Of Communion with God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost

Table of Contents

Title Page
Prefatory note.
Analysis.
Preface.
To the reader.

Part I. Of Communion with each Person distinctly —
Of Communion with the Father

Chap 1. That the saints have communion with God — 1 John i. 3
Chap 2. That the saints have this communion distinctly with the Father, Son, and Spirit, 1 John v. 7
Chap 3. Of the peculiar and distinct communion which the saints have with the Father
Chap 4. Inferences on the former doctrine concerning communion with the Father in love.

Part II. Of Communion with the Son Jesus Christ.

Chap 1. Of the fellowship which the saints have with Jesus Christ the Son of God
Chap 2. What it is wherein we have peculiar fellowship with the Lord Christ
Chap 3. Of the way and manner whereby the saints hold communion with the
              Digression I. Some excellencies of Christ proposed to consideration, to endear our
              Digression II. All solid wisdom laid up in Christ — True wisdom, wherein it consists
Chap 4. Of communion with Christ in a conjugal relation in respect of consequential
Chap 5. Other consequential affections:
Chap 6. Of communion with Christ in purchased grace
Chap 7. The nature of purchased grace; referred to three heads:
Chap 8. How the saints hold communion with Christ as to their acceptation with God
Chap 9. Of communion with Christ in holiness
Chap 10. Of communion with Christ in privileges

Part III. Of Communion with God the Holy Ghost.

Chap 1. The foundation of our communion with the Holy Ghost (John xvi. 1–7)
Chap 2. Of the actings of the Holy Ghost in us, being bestowed on us
Chap 3. Of the things wherein we have communion with the Holy Ghost
Chap 4. The general consequences in the hearts of believers of the effects
Chap 5. Some observations and inferences from discourses foregoing
Chap 6. Of particular communion with the Holy Ghost
Chap 7. The general ways of the saints’ acting in communion with the Holy Ghost.
Chap 8. Particular directions for communion with the Holy Ghost.

A Vindication of Some Passages in a Discourse concerning Communion with God

Title Page.
Prefatory Note.
A Vindication of some Passages in a Discourse concerning Communion with God

.

 

Title Page

OF

COMMUNION

WITH

GOD THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST,

EACH PERSON DISTINCTLY,

IN LOVE, GRACE, AND CONSOLATION;

OR,

THE SAINTS’ FELLOWSHIP WITH THE FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST UNFOLDED.

by

John Owen


 

“God is love.” — 1 John iv. 8.

“Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest.” — Cant. i. 7.

“Make haste, my beloved.” — Cant. viii. 14.

“Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” — Eph. iv. 30.

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God.” — 1 Cor. xii. 4–6.

 

Prefatory note.

The reader may be referred to the Life of Dr Owen (vol. i. p. lxxii.) for a general criticism on the merits of the following treatise. It was published in 1657, shortly after he had ceased to be Vice-Chancellor in the University of Oxford. From the brief preface affixed to it, it appears that, for a period of more than six years, he had been under some engagement to publish the substance of the work. It has been inferred, accordingly, that it is the substance of some discourses which he had preached in Oxford; but, as he became Vice-Chancellor only in September 1652, there is more probability in the supposition that they are the discourses which refreshed and cheered his attached congregation at Coggeshall.

There are two peculiarities which deserve attention in the treatise. The oversight of one of them has created some misconceptions of the author’s design, and led some to fancy that he was wandering from it, in various passages which are in strict harmony with his main and original purpose of the work. The term “Communion,” as used by Owen, is used in a wider sense than is consistent with that which is now generally attached to it in religious phraseology. It denotes not merely the interchange of feeling between God on his gracious character and a soul in a gracious state, but the gracious relationship upon which this holy interchange is based. On the part of Christ, for example, all his work and its results are described, from the atonement till it takes effect in the actual justification of the sinner.

The grand peculiarity distinguishing the treatise is its fullness of illustration with which he dilates on the communion enjoyed by believers with each person of the Godhead respectively. Fully to comprehend his views on this point, it is needful to bear in mind the meaning under which the word Communion is employed by Owen.

Analysis.

Part I. — The fact of communion with God is asserted, chap. i. Passages in Scripture are quoted to show that special mention is made of communion with all the persons of the Trinity ii. Communion with the Father is described, iii.; and practical inferences deduced from it, iv.

Part II. — The reality of communion with Christ is proved chap. i.; and the nature of it is subsequently considered, ii. It is shown to consist in grace; and then the grace of Christ is exhibited under three divisions:— his personal graceiii.–vi.; and under this branch are two long digressions, designed to unfold the glory and loveliness of Christ; — purchased gracevii.–x.; in which the mediatorial work of Christ is fully considered, in reference to our acceptance with God, vii., viii.; sanctification, ix.; and the privileges of the covenant, x.; — and grace as communicated by the Spirit, and conspicuous in the fruits of personal holiness. This last division is illustrated under sanctification, as contained under the head of purchased grace.

Part III. — Communion with the Holy Ghost is expounded in the eight following chapters; — the foundation of it, chap. i.; his gracious and effectual influence in believers, ii.; the elements in which it consists, iii.; the effects in the hearts of believers, iv.; and general inferences and particular directions for communion with the Spirit, v.–viii.

The arrangement of the treatise may seem involved and complicated, and the endless divisions and subdivisions may distract rather than assist the attention of the reader. The warm glow of sanctified emotion, however, and occasionally thoughts of singular power and originality, which are found throughout the treatise, sustain the interest, and more than reward perusal. Few passages in any theological writer are more thrilling than the reference to the spotless humanity of Christ, in terms full of sanctified genius, on page 64.

An account of the strange controversy to which this treatise gave rise, many years after its publication, will be found on page 276. — Ed.

 

Preface.

Christian Reader,

It is now six years past since I was brought under an engagement of promise for the publishing of some meditations on the subject which thou wilt find handled in the ensuing treatise. The reasons of this delay, being not of public concernment, I shall not need to mention. Those who have been in expectation of this duty from me, have, for the most part, been so far acquainted with my condition and employments, as to be able to satisfy themselves as to the deferring of their desires. That which I have to add at present is only this:— having had many opportunities, since the time I first delivered any thing in public on this subject (which was the means of bringing me under the engagements mentioned), to re-assume the consideration of what I had first fixed on, I have been enabled to give it that improvement, and to make those additions to the main of the design and matter treated on, that my first debt is come at length to be only the occasion of what is now tendered to the saints of God. I shall speak nothing of the subject here handled; it may, I hope, speak for itself, in that spiritual savour and relish which it will yield to them whose hearts are not so filled with other things as to render the sweet things of the gospel bitter to them. The design of the whole treatise thou wilt find, Christian reader, in the first chapters of the first part; and I shall not detain thee here with the perusal of any thing which in its proper place will offer itself unto thee: know only, that the whole of it hath been recommended to the grace of God in many supplications, for its usefulness unto them that are interested in the good things mentioned therein.

J. O.

Oxon. Ch. Ch. Coll.,
July 10, 1657.

To the reader.

Alphonsus, king of Spain, is said to have found food and physic in reading Livy; and Ferdinand, king of Sicily, in reading Quintus Curtius: but thou hast here nobler entertainments, vastly richer dainties, incomparably more sovereign medicines; — I had almost said, the very highest of angel’s food is here set before thee; and, as Pliny speaks, “permista deliciis auxilia,” — things that minister unto grace and comfort, to holy life and liveliness.

Such is this treatise, — this, which is the only one extant upon its great and necessary subject, — this, whose praise hath been long in the churches, and hath gone enamelled with the honourable reproaches of more than one English Bolsec, — this, whose great author, like the sun, is well known to the world, by eminence of heavenly light and labours, — this, which, as his many other works, can be no other than manna unto sound Christians, though no better than stone and serpent to Socinians and their fellow-commoners.

Importunity hath drawn me to say thus much more than I could think needful to be said concerning any work of Dr Owen’s; — needful in our day itself, a day wherein “pauci sacras Scripturas, plures nomina rerum, plurimi nomina magistrorum sequuntur;” — “few do cleave to the holy Scriptures; many do rest in scholastic senseless sounds; and most men do hang their faith upon their rabbi’s sleeves.”

This only I add:— of the swarms every day rising, there are few books but do want their readers; yet if I understand aright, there are not many readers but do want this book.

In which censure I think I am no tyrant, which the philosopher names the worst of wild beasts; I am sure I am no flatterer, which he calls justly, the worst of tame beasts, — Καὶ ταῦτα μὲν δὴ ταῦτα.

Let the simple souls (the “paucissimæ lectionis mancipia”) who take the doctrine of distinct communion with the Divine Persons to be a new-fangled one and uncouth, observe the words of the Rev. Samuel Clarke (the annotator on the Bible), in his sermon on 1 John i. 7: “It is to be noted, that there is a distinct fellowship with each of the persons of the blessed Trinity.” Let them attend what is said by Mr Lewis Stuckley, in his preface to Mr Polwheil’s book of Quenching the Spirit: “It is a most glorious truth, though considered but by a few, that believers have, or may have, distinct communion with the three persons, Father, Son, and Spirit. This is attested by the finger of God, and solemnly owned by the first and best age of Christianity.” To name no more, let them read heedfully but the second chapter of this treatise, and it is hoped that then they shall no longer “contra antidotum insanire,” — no longer rage against God’s holy medicinal truth, as St Austin saith he did while he was a Manichee; testifying, in so many words, [that] his error was his very god.

Reader, I am
Thy servant in Christ Jesus,

Daniel Burgess1.


 

Part I.

Of Communion with each Person distinctly —
Of Communion with the Father

Chapter 1.

That the saints have communion with God — 1 John i. 3 considered to that purpose — Somewhat of the nature of communion in general.

In the First Epistle of John, chap. i., verse 3, the apostle assures them to whom he wrote that the fellowship of believers “is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ:”2 and this he doth with such an unusual kind of expression as bears the force of an asseveration; whence we have rendered it, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

The outward appearance and condition of the saints in those days being very mean and contemptible, — their leaders being accounted as the filth of this world, and as the offscouring of all things,3 — the inviting others unto fellowship with them, and a participation of the precious things which they did enjoy, seems to be exposed to many contrary reasonings and objections: “What benefit is there in communion with them? Is it any thing else but to be sharers in troubles, reproaches, scorns, and all manner of evils?” To prevent or remove these and the like exceptions, the apostle gives them to whom he wrote to know (and that with some earnestness of expression), that notwithstanding all the disadvantages their fellowship lay under, unto a carnal view, yet in truth it was, and would be found to be (in reference to some with whom they held it), very honourable, glorious, and desirable. For “truly,” saith he, “our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

This being so earnestly and directly asserted by the apostle, we may boldly follow him with our affirmation, — namely, “That the saints of God have communion with him.” And a holy and spiritual communion it is, as shall be declared. How this is spoken distinctly in reference to the Father and the Son, must afterward be fully opened and carried on.

By nature, since the entrance of sin, no man hath any communion with God. He is light,4 we darkness; and what communion hath light with darkness? He is life, we are dead, — he is love, and we are enmity; and what agreement can there be between us? Men in such a condition have neither Christ,5 nor hope, nor God in the world, Eph. ii. 12; “being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them,” chap. iv. 18. Now, two cannot walk together, unless they be agreed, Amos iii. 3. Whilst there is this distance between God and man, there is no walking together for them in any fellowship or communion. Our first interest in God was so lost by sin,6 as that there was left unto us (in ourselves) no possibility of a recovery. As we had deprived ourselves of all power for a returnal, so God had not revealed any way of access unto himself; or that he could, under any consideration, be approached unto by sinners in peace. Not any work that God had made, not any attribute that he had revealed, could give the least light into such a dispensation.

The manifestation of grace and pardoning mercy, which is the only door of entrance into any such communion, is not committed unto any but unto him alone7 in whom it is, by whom that grace and mercy was purchased, through whom it is dispensed, who reveals it from the bosom of the Father. Hence this communion and fellowship with God is not in express terms mentioned in the Old Testament. The thing itself is found there; but the clear light of it, and the boldness of faith in it, is discovered in the gospel, and by the Spirit administered therein. By that Spirit we have this liberty, 2 Cor. iii. 17, 18. Abraham was the friend of God, Isa. xli. 8; David, a man after his own heart; Enoch walked with him, Gen. v. 22; — all enjoying this communion and fellowship for the substance of it. But the way into the holiest was not yet made manifest whilst the first tabernacle was standing, Heb. ix. 8. Though they had communion with God, yet they had not παῤῥησίαν, — a boldness and confidence in that communion. This follows the entrance of our High Priest into the most holy place, Heb. iv. 16, x. 19. The vail also was upon them, that they had not ἐλευθερίαν, freedom and liberty in their access to God, 2 Cor. iii. 15, 16, etc. But now in Christ we have 8boldness and access with confidence to God, Eph. iii. 12. This boldness and access with confidence the saints of old were not acquainted with. By Jesus Christ alone, then, on all considerations as to being and full manifestation, is this distance taken away. He hath consecrated for us a new and living way (the old being quite shut up), “through the vail, that is to say, his flesh,” Heb. x. 20; and “through him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father,” Eph. ii. 18. “Ye who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ, for he is our peace,” etc., verses 13, 14. Of this foundation of all our communion with God, more afterward, and at large. Upon this new bottom and foundation, by this new and living way, are sinners admitted into communion with God, and have fellowship with him. And truly, for sinners to have fellowship with God, the infinitely holy God, is an astonishing dispensation.9 To speak a little of it in general:— Communion relates to things and persons. A joint participation in any thing whatever, good or evil,10 duty or enjoyment, nature or actions, gives this denomination to them so partaking of it. A common interest in the same nature gives all men a fellowship or communion therein. Of the elect it is said, Τὰ παιδία κεκοινώνηκε σαρκὸς καὶ αἵματος, Heb. ii. 14, “Those children partook of” (or had fellowship in, with the rest of the world) “flesh and blood,” — the same common nature with the rest of mankind; and, therefore, Christ also came into the same fellowship: Καὶ αὐτὸς παραπλησίως μετέσχε τῶν αὐτῶν. There is also a communion as to state and condition, whether it be good or evil; and this, either in things internal and spiritual, — such as is the communion of saints among themselves; or in respect of outward things. So was it with Christ and the two thieves, as to one condition, and to one of them in respect of another. They were ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ κρίματι, — under the same sentence to the cross, Luke xxiii. 40, “ejusdem dolores socii.” They had communion as to that evil condition whereunto they were adjudged; and one of them requested (which he also obtained) a participation in that blessed condition whereupon our Saviour was immediately to enter. There is also a communion or fellowship in actions, whether good or evil. In good, is that communion and fellowship in the gospel, or in the performance and celebration of that worship of God which in the gospel is instituted; which the saints do enjoy, Phil. i. 5; which, as to the general kind of it, David so rejoices in, Ps. xlii. 4. In evil, was that wherein Simeon and Levi were brethren, Gen. xlix. 5. They had communion in that cruel act of revenge and murder. Our communion with God is not comprised in any one of these kinds; of some of them it is exclusive. It cannot be natural; it must be voluntary and by consent. It cannot be of state and conditions; but in actions. It cannot be in the same actions upon a third party; but in a return from one to another. The infinite disparity that is between God and man, made the great philosopher conclude that there could be no friendship between them.11 Some distance in the persons holding friendship he could allow, nor could exactly determine the bounds and extent thereof; but that between God and man, in his apprehension, left no place for it. Another says, indeed, that there is “communitas homini cum Deo,” — a certain fellowship between God and man; but the general intercourse of providence is all he apprehended. Some arose to higher expressions; but they understood nothing whereof they spake. This knowledge is hid in Christ; as will afterward be made to appear. It is too wonderful for nature, as sinful and corrupted. Terror and apprehensions of death at the presence of God is all that it guides unto. But we have, as was said, a new foundation, and a new discovery of this privilege.

Now, communion is the mutual communication of such good things as wherein the persons holding that communion are delighted, bottomed upon some union between them. So it was with Jonathan and David; their souls clave to one another (1 Sam. xx. 17) in love.12 There was the union of love between them; and then they really communicated all issues of love mutually.13 In spiritual things this is more eminent: those who enjoy this communion have the most excellent union for the foundation of it; and the issues of that union, which they mutually communicate, are the most precious and eminent.

Of the union which is the foundation of all that communion we have with God I have spoken largely elsewhere, and have nothing farther to add thereunto.

Our communion, then, with God consisteth in his communication of himself unto us, with our returnal unto him of that which he requireth and accepteth, flowing from that union14 which in Jesus Christ we have with him. And it is twofold:— 1. Perfect and complete, in the full fruition of his glory and total giving up of ourselves to him, resting in him as our utmost end; which we shall enjoy when we see him as he is; — and, 2. Initial and incomplete, in the first-fruits and dawnings of that perfection which we have here in grace; which only I shall handle.

It is, then, I say, of that mutual communication15 in giving and receiving, after a most holy and spiritual manner, which is between God and the saints while they walk together in a covenant of peace, ratified in the blood of Jesus, whereof we are to treat. And this we shall do, if God permit; in the meantime praying the God and Father of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath, of the riches of his grace, recovered us from a state of enmity into a condition of communion and fellowship with himself, that both he that writes, and they that read the words of his mercy, may have such a taste of his sweetness and excellencies therein, as to be stirred up to a farther longing after the fulness of his salvation, and the eternal fruition of him in glory.

—————————————————————————–
2 Καὶ ἡ κοινωνία δὲ ἡ ἡμετέρα, etc.
3 Ὡς περικαθάρματα τοῦ κόσμου. — 1 Cor. iv. 8–13; Rom. viii. 35–36; Heb. x. 32–34. “Christianos ad leones. Et puto, nos Deus apostolos novissimos elegit veluti bestiarios.”—Tert. de Pud., Acts xvii. 18; Gal. vi. 12. “Semper casuris similes, nunquamque cadentes.”
4 1 John i. 5; 2 Cor. vi. 14; Eph. v. 8; John v. 21; Matt. xxii. 32; Eph. ii. 1; 1 John iv. 8; Rom. viii. 7.
5 “Magna hominis miseria est cum illo non esse, sine quo non potest esse.”— August.
6 Eccles. vii. 29; Jer. xiii. 23; Acts iv. 12; Isa. xxxiii. 14.
7 John i. 18; Heb. x. 19–21. “Unus verusque Mediator per sacrificium pacis reconcilians nos Deo; unum cum illo manebat cui offerebat; unum in se fecit, pro quibus offerebat; unus ipse fuit, qui offerabat, et quod offerebat.”— [Slightly changed from] August. de Trinit., iv. c. 14.
8 Παῤῥησίαν καὶ τὴν προσαγωγὴν ἐν πεποιθήσει.
9 1 John iii. 1. Φίλων μὲν ὄντων, οὐδὲν δεῖ δικαιοσύνης· δίκαιοι δὲ ὄντες προσδέονται φιλίας. — Arist. Eth., lib. viii. cap. 1.
10 “Quemadmodum enim nobis arrhabonem Spiritus reliquit, ita et a nobis arrhabonem carnis accepit, et vexit in cœlum, pignus totius summæ illuc quandoque redigendæ.”— Tertul. De Resur., c. li.
11 Ἀκριβὴς μὲν οὖν ἐν τοιούτοις οὐκ ἔστιν ὁρισμός, ἕως τίνος οἱ φίλον πολλῶν γὰρ ἀφαιρουμένων, ἔτι μένει, πολὺ δὲ χωρισθέντος, οἷον τοῦ Θεοῦ οὐκ ἔτι. — Aristot. Eth., lib. viii. c. 7; Cicer. de Nat. Deor. lib. i.
12 Πάντα τὰ τῶν φίλων κοινά.
13 Καὶ ἡ παροιμία, κοινὰ τὰ φίλων, ὀρθῶς, ἐν κοινωνίᾳ γὰρ ἡ φιλία. — Arist. Eth., viii.
14 “Nostra quippe et ipsius conjunctio, nec miscet personas, nec unit substantias, sed affectus consociat, et confœderat voluntates.” — Cyp. de Cœn. Domini. [No treatise of Cyprian bears such a title. There is a treatise, “De Cœnâ Domini,” ascribed to Cyprian, but on grounds so questionable and insufficient that it is sometimes not included among his supposititious works. A statement referring to the union between Christ and his people, as illustrated by the sacramental elements, occurs in his letter to Cœcilius, “De Sacramento Dominici Calicis;” but the words of the above quotation are not contained in it.]
15 “Magna etiam illa communitas est, quæ conficitur ex beneficiis ultro citro, datis acceptis.” — Cic. Off., lib. i. c. 17.

Chapter 2.

That the saints have this communion distinctly with the Father, Son, and Spirit, 1 John v. 7 opened to this purpose; also, 1 Cor. xii. 4–6, Eph. ii. 18 — Father and Son mentioned jointly in this communion; the Father solely, the Son also, and the Holy Ghost singly — The saints’ respective reward in all worship to each person manifested — Faith in the Father, John v. 9, 10; and love towards him, 1 John ii. 15, Mal. i. 6 — So in prayer and praise — It is so likewise with the Son, John xiv. 1 — Of our communion with the Holy Ghost — The truth farther confirmed.

That the saints have communion with God, and what communion in general is, was declared in the first chapter. The manner how this communion is carried on, and the matter wherein it doth consist, comes next under consideration. For the first, in respect of the distinct persons of the Godhead with whom they have this fellowship, it is either distinct and peculiar, or else obtained and exercised jointly and in common. That the saints have distinct communion with the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (that is, distinctly with the Father, and distinctly with the Son, and distinctly with the Holy Spirit), and in what the peculiar appropriation of this distinct communion unto the several persons doth consist, must, in the first place, be made manifest.16
1 John v. 7, the apostle tells us, “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost.” In heaven they are, and bear witness to us. And what is it that they bear witness unto? Unto the sonship of Christ, and the salvation of believers in his blood. Of the carrying on of that, both by blood and water, justification and sanctification, is he there treating. Now, how do they bear witness hereunto? even as three, as three distinct witnesses. When God witnesseth concerning our salvation, surely it is incumbent on us to receive his testimony. And as he beareth witness, so are we to receive it. Now this is done distinctly. The Father beareth witness, the Son beareth witness, and the Holy Spirit beareth witness; for they are three distinct witnesses. So, then, are we to receive their several testimonies: and in doing so we have communion with them severally; for in this giving and receiving of testimony consists no small part of our fellowship with God. Wherein their distinct witnessing consists will be afterward declared.

1 Cor. xii. 4–6, the apostle, speaking of the distribution of gifts and graces unto the saints, ascribes them distinctly, in respect of the fountain of their communication, unto the distinct persons. “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit,”17 — “that one and the self-same Spirit;” that is, the Holy Ghost, verse 11. “And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord,” the same Lord Jesus, verse 5. “And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God,” etc., even the Father, Eph. iv. 6. So graces and gifts are bestowed, and so are they received.

And not only in the emanation of grace from God, and the illapses of the Spirit on us, but also in all our approaches unto God, is the same distinction observed.18 “For through Christ we have access by one Spirit unto the Father,” Eph. ii. 18. Our access unto God (wherein we have communion with him) is δὶα Χριστοῦ, “through Christ,” ἐν Πνεύματι, “in the Spirit,” and πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα, “unto the Father;” — the persons being here considered as engaged distinctly unto the accomplishment of the counsel of the will of God revealed in the gospel.

Sometimes, indeed, there is express mention made only of the Father and the Son, 1 John i. 3, “Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” The particle “and” is both distinguishing and uniting. Also John xiv. 23, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” It is in this communion wherein Father and Son do make their abode with the soul.

Sometimes the Son only is spoken of, as to this purpose. 1 Cor. i. 9, “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” And, Rev. iii. 20, “If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me;” — of which place afterward.

Sometimes the Spirit alone is mentioned. 2 Cor. xiii. 14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all.” This distinct communion, then, of the saints with the Father, Son, and Spirit, is very plain in the Scripture; but yet it may admit of farther demonstration. Only this caution I must lay in beforehand:— whatever is affirmed in the pursuit of this truth, it is done with relation to the explanation ensuing, in the beginning of the next chapter.

The way and means, then, on the part of the saints, whereby in Christ they enjoy communion with God, are all the spiritual and holy actings19 and outgoings of their souls in those graces, and by those ways, wherein both the moral and instituted worship of God doth consist. Faith, love, trust, joy, etc., are the natural or moral worship of God, whereby those in whom they are have communion with him. Now, these are either immediately acted on God, and not tied to any ways or means outwardly manifesting themselves; or else they are farther drawn forth, in solemn prayer and praises, according unto that way which he hath appointed. That the Scripture doth distinctly assign all these unto the Father, Son, and Spirit, — manifesting that the saints do, in all of them, both as they are purely and nakedly moral, and as farther clothed with instituted worship, respect each person respectively, — is that which, to give light to the assertion in hand, I shall farther declare by particular instances:—

1. For the Father. Faith, love, obedience, etc., are peculiarly and distinctly yielded by the saints unto him; and he is peculiarly manifested in those ways as acting peculiarly towards them: which should draw them forth and stir them up thereunto. He gives testimony unto, and beareth witness of, his Son, 1 John v. 9, “This is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.” In his bearing witness he is an object of belief. When he gives testimony (which he doth as the Father, because he doth it of the Son) he is to he received in it by faith. And this is affirmed, verse 10, “He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself.” To believe on the Son of God in this place, is to receive the Lord Christ as the Son, the Son given unto us,20 for all the ends of the Father’s love, upon the credit of the Father’s testimony; and, therefore, therein is faith immediately acted on the Father. So it follows in the next words, “he that believeth not God” (that is, the Father, who bears witness to the Son) “hath made him a liar.” “Ye believe in God,” saith our Saviour, John xiv. 1; that is, the Father as such, for he adds, “Believe also in me;” or, “Believe you in God; believe also in me.” God, as the prima Veritas, upon whose authority is founded, and whereunto all divine faith is ultimately resolved, is not to be considered ὑποστατικῶς, as peculiarly expressive of any person, but οὐδιωδῶς, comprehending the whole Deity; which undividedly is the prime object thereof. But in this particular it is the testimony and authority of the Father (as such) therein, of which we speak, and whereupon faith is distinctly fixed on him; — which, if it were not so, the Son could not add, “Believe also in me.”

The like also is said of love. 1 John ii. 15, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him;” that is, the love which we bear to him, not that which we receive from him. The Father is here placed as the object of our love, in opposition to the world, which takes up our affections ἡ ἀγάπη τοῦ Πατρός. The Father denotes the matter and object, not the efficient cause, of the love inquired after. And this love of him as a Father is that which he calls his “honour,” Mal. i. 6.

Farther: these graces as acted in prayer and praises, and as clothed with instituted worship, are peculiarly directed unto him. “Ye call on the Father,” 1 Pet. i. 17. Eph. iii. 14, 15, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” Bowing the knee compriseth the whole worship of God, both that which is moral, in the universal obedience he requireth, and those peculiar ways of carrying it on which are by him appointed, Isa. xlv. 23, “Unto me,” saith the Lord, “every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” Which, verses 24, 25, he declareth to consist in their acknowledging of him for righteousness and strength. Yea, it seems sometimes to comprehend the orderly subjection of the whole creation unto his sovereignty.21 In this place of the apostle it hath a far more restrained acceptation, and is but a figurative expression of prayer, taken from the most expressive bodily posture to be used in that duty. This he farther manifests, Eph. iii. 16, 17, declaring at large what his aim was, and whereabout his thoughts were exercised, in that bowing of his knees. The workings, then, of the Spirit of grace in that duty are distinctly directed to the Father as such, as the fountain of the Deity, and of all good things in Christ, — as the “Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And therefore the same apostle doth, in another place, expressly conjoin, and yet as expressly distinguish, the Father and the Son in directing his supplications, 1 Thess. iii. 11, “God himself even our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.” The like precedent, also, have you of thanksgiving, Eph. i. 3, 4, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” etc. I shall not add those very many places wherein the several particulars22 that do concur unto that whole divine worship (not to be communicated unto any, by nature not God, without idolatry) wherein the saints do hold communion with God, are distinctly directed to the person of the Father.

2. It is so also in reference unto the Son. John xiv. 1, “Ye believe in God,” saith Christ, “believe also in me;” — “Believe also, act faith distinctly on me; faith divine, supernatural, — that faith whereby you believe in God, that is, the Father. There is a believing of Christ, namely, that he is the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. That is that whose neglect our Saviour so threatened unto the Pharisees, John viii. 24, “If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” In this sense faith is not immediately fixed on the Son, being only an owning of him (that is, the Christ to be the Son), by closing with the testimony of the Father concerning him. But there is also a believing on him, called “Believing on the name of the Son of God,” 1 John v. 13; so also John ix. 36; — yea, the distinct affixing of faith, affiance, and confidence on the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, as the Son of God, is most frequently pressed. John iii. 16, “God” (that is, the Father) “so loved the world, … that whosoever believeth in him” (that is, the Son) “should not perish.” The Son, who is given of the Father, is believed on. “He that believeth on him is not condemned,” verse 18. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life,” verse 36. “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent,” John vi. 29, 40; 1 John v. 10. The foundation of the whole is laid, John v. 23, “That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.” But of this honour and worship of the Son I have treated at large elsewhere;23 and shall not in general insist upon it again. For love, I shall only add that solemn apostolical benediction, Eph. vi. 24, “Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity,” — that is, with divine love, the love of religious worship; which is the only incorrupt love of the Lord Jesus.

Farther: that faith, hope, and love, acting themselves in all manner of obedience and appointed worship, are peculiarly due from the saints,24 and distinctly directed unto the Son, is abundantly manifest from that solemn doxology, Rev. i. 5, 6, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Which yet is set forth with more glory, chap. v. 8, “The four living creatures, and the four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints:” and verses 13, 14, “Every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” The Father and the Son (he that sits upon the throne, and the Lamb) are held out jointly, yet distinctly, as the adequate object of all divine worship and honour, for ever and ever. And therefore Stephen, in his solemn dying invocation, fixeth his faith and hope distinctly on him, Acts vii. 59, 60, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit;” and, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge;” — for he knew that the Son of man had power to forgive sins also. And this worship of the Lord Jesus, the apostle makes the discriminating character of the saints, 1 Cor. i. 2, “With all,” saith he, “that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours;” that is, with all the saints of God. And invocation generally comprises the whole worship of God.25 This, then, is the due of our Mediator, though as God, as the Son, — not as Mediator.

3. Thus also is it in reference unto the Holy Spirit of grace. The closing of the great sin of unbelief26 is still described as an opposition unto, and a resisting of that Holy Spirit. And you have distinct mention of the love of the Spirit, Rom. xv. 30. The apostle also peculiarly directs his supplication to him in that solemn benediction, 2 Cor. xiii. 14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.” And such benedictions are originally supplications. He is likewise entitled unto all instituted worship, from the appointment of the administration of baptism in his name, Matt. xxviii. 19. Of which things more afterward.

Now, of the things which have been delivered this is the sum:— there is no grace whereby our souls go forth unto God, no act of divine worship yielded unto him, duty or obedience performed, but they are distinctly directed unto Father, Son, and Spirit. Now, by these and such like ways as these, do we hold communion with God; and therefore we have that communion distinctly, as hath been described.

This also may farther appear, if we consider how distinctly the persons of the Deity are revealed to act in the communication of those good things, wherein the saints have communion with God.27 As all the spiritual ascendings of their souls are assigned unto them respectively, so all their internal receiving of the communications of God unto them are held out in such a distribution as points at distinct rises and fountains (though not of being in themselves, yet) of dispensations unto us. Now this is declared two ways:—

(1.) When the same thing is, at the same time, ascribed jointly and yet distinctly to all the persons in the Deity, and respectively to each of them. So are grace and peace, Rev. i. 4, 5, “Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness,” etc. The seven Spirits before the throne, are the Holy Spirit of God, considered as the perfect fountain of every perfect gift and dispensation. All are here joined together, and yet all mentioned as distinguished in their communication of grace and peace unto the saints. “Grace and peace be unto you, from the Father, and from,” etc.

(2.) When the same thing is attributed severally and singly unto each person. There is, indeed, no gracious influence from above, no illapse of light, life, love, or grace upon our hearts, but proceedeth in such a dispensation. I shall give only one instance, which is very comprehensive, and may be thought to comprise all other particulars; and this is teaching. The teaching of God is the real communication of all and every particular emanation from himself unto the saints whereof they are made partakers. That promise, “They shall be all taught of God,” inwraps in itself the whole mystery of grace, as to its actual dispensation unto us, so far as we may be made real possessors of it. Now this is assigned, —

[1.] Unto the Father. The accomplishment of that promise is peculiarly referred to him, John vi. 45, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, comes unto me.” This teaching, whereby we are translated from death unto life, brought unto Christ, unto a participation of life and love in him, — it is of and from the Father: him we hear, of him we learn,28 by him are we brought unto union and communion with the Lord Jesus. This is his drawing us, his begetting us anew of his own will, by his Spirit; and in which work he employs the ministers of the gospel, Acts xxvi. 17, 18.

[2.] Unto the Son. The Father proclaims him from heaven to be the great teacher, in that solemn charge to hear him, which came once [and] again from the excellent glory: “This is my beloved Son; hear him.” The whole of his prophetical, and no small part of his kingly office, consists in this teaching; herein is he said to draw men unto him, as the Father is said to do in his teaching, John xii. 32; which he doth with such efficacy, that “the dead hear his voice and live.”29 The teaching of the Son is a life-giving, a spirit-breathing teaching; — an effectual influence of light, whereby he shines into darkness; a communication of life, quickening the dead; an opening of blind eyes, and changing of hard hearts; a pouring out of the Spirit, with all the fruits thereof. Hence he claims it as his privilege to be the sole master, Matt. xxiii. 10, “One is your Master, even Christ.”

[3.] To the Spirit. John xiv. 26, “The Comforter, he shall teach you all things.” “But the anointing which ye have received,” saith the apostle, “abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him,” 1 John ii. 27. That teaching unction which is not only true, but truth itself, is only the Holy Spirit of God: so that he teacheth also; being given unto us “that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God,” 1 Cor. ii. 12. I have chosen this special instance because, as I told you, it is comprehensive, and comprises in itself most of the particulars that might be annumerated, — quickening, preserving, etc.

This, then, farther drives on the truth that lies under demonstration; there being such a distinct communication of grace from the several persons of the Deity, the saints must needs have distinct communion with them.

It remaineth only to intimate, in a word, wherein this distinction lies, and what is the ground thereof. Now, this is, that the Father doth it by the way of original authority; the Son by the way of communicating from a purchased treasury; the Holy Spirit by the way of immediate efficacy.

1st. The Father communicates all grace by the way of original authority: He quickeneth whom he will, John v. 21. “Of his own will begat he us,” James i. 18. Life-giving power is, in respect of original authority, invested in the Father by the way of eminency; and therefore, in sending of the quickening Spirit, Christ is said to do it from the Father, or the Father himself to do it. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send,” John xiv. 26. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father,” John xv. 26; — though he be also said to send him himself, on another account, John xvi. 7.

2dly. The Son, by the way of making out a purchased treasury: “Of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace,” John i. 16. And whence is this fulness? “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,” Col. i. 19. And upon what account he hath the dispensation of that fulness to him committed you may see, Phil. ii. 8–11. “When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities,” Isa. liii. 10, 11. And with this fulness he hath also authority for the communication of it, John v. 25–27; Matt. xxviii. 18.

3dly. The Spirit doth it by the way of immediate efficacy, Rom. viii. 11, “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Here are all three comprised, with their distinct concurrence unto our quickening. Here is the Father’s authoritative quickening, — “He raised Christ from the dead, and he shall quicken you;” and the Son’s mediatory quickening, — for it is done in “the death of Christ;” and the Spirit’s immediate efficacy, — “He shall do it by the Spirit that dwelleth in you.” He that desires to see this whole matter farther explained, may consult what I have elsewhere written on this subject. And thus is the distinct communion whereof we treat both proved and demonstrated.

————————————————————————————–
16 “Ecce dico alium esse patrem, et alium filium, non divisione alium, sed distinctione.” — Tertul. adv. Prax.
Οὐ φθάνω τὸ ἕν νοῆσαι, καὶ τοῖς τρισὶ περιλάμπομαι, οὐ φθάνω τὰ τρία διελεῖν, καὶ εἰς τὸ ἕν ἀναφέρομαι. — Greg. Naz.
17 Χαρίσματα, διακονίας, ἐνεργήματα.
18 Πᾶσαν μὲν γὰρ δέησιν καὶ προσευχὴν καὶ ἔντευξιν, καὶ εὐχαριστίαν ἀναπεμπτέον τῶ ἐπὶ πᾶσι Θεῷ, διὰ τοῦ ἐπὶ πάντων ἀγγέλων ἀρχιερέως ἐμψύχου λόγου καὶ Θεοῦ. — Orig. cont. Cels., lib. v. [c. 4.]
19 Hic tibi præcipuè sit purâ mente colendus.
20 Isa. ix. 6; 1 Cor. i. 30; Matt. v. 16, 45, vi. 1, 4, 6, 8, vii. 21, xii. 50; Luke xxiv. 49; John iv. 23, vi. 45, xii. 26, xiv. 6, 21, 23, xv. 1, xvi. 25, 27, xx. 17; Gal. i. 1, 3; Eph. ii. 18, v. 20; 1 Thess. i. 1; James i. 17; 1 Pet. i. 17; 1 John ii. 13, etc.
21 Rom. xiv. 10, 11; Phil. ii. 10.
22 Jer. x. 10, xvii. 5, 6; Gal. iv. 8.
23 Vind. Evan., cap. x. vol. xii.
24 Ps. ii. 7, 12; Dan. iii. 25; Matt. iii. 17, xvii. 5, xxii. 45; John iii. 36, v. 19–26, viii. 36; 1 Cor. i. 9; Gal. i. 6, iv. 6; 1 John ii. 22–24, v. 10–13; Heb. i. 6; Phil. ii. 10; John v. 23.
25 Isa. lvi. 7; Rom. x. 12–14.
26 Acts vii. 51.
27 “Tametsi omnia unus idemque Deus efficit, ut dicitur, — opera Trinitatis ad extra sunt indivisa, distinguuntur tamen personæ discrimine in istis operibus.”— Matt. iii. 16; Acts iii. 13: Gen. xix. 24, i. 26; Matt. xxviii. 19; 2 Cor. xiii. 14.
28 Matt. xi. 25; John i. 13; James i. 18.
29 Matt. iii. 17, xvii. 5; 2 Pet. i. 17; Deut. xviii. 15–20, etc.; Acts iii. 22, 23; John v. 25; Isa. lxi. 1–3; Luke iv. 18, 19.

Chapter 3.

Of the peculiar and distinct communion which the saints have with the Father — Observations for the clearing of the whole premised — Our peculiar communion with the Father is in love — 1 John iv. 7, 8; 2 Cor. xiii. 14; John xvi. 26, 27; Rom. v. 5; John iii. 16, xiv. 23; Tit. iii. 4, opened to this purpose — What is required of believers to hold communion with the Father in love — His love received by faith — Returns of love to him — God’s love to us and ours to him — Wherein they agree — Wherein they differ.

Having proved that there is such a distinct communion in respect of Father, Son, and Spirit, as whereof we speak, it remains that it be farther cleared up by an induction of instances, to manifest what [it is], and wherein the saints peculiarly hold this communion with the several persons respectively: which also I shall do, after the premising some observations, necessary to be previously considered, as was promised, for the clearing of what hath been spoken. And they are these that follow:—

1. When I assign any thing as peculiar wherein we distinctly hold communion with any person, I do not exclude the other persons from communion with the soul in the very same thing. Only this, I say, principally, immediately, and by the way of eminency, we have, in such a thing, or in such a way, communion with some one person; and therein with the others secondarily, and by the way of consequence on that foundation; for the person, as the person, of any one of them, is not the prime object of divine worship, but as it is identified with the nature or essence of God. Now, the works that outwardly are of God (called “Trinitatis ad extra”),30 which are commonly said to be common and undivided, are either wholly so, and in all respects, as all works of common providence; or else, being common in respect of their acts, they are distinguished in respect of that principle, or next and immediate rise in the manner of operation: so creation is appropriated to the Father, redemption to the Son. In which sense we speak of these things.

2. There is a concurrence of the actings and operations of the whole Deity31 in that dispensation, wherein each person concurs to the work of our salvation, unto every act of our communion with each singular person. Look, by what act soever we hold communion with any person, there is an influence from every person to the putting forth of that act.32 As, suppose it to be the act of faith:— It is bestowed on us by the Father: “It is not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” Eph. ii. 8. It is the Father that revealeth the gospel, and Christ therein, Matt. xi. 25. And it is purchased for us by the Son: “Unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, to believe on him,” Phil. i. 29. In him are we “blessed with spiritual blessings,” Eph. i. 3. He bestows on us, and increaseth faith in us, Luke xvii. 5. And it is wrought in us by the Spirit; he administers that “exceeding greatness of his power,” which he exerciseth towards them who believe, “according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead,” Eph. i. 19, 20; Rom. viii. 11.

3. When I assign any particular thing wherein we hold communion with any person, I do not do it exclusively unto other mediums of communion; but only by the way of inducing a special and eminent instance for the proof and manifestation of the former general assertion: otherwise there is no grace or duty wherein we have not communion with God in the way described. In every thing wherein we are made partakers of the divine nature, there is a communication and receiving between God and us; so near are we unto him in Christ.

4. By asserting this distinct communion, which merely respects that order in the dispensation of grace which God is pleased to hold out in the gospel, I intend not in the least to shut up all communion with God under these precincts (his ways being exceeding broad, containing a perfection whereof there is no end), nor to prejudice that holy fellowship we have with the whole Deity, in our walking before him in covenant-obedience; which also, God assisting, I shall handle hereafter.

These few observations being premised, I come now to declare what it is wherein peculiarly and eminently the saints have communion with the Father; and this is love, — free, undeserved, and eternal love. This the Father peculiarly fixes upon the saints; this they are immediately to eye in him, to receive of him, and to make such returns thereof as he is delighted withal. This is the great discovery of the gospel: for whereas the Father, as the fountain of the Deity, is not known any other way but as full of wrath, anger, and indignation against sin, nor can the sons of men have any other thoughts of him (Rom. i. 18; Isa. xxxiii. 13, 14; Hab. i. 13; Ps. v. 4–6; Eph. ii. 3), — here he is now revealed peculiarly as love, as full of it unto us; the manifestation whereof is the peculiar work of the gospel, Tit. iii. 4.

1. 1 John iv. 8, “God is love.” That the name of God is here taken personally,33 and for the person of the Father, not essentially, is evident from verse 9, where he is distinguished from his only begotten Son whom he sends into the world. Now, saith he, “The Father is love;” that is, not only of an infinitely gracious, tender, compassionate, and loving nature, according as he hath proclaimed himself, Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7, but also one that “eminently and peculiarly dispenseth himself unto us in free love.” So the apostle sets it forth in the following verses: “This is love,” verse 9; — “This is that which I would have you take notice of in him, that he makes out love unto you, in ‘sending his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.’ ” So also, verse 10, “He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” And that this is peculiarly to be eyed in him, the Holy Ghost plainly declares, in making it antecedent to the sending of Christ, and all mercies and benefits whatever by him received. This love, I say, in itself, is antecedent to the purchase of Christ, although the whole fruit thereof be made out alone thereby, Eph. i. 4–6.

2. So in that distribution made by the apostle in his solemn parting benediction, 2 Cor. xiii. 14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.” Ascribing sundry things unto the distinct persons, it is love that he peculiarly assigns to the Father. And the fellowship of the Spirit is mentioned with the grace of Christ and the love of God, because it is by the Spirit alone that we have fellowship with Christ in grace, and with the Father in love, although we have also peculiar fellowship with him; as shall be declared.

3. John xvi. 26, 27, saith our Saviour, “I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loveth you.”34 But how is this, that our Saviour saith, “I say not that I will pray the Father for you,” when he saith plainly, chap. xiv. 16, “I will pray the Father for you?” The disciples, with all the gracious words, comfortable and faithful promises of their Master, with most heavenly discoveries of his heart unto them, were even fully convinced of his dear and tender affections towards them; as also of his continued care and kindness, that he would not forget them when bodily he was gone from them, as he was now upon his departure: but now all their thoughts are concerning the Father, how they should be accepted with him, what respect he had towards them. Saith our Saviour, “Take no care of that, nay, impose not that upon me, of procuring the Father’s love for you; but know that this is his peculiar respect towards you, and which you are in him: ‘He himself loves you.’ It is true, indeed (and as I told you), that I will pray the Father to send you the Spirit, the Comforter, and with him all the gracious fruits of his love; but yet in the point of love itself, free love, eternal love, there is no need of any intercession for that: for eminently the Father himself loves you. Resolve of that, that you may hold communion with him in it, and be no more troubled about it. Yea, as your great trouble is about the Father’s love, so you can no way more trouble or burden him, than by your unkindness in not believing of it.” So it must needs be where sincere love is questioned.

4. The apostle teaches the same, Rom. v. 5, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.” God, whose love this is, is plainly distinguished from the Holy Ghost, who sheds abroad that love of his; and, verse 8, he is also distinguished from the Son, for it is from that love of his that the Son is sent: and therefore it is the Father of whom the apostle here specially speaketh. And what is it that he ascribes to him? Even love; which also, verse 8, he commendeth to us, — sets it forth in such a signal and eminent expression, that we may take notice of it, and close with him in it. To carry this business to its height, there is not only most frequent peculiar mention of the love of God, where the Father is eminently intended, and of the love of the Father expressly, but he is also called “The God of love,” 2 Cor. xiii. 11, and is said to be “love:” so that whoever will know him, 1 John iv. 8, or dwell in him by fellowship or communion, verse 16, must do it as he is love.”

5. Nay, whereas there is a twofold divine love, beneplaciti and amicitiæ, a love of good pleasure and destination, and a love of friendship and approbation, they are both peculiarly assigned to the Father in an eminent manner:—

(1.) John iii. 16, “God so loved the world, that he gave,” etc.; that is, with the love of his purpose and good pleasure, his determinate will of doing good. This is distinctly ascribed to him, being laid down as the cause of sending his Son. So Rom. ix. 11, 12; Eph. i. 4, 5; 2 Thess. ii. 13, 14; 1 John iv. 8, 9.

(2.) John xiv. 23, there is35 mention of that other kind of love whereof we speak. “If a man love me,” saith Christ, “he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” The love of friendship and approbation is here eminently ascribed to him. Says Christ, “We will come,” even Father and Son, “to such a one, and dwell with him;” that is, by the Spirit: but yet he would have us take notice, that, in point of love, the Father hath a peculiar prerogative: “My Father will love him.”

6. Yea, and as this love is peculiarly to be eyed in him, so it is to be looked on as the fountain of all following gracious dispensations. Christians walk oftentimes with exceedingly troubled hearts, concerning the thoughts of the Father towards them. They are well persuaded of the Lord Christ and his good-will; the difficulty lies in what is their acceptance with the Father, — what is his heart towards them?36 “Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us,” John xiv. 8. Now, this ought to be so far away, that his love ought to be looked on as the fountain from whence all other sweetnesses flow. Thus the apostle sets it out, Tit. iii. 4, “After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared.” It is of the Father of whom he speaks; for, verse 6, he tells us that “he makes out unto us,” or “sheds that love upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour.” And this love he makes the hinge upon which the great alteration and translation of the saints doth turn; for, saith he, verse 3, “We ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.” All naught, all out of order, and vile. Whence, then, is our recovery? The whole rise of it is from this love of God, flowing out by the ways there described. For when the kindness and love of God appeared, — that is, in the fruits of it, — then did this alteration ensue. To secure us hereof, there is not any thing that hath a loving and tender nature in the world, and doth act suitably whereunto, which God hath not compared himself unto. Separate all weakness and imperfection which is in them, yet great impressions of love must abide. He is as a father, a mother, a shepherd, a hen over chickens, and the like, Ps. ciii. 13; Isa. lxiii. 16; Matt. vi. 6; Isa. lxvi. 13; Ps. xxiii. 1; Isa. xl. 11; Matt. xxiii. 37.

I shall not need to add any more proofs. This is that which is demonstrated:— There is love in the person of the Father peculiarly held out unto the saints, as wherein he will and doth hold communion with them.

Now, to complete communion with the Father in love, two things are required of believers:— (1.) That they receive it of him. (2.) That they make suitable returns unto him.

(1.) That they do receive it. Communion consists in giving and receiving. Until the love of the Father be received, we have no communion with him therein. How, then, is this love of the Father to be received, so as to hold fellowship with him? I answer, By faith. The receiving of it is the believing of it. God hath so fully, so eminently revealed his love, that it may be received by faith. “Ye believe in God,” John xiv. 1; that is, the Father. And what is to be believe in him? His love; for he is “love,” 1 John iv. 8.

It is true, there is not an immediate acting of faith upon the Father, but by the Son. “He is the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by him,” John xiv. 6. He is the merciful high priest over the house of God, by whom we have37 access to the throne of grace: by him is our manuduction unto the Father; by him we believe in God, 1 Pet. i. 21. But this is that I say, — When by and through Christ we have an access unto the Father, we then behold his glory also, and see his love that he peculiarly bears unto us, and act faith thereon. We are then, I say, to eye it, to believe it, to receive it, as in him; the issues and fruits thereof being made out unto us through Christ alone. Though there be no light for us but in the beams, yet we may by beams see the sun, which is the fountain of it. Though all our refreshment actually lie in the streams, yet by them we are led up unto the fountain. Jesus Christ, in respect of the love of the Father, is but the beam, the stream; wherein though actually all our light, our refreshment lies, yet by him we are led to the fountain, the sun of eternal love itself. Would believers exercise themselves herein, they would find it a matter of no small spiritual improvement in their walking with God.

This is that which is aimed at. Many dark and disturbing thoughts are apt to arise in this thing. Few can carry up their hearts and minds to this height by faith, as to rest their souls in the love of the Father; they live below it, in the troublesome region of hopes and fears, storms and clouds. All here is serene and quiet. But how to attain to this pitch they know not. This is the will of God, that he may always be eyed as benign, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable therein; and that peculiarly as the Father, as the great fountain and spring of all gracious communications and fruits of love. This is that which Christ came to reveal, — God as a Father, John i. 18; that name which he declares to those who are given him out of the world, John xvii. 6. And this is that which he effectually leads us to by himself, as he is the only way of going to God as a Father, John xiv. 5, 6; that is, as love: and by doing so, gives us the rest which he promiseth; for the love of the Father is the only rest of the soul. It is true, as was said, we do not this formally in the first instant of believing. We believe in God through Christ, 1 Pet. i. 21; faith seeks out rest for the soul. This is presented to it by Christ, the mediator, as the only procuring cause. Here it abides not, but by Christ it hath an access to the Father, Eph. ii. 18, — into his love; finds out that he is love, as having a design, a purpose of love, a good pleasure towards us from eternity, — a delight, a complacency, a good-will in Christ, — all cause of anger and aversation being taken away. The soul being thus, by faith through Christ, and by him, brought into the bosom of God, into a comfortable persuasion and spiritual perception and sense of his love, there reposes and rests itself. And this is the first thing the saints do, in their communion with the Father; of the due improvement whereof, more afterward.

(2.) For that suitable return which is required, this also (in a main part of it, beyond which I shall not now extend it) consisteth in love.38 God loves, that he may be beloved.39 When he comes to command the return of his received love, to complete communion with him, he says, “My son, give me thine heart,” Prov. xxiii. 26, — thy affections, thy love. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind,” Luke x. 27; this is the return that he demandeth. When the soul sees God, in his dispensation of love, to be love, to be infinitely lovely and loving, rests upon and delights in him as such, then hath it communion with him in love. This is love, that God loves us first, and then we love him again. I shall not now go forth into a description of divine love. Generally, love40 is an affection of union and nearness, with complacency therein. So long as the Father is looked on under any other apprehension, but only as acting love upon the soul, it breeds in the soul a dread and aversation.41 Hence the flying and hiding of sinners, in the Scriptures. But when he who is the Father is considered as a father, acting love on the soul, this42 raises it to love again. This is, in faith, the ground of all acceptable obedience, Deut. v. 10; Exod. xx. 6; Deut. x. 12, xi. 1, 13, xiii. 3.

Thus is this whole business stated by the apostle, Eph. i. 4, “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.” It begins in the love of God, and ends in our love to him. That is it which the eternal love of God aims at in us, and works us up unto. It is true, our universal obedience falls within the compass of our communion with God; but that is with him as God, our blessed sovereign, lawgiver, and rewarder: as he is the Father, our Father in Christ, as revealed unto us to be love, above and contrary to all the expectations of the natural man; so it is in love that we have this intercourse with him. Nor do I intend only that love which is as the life and form of all moral obedience; but a peculiar delight and acquiescing in the Father, revealed effectually as love unto the soul.

That this communion with the Father in love may be made the more clear and evident, I shall show two things:— [1.] Wherein this love of God unto us and our love to him do agree, as to some manner of analogy and likeness. [2.] Wherein they differ;43 which will farther discover the nature of each of them.

[1.] They agree in two things:—

1st. That they are each a love of rest and complacency.

(1st.) The love of God is so. Zeph. iii. 17, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy, he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with singing.” Both these things are here assigned unto God in his love, — 44rest and delight. The words are, יַחֲרִישׁ בְּאַהֲבָתוֹ, — “He shall be silent because of his love.” To rest with contentment is expressed by being silent; that is, without repining, without complaint. This God doth upon the account of his own love, so full, so every way complete and absolute, that it will not allow him to complain of any thing in them whom he loves, but he is silent on the account thereof. Or, “Rest in his love;” that is, he will not remove it, — he will not seek farther for another object. It shall make its abode upon the soul where it is once fixed, for ever. And complacency or delight: “He rejoiceth with singing;” as one that is fully satisfied in that object he hath fixed his love on. Here are two words used to express the delight and joy that God hath in his love, — יָשִׂישׂ and יָגִיל. The first denotes the inward affection of the mind, joy of heart; and to set out the intenseness hereof, it is said he shall do it בְּשִׂמְחָה, — in gladness, or with joy. To have joy of heart in gladness, is the highest expression of delight in love. The latter word denotes not the inward affection, but the outward45 demonstration of it: ἀγαλλιᾷν seems to be formed of it. It is to exult in outward demonstration of internal delight and joy; — “Tripudiare,” to leap, as men overcome with some joyful surprisal. And therefore God is said to do this בְּרִנָּה, — with a joyful sound, or singing. To rejoice with gladness of heart, to exult with singing and praise, argues the greatest delight and complacency possible. When he would express the contrary of this love, he says οὐκ εὐδόκησε, — “he was not well pleased,” 1 Cor. x. 5; he fixed not his delight nor rest on them. And, “If any man draw back, the Lord’s soul hath no pleasure in him,” Heb. x. 38; Jer. xxii. 28; Hos. viii. 8; Mal. i. 10. He takes pleasure in those that abide with him. He sings to his church, “A vineyard of red wine: I the Lord do keep it,” Isa. xxvii. 2, 3; Ps. cxlvii. 11, cxlix. 4. There is rest and complacency in his love. There is in the Hebrew but a metathesis of a letter between the word that signifies a love of will and desire (אָהַב is so to love), and that which denotes a love of rest and acquiescence (which is, אָבָה); and both are applied to God. He wills good to us, that he may rest in that will. Some say, ἀγαπᾷν, “to love,” is from ἄγαν πόθεσθαι, perfectly to acquiesce in the thing loved. And when God calls his Son ἀγαπητόν, “beloved,” Matt. iii. 17, he adds, as an exposition of it, ἐν ᾧ εὐδόκησα, “in whom I rest well pleased.”

(2dly.) The return that the saints make unto him, to complete communion with him herein, holds some analogy with his love in this; for it is a love also of46 rest and delight. “Return unto thy rest, my soul,” says David, Ps. cxvi. 7. He makes God his rest; that is, he in whom his soul doth rest, without seeking farther for a more suitable and desirable object. “Whom have I,” saith he, “in heaven but thee and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee,” Ps. lxxiii. 25.47 Thus the soul gathers itself from all its wanderings, from all other beloveds, to rest in God alone, — to satiate and content itself in him; choosing the Father for his present and eternal rest. And this also with delight. “Thy loving-kindness,” saith the psalmist, “is better than life; therefore will I praise thee,” Ps. lxiii. 3. “Than life,” מֵחַיִּים, — before lives. I will not deny but life in a single consideration sometimes is so expressed, but always emphatically; so that the whole life, with all the concernments of it, which may render it considerable, are thereby intended. Austin, on this place, reading it48 “super vitas,” extends it to the several courses of life that men engage themselves in. Life, in the whole continuance of it, with all its advantages whatever, is at least intended. Supposing himself in the jaws of death, rolling into the grave through innumerable troubles, yet he found more sweetness in God than in a long life, under its best and most noble considerations, attended with all enjoyments that make it pleasant and comfortable. From both these is that of the church, in Hos. xiv. 3, “Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.” They reject the most goodly appearances of rest and contentment, to make up all in God, on whom they cast themselves, as otherwise helpless orphans.

2dly. The mutual love of God and the saints agrees in this, — that the way of communicating the issues and fruits of these loves is only in Christ. The Father communicates no issue of his love unto us but through Christ; and we make no return of love unto him but through Christ. He is the treasury wherein the Father disposeth all the riches of his grace, taken from the bottomless mine of his eternal love; and he is the priest into whose hand we put all the offerings that we return unto the Father. Thence he is first, and by way of eminency, said to love the Son; not only as his eternal Son, — as he was the delight of his soul before the foundation of the world, Prov. viii. 30, — but also as our mediator, and the means of conveying his love to us, Matt. iii. 17; John iii. 35, v. 20, x. 17, xv. 9, xvii. 24. And we are said through him to believe in and to have access to God.

(1st.) The Father loves us, and “chose us before the foundation of the world;” but in the pursuit of that love, he “blesseth us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ,” Eph. i. 3, 4. From his love, he sheds or pours out the Holy Spirit richly upon us, through Jesus Christ our Saviour, Tit. iii. 6. In the pouring out of his love, there is not one drop falls besides the Lord Christ. The holy anointing oil was all poured on the head of Aaron, Ps. cxxxiii. 2; and thence went down to the skirts of his clothing. Love is first poured out on Christ; and from him it drops as the dew of Hermon upon the souls of his saints. The Father will have him to have “in all things the pre-eminence,” Col. i. 18; “it pleased him that in him all fulness should dwell,” verse 19; that “of his fulness we might receive, and grace for grace,” John i. 16. Though the love of the Father’s purpose and good pleasure have its rise and foundation in his mere grace and will, yet the design of its accomplishment is only in Christ. All the fruits of it are first given to him; and it is in him only that they are dispensed to us. So that though the saints may, nay, do, see an infinite ocean of love unto them in the bosom of the Father, yet they are not to look for one drop from him but what comes through Christ. He is the only means of communication. Love in the Father is like honey in the flower; — it must be in the comb before it be for our use. Christ must extract and prepare this honey for us. He draws this water from the fountain through union and dispensation of fulness; — we by faith, from the wells of salvation that are in him. This was in part before discovered.

(2dly.) Our returns are all in him, and by him also. And well is it with us that it is so. What lame and blind sacrifices should we otherwise present unto God! He 49bears the iniquity of our offerings, and he adds incense unto our prayers. Our love is fixed on the Father; but it is conveyed to him through the Son of his love. He is the only way for our graces as well as our persons to go unto God; through him passeth all our desire, our delight, our complacency, our obedience. Of which more afterward.

Now, in these two things there is some resemblance between that mutual love of the Father and the saints wherein they hold communion.

[2.] There are sundry things wherein they differ:—

1st. The love of God is a love of bounty; our love unto him is a love of duty.

(1st.) The love of the Father is a love of bounty, — a descending love; such a love as carries him out to do good things to us, great things for us. His love lies at the bottom of all dispensations towards us; and we scarce anywhere find any mention of it, but it is held out as the cause and fountain of some free gift flowing from it. He 50loves us, and sends his Son to die for us; — he loves us, and blesseth us with all spiritual blessings. Loving is choosing, Rom. ix. 11, 12. He loves us and chastiseth us. [It is] a 51love like that of the heavens to the earth, when, being full of rain, they pour forth showers to make it fruitful; as the sea communicates its waters to the rivers by the way of bounty, out of its own fulness, — they return unto it only what they receive from it. It is the love of a spring, of a fountain, — always communicating; — 52a love from whence proceeds every thing that is lovely in its object. It infuseth into, and creates goodness in, the persons beloved. And this answers the description of love given by the philosopher. “To love,” saith he, “ἔστι βούλεσθαι τινὶ ἃ οἴεται ἀγαθά καὶ κατὰ δύαμιν πρακτικὸν εἶαι τούων.” He that loves works out good to them he loveth, as he is able. God’s power and will are commensurate; — what he willeth he worketh.

(2dly.) Our love unto God is a love of duty, the love of a child. His love descends upon us in bounty and fruitfulness;53 our love ascends unto him in duty and thankfulness. He adds to us by his love; we nothing to him by ours. Our goodness extends not unto him. Though our love be fixed on him54 immediately, yet no fruit of our love reacheth him immediately; though he requires our love, he is not benefited by it, Job xxxv. 5–8, Rom. xi. 35, Job xxii. 2, 3. It is indeed made up of these four things:— 1. Rest; 2. Delight; 3. Reverence; 4. Obedience. By these do we hold communion with the Father in his love. Hence God calls that love which is due to him as a father, “honour,” Mal. i. 6, “If I be a father, where is mine honour?” It is a deserved act of duty.

2dly. They differ in this:— The love of the Father unto us is an antecedent love; our love unto him is a consequent love.

(1st.) The love of the Father unto us is an antecedent love, and that in two respects:—

[1st.] It is antecedent in respect of our love, 1 John iv. 10, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” His love goes before ours. The father loves the child, when the child knows not the father, much less loves him. Yea, we are by nature θεοστυγεῖς, Rom. i. 30, — haters of God. He is in his own nature φιλάνθρωπος, — a lover of men; and surely all mutual love between him and us must begin on his hand.

[2dly.] In respect of all other causes of love whatever. It goes not only before our love, but also any thing in us that is lovely.55Rom. v. 8, “God commendeth his love towards us, in that whilst we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Not only his love, but the eminent fruit thereof, is made out towards us as sinners. Sin holds out all of unloveliness and undesirableness that can be in a creature. The very mention of that removes all causes, all moving occasions of love whatever. Yet, as such, have we the commendation of the Father’s love unto us, by a most signal testimony. Not only when we have done no good, but when we are in our blood, doth he love us; — not because we are better than others, but because himself is infinitely good. His kindness appears when we are foolish and disobedient. Hence he is said to “love the world;” that is, those who have nothing but what is in and of the world, whose whole [portion] lies in evil.

(2dly.) Our love is consequential in both these regards:—

[1st.] In respect of the love of God. Never did creature turn his affections towards God, if the heart of God were not first set upon him.

[2dly.] In respect of sufficient causes of love. God must be revealed unto us as lovely and desirable, as a fit and suitable object unto the soul to set up its rest upon, before we can bear any love unto him. The saints (in this sense) do not love God for nothing, but for that excellency, loveliness, and desirableness that is in him. As the psalmist says, in one particular, Ps. cxvi. 1, “I love the Lord, because!” so may we in general; we love the Lord, because! Or, as David in another case, “What have I now done? is there not a cause?” If any man inquire about our love to God, we may say, “What have we now done? is there not a cause?”

3dly. They differ in this also:— The love of God is like himself, — equal, constant, not capable of augmentation or diminution; our love is like ourselves, — unequal, increasing, waning, growing, declining. His, like the sun, always the same in its light, though a cloud may sometimes interpose; ours, as the moon, hath its enlargements and straitenings.

(1st.) The love of the Father is equal, etc.;56 whom he loves, he loves unto the end, and he loves them always alike. “The Strength of Israel is not a man, that he should repent.” On whom he fixes his love, it is immutable; it doth not grow to eternity, it is not diminished at any time. It is an eternal love, that had no beginning, that shall have no ending; that cannot be heightened by any act of ours, that cannot be lessened by any thing in us. I say, in itself it is thus; otherwise, in a twofold regard, it may admit of change:—

[1st.] In respect of its fruits. It is, as I said, a fruitful love, a love of bounty. In reference unto those fruits, it may sometimes be greater, sometimes less; its communications are various. Who among the saints finds it not [so]? What life, what light, what strength, sometimes! and again, how dead, how dark, how weak! as God is pleased to let out or to restrain the fruits of his love. All the graces of the Spirit in us, all sanctified enjoyments whatever, are fruits of his love. How variously these are dispensed, how differently at sundry seasons to the same persons, experience will abundantly testify.

[2dly.] In respect of its discoveries and manifestations. He “sheds abroad his love in our hearts by the Holy Ghost,” Rom. v. 5, — gives us a sense of it, manifests it unto us. Now, this is57 various and changeable, sometimes more, sometimes less; now he shines, anon hides his face, as it may be for our profit. Our Father will not always chide, lest we be cast down; he doth not always smile, lest we be full and neglect him: but yet, still his love in itself is the same. When for a little moment he hides his face, yet he gathers us with everlasting kindness.

Objection. But you will say, “This comes nigh to that blasphemy, that God loves his people in their sinning as well as in their strictest obedience; and, if so, who will care to serve him more, or to walk with him unto well-pleasing?”

Answer. There are few truths of Christ which, from some or other, have not received like entertainment with this. Terms and appellations are at the will of every imposer; things are not at all varied by them. The love of God in itself is the eternal purpose and act of his will. This is no more changeable than God himself: if it were, no flesh could be saved; but it58 changeth not, and we are not consumed. What then? loves he his people in their sinning? Yes; his people, — not their sinning. Alters59 he not his love towards them? Not the purpose of his will, but the dispensations of his grace. He rebukes them, he chastens them, he hides his face from them, he smites them, he fills them with a sense of [his] indignation; but woe, woe would it be to us, should he change in his love, or take away his kindness from us! Those very things which seem to be demonstrations of the change of his affections towards his, do as clearly proceed from love as those which seem to be the most genuine issues thereof. “But will not this encourage to sin?” He never tasted of the love of God that can seriously make this objection. The doctrine of grace may be turned into wantonness; the principle cannot. I shall not wrong the saints by giving another answer to this objection: Detestation of sin in any may well consist with the acceptation of their persons, and their designation to life eternal.

But now our love to God is ebbing and flowing, waning and increasing. We lose our first love, and we grow again in love;60 — scarce a day at a stand. What poor creatures are we! How unlike the Lord and his love! “Unstable as water, we cannot excel.” Now it is, “Though all men forsake thee, I will not;” anon, “I know not the man.” One day, “I shall never be moved, my hill is so strong;” the next, “All men are liars, I shall perish.” When ever was the time, where ever was the place, that our love was one day equal towards God?

And thus, these agreements and discrepancies do farther describe that mutual love of the Father and the saints, wherein they hold communion. Other instances as to the person of the Father I shall not give, but endeavour to make some improvement of this in the next chapter.

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30 Opera ad extra sunt indivisa.
31 Πατὴρ σὺν υἱῷ καὶ πανάγνῳ πνεύματι Τριὰς προσώποις εὐκρινὴς, μονὰς φύσει. Μήτ’ οὖν ἀριθμῷ συγχέῃς ὑποστάσεις, Μήτ’ ἂν θεὸν σὺ προσκυνῶν τιμᾷς φύσιν· Μία τριὰς γὰρ, εἷς Θεὸς παντοκράτωρ. Greg. Naz. Iamb. Car. iii.
32 Προσκυνῶμεν τὴν μίαν τοῖς πρισὶ θεότητα. — Idem. Orat., 24. See Thom. 22, q. 84, a. 3, q. 84, a. 1; Alexan. Ales. Sum. Theol., p. 3, q. 30, m. 1, a. 3.
33 Deut. xxxiii. 3; Jer. xxxi. 3; John iii. 16, v. 42, xiv. 21; Rom. v. 5, viii. 39; Eph. ii. 4; 1 John ii. 15, iv. 10, 11; Heb. xii. 6. “Multo ἐμφατικώτερον loquitur quam si Deum diceret summopere, atque adeo infinite nos amare, cum Deum dicit erga nos ipsam charitatem esse, cujus latissimum τεκμήριον profert.” — Beza in loc.
34 “Quomodo igitur negat? negat secundum quid; hoc est, negat se ideo rogaturum patrem, ut patrem illis concilet, et ad illos amandos et exaudiendos flectat; quasi non sit suapte sponte erga illos propensus. Voluit ergo Christus his verbis persuadere apostolis, non solum se, sed etiam ipsum patrem illos complecti amore maximo. Et ita patrem eos amare, ac promptum habere animum illis gratificandi, et benefaciendi, ut nullius, neque ipsius filii opus habeat tali intercessione, qua solent placari, et flecti homines non admodum erga aliquem bene affecti,” etc.— Zanc. de trib. nom. Elo., lib. iv. cap. 9. Vid. Hilar de Trinit., lib. vi. p. 97., ed. Eras.
35 “Diligi a patre, recipi in amicitiam summi Dei; a Deo foveri, adeoque Deo esse in deliciis.” — Bucerus in loc.
36 “Te quod attinet non sumus solliciti, — illud modo desideramus, ut patrem nobis vel semel intueri concedatur.” — Cartwright Har. in John xiv. 8.
37 Eph. ii. 18.
38 Deut. vi. 4, 5.
39 “Amor supernè descendens ad divinam pulchritudinem omnia convocat.” — Proclus lib. de Anima et Dæm.
40 “Unio substantialis est causa amoris sui ipsius; similitudinis, est causa amoris alterius; sed unio realis quam amans quærit de re amata, est effectus amoris.” — Thom. 12, q. 28, 1, 3.
41 Josh. xxii. 5, xxiii. 11; Neh. i. 5.
42 Ps. xviii. 1, xxxi. 23, xcvii. 10, cxvi. 1; 1 Cor. ii. 9; James i. 12; Isa. lvi. 6; Matt. xxii. 37; Rom. viii. 28.
43 Ἀνάλογον δ’ ἐν ἁπάσαις ταῖς καθ’ ὑπεροχὴν οὔσαις φιλίαις, καὶ τὴν φίλησιν δεῖ γίνεσθαι, etc. — Arist. Eth., lib. viii. cap. 7.
44 “Effectus amoris quando habetur amatum, est delectatio.” — Thom. 12, q. 25, a. 2, 1. “Amor est complacentia amantis in amato. Amor est motus cordis, delectantis se in aliquo.” — August.
45 “Externum magis gaudii gestum, quam internam animi lætitiam significat, cum velut tripudiis et volutationibus gaudere se quis ostendit.” — Pagnin. גּוּל; lætitiâ gestiit, animi lætitiam gestu corporis expressit, exilivit gaudio.” — Calas.
46 “Fecisti nos ad te, domine, et irrequietum est cor nostrum donec veniat ad te.” — Aug. Conf.
47 Ps. xxxvii. 7; Isa. xxviii. 12; Heb. iv. 9.
48 “Super vita; quas vitas? Quas sibi homines eligunt; alius elegit sibi vitam negociandi, alius vitam rusticandi; alius vitam fœnerandi, alius vitam militandi, alius illam, alius illam. Diversæ sunt vitæ, sed melior est misericordia tua super vitas nostras.” — Aug. Enarrat. in Ps. lxii.
49 Exod. xxviii. 38; Rev. viii. 3; John xiv. 6; Heb. x. 19–22.
50 John iii. 16; Rom. v. 8; Eph. i. 3, 4; 1 John iv. 9, 10; Heb. xii. 6; Rev. iii. 19.
51 Ἐρᾳν δὲ σεμνὸν οὐρανὸν πληρούμενον ὄμβρου, πεσεῖν εἰς γαῖαν. — Eurip., [as quoted by Aristotle, Eth. viii. 1. The quotation at large is:— Ἐρᾷ δ’ ὁ σεμνὸς οὐρανὸς πληρούμενος Ὄμβρου, πεσεῖν εἰς γαῖαν Ἀφροδίτης ὕπο. Eurip. Frag.]
52 “Amor Dei est infundens et creans bonitatem in amatis.” — Thom. p. p. q. 20, a. 2, c.
53 “Amor Dei causat bonitatem in rebus, sed amor noster causatur ab ea.”
54 “Dilectio quæ est appetitivæ virtutis actus, etiam in statum viæ tendit in Deum primo et immediate.” — Thom. 22, q. 27, a 4.
55 Ezek. xvi. 1–14, etc.; Rom. ix. 11, 12; Tit. iii. 3–6; Deut. vii. 6–8; Matt. xi. 25, 26; John iii. 16.
56 1 Sam. xv. 29; Isa. xlvi. 10; Jer. xxxi. 3; Mal. iii. 6; James i. 17; 2 Tim. ii. 19.
57 Ps. xxxi. 16, lxvii. 1, cxix. 135, xiii. 1, xxvii. 9, xxx. 7, lxxxviii. 14; Isa. viii. 17.
58 Mal. iii. 6.
59 Ps. xxxix. 11; Heb. xii. 7, 8; Rev. iii. 19; Isa. viii. 17, lvii. 17; Job vi. 4; Ps. vi. 6, xxxviii. 3–5, etc.
60 Rev. ii. 4, iii. 2; Eph. iii. 16–19.

Chapter 4.

Inferences on the former doctrine concerning communion with the Father in love.

Having thus discovered the nature of that distinct communion which we have with the Father, it remaineth that we give some exhortations unto it, directions in it, and take some observations from it:—

1. First, then, this is a duty wherein it is most evident that Christians are but little exercised, — namely, in holding immediate communion with the Father in love. Unacquaintedness with our mercies, our privileges, is our sin as well as our trouble. We hearken not to the voice of the Spirit61 which is given unto us, “that we may know the things that are freely bestowed on us of God.” This makes us go heavily, when we might rejoice; and to be weak, where we might be strong in the Lord. How few of the saints are experimentally acquainted with this privilege of holding immediate communion with the Father in love! With what anxious, doubtful thoughts do they look upon him! What fears, what questioning are there, of his good-will and kindness! At the best, many think there is no sweetness at all in him towards us, but what is purchased at the high price of the blood of Jesus. It is true, that alone is the way of communication; but the free fountain and spring of all is in the bosom of the Father.62 “Eternal life was with the Father, and is manifested unto us.” Let us, then, —

(1.) Eye the Father as love; look not on him as an always lowering father, but as one most63 kind and tender. Let us look on him by faith, as one that hath had thoughts of kindness towards us from everlasting. It is misapprehension of God that makes any run from him, who have the least breathing wrought in them after him. “They that know thee will put their trust in thee.” Men cannot abide with God in spiritual meditations. He loseth soul’s company by their want of this insight into his love. They fix their thoughts only on his terrible majesty, severity, and greatness; and so their spirits are not endeared. Would a soul continually eye his everlasting tenderness and compassion, his thoughts of kindness that have been from of old, his present gracious acceptance, it could not bear an hour’s absence from him; whereas now, perhaps, it cannot watch with him one hour. Let, then, this be the saints’ first notion of the Father, — as one full of eternal, free love towards them: let their hearts and thoughts be filled with breaking through all discouragements that lie in the way. To raise them hereunto, let them consider, —

[1.] Whose love it is. It is the love of him who is in himself all sufficient, infinitely satiated with himself and his own glorious excellencies and perfections; who hath no need to go forth with his love unto others, nor to seek an object of it without himself. There might he rest with delight and complacency to eternity. He is sufficient unto his own love. He had his Son, also, his eternal64 Wisdom, to rejoice and delight himself in from all eternity, Prov. viii. 30. This might take up and satiate the whole delight of the Father; but he will love his saints also. And it is such a love, as wherein he seeks not his own satisfaction only, but our good therein also; — the love of a God, the love of a Father, whose proper outgoings are kindness and bounty.

[2.] What kind of love it is. And it is, —

1st. Eternal. It was fixed on us before the65 foundation of the world. Before we were, or had done the least good, then were his thoughts upon us, — then was his delight in us; — then did the Son rejoice in the thoughts of fulfilling his Father’s delight in him, Prov. viii. 30. Yea, the delight of the Father in the Son, there mentioned, is not so much his absolute delight in him as the express image of his person and the brightness of his glory, wherein he might behold all his own excellencies and perfections; as with respect unto his love and his delight in the sons of men. So the order of the words require us to understand it: “I was daily his delight,” and, “My delights were with the sons of men;” — that is, in the thoughts of kindness and redemption for them: and in that respect, also, was he his Father’s delight. It was from eternity that he laid in his own bosom a design for our happiness. The very thought of this is enough to make all that is within us, like the babe in the womb of Elisabeth, to leap for joy. A sense of it cannot but prostrate our souls to the lowest abasement of a humble, holy reverence, and make us rejoice before him with trembling.

2dly. Free. He66 loves us because he will; there was, there is, nothing in us for which we should be beloved. Did we deserve his love, it must go less in its valuation. Things of due debt are seldom the matter of thankfulness; but that which is eternally antecedent to our being, must needs be absolutely free in its respects to our well-being. This gives it life and being, is the reason of it, and sets a price upon it, Rom. ix. 11; Eph. i. 3, 4; Titus iii. 5; James i. 18.

3dly. 67Unchangeable. Though we change every day, yet his love changeth not. Could any kind of provocation turn it away, it had long since ceased. Its unchangeableness is that which carrieth out the Father unto that infiniteness of patience and forbearance (without which we die, we perish), 2 Pet. iii. 9, which he exerciseth towards us. And it is, —

4thly. 68Distinguishing. He hath not thus loved all the world: “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Why should he fix his love on us, and pass by millions from whom we differ not by69 nature, — that he should make us sharers in that, and all the fruits of it, which most of the great and70 wise men of the world are excluded from? I name but the heads of things. Let them enlarge whose hearts are touched.

Let, I say, the soul frequently eye the love of the Father, and that under these considerations, — they are all soul-conquering and endearing.

(2.) So eye it as to receive it. Unless this be added, all is in vain as to any communion with God. We do not hold communion with him in any thing, until it be received by faith. This, then, is that which I would provoke the saints of God unto, even to71 believe this love of God for themselves and their own part, — believe that such is the heart of the Father towards them, — accept of his witness herein. His love is not ours in the sweetness of it until it be so received. Continually, then, act thoughts of faith on God, as love to thee, — as embracing thee with the eternal free love before described. When the Lord is, by his word, presented as such unto thee, let thy mind know it, and assent that it is so; and thy will embrace it, in its being so; and all thy affections be filled with it. Set thy whole heart to it; let it be bound with the cords of this love.72 If the King be bound in the galleries with thy love, shouldst thou not be bound in heaven with his?

(3.) Let it have its proper fruit and efficacy upon thy heart, in return of love to him again. So shall we walk in the light of God’s countenance, and hold holy communion with our Father all the day long. Let us not deal unkindly with him, and return him slighting for his good-will. Let there not be such a heart in us as to deal so unthankfully with our God.

2. Now, to further us in this duty, and the daily constant practice of it, I shall add one or two considerations that may be of importance whereunto; as, —

(1.) It is exceeding acceptable unto God, even our Father, that we should thus hold communion with him in his love, — that he may be received into our souls as one full of love, tenderness, and kindness, towards us. Flesh and blood is apt to have very hard thoughts of him, — to think he is always angry, yea, implacable; that it is not for poor creatures to draw nigh to him; that nothing in the world is more desirable than never to come into his presence, or, as they say where he hath any thing to do. “Who73 among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” say the sinners in Zion. 74And, “I knew thou wast an austere man,” saith the evil servant in the gospels. Now, there is not any thing more grievous to the Lord, nor more subservient to the design of Satan upon the soul, than such thoughts as these. Satan claps his hands (if I may so say) when he can take up the soul with such thoughts of God: he hath enough, — all that he doth desire. This hath been his design and way from the beginning. The75 first blood that murderer shed was by this means. He leads our first parents into hard thoughts of God: “Hath God said so? hath he threatened you with death? He knows well enough it will be better with you;” — with this engine did he batter and overthrow all mankind76 in one; and being mindful of his ancient conquest, he readily useth the same weapons wherewith then he so successfully contended. Now, it is exceeding grievous to the Spirit of God to be so slandered in the hearts of those whom he dearly loves. How doth he expostulate this with Zion! “What iniquity77 have ye seen in me?” saith he; “have I been a wilderness unto you, or a land of darkness?”78 “Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman,” etc. The Lord takes nothing worse at the hands of his, than such hard thoughts of him, knowing full well what fruit this bitter root is like to bear, — what alienations of heart, — what drawings back, — what unbelief and tergiversations in our walking with him. How unwilling is a child to come into the presence of an angry father! Consider, then, this in the first place, — receiving of the Father as he holds out love to the soul, gives him the honour he aims at, and is exceeding acceptable unto him. He often sets it out in an eminent manner, that it may be so received:— “He commendeth his love toward us,” Rom. v. 8. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us!” 1 John iii. 1. Whence, then, is this folly? Men are afraid to have good thoughts of God. They think it a boldness to eye God as good, gracious, tender, kind, loving: I speak of saints; but for the other side, they can judge him hard, austere, severe, almost implacable, and fierce (the very worst affections of the very worst of men, and most hated of him, Rom. i. 31; 2 Tim. iii. 3), and think herein they do well. Is not this soul-deceit from Satan? Was it not his design from the beginning to inject such thoughts of God? Assure thyself, then, there is nothing more acceptable unto the Father, than for us to keep up our hearts unto him as the eternal fountain of all that rich grace which flows out to sinners in the blood of Jesus. And, —

(2.) This will be exceeding effectual to endear thy soul unto God, to cause thee to delight in him, and to make thy abode with him. Many saints have no greater burden in their lives, than that their hearts do not come clearly and fully up, constantly to delight and rejoice in God, — that there is still an indisposedness of spirit unto close walking with him. What is at the bottom of this distemper? Is it not their unskilfulness in or neglect of this duty, even of holding communion with the Father in love? So much as we see of the love of God, so much shall we delight in him, and no more. Every other discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from Him; but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the Father’s love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared unto him. This, if any thing, will work upon us to make our abode with him. If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will? Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in him. I dare boldly say, believers will find it as thriving a course as ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain, and you will quickly have a farther discovery of the sweetness of the streams. You who have run from him, will not be able, after a while, to keep at a distance for a moment.

Objection 1. But some may say, “Alas! how shall I hold communion with the Father in love? I know not at all whether he loves me or no; and shall I venture to cast myself upon it? How if I should not be accepted? should I not rather perish for my presumption, than find sweetness in his bosom? God seems to me only as a consuming fire and everlasting burnings; so that I dread to look up unto him.”

Answer. I know not what may be understood by knowing of the love of God; though it be carried on by spiritual sense and experience, yet it is received purely by believing. Our knowing of it, is our believing of it as revealed. “We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love,” 1 John iv. 16. This is the assurance which, at the very entrance of walking with God, thou mayest have of this love. He who is truth hath said it; and whatever thy heart says, or Satan says, unless thou wilt take it up on this account, thou doest thy endeavour to make him a liar who hath spoken it, 1 John v. 10.

Obj. 2. “I can believe that God is love to others, for he hath said he is love; but that he will be so to me, I see no ground of persuasion; there is no cause, no reason in the world, why he should turn one thought of love or kindness towards me: and therefore I dare not cast myself upon it, to hold communion with him in his special love.”

Ans. He hath spoken it as particularly to thee as to any one in the world. And for cause of love, he hath as much to fix it on thee as on any of the children of men; that is, none at all without himself. So that I shall make speedy work with this objection. Never any one from the foundation of the world, who believed such love in the Father, and made returns of love to him again, was deceived; neither shall ever any to the world’s end be so, in so doing. Thou art, then, in this, upon a most sure bottom. If thou believest and receivest the Father as love, he will infallibly be so to thee, though others may fall under his severity. But, —

Obj. 3. “I cannot find my heart making returns of love unto God. Could I find my soul set upon him, I could then believe his soul delighted in me.”

Ans. This is the most preposterous course that possibly thy thoughts can pitch upon, a most ready way to rob God of his glory. “Herein is love,” saith the Holy Ghost, “not that we loved God, but that he loved us” first, 1 John iv. 10, 11. Now, thou wouldst invert this order, and say, “Herein is love, not that God loved me, but that I love him first.” This is to take the glory of God from him: that, whereas he loves us without a cause that is in ourselves, and we have all cause in the world to love him, thou wouldst have the contrary, namely, that something should be in thee for which God should love thee, even thy love to him; and that thou shouldst love God, before thou knowest any thing lovely in him, — namely, whether he love thee or no. This is a course of flesh’s finding out, that will never bring glory to God, nor peace to thy own soul. Lay down, then, thy reasonings; take up the love of the Father upon a pure act of believing, and that will open thy soul to let it out unto the Lord in the communion of love.

To make yet some farther improvement of this truth so opened and exhorted unto as before; — it will discover unto us the eminency and privilege of the saints of God. What low thoughts soever the sons of men may have of them, it will appear that they have meat to eat that the world knows not of. They have close communion and fellowship with the Father. They deal with him in the interchange of love. Men are generally esteemed according to the company they keep. It is an honour to stand in the presence of princes, though but as servants. What honour, then, have all the saints, to stand with boldness in the presence of the Father, and there to enjoy his bosom love! What a blessing did the queen of Sheba pronounce on the servants of Solomon, who stood before him, and heard his wisdom! How much more blessed, then, are they who stand continually before the God of Solomon, hearing his wisdom, enjoying his love! Whilst others have their fellowship with Satan and their own lusts, making provision for them, and receiving perishing refreshments from them, (“whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things,”) they have this sweet communion with the Father.

Moreover, what a safe and sweet retreat is here for the saints, in all the scorns, reproaches, scandals, misrepresentations, which they undergo in the world. When79 a child is abused abroad in the streets by strangers, he runs with speed to the bosom of his father; there he makes his complaint, and is comforted. In all the hard80 censures and tongue-persecutions which the saints meet withal in the streets of the world, they may run with their moanings unto their Father, and be comforted. “As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you,” saith the Lord, Isa. lxvi. 13. So that the soul may say, “If I have hatred in the world, I will go where I am sure of love. Though all others are hard to me, yet my Father is tender and full of compassion: I will go to him, and satisfy myself in him. Here I am accounted vile, frowned on, and rejected; but I have honour and love with him, whose kindness is better than life itself. There I shall have all things in the fountain, which others have but in the drops. There is in my Father’s love every thing desirable: there is the sweetness of all mercies in the abstract itself, and that fully and durably.”

