Son of God: And so when he was put to death, they were confirmed, that he was a deceiver; But now, when he rose againe of himselfe, then he was declared with power, to be the son of God, that is justifyed by the spirit of holinesse, or the holy spirit; that spirit did declare, that he was full of holinesse: But this was the least part of Christ's justification.

2. Christ stood under the charge of all the sins of the Elect, as a common person, and so was by God himselfe con­demned; he bore our sins on the Tree, in his owne body, that is, was really char­ged with the guilt, and the punishment of it, and though he was not guilty of any sinne, yet was punished as the greatest malefactor, standing as our surety. [Page 141] Christ may seem to be condemned, even by God himselfe, and he must come off cleer, or else lye under the punishment of it for ever; for once the charge was laid on Christ, the law looks to him.

Now Christ that was thus visibly con­demned, he is justified in the spirit, not only that he was appointed to satisfie; but that he had satisfied, and took away these sins; and it was reason, that if God did charge him with the debt of our sins, that after he had paid it, he should be acquitted and declared just, and the Ju­stifyer of these, for whom we undertook: Now this is the great meaning of this phrase; that whereas Christ was mani­fest as God in our flesh, and so stood un­der the guilt of our sins, he was justified in his spirit, and cleered by God, that he had fully satisfied him.

That whereas God was manifested in flesh, that is, as the Apostle saith, Rom. 8. To condeme sin in the flesh, that same God-man was also justified in the spirit, that is, freely and fully acquitted by his God-head from all these sins, and so taken [Page 142] up into glory. And Christ himselfe in a Prophesie, when he was to dye, and be judged as a condemned man, he com­forts himselfe with the thoughts of this; He is neer that justifies me, who shall con­demne? Esa. 50.8, 9. So likewise the Apo­stle speaking of Christs Resurrection, he was put to death in the flesh, but quickned in, or by, the spirit, 1 Pet. 3.18. a place fully paralell unto this, Paul saith, he was justifi­ed in the spirit; and Peter, that he was quickned in the spirit; both meane one and the same thing, viz. that new life which Christ had from the dead when he left all our sins behind him and rose a­gaine; and by spirit is meant his God-head or divine nature, whereby he was both raised from the grave, and the guilt of sin together, he was quickned and ju­stified; as a Malefactor, by an absoluti­on receives a new life after the sentence of death: and this worke of justifying Christ is especially laid on Christs resur­rection; who when he dyed was as a con­demned man, but when he rose againe appeares as a righteous man, which had [Page 143] finished his worke. For justification im­plies and supposeth a former guilt laid to ones charge of which he is acquitted. There was reason, that if Christ bore our sins, and stood as one condemned, ha­ving done away sin, should likewise be ju­stified from the guilt of what was laid on him, and be pronounced righteous: Christ was under the greatest attainder that ever man was, he stood publikely charged with the guilt of a world of sins, and if he had not been justified by the spirit, he had still laine under the blame of all, and been liable to the execution of all this in his own soule; therefore though he was manifest in flesh as one condemned in that flesh, yet the power of his Godhead raised him up from under the power of death, and declared him as a righteous person, one that was accepted for, and that had compleatly satisfied for poore sin­ners. And as at first conversion we passe from death to life, that is, from an estate of death and condemnation to an estate of life and justification; So did Christ at his Resurrection, from an estate of death [Page 144] and guilt which was laid on him to an e­state of life, and glory, and justification from sin; for had there been any sin un­satisfied for, he could not have been justi­fied.

Use 1. Is to informe us of the greatnesse of this mystery, that God should be justi­fied in spirit; That God should manifest himselfe is a wonder, and especially in flesh: But that we should be justified, that implies a guilt, some default; and doubt­lesse this is one of the wonderfullest dis­coveries of his love to soules. How can God be said to be justified? who can imagine any evill in the Almighty, who finds folly in the Angels? they are not able to justifie themselves in his sight; but the mysterie is in this, that God him­selfe which was in our flesh, (which is none other then Christ) he is also justi­fied for us. God in our flesh takes upon him the charge of our debts, and by his owne spirit justifies himselfe.

Oh, how are poor soules raised at these expressions. All the works of our [Page 145] salvation are done by God himselfe, he taking that on him, and acting over that in the person of his Sonne, which must be particularly done in them.

Two things was to be done to save us; Satisfaction, and Justification, payment of debt, and discharge of bonds. VVhy now, God comes in our Nature, and is both punished and justified, as if he had done the offence, not we: God is justi­fied, instead of us, and dyes when it was our condition; let our hearts not be com­monly affected with this mystery.

2. Ʋse. This mystery raiseth againe from the dead, the hopes and joyes of poor soules, and in the midst of all their sins, and apprehension of wrath, gives the strongest ground for Faith in their ju­stification. VVhy was God (or God in Christ) justified, he had no need of such an act in himselfe, no guile was ever found in his mouth, he was a Lambe without spot; but all this is to denote what God was for us, that he might be to us. All the acts that were to be done on us, and to us, were first done to [Page 146] God in our Nature, acted on Jesus Christ; and he was but an image of what is to be personally done to us; yea, whatever consideration he passed under, it was as in our stead, and we are to rec­kon our selves as sharers with him, yea, as really partakers with him, as if we had acted it in our own persons. When he dy­ed, he stood under an act of attainder for sin, he acted nor was capable of none, but only stood there for us, and our very sins, on the Crosse were crucified with Christ, and satisfied for by him, as if we had paid the utmost farthing with our owne hands; so when he was justified by the spirit, we were justified. He was justi­fied as a common person in the room of all the Elect, as he died as a common person for their sins.

In these two expressions, you have all the mystery of Redemption, and the re­conciliation of sinners to God.

1. God was manifest in flesh, to bear our sins, and to be abased and humbled for them, whereby he might satisfie him­selfe, and then in the token of acquit­tance, [Page 147] and absolution of us from all these sins, he is justified in spirit, and all the objections of unbeliefe, are answered in this. Saith the soule, how shall my sins be satisfied for? why God is manifest in flesh for that end, to lay downe an in­finite price to his justice; But how shall I know that my sins are taken away, and that I am justified from them? why, that God was justified in spirit, that is, the spirit which speaks nothing but truth, and who knowes all things, did pub­lickly declare that there was a compleat righteousnesse obtained for sinners, and did pronounce it to Christ, as in the name of all the Elect.

It is worthy further search into this, what Christs being justified in the spirit, amounts unto, for the comfort of poor soules, in regard of their justification, that so we may all see, what full and plenteous redemption there is in Jesus Christ, and what matter of holy triumph we have, in regard of our own justification

First, that Jesus Christ should be justi­fied, and that for us, or in our name, as [Page 148] the Atturney takes up the bond in Court for his Client; it is as good in Law, as if the party himselfe were there to re­cieve the verdict, and see the act inrolled. And observe, it was more for Christ to be justified, a harder thing then for us, for he had the sins of the whole world of the Elect upon him, and yet Christ be­leeved his justification; in that former place; Esa. 50. he is neer that justifies me. Well mayest thou beleeve the particular justification of thy person, seeing Christ was justified for thee before hand; he was that great surety, that stood bound to pay thy debts, and he was publiquely acquitted for thee. And this is cer­taine, that Christ being justified at that moment, all the Elect were virtually and really justified in him; that act of God which pass'd on him, was drawne up in the name of all you; and when you be­leeve, this Indenture is showne unto your hearts.

But secondly, in that he was justified in the spirit, our comfort is raised higher, for it was not an ordinary acquittance [Page 149] which was given Christ in our name, but what was drawne up by the spirit of truth, who can speak nothing but truth; God himselfe justified himselfe in our Nature, by his owne spirit, such an in­fallible witnesse cannot be questioned. And though by spirit be meant his God-head in generall; yet it is specially meant of that person which is the spirit. Therefore the Apostle Iohn, Iohn 1.5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. reduceth all to this, that it was the spirit that beares witnesse to this, that life is in Iesus Christ; Christ came by wa­ter and blood saith he, but Christ is the spi­rit that beares witnesse to this.

There were two things which did ju­stifie Christ, and both done by the spi­rit; his resurrection and ascension into Heaven, in that he rose againe; it was cleer that he was justified, for else he could not have risen, if he had not satis­fied, the bands of Death would have held him fast in the Grave, but that he can raise from the dead, he was declared to be the sonne of God with power, but still by the holy spirit. Rom. 1.3. And in that, he by [Page 150] the spirit was carried up unto his Fathers glory, and sat downe at the right hand of God. It cleerly did shew, he was ac­cepted, and freed by God, from that which was laid on him. Therefore Christ saith, that this shall be one of the great things which the spirit shall convince the world of, viz. Of righteousnesse, because I go to my Father. Ioh. 16. That is, that there is a compleat righteousnesse obtained, and justification, or else I had never been ad­mitted into my Fathers presence; and all this acted by the spirit.

And as a further evidence of this, as soon as ever he was ascended, he powrs down the spirit as a flood on his Apostles, and the Saints with them, and to demon­strate, that he was not only accepted in his owne person, and he personally ju­stified in him, and now grace and life must necessarily run out upon them. In all these acts Christ was justified in the the spirit for the comfort of beleevers. Acts 2. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Now how may your soules triumph and rejoyce in your justification, in the [Page 151] thoughts of this, that Christ, yea God was justified for you; and how ever you are in your selves, yet you may be justi­fied in the spirit; beleevers have nothing to doe, but to take out the personall as­surance of this to their owne soules; at that time when Christ was justified, you were vertually so, and yet but out of the particular discharge by the spirit to your hearts, and your justification is compleat. The great complaint of soules is in this, that they are not justified in God's eyes: But now, we are not only acquitted by the spirit in our own hearts, but God himselfe is justified in our Nature for us; there is none to offend but God, and none to be justified but sinners. But now, when God shall satisfie himselfe, and justifie himselfe in our persons, or in our stead; what strong consolation have we, God will not lay the payment on us, but himselfe, and he will justifie himselfe for us.

It was more for Christ to be justified, then for any one of us, for he had more laid on him, then can be laid on us, he [Page 152] standing not under the charge of one per­sons sins, or many, but of all the Elect; and when he was justified, a full dis­charge was given for all that he re­presented. This is a mystery indeed, God is offended, and God takes that on himselfe in our Nature, which lay on us, and is justified for us. When Christ was justified, there was a publick record of it; and now when we believe, we goe but to that Court, and take out the par­ticular discharge to our own soules, Christ receiv'd the first act on himselfe in our Name, and it was as authentique as if it were formally done on our per­sons; But when we believe, it is done personally to us. So that now beleevers, you have nothing else to doe but apply that righteousnesse, which issued forth from Christs justification, and lay hold on it as your owne: Goe to the Court, and see your owne names in the Inden­ture, and get out the coppy of it in your owne heart; for there is a necessity, if Christ be justified, that we should be dis­charged; therefore get holy and glorious [Page 153] triumphs in your heart, over sin and Death, in that, Christ is not only dead, but alive, and that you are justified in him; get out the speciall assurance of it, by the spirit to the hearts.

3 Ʋse. If Christ were justified in the spirit, Let it be your care to justifie Christ in your spirits. God hath dischar­ged him, so doe you.

Q. How can we justify Christ, you wil say?

S. VVhy, when you believe what he hath done for you; Christ hath done all things for you, satisfyed wrath, fulfilled the Law; God hath acquitted him, pro­nounced him just, saith he is contented, he can desire no more; why now doe you justifie Christ in this, by saying Amen in your owne Consciences to this. Hath Christ dyed? believe that your sins shall die; Is he justified? beleeve that so are you. VVhen the surety hath paid the debt, the principall as well as the creditor, ought to give an acquittance.

Oh how are we to be blamed for our unbeliefe; what aspersions doth it cast on Christ, he hath done all things well, [Page 154] but we say by unbeliefe, he hath done no­thing. Unbeliefe professeth Christ is not dead, or at least not risen; the Law is still in force, justice is not satisfied, there is no justification procured: Every doubt in a Saint, casts a scandall on Christ; God saw cause enough to justi­fie Christ, even by his own spirit, and to declare him in our names, to be a righ­teous one, and we in him; but we see not cause to believe our owne justificati­on, or the remission of our sins; what is it, but to thinke that Christ is held under the paines of death, hath not done any thing to purpose, that the wrath of God is as open to destroy us, as ever it was.

You keep Christ as it were in a prison, and under condemnation, when you be­lieve not; Oh soules, will not you justifie Christ in all these glorious things he hath done for you.

Then you justifie Christ, when you acknowledge him to be what he is made of God to you, wisdome and righteous­nesse, sanctification and redemption, I might goe torough all his Offices and [Page 155] Acts for us; as then we justifie him in re­gard of his death, when our hearts are satisfied with the offering up of himselfe, and that satisfaction he hath made. So in his resurrection, when we believe we are freed from our sins, our surety being risen for our justification; so in regard of the whole worke of salvation, we justifie Christ when we goe to him as a full and compleat Saviour, having our conscience quieted by his righteousnesse, and our hearts triumphing thorough his fulnesse: Oh it is sad to see how Christ is cru­cified againe in our hearts, thorough un­beliefe, arraigned as a malefactor; for this is certaine, if there be not enough laid in for the satisfying and inriching of soules, then Christ is not righteous, and he is under condemnation: How should we rejoyce to witnesse to Christ faithful­nesse and righteousnesse. When we goe boldly to God by Christ, then we ac­knowledge Christ to be a Mediator; when we find the sence of our justificati­on in our owne hearts, then we acquit Christ, and declare he was justified from our sins.


