The Fruits of the Incarnation
Grace be to you, and peace.
We have, in the three preceding discourses, considered the Incarnation as a great purpose of the Divine counsels, designed for the ends of God’s own glory, and accomplished by the manifestation of God’s fulness in the person of the Son, who for that end became man: and it remains that we should now shew what fruits, unto the children of men and unto the world, it hath left behind it. To endeavour to estimate how much mankind are the better for this wonderful act of God, is the subject of our fourth and last discourse upon this mighty theme. And here we do, of design, limit ourselves to that which we actually possess, without entering into the infinite field of what we shall inherit hereafter. Not that I can separate the Gospel into parts, and discourse of it piecemeal; but that I can shew how the fulness of it bears upon this present condition in which the world since the Incarnation of Christ hath been passing its days. For I would be considerate of the church’s present sickly and infirm condition; and would not sicken her weakened appetite by presenting such objects of faith as a second advent, and a glorious kingdom of the saints upon the earth; but would humbly endeavour, by serving out some such food as she hath a relish for, to bring her into a state of lustier and stronger health. Because, God knows, I pity from my heart our leanness, and I know too well the communion of the saints to think that I, or any other, can escape from it otherwise than by endeavouring to deliver all the election of grace. There is a law of organisation in the body of Christ, which forbiddeth one to flee from, and stand independent of, the rest. As soon might one member of the body expect to thrive by labouring for itself only.
Now, in considering the subject of the fruits which we have from the Incarnation, I perceive them to be two-fold—the one respecting our knowledge of the grace of God; the other respecting our enjoyment of peace within ourselves. Of the substance of this grace and peace, as derived from the Incarnation, I would first speak. Then I would speak of the free publication of them to men. And, thirdly, of the application of them to every individual.
I am first, therefore, to speak of the substance of that grace and peace with which we are blessed by the incarnation of Jesus Christ.
1. And first, of grace.—The grace of God is an essential and substantial part of the Divine being and existency, like wisdom, or justice, or goodness, or truth: not an accidental, but an eternal and necessary, attribute of his substance; which he may reveal and manifest to his creatures, or withhold to his own enjoyment, as it may seem good to his own infinite wisdom and unrestrained will. But if it is to be manifested to the creatures, those who are the subjects of it must have come under his mortal displeasure; because grace is more than goodness—it is forgiveness and favour to those who have deserved our displeasure. And how creatures are to become objects of the disfavour of God, who is invariable in his goodness, otherwise than by despising his goodness in their creation, and setting his holy will at nought, and trampling on the expressed and ordained laws of their being, is not to be conceived. Sin, therefore, is a pre-requisite to grace; and only a sinner can be the subject of grace: others may know goodness, but sinners alone can know grace. And herein is beheld the mystery of the fall of man, and of the entering in of sin, in order to make way for the manifestation of that grace of God which could not otherwise be divulged. But while this is truly so, and doth comfort us with the power and purpose of God in bringing good out of evil, we are not therefore the less to stand amazed with horror at sin, or the less to admire the boundless love and grace of God in redeeming us from sin. It doth, indeed, but reflect the greater honour and glory upon this attribute of the Divine character concerning which we discourse, that it should come in to restore and rebuild, to heal and remedy, the disagreement and disorder of that most excellent work which was produced from the labour of all the other attributes of God. In all our discourse, therefore, of the manifestation and operation of grace, we should never fail to remember that its fountain is in God, and that ail its abundance proceedeth from him.
But though this grace be an essential part of the Divine substance which doth require a sinful creature to exercise itself upon, it is an act of Divine will and sovereignty whether it shall be exercised at all, and also upon whom it shall be exercised: whereof the great and standing proof is given to us in his having passed by the angels which kept not their first estate, whose sin gives them no claim to that which we of sovereign grace received. There can be no doubt, that the Lord might have left us all to perish in that estate of sin and misery into which we had fallen: otherwise, if there lay any incumbency upon him, it were no more grace, but obligation. If he were not free to pass us by, then was he obliged to take us up; and room for grace there were none.—Grace is not goodness, nor is it harmony, nor is it wisdom, nor any other attribute of God which is exhibited in creation; but it is that power and liberty which remaineth in God after all these have done their work, and seen that work frustrated by sin, to come in the second time, and out of the ruins build a more glorious temple than the first, so framed and fashioned as to reveal hidden treasures of the Godhead which the first could never bring to light. The question, why there should be a ruin at all, we touch not here: we do but say, that a ruin there must be, a fallen and miserable estate of sin, before grace hath any occasion to discover or room to display itself. It is in recovering men from ruin, and saving them from perdition, that the grace of God exerts itself; as his power did exert itself in creating them at first. And grace shews itself in wisdom and in righteousness and in harmony and in holiness and in goodness and in truth, even as creation did: so that I feel obliged to take a somewhat higher ground, and say, that grace is not an attribute of God, like wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth: but a form of the will of God, whereof all those are but the attributes or characteristics. As the will to create was waited on and carried into effect by all those attendant attributes, so also was the will to save. The act of grace is therefore like the act of creation, and hath its similitude in nothing else. It is another mood, if I may so express it, in the Divine mind; another act in the great mystery of manifesting himself. Grace, therefore, is not mercy, but mercy is to be seen in grace; it is not holiness, but holiness is to be seen in grace; and so of every other attribute of the Godhead. It is a new act of the Divine will, in which all the features of the Divinity will manifest themselves.
And, still a little higher to ascend into the nature of grace, I would observe, that it is not, as it were, the second term of a decreasing, but of an increasing series; not of a descending, but of an ascending ratio: it is not the repairing of a breach, or the reforming of a mistake, or the remedying of a disease; but it is the further opening of the mystery of the Divine Being, and the exalting of the Divine handy-work into a higher region: not to place man where Adam was, but far above what Adam had the idea of; to exalt the nature of man into consubstantial and eternal union with the nature of God, and in humanity to make God for ever manifest, and to lift the sons of men into the nearest link of the chain which hangeth from the throne of God. There is a great over-estimate and exaggeration of the work of creation, by transferring to it the spiritual ideas which we have obtained from the regeneration, and decking out the primitive estate of the first Adam with honours derived from the essential properties of the second Adam which is the child of the regenerating Spirit, is as much superior to the first Adam, which is the child of the creating Spirit, as a quickening spirit is to a living soul, as the spiritual body of the resurrection is to the natural body which we have at present; as the prime place and prerogative of heaven is to the possession of a garden, and the sovereignty of angels of heaven is to the sovereignty of the creatures of the earth. And by how much I believe the issues of the regeneration to be unspeakably more noble than the issues of creation were, by so much do I believe this second act of the will of the Godhead, which is revealed in grace, to be more excellent than the former act of creation was. It is a great step forward in the great work of self-manifestation; it is a high advancement in the progress of the stability and blessedness of all things. So much, in general, may be said concerning the nature and dignity of grace.
And now I proceed to speak in particular of grace as manifested in the redemption of sinful men by Jesus Christ. “The Law was given by Moses; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” For though it be oft written in the Old Testament, that God is gracious, and full of compassion, and plenteous in mercy, as was proper to a dawning dispensation, preparatory to the full manifestation of the same, there was no open revelation of the manner how, or the means whereby, a sinner could be justified, until Christ came. They were concluded under sin by the Law, and shut up there, until the Redeemer should come to bear the iniquity of Jacob. Nor could it otherwise be, until the Father was plainly revealed; which, again, could not be, until the Son came forth from his bosom. This revelation of the Father, which no one but the Son was competent to make, is the revelation of the grace which is in the will of God. The name, Father, by which we are permitted to name the First Person of the blessed Trinity, is the proper name of all grace, mercy, and love, combined with all authority and power and will. By which name no one may approach the Godhead, but he who believeth in Christ, and hath been taught of the Holy Spirit. And, in truth, the revelation of God under a Trinity of Persons is the manifestation of his grace; and till grace was to be manifested this name of God Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—could not be named, might not be imagined, must be shrouded in a mystery inaccessible to the view of prophet or to the eye of seer: and I reckon it to be little less than a dishonouring of our Prophet’s prerogative to go about to search for the open revelation of it in the Old Testament, or in the work of creation. I believe that in the work of creation it cannot by searching be found out; and in the Old Testament can be discovered only by the interpretations and fulfillments of the New. And whosoever can frame to utter this name with his spirit, is born of God.
The Father’s grace is manifested in his being willing to become a Father to those who had already subverted themselves from his favour, and brought themselves under his wrath and curse: it was further manifested by his willingness to suffer his Son to go forth of his bosom, and take sinful flesh, and come under cursed conditions; which was a thing never to have been imagined, nor ever to have been believed, had it not been performed; and never to have been performed, had not the grace of God been able to surpass all limits, both of imagination and belief. For in every act of that humiliation of His Son, as in the first idea of it, the Father must be hidden in the righteous Judge; and this, too, that he may be known as a Father. In order, I say, to be known as a Father to the rebellious, he must hide his Fatherhood from the only-begotten and well-beloved Son: which, I say again, were a thing incredibly paradoxical if it had not really been. And it never would have been, save to make known the infinite excellencies and profound mysteries of Divine grace; how justice, and holiness, and most precious sacrifice, and the suspension of tenderest love, how anguish, and tears, and groans, and the strongest torments, and the deepest abasement, must all be swallowed up in the amplitude of the signification and power of grace. I may call creation a pastime, if I call grace a work: or, if you will call creation a work, then I must call grace his strange work, his peerless and surpassing work. The one is but as the formless chaos, upon whose heaving disorder and restless strife the glorious attributes of grace are to be engraven for ever, in the order and beauty and blessedness of an eternal and unchangeable world.
Of this most gracious act of the Father, to suspend his love of his only-begotten Son, the image of himself, the fulness of his own perfections; and to suffer him to come into the sorest tribulation and most perilous risk; yea, to arm his right hand with the sword of his wrath against him, as one accursed;—of this act of the Godhead, I say. the boundless range and immense wealth of grace could never have been known, nor believed, but by the reducing of it into act, and shewing it out in the very fact of the incarnation of the Eternal Word: wherein the mystery of grace becometh manifest, and the contemplation of it possible, though the comprehension of it be utterly beyond our reach. “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not”—no created thing, nor aught that by create could be produced, was of any avail: grace came not under that type at all, and hath no relation thereto whatever. “Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousand of rivers of oil?” No, nor with all the creatures that came forth out of nothing by the power of the creating Word. “Shall I give my first-born for my transgression? the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” It were of no avail. What then?” He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good: and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” He requireth a man, a perfect man, a just, holy, and humble man. This is what will please him: give it, if thou canst: but nothing less; not by a jot or tittle; for heaven and earth shall pass away sooner than he will relinquish one jot or tittle of the Law. There is no sacrifice for a wilful sin: a sin of the spirit cannot be made up for by any bodily gift or visible offering; no, not by the round globe and infinite universe. A man, a perfectly obedient man, a man at all points commensurate with the law of God’s most holy will: that will do. But this was impossible “for all had sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Yea, and there never could be such a thing, as that a creature, come forth out of the all-comprehensive womb of the Word into outward being, should stand there otherwise than under the decree of election; which arresteth the decay of certain ones, in expectation of, and I may say under condition of, Him that was to come and stand outwardly as a man. The Word himself must take a body; the Second Person of the Divinity must go out, and outward stand or fall. This is grace, for the essential Godhead to take a body. The willingness to do so, saveth us and all who believe. ”By the which Will we are sanctified, by the offering of the body of Christ” That act of obedience, written in these words of the 40th Psalm, ” Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of thy book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart,” is the redemption of the fallen, is the ransom of the elect, is the satisfaction of the law, is the manifestation of grace, is the fulness of love, is the stability and blessedness of all things: for which God suspended his wrath at the fall of Adam, and hath borne with the wickedness of man until this day; because his Son had said that word, “Lo, I come;” because the Godhead is gracious, and was pleased to reveal its grace, which could not be otherwise revealed. And as the first act of offering or dedication was, so was every act of the fulfilment and accomplishment thereof. Every act of Christ’s incarnation was an act of self-emptying and man-fullfilling; wherein the Godhead was quiescent, if I may so speak, that the humanity might be wholly active; the Divinity suspending itself, that the humanity, supported by the Holy Spirit, might endure the weight of the offended holiness and justice of God. There were present, in every act, both the Divine and human natures; the Divine nature restraining its power and might and glory, that the man, that the servant, that he who “was made sin for us who knew no sin,” that he who was “made a curse for us,” might in every thing act and suffer and endure. So that, as the divines say, his Divinity was the passive golden altar whereon his humanity was sacrificed for sin. And herein lies the two-fold character of every act of Christ,—its meritoriousness, in that his Divinity was divested in order that his humanity might perform it; its imitableness, in that his humanity did perform it through the sustenance of the Holy Ghost. So that, what grace there was in the first declaration. “Lo, I come: a body hast thou prepared for me, there was in every several act; for every several act was the embodying, the impersonifying of the Divine nature in that particular act of manhood, yea, in that particular penalty of fallen manhood: for I believe literally, as the Apostle literally writeth. “that he was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” Now this is grace, even the incarnation of the Eternal Word: and the eternal union of the two natures is the monument of grace. Of which, let me say again and again and for ever say it, that the measure thereof is impossible, and the estimate incomprehensible, and shall remain so for ever. But we, who are drawn up into its blessed fellowship by the Spirit, shall drink of the exhaustless rivers of his grace, and so shall a the election and faithful in Christ Jesus.
And, touching the grace of the Holy Spirit, it is manifested in the sustaining of the humanity of Christ; in bringing him into the condition of humanity; in the construction of that body unto which he did wed himself for ever; and in the empowering of it to endure the extremity of the Father’s wrath, and the load of every sin whereto flesh and blood are obnoxious. For I believe, and will ever affirm, according to the language of all the Psalms, that the body of Christ, which was without spot and blemish, had yet inherent in it, and resting upon it, every form of infirmity, and was liable to every description of sin; was led into all temptation; yet was not prevailed against, but could always say, “It is no more I, but sin present in me and around me and on every side of me, but never able to over-sway my holy will, or, rather, not mine, but my Father’s:” for he said upon one occasion, “Not my will, but thine, be done:” which word teaches us, that there was a will of the flesh always soliciting him, and, as I judge, far more violently than any other man; which the almighty will of the Spirit, the perfect obedience of the Son of Man, his undismayed faith, his unwearied prayer, his strong cryings and tears, did enable him to restrain during the appointed period of his Incarnation. All sins, infirmities, and diseases had free access to him by the way of his humanity: they nestled in it, but could not pollute it; they begirt it on every side, but could not dismay it; they straitened, tortured, and slew it, but could not bring it under the dominion of sin for one instant; and did but slay themselves, in slaying that body into which they had entered to make war upon the spirit which dwelt therein:\ so that, according as it is written, “He condemned sin in the flesh,” “he bore our sins in his own body upon the tree:” and, taking away the substance of all fleshly sin, he took away the carnal ceremonies and ordinances of the law which made continual remembrance of them, nailing them to his cross. All this he did by the power of the Holy Ghost; because God was with him; because the Father was in him by the Holy Spirit; because the humanity, sustained of the Spirit, as by the Spirit it was formed, was able to receive and unite itself to the Divinity, through all the perilous voyage, from the nativity to the resurrection, or rather to the ascension and installation in glory: when the Holy Spirit, having accomplished this most momentous and perilous act of incarnate grace, did descend to the earth on the day of Pentecost, in order to do for the rest of the elect that which he had done for the first-born of the family, the first-begotten from the dead.
Such, dear brethren, I conceive to be the true account of that fulness of grace which was exhibited to outward observation in the person and work of Christ Jesus, our ever-blessed Lord. And as to him is the origin of the gift due, so to him also, and to him alone, pertaineth the honour of having manifested it. The Father declareth nothing of himself, as Father, but by the Son: and the Son doeth nothing of himself, but by the Father. Nevertheless, it were greatly to misrepresent the truth to say, that, though there was no open revelation before the advent of Christ, there were no indications and promises and unequivocal significations of this grace, which was about to come: for even from the beginning, when man fell, Christ began to be preached, and the effect of this preaching began to be felt. Nay, I will go further, and say, that fallen man, and all the creation which fell with him, are a dim manifestation of, and do make a continual endeavour to reveal the Christ; that, all burdened and oppressed with sin as the creation hath become, and all unworthy to declare its Creator’s being and attributes, it hath yet in itself the promise, and putteth forth the desire, of a higher and holier condition yet to be. Wherein consisteth its burden, that it cannot be what it would be: it is struggling after something better. It would deposit its load, but it cannot. It all waited, and waiteth still, for the coming of Christ; for whom it is a silent witness, and of whom it is a patient expectant. Which the troubled condition of the abject creature to comfort, and to re-establish the peace of all things, is the second fruit and benefit of the Incarnation of the Son of God: that peace which grace worketh in the sinful creature. But rightly to understand this peace, which the earth hath derived from Christ, it will be necessary to look back to the beginning of the trouble and distress.