Evidently, then, the saints are the most mistaken men in the world. If they say,81 “Come and have fellowship with us;” are not men ready to say, “Why, what are you? a sorry company of82 seditious, factious persons. Be it known unto you, that we despise your fellowship. When we intend to leave fellowship with all honest men, and men of worth, then will we come to you.” But, alas! how are men mistaken! Truly their fellowship is with the Father: let men think of it as they please, they have close, spiritual, heavenly refreshing, in the mutual communication of love with the Father himself. How they are generally misconceived, the apostle declares, 2 Cor. vi. 8–10, “As deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” And as it is thus in general, so in no one thing more than this, that they are looked on as poor, low, despicable persons, when indeed they are the only great and noble personages in the world. Consider the company they keep: it is with the Father; — who so glorious? The merchandise they trade in, it is love; — what so precious? Doubtless they are the excellent on the earth, Ps. xvi. 3.

Farther; this will discover a main difference between the saints and empty professors:— As to the performance of duties, and so the enjoyment of outward privileges, fruitless professors often walk hand in hand with them; but now come to their secret retirements, and what a difference is there! There the saints hold communion with God: hypocrites, for the most part, with the world and their own lusts; — with them they converse and communicate; they hearken what they will say to them, and make provision for them, when the saints are sweetly wrapt up in the bosom of their Father’s love. It is oftentimes even almost impossible that believers should, in outward appearance, go beyond them who have very rotten hearts: but this meat they have, which others know not of; this refreshment in the banqueting house, wherein others have no share; — in the multitude of their thoughts, the comforts of God their Father refresh their souls.

Now, then (to draw towards a close of this discourse), if these things be so, “what manner of men ought we to be, in all manner of holy conversation?” Even “our God is a consuming fire.” What communion is there between light and darkness? Shall sin and lust dwell in those thoughts which receive in and carry out love from and unto the Father? Holiness becometh his presence for ever. An unclean spirit cannot draw nigh unto him; — an unholy heart can make no abode with him. A lewd person will not desire to hold fellowship with a sober man; and will a man of vain and foolish imaginations hold communion and dwell with the most holy God? There is not any consideration of this love but is a powerful motive unto holiness, and leads thereunto. Ephraim says, “What have I to do any more with idols?” when in God he finds salvation. Communion with the Father is wholly inconsistent with loose walking. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth,” 1 John i. 6. “He that saith, I know him” (I have communion with him), “and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him,” chap. ii. 4. The most specious and glorious pretence made to an acquaintance with the Father, without holiness and obedience to his commandments, serves only to prove the pretenders to be liars. The love of the world and of the Father dwell not together.

And if this be so (to shut up all), how many that go under the name of Christians, come short of the truth of it! How unacquainted are the generality of professors with the mystery of this communion, and the fruits of it! Do not many very evidently hold communion with their lusts and with the world, and yet would be thought to have a portion and inheritance among them that are sanctified? They have neither new name nor white stone, and yet would be called the people of the Most High. May it not be said of many of them, rather, that God is not in all their thoughts, than that they have communion with him? The Lord open the eyes of men, that they may see and know that walking with God is a matter not of form, but power! And so far of peculiar communion with the Father, in the instance of love which we have insisted on. “He is also faithful who hath called us to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;” — of which in the next place.

————————————————————————————–
61 1 Cor. ii. 12.
62 Ζωὴ ἥτις ἦν πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα, καὶ ἐφανερώθη ἡμῖν. — 1 John i. 2.
63 Ps. ciii. 9; Mic. vii. 18.
64 שַׁעֲשׁוּעִים יוֹם יוֹם. “Optime in Dei Filium quadrat patris delicias.” — Mer. in loc.
65 Rom. ix. 11, 12; Acts xv. 18; 2 Tim. i. 9, ii. 19; Prov. viii. 31; Jer. xxxi. 3.
66 Matt. xi. 25, 26. “Hoc tanto et ram ineffabili bono, nemo inventus est dignus; sordet natura sine gratia.” — Pros. de lib. Arb. ad Ruff.
67 Mal. iii. 6; James i. 17; Hos. xi. 9.
68 Rom. ix. 12. “Omnia diligit Deus, quæ fecit; et inter ea magnis diligit creaturas rationales, et de illis eas amplius quæ sunt membra unigeniti sui. Et multo magis ipsum unigenitum.” — August.
69 Eph. ii. 3.
70 Matt. xi. 25, 26; 1 Cor. i. 20.
71 1 John iv. 16.
72 Cant. vii. 5.
73 Isa. xxxiii. 14.
74 Luke xix. 21.
75 Gen. iii. 5.
76 Ἐφ’ ᾦ παντες ἥμαρτον, Rom. v. 12.
77 Jer. ii. 5, 21.
78 Isa. xl. 27–29, xlix. 15, 16.
79 Isa. xxvi. 20.
80 Ἐμπαιγμῶν πεῖραν ἔλαβον, Heb. xi. 36. Ὀνειδισμοῖς θεατριζόμενοι, Heb. x. 33.
81 1 John i. 3.
82 Acts xvii. 6, xxviii. 22.

 

Part II.

Of Communion with the Son Jesus Christ

Chapter 1.

Of the fellowship which the saints have with Jesus Christ the Son of God — That they have such a fellowship proved, 1 Cor. i. 9; Rev. iii. 20; Cant. ii. 1–7 opened; also Prov. ix. 1–5.

Of that distinct communion which we have with the person of the Father we have treated in the foregoing chapters; we now proceed to the consideration of that which we have with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Now the fellowship we have with the second person, is with him as Mediator, — in that office whereunto, by dispensation, he submitted himself for our sakes; being “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,” Gal. iv. 4, 5. And herein I shall do these two things:— I. Declare that we have such fellowship with the Son of God. II. Show wherein that fellowship or communion doth consist:—

I. For the first, I shall only produce some few places of Scripture to confirm it, that it is so:— 1 Cor. i. 9, “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” This is that whereunto all the saints are called, and wherein, by the faithfulness of God, they shall be preserved, even fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord. We are called of God the Father, as the Father, in pursuit of his love, to communion with the Son, as our Lord.

Rev. iii. 20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”83 Certainly this is fellowship, or I know not what is. Christ will sup with believers: he refreshes himself with his own graces in them, by his Spirit bestowed on them. The Lord Christ is exceedingly delighted in tasting of the sweet fruits of the Spirit in the saints. Hence is that prayer of the spouse that she may have something for his entertainment when he comes to her, Cant. iv. 16, “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my Beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.” The souls of the saints are the garden of Jesus Christ, the good ground, Heb. vi. 7; — a garden for delight; he rejoices in them; “his delights are with the sons of men,” Prov. viii. 31; and he “rejoices over them,” Zeph. iii. 17; — and a garden for fruit, yea, pleasant fruit; so he describes it, Cant. iv. 12–14, “A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all chief spices.” Whatever is sweet and delicious for taste, whatever savoury and odoriferous, whatever is useful and medicinal, is in this garden. There is all manner of spiritual refreshments, of all kinds whatever, in the souls of the saints, for the Lord Jesus. On this account is the spouse so earnest in the prayer mentioned for an increase of these things, that her Beloved may sup with her, as he hath promised. “Awake, O north wind,” etc.; — “O that the breathings and workings of the Spirit of all grace might stir up all his gifts and graces in me, that the Lord Jesus, the beloved of my soul, may have meet and acceptable entertainment from me.” God complains of want of fruit in his vineyard, Isa. v. 2; Hos. x. 1. Want of good food for Christ’s entertainment is that the spouse feared, and labours to prevent. A barren heart is not fit to receive him. And the delight he takes in the fruit of the Spirit is unspeakable. This he expresses at large, Cant. v. 1, “I am come,” saith he; “I have eaten, I am refreshed.” He calls it פְּרִי מְגָדִים, “The fruit of his sweetnesses;” or most pleasant to him. Moreover, as Christ sups with his saints, so he hath promised they shall sup with him, to complete that fellowship they have with him. Christ provides for their entertainment in a most eminent manner. There are beasts killed, and wine is mingled, and a table furnished, Prov. ix. 2. He calls the spiritual dainties that he hath for them a “feast,” a “wedding,” 84“a feast of fat things, wine on the lees,” etc. The fatted calf is killed for their entertainment. Such is the communion, and such is the mutual entertainment of Christ and his saints in that communion.

Cant. ii. 1–7, “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste,” etc.

In the two first verses you have the description that Christ gives, first of himself, then of his church. Of himself, verse 1; that is, what he is to his spouse: “I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys.” The Lord85 Christ is, in the Scripture, compared to all things of eminency in the whole creation. He is in the heavens the sun, and the bright morning star: as the lion among the beasts, the lion of the tribe of Judah. Among the flowers of the field, here he is the rose and the lily. The two eminencies of flowers, sweetness of savour and beauty of colour, are divided between these. The rose for sweetness, and the lily for beauty (“Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these”), have the pre-eminence. Farther, he is “the rose of Sharon,” a fruitful plain, where the choicest herds were fed, 1 Chron. xxvii. 29; so eminent, that it is promised to the church that there shall be given unto her the 86excellency of Sharon, Isa. xxxv. 2. This fruitful place, doubtless, brought forth the most precious roses. Christ, in the savour of his love, and in his righteousness (which is as the garment wherein Jacob received his blessing, giving forth a smell as the smell of a pleasant field, Gen. xxvii. 27), is as this excellent rose, to draw and allure the hearts of his saints unto him. As God smelled a sweet savour from the blood of his atonement, Eph. v. 2; so from the graces wherewith for them he is anointed, his saints receive a refreshing, cherishing savour, Cant. i. 3. A sweet savour expresses that which is acceptable and delightful, Gen. viii. 21. He is also “the lily of the valleys;” that of all flowers is the most eminent in beauty, Matt. vi. 29. Most desirable is he, for the comeliness and perfection of his person; incomparably fairer than the children of men: of which afterward. He, then, being thus unto them (abundantly satiating all their spiritual senses) their refreshment, their ornament, their delight, their glory; in the next verse he tells us what they are to him: “As the lily among thorns, so is my beloved among the daughters.” That Christ and his church are likened unto and termed the same thing (as here the lily), is, as from their union by the indwelling of the same Spirit, so from that 87conformity and likeness that is between them, and whereunto the saints are appointed. Now she is a lily, very beautiful unto Christ; “as the lily among thorns:” — 1. By the way of eminency; as the lily excelleth the thorns, so do the saints all others whatever, in the eye of Christ. Let comparison be made, so will it be found to be. And, — 2. By the way of trial; the residue of the world being “pricking briers and grieving thorns to the house of Israel,” Ezek. xxviii. 24. “The best of them is as a brier, the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge,” Mic. vii. 4. And thus are they among the daughters, — even the most eminent collections of the most improved professors, that are no more but so. There cannot be in any greater comparison, a greater exaltation of the excellency of any thing. So, then, is Christ to them indeed, verse 1; so are they in his esteem, and indeed, verse 2. How he is in their esteem and indeed, we have, verse 3.

“As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” To carry on this intercourse, the spouse begins to speak her thoughts of, and to show her delight in, the Lord Christ; and as he compares her to the lily among the thorns, so she him to the apple-tree among the trees of the wood. And she adds this reason of it, even because he hath the two eminent things of trees, which the residue of them have not:— 1. Fruit for food; 2. Shade for refreshment. Of the one she eateth, under the other she resteth; both with great delight. All other sons, either angels, the sons of God by creation, Job i. 6, xxxviii. 7, or the sons of Adam, — the best of his offspring, the leaders of those companies which, verse 2, are called daughters, or sons of the old creation, the top branches of all its desirable things, — are to an hungry, weary soul (such alone seek for shade and fruit) but as the fruitless, leafless trees of the forest, which will yield them neither food nor refreshment. “In Christ,” saith she, “there is fruit, fruit sweet to the taste; yea, ‘his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed,’ ” John vi. 55. “Moreover, he hath brought forth that everlasting righteousness which will abundantly satisfy any hungry soul, after it hath gone to many a barren tree for food, and hath found none. Besides, he aboundeth in precious and pleasant graces, whereof I may 88eat; yea, he calls me to do so, and that abundantly.” These are the fruits that Christ beareth. They speak of a tree that bringeth forth all things needful for life, in food and raiment. Christ is that tree of life, which hath brought forth all things that are needful unto life eternal. In him is that righteousness which we 89hunger after; — in him is that water of life, which whoso 90drinketh of shall thirst no more. Oh, how sweet are the fruits of Christ’s mediation to the faith of his saints! He that can find no relief in mercy, pardon, grace, acceptation with God, holiness, sanctification, etc., is an utter stranger to these things (91wine on the lees) that are prepared for believers. Also, he hath shades for refreshment and shelter; — shelter from wrath without, and refreshment because of weariness from within. The first use of the 92shade is to keep us from the heat of the sun, as did Jonah’s gourd. When the heat of wrath is ready to scorch the soul, Christ, interposing, bears it all. Under the shadow of his wings we sit down constantly, quietly, safely, putting our trust in him; and all this with great delight. Yea, who can express the joy of a soul safe shadowed from wrath under the covert of the righteousness of the Lord Jesus! There is also refreshment in a shade from weariness. He is “as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land,” Isa. xxxii. 2. From the power of corruptions, trouble of temptations, distress of persecutions, there is in him quiet, rest, and repose, Matt. xi. 27, 28.

Having thus mutually described each other, and so made it manifest that they cannot but be delighted in fellowship and communion, in the next verses that communion of theirs is at large set forth and described. I shall briefly observe four things therein:— (1.) Sweetness. (2.) Delight. (3.) Safety. (4.) Comfort.

(1.) Sweetness: “He brought me to the banqueting-house,” or “house of wine.” It is all set forth under expressions of the greatest sweetness and most delicious refreshment, — flagons, apples, wine, etc. “He entertains me,” saith the spouse, “as some great personage.” Great personages, at great entertainments, are had into the banqueting-house, — the house of wine and dainties. These are the preparations of grace and mercy, — love, kindness, supplies revealed in the gospel, declared in the assemblies of the saints, exhibited by the Spirit. This “love is better than wine,” Cant. i. 2; it is “not meat and drink, but righteousness, and93 peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.” Gospel dainties are sweet refreshments; whether these houses of wine be the Scriptures, the gospel, or the ordinances dispensed in the assemblies of the saints, or any eminent and signal manifestations of special love (as banqueting is not every day’s work, nor used at ordinary entertainments), it is all one. Wine, that cheereth the heart of man, that makes him forget his misery, Prov. xxxi. 6, 7, that gives him a cheerful look and countenance, Gen. xlix. 12, is that which is promised. The grace exhibited by Christ in his ordinances is refreshing, strengthening, comforting, and full of sweetness to the souls of the saints. Woe be to such full souls as loathe these honey-combs! But thus Christ makes all his assemblies to be banqueting-houses; and there he gives his saints entertainment.

(2.) Delight. The spouse is quite ravished with the sweetness of this entertainment, finding love, and care, and kindness, bestowed by Christ in the assemblies of the saints. Hence she cries out, verse 5, “Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples; for I am sick of love.” Upon the discovery of the excellency and sweetness of Christ in the banqueting-house, the soul is instantly overpowered, and cries out to be made partaker of the fulness of it. She is “sick of love:” not (as some suppose) fainting for want of a sense of love, under the apprehension of wrath; but made sick and faint, even overcome, with the mighty actings of that divine affection, after she had once tasted of the sweetness of Christ in the banqueting-house. Her desire deferred, makes her heart sick; therefore she cries, “Stay me,” etc.; — “I have seen a glimpse of the ‘King in his beauty,’ — tasted of the fruit of his righteousness; my soul melteth in longing after him. Oh! support and sustain my spirit with his presence in his ordinances, — those ‘flagons and apples of his banqueting-house,’ — or I shall quite sink and faint! Oh, what hast thou done, blessed Jesus! I have seen thee, and my soul is become as the chariots of Ammi-nadib. Let me have something from thee to support me, or I die.” When a person is fainting on any occasion, these two things are to be done:— strength is to be used to support him, that he sink not to the ground; and comfortable things are to be applied, to refresh his spirits. These two the soul, overpowered and fainting with the force of its own love, (raised by a sense of Christ’s,) prayeth for. It would have strengthening grace to support it in that condition, that it may be able to attend its duty; and consolations of the Holy Ghost, to content, revive, and satiate it, until it come to a full enjoyment of Christ. And thus sweetly and with delight is this communion carried on.

(3.) Safety: “His banner over me was love,” verse 4. The banner is an emblem of safety and protection, — a sign of the presence of an host. Persons belonging to an army do encamp under their banner in security. So did the children of Israel in the wilderness; every tribe kept their camps under their own standard. It is also a token of success and victory, Ps. xx. 5. Christ hath a banner for his saints; and that is love. All their protection is from his love; and they shall have all the protection his love can give them. This safeguards them from hell, death, — all their enemies. Whatever presses on them, it must pass through the banner of the love of the Lord Jesus. They have, then, great spiritual safety; which is another ornament or excellency of their communion with him.

(4.) Supportment and consolation, verse 6, “His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.” Christ here hath the posture of a most tender friend towards any one in sickness and sadness. The soul faints with love, — spiritual longings after the enjoyment of his presence; and Christ comes in with his embraces. He nourisheth and cherisheth his church, Eph. v. 29; Isa. lxiii. 9. Now, “the hand under the head,” is supportment, sustaining grace, in pressures and difficulties; and “the hand that doth embrace,” the hand upon the heart, is joy and consolation; — in both, Christ rejoicing, as the “bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride,” Isa. lxii. 5. Now, thus to lie in the arms of Christ’s love, under a perpetual influence of supportment and refreshment, is certainly to hold communion with him. And hereupon, verse 7, the spouse is most earnest for the continuance of his fellowship, charging all so to demean themselves, that her Beloved be not disquieted, or provoked to depart.

In brief, this whole book is taken up in the description of the communion that is between the Lord Christ and his saints; and therefore, it is very needless to take from thence any more particular instances thereof

I shall only add that of Prov. ix. 1–5, “Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars; she hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine; she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city, Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled.”

The Lord Christ, the eternal Wisdom of the Father, and who of God is made unto us wisdom, erects a spiritual house, wherein he makes provision for the entertainment of those guests whom he so freely invites. His church is the house which he hath built on a perfect number of pillars, that it might have a stable foundation: his slain beasts and mingled wine, wherewith his table is furnished, are those spiritual fat things of the gospel, which he hath prepared for those that come in upon his invitation. Surely, to eat of this bread, and drink of this wine, which he hath so graciously prepared, is to hold fellowship with him; for in what ways or things is there nearer communion than in such?

I might farther evince this truth, by a consideration of all the relations wherein Christ and his saints do stand; which necessarily require that there be a communion between them, if we do suppose they are faithful in those relations: but this is commonly treated on, and something will be spoken to it in one signal instance afterward.

———————————————————————————-
83 John xiv. 23.
84 Isa. xxv. 6; Matt. xxii. 8; Rev. xix. 7.
85 Mal. iv. 2; Rev. xii. 1; Luke i. 78; Ἀνατολὴ ἐξ ὕψους· Numb. xxiv. 17; 2 Pet. i. 19; Rev. xxii. 16; Gen. xlix. 9; Mic. v. 8; Rev. v. 5.
86 Isa. xxxiii. 9, lxv. 10.
87 Rom. viii. 29.
88 Cant. v. 1.
89 Matt. v. 6.
90 John iv. 14.
91 Isa. xxv. 6; Prov. ix. 2.
92 Jonah iv. 6; Isa. xxv. 4, xxxii. 2; 2 Cor. v. 21; Gal. iii. 13; Mal. iv. 2.
93 Rom. xiv. 17; John vii. 37; Prov. xxvii. 7.

Chapter 2.

What it is wherein we have peculiar fellowship with the Lord Christ — This is in grace — This proved, John i. 14, 16, 17; 2 Cor. xiii. 14; 2 Thess. iii. 17, 18 — Grace of various acceptations — Personal grace in Christ proposed to consideration — The grace of Christ as Mediator intended, Ps. xlv. 2 — Cant. v. 10, Christ, how white and ruddy — His fitness to save, from the grace of union — His fulness to save — His suitableness to endear — These considerations improved.

II. Having manifested that the saints hold peculiar fellowship with the Lord Jesus, it nextly follows that we show wherein it is that they have this peculiar communion with him.

Now, this is in grace. This is everywhere ascribed to him by the way of eminency. John i. 14, “He dwelt among us, full of grace and truth;” — grace in the truth and substance of it.94 All that went before was but typical and in representation; in the truth and substance it comes only by Christ. “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,” verse 17; “and of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace,” verse 16; — that is, we have communion with him in grace; we receive from him all manner of grace whatever; and therein have we fellowship with him.

So likewise in that apostolical benediction, wherein the communication of spiritual blessings from the several persons unto the saints is so exactly distinguished; it is grace that is ascribed to our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. xiii. 14, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.”

Yea, Paul is so delighted with this, that he makes it his motto, and the token whereby he would have his epistles known, 2 Thess. iii. 17, 18, “The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” Yea, he makes these two, “Grace be with you,” and, “The Lord Jesus be with you,” to be equivalent expressions; for whereas he affirmed the one to be the token in all his epistles, yet sometimes he useth the one only, sometimes the other of these, and sometimes puts them both together. This, then, is that which we are peculiarly to eye in the Lord Jesus, to receive it from him, even grace, gospel-grace, revealed in or exhibited by the gospel. He is the head-stone in the building of the temple of God, to whom “Grace, grace,” is to be cried, Zech. iv. 7.

Grace is a word of various acceptations. In its most eminent significations it may be referred unto one of these three heads:—

1. Grace of personal presence and comeliness. 95So we say, “A graceful and comely person,” either from himself or his ornaments. This in Christ (upon the matter) is the subject of near one-half of the book of Canticles; it is also mentioned, Ps. xlv. 2, “Thou art fairer than the children of men; grace is poured into thy lips.” And unto this first head, in respect of Christ, do I refer also that acceptation of grace which, in respect of us, I fix in the third place. Those inconceivable gifts and fruits of the Spirit which were bestowed on him, and brought forth in him, concur to his personal excellency; as will afterward appear.

2. Grace of free favour and acceptance. 96“By this grace we are saved;” that is, the free favour and gracious acceptation of God in Christ. In this sense is it used in that frequent expression, “If I have found grace in thy sight;” that is, if I be freely and favourably accepted before thee. So he “giveth grace” (that is, favour) “unto the humble,” James iv. 6; Gen. xxxix. 21, xli. 37; Acts vii. 10; 1 Sam. ii. 26; 2 Kings xxv. 27, etc.

3. The fruits of the Spirit, sanctifying and renewing our natures, enabling unto good, and preventing from evil, are so termed. Thus the Lord tells Paul, “his grace was sufficient for him;” that is, the assistance against temptation which he afforded him, Col. iii. 16; 2 Cor. viii. 6, 7; Heb. xii. 28.

These two latter, as relating unto Christ in respect of us who receive them, I call purchased grace, being indeed purchased by him for us; and our communion with him therein is termed a “fellowship in his sufferings, and the power of his resurrection,” Phil. iii. 10.

1. Let us begin with the first, which I call personal grace; and concerning that do these two things:— (1.) Show what it is, and wherein it consisteth; I mean the personal grace of Christ. And, — (2.) Declare how the saints hold immediate communion with him therein.

(1.) To the handling of the first, I shall only premise this observation:— It is Christ as mediator of whom we speak; and therefore, by the “grace of his person,” I understand not, —

[1.] The glorious excellencies of his Deity considered in itself, abstracting from the office which for us, as God and man, he undertook.

[2.] Nor the outward appearance of his human nature, neither when he conversed here on earth, bearing our infirmities (whereof, by reason of the charge that was laid upon him, the prophet gives quite another character, Isa. lii. 14), concerning which some of the ancients were very poetical in their expressions; nor yet as now exalted in glory; — a vain imagination whereof makes many bear a false, a corrupted respect unto Christ, even upon carnal apprehensions of the mighty exaltation of the human nature; which is but “to know Christ after the flesh,” 2 Cor. v. 16, a mischief much improved by the abomination of foolish imagery. But this is that which I intend, — the graces of the person of Christ as he is vested with the office of mediation, this spiritual eminency, comeliness, and beauty, as appointed and anointed by the Father unto the great work of bringing home all his elect unto his bosom.

Now, in this respect the Scripture describes him as exceeding excellent, comely, and desirable, — far above comparison with the chiefest, choicest created good, or any endearment imaginable.

Ps. xlv. 2, “Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into thy lips.” 97He is, beyond comparison, more beautiful and gracious than any here below, יָפְיָפִיתָ, (japhiaphitha); the word is doubled, to increase its significance, and to exalt its subject beyond all comparison. שופרך מלכא משיחא עדיפ מבני נשא, says the Chaldee paraphrast: “Thy fairness, O king Messiah, is more excellent than the sons of men.” “Pulcher admodum præ filiis hominum;” — exceeding desirable. Inward beauty and glory is here expressed by that of outward shape, form, and appearance;98 because that was so much esteemed in those who were to rule or govern. Isa. iv. 2, the prophet, terming of him “The branch of the Lord,” and “The fruit of the earth,” affirms that he shall be “beautiful and glorious, excellent and comely;” “for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” Col. ii. 9.

Cant. v. 9, the spouse is inquired of as to this very thing, even concerning the personal excellencies of the Lord Christ, her beloved: “What is thy Beloved” (say the daughters of Jerusalem) “more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy Beloved more than another beloved?” and she returns this answer, verse 10, “My Beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand;” and so proceedeth to a particular description of him by his excellencies to the end of the chapter, and there concludeth that “he is altogether lovely,” verse 16; whereof at large afterward. Particularly, he is here affirmed to be “white and ruddy;” a due mixture of which colours composes the most beautiful complexion.

1st. He is white in the glory of his Deity, and ruddy in the preciousness of his humanity. “His teeth are white with milk, and his eyes are red with wine,” Gen. xlix. 12. Whiteness (if I may so say) is the complexion of glory. In that appearance of the Most High, the “Ancient of days,” Dan. vii. 9, it is said, “His garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool;” — and of Christ in his transfiguration, when he had on him a mighty lustre of the Deity, “His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light,” Matt. xvii. 2; which, in the phrase of another evangelist, is, “White as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them,” Mark ix. 3. It was a divine, heavenly, surpassing glory that was upon him, Rev. i. 14. Hence the angels and glorified saints, that always behold him, and are fully translated into the image of the same glory, are still said to be in white robes.99 His whiteness is his Deity, and the glory thereof. And on this account the Chaldee paraphrast ascribes this whole passage unto God. “They say,” saith he, “to the house of Israel, ‘Who is the God whom thou wilt serve?’ etc. Then began the congregation of Israel to declare the praises of the Ruler of the world, and said, ‘I will serve that God who is clothed in a garment white as snow, the splendour of the glory of whose countenance is as fire.’ ” He is also ruddy in the beauty of his humanity. Man was called Adam, from the red earth whereof he was made. The word here100 used points him out as the second Adam, partaker of flesh and blood, because the children also partook of the same, Heb. ii. 14. The beauty and comeliness of the Lord Jesus in the union of both these in one person, shall afterward be declared.

2dly. He is white in the beauty of his innocency and holiness, and ruddy in the blood of his oblation. Whiteness is the badge of innocence and holiness. It is said of the Nazarites, for their typical holiness, “They were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk,” Lam. iv. 7. And the prophet shows us that scarlet, red, and crimson, are the colours of sin and guilt; whiteness of innocency,101 Isa. i. 18. Our Beloved was “a Lamb without blemish and without spot,” 1 Pet. i. 19. “He did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth,” 1 Pet. ii. 22. He was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” Heb. vii. 26; as afterward will appear. And yet he who was so white in his innocence, was made ruddy in his own blood; and that two ways:— Naturally, in the pouring out of his blood, his precious blood, in that agony of his soul when thick drops of blood trickled to the ground, Luke xxii. 44; as also when the whips and thorns, nails and spears, poured it out abundantly: “There came forth blood and water,” John xix. 34. He was ruddy by being drenched all over in his own blood. And morally, by the imputation of sin, whose colour is red and crimson. “God made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin,” 2 Cor. v. 21. He who was white, became ruddy for our sakes, pouring out his blood an oblation for sin. This also renders him graceful: by his whiteness he fulfilled the law; by his redness he satisfied justice. “This is our Beloved, O ye daughters of Jerusalem.”

3dly. His endearing excellency in the administration of his kingdom is hereby also expressed.102 He is white in love and mercy unto his own; red with justice and revenge towards his enemies, Isa. lxiii. 3; Rev. xix. 13.

There are three things in general wherein this personal excellency and grace of the Lord Christ doth consist:— (1st.) His fitness to save, from the grace of union, and the proper necessary effects thereof. (2dly.) His fulness to save, from the grace of communion; or the free consequences of the grace of union. (3dly.) His excellency to endear, from his complete suitableness to all the wants of the souls of men:—

(1st.) His fitness to save, — his being ἱκανὸς, a fit Saviour, suited to the work; and this, I say, is from his grace of union. The uniting of the natures of God and man in one person made him fit to be a Saviour to the uttermost. He lays his hand upon God, by partaking of his nature, Zech. xiii. 7; and he lays his hand upon us, by being partaker of our nature, Heb. ii. 14, 16: and so becomes a days-man, or umpire between both. By this means he fills up all the distance that was made by sin between God and us; and we who were far off are made nigh in him. Upon this account it was that he had room enough in his breast to receive, and power enough in his spirit to bear, all the wrath that was prepared for us. Sin was infinite only in respect of the object; and punishment was infinite in respect of the subject. This ariseth from his union.

Union is the conjunction of the two natures of God and man in one person, John i. 14; Isa. ix. 6; Rom. i. 3, ix. 5. The necessary consequences whereof are, —

[1st.] The subsistence of the human nature in the person of the Son of God, having no subsistence of its own, Luke i. 35; 1 Tim. iii. 16.

[2dly.] Κοινωνία ἰδιωμάτων, — that communication of attributes in the person, whereby the properties of either nature are promiscuously spoken of the person of Christ, under what name soever, of God or man, he be spoken of, Acts xx. 28, iii. 21.

[3dly.] The execution of his office of mediation in his single person, in respect of both natures: wherein is considerable, ὁ ἐνεργῶν, — the agent, Christ himself, God and man. He is the principium quo, ἐνεργητικὸν, — the principle that gives life and efficacy to the whole work; and then, 2dly, The principium quod, — that which operates, which is both natures distinctly considered. 3dly. The ἐνέργεια, or δραστικὴ τῆς φύσεως κίνησις, — the effectual working itself of each nature. And, lastly, the ἐνέργημα, or ἀποτέλεσμα, — the effect produced, which ariseth from all, and relates to them all: so resolving the excellency I speak of into his personal union.

(2dly.) His fulness to save, from the grace of communion or the effects of his union, which are free; and consequences of it, which is all the furniture that he received from the Father by the unction of the Spirit, for the work of our salvation: “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him,” Heb. vii. 25; having all fulness unto this end communicated unto him: “for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,” Col. i. 19; and he received not “the Spirit by measure,” John iii. 34. And from this fulness he makes out a suitable supply unto all that are his; “grace for grace,” John i. 16. Had it been given to him by measure, we had exhausted it.

(3dly.) His excellency to endear, from his complete suitableness to all the wants of the souls of men. There is no man whatever, that hath any want in reference unto the things of God, but Christ will be unto him that which he wants: I speak of those who are given him of his Father. Is he dead? 103Christ is life. Is he weak? Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Hath he the sense of guilt upon him? Christ is complete righteousness, — “The Lord our Righteousness.” Many poor creatures are sensible of their wants, but know not where their remedy lies. Indeed, whether it be life or light, power or joy, all is wrapped up in him.

This, then, for the present, may suffice in general to be spoken of the personal grace of the Lord Christ:— He hath a fitness to save, having pity and ability, tenderness and power, to carry on that work to the uttermost; and a fulness to save, of redemption and sanctification, of righteousness and the Spirit; and a suitableness to the wants of all our souls: whereby he becomes exceedingly desirable, yea, altogether lovely; as afterward will appear in particular. And as to this, in the first place, the saints have distinct fellowship with the Lord Christ; the manner whereof shall be declared in the ensuing chapter.

Only, from this entrance that hath been made into the description of him with whom the saints have communion, some motives might be taken to stir us up whereunto; as also considerations to lay open the nakedness and insufficiency of all other ways and things unto which men engage their thoughts and desires, something may be now proposed. The daughters of Jerusalem, ordinary, common professors, having heard the spouse describing her Beloved, Cant. v. 10–16, etc., instantly are stirred up to seek him together with her; chap. vi. 1, “Whither is thy Beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.” What Paul says of them that crucified him, may be spoken of all that reject him, or refuse communion with him: “Had they known him, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;” — Did men know him, were they acquainted in any measure with him, they would not so reject the Lord of glory. Himself calls them “simple ones,” “fools,” and “scorners,” that despise his gracious invitation, Prov. i. 22. There are none who despise Christ, but only they that know him not; whose eyes the god of this world hath blinded, that they should not behold his glory. The souls of men do naturally seek something to rest and repose themselves upon, — something to satiate and delight themselves withal, with which they [may] hold communion; and there are two ways whereby men proceed in the pursuit of what they so aim at. Some set before them some certain end, — perhaps pleasure, profit, or, in religion itself, acceptance with God; others seek after some end, but without any certainty, pleasing themselves now with one path, now with another, with various thoughts and ways, like them, Isa. lvii. 10 — because something comes in by the life of the hand, they give not over though weary. In what condition soever you may be (either in greediness pursuing some certain end, be it secular or religious; or wandering away in your own imaginations, wearying yourselves in the largeness of your ways), compare a little what you aim at, or what you do, with what you have already heard of Jesus Christ: if any thing you design be like to him, if any thing you desire be equal to him, let him be rejected as one that hath neither form nor comeliness in him; but if, indeed, all your ways be but vanity and vexation of spirit, in comparison of him, why do you spend your “money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not?”

Use 1. You that are yet in the flower of your days, full of health and strength, and, with all the vigour of your spirits, do pursue some one thing, some another, consider, I pray, what are all your beloveds to this Beloved? What have you gotten by them? Let us see the peace, quietness, assurance of everlasting blessedness that they have given you? Their paths are crooked paths, whoever goes in them shall not know peace. Behold here a fit object for your choicest affections, — one in whom you may find rest to your souls, — one in whom there is nothing will grieve and trouble you to eternity. Behold, he stands at the door of your souls, and knocks: O reject him not, lest you seek him and find him not! Pray study him a little; you love him not, because you know him not. Why doth one of you spend his time in idleness and folly, and wasting of precious time, perhaps debauchedly? Why doth another associate and assemble himself with them that scoff at religion and the things of God? Merely because you know not our dear Lord Jesus. Oh, when he shall reveal himself to you, and tell you he is Jesus whom you have slighted and refused, how will it break your hearts, and make you mourn like a dove, that you have neglected him! and if you never come to know him, it had been better you had never been. Whilst it is called To-day, then, harden not your hearts.

Use 2. You that are, perhaps, seeking earnestly after a righteousness, and are religious persons, consider a little with yourselves, — hath Christ his due place in your hearts? is he your all? doth he dwell in your thoughts? do you know him in his excellency and desirableness? do you indeed account all things “loss and dung” for his exceeding excellency? or rather, do you prefer almost any thing in the world before it? But more of these things afterward.

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94 Acts xv. 11; Rom. xvi. 24; 1 Cor. xvi. 23; 2 Cor. xiii. 14; Gal. vi. 18; Eph. vi. 24.
95 Prov. i. 9, iii. 22, 34; Cant. iii. 6–11, v. 9–16, etc.
96 Ezra ix. 8; Acts iv. 33; Luke ii. 40; Esther ii. 17; Ps. lxxxiv. 11; Eph. ii. 6; Acts xv. 40, xviii. 27; Rom. i. 7, iv. 4, 16, v. 2, 20, xi. 5, 6; 2 Thess. ii. 16; Tit. iii. 7; Rev. i. 4, etc.
97 Isa. xi. 1; Jer. xxiii. 5, xxxiii. 15; Zech. iii. 8, vi. 12.
98 Ὁς ἡδὺ καλὸς ὅταν ἔχει νοῦν σώφρονα πρῶτον μὲν εἶδος ἄξιον τυραννίδος. — Porphyr. in Isag. Inde Suetonius de Domitiano. “Commendari se verecundiâ oris adeo sentiebat, ut apud senatum sic quondam jactaverit; usque adhuc certe animum meum probastis et vultum.” — Sueton. Domit., cap. xviii. “Formæ elegantia in Rege laudatur, non quod per se decor oris magni æstimari debeat, sed quia in ipso vultu sæpe reluceat generosa indoles.” — Calvin in loc.
99 Rev. iii. 4, 5, vi. 11, vii. 9, 13, xix. 14.
100 דּוֹדִי צַחֹ וְאָדוֹם, Cant. v. 10.
101 “Alii candidum exponunt esse puris et probis, rubrum et cruentum reprobis ad eos puniendos ut Isaia, cap. lxiii. dicitur, מַדּוּעַ אָדֹם לִלְבוּשֶׁךָ. Cur rubet vestimenta tua? quod nostri minus recte de Christi passione exponunt.” — Mercer. in loc.
102 Rev. vi. 2.
103 Col. iii. 4; 1 Cor. i. 24, 30; Jer. xxiii. 6.

Chapter 3.

Of the way and manner whereby the saints hold communion with the Lord Christ as to personal grace — The conjugal relation between Christ and the saints, Cant. ii. 16; Isa. liv. 5, etc.; Cant. iii. 11, opened — The way of communion in conjugal relation, Hos. iii. 3; Cant. i. 15 — On the part of Christ — On the part of the saints.

(2.) The next thing that comes under consideration is, the way whereby we hold communion with the Lord Christ, in respect of that personal grace whereof we have spoken. Now, this the Scripture manifests to be by the way of a conjugal relation. He is married unto us, and we unto him; which spiritual relation is attended with suitable conjugal affections. And this gives us fellowship with him as to his personal excellencies.

This the spouse expresseth, Cant. ii. 16, “My Beloved is mine, and I am his;” — “He is mine, I possess him, I have interest in him, as my head and my husband; and I am his, possessed of him, owned by him, given up unto him: and that as to my Beloved in a conjugal relation.”

So Isa. liv. 5, “Thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” This is yielded as the reason why the church shall not be ashamed nor confounded, in the midst of her troubles and trials, — she is married unto her Maker, and her Redeemer is her husband. And Isaiah, chap. lxi. 10, setting out the mutual glory of Christ and his church in their walking together, he saith it is “as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with jewels.” Such is their condition, because such is their relation; which he also farther expresseth, chap. lxii. 5, “As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.” As it is with such persons in the day of their espousals, in the day of the gladness of their hearts, so is it with Christ and his saints in this relation. He is a husband to them, providing that it may be with them according to the state and condition whereinto he hath taken them.

To this purpose we have his faithful engagement, Hos. ii. 19, 20, “I will,” saith he, “betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness.” And it is the main design of the ministry of the gospel, to prevail with men to give up themselves unto the Lord Christ, as he reveals his kindness in this engagement. Hence Paul tells the Corinthians, 2 Cor. xi. 2, that he had “espoused them unto one husband, that he might present them as a chaste virgin unto Christ.” This he had prevailed upon them for, by the preaching of the gospel, that they should give up themselves as a virgin, unto him who had betrothed them to himself as a husband.

And this is a relation wherein the Lord Jesus is exceedingly delighted, and inviteth others to behold him in this his glory, Cant. iii. 11, “Go forth,” saith he, “O ye daughters of Jerusalem, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.” He calls forth the daughters of Jerusalem (all sorts of professors) to consider him in the condition of betrothing and espousing his church unto himself. Moreover, he tells them that they shall find on him two things eminently upon this account:— 1. Honour. It is the day of his coronation, and his spouse is the crown wherewith he is crowned. For as Christ is a diadem of beauty and a crown of glory unto Zion, Isa. xxviii. 5; so Zion also is a diadem and a crown unto him, Isa. lxii. 3. Christ makes this relation with his saints to be his glory and his honour. 2. Delight. The day of his espousals, of taking poor sinful souls into his bosom, is the day of the gladness of his heart. John was but the friend of the Bridegroom, that stood and heard his voice, when he was taking his bride unto himself; and he rejoiced greatly, John iii. 29: how much more, then, must be the joy and gladness of the Bridegroom himself! even that which is expressed, Zeph. iii. 17, “he rejoiceth with joy, he joys with singing.”

It is the gladness of the heart of Christ, the joy of his soul, to take poor sinners into this relation with himself. He rejoiced in the thoughts of it from eternity, Prov. viii. 31; and always expresseth the greatest willingness to undergo the hard task required thereunto, Ps. xl. 7, 8; Heb. x. 7; yea, he was pained as a woman in travail, until he had accomplished it, Luke xii. 50. Because he loved his church, he gave himself for it, Eph. v. 25, despising the shame, and enduring the cross, Heb. xii. 2, that he might enjoy his bride, — that he might be for her, and she for him, and not for another, Hos. iii. 3. This is joy, when he is thus crowned by his mother. It is believers that are mother and brother of this Solomon, Matt. xii. 49, 50. They crown him in the day of his espousals, giving themselves to him, and becoming his glory, 2 Cor. viii. 23.

Thus he sets out his whole communion with his church under this allusion, and that most frequently. The time of his taking the church unto himself is the day of his marriage; and the church is his bride, his wife, Rev. xix. 7, 8. The entertainment he makes for his saints is a wedding supper, Matt. xxii. 3. The graces of his church are the ornaments of his queen, Ps. xlv. 9–14; and the fellowship he hath with his saints is as that which those who are mutually beloved in a conjugal relation do hold, Cant. i. Hence Paul, in describing these two, makes sudden and insensible transitions from one to the other, — Eph. v., from verse 22 unto verse 32; concluding the whole with an application unto Christ and the church.

It is now to be inquired, in the next place, how it is that we hold communion with the person of Christ in respect of conjugal relations and affections, and wherein this doth consist. Now, herein there are some things that are common unto Christ and the saints, and some things that are peculiar to each of them, as the nature of this relation doth require. The whole may be reduced unto these two heads:— [1.] A mutual resignation of themselves one to the other; [2.] Mutual, consequential, conjugal affections.

[1.] There is a mutual resignation, or making over of their persons one to another. This is the first act of communion, as to the personal grace of Christ. Christ makes himself over to the soul, to be his, as to all the love, care, and tenderness of a husband; and the soul gives up itself wholly unto the Lord Christ, to be his, as to all loving, tender obedience. And herein is the main of Christ’s and the saints’ espousals. This, in the prophet, is set out under a parable of himself and a harlot, Hos. iii. 3, “Thou shalt abide for me,” saith he unto her, “thou shalt not be for another, and I will be for thee.” — “Poor harlot,” saith the Lord Christ, “I have bought thee unto myself with the price of mine own blood; and now, this is that which we will consent unto, — I will be for thee, and thou shalt be for me, and not for another.

1st. Christ gives himself to the soul, with all his excellencies, righteousness, preciousness, graces, and eminencies, to be its Saviour, head, and husband, for ever to dwell with it in this holy relation. He looks upon the souls of his saints, likes them well, counts them fair and beautiful, because he hath made them so. Cant. i. 15, “Behold, thou art fair, my companion; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes.” Let others think what they please, Christ redoubles it, that the souls of his saints are very beautiful, even perfect, through his comeliness, which he puts upon them, Ezek. xvi. 14, — “Behold, thou art fair, thou art fair:”104 particularly, that their spiritual light is very excellent and glorious; like the eyes of a dove, tender, discerning, clear, and shining. Therefore he adds that pathetical wish of the enjoyment of this his spouse, Cant. ii. 14, “O my dove,” saith he, “that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely;” — “Do not hide thyself, as one that flies to the clefts of the rocks; be not dejected, as one that hides herself behind the stairs, and is afraid to come forth to the company that inquires for her. Let not thy spirit be cast down at the weakness of thy supplications, let me yet hear thy sighs and groans, thy breathing and partings to me; they are very sweet, very delightful: and thy spiritual countenance, thy appearance in heavenly things, is comely and delightful unto me.” Neither doth he leave her thus, but, chap. iv. 8, presseth her hard to a closer [union] with him in this conjugal bond: “Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Herman, from the lions’ dens, from the mountains of the leopards;” — “Thou art in a wandering condition (as the Israelites of old), among lions and leopards, sins and troubles; come from thence unto me, and I will give thee refreshment,” Matt. xi. 28. Upon this invitation, the spouse boldly concludes, Cant. vii. 10, that the desire of Christ is towards her; that he doth indeed love her, and aim at taking her into this fellowship with himself. So, in carrying on this union, Christ freely bestoweth himself upon the soul. Precious and excellent as he is, he becometh ours. He makes himself to be so; and with him, all his graces. Hence saith the spouse, “ ‘My Beloved is mine;’ in all that he is, he is mine.” Because he is righteousness,105 he is “The Lord our Righteousness,” Jer. xxiii. 6. Because he is the wisdom of God, and the power of God, he is “made unto us wisdom,” etc., 1 Cor. i. 30. Thus, “the branch of the Lord is beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth is excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel,” Isa. iv. 2. This is the first thing on the part of Christ, — the free donation and bestowing of himself upon us to be our Christ, our Beloved, as to all the ends and purposes of love, mercy, grace, and glory; whereunto in his mediation he is designed, in a marriage covenant never to be broken. This is the sum of what is intended:— The Lord Jesus Christ, fitted and prepared, by the accomplishment and furniture of his person as mediator, and the large purchase of grace and glory which he hath made, to be a husband to his saints, his church, tenders himself in the promises of the gospel to them in all his desirableness; convinces them of his good-will towards them, and his all-sufficiency for a supply of their wants; and upon their consent to accept of him, — which is all he requires or expects at their hands, — he engageth himself in a marriage covenant to be theirs for ever.

2dly. On the part of the saints, it is their free, willing consent to receive, embrace, and submit unto the Lord Jesus, as their husband, Lord, and Saviour, — to abide with him, subject their souls unto him, and to be ruled by him for ever.

Now, this in the soul is either initial, or the solemn consent at the first entrance of union; or consequential, in renewed acts of consent all our days. I speak of it especially in this latter sense, wherein it is proper unto communion; not in the former, wherein it primarily intendeth union.

There are two things that complete this self-resignation of the soul:—

(1st.) The liking of Christ, for his excellency, grace, and suitableness, far above all other beloveds whatever, preferring him in the judgment and mind above them all. In the place above mentioned, Cant. v. 9, the spouse being earnestly pressed, by professors at large, to give in her thoughts concerning the excellency of her Beloved in comparison of other endearments, answereth expressly, that he is “the chiefest of ten thousand, yea,” verse 16, “altogether lovely,” — infinitely beyond comparison with the choicest created good or endearment imaginable. The soul takes a view of all that is in this world, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” and sees it all to be vanity, — that “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof,” 1 John ii. 16, 17. These beloveds are no way to be compared unto him. It views also legal righteousness, blamelessness before men, uprightness of conversation, duties upon conviction, and concludes of all as Paul doth, Phil. iii. 8, “Doubtless, I count all these things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” So, also, doth the church, Hos. xiv. 3, reject all appearing assistances whatever, — as goodly as Asshur, as promising as idols, — that God alone may be preferred. And this is the soul’s entrance into conjugal communion with Jesus Christ as to personal grace, — the constant preferring him above all pretenders to its affections, counting all loss and dung in comparison of him. Beloved peace, beloved natural relations, beloved wisdom and learning, beloved righteousness, beloved duties, [are] all loss, compared with Christ.

(2dly.) The accepting of Christ by the will, as its only husband, Lord, and Saviour. This is called “receiving” of Christ, John i. 12; and is not intended only for that solemn act whereby at first entrance we close with him, but also for the constant frame of the soul in abiding with him and owning of him as such. When the soul consents to take Christ on his own terms, to save him in his own way,106 and says, “Lord, I would have had thee and salvation in my way, that it might have been partly of mine endeavours, and as it were by the works of the law; I am now willing to receive thee and to be saved in thy way, — merely by grace: and though I would have walked according to my own mind, yet now I wholly give up myself to be ruled by thy Spirit: for in thee have I righteousness and strength,107 in thee am I justified and do glory;” — then doth it carry on communion with Christ as to the grace of his person. This it is to receive the Lord Jesus in his comeliness and eminency. Let believers exercise their hearts abundantly unto this thing. This is choice communion with the Son Jesus Christ. Let us receive him in all his excellencies, as he bestows himself upon us; — be frequent in thoughts of faith, comparing him with other beloveds, sin, world, legal righteousness; and preferring him before them, counting them all loss and dung in comparison of him. And let our souls be persuaded of his sincerity and willingness in giving himself, in all that he is, as mediator unto us, to be ours; and let our hearts give up themselves unto him. Let us tell him that we will be for him, and not for another: let him know it from us; he delights to hear it, yea, he says, “Sweet is our voice, and our countenance is comely;” — and we shall not fail in the issue of sweet refreshment with him.

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104 “Repetit non citra πάθος, en tu pulchra es.” — Mercer.
105 Isa. xlv. 24, 25.
106 Rom. ix. 31, 32, x. 3, 4.
107 Isa. xlv. 24.

Digression I.

Some excellencies of Christ proposed to consideration, to endear our hearts unto him — His description, Cant. v., opened.

To strengthen our hearts in the resignation mentioned of ourselves unto the Lord Christ as our husband, as also to make way for the stirring of us up to those consequential conjugal affections of which mention shall afterward be made, I shall turn aside to a more full description of some of the personal excellencies of the Lord Christ, whereby the hearts of his saints are indeed endeared unto him.

In “The Lord our Righteousness,” then, may these ensuing things be considered; which are exceeding suitable to prevail upon our hearts to give up themselves to be wholly his:—

1. He is exceeding excellent and desirable in his108 Deity, and the glory thereof. He is “Jehovah our Righteousness,” Jer. xxiii. 6. In the rejoicing of Zion at his coming to her, this is the bottom, “Behold thy God!” Isa. xl. 9. “We have seen his glory,” saith the apostle. What glory is that? “The glory of the only-begotten Son of God,” John i. 14. The choicest saints have been afraid and amazed at the beauty of an angel; and the stoutest sinners have trembled at the glory of one of those creatures in a low appearance, representing but the back parts of their glory, who yet themselves, in their highest advancement, do cover their faces at the presence of our Beloved, as conscious to themselves of their utter disability to bear the rays of his glory, Isa. vi. 2; John xii. 39–41. He is “the fellow of the Lord of hosts,” Zech. xiii. 7. And though he once appeared in the form of a servant, yet then “he thought it not robbery to be equal with God,” Phil. ii. 6. In the glory of this majesty he dwells in light inaccessible. We “cannot by searching find out the Almighty unto perfection: it is as high as heaven; what can we do? deeper than hell; what can we know? the measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea,” Job xi. 7–9. We may all say one to another of this, “Surely we are more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. We neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy. Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his Son’s name, if ye can tell,” Prov. xxx. 2–4.

If any one should ask, now, with them in the Canticles, what is in the Lord Jesus, our beloved, more than in other beloveds, that should make him so desirable, and amiable, and worthy of acceptation? what is he more than others? I ask, What is a king more than a beggar? Much every way. Alas! this is nothing; they were born alike, must die alike, and after that is the judgment. What is an angel more than a worm? A worm is a creature, and an angel is no more; he hath made the one to creep in the earth, — made also the other to dwell in heaven. There is still a proportion between these, they agree in something; but what are all the nothings of the world to the God infinitely blessed for evermore? Shall the dust of the balance, or the drop of the bucket be laid in the scale against him? This is he of whom the sinners in Zion are afraid, and cry, “Who amongst us shall dwell with the devouring fire, who amongst us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” I might now give you a glimpse of his excellency in many of those properties and attributes by which he discovers himself to the faith of poor sinners; but as he that goes into a garden where there are innumerable flowers in great variety, gathers not all he sees, but crops here and there one, and another, I shall endeavour to open a door, and give an inlet into the infinite excellency of the graces of the Lord Jesus, as he is “God blessed for evermore,” — presenting the reader with one or two instances, leaving him to gather for his own use what farther he pleaseth. Hence, then, observe, —

The endless, bottomless, boundless grace and compassion that is in him who is thus our husband, as he is the God of Zion. It is not the grace of a creature, nor all the grace that can possibly at once dwell in a created nature, that will serve our turn. We are too indigent to be suited with such a supply. There was a fulness of grace in the human nature of Christ, — he received not “the Spirit by measure,” John iii. 34; a fulness like that of light in the sun, or of water in the sea (I speak not in respect of communication, but sufficiency); a fulness incomparably above the measure of angels: yet it was not properly an infinite fulness, — it was a created, and therefore a limited fulness. If it could be conceived as separated from the Deity, surely so many thirsty, guilty souls, as every day drink deep and large draughts of grace and mercy from him, would (if I may so speak) sink him to the very bottom; nay, it could afford no supply at all, but only in a moral way. But when the conduit of his humanity is inseparably united to the infinite, inexhaustible fountain of the Deity, who can look into the depths thereof? If, now, there be grace enough for sinners in an all-sufficient God, it is in Christ; and, indeed, in any other there cannot be enough. The Lord gives this reason for the peace and confidence of sinners, Isa. liv. 4, 5, “Thou shalt not be ashamed, neither be thou confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame.” But how shall this be? So much sin, and not ashamed! so much guilt, and not confounded! “Thy Maker,” saith he, “is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.” This is the bottom of all peace, confidence, and consolation, — the grace and mercy of our Maker, of the God of the whole earth. So are kindness and power tempered in him; he makes us, and mars us, — he is our God and our Goël, our Redeemer. “Look unto me,” saith he, “and be ye saved; for I am God, and none else,” Isa. xlv. 22, “Surely, shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness,” verse 24.

And on this ground it is that if all the world should (if I may so say) set themselves to drink free grace, mercy, and pardon, drawing 109water continually from the wells of salvation; if they should set themselves to draw from one single promise, an angel standing by and crying, “Drink, O my friends, yea, drink abundantly, take so much grace and pardon as shall be abundantly sufficient for the world of sin which is in every one of you;” — they would not be able to sink the grace of the promise one hair’s breadth. There is enough for millions of worlds, if they were; because it flows into it from an infinite, bottomless fountain. “Fear not, O worm Jacob, I am God, and not man,” is the bottom of sinners’ consolation. This is that “head of gold” mentioned, Cant. v. 11, that most precious fountain of grace and mercy. This infiniteness of grace, in respect of its spring and fountain, will answer all objections that might hinder our souls from drawing nigh to communion with him, and from a free embracing of him. Will not this suit us in all our distresses? What is our finite guilt before it? Show me the sinner that can spread his iniquities to the dimensions (if I may so say) of this grace. Here is mercy enough for the greatest, the oldest, the stubbornest transgressor, — “Why will ye die, O house of Israel?” Take heed of them who would rob you of the Deity of Christ. If there were no more grace for me than what can be treasured up in a mere man, I should rejoice [if] my portion might be under rocks and mountains.

Consider, hence, his eternal, free, unchangeable love. Were the love of Christ unto us but the love of a mere man, though never so excellent, innocent, and glorious, it must have a beginning, it must have an ending, and perhaps be fruitless. The love of Christ in his human nature towards his is exceeding, intense, tender, precious, compassionate, abundantly heightened by a sense of our miseries, feeling of our wants, experience of our temptations; all flowing from that rich stock of grace, pity, and compassion, which, on purpose for our good and supply, was bestowed on him: but yet this love, as such, cannot be infinite nor eternal, nor from itself absolutely unchangeable. Were it no more, though not to be paralleled nor fathomed, yet our Saviour could not say of it, as he doth, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you,” John xv. 9. His love could not be compared with and equalled unto the divine love of the Father, in those properties of eternity, fruitfulness, and unchangeableness, which are the chief anchors of the soul, rolling itself on the bosom of Christ. But now, —

(1.) It is eternal: “Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have not,” saith he, “spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me,” Isa. xlviii. 16. He himself is “yesterday, today, and for ever,” Heb. xiii. 8; and so is his love, being his who is “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the ending, which is, which was, and which is to come,” Rev. i. 11.

(2.) Unchangeable. Our love is like ourselves; as we are, so are all our affections: so is the love of Christ like himself. We love one, one day, and hate him the next. He changeth, and we change also: this day he is our right hand, our right eye; the next day, “Cut him off, pluck him out.” 110Jesus Christ is still the same; and so is his love. “In the beginning he laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of his hands; they shall perish, but he remaineth: they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shall he fold them up, and they shall be changed: but he is the same, and his years fail not,” Heb. i. 10–12. He is the Lord, and he changeth not; and therefore we are not consumed. Whom he loves, he loves unto the end.111 His love is such as never had beginning, and never shall have ending.

(3.) It is also fruitful, — fruitful in all gracious issues and effects. A man may love another as his own soul, yet perhaps that love of his cannot help him. He may thereby pity him in prison, but not relieve him; bemoan him in misery, but not help him; suffer with him in trouble, but not ease him. We cannot love grace into a child, nor mercy into a friend; we cannot love them into heaven, though it may be the great desire of our soul. It was love that made Abraham cry, “O that Ishmael might live before thee!” but it might not be. But now the love of Christ, being the love of God, is effectual and fruitful in producing all the good things which he willeth unto his beloved. He loves life, grace, and holiness into us; he loves us also into covenant, loves us into heaven. Love in him is properly to will good to any one: whatever good Christ by his love wills to any, that willing is operative of that good.

These three qualifications of the love of Christ make it exceedingly eminent, and him exceeding desirable. How many millions of sins, in every one of the elect, every one whereof were enough to condemn them all, hath this love overcome! what mountains of unbelief doth it remove! Look upon the conversation of any one saint, consider the frame of his heart, see the many stains and spots, the defilements and infirmities, wherewith his life is contaminated, and tell me whether the love that bears with all this be not to be admired. And is it not the same towards thousands every day? What streams of grace, purging, pardoning, quickening, assisting, do flow from it every day! This is our Beloved, O ye daughters of Jerusalem.

2. He is desirable and worthy our acceptation, as considered in his humanity; even therein also, in reference to us, he is exceedingly desirable. I shall only, in this, note unto you two things:— (1.) Its freedom from sin; (2.) Its fulness of grace; — in both which regards the Scripture sets him out as exceedingly lovely and amiable.

(1.) He was free from sin; — the112 Lamb of God, without spot, and without blemish; the male of the flock, to be offered unto God, the curse falling on all other oblations, and them that offer them, Mal. i. 14. The purity of the snow is not to be compared with the whiteness of this lily, of this 113rose of Sharon, even from the womb: “For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners,” Heb. vii. 26. Sanctified persons, whose stains are in any measure washed away, are exceeding fair in the eye of Christ himself. “Thou114 art all fair,” saith he, “my love, thou hast no spot in thee.” How fair, then, is he who never had the least spot or stain!

It is true, Adam at his creation had this spotless purity; so had the angels: but they came immediately from the 115hand of God, without concurrence of any secondary cause. Jesus Christ116 is a plant and root out of a dry ground, a blossom from the stem of Jesse, a bud from the loins of sinful man, — born of a sinner, after there had been no innocent flesh in the world for four thousand years, every one upon the roll of his genealogy being infected therewithal. To have a flower of wonderful rarity to grow in paradise, a garden of God’s own planting, not sullied in the least, is not so strange; but, as the psalmist speaks (in another kind), to hear of it in a wood, to find it in a forest, to have a spotless bud brought forth in the wilderness of corrupted nature, is a thing which angels may desire to look into. Nay, more, this whole nature was not only defiled, but also accursed; not only unclean, but also guilty, — guilty of Adam’s transgression, in whom we have all sinned. That the human nature of Christ should be derived from hence free from guilt, free from pollution, this is to be adored.

Objection. But you will say, “How can this be? who can bring a clean thing from an unclean? How could Christ take our nature, and not the defilements of it, and the guilt of it? If 117Levi paid tithes in the loins of Abraham, how is it that Christ did not sin in the loins of Adam?”

Answer. There are two things in original sin:—

[1.] Guilt of the first sin, which is imputed to us. We all sinned in him. Ἐφ’ ᾧ πάντες ἥμαρτον, Rom. v. 12, whether we render it relatively “in whom,” or illatively, “being all have sinned,” all is one: that one sin is the sin of us all, — “omnes eramus unus ille homo.” We were all in covenant with him; he was not only a natural head, but also a federal head unto us. As Christ is to believers, Rom. v. 17; 1 Cor. xv. 22, so was he to us all; and his transgression of that covenant is reckoned to us.

[2.] There is the derivation of a polluted, corrupted nature from him: 118“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” and nothing else; whose wisdom and mind is corrupted also: a polluted fountain will have polluted streams. The first person corrupted nature, and that nature corrupts all persons following. Now, from both these was Christ most free:—

1st. He was never federally in Adam, and so not liable to the imputation of his sin on that account. It is true that sin was imputed to him when he was made sin;119 thereby he took away the sin of the world, John i. 29: but it was imputed to him in the covenant of the Mediator, through his voluntary susception, and not in the covenant of Adam, by a legal imputation. Had it been reckoned to him as a descendant from Adam, he had not been a fit high priest to have offered sacrifices for us, as not being “separate from sinners,” Heb. vii. 26. Had Adam stood in his innocence, Christ had not been incarnate, to have been a mediator for sinners; and therefore the counsel of his incarnation, morally, took not place120 until after the fall. Though he was in Adam in a natural sense from his first creation, in respect of the purpose of God, Luke iii. 23, 38, yet he was not in him in a law sense until after the fall: so that, as to his own person, he had no more to do with the first sin of Adam, than with any personal sin of [any] one whose punishment he voluntarily took upon him; as we are not liable to the guilt of those progenitors who followed Adam, though naturally we were no less in them than in him. Therefore did he, all the days of his flesh, serve God in a covenant of works; and was therein accepted with him, having done nothing that should disannul the virtue of that covenant as to him. This doth not, then, in the least take off from his perfection.

2dly. For the pollution of our nature, it was prevented in him from the instant of conception, Luke i. 35, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” He was “made of a woman,” Gal. iv. 4; but that portion whereof he was made was sanctified by the Holy Ghost, that what was born thereof should be a holy thing. Not only the conjunction and union of soul and body, whereby a man becomes partaker of his whole nature, and therein of the pollution of sin, being a son of Adam, was prevented by the sanctification of the Holy Ghost, but it also accompanied the very separation of his bodily substance in the womb unto that sacred purpose whereunto it was set apart: so that upon all accounts he is “holy, harmless, undefiled.” Add now hereunto, that he “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth,” 1 Pet. ii. 22; that he “fulfilled all righteousness,” Matt. iii. 15; his Father being always “well pleased” with him, verse 17, on the account of his perfect obedience; yea, even in that sense wherein he chargeth his angels with folly, and those inhabitants of heaven are not clean in his sight; and his excellency and desirableness in this regard will lie before us. Such was he, such is he; and yet for our sakes was he contented not only to be esteemed by the vilest of men to be a transgressor, but to undergo from God the punishment due to the vilest sinners. Of which afterward.

(2.) The fulness of grace in Christ’s human nature sets forth the amiableness and desirableness thereof. Should I make it my business to consider his perfections, as to this part of his excellency, — what he had from the womb, Luke i. 35, what received growth and improvement as to exercise in the days of his flesh, Luke ii. 52, with the complement of them all in glory, — the whole would tend to the purpose in hand. I am but taking a view of these things in transitu. These two things lie in open sight to all at the first consideration:— all grace was in him, for the kinds thereof; and all degrees of grace, for its perfections; and both of them make up that fulness that was in him. It is created grace that I intend; and therefore I speak of the kinds of it: it is grace inherent in a created nature, not infinite; and therefore I speak of the degrees of it.

For the fountain of grace, the Holy Ghost, he received not him “by measure,” John iii. 34; and for the communications of the Spirit, “it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,” Col. i. 19, — “that in all things he might have the pre-eminence.” But these things are commonly spoken unto.

This is the Beloved of our souls, “holy, harmless, undefiled;” “full of grace and truth;” — 121full, to a sufficiency for every end of grace, — full, for practice, to be an example to men and angels as to obedience, — full, to a certainty of uninterrupted communion with God, — full, to a readiness of giving supply to others, — full, to suit him to all the occasions and necessities of the souls of men, — full, to a glory not unbecoming a subsistence in the person of the Son of God, — full, to a perfect victory, in trials, over all temptations, — full, to an exact correspondence to the whole law, every righteous and holy law of God, — full to the utmost capacity of a limited, created, finite nature, — full, to the greatest beauty and glory of a living temple of God, — full, to the full pleasure and delight of the soul of his Father, — full to an everlasting monument of the glory of God, in giving such inconceivable excellencies to the Son of man.

And this is the second thing considerable for the endearing of our souls to our Beloved.

3. Consider that he is all this in one person. We have not been treating of two, a God and a man; but of122 one who is God and man. That Word that was with God in the beginning, and was God, John i. 1, is also made flesh, verse 14; — not by a conversion of itself into flesh; not by appearing in the outward shape and likeness of flesh; but by assuming that holy thing that was born of the virgin, Luke i. 35, into personal union with himself. So “The mighty God,” Isa. ix. 6, is a “child given” to us; that holy thing that was born of the virgin is called “The Son of God,” Luke i. 35. That which made the man Christ Jesus to be a man, was the union of soul and body; that which made him that man, and without which he was not the man, was the subsistence of both united in the person of the Son of God. As to the proof hereof, I have spoken of it 123elsewhere at large; I now propose it only in general, to show the amiableness of Christ on this account. Here lies, hence arises, the grace, peace, life, and security of the church, — of all believers; as by some few considerations may be clearly evinced:—

(1.) Hence was he fit124 to suffer and able to bear whatever was due unto us, in that very action wherein the “Son of man gave his life a ransom for many,” Matt. xx. 28. “God redeemed his church with his own blood,” Acts xx. 28; and therein was the “love of God seen, that he gave his life for us,” 1 John iii. 16. On this account was there room, enough in his breast to receive the points of all the 125swords that were sharpened by the law against us; and strength enough in his shoulders to bear the burden of that curse that was due to us. Thence was he so willing to undertake the work of our redemption, Heb. x. 7, 8, “Lo, I come to do thy will, O God,” — because he knew his ability to go through with it. Had he not been man, he could not have suffered; — had he not been God, his suffering could not have availed either himself or us, — he had not satisfied; the suffering of a mere man could not bear any proportion to that which in any respect was infinite. Had the great and righteous God gathered together all the sins that had been committed by his elect from the foundation of the world, and searched the bosoms of all that were to come to the end of the world, and taken them all, from the sin of their nature to the least deviation from the rectitude of his most holy law, and the highest provocation of their regenerate and unregenerate condition, and laid them on a mere holy, innocent, creature; — O how would they have overwhelmed him, and buried him for ever out of the presence of God’s love! Therefore doth the apostle premise that glorious description of him to the purging of our sin: “He hath spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power,” hath “purged our sins.” Heb. i. 2, 3. It was he that purged our sins, who was the Son and heir of all things, by whom the world was made, — the brightness of his Father’s glory, and express image of his person; he did it, he alone was able to do it. “God was manifested in the flesh,” 1 Tim. iii. 16, for this work. The sword awaked against him that was the fellow of the Lord of hosts, Zech. xiii. 7; and by the wounds of that great shepherd are the sheep healed, 1 Pet. ii. 24, 25.

(2.) Hence doth he become an endless, bottomless fountain of grace to all them that believe. The fulness that it pleased the Father to commit to Christ, to be the great treasury and storehouse of the church, did not, doth not, lie in the human nature, considered in itself; but in the person of the mediator, God and man. Consider wherein his communication of grace doth consist, and this will be evident. The foundation of all is laid in his satisfaction, merit, and purchase; these are the morally procuring cause of all the grace we receive from Christ. Hence all grace becomes to be his;126 all the things of the new covenant, the promises of God, all the mercy, love, grace, glory promised, became, I say, to be his. Not as though they were all actually invested, or did reside and were in the human nature, and were from thence really communicated to us by a participation of a portion of what did so inhere: but they are morally his, by a127 compact, to be bestowed by him as he thinks good, as he is mediator, God and man; that is, the only begotten Son made flesh, John i. 14, “from whose fulness we receive, and grace for grace.” The real communication of grace is by Christ sending the Holy Ghost to regenerate us, and to create all the habitual grace, with the daily supplies thereof, in our hearts, that we are made partakers of. Now the Holy Ghost is thus sent by Christ as mediator, God and man, as is at large declared, John xiv., xv., xvi.; of which more afterward. This, then, is that which I intend by this fulness of grace that is in Christ, from whence we have both our beginning and all our supplies; which makes him, as he is the Alpha and Omega of his church, the beginner and finisher of our faith, excellent and desirable to our souls:128— Upon the payment of the great price of his blood, and full acquitment on the satisfaction he made, all grace whatever (of which at large afterward) becomes, in a moral sense, his, at his disposal; and he bestows it on, or works it in, the hearts of his by the Holy Ghost, according as, in his infinite wisdom, he sees it needful. How glorious is he to the soul on this consideration! That is most excellent to us which suits us in a wanting condition, — that which gives bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, mercy to the perishing. All our reliefs are thus in our Beloved. Here is the life of our souls, the joy of our hearts, our relief against sin and deliverance from the wrath to come.

(3.) Thus is he fitted for a mediator, a days-man, an umpire between God and us, — being one with him, and one with us, and one in himself in this oneness, in the unity of one person. His ability and universal fitness for his office of mediator are hence usually demonstrated. And herein is he “Christ,129 the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Herein shines out the infinitely glorious wisdom of God; which we may better admire than express. What soul that hath any acquaintance with these things falls not down with reverence and astonishment? How glorious is he that is the Beloved of our souls! What can be wanting that should encourage us to take up our rest and peace in his bosom? Unless all ways of relief and refreshment be so obstructed by unbelief, that no consideration can reach the heart to yield it the least assistance, it is impossible but that from hence the soul may gather that which will endear it unto him with whom we have to do. Let us dwell on the thoughts of it. This is the hidden mystery; great without controversy; admirable to eternity. What poor, low, perishing things do we spend our contemplations on! Were we to have no advantage by this astonishing dispensation, yet its excellency, glory, beauty, depths, deserve the flower of our inquiries, the vigour of our spirits, the substance of our time; but when, withal, our life, our peace, our joy, our inheritance, our eternity, our all, lies herein, shall not the thoughts of it always dwell in our hearts, always refresh and delight our souls?

(4.) He is excellent and glorious in this, — in that he is exalted and invested with all authority. When130 Jacob heard of the exaltation of his son Joseph in Egypt, and saw the chariots that he had sent for him, his spirit fainted and recovered again, through abundance of joy and other overflowing affections. Is our Beloved lost, who for our sakes was upon the earth poor and persecuted, reviled, killed? No! he was dead, but he is alive, and, lo, he lives for ever and ever, and hath the keys of hell and of death.131 Our Beloved is made a lord and ruler, Acts ii. 36. He is made a king; God sets him his king on his holy hill of Zion, Ps. ii. 6;132 and he is crowned with honour and dignity, after he had been “made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death,” Heb. ii. 7–9. And what is he made king of? “All things are put in subjection under his feet,” verse 8. And what power over them hath our Beloved? “All power in heaven and earth,” Matt. xxviii. 18. As for men, he hath power given him “over all flesh,” John xvii. 2. And in what glory doth he exercise this power? He gives eternal life to his elect; ruling them in the power of God, Micah v. 4, until he bring them to himself: and for his enemies, his arrows are sharp in their hearts, Ps. xlv. 5; he dips his vesture in their blood.133 Oh, how glorious is he in his authority over his enemies! In this world he terrifies, frightens, awes, convinces, bruises their hearts and consciences, — fills them with fear, terror, disquietment, until they yield him feigned obedience; and sometimes with outward judgments bruises, breaks, turns the wheel upon them, — stains all his vesture with their blood, — fills the earth with their carcases: and at last will gather them all together, beast, false prophet, nations, etc., and cast them into that lake that burns with fire and brimstone.134
He is gloriously exalted above angels in this his authority, good and bad, Eph. i. 20–22, “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” They are all under his feet, — at his command and absolute disposal. He is at the right hand of God, in the highest exaltation possible, and in full possession of a kingdom over the whole creation; having received a “name above every name,” etc., Phil. ii. 9. Thus is he glorious in his throne, which is at “the right hand of the 135Majesty on high;” glorious in his commission, which is “all power in heaven and earth;” glorious in his name, a name above every name, — “Lord of lords, and King of kings;” glorious in his sceptre, — “a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of his kingdom;” glorious in his attendants, — “his chariots are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels,” among them he rideth on the heavens, and sendeth out the voice of his strength, attended with ten thousand times ten thousand of his holy ones; glorious in his subjects, — all creatures in heaven and in earth, nothing is left that is not put in subjection to him; glorious in his way of rule, and the administration of his kingdom, — full of sweetness, efficacy, power, serenity, holiness, righteousness, and grace, in and towards his elect, — of terror, vengeance, and certain destruction towards the rebellious angels and men; glorious in the issue of his kingdom, when every knee shall bow before him, and all shall stand before his judgment-seat. And what a little portion of his glory is it that we have pointed to! This is the beloved of the church, — its head, its husband; this is he with whom we have communion: but of the whole exaltation of Jesus Christ I am elsewhere to treat at large.

Having insisted on these generals, for the farther carrying on the motives to communion with Christ, in the relation mentioned, taken from his excellencies and perfections, I shall reflect on the description given of him by the spouse in the Canticles, to this very end and purpose Cant. v. 10–16, “My Beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rings, set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

The general description given of him, verse 10, hath been before considered; the ensuing particulars are instances to make good the assertion that he is “the chiefest among ten thousand.”

The spouse begins with his head and face, verses 11–13. In his head, she speaks first in general, unto the substance of it, — it is “fine gold;” and then in particular, as to its ornaments, — “his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.”

1. “His head is as the most fine gold,” or, “His head gold, solid gold;” so some; — “made of pure gold;” so others; — χρυσίον κεφαλή, say the LXX., retaining part of both the Hebrew words, “כֶּתֶם פָּז, — “massa auri.”136
Two things are eminent in gold, — splendour or glory, and duration. This is that which the spouse speaks of the head of Christ. His head is his government, authority, and kingdom. Hence it is said, “A crown of pure gold was on his head,” Ps. xxi. 3; and his head is here said to be gold, because of the crown of gold that adorns it, — as the monarchy in Daniel that was most eminent for glory and duration, is termed a “head of gold,” Dan. ii. 38. And these two things are eminent in the kingdom and authority of Christ:—

(1.) It is a glorious kingdom; he is full of glory and majesty, and in his majesty he rides “prosperously,” Ps. xlv. 3, 4. “His glory is great in the salvation of God: honour and majesty are laid upon him: he is made blessed for ever and ever,” Ps. xxi. 5, 6. I might insist on particulars, and show that there is not any thing that may render a kingdom or government glorious, but it is in this of Christ in all its excellencies. It is a heavenly, a spiritual, a universal, and unshaken kingdom; all which render it glorious. But of this, somewhat before.

(2.) It is durable, yea, eternal, — solid gold. “His throne is for ever and ever,” Ps. xlv. 6; “of the increase of his government there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever,” Isa. ix. 7. “His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,” Dan. vii. 27, — “a kingdom that shall never be destroyed,” chap. ii. 44; for he must reign until all his enemies be subdued. This is that head of gold, — the splendour and eternity of his government.

And if you take the head in a natural sense, either the glory of his Deity is here attended to, or the fulness and excellency of his wisdom, which the head is the seat of. The allegory is not to be straitened, whilst we keep to the analogy of faith.

2. For the ornaments of his head; his locks, they are said to be “bushy,” or curled, “black as a raven.” His curled locks are black; “as a raven,” is added by way of illustration of the blackness, not with any allusion to the nature of the raven. Take the head spoken of in a political sense: his locks of hair — said to be curled, as seeming to be entangled, but really falling in perfect order and beauty, as bushy locks — are his thoughts, and counsels, and ways, in the administration of his kingdom. They are black or dark, because of their depth and unsearchableness, — as God is said to dwell in thick darkness; and curled or bushy, because of their exact interweavings, from his infinite wisdom. His thoughts are many as the hairs of the head, seeming to be perplexed and entangled, but really set in a comely order, as curled bushy hair; deep and unsearchable, and dreadful to his enemies, and full of beauty and comeliness to his beloved. Such are, I say, the thoughts of his heart, the counsels of his wisdom, in reference to the administrations of his kingdom:— dark, perplexed, involved, to a carnal eye; in themselves, and to his saints, deep, manifold, ordered in all things, comely, desirable.

In a natural sense, black and curled locks denote comeliness, and vigour of youth. The strength and power of Christ, in the execution of his counsels, in all his ways, appears glorious and lovely.

The next thing described in him is his eyes. Verse 12, “His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.” The reason of this allusion is obvious:— doves are tender birds, not birds of prey; and of all others they have the most bright, shining, and piercing eye; their delight also in streams of water is known. Their being washed in milk, or clear, white, crystal water, adds to their beauty. And they are here said to be “fitly set;” that is, in due proportion for beauty and lustre, — as a precious stone in the foil or fulness of a ring, as the word signifies.

Eyes being for sight, discerning, knowledge, and acquaintance with the things that are to be seen; the knowledge, the understanding, the discerning Spirit of Christ Jesus, are here intended. In the allusion used four things are ascribed to them:— 1. Tenderness; 2. Purity; 3. Discerning; and, 4. Glory:—

1. The tenderness and compassion of Christ towards his church is here intended. He looks on it with the eyes of galless doves; with tenderness and careful compassion; without anger, fury, or thoughts of revenge. So is the eye interpreted, Deut. xi. 12, “The eyes of the Lord thy God are upon that land.” Why so? “It is a land that the Lord thy God careth for;” — careth for it in mercy. So are the eyes of Christ on us, as the eyes of one that in tenderness cares for us; that lays out his wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, in all tender love, in our behalf. He is the stone, that foundation-stone of the church, whereon “are seven eyes,” Zech. iii. 9; wherein is a perfection of wisdom, knowledge, care, and kindness, for its guidance.

2. Purity; — as washed doves’ eyes for purity. This may be taken either subjectively, for the excellency and immixed cleanness and purity of his sight and knowledge in himself; or objectively, for his delighting to behold purity in others. “He is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity,” Hab. i. 13. “He hath no pleasure in wickedness; the foolish shall not stand in his sight,” Ps. v. 4, 5. If the righteous soul of Lot was vexed with seeing the filthy deeds of wicked men, 2 Pet. ii. 8, who yet had eyes of flesh, in which there was a mixture of impurity; how much more do the pure eyes of our dear Lord Jesus abominate all the filthiness of sinners! But herein lies the excellency of his love to us, that he takes care to take away our filth and stains, that he may delight in us; and seeing we are so defiled, that it could no otherwise be done, he will do it by his own blood, Eph. v. 25–27, “Even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it, with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish.” The end of this undertaking is, that the church might be thus gloriously presented unto himself, because he is of purer eyes than to behold it with joy and delight in any other condition. He leaves not his spouse until he says of her, “Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee,” Cant. iv. 7. Partly, he takes away our spots and stains, by the “renewing of the Holy Ghost;”137 and wholly adorns us with his own righteousness: and that because of the purity of his own eyes, which “cannot behold iniquity,” — that he might present us to himself holy.

3. Discerning. He sees as doves, quickly, clearly, thoroughly, — to the bottom of that which he looks upon. Hence, in another place it is said that his “eyes are as a flame of fire,” Rev. i. 14. And why so? That the churches might know that he is he which “searcheth the reins and hearts,” Rev. ii. 23. He hath discerning eyes, nothing is hid from him; all things are open and naked before him with whom we have to do. It is said of him, whilst he was in this world, that “Jesus knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what was in man,” John ii. 24, 25. His piercing eyes look through all the thick coverings of hypocrites, and the snow [show] of pretences that is on them. He sees the inside of all; and what men are there, that they are to him. He sees not as we see, but ponders the hidden man of the heart. No humble, broken, contrite soul, shall lose one sigh or groan after him, and communion with him; no pant of love or desire is hid from him, — he sees in secret; no glorious performance of the most glorious hypocrite will avail with him, — his eyes look through all, and the filth of their hearts lies naked before him.

4. Beauty and glory are here intended also. Every thing of Christ is beautiful, for he is “altogether lovely,” verse 16, but most glorious [is he] in his sight and wisdom: he is the wisdom of God’s eternal wisdom itself; his understanding is infinite. What spots and stains are in all our knowledge! When it is made perfect, yet it will still be finite and limited. His is without spot of darkness, without foil of limitedness.

Thus, then, is he beautiful and glorious:— his “head is of gold, his eyes are doves’ eyes, washed in milk, and fitly set.”

The next thing insisted on is his cheeks. Verse 13, “His cheeks are as a bed of spices; as sweet flowers,” or “towers of perfumes” [marginal reading], or well-grown flowers. There are three things evidently pointed at in these words:— 1. A sweet savour, as from spices, and flowers, and towers of perfume; 2. Beauty and order, as spices set in rows or beds, as the words import; 3. Eminency in that word, as sweet or well-grown, great flowers.

These things are in the cheeks of Christ. The Chaldee paraphrast, who applies this whole song to God’s dealings with the people of the Jews, makes these cheeks of the church’s husband to be the two tables of stone, with the various lines drawn in them; but that allusion is strained, as are most of the conjectures of that scholiast.

The cheeks of a man are the seat of comeliness and manlike courage. The comeliness of Christ, as hath in part been declared, is from his fulness of grace in himself for us. His manly courage respects the administration of his rule and government, from his fulness of authority; as was before declared. This comeliness and courage the spouse, describing Christ as a beautiful, desirable personage, to show that spiritually he is so, calleth his cheeks; so to make up his parts, and proportion. And to them doth she ascribe, —

1. A sweet savour, order, and eminency. A sweet savour; as God is said to smell a sweet savour from the grace and obedience of his servants (Gen. viii. 21, the Lord smelled a savour of rest from the sacrifice of Noah), so do the saints smell a sweet savour from his grace laid up in Christ, Cant. i. 3. It is that which they rest in, which they delight in, which they are refreshed with. As the smell of aromatical spices and flowers pleases the natural sense, refreshes the spirits, and delights the person; so do the graces of Christ to his saints. They please their spiritual sense, they refresh their drooping spirits, and give delight to their souls. If he be nigh them, they smell his raiment, as Isaac the raiment of Jacob. They say, “It is as the smell of a field which the Lord hath blessed,” Gen. xxvii. 27; and their souls are refreshed with it.

2. Order and beauty are as spices set in a garden bed. So are the graces of Christ. When spices are set in order, any one may know what is for his use, and take and gather it accordingly. Their answering, also, one to another makes them beautiful. So are the graces of Christ; in the gospel they are distinctly and in order set forth, that sinners by faith may view them, and take from him according to their necessity. They are ordered for the use of saints in the promises of the gospel. There is light in him, and life in him, and power in him, and all consolation in him; — a constellation of graces, shining with glory and beauty. Believers take a view of them all, see their glory and excellency, but fix especially on that which, in the condition wherein they are, is most useful to them. One takes light and joy; another, life and power. By faith and prayer do they gather these things in this bed of spices. Not any that comes to him goes away unrefreshed. What may they not take, what may they not gather? what is it that the poor soul wants? Behold, it is here provided, set out in order in the promises of the gospel; which are as the beds wherein these spices are set for our use: and on the account hereof is the covenant said to be “ordered in all things,” 2 Sam. xxiii. 5.

3. Eminency. His cheeks are “a tower of perfumes” held up, made conspicuous, visible, eminent. So it is with the graces of Christ, when held out and lifted up in the preaching of the gospel. They are a tower of perfumes, — a sweet savour to God and man.

The next clause of that verse is, “His lips are like lilies, dropping sweet-smelling myrrh.” Two perfections in things natural are here alluded unto:— First, the glory of colour in the lilies, and the sweetness of savour in the myrrh. The glory and beauty of the lilies in those countries was such as that our Saviour tells us that “Solomon, in all his glory, was not arrayed like one of them,” Matt. vi. 29; and the savour of myrrh such as, when the Scripture would set forth any thing to be an excellent savour, it compares it thereunto, Ps. xlv. 8; and thereof was the sweet and holy ointment chiefly made, Exod. xxx. 23–25: mention is also made frequently of it in other places, to the same purpose. It is said of Christ, that “grace was poured into his lips,” Ps. xlv. 2; whence men wondered or were amazed — τοῖς λόγοις τῆς χάριτος, [Luke iv. 22] — at the words of grace that proceeded out of his mouth. So that by the lips of Christ, and their dropping sweet-smelling myrrh, the word of Christ, its savour, excellency, and usefulness, is intended. Herein is he excellent and glorious indeed, surpassing the excellencies of those natural things which yet are most precious in their kind, — even in the glory, beauty, and usefulness of his word. Hence they that preach his word to the saving of the souls of men, are said to be a “sweet savour unto God,” 2 Cor. ii. 15; and the savour of the knowledge of God is said to be manifested by them, verse 14. I might insist on the several properties of myrrh, whereto the word of Christ is here compared, — its bitterness in taste, its efficacy to preserve from putrefaction, its usefulness in perfumes and unctions, — and press the allegory in setting out the excellencies of the word in allusions to them; but I only insist on generals. This is that which the Holy Ghost here intends:— the word of Christ is sweet, savoury, precious unto believers; and they see him to be excellent, desirable, beautiful, in the precepts, promises, exhortations, and the most bitter threats thereof.

The spouse adds, “His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl” [verse 14]. The word “beryl,” in the original, is “Tarshish;”138 which the Septuagint have retained, not restraining it to any peculiar precious stone; the onyx, say some; the chrysolite, say others; — any precious stone shining with a sea-green colour, for the word signifies the sea also. Gold rings set with precious, glittering stones, are both valuable and desirable, for profit and ornament: so are the hands of Christ; that is, all his works, — the effects, by the cause. All his works are glorious; they are all fruits of wisdom, love, and bounty. “And his belly is as bright ivory, overlaid with sapphires.” The smoothness and brightness of ivory, the preciousness and heavenly colour of the sapphires, are here called in, to give some lustre to the excellency of Christ.” To these is his belly, or rather his bowels (which takes in the heart also), compared. It is the inward bowels, and not the outward bulk that is signified. Now, to show that by “bowels” in the Scripture, ascribed either to God or man, affections are intended, is needless. The tender love, unspeakable affections and kindness, of Christ to his church and people, is thus set out. What a beautiful sight is it to the eye, to see pure polished ivory set up and down with heaps of precious sapphires! How much more glorious are the tender affections, mercies, and compassion of the Lord Jesus unto believers!

Verse 15. The strength of his kingdom, the faithfulness and stability of his promises, — the height and glory of his person in his dominion, — the sweetness and excellency of communion with him, is set forth in these words: “His legs are as pillars of marble set upon sockets of fine gold; his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars: his mouth is most sweet.”

