John Owen, Of Communion with God


Contents

Part 1. Of Communion with each Person distinctly - Of Communion with
the Father
 Chapter 1. That the saints have communion with God - 1 John 1: 3
 considered to that purpose - Somewhat of the nature of communion in
 general.
 Chapter 2. That the saints have this communion distinctly with the
 Father, Son, and Spirit, 1 John 5: 7 opened to this purpose; also, 1
 Cor. 12: 4-6, Eph. 2: 18 - Father and Son mentioned jointly in this
 communion; the Father solely, the Son also, and the Holy Ghost singly
 - The saints' respective reward in all worship to each person
 manifested - Faith in the Father, John 5: 9, 10; and love towards
 him, 1 John 2: 15, Mal. 1: 6 - So in prayer and praise - It is so
 likewise with the Son, John 14: 1 - Of our communion with the Holy
 Ghost - The truth farther confirmed.
 Chapter 3. Of the peculiar and distinct communion which the saints
 have with the Father - Observations for the clearing of the whole
 premised - Our peculiar communion with the Father is in love - 1 John
 4: 7, 8; 2 Cor. 13: 14; John 16: 26, 27; Rom. 5: 5; John 3: 16, 14:
 23; Tit. 3: 4, opened to this purpose - What is required of believers
 to hold communion with the Father in love - His love received by
 faith - Returns of love to him - God's love to us and ours to him -
 Wherein they agree - Wherein they differ.
 Chapter 4. Inferences on the former doctrine concerning communion
 with the Father in love.
Part 2. Of Communion with the Son Jesus Christ
 Chapter 1. Of the fellowship which the saints have with Jesus Christ
 the Son of God - That they have such a fellowship proved, 1 Cor. 1:
 9; Rev. 3: 20; Cant. 2: 1-7 opened; also Prov. 9: 1-5.
 Chapter 2. What it is wherein we have peculiar fellowship with the
 Lord Christ - This is in grace - This proved, John 1: 14,16,17; 2
 Cor. 13: 14; 2 Thess. 3: 17, 18 - Grace of various acceptations -
 Personal grace in Christ proposed to consideration - The grace of
 Christ as Mediator intended, Ps. 45: 2 - Cant. 5: 10, Christ, how
 white and ruddy - His fitness to save, from the grace of union - His
 fulness to save - His suitableness to endear - These considerations
 improved.
 Chapter 3. Of the way and manner whereby the saints hold communion
 with the Lord Christ as to personal grace - The conjugal relation
 between Christ and the saints, Cant. 2: 16 щ Isa. 54: 5, etc.; Cant.
 3: 11, opened - The way of communion in conjugal relation, Hos. 3: 3;
 Cant. 1: 15 - On the part of Christ - On the part of the saints.
 Digression 1. Some excellencies of Christ proposed to consideration,
 to endear our hearts unto him - His description, Cant. 5, opened.
 Digression 2. All solid wisdom laid up in Christ - True wisdom,
 wherein it consists - Knowledge of God, in Christ only to be obtained
 - What of God may be known by his works - Some properties of God not
 discovered but in Christ only; love, mercy - Others not fully but in
 him; as vindictive justice, patience, wisdom, all-sufficiency - No
 property of God savingly known but in Christ - What is required to a
 saving knowledge of the properties of God - No true knowledge of
 ourselves but in Christ - Knowledge of ourselves, wherein it
 consisteth - Knowledge of sin, how to be had in Christ; also of
 righteousness and of judgement - The wisdom of walking with God hid
 in Christ - What is required thereunto - Other pretenders to the
 title of wisdom examined and rejected Christ alone exalted.
 Chapter 4. Of communion with Christ in a conjugal relation in respect
 of consequential affections - His delight in his saints first
 insisted on, Isa. 62: 5; Cant. 3: 11 Prov. 8: 21 - Instance of
 Christ's delight in believers - He reveals his whole heart to them,
 John 15: 14, 16; himself, 1 John 14: 21; his kingdom; enables them to
 communicate their mind to him, giving them assistance, a way,
 boldness, Rom. 8: 26, 27 - The saints delight in Christ; this
 manifested Cant. 2: 7; 8: 6 - Cant. 3: 1-5, opened - Their delight in
 his servants and ordinances of worship for his sake.
 Chapter 5. Other consequential affections: - 1. On the part of Christ
 - He values his saints - Evidences of that valuation: - (1.) His
 incarnation; (2.) Exinanition, 2 Cor. 8: 9; Phil. 2: 6, 7; (3.)
 Obedience as a servant; (4.) In his death. His valuation of them in
 comparison of others. 2. Believers' estimation of Christ: - (1.) They
 value him above all other things and persons; (2.) Above their own
 lives; (3.) All spiritual excellencies. The sum of all on the part of
 Christ - The sum on the part of believers. The third conjugal
 affection - On the part of Christ, pity or compassion - Wherein
 manifested - Suffering and supply, fruits of compassion - Several
 ways whereby Christ relieves the saints under temptations - His
 compassion in their afflictions. Chastity, the third conjugal
 affection in the saints. The fourth - On the part of Christ, bounty;
 on the part of the saints, duty.
 Chapter 6. Of communion with Christ in purchased grace - Purchased
 grace considered in respect of its rise and fountain - The first rise
 of it, in the obedience of Christ - Obedience properly ascribed to
 Christ - Two ways considered: what it was, and wherein it did consist
 - Of his obedience to the law in general - Of the law of the Mediator
 - His habitual righteousness, how necessary; as also his obedience to
 the law of the Mediator - Of his actual obedience or active
 righteousness - All Christ's obedience performed as he was Mediator -
 His active obedience for us - This proved at large, Gal. 4: 4, 5;
 Rom. 5: 19; Phil. 3: 10; Zech. 3: 3-5 - One objection removed -
 Considerations of Christ's active righteousness closed - Of
 the death of Christ, and its influence into our acceptation with God
 - A price; redemption, what it is - A sacrifice; atonement made
 thereby - A punishment; satisfaction thereby - The intercession of
 Christ; with its influence into our acceptation with God.
 Chapter 7. The nature of purchased grace; referred to three heads: -
 1. Of our acceptation with God; two parts of it. 2. Of the grace of
 sanctification; the several parts of it.
 Chapter 8. How the saints hold communion with Christ as to their
 acceptation with God - What is required on the part of Christ
 hereunto; in his intention; in the declaration thereof - The sum of
 our acceptation with God, wherein it consists - What is required on
 the part of believers to this communion, and how they hold it, with
 Christ - Some objections proposed to consideration, why the elect are
 not accepted immediately on the undertaking and the death of Christ -
 In what sense they are so - Christ a common or public person - How he
 came to be so - The way
 of our acceptation with God on that account - The second objection -
 The necessity of our obedience stated, Eph. 2: 8-10 - The grounds,
 causes, and ends of it manifested - Its proper place in the new
 covenant - How the saints, in particular, hold communion with Christ
 in this purchased grace - They approve of this righteousness; the
 grounds thereof - Reject their own; the grounds thereof - The
 commutation of sin and righteousness between Christ and believers;
 some objections answered.
 Chapter 9. Of communion with Christ in holiness - The several acts
 ascribed unto the Lord Christ herein: 1. His intercession; 2. Sending
 of the Spirit; 3. Bestows habitual grace - What that is, and wherein
 it consists - This purchased by Christ; bestowed by him - Of actual
 grace - How the saints hold communion with Christ in these things;
 manifested in sundry particulars.
 Chapter 10. Of communion with Christ in privileges - Of adoption; the
 nature of it, the consequences of it - Peculiar privileges attending
 it; liberty, title, boldness, affliction - Communion with Christ
 hereby.
Part 3. Of Communion with the Holy Ghost.
 Chapter 1. The foundation of our communion with the Holy ghost (John
 16: 1-7) opened at large - "Parakletos", a Comforter; who he is - The
 Holy Ghost; his own will in his coming to us; sent also by Christ -
 The Spirit sent as a sanctifier and as a comforter - The adjuncts of
 his mission considered - The foundation of his mission, John 15: 26 -
 His procession from the Father twofold; as to personality, or to
 office - Things considerable in his procession as to office the
 manner of his collation - He is given freely; sent authoritatively -
 The sin against the Holy ghost, whence unpardonable - How we ask the
 Spirit of the Father - To grieve the Spirit, what - Poured out - How
 the Holy Ghost is received; by faith - Faith's acting in receiving
 the Holy Ghost - His abode with us, how declared - How we may lose
 our comfort whilst the Comforter abides with us.
 Chapter 2. Of the acting of the Holy Ghost in us, being bestowed on
 us - He worketh effectually, distributeth, giveth.
 Chapter 3. Of the things wherein we have communion with the Holy
 Ghost - He brings to remembrance the things spoken by Christ, John
 14: 26 - The manner how he does it - The Spirit glorifies Christ in
 the hearts of believers, John 16: 14, sheds abroad the love of God in
 them - The witness of the Spirit, what it is, Rom 8: l6 - The sealing
 of the Spirit, Eph. 1: 13 - The Spirit, how an earnest; on the part
 of God, on the part of the saints - Difference between the earnest of
 the Spirit and tasting of the powers of the world to come - Unction
 by the Spirit, Isa. 11: 2, 3 - The various teachings of the Holy
 Ghost - How the Spirit of adoption and of supplication.
 Chapter 4. The general consequences in the hearts of believers of the
 effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned - Consolation; its
 adjuncts, peace, joy - How it is wrought immediately, mediately.
 Chapter 5. Some observations and inferences from discourses foregoing
 concerning the Spirit - The contempt of the whole administration of
 the Spirit by some - The vain pretence of the Spirit by others - The
 false spirit discovered.
 Chapter 6. Of particular communion with the Holy Ghost - Of
 preparation thereunto - Valuation of the benefits we receive by him -
 What it is he comforts, us, in and against; wherewith; how.
 Chapter 7. The general ways of the saints' acting in communion with
 the Holy Ghost.
 Chapter 8. Particular directions for communion with the Holy Chest.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Part 1. Of Communion with each Person distinctly - Of Communion with
the Father


Chapter 1. That the saints have communion with God - 1 John 1: 3
     considered to that purpose - Somewhat of the nature of communion
     in general.
    
    In the First Epistle of John, chap. 1, verse 3, the apostle
assures them to whom he wrote that the fellowship of believers "is with
the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ:" and this he does with such
an unusual kind of expression as bears the force of an asseveration;
whence we have rendered it, "Truly our fellowship is with the Father,
and with his Son Jesus Christ."
    The outward appearance and condition of the saints in those days
being very mean and contemptible, - their leaders being accounted as
the filth of this world, and as the offscouring of all things, - the
inviting others unto fellowship with them, and a participation of the
precious things which they did enjoy, seems to be exposed to many
contrary seasonings and objections: "What benefit is there in communion
with them? Is it any thing else but to be sharers in troubles,
reproaches, scorns, and all manner of evils?" To prevent or remove
these and the like exceptions, the apostle gives them to whom he wrote
to know (and that with some earnestness of expression), that
notwithstanding all the disadvantages their fellowship lay under, unto
a carnal view, yet in truth it was, and would be found to be (in
reference to some with whom they held it), very honourable, glorious,
and desirable. For "truly," saith he, "our fellowship is with the
Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ."
    This being so earnestly and directly asserted by the apostle, we
may boldly follow him with our affirmation, - namely, "That the saints
of God have communion with him." And a holy and spiritual communion it
is, as shall be declared. How this is spoken distinctly in reference to
the Father and the Son, must afterward be fully opened and carried on.
    By nature, since the entrance of sin, no man has any communion
with God. He is light, we darkness; and what communion has light with
darkness? He is life, we are dead, - he is love, and we are enmity; and
what agreement can there be between us? Men in such a condition have
neither Christ, nor hope, nor God in the world, Eph. 2: 12; "being
alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them,"
chap. 4: 18. Now, two cannot walk together, unless they be agreed, Amos
3: 3. Whilst there is this distance between God and man, there is no
walking together for them in any fellowship or communion. Our first
interest in God was so lost by sin, as that there was left unto us (in
ourselves) no possibility of a recovery. As we had deprived ourselves
of all power for a return, so God had not revealed any way of access
unto himself; or that he could, under any consideration, be approached
unto by sinners in peace. Not any work that God had made, not any
attribute that he had revealed, could give the least light into such a
dispensation.
    The manifestation of grace and pardoning mercy, which is the only
door of entrance into any such communion, is not committed unto any but
unto him atoned in whom it is, by whom that grace and mercy was
purchased, through whom it is dispensed, who reveals it from the bosom
of the Father. Hence this communion and fellowship with God is not in
express terms mentioned in the Old Testament. The thing itself is found
there; but the clear light of it, and the boldness of faith in it, is
discovered in the gospel, and by the Spirit administered therein. By
that Spirit we have this liberty, 2 Cor. 3: 17, 18. Abraham was the
friend, of God, Isa. 41: 8; David, a man after his own heart; Enoch
walked with him, Gen. 5: 22; - all enjoying this communion and
fellowship for the substance of it. But the way into the holiest was
not yet made manifest whilst the first tabernacle was standing, Heb. 9:
8. Though they had communion with God, yet they had not "parresian", -
a boldness and confidence in that communion. This follows the entrance
of our High Priest into the most holy place, Heb. 4: 16, 10: 19. The
vail also was upon them, that they had not "eleuterian", freedom and
liberty in their access to God, 2 Cor. 3: 15, 16, etc. But now in
Christ we have boldness and access with confidence to God, Eph. 3: 12.
This boldness and access with confidence the saints of old were not
acquainted with. By Jesus Christ alone, then, on all considerations as
to being and full manifestation, is this distance taken away. He has
consecrated for us a new and living way (the old being quite shut up),
"through the vail, that is to say, his flesh," Heb. 10: 20; and
"through him we have access by one Spirit unto the Father," Eph. 2: 18.
"Ye who sometimes were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Christ,
for he is our peace," etc., verses 13, 14. Of this foundation of all
our communion with God, more afterward, and at large. Upon this new
bottom and foundation, by this new and living way, are sinners admitted
into communion with God, and have fellowship with him. And truly, for
sinners to have fellowship with God, the infinitely holy God, is an
astonishing dispensation. To speak a little of it in general: -
Communion relates to things and persons. A joint participation in any
thing whatever, good or evil, duty or enjoyment, nature or actions,
gives this denomination to them so partaking of it. A common interest
in the same nature gives all men a fellowship or communion therein. Of
the elect it is said, "Ta paidia kekoinoneke sarkos kai haimatos", Heb.
2: 14, "Those children partook of" (or had fellowship in, with the rest
of the world) "flesh and blood," - the same common nature with the rest
of mankind; and, therefore, Christ also came into the same fellowship:
"Kai autos paraplesios metesche ton auton". There is also a communion
as to state and condition, whether it be good or evil; and this, either
in things internal and spiritual, - such as is the communion of saints
among themselves; or in respect of outward things. So was it with
Christ and the two thieves, as to one condition, and to one of them in
respect of another. They were "en toi autoi krimati", - under the same
sentence to the cross, Luke 23: 40, "ejusdem dolores socii." They had
communion as to that evil condition whereunto they were adjudged; and
one of them requested (which he also obtained) a participation in that
blessed condition whereupon our Saviour was immediately to enter. There
is also a communion or fellowship in actions, whether good or evil. In
good, is that communion and fellowship in the gospel, or in the
performance and celebration of that worship of God which in the gospel
is instituted; which the saints do enjoy, Phil. 1: 5; which, as to the
general kind of it, David so rejoices in, Ps. 42: 4. In evil, was that
wherein Simon and Levi were brethren, Gen. 49: 5. They had communion in
that cruel act of revenge and murder. Our communion with God is not
comprised in any one of these kinds; of some of them it is exclusive.
It cannot be natural; it must be voluntary and by consent. It cannot be
of state and conditions; but in actions. It cannot be in the same
actions upon a third party; but in a return from one to another. The
infinite disparity that is between God and man, made the great
philosopher conclude that there could be no friendship between them.
Some distance in the persons holding friendship he could allow, nor
could exactly determine the bounds and extent thereof; but that between
God and man, in his apprehension, left no place for it. Another says,
indeed, that there is "communitas homini cum Deo," - a certain
fellowship between God and man; but the general intercourse of
providence is all he apprehended. Some arose to higher expressions; but
they understood nothing whereof they spake. This knowledge is hid in
Christ; as will afterward be made to appear. It is too wonderful for
nature, as sinful and corrupted. Terror and apprehensions of death at
the presence of God is all that it guides unto. But we have, as was
said, a new foundation, and a new discovery of this privilege.
    Now, communion is the mutual communication of such good things as
wherein the persons holding that communion are delighted, bottomed upon
some union between them. So it was with Jonathan and David; their souls
clave to one another (1 Sam. 20: 17) in love. There was the union of
love between them; and then they really communicated all issues of love
mutually. In spiritual things this is more eminent: those who enjoy
this communion have the most excellent union for the foundation of it;
and the issues of that union, which they mutually communicate, are the
most precious and eminent.
    Of the union which is the foundation of all that communion we have
with God I have spoken largely elsewhere, and have nothing farther to
add thereunto.
    Our communion, then, with God consisteth in his communication of
himself unto us, with our returnal unto him of that which he requireth
and accepteth, flowing from that unions which in Jesus Christ we have
with him. And it is twofold: - 1. Perfect and complete, in the full
fruition of his glory and total giving up of ourselves to him, resting
in him as our utmost end; which we shall enjoy when we see him as he
is; - and, 2. Initial and incomplete, in the first fruits and dawnings
of that perfection which we have here in grace; which only I shall
handle.
    It is, then, I say, of that mutual communication in giving and
receiving, after a most holy and spiritual manner, which is between God
and the saints while they walk together in a covenant of peace,
ratified in the blood of Jesus, whereof we are to treat. And this we
shall do, if God permit; in the meantime praying the God and Father of
our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who has, of the riches of his grace,
recovered us from a state of enmity into a condition of communion and
fellowship with himself, that both he that writes, and they that read
the words of his mercy, may have such a taste of his sweetness and
excellencies therein, as to be stirred up to a farther longing after
the fulness of his salvation, and the eternal fruition of him in glory.
    
    
    
    

Chapter 2. That the saints have this communion distinctly with the
     Father, Son, and Spirit, 1 John 5: 7 opened to this purpose; also,
     1 Cor. 12: 4-6, Eph. 2: 18 - Father and Son mentioned jointly in
     this communion; the Father solely, the Son also, and the Holy
     Ghost singly - The saints' respective reward in all worship to
     each person manifested - Faith in the Father, John 5: 9, 10; and
     love towards him, 1 John 2: 15, Mal. 1: 6 - So in prayer and
     praise - It is so likewise with the Son, John 14: 1 - Of our
     communion with the Holy Ghost - The truth farther confirmed.
    
    That the saints have communion with God, and what communion in
general is, was declared in the first chapter. The manner how this
communion is carried on, and the matter wherein it does consist, comes
next under consideration. For the first, in respect of the distinct
persons of the Godhead with whom they have this fellowship, it is
either distinct and peculiar, or else obtained and exercised jointly
and in common. That the saints have distinct communion with the Father,
and the Son, and the Holy Spirit (that is, distinctly with the Father,
and distinctly with the Son, and distinctly with the Holy Spirit), and
in what the peculiar appropriation of this distinct communion unto the
several persons does consist, must, in the first place, be made
manifest.
    1 John 5: 7, the apostle tells us, "There are three that bear
record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost." In heaven
they are, and bear witness to us. And what is it that they bear witness
unto? Unto the sonship of Christ, and the salvation of believers in his
blood. Of the carrying on of that, both by blood and water,
justification and sanctification, is he there treating. Now, how do
they bear witness hereunto? even as three, as three distinct witnesses.
When God witnesseth concerning our salvation, surely it is incumbent on
us to receive his testimony. And as he beareth witness, so are we to
receive it. Now this is done distinctly. The Father beareth witness,
the Son beareth witness, and the Holy Spirit beareth witness; for they
are three distinct witnesses. So, then, are we to receive their several
testimonies: and in doing so we have communion with them severally; for
in this giving and receiving of testimony consists no small part of our
fellowship with God. Wherein their distinct witnessing consists will be
afterward declared.
    1 Cor. 12: 4-6, the apostle, speaking of the distribution of gifts
and graces unto the saints, ascribes them distinctly, in respect of the
fountain of their communication, unto the distinct persons. "There are
diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit," - "that one and the self
same Spirit;" that is, the Holy Ghost, verse 11. "And there are
differences of administrations, but the same Lord," the same Lord
Jesus, verse 5. "And there are diversities of operations, but it is the
same God," etc., even the Father, Eph. 4: 6. So graces and gifts are
bestowed, and so are they received.
    And not only in the emanation of grace from God, and the illapses
of the Spirit on us, but also in all our approaches unto God, is the
same distinction observed. "For through Christ we have access by one
Spirit unto the Father," Eph. 2: 18. Our access unto God (wherein we
have communion with him) is "dia Christou", "through Christ," "en
Pneumati", "in the Spirit," and "pros ton Patera", " unto the Father;"
- the persons being here considered as engaged distinctly unto the
accomplishment of the counsel of the will of God revealed in the
gospel.
    Sometimes, indeed, there is express mention made only of the
Father and the Son, a John 1: 3, "Our fellowship is with the Father,
and with his Son Jesus Christ." The particle "and" is both
distinguishing and uniting. Also John 14: 23, "If a man love me, he
will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto
him, and make our abode with him." It is in this communion wherein
Father and Son do make their abode with the soul.
    Sometimes the Son only is spoken of, as to this purpose. 1 Cor. 1:
9, "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his
Son Jesus Christ our Lord." And, Rev. 3: 20, "If any man hear my voice,
and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he
with me;" of which place afterward.
    Sometimes the Spirit alone is mentioned. 2 Cor. 13: 14, "The grace
of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the
Holy Ghost be with you all." This distinct communion, then, of the
saints with the Father, Son, and Spirit, is very plain in the
Scripture; but yet it may admit of farther demonstration. Only this
caution I must lay in beforehand: - whatever is affirmed in the pursuit
of this truth, it is done with relation to the explanation ensuing, in
the beginning of the next chapter.
    The way and means, then, on the part of the saints, whereby in
Christ they enjoy communion with God, are all the spiritual and holy
actings and outgoings of their souls in those graces, and by those
ways, wherein both the moral anal instituted worship of God does
consist. Faith, love, trust, joy, etc., are the natural or moral
worship of God, whereby those in whom they are have communion with him.
Now, these are either immediately acted on God, and not tied to any
ways or means outwardly manifesting themselves; or else they are
farther drawn forth, in solemn prayer and praises, according unto that
way which he has appointed. That the Scripture does distinct]y assign
all these unto the Father, Son, and Spirit, - manifesting that the
saints do, in all of them, both as they are purely and nakedly moral,
and as farther clothed with instituted worship, respect each person
respectively, - is that which, to give light to the assertion in hand,
I shall farther declare by particular instances: -
    1. For the Father. Faith, love, obedience, etc., are peculiarly
and distinctly yielded by the saints unto him; and he is peculiarly
manifested in those ways as acting peculiarly towards them: which
should draw them forth and stir them up thereunto. He gives testimony
unto, and beareth witness of, his Son, 1 John 5: 9, "This is the
witness of God which he has testified of his Son." In his bearing
witness he is an object of belief. When he gives testimony (which he
does as the Father, because he does it of the Son) he is to he received
in it by faith. And this is affirmed, verse 10, "He that believeth on
the Son of God, has the witness in himself." To believe on the Son of
God in this place, is to receive the Lord Christ as the Son, the Son
given unto us, for all the ends of the Father's love, upon the credit
of the Father's testimony; and, therefore, therein is faith immediately
acted on the Father. So it follows in the next words, "he that
believeth not God" (that is, the Father, who bears witness to the Son)
"has made him a liar." "Ye believe in God," saith our Saviour, John 14:
l; that is, the Father as such, for he adds, "Believe also in me;" or,
"Believe you in God; believe also in me." God, as the prima Veritas,
upon whose authority is founded, and whereunto all divine faith is
ultimately resolved, is not to be considered "hupostatikos", as
peculiarly expressive of any person, but "ousiodos", comprehending the
whole Deity; which undividedly is the prime object thereof. But in this
particular it is the testimony and authority of the Father (as such)
therein, of which we speak, and whereupon faith is distinctly fixed on
him; - which, if it were not so, the Son could not add, "Believe also
in me."
    The like also is said of love. 1 John 2: 15, "If any man love the
world, the love of the Father is not in him;" that is, the love which
we bear to him, not that which we receive from him. The Father is here
placed as the object of our love, in opposition to the world, which
takes up our affections "he agape tou Patros". The Father denotes the
matter and object, not the efficient cause, of the love inquired after.
And this love of him as a Father is that which he calls his "honour,"
Mal. 1: 6.
    Farther: these graces as acted in prayer and praises, and as
clothed with instituted worship, are peculiarly directed unto him. "Ye
call on the Father," 1 Pet. 1: 17. Eph. 3: 14,15, "For this cause I bow
my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole
family in heaven and earth is named." Bowing the knee compriseth the
whole worship of God, both that which is moral, in the universal
obedience he requireth, and those peculiar ways of carrying it on which
are by him appointed, Isa. 45: 23, "Unto me," saith the Lord, "every
knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." Which, verses 24, 25, he
declareth to consist in their acknowledging of him for righteousness
and strength. Yea, it seems sometimes to comprehend the orderly
subjection of the whole creation unto his sovereignty. In this p]ace of
the apostle it has a far more restrained acceptation, and is but a
figurative expression of prayer, taken from the most expressive bodily
posture to be used in that duty. This he farther manifests, Eph. 3: 16,
17, declaring at large what his aim was, and whereabout his thoughts
were exercised, in that bowing of his knees. The workings, then, of the
Spirit of grace in that duty are distinctly directed to the Father as
such, as the fountain of the Deity, and of all good things in Christ, -
as the "Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." And therefore the same
apostle does, in another place, expressly conjoin, and yet as expressly
distinguish, the Father and the Son in directing his supplications, 1
Thess. 3: 11, "God himself even our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ,
direct our way unto you." The like precedent, also, have you of
thanksgiving, Eph. 1: 3, 4, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ," etc. I shall not add those very many places wherein the
several particulars that do concur unto that whole divine worship (not
to be communicated unto any, by nature not God, without idolatry)
wherein the saints do hold communion with God, are distinctly directed
to the person of the Father.
    2. It is so also in reference unto the Son. John 14: 1, "Ye
believe in God," saith Christ, "believe also in me;" - "Believe also,
act faith distinctly on me; faith divine, supernatural, - that faith
whereby you believe in God, that is, the Father. There is a believing
of Christ, namely, that he is the Son of God, the Saviour of the world.
That is that whose neglect our Saviour so threatened unto the
Pharisees, John 8: 24, "If ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in
your sins." In this sense faith is not immediately fixed on the Son,
being only an owning of him (that is, the Christ to be the Son), by
closing with the testimony of the Father concerning him. But there is
also a believing on him, called "Believing on the name of the Son of
God," 1 John 5: 13; so also John 9: 36; - yea, the distinct affixing of
faith, affiance, and confidence on the Lord Jesus Christ the Son of
God, as the Son of God, is most frequently pressed. John 3: 16, "God"
(that is, the Father) "so loved the world,.. that whosoever believeth
in him" (that is, the Son) "should not perish." The Son, who is given
of the Father, is believed on. "He that believeth on him is not
condemned," verse 18. " He that believeth on the Son has everlasting
life," verse 36. " This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom
he has sent," John 6: 29, 40; 1 John 5: 10. The foundation of the whole
is laid, John 5: 23, "That all men should honour the Son, even as they
honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the
Father which has sent him." But of this honour and worship of the Son I
have treated at large elsewhere; and shall not in general insist upon
it again. For love, I shall only add that solemn apostolical
benediction, Eph. 6: 24, "Grace be with all them that love our Lord
Jesus Christ In sincerity," - that is, with divine love, the love of
religious worship; which is the only incorrupt love of the Lord Jesus.
    Farther: that faith, hope, and love, acting themselves in all
manner of obedience and appointed worship, are peculiarly due from the
saints, and distinct]y directed unto the Son, is abundantly manifest
from that solemn doxology, Rev. 1: 5, 6, "Unto him that loved us, and
washed us from our sins in his own blood, and has made us kings and
priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever
and ever. Amen." Which yet is set forth with more glory, chap. 5: 8,
"The four living creatures, and the four and twenty elders fell down
before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full
of odours, which are the prayers of saints:" and verses 13, 14, "Every
creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and
such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying,
blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth
upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever." The Father and
the Son (he that sits upon the throne, and the Lamb) are held out
jointly, yet distinctly, as the adequate object of all divine worship
and honour, for ever and ever. And therefore Stephen, in his solemn
dying, invocation, fixeth his faith and hope distinctly on him, Acts 7:
59, 60, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit;" and, "Lord, lay not this sin
to their charge;" - for he knew that the $on of man had power to
forgive sins also. And this worship of the Lord Jesus, the apostle
makes the discriminating character of the saints, 1 Cor. 1: 2, "With
all," saith he, "that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ
our Lord, both theirs and ours;" that is, with all the saints of God.
And invocation generally comprises the whole worship of God. This,
then, is the due of our Mediator, though as God, as the Son, - not as
Mediator.
    3. Thus also is it in reference unto the Holy Spirit of grace. The
closing of the great sin of unbelief is still described as an
opposition unto, and a resisting of that Holy spirit. And you have
distinct mention of the love of the Spirit, Rom. 15: 30. The apostle
also peculiarly directs his supplication to him in that solemn
benediction, 2 Cor. 13: 14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and
the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all."
And such benedictions are originally supplications. He is likewise
entitled unto all instituted worship, from the appointment of the
administration of baptism in his name, Matt. 28: 19. Of which things
more afterward.
    Now, of the things which have been delivered this is the sum: -
there is no grace whereby our souls go forth unto God, no act of divine
worship yielded unto him, duty or obedience performed, but they are
distinctly directed unto Father, Son, and Spirit. Now, by these and
such like ways as these, do we hold communion with God; and therefore
we have that communion distinctly, as has been described.
    This also may farther appear, if we consider how distinctly the
persons of the Deity are revealed to act in the communication of those
good things, wherein the saints have communion with God. As all the
spiritual ascending of their souls are assigned unto them respectively,
so all their internal receiving of the communications of God unto them
are held out in such a distribution as points at distinct rises and
fountains (though not of being in themselves, yet) of dispensations
unto us. Now this is declared two ways: -
    (1.) When the same thing is, at the same time, ascribed jointly
and yet distinctly to all the persons in the Deity, and respectively to
each of them. So are grace and peace, Rev. 1: 4, 5, "Grace be unto you,
and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and
from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; and from Jesus
Christ, who is the faithful witness," etc. The seven Spirits before the
throne, are the holy Spirit of God, considered as the perfect fountain
of every perfect gift and dispensation. All are here joined together,
and yet all mentioned as distinguished in their communication of grace
and peace unto the saints. "Grace and peace be unto you, from the
Father, and from," etc.
    (2.) When the same thing is attributed severally and singly unto
each person. There is, indeed, no gracious influence from above, no
illapse of light, life, love, or grace upon our hearts, but proceedeth
in such a dispensation. I shall give only one instance, which is very
comprehensive, and may be thought to comprise all other particulars;
and this is Teaching. The teaching of God is the real communication of
all and every particular emanation from himself unto the saints whereof
they are made partakers. That promise, "They shall be all taught of
God," inwraps in itself the whole mystery of grace, as to its actual
dispensation unto us, so far as we may be made real possessors of it.
Now this is assigned, -
    [1.] Unto the Father. The accomplishment of that promise is
peculiarly referred to him, John 6: 45, "It is written in the prophets,
And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that has
heard, and has learned of the Father, comes unto me." This teaching,
whereby we are translated from death unto life, brought unto Christ,
unto a participation of life and love in him, - it is of and from the
Father: him we hear, of him we learn, by him are we brought unto union
and communion with the Lord Jesus. This is his drawing us, his
begetting us anew of his own will, by his Spirit; and in which work he
employs the ministers of the gospel, Acts 26: 17, 18.
    [2.] Unto the Son. The Father proclaims him from heaven to be the
great teacher, in that solemn charge to hear him, which came once [and]
again from the excellent glory: "This is my beloved Son; hear him." The
whole of his prophetical, and no small part of his kingly office,
consists in this teaching; herein is he said to draw men unto him, as
the Father is said to do in his teaching, John 12: 32; which he does
with such efficacy, that "the dead hear his voice and live." The
teaching of the Son is a life-giving, a spirit-breathing teaching; - an
effectual influence of light, whereby he shines into darkness; a
communication of life, quickening the dead; an opening of blind eyes,
and changing of hard hearts; a pouring out of the Spirit, with all the
fruits thereof. Hence he claims it as his privilege to be the sole
master, Matt. 23: 10, "One is your Master, even Christ."
    [3.] To the Spirit. John 14: 26, "The Comforter, he shall teach
you all things." "But the anointing which ye have received," saith the
apostle, "abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but
as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is
no lie, and even as it has taught you, ye shall abide in him," 1 John
2: 27. That teaching unction which is not only true, but truth itself,
is only the Holy Spirit of God: so that he teacheth also; being given
unto us "that we might know the things that are freely given to us of
God," 1 Cor. 2: 12. I have chosen this special instance because, as I
told you, it is comprehensive, and comprises in itself most of the
particulars that might be an numerated, - quickening, preserving, etc.
    This, then, farther drives on the truth that lies under
demonstration; there being such a distinct communication of grace from
the several persons of the Deity, the saints must needs have distinct
communion with them.
    It remaineth only to intimate, in a word, wherein this
distinctions lies, and what is the ground thereof. Now, this is, that
the Father does it by the way of original authority; the Son by the way
of communicating from a purchased treasury; the Holy Spirit by the way
of immediate efficacy.
    1st. The Father communicates all grace by the way of original
authority: He quickeneth WHOM HE WILL, John 5: 21. "OF HIS OWN WILL
begat he us," James 1: 18. Life-giving power is, in respect of original
authority, invested in the Father by the way of eminency; and
therefore, in sending of the quickening Spirit, Christ is said to do it
from the Father, or the Father himself to do it. "But the Comforter,
which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send," John 14: 26. "But
when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father,"
John 15: 26; - though he be also said to send him himself, on another
account, John 16: 7.
    2dly. The Son, by the way of making out a purchased treasury: "Of
his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace," John 1: 16. And
whence is this fulness? "It pleased the Father that in him should all
fulness dwell," Col. 1: 19. And upon what account he has the
dispensation of that fulness to him committed you may see, Phil. 2: 8-
11. "When thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall
prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his
hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied:
by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall
bear their iniquities," Isa. 53: l0,11. And with this fulness he has
also authority for the communication of it, John 5: 25-27; Matt. 28:
18.
    3dly. The Spirit does it by the way of immediate efficacy, Rom. 8:
11, "But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell
in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your
mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." Here are all three
comprised, with their distinct concurrence unto our quickening. Here is
the Father's authoritative quickening, - "He raised Christ from the
dead, and he shall quicken you;" and the Son's mediatory quickening, -
for it is done in "the death of Christ;" and the Spirit's immediate
efficacy, - "He shall do it by the Spirit that dwelleth in you." He
that desires to see this whole matter farther explained, may consult
what I have elsewhere written on this subject. And thus is the distinct
communion whereof we treat both proved and demonstrated.
    
    
    
    
    
    

Chapter 3. Of the peculiar and distinct communion which the saints have
     with the Father - Observations for the clearing of the whole
     premised - Our peculiar communion with the Father is in love - 1
     John 4: 7, 8; 2 Cor. 13: 14; John 16: 26, 27; Rom. 5: 5; John 3:
     16, 14: 23; Tit. 3: 4, opened to this purpose - What is required
     of believers to hold communion with the Father in love - His love
     received by faith - Returns of love to him - God's love to us and
     ours to him - Wherein they agree - Wherein they differ.
    