2. The origin of all trouble and disorder within, as of all trouble and disorder without, is to be found in the sinful condition into which man and his habitation have been brought by the Fall. For it is of the nature of God to create all things perfect and blessed in their kind; and we certainly know that man was so created, and the dominion over which he ruled. There was no breach of peace amongst all the creatures over whom he held the mastery, nor between his wife and him, nor between God and his living soul, nor among the elements of creation, nor any where within all the bounds of his habitation. Of which complete and perfect blessedness that we may have some idea, hear how the Prophet Ezekiel is rapt into visions of glory upon a mere allusion which he makes to Eden, for the sake of illustrating the glory of one whom he calleth the King of Tyrus: “Thus saith the Lord God, Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. From the entering of sin into the mind of man. whence it quickly circulated through his body, and unto the creatures his body-servants, and over the earth his habitation, there would have ensued upon him all the wretchedness and hopelessness of the second death, upon his habitation all the barrenness and misery of the lake that burneth had it not been for that Sacrifice which was slain from the foundation of the world for the atonement of sin; that purpose, which God purposed in himself, to bring in, through the lowly gate of fallen man, the Eternal Ruler and Governor, the Lord and Christ of the universe. But for this there would have remained to us no ambition of better things, nor desire of things unattainable, nor hope of things possible, nor enjoyment of things blessed upon the earth: all would have been flat, remediless ruin, and iron inflexibility of fate: and more speedy than the lightning, and more wasteful than the thunder-bolt would have come the execution of the curse, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Now, seeing that it came not so to pass; and that the being of man and of the earth hath been sustained in some measure of health and wealth, in consideration of the offering which was to be rendered for that first sin and for all its issues; we ought to be at pains to consider the condition into which we came, and the point of fall at which we were arrested in our passage down to the gulf of the second death; and to regard it not only as derived from, but somehow illustrative of, the work which Christ was to accomplish upon the earth. For I believe that in what way the promise, “The Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head,” did prefigure the work of Christ in the Incarnation; so the condition into which man came, being by virtue of that promise detained from falling farther, doth shadow forth in the same degree that condition into which the Incarnation of Christ was to bring his church; and in which we now do actually stand, waiting the restoration of the earth to some better and more blessed estate than that from which it fell. For it is a vain thing to go about to describe the state of Adam and his fallen race as a state of pure devilishness and hellish misery; or to describe the state of the church as a state of angelic rest and heavenly blessedness: which neither of them is; but only the state of transition to the one and to the other of these extreme conditions: yea, and I will add, both of them goodly in their kinds, derived from the sacrifice of Christ, which hath not only virtue to sanctify and bless the holy place of the spiritual church, but in a lower degree also the outward court of the visible church: and, in a lower degree still, the very court of the Gentiles, or the whole world. So that all are his debtors; “his own,” though they know it not; his own by salvation, though they esteem it not. And without taking into consideration the nature of this misery, which Christ removeth from the soul of man, you shall never be able to render any right account, or to make any exact discourse, concerning the peace which he induceth in its room.
As Adam in his unfallen state was a type, and the only perfect type, of Christ, our perfect righteousness; so Adam in his fallen state, and all fallen men, are types of the believer while he is yet waning his warfare in the militant church: and the world itself, with its laws and ordinances of government, its judges and courts of justice, and royal seat of sovereignty and mercy, is a type ordained of God to shadow forth the conditions of the church, and the nature of the government through which God is conducting her to eternal and stable blessedness. When, in virtue of Christ’s sacrifice, man was arrested, and the world arrested, from instant perdition, it immediately came under his administration; and hath been tempered and restrained in its continual tendency to destruction by his mighty power, for the one end of testifying his grace and of educing peace from the disorder which sin had introduced. The curse which went forth upon man and upon woman, and upon the ground for their sakes, not being the curse of death that was threatened, must be held as a constitution of grace and mercy in an inferior degree, proportionate to the inferior light: which should hold together and be made the basis of future operations of the Regenerator, until the complete resurrection and life should be educed, and established for ever. Adam, when he had fallen out of his creation state, was immediately placed under the constitution of the Gospel by the promise—he, and all his children who should exercise faith and hope upon him that was to come. As his posterity sinned in him, and fell with him; so were they in him caught in their fall, and strengthened against their sin, by the promise of Christ: and from henceforth they sinned against that Christ whom they did not choose to keep in their remembrance, or to hand down unto their children. All men sin in the way of infidelity and apostasy, and shall be judged by the Christ whose redeeming promise they did not heed, and whose preservation from the curse of death they did not acknowledge; whose gifts, under the canopy of his eternal love, they turned against himself, to his dishonour and dispraise. And this, which was left in man, this door of hope, this light of reason, and consciousness in the will of its own bondage, is what St. Paul meaneth when he saith of the heathen, in the first chapter of the Romans, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them:” and again; “When the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, not having the law, are a law unto themselves; which shew the work of the law written in their hearts; their conscience also bearing them witness, and their thoughts the meanwhile accusing, or else excusing one another.” If they call this the light of nature, let it be understood that it is the light which is manifested in the reason and will of man in spite of the darkness of nature; and know that all the trouble and despair from which Christ educeth peace, cometh of this very controversy which there is between the freedom of a spirit and the power? of nature which lie with heavy oppression upon its breast.
There is a light in the darkness, a light shining in the darkness, which the darkness never comprehendeth; which light is the free gift of Christ: according to that word of the Gospel of John; “He is the true light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world: ” and this is the light of reason, which all men should have kept as the lamp of God, trimming it with the oil of his revealed will, and waiting for the arising of the day-star, and the dawning of the day upon their heart. And because the virgins have been more foolish than to trim their lamps, and expect the Bridegroom, they will be judged at his coming, every one of them, and rejected from the heavenly and eternal state of his blessedness. And, further, because the light of Christ in man would have been unprofitable without an outward object in which it might exercise itself, I said that the creation, all fallen as it is, is pregnant with a birth, and gives signs to the enlightened of a travailing sorrow. It was arrested on its course to death, and stayed in that condition in which we behold it, and there constituted in a state, not of paradise, and not of death, but between the two; which seemed to Him the fittest to be made the basis of that redemption which he is to bring out of it by the washing of water and the purification of fire. And to this agree the words of Paul, in the same place: “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead: so that they are without excuse; because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish hearts were darkened….And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind…. Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” This language were not proper to be spoken of the Heathen, if they had not been in a state of apostasy from a religion which belonged unto all men, and had its constant ground in the fallen constitution of man, and its constant object in the fallen constitution of things. It is just the language which we could take up at present, and use of the Papal apostasy; and which Paul, looking at it prophetically, doth use of it, saying, “That it shall come in the power of Satan, with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” I am borne out, therefore, and sustained by Scripture, when I say that the condition at which God arrested the fall of man’s soul, and of the creatures, and to which he made known a revelation of redemption to come, ritually represented in sacrifices of blood and offerings of all manner of increase, was a germinating Christianity, a church constitution, a ray of light in the spirit, and a Divine subject of knowledge in the visible creation.
In order to perfect this testimony to the coming Christ, which all creation, even in its fall, was constituted to bear, it was necessary to separate the good from the evil by a distinct ordinance of God:—hence the origin of a revealed law. And this must not be confined to the conscience of man, as if that alone were fallen, but must extend itself over all the creatures:—whence the origin of a law of clean and unclean: not that any thing was clean; but when all was unclean, this was the only way of testifying the uncleanness of any. It was necessary to shew the defilement of nature in all her courses, whether dependent or independent upon the will of man:—hence the Levitical purifyings and offerings for uncleanness. And in order that this testimony might be both constant and conspicuous to all the earth, it was necessary to separate a particular nation for the very end of maintaining it:—hence the distinction between Jew and Gentile. All this was done in preparation for, and in expectation of, Him that was to come: who, being come, must proceed to remove the burden and bondage thus declared, and to work out the deliverance and pacification of the world from this thraldom into which it had come. And thus we are brought to the second part of our subject, which is the peace that we have from the incarnation of Christ.
Now, the Incarnation of the Son of God, being the eternal and consubstantial union of the two natures, human and divine, in one person; as it is the embodying of the grace of the Godhead, and the presentation of it to the acceptance of man, so is it also the exemplification and the assurance of that reconciliation and peace which we have, and can have only, through the faith of this very doctrine, that the Son of God is come in the flesh. For in that act of Incarnation we behold the nature of sinful, fallen, suffering man entering into sweet and harmonious union with the sinless nature of God; the eternal and unchangeable discordancy which there is between the sin of the creature and the holiness of the Creator for ever harmonised; the most violent of all contradictions reconciled; and a door of hope, yea, and of assurance, opened, which no power shall ever shut. That the body of our Lord is the true ground of all peace, is manifest from what St. Paul saith in this Epistle, at the 13th verse of the second chapter: “But now, in Christ Jesus, ye, who sometime were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition which was between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments which stood in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby; and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them which were nigh: for through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” There are three ideas contained in this passage, all of which must enter into the integrity of the peace which came by Jesus Christ. The first, That in his flesh, by the offering of his body upon the cross, he did break down the wall of separation which was between Jew and Gentile, and make them one: which is thus expressed in the Epistle to the Colossians, (2.14); “Blotting out the hand-writing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”—The second idea is, That both being thus reconciled to one another, and represented as united in his one body, he did reconcile unto God, by the offering of his body upon the cross. This idea also is expressed in a corresponding passage of the Colossians (1.20); “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things to himself: by him, I say, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven: And you, that were sometime alienated, and enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled, in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in his sight.”—The third idea is, That out of the reconciliation effected by the offering of his body upon the cross cometh the preaching of peace to them which were afar off, and to them which are nigh. And as the peace-speaking act of the incarnation and sacrifice of Christ is the beginning of all peace, whether between Jew and Gentile, or between God and man; so must faith upon the former precede the possession of the latter: as it is immediately added, in that passage of the Colossians, ” If ye continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not carried away from the hope of the Gospel which ye have heard:” and so it is also written in the fifth chapter of the Romans, ” Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ.” That the peace which we partake through faith in the incarnation and offering of Christ, is purely derived from Christ as a fountain; and was in him first realised and manifested in that wonderful harmony and re-union of the two most violent contraries, the nature of fallen man and the nature of God; is further manifest from his bequeathing it so solemnly: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you.” And in the passage quoted above he is called “our peace:” and in another Epistle it is called, “The peace of God which passeth all understanding:” and in another passage, Christ’s ministry upon earth is called “preaching peace:” and the preaching of the Gospel is called “the ministry of reconciliation,” and is summed up in these words; “That God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto men their trespasses.” These ideas, concerning that peace with which Christ hath blessed the troubled estate of man, I would now endeavour, by the grace of God, and in the strength of the Holy Spirit, to open in order.
1. And first, concerning the reconciliation or peace which he made between Jew and Gentile, or concerning the taking away of that natural burden of all things, and those carnal ordinances which stood in meats and drinks and diverse washings, and were ordained until the time of reformation; I have to observe, that these were but the rudiments of the body of Christ, or the elements of the flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are called “weak and beggarly elements;” and amongst them are included, not only the ceremonies and ordinances of the Jewish worship, but also “philosophy and vain conceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments or element of this world;” unto all which he saith, in another place, that “we are dead with Christ.” In this conjunction of the traditions of the fathers on the one hand, with the institutions of the Jews on the other, and their removal out of the way by the Cross, there is a greater mystery involved than is generally supposed,—even the mystery, touched upon above, that all which had come before unto the Patriarchs and the Prophets, of ritual and formal observances, was but a preparation for, and as it were the materials of, Christ’s fleshly body, which was offered up on the cross, and by the resurrection transformed into the body of glory which now sitteth at the right hand of God. The whole painful and burdensome ceremonial of religion, that heavy yoke “which neither we nor our fathers were able to bear,” was the pregnancy and pangs of the mother, until the child should be born: which child being born, the body of the child being completed, and brought to the light of day, all was accomplished; and the elements in which its ante-natal being had been preserved, having fulfilled their purpose, were of no further use, were good for nothing, whether they existed in the Jewish ceremonial or in the Heathen traditions. When the Word had been made flesh, when the Son of God had taken to himself a body, the whole significance of these ordinances stood in that body, and the burden of them was by that body sustained. For be it carefully observed, that the whole Levitical economy was a remembrance of obligation and of sin; recalling ever to mind the uncleanness of the flesh, the daily transgression, and the need of annual atonement; and shewing the obligation of every possession, that it was not ours in full right, but another’s, holden by us upon the payment of a certain proportion and the fulfilment of a certain service. This was the end of the Levitical institution, and indeed of the Fall-constitution also; and when Christ’s body was manifested, it lay upon that body to sustain the whole of that burden which the laborious Levites and ceremonious Jews, and of that also which the whole creation, had been burdened withal. And not any more in the figure, but in the reality, in very deed and in very truth, had the Lord Jesus to sustain in his body of the flesh all sins for which, under the Law, sin-offerings were wont to be made; and to serve all services for which the earth was holden in possession; and to fulfil all obligations under which the righteous and holy nation had been put until the substance of their righteousness and holiness should come. These were all the memorials of an account unsettled between God and man; of a ransom unpaid, of a captivity unredeemed, of a lordship and seigniority which he held over us and all that we inherit. But now unto Christ’s body this vassalage was all transferred: it was the captive, it was the slave; in sign of which it is said, in the 40th Psalm, ” Mine ear hast thou bored:” it was the beasts of atonement which were slain without the camp for the sin of the whole nation, and for the purification of them and the most holy place. Such was the body of Christ, burdened, not with this man or that man’s sin, but with the sins of the flesh and of the visible world in the abstract; for the knowledge and continual remembrance of which the Jewish nation had been put under Leviticai priesthood. Therefore it is well regarded as bearing our sins, and being the propitiation, not only for our sins, but for those of the whole world. All which divided between the holy and the unholy people, between Jew and Gentile, was now upon him; yea, in him, “in the body of his flesh:” he bore the mighty load.
This is the Apostle’s idea of the flesh of Christ in all his epistles: which having laid hold of, let us now see how he maketh it serve to establish peace between Jew and Gentile, between the holy and the unholy, between God and man. He thus proceedeth: This body of his flesh, which was instinct with every form of sin (yet himself sinless,) which was weakened with every infirmity (yet himself mightier than the mightiest), which was oppressed with every obligation (yet himself under no obligation, but having obligation overall things); this body, thus conditioned, saith the Apostle, he took, and offered on the cross a sacrifice of a sweet-smelling savour: and there he offered along with it all the ordinances and beggarly elements and rudiments of the world, which were nailed to the cross with those very nails that nailed him to that accursed tree; and death passed upon them, and they were carried to the grave along with him: and did they rise with him? Oh no! God forbid that they should rise again! He rose, but he rose free of that sinful wrapping: he left that vile cere-cloth in the tomb. “Behold the place where he lay:” they “saw the linen clothes laid by themselves.” He arose with the body of his glory. There is a likeness of his death and there is a likeness of his resurrection; but these are not the same likeness: for in the former we are now planted, and in the latter we are hereafter to be raised. Now our Christ and our Lord, whom we worship, is not the dead, but the risen Christ; and the body which we are of, is not the body that was crucified, but the body that is risen. The baptism which we are baptized with, in order to enter his church, is a baptism unto death, and a burial with him; that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, we also should walk in newness of life. And so far forth as we are of his church—that is, so far forth as we are in the Spirit —we are the fruits of his death, and wrought upon by the might of his resurrection. It is no longer a fleshly church, but it is a resurrection church; whose first beginning is laid in baptism, signifying our burial with him; “not only the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but also the answer of a good conscience towards God;” “not only the washing of the body with pure water, but the purging of the conscience from dead works, that we should serve the living God.” And if so be then that the Pentecostal church—that is, the church of the first fruits of the harvest which sprang from that grain of corn which fell into the earth—be not a church holding of the fleshly body of Christ, which bare away all those ceremonial distinctions of clean and unclean, of holy and unholy, of Jew and Gentile; but holding of the risen body of Christ, and begotten by the power of the resurrection—which body was clear from all those defilements, and free from all those incumbrances, when, “according to the Spirit of holiness,” he was gloriously and powerfully declared to be the Son of God and Lord of all;—then see ye not that we know, and can know, no distinction of Jew or Gentile, Scythian, bond or free, male or female, circumcised or uncircumcised, but are one and alike in Christ Jesus, who hath abolished all distinctions, and taken all divisions of men from men clean away?” He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition which was between us; having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments that stood in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.”—This I take to be the true account of the first part of the mystery of Christ’s peace-making.