When the spouse hath gone thus far in the description of him, she concludes all in this general assertion: “He is wholly desirable, — altogether to be desired or beloved.” As if she should have said, — “I have thus reckoned up some of the perfections of the creatures (things of most value, price, usefulness, beauty, glory, here below), and compared some of the excellencies of my Beloved unto them. In this way of allegory I can carry things no higher; I find nothing better or more desirable to shadow out and to present his loveliness and desirableness: but, alas! all this comes short of his perfections, beauty, and comeliness; ‘he is all wholly to be desired, to be beloved;’ ” —

Lovely in his person, — in the glorious all-sufficiency of his Deity, gracious purity and holiness of his humanity, authority and majesty, love and power.

Lovely in his birth and incarnation; when he was rich, for our sakes becoming poor, — taking part of flesh and blood, because we partook of the same; being made of a woman, that for us he might be made under the law, even for our sakes.

Lovely in the whole course of his life, and the more than angelical holiness and obedience which, in the depth of poverty and persecution, he exercised therein; — doing good, receiving evil; blessing, and being cursed, reviled, reproached, all his days.

Lovely in his death; yea, therein most lovely to sinners; — never more glorious and desirable than when he came broken, dead, from the cross. Then had he carried all our sins into a land of forgetfulness; then had he made peace and reconciliation for us; then had he procured life and immortality for us.

Lovely in his whole employment, in his great undertaking, — in his life, death, resurrection, ascension; being a mediator between God and us, to recover the glory of God’s justice, and to save our souls, — to bring us to an enjoyment of God, who were set at such an infinite distance from him by sin.

Lovely in the glory and majesty wherewith he is crowned. Now he is set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; where, though he be terrible to his enemies, yet he is full of mercy, love, and compassion, towards his beloved ones.

Lovely in all those supplies of grace and consolations, in all the dispensations of his Holy Spirit, whereof his saints are made partakers.

Lovely in all the tender care, power, and wisdom, which he exercises in the protection, safe-guarding, and delivery of his church and people, in the midst of all the oppositions and persecutions whereunto they are exposed.

Lovely in all his ordinances, and the whole of that spiritually glorious worship which he hath appointed to his people, whereby they draw nigh and have communion with him and his Father.

Lovely and glorious in the vengeance he taketh, and will finally execute, upon the stubborn enemies of himself and his people.

Lovely in the pardon he hath purchased and doth dispense, — in the reconciliation he hath established, — in the grace he communicates, — in the consolations he doth administer, — in the peace and joy he gives his saints, — in his assured preservation of them unto glory.

What shall I say? there is no end of his excellencies and desirableness; — “He is altogether lovely. This is our beloved, and this is our friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

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108 Numb. xxi. 5; 1 Cor. x. 9; Ps. lxviii. 18; Eph. iv. 8, 10; Ps. xcvii. 7; Heb. i. 6; Ps. cii. 25; Isa. vii. 14; Luke ii. 34; Rom. ix. 5; 1 Pet. ii. 6; Isa. xl. 3, xliv. 6, xlv. 22, xlviii. 12; Rom. xiv. 10; Rev. i. 11; Mal. iii. 1; Ps. ii. 12; Isa. xxxv. 4, lii. 5, 6, xlv. 14, 15; Zech. ii. 8, 12, iii. 1, xii. 10; Matt. xvi. 16; Luke i. 16, 17; John v. 18, 19, x. 30, i. 1, 3, 10, 14, vi. 62, viii. 23, 58; Col. i. 16; Heb. i. 2, 10–12; John iii. 13, 31, xvi. 28; Mic. v. 2; Prov. viii. 23; John xvii. 5; Jer. xxiii. 6; 1 John v. 20; Rev. i. 18, iv. 8; Acts xx. 28; 1 John iii. 16; Phil. ii. 6–8; 1 Tim. iii. 16; Heb. ii. 16; 1 John iv. 3; Heb. x. 5; John xx. 28; John x. 29–31; Matt. xvi. 16; Rom. viii. 32; John iii. 16, 18; Col. i. 15; John xvii. 10; Isa. ix. 6; Col. ii. 9; 1 Cor. viii. 6, ii. 8; Ps. lxviii. 17.
109 Cant. v. 1; Isa. lv. 1; Rev. xxii. 17; John vii. 37, 38.
110 Gal. iv. 14, 15.
111 Mal. iii. 6; John xiii. 1.
112 1 Pet. i. 19.
113 Cant. ii. 1.
114 Cant. i. 15, 16, iv. 1, 7, 10.
115 Eccles. vii. 29.
116 Isa. liii. 2.
117 Heb. vii. 9, 10.
118 Job xiv. 4; Φρόνημα τῆς σαρκός, Rom. viii. 7; John iii. 16. Νοὸς τῆς σαρκός, Col. ii. 18.
119 2 Cor. v. 21.
120 Gen. iii. 15.
121 John i. 14, 16; 1 Cor. xi. 1; Eph. v. 2; 1 Pet. ii. 21; Matt. iii. 17; Heb. ii. 18, vii. 25.
122 “Qui, propter homines liberandos ab æternâ morte, homo factus est, et ita ad susceptionem humilitatis nostræ, sine suæ majestatis diminutione inclinans, ut manens quod erat, assumensque quod non erat; veram servi formam, ei formæ, in qua Deo patri est æqualis, adunaret, ut nec inferiorem absumeret glorificatio, nec superiorem minueret assumptio; salvâ enim proprietate utriusque substantiæ, et in unum coëunte personam, suscipitur a majestate humilitas, a virtute infirmitas, a mortalitate æternitas, et ad rependendum nostræ conditionis debitum, natura inviolabilis naturæ est unita passibili,” etc. — Leo. Serm. i. De Nat.
123 Vind. Evan. c. viii. vol. xii.
124 “Deus versus, et homo verus in unitatem Domini temperatur, ut, quod nostris remediis congruebat, unus atque idem Dei hominumque mediator et mori possit ex uno, et resurgere possit ex altero.” — Leo. ubi sup.
125 Zech. xiii. 7; Ps. lxxxix. 19.
126 John xvi. 14, 15.
127 Isa. liii. 11, 12; John i. 16; Col. i. 19, 20.
128 Heb. xii. 2; Rev. i. 11.
129 1 Cor. i. 24.
130 Gen. xlv. 26, 27.
131 Rev. i. 18.
132 Gen. xlix. 10; Numb. xxiv. 17, 19; Ps. ii. 1–9, lxxxix. 19–25, cx. 1–3; Isa. xi. 1, 4, xxxii. 1, 2, liii. 12, lxiii. 1–3; Jer. xxiii. 5, 6; Dan. vii. 13, 14; Luke ii. 11, xix. 38; John v. 22, 23; Acts ii. 34–36, v. 31; Phil. ii. 9–11; Eph. i. 20–22; Rev. v. 12–14, xix. 16.
133 Isa. lxiii. 3.
134 Ps. cx. 6; Rev. xix. 20.
135 Heb. i. 3; Eph. i. 22; Matt. xxviii. 18; Phil. ii. 10, 11; Rev. xix. 16; Ps. xlv., lxviii.; Dan. vii. 10.
136 So the words are quoted in all editions of this treatise. Fully to develop the meaning of the allusion, it seems necessary that the whole of the Septuagint rendering should be quoted, — Κεφαλὴ αὐτοῦ χρυσίον κεφὰζ. It is the last word in which part of both the Hebrew words is said to be retained. There is some difficulty in fixing the import of פָּז. Gesenius refers us to Ps. xix. 10, in proof that it means fine, as distinguished from common gold; from פָּזַז, a root not used in Hebrew, but signifying, in the cognate dialect of Arabic, to separate, to purify metals. Some connect the term with Uphaz, a district from which gold was procured, Jer. x. 9. Schultens derives the word from פָּזַז, to leap, to spring up into notice, in allusion to the amount of gold discovered on the surface of the earth, through the previous disintegration of the rock in which it was disseminated, and when a shower has washed it from the soil by which it was covered. There is coincidence between the etymology of the word suggested by the Dutch critic, and the fact that the largest quantities of gold and gold ore have been discovered, not by excavation, but by the washing of detritus in regions of primary and transitory strata where the eruption of igneous rocks has occurred: “As for the earth, … it hath dust of gold,” Job xxviii. 5, 6. — Ed.
137 Tit. iii. 5.
138 As Ophir is taken for the gold of Ophir, in Job xxii. 24, so Tarshish, the name of a city, of which the locality is disputed, is used to denote a precious stone which was brought from it. It is translated “beryl” in the authorized version, though שֹׁהַם, in Ezek. xxviii. 13, is also rendered by the same term. Some make תַּרְשִׁישׁ, the chrysolite or topaz of the moderns. The word has been thought to denote the sea, in Isa. xxiii. 10, but on slender ground. — Ed.

Digression II.

All solid wisdom laid up in Christ — True wisdom, wherein it consists — Knowledge of God, in Christ only to be obtained — What of God may be known by his works — Some properties of God not discovered but in Christ only; love, mercy — Others not fully but in him; as vindictive justice, patience, wisdom, all-sufficiency — No property of God savingly known but in Christ — What is required to a saving knowledge of the properties of God — No true knowledge of ourselves but in Christ — Knowledge of ourselves, wherein it consisteth — Knowledge of sin, how to be had in Christ; also of righteousness and of judgment — The wisdom of walking with God hid in Christ — What is required thereunto — Other pretenders to the title of wisdom examined and rejected — Christ alone exalted.

A second consideration of the excellencies of Christ, serving to endear the hearts of them who stand with him in the relation insisted on, arises from that which, in the mistaken apprehension of it, is the great darling of men, and in its true notion the great aim of the saints; which is wisdom and knowledge. Let it be evinced that all true and solid knowledge is laid up in, and is only to be attained from and by, the Lord Jesus Christ; and the hearts of men, if they are but true to themselves and their most predominate principles, must needs be engaged to him. This is the great design of all men, taken off from professed slavery to the world, and the pursuit of sensual, licentious courses, — that they maybe wise: and what ways the generality of men engage in for the compassing of that end shall be afterward considered. To the glory and honour of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, and the establishment of our hearts in communion with him, the design of this digression is to evince that all wisdom is laid up in him, and that from him alone it is to be obtained.

1 Cor. i. 24, the Holy Ghost tells us that “Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God:” not the essential Wisdom of God, as he is the eternal Son of the Father (upon which account he is called “Wisdom” in the Proverbs, chap. viii. 22, 23); but as he is crucified, verse 23. As he is crucified, so he is the wisdom of God; that is, all that wisdom which God layeth forth for the discovery and manifestation of himself, and for the saving of sinners, which makes foolish all the wisdom of the world, — that is all in Christ crucified; held out in him, by him, and to be obtained only from him. And thereby in him do we see the glory of God, 2 Cor. iii. 18. For he is not only said to be “the wisdom of God,” but also to be “made unto us wisdom,” 1 Cor. i. 30. He is made, not by creation, but ordination and appointment, wisdom unto us; not only by teaching us wisdom (by a metonymy of the effect for the cause), as he is the great prophet of his church, but also because by the knowing of him we become acquainted with the wisdom of God, — which is our wisdom; which is a metonymy of the adjunct. This, however verily promised, is thus only to be had. The sum of what is contended for is asserted in terms, Col. ii. 3, “In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

There are two things that might seem to have some colour in claiming a title and interest in this business:— 1. Civil wisdom and prudence, for the management of affairs; 2. Ability of learning and literature; — but God rejecteth both these, as of no use at all to the end and intent of true wisdom indeed. There is in the world that which is called “understanding;” but it comes to nothing. There is that which is called “wisdom;” but it is turned into folly, 1 Cor. i. 19, 20, “God brings to nothing the understanding of the prudent, and makes foolish this wisdom of the world.” And if there be neither wisdom nor knowledge (as doubtless there is not), without the knowledge of God, Jer. viii. 9, it is all shut up in the Lord Jesus Christ: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath revealed him.” He is not seen at another time, John i. 18, nor known upon any other account, but only the revelation of the Son. He hath manifested him from his own bosom; and therefore, verse 9, it is said that he is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” — the true Light, which hath it in himself: and none hath any but from him; and all have it who come unto him. He who doth not so, is in darkness.

The sum of all true wisdom and knowledge may be reduced to these three heads:— I. The knowledge of God, his nature and his properties. II. The knowledge of ourselves in reference to the will of God concerning us. III. Skill to walk in communion with God:—

I. The knowledge of the works of God, and the chief end of all, doth necessarily attend these. 1. In these three is summed up all true wisdom and knowledge; and, 2, — Not any of them is to any purpose to be obtained, or is manifested, but only in and by the Lord Christ:—

1. God, by the work of the creation, by the creation itself, did reveal himself in many of his properties unto his creatures capable of his knowledge; — his power, his goodness, his wisdom, his all-sufficiency, are thereby known. This the apostle asserts, Rom. i. 19–21. Verse 19, he calls it τὸ γνωστὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ, — verse 20, that is, his eternal power and Godhead; and verse 21, a knowing of God: and 139all this by the creation. But yet there are some properties of God which all the works of creation cannot in any measure reveal or make known; — as his patience, long-suffering, and forbearance. For all things being made 140good, there could be no place for the exercise of any of these properties, or manifestation of them. The whole fabric of heaven and earth considered in itself, as at first created, will not discover any such thing as patience and forbearance in God;141 which yet are eminent properties of his nature, as himself proclaims and declares, Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7.

Wherefore the Lord goes farther; and by the works of his providence, in preserving and ruling the world which he made, discovers and reveals these properties also. For whereas by cursing the earth, and filling all the elements oftentimes with signs of his anger and indignation, he hath, as the apostle tells us, Rom. i. 18, “revealed from heaven his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men;” yet not proceeding immediately to destroy all things, he hath manifested his patience and forbearance to all. This Paul, Acts xiv. 16, 17, tells us: “He suffered all nations to walk in their own ways; yet he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness.” A large account of his goodness and wisdom herein the psalmist gives us, Ps. civ. throughout. By these ways he bare witness to his own goodness and patience; and so it is said, “He endures with much long-suffering,” etc., Rom. ix. 22. But now, here all the world is at a stand; by all this they have but an obscure glimpse of God, and see not so much as his back parts. Moses saw not that, until he was put into 142the rock; and that rock was Christ. There are some of the most eminent and glorious properties of God (I mean, in the manifestation whereof he will be most glorious; otherwise his properties are not to be compared) that there is not the least glimpse to be attained of out of the Lord Christ, but only by and in him; and some that comparatively we have no light of but in him; and of all the rest no true light but by him:—

(1.) Of the first sort, whereof not the least guess and imagination can enter into the heart of man but only by Christ, are love and pardoning mercy:—

[1.] Love; I mean love unto sinners. Without this, man is of all creatures most miserable; and there is not the least glimpse of it that can possibly be discovered but in Christ. The Holy Ghost says, 1 John iv. 8, 16, “God is love;” that is, not only of a loving and tender nature, but one that will exercise himself in a dispensation of his love, eternal love, towards us, — one that hath purposes of love for us from of old, and will fulfil them all towards us in due season. But how is this demonstrated? how may we attain an acquaintance with it? He tells us, verse 9, “In this was manifested the love of God, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” This is the only discovery that God hath made of any such property in his nature, or of any thought of exercising it towards sinners, — in that he hath sent Jesus Christ into the world, that we might live by him. Where now is the wise, where is the scribe, where is the disputer of this world, with all their wisdom? Their voice must be that of the hypocrites in Zion, Isa. xxxiii. 14, 15. That wisdom which cannot teach me that God is love, shall ever pass for folly. Let men go to the sun, moon, and stars, to showers of rain and fruitful seasons, and answer truly what by them they learn hereof. Let them not think themselves wiser or better than those that went before them, who, to a man, got nothing by them, but being left inexcusable.

[2.] Pardoning mercy, or grace. Without this, even his love would be fruitless. What discovery may be made of this by a sinful man, may be seen in the father of us all; who, when he had sinned, had no reserve for mercy, but hid himself, Gen. iii. 8. He did it לְרוּחַ הַיּוֹם, when the wind did but a little blow at the presence of God; and he did it foolishly, thinking to “hide himself among trees!” Ps. cxxxix. 7, 8. “The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,” John i. 17, — grace in the truth and substance. Pardoning mercy, that comes by Christ alone; that pardoning mercy which is manifested in the gospel, and wherein God will be glorified to all eternity, Eph. i. 6. I mean not that general mercy, that velleity of acceptance which some put their hopes in:143 that πάθος (which to ascribe unto God is the greatest dishonour that can be done him) shines not with one ray out of Christ; it is wholly treasured up in him, and revealed by him. Pardoning mercy is God’s free, gracious acceptance of a sinner upon satisfaction made to his justice in the blood of Jesus; nor is any discovery of it, but as relating to the satisfaction of justice, consistent with the glory of God. It is a mercy of inconceivable condescension in forgiveness, tempered with exact justice and severity. Rom. iii. 25, God is said “to set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness in the remission of sins;” 144his righteousness is also manifested in the business of forgiveness of sins: and therefore it is everywhere said to be wholly in Christ, Eph. i. 7. So that this gospel grace and pardoning mercy is alone purchased by him, and revealed in him. And this was the main end of all typical institutions, — to manifest that remission and forgiveness is wholly wrapped up in the Lord Christ, and that out of him there is not the least conjecture to be made of it, nor the least morsel to be tasted. Had not God set forth145 the Lord Christ, all the angels in heaven and men on earth could not have apprehended that there had been any such thing in the nature of God as this grace of pardoning mercy. The apostle asserts the full manifestation as well as the exercise of this mercy to be in Christ only, Tit. iii. 4, 5, “After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared,” — namely, in the sending of Christ, and the declaration of him in the gospel. Then was this pardoning mercy and salvation not by works discovered.

And these are of those properties of God whereby he will be known, whereof there is not the least glimpse to be obtained but by and in Christ; and whoever knows him not by these, knows him not at all. They know an idol, and not the only true God. He that hath not the Son, the same hath not the Father, 1 John ii. 23; and not to have God as a Father, is not to have him at all; and he is known as a Father only as he is love, and full of pardoning mercy in Christ. How this is to be had the Holy Ghost tells us, 1 John v. 20, “The Son of God is come and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true.” By him alone we have our understanding to know him that is true. Now, these properties of God Christ revealeth in his doctrine, in the revelation he makes of God and his will, as the great prophet of the church, John xvii. 6. And on this account the knowledge of them is exposed to all, with an evidence unspeakably surmounting that which is given by the creation to his eternal power and Godhead. But the life of this knowledge lies in an acquaintance with his person, wherein the express image and beams of this glory of his Father do shine forth, Heb. i. 3; of which before.

(2.) There are other properties of God which, though also otherwise discovered, yet are so clearly, eminently, and savingly only in Jesus Christ; as, — [1.] His vindictive justice in punishing sin; [2.] His patience, forbearance, and long-suffering towards sinners; [3.] His wisdom, in managing things for his own glory; [4.] His all-sufficiency, in himself and unto others. All these, though they may receive some lower and inferior manifestations out of Christ, yet they clearly shine only in him; so as that it may be our wisdom to be acquainted with them.

[1.] His vindictive justice. God hath, indeed, many ways manifested his indignation and anger against sin; so that men cannot but know that it is “the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death,” Rom. i. 32. He hath in the law threatened to kindle a fire in his anger that shall burn to the very heart of hell. And even in many providential dispensations, “his wrath is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness of men,” Rom. i. 18. So that men must say that he is a God of judgment. And he that shall but consider that the angels for sin were cast from heaven, shut up under chains of everlasting darkness unto the judgment of the great day (the146 rumour whereof seems to have been spread among the Gentiles, whence the poet makes his Jupiter threaten the inferior rebellious deities with that punishment); and how Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned with an overthrow, and burned into ashes, that they might be “examples unto those that should after live ungodly,” 2 Pet. ii. 6; cannot but discover much of God’s vindictive justice and his anger against sin. But far more clear doth this shine into us in the Lord Christ:—

1st. In him God hath manifested the naturalness of this righteousness unto him, in that it was impossible that it should be diverted from sinners without the interposing of a propitiation. Those who lay the necessity of satisfaction merely upon the account of a free act and determination of the will of God, leave, to my apprehension, no just and indispensable147 foundation for the death of Christ, but lay it upon a supposition of that which might have been otherwise. But plainly, God, in that he148 spared not his only Son, but made his soul an offering for sin, and would admit of no atonement but in his blood, hath abundantly manifested that it is of necessity to him (his holiness and righteousness requiring it) to render indignation, wrath, tribulation, and anguish unto sin. And the knowledge of this naturalness of vindictive justice, with the necessity of its execution on supposition of sin, is the only true and useful knowledge of it. To look upon it as that which God may exercise or forbear, makes his justice not a property of his nature, but a free act of his will; and a will to punish where one may do otherwise without injustice, is rather ill-will than justice.

2dly. In the penalty inflicted on Christ for sin, this justice is far more gloriously manifested than otherwise. To see, indeed, a world, made149 good and beautiful, wrapped up in wrath and curses, clothed with thorns and briers; to see the whole beautiful creation made subject to vanity, given up to the bondage of corruption; to hear it groan in pain under that burden; to consider legions of angels, most glorious and immortal creatures, cast down into hell, bound with chains of darkness, and reserved for a more dreadful judgment for one sin; to view the ocean of the blood of souls spilt to eternity on this account, — will give some insight into this thing. But what is all this to that view of it which may be had by a spiritual eye in the Lord Christ? All these things are worms, and of no value in comparison of him. To see him who is the150 wisdom of God, and the power of God, always151 beloved of the Father; to see him, I say, fear,152 and tremble, and bow, and sweat, and pray, and die; to see him lifted up upon the cross, the earth trembling under him, as if unable to bear his weight; and the heavens darkened over him, as if shut against his cry; and himself hanging between both, as if refused by both; and all this because our sins did meet upon him; — this of all things doth most abundantly manifest the severity of God’s vindictive justice. Here, or nowhere, is it to be learned.

[2.] His patience, forbearance, and long-suffering towards sinners. There are many glimpses of the patience of God shining out in the works of his providence; but all exceedingly beneath that discovery of it which we have in Christ, especially in these three things:—

1st. The manner of its discovery. This, indeed, is evident to all, that God doth not ordinarily immediately punish men upon their offences. It may be learned from his constant way in governing the world: notwithstanding all provocations, yet he doth 153good to men; causing his sun to shine upon them, sending them rain and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness. Hence it was easy for them to conclude that there was in him abundance of goodness and forbearance. But all this is yet in much darkness, being the exurgency of men’s reasonings from their observations; yea, the management of it [God’s patience] hath been such as that it hath proved a snare almost universally unto them towards whom it hath been exercised, Eccles. viii. 11, as well as a temptation to them who have looked on, Job xxi. 7; Ps. lxxiii. 2–4, etc.; Jer. xii. 1; Hab. i. 13. The discovery of it in Christ is utterly of another nature. In him the very nature of God is discovered to be love and kindness; and that he will exercise the same to sinners, he hath promised, sworn, and solemnly engaged himself by covenant. And that we may not hesitate about the aim which he hath herein, there is a stable bottom and foundation of acting suitably to those gracious properties of his nature held forth, — namely, the reconciliation and atonement that is made in the blood of Christ. Whatever discovery were made of the patience and lenity of God unto us, yet if it were not withal revealed that the other properties of God, as his justice and revenge for sin, had their actings also assigned to them to the full, there could be little consolation gathered from the former. And therefore, though God may teach men his goodness and forbearance, by sending them rain and fruitful seasons, yet withal at the same time, upon all occasions, “revealing his wrath from heaven against the ungodliness of men,” Rom. i. 18, it is impossible that they should do any thing but miserably fluctuate and tremble at the event of these dispensations; and yet this is the best that men can have out of Christ, the utmost they can attain unto. With the present possession of good things administered in this patience, men might, and did for a season, take up their thoughts and satiate themselves; but yet they were not in the least delivered from the154 bondage they were in by reason of death, and the darkness attending it. The law reveals no patience or forbearance in God; it speaks, as to the issue of transgressions, nothing but sword and fire, had not God interposed by an act of sovereignty. But now, as was said, with that revelation of forbearance which we have in Christ, there is also a discovery of the satisfaction of his justice and wrath against sin; so that we need not fear any actings from them to interfere with the works of his patience, which are so sweet unto us. Hence God is said to be “in Christ, reconciling the world to himself,” 2 Cor. v. 19; manifesting himself in him as one that hath now no more to do for the manifestation of all his attributes, — that is, for the glorifying of himself, — but only to forbear, reconcile, and pardon sin in him.

2dly. In the nature of it. What is there in that forbearance which out of Christ is revealed? Merely a not immediate punishing upon the155 offence, and, withal, giving and continuing temporal mercies; such things as men are prone to abuse, and may perish with their bosoms full of them to eternity. That which lies hid in Christ, and is revealed from him, is full of love, sweetness, tenderness, kindness, grace. It is the Lord’s waiting to be gracious to sinners; waiting for an advantage to show love and kindness, for the most eminent endearing of a soul unto himself, Isa. xxx. 18, “Therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you.” Neither is there any revelation of God that the soul finds more sweetness in than this. When it [one’s soul] is experimentally convinced that God from time to time hath passed by many, innumerable iniquities, he is astonished to think that God should do so; and admires that he did not take the advantage of his provocations to cast him out of his presence. He finds that, with infinite wisdom, in all long-suffering, he hath managed all his dispensations towards him to recover him from the power of the devil, to rebuke and chasten his spirit for sin, to endear him unto himself; — there is, I say, nothing of greater sweetness to the soul than this: and therefore the apostle says, Rom. iii. 25, that all is “through the forbearance of God.” God makes way for complete forgiveness of sins through this his forbearance; which the other doth not.

3dly. They differ in their ends and aims. What is the aim and design of God in the dispensation of that forbearance which is manifested and may be discovered out of Christ? The apostle tells us, Rom. ix. 22, “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction?” It was but to leave them inexcusable, that his power and wrath against sin might be manifested in their destruction. And therefore he calls it “a suffering of them to walk in their own ways,” Acts xiv. 16; which elsewhere he holds out as a most dreadful judgment, — to wit, in respect of that issue whereto it will certainly come; as Ps. lxxxi. 12, “I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lusts, and they walked in their own counsels:” which is as dreadful a156 condition as a creature is capable of falling into in this world. And Acts xvii. 30, he calls it a “winking at the sins of their ignorance;” as it were taking no care nor thought of them in their dark condition, as it appears by the antithesis, “But now he commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” He did not take so much notice of them then as to command them to repent, by any clear revelation of his mind and will. And therefore the exhortation of the apostle, Rom. ii. 4, “Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” is spoken to the Jews, who had advantages to learn the natural tendency of that goodness and forbearance which God exercises in Christ; which, indeed, leads to repentance: or else he doth in general intimate that, in very reason, men ought to make another use of those things than usually they do, and which he chargeth them withal, verse 5, “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart,” etc. At157 best, then, the patience of God unto men out of Christ, by reason of their own incorrigible stubbornness, proves but like the waters of the river Phasis, that are sweet at the top and bitter in the bottom; they swim for a while in the sweet and good things of this life, Luke xvi. 25; wherewith being filled, they sink to the depth of all bitterness.

But now, evidently and directly, the end of that patience and forbearance of God which is exercised in Christ, and discovered in him to us, is the saving and bringing into God those towards whom he is pleased to exercise them. And therefore Peter tells you, 2 Pet. iii. 9, that he is “long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance;” — that is, all us towards whom he exercises forbearance; for that is the end of it, that his will concerning our repentance and salvation may be accomplished. And the nature of it, with its end, is well expressed, Isa. liv. 9, “This is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth,” etc. It is God’s taking a course, in his infinite wisdom and goodness, that we shall not be destroyed notwithstanding our sins; and therefore, Rom. xv. 5, these two things are laid together in God, as coming together from him, “The God of patience and consolation:” his patience is a matter of the greatest consolation. And this is another property of God, which, though it may break forth in some rays, to some ends and purposes, in other things, yet the treasures of it are hid in Christ; and none is acquainted with it, unto any spiritual advantage, that learns it not in him.

[3.] His wisdom, his infinite wisdom, in managing things for his own glory, and the good of them towards whom he hath thoughts of love. The Lord, indeed, hath laid out and manifested infinite wisdom158 in his works of creation, providence, and governing of his world: in wisdom hath he made all his creatures. “How manifold are his works! in wisdom hath he made them all; the earth is full of his riches,” Ps. civ. 24. So in his providence, his supportment and guidance of all things, in order to one another, and his own glory, unto the ends appointed for them; for all these things “come forth from the Lord of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working,” Isa. xxviii. 29. His law also is for ever to be admired, for the excellency of the wisdom therein, Deut. iv. 7, 8. But yet there is that which Paul is astonished at, and wherein God will for ever be exalted, which he calls, “The depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God,” Rom. xi. 33; — that is only hid in and revealed by Christ. Hence, as he is said to be “the159 wisdom of God,” and to be “made unto us wisdom;” so the design of God, which is carried along in him, and revealed in the gospel, is called “the wisdom of God,” and a “mystery; even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world was; which none of the princes of this world knew,” 1 Cor. ii. 7, 8. Eph. iii. 10, it is called, “The manifold wisdom of God;” and to discover the depth and riches of this wisdom, he tells us in that verse that it is such, that principalities and powers, that very angels themselves, could not in the least measure get any acquaintance with it, until God, by gathering of a church of sinners, did actually discover it. Hence Peter informs us, that they who are so well acquainted with all the works of God, do yet bow down and desire with earnestness to look into these things (the things of the wisdom of God in the gospel), 1 Pet. i. 12. It asks a man much wisdom to make a curious work, fabric, and building; but if one shall come and deface it, to raise up the same building to more beauty and glory than ever, this is excellence of wisdom indeed. God in the beginning made all things good, glorious, and beautiful. When all things had an innocence and beauty, the clear impress160 of his wisdom and goodness upon them, they were very glorious; especially man, who was made for his special glory. Now, all this beauty was defaced by sin, and the whole161 creation rolled up in darkness, wrath, curses, confusion, and the great praise of God buried in the heaps of it. Man, especially, was utterly lost, and came short of the glory of God, for which he was created, Rom. iii. 23. Here, now, doth the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God open itself. A design in Christ shines out from his bosom, that was lodged there from eternity, to recover things to such an estate as shall be exceedingly to the advantage of his glory, infinitely above what at first appeared, and for the putting of sinners into inconceivably a better condition than they were in before the entrance of sin. He appears now glorious; he is known to be a God 162pardoning iniquity and sin, and advances the riches of his grace: which was his design, Eph. i. 6. He hath infinitely vindicated his justice also, in the face of men, angels, and devils, in setting forth his Son for a 163propitiation. It is also to our advantage; we are more fully established in his favour, and are carried on towards a more exceeding 164weight of glory than formerly was revealed. Hence was that ejaculation of one of the ancients, “O felix culpa, quæ talem meruit redemptorem!” Thus Paul tells us, “Great is the mystery of godliness,” 1 Tim. iii. 16, and that “without controversy.” We receive “grace for grace;”165 — for that grace lost in Adam, better grace in Christ. Confessedly, this is a depth of wisdom indeed. And of the love of Christ to his church, and his union with it, to carry on this business, “This is a great mystery,” Eph. v. 32, says the apostle; great wisdom lies herein.

So, then, this also is hid in Christ, — the great and unspeakable riches of the wisdom of God, in pardoning sin, saving sinners, satisfying justice, fulfilling the law, repairing his own honour, and providing for us a more exceeding weight of glory; and all this out of such a condition as wherein it was impossible that it should enter into the hearts of angels or men how ever the glory of God should be repaired, and one sinning creature delivered from everlasting ruin. Hence it is said, that at the last day God “shall be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe,” 2 Thess. i. 10. It shall be an admirable thing, and God shall be for ever glorious in it, even in the bringing of believers to himself. To save sinners through believing, shall be found to be a far more admirable work than to create the world of nothing.

[4.] His all-sufficiency is the last of this sort that I shall name.

God’s all-sufficiency in himself is his absolute and universal perfection, whereby nothing is wanting in him, nothing to him: No accession can be made to his fulness, no decrease or wasting can happen thereunto. There is also in him an all-sufficiency for others; which is his power to impart and communicate his goodness and himself so to them as to satisfy and fill them, in their utmost capacity, with whatever is good and desirable to them. For the first of these, — his all-sufficiency for the communication of his goodness, that is, in the outward effect of it, — God abundantly manifested in the creation, in that he made all things good, all things perfect; that is, to whom nothing was wanting in their own kind; — he put a stamp of his own goodness upon them all. But now for the latter, — his giving himself as an all-sufficient God, to be enjoyed by the creatures, to hold out all that is in him for the satiating and making them blessed, — that is alone discovered by and in Christ. In him he is a Father, a God in covenant, wherein he hath promised to lay out himself for them; in him hath he promised to give himself into their everlasting fruition, as their exceeding great reward.

And so I have insisted on the second sort of properties in God, whereof, though we have some obscure glimpse in other things, yet the clear knowledge of them, and acquaintance with them, is only to be had in the Lord Christ.

That which remaineth is, briefly to declare that not any of the properties of God whatever can be known, savingly and to consolation, but only in him; and so, consequently, all the wisdom of the knowledge of God is hid in him alone, and from him to be obtained.

2. There is no saving knowledge of any property of God, nor such as brings consolation, but what alone is to be had in Christ Jesus, being laid up in him, and manifested by him. Some eye the justice of God, and know that this is his righteousness, “that they which do such things” (as sin) “are worthy of death,” Rom. i. 32. But this is to no other end but to make them cry, “Who amongst us shall dwell with the devouring fire?” Isa. xxxiii. 14. Others fix upon his patience, goodness, mercy, forbearance; but it doth not at all lead them to repentance; but “they despise the riches of his goodness, and after their hardness and impenitent hearts treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath,” Rom. ii. 4, 5. Others, by the very works of creation and providence, come to know “his eternal power and Godhead; but they glorify him not as God, nor are thankful, but become vain in their imagination, and their foolish hearts are darkened,” Rom. i. 20. Whatever discovery men have of truth out of Christ, they “hold it captive under unrighteousness,” verse 18. Hence Jude tells us, verse 10, that “in what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.”

That we may have a saving knowledge of the properties of God, attended with consolation, these three things are required:— (1.) That God hath manifested the glory of them all in a way of doing good unto us. (2.) That he will yet exercise and lay them out to the utmost in our behalf. (3.) That, being so manifested and exercised, they are fit and powerful to bring us to the everlasting fruition of himself; which is our blessedness. Now, all these three lie hid in Christ; and the least glimpse of them out of him is not to be attained.

(1.) This is to be received, that God hath actually manifested the glory of all his attributes in a way of doing us good. What will it avail our souls, what comfort will it bring unto us, what endearment will it put upon our hearts unto God, to know that he is infinitely righteous, just, and holy, unchangeably true and faithful, if we know not how he may preserve the glory of his justice and faithfulness in his comminations and threatenings, but only in our ruin and destruction? if we can from thence only say it is a righteous thing with him to recompense tribulation unto us for our iniquities? What fruit of this consideration had Adam in the garden? Gen. iii. What sweetness, what encouragement, is there in knowing that he is patient and full of forbearance, if the glory of these is to be exalted in enduring the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction? nay, what will it avail us to hear him proclaim himself “The Lord, The Lord God,166 merciful and gracious, abundant in goodness and truth,” yet, withal, that he will “by no means clear the guilty,” — so shutting up the exercise of all his other properties towards us, upon the account of our iniquity? Doubtless, not at all. Under this naked consideration of the properties of God, justice will make men fly and hide, Gen. iii.; Isa. ii. 21, xxxiii. 15, 16; — patience, render them obdurate, Eccles. viii. 11. Holiness utterly deters them from all thoughts of approach unto him, Josh. xxiv. 19. What relief have we from thoughts of his immensity and omnipresence, if we have cause only to contrive how to fly from him (Ps. cxxxix. 11, 12), if we have no pledge of his gracious presence with us? This is that which brings salvation, when we shall see that God hath glorified all his properties in a way of doing us good. Now, this he hath done in Jesus Christ. In him hath he made his justice glorious, in making all our iniquities to167 meet upon him, causing him to bear them all, as the scape-goat in the wilderness; not sparing him, but giving him up to death for us all; — so exalting his justice and indignation against sin in a way of freeing us from the condemnation of it, Rom. iii. 25, viii. 33, 34. In him hath he made his truth glorious, and his faithfulness, in the exact accomplishment of all his absolute threatenings and promises. That fountain-threat and commination whence all others flow, Gen. ii. 17, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt die the death;” seconded with a curse, Deut. xxvii. 26, “Cursed is every one that continueth not,” etc. [Gal. iii. 10] — is in him accomplished, fulfilled, and the truth of God in them laid in a way to our good. He, by the grace of God, tasted death for us, Heb. ii. 9; and so delivered us who were subject to death, verse 15; and he hath fulfilled the curse, by being made a curse for us, Gal. iii. 13. So that in his very threatenings his truth is made glorious in a way to our good. And for his promises, “They are all yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us,” 2 Cor. i. 20. And for his mercy, goodness, and the riches of his grace, how eminently are they made glorious in Christ, and advanced for our good! God hath set him forth to declare his righteousness for the forgiveness of sin; he hath made way in him for ever to exalt the glory of his pardoning mercy towards sinners. To manifest this is the great design of the gospel, as Paul admirably sets it out, Eph. i. 5–8. There must our souls come to an acquaintance with them, or for ever live in darkness.

Now, this is a saving knowledge, and full of consolation, when we can see all the properties of God made glorious and exalted in a way of doing us good. And this wisdom is hid only in Jesus Christ. Hence, when he desired his Father to glorify his name, John xii. 24, — to make in him his name (that is, his nature, his properties, his will) all glorious in that work of redemption he had in hand, — he was instantly answered from heaven, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” He will give it its utmost glory in him.

(2.) That God will yet exercise and lay out those properties of his to the utmost in our behalf. Though he hath made them all glorious in a way that may tend to our good, yet it doth not absolutely follow that he will use them for our good; for do we not see innumerable persons perishing everlastingly, notwithstanding the manifestation of himself which God hath made in Christ. Wherefore farther, God hath committed all his properties into the hand of Christ if I may so say, to be managed in our behalf, and for our good. He168 is “The power of God, and the wisdom of God;” he is “The Lord our Righteousness,” and is “made unto us of God wisdom, and righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” Christ having glorified his Father in all his attributes, he hath now the exercise of them committed to him, that he might be the captain of salvation to them that do believe; so that if, in the righteousness, the goodness, the love, the mercy, the all-sufficiency of God, there be any thing that will do us good, the Lord Jesus is fully interested with the dispensing of it in our behalf. Hence God is said to be “in him, reconciling the world unto himself,” 2 Cor. v. 18. Whatever is in him, he layeth it out for the reconciliation of the world, in and by the Lord Christ; and he becomes “The Lord our Righteousness,” Isa. xlv. 24, 25. And this is the second thing required.

(3.) There remaineth only, then, that these attributes of God, so manifested and exercised, are powerful and able to bring us to the everlasting fruition of him. To evince this, the Lord wraps up the whole covenant of grace in one promise, signifying no less: “I will be your God.” In the covenant, God becomes our God, and we are his people; and thereby all his attributes are ours also. And lest that we should doubt — when once our eyes are opened to see in any measure the inconceivable difficulty that is in this thing, what unimaginable obstacles on all hands there lie against us — that all is not enough to deliver and save us, God hath, I say, wrapped it up in this expression, Gen. xvii. 1, “I am,” saith he,169 “God Almighty” (all-sufficient); — “I am wholly able to perform all my undertakings, and to be thy exceeding great reward. I can remove all difficulties, answer all objections, pardon all sins, conquer all opposition: I am God all-sufficient.” Now, you know in whom this covenant and all the promises thereof are ratified, and in whose blood it is confirmed, — to wit, in the Lord Christ alone; in him only is God an all-sufficient God to any, and an exceeding great reward. And hence Christ himself is said to “save to the uttermost them that come to God by him,” Heb. vii. And these three things, I say, are required to be known, that we may have a saving acquaintance, and such as is attended with consolation, with any of the properties of God; and all these being hid only in Christ, from him alone it is to be obtained.

This, then, is the first part of our first demonstration, — that all true and sound wisdom and knowledge is laid up in the Lord Christ, and from him alone to be obtained; because our wisdom, consisting, in a main part of it, in the knowledge of God, his nature, and his properties, this lies wholly hid in Christ, nor can possibly be obtained but by him.

II. For the knowledge of ourselves, which is the second part of our170 wisdom, this consists in these three things, which our Saviour sends his Spirit to convince the world of, — even “sin, righteousness, and judgment,” John xvi. 8. To know ourselves in reference unto these three, is a main part of true and sound wisdom; for they all respect the supernatural and immortal end whereunto we are appointed; and there is none of these that we can attain unto but only in Christ.

1. In respect of sin. There is a sense and knowledge of sin left in the consciences of all men by nature. To tell them what is good and evil in many things, to approve and disapprove of what they do, in reference to a judgment to come, they need not go farther than themselves, Rom. ii. 14, 15. But this is obscure, and relates mostly to greater sins, and is in sum that which the apostle gives us, Rom. i. 32, “They know the judgment of God, that they which do such things are worthy of death.” This he placeth among the common presumptions and notions that are received by mankind, — namely, that it is171 “righteous with God, that they who do such things are worthy of death.” And if that be true, which is commonly received, that no nation is so barbarous or rude, but it retaineth some sense of a Deity; then this also is true, that there is no nation but hath a sense of sin, and the displeasure of God for it. For this is the very first172 notion of God in the world, that he is the rewarder of good and evil. Hence were all the sacrifices, purgings, expiations, which were so generally spread over the face of the earth. But this was and is but very dark, in respect of that knowledge of sin with its appurtenances, which is to be obtained.

A farther knowledge of sin, upon all accounts whatever, is giver by the law; that law which was “added because of transgressions.” This173 revives doctrinally all that sense of good and evil which was at first implanted in man; and it is a glass, whereinto whosoever is able spiritually to look, may see sin in all its ugliness and deformity. The truth is, look upon the law in its purity, holiness, compass, and perfection; its manner of delivery,174 with dread, terror, thunder, earthquakes, fire; the sanction of it, in death, curse, wrath; and it makes a wonderful discovery of sin, upon every account: its pollution, guilt, and exceeding sinfulness are seen by it. But yet all this doth not suffice to give a man a true and thorough conviction of sin. Not but that the glass is clear, but of ourselves we have not eyes to look into it; the rule is straight, but we cannot apply it: and therefore Christ sends his Spirit to convince the world of sin, John xvi. 8; who, though, as to some ends and purposes, he makes use of the law, yet the work of conviction, which alone is a useful knowledge of sin, is his peculiar work. And so the discovery of sin may also be said to be by Christ, — to be part of the wisdom that is hid in him. But yet there is a twofold regard besides this, of his sending his Spirit to convince us, wherein this wisdom appears to be hid in him:— First, because there are some near concernments of sin, which are more clearly held out in the Lord Christ’s being made sin for us, than any other way. Secondly, in that there is no knowledge to be had of sin, so as to give it a spiritual and saving improvement, but only in him.

For the first, there are four things in sin that clearly shine out in the cross of Christ:— (1.) The desert of it. (2.) Man’s impotency by reason of it. (3.) The death of it. (4.) A new end put to it.

(1.) The desert of sin doth clearly shine in the cross of Christ upon a twofold account:— [1.] Of the person suffering for it. [2.] Of the penalty he underwent.

[1.] Of the person suffering for it. This the Scripture oftentimes very emphatically sets forth, and lays great weight upon: John iii. 16, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” It was his only Son that God sent into the world to suffer for sin, Rom. viii. 32. “He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all.” To see a slave beaten and corrected, it argues a fault committed; but yet perhaps the demerit of it was not very great. The correction of a son argues a great provocation; that of an only son, the greatest imaginable. Never was sin seen to be more abominably sinful and full of provocation, than when the burden of it was upon the shoulders of the Son of God. God having made his Son, the Son of his love, his only begotten, full of grace and truth,175 sin for us, to manifest his indignation against it, and how utterly impossible it is that he should let the least sin go unpunished, he lays176 hand on him, and spares him not. If177 sin be imputed to the dear Son of his bosom, as upon his own voluntary assumption of it it was (for he said to his Father, “Lo, I come to do thy will,” and all our iniquities did meet on him), [and] he will not spare him any thing of the due desert of it; is it not most clear from hence, even from the blood of the cross of Christ, that such is the demerit of sin, that it is altogether impossible that God should pass by any, the least, unpunished? If he would have done it for any, he would have done it in reference to his only Son; but he spared him not.

Moreover, God is not at all delighted with, nor desirous of, the blood, the tears, the cries, the inexpressible torments and sufferings, of the Son of his love (for he delights not in the anguish of any, — “he doth not178 afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men,” much less the Son of his bosom); only he required that his law be fulfilled, his justice satisfied, his wrath atoned for sin; and nothing less than all this would bring it about. If the debt of sin might have been compounded for at a cheaper rate, it had never been held up at the price of the blood of Christ. Here, then, soul, take a view of the desert of sin; behold it far more evident than in all the threatenings and curses of the law. “I thought, indeed,” mayest thou say from thence, “that sin, being found on such a poor worm as I am, was worthy of death; but that it should have this effect if charged on the Son of God, — that I never once imagined.”

[2.] Consider also, farther, what he suffered. For though he was so excellent a one, yet perhaps it was but a light affliction and trial that he underwent, especially considering the strength he had to bear it. Why, whatever it were, it made this179 “fellow of the Lord of hosts,” this180 “lion of the tribe of Judah,” this181 “mighty one,” “the182 wisdom and power of God,” to tremble,183 sweat, cry, pray, wrestle, and that with strong supplications. Some of the popish devotionists tell us that one drop, the least, of the blood of Christ, was abundantly enough to redeem all the world; but they err, not knowing the desert of sin, nor the severity of the justice of God. If one drop less than was shed, one pang less than was laid on, would have done it, those other drops had not been shed, nor those other pangs laid on. God did not cruciate the dearly-beloved of his soul for nought. But there is more than all this:—

It pleased God to 184bruise him, to put him to grief, to make his soul an offering for sin, and to pour out his life unto death. He 185hid himself from him, — was far from the voice of his cry, until he cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” He made him 186sin and a 187curse for us; executed on him the sentence of the law; brought him into an agony, wherein he sweat thick drops of blood, was grievously troubled, and his soul was heavy unto death. He that was the power of God, and the wisdom of God, went stooping under the burden, until the whole frame of nature seemed astonished at it. Now this, as I said before that it discovered the indignation of God against sin, so it clearly holds out the desert of it. Would you, then, see the true demerit of sin? — take the measure of it from the mediation of Christ, especially his cross. It brought him who was the Son of God, equal unto God, God blessed for ever, into the form of a 188servant, who had not where to lay his head. It pursued him all his life with afflictions and persecutions; and lastly brought him under the rod of God; there bruised him and brake him, — 189slew the Lord of life. Hence is deep humiliation for it, upon the account of him whom we 190have pierced. And this is the first spiritual view of sin we have in Christ.

(2.) The wisdom of understanding our impotency, by reason of sin, is wrapped up in him. By our impotency, I understand two things:— [1.] Our disability to make any atonement with God for sin. [2.] Our disability to answer his mind and will, in all or any of the obedience that he requireth, by reason of sin.

[1.] For the first, that alone is discovered in Christ. Many inquiries have the sons of men made after an atonement, — many ways have they entered into to accomplish it. After this they inquire, Mic. vi. 6, 7, “Will any manner of sacrifices, though appointed of God, as burnt-offerings, and calves of a year old; though very costly, thousands of rams, and ten thousand rivers of oil; though dreadful and tremendous, offering violence to nature, as to give my children to the fire;” — will any of these things make an atonement? David doth positively, indeed, determine this business, Ps. xlix. 7, 8, “None of them” (of the best or richest of men) “can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him; for the redemption of their soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever.” It cannot be done, — no atonement can be made; yet men would still be doing, still attempting: hence did they heap up191 sacrifices, some costly, some bloody and inhuman. The Jews, to this day, think that God was atoned for sin by the sacrifices of bulls and goats, and the like. And the Socinians acknowledge no atonement, but what consists in men’s repentance and new obedience. In the cross of Christ are the mouths of all stopped as to this thing. For, —

1st. God hath there discovered that no sacrifices for sin, though of his own appointment, could ever make them perfect that offered them, Heb. x. 11. Those sacrifices could never take away sin;192 — those services could never make them perfect that performed them, as to the conscience, Heb. ix. 9; as the apostle proves, chap. x. 1. And thence the Lord rejects all sacrifices and offerings whatever, as to any such end and purpose, verses 6–8, Christ, in their stead, saying, “Lo, I come;” and by him we are “justified from all things, from which we could not be justified by the law,” Acts xiii. 39: God, I say, in Christ, hath condemned all sacrifices, as wholly insufficient in the least to make an atonement for sin. And how great a thing it was to instruct the sons of men in this wisdom, the event hath manifested.

2dly. He hath also written vanity on all other endeavours whatever, that have been undertaken for that purpose. Rom. iii. 24–26, by setting forth his only Son “to be a propitiation,” he leaves no doubt upon the spirits of men that in themselves they could make no atonement; for “if righteousness were by the law, then were Christ dead in vain.” To what purpose should he be made a propitiation, were not we ourselves weak and without strength to any such purpose? So the apostle argues, Rom. v. 6, when we had no power, then did he by death make an atonement; as verses 8, 9.

This, wisdom then, is also hid in Christ. Men may see by other helps, perhaps, far enough to fill them with dread and astonishment, as those in Isa. xxxiii. 14; but such a sight and view of it as may lead a soul to any comfortable settlement about it, — that only is discovered in this treasury of heaven, the Lord Jesus.

[2.] Our disability to answer the mind and will of God, in all or any of the obedience that he requireth, is in him only to be discovered. This, indeed, is a thing that many will not be acquainted with to this day. To teach a man that he cannot do what he ought to do, and for which he condemns himself if he do it not, is no easy task. Man rises up with all his power to plead against a conviction of impotency. Not to mention the proud193 conceits and expressions of the philosophers, how many that would be called Christians do yet creep, by several degrees, in the persuasion of a power of fulfilling the law! And from whence, indeed, should men have this knowledge that we have not? Nature will not teach it, — that is194 proud and conceited; and it is one part of its pride, weakness, and corruption, not to know it at all. The law will not teach it: for though that will show us what we have done amiss, yet it will not discover to us that we could not do better; yea, by requiring exact obedience of us, it takes for granted that such power is in us for that purpose: it takes no notice that we have lost it; nor doth it concern it so to do. This, then, also lies hid in the Lord Jesus. Rom. viii. 2–4, “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us.” The law can bring forth no righteousness, no obedience; it is weak to any such purpose, by reason of the flesh, and that corruption that is come on us. These two things are done in Christ, and by him:— First, Sin is condemned as to its guilt, and we set free from that; the righteousness of the law by his obedience is fulfilled in us, who could never do it ourselves. And, secondly, That obedience which is required of us, his Spirit works it in us. So that that perfection of obedience which we have in him is imputed to us; and the sincerity that we have in obedience is from his Spirit bestowed on us. And this is the most excellent glass, wherein we see our impotency; for what need we his perfect obedience to be made ours, but that we have not, can not attain any? what need we his Spirit of life to quicken us, but that we are dead in trespasses and sins?

(3.) The death of sin; — sin dying in us now, in some measure, whilst we are alive. This is a third concernment of sin which it is our wisdom to be acquainted with; and it is hid only in Christ. There is a twofold dying of sin:— as to the exercise of it in our mortal members; and as to the root, principle, and power of it in our souls. The first, indeed, may be learned in part out of Christ. Christless men may have sin dying in them, as to the outward exercise of it. Men’s bodies may be disabled for the service of their lusts, or the practice of them may not consist with their interest. Sin is never more alive195 than when it is thus dying. But there is a dying of it as to the root, the principle of it, — the daily decaying of the strength, power, and life of it; and this is to be had alone in Christ. Sin is a thing that of itself is not apt to die or to decay, but to get ground, and strength, and life, in the subject wherein it is, to eternity; prevent all its actual eruptions, yet its original enmity against God will still grow. In believers it is still dying and decaying, until it be utterly abolished. The opening of this treasury [mystery?] you have, Rom. vi. 3–6, etc. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus Christ were baptised into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” This is the design of the apostle in the beginning of that chapter, not only to manifest whence is the principle and rise of our mortification and the death of sin, even from the death and blood of Christ; but also the manner of sin’s continuance and dying in us, from the manner of Christ’s dying for sin. He was crucified for us, and thereby sin was crucified in us; he died for us, and the body of sin is destroyed, that we should not serve sin; and as he was raised from the dead, that death should not have dominion over him, so also are we raised from sin, that it should not have dominion over us. This wisdom is hid in Christ only. Moses at his dying day had all his strength and vigour; so have sin and the law to all out of Jesus: at their dying day, sin is no way decayed. Now, next to the receiving of the righteousness prepared for us, to know this is the chiefest part of our wisdom. To be truly acquainted with the principle of the dying of sin, to feel virtue and power flowing from the cross of Christ to that purpose, to find sin crucified in us, as Christ was crucified for us, — this is wisdom indeed, that is in him alone.

(4.) There is a glorious end whereunto sin is appointed and ordained, and discovered in Christ, that others are unacquainted withal. Sin in its own nature tends merely to the dishonour of God, the debasement of his majesty, and the ruin of the creature in whom it is; hell itself is but the filling of wretched creatures with the196 fruit of their own devices. The comminations and threats of God in the law do manifest one other end of it, even the demonstration of the vindictive justice of God, in measuring out unto it a meet197 recompense of reward. But here the law stays (and with it all other light) and discovers no other use or end of it at all. In the Lord Jesus there is the manifestation of another and more glorious end; to wit, the praise of God’s glorious198grace in the pardon and forgiveness of it; — God having taken order in Christ that that thing which tended merely to his dishonour should be managed to his infinite glory, and that which of all things he desireth to exalt, — even that he may be known and believed to be a199 “God pardoning iniquity, transgression and sin.” To return, then, to this part of our demonstration:—

In the knowledge of ourselves, in reference to our eternal condition, doth much of our wisdom consist. There is not any thing wherein, in this depraved condition of nature, we are more concerned than sin; without a knowledge of that, we know not ourselves. “Fools make a mock of sin.” A true saving knowledge of sin is to be had only in the Lord Christ: in him may we see the desert of our iniquities, and their pollution, which could not be borne or expiated but by his blood; neither is there any wholesome view of these but in Christ. In him and his cross is discovered our universal impotency, either of atoning God’s justice or living up to his will. The death of sin is procured by, and discovered in, the death of Christ; as also the manifestation of the riches of God’s grace in the pardoning thereof. A real and experimental acquaintance, as to ourselves, with all which, is our wisdom; and it is that which is of more value than all the wisdom of the world.

2. Righteousness is a second thing whereof the Spirit of Christ convinces the world, and the main thing that it is our wisdom to be acquainted withal. This all men are persuaded of, that God is a most righteous God; (that is a natural notion of God which Abraham insisted on, Gen. xviii. 25, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”) they “know that this is the judgment of God, that they who commit such things are worthy of death,” Rom. i. 32; that “it is a righteous thing with him to recompense tribulation unto offenders,” 2 Thess. i. 6. He is “a God of purer eyes than to behold evil,” Hab. i. 13; and therefore, “the ungodly cannot stand in judgment,” Ps. i. 5. Hence the great inquiry of every one (who lies in any measure under the power of it), convinced of immortality and the judgment to come, is concerning the righteousness wherewith to appear in the presence of this righteous God. This more or less they are solicitous about all their days; and so, as the apostle speaks, Heb. ii. 15, “through the fear of death they are all their lifetime subject to bondage,” — they are perplexed with fears about the issue of their righteousness, lest it should end in death and destruction.

(1.) Unto men set upon this inquiry, that which first and naturally presents itself, for their direction and assistance, assuredly promising them a righteousness that will abide the trial of God, provided they will follow its direction, is the law. The law hath many fair pleas to prevail with a soul to close with it for a righteousness before God. It was given out from God himself for that end and purpose; it contains the whole obedience that God requireth of any of the sons of men; it hath the promise of life annexed to it: “Do this, and live,” “The doers of the law are justified;” and, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments;” — yea, it is most certain that it must be wholly fulfilled, if we ever think to stand with boldness before God. This being some part of the plea of the law, there is no man that seeks after righteousness but doth, one time or another, attend to it, and attempt its direction. Many do it every day, who yet will not own that so they do. This, then, they set themselves about, — labouring to correct their lives, amend their ways, perform the duties required, and so follow after a righteousness according to the prescript of the law. And in this course do many men continue long with much perplexity; — sometimes hoping, oftener fearing; sometimes ready to give quite over; sometimes vowing to continue (their consciences being no way satisfied, nor righteousness in any measure attained) all their days. After they have wearied themselves perhaps for a long season, in the largeness of their ways, they come at length, with fear, trembling, and disappointment, to that conclusion of the apostle, “By the works of the law no flesh is justified;” and with dread cry that if God mark what is done amiss, there is no standing before him. That they have this issue, the apostle witnesseth, 200Rom. ix. 31, 32, “Israel, who followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law.” It was not solely for want of endeavour in themselves that they were disappointed, for they earnestly followed after the law of righteousness; but from the nature of the thing itself, — it would not bear it. Righteousness was not to be obtained that way; “For,” saith the apostle, “if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect; because the law worketh wrath,” Rom. iv. 14, 15. The law itself is now such as that it cannot give life, Gal. iii. 21, “If there had been a law given which would have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” And he gives the reason in the next verse why it could not give life; because “the Scripture concludes all under sin;” — that is, it is very true, and the Scripture affirms it, that all men are sinners, and the law speaks not one word to sinners but death and destruction: therefore the apostle tells us plainly, that God himself found fault with this way of attaining righteousness, Heb. viii. 7, 8. 201He complains of it; that is, he declares it insufficient for that end and purpose.

Now, there are two considerations that discover unto men the vanity and hopelessness of seeking righteousness in this path:—

[1.] That they have already sinned:202 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” Rom. iii. 23. This they are sufficiently sensible of, that although they could for the time to come fulfil the whole law, yet there is a score, a reckoning, upon them already, that they know not how to answer for. Do they consult their guide, the 203law itself, how they may be eased of the account that is past? it hath not one word of direction or consolation; but bids them prepare to die. The sentence is gone forth, and there is no escaping.

[2.] That if all former debts should be blotted out, yet they are no way able for the future to fulfil the law; they can as well move the earth with a finger, as answer the perfection thereof: and therefore, as I said, on this twofold account, they conclude that this labour is lost. 204“By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

(2.) Wherefore, secondly, Being thus disappointed, by the severity and inexorableness of the law, men generally betake themselves to some other way, that may satisfy them as to those considerations which took them off from their former hopes; and this, for the most part, is by fixing themselves upon some ways of atonement to satisfy God, and helping out the rest with hopes of mercy. Not to insist on the ways of atonement and expiation which the Gentiles had pitched on; nor on the many ways and inventions — by works satisfactory of their own, supererogations of others, indulgences, and purgatory in the close — that the Papists have found out for this end and purpose; it is, I say, proper to all convinced persons, as above, to seek for a righteousness, partly by an endeavour to satisfy for what is past, and partly by hoping after general mercy. This the apostle calls a seeking for it “as it were by the works of the law,” Rom. ix. 32; 205not directly, “but as it were” by the works of the law, making up one thing with another. And he tells us what issue they have in this business, chap. x. 3, “Being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, they have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” They were by it enemies to the righteousness of God. The ground of this going about to establish their own righteousness was, that they were ignorant of the righteousness of God. Had they known the righteousness of God, and what exact conformity to his will he requireth, they had never undertaken such a fruitless business as to have compassed it “as it were by the works of the law.” Yet this many will stick on a long time. Something they do, something they hope for; some old faults they will buy off with new obedience. And this pacifies their consciences for a season; but when the Spirit comes to convince them of righteousness, neither will this hold. Wherefore, —

(3.) The matter comes at length to this issue, — they look upon themselves under this twofold qualification; as, —

[1.] Sinners, obnoxious to the law of God and the curse thereof; so that unless that be satisfied, that nothing from thence shall ever be laid to their charge, it is altogether in vain once to seek after an appearance in the presence of God.

[2.] As creatures made to a supernatural and eternal end; and therefore bound to answer the whole mind and will of God in the obedience required at their hands. Now, it being before discovered to them that both these are beyond the compass of their own endeavours, and the assistance which they have formerly rested on, if their eternal condition be of any concernment to them, their wisdom is, to find out a righteousness that may answer both these to the utmost.

Now, both these are to be had only in the Lord Christ, who is our righteousness. This wisdom, and all the treasures of it, are hid in him.

1st. He expiates former iniquities, he satisfies for sin, and procures remission of it. Rom. iii. 24, 25, “Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” “All we like sheep,” etc., Isa. liii. 6. “Through his blood we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins,” Eph. i. 7. “God spared not his own Son, but delivered,” etc., Rom. viii. 32. This, even this alone, is our righteousness; as to that first part of it which consists in the removal of the whole guilt of sin, whereby we are come short of the glory of God. On this account it is that we are assured that none shall ever lay any thing to our charge, or condemn us, Rom. viii. 33, 34, — there being “no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” verse 1. We are purged by the sacrifice of Christ, so as to have “no more conscience of sin,” Heb. x. 2; that is, troubles in conscience about it. This wisdom is hid only in the Lord Jesus; in him alone is there an atonement discovered: and give me the wisdom which shall cut all scores concerning sin, and let the world take what remains. But, —

2dly. There is yet something more required; it is not enough that we are not guilty, we must also be actually righteous; — not only all sin is to be answered for, but all righteousness is to be fulfilled. By taking away the guilt of sin, we are as persons innocent; but something more is required to make us to be considered as persons obedient. I know nothing to teach me that an innocent person shall go to heaven, be rewarded, if he be no more but so. Adam was innocent at his first creation, but he was to “do this,” to “keep the commandments,” before he entered into “life:” he had no title to life by innocence. This, then, moreover, is required, that the whole law be fulfilled, and all the obedience performed that God requires at our hands. This is the soul’s second inquiry; and it finds a resolution only in the Lord Christ: “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life,” Rom. v. 10. His death reconciled us; then are we saved by his life. The actual obedience which he yielded to the whole law of God, is that righteousness whereby we are saved; if so be we are found in him, not having on our own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteousness which is of God by faith, Phil. iii. 9. This I shall have occasion to handle more at large hereafter.

To return, then: It is not, I suppose, any difficult task to persuade men, convinced of immortality and judgment to come, that the main of their wisdom lies in this, even to find out such a righteousness as will accompany them for ever, and abide the severe trial of God himself. Now, all the wisdom of the world is but folly, as to the discovery of this thing. The utmost that man’s wisdom can do, is but to find out most wretched, burdensome, and vexatious ways of perishing eternally. All the treasures of this wisdom are hid in Christ; he “of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness,” 1 Cor. i. 30.

3. Come we to the last thing, which I shall but touch upon; and that is judgment. The true wisdom of this also is hid in the Lord Christ; I mean, in particular, that judgment that is for to come: so at present I take the word in that place, [John xvi. 8.] Of what concernment this is to us to know, I shall not speak; — it is that whose 206influence upon the sons of men is the principle of their discriminating themselves from the beasts that perish. Neither shall I insist on the 207obscure intimations of it which are given by the present proceedings of Providence in governing the world; nor that greater light of it which shines in the threats and promises of the law. The wisdom of it is in two regards hid in the Lord Jesus:— (1.) As to the truth of it. (2.) As to the manner of it:—

(1.) For the truth of it; and so in and by him it is confirmed, and that two ways:— [1.] By his death. [2.] By his resurrection:—

[1.] By his death. God, in the death of Christ, punishing and condemning sin in the flesh of his own Son, in the sight of men, angels, and devils, hath given an abundant assurance of a righteous and universal judgment to come; wherefore, or upon what account imaginable, could he be induced to lay such a load on him, but that he will certainly reckon one day with the sons of men for all their works, ways, and walkings before him. The death of Christ is a most solemn exemplar of the last judgment. Those who own him to be the Son of God, will not deny a judgment to come.

[2.] By his resurrection. Acts xvii. 31, Πίστιν παρασχὼν πᾶσιν, — he hath given faith and assurance of this thing to all, by raising Christ from the dead, having appointed him to be the judge of all; in whom and by whom he will judge the world in righteousness. And then, —

(2.) And, lastly, for the manner of it: that it shall be by him who hath loved us, and given himself for us, — who is himself the righteousness that he requires of our hands; and on the other side, by him who hath been, in his person, grace, ways, worship, servants, reviled, despised, contemned by the men of the world; — which holds out unspeakable consolation on the one hand, and terror on the other: so that the wisdom of this also is hid in Christ.

And this is the second part of our first demonstration. Thus the knowledge of ourselves, in reference to our supernatural end, is no small portion of our wisdom. The things of the greatest concernment hereunto are, sin, righteousness, and judgment; the wisdom of all which is alone hid in the Lord Jesus: which was to be proved.

III. The third part of our wisdom is to walk with God. Now, that one may walk with another, six208 things are required:— 1. Agreement. 2. Acquaintance. 3. A way. 4. Strength. 5. Boldness. 6. An aiming at the same end. All these, with the wisdom of them, are hid in the Lord Jesus.

1. Agreement. The prophet tells us that two cannot walk together unless they be agreed, Amos iii. 3. Until agreement be made, there is no communion, no walking together. God and man by nature (or whilst man is in the state of nature) are at the greatest enmity. He declares nothing to us but wrath, Rom. i. 18; whence we are said to be children of it; that is, born obnoxious to it, Eph. ii. 3: and whilst we remain in that condition, “the wrath of God abideth on us,” John iii. 36. All the discovery that God makes of himself unto us is, that he is inexpressibly provoked; and therefore preparing wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of his righteous judgment. The day of his and sinners’ meeting, is called “The day of wrath,” Rom. ii. 5, 6. Neither do we come short in our enmity against him; yea, we first began it, and we continue longest in it. To express this enmity, the apostle tells us, that our very minds, the best part of us, are “enmity against God,” Rom. viii. 7, 8; and that we neither are, nor will, nor can be, subject to him; our enmity manifesting itself by universal rebellion against him: whatever we do that seems otherwise, is but hypocrisy or flattery; yea, it is a part of this enmity to lessen it. In this state the wisdom of walking with God must needs be most remote from the soul. He is 209“light, and in him is no darkness at all;” we are darkness, and in us there is no light at all. He is life, a “living God;” we are dead, dead sinners, — dead in trespasses and sin. He is “holiness,” and glorious in it; we wholly defiled, — an abominable thing. He is “love;” we full of hatred, — hating and being hated. Surely this is no foundation for agreement, or, upon that, of walking together: nothing can be more remote than this frame from such a condition. The foundation, then, of this, I say, is laid in Christ, hid in Christ. “He,” saith the apostle, “is our peace; he hath made peace” for us, Eph. ii. 14, 15. He slew the enmity in his own body on the cross, verse 16.

(1.) He takes out of the way the cause of the enmity that was between God and us, — sin and the curse of the law. He makes an end of sin, and that by making atonement for iniquity, Dan. ix. 24; and he blotteth out the hand-writing of ordinances, Col. ii. 14, redeeming us from the curse, by “being made a curse for us,” Gal. iii. 13.

(2.) He destroys him who would continue the enmity, and make the breach wider, Heb. ii. 14 “Through death he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;” and, Col. ii. 15, “spoiled principalities and powers.”

(3.) He made “reconciliation for the sins of the people,” Heb. ii. 17; he made by his blood an atonement with God, to turn away that wrath which was due to us, so making peace. Hereupon God is said to be “in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,” 2 Cor. v. 19; — being reconciled himself, verse 18, he lays down the enmity on his part, and proceeds to what remains, — to slay the enmity on our part, that we also may be reconciled. And this also, —

(4.) He doth; for, Rom. v. 11, “By our Lord Jesus Christ we do receive the atonement,” accept of the peace made and tendered, laying down our enmity to God; and so confirming an agreement betwixt us in his blood. So that “through him we have an access unto the Father,” Eph. ii. 18. Now, the whole wisdom of this agreement, without which there is no walking with God, is hid in Christ; out of him God on his part is a consuming fire, — we are as stubble fully dry, yet setting ourselves in battle array against that fire: if we are brought together we are consumed. All our approachings to him out of Christ are but to our detriment; in his blood alone have we this agreement. And let not any of us once suppose that we have taken any step in the paths of God with him, that any one duty is accepted, that all is not lost as to eternity, if we have not done it upon the account hereof.

2. There is required acquaintance, also, to walking together. Two may meet together in the same way, and have no quarrel between them, no enmity; but if they are mere strangers one to another, they pass by without the least communion together. It doth not suffice that the enmity betwixt God and us be taken away; we must also have acquaintance given us with him. Our not knowing of him is a great cause and a great part of our enmity. Our understandings are “darkened,” and we are “alienated from the life of God,” etc., Eph. iv. 18. This also, then, must be added, if we ever come to walk with God, which is our wisdom. And this also is hid in the Lord Christ, and comes forth from him. It is true there are sundry other means, as his word and his works, that God hath given the sons of men, to make a discovery of himself unto them, and to give them some acquaintance with him, that, as the apostle speaks, Acts xvii. 27, “they should seek the Lord, if haply they might find him;” but yet, as that knowledge of God which we have by his works is but very weak and imperfect, so that which we have by the word, the letter of it, by reason of our blindness, is not saving to us if we have no other help; for though that be light as the sun in the firmament, yet if we have no eyes in our heads, what can it avail us? — no saving acquaintance with him, that may direct us to walk with him, can be obtained. This also is hid in the Lord Jesus, and comes forth from him, 1 John v. 20, “He hath given us an understanding, that we should know him that is true;” — all other light whatever without his giving us an understanding, will not do it. He is the true Light, which lighteth every one that is enlightened, John i. 9. He opens our understandings that we may understand the Scriptures, Luke xxiv. 45; — none hath known God at any time, “but he hath revealed him,” John i. 18. God dwells in that “light which no man can approach unto,” 1 Tim. vi. 16. None hath ever had any such acquaintance with him as to be said to have seen him, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Hence he tells the Pharisees, that notwithstanding all their great knowledge which they pretended, indeed they had “neither heard the voice of God at any time, nor seen his shape,” John v. 37. They had no manner of spiritual acquaintance with God, but he was unto them as a man whom they had never heard nor seen. There is no acquaintance with God, as love, and full of kindness, patience, grace, and pardoning mercy (on which knowledge of him alone we can walk with him), but only in Christ; but of this fully before. This, then, also is hid in him.

3. There must, moreover, be a way wherein we must walk with God. God did at the beginning assign us a path to walk in with him, even the path of innocence and exact holiness, in a covenant of works. This path, by sin, is so filled with thorns and briers, so stopped up by curses and wrath, that no flesh living can take one step in that path; a new way for us to walk in must be found out, if ever we think to hold communion with God. And this also lies upon the former account. It is hid in Christ. All the world cannot, but by and in him, discover a path that a man may walk one step with God in. And therefore the Holy Ghost tells us that Christ hath consecrated, dedicated, and set apart for that purpose, “a new and living way” into the holiest of all, Heb. x. 20; a new one, for the first, old one was useless; a living one, for the other is dead: therefore, saith he, verse 22, “Let us draw near;” having a way to walk in, let us draw near. And this way that he hath prepared is no other but himself, John xiv. 6. In answer to them who would go to the Father, and hold communion with him, he tells them, “I am the way; and no man comes to the Father but by me.” He is the medium of all communication between God and us. In him we meet, in him we walk. All influences of love, kindness, mercy, from God to us, are through him; all our returns of love, delight, faith, obedience unto God, are all through him; — he being that “one way” God so often promiseth his people: and it is a glorious way, Isa. xxxv. 8, — a high way, a way of holiness, a way that none can err in that once enter it; which is farther set out, Isa. xlii. 16. All other ways, all paths but this, go down to the chambers of death; they all lead to walk contrary to God.

4. But suppose all this, — that agreement be made, acquaintance given, and a way provided; yet if we have no strength to walk in that way, what will all this avail us? This also, then, must be added; of ourselves we are of no strength, Rom. v. 6, — poor weaklings, not able to go a step in the ways of God. When we are set in the way, either we throw ourselves down, or temptations cast us down, and we make no progress: and the Lord Jesus tells us plainly, that “without him we can do nothing,” John xv. 5; not any thing at all that shall have the least acceptation with God. Neither can all the creatures in heaven and earth yield us the least assistance. Men’s contending to do it in their own power, comes to nothing. This part of this, wisdom also is hid in Christ. All strength to walk with God is from him. “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me,” saith St Paul, Phil. iv. 13, who denies that of ourselves we have any sufficiency, 2 Cor. iii. 5. We that can do nothing in ourselves, we are such weaklings, can do all things in Jesus Christ, as giants; and therefore in him we are, against all oppositions in our way, “more than conquerors,” Rom. viii. 37; and that because “from his fulness we receive grace for grace,” John i. 16. From him have we the Spirit of life and power, whereby he bears, as on eagles’ wings, swiftly, safely, in the paths of walking with God. Any step that is taken in any way, by strength that is not immediately from Christ, is one step towards hell. He first takes us by the arm and teaches us to go, until he leads us on to perfection. He hath milk and strong meat to feed us; he strengthens us with all might, and is with us in our running the race that is set before us. But yet, —

5. Whence should we take this confidence as to walk with God; even our God, who is “a consuming fire?” Heb. xii. 29. Was there not such a dread upon his people of old, that it was taken for granted among them that if they saw God at any time, it was not to be endured, — they must die? Can any, but with extreme horror, think of that dreadful appearance that he made unto them of old upon mount Sinai; until Moses himself, who was their mediator, said, “I exceedingly fear and quake?” Heb. xii. 21, and all the people said, “Let not God speak with us, lest we die?” Exod. xx. 19. Nay, though men have apprehensions of the goodness and kindness of God, yet upon any discovery, of his glory, how do they tremble, and are filled with dread and astonishment! Hath it not been so with the “choicest of his saints?” Hab. iii. 16; Isa. vi. 5; Job xlii. 5, 6. Whence, then, should we take to ourselves this boldness, to walk with God? This the apostle will inform us in Heb. x. 19; it is “by the blood of Jesus:” so Eph. iii. 12, “In him we have boldness, and access with confidence;” — not standing afar off, like the people at the giving of the law, but drawing nigh to God with boldness; and that upon this account:— The dread and terror of God entered by sin; Adam had not the least thought of hiding himself until he had sinned. The guilt of sin being on the conscience, and this being a common notion left in the hearts of all, that God is a most righteous revenger thereof; this fills men with dread and horror at an apprehension of his presence, fearing that he is come to call their sins to remembrance. Now, the Lord Jesus, by the sacrifice and the atonement that he hath made, hath taken away this conscience of sin; that is, a dread of revenge from God upon the account of the guilt thereof. He hath removed the slaying sword of the law, and on that account gives us great boldness with God; discovering him unto us now, no longer as a revenging Judge, but as a tender, merciful, and reconciled Father. Moreover, whereas there is on us by nature a spirit of bondage, filling us with innumerable tormenting fears, he takes it away, and gives us “the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father,” and behave ourselves with confidence and gracious boldness, as children: for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty,” 2 Cor. iii. 17; that is, a freedom from all that dread and terror which the administration of the law brought with it. Now, as there is no sin that God will more severely revenge than any boldness that man takes with him out of Christ; so there is no grace more acceptable to him than that boldness which he is pleased to afford us in the blood of Jesus. There is, then, —

6. But one thing more to add; and that is, that two cannot walk together unless they have the same design in hand, and aim at the same end. This also, in a word, is given us in the Lord Jesus. The end of God is the advancement of his own glory; none can aim at this end, but only in the Lord Jesus. The sum of all is, that the whole wisdom of our walking with God is hid in Christ, and from him only to be obtained; as hath been manifest by an enumeration of particulars.

And so have I brought my first demonstration of what I intended unto a close, and manifested that all true wisdom and knowledge is laid up in, and laid out by, the Lord Jesus; and this by an induction of the chief particular heads of those things wherein confessedly our wisdom doth consist. I have but one more to add, and therein I shall be brief.

Secondly,210 then, I say this truth will be farther manifested by the consideration of the insufficiency and vanity of any thing else that may lay claim or pretend to a title to wisdom.

There be two things in the world that do pass under this account:— 1. The one is learning or literature; skill and knowledge of arts, sciences, tongues, with the knowledge of the things that are past. 2. Prudence and skill for the management of ourselves in reference to others, in civil affairs, for public good; which is much the fairest flower within the border of nature’s garden. Now, concerning both these, I shall briefly evince, — (1.) That they are utterly insufficient for the compassing and obtaining of those particular ends whereunto they are designed. (2.) That both of them in conjunction, with their utmost improvement, cannot reach the true general end of wisdom. Both which considerations will set the crown, in the issue, upon the head of Jesus Christ:—

1. Begin we with the first of these, and that as to the first particular. Learning itself, if it were all in one man, is not able to compass the particular end whereto it is designed; which writes “vanity and vexation” upon the forehead thereof.

The particular end of literature (though not observed by many, men’s eyes being fixed on false ends, which compels them in their progress “aberrare a scopo”) is none other but to remove some part of that curse which is come upon us by sin. Learning is the product of the soul’s struggling with the curse for sin. Adam, at his first creation, was completely furnished with all that knowledge (excepting only things not then in being, neither in themselves nor in any natural causes, as that which we now call tongues, and those things that are the subject of story), as far as it lies in a needful tendency to the utmost end of man, which we now press after. There was no straitness, much less darkness, upon his understanding, that should make him sweat for a way to improve, and make out those general conceptions of things which he had. For his knowledge of nature, it is manifest, from his imposition of suitable names on all the creatures (the particular reasons of the most of which to us are lost); wherein, from the approbation given of his nomination of things in the Scripture, and the significance of what yet remains evident, it is most apparent it was done upon a clear acquaintance with their natures. Hence Plato could observe,211 that he was most wise that first imposed names on things; yea, had more than human wisdom. Were the wisest man living, yea, a general collection of all the wise men in the world, to make an experiment of their skill and learning, in giving names to all living creatures, suitable to their natures and expressive of their qualities, they would quickly perceive the loss they have incurred. Adam was made perfect, for the whole end of ruling the creatures and living to God, for which he was made; which, without the knowledge of the nature of the one and the will of the other, he could not be. All this being lost by sin, a multiplication of tongues also being brought in, as a curse for an after rebellion,212 the whole design of learning is but to disentangle the soul from this issue of sin. Ignorance, darkness, and blindness, is come upon the understanding; acquaintance with the works of God, spiritual and natural, is lost; strangeness of communication is given, by multiplication of tongues; tumultuating of passions and affections, with innumerable darkening prejudices, are also come upon us. To remove and take this away — to disentangle the mind in its reasonings, to recover an acquaintance with the works of God, to subduct the soul from under the effects of the curse of division of tongues — is the aim and tendency of literature. This is the “aliquid quo tendit;” and he that hath any other aim in it, “Passim sequitur corvum testâque lutoque.”213 Now, not to insist upon that vanity and vexation of spirit, with the innumerable evils wherewith this enterprise is attended, this is that I only say, it is in itself no way sufficient for the attainment of its end, which writes vanity upon its forehead with characters not to be obliterated. To this purpose I desire to observe these two things:—

(1.) That the knowledge aimed at to be recovered was given unto man in order to his walking with God, unto that supernatural end whereunto he was appointed. For after he was furnished with all his endowments, the law of life and death was given to him, that he might know wherefore he received them. Therefore, knowledge in him was spiritualized and sanctified: even that knowledge which he had by nature, in respect of its principle and end, was spiritual.

(2.) That the loss of it is part of that curse which was inflicted on us for sin. Whatever we come short in of the state of the first man in innocence, whether in loss of good or addition of evil, it is all of the curse for sin. Besides, that blindness, ignorance, darkness, deadness, which is everywhere ascribed to us in the state of nature, doth fully comprise that also whereof we speak.

On these two considerations it is most apparent that learning can no way of itself attain the end it aimeth at. For, —

[1.] That light which by it is discovered (which, the Lord knows, is very little, weak, obscure, imperfect, uncertain, conjectural, for a great part only enabling men to quarrel with and oppose one another, to the reproach of reason, yet I say, that which is attained by it) is not in the least measure by it spiritualized, or brought into that order of living to God, and with God, wherein at first it lay. This is wholly beyond its reach. As to this end, the apostle assures us that the utmost issue that men come to, is darkness and folly, Rom. i. 21, 22. Who knows not the profound inquiries, the subtile disputations, the acute reasonings, the admirable discoveries of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and others? What, as to the purpose in hand, did they attain by all their studies and endeavours? Ἐμωράνθησαν, says the apostle, — “They became fools.” He that, by general consent, bears the crown of reputation for wisdom from them all, with whom to have lived was counted an inestimable happiness,214 died like a fool, sacrificing a cock to Æsculapius. And another [apostle assures us], that Jesus Christ alone is “the true Light,” that lighteth us, John i. 9. And there is not any that hath any true light, but what is immediately from him. After all the learning of men, if they have nothing else, they are still natural men, and perceive not the things of God. Their light is still but darkness; and how great is that darkness! It is the Lord Jesus alone who is anointed to open the eyes of the blind. Men cannot spiritualize a notion, nor lay it in any order to the glorifying of God. After all their endeavours, they are still blind and dark, yea, darkness itself, knowing nothing as they should. I know how the men of these attainments are apt to say, “Are we blind also?” with great contempt of others; but God hath blasted all their pride:215 “Where,” saith he, “is the wise? where is the scribe,” etc., 1 Cor. i. 20. I shall not add what Paul hath farther cautioned us, to the seeming condemning of philosophy as being fitted to make spoil of souls; nor what 216Tertullian with some other of the ancients have spoken of it; being very confident that it was the abuse, and not the true use and advantage of it, that they opposed. But, —

[2.] The darkness and ignorance that it strives to remove, being come upon us as a curse, it is not in the least measure, as it is a curse, able to remove it or take it away. He that hath attained to the greatest height of literature, yet if he hath nothing else, — if he have not Christ, — is as much under the curse of blindness, ignorance, stupidity, dullness, as the poorest, silliest soul in the world. The curse is only removed in him who was made a curse for us. Every thing that is penal is taken away only by him on whom all our sins did meet in a way of punishment; yea, upon this account. The more abilities the mind is furnished withal, the more it closes with the curse, and strengthens itself to act its enmity against God. All that it receives doth but help it to set up high thoughts and imaginations against the Lord Christ. So that this knowledge comes short of what in particular it is designed unto; and therefore cannot be that solid wisdom we are inquiring after.

There be sundry other things whereby it were easy to blur the countenance of this wisdom; and, from its intricacy, difficulty, uncertainty, unsatisfactoriness, — betraying its followers into that which they most profess to avoid, blindness and folly, — to write upon it “vanity and vexation of spirit.” I hope I shall not need to add any thing to clear myself for not giving a due esteem and respect unto literature, my intendment being only to cast it down at the feet of Jesus Christ, and to set the crown upon his head.

2. Neither can the second part of the choicest wisdom out of Christ attain the peculiar end whereunto it is appointed; and that is prudence in the management of civil affairs, — than which no perishing thing is more glorious, — nothing more useful for the common good of human kind. Now, the immediate end of this prudence is to keep the rational world in bounds and order, to draw circles about the sons of men, and to keep them from passing their allotted bounds and limits, to the mutual disturbance and destruction of each other. All manner of trouble and disturbance ariseth from irregularity: one man breaking in upon the rights, usages, interests, relations of another, sets this world at variance. The sum and aim of all wisdom below is, to cause all things to move in their proper sphere, whereby it would be impossible there should be any more interfering than is in the celestial orbs, notwithstanding all their divers and various motions: to keep all to their own allotments, within the compass of the lines that are fallen unto them, is the special end of this wisdom.

Now, it will be a very easy task, to demonstrate that all civil prudence whatever217 (besides the vexation of its attainment, and loss being attained) is no way able to compass this end. The present condition of affairs throughout the world, as also that of former ages, will abundantly testify it; but I shall farther discover the vanity of it for this end in some few observations. And the

(1.) First is, That, through the righteous judgment of God lopping off the top flowers of the pride of men, it frequently comes to pass that those who are furnished with the greatest abilities of this kind do lay them out to a direct contrary end unto that which is their natural tendency and aim. From whom, for the most part, are all the commotions in the world, — the breaking up of bounds, setting the whole frame of nature on fire? is it not from such men as these. Were not men so wise, the world, perhaps, would be more quiet, when the end of wisdom is to keep it in quietness. This seems to be a curse that God hath spread upon the wisdom of the world, in the most in whom it is, that it shall be employed in direct opposition to its proper end.

(2.) That God hath made this a constant path towards the advancement of his own glory, even to leaven the wisdom and the counsels of the wisest of the sons of men with folly and madness, that they shall, in the depth of their policy, 218advise things for the compassing of the ends they do propose as unsuitable as any thing that could proceed out of the mouth of a child or a fool, and as directly tending to their own disappointment and ruin as any thing that could be invented against them. “He destroys the wisdom of the wise, and brings to nothing the understanding of the prudent,” 1 Cor. i. 19. This he largely describes, Isa. xix. 11–14. Drunkenness and staggering is the issue of all their wisdom; and that upon this account, — the Lord gives them the spirit of giddiness. So also Job v. 12–14. They meet with darkness in the day-time:219 when all things seem clear about them, and a man would wonder how men should miss their way, then will God make it darkness to such as these. So Ps. xxxiii. 10. Hence God, as it were, sets them at work, and undertakes their disappointment, Isa. viii. 9, 10, “Go about your counsels,” saith the Lord, “and I will take order that it shall come to nought.” And, Ps. ii. 3, 4, when men are deep at their plots and contrivances, God is said to have them in derision, to laugh them to scorn, seeing the poor worms industriously working out their own ruin. Never was this made more clear than in the days wherein we live. Scarcely have any wise men been brought to destruction, but it hath evidently been through their own folly; neither hath the wisest counsel of most been one jot better than madness.