    
    Having proved that there is such a distinct communion in respect
of Father, Son, and Spirit, as whereof we speak, it remains that it be
farther cleared up by an induction of instances, to manifest what [it
is], and wherein the saints peculiarly hold this communion with the
several persons respectively: which also I shall do, after the
premising some observations, necessary to be previously considered, as
was promised, for the clearing of what has been spoken. And they are
these that follow: -
    1. When I assign any thing as peculiar wherein we distinctly hold
communion with any person, I do not exclude the other persons from
communion with the soul in the very same thing. Only this, I say,
principally, immediately, and by the way of eminency, we have, in such
a thing, or in such a way, communion with some one person; and therein
with the others secondarily, and by the way of consequence on that
foundation; for the person, as the person, of any one of them, is not
the prime object of divine worship, but as it is identified with the
nature or essence of God. Now, the works that outwardly are of God
(called " Trinitatis ad extra"), which are commonly said to be common
and undivided, are either wholly so, and in all respects, as all works
of common providence; or else, being common in respect of their acts,
they are distinguished in respect of that principle, or next and
immediate rise in the manner of operation: so creation is appropriated
to the Father, redemption to the Son. In which sense we speak of these
things.
    2. There is a concurrence of the acting and operations of the
whole Deity in that dispensation, wherein each person concurs to the
work of our salvation, unto every act of our communion with each
singular person. Look, by what act soever we hold communion with any
person, there is an influence from every person to the putting forth of
that act. As, suppose it to be the act of faith: - It is bestowed on us
by the Father: "It is not of yourselves: it is the gift of God," Eph.
2: 8. It is the Father that revealeth the gospel, and Christ therein,
Matt. 11: 25. And it is purchased for us by the Son: "Unto you it is
given in the behalf of Christ, to believe on him," Phil. 1: 29. In him
are we "blessed with spiritual blessings," Eph. 1: 3. He bestows on us,
and increaseth faith in us, Luke 17: 5. And it is wrought in us by the
Spirit; he administers that "exceeding greatness of his power," which
he exerciseth towards them who believe, "according to the working of
his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from
the dead," Eph. i 19, 20; Rom. 8: 11.
    3. When I assign any particular thing wherein we hold communion
with any person, I do not do it exclusively unto other mediums of
communion; but only by the way of inducing a special and eminent
instance for the proof and manifestation of the former general
assertion: otherwise there is no grace or duty wherein we have not
communion with God in the way described. In every thing wherein we are
made partakers of the divine nature, there is a communication and
receiving between God and us; so near are we unto him in Christ.
    4. By asserting this distinct communion, which merely respects
that order in the dispensation of grace which God is pleased to hold
out in the gospel, I intend not in the least to shut up all communion
with God under these precincts (his ways being exceeding broad,
containing a perfection whereof there is no end), nor to prejudice that
holy fellowship we have with the whole Deity, in our walking before him
in covenant-obedience; which also, God assisting, I shall handle
hereafter.
    These few observations being premised, I come now to declare what
it is wherein peculiarly and eminently the saints have communion with
the Father; and this is love, - free, undeserved, and eternal love.
This the Father peculiarly fixes upon the saints; this they are
immediately to eye in him, to receive of him, and to make such returns
thereof as he is delighted withal. This is the great discovery of the
gospel: for whereas the Father, as the fountain of the Deity, is not
known any other way but as full of wrath, anger, and indignation
against sin, nor can the sons of men have any other thoughts of him
(Rom. 1: 18; Isa. 33: 13,14; Hab. 1: 13; Ps. 5: 4-6; Eph. 2: 3), - here
he is now revealed peculiarly as love, as full of it unto us; the
manifestation whereof is the peculiar work of the gospel, Tit. 3: 4.
    1. 1 John 4: 8, "God is love." That the name of God is here taken
personally, and for the person of the Father, not essentially, is
evident from verse 9, where he is distinguished from his only begotten
Son whom he sends into the world. Now, saith he, "The Father is love;"
that is, not only of an infinitely gracious, tender, compassionate, and
loving nature, according as he has proclaimed himself, Exod. 34: 6, 7,
but also one that eminently and peculiarly dispenseth himself unto us
in free love." So the apostle sets it forth in the following verses:
"This is love," verse 9; - "This is that which I would have you take
notice of in him, that he makes out love unto you, in 'sending his only
begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.'" So also,
verse 10, "He loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our
sins." And that this is peculiarly to be eyed in him, the holy Ghost
plainly declares, in making it antecedent to the sending of Christ, and
all mercies and benefits whatever by him received. This love, I say, in
itself, is antecedent to the purchase of Christ, although the whole
fruit thereof be made out alone thereby, Eph. 1: 4-6.
    2. So in that distribution made by the apostle in his solemn
parting benediction, 2 Cor. 13: 14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus
Christ, THE LOVE OF GOD, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with
you all." Ascribing sundry things unto the distinct persons, it is love
that he peculiarly assigns to the Father. And the fellowship of the
Spirit is mentioned with the grace of Christ and the love of God,
because it is by the Spirit alone that we have fellowship with Christ
in grace, and with the Father in love, although we have also peculiar
fellowship with him; as shall be declared.
    3. John 16: 26, 27, saith our Saviour, "I say not unto you, that I
will pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loveth you." But
how is this, that our Saviour saith, "I say not that I will pray the
Father for you," when he saith plainly, chap. 14: 16, "I will pray the
Father for you?" The disciples, with all the gracious words,
comfortable and faithful promises of their Master, with most heavenly
discoveries of his heart unto them, were even fully convinced of his
dear and tender affections towards them; as also of his continued care
and kindness, that he would not forget them when bodily he was gone
from them, as he was now upon his departure: but now all their thoughts
are concerning the Father, how they should be accepted with him, what
respect he had towards them. Saith our Saviour, "Take no care of that,
nay, impose not that upon me, of procuring the Father's love for you;
but know that this is his peculiar respect towards you, and which you
are in him: 'He himself loves you.' It is true, indeed (and as I told
you), that I will pray the Father to send you the Spirit, the
Comforter, and with him all the gracious fruits of his love; but yet in
the point of love itself, free love, eternal love, there is no need of
any intercession for that: for eminently the Father himself loves you.
Resolve of that, that you may hold communion with him in it, and be no
more troubled about it. Yea, as your great trouble is about the
Father's love, so you can no way more trouble or burden him, than by
your unkindness in not believing of it." So it must needs be where
sincere love is questioned.
    4. The apostle teaches the same, Rom. 5: 5, "The love of God is
shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us."
God, whose love this is, is plainly distinguished from the Holy Ghost,
who sheds abroad that love of his; and, verse 8, he is also
distinguished from the Son, for it is from that love of his that the
Son is sent: and therefore it is the Father of whom the apostle here
specially speaketh. And what is it that he ascribes to him? Even love;
which also, verse 8, he commendeth to us, - sets it forth in such a
signal and eminent expression, that we may take notice of it, and close
with him in it. To carry this business to its height, there is not only
most frequent peculiar mention of the love of God, where the Father is
eminently intended, and of the love of the Father expressly, but he is
also called "The God of love," 2 Cor. 13: 11, and is said to be "love:"
so that whoever will know him, 1 John 4: 8, or dwell in him by
fellowship or communion, verse 16, must do it as he is love."
    5. Nay, whereas there is a twofold divine love, beneplaciti and
amicitiae, a love of good pleasure and destination, and a love of
friendship and approbation, they are both peculiarly assigned to the
Father in an eminent manner: -
    (1.) John 3: 16, "God so loved the world, that he gave," etc.;
that is, with the love of his purpose and good pleasure, his
determinate will of doing good. This is distinctly ascribed to him,
being laid down as the cause of sending his Son. So Rom. 9: 11, 12;
Eph. 1: 4, 5; 2 These 2: 13, 14; 1 John 4: 8, 9.
    (2.) John 14: 23, there is mention of that other kind of love
whereof we speak. "If a man love me," saith Christ, "he will keep my
words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make
our abode with him." The love of friendship and approbation is here
eminently ascribed to him. Says Christ, "We will come," even Father and
Son, "to such a one, and dwell with him;" that is, by the Spirit: but
yet he would have us take notice, that, in point of love, the Father
has a peculiar prerogative: " My Father will love him."
    6. Yea, and as this love is peculiarly to be eyed in him, so it is
to be looked on as the fountain of all following gracious
dispensations. Christians walk oftentimes with exceedingly troubled
hearts, concerning the thoughts of the Father towards them. They are
well persuaded of the Lord Christ and his good-will; the difficulty
lies in what is their acceptance with the Father, - what is his heart
towards them? "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us," John 14: 8.
Now, this ought to be so far away, that his love ought to be looked on
as the fountain from whence all other sweetnesses flow. Thus the
apostle sets it out, Tit. 3: 4, "After that the kindness and love of
God our Saviour toward man appeared." It is of the Father of whom he
speaks; for, verse 6, he tells us that "he makes out unto us," or
"sheds that love upon us abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour."
And this love he makes the hinge upon which the great alteration and
translation of the saints does turn; for, saith he, verse 3, "We
ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving
divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and
hating one another." All naught, all out of order, and vile. Whence,
then, is our recovery? The whole rise of it is from this love of God,
flowing out by the ways there described. For when the kindness and love
of God appeared, - that is, in the fruits of it, - then did this
alteration ensue. To secure us hereof, there is not any thing that has
a loving and tender nature in the world, and does act suitably
whereunto, which God has not compared himself unto. Separate all
weakness and imperfection which is in them, yet great impressions of
love must abide. He is as a father, a mother, a shepherd, a hen over
chickens, and the like, Ps. 103: 13; Isa. 63: 16; Matt. 6: 6; Isa. 66:
13; Ps. 23: l; Isa. 40: 11; Matt. 23: 37.
    I shall not need to add any more proofs. This is that which is
demonstrated: - There is love in the person of the Father peculiarly
held out unto the saints, as wherein he will and does hold communion
with them.
    Now, to complete communion with the Father in love, two things are
required of believers: - (1.) That they receive it of him. (2.) That
they make suitable returns unto him.
    (1.) That they do receive it. Communion consists in giving and
receiving. Until the love of the Father be received, we have no
communion with him therein. How, then, is this love of the Father to be
received, so as to hold fellowship with him? I answer, By faith. The
receiving of it is the believing of it. God has so fully, so eminently
revealed his love, that it may be received by faith. "Ye believe in
God," John 14: l; that is, the Father. And what is to be believe in
him? His love; for he is "love," 1 John 4: 8.
    It is true, there is not an immediate acting of faith upon the
Father, but by the Son. "He is the way, the truth, and the life: no man
comes unto the Father but by him," Joh 14: 6. He is the merciful high
priest over the house of God, by whom we have access to the throne of
grace: by him is our manuduction unto the Father; by him we believe in
God, l Pet. 1: 21. But this is that I say, - When by and through Christ
we have an access unto the Father, we then behold his glory also, and
see his love that he peculiarly bears unto us, and act faith thereon.
We are then, I say, to eye it, to believe it, to receive it, as in him;
the issues and fruits thereof being made out unto us through Christ
alone. Though there be no light for us but in the beams, yet we may by
beams see the sun, which is the fountain of it. Though all our
refreshment actually lie in the streams, yet by them we are led up unto
the fountain. Jesus Christ, in respect of the love of the Father, is
but the beam, the stream; wherein though actually all our light, our
refreshment lies, yet by him we are led to the fountain, the sun of
eternal love itself. Would believers exercise themselves herein, they
would find it a matter of no small spiritual improvement in their
walking with God.
    This is that which is aimed at. Many dark and disturbing thoughts
are apt to arise in this thing. Few can carry up their hearts and minds
to this height by faith, as to rest their souls in the love of the
Father; they live below it, in the troublesome region of hopes and
fears, storms and clouds. A11 here is serene and quiet. But how to
attain to this pitch they know not. This is the will of God, that he
may always be eyed as benign, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable
therein; and that peculiarly as the Father, as the great fountain and
spring of all gracious communications and fruits of love. This is that
which Christ came to reveal, - God as a Father, John 1: 18; that name
which he declares to those who are given him out of the world, John 17:
6. And this is that which he effectually leads us to by himself, as he
is the only way of going to God as a Father, John 14: 5, 6; that is, as
love: and by doing so, gives us the rest which he promiseth; for the
love of the Father is the only rest of the soul. It is true, as was
said, we do not this formally in the first instant of believing. We
believe in God through Christ, 1 Pet. 1: 21; faith seeks out rest for
the soul. This is presented to it by Christ, the mediator, as the only
procuring cause. Here it abides not, but by Christ it has an access to
the Father, Eph. 2: 18, - into his love; finds out that he is love, as
having a design, a purpose of love, a good pleasure towards us from
eternity, - a delight, a complacency, a good-will in Christ, - all
cause of anger and aversation being taken away. The soul being thus, by
faith through Christ, and by him, brought into the bosom of God, into a
comfortable persuasion and spiritual perception and sense of his love,
there reposes and rests itself. And this is the first thing the saints
do, in their communion with the Father; of the due improvement whereof,
more afterward.
    (2.) For that suitable return which is required, this also (in a
main part of it, beyond which I shall not now extend it) consisteth in
love. God loves, that he may be beloved. When he comes to command the
return of his received love, to complete communion with him, he says,
"My son, give me thine heart," Prov. 23: 26, - thy affections, thy
love. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with
all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind," Luke
10: 27; this is the return that he demandeth. When the soul sees God,
in his dispensation of love, to be love, to be infinitely lovely and
loving, rests upon and delights in him as such, then has it communion
with him in love. This is love, that God loves us first, and then we
love him again. I shall not now go forth into a description of divine
love. Generally, love is an affection of union and nearness, with
complacency therein. So long as the Father is looked on under any other
apprehension, but only as acting love upon the soul, it breeds in the
soul a dread and aversation. Hence the flying and hiding of sinners, in
the Scriptures. But when he who is the Father is considered as a
father, acting love on the soul, thine raises it to love again. This
is, in faith, the ground of all acceptable obedience, Deut. 5: 10;
Exod. 20: 6; Deut. 10: 12, 11: 1, 13, 13: 3.
    Thus is this whole business stated by the apostle, Eph. 1: 4,
"According as he has chosen us in him before the foundation of the
world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love." It
begins in the love of God, and ends in our love to him. That is it
which the eternal love of God aims at in us, and works us up unto. It
is true, our universal obedience falls within the compass of our
communion with God; but that is with him as God, our blessed sovereign,
lawgiver, and rewarder: as he is the Father, our Father in Christ, as
revealed unto us to be love, above and contrary to all the expectations
of the natural man; so it is in love that we have this intercourse with
him. Nor do I intend only that love which is as the life and form of
all moral obedience; but a peculiar delight and acquiescing in the
Father, revealed effectually as love unto the soul.
    That this communion with the Father in love may be made the more
clear and evident, I shall show two things: - [1.] Wherein this love of
God unto us and our love to him do agree, as to some manner of analogy
and likeness. [2.] Wherein they differ; which will farther discover the
nature of each of them.
    [1.] They agree in two things: -
    1st. That they' are each a love of rest and complacency.
    (1st.) The love of God is so. Zeph. 3: 17, "The LORD thy God in
the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee
with joy, he will rest in his love; he will joy over thee with
singing." Both these things are here assigned unto God in his love, -
REST and DELIGHT. The words are, "yacharish be'ahavato" - "He shall be
silent because of his love." To rest with contentment is expressed by
being silent; that is, without repining, without complaint. This God
does upon the account of his own love, so full, so every way complete
and absolute, that it will not allow him to complain of any thing in
them whom he loves, but he is silent on the account thereof Or, "Rest
in his love;" that is, he will not remove it, - he will not seek
farther for another object. It shall make its abode upon the soul where
it is once fixed, for ever. And COMPLACENCY or DELIGHT: "He rejoiceth
with singing;" as one that is fully satisfied in that object he has
fixed his love on. Here are two words used to express the delight and
joy that God has in his love, - "yasis" and "yagil". The first denotes
the inward affection of the mind, joy of heart; and to set out the
intenseness hereof, it is said he shall do it "besimchah", - in
gladness, or with joy. To have joy of heart in gladness, is the highest
expression of delight in love. The latter word denotes not the inward
affection, but the outwards demonstration of it: "agalliain" seems to
be formed of it. It is to exult in outward demonstration of internal
delight and joy; - " Tripudiare," to leap, as men overcome with some
joyful surprisal. And therefore God is said to do this "berinnah" -
with a joyful sound, or singing. To rejoice with gladness of heart, to
exult with singing and praise, argues the greatest delight and
complacency possible. When he would express the contrary of this love,
he says "ouk eudokese", - "he was not well pleased," 1 Cor. 10: 5; he
fixed not his delight nor rest on them. And, "If any man draw back, the
Lord's soul has no pleasure in him," Heb. 10: 38; Jer. 22: 28; Hos. 8:
8; Mal. 1: 10. He takes pleasure in those that abide with him. He sings
to his church, "A vineyard of red wine: I the LORD do keep it," Isa.
27: 2, 3; Ps. 147: 11, 149: 4. There is rest and complacency in his
love. There is in the Hebrew but a metathesis of a letter between the
word that signifies a love of will and desire ("'ahav" is so to love),
and that which denotes a love of rest and acquiescence (which is,
"'avah"); and both are applied to God. He wills good to us, that he may
rest in that will. Some say, "agapain", "to love," is from "agan
potestai", perfectly to acquiesce in the thing loved. And when God
calls his Son "agapeton", "beloved," Matt. 3: 17, he adds, as an
exposition of it, "en hoi eudokesa", "in whom I rest well pleased."
    (2dly.) The return that the saints make unto him, to complete
communion with him herein, holds some analogy with his love in this;
for it is a love also of rest and delight. "Return unto thy rest, my
soul," says David, Ps. 116: 7. He makes God his rest; that is, he in
whom his soul does rest, without seeking farther for a more suitable
and desirable object. "Whom have I," saith he, "in heaven but thee and
there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee," Ps. 73:25. Thus
the soul gathers itself from all its wanderings, from all other
beloveds, to rest in God alone, - to satiate and content itself in him;
choosing the Father for his present and eternal rest. And this also
with delight. "Thy loving-kindness," saith the psalmist, "is better
than life; therefore will I praise thee," Ps. 63: 3. "Than life,"
"michayim", - before lives. I will not deny but life in a single
consideration sometimes is so expressed, but always emphatically; so
that the whole life, with all the concernments of it, which may render
it considerable, are thereby intended. Austin, on this place, reading
it "super vitas," extends it to the several courses of life that men
engage themselves in. Life, in the whole continuance of it, with all
its advantages whatever, is at least intended. Supposing himself in the
jaws of death, rolling into the grave through innumerable troubles, yet
he found more sweetness in God than in a long life, under its best and
most noble considerations, attended with all enjoyments that make it
pleasant and comfortable. From both these is that of the church, in
Hos. 14: 3, "Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses:
neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods:
for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy". They reject the most goodly
appearances of rest and contentment, to make up all in God, on whom
they cast themselves, as otherwise helpless orphans.
    2dly. The mutual love of God and the saints agrees in this, - that
the way of communicating the issues and fruits of these loves is only
in Christ. The Father communicates no issue of his love unto us but
through Christ; and we make no return of love unto him but through
Christ. He is the treasury wherein the Father disposeth all the riches
of his grace, taken from the bottomless mine of his eternal love; and
he is the priest into whose hand we put all the offerings that we
return unto the Father. Thence he is first, and by way of eminency,
said to love the Son; not only as his eternal Son, - as he was the
delight of his soul before the foundation of the world, Prov. 8: 30, -
but also as our mediator, and the means of conveying his love to us,
Matt. 3: 17; John 3: 35, 5: 20, 10: 17, 15: 9, 17: 24. And we are said
through him to believe in and to have access to God.
    (1st.) The Father loves us, and "chose us before the foundation of
the world;" but in the pursuit of that love, he "blesseth us with all
spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ," Eph. 1: 3, 4. From
his love, he sheds or pours out the Holy Spirit richly upon us, through
Jesus Christ our Saviour, Tit. 3: 6. In the pouring out of his love,
there is not one drop falls besides the Lord Christ. The holy anointing
oil was all poured on the head of Aaron, Ps. 133: 2; and thence went
down to the skirts of his clothing. Love is first poured out on Christ;
and from him it drops as the dew of Herman upon the souls of his
saints. The Father will have him to have "in all things the pre-
eminence," Col. 1: 18; "it pleased him that in him all fulness should
dwell," verse 19; that "of his fulness we might receive, and grace for
grace," John 1: 16. Though the love of the Father's purpose and good
pleasure have its rise and foundation in his mere grace and will, yet
the design of its accomplishment is only in Christ. All the fruits of
it are first given to him; and it is in him only that they are
dispensed to us. So that though the saints may, nay, do, see an
infinite ocean of love unto them in the bosom of the Father, yet they
are not to look for one drop from him but what comes through Christ. He
is the only means of communications. Love in the Father is like honey
in the flower; - it must be in the comb before it be for our use.
Christ must extract and prepare this honey for us. He draws this water
from the fountain through union and dispensation of fulness; - we by
faith, from the wells of salvation that are in him. This was in part
before discovered.
    (2dly.) Our returns are all in him, and by him also. And well is
it with us that it is so. What lame and blind sacrifices should we
otherwise present unto God! He bears the iniquity of our offerings, and
he adds incense unto our prayers. Our love is fixed on the Father; but
it is conveyed to him through the Son of his love. He is the only way
for our graces as well as our persons to go unto God; through him
passeth all our desire, our delight, our complacency, our obedience. Of
which more afterward.
    Now, in these two things there is some resemblance between that
mutual love of the Father and the saints wherein they hold communion.
    [2.] There are sundry things wherein they differ: -
    1st. The love of God is a love of bounty; our love unto him is a
love of duty.
    (1st.) The love of the Father is a love of bounty, - a descending
love; such a love as carries him out to do good things to us, great
things for us. His love lies at the bottom of all dispensations towards
us; and we scarce anywhere find any mention of it, but it is held out
as the cause and fountain of some free gift flowing from it. He loves
us, and sends his Son to die for us; - he loves us, and blesseth us
with all spiritual blessings. Loving is choosing, Rom. 9: 11, 12. He
loves us and chastiseth us. [It is] a love like that of the heavens to
the earth, when, being full of rain, they pour forth showers to make it
fruitful; as the sea communicates its waters to the rivers by the way
of bounty, out of its own fulness, - they return unto it only what they
receive from it. It is the love of a spring, of a fountain, - always
communicating; - a love from whence proceeds every thing that is lovely
in its object. It infuseth into, and creates goodness in, the persons
beloved. And this answers the description of love given by the
philosopher. "To love," saith he, "esti boulestai tini ha oietai agata,
kai kata dunamin praktikon einai touton." He that loves works out good
to them he loveth, as he is able. God's power and will are
commensurate; - what he willeth he worketh.
    (2dly.) Our love unto God is a love of duty, the love of a child.
His love descends upon us in bounty and fruitfulness; our love ascends
unto him in duty and thankfulness. He adds to us by his love; we
nothing to him by ours. Our goodness extends not unto him. Though our
love be fixed on him immediately, yet no fruit of our love reacheth him
immediately; though he requires our love, he is not benefited by it,
Job 35: 5-8, Rom. 11: 35, Job 22: 2, 3. It is indeed made up of these
four things: - 1. Rest; 2. Delight; 3. Reverence; 4. Obedience. By
these do we hold communion with the Father in his love. Hence God calls
that love which is due to him as a father, "honour," Mal. 1: 6, "If I
be a father, where is mine honour?" It is a deserved act of duty.
    2dly. They differ in this: - The love of the Father unto us is an
antecedent love; our love unto him is a consequent love.
    (1st.) The love of the Father unto us is an antecedent love, and
that in two respects: -
    [1st.] It is antecedent in respect of our love, 1 John 4: 10,
"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us." His love
goes before ours. The father loves the child, when the child knows not
the father, much less loves him. Yea, we are by nature "Teostugeis",
Rom. 1: 30, - haters of God. He is in his own nature "filantropos", - a
lover of men; and surely all mutual love between him and us must begin
on his hand.
    [2dly.] In respect of all other causes of love whatever. It goes
not only before our love, but also any thing in us that is lovely. Rom.
5: 8, "God commendeth his love towards us, in that whilst we were yet
sinners Christ died for us." Not only his love, but the eminent fruit
thereof, is made out towards us as sinners. Sin holds out all of
unloveliness and undesirableness that can be in a creature. The very
mention of that removes all causes, all moving occasions of love
whatever. Yet, as such, have we the commendation of the Father's love
unto us, by a most signal testimony. Not only when we have done no
good, but when we are in our blood, does he love us; - not because we
are better than others, but because himself is infinitely good. His
kindness appears when we are foolish and disobedient. Hence he is said
to "love the world;" that is, those who have nothing but what is in and
of the world, whose whole [portion] lies in evil.
    (2dly.) Our love is consequential in both these regards: -
    [1st.] In respect of the love of God. Never did creature turn his
affections towards God, if the heart of God were not first set upon
him.
    [2dly.] In respect of sufficient causes of love. God must be
revealed unto us as lovely and desirable, as a fit and suitable object
unto the soul to set up its rest upon, before we can bear any love unto
him. The saints (in this sense) do not love God for nothing, but for
that excellency, loveliness, and desirableness that is in him. As the
psalmist says, in one particular, Ps. 116: 1, "I love the LORD,
BECAUSE!" so may we in general; we love the Lord, BECAUSE! Or, as David
in another case, "What have I now done? is there not a cause?" If any
man inquire about our love to God, we may say, "What have we now done?
is there not a cause?"
    3dly. They differ in this also: - The love of God is like himself,
- equal, constant, not capable of augmentation or diminution; our love
is like ourselves, - unequal, increasing, waning, growing, declining.
His, like the sun, always the same in its light, though a cloud may
sometimes interpose; ours, as the moon, has its enlargements and
straitenings.
    (1st.) The love of the Father is equal, etc.; whom he loves, he
loves unto the end, and he loves them always alike. "The Strength of
Israel is not a man, that he should repent." On whom he fixes his love,
it is immutable; it does not grow to eternity, it is not diminished at
any time. It is an eternal love, that had no beginning, that shall have
no ending; that cannot be heightened by any act of ours, that cannot be
lessened by any thing in us. I say, in itself it is thus; otherwise, in
a twofold regard, it may admit of change: -
    [1st.] In respect of its fruits. It is, as I said, a fruitful
love, a love of bounty. In reference unto those fruits, it may
sometimes be greater, sometimes less; its communications are various.
Who among the saints finds it not [so]? What life, what light, what
strength, sometimes! and again, how dead, how dark, how weak! as God is
pleased to let out or to restrain the fruits of his love. All the
graces of the Spirit in us, all sanctified enjoyments whatever, are
fruits of his love. How variously these are dispensed, how differently
at sundry seasons to the same persons, experience will abundantly
testify.
    [2dly.] In respect of its discoveries and manifestations. He
"sheds abroad his love in our hearts by the Holy Ghost," Rom. 5: 5, -
gives us a sense of it, manifests it unto us. Now, this is various and
changeable, sometimes more, sometimes less; now he shines, anon hides
his face, as it may be for our profit. Our Father will not always
chide, lest we be cast down; he does not always smile, lest we be full
and neglect him: but yet, still his love in itself is the same. When
for a little moment he hides his face, yet he gathers us with
everlasting kindness.
    Objection. But you will say, "This comes nigh to that blasphemy,
that God loves his people in their sinning as well as in their
strictest obedience; and, if so, who will care to serve him more, or to
walk with him unto well-pleasing?"
    Answer. There are few truths of Christ which, from some or other,
have not received like entertainment with this. Terms and appellations
are at the will of every imposer; things are not at all varied by them.
The love of God in itself is the eternal purpose and act of his will.
This is no more changeable than God himself: if it were, no flesh could
be saved; but its changeth not, and we are not consumed. What then?
loves he his people in their sinning? Yes; his people, - not their
sinning. Alters he not his love towards them? Not the purpose of his
will, but the dispensations of his grace. He rebukes them, he chastens
them, he hides his face from them, he smites them, he fills them with a
sense of [his] indignation; but woe, woe would it be to us, should he
change in his love, or take away his kindness from us! Those very
things which seem to be demonstrations of the change of his affections
towards his, do as clearly proceed from love as those which seem to be
the most genuine issues thereof. "But will not this encourage to sin?"
He never tasted of the love of God that can serious]y make this
objection. The doctrine of grace may be turned into wantonness; the
principle cannot. I shall not wrong the saints by giving another answer
to this objection: Detestation of sin in any may well consist with the
acceptation of their persons, and their designation to life eternal.
    But now our love to God is ebbing and flowing, waning and
increasing. We lose our first love, and we grow again in love; - scarce
a day at a stand. What poor creatures are we! How unlike the Lord and
his love! "Unstable as water, we cannot excel." Now it is, "Though all
men forsake thee, I will not;" anon, "I know not the man." One day, "I
shall never be moved, my hill is so strong;" the next, "All men are
liars, I shall perish." When ever was the time, where ever was the
place, that our love was one day equal towards God?
    And thus, these agreements and discrepancies do farther describe
that mutual love of the Father and the saints, wherein they hold
communion. Other instances as to the person of the Father I shall not
give, but endeavour to make some improvement of this in the next
chapter.
    
    
    
    

Chapter 4. Inferences on the former doctrine concerning communion with
     the Father in love.
    
    Having thus discovered the nature of that distinct communion which
we have with the Father, it remaineth that we give some exhortations
unto it, directions in it, and take some observations from it: -
    1. First, then, this is a duty wherein it is most evident that
Christians are but little exercised, - namely, in holding immediate
communion with the Father in love. Unacquaintedness with our mercies,
our privileges, is our sin as well as our trouble. We hearken not to
the voice of the Spirit which is given unto us, "that we may know the
things that are freely bestowed on us of God." This makes us go
heavily, when we might rejoice; and to be weak, where we might be
strong in the Lord. How few of the saints are experimentally acquainted
with this privilege of holding immediate communion with the Father in
love! With what anxious, doubtful thoughts do they look upon him! What
fears, what questioning are there, of his good-will and kindness! At
the best, many think there is no sweetness at all in him towards us,
but what is purchased at the high price of the blood of Jesus. It is
true, that alone is the way of communication; but the free fountain and
spring of all is in the bosom of the Father. "Eternal life was with the
Father, and is manifested unto us." Let us, then, -
    (1.) Eye the Father as love; look not on him as an always lowering
father, but as one most kind and tender. Let us look on him by faith,
as one that has had thoughts of kindness towards us from everlasting.
It is misapprehension of God that makes any run from him, who have the
least breathing wrought in them after him. "They that know thee will
put their trust in thee." Men cannot abide with God in spiritual
meditations. He loseth soul's company by their want of this insight
into his love. They fix their thoughts only on his terrible majesty,
severity, and greatness; and so their spirits are not endeared. Would a
soul continually eye his everlasting tenderness and compassion, his
thoughts of kindness that have been from of old, his present gracious
acceptance, it could not bear an hour's absence from him; whereas now,
perhaps, it cannot watch with him one hour. Let, then, this be the
saints' first notion of the Father, - as one full of eternal, free love
towards them: let their hearts and thoughts be filled with breaking
through all discouragements that lie in the way. To raise them
hereunto, let them consider, -
    [1.] Whose love it is. It is the love of him who is in himself all
sufficient, infinitely satiated with himself and his own glorious
excellencies and perfections; who has no need to go forth with his love
unto others, nor to seek an object of it without himself. There might
he rest with delight and complacency to eternity. He is sufficient unto
his own love. He had his Son, also, his eternal Wisdom, to rejoice and
delight himself in from all eternity, Prov. 8: 30. This might take up
and satiate the whole delight of the Father; but he will love his
saints also. And it is such a love, as wherein he seeks not his own
satisfaction only, but our good therein also; - the love of a God, the
love of a Father, whose proper outgoings are kindness and bounty.
    [2.] What kind of love it is. And it is, -
    1st. Eternal. It was fixed on us before the foundation of the
world. Before we were, or had done the least good, then were his
thoughts upon us, - then was his delight in us; - then did the Son
rejoice in the thoughts of fulfilling his Father's delight in him,
Prov. 8: 30. Yea, the delight of the Father in the Son, there
mentioned, is not so much his absolute delight in him as the express
image of his person and the brightness of his glory, wherein he might
behold all his own excellencies and perfections; as with respect unto
his love and his delight in the sons of men. So the order of the words
require us to understand it: "I was daily his delight," and, "My
delights were with the sons of men;" that is, in the thoughts of
kindness and redemption for them: and in that respect, also, was he his
Father's delight. It was from eternity that he laid in his own bosom a
design for our happiness. The very thought of this is enough to make
all that is within us, like the babe in the womb of Elizabeth, to leap
for joy. A sense of it cannot but prostrate our souls to the lowest
abasement of a humble, holy reverence, and make us rejoice before him
with trembling.
    2dly. Free. He loves us because he will; there was, there is,
nothing in us for which we should be beloved. Did we deserve his love,
it must go less in its valuation. Things of due debt are seldom the
matter of thankfulness; but that which is eternally antecedent to our
being, must needs be absolutely free in its respects to our well-being.
This gives it life and being, is the reason of it, and sets a price
upon it, Rom. 9: 11; Eph. 1: 3, 4; Titus 3: 5; James 1: 18.
    3dly. Unchangeable. Though we change every day, yet his love
changeth not. Could any kind of provocation turn it away, it had long
since ceased. Its unchangeableness is that which carrieth out the
Father unto that infiniteness of patience and forbearance (without
which we die, we perish), 2 Pet. 3: 9, which he exerciseth towards us.
And it is, -
    4thly. Distinguishing. He has not thus loved all the world: "Jacob
have I loved, but Esau have I hated." Why should he fix his love on us,
and pass by millions from whom we differ not bye nature, - that he
should make us sharers in that, and all the fruits of it, which most of
the great and wise men of the world are excluded from? I name but the
heads of things. Let them enlarge whose hearts are touched.
    Let, I say, the soul frequently eye the love of the Father, and
that under these considerations, - they are all soul-conquering and
endearing.
    (2.) So eye it as to receive it. Unless this be added, all is in
vain as to any communion with God. We do not hold communion with him in
any thing, until it be received by faith. This, then, is that which I
would provoke the saints of God unto, even to believe this love of God
for themselves and their own part, - believe that such is the heart of
the Father towards them, - accept of his witness herein. His love is
not ours in the sweetness of it until it be so received. Continually,
then, act thoughts of faith on God, as love to thee, - as embracing
thee with the eternal free love before described. When the Lord is, by
his word, presented as such unto thee, let thy mind know it, and assent
that it is so; and thy will embrace it, in its being so; and all thy
affections be filled with it. Set thy whole heart to it; let it be
bound with the cords of this love. If the King be bound in the
galleries with thy love, shouldst thou not be bound in heaven with his?
    (3.) Let it have its proper fruit and efficacy upon thy heart, in
return of love to him again. So shall we walk in the light of God's
countenance, and hold holy communion with our Father all the day long.
Let us not deal unkindly with him, and return him slighting for his
good-will. Let there not be such a heart in us as to deal so
unthankfully with our God.
    2. Now, to further us in this duty, and the daily constant
practice of it, I shall add one or two considerations that may be of
importance whereunto; as, -
    (1.) It is exceeding acceptable unto God, even our Father, that we
should thus hold communion with him in his love, - that he may be
received into our souls as one full of love, tenderness, and kindness,
towards us. Flesh and blood is apt to have very hard thoughts of him, -
to think he is always angry, yea, implacable; that it is not for poor
creatures to draw nigh to him; that nothing in the world is more
desirable than never to come into his presence, or, as they say where
he has any thing to do. "Who among us shall dwell with the devouring
fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" say the
sinners in Zion. And, "I knew thou wast an austere man," saith the evil
servant in the gospels. Now, there is not any thing more grievous to
the Lord, nor more subservient to the design of Satan upon the soul,
than such thoughts as these. Satan claps his hands (if I may so say)
when he can take up the soul with such thoughts of God: he has enough,
- all that he does desire. This has been his design and way from the
beginning. The first blood that murderer shed was by this means. He
leads our first parents into hard thoughts of God: "Has God said so?
has he threatened you with death? He knows well enough it will be
better with you;" - with this engine did he batter and overthrow all
mankind in one; and being mindful of his ancient conquest, he readily
useth the same weapons wherewith then he so successfully contended.
Now, it is exceeding grievous to the Spirit of God to be so slandered
in the hearts of those whom he dearly loves. How does he expostulate
this with Zion! "What iniquity have ye seen in me?" saith he; "have I
been a wilderness unto you, or a land of darkness?" "Zion said, The
LORD has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me. Can a woman," etc.
The Lord takes nothing worse at the hands of his, than such hard
thoughts of him, knowing full well what fruit this bitter root is like
to bear, - what alienations of heart, - what drawings back, - what
unbelief and tergiversations in our walking with him. How unwilling is
a child to come into the presence of an angry father! Consider, then,
this in the first place, - receiving of the Father as he holds out love
to the soul, gives him the honour he aims at, and is exceeding
acceptable unto him. He often sets it out in an eminent manner, that it
may be so received: - "He commendeth his love toward us," Rom. 5: 8.
"Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us!" 1 John
3: 1. Whence, then, is this folly? Men are afraid to have good thoughts
of God. They think it a boldness to eye God as good, gracious, tender,
kind, loving: I speak of saints; but for the other side, they can judge
him hard, austere, severe, almost implacable, and fierce (the very
worst affections of the very worst of men, and most hated of him, Rom.
1: 31; 2 Tim. 3: 3), and think herein they do well. Is not this soul-
deceit from Satan? Was it not his design from the beginning to inject
such thoughts of God? Assure thyself, then, there is nothing more
acceptable unto the Father, than for us to keep up our hearts unto him
as the eternal fountain of all that rich grace which flows out to
sinners in the blood of Jesus. And, -
    (2.) This will be exceeding effectual to endear thy soul unto God,
to cause thee to delight in him, and to make thy abode with him. Many
saints have no greater burden in their lives, than that their hearts do
not come clearly and fully up, constantly to delight and rejoice in
God, - that there is still an indisposedness of spirit unto close
walking with him. What is at the bottom of this distemper? Is it not
their unskilfulness in or neglect of this duty, even of holding
communion with the Father in love? So much as we see of the love of
God, so much shall we delight in him, and no more. Every other
discovery of God, without this, will but make the soul fly from Him;
but if the heart be once much taken up with this the eminency of the
Father's love, it cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and
endeared unto him. This, if any thing, will work upon us to make our
abode with him. If the love of a father will not make a child delight
in him, what will? Put, then, this to the venture: exercise your
thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of
the Father, and see if your hearts be not wrought upon to delight in
him. I dare boldly say, believers will find it as thriving a course as
ever they pitched on in their lives. Sit down a little at the fountain,
and you will quickly have a farther discovery of the sweetness of the
streams. You who have run from him, will not be able, after a while, to
keep at a distance for a moment.
    Objection 1. But some may say, "Alas! how shall I hold communion
with the Father in love? I know not at all whether he loves me or no;
and shall I venture to cast myself upon it? How if I should not be
accepted? should I not rather perish for my presumption, than find
sweetness in his bosom? God seems to me only as a consuming fire and
everlasting burnings; so that I dread to look up unto him."
    Answer. I know not what may be understood by knowing of the love
of God; though it be carried on by spiritual sense and experience, yet
it is received purely by believing. Our knowing of it, is our believing
of it as revealed. "We have known and believed the love that God has to
us. God is love," 1 John 4: 16. This is the assurance which, at the
very entrance of walking with God, thou mayest have of this love. He
who is truth has said it; and whatever thy heart says, or Satan says,
unless thou wilt take it up on this account, thou does thy endeavour to
make him a liar who has spoken it, 1 John 5: 10.
    Obj. 2. "I can believe that God is love to others, for he has said
he is love; but that he will be so to me, I see no ground of
persuasion; there is no cause, no reason in the world, why he should
turn one thought of love or kindness towards me: and therefore I dare
not cast myself upon it, to hold communion with him in his special
love."
    Ans. He has spoken it as particularly to thee as to any one in the
world. And for cause of love, he has as much to fix it on thee as on
any of the children of men; that is, none at all without himself. So
that I shall make speedy work with this objection. Never any one from
the foundation of the world, who believed such love in the Father, and
made returns of love to him again, was deceived; neither shall ever any
to the world's end be so, in so doing. Thou art, then, in this, upon a
most sure bottom. If thou believest and receives the Father as love, he
will infallibly be so to thee, though others may fall under his
severity. But, -
    Obj. 3. "I cannot find my heart making returns of love unto God.
Could I find my soul set upon him, I could then believe his soul
delighted in me."
    Ans. This is the most preposterous course that possibly thy
thoughts can pitch upon, a most ready way to rob God of his glory.
"Herein is love," saith the Holy Ghost, "not that we loved God, but
that he loved us" first, 1 John 4: 10, 11. Now, thou wouldst invert
this order, and say, "Herein is love, not that God loved me, but that I
love him first." This is to take the glory of God from him: that,
whereas he loves us without a cause that is in ourselves, and we have
all cause in the world to love him, thou wouldst have the contrary,
namely, that something should be in thee for which God should love
thee, even thy love to him; and that thou shouldst love God, before
thou knowest any thing lovely in him, - namely, whether he love thee or
no. This is a course of flesh's finding out, that will never bring
glory to God, nor peace to thy own soul. Lay down, then, thy
seasonings; take up the love of the Father upon a pure act of
believing, and that will open thy soul to let it out unto the Lord in
the communion of love.
    To make yet some farther improvement of this truth so opened and
exhorted unto as before; - it will discover unto us the eminency and
privilege of the saints of God. What low thoughts soever the sons of
men may have of them, it will appear that they have meat to eat that
the world knows not of. They have close communion and fellowship with
the Father. They deal with him in the interchange of love. Men are
generally esteemed according to the company they keep. It is an honour
to stand in the presence of princes, though but as servants. What
honour, then, have all the saints, to stand with boldness in the
presence of the Father, and there to enjoy his bosom love! What a
blessing did the queen of Sheba pronounce on the servants of Solomon,
who stood before him, and heard his wisdom! How much more blessed,
then, are they who stand continually before the God of Solomon, hearing
his wisdom, enjoying his love! Whilst others have their fellowship with
Satan and their own lusts, making provision for them, and receiving
perishing refreshments from them, ("whose end is destruction, whose god
is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly
things,") they have this sweet communion with the Father.
    Moreover, what a safe and sweet retreat is here for the saints, in
all the scorns, reproaches, scandals, misrepresentations, which they
undergo in the world. When a child is abused abroad in the streets by
strangers, he runs with speed to the bosom of his father; there he
makes his complaint, and is comforted. In all the hardy censures and
tongue-persecutions which the saints meet withal in the streets of the
world, they may run with their meanings unto their Father, and be
comforted. "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you,"
saith the Lord, Isa. 66: 13. So that the soul may say, "If I have
hatred in the world, I will go where I am sure of love. Though all
others are hard to me, yet my Father is tender and full of compassion:
I will go to him, and satisfy myself in him. Here I am accounted vile,
frowned on, and rejected; but I have honour and love with him, whose
kindness is better than life itself. There I shall have all things in
the fountain, which others have but in the drops. There is in my
Father's love every thing desirable: there is the sweetness of all
mercies in the abstract itself, and that fully and durably."
    Evidently, then, the saints are the most mistaken men in the
world. If they say, "Come and have fellowship with us;" are not men
ready to say, "Why, what are you? a sorry company of seditious,
factious persons. Be it known unto you, that we despise your
fellowship. When we intend to leave fellowship with all honest men, and
men of worth, then will we come to you." But, alas! how are men
mistaken! Truly their fellowship is with the Father: let men think of
it as they please, they have close, spiritual, heavenly refreshing, in
the mutual communication of love with the Father himself. How they are
generally misconceived, the apostle declares, 2 Cor. 6: 8-10, "As
deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and,
behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always
rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet
possessing all things." And as it is thus in general, so in no one
thing more than this, that they are looked on as poor, low, despicable
persons, when indeed they are the only great and noble personages in
the world. Consider the company they keep: it is with the Father; - who
so glorious? The merchandise they trade in, it is love; - what so
precious? Doubtless they are the excellent on the earth, Ps. 16: 3.
    Farther; this will discover a main difference between the saints
and empty professors: - As to the performance of duties, and so the
enjoyment of outward privileges, fruitless professors often walk hand
in hand with them; but now come to their secret retirements, and what a
difference is there! There the saints hold communion with God:
hypocrites, for the most part, with the world and their own lusts; -
with them they converse and communicate; they hearken what they will
say to them, and make provision for them, when the saints are sweetly
wrapt up in the bosom of their Father's love. It is oftentimes even
almost impossible that believers should, in outward appearance, go
beyond them who have very rotten hearts: but this meat they have, which
others know not of; this refreshment in the banqueting house, wherein
others have no share; - in the multitude of their thoughts, the
comforts of God their Father refresh their souls.
    Now, then (to draw towards a close of this discourse), if these
things be so, "what manner of men ought we to be, in all manner of holy
conversation?" Even "our God is a consuming fire." What communion is
there between light and darkness? Shall sin and lust dwell in those
thoughts which receive in and carry out love from and unto the Father?
Holiness becometh his presence for ever. An unclean spirit cannot draw
nigh unto him; - an unholy heart can make no abode with him. A lewd
person will not desire to hold fellowship with a sober man; and will a
man of vain and foolish imaginations hold communion and dwell with the
most holy God? There is not any consideration of this love but is a
powerful motive unto holiness, and leads thereunto. Ephraim says, "What
have I to do any more with idols?" when in God he finds salvation.
Communion with the Father is wholly inconsistent with loose walking.
"If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we
lie, and do not the truth," 1 John 1: 6. "He that saith, I know him" (I
have communion with him), "and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar,
and the truth is not in him," chap. 2: 4. The most specious and
glorious pretence made to an acquaintance with the Father, without
holiness and obedience to his commandments, serves only to prove the
pretenders to be liars. The love of the world and of the Father dwell
not together.
    And if this be so (to shut up all), how many that go under the
name of Christians, come short of the truth of it! How unacquainted are
the generality of professors with the mystery of this communion, and
the fruits of it! Do not many very evidently hold communion with their
lusts and with the world, and yet would be thought to have a portion
and inheritance among them that are sanctified? They have neither new
name nor white stone, and yet would be called the people of the Most
High. May it not be said of many of them, rather, that God is not in
all their thoughts, than that they have communion with him? The Lord
open the eyes of men, that they may see and know that walking with God
is a matter not of form, but power! And so far of peculiar communion
with the Father, in the instance of love which we have insisted on. "He
is also faithful who has called us to the fellowship of his Son Jesus
Christ our Lord;" of which in the next place.