That this was the true Apostolical doctrine of the harmony and peace of Christ’s church, is manifest from the very errors into which it fell. The error of Hymeneus and Philetus, and the believers in the primitive times, was, “that the resurrection is past already;” that is, the first resurrection, or the resurrection of the just—which no believer in the primitive age conceived to be at the same time with the universal resurrection; for how then could they have said it was passed already, when they saw that the graves were still possessed of their dead, and death continually taking the living? The very form of the heresies of those days shew what was the form of their sound doctrine. Now these men, misusing the doctrine laid down above, that the spiritual church is the first-fruits of Christ’s resurrection, and essentially holdeth of the life of the resurrection; misapprehending and misapplying this truth, they said, “Oh, then, that peculiar resurrection which we have in Christ Jesus is already passed upon us, who have been baptized into his church, and have received the Holy Ghost: we are therefore in the New-Jerusalem state, and may take our fill of all enjoyment, and enter into the Millennium, in which is promised an hundred-fold of all those objects of sensual gratification which we have forsaken.” Exactly parallel to this is the notion which now prevails among many of the faithful, that our regeneration, or baptism of the Spirit, is our peculiar resurrection, the resurrection promised by our Lord in these words, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live; ” and prophesied of in the Apocalypse under the name of “the first resurrection.” From which notion I perceive the same mischief to be fast proceeding as was produced in the primitive times. For if the Millennium were no more than the life of the regenerate, then the life of the regenerate ought to be the life of the Millennium, when “they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God.” And though such fruits as were revealed in the first ages have not yet come out of this fallacy, I perceive daily the gradual growth of them. That rest and quietism which mark the inward experience of these, so that they have no wrestlings of spirit, nor great searchings of heart; that thirst of society, which hath constituted them into a world by themselves; that ambition of high and noble names and distinctions; that thirst for large and vast enterprises; and much more which savoureth of a state of fruition, rather than a state of denial; a state of victory and triumph, rather than a state of militancy, shew me the growth of the same effects which heretofore in the primitive times flowed from this dangerous end, that, because we hold of the power of the resurrection of Christ, therefore we have been partakers of the resurrection already. The true answer to which is, the resurrection is the resurrection, and the new birth is the new birth: the resurrection appertaineth to the body, and the new birth appertaineth to the Spirit, and is the work of the Spirit. Resurrection must take place after the body is dead, the second birth must take place after the first birth; the one hath reference to a death before it, the other only to a birth before it. It is just such another abuse of words which makes these same mystics talk of Christ’s kingdom to come being a spiritual kingdom. And the answer is still the same:—Keep words to their proper use: if you mean by spiritual kingdom, power in the Spirit, I have it now, and so hath every one that is born of God; and the apostles had it as much as I have it; and nobody shall ever have more of it than was given at Pentecost. But I find something promised under the name of power, and kingdom, and government upon the earth. Now I know well what power and kingdom and government is, and that I have no inheritance in it at present, but am made subject unto it for conscience’ sake, but am under its yoke and oppression; and Christ is not in it, but the devil and Antichrist. And this I am promised to possess in addition to that which I now possess: wherefore, believing words to mean in Scripture what they mean elsewhere, I will expect it, let you spiritualists and mystics say what you please. Even so this first resurrection, which ye have made no epoch, nor event, nor visible thing at all, but resolved into the work of the Spirit to beget sons unto God, I do and will expect, and assure myself of, as a mystery quite different from the new birth, and a hope in reserve for those who have received the former. I am baptised into my Lord’s death and burial, and thence have the gift of the Spirit sealed upon me; and the life which I live thereupon is by the power of his resurrection; and he liveth in me, and in all his church, by the Holy Spirit. Still we bear about with us the body of sin and death, which is under the law of the flesh; but we have, in virtue of the new birth, a law of the Spirit, which warreth against the law of the flesh and overcometh it; and in which, if we were perfected, we should be without sin, completely restraining and overcoming the law of the flesh; and we might say, with Paul, to those motions of wickedness in the flesh to which we were conscious, yet not consenting, “It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.” Now this is, to my apprehension, the exact condition of our Lord’s being from his baptism, when he was filled with the Holy Ghost. His flesh was liable to all temptations, to all sinful assaults and invasions; he knew, he felt the whole power and might of Satan and sin; in this field they came and went most freely, and by all stripes, strokes, and cruel inflictions of every kind, and cunning devices, and subtle addresses, sought access to his will, to his mind: but his will consented not, never consented, never shifted its steady position towards God, and its steadfast obedience to all his decrees; and so was he sinless and spotless in himself; a worthy, a most worthy sacrifice in the humanity, though he bare our sins in his own body on the tree, though He was made sin for as who knew no sin. And thus being in the likeness, of sinful flesh, and for sin, the Son of God by his holy life condemned sin in the flesh, and by his death triumphed over it, and all the principalities and dominions which it had usurped. Even as Paul saith, in the Epistle to the Colossians (2.15), “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
Now, exactly so are we conditioned from our baptism to our resurrection, as he from his baptism to his resurrection was conditioned. We bear about with us the body of sin and death, judged of Christ, and brought into captivity to the Spirit; which dwelling in us, restraineth it. and holdeth it captive, and triumpheth over it, to the glory of God and of his Christ. Which act of the new life proceedeth from his resurrection, and also precedeth our resurrection; even as Christ’s life of the like kind preceded his resurrection: for with him we must be humbled, if with him we would reign: we must go about with him doing good, and undoing Satan’s evil deeds, if with him we would rise again, and reign, and be presented faultless in the presence of the Father.
I am aware that the Famulists and Friends, not understanding the carnal nature of those ordinances which Christ took out of the way, have dared, upon the strength of such passages as those quoted above, to exaggerate this idea, and to maintain that the observation of the Sabbath, and the ordinances of public worship, and the preaching of the word, yea, and the stated reading of it, and the very sacraments also, are done away with by the crucifixion of the body of Christ. And I would say the same, if they could shew me that these were Levitical ordinances, or that they are fleshly ordinances; but as every one of them is essentially Christian and spiritual, having a reference to the presence of the Holy Spirit and the future advent of the Lord, the notion cannot for a moment be maintained. Baptism, the initiatory rite of the church, signifies the putting off the carnal observances altogether, and the forsaking of the flesh itself; and declareth that every thing which is observed within the house, of which it is the entrance door, is not carnal, but spiritual. Prayer and praise are surely not carnal, but spiritual: and the word of God is the sword of the Spirit: and the foolishness of preaching is that by which God is pleased to save them that believe: and the sacrament of the Supper, which is celebrated in remembrance of Christ until he shall come again, is the standing symbol of our union with Christ by the Spirit, and pledge of our right and title to that new covenant, whose seal shall be broken when he comes again. And for the Sabbath, it ,was instituted in man’s estate of blessedness, and is neither patriarchal nor Levitical, but, like marriage, primeval; and therefore not surely to be put off and on at pleasure by us, to whom it hath been made, not only primeval, but Christian, by the Lord of the Sabbath-day, who hath appointed it to be the memorial of his own resurrection, when he arose the first-fruits of the regeneration and restoration of the world. These institution; Christ hath appointed to signify the continual presence and abiding of his invisible Spirit with his church, and to foreshew his own personal presence in the ages to come; the signs of the separate and elect people, the helps of their communion, and the tokens whereby the world may know the blessing with which he blesseth them: to make his church an outward object for prophecy and the fulfilment of prophecy, until he should come again. These ordinances of the church are therefore not carnal but spiritual; holding not of the fleshly, but of the risen body of Christ; looking back, not to the body of his humility, but to the body of his power and glory. And they are as necessary to a church expectant of a second advent, as the Levitical ordinances were necessary to a church expectant of a first advent. And it is neither safe nor dutiful, no, nor is it permitted, to abolish any one of them, nor to add to any one of them; bet patiently, yea, and gladly, as the means of grace to use them, until by his glorious advent, and the resurrection of his church, he shall set forth in order that millennial kingdom for which we look.
Having guarded against these errors, we return to explain further the peace which is brought unto us in the Incarnation of Christ Jesus.
2. The same offering of the body of Christ deliver us from all which stood in the way of God’s favour and blessedness; brings us nigh, who were afar off; reconciles us, who were enemies; and introduced us into the covenant, who were strangers and aliens from its hope. For those Levitical and carnal observances, as hath been said, were in themselves nothing, but were appointed of God to shew the holiness which he required in those with whom he entered into covenant, and the eternal war which his holiness wageth with the sins of men. The Levitical institution condemned not the Jews only, but men in general; for no man could enter into covenant with God otherwise than by conforming himself thereto. It was therefore a token to the whole world of their inherent wickedness and depravity in the sight of God: and by extending and particularly applying itself to those things in which man hath no will, but which come by the ordinary course of nature, it proved that nature itself, that the animal functions of the creature—the conception, and the birth, and the whole life of the body of man— is under the bondage of an inevitable and necessary sinfulness: and, by punishing these involuntary acts with deprivations and disgraces manifold, it taught the true nature of sin and of punishment,—that they are essential and inseparable from one another, and that guilt is determined by the will of God, and not by the will of man. And by punishing man in his nature, as it were, rather than in his will, it shewed that the will was under the stern bondage of intractable nature; under the obstinate, perverse law of the flesh; and could not be recovered otherwise than by the smiting, judging, and destroying of that flesh, or natural man, which sin had made its strong-hold; that there could be no peace between the Creator and the creature until there was a redemption from the power of that natural law, which had overpowered the spiritual will and Divine purpose under which the creature was formed at the first. And this is further shewn out to my mind by God’s taking the lives of the unconscious brutes; and taking as offerings the first-fruits of the earth in her seasons; as if he would smite nature in her four corners, to demonstrate her universal and consummate wickedness;—yea, and the first-born of man had to be redeemed with an offering; and the Lord’s right unto every child’s death was marked by the bloody rite of circumcision:—all which demonstrated an un-extinguishable variance and hatred between the creature and the Creator between nature and Spirit, between the law of the visible creation and the will of the invisible Creator. And he who believes that nature is any way amended by the course of time, talks like a fool, or an infidel: for, as the mother towards her delivery is more burdened and oppressed, and in her delivery is torn asunder with awful anguish: so nature grows only more oppressive upon the creation as she draweth nearer to the birth and the manifestation of the sons of God: in the act and article of which she shall be rent and torn up to her very centre. To talk of peace to any man, therefore, upon any grounds whatever, other than the Incarnation of the Son of God, it the greatest of all falsehoods, being, in truth and verity, the denial of all which God hath said or done since the fall of man. For what saith the Apostle? “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth together until now: and not only they, but ourselves also, which have received the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of the body.” Now, it is to be understood from all the Scripture, and indeed is of the very essence of the Incarnation, that Christ took upon himself the burden of this fallen nature, and bore it during his life, and carried it to his death; that it was a part of him which died with him, but rose not with him again. Sin, that slayeth all things, he slew; by dying, he did destroy him that hath the power of death. He carried the disabilities both of Jew and Gentile with him to the cross, and by the cross he slew the enmity. There died, not a man, but there died the Son of Man. As in Adam was created not a man, but man; so in Christ died, not a man, but human nature in the general underwent in his death the penalty of the curse; Adam being made the representative of all mankind in his probation, Christ was made their representative in the redemption: according as it is written, “As by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life:” and again, “As by man came death, so by man came also the resurrection of the dead.” If it squareth with the goodness and justice of God, and the nature of sin, that for the offence of Adam sin and misery should descend, as at this day we behold it; then, in like manner, we should expect that righteousness and peace should likewise be derivable from one man, to all who are united to him by living faith. And, dear brethren, no better account can be given of this matter, than that God saith it is so: “Christ reconciled us both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to them which were afar off, and to them which were nigh: for through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Whosoever receiveth Christ therefore by the Spirit, doth enter into peace. Whosoever believeth to be justified by bis righteousness, hath peace with God. Whosoever believeth that the Son of God is come in the flesh, and hath condemned sin in the flesh, is himself delivered from the power of the law of the flesh, and enabled to walk after the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. And to all such there remaineth no condemnation: for “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death:” and “if Christ he in us, the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.” And this is the beginning and the foundation of all peace even reconciliation to God by the cross of his Son. And it is the beginning of all spiritual life, of all good works, and of all blessedness: concerning which I speak not at large, having still another part of this peace to open to you.
3. Which is, the peace that we have, after we have been quickened by faith in the resurrection of Christ, while we are following out the life of faith and godliness. And here I would not place before my brethren any false estimates or descriptions, as if the life of the saints were all smooth and plain, full of ease and enjoyment. I believe it to be a warfare unto the end, with what intermissions and recessions the Lord may grant; which are only granted in order to refresh us for the renewal of the contest with the powers of darkness. And yet I hold, that in the contest, in the heat and strife of it, he that believeth in Jesus, and is reconciled unto God by his death, hath peace; may and ought always to have perfect peace: because the Son of Man, in the midst of that conflict which he had to maintain between the law of the flesh, or the fallen humanity, wrought upon by all the art and power of Satan, and the law of the Spirit, with which he was anointed without measure, did always possess a perfect peace and serenity; of which there can be no doubt, from his having nothing higher to bequeath than his own peace: “My peace I leave with you.” Yea, that he was in every moment of his life the very image of the Father, and mirror of the Father’s clear and harmonious will, is never to be doubted. He was for ever holy, and therefore he was blessed for ever. Which indeed is very marvellous: that all the powers of disorder, all the winds of heaven, should be loosed against him, and invade his passive flesh, and yet not disturb the tranquillity of his spirit. For I reckon that in that agony of the Garden, when his body was so violently wrought on as never before was flesh and blood, his mind was undisturbed, un-swerved from its calm and peaceful contentment with his Father’s will: “Yet not my will, but thine, be done.” Whatever the desire of the man might be, and no doubt, he felt the fulness and sensibility of human feeling, the will of his Father ever prevailed and governed all: and being so kept, he was kept in perfect peace. Otherwise, if all had not been at undisturbed rest within his soul, his word would have had no power to lay the stormy sea, or quell the mutinous legion of devils. But such might hath the unfallen will of man, that when it was again presented to us in the Son of Man, it bare the sway to the utmost bounds of man’s habitation, yea, and to the fallen angels, which had usurped some of its most wretched tenements. Of this perfect peace of Christ Jesus the Mediator having no doubt, notwithstanding the mighty and furious contest of which his humanity was the theatre, I have likewise none with respect to the peace in which the members of his mystical body will be upholden by the operation of the same Almighty Spirit. For, if the Spirit was given to him without measure, then Satan was loosed against him without measure; and if we have not, nor may expect, the like anointing, then the Lord will not permit against us the same fiery onset of the powers of hell. However it may be apportioned of Him who “measureth to every man according to his pleasure,” I doubt no more that we are heirs of Christ’s peace in the conflict with the powers of darkness, than that we are heirs of the conflict, and of the victory over it. The peace which we have in Christ Jesus, is a derived peace, and yet an inwrought peace: it is derived from the fountain of Christ’s peace, and it is wrought into us by the same Spirit which maintained it in him. And it consisteth not in the absence of conflict and controversy, or in the cessation of the militancy, or in quiescence from suffering; but in the firm act of faith, that as Christ the captain was upheld in perfect peace, so shall we also, “though the hills should be removed, and the mountains be cast into the depths of the sea.” I mean not faith in him as the atonement whereby our fears of the Divine wrath are removed, but faith in him as the living Son of Man, after whose image it is the will of God that every saint should be conformed. Which will of God believing, and believing likewise the irresistibleness of the Almighty Spirit, I go into the valley of humility with my Lord, and address myself to follow his thorny and bloody footsteps, well assured that I shall have a peace within me, which no thorn nor weapon of blood can wound to the quick, or at all for a moment ruffle. I believe, that, though the law of my flesh be the most directly and the most sternly opposed to the law of the Spirit, and that reconciliation is utterly impracticable and impossible; yet in the midst of the controversy I shall have an assurance of peace, a presence of peace, which nothing can remove. I shall have it, not by a compromise or truce stricken between the two enemies, nor by the death of the opponent, but by the presence of that Holy Spirit, whose presence is peace and joy. I saw it in Christ: His was the extremest case that ever can be, and contained all within itself: and I believe it will be so also in myself, notwithstanding this body of sin and death with which I am surrounded. And this peace, if it be dependent upon any thing but faith, is dependent upon keeping up the fiery contest, in which if we relax, then is it sure to be eclipsed in a measure. This is all very wonderful, and must sound strangely paradoxical to the natural man; but it is, and ever hath been, the experience of God’s saints, that just in proportion to the spirit and activity with which they were setting the battle in array against spiritual wickednesses in high places, and in proportion to the sufferings and privations which they were thereby enduring, hath been the sure and stedfast peace which they have felt: strongest on the rack, or in the dungeon, or under the gallows-tree, or in the midst of scoffs and scorns and derisions of the multitude. How are they blessed, whose peace the world, as it cannot give, soil cannot take away!
If then, dearly beloved brethren, Christ by his death hath removed the whole of the Levitical institution, which God set up to distinguish between the people that were in covenant and the people that were not in covenant with him, and hath made the Jew and Gentile one, reconciling them all to God; how ought we, who have believed to find our natural peculiarities and distinctions taken out of the way of our cordial fellowship and love one with another! If the whole of that natural obstruction which separateth between us and God, hath been taken away, and from the utmost distance of our alienation w have been brought nigh by the blood of Christ how should we feel at peace with one another and how utterly neglectful of those varieties of wicked nature, whereof the very substance hath been taken away! And if our natural man be crucified with him, and we have a spiritual man born of his resurrection, whose origin, whose strength, and whose nourishment is from the one Holy Spirit, and whose form and type is one, even the man Christ Jesus, formed within us all; how united in love and peace ought we to be one another; how close and intimate our communion and fellowship! Truly, brethren, Christ is our peace; and the law of the Spirit of Christ tendeth to love; and he that dwelleth in God, dwelleth in love. This life of Christ which is in us, is like the life which was in him,—struggling with a load of flesh; to which sin hath free access, and in which it rageth with mighty power: but as the Spirit, which was in him, did restrain the tendency of the flesh to malice, and wrath, and discord, and all hypocrisy, so that he persevered in love to all, and in patience with the enormous ingratitude and blind stupidity of all, and never once, no, never once yielded unto the sore and grievous trial; so, brethren, by the mighty working of the same Spirit shall we prevail against the law of the flesh, to maintain love and peace and blessed harmony and communion with one another. And as he dragged on the body which he had taken to the cross, where he sacrificed it by the willingness of the Spirit; so do we drag on the body of our sin and death, to lay it down in the grave, a willing sacrifice unto God; And as he groaned in spirit, and was agonised with the strongest anguish, while he underwent the strongest contest and warfare which any being ever endured, yet withal offended not the will of his Father, nor broke the law of peace with any creature; so ought we, all-patient of the contest, and all-conscious of the rancorous, restless, murderous law of nature by which Satan is goading us on to all uncharitableness and discord, to maintain the communion of the saints in which we believe, and to love one another with pure hearts fervently. And can we do it? Yes, we can do it, if Christ, who was in all points tempted as we are, did it. Can we have peace and brotherhood amongst so many strangers and foreigners as the Church of Christ is composed of? I say we can, by Christ, who is our peace; by the love of Christ constraining and restraining us; by the mighty working of the Holy Spirit within us, which prevailed to raise him from the dead, and to set him in the heavenly places, and to give him all power for the sake of the church, of which He is the head, and which is the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. Dear brethren, these things are little borne in mind in those infidel, scornful, scoffing times; but verily they are the old, and the only righteous, ways in which we ought to walk; and in which, as we make progress, we shall obtain the blessing of God upon our heads and upon the heads of our children, and be a crown of rejoicing unto the church of Christ, valuable witnesses in the midst of the fast consummating apostasy, and patient expectants of the coming of the Lord in power and great glory, to be avenged upon all those who know not God and obey not the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Such, we conceive, is the true doctrine of the holy word concerning the grace of God which bringeth peace; and we come now to speak of the manner of its declaration unto lost and ruined sinners. Concerning which, I have this to say in general, that I would take no lower example than that of the great High Priest and Apostle of our profession, the Lord Jesus Christ; who, as he purchased and procured, so was he the first to minister the gift. No one, surely, can refuse to be guided by so good an example, or to submit to such high authority. And what was his method of making known the grace of God unto sinful men? Of this we have the example in his discourse with Nicodemus, to whom his first lesson is, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” And how this new birth is accomplished he declareth, in the same place, to be by no outward ordinances or means. Albeit he gives to baptism its due place, yet, saith he, that every one who is born of the Spirit is so born, not by calculation of means, or mere arrangement of plans, but by an invisible power from on high, as much, and far more, above the calculations and arrangements and powers of men, as is the motion of the viewless winds; whose rushing sound you hear, but whose substance you see not, and whose motions, hither and thither, are under the control and with the knowledge of no earthly power. By which word the Lord doth signify no uncertainty nor lawlessness, no hap-hazard nor instability of purpose, nor undefinedness of end in the Holy Spirit’s work; but, simply, that it is not reducible to any rule of man’s foresight, nor attainable by any means of man’s invention, nor resident in any ordinance so as to be necessarily connected therewith or unerringly wrought thereby;—that the children which he begetteth are not born “of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” However, with respect to the procession of the Spirit the Lord speaketh not in this discourse with Nicodemus; reserving that point to be opened at large to his disciples in his last discourse. But thus far this passage serveth us, to shew that the beginning of sanctification—and if the beginning, then also the continuation and perfecting of it—is separated from all human help and all visible means, in the immediate power of God. Not that human help is not blessed; for God hath appointed helps in his church, of which the principal is the ministry of the word: not that visible ordinances are not mightily blessed; for they are of Christ’s appointment, and therefore he will take care to honour them: but that the help of the ministry and the ordinances are nothing in themselves, yea, worst than nothing—a stumbling-block, a refuge of lies— unless they be looked to simply as ordinances of the will of God, and vehicles of the Spirit; vessels indeed to hold the water, but stony vessels, leaden cisterns; which, if you would bruise them, would only bruise into dry dust; if you would melt them, would only melt into deadly scorching liquid but would not yield you one drop, no, not a drop of the living water, with which, to the lip of faith they are filled by the Holy Ghost.