(3.) That this wisdom, which should tend to universal quietness, hath almost constantly given universal disquietness unto themselves in whom it hath been most eminent. “In much wisdom is much grief,” Eccles. i. 18. And in the issue, some of them have made away with themselves, as Ahithophel; and the most of them have been violently dispatched by others. There is, indeed, no end of the folly of this wisdom.220 The great men of the world carry away the reputation of it; — really it is found in few of them. They are, for the most part, common events, whereunto they contribute not the least mite, which are ascribed to their care, vigilance, and foresight. Mean men, that have learned to adore what is above them, reverence the meetings and conferences of those who are in greatness and esteem. Their weakness and folly is little known. Where this wisdom hath been most eminent, it hath dwelt so close upon the borders of atheism, been attended with such falseness and injustice, that it hath made its possessors wicked and infamous.

I shall not need to give any more instances to manifest the insufficiency of this wisdom for the attaining of its own peculiar and immediate end. This is the vanity of any thing whatever, — that it comes short of the mark it is directed unto. It is far, then, from being true and solid wisdom, seeing on the forehead thereof you may read “Disappointment.”

And this is the first reason why true wisdom cannot consist in either of these, — because they come short even of the particular and immediate ends they aim at. But, —

Secondly, Both these in conjunction, with their utmost improvement, are not able to reach the true general end of wisdom. This assertion also falleth under an easy demonstration, and it were a facile thing to discover their disability and unsuitableness for the true end of wisdom; but it is so professedly done by him who had the largest portion of both of any of the sons of men (Solomon in his Preacher), that I shall not any farther insist upon it.

To draw, then, unto a close:— if true and solid wisdom is not in the least to be found amongst these, if the pearl be not hid in this field, if these two are but vanity and disappointment, it cannot but be to no purpose to seek for it in any thing else below, these being amongst them incomparably the most excellent; and therefore, with one accord, let us set the crown of this wisdom on the head of the Lord Jesus.

Let the reader, then, in a few words, take a view of the tendency of this whole digression. To draw our hearts to the more cheerful entertainment of and delight in the Lord Jesus, is the aim thereof. If all wisdom be laid up in him, and by an interest in him only to be attained, — if all things beside him and without him that lay claim thereto are folly and vanity, — let them that would be wise learn where to repose their souls.

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139 Ἐπεὶ οὖν τὸ γενόμενον ὁ κόσμος ἐστὶν ὁ ξύμπας, ὁ τοῦτον θεωρῶν τάχα ἂν ἀκοῦσαι παρ’ αὐτοῦ, ὡς ἐμὲ πεποίηκεν ὁ Θεός. — Plotin.
140 Gen. i. 31.
141 “Quamvis speciali cura atque indulgentia Dei, populum Israelitcum constat electum, omnesque alias nationes suas vias ingredi, hoc est, secundum propriam permissæ sunt vivere voluntatem, non ita tamen se æterna Creatoris bonitas ab cationibus admoneret,” — Prosp. De Vocat. Gent. 2, 4. “Cœlum et terra, et omnia quæ in eis sunt, ecce undique mihi dicunt ut te amem, nec cessant dicere omnibus, ut sint inexcusabiles.” — August. Confess, lib. x. cap. 6.
142 Exod. xxxiii. 22; 1 Cor. x. 4.
143 Ἕστω δὴ ἔλεος, λύπη τὶς ἐπὶ φαινομένῳ κακῷ φθαρτικῷ καὶ λυπηρῷ τοῦ ἀναξίου τυγχάνειν. — Arist. 2. Rhet. “Quid autem misericordia, nisi alienæ miseriæ quædam in nostro corde compassio; quâ alicui, si possumus, subvenire compellimur?” — August. De Civit. Dei, lib. ix. cap. 5.
144 Κατακαυχᾶται ἔλεος κρισεως, James ii. 13.
145 Προέθετο.
146 Ἤ μιν ἑλὼν ῥίψω ἐξ Τάρταρον ἠερόεντα, Τῆλε μαλ’ ἧχι βαθιστον ὑπὸ χθονός ἐστι βέρεθρον, Ἕνθα σιδήρειαί τε πύλαι καὶ χάλκεος οὐδός, Τόσσον ἔνερθ’ Αἴδεω, ὅσον οὐρανός ἐστ’ ἀπὸ γαίης. Homer, Il. θ. 13–16.
147 Vid. Diatrib. De Just. Divin. [A treatise by Owen, which will be found in vol. x. of this edition of his works.]
148 Rom. viii. 32; Isa. liii. 10; Heb. x. 7–9; Rom. i. 32; 2 Thess. i. 5, 6; Ps. v. 5, 6; Hab. i. 13; Ps. cxix. 137.
149 Gen. iii. 17–19, viii. 21; Rom. viii. 21, 22; 2 Pet. ii. 4–6, iii. 6; Jude 6, 7.
150 1 Cor. i. 30.
151 Matt. iii. 17.
152 Matt. xxvi. 37, 38; Mark xiv. 33; Luke xxii. 43, 44; Heb. v. 7; Matt. xxvii. 51; Mark xv. 33, 34; Isa. liii. 6.
153 Matt. v. 45; Acts xiv. 17, 18.
154 “Animula vagula, blandula, Hospes comesque corporis, Quæ nunc abibis in loca Pallida, rigida, nudula? Nec ut soles dabias jocos.” Had. Imp.
155 Rom. ii. 4, 5, ix. 22.
156 “Eos, quibus indulgere videtur, quibus parcere, molles venturis malis (Deus) format.” — Seneca, “De Providentiâ,” cap. iv. — “Pro dii immortales! Cur interdum in hominum sceleribus maximis, aut connivetis, aut præsentis fraudis pœnas in diem reservatis!” — Cic. pro Cæl. 24.
157 Κατὰ μὲν τοῦ ἐπιῤῥέοντος βάψαντα, γλυκὺ τὸ ὕδωρ ἀνιμήοασθαι· εἰ δὲ εἰς βάθος τὶς καθῆκεν τὴγ κάλπιν, ἁλμυρόν. — Arrian. περιπ. Εὐξείνου πόντου.
158 “Si amabilis est sapientia cum cognitione rerum conditiarum, quam amabilis est sapientia, quæ condidit omnia ex nihilo!” — August. Lib. Meditat., c. xviii.
159 1 Cor. i. 20, 30.
160 Gen. i. 31.
161 Gen. iii. 17, 18; Rom. i. 18.
162 Exod. xxxiii. 18, 19, xxxiv. 6, 7.
163 Rom. iii. 24, 25.
164 2 Cor. iv. 17.
165 John i. 16.
166 Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7.
167 Isa. liii. 5, 6; Lev. xvi. 21; Rom. viii. 32.
168 1 Cor. i. 20, 30; Jer. xxiii. 6.
169 “Shaddai, Aquila interpretatur ἄλκιμον, quod nos robustum et ad omnia perpetranda sufficientem possumus dicere.” — Hieron., Epist. cxxxvi.
170 Ἡ σοφία ἐστὶ τῶν τιμιωτάτων. — Arist.
171 Τὸ δικαίωμα τοῦ Θεοῦ ἐπιγνόντες ὅτι οἱ τὰ τοιαῦτα πράσσοντες ἄξιοι θανάτου εἰσίν. — Rom. i. 32. “Perfecto demum scelere, magnitudo ejus intellecta est.” — Tacit. Τί χρῆμα πάσχεις; τίς σ’ ἀπόλλυσιν νόσος; Ἡ σύνεσις, ὅτι σύνοιδα δείν’ εἰργασμένος. Eurip. Orest. 395, 396.
172 “Primus est deorum cultus, Deos credere: deinde reddere illis majestatem suam, reddere bonitatem, sine qua nulla majestas est. Scire illos esse qui præsident mundo: qui universa vi sua temperant: qui humani generis tutelam gerunt.” — Senec., Epist. xcvi. “Neque honor ullus deberi potest Deo, si nihil præstat colenti; nec ullus metus, si non irascitur non colenti.” — Lactan. “Raro antecedentem scelestum Deseruit pede pæna claudo.” Horat., Od. iii. 2, 31, 32. “Quo fugis Encelade? quascunque accessseris oras, Sub Jove semper eris,” etc. ― “Hos tu Evasisse putes, quos diri conscia facti Mens habet attonitos, et surdo verbere cædit!” Juvenal, Sat. xiii. 192. Οἴει σὺ τοὺς θανόντας, ὦ Νικόστρατε, Τρυφῆς ἁπάσης μεταλαβόντας ἐν βίῳ, Πεφευγέναι, τὸ θεῖον ὡς λεληθότας; Ἔστιν Δίκης ὀφθαλμός, ὃς τὰ πάνθ’ ὁρᾷ. Καὶ γὰρ καθ’ ᾅδην δύο τρίβους νομίζομεν, Μίαν δικαίων, ἑτέραν δ’ ἀσεθῶν εἶν’ ὁδόν. Κ’ εἰ τοὺς δύο καλύψει ἡ γῆ, φαςὶ, χρόνῳ Ἁρπάζ’, ἀπελθών, κλέπτ’, ἀποστέρει, κύκα. Μηδὲν πλανηθῇς, ἔσται κᾴν ᾅδου κρίσις. Ἥνπερ ποιήσει Θεὸς ὁ πάντων δεσπότης, Οὗ τούνομα φοβερὸν οὐδ’ ἂν ὀνομάσαιμ’ ἐγώ. κ. τ. λ. Philemon, juxta Justin. Martyr. seu Diphil. juxta Clement.
173 Gal. iii. 19; Rom. vii. 13.
174 Exod. xix. 18–20; Deut. iv. 11; Heb. xii. 18–21.
175 2 Cor. v. 21.
176 Zech. xiii. 7.
177 Heb. x. 7; Isa. liii. 6.
178 Lam. iii. 33.
179 Zech. xiii. 7.
180 Rev. v. 5.
181 Ps. lxxxix. 19.
182 Prov. viii. 22; 1 Cor. i. 24.
183 Matt. xxvi. 37, 38; Mark xiv. 33, 34; Luke xxii. 44; Heb. v. 7.
184 Isa. liii. 5, 6.
185 Ps. xxii. 1.
186 2 Cor. v. 21.
187 Gal. iii. 13.
188 Phil. ii. 8.
189 1 Cor. ii. 7.
190 Zech. xii. 10.
191 Vid. Diatr. de Just. Divin. cap. iii. vol. x.
192 Ps. xl. 6, 7.
193 “Quia unusquisque sibi virtutem acquirit; nemo sapientum de ea gratias Deo egit.” — Cicer.
194 “Natura sic apparet vitiata, ut hoc majoris vitii sit non videre.” — Aug.
195 See Treatise on Mortification. [Works., vol. vi.]
196 Prov. i. 31; Jer. xvii. 10.
197 2 Thess. i. 6.
198 Eph. i. 6.
199 Heb. viii. 6–13.
200 Διώκων νόμον δικαιοσύνης εἰς νόμον δικαιοσύνης οὐκ ἔφθασε.
201 Μεμφόμενο.
202 Πάντες ἥμαρτον, Rom. iii. 23, v. 12.
203 Deut. xxvii. 26; Gal. iii. 10.
204 Gal. iii. 11, 12.
205 Ὡς ἐξ ἔργων νόμου.
206 “Bene et compositè C. Cæsar … de vita et morte disseruit, falsa, credo, existimans, ea quæ de infernis memorantur; diverso itinere malos a bonis loca tetra, inculta, fœda atque formidolosa habere,” — Cato. apud. Sallust. Bell. Catil. lii.
Ἀλλ’ ἔστι καὶ τῷ ὄντι τὸ ἀγκβιώσκεσθαι, καὶ ἐκ τῶν τεθνεώτων τοὺς ζῶντας γίγνεσθαι, καὶ τὰς τῶν τεθνεώτων ψυχὰς εἶναι· καὶ ταῖς μὲν ἀγαθαῖς ἄμεινον εἶναι, ταῖς δὲ κακαῖς, κάκιον. — Plat. in Phæd. 17.
207 “Devenêre locos lætos, et amœna vireta Fortunatorum nemorum, sedesque beatas,” etc. Virg., Æn. vi. 638.
208 In the previous editions it is stated that five things are required to walk with God, and then five things are immediately enumerated. It will be found, however, that, in the subsequent illustration, six particulars are specified. A particular, the way, (see p. 109,) had been omitted in the division stated above. We have, therefore, altered it in accordance with Owen’s real treatment of his subject. — Ed.
209 1 John i. 5, Σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία. John i. 5; Eph. v. 8, ii. 1; Exod. xv. 11; 1 John iv. 8; Tit. iii. 3.
210 The division of which this indicates the second part, is implied, but not expressed, in p. 79, and the first paragraph of p. 80. — Ed.
211 Οἶμαι μὲν ἐγὼ τὸν ἀληθέστατον λόγον περὶ τούτων εἶναι ᾦ Σώκρατες, μείζω τινὰ δύναμιν εἶναι ἢ ἀνθρωπείαν, τὴν θεμένην τὰ πρῶτα ὀνόματα τοῖς πράγμασιν. — Plato in Cratylo.
212 Gen. xi. 3.
213 These words are borrowed from Pers., Sat. iii. 60, 61, in allusion to the fruitless pursuit of any object by the use of inadequate means. — Ed.
214 Εἰ δέ τις τῶν ἀρετῆς ἐφιεμένων ὠφελιμωτέρῳ τινὶ Σωκράτους συνεγένετο, ἐκεῖνον ἐγὼ τὸν ἄνδρα ἀξιομακαριστότατον νομίζω. — Xenoph. apol. pro Socrat. ad finem.
215 “O Sapientia superba irridens Christum crucifixum!” — August. Expos. In Joh. Trac. 2, de cap. 1.
216 “Hæreses a philosophiâ subornantur. Inde Æones, et formæ nescio quæ, trinitas homines apud Valentinium, Platonicus fuerat; inde Marcionis Deus melior de tranquillitate, a Stoicis venerat. Et ut anima interire dicatur, ab Epicureis observatur, et ut carnis restitutio negetur, de unâ omnium philosophorum scholâ sumitur: … Quid ergo Athenis et Hierosolymis? quid Academiæ et Ecclesiæ? quid hæreticis et Christianis? Nostra institutio de porticu Salomonis est. Nobis curiositate opus non est post Jesum Christum; nec inquisitione post evangelium. Cum credimus, nihil desideramus ultra credere. Hoc enim priùs credimus, non esse quod ultra credere debeamus.” — Tertul. de Præscript. ad Hæret. [cap. vii.]
― Ἐπειδήπερ ἱκανῶς ἐκ τῶν προειρημένων τὰ τῶν φιλοσόφων ὑμῶν ἐλήλεγκατα πάσης ἀγνοίας καὶ ἀπάτης φανέντα πλήρη. κ. τ. λ. — Just. Mart. ad Græc. Cohort. [c. xi.] Μοῦνον ἐμοὶ φίλον ἔσκε λόγων κλέος, οὓς συνάγειραν Ἀντολίη τι, δύσις τε, καὶ Ἑλλάδος εὖχος Ἀθῆναι, Τοῖς ἔπι πολλ’ ἐμόγησα πολὺν χρόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ αὐτοὺ, Πρηνέας ἐν δαπέδῳ Χριστοῦ προπάροιθεν ἔθηκα, Εἴξαντας μεγάλοιο θεοῦ λόγῳ ὅς ῥα καλύπτει Πάντα φρενὸς βροτέης στρεπτὸν πολυειδέα μῦθον. Greg. Naz. Car. i. de Reb. Suis.
217 Ὣ γῆρας ὡς ἐπαχθὲς ἀνθρώποισιν εἶ, καὶ πανταχῆ λυπηρόν, οὐ καθ’ ἓν μόνον, ἐν ᾦ γὰρ οὐδὲν δυνάμεθ’ οὐδ ἰσχύομεν, σὺ τηνικαῦθ’ ἡμᾶς διδάσκεις εὖ φρονεῖν. — Excerp. ex Nicostrat.
218 “Isthuc est sapere, non quod ante pedes modò est, Videre; sed etiam illa quæ futura sunt, Prospicere.” Teren. Adelph. 3, 3, 33.
219 Isa. xxix. 14, xlvii. 10; Jer. xlix. 7; Obad. 8.
220 “Prudens futuri temporis exitum Caliginosa nocte permit Deus: Ridetque, si mortalis ultra Fas trepidat.” Horat., Od. iii. 29, 29.

Chapter 4.

Of communion with Christ in a conjugal relation in respect of consequential affections — His delight in his saints first insisted on, Isa. lxii. 5; Cant. iii. 11; Prov. viii. 21 — Instance of Christ’s delight in believers — He reveals his whole heart to them, John xv. 14, 15; himself, John xiv. 21; his kingdom; enables them to communicate their mind to him, giving them assistance, a way, boldness, Rom. viii. 26, 27 — The saints delight in Christ; this manifested Cant. ii. 7, viii. 6 — Cant. iii. 1–5, opened — Their delight in his servants and ordinances of worship for his sake.

221The communion begun, as before declared, between Christ and the soul, is in the next place carried on by suitable consequential affections, — affections suiting such a relation. Christ having given himself to the soul, loves the soul; and the soul having given itself unto Christ, loveth him also. Christ loves his own, yea, “loves them to the end,” John xiii. 1; and the saints they love Christ, they “love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity,” Eph. vi. 24.

Now the love of Christ, wherewith he follows his saints, consists in these four things:— I. Delight. II. Valuation. III. Pity, or compassion. IV. Bounty. The love, also, of the saints unto Christ may be referred to these four heads:— Delight; Valuation; Chastity; Duty.

Two of these are of the same kind, and two distinct; as is required in this relation, wherein all things stand not on equal terms.

I. The first thing on the part of Christ is delight. Delight is the flowing of love and joy, — the222 rest and complacence of the mind in a suitable, desirable good enjoyed. Now, Christ delights exceedingly in his saints: “As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee,” Isa. lxii. 5. Hence he calleth the day of his espousals, the day of the “gladness of his heart,” Cant. iii. 11. It is known that usually this is the most unmixed delight that the sons of men are in their pilgrimage made partakers of. The delight of the bridegroom in the day of his espousals is the height of what an expression of delight can be carried unto. This is in Christ answerable to the relation he takes us into. His heart is glad in us, without sorrow. And every day whilst we live is his wedding-day. It is said of him, Zeph. iii. 17, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee” (that is, dwelling amongst us, taking our nature, John i. 14) “is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing;” which is a full description of delight, in all the parts of it, — joy and exultation, rest and complacence. “I rejoiced,” saith he, “in the habitable parts of the earth, and my delights were with the sons of men,” Prov. viii. 31. The thoughts of communion with the saints were the joy of his heart from eternity. On the compact and agreement that was between his Father and him, that he should divide a portion with the strong, and save a remnant for his inheritance, his soul rejoiced in the thoughts of that pleasure and delight which he would take in them, when he should actually take them into communion with himself. Therefore in the preceding verse it is said he was by him as אָמוֹן, say we, “As one brought up with him,” “alumnus;” the LXX. render it ἁρμόζουσα· and the Latin, with most other translations, “cuncta componens,” or “disponens.” The word taken actively, signifies him whom another takes into his care to breed up, and disposeth of things for his advantage. So did Christ take us then into his care, and rejoiced in the thoughts of the execution of his trust. Concerning them he saith, “Here will I dwell, and here will I make my habitation for ever.” For them hath he chosen for his temple and his dwelling-place, because he delighteth in them. This makes him take them so nigh himself in every relation. As he is God, they are his temple; as he is a king, they are his subjects, — he is the king of saints; as he is a head, they are his body, — he is the head of the church; as he is a first-born, he makes them his brethren, — “he is not ashamed to call them brethren.”

I shall choose out one particular from among many as an instance for the proof of this thing; and that is this:— Christ reveals his secrets, his mind, unto his saints, and enables them to reveal the secrets of their hearts to him, — an evident demonstration of great delight. It was Samson’s carnal delight in Delilah that prevailed with him to reveal unto her those things which were of greatest concernment unto him; he will not hide his mind from her, though it cost him his life. It is only a bosom friend into whom we will unbosom ourselves. Neither is there, possibly, a greater evidence of delight in close communion than this, that one will reveal his heart unto him whom he takes into society, and not entertain him with things common and vulgarly known. And therefore have I chose this instance, from amongst a thousand that might be given, of this delight of Christ in his saints.

He, then, communicates his mind unto his saints, and unto them only; — his mind, the counsel of his love, the thoughts of his heart, the purposes of his bosom, for our eternal good, — his mind, the ways of his grace, the workings of his Spirit, the rule of his sceptre, And the obedience of his gospel.223 All spiritual revelation is by Christ. He is “the true Light, that lighteth every man that comes into the world,” John i. 9. He is the “Day-spring,” the “Day-star,” and the “Sun;” so that it is impossible any light should be but by him. From him it is that “the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he shows them his covenant,” Ps. xxv. 14; as he expresses it at large, John xv. 14, 15,224 “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doth: but I have called you friends; for225 all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” He makes them as his friends, and useth them as friends, — as bosom friends, in whom he is delighted. He makes known all his mind unto them; every thing that his Father hath committed to him as Mediator to be revealed, Acts xx. 24. And the apostle declares how this is done, 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11, “ ‘God hath revealed these things unto us by his Spirit;’ for we have received him, ‘that we might know the things that are freely given us of God.’ ” He sends us his Spirits as he promised, to make known his mind unto his saints, and to lead them into all truth. And thence the apostle concludes, “We have known the mind of Christ,” verse 16; “for he useth us as friends, and declareth it unto us,” John i. 18. There is not any thing in the heart of Christ, wherein these his friends are concerned, that he doth not reveal to them. All his love, his good-will, the secrets of his covenant, the paths of obedience, the mystery of faith, is told them.

And all this is spoken in opposition to unbelievers, with whom he hath no communion. These know nothing of the mind of Christ as they ought: “The natural man receiveth not the things that are of God,” 1 Cor. ii. 14. There is a wide difference between understanding the doctrine of the Scripture as in the letter, and a true knowing the mind of Christ. This we have by special unction from Christ, 1 John ii. 27, “We have an unction from the Holy One, and we know all things,” 1 John ii. 20.

Now, the things which in this communion Christ reveals to them that he delights in, may be referred to these two heads:— 1. Himself. 2. His kingdom.

1. Himself. John xiv. 21, “He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him;” — “manifest myself in all my graces, desirableness, and loveliness; he shall know me as I am, and such I will be unto him, — a Saviour, a Redeemer, the chiefest of ten thousand.” He shall be acquainted with the true worth and value of the pearl of price; let others look upon him as having neither form nor comeliness, as no way desirable, he will manifest himself and his excellencies unto them in whom he is delighted, that they shall see him altogether lovely. He will vail himself to all the world; but the saints with open face shall behold his beauty and his glory, and so be translated into the image of the same glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord, 2 Cor. iii. 18.

2. His kingdom. They shall be acquainted with the government of his Spirit in their hearts; as also with his rule and the administration of authority in his word, and among his churches.

(1.) Thus, in the first place, doth he manifest his delight in his saints, — he communicates his secrets unto them. He gives them to know his person, his excellencies, his grace, his love, his kingdom, his will, the riches of his goodness, and the bowels of his mercy, more and more, when the world shall neither see nor know any such thing.

(2.) He enables his saints to communicate their mind, to reveal their souls, unto him, that so they may walk together as intimate friends. Christ knows the minds of all. He knows what is in man, and needs not that any man testify of him, John ii. 25. He searcheth the hearts and trieth the reins of all, Rev. ii. 23. But all know not how to communicate their mind to Christ. It will not avail a man at all that Christ knows his mind; for so he doth of every one, whether he will or no; — but that a man can make his heart known unto Christ, this is consolation. Hence the prayers of the saints are226 incense, odours; and those of others are227 howling, cutting off a dog’s neck, offering of swine’s blood, — an abomination unto the Lord. Now, three things are required to enable a man to communicate his heart unto the Lord Jesus:—

[1.] Assistance for the work; for of ourselves we cannot do it. And this the saints have by the Spirit of Jesus, Rom. viii. 26, 27, “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” All endeavours, all attempts for communion with God, without the supplies of the Spirit of supplications, without his effectual working in the heart, is of no value, nor to any purpose. And this opening of our hearts and bosoms to the Lord Jesus is that wherein he is exceedingly delighted. Hence is that affectionate call of his unto us, to be treating with him on this account, Cant. ii. 14, “O my dove, that art in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.” When the soul on any account is driven to hide itself, — in any neglected condition, in the most unlikely place of abode, — then doth he call for this communication of itself by prayer to him; for which he gives the assistance of the Spirit mentioned.

[2.] A way whereby to approach unto God with our desires. This, also, we have by him provided for us, John xiv. 5, 6, “Thomas saith unto Jesus, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the228 way; no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” That way which we had of going unto God at our creation is quite shut up by sin. The sword of the law, which hath fire put into it by sin, turns every way, to stop all passages unto communion with God. Jesus Christ hath “consecrated a229 new and living way” (for the saints) “through the vail, that is to say, his flesh,” Heb. x. 20. He hath consecrated and set it apart for believers, and for them alone. Others pretend to go to God with their prayers, but they come not nigh him. How can they possibly come to the end who go not in the way? Christ only is the way to the throne of grace; none comes to God but by him. “By him we have an access in one Spirit unto the Father,” Eph. ii. 18. These two things, then, the saints have for the opening of their hearts at the throne of grace, — assistance and a way. The assistance of the Spirit, without which they are nothing; and the way of Christ’s mediation, without which God is not to be approached unto.

[3.] Boldness to go unto God. The voice of sinners in themselves, if once acquainted with the terror of the Lord, is, — “Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?” Isa. xxxiii. 14. And no marvel;230 shame and trembling before God are the proper issues of sin. God will revenge that carnal, atheistical boldness which sinners out of Christ do use towards him. But we have now “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh: and having an high priest over the house of God, we may draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith,” Heb. x. 19, 20. The truth is, such is the glory and terror of the Lord, such the infinite perfection of his holiness, that, on clear sight of it, it will make the soul conclude that of itself it231 cannot serve him; nor will it be to any advantage, but add to the fierceness of his destruction, once to draw nigh to him. It is in Christ alone, and on the account alone of his oblation and intercession, that we have any boldness to approach unto him. And these three advantages have the saints of communicating their minds unto the Lord Christ, which he hath provided for them, because he delights in them.

To touch a little by the way, because this is of great importance, I will instance in one of these, as I might in every one, that you may see the difference between a spiritual revealing of our minds unto Christ in this acceptable manner, and that praying upon conviction which others practise; and this shall be from the first, — namely, the assistance we have by the Spirit.

1st. The Spirit of Christ reveals to us our own wants, that we may reveal them unto him: “We know not what we should pray for as we ought,” Rom. viii. 26; no 232teachings under those of the Spirit of God are able to make our souls acquainted with their own wants, — its burdens, its temptations. For a soul to know its wants, its infirmities, is a heavenly discovery. He that hath this 233assistance, his prayer is more than half made before he begins to pray. His conscience is affected with what he hath to do; his mind and spirit contend within him, there especially where he finds himself most straitened. He brings his burden on his shoulders, and unloads himself on the Lord Christ. He finds (not by a perplexing conviction, but a holy sense and weariness of sin) where he is dead, where dull and cold, wherein unbelieving, wherein tempted above all his strength, where the light of God’s countenance is wanting. And all these the soul hath a sense of by the Spirit, — an inexpressible sense and experience. Without this, prayer is not prayer; 234men’s voices may be heard, but they speak not in their hearts. Sense of want is the spring of desire; — natural, of natural; spiritual, of spiritual. Without this sense given by the Holy Ghost, there is neither desire nor prayer.

2dly. The expressions, or the words of such persons, come exceeding short of the labouring of their hearts; and therefore, in and after their supplications, “the Spirit makes intercession with sighs and groans that cannot be 235uttered.” Some men’s words go exceedingly beyond their hearts. Did their spirits come up to their expressions, it were well. He that hath this assistance can provide no clothing that is large and broad enough to set forth the desires of his heart; and therefore, in the close of his best and most fervent supplications, such a person finds a double dissatisfaction in them:— 1. That they are not a righteousness to be rested on; that if God should236 mark what is in them amiss, they could not abide the trial. 2. That his heart in them is not poured out, nor delivered in any proportion to the holy desires and labourings that were conceived therein; though he may in Christ have great refreshment by them. The more they [saints] speak, the more they find they have left unspoken.

3dly. The intercession of the saints thus assisted is according to the mind of God; that is, they are guided by the Spirit to make requests for those things unto God which it is his will they should desire, — which he knows to be good for them, useful and suitable to them, in the condition wherein they are. There are many ways whereby we may know when we make our supplications according to the will of God. I shall instance only in one; that is, when we do it according to the promise: when our prayers are regulated by the promise, we make them according to the will of God. So David, Ps. cxix. 49, “Remember the word upon which thou hast caused me to hope.” He prays, and regulates his desire by the word of promise wherein he had trusted. But yet, men may ask that which is in the promise, and yet not have their prayers regulated by the promise. They may pray for what is in the promise, but not as it is in the promise. So James says some “ask and receive not, because they ask amiss, that they may spend it on their lusts,” chap. iv. 3. Though the things which God would have us ask be requested, yet if not according as he would have us do it, we ask amiss.

Two things are required, that we may pray for the things in the promise, as they are in the promise:—

(1st.) That we look upon them as promised, and promised in Christ; that is, that all the reason we have whence we hope for attaining the things we ask for, is from the mediation and purchase of Christ, in whom all the promises are yea and amen. This it is to ask the Father in Christ’s name, — God as a father, the fountain; and Christ as the procurer of them.

(2dly.) That we ask for them for the end of the promise, not to spend on our lusts. When we ask pardon for sin, with secret237 reserves in our hearts to continue in sin, we ask the choicest mercy of the covenant, to spend it on our lusts. The end of the promise the apostle tells us, 2 Cor. vii. 1, “Having these promises, let us cleanse ourselves from all pollution of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” When we ask what is in the promise, as it is in the promise, to this end of the promise, our supplications are according to the will of God. And this is the first conjugal affection that Christ exerciseth towards believers, — he delights in them; which that he doth is evident, as upon other considerations innumerable, so from the instance given.

In return hereunto, for the carrying on of the communion between them, the saints delight in Christ; he is their joy, their crown, their rejoicing, their life, food, health, strength, desire, righteousness, salvation, blessedness: without him they have nothing; in him they shall find all things. Gal. vi. 14, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He hath, from the foundation of the world, been the hope, expectation, desire, and delight of all believers. The promise of him was all (and it was enough) that God gave Adam in his inexpressible distress, to relieve and comfort him, Gen. iii. 15. Eve perhaps supposed that the promised seed had been born in her first-born, when she said, “I have gotten a man from238 the Lord” (so most properly, אֶת denoting the fourth case); and this was the matter of her joy, Gen. iv. 1. Lamech having Noah given to him as a type of Christ and salvation by him, cries out, “This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord hath cursed,” Gen. v. 29; he rejoices in him who was to take away the curse, by being made a curse for us. When Abraham was in the height of his glory, returning from the conquest of the kings of the east, that came against the confederate kings of the vale of Sodom, God appears to him with a glorious promise, Gen. xv. 1, “Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” What now could his soul more desire? Alas! he cries (as Reuben afterward, upon the loss of Joseph), “The child is not, and whither shall I go?” Verse 2, “Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless?” “Thou hast promised that in my seed shall all the earth be blessed; if I have not that seed, ah! what good will all other things do me?” Thence it is said that he “rejoiced to see the day of Christ; he saw it, and was glad,” John viii. 56; the thoughts of the coming of Christ, which he looked on at the distance of two thousand years, was the joy and delight of his heart. Jacob, blessing his sons, lifted up his spirit when he comes to Judah, in whom he considered the Shiloh to come, Gen. xlix. 8, 9; and a little after, wearied with the foresight and consideration of the distresses of his posterity, this he diverts to for his relief, as that great delight of his soul: “I have waited for thy Salvation, O God;” — for him who was to be the salvation of his people. But it would be endless to instance in particulars. Old Simon sums up the whole: Christ is God’s salvation, and Israel’s glory, Luke ii. 30, 31; and whatever was called the glory of old, it was either himself or a type of him. The glory of man is their delight. Hence, Haggai ii. 7, he is called “The Desire of all nations.” Him whom their soul loves and delights in, [they] desire and long after. So is the saints’ delight in him made a description of him, by way of eminence, Mal. iii. 1: “The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom ye delight in.” “He whom ye seek, whom ye delight in,” is the description of Christ. He is their delight and desirable one, the person of their desire. To fix on something in particular:—

In that pattern of communion with Jesus Christ which we have in the Canticles, this is abundantly insisted on. The spouse tells us that she sits down under his shadow with great delight, Cant. ii. 3. And this delight to be vigorous and active, she manifests several ways; wherein we should labour to find our hearts in like manner towards him:—

1. By her exceeding great care to keep his company and society, when once she had obtained it, chap. ii. 7, “I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love till he please.” Having obtained sweet communion with Christ, described in the verses foregoing (of which before), here she expresseth her delight in it and desire of the continuance of it; and therefore, following on the allusion formerly insisted on, she speaks as one would do to her companion, [as one] that had rest with one she loved: “I charge you, by all that is dear to you, — by the things you most delight in, which among the creatures are most lovely, all the pleasant and desirable things that you can think of, — that you disturb him not.” The sum of her aim and desire is, that nothing may fall out, nothing of sin or provocation happen, that may occasion Christ to depart from her, or to remove from that dispensation wherein he seemed to take that rest in her: “O stir him not up until he please!” that239 is, never. הָאַהֲבָה, — love itself in the abstract, to express a πάθος, or earnest affection; for so that word is often used. When once the soul of a believer hath obtained sweet and real communion with Christ, it looks about him, watcheth all temptations, all ways whereby sin might approach, to disturb him in his enjoyment of his dear Lord and Saviour, his rest and desire. How doth it charge itself not to omit any thing, nor to do any thing that may interrupt the communion obtained! And because the common entrance of temptations, which tend to the disturbance of that rest and complacency which Christ takes in the soul, is from delightful diversions from actual communion with him; therefore is desire strong and active that the companions of such a soul, those with whom it doth converse, would not, by their proposals or allurements, divert it into any such frame as Christ cannot delight nor rest in. A believer that hath gotten Christ in his arms, is like one that hath found great spoils, or a pearl of price. He looks about him every way, and fears every thing that may deprive him of it. Riches make men watchful; and the actual sensible possession of him, in whom are all the riches and treasure of God, will make men look about them for the keeping of him. The line of choicest communion, is a line of the greatest spiritual solicitousness: carelessness in the enjoyment of Christ pretended, is a manifest evidence of a false heart.

2. The spouse manifests her delight in him, by the utmost impatience of his absence, with desires still of nearer communion with him.240 Chap. viii. 6, “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.” The allusion is doubtless from the high priest of the Jews, in his spiritual representation of the church before God. He had a breastplate which he is said to wear on his heart, Exod. xxviii. 29, wherein the names of the children of Israel were engraven, after the manner of seals or signets, and he bare them for a memorial before the Lord. He had the like also upon his shoulders, or on his arms, verses 11, 12; both representing the priesthood of Christ, who bears the names of all his before his Father in the “holy of holies,” Heb. ix. 24. Now the seal on the heart, is near, inward, tender love and care, which gives an impression and image on the heart of the thing so loved. “Set me,” saith the spouse, “as a seal upon thine heart;” — “Let me be constantly fixed in thy most tender and affectionate love; let me always have a place in thine heart; let me have an engraving, a mighty impression of love, upon thine heart, that shall never be obliterated.” The soul is never satisfied with thoughts of Christ’s love to it. “O that it were more, that it were more! that I were as a ‘seal on his heart!’ ” is its language. The soul knows, indeed, on serious thoughts, that the love of Christ is inconceivable, and cannot be increased; but it would fain work up itself to an apprehension of it: and therefore she adds here, “Set me as a seal upon thine arm.” The heart is the fountain, but close and hidden; the arm is manifestation and power. “Let,” saith the spouse, “thy love be manifested to me in thy tender and powerful persuasion of me.” Two things are evident in this request:— the continual mindfulness of Christ of the soul, as having its condition still in his eye, engraven on his arm, Isa. xlix. 15, 16, with the exalting of his power for the preservation of it, suitable to the love of his heart unto it; and the manifestation of the hidden love and care of the heart of Christ unto the soul, being made visible on his arm, or evident by the fruit of it. This is that which she would be assured of; and without a sense whereof there is no rest to be obtained.

The reason she gives of this earnestness in her supplications, is that which principally evinces her delight in him: “Love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave,” or “hard as hell.” This is the intendment of what is so loftily set out by so many metaphors in this and the following verse:— “I am not able to bear the workings of my love to thee, unless I may always have society and fellowship with thee. There is no satisfying of my love without it. It is as the241 grave, that still says Give, give. Death is not satisfied without its prey; if it have not all, it hath nothing: let what will happen, if death hath not its whole desire, it hath nothing at all. Nor can it be withstood in its appointed season; no ransom will be taken. So is my love; if I have thee not wholly, I have nothing. Nor can all the world bribe it to a diversion; it will he no more turned aside than death in its time. Also, I am not able to bear my jealous thoughts: I fear thou dost not love me, that thou hast forsaken me; because I know I deserve not to be beloved. These thoughts are hard as hell; they give no rest to my soul: if I find not myself on thy heart and arm, I am as one that lies down in a bed of coals.” This also argues a holy greediness of delight.

3. She farther manifests this by her solicitousness, trouble, and perplexity, in his loss and withdrawings. Men bewail the loss of that whose whole enjoyment they delight in; we easily bear the absence of that whose presence is not delightful. This state of the spouse is discovered, Cant. iii. 1–3, “By242 night on my bed I sought him whom243 my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?” It is night now with the soul, — a time of darkness and trouble, or affliction. Whenever Christ is absent, it is night with a believer. He is the244sun; if he go down upon them, if his beams be eclipsed, if in his light they see no light, it is all darkness with them. Here, whether the coming of the night of any trouble on her made her discover Christ’s absence, or the absence of Christ made it night with her, is not expressed. I rather think the latter; because, setting that aside, all things seem to be well with her. The absence of Christ will indeed make it night, dark as darkness itself, in the midst of all other glowing consolations. But is the spouse contented with this dispensation? She is upon her bed, — that is, of ease (the bed, indeed, sometimes signifies tribulation, Rev. ii. 22; but in this book, everywhere, rest and contentment: here is not the least intimation of any tribulation but what is in the want of Christ); but in the greatest peace and opportunity of ease and rest, a believer finds none in the absence of Christ: though he be on his bed, having nothing to disquiet him, he rests not, if Christ, his rest, be not there. She “sought him.” Seeking of Christ by night, on the bed (that is, alone, in immediate inquest, and in the dark), hath two parts:— searching of our own souls for the cause of his absence; secondly, searching the promises for his presence.

(1.) The soul finding not Christ present in his wonted manner, warming, cherishing, reviving it with love, nigh to it, supping with it, always filling its thoughts with himself, dropping myrrh and sweet tastes of love into it; but, on the contrary, that other thoughts crowd in and perplex the heart, and Christ is not nigh when inquired after; it presently inquires into the cause of all this,245 calls itself to an account what it hath done, how it hath behaved itself, that it is not with it as at other times, — that Christ hath withdrawn himself, and is not nigh to it in the wonted manner. Here it accomplishes a diligent search; it considers the love, tenderness, and kindness of the Lord Jesus, what delight he takes in abiding with his saints, so that his departure is not without cause and provocation. “How,” saith it, “have I demeaned myself, that I have lost my Beloved? where have I been wandering after other lovers?” And when the miscarriage is found out, it abounds in revenge and indignation.

(2.) Having driven this to some issue, the soul applieth itself to the promises of the covenant, wherein Christ is most graciously exhibited unto it; considers one, ponders another, to find a taste of him; — it considers diligently if it can see the delightful countenance and favour of Christ in them or no. But now, if (as it often falls out) the soul finds nothing but the carcase, but the bare letter, in the promise, — if it come to it as to the grave of Christ, of which it may be said (not in itself, but in respect of the seeking soul), “He is risen, he is not here,” — this amazes the soul, and it knows not what to do. As a man that hath a jewel of great price, having no occasion to use it, lays it aside, as he supposes, in a safe place; in an agony and extremity of want going to seek for his jewel, he finds it not in the place he expected, and is filled with amazement, and knows not what to do; — so is it with this pearl of the gospel. After a man hath sold all that he hath for it, and enjoyed it for a season, then to have it missing at a time of need, it must needs perplex him. So was it with the spouse here. “I sought him,” saith she, “but I found him not;” a thing which not seldom befalls us in our communion with Christ.

But what doth she now do? doth she give over, and search no more? Nay; but says she, verse 2, “ ‘I will arise;’ I will not so give over. I must have Christ, or die. I will now arise,” (or, “let me arise,”) “and go about this business.”

[1.] She resolves to put herself upon another course, a more vigorous inquest: “I will arise and make use of other means besides those of private prayer, meditation, self-searching, and inquiring into the promises;” which she had insisted on before. It carries, —

1st. Resolution, and a zealous, violent casting off that frame wherein she had lost her love. “ ‘I246 will arise;’ I will not rest in this frame: I am undone if I do.” So, sometimes God calls his church to arise and shake itself out of the dust. Abide not in that condition.

2dly. Diligence. “I will now take another course; I will leave no way unattempted, no means untried, whereby I may possibly recover communion with my Beloved.”

This is the condition of a soul that finds not the wonted presence of Christ in its private and more retired inquiries, — dull in prayer, wandering in meditations, rare in thoughts of him, — “I will not bear this frame: whatever way God hath appointed, I will, in his strength, vigorously pursue, until this frame be altered, and I find my Beloved.”

[2.] Then the way she puts herself upon, is to go about the city. Not to insist upon particulars, nor to strain the parts of the allegory too far, the city here intended is the city of God, the church; and the passing through the broad and narrow streets, is the diligent inquiry that the spouse makes in all the paths and ordinances given unto it. This, then, is the next thing the soul addresses itself unto in the want of Christ:— when it finds him not in any private endeavours, it makes vigorous application to the ordinances of public worship; in prayer, in preaching, in administration of the seals, doth it look after Christ. Indeed, the great inquiry the souls of believers make, in every ordinance, is after Christ. So much as they find of him, so much sweetness and refreshment have they, and no more. Especially when under any desertion, they rise up to this inquiry: they listen to every word, to every prayer, to find if any thing of Christ, any light from him, any life, any love, appears to them. “Oh, that Christ would at length meet me in this or that sermon, and recover my poor heart to some sight of his love, — to some taste at kindness!” The solicitousness of a believer in his inquest after Christ, when he finds not his presence, either for grace or consolation, as in former days, is indeed inexpressible. Much of the frame of such a heart is couched in the redoubling of the expression, “I sought him, I sought him;” setting out an inconceivable passion, and suitably industrious desire. Thus, being disappointed at home, the spouse proceeds.

But yet see the event of this also: “She sought him, but found him not.” It doth sometimes so fall out, all will not do: “They shall seek him, and not find him;” they shall not come nigh him. Let them that enjoy any thing of the presence of Christ take heed what they do; if they provoke him to depart, if they lose him, it may cost them many a bitter inquiry before they find him again. When a soul prays and meditates, searches the promises in private; when it with earnestness and diligence attends all ordinances in public, and all to get one glimpse of the face of Jesus Christ, and all in vain, it is a sad condition.

What now follows in this estate? Verse 3, “The watchmen found me,” etc. That these watchmen of the city of God are the watchmen and officers of the church, is confessed. And it is of sad consideration, that the Holy Ghost doth sometimes in this book take notice of them on no good account. Plainly, chap. v. 7, they turn persecutors. It was Luther’s saying, “Nunquam periclitatur religio nisi inter reverendissimos.” Here they are of a more gentle temper, and seeing the poor disconsolate soul, they seem to take notice of her condition.

It is the duty, indeed, of faithful watchmen, to take notice of poor, troubled, deserted souls; — not to keep at a distance, but to be willing to assist. And a truly pressed soul on the account of Christ’s absence cannot cover its love, but must be inquiring after him: “Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?” — “This is my condition: I have had sweet enjoyment of my blessed Jesus, — he is now withdrawn from me. Can you help me? can you guide me to my consolation. What acquaintance have you with him? when saw you him? how did he manifest himself to you, and wherein?” All these labourings in his absence sufficiently discover the soul’s delight in the presence of Christ. Go one step farther, to the discovery that it made of him once again, and it will yet be more evident. Verses 4, 5, “It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem,” etc.

First, She tells you how she came to him: “She found him;” — what ways and by what means is not expressed. It often so falls out in our communion with Christ, when private and public means fail, and the soul hath nothing left but waiting silently and walking humbly, Christ appears; that his so doing may be evidently of grace. Let us not at any time give over in this condition. When all ways are past, the summer and harvest are gone without relief, — when neither bed nor watchmen can assist, — let us wait a little, and we shall see the Salvation of God. Christ honours his immediate absolute actings sometimes, though ordinarily he crowns his ordinances. Christ often manifests himself immediately, and out of ordinances, to them that wait for him in them; — that he will do so to them that despise them, I know not. Though he will meet men unexpectedly in his way, yet he will not meet them at all out of it. Let us wait as he hath appointed; let him appear as he pleaseth. How she deals with him when found is nextly declared: “She held him, and would not let him go,” etc. They are all expressions of the greatest joy and delight imaginable. The sum is:— having at length come once more to an enjoyment of sweet communion with Christ, the soul lays fast hold on him by faith (κρατεῖν, “to hold fast,” is an act of faith), refuses to part with him any more, in vehemency of love, — tries to keep him in ordinances in the house of its mother, the church of God; and so uses all means for the confirming of the mutual love between Christ and her: all the expressions, all the allusions used, evidencing delight to the utmost capacity of the soul. Should I pursue all the instances and testimonies that are given hereunto, in that one book of the Song of Solomon, I must enter upon an exposition of the greatest part of it; which is not my present business. Let the hearts of the saints that are acquainted with these things be allowed to make the close. What is it they long for, they rejoice in? what is it that satisfies them to the utmost, and gives sweet complacency to their spirits in every condition? what is it whose loss they fear, whose absence they cannot bear? Is it not this their Beloved, and he alone?

This, also, they farther manifest by their delight in every thing that peculiarly belongs to Christ, as his, in this world. This is an evidence of delight, when, for his sake whom we delight in, we also delight in every thing that belongs to him. Christ’s great interest in this world lies in his people and his ordinances, — his household and their provision. Now in both these do the saints exceedingly delight, for his sake. Take an instance in both kinds in one man, namely, David, Ps. xvi. 3, “In the saints and the excellent” (or the noble) “of the earth is all my delight; my delight in them.” Christ says of his church that she is “Hephzi-bah,” Isa. lxii., “My delight in her.” Here says David of the same, “Hephzi-bam, — “My delight in them.” As Christ delights in his saints, so do they in one another, on his account. “Here,” says David, “is all my delight.” Whatever contentment he took in any other persons, it was nothing in comparison of the delight he took in them. Hence, mention is made of “laying down our lives for the brethren,” or any common cause wherein the interest of the community of the brethren doth lie.

Secondly, For the ordinances, consider the same person. Ps. xlii., lxxxiv., and xlviii., are such plentiful testimonies throughout, as we need no farther inquiring; nor shall I go forth to a new discourse on this particular.

And this is the first mutual consequential act of conjugal affection, in this communion between Christ and believers:— he delights in them, and they delight in him. He delights in their prosperity, hath pleasure in it; they delight in his honour and glory, and in his presence with them. For his sake they delight in his servants (though by the world contemned) as the most excellent in the world; and in his ordinances, as the wisdom of God; — which are foolishness to the world.

—————————————————————————————
221 The division to which reference is here made will be found on page 56. The figure [2.] should have been inserted at the head of this chapter, to correspond with [1.] on that page. The insertion of it, however, would have required great changes, and rendered the subsequent numeration very obscure. — Ed.
222 Ἡδονὴ μᾶλλον ἐν ἠρεμίᾳ ἐστίν, ἢ ἐν κινήσει. — Arist. Eth., lib. vii., cap. 14. Τελειοι δὲ τὴν ἐνέργειαν ἡ ἡδονή. — Id. l. 10, c. 4.
223 Mal. iv. 2; Luke i. 78; 2 Pet. i. 19.
224 “Voluntatem Dei nosse quisquam desiderat? fiat amicus Deo, quia si voluntatem hominis nosse vellet, cujus amicus non esset, omnes ejus impudentiam et stultitiam deriderent.” — August, de Gen. Cont. Man., lib. i. cap. 2.
225 “Vox πάντα ex subjecta materia, restrictionem ad doctrinam salutis requirit.” — Tarnov. in loc.
226 Rev. viii. 3;
227 Hos. vii. 14; Isa. lxvi. 3; Prov. xxviii. 9.
228 “Vera via vitæ.” — Bez.
229 “Via nullius ante trita solo. Πρόσφατον καὶ ζῶσαν, recens interfectam; tamen viventem.”
230 Gen. iii. 8, 9;
231 Josh. xxiv. 19; Exod. xx. 19; Deut. v. 25, xviii. 16; Isa. xxxiii. 14; Mic. vi. 6, 7.
232 Isa. xxxviii. 14.
233 “Ὑπερεντυγχάνειν, est advocatorum qui clientibus desideria dictant.”
234 1 Sam. i. 13.
235 Isa. xxxviii. 14; Exod. xiv. 15.
236 Isa. lxiv. 6; Ps. cxxx. 3;
237 Ps. lxxviii. 35–37.
238 According to the view to which Owen refers, the preposition should be dropped from the translation, and אֶת regarded as in apposition with Jehovah, — “I have gotten a man, Jehovah.” The particle אֶת occurs in this sense, as simply demonstrative, forty times in the first four chapters of Genesis. — Ed.
239 “Æternitatem temporis juxta sensum mysticum in se includit, ut alias in Scriptura; quia nunquam a tali somno, id est, conjunctione cum sponso, excitari velit.” —Mer. in loc.
240 Hag. ii. 23; Jer. xxii. 24.
241 Prov. xxx. 16.
242 Isa. l. 10.
243 “Eleganter periphrasi utitur loco nominis proprii, ut vim amoris sui exprimat.” — Merc. “Ista repetitio assensum indicat et studium quo eum quærebat, et mœrorem quo angebatur, quod occurrere non posset.” — Idem.
244 Mal. iv. 2.
245 2 Cor. xiii. 5.
246 Isa. lii. 2, lx. 1.

Chapter 5.

Other consequential affections:— 1. On the part of Christ — He values his saints — Evidences of that valuation:— (1.) His incarnation; (2.) Exinanition, 2 Cor. viii. 9; Phil. ii. 6, 7; (3.) Obedience as a servant; (4.) In his death. His valuation of them in comparison of others. 2. Believers’ estimation of Christ:— (1.) They value him above all other things and persons; (2.) Above their own lives; (3.) All spiritual excellencies. The sum of all on the part of Christ — The sum on the part of believers. The third conjugal affection — On the part of Christ, pity or compassion — Wherein manifested — Suffering and supply, fruits of compassion — Several ways whereby Christ relieves the saints under temptations — His compassion in their afflictions. Chastity, the third conjugal affection in the saints. The fourth — On the part of Christ, bounty; on the part of the saints, duty.

II. Christ values his saints, values believers (which is the second branch of that conjugal affection he bears towards them), having taken them into the relation whereof we speak. I shall not need to insist long on the demonstration hereof; heaven and earth are full of evidences of it. Some few considerations will give life to the assertion. Consider them, then, — 1. Absolutely; 2. In respect of others; and you will see what a valuation he puts upon them:—

1. All that ever he did or doth, all that ever he underwent or suffered as mediator, was for their sakes. Now, these things were so great and grievous, that had he not esteemed them above all that can be expressed, he had never engaged to their performance and undergoing. Take a few instances:—

(1.) For their sakes was he “made247flesh;” “manifested in the flesh.” Heb. ii. 14, “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same.” And the height of this valuation of them the apostle aggravates. Verse 16, “Verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham;” he had no such esteem of angels. Whether you take ἐπιλαμβάμεσθαι, properly to “take,” or to “take hold of,” as our translators, and so supply the word “nature,” and refer the whole unto Christ’s incarnation, who therein took our nature on him, and not the nature of angels; or for ἀναλαμβάνεσθαι, to “help,” (he did not help nor succour fallen angels, but he did help and248 succour the seed of Abraham,) and so consider it as the fruit of Christ’s incarnation, — it is all one, as to our present business: his preferring the seed of Abraham before angels, his valuing them above the other, is plainly expressed. And observe, that he came to help the seed of Abraham, — that is,249believers. His esteem and valuation is of them only.

(2.) For their sakes he was so made flesh, as that there was an emptying, an exinanition of himself, and an eclipsing of his glory, and a becoming poor for them, 2 Cor. viii. 9, “Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor.” Being rich in eternal glory with his Father, John xvii. 5, he became poor for believers. The same person that was rich was also poor. That the riches here meant can be none but those of the Deity, is evident, by its opposition to the poverty which as man he undertook. This is also more fully expressed, Phil. ii. 6, 7, “Who being in the form of God, counted it no robbery to be equal to God, but he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and being made in the fashion of a man, and found in form as a man,” etc. That the “form of God” is here the essence of the Deity, sundry things inevitably evince; as, —

[1.] That he was therein250 equal to God; that is, his Father. Now, nothing but God is equal to God. Not251 Christ as he is mediator, in his greatest glory, — nothing but that which is infinite, is equal to that which is infinite.

[2.] The form of God is opposed to the form of a servant; and that form of a servant is called the “fashion of a man,” verse 8, — that fashion wherein he was found when he gave himself to death, wherein as a man he poured out his blood and died. Μορφὴν δούλου λαβὼν, (he “took the form of a servant”), is expounded in the next words, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος, — an expression used to set out his incarnation, Rom. viii. 3. God sent him ἐν ὁμοιώματι σαρκὸς ἁμαρτίας· in taking true flesh, he was in the “likeness of sinful flesh.” Now, in thus doing, it is said ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσε, — “he humbled, emptied himself, made himself of no reputation.” In the very taking of flesh, there was a condescension, a debasing of the person of the Son of God; it could not be without it. If God humbled himself to “behold the things that are in heaven, and in the earth,” Ps. cxiii. 6, then certainly it was an inconceivable condescension and abasement, not only to behold, but take upon him (into personal union) our nature with himself. And though nothing could possibly be taken off from the essential glory of the Deity, yet that person appearing in the fashion of a man, and form of a servant, the glory of it, as to the manifestation, was eclipsed; and he appeared252 quite another thing than what indeed he was, and had been from eternity. Hence he prays that his Father would “glorify him with the glory he had with him before the world was,” John xvii. 5, as to the manifestation of it. And so, though the divine nature was not abased, the person was.

(3.) For their sakes he so humbled and emptied himself, in taking flesh, as to become therein a servant, — in the eyes of the world of no esteem nor account; and a true and real servant253 unto the Father. For their sakes he humbled himself, and became obedient. All that he did and suffered in his life comes under this consideration; all which may be referred to these three heads:— 254[1.] Fulfilling all righteousness. [2.] Enduring all manner of persecutions and hardships. [3.] Doing all manner of good to men. He took on him, for their sakes, a life and course pointed to, Heb. v. 7, 8, — a life of prayers, tears, fears, obedience, suffering; and all this with cheerfulness and delight, calling his employment his “meat and drink,” and still professing that the law of this obedience was in his255 heart, — that he was content to do this will of God. He that will sorely revenge the least opposition that is or shall be made to him by others, was content to undergo any thing, all things, for believers.

(4.) He stays not here, but (for the consummation of all that went before) for their sakes he becomes obedient to death, the death of the cross. So he professeth to his Father, John xvii. 19, “For their sakes I sanctify myself;” — “I dedicate myself as an offering, as a sacrifice, to be killed and slain.” This was his aim in all the former, that he might die; he was born, and 256lived, that he might die. He valued them above his life. And if we might stay to consider a little what was in this death that he underwent for them, we should perceive what a price indeed he put upon them. The curse257 of the law was in it, the 258wrath of God was in it, the loss of God’s 259presence was in it. It was a 260fearful cup that he tasted of, and drank of, that they might never taste of it. A man would not for ten thousand worlds be willing to undergo that which Christ underwent for us in that one thing of desertion from God, were it attended with no more distress but what a mere creature might possibly emerge from under. And what thoughts we should have of this himself tells us, John xv. 13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” It is impossible there should be any greater demonstration or evidence of love than this. What can any one do more? And yet he tells us in another place, that it hath another aggravation and heightening, Rom. v. 8, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” When he did this for us we were sinners, and enemies, whom he might justly have destroyed. What more can be done? — to die for us when we were sinners! Such a death, in such a manner, with such attendancies of wrath and curse, — a death accompanied with the worst that God had ever threatened to sinners, — argues as high a valuation of us as the heart of Christ himself was capable of.

For one to part with his glory, his riches, his ease, his life, his love from God, to undergo loss, shame, wrath, curse, death, for another, is an evidence of a dear valuation; and that it was all on this account, we are informed, Heb. xii. 2. Certainly Christ had a dear esteem of them, that, rather than they should perish, — that they should not be his, and be made partakers of his glory, — he would part with all he had for their sakes, Eph. v. 25, 26.

There would be no end, should I go through all the instances of Christ’s valuation of believers, in all their deliverances, afflictions, in all conditions of sinning and suffering, — what he hath done, what he doth in his intercession, what he delivers them from, what he procures for them; all telling out this one thing, — they are the apple of his eye, his jewel, his diadem, his crown.

2. In comparison of others. All the world is nothing to him in comparison of them. They are his garden; the rest of the world, a wilderness. Cant. iv. 12, “A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.” They are his inheritance; the rest, his enemies, of no regard with him. So Isa. xliii. 3, 4, “I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast 261precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” The reason of this dealing of Christ with his church, in parting with all others for them, is, because he loves her. She is precious and honourable in his sight; thence he puts this great esteem upon her. Indeed, he disposeth of all nations and their interests according as is for the good of believers. Amos ix. 9, in all the siftings of the nations, the eye of God is upon the house of Israel; not a grain of them shall perish. Look to heaven; angels are appointed to minister for them, Heb. i. 14. Look into the world; the nations in general are either 262blessed for their sakes, or 263destroyed on their account, — preserved to try them, or rejected for their cruelty towards them; and will receive from Christ their 264final doom according to their deportment towards these despised ones. On this account are the pillars of the earth borne up, and patience is exercised towards the perishing world. In a word, there is not the meanest, the weakest, the poorest believer on the earth, but Christ prizes him more than all the world besides. Were our hearts filled much with thoughts hereof, it would tend much to our consolation.

To answer this, believers also value Jesus Christ; they have an esteem of him above all the world, and all things in the world. You have been in part acquainted with this before, in the account that was given of their delight in him, and inquiry after him. They say of him in their hearts continually, as David, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and none upon earth I desire beside thee.” Ps. lxxiii. 25. Neither heaven nor earth will yield them an object any way comparable to him, that they can delight in.

1. They value him above all other things and persons. “Mallem,”, said one,265 “ruere cum Christo, quam regnare cum Cæsare. Pulchra terra, pulchrum cœlum, sed pulcherrimus dominus Jesus;” — Christ and a dungeon, Christ and a cross, is infinitely sweeter than a crown, a sceptre without him, to their souls. So was it with Moses, Heb. xi. 26, “He esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” The reproach of Christ is the worst consequent that the wickedness of the world or the malice of Satan can bring upon the followers of him. The treasures of Egypt were in those days the greatest in the world; Moses despised the very best of the world, for the worst of the cross of Christ. Indeed, himself hath told believers, that if they love any thing better than him, father or mother, they are not worthy of him. A despising of all things for Christ is the very first lesson of the gospel. “Give away all, take up the cross and follow me,” was the way whereby he tried his disciples of old; and if there be not the same mind and heart in us, we are none of his.

2. They value him above their lives. Acts xx. 24, “My life is not dear, that I may perfect my course with joy, and the ministry I have received of the Lord Jesus;” — “Let life and all go, so that I may serve him; and, when all is done, enjoy him, and be made like to him.” It is known what is reported of 266Ignatius when he was led to martyrdom: “Let what will,” said he, “come upon me, only so I may obtain Jesus Christ.” Hence they of old rejoiced when whipped, scourged, put to shame, for his sake, Acts v. 41; Heb. xi. All is welcome that comes from him, or for him. The lives they have to live, the death they have to die, is little, is light, upon the thoughts of him who is the stay of their lives and the end of their death. Were it not for the refreshment which daily they receive by thoughts of him, they could not live, — their lives would be a burden to them; and the thoughts of enjoyment of him made them cry with Paul, “Oh that we were dissolved!” The stories of the martyrs of old and of late, the sufferers in giving witness to him under the dragon and under the false prophet, the neglect of life in women and children on his account, contempt of torments, whilst his name sweetened all, have rendered this truth clear to men and angels.

3. They value him above all spiritual excellencies, and all other righteousness whatever, Phil. iii. 7, 8, “Those things which were advantage to me, I esteemed loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whose sake I have lost all things, and do esteem them common, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him.” Having recounted the excellencies which he had, and the privileges which he enjoyed, in his Judaism, — which were all of a spiritual nature, and a participation wherein made the rest of his countrymen despise all the world, and look upon themselves as the only acceptable persons with God, resting on them for righteousness, — the apostle tells us what is his esteem of them, in comparison of the Lord Jesus. They are “loss and dung,” — things that for his sake he had really suffered the loss of; that is, whereas he had for many years been a zealot of the law, — seeking after a righteousness as it were by the works of it, Rom. ix. 32, — instantly serving God day and night, to obtain the promise, Acts xxvi. 7, — living in all good conscience from his youth, Acts xxiii., — all the while very zealous for God and his institutions, — now [he] willingly casts away all these things, looks upon them as loss and dung, and could not only be contented to be without them, but, as for that end for which he sought after them, he abhorred them all. When men have been strongly convinced of their duty, and have laboured many years to keep a 267good conscience, — have prayed, and heard, and done good, and denied themselves, and been 268zealous for God, and laboured with all their might to 269please him, and so at length to come to enjoy him; they had rather 270part with all the world, life and all, than with this they have wrought. You know how unwilling we are to part with any thing we have laboured and beaten our heads about? How much more when the things are so excellent, as our duty to God, blamelessness of conversation, hope of heaven, and the like, which we have beaten our hearts about. But now, when once Christ appears to the soul, when he is known in his excellency, all these things, as without him, have their paint washed off, their beauty fades, their desirableness vanisheth, and the soul is not only contented to part with them all, but puts them away as a defiled thing, and cries, “In the Lord Jesus only is my righteousness271 and glory.” Prov. iii. 13–15, among innumerable testimonies, may be admitted to give witness hereunto, “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and all the things that thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.” It is of Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God, the eternal Wisdom of the Father, that the Holy Ghost speaks; as is evident from the description which is given hereof, chap. viii. He and his ways are better than silver and gold, rubies, and all desirable things; as in the gospel he likens himself to the272 “pearl in the field,” which when the merchant man finds, he sells all that he hath, to purchase. All goes for Christ; — all righteousness without him, all ways of religion, all goes for that one pearl. The glory of his Deity, the excellency of his person, his all-conquering desirableness, ineffable love, wonderful undertaking, unspeakable condescensions, effectual mediation, complete righteousness, lie in their eyes, ravish their hearts, fill their affections, and possess their souls. And this is the second mutual conjugal affection between Christ and believers; all which, on the part of Christ, may be referred unto two heads:—

1. All that he parted withal, all that he did, all that he suffered, all that he doth as mediator; he parted withal, did, suffered, doth, on the account of his 273love to and esteem of believers. He parted with the greatest glory, he underwent the greatest misery, he doth the greatest works that ever were, because he loves his spouse, — because he values believers. What can more, what can farther be spoken? how little is the depth of that which is spoken fathomed! how unable are we to look into the mysterious recesses of it! He so loves, so values his saints, as that, having from eternity undertaken to bring them to God, he rejoices his soul in the thoughts of it; and pursues his design through heaven and hell, life and death, by suffering and doing, in mercy and with power; and ceaseth not until he bring it to perfection. For, —

2. He doth so value them, as that he will not lose any of them to eternity, though all the world should combine to take them out of his hand. When in the days of his flesh he foresaw what opposition, what danger, what rocks they should meet withal, he cried out, “Holy Father, keep them,” John xvii. 11; — “Let not one of them be lost;” and tells us plainly, John x. 28, that no man shall take his sheep out of his hand. And because he was then in the form of a servant, and it might be supposed that he might not be able to hold them, he tells them true, as to his present condition of carrying on the work of mediation, his “Father was greater than he;”274 and therefore to him he committed them, and none should take them out of his Father’s hand, John x. 29. And whereas the world, afflictions, and persecutions, which are without, may be conquered, and yet no security given but that sin from within, by the assistance of Satan, may prevail against them to their ruin; as he hath provided against Satan, in his promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against them, so he hath taken care that sin itself shall not destroy them. Herein, indeed, is the depth of his love to be contemplated, that whereas his holy soul hates every sin (it is a burden, an abomination, a new wound to him), and his poor spouse is sinful (believers are full of sins, failings, and infirmities), he hides all, covers all, bears with all, rather than he will lose them; by his power preserving them from such sins as a remedy is not provided for in the covenant of grace. Oh, the world of sinful follies that our dear Lord Jesus bears withal on this account! Are not our own souls astonished with the thoughts of it? Infinite patience, infinite forbearance, infinite love, infinite grace, infinite mercy, are all set on work for this end, to answer this his valuation of us.

On our part it may also be referred to two heads:—

1. That, upon the discovery of him to our souls, they rejoice to 275part with all things wherein they have delighted or reposed their confidence, for him and his sake, that they may enjoy him. Sin and lust, pleasure and profit, righteousness and duty, in their several conditions, all shall go, so they may have Christ.

2. That they are willing to part with all things rather than with 276him, when they do enjoy him. To think of parting with peace, health, liberty, relations, wives, children; it is offensive, heavy, and grievous to the best of the saints: but their souls cannot bear the thoughts of parting with Jesus Christ; such a thought is cruel as the grave. The worst thoughts that, in any fear, 277in desertions, they have of278 hell, is, that they shall not enjoy Jesus Christ. So they may enjoy him here, hereafter be like him, be ever with him, stand in his presence; they can part with all things freely, cheerfully, be they never so beautiful, in reference to this life or that which is to come.

III. The third conjugal affection on the part of Christ is pity and compassion. As a man “nourisheth and cherisheth his 279own flesh, so doth the Lord his church,” Eph. v. 29. Christ hath a fellow feeling with his saints in all their troubles, as a man hath with his own flesh. This act of the conjugal love of Christ relates to the many trials and pressures of afflictions that his saints meet withal here below. He doth not deal with believers as the Samaritans with the Jews, that fawned on them in their prosperity, but despised them in their trouble; he is as a tender 280father, who, though perhaps he love all his children alike, yet he will take most pains with, and give most of his presence unto, one that is sick and weak, though therein and thereby he may be made most froward, and, as it should seem, hardest to be borne with. And (which is more than the pity of any father can extend to) he himself suffers with them, and takes share in all their troubles.

Now, all the sufferings of the saints in this world, wherein their head and husband exerciseth pity, tenderness, care, and compassion towards them, are of two sorts, or may be referred to two heads:— 1. Temptations. 2. Afflictions.

1. Temptations (under which head I comprise sin also, whereto they tend); as in, from, and by their own infirmities; as also from their adversaries without. The frame of the heart of Christ, and his deportment towards them in this condition, you have, Heb. iv. 15, “We have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” We have not such a one as cannot. The two negations do vehemently affirm that we have such an high priest as can be, or is, touched. The word “touched” comes exceedingly short of expressing the original word; it is 281συμπαθῆσαι, — to “suffer together.” “We have,” saith the apostle, “such an high priest as can, and consequently doth, suffer with us, — endure our infirmities.” And in what respect he suffers with us in regard of our infirmities, or hath a fellow-feeling with us in them, he declares in the next words, “He was tempted like as we are,” verse 15. It is as to our 282infirmities, our temptations, spiritual weakness; therein, in particular, hath he a compassionate sympathy and fellow-feeling with us. Whatever be our infirmities, so far as they are our temptations, he doth suffer with us under them, and compassionates us. Hence at the last 283day he saith, “I was an hungered,” etc. There are two ways of expressing a fellow-feeling and suffering with another:— (1.) Per benevolam condolentiam, — a “friendly grieving.” (2.) Per gratiosam opitulationem, — a “gracious supply:” both are eminent in Christ:—

(1.) He 284grieves and labours with us. Zech. i. 12, “The angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem?” He speaks as one intimately affected with the state and condition of poor Jerusalem; and therefore he hath bid all the world take notice that what is done to them is done to him, chap. ii. 8, 9; yea, to “the 285apple of his eye.”

(2.) In the second he abounds. Isa. xl. 11, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead them that are with young.” Yea, we have both here together, — tender compassionateness and assistance. The whole frame wherein he is here described is a 286frame of the greatest 287tenderness, compassion, condescension that can be imagined. His people are set forth under many infirmities; some are lambs, some great with young, some very tender, some burdened with temptations, — nothing in any of them all strong or comely. To them all Christ is 288a shepherd, that feeds his own sheep, and drives them out to pleasant pasture; where, if he sees a poor weak lamb, [he] doth not thrust him on, but takes him into his bosom, where he both easeth and refresheth him: he leads him gently and tenderly. As did Jacob them that were burdened with 289young, so doth our dear Lord Jesus with his flock, in the several ways and paths wherein he leads them. When he sees a poor soul, weak, tender, halting, ready to sink and perish, he takes him into his arms, by some gracious promise administered to him, carries him, bears him up when he is not able to go one step forward. Hence is his great quarrel with those shepherds, Ezek. xxxiv. 4, “Woe be to you shepherds! the diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost.” This is that which our careful, tender husband would have done.

So mention being made of his compassionateness and fellow-suffering with us, Heb. iv. 15, it is added, verse 16, that he administers χάριν εἰς εὔκαιρον βοήθειαν, — seasonable grace, grace for help in a time of need. This is an evidence of compassion, when, like the Samaritan, we afford seasonable help. To lament our troubles or miseries, without affording help, is to no purpose. Now, this Christ doth; he gives εὔκαιρον βοήθειαν, — seasonable help. Help being a thing that regards want, is always excellent; but its coming in season puts a crown upon it. A pardon to a malefactor when he is ready to be executed, is sweet and welcome. Such is the assistance given by Christ. All his saints may take this as a sure rule, both in their temptations and afflictions:— when they can want them, they shall not want relief; and when they can bear no longer, they shall be relieved, 1 Cor. x. 13.

So it is said emphatically of him, Heb. ii. 18, “In that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” It is true, there is something in all our temptations more than was in the temptation of Christ. There is something in ourselves to take part with every temptation; and there is enough in ourselves to 290tempt us, though nothing else should appear against us. With Christ it was not so, John xiv. 30. But this is so far from taking off his compassion towards us, that, on all accounts whatever, it doth increase it; for if he will give us succour because we are tempted, the sorer our temptations are, the more ready will he be to succour us. Take some instances of Christ’s giving εὔκαιρον βοήθειαν, — seasonable help in and under temptations unto sin. Now this he doth several ways:—

[1.] By keeping the soul which is liable to temptation and exposed to it, in a strong habitual bent against that sin that he is obnoxious to the assaults of. So it was in the case of Joseph: Christ knew that Joseph’s great trial, and that whereon if he had been conquered he had been undone, would lie upon the hand of his mistress tempting him to lewdness; whereupon he kept his heart in a steady frame against that sin, as his answer without the least deliberation argues, Gen. xxxix. 9. In other things, wherein he was not so deeply concerned, Joseph’s heart was not so fortified by habitual grace; as it appears by his swearing by the 291life of Pharaoh. This is one way whereby Christ gives suitable help to his, in tenderness and compassion. The saints, in the course of their lives, by the company, society, business, they are cast upon, are liable and exposed to temptations great and violent, some in one kind, some in another. Herein is Christ exceedingly kind and tender to them, in fortifying their hearts with abundance of grace as to that sin unto temptations whereunto they are most exposed; when perhaps in other things they are very weak, and are often surprised.

[2.] Christ sometimes, by some strong impulse of actual grace, recovers the soul from the very borders of sin. So it was in the case of David, 1 Sam. xxiv. 4–6. “He was almost gone,” as he speaks himself; “his feet had well-nigh slipped.” The temptation was at the door of prevalence, when a mighty impulse of grace recovers him. To show his saints what they are, their own weakness and infirmity, he sometimes suffers them to go to the very edge and brow of the hill, and then causeth them to hear a word behind them saying, “This is the right way, walk in it,” — and that with power and efficacy; and so recovers them to himself.

[3.] By taking away the temptation itself, when it grows so strong and violent that the poor soul knows not what to do. This is called “delivering the godly out of temptation,” 2 Pet. ii. 9, as a man is plucked out of the snare, and the snare left behind to hold another. This have I known to be the case of many, in sundry perplexing temptations. When they have been quite weary, have tried all means of help and assistance, and have not been able to come to a comfortable issue, on a sudden, unexpectedly, the Lord Christ, in his tenderness and compassion, rebukes Satan, that they hear not one word more of him as to their temptation. Christ comes in in the storm, and saith, “Peace, be still.”

[4.] By giving in fresh supplies of grace, according as temptations do grow or increase. So was it in the case of Paul, 2 Cor. xii. 9, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” The temptation, whatever it were, grew high; Paul was earnest for its removal; and receives only this answer, of the sufficiency of the grace of God for his supportment, notwithstanding all the growth and increase of the temptation.

[5.] By giving them wisdom to make a right, holy, and spiritual improvement of all temptations. James bids us “count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations,” James i. 2: which could not be done were there not a holy and spiritual use to be made of them; which also himself manifests in the words following. There are manifold uses of temptations, which experienced Christians, with assistance suitable from Christ, may make of them. This is not the least, that by them we are brought to know ourselves. So Hezekiah was left to be tried, to know what was in him. By temptation, some bosom, hidden corruption is oftentimes discovered, that the soul knew not of before. As it was with292 Hazael in respect of enormous crimes, so in lesser things with the saints. They would never have believed there had been such lusts and corruptions in them as they have discovered upon their temptations. Yea, divers having been tempted to one sin, have discovered another that they thought not of; as some, being tempted to pride, or worldliness, or looseness of conversation, have been startled by it, and led to a discovery of neglect of many duties and much communion with God, which before they thought not of. And this is from the tender care of Jesus Christ, giving them in suitable help; without which no man can possibly make use of or improve a temptation. And this is a suitable help indeed, whereby a temptation which otherwise, or to other persons, might be a deadly wound, proves the lancing of a festered sore, and the letting out of corruption that otherwise might have endangered the life itself. So, 1 Pet. i. 6, “If need be ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.”

[6.] When the soul is at any time more or less overcome by temptations, Christ in his tenderness relieves it with mercy and pardon; so that his shall not sink utterly under their burden, 1 John ii. 1, 2.

By one, more, or all of these ways, doth the Lord Jesus manifest his conjugal tenderness and compassion towards the saints, in and under their temptations.

2. Christ is compassionate towards them in their afflictions: “In all their affliction he is afflicted,” Isa. lxiii. 9; yea, it seems that all our afflictions (at least those of one sort, — namely, which consist in persecutions) are his in the first place, ours only by participation. Col. i. 24, We293 “fill up the measure of the afflictions of Christ.” Two things evidently manifest this compassionateness in Christ:—

(1.) His interceding with his Father for their relief, Zech. i. 12. Christ intercedeth on our behalf, not only in respect of our sins, but also our sufferings; and when the work of our afflictions is accomplished, we shall have the relief294 he intercedes for. The Father always hears him; and we have not a deliverance from trouble, a recovering of health, ease of pain, freedom from any evil that ever laid hold upon us, but it is given us on the intercession of Jesus Christ. Believers are unacquainted with their own condition, if they look upon their mercies as dispensed in a way of common providence. And this may, indeed, be a cause why we esteem them no more, are no more thankful for them, nor fruitful in the enjoyment of them:— we see not how, by what means, nor on what account, they are dispensed to us. The generation of the people of God in the world are at this day alive, undevoured, merely on the account of the intercession of the Lord Jesus. His compassionateness hath been the fountain of their deliverances. Hence oftentimes he rebukes their sufferings and afflictions, that they shall not act to the utmost upon them when they are under them. He is with them when they pass through fire and water, Isa. xliii. 2, 3.

(2.) In that he doth and will, in the winding up of the matter, so sorely revenge the quarrel of their sufferings upon their enemies. He avenges his elect that cry unto him; yea, he doth it speedily. The controversy of Zion leads on the day of his vengeance, Isa. xxxiv. 8. He looks upon them sometimes in distress, and considers what is the state of the world in reference to them. Zech. i. 11, “We have walked to and fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest,” say his messengers to him, whom he sent to consider the world and its condition during the affliction of his people. This commonly is the condition of the world in such a season, “They are at rest and quiet, their hearts are abundantly satiated;295 they drink wine in bowls, and send gifts to one another.” Then Christ looks to see who will come in for their succour, Isa. lix. 16, 17; and finding none engaging himself for their relief, by the destruction of their adversaries, himself undertakes it. Now, this vengeance he accomplishes two ways:—

[1.] Temporally, upon persons, kingdoms, nations, and countries; (a type whereof you have, Isa. lxiii. 1–6); as he did it upon the old Roman world, Rev. vi. 15, 16. And this also he doth two ways:—

1st. By calling out here and there an eminent opposer, and making him an example to all the world. So he dealt with Pharaoh: “For this cause have I raised thee up,” Exod. ix. 16. So he doth to this day; he lays his hand upon eminent adversaries, — fills one with fury, another with folly, blasts a third, and makes another wither, or destroys them utterly and terribly. As a provoked lion, he lies not down without his prey.

2dly. In general, in the vials of his wrath which he will in these latter days pour out upon the antichristian world, and all that partake with them in their thoughts of vengeance and persecution. He will miserably destroy them, and make such work with them in the issue, that whosoever hears, both his ears shall tingle.

[2.] In eternal vengeance will he plead with the adversaries of his beloved, Matt. xxv. 41–46; 2 Thess. i. 6; Jude 15. It is hence evident that Christ abounds in pity and compassion towards his beloved. Instances might be multiplied, but these things are obvious, and occur to the thoughts of all.

In answer to this, I place in the saints chastity unto Christ, in every state and condition. That this might be the state of the church of Corinth, the apostle made it his endeavour. 2 Cor. xi. 2, 3, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” And so is it said of the followers of the Lamb, on mount Sion, Rev. xiv. 4, “These are they which were not defiled with women, for they are virgins.” What defilement that was they were free from, shall be afterward declared.

Now, there are three things wherein this chastity consists:—

1. The not taking any thing into their affections and esteem for those ends and purposes for which they have received Jesus Christ. Here the Galatians failed in their conjugal affection to Christ; they preserved not themselves chaste to him. They had received Christ for life, and justification, and him only; but being after a while overcome with296 charms, or bewitched, they took into the same place with him the righteousness of the law. How Paul deals with them hereupon is known. How sorely, how pathetically doth he admonish them, how severely reprove them, how clearly convince them of their madness and folly! This, then, is the first chaste affection believers bear in their heart to Christ:— having received him for their righteousness and salvation before God, for the fountain, spring, and well-head of all their supplies, they will not now receive any other thing into his room and in his stead. As to instance, in one particular:— We receive him for our297 acceptance with God. All that here can stand in competition with him for our affections, must be our own endeavours for a 298righteousness to commend us to God. Now, this must be either before we receive him, or after. [As] for all duties and endeavours, of what sort soever, for the pleasing of God before our receiving of Christ, you know what was the apostle’s frame, Phil. iii. 8–10. All endeavours, all advantages, all privileges, he rejects with indignation, as loss, — with abomination, as dung; and winds up all his aims and desires in Christ alone and his righteousness, for those ends and purposes. But the works we do after we have received Christ are of another consideration. Indeed, they are acceptable to God; it pleaseth him that we should walk in them. But as to that end for which we receive Christ, they are of no other account than the former, Eph. ii. 8–10. Even the works we do after believing, — those which we are created unto in Christ Jesus, those that God hath ordained that believers “should walk in them,” — as to justification and acceptance with God, (here called salvation), are excluded. It will one day appear that Christ abhors the janglings of men about the place of their own works and obedience, in the business of their acceptation with God; nor will the saints find any peace in adulterous thoughts of that kind. The chastity we owe unto him requires another frame. The necessity, usefulness, and excellency of gospel obedience shall be afterward declared. It is marvellous to see how hard it is to keep some professors to any faithfulness with Christ in this thing; — how many disputes have been managed,299 how many distinctions invented, how many shifts and evasions studied, to keep up something, in some place or other, to some purpose or other, that they may dally withal. Those that love him indeed are otherwise minded.

Herein, then, of all things, do the saints endeavour to keep their affections chaste and loyal to Jesus Christ. He is made unto them of God “righteousness;” and they will own nothing else to that purpose: yea, sometimes they know not whether they have any interest in him or no, — he absents and withdraws himself; they still continue solitary, in a state of widowhood, refusing to be comforted, though many things offer themselves to that purpose, because he is not. When Christ is at any time absent from the soul, when it cannot see that it hath any interest in him, many lovers offer themselves to it, many woo its affections, to get it to rest on this or that thing for relief and succour; but though it go mourning never so long, it will have nothing but Christ to lean upon. Whenever the soul is in the wilderness, in the saddest condition, there it will stay until Christ come for to take it up, until it can come forth leaning upon him, Cant. viii. 5. The many instances of this that the book of Canticles affords us, we have in part spoken of before.

This doth he who hath communion with Christ:— he watcheth diligently over his own heart, that nothing creep into its affections, to give it any peace or establishment before God, but Christ only. Whenever that question is to be answered, “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and appear before the high God?” he doth not gather up, “This or that I will do;” or, “Here and there I will watch, and amend my ways;” but instantly he cries, “In the Lord Jesus have I 300righteousness; all my desire is, to be found in him, not having on my own righteousness.”

2. In cherishing that Spirit, that holy Comforter, which Christ sends to us, to abide with us in his room and stead. He tells us that he sends him to that purpose, John xvi. 7. He gives him to us, “vicariam navare operam,” saith Tertullian, — to abide with us for ever, for all those ends and purposes which he hath to fulfil toward us and upon us; he gives him to dwell in us, to keep us, and preserve us blameless for himself. His name is in him, and with him: and it is upon this account that whatever is done to any of Christ’s is done to him, because it is done to them in whom he is and dwells by his Spirit. Now, herein do the saints preserve their conjugal affections entire to Christ, that they labour by all means not to grieve his Holy Spirit, which he hath sent in his stead to abide with them. This the apostle puts them in mind of, Eph. iv. 30, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit.”

There be two main ends for which Christ sends his Spirit to believers:— (1.) For their sanctification; (2.) For their consolation: to which two all the particular acts of purging, teaching, anointing, and the rest that are ascribed to him, may be referred. So there be two ways whereby we may grieve him:— [1]. In respect of sanctification; [2.] In respect of consolation:—

(1.) In respect of sanctification. He is the Spirit of holiness, — holy in himself, and the author of holiness in us: he works it in us, Tit. iii. 5, and he persuades us to it, by those motions of his which are not to be 301quenched. Now, this, in the first place, grieves the Spirit, when he is carrying on in us and for us a work so infinitely for our advantage, and without which we cannot see God, that we should run cross to him, in ways of unholiness, pollution, and defilement. So the connection of the words in the place before mentioned manifests, Eph. iv. 28–31; and thence doth Paul bottom his powerful and most effectual persuasion unto holiness, even from the abode and indwelling of this Holy Spirit with us, 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17. Indeed, what can grieve a loving and tender friend more than to oppose him and slight him when he is most intent about our good, — and that a good of the greatest consequence to us. In this, then, believers make it their business to keep their hearts loyal and their affections chaste to Jesus Christ. They labour instantly not to grieve the Holy Spirit by loose and foolish, by careless and negligent walking, which he hath sent to dwell and abide with them. Therefore shall no anger, wrath, malice, envy, dwell in their hearts; because they are contrary to the holy, meek Spirit of Christ, which he hath given to dwell with them. They attend to his motions, make use of his assistance, improve his gifts, and nothing lies more upon their spirits, than that they may walk worthy of the presence of this holy substitute of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2.) As to consolation. This is the second great end for which Christ gives and sends his Spirit to us; who from thence, by the way of eminency, is called “The Comforter.” To this end he seals us, anoints us, establishes us, and gives us peace and joy. Of all which I shall afterward speak at large. Now, there be two ways whereby he may be grieved as to this end of his mission, and our chastity to Jesus Christ thereby violated:—

[1.] By placing our comforts and joys in other things, and not being filled with joy in the Holy Ghost. When we make creatures or creature comforts — any thing whatever but what we receive by the Spirit of Christ — to be our joy and our delight, we are false with Christ. So was it with Demas,302 who loved the present world. When the ways of the Spirit of God are grievous and burdensome to us, — when we say, “When will the Sabbath be past, that we may exact all our labours?” — when our delight and refreshment lies in earthly things, — we are unsuitable to Christ. May not his Spirit say, “Why do I still abide with these poor souls? I provide them joys unspeakable and glorious; but they refuse them, for perishing things. I provide them spiritual, eternal, abiding consolations, and it is all rejected for a thing of nought.” This Christ cannot bear; wherefore, believers are exceeding careful in this, not to place their joy and consolation in any thing but what is administered by the Spirit. Their daily work is, to get their hearts crucified to the world and the things of it, and the world to their hearts; that they may not have living affections to dying things: they would fain look on the world as a crucified, dead thing, that hath neither form nor beauty; and if at any times they have been entangled with creatures and inferior contentment, and have lost their better joys, they cry out to Christ, “O restore to us the joys of thy Spirit!”

[2.] He is grieved when, through darkness and unbelief, we will not, do not, receive those consolations which he tenders to us, and which he is abundantly willing that we should receive. But of this I shall have occasion to speak afterward, in handling our communion with the Holy Ghost.