Part 2. Of Communion with the Son Jesus Christ




Chapter 1. Of the fellowship which the saints have with Jesus Christ
     the Son of God - That they have such a fellowship proved, 1 Cor.
     1: 9; Rev. 3: 20; Cant. 2: 1-7 opened; also Prov. 9: 1-5.
    
    Of that distinct communion which we have with the person of the
Father we have treated in the foregoing chapters; we now proceed to the
consideration of that which we have with his Son, Jesus Christ our
Lord. Now the fellowship we have with the second person, is with him as
Mediator, - in that office whereunto, by dispensation, he submitted
himself for our sakes; being "made of a woman, made under the law, to
redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption
of sons," Gal. 4: 4, 5. And herein I shall do these two things: - I.
Declare that we have such fellowship with the Son of God. 2: Show
wherein that fellowship or communion does consist: -
    I. For the first, I shall only produce some few places of
Scripture to confirm it, that it is so: - 1 Cor. 1: 9, "God is
faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus
Christ our Lord." This is that whereunto all the saints are called, and
wherein, by the faithfulness of God, they shall be preserved, even
fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord. We are called of God the Father,
as the Father, in pursuit of his love, to communion with the Son, as
our Lord.
    Rev. 3: 20, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man
hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup
with him, and he with me." Certainly this is fellowship, or I know not
what is. Christ will sup with believers: he refreshes himself with his
own graces in them, by his Spirit bestowed on them. The Lord Christ is
exceedingly delighted in tasting of the sweet fruits of the Spirit in
the saints. Hence is that prayer of the spouse that she may have
something for his entertainment when he comes to her, Cant. 4: 16,
"Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that
the spices thereof may flow out. Let my Beloved come into his garden,
and eat his pleasant fruits." The souls of the saints are the garden of
Jesus Christ, the good ground, Heb. 6: 7; - a garden for delight; he
rejoices in them; "his delights are with the sons of men," Prov. 8: 31;
and he "rejoices over them," Zeph. 3: 17; - and a garden for fruit,
yea, pleasant fruit; so he describes it, Cant. 4: 12-14, "A garden
inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits;
camphire, with spikenard, spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon,
with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all chief
spices." Whatever is sweet and delicious for taste, whatever savoury
and odoriferous, whatever is useful and medicinal, is in this garden.
There is all manner of spiritual refreshments, of all kinds whatever,
in the souls of the saints, for the Lord Jesus. On this account is the
spouse so earnest in the prayer mentioned for an increase of these
things, that her Beloved may sup with her, as he has promised. "Awake,
O north wind," etc.; - "O that the breathing and workings of the Spirit
of all grace might stir up all his gifts and graces in me, that the
Lord Jesus, the beloved of my soul, may have meet and acceptable
entertainment from me." God complains of want of fruit in his vineyard,
Isa. 5: 2; Hos. 10: 1. Want of good food for Christ's entertainment is
that the spouse feared, and labours to prevent. A barren heart is not
fit to receive him. And the delight he takes in the fruit of the Spirit
is unspeakable. This he expresses at large, Cant. 5: 1, "I am come,"
saith he; "I have eaten, I am refreshed." He calls it "periy megadim",
"The fruit of his sweetnesses;" or most pleasant to him. Moreover, as
Christ sups with his saints, so he has promised they shall sup with
him, to complete that fellowship they have with him. Christ provides
for their entertainment in a most eminent manner. There are beasts
killed, and wine is mingled, and a table furnished, Prov. 9: 2. He
calls the spiritual dainties that he has for them a "feast," a
"wedding," "a feast of fat things, wine on the lees," etc. The fatted
calf is killed for their entertainment. Such is the communion, and such
is the mutual entertainment of Christ and his saints in that communion.
    Cant. 2: 1-7, "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the
valleys. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved among
the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit
was sweet to my taste," etc.
    In the two first verses you have the description that Christ
gives, first of himself, then of his church. Of himself, verse l; that
is, what he is to his spouse: "I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of
the valleys." The Lords Christ is, in the Scripture, compared to all
things of eminency in the whole creation. He is in the heavens the sun,
and the bright morning star: as the lion among the beasts, the lion of
the tribe of Judah. Among the flowers of the field, here he is the rose
and the lily. The two eminencies of flowers, sweetness of savour and
beauty of colour, are divided between these. The rose for sweetness,
and the lily for beauty ("Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like
one of these"), have the pre-eminence. Farther, he is "the rose of
Sharon," a fruitful plain, where the choicest herds were fed, 1 Chron.
27: 29; so eminent, that it is promised to the church that there shall
be given unto her the excellency of Sharon, Isa. 35: 2. This fruitful
place, doubtless, brought forth the most precious roses. Christ, in the
savour of his love, and in his righteousness (which is as the garment
wherein Jacob received his blessing, giving forth a smell as the smell
of a pleasant field, Gen. 27: 27), is as this excellent rose, to draw
and allure the hearts of his saints unto him. As God smelled a sweet
savour from the blood of his atonement, Eph. 5: 2; so from the graces
wherewith for them he is anointed, his saints receive a refreshing,
cherishing savour, Cant. 1: 3. A sweet savour expresses that which is
acceptable and delightful, Gen. 8: 21. He is also "the lily of the
valleys;" that of all flowers is the most eminent in beauty, Matt. 6:
29. Most desirable is he, for the comeliness and perfection of his
person; incomparably fairer than the children of men: of which
afterward. He, then, being thus unto them (abundantly satiating all
their spiritual senses) their refreshment, their ornament, their
delight, their glory; in the next verse he tells us what they are to
him: "As the lily among thorns, so is my beloved among the daughters."
That Christ and his church are likened unto and termed the same thing
(as here the lily), is, as from their union by the indwelling of the
same Spirit, so from that conformity and likeness that is between them,
and whereunto the saints are appointed. Now she is a lily, very
beautiful unto Christ; "as the lily among thorns:" - 1. By the way of
eminency; as the lily excelleth the thorns, so do the saints all others
whatever, in the eye of Christ. Let comparison be made, so will it be
found to be. And, - 2. By the way of trial; the residue of the world
being "pricking briers and grieving thorns to the house of Israel,"
Ezek. 28: 94. "The best of them is as a brier, the most upright is
sharper than a thorn hedge," Mic. 7: 4. And thus are they among the
daughters, - even the most eminent collections of the most improved
professors, that are no more but so. There cannot be in any greater
comparison, a greater exaltation of the excellency of any thing. So,
then, is Christ to them indeed, verse l; so are they in his esteem, and
indeed, verse 2. How he is in their esteem and indeed, we have, verse
3.
    "As the apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my Beloved
among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his
fruit was sweet to my taste." To carry on this intercourse, the spouse
begins to speak her thoughts of, and to show her delight in, the Lord
Christ; and as he compares her to the lily among the thorns, so she him
to the apple-tree among the trees of the wood. And she adds this reason
of it, even because he has the two eminent things of trees, which the
residue of them have not: - 1. Fruit for food; 2. Shade for
refreshment. Of the one she eateth, under the other she resteth; both
with great delight. All other sons, either angels, the sons of God by
creation, Job 1: 6, 38: 7, or the sons of Adam, - the best of his
offspring, the leaders of those companies which, verse 2, are called
daughters, or sons of the old creation, the top branches of all its
desirable things, - are to an hungry, weary soul (such alone seek for
shade and fruit) but as the fruitless, leafless trees of the forest,
which will yield them neither food nor refreshment. "In Christ," saith
she, " there is fruit, fruit sweet to the taste; yea, 'his flesh is
meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed,'" John 6: 55. " Moreover,
he has brought forth that everlasting righteousness which will
abundantly satisfy any hungry soul, after it has gone to many a barren
tree for food, and has found none. Besides, he aboundeth in precious
and pleasant graces, whereof I may eat; yea, he calls me to do so, and
that abundantly." These are the fruits that Christ beareth. They speak
of a tree that bringeth forth all things needful for life, in food and
raiment. Christ is that tree of life, which has brought forth all
things that are needful unto life eternal. In him is that righteousness
which we hunger after; - in him is that water of life, which whoso
drinketh of shall thirst no more. Oh, how sweet are the fruits of
Christ's mediation to the faith of his saints! He that can find no
relief in mercy, pardon, grace, acceptation with God, holiness,
sanctification, etc., is an utter stranger to these things (wine on the
lees) that are prepared for believers. Also, he has shades for
refreshment and shelter; - shelter from wrath without, and refreshment
because of weariness from within. The first use of the shade is to keep
us from the heat of the sun, as did Jonah's gourd. When the heat of
wrath is ready to scorch the soul, Christ, interposing, bears it all.
Under the shadow of his wings we sit down constantly, quietly, safely,
putting our trust in him; and all this with great delight. Yea, who can
express the joy of a soul safe shadowed from wrath under the covert of
the righteousness of the Lord Jesus! There is also refreshment in a
shade from weariness. He is "as the shadow of a great rock in a weary
land," Isa. 32: 2. From the power of corruptions, trouble of
temptations, distress of persecutions, there is in him quiet, rest, and
repose, Matt. 11: 27, 28.
    Having thus mutually described each other, and so made it manifest
that they cannot but be delighted in fellowship and communion, in the
next verses that communion of theirs is at large set forth and
described. I shall briefly observe four things therein: - (1.)
Sweetness. (2.) Delight. (3.) Safety. (4.) Comfort.
    (1.) Sweetness: "He brought me to the banqueting-house," or "house
of wine." It is all set forth under expressions of the greatest
sweetness and most delicious refreshment, - flagons, apples, wine, etc.
"HE entertains me," saith the spouse, "as some great personage." Great
personages, at great entertainments, are had into the banqueting-house,
- the house of wine and dainties. These are the preparations of grace
and mercy, - love, kindness, supplies revealed in the gospel, declared
in the assemblies of the saints, exhibited by the Spirit. This "love is
better than wine," Cant. 1: 2; it is "not meat and drink, but
righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." Gospel dainties
are sweet refreshments; whether these houses of wine be the Scriptures,
the gospel, or the ordinances dispensed in the assemblies of the
saints, or any eminent and signal manifestations of special love (as
banqueting is not every day's work, nor used at ordinary
entertainments), it is all one. Wine, that cheereth the heart of man,
that makes him forget his misery, Prov. 31: 6, 7, that gives him a
cheerful look and countenance, Gen. 49: 12, is it at which is promised.
The grace exhibited by Christ in his ordinances is refreshing,
strengthening, comforting, and full of sweetness to the souls of the
saints. Woe be to such full souls as loathe these honey-combs! But thus
Christ makes all his assemblies to love banqueting-houses; and there he
gives his saints entertainment.
    (7.) Delight. The spouse is quite ravished with the sweetness of
this entertainment, finding love, and care, and kindness, bestowed by
Christ in the assemblies of the saints. Hence she cries out, verse 5,
"Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples; for I am sick of love."
Upon the discovery of the excellency and sweetness of Christ in the
banqueting-house, the soul is instantly overpowered, and cries out to
be made partaker of the fulness of it. She is "sick of love:" not (as
some suppose) fainting for want of a sense of love, under the
apprehension of wrath; but made sick and faint, even overcome, with the
mighty acting of that divine affection, after she had once tasted of
the sweetness of Christ in the banqueting-house. Her desire deferred,
makes her heart sick; therefore she cries, "Stay me," etc.; - "I have
seen a glimpse of the 'King in his beauty,' - tasted of the fruit of
his righteousness; my soul melteth in longing after him. Oh! support
and sustain my spirit with his presence in his ordinances, - those
'flagons and apples of his banqueting-house,' - or I shall quite sink
and faint! Oh, what hast thou done, blessed Jesus! I have seen thee,
and my soul is become as the chariots of Ammi-nadib. Let me have
something from thee to support me, or I die." When a person is fainting
on any occasion, these two things are to be done: - strength is to be
used to support him, that he sink not to the ground; and comfortable
things are to be applied, to refresh his spirits. These two the soul,
overpowered and fainting with the force of its own love, (raised by a
sense of Christ's,) prayeth for. It would have strengthening grace to
support it in that condition, that it may be able to attend its duty;
and consolations of the Holy Ghost, to content, revive, and satiate it,
until it come to a full enjoyment of Christ. And thus sweetly and with
delight is this communion carried on.
    (3.) Safety: "His banner over me was love," verse 4. The banner is
an emblem of safety and protection, - a sign of the presence of an
host. Persons belonging to an army do encamp under their banner in
security. So did the children of Israel in the wilderness; every tribe
kept their camps under their own standard. It is also a token of
success and victory, Ps. 20: 5. Christ has a banner for his saints; and
that is love. All their protection is from his love; and they shall
have all the protection his love can give them. This safeguards them
from hell, death, - all their enemies. Whatever presses on them, it
must pass through the banner of the love of the Lord Jesus. They have,
then, great spiritual safety; which is another ornament or excellency
of their communion with him.
    (4.) Supportment and consolation, verse 6, "His left hand is under
my head, and his right hand does embrace me." Christ here has the
posture of a most tender friend towards any one in sickness and
sadness. The soul faints with love, - spiritual longings after the
enjoyment of his presence; and Christ comes in with his embraces. He
nourisheth and cherisheth his church, Eph. 5: 29; Isa. 63: 9. Now, "the
hand under the head," is supportment, sustaining grace, in pressures
and difficulties; and "the hand that does embrace," the hand upon the
heart, is joy and consolation; - in both, Christ rejoicing, as the
"bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride," Isa. 62: 5. Now, thus to lie in
the arms of Christ's love, under a perpetual influence of supportment
and refreshment, is certainly to hold communion with him. And hereupon,
verse 7, the spouse is most earnest for the continuance of his
fellowship, charging all so to demean themselves, that her Beloved be
not disquieted, or provoked to depart.
    In brief, this whole book is taken up in the description of the
communion that is between the Lord Christ and his saints; and
therefore, it is very needless to take from thence any more particular
instances thereof
    I shall only add that of Prov. 9: 1-5, "Wisdom has builded her
house, she has hewn out her seven pillars; she has killed her beasts;
she has mingled her wine; she has also furnished her table. She has
sent forth her maidens: she crieth upon the highest places of the city,
Whose is simple, let him turn in hither: as for him that wanteth
understanding, she saith to him, Come, eat of my bread, and drink of
the wine which I have mingled."
    The Lord Christ, the eternal Wisdom of the Father, and who of God
is made unto us wisdom, erects a spiritual house, wherein he makes
provision for the entertainment of those guests whom he so freely
invites. His church is the house which he has built on a perfect number
of pillars, that it might have a stable foundation: his slain beasts
and mingled wine, wherewith his table is furnished, are those spiritual
fat things of the gospel, which he has prepared for those that come in
upon his invitation. Surely, to eat of this bread, and drink of this
wine, which he has so graciously prepared, is to hold fellowship with
him; for in what ways or things is there nearer communion than in such?
    I might farther evince this truth, by a consideration of all the
relations wherein Christ and his saints do stand; which necessarily
require that there be a communion between them, if we do suppose they
are faithful in those relations: but this is commonly treated on, and
something will be spoken to it in one signal instance afterward.





Chapter 2. What it is wherein we have peculiar fellowship with the Lord
     Christ - This is in grace - This proved, John 1: 14,16,17; 2 Cor.
     13: 14; 2 Thess. 3: 17, 18 - Grace of various acceptations -
     Personal grace in Christ proposed to consideration - The grace of
     Christ as Mediator intended, Ps. 45: 2 - Cant. 5: 10, Christ, how
     white and ruddy - His fitness to save, from the grace of union -
     His fulness to save - His suitableness to endear - These
     considerations improved.
    
    II. Having manifested that the saints hold peculiar fellowship
with the Lord Jesus, it neatly follows that we show wherein it is that
they have this peculiar communion with him.
    Now, this is in GRACE. This is everywhere ascribed to him by the
way of eminency. John 1: 14, "He dwelt among us, full of grace and
truth;" grace in the truth and substance of it. All that went before
was but typical and in representation; in the truth and substance it
comes only by Christ. "Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ," verse 17;
"and of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace," verse
l6; - that is, we have communion with him in grace; we receive from him
all manner of grace whatever; and therein have we fellowship with him.
    So likewise in that apostolical benediction, wherein the
communication of spiritual blessings from the several persons unto the
saints is so exactly distinguished; it is grace that is ascribed to our
Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. 13: 14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you
all."
    Yea, Paul is so delighted with this, that he makes it his motto,
and the token whereby he would have his epistles known, 2 Thess. 3: 17,
18, "The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in
every epistle: so I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with
you all." Yea, he makes these two, "Grace be with you," and, "The Lord
Jesus be with you," to be equivalent expressions; for whereas he
affirmed the one to be the token in all his epistles, yet sometimes he
useth the one only, sometimes the other of these, and sometimes puts
them both together. This, then, is that which we are peculiarly to eye
in the Lord Jesus, to receive it from him, even grace, gospel-grace,
revealed in or exhibited by the gospel. He is the head-stone in the
building of the temple of God, to whom "Grace, grace," is to be cried,
Zech. 4: 7.
    Grace is a word of various acceptations. In its most eminent
significations it may be referred unto one of these three heads: -
    1. Grace of personal presence and comeliness. So we say, "A
graceful and comely person," either from himself or his ornaments. This
in Christ (upon the matter) is the subject of near one-half of the book
of Canticles; it is also mentioned, Ps. 45: 2, "Thou art fairer than
the children of men; grace is poured into thy lips." And unto this
first head, in respect of Christ, do I refer also that acceptation of
grace which, in respect of us, I fix in the third place. Those
inconceivable gifts and fruits of the Spirit which were bestowed on
him, and brought forth in him, concur to his personal excellency; as
will afterward appear.
    2. Grace of free favour and acceptance. "By this grace we are
saved;" that is, the free favour and gracious acceptation of God in
Christ. In this sense is it used in that frequent expression, "If I
have found grace in thy sight;" that is, if I be freely and favourably
accepted before thee. So he "giveth grace" (that is, favour) "unto the
humble," James 4: 6; Gen. 39: 21, 41: 37; Acts 7: 10; 1 Sam. 2: 26; 2
Kings 25: 27, etc.
    3. The fruits of the Spirit, sanctifying and renewing our natures,
enabling unto good, and preventing from evil, are so termed. Thus the
Lord tells Paul, "his grace was sufficient for him;" that is, the
assistance against temptation which he afforded him, Col. 3: 16; 2 Cor.
8: 6, 7; Heb. 12: 28.
    These two latter, as relating unto Christ in respect of us who
receive them, I call purchased grace, being indeed purchased by him for
us; and our communion with him therein is termed a "fellowship in his
sufferings, and the power of his resurrection," Phil. 3: 10.
    1. Let us begin with the first, which I call personal grace; and
concerning that do these two things: - (1.) Show what it is, and
wherein it consisteth; I mean the personal grace of Christ. And, - (2.)
Declare how the saints hold immediate communion with him therein.
    (1.) To the handling of the first, I shall only premise this
observation: - It is Christ as mediator of whom we speak; and
therefore, by the "grace of his person," I understand not, -
    [1.] The glorious excellencies of his Deity considered in itself,
abstracting from the office which for us, as God and man, he undertook.
    [2.] Nor the outward appearance of his human nature, neither when
he conversed here on earth, bearing our infirmities (whereof, by reason
of the charge that was laid upon him, the prophet gives quite another
character, Isa. 52: 14), concerning which some of the ancients were
very poetical in their expressions; nor yet as now exalted in glory; -
a vain imagination whereof makes many bear a false, a corrupted respect
unto Christ, even upon carnal apprehensions of the mighty exaltation of
the human nature; which is but "to know Christ after the flesh," 2 Cor.
5: 16, a mischief much improved by the abomination of foolish imagery.
But this is that which I intend, - the graces of the person of Christ
as he is vested with the office of mediation, this spiritual eminency,
comeliness, and beauty, as appointed and anointed by the Father unto
the great work of bringing home all his elect unto his bosom.
    Now, in this respect the Scripture describes him as exceeding
excellent, comely, and desirable, - far above comparison with the
chiefest, choicest created good, or any endearment imaginable.
    Ps. 45: 2, "Thou art fairer than the children of men: grace is
poured into thy lips" He is, beyond comparison, more beautiful and
gracious than any here below, "yafyafita"; the word is doubled, to
increase its significance, and to exalt its subject beyond all
comparison. "shofaracha malka Meshicha 'adif nivney nasha", says the
Chaldee paraphrase: "Thy fairness, O king Messiah, is more excellent
than the sons of men." "Pulcher admodum prae filiis hominum;" -
exceeding desirable. Inward beauty and glory is here expressed by that
of outward shape, form, and appearance; because that was so much
esteemed in those who were to rule or govern. Isa. 4: 2, the prophet,
terming of him "The branch of the Lord," and "The fruit of the earth,"
affirms that he shall be "beautiful and glorious, excellent and
comely;" "for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,"
Col. 2: 9.
    Cant. 5: 9, the spouse is inquired of as to this very thing, even
concerning the personal excellencies of the Lord Christ, her beloved:
"What is thy Beloved" (say the daughters of Jerusalem) "more than
another beloved, O thou fairest among women? what is thy Beloved more
than another beloved?" and she returns this answer, verse 10, "My
Beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand;" and so
proceedeth to a particular description of him by his excellencies to
the end of the chapter, and there concludeth that "he is altogether
lovely," verse 16; whereof at large afterward. Particularly, he is here
affirmed to be "white and ruddy;" a due mixture of which colours
composes the most beautiful complexion.
    1st. He is white in the glory of his Deity, and ruddy in the
preciousness of his humanity. "His teeth are white with milk, and his
eyes are red with wine," Gen. 49: 12. Whiteness (if I may so say) is
the complexion of glory. In that appearance of the Most High, the
"Ancient of days," Dan. 7: 9, it is said, "His garment was white as
snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool;" - and of Christ in
his transfiguration, when he had on him a mighty lustre of the Deity,
"His face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the
light," Matt. 17: 2; which, in the phrase of another evangelist, is,
"White as snow, so as no fuller on earth can white them," Mark 9: 3. It
was a divine, heavenly, surpassing glory that was upon him, Rev. 1: 14.
Hence the angels and glorified saints, that always behold him, and are
fully translated into the image of the same glory, are still said to be
in white robes. His whiteness is his Deity, and the glory thereof. And
on this account the Chaldee paraphrase ascribes this whole passage unto
God. "They say," saith he, "to the house of Israel, 'Who is the God
whom thou wilt serve?'" etc. Then began the congregation of Israel to
declare the praises of the Ruler of the world, and said, 'I will serve
that God who is clothed in a garment white as snow, the splendour of
the glory of whose countenance is as fire." He is also ruddy in the
beauty of his humanity. Man was called Adam, from the red earth whereof
he was made. The word here used points him out as the second Adam,
partaker of flesh and blood, because the children also partook of the
same, Heb. 2: 14. The beauty and comeliness of the Lord Jesus in the
union of both these in one person, shall afterward be declared.
    2dly. He is white in the beauty of his innocence and holiness, and
ruddy in the blood of his oblation. Whiteness is the badge of innocence
and holiness. It is said of the Nazarites, for their typical holiness,
"They were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk," Lam. 4: 7. And
the prophet shows us that scarlet, red, and crimson, are the colours of
sin and guilt; whiteness of innocence, Isa. 1: 18. Our Beloved was "a
Lamb without blemish and without spot," 1 Pet. 1: 19. "He did no sin,
neither was guile found in his mouth," 1 Pet. 2: 22. He was "holy,
harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," Heb. 7: 26; as afterward
will appear. And yet he who was so white in his innocence, was made
ruddy in his own blood; and that two ways: - Naturally, in the pouring
out of his blood, his precious blood, in that agony of his soul when
thick drops of blood trickled to the ground, Luke 22: 44; as also when
the whips and thorns, nails and spears, poured it out abundantly:
"There came forth blood and water," John 19: 34. He was ruddy by being
drenched all over in his own blood. And morally, by the imputation of
sin, whose colour is red and crimson. "God made him to be sin for us,
who knew no sin," 2 Cor. 5: 21. He who was white, became ruddy for our
sakes, pouring out his blood an oblation for sin. This also renders him
graceful: by his whiteness he fulfilled the law; by his redness he
satisfied justice. "This is our Beloved, O ye daughters of Jerusalem."
    3dly. His endearing excellency in the administration of his
kingdom is hereby also expressed. He is white in love and mercy unto
his own; red with justice and revenge towards his enemies, Isa. 63: 3;
Rev. 19: 13.
    There are three things in general wherein this personal excellency
and grace of the Lord Christ does consist: - (1st.) His fitness to
save, from the grace of union, and the proper necessary effects thereof
(2dly.) His fulness to save, from the grace of communion; or the free
consequences of the grace of union. (3dly.) His excellency to endear,
from his complete suitableness to all the wants of the souls of men: -
    (1st.) His fitness to save, - his being "hikanos", a fit Saviour,
suited to the work; and this, I say, is from his grace of union. The
uniting of the natures of God and man in one person made him fit to be
a Saviour to the uttermost. He lays his hand upon God, by partaking of
his nature, Zech. 13: 7; and he lays his hand upon us, by being
partaker of our nature, Heb. 2: 14, 16: and so becomes a days-man, or
umpire between both. By this means he fills up all the distance that
was made by sin between God and us; and we who were far off are made
nigh in him. Upon this account it was that he had room enough in his
breast to receive, and power enough in his spirit to bear, all the
wrath that was prepared for us. Sin was infinite only in respect of the
object; and punishment was infinite in respect of the subject. This
ariseth from his union.
    Union is the conjunction of the two natures of God and man in one
person, John 1: 14; Isa. 9: 6; Rom. 1: 3, 9: 5. The necessary
consequences whereof are, -
    [1st.] The subsistence of the human nature in the person of the
Son of God, having no subsistence of its own, Luke 1: 35; 1 Tim. 3: 16.
    [2dly.] "Koinonia idiomaton", that communication of attributes in
the person, whereby the properties of either nature are promiscuously
spoken of the person of Christ, under what name soever, of God or man,
he be spoken of, Acts 20: 28, 3: 21.
    [3dly.] The execution of his office of mediation in his single
person, in respect of both natures: wherein is considerable, "ho
energon", - the agent, Christ himself, God and man. He is the
principium quo, "energetikon", - the principle that gives life and
efficacy to the whole work; and then, 2dly, The principium quod, - that
which operates, which is both natures distinctly considered. 3dly. The
"energeia", or "draskike tes fuseos kinesis", - the effectual working
itself of each nature. And, lastly, the "energema", or "apotelesma', -
the effect produced, which ariseth from all, and relates to them all:
so resolving the excellency I speak of into his personal union.
    (2dly.) His fulness to save, from the grace of communion or the
effects of his union, which are free; and consequences of it, which is
all the furniture that he received from the Father by the unction of
the Spirit, for the work of our salvation: "He is able also to save
them to the uttermost that come unto God by him," Heb. 7: 25; having
all fulness unto this end communicated unto him: "for it pleased the
Father that in him should all fulness dwell," Col. 1:19; and he
received not "the Spirit by measure," John 3: 34. And from this fulness
he makes out a suitable supply unto all that are his; "grace for
grace," John 1: 16. Had it been given to him by measure, we had
exhausted it.
    (3dly.) His excellency to endear, from his complete suitableness
to all the wants of the souls of men. There is no man whatever, that
has any want in reference unto the things of God, but Christ will be
unto him that which he wants: I speak of those who are given him of his
Father. Is he dead? Christ is life. Is he weak? Christ is the power of
God, and the wisdom of God. Has he the sense of guilt upon him? Christ
is complete righteousness, - "The Lord our Righteousness." Many poor
creatures are sensible of their wants, but know not where their remedy
lies. Indeed, whether it be life or light, power or joy, all is wrapped
up in him.
    This, then, for the present, may suffice in general to be spoken
of the personal grace of the Lord Christ: - He has a fitness to save,
having pity and ability, tenderness and power, to carry on that work to
the uttermost; and a fulness to save, of redemption and sanctification,
of righteousness and the Spirit; and a suitableness to the wants of all
our souls: whereby he becomes exceedingly desirable, yea, altogether
lovely; as afterward will appear in particular. And as to this, in the
first place, the saints have distinct fellowship with the Lord Christ;
the manner whereof shall be declared in the ensuing chapter.
    Only, from this entrance that has been made into the description
of him with whom the saints have communion, some motives might be taken
to stir us up whereunto; as also considerations to lay open the
nakedness and insufficiency of all other ways and things unto which men
engage their thoughts and desires, something may be now proposed. The
daughters of Jerusalem, ordinary, common professors, having heard the
spouse describing her Beloved, Cant. 5: 10-16, etc., instantly are
stirred up to seek him together with her; chap. 6: 1, "Whither is thy
Beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee." What Paul says
of them that crucified him, may be spoken of all that reject him, or
refuse communion with him: "Had they known him, they would not have
crucified the Lord of glory;" - Did men know him, were they acquainted
in any measure with him, they would not so reject the Lord of glory.
Himself calls them "simple ones," "fools," and "scorners," that despise
his gracious invitation, Prov. 1: 22. There are none who despise
Christ, but only they that know him not; whose eyes the god of this
world has blinded, that they should not behold his glory. The souls of
men do naturally seek something to rest and repose themselves upon, -
something to satiate and delight themselves withal, with which they
[may] hold communion; and there are two ways whereby men proceed in the
pursuit of what they so aim at. Some set before them some certain end,
- perhaps pleasure, profit, or, in religion itself, acceptance with
God; others seek after some end, but without any certainty, pleasing
themselves now with one path, now with another, with various thoughts
and ways, like them, Isa. 57: 10 - because something comes in by the
life of the hand, they give not over though weary. In what condition
soever you may be (either in greediness pursuing some certain end, be
it secular or religious; or wandering away in your own imaginations,
wearying yourselves in the largeness of your ways), compare a little
what you aim at, or what you do, with what you have already heard of
Jesus Christ: if any thing you design be like to him, if any thing you
desire be equal to him, let him be rejected as one that has neither
form nor comeliness in him; but if, indeed, all your ways be but vanity
and vexation of spirit, in comparison of him, why do you spend your
"money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which
satisfieth not?"
    Use. 1. You that are yet in the flower of your days, full of
health and strength, and, with all the vigour of your spirits, do
pursue some one thing, some another, consider, I pray, what are all
your beloveds to this Beloved? What have you gotten by them? Let us see
the peace, quietness, assurance of everlasting blessedness that they
have given you? Their paths are crooked paths, whoever goes in them
shall not know peace. Behold here a fit object for your choicest
affections, - one in whom you may find rest to your souls, - one in
whom there is nothing will grieve and trouble you to eternity. Behold,
he stands at the door of your souls, and knocks: O reject him not, lest
you seek him and find him not! Pray study him a little; you love him
not, because you know him not. Why does one of you spend his time in
idleness and folly, and wasting of precious time, perhaps debauchedly?
Why does another associate and assemble himself with them that scoff at
religion and the things of God? Merely because you know not our dear
Lord Jesus. Oh, when he shall reveal himself to you, and tell you he is
Jesus whom you have slighted and refused, how will it break your
hearts, and make you mourn like a dove, that you have neglected him!
and if you never come to know him, it had been better you had never
been. Whilst it is called Today, then, harden not your hearts.
    Use 2. You that are, perhaps, seeking earnestly after a
righteousness, and are religious persons, consider a little with
yourselves, - has Christ his due place in your hearts? is he your all?
does he dwell in your thoughts? do you know him in his excellency and
desirableness? do you indeed account all things "loss and dung" for his
exceeding excellency? or rather, do you prefer almost any thing in the
world before it? But more of these things afterward.
    
    
    
    
    

Chapter 3. Of the way and manner whereby the saints hold communion with
     the Lord Christ as to personal grace - The conjugal relation
     between Christ and the saints, Cant. 2: 16 щ Isa. 54: 5, etc.;
     Cant. 3: 11, opened - The way of communion in conjugal relation,
     Hos. 3: 3; Cant. 1: 15 - On the part of Christ - On the part of
     the saints.
    
    (2.) The next thing that comes under consideration is, the way
whereby we hold communion with the Lord Christ, in respect of that
personal grace whereof we have spoken. Now, this the Scripture
manifests to be by the way of a conjugal relation. He is married unto
us, and we unto him; which spiritual relation is attended with suitable
conjugal affections. And this gives us fellowship with him as to his
personal excellencies.
    This the spouse expresseth, Cant. 2: 16, "My Beloved is mine, and
I am his;" - "He is mine, I possess him, I have interest in him, as my
head and my husband; and I am his, possessed of him, owned by him,
given up unto him: and that as to my Beloved in a conjugal relation."
    So Isa. 54: 5, "Thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is
his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole
earth shall he be called." This is yielded as the reason why the church
shall not be ashamed nor confounded, in the midst of her troubles and
trials, - she is married unto her Maker, and her Redeemer is her
husband. And Isaiah, chap. 61: 10, setting out the mutual glory of
Christ and his church in their walking together, he saith it is "as a
bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth
herself with jewels." Such is their condition, because such is their
relation; which he also farther expresseth, chap. 62: 5, "As the
bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over
thee." As it is with such persons in the day of their espousals, in the
day of the gladness of their hearts, so is it with Christ and his
saints in this relation. He is a husband to them, providing that it may
be with them according to the state and condition whereinto he has
taken them.
    To this purpose we have his faithful engagement, Hos. 2: 19, 20,
"I will," saith he, "betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth
thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgement, and in loving-
kindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in
faithfulness." And it is the main design of the ministry of the gospel,
to prevail with men to give up themselves unto the Lord Christ, as he
reveals his kindness in this engagement. Hence Paul tells the
Corinthians, 2 Cor. 11: 2, that he had "espoused them unto one husband,
that he might present them as a chaste virgin unto Christ." This he had
prevailed upon them for, by the preaching of the gospel, that they
should give up themselves as a virgin, unto him who had betrothed them
to himself as a husband.
    And this is a relation wherein the Lord Jesus is exceedingly
delighted, and inviteth others to behold him in this his glory, Cant.
3: it, "Go forth," saith he, "O ye daughters of Jerusalem, and behold
king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day
of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart." He
calls forth the daughters of Jerusalem (all sorts of professors) to
consider him in the condition of betrothing and espousing his church
unto himself. Moreover, he tells them that they shall find on him two
things eminently upon this account: - 1. Honour. It is the day of his
coronation, and his spouse is the crown wherewith he is crowned. For as
Christ is a diadem of beauty and a crown of glory unto Zion, Isa. 28:
5; so Zion also is a diadem and a crown unto him, Isa. 62: 3. Christ
makes this relation with his saints to be his glory and his honour. 2.
Delight. The day of his espousals, of taking poor sinful souls into his
bosom, is the day of the gladness of his heart. John was but the friend
of the Bridegroom, that stood and heard his voice, when he was taking
his bride unto himself; and he rejoiced greatly, John 3: 29: how much
more, then, must be the joy and gladness of the Bridegroom himself!
even that which is expressed, Zeph. 3: 17, "he rejoiceth with joy, he
joys with singing."
    It is the gladness of the heart of Christ, the joy of his soul, to
take poor sinners into this relation with himself. He rejoiced in the
thoughts of it from eternity, Prov. 8: 31; and always expresseth the
greatest willingness to undergo the hard task required thereunto, Ps.
40: 7, 8; Heb. 10: 7; yea, he was pained as a woman in travail, until
he had accomplished it, Luke 12: 50. Because he loved his church, he
gave himself for it, Eph. 5: 25, despising the shame, and enduring the
cross, Heb. 12: 2, that he might enjoy his bride, - that he might be
for her, and she for him, and not for another, Hos. 3: 3. This is joy,
when he is thus crowned by his mother. It is believers that are mother
and brother of this Solomon, Matt. 12: 49, 50. They crown him in the
day of his espousals, giving themselves to him, and becoming his glory,
2 Cor. 8: 23.
    Thus he sets out his whole communion with his church under this
allusion, and that most frequently. The time of his taking the church
unto himself is the day of his marriage; and the church is his bride,
his wife, Rev. 19: 7, 8. The entertainment he makes for his saints is a
wedding supper, Matt. 22: 3. The graces of his church are the ornaments
of his queen, Ps. 45: 9-14; and the fellowship he has with his saints
is as that which those who are mutually beloved in a conjugal relation
do hold, Cant. 1. Hence Paul, in describing these two, makes sudden and
insensible transitions from one to the other, - Eph. 5, from verse 22
unto verse 32; concluding the whole with an application unto Christ and
the church.
    It is now to be inquired, in the next place, how it is that we
hold communion with the person of Christ in respect of conjugal
relations and affections, and wherein this does consist. Now, herein
there are some things that are common unto Christ and the saints, and
some things that are peculiar to each of them, as the nature of this
relation does require. The whole may be reduced unto these two heads: -
[1.] A mutual resignation of themselves one to the other; [2.] Mutual,
consequential, conjugal affections.
    [1.] There is a mutual resignation, or making over of their
persons one to another. This is the first act of communion, as to the
personal grace of Christ. Christ makes himself over to the soul, to be
his, as to all the love, care, and tenderness of a husband; and the
soul gives up itself wholly unto the Lord Christ, to be his, as to all
loving, tender obedience. And herein is the main of Christ's and the
saints' espousals. This, in the prophet, is set out under a parable of
himself and a harlot, Hos. 3: 3, "Thou shalt abide for me," saith he
unto her, "thou shalt not be for another, and I will be for thee." -
"Poor harlot," saith the Lord Christ, "I have bought thee unto myself
with the price of mine own blood; and now, this is that which we will
consent unto, - I WILL BE FOR THEE, AND THOU SHALT BE FOR ME, and not
for another.
    1st. Christ gives himself to the soul, with all his excellencies,
righteousness, preciousness, graces, and eminencies, to be its Saviour,
head, and husband, for ever to dwell with it in this holy relation. He
looks upon the souls of his saints, likes them well, counts them fair
and beautiful, because he has made them so. Cant. 1: 15, "Behold, thou
art fair, my companion; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes."
Let others think what they please, Christ redoubles it, that the souls
of his saints are very beautiful, even perfect, through his comeliness,
which he puts upon them, Ezek. 16: 14, - "Behold, thou art fair, thou
art fair:" particularly, that their spiritual light is very excellent
and glorious; like the eyes of a dove, tender, discerning, clear, and
shining. Therefore he adds that pathetical wish of the enjoyment of
this his spouse, Cant. 2: 14, "O my dove," saith he, "that art in the
clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy
countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy
countenance is comely;" - "Do not hide thyself, as one that flies to
the clefts of the rocks; be not dejected, as one that hides herself
behind the stairs, and is afraid to come forth to the company that
inquires for her. Let not thy spirit be cast down at the weakness of
thy supplications, let me yet hear thy sighs and groans, thy breathing
and partings to me; they are very sweet, very delightful: and thy
spiritual countenance, thy appearance in heavenly things, is comely and
delightful unto me." Neither does he leave her thus, but, chap. 4: 8,
presseth her hard to a closer [union] with him in this conjugal bond:
"Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from
the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Herman, from the lions'
dens, from the mountains of the leopards;" - "Thou art in a wandering
condition (as the Israelites of old), among lions and leopards, sins
and troubles; come from thence unto me, and I will give thee
refreshment," Matt. 11: 28. Upon this invitation, the spouse boldly
concludes, Cant. 7: 10, that the desire of Christ is towards her; that
he does indeed love her, and aim at taking her into this fellowship
with himself. So, in carrying on this union, Christ freely bestoweth
himself upon the soul. Precious and excellent as he is, he becometh
ours. He makes himself to be so; and with him, all his graces. Hence
saith the spouse, "'My Beloved is mine;' in all that he is, he is
mine." Because he is righteousness, he is "The LORD our Righteousness,"
Jer. 23: 6. Because he is the wisdom of God, and the power of God, he
is "made unto us wisdom," etc., 1 Cor. 1: 30. Thus, "the branch of the
LORD is beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth is excellent
and comely for them that are escaped of Israel," Isa. 4: 2. This is the
first thing on the part of Christ, - the free donation and bestowing of
himself upon us to be our Christ, our Beloved, as to all the ends and
purposes of love, mercy, grace, and glory; whereunto in his mediation
he is designed, in a marriage covenant never to be broken. This is the
sum of what is intended: - The Lord Jesus Christ, fitted and prepared,
by the accomplishment and furniture of his person as mediator, and the
large purchase of grace and glory which he has made, to be a husband to
his saints, his church, tenders himself in the promises of the gospel
to them in all his desirableness; convinces them of his good-will
towards them, and his all-sufficiency for a supply of their wants; and
upon their consent to accept of him, - which is all he requires or
expects at their hands, - he engageth himself in a marriage covenant to
be theirs for ever.
    2dly. On the part of the saints, it is their free, willing consent
to receive, embrace, and submit unto the Lord Jesus, as their husband,
Lord, and Saviour, - to abide with him, subject their souls unto him,
and to be ruled by him for ever.
    Now, this in the soul is either initial, or the solemn consent at
the first entrance of union; or consequential, in renewed acts of
consent all our days. I speak of it especially in this latter sense,
wherein it is proper unto communion; not in the former, wherein it
primarily intendeth union.
    There are two things that complete this self-resignation of the
soul: -
    (1st.) The liking of Christ, for his excellency, grace, and
suitableness, far above all other beloveds whatever, preferring him in
the judgement and mind above them all. In the place above mentioned,
Cant. 5: 9, the spouse being earnestly pressed, by professors at large,
to give in her thoughts concerning the excellency of her Beloved in
comparison of other endearments, answereth expressly, that he is "the
chiefest of ten thousand, yea," verse 16, "altogether lovely,"
infinitely beyond comparison with the choicest created good or
endearment imaginable. The soul takes a view of all that is in this
world, "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of
life," and sees it all to be vanity, - that "the world passeth away,
and the lust thereof," 1 John 2: 16, 17. These beloveds are no way to
be compared unto him. It views also legal righteousness, blamelessness
before men, uprightness of conversation, duties upon conviction, and
concludes of all as Paul does, Phil. 3: 8, "Doubtless, I count all
these things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus
my Lord." So, also, does the church, Hos. 14: 3, reject all appearing
assistance whatever, - as goodly as Asshur, as promising as idols, -
that God alone may be preferred. And this is the soul's entrance into
conjugal communion with Jesus Christ as to personal grace, - the
constant preferring him above all pretenders to its affections,
counting all loss and dung in comparison of him. Beloved peace, beloved
natural relations, beloved wisdom and learning, beloved righteousness,
beloved duties, [are] all loss, compared with Christ.
    (2dly.) The accepting of Christ by the will, as its only husband,
Lord, and Saviour. This is called "receiving" of Christ, John 1: 12;
and is not intended only for that solemn act whereby at first entrance
we close with him, but also for the constant frame of the soul in
abiding with him and owning of him as such. When the soul consents to
take Christ on his own terms, to save him in his own way, and says,
"Lord, I would have had thee and salvation in my way, that it might
have been partly of mine endeavours, and as it were by the works of the
law; I am now willing to receive thee and to be saved in thy way, -
merely by grace: and though I would have walked according is my own
mind, yet now I wholly give up myself to be ruled by thy Spirit: for in
thee have I righteousness and strength, in thee am I justified and do
glory;" - then does it carry on communion with Christ as to the grace
of his person. This it is to receive the Lord Jesus in his comeliness
and eminency. Let believers exercise their hearts abundantly unto this
thing. This is choice communion with the Son Jesus Christ. Let us
receive him in all his excellencies, as he bestows himself upon us; -
be frequent in thoughts of faith, comparing him with other beloveds,
sin, world, legal righteousness; and preferring him before them,
counting them all loss and dung in comparison of him. And let our souls
be persuaded of his sincerity and willingness in giving himself, in all
that he is, as mediator unto us, to be ours; and let our hearts give up
themselves unto him. Let us tell him that we will be for him, and not
for another: let him know it from us; he delights to hear it, yea, he
says, "Sweet is our voice, and our countenance is comely;" - and we
shall not fail in the issue of sweet refreshment with him.
    