Nevertheless, in this very discourse with Nicodemus the Lord doth not fail to exhibit himself to the whole world, with what conspicuously the brazen serpent was exhibited to the whole camp upon the top of the pole; to present his wounded, bleeding body upon the cross to all the world with the same assurance of health with which the serpent-bitten people were surely healed And as the language used is of the very largest character,—”whosoever believeth in him”—”He cometh not to judge, but to save the world as the condemnation is rested upon the rejection of—the light,—”this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, but that men loved darkness rather than light;” and, above all, because the emblem chosen is of so remarkable a kind for its conspicuousness; and the cure dependent upon nothing but a look, and that look free to all; and all so prompted by stinging pains to give it at every stage of the disease, from the first moment of the serpent-bite to the last moment of departing life:—for all these reasons I have no more doubt that it is as essential to make a free, full, and universal offer of Christ’s salvation, as it is essential to declare that never was a man the better for it unless the Holy Spirit applied it unto his soul; yea, that it will prove, to all who wait not for and obtain not the Holy Spirit, nothing but judgment and reprobation and the unpardonable sin. These two things, then, I find united in this discourse of the Lord Jesus,—his own lifting up for the salvation of the world; and the impossibility of our ever inheriting, or even seeing, his kingdom, but by the new birth of the Holy Ghost: and I conclude assuredly, that they are equally essential parts of every declaration and every publication of the Gospel.
But there is one element more, to make up the fulness of the Gospel message of salvation, which is likewise contained, though not explicitly propounded, in this discourse of the Lord: I mean, the will of the Father, as preceding, both in the purpose and in the operation, the manifestation of the Son and the work of the Holy Ghost. This grand fundamental principle, this first and parent element of all word and of all operation, is implicitly contained in these words, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son.” For if the gift be his, then all the value of the gift must be acknowledged to come from him, and all the efficacy of the gift likewise: and if the gift proceeded from his love, then his love is to be preferred before the gift, because it was before it: and we are not greedily to devour the gift, and say, “Ah! I have gotten it,” as do a scrambling, avaricious mob; but we are earnestly to contemplate the mystery of love out of which it proceedeth, and to behold the magnitude of the love which it contains. We should do this first, acknowledge the Father’s awful, self-originated act of love: then peruse with faith and desire the gift of his Son, which he hath given us: and, finding that the coming of the Comforter is necessary to our being made partakers thereof; and that of ourselves we cannot take hold of it, but that this Comforter is freely given in the gift, and honoureth us by fetching it into our souls, and possessing us with its rich fountain; we should wait for, desire, and stretch out our arms to receive, reverently entreat, and delight to entertain, and willingly submit ourselves to, that last Divine visitor—last in order of procession, but first in operation—who worketh in us faith upon the Son of God; who leadeth us unto the Father, and enableth us to do all the good pleasure of his will. But that so important, the most important, the first principle of the Gospel message, may come before you in its true light, I turn to another discourse of the Lord; and it mattereth not, dear brethren, to which, they are all so constant to the declaration and so full of the spirit of it: for well might Christ say, he spoke nothing of himself, that he did nothing of himself, that he bare not witness of himself, but of the Father which sent him.
As it were at random, therefore, I open the Gospel of St. John—that record of the truth—and I find it thus written, in the discourse which he made concerning the communion of his body and his blood (6.37): “All that the Father giveth me shall come unto me; and him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” Not only, then, is He the gift of the Father to the world, but every believer is the gift of the Father unto him: these come to him: these he keepeth, losing not one: these he bringeth unto the Father, for he is the way unto the Father, and no man cometh unto the Father but by him. But first the Father must give them unto him: “Thine they were, and thou gavest them unto me.” All included in this gift come to Jesus; who doth in no wise cast them out, but keepeth them, by the power of his Spirit, unto salvation; redeemeth them from the power of the flesh, and of the world, of death, and of the grave; investeth them with royal vice regency in his millennial kingdom; and afterwards presenteth them unto the Father, along with that kingdom which they have been joined with him in subduing and purifying, and which is to be presented unto Him without spot or blemish or any such thing; and, when purified, to stand the monument and trophy of redeeming grace; the peculiar seat and chosen abode of the God-man, and of his court of redeemed ones; from whence, and by whom, with swift ministry he shall rule and reign over the universe of God. For observe what follows this precious declaration, “All that the Father giveth me shall come unto me, and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out: For I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me: and this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. Whereby we perceive that the work of redemption is not yet completed, though the price of it he fully paid; that the election have to be drawn out, the kingdom established, and the day of the resurrection and judgment accomplished, before the will of God be done, and the work of the Son of God be finished. But in all the progression, as in the first beginning and origination of it, he acknowledgcth the will of the Father to have the priority in relation to his own work: and I conclude that every minister of Christ should do the same: should shew forth the will and purpose of the Father; should postpone everything to it; should shew every thing as proceeding from it; should trace up every thing unto it,—all that the Son hath revealed in the written word, all that the Spirit hath wrought in the church: and he who shunneth to do so, shunneth to declare the counsel of God, dishonoureth Christ’s prophetic office, setteth up himself as some great one; and if he flincheth from doing so, he feareth man rather than God. he hateth the true church of Christ, and is fast apostatising to some fatal heresy.
Some of you may haply murmur at this. So did those Jews of Capernaum: and what Christ said to them, I say unto you who murmur, “Murmur not among yourselves: No man can come unto me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” That is to say,—”You who murmur, do only growl aloud your own rejection and reprobation of my Father, and attest the truth of what I said, “that no man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” Murmur you will, and murmur will every man who heareth of me, till the end of time. The reluctant, the enslaved will of man, and Satan its oppressor and master, will ever hate the will of the Father revealed in me. There is in me no form, nor comeliness, nor beauty, that I should be desired. I am the embodied will of God, in whose image ye were created; but now ye are under the will of the flesh, which is so contrary to God as to be cursed of him to death. The resistance, that repulsion, that most violent contradiction in the universe of God, must be overcome by my Father, whose almightiness alone is able to draw against the power that draweth you away from him. Doth not the Scripture suppose this state of things under the new covenant, when it saith, “And they shall be all taught of God?” Now every man that hath received this teaching; every man that hath heard the testimony of me, which is the spirit of prophecy; every one that hath heard what God spake at sundry times and in divers manners, by his servants the Prophets, unto the fathers, will come now unto me, and hear what the Father speaketh by his own Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.
I have nothing more to say concerning the example of Christ as a preacher of his own Gospel, than solemnly to declare, in the hearing of his church, that in all his discourses, and in all the discourses and letters of his Apostles, I do find these three elements concurring,—the powerful will of the Father, the free presentation of the Son unto the world with the gift of the election in him, and the working of the Spirit upon the heart of every believer. And it must be so, or else there is no doctrine of the Trinity. If these parts are not to enter into every discourse of the work of salvation, then the Trinity is a mere chimera, is an invention of the subtle brain, is a falsehood. But if the doctrine of the Trinity be the foundation of all orthodox doctrine, as I believe it to be; if the Trinity be the only eternally existing substance, from the operation of whom all things that are, have been created out of nothing that is seen, but out of the invisible will, word, and Spirit of the Godhead; if all things that are, and every thing that is, be but the shewing forth of the Divine Essence of the Triune God, in the bringing of which into existence each person hath had his proper office and activity; but, above all, if the Gospel of Jesus Christ be the manifestation of the Trinity, that great work of God by which the Divine being of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost became known, and the work from which the Godhead began to be named by that name: if these things be so—which every one, not a Socinian, believeth—then I do say, that every act of the preacher of the Gospel is incomplete, yea, is not an act of preaching Christ, which doth not contain the three offices of the Divine Persons, and display them. For the Son of Man, the Christ was not the manifestation of the Son only, but he was the manifestation of the Father also; “For who so hath seen me hath seen the Father.” And he was the manifestation of the fulness of the Spirit also, who dwelt in him, in his immeasurable and infinite abundance of power and wisdom. Yea, Jesus Christ was the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the declaration, the revelation, of the work of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost in the redemption of the world: and he is no minister of it who cannot draw it from this fountain; he is no minister of it who cannot trace all the stores of doctrine, of principle, and of act, to this fountain. I say it the third time, and will stand to it while I have a being, that he is no minister of the Gospel who doth not shew forth the co-operation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in the Gospel of Christ, in the salvation of every soul, in the production of the church, in the manifestation of the kingdom, in the eternal glory of the finished and completed work.
To make this point still more clear, and at the same time to exhibit the danger of overlooking it, let me now shortly point out the consequences which flow from neglecting any of these essential parts of every declaration and of every work of Divine grace.
Among those who hold the doctrine of the Trinity—for in respect to those who deny the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I can no more regard them as Christians, than the Jews would have regarded as Jews those who denied and abjured the sacred name of Jehovah—among those, I say, who hold the Trinity of Persons in the Divine substance, the great majority of errors, I had almost said all errors, are to be attributed to the undue neglect or the undue preference of some one or other of these three great heads of doctrine; or, to speak theologically, these sects arise from dividing the substance or dissolving the unity of the substance of the Godhead, through the vulgar understanding and deceitful influence of the word “three,” and of the word “persons.” I shall enumerate and shew you the derivation of certains the most conspicuous and notable divisions int0 which the church falleth through this cause.
Of those who err in respect to the office of the Father, there are chiefly two parties: first, to Antinomians, who make his office the whole, instead of the first and chief one in our redemption: and the Arminians, who make nothing of it at all. These two are opposites to one another and bear each other up, from standing at the opposite points of the circle of truth. The Antinomic are ever insisting upon the decree of election, as! will not dwell upon the Son, by whom that decree was opened, and by whom the power and the fore of the regenerate man was brought unto us. They talk of his seed being in him from all eternity; their being elected, and justified, and sanctified is him from all eternity: and they might add, rises and blessed, and glorified also; for so far Paul go in the Ephesians, and so far will I go along with them, and so far must every one go who understandeth any thing concerning the relation of the Father to the Son, in whom he beholdeth things from all eternity that have been or are to be in time. But when they stand still at this point, and will proceed no further, then are they wilful and foolish: for, if Christ the head had to become manifest by the Spirit, and to keep the Law, and be obedient unto the death, then have all the members of Christ by the same Spirit to become manifest, and to be brought through the same probation, and to achieve the same victory over the devil, the world, and the flesh, over sin, and death, and hell. And it is as necessary to the work of salvation that the Holy Spirit should make us manifest as the sons of God, formed in the image of Christ, as it is that we should have been included in the purpose of the Father. Wherefore I will ever take my liberty in presenting the person of Christ as the type of his people, into which they are to grow up from the new birth, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; and so ought every Christian minister. But as to the Law of Moses, they may go and yoke themselves into its harness who please: for my part, I prefer Jesus Christ as my law and my lawgiver, and I expect, by the Holy Spirit within me, to be conformed thereto. I am not of Moses, but of Christ; and sure I am, Moses and his economy, law moral, ceremonial, and political, had no end or object at all but Christ; who, being come, I will peruse and delight in, because I love the day-light better than I do the signal-lamp of the night, or the twilight of the morning.
The second class are the Arminians, who reject the will of the Father altogether; or, if not altogether, subject it to conditions which make it dependent upon the will of the creature, and that, too, a depraved fallen creature: than which nothing can be more dishonourable to God, or more deceptions unto ourselves. In consequence of which disorder in the main spring and moving power, their whole system is out of joint. They offer the Gospel unto all, but keep back the truth that no one can can lay hold of it except his will be renewed after the will of God: and so, in the very offer of the Gospel, they inculcate a fatal error, that the will of man hath a liberty in itself toward good as towards evil; whereas, every body knows, and they themselves will confess when hard pressed, that it is underlying a grievous yoke of bondage. Now, this mistake in the beginning is fatal in the issues; for a religion of will-worships engendered—that is, a religion of outward form; and inward reforms, of frames and of feelings, of sensations and emotions, of abstinences and severities, of such a kind, in short, as we see among the Papists, and are beginning to see amongst ourselves. For if the will confess not its bondage, nor seek redemption at the will of God, nor acknowledge the Father’s as the only absolute will, what is there left, but that the will of the creature should do its best to set up the frame-work of a system according to the strength which resideth in it! And forasmuch as a fallen will must seek for some guide to itself which it deferreth to; when it doth acknowledge this in the will of God, the supreme and absolute, believing that it hath in itself a certain power and faculty of well-doing by what shall it be guided, but by expediency or the greatest quantity of visible good and attainable usefulness? And, accordingly, you shall never find Arminianism a religion of accommodations, amalgamation of contraries; trying to wash the Ethiopian white, and to say barefacedly that he is white: striking a truce between the world and the church; and foregoing God’s presence, in order to do the world good. And as to believing an apostasy and reprobation in the church, they would not speak of such a thing, it is to pious ears so shocking; but they call the abominable Mother of Harlots,” our erring sister:” and that is well said; twin sisters they are; and twin-sisters in error they are: for from no worse a stock did the Papacy spring, than this same loving intermarriage of the natural and the spiritual man, who till death are the most violent enemies; this same tender-hearted mediation between the church and the world; this benevolent disposition of doing all the good in our power by any means, and in the very shortest way.
Between these two extremes of Antinomianism and Arminianism, the Calvinists take the middle and the true ground—I use that name for want of another, which might stand in proper contrast with the two former; but I would rather say, the doctrine of the churches established in these lands, as they are set forth in our Reformation standards, and were expounded in preaching till after the Synod of Dort; when, in England, Arminianism got the upper hand, which it hath kept till this day; and was only driven out of Scotland by the sword and by the bow of our forefathers. For, setting out with the purpose of God to bring out of the Fall a great manifestation of grace, we say it was absolutely necessary thereto that he should suspend, by his own electing love, his sovereign electing love, of which no man nor angel can give any explanation, nor will he himself, except it be in that name, “Jehovah, I am that I am:” by this it pleased him, in foresight of nothing, but on purpose to make his Son manifest by Incarnation, to suspend the ruin of certain, whom, by the ministry of the word and Spirit, he would in his own time draw out and manifest, to the glory of his sovereign grace, by which he maketh them acceptable in the Beloved. And thus believing, we proceed to minister the Gospel in the open face of the world—that is, to hold up Christ in the sight of the camp, calling all to look upon him: and, withal, we tell them that no man can come unto him except the Father draw him; and that no man can enter into his kingdom unless the Holy Spirit renew him from the very birth. And having held up Christ, the fulness: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we leave the matter then in the hands of the blessed Spirit, to bring out the election of the Father, and join them a eternal union to the body of Jesus Christ. And who will tell me that this is not preaching the Gospel freely? It is that which reformed the nations, which this Arminian style of it is threatening to methodise, or, as they phrase it, to evangelise: but I refuse the term, it ought to stand “methodise;” for as the doctrine is a low, and in a good measure a false, method of doctrine; the religion it produceth a low, and in a good measure a false, method of religion.