3. In [keeping] his institutions, or matter and manner of his worship. Christ marrying his church to himself, taking it to that relation, still expresseth the main of their chaste and choice affections to him to lie in their keeping his institutions and his worship according to his appointment. The breach of this he calls “adultery” everywhere, and “whoredom.” He is a “jealous God;” and he gives himself that title only in respect of his institutions. And the whole apostasy of the Christian church unto false worship is called 303“fornication;” and the church that leads the others to false worship, the “mother of harlots.” On this account, those believers who really attend to communion with Jesus Christ, do labour to keep their hearts chaste to him in his ordinances, institutions, and worship; and that two ways:—

(1.) They will receive nothing, practice nothing, own nothing his worship, but what is of his appointment. They know that from the foundation of the world he never did allow, nor ever will, that in any thing the will of the creatures should be the measure of his honour or the principle of his worship, either as to matter or manner. It was a witty and true sense that one gave of the second commandment: “Non imago, non simulachrum prohibetur; sed non facies tibi;” — it is a making to ourselves, an inventing, a finding out, ways of worship, or means of honouring God, not by him appointed, that is so severely forbidden. Believers know what entertainment all will-worship finds with God: “Who hath required these things at your hand?” and, “In vain do you worship me, teaching for doctrines the traditions of men,” — is the best it meets with. I shall take leave to say what is upon my heart, and what (the Lord assisting) I shall willingly endeavour to make good against all the world, — namely, that that principle, that the church hath power to institute and appoint any thing or ceremony belonging to the worship of God, either as to matter or to manner, beyond the orderly observance of such circumstances as necessarily attend such ordinances as Christ himself hath instituted, lies at the bottom of all the horrible superstition and idolatry, of all the confusion, blood, persecution, and wars, that have for so long a season spread themselves over the face of the Christian world; and that it is the design of a great part of the Revelation to make a discovery of this truth. And I doubt not but that the great controversy which God hath had with this nation for so many years, and which he hath pursued with so much anger and indignation, was upon this account:— that, contrary to that glorious light of the gospel which shone among us, the wills and fancies of men, under the name of order, decency, and the authority of the church (a chimera that none knew what it was, nor wherein the power of it did consist, nor in whom reside), were imposed on men in the ways and worship of God. Neither was all that pretence of glory, beauty, comeliness, and conformity, that then was pleaded, any thing more or less than what God doth so describe in the church of Israel, Ezek. xvi. 25, and forwards. Hence was the Spirit of God in prayer derided; hence was the powerful preaching of the gospel despised; hence was the Sabbath decried; hence was holiness stigmatised and persecuted; — to what end? That Jesus Christ might be deposed from the sole privilege and power of law-making in his church; that the true husband might be thrust aside, and adulterers of his spouse embraced; that taskmasters might be appointed in and over his house, which he never gave to his church, Eph. iv. 11; that a ceremonious, pompous, outward show worship, drawn from Pagan, Judaical, and Antichristian observations, might be introduced; — of all which there is not one word, tittle, or iota, in the whole book of God. This, then, they who hold communion with Christ are careful of:— they will admit of nothing, practice nothing, in the worship of God, private or public, but what they have his warrant for; unless it comes in his name, with “Thus saith the Lord Jesus,” they will not hear “an angel from heaven.” They know the apostles themselves were to teach the saints only what Christ commanded them, Matt. xxviii. 20. You know how many in this very nation, in the days not long since past, yea, how many thousands, left their native soil, and went into a vast and howling wilderness in the utmost parts of the world, to keep their souls undefiled and chaste to their dear Lord Jesus, as to this of his worship and institutions.

(2.) They readily embrace, receive, and practice every thing that the Lord Christ hath appointed. They inquire diligently into his mind and will, that they may know it. They go to him for directions, and beg of him to lead them in the way they have not known. The 119th Psalm may be a pattern for this. How doth the good, holy soul breathe after instruction in the ways and ordinances, the statutes and judgments, of God! This, I say, they are tender in: whatever is of Christ, they willingly submit unto, accept of, and give up themselves to the constant practice thereof; whatever comes on any other account they refuse.

IV. Christ manifests and evidences his love to his saints in a way of bounty, — in that rich, plentiful provision he makes for them. It hath “pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,” Col. i. 19; and that for this end, that “of his fulness we might all receive, and grace for grace,” John i. 16. I shall not insist upon the particulars of that provision which Christ makes for his saints, with all those influences of the Spirit of life and grace that daily they receive from him, — that bread that he gives them to the full, the refreshment they have from him; I shall only observe this, that the Scripture affirms him to do all things for them in an abundant manner, or to do it richly, in a way of bounty. Whatever he gives us, — his grace to assist us, his presence to comfort us, — he doth it abundantly. You have the general assertion of it, Rom. v. 20, “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” If grace abound much more in comparison of sin, it is abundant grace indeed; as will easily be granted by any that shall consider how sin hath abounded, and doth, in every soul. Hence he is said to be able, and we are bid to expect that he should do for us “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” Eph. iii. 20. Is it pardoning mercy we receive of him? why, he doth “abundantly pardon,” Isa. lv. 7; he will multiply or add to pardon, — he will add pardon to pardon, that grace and mercy shall abound above all our sins and iniquities. Is it the Spirit he gives us? he sheds him upon us richly or “abundantly,” Tit. iii. 6; not only bidding us drink of the water of life freely, but also bestowing him in such a plentiful measure, that rivers of water shall flow from them that receive him, John vii. 38, 39, — that they shall never thirst any more when have drank of him. Is it grace that we receive of him? he gives that also in a way of bounty; we receive “abundance of grace,” Rom. v. 17; he “abounds toward us in all wisdom and prudence,” Eph. i. 8. Hence is that invitation, Cant. v. 1. If in any things, then, we are straitened, it is in ourselves; Christ deals bountifully with us. Indeed, the great sin of believers is, that they make not use of Christ’s bounty as they ought to do; that we do not every day take of him mercy in abundance. The oil never ceaseth till the vessels cease; supplies from Christ fail not but only when our faith fails in receiving them.

Then our return to Christ is in a way of duty. Unto this two things are required:—

1. That we follow after and practise holiness in the power of it, as it is obedience unto Jesus Christ. Under this formality, as obedience to him, all gospel obedience is called, “whatsoever Christ commands us,” Matt. xxviii. 20; and saith he, John xv. 14, “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you;” and it is required of us that we live to him who died for us, 2 Cor. v. 15, — live to him in all holy obedience, — live to him as our Lord and King. Not that I suppose there are peculiar precepts and a peculiar law of Jesus Christ, in the observance whereof we are justified, as the Socinians fancy; for surely the gospel requires of us no more, but “to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and all our souls,” — which the law also required; — but that, the Lord Jesus having brought us into a condition of acceptance with God, wherein our obedience is well-pleasing to him, and we being to honour him as we honour the Father, that we have a respect and peculiar regard to him in all our obedience. So Tit. ii. 14, he hath purchased us unto himself. And thus believers do in their obedience; they eye Jesus Christ, —

(1.) As the author of their faith and obedience, for whose sake it is “given to them to believe,” Phil. i. 29; and who by his Spirit works that obedience in them. So the apostle, Heb. xii. 1, 2; in the course of our obedience we still look to Jesus, “the author of our faith.” Faith is here both the grace of faith, and the fruit of it in obedience.

(2.) As him in, for, and by whom we have acceptance with God in our obedience. They know all their duties are weak, imperfect, not able to abide the presence of God; and therefore they look to Christ as him who bears the iniquity of their holy things, who adds incense to their prayers, gathers out all the weeds of their duties, and makes them acceptable to God.

(3.) As one that hath renewed the commands of God unto them, with mighty obligations unto obedience. So the apostle, 2 Cor. v. 14, 15, “The love of Christ constraineth us;” of which afterward.

(4.) They consider him as God, equal with his Father, to whom all honour and obedience is due. So Rev. v. 13. But these things I have, not long since, opened304 in another treatise, dealing about the worship of Christ as mediator. This, then, the saints do in all their obedience; they have a special regard to their dear Lord Jesus. He is, on all these accounts, and innumerable others, continually in their thoughts. His love to them, his life for them, his death for them, — all his kindness and mercy constrains them to live to him.

2. By labouring to abound in fruits of holiness. As he deals with us in a way of bounty, and deals out unto us abundantly, so he requires that we abound in all grateful, obediential returns to him. So we are exhorted to “be always abounding in the work of the Lord,” 1 Cor. xv. 58. This is that I intend:— the saints are not satisfied with that measure that at any time they have attained, but are still pressing, that they may be more dutiful, more fruitful to Christ.

And this is a little glimpse of some of that communion which we enjoy with Christ. It is but a little, from him who hath the least experience of it of all the saints of God; who yet hath found that in it which is better than ten thousand worlds; who desires to spend the residue of the few and evil days of his pilgrimage in pursuit hereof, — in the contemplation of the excellencies, desirableness, love, and grace of our dear Lord Jesus, and in making returns of obedience according to his will: to whose soul, in the midst of the perplexities of this wretched world, and cursed rebellions of his own heart, this is the great relief, that “He that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” “The Spirit and the bride say, Come; and let him that readeth say, Come. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

—————————————————————
247 John i. 14; 1 Tim. iii. 16.
248 Vide Vind. Evan., cap. xiii. vol. xii.
249 Rom. iv. 17; Gal. iii. 7.
250 See Vind. Evan., cap. xiii. vol. xii.
251 John xiv. 28.
252 Isa. liii. 2.
253 Isa. xlii. 1, 19; John xiv. 31.
254 Matt. iii. 15.
255 Heb. x. 7, 8.
256 Heb. ii. 14, 15.
257 Gal. iii. 13.
258 2 Cor. v. 21.
259 Ps. xxii. 1.
260 Matt. xxvi. 39.
261 “Amorem istum non esse vulgarem ostendit, dum nos pretiosos esse dicit.” —Calv. in loc.
262 Gen. xii. 3; Mic. v. 7, 8.
263 Isa. xxxiv. 8, lxi. 2, lxiii. 4.
264 Matt. xxv. 41–46.
265 Luther.
266 Νῦν ἄρχομαι εἶναι μαθητής, οὐδὲν τούτων τῶν ὁρωμένων ἐπιθυμῶ, ἵνα τὸν Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν εὕρω. Πῦρ, σταυρός, θηρία, σύγκλασις ὀστέων, καὶ τῶν μελῶν διασπασμός, καὶ παντὸς τοῦ σώματος συντριβή, καὶ βάσανοι τοῦ διαβόλου εἰς ἐμὲ ἔλθωσιν, ἵνα Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ ἀπολαύσω. — Vit. Ignat. [Hieronymus, De Viris Illustribus, c. xvi.]
267 Acts xxiii. 1.
268 Rom. x. 2, 3.
269 Acts xxvi. 7.
270 John ix. 40; Rom. ix. 30, 31.
271 Isa. xlv. 24.
272 Matt. xiii. 45, 46. “Principium culmenque omnium rerum pretii, margaritæ tenent.” — Plin.
273 Gal. ii. 20; John xiii. 34; Rev. i. 5, 6; Eph. v. 25, 26; Heb. x. 9, 10.
274 John xiv. 28.
275 Matt. xiii. 45, 46; Phil. iii. 8.
276 Matt. x. 37.
277 Cant. viii. 6.
278 Καὶ τοῦτό μοι τῶν ἐν ᾅδου κολάσεων βαρύτερον ἂν εἴη. — Basil.
279 “Fateor insitam esse nobis corporis nostri caritatem.” — Senec. Epist. xiv. “Generi animantium omni est a natura tributum ut se, vitam, corpusque tueatur.” — Cicer. Off. i. [iv.]
280 Ps. ciii. 13.
281 “Hoc quidem certum est, hoc vocabulo, summum illum consensum membrorum et capitis (id est, ecclesiæ et Christi) significari, de quo toties Paulus disserit. Deinde ut cum de Deo loquitur, ita, etiam de Christo glorioso disserens Scriptura, ad nostrum captum se demittit. Gloriosum autem ad dextram patris Christum sedere credimus; ubi dicitur nostris malis affici, quod sibi factum ducat quicquid nobis fit injuriæ, ideo clamans e cœlis, Saul cur me presequeris? Altiores speculationes scrutari, nec utile nec tutum existimo.” — Bez. in loc.
282 Rom. viii. 26; 1 Cor. xi. 32; 2 Cor. xi. 30, xii. 9, 10; Gal. iv. 13.
283 Matt. xxv. 35.
284 Acts. ix. 4; Isa. lxiii. 9.
285 Deut. xxxii. 10; Ps. xvii. 8.
286 “― En ipse capellas Protinus æger ago; hanc etiam vix Tityre duco,” etc. Virg. [Ec. i. 12]
287 “Quod frequentur in Scriptura, pastoris nomen Deus usurpat, personamque induit, non vulgare est teneri in nos amoris signum. Nam quum humilis et abjecta sit loquendi forma, singulariter erga nos affectus sit oportet, qui se nostrâ causa ita demittere non gravatur: mirum itaque nisi tam blanda et familiaris invitatio ad eum nos alliciat.” — Calvin in Ps. xxiii. 1.
288 Heb. xiii. 20; 1 Pet. ii. 25, v, 4; Ps. xxiii. 1; Zech. xiii. 7; Isa. xl. 11; Ezek. xxxiv. 23; John x. 11, 14, 16.
289 Gen. xxxiii. 13.
290 James i. 14, 15.
291 Gen. xlii. 15.
292 2 Kings viii. 13.
293 “Τῶν παθημάτων Christi duo sunt genera: προτερήματα, quæ passus est in corpore suo, et ὑστερήματα, quæ in sanctis.” — Zanc. in loc.
294 Heb. vii. 25.
295 Amos vi. 3–6; Rev. xi. 10.
296 Gal. iii. 1.
297 1 Cor. i. 30.
298 Rom. x. 4.
299 “Perfice hoc precibus, pretio, ut hæream in parte aliqua tandem,” etc.
300 Isa. xlv. 24; Phil. iii. 9; Hab. ii. 1–4.
301 1 Thess. v. 19.
302 2 Tim. iv. 10.
303 Rev. xvii. 5.
304 Vindiciæ Evangel., chap. xiii. vol. xii.

Chapter 6.

Of communion with Christ in purchased grace — Purchased grace considered in respect of its rise and fountain — The first rise of it, in the obedience of Christ — Obedience properly ascribed to Christ — Two ways considered: what it was, and wherein it did consist — Of his obedience to the law in general — Of the law of the Mediator — His habitual righteousness, how necessary; as also his obedience to the law of the Mediator — Of his actual obedience or active righteousness — All Christ’s obedience performed as he was Mediator — His active obedience for us — This proved at large, Gal. iv. 4, 5; Rom. v. 19; Phil. iii. 10; Zech. iii. 3–5 — One objection removed — Considerations of Christ’s active righteousness closed — Of the death of Christ, and its influence into our acceptation with God — A price; redemption, what it is — A sacrifice; atonement made thereby — A punishment; satisfaction thereby — The intercession of Christ; with its influence into our acceptation with God.

Our process305 is now to communion with Christ in purchased grace, as it was before proposed: “That we may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, and be made conformable to his death,” Phil. iii. 10.

By purchased grace, I understand all that righteousness and grace which Christ hath procured, or wrought out for us, or doth by any means make us partakers of, or bestows on us for our benefit, by any thing that he hath done or suffered, or by any thing he continueth to do as mediator:— First, What this purchased grace is, and wherein it doth consist; Secondly, How we hold communion with Christ therein; are the things that now come under consideration.

The First may be considered two ways:— 1. In respect of the rise and fountain of it; 2. Of its nature, or wherein it consisteth.

1. It hath a threefold rise, spring, or causality in Christ:— (1.) The obedience of his life. (2.) The suffering of his death. (3.) His continued intercession. All the actions of Christ as mediator, leading to the communication of grace unto us, may be either referred to these heads, or to some things that are subservient to them or consequents of them.

2. For the nature of this grace wherein we have communion with Christ, flowing from these heads and fountains, it may be referred to these three:— (1.) Grace of justification, or acceptation with God; which makes a relative change in us, as to state and condition. (2.) Grace of sanctification, or holiness before God; which makes a real change in us, as to principle and operation. (3.) Grace of privilege; which is mixed, as we shall show, if I go forth to the handling thereof.

Now, that we have communion with Christ in this purchased grace, is evident on this single consideration, — that there is almost nothing that Christ hath done, which is a spring of that grace whereof we speak, but we are said to do it with him. We are “crucified” with him, Gal. ii. 20; we are “dead” with him, 2 Tim. ii. 11; Col. iii. 3; and “buried” with him, Rom. vi. 4; Col. ii. 12; we are “quickened together with him,” Col. ii. 13; “risen” with him, Col. iii. 1. “He hath quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places,” Eph. ii. 5, 6. In the actings of Christ, there is, by virtue of the compact between him as mediator, and the Father, such an assured foundation laid of the communication of the fruits of those actings unto those in whose stead he performed them, that they are said, in the participation of those fruits, to have done the same things with him. The life and power of which truth we may have occasion hereafter to inquire into:—

(1.) The first fountain and spring of this grace, wherein we have our communion with Christ, is first to be considered; and that is the obedience of his life: concerning which it must be declared, — [1.] What it is that is intended thereby, and wherein it consisteth. [2.] What influence it hath into the grace whereof we speak.

To the handling of this I shall only premise this observation, — namely, that in the order of procurement, the life of Christ (as was necessary) precedeth his death; and therefore we shall handle it in the first place: but in the order of application, the benefits of his death are bestowed on us antecedently, in the nature of the things themselves, unto those of his life; as will appear, and that necessarily, from the state and condition wherein we are.

[1.] By the obedience of the life of Christ, I intend the universal conformity of the Lord Jesus Christ, as he was or is, in his being mediator, to the whole will of God; and his complete actual fulfilling of the whole of every law of God, or doing of all that God in them required. He might have been perfectly holy by obedience to the law of creation, the moral law, as the angels were; neither could any more, as a man walking with God, be required of him: but he submitted himself also to every law or ordinance that was introduced upon the occasion of sin, which, on his own account, he could not be subject to, it becoming him to “fulfil306 all righteousness,” Matt. iii. 15, as he spake in reference to a newly-instituted ceremony.

That obedience is properly ascribed unto Jesus Christ as mediator, the Scripture is witness, both as to name and thing Heb. v. 8, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience,” etc.; yea, he was obedient in his sufferings, and it was that which gave life to his death, Phil. ii. 8. He was obedient to death: for therein “he did make his soul an offering for sin,” Isa. liii. 10; or, “his soul made an offering for sin,” as it is interpreted, verse 12, “he poured out his soul to death,” or, “his soul poured out itself unto death.” And he not only sanctified himself to be an offering, John xvii. 19, but he also “offered up himself,” Heb. ix. 14, an “offering of a sweet savour to God,” Eph. v. 2. Hence, as to the whole of his work, he is called the Father’s “servant,” Isa. xlii. 1, and verse 19: and he professes of himself that he “came into the world to do the will of God, the will of him that sent him;” for which he manifests “his great readiness,” Heb. x. 7; — all which evince his obedience. But I suppose I need not insist on the proof of this, that Christ, in the work of mediation, and as mediator, was obedient, and did what he did willingly and cheerfully, in obedience to God.

Now, this obedience of Christ may be considered two ways:— 1st. As to the habitual root and fountain of it. 2dly. As to the actual parts or duties of it:—

1st. The habitual righteousness of Christ as mediator in his human nature, was the absolute, complete, exact conformity of the soul of Christ to the will, mind, or law of God; or his perfect habitually inherent righteousness. This he had necessarily from the grace of union; from whence it is that that which was born of the virgin was a “holy thing,” Luke i. 35. It was, I say, necessary consequentially, that it should be so; though the effecting of it were by the free operations of the Spirit, Luke ii. 52. He had an all-fulness of grace on all accounts. This the apostle describes, Heb. vii. 26, “Such an high priest became us, holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.” Every way separate and distant from sin and sinners he was to be; whence he is called “The Lamb of God, without spot or blemish,” 1 Pet. i. 19. This habitual holiness of Christ was inconceivably above that of the angels. He who “307chargeth his angels with folly,” Job iv. 18; “who putteth no trust in his saints; and in whose sight the heavens” (or their inhabitants) “are not clean,” chap. xv. 15; always embraceth him in his bosom, and is always well pleased with him, Matt. iii. 17. And the reason of this is, because every other creature, though never so holy, hath the Spirit of God by measure; but he was not given to Christ “by measure,” John iii. 34; and that because it pleased him that in him “should all fulness dwell,” Col. i. 19. This habitual grace of Christ, though not absolutely infinite, yet, in respect of any other creature, it is as the water of the sea to the water of a pond or pool. All other creatures are depressed from perfection by this, — that they subsist in a created, dependent being; and so have the fountain of what is communicated to them without them. But the human nature of Christ subsists in the person of the Son of God; and so hath the bottom and fountain of its holiness in the strictest unity with itself.

2dly. The actual obedience of Christ, as was said, was his willing, cheerful, obediential performance of every thing, duty, or command, that God, by virtue of any law whereto we were subject and obnoxious, did require; and [his obedience], moreover, to the peculiar law of the mediator. Hereof, then, are two parts:—

(1st.) That whatever was required of us by virtue of any law, — that he did and fulfilled. Whatever was required of us by the law of nature, in our state of innocence; whatever kind of duty was added by morally positive or ceremonial institutions; whatever is required of us in way of obedience to righteous judicial laws, — he did it all. Hence he is said to be “made under the law,” Gal. iv. 4; subject or obnoxious to it, to all the precepts or commands of it. So, Matt. iii. 15, he said it became him to 308“fulfil all righteousness,” — πᾶσαν δικαιοσύνην, — all manner of righteousness whatever; that is, everything that God required, as is evident from the application of that general axiom to the baptism of John. I shall not need, for this, to go to particular instances, in the duties of the law of nature, — to God and his parents; of morally positive [duties], in the Sabbath, and other acts of worship; of the ceremonial law, in circumcision, and observation of all the rites of the Judaical church; of the judicial, in paying tribute to governors; — it will suffice, I presume, that on the one hand he “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth;” and on the other, that he “fulfilled all righteousness:” and thereupon the Father was always well pleased with him. This was that which he owned of himself, that he came to do the will of God; and he did it.

(2dly.) There was a peculiar law of the mediator, which respected himself merely, and contained all those acts and duties of his which are not for our imitation. So that obedience which he showed in dying was peculiarly to this 309law, John x. 18, “I have power to lay down my life: this commandment have I received of my Father.” As mediator, he received this peculiar command of his Father, that he should lay down his life, and take it again; and he was obedient thereunto. Hence we say, he who is mediator did some things merely as a man, subject to the law of God in general; so he prayed for his persecutors, — those that put him to death, Luke xxiii. 34; — some things as mediator; so he prayed for his elect only, John xvii. 9. There were not worse in the world, really and evidently, than many of them that crucified him; yet, as a man, subject to the law, he forgave them, and prayed for them. When he prayed as mediator, his Father always heard him and answered him, John xi. 41; and in the other prayers he was accepted as one exactly performing his duty.

This, then, is the obedience of Christ; which was the first thing proposed to be considered. The next is, —

[2.] That it hath an influence into the grace of which we speak, wherein we hold communion with him, — namely, our free acceptation with God; what that influence is, must also follow in its order.

1st. For his habitual righteousness, I shall only propose it under these two considerations:—

(1st.) That upon this supposition, that it was needful that we should have a mediator that was God and man in one person, as it could not otherwise be, so it must needs be that he must be holy. For although there be but one primary necessary effect of the hypostatical union (which is the subsistence of the human nature in the person of the Son of God), yet that he that was so united to him should be a “holy thing,” completely holy, was necessary also, — of which before.

(2dly.) That the relation which this righteousness of Christ hath to the grace we receive from him is only this, — that thereby he was ἱκανός — fit to do all that he had to do for us. This is the intendment of the apostle, Heb. vii. 26. Such a one “became us;” it was needful he should be such a one, that he might do what he had to do. And the reasons hereof are two:—

[1st.] Had he not been completely furnished with habitual grace, he could never have actually fulfilled the righteousness which was required at his hands. It was therein that he was able to do all that he did. So himself lays down the presence of the Spirit with him as the bottom and foundation of his going forth to his work, Isa. lxi. 1.

[2dly.] He could not have been a complete and perfect sacrifice, nor have answered all the types and figures of him, that were310 complete and without blemish. But now, Christ having this habitual righteousness, if he had never yielded any continued obedience to the law actively, but had suffered as soon after his incarnation as Adam sinned after his creation, he had been a fit sacrifice and offering; and therefore, doubtless, his following obedience hath another use besides to fit him for an oblation, for which he was most fit without it.

2dly. For Christ’s obedience to the law of mediation, wherein it is not coincident with his passive obedience, as they speak (for I know that expression is improper); it was that which was requisite for the discharging of his office, and is not imputed unto us, as though we had done it, though the ἀποτελέσματα and fruits of it are; but is of the nature of his intercession, whereby he provides the good things we stand in need of, at least subserviently to his oblation and intercession; — of which more afterward.

3dly. About his actual fulfilling of the law, or doing all things that of us are required, there is some doubt and question; and about it there are three several opinions:—

(1st.) That this active obedience of Christ hath no farther influence into our justification and acceptation with God, but as it was preparatory to his blood-shedding and oblation; which is the sole cause of our justification, the whole righteousness which is imputed to us arising from thence.

(2dly.) That it may be considered two ways:— [1st.] As it is purely obedience; and so it hath no other state but that before mentioned. [2dly.] As it was accomplished with suffering, and joined with it, as it was part of his humiliation, so it is imputed to us, or is part of that upon the account whereof we are justified.

(3dly.) That this obedience of Christ, being done for us, is reckoned graciously of God unto us; and upon the account thereof are we accepted as righteous before him. My intendment is not to handle this difference in the way of a controversy, but to give such an understanding of the whole as may speedily be reduced to the practice of godliness and consolation; and this I shall do in the ensuing observations:—

[1st.] That the obedience that Christ yielded to the law in general, is not only to the peculiar law of the mediator, though he yielded it as mediator. He was incarnate as mediator, Heb. ii. 14; Gal. iv. 4; and all he afterward did, it was as our mediator. For that cause “came he into the world,” and did and suffered whatever he did or suffered in this world. So that of this expression, as mediator, there is a twofold sense: for it may be taken strictly, as relating solely to the law of the mediator, and so Christ may be said to do as mediator only what he did in obedience to that law; but in the sense now insisted on, whatever Christ did as a man subject to any law, he did it as mediator, because he did it as part of the duty incumbent on him who undertook so to be.

[2dly.] That whatever Christ did as mediator, he did it for them whose mediator he was, or in whose stead and for whose good he executed the office of a mediator before God. This the Holy Ghost witnesseth, Rom. viii. 3, 4, “What the law could not do, in that it was wreak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us;” because that we could not in that condition of weakness whereinto we are cast by sin, come to God, and be freed from condemnation by the law, God sent Christ as a mediator, to do and suffer whatever the law required at our hands for that end and purpose, that we might not be condemned, but accepted of God. It was all to this end, — “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us;” that is, which the law required of us, consisting in duties of obedience. This Christ performed for us. This expression of the apostle, “God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh;” if you will add to it, that of Gal. iv. 4, that he was so sent forth as that he was ὑπὸ νόμον γενόμενος, “made under the law,” (that is, obnoxious to it, to yield all the obedience that it doth require), comprises the whole of what Christ did or suffered; and all this, the Holy Ghost tells us, was for us, verse 4.

[3dly.] That the end of this active obedience of Christ cannot be assigned to be, that he might be fitted for his death and oblation. For he answered all types, and was every way ἱκανός (fit to be made an offering for sin), by his union and habitual grace. So that if the obedience Christ performed be not reckoned to us, and done upon our account, there is no just cause to be assigned why he should live here in the world so long as he did, in perfect obedience to all the laws of God. Had he died before, there had been perfect innocence, and perfect holiness, by his habitual grace, and infinite virtue and worth from the dignity of his person; and surely he yielded not that long course of all manner of obedience, but for some great and special purpose in reference to our salvation.

[4thly.] That had not the obedience of Christ been for us (in what sense we shall see instantly), it might in his life have been required of him to yield obedience to the law of nature, the alone law which he could be liable to as a man; for an innocent man in a covenant of works, as he was, needs no other law, nor did God ever give any other law to any such person (the law of creation is all that an innocent creature is liable to, with what symbols of that law God is pleased to add). And yet to this law also was his subjection voluntary; and that not only consequentially, because he was born upon his own choice, not by any natural course, but also because as mediator, God and man, he was not by the institution of that law obliged unto it; being, as it were, exempted and lifted above that law by the hypostatical union: yet, when I say his subjection hereunto was voluntary, I do not intend that it was merely arbitrary and at choice whether he would yield obedience311 unto it or no, — but on supposition of his undertaking to be a mediator, it was necessary it should be so, — but that he voluntarily and willingly submitted unto, and so became really subject to the commands of it. But now, moreover, Jesus Christ yielded perfect obedience to all those laws which came upon us by the occasion of sin, as the ceremonial law; yea, those very institutions that signified the washing away of sin, and repentance from sin, as the baptism of John, which he had no need of himself. This, therefore, must needs be for us.

[5thly.] That the obedience of Christ cannot be reckoned amongst his sufferings, but is clearly distinct from it, as to all formalities. Doing is one thing, suffering another; they are in diverse predicaments, and cannot be coincident.

See, then, briefly what we have obtained by those considerations; and then I shall intimate what is the stream issuing from this first spring or fountain of purchased grace, with what influence it hath thereinto:—

First, By the obedience of the life of Christ you see what is intended, — his willing submission unto, and perfect, complete fulfilling of, every law of God, that any of the saints of God were obliged unto. It is true, every act almost of Christ’s obedience, from the blood of his circumcision to the blood of his cross, was attended with suffering, so that his whole life might, in that regard, be called a death; but yet, looking upon his willingness and obedience in it, it is distinguished from his sufferings peculiarly so called, and termed his312active righteousness. This is, then, I say, as was showed, that complete, absolutely perfect accomplishment of the whole law of God by Christ, our mediator; whereby he not only “did no sin, neither was there guile found in his mouth,” but also most perfectly fulfilled all righteousness, as he affirmed it became him to do.

Secondly, That this obedience was performed by Christ not for himself, but for us, and in our stead. It is true, it must needs be, that whilst he had his conversation in the flesh he must be most perfectly and absolutely holy; but yet the prime intendment of his accomplishing of holiness, — which consists in the complete obedience of his whole life to any law of God, — that was no less for us than his suffering death. That this is so, the apostle tells us, Gal. iv. 4, 5, “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.” This Scripture, formerly named, must be a little farther insisted on. He was both made of a woman, and made under the law; that is, obedient to it for us. The end here, both of the incarnation and obedience of Christ to the law (for that must needs be understood here by the phrase ὑπὸ νόμον γενόμενος, — that is, disposed of in such a condition as that he must yield subjection and obedience to the law), was all to redeem us. In these two expressions, “Made of a woman, made under the law,” the apostle doth not knit his incarnation and death together, with an exclusion of the obedience of his life. And he was so made under the law, as those were under the law whom he was to redeem. Now, we were under the law, not only as obnoxious to its penalties, but as bound to all the duties of it. That this is our being “under the law,” the apostle informs us, Gal. iv. 21, “Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law.” It was not the penalty of the law they desired to be under, but to be under it in respect of obedience. Take away, then, the end, and you destroy the means. If Christ were not incarnate nor made under the law for himself, he did not yield obedience for himself; it was all for us, for our good. Let us now look forward, and see what influence this hath into our acceptation.

Thirdly, Then, I say, this perfect, complete obedience of Christ to the law is reckoned unto us. As there is a truth in that, “The day thou eatest thou shalt die,” — death is the reward of sin, and so we cannot be freed from death but by the death of Christ, Heb. ii. 14, 15; so also is that no less true, “Do this, and live,” — that life is not to he obtained unless all be done that the law requires. That is still true, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments,” Matt. xix. 17. They must, then, be kept by us, or our surety. Neither is it of any value which by some is objected, that if Christ yielded perfect obedience to the law for us, then are we no more bound to yield obedience; for by his undergoing death, the penalty of the law, we are freed from it. I answer, How did Christ undergo death? Merely as it was penal. How, then, are we delivered from death? Merely as it is penal. Yet we must die still; yea, as the last conflict with the effects of sin, as a passage to our Father, we must die. Well, then, Christ yielded perfect obedience to the law; but how did he do it? Purely as it stood in that conditional [arrangement], “Do this, and live.” He did it in the strength of the grace he had received; he did it as a means of life, to procure life by it, as the tenor of a covenant. Are we, then, freed from this obedience? Yes; but how far? From doing it in our own strength; from doing it for this end, that we may obtain life everlasting. It is vain that some say confidently, that we must yet work for life; it is all one as to say we are yet under the old covenant, “Hoc fac, et vives:” we are not freed from obedience, as a way of walking with God, but we are, as a way of working to come to him: of which at large afterward.

Rom. v. 18, 19, “By the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life: by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous,” saith the Holy Ghost. By his obedience to the law are we made righteous; it is reckoned to us for righteousness. That the passive obedience of Christ is here only intended is false:—

First, It is opposed to the disobedience of Adam, which was active. The δικαίωμα is opposed παραπτώματι, — the righteousness to the fault. The fault was an active transgression of the law, and the obedience opposed to it must be an active accomplishment of it. Besides, obedience placed singly, in its own nature, denotes an action or actions conformable to the law; and therein came Christ, not to destroy but to fulfil the law, Matt. v. 17, — that was the design of his coming, and so for us; he came to fulfil the law for us, Isa. ix. 6, and [was] born to us, Luke ii. 11. This also was in that will of the Father which, out of his infinite love, he came to accomplish. Secondly, It cannot clearly be evinced that there is any such thing, in propriety of speech, as passive obedience; obeying is doing, to which passion or suffering cannot belong: I know it is commonly called so, when men obey until they suffer; but properly it is not so.

So also, Phil. iii. 9, “And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” The righteousness we receive is opposed to our own obedience to the law; opposed to it, not as something in another kind, but as something in the same kind excluding that from such an end which the other obtains. Now this is the obedience of Christ to the law, — himself thereby being “made to us righteousness,” 1 Cor. i. 30.

Rom. v. 10, the issue of the death of Christ is placed upon reconciliation; that is, a slaying of the enmity and restoring us into that condition of peace and friendship wherein Adam was before his fall. But is there no more to be done? Notwithstanding that there was no wrath due to Adam, yet he was to obey, if he would enjoy eternal life. Something there is, moreover, to be done in respect of us, if, after the slaying of the enmity and reconciliation made, we shall enjoy life: “Being reconciled by his death,” we are saved by that perfect obedience which in his life he yielded to the law of God. There is distinct mention made of reconciliation, through a non-imputation of sin, as Ps. xxxii. 1, Luke i. 77, Rom. iii. 25, 2 Cor. v. 19; and justification through an imputation of righteousness, Jer. xxiii. 6, Rom. iv. 5, 1 Cor. i. 30; — although these things are so far from being separated, that they are reciprocally affirmed of one another: which, as it doth not evince an identity, so it doth an eminent conjunction. And this last we have by the life of Christ.

This is fully expressed in that typical representation of our justification before the Lord, Zech. iii. 3–5. Two things are there expressed to belong to our free acceptation before God:— 1. The taking away of the guilt of our sin, our filthy robes; this is done by the death of Christ. Remission of sin is the proper fruit thereof; but there is more also required, even a collation of righteousness, and thereby a right to life eternal. This is here called “Change of raiment;” so the Holy Ghost expresses it again, Isa. lxi. 10, where he calls it plainly “The garments of salvation,” and “The robe of righteousness.” Now this is only made ours by the obedience of Christ, as the other by his death.

Objection. “But if this be so, then are we as righteous as Christ himself, being righteous with his righteousness.”

Answer. But first, here is a great difference, — if it were no more than that this righteousness was inherent in Christ, and properly his own, it is only reckoned or imputed to us, or freely bestowed on us, and we are made righteous with that which is not ours. But, secondly, the truth is, that Christ was not righteous with that righteousness for himself, but for us; so that here can be no comparison: only this we may say, we are righteous with his righteousness which he wrought for us, and that completely.

And this, now, is the rise of the purchased grace whereof we speak, the obedience of Christ; and this is the influence of it into our acceptation with God. Whereas the guilt of sin, and our obnoxiousness to punishment on that account, is removed and taken away (as shall farther be declared) by the death of Christ; and whereas, besides the taking away of sin, we have need of a complete righteousness, upon the account whereof we may be accepted with God; this obedience of Christ, through the free grace of God, is imputed unto us for that end and purpose.

This is all I shall for the present insist on to this purpose. That the passive righteousness of Christ only is imputed to us in the non-imputation of sin, and that on the condition of our faith and new obedience, so exalting them into the room of the righteousness of Christ, is a thing which, in communion with the Lord Jesus, I have as yet no acquaintance withal. What may be said in the way of argument on the one side or other must be elsewhere considered.

(2.) The second spring of our communion with Christ in purchased grace, is his death and oblation. He lived for us, he died for us; he was ours in all he did, in all he suffered.313 I shall be the more brief in handling of this, because on another design I have 314elsewhere at large treated of all the concernments of it.

Now, the death of Christ, as it is a spring of that purchased grace wherein we have communion with him, is in the Scripture proposed under a threefold consideration:— [1.] Of a price. [2.] Of a sacrifice. [3.] Of a penalty.

In the first regard, its proper effect is redemption; in the second, reconciliation or atonement; in the third, satisfaction; which are the great ingredients of that purchased grace whereby, in the first place, we have communion with Christ.

[1.] It is a price. “We are bought with a price,” 1 Cor. vi. 20; being “not redeemed with silver and gold, and corruptible things, but with the precious blood of Christ,” 1 Pet. i. 18, 19: which therein answers those things in other contracts.315 He came to “give his life a ransom for many,” Matt. xx. 28, — a price of redemption, 1 Tim. ii. 6. The proper use and energy of this expression in the Scripture, I have elsewhere declared.

Now, the proper effect and issue of the death of Christ as a price or ransom is, as I said, redemption. Now, redemption is the deliverance of any one from bondage or captivity, and the miseries attending that condition, by the intervention or interposition of a price or ransom, paid by the redeemer to him by whose authority the captive was detained:—

1st. In general, it is a deliverance. Hence Christ is called “The Deliverer,” Rom. xi. 26; giving himself to “deliver us,” Gal. i. 4. He is “Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come,” 1 Thess. i. 10.

2dly. It is the delivery of one from bondage or captivity. We are, without him, all prisoners and captives, “bound in prison,” Isa. lxi. 1; “sitting in darkness, in the prison house,” Isa. xlii. 7, xlix. 9; “prisoners in the pit wherein there is no water,” Zech. ix. 11; “the captives of the mighty, and the prey of the terrible,” Isa. xlix. 25; under a “captivity that must be led captive,” Ps. lxviii. 18: this puts us in “bondage,” Heb. ii. 15.

3dly. The person committing thus to prison and into bondage, is God himself. To him we owe “our debts,” Matt. vi. 12, xviii. 23–27; against him are our offences, Ps. li. 4; he is the judge and lawgiver, James iv. 12. To sin is to rebel against him. He shuts up men under disobedience, Rom. xi. 32; and he shall cast both body and soul of the impenitent into hell-fire, Matt. x. 28. To his wrath are men obnoxious, John iii. 36; and lie under it by the sentence of the law, which is their prison.

4thly. The miseries that attend this condition are innumerable. Bondage to Satan, sin, and the world, comprises the sum of them; from all which we are delivered by the death of Christ, as a price or ransom. “God hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son; in whom we have redemption through his blood,” Col. i. 13, 14. And he “redeems us from all iniquity,” Tit. ii. 14; “from our vain conversation,” 1 Pet. i. 18, 19; even from the guilt and power of our sin; purchasing us to himself “a peculiar people, zealous of good works,” Tit. ii. 14: so dying for the “redemption of transgressions,” Heb. ix. 15; redeeming us also from the world, Gal. iv. 5.

5thly. And all this is by the payment of the price mentioned into the hand of God, by whose supreme authority we are detained captives, under the sentence of the law. The debt is due to the great householder, Matt. xviii. 23, 24; and the penalty, his curse and wrath: from which by it we are delivered, Rev. i. 5.

This the Holy Ghost frequently insists on. Rom. iii. 24, 25, “Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus; whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins:” so also, 1 Cor. vi. 20; 1 Pet. i. 18; Matt. xx. 28; 1 Tim. ii. 6; Eph. i. 7; Col. i. 13; Gal. iii. 13. And this is the first consideration of the death of Christ, as it hath an influence into the procurement of that grace wherein we hold communion with him.

[2.] It was a sacrifice also. He had a body prepared him, Heb. x. 5; wherein he was to accomplish what by the typical oblations and burnt-offerings of the law was prefigured. And that body he offered, Heb. x. 10; — that is, his whole human nature; for “his soul” also was made “an offering for sin,” Isa. liii. 10: on which account he is said to offer himself, Eph. v. 2; Heb. i. 3, ix. 26. He gave himself a sacrifice to God of a sweet-smelling savour; and this he did willingly,316 as became him who was to be a sacrifice, — the law of this obedience being written in his heart, Ps. xl. 8; that is, he had a readiness, willingness, desire for its performance.

Now, the end of sacrifices, such as his was, bloody and for sin, Rom. v. 10; Heb. ii. 17, was atonement and reconciliation. This is everywhere ascribed to them, that they were to make atonement; that is, in a way suitable to their nature. And this is the tendency of the death of Christ, as a sacrifice, atonement, and reconciliation with God. Sin had broken friendship between God and us, Isa. lxiii. 10; whence his wrath was on us, John iii. 36; and we are by nature obnoxious to it, Eph. ii. 3. This is taken away by the death of Christ, as it was a sacrifice, Dan. ix. 24. “When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,” Rom. v. 10. And thereby do we “receive the atonement,” verse 11; for “God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not imputing to them their sins and their iniquities,” 2 Cor. v. 19–21: so also, Eph. ii. 12–16, and in sundry other places. And this is the second consideration of the death of Christ; which I do but name, having at large insisted on these things elsewhere.

[3.] It was also a punishment, — a punishment in our stead. “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him,” Isa. liii. 5. God made all our iniquities (that is, the punishment of them) “to meet upon him,” verse 6. “He bare the sins of many,” verse 12; “his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” 1 Pet. ii. 24; and therein he “who knew no sin, was made sin for us,” 2 Cor. v. 21. What it is in the Scripture to bear sin, see Deut. xix. 15, xx. 17; Numb. xiv. 33; Ezek. xviii. 20. The nature, kind, matter, and manner of this punishment I have, as I said before, elsewhere discussed.

Now, bearing of punishment tends directly to the giving satisfaction to him who was offended, and on that account inflicted the punishment. Justice can desire no more than a proportional punishment, due to the offence. And this, on his own voluntary taking of our persons, undertaking to be our mediator, was inflicted on our dear Lord Jesus. His substituting himself in our room being allowed of by the righteous Judge, satisfaction to him doth thence properly ensue.

And this is the threefold consideration of the death of Christ, as it is a principal spring and fountain of that grace wherein we have communion with him; for, as will appear in our process, the single and most eminent part of purchased grace, is nothing but the natural exurgency of the threefold effect of the death of Christ, intimated to flow from it on the account of the threefold consideration insisted on. This, then, is the second rise of purchased grace, which we are to eye, if we will hold communion with Christ in it, — his death and blood-shedding, under this threefold notion of a price, an offering, and punishment. But, —

(3.) This is not all: the Lord Christ goes farther yet; he doth not leave us so, but follows on the work to the utmost. 317“He died for our sins, and rose again for our justification.” He rose again to carry on the complete work of purchased grace, — that is, by his intercession; which is the third rise of it. In respect of this, he is said to be “able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them,” Heb. vii. 25.

Now, the intercession of Christ, in respect of its influence into purchased grace, is considered two ways:—

[1.] As a continuance and carrying on of his oblation, for the making out of all the fruits and effects thereof unto us. This is called his “appearing in the presence of God for us,” Heb. ix. 24; that is, as the high priest, having offered the great offering for expiation of sin, carried in the blood thereof into the most holy place, where was the representation of the presence of God, so to perfect the atonement he made for himself and the people; so the Lord Christ, having offered himself as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God, being sprinkled with his own blood, appears in the presence of God, as it were to mind him of the engagement made to him, for the redemption of sinners by his blood, and the making out the good things to them which were procured thereby. And so this appearance of his hath an influence into purchased grace, inasmuch as thereby he puts in his claim for it in our behalf.

[2.] He procureth the Holy Spirit for us, effectually to collate and bestow all this purchased grace upon us. That he would do this, and doth it, for us, we have his engagement, John xiv. 16. This is purchased grace, in respect of its fountain and spring; — of which I shall not speak farther at present, seeing I must handle it at large in the matter of the communion we have with the Holy Ghost.

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305 [See beginning of chapter ii., for the leading divisions.]
306 “Vox hæc δικαιοσύνη hoc quidem loco latissimè sumitur, ita ut significet non modo τὸ νόμιμον, sed et quicquid ullam æqui atque honesti habet rationem; nam lex Mosis de hoc baptismo nihil præscripserat.” — Grot.
“Per δικαιοσύνη Christus hic non designat justitiam legalem, sed, ut ita loqui liceat, personalem; τὸ πρέπον personæ, et τὸ καθῆκον muneri.” — Walæ.
Ἐβαπτίσθη δὲ καὶ ἐνήστευσεν, οὐκ αὐτὸς ἀποῤῥύψεως ἢ νηστείας χρείαν ἔχων, ἢ καθάρσεως, ὁ τῆ φύσει καθαρὸς καὶ ἅγιος. — Clem.
307 “Sensus est de angelis, qui si cum Deo confederantur, aut si eos secum Deus conferat, non habens rationem eorum quæ in illis posuit, et dotium ac donorum quæ in illos contulit, et quibus eos exornavit et illustravit, inveniat eos stolidos. Sanè quicquid habent angeli, a Deo habent.” — Mercer. in loc.
308 “Fuit legis servituti subjectus, ut eam implendo nos ab ea redimeret, et ab ejus servitute.” — Bez.
309 “Proprium objectum obedientiæ est præceptum, tacitum vel expressum, id est, voluntas superioris quocunque modo innotescat.” — Thom. 2, 2, q. 2, 5. Deut. xviii. 18; Acts iii. 22; John xii. 49, xiv. 31, vi. 38, v. 30.
310 Præcipitur, Lev. xxii. 20, ne offeratur pecus in quo sit מוּם, mūm, id est corporis vitium: a מוּם, efficitur μῶμος ‘culpa:’ unde Christus dicutur ἄμωμος, ‘inculpatus:’ opponitur autem מוּם, τὸ תָּמִום, hoc est ‘integrum.’ Ibid., ver. 19, et sic Exod. xii. 5, præcipitur de agno paschali, ut sit תָּמִים, id est ‘integer,’ omnis scilicet vitii expers. Idem præcipitur de agnis jugis sacrificii, Numb. xxviii. 3, quibus ipsa nimirum sanctitas Christi tanquam victimæ paræfigurata est.” — Piscat., in 1 Pet. i. 19.
311 “Obedientia importat necessitatem respectu ejus quod præcipitur, et voluntatem respectu impletionis præcepti.” — Thom. 3, q. 47, 2, 2.
312 “In vita passivam habuit actionem; in morte passionem activam sustinuit; dum salutem operatur in medio terræ.” — Bern. Ser. 4.
313 “Tantane me tenuit vivendi, nate, voluptas, Ut pro me hostili paterer succedere dextræ, Quem genui? tuane hæc genitor per vulnera servor, Morte tua vivens?” Virgil, Æneid. x. 846.
314 Vindic. Evan., cap. xx.–xxii. vol. xii.
315 “Nil quidem emitur nisi interveniente pretio; sed hoc tamen additum magnam emphasin habet.” — Bez.
316 “Observatum est a sacrificantibus, ut si hostia quæ ad aras duceretur, fuisset vehementer reluctata, ostendissetque se invitam altaribus admoveri, amoveretur, quia invito Deo eam offerri putabant; quæ vero stetisset oblata, hanc volenti numini dari existimabant.” — Macrob. Saturnal. lib. iii. “Hoc quoque notandum, vitulos ad aras humeris hominum allatos non fere litare; sicut nec claudicante, nec aliena hostia placari deos; neque trahente se ab aris.” — Plin. lib. viii. cap. 45.
317 Rom. iv. 25.

Chapter 7.

The nature of purchased grace; referred to three heads:— 1. Of our acceptation with God; two parts of it. 2. Of the grace of sanctification; the several parts of it.

The fountain of that purchased grace wherein the saints have communion with Christ being discovered, in the next place the nature of this grace itself may be considered. As was said, it may be referred unto three heads:— 1. Grace of acceptation with God. 2. Grace of sanctification from God. 3. Grace of privileges with and before God.

1. Of acceptation with God. Out of Christ, we are in a state of318 alienation from God, accepted neither in our persons nor our services. Sin makes a separation between God and us:— that state, with all its consequences and attendancies, [it] is not my business to unfold. The first issue of purchased grace is to restore us into a state of acceptation. And this is done two ways:— (1.) By a removal of that for which we are refused, — the cause of the enmity. (2.) By a bestowing of that for which we are accepted.

Not only all causes of quarrel were to be taken away, that so we should not be under displeasure, but also that was to be given unto us that makes us the objects of God’s delight and pleasure, on the account of the want whereof we are distanced from God:—

(1.) It gives a removal of that for which we are refused. This is sin in the guilt, and all the attendancies thereof. The first issue of purchased grace tends to the taking away of sin in its guilt, that it shall not bind over the soul to the wages of it, which is death.

How this is accomplished and brought about by Christ, was evidenced in the close of the foregoing chapter. It is the fruit and effect of his death for us. Guilt of sin was the only cause of our separation and distance from God, as hath been said. This made us obnoxious to wrath, punishment, and the whole displeasure of God; on the account hereof were we imprisoned under the curse of the law, and given up to the power of Satan. This is the state of our unacceptation. By his death, Christ — bearing the curse, undergoing the punishment that was due to us, paying the ransom that was due for us — delivers us from this condition. And thus far the death of Christ is the sole cause of our acceptation with God, — that all cause of quarrel and rejection of us is thereby taken away. And to that end are his sufferings reckoned to us; for, being “made sin for us,” 2 Cor. v. 21, he is made “righteousness unto us,” 1 Cor. i. 30.

But yet farther; this will not complete our acceptation with God. The old quarrel may be laid aside, and yet no new friendship begun; we may be not sinners, and yet not be so far righteous as to have a right to the kingdom of heaven. Adam had no right to life because he was innocent; he must, moreover, “do this,” and then he shall “live.” He must not only have a negative righteousness, — he was not guilty of any thing; but also a positive righteousness, — he must do all things.

(2.) This, then, is required, in the second place, to our complete acceptation, that we have not only the not imputation of sin, but also a reckoning of righteousness. Now, this we have in the obedience of the life of Christ. This also was discovered in the last chapter. The obedience of the life of Christ was for us, is imputed to us, and is our righteousness before God; — by his obedience are we “made righteous,” Rom. v. 19. On what score the obedience of faith takes place, shall be afterward declared.

These two things, then, complete our grace of acceptation. Sin being removed, and righteousness bestowed, we have peace with God, — are continually accepted before him. There is not any thing to charge us withal: that which was, is taken out of the way by Christ, and nailed to his cross, — made fast there; yea, publicly and legally cancelled, that it can never be admitted again as an evidence. What court among men would admit of an evidence that hath been publicly cancelled, and nailed up for all to see it? So hath Christ dealt with that which was against us; and not only so, but also he puts that upon us for which we are received into favour. He makes us comely through his beauty; gives us white raiment to stand before the Lord. This is the first part of purchased grace wherein the saints have communion with Jesus Christ. In remission of sin and imputation of righteousness doth it consist; from the death of Christ, as a price, sacrifice, and a punishment, — from the life of Christ spent in obedience to the law, doth it arise. The great product it is of the Father’s righteousness, wisdom, love, and grace; — the great and astonishable fruit of the love and condescension of the Son; — the great discovery of the Holy Ghost in the revelation of the mystery of the gospel.

2. The second is grace of sanctification. He makes us not only accepted, but also acceptable. He doth not only purchase love for his saints, but also makes them lovely. He came not by blood only, but by water and blood. He doth not only justify his saints from the guilt of sin, but also sanctify and wash them from the filth of sin. The first is from his life and death as a sacrifice of propitiation; this from his death as a purchase, and his life as an example. So the apostle, Heb. ix. 14; as also Eph. v. 26, 27. Two things are eminent in this issue of purchased grace:— (1.) The removal of defilement; (2.) The bestowing of cleanness in actual grace.

(1.) For the first, it is also threefold:—

[1.] The habitual cleansing of our nature. We are naturally unclean, defiled, — habitually so; for “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” Job xiv. 4; “That which is born of the flesh is flesh,” John iii. 6. It is in the pollution of our blood that we are born, Ezek. xvi., — wholly defiled and polluted. The grace of sanctification, purchased by the blood of Christ, removes this defilement of our nature. 1 Cor. vi. 11, “Such were some of you; but ye are washed, ye are sanctified.” So also Tit. iii. 3–5, “He hath saved us by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” How far this original, habitual pollution is removed, need not be disputed; it is certain the soul is made fair and beautiful in the sight of God. Though the sin that doth defile remains, yet its habitual defilement is taken away. But the handling of this lies not in my aim.

[2.] Taking away the pollutions of all our actual transgressions. There is a defilement attending every actual sin. Our own clothes make us to be abhorred, Job ix. 31. A spot, a stain, rust, wrinkle, filth, blood, attends every sin. Now, 1 John i. 7, “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin.” Besides the defilement of our natures which he purgeth, Tit. iii. 5, he takes away the defilement of our persons by actual follies. “By one offering he perfected for ever them that are sanctified;” by himself he “purged our sins,” before he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, Heb. i. 3.

[3.] In our best duties we have defilement, Isa. lxiv. 6. Self, unbelief, form, drop themselves into all that we do. We may be ashamed of our choicest performances. God hath promised that the saints’ good works shall follow them. Truly, were they to be measured by the rule as they come from us, and weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, it might be well for us that they might be buried for ever: But the Lord Christ first, as our high priest, bears the iniquity, the guilt, and provocation, which in severe justice doth attend them, Exod. xxviii. 38; and not only so, but he washes away all their filth and defilements. He is as a refiner’s fire, to purge both the sons of Levi and their offerings; adding, moreover, sweet incense to them, that they may be accepted. Whatever is of the Spirit, of himself, of grace, — that remains; whatever is of self, flesh, unbelief (that is, hay and stubble), — that he consumes, wastes, takes away. So that the saints’ good works shall meet them one day with a changed countenance, that they shall scarce know them: that which seemed to them to be black, deformed, defiled, shall appear beautiful and glorious; they shall not be afraid of them, but rejoice to see and follow them.

And this cleansing of our natures, persons, and duties, hath its whole foundation in the death of Christ. Hence our washing and purifying, our cleansing and purging, is ascribed to his blood and the sprinkling thereof meritoriously, this work is done, by the shedding of the blood of Christ; efficiently, by its sprinkling. The sprinkling of the blood of Christ proceedeth from the communication of the Holy Ghost; which he promiseth to us, as purchased by him for us. He is the pure water, wherewith we are sprinkled from all our sins, that spirit of judgment and burning that takes away the filth and blood of the daughters of Zion. And this is the first thing in the grace of sanctification; of which more afterward.

(2.) By bestowing cleanness as to actual grace. The blood of Christ in this purchased grace doth not only take away defilement, but also it gives purity; and that also in a threefold gradation:—

[1.] It gives the Spirit of holiness to dwell in us. “He is made unto us sanctification,” 1 Cor. i. 30, by procuring for us the Spirit of sanctification. Our renewing is of the Holy Ghost, who is shed on us through Christ alone, Tit. iii. 6. This the apostle mainly insists on, Rom. viii., — to wit, that the prime and principal gift of sanctification that we receive from Christ, is the indwelling of the Spirit, and our following after the guidance hereof. But what concerns the Spirit in any kind, must be referred to that which I have to offer concerning our communion with him.

[2.] He gives us habitual grace; — a principle of grace, opposed to the principle of lust that is in us by nature. This is the grace that dwells in us, makes its abode with us; which, according to the distinct faculties of our souls wherein it is, or the distinct objects about which it is exercised, receiveth various appellations, being indeed all but one new principle of life. In the understanding, it is light; in the will, obedience; in the affections, love; in all, faith. So, also, it is differenced in respect of its operations. When it carries out the soul to rest on Christ, it is faith; when to delight in him, it is love; but still one and the same habit of grace. And this is the second thing.

[3.] Actual influence for the performance of every spiritual duty whatever. After the saints have both the former, yet Christ tells them that without him “they can do nothing,” John xv. 5. They are still in dependence upon him for new influences of grace, or supplies of the Spirit. They cannot live and spend upon the old stock; for every new act they must have new grace. He must “work in us to will and to do of his good pleasure,” Phil. ii. 13. And in these three, thus briefly named, consists that purchased grace in the point of sanctification, as to the collating of purity and cleanness, wherein we have communion with Christ.

3. This purchased grace consists in privileges to stand before God, and these are of two sorts, — primary and consequential. Primary, is adoption, — the Spirit of adoption; consequential, are all the favours of the gospel, which the saints alone have right unto. But of this I shall speak when I come to the last branch, — of communion with the Holy Ghost.

These are the things wherein we have communion with Christ as to purchased grace in this life. Drive them up to perfection, and you have that which we call everlasting glory. Perfect acceptance, perfect holiness, perfect adoption, or inheritance of sons, — that is glory.

Our process now, in the next place, is to what I mainly intend, even the manner how we hold communion with Christ in these things; and that in the order laid down; as, —

I. How we hold communion with him in the obedience of his life and merit of his death, as to acceptance with God the Father.

II. How we hold communion with Christ in his blood, as to the Spirit of sanctification, the habits and acts of grace.

III. How we hold communion with him as to the privileges we enjoy. Of which in the ensuing chapters.

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318 John iii. 36; Eph. ii. 12, 13.

Chapter 8.

How the saints hold communion with Christ as to their acceptation with God — What is required on the part of Christ hereunto; in his intention; in the declaration thereof — The sum of our acceptation with God, wherein it consists — What is required on the part of believers to this communion, and how they hold it, with Christ — Some objections proposed to consideration, why the elect are not accepted immediately on the undertaking and the death of Christ — In what sense they are so — Christ a common or public person — How he came to be so — The way of our acceptation with God on that account — The second objection — The necessity of our obedience stated, Eph. ii. 8–10 — The grounds, causes, and ends of it manifested — Its proper place in the new covenant — How the saints, in particular, hold communion with Christ in this purchased grace — They approve of this righteousness; the grounds thereof — Reject their own; the grounds thereof — The commutation of sin and righteousness between Christ and believers; some objections answered.

I. Communion with Christ in purchased grace, as unto acceptation with God, from the obedience of his life and efficacy of his death, is the first thing we inquire into. The discovery of what on the part of Christ and what on our part is required thereunto (for our mutual actings, even his and ours, are necessary, that we may have fellowship and communion together herein), is that which herein I intend.

First, On the part of Christ there is no more required but these two things:— (1.) That what he did, he did not for himself, but for us. (2.) What he suffered, he suffered not for himself, but for us. That is, that his intention from eternity, and when he was in the world, was, that all that he did and suffered was and should be for us and our advantage, as to our acceptance with God; that he still continueth making use of what he so did and suffered for that end and purpose, and that only. Now, this is most evident:—

(1.) What he did, he did for us, and not for himself: “He was made under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons,” Gal. iv. 4, 5. He was made under the law; that is, in that condition that he was obnoxious to the will and commands of it. And why was this? to what end? for himself? No; but to redeem us is the aim of all that he did, — of all his obedience: and that he did. This very intention in what he did he acquaints us with, John xvii. 19, “For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they may be sanctified through the truth.” “I sanctify myself, — dedicate and set myself apart to all that work I have to do. I came not to do my own will; I came to save that which was lost; to minister, not to be ministered unto; and to give my life a ransom;” — it was the testimony he bare to all he did in the world. This intendment of his is especially to be eyed. From eternity he had thoughts of what he would do for us; and delighted himself therein. And when he was in the world, in all he went about, he had still this thought, “This is for them, and this is for them, — my beloved.” When he went to be baptised, says John, “I have need to be baptised of thee, and comest thou to me?” Matt. iii. 14, 15; as if he had said, “Thou hast no need at all of it.” But says Christ, “Suffer it to be so, now; for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness;” — “I do it for them who have none at all, and stand obliged unto all.”

(2.) In what he suffered. This is more clear, Dan. ix. 26, “Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself.” And the apostle lays down this as a main difference between him and the high priests of the Jews, that when they made their solemn offerings, they offered first for themselves, and then for the people; but Jesus Christ offered only for others. He had no sin, and could make no sacrifice for his own sin, which he had not, but only for others. He “tasted death every man,” Heb. ii. 9, — “gave his life a ransom for many,” Matt. xx. 28. The “iniquity of us all was made to meet on him,” Isa. liii. 6; — “He bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” 1 Pet. ii. 24; — “loved the church, and gave himself for it,” Eph. v. 25; Gal. ii. 20; Rom. iv. 25; Rev. i. 5, 6; Tit. ii. 14; 1 Tim. ii. 6; Isa. liii. 12; John xvii. 19. But this is exceeding clear and confessed, that Christ in his suffering and oblation, had his intention only upon the good of his elect, and their acceptation with God; suffering for us, “the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.”

Secondly, To complete this communion on the part of Christ, it is required, —

(1.) That there be added to what he hath done, the gospel tenders of that complete righteousness and acceptation with God which ariseth from his perfect obedience and sufferings. Now, they are twofold:—

[1.] Declaratory, in the conditional promises of the gospel. Mark xvi. 15; Matt. xi. 28, “He that believeth shall be saved;” “Come unto me, and I will give you rest;” “As Moses lifted up the serpent,” etc.; “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,” Rom. x. 4; and innumerable others. Now, declaratory tenders are very precious, there is much kindness in them, and if they be rejected, they will be the “savour of death unto death;” but the Lord Christ knows that the outward letter, though never so effectually held out, will not enable any of his for that reception of his righteousness which is necessary to interest them therein; wherefore, —

[2.] In this tender of acceptation with God, on the account of what he hath done and suffered, a law is established, that whosoever receives it shall be so accepted. But Christ knows the condition and state of his in this world. This will not do; if he do not effectually invest them with it, all is lost. Therefore, —

(2.) He sends them his Holy Spirit, to quicken them, John vi. 63, to cause them that are “dead to hear his voice,” John v. 25; and to work in them whatever is required of them, to make them partakers of his righteousness and accepted with God.

Thus doth Christ deal with his:— he lives and dies with an intention to work out and complete righteousness for them; their enjoying of it, to a perfect acceptation before God, is all that in the one and other he aimed at. Then he tenders it unto them, declares the usefulness and preciousness of it to their souls, stirring them up to a desire and valuation of it; and lastly, effectually bestows it upon them, reckons it unto them as theirs, that they should by it, for it, with it, be perfectly accepted with his Father.

Thus, for our acceptation with God, two things are required:—

First, That satisfaction be made for our disobedience, — for whatever we had done which might damage the justice and honour of God; and that God be atoned towards us: which could no otherwise be, but by undergoing the penalty of the law. This, I have showed abundantly, is done by the death of Christ. God “made him to be sin for us,” 2 Cor. v. 21, — a “curse,” Gal. iii. 13. On this account we have our absolution, — our acquitment from the guilt of sin, the sentence of the law, the wrath of God, Rom. viii. 33, 34. We are justified, acquitted, freed from condemnation, because it was Christ that died; “he bare our sins in his own body on the tree,” 1 Pet. ii. 24.

Second, That the righteousness of the law be fulfilled, and the obedience performed that is required at our hands. And this is done by the life of Christ, Rom. v. 18, 19. So that answerable hereunto, according to our state and the condition of our acceptation with God, there are two parts:—

Our absolution from the guilt of sin, that our disobedience be not charged upon us. This we have by the death of Christ; our sins being imputed to him, shall not be imputed to us, 2 Cor. v. 21; Rom. iv. 25; Isa. liii. 12.

Imputation of righteousness, that we may be accounted perfectly righteous before God; and this we have by the life of Christ. His righteousness in yielding obedience to the law is imputed to us. And thus is our acceptation with God completed. Being discharged from the guilt of our disobedience by the death of Christ, and having the righteousness of the life of Christ imputed to us, we have friendship and peace with God. And this is that which I call our grace of acceptation with God, wherein we have communion with Jesus Christ.

That which remains for me to do, is to show how believers hold distinct communion with Christ in this grace of acceptation, and how thereby they keep alive a sense of it, — the comfort and life of it being to be renewed every day. Without this, life is a hell; no peace, no joy can we be made partakers of, but what hath its rise from hence. Look what grounded persuasion we have of our acceptation with God, that he is at peace with us; whereunto is the revenue of our peace, comfort, joy, yea, and holiness itself, proportioned.

But yet, before I come in particular to handle our practical communion with the Lord Jesus in this thing, I must remove two considerable objections; — the one of them lying against the first part of our acceptation with God, the other against the latter.

Objection 1. For our absolution by and upon the death of Christ, it may be said, that “if the elect have their absolution, reconciliation, and freedom by the death, blood, and cross of Christ, whence is it, then, that they were not all actually absolved at the death of Christ, or at least so soon as they are born, but that many of them live a long while under the wrath of God in this world, as being unbelievers, under the sentence and condemning power of the law? John iii. 36. Why are they not immediately freed, upon the payment of the price and making reconciliation for them?”

Obj. 2. “If the obedience of the life of Christ be imputed unto us, and that is our righteousness before God, then what need we yield any obedience ourselves? Is not all our praying, labouring, watching, fasting, giving alms, — are not all fruits of holiness, in purity of heart and usefulness of conversation, all in vain and to no purpose? And who, then, will or need take care to be holy, humble, righteous, meek, temperate, patient, good, peaceable, or to abound in good works in the world?”

1. I shall, God assisting, briefly remove these two objections, and then proceed to carry on the design in hand, about our communion with Christ:—

(1.) Jesus Christ, in his undertaking of the work of our reconciliation with God, — for which cause he came into the world, — and the accomplishment of it by his death, was constituted and considered as a common, public person, in the stead of them for whose reconciliation to God he suffered. Hence he is the “mediator between God and man,” 1 Tim. ii. 5, — that is, one who undertook to God for us, as the next words manifest, verse 6, “Who gave himself a ransom for all,” — and the “surety of the better covenant,” Heb. vii. 22; undertaking for and on the behalf of them with whom that covenant was made. Hence he is said to be given “for a covenant of the people,” Isa. xlii. 6; and a “leader,” lv. 4. He was the second Adam, 1 Cor. xv. 45, 47, to all ends and purposes of righteousness, to his spiritual seed, as the first Adam was of sin to his natural seed, Rom. v. 15–19.

(2.) His being thus a common person, arose chiefly from these things:—

[1.] In general, from the covenant entered into by himself with his Father to this purpose. The terms of this covenant are at large insisted on, Isa. liii., summed up, Ps. xl. 7, 8; Heb. x. 8–10. Hence the Father became to be his God; which is a covenant expression, Ps. lxxxix. 26; Heb. i. 5; Ps. xxii. 1, xl. 8, xlv. 7; Rev. iii. 12; Mic. v. 4. So was he by his Father on this account designed to this work, Isa. xlii. 1, 6, xlix. 9; Mal. iii. 1; Zech. xiii. 7; John iii. 16; 1 Tim. i. 15. Thus the “counsel of peace” became to be “between them both,” Zech. vi. 13; that is, the Father and Son. And the Son rejoices from eternity in the thought of this undertaking, Prov. viii. 22–30. The command given him to this purpose, the promises made to him thereon, the assistance afforded to him, I have elsewhere handled.

[2.] In the sovereign grant, appointment, and design of the Father, giving and delivering the elect to Jesus Christ in this covenant, to be redeemed and reconciled to himself. John xvii. 6, “Thine they were, and thou gavest them me.” They were God’s by eternal designation and election, and he gave them to Christ to be redeemed. Hence, before their calling or believing, he calls them his “sheep,” John x. 15, 16, laying down his life for them as such; and hence are we said to be “chosen in Christ,” Eph. i. 4, or designed to obtain all the fruits of the love of God by Christ, and committed into his hand for that end and purpose.

[3.] In his undertaking to suffer what was due to them, and to do what was to be done by them, that they might be delivered, reconciled, and accepted with God. And he undertakes to give in to the Father, without loss or miscarriage, what he had so received of the Father as above, John xvii. 2, 12, vi. 37, 39; as Jacob did the cattle he received of Laban, Gen. xxxi. 39, 40. Of both these I have treated somewhat at large elsewhere, in handling the covenant between the Father and the Son; so that I shall not need to take it up here again.

[4.] They being given unto him, he undertaking for them to do and suffer what was on their part required, he received, on their behalf and for them, all the promises of all the mercies, grace, good things, and privileges, which they were to receive upon the account of his undertaking for them. On this account eternal life is said to be promised of God “before the world began,” Tit. i. 2; that is, to the Son of God for us, on his undertaking on our behalf. And grace, also, is said to be given unto us “before the world began,” 2 Tim. i. 9; that is, in Christ, our appointed head, mediator, and representative.

[5.] Christ being thus a common person, a mediator, surety, and representative, of his church, upon his undertaking, as to efficacy and merit, and upon his actual performance, as to solemn declaration, was as such acquitted, absolved, justified, and freed, from all and every thing that, on the behalf of the elect, as due to them, was charged upon him, or could so be; I say, as to all the efficacy and merit of his undertakings, he was immediately absolved upon his faithfulness, in his first engagement: and thereby all the saints of the Old Testament were saved by his blood no less than we. As to solemn declaration, he was so absolved when, the “pains of death being loosed”, he was “declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead;” Rom. i. 4, God saying to him, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee,” Ps. ii. 7. And this his absolution doth Christ express his confidence of, Isa. l. 5–9. And he was “justified,” 1 Tim. iii. 16. That which I intend by this absolution of Christ as a public person is this:— God having made him under the law, for them who were so, Gal. iv. 4; in their stead, obnoxious to the punishment due to sin, made him sin, 2 Cor. v. 21; and so gave justice, and law, and all the consequents of the curse thereof, power against him, Isa. liii. 6; — upon his undergoing of that which was required of him, verse 12, God looses the pains and power of death, accepts him, and is well pleased with him, as to the performance and discharge of his work, John xvii. 3–6; pronounceth him free from the obligation that was on him, Acts xiii.; and gave him a promise of all good things he aimed at, and which his soul desired. Hereon are all the promises of God made to Christ, and their accomplishment, — all the encouragements given him to ask and make demand of the things originally engaged for to him, Ps. ii. 8, (which he did accordingly, John xvii.), — founded and built. And here lies the certain, stable foundation of our absolution, and acceptation with God. Christ in our stead, acting for us as our surety, being acquitted, absolved, solemnly declared to have answered the whole debt that was incumbent on him to pay, and made satisfaction for all the injury we had done, a general pardon is sealed for us all, to be sued out particularly in the way to be appointed. For, —

[6.] Christ as a public person being thus absolved, it became righteous with God, a righteous thing, from the covenant, compact, and convention, that was between him and the Mediator, that those in whose stead he was, should obtain, and have bestowed on them, all the fruits of his death, in reconciliation with God, Rom. v. 8–11; that as Christ received the general acquittance for them all, so they should every one of them enjoy it respectively. This is everywhere manifested in those expressions which express a commutation designed by God in this matter; as 2 Cor. v. 21; Gal. iii. 13; 1 Pet. ii. 21, 24; — of which afterward.

[7.] Being thus acquitted in the covenant of the Mediator (whence they are said to be circumcised with him, to die with him, to be buried with him, to rise with him, to sit with him in heavenly places, — namely, in the covenant of the Mediator), and it being righteous that they should be acquitted personally in the covenant of grace, it was determined by Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that the way of their actual personal deliverance from the sentence and curse of the law should be in and by such a way and dispensation as might lead to the praise of the glorious grace of God, Eph. i. 5–7. The appointment of God is, that we shall have the adoption of children. The means of it, is by Jesus Christ; the peculiar way of bringing it about, is by the redemption that is in his blood; the end, is the praise of his glorious grace. And thence it is, —

[8.] That until the full time of their actual deliverance, determined and appointed to them in their several generations, be accomplished, they are personally under the curse of the law; and, on that account, are legally obnoxious to the wrath of God, from which they shall certainly be delivered; — I say, they are thus personally obnoxious to the law, and the curse thereof; but not at all with its primitive intention of execution upon them, but as it is a means appointed to help forward their acquaintance with Christ, and acceptance with God, on his account. When this is accomplished, that whole obligation ceases, being continued on them in a design of love; their last condition being such as that they cannot without it be brought to a participation of Christ, to the praise of the glorious grace of God.

[9.] The end of the dispensation of grace being to glorify the whole Trinity, the order fixed on and appointed wherein this is to be done, is, by ascending to the Father’s love through the work of the Spirit and blood of the Son. The emanation of divine love to us begins with the Father, is carried on by the Son, and then communicated by the Spirit; the Father designing, the Son purchasing, the Spirit effectually working: which is their order. Our participation is first by the work of the Spirit, to an actual interest in the blood of the Son; whence we have acceptation with the Father.

This, then, is the order whereby we are brought to acceptation with the Father, for the glory of God through Christ:—

1st. That the Spirit may be glorified, he is given unto us, to quicken us, convert us, work faith in us, Rom. viii. 11; Eph. i. 19, 20; according to all the promises of the covenant, Isa. iv. 4, 5; Ezek. xi. 19, xxxvi. 26.

2dly. This being wrought in us, for the glory of the Son, we are actually interested, according to the tenor of the covenant, at the same instant of time, in the blood of Christ, as to the benefits which he hath procured for us thereby; yea, this very work of the Spirit itself is a fruit and part of the purchase of Christ. But we speak of our sense of this thing, whereunto the communication of the Spirit is antecedent. And, —

3dly. To the glory of the Father, we are accepted with him, justified, freed from guilt, pardoned, and have “peace with God,” Rom. v. 1. Thus, “through Christ we have access by one Spirit unto the Father,” Eph. ii. 17. And thus are both Father and Son and the Holy Spirit glorified in our justification and acceptation with God; the Father in his free love, the Son in his full purchase, and the Holy Spirit in his effectual working.

[10.] All this, in all the parts of it, is no less fully procured for us, nor less freely bestowed on us, for Christ’s sake, on his account, as part of his purchase and merits, than if all of us immediately upon his death, had been translated into heaven; only this way of our deliverance and freedom is fixed on, that the whole Trinity may be glorified thereby. And this may suffice in answer to the first objection. Though our reconciliation with God be fully and completely procured by the death of Christ, and all the ways and means whereby it is accomplished; yet we are brought unto an actual enjoyment thereof, by the way and in the order mentioned, for the praise of the glorious grace of God.

2. The second objection is, “That if the righteousness and obedience of Christ to the law be imputed unto us, then what need we yield obedience ourselves?” To this, also, I shall return answer as briefly as I can in the ensuing observations:—

(1.) The placing of our gospel obedience on the right foot of account (that it may neither be exalted into a state, condition, use, or end, not given it of God; nor any reason, cause, motive, end, necessity of it, on the other hand, taken away, weakened, or impaired), is a matter of great importance. Some make our obedience, the works of faith, our works, the matter or cause of our justification; some, the condition of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ; some, the qualification of the person justified, on the one hand; some exclude all the necessity of them, and turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, on the other. To debate these differences is not my present business; only, I say, on this and other accounts, the right stating of our obedience is of great importance as to our walking with God.

(2.) We do by no means assign the same place, condition, state, and use to the obedience of Christ imputed to us, and our obedience performed to God. If we did, they were really inconsistent. And therefore those who affirm that our obedience is the condition or cause of our justification, do all of them deny the imputation of the obedience of Christ unto us. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, as that on the account whereof we are accepted and esteemed righteous before God, and are really so, though not inherently. We are as truly righteous with the obedience of Christ imputed to us as Adam was, or could have been, by a complete righteousness of his own performance. So Rom. v. 18, by his obedience we are made righteous, — made so truly, and so accepted; as by the disobedience of Adam we are truly made trespassers, and so accounted. And this is that which the apostle desires to be found in, in opposition to his own righteousness, Phil. iii. 9. But our own obedience is not the righteousness whereupon we are accepted and justified before God; although it be acceptable to God that we should abound therein. And this distinction the apostle doth evidently deliver and confirm, so as nothing can be more clearly revealed: Eph. ii. 8–10, “For by grace are ye saved through faith: and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath prepared that we should walk in them.” We are saved, or justified (for that it is whereof the apostle treats), “by grace through faith,” which receives Jesus Christ and his obedience; “not of works, lest any man should boast.” “But what works are they that the apostle intends?” The works of believers, as in the very beginning of the next words is manifest: “ ‘For we are,’ we believers, with our obedience and our works, of whom I speak.” “Yea; but what need, then, of works?” Need still there is: “We are his workmanship,” etc.

Two things the apostle intimates in these words:—

[1.] A reason why we cannot be saved by works, — namely, because we do them not in or by our own strength; which is necessary we should do, if we will be saved by them, or justified by them. “But this is not so,” saith the apostle; “for we are the workmanship of God,” etc.; — all our works are wrought in us, by full and effectual undeserved grace.

[2.] An assertion of the necessity of good works, notwithstanding that we are not saved by them; and that is, that God has ordained that we shall walk in them: which is a sufficient ground of our obedience, whatever be the use of it.

If you will say then, “What are the true and proper gospel grounds, reasons, uses, and motives of our obedience; whence the necessity thereof may be demonstrated, and our souls be stirred up to abound and be fruitful therein?” I say, they are so many, and lie so deep in the mystery of the gospel and dispensation of grace, spread themselves so throughout the whole revelation of the will of God unto us, that to handle them fully and distinctly, and to give them their due weight, is a thing that I cannot engage in, lest I should be turned aside from what I principally intend. I shall only give you some brief heads of what might at large be insisted on:—

1st. Our universal obedience and good works are indispensably necessary, from the sovereign appointment and will of God; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

In general. “This is the will of God, even your sanctification,” or holiness, 1 Thess. iv. 3. This is that which God wills, which he requires of us, — that we be holy, that we be obedient, that we do his will as the angels do in heaven. The equity, necessity, profit, and advantage of this ground of our obedience might at large be insisted on; and, were there no more, this might suffice alone, — if it be the will of God, it is our duty:—

(1st.) The Father hath ordained or appointed it. It is the will of the Father, Eph. ii. 10. The Father is spoken of personally, Christ being mentioned as mediator.

(2dly.) The Son hath ordained and appointed it as mediator. John xv. 16, “ ‘I have ordained you, that ye should bring forth fruit’ of obedience, and that it should remain.” And, —

(3dly.) The Holy Ghost appoints and ordains believers to works of obedience and holiness, and to work holiness in others. So, in particular, Acts xiii. 2, he appoints and designs men to the great work of obedience in preaching the gospel. And in sinning, men sin against him.

2dly. Our holiness, our obedience, work of righteousness, is one eminent and especial end of the peculiar dispensation of Father, Son, and Spirit, in the business of exalting the glory of God in our salvation, — of the electing love of the Father, the purchasing love of the Son, and the operative love of the Spirit:—

(1st.) It is a peculiar end of the electing love of the Father, Eph. i. 4, “He hath chosen us, that we should be holy and without blame.” So Isa. iv. 3, 4. His aim and design in choosing of us was, that we should be holy and unblamable before him in love. This he is to accomplish, and will bring about in them that are his. “He chooses us to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the truth,” 2 Thess. ii. 13. This the Father designed as the first and immediate end of electing love; and proposes the consideration of that love as a motive to holiness, 1 John iv. 8–10.

(2dly.) It is so also of the exceeding love of the Son; whereof the testimonies are innumerable. I shall give but one or two:— Tit. ii. 14, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” This was his aim, his design, in giving himself for us; as Eph. v. 25–27, “Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word; that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish.” 2 Cor. v. 15; Rom. vi. 11.

(3dly.) It is the very work of the love of the Holy Ghost. His whole work upon us, in us, for us, consists in preparing of us for obedience; enabling of us thereunto, and bringing forth the fruits of it in us. And this he doth in opposition to a righteousness of our own, either before it or to be made up by it, Tit. iii. 5. I need not insist on this. The fruits of the Spirit in us are known, Gal. v. 22, 23.

And thus have we a twofold bottom of the necessity of our obedience and personal holiness:— God hath appointed it, he requires it; and it is an eminent immediate end of the distinct dispensation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the work of our salvation. If God’s sovereignty over us is to be owned, if his love towards us be to be regarded, if the whole work of the ever-blessed Trinity, for us, in us, be of any moment, our obedience is necessary.

3dly. It is necessary in respect of the end thereof; and that whether you consider God, ourselves, or the world:—

(1st.) The end of our obedience, in respect of God, is, his glory and honour, Mal. i. 6. This is God’s honour, — all that we give him. It is true, he will take his honour from the stoutest and proudest rebel in the world; but all we give him is in our obedience. The glorifying of God by our obedience is all that we are or can be. Particularly, —

[1st.] It is the glory of the Father. Matt. v. 16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” By our walking in the light of faith doth glory arise to the Father. The fruits of his love, of his grace, of his kindness, are seen upon us; and God is glorified in our behalf. And, —

[2dly.] The Son is glorified thereby. It is the will of God that as all men honour the Father, so should they honour the Son, John v. 23. And how is this done? By believing in him, John xiv. 1; obeying of him. Hence, John xvii. 10, he says he is glorified in believers; and prays for an increase of grace and union for them, that he may yet be more glorified, and all might know that, as mediator, he was sent of God.

[3dly.] The Spirit is glorified also by it. He is grieved by our disobedience, Eph. iv. 30; and therefore his glory is in our bringing forth fruit. He dwells in us, as in his temple; which is not to be defiled. Holiness becometh his habitation for ever.

Now, if this that hath been said be not sufficient to evince a necessity of our obedience, we must suppose ourselves to speak with a sort of men who regard neither the sovereignty, nor love, nor glory of God, Father, Son, or Holy Ghost. Let men say what they please, though our obedience should be all lost, and never regarded (which is impossible, for God is not unjust, to forget our labour of love), yet here is a sufficient bottom, ground, and reason of yielding more obedience unto God than ever we shall do whilst we live in this world. I speak also only of gospel grounds of obedience, and not of those that are natural and legal, which are indispensable to all mankind.

(2dly.) The end in respect of ourselves immediately is threefold:— [1st.] Honour. [2dly.] Peace. [3dly.] Usefulness.

[1st.] Honour. It is by holiness that we are made like unto God, and his image is renewed again in us. This was our honour at our creation, this exalted us above all our fellow-creatures here below, — we were made in the image of God. This we lost by sin, and became like the beasts that perish. To this honour, of conformity to God, of bearing his image, are we exalted again by holiness alone. “Be ye holy,” says God, “for I am holy,” 1 Pet. i. 16; and, “Be ye perfect” (that is, in doing good), “even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” Matt. v. 48, — in a likeness and conformity to him. And herein is the image of God renewed; Eph. iv. 23, 24, therein we “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and holiness of truth.” This was that which originally was attended with power and dominion; — is still all that is beautiful or comely in the world. How it makes men honourable and precious in the sight of God, of angels, of men; how alone it is that which is not despised, which is of price before the Lord; what contempt and scorn he hath of them in whom it is not, — in what abomination he hath them and all their ways, — might easily be evinced.

[2dly.] Peace. By it we have communion with God, wherein peace alone is to be enjoyed. “The wicked are like the troubled sea, that cannot rest;” and, “There is no peace” to them, “saith my God,” Isa. lvii. 20, 21. There is no peace, rest, or quietness, in a distance, separation, or alienation from God. He is the rest of our souls. In the light of his countenance is life and peace. Now, “if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another,” 1 John i. 7; “and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ,” verse 3. He that walks in the light of new obedience, he hath communion with God, and in his presence is fulness of joy for ever; without it, there is nothing but darkness, and wandering, and confusion.

[3dly.] Usefulness. A man without holiness is good for nothing. “Ephraim,” says the prophet, “is an empty vine, that brings forth fruit to itself.” And what is such a vine good for? Nothing. Saith another prophet, “A man cannot make so much as a pin of it, to hang a vessel on.” A barren tree is good for nothing, but to be cut down for the fire. Notwithstanding the seeming usefulness of men who serve the providence of God in their generations, I could easily manifest that the world and the church might want them, and that, indeed, in themselves they are good for nothing. Only the holy man is commune bonum.

(3dly.) The end of it in respect of others in the world is manifold:—

[1st.] It serves to the conviction and stopping the mouths of some of the enemies of God, both here and hereafter:— 1. Here. 1 Pet. iii. 16, “Having a good conscience; that, wherein they speak evil of you, as of evil-doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.” By our keeping of a good conscience men will be made ashamed of their false accusations; that whereas their malice and hatred of the ways of God hath provoked them to speak all manner of evil of the profession of them, by the holiness and righteousness of the saints, they are convinced and made ashamed, as a thief is when he is taken, and be driven to acknowledge that God is amongst them, and that they are wicked themselves, John xvii. 23. 2. Hereafter. It is said that the saints shall judge the world. It is on this, as well as upon other considerations: their good works, their righteousness, their holiness, shall be brought forth, and manifested to all the world; and the righteousness of God’s judgments against wicked men be thence evinced. “See,” says Christ, “these are they that I own, whom you so despised and abhorred; and see their works following them: this and that they have done, when you wallowed in your abominations,” Matt. xxv. 42, 43.

[2dly.] The conversion of others. 1 Pet. ii. 12, “Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak against you as evil-doers, they may, by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation,” Matt. v. 16. Even revilers, persecutors, evil-speakers, have been overcome by the constant holy walking of professors; and when their day of visitation hath come, have glorified God on that account, 1 Pet. iii. 1, 2.

[3dly.] The benefit of all; partly in keeping off judgments from the residue of men, as ten good men would have preserved Sodom:319 partly by their real communication of good to them with whom they have to do in their generation. Holiness makes a man a good man, useful to all; and others eat of the fruits of the Spirit that he brings forth continually.

[4thly.] It is necessary in respect of the state and condition of justified persons; and that whether you consider their relative state of acceptation, or their state of sanctification:—

First. They are accepted and received into friendship with a holy God, — a God of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, — who hates every unclean thing. And is it not necessary that they should be holy who are admitted into his presence, walk in his sight, — yea, lie in his bosom? Should they not with all diligence cleanse themselves from all pollution of320 flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord?

Secondly. In respect of sanctification. We have in us a new creature, 2 Cor. v. 17. This new creature is fed, cherished, nourished, kept alive, by the fruits of holiness. To what end hath God given us new hearts, and new natures? Is it that we should kill them? stifle the creature that is found in us in the womb? that we should give him to the old man to be devoured?

[5thly.] It is necessary in respect of the proper place of holiness in the new covenant; and that is twofold:—

First. Of the means unto the end. God hath appointed that holiness shall be the means, 321the way to that eternal life, which, as in itself and originally [it] is his gift by Jesus Christ, so, with regard to his constitution of our obedience, as the means of attaining it, [it] is a reward, and God in bestowing of it a rewarder. Though it be neither the cause, matter, nor condition of our justification, yet it is the way appointed of God for us to walk in for the obtaining of salvation. And therefore, he that hath hope of eternal life purifies himself, as he is pure: and none shall ever come to that end who walketh not in that way; for without holiness it is impossible to see God.