    
    

Digression 1. Some excellencies of Christ proposed to consideration, to
     endear our hearts unto him - His description, Cant. 5, opened.
    
    To strengthen our hearts in the resignation mentioned of ourselves
unto the Lord Christ as our husband, as also to make way for the
stirring of us up to those consequential conjugal affections of which
mention shall afterward be made, I shall turn aside to a more full
description of some of the personal excellencies of the Lord Christ,
whereby the hearts of his saints are indeed endeared unto him.
    In "The LORD our Righteousness," then, may these ensuing things be
considered; which are exceeding suitable to prevail upon our hearts to
give up themselves to be wholly his: -
    1. He is exceeding excellent and desirable in his Deity, and the
glory thereof. He is "Jehovah our Righteousness," Jer. 23: 6. In the
rejoicing of Zion at his coming to her, this is the bottom, "Behold thy
God!" Isa. 40: 9. "We have seen his glory," saith the apostle. What
glory is that? "The glory of the only-begotten Son of God," John 1: 14.
The choicest saints have been afraid and amazed at the beauty of an
angel; and the stoutest sinners have trembled at the glory of one of
those creatures in a low appearance, representing but the back parts of
their glory, who yet themselves, in their highest advancement, do cover
their faces at the presence of our Beloved, as conscious to themselves
of their utter disability to bear the rays of his glory, Isa. 6: 2;
John 12: 39-41. He is "the fellow of the Lord, of hosts," Zech. 13: 7.
And though he once appeared in the form of a servant, yet then "he
thought it not robbery to be equal with God," Phil. 2: 6. In the glory
of this majesty he dwells in light inaccessible. We "cannot by
searching find out the Almighty unto perfection: it is as high as
heaven; what can we do? deeper than hell; what can we know? the measure
thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea," Job 11: 7-
9. We may all say one to another of this, "Surely we are more brutish
than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. We neither
learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy. Who has ascended up
into heaven, or descended? who has gathered the wind in his fists? who
has bound the waters in a garment? who has established all the ends of
the earth? what is his name, and what is his Son's name, if ye can
tell," Prov. 30: 2-4.
    If any one should ask, now, with them in the Canticles, what is in
the Lord Jesus, our beloved, more than in other beloveds, that should
make him so desirable, and amiable, and worthy of acceptation? what is
he more than others? I ask, What is a king more than a beggar? Much
every way. Alas! this is nothing; they were born alike, must die alike,
and after that is the judgement. What is an angel more than a worm? A
worm is a creature, and an angel is no more; he has made the one to
creep in the earth, - made also the other to dwell in heaven. There is
still a proportion between these, they agree in something; but what are
all the nothings of the world to the God infinitely blessed for
evermore? Shall the dust of the balance, or the drop of the bucket be
laid in the scale against him? This is he of whom the sinners in Zion
are afraid, and cry, "Who amongst us shall dwell with the devouring
fire, who amongst us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" I might
now give you a glimpse of his excellency in many of those properties
and attributes by which he discovers himself to the faith of poor
sinners; but as he that goes into a garden where there are innumerable
flowers in great variety, gathers not all he sees, but crops here and
there one, and another, I shall endeavour to open a door, and give an
inlet into the infinite excellency of the graces of the Lord Jesus, as
he is "God blessed for evermore," presenting the reader with one or two
instances, leaving him to gather for his own use what farther he
pleaseth. Hence, then, observe, -
    The endless, bottomless, boundless grace and compassion that is in
him who is thus our husband, as he is the God of Zion. It is not the
grace of a creature, nor all the grace that can possibly at once dwell
in a created nature, that will serve our turn. We are too indigent to
be suited with such a supply. There was a fulness of grace in the human
nature of Christ, - he received not "the Spirit by measure," John 3:
34; a fulness like that of light in the sun, or of water in the sea (I
speak not in respect of communication, but sufficiency); a fulness
incomparably above the measure of angels: yet it was not properly an
infinite fulness, - it was a created, and therefore a limited fulness.
If it could be conceived as separated from the Deity, surely so many
thirsty, guilty souls, as every day drink deep and large draughts of
grace and mercy from him, would (if I may so speak) sink him to the
very bottom; nay, it could afford no supply at all, but only in a moral
way. But when the conduit of his humanity is inseparably united to the
infinite, inexhaustible fountain of the Deity, who can look into the
depths thereof? If, now, there be grace enough for sinners in an all-
sufficient God, it is in Christ; and, indeed, in any other there cannot
be enough. The Lord gives this reason for the peace and confidence of
sinners, Isa. 54: 4, 5, "Thou shalt not be ashamed, neither be thou
confounded; for thou shalt not be put to shame." But how shall this be?
So much sin, and not ashamed! so much guilt, and not confounded! "Thy
Maker," saith he, "is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and
thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall
he be called." This is the bottom of all peace, confidence, and
consolation, - the grace and mercy of our Maker, of the God of the
whole earth. So are kindness and power tempered in him; he makes us,
and mars us, - he is our God and our Goel, our Redeemer. "Look unto
me," saith he, "and be ye saved; for I am God, and none else," Isa. 45:
22, "Surely, shall one say, In the LORD have I righteousness," verse
24.
    And on this ground it is that if all the world should (if I may so
say) set themselves to drink free grace, mercy, and pardon, drawing
water continually from the wells of salvation; if they should set
themselves to draw from one single promise, an angel standing by and
crying, "Drink, O my friends, yea, drink abundantly, take so much grace
and pardon as shall be abundantly sufficient for the world of sin which
is in every one of you;" - they would not be able to sink the grace of
the promise one hair's breadth. There is enough for millions of worlds,
if they were; because it flows into it from an infinite, bottomless
fountain. "Fear not, O worm Jacob, I am God, and not man," is the
bottom of sinners' consolation. This is that "head of gold" mentioned,
Cant. 5: 11, that most precious fountain of grace and mercy. This
infiniteness of grace, in respect of its spring and fountain, will
answer all objections that might hinder our souls from drawing nigh to
communion with him, and from a free embracing of him. Will not this
suit us in all our distresses? What is our finite guilt before it? Show
me the sinner that can spread his iniquities to the dimensions (if I
may so say) of this grace. Here is mercy enough for the greatest, the
oldest, the stubbornest transgressor, - "Why will ye die, O house of
Israel?" Take heed of them who would rob you of the Deity of Christ. If
there were no more grace for me than what can be treasured up in a mere
man, I should rejoice [if] my portion might be under rocks and
mountains.
    Consider, hence, his eternal, free, unchangeable love. Were the
love of Christ unto us but the love of a mere man, though never so
excellent, innocent, and glorious, it must have a beginning, it must
have an ending, and perhaps be fruitless. The love of Christ in his
human nature towards his is exceeding, intense, tender, precious,
compassionate, abundantly heightened by a sense of our miseries,
feeling of our wants, experience of our temptations; all flowing from
that rich stock of grace, pity, and compassion, which, on purpose for
our good and supply, was bestowed on him: but yet this love, as such,
cannot be infinite nor eternal, nor from itself absolutely
unchangeable. Were it no more, though not to be paralleled nor fathomed
yet our Saviour could not say of it, as he does, "As the Father has
loved me, so have I loved you," John 15: 9. His love could not be
compared with and squalled unto the divine love of the Father, in those
properties of eternity, fruitfulness, and unchangeableness, which are
the chief anchors of the soul, rolling itself on the bosom of Christ.
But now, -
    (1.) It is eternal: "Come ye near unto me, hear ye this; I have
not," saith he, "spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time
that it was, there am I: and now the Lord GOD, and his Spirit, has sent
me," Isa. 48: 16. He himself is "yesterday, today, and for ever," Heb.
13: 8; and so is his love, being his who is "Alpha and Omega, the first
and the last, the beginning and the ending, which is, which was, and
which is to come," Rev. 1: 11.
    (2.) Unchangeable. Our love is like ourselves; as we are, so are
all our affections: so is the love of Christ like himself. We love one,
one day, and hate him the next. He changeth, and we change also: this
day he is our right hand, our right eye; the next day, "Cut him off,
pluck him out." Jesus Christ is still the same; and so is his love. "In
the beginning he laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are
the works of his hands; they shall perish, but he remaineth: they all
shall wax old as does a garment; and as a vesture shall he fold them
up, and they shall be changed: but he is the same, and his years fail
not," Heb. 1: 10-12. He is the LORD, and he changeth not; and therefore
we are not consumed. Whom he loves, he loves unto the end. His love is
such as never had beginning, and never shall have ending.
    (3.) It is also fruitful, - fruitful in all gracious issues and
effects. A man may love another as his own soul, yet perhaps that love
of his cannot help him. He may thereby pity him in prison, but not
relieve him; bemoan him in misery, but not help him; suffer with him in
trouble, but not ease him. We cannot love grace into a child, nor mercy
into a friend; we cannot love them into heaven, though it may be the
great desire of our soul. It was love that made Abraham cry, "O that
Ishmael might live before thee!" but it might not be. But now the love
of Christ, being the love of God, is effectual and fruitful in
producing all the good things which he willeth unto his beloved. He
loves life, grace, and holiness into us; he loves us also into
covenant, loves us into heaven. Love in him is properly to will good to
any one: whatever good Christ by his love wills to any, that willing is
operative of that good.
    These three qualifications of the love of Christ make it
exceedingly eminent, and him exceeding desirable. How many millions of
sins, in every one of the elect, every one whereof were enough to
condemn them all, has this love overcome! what mountains of unbelief
does it remove! Look upon the conversation of any one saint, consider
the frame of his heart, see the many stains and spots, the defilements
and infirmities, wherewith his life is contaminated, and tell me
whether the love that bears with all this be not to be admired. And is
it not the same towards thousands every day? What streams of grace,
purging, pardoning, quickening, assisting, do flow from it every day!
This is our Beloved, O ye daughters of Jerusalem.
    2. He is desirable and worthy our acceptation, as considered in
his humanity; even therein also, in reference to us, he is exceedingly
desirable. I shall only, in this, note unto you two things: - (1.) Its
freedom from sin; (2.) Its fulness of grace; - in both which regards
the Scripture sets him out as exceedingly lovely and amiable.
    (1.) He was free frown sin; - the Lamb of God, without spot, and
without blemish; the male of the flock, to be offered unto God, the
curse falling on all other oblations, and them that offer them, Mal. 1:
14. The purity of the snow is not to be compared with the whiteness of
this lily, of this rose of Sharon, even from the womb: "For such an
high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from
sinners," Heb. 7: 26. Sanctified persons, whose stains are in any
measure washed away, are exceeding fair in the eye of Christ himself.
"Thou art all fair," saith he, "my love, thou hast no spot in thee."
How fair, then, is he who never had the least spot or stain!
    It is true, Adam at his creation had this spotless purity; so had
the angels: but they came immediately from the hand of God, without
concurrence of any secondary cause. Jesus Christ is a plant and root
out of a dry ground, a blossom from the stem of Jesse, a bud from the
loins of sinful man, - born of a sinner, after there had been no
innocent flesh in the world for four thousand years, every one upon the
roll of his genealogy being infected therewithal. To have a flower of
wonderful rarity to grow in paradise, a garden of God's own planting,
not sullied in the least, is not so strange; but, as the psalmist
speaks (in another kind), to hear of it in a wood, to find it in a
forest, to have a spotless bud brought forth in the wilderness of
corrupted nature, is a thing which angels may desire to look into. Nay,
more, this whole nature was not only defiled, but also accursed; not
only unclean, but also guilty, - guilty of Adam's transgression, in
whom we have all sinned. That the human nature of Christ should be
derived from hence free from guilt, free from pollution, this is to be
adored.
    Objection. But you will say, "How can this be? who can bring a
clean thing from an unclean? How could Christ take our nature, and not
the defilements of it, and the guilt of it? If Levi paid tithes in the
loins of Abraham, how is it that Christ did not sin in the loins of
Adam?"
    Answer. There are two things in original sin: -
    [1.] Guilt of the first sin, which is imputed to us. We all sinned
in him. "'Eph hoi pantes hemarton", Rom. 5: 12, whether we render it
relatively "in whom," or illatively, "being all have sinned," all is
one: that one sin is the sin of us all, - "omnes eramus unus ille
homo". We were all in covenant with him; he was not only a natural
head, but also a federal head unto us. As Christ is to believers, Rom.
5: 17; 1 Cor. 15: 22, so was he to us all; and his transgression of
that covenant is reckoned to us.
    [2.] There is the derivation of a polluted, corrupted nature from
him: "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" "That which is
born of the flesh is flesh," and nothing else; whose wisdom and mind is
corrupted also: a polluted fountain will have polluted streams. The
first person corrupted nature, and that nature corrupts all persons
following. Now, from both these was Christ most free: -
    1st. He was never federally in Adam, and so not liable to the
imputation of his sin on that account. It is true that sin was imputed
to him when he was made sin; thereby he took away the sin of the world,
John 1: 29: but it was imputed to him in the covenant of the Mediator,
through his voluntary susception, and not in the covenant of Adam, by a
legal imputation. Had it been reckoned to him as a descendant from
Adam, he had not been a fit high priest to have offered sacrifices for
us, as not being "separate from sinners," Heb. 7: 26. Had Adam stood in
his innocence, Christ had not been incarnate, to have been a mediator
for sinners; and therefore the counsel of his incarnation, morally,
took not place, until after the fall. Though he was in Adam in a
natural sense from his first creation, in respect of the purpose of
God, Luke 3: 23, 38, yet he was not in him in a law sense until after
the fall: so that, as to his own person, he had no more to do with the
first sin of Adam, than with any personal sin of [any] one whose
punishment he voluntarily took upon him; as we are not liable to the
guilt of those progenitors who followed Adam, though naturally we were
no less in them than in him. Therefore did he, all the days of his
flesh, serve God in a covenant of works; and was therein accepted with
him, having done nothing that should disannul the virtue of that
covenant as to him. This does not, then, in the least take off from his
perfection.
    2dly. For the pollution of our nature, it was prevented in him
from the instant of conception, Luke 1: 35, "The Holy Ghost shall come
upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:
therefore also that holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be
called the Son of God." He was "made of a woman," Gal. 4: 4; but that
portion whereof he was made was sanctified by the Holy Ghost, that what
was born thereof should be a holy thing. Not only the conjunction and
union of soul and body, whereby a man becomes partaker of his whole
nature, and therein of the pollution of sin, being a son of Adam, was
prevented by the sanctification of the Holy Ghost, but it also
accompanied the very separation of his bodily substance in the womb
unto that sacred purpose whereunto it was set apart: so that upon all
accounts he is "holy, harmless, undefiled." Add now hereunto, that he
"did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth," 1 Pet. 2: 22; that
he "fulfilled all righteousness," Matt. 3: 15; his Father being always
"well pleased" with him, verse 17, on the account of his perfect
obedience; yea, even in that sense wherein he chargeth his angels with
folly, and those inhabitants of heaven are not clean in his sight; and
his excellency and desirableness in this regard will lie before us.
Such was he, such is he; and yet for our sakes was he contented not
only to be esteemed by the vilest of men to be a transgressor, but to
undergo from God the punishment due to the vilest sinners. Of which
afterward.
    (2.) The fulness of grace in Christ's human nature sets forth the
amiableness and desirableness thereof. Should I make it my business to
consider his perfections, as to this part of his excellency, - what he
had from the womb, Luke 1: 35, what received growth and improvement as
to exercise in the days of his flesh, Luke 2: 52, with the complement
of them all in glory, - the whole would tend to the purpose in hand. I
am but taking a view of these things in transits. These two things lie
in open sight to all at the first consideration: - all grace was in
him, for the kinds thereof; and all degrees of grace, for its
perfections; and both of them make up that fulness that was in him. It
is created grace that I intend; and therefore I speak of the kinds of
it: it is grace inherent in a created nature, not infinite; and
therefore I speak of the degrees of it.
    For the fountain of grace, the Holy Ghost, he received not him "by
measure," John 3: 34; and for the communications of the Spirit, "it
pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell," Col. 1: 19, -
"that in all things he might have the pre-eminence." But these things
are commonly spoken unto.
    This is the Beloved of our souls, "holy, harmless, undefiled;"
"full of grace and truth;" - full, to a sufficiency for every end of
grace, - full, for practice, to be an example to men and angels as to
obedience, full, to a certainty of uninterrupted communion with God, -
full, to a readiness of giving supply to others, - full, to suit him to
all the occasions and necessities of the souls of men, - full, to a
glory not unbecoming a subsistence in the person of the Son of God, -
full, to a perfect victory, in trials, over all temptations, - full, to
an exact correspondence to the whole law, every righteous and holy law
of God, full to the utmost capacity of a limited, created, finite
nature, - full, to the greatest beauty and glory of a living temple of
God, - full, to the full pleasure and delight of the soul of his
Father, - full to an everlasting monument of the glory of God, in
giving such inconceivable excellencies to the Son of man.
    And this is the second thing considerable for the endearing of our
souls to our Beloved.
    3. Consider that he is all this in one person. We have not been
treating of two, a God and a man; but of one who is God and man. That
Word that was with God in the beginning, and was God, John 1: 1, is
also made flesh, verse 14; - not by a conversion of itself into flesh;
not by appearing in the outward shape and likeness of flesh; but by
assuming that holy thing that was born of the virgin, Luke 1: 35, into
personal union with himself. So "The mighty God," Isa. 9: 6, is a
"child given" to us; that holy thing that was born of the virgin is
called "The Son of God," Luke 1: 35. That which made the man Christ
Jesus to be a man, was the union of soul and body; that which made him
that man, and without which he was not the man, was the subsistence of
both united in the person of the Son of God. As to the proof hereof, I
have spoken of it elsewhere at large; I now propose it only in general,
to show the amiableness of Christ on this account. Here lies, hence
arises, the grace, peace, life, and security of the church, - of all
believers; as by some few considerations may be clearly evinced: -
    (1.) Hence was he fit to suffer and able to bear whatever was due
unto us, in that very action wherein the "Son of man gave his life a
ransom for many," Matt. 20: 28. "God redeemed his church with his own
blood," Acts 20: 28; and therein was the "love of God seen, that he
gave his life for us," 1 John 3: 16. On this account was there room,
enough in his breast to receive the points of all the swords that were
sharpened by the law against us; and strength enough in his shoulders
to bear the burden of that curse that was due to us. Thence was he so
willing to undertake the work of our redemption, Heb. 10: 7, 8, "Lo, I
come to do thy will, O God," because he knew his ability to go through
with it. Had he not been man, he could not have suffered; - had he not
been God, his suffering could not have availed either himself or us, -
he had not satisfied; the suffering of a mere man could not bear any
proportion to that which in any respect was infinite. Had the great and
righteous God gathered together all the sins that had been committed by
his elect from the foundation of the world, and searched the bosoms of
all that were to come to the end of the world, and taken them all, from
the sin of their nature to the least deviation from the rectitude of
his most holy law, and the highest provocation of their regenerate and
unregenerate condition, and laid them on a mere holy, innocent,
creature; - O how would they have overwhelmed him, and buried him for
ever out of the presence of God's love! Therefore does the apostle
premise that glorious description of him to the purging of our sin: "He
has spoken unto us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all
things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of
his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all
things by the word of his power," has "purged our sins." Heb. 1: 2, 3.
It was he that purged our sins, who was the Son and heir of all things,
by whom the world was made, - the brightness of his Father's glory, and
express image of his person; he did it, he alone was able to do it.
"God was manifested in the flesh," 1 Tim. 3: 16, for this work. The
sword awaked against him that was the fellow of the Lord of hosts,
Zech. 13: 7; and by the wounds of that great shepherd are the sheep
healed, 1 Pet. 2: 24, 25.
    (2.) Hence does he become an endless, bottomless fountain of grace
to all them that believe. The fulness that it pleased the Father to
commit to Christ, to be the great treasury and storehouse of the
church, did not, does not, lie in the human nature, considered in
itself; but in the person of the mediator, God and man. Consider
wherein his communication of grace does consist, and this will be
evident. The foundation of all is laid in his satisfaction, merit, and
purchase; these are the morally procuring cause of all the grace we
receive from Christ. Hence all grace becomes to be his; all the things
of the new covenant, the promises of God, all the mercy, love, grace,
glory promised, became, I say, to be his. Not as though they were all
actually invested, or did reside and were in the human nature, and were
from thence really communicated to us by a participation of a portion
of what did so inhere: but they are morally his, by a compact, to be
bestowed by him as he thinks good, as he is mediator, God and man; that
is, the only begotten Son made flesh, John 1: 14, "from whose fulness
we receive, and grace for grace." The real communication of grace is by
Christ sending the Holy Ghost to regenerate us, and to create all the
habitual grace, with the daily supplies thereof, in our hearts, that we
are made partakers of. Now the Holy Ghost is thus sent by Christ as
mediator, God and man, as is at large declared, John 14; 15; 16; of
which more afterward. This, then, is that which I intend by this
fulness of grace that is in Christ, from whence we have both our
beginning and all our supplies; which makes him, as he is the alpha and
Omega of his church, the beginner and finisher of our faith, excellent
and desirable to our souls: - Upon the payment of the great price of
his blood, and full acquitment on the satisfaction he made, all grace
whatever (of which at large afterward) becomes, in a moral sense, his,
at his disposal; and he bestows it on, or works it in, the hearts of
his by the Holy Ghost, according as, in his infinite wisdom, he sees it
needful. How glorious is he to the soul on this consideration! That is
most excellent to us which suits us in a wanting condition, - that
which gives bread to the hungry, water to the thirsty, mercy to the
perishing. All our reliefs are thus in our Beloved. Here is the life of
our souls, the joy of our hearts, our relief against sin and
deliverance from the wrath to come.
    (3.) Thus is he fitted for a mediator, a days-man, an umpire
between God and us, - being one with him, and one with us, and one in
himself in this oneness, in the unity of one person. His ability and
universal fitness for his office of mediator are hence usually
demonstrated. And herein is he "Christ, the power of God, and the
wisdom of God." Herein shines out the infinitely glorious wisdom of
God; which we may better admire than express. What soul that has any
acquaintance with these things falls not down with reverence and
astonishment? How glorious is he that is the Beloved of our souls! What
can be wanting that should encourage us to take up our rest and peace
in his bosom? Unless all ways of relief and refreshment be so
obstructed by unbelief, that no consideration can reach the heart to
yield it the least assistance, it is impossible but that from hence the
soul may gather that which will endear it unto him with whom we have to
do. Let us dwell on the thoughts of it. This is the hidden mystery;
great without controversy; admirable to eternity. What poor, low,
perishing things do we spend our contemplations on! Were we to have no
advantage by this astonishing dispensation, yet its excellency, glory,
beauty, depths, deserve the flower of our inquiries, the vigour of our
spirits, the substance of our time; but when, withal, our life, our
peace, our joy, our inheritance, our eternity, our all, lies herein,
shall not the thoughts of it always dwell in our hearts, always refresh
and delight our souls?
    (4.) He is excellent and glorious in this, - in that he is exalted
and invested with all authority. When Jacob heard of the exaltation of
his son Joseph in Egypt, and saw the chariots that he had sent for him,
his spirit fainted and recovered again, through abundance of joy and
other overflowing affections. Is our Beloved lost, who for our sakes
was upon the earth poor and persecuted, reviled, killed? No! he was
dead, but he is alive, and, lo, he lives for ever and ever, and has the
keys of hell and of death. Our Beloved is made a lord and ruler, Acts
2: 36. He is made a king; God sets him his king on his holy hill of
Zion, Ps. 2: 6; and he is crowned with honour and dignity, after he had
been "made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death,"
Heb. 2: 7-9. And what is he made king of? "All things are put in
subjection under his feet," verse 8. And what power over them has our
Beloved? "All power in heaven and earth," Matt. 28: 18. As for men, he
has power given him "over all flesh," John 17: 2. And in what glory
does he exercise this power? He gives eternal life to his elect; ruling
them in the power of God, Micah 5: 4, until he bring them to himself:
and for his enemies, his arrows are sharp in their hearts, Ps. 45: 5;
he dips his vesture in their blood. Oh, how glorious is he in his
authority over his enemies! In this world he terrifies, frightens,
awes, convinces, bruises their hearts and consciences, - fills them
with fear, terror, disquietment, until they yield him feigned
obedience; and sometimes with outward judgements bruises, breaks, turns
the wheel upon them, - stains all his vesture with their blood, - fills
the earth with their caresses: and at last will gather them all
together, beast, false prophet, nations, etc., and cast them into that
lake that burns with fire and brimstone.
    He is gloriously exalted above angels in this his authority, good
and bad, Eph. 1: 20-22, "far above all principality, and power, and
might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this
world, but also in that which is to come." They are all under his feet,
- at his command and absolute disposal. He is at the right hand of God,
in the highest exaltation possible, and in full possession of a kingdom
over the whole creation; having received a "name above every name,"
etc., Phil. 2: 9. Thus is he glorious in his throne, which is at "the
right hand of the majesty on high;" glorious in his commission, which
is "all power in heaven and earth;" glorious in his name, a name above
every name, - "Lord of lords, and King of kings;" glorious in his
sceptre, - "a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of his kingdom;"
glorious in his attendants, - "his chariots are twenty thousand, even
thousands of angels," among them he rideth on the heavens, and sendeth
out the voice of his strength, attended with ten thousand times ten
thousand of his holy ones; glorious in his subjects, - all creatures in
heaven and in earth, nothing is left that is not put in subjection to
him; glorious in his way of rule, and the administration of his
kingdom, - full of sweetness, efficacy, power, serenity, holiness,
righteousness, and grace, in and towards his elect, - of terror,
vengeance, and certain destruction towards the rebellious angels and
men; glorious in the issue of his kingdom, when every knee shall bow
before him, and all shall stand before his judgement-seat. And what a
little portion of his glory is it that we have pointed to! This is the
beloved of the church, - its head, its husband; this is he with whom we
have communion: but of the whole exaltation of Jesus Christ I am
elsewhere to treat at large.
    Having insisted on these generals, for the farther carrying on the
motives to communion with Christ, in the relation mentioned, taken from
his excellencies and perfections, I shall reflect on the description
given of him by the spouse in the Canticles, to this very end and
purpose Chant. 5: 10-16, "My Beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest
among ten thousand. His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are
bushy, and black as a raven. His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the
rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set. His cheeks are as a
bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet-
smelling myrrh. His hands are as gold rings, set with the beryl: his
belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires. His legs are as
pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as
Lebanon, excellent as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is
altogether lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is my friend, O
daughters of Jerusalem."
    The general description given of him, verse 10, has been before
considered; the ensuing particulars are instances to make good the
assertion that he is "the chiefest among ten thousand."
    The spouse begins with his head and face, verses 11-13. In his
head, she speaks first in general, unto the substance of it, - it is
"fine gold;" and then in particular, as to its ornaments, - "his locks
are bushy, and black as a raven."
    1. "His head is as the most one gold," or, "His head gold, solid
gold;" so some; - "made of pure gold;" so others; - "chrusion kefale",
say the LXX, retaining part of both the Hebrew words, to "ketem paz",
"massa auri."
    Two things are eminent in gold, - splendour or glory, and
duration. This is that which the spouse speaks of the head of Christ.
His head is his government, authority, and kingdom. Hence it is said,
"A crown of pure gold was on his head," Ps. 21: 3; and his head is here
said to be gold, because of the crown of gold that adorns it, - as the
monarchy in Daniel that was most eminent for glory and duration, is
termed a "head of gold," Dan. 2: 38. And these two things are eminent
in the kingdom and authority of Christ: -
    (1.) It is a glorious kingdom; he is full of glory and majesty,
and in his majesty he rides "prosperously," Ps. 45: 3, 4. "His glory is
great in the salvation of God: honour and majesty are laid upon him: he
is made blessed for ever and ever," Ps. 21: 5, 6. I might insist on
particulars, and show that there is not any thing that may render a
kingdom or government glorious, but it is in this of Christ in all its
excellencies. It is a heavenly, a spiritual, a universal, and a shaken
kingdom; all which render it glorious. But of this, somewhat before.
    (2.) It is durable, yea, sterna], - solid gold. "His throne is for
ever and ever," Ps. 45: 6; "of the increase of his government there
shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to
order it, and to establish it with judgement and with justice from
henceforth even for ever," Isa. 9: 7. "His kingdom is an everlasting
kingdom," Dan. 7: 27, - "a kingdom that shall never be destroyed,"
chap. 2: 44; for he must reign until all his enemies be subdued. This
is that head of gold, - the splendour and eternity of his government.
    And if you take the head in a natural sense, either the glory of
his Deity is here attended to, or the fulness and excellency of his
wisdom, which the head is the seat of. The allegory is not to be
straitened, whilst we keep to the analogy of faith.
    2. For the ornaments of his head; his locks, they are said to be
"bushy," or curled, "black as a raven." His curled locks are black; "as
a raven," is added by way of illustration of the blackness, not with
any allusion to the nature of the raven. Take the head spoken of in a
political sense: his locks of hair - said to be curled, as seeming to
be entangled, but really falling in perfect order and beauty, as bushy
locks - are his thoughts, and counsels, and ways, in the administration
of his kingdom. They are black or dark, because of their depth and
unsearchableness, - as God is said to dwell in thick darkness; and
curled or brushy, because of their exact interweavings, from his
infinite wisdom. His thoughts are many as the hairs of the head,
seeming to be perplexed and entangled, but really set in a comely
order, as curled bushy hair; deep and unsearchable, and dreadful to his
enemies, and full of beauty and comeliness to his beloved. Such are, I
say, the thoughts of his heart, the counsels of his wisdom, in
reference to the administrations of his kingdom: - dark, perplexed,
involved, to a carnal eye; in themselves, and to his saints, deep,
manifold, ordered in all things, comely, desirable.
    In a natural sense, black and curled locks denote comeliness, and
vigour of youth. The strength and power of Christ, in the execution of
his counsels, in all his ways, appears glorious and lovely.
    The next thing described in him is his eyes. Verse 12, "His eyes
are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and
fitly set." The reason of this allusion is obvious: - doves are tender
birds, not birds of prey; and of all others they have the most bright,
shining, and piercing eye; their delight also in streams of water is
known. Their being washed in milk, or clear, white, crystal water, adds
to their beauty. And they are here said to be "fitly set;" that is, in
due proportion for beauty and lustre, - as a precious stone in the foil
or fulness of a ring, as the word signifies.
    Eyes being for sight, discerning, knowledge, and acquaintance with
the things that are to be seen; the knowledge, the understanding, the
discerning Spirit of Christ Jesus, are here intended. In the allusion
used four things are ascribed to them: - 1. Tenderness; 2. Purity; 3.
Discerning; and, 4. Glory: -
    1. The tenderness and compassion of Christ towards his church is
here intended. He looks on it with the eyes of galleys doves; with
tenderness and careful compassion; without anger, fury, or thoughts of
revenge. So is the eye interpreted, Deut. 11: 12, "The eyes of the LORD
thy God are upon that land." Why so? "It is a land that the LORD thy
God careth for;" - careth for it in mercy. So are the eyes of Christ on
us, as the eyes of one that in tenderness cares for us; that lays out
his wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, in all tender love, in our
behalf. He is the stone, that foundation-stone of the church, whereon
"are seven eyes," Zech. 3: 9; wherein is a perfection of wisdom,
knowledge, care, and kindness, for its guidance.
    2. Purity; - as washed doves' eyes for purity. This may be taken
either subjectively, for the excellency and immixed cleanness and
purity of his sight and knowledge in himself; or objectively, for his
delighting to behold purity in others. "He is of purer eyes than to
behold iniquity," Hab. 1: 13. "He has no pleasure in wickedness; the
foolish shall not stand in his sight," Ps. 5: 4, 5. If the righteous
soul of Lot was vexed with seeing the filthy deeds of wicked men, 2
Pet. 2: 8, who yet had eyes of flesh, in which there was a mixture of
impurity; how much more do the pure eyes of our dear Lord Jesus
abominate all the filthiness of sinners! But herein lies the excellency
of his love to us, that he takes care to take away our filth and
stains, that he may delight in us; and seeing we are so defiled, that
it could no otherwise be done, he will do it by his own blood, Eph. 5:
25-27, "Even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it,
that he might sanctify and cleanse it, with the washing of water by the
word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having
spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and
without blemish." The end of this undertaking is, that the church might
be thus gloriously presented unto himself, because he is of purer eyes
than to behold it with joy and delight in any other condition. He
leaves not his spouse until he says of her, "Thou art all fair, my
love; there is no spot in thee," Cant. 4: 7. Partly, he takes away our
spots and stains, by the "renewing of the Holy Ghost;" and wholly
adorns us with his own righteousness: and that because of the purity of
his own eyes, which "cannot behold iniquity," - that he might present
us to himself holy.
    3. Discerning. He sees as doves, quickly, clearly, thoroughly, -
to the bottom of that which he looks upon. Hence, in another p]ace it
is said that his "eyes are as a flame of fire," Rev. 1: 14. And why so?
That the churches might know that he is he which "searcheth the reins
and hearts," Rev. 2: 23. He has discerning eyes, nothing is hid from
him; all things are open and naked before him with whom we have to do.
It is said of him, whilst he was in this world, that "Jesus knew all
men, and needed not that any should testify of man; for he knew what
was in man," John 2: 24, 25. His piercing eyes look through all the
thick coverings of hypocrites, and the snow [show] of pretences that is
on them. He sees the inside of all; and what men are there, that they
are to him. He sees not as we see, but ponders the hidden man of the
heart. No humble, broken, contrite soul, shall lose one sigh or groan
after him, and communion with him; no pant of love or desire is hid
from him, - he sees in secret; no glorious performance of the most
glorious hypocrite will avail with him, - his eyes look through all,
and the filth of their hearts lies naked before him.
    4. Beauty and glory are here intended also. Every thing of Christ
is beautiful, for he is "altogether lovely," verse 16, but most
glorious [is he] in his sight and wisdom: he is the wisdom of God's
eternal wisdom itself; his understanding is infinite. What spots and
stains are in all our knowledge! When it is made perfect, yet it will
still be finite and limited. His is without spot of darkness, without
foil of limitedness.
    Thus, then, is he beautiful and glorious: - his "head is of gold,
his eyes are doves' eyes, washed in milk, and fitly set."
    The next thing insisted on is his cheeks. Verse 13, "His cheeks
are as a bed of spices; as sweet flowers," or "towers of perfumes"
[marginal reading], or well-grown flowers. There are three things
evidently pointed at in these words: - 1. A sweet savour, as from
spices, and flowers, and towers of perfume; 2. Beauty and order, as
spices set in rows or beds, as the words import; 3. Eminency in that
word, as sweet or well-grown, great flowers.
    These things are in the cheeks of Christ. The Chaldee paraphrase,
who applies this whole song to God's dealings with the people of the
Jews, makes these cheeks of the church's husband to be the two tables
of stone, with the various lines drawn in them; but that allusion is
strained, as are most of the conjectures of that scholiast.
    The cheeks of a man are the seat of comeliness and manlike
courage. The comeliness of Christ, as has in part been declared, is
from his fulness of grace in himself for us. His manly courage respects
the administration of his rule and government, from his fulness of
authority; as was before declared. This comeliness and courage the
spouse, describing Christ as a beautiful, desirable personage, to show
that spiritually he is so, calleth his cheeks; so to make up his parts,
and proportion. And to them does she ascribe, -
    1. A sweet savour, order, and eminency. A sweet savour; as God is
said to smell a sweet savour from the grace and obedience of his
servants (Gen. 8: 21, the LORD smelled a savour of rest from the
sacrifice of Noah), so do the saints smell a sweet savour from his
grace laid up in Christ, Cant. 1: 3. It is that which they rest in,
which they delight in, which they are refreshed with. As the smell of
aromatical spices and flowers pleases the natural sense, refreshes the
spirits, and delights the person; so do the graces of Christ to his
saints. They please their spiritual sense, they refresh their drooping
spirits, and give delight to their souls. If he be nigh them, they
smell his raiment, as Isaac the raiment of Jacob. They say, "It is as
the smell of a field which the LORD has blessed," Gen. 27: 27; and
their souls are refreshed with it.
    2. Order and beauty are as spices set in a garden bed. So are the
graces of Christ. When spices are set in order, any one may know what
is for his use, and take and gather it accordingly. Their answering,
also, one to another makes them beautiful. So are the graces of Christ;
in the gospel they are distinctly and in order set forth, that sinners
by faith may view them, and take from him according to their necessity.
They are ordered for the use of saints in the promises of the gospel.
There is light in him, and life in him, and power in him, and all
consolation in him; - a constellation of graces, shining with glory and
beauty. Believers take a view of them all, see their glory and
excellency, but fix especially on that which, in the condition wherein
they are, is most useful to them. One takes light and joy; another,
life and power. By faith and prayer do they gather these things in this
bed of spices. Not any that comes to him goes away unrefreshed. What
may they not take, what may they not gather? what is it that the poor
soul wants? Behold, it is here provided, set out in order in the
promises of the gospel; which are as the beds wherein these spices are
set for our use: and on the account hereof is the covenant said to be
"ordered in all things," 2 Sam. 23: 5.
    3. Eminency. His cheeks are "a tower of perfumes" held up, made
conspicuous, visible, eminent. So it is with the graces of Christ, when
held out and lifted up in the preaching of the gospel. They are a tower
of perfumes, - a sweet savour to God and man.
    The next clause of that verse is, "His lips are like lilies,
dropping sweet-smelling myrrh." Two perfections in things natural are
here alluded unto: - First, the glory of colour in the lilies, and the
sweetness of savour in the myrrh. The glory and beauty of the lilies in
those countries was such as that our Saviour tells us that "Solomon, in
all his glory, was not arrayed like one of them," Matt. 6: 29; and the
savour of myrrh such as, when the Scripture would set forth any thing
to be an excellent savour, it compares it thereunto, Ps. 45: 8; and
thereof was the sweet and holy ointment chiefly made, Exod. 30: 23-25:
mention is also made frequently of it in other places, to the same
purpose. It is said of Christ, that "grace was poured into his lips,"
Ps. 45: 2; whence men wondered or were amazed - "tois logois tes
charitos", [Luke 4: 22] - at the words of grace that proceeded out of
his mouth. So that by the lips of Christ, and their dropping sweet-
smelling myrrh, the word of Christ, its savour, excellency, and
usefulness, is intended. Herein is he excellent and glorious indeed,
surpassing the excellencies of those natural things which yet are most
precious in their kind, - even in the glory, beauty, and usefulness of
his word. Hence they that preach his word to the saving of the souls of
men, are said to be a "sweet savour unto God," 2 Cor. 2: 15; and the
savour of the knowledge of God is said to be manifested by them, verse
14. I might insist on the several properties of myrrh, whereto the word
of Christ is here compared, - its bitterness in taste, its efficacy to
preserve from putrefaction, its usefulness in perfumes and unctions, -
and press the allegory in setting out the excellencies of the word in
allusions to them; but I only insist on generals. This is that which
the Holy Ghost here intends: - the word of Christ is sweet, savoury,
precious unto believers; and they see him to be excellent, desirable,
beautiful, in the precepts, promises, exhortations, and the most bitter
threats thereof.
    The spouse adds, "His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl"
[verse 14]. The word "beryl," in the original, is "Tarshish;" which the
Septuagint have retained, not restraining it to any peculiar precious
stone; the onyx, say some; the chrysolite, say others; - any precious
stone shining with a sea-green colour, for the word signifies the sea
also. Gold rings set with precious, glittering stones, are both
valuable and desirable, for profit and ornament: so are the hands of
Christ; that is, all his works, - the effects, by the cause. All his
works are glorious; they are all fruits of wisdom, love, and bounty.
"And his belly is as bright ivory, overlaid with sapphires." The
smoothness and brightness of ivory, the preciousness and heavenly
colour of the sapphires, are here called in, to give some lustre to the
excellency of Christ." To these is his belly, or rather his bowels
(which takes in the heart also), compared. It is the inward bowels, and
not the outward bulk that is signified. Now, to show that by "bowels"
in the Scripture, ascribed either to God or man, affections are
intended, is needless. The tender love, unspeakable affections and
kindness, of Christ to his church and people, is thus set out. What a
beautiful sight is it to the eye, to see pure polished ivory set up and
down with heaps of precious sapphires! How much more glorious are the
tender affections, mercies, and compassion of the Lord Jesus unto
believers!
    Verse 15. The strength of his kingdom, the faithfulness and
stability of his promises, - the height and glory of his person in his
dominion, - the sweetness and excellency of communion with him, is set
forth in these words: "His legs are as pillars of marble set upon
sockets of fine gold; his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the
cedars: his mouth is most sweet."
    When the spouse has gone thus far in the description of him, she
concludes all in this general assertion: "He is wholly desirable, -
altogether to be desired or beloved." As if she should have said, - "I
have thus reckoned up some of the perfections of the creatures (things
of most value, price, usefulness, beauty, glory, here below), and
compared some of the excellencies of my Beloved unto them. In this way
of allegory I can carry things no higher; I find nothing better or more
desirable to shadow out and to present his loveliness and
desirableness: but, alas! all this comes short of his perfections,
beauty, and comeliness; 'he is all wholly to be desired, to be
beloved;'" -
    Lovely in his person, - in the glorious all-sufficiency of his
Deity, gracious purity and holiness of his humanity, authority and
majesty, love and power.
    Lovely in his birth and incarnation; when he was rich, for our
sakes becoming poor, - taking part of flesh and blood, because we
partook of the same; being made of a woman, that for us he might be
made under the law, even for our sakes.
    Lovely in the whole course of his life, and the more than
angelical holiness and obedience which, in the depth of poverty and
persecution, he exercised therein; - doing good, receiving evil;
blessing, and being cursed, reviled, reproached, all his days.
    Lovely in his death; yea, therein most lovely to sinners; - never
more glorious and desirable than when he came broken, dead, from the
cross. Then had he carried all our sins into a land of forgetfulness;
then had remade peace and reconciliation for us; then had he procured
life and immortality for us.
    Lovely in his whole employment, in his great undertaking, - in his
life, death, resurrection, ascension; being a mediator between God and
us, to recover the glory of God's justice, and to save our souls, - to
bring us to an enjoyment of God, who were set at such an infinite
distance from him by sin.
    Lovely in the glory and majesty wherewith he is crowned. Now he is
set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; where, though he be
terrible to his enemies, yet he is full of mercy, love, and compassion,
towards his beloved ones.
    Lovely in all those supplies of grace and consolations, in all the
dispensations of his Holy Spirit, whereof his saints are made
partakers.
    Lovely in all the tender care, power, and wisdom, which he
exercises in the protection, safe-guarding, and delivery of his church
and people, in the midst of all the oppositions and persecutions
whereunto they are exposed.
    Lovely in all his ordinances, and the whole of that spiritually
glorious worship which he has appointed to his people, whereby they
draw nigh and have communion with him and his Father.
    Lovely and glorious in the vengeance he taketh, and will finally
execute, upon the stubborn enemies of himself and his people.
    Lovely in the pardon he has purchased and does dispense, - in the
reconciliation he has established, - in the grace he communicates, - in
the consolations he does administer, - in the peace and joy he gives
his saints, - in his assured preservation of them unto glory.
    What shall I say? there is no end of his excellencies and
desirableness; - "He is altogether lovely. This is our beloved, and
this is our friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."
    