1 TIM. 3.16.

Seene of Angels, &c.

GReat mysteries have great admirers; according as things are in themselves so they are adored. God­linesse is the greatest my­stery that ever was, (it being made up of various workings of the glory of God;) and it hath the greatest and most glorious Creatures for to study it, even the Angels themselves. This is one of the particulars whereby the Holy Ghost sets forth the greatnesse of this my­stery, that it was seen of Angels. The two former expressions set forth this my­stery in its nature, and essence, under a twofold consideration of God, as manife­sted in flesh, and justified in spirit: But this [Page 157] sets it out in regard of the outward effect it had on the highest Creatures, it was the object of their admiration; not that this is part of the mystery it selfe, but an expression which the Apostle puts in, in the midst of all, to raise our thoughts of it, because Angels did look into it, and a­dore it; that we may therefore open this, we will consider,

  • 1. What this mystery was which An­gels saw.
  • 2. What is meant by this sight, or how they may be said to see it.
  • 3. How it doth magnifie this myste­ry.

For the first; the mystery which is here held out as the object of Angels sight, is none other than Jesus Christ acting as a Mediatour for poore sinners, concerning whom all these expressions are; Christ being a visible God in the world, God ma­nifest in flesh, a full justification for his Elect; all the working of this mystery was in the person of the Lord Jesus, and he is the sum and substance of all; the Apostle brings not any thing as a part of [Page 158] this mystery which was done meerely in God, which lay in his own heart, and were immanent acts of his nature, such as Ele­ction, Predestination, and the like; but only of the way or contrivance of this as it was acted in the person of Jesus Christ, who was God in our flesh; all these things are included, and imployed in this disco­very; it is Jesus Christ who is the my­stery that was presented to the eyes of the Angels as the most glorious object for their sight, God as in our nature dying, and satisfying, and being justified for poore sinners, this mystery was seen of Angels; that is,

2. ( [...]) seene, it is not meant of a bare sight but of a sight which astonished the understanding, and takes up the heart, else it had been a poore expression to raise the glory of this mystery, that Angels saw it; but it was so great and wonderfull, that they tooke the greatest delight to behold it, it was that which they were ravished in beholding, as at some new and strange object, as we use to say of some wonder­full apparition, it was seen by such and [Page 159] such, that is, they were happy to behold it, exceedingly taken with it; therefore the Apostle Peter, when he would express the glory of this mystery, saith, the An­gels do desire to looke into them, 1 Pet. 1.12. ( [...]) their whole spirits were taken up with this; it was to them as the blessedest sight that they could ever be­hold; so that the meaning of this, that he was seen of Angels is this, that Jesus Christ, who was to act out the peace and comfort of the Saints, was discovered to the Angels, and they lookt on him as so great a mystery that they could not look off, but stand and admire it. So when Je­sus Christ was borne, there was a heaven­ly host of Angels praising, and admiring God for this discovery, Luke 2.13, 14. leaping for joy but to bring the news of him to the world, you have no such ex­pressions of the joy of all the world be­sides, as they tooke but in the seeing and manifesting this great mystery. But,

3. Well may this be brought in to ad­vance the greatnesse of this mystery in our eyes, that it was seen of the Angels; [Page 160] Angels who are creatures of the highest order, who are of the finest make, of the noblest spirits, who behold the face of God himselfe, and are taken up with the immediate enjoyments of his fulnesse; for them to look into this mystery, as if no­thing else were worthy of knowledge be­sides; as if the face of God himself were not so sweet, nor so taking, and satisfactory, (excuse the expression) but they must see this mystery as the top of their know­ledge, and that which went beyond all their other enjoyments; and which is more, this being a designe not so princi­pally concerning them, they being in it as a far off, and in generall; but being a mystery of the salvation of sinners, yet that Angels should prefer this to all their sights, and sit down viewing this Christ before all their own proper happinesse; how doth it swell up the glory of this designe? Thus you have the meaning of the words in the generall opened. I shall draw up the scope of it more particular­ly in this Doctrine.

Doct. That Jesus Christ in the mystery [Page 161] of the Gospell is the object of Angelicall vision and admiration.

The things of the Gospell are not com­mon or shallow things, but that which the blessed Angels have their divine spi­rits taken up in the adoring of. Sight in Scripture is put to expresse the inward motions of the affections; Joh. 1.14. We saw his glory as of the only begotten Son of God, &c. that is, we were taken with him as with God himselfe. So Paul useth the same expression, Gal. 1. He was seene of me also, ( [...]) speaking of that glorious sight which he had of him, which conver­ted him, and for ever tooke his heart with love to him. So here (seen of Angels) that is, Angels beheld the glory of this mystery, and were taken up with it, as the greatest joy of their hearts.

For opening this. Seeing the Apostle puts so much upon it, as to put it in one great expression to open the great­nesse of the mystery of Godlinesse; that it was seen of Angels, I shall propound these things to handle.

  • 1. What sight the Angels have of the [Page 162] mystey of the Gospell.
  • 2. How they come to the knowledge of it.
  • 3. That this is a mystery, that Angels should come to see this Christ.
  • 4. VVhat is in this mystery, that should so affect them.

For the first. Angels being creatures of a spirituall Nature, are vast in know­ledge, they having no bodyes to cloud their apprehensions, but are purae intelli­gentiae, see things nakedly, as they lye in themselves, yet their knowledge is im­perfect, being creatures, they know not all things which God knows, though they know all that is made. Now for their sight of Christ in the mystery of the Gospell; doubtlesse they see much into it; for they are said to bring the first newes of it, to wait on Christ in this my­stery, to comfort him in his sufferings, to administer cordials to him, in these fain­ting fits of his passion; they sate in the Grave to informe the women and his Disciples, concerning his Resurrection; when he ascends up to Heaven, they come [Page 163] to the men of Iudea and Ierusalem, and aske them, Why gaze yee here? Christ is taken up into Heaven; and they spake further of his second comming; He shall come a­gaine, as you have seen him goe up. So that Angels now know much of the mystery of Jesus Christ: They which have fol­lowed Christ from step to step, from the birth to the grave, from the grave to Heaven, must needs be acquainted much with these things, and not only a bare Historicall knowledge, but a knowledge of the mystery of it. Only they see it not as a mystery in them. There is the diffe­rence of Saints sight of Christ, it is as act­ing all for them, and as a mystery within them; but not so with Angels, though yet they have some concernments in it, for they stand by this Christ, he is a head to them also. But this will be more dis­covered in the second thing.

2. How doe the Angels come to know this mystery, whether it be naturall to them, as such creatures, or whether it be conveyed to them by some other meanes. [Page 164] Some thinke that God did discover a modell of this mystery, and gave a glimps of it to all the Angels, at their first crea­tion, and shewed them who must be their head, and thorough whom he would act all his mind, even Jesus Christ, as in our Nature, which, when the reprobated Angels saw, they could not indure to come under that mystery, or submit to Jesus Christ; they liked not the sight, and so fell, and are now Devils for ever; but the Elect Angels (of whom we speak) delighted in the sight of this mystery, and submitted to the hint of this discovery, and so stood by Christ, and he was made a head to them, and they subsist still in him. But whether that be so or no, this seems to be cleer, that this mystery in Je­sus Christ, Angels had not the know­ledge of it by their naturall being, but as they had it by revelation; for this my­stery the Apostle professeth, Eph. 3 It was hid in God himselfe, kept secret in his owne breast, manifested to none out of God, before he was pleased in time to reveale it; they might see some proba­bilities [Page 165] of it, have some guesses by seeing of God's heart, that he was big with some rich design towards the creatures, but the mystery was hid in God; what it would be, and in what manner they could not tell, but by revelation, though they saw God face to face, yet they could not see this mystery in God's Nature; for it lay in his decrees and councels, which the Angels know not, and it was a design from eternity, before the Angels were acted and contrived in God, yet this must be granted, that they had a manifestati­on of Christ, as to that which concerned themselves, as he was their head, and as they stood in Heaven by him; but as the transactions of it concerned us sinners with the mysterie of it (which is properly the mysterie of the Gospell;) they knew not but by degrees, as it was acted, and are still capable of increase. When God had broken his mind, opened his councels, in that first promise made to Adam, in re­newing of the Covenant with Abraham, in the types and ceremonies of the Law, by all the Prophets; so they gathered out [Page 166] the meanes of it, and they got more by the birth of Christ, by his ministry; but there be two great waies, by which Angels come to see much of the mystery of Christ in the Gospell.

  • 1. By seeing the person of Christ.
  • 2. By the Church, and the manife­stations of Christ to them.

For the first; besides what they have seen in the action of Christ in this world, (formerly spoken of) which yet gave them abundance of insight unto this my­stery, for they first preached the Gospell with joy and gladness to the world. Luk. 2.

They were the first Ministers of the Gospell, in the affirmative, that Christ was come, they preached more of Christ, then all the Prophets did, and with grea­ter joy, they were in a multitude toge­ther, praising God, and saying, peace on earth, &c.

But besides that, the now seeing Christs person in Hea [...]n, as glorified, and he being the expresse image of the Father, that which expresseth all his heart, and opens all his cabinets, upon [Page 167] whom, all the glory of God to man is acted, the Angels cannot, but by behol­ding Christ in this consideration, know much of the Gospell from him, Christ being the Epitome, and summe of this mysterie; but yet,

2. The great knowledge, Angels get in these mysteries, is from the Church, from the discoveries of Christ to the Saints. That place of the Apostle, de­serves to be opened to this purpose. Eph. 3.1, 2. where it is said, that one intent of preaching the Gospell is, that Princi­palities and powers, (names given to An­gels) might know by the Church, the manifold wisdome of God. The Apo­stle had before magnified the preaching of Christ, as the opening of the greatest mysterie, that ever was to be revealed, and to set it forth, he saith, first, that it was kept hid from Ages and Generations of men, and [...]id in God, laid up as the great secret of Gods heart.

2. He saith, that the Angels come to get their knowledge of it from the Church; the opposition is this, that as [Page 168] it was hid from ages of men, from the be­ginning of the world, so it was also hid from the Angels; and as men have the knowledge of it by the preaching of it, so have Angels; only the Church hath first, they at second hand. The Church is the great subject on which all this is to be acted, it is that which concernes them, they are folded up in it, it is a mysterie in them, as none have been privie to the first contrivance of this mysterie, but these three which bare witnesse to it, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; so none have the manifestations of it, so glo­rious as the Saints who are the subjects of it: The manifestations and openings of the mysterie of the Gospell, are not pro­perly in Heaven, but in the Church, there­fore the meeting of the Saints are called Heavenly places, because there Christ makes his Heaven; and though the An­gels see the mystery of it, as Christ hath acted it by himselfe, and in his own per­son; yet they cannot see it as it is acted on the hearts of the Saints, which is a new mystery, therefore it is called a dis­covery, [Page 169] of the manifold wisdome of God; and the apostle saith, Col. 1.27. That the riches of the glory of this myste­ry, is Christ in us. There is a depth in this mysterie, and such manifold actings of the infinite wisdome of God, that it is impossible for men or Angels to know it all at once. It was so vast, that God himselfe was faine to open it by degrees, to act it in parts, by manifold, and di­vers actings of his wisdome: And all this to the Church. If a man will know the mystery of such an Art, he must goe to schoole where that Art is taught. The great things of Christ are taught in the Church, Christ reveales that there, which he doth no where else; if Angels will see into the depth of this mysterie, they must goe to school as it were unto the Church. When a company of poor Saints are together, Christ stands in the midst of them, comes downe by the spi­rit, makes a throne, brings to light, glo­ries that were prepared for them, before Angels had a being, kept warm, as it were in Gods heart all this while. It is [Page 170] said, in (1 Cor. 2.) None knowes the things of God, save the spirit, he only searcheth these deep things of God, none exclusively, no not Angels. Now the spirit is only promised to the Church, and hath his offices on purpose in relation to the Church, and herein lies the excee­ding glory of God, that he will discover such a mystery to his poor creature man, which he will make his highest creatures admire.

Thus you see how Angels get their knowledge by the Church. When Christ is preached, and his glory laid forth, and soules are taken into it as it were, why Angels come down, and li­sten, hold their spirituall eares unto the whisperings of the Spirit in the Gospell to us; and yet you must not understand it as if the knowledge they got by the Church were meerly a deduction of con­clusions from principles, but when they heare and see the Spirit speaking to the Churches, and opening these eternall glo­ries of God in Christ, they see intuitive­ly into it, as we see when beames of the [Page 171] Sun on a sudden breake out on the world, they are exceeding quick, and take it as by revelation; they catch up, as it were, the words that are spoken to us, and before they come to our eare they are in their hearts; for they being spi­rits know the meaning of the Spirit as soone as ever it is but revealed; neither is it to be understood as if they had no knowledge of Christ without the Church; for they knew Christ before the Church, and preached Christ unto them; but it is meant of the degrees and en­crease of their knowledge in these my­steries, the depth of them is laid out be­fore them in the Church; because the mystery of Christ concerned man, it was first revealed to him after his fall, though but very darkly, and unto none else; and so now in the discovery of it in the per­fection of it there be some things that God reveales to none, but those who are the subjects of it; As we know not the nature of Angels, nor their condition, though we know Christ, because it con­cernes us more peculiarly: neither do [Page 173] Angels know all that Christ doth, and will reveale to his Saints. There is in the things of the Gospell the things them­selves in the generall nature and use of them, and the glory, and depth, the my­stery and fulnesse of them; the first An­gels knew long since that God should come in our flesh, and procure peace, and that he was justified in the spirit, and will save soules; but the depth of this myste­ry, the riches of the Glory of it, the se­verall mysteries contained in it, they doe not know, but as it is opened to them, and that by the Church; for herein God shewes, as his prerogative, so his distin­guishing love, that some choice and bles­sed things of Christ, shall never be ma­nifested out of God's heart, but to the Saints first, and none shall know them, but by him, in converse with them. As the mystery of Christ to the Saints, is a peculiar design, so they shall have the pe­culiar discoveries of it, and others by them. And the manner whereby they know things, by the spirituall species, wherein they are manifested, and by the [Page 172] seeing of that glory which shines on them in their manifestation.