Secondly. It is a testimony and pledge of adoption, — a sign and evidence of grace; that is, of acceptation with God. And, —

Thirdly. The whole expression of our thankfulness.

Now, there is not one of all these causes and reasons of the necessity, the indispensable necessity of our obedience, good works, and personal righteousness, but would require a more large discourse to unfold and explain than I have allotted to the proposal of them all; and innumerable others there are of the same import, that I cannot name. He that upon these accounts doth not think universal holiness and obedience to be of indispensable necessity, unless also it be exalted into the room of the obedience and righteousness of Christ, let him be filthy still.

These objections being removed, and having, at the entrance of this chapter, declared what is done on the part of Christ, as to our fellowship with him in this purchased grace, as to our acceptation with God, it remains that I now show what also is required and performed on our part for the completing thereof. This, then, consists in the ensuing particulars:—

1. The saints cordially approve of this righteousness, as that alone which is absolutely complete, and able to make them acceptable before God. And this supposeth six things:—

(1.) Their clear and full conviction of the necessity of a righteousness wherewith to appear before God. This is always in their thoughts; this in their whole lives they take for granted. Many men spend their days in obstinacy and hardness, adding drunkenness unto thirst, never once inquiring what their condition shall be when they enter into eternity; others trifle away their time and their souls, sowing the wind of empty hopes, and preparing to reap a whirlwind of wrath; but this lies at the bottom of all the saints’ communion with Christ, — a deep, fixed, resolved persuasion of an absolute and indispensable necessity of a righteousness wherewith to appear before God. The holiness of God’s nature, the righteousness of his government, the severity of his law, the terror of his wrath, are always before them. They have been all convinced of sin, and have looked on themselves as ready to sink under the vengeance due to it. They have all cried, “Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?” “Wherewith shall we come before God?” and have all concluded, that it is in vain to flatter themselves with hopes of escaping as they are by nature. If God be holy and righteous, and of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, they must have a righteousness to stand before him; and they know what will be the cry one day of those who now bear up themselves, as if they were otherwise minded, Isa. liii. 1–5; Mic. vi. 6, 7.

(2.) They weigh their own righteousness in the balance, and find it wanting; and this two ways:—

[1.] In general, and upon the whole of the matter, at their first setting themselves before God. When men are convinced of the necessity of a righteousness, they catch at every thing that presents itself to them for relief. Like men ready to sink in deep waters, [they] catch at that which is next, to save them from drowning; which sometimes proves a rotten stick, that sinks with them. So did the Jews, Rom. ix. 31, 32; they caught hold of the law, and it would not relieve them; and how they perished with it the apostle declares, chap. x. 1–4. The law put them upon setting up a righteousness of their own. This kept them doing, and in hope; but kept them from submitting to the righteousness of God. Here many perish, and never get one step nearer God all their days. This the saints renounce; they have no confidence in the flesh: they know that all they can do, all that the law can do, which is weak through the flesh, will not avail them. See what judgment Paul makes of all a man’s own righteousness, Phil. iii. 8–10. This they bear in their minds daily, this they fill their thoughts withal, that upon the account of what they have done, can do, ever shall do, they cannot be accepted with God, or justified thereby. This keeps their souls humble, full of a sense of their own vileness, all their days.

[2.] In particular. They daily weigh all their particular actions in the balance, and find them wanting, as to any such completeness as, upon their own account, to be accepted with God. “Oh!” says a saint, “if I had nothing to commend me unto God but this prayer, this duty, this conquest of a temptation, wherein I myself see so many failings, so much imperfection, could I appear with any boldness before him? Shall I, then, piece up a garment of righteousness out of my best duties? Ah! it is all as a defiled cloth,” Isa. lxiv. 6. These thoughts accompany them in all their duties, in their best and most choice performances:— “Lord, what am I in my best estate? How little suitableness unto thy holiness is in my best duties! O spare me, in reference to the best thing that ever I did in my life!” Neh. xiii. 22. When a man who lives upon convictions hath got some enlargements in duties, some conquest over a sin or temptation, he hugs himself, like Micah when he had got a Levite to be his priest: now surely it shall be well with him, now God will bless him: his heart is now at ease; he hath peace in what he hath done. But he who hath communion with Christ, when he is highest in duties of sanctification and holiness, is clearest in the apprehension of his own unprofitableness, and rejects every thought that might arise in his heart of setting his peace in them, or upon them. He says to his soul, “Do these things seem something to thee? Alas! thou hast to do with an infinitely righteous God, who looks through and through all that vanity, which thou art but little acquainted withal; and should he deal with thee according to thy best works, thou must perish.”

(3.) They approve of, value, and rejoice in, this righteousness, for their acceptation, which the Lord Jesus hath wrought out and provided for them; this being discovered to them, they approve of it with all their hearts, and rest in it. Isa. xlv. 24, “Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I righteousness and strength.” This is their voice and language, when once the righteousness of God in Christ is made known unto them: “Here is righteousness indeed; here have I rest for my soul. Like the merchant man in the gospel (Matt. xiii. 45, 46) that finds the pearl of price, I had been searching up and down; I looked this and that way for help, but it was far away; I spent my strength for that which was not bread: here is that, indeed, which makes me rich for ever!” When first the righteousness of Christ, for acceptation with God, is revealed to a poor labouring soul, that hath fought for rest and hath found none, he is surprised and amazed, and is not able to contain himself: and such a one always in his heart approves this righteousness on a twofold account:—

[1.] As full of infinite wisdom. “Unto them that believe,” saith the apostle, “Christ crucified is ‘the wisdom of God,’ ” 1 Cor. i. 24. They see infinite wisdom in this way of their acceptation with God. “In what darkness,” says such a one, “in what straits, in what entanglements, was my poor soul! How little able was I to look through the clouds and perplexities wherewith I was encompassed! I looked inwards, and there was nothing but sin, horror, fear, tremblings; I looked upwards, and saw nothing but wrath, curses, and vengeance. I knew that God was a holy and righteous God, and that no unclean thing could abide before him; I knew that I was a poor, vile, unclean, and sinful creature; and how to bring these two together in peace, I knew not. But in the righteousness of Christ doth a world of wisdom open itself, dispelling all difficulties and darkness, and manifesting a reconciliation of all this.” “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” Rom. xi. 33; Col. ii. 3. But of this before.

[2.] As full of grace. He knows that sin had shut up the whole way of grace towards him; and whereas God aims at nothing so much as the manifestation of his grace, he was utterly cut short of it. Now, to have a complete righteousness provided, and yet abundance of grace manifested, exceedingly delights the soul; — to have God’s dealing with his person all grace, and dealing with his righteousness all justice, takes up his thoughts. God everywhere assures us that this righteousness is of grace. It is “by grace, and no more of works,” Rom. xi. 6, as the apostle at large sets it out, Eph. ii. 7–9. It is from riches of grace and kindness that the provision of this righteousness is made. It is of mere grace that it is bestowed on us, it is not at all of works; though it be in itself a righteousness of works, yet to us it is of mere grace. So Tit. iii. 4–7, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” The rise of all this dispensation is kindness and love; that is, grace, verse 4. The way of communication, negatively, is not by works of righteousness that we have done; — positively, by the communication of the Holy Ghost, verse 5; the means of whose procurement is Jesus Christ, verse 6; — and the work itself is by grace, verse 7. Here is use made of every word almost, whereby the exceeding rich grace, kindness, mercy, and goodness of God may be expressed, all concurring in this work. As: 1. Χρηστότης, — his goodness, benignity, readiness to communicate of himself and his good things that may be profitable to us. 2. Φιλανθρωπία, — mercy, love, and propensity of mind to help, assist, relieve them of whom he speaks, towards whom he is so affected. 3. Ἔλεος, — mercy forgiveness, compassion, tenderness, to them that suffer; and χάρις, — free pardoning bounty, undeserved love. And all this is said to be τοῦ Θεοῦ σωτῆρος, — he exercises all these properties and attributes of his nature towards us that he may save us; and in the bestowing of it, giving us the Holy Ghost, it is said, ἐξέχεεν, — he poured him out as water out of a vessel, without stop and hesitation; and that not in a small measure, but πλουσίως, — richly and in abundance: whence, as to the work itself, it is emphatically said, δικαιωθέντες τῆ ἐκείνου χάριτι, — justified by the grace of him who is such a one. And this do the saints of God, in their communion with Christ, exceedingly rejoice in before him, that the way of their acceptation before God is a way of grace, kindness, and mercy, that they might not boast in themselves, but in the Lord and his goodness, crying, “How great is thy goodness! how great is thy bounty!”

(4.) They approve of it, and rejoice in it, as a way of great peace and security to themselves and their own souls. They remember what was their state and condition whilst they went about to set up a righteousness of their own, and were not subject to the righteousness of Christ, — how miserably they were tossed up and down with continual fluctuating thoughts. Sometimes they had hope, and sometimes were full of fear; sometimes they thought themselves in some good condition, and anon were at the very brink of hell, their consciences being racked and torn with sin and fear: but now, “being justified by faith, they have peace with God,” Rom. v. 1. All is quiet and serene; not only that storm is over, but they are in the haven where they would be. They have abiding peace with God. Hence is that description of Christ to a poor soul, Isa. xxxii. 2, “And a man shall he as a hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” Wind and tempest, and drought and weariness, — nothing now troubles the soul that is in Christ; he hath a hiding-place, and a covert, and rivers of water, and the shadow of a great rock, for his security. This is the great mystery of faith in this business of our acceptation with God by Christ:— that whereas the soul of a believer finds enough in him and upon him to rend the very caul of the heart, to fill him with fears, terror, disquietments all his days, yet through Christ he is at perfect peace with God, Isa. xxvi. 3; Ps. iv. 6–8. Hence do the souls of believers exceedingly magnify Jesus Christ, that they can behold the face of God with boldness, confidence, peace, joy, assurance, — that they can call him Father, bear themselves on his love, walk up and down in quietness, and without fear. How glorious is the Son of God in this grace! They remember the wormwood and gall that they have eaten; — the vinegar and tears they have drunk; — the trembling of their souls, like an aspen leaf that is shaken with the wind. Whenever they thought of God, what contrivances have they had to hide, and fly, and escape! To be brought now to settlement and security, must needs greatly affect them.

(5.) They cordially approve of this righteousness, because it is a way and means of exceeding exaltation and honour of the Lord Jesus, whom their souls do love. Being once brought to an acquaintance with Jesus Christ, their hearts desire nothing more than that he may be honoured and glorified to the utmost, and in all things have the pre-eminence. Now, what can more tend to the advancing and honouring of him in our hearts, than to know that he is made of God unto us “wisdom and righteousness?” 1 Cor. i. 30. Not that he is this or that part of our acceptation with God; but he is all, — he is the whole. They know that on the account of his working out their acceptation with God, he is, —

[1.] Honoured of God his Father. Phil. ii. 7–11, “He made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Whether that word “wherefore” denotes a connection of causality or only a consequence, this is evident, that on the account of his suffering, and as the end of it, he was 322honoured and exalted of God to an unspeakable pre-eminence, dignity, and authority; according as God had promised him on the same account, Isa. liii. 11, 12; Acts ii. 36, v. 30, 31. And therefore it is said, that when “he had by himself purged our sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” Heb. i. 3.

[2.] He is on this account honoured of all the angels in heaven, even because of this great work of bringing sinners unto God; for they do not only bow down and desire to look into the mystery of the cross, 1 Pet. i. 12, but worship and praise him always on this account: Rev. v. 11–14, “I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the living creatures and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven and earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the living creatures said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.” The reason given of this glorious and wonderful doxology, this attribution of honour and glory to Jesus Christ by the whole host of heaven, is, because he was the Lamb that was slain; that is, because of the work of our redemption and our bringing unto God. And it is not a little refreshment and rejoicing to the souls of the saints, to know that all the angels of God, the whole host of heaven, which never sinned, do yet continually rejoice and ascribe praise and honour to the Lord Jesus, for his bringing them to peace and favour with God.

[3.] He is honoured by his saints all the world over; and indeed, if they do not, who should? If they honour him not as they honour the Father, they are, of all men, the most unworthy. But see what they do, Rev. i. 5, 6, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Chap. v. 8–10, “The four living creatures and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” The great, solemn worship of the Christian church consists in this assignation of honour and glory to the Lord Jesus: therefore do they love him, honour him, delight in him; as Paul, Phil. iii. 8; and so the spouse, Cant. v. 9–16. And this is on this account, —

(6.) They cordially approve of this righteousness, this way of acceptation, as that which brings glory to God as such. When they were labouring under the guilt of sin, that which did most of all perplex their souls was, that their safety was inconsistent with the glory and honour of the great God, — 323with his justice, faithfulness, and truth, all which were engaged for the destruction of sin; and how to come off from ruin without the loss of their honour [i. e., the honour of the fore-mentioned attributes] they saw not. But now by the revelation of this righteousness from faith to faith, they plainly see that all the properties of God are exceedingly glorified in the pardon, justification, and acceptance of poor sinners; as before was manifested.

And this is the first way whereby the saints hold daily communion with the Lord Jesus in this purchased grace of acceptation with God: they consider, approve of, and rejoice in, the way, means, and thing itself.

2. They make an actual commutation with the Lord Jesus as to their sins and his righteousness. Of this there are also sundry parts:—

(1.) They continually keep alive upon their hearts a sense of the guilt and evil of sin; even then when they are under some comfortable persuasions of their personal acceptance with God. Sense of pardon takes away the horror and fear, but not a due sense of the guilt of sin. It is the daily exercise of the saints of God, to consider the great provocation that is in sin, — their sins, the sin of their nature and lives; to render themselves vile in their own hearts and thoughts on that account; to compare it with the terror of the Lord; and to judge themselves continually. This they do in general. “My sin is ever before me,” says David. They set sin before them, not to terrify and affright their souls with it, but that a due sense of the evil of it may be kept alive upon their hearts.

(2.) They gather up in their thoughts the sins for which they have not made a particular reckoning with God in Christ; or if they have begun so to do, yet they have not made clear work of it, nor come to a clear and comfortable issue. There is nothing more dreadful than for a man to be able to digest his convictions; — to have sin look him in the face, and speak perhaps some words of terror to him, and to be able, by any charms of diversions or delays, to put it off, without coming to a full trial as to state and condition in reference thereunto. This the saints do:— they gather up their sins, lay them in the balance of the law, see and consider their weight and desert; and then, —

(3.) They make this commutation I speak of with Jesus Christ; that is, —

[1.] They seriously consider, and by faith conquer, all objections to the contrary, that Jesus Christ, by the will and appointment of the Father, hath really undergone the punishment that was due to those sins that lie now under his eye and consideration, Isa. liii. 6; 2 Cor. v. 21. He hath as certainly and really answered the justice of God for them as, if he himself (the sinner) should at that instant be cast into hell, he could do.

[2.] They hearken to the voice of Christ calling them to him with their burden, “Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden;” — “Come with your burdens; come, thou poor soul, with thy guilt of sin.” Why? what to do? “Why, this is mine,” saith Christ; “this agreement I made with my Father, that I should come, and take thy sins, and bear them away: they were my lot. Give me thy burden, give me all thy sins. Thou knowest not what to do with them; I know how to dispose of them well enough, so that God shall be glorified, and thy soul delivered.” Hereupon, —

[3.] They lay down their sins at the cross of Christ, upon his shoulders. This is faith’s great and bold venture upon the grace, faithfulness, and truth of God, to stand by the cross and say, “Ah! he is bruised for my sins, and wounded for my transgressions, and the chastisement of my peace is upon him. He is thus made sin for me. Here I give up my sins to him that is able to bear them, to undergo them. He requires it of my hands, that I should be content that he should undertake for them; and that I heartily consent unto.” This is every day’s work; I know not how any peace can be maintained with God without it. If it be the work of souls to receive Christ, as made sin for us, we must receive him as one that takes our sins upon him. Not as though he died any more, or suffered any more; but as the faith of the saints of old made that present and done before their eyes [which had] not yet come to pass, Heb. xi. 1, so faith now makes that present which was accomplished and past many generations ago. This it is to know Christ crucified.

[4.] Having thus by faith given up their sins to Christ, and seen God laying them all on him, they draw nigh, and take from him that righteousness which he hath wrought out for them; so fulfilling the whole of that of the apostle, 2 Cor. v. 21, “He was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” They consider him tendering himself and his righteousness, to be their righteousness before God; they take it, and accept of it, and complete this blessed bartering and exchange of faith. Anger, curse, wrath, death, sin as to its guilt, he took it all and takes it all away. With him we leave whatever of this nature belongs to us; and from him we receive love, life, righteousness, and peace.

Objection. But it may be said, “Surely this course of procedure can never be acceptable to Jesus Christ. What! shall we daily come to him with our filth, our guilt, our sins? May he not, will he not, bid us keep them to ourselves? they are our own. Shall we be always giving sins, and taking righteousness?”

Answer. There is not any thing that Jesus Christ is more delighted with, than that his saints should always hold communion with him as to this business of giving and receiving. For, —

1. This exceedingly honours him, and gives him the glory that is his due. Many, indeed, cry “Lord, Lord,” and make mention of him, but honour him not at all. How so? They take his work out of his hands, and ascribe it unto other things; their repentance, their duties, shall bear their iniquities. They do not say so; but they do so. The commutation they make, if they make any, it is with themselves. All their bartering about sin is in and with their own souls. The work that Christ came to do in the world, was to “bear our iniquities,” and lay down his life a ransom for our sins. The cup he had to drink of was filled with our sins, as to the punishment due to them. What greater dishonour, then, can be done to the Lord Jesus, than to ascribe this work to any thing else, — to think to get rid of our sins [by] any other way or means? Herein, then, I say, is Christ honoured indeed, when we go to him with our sins by faith, and say unto him, “Lord, this is thy work; this is that for which thou camest into the world; this is that thou hast undertaken to do. Thou callest for my burden, which is too heavy for me to bear; take it, blessed Redeemer. Thou tenderest thy righteousness; that is my portion.” Then is Christ honoured, then is the glory of mediation ascribed to him, when we walk with him in this communion.

2. This exceedingly endears the souls of the saints to him, and constrains them to put a due valuation upon him, his love, his righteousness, and grace. When they find, and have the daily use of it, then they do it. Who would not love him? “I have been with the Lord Jesus,” may the poor soul say: “I have left my sins, my burden, with him; and he hath given me his righteousness, wherewith I am going with boldness to God. I was dead, and am alive; for he died for me: I was cursed, and am blessed; for he was made a curse for me: I was troubled, but have peace; for the chastisement of my peace was upon him. I knew not what to do, nor whither to cause my sorrow to go; by him have I received joy unspeakable and glorious. If I do not love him, delight in him, obey him, live to him, die for him, I am worse than the devils in hell.” Now the great aim of Christ in the world is, to have a high place and esteem in the hearts of his people; to have there, as he hath in himself, the pre-eminence in all things, — not to be jostled up and down among other things, — to be all, and in all. And thus are the saints of God prepared to esteem him, upon the engaging themselves to this communion with him.

Obj. Yea, but you will say, “If this be so, what need we to repent or amend our ways? it is but going to Christ by faith, making this exchange with him: and so we may sin, that grace may abound.”

Ans. I judge no man’s person; but this I must needs say, that I do not understand how a man that makes this objection in cold blood, not under a temptation or accidental darkness, can have any true or real acquaintance with Jesus Christ: however, this I am certain of, that this communion in itself produces quite other effects than those supposed. For, —

1. For repentance; it is, I suppose, a gospel repentance that is intended. For a legal, bondage repentance, full of dread, amazement, terror, self-love, astonishment at the presence of God, I confess this communion takes it away, prevents it, casts it out, with its bondage and fear; but for gospel repentance, whose nature consists in godly sorrow for sin, with its relinquishment, proceeding from faith, love, and abhorrence of sin, on accounts of Father, Son, and Spirit, both law and love, — that this should be hindered by this communion, is not possible. I told you that the foundation of this communion is laid in a deep, serious, daily consideration of sin, its guilt, vileness, and abomination, and our own vileness on that account; that a sense hereof is to be kept alive in and upon the heart of every one that will enjoy this communion with Christ: without it Christ is of no value nor esteem to him. Now, is it possible that a man should daily fill his heart with the thoughts of the vileness of sin, on all considerations whatever, — of law, love, grace, gospel, life, and death, — and be filled with self-abhorrency on this account, and yet be a stranger to godly sorrow? Here is the mistake, — the foundation of this communion is laid in that which they suppose it overthrows.

2. But what shall we say for obedience? “If Christ be so glorified and honoured by taking our sins, the more we bring to him, the more will he be glorified.” A man could not suppose that this objection would be made, but that the Holy Ghost, who knows what is in man and his heart, hath made it for them, and in their name, Rom. vi. 1–3. The very same doctrine that I have insisted on being delivered, chap. v. 18–20, the same objection is made to it: and for those who think it may have any weight, I refer them to the answer given in that chapter by the apostle; as also to what was said before to the necessity of our obedience, notwithstanding the imputation of the righteousness of Christ.

But you will say, “How should we address ourselves to the performance of this duty? what path are we to walk in?”

Faith exercises itself in it, especially three ways:—

(1.) In meditation. The heart goes over, in its own thoughts, the part above insisted on, sometimes severally, sometimes jointly, sometimes fixing primarily on one thing, sometimes on another, and sometimes going over the whole. At one time, perhaps, the soul is most upon consideration of its own sinfulness, and filling itself with shame and self-abhorrency on that account; sometimes it is filled with the thoughts of the righteousness of Christ, and with joy unspeakable and glorious on that account. Especially on great occasions, when grieved and burdened by negligence, or eruption of corruption, then the soul goes over the whole work, and so drives things to an issue with God, and takes up the peace that Christ hath wrought out for him.

(2.) In considering and inquiring into the promises of the gospel, which hold out all these things:— the excellency, fulness, and suitableness of the righteousness of Christ, the rejection of all false righteousness, and the commutation made in the love of God; which was formerly insisted on.

(3.) In prayer. Herein do their souls go through this work day by day; and this communion have all the saints with the Lord Jesus, as to their acceptation with God: which was the first thing proposed to consideration.

—————————————————————–
319 Gen. xviii. 32.
320 2 Cor. vii. 1.
321 Rom. vi. 23; Heb. xi. 6; Gen. xvii. 1; Ps. xix. 11, lviii. 11; Matt. v. 12, x. 41; Rom. iv. 4; Col. ii. 18, iii. 24; Heb. x. 35, xi. 26; 2 Pet. ii. 13.
322 Ps. cx. 1, 5, ii. 8, 9; Zech. ix. 10; Ps. lxxii. 8; Rom. xiv. 11; Isa. xlv, 23; Phil. ii. 10.
323 Rom. i. 17, x. 3, 4.

Chapter 9.

Of communion with Christ in holiness — The several acts ascribed unto the Lord Christ herein: 1. His intercession; 2. Sending of the Spirit; 3. Bestows habitual grace — What that is, and wherein it consists — This purchased by Christ; bestowed by him — Of actual grace — How the saints hold communion with Christ in these things; manifested in sundry particulars.

II. Our communion with the Lord Jesus as to that grace of sanctification and purification whereof we have made mention, in the several distinctions and degrees thereof, formerly, is nextly to be considered. And herein the former method must be observed; and we must show, — 1. What are the peculiar actings of the Lord Christ as to this communion; and, 2. What is the duty of the saints herein. The sum is, — How we hold communion with Christ in holiness, as well as in righteousness; and that very briefly:—

1. There are several acts ascribed unto the Lord Jesus in reference to this particular; as, —

(1.) His interceding with the Father, by virtue of his oblation in the behalf of his, that he would bestow the Holy Spirit on them. Here I choose to enter, because of the oblation of Christ itself I have spoken before; otherwise, every thing is to be run up to that head, that source and spring. There lies the foundation of all spiritual mercies whatever; as afterward also shall be manifested. Now the Spirit, as unto us a Spirit of grace, holiness, and consolation, is of the purchase of Christ. It is upon the matter, the great promise of the new covenant, Ezek. xi. 19, “I will put a new spirit within you;” so also, chap. xxxvi. 27; Jer. xxxii. 39, 40; and in sundry other places, whereof afterward. Christ is the mediator and “surety of this new covenant.” Heb. vii. 22, “Jesus was made surety of a better testament,” or rather covenant; — a testament needs no surety. He is the undertaker on the part of God and man also: of man, to give satisfaction; of God, to bestow the whole grace of the promise; as chap. ix. 15, “For this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” He both satisfied for sin and procured the promise. He procures all the love and kindness which are the fruits of the covenant, being himself the original promise thereof, Gen. iii. 15; the whole being so “ordered in all things, and made sure,” 2 Sam. xxiii. 5, that the residue of its effects should all be derived from him, depend upon him, and be procured by him, — “that he in all things might have the pre-eminence,” Col. i. 18; according to the compact and agreement made with him, Isa. liii. 12. They are all the purchase of his blood; and therefore the Spirit also, as promised in that covenant, 1 Cor. i. 30. Now, the whole fruit and purchase of his death is made out from the Father upon his intercession. This (John xiv. 16–18) he promiseth his disciples, that he will pursue the work which he hath in hand in their behalf, and intercede with the Father for the Spirit, as a fruit of his purchase. Therefore he tells them that he will not pray the Father for his love unto them, because the eternal love of the Father is not the fruit but the fountain of his purchase: but the Spirit, that is a fruit; “That,” saith he, “I will pray the Father for,” etc. And what Christ asketh the Father as mediator to bestow on us, that is part of his purchase,324 being promised unto him, upon his undertaking to do the will of God. And this is the first thing that is to be considered in the Lord Jesus, as to the communication of the Spirit of sanctification and purification, the first thing to be considered in this our communion with him, — he intercedes with his Father, that he may be bestowed on us as a fruit of his death and blood shed in our behalf. This is the relation of the Spirit of holiness, as bestowed on us, unto the mediation of Christ. He is the great 325foundation of the covenant of grace; being himself everlastingly destinated and freely given to make a purchase of all the good things thereof. Receiving, according to promise, the Holy Ghost, Acts ii. 33, he sheds him abroad on his own. This faith considers, fixes on, dwells upon. For, —

(2.) His prayer being granted, as the 326Father “hears him always,” he actually sends his Spirit into the hearts of his saints, there to dwell in his stead, and to do all things for them and in them which he himself hath to do. This, secondly, is the Lord Christ by faith to be eyed in; and that not only in respect of the first enduing of our hearts with his Holy Spirit, but also of the continual supplies of it, drawing forth and exciting more effectual 327operations and actings of that indwelling Spirit. Hence, though (John xiv. 16) he says the Father will give them the Comforter, because the original and sovereign dispensation is in his hand, and it is by him made out, upon the intercession of Christ; yet, not being bestowed immediately on us, but, as it were, given into the hand of Christ for us, he affirms that (as to actual collation or bestowing) he sends him himself; chap. xv. 26, “I will send the Comforter to you, from the Father.” He receives him from his Father, and actually sends him unto his saints. So, chap. xvi. 7, “I will send him.” And, verses 14, 15, he manifests how he will send him. He will furnish him with that which is his to bestow upon them: “He shall take of mine (of that which is properly and peculiarly so, — mine, as mediator, — the fruit of my life and death unto holiness), and give it unto you.” But of these things more afterward. This, then, is the second thing that the Lord Christ doth, and which is to be eyed in him:— He sends his Holy Spirit into our hearts; which is the 328efficient cause of all holiness and sanctification, — quickening, enlightening, purifying the souls of his saints. How our union with him, with all the benefit thereon depending, floweth from this his communication of the Spirit unto us, to abide with us, and to dwell in us, I have at large 329elsewhere declared; where also this whole matter is more fully opened. And this is to be considered in him by faith, in reference to the Spirit itself.

(3.) There is that which we call habitual grace; that is, the fruits of the Spirit, — the spirit which is born of the Spirit, John iii. 6. That which is born of, or produced by, the Holy Ghost, in the heart or soul of a man when he is regenerate, that which makes him so, is spirit; in opposition to 330the flesh, or that enmity which is in us by nature against God. It is faith, love, joy, hope, and the rest of the graces of the gospel, in their root or common principle, concerning which these two things are to be observed:—

[1.] That though many particular graces are mentioned, yet there are not different habits or qualities in us, — not several or distinct principles to answer them; but only the same 331habit or spiritual principle putting forth itself in various operations or ways of working, according to the variety of the objects which it goes forth unto, is their common principle: so that it is called and distinguished, as above, rather in respect of actual exercise, with relation to its objects, than habitual inherence; it being one root which hath these many branches.

[2.] This is that which I intend by this habit of grace, — a 332new, gracious, spiritual 333life, or principle, 334created, and 335bestowed on the soul, whereby it is 336changed in all its faculties and affections, fitted and enabled to go forth in the way of obedience unto every divine object that is proposed unto it, according to the mind of God. For instance, the mind can discern of 337spiritual things in a spiritual manner; and therein it is light, illumination. The whole soul closes with Christ, as held forth in the promises of the gospel for righteousness and salvation: that is faith; which being the main and principal work of it, it often gives denomination unto the whole. So when it rests in God, in Christ, with delight, desire, and complacency, it is called love; being, indeed, the principle suiting all the faculties of our souls for spiritual and living operations, according to their natural use. Now it differs, —

1st. From the Spirit dwelling in the saints; for it is a created quality. The Spirit dwells in us as a free agent in a holy habitation. This grace, as a quality, remains in us, as in its own proper subject, that hath not any subsistence but therein, and is capable of being intended338 or restrained under great variety of degrees.

2dly. From actual grace, which is transient; this making its residence in the soul. 339Actual grace is an illapse of divine influence and assistance, working in and by the soul any spiritual act or duty whatsoever, without any pre-existence unto that act or continuance after it, “God working in us, both to will and to do.” But this habitual grace is always resident in us, causing the soul to be a meet principle for all those holy and spiritual operations which by actual grace are to be performed. And, —

3dly. It is capable of augmentation and diminution, as was said. In some it is more large and more effectual than in others; yea, in some persons, more at one time than another. Hence are those 340dyings, decays, ruins, recoveries, complaints, and rejoicings, whereof so frequent mention is made in the Scripture.

These things being premised as to the nature of it, let us now consider what we are to eye in the Lord Jesus in reference thereunto, to make an entrance into our communion with him therein, as things by him or on his part performed:—

As I said of the Spirit, so, in the first place, I say of this, it is of the purchase of Christ, and is so to be looked on. “It is given unto us for 341his sake to believe on him,” Phil. i. 29. The Lord, on the behalf of Christ, for his sake, because it is purchased and procured by him for us, bestows faith, and (by same rule) all grace upon us. “We are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in him,” Eph. i. 3. “In him;”342 that is, in and through his mediation for us. His oblation and intercession lie at the bottom of this dispensation. Were not grace by them procured, it would never by any one soul be enjoyed. All grace is from this fountain. In our receiving it from Christ, we must still consider what it 343cost him. Want of this weakens faith in its proper workings. His whole intercession is founded on his oblation, 1 John ii. 1, 2. What he purchased by his death, that — nor more nor less, as hath been often said — he intercedeth may be bestowed. And he prays that all his saints may have this grace whereof we speak, John xvii. 17. Did we continually consider all grace as the fruit of the purchase of Christ, it would be an exceeding endearment on our spirits: nor can we without this consideration, according to the tenor of the gospel, ask or expect any grace. It is no prejudice to the free grace of the Father, to look on any thing as the purchase of the Son; it was from that grace that he made that purchase: and in the receiving of grace from God, we have not communion with Christ, who is yet the treasury and storehouse of it, unless we look upon it as his purchase. He hath obtained that we should be 344sanctified throughout, have life in us, be humble, holy, believing, dividing the spoil with the mighty, by destroying the works of the devil in us.

Secondly. The Lord Christ doth actually communicate this grace unto his saints, and bestows it on them: “Of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace,” John i. 16. For, —

(1st.) The Father actually invests him with all the grace whereof, by compact and agreement, he hath made a purchase (as he received the promise of the Spirit); which is all that is of use for the bringing his many sons to glory. “It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,” Col. i. 19, — that he should be invested with a fulness of that grace which is needful for his people. This himself calls the “power of giving eternal life to his elect,” John xvii. 2; which power is not only his ability to do it, but also his right to do it. Hence this delivering of all things unto him by his Father, he lays as the bottom of his inviting sinners unto him for refreshment: “All things are delivered unto me of my Father,” Matt. xi. 27. “Come unto me, all that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” verse 28. This being the covenant of the Father with him, and his promise unto him, that upon the making “his soul an offering for sin, he should see his seed, and the pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hand,” Isa. liii. 10, in the verses following, the “pouring out of his soul unto death, and bearing the sins of many,” is laid as the bottom and procuring cause of these things:— 1. Of justification: “By his knowledge he shall justify many.” 2. Of sanctification; in “destroying the works of the devil,” verses 11, 12. Thus comes our merciful high priest to be the great possessor of all grace, that he may give out to us according to his own pleasure, quickening whom he will. He hath it in him really as our head, in that he received not that Spirit by measure (John iii. 34) which is the bond of union between him and us, 1 Cor. vi. 17; whereby holding him, the head, we are filled with his fulness, Eph. i. 22, 23; Col. i. 19. He hath it as a common person, intrusted with it in our behalf, Rom. v. 14–17. “The last Adam is made” unto us “a quickening Spirit,” 1 Cor. xv. 45. He is also a treasury of this grace in a moral and law sense: not only as “it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,” Col. i. 19; but also because in his mediation, as hath been declared, is founded the whole dispensation of grace.

(2dly.) Being thus actually vested with this power, and privilege, and fulness, he designs the Spirit to take of this fulness, and to give it unto us: “He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you,” John xvi. 15. The Spirit takes of that fulness that is in Christ, and in the name of the Lord Jesus bestows it actually on them for whose sanctification he is sent. Concerning the manner and almighty efficacy of the Spirit of grace whereby this is done (I mean this actual collation of grace upon his peculiar ones), more will be spoken afterward.

(3dly.) For actual grace, or that influence or power whereby the saints are enabled to perform particular duties according to the mind of God, there is not any need of farther enlargement about it. What concerns our communion with the Lord Christ therein, holds proportion with what was spoken before.

There remaineth only one thing more to be observed concerning those things whereof mention hath been made, and I proceed to the way whereby we carry on communion with the Lord Jesus in all these; and that is, that these things may be considered two ways:— 1. In respect of their first collation, or bestowing on the soul. 2. In respect of their continuance and increase, as unto the degrees of them.

In the first sense, as to the real communicating of the Spirit of grace unto the soul, so raising it from death unto life, the saints have no kind of communion with Christ therein but only what consists in a passive reception of that life-giving, quickening Spirit and power. They are but as the dead bones in the prophet; the wind blows on them, and they live; — as Lazarus in the grave; Christ calls, and they come forth, the call being accompanied with life and power. This, then, is not that whereof particularly I speak; but it is the second, in respect of farther efficacy of the Spirit and increase of grace, both habitual and actual, whereby we become more holy, and to be more powerful in walking with God, — have more fruit in obedience and success against temptations. And in this, —

2. They hold communion with the Lord Christ. And wherein and how they do it, shall now be declared.

They continually eye the Lord Jesus as the great Joseph, that hath the disposal of all the granaries of the kingdom of heaven committed unto him; as one in whom it hath pleased the Father to gather all things unto a head, Eph. i. 10, that from him all things might be dispensed unto them. All treasures, all fulness, the Spirit not by measure, are in him. And this fulness in this Joseph, in reference to their condition, they eye in these three particulars:—

(1.) In the preparation unto the dispensation mentioned, in the expiating, purging, purifying efficacy of his blood. It was a sacrifice not only of atonement, as offered, but also of purification, as poured out. This the apostle eminently sets forth, Heb. ix. 13, 14, “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” This blood of his is that which answers all typical institutions for carnal purification; and therefore hath a spiritually-purifying, cleansing, sanctifying virtue in itself, as offered and poured out. Hence it is called, “A fountain for sin and for uncleanness,” Zech. xiii. 1; that is, for their washing and taking away; — “A fountain opened;” ready prepared, virtuous, efficacious in itself, before any be put into it; because poured out, instituted, appointed to that purpose. The saints see that in themselves they are still exceedingly defiled; and, indeed, to have a sight of the defilements of sin is a more spiritual discovery than to have only a sense of the guilt of sin. This follows every conviction, and is commensurate unto it; that, usually only such as reveal the purity and holiness of God and all his ways. Hereupon they cry with shame, within themselves, “Unclean, unclean,” — unclean in their natures, unclean in their persons, unclean in their conversations; all rolled in the 345blood of their defilements; their hearts by nature a very sink, and their lives a dung hill. They know, also, that no unclean thing shall enter into the kingdom of God, or have place in the new Jerusalem; that God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. They cannot endure to look on themselves; and how shall they dare to appear in his presence? What remedies shall they now use? “Though they wash themselves with nitre, and take them much soap, yet their iniquity will continue marked,” Jer. ii. 22. Wherewith, then, shall they come before the Lord? For the removal of this, I say, they look, in the first place, to the purifying virtue of the blood of Christ, which is able to cleanse them from all their sins, 1 John i. 7; being the spring from whence floweth all the purifying virtue, which in the issue will take away all their spots and stains, “make them holy and without blemish, and in the end present them glorious unto himself,” Eph. v. 26, 27. This they dwell upon with thoughts of faith; they roll it in their minds and spirits. Here faith obtains new life, new vigour, when a sense of vileness hath even overwhelmed it. Here is a fountain opened: draw nigh, and see its beauty, purity, and efficacy. Here is a foundation laid of that work whose accomplishment we long for. One moment’s communion with Christ by faith herein is more effectual to the purging of the soul, to the increasing of grace, than the utmost self-endeavours of a thousand ages.

(2.) They eye the blood of Christ as the blood of sprinkling. Coming to “Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant,” they come to the 346“blood of sprinkling,” Heb. xii. 24. The eyeing of the blood of Christ as shed will not of itself take away pollution. There is not only αἱματεκχυσία, — a “shedding of blood,” without which there is no remission, Heb. ix. 22; but there is also αἵματος ῥαντισμός, — a “sprinkling of blood,” without which there is no actual purification. This the apostle largely describes, Heb. ix. 19, “When Moses,” saith he, “had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled likewise with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these,” verses 19–23. He had formerly compared the blood of Christ to the blood of sacrifices, as offered, in respect of the impetration and the purchase it made; now he doth it unto that blood as sprinkled, in respect of its application unto purification and holiness. And he tells us how this sprinkling was performed: it was by dipping hyssop in the blood of the sacrifice, and so dashing it out upon the things and persons to be purified; as the institution also was with the paschal lamb, Exod. xii. 7. Hence, David, in a sense of the pollution of sin, prays that he may be “purged with hyssop,” Ps. li. 7. For that this peculiarly respected the uncleanness and defilement of sin, is evident, because there is no mention made, in the institution of any sacrifice (after that of the lamb before mentioned), of sprinkling blood with hyssop, but only in those which respected purification of uncleanness; as in the case of leprosy, Lev. xiv. 6; and all other defilements, Numb. xix. 18: which latter, indeed, is not of blood, but of the water of separation; this also being eminently typical of the blood of Christ, which is the fountain for separation for uncleanness, Zech. xiii. 1. Now, this bunch of hyssop, wherein the blood of purification was prepared for the sprinkling of the unclean, is (unto us) the free promises of Christ. The cleansing virtue of the blood of Christ lies in the promises, as the blood of sacrifices in the hyssop, ready to pass out unto them that draw nigh thereunto. Therefore the apostle argueth from receiving of the promise unto universal holiness and purity: “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God,” 2 Cor. vii. 1. This, then, the saints do:— they eye the blood of Christ as it is in the promise, ready to issue out upon the soul, for the purification thereof; and thence is purging and cleansing virtue to be communicated unto them, and by the blood of Christ are they to be purged from all their sins, 1 John i. 7. Thus far, as it were, this purifying blood, thus prepared and made ready, is at some distance to the soul. Though it be shed to this purpose, that it might purge, cleanse, and sanctify, though it be taken up with the bunch of hyssop in the promises, yet the soul may not partake of it. Wherefore, —

(3.) They look upon him as, in his own Spirit, he is the only dispenser of the Spirit and of all grace of sanctification and holiness. They consider that upon his intercession it is granted to him that he shall make effectual all the fruits of his purchase, to the sanctification, the purifying and making glorious in holiness, of his whole people. They know that this is actually to be accomplished by the Spirit, according to the innumerable promises given to that purpose. He is to sprinkle that blood upon their souls; he is to create the holiness in them that they long after; he is to be himself in them a well of water springing up to everlasting life. In this state they look to Jesus: here faith fixes itself, in expectation of his giving out the Spirit for all these ends and purposes; mixing the promises with faith, and so becoming actual partaker of all this grace. This is their way, this their communion with Christ; this is the life of faith, as to grace and holiness. Blessed is the soul that is exercised therein: “He shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit,” Jer. xvii. 8. Convinced persons who know not Christ, nor the fellowship of his sufferings, would spin a holiness out of their own bowels; they would work it out in their own strength. They begin it with347 trying endeavours; and follow it with vows, duties, resolutions, engagements, sweating at it all the day long. Thus they continue for a season, — their hypocrisy, for the most part, ending in apostasy. The saints of God do, in the very entrance of their walking with him, reckon upon it that they have a threefold want:— [1.] Of the Spirit of holiness to dwell in them. [2.] Of a habit of holiness to be infused into them. [3.] Of actual assistance to work all their works for them; and that if these should continue to be wanting, they can never, with all their might, power, and endeavours, perform any one act of holiness before the Lord. They know that of themselves they have no sufficiency, — that348 without Christ they can do nothing: therefore they look to him, who is intrusted with a fulness of all these in their behalf; and thereupon by faith derive from him an increase of that whereof they stand in need. Thus, I say, have the saints communion with Christ, as to their sanctification and holiness. From him do they receive the Spirit to dwell in them; from him the new principle of life, which is the root of all their obedience; from him have they actual assistance for every duty they are called unto. In waiting for, expectation and receiving of these blessings, on the accounts before mentioned, do they spend their lives and time with him. In vain is help looked for from other mountains; in vain do men spend their strength in following after righteousness, if this be wanting. Fix thy soul here; thou shalt not tarry until thou be ashamed. This is the way, the only way, to obtain full, effectual manifestations of the Spirit’s dwelling in us; to have our hearts purified, our consciences purged, our sins mortified, our graces increased, our souls made humble, holy, zealous, believing, — like to him; to have our lives fruitful, our deaths comfortable. Let us herein abide, eyeing Christ by faith, to attain that measure of conformity to him which is allotted unto us in this world, that when we shall see him as he is, we may be like unto him.

——————————————————————————
324 Ps. ii. 8; Isa. liii. 12; Ps. xl. 8–12.
325 Gen. iii. 15; Isa. xlii. 6, xlix. 8; Dan. ix. 24.
326 John xi. 42.
327 “Vicariam navere operam.” — Tertull., Prov. i. 23.
328 Tit. iii. 5, 6.
329 Saints’ Perseverance, chap. viii. vol. xi.
330 Gal. v. 17.
331 2 Cor. v. 17.
332 2 Cor. v. 17; Ezek. xi. 19, xviii. 31, xxxvi. 26; Gal. vi. 15; Eph. ii. 15, iv. 14; Col. iii. 10; 1 Pet. ii. 2; John iii. 6.
333 Col. iii. 3, 4; Eph. ii. 1, 5; Rom. viii. 11; John v. 21, vi. 63.
334 Ps. li. 10; Eph. ii. 10, iv. 24; Col. iii. 10; 2 Cor. v. 17.
335 2 Cor. iii. 5, iv. 6; Acts. v. 31; Luke i. 79; John iv. 14, iii. 27; 1 Cor. ii. 12; Eph. iv. 7; Phil. i. 29.
336 Acts xxvi. 18; Eph. v. 8; 2 Cor. v. 17; John v. 24.
337 1 Cor. ii. 12; Eph. i. 18; 2 Cor. iii. 18, iv. 6.
338 Intended is here used in a sense now obsolete, — stretched, increased. — Ed.
339 2 Cor. iii. 5; Ps. cxix. 36; Phil. ii. 13.
340 Cant. v. 2; Rev. ii. 5, iii. 2, 3, 17, 19; Hos. xiv. 4; Ps. li., etc.
341 Ὑπὲρ Χριστοῦ.
342 1 John ii. 1, 2.
343 Rom. viii. 32.
344 Eph. v. 25–27; Tit. ii. 14; Rom. vi. 4.
345 Ezek. xvi. 4, 6, etc; John iii. 3, 5; Πᾶν κοινοῦν, Rev. xxi. 27; Hab. i. 13.
346 Αἷμα ῥαντισμοῦ.
347 Rom. x. 1–4.
348 John xv. 5.

Chapter 10.

Of communion with Christ in privileges — Of adoption; the nature of it, the consequences of it — Peculiar privileges attending it; liberty, title, boldness, affliction — Communion with Christ hereby.

III. The third thing wherein we have communion with Christ, is grace of privilege before God; I mean, as the third head of purchased grace. The privileges we enjoy by Christ are great and innumerable; to insist on them in particular were work for a man’s whole life, not a design to be wrapped up in a few sheets. I shall take a view of them only in the head, the spring and fountain whence they all arise and flow, — this is our adoption: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God,” 1 John iii. 2. This is our great and fountain privilege. Whence is it that we are so? It is from the love of the Father. Verse 1, “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God!” But by whom immediately do we receive this honour? As many as believe on Christ, he gives them this power, to become the sons of God, John i. 12. Himself was appointed to be the first-born among many brethren, Rom. viii. 29; and his taking us to be brethren, Heb. ii. 11, makes us become the children of God. Now, that God is our Father, by being the Father of Christ, and we his children by being the brethren of Christ, being the head and sum of all the honour, privilege, right, and title we have, let us a little consider the nature of that act whereby we are invested with this state and title, — namely, our adoption.

Now, adoption is the authoritative translation of a believer, by Jesus Christ, from the family of the world and Satan into the family of God, with his investiture in all the privileges and advantages of that family.

To the complete adoption of any person, these five things are required:—

1. That he be actually, and of his own right, of another family than that whereinto he is adopted. He must be the son of one family or other, in his own right, as all persons are.

2. That there be a family unto which of himself he hath no right, whereinto he is to be grafted. If a man comes into a family upon a personal right, though originally at never so great a distance, that man is not adopted. If a man of a most remote consanguinity do come into the inheritance of any family by the death of the nearer heirs, though his right before were little better than nothing, yet he is a born son of that family, — he is not adopted. [In adoption] he is not to have the plea of the most remote possibility of succession.

3. That there be an authoritative, legal translation of him, by some that have power thereinto, from one family into another. It was not, by the law of old, in the power of particular persons to adopt when and whom they would. It was to be done by the authority of the sovereign power.

4. That the adopted person be freed from all the obligations that be upon him unto the family from whence he is translated; otherwise he can be no way useful or serviceable unto the family whereinto he is ingrafted. He cannot serve two masters, much less two fathers.

5. That, by virtue of his adoption, he be invested in all the rights, privileges, advantages, and title to the whole inheritance, of the family into which he is adopted, in as full and ample manner as if he had been born a son therein.

Now, all these things and circumstances do concur and are found in the adoption of believers:—

1. They are, by their own original right, of another family than that whereinto they are adopted. They are “by nature the children of wrath,” Eph. ii. 3, — sons of wrath, — of that family whose inheritance is “wrath,” — called “the power of darkness,” Col. i. 13; for from thence doth God “translate them into the kingdom of his dear Son.” This is the family of the world and of Satan, of which by nature believers are. Whatever is to be inherited in that family, — as wrath, curse, death, hell, — they have a right thereunto. Neither can they of themselves, or by themselves, get free of this family: a strong man armed keeps them in subjection. Their natural estate is a family condition, attended with all the circumstances of a family, — family duties and services, rights and titles, relations and observances. They are of the black family of sin and Satan.

2. There is another family whereinto they are to be translated, and whereunto of themselves they have neither right nor title. This is that family in heaven and earth which is called after the name of Christ, Eph. iii. 15, — the great family of God. God hath a349 house and family for his children; of whom some he maintains on the riches of his grace, and some he entertains with the fulness of his glory. This is that house whereof the Lord Christ is the great dispenser, it having pleased the Father to “gather together in one all things in him, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him,” Eph. i. 10. Herein live all the sons and daughters of God, spending largely on the riches of his grace. Unto this family of themselves they have no right nor title; they are wholly alienated from it, Eph. ii. 12, and can lay no claim to any thing in it. God driving fallen Adam out of the garden, and shutting up all ways of return with a flaming sword, ready to cut him off if he should attempt it, abundantly declares that he, and all in him, had lost all right of approaching unto God in any family relation. Corrupted, cursed nature is not vested with the least right to any thing of God. Therefore, —

3. They have an authoritative translation from one of these families to another. It is not done in a private, underhand way, but in the way of authority. John i. 12, “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God,” — power or authority. This investing them with the power, excellency, and right of the sons of God, is a forensical act, and hath a legal proceeding in it. It is called the “making us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light,” Col. i. 12; — a judicial exalting us into membership in that family, where God is the Father, Christ the350 elder brother, all saints and angels brethren and fellow-children, and the inheritance a crown immortal and incorruptible, that fades not away.

Now, this authoritative translation of believers from one family into another consisteth of these two parts:—

(1.) An effectual proclamation and declaration of such a person’s immunity from all obligations to the former family, to which by nature he was related. And this declaration hath a threefold object:—

[1.] Angels. It is declared unto them; they are the351 sons of God. They are the sons of God, and so of the family whereinto the adopted person is to be admitted; and therefore it concerns them to know who are invested with the rights of that family, that they may discharge their duty towards them. Unto them, then, it is declared that believers are freed from the family of sin and hell, to become fellow-sons and servants with them. And this is done two ways:—

1st. Generally, by the doctrine of the gospel. Eph. iii. 10, “Unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places is made known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.”

By the church is this wisdom made known to the angels, either as the doctrine of the gospel is delivered unto it, or as it is gathered thereby. And what is this wisdom of God that is thus made known to principalities and powers? It is, that “the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and of the same body with us,” verse 6. The mystery of adopting sinners of the Gentiles, taking them from their slavery in the family of the world, that they might have a right of heirship, becoming sons in the family of God, is this wisdom, thus made known. And how was it primitively made known? It was “revealed by the Spirit unto the prophets and apostles,” verse 5.

2dly. In particular, by immediate revelation. When any particular soul is freed from the family of this world, it is revealed to the angels. “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God” (that is, among the angels, and by them) “over one sinner that repenteth,” Luke xv. 10. Now, the angels cannot of themselves absolutely know the true repentance of a sinner in itself; it is a work wrought in that cabinet which none hath a key unto but Jesus Christ; by him it is revealed to the angels, when the peculiar care and charge of such a one is committed to them. These things have their transaction before the angels, Luke xii. 8, 9. Christ owns the names of his brethren before the angels, Rev. iii. 5. When he gives them admittance into the family where they are, Heb. xii. 22, he declares to them that they are sons, that they may discharge their duty towards them, Heb. i. 14.

[2.] It is denounced in a judicial way unto Satan, the great master of the family whereunto they were in subjection. When the Lord Christ delivers a soul from under the power of that strong armed one, he binds him, — ties him from the exercise of that power and dominion which before he had over him. And by this means doth he know that such a one is delivered from his family; and all his future attempts upon him are encroaching upon the possession and inheritance of the Lord Christ.

[3.] Unto the conscience of the person adopted. The Spirit of Christ testifies to the heart and conscience of a believer that he is freed from all engagements unto the family of Satan, and is become the son of God, Rom. viii. 14, 15; and enables him to cry, “Abba, Father,” Gal. iv. 6. Of the particulars of this testification of the Spirit, and of its absolving the soul from its old alliance, I shall speak afterward. And herein consists the first thing mentioned.

(2.) There is an authoritative ingrafting of a believer actually into the family of God, and investing him with the whole right of sonship. Now this, as unto us, hath sundry acts:—

[1.] The giving a believer a new name in a white stone, Rev. ii. 17. They that are adopted are to take new names; they change their names they had in their old families, to take the names of the families whereinto they are translated. This new name is, “A child of God.” That is the new name given in adoption; and no man knoweth what is in that name, but only he that doth receive it. And this new name is given and written in a white stone; — that is the tessera of our admission into the house of God. It is a stone of judicial acquitment. Our adoption by the Spirit is bottomed on our absolution in the blood of Jesus; and therefore is the new name in the white stone privilege grounded on discharge. The white stone quits the claim of the old family; the new name gives entrance to the other.

[2.] An enrolling of his name in the catalogue of the household of God, admitting him thereby into fellowship therein. This is called the “writing of the house of Israel,” Ezek. xiii. 9; that is, the roll wherein all the names of the Israel, the family of God, are written. God hath a catalogue of his household; Christ knows his sheep by name. When God writeth up the people, he counts that “this man was born in Zion,” Ps. lxxxvii. 6. This is an extract of the Lamb’s book of life.

[3.] Testifying to his conscience his acceptation with God, enabling him to behave himself as a child, Rom. viii. 15; Gal. iv. 5, 6.

4. The two last things required to adoption are, that the adopted person be freed from all obligations to the family from whence he is translated, and invested with the rights and privileges of that whereinto he is translated. Now, because these two comprise the whole issue of adoption, wherein the saints have communion with Christ, I shall handle them together, referring the concernments of them unto these four heads:— (1.) Liberty. (2.) Title, or right. (3.) Boldness. (4.) Correction. These are the four things, in reference to the family of the adopted person, that he doth receive by his adoption, wherein he holds communion with the Lord Jesus:—

(1.) Liberty. The Spirit of the Lord, that was upon the Lord Jesus, did anoint him to proclaim liberty to the captives, Isa. lxi. 1; and “where the Spirit of the Lord is” (that is, the Spirit of Christ, given to us by him because we are sons), “there is liberty,” 2 Cor. iii. 17. All spiritual liberty is from the Spirit of adoption; whatever else is pretended, is licentiousness. So the apostle argues, Gal. iv. 6, 7, “He hath sent forth his Spirit into their hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore ye are no more servants,” — no more in bondage, but have the liberty of sons. And this liberty respects, —

[1.] In the first place, the family from whence the adopted person is translated. It is his setting free from all the obligations of that family. Now, in this sense, the liberty which the saints have by adoption is either from that which is real or that which is pretended:—

1st. That which is real respects a twofold issue of law and sin. The moral, unchangeable law of God, and sin, being in conjunction, meeting with reference to any persons, hath, and hath had, a twofold issue:—

(1st.) An economical institution of a new law of ordinances, keeping in bondage those to whom it was given, Col. ii. 14.

(2dly.) A natural (if I may so call it) pressing of those persons with its power and efficacy against sin; whereof there are these parts:—

[1st.] Its rigour and terror in commanding.

[2dly.] Its impossibility for accomplishment, and so insufficiency for its primitively appointed end.

[3dly.] The issues of its transgression; which are referred unto two heads:— 1. Curse. 2. Death. I shall speak very briefly of these, because they are commonly handled, and granted by all.

2dly. That which is pretended, is the power of any whatever over the conscience, when once made free by Christ:—

(1st.) Believers are freed from the instituted law of ordinances, which, upon the testimony of the apostles, was a yoke which neither we nor our fathers (in the faith) could bear, Acts xv. 10; wherefore Christ “blotted out this hand-writing of ordinances that was against them, which was contrary to them, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross,” Col. ii. 14: and thereupon the apostle, after a long dispute concerning the liberty that we have from that law, concludes with this instruction: Gal. v. 1, “Stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free.”

(2dly.) In reference so the moral law:—

[1st.] The first thing we have liberty from, is its rigour and terror in commanding. Heb. xii. 18–22, “We are not come to the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, to the whirlwind, darkness, and tempest, to the sound of the trumpet, and the voice of words, which they that heard besought that they might hear it no more; but we are come to mount Sion,” etc. As to that administration of the law wherein it was given out with dread and terror, and so exacted its obedience with rigour, we are freed from it, we are not called to that estate.

[2dly.] Its impossibility of accomplishment, and so insufficiency for its primitive end, by reason of sin; or, we are freed from the law as the instrument of righteousness, since, by the impossibility of its fulfilling as to us, it is become insufficient for any such purpose, Rom. viii. 2, 3; Gal. iii. 21–23. There being an impossibility of obtaining life by the law, we are exempted from it as to any such end, and that by the righteousness of Christ, Rom. viii. 3.

[3dly.] From the issue of its transgression:—

First. Curse. There is a solemn curse inwrapping the whole wrath annexed to the law, with reference to the transgression thereof; and from this are we wholly at liberty. Gal. iii. 13, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us.”

Secondly. Death, Heb. ii. 15; and therewith from Satan, Heb. ii. 14, Col. i. 13; and sin, Rom. vi. 14, 1 Pet. i. 18; with the world, Gal. i. 4; with all the attendancies, advantages, and claims of them all, Gal. iv. 3–5, Col. ii. 20; without which we could not live one day.

That which is pretended and claimed by some (wherein in deed and in truth we were never in bondage, but are hereby eminently set free), is the power of binding conscience by any laws and constitutions not from God, Col. ii. 20–22.

[2.] [In the second place,] there is a liberty in the family of God, as well as a liberty from the family of Satan. Sons are free. Their obedience is a free obedience; they have the Spirit of the Lord: and where he is, there is liberty, 2 Cor. iii. 17. As a Spirit of adoption, he is opposed to the spirit of bondage, Rom. viii. 15. Now, this liberty of our Father’s family, which we have as sons and children, being adopted by Christ through the Spirit, is a spiritual largeness of heart, whereby the children of God do freely, willingly, genuinely, without fear, terror, bondage, and constraint, go forth unto all holy obedience in Christ.

I say, this is our liberty in our Father’s family: what we have liberty from, hath been already declared.

There are Gibeonites outwardly attending the family of God, that do the service of his house as the drudgery of their lives. The principle they yield obedience upon, is a spirit of bondage unto fear, Rom. viii. 15; the rule they do it by, is the law in its dread and rigour, exacting it of them to the utmost, without mercy and mitigation; the end they do it for, is to fly from the wrath to come, to pacify conscience, and seek righteousness as it were by the works of the law. Thus servilely, painfully, fruitlessly, they seek to serve their own conviction all their days.

The saints by adoption have a largeness of heart in all holy obedience. Saith David, “I will walk at liberty, for I seek thy precepts,” Ps. cxix. 45; Isa. lxi. 1; Luke iv. 18; Rom. viii. 2, 21; Gal. iv. 7, v. 1, 13; James i. 25; John viii. 32, 33, 36; Rom. vi. 18; 1 Pet. ii. 16. Now, this amplitude, or son-like freedom of the Spirit in obedience, consists in sundry things:—

1st. In the principles of all spiritual service; which are life and love; — the one respecting the matter of their obedience, giving them power; the other respecting the manner of their obedience, giving them joy and sweetness in it:—

(1st.) It is from life; that gives them power as to the matter of obedience. Rom. viii. 2, “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus sets them free from the law of sin and death.” It frees them, it carries them out to all obedience freely; so that “they walk after the Spirit,” verse 1, that being the principle of their workings. Gal. ii. 20, “Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God;” — “The life which I now live in the flesh (that is, the obedience which I yield unto God whilst I am in the flesh), it is from a principle of life, Christ living in me. There is, then, power for all living unto God, from Christ in them, the Spirit of life from Christ carrying them out thereto. The fruits of a dead root are but dead excrescences; living acts are from a principle of life.

Hence you may see the difference between the liberty that slaves assume, and the liberty which is due to children:—

[1st.] Slaves take liberty from duty; children have liberty in duty. There is not a greater mistake in the world, than that the liberty of sons in the house of God consists in this, — they can perform duties, or take the freedom to omit them; they can serve in the family of God (that is, they think they may if they will), and they can choose whether they will or no. This is a liberty stolen by slaves, not a liberty given by the Spirit unto sons.

The liberty of sons is in the inward spiritual freedom of their hearts, naturally and kindly going out in all the ways and worship of God. When they find themselves straitened and shut up in them, they wrestle with God for enlargement, and are never contented with the doing of a duty, unless it be done as in Christ, with free, genuine, and enlarged hearts. The liberty that servants have is from duty; the liberty given to sons is in duty.

[2dly.] The liberty of slaves or servants is from mistaken, deceiving conclusions; the liberty of sons is from the power of the indwelling Spirit of grace. Or, the liberty of servants is from outward, dead conclusions; the liberty of sons, from an inward, living principle.

(2dly.) Love, as to the manner of their obedience, gives them delight and joy. John xiv. 15, “If ye love me,” says Christ, “keep my commandments.” Love is the bottom of all their duties; hence our Saviour resolves all obedience into the love of God and our neighbour; and Paul, upon the same ground, tells us “that love is the fulfilling of the law,” Rom. xiii. 10. Where love is in any duty, it is complete in Christ. How often doth David, even with admiration, express this principle of his walking with God! “O,” saith he, “how I love thy commandments! “This gives saints delight, that the commandments of Christ are not grievous to them. Jacob’s hard service was not grievous to him, because of his love to Rachel. No duty of a saint is grievous to him, because of his love to Christ. They do from hence all things with delight and complacency. Hence do they long for advantages of walking with God, — pant after more ability; and this is a great share of their son-like freedom in obedience. It gives them joy in it. 1 John iv. 18, “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.” When their soul is acted to obedience by love, it expels that fear which is the issue of bondage upon the spirit. Now, when there is a concurrence of these two (life and love), there is freedom, liberty, largeness of heart, exceedingly distanced from that strait and bondaged frame which many walk in all their days, that know not the adoption of sons.

2dly. The object of their obedience is represented to them as desirable, whereas to others it is terrible. In all their approaches to God, they eye him as a Father; they call him Father, Gal. iv. 6, not in the form of words, but in the spirit of sons. God in Christ is continually before them; not only as one deserving all the honours and obedience which he requires, but also as one exceedingly to be delighted in, as being all-sufficient to satisfy and satiate all the desires of the soul. When others napkin their talents, as having to deal with an austere master, they draw out their strength to the uttermost, as drawing nigh to a gracious rewarder. They go, from the principle of life and love, to the bosom of a living and loving Father; they do but return the strength they do receive unto the fountain, unto the ocean.

3dly. Their motive unto obedience is love, 2 Cor. v. 14. From an apprehension of love, they are effectually carried out by love to give up themselves unto him who is love. What a freedom is this! what a largeness of spirit is in them who walk according to this rule! Darkness, fear, bondage, conviction, hopes of righteousness, accompany others in their ways; the sons, by the Spirit of adoption, have light, love, with complacency, in all their walkings with God. The world is a universal stranger unto the frame of children in their Father’s house.

4thly. The manner of their obedience is willingness. “They yield themselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead,” Rom. vi. 13; they yield themselves, — give up themselves willingly, cheerfully, freely. “With my whole heart,” saith David. Rom. xii. 1, “They present themselves a living sacrifice,” and a willing sacrifice.

5thly. The rule of their walking with God is the law of liberty, as divested of all its terrifying, threatening, killing, condemning, cursing power; and rendered, in the blood of Jesus, sweet, tender, useful, directing, — helpful as a rule of walking in the life they have received, not the way of working for the life they have not. I might give more instances. These may suffice to manifest that liberty of obedience in the family of God which his sons and daughters have, that the poor convinced Gibeonites are not acquainted withal.

(2.) The second thing which the children of God have by adoption is title. They have title and right to all the privileges and advantages of the family whereinto they are translated. This is the pre-eminence of the true sons of any family. The ground on which Sarah pleaded the ejection of Ishmael was, that he was the son of the bond woman, Gen. xxi. 10, and so no genuine child of the family; and therefore could have no right of heirship with Isaac. The apostle’s arguing is, “We are no more servants, but sons; and if sons, then heirs,” Rom. viii. 14–17, — “then have we right and title: and being not born hereunto (for by nature we are the children of wrath), we have this right by our adoption.”

Now, the saints hereby have a double right and title: 1st. Proper and direct, in respect of spirituals. 2dly. Consequential, in respect of temporals:—

[1.] The first, also, or the title, as adopted sons, unto spirituals, is, in respect of the object of it, twofold:— (1st.) Unto a present place, name, and room, in the house of God, and all the privileges and administrations thereof. (2dly.) To a future fulness of the great inheritance of glory, — of a kingdom purchased for that whole family whereof they are by Jesus Christ:—

1st. They have a title unto, and an interest in, the whole administration of the family of God here.

The supreme administration of the house of God in the hand of the Lord Christ, as to the institution of ordinances and dispensation of the Spirit, to enliven and make effectual those ordinances for the end of their institution, is the prime notion of this administration. And hereof they are the prime objects; all this is for them, and exercised towards them. God hath given Jesus Christ to be the “head over all things unto the church, which is his body,” Eph. i. 22, 23: he hath made him the head over all these spiritual things, committed the authoritative administration of them all unto him, to the use and behoof of the church; that is, the family of God. It is for the benefit and advantage of the many sons whom he will bring unto glory that he doth all these things, Heb. ii. 10; see Eph. iv. 8–13. The aim of the Lord Jesus in establishing gospel administrations, and administrators, is “for the perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry,” etc. All is for then, all is for the family. In that is the faithfulness of Christ exercised; he is faithful in all the house of God, Heb. iii. 2. Hence the apostle tells the Corinthians, 1 Cor. iii. 22, 23, of all these gospel administrations and ordinances, they are all theirs, and all for them. What benefit soever redoundeth to the world by the things of the gospel (as much doth every way), it is engaged for it to the children of this family. This, then, is the aim and intendment of the Lord Christ in the institution of all gospel ordinances and administrations, — that they may be of use for the house and family of God, and all his children and servants therein.

It is true, the word is preached to all the world, to gather in the children of God’s purpose that are scattered up and down in the world, and to leave the rest inexcusable; but the prime end and aim of the Lord Christ thereby is, to gather in those heirs of salvation unto the enjoyment of that feast of fat things which he hath prepared for them in his house.

Again: they, and they only, have right and title to gospel administrations, and the privileges of the family of God, as they are held out in his church according to his mind. The church is the “house of God,” 1 Tim. iii. 15; Heb. iii. 6; herein he keeps and maintains his whole family, ordering them according to his mind and will. Now, who shall have any right in the house of God, but only his children? We will not allow a right to any but our own children in our houses: will God, think you, allow any right in his house but to his children? Is it meet, to “take the children’s bread and cast it unto the dogs?” We shall see that none but children have any right or title to the privileges and advantages of the house of God, if we consider, —

(1st.) The nature of that house. It is made up of such persons as it is impossible that any but adopted children should have right unto a place in it. It is composed of “living stones,” 1 Pet. ii. 5; — a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people,” verse 9; — “saints and faithful in Christ Jesus,” Eph. i. 1; — “saints and faithful brethren,” Col. i. 2; — a people that are “all righteous,” Isa. lx. 21; and the whole fabric of it is glorious, chap. liv. 11–14, — the way of the house is “a way of holiness,” which the unclean shall not pass through, chap. xxxv. 8; yea, expressly, they are the “sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty,” and they only, 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18; all others are excluded, Rev. xxi. 27. It is true that oftentimes, at unawares, other persons creep into the great house of God; and so there become in it “not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth,” etc., 2 Tim. ii. 20; but they only creep in, as Jude speaks, verse 4, they have no right nor title to it.

(2dly.) The privileges of the house are such as they will not suit nor profit any other. To what purpose is it to give food to a dead man? Will he grow strong by it? will he increase upon it? The things of the family and house of God are food for living souls. Now, children only are alive, all others are dead in trespasses and sins. What will outward signs avail, if life and power be away? Look upon what particular you please of the saints’ enjoyments in the family of God, you shall find them all suited unto believers; and, being bestowed on the world, [they] would be a pearl in the snout of a swine.

It is, then, only the sons of the family that have this right; they have fellowship with one another, and that fellowship with the Father and the Son Jesus Christ; they set forth the Lord’s death till he come; they are intrusted with all the ordinances of the house, and the administration of them. And who shall deny them the enjoyment of this right, or keep them from what Christ hath purchased for them? And the Lord will in the end give them hearts everywhere to make use of this title accordingly, and not to wander on the mountains, forgetting their resting-place.

2dly. They have a title to the future fulness of the inheritance that is purchased for this whole family by Jesus Christ. So the apostle argues, Rom. viii. 17, “If children, then heirs,” etc. All God’s children are “first-born,” Heb. xii. 23; and therefore are heirs: hence the whole weight of glory that is prepared for them is called the inheritance, Col. i. 12, “The inheritance of the saints in light.” “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise,” Gal. iii. 29. Heirs of the promise; that is, of all things promised unto Abraham in and with Christ.

There are three things that in this regard the children of God are said to be heirs unto:—

(1st.) The promise; as in that place of Gal. iii. 29 and Heb. vi. 17. God shows to “the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel;” as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are said to be “heirs of the same promise,” Heb. xi. 9. God had from the foundation of the world made a most excellent promise in Christ, containing a deliverance from all evil, and an engagement for the bestowing of all good things upon them. It contains a deliverance from all the evil which the guilt of sin and dominion of Satan had brought upon them, with an investiture of them in all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ Jesus. Hence, Heb. ix. 15, the Holy Ghost calls it a “promise of the eternal inheritance.” This, in the first place, are the adopted children of God heirs unto. Look, whatever is in the promise which God made at the beginning to fallen man, and hath since solemnly renewed and confirmed by his oath; they are heirs of it, and are accepted in their claim for their inheritance in the courts of heaven.

(2dly.) They are heirs of righteousness, Heb. xi. 7. Noah was an heir of the righteousness which is by faith; which Peter calls a being “heir of the grace of life,” 1 Pet. iii. 7. And James puts both these together, chap. ii. 5, “Heirs of the kingdom which God hath promised;” that is, of the kingdom of grace, and the righteousness thereof. And in this respect it is that the apostle tells us, Eph. i. 11, that “we have obtained an inheritance;” which he also places with the righteousness of faith, Acts xxvi. 18. Now, by this righteousness, grace, and inheritance, is not only intended that righteousness which we are here actually made partakers of, but also the end and accomplishment of that righteousness in glory; which is also assured in the next place, —

(3dly.) They are “heirs of salvation,” Heb. i. 14, and “heirs according to the hope of eternal life,” Tit. iii. 7; which Peter calls an “inheritance incorruptible,” 1 Pet. i. 4; and Paul, the “reward of the inheritance,” Col. iii. 24, — that is, the issue of the inheritance of light and holiness, which they already enjoy. Thus, then, distinguish the full salvation by Christ into the foundation of it, the promises; and the means of it, righteousness and holiness; and the end of it, eternal glory. The sons of God have a right and title to all, in that they are made heirs with Christ.

And this is that which is the main of the saints’ title and right, which they have by adoption; which in sum is, that the Lord is their portion and inheritance, and they are the inheritance of the Lord: and a large portion it is that they have; the lines are fallen to them in a goodly place.

[2.] Besides this principal, the adopted sons of God have a second consequential right, — a right unto the things of this world; that is, unto all the portions of it which God is pleased to intrust them here withal. Christ is the “heir of all things,” Heb. i. 2; all right and title to the things of the creation was lost and forfeited by sin. The Lord, by his sovereignty, had made an original grant of all things here below for man’s use; he had appointed the residue of the works of his hands, in their several stations, to be serviceable unto his behoof. Sin reversed this whole grant and institution, — all things were set at liberty from this subjection unto him; yet that liberty, being a taking them off from the end to which they were originally appointed, is a part of their vanity and curse. It is evil to any thing to be laid aside as to the end to which it was primitively appointed. By this means the whole creation is turned loose from any subordinate ruler; and man, having lost the whole title whereby he held his dominion over and possession of the creatures, hath not the least colour of interest in any of them, nor can lay any claim unto them. But now the Lord, intending to take a portion to himself out of the lump of fallen mankind, whom he appointed heirs of salvation, he doth not immediately destroy the works of creation, but reserve them for their use in their pilgrimage. To this end he invests the whole right and title of them in the second Adam, which the first had lost; he appoints him “heir of all things.” And thereupon his adopted ones, being “fellow-heirs with Christ,” become also to have a right and title unto the things of this creation. To clear up this right, what it is, I must give some few observations:—

1st. The right they have is not as the right that Christ hath; that is, sovereign and supreme, to do what he will with his own; but theirs is subordinate, and such as that they must be accountable for the use of those things whereunto they have a right and title. The right of Christ is the right of the Lord of the house; the right of the saints is the right of servants.

2dly. That the whole number of the children of God have a right unto the whole earth, which is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof, in these two regards:—

(1st.) He who is the sovereign Lord of it doth preserve it merely for their use, and upon their account; all others whatever being malæ fidei possessores, invading a portion of the Lord’s territories, without grant or leave from him.

(2dly.) In that Christ hath promised to give them the kingdom and dominion of it, in such a way and manner as in his providence he shall dispose; that is, that the government of the earth shall be exercised to their advantage.

3dly. This right is a spiritual right, which doth not give a civil interest, but only sanctifies the right and interest bestowed. God hath providentially disposed of the civil bounds of the inheritance of men, Acts xvii. 26, suffering the men of the world to enjoy a portion here, and that oftentimes very full and plenteous; and that for his children’s sake, that those beasts of the forest, which are made to be destroyed, may not break loose upon the whole possession. Hence, —

4thly. No one particular adopted person hath any right, by virtue thereof, to any portion of earthly things whereunto he hath not right and title upon a civil interest, given him by the providence of God. But, —

5thly. This they have by their adoption; that, —

(1st.) Look, what portion soever God is pleased to give them, they have a right unto it, as it is re-invested in Christ, and not as it lies wholly under the curse and vanity that is come upon the creation by sin; and therefore can never be called unto an account for usurping that which they have no right unto, as shall all the sons of men who violently grasp those things which God hath set at liberty from under their dominion because of sin.

(2dly.) By this their right, they are led unto a sanctified use of what thereby they do enjoy; inasmuch as the things themselves are to them pledges of the Father’s love, washed in the blood of Christ, and endearments upon their spirits to live to his praise who gives them all things richly to enjoy.

And this is a second thing we have by our adoption; and hence I dare say of unbelievers, they have no true right unto any thing, of what kind soever, that they do possess.

They have no true, unquestionable right, I say, even unto the temporal things they do possess; it is true they have a civil right in respect of others, but they have not a sanctified right in respect of their own souls. They have a right and title that will hold plea in the courts of men, but not a right that will hold in the court of God, and in their own conscience. It will one day be sad with them, when they shall come to give an account of their enjoyments. They shall not only be reckoned withal for the abuse of that they have possessed, that they have not used and laid it out for the glory of him whose it is; but also, that they have even laid their hands upon the creatures of God, and kept them from them for whose sakes alone they are preserved from destruction. When the God of glory shall come home to any of them, either in their consciences here, or in the judgment that is for to come, and speak with the terror of a revengeful judge, “I have suffered you to enjoy corn, wine, and oil, — a great portion of my creatures; you have rolled yourselves in wealth and prosperity, when the right heirs of these things lived poor, and low, and mean, at the next doors; — give in now an answer what and how you have used these things. What have you laid out for the service and advancement of the gospel? What have you given unto them for whom nothing was provided? what contribution have you made for the poor saints? Have you had a ready hand, and willing mind, to lay down all for my sake?” — when they shall be compelled to answer, as the truth is, “Lord, we had, indeed, a large portion in the world; but we took it to be our own, and thought we might have done what we would with our own. We have ate the fat, and drank the sweet, and left the rest of our substance for our babes: we have spent somewhat upon our lusts, somewhat upon our friends; but the truth is, we cannot say that we made friends of this unrighteous mammon, — that we used it to the advancement of the gospel, or for ministering unto thy poor saints: and now, behold, we must die,” etc.:— so also, when the Lord shall proceed farther, and question not only the use of these things, but also their title to them, and tell them, “The earth is mine, and the fulness thereof. I did, indeed, make an original grant of these things to man; but that is lost by sin: I have restored it only for my saints. Why have you laid, then, your fingers of prey upon that which was not yours? why have you compelled my creatures to serve you and your lusts, which I had set loose from under your dominion? Give me my flax, my wine, and wool; I will set you naked as in the day of your birth, and revenge upon you your rapine, and unjust possession of that which was not yours:” — I say, at such a time, what will men do?

(3.)352Boldness with God by Christ is another privilege of our adoption. But hereof I have spoken at large before, in treating of the excellency of Christ in respect of our approach to God by him; so that I shall not re-assume the consideration of it.

(4.) Affliction, also, as proceeding from love, as leading to spiritual advantages, as conforming unto Christ, as sweetened with his presence, is the privilege of children, Heb. xii. 3–6; but on these particulars I must not insist.

This, I say, is the head and source of all the privileges which Christ hath purchased for us, wherein also we have fellowship with him: fellowship in name; we are (as he is) sons of God: fellowship in title and right; we are heirs, co-heirs with Christ: fellowship in likeness and conformity; we are predestinated to be like the first-born of the family: fellowship in honour; he is not ashamed to call us brethren: fellowship in sufferings; he learned obedience by what he suffered, and every son is to be scourged that is received: fellowship in his kingdom; we shall reign with him. Of all which I must speak peculiarly in another place, and so shall not here draw out the discourse concerning them any farther.

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349 Hab. iii. 6.
350 Rom. viii. 29; Heb. ii. 12.
351 Job. i. 6, xxxviii. 7; Heb. xii. 22–24; Rev. xxii. 9.
352 See division, p. 211.

 

Part III.

Of Communion with the Holy Ghost.

Chapter 1.

The foundation of our communion with the Holy Ghost (John xvi. 1–7) opened at large — Παράκλητος, a Comforter; who he is — The Holy Ghost; his own will in his coming to us; sent also by Christ — The Spirit sent as a sanctifier and as a comforter — The adjuncts of his mission considered — The foundation of his mission, John xv. 26 — His procession from the Father twofold; as to personality, or to office — Things considerable in his procession as to office the manner of his collation — He is given freely; sent authoritatively — The sin against the Holy Ghost, whence unpardonable — How we ask the Spirit of the Father — To grieve the Spirit, what — Poured out — How the Holy Ghost is received; by faith — Faith’s actings in receiving the Holy Ghost — His abode with us, how declared — How we may lose our comfort whilst the Comforter abides with us.

The foundation of all our communion with the Holy Ghost consisting in his mission, or sending to be our comforter, by Jesus Christ, the whole matter of that economy or dispensation is firstly to be proposed and considered, that so we may have a right understanding of the truth inquired after. Now, the main promise hereof, and the chief considerations of it, with the good received and evil prevented thereby, being given and declared in the beginning of the 16th chapter of John, I shall take a view of the state of it as there proposed.

Our blessed Saviour being to leave the world, having acquainted his disciples, among other things, what entertainment in general they were like to find in it and meet withal, gives the reason why he now gave them the doleful tidings of it, considering how sad and dispirited they were upon the mention of his departure from them. Verse 1, “These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended.” — “I have,” saith he, “given you an acquaintance with these things (that is, the things which will come upon you, which you are to suffer) beforehand, lest you who, poor souls! have entertained expectations of another state of affairs, should be surprised, so as to be offended at me and my doctrine, and fall away from me. You are now forewarned, and know what you have to look for. Yea,” saith he, verse 2, “having acquainted you in general that you shall be persecuted, I tell you plainly that there shall be a combination of all men against you, and all sorts of men will put forth their power for your ruin.” — “They shall cast you out of the synagogues; yea, the time comes that whosoever killeth you will think that he doth God service.” — “The ecclesiastical power shall excommunicate you, — they shall put you out of their synagogues: and that you may not expect relief from the power of the magistrate against their perversity, they will kill you: and that you may know that they will do it to the purpose, without check or control, they will think that in killing you they do God good service; which will cause them to act rigorously, and to the utmost.”

“But this is a shaking trial,” might they reply: “is our condition such, that men, in killing us, will think to approve their consciences to God?” “Yea, they will,” saith our Saviour; “but yet, that you be not mistaken, nor trouble your consciences about their confidences, know that their blind and desperate ignorance is the cause of their fury and persuasion,” verse 3, “These things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.”

This, then, was to be the state with the disciples. But why did our Saviour tell it them at this season, to add fear and perplexities to their grief and sorrow? what advantage should they obtain thereby? Saith their blessed Master, verse 4, “There are weighty reasons why I should tell you these things; chiefly, that as you may be provided for them, so, when they do befall you, you may be supported with the consideration of my Deity and omniscience, who told you all these things before they came to pass,” verse 4, “But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them.” “But if they be so necessary, whence is it that thou hast not acquainted us with it all this while? why not in the beginning, — at our first calling?” “Even,” saith our Saviour, “because there was no need of any such thing; for whilst I was with you, you had protection and direction at hand.” — “ ‘And these things I said not at the beginning, because I was present with you:’ but now the state of things is altered; I must leave you,” verse 4. “And for your parts, so are you astonished with sorrow, that you do not ask me ‘whither I go;’ the consideration whereof would certainly relieve you, seeing I go to take possession of my glory, and to carry on the work of your salvation: but your hearts are filled with sorrow and fears, and you do not so much as inquire after relief,” verses 5, 6. Whereupon he adjoins that wonderful assertion, verse 7, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”

This verse, then, being the peculiar foundation of what shall afterward be declared, must particularly be considered, as to the words of it and their interpretation; and that both with respect to the preface of them and the asseveration in them, with the reason annexed thereunto.

1. The preface to them:—

(1.) The first word, ἁλλά, is an adversative, not excepting to any thing of what himself had spoken before, but to their apprehension: “I know you have sad thoughts of these things; but yet, nevertheless.”

(2.) Ἐγὼ τὴν ἀλήθειαν λέγω ὑμῖν, “I tell you the truth.” The words are exceedingly emphatical, and denote some great thing to be ushered in by them. First, Ἐγὼ, — “I tell it you, this that shall now be spoken; I who love you, who take care of you, who am now about to lay down my life for you; they are my dying words, that you may believe me; I who am truth itself, I tell you.” And, —

Ἐγὼ τὴν ἀλήθειαν λέγω, — “I tell you the truth.” “You have in your sad, misgiving hearts many misapprehensions of things. You think if I would abide with you, all these evils might be prevented; but, alas! you know not what is good for you, nor what is expedient. ‘I tell you the truth;’ this is truth itself; and quiet your hearts in it.” There is need of a great deal of evidence of truth, to comfort their souls that are dejected and disconsolate under an apprehension of the absence of Christ from them, be the apprehension true or false.

And this is the first part of the words of our Saviour, the preface to what he was to deliver to them, by way of a weighty, convincing asseveration, to disentangle thereby the thoughts of his disciples from prejudice, and to prepare them for the receiving of that great truth which he was to deliver.

2. The assertion itself follows: Συμφέρει ὑμῖν, ἵνα ἐγὼ ἀπέλθω, — It is expedient for you that I go away.”

There are two things in the words:— Christ’s departure; and the usefulness of it to his disciples:—

For his departure, it is known what is intended by it; — the withdrawing his bodily presence from the earth after his resurrection, the “heaven being to receive him, until the times of the restitution of all things,” Acts iii. 21; for in respect of his Deity, and the exercise of love and care towards them, he promised to be with them to the end of the world, Matt. xxviii. 20. Of this saith he, Συμφέρει ὑμῖν, — “It conduceth to your good; it is profitable for you; it is for your advantage; it will answer the end that you aim at.” That is the sense of the word which we have translated “expedient;” — “It is for your profit and advantage.” This, then, is that which our Saviour asserts, and that with the earnestness before mentioned, desiring to convince his sorrowful followers of the truth of it, — namely, that his departure, which they so much feared and were troubled to think of, would turn to their profit and advantage.

3. Now, although it might be expected that they should acquiesce in this asseveration of truth itself, yet because they were generally concerned in the ground of the truth of it, he acquaints them with that also; and, that we may confess it to be a great matter, that gives certainty and evidence to that proposition, he expresses it negatively and positively: “If I go not away, he will not come; but if I depart, I will send him.” Concerning the going away of Christ I have spoken before; of the Comforter, his coming and sending, I shall now treat, as being the thing aimed at.

Ὁ παράκλητος: the word being of sundry significations, many translations have thought fit not to restrain it, but do retain the original word “paracletus;” so the Syriac also: and, as some think, it was a word before in use among the Jews (whence the Chaldee paraphrast makes use of it, Job xvi. 20353); and amongst them it signifies one that so taught others as to delight them also in his teaching, — that is, to be their comforter. In Scripture it hath two eminent significations, — an “advocate” and a “comforter;” in the first sense our Saviour is called παράκλητος, 1 John ii. 1. Whether it be better rendered here an advocate or a comforter may be doubted.

Look into the foregoing occasion of the words, which is the disciples’ sorrow and trouble, and it seems to require the Comforter: “Sorrow hath filled your hearts; but I will send you the Comforter;” — look into the next words following, which contain his peculiar work for which he is now promised to be sent, and they require he should be an Advocate, to plead the cause of Christ against the world, verse 8. I shall choose rather to interpret the promise by the occasion of it, which was the sorrow of his disciples, and to retain the name of the Comforter.

Who this Comforter is, our blessed Saviour had before declared, chap. xv. 26. He is Πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας, “the Spirit of truth;” that is, the Holy Ghost, who revealeth all truth to the sons of men. Now, of this Comforter two things are affirmed:— (1.) That he shall come. (2.) That Christ shall send him.

(1.) That he shall come. The affirmative of his coming on the performance of that condition of it, of Christ going away, is included in the negation of his coming without its accomplishment: “If I go not away, he will not come;” — “If I do go (ἐλεύσεται), he will come.” So that there is not only the mission of Christ, but the will of the Spirit, in his coming: “He will come,” — his own will is in his work.

(2.) Πέμψω αὐτόν, — “I will send him.” The mystery of his sending the Spirit, our Saviour instructs his disciples in by degrees. Chap. xiv. 16, he saith, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter;” in the progress of his discourse he gets one step more upon their faith, verse 26, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name;” but, chap. xv. 26, he saith, “I will send him from the Father;” and here, absolutely, “I will send him.” The business of sending the Holy Ghost by Christ — which argues his personal procession also from him, the Son — was a deep mystery, which at once they could not bear; and therefore he thus instructs them in it by degrees.

This is the sum:— the presence of the Holy Ghost with believers as a comforter, sent by Christ for those ends and purposes for which he is promised, is better and more profitable for believers than any corporeal presence of Christ can be, now he hath fulfilled the one sacrifice for sin which he was to offer.