    
    
    
    

Digression 2. All solid wisdom laid up in Christ - True wisdom, wherein
     it consists - Knowledge of God, in Christ only to be obtained -
     What of God may be known by his works - Some properties of God not
     discovered but in Christ only; love, mercy - Others not fully but
     in him; as vindictive justice, patience, wisdom, all-sufficiency -
     No property of God savingly known but in Christ - What is required
     to a saving knowledge of the properties of God - No true knowledge
     of ourselves but in Christ - Knowledge of ourselves, wherein it
     consisteth - Knowledge of sin, how to be had in Christ; also of
     righteousness and of judgement - The wisdom of walking with God
     hid in Christ - What is required thereunto - Other pretenders to
     the title of wisdom examined and rejected Christ alone exalted.
    
    A second consideration of the excellencies of Christ, serving to
endear the hearts of them who stand with him in the relation insisted
on, arises from that which, in the mistaken apprehension of it, is the
great darling of men, and in its true notion the great aim of the
saints; which is wisdom and knowledge. Let it be evinced that all true
and solid knowledge is laid up in, and is only to be attained from and
by, the Lord Jesus Christ; and the hearts of men, if they are but true
to themselves and their most predominate principles, must needs be
engaged to him. This is the great design of all men, taken off from
professed slavery to the world, and the pursuit of sensual, licentious
courses, - that they maybe wise: and what ways the generality of men
engage in for the compassing of that end shall be afterward considered.
To the glory and honour of our dear Lord Jesus Christ, and the
establishment of our hearts in communion with him, the design of this
digression is to evince that all wisdom is laid up in him, and that
from him alone it is to be obtained.
    1 Cor. 1: 24, the Holy Ghost tells us that "Christ is the power of
God, and the wisdom of God:" not the essential Wisdom of God, as he is
the eternal Son of the Father (upon which account he is called "Wisdom"
in the Proverbs, chap. 8: 22, щ23); but as he is crucified, verse 23.
As he is crucified, so he is the wisdom of God; that is, all that
wisdom which God layeth forth for the discovery and manifestation of
himself, and for the saving of sinners, which makes foolish all the
wisdom of the world, - that is all in Christ crucified; held out in
him, by him, and to be obtained only from him. And thereby in him do we
see the glory of God, 2 Cor. 3: 18. For he is not only said to be "the
wisdom of God," but also to be "made unto us wisdom," 1 Cor. 1: 30. He
is made, not by creation, but ordination and appointment, wisdom unto
us; not only by teaching us wisdom (by a metonymy of the effect for the
cause), as he is the great prophet of his church, but also because by
the knowing of him we become acquainted with the wisdom of God, - which
is our wisdom; which is a metonymy of the adjunct. This, however verily
promised, is thus only to be had. The sum of what is contended for is
asserted in terms, Col. 2: 3, "In him are hid all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge."
    There are two things that might seem to have some colour in
claiming a title and interest in this business: - 1. Civil wisdom and
prudence, for the management of affairs; 2. Ability of learning and
literature; - but God rejecteth both these, as of no use at all to the
end and intent of true wisdom indeed. There is in the world that which
is called "understanding;" but it comes to nothing. There is that which
is called "wisdom;" but it is turned into folly, 1 Cor. 1: 19, 20, "God
brings to nothing the understanding of the prudent, and makes foolish
this wisdom of the world." And if there be neither wisdom nor knowledge
(as doubtless there is not), without the knowledge of God, Jer. 8: 9,
it is all shut up in the Lord Jesus Christ: "No man has seen God at any
time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he
has revealed him." He is not seen at another time, John 1: 18, nor
known upon any other account, but only the revelation of the Son. He
has manifested him from his own bosom; and therefore, verse 9, it is
said that he is "the true Light, which lighteth every man that comes
into the world," the true Light, which has it in himself: and none has
any but from him; and all have it who come unto him. He who does not
so, is in darkness.
    The sum of all true wisdom and knowledge may be reduced to these
three heads: - 1. The knowledge of God, his nature and his properties.
2. The knowledge of ourselves in reference to the will of God
concerning us. 3. Skill to walk in communion with God: -
    I. The knowledge of the works of God, and the chief end of all,
does necessarily attend these. 1. In these three is summed up all true
wisdom and knowledge; and, 2, - Not any of them is to any purpose to be
obtained, or is manifested, but only in and by the Lord Christ: -
    1. God, by the work of the creation, by the creation itself, did
reveal himself in many of his properties unto his creatures capable of
his knowledge; - his power, his goodness, his wisdom, his all-
sufficiency, are thereby known. This the apostle asserts, Rom. 1: 19-
21. Verse 19, he calls it "to gnoston tou Theou", - verse 20, that is,
his eternal power and Godhead; and verse 21, a knowing of God: and all
this by the creation. But yet there are some properties of God which
all the works of creation cannot in any measure reveal or make known; -
as his patience, long-suffering, and forbearance. For all things being
made good, there could be no place for the exercise of any of these
properties, or manifestation of them. The whole fabric of heaven and
earth considered in itself, as at first created, will not discover any
such thing as patience and forbearance in God; which yet are eminent
properties of his nature, as himself proclaims and declares, Exod. 34:
6, 7.
    Wherefore the Lord goes farther; and by the works of his
providence, in preserving and ruling the world which he made, discovers
and reveals these properties also. For whereas by cursing the earth,
and filling all the elements oftentimes with signs of his anger and
indignation, he has, as the apostle tells us, Rom. 1: 18, "revealed
from heaven his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of
men;" yet not proceeding immediately to destroy all things, he has
manifested his patience and forbearance to all. This Paul, Acts 14: 16,
17, tells us: "He suffered all nations to walk in their own ways; yet
he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave rain
from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and
gladness." A large account of his goodness and wisdom herein the
psalmist gives us, Ps. 104 throughout. By these ways he bare witness to
his own goodness and patience; and so it is said, "He endures with much
long-suffering," etc., Rom. 9: 22. But now, here all the world is at a
stand; by all this they have but an obscure glimpse of God, and see not
so much as his back parts. Moses saw not that, until he was put into
the rock; and that rock was Christ. There are some of the most eminent
and glorious properties of God (I mean, in the manifestation whereof he
will be most glorious; otherwise his properties are not to be compared)
that there is not the least glimpse to be attained of out of the Lord
Christ, but only by and in him; and some that comparatively we have no
light of but in him; and of all the rest no true light but by him: -
    (1.) Of the first sort, whereof not the least guess and
imagination can enter into the heart of man but only by Christ, are
love and pardoning mercy: -
    [1.] Love; I mean love unto sinners. Without this, man is of all
creatures most miserable; and there is not the least glimpse of it that
can possibly be discovered but in Christ. The Holy Ghost says, 1 John
4: 8, 16, "God is love;" that is, not only of a loving and tender
nature, but one that will exercise himself in a dispensation of his
love, eternal love, towards us, - one that has purposes of love for us
from of old, and will fulfil them all towards us in due season. But how
is this demonstrated? how may we attain an acquaintance with it? He
tells us, verse 9, "In this was manifested the love of God, because
that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live
through him." This is the only discovery that God has made of any such
property in his nature, or of any thought of exercising it towards
sinners, - in that he has sent Jesus Christ into the world, that we
might live by him. Where now is the wise, where is the scribe, where is
the disputer of this world, with all their wisdom? Their voice must be
that of the hypocrites in Zion, Isa. 33: 14, 15. That wisdom which
cannot teach me that God is love, shall ever pass for folly. Let men go
to the sun, moon, and stars, to showers of rain and fruitful seasons,
and answer truly what by them they learn hereof. Let them not think
themselves wiser or better than those that went before them, who, to a
man, got nothing by them, but being left inexcusable.
    [2.] Pardoning mercy, or grace. Without this, even his love would
be fruitless. What discovery may be made of this by a sinful man, may
be seen in the father of us all; who, when he had sinned, had no
reserve for mercy, but hid himself, Gen. 3: 8. He did it "leruach
hayom", when the wind did but a little blow at the presence of God; and
he did it foolishly, thinking to "hide himself among trees!" Ps. 139:
7, 8. "The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus
Christ," John 1: 17, - grace in the truth and substance. Pardoning
mercy, that comes by Christ alone; that pardoning mercy which is
manifested in the gospel, and wherein God will be glorified to all
eternity, Eph. 1: 6. I mean not that general mercy, that velleity of
acceptance which some put their hopes in: that "pathos", (which to
ascribe unto God is the greatest dishonour that can be done him) shines
not with one ray out of Christ; it is wholly treasured up in him, and
revealed by him. Pardoning mercy is God's free, gracious acceptance of
a sinner upon satisfaction made to his justice in the blood of Jesus;
nor is any discovery of it, but as relating to the satisfaction of
justice, consistent with the glory of God. It is a mercy of
inconceivable condescension in forgiveness, tempered with exact justice
and severity. Rom. 3: 25, God is said "to set forth Christ to be a
propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness
in the remission of sins;" his righteousness is also manifested in the
business of forgiveness of sins: and therefore it is everywhere said to
be wholly in Christ, Eph 1:7. So that this gospel grace and pardoning
mercy is a]one purchased by him, and revealed in him. And this was the
main end of all typical institutions, - to manifest that remission and
forgiveness is wholly wrapped up in the Lord Christ, and that out of
him there is not the least conjecture to be made of it, nor the least
morsel to be tasted. Had not God set forth the Lord Christ, all the
angels in heaven and men on earth could not have apprehended that there
had been any such thing in the nature of God as this grace of pardoning
mercy. The apostle asserts the full manifestation as well as the
exercise of this mercy to be in Christ only, Tit. 3: 4, 5, "After that
the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared," namely,
in the sending of Christ, and the declaration of him in the gospel.
Then was this pardoning mercy and salvation not by works discovered.
    And these are of those properties of God whereby he will be known,
whereof there is not the least glimpse to be obtained but by and in
Christ; and whoever knows him not by these, knows him not at all. They
know an idol, and not the only true God. He that has not the Son, the
same has not the Father, 1 John 2: 23; and not to have God as a Father,
is not to have him at all; and he is known as a Father only as he is
love, and full of pardoning mercy in Christ. How this is to be had the
Holy Ghost tells us, 1 John 5: 20, "The Son of God is come and has
given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true." By him
alone we have our understanding to know him that is true. Now, these
properties of God Christ revealeth in his doctrine, in the revelation
he makes of God and his will, as the great prophet of the church, John
17: 6. And on this account the knowledge of them is exposed to all,
with an evidence unspeakably surmounting that which is given by the
creation to his eternal power and Godhead. But the life of this
knowledge lies in an acquaintance with his person, wherein the express
image and beams of this glory of his Father do shine forth, Heb. 1: 3;
of which before.
    (2.) There are other properties of God which, though also
otherwise discovered, yet are so clearly, eminently, and savingly only
in Jesus Christ; as, - [1.] His vindictive justice in punishing sin;
[2.] His patience, forbearance, and long-suffering towards sinners;
[3.] His wisdom, in managing things for his own glory; [4.] His all-
sufficiency, in himself and unto others. All these, though they may
receive some lower and inferior manifestations out of Christ, yet they
clearly shine only in him; so as that it may be our wisdom to be
acquainted with them.
    [1.] His vindictive justice. God has, indeed, many ways manifested
his indignation and anger against sin; so that men cannot but know that
it is "the judgement of God, that they which commit such things are
worthy of death," Rom. 1: 32. He has in the law threatened to kindle a
fire in his anger that shall burn to the very heart of hell. And even
in many providential dispensations, "his wrath is revealed from heaven
against all the ungodliness of men," Rom. 1: 18. So that men must say
that he is a God of judgement. And he that shall but consider that the
angels for sin were cast from heaven, shut up under chains of
everlasting darkness unto the judgement of the great day (the rumour
whereof seems to have been spread among the Gentiles, whence the poet
makes his Jupiter threaten the inferior rebellious deities with that
punishment); and how Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned with an
overthrow, and burned into ashes, that they might be "examples unto
those that should after live ungodly," 2 Pet. 2: 6; cannot but discover
much of God's vindictive justice and his anger against sin. But far
more clear does this shine into us in the Lord Christ: -
    1st. In him God has manifested the naturalness of this
righteousness unto him, in that it was impossible that it should be
diverted from sinners without the interposing of a propitiation. Those
who lay the necessity of satisfaction merely upon the account of a free
act and determination of the will of God, leave, to my apprehension, no
just and indispensable foundation for the death of Christ, but lay it
upon a supposition of that which might have been otherwise. But
plainly, God, in that he spared not his only Son, but made his soul an
offering for sin, and would admit of no atonement but in his blood, has
abundantly manifested that it is of necessity to him (his holiness and
righteousness requiring it) to render indignation, wrath, tribulation,
and anguish unto sin. And the knowledge of this naturalness of
vindictive justice, with the necessity of its execution on supposition
of sin, is the only true and useful knowledge of it. To look upon it as
that which God may exercise or forbear, makes his justice not a
property of his nature, but a free act of his will; and a will to
punish where one may do otherwise without injustice, is rather ill-will
than Justice.
    2dly. In the penalty inflicted on Christ for sin, this justice is
far more gloriously manifested than otherwise. To see, indeed, a world,
made good and beautiful, wrapped up in wrath and curses, clothed with
thorns and briers; to see the whole beautiful creation made subject to
vanity, given up to the bondage of corruption; to hear it groan in pain
under that burden; to consider legions of angels, most glorious and
immortal creatures, cast down into hell, bound with chains of darkness,
and reserved for a more dreadful judgement for one sin; to view the
ocean of the blood of souls spilt to eternity on this account, - will
give some insight into this thing. But what is all this to that view of
it which may be had by a spiritual eye in the Lord Christ? All these
things are worms, and of no value in comparison of him. To see him who
is the wisdom of God, and the power of God, always beloved of the
Father; to see him, I say, fear, and tremble, and bow, and sweat, and
pray, and die; to see him lifted up upon the cross, the earth trembling
under him, as if unable to bear his weight; and the heavens darkened
over him, as if shut against his cry; and himself hanging between both,
as if refused by both; and all this because our sins did meet upon him;
- this of all things does most abundantly manifest the severity of
God's vindictive justice. Here, or nowhere, is it to be learned.
    [2.] His patience, forbearance, and long-suffering towards
sinners. There are many glimpses of the patience of God shining out in
the works of his providence; but all exceedingly beneath that discovery
of it which we have in Christ, especially in these three things: -
    1st. The manner of its discovery. This, indeed, is evident to all,
that God does not ordinarily immediately punish men upon their
offences. It may be learned from his constant way in governing the
world: notwithstanding all provocations, yet he does good to men;
causing his sun to shine upon them, sending them rain and fruitful
seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness. Hence it was easy
for them to conclude that there was in him abundance of goodness and
forbearance. But all this is yet in much darkness, being the exurgency
of men's seasonings from their observations; yea, the management of it
[God's patience} has been such as that it has proved a snare almost
universally unto them towards whom it has been exercised, Eccles. 8:
11, as well as a temptation to them who have looked on, Job 21:7; Ps.
73: 2-4, etc.; Jer. 12: l; Hab. 1: 13. The discovery of it in Christ is
utterly of another nature. In him the very nature of God is discovered
to be love and kindness; and that he will exercise the same to sinners,
he has promised, sworn, and solemnly engaged himself by covenant. And
that we may not hesitate about the aim which he has herein, there is a
stable bottom and foundation of acting suitably to those gracious
properties of his nature held forth, - namely, the reconciliation and
atonement that is made in the blood of Christ. Whatever discovery were
made of the patience and levity of God unto us, yet if it were not
withal revealed that the other properties of God, as his justice and
revenge for sin, had their acting also assigned to them to the full,
there could be little consolation gathered from the former. And
therefore, though God may teach men his goodness and forbearance, by
sending them rain and fruitful seasons, yet withal at the same time,
upon all occasions, "revealing his wrath from heaven against the
ungodliness of men," Rom. 1: 18, it is impossible that they should do
any thing but miserably fluctuate and tremble at the event of these
dispensations; and yet this is the best that men can have out of
Christ, the utmost they can attain unto. With the present possession of
good things administered in this patience, men might, and did for a
season, take up their thoughts and satiate themselves; but yet they
were not in the least delivered from the bondage they were in by reason
of death, and the darkness attending it. The law reveals no patience or
forbearance in God; it speaks, as to the issue of transgressions,
nothing but sword and fire, had not God interposed by an act of
sovereignty. But now, as was said, with that revelation of forbearance
which we have in Christ, there is also a discovery of the satisfaction
of his justice and wrath against sin; so that we need not fear any
acting from them to interfere with the works of his patience, which are
so sweet unto us. Hence God is said to be "in Christ, reconciling the
world to himself," 2 Cor. 5: 19; manifesting himself in him as one that
has now no more to do for the manifestation of all his attributes, -
that is, for the glorifying of himself, - but only to forbear,
reconcile, and pardon sin in him.
    2dly. In the nature of it. What is there in that forbearance which
out of Christ is revealed? Merely a not immediate punishing upon the
offence, and, withal, giving and continuing temporal mercies; such
things as men are prone to abuse, and may perish with their bosoms full
of them to eternity. That which lies hid in Christ, and is revealed
from him, is full of love, sweetness, tenderness, kindness, grace. It
is the Lord's waiting to be gracious to sinners; waiting for an
advantage to show love and kindness, for the most eminent endearing of
a soul unto himself, Isa. 30: 18, "Therefore will the LORD wait, that
he may be gracious unto you; and therefore will he be exalted, that he
may have mercy upon you." Neither is there any revelation of God that
the soul finds more sweetness in than this. When it [one's soul] is
experimentally convinced that God from time to time has passed by many,
innumerable iniquities, he is astonished to think that God should do
so; and admires that he did not take the advantage of his provocations
to cast him out of his presence. He finds that, with infinite wisdom,
in all long-suffering, he has managed all his dispensations towards him
to recover him from the power of the devil, to rebuke and chasten his
spirit for sin, to endear him unto himself; - there is, I say, nothing
of greater sweetness to the soul than this: and therefore the apostle
says, Rom. 3: 25, that all is "through the forbearance of God." God
makes way for complete forgiveness of sins through this his
forbearance; which the other does not.
    3dly. They differ in their ends and aims. What is the aim and
design of God in the dispensation of that forbearance which is
manifested and may be discovered out of Christ? The apostle tells us,
Rom. 9: 22, "What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his
power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath
fitted for destruction?" It was but to leave them inexcusable, that his
power and wrath against sin might be manifested in their destruction.
And therefore he calls it "a suffering of them to walk in their own
ways," Acts 14: 16; which elsewhere he holds out as a most dreadful
judgement, - to wit, in respect of that issue whereto it will certainly
come; as Ps. 81: 12, "I gave them up unto their own hearts' lusts, and
they walked in their own counsels:" which is as dreadful a condition as
a creature is capable of falling into in this world. And Acts 17: 30,
he calls it a "winking at the sins of their ignorance;" as it were
taking no care nor thought of them in their dark condition, as it
appears by the antithesis, "But now he commandeth all men everywhere to
repent." He did not take so much notice of them then as to command them
to repent, by any clear revelation of his mind and will. And therefore
the exhortation of the apostle, Rom. 2: 4, "Despises thou the riches of
his goodness and forbearance and long suffering, not knowing that the
goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" is spoken to the Jews, who
had advantages to learn the natural tendency of that goodness and
forbearance which God exercises in Christ; which, indeed, leads to
repentance: or else he does in general intimate that, in very reason,
men ought to make another use of those things than usually they do, and
which he chargeth them withal, verse 5, "But after thy hardness and
impenitent heart," etc. At best, then, the patience of God unto men out
of Christ, by reason of their own incorrigible stubbornness, proves but
like the waters of the river Phasis, that are sweet at the top and
bitter in the bottom; they swim for a while in the sweet and good
things of this life, Luke 16: 20; wherewith being filled, they sink to
the depth of all bitterness.
    But now, evidently and directly, the end of that patience and
forbearance of God which is exercised in Christ, and discovered in him
to us, is the saving and bringing into God those towards whom he is
pleased to exercise them. And therefore Peter tells you, 2 Pet. 3: 9,
that he is "long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should
perish, but that all should come to repentance;" that is, all us
towards whom he exercises forbearance; for that is the end of it, that
his will concerning our repentance and salvation may be accomplished.
And the nature of it, with its end, is well expressed, Isa. 54: 9,
"This is as the waters of Noah unto me: for as I have sworn that the
waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I
would not be wrath," etc. It is God's taking a course, in his infinite
wisdom and goodness, that we shall not be destroyed notwithstanding our
sins; and therefore, Rom. 15: 5, these two things are laid together in
God, as coming together from him, "The God of patience and
consolation:" his patience is a matter of the greatest consolation. And
this is another property of God, which, though it may break forth in
some rays, to some ends and purposes, in other things, yet the
treasures of it are hid in Christ; and none is acquainted with it, unto
any spiritual advantage, that learns it not in him.
    [3.] His wisdom, his infinite wisdom, in managing things for his
own glory, and the good of them towards whom he has thoughts of love.
The Lord, indeed, has laid out and manifested infinite wisdom in his
works of creation, providence, and governing of his world: in wisdom
has he made all his creatures. "How manifold are his works! in wisdom
has he made them all; the earth is full of his riches," Ps. 104: 24. So
in his providence, his supportment and guidance of all things, in order
to one another, and his own glory, unto the ends appointed for them;
for all these things "come forth from the LORD of hosts, who is
wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working," Isa. 28: 29. His law
also is for ever to be admired, for the excellency of the wisdom
therein, Deut. 4: 7, 8. But yet there is that which Paul is astonished
at, and wherein God will for ever be exalted, which he calls, "The
depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God," Rom. 11: 33; -
that is only hid in and revealed by Christ. Hence, as he is said to be
"the wisdom of God," and to be "made unto us wisdom;" so the design of
God, which is carried along in him, and revealed in the gospel, is
called "the wisdom of God," and a "mystery; even the hidden wisdom
which God ordained before the world was; which none of the princes of
this world knew," 1 Cor. 2: 7, 8. Eph. 3: 10, it is called, "The
manifold wisdom of God;" and to discover the depth and riches of this
wisdom, he tells us in that verse that it is such, that principalities
and powers, that very angels themselves, could not in the least measure
get any acquaintance with it, until God, by gathering of a church of
sinners, did actually discover it. Hence Peter informs us, that they
who are so well acquainted with all the works of God, do yet bow down
and desire with earnestness to look into these things (the things of
the wisdom of God in the gospel), 1 Pet. 1: 12. It asks a man much
wisdom to make a curious work, fabric, and building; but if one shall
come and deface it, to raise up the same building to more beauty and
glory than ever, this is excellence of wisdom indeed. God in the
beginning made all things good, glorious, and beautiful. When all
things had an innocence and beauty, the clear impress of his wisdom and
goodness upon them, they were very glorious; especially man, who was
made for his special glory. Now, all this beauty was defaced by sin,
and the wholes creation rolled up in darkness, wrath, curses,
confusion, and the great praise of God buried in the heaps of it. Man,
especially, was utterly lost, and came short of the glory of God, for
which he was created, Rom. 3: 23. Here, now, does the depth of the
riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God open itself. A design in
Christ shines out from his bosom, that was lodged there from eternity,
to recover things to such an estate as shall be exceedingly to the
advantage of his glory, infinitely above what at first appeared, and
for the putting of sinners into inconceivably a better condition than
they were in before the entrance of sin. He appears now glorious; he is
known to be a God pardoning iniquity and sin, and advances the riches
of his grace: which was his design, Eph. 1: 6. He has infinitely
vindicated his justice also, in the face of men, angels, and devils, in
setting forth his Son for a propitiation. It is also to our advantage;
we are more fully established in his favour, and are carried on towards
a more exceeding weight of glory than formerly was revealed. Hence was
that ejaculation of one of the ancients, "O felix culpa, quae talem
meruit redemptorem!" Thus Paul tells us, "Great is the mystery of
godliness," 1 Tim. 3: 16, and that "without controversy." We receive
"grace for grace;" - for that grace lost in Adam, better grace in
Christ. Confessedly, this is a depth of wisdom indeed. And of the love
of Christ to his church, and his union with it, to carry on this
business, "This is a great mystery," Eph. 5: 32, says the apostle;
great wisdom lies herein.
    So, then, this also is hid in Christ, - the great and unspeakable
riches of the wisdom of God, in pardoning sin, saving sinners,
satisfying justice, fulfilling the law, repairing his own honour, and
providing for us a more exceeding weight of glory; and all this out of
such a condition as wherein it was impossible that it should enter into
the hearts of angels or men how ever the glory of God should be
repaired, and one sinning creature delivered from everlasting ruin.
Hence it is said, that at the last day God "shall be glorified in his
saints, and admired in all them that believe," 2 Thess. 1: 10. It shall
be an admirable thing, and God shall be for ever glorious in it, even
in the bringing of believers to himself. To save sinners through
believing, shall be found to be a far more admirable work than to
create the world of nothing.
    [4.] His all-sufficiency is the last of this sort that I shall
name.
    God's all-sufficiency in himself is his absolute and universal
perfection, whereby nothing is wanting in him, nothing to him: No
accession can be made to his fulness, no decrease or wasting can happen
thereunto. There is also in him an all-sufficiency for others; which is
his power to impart and communicate his goodness and himself so to them
as to satisfy and fill them, in their utmost capacity, with whatever is
good and desirable to them. For the first of these, - his all-
sufficiency for the communication of his goodness, that is, in the
outward effect of it, - God abundantly manifested in the creation, in
that he made all things good, all things perfect; that is, to whom
nothing was wanting in their own kind; - he put a stamp of his own
goodness upon them all. But now for the latter, - his giving himself as
an all-sufficient God, to be enjoyed by the creatures, to hold out all
that is in him for the satiating and making them blessed, - that is
alone discovered by and in Christ. In him he is a Father, a God in
covenant, wherein he has promised to lay out himself for them; in him
has he promised to give himself into their everlasting fruition, as
their exceeding great reward.
    And so I have insisted on the second sort of properties in God,
whereof, though we have some obscure glimpse in other things, yet the
clear knowledge of them, and acquaintance with them, is only to be had
in the Lord Christ.
    That which remaineth is, briefly to declare that not any of the
properties of God whatever can be known, savingly and to consolation,
but only in him; and so, consequently, all the wisdom of the knowledge
of God is hid in him alone, and from him to be obtained.
    2. There is no saving knowledge of any property of God, nor such
as brings consolation, but what alone is to be had in Christ Jesus,
being laid up in him, and manifested by him. Some eye the justice of
God, and know that this is his righteousness, that they which do such
things" (as sin) "are worthy of death," Rom. 1: 32. But this is to no
other end but to make them cry, "Who amongst us shall dwell with the
devouring fire?" Isa. 33: 14. Others fix upon his patience, goodness,
mercy, forbearance; but it does not at all lead them to repentance; but
"they despise the riches of his goodness, and after their hardness and
impenitent hearts treasure up unto themselves wrath against the day of
wrath," Rom. 2: 4, 5. Others, by the very works of creation and
providence, come to know "his eternal power and Godhead; but they
glorify him not as God, nor are thankful, but become vain in their
imagination, and their foolish hearts are darkened," Rom. 1: 20.
Whatever discovery men have of truth out of Christ, they "hold it
captive under unrighteousness," verse 18. Hence Jude tells us, verse
10, that "in what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things
they corrupt themselves."
    That we may have a saving knowledge of the properties of God,
attended with consolation, these three things are required: - (1.) That
God has manifested the glory of them all in a way of doing good unto
us. (2.) That he will yet exercise and lay them out to the utmost in
our behalf (3.) That, being so manifested and exercised, they are fit
and powerful to bring us to the everlasting fruition of himself; which
is our blessedness. Now, all these three lie hid in Christ; and the
least glimpse of them out of him is not to be attained.
    (1.) This is to be received, that God has actually manifested the
glory of all his attributes in a way of doing us good. What will it
avail our souls, what comfort will it bring unto us, what endearment
will it put upon our hearts unto God, to know that he is infinitely
righteous, just, and holy, unchangeably true and faithful, if we know
not how he may preserve the glory of his justice and faithfulness in
his comminations and threatening, but only in one ruin and destruction?
if we can from thence only say it is a righteous thing with him to
recompense tribulation unto us for our iniquities? What fruit of this
consideration had Adam in the garden? Gen. 3. What sweetness, what
encouragement, is there in knowing that he is patient and full of
forbearance, if the glory of these is to be exalted in enduring the
vessels of wrath fitted for destruction? nay, what will it avail us to
hear him proclaim himself "The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and
gracious, abundant in goodness and truth," yet, withal, that he will
"by no means clear the guilty," so shutting up the exercise of all his
other properties towards us, upon the account of our iniquity?
Doubtless, not at all. Under this naked consideration of the properties
of God, justice will make men fly and hide, Gen. 3; Isa. 2: 21, 33:
15,16; - patience, render them obdurate, Eccles. 8: 11. Holiness
utterly deters them from all thoughts of approach unto him, John 24:
19. What relief have we from thoughts of his immensity and
omnipresence, if we have cause only to contrive how to fly from him
(Ps. 139: 11, 12), if we have no pledge of his gracious presence with
us? This is that which brings salvation, when we shall see that God has
glorified all his properties in a way of doing us good. Now, this he
has done in Jesus Christ. In him has he made his justice glorious, in
making all our iniquities to meet upon him, causing him to bear them
all, as the scapegoat in the wilderness; not sparing him, but giving
him up to death for us all; - so exalting his justice and indignation
against sin in a way of freeing us from the condemnation of it, Rom. 3:
25, 8: 33, 34. In him has he made his truth glorious, and his
faithfulness, in the exact accomplishment of all his absolute
threatening and promises. That fountain-threat and combination whence
all others flow, Gen. 2: 17, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt
die the death;" seconded with a curse, Deut. 27: 26, "Cursed is every
one that continueth not," etc. [Gal. 3: 10] - is in him accomplished,
fulfilled, and the truth of God in them laid in a way to our good. He,
by the grace of God, tasted death for us, Heb. 2: 9; and so delivered
us who were subject to death, verse 15; and he has fulfilled the curse,
by being made a curse for us, Gal. 3: 13. So that in his very
threatening his truth is made glorious in a way to our good. And for
his promises, "They are all yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God
by us," 2 Cor. 1: 20. And for his mercy, goodness, and the riches of
his grace, how eminently are they made glorious in Christ, and advanced
for our good! God has set him forth to declare his righteousness for
the forgiveness of sin; he has made way in him for ever to exalt the
glory of his pardoning mercy towards sinners. To manifest this is the
great design of the gospel, as Paul admirably sets it out, Eph. 1: 5-8.
There must our souls come to an acquaintance with them, or for ever
live in darkness.
    Now, this is a saving knowledge, and full of consolation, when we
can see all the properties of God made glorious and exalted in a way of
doing us good. And this wisdom is hid only in Jesus Christ. Hence, when
he desired his Father to glorify his name, John 12: 24, - to make in
him his name (that is, his nature, his properties, his will) all
glorious in that work of redemption he had in hand, - he was instantly
answered from heaven, "I have both glorified it and will glorify it
again." He will give it its utmost glory in him.
    (2.) That God will yet exercise and lay out those properties of
his to the utmost in our behalf. Though he has made them all glorious
in a way that may tend to our good, yet it does not absolutely follow
that he will use them for our good; for do we not see innumerable
persons perishing everlastingly, notwithstanding the manifestation of
himself which God has made in Christ. Wherefore farther, God has
committed all his properties into the hand of Christ if I may so say,
to be managed in our behalf, and for our good. He is "The power of God,
and the wisdom of God;" he is "The LORD our Righteousness," and is
"made unto us of God wisdom, and righteousness, sanctification, and
redemption." Christ having glorified his Father in all his attributes,
he has now the exercise of them committed to him, that he might be the
captain of salvation to them that do believe; so that if, in the
righteousness, the goodness, the love, the mercy, the all-sufficiency
of God, there be any thing that will do us good, the Lord Jesus is
fully interested with the dispensing of it in our behalf. Hence God is
said to be "in him, reconciling the world unto himself," 2 Cor. 5: 18.
Whatever is in him, he layeth it out for the reconciliation of the
world, in and by the Lord Christ; and he becomes "The LORD our
Righteousness," Isa. 45: 24, 25. And this is the second thing required.
    (3.) There remaineth only, then, that these attributes of God, so
manifested and exercised, are powerful and able to bring us to the
everlasting fruition of him. To evince this, the Lord wraps up the
whole covenant of grace in one promise, signifying no less: "I will be
your God." In the covenant, God becomes our God, and we are his people;
and thereby all his attributes are ours also. And lest that we should
doubt - when once our eyes are opened to see in any measure the
inconceivable difficulty that is in this thing, what unimaginable
obstacles on all hands there lie against us - that all is not enough to
deliver and save us, God has, I say, wrapped it up in this expression,
Gen. 17: l, "I am," saith he, "God Almighty" (all-sufficient); - "I am
wholly able to perform all my undertakings, and to be thy exceeding
great reward. I can remove all difficulties, answer all objections,
pardon all sins, conquer all opposition: I am God all-sufficient." Now,
you know in whom this covenant and all the promises thereof are
ratified, and in whose blood it is confirmed, - to wit, in the Lord
Christ alone; in him only is God an all-sufficient God to any, and an
exceeding great reward. And hence Christ himself is said to "save to
the uttermost them that come to God by him," Heb. 7. And these three
things, I say, are required to be known, that we may have a saving
acquaintance, and such as is attended with consolation, with any of the
properties of God; and all these being hid only in Christ, from him
alone it is to be obtained.
    This, then, is the first part of our first demonstration, that all
true and sound wisdom and knowledge is laid up in the Lord Christ, and
from him alone to be obtained; because our wisdom, consisting, in a
main part of it, in the knowledge of God, his nature, and his
properties, this lies wholly hid in Christ, nor can possibly be
obtained but by him.
    II. For the knowledge of ourselves, which is the SECOND part of
our wisdom, this consists in these three things, which our Saviour
sends his Spirit to convince the world of, - even "sin, righteousness,
and judgement," John 16: 8. To know ourselves in reference unto these
three, is a main part of true and sound wisdom; for they all respect
the supernatural and immortal end whereunto we are appointed; and there
is none of these that we can attain unto but only in Christ.
    1. In respect of sin. There is a sense and knowledge of sin left
in the consciences of all men by nature. To tell them what is good and
evil in many things, to approve and disapprove of what they do, in
reference to a judgement to come, they need not go farther than
themselves, Rom. 2: 14, 15. But this is obscure, and relates mostly to
greater sins, and is in sum that which the apostle gives us, Rom. 1:
32, "They know the judgement of God, that they which do such things are
worthy of death." This he placeth among the common presumptions and
notions that are received by mankind, - namely, that it is "righteous
with God, that they who do such things are worthy of death." And if
that be true, which is commonly received, that no nation is so
barbarous or rude, but it retaineth some sense of a Deity; then this
also is true, that there is no nation but has a sense of sin, and the
displeasure of God for it. For this is the very first notion of God in
the world, that he is the rewarder of good and evil. Hence were all the
sacrifices, purgings, expiations, which were so generally spread over
the face of the earth. But this was and is but very dark, in respect of
that knowledge of sin with its appurtenances, which is to be obtained.
    A farther knowledge of sin, upon all accounts whatever, is giver
by the law; that law which was "added because of transgressions." This
revives doctrinally all that sense of good and evil which was at first
implanted in man; and it is a glass, whereinto whosoever is able
spiritually to look, may see sin in all its ugliness and deformity. The
truth is, look upon the law in its purity, holiness, compass, and
perfection; its manner of delivery, with dread, terror, thunder,
earthquakes, fire; the sanction of it, in death, curse, wrath; and it
makes a wonderful discovery of sin, upon every account: its pollution,
guilt, and exceeding sinfulness are seen by it. But yet all this does
not suffice to give a man a true and thorough conviction of sin. Not
but that the glass is clear, but of ourselves we have not eyes to look
into it; the rule is straight, but we cannot apply it: and therefore
Christ sends his Spirit to convince the world of sin, John 16: 8; who,
though, as to some ends and purposes, he makes use of the law, yet the
work of conviction, which alone is a useful knowledge of sin, is his
peculiar work. And so the discovery of sin may also be said to be by
Christ, - to be part of the wisdom that is hid in him. But yet there is
a twofold regard besides this, of his sending his Spirit to convince
us, wherein this wisdom appears to be hid in him: - First, because
there are some near concernments of sin, which are more clearly held
out in the Lord Christ's being made sin for us, than any other way.
Secondly, in that there is no knowledge to be had of sin, so as to give
it a spiritual and saving improvement, but only in him.
    For the first, there are four things in sin that clearly shine out
in the cross of Christ: - (1.) The desert of it. (2.) Man's impotency
by reason of it. (3.) The death of it. (4.) A new end put to it.
    (1.) The desert of sin does clearly shine in the cross of Christ
upon a twofold account: - [1.] Of the person suffering for it. [2.] Of
the penalty he underwent.
    [1.] Of the person suffering for it. This the Scripture oftentimes
very emphatically sets forth, and lays great weight upon: John 3: 16,
"God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son." It was
his only Son that God sent into the world to suffer for sin, Rom. 8:
32. "He spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all." To
see a slave beaten and corrected, it argues a fault committed; but yet
perhaps the demerit of it was not very great. The correction of a son
argues a great provocation; that of an only son, the greatest
imaginable. Never was sin seen to be more abominably sinful and full of
provocation, than when the burden of it was upon the shoulders of the
Son of God. God having made his Son, the Son of his love, his only
begotten, full of grace and truth, sin for us, to manifest his
indignation against it, and how utterly impossible it is that he should
let the least sin go unpunished, he lays hand on him, and spares him
not. If sin be imputed to the dear Son of his bosom, as upon his own
voluntary assumption of it it was (for he said to his Father, "Lo, I
come to do thy will," and all our iniquities did meet on him), [and] he
will not spare him any thing of the due desert of it; is it not most
clear from hence, even from the blood of the cross of Christ, that such
is the demerit of sin, that it is altogether impossible that God should
pass by any, the least, unpunished? If he would have done it for any,
he would have done it in reference to his only Son; but he spared him
not.
    Moreover, God is not at all delighted with, nor desirous of, the
blood, the tears, the cries, the inexpressible torments and sufferings,
of the Son of his love (for he delights not in the anguish of any, -
"he does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men," much
less the Son of his bosom); only he required that his law be fulfilled,
his justice satisfied, his wrath atoned for sin; and nothing less than
all this would bring it about. If the debt of sin might have been
compounded for at a cheaper rate, it had never been held up at the
price of the blood of Christ. Here, then, soul, take a view of the
desert of sin; behold it far more evident than in all the threatening
and curses of the law. "I thought, indeed," mayest thou say from
thence, "that sin, being found on such a poor worm as I am, was worthy
of death; but that it should have this effect if charged on the Son of
God, - that I never once imagined."
    [2.] Consider also, farther, what he suffered. For though he was
so excellent a one, yet perhaps it was but a light affliction and trial
that he underwent, especially considering the strength he had to bear
it. Why, whatever it were, it made this "fellow of the LORD of hosts,"
this "lion of the tribe of Judah," this "mighty one," "the wisdom and
power of God," to tremble, sweat, cry, pray, wrestle, and that with
strong supplications. Some of the popish devotionists tell us that one
drop, the least, of the blood of Christ, was abundantly enough to
redeem all the world; but they err, not knowing the desert of sin, nor
the severity of the justice of God. If one drop less than was shed, one
pang less than was laid on, would have done it, those other drops had
not been shed, nor those other pangs laid on. God did not cruciate the
dearly-beloved of his soul for nought. But there is more than all this:
-
    It pleased God to bruise him, to put him to grief, to make his
soul an offering for sin, and to pour out his life unto death. He hid
himself from him, - was far from the voice of his cry, until he cried
out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" He made him sin and a
curse for us; executed on him the sentence of the law; brought him into
an agony, wherein he sweat thick drops of blood, was grievously
troubled, and his soul was heavy unto death. He that was the power of
God, and the wisdom of God, went stooping under the burden, until the
whole frame of nature seemed astonished at it. Now this, as I said
before that it discovered the indignation of God against sin, so it
clearly holds out the desert of it. Would you, then, see the true
demerit of sin? - take the measure of it from the mediation of Christ,
especially his cross. It brought him who was the Son of God, equal unto
God, God blessed for ever, into the form of a servant, who had not
where to lay his head. It pursued him all his life with afflictions and
persecutions; and lastly brought him under the rod of God; there
bruised him and brake him, - slew the Lord of life. Hence is deep
humiliation for it, upon the account of him whom we have pierced. And
this is the first spiritual view of sin we have in Christ.
    (2.) The wisdom of understanding our impotency, by reason of sin,
is wrapped up in him. By our impotency, I understand two things: - [1.]
Our disability to make any atonement with God for sin. [2.] Our
disability to answer his mind and will, in all or any of the obedience
that he requireth, by reason of sin.
    [1.] For the first, that alone is discovered in Christ. Many
inquiries have the sons of men made after an atonement, - many ways
have they entered into to accomplish it. After this they inquire, Mic.
6: 6, 7, "Will any manner of sacrifices, though appointed of God, as
burnt-offerings, and calves of a year old; though very costly,
thousands of rams, and ten thousand rivers of oil; though dreadful and
tremendous, offering violence to nature, as to give my children to the
fire;" - will any of these things make an atonement? David does
positively, indeed, determine this business, P9. 49: 7, 8, "None of
them" of the best or richest of men) "can by any means redeem his
brother, nor give to God a ransom for him; for the redemption of their
soul is precious, and it ceaseth for ever." It cannot be done, - no
atonement can be made; yet men would still be doing, still attempting:
hence did they heap up sacrifices, some costly, some bloody and
inhuman. The Jews, to this day, think that God was atoned for sin by
the sacrifices of bulls and goats, and the like. And the Socinians
acknowledge no atonement, but what consists in men's repentance and new
obedience. In the cross of Christ are the mouths of all stopped as to
this thing. For, -
    1st. God has there discovered that no sacrifices for sin, though
of his own appointment, could ever make them perfect that offered them,
Heb. 10: 11. Those sacrifices could never take away sin; those services
could never make them perfect that performed them, as to the
conscience, Heb. 9: 9; as the apostle proves, chap. 10: 1. And thence
the Lord rejects all sacrifices and offerings whatever, as to any such
end and purpose, verses 6-8, Christ, in their stead, saying, "Lo, I
come;" and by him we are "justified from all things, from which we
could not be justified by the law," Acts 13: 39: God, I say, in Christ,