Now, the second set of errors in the Trinitarian church ariseth from isolating the substance of the Son, or over-rating his office, as if it were all in all. This is particularly the short-coming of those who call themselves Evangelical, and of all are wont to pride themselves in being Bible Christians: and I am sorry it hath seized too many of the intellectual men of the Church of Scotland, who should know better; and given origin to a notion of faith which could not have lived in the region of the North fifty years ago, but would have been preached out of the king’s dominions from the one corner of the Kirk unto the other. And it is doing the work of Arminianism, where the name of Arminianism dare not be uttered. But of this in its place.—In Christ’s incarnate Divinity, as hath been said, not only the eternal word, but the will of the Father, and the work of the Spirit, were all embodied in their fulness; that we might know the Father and the Holy Ghost as well as the Son; but when the incarnate fulness of the Godhead was exalted into glory, that object of his mission was served, and the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, in their separate personalities and offices, stood revealed. Wherefore his Apostles were commanded to baptize in the name of Jesus no longer, but in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. It is not, therefore, right for any disciple of Christ to rest in the perusal of his person only; but through that most blessed way to ascend unto the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost; to know them, and to honour them, in their several personalities, and so to preach them unto the church—for into that name the church is baptized, and for the testimony of that name the church is maintained, until the Lord shall come again, and reveal in the glorified condition that same fulness of the Godhead which he formerly revealed in the condition of humility. Therefore they do not well, but do exceedingly straiten themselves, and depress the standing of their people, who will only dwell upon Christ and him crucified, and will not go on to divide the personalities of the Divinity, while they divide not the substance; for they keep them under the shadow of the fleshly, which, even to those who saw and felt it, was inferior to the spiritual dispensation that came at Pentecost, so that it was expedient for him to go away;—how much more inferior is the mere report and description of that veiled glory and flesh-encumbered activity of the Godman! If they will recompose the personalities, and see them manifest together once more, let them carry the expectations of the church forward to His coming, “whom, having not seen, we love;” whom we would not see in the flesh, because we have a more excellent sight of him in the Spirit, and wait for a more excellent still in the manifestation of his glory. At the best, I say, it is but a shadow or description of the fleshly body of Jesus which is at this day presented to the people called Evangelical: and they do consequently dwell in a darkness that maybe felt, groping their way, like men in a mist, whose imaginations are full of precipices and pit-falls; and whose ears are terrified with every voice, lest it should be a lion roaring on the path, or a hungry wolf tracking their footsteps. And, from this looking upon Christ manifested in the flesh, the fulness of the Godhead veiled, they are continually poring upon the book which reporteth it, instead of waiting for the Spirit, which worketh in us the same mind that was in Jesus; the Spirit, that overflowing fountain of living water; which springs out of the belly of the truly spiritual believer. But so it is, that, forgetting, or almost forgetting, the Spirit; using him merely as an oculist, once and away, to couch their eye; they go on reading and reading, like school-boys: and they will have their little text in the morning, to be their talisman through the day; and their little morning comment on it; and they are full of expositions.—Oh, this is a drudgery, a weary drudgery, to one who knoweth the power and presence of the Spirit to originate truth in the fountain, and give answers from the oracle. And as to any idea of Christ dwelling in us, they have lost not only the substance, but the reverence of it, and explain it away into a figure and a metaphor: and what have they left, but the paper and print of the book? which, with shame I declare it, they talk about more after the style of a Mohammedan talking about the Koran, or a Jew about the Talmud, than of a spiritual Christian united to Christ speaking of the word of Christ. For if I have Christ, I have more than his word, I have himself; he dwelleth in me and I in him.
Hence cometh that bastard notion of faith, which I cannot away with,—that it is merely the link which joineth the mind of man with the record of the book. And they are grown so conceited of their discovery, that these barren children will go about the country, and laugh to scorn their fruitful fathers, as having been fruitful only in mysticism and absurdity. I do devoutly abhor this nostrum (for I can give it no better name), for making all mysteries plain; and if God spare me, I shall yet live to expose it. They go about—and men they are, many of them most dear unto my soul—to speculate concerning Christianity, as they call it; how intellectual, how moral, how political it is, beyond all systems; how it is accommodated to the faculties of the understanding, to the feelings of the heart, to the wellbeing of the community; how it will purify the brackish fountains of knowledge; how it will heal the dis-temperature of the moral atmosphere of society, and do a thousand fine things; for the sake of which they would pray men to be so gracious as to give ear unto their God. And thus they seek by smooth and flattering words, and well turned sentences, and well-built arguments, to produce that natural faith; which is no faith, but sight, intellectual or moral or prudential discernment. But I say unto you, ye cozeners of human nature, that faith is by pre-eminence the gift of God; and, wherever given, will fight against nature in all its courses; it will beat down the works of the natural man, and your beautiful nature it will conflagrate; your knowledge it will blow away into thin air, and sublime towards the limbo of vanity beyond the moon; your sentimentalists, your men of feeling, your songster; sweet, your novelists, your moral scaffolders, (for build a wall or lay a stone in its true place they never did, nor will do), the whole tribe of your naturalists, rationalists, and neologians, with which the sun-beam swarms, and the very glittering element itself in which they flutter, this Gospel, whose suitableness to improve them all you fondly prate and preach about, will first utterly destroy, as so many gewgaws, which Lucifer, the son of the morning, hath made to mislead and destroy benighted men groping their way darkly on to death and destruction. O Scotland! O my country! that thou shouldest have nurse and that thy best and dearest children do patronise, these low thoughts concerning faith and the work of religion! May the Lord God, whom my fathers have served in faithfulness for many generations, enable me, or some more worthy servant of his, to expose the utter futility of all such idle conceits, which have come of forgetting that it is an Invisible God we worship by the Spirit, and not an Incarnate God whom we worship in the flesh, or by the report written of him in the Book.
There is a second error,—to make nothing of the word at all, but to consider it as utterly superseded by the indwelling Spirit: which is the very opposite of the former, and so supporteth it, and is by it supported: like Antinomianism and Arminianism, helps-meet for each other’s weakness, and unable to stand alone. I wonder there should have been any need of an Incarnation at all, or of any Prophet, or of any Apostle, if, as these fondly conceit, the Spirit could do this work alone. Or do they mean that the Spirit cometh of himself, and proceedeth not from the Father and the Son? and if he proceed from the Father and the Son, will he not confirm the testimony which they have given of themselves? But, hold: how came they by the knowledge of that Spirit; yea, that there is any Holy Spirit; yea, that there is a Christ; yea, that there is a Father, Son, and Holy Ghost one God? Did they suck it in with the milk of their mother; or did angels whisper it in their ear in the silent night; or did they hear it at the market-cross, where merchandise and monies are talked of? Or have they it from the spheres above? Or whence? I will answer the question: they have it from the Bible, or from the traditions of the Church, or from the writings of Fox and Barclay and others who were instructed by the Bible. And when they or their instructors discovered these things in the Bible, did they find it written there, that after they had discovered them they should cast the Bible away? The holy Scriptures are God’s word, to lead us unto God: they are the record of his acts, foreshowing his providence to the end of time: they are the light of the church’s hopes, and the directory of her prayers, and the treasury of the wisdom which the Spirit hath given to the churches: and as such they are to be devoutly used, and constantly believed, and acted upon in all our hopes and desires, that we may come into the communion of the Father and of his Son Jesus Christ. Nor are they then to be set aside, but to be continually used, for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness unto which we ought to bring all our thoughts and words, and acts, that we may discover those which are done in the Spirit from those which are done in the flesh. They are a light unto our feet, and a lamp unto our path; but they are not the strength which enables us to walk in the ways of God: yea, and Christ himself is the true light which lighted them, and of whom they have also the oil; so that I may say, they are but the lamp into which he poureth the oil of the Spirit. They are the food, for man liveth by every word of God; but they are not the life which desireth and digests the food: yea, and I may say that the flesh and blood of Christ is the only food, and they are but the descriptions of its many excellent virtues and effects to nourish the soul. The holy Scriptures have the same relation to the Eternal Word of God, which the letter of a true-hearted husband, written fairly and fully to his wife, hath to that husband himself; whose presence, and whose person, and whose very self, she greatly preferreth to his written letter, however tender and sweet. So have we Christ by the Spirit, and do greatly prefer that union with him to his written epistles; which yet were most necessary to bring us acquainted with his love, and are so still to preserve us in our duty to our Lord and Master.—But time doth not permit me to unfold the half of these errors. Only I remark, that they all come from one source, which is, the dividing of the substance of the Godhead, and the supposing that any work whatever, whether in creating or in redeeming, is perfected without the conjoined and combined operation of the three Persons.
I now proceed to open one or two of the errors of the like kind arising from the separation of the substance of the Holy Ghost from the substance of the Father and the Son: the natural effect of which is to introduce mysticism in every form, from the highest Pietism of the Church of Rome, down to the lowest Methodism of the Protestant Revivalists. For if you cease to regard the Spirit as proceeding from the Father and the Son, to work the will of the one and to perform the word of the other; if you receive him as an independent Divinity, whose work is to be seen within yourself, and whose being is to be thence demonstrated; you find yourself at once lost in the multitude and variety of your inward feelings and emotions, without a rule to refer them to, or a model after which to conform them. If we do not look upon the Son of Man as the Spirit’s perfect work, and understand the Spirit’s procession to be for the end of begetting children in his likeness: in what likeness then? How shall we know the wanderings of fancy, the embodyings of imagination, the workings of diseased nerves, the peculiarities of bodily or mental constitution, from the sacred and constant work of God! This notion may begin in the Spirit, but it will end in the flesh. It may begin in the most lofty refinements of spiritual-mindedness, but it will end in the lowest and most brutal excesses of the natural man. So necessary is it to have one man, even the man Christ Jesus, to look to, as the great prototype of spiritual men, that I have no hesitation in setting this view of the work of the Son of God on a level with, if not above, the view of him as an atonement. And therefore it is that in this whole discourse on the Incarnation I have sought to bring out the humanity of Christ in its true colours: while I never lost sight of his Divinity. For, once say that in any part of his life he is not imitable, he is not approachable, and you do open the widest door for mysticism and superstition to enter in. In every thing he behoved to become like unto the children, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest over the house of God: and in every thing he was very man; and being very man begotten of the Spirit, he is to be imitated, yea, and to be followed, in the full faith of our being in every thing made like unto him. Those who shrink from this aspect of their Lord, do so because they are grown nervously sensitive upon the subject of his atonement and vicarious suffering; but the man who apprehendeth this matter aright is nothing moved, but greatly confirmed thereby: for in this very thing, that every action was a true man’s action, consists the merit of it;—the merit that he should have humbled his Divinity, or emptied it out, or suspended it (express it as you will), in order to be found in fashion as a man, and do a man’s action. But if it be no more a mere man’s action, but an action proper to God, and not to man, then is there no descent, nor humiliation, nor merit in it whatever. This is what man can never do; he cannot descend from the Divine Infinitude of being, because he is a creature, and cannot pass his bounden duty as a creature. Nay, but, being an abject, miserable sinner, he must be elevated from the lowest depths of impotency and vileness, in order to do the act of a righteous man. Christ hath descended from the height of uncreated being; but man hath to be raised from the depth of hell, and the deadness of the grave: and this is the wide difference. The one, an infinite condescension, infinitely meritorious; the other, an infinite elevation, infinitely gracious; to which, nevertheless, the infinite condescension of Christ hath received an infinite power to raise any sinner; to raise him in this present life to the same walk in the Spirit whereof he shewed us the pattern. But this doctrine of the imitableness of Christ’s life by every spiritual man hath been so abased to the mere copying of his outward acts by the natural man; and it hath been so abused to bear down the meritoriousness of his obedience, and the doctrine of atonement thereon founded; that our divines and preachers have of late shunned it so much as to have suffered the notion to insinuate itself of a superhuman character in the Lord’s life, which has opened the flood-gates of mysticism: for wherever you are without a model, there have you mysticism: and the only way not to have it, is to preach the person of Christ as the person of every Christian, and the life of Christ as the life of every Christian, and the being of Christ as the being of every Christian. And this evil hath been muck helped on by the substitution of a book for a person; the perusal of a book for the perusal of a person; the worship of a book for the worships: a person.
One word more before I leave this subject. As all idolatry among the nations consisteth in the worship of the creature, or the creation, instead of the Creator; so all idolatry in the church consisteth in worshipping the work of the Divine Persons, instead of worshipping the Divine Persons themselves in the work. The secret decree or purpose of the Father, rather than the Father in the Son, is the object of worship to our Necessitarians and Fatalists. The written word, which is one work of the Son, is the object of worship to the intellectual Protestants; and the visible church which is another of his works, is so to the Papists: instead of the Son himself, as heard in the word, and, seen in the ordinances of the visible church. The work of the Spirit within the soul, or, as it is called, the rise and progress of religion in the soul, is the object of worship to the Mystics, and the Friends and the great body of the Evangelicals and Methodists; instead of the Spirit, who is seen in that work; and who is seen best in the perfection of the work, that is, in the Son of Man. Now, the true object of worship is the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, as seen united and together in all the works of creation groaning into a new birth, and in all the written word, and in all the responsive providences, and in the visible church, and in the work of sanctification in the soul, in all places and in all times; forasmuch as he hath filled all things with the manifestations and suggestions of himself, and is in all things therefore devoutly to be sought, and found, and worshipped, and adored: though He be neither himself the space, nor the thing filling the space; but the all-originating Will, the all-inclusive Word, the all-manifesting Spirit. And thus much have I to say concerning the proper way of setting forth the gifts of grace and peace which we have through the Incarnation of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
And now the question which ariseth next in order is this, To whom, to what class or classes of men, are this grace and peace consigned by God, and to be freely preached by the ministers of the Gospel? It is, and I dare say will ever remain, a question in the church, for what class of persons these gifts are intended: for while, on the one hand, those to whom they are addressed are characterised by such exceeding high and holy designations, the saints of God, the faithful in Christ Jesus, the elect of God, chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, as would lead us to infer that no one can be intended but the invisible members of Christ, of whom not one shall perish; they are, upon the other hand, so carefully admonished against every form of sin, and rebuked even for the most heinous transgressions, yea, and positively accused of renouncing Christ and his salvation, and, in short, they are so dealt with according to their conditions of frail and fallible and erring mortals, that we are tempted to believe the people spoken of, and spoken to, consisted of all who had made a profession of Christ, and were found in the communion and fellowship of the churches to whom he wrote.
This I consider a very important issue, and worthy of the closest and most exact examination; forasmuch as we know not, until this point be settled, how much of those writings of the Holy Ghost, or whether any part of them at all be applicable to ourselves. For if it be to the elect only that they were written, then are all but the elect cut off from the profit, and eves from the use, of them; and the reprobate, being wholly disconnected from them, have neither mercy, nor grace, nor witness, nor condemnation nor any other concern, good or evil, designed for them, nor by them to be derived from these holy oracles of God. And, again, if it be to the whole visible church that they are addressed, to all outward and nominal Christians, it is exceeding difficult, without a known and felt violation of truth, to apply unto them such expressions as are scattered every where throughout them : such as. “He hath blessed us with all spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus;” “He hath predestinated us unto the adoption of children;” “He hath sealed us with the Spirit of promise;” and many others, which I may quote without going beyond this very chapter from which our text is taken. Now, to the complete resolution and right settlement ot this question, I request your diligent attention to the following observations, in which I shall endeavour to shew the liberty and privilege which all the baptized have in Christ, and point out several erroneous views which prevail upon these subjects.
With respect to the church of Christ, there can be no doubt that of the purpose of God it is as essential a part as the manifestation of Christ himself; as independent upon conditions and accidents, and as sure to come through the stormy perils of this present life, as was the Son of God himself; being fore-ordained of God, being sustained by her victorious Head, and preserved by the almighty and irresistible Spirit. There can be no doubt, moreover, that the word of God, and the preaching of it, is the chief human instrument for calling out this church of the first-born from the world, of maintaining their separateness and sanctification, and carrying them forward to the highest possible pitch and attainment of perfection. For which end it would be utterly disqualified, did it not contain words and expressions for every possible pitch of elevation of the soul towards God, and for every possible degree of the love of God for the renewed soul. And while it contains the forms of those extreme perfections of spiritual communion with the Father and with the Son, it is most necessary, at the same time, that it should also contain words and expressions proper to the first beginnings and lower degrees of the spiritual life; that is, milk for the babes, as well as strong meat for the men of stature; because it is universally allowed that our coming unto God is a progress, though the cause of it be a fixed and immutable purpose, and therefore the end and attainment of it a most perfect certainty. Nay, more, seeing the election are dead in trespasses and sins, the children of wrath, even as others, it is further necessary that the word of God should condescend to an office lower still,—the office of addressing men in their natural condition; and presenting forms of words, expressions of affection, and terms of accommodation, which shall be proper to the condition of a blind and impenitent sinner, seeing that is the condition in which all the election are found at the beginning, and out of which they are to be brought by means of the written and the preached word. You must therefor see at once, that, in order to this first object of calling out and sanctifying those whom God has chosen in Christ Jesus from the beginning of the world, it is most necessary that his word should be exceeding broad, containing forms of thought and feeling, definitions of being, and advancement; to higher being, through all the stages of man, from the most wretched sinner up to the most exalted and holy saint.