Now, the Holy Spirit is promised under a twofold consideration:— [1.] As a Spirit of sanctification to the elect, to convert them and make them believers. [2.] As a Spirit of consolation to believers, to give them the privileges of the death and purchase of Christ: it is in the latter sense only wherein he is here spoken of. Now, as to his presence with us in this regard, and the end and purposes for which he is sent, for what is aimed at, observe, — 1st. The rise and fountain of it; 2dly. The manner of his being given; 3dly. Our manner of receiving him; 4thly. His abiding with us; 5thly. His acting in us; 6thly. What are the effects of his working in us: and then how we hold communion with him will from all these appear.

What the Scripture speaketh to these particulars, shall briefly be considered:—

1st. For the fountain of his coming, it is mentioned, John xv. 26, Παρὰ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορεύεται, — “He proceedeth from the Father;” this is the fountain of this dispensation, he proceedeth from the Father. Now there is a twofold ἐκπόρευσις, or “procession” of the Spirit:—

(1st.) Φυσική or ὑποστατική, in respect of substance and personality.

(2dly.) Οἰκονομική or dispensatory, in respect of the work of grace.

Of the first — in which respect he is the Spirit of the Father and the Son, proceeding from both eternally, so receiving his substance and personality — I speak not: it is a business of another nature than that I have now in hand. Therein, indeed, lies the first and most remote foundation of all our distinct communion with him and our worship of him; but because abiding in the naked consideration hereof, we can make no other progress than the bare acquiescence of faith in the mystery revealed, with the performance of that which is due to the person solely on the account of his participation of the essence, I shall not at present dwell upon it.

His ἐκπόρευσις or proceeding, mentioned in the place insisted on, is his economical or dispensatory proceeding, for the carrying on of the work of grace. It is spoken of him in reference to his being sent by Christ after his ascension: “I will send him which proceedeth,” — namely, “then when I send him.” As God is said to “come out of his place,” Isa. xxvi. 21, not in regard of any mutation in him, but of the new work which he would effect; so it follows, the Lord comes out of his place “to punish the inhabitants of the earth.” And it is in reference to a peculiar work that he is said to proceed, — namely, to testify of Christ: which cannot be assigned to him in respect of his eternal procession, but of his actual dispensation; as it is said of Christ, “He came forth from God.” The single mention of the Father in this place, and not of the Son, belongs to the gradation before mentioned, whereby our Saviour discovers this mystery to his disciples. He speaks as much concerning himself, John xvi. 7. And this relation ad extra (as they call it) of the Spirit unto the Father and the Son, in respect of operation, proves his relation ad intra, in respect of personal procession; whereof I spake before.

Three things are considerable in the foundation of this dispensation, in reference to our communion with the Holy Ghost:—

[1st.] That the will of the Spirit is in the work: Ἐκπορεύεται, — “He comes forth himself.” Frequent mention is made (as we shall see afterward) of his being sent, his being given, and poured out; [but] that it might not be thus apprehended, either that this Spirit were altogether an inferior, created spirit, a mere servant, as some have blasphemed, nor yet merely and principally, as to his personality, the virtue of God, as some have fancied, he hath ἰδιώματα ὑποστατικά, personal properties, applied to him in this work, arguing his personality and liberty. Ἐκπορεύεται, — “He, of himself and of his own accord, proceedeth.”

[2dly.] The condescension of the Holy Ghost in this order of working, this dispensation, to proceed from the Father and the Son, as to this work; to take upon him this work of a Comforter, as the Son did the work of a Redeemer: of which afterward.

[3dly.] The fountain of the whole is discovered to be the Father, that we may know his works in the pursuit of electing love, which everywhere is ascribed to the Father. This is the order here intimated:— First, there is the πρόθεσις of the Father, or the purpose of his love, the fountain of all; then the ἐρώτησις, the asking of the Son, John xiv. 16, which takes in his merit and purchase; whereunto follows ἐκπόρευσις, or willing proceeding of the Holy Ghost. And this gives testimony, also, to the foundation of this whole discourse, — namely, our peculiar communion with the Father in love, the Son in grace, and the Holy Ghost in consolation. This is the door and entrance of that fellowship of the Holy Ghost whereunto we are called. His gracious and blessed will, his infinite and ineffable condescension, being eyed by faith as the foundation of all those effects which he works in us, and privileges whereof by him we are made partakers, our souls are peculiarly conversant with him, and their desires, affections, and thankfulness, terminated on him: of which more afterward. This is the first thing considerable in our communion with the Holy Ghost.

2dly. The manner of his collation or bestowing, or the manner of his communication unto us from this fountain, is herein also considerable; and it is variously expressed, to denote three things:—

(1st.) The freeness of it: thus he is said to be given, John xiv. 16; “He shall give you another Comforter.” I need not multiply places to this purpose. The most frequent adjunct of the communication of the Spirit is this, that he is given and received as of gift: “He will give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” That which is of gift is free. The Spirit of grace is given of grace: and not only the Spirit of sanctification, or the Spirit to sanctify and convert us, is a gift of free grace, but in the sense whereof we speak, in respect of consolation, he is of gift also; he is promised to be given unto believers.354 Hence the Spirit is said to be received by the gospel, not by the law, Gal. iii. 2; that is, of mere grace, and not of our own procuring. And all his workings are called χαρίσματα, — “free donations.” He is freely bestowed, and freely works; and the different measures wherein he is received, for those ends and purposes of consolation which we shall consider, by believers, which are great, various, and inexpressible, arise from hence, that we have him by donation, or free gift. And this is the tenure whereby we hold and enjoy him, a tenure of free donation. So is he to be eyed, so to be asked, so to be received. And this, also, faith takes in and closes withal, in our communion with the Comforter:— the conjunction and accord of his will with the gift of Father and Son; the one respecting the distinct operation of the Deity in the person of the Holy Ghost; the other, the economy of the whole Trinity in the work of our salvation by Jesus Christ. Here the soul rejoiceth itself in the Comforter, — that he is willing to come to him, that he is willing to be given him. And seeing all is will and gift, grace is magnified on this account.

(2dly.) The authority of it. Thence he is said to be sent. Chap. xiv. 26, “The Father will send him in my name;” and, chap. xv. 26, “I will send him unto you from the Father;” and, “Him will I send unto you,” chap. xvi. 7. This mission of the Holy Ghost by the Father and the Son, as it answers the order of the persons’ subsistence in the blessed Trinity, and his procession from them both, so the order voluntarily engaged in by them for the accomplishment, as was said, of the work of our salvation. There is in it, in a most special manner, the condescension of the Holy Ghost, in his love to us, to the authoritative delegation of Father and Son in this business; which argues not a disparity, dissimilitude, or inequality of essence, but of office, in this work. It is the office of the Holy Ghost to be an advocate for us, and a comforter to us; in which respect, not absolutely, he is thus sent authoritatively by Father and Son. It is a known maxim, that “inæqualitas officii non tollit æqualitatem naturæ.” This subjection (if I may so call it), or inequality in respect of office, doth no ways prejudice the equality of nature which he hath with Father and Son; no more than the mission of the Son by the Father doth his. And on this authoritative mission of the Spirit doth the right apprehension of many mysteries in the gospel, and the ordering of our hearts in communion with him, depend.

[1st.] Hence is the sin against the Holy Ghost (what it is I do not now dispute) unpardonable, and hath that adjunct of rebellion put upon it that no other sin hath, — namely, because he comes not, he acts not, in his own name only, though in his own also, but in the name and authority of the Father and Son, from and by whom he is sent; and therefore, to sin against him is to sin against all the authority of God, all the love of the Trinity, and the utmost condescension of each person to the work of our salvation. It is, I say, from the authoritative mission of the Spirit that the sin against him is peculiarly unpardonable; — it is a sin against the recapitulation of the love of the Father, Son, and Spirit. And from this consideration, were that our present business, might the true nature of the sin against the Holy Ghost be investigated. Certainly it must consist in the contempt of some operation of his, as acting in the name and authority of the whole Trinity, and that in their ineffable condescension to the work of grace. But this is of another consideration.

[2dly.] On this account we are to pray the Father and the Son to give the Spirit to us. Luke xi. 13, “Your heavenly Father will give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.” Now the Holy Ghost, being God, is no less to be invocated, prayed to, and called on, than the Father and Son; as elsewhere I have proved. How, then, do we ask the Father for him, as we do in all our supplications, seeing that we also pray that he himself would come to us, visit us, and abide with us? In our prayers that are directed to himself, we consider him as essentially God over all, blessed for evermore; we pray for him from the Father and Son, as under this mission and delegation from them. And, indeed, God having most plentifully revealed himself in the order of this dispensation to us, we are (as Christians generally do) in our communion to abound in answerable addresses; that is, not only to the person of the Holy Ghost himself, but properly to the Father and Son for him, which refers to this dispensation.

[3dly.] Hence is that great weight, in particular, laid upon our not grieving the Spirit, Eph. iv. 30, — because he comes to us in the name, with the love, and upon the condescension, of the whole blessed Trinity. To do that which might grieve him so sent, on such an account, for that end and purpose which shall afterward be mentioned, is a great aggravation of sin. He expects cheerful entertainment with us, and may do so justly, upon his own account, and the account of the work which he comes about; but when this also is added, that he is sent of the Father and the Son, commissioned with their love and grace, to communicate them to their souls, — this is that which is, or ought to be, of unspeakable esteem with believers. And this is that second thing expressed in the manner of his communication, — he is sent by authority.

(3dly.) He is said to be poured out or shed on us, Tit. iii. 6, Οὗ ἐξέχεεν ἐφ’ ἡμᾶς πλουσίως, — that Holy Ghost which he hath richly poured out upon us, or shed on us abundantly. And this was the chief expression of his communication under the Old Testament; the mystery of the Father and the Son, and the matter of commission and delegation being then not so clearly discovered. Isa. xxxii. 15, “Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest;” that is, till the Gentiles be called, and the Jews rejected. And chap. xliv. 3, “I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring.” That eminent place of Zech. xii. 10 is always in our thoughts. Now, this expression, as is known, is taken from the allusion of the Spirit unto water; and that in relation to all the uses of water, both natural and typical. A particular relation of them I cannot now insist on; perhaps efficacy and plenty are chiefly intended.

Now, this threefold expression, of giving, sending, and pouring out, of the Spirit, gives us the three great properties of the covenant of grace:— First, That it is free; he is given. Secondly, That it is orderly, ordered in all things, and sure, from the love of the Father, by the procurement of the Son; and thence is that variety of expression, of the Father’s sending him, and the Son’s sending him from the Father, he being the gift of the Father’s love, and purchase of the blood of the Son. Thirdly. The efficacy of it, as was last observed. And this is the second thing considerable.

3dly. The third, which is our receiving him, I shall speak more briefly of. That which I first proposed of the Spirit, considered as a Spirit of sanctification and a Spirit of consolation, is here to be minded. Our receiving of him as a Spirit of sanctification is a mere passive reception, as a vessel receives water. He comes as the wind on Ezekiel’s dead bones, and makes them live; he comes into dead hearts, and quickens them, by an act of his almighty power: but now, as he is the Spirit of consolation, it is otherwise. In this sense our Saviour tells us that the “world cannot receive him,” John xiv. 17, “The world receiveth him not, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” That it is the Spirit of consolation, or the Spirit for consolation, that here is promised, is evident from the close of the verse, where he is said then to be in them when he is promised to them. He was in them as a Spirit of quickening and sanctification when promised to them as a Spirit of comfort and consolation, to abide with them for that purpose. Now, the power that is here denied to be in the world, with the reason of it, that they cannot receive the Spirit, because they know him not, is ascribed to believers; — they can receive him, because they know him. So that there is an active power to be put forth in his reception for consolation, though not in his reception for regeneration and sanctification. And this is the power of faith. So Gal. iii. 2, they received the Spirit by the hearing of faith; — the preaching of the gospel, begetting faith in them, enabled them to receive the Spirit. Hence, believing is put as the qualification of all our receiving the Holy Ghost. John vii. 39, “This he spake of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.” It is believers that thus receive the Spirit; and they receive him by faith. Now, there are three special acts of faith, whereby it goes forth in the receiving of the Spirit. I shall but name them:—

(1st.) It considers the Spirit, in the economy before described, as promised. It is faith alone that makes profit of the benefit of the promises, Heb. iv. 2. Now he is called the Spirit of that promise, Eph. i. 13, — the Spirit that in the covenant is promised; and we receive the promise of the Spirit through faith, Gal. iii. 14: so that the receiving of the Spirit through faith, is the receiving of him as promised. Faith eyes the promise of God and of Jesus Christ, of sending the Spirit for all those ends that he is desired; thus it depends, waits, mixing the promise with itself, until it receive him.

(2dly.) By prayer. He is given as a Spirit of supplication, that we may ask him as a Spirit of consolation, Luke xi. 13; and, indeed, this asking of the Spirit of God, in the name of Christ, either directly or immediately, or under the name of some fruit and effect; of him, is the chiefest work of faith in this world.

(3dly.) It cherisheth him, by attending to his motions, improving his actings according to his mind and will; which is all I shall say to this third thing, or our receiving of the Spirit, which is sent of Jesus Christ. We do it by faith, looking on him as purchased by Jesus Christ, and promised of the Father; we seek him at the hands of God, and do receive him.

4thly. The next considerable thing is, his abode with us. Now this is two ways expressed in the Scripture:—

(1st.) In general. As to the thing itself, it is said he shall abide with us.

(2dly.) In particular. As to the manner of its abiding, it is by inhabitation or indwelling. Of the inhabitation of the Spirit I have spoken fully355 elsewhere, nor shall I now insist on it. Only whereas the Spirit, as hath been observed, is considered as a Spirit of sanctification, or a Spirit of consolation, he is said to dwell in us chiefly, or perhaps solely, as he is a Spirit of sanctification: which is evident from the work he doth, as indwelling, — he quickeneth and sanctifieth, Rom. viii. 11; and the manner of his indwelling, — as in a temple, which he makes holy thereby, 1 Cor. vi. 19; and his permanency in his so doing, — which, as is evident, relates to sanctification only: but yet the general notion of it in abiding is ascribed to him as a comforter, John xiv. 16, “He shall abide with you for ever.” Now, all the difficulty of this promise lies in this, that whereas the Spirit of sanctification dwells in us always, and it is therefore impossible that we should lose utterly our holiness, whence is it that, if the Comforter abide with us for ever, we may yet utterly lose our comfort? A little to clear this in our passage:—

[1st.] He is promised to abide with the disciples for ever, in opposition to the abode of Christ. Christ, in the flesh, had been with them for a little while, and now was leaving them, and going to his Father. He had been the comforter immediately himself for a season, but is now upon his departing; wherefore, promising them another comforter, they might fear that he would even but visit them for a little season also, and then their condition would be worse than ever. Nay, but saith our Saviour, “Fear it not: this is the last dispensation; there is to be no alteration. When I am gone, the Comforter is to do all the remaining work: there is not another to be looked for, and I promise you him; nor shall he depart from you, but always abide with you.”

[2dly.] The Comforter may always abide with us, though not always comfort us; he who is the Comforter may abide, though he do not always that work. For other ends and purposes he is always with us; as to sanctify and make us holy. So was the case with David, Ps. li. 11, 12, “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” The Holy Spirit of sanctification was still with David; but saith he, “Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;” — that is, the Spirit of consolation, that was lost, when the promise was made good in the abode of the other.

[3dly.] The Comforter may abide as a comforter, when he doth not actually comfort the soul. In truth, as to the essence of holiness, he cannot dwell in us but withal he must make us holy; for the temple of God is holy; — but as to his comforting, his actings therein are all of his sovereign will; so that he may abide, and yet not actually comfort us.

[4thly.] The Spirit often works for it, and tenders consolation to us, when we do not receive it; the well is nigh, and we see it not, — we refuse to be comforted. I told you that the Spirit as a sanctifier comes with power, to conquer an unbelieving heart; the Spirit as a comforter comes with sweetness, to be received in a believing heart. He speaks, and we believe not that it is his voice; he tenders the things of consolation, and we receive them not. “My sore ran,” saith David, “and my soul refused to be comforted.”

[5thly.] I deny that ever the Holy Spirit doth absolutely and universally leave a believing soul without consolation. A man may be darkened, clouded, refuse comfort, — actually find none, feel none; but radically he hath a foundation of consolation, which in due time will be drawn forth: and therefore, when God promises that he will heal sinners, and restore comfort to them, as Isa. lvii. 18, it is not that they were without any, but that they had not so much as they needed, that that promise is made. To insist on the several ways whereby men refuse comfort, and come short of the strong consolation which God is willing that we should receive, is not my purpose at present. Thus, then, the Spirit being sent and given, abideth with the souls of believers, — leaves them not, though he variously manifest himself in his operations: of which in the next place.

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353 מְלִיצַי רֵעָי, rendered in our translation, “My friends scorn me,” is in the Targum, to which Owen alludes, פְרַקְלִיטַי חֲבֵרַי, “My advocates are my friends.” The word is the Greek παράκλετοι, in Hebrew characters. — Ed.
354 Neh. ix. 20; John xiv. 16, vii. 39, xx. 22; Acts ii. 28, v. 32, viii. 15, x. 47, xv. 8, xix. 2; Rom. v. 5; 1 Cor. ii. 12, vi. 19, xii. 7; 1 Thess. iv. 8; 1 John iv. 13.
355 Perseverance of the Saints, chap. viii. vol. xi.

Chapter 2.

Of the actings of the Holy Ghost in us, being bestowed on us — He worketh effectually, distributeth, giveth.

Having thus declared from whence and how the Holy Ghost is given unto us as a Spirit of consolation, I come, in the next place, —

5thly. To declare what are his actings in us and towards us, being so bestowed on us and received by us. Now, here are two general heads to be considered:— (1st.) The manner and kind of his actings in us, which are variously expressed; and, (2dly.) The particular products of his actings in our souls, wherein we have communion with him. The first is variously expressed; I shall pass through them briefly:—

(1st.) He is said (ἐνεργεῖν) “to work effectually,” 1 Cor. xii. 11, “All these worketh” (or effecteth) “that one and the self-same Spirit.” It is spoken there, indeed, in respect of his distribution of gifts; but the way is the same for the communication of graces and privileges. He doth it by working: which, as it evinces his personality, especially as considered with the words following, “Dividing to every man according to his will” (for to work according to will is the inseparable property of a person, and is spoken expressly of God, Eph. i. 11); so in relation to verse 6, foregoing, it makes no less evident his Deity. What he is here said to do as the Spirit bestowed on us and given unto us, there is he said as God himself to do: “There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all;” which here, in other words, is, “All these worketh that one and the self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.” What we have, then, from him, we have by the way of his energetical working. It is not by proposing this or that argument to us, persuading us by these or those moral motives or inducements alone, leaving us to make use of them as we can; but he works effectually himself, what he communicates of grace or consolation to us.

[2dly.] In the same verse, as to the manner of his operation, he is said διαιρεῖν, — he divideth or distributeth to every one as he will. This of distribution adds to that of operation, choice, judgment, and freedom. He that distributes variously, doth it with choice, and judgment, and freedom of will. Such are the proceedings of the Spirit in his dispensations: to one, he giveth one thing eminently; to another, another; — to one, in one degree; to another, in another. Thus are the saints, in his sovereignty, kept in a constant dependence on him. He distributes as he will; — who should not be content with his portion? what claim can any lay to that which he distributeth as he will? which is farther manifested, —

[3dly.] By his being said to give when and what he bestows. They “spake with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance,” Acts ii. 4. He gave them to them; that is, freely: whatever he bestows upon us, is of his gift. And hence it is to be observed, that in the economy of our salvation, the acting of no one person doth prejudice the freedom and liberty of any other: so the love of the Father in sending the Son is free, and his sending doth no ways prejudice the liberty and love of the Son, but that he lays down his life freely also; so the satisfaction and purchase made by the Son doth no way prejudice the freedom of the Father’s grace in pardoning and accepting us thereupon; so the Father’s and Son’s sending of the Spirit doth not derogate from his freedom in his workings, but he gives freely what he gives. And the reason of this is, because the will of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is essentially the same; so that in the acting of one there is the counsel of all and each freely therein.

Thus, in general, is the manner and kind of his working in us and towards us, being bestowed upon us, described. Power, choice, freedom, are evidently denoted in the expressions insisted on. It is not any peculiar work of his towards us that is hereby declared, but the manner how he doth produce the effects that shall be insisted on.

(2dly.) That which remains, in the last place, for the explanation of the things proposed to be explained as the foundation of the communion which we have with the Holy Ghost, is, —

The effects that, being thus sent and thus working, he doth produce; which I shall do, not casting them into any artificial method, but taking them up as I find them lying scattered up and down in the Scripture, only descending from those which are more general to those which are more particular, neither aiming nor desiring to gather all the several, but insisting on those which do most obviously occur.

Only as formerly, so now you must observe, that I speak of the Spirit principally (if not only) as a comforter, and not as a sanctifier; and therefore the great work of the Spirit towards us all our days, in the constant and continual supplies of new light, power, vigour, as to our receiving of grace from him, belonging to that head of sanctification, must be omitted.

Nor shall I insist on those things which the Comforter doth in believers effect towards others, in his testifying to them and convincing of the world, which are promised, John xv. 26, xvi. 8, wherein he is properly their advocate; but only on those which as a comforter he works in and towards them on whom he is bestowed.

 

Chapter 3.

Of the things wherein we have communion with the Holy Ghost — He brings to remembrance the things spoken by Christ, John xiv. 26 — The manner how he doth it — The Spirit glorifies Christ in the hearts of believers, John xvi. 14, sheds abroad the love of God in them — The witness of the Spirit, what it is, Rom. viii. 16 — The sealing of the Spirit, Eph. i. 13 — The Spirit, how an earnest; on the part of God, on the part of the saints — Difference between the earnest of the Spirit and tasting of the powers of the world to come — Unction by the Spirit, Isa. xi. 2, 3 — The various teachings of the Holy Ghost — How the Spirit of adoption and of supplication.

The things which, in the foregoing chapters, I called effects of the Holy Ghost in us, or towards us, are the subject-matter of our communion with him, or the things wherein we hold peculiar fellowship with him as our comforter. These are now proposed to consideration:—

1. The first and most general is that of John xiv. 26, “He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” There are two parts of this promise:— (1.) Of teaching. (2.) Of bringing to remembrance. Of his teaching I shall speak afterward, when I come to treat of his anointing us.

His bringing the things to remembrance that Christ spake is the first general promise of him as a comforter: Ὑπομνήσει ὑμᾶς πάντα, — “He shall make you mind all these things.” Now, this also may be considered two ways:—

[1.] Merely in respect of the things spoken themselves. So our Saviour here promiseth his apostles that the Holy Ghost should bring to their minds, by an immediate efficacy, the things that he had spoken, that by his inspiration they might be enabled to write and preach them for the good and benefit of his church. So Peter tells us, 2 Epist. i. 21, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (that is, in writing the Scripture); ὑπὸ Πνεύματος ἁγίου φερόμενοι, — borne up by him, carried beyond themselves, to speak his words, and what he indited to them. The apostles forgot much of what Christ had said to them, or might do so; and what they did retain, in a natural way of remembrance, was not a sufficient foundation to them to write what they so remembered for a rule of faith to the church. For the word of prophecy is not ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως, — from any man’s proper impulse; it comes not from any private conception, understanding, or remembrance. Wherefore, Christ promises that the Holy Ghost shall do this work; that they might infallibly give out what he had delivered to them. Hence that expression in Luke i. 3, Πυρηκολουθηκότι ἄνωθεν, is better rendered, “Having obtained perfect knowledge of things from above,” — noting the rise and spring of his so understanding things as to be able infallibly to give them out in a rule of faith to the church, than the beginning of the things themselves spoken of; which the word itself will not easily allow of.

[2.] In respect of the comfort of what he had spoken, which seems to be a great part of the intendment of this promise. He had been speaking to them things suited for their consolation; giving them precious promises of the supplies they should have from him in this life, — of the love of the Father, of the glory he was providing for them, the sense and comfort whereof is unspeakable, and the joy arising from them full of glory. But saith he, “I know how unable you are to make use of these things for your own consolation; the Spirit, therefore, shall recover them upon your minds, in their full strength and vigour, for that end for which I speak them.” And this is one cause why it was expedient for believers that Christ’s bodily absence should be supplied by the presence of the Spirit. Whilst he was with them, how little efficacy on their hearts had any of the heavenly promises he gave them! When the Spirit came, how full of joy did he make all things to them! That which was his peculiar work, which belonged to him by virtue of his office, that he also might be glorified, was reserved for him. And this is his work to the end of the world, — to bring the promises of Christ to our minds and hearts, to give us the comfort of them, the joy and sweetness of them, much beyond that which the disciples found in them, when Christ in person spake them to them; their gracious influence being then restrained, that, as was said, the dispensation of the Spirit might be glorified. So are the next words to this promise, verse 27, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you.” The Comforter being sent to bring what Christ said to remembrance, the consequent of it is peace, and freedom from trouble of heart; — whatever peace, relief, comfort, joy, supportment, we have at any time received from any work, promise, or thing done by Christ, it all belongs to this dispensation of the Comforter. In vain should we apply our natural abilities to remember, call to mind, consider, the promises of Christ; without success would it be, — it is so daily: but when the Comforter doth undertake the work, it is done to the purpose. How we have peculiar communion with him herein, in faith and obedience, in the consolation received in and by the promises of him brought to mind, shall be afterward declared. This, in general, is obtained:— our Saviour Jesus Christ, leaving the efficacy even of those promises which in person he gave to his apostles in their great distress, as to their consolation, unto the Holy Ghost, we may see the immediate spring of all the spiritual comfort we have in this world, and the fellowship which we have with the Holy Ghost therein.

Only here, as in all the particulars following, the manner of the Spirit’s working this thing is always to be borne in mind, and the interest of his power, will, and goodness in his working. He doth this, — 1st. Powerfully, or effectually; 2dly. Voluntarily; 3dly. Freely.

1st. Powerfully: and therefore doth comfort from the words and promises of Christ sometimes break in through all opposition into the saddest and darkest condition imaginable; it comes and makes men sing in a dungeon, rejoice in flames, glory in tribulation; it will into prisons, racks, through temptations, and the greatest distresses imaginable. Whence is this? Τὸ Πνεῦμα ἐνεργεῖ, — the Spirit works effectually, his power is in it; he will work, and none shall let him. If he will bring to our remembrance the promises of Christ for our consolation, neither Satan nor man, sin nor world, nor death, shall interrupt our comfort. This the saints, who have communion with the Holy Ghost, know to their advantage. Sometimes the heavens are black over them, and the earth trembles under them; public, personal calamities and distresses appear so full of horror and darkness, that they are ready to faint with the apprehensions of them; — hence is their great relief, and the retrievement of their spirits; their consolation or trouble depends not on any outward condition or inward frame of their own hearts, but on the powerful and effectual workings of the Holy Ghost, which by faith they give themselves up unto.

2dly. Voluntarily, — distributing to every one as he will; and therefore is this work done in so great variety, both as to the same person and divers. For the same person, full of joy sometimes in a great distress, full of consolation, — every promise brings sweetness when his pressures are great and heavy; another time, in the least trial [he] seeks for comfort, searches the promise, and it is far away. The reason is, Πνεῦμα διαιρεῖ καθὼς βούλεται, — the Spirit distributes as he will. And so with divers persons: to some each promise is full of life and comfort; others taste little all their days, — all upon the same account. And this faith especially regards in the whole business of consolation:— it depends on the sovereign will of the Holy Ghost; and so is not tied unto any rules or course of procedure. Therefore doth it exercise itself in waiting upon him for the seasonable accomplishment of the good pleasure of his will.

3dly. Freely. Much of the variety of the dispensation of consolation by promises depends on this freedom of the Spirit’s operation. Hence it is that comfort is given unexpectedly, when the heart hath all the reasons in the world to look for distress and sorrow; thus sometimes it is the first means of recovering a backsliding soul, who might justly expect to be utterly cast off. And these considerations are to be carried on in all the other effects and fruits of the Comforter: of which afterward. And in this first general effect or work of the Holy Ghost towards us have we communion and fellowship with him. The life and soul of all our comforts lie treasured up in the promises of Christ. They are the breasts of all our consolation. Who knows not how powerless they are in the bare letter, even when improved to the uttermost by our considerations of them, and meditation on them? as also how unexpectedly they sometimes break upon the soul with a conquering, endearing life and vigour? Here faith deals peculiarly with the Holy Ghost. It considers the promises themselves; looks up to him, waits for him, considers his appearances in the word depended on, — owns him in his work and efficacy. No sooner doth the soul begin to feel the life of a promise warming his heart, relieving, cherishing, supporting, delivering from fear, entanglements, or troubles, but it may, it ought, to know that the Holy Ghost is there; which will add to his joy, and lead him into fellowship with him.

2. The next general work seems to be that of John xvi. 14, “The Comforter shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” The work of the Spirit is to glorify Christ: whence, by the way, we may see how far that spirit is from being the Comforter who sets up himself in the room of Christ; such a spirit as saith he is all himself: “for as for him that suffered at Jerusalem, it is no matter that we trouble ourselves about him.” This spirit is now all. This is not the Comforter. His work is to glorify Christ, — him that sends him. And this is an evident sign of a false spirit, whatever its pretence be, if it glorify not that Christ who was now speaking to his apostles; and such are many that are gone abroad into the world. But what shall this Spirit do, that Christ may be glorified? “He shall,” saith he, “take of mine,” — ἐκ τοῦ ἐμοῦ λήψεται. What these things are is declared in the next verse: “All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore I said he shall take of mine.” It is not of the essence and essential properties of the Father and Son that our Saviour speaks; but of the grace which is communicated to us by them. This Christ calls, “My things,” being the fruit of his purchase and mediation: on which account he saith all his Father’s things are his; that is, the things that the Father, in his eternal love, hath provided to be dispensed in the blood of his Son, — all the fruits of election. “These,” said he, “the Comforter shall receive; that is, they shall be committed unto him to dispose for your good and advantage, to the end before proposed.” So it follows, ἀναγγελεῖ, — “He shall show, or declare and make them known to you.” Thus, then, is he a comforter. He reveals to the souls of sinners the good things of the covenant of grace, which the Father hath provided, and the Son purchased. He shows to us mercy, grace, forgiveness, righteousness, acceptation with God; letteth us know that these are the things of Christ, which he hath procured for us; shows them to us for our comfort and establishment. These things, I say, he effectually declares to the souls of believers; and makes them know them for their own good, — know them as originally the things of the Father, prepared from eternity in his love and good-will; as purchased for them by Christ, and laid up in store in the covenant of grace for their use. Then is Christ magnified and glorified in their hearts; then they know what a Saviour and Redeemer he is. A soul doth never glorify or honour Christ upon a discovery or sense of the eternal redemption he hath purchased for him, but it is in him a peculiar effect of the Holy Ghost as our comforter. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost,” 1 Cor. xii. 3.

3. He “sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts,” Rom. v. 5. That it is the love of God to us, not our love to God, which is here intended, the context is so clear as nothing can be added thereunto. Now, the love of God is either of ordination or of acceptation, — the love of his purpose to do us good, or the love of acceptation and approbation with him. Both these are called the love of God frequently in Scripture, as I have declared. Now, how can these be shed abroad in our hearts? Not in themselves, but in a sense of them, — in a spiritual apprehension of them. Ἐκκέχυται, is “shed abroad;” the same word that is used concerning the Comforter being given us, Tit. iii. 6. God sheds him abundantly, or pours him on us; so he sheds abroad, or pours out the love of God in our hearts. Not to insist on the expression, which is metaphorical, the business is, that the Comforter gives a sweet and plentiful evidence and persuasion of the love of God to us, such as the soul is taken, delighted, satiated withal. This is his work, and he doth it effectually. To give a poor sinful soul a comfortable persuasion, affecting it throughout, in all its faculties and affections, that God in Jesus Christ loves him, delights in him, is well pleased with him, hath thoughts of tenderness and kindness towards him; to give, I say, a soul an overflowing sense hereof, is an inexpressible mercy.

This we have in a peculiar manner by the Holy Ghost; it is his peculiar work. As all his works are works of love and kindness, so this of communicating a sense of the love of the Father mixes itself with all the particulars of his actings. And as we have herein peculiar communion with himself, so by him we have communion with the Father, even in his love, which is thus shed abroad in our hearts: so not only do we rejoice in, and glorify the Holy Ghost, which doth this work, but in him also whose love it is. Thus is it also in respect of the Son, in his taking of his, and showing of it unto us, as was declared. What we have of heaven in this world lies herein; and the manner of our fellowship with the Holy Ghost on this account falls in with what was spoken before.

4. Another effect we have of his, Rom. viii. 16, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” You know whose children we are by nature, — children of Satan and of the curse, or of wrath. By the Spirit we are put into another capacity, and are adopted to be the children of God, inasmuch as by receiving the Spirit of our Father we become the children of our Father. Thence is he called, verse 15, “The Spirit of adoption.” Now, sometimes the soul, because it hath somewhat remaining in it of the principle that it had in its old condition, is put to question whether it be a child of God or no; and thereupon, as in a thing of the greatest importance, puts in its claim, with all the evidences that it hath to make good its title. The Spirit comes and bears witness in this case. An allusion it is to judicial proceedings in point of titles and evidences. The judge being set, the person concerned lays his claim, produceth his evidences, and pleads them; his adversaries endeavouring all that in them lies to invalidate them, and disannul his plea, and to cast him in his claim. In the midst of the trial, a person of known and approved integrity comes into the court, and gives testimony fully and directly on the behalf of the claimer; which stops the mouths of all his adversaries, and fills the man that pleaded with joy and satisfaction. So is it in this case. The soul, by the power of its own conscience, is brought before the law of God. There a man puts in his plea, — that he is a child of God, that he belongs to God’s family; and for this end produceth all his evidences, every thing whereby faith gives him an interest in God. Satan, in the meantime, opposeth with all his might; sin and law assist him; many flaws are found in his evidences; the truth of them all is questioned; and the soul hangs in suspense as to the issue. In the midst of the plea and contest the Comforter comes, and, by a word of promise or otherwise, overpowers the heart with a comfortable persuasion (and bears down all objections) that his plea is good, and that he is a child of God. And therefore it is said of him, Συμμαρτυρεῖ τῷ Πνεύματι ἡμῶν. When our spirits are pleading their right and title, he comes in and bears witness on our side; at the same time enabling us to put forth acts of filial obedience, kind and childlike; which is called “crying, Abba, Father,” Gal. iv. 6. Remember still the manner of the Spirit’s working, before mentioned, — that he doth it effectually, voluntarily, and freely. Hence sometimes the dispute hangs long, — the cause is pleading many years. The law seems sometimes to prevail, sin and Satan to rejoice; and the poor soul is filled with dread about its inheritance. Perhaps its own witness, from its faith, sanctification, former experience, keeps up the plea with some life and comfort; but the work is not done, the conquest is not fully obtained, until the Spirit, who worketh freely and effectually, when and how he will, comes in with his testimony also; clothing his power with a word of promise, he makes all parties concerned to attend unto him, and puts an end to the controversy.

Herein he gives us holy communion with himself. The soul knows his voice when he speaks, “Nec hominem sonat.” There is something too great in it to be the effect of a created power. When the Lord Jesus Christ at one word stilled the raging of the sea and wind, all that were with him knew there was divine power at hand, Matt. viii. 25–27. And when the Holy Ghost by one word stills the tumults and storms that are raised in the soul, giving it an immediate calm and security, it knows his divine power, and rejoices in his presence.

5. He seals us. “We are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, Eph. i. 13; and, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption,” chap. iv. 30. I am not very clear in the certain peculiar intendment of this metaphor; what I am persuaded of the mind of God in it I shall briefly impart. In a seal two things are considered:— (1.) The nature of it. (2.) The use of it.

(1.) The nature of sealing consists in the imparting of the image or character of the seal to the thing sealed. This is to seal a thing, — to stamp the character of the seal on it. In this sense, the effectual communication of the image of God unto us should be our sealing. The Spirit in believers, really communicating the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness, unto the soul, sealeth us. To have this stamp of the Holy Ghost, so as to be an evidence unto the soul that it is accepted with God, is to be sealed by the Spirit; taking the metaphor from the nature of sealing.356 And in this sense is our Saviour said to be sealed of God, John vi. 27, even from that impression of the power, wisdom, and majesty of God that he had upon him in the discharge of his office.

(2.) The end of sealing is twofold:—

[1.] To confirm or ratify any grant or conveyance made in writing. In such cases men set their seals to make good and confirm their grants; and when this is done they are irrevocable. Or to confirm the testimony that is given by any one of the truth of any thing. Such was the manner among the Jews:— when any one had given true witness unto any thing or matter, and it was received by the judges, they instantly set their seals to it, to confirm it in judgment. Hence it is said, that he who receives the testimony of Christ “sets to his seal that God is true,” John iii. 33. The promise is the great grant and conveyance of life and salvation in Christ to the souls of believers. That we may have full assurance of the truth and irrevocableness of the promise, God gives us the Spirit to satisfy our hearts of it; and thence is he said to seal us, by assuring our hearts of those promises and their stability. But, though many expositors go this way, I do not see how this can consist with the very meaning of the word. It is not said that the promise is sealed, but that we are sealed; and when we seal a deed or grant to any one, we do not say the man is sealed, but the deed or grant.

[2.] To appropriate, distinguish, or keep safe. This is the end of sealing. Men set their seals on that which they appropriate and desire to keep safe for themselves. So, evidently, in this sense are the servants of God said to be sealed, Rev. vii. 4; that is, marked with God’s mark, as his peculiar ones, — for this sealing answers to the setting of a mark, Ezek. ix. 4. Then are believers sealed, when they are marked for God to be heirs of the purchased inheritance, and to be preserved to the day of redemption. Now, if this be the sealing intended, it denotes not an act of sense in the heart, but of security to the person. The Father gives the elect into the hands of Christ to be redeemed; having redeemed them, in due time they are called by the Spirit, and marked for God, and so give up themselves to the hands of the Father.

If you ask, now, “Which of these senses is chiefly intended in this expression of our being sealed by the Holy Ghost?” I answer, The first, not excluding the other. We are sealed to the day of redemption, when, from the stamp, image, and character of the Spirit upon our souls, we have a fresh sense of the love of God given to us, with a comfortable persuasion of our acceptation with him. But of this whole matter I have treated at large357 elsewhere.

Thus, then, the Holy Ghost communicates unto us his own likeness; which is also the image of the Father and the Son. “We are changed into this image by the Lord the Spirit,” 2 Cor. iii. 18; and herein he brings us into fellowship with himself. Our likeness to him gives us boldness with him. His work we look for, his fruits we pray for; and when any effect of grace, any discovery of the image of Christ implanted in us, gives us a persuasion of our being separated and set apart for God, we have a communion with him therein.

6. He is an earnest unto us. 2 Cor. i. 22, He hath “given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts;” chap. v. 5, “Who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit;” as also, Eph. i. 13, 14, “Ye are sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.” In the two former places we are said to have the earnest of the Spirit; in the latter, the Spirit is said to be our earnest: “of the Spirit,” then, in the first place, is, as we say, “genitivus materiæ;” denoting not the cause, but the thing itself; — not the author of the earnest, but the matter of it. The Spirit is our earnest; as in the last place is expressed. The consideration of what is meant by the “Spirit,” here, and what is meant by an “earnest,” will give some insight into this privilege, which we receive by the Comforter:—

(1.) What grace, what gift of the Spirit, is intended by this earnest, some have made inquiry; I suppose to no purpose. It is the Spirit himself, personally considered, that is said to be this earnest, 2 Cor. i. 22. It is God hath given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts: an expression directly answering that of Gal. iv. 6, “God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts;” — that is, the person of the Spirit; for nothing else can be called the Spirit of his Son: and in Eph. i. 14, he hath given the Spirit (ὃς for ὃ); which is that earnest. The Spirit of promise himself is this earnest. In giving us this Spirit he gives us this earnest.

(2.) An earnest it is, — ἀῤῥαβών. Neither the Greek nor the Latin hath any word to express directly what is here intended. The Latins have made words for it, from that expressed here in the Greek, “arrha” and “arrabo.” The Greek word is but the Hebrew “herabon” [עֵרָבוֹן]; which, as some conceive, came amongst them by the Syrian merchants, being a word of trade. It is by some rendered, in Latin, “pignus,” a “pledge;” but this cannot be here intended. A pledge is that property which any one gives or leaves in the custody of another, to assure him that he will give him, or pay him, some other thing; in the nature of that which we call a “pawn.” Now, the thing that is here intended, is a part of that which is to come, and but a part of it, according to the trade use of the word, whence the metaphor is taken; it is excellently rendered in our language, an “earnest.” An earnest is part of the price of any thing, or part of any grant, given beforehand to assure the person to whom it is given that at the appointed season he shall receive the whole that is promised him.

That a thing be an earnest, it is required, —

[1.] That it be part of the whole, of the same kind and nature with it; as we do give so much money in earnest to pay so much more.

[2.] That it be a confirmation of a promise and appointment; first the whole is promised, then the earnest is given for the good and true performance of that promise.

Thus the Spirit is this earnest. God gives us the promise of eternal life. To confirm this to us, he giveth us his Spirit; which is, as the first part of the promise, to secure us of the whole. Hence he is said to be the earnest of the inheritance that is promised and purchased.

And it may be considered how it may be said to be an earnest on the part of God, who gives him; and on the part of believers, who receive him:—

1st. He is an earnest on the part of God, in that God gives him as a choice part of the inheritance itself, and of the same kind with the whole, as an earnest ought to be. The full inheritance promised, is the fulness of the Spirit in the enjoyment of God. When that Spirit which is given us in this world shall have perfectly taken away all sin and sorrow, and shall have made us able to enjoy the glory of God in his presence, that is the full inheritance promised. So that the Spirit given us for the fitting of us for enjoyment of God in some measure, whilst we are here, is the earnest of the whole.

God doth it to this purpose, to assure us and secure us of the inheritance. Having given us so many 358securities without us, — his word, promises, covenant, oath, the revelation and discovery of his faithfulness and immutability in them all, — he is pleased also graciously to give us one within us, Isa. lix. 21, that we may have all the security we are capable of. What can more be done? He hath given us of the Holy Spirit; — in him the first-fruits of glory, the utmost pledge of his love, the earnest of all.

2dly. On the part of believers he is an earnest, in that he gives them an acquaintance with, —

(1st.) The love of God. Their acceptation with him makes known to them their favour in his sight, — that he is their Father, and will deal with them as with children; and consequently, that the inheritance shall be theirs. He sends his Spirit into our hearts, “crying, Abba, Father,” Gal. iv. 6. And what is the inference of believers from hence? Verse 7, “Then we are not servants, but sons; and if sons, then heirs of God.” The same apostle, again, Rom. viii. 17, “If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” On that persuasion of the Spirit that we are children, the inference is, “Then heirs, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” We have, then, a right to an inheritance, and an eviction of it. This is the use, then, we have of it, — even the Spirit persuading us of our sonship and acceptation with God our Father. And what is this inheritance of glory? “If we suffer with him, we shall be glorified together.” And that the Spirit is given for this end is attested, 1 John iii. 24, “Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” The apostle is speaking of our union with God, which he expresseth in the words foregoing: “He that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him;” — of that union elsewhere. Now, this we know from hence, even by the Spirit which he hath given us, — the Spirit acquaints us with it. Not that we have such an acquaintance, but that the argument is good and conclusive in itself, “We have of the Spirit; therefore he dwells in us, and we in him:” because, indeed, his dwelling in us is by that Spirit, and our interest in him is from thence. A sense of this he giveth as he pleaseth.

(2dly.) The Spirit being given as an earnest, acquaints believers with their inheritance, 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10. As an earnest, being part of the whole, gives knowledge of it, so doth the Spirit; as in sundry particulars might be demonstrated.

So is he in all respects completely an earnest, — given of God, received by us, as the beginning of our inheritance, and the assurance of it. So much as we have of the Spirit, so much we have of heaven in perfect enjoyment, and so much evidence of its future fulness. Under this apprehension of him in the dispensation of grace do believers receive him and rejoice in him. Every gracious, self-evidencing act of his in their hearts they rejoice in, as a drop from heaven, and long for the ocean of it. Not to drive every effect of grace to this issue, is to neglect the work of the Holy Ghost in us and towards us.

There remains only that a difference be, in a few words, assigned between believers receiving the Spirit as an earnest of the whole inheritance, and hypocrites “tasting of the powers of the world to come,” Heb. vi. 5. A taste of the powers of the world to come seems to be the same with the earnest of the inheritance. But, —

[1st.] That by “the powers of the world to come” in that place is intended the joys of heaven, there is, indeed, no ground to imagine. They are nowhere so called; nor doth it suitably express the glory that shall be revealed, which we shall be made partakers of. It is, doubtless, the powerful ministry of the ordinances and dispensations of the times of the gospel (there called to the Hebrews according to their own idiom), the powers or great effectual things of the world to come, that is intended. But, —

[2dly.] Suppose that by “the powers of the world to come” the glory of heaven is intended, there is a wide difference between taking a vanishing taste of it ourselves, and receiving an abiding earnest from God. To take a taste of the things of heaven, and to have them assured of God as from his love, differ greatly. A hypocrite may have his thoughts raised to a great deal of joy and contentment in the consideration of the good things of the kingdom of God for a season, considering the things in themselves; but the Spirit, as he is an earnest, gives us a pledge of them as provided for us in the love of God and purchase of his Son Jesus Christ. This by the way.

7. The Spirit anoints believers. We are “anointed” by the Spirit, 2 Cor. i. 21. We have “an unction from the Holy One, and we know all things,” 1 John ii. 20, 27. I cannot intend to run this expression up into its rise and original; also, I have done it elsewhere. The use of unctions in the Judaical church, the meaning and intendment of the types attended therewith, the offices that men were consecrated unto thereby, are at the bottom of this expression; nearer the unction of Jesus Christ (from whence he is called Messiah, and the Christ, the whole performance of his office of mediatorship being called also his anointing, Dan. ix. 24, as to his furnishment for it), concurs hereunto. Christ is said to be “anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows,” Heb. i. 9; which is the same with that of John iii. 34, “God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.” We, who have the Spirit by measure, are anointed with the “oil of gladness;” Christ hath the fulness of the Spirit, whence our measure is communicated: so he is anointed above us, “that in all things he may have the pre-eminence.” How Christ was anointed with the Spirit to his threefold office of king, priest, and prophet; how, by virtue of an unction, with the same Spirit dwelling in him and us, we become to be interested in these offices of his, and are made also kings, priests, and prophets to God, is known, and would be matter of a long discourse to handle; and my design is only to communicate the things treated of:

I shall only, therefore, fix on one place, where the communications of the Spirit in this unction of Christ are enumerated, — of which, in our measure, from him and with him, by this unction, we are made partakers, — and that is, Isa. xi. 2, 3, “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord,” etc. Many of the endowments of Christ, from the Spirit wherewith he was abundantly anointed, are here recounted. Principally those of wisdom, counsel, and understanding, are insisted on; on the account whereof all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are said to be in him, Col. ii. 3. And though this be but some part of the furniture of Jesus Christ for the discharge of his office, yet it is such, as, where our anointing to the same purpose is mentioned, it is said peculiarly on effecting of such qualifications as these: so 1 John ii. 20, 27, the work of the anointing is to teach us; the Spirit therein is a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel, knowledge, and quick understanding in the fear of the Lord. So was the great promise of the Comforter, that he should “teach us,” John xiv. 26, — that he should “guide us into all truth,” chap. xvi. 13. This of teaching us the mind and will of God, in the manner wherein we are taught it by the Spirit, our comforter, is an eminent part of our unction by him; which only I shall instance in. Give me leave to say, there is a threefold teaching by the Spirit:—

(1.) A teaching by the Spirit of conviction and illumination. So the Spirit teacheth the world (that is, many in it) by the preaching of the word; as he is promised to do, John xvi. 8.

(2.) A teaching by the Spirit of sanctification; opening blind eyes, giving a new understanding, shining into our hearts, to give us a knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; enabling us to receive spiritual things in a spiritual light, 1 Cor. ii. 13; giving a saving knowledge of the mystery of the gospel: and this in several degrees is common to believers.

(3.) A teaching by the Spirit of consolation; — making sweet, useful, and joyful to the soul, the discoveries that are made of the mind and will of God in the light of the Spirit of sanctification. Here the oil of the Spirit is called the “oil of gladness,” — that which brings joy and gladness with it; and the name of Christ thereby discovered is a sweet “ointment poured forth,” that causeth souls to run after him with joy and delight, Cant. i. 3. We see it by daily experience, that very many have little taste and sweetness and relish in their souls of those truths which yet they savingly know and believe; but when we are taught by this unction, oh, how sweet is every thing we know of God! As we may see in the place of John where mention is made of the teaching of this unction, it respects peculiarly the Spirit teaching of us the love of God in Christ, the shining of his countenance; which, as David speaks, puts gladness into our hearts, Ps. iv. 6, 7.

We have this, then, by the Spirit:— he teacheth us of the love of God in Christ; he makes every gospel truth as wine well refined to our souls, and the good things of it to be a feast of fat things; — gives us joy and gladness of heart with all that we know of God; which is the great preservative of the soul to keep it close to truth. The apostle speaks of our teaching by this unction, as the means whereby we are preserved from seduction. Indeed, to know any truth in the power, sweetness, joy, and gladness of it, is that great security of the soul’s constancy in the preservation and retaining of it. They will readily change truth for error, who find no more sweetness in the one than in the other. I must crave the reader’s pardon for my brief passing over these great things of the gospel; my present design is rather to enumerate than to unfold them. This one work of the Holy Ghost, might it be pursued, would require a fuller discourse than I can allot unto the whole matter in hand. All the privileges we enjoy, all the dignity and honour we are invested withal, our whole dedication unto God, our nobility and royalty, our interest in all church advantages and approaches to God in worship, our separation from the world, the name whereby we are called, the liberty we enjoy, — all flow from this head, all are branches of this effect of the Holy Ghost. I have mentioned only our teaching by this unction, — a teaching that brings joy and gladness with it, by giving the heart a sense of the truth wherein we are instructed. When we find any of the good truths of the gospel come home to our souls with life, vigour, and power, giving us gladness of heart, transforming us into the image and likeness of it, — the Holy Ghost is then at his work, is pouring out of his oil.

8. We have adoption also by the Spirit; hence he is called the “Spirit of adoption;” that is, either he who is given to adopted ones, to secure them of it, to beget in their hearts a sense and persuasion of the Father’s adopting love; or else to give them the privilege itself, as is intimated, John i. 12. Neither is that opposite hereunto which we have, Gal. iv. 6; for God may send the Spirit of supplication into our hearts, because we are sons, and yet adopted by his Spirit. But of this elsewhere.

9. He is also called the “Spirit of supplication;” under which notion he is promised, Zech. xii. 10; and how he effects that in us is declared, Rom. viii. 26, 27, Gal. iv. 6; and we are thence said to “pray in the Holy Ghost.” Our prayers may be considered two ways:—

(1.) First, as a spiritual duty required of us by God; and so they are wrought in us by the Spirit of sanctification, which helps us to perform all our duties, by exalting all the faculties of the soul for the spiritual discharge of their respective offices in them.

(2.) As a means of retaining communion with God, whereby we sweetly ease our hearts in the bosom of the Father, and receive in refreshing tastes of his love. The soul is never more raised with the love of God than when by the Spirit taken into intimate communion with him in the discharge of this duty; and therein it belongs to the Spirit of consolation, to the Spirit promised as a comforter. And this is the next thing to be considered in our communion with the Holy Ghost, — namely, what are the peculiar effects which he worketh in us, and towards us, being so bestowed on us as was declared, and working in the way and manner insisted on. Now, these are, — his bringing the promises of Christ to remembrance, glorifying him in our hearts, shedding abroad the love of God in us, witnessing with us as to our spiritual estate and condition, sealing us to the day of redemption (being the earnest of our inheritance), anointing us with privileges as to their consolation, confirming our adoption, and being present with us in our supplications. Here is the wisdom of faith, — to find out and meet with the Comforter in all these things; not to lose their sweetness, by lying in the dark [as] to their author, nor coming short of the returns which are required of us.

————————————————————–
356 Rev. vii. 4.
357 Perseverance of the Saints, chap. viii. vol. xi.
358 Heb. vi. 17, 18.

Chapter 4.

The general consequences in the hearts of believers of the effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned — Consolation; its adjuncts, peace, joy — How it is wrought immediately, mediately.

Having proceeded thus far in discovering the way of our communion with the Holy Ghost, and insisted on the most noble and known effects that he produceth, it remains that it be declared what general consequences of these effects there are brought forth in the hearts of believers; and so we shall at least have made mention of the main heads of his dispensation and work in the economy of grace. Now, these (as with the former) I shall do little more than name; it being not at all in my design to handle the natures of them, but only to show what respects they bear to the business in hand:—

1. Consolation is the first of these: “The disciples walked in the fear of the Lord, and in the consolation of the Holy Ghost,” Acts ix. 31, Τῇ παρακλήσει τοῦ ἁγίου Πνεύματος, He is ὁ παράκλητος, and he gives παράκλησιν: from his work towards us, and in us, we have comfort and consolation. This is the first general consequent of his dispensation and work. Whenever there is mention made of comfort and consolation in the Scripture given to the saints (as there is most frequently), it is the proper consequent of the work of the Holy Ghost towards them. Comfort or consolation in general, is the setting and composing of the soul in rest and contentedness in the midst of or from troubles, by the consideration or presence of some good, wherein it is interested, outweighing the evil, trouble, or perplexity that it hath to wrestle withal. Where mention is made of comfort and consolation, properly so called, there is relation to trouble or perplexity; so the apostle, 2 Cor. i. 5, 6, “As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.” Suffering and consolation are opposed, the latter being a relief against the former; so are all the promises of comfort, and all the expressions of it, in the Old and New Testament still proposed as reliefs against trouble.

And, as I said, consolation ariseth from the presence or consideration of a greater good, that outbalances the evil or perplexity wherewith we are to contend. Now, in the effects or acts of the Holy Ghost before mentioned lie all the springs of our consolation. There is no comfort but from them; and there is no trouble that we may not have comfort in and against by them. That a man may have consolation in any condition, nothing is required but the presence of a good, rendering the evil wherewith he is pressed inconsiderable to him. Suppose a man under the greatest calamity that can possibly befall a child of God, or a confluence of all those evils numbered by Paul, Rom. viii. 35, etc.; let this man have the Holy Ghost performing the works mentioned before towards him, and, in despite of all his evils, his consolations will abound. Suppose him to have a sense of the love of God all the while shed abroad in his heart, a clear witness within that he is a child of God, accepted with him, that he is sealed and marked of God for his own, that he is an heir of all the promises of God, and the like; it is impossible that man should not triumph in all his tribulations.

From this rise of all our consolation are those descriptions which we have of it in the Scripture, from its properties and adjuncts; as, —

(1.) It is abiding. Thence it is called “Everlasting consolation,” 2 Thess. ii. 16, “God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and given us everlasting consolation;” — that is, comfort that vanisheth not; and that because it riseth from everlasting things. There may be some perishing comfort given for a little season by perishing things; but abiding consolation, which we have by the Holy Ghost, is from things everlasting:— everlasting love, eternal redemption, an everlasting inheritance.

(2.) Strong. Heb. vi. 18, “That the heirs of the promise should receive strong consolation.” As strong opposition lies sometimes against us, and trouble, whose bands are strong, so is our consolation strong; it abounds, and is unconquerable, — ἰσχυρὰ παράκλησις. It is such as will make its way through all opposition; it confirms, corroborates, and strengthens the heart under any evil; it fortifies the soul, and makes it able cheerfully to undergo any thing that it is called unto: and that because it is from him who is strong.

(3.) It is precious. Hence the apostle makes it the great motive unto obedience, which he exhorts the Philippians unto, chap. ii. 1, “If there be any consolation in Christ;” — “If you set any esteem and valuation upon this precious mercy of consolation in Christ, by those comforts, let it be so with you.”

And this is the first general consequent in the hearts of believers of those great effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned. Now, this is so large and comprehensive, comprising so many of our concernments in our walking with God, that the Holy Ghost receives his denomination, as to the whole work he hath to perform for us, from hence, — he is the Comforter; as Jesus Christ, from the work of redemption and salvation, is the Redeemer and Saviour of his church. Now, as we have no consolation but from the Holy Ghost, so all his effects towards us have certainly this consequent more or less in us. Yea, I dare say, whatever we have in the kinds of the things before mentioned that brings not consolation with it, in the root at least, if not in the ripe fruit, is not of the Holy Ghost. The way whereby comfort issues out from those works of his, belongs to particular cases. The fellowship we have with him consists, in no small portion of it, in the consolation we receive from him. This gives us a valuation of his love; teacheth whither to make applications in our distress, — whom to pray for, to pray to, — whom to wait upon, in perplexities.

2. Peace ariseth hence also. Rom. xv. 13, “The God of hope fill you with all peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.” The power of the Holy Ghost is not only extended to hope, but to our peace also in believing. So is it in the connection of those promises, John xiv. 26, 27, “I will give you the Comforter:” and what then? what follows that grant? “Peace,” saith he, “I leave with you; my peace I give unto you.” Nor doth Christ otherwise leave his peace, or give his peace unto them, but by bestowing the Comforter on them. The peace of Christ consists in the soul’s sense of its acceptation with God in friendship. So is Christ said to be “our peace,” Eph. ii. 14, by slaying the enmity between God and us, and in taking away the handwriting that was against us. Rom. v. 1, “Being justified by faith, we have peace with God.” A comfortable persuasion of our acceptation with God in Christ is the bottom of this peace; it inwraps deliverance from eternal wrath, hatred, curse, condemnation, — all sweetly affecting the soul and conscience.

And this is a branch from the same root with that foregoing, — a consequent of the effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned. Suppose a man chosen in the eternal love of the Father, redeemed by the blood of the Son, and justified freely by the grace of God, so that he hath a right to all the promises of the gospel; yet this person can by no reasonings nor arguings of his own heart, by no considerations of the promises themselves, nor of the love of God or grace of Christ in them, be brought to any establishment in peace, until it be produced in him as a fruit and consequent of the work of the Holy Ghost in him and towards him. “Peace” is the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. v. 22. The savour of the Spirit is “life and peace,” Rom. viii. 6. All we have is from him and by him.

3. Joy, also, is of this number. The Spirit, as was showed, is called “The oil of gladness,” Heb. i. 9. His anointing brings gladness with it, Isa. lxi. 3, “The oil of joy for mourning.” “The kingdom of God is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost,” Rom. xiv. 17; “Received the word with joy in the Holy Ghost,” 1 Thess. i. 6, — “with joy,” as Peter tells believers, “unspeakable and full of glory,” 1 Epist. i. 8. To give joy to the hearts of believers is eminently the work of the Comforter; and this he doth by the particulars before instanced in. That “rejoicing in hope of the glory of God,” mentioned Rom. v. 2, which carries the soul through any tribulation, even with glorying, hath its rise in the Spirit’s “shedding abroad the love of God in our hearts,” verse 5. Now, there are two ways whereby the Spirit worketh this joy in the hearts of believers:—

(1.) He doth it immediately by himself; without the consideration of any other acts or works of his, or the interposition of any reasonings, or deductions and conclusions. As in sanctification he is a well of water springing up in the soul, immediately exerting his efficacy and refreshment; so in consolation, he immediately works the soul and minds of men to a joyful, rejoicing, and spiritual frame, filling them with exultation and gladness; — not that this arises from our reflex consideration of the love of God, but rather gives occasion thereunto. When he so sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts, and so fills them with gladness by an immediate act and operation (as he caused John Baptist to leap for joy in the womb upon the approach of the mother of Jesus), — then doth the soul, even from hence, raise itself to a consideration of the love of God, whence joy and rejoicing doth also flow. Of this joy there is no account to be given, but that the Spirit worketh it when and how he will. He secretly infuseth and distils it into the soul, prevailing against all fears and sorrows, filling it with gladness, exultations; and sometimes with unspeakable raptures of mind.

(2.) Mediately. By his other works towards us, he gives a sense of the love of God, with our adoption and acceptation with him; and on the consideration thereof enables us to receive it. Let what hath been spoken of his operations towards us be considered, — what assurance he gives us of the love of God; what life, power, and security; what pledge of our eternal welfare, — and it will be easily perceived that he lays a sufficient foundation of this joy and gladness. Not that we are able, upon any rational consideration, deduction, or conclusion, that we can make from the things mentioned, to affect our hearts with the joy and gladness intended; it is left no less the proper work of the Spirit to do it from hence, and by the intervenience of these considerations, than to do it immediately without them. This process of producing joy in the heart, we have, Ps. xxiii. 5, 6, “Thou anointest my head with oil.” Hence is the conclusion, as in the way of exultation, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me.” Of this effect of the Comforter, see Isa. xxxv. throughout.

4. Hope, also, is an effect of those workings of the Holy Ghost in us and towards us, Rom. xv. 13. These, I say, are the general consequents of the effects of the Holy Ghost upon the hearts of believers; which, if we might consider them in their offspring, with all the branches that shoot out from them, in exultation, assurance, boldness, confidence, expectation, glorying, and the like, it would appear how far our whole communion with God is influenced by them. But I only name the heads of things, and hasten to what remains. It is the general and particular way of our communion with the Holy Ghost that should nextly ensue, but that some other considerations necessarily do here interpose themselves.

 

Chapter 5.

Some observations and inferences from discourses foregoing concerning the Spirit — The contempt of the whole administration of the Spirit by some — The vain pretence of the Spirit by others — The false spirit discovered.

This process being made, I should now show immediately, how we hold the communion proposed with the Holy Ghost, in the things laid down and manifested to contain his peculiar work towards us; but there are some miscarriages in the world in reference unto this dispensation of the Holy Ghost, both on the one hand and the other, in contempt of his true work and pretence of that which is not, that I cannot but remark in my passage: which to do shall be the business of this chapter.

Take a view, then, of the state and condition of them who, professing to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, do yet contemn and despise his Spirit, as to all its operations, gifts, graces, and dispensations to his churches and saints. Whilst Christ was in the world with his disciples, he made them no greater promise, neither in respect of their own good nor of carrying on the work which he had committed to them, than this of giving them the Holy Ghost. Him he instructeth them to pray for of the Father, as that which is needful for them, as bread for children, Luke xi. 13. Him he promiseth them, as a well of water springing up in them, for their refreshment, strengthening, and consolation unto everlasting life, John vii. 37–39; as also to carry on and accomplish the whole work of the ministry to them committed, John xvi. 8–11; with all those eminent works and privileges before mentioned. And upon his ascension, this is laid as the bottom of that glorious communication of gifts and graces in his plentiful effusion mentioned, Eph. iv. 8, 11, 12, — namely, that he had received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, Act ii. 33; and that in such an eminent manner as thereby to make the greatest and most glorious difference between the administration of the new covenant and old. Especially doth the whole work of the ministry relate to the Holy Ghost; though that be not my present business to evince. He calls men to that work, and they are separated unto him, Acts xiii. 2; he furnisheth them with gifts and abilities for that employment, 1 Cor. xii. 7–10. So that the whole religion we profess, without this administration of the Spirit, is nothing; nor is there any fruit without it of the resurrection of Christ from the dead.

This being the state of things, — that in our worship of and obedience to God, in our own consolation, sanctification, and ministerial employment, the Spirit is the principle, the life, soul, the all of the whole; yet so desperate hath been the malice of Satan, and wickedness of men, that their great endeavour hath been to shut him quite out of all gospel administrations.

First, his gifts and graces were not only decried, but almost excluded from the public worship of the church, by the imposition of an operose form of service, to be read by the minister; which to do is neither a peculiar gift of the Holy Ghost to any, nor of the ministry at all. It is marvellous to consider what pleas and pretences were invented and used by learned men, — from its antiquity, its composure and approbation by martyrs, the beauty of uniformity in the worship of God, established and pressed thereby, etc., — for the defence and maintenance of it. But the main argument they insisted on, and the chief field wherein they expatiated and laid out all their eloquence, was the vain babbling repetitions and folly of men praying by the Spirit. When once this was fallen upon, all (at least as they supposed) was carried away before them, and their adversaries rendered sufficiently ridiculous: so great is the cunning of Satan, and so unsearchable are the follies of the hearts of men. The sum of all these reasonings amounts to no more but this, — “Though the Lord Jesus Christ hath promised the Holy Ghost to be with his church to the end of the world, to fit and furnish men with gifts and abilities for the carrying on of that worship which he requires and accepteth at our hands, yet the work is not done to the purpose; the gifts he bestows are not sufficient to that end, neither as to invocation nor doctrine: and, therefore, we will not only help men by our directions, but exclude them from their exercise.” This; I say, was the sum of all, as I could undeniably evidence, were that my present business, what innumerable evils ensue on this principle, in a formal setting apart of men to the ministry who had never once “tasted of the powers of the world to come,” nor received any gifts from the Holy Ghost to that purpose; of crying up and growing in an outside pompous worship, wholly foreign to the power and simplicity of the gospel; of silencing, destroying, banishing, men whose ministry was accompanied with the evidence and demonstration of the Spirit, — I shall not need to declare. This is that I aim at, to point out the public contempt of the Holy Ghost, his gifts and graces, with their administration in the church of God, that hath been found even where the gospel hath been professed.

Again: it is a thing of most sad consideration, once to call to mind the improvement of that principle of contempt of the Spirit in private men and their ways. The name of the Spirit was grown a term of reproach. To plead for, or pretend to pray by, the Spirit, was enough to render a man the object of scorn and reproach from all sorts of men, from the pulpit to the stage. “What! you are full of the Spirit; you will pray by the Spirit; you have the gift: let us hear your nonsense;” — and yet, perhaps, these men would think themselves wronged not to be accounted Christians. Christians! yea, have not some pretending themselves to be leaders of the flock, — yea, mounted a storey or two above their brethren, and claiming a rule and government over them, — made it their business to scoff at and reproach the gifts of the Spirit of God? And if this were the frame of their spirit, what might be expected from others of professed profaneness? It is not imaginable to what height of blasphemy the process in this kind amounted. The Lord grant there be nothing of this cursed leaven still remaining amongst us! Some bleatings of ill importance359 are sometimes heard. Is this the fellowship of the Holy Ghost that believers are called unto? Is this the due entertainment of him whom our Saviour promised to send for the supply of his bodily absence, so as we might be no losers thereby? Is it not enough that men should be contented with such a stupid blindness, as, being called Christians, to look no farther for their comfort and consolation than moral considerations common to heathens would lead them, when one infinitely holy and blessed person of the Trinity hath taken this office upon him to be our comforter, but they must oppose and despise him also? Nothing more discovers how few there are in the world that have interest in that blessed name whereby we are all called. But this is no place to pursue this discourse. The aim of this discourse is, to evince the folly and madness of men in general, who profess to own the gospel of Christ, and yet contemn and despise his Spirit, in whomsoever he is manifested. Let us be zealous of the gifts of the Spirit, not envious at them.

From what hath been discoursed we may also try the spirits that are gone abroad in the world, and which have been exercising themselves, at several seasons, ever since the ascension of Christ. The iniquity of the generation that is past and passing away lay in open, cursed opposition to the Holy Ghost. God hath been above them, wherein they behaved themselves presumptuously. Satan, whose design, as he is god of this world, is to be uppermost, not to dwell wholly in any form cast down by the providence of God, hath now transformed himself into an angel of light; and he will pretend the Spirit also and only. But there are “seducing spirits,” 1 Tim. iv. 1; and we have a “command not to believe every spirit, but try the spirits,” 1 John iv. 1; and the reason added is, “Because many false prophets are gone out into the world;” — that is, men pretending to the revelation of new doctrines by the Spirit; whose deceits in the first church Paul intimateth, 2 Thess. ii. 2; calling on men not to be “shaken in mind by spirit.” The truth is, the spirits of these days are so gross, that a man of a very easy discerning may find them out and yet their delusion so strong, that not a few are deceived. This is one thing that lies evident to every eye, — that, according to his wonted course, Satan, with his delusions, is run into an extreme to his former actings.

Not long since, his great design, as I manifested, was to cry up ordinances without the Spirit, casting all the reproach that he could upon him; — now, to cry up a spirit without and against ordinances, casting all reproach and contempt possible upon them. Then, he would have a ministry without the Spirit; — now, a Spirit without a ministry. Then, the reading of the word might suffice, without either preaching or praying by the Spirit, — now, the Spirit is enough, without reading or studying the word at all. Then, he allowed a literal embracing of what Christ had done in the flesh; — now, he talks of Christ in the Spirit only, and denies him to be come in the flesh, — the proper character of the false spirit we are warned of, 1 John iv. 1. Now, because it is most certain that the Spirit which we are to hear and embrace is the Spirit promised by Christ (which is so clear, that him the Montanists’ paraclete, yea, and Mohammed, pretended himself to be, and those of our days affirm, who pretend the same), let us briefly try them by some of the effects mentioned, which Christ hath promised to give the Holy Ghost for:—

The first general effect, as was observed, was this, — that he should bring to remembrance the things that Christ spake, for our guidance and consolation. This was to he the work of the Holy Ghost towards the apostles, who were to be the penmen of the Scriptures: this is to be his work towards believers to the end of the world. Now, the things that Christ hath spoken and done are “written that we might believe, and believing, have life through his name,” John xx. 31; they are written in the Scripture. This, then, is the work of the Spirit which Christ hath promised; — he shall bring to our remembrance, and give us understanding of the words of Christ in the Scripture, for our guidance and consolation. Is this, now, the work of the spirit which is abroad in the world, and perverteth many? Nothing less. His business is, to decry the things that Christ hath spoken which are written in the word; to pretend new revelations of his own; to lead men from the written word, wherein the whole work of God and all the promises of Christ are recorded.

Again: the work of the Spirit promised by Christ is to glorify him: “He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you,” John xvi. 14. Him who was to suffer at Jerusalem, who then spake to his disciples, it was to make him glorious, honourable, and of high esteem in the hearts of believers; and that by showing his things (his love, kindness, grace, and purchase) unto them. This is the work of the Spirit. The work of the spirit that is gone abroad, is to glorify itself, to decry and render contemptible Christ that suffered for us, under the name of a Christ without us; which it slights and despiseth, and that professedly. Its own glory, its own honour, is all that it aims at; wholly inverting the order of the divine dispensations. The fountain of all being and lying in the Father’s love, the Son came to glorify the Father. He still says, “I seek not mine own glory, but the glory of him that sent me.” The Son having carried on the work of redemption, was now to be glorified with the Father. So he prays that it might be, John xvii. 1, “The hour is come, glorify thy Son;” and that with the glory which he had before the world was, when his joint counsel was in the carrying on the Father’s love. Wherefore the Holy Ghost is sent, and his work is to glorify the Son. But now, as I said, we have a spirit come forth whose whole business is to glorify himself; whereby we may easily know whence he is.

Furthermore: the Holy Ghost sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts, as was declared, and thence fills them with joy, peace, and hope; quieting and refreshing the hearts of them in whom he dwells; giving them liberty and rest, confidence, and the boldness of children. This spirit whereof men now boast is a spirit of bondage, whose utmost work is to make men quake and tremble; casting them into an un-son-like frame of spirit, driving them up and down with horror and bondage, and drinking up their very natural spirits, and making their whole man wither away. There is scarce any one thing that more evidently manifesteth the spirit whereby some are now acted not to be the Comforter promised by Christ, than this, — that he is a spirit of bondage and slavery in them in whom he is, and a spirit of cruelty and reproach towards others; in a direct opposition to the Holy Ghost in believers, and all the ends and purposes for which, as a spirit of adoption and consolation, he is bestowed on them.

To give one instance more: the Holy Ghost bestowed on believers is a Spirit of prayer and supplication; as was manifested. The spirit wherewith we have to do, pretends the carrying men above such low and contemptible means of communion with God. In a word, it were a very easy and facile task, to pass through all of the eminent effects of the Holy Ghost in and towards believers, and to manifest that the pretending spirit of our days comes in a direct opposition and contradiction to every one of them. Thus hath Satan passed from one extreme to another, — from a bitter, wretched opposition to the Spirit of Christ, unto a cursed pretending to the Spirit; still to the same end and purpose.

I might give sundry other instances of the contempt or abuse of the dispensation of the Spirit. Those mentioned are the extremes whereunto all other are or may be reduced; and I will not farther divert from that which lies directly in my aim.

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359 Importance, is an obsolete sense of the word, import or meaning. — Ed.

Chapter 6.

Of particular communion with the Holy Ghost — Of preparation thereunto — Valuation of the benefits we receive by him — What it is he comforts us in and against; wherewith; how.

The way being thus made plain for us, I come to show how we hold particular communion with the Holy Ghost, as he is promised of Christ to be our comforter, and as working out our consolation by the means formerly insisted on. Now, the first thing I shall do herein, is the proposal of that which may be some preparation to the duty under consideration; and this by leading the souls of believers to a due valuation of this work of his towards us, whence he is called our Comforter.

To raise up our hearts to this frame, and fit us for the duty intended, let us consider these three things:—

First, What it is he comforts us against.

Secondly, Wherewith he comforts us.

Thirdly, The principle of all his actings and operations in us for our consolation.

First. There are but three things in the whole course of our pilgrimage that the consolations of the Holy Ghost are useful and necessary in:—

1. In our afflictions. Affliction is part of the provision that God hath made in his house for his children, Heb. xii. 5, 6. The great variety of its causes, means, uses, and effects, is generally known. There is a measure of them appointed for every one. To be wholly without them is a temptation; and so in some measure an affliction. That which I am to speak unto is, that in all our afflictions we need the consolations of the Holy Ghost. It is the nature of man to relieve himself, when he is entangled, by all ways and means. According as men’s natural spirits are, so do they manage themselves under pressures. “The spirit of a man will bear his infirmity;” at least, will struggle with it.

There are two great evils, one of which doth generally seize on men under their afflictions, and keep them from a due management of them. The apostle mentioneth them both, Heb. xii. 5, Μὴ ὀλιγώρει παιδείας Κυρίου, μηδὲ ἐκλύου, ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ ἐλεγχόμενος, — “Despise not the chastisement of the Lord; neither faint when thou art reproved.” One of these extremes do men usually fall into; either they despise the Lord’s correction, or sink under it.

(1.) Men despise it. They account that which befalls them to be a light or common thing; they take no notice of God in it; they can shift with it well enough: they look on instruments, second causes; provide for their own defence and vindication with little regard to God or his hand in their affliction. And the ground of this is, because they take in succours, in their trouble, that God will not mix his grace withal; they fix on other remedies than what he hath appointed, and utterly lose all the benefits and advantage of their affliction. And so shall every man do that relieves himself from any thing but the consolations of the Holy Ghost.

(2.) Men faint and sink under their trials and afflictions; which the apostle farther reproves, verse 12. The first despise the assistance of the Holy Ghost through pride of heart; the latter refuse it through dejectedness of spirit, and sink under the weight of their troubles. And who, almost, is there that offends not on one of these hands? Had we not learned to count light of the chastisements of the Lord, and to take little notice of his dealings with us, we should find the season of our afflictions to comprise no small portion of our pilgrimage.

Now, there is no due management of our souls under any affliction, so that God may have the glory of it, and ourselves any spiritual benefit or improvement thereby, but by the consolations of the Holy Ghost. All that our Saviour promiseth his disciples, when he tells them of the great trials and tribulations they were to undergo, is, “I will send you the Spirit, the Comforter; he shall give you peace in me, when in the world you shall have trouble. He shall guide and direct, and keep you in all your trials.” And so, the apostle tells us, it came to pass, 2 Cor. i. 4–6; yea, and this, under the greatest afflictions, will carry the soul to the highest joy, peace, rest, and contentment. So the same apostle, Rom. v. 3, “We glory in tribulations.” It is a great expression. He had said before, “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” verse 2. Yea, but what if manifold afflictions and tribulations befall us? “Why, even in them also we glory,” saith he; “we glory in our tribulations.” But whence is it that our spirits are so borne up to a due management of afflictions, as to glory in them in the Lord? He tells us, verse 5, it is from the “shedding abroad of the love of God in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.” And thence are believers said to “receive the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost,” 1 Thess. i. 6; and to “take joyfully the spoiling of their goods.” This is that I aim at:— there is no management nor improvement of any affliction, but merely and solely by the consolations of the Holy Ghost. Is it, then, of any esteem or value unto you that you lose not all your trials, temptations, and affliction? — learn to value that whereby alone they are rendered useful.

2. Sin is the second burden of our lives, and much the greatest. Unto this is this consolation peculiarly suited. So Heb. vi. 17, 18, an allusion is taken from the manslayer under the law, who, having killed a man unawares, and brought the guilt of his blood upon himself, fled with speed for his deliverance to the city of refuge. Our great and only refuge from the guilt of sin is the Lord Jesus Christ; in our flying to him, doth the Spirit administer consolation to us. A sense of sin fills the heart with troubles and disquietness; it is the Holy Ghost which gives us peace in Christ; — that gives an apprehension of wrath; the Holy Ghost sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts; — from thence doth Satan and the law accuse us, as objects of God’s hatred; the Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God. There is not any one engine or instrument that sin useth or sets up against our peace, but one effect or other of the Holy Ghost towards us is suited and fitted to the casting of it down.

3. In the whole course of our obedience are his consolations necessary also, that we may go through with it cheerfully, willingly, patiently to the end. This will afterward be more fully discovered, as to particulars, when I come to give directions for our communion with this blessed Comforter. In a word, in all the concernments of this life, and in our whole expectation of another, we stand in need of the consolations of the Holy Ghost.

Without them, we shall either despise afflictions or faint under them, and God be neglected as to his intendments in them.

Without them, sin will either harden us to a contempt of it, or cast us down to a neglect of the remedies graciously provided against it.

Without them, duties will either puff us up with pride, or leave us without that sweetness which is in new obedience.

Without them, prosperity will make us carnal, sensual, and to take up our contentment in these things, and utterly weaken us for the trials of adversity.

Without them, the comforts of our relations will separate us from God, and the loss of them make our hearts as Nabal’s.

Without them, the calamity of the church will overwhelm us, and the prosperity of the church will not concern us.

Without them, we shall have wisdom for no work, peace in no condition, strength for no duty, success in no trial, joy in no state, — no comfort in life, no light in death.

Now, our afflictions, our sins, and our obedience, with the attendancies of them respectively, are the great concernments of our lives. What we are in reference unto God is comprised in them, and the due management of them, with their contraries, which come under the same rule; through all these doth there run a line of consolation from the Holy Ghost, that gives us a joyful issue throughout. How sad is the condition of poor souls destitute of these consolations. What poor shifts are they forced to betake themselves unto! what giants have they to encounter in their own strength! and whether they are conquered or seem to conquer, they have nothing but the misery of their trials!

The second thing considerable, to teach us to put a due valuation on the consolations of the Holy Ghost, is the matter of them, or that wherewith he comforts us. Now, this may be referred to the two heads that I have formerly treated of, — the love of the Father, and the grace of the Son. All the consolations of the Holy Ghost consist in his acquainting us with, and communicating unto us, the love of the Father and the grace of the Son; nor is there any thing in the one or the other but he makes it a matter of consolation to us: so that, indeed, we have our communion with the Father in his love, and the Son in his grace, by the operation of the Holy Ghost.

1. He communicates to us, and acquaints us with, the love of the Father. Having informed his disciples with that ground and foundation of their consolation which by the Comforter they should receive, our blessed Saviour (John xvi. 27) shuts up all in this, “The Father himself loveth you.” This is that which the Comforter is given to acquaint us withal, — even that God is the Father, and that he loves us. In particular, that the Father, the first person in the Trinity, considered so distinctly, loves us. On this account is he said so often to come forth from the Father, because he comes in pursuit of his love, and to acquaint the hearts of believers therewith, that they may be comforted and established. By persuading us of the eternal and unchangeable love of the Father, he fills us with consolation. And, indeed, all the effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned have their tendency this way. Of this love and its transcendent excellency you heard at large before. Whatever is desirable in it is thus communicated to us by the Holy Ghost. A sense of this is able not only to relieve us, but to make us in every condition to rejoice with joy unspeakable and glorious. It is not with an increase of corn, and wine, and oil, but with the shining of the countenance of God upon us, that he comforts our souls, Ps. iv. 6, 7. “The world hateth me,” may such a soul as hath the Spirit say; “but my Father loves me. Men despise me as a hypocrite; but my Father loves me as a child. I am poor in this world; but I have a rich inheritance in the love of my Father. I am straitened in all things; but there is bread enough in my Father’s house. I mourn in secret under the power of my lusts and sin, where no eyes see me; but the Father sees me, and is full of compassion. With a sense of his kindness, which is better than life, I rejoice in tribulation, glory in affliction, triumph as a conqueror. Though I am killed all the day long, all my sorrows have a bottom that may be fathomed, — my trials, bounds that may be compassed; but the breadth, and depth, and height of the love of the Father, who can express?” I might render glorious this way of the Spirit’s comforting us with the love of the Father, by comparing it with all other causes and means of joy and consolation whatever; and so discover their emptiness, its fulness, — their nothingness, its being all; as also by revealing the properties of it before rehearsed.

2. Again: he doth it by communicating to us, and acquainting us with, the grace of Christ, — all the fruits of his purchase, all the desirableness of his person, as we are interested in him. The grace of Christ, as I formerly discoursed of at large, is referred to two heads, — the grace of his person, and of his office and work. By both them doth the Holy Ghost administer consolation to us, John xvi. 14. He glorifies Christ by revealing his excellencies and desirableness to believers, as the “chiefest of ten thousand, — altogether lovely,” and then he shows them of the things of Christ, — his love, grace, all the fruits of his death, suffering, resurrection, and intercession: and with these supports their hearts and souls. And here, whatever is of refreshment in the pardon of sin, deliverance from the curse, and wrath to come, in justification and adoption, with the innumerable privileges attending them in the hope of glory given unto us, comes in on this head of account.

Thirdly. The principle and fountain of all his actings for our consolation comes next under consideration, to the same end; and this leads us a little nearer to the communion intended to be directed in. Now, this is his own great love and infinite condescension. He willingly proceedeth or comes forth from the Father to be our comforter. He knew what we were, and what we could do, and what would be our dealings with him, — he knew we would grieve him, provoke him, quench his motions, defile his dwelling-place; and yet he would come to be our comforter. Want of a due consideration of this great love of the Holy Ghost weakens all the principles of our obedience. Did this dwell and abide upon our hearts, what a dear valuation must we needs put upon all his operations and actings towards us! Nothing, indeed, is valuable but what comes from love and good-will. This is the way the Scripture takes to raise up our hearts to a right and due estimation of our redemption by Jesus Christ. It tells us that he did it freely; that of his own will he hath laid down his life; that he did it out of love.360 “In this was manifested the love of God, that he laid down his life for us;” “He loved us, and gave himself for us;” “He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” Hereunto it adds our state and condition, considered as he undertook for us, — sinners, enemies, dead, alienated; then he loved us, and died for us, and washed us with his blood. May we not hence, also, have a valuation of the dispensation of the Spirit for our consolation? He proceeds to that end from the Father; he distributes as he will, works as he pleaseth. And what are we, towards whom he carrieth on this work? Froward, perverse, unthankful; grieving, vexing, provoking him. Yet in his love and tenderness doth he continue to do us good. Let us by faith consider this love of the Holy Ghost. It is the head and source of all the communion we have with him in this life. This is, as I said, spoken only to prepare our hearts to the communion proposed; and what a little portion is it of what might be spoken! How might all these considerations be aggravated! what a numberless number might be added! It suffices that, from what is spoken, it appears that the work in hand is amongst the greatest duties and most excellent privileges of the gospel.

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360 1 John iv. 9, iii. 16; Gal. ii. 20; Rev. i. 5.

Chapter 7.

The general ways of the saints’ acting in communion with the Holy Ghost.

As in the account given of the actings of the Holy Ghost in us, we manifested first the general adjuncts of his actings, or the manner thereof; so now, in the description of the returns of our souls to him, I shall, in the first place, propose the general actings of faith in reference to this work of the Holy Ghost, and then descend unto particulars. Now, there are three general ways of the soul’s deportment in this communion, expressed all negatively in the Scripture, but all including positive duties. Now these are, — First, Not to grieve him. Secondly, Not to quench his motions. Thirdly, Not to resist him.

There are three things considerable in the Holy Ghost:— 1. His person, as dwelling in us; 2. His actings by grace, or his motions; 3. His working in the ordinances of the word, and the sacraments; — all for the same end and purpose.

To these three are the three cautions before suited:— 1. Not to grieve him, in respect of his person dwelling in us. 2. Not to quench him, in respect of the actings and motions of his grace. 3. Not to resist him, in respect of the ordinances of Christ, and his gifts for their administration. Now, because the whole general duty of believers, in their communion with the Holy Ghost, is comprised in these three things, I shall handle them severally:—

1. The first caution concerns his person immediately, as dwelling in us. It is given, Eph. iv. 30, “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.” There is a complaint, Isa. lxiii. 10, of them who vexed or grieved the Spirit of God; and from thence doth this caution seem to be taken. That it is the person of the Holy Ghost which is here intended, is evident, —

(1.) From the phrase, or manner of expression, with a double article, Τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον, — “That Holy Spirit;” and also, —

(2.) From the work assigned to him in the following words, of “sealing to the day of redemption;” which, as hath been manifested, is the work of the Holy Ghost. Now, whereas this may be understood of the Spirit in others, or in ourselves, it is evident that the apostle intends it in the latter sense, by his addition of that signal and eminent privilege which we ourselves enjoy by him: he seals us to the day of redemption.

Let us see, then, the tendency of this expression, as comprising the first general rule of our communion with the Holy Ghost, — “Grieve not the Spirit.”

The term of “grieving,” or affecting with sorrow, may be considered either actively, in respect of the persons grieving; or passively, in respect of the persons grieved. In the latter sense the expression is metaphorical. The Spirit cannot be grieved, or affected with sorrow; which infers alteration, disappointment, weakness, — all incompatible with his infinite perfections; yet men may actively do that which is fit and able to grieve any one that stands affected towards them as doth the Holy Ghost. If he be not grieved, it is no thanks to us, but to his own unchangeable nature. So that there are two things denoted in this expression:—

First, That the Holy Ghost is affected towards us as one that is loving, careful, tender, concerned in our good and well-doing; and therefore upon our miscarriages is said to be grieved: as a good friend of a kind and loving nature is apt to be on the miscarriage of him whom he doth affect. And this is that we are principally to regard in this caution, as the ground and foundation of it, — the love, kindness, and tenderness of the Holy Ghost unto us. “Grieve him not.”