3. This may well be put in as a myste­ry among the rest, that God thus disco­vered, is seen of Angels; for it was a new design, that was carried on in the most unvisiblest way that could be; It be­ing a mysterie so remote from their par­ticular natures, they having no need of such a discoverie, and that God should act a thing unknown unto these high creatures, not discover unto them but at second hand as it were, that the greatest design of God, should be hid from these creatures, which lay in his owne bosome as it were, for so long a time; this is the mysterie which the expression seemes to imply. (Seene of Angels) And then when God had acted it, and laid out his glory in it, he presents it as a sight of glory to the Angels, that they might see and ad­mire at what God had been doing all this while; this comes nighest the meaning, God hid it from them, untill he had set up Jesus Christ in state and glory, and then shewes him in a mysterie to his An­gels, [Page 174] that they might fall downe before him, and see the unspeakable wisdome of God.

To this alludes that phrase, Heb. 1.6. When he brings in the first borne into the world, he saith, let all the Angels wor­ship him; God shews the Angels this first begotten of his love and wisdome, and they worship him.

As Nebuchadnezzar, to shew his state and glory, set up an image, that all his Subjects must bow downe before: So did the great God make an image of him­selfe in Jesus Christ, by whom he acted the greatest designes of his heart, and set it before the Angels to adore; but,

4. Let us see what this mysterie con­taines, that it should thus affect the An­gels; why, if it were nothing else but the manner of its acting, it were enough even to fill them with admiration, that God himselfe should come and assume flesh, and be one with it, taking the forme of a servant, emptying his glory as it were, and making himselfe of no reputation. This cannot but astonish the highest apprehen­sions, [Page 175] meanes to do, the very outside intimates that this is a depth that cannot be soun­ded. It is a mystery of unsearchable ri­ches, Eph. 3. In this dispensation there are all the riches of the great God contained; It is a way which God hath found out to bring the poore creature into the bosome of all his treasures.

It is a mystery in which all the decrees, and purposes, and thoughts of the heart of God himselfe are acted, in which the manifold wisdome of God is most ope­ned; whatever he hath been acting in all the world hath been but in reference to this, to set it forth; the choisest love in the utmost act, in the greatest variety, at the extreamest disadvantages, is manife­sted here; and as it hath been a casting, and contriving in God from eternity, so it will be acting to eternity, and there will be no end of it, new wonders of glory will be brought forth through it the lon­ger it is look'd into.

And for what concernes their particu­lar, they may well wonder at what God is about in this, when he passeth by the [Page 176] most glorious of all the creation, and acts out the brightest of his glory on poore sinners, and takes them up to an onenesse with himselfe, and advanceth them with Christ far above principalities and powers, when they see such a designe towards those so far below them, and which had never been so nigh God as themselves; when flesh shall be set down at Gods right hand, and exalted above all the Glory of the Creation, and by that to let out eternall love, to manifest infinite treasures of glory; and all this over and above, and besides what God hath to bestow on them; how can the An­gels choose but look about them at such a sight? But no more for the opening of it; we had need now to apply this, and re­flect on our selves.

Ʋse 1. Is to shame all our hearts that we are no more affected with Christ, and the mysteries of the Gospell; who can say that ever they saw this mystery with admiration? it is rather a mystery in this regard to us, that we see little of it that takes our hearts; Shall Angels see this [Page 177] mystery, and be so taken with it, and not we? It concernes not them so particular­ly, they are not wrapt up in it, yet are exceedingly longing for to know it; yea, cannot be content with a bare sight of it, but pry into it; Oh hearts that the Sons of men have, that magnifie no more this great mystery! God is come downe among us in a mystery of mercy, riches, love, glory, wisdome, come to let out a fulnesse of all this on our hearts. And this is preached in the Gospell, and yet who looks into it? how few hearts are but or­dinarily taken with it? who searcheth in­to it as to the blessedest Cabinet in the world? Christ is not as much esteemed as swine, it is sad to say it; men respect toyes, notions, any thing before it; con­sider sinner, dost thou make little of that which hath taken up the heart of the great God from eternity, on which he hath set the highest designe of his owne glory, which Angels, creatures of surpassing glory, thinke it their happi­nesse but to see, as it were, though they enjoy not? Oh how unworthy art thou [Page 178] ever to have a glimpse of it! Angels be­hold the face of God immediately, want nothing, are filled with immortall glory, yet they come down to the Church to heare the manifestations of this mystery, the openings of this Christ: They think they are not happy enough in heaven, but must know what Saints enjoy of this Christ, as if it were a glory above their attainments. There be two expressions to this purpose which the Apostle makes use of in Peter, 1 Pet. 1.12. That the Angels desire to look into the things of the Go­spell; the word for desire signifies the ut­most coveting, or longing after a thing which a man cannot be without; Christ is so sweet and blessed an object, and the Gospell so filled with the glory of God, that these blessed creatures cannot con­taine without seeing of him; their pure spirits would faine be in the bosome of them, and leave their heavenly glory but to converse with Saints about the myste­ry of God in Christ: So the other word intimateth, they desire to looke into them, ( [...]) the word signifies bow­ing [Page 179] down, to pry heedfully and narrowly into a thing. It is used for the Disciples stooping down and looking into Christs Sepulchre, Joh. 20. ( [...]) the poore disciples did not more heedfully look into Christs grave, to behold their Saviour, than Angels do to see Christ in the Gospell. So you have it typified of them, Exod. 25. the Cherubims were made looking down towards the mercy-seat, shewing how Angels should desire to peepe into Christs heart, where the seat of mercy is, as if they longed to have one glimpse on them; Oh blush you hearts which have made so light of the concern­ments of the Gospell!

Use 2. How happy are you who have had under the Gospell any manifestations of Christ, any discovery of this myste­ry to your hearts; blessed are your eyes for they see, and your eares for they heare; you have seen that which never eye saw which is naturall, and what the purest spirits see and wonder at; Angels envy not your happinesse, but they vaile to your glory, they are not your corrivals [Page 180] but admirers; you have these sights laid before you, that Angels would leave their habitations above but to see; such dainties spread before you to eat, which Angels every day long for; certainly Saints are kept very high, that these blessed spirits long to feed with them, the leavings of your enjoyments they take up. Oh hath God discovered his love to thee in Christ, given thee a sight of his face in Christ, justified and sanctified thee in him; he hath done that for thee that Angels won­der at; know thy own happinesse, pry into thy priviledges: And if thou canst not wonder enough thy selfe, take in An­gels to blesse, and praise, and admire with thee, they desire no better employment; these celestiall, Seraphicall spirits love to sing the tune of the Gospell most, they do service to the Church, administer to them, and all their waies, as it were, is to heare something of Christ among, and to know more of this mystery by them.

Use 3. Let your whole hearts be laid out in the studying of the mysteries of the Gospell, there must needs be some [Page 181] rich jewels in it of unspeakable worth, that God makes Angels to dig for, and above all things labour to see the mystery; content not thy selfe with any bare Histo­ricall knowledge, or outward apprehen­sions of it, but strive to be in the bosome of the injoyments of them, and let no sight satisfie thee, but what is raising and astonishing thy heart; this sets out the worth of Christ, that he was seen of An­gels; what, barely presented to their sight? no, they saw him with delight, with joy, they were rapt up above themselves, to see such a glorious object.

Consider it is a mystery, wherein your happinesse is included, your joyes, and comforts, and all your concernments lie in it as in so many folds. All the wisdome and love of God is laid out in reference to the making of you happie; the Angels are but in it secondarily, as Christ is their head, that benefit they get by it, which is a high advancement, but Christs heart is particularly opened to you, and all his riches made over to you; and if you will not get to see much of Christ for your [Page 182] selves, to adde to your owne joy, why get Christ opened to you, for the Angels sake, that they may know more of Christ by thee.


1 TIM. 3.16.

Preached unto the Gentiles, &c.

YOU have heard of the myste­ry of Godlinesse in the for­mer particulars, in the in­ward nature of it, as it is a­cted in the person of Christ, and seen and admired by the Angels, you shall heare it, in regard of the outward manifestation of it to the world, As it was [Page 183] preached to the Gentiles. God would have all the creatures adore this mystery; there­fore first, he presents it to the Angels, dis­covers the person of Christ to them, they indeed were the fittest creatures to dive in to it, and be taken with it; but it is not only seen by them, but it is preached unto the Gentiles, discovered to the whole world, and this is the mystery that all the New Testament is filled with, and that God would have took up all the time of the world to preach it in all Nations. Full hearts long for vent, and cannot hold, but must open themselves every where. God's heart is full of mysteries of love and sal­vation, and he cannot keep it in, but first he must shew it to the Angels, see how they would be taken with it, and must have it even preached to the Gentiles also, that they might be taken up into it; and this is also a part of the mysterie, that God should let Angels see it and preach it abroad to Gentiles.

Yet observe the difference, it was but seen of Angels, they had but a glimpse of it, it was discovered to them, to raise [Page 184] their admiration, but not as a mystery properly for them; but it was preached to the Gentiles, proclaimed to them, as if God meant to open his whole mind only to them. Preaching being a set way of disco-of very of a mans mind, the great and set way its manifestation, was not to be unto any, but the Gentiles: This did swell up the glory of it, in the former expression, that it was a sight that the Angels were taken with, worthy to be presented to them, yea, and as that which was beyond all their attainments; what wise men and great men, are taken up with the study of, and stand gazing on, we judge to be some strange and prodigious sight; they use not to say out their thoughts on com­mon things, or cast their eyes slightlie on everie thing, see what the An­gels, these glorified, and metaphysicall spirits shall look on with astonishment, and long to see, must needs be some super­caelestiall glory, a mysterie of the grea­test depth and fulnesse; But this is far­ther, that this mysterie should be prea­ched unto the Nations of the world, that [Page 185] God should make the great declaration of it to such creatures, as a mysterie for them.

This the Apostle may well call a great mysterie; the summe of it is this: That the Lord Jesus Christ, as God manifest in the flesh, and justified in the spirit, and admired by Angels, should be preached to sinfull creatures, and open himselfe unto them in the working of his love and righteous­nesse: this is one of the great mysteries of Godlinesse.

Here be two things in this one sen­tence, that make it a mysterie indeed.

1. That Christ should be preached, that Christ should take such a way for the manifesting of the mysteries of his glorie which is so un apt and weak to doe it.

2. To whom he is to be preached, not to Angels, not to pure and spirituall souls, but to the Gentiles, that is, either first sin­ners in generall, the Gentiles being the great sinners of the world; but especially to the Gentiles, in distinction from the Jewes, the Gentiles being the out-cast of the world: this is the proper meaning of [Page 186] the word here, though the other is com­prehended in it; both these have a great emphasis; the Gospell hath but few words in it, but vastne of matter, and ful­nesse of emphasis in the expression.

I shall open them both, and set out the mysterie in them.

First, That Christ should be preached ( [...]) manifest this mystery in a greater mystery, discover invisible glory, by out­ward expressions, the riches of his love & life should come out of the mouths of sinfull creatures; as it was to be manife­sted to sinners, so even by these that were sinners themselves, to have this treasure in earthen vessels, the way it selfe is a mystery. So the Apostle (1 Cor. 1.21.) af­ter that the world by wisdome knew not God, that is, by all their parts and learning, which they accounted the grea­test wisdome, yet all could not bring them to know God: It pleased God by the foolishnesse of preaching, to save them which believe. It was a foolish way, and that not only because the world accounts it so, but because in it selfe it was a weak [Page 187] and unsuitable way to save soules by, that by the breath of a mortall man, he would break hearts, and breathe in life, make soules believe, and build them up to heaven, by earth to convey heaven; for one by the outward expression of words, to set forth inward glorie, is but as if one would write in Characters for plainnesse; speak a mans mind in Hieroglyphicks. Now, that all the things of Heaven should be opened in such a dark and weak way, ads to the mysterie. God might only have shin'd out the glory and opened the na­ture of Christ, purely and silently by his spirit, and then it would bee no mysterie to conceive how things are manifested, but that he will have the spirit reveale them in outward expressions, thorough the mouths of the sinners, to whom it must be revealed; this is a mystery of it selfe: if a man speak a plaine sentence in an unknown tongue, he speaks a myste­rie, so saith the Apostle, 1 Cor. 14. he that speaks in an unknown tongue, is as a Barbarian to me, and I to him; just so it is here, for Christ a Heavenly man to be [Page 188] exprest in words and writings, and God who is not to be seen by any creature, seen in such and such words; it may well be put in the ranck of these great myste­ries; if God had made use of Angels, as he did at Christs birth, to preach these things, it had not been so much, they might have come in state, and proclaimed Salvation to the sonnes of men, have brought downe the glory of Christ unto our eyes; and if Christ himselfe had come in his glorified body, accompanied with Angels, as he shall at the last day, such a way would not have been mysteri­ous; but for Christ to be preached by poor men, to make that an instrument of the richest discoverie, and to make words to convey life, and our tongues to speak Christ into mens hearts, is a mysterie in­deed.