has condemned all sacrifices, as wholly insufficient in the least to
make an atonement for sin. And how great a thing it was to instruct the
sons of men in this wisdom, the event has manifested.
    2dly. He has also written vanity on all other endeavours whatever,
that have been undertaken for that purpose. Rom. 3: 24-26, by setting
forth his only Son "to be a propitiation," he leaves no doubt upon the
spirits of men that in themselves they could make no atonement; for "if
righteousness were by the law, then were Christ dead in vain." To what
purpose should he be made a propitiation, were not we ourselves weak
and without strength to any such purpose? So the apostle argues, Rom.
5: 6, when we had no power, then did he by death make an atonement; as
verses 8, 9.
    This, wisdom then, is also hid in Christ. Men may see by other
helps, perhaps, far enough to fill them with dread and astonishment, as
those in Isa. 33: 14; but such a sight and view of it as may lead a
soul to any comfortable settlement about it, - that only is discovered
in this treasury of heaven, the Lord Jesus.
    [2.] Our disability to answer the mind and will of God, in all or
any of the obedience that he requireth, is in him only to be
discovered. This, indeed, is a thing that many will not be acquainted
with to this day. To teach a man that he cannot do what he ought to do,
and for which he condemns himself if he do it not, is no easy task. Man
rises up with all his power to plead against a conviction of impotency.
Not to mention the proud conceits and expressions of the philosophers,
how many that would be called Christians do yet creep, by several
degrees, in the persuasion of a power of fulfilling the law! And from
whence, indeed, should men have this knowledge that we have not? Nature
will not teach it, - that is proud and conceited; and it is one part of
its pride, weakness, and corruption, not to know it at all. The law
will not teach it: for though that will show us what we have done
amiss, yet it will not discover to us that we could not do better; yea,
by requiring exact obedience of us, it takes for granted that such
power is in us for that purpose: it takes no notice that we have lost
it; nor does it concern it so to do. This, then, also lies hid in the
Lord Jesus. Rom. 8: 2-4, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could
not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son
in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the
flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us." The
law can bring forth no righteousness, no obedience; it is weak to any
such purpose, by reason of the flesh, and that corruption that is come
on us. These two things are done in Christ, and by him: - First, Sin is
condemned as to its guilt, and we set free from that; the righteousness
of the law by his obedience is fulfilled in us, who could never do it
ourselves. And, secondly, That obedience which is required of us, his
Spirit works it in us. So that that perfection of obedience which we
have in him is imputed to us; and the sincerity that we have in
obedience is from his Spirit bestowed on us. And this is the most
excellent glass, wherein we see our impotency; for what need we his
perfect obedience to be made ours, but that we have not, can not attain
any? what need we his Spirit of life to quicken us, but that we are
dead in trespasses and sins?
    (3.) The death of sin; - sin dying in us now, in some measure,
whilst we are alive. This is a third concernment of sin which it is our
wisdom to be acquainted with; and it is hid only in Christ. There is a
twofold dying of sin: - as to the exercise of it in our mortal members;
and as to the root, principle, and power of it in our souls. The first,
indeed, may be learned in part out of Christ. Christless men may have
sin dying in them, as to the outward exercise of it. Men's bodies may
be disabled for the service of their lusts, or the practice of them may
not consist with their interest. Sin is never more alive than when it
is thus dying. But there is a dying of it as to the root, the principle
of it, - the daily decaying of the strength, power, and life of it; and
this is to be had alone in Christ. Sin is a thing that of itself is not
apt to die or to decay, but to get ground, and strength, and life, in
the subject wherein it is, to eternity; prevent all its actual
eruptions, yet its original enmity against God will still grow. In
believers it is still dying and decaying, until it be utterly
abolished. The opening of this treasury [mystery] you have, Rom. 6: 3-
6, etc. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptised into Jesus
Christ were baptised into his death? Therefore we are buried with him
by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised from the dead by
the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of
life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his
death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; knowing
this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin
might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin." This is
the design of the apostle in the beginning of that chapter, not only to
manifest whence is the principle and rise of our mortification and the
death of sin, even from the death and blood of Christ; but also the
manner of sin's continuance and dying in us, from the manner of
Christ's dying for sin. He was crucified for us, and thereby sin was
crucified in us; he died for us, and the body of sin is destroyed, that
we should not serve sin; and as he was raised from the dead, that death
should not have dominion over him, so also are we raised from sin, that
it should not have dominion over us. This wisdom is hid in Christ only.
Moses at his dying day had all his strength and vigour; so have sin and
the law to all out of Jesus: at their dying day, sin is no way decayed.
Now, next to the receiving of the righteousness prepared for us, to
know this is the chiefest part of our wisdom. To be truly acquainted
with the principle of the dying of sin, to feel virtue and power
flowing from the cross of Christ to that purpose, to find sin crucified
in us, as Christ was crucified for us, - this is wisdom indeed, that is
in him alone.
    (4.) There is a glorious end whereunto sin is appointed and
ordained, and discovered in Christ, that others are unacquainted
withal. Sin in its own nature tends merely to the dishonour of God, the
debasement of his majesty, and the ruin of the creature in whom it is;
hell itself is but the filling of wretched creatures with the fruit of
their own devices. The combinations and threats of God in the law do
manifest one other end of it, even the demonstration of the vindictive
justice of God, in measuring out unto it a meets recompense of reward.
But here the law stays (and with it all other light) and discovers no
other use or end of it at all. In the Lord Jesus there is the
manifestation of another and more glorious end; to wit, the praise of
God's glorious grace in the pardon and forgiveness of it; - God having
taken order in Christ that that thing which tended merely to his
dishonour should be managed to his infinite glory, and that which of
all things he desireth to exalt, - even that he may be known and
believed to be a "God pardoning iniquity, transgression and sin." To
return, then, to this part of our demonstration: -
    In the knowledge of ourselves, in reference to our eternal
condition, does much of our wisdom consist. There is not any thing
wherein, in this depraved condition of nature, we are more concerned
than sin; without a knowledge of that, we know not ourselves. "Fools
make a mock of sin." A true saving knowledge of sin is to be had only
in the Lord Christ: in him may we see the desert of our iniquities, and
their pollution, which could not be borne or expiated but by his blood;
neither is there any wholesome view of these but in Christ. In him and
his cross is discovered our universal impotency, either of atoning
God's justice or living up to his will. The death of sin is procured
by, and discovered in, the death of Christ; as also the manifestation
of the riches of God's grace in the pardoning thereof. A real and
experimental acquaintance, as to ourselves, with all which, is our
wisdom; and it is that which is of more value than all the wisdom of
the world.
    2. Righteousness is a second thing whereof the Spirit of Christ
convinces the world, and the main thing that it is our wisdom to be
acquainted withal. This all men are persuaded of, that God is a most
righteous God; (that is a natural notion of God which Abraham insisted
on, Gen. 18: 25, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?") they
"know that this is the judgement of God, that they who commit such
things are worthy of death," Rom. 1: 32; that "it is a righteous thing
with him to recompense tribulation unto offenders," 2 Thess. 1: 6. He
is "a God of purer eyes than to behold evil," Hab. 1: 13; and
therefore, "the ungodly cannot stand in judgement," Ps. 1: 5. Hence the
great inquiry of every one (who lies in any measure under the power of
it), convinced of immortality and the judgement to come, is concerning
the righteousness wherewith to appear in the presence of this righteous
God. This more or less they are solicitous about all their days; and
so, as the apostle speaks, Heb. 2: 15, "through the fear of death they
are all their lifetime subject to bondage," they are perplexed with
fears about the issue of their righteousness, lest it should end in
death and destruction.
    (1.) Unto men set upon this inquiry, that which first and
naturally presents itself, for their direction and assistance,
assuredly promising them a righteousness that will abide the trial of
God, provided they will follow its direction, is the law. The law has
many fair pleas to prevail with a soul to close with it for a
righteousness before God. It was given out from God himself for that
end and purpose; it contains the whole obedience that God requireth of
any of the sons of men; it has the promise of life annexed to it: "Do
this, and live," "The doers of the law are justified;" and, "If thou
wilt enter into life, keep the commandments;" yea, it is most certain
that it must be wholly fulfilled, if we ever think to stand with
boldness before God. This being some part of the plea of the law, there
is no man that seeks after righteousness but does, one time or another,
attend to it, and attempt its direction. Many do it every day, who yet
will not own that so they do. This, then, they set themselves about, -
labouring to correct their lives, amend their ways, perform the duties
required, and so follow after a righteousness according to the
prescript of the law. And in this course do many men continue long with
much perplexity; - sometimes hoping, oftener fearing; sometimes ready
to give quite over; sometimes vowing to continue (their consciences
being no way satisfied, nor righteousness in any measure attained) all
their days. After they have wearied themselves perhaps for a long
season, in the largeness of their ways, they come at length, with fear,
trembling, and disappointment, to that conclusion of the apostle, "By
the works of the law no flesh is justified;" and with dread cry that if
God mark what is done amiss, there is no standing before him. That they
have this issue, the apostle witnesseth, Rom. 9: 31, 32, "Israel, who
followed after the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of
righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as
it were by the works of the law." It was not solely for want of
endeavour in themselves that they were disappointed, for they earnestly
followed after the law of righteousness; but from the nature of the
thing itself, - it would not bear it. Righteousness was not to be
obtained that way; "For," saith the apostle, "if they which are of the
law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect;
because the law worketh wrath," Rom. 4: 14, 15. The law itself is now
such as that it cannot give life, Gal. 3: 21, "If there had been a law
given which would have given life, verily righteousness should have
been by the law." And he gives the reason in the next verse why it
could not give life; because "the Scripture concludes all under sin;"
that is, it is very true, and the Scripture affirms it, that all men
are sinners, and the law speaks not one word to sinners but death and
destruction: therefore the apostle tells us plainly, that God himself
found fault with this way of attaining righteousness, Heb. 8: 7, 8. He
complains of it; that is, he declares it insufficient for that end and
purpose.
    Now, there are two considerations that discover unto men the
vanity and hopelessness of seeking righteousness in this path: -
    [1.] That they have already sinned: "For all have sinned, and come
short of the glory of God," Rom. 3: 23. This they are sufficiently
sensible of, that although they could for the time to come fulfil the
whole law, yet there is a score, a reckoning, upon them already, that
they know not how to answer for. Do they consult their guide, the law
itself, how they may be eased of the account that is past? it has not
one word of direction or consolation; but bids them prepare to die. The
sentence is gone forth, and there is no escaping.
    [2.] That if all former debts should be blotted out, yet they are
no way able for the future to fulfil the law; they can as well move the
earth with a finger, as answer the perfection thereof: and therefore,
as I said, on this twofold account, they conclude that this labour is
lost. "By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."
    (2.) Wherefore, secondly, Being thus disappointed, by the severity
and inexorableness of the law, men generally retake themselves to some
other way, that may satisfy them as to those considerations which took
them off from their former hopes; and this, for the most part, is by
fixing themselves upon some ways of atonement to satisfy God, and
helping out the rest with hopes of mercy. Not to insist on the ways of
atonement and expiation which the Gentiles had pitched on; nor on the
many ways and inventions - by works satisfactory at their own,
supererogations of others, indulgences, and purgatory in the close -
that the Papists have found out for this end and purpose; it is, I say,
proper to all convinced persons, as above, to seek for a righteousness,
partly by an endeavour to satisfy for what is past, and partly by
hoping after general mercy. This the apostle calls a seeking for it "as
it were by the works of the law," Rom. 9: 32; not directly, "but as it
were" by the works of the law, making up one thing with another. And he
tells us what issue they have in this business, chap. 10: 3, "Being
ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own
righteousness, they have not submitted themselves unto the
righteousness of God." They were by it enemies to the righteousness of
God. The ground of this going about to establish their own
righteousness was, that they were ignorant of the righteousness of God.
Had they known the righteousness of God, and what exact conformity to
his will he requireth, they had never undertaken such a fruitless
business as to have compassed it "as it were by the works of the law."
Yet this many will stick on a long time. Something they do, something
they hope for; some old faults they will buy off with new obedience.
And this pacifies their consciences for a season; but when the Spirit
comes to convince them of righteousness, neither will this hold.
Wherefore, -
    (3.) The matter comes at length to this issue, - they look upon
themselves under this twofold qualification; as, -
    [1.] Sinners, obnoxious to the law of God and the curse thereof;
so that unless that be satisfied, that nothing from thence shall ever
be laid to their charge, it is altogether in vain once to seek after an
appearance in the presence of God.
    [2.] As creatures made to a supernatural and eternal end; and
therefore bound to answer the whole mind and will of God in the
obedience required at their hands. Now, it being before discovered to
them that both these are beyond the compass of their own endeavours,
and the assistance which they have formerly rested on, if their eternal
condition be of any concernment to them, their wisdom is, to find out a
righteousness that may answer both these to the utmost.
    Now, both these are to be had only in the Lord Christ, who is our
righteousness. This wisdom, and all the treasures of it, are hid in
him.
    1st. He expiates former iniquities, he satisfies for sin, and
procures remission of it. Rom. 3: 24, 25, "Being justified freely by
his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God has
set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare
his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the
forbearance of God." "All we like sheep," etc., Isa. 53: 6. "Through
his blood we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins," Eph. 1: 7. "God
spared not his own Son, but delivered," etc., Rom. 8: 32. This, even
this alone, is our righteousness; as to that first part of it which
consists in the removal of the whole guilt of sin, whereby we are come
short of the glory of God. On this account it is that we are assured
that none shall ever lay any thing to our charge, or condemn us, Rom.
8: 33, 34, - there being "no condemnation to them that are in Christ
Jesus," verse 1. We are purged by the sacrifice of Christ, so as to
have "no more conscience of sin," Heb. 10: 2; that is, troubles in
conscience about it. This wisdom is hid only in the Lord Jesus; in him
alone is there an atonement discovered: and give me the wisdom which
shall cut all scores concerning sin, and let the world take what
remains. But, -
    2dly. There is yet something more required; it is not enough that
we are not guilty, we must also be actually righteous; - not only all
sin is to be answered for, but all righteousness is to be fulfilled. By
taking away the guilt of sin, we are as persons innocent; but something
more is required to make us to be considered as persons obedient. I
know nothing to teach me that an innocent person shall go to heaven, be
rewarded, if he be no more but so. Adam was innocent at his first
creation, but he was to "do this," to "keep the commandments," before
he entered into "life:" he had no title to life by innocence. This,
then, moreover, is required, that the whole law be fulfilled, and all
the obedience performed that God requires at our hands. This is the
soul's second inquiry; and it finds a resolution only in the Lord
Christ: "For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the
death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his
life," Rom 5: 10. His death reconciled us; then are we saved by his
life. The actual obedience which he yielded to the whole law of God, is
that righteousness whereby we are saved; if so be we are found in him,
not having on our own righteousness which is of the law, but the
righteousness which is of God by faith, Phil. 3: 9. This I shall have
occasion to handle more at large hereafter.
    To return, then: It is not, I suppose, any difficult task to
persuade men, convinced of immortality and judgement to come, that the
main of their wisdom lies in this, even to find out such a
righteousness as will accompany them for ever, and abide the severe
trial of God himself. Now, all the wisdom of the world is but folly, as
to the discovery of this thing. The utmost that man's wisdom can do, is
but to find out most wretched, burdensome, and vexatious ways of
perishing eternally. All the treasures of this wisdom are hid in
Christ; he "of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness," 1 Cor. 1:
30.
    3. Come we to the last thing, which I shall but touch upon; and
that is judgement. The true wisdom of this also is hid in the Lord
Christ; I mean, in particular, that judgement that is for to come: so
at present I take the word in that place, [John 16: 8.] Of what
concernment this is to us to know, I shall not speak; - it is that
whose influence upon the sons of men is the principle of their
discriminating themselves from the beasts that perish. Neither shall I
insist on the obscure intimations of it which are given by the present
proceedings of Providence in governing the world; nor that greater
light of it which shines in the threats and promises of the law. The
wisdom of it is in two regards hid in the Lord Jesus: - (1.) As to the
truth of it. (2.) As to the manner of it: -
    (1.) For the truth of it; and so in and by him it is confirmed,
and that two ways: - [1.] By his death. [2.] By his resurrection: -
    [1.] By his death. God, in the death of Christ, punishing and
condemning sin in the flesh of his own Son, in the sight of men,
angels, and devils, has given an abundant assurance of a righteous and
universal judgement to come; wherefore, or upon what account
imaginable, could he be induced to lay such a load on him, but that he
will certainly reckon one day with the sons of men for all their works,
ways, and walkings before him. The death of Christ is a most solemn
exemplar of the last judgement. Those who own him to be the Son of God,
will not deny a judgement to come.
    [2.] By his resurrection. Acts 17: 31, "Pistin paraschon pasin", -
he has given faith and assurance of this thing to all, by raising
Christ from the dead, having appointed him to be the judge of all; in
whom and by whom he will judge the world in righteousness. And then, -
    (2.) And, lastly, for the manner of it: that it shall be by him
who has loved us, and given himself for us, - who is himself the
righteousness that he requires of our hands; and on the other side, by
him who has been, in his person, grace, ways, worship, servants,
reviled, despised, condemned by the men of the world; - which holds out
unspeakable consolation on the one hand, and terror on the other: so
that the wisdom of this also is hid in Christ.
    And this is the second part of our first demonstration. Thus the
knowledge of ourselves, in reference to our supernatural end, is no
small portion of our wisdom. The things of the greatest concernment
hereunto are, sin, righteousness, and judgement; the wisdom of all
which is alone hid in the Lord Jesus: which was to be proved.
    III. The THIRD part of our wisdom is to walk with God. Now, that
one may walk with another, six things are required: - 1. Agreement. 2.
Acquaintance. 3. A way. 4. Strength. 5. Boldness. 6. An aiming at the
same end. All these, with the wisdom of them, are hid in the Lord
Jesus.
    1. Agreement. The prophet tells us that two cannot walk together
unless they be agreed, Amos 3: 3. Until agreement be made, there is no
communion, no walking together. God and man by nature (or whilst man is
in the state of nature) are at the greatest enmity. He declares nothing
to us but wrath, Rom. 1: 18; whence we are said to be children of it;
that is, born obnoxious to it, Eph. 2: 3: and whilst we remain in that
condition, "the wrath of God abideth on us," John 3: 36. All the
discovery that God makes of himself unto us is, that he is
inexpressibly provoked; and therefore preparing wrath against the day
of wrath, and the revelation of his righteous judgement. The day of his
and sinners' meeting, is called "The day of wrath," Rom. 2: 5, 6.
Neither do we come short in our enmity against him; yea, we first began
it, and we continue longest in it. To express this enmity, the apostle
tells us, that our very minds, the best part of us, are "enmity against
God," Rom. 8: 7, 8; and that we neither are, nor will, nor can be,
subject to him; our enmity manifesting itself by universal rebellion
against him: whatever we do that seems otherwise, is but hypocrisy or
flattery; yea, it is a part of this enmity to lessen it. In this state
the wisdom of walking with God must needs be most remote from the soul.
e is a "light, and in him is no darkness at all;" we are darkness, and
in us there is no light at all. He is life, a "living God;" we are
dead, dead sinners, - dead in trespasses and sin. He is "holiness," and
glorious in it; we wholly defiled, - an abominable thing. He is "love;"
we full of hatred, - hating and being hated. Surely this is no
foundation for agreement, or, upon that, of walking together: nothing
can be more remote than this frame from such a condition. The
foundation, then, of this, I say, is laid in Christ, hid in Christ.
"He," saith the apostle, "is our peace; he has made peace" for us, Eph.
2: 14, 15. He slew the enmity in his own body on the cross, verse 16.
    (1.) He takes out of the way the cause of the enmity that was
between God and us, - sin and the curse of the law. He makes an end of
sin, and that by making atonement for iniquity, Dan. 9: 24; and he
blotteth out the hand-writing of ordinances, Col. 2: 14, redeeming us
from the curse, by "being made a curse for us," Gal. 3: 13.
    (2.) He destroys him who would continue the enmity, and make the
breach wider, Heb. 2: 14) "Through death he destroyed him that had the
power of death, that is, the devil;" and, Col. 2: 15, "spoiled
principalities and powers."
    (3.) He made "reconciliation for the sins of the people," Heb. 2:
17; he made by his blood an atonement with God, to turn away that wrath
which was due to us, so making peace. Hereupon God is said to be "in
Christ, reconciling the world unto himself," 2 Cor. 5: 19; - being
reconciled himself, verse 18, he lays down the enmity on his part, and
proceeds to what remains, - to slay the enmity on our part, that we
also may be reconciled. And this also, -
    (4.) He does; for, Rom. 5: 11, "By our Lord Jesus Christ we do
receive the atonement," accept of the peace made and tendered, Laying
down our enmity to God; and so confirming an agreement betwixt us in
his blood. So that "through him we have an access unto the Father,"
Eph. 2: 18. Now, the whole wisdom of this agreement, without which
there is no walking with God, is hid in Christ; out of him God on his
part is a consuming fire, - we are as stubble fully dry, yet setting
ourselves in battle array against that fire: if we are brought together
we are consumed. All our approaching to him out of Christ are but to
our detriment; in his blood alone have we this agreement. And let not
any of us once suppose that we have taken any step in the paths of God
with him, that any one duty is accepted, that all is not lost as to
eternity, if we have not done it upon the account hereof.
    2. There is required acquaintance, also, to walking together. Two
may meet together in the same way, and have no quarrel between them, no
enmity; but if they are mere strangers one to another, they pass by
without the least communion together. It does not suffice that the
enmity betwixt God and us be taken away; we must also have acquaintance
given us with him. Our not knowing of him is a great cause and a great
part of our enmity. Our understandings are "darkened," and we are
"alienated from the life of God," etc., Eph. 4: 18. This also, then,
must be added, if we ever come to walk with God, which is our wisdom.
And this also is hid in the Lord Christ, and comes forth from him. It
is true there are sundry other means, as his word and his works, that
God has given the sons of men, to make a discovery of himself unto
them, and to give them some acquaintance with him, that, as the apostle
speaks, Acts 17: 27, "they should seek the Lord, if happy they might
find him;" but yet, as that knowledge of God which we have by his works
is but very weak and imperfect, so that which we have by the word, the
letter of it, by reason of our blindness, is not saving to us if we
have no other help; for though that be light as the sun in the
firmament, yet if we have no eyes in our heads, what can it avail us? -
no saving acquaintance with him, that may direct us to walk with him,
can be obtained. This also is hid in the Lord Jesus, and comes forth
from him, 1 John 5: 20, "He has given us an understanding, that we
should know him that is true;" - all other light whatever without his
giving us an understanding, will not do it. He is the true Light, which
lighteth every one that is enlightened, John 1: 9. He opens our
understandings that we may understand the Scriptures, Luke 24: 45; -
none has known God at any time, "but he has revealed him," John 1: 18.
God dwells in that "light which no man can approach unto," 1 Tim. 6:
16. None has ever had any such acquaintance with him as to be said to
have seen him, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Hence he tells
the Pharisees, that notwithstanding all their great knowledge which
they pretended, indeed they had "neither heard the voice of God at any
time, nor seen his shape," John 5: 37. They had no manner of spiritual
acquaintance with God, but he was unto them as a man whom they had
never heard nor seen. There is no acquaintance with God, as love, and
full of kindness, patience, grace, and pardoning mercy (on which
knowledge of him alone we can walk with him), but only in Christ; but
of this fully before. This, then, also is hid in him.
    3. There must, moreover, be a way wherein we must walk with God.
God did at the beginning assign us a path to walk in with him, even the
path of innocence and exact holiness, in a covenant of works. This
path, by sin, is so filled with thorns and briers, so stopped up by
curses and wrath, that no flesh living can take one step in that path;
a new way for us to walk in must be found out, if ever we think to hold
communion with God. And this also lies upon the former account. It is
hid in Christ. All the world cannot, but by and in him, discover a path
that a man may walk one step with God in. And therefore the Holy Ghost
tells us that Christ has consecrated, dedicated, and set apart for that
purpose, "a new and living way" into the holiest of all, Heb. 10: 20; a
new one, for the first, old one was useless; a living one, for the
other is dead: therefore, saith he, verse 22, "Let us draw near;"
having a way to walk in, let us draw near. And this way that he has
prepared is no other but himself, John 14: 6. In answer to them who
would go to the Father, and hold communion with him, he tells them, "I
am the way; and no man comes to the Father but by me." He is the medium
of all communication between God and us. In him we meet, in him we
walk. All influences of love, kindness, mercy, from God to us, are
through him; all our returns of love, delight, faith, obedience unto
God, are all through him; - he being that "one way" God so often
promiseth his people: and it is a glorious way, Isa. 35: 8, - a high
way, a way of holiness, a way that none can err in that once enter it;
which is farther set out, Isa. 42: 16. All other ways, all paths but
this, go down to the chambers of death; they all lead to walk contrary
to God.
    4. But suppose all this, - that agreement be made, acquaintance
given, and a way provided; yet if we have no strength to walk in that
way, what will all this avail us? This also, then, must be added; of
ourselves we are of no strength, Rom. 5: 6, - poor weaklings, not able
to go a step in the ways of God. When we are set in the way, either we
throw ourselves down, or temptations cast us down, and we make no
progress: and the Lord Jesus tells us plainly, that "without him we can
do nothing," John 15: 5; not any thing at all that shall have the least
acceptation with God. Neither can all the creatures in heaven and earth
yield us the least assistance. Men's contending to do it in their own
power, comes to nothing. This part of this, wisdom also is hid in
Christ. All strength to walk with God is from him. "I can do all things
through Christ, which strengtheneth me," saith St. Paul, Phil. 4: 13,
who denies that of ourselves we have any sufficiency, 2 Cor. 3: 5. We
that can do nothing in ourselves, we are such weaklings, can do all
things in Jesus Christ, as giants; and therefore in him we are, against
all oppositions in our way, "more than conquerors," Rom. 8: 37; and
that because "from his fulness we receive grace for grace," John 1: 16.
From him have we the Spirit of life and power, whereby he bears, as on
eagles' wings, swiftly, safely, in the paths of walking with God. Any
step that is taken in any way, by strength that is not immediately from
Christ, is one step towards hell. He first takes us by the arm and
teaches us to go, until he leads us on to perfection. He has milk and
strong meat to feed us; he strengthens us with all might, and is with
us in our running the race that is set before us. But yet, -
    5. Whence should we take this confidence as to walk with God; even
our God, who is "a consuming fire?" Heb. 12: 29. Was there not such a
dread upon his people of old, that it was taken for granted among them
that if they saw God at any time, it was not to be endured, - they must
die? Can any, but with extreme horror, think of that dreadful
appearance that he made unto them of old upon mount Sinai; until Moses
himself, who was their mediator, said, "I exceedingly fear and quake?"
Heb. 12: 21, and all the people said, "Let not God speak with us, lest
we die?" Exod. 20: 19. Nay, though men have apprehensions of the
goodness and kindness of God, yet upon any discovery, of his glory, how
do they tremble, and are filled with dread and astonishment! Has it not
been so with the "choicest of his saints?" Hab. 3: 16; Isa. 6: 5; Job
42: 5, 6. Whence, then, should we take to ourselves this boldness, to
walk with God? This the apostle will inform us in Heb. 10: 19; it is
"by the blood of Jesus:" so Eph. 3: 12, "In him we have boldness, and
access with confidence;" - not standing afar off, like the people at
the giving of the law, but drawing nigh to God with boldness; and that
upon this account: - The dread and terror of God entered by sin; Adam
had not the least thought of hiding himself until he had sinned. The
guilt of sin being on the conscience, and this being a common notion
left in the hearts of all, that God is a most righteous revenger
thereof; this fills men with dread and horror at an apprehension of his
presence, fearing that he is come to call their sins to remembrance.
Now, the Lord Jesus, by the sacrifice and the atonement that he has
made, has taken away this conscience of sin; that is, a dread of
revenge from God upon the account of the guilt thereof. He has removed
the slaying sword of the law, and on that account gives us great
boldness with God; discovering him unto us now, no longer as a
revenging Judge, but as a tender, merciful, and reconciled Father.
Moreover, whereas there is on us by nature a spirit of bondage, filling
us with innumerable tormenting fears, he takes it away, and gives us
"the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father," and behave
ourselves with confidence and gracious boldness, as children: for
"where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty," 2 Cor. 3: 17; that
is, a freedom from all that dread and terror which the administration
of the law brought with it. Now, as there is no sin that God will more
severely revenge than any boldness that man takes with him out of
Christ; so there is no grace more acceptable to him than that boldness
which he is pleased to afford us in the blood of Jesus. There is, then,
-
    6. But one thing more to add; and that is, that two cannot walk
together unless they have the same design in hand, and aim at the same
end. This also, in a word, is given us in the Lord Jesus. The end of
God is the advancement of his own glory; none can aim at this end, but
only in the Lord Jesus. The sum of all is, that the whole wisdom of our
walking with God is hid in Christ, and from him only to be obtained; as
has been manifest by an enumeration of particulars.
    And so have I brought my first demonstration of what I intended
unto a close, and manifested that all true wisdom and knowledge is laid
up in, and laid out by, the Lord Jesus; and this by an induction of the
chief particular heads of those things wherein confessedly our wisdom
does consist. I have but one more to add, and therein I shall be brief.
    SECONDLY, then, I say this truth will be farther manifested by the
consideration of the insufficiency and vanity of any thing else that
may lay claim or pretend to a title to wisdom.
    There be two things in the world that do pass under this account:
- 1. The one is learning or literature; skill and knowledge of arts,
sciences, tongues, with the knowledge of the things that are past. 2.
prudence and skill for the management of ourselves in reference to
others, in civil affairs, for public good; which is much the fairest
flower within the border of nature's garden. Now, concerning both
these, I shall briefly evince, - (1.) That they are utterly
insufficient for the compassing and obtaining of those particular ends
whereunto they are designed. (2.) That both of them in conjunction,
with their utmost improvement, cannot reach the true general end of
wisdom. Both which considerations will set the crown, in the issue,
upon the head of Jesus Christ: -
    1. Begin we with the first of these, and that as to the first
particular. Learning itself, if it were all in one man, is not able to
compass the particular end whereto it is designed; which writes "vanity
and vexation" upon the forehead thereof.
    The particular end of literature (though not observed by many,
men's eyes being fixed on false ends, which compels them in their
progress "aberrare a scopo") is none other but to remove some part of
that curse which is come upon us by sin. Learning is the product of the
soul's struggling with the curse for sin. Adam, at his first creation,
was completely furnished with all that knowledge (excepting only things
not then in being, neither in themselves nor in any natural causes, as
that which we now call tongues, and those things that are the subject
of story), as far as it lies in a needful tendency to the utmost end of
man, which we now press after. There was no straitness, much less
darkness, upon his understanding, that should make him sweat for a way
to improve, and make out those general conceptions of things which he
had. For his knowledge of nature, it is manifest, from his imposition
of suitable names on all the creatures (the particular reasons of the
most of which to us are lost); wherein, from the approbation given of
his nomination of things in the Scripture, and the significance of what
yet remains evident, it is most apparent it was done upon a clear
acquaintance with their natures. Hence Plato could observe, that he was
most wise that first imposed names on things; yea, had more than human
wisdom. Were the wisest man living, yea, a general collection of all
the wise men in the world, to make an experiment of their skill and
]earning, in giving names to all living creatures, suitable to their
natures and expressive of their qualities, they would quickly perceive
the loss they have incurred. Adam was made perfect, for the whole end
of ruling the creatures and living to God, for which he was made;
which, without the knowledge of the nature of the one and the will of
the other, he could not be. All this being lost by sin, a
multiplication of tongues also being brought in, as a curse for an
after rebellion, the whole design of learning is but to disentangle the
soul from this issue of sin. Ignorance, darkness, and blindness, is
come upon the understanding; acquaintance with the works of God,
spiritual and natural, is lost; strangeness of communication is given,
by multiplication of tongues; tumultuating of passions and affections,
with innumerable darkening prejudices, are also come upon us. To remove
and take this away - to disentangle the mind in its seasonings, to
recover an acquaintance with the works of God, to subduct the soul from
under the effects of the curse of division of tongues - is the aim and
tendency of literature. This is the "aliquid quo tendit;" and he that
has any other aim in it, "Passim sequitur corvum testaque lotoque."
Now, not to insist upon that vanity and vexation of spirit, with the
innumerable evils wherewith this enterprise is attended, this is that I
only say, it is in itself no way sufficient for the attainment of its
end, which writes vanity upon its forehead with characters not to be
obliterated. To this purpose I desire to observe these two things: -
    (1.) That the knowledge aimed at to be recovered was given unto
man in order to his walking with God, unto that supernatural end
whereunto he was appointed. For after he was furnished with all his
endowments, the law of life and death was given to him, that he might
know wherefore he received them. Therefore, knowledge in him was
spiritualized and sanctified: even that knowledge which he had by
nature, in respect of its principle and end, was spiritual.
    (2.) That the loss of it is part of that curse which was inflicted
on us for sin. Whatever we come short in of the state of the first man
in innocence, whether in loss of good or addition of evil, it is all of
the curse for sin. Besides, that blindness, ignorance, darkness,
deadness, which is everywhere ascribed to us in the state of nature,
does fully comprise that also whereof we speak.
    On these two considerations it is most apparent that learning can
no way of itself attain the end it aimeth at. For, -
    [1.] That light which by it is discovered (which, the Lord knows,
is very little, weak, obscure, imperfect, uncertain, conjectural, for a
great part only enabling men to quarrel with and oppose one another, to
the reproach of reason, yet I say, that which is attained by it) is not
in the least measure by it spiritualized, or brought into that order of
living to God, and with God, wherein at first it lay. This is wholly
beyond its reach. As to this end, the apostle assures us that the
utmost issue that men come to, is darkness and folly, Rom. 1: 21, 22.
Who knows not the profound inquiries, the subtile disputations, the
acute seasonings, the admirable discoveries of Socrates, Plato, and
Aristotle, and others? What, as to the purpose in hand, did they attain
by all their studies and endeavours? "Emorantesan", says the apostle, -
"They became fools." He that, by general consent, bears the crown of
reputation for wisdom from them all, with whom to have lived was
counted an inestimable happiness, died like a fool, sacrificing a cock
to AEsculapius. And another [apostle assures us], that Jesus Christ
alone is "the true Light," that lighteth us, John 1: 9. And there is
not any that has any true light, but what is immediately from him.
After all the learning of men, if they have nothing else, they are
still natural men, and perceive not the things of God. Their light is
still but darkness; and how great is that darkness! It is the Lord
Jesus alone who is anointed to open the eyes of the blind. Men cannot
spiritualize a notion, nor lay it in any order to the glorifying of
God. After all their endeavours, they are still blind and dark, yea,
darkness itself, knowing nothing as they should. I know how the men of
these attainments are apt to say, "Are we blind also?" with great
contempt of others; but God has blasted all their pride: "Where," saith
he, "is the wise? where is the scribe," etc., 1 Cor 1: 20. I shall not
add what Paul has farther cautioned us, to the seeming condemning of
philosophy as being fitted to make spoil of souls; nor what Tertullian
with some other of the ancients have spoken of it; being very confident
that it was the abuse, and not the true use and advantage of it, that
they opposed. But, -
    [2.] The darkness and ignorance that it strives to remove, being
come upon us as a curse, it is not in the least measure, as it is a
curse, able to remove it or take it away. He that has attained to the
greatest height of literature, yet if he has nothing else, - if he have
not Christ, - is as much under the curse of blindness, ignorance,
stupidity, dullness, as the poorest, silliest soul in the world. The
curse is only removed in him who was made a curse for us. Every thing
that is penal is taken away only by him on whom all our sins did meet
in a way of punishment; yea, upon this account. The more abilities the
mind is furnished withal, the more it closes with the curse, and
strengthens itself to act its enmity against God. All that it receives
does but help it to set up high thoughts and imaginations against the
Lord Christ. So that this knowledge comes short of what in particular
it is designed unto; and therefore cannot be that solid wisdom we are
inquiring after.
    There be sundry other things whereby it were easy to blur the
countenance of this wisdom; and, from its intricacy, difficulty,
uncertainty, unsatisfactoriness, - betraying its followers into that
which they most profess to avoid, blindness and folly, - to write upon
it "vanity and vexation of spirit." I hope I shall not need to add any
thing to clear myself for not giving a due esteem and respect unto
literature, my intendment being only to cast it down at the feet of
Jesus Christ, and to set the crown upon his head.
    2. Neither can the second part of the choicest wisdom out of
Christ attain the peculiar end whereunto it is appointed; and that is
prudence in the management of civil affairs, - than which no perishing
thing is more glorious, - nothing more useful for the common good of
human kind. Now, the immediate end of this prudence is to keep the
rational world in bounds and order, to draw circles about the sons of
men, and to keep them from passing their allotted bounds and limits, to
the mutual disturbance and destruction of each other. All manner of
trouble and disturbance ariseth from irregularity: one man breaking in
upon the rights, usages, interests, relations of another, sets this
world at variance. The sum and aim of all wisdom below is, to cause all
things to move in their proper sphere, whereby it would be impossible
there should be any more interfering than is in the celestial orbs,
notwithstanding all their divers and various motions: to keep all to
their own allotments, within the compass of the lines that are fallen
unto them, is the special end of this wisdom.
    Now, it will be a very easy task, to demonstrate that all civil
prudence whatever (besides the vexation of its attainment, and loss
being attained) is no way able to compass this end. The present
condition of affairs throughout the world, as also that of former ages,
will abundantly testify it; but I shall farther discover the vanity of
it for this end in some few observations. And the
    (1.) First is, That, through the righteous judgement of God
lopping off the top flowers of the pride of men, it frequently comes to
pass that those who are furnished with the greatest abilities of this
kind do lay them out to a direct contrary end unto that which is their
natural tendency and aim. From whom, for the most part, are all the
commotions in the world, - the breaking up of bounds, setting the whole
frame of nature on fire? is it not from such men as these. Were not men
so wise, the world, perhaps, would be more quiet, when the end of
wisdom is to keep it in quietness. This seems to be a curse that God
has spread upon the wisdom of the world, in the most in whom it is,
that it shall be employed in direct opposition to its proper end.
    (2.) That God has made this a constant path towards the
advancement of his own glory, even to leaven the wisdom and the
counsels of the wisest of the sons of men with folly and madness, that
they shall, in the depth of their policy, advise things for the
compassing of the ends they do propose as unsuitable as any thing that
could proceed out of the mouth of a child or a fool, and as directly
tending to their own disappointment and ruin as any thing that could be
invented against them. "He destroys the wisdom of the wise, and brings
to nothing the understanding of the prudent," 1 Cor. 1: 19. This he
largely describes, Isa. 19: 11-14. Drunkenness and staggering is the
issue of all their wisdom; and that upon this account, - the Lord gives
them the spirit of giddiness. So also Job 5: 12-14. They meet with
darkness in the day-time: when all things seem clear about them, and a
man would wonder how men should miss their way, then will God make it
darkness to such as these. So Ps. 33: 10. Hence God, as it were, sets
them at work, and undertakes their disappointment, Isa. 8: 9, 10, "Go
about your counsels," saith the Lord, "and I will take order that it
shall come to nought." And, Ps. 2: 3, 4, when men are deep at their
plots and contrivances, God is said to have them in derision, to laugh
them to scorn, seeing the poor worms industriously working out their
own ruin. Never was this made more clear than in the days wherein we
live. Scarcely have any wise men been brought to destruction, but it
has evidently been through their own folly; neither has the wisest
counsel of most been one jot better than madness.
    (3.) That this wisdom, which should tend to universal quietness,
has almost constantly given universal disquietness unto themselves in
whom it has been most eminent. "In much wisdom is much grief," Eccles.
1: 18. And in the issue, some of them have made away with themselves,
as Ahithophel; and the most of them have been violently dispatched by
others. There is, indeed, no end of the folly of this wisdom. The great
men of the world carry away the reputation of it; - really it is found
in few of them. They are, for the most part, common events, whereunto
they contribute not the least mite, which are ascribed to their care,
vigilance, and foresight. Mean men, that have learned to adore what is
above them, reverence the meetings and conferences of those who are in
greatness and esteem. Their weakness and folly is little known. Where
this wisdom has been most eminent, it has dwelt so close upon the
borders of atheism, been attended with such falseness and injustice,
that it has made its possessors wicked and infamous.
    I shall not need to give any more instances to manifest the
insufficiency of this wisdom for the attaining of its own peculiar and
immediate end. This is the vanity of any thing whatever, - that it
comes short of the mark it is directed unto. It is far, then, from
being true and solid wisdom, seeing on the forehead thereof you may
read "Disappointment."
    And this is the first reason why true wisdom cannot consist in
either of these, - because they come short even of the particular and
immediate ends they aim at. But, -
    Secondly, Both these in conjunction, with their utmost
improvement, are not able to reach the true general end of wisdom. This
assertion also falleth under an easy demonstration, and it were a
facile thing to discover their disability and unsuitableness for the
true end of wisdom; but it is so professedly done by him who had the
largest portion of both of any of the sons of men (Solomon in his
Preacher), that I shall not any farther insist upon it.
    To draw, then, unto a close: - if true and solid wisdom is not in
the least to be found amongst these, if the pearl be not hid in this
field, if these two are but vanity and disappointment, it cannot but be
to no purpose to seek for it in any thing else below, these being
amongst them incomparably the most excellent; and therefore, with one
accord, let us set the crown of this wisdom on the head of the Lord
Jesus.
    Let the reader, then, in a few words, take a view of the tendency
of this whole digression. To draw our hearts to the more cheerful
entertainment of and delight in the Lord Jesus, is the aim thereof. If
all wisdom be laid up in him, and by an interest in him only to be
attained, - if all things beside him and without him that lay claim
thereto are folly and vanity, - let them that would be wise learn where
to repose their souls.