Let us now advance a step further. The word of God is not only for shewing God’s glory in calling out the election from the midst of the fallen and ruined race of Adam, but likewise for shewing the glory of his holiness in condemning the reprobate to eternal wrath and indignation; to he a sweet savour of Christ, not only in them that be saved, but also a sweet savour of Christ in them that perish; in whose perdition—I say it because I am not ashamed of what the Holy Spirit hath written—God smelleth a sweet savour of his Son, as well as in the salvation of the others. To the clearing of which nauseated doctrine, you will understand that all things were made to Christ, and to shew forth some part of the fulness of the Godhead that dwelt in him from eternity; and that nothing existeth out of Christ, or in itself, or in another, nor can exist; and, therefore, in the existence and by the existence of the reprobate, whether on the earth or in hell, in time or through eternity, Christ must be in some way revealed and his glory set forth, yea, and the sweetness of his grace exhaled. Wherefore it came to pass that Adam was made the type of Christ, and, being fallen, was promised Christ; from the faith of which the church having swerved away, was overwhelmed by Christ in the Deluge. And again, to the new world, in Noah, he was preached; and when the world was all apostate again, the Lord, having promised never again to bring a deluge of water, chose Abraham, and constituted a nation of witnesses to the apostate nations. Which elected nation did itself become apostate; and Christ, being manifested, became the foundation of the Gentile church: which is also well nigh apostate, and will soon be reaped with the sickle of vengeance and trodden in the wine-press of wrath. All this iteration and reiteration of the promise ending in the incarnation of Christ; all this work of the Spirit in calling out the election of the church, which shall end in the coming of Christ to judge; is for no other end than to implicate all men with Christ and Christ with all men, in such a manner as that they become apostate from Christ, are reprobate by their rejection of Christ, become monuments on earth of his long-suffering, and through eternity of his holy severity and righteous judgment. Which second great head of the Divine purpose, as essential to it as the former, rightly to serve, it is necessary that the Divine word should contain within itself all forms of threatening and commination and curse: that it should shew the wickedness and the misery which attend upon the rejection of Christ, and flow from the denial of the Gospel of Christ; as well as the blessedness and holiness which proceed from the faith and honour of him as our Lord and our God: tracing out and deriving down the present natural conditions of the world, and the future misery of hell, from the same source of Christ’s universal being and power and mercy, no less than the present comfortable and assured conditions of the church, with it; blessedness of heaven, in the fulness of which they are fulfilled.
Taking these two principles along with us which no one acquainted with the will and purpose of God can doubt, we shall be at no loss to account for the mixed and most various charade: of the word of God, but, on the other hand, shall perceive that it could not be otherwise, without wholly failing of the end which God hath in view by the revelation of his will. For, if it had been so constructed as to speak only to the election of grace, though still it would have maintained the variety of character which is necessary to their various conditions, it would not have served the purpose of concluding the reprobate, and shutting them up, in sin, for their denial and rejection Christ, if so be that the revelation of Christ had no reference nor application to them at all. And the consequence would be, that the preacher of that word would only be a savour of life unto life in them that are saved, but no savour of death unto death in them that perish. And there would have been no room for Christ as the Judge of the wicked, but only as the Saviour of the righteous, if so be that the word beareth no witness against the wicked. And, moreover, as the elect are in the first place among the wicked, and not to be distinguished from them until they are effectually called, the word would not speak even unto them, unless it spake to the conditions of the wicked with which they are begirt: so that the notion can in no way be maintained that the word of God is for the election only. It worketh the fruits of righteousness only in them, while in the reprobate it revealeth the hideousness of sin; equally in both cases to the glory of God.
So much in general with respect to this question; but it may make our reasoning more distinct if we take a particular case, as this Epistle, which is addressed “To the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus”—that is, to those in the city of Ephesus who had been separated from the world by the belief of the Gospel, and set apart by the sacrament of baptism to a holy life, and the maintaining of the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore are they called” faithful in Christ Jesus,” or such as had believed in Christ Jesus. And thus we find it in almost all his Epistles. Now, who are designated by these terms? I answer, every one who had by baptism been admitted to the church, and were found not excommunicated from the bosom of the church—reprobate, as well as elect; those who shall stand fast, as well as those who shall fall away. ‘If they fall away and become reprobate, how could they ever be called saints, and faithful in Christ Jesus? were they at any time of those who are chosen from the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love?’ Certainly not. “Why then apply to them an Epistle which is addressed to those amongst whom they cannot he reckoned?” To this question I answer; That the election is essentially invisible; they are Gods hidden ones, who shall not be made manifest till the day of redemption. Neither Paul nor any Apostle could know who were to be raised in honour in that day. And no one, perhaps, was more frequently deceived than the Apostle Paul. But he knew that while the world lasted there would be a church and election; whose number being completed, the world would he judged and changed. He knew, also, that this flock of Christ, which was in the world, was his peculiar charge, whom he is commanded to feed. He knew, moreover, that every one who had been introduced into the church of Christ, been enlightened, and made a partaker of the Holy Ghost, was outwardly, and to the eye of man amongst the election, and ought as such to be spoken to by the tongue of man. For if you speak not to them as to the election, to whom shall you speak as such? not surely to those who are denying Christ, and standing afar off from his church Nor by speaking to them as such, do you make them such, but rather you make them reprobate: you shew them what they ought to be; you make known to them what belongs to their holy profession; you shew them their privileges in Christ; you stir them up to higher attainments in holiness; you rebuke them; you condemn them; you do the office of a good father unto his children, who lays before them the walk and conversation of honest and honourable men: you do the office of a good master over his household, who lays out to them what is the duty of their several vocations, and what is their reward in fulfilling his will. The word is not therefore defiled because you have addressed it to a wicked deceiver; neither doth it miss of its aim because in the spirit of sincerity you have spoken it to a hypocritical dissembler; for it condemns the one, and maketh the other manifest in the sight of God, and perhaps of his own conscience. It is a merciful warning unto both; and, if unheeded, it shall prove a count of accusation and a ground of sentence unto both.
Observe, now, what terrible consequences you would fall into if you were to take up the opposite position, and allege that these Epistles are meant, not for the whole, but for a part. The question is, For what part? who shall read them, and who shall not dare to read them? Into whose hands shall this power be given, of separating the chaff from the wheat? To whom shall it be permitted to pull up the tares which grow amongst the wheat? The barn floor must not be purged till he whose fan is in his hand shall appear: the tares and wheat must grow together until the harvest. It is one of the monstrous assumptions of the Papacy, to burn the tares, and to say that all which is left behind is wheat; or, in other words, that there is no salvation save in their own damnable apostasy, and all therein shall be saved. But we, who have not drunk the strong wine of their delusion that we should believe a lie, hold that in every church, which maintaineth the faith of the blessed Trinity,
“not excepting the apostasy itself, there may be and there are saints, there may be and there are reprobates. And we likewise hold, that it is beyond the power of man to say who is a saint or who is a reprobate. And we further hold, that every one who is a reprobate is so because he hath resisted the same great and glorious working in the church which the election have not resisted; and that he shall be judged as one who hath trampled under foot that wherewith he should have been sanctified. For in this consisteth his very reprobacy, that he hath turned a deaf ear, and cast behind his back those most gracious words and those most glorious privileges which Christ Jesus by the Spirit, had brought near, and proffered to him; of which he had professed the acceptance and was admitted to the enjoyment. It is the perfect equality of gifts, and advantages, and prerogatives, which the one rejecteth and the other receiveth, that constitutes the difference between the reprobate and the elect, and shews forth Christ’s glory in the one as well as in the other. If this word be not written to all of the visible church, therefore, it is written unto none: if it is written to any, it is written unto all. It served equal ends of God’s glory in Christ to those who reject as to those who receive; and therefore is not cast away upon any, but is profitable unto all, though not profitable in all. And this I hold to be the true designation of this or any other Apostolical Epistle, and the true standing of the church of Christ towards those gifts of grace and peace, which are the fruits of the incarnation of the Second Person in the Godhead.
There is one point in which these Apostolic Epistles essentially differ from the Gospels as the other Scriptures; from not observing which they have run into many errors in these times. Being addressed unto churches of the Gentiles, which had just been formed, or were just forming, there are few of those appeals to a former condition of the church, which are so frequent in the Prophets and the Gospels, addressed to a church far gone in backsliding and apostasy, and ready to be rejected: being addressed unto churches just gathered from amongst the Jews and the Gentiles at every risk of property and life, and who abode, as it were, continually upon the perilous edge of persecution and death, they speak the language of consolation and edification, of confidence and trust, as to those who had been tried and proved for the testimony of Christ. And yet I must take exceptions for the churches of the Corinthians and the Galatians, who had slidden back from the ground where the Apostle planted them. But though the churches in general did then deserve, and the Apostles did address unto them, more of gracious language than would be proper to this or to any after age of the church, they still perceive, and warn them of, an apostasy which was about to arise, of perilous times which were ready to come. And how soon they came is well manifested by our Lord’s epistles to the seven churches of Asia, which present two or three of them in a very deplorable state, and speak to them more of the language of warning and threatening than we find in any of the Apostolical Epistles, save, perhaps, that to the Hebrews. Which example of our Lord, both in the Gospels, where he speaketh to the Jews grown hoary in backsliding, and in the Apocalypse, where he speaketh to the seven churches of Asia, just entering upon the long career through which the Gentile church hath since passed, doth teach us that it is our duty not to be always speaking the language and adopting the gracious manner which the Apostles use to the simple and comparatively uncontaminated primitive church; whose condition is no longer represented in any church under heaven: but we ought to assume more justice and severity and threatening, and appeal unto the broken covenant, and the despised ordinances, and the whole tottering frame-work of the church. Which is what our Evangelical brethren, and a great multitude of our sectarians, will not do: they will speak the soft language of these Epistles, and none more stern or severe, unto the present church, which is all but apostate; which hath hardly a feature left of the primitive church; and were it not for our sound and orthodox standards, would hardly be known for a church of Christ at all. They will not assume the prophetical character of discourse, which they hold as utterly foreign to the Christian church, although our Lord resumeth it in the seven epistles to the Gentile churches: and I can never find when it was laid down; but perceive a continual entreaty of the Apostles, to all the churches, that they would search the Scriptures, and mind the things which have been spoken to them by the holy prophets.
And, observe what is the consequence of this perversity of using only a portion of Scripture for the model and text-book of their discoursings. Finding that the church or congregation of the baptized is not capable of being spoken to in such language of consolation and edification, of encouragement and commendation, as was proper to the primitive churches; and not willing to go to find their models in the Prophets, who spoke to a church in the state in which we are at present found; they are compelled to represent the church in the same condition in which the Apostles represent the unbelievers, and the heathen, and the persecuting Jews—that is, to unchurch the church; to deliver her from all responsibilities; to absolve her from all covenants; to rid her of all hereditary burdens; to undo the Divine arguments of a written word, of a visible church, of a religious education, of the holy sacraments, of a Christian government; all past history of God’s dealings with us and our fathers to obliterate; all present experience of his chastening, or long-suffering, or gracious providence, to hide; and to commence anew, as if we were in the very condition of the Greek and Roman heathens—which is the grossest and most glaring falsehood, the most dishonourable and prejudicial misrepresentation, that was ever heard of; dishonourable to God, and dishonourable to the church. But this is not all the evil which springeth from the fantastical course of these unfledged divines and ill-instructed stewards: for, not content with treating the visible church as the world—and so quitting all scores, and, in truth, making her, not reprobate and apostate in the sight of God, but in no worse a state than were the heathen at first, when he sent his Gospel forth unto them—they are forced, in the next place, to imagine unto themselves some body of persons, who may stand to their wretched theory and most false hypothesis in the condition of the primitive apostolical converts. When they have unchurched the church, and treated it as the world, they must go to and make a church for themselves, which they may address as the called and chosen of the Lord. But how are they to know them, and how are they to mark them out? They cannot baptise them over again; they cannot admit them by themselves to the Sacrament of the Supper; they cannot pen them together in the fold of the church: every ordinance and sacrament which; defineth the outward church is already appropriated; and what shall they do, to make out this church within a church; whereto all, or almost all, their apostolical style of discoursing is to be addressed; and for the sake of which they have neglected their duty to those over whom they were ordained, not carrying God’s commissions unto them, but calling them the world, instead of the backsliding but still beloved church, the adulterous but still gently entreated church? What can they do, but define their pseudo-church, their invisible visible church, by an artificial mark of their own invention; a particular manner of speaking one to another; particular books to be read amongst each other; places of assembling in private one with another; choosing of certain ministers for their favourites; avoiding certain outward customs which the church tolerates; and so diligently bringing about an exclusive and separatist spirit; constituting a church within a church and endeavouring to make the invisible chunk visible?—the many evils of which I shall not now insist upon.
Now, this would be perfectly right and proper and the only course which could be followed in an apostate church, which in its very constitutional articles and daily service had departed from the truth as it is in Jesus: for example, in the Papacy, and the Lutheran churches on the continent which have adopted Socinianism; where nothing is left for the faithful and chosen but to separate, and constitute the church with ordinances amongst themselves, as the Reformers did. But when the church is truly founded, as I hold the Established Churches of these lands to be, and rightly arrayed in the forms and offices of a true and holy faith, it is schismatic and sectarian, and pregnant with all evil consequence, to follow the same course: forasmuch as the Lord hath not deserted, and cannot desert, a house so founded and erected; though he have brought upon it barrenness of children, evil days of adversity, and sore chastisement of the powers of this world, and great poverty of his Spirit. To which his judgments it behoveth us, watchmen of the city, set to warn the people, to give heed, and call every man to vigilance and to humility, to grief and to lamentation, to sackcloth and to ashes, instead of deserting this prophetical post; calling the city forsaken, and abandoned, and lifting up the cry of “save himself who can.” That is the cry proper to Babylon, fore-doomed, and ready to be destroyed: but for us the cry is, “Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders, and all the inhabitants of the land, into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?”
Moreover, there is nothing so dangerous as the idea that we are come unto a company of those who are all Christians indeed, or that we belong to a church which containeth only the election of grace. For it leads directly to idolatry, and we do at once begin to worship it: we sacrifice to it our own judgment, and lose sight of our own responsibility: its oracles become our oracles; its opinions our laws; its view of the gospel our gospel; its estimate of a holy life our rule to walk by; its sanction of us our assurance of salvation; and so forth, throughout all the various forms of idolatry. I say it is essential to our idea of the church, that it should contain good and evil, and shall contain them unto the end: it is essential to know that there are reprobates in it, as well as elect; that Satan’s synagogue is there, as well as Christ’s body; that we have a continual wardenship to fulfil on the walls of Zion; that there is an enemy in every house in Jerusalem that Satan is lurking in the corner of every street and hath a partaker in every family. This, I say, is necessary to the very idea of the church on earth, as it is the only true account of the church on earth in all ages and generations; and herein consisteth our desire and longing to be removed from it into the temple of the New Jerusalem which is above.
Taking along with us these views of the great purpose and intention of God’s word, and of the peculiar application of the Epistles written in the infancy and comparative purity of the Christian church, we shall be at no loss to understand it what light to consider, and in what sense to use, these holy Scriptures, the fruits of the Incarnation, which the Holy Spirit, who gave them unto the Prophets and Evangelists and Apostles, doth address to the church of Christ in all ages and in all countries to whose knowledge it may come: according to that caution of Peter’s, “No prophecy is of any private interpretation; for the prophecy came not of old times by the will of God, but holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” From what hath been said, it is manifestly my duty, as an expositor of any portion of the word, to set forth every thing which is therein declared in its full and proper sense; not lowering it to the present state of the church, nor accommodating it in any way to my notion of the condition of my hearers; but declaring the truth as it lies before me, without palliation or without prejudice, according to the insight given me thereinto by the Holy Ghost; and commending it to every man’s conscience, according to the ability which God may grant: when the holy word concerneth the Divine purpose, opening the goodness and excellence and wisdom of the Divine purpose; when it concerneth the manifestation of the Divine purpose, discovering the beauty and fitness and application thereof unto the wants of men; when it concerneth the constitution of the church, opening the policy and the discipline, the comfort and the blessedness thereof; and when it concerneth the practice of each member of the church in the relationships of the present life, enforcing and pressing the same with all urgency and request: and in every case leaving the truth which hath been declared to the application of the Holy Spirit;—our business, as preachers, or teachers, or expositors, being simply to declare the truth, with all suitable affections of earnestness and love; to shew forth Christ, whether in the purpose, or in the manifestation, or in the community of the church, or in the holy life of each member of the church; Christ the first and the last, the beginning and the ending, the All in all of the work of God: and having done so, to lean the truth which hath been declared wholly in the hands of the Holy Spirit, that he may take it and apply it unto your souls; which is his high prerogative, not to be intermeddled with by any man, because it is his office in the work of the blessed and eternal Trinity. This is the part of all preachers. God grant them grace, for the exoneration of their own souls and for the growth of the church in grace, to fulfil his will!