Againe; That Christ should be prea­ched, that is, first an open way, it is the proclamation of a thing, what is prea­ched is known of all, Christ would not have his mind hid, but preached to all the world, he would have every soule take [Page 189] notice of his love, and of his glory; he proclaimes it as on the house top; he would have the great mystery of the Gospell preached to all; let all the world know he hath a designe of salvation on them; so Christ gave in commission to his Apostles, Mat. 28. when he sent them abroad to preach; go preach the Gospel to every creature, except none; I will have them all to know that life and im­mortality is brought to light. Christ is a generall good, and therefore is preached to all; he would not have the things of heaven be whispered in the eare of some select soules, but preached as on the house top, that if all the world will they may heare with their owne eares the voice of the Lord Jesus, as from heaven, speaking mysteries.

2. It is a solemne way, as it is publique, so it is serious, that Christ is to be prea­ched; It is to be the great work of Mini­sters to lay him out; the things of the Gospel are to be preached with the grea­test solemnity that can be: Preaching is nothing else but men speaking Gods mind in their own language.

[Page 190]2. But that which doth indeed make it so great a mystery, is, that Christ is prea­ched to the Gentiles; the word ( [...]) is used promiscuously, sometimes for to expresse sinners in generall, sometimes properly; for all the world in distincti­on from the Jews, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile: these two names compre­hending the whole world, I shall open them both, whereby you may see what a great mystery it is, that Christ should be preached to the Gentiles; that is,

1. To sinners, that the great discovery of this Christ, who is so glorious, should be preached and proclaimed to Gentiles, the worst of creatures in regard of sin. So the name Gentile is put to express all kind of sinners; therefore the Apostle when he would expresse the condition of the Gentiles, he cals them sinners of the Gentiles, because the Gentiles walk'd in nothing but sin, knew not God, Gal. 1.15. So when the Apostle would aggravate the fornication of the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 5.12. he saith there was such fornication among them as was not named, ( [...]) [Page 191] among the Gentiles, that is, among the worst and most notorious sinners, such as the Gentiles were: Yet this Christ, and all the mystery in him, is to be preached unto sinners, not to Angels but Gentiles. That God should ever have a thought of goodwil to such, is above al our apprehen­sions, God being so infinitely displeased with them; but that he should make sin­ners the subjects of the utmost discovery of all this glory, terminate and center as it were his heart in them, and let them know that which Angels admire and long to know, this makes up a mystery of it selfe: for God to make a throne, and set himselfe up in the fulnesse of glory, to preach and proclaime his own riches to some pure and unspotted soules, whose hearts might presently fall down before it, this were something sutable; but that sin­ners, who are the children of wrath, should be this designe; all this mystery is to be preached to them as a mystery, to be acted only towards them.

Oh how much glory is in this! God is here preaching life, and reconciliation, re­demption, [Page 192] glorification, and laying out himselfe in waies of wisdome, righteous­nesse to the worst of sinners; nay, which is more, God in this mystery is preached as the peace, the life, the righteousnesse, the propitiation for poore sinners; what is this but the mystery of free grace acted in infinite wisdome and love to such soules. The Apostle when he doth but thinke of it he cannot hold, this is a faith­full saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am the chiefe, saith he, 1 Tim. 1.

But secondly, as to sinners in generall, so to the Gentiles; the whole world be­sides the Jews; this is the proper mean­ing of it, respecting the calling in of the Gentiles by preaching, and rejecting the Jews; This the Apostle alwaies makes a great mysterie; the Apostle tels the Co­lossians, Col. 1.27. that Gods great intent was to make known the riches of the glo­ry of the mystery among the Gentiles. It was a mystery that this should not be preached to the Angels, but to sinners; but herein is a farther mysterie, that it [Page 193] should be preached to the Gentiles, not the Jews. The Jewes were owned by God as his own people, he pick'd them out from the whole world, put the visible stampe of his glory on them, seemed not to care for the whole world, but they, let them sinke or swim they had the Oracles of God among them, the Covenant, Pro­mises, Prophesies, Gods Presence: But the poore Gentiles, out-casts, for some thousands of yeares left of God in blind­nesse and darknesse to serve Devils and their own lusts, not a smile of God on them; yet for the Jews to be cast off, have scarce a glimpse of this mysterie, but those Gentiles to be called to the riches of the mysterie, and have preached among them, the Jews had the first offer and re­fuse of the Gospell, but they soone dis­charged it; and now for God to leave his darling people, and let them have but the out-sides of the Gospell, the shadows of it in Types and Ceremonies, and the offer of the substance of it but in grosse as it were; and for God to preach this Christ among the Gentiles, those whom [Page 194] the Jews abominated as sinners, strangers from the Commonwealth of Israel, and without God in the world, that these should be brought under the dispensati­on of the rich and precious mysterie of the Gospell, may well be put in to greaten the mysterie of Godlinesse. The Apostle in Eph. 3. when he would magnifie his Of­fice in the Ministery, puts in these, that he was sent to preach to the Gentiles, as the highest favour & glory that could be; for he saith in ver. 2. that he had it by reve­lation: and he cals it a mysterie, and a mysterie of Christ, and a mysterie which in other ages was not made known unto the Sons of men; and he saith, it is now only made known by the spirit; what is that which all this is spoken of?

That the Gentiles should be fellow-heires, and of the same bodie, partakers of his promise in Christ by the Gospell, v. 6. That ever such a blind, miserable, for­lorn people, among whom the devils ruled from the beginning of the world, that they should have the promise of Christ made to them, and be fellow-heires with the [Page 195] Jews, this is a mysterie that the Apostle boasts of that he is sent to preach it, and therefore he goes on, as one that could not containe, ver. 8. To me who am lesse than the least of all Saints is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the un­searchable riches of Christ; (Among the Gentiles) there he laies the strength of the priviledge; as if he had said, that I should be sent to open the mysterie of heaven to such a stupid and blind people, to preach the riches of Christ to these poore Gen­tiles, this is a dispensation, and a grace indeed. So in another place, Forasmuch as I am the Apostle of the Gentiles I magni­fie my Office, Rom. 11.13. This must needs be a great mysterie, that the Apostle thought it so high an honour, and such a peculiar grace given him, that he should but preach unto Gentiles; And in ano­ther place, the Apostle speaking of the manner of his call to this worke, he saith, Gal. 2.8. that the spirit of God was migh­ty in him towards the Gentiles, it was a mighty and great worke, and the Apo­stle was mightily, and with exceeding [Page 196] actings of powers moved to it.

This was a new designe, never expected to be acted, that God should in the latter end of the world cause the Sun to come into that part of the Zodiack it never was, after it had run its course three thou­sand yeares, to make a noone-day in the remote and darke places of the world, and leave the habitable parts of it; that Christ should at last be preached in the fullest riches of his glory to those who had not a benigne aspect of his face in such a time. Many generations of them went down to hell in multitudes, in droves, not knowing God or Christ, ne­ver dreaming of a Saviour, and now for the Lord Jesus to come and set up his throne among them, open the most preci­ous Cabinets of his love and riches to these poore creatures, here is a mysterie indeed. It was prophesied of Jesus Christ, and put down as one of the blessedest ends of his comming, wherein he should be most glorious, He shall be a light to the Gentiles, Esa. 42.6. Herein lay the glory of Jesus [Page 197] Christ in the Gospell, that he should be set up as a Sun to enlighten the darkest part of the world. Nay, yet further, none ever thought that Christ should have been preached to them; for when he first called his Disciples, sent them abroad to preach, and gave them a Commission to go into every City and preach peace, Mat. 10.5. He makes a particular excep­tion, and gives a speciall charge, Go not into the way of the Gentiles; as if he had said, Go any where but among them, there is no peace to be spoken to them, as they have been miserable, so they shall be. And yet at last for the richest discoveries of peace and love to be made to them, Christ preached only to them, this is the mysterie, those which were no people to be made a people; for God to be found of those which sought him not, is a won­der.

This is that paradox by which the A­postle aggravates the Jewes condition; Rom. 9.30, 31. What shall we say then, that the Gentiles which followed not after righte­ousnesse have attained unto righteousnesse, [Page 198] yea, even the best righteousnes, that which is of faith: But Israel which followed after the Law of righteousness hath not obtained it. The Gentiles they never sought after righte­ousnesse, they never minded such a thing, yet obtained it; Christ came to be a righ­teousnesse to them, and left the Jewes, who sought to be righteous by their owne workes and endeavours without righte­ousnesse. The newnesse and strangenesse of this, that Christ should be preached to the Gentiles equall with the Jewes, and be brought into the same priviledges, and of the same body, was that which stum­bled the Jewes, even against Christ him­selfe; they thought it could not be possi­ble that such a generation should ever be looked on by God, or ever taken it to Covenant with him. The Apostle when he doth but thinke of the greatnesse of this mysterie, that Christ should be prea­ched to the Gentiles, and the Jewes cast off, cries out, Oh the depth of the riches both of the Wisdome and Counsell of God, how unsearchable are his judgements, &c. Rom. 11.33. As if he had said, here is a contri­vance [Page 199] of wisdome, and a depth of mercy and love indeed, that God hath shak'd off his old friends, and taken in stran­gers, to be teachers of all his riches.

Thus you have the summe of what this sentence holds forth, and the opening of a great mysterie; the Gospell, which opens the mysterie of God, is in it selfe a mysterie, in regard of the manner and object of its manifestation. The former two expressions hold forth what the my­stery is, with the glory of it; this is the way of the manifestation of it with the persons, to whom, it is by preaching, and unto the Gentiles; and this likewise goes to make up the greatnesse of the mysterie it selfe. But I shall rather make use of it, then open it further.

1 Ʋse. If this be so, it may informe us, first, how open the heart of God is to­wards us; he cannot containe his love and grace within himselfe, it is so vast and ardent, he cannot keep his own coun­sels that are for our good, but must ma­nifest it to us, and that in the openest way, preached and proclaimed, all the [Page 200] mysteries of the Gospell, though there be so much of the glory of God in them, yet they are not hid, Christ is laid out to open view. God keeps nothing hid, he will have it preached, let every poor soule know this, that though all the things in the Gospell be secrets in themselves, yet he will have them opened, he is not shie of speaking any thing, which may be for your good; Heaven is opened, God's heart is proclaimed to sinners. Thus light and immortality, is brought to light by the Gospell, God hath set all his glory out in the light, that men may see how they like them, what they are worth, none shall be cosen'd with Christ, they are brought to light, Heaven is brought home to your owne doors, you need not goe out to seek righteousnesse, it is brought to you, peace Preached to every house. Christ will have nothing of his love kept backe, he will have all known what he is, and what he hath done; goe preach the Gospell to every Nation, except none, and preach not only this and that, but preach the Gospell; what ever may [Page 201] bring joy and gladnesse to poor soules; go to them. Christ preached to the Gentiles, what is it but this, that he would have all his glorie laid out before them? Oh Bre­thren, how cheap are the mysteries of the Gospell! you may have them for taking, you may know them, if you will lend an eare to them; the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth; Christ is proclaim'd in the streets. Oh what love is in this, that God should manifest Christ and his dee­pest mysteries to us, by such a familiar and sweet way! to tell his mind to us, by such a course medium! open his heart to us! by our own mouths, it doth manifestly demonstrate to us, how willing he is, that we should know all his heart. Let me therefore exhort you, to come and buy milke without money, Christ is laid open for every mans good, he is for every mans pennie; Christ deales not under­hand with you, you shall see what you buy, he is not shie nor close in his spirit, but is preached to you. What doth the Gospell say? but here is Christ, as wis­dome, righteousnesse, &c. Take him, and [Page 202] doe what you will with him: Preaching is but a declaring this, that life and light is in Christ for you, that eternal love waits for you; that what ever may do you good is provided for you. Oh will soules now refuse Christ, when he is brought to their very eares, they may heare him speak of his riches, and glorie, and love to them: Oh neglect not so great salvation.

2. It informes us, what is the worke of Ministers, to preach Christ, to open the mysterie of the Gospell, to sinners; what ever men preach besides Christ, is but by the bie, the great duty is to lay out Christ. Ministers must draw out Christs blood freely; let the Gospell be preached as it is discovered, without any limitati­on of mercie and love, without any excep­tion of soules from Christ.

3. It informes us, to whom Christ must be preached, unto sinners, not on­ly Saints, but sinners; unto Gentiles, who were the worst of sinners. Christ must be laid out before the eies of sinners, offe­red to sinners, as sinners, in their lowest condition, notwithstanding all their vile­nesse.

But it may be some may stumble at this, therefore I would cleer it up, that sinnes are the proper subject, to whom the Gospell must be preached, without any qualification, but beleeving and laying hold upon Jesus Christ. Christ is to be first offered unto sinners, under no other consideration but as sinners; when it is said here, that this mysterie was preached to the Gentiles, what is the meaning of it, but life and salvation was preached, that is, offered to them.