Chapter 4. Of communion with Christ in a conjugal relation in respect
     of consequential affections - His delight in his saints first
     insisted on, Isa. 62: 5; Cant. 3: 11 Prov. 8: 21 - Instance of
     Christ's delight in believers - He reveals his whole heart to
     them, John 15: 14, 16; himself, 1 John 14: 21; his kingdom;
     enables them to communicate their mind to him, giving them
     assistance, a way, boldness, Rom. 8: 26, 27 - The saints delight
     in Christ; this manifested Cant. 2: 7; 8: 6 - Cant. 3: 1-5, opened
     - Their delight in his servants and ordinances of worship for his
     sake.
    
    The communion begun, as before declared, between Christ and the
soul, is in the next place carried on by suitable consequential
affections, - affections suiting such a relation. Christ having given
himself to the soul, loves the soul; and the soul having given itself
unto Christ, loveth him also. Christ loves his own, yea, "loves them to
the end," John 13: l; and the saints they love Christ, they "love the
Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity," Eph. 6: 24.
    Now the love of Christ, wherewith he follows his saints, consists
in these four things: - I. Delight. 2. Valuation. 3. Pity, or
compassion. 4. Bounty. The love, also, of the saints unto Christ may be
referred to these four heads: - Delight; Valuation; Chastity; Duty.
    Two of these are of the same kind, and two distinct; as is
required in this relation, wherein all things stand not on equal terms.
    I. The first thing on the part of Christ is delight. Delight is
the flowing of love and joy, - the rest and complacence of the mind in
a suitable, desirable good enjoyed. Now, Christ delights exceedingly in
his saints: "As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy
God rejoice over thee," Isa. 62: 5. Hence he calleth the day of his
espousals, the day of the "gladness of his heart," Cant. 3: 11. It is
known that usually this is the most unmixed delight that the sons of
men are in their pilgrimage made partakers of. The delight of the
bridegroom in the day of his espousals is the height of what an
expression of delight can be carried unto. This is in Christ answerable
to the relation he takes us into. His heart is glad in us, without
sorrow. And every day whilst we live is his wedding-day. It is said of
him, Zeph. 3: 17, "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee" (that is,
dwelling amongst us, taking our nature, John 1: 14) "is mighty; he will
save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he
will joy over thee with singing;" which is a full description of
delight, in all the parts of it, - joy and exultation, rest and
complacence. "I rejoiced," saith he, "in the habitable parts of the
earth, and my delights were with the sons of men," Prov. 8: 31. The
thoughts of communion with the saints were the joy of his heart from
eternity. On the compact and agreement that was between his Father and
him, that he should divide a portion with the strong, and save a
remnant for his inheritance, his soul rejoiced in the thoughts of that
pleasure and delight which he would take in them, when he should
actually take them into communion with himself. Therefore in the
preceding verse it is said he was by him as "'amon", say we, "As one
brought up with him," "alumnus;" the LXX render it "harmodzousa", and
the Latin, with most other translations, "cuncta componens," or
"disponens". The word taken actively, signifies him whom another takes
into his care to breed up, and disposeth of things for his advantage.
So did Christ take us then into his care, and rejoiced in the thoughts
of the execution of his trust. Concerning them he saith, "Here will I
dwell, and here will I make my habitation for ever." For them has he
chosen for his temple and his dwelling-place, because he delighteth in
them. This makes him take them so nigh himself in every relation. As he
is God, they are his temple; as he is a king, they are his subjects, -
he is the king of saints; as he is a head, they are his body, - he is
the head of the church; as he is a first-born, he makes them his
brethren, - "he is not ashamed to call them brethren."
    I shall choose out one particular from among many as an instance
for the proof of this thing; and that is this: - Christ reveals his
secrets, his mind, unto his saints, and enables them to reveal the
secrets of their hearts to him, - an evident demonstration of great
delight. It was Samson's carnal delight in Delilah that prevailed with
him to reveal unto her those things which were of greatest concernment
unto him; he will not hide his mind from her, though it cost him his
life. It is only a bosom friend into whom we will unbosom ourselves
Neither is there, possibly, a greater evidence of delight in close
communion than this, that one will reveal his heart unto him whom he
takes into society, and not entertain him with things common and
vulgarly known. And therefore have I chose this instance, from amongst
a thousand that might be given, of this delight of Christ in his
saints.
    He, then, communicates his mind unto his saints, and unto them,
only; - his mind, the counsel of his love, the thoughts of his heart,
the purposes of his bosom, for our eternal good, - his mind, the ways
of his grace, the workings of his Spirit, the rule of his sceptre, And
the obedience of his gospel. All spiritual revelation is by Christ. He
is "the true Light, that lighteth every man that comes into the world,"
John 1: 9. He is the "Day-spring," the "Day-star," and the "Sun;" so
that it is impossible any light should be but by him. From him it is
that "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he shows
them his covenant," Ps. 25: 14; as he expresses it at large, John 15:
14, 15, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what
his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I
have heard of my Father I have made known unto you." He makes them as
his friends, and useth them as friends, - as bosom friends, in whom he
is delighted. He makes known all his mind unto them; every thing that
his Father has committed to him as Mediator to be revealed, Acts 20:
24. And the apostle declares how this is done, 1 Cor. 2: 10, 11, "God
has revealed these things unto us by his Spirit; for we have received
him, that we might know the things that are freely given us of God." He
sends us his Spirits as he promised, to make known his mind unto his
saints, and to lead them into all truth. And thence the apostle
concludes, "We have known the mind of Christ," verse l6; "for he useth
us as friends, and declareth it unto us," John 1: 18. There is not any
thing in the heart of Christ, wherein these his friends are concerned,
that he does not reveal to them. All his love, his good-will, the
secrets of his covenant, the paths of obedience, the mystery of faith,
is told them.
    And all this is spoken in opposition to unbelievers, with whom he
has no communion. These know nothing of the mind of Christ as they
ought: "The natural man receiveth not the things that are of God," 1
Cor. 2: 14. There is a wide difference between understanding the
doctrine of the Scripture as in the letter, and a true knowing the mind
of Christ. This we have by special unction from Christ, 1 John 2: 27,
"We have an unction from the Holy One, and we know all things," 1 John
2: 20.
    Now, the things which in this communion Christ reveals to them
that he delights in, may be referred to these two heads: - 1. Himself
2. His kingdom.
    1. Himself. John 14: 21, "He that loveth me shall be loved of my
Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him;" -
"manifest myself in all my graces, desirableness, and loveliness; he
shall know me as I am, and such I will be unto him, - a Saviour, a
Redeemer, the chiefest of ten thousand." He shall be acquainted with
the true worth and value of the pearl of price; let others look upon
him as having neither form nor comeliness, as no way desirable, he will
manifest himself and his excellencies unto them in whom he is
delighted, that they shall see him altogether lovely. He will vail
himself to all the world; but the saints with open face shall behold
his beauty and his glory, and so be translated into the image of the
same glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord, 2 Cor. 3: 18.
    2. His kingdom. They shall be acquainted with the government of
his Spirit in their hearts; as also with his rule and the
administration of authority in his word, and among his churches.
    (1.) Thus, in the first place, does he manifest his delight in his
saints, - he communicates his secrets unto them. He gives them to know
his person, his excellencies, his grace, his love, his kingdom, his
will, the riches of his goodness, and the bowels of his mercy, more and
more, when the world shall neither see nor know any such thing.
    (2.) He enables his saints to communicate their mind, to reveal
their souls, unto him, that so they may walk together as intimate
friends. Christ knows the minds of all. He knows what is in man, and
needs not that any man testify of him, John 2: 25. He searcheth the
hearts and trieth the reins of all, Rev. 2: 23. But all know not how to
communicate their mind to Christ. It will not avail a man at all that
Christ knows his mind; for so he does of every one, whether he will or
no; - but that a man can make his heart known unto Christ, this is
consolation. Hence the prayers of the saints are incense, odours; and
those of others are howling, cutting off a dog's neck, offering of
swine's blood, - an abomination unto the Lord. Now, three things are
required to enable a man to communicate his heart unto the Lord Jesus:
-
    [1.] Assistance for the work; for of ourselves we cannot do it.
And this the saints have by the Spirit of Jesus, Rom. 8: 26, 27,
"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what
we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh
intercession for us with greenings which cannot be uttered. And he that
searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he
maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." All
endeavours, all attempts for communion with God, without the supplies
of the Spirit of supplications, without his effectual working in the
heart, is of no value, nor to any purpose. And this opening of our
hearts and bosoms to the Lord Jesus is that wherein he is exceedingly
delighted. Hence is that affectionate call of his unto us, to be
treating with him on this account, Cant. 2: 14, "O my dove, that art in
the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me
hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely."
When the soul on any account is driven to hide itself, - in any
neglected condition, in the most unlikely place of abode, - then does
he call for this communication of itself by prayer to him; for which he
gives the assistance of the Spirit mentioned.
    [2.] A way whereby to approach unto God with our desires. This,
also, we have by him provided for us, John 14: 5, 6, "Thomas saith unto
Jesus, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the
way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way; no man comes unto the Father,
but by me." That way which we had of going unto God at our creation is
quite shut up by sin. The sword of the law, which has fire put into it
by sin, turns every way, to stop all passages unto communion with God.
Jesus Christ has "consecrated a new and living way" (for the saints)
"through the vail, that is to say, his flesh," Heb. 10: 20. He has
consecrated and set it apart for believers, and for them alone. Others
pretend to go to God with their prayers, but they come not nigh him.
How can they possibly come to the end who go not in the way? Christ
only is the way to the throne of grace; none comes to God but by him.
"By him we have an access in one Spirit unto the Father," Eph. 2: 18.
These two things, then, the saints have for the opening of their hearts
at the throne of grace, - assistance and a way. The assistance of the
Spirit, without which they are nothing; and the way of Christ's
mediation, without which God is not to be approached unto.
    [3.] Boldness to go unto God. The voice of sinners in themselves,
if once acquainted with the terror of the Lord, is, - "Who among us
shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with
everlasting burnings?" Isa. 33: 14. And no marvel; shame and trembling
before God are the proper issues of sin. God will revenge that carnal,
atheistical boldness which sinners out of Christ do use towards him.
But we have now "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of
Jesus, by a new and living way, which he has consecrated for us)
through the vail, that is to say, his flesh: and having an high priest
over the house of God, we may draw near with a true heart, in full
assurance of faith," Heb. 10: 19, 20. The truth is, such is the glory
and terror of the Lord, such the infinite perfection of his holiness,
that, on clear sight of it, it will make the soul conclude that of
itself it cannot serve him; nor will it be to any advantage, but add to
the fierceness of his destruction, once to draw nigh to him. It is in
Christ alone, and on the account alone of his oblation and
intercession, that we have any boldness to approach unto him. And these
three advantages have the saints of communicating their minds unto the
Lord Christ, which he has provided for them, because he delights in
them.
    To touch a little by the way, because this is of great importance,
I will instance in one of these, as I might in every one, that you may
see the difference between a spiritual revealing of our minds unto
Christ in this acceptable manner, and that praying upon conviction
which others practice; and this shall be from the first, - namely, the
assistance we have by the Spirit.
    1st. The Spirit of Christ reveals to us our own wants, that we may
reveal them unto him: "We know not what we should pray for as we
ought," Rom. 8: 26; no teachings under those of the Spirit of God are
able to make our souls acquainted with their own wants, - its burdens,
its temptations. For a soul to know its wants, its infirmities, is a
heavenly discovery. He that has this assistance, his prayer is more
than half made before he begins to pray. His conscience is affected
with what he has to do; his mind and spirit contend within him, there
especially where he finds himself most straitened. He brings his burden
on his shoulders, and unloads himself on the Lord Christ. He finds (not
by a perplexing conviction, but a holy sense and weariness of sin)
where he is dead, where dull and cold, wherein unbelieving, wherein
tempted above all his strength, where the light of God's countenance is
wanting. And all these the soul has a sense of by the Spirit, - an
inexpressible sense and experience. Without this, prayer is not prayer;
men's voices may be heard, but they speak not in their hearts. Sense of
want is the spring of desire; - natural, of natural; spiritual, of
spiritual. Without this sense given by the Holy Ghost, there is neither
desire nor prayer.
    2dly. The expressions, or the words of such persons, come
exceeding short of the labouring of their hearts; and therefore, in and
after their supplications, "the Spirit makes intercession with sighs
and groans that cannot be uttered." Some men's words go exceedingly
beyond their hearts. Did their spirits come up to their expressions, it
were well. He that has this assistance can provide no clothing that is
large and broad enough to set forth the desires of his heart; and
therefore, in the close of his best and most fervent supplications,
such a person finds a double dissatisfaction in them: - 1. That they
are not a righteousness to be rested on; that if God should mark what
is in them amiss, they could not abide the trial. 2. That his heart in
them is not poured out, nor delivered in any proportion to the holy
desires and labourings that were conceived therein; though he may in
Christ have great refreshment by them. The more they [saints] speak,
the more they find they have left unspoken.
    3dly. The intercession of the saints thus assisted is according to
the mind of God; that is, they are guided by the Spirit to make
requests for those things unto God which it is his will they should
desire, - which he knows to be good for them, useful and suitable to
them, in the condition wherein they are. There are many ways whereby we
may know when we make our supplications according to the will of God. I
shall instance only in one; that is, when we do it according to the
promise: when our prayers are regulated by the promise, we make them
according to the will of God. So David, Ps. 119: 49, "Remember the word
upon which thou hast caused me to hope." He prays, and regulates his
desire by the word of promise wherein he had trusted. But yet, men may
ask that which is in the promise, and yet not have their prayers
regulated by the promise. They may pray for what is in the promise, but
not as it is in the promise. So James says some "ask and receive not,
because they ask amiss, that they may spend it on their lusts," chap.
4: 3. Though the things which God would have us ask be requested, yet
if not according as he would have us do it, we ask amiss.
    Two things are required, that we may pray for the things in the
promise, as they are in the promise: -
    (1st.) That we look upon them as promised, and promised in Christ;
that is, that all the reason we have whence we hope for attaining the
things we ask for, is from the mediation and purchase of Christ, in
whom all the promises are yea and amen. This it is to ask the Father in
Christ's name, - God as a father, the fountain; and Christ as the
procurer of them.
    (2dly.) That we ask for them for the end of the promise, not to
spend on our lusts. When we ask pardon for sin, with secret reserves in
our hearts to continue in sin, we ask the choicest mercy of the
covenant, to spend it on our lusts. The end of the promise the apostle
tells us, 2 Cor. 7: 1, "Having these promises, let us cleanse ourselves
from all pollution of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the
fear of God." When we ask what is in the promise, as it is in the
promise, to this end of the promise, our supplications are according to
the will of God. And this is the first conjugal affection that Christ
exerciseth towards believers, - he delights in them; which that he does
is evident, as upon other considerations innumerable, so from the
instance given.
    In return hereunto, for the carrying on of the communion between
them, the saints delight in Christ; he is their joy, their crown, their
rejoicing, their life, food, health, strength, desire, righteousness,
salvation, blessedness: without him they have nothing; in him they
shall find all things Gal. 6: 14, "God forbid that I should glory, save
in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." He has, from the foundation of
the world, been the hope, expectation, desire, and delight of all
believers. The promise of him was all (and it was enough) that God gave
Adam in his inexpressible distress, to relieve and comfort him, Gen. 3:
15. Eve perhaps supposed that the promised seed had been born in her
first-born, when she said, "I have gotten a man from the LORD" (so most
properly, "'et" denoting the fourth case); and this was the matter of
her joy, Gen. 4: 1. Lamech having Noah given to him as a type of Christ
and salvation by him, cries out, "This same shall comfort us concerning
our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD
has cursed," Gen. 5: 29; he rejoices in him who was to take away the
curse, by being made a curse for us. When Abraham was in the height of
his glory, returning from the conquest of the kings of the east, that
came against the confederate kings of the vale of Sodom, God appears to
him with a glorious promise, Gen. 15: 1, "Fear not, Abram: I am thy
shield, and thy exceeding great reward." What now could his soul more
desire? Alas! he cries (as Reuben afterward, upon the loss of Joseph),
"The child is not, and whither shall I go?" Verse 2, "Lord God, what
wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless?" "Thou hast promised that in
my seed shall all the earth be blessed; if I have not that seed, ah!
what good will all other things do me?" Thence it is said that he
"rejoiced to see the day of Christ; he saw it, and was glad," John 8:
56; the thoughts of the coming of Christ, which he looked on at the
distance of two thousand years, was the joy and delight of his heart.
Jacob, blessing his sons, lifted up his spirit when he comes to Judah,
in whom he considered the Shiloh to come, Gen. 49: 8, 9; and a little
after, wearied with the foresight and consideration of the distresses
of his posterity, this he diverts to for his relief, as that great
delight of his soul: "I have waited for thy Salvation, O God;" for him
who was to be the salvation of his people. But it would be endless to
instance in particulars. Old Simon sums up the whole: Christ is God's
salvation, and Israel's glory, Luke 2: 30, 31; and whatever was called
the glory of old, it was either himself or a type of him. The glory of
man is their delight. Hence, Haggai 2: 7, he is called "The Desire of
all nations." Him whom their soul loves and delights in, [they] desire
and long after. So is the saints' delight in him made a description of
him, by way of eminence, Mal. 3: 1: "The Lord whom ye seek shall
suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant whom ye
delight in." "He whom ye seek, whom ye delight in," is the description
of Christ. He is their delight and desirable one, the person of their
desire. To fix on something in particular: -
    In that pattern of communion with Jesus Christ which we have in
the Canticles, this is abundantly insisted on. The spouse tells us that
she sits down under his shadow with great delight, Cant. 2: 3. And this
delight to be vigorous and active, she manifests several ways; wherein
we should labour to find our hearts in like manner towards him: -
    1. By her exceeding great care to keep his company and society,
when once she had obtained it, chap. 2: 7, "I charge you, O ye
daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field,
that ye stir not up, nor awake my love till he please." Having obtained
sweet communion with Christ, described in the verses foregoing (of
which before), here she expresseth her delight in it and desire of the
continuance of it; and therefore, following on the allusion formerly
insisted on, she speaks as one would do to her companion, [as one] that
had rest with one she loved: "I charge you, by all that is dear to you,
- by the things you most delight in, which among the creatures are most
lovely, all the pleasant and desirable things that you can think of, -
that you disturb him not." The sum of her aim and desire is, that
nothing may fall out, nothing of sin or provocation happen, that may
occasion Christ to depart from her, or to remove from that dispensation
wherein he seemed to take that rest in her: "O stir him not up until he
please!" that is, never. "ha'ahavah", - love itself in the abstract, to
express a "pathos", or earnest affection; for so that word is often
used. When once the soul of a believer has obtained sweet and real
communion with Christ, it looks about him, watcheth all temptations,
all ways whereby sin might approach, to disturb him in his enjoyment of
his dear Lord and Saviour, his rest and desire. How does it charge
itself not to omit any thing, nor to do any thing that may interrupt
the communion obtained! And because the common entrance of temptations,
which tend to the disturbance of that rest and complacency which Christ
takes in the soul, is from delightful diversions from actual communion
with him; therefore is desire strong and active that the companions of
such a soul, those with whom it does converse, would not, by their
proposals or allurements, divert it into any such frame as Christ
cannot delight nor rest in. A believer that has gotten Christ in his
arms, is like one that has found great spoils, or a pearl of price. He
looks about him every way, and fears every thing that may deprive him
of it. Riches make men watchful; and the actual sensible possession of
him, in whom are all the riches and treasure of God, will make men look
about them for the keeping of him. The line of choicest communion, is a
line of the greatest spiritual solicitousness: carelessness in the
enjoyment of Christ pretended, is a manifest evidence of a false heart.
    2. The spouse manifests her delight in him, by the utmost
impatience of his absence, with desires still of nearer communion with
him. Chap. 8: 6, "Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon
thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave:
the coals thereof are coals of fire, which has a most vehement flame."
The allusion is doubtless from the high priest of the Jews, in his
spiritual representation of the church before God. He had a breastplate
which he is said to wear on his heart, Exod. 28: 29, wherein the names
of the children of Israel were engraven, after the manner of seals or
signets, and he bare them for a memorial before the Lord. He had the
like also upon his shoulders, or on his arms, verses 11, 12; both
representing the priesthood of Christ, who bears the names of all his
before his Father in the "holy of belies," Heb. 9: 24. Now the seal on
the heart, is near, inward, tender love and care, which gives an
impression and image on the heart of the thing so loved "Set me," saith
the spouse, "as a seal upon thine heart;" - "Let me be constantly fixed
in thy most tender and affectionate love; let me always have a place in
thine heart; let me have an engraving, a mighty impression of love,
upon thine heart, that shall never be obliterated." The soul is never
satisfied with thoughts of Christ's love to it. "O that it were more,
that it were more! that I were as a seal on his heart!" is its
language. The soul knows, indeed, on serious thoughts, that the love of
Christ is inconceivable, and cannot be increased; but it would fain
work up itself to an apprehension of it: and therefore she adds here,
"Set me as a seal upon thine arm." The heart is the fountain, but close
and hidden; the arm is manifestation and power. "Let," saith the
spouse, "thy love be manifested to me in thy tender and powerful
persuasion of me." Two things are evident in this request: - the
continual mindfulness of Christ of the soul, as having its condition
still in his eye, engraven on his arm, Isa. 49: 15, 16, with the
exalting of his power for the preservation of it, suitable to the love
of his heart unto it; and the manifestation of the hidden love and care
of the heart of Christ unto the soul, being made visible on his arm, or
evident by the fruit of it. This is that which she would be assured of;
and without a sense whereof there is no rest to be obtained.
    The reason she gives of this earnestness in her supplications, is
that which principally evinces her delight in him: "Love is strong as
death, jealousy is cruel as the grave," or "hard as hell." This is the
intendment of what is so loftily set out by so many metaphors in this
and the following verse: - "I am not able to bear the workings of my
love to thee, unless I may always have society and fellowship with
thee. There is no satisfying of my love without it. It is as the grave,
that still says Give, give. Death is not satisfied without its prey; if
it have not all, it has nothing: let what will happen, if death has not
its whole desire, it has nothing at all. Nor can it be withstood in its
appointed season; no ransom will be taken. So is my love; if I have
thee not wholly, I have nothing. Nor can all the world bribe it to a
diversion; it will he no more turned aside than death in its time.
Also, I am not able to bear my jealous thoughts: I fear thou dost not
love me, that thou hast forsaken me; because I know I deserve not to be
beloved. These thoughts are hard as hell; they give no rest to my soul:
if I find not myself on thy heart and arm, I am as one that lies down
in a bed of coals." This also argues a holy greediness of delight.
    3. She farther manifests this by her solicitousness, trouble, and
perplexity, in his loss and withdrawings. Men bewail the loss of that
whose whole enjoyment they delight in; we easily bear the absence of
that whose presence is not delightful. This state of the spouse is
discovered, Cant. 3: 1-3, "By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul
loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go
about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him
whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen
that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my
soul loveth?" It is night now with the soul, - a time of darkness and
trouble, or affliction. Whenever Christ is absent, it is night with a
believer. He is the sun; if he go down upon them, if his beams be
eclipsed, if in his light they see no light, it is all darkness with
them. Here, whether the coming of the night of any trouble on her made
her discover Christ's absence, or the absence of Christ made it night
with her, is not expressed. I rather think the latter; because, setting
that aside, all things seem to be well with her. The absence of Christ
will indeed make it night, dark as darkness itself, in the midst of all
other glowing consolations. But is the spouse contented with this
dispensation? She is upon her bed, - that is, of ease (the bed, indeed,
sometimes signifies tribulation, Rev. 2: 22; but in this book,
everywhere, rest and contentment: here is not the least intimation of
any tribulation but what is in the want of Christ); but in the greatest
peace and opportunity of ease and rest, a believer finds none in the
absence of Christ: though he be on his bed, having nothing to disquiet
him, he rests not, if Christ, his rest, be not there. She "sought him."
Seeking of Christ by night, on the bed (that is, alone, in immediate
inquest, and in the dark), has two parts: - searching of our own souls
for the cause of his absence; secondly, searching the promises for his
presence.
    (1.) The soul finding not Christ present in his wonted manner,
warming, cherishing, reviving it with love, nigh to it, supping with
it, always filling its thoughts with himself, dropping myrrh and sweet
tastes of love into it; but, on the contrary, that other thoughts crowd
in and perplex the heart, and Christ is not nigh when inquired after;
it presently inquires into the cause of all this, calls itself to an
account what it has done, how it has behaved itself, that it is not
with it as at other times, - that Christ has withdrawn himself, and is
not nigh to it in the wonted manner. Here it accomplishes a diligent
search; it considers the love, tenderness, and kindness of the Lord
Jesus, what delight he takes in abiding with his saints, so that his
departure is not without cause and provocation. "How," saith it, "have
I demeaned myself, that I have lost my Beloved? where have I been
wandering after other lovers?" And when the miscarriage is found out,
it abounds in revenge and indignation.
    (2.) Having driven this to some issue, the soul applieth itself to
the promises of the covenant, wherein Christ is most graciously
exhibited unto it; considers one, ponders another, to find a taste of
him; - it considers diligently if it can see the delightful countenance
and favour of Christ in them or no. But now, if (as it often falls out)
the soul finds nothing but the carcass, but the bare letter, in the
promise, - if it come to it as to the grave of Christ, of which it may
be said (not in itself, but in respect of the seeking soul), "He is
risen, he is not here," this amazes the soul, and it knows not what to
do. As a man that has a jewel of great price, having no occasion to use
it, lays it aside, as he supposes, in a safe place; in an agony and
extremity of want going to seek for his jewel, he finds it not in the
place he expected, and is filled with amazement, and knows not what to
do; - so is it with this pearl of the gospel. After a man has sold all
that he has for it, and enjoyed it for a season, then to have it
missing at a time of need, it must needs perplex him. So was it with
the spouse here. "I sought him," saith she, "but I found him not;" a
thing which not seldom befalls us in our communion with Christ.
    But what does she now do? does she give over, and search no more?
Nay; but says she, verse 2, "'I will arise;' I will not so give over. I
must have Christ, or die. I will now arise," (or, "let me arise,") "and
go about this business."
    [1.] She resolves to put herself upon another course, a more
vigorous inquest: "I will arise and make use of other means besides
those of private prayer, meditation, self-searching, and inquiring into
the promises;" which she had insisted on before. It carries, -
    1st. Resolution, and a zealous, violent casting off that frame
wherein she had lost her love. "'I a will arise;' I will not rest in
this frame: I am undone if I do." So, sometimes God calls his church to
arise and shake itself out of the dust. Abide not in that condition.
    2dly. Diligence. "I will now take another course; I will leave no
way unattempted, no means untried, whereby I may possibly recover
communion with my Beloved."
    This is the condition of a soul that finds not the wonted presence
of Christ in its private and more retired inquiries, - dull in prayer,
wandering in meditations, rare in thoughts of him, - "I will not bear
this frame: whatever way God has appointed, I will, in his strength,
vigorously pursue, until this frame be altered, and I find my Beloved."
    [2.] Then the way she puts herself upon, as to go about the city.
Not to insist upon particulars, nor to strain the parts of the allegory
too far, the city here intended is the city of God, the church; and the
passing through the broad and narrow streets, is the diligent inquiry
that the spouse makes in all the paths and ordinances given unto it.
This, then, is the next thing the soul addresses itself unto in the
want of Christ: - when it finds him not in any private endeavours, it
makes vigorous application to the ordinances of public worship; in
prayer, in preaching, in administration of the seals, does it look
after Christ. Indeed, the great inquiry the souls of believers make, in
every ordinance, is after Christ. So much as they find of him, so much
sweetness and refreshment have they, and no more. Especially when under
any desertion, they rise up to this inquiry: they listen to every word,
to every prayer, to find if any thing of Christ, any light from him,
any life, any love, appears to them. "Oh, that Christ would at length
meet me in this or that sermon, and recover my poor heart to some sight
of his love, - to some taste at kindness!" The solicitousness of a
believer in his inquest after Christ, when he finds not his presence,
either for grace or consolation, as in former days, is indeed
inexpressible. Much of the frame of such a heart is couched in the
redoubling of the expression, "I sought him, I sought him;" setting out
an inconceivable passion, and suitably industrious desire. Thus, being
disappointed at home, the spouse proceeds.
    But yet see the event of this also: "She sought him, but found him
not." It does sometimes so fall out, all will not do: "They shall seek
him, and not find him;" they shall not come nigh him. Let them that
enjoy any thing of the presence of Christ take heed what they do; if
they provoke him to depart, if they lose him, it may cost them many a
bitter inquiry before they find him again. When a soul prays and
meditates, searches the promises in private; when it with earnestness
and diligence attends all ordinances in public, and all to get one
glimpse of the face of Jesus Christ, and all in vain, it is a sad
condition.
    What now follows in this estate? Verse 3, "The watchmen found me,"
etc. That these watchmen of the city of God are the watchmen and
officers of the church, is confessed. And it is of sad consideration,
that the Holy Ghost does sometimes in this book take notice of them on
no good account. Plainly, chap. 5: 7, they turn persecutors. It was
Luther's saying, "Nunquam periclitatur religio nisi inter
reverendissimos". Here they are of a more gentle temper, and seeing the
poor disconsolate soul, they seem to take notice of her condition.
    It is the duty, indeed, of faithful watchmen, to take notice of
poor, troubled, deserted souls; - not to keep at a distance, but to be
willing to assist. And a truly pressed soul on the account of Christ's
absence cannot cover its love, but must be inquiring after him: "Saw ye
him whom my soul loveth?" - "This is my condition: I have had sweet
enjoyment of my blessed Jesus, - he is now withdrawn from me. Can you
help me? can you guide me to my consolation. What acquaintance have you
with him? when saw you him? how did he manifest himself to you, and
wherein?" All these labourings in his absence sufficiently discover the
soul's delight in the presence of Christ. Go one step farther, to the
discovery that it made of him once again, and it will yet be more
evident. Verses 4, 5, "It was but a little that I passed from them, but
I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go,
until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of
her that conceived me. I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem," etc.
    First, She tells you how she came to him: "She found him;" what
ways and by what means is not expressed. It often so falls out in our
communion with Christ, when private and public means fail, and the soul
has nothing left but waiting silently and walking humbly, Christ
appears; that his so doing may be evidently of grace. Let us not at any
time give over in this condition. When all ways are past, the summer
and harvest are gone without relief, - when neither bed nor watchmen
can assist, - let us wait a little, and we shall see the Salvation of
God. Christ honours his immediate absolute acting sometimes, though
ordinarily he crowns his ordinances Christ often manifests himself
immediately, and out of ordinances, to them that wait for him in them;
- that he will do so to them that despise them, I know not. Though he
will meet men unexpectedly in his way, yet he will not meet them at all
out of it. Let us wait as he has appointed; let him appear as he
pleaseth. How she deals with him when found is neatly declared: "She
held him, and would not let him go," etc. They are all expressions of
the greatest joy and delight imaginable. The sum is: - having at length
come once more to an enjoyment of sweet communion with Christ, the soul
lays fast hold on him by faith ("kratein", "to hold fast," is an act of
faith), refuses to part with him any more, in vehemency of love, -
tries to keep him in ordinances in the house of its mother, the church
of God; and so uses all means for the confirming of the mutual love
between Christ and her. All the expressions, all the allusions used,
evidencing delight to the utmost capacity of the soul. Should I pursue
all the instances and testimonies that are given hereunto, in that one
book of the Song of Solomon, I must enter upon an exposition of the
greatest part of it; which is not my present business. Let the hearts
of the saints that are acquainted with these things be allowed to make
the close. What is it they long for, they rejoice in? what is it that
satisfies them to the utmost, and gives sweet complacency to their
spirits in every condition? what is it whose loss they fear, whose
absence they cannot bear? Is it not this their Beloved, and he alone?
    This, also, they farther manifest by their delight in every thing
that peculiarly belongs to Christ, as his, in this world. This is an
evidence of delight, when, for his sake whom we delight in, we also
delight in every thing that belongs to him. Christ's great interest in
this world lies in his people and his ordinances, - his household and
their provision. Now in both these do the saints exceedingly delight,
for his sake. Take an instance in both kinds in one man, namely, David,
Ps. 16: 3, "In the saints and the excellent" (or the noble) "of the
earth is all my delight; my delight in them." Christ says of his church
that she is "Hephzi-bah," Isa. 62, "My delight in her." Here says David
of the same, "Hephzi-bah, - "My delight in them." As Christ delights in
his saints, so do they in one another, on his account. "Here," says
David, "is all my delight." Whatever contentment he took in any other
persons, it was nothing in comparison of the delight he took in them.
Hence, mention is made of "laying down our lives for the brethren," or
any common cause wherein the interest of the community of the brethren
does lie.
    Secondly, For the ordinances, consider the same person. Ps. 42,
84, and 48, are such plentiful testimonies throughout, as we need no
farther inquiring; nor shall I go forth to a new discourse on this
particular.
    And this is the first mutual consequential act of conjugal
affection, in this communion between Christ and believers: - he
delights in them, and they delight in him. He delights in their
prosperity, has pleasure in it; they delight in his honour and glory,
and in his presence with them. For his sake they delight in his
servants (though by the world condemned) as the most excellent in the
world; and in his ordinances, as the wisdom of God; - which are
foolishness to the world.





Chapter 5. Other consequential affections: - 1. On the part of Christ -
     He values his saints - Evidences of that valuation: - (1.) His
     incarnation; (2.) Exinanition, 2 Cor. 8: 9; Phil. 2: 6, 7; (3.)
     Obedience as a servant; (4.) In his death. His valuation of them
     in comparison of others. 2. Believers' estimation of Christ: -
     (1.) They value him above all other things and persons; (2.) Above
     their own lives; (3.) All spiritual excellencies. The sum of all
     on the part of Christ - The sum on the part of believers. The
     third conjugal affection - On the part of Christ, pity or
     compassion - Wherein manifested - Suffering and supply, fruits of
     compassion - Several ways whereby Christ relieves the saints under
     temptations - His compassion in their afflictions. Chastity, the
     third conjugal affection in the saints. The fourth - On the part
     of Christ, bounty; on the part of the saints, duty.
    