Secondly, That we may do those things that are proper to grieve him, though he be not passively grieved; our sin being no less therein than if he were grieved as we are. Now, how this is done, how the Spirit is grieved, the apostle declareth in the contexture of that discourse, verses 21–24. He presseth to a progress in sanctification, and all the fruits of regeneration, verses 25–29. He dehorts from sundry particular evils that were contrary thereto, and then gives the general enforcement of the one and the other, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God;” that is, by coming short of that universal sanctification which our planting into Christ doth require. The positive duty included in this caution, of not grieving the Holy Spirit, is this, — that we pursue universal holiness with regard unto, and upon the account of, the love, kindness, and tenderness, of the Holy Ghost. This is the foundation of our communion we have in general. When the soul considers the love, kindness, and tenderness of the Holy Ghost unto him; when he considers all the fruits and acts of his love and good-will towards him; and on that account, and under that consideration, because he is so concerned in our ways and walkings, to abstain from evils, and to walk in all duties of holiness, — this is to have communion with him. This consideration, that the Holy Ghost, who is our comforter, is delighted with our obedience, grieved at our evils and follies, being made a continual motive to, and reason of, our close walking with God in all holiness, is, I say, the first general way of our communion with him.

Here let us fix a little. We lose both the power and pleasure of our obedience for want of this consideration. We see on what account the Holy Ghost undertakes to be our comforter, by what ways and means he performs that office towards us; what an unworthy thing it is to grieve him, who comes to us on purpose to give us consolation! Let the soul, in the whole course of its obedience, exercise itself by faith to thoughts hereof, and lay due weight upon it: “The Holy Ghost, in his infinite love and kindness towards me, hath condescended to be my comforter; he doth it willingly, freely, powerfully. What have I received from him! in the multitude of my perplexities how hath he refreshed my soul! Can I live one day without his consolations? And shall I be regardless of him in that wherein he is concerned? Shall I grieve him by negligence, sin, and folly? Shall not his love constrain me to walk before him to all well-pleasing?” So have we in general fellowship with him.

2. The second is that of 1 Thess. v. 19, “Quench not the Spirit.” There are various thoughts about the sense of these words. “The Spirit in others, that is, their spiritual gifts,” say some; but then it falls in with what follows, verse 20, “Despise not prophesying.” “The light that God hath set up in our hearts,” say others; but where is that called absolutely Τὸ Πνεῦμα, — “The Spirit?” It is the Holy Ghost himself that is here intended, not immediately, in respect of his person (in which regard he is said to be grieved, which is a personal affection); but in respect of his motions, actings, and operations. The Holy Ghost was typified by the fire that was always kept alive on the altar. He is also called a “Spirit of burning.” The reasons of that allusion are manifold; not now to be insisted on. Now, the opposition that is made to fire in its actings, is by quenching. Hence the opposition made to the actings of the Holy Ghost are called “quenching of the Spirit,” as some kind of wet wood will do, when it is cast into the fire. Thence are we said, in pursuance of the same metaphor, ἀναζωπυρεῖν, — to “stir up with new fire,” the gifts that are in us. The Holy Ghost is striving with us, acting in us, moving variously for our growth in grace, and bringing forth fruit meet for the principle he hath endued us withal. “Take heed,” saith the apostle, “lest, by the power of your lusts and temptations, you attend not to his workings, but hinder him in his good-will towards you; that is, what in you lieth.”

This, then, is the second general rule for our communion with the Holy Ghost. It respects his gracious operations in us and by us. There are several and various ways whereby the Holy Ghost is said to act, exert, and put forth his power in us; partly by moving upon and stirring up the grace we have received; partly by new supplies of grace from Jesus Christ, falling in with occasions for their exercise, raising good motions immediately or occasionally within us; — all tending to our furtherance in obedience and walking with God. All these are we carefully to observe and take notice of, — consider the fountain whence they come, and the end which they lead us unto. Hence have we communion with the Holy Ghost, when we can consider him by faith as the immediate author of all supplies, assistance, and the whole relief we have by grace; of all good actings, risings, motions in our hearts; of all strivings and contending against sin. When we consider, I say, all these his actings and workings in their tendency to our consolation, and on that account are careful and watchful to improve them all to the end aimed at, as coming from him who is so loving, and kind, and tender to us, we have communion with him.

This is that which is intended, — every gracious acting of the blessed Spirit in and towards our souls, is constantly by faith to be considered as coming from him in a peculiar manner; his mind, his goodwill is to be observed therein. Hence, care and diligence for the improvement of every motion of his will arise; thence reverence of his presence with us, with due spiritual regard to his holiness, doth ensue, and our souls are wonted to intercourse with him.

3. The third caution concerns him and his work, in the dispensation of that great ordinance of the word. Stephen tells the Jews, Acts vii. 51, that they “resisted the Holy Ghost.” How did they do it? Why, as their fathers did it: “As your fathers did, so do ye.” How did their fathers resist the Holy Ghost? Verse 52, “They persecuted the prophets, and slew them;” their opposition to the prophets in preaching the gospel, or their showing of the coming of the Just One, was their resisting of the Holy Ghost. Now, the Holy Ghost is said to be resisted in the contempt of the preaching of the word; because the gift of preaching of it is from him. 361“The manifestation of the Spirit is given to profit.” Hence, when our Saviour promiseth the Spirit to his disciples, to be present with them for the conviction of the world, he tells them he will give them a mouth and wisdom, which their adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist, Luke xxi. 15; concerning which, in the accomplishment of it in Stephen, it is said that they “were not able to resist the Spirit by which he spake,” Acts vi. 10. The Holy Ghost then setting up a ministry in the church, separating men thereto, furnishing them with gifts and abilities for the dispensation of the word; the not obeying of that word, opposing of it, not falling down before it, is called resisting of the Holy Ghost. This, in the examples of the wickedness of others, are we cautioned against. And this inwraps the third general rule of our communion with the Holy Ghost:— in the dispensation of the word of the gospel, the authority, wisdom, and goodness of the Holy Ghost, in furnishing men with gifts for that end and purpose, and his presence with them, as to the virtue thereof, is to be eyed, and subjection given unto it on that account. On this reason, I say, on this ground, is obedience to be yielded to the word, in the ministerial dispensation thereof, — because the Holy Ghost, and he alone, doth furnish with gifts to that end and purpose. When this consideration causeth us to fall low before the word, then have we communion with the Holy Ghost in that ordinance. But this is commonly spoken unto.

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361 1 Cor. xii. 7.

Chapter 8.

Particular directions for communion with the Holy Ghost.

Before I name particular directions for our communion with the Holy Ghost, I must premise some cautions, as far as the directions to be given, concerning his worship.

First. The divine nature is the reason and cause of all worship; so that it is impossible to worship any one person, and not worship the whole Trinity. It is, and that not without ground, denied by the schoolmen, that the formal reason and object of divine worship is in the persons precisely considered; that is, under the formally-constitutive reason of their personality, which is their relation to each other. But this belongs to the divine nature and essence, and to their distinct persons as they are identified with the essence itself. Hence is that way of praying to the Trinity, by the repetition of the same petition to the several persons (as in the Litany), groundless, if not impious. It supposeth that one person is worshipped, and not another, when each person is worshipped as God, and each person is so; — as though we first should desire one thing of the Father, and be heard and granted by him, then ask the same thing of the Son, and so of the Holy Ghost; and so act as to the same thing three distinct acts of worship, and expect to be heard and have the same thing granted three times distinctly, when all the works of the Trinity, ad extra, are indivisible.

The proper and peculiar object of divine worship and invocation is the essence of God, in its infinite excellency, dignity, majesty, and its causality, as the first sovereign cause of all things. Now, this is common to all the three persons, and is proper to each of them; not formally as a person, but as God blessed for ever. All adoration respects that which is common to all; so that in each act of adoration and worship, all are adored and worshipped. The creatures worship their Creator; and a man, him in whose image he was created, — namely, him “from whom descendeth every good and perfect gift:” all this describing God as God. Hence, —

Secondly. When we begin our prayers to God the Father, and end them in the name of Jesus Christ, yet the Son is no less invocated and worshipped in the beginning than the Father, though he be peculiarly mentioned as mediator in the close, — not as Son to himself, but as mediator to the whole Trinity, or God in Trinity. But in the invocation of God the Father we invocate every person; because we invocate the Father as God, every person being so.

Thirdly. In that heavenly directory which we have, Eph. ii. 18, this whole business is declared. Our access in our worship is said to be “to the Father;” and this “through Christ,” or his mediation; “by the Spirit,” or his assistance. Here is a distinction of the persons, as to their operations, but not at all as to their being the object of our worship. For the Son and the Holy Ghost are no less worshipped in our access to God than the Father himself; only, the grace of the Father, which we obtain by the mediation of the Son and the assistance of the Spirit, is that which we draw nigh to God for. So that when, by the distinct dispensation of the Trinity, and every person, we are led to worship (that is, to act faith on or invocate) any person, we do herein worship the whole Trinity; and every person, by what name soever, of Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, we invocate him. So that this is to be observed in this whole matter, — that when any work of the Holy Ghost (or any other person), which is appropriated to him (we never exclude the concurrence of other persons), draws us to the worship of him, yet he is not worshipped exclusively, but the whole Godhead is worshipped.

Fourthly. These cautions being premised, I say that we are distinctly to worship the Holy Ghost. As it is in the case of faith in respect of the Father and the Son, John xiv. 1, “Believe in God, believe also in me,” — this extends itself no less to the Holy Ghost. Christ called the disciples for the acting of faith on him, he being upon the accomplishment of the great work of his mediation; and the Holy Ghost, now carrying on the work of his delegation, requireth the same. And to the same purpose are their distinct operations mentioned: “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” Now, as the formal reason of the worship of the Son is not his mediation, but his being God (his mediation being a powerful motive thereto), so the formal reason of our worshipping the Holy Ghost is not his being our comforter, but his being God; yet his being our comforter is a powerful motive thereunto.

This is the sum of the first direction:— the grace, actings, love, effects of the Holy Ghost, as he is our comforter, ought to stir us up and provoke us to love, worship, believe in, and invocate him; — though all this, being directed to him as God, is no less directed, on that account, to the other persons than to him. Only by the fruits of his love towards us are we stirred up unto it.

These things being presupposed, let the saints learn to act faith distinctly on the Holy Ghost, as the immediate efficient cause of all the good things mentioned; — faith, I say, to believe in him; and faith in all things to believe him and to yield obedience to him; faith, not imagination. The distinction of the persons in the Trinity is not to be fancied, but believed. So, then, the Scripture so fully, frequently, clearly, distinctly ascribing the things we have been speaking of to the immediate efficiency of the Holy Ghost, faith closes with him in the truth revealed, and peculiarly regards him, worships him, serves him, waits for him, prayeth to him, praiseth him; — all these things, I say, the saints do in faith. The person of the Holy Ghost, revealing itself in these operations and effects, is the peculiar object of our worship. Therefore, when he ought to be peculiarly honoured, and is not, he is peculiarly sinned against. Acts v. 3, Ananias is said to lie to the Holy Ghost, — not to God; which being taken essentially, would denote the whole Trinity, but peculiarly to the Holy Ghost. Him he was to have honoured peculiarly in that especial gift of his which he made profession of; — not doing it, he sinned peculiarly against him. But this must be a little farther branched into particulars:—

Let us, then, lay weight on every effect of the Holy Ghost in any of the particulars before mentioned, on this account, that they are acts of his love and power towards us. This faith will do, that takes notice of his kindness in all things. Frequently he performs, in sundry particulars, the office of a comforter towards us, and we are not thoroughly comforted, — we take no notice at all of what he doth. Then is he grieved. Of those who do receive and own the consolation he tenders and administers, how few are there that consider him as the comforter, and rejoice in him as they ought! Upon every work of consolation that the believer receives, this ought his faith to resolve upon, — “This is from the Holy Ghost; he is the Comforter, the God of all consolation; I know there is no joy, peace, hope, nor comfort, but what he works, gives, and bestows; and, that he might give me this consolation, he hath willingly condescended to this office of a comforter. His love was in it, and on that account doth he continue it. Also, he is sent by the Father and Son for that end and purpose. By this means come I to be partaker of my joy, — it is in the Holy Ghost; of consolation, — he is the Comforter. What price, now, shall I set upon his love! how shall I value the mercy that I have received!”

This, I say, is applicable to every particular effect of the Holy Ghost towards us, and herein have we communion and fellowship with him, as was in part discovered in our handling the particulars. Doth he shed abroad the love of God in our hearts? doth he witness unto our adoption? The soul considers his presence, ponders his love, his condescension, goodness, and kindness; is filled with reverence of him, and cares [takes care] not to grieve him, and labours to preserve his temple, his habitation, pure and holy.

Again: our communion with him causeth in us returning praise, and thanks, and honour, and glory, and blessing to him, on the account of the mercies and privileges which we receive from him; which are many. Herein consists our next direction. So do we with the Son of God on the account of our redemption: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever,” Rev. i. 5, 6. And are not the like praises and blessings due to him by whom the work of redemption is made effectual to us? who with no less infinite love undertook our consolation than the Son our redemption. When we feel our hearts warmed with joy, supported in peace, established in our obedience, let us ascribe to him the praise that is due to him, bless his name, and rejoice in him.

And this glorifying of the Holy Ghost in thanksgivings, on a spiritual sense of his consolations, is no small part of our communion with him. Considering his free engagement in this work, his coming forth from the Father to this purpose, his mission by the Son, and condescension therein, his love and kindness, the soul of a believer is poured out in thankful praises to him, and is sweetly affected with the duty. There is no duty that leaves a more heavenly savour in the soul than this doth.

Also, in our prayers to him for the carrying on the work of our consolation, which he hath undertaken, lies our communion with him. John prays for grace and peace from the seven Spirits that are before the throne, or the Holy Ghost, whose operations are perfect and complete. This part of his worship is expressly mentioned frequently in Scripture; and all others do necessarily attend it. Let the saints consider what need they stand in of these effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned, with many such others as might be insisted on; weigh all the privileges which we are made partakers of; remember that he distributes them as he will, that he hath the sovereign disposal of them; and they will be prepared for this duty.

How and in what sense it is to be performed hath been already declared: what is the formal reason of this worship, and ultimate object of it, I have also manifested. In the duty itself is put forth no small part of the life, efficacy, and vigour of faith; and we come short of that enlargedness of spirit in dealing with God, and are straitened from walking in the breadth of his ways, which we are called unto, if we learn not ourselves to meet him with his worship in every way he is pleased to communicate himself unto us. In these things he doth so in the person of the Holy Ghost. In that person do we meet him, his love, grace, and authority, by our prayers and supplications.

Again: consider him as he condescends to this delegation of the Father and the Son to be our comforter, and ask him daily of the Father in the name of Jesus Christ. This is the daily work of believers. They look upon, and by faith consider, the Holy Ghost as promised to be sent. In this promise, they know, lies all their grace, peace, mercy, joy, and hope. For by him so promised, and him alone, are these things communicated to them. If, therefore, our life to God, or the joy of that life, be considerable, in this we are to abound, — to ask him of the Father, as children do of their parents daily bread. And as, in this asking and receiving of the Holy Ghost, we have communion with the Father in his love, whence he is sent; and with the Son in his grace, whereby he is obtained for us; so with himself, on the account of his voluntary condescension to this dispensation. Every request for the Holy Ghost implies our closing with all these. O the riches of the grace of God!

Humbling ourselves for our miscarriages in reference to him is another part of our communion with him. That we have grieved him as to his person, quenched him as to the motion of his grace, or resisted him in his ordinances, is to be mourned for; as hath been declared. Let our souls be humbled before him on this account. This one considerable ingredient of godly sorrow, and the thoughts of it, are as suitable to the affecting of our hearts with humiliation, and indignation against sin, as any other whatever. I might proceed in the like considerations; as also make application of them to the particular effects of the Holy Ghost enumerated; but my design is only to point out the heads of things, and to leave them to the improvement of others.

I shall shut up this whole discourse with some considerations of the sad estate and condition of men not interested in this promise of the Spirit, nor made partakers of his consolation:—

1. They have no true consolation or comfort, be their estate and condition what it will. Are they under affliction or in trouble? — they must bear their own burden; and how much too weak they are for it, if God be pleased to lay on his hand with more weight than ordinary, is easily known. Men may have stoutness of spirit, and put on great resolutions to wrestle with their troubles; but when this is merely from the natural spirit of a man, —

(1.) For the most part it is but an outside. It is done with respect to others, that they may not appear low-spirited or dejected. Their hearts are eaten up and devoured with troubles and anxiety of mind. Their thoughts are perplexed, and they are still striving, but never come to a conquest. Every new trouble, every little alteration in their trials, puts them to new vexation. It is an ungrounded resolution that bears them up, and they are easily shaken.

(2.) What is the best of their resolves and enduring? It is but a contending with God, who hath entangled them, — the struggling of a flea under a mountain. Yea, though, on outward considerations and principles, they endeavour after patience and tolerance, yet all is but a contending with God, — a striving to be quiet under that which God hath sent on purpose to disturb them. God doth not afflict men without the Spirit, to exercise their patience; but to disturb their peace and security. All their arming themselves with patience and resolution, is but to keep the hold that God will cast them out of, or else make them the nearer to ruin. This is the best of their consolation in the time of their trouble.

(3.) If they do promise themselves any thing of the care of God towards them, and relieve themselves thereby, — as they often do, on one account or another, especially when they are driven from other holds, — all their relief is but like the dreaming of an hungry man, who supposeth that he eateth and drinketh, and is refreshed; but when he awaketh, he is empty and disappointed. So are they as to all their relief that they promise to receive from God, and the support which they seem to have from him. When they are awaked at the latter day, and see all things clearly, they will find that God was their enemy, laughing at their calamity, and mocking when their fear was on them.

So is it with them in trouble. Is it any better with them in their prosperity? This, indeed, is often great, and is marvellously described in Scripture, as to their lives, and oftentimes quiet, peaceable end. But have they any true consolation all their days? They eat, drink, sleep, and make merry, and perhaps heap up to themselves; but how little do these things make them to differ from the beasts that perish! Solomon’s advantage, to have the use and know the utmost of these things, much beyond any of the sons of men of our generation, is commonly taken notice of. The account also that he gives of them is known: “They are all vanity and vexation of spirit.” This is their consolation:— a crackling of thorns under the pot, a sudden flash and blaze, that begins but to perish. So that both adversity and prosperity slayeth them; and whether they are laughing or crying, they are still dying.

2. They have no peace, — no peace with God, nor in their own souls. I know that many of them, upon false bottoms, grounds, and expectations, do make a shift to keep things in some quietness, neither is it my business at present to discover the falseness and unsoundness of it; but this is their state. True and solid peace being an effect of the Holy Ghost in the hearts of believers (as hath been declared), they who are not made partakers of him have no such peace. They may cry, “Peace, peace,” indeed, when sudden destruction is at hand. The principles of their peace (as may be easily evinced) are, darkness or ignorance, treachery of conscience, self-righteousness, and vain hope. To these heads may all the principles of their peace be reduced; and what will these avail them in the day when the Lord shall deal with them?

3. I might say the same concerning their joy and hope; — they are false and perishing. Let them, then, consider this, who have satisfied themselves with a persuasion of their interest in the good things of the gospel, and yet have despised the Spirit of Christ. I know there are many that may pretend to him, and yet are strangers from his grace; but if they perish who in profession use him kindly, and honour him, if he dwell not in them with power, where shall they appear who oppose and affront him? The Scripture tells us, that unless the Spirit of Christ be in us, we are dead, we are reprobates, — we are none of Christ’s. Without him you can have none of those glorious effects of his towards believers before mentioned; and you are so far from inquiring whether he be in you or no, as that you are ready to deride them in whom he is. Are there none who profess the gospel, who have never once seriously inquired whether they are made partakers of the Holy Ghost or no? You that almost account it a ridiculous thing to be put upon any such question, who look on all men as vain pretenders that talk of the Spirit, the Lord awake such men to a sight of their condition before it be too late! If the Spirit dwell not in you, if he be not your Comforter, neither is God your Father, nor the Son your Advocate, nor have you any portion in the gospel. O that God would awake some poor soul to the consideration of this thing, before the neglect and contempt of the Holy Ghost come to that despising of him from which there is no recovery! that the Lord would spread before them all the folly of their hearts, that they may be ashamed and confounded, and do no more presumptuously!

A Vindication of Some Passages in a Discourse concerning Communion with God

Title Page.

A

VINDICATION

OF

SOME PASSAGES IN A DISCOURSE CONCERNING COMMUNION WITH GOD,

FROM

THE EXCEPTIONS OF WILLIAM SHERLOCK,

RECTOR OF ST GEORGE, BOTOLPH LANE

Prefatory Note.

William Sherlock, father of Dr Thomas Sherlock, an eminent bishop of London, was himself distinguished as an author, and mingled deeply in the controversies of his day. His strictures on Owen’s work on Communion with God appeared in 1674, after that work had been seventeen years before the public. It seems to have been Sherlock’s first appearance in authorship; and some of his subsequent treatises such as those on Providence and on Death afford a better specimen of his abilities. They are destitute of evangelical principle and feeling, and imbued throughout with a freezing rationalism of tone; but, nevertheless, contain some views of the Divine administration, acutely conceived and ably stated. He became rector of St George, Botolph Lane, received a prebend in St Paul’s, and was appointed Master of the Temple about 1684. His conduct at the Revolution was not straightforward, and laid him open to the reproaches of the Jacobites, who blamed him for deserting their party. There was a controversy of some importance between him and Dr South. The latter, on the ground of some expressions in the work by the former on the Trinity (1690), accused him of Tritheism. Sherlock retorted by accusing his critic of Sabellianism. He died in 1707, at the age of sixty-six.

Sherlock’s work against Owen was entitled, “A Discourse concerning the Knowledge of Jesus Christ, and on Union and Communion with Him,” etc. Owen confines himself, in his reply, to an exposure of the misrepresentations in which Sherlock had indulged. The latter, for example, sought to fix on the Puritan divine the doctrine, that the knowledge of divine things was to be obtained from the person of Christ, apart from the truth as revealed in the Scriptures. Our author successfully vindicates himself from this charge, and repudiates other sentiments equally mystical, and ascribed to him with equal injustice. The views of Sherlock, on the points at issue, have been termed, “a confused mass of Socinianized Arminianism.” Owen evinces a strength of feeling, in some parts of his “Vindication,” which may be accounted for on the ground that he resented the attack as part of a systematic effort made at this time to destroy his standing and reputation as an author. In the main, there is a dignity in his statements which contrasts well with the wayward petulance of his antagonist; and occasionally the reader will find a vein of quiet and skilful irony, in the way in which he disposes of the crude views of Sherlock.

Such was the beginning of the Communion Controversy, which soon embraced a wider range of topics, and points of more importance, than the merits of Owen’s book. Besides the original disputants, others entered the field. Robert Ferguson in 1675, wrote against Sherlock a volume entitled, “The Interest of Reason in Religion,” etc. Edward Polhill followed, in “An Answer to the Discourse of Mr William Sherlock,” etc. Vincent Alsop first displayed in this controversy his powers of wit and acumen as an author, in his “Antisozzo, or Sherlocismus Enervatus.” Henry Hickman, a man of considerable gifts, and pastor of an English congregation at Leyden, wrote the “Speculum Sherlockianum,” etc. Samuel Rollè, a nonconformist, wrote the “Prodromus, or the Character of Mr Sherlock’s Book;” and also, in the same controversy, “Justification Justified.” Thomas Danson, who had been ejected from Sibton, and author of several works against the Quakers, wrote “The Friendly Debate between Satan and Sherlock,” and afterwards he published again in defence of it. Sherlock, in 1675, replied to Owen and Ferguson in his “Defence and Continuation of the Discourse concerning the Knowledge of Jesus Christ.” He was supported by Thomas Hotchkis, Rector of Staunton, in a “Discourse concerning the Imputation of Christ’s Righteousness,” etc. The singular diligence of Mr Orme hath compiled this full list of the works published in this controversy; but he is not quite correct in affirming that it was closed by the replies of Sherlock and Hotchkis in 1675. A second part of the work by Hotchkis appeared in 1678, and Sherlock was the author of two other works, “An Answer to Thomas Danson’s scandalous pamphlet, entitled ‘A Friendly Conference,’ ” etc., which appeared in 1677, and was followed by a “Vindication of Mr Sherlock against the Cavils of Mr Danson.” — Ed.

 

A Vindication of some Passages in a Discourse concerning Communion with God

A Vindication of some Passages in a Discourse concerning Communion with God.

It is now near twenty years since I wrote and published a Discourse concerning Communion with God. Of what use and advantage it hath been to any, as to their furtherance in the design aimed at therein, is left unto them to judge by whom it hath been perused with any candid diligence; and I do know that multitudes of persons fearing God, and desiring to walk before him in sincerity, are ready, if occasion require, to give testimony unto the benefit which they have received thereby; — as I can also at any time produce the testimonies of [as] learned and holy persons, it may be, as any I know living, both in England and out of it, who, owning the truth contained in it, have highly avowed its usefulness, and are ready yet so to do. With all other persons, so far as ever I heard, it passed at the rate of a tolerable acceptation with discourses of the same kind and nature. And however any thing or passage in it might not, possibly, suit the apprehensions of some, yet, being wholly practical, designed for popular edification, without any direct engagement into things controversial, I looked for no opposition unto it or exception against it; but that it would at least be suffered to pass at that rate of allowance which is universally granted unto that sort of writings, both of ancient and modern authors. Accordingly it so fell out, and continued for many years; until some persons began to judge it their interest, and to make it their business, to cavil at my writings, and to load my person with reproaches. With what little success, as to their avowed designs, they have laboured therein, — how openly their endeavours are sunk into contempt with all sorts of persons pretending unto the least sobriety or modesty, — I suppose they are not themselves altogether insensible. Among the things which this sort of men sought to make an advantage of against me, I found that two or three of them began to reflect on that discourse; though it appeared they had not satisfied themselves what as yet to fix upon, their nibbling cavils being exceedingly ridiculous.

But yet, from those intimations of some men’s good-will towards it, — sufficient to provoke the industry of such as either needed their assistance or valued their favour, — I was in expectation that one or other would possess that province, and attempt the whole discourse or some parts of it. Nor was I dissatisfied in my apprehensions of that design; for, being earnestly solicited to suffer it to be reprinted, I was very willing to see what either could or would be objected against it before it received another impression. For whereas it was written now near twenty years ago, when there was the deepest peace in the minds of all men about the things treated of therein, and when I had no apprehension of any dissent from the principal design, scope, and parts of it by any called Christians in the world, the Socinians only excepted (whom I had therein no regard unto), I thought it highly probable that some things might have been so expressed as to render a review and amendment to them more than ordinarily necessary. And I reckoned it not improbable, but that from one malevolent adversary I might receive a more instructive information of such escapes of diligence than I could do in so long a time from all the more impartial readers of it; for as unto the substance of the doctrine declared in it, I was sufficiently secure, not only of its truth, but that it would immovably endure the rudest assaults of such oppositions as I did expect. I was therefore very well satisfied when I heard of the publishing of this treatise of Mr Sherlock’s, — which, as I was informed, and since have found true, was principally intended against myself, and that discourse (that is, that book), because I was the author of it, which will at last prove it to be its only guilt and crime; — for I thought I should be at once now satisfied, both what it was which was so long contriving against it (whereof I could give no conjecture), as also be directed unto any such mistakes as might have befallen me in matter or manner of expression, which I would or might rectify before the book received another edition. But, upon a view and perusal of this discourse, I found myself under a double surprisal. For, first, in reference to my own, I could not find any thing, any doctrine, any expressions, any words reflected on, which the exceptions of this man do give me the least occasion to alter, or to desire that they had been otherwise either expressed or delivered; — not any thing which now, after near twenty years, I do not still equally approve of, and which I am not yet ready to justify. The other part of my surprisal was somewhat particular, though, in truth, it ought to have been none at all; and this was with respect unto those doctrinal principles which he manageth his oppositions upon. A surprisal they were unto me, because wild, uncouth, extravagant, and contrary to the common faith of Christians, — being all of them traduced,362 and some of them transcribed, from the writings of the Socinians; [while] yet [they] ought not to have been so, because I was assured that an opposition unto that discourse could be managed on no other [ground]. But, however, the doctrine maintained by this man, and those opposed or scorned by him, are not my special concernment; for what is it to me what the Rector of etc., preacheth or publisheth, beyond my common interest in the truths of the gospel, with other men as great strangers unto him as myself, who to my knowledge never saw him, nor heard of his name till infamed by his book? Only, I shall take leave to say, that the doctrine here published, and licensed so to be, is either the doctrine of the present church of England, or it is not. If it be so, I shall be forced to declare that I neither have, nor will have, any communion therein; and that, as for other reasons, so in particular, because I will not renounce or depart from that which I know to be the true, ancient, and catholic doctrine of this church. If it be not so, — as I am assured, with respect unto many bishops and other learned men, that it is not, — it is certainly the concernment of them who preside therein to take care that such kind of discourses be not countenanced with the stamp of their public authority, lest they and the church be represented unto a great disadvantage with many.

It was some months after the publishing of this discourse, before I entertained any thoughts of taking the least notice of it, — yea, I was resolved to the contrary, and declared those resolutions as I had occasion; neither was it until very lately that my second thoughts came to a compliance with the desires of some others, to consider my own peculiar concernment therein. And this is all which I now design; for the examination of the opinions which this author hath vented under the countenance of public licence, whatever they may think, I know to be more the concernment of other men than mine. Nor yet do I enter into the consideration of what is written by this author with the least respect unto myself, or my own reputation, which I have the satisfaction to conceive not to be prejudiced by such pitiful attempts; nor have I the least desire to preserve it in the minds of such persons as wherein it can suffer on this occasion. But the vindication of some sacred truths, petulantly traduced by this author, seems to be cast on me in an especial manner; because he hath opposed them, and endeavoured to expose them to scorn, as declared in my book; whence others, more meet for this work, might think themselves discharged from taking notice of them. Setting aside this consideration, I can freely give this sort of men leave to go on with their revilings and scoffings until they are weary or ashamed; which, as far as I can discern, upon consideration of their ability for such a work, and their confidence therein, is not like to be in haste; — at least, they can change their course, and when they are out of breath in pursuit of one sort of calumnies, betake themselves unto another. Witness the late malicious, and yet withal ridiculous, reports that they have divulged concerning me, even with respect unto civil affairs, and their industry therein; for although they were such as had not any thing of the least probability or likelihood to give them countenance, yet were they so impetuously divulged, and so readily entertained by many, as made me think there was more than the common artifices of calumny employed in their raising and improvement, especially considering what persons I can justly charge those reports upon. But in this course they may proceed whilst they please and think convenient: I find myself no more concerned in what they write or say of this nature than if it were no more but, —

― ἐπεὶ ἤτε κακῷ οὔτ’ ἄφρονι φωτὶ ἔοικας.363
Οὖλέ τε, καὶ μέγα χαῖρε, Θεὸι δέ τοι ὄλβια δοῖε.364
It is the doctrine traduced only that I am concerned about, and that as it hath been the doctrine of the church of England.

It may be it will be said (for there is no security against confidence and immodesty, backed with secular advantages), that the doctrinal principles asserted in this book are agreeable with the doctrine of the church in former times; and therefore those opposed in it, such as are condemned thereby. Hereabout I shall make no long contest with them who once discover that their minds are by any means emboldened to undertake the defence of such shameless untruths; nor shall I multiply testimonies to prove the contrary, which others are more concerned to do, if they intend not to betray the religion of that church with whose preservation and defence they are intrusted. Only, because there are ancient divines of this church, who, I am persuaded, will be allowed with the most to have known as well the doctrine of it, and as firmly to have adhered thereunto, as this author, who have particularly spoken unto most of the things which he hath opposed, or rather reproached, I shall transcribe the words of one of them, whereby he, and those who employ him, may be minded with whom they have to do in those things. For, as to the writers of the ancient church, there is herein no regard had unto them. He whom I shall name is Mr Hooker, and that in his famous book of “Ecclesiastical Polity;” who, in the fifth book thereof, and 56th paragraph, thus discourseth:—

“We have hitherto spoken of the person and of the presence of Christ. Participation is that mutual inward hold which Christ hath of us, and we of him, in such sort that each possesseth other by way of special interest, property, and inherent copulation.” And after the interposition of some things conceding the mutual in-being and love of the Father and the Son, he thus proceedeth:— “We are by nature the sons of Adam. When God created Adam, he created us; and as many as are descended from Adam have in themselves the root out of which they spring. The sons of God we neither are all nor any one of us, otherwise than only by grace and favour. The sons of God have God’s own natural Son as a second Adam from heaven; whose race and progeny they are by spiritual and heavenly birth. God therefore loving eternally his Son, he must needs eternally in him have loved, and preferred before all others, them which are spiritually since descended and sprung out of him. These were in God as in their Saviour, and not as in their Creator only. It was the purpose of his saving goodness, his saving wisdom, and his saving power, which inclined itself towards them. They which thus were in God eternally by their intended admission to life, have, by vocation or adoption, God actually now in them, as the artificer is in the work which his hand doth presently frame. Life, as all other gifts and benefits, groweth originally from the Father, and cometh not to us but by the Son, nor by the Son to any of us in particular, but through the Spirit. For this cause the apostle wisheth to the church of Corinth, ‘the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost;’ which three St Peter comprehendeth in one, — the participation of the divine nature. We are, therefore, in God through Christ eternally, according to that intent and purpose whereby we are chosen to be made his in this present world before the world itself was made. We are in God through the knowledge which is had of us, and the love which is borne towards us from everlasting; but in God we actually are no longer than only from the time of our actual adoption into the body of his true church, into the fellowship of his children. For his church he knoweth and loveth; so that they which are in the church are thereby known to be in him. Our being in Christ by eternal foreknowledge saveth us not, without our actual and real adoption into the fellowship of his saints in this present world. For in him we actually are by our actual incorporation into that society which hath him for their head, and doth make together with him one body (he and they in that respect having one name); for which cause, by virtue of this mystical conjunction, we are of him, and in him, even as though our very flesh and bones should be made continuate with his. We are in Christ, because he knoweth and loveth us, even as parts of himself. No man is actually in him but they in whom he actually is; for he which hath not the Son of God hath not life. ‘I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit;’ but the branch severed from the vine withereth. We are, therefore, adopted sons of God to eternal life by participation of the only begotten Son of God, whose life is the well-spring and cause of ours. It is too cold an interpretation, whereby some men expound our being in Christ to import nothing else but only that the self-same nature which maketh us to be men is in him, and maketh him man as we are. For what man in the world is there which hath not so far forth communion with Jesus Christ? It is not this that can sustain the weight of such sentences as speak of the mystery of our coherence with Jesus Christ. The church is in Christ, as Eve was in Adam. Yea, by grace we are every [one] of us in Christ and in his church, as by nature we were in those, our first parents. God made Eve of the rib of Adam; and his church he frameth out of the very flesh, the very wounded and bleeding side, of the Son of man. His body crucified, and his blood shed for the life of the world, are the true elements of that heavenly being which maketh us such as himself is of whom we come. For which cause the words of Adam may be fitly the words of Christ concerning his church, ‘Flesh of my flesh, and bone of my bones;’ — ‘A true nature, extract out of mine own body.’ So that in him, even according to his manhood, we, according to our heavenly being, are as branches in that root out of which they grow. To all things he is life, and to men light, as the Son of God; to the church, both life and light eternal, by being made the Son of man for us, and by being in us a Saviour, whether we respect him as God or as man. Adam is in us as an original cause of our nature, and of that corruption of nature which causeth death; Christ as the cause original of restoration to life. The person of Adam is not in us, but his nature, and the corruption of his nature, derived into all men by propagation. Christ having Adam’s nature, as we have, but incorrupt, deriveth not nature but incorruption, and that immediately from his own person, into all that belong unto him. As, therefore, we are really partakers of the body of sin and death received from Adam; so, except we be truly partakers of Christ, and as really possessed of his Spirit, all we speak of eternal life is but a dream. That which quickeneth us is the Spirit of the second Adam, and his flesh that wherewith he quickeneth. That which in him made our nature incorrupt was the union of his Deity with our nature. And in that respect the sentence of death and condemnation, which only taketh hold upon sinful flesh, could no way possibly extend unto him. This caused his voluntary death for others to prevail with God, and to have the force of an expiatory sacrifice. The blood of Christ, as the apostle witnesseth, doth, therefore, take away sin; because, ‘Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself unto God without spot.’ That which sanctified our nature in Christ, — that which made it a sacrifice available to take away sin, is the same which quickened it, raised it out of the grave after death, and exalted it unto glory. Seeing, therefore, that Christ is in us a quickening Spirit, the first degree of communion with Christ must needs consist in the participation of his Spirit, which Cyprian in that respect terms ‘germanissimam societatem,’ — the highest and truest society that can be between man and him, which is both God and man in one. These things St Cyril duly considering, reproveth their speeches which taught that only the Deity of Christ is the vine whereupon we by faith do depend as branches, and that neither his flesh nor our bodies are comprised in this resemblance. For doth any man doubt but that even from the flesh of Christ our very bodies do receive that life which shall make them glorious at the latter day; and for which they are already accounted parts of his blessed body? Our corruptible bodies could never live the life they shall live, were it not that here they are joined with his body, which is incorruptible; and that his is in ours as a cause of immortality, — a cause, by removing, through the death and merit of his own flesh, that which hindered the life of ours. Christ is, therefore, both as God and as man, that true vine whereof we both spiritually and corporally are branches. The mixture of his bodily substance with ours is a thing which the ancient fathers disclaim. Yet the mixture of his flesh with ours they speak of, to signify what our very bodies, through mystical conjunction, receive from that vital efficacy which we know to be in his; and from bodily mixtures they borrow divers similitudes, rather to declare the truth than the manner of coherence between his sacred [body] and the sanctified bodies of saints. Thus much no Christian man will deny, that when Christ sanctified his own flesh, giving as God, and taking as man, the Holy Ghost, he did not this for himself only, but for our sakes, that the grace of sanctification and life, which was first received in him, might pass from him to his whole race, as malediction came from Adam into all mankind. Howbeit, because the work of his Spirit to those effects is in us prevented by sin and death possessing us before, it is of necessity that as well our present sanctification into newness of life, as the future restoration of our bodies, should presuppose a participation of the grace, efficacy, merit, or virtue of his body and blood; — without which foundation first laid, there is no place for those other operations of the Spirit of Christ to ensue. So that Christ imparteth plainly himself by degrees. It pleaseth him, in mercy, to account himself incomplete and maimed without us. But most assured we are, that we all receive of his fulness, because he is in us as a moving and working cause; from which many blessed effects are really found to ensue, and that in sundry both kinds and degrees, all tending to eternal happiness. It must be confessed, that of Christ working as a creator and a governor of the world, by providence all are partakers; — not all partakers of that grace whereby he inhabiteth whom he saveth. Again: as he dwelleth not by grace in all, so neither doth he equally work in all them in whom he dwelleth. ‘Whence is it,’ saith St Augustine, ‘that some be holier than others are, but because God doth dwell in some more plentifully than in others?’ And because the divine substance of Christ is equally in all, his human substance equally distant from all, it appeareth that the participation of Christ, wherein there are many degrees and differences, must needs consist in such effects as, being derived from both natures of Christ really into us, are made our own: and we, by having them in us, are truly said to have him from whom they come; Christ also, more or less, to inhabit and impart himself, as the graces are fewer or more, greater or smaller, which really flow into us from Christ. Christ is whole with the whole church, and whole with every part of the church, as touching his person, which can no way divide itself, or be possessed by degrees and portions. But the participation of Christ importeth, besides the presence of Christ’s person, and besides the mystical copulation thereof with the parts and members of his whole church, a true actual influence of grace, whereby the life which we live according to godliness is his; and from him we receive those perfections wherein our eternal happiness consisteth. Thus we participate Christ:— partly by imputation; as when those things which he did and suffered for us are imputed unto us for righteousness; partly by habitual and real infusion; as when grace is inwardly bestowed while we are on earth; — and afterward more fully, both our souls and bodies made like unto his in glory. The first thing of his so infused into our hearts in this life is the Spirit of Christ; whereupon, because the rest, of what kind soever, do all both necessarily depend and infallibly also ensue, therefore the apostles term it sometimes the seed of God, sometimes the pledge of our heavenly inheritance, sometimes the hansel or earnest of that which is to come. From whence it is that they which belong to the mystical body of our Saviour Christ, and be in number as the stars of heaven, — divided successively, by reason of their mortal condition, into many generations, — are, notwithstanding, coupled every one to Christ their head, and all unto every particular person amongst themselves; inasmuch as the same Spirit which anointed the blessed soul of our Saviour Christ doth so formalise, unite, and actuate his whole race, as if both he and they were so many limbs compacted into one body, by being quickened all with one and the same soul. That wherein we are partakers of Jesus Christ by imputation, agreeth equally unto all what have it; for it consisteth in such acts and deeds of his as could not have longer continuance than while they were in doing, nor at that very time belong unto any other but to him from whom they come: and therefore, how men, either then, or before, or since, should be made partakers of them, there can be no way imagined but only by imputation. Again: a deed must either not be imputed to any, but rest altogether in him whose it is; or, if at all it be imputed, they which have it by imputation must have it such as it is, — whole. So that degrees being neither in the personal presence of Christ, nor in the participation of those effects which are ours by imputation only, it resteth that we wholly apply them to the participation of Christ’s infused grace; although, even in this kind also, the first beginning of life, the seed of God, the first-fruits of Christ’s Spirit, be without latitude. For we have hereby only the being of the sons of God: in which number, how far soever one may seem to excel another, yet touching this, that all are sons, they are all equals; some, happily, better sons than the rest are, but none any more a son than another. Thus, therefore, we see how the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father; how they both are in all things, and all things in them: what communion Christ hath with his church; how his church, and every member thereof, is in him by original derivation, and he personally in them, by way of mystical association, wrought through the gift of the Holy Ghost; which they that are his receive from him, and, together with the same, what benefit soever the vital force of his body and blood may yield; — yea, by steps and degrees they receive the complete measure of all such divine grace as doth sanctify and save throughout, till the day of their final exaltation to a state of fellowship in glory with him, whose partakers they are now in those things that tend to glory.”

This one testimony ought to be enough unto this sort of men, whilst they are at any consistency with their own reputation: for it is evident that there is nothing concerning personal election, effectual vocation, justification by the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, participation of him, union of believers unto and with his person, derivation of grace from him, etc., which are so reproached by our present author, but they are asserted by this great champion of the church of England, who undoubtedly knew the doctrine which it owned, and in his days approved, and that in such words and expressions, as remote from the sentiments, or at least as unsavoury to the palates, of these men, as any they except against in others.

And what themselves so severely charge on us in point of discipline, that nothing be spoken about it until all is answered that is written by Mr Hooker in its defence, may, I hope, not immodestly be so far returned, as to desire them that in point of doctrine they will grant us truce, until they have moved out of the way what is written to the same purpose by Mr Hooker. Why do not they speak to him to leave fooling, and to speak sense, as they do to others? But let these things be as they are; I have no especial concernment in them, nor shall take any farther notice of them, but only as they influence the exceptions which this author makes unto some passages in that book of mine. And in what I shall do herein, I shall take as little notice as may be of those scurrilous and reproachful expressions, which either his inclination or his circumstances induced him to make use of. If he be pleased with such a course of procedure, I can only assure him, that as to my concernment, I am not displeased; and so he is left unto his full liberty for the future.

The first thing he quarrels about, is my asserting the necessity of acquaintance with the person of Christ; which expression he frequently makes use of afterward in a way of reproach. The use of the word “acquaintance,” in this matter, is warranted by our translation of the Scripture, and that properly, where it is required of us to acquaint ourselves with God. And that I intended nothing thereby but the knowledge of Jesus Christ, is evident beyond any pretence to the contrary to be suggested by the most subtle or inventive malice. The crime, therefore, wherewith I am here charged, is my assertion that it is necessary that Christians should know Jesus Christ; which I have afterward increased, by affirming also that they ought to love him: for by Jesus Christ all the world of Christians intend the person of Christ; and the most of them, all of them, — the Socinians only excepted, — by his person, “the Word made flesh,” or the Son of God incarnate, the mediator between God and man. For because the name Christ is sometimes used metonymically, to conclude thence that Jesus Christ is not Jesus Christ, or that it is not the person of Christ that is firstly and properly intended by that name in the gospel, is a lewd and impious imagination; and we may as well make Christ to be only a light within us, as to be the doctrine of the gospel without us. This knowledge of Jesus Christ I aver to be the only fountain of all saving knowledge: which is farther reflected on by this author; and he adds (no doubt out of respect unto me), “that he will not envy the glory of this discovery unto its author;” and therefore honestly confesseth that he met with it in my book. But what doth he intend? Whither will prejudice and corrupt designs carry and transport the minds of men? Is it possible that he should be ignorant that it is the duty of all Christians to know Jesus Christ, to be acquainted with the person of Christ, and that this is the fountain of all saving knowledge, until he met with it in my book about communion with God; which I dare say he looked not into, but only to find what he might except against? It is the Holy Ghost himself that is the author of this discovery; and it is the great fundamental principle of the gospel. Wherefore, surely, this cannot be the man’s intention; and therefore we must look a little farther, to see what it is that he aimeth at. After, then, the repetition of some words of mine, he adds, as his sense upon them, p. 39, “So that it seems the gospel of Christ makes a very imperfect and obscure discovery of the nature, attributes, and the will of God, and the methods of our recovery. We may thoroughly understand whatever is revealed in the gospel, and yet not have a clear and saving knowledge of these things, until we get a more intimate acquaintance with the person of Christ.” And again, p. 40: “I shall show you what additions these men make to the gospel of Christ by an acquaintance with his person; and I confess I am very much beholden to this author, for acknowledging whence they fetch all their orthodox and gospel mysteries, for I had almost pored my eyes out with seeking for them in the gospel, but could never find them; but I learn now, that indeed they are not to be found there, unless we be first acquainted with the person of Christ.” So far as I can gather up the sense of these loose expressions, it is, that I assert a knowledge of the person of Jesus Christ which is not revealed in the gospel, which is not taught us in the writings of Moses, the prophets, or apostles, but must be had some other way. He tells me afterward, p. 41, that I put in a word fallaciously, which expresseth the contrary; as though I intended another knowledge of Christ than what is declared in the gospel. Now, he either thought that this was not my design or intention, but would make use of a pretence of it for his advantage unto an end aimed at (which what it was I know well enough); or he thought, indeed, that I did assert and maintain such a knowledge of the person of Christ as was not received by Scripture revelation. If it was the first, we have an instance of that new morality which these new doctrines are accompanied withal; if the latter, he discovers how meet a person he is to treat of things of this nature. Wherefore, to prevent such scandalous miscarriages, or futilous imaginations for the future, I here tell him, that if he can find in that book, or any other of my writings, any expression, or word, or syllable, intimating any knowledge of Christ, or any acquaintance with the person of Christ, but what is revealed and declared in the gospel, in the writings of Moses, the prophets, and apostles, and as it is so revealed and declared, and learned from thence, I will publicly burn that book with my own hands, to give him and all the world satisfaction. Nay, I say more: if an angel from heaven pretend to give any other knowledge of the person of Christ, but what is revealed in the gospel, let him be accursed. And here I leave this author to consider with himself, what was the true occasion why he should first thus represent himself unto the world in print, by the avowing of so unworthy and notorious a calumny.

Whereas, therefore, by an acquaintance with the person of Christ, it is undeniably evident that I intended nothing but that knowledge of Christ which it is the duty of every Christian to labour after, — no other but what is revealed, declared, and delivered in the Scripture, as almost every page of my book doth manifest where I treat of these things; I do here again, with the good leave of this author, assert, that this knowledge of Christ is very necessary unto Christians, and the fountain of all saving knowledge whatever. And as he may, if he please, review the honesty and truth of that passage, p. 38, “So that our acquaintance with Christ’s person, in this man’s divinity, signifies such a knowledge of what Christ is, hath done, and suffered for us, from whence we may learn those greater, deeper, and more saving mysteries of the gospel, which Christ hath not expressly revealed to us;” so I will not so far suspect the Christianity of them with whom we have to do, as to think it necessary to confirm by texts of Scripture either of these assertions; which whoever denies is an open apostate from the gospel.

Having laid this foundation in an equal mixture of that truth and sobriety wherewith sundry late writings of this nature and to the same purpose have been stuffed, he proceeds to declare what desperate consequences ensue upon the necessity of that knowledge of Jesus Christ which I have asserted, addressing himself thereunto, p. 40.

Many instances of such dealings will make me apt to think that some men, whatever they pretend to the contrary, have but little knowledge of Jesus Christ indeed. But whatever this man thinks of him, an account must one day be given before and unto him of such false calumnies as his lines are stuffed withal. Those who will believe him, that he hath almost “pored out his eyes” in reading the gospel, with a design to find out mysteries that are not in it, are left by me to their liberty; only I cannot but say, that his way of expressing the study of the Scripture, is [not?] such as becometh a man of his wisdom, gravity, and principles. He will, I hope, one day be better acquainted with what belongs unto the due investigation of sacred truth in the Scripture, than to suppose it represented by such childish expressions. What he hath learned from me I know not; but that I have anywhere taught that there are mysteries of religion that are not to be found in the gospel, unless we are first acquainted with the person of Christ, is a frontless and impudent falsehood. I own no other, never taught other knowledge of Christ, or acquaintance with his person, but what is revealed and declared in the gospel; and therefore, no mysteries of religion can be thence known and received, before we are acquainted with the gospel itself. Yet I will mind this author of that, whereof if he be ignorant, he is unfit to be a teacher of others, and which if he deny, he is unworthy the name of a Christian, — namely, that by the knowledge of the person of Christ, the great mystery of God manifest in the flesh, as revealed and declared in the gospel, we are led into a clear and full understanding of many other mysteries of grace and truth; which are all centred in his person, and without which we can have no true nor sound understanding of them. I shall speak it yet again, that this author, if it be possible, may understand it; or, however, that he and his co-partners in design may know that I neither am nor ever will be ashamed of it:— that without the knowledge of the person of Christ, which is our acquaintance with him (as we are commanded to acquaint ourselves with God) as he is the eternal Son of God incarnate, the mediator between God and man, with the mystery of the love, grace, and truth of God therein, as revealed and declared in the Scripture, there is no true, useful, saving knowledge of any other mysteries or truths of the gospel to be attained. This being the substance of what is asserted in my discourse, I challenge this man, or any to whose pleasure and favour his endeavours in this kind are sacrificed, to assert and maintain the contrary, if so be they are indeed armed with such a confidence as to impugn the foundations of Christianity.

But to evince his intention, he transcribeth the ensuing passages out of my discourse:— P. 41, “The sum of all true wisdom and knowledge may be reduced to these three heads:— 1. The knowledge of God; his nature and properties. 2. The knowledge of ourselves with reference to the will of God concerning us. 3. Skill to walk in communion with God. In these three is summed up all true wisdom and knowledge, and not any of them is to any purpose to be obtained, or is manifested, but only in and by the Lord Christ.”

This whole passage I am far from disliking, upon this representation of it, or any expression in it. Those who are not pleased with this distribution of spiritual wisdom, may make use of any such of their own wherewith they are better satisfied. This of mine was sufficient unto my purpose. Hereon this censure is passed by him:— “Where by is fallaciously added to include the revelations Christ hath made; whereas his first undertaking was, to show how impossible it is to understand these things savingly and clearly, notwithstanding all those revelations God hath made of himself and his will by Moses and the prophets, and by Christ himself, without an acquaintance with his person.” The fallacy pretended is merely of his own coining; my words are plain, and suited unto my own purpose, and to declare my mind in what I intend; which he openly corrupting, or not at all understanding, frames an end never thought of by me, and then feigns fallacious means of attaining it. The knowledge I mean is to be learned by Christ; neither is any thing to be learned in him but what is learned by him. I do say, indeed, now, whatever I have said before, that it is impossible to understand any sacred truth savingly and clearly, without the knowledge of the person of Christ; and shall say so still, let this man and his companions say what they will to the contrary: but that in my so saying I exclude the consideration of the revelations which Christ hath made, or that God hath made of himself by Moses and the prophets, and Christ himself, the principal whereof concern his person, and whence alone we come to know him, is an assertion becoming the modesty and ingenuity of this author. But hereon he proceeds, and says, that as to the first head he will take notice of those peculiar discoveries of the nature of God of which the world was ignorant before, and of which revelation is wholly silent, but are now clearly and savingly learned from an acquaintance with Christ’s person. But what, in the meantime, is become of modesty, truth, and honesty? Do men reckon that there is no account to be given of such falsifications? Is there any one word or tittle in my discourse of any such knowledge of the nature or properties of God as whereof revelation is wholly silent? What doth this man intend? Doth he either not at all understand what I say; or doth he not care what he says himself? What have I done to him? wherein have I injured him? how have I provoked him, that he should sacrifice his conscience and reputation unto such a revenge? Must he yet hear it again? I never thought, I never owned, I never wrote, that there was any acquaintance to be obtained with any property of the nature of God by the knowledge of the person of Christ, but what is taught and revealed in the gospel; from whence alone all knowledge of Christ, his person, and his doctrine, is to be learned. And yet I will say again, if we learn not thence to know the Lord Christ, — that is, his person, — we shall never know any thing of God, ourselves, or our duty, clearly and savingly (I use the words again, notwithstanding the reflections on them, as more proper in this matter than any used by our author in his eloquent discourse), and as we ought to do. From hence he proceeds unto weak and confused discourses about the knowledge of God and his properties without any knowledge of Christ; for he not only tells us “what reason we had to believe such and such things of God, if Christ had never appeared in the world,” (take care, I pray, that we be thought as little beholden to him as may be), “but that God’s readiness to pardon, and the like, are plainly revealed in the Scripture, without any farther acquaintance with the person of Christ,” p. 43. What this farther acquaintance with the person of Christ should mean, I do not well understand: it may be, any more acquaintance with respect unto some that is necessary; — it may be, without any more ado as to an acquaintance with him. And if this be his intention, — as it must be, if there be sense in his words, — that God’s readiness to pardon sinners is revealed in the Scripture without respect unto the person of Jesus Christ, it is a piece of dull Socinianism; which, because I have sufficiently confuted else where, I shall not here farther discover the folly of. [As] for a knowledge of God’s essential properties by the light of nature, it was never denied by me; yea, I have written and contended for it in another way than can be impeached by such trifling declamations. But yet, with his good leave, I do believe that there is no saving knowledge of, or acquaintance with God or his properties, to be attained, but in and through Jesus Christ, as revealed unto us in the gospel. And this I can confirm with testimonies of the Scripture, fathers, schoolmen, and divines of all sorts, with reasons and arguments, such as I know this author cannot answer. And whatever great apprehensions he may have of his skill and abilities to know God and his properties by the light of nature, now that he neither knows nor is able to distinguish what he learns from thence, and what he hath imbibed in his education from an emanation of divine revelation; yet I believe there were as wise men as himself amongst those ancient philosophers, concerning whom and their inquiries into the nature of God our apostle pronounces those censures, Rom. i.; 1 Cor. i.

But on this goodly foundation he proceeds unto a particular inference, p. 44, saying, “And is not this a confident man, to tell us that the love of God to sinners, and his pardoning mercy, could never have entered into the heart of man but by Christ, when the experience of the whole world confutes him? For, whatever becomes of his new theories, both Jews and heathens, who understood nothing at all of what Christ was to do in order to our recovery, did believe God to be gracious and merciful to sinners, and had reason to do so; because God himself had assured the Jews that he was a gracious and merciful God, pardoning iniquity, transgressions, and sins. And those natural notions heathens had of God, and all those discoveries God had made of himself in the works of creation and providence, did assure them that God is very good: and it is not possible to understand what goodness is, without pardoning grace.”

I beg his excuse: truth and good company will give a modest man a little confidence sometimes; and against his experience of the whole world, falsely pretended, I can oppose the testimonies of the Scripture, and all the ancient writers of the church, very few excepted. We can know of God only what he hath, one way or other, revealed of himself, and nothing else; and I say again, that God hath not revealed his love unto sinners, and his pardoning mercy, any other way but in and by Jesus Christ. For what he adds as to the knowledge which the Jews had of these things by God’s revelation in the Scripture, when he can prove that all those revelations, or any of them, had not respect unto the promised seed, — the Son of God, — to be exhibited in the flesh to destroy the works of the devil, he will speak somewhat unto his purpose. In the meantime, this insertion of the consideration of them who enjoyed that revelation of Christ which God was pleased to build his church upon under the Old Testament, is weak and impertinent. Their apprehensions, I acknowledge, concerning the person of Christ, and the speciality of the work of his mediation, were dark and obscure; but so, also, proportionally was their knowledge of all other sacred truths, which yet with all diligence they inquired into. That which I intended is expressed by the apostle, 1 Cor. ii. 9, 10, “It is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit.” What a confident man was this apostle, as to affirm that the things of the grace and mercy of God did never enter into the heart of man to conceive, nor would so have done, had they not been revealed by the Spirit of God in the gospel through Jesus Christ!

But this is only a transient charge. There ensues that which is much more severe, p. 45; as, for instance, “He tells us, ‘that in Christ’ (that is, in his death and sufferings for our sins) ‘God hath manifested the naturalness of this righteousness’ (that is, vindictive justice in punishing sin), ‘that it was impossible that it should be diverted from sinners without the interposing of a propitiation; that is, that God is so just and righteous, that he cannot pardon sin without satisfaction to his justice.’ Now, this indeed is such a notion of justice as is perfectly new, which neither Scripture nor nature acquaints us with; for all mankind have accounted it an act of goodness, without the least suspicion of injustice in it, to remit injuries and offences without exacting any punishment, — that he is so far from being just, that he is cruel and savage, who will remit no offence till he hath satisfied his revenge.” The reader who is in any measure or degree acquainted with these things, knows full well what is intended by that which I have asserted. It is no more but this, — that such is the essential holiness and righteousness of the nature of God, that, considering him as the supreme governor and ruler of all mankind, it was inconsistent with the holiness and rectitude of his rule, and the glory of his government, to pass by sin absolutely, or to pardon it without satisfaction, propitiation, or atonement. This, I said, was made evident in the death and sufferings of Christ, wherein God made all our iniquities to meet upon him, and spared him not, that we might obtain mercy and grace. This is here now called out by our author as a very dangerous or foolish passage in my discourse, which he thought he might highly advantage his reputation by reflecting upon. But as the orator said to his adversary, “Equidem vehementer lætor eum esse me, in quem tu cum cuperes, nullam contumeliam jacere potueris, quæ non ad maximam partem civium convenerit,” — so it is here fallen out. If this man knows not that this is the judgment of the generality of the most learned divines of Europe upon the matter, of all who have engaged with any success against the Socinians, one or two only excepted, I can pity him, but not relieve him in his unhappiness, unless he will be pleased to take more pains in reading good books than as yet he appeareth to have done. But for the thing itself, and his reflections upon it, I shall observe yet some few things, and so pass on; — as first, the opposition that he makes unto my position is nothing but a crude assertion of one of the meanest and most absurd sophisms which the Socinians use in this cause, — namely, that everyone may remit injuries and offences as he pleaseth, without exacting any punishment: which, as it is true in most cases of injuries and offences against private persons, wherein no others are concerned but themselves, nor are they obliged by any law of the community to pursue their own right; so, with respect unto public rulers of the community, and unto such injuries and offences as are done against supreme rule, tending directly unto the dissolution of the society centring in it, to suppose that such rulers are not obliged to inflict those punishments which justice and the preservation of the community doth require, is a fond and ridiculous imagination, — destructive, if pursued, unto all human society, and rendering government a useless thing in the world. Therefore, what this author (who seems to understand very little of these things) adds, “that governors may spare or punish as they see reason for it;” if the rule of that reason and judgment be not that justice which respects the good and benefit of the society or community, they do amiss, and sin, in sparing and punishing: which I suppose he will not ascribe unto the government of God. But I have fully debated these things in sundry writings against the Socinians; so that I will not again enlarge upon them without a more important occasion. It is not improbable but he knows where to find those discourses; and he may, when he please, exercise his skill upon them. Again: I cannot but remark upon the consequences that he chargeth this position withal; and yet I cannot do it without begging pardon for repeating such horrid and desperate blasphemies. P. 46, “The account,” saith he, “of this is very plain; because the justice of God hath glutted itself with revenge on sin in the death of Christ, and so henceforward we may be sure he will be very kind, as a revengeful man is when his passion is over.” P. 47, “The sum of which is, that God is all love and patience when he hath taken his fill of revenge; as others use to say that the devil is very good when he is pleased.” P. 59, “The justice and vengeance of God, having their actings assigned them to the full, being glutted and satiated with the blood of Christ, God may,” etc. I desire the reader to remember that the supposition whereon all these inferences are built, is only that of the necessity of the satisfaction of Christ with respect unto the holiness and righteousness of God as the author of the law, and the supreme governor of mankind. And is this language becoming a son of the church of England? Might it not be more justly expected from a Jew or a Mohammedan, — from Servetus or Socinus, from whom it is borrowed, — than from a son of this church, in a book published by licence and authority? But it is to no purpose to complain: those who are pleased with these things, let them be so. But what if, after all, these impious, blasphemous consequences do follow as much upon this author’s opinion as upon mine, and that with a greater show of probability? and what if, forgetting himself, within a few leaves he says the very same thing that I do, and casts himself under his own severest condemnation?

For the first: I presume he owns the satisfaction of Christ, and I will suppose it until he directly denies it; therefore, also, he owns and grants that God would not pardon any sin, but upon a supposition of a previous satisfaction made by Jesus Christ. Here, then, lies all the difference between us; — that I say God could not, with respect unto his holiness and justice, as the author of the law and governor of the world, pardon sin absolutely without satisfaction: he says, that although he might have done so without the least diminution of his glory, yet he would not, but would have his Son by his death and suffering to make satisfaction for sin. I leave it now, not only to every learned and impartial reader, but to every man in his wits who understands common sense, whether the blasphemous consequences, which I will not again defile ink and paper with the expression of, do not seem to follow more directly upon his opinion than mine. For whereas I say not that God requireth any thing unto the exercise of grace and mercy, but what he grants that he doth so also; — only I say he doth it because requisite unto his justice; he, because he chose it by a free act of his will and wisdom, when he might have done otherwise, without the least disadvantage unto his righteousness or rule, or the least impeachment to the glory of his holiness. The odious blasphemies mentioned do apparently seem to make a nearer approach unto his assertion than unto mine. I cannot proceed unto a farther declaration of it, because I abhor the rehearsal of such horrid profaneness. The truth is, they follow not in the least (if there be any thing in them but odious satanical exprobrations of the truth of the satisfaction of Christ) on either opinion; though I say this author knows not well how to discharge himself of them.

But what if he be all this while only roving in his discourse about the things that he hath no due comprehension of, merely out of a transporting desire to gratify himself and others, in traducing and making exceptions against my writings? What if, when he comes a little to himself, and expresseth the notions that have been instilled into him, he saith expressly as much as I do, or have done in any place of my writings? It is plain he doth so, p. 49, in these words:— “As for sin, the gospel assures us that God is an irreconcilable enemy to all wickedness, it being so contrary to his own most holy nature, that if he have any love for himself, and any esteem for his own perfections and works, he must hate sin, which is so unlike himself, and which destroys the beauty and perfection of his workmanship. For this end he sent his Son into the world to destroy the works of the devil,” etc. Here is the substance of what at any time on this subject I have pleaded for:— “God is an irreconcilable enemy to all wickedness,” — that it “is contrary to his holy nature, so that he must hate it; and therefore sends his Son,” etc. If sin be contrary to God’s holy nature, — if he must hate it, unless he will not love himself, nor value his own perfections, and therefore sent his Son to make satisfaction, we are absolutely agreed in this matter, and our author hath lost “operam et oleum” in his attempt. But for the matter itself, if he be able to come unto any consistency in his thoughts, or to know what is his own mind therein, I do hereby acquaint him that I have written one entire discourse365 on that subject, and have lately reinforced the same argument in my Exercitations on the Epistle to the Hebrews, wherein my judgment on this point is declared and maintained. Let him attempt an answer, if he please, unto them, or do it if he can. What he farther discourseth on this subject, pp. 46, 47, consisteth only in odious representations and vile reflections on the principal doctrines of the gospel, not to be mentioned without offence and horror. But as to me, he proceeds to except, after his scoffing manner, against another passage, pp. 47, 48, — “But, however, sinners have great reasons to rejoice in it, when they consider the nature and end of God’s patience and forbearance towards them, — viz., That it is God’s taking a course, in his infinite wisdom and goodness, that we should not be destroyed notwithstanding our sins; that as before, the least sin could not escape without punishment, justice being so natural to God that he cannot forgive without punishing; so the justice of God being now satisfied by the death of Christ, the greatest sins can do us no hurt, but we shall escape with a ‘notwithstanding our sins.’ This, it seems, we learn from an acquaintance with Christ’s person, though his gospel instructs us otherwise, that ‘without holiness no man shall see God.’ ” But he is here again at a loss, and understands not what he is about. That whereof he was discoursing is the necessity of the satisfaction of Christ, and that must be it which he maketh his inference from, but the passage he insists on, he lays down as expressive of the end of God’s patience and forbearance towards sinners, which here is of no place nor consideration. But so it falls out, that he is seldom at any agreement with himself in any parts of his discourse; the reason whereof I do somewhat more than guess at. However, for the passage which he cites out of my discourse, I like it so well, as that I shall not trouble myself to inquire whether it be there or no, or on what occasion it is introduced. The words are, — “That God hath, in his justice, wisdom, and goodness, taken a course that we should not be destroyed, notwithstanding our sins” (that is, to save sinners); “for he that believeth, although he be a sinner, shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned,” as one hath assured us, whom I desire to believe and trust unto. If this be not so, what will become of this man and myself, with all our writings? for I know that we are both sinners; and if God will not save us, or deliver us from destruction, notwithstanding our sins, — that is, pardon them through the bloodshedding of Jesus Christ, wherein we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sins, — it had been better for us that we had never been born. And I do yet again say, that God doth not, that he will not, pardon the least sin, without respect unto the satisfaction of Christ, according as the apostle declares, 2 Cor. v. 18–21; and the expression which must be set on the other side, on the supposition whereof the greatest sin can do us no harm, is this man’s addition, which his usual respect unto truth hath produced. But, withal, I never said, I never wrote, that the only supposition of the satisfaction of Christ is sufficient of itself to free us from destruction by sin.

There is, moreover, required on our part, faith and repentance; without which we can have no advantage by it, or interest in it. But he seems to understand by that expression, “notwithstanding our sins,” though we should live and die in our sins without faith, repentance, or new obedience; for he supposeth it sufficient to manifest the folly of this assertion, to mention that declaration of the mind of Christ in the gospel, that “without holiness no man shall see God.” I wonder whether he thinks that those who believe the satisfaction of Christ, and the necessity thereof, wherein God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” do believe that the personal holiness of men is [not] indispensably necessary unto the pleasing and enjoyment of God. If he suppose that the satisfaction of Christ and the necessity of our personal holiness are really inconsistent, he must be treated in another manner: if he suppose that although they are consistent, yet those whom he opposeth do so trust to the satisfaction of Christ, as to judge that faith, repentance, and holiness, are not indispensably necessary to salvation, he manifests how well skilled he is in their principles and practices. I have always looked on it as a piece of the highest disingenuity among the Quakers, that when any one pleads for the satisfaction of Christ or the imputation of his righteousness, they will clamorously cry out, and hear nothing to the contrary, “Yea, you are for the saving of polluted, defiled sinners; let men live in their sins and be all foul within, it is no matter, so long as they have a righteousness and a Christ without them.” I have, I say, always looked upon it as a most disingenuous procedure in them, seeing no one is catechised amongst us, who knoweth not that we press a necessity of sanctification and holiness, equal with that of justification and righteousness. And yet this very course is here steered by this author, contrary to the constant declaration of the judgments of them with whom he hath to do, — contrary to the common evidence of their writings, preaching, praying, disputing unto another purpose; and that without relieving or countenancing himself by any one word or expression used or uttered by them. He chargeth [them] as though they made holiness a very indifferent thing, and such as it doth not much concern any man whether he have an interest in or no; and I know not whether is more marvellous unto me, that some men can so far concoct all principles of conscience and modesty as to publish such slanderous untruths, or that others can take contentment and satisfaction therein, who cannot but understand their disingenuity and falsehood.

His proceed in the same page is to except against that revelation of the wisdom of God which I affirm to have been made in the person and sufferings of Christ, which I thought I might have asserted without offence. But this man will have it, that “there is no wisdom therein, if justice be so natural to God, that nothing could satisfy him but the death of his own Son.” That any thing else could satisfy divine justice but the sufferings and death of the Son of God, so far as I know, he is the first that found out or discovered, if he hath yet found it out. Some have imagined that God will pardon sin, and doth so, without any satisfaction at all; and some have thought that other ways of the reparation of lost mankind were possible, without this satisfaction of divine justice, which yet God in his wisdom determined on; but that satisfaction could be any otherwise made to divine justice, but by the death of the Son of God incarnate, none have used to say who know what they say in these things. “But wisdom,” he saith, “consists in the choice of the best and fittest means to attain an end, when there were more ways than one of doing it; but it requires no great wisdom to choose when there is but one possible way.” Yea, this it is to measure God, — things infinite and divine, by ourselves. Doth this man think that God’s ends, as ours, have an existence in themselves out of him, antecedent unto any acts of his divine wisdom? Doth he imagine that he balanceth probable means for the attaining of an end, choosing some and rejecting others? Doth he surmise that the acts of divine wisdom with respect unto the end and means are so really distinct, as the one to have a priority in time before the others? Alas, that men should have the confidence to publish such slight and crude imaginations! Again: the Scripture, which so often expresseth the incarnation of the Son of God, and the whole work of his mediation thereon, as the effect of the infinite wisdom of God, — as that wherein the stores, riches, and treasures of it are laid forth, — doth nowhere so speak of it in comparison with other means not so suited unto the same end, but absolutely, and as it is in its own nature; unless it be when it is compared with those typical institutions which, being appointed to resemble it, some did rest in. And lastly, whereas there was but this one way for the redemption of mankind, and the restoration of the honour of God’s justice and holiness, as he is the supreme lawgiver and governor of the universe; and whereas this one way was not in the least pervious unto any created understanding, angelical or human, nor could the least of its concerns have ever entered into the hearts of any (nor, it may be, shall they ever know or be able to find it out unto perfection, but it will be left the object of their admiration unto eternity); — if this author can see no wisdom, or no great wisdom, in the finding out and appointing of this way, who can help it? I wish he would more diligently attend unto their teachings who are able to instruct him better; and from whom, as having no prejudice against them, he may be willing to learn.

But this is the least part of what this worthy censurer of theological discourses rebukes and corrects. For whereas I had said, that we “might learn our disability to answer the mind and will of God in all or any part of the obedience he requireth,” — that is, without Christ or out of him; he adds, “That is, that it is impossible for us to do any thing that is good, but we must be acted, like machines, by an external force, — by the irresistible power of the grace and Spirit of God. This, I am sure, is a new discovery; we learn no such thing from the gospel, and I do not see how he proves it from an acquaintance with Christ.” But if he intends what he speaks, “we can do no good, but must be acted, like machines, by an external force,” and chargeth this on me, it is a false accusation, proceeding from malice or ignorance, or a mixture of both. If he intend, that we can of ourselves do any thing that is spiritually good and acceptable before God, without the efficacious work of the Spirit and grace of God in us, which I only deny, he is a Pelagian, and stands anathematised by many councils of the ancient church. And [as] for what is my judgment about the impotency that is in us by nature unto any spiritual good, — the necessity of the effectual operation of the Spirit of God in and to our conversion, with his aids and assistance of actual grace in our whole course of obedience, which is no other but that of the ancient church, the most learned fathers, and the church of England itself in former days, — I have now sufficiently declared and confirmed it in another discourse; whither this author is remitted, either to learn to speak honestly of what he opposeth, or to understand it better, or answer it if he can.

He adds, “But still there is a more glorious discovery than this behind; and that is, the glorious end whereunto sin is appointed and ordained (I suppose he means by God) is discovered in Christ, — namely, for the demonstration of God’s vindictive justice, in measuring out to it a meet recompense of reward, and for the praise of God’s glorious grace in the pardon and forgiveness of it; — that is, that it could not be known how just and severe God is, but by punishing sin, nor how good and gracious God is, but by pardoning of it; and, therefore, lest his justice and mercy should never be known to the world, he appoints and ordains sin to this end, — that is, decrees that men shall sin that he may make some of them the vessels of his wrath, and the examples of his fierce vengeance and displeasure, and others the vessels of his mercy, to the praise and glory of his free grace in Christ. This, indeed, is such a discovery as nature and revelation could not make,” p. 51; which, in the next page, he calls God’s “truckling and bartering with sin and the devil for his glory.”

Although there is nothing in the words here reported as mine which is not capable of a fair defence, seeing it is expressly affirmed that “God set forth his Son to be a propitiation to declare his righteousness,” yet I know not how it came to pass that I had a mind to turn unto the passage itself in my discourse, which I had not done before on any occasion, as not supposing that he would falsify my words, with whom it was so easy to pervert my meaning at any time, and to reproach what he could not confute. But, that I may give a specimen of this man’s honesty and ingenuity, I shall transcribe the passage which he excepts against, because I confess it gave me some surprisal upon its first perusal. My words are these: “There is a glorious end whereunto sin is appointed and ordained discovered in Christ, that others are unacquainted withal. Sin, in its own nature, tends merely to the dishonour of God, the debasement of his majesty, and the ruin of the creature in whom it is. Hell itself is but the filling of wretched creatures with the fruit of their own devices. The comminations and threats of God in the law do manifest one other end of it, — even the demonstration of the vindicative justice of God in measuring out unto it a meet recompense of reward. But here the law stays, and with it all other light, and discovers no other use or end of it at all. In the Lord Jesus Christ there is the manifestation of another and more glorious end, to wit, the praise of God’s glorious grace in the pardon and forgiveness of it; — God having taken order in Christ, that that thing which tended merely to his dishonour should be managed to his infinite glory, and that which of all things he desired to exalt, — even that he may be known and believed to be a God pardoning iniquity, transgressions, and sin.” Such was my ignorance, that I did not think that any Christian, unless he were a professed Socinian, would ever have made exceptions against any thing in this discourse; the whole of it being openly proclaimed in the gospel, and confirmed in the particulars by sundry texts of Scripture, quoted in the margin of my book, which this man took no notice of. For the advantage he would make from the expression about the end whereunto sin is appointed and ordained, it is childish and ridiculous; for every one who is not wilfully blind must see, that, by “ordained,” I intended, not any ordination as to the futurition of sin, but to the disposal of sin to its proper end being committed, or to ordain it unto its end upon a supposition of its being; which quite spoils this author’s ensuing harangue. But my judgment in this matter is better expressed by another than I am able to do it myself, and, therefore, in his words I shall represent it. It is Augustine: saith he, “Saluberrime confitemur quod rectissime credimus, Deum Dominumque rerum omnium qui creavit omnia bona valde, et mala ex bonis exortura esse præscivit, et scivit magis ad suam omnipotentissimam bonitatem pertinere, etiam de malis benefacere, quam mala esse non sinere; sic ordinasse angelorum et hominum vitam, ut in ea prius ostenderet quid posset eorum liberum arbitrium, deinde quid posset suæ gratiæ beneficium, justitiæque judicium.”

This, our author would have to be God’s “bartering with sin and the devil for his glory;” the bold impiety of which expression, among many others, for whose necessary repetition I crave pardon, manifests with what frame of spirit, with what reverence of God himself and all holy things, this discourse is managed.

But it seems I add, that “the demonstration of God’s justice in measuring out unto sin a meet recompense of reward is discovered in Christ, as this author says.” Let him read again, “The comminations and threatenings of God in the law,” etc. If this man were acquainted with Christ, he could not but learn somewhat more of truth and modesty, unless he be wilfully stupid. But what is the crime of this paragraph? That which it teacheth is, that sin, in its own nature, hath no end but the dishonour of God and the eternal ruin of the sinner; that, by the sentence and curse of the law, God hath manifested that he will glorify his justice in the punishing of it; as also, that, in and through Jesus Christ, he will glorify grace and mercy in its pardon, on the terms of the gospel. What would he be at? If he have a mind to quarrel with the Bible, and to conflict the fundamental principles of Christianity, to what purpose doth he cavil at my obscure discourses, when the proper object of his displeasure lies plainly before him?

Let us proceed yet a little farther with our author, although I confess myself to be already utterly wearied with the perusal of such vain and frivolous imaginations. Yet thus he goes on, p. 53, “Thus much for the knowledge of ourselves with respect to sin, which is hid only in the Lord Christ. But then we learn what our righteousness is, wherewith we must appear before God, from an acquaintance with Christ. We have already learned how unable we are to make atonement for our sins, without which they can never be forgiven, and how unable we are to do any thing that is good; — and yet nothing can deliver us from the justice and wrath of God, but a full satisfaction for our sins; and nothing can give us a title to a reward, but a perfect and unsinning righteousness. What should we do in this case? How shall we escape hell, or get to heaven, when we can neither expiate for our past sins, nor do any good for the time to come? Why, here we are relieved again by an acquaintance with Christ. His death expiates former iniquities, and removes the whole guilt of sin. But this is not enough, that we are not guilty, we must also be actually righteous; not only all sin is to be answered for, but all righteousness is to be fulfilled. Now, this righteousness we find only in Christ; we are reconciled to God by his death, and saved by his life. That actual obedience he yielded to the whole law of God, is that righteousness whereby we are saved; we are innocent by virtue of his sacrifice and expiation, and righteous with his righteousness.”

What is here interposed, — that we cannot do any good for the time to come, — must be interpreted of ourselves, without the aid or assistance of the grace of God. And the things here reported by this author, are so expressed and represented, to expose them to reproach and scorn, to have them esteemed not only false, but ridiculous. But whether he be in his wits or no, or what he intends, so to traduce and scoff at the fundamental doctrines of the gospel, I profess I know not. What is it he would deny? what is it he would assert? Are we able to make an atonement for our sins? Can we be forgiven without an atonement? Can we of ourselves do any good without the aid and assistance of grace? Can any thing we do be a full satisfaction for our sins, or deliver us from the wrath of God; that is, the punishment due to our sins? Doth not the death of Christ expiate former iniquities, and remove the whole guilt of sin? Is the contrary to these things the doctrine of the church of England? Is this the religion which is authorized to be preached? and are these the opinions that are licensed to be published unto all the world? But, as I observed before, these things are other men’s concernment more than mine, and with them I leave them. But I have said, as he quotes the place, “that we are reconciled to God by the death of Christ, and saved by his life, that actual obedience which he yielded to the whole law of God.” As the former part of these words are expressly the apostle’s, Rom. v. 10, and so produced by me; so the next words I add are these of the same apostle, “If so be we are found in him, not having on our own righteousness which is of the law, but the righteousness which is of God by faith;” which he may do well to consider, and answer when he can.

Once more, and I shall be beholden to this author for a little respite of severity, whilst he diverts to the magisterial reproof of some other persons. Thus, then, he proceeds, p. 55:— “The third part of our wisdom is, to walk with God: and to that is required agreement, acquaintance, a way, strength, boldness, and aiming at the same end; and all these, with the wisdom of them, are hid in Jesus Christ.” So far are my words, to which he adds: “The sum of which, in short, is this:— that Christ having expiated our sins, and fulfilled all righteousness for us, though we have no personal righteousness of our own, but are as contrary unto God as darkness is to light, and death to life, and a universal pollution and defilement to a universal and glorious holiness, and hatred to love; yet the righteousness of Christ is a sufficient, nay, the only foundation of our agreement, and, upon that, of our walking with God: though St John tells us, ‘If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth; but if we walk in the light, as God is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin,’ 1 John i. 6, 7. And our only acquaintance with God and knowledge of him is hid in Christ, which his word and works could not discover, as you heard above. And he is the only way wherein we must walk with God; and we receive all our strength from him; and he makes us bold and confident too, having removed the guilt of sin, so that now we may look justice in the face, and whet our knife at the counter door, all our debts being discharged by Christ, as these bold acquaintances and familiars of Christ use to speak. And in Christ we design the same end that God doth, which is the advancement of his own glory; that is, I suppose, by trusting unto the expiation and righteousness of Christ for salvation, without doing any thing ourselves, we take care that God shall not be wronged of the glory of his free grace, by a competition of any merits and deserts of our own.”

What the author affirms to be the sum of my discourse in that place, which, indeed, he doth not transcribe, is, as to his affirmation of it, as contrary to God as darkness is to light, or death to life, or falsehood to the truth; that is, it is flagitiously false. That there is any agreement with God, or walking with God, for any men who have no personal righteousness of their own, but are contrary to God, etc., I never thought, I never wrote, nor any thing that should give the least countenance unto a suspicion to that purpose. The necessity of an habitual and actual personal, inherent righteousness, of sanctification and holiness, of gospel obedience, of fruitfulness in good works, unto all who intend to walk with God, or come to the enjoyment of him, I have asserted and proved, with other manner of arguments than this author is acquainted withal. The remainder of his discourse in this place is composed of immorality and profaneness. To the first I must refer his charge, that “our only acquaintance with God and knowledge of him is hid in Christ, which his word could not discover,” as he again expresseth it, pp. 98, 99, “But that the reverend doctor confessed the plain truth, that their religion is wholly owing to an acquaintance with the person of Christ, and could never have been clearly and savingly learned from his gospel had they not first grown acquainted with his person;” which is plainly false. I own no knowledge of God, nor of Christ, but what is revealed in the word, as was before declared. And unto the other head belongs the most of what ensues; for what is the intendment of those reproaches which are cast on my supposed assertions? Christ is the only way wherein or whereby we must walk with God. Yes, so he says, “I am the way;” “There is no coming to God but by me;” he having consecrated for us in himself “a new and living way” of drawing nigh to God. We receive all our strength from him; yes, for he says, “Without me ye can do nothing.” He makes us bold and confident also, having removed the guilt of sin. So the apostle tells us, Heb. x. 19–22. What then? what follows upon these plain, positive, divine assertions of the Scripture? Why, then “we may look justice in the face, and whet our knife at the counter door.” Goodly son of the church of England! Not that I impute these profane scoffings unto the church itself, — which I shall never do until it be discovered that the rulers of it do give approbation to such abominations; but I would mind the man of his relation to that church, which, to my knowledge, teacheth better learning and manners.

From p. 57 to the end of his second section, p. 75, he giveth us a scheme of religion, which, in his scoffing language, he says, “men learn from an acquaintance with the person of Christ; and affirms, “that there needs no more to expose it to scorn with considering men than his proposal of it;” which therein he owns to be his design. I know not any peculiar concernment of mine therein, until he comes towards the close of it; which I shall particularly consider. But the substance of the religion which he thus avowedly attempts to expose to scorn, is the doctrine of God’s eternal election; — of his infinite wisdom in sending his Son to declare his righteousness for the forgiveness of sins, or in satisfying his justice, that sin might be pardoned, to the praise of the glory of his grace; — of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ unto them that do believe; — of a sense of sin, humiliation for it, looking unto Christ for life and salvation, as the Israelites looked up to the brazen serpent in the wilderness; — of going to Christ by faith for healing our natures and cleansing our sins; with some other doctrines of the same importance. These are the principles which, according to his ability, he sarcastically traduceth and endeavoureth to reflect scorn upon, by the false representation of some of them, and debasing others with an intermixture of vile and profane expressions. It is not impossible but that some or other may judge it their duty to rebuke this horrible (and yet were it not for the ignorance and profaneness of some men’s minds, every way contemptible) petulancy. For my part I have other things to do, and shall only add, that I know no other Christian state in the world wherein such discourses would be allowed to pass under the signature of public authority. Only I wish the author more modesty and sobriety than to attempt, or suppose he shall succeed, in exposing to scorn the avowed doctrine in general of the church wherein he lives; and which hath in the parts of it been asserted and defended by the greatest and most learned prelates thereof in the foregoing ages, such as Jewell, Whitgift, Abbot, Morton, Usher, Hall, Davenant, Prideaux, etc., with the most learned persons of its communion, as Reynolds, Whitaker, Hooker, Sutcliffe, etc., and others innumerable; — testified unto in the name of this church by the divines, sent by public authority to the synod of Dort; — taught by the principal practical divines of this nation; and maintained by the most learned at the dignified clergy at this day. He is no doubt at liberty to dissent from the doctrine of the church, and of all the learned men thereof; but for a young man to suppose that, with a few loose, idle words, he shall expose to scorn that doctrine which the persons mentioned, and others innumerable, have not only explained, confirmed, and defended, with pains indefatigable, all kind of learning and skill, ecclesiastical, philosophical, and theological, in books and volumes, which the Christian world as yet knoweth, peruseth, and prizeth, but also lived long in fervent prayers to God for the revelation of his mind and truth unto them, and in the holy practice of obedience suited unto the doctrines they professed, — is somewhat remote from that Christian humility which he ought not only to exercise in himself, but to give an example of unto others. But if this be the fruit of despising the knowledge of the person of Christ, — of the necessity of his satisfaction, of the imputation of his righteousness, of union unto his person as our head, — of a sense of the displeasure of God due to sin, — of the spirit of bondage and adoption, — of the corruption of nature, and our disability to do any thing that is spiritually good without the effectual aids of grace; — if these, I say, and the like issues of appearing pride and elation of mind, be the fruit and consequent of rejecting these principles of the doctrine of the gospel, it manifests that there is, and will be, a proportion between the errors of men’s minds and the depravation of their affections. It were a most easy task to go over all the particulars mentioned by him, and to manifest how foully he hath prevaricated in their representation, — how he hath cast contempt on some duties of religion indispensably necessary unto salvation; and brought in the very words of the Scripture, — and that in the true proper sense and intendment of them, according to the judgment of all Christians, ancient and modern (as that of looking to Christ, as the Israelites looked to the brazen serpent in the wilderness), — to bear a share and part in his scorn and contempt: as also, to defend and vindicate, not his odious, disingenuous expressions, but what he invidiously designeth to expose, beyond his ability to gainsay, or with any pretence of sober learning to reply unto. But I give it up into the hands of those who are more concerned in the chastisement of such imaginations. Only, I cannot but tell this author what I have learned by long observation, — namely, that those who, in opposing others, make it their design to [publish] and place their confidence in false representations, and invidious expressions of their judgments and opinions, waiving a true stating of the things in difference, and weighing of the arguments wherewith they are confirmed, — whatever pretence they may make of confidence, and contempt of them with whom they have to do, yet this