Christ must be preached according to the end and intent of his death, and of his offices; now Christ dyed for sinners, for the ungodly, he came on purpose to save sinners, therefore he must be offered first to sinners, as such as he suffered for. He dyed not for such and such sinners so humbled, so qualified, but for sinners absolutely to take away their sin. When we preach Christ, what doe we declare but Christ as dead, and risen againe, for life to sinners.

And the truth is, men are capable of the Gospell, under no other notion but as sin­ners; for it offers righteousness and free ju­stification, [Page 204] reconciliation and redemption, which respects purely sinners; none need Christ but only such, a righteous Christ is for a sinfull creature.

When Jesus Christ comes to any soul, he finds him ungodly, and yet justifies him; though still this is to be taken in, though Christ be to be preached unto sinners, yet none but such and such sin­ners doe receive him; or beleeve upon him, whose hearts he moves, and makes see the need of him; though Christ belongs to sinners, and came into the world on purpose to save them, yet these sinners which he doth save, he convinceth and humbleth, and makes beleeve; yet we must preach Christ, according to the true intent, and pro­per end of Christs mission and commi­ssion, which was to save sinners, and if men beleeve not, and are not sensible of their need, and want of Christ, we must shake off the dust of our feet.

2. Use. If this be so, then let no sinne discourage thee from beleeving, and going to Christ, Christ is given to [Page 205] thee, on no other termes, then as thou art a sinner, and he a Saviour; let thy condition be what it will, it cannot be worse then the Gentiles was: what if thou hast lived long in sin, hast been a stranger from God, yea, worship [...] the very Devils as they did? Christ and all the mysterie of the Gospell is to be preached to thee, and if preached, thou mayest beleeve. Let all the world know, that grace is not circumscribed, that Christ is not daintie of his love. We are commanded to proclaime peace, even to those which are afar off, even cursed Gentiles. Oh except not your selves out of the termes of the Gospell, when the worst of sinners may come and be welcome to the richest things of Jesus Christ, yea, to drinke of Christ's owne heart blood. What a sad thing is this, that thou shouldst be more shie of Christ, then he of thee; what is Christ but a Saviour? for whom hath he done all for, but for sinners, such as thou art? suppose but any righ­teousnesse in thy selfe, or any thing [Page 206] but sinne, and thou layest a ground worke of destroying the end of Christ's comming: If thou hast no sinne, God hath done nothing for thee; if sinne hin­der thee from Christ, it is, because thou knowest not what Christ is made for thee. We can doe no more then preach Christ to the Gentiles, offer him as a full and compleat Saviour for sinners, and if you being sinners, keep you from Christ, it must be, because you thinke not Christ to be a Saviour. We have commission, not to over-heat Christ's blood, but give it to soules, as they can take it; and I here professe this day, that if thou be a Gentile, the veriest wretch that ever the world bore, Christ is prea­ched unto thee, and thou art one, who mayest have all the mysterie of the Gos­pell discovered to thee. Stand not min­cing of the Gospell, make not criticall exceptions against Jesus Christ; it is sufficient thou art a sinner, thou needest adde no more sins; and if thou be a sin­ner, Christ is offered unto thee. I, this mystery is a design of free grace, and [Page 207] knows no other objects to act upon but such as thou art. Oh lye at Christs feet; lay thy eare at the mouth of the Gospell, it speakes nothing but mysteries of love and life to thee.

Lastly, If it be so, here is a new object for your admiration; that God should con­trive such a mysterie, and manifest it unto us, that we, we wretched ones should be the subjects of such transactions, what reason have we to blesse and admire the love of God to us? Free grace hath no bounds: It hath not only wrought in Gods heart, but it breakes out to all the world, stands up and cries, grace, grace to all the world; how ought we to prize the prea­ching of the Gospell, which is a revelati­on of the mystery of Christ to us? God could have revealed all this immediately to his Elect, and have made no more ado; but he will have it preached, this shall be the ordinary and common way of the manifestation of the great mysteries of the Gospell, and those which cast off preaching renounce the way of God, whereby he will open his hidden trea­sures.

Oh brethren! thinke what cause you have to admire that Christ is preached to you, his love manifested in such a way; you have Christ taught in your streets, the sweet sound of the Gospell in your eares; what should take up your hearts but this? What better newes unto sinners than to heare of a Saviour? The Gospell speakes nothing but glad tidings to poore soules; it gives out the spirits of life and immortality to refresh the soule. You that were Gentiles, Christ is preached to you, beleeve, and close in the Gospell, lest it happen to you as to the Jews, that Christ be preached no more to you; when Christ declares such great things he lookes for attendance, and woe to those soules that obey not such a Gospell.


1 TIM. 3.16.

Beleeved on in the World, &c.

THe mystery of Godlinesse is comprehended in two things: Gods actings towards us, and our actings towards God; of the first you have heard in the former expressions, how richly and sutably God hath discovered himselfe to the salvation of his poore creature, man; God himselfe personates us in our condi­tion, and so transacts our happinesse, and that we might have the comfort of it, proclaimes it by preaching,, even unto the Gentiles, the most forlorne and con­temptiblest soules, and this is the right line in which the greatnesse of this my­stery [Page 210] is conveyed; for that it was seen of Angels, is but collaterall to it, to make up the glory of it ab extra, from the ad­miration of such divine creatures, when they did but look on it; but yet this my­stery goes on still in its greatnesse, even in regard of our actings towards it; and this is put in among the rest, to fill it up, that it was beleeved on in the world; the recei­ving of Jesus Christ, and beleeving on him, as the Author of life and salvation, and the righteousnesse, and redemption of poor sinners, is one part of the great my­stery of godlinesse, and that which is as much to be admired as any of the rest.

Let us first looke on it, in relation to the other parts of this mysterie, then con­sider it in it selfe.

First, consider it as with the rest, and it is one of the greatest parts of the myste­ry; for the acting and contriving of this in God's owne heart, he had no opposi­tion, all was done in light and glory; but when it was acted on us, there was the opposition, light and darkenesse striving together; yet one would think this should [Page 211] be no mystery at all, for us to beleeve this which was so much for our own eternall good. Who will wonder at a starved beg­ger, to take bread that is offered him? or for a poor prisoner condemned, to take a pardon? all the wonder is, that the man should be so bountifull, as to part with the bread out of his own belly, to give the beggar, and that the K. should be so gracious, as to grant the pardon to such a wretch; yet the Holy Ghost sets this downe as an equall mystery with the rest, that Christ should be beleeved on in the world, which is no more, but that sinners should receive and entertaine that glory, which is let downe from Heaven, to blesse them withall, to lay hold on that Rock, without which, they are drowned for ever; to accept of that grace, which only can bring salvation to them, to give up themselves to be saved by the infinite riches of love and glory; yet this is a mysterie, that ever this Christ should be thus beleeved on. That God should be manifest in flesh, to save such sinners as we are, why his own infinite love [Page 212] prompted him to it, he had a design of glory out of it, he knew what he did, it was an essay of acting out his wisdome and love, and that he was seen of Angels; such sagacious and spirituall creatures, is not so much wonder, for who was fit to behold such an object, but such blessed spirits, and that it should be preached to the Gentiles, may yet be conceived: For, God to proclaime it to us, and open his heart, was exceeding glorious, yet still this was God letting out his owne love to us; but that sinners, who lie in darke­nesse, know nothing of God, should be­leeve this; this is yet a farther mysterie, and as great as any of the others.

But to open it more fully, that we may see wherein this mysterie lies in this ex­pression, I shall lay downe these par­ticulars;

It will be a mystery if you consider,

  • 1. The condition which the world is in.
  • 2. The nature of beleeving.
  • 3. The difficulties, and disadvantages, to the worke of beleeving.
  • [Page 213]4. The requisites to such an act.

For the first. That Christ should be beleeved on in the world; by the world is meant the Gentiles, unto whom Christ was to be preached. Now, the whole world lay in wickednesse, averse from God, scorning the name of Christ; the condition of the world was a condition of utter darkenesse, they were given up to blindnesse, and hardnesse of heart, they walked in the vally of the shadow of death, under the power of the Devill, ru­ling in their hearts, as children of disobe­dience, dead in trespasses and sins, 2 Eph. 1, 2, 3. What a wonder is it, for blind men to see, though it be the best thing which may doe them good; for dead men to be sensible of a miserable condi­tion, or of any thing that lies upon them; such were all the world, running with full careere to sin, and Hell, and will not be stopt, delighting in sin as their meat and drinke, serving their lust and the Devill as their God; men not only not sensible of their owne estate, but having the name of that which may reforme them: Now, [Page 214] for such to receive and entertaine a Christ, submit to the glory of the Gos­pell, must needs be a mysterie: how such blind soules can see the light of the glory of God, such dead hearts entertaine joyfully a living Christ, and be brought from death to life, from the power of Satan to God, be transformed into light and life, be taken up into glory, may well be put on the account of the mysterie; of the Gospell, and adde to its great­nesse.

But 2. What is meant by beleeving? in generall here Faith is put for all graces, and all the glorious workings of God in our hearts, beleeving being the first and the choicest grace, every grace in our hearts makes up a mysterie; and belee­ving here comprehends all the workings of our hearts, in relation to the designe of God in the Gospell, as the manifesta­tion of God in flesh, and his justification in spirit, is put for all the worke of re­demption and justification, the founda­tion of it being surely laid in that, so all the workings of it in our hearts, is sum­med [Page 215] up in beleeving: How our hearts should take in all this love, and be turned into it, and live in it; this is a mysterie indeed; but especially, beleeving is to be taken properly for the Faith it selfe, which is nothing else, but a closing with, a receiving of, and laying hold on Jesus Christ; now if you look into the nature of this Faith, you will find it a mysterie, that Christ should be beleeved on in the world.

  • 1. A renunciation of selfe.
  • 2. A reall and full closing with Jesus Christ.
  • 3. It is a receiving Christ on his own tearmes.

For the first; That a man should re­nounce himselfe, and be nothing, it is the hardest strait that Nature is put to, selfe being the principle and end of all mens actions by Nature, and that which lies diametrically opposite to the mystery of godlinesse, for a poor creature, whose Nature and actings, can comply with no­thing but selfe, to abjure it, and cast away all, yea abhorre and loth selfe, as its mi­sery; [Page 216] what shall we thinke of this? can it amount to lesse then a mystery, to see Nature not only to be weakned, but turn'd against it selfe, and acting contra­ry to its owne principles? As to see light thinks descend, and heavy ascend, and that against its nature. Selfe is the pre­dominant principle of the world, it rules like the sole Monarch, and there is no absolute Monarch but selfe; it rules in the most noble naturall breasts, and is that which is founded in the nature of things. But now, when a man beleeves he goes directly against naturall selfe, he saith he is nothing, nor can doe nothing; and not only is beleeving a denyall of the worst selfe, sin and lust, (which yet is as a mans right eye, yea, as the Caule of a mans heart) but he denies honest selfe, and re­ligious selfe, selfe drest and adorn'd, selfe righteousnesse and actings, selfe adorned with the most glorious endowments, and richest performances, selfe naturall and acquired, yea, and a soul contrary to all its motions, both rationall and seemingly godlie beleeves on Jesus Christ. Take a [Page 217] raised and high spirit, one who hath built his nest in the Starres, in regard of specu­lation, and one whom the world can say nothing in regard of converse unto; for him to come and submit to a Christ, to throw downe all that ever he hath study­ed, as dung and drosse, to descend and come into the lower parts of the earth, and looke on himselfe as the poorest des­picablest, and undonnest creature in the world; one that knowes not the way to happinesse, (which he must doe, if he be­leeve) why this is the mysterie. Selfe is sometime so painted, acted in so much state, and so spirituallised, (as it were) set out with such ornaments, both of na­ture, art, and morally spirituall gifts, that it would make any spirit in love with it; yet when a soule comes to beleeve on Christ, he must renounce all these as dung and drosse, the worst of things, in regard of saving his soule, or in compari­son of Jesus Christ. This is death to a man; Nature would as lieve be dam­ned, as entertaine such a proposition, and cast it selfe out of such a priviledge, that it [Page 218] looks on as its birth-right; yet there was no soule that ever beleeved on Jesus Christ, but did willingly doe this. Paul, when he begins to reckon up his priviled­ges, both of his birth and education, and the strictnesse of his life, one would have thought he needed no more, Phil. 3. (and he thought so to) selfe was so richly ac­complished, not only against the Law, but the Gospell; he was borne in the Church, had the priviledges of a Saint, was blamelesse in the Law; yet when he came to beleeve, he was glad to cast away all this, as the off-scouring of the world; he was alive once, and thought himselfe a glorious one; but he dyed to all these, they were all as dead things to him. For a man, not only to deny his lusts, that are his Nature, (and so deare, as many venture the wrath of God for) but his performances, which he hath been in for a long time, and throw down the glorious structure of duty, he hath been building for 20, 30, 40 yeers toge­ther, with all the curious paintings of formality: You had better tell men of [Page 219] parting with God, Christ, Heaven, yea, of all the good of soule and body, rather then of such a thing.