And yours, dear brethren, who believe in Jesus Christ, and have taken upon you the profession of godliness, it is, to listen with all reverence the word which may be spoken unto you by my lips; and to pray, that, like Lydia’s, your heart may be opened to receive it. Say not, This is too high for me; but rather say, Ah me, that I should not be able to receive the comfort of this gracious word which the Holy Spirit hath indited for this church! Still less seek ye to abase the glorious word, and to explain it away to suit your conditions; to purge out of it the mystery of the Divine will and sovereignty, the Divine foreknowledge and predestination, till ye have made it into smooth sinful Arminianism. You might as well purged of it the mystery of Christ’s Divinity: nay, I think if you do the one, you ought to do the other, I can see no sufficient ground of Christ’s Divinity save by perceiving that he is the beginning and the ending of the Divine purpose from all eternity which caring not to recognise, you can only recognise the manifestation in time, and so have a temporary Saviour, which is flat Socinianism. You might as well purge out of the word the mystery of the Holy Spirit’s working in all redemption and regeneration; and so bring yourself into man-worship, and self-adoration. O brethren! God forbid that you should deal so treacherously, so deceitfully, by the word of God; in which there will occur much whose splendour you cannot bear, much whose mystery neither I nor you can unfold—for we do but see through a glass, dimly; and speak like children—But shall we be grieved hereat? nay, we will rather rejoice; saying, ‘This seal still remaineth to be broken, and this precious part of the roll still remains to be revealed: it is so much excellent counsel which I have yet to receive; it is so much precious truth upon which I have yet to feed; it is a region of the Divine glory into which I have yet to ascend; it is a field of the Divine wisdom which I have yet to explore. Let me rejoice and be glad that there is so much before me still to be attained, so much to profit in, so much to apprehend, so much to digest, so much to prove me, so much to sanctify me. Indeed, I do rejoice, and will rejoice, in these mysteries, though for the present I apprehend them not, though in this life I should never apprehend them; because I know there be some members of the body of Christ which are nourished by them, though I be not: for what am I? a poor unworthy member of Christ. I am not the eye, I am not the ear, I am not the tongue. God be praised that I have any place whatever in the body. I will rejoice, yea, and I do rejoice, that there are so many wiser, more profitable, and better instructed members than I am: and by their example, who feed with ravishment on these Divine mysteries of election and predestination and assurance, I will stir myself up to desire and to pray for the same light and blessedness: and I am sure that the time is coming, either now or hereafter, when I shall know even as I am known; when I shall put away those childish things, and become a man of full stature in Christ Jesus. But I will beware lest I reject any of the good counsel of God, or suffer myself to be blinded by this man or that man’s conceit against it, because then I am so far forth a reprobate: for if I reject God’s word, reject I not God’s Spirit, and rebel I not against the will of the Father, and reprehend I not the honour at fulness of Christ?’ Yes, truly: if, listening to any legal or evangelical, to any Worldly or Methodistical, to any Arminian or Socinian glosses; if, permitting yourselves to drink into the spirit of these or any other schools, you do slur over in the reading, or trammel in the hearing, or neglect in the mediatating, any of the mysteries of this word of God, though most high and difficult to be searched into, then I testify that you are saying unto the Lord, “Hitherto shalt thou come and no further;” you are preferring the darkness to the light; you are grieving the Holy Spirit, putting your souls in the most imminent peril, and doing your part to land yourselves among the reprobate. But if the wickedest, the most lukewarm, and the most timorous Christian who now heareth me, will, in a humble and teachable spirit, say unto the Lord, ” Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth;” though he were a babe like Samuel, and like Samuel had never before heard the voice of the Lord speaking his soul—if he will say,” Oh that the entering in thy word might give understanding to the simple!”—then let that poor and contrite soul know assuredly that he is on the way which leadeth into the secret pavilion of the temple of the Lord, and is growing out of the blindness and deadness of nature into the life and light of the chosen of God. And if the strongest, most wise, and enlarged spirit in this church will do the same, he shall become mightier still: according to the saying of the Prophet, “Every man shall become as David, and David shall become as God.” Oh then, my beloved, deal fairly by the word; give it law, give it liberty. Blame and censure me; cut me to pieces with your criticisms, and blow me to atoms with the breath of your scorn; but, oh meddle not with the word and wisdom of God!—Yet while I say so, I also say, take heed how you hear, because I believe God will speak the truth by me for your sakes, if you desire to hear and to learn the truth. Thus have I given you liberty, O children of Christ, to feed upon the word of Christ; every one according to his present appetite and digestion; no one envying his brother’s portion, or desiring to measure his brother’s wealth by his own poverty. I have put you all between the conditions of election and reprobacy: all, all who are baptised into Christ Jesus, and wait upon these ordinances. The word will either prove your quickening into life eternal, or your condemnation unto death eternal. All of us stand alike tempted, alike invited: there is an election, and there is a reprobation amongst us: and the reception of this holy word will separate the one from the other in time and in eternity.
Having thus discoursed of grace and peace, the substantial fruits of the incarnation ; and justified the full and free preaching thereof unto the Church; I would say a word, before concluding, upon the saving application of them to the heart of every believer. In which office, as in every other, I would rather walk under the guidance of God’s word, than commit myself to my own judgment; especially as I have found in the Epistle to Titus a passage in which the apostle Paul sets himself to delineate, and in his own most comprehensive manner doth include in a few words, the whole of this subject, (chap.2.11-14,)”For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Let us endeavour to gather up the parts of this apostolical delineation of grace. The first characteristic of it is, that “it bringeth salvation;” according as it is elsewhere written, “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.” Grace, we have shewn above, is the affection of the Divine mind, or attribute of His being, from which our salvation proceedeth; which moveth His will thereto, determineth the method, informeth all the parts of the plan, is manifested through all the progress of the work, is crowned in its ultimate accomplishment, is now nobly confessed by all the saved, and standeth gloriously revealed in the mighty fruits and issues of the work through eternity. And while the stupendous fabric of all our salvation hath its foundation laid, and its walls upbuilded, and its corner-stone brought out, in the grace of God, whereby we are freely justified it cometh to us, it apprehendeth and layeth hold on us, in the way of faith; and by the progress and increase of our faith, from faith to faith, in each man who is polished after the similitude of the Chief Head-stone, in order to be builded into the temple which is building to the honour and the glory of the grace of God, I say, the almighty all-working Spirit, in making any of us who are dead in trespasses and sins a subject of Divine grace, doth proceed by working in us faith in God, who quickeneth the dead ; and in Christ Jesus, who died for our sins, and was raised for our justification, and who hath received “all power in heaven and on earth, to grant repentance and remission of sins,” and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. By the way of faith in an outward work of salvation done, and scheme of salvation revealed. He proceedeth; not by the way of good works, obedience of the law, good character, moral worth, honourable reputation, or some other thing within us, in which all men do by nature boast and build themselves up. As to ourselves. His first lesson is, that we are dead in trespasses and sins, objects of the Divine wrath and indignation: and even this lesson He can only teach us by reflection from the law, as it was exemplified and fulfilled in Christ Jesus our Lord ; so that even the truth of our natural perdition floweth from an act of faith in the grace of God manifested in Christ Jesus. When we see our natural deadness, the work of our salvation is a good way advanced; the old man is stripped and crowned with thorns, and crucified; and this argues the new man to be born, yea, lively, and come to no mean stature in our souls. But how came that new man to be quickened in death, and reared in the corruption of a tomb? Can any one say that he had any hand in it, or with all his might could have helped it on a jot; or that any power or might, less than the Almighty Spirit of free grace, sent to the undeserving and the rebellious, and working in us against the main drift and tendency of our nature and the very principle of our being, hath brought it to pass, through a continual exercise of faith upon the Lord Jesus Christ; upon His life for righteousness, His death for atonement, His resurrection for quickening the dead, and His glory for the present hope and future fruition of all the people whom His life redeemed from the curse of a broken law, whom His death justified, whom the power of His resurrection regenerated, and whom the hope of His glory saved? This is what is meant in the first operation of the grace of God, “that it bringeth salvation,”—that it saveth us through faith.
It is next written, in this same large description of the work of grace, that it “hath appeared unto all men;” or, that it is universal in its epiphany or manifestation;—that this feature of the Divine mind, or attribute of His substantial being, called grace, is an essential part of Himself, which first came to our knowledge, or the knowledge of any creature, in the person and work of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; and hath been held up to the observation and presented to the acceptance of all men by the Holy Spirit, in the Church, which is His living temple. For all that went before the coming of Christ, in the dispensation of God unto the fallen world by means of angels, was but the clearing of the ground and preparing of the way for the dispensation of grace that was to come impersonified and incarnate in the Word. The law, which came by Moses, gave the forms of righteousness which should condemn every other man to death, but which should not be able to lay a hand upon the skirt of Christ’s garment : the word of prophecy was but the testi- mony of promise and ground of hope for the world to expect Him and believe upon Him: and the grace in Jesus Christ, thus announced from the beginning of the world, and foreshadowed and defined by every word and act of God, hath, since His resurrection, over-canopied the world, and is free to every man’s use, free as the vital air of heaven. He came not to judge the world, but to save the world; that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. All that holdeth of the former advent is grace, is free grace, is universal and unconditional grace, unto all men to whom the knowledge of it may come: and it hath not been hid in a corner, that it should not come unto all, but hath for these eighteen hundred years been “as a city set upon a hill which cannot be hid.” We, who hold the doctrine of an election and a reprobation amongst the children of men, hold of necessity the universality of the presentation of the free grace of God; because it is by the acceptance of that grace the elect are made manifest, and by the rejection of it that the reprobate are made manifest; which revelation of both classes could not come to pass without the presentation of it to all mankind. This mystery of election and reprobation is entirely dependent upon the universality of the free gift and offer of grace, and preaching of the gospel unto all; and cometh out of it, dawning and clearing itself upon those who will be at the pains to read the Holy Scriptures, or who will have the patience to reflect upon what they already believe. You believe, do you, that the manifestation of the grace is freely made unto all? “Yes.” And what cometh of those who reject it? “They are reprobates.” And what cometh of those who receive it? “They are elect.” Well now, did God contemplate this issue of it, or another; did He reveal this issue of it, or another? Surely He must both contemplate and reveal the truth. Therefore His word speaketh of an election and a reprobation as about to be manifested by the free preaching of His grace unto all men in Jesus Christ. And a very gracious, holy, and most necessary part of the revelation it is, teaching that salvation is not made easy by the gospel—which is the root of all errors; I may say, the practical error of all, save the election—but that men are by the gospel placed under more awful sanctions, equipoised, as it were, between the top of heaven and the depth of hell; the field on which the powers of heaven and hell are to contend for the victory; the substance out of which a monument is to be built to the inexhaustible grace or in exhaustible severity of God. And those who, hiding the principles and the issues of election and reprobation, and at the same time preaching the gospel freely unto all, do their utmost to keep the world in the delusion that salvation is made easy and attainable at any time, do bring the Church into a state of ease and inactivity, of sleep and death, such as we now behold it to be in. And it is to preach only one-half of the glory of God impersonated in Christ; whereof the world hath had but the part of grace revealed at the former advent, and waiteth for the other part, of judgment and severity against the advent yet to come. His birth in Bethlehem ushered in the day of grace; His coming in the clouds shall usher in the day of judgement: and these two make up the manifestation of God in Christ Jesus, the fulness of the Godhead in the body of the Son of man. If they will sum up the whole, and preach the result unto the church, let them station themselves under the whole, let them understand the whole; and from the consummation look back and tell what hath passed; and see if they can include it all under these words, “Grace unto all,” They must add, “The grace of election unto some, the severity of reprobation unto many;” “God in Christ a God of mercy, and a God of justice;” “a Father, and a consuming fire;” “the Saviour of the Church, and the destroyer of the world;” “the builder up of heaven, and the builder up of hell”—all to His glory; all to the glory of His holiness and truth; and equally of the essence and substance of His being. Now, as I take it, beloved brethren, that the evening shadows of the day of grace are darkening around us; and the temple gate, though loth, is ready to be shut, after which no one shall be able to enter; and the night is thickening; and the sword of the angel of judgment is in his hand ; and the snare of the tempter is spreading; and the pit of the destroyer is widening its mouth; and the time of the end is at hand; we hold out, as it were, a last momentary invitation, and blow a final blast, mingled of entreating pity and warning, around the world, saying, “Now or never; the day is far spent, and the night is at hand: haste ! haste for your lives! enter! enter into the ark! for the heavens are thick, and the hail is coming down upon the forest, and the city is low in a low place.”
Furthermore, with respect to the application of this grace to the souls of men, it is thus written in the same large and beautiful description: ” Teaching us, that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” These words contain the power of Divine grace upon the heart of the believer by the operation of the Holy Ghost; which is very often mistaken for the beginning, and sometimes for the whole of Divine grace but which is, in truth, not a beginning at all, and only a very small part of the whole; the only fountain, and origin, and principle, being, hath been said, in the Divine substance, of which we do now know grace to be as essential a part as is power or sovereignty or justice. The only principle or beginning of it is in the will of God, in the good pleasure of his will. It is proper for God so to be, and it is pleasant for him so to reveal himself: for the which his will is ever devoutly to be worshipped, and adored, and yielded to, as the greatest goodness and most perfect wisdom. As little is the work of grace is our souls by the Holy Ghost the beginning the fulness of its manifestation: for it was first and fully manifested in Christ, and is derived unto us from that inexhaustible fulness of which we have received, and grace for grace. The portion of the Holy Spirit which any one receiveth, which all of us receive, which all the church since Pentecost hath received, is only a part of that might and power, and overflowing fulness of grace, which is in Christ Jesus, and shall flow out of him upon and into all the elect creatures of the universe of God. If you want, therefore, to know the size, or to measure the dimensions, of that grace of God which hath appeared unto all men, bringing salvation, I pray you not to be prying and poring about the narrow bounds of your own imperfect sanctification, but to consider the man Christ Jesus; who, though in the form of God, and thinking it no robbery to be equal with God, became a very man, of low, and mean, and suffering conditions; and being found in the dejected and desolate estate of a condemned criminal, crucified on an accursed tree, was thence exalted at once unto the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on high, to rule and to govern, to forgive and to save, and eternally to manifest the attributes and perfections, to declare and to execute the will, of the Almighty and Eternal God. Look on that, I say, and consider its dimensions, if you would have an outward estimate of that attribute of grace which is in the essential substance of God, and whose effluence is from the will of God, by his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all who believe.
Having guarded this topic of our discourse, to prevent our selfishness from making it the whole because it is the part which concerneth self, I now proceed to open the application of grace to the sinner: which is here given as a process of teaching, or discipline, working two effects; which are, first, the “denying of ungodly and worldly lusts, and the living soberly, and righteously, and godly, in this present world;” Secondly, the “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The same two-fold division of the work of grace I find in another part of Scripture: 1Thess 1. 9,10: “How ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven.” Now, with respect to the power by which either, or both, of these Divine effects is wrought in us, there can be no doubt that it is the power of God, and the peculiar office of the Holy Ghost. For, first, that we have no power to produce the whole, or any part, of this grace in ourselves, is manifest from our Lord; own declaration; “Without me ye can do nothing:” and that we cannot fetch ourselves to him, or link our dead affections to his living power, is manifest from that other saying of his “No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” And that it is the work of God to do this, which in and of ourselves we cannot do, is manifest from the passage of this Epistle already quoted; “Ye are saved by grace, 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 unto good works (or fashioned upon good works,) which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” And again, in another Epistle “It is God that worketh in us to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Now it is the proper office of the Holy Ghost, the third Person in the Divine Substance, to produce all faith, to teach all truth, and to work all goodness in the souls of dead men, is manifest from our Lord’s definition of his office in various parts of his last discourse: as, for example; (John 14.26) “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Again (John 16.13): “Howbeit, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” And, again, the Apostle John, in his first Epistle (1John 2.20,27) traceth all saving knowledge and good fruits, and permanency therein, to the same Almighty Teacher, in these words: “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.” “But the anointing which ye have received of him 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.” And the whole doctrine of the work of the Spirit in enlightening and informing the natural darkness of the soul is stated, yea, and the measure and the dimensions of the putting forth thereof in the regeneration of the sinner, is given, in this very chapter, to be no less than that which was put forth in the resurrection of Jesus Christ: “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead.” (vers. 19, 20). How incongruous were it, to use such language as this, if the conversion of a sinner unto God, and his building up in holiness and righteousness, were a work to which he himself could lend a hand; in which he might go hand in hand with God; or, as our unchristened divines, the disgrace of our churches, say, take the lead of God? I utterly repudiate all such damnable doctrine, and anathematise all the preachers of it, as the defacers and defamers of God’s grace, and the enemies of the cross of Christ. For herein grace is grace, that it is fret and undeserved, yea, that it is something beyond and above our deserving. This is the essence 0f grace even in a man; but in God the essence of it is, that it passeth infinitely beyond, and riseth infinitely above, our deservings, which are the depth of hell, whence this grace of His doth exalt us to the height of heaven. How infinitely, then, do they disparage that boundless ocean of the Divine mercy and forgiveness, and grace and goodness, who entreat of it as something which we earn and deserve, and which is never bestowed upon any who have not laboured for it by the self-denials, penances, devotions, beliefs, and hopes of their life! Thou blind leader of the blind, hast thou not eyes to read the holy page, where it is written, that the grace of God schooleth us like children to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to which we are as much inclined and devoted as children are to neglect their lesson and to run wild after folly and idleness? Or knowest thou not that word of thy Saviour, “This is the work of God, that ye should believe in him whom he hath sent?” or that other word, “Ye must be born again, of water and the Spirit, before ye can see the kingdom of God?” And knowest thou not that word, ” You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins?” Now, take to thy logic, and resolve me, if he that creates the seed is not the same who is the creator of the tree that grows out of it; if he that quickens the life of the child is not the creator of the man into whom the child waxeth; if he that raiseth the dead is not the resurrection and the life of him whom he hath raised? Or is my child to disallow me as his father, because he chews and digests the meat which I provide for him, and wears the clothes which I furnish him? And is the child of the resurrection of the Holy Ghost, to cast off the obligation to God, and insist for a share of the work, because he is made to grow up into full stature by the continuance of that Almighty Power which produced him out of nothing? O thou Atheist! then, after Adam, the seed of man; and after the first formed animal, the seed of all future creatures; and after the first created plants, the seed of all vegetables, had been formed in six days; going on ever since until this hour procreating and producing and increasing and multiplying, according to the law and provision which God had appointed to them, they become sharers, co-operators, fellow-creators with God; having a part in their own origination, and beholden unto themselves as well as unto him—yea, to him for six days work only; to themselves for six thousand years work, and whatever ages are yet to run? Oh but thou art an equal distributor and apportioner between God and the creatures! a rare logician to boot! and a most famous Atheist!—But, to return to the subject of the application and appropriation of grace.