    II. Christ values his saints, values believers (which is the
second branch of that conjugal affection he bears towards them), having
taken them into the relation whereof we speak. I shall not need to
insist long on the demonstration hereof; heaven and earth are full of
evidences of it. Some few considerations will give life to the
assertion. Consider them, then, - 1. Absolutely; 2. In respect of
others; and you will see what a valuation he puts upon them: -
    1. All that ever he did or does, all that ever he underwent or
suffered as mediator, was for their sakes. Now, these things were so
great and grievous, that had he not esteemed them above all that can be
expressed, he had never engaged to their performance and undergoing.
Take a few instances: -
    (1.) For their sakes was he "made flesh;" "manifested in the
flesh." Heb. 2: 14, "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of
flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same." And
the height of this valuation of them the apostle aggravates. Verse 16,
"Verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the
seed of Abraham;" he had no such esteem of angels. Whether you take
"epilamtanestai", properly to "take," or to "take hold of," as our
translators, and so supply the word "nature," and refer the whole unto
Christ's incarnation, who therein took our nature on him, and not the
nature of angels; or for "analamtanestai", to "help," (he did not help
nor succour fallen angels, but he did help and succour the seed of
Abraham,) and so consider it as the fruit of Christ's incarnation, - it
is all one, as to our present business: his preferring the seed of
Abraham before angels, his valuing them above the other, is plainly
expressed. And observe, that he came to help the seed of Abraham, -
that is, believers. His esteem and valuation is of them only.
    (2.) For their sakes he was so made flesh, as that there was an
emptying, an exinanition of himself, and an eclipsing of his glory, and
a becoming poor for them, 2 Cor. 8: 9, "Ye know the grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became
poor." Being rich in eternal glory with his Father, John 17: 5, he
became poor for believers. The same person that was rich was also poor.
That the riches here meant can be none but those of the Deity, is
evident, by its opposition to the poverty which as man he undertook.
This is also more fully expressed, Phil. 2: 6, 7, "Who being in the
form of God, counted it no robbery to be equal to God, but he emptied
himself, taking the form of a servant, and being made in the fashion of
a man, and found in form as a man," etc. That the "form of God" is here
the essence of the Deity, sundry things inevitably evince; as, -
    [1.] That he was therein equal to God; that is, his Father. Now,
nothing but God is equal to God. Not Christ as he is mediator, in his
greatest glory, - nothing but that which is infinite, is equal to that
which is infinite.
    [2.] The form of God is opposed to the form of a servant; and that
form of a servant is called the "fashion of a man," verse 8, - that
fashion wherein he was found when he gave himself to death, wherein as
a man he poured out his blood and died. "Morfen doulou laton", (he
"took the form of a servant"), is expounded in the next words, "en
homoiomati antropon genomenos", - an expression used to set out his
incarnation, Rom. 8: 3. God sent him "en homoiomati sarkos hamartias",
in taking true flesh, he was in the "likeness of sinful flesh." Now, in
thus doing, it is said "heautou ekenose", - "he humbled, emptied
himself, made himself of no reputation." In the very taking of flesh,
there was a condescension, a debasing of the person of the Son of God;
it could not be without it. If God humbled himself to "behold the
things that are in heaven, and in the earth," Ps. 113: 6, then
certainly it was an inconceivable condescension and abasement, not only
to behold, but take upon him (into personal union) our nature with
himself. And though nothing could possibly be taken off from the
essential glory of the Deity, yet that person appearing in the fashion
of a man, and form of a servant, the glory of it, as to the
manifestation, was eclipsed; and he appeared quite another thing than
what indeed he was, and had been from eternity. Hence he prays that his
Father would "glorify him with the glory he had with him before the
world was," John 17: 5, as to the manifestation of it. And so, though
the divine nature was not abased, the person was.
    (3.) For their sakes he so humbled and emptied himself, in taking
flesh, as to become therein a servant, - in the eyes of the world of no
esteem nor account; and a true and real servant unto the Father. For
their sakes he humbled himself, and became obedient. All that he did
and suffered in his life comes under this consideration; all which may
be referred to these three heads: - [1.] Fulfilling all righteousness.
[2.] Enduring all manner of persecutions and hardships. [3.] Doing all
manner of good to inert. He took on him, for their sakes, a life and
course pointed to, Heb. 5: 7, 8, - a life of prayers, tears, fears,
obedience, suffering; and all this with cheerfulness and delight,
calling his employment his "meat and drink," and still professing that
the law of this obedience was in hiss heart, - that he was content to
do this will of God. He that will sorely revenge the least opposition
that is or shall be made to him by others, was content to undergo any
thing, all things, for believers.
    (4.) He stays not here, but (for the consummation of all that went
before) for their sakes he becomes obedient to death, the death of the
cross. So he professeth to his Father, John 17: 19, "For their sakes I
sanctify myself;" - "I dedicate myself as an offering, as a sacrifice,
to be killed and slain." This was his aim in all the former, that he
might die; he was born, and lived, that he might die. He valued them
above his life. And if we might stay to consider a little what was in
this death that he underwent for them, we should perceive what a price
indeed he put upon them. The curse of the law was in it, the wrath of
God was in it, the loss of God's presence was in it. It was a fearful
cup that he tasted of, and drank of, that they might never taste of it.
A man would not for ten thousand worlds be willing to undergo that
which Christ underwent for us in that one thing of desertion from God,
were it attended with no more distress but what a mere creature might
possibly emerge from under. And what thoughts we should have of this
himself tells us, John 15: 13, "Greater love has no man than this, that
a man lay down his life for his friends." It is impossible there should
be any greater demonstration or evidence of love than this. What can
any one do more? And yet he tells us in another place, that it has
another aggravation and heightening, Rom. 5: 8, "God commendeth his
love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for
us." When he did this for us we were sinners, and enemies, whom he
might justly have destroyed. What more can be done? - to die for us
when we were sinners! Such a death, in such a manner, with such
attendancies of wrath and curse, - a death accompanied with the worst
that God had ever threatened to sinners, - argues as high a valuation
of us as the heart of Christ himself was capable of.
    For one to part with his glory, his riches, his ease, his life,
his love from God, to undergo loss, shame, wrath, curse, death, for
another, is an evidence of a dear valuation; and that it was all on
this account, we are informed, Heb. 12: 2. Certainly Christ had a dear
esteem of them, that, rather than they should perish, - that they
should not be his, and be made partakers of his glory, - he would part
with all he had for their sakes, Eph. 5: 25, 26.
    There would be no end, should I go through all the instances of
Christ's valuation of believers, in all their deliverances,
afflictions, in all conditions of sinning and suffering, - what he has
done, what he does in his intercession, what he delivers them from,
what he procures for them; all telling out this one thing, - they are
the apple of his eye, his jewel, his diadem, his crown.
    2. In comparison of others. All the world is nothing to him in
comparison of them. They are his garden; the rest of the world, a
wilderness. Cant. 4: 12, "A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a
spring shut up, a fountain sealed." They are his inheritance; the rest,
his enemies, of no regard with him. So Isa. 43: 3, 4, "I am the LORD
thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy
ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my
sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will
I give men for thee, and people for thy life." The reason of this
dealing of Christ with his church, in parting with all others for them,
is, because he loves her. She is precious and honourable in his sight;
thence he puts this great esteem upon her. Indeed, he disposeth of all
nations and their interests according as is for the good of believers.
Amos 9: 9, in all the siftings of the nations, the eye of God is upon
the house of Israel; not a grain of them shall perish. Look to heaven;
angels are appointed to minister for them, Heb. 1: 14. Look into the
world; the nations in general are either blessed for their sakes, or
destroyed on their account, - preserved to try them, or rejected for
their cruelty towards them; and will receive from Christ their final
doom according to their deportment towards these despised ones. On this
account are the pillars of the earth borne up, and patience is
exercised towards the perishing world. In a word, there is not the
meanest, the weakest, the poorest believer on the earth, but Christ
prizes him more than all the world besides. Were our hearts filled much
with thoughts hereof, it would tend much to our consolation.
    To answer this, believers also value Jesus Christ; they have an
esteem of him above all the world, and all things in the world. You
have been in part acquainted with this before, in the account that was
given of their delight in him, and inquiry after him. They say of him
in their hearts continual]y, as David, "Whom have I in heaven but thee?
and none upon earth I desire beside thee." Ps. 73: 25. Neither heaven
nor earth will yield them an object any way comparable to him, that
they can delight in.
    1. They value him above all other things and persons. "Mallem,",
said one, "ruere cum Christo, quam regnare cum Caesare. Pulchra terra,
pulchrum coelum, sed pulcherrimus dominus Jesus;" - Christ and a
dungeon, Christ and a cross, is infinitely sweeter than a crown, a
sceptre without him, to their souls. So was it with Moses, Heb. 11: 26,
"He esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures
in Egypt." The reproach of Christ is the worst consequent that the
wickedness of the world or the malice of Satan can bring upon the
followers of him. The treasures of Egypt were in those days the
greatest in the world; Moses despised the very best of the world, for
the worst of the cross of Christ. Indeed, himself has told believers,
that if they love any thing better than him, father or mother, they are
not worthy of him. A despising of all things for Christ is the very
first lesson of the gospel. "Give away all, take up the cross and
follow me," was the way whereby he tried his disciples of old; and if
there be not the same mind and heart in us, we are none of his.
    2. They value him above their lives. Acts 20: 24, "My life is not
dear, that I may perfect my course with joy, and the ministry I have
received of the Lord Jesus;" - "Let life and all go, so that I may
serve him; and, when all is done, enjoy him, and be made like to him."
It is known what is reported of Ignatius when he was led to martyrdom:
"Let what will," said he, "come upon me, only so I may obtain Jesus
Christ." Hence they of old rejoiced when whipped, scourged, put to
shame, for his sake, Acts 5: 41; Heb. 11. All is welcome that comes
from him, or for him. The lives they have to live, the death they have
to die, is little, is light, upon the thoughts of him who is the stay
of their lives and the end of their death. Were it not for the
refreshment which daily they receive by thoughts of him, they could not
live, - their lives would be a burden to them; and the thoughts of
enjoyment of him made them cry with Paul, "Oh that we were dissolved!"
The stories of the martyrs of old and of late, the sufferers in giving
witness to him under the dragon and under the false prophet, the
neglect of life in women and children on his account, contempt of
torments, whilst his name sweetened all, have rendered this truth clear
to men and angels.
    3. They value him above all spiritual excellencies, and all other
righteousness whatever, Phil. 3: 7, 8, "Those things which were
advantage to me, I esteemed loss for the excellency of the knowledge of
Christ Jesus my Lord; for whose sake I have lost all things, and do
esteem them common, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him."
Having recounted the excellencies which he had, and the privileges
which he enjoyed, in his Judaism, - which were all of a spiritual
nature, and a participation wherein made the rest of his countrymen
despise all the world, and look upon themselves as the only acceptable
persons with God, resting on them for righteousness, - the apostle
tells us what is his esteem of them, in comparison of the Lord Jesus.
They are "loss and dung," things that for his sake he had really
suffered the loss of; that is, whereas he had for many years been a
zealot of the law, - seeking after a righteousness as it were by the
works of it, Rom. 9: 32, - instantly serving God day and night, to
obtain the promise, Acts 26: 7, - living in all good conscience from
his youth, acts 23, - all the while very zealous for God and his
institutions, - now [he] willingly casts away all these things, looks
upon them as loss and dung, and could not only be contented to be
without them, but, as for that end for which he sought after them, he
abhorred them all. When men have been strongly convinced of their duty,
and have laboured many years to keep a good conscience, - have prayed,
and heard, and done good, and denied themselves, and been zealous for
God, and laboured with all their might to please him, and so at length
to come to enjoy him; they had rather part with all the world, life and
all, than with this they have wrought. You know how unwilling we are to
part with any thing we have laboured and beaten our heads about? How
much more when the things are so excellent, as our duty to God,
blamelessness of conversation, hope of heaven, and the like, which we
have beaten our hearts about. But now, when once Christ appears to the
soul, when he is known in his excellency, all these things, as without
him, have their paint washed off, their beauty fades, their
desirableness vanisheth, and the soul is not only contented to part
with them all, but puts them away as a defiled thing, and cries, "In
the Lord Jesus only is my righteousness and glory." Prov. 3: 13-15,
among innumerable testimonies, may be admitted to give witness
hereunto, "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that
getteth understanding. For the merchandise of it is better than the
merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold. She is more
precious than rubies: and all the things that thou canst desire are not
to be compared unto her." It is of Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God, the
eternal Wisdom of the Father, that the Holy Ghost speaks; as is evident
from the description which is given hereof, chap. 8. He and his ways
are better than silver and gold, rubies, and all desirable things; as
in the gospel he likens himself to the "pearl in the field," which when
the merchant man finds, he sells all that he has, to purchase. All goes
for Christ; - all righteousness without him, all ways of religion, all
goes for that one pearl. The glory of his Deity, the excellency of his
person, his all-conquering desirableness, ineffable love, wonderful
undertaking, unspeakable condescensions, effectual mediation, complete
righteousness, lie in their eyes, ravish their hearts, fill their
affections, and possess their souls. And this is the second mutual
conjugal affection between Christ and believers; all which, on the part
of Christ, may be referred unto two heads: -
    1. All that he parted withal, all that he did, all that he
suffered, all that he does as mediator; he parted withal, did,
suffered, does, on the account of his love to and esteem of believers.
He parted with the greatest glory, he underwent the greatest misery, he
does the greatest works that ever were, because he loves his spouse, -
because he values believers. What can more, what can farther be spoken?
how little is the depth of that which is spoken fathomed! how unable
are we to look into the mysterious recesses of it! He so loves, so
values his saints, as that, having from eternity undertaken to bring
them to God, he rejoices his soul in the thoughts of it; and pursues
his design through heaven and hell, life and death, by suffering and
doing, in mercy and with power; and ceaseth not until he bring it to
perfection. For, -
    2. He does so value them, as that he will not lose any of them to
eternity, though all the world should combine to take them out of his
hand. When in the days of his flesh he foresaw what opposition, what
danger, what rocks they should meet withal, he cried out, "Holy Father,
keep them," John 17: 11; - "Let not one of them be lost;" and tells us
plainly, John 10: 28, that no man shall take his sheep out of his hand.
And because he was then in the form of a servant, and it might be
supposed that he might not be able to hold them, he tells them true, as
to his present condition of carrying on the work of mediation, his
"Father was greater than he;" and therefore to him he committed them,
and none should take them out of his Father's hand, John 10: 29. And
whereas the world, afflictions, and persecutions, which are without,
may be conquered, and yet no security given but that sin from within,
by the assistance of Satan, may prevail against them to their ruin; as
he has provided against Satan, in his promise that the gates of hell
shall not prevail against them, so he has taken care that sin itself
shall not destroy them. Herein, indeed, is the depth of his love to be
contemplated, that whereas his holy soul hates every sin (it is a
burden, an abomination, a new wound to him), and his poor spouse is
sinful (believers are full of sins, failings, and infirmities), he
hides all, covers all, bears with all, rather than he will lose them;
by his power preserving them from such sins as a remedy is not provided
for in the covenant of grace. Oh, the world of sinful follies that our
dear Lord Jesus bears withal on this account! Are not our own souls
astonished with the thoughts of it? Infinite patience, infinite
forbearance, infinite love, infinite grace, infinite mercy, are all set
on work for this end, to answer this his valuation of us.
    On our part it may also be referred to two heads: -
    1. That, upon the discovery of him to our souls, they rejoice to
part with all things wherein they have delighted or reposed their
confidence, for him and his sake, that they may enjoy him. Sin and
lust, pleasure and profit, righteousness and duty, in their several
conditions, all shall go, so they may have Christ.
    2. That they are willing to part with all things rather than with
him, when they do enjoy him. To think of parting with peace, health,
liberty, relations, wives, children; it is offensive, heavy, and
grievous to the best of the saints: but their souls cannot bear the
thoughts of parting with Jesus Christ; such a thought is cruel as the
grave. The worst thoughts that, in any fear, sin desertions, they have
of hell, is, that they shall not enjoy Jesus Christ. So they may enjoy
him here, hereafter be like him, be ever with him, stand in his
presence; they can part with all things freely, cheerfully, be they
never so beautiful, in reference to this life or that which is to come.
    III. The third conjugal affection on the part of Christ is pity
and compassion. As a man "nourisheth and cherisheth his own flesh, so
does the Lord his church," Eph. 5: 29. Christ has a fellow feeling with
his saints in all their troubles, as a man has with his own flesh. This
act of the conjugal love of Christ relates to the many trials and
pressures of afflictions that his saints meet withal here below. He
does not deal with believers as the Samaritans with the Jews, that
fawned on them in their prosperity, but despised them in their trouble;
he is as a tender father, who, though perhaps he love all his children
alike, yet he will take most pains with, and give most of his presence
unto, one that is sick and weak, though therein and thereby he may be
made most froward, and, as it should seem, hardest to be borne with.
And (which is more than the pity of any father can extend to) he
himself suffers with them, and takes share in all their troubles.
    Now, all the sufferings of the saints in this world, wherein their
head and husband exerciseth pity, tenderness, care, and compassion
towards them, are of two sorts, or may be referred to two heads: - 1.
Temptations. 2. Afflictions.
    1. Temptations (under which head I comprise sin also, whereto they
tend); as in, from, and by their own infirmities; as also from their
adversaries without. The frame of the heart of Christ, and his
deportment towards them in this condition, you have, Heb. 4: 15, "We
have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our
infirmities". We have not such a one as cannot. The two negations do
vehemently affirm that we have such an high priest as can be, or is,
touched. The word "touched" comes exceedingly short of expressing the
original word; it is "sumpatesai", - to "suffer together." "We have,"
saith the apostle, "such an high priest as can, and consequently does,
suffer with us, - endure our infirmities." And in what respect he
suffers with us in regard of our infirmities, or has a fellow-feeling
with us in them, he declares in the next words, "He was tempted like as
we are," verse 15. It is as to our infirmities, our temptations,
spiritual weakness; therein, in particular, has he a compassionate
sympathy and fellow-feeling with us. Whatever be our infirmities, so
far as they are our temptations, he does suffer with us under them, and
compassionates us. Hence at the last day he saith, "I was an hungered,"
etc. There are two ways of expressing a fellow-feeling and suffering
with another: - (1.) Per benevolam condolentiam, - a "friendly
grieving." (2.) Per gratiosam opitulationem, - a "gracious supply:"
both are eminent in Christ: -
    (1.) He grieves and labours with us. Zech. 1: 12, "The angel of
the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not
have mercy on Jerusalem?" He speaks as one intimately affected with the
state and condition of poor Jerusalem; and therefore he has bid all the
world take notice that what is done to them is done to him, chap. 2: 8,
9; yea, to "the apple of his eye."
    (2.) In the second he abounds. Isa. 40: 11, "He shall feed his
flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and
carry them in his bosom, and gently lead them that are with young."
Yea, we have both here together, - tender compassionateness and
assistance. The whole frame wherein he is here described is a frame of
the greatest tenderness, compassion, condescension that can be
imagined. His people are set forth under many infirmities; some are
lambs, some great with young, some very tender, some burdened with
temptations, - nothing in any of them all strong or comely. To them all
Christ is a shepherd, that feeds his own sheep, and drives them out to
pleasant pasture; where, if he sees a poor weak lamb, [he] does not
thrust him on, but takes him into his bosom, where he both easeth and
refresheth him: he leads him gently and tenderly. As did Jacob them
that were burdened with young, so does our dear Lord Jesus with his
flock, in the several ways and paths wherein he leads them. When he
sees a poor soul, weak, tender, halting, ready to sink and perish, he
takes him into his arms, by some gracious promise administered to him,
carries him, bears him up when he is not able to go one step forward.
Hence is his great quarrel with those shepherds, Ezek. 34: 4, "Woe be
to you shepherds! the diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have
ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was
broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away,
neither have ye sought that which was lost." This is that which our
careful, tender husband would have done.
    So mention being made of his compassionateness and fellow-
suffering with us, Heb. 4: 15, it is added, verse 16, that he
administers "charin eis eukairon boeteian", - seasonable grace, grace
for help in a time of need. This is an evidence of compassion, when,
like the Samaritan, we afford seasonable help. To lament our troubles
or miseries, without affording help, is to no purpose. Now, this Christ
does; he gives "eukairon boeteian", seasonable help. Help being a thing
that regards want, is always excellent; but its coming in season puts a
crown upon it. A pardon to a malefactor when he is ready to be
executed, is sweet and welcome. Such is the assistance given by Christ.
All his saints may take this as a sure rule, both in their temptations
and afflictions: - when they can want them, they shall not want relief;
and when they can bear no longer, they shall be relieved, 1 Cor. 10:
13.
    So it is said emphatically of him, Heb. 2: 18, "In that he himself
has suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are
tempted." It is true, there is something in all our temptations more
than was in the temptation of Christ. There is something in ourselves
to take part with every temptation; and there is enough in ourselves to
tempt us, though nothing else should appear against us. With Christ it
was not so, John 14: 30. But this is so far from taking off his
compassion towards us, that, on all accounts whatever, it does increase
it; for if he will give us succour because we are tempted, the sorer
our temptations are, the more ready will he be to succour us. Take some
instances of Christ's giving "eukairon boeteian", - seasonable help in
and under temptations unto sin. Now this he does several ways: -
    [1.] By keeping the soul which is liable to temptation and exposed
to it, in a strong habitual bent against that sin that he is obnoxious
to the assaults of. So it was in the case of Joseph: Christ knew that
Joseph's great trial, and that whereon if he had been conquered he had
been undone, would lie upon the hand of his mistress tempting him to
lewdness; whereupon he kept his heart in a steady frame against that
sin, as his answer without the least deliberation argues, Gen. 39: 9.
In other things, wherein he was not so deeply concerned, Joseph's heart
was not so fortified by habitual grace; as it appears by his swearing
by the life of Pharaoh. This is one way whereby Christ gives suitable
help to his, in tenderness and compassion. The saints, in the course of
their lives, by the company, society, business, they are cast upon, are
liable and exposed to temptations great and violent, some in one kind,
some in another. Herein is Christ exceedingly kind and tender to them,
in fortifying their hearths with abundance of grace as to that sin unto
temptations whereunto they are most exposed; when perhaps in other
things they are very weak, and are often surprised.
    [2.] Christ sometimes, by some strong impulse of actual grace,
recovers the soul from the very borders of sin. So it was in the case
of David, 1 Sam. 24: 4-6. "He was almost gone," as he speaks himself;
"his feet had well-nigh slipped." The temptation was at the door of
prevalence, when a mighty impulse of grace recovers him. To show his
saints what they are, their own weakness and infirmity, he sometimes
suffers them to go to the very edge and brow of the hill, and then
causeth them to hear a word behind them saying, "This is the right way,
walk in it," - and that with power and efficacy; and so recovers them
to himself.
    [3.] By taking away the temptation itself, when it grows so strong
and violent that the poor soul knows not what to do. This is called
"delivering the godly out of temptation," 2 Pet. 2: 9, as a man is
plucked out of the snare, and the snare left behind to hold another.
This have I known to be the case of many, in sundry perplexing
temptations. When they have been quite weary, have tried all means of
help and assistance, and have not been able to come to a comfortable
issue, on a sudden, unexpectedly, the Lord Christ, in his tenderness
and compassion, rebukes Satan, that they hear not one word more of him
as to their temptation. Christ comes in in the storm, and saith,
"Peace, be still."
    [4.] By giving in fresh supplies of grace, according as
temptations do grow or increase. So was it in the case of Paul, 2 Cor.
12: 9, "My grace is sufficient for thee." The temptation, whatever it
were, grew high; Paul was earnest for its removal; and receives only
this answer, of the sufficiency of the grace of God for his
supportment, notwithstanding all the growth and increase of the
temptation.
    [5.] By giving them wisdom to make a right, holy, and spiritual
improvement of all temptations. James bids us "count it all joy when we
fall into divers temptations," James 1: 2, which could not be done were
there not a holy and spiritual use to be made of them; which also
himself manifests in the words following. There are manifold uses of
temptations, which experienced Christians, with assistance suitable
from Christ, may make of them. This is not the least, that by them we
are brought to know ourselves. So Hezekiah was left to be tried, to
know what was in him. By temptation, some bosom, hidden corruption is
oftentimes discovered, that the soul knew not of before. As it was with
Hazael in respect of enormous crimes, so in lesser things with the
saints. They would never have believed there had been such lusts and
corruptions in them as they have discovered upon their temptations.
Yea, divers having been tempted to one sin, have discovered another
that they thought not of; as some, being tempted to pride, or
worldliness, or looseness of conversation, have been startled by it,
and led to a discovery of neglect of many duties and much communion
with God, which before they thought not of. And this is from the tender
care of Jesus Christ, giving them in suitable help; without which no
man can possibly make use of or improve a temptation. And this is a
suitable help indeed, whereby a temptation which otherwise, or to other
persons, might be a deadly wound, proves the lancing of a festered
sore, and the letting out of corruption that otherwise might have
endangered the life itself. So, 1 Pet. 1: 6, "If need be ye are in
heaviness through manifold temptations."
    [6.] When the soul is at any time more or less overcome by
temptations, Christ in his tenderness relieves it with mercy and
pardon; so that his shall not sink utterly under their burden, 1 John
2: 1, 2.
    By one, more, or all of these ways, does the Lord Jesus manifest
his conjugal tenderness and compassion towards the saints, in and under
their temptations.
    2. Christ is compassionate towards them in their afflictions: "In
all their affliction he is afflicted," Isa. 63: 9; yea, it seems that
all our afflictions (at least those of one sort, - namely, which
consist in persecutions) are his in the first place, ours only by
participation. Col. 1: 24, We "fill up the measure of the afflictions
of Christ." Two things evidently manifest this compassionateness in
Christ: -
    (1.) His interceding with his Father for their relief, Zech. 1:
12. Christ intercedeth on our behalf, not only in respect of our sins,
but also our sufferings; and when the work of our afflictions is
accomplished, we shall have the reliefs he intercedes for. The Father
always hears him; and we have not a deliverance from trouble, a
recovering of health, ease of pain, freedom from any evil that ever
laid hold upon us, but it is given us on the intercession of Jesus
Christ. Believers are unacquainted with their own condition, if they
look upon their mercies as dispensed in a way of common providence. And
this may, indeed, be a cause why we esteem them no more, are no more
thankful for them, nor fruitful in the enjoyment of them: - we see not
how, by what means, nor on what account, they are dispensed to us. The
generation of the people of God in the world are at this day alive,
undevoured, merely on the account of the intercession of the Lord
Jesus. His compassionateness has been the fountain of their
deliverances. Hence oftentimes he rebukes their sufferings and
afflictions, that they shall not act to the utmost upon them when they
are under them. He is with them when they pass through fire and water,
Isa. 43: 2, 3.
    (2.) In that he does and will, in the winding up of the matter, so
sorely revenge the quarrel of their sufferings upon their enemies. He
avenges his elect that cry unto him; yea, he does it speedily. The
controversy of Zion leads on the day of his vengeance, Isa. 34: 8. He
looks upon them sometimes in distress, and considers what is the state
of the world in reference to them. Zech. 1: 11, "We have walked to and
fro through the earth, and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is
at rest," say his messengers to him, whom he sent to consider the world
and its condition during the affliction of his people. This commonly is
the condition of the world in such a season, "They are at rest and
quiet, their hearts are abundantly satiated; they drink wine in bowls,
and send gifts to one another." Then Christ looks to see who will come
in for their succour, Isa. 59: 16,17; and ending none engaging himself
for their relief, by the destruction of their adversaries, himself
undertakes it. Now, this vengeance he accomplishes two ways: -
    [1.] Temporally, upon persons, kingdoms, nations, and countries;
(a type whereof you have, Isa. 63: 1-6); as he did it upon the old
Roman world, Rev. 6: 15, 16. And this also he does two ways: -
    1st. By calling out here and there an eminent opposer, and making
him an example to all the world. So he dealt with Pharaoh: "For this
cause have I raised thee up," Exod. 9: 16. So he does to this day; he
lays his hand upon eminent adversaries, - fills one with fury, another
with folly, blasts a third, and makes another wither, or destroys them
utterly and terribly. As a provoked lion, he lies not down without his
prey.
    2dly. In general, in the vials of his wrath which he will in these
latter days pour out upon the antichristian world, and all that partake
with them in their thoughts of vengeance and persecution. He will
miserably destroy them, and make such work with them in the issue, that
whosoever hears, both his ears shall tingle.
    [2.] In eternal vengeance will he plead with the adversaries of
his beloved, Matt. 25: 41-46; 2 Thess. 1: 6; Jude 15. It is hence
evident that Christ abounds in pity and compassion towards his beloved.
Instances might be multiplied, but these things are obvious, and occur
to the thoughts of all.
    In answer to this, I place in the saints chastity unto Christ, in
every state and condition. That this might be the state of the church
of Corinth, the apostle made it his endeavour. 2 Cor. 11: 2, 3, "I have
espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin
to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve
through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the
simplicity that is in Christ." And so is it said of the followers of
the Lamb, on mount Sion, Rev. 14: 4, "These are they which were not
defiled with women, for they are virgins." What defilement that was
they were free from, shall be afterward declared.
    Now, there are three things wherein this chastity consists: -
    1. The not taking any thing into their affections and esteem for
those ends and purposes for which they have received Jesus Christ. Here
the Galatians failed in their conjugal affection to Christ; they
preserved not themselves chaste to him. They had received Christ for
life, and justification, and him only; but being after a while overcome
with charms, or bewitched, they took into the same place with him the
righteousness of the law. How Paul deals with them hereupon is known.
How sorely, how pathetically does he admonish them, how severely
reprove them, how clearly convince them of their madness and folly!
This, then, is the first chaste affection believers bear in their heart
to Christ: - having received him for their righteousness and salvation
before God, for the fountain, spring, and well-head of all their
supplies, they will not now receive any other thing into his room and
in his stead. As to instance, in one particular: - We receive him for
ours acceptance with God. All that here can stand in competition with
him for our affections, must be our own endeavours for a righteousness
to commend us to God. Now, this must be either before we receive him,
or after. [As] for all duties and endeavours, of what sort soever, for
the pleasing of God before our receiving of Christ, you know what was
the apostle's frame, Phil. 3: 8-10. All endeavours, all advantages, all
privileges, he rejects with indignation, as loss, - with abomination,
as dung; and winds up all his aims and desires in Christ alone and his
righteousness, for those ends and purposes. But the works we do after
we have received Christ are of another consideration. Indeed, they are
acceptable to God; it pleaseth him that we should walk in them. But as
to that end for which we receive Christ, they are of no other account
than the former, Eph. 2: 8-10. Even the works we do after believing, -
those which we are created unto in Christ Jesus, those that God has
ordained that believers "should walk in them," - as to justification
and acceptance with God, (here called salvation), are excluded. It will
one day appear that Christ abhors the manglings of men about the place
of their own works and obedience, in the business of their acceptation
with God; nor will the saints find any peace in adulterous thoughts of
that kind. The chastity we owe unto him requires another frame. The
necessity, usefulness, and excellency of gospel obedience shall be
afterward declared. It is marvellous to see how hard it is to keep some
professors to any faithfulness with Christ in this thing; - how many
disputes have been managed, how many distinctions invented, how many
shifts and evasions studied, to keep up something, in some place or
other, to some purpose or other, that they may dally withal. Those that
love him indeed are otherwise minded.
    Herein, then, of all things, do the saints endeavour to keep their
affections chaste and loyal to Jesus Christ. He is made unto them of
God "righteousness;" and they will own nothing else to that purpose:
yea, sometimes they know not whether they have any interest in him or
no, - he absents and withdraws himself; they still continue solitary,
in a state of widowhood, refusing to be comforted, though many things
offer themselves to that purpose, because he is not. When Christ is at
any time absent from the soul, when it cannot see that it has any
interest in him, many lovers offer themselves to it, many woo its
affections, to get it to rest on this or that thing for relief and
succour; but though it go mourning never so long, it will have nothing
but Christ to lean upon. Whenever the soul is in the wilderness, in the
saddest condition, there it will stay until Christ come for to take it
up, until it can come forth leaning upon him, Cant. 8: 5. The many
instances of this that the book of Canticles affords us, we have in
part spoken of before.
    This does he who has communion with Christ: - he watcheth
diligently over his own heart, that nothing creep into its affections,
to give it any peace or establishment before God, but Christ only.
Whenever that question is to be answered, "Wherewith shall I come
before the LORD, and appear before the high God?" he does not gather
up, "This or that I will do;" or, "Here and there I will watch, and
amend my ways;" but instantly he cries, "In the Lord Jesus have I
righteousness, All my desire is, to be found in him, not having on my
own righteousness."
    2. In cherishing that Spirit, that holy Comforter, which Christ
sends to us, to abide with us in his room and stead. He tells us that
he sends him to that purpose, John 16: 7. He gives him to us, "vicariam
navare operam," saith Tertullian, - to abide with us for ever, for all
those ends and purposes which he has to fulfil toward us and upon us;
he gives him to dwell in us, to keep us, and preserve us blameless for
himself. His name is in him, and with him: and it is upon this account
that whatever is done to any of Christ's is done to him, because it is
done to them in whom he is and dwells by his Spirit. Now, herein do the
saints preserve their conjugal affections entire to Christ, that they
labour by all means not to grieve his Holy Spirit, which he has sent in
his stead to abide with them. This the apostle puts them in mind of,
Eph. 4: 30, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit."
    There be two main ends for which Christ sends his Spirit to
believers: - (1.) For their sanctification; (2.) For their consolation:
to which two all the particular acts of purging, teaching, anointing,
and the rest that are ascribed to him, may be referred. So there be two
ways whereby we may grieve him: - [1]. In respect of sanctification;
[2.] In respect of consolation: -
    (1.) In respect of sanctification. He is the Spirit of holiness, -
holy in himself, and the author of holiness in us: he works it in us,
Tit. 3: 5, and he persuades us to it, by those motions of his which are
not to be quenched. Now, this, in the first place, grieves the Spirit,
when he is carrying on in us and for us a work so infinitely for our
advantage, and without which we cannot see God, that we should run
cross to him, in ways of unholiness, pollution, and defilement. So the
connection of the words in the place before mentioned manifests, Eph.
4: 28-31; and thence does Paul bottom his powerful and most effectual
persuasion unto holiness, even from the abode and indwelling of this
Holy Spirit with us, 1 Cor. 3: 16,17. Indeed, what can grieve a loving
and tender friend more than to oppose him and slight him when he is
most intent about our good, - and that a good of the greatest
consequence to us. In this, then, believers make it their business to
keep their hearts loyal and their affections chaste to Jesus Christ.
They labour instantly not to grieve the Holy Spirit by loose and
foolish, by careless and negligent walking, which he has sent to dwell
and abide with them. Therefore shall no anger, wrath, malice, envy,
dwell in their hearts; because they are contrary to the holy, meek
Spirit of Christ, which he has given to dwell with them. They attend to
his motions, make use of his assistance, improve his gifts, and nothing
lies more upon their spirits, than that they may walk worthy of the
presence of this holy substitute of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    (2.) As to consolation. This is the second great end for which
Christ gives and sends his Spirit to us; who from thence, by the way of
eminency, is called "The Comforter." To this end he seals us, anoints
us, establishes us, and gives us peace and joy. Of all which I shall
afterward speak at large. Now, there be two ways whereby he may be
grieved as to this end of his mission, and our chastity to Jesus Christ
thereby violated: -
    [1.] By placing our comforts and joys in other things, and not
being filled with joy in the Holy Ghost. When we make creatures or
creature comforts - any thing whatever but what we receive by the
Spirit of Christ - to be our joy and our delight, we are false with
Christ. So was it with Demas, who loved the present world. When the
ways of the Spirit of God are grievous and burdensome to us, - when we
say, "When will the Sabbath be past, that we may exact all our
labours?" - when our delight and refreshment lies in earthly things, -
we are unsuitable to Christ. May not his Spirit say, "Why do I still
abide with these poor souls? I provide them joys unspeakable and
glorious; but they refuse them, for perishing things. I provide them
spiritual, eternal, abiding consolations, and it is all rejected for a
thing of nought." This Christ cannot bear; wherefore, believers are
exceeding careful in this, not to place their joy and consolation in
any thing but what is administered by the Spirit. Their daily work is,
to get their hearts crucified to the world and the things of it, and
the world to their hearts; that they may not have living affections to
dying things: they would fain look on the world as a crucified, dead
thing, that has neither form nor beauty; and if at any times they have
been entangled with creatures and inferior contentment, and have lost
their better joys, they cry out to Christ, "O restore to us the joys of
thy Spirit!"
    [2.] He is grieved when, through darkness and unbelief, we will
not, do not, receive those consolations which he tenders to us, and
which he is abundantly willing that we should receive. But of this I
shall have occasion to speak afterward, in handling our communion with
the Holy Ghost.
    3. In [keeping] this institutions, or matter and manner of his
worship. Christ marrying his church to himself, taking it to that
relation, still expresseth the main of their chaste and choice
affections to him to lie in their keeping his institutions and his
worship according to his appointment. The breach of this he calls
"adultery" everywhere, and "whoredom." He is a "jealous God;" and he
gives himself that title only in respect of his institutions. And the
whole apostasy of the Christian church unto false worship is called
"fornication;" and the church that leads the others to false worship,
the "mother of harlots." On this account, those believers who really
attend to communion with Jesus Christ, do labour to keep their hearts
chaste to him in his ordinances, institutions, and worship; and that
two ways: -
    (1.) They will receive nothing, practice nothing, own nothing his
worship, but what is of his appointment. They know that from the
foundation of the world he never did allow, nor ever will, that in any
thing the will of the creatures should be the measure of his honour or
the principle of his worship, either as to matter or manner. It was a
witty and true sense that one gave of the second commandment: "Non
image, non simulachrum prohibetur; set non facies tibi;" - it is a
making to ourselves, an inventing, a finding out, ways of worship, or
means of honouring God, not by him appointed, that is so severely
forbidden. Believers know what entertainment all will worship finds
with God: "Who has required these things at your hand?" and, "In vain
do you worship me, teaching for doctrines the traditions of men," - his
the best it meets with. I shall take leave to say what is upon my
heart, and what (the Lord assisting) I shall willingly endeavour to
make good against all the world, - namely, that that principle, that
the church has power to institute and appoint any thing or ceremony
belonging to the worship of God, either as to matter or to manner,
beyond the orderly observance of such circumstances as necessarily
attend such ordinances as Christ himself has instituted, lies at the
bottom of all the horrible superstition and idolatry, of all the
confusion, blood, persecution, and wars, that have for so long a season
spread themselves over the face of the Christian world; and that it is
the design of a great part of the Revelation to make a discovery of
this truth. And I doubt not but that the great controversy which God
has had with this nation for so many years, and which he has pursued
with so much anger and indignation, was upon this account: - that,
contrary to that glorious light of the gospel which shone among us, the
wills and fancies of men, under the name of order, decency, and the
authority of the church (a chimera that none knew what it was, nor
wherein the power of it did consist, nor in whom reside), were imposed
on men in the ways and worship of God. Neither was all that pretence of
glory, beauty, comeliness, and conformity, that then was pleaded, any
thing more or less than what God does so describe in the church of
Israel, Ezek. 16: 25, and forwards. Hence was the Spirit of God in
prayer derided; hence was the powerful preaching of the gospel
despised; hence was the Sabbath decried; hence was holiness stigmatised
and persecuted; - to what end? That Jesus Christ might be deposed from
the sole privilege and power of law-making in his church; that the true
husband might be thrust aside, and adulterers of his spouse embraced;
that taskmasters might be appointed in and over his house, which he
never gave to his church, Eph. 4: 11; that a ceremonious, pompous,
outward show worship, drawn from Pagan, Judaical, and Antichristian
observations, might be introduced; - of all which there is not one
word, little, or iota, in the whole book of God. This, then, they who
hold communion with Christ are careful of: - they will admit of
nothing, practice nothing, in the worship of God, private or public,
but what they have his warrant for; unless it comes in his name, with
"Thus saith the Lord Jesus," they will not hear an angel from heaven."
They know the apostles themselves were to teach the saints only what
Christ commanded them, Matt. 28: 20. You know how many in this very
nation, in the days not long since past, yea, how many thousands, left
their native soil, and went into a vast and howling wilderness in the
utmost parts of the world, to keep their souls undefiled and chaste to
their dear Lord Jesus, as to this of his worship and institutions.
    (2.) They readily embrace, receive, and practice every thing that
the Lord Christ has appointed. They inquire diligently into his mind
and will, that they may know it. They go to him for directions, and beg
of him to lead them in the way they have not known. The 119th Psalm may
he a pattern for this. How does the good, holy soul breathe after
instruction in the ways and ordinances, the statutes and judgements, of
God! This, I say, they are tender in: whatever is of Christ, they
willingly submit unto, accept of, and give up themselves to the
constant practice thereof; whatever comes on any other account they
refuse.
    IV. Christ manifests and evidences his love to his saints in a way
of bounty, - in that rich, plentiful provision he makes for them. It
has " pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell," Col. 1:
19; and that for this end, that " of his fulness we might all receive,
and grace for grace," John 1: 16. I shall not insist upon the
particulars of that provision which Christ makes for his saints, with
all those influences of the Spirit of life and grace that daily they
receive from him, - that bread that he gives them to the full, the
refreshment they have from him; I shall only observe this, that the
Scripture affirms him to do all things for them in an abundant manner,
or to do it richly, in a way of bounty. Whatever he gives us, - his
grace to assist us, his presence to comfort us, - he does it
abundantly. You have the general assertion of it, Rom. 5: 20, " Where
sin abounded, grace did much more abound." If grace abound much more in
comparison of sin, it is abundant grace indeed; as will easily be
granted by any that shall consider how flirt has abounded, and does, in
every soul. Hence he is said to be able, and we are bid to expect that
he should do for us " exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or
think," Eph. 3: 20. Is it pardoning mercy we receive of him? why, he
does " abundantly pardon," Isa. lo. 7; he will multiply or add to
pardon, - he will add pardon to pardon, that grace and mercy shall
abound above all our sins and iniquities. Is it the Spirit he gives us?
he sheds him upon us richly or " abundantly," Tit. 3: 6; not only
bidding us drink of the water of life freely, but also bestowing him in
such a plentiful measure, that rivers of water shall flow from them
that receive him, John 7: 38, 39, - that they shall never thirst any
more when have drank of him. Is it grace that we receive of him? he
gives that also in a way of bounty; we receive "abundance of grace,"
Rom. 5: 17; he " abounds toward us in all wisdom and prudence," Eph. 1:
8. Hence is that invitation, Cant. 5: 1. If in any things, then, we are
straitened, it is in ourselves; Christ deals bountifully with us
Indeed, the great sin of believers is, that they make not use of
Christ's bounty as they ought to do; that we do not every day take of
him mercy in