This selfe is the bottome and originall, of all sinne, it is that which is the very constitution of our Natures: Selfe hath been borne and bred with us; it lives in our bosomes, hath been the old compa­nion in all our actions, and to be cast off at last, and hated, is very hard; it is easier to change the course of the Sun, and turne Heaven into Earth, to place the Elements above, and the Starres beneath, to make the stream naturally run back from the same Fountaine it came, yea, to worke the greatest miracle in Nature, then to make a man to deny himselfe, especially selfe so ingratiated and clo­thed with gifts and honestie, and righ­teousnesse of the Law. Yet when a man beleeves, this is the first thing done upon him, selfe is turn'd against selfe; Na­ture runs counter to its owne inclinati­ons: that darling and first borne of the soules delights and love is made the abo­mination of the heart, and the soule [Page 220] most set against it. Now let this be weighed, which yet is but the first, and rather implicite, and supposed act of Faith, then the Nature of it, and you cannot but conclude, that this is a great mysterie, that Christ should be beleeved on in the world.

But 2. Which is yet farther; for a soule to close in with Jesus Christ, and fully to relye on him as his owne, and ex­pect all righteousnesse and grace in him alone, and nothing from selfe, first or last, (which is properly beleeving) this sets it out yet farther:

For 1. It is a great venture for a soule to forsake selfe, its dearest consort, and leave all its strong ingagements to the flesh; for that which yet he hath no par­ticular assurance of, but a bare tender and offer. No man in reason will part with any thing in possession, but upon a cer­tainty of a better; whereas the soule is still in doubt of what it may injoy, though Christ be offered to all, yet some goe without him; and this may be the condition of the soule.

'Yea, 2. To close in with Christ, a­gainst whom it hath naturally the grea­test antipathy, and whom it never saw; to cast all the weight of its joy and com­fort on Christ, whom the heart hath of­fended, and against whom it hath recei­ved such prejudices, that his heart cannot indure him of any; this is exceeding strange unto our apprehensions. As A­bram left all his owne Kindred, and Fa­thers house, and not knowing where he went, binding up this reason, and deny­ing a present good, only on the security of a generall and indeterminate promise, was a miracle to all the world; for this is the Nature of Faith, on a bare word and promise to close in with Christ, and ven­ture its eternall comfort. Faith comes by hearing, and that of the word preached that is, of the word of promise. Now, for a soule ingaged thus to sin, and lust, and selfe, to leave all on a promise of a Christ, which yet, the soule is a stranger unto, and is darke in the knowledge of; this must needs be a mystery; and that

3. If you consider that it is not only a [Page 222] bare taking of Christ as at a shift, to make some present advantage of him, to rid a man out of fears, or preserve him from wrath, which selfe may be wil­ling unto, out of its owne principles; but it is a receiving Christ on his owne terms, a submitting unto the tenure of all his commandements, it is taking Christ na­kedly, with all his holinesse, as well as his love, yea with all his inconvenien­ces unto flesh and blood, even to take up a Crosse with him, lye downe in the grave with him; it is a giving up the soule unto Christ, to be what he will, and do what he will; that a soule beleeves not only for peace and joy, but for power and life, and is led captive for ever, unto the will of Christ; therefore it is called the obe­dience of Faith by the Apostle; this must needs be a mystery, especially if you con­sider in the third place, the difficulties and disadvantages the poor sinner meets withall in the way, besides that naturall darkenesse and stupidity which lies on our hearts, that we cannot judge of our own peace, and that aversnesse from Faith [Page 223] in us, above any thing else. There be these difficulties rise up, for a soule to leap over.

1. The greatnesse of sin, which when it is once discovered to an inlightned soul, is so great and vile, that it cannot ima­gine how it can be pardon'd, the Law pressing so hard for satisfaction, and the soule can give none; when it thinks of God, he is so offended it thinks, that he will never have mercy. The sinner is now put to it, in the full prospect of such a heart, of such abominations, to goe to Christ for salvation, to beleeve all these sins, though so amazing the soule, and of such a damning Nature, to be all done away, and see more righteousnesse in Christ, then sin in it, this is a hard work.

But 2. That a soule should beleeve at such a time, when yet among all the rest of its sins, it hath such a root of unbe­liefe within it, springing from the power of selfe-love, which keeps the soule un­der, raiseth mists before the eyes of the souls selfe and it, striving to evade all the arguments of the Gospell, to elude and [Page 224] baffle the soule, in all its apprehensions of Christ. Unbeliefe saith, there is no such thing as Christ, it is but a mockery, a delusion, or else raiseth up a dust before the promise, that the soule may not see it for him; it tels the soule, it is to no end to thinke of pardon, thou art gone too farre to recover, it is too late, or else lessens the riches of mercy, but multiplyes the misery of sin: Thus unbeliefe, like a strong man uncontrouled, reignes in the heart: But which is more,

3. Sense and reason stand unsatisfi­ed, the soule can neither see cause why to beleeve, nor find any ground in it selfe, that if it believe, it must goe beyond ex­perience, goe contrary to its own senses it feels nothing but the workings of deaths thorough sin, sees nothing but hell before its eyes, and a necessity of satisfying ju­stice; it hath nothing visibly held out to it, but a generall promise of a Christ, which unbeliefe evades; it cannot see reason, why God who hath been so highly displeased, can ever passe by such affronts, and take the soule into favour. [Page 225] Now, for a man to beleeve against his owne sense and reason; as Abram belee­ved against hope, and above hope, La mystery indeed: To venture a mans eter­nall happinesse against his reason and sense, on such generall termes as at first is presented to the soule, is the great won­der of the world; especially if we yet look further and consider,

4. What prejudices, and misprisions such a sinner hath of Christ. The Devill presents him under cruell shapes to such a soule, and unbeliefe is not backward to make hideous discoveries, as that he is not so rich, nor so mercifull; one which hath, but will not spare me, which hath a stock, but no heart; either they thinke he cannot, or will not give what the soule needs. Christ lyes remote from the eye of the soule, he is in Heaven, and they see not his heart, they must take things on trust, receive him in the promises, and that seems to be an uncertaine way of as­surance. That grosse ignorance of the Nature of the Gospell, of the person of Christ, is of it selfe invincible, and oh [Page 226] what conceits are raised up in the heart, against Jesus Christ. The soule will run to this, and that, rather then Christ; it will look to selfe, if it can find any thing there, which may give it but little a ease, (though it doe deceive it) rather then goe to Christ; it will court duties, and perfor­mances, Saints and ordinances; if any of them will afford but a sparke of comfort to it, that it may stay from Christ; for selfe and sin cannot indure to heare a good word of Christ, the Antipathy is in nothing stranger.

Lastly, view the requisites to beleeving; what is required to make one believe, for it is above the power of Nature. Why?

1. There must a light from Heaven shine into our hearts. All the light of Nature and reason can never shew what Christ is, nor make a man capable of knowing any thing of this mystery; The naturall man knowes not the things of God, and it is impossible for him to discerne them. 1 Cor. 2. Therefore Paul, when he speaks of his conversion, he describes it by a light that shin'd from Heaven, above the [Page 227] light of the Sun; He saith, that Christ was revealed in him, Acts 9. Gal. 1. Thus to make any soule beleeve, he must have [...] spirituall eye made on purpose, and that eye inlightned immediately from God; therefore you shall find beleeving and seeing all one in Scripture, because Faith is a spirituall sight of the Lord Jesus. But

2. All this will not doe, but there must be an almighty power put forth, even as in creation, to make a soule be­leeve, so the Ap. saith, Eph. 1. that the same power is put forth to make soules beleeve, that was, to raise up Christ from the dead; the soule lyes in such darknesse, and hath such an enmity to Christ, that nothing can reconcile it, or make a soule have good thoughts of Christ, but to create a new heart in him, there is no dealing with the old heart, or working on it, it will come to no termes of agreement at all; for we are not only enemies, but en­mity it selfe, there is not only in us an incapacity, but an opposition. Col. 1.21. So the Apostle expresseth it, by the ca­sting downe strong holds, imaginations, [Page 228] and every thing which exalteth it selfe against Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. 10.4. There are such forts, which unbeliefe hath rai­sed in the soule, such strong holds, and mighty strange, and yet strong imagina­tions against Jesus Christ, that nothing but weapons made mighty thorough God, can cast them downe. These strong holds are such as will never yield, take no quarter; therefore they must be pull'd downe with a high hand; and there are imaginations, a thousand reasonings against Christ and the Gospell, which can never be answered, but they must be cast downe. Christ must not only be fet out of Heaven in light, and showne unto a poor soul, but the power of the almigh­ty God must come with him, and cast downe all opposition against him, if all the Angels should come else to perswade the soule; nay if Christ himselfe should come in his owne person without this power, he could not perswade the soule out of its Forts. Therefore it is said, None can come to Christ, except the father draw him. John 6. That is, none can ever be­leeve [Page 229] on Christ, except God let out a mighty power, which may bring him. So Faith is called Faith of the operation of God, because it is a worke peculiarly, that goes thorough his hands, it is be­yond all other power to doe. To summe up all then, This must needs be a great mystery, that Christ should be beleeved on in the world; that darknesse should comprehend light; enmity imbrace a uni­on; that such proud hearts as we have, should be content to goe a begging to one we naturally hate; for a man to de­ny his sense, reason, selfe, righteousnesse, lusts, prejudices, and submit to an un­knowne Christ, to be made nothing of, live at the finding of another. For this is the language of Faith; I am nothing, Christ is all, I cannot live without him.

In a word, there are the greatest para­doxes in the workings of Faith, as any thing.

Nothing living, as if it had all things: unrighteousnesse making its selfe most righteous; a soule at the greatest di­stance from God, going most boldly to [Page 230] him, one which hath most offended him, most relying on him, a soule which hath nothing but sin, assured it shall have all grace, in the midst of greatest unworthi­nesse, triumphing in the compleatest righ­teousnesse: The greatest enemy made submit to the hardest termes to his Na­ture; with many such are found in the acting of Faith, that you see what a my­stery is in this expression; beleeved on in the world, and how it may be well rancked in the number of these great my­steries.

Us. 1. If this be so, then let shame cover our faces, that ever this should be reckoned up as a mystery, that we beleeve, that God should manifest himselfe to us, bring downe his owne glory to our eyes, offer life and immortality to us, and it should be a wonder for us to take it; that God should act in so much love unto us, and frame such a Fabrick of glory, to take us into it, may well be a mystery, who can expresse it? But that it should be a my­stery for us to beleeve this, and to take God on his owne word, so faithfully spo­ken, [Page 231] is our misery, though in it selfe a mystery. Must it be a wonder for hun­gry creatures, to eat the bread set before them, and for beggers to take the Almes offer'd them? yet the Holy Ghost makes this a mystery, that we beleeve on Jesus Christ. What should shame us more then this, that we have not a hand to take in our owne happinesse, cannot swallow downe a drop of the water of life, except it be poured in us? What an aggravation must it be of our sin, that we are harder to beleeve, and take in what God hath done for us, then for God to kill his owne Sonne, and part with him out of his owne bowels? We have no­thing to doe but beleeve, and yet it is a wonder we doe beleeve. Oh strange creatures; God manifested in flesh, came in a sensible and demonstrative way, of love and glory, to wooe poor sinners, and yet they will not beleeve. Are you not yet ashamed? what, shall God present his owne heart in blood to you, and yet you will not receive it. Christ is come as justification and righteousnesse, with [Page 232] peace and sweetnesse, and yet men will not beleeve; this is most unreasonable and wicked.

2. Ʋse. Have not slight thoughts of be­leeving, it is not an ordinary worke; men thinke it is nothing to beleeve: If a man doe but live under the Gospell, and have a generall profession of it, he thinks he is a beleever. Oh know Faith is the highest worke of a Christian, that which is the acting of a mystery; if thou didst but know thy owne heart, and see thy sinne, thou wouldst wonder how ever thou camest to beleeve on Jesus Christ. There is a common Faith indeed, which the world hath, but it is not worthy the name of Faith, a Faith which is meer­ly historicall and traditionall; but for the Faith here spoken of, the Faith of God's Elect, that is another manner of work; thou wilt find it a mystery for thee to beleeve on Jesus Christ. It is an easie matter for men to say they beleeve, when they see neither sin nor Christ; but hast thou ever had but an aspect into thy owne sinfull Nature, and a right know­ledge [Page 233] of thy wretched state, then tell me, whether Faith be a common or an easie thing; it is that which many soules see it harder to act then remove Mountaines. For a poor trembling soule, who stands on the brink of Hell, to leap into Christ's bosome, and such a proud heart as thou hast, to be willing to be at the disposing of Jesus Christ, and make a totall resig­nation of selfe, and all interest to Christ, yea, though thou mayest injoy them; this is Faith, and a great mysterie, therefore deceive not thy own heart.