Its first operation is in faith; and that not the faith of so many written books, but faith in the person and the work of Jesus Christ, in whom, as the great object, all grace is manifested. You may as well expect to have knowledge without; thing to know, as faith without an object to believe upon. The object of all faith, is “Jesus Chris, who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” As to the written book, it is but the description of His person, and the unfolding of his work, to lead us to a knowledge of him; but there is no faith until we know him and receive him as the only Son of God, and Saviour of sinners—the manifestations of the grace of the Father, and the fountain from which the power of the Holy Ghost floweth into our souls. And this faith is not to be produced in us by any reading or conning of the pages of a book, or hearing the subjects of it preached up or any outward ordinance or mean; which are at best but the fountains that contain the water shewing us where the water of life is to be found: but the water of life itself is not in us, nor anywhere in the world, that it should be found out; not in the hands of any priesthood, that it should be purchased; nor of any men, that it should be dispensed; but with God is the pure fountain of to grace, and from Christ only can it be received, by an act of faith upon him, through the channels by which he ordinarily communicates it, and, When he pleaseth, directly flowing into the soul without any such means. Now this faith upon Christ Jesus, is the gift of the Father, communicated by the operation of the Holy Ghost: Christ is the gift of the fulness of grace; the Holy Ghost is the dispenser of its measures to his people: and if we look for it from any other quarter, be it book, ordinance, effort of our own will, help of others, or power of nature, we do feed on the east-wind of emptiness and barrenness. Nor is it enough that God hath presented the object of all faith in his own Son; he must also give the eye to behold, the ear to hear, the hands to handle, the heart to receive. Which he doth by the Holy Spirit, whom you must expect from the same principle of grace in the Divine substance from which the Son proceeded. Because God is gracious, the Son of God came forth to seek and save a lost world, because God is gracious, the Holy Spirit came forth to enable that low and lost world to lay hold on Christ Jesus for salvation. He that denies faith to be the only operation of the Holy Ghost, denies the office of the Holy Ghost; as he that denies Christ to be the only object of faith, denies the office of Christ: and no one who acknowledgeth not both of these, doth or can acknowledge the grace of God: he either disparages it by the apprehension of a part only, or he denies it altogether; for its wholeness is not manifested in the incarnation and atonement of the Son only, but requireth the dispensation of the Holy Ghost unto the church to be added thereto: nor then is the dimension of grace measured, but there wanteth to be superadded to these two, the glory which is hereafter to be revealed. It is God’s will to be gracious, it is the bene placitum, the “good pleasure” of his will to be gracious, that moveth the Father to spare the presence and permit the sacrifice of his Son: it is the Son’s delight to obey his Father’s will, that maketh himself become outwardly manifest in humiliation and death: it is the delight of the Holy Spirit to proceed to accomplish and substantiate in outward acts that which the Father hath willed and the Son hath revealed: this is what makes up the full complement of the Divine grace; and those who become children thereof are born, not of blood, nor of the will the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
According as faith upon Christ Jesus is wrought in us by the Holy Ghost we grow in grace, deriving from the great ocean of his fulness that ports of light and life which the Spirit may be pleased to apportion unto every man. And being es lightened in the knowledge which is in Him, as quickened with the life which is in Him, thence ensueth first a humiliation and a dying and a crucifixion of the old man; a lowly descent from the heavenly places of Satanic usurpation, in which every natural man is born; an apprehension of the monstrous self-deification which we have been prosecuting, by making our own will our law, and exalting our reason to the right hand of God’s throne, yea, to the very seat of his Majesty. This great descent from the heavenly heights of spiritual wickedness, groweth out of the faith art knowledge and meditation of Christ’s descent from the bosom of his Father to the dust of death. The Spirit taketh Christ’s eternal oneness with and being in the bosom of the Father, and willing procession thence to be crucified on the accursed tree, by wicked men, for the redemption and salvation of wicked men, by the destruction of their wickedness—this great act of love he taketh, and sheweth it to our souls with such mighty and efficacious power that we are constrained by the faith thereof to be ashamed and grieved and horrified at our usurpation upon God’s self-existing prerogative; are enabled to forsake and abandon all high imaginations of that evil kind; to come into the conditions of a creature, and to see ourselves as the most rebellious and ruined creatures; to humble ourselves, become obedient, and to enter into the fellowship of our Lord’s sufferings; to crucify ourselves, as he also gave himself to be crucified; and to die daily unto sin more and more, by the grace of the Holy Spirit enabling us to apprehend the kindred, and I may call it mother, grace in the work of Christ. Now, this is not an act, brethren, but it is a work, which, like every other work, hath a beginning—call it regeneration, or conversion, or awakening, or what you please— but, like every other work, it hath a working power, the same which set it on at first; and therefore the multitude do idly talk and vainly preach, when they refer you to a day of conversion on which they were born of the Spirit, and to a succession of self-denying acts and holy works, a life of holiness, which grew up and proceeded from that one act of the Spirit. No, it is the Spirit working in every act, and at every time; restraining nature, mortifying nature, quickening more faith, and withal bringing more grace from the ever-full fountain; maintaining the life, doing the works; feeding his own child; strengthening him against the burden of sin and death; enabling him to bear the oppression of the world patiently, and to resist the devil successfully, and to triumph over sin, and to fulfil all righteousness: even as in our Lord it was by the fulness of the Spirit, which descended on him at his baptism, and remained with him during all the days of his flesh, and wrought by him those mighty works, and in whose strength he offered himself on the cross, that he was able to present that pure offering of obedience where by we are sanctified. How much more need we that ever-present, ever-active Spirit, to enable us to bring forth every fruit of holy obedience unto God, of self-sacrifice and self-destruction—we who are as proud as Lucifer, as sinful as hell and as dead and corrupt as the grave; who might “say unto corruption, Thou art my mother; and unto the worm, Thou art my brother and sister!” All this our present life in the Spirit is a sacrifice a sacrifice of the will, a willing sacrifice, a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God—that is, the sacrifice of a holy life. I say, that the whole labour of the life of a Christian, the whole actual operation of the grace of the Spirit in this our fleshly sinful tabernacle, is after the manner of a sacrifice yet a willing sacrifice: and as such is represented in the mystery of baptism, which is the the “putting off the body of sins of the flesh, in order to rise with him, through the faith of the operation of God, who raised him from the dead:” it is a purification from uncleanness; it is a warfare against the powers of darkness: in short, it is the Holy Spirit doing over again in all the election, that which he did in the Chosen One, from the day of his baptism until the day of his crucifixion. This is most important to be borne in mind, in order to plume the wing of your higher flight, and disentangle you of remaining weights for a more strenuous race, and to guard you from that delusive and slothful ease into which our converts come when they have passed the noviciate of their conversion and spiritual regeneration, as they are pleased to term it.
Now, besides this, there is another distinct operation of Divine grace upon the soul of the believer, which is after the nature of hope, as the former is after the nature of experience; the one being the prospect of an assured joy, the other the presence of an experienced suffering; and mutually sustaining one another—the joy to come enabling us to endure the cross, and the cross that is present brightening the desire and hope of the joy. This, which proceedeth side by side with the other, and is the light by which the shadow of the other is made apparent; this, which groweth and dawneth as the darkness of the other disperseth; this, which liveth as the other dieth—yea, and which hath power to kill the other, as light coming from a distance hath power to destroy the darkness which is around us—this prospect of joy, this substance of good things to come, is wrought in us by the application to our souls of that other portion of the Saviour’s work which beginneth from his resurrection, hath since been proceeding, and will be perfected in the glory that is to come. The sacrifice of the old man continueth in the believer until death, and then we lose sight of it; and the sacrifice of the church continueth through the present age, until the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, and concludeth also in a death—that is, the death of her body, or the visible church, which shall then have contracted upon itself all the sins of outward worldliness, and whose death shall be the death and destruction of all worldly and wicked power, and leave the millennial church free from its thraldom and tyranny. As the body of Christ, which was accounted sin for us, being slain, did carry with it to the death the power of the flesh over the Spirit, and all ordinances of the church which has a reference thereto, “nailing them to his cross,” and delivering us into the ability of triumphing over the law of the flesh, whose potency he has vanquished by the Spirit: so from the time that the body of the true church—that is, the visible part of the true church—shall have been sacrificed and offered up, a hecatomb of the Spirit, Christ offered up the holocaust of the flesh, it shall come to pass, that the church shall step out from under the yoke of worldly power, which is ordained over us of God, exactly as the Levite dispensation of priesthood, the commandment which stood in ordinances, was ordained over the former church, a most needful bondage, until the redemption from the power of the flesh should come: so is this subjection to the powers of the present age a most needful bondage, until the redemption from the power of the world shall come that is, until Satan shall be cast out, and the purchased possession redeemed. Now, the work which Christ hath been carrying on from the day of his resurrection, until he shall come again in glory and majesty, is the nourishment of hope whose joyful and victorious career is made by the Spirit to kindle in us a fellowship of his resurrection, and of his present spiritual victories, and of his future personal victories; which raiseth and exalteth us above all trials, and enableth us to undervalue all worldly joys, pleasures, and preferments: just as the work which he accomplished, from the day of eternity when he purposed, or from the day of the fall when he promised, until the day of his death when he accomplished, his suffering and humiliation for our sakes, being applied to us by the Holy Spirit, doth carry us to a depth of self-denial and suffering and humiliation and mortification, far beneath all the penances and stripes and pilgrimages and monastic severities and eremite sufferings, which Satan ever invented to deck the strumpet mother of all abominations. And as the sacrifice of our will can only proceed from perceiving, believing, and meditating the utmost rigour of the law accomplished in the first part of our Lord’s work, so, I say, that the strengthening of the Divine will and power in us can only proceed from perceiving, believing, and meditating the utmost rewards of innocency and obedience to the man Christ Jesus, accomplished in the latter part of his work. And the application of these two by the Holy Spirit, doth constitute the completion of grace in the individual believer. In this manner the Spirit worketh, by applying to us the grace which was revealed in Christ Jesus; and otherwise than by directing our souls to Jesus, and enabling our every spiritual sense to feed on Jesus, he teacheth not. By looking steadfastly upon the face of his flesh—the humble faith, perfect obedience, and patient suffering which was in Christ Jesus—we are changed into the same image of stedfast faith, quick willingness, and quiet resignation. By looking steadfastly upon the face of his glory—his triumphant resurrection, his most glorious ascension, his super-eminent seat of power, his future manifestation in powerful majesty, and his joyful righteous kingdom—we are transformed into the same image of power, joy, strength, and victory; from humility to humility, and from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of God.
Now, as to the manner how the knowledge and faith, the contemplation and deep meditation of these two several parts of Christ’s work, are made by the Holy Ghost effectual to produce in the believer these two-fold fruits—His humiliation to produce humility, and his exaltation to product exaltation—we have not time to speak particularly: let it suffice to shew that it is a great distinction of holy Scripture, which ought to be preserved in all the offices of the church and especially in this of preaching, which I now fulfil. In the fifth of the Romans Paul saith “For if, when we were enemies, we were recoiciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life:” where his death is made the cause of our reconciliation, his life of our salvation. And what this salvation is, is manifest from the preceding verse where the same truth is thus stated: “But Got commendeth his love toward us, in that, whiles were yet sinners, Christ died for us: much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall he saved from wrath through him.” This salvation is therefore salvation from the wrath to come; which the Apostle deriveth not from the death, but from the life of Christ: according to that word, “Because I live ye shall live also.” But the Apostle, not content with ensuring the believer of his salvation from the wrath which is to be revealed in the day of the Lord against all unrighteousness of men, advanceth unto a higher strain, and saith, “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have received the atonement.” In like manner, in the 8th of the Romans, it is said of those who have the first fruits of the Spirit, “We groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of the body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen, is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.” Whence we conclude that the work of the Spirit, in applying the redemption purchased by Christ, is two-fold;—one, to crucify us with him; to enable us to groan within ourselves under the burden of sin, and yet to prevail against it by the participation of the Divine nature of the Holy Ghost which we enjoy. This is the service of God, the very good service, in which he delighteth, against all his and our enemies. And the other is, to fix and fasten the eye of our presently crucified body full upon the glory of our Lord into which he hath entered; and fill us with hope, yea, and gladness, at the mighty power of his resurrection, which is begun to work in us, and shall not finish until it hath brought us through the waters, into the blessedness and honour which he hath received to share with us in that blessed day of his and our manifestation, for which all creatures travail and are in bondage even until now. Thus Paul saith of himself, “Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.” And again, he saith of those who are quickened from their death in trespasses and sins, that “they were raised up together, and made to sit together with Christ in the heavenly places.” And again he saith, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth, at the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above and not on things on the earth. For ye art dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God when Christ, who is our life, shall appear then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” Now, I ask in what sense we can be said to be risen with Christ, otherwise than in that life (‘ hope, desire, and longing expectation, which have fixed upon his present exaltation as the assurance of our future exaltation, and of his glorious manifestation on the on the day of our entrance into glory?—in all which consisteth the power oft resurrection working in us those fruits of the Spirit which carry the soul forward and above the present stern strife and weary warfare, and enhearten her for the patience and perseverance of the contest. And I say that this is as essential a part the Spirit’s operation, as that which sets us on edge for the battle, and arms us for the conflict. Nay, I will say that our hands will soon hang down and our knees weary, unless we have our eyes continually towards the banner of the risen glory which waveth in the vanguard of the battle. The battle is from the cross, but the victory is from the resurrection. I confess, while so many are preaching Jesus and the cross, I am strongly disposed to take up for my burden, Christ and the resurrection, the Lord and his glorious advent. But I may not imitate their example, in separating and dividing the work of Christ, which, as I observed, is all necessary to the manifestation of grace; nor the work of the Spirit, which is also complete in the application to our souls of the completed work of Christ, both of his humiliation and his exaltation. But this I make free to declare, that there is no preaching of the resurrection of Christ; and from thence I perceive it cometh that there is no vigour in the soldiers of Christ, who are like soldiers in the hospital, rather than soldiers in the field; men at ease, not men at arms.
Such, dearly beloved brethren, is a poor, a very poor, yet according to my gift a faithful, representation of the infinitely pregnant mystery which has been disclosing since the Fall of man, and shall to eternity disclose, the most glorious of all the attributes and works of God. As concerneth the Father, the righteous, just, and holy Father, how great grace doth it bespeak in his bosom, to pity rebels, to forgive the resistance of his own creatures, to give his Son, his only begotten and well-beloved Son, for the sake of the guilty! Of which most gracious act to comprehend the greatness passeth all finite minds, and to feel the kindred emotion of it is reserved for the pure and more perfect condition of the life to come, when we shall know as we are known, and be perfected in love. But, with our present blemished and blotted minds, we have no lively sense of the holiness which had been wounded, of the justice which called for satisfaction, of the entire and all-pervading horror wherewith the Divine nature abhorreth sin. What grace in the Father, to meditate, to originate, and to perfect the scheme of salvation by his Son! Then what grace in the almighty and all-creating Son, the co-eternal, co-essential Word, to take the former accursed, miserable, mortal man, and for ever to wed human nature to the fellowship of the Divine; to empty himself of his Divinity, and in every act to be very man, very sinful man, though he had done no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth; that he might make reconciliation for those wretched, abject creatures, who knew not of his infinite love, deserved it not, cared not for it trampled it under foot, and crucified the Lord of glory! What grace in the Holy Spirit, to bring this perfect life, this all-meritorious death of the Saviour, into contact with our lustful, ungodly, devilish nature; to quicken life in the stony heart and nurse it in the corrupt flesh of man; to apply point by point, the power of grace to the power of nature; to bring the strength and beauty Christ into contact with the strength and deformity of Satan; thus to withstand, thus to struggle with, and thus to vanquish, thus to deliver, this to beautify, and thus to glorify every sinner for whom Christ died, and whom the Father has given unto Christ! What grace! oh, what riches of grace! dear brethren, are not exhibited to us in this work of redemption, in the word of the Gospel which is preached unto you! This is what the Apostle blessed the Ephesian church withal; this is what I bless you withal every Sabbath day. This is what you have in the church of Christ. This is your second nature: I should say, this is your redemption from nature. This is your second gift from God; the endowment and the principle of a better being than Adam ever possessed; the beginning and the accomplishment of a better nature than that of angels or archangels; the endowment of a more glorious condition than that possessed by any other creature of God. I hardly know in what language to speak of the exaltation to which this gift lifteth the sons of men aloft, above principalities and powers, and the various orders of the heavenly host; for we are fellow-heirs with Christ, partakers of his throne, and co-heirs of his kingdom. I cannot express myself; I lose myself in the sublimity and infinitude of the revelations of God. Yet this, which the heart cannot conceive, and the tongue of man cannot utter, nor the comprehension of man measure in any one of its chambers, is that which I this day offer unto you, the church of Christ, the saints of God which are of this congregation, the faithful in Christ Jesus. I offer it without price: otherwise grace were not free. I offer it without work: otherwise grace were no more grace. I present it as God’s gift unto his elect children, which they will lay up in their hearts. I present it unto all; and woe be to him who heapeth infinite wrath upon himself by rejecting this infinite gift of God by Christ Jesus our Lord!
I exhort you, therefore, dear brethren, in order that you may be partakers of the fulness of this grace and power, to look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith, and to receive him as he is freely offered unto you of your heavenly Father. Doubt not that God, who hath given you Christ Jesus, will with him freely give you all things. All things necessary to life and godliness are included in this gift of Christ. That work of the Divine grace which was manifested in the Incarnation of Christ, reacheth onward to the redemption of all the elect, and shall be consummated in their glory and honour, and the redemption of the purchased possession, with all the other mysteries of power which shall be manifested in the day of the coming of the Lord. Therefore, ye, who are the saints of God and faithful in Christ Jesus, should assure your hearts before him, and not be afraid with any amazement. We should rest in our love, and rejoice in our hope; we should behold the magnitude, and be filled with the treasures of his grace. It is his own work in us, and he will perfect it until the day of redemption. His grace will be sufficient for us, and his strength will be perfected in our weakness. Ye see, dear brethren, what plenty, what all-sufficiency, you have in Christ; and out of him what poverty and misery. Betake yourselves to him with all confidence; flee unto him as the ark of salvation; and put your trust under the shadow of his wings until the evil days be over-past. Thus do, and you shall find rest for yourselves: thus do not, and you shall be like a wave of the sea, driven of the winds and tossed. Hear ye the word of the Lord Jesus: “Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take of yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly of heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.