3. Use. Let us from hence see, what is the great thing the Gospell requires of us; it is to believe, all is summed up in this; all the mysteries of the Gospell are nothing to us without beleeving. Though God be manifested in flesh, and justified in spirit, that is, made redemption and justification for us; yet if he be not beleeved on by the world, it is nothing to us. Faith brings downe the particular sweetnesse and comfort of all this unto us, and puts us in actuall possession of it; what ever God is to us before Faith, yet we have [Page 234] no benefit really by it untill we beleeve. Oh therefore, make this your work, ad­mit of no exception, against beleeving, this is the great duty of the Gospell, and the great way of God's revealing himselfe to us; it is a taking hold of all that Christ doth, and hath for us, and gives us the actuall injoyment of it. God requires no more of us, but that we beleeve the work is done really for us in Christ's person, and this is preached unto us, and nothing else remaines, but the putting to our seal by Faith, that all is true: The blood of Christ is drawn out, and his graces run out in justification, and sanctification, no­thing is behind, but the laying of our mouths to his brests, the stretching out of our hands, to receive in that life and righteousnesse which is purchased for us. Oh let not the work stick in you, your be­leeving doth as it were perfect the my­stery of the Gospell. According as God hath discovered himselfe, so should we act Faith; the mystery of God in Christ hath wrought exceeding strongly; so should our Faith. The mystery of your [Page 235] salvation is opened, the materials of it made ready, and brought downe to you to take, only your worke is to beleeve, lay hold on them by Faith. God in flesh condemned, and justified in spirit, is preached to you, that you may beleeve. The blood of Christ is shed, and fitly temper'd for to quiet your consciences; only your mouth must be opened wide to receive it. Faith is nothing else but the eying of what Christ hath done, and ta­king it home to its selfe, and living in the mystery as its owne. Oh now, God hath done all so well, will not you set to your soule that it is true? By beleeving you witnesse unto all the other myste­ries. The Apostle saith, he that beleeveth not hath made God a lyer, because he belee­veth not the record that God hath given of his Son. 1 John 5.10. Unbeliefe belies God in all he hath done for us: Let Faith have no stop nor stint in its actings; suf­fer no contrary objections to believing; as the riches and righteousnesse of God are laid out before you, and demonstrated to your very senses, so give faithfull witnesse [Page 236] to all by beleeving; the more you be­leeve, the more you get the sweetnesse of call this fulnesse, and you act in the my­stery your selfe; for not only Christ, but your Faith on him, is part of the great mystery of godlinesse.


1 TIM. 3.16.

Received up into Glory.

WEE are now come to the last step of this long as­cent, at the top of which, you have the full sight of all divine workings; God seems to begin low, takes flesh upon him, and is condemned; but then riseth higher, and is justified in the [Page 237] spirit, and admired by Angels, prea­ched in power to the Gentiles, yea, and beleeved on in the world, and now re­ceived up into Glory. This notes the highest advancement of our Nature, in the Person of Jesus Christ. The great subject of this mystery, is Jesus Christ, he is the centre in which all these lines end, the great and common representative of all the Elect; and he is set forth here, as under diverse formes and conditions he past through, and the severall wayes of his manifestation to the creature, as con­demned and justified, as admired and preached, and beleeved on in the world, and now at last, as received up into glo­ry. And it is no more then to set forth the 3 great acts which Christ did, as Me­diatour for us, in transacting our salva­tion; he was manifest in flesh, to dye for our sins, he rose againe for our justifica­tion, he ascended up into Heaven, to sit at Gods right hand for us. This is put in opposition unto his lowest extremity of humiliation for us. He that descended, also ascended farre above the Heavens. [Page 238] So that now we must view this my­stery as in another world, and follow it up to Heaven, where it is acted in glory.

The greatest part is yet behind, it seems now to be gone out of sight; as the sun, when it is gone from our Horison, begins a new day in another part of the world: So God having acted that part of the my­stery which was for this world, takes him up into Glory, there to act the rest in a new and blessed way. By glory is meant Heaven, where Gods sets forth his glory most.

For the cleerer opening of this, I shall propound these things?

1. Who or what it is, that is taken up into glory.

2. What it doth import & comprehend?

3. The mystery which is in it.

For the first; It is no other but Jesus Christ, who was God manifest in flesh, who after he had suffered, entred into his glory, having done his worke, as the A­postle saith, he entred into his rest, Heb. 4. He came out of the lap of his Fathers love, into a wide and miserable world, to [Page 239] lead a contemptible and mean life, in the form of a servant, and having finished his course, is againe taken up into that glory, and high dignity from whence he came. This was the prayer of Christ, that when he had ended his worke in the world, that God would restore him to that glory he had with him, from the be­ginning of the world, John 17. He left his place for a while, seemed to be tur­ned out of it, as one not worthy of it, un­till he should purchase it by his owne blood. He was let fall out of glory in­to a forme of misery, and lost his station for a while, and againe is restor'd to it, with an addition of highest honour.

That this is meant properly of the per­son of Christ is cleer, for the same is re­ceiv'd up to glory, who was God manifest in flesh, and justified in spirit, who died and rose againe; that none of the Saints did, neither can any other be said to be seen of Angels, nor preached to poor sin­ners, nor is any the object of Faith, but Jesus Christ; but yet this must be gran­ted, that mystically, and representatively, [Page 240] the Saints likewise are received up into glory with him, as I shall shew anon; and if you will that Jesus Christ that in the names of all the Elect was condemned, and made a sacrifice for sin, and justified in the Spirit in their stead, that Christ is also received up into glory as in their stead.

But secondly, what doth this hold forth, that Christ is received up into glo­ry? You must look on this as containing a glorious designe, and a great part in the salvation of soules.

1. It implies a compleat finishing of that worke he had to do for us here, that there was no more to be done in this world for us, that the satisfactory worke to justice was finished, and he and his sa­crifice accepted before God; Heb. 10. ha­ving by one offering perfected those which are sanctified; he entred into the holiest place, viz. heaven, and there sate down at the right hand of God, having no more to do, justice being satisfied, justifi­cation for sinners procured; this was evi­dent when he rose againe: For if he had [Page 241] not paid the debt, he had never come out of prison; but much more evident seeing he is received up into heaven, taken into the Fathers bosome: many break prison, and walke up and down securely, as if all were paid, but they dare not come in the face of the Court and behold the Judge, or come nigh any of their Creditors; this is the greatest ground of security that can be possible, that sin is done away, and that redemption is purchased, because that Christ is received up into glory; God would never have let Christ come so nigh him, if he had any of the smell of his grave-cloaths on him; had left any one sin unsatisfied for.

2. It imports not only a bare satisfacti­on of justice, but clearly demonstrateth how infinitely God is pleased with Jesus Christ, and what he hath done, that his heart is contented, and he hath over and over pleased him; many a broken debt may be paid by a third penny, and com­position and the Creditor pronounce sa­tisfaction in Law: But Christ did not a­gree so with God by way of compositi­on, [Page 242] but Christ paid the utmost farthing that justice could command, and in such a way that God is infinitely taken with him and his Oblation, and so delighted in him as that he thinkes him not fit to stay any longer in this world, but takes him up to glory, cannot be without him in heaven, gives him a name above every name; that he may aske what he will, he hath the command of all Gods treasu­ries, of all his riches.

When Christ went up and down the world, and was but about the work, he could not hold but must send the Spirit to proclaime to all the world, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased; as if he had said, Whatever he shall do I will accept: But now how much more when he hath so faithfully acted out his will, and is received up into his glory; and is received up into his glory, is God pleased with him? It is said, that Christ entred into heaven there to appeare be­fore God for us. As a confident Debtor, who hath paid the Creditor, comes into the Court and askes, who hath any thing [Page 243] to say to him, he owed no man a farthing, all is paid, let the Law take its course: So did Christ, he entred into heaven as one asking justice, what will you have more for poore sinners? here I am, if the Law hath any thing to say to these soules which I have dyed for; have not I given satisfaction to the utmost? I here ap­peare to answer in their behalfe who can­not speake for themselves; Justice is si­lent, gives the acquittance, and God sets Christ down at his right hand; no place, no honour and advancement is too good for him who hath purchased so much; So that now a poore soule by faith may see a discharge indeed of all sin; do but thinke that Christ is taken up into glory, and there cannot remaine a thought that any sin is unsatisfied for; God is pleased so as that nothing but glory is to be ex­pected.

3. This imports a new designe to be acted in heaven for us; he is taken up in­to glory that he may act gloriously the second part of our happinesse; he acted one part in flesh, in the habit of a begger [Page 244] cloathed with rags: He is now gone to act the person of a Prince in robes of glo­ry, and all this to mannage our salvation in the richest way that can be; he is now gone to follow his bloud, and to get all into his own hands, that he may make ready mansions of glory for us. Two great things Christ acts for us now in glo­ry, which is of exceeding consequence to the salvation of our soules.

First, He is in place of an Advocate for us, Heb. 7.25. he lives to intercede for us; he is alwaies begging of favour and love for us; he lies there to stop what­ever plea may be brought in against us by the Devill, or the Law: So that no sin can come in to make plea there but Christ answers it with his old satisfaction; he is there to get out fresh pardons for new sins.

Secondly, He is the great provider and caterer for us, against we come there he is laying up a store and stock of glory for us; he went before to take up Gods heart for us, and now is drawing out the riches of love from him, and laying it in [Page 245] banke for us; therefore the Apostle saith, My God shall supply your wants accor­ding to his riches in glory; now he is in glory, he intimating that Christs riches lye in glory, & now he hath the possession of them all. And this is that which third­ly is here so great a part of the Mystery of Godlinesse; that God who was manife­sted in flesh should be received up into glory; he who dwelt in glory, and was nothing but glory, should yet be represented as at a distance from glory, and said to be received into it; but especially the myste­ry lies in this: That Christ went not up as a single person, but taken up as a com­mon person, carrying all the Elect with him; whatever was to be done on us was done representatively, and vertually on Christ as in our nature; he dyed as a common person, and was justified as a common person, and so now he is recei­ved up into glory he went not up alone; but though it is meant properly of his person, yet vertually, and mystically it is meant of all the Saints, they were all ta­ken up with Jesus Christ into glory; not [Page 246] that they are so actually, but mystically as in Christ their head. And this is the designe, God comming downe to us to bring us up to himselfe, letting aside his glory, from whence we were departed, and then taking it up againe, and us with him. It is no mystery for Christ as God to be in glory, so he cannot be said to be received into it, for he never was with­out it, but it is meant of his humane nature. Neither was Christs humane na­ture received up for it selfe, but as it was a figure of us; Christs person was the great modell, and first draught of all that shall be done to his body the Saints, therefore he is said to be the Captaine of our salvation that leads us all on, and our forerunner into heaven; he breakes the clouds first, appeares first before God, and is glorified, then we follow; Christ wears the Crown in heaven as our King, and he is united and married to God as our Proxy.

This is the mystery, poore sinners ta­ken into glory with Jesus Christ, God himselfe in our owne nature is gone into [Page 247] glory for us. Christ is not only gone to heaven to prepare a place for us, Joh. 14. but sits in heaven in our roome, and God looks on him as the great Picture of all that body, and delights himselfe in seeing them all glorified as in him. And even the Saints now are said to sit downe with Christ already, Eph. 2. (in supercoelestibus) in heavenly places, in supercoelestiall places. And as though now we be the Sons of God we know not what we shall be when we come to glory, but that we shall be like Christ; so though we know Christ is gone up to glory, yet what new mystery he acts there, and how he acts out our salvation as in glory, we know not untill we be actually taken up into the same glory, we have but hints of that transaction.

Ʋse 1. What a stately Tower have we erected for to see heaven on? What a faire prospect have we of the heavenly state of blessed soules? Faith may stand on this mount and see it selfe in glory; it is like some optique glasses, which bring in all which is done without in the streets [Page 248] into one roome; this expression opens heaven to every beleever, and so fully that he cannot but see glory. Is Christ re­ceived up into glory? What is this but the investing all Saints with the same pri­viledge; your faith is led up very high to take in glory it selfe. Faith stands ve­ry lofty when it may both see earth and heaven at once, all that God hath acted for it here, and all that he will act in hea­ven. Faith should eye Christ as far as he goes; if he be ascended, so should faith; if he go into glory, so should you also by beleeving Jesus Christ is lifted up, thus that we might be drawn after him; it is a great encouragement to us to think that Christ was dead for our sins, and is risen againe as our justification: But much more that Christ is gone into glory, and hath carried all our names with him into the Fathers bosome; beleevers should look on Christ under a twofold notion.

1. As one from whom all their hap­pinesse comes; as a head ordained on purpose to convey life and influence unto the soule; one who is filled with all ful­nesse to fill them.

[Page 249]2. As the plat-forme and idea of what they shall be, and this is a high conside­ration, that Saints may not only have from Christ, but expect to be what he is; looke whatever God acted on the person of Christ, that he did as in our behalfe, and meanes to act the same on us: was Christ crucified? so are we; as he rose againe, so are we raised together with him, and if he be taken up into glory, so are we. Oh how should faith stand and gaze on Jesus Christ now he is in glory; not an ordi­nary and meane act of faith will come up into this mystery, such a faith only as sets the soule in heaven, and puts it in a con­dition of glorious triumph becomes this expression; heaven is not only opened, but possessed by Jesus Christ for us. Faith goes to Christ as dying and rising againe, and so beleeves its remission of sins and justification; but yet faith is low while it doth not go within the vaile and see glory. Saints should not rejoyce in pre­sent acts, but live on future glory, as it was with the Jews at that time when the high Priest went into the holy of holies, [Page 250] (whcih was very seldome) yet then they ought to have higher joy in beleeving, be­cause they saw the utmost of their hap­pinesse represented then when meerly they saw the bullock killed for sin. So now that Christ is gone into glory, the holy place not made with hands, we should not only have a faith of justifica­tion, but of glorification; you may an­ticipate the condition of heaven it selfe, and your actuall possession of that by beleeving; when faith lookes down and sees Christ on the Crosse, and his bloud running out to satisfie wrath, it cannot choose but thinke that righteousnesse is procured, especially when we see him rise againe; but now when we looke up higher, and see Christ taken into glory, what can we have lesse than a glorious faith?

Use 2. And now seeing I am falne on this, I cannot choose but bewaile our stu­pidity, and reprove our folly; how mi­serable do beleevers live? Where is the spirit of glory that should be on them? When Stephen saw Jesus at the right [Page 251] hand of God (though but for a moment) his face did shine like glory, Acts 8. How many are there that never came up yet to act faith in Christ as a glorified Christ? We are yet still in the lower forme, can take in no more of Christ than what was done on the Crosse, what some natu­rall and common resemblances of him can hold forth; we seldome follow Christ into heaven to see what he is doing there for us; many professe to live immediate­ly on God, and to be in glory already, but we cannot see their faces shine, their out­ward man scarce as glorious as common professors. It were well if we could see Christ in his glory; such a sight would be transforming of soules indeed; we should live not only as men borne for glory, but as in glory, as these that have not only one foot in the grave, but one foot in hea­ven; heaven is not only let down to you in the frame and picture of it, but you are taken into it in the person of the Lord Jesus; you may not only dreame of hea­ven, but enjoy it; and you thar live be­low glory live below Christ who is [Page 252] received up into glory.

Ʋse 3. This cannot but heighten the joyes, and enlarge the comforts of the Saints, when they do but consider that Christ is received up into glory. In be­leeving this, what can they find lesse than joy unspeakable and full of glory. For,

First, Now Jesus Christ is accepted of the Father for them, and hath declared gloriously that his heart is at rest in the workes of his hands, and that he is well pleased with you; for in this condition he could never else have received Christ in­to heaven: if there were any frownes left in Gods face, you might be sure Christ should have them, first he comming so nigh him; and if any flawes were in your pardon, or any exception against his satisfaction, he had heard of it, and would have been turned out of heaven untill he had made full payment; thou needest not doubt acceptance at the throne of grace and to find a blessed welcome to God, when Jesus Christ is accepted for thee, and thou commest in such a relation.

Secondly, Now he is in a capacity of [Page 253] acting out all his love, and the Fathers desire in the most glorious way to thee; Christ is gone into heaven to do some­thing more for thee still; he had some glorious piece to frame for the Saints, and therefore left this world and went to his Father that he might act it in glory, and now he is invested with all the riches of heaven; he hath all the keys of hea­ven and hell, he hath all power to com­mand, he hath received all the promise to himselfe, and all that he hath to do is to empty himselfe againe on you; he hath not only got his fathers heart for you, but got all his riches to bestow on you; he cares not as it were for his own advance­ment, but only as it is the advantage to glorifie you; and now he can do what he will; when he came to heaven the Fa­ther bid him sit down at his right hand and take what he would, he would have no more to do with the world, but he should bestow what he had among his Saints; this should be the reward of his death; all judgement is committed to the Son, the Father judges no man, Joh. 10. [Page 254] he hath given away all his prerogatives unto Jesus Christ.

Thirdly, As Christ is received up in­to glory to act for you, and to bring you to glory, so he sits in heaven to represent you; he is there as a publike person, and God sees you all in him; he doth but oc­cupy your place, and imploy your stock before you come to yeares, all you must be gathered into his fulnesse, and received up into the same glory; he cannot be contented with that glory he hath un­till you be with him, then he still praies the Father so earnestly that you may be with him where he is, Joh. 17. that they may see (that is, enjoy my glory) if Christ intended to resigne up his place, and all his glory when once his Saints were come about him; he is but as Feoffee in trust with your estate; and how will Christ im­prove it for you who hath such an oppor­tunity? And which is more, what kind of glory must that needs be which is the honour and the happinesse of Jesus Christ, which is his highest advancement as Mediatour.

Therefore every Saint should expect every sight of Christ as glorious to wait on the Lord Jesus for glorious manife­stations of himselfe, and in the next place expect to see himselfe in glory; do not only remember that you have a head in glory, who can supply your wants, but re­member that you are there with him, and that his Crown is as it were a burthen on his own head untill it be set on yours; live according to the rate of such a mystery; aske of Christ communications according to his riches in glory; let all your actings be glorious, all your walkings, joyes, brea­things, let them all be as in glory; view Christ, and see him as in that relation and condition, and you will soone have the sparkles of the same glory on your hearts; bound not your faith and expe­ctations within this poore world, and the enjoyments of in it, but ever and anon cast glances into glory, and if you will be in such an estate you must get Christ that is received up into glory in you as the hope of glory, Col. 1.27. It is only as Christ breakes forth in your [Page 256] hearts by faith that you come to have such sights of glory; that glorified per­son that is now in heaven must be in you by his spirit of glory, or else you can have no hope of glory; beleevers, you see your object, you know his person, never be quiet untill you come into his condition; as you must go through all ordinances and creatures untill you come to Christ, so through all the conditions of Christ untill you come to glory.

Let us now view it in the whole as it were, as it concernes Christ and the Saints together, and this is the end of that, it is received up into glory. As God in Christ was condemned in flesh, so are the Saints, and justified in the spirit, so are they; and at last they with Christ are re­ceived up into glory.

Quest. Now the great question is, How Christ and the Saints are received up into glory?

Sol. As for Christ, it is cleare that he was taken up in his humane nature; as he was God-man in the world, so he is now in heaven, Jesus Christ hath a reall bo­dy [Page 257] now in glory as he had in the world: But it is taken into glory, and so a glori­ous body, Phil. 3. ult. In any other respect Christ could not be taken up into glory, for nothing wanted it but his humane na­ture: And so must all the Saints be recei­ved into glory in the same way, not only in their soules but bodies, for the Saints have not phantasmes in heaven, they are not annihilated in their being, and made in another essentiall forme, but are taken into glory in regard of the whole man as it consists of body and soule. For that place in 1 Cor. 15. where it is said, flesh and bloud cannot inherit the kingdome of heaven, therefore no reall bodies shall be there. It is answered, that the meaning is, flesh and bloud without a change, as it is mortall and weake, not simply the being of flesh and bloud; but it is expounded in the same verse, neither can corruption inherit incorruption, that is, no flesh and bloud, as subject to corruption, as it is weake and sinfull, shall not enter in: For it shall be made a spirituall body, still a body, but spirituall and free from cor­ruption, [Page 258] having a being of immortality put to it.

And this is so cleare as it cannot be de­nied, except we will imagine a chimaera of a man without soule or body; let this be considered, whether the man that sin­ned shall not be saved, the same individu­all man; if the man, then certainlie both in his soule and body, without which he is no man, the being of him as a man lying in the compositum. And besides, the same that is redeemed must be saved, now we are redeemed in soule and body; but yet this body shall be a glorious body, so changed, as that whatever may denote weakenesse and corruption shall be done away, it shall put on incorruption. And how strange is this, that the same man which is ju­stified, and sanctified, shall not be glo­rified. But I leave that as the excre­scency of the pride of this wanton age, who would frame a glory to themselves out of their own fancie.

Let all us know, that Christ and his body shall be taken up in their soules [Page 259] and bodies to one and the same glorie; and though now we dwell in houses of clay, and walke in raggs of dust and ashes, we shall one day be taken into glorie. This should comfort us in all conditions, that this is not our place, and draw out our spirits to scorne this world, and to breath and long after another fulnesse which is to be revea­led; the more high and aspiring our spirits are from the world, and all en­joyments to that glorie into which we are to be taken, the more we expresse our assurance of it. And this glorie is so great, that there is no taking it in, but we are received up into it. Oh what a blessed time will that bee when the whole man shall be cast into glorie, lost as it were in glorie as in an infinite Ocean.

Thus I have presented in a short view to your eyes that which hath been acted from eternitie, and will be yet acted to eterni­tie: It is little hath been said to what might have, and to what shall be really done, I have only shewed you the things in [Page 260] a rude lumpe, let you see the outside of inward and unexpressible glory. I have glanced at that which will be the pro­spect of the strongest eyes for ever; but alas, who is able for these things? God must act it in us that we may know it in it selfe; it is a worke for the spi­rit of the living God, who searcheth the deep things of him.

I shall only in conclusion sum up all, and set before your eye a small map of the whole continent of this myste­ry, that you may see what God is a­doing for poore sinners; the Apostle comprehends all in this expression of a mystery, and a great mystery, and then laies it out in these particulars which are enumerated in this verse; God ma­nifested in flesh, &c. Here is a chaine of mysteries, the first end of it is tyed to Gods heart, and the other end's in glory; in the whole you may take no­tice of these things:

  • 1. The plot and designe.
  • 2. The contrivance of it.
  • 3. The way of acting it.
  • [Page 261]4. The effecting and issue of it.

The plot was to save so many poore sinners, who lay in the bottome of hell, and had so offended God, as that no­thing but eternall wrath was their por­tion; the spring of this, and invisible wheeles from whence it was acted, was Gods eternall love and goodnesse, that he might discover it freely to his crea­tures, because this designe might go on glorious.

It was contrived that the same na­ture which sinned should save, and that the manifestation of God should not be untill the time of the sin, and misery of the poore creature; and that the riches of love might be showne, wisdome contri­ved that God himselfe in another forme should act out all our salvation. Thus God comes to be manifested in flesh, and cals himselfe Christ; takes up our na­ture, and joynes it to his Godhead to be one person, and in that person dies, and suffers, and satisfies himselfe, and is justified as in our stead; he himselfe is made that to us which we were to be [Page 262] made; he makes that person for the glo­ry of the transaction, a head to Angels and men, and presents him to the view of these blessed creatures that they might admire him; and then, as a way to ma­nifest it to us, makes a Gospell which shall containe the sum of all this designe, and causeth it to be preached and proclaimed to all the world; and because there was nothing in the creatures at all to move him, it is to be preached freely, and that to the Gentiles, to the worst of sinners, without exception; and then these poore sinners which have been thus loved, they beleeve on it, entertaine it joyfully, are made one with this person thus set forth, have all applied to themselves, and then this person, and all these soules are taken up unto glory together, and enjoy the fulnesse of God himselfe; this is the Epi­tome of the mystery: but every particu­lar, as well as the whole, is a great my­stery, and past the apprehension of men and Angels to fathome.

The whole work of Salvation is acted by none other than God himselfe seve­rall [Page 263] manifestations; first, in the person of Christ, and that in severall habits: and then in us, and that in severall condition [...]; but still it is God acting towards us, and acting us towards him. God comes down from heaven, and acts out his love to us in five various formes, and under divers con­siderations, and as he goes along gathers us into it, and then at last goes up againe into glory and carries all us with him; he lets down Christ as a platforme of his own love, and makes him act before our eyes all his glory, and then according to the severall out-goings of his love disco­vers him to us, and at last wraps us up with Jesus Christ into his own fulnesse: glory was the end, that was the conditi­on which we were designed unto; but God lets out this glory first in severall sparkles, and then contracts them all in himselfe againe, and receives us up into it; here­in lie mysteries like mountaines one up­on another, and they reach up to the heavens; not a manifestation of God but hath been in a mystery beyond all the apprehensions of the whole world; love [Page 264] breaks out in a direct line, but as it goes along, winds up it selfe in such a variety of contrary and unthought of discove­ries, as that it amazeth men and Angels; So that this is the totall, God acting in Christ, and he in us, and both received up into his infinite fulnesse, which is here called glory.

Oh therefore to conclude all, let all your spirits be taken up in the admiration of these mysteries; what we cannot ex­presse, do you labour to enjoy, take not up your heads and hearts with trifles, ordinary, and low things, when you have such depths of love and wisdome to stu­dy and enjoy the sweetnesse of, thinke nothing worthy of a glance of your eye, or a thought of your heart, but this Great mystery of Godlinesse. And in all your apprehensions of the Gospell won­der not if you see not at first the glory and beauty of them, you must consider there is a mystery in every one of them; thinke not in a slight and ordinary glance to understand divine mysteries, they will take up the most serious and most sub­lime [Page 265] thoughts, and swallow them up at the very entrance on them.

Get the key of divine mysteries if you will open them exactly, that is, the Spi­rit of the Lord; sence and reason will never unlock the depths of such myste­ries, he which will know the mind of God must have his own Spirit to reveale it. Foure things are required to all know­ledge: An Eye, an Object, a Medium, and Light, the Object is supposed.

1. There must be an organ or capaci­ty to see, though things be never so cleare, no man can see without an Eye, there­fore the naturall man cannot see the things of God, because he wants an Eye; you must get a spirituall eye, a divine judgement; for, whatsoever is received in, is per medium recipientis, your old un­derstandings will not serve to judge of Gospell-mysteries.

2. You must have a divine light to shine on this Object before you can see it; Christ is in himselfe out of sight, and the mysteries of the Gospell are too far above all the light of nature and reason too, and [Page 266] therefore the light of the Spirit must be waited on.

3. You must have a fit medium to con­vey this light to your eye, and that is the Word of God in the Scriptures, through that word the Spirit shines, and opens the light and beauty of these truths to us. Stu­dy the Scriptures, wait on the Spirit in them, and you shall know the deep things of God; and I may adde this as the last, get the power and life of truth in your hearts, and then you will soone know the mystery; get your hearts wrapt up in the life and beauty of truth, and you will soone know the meaning of it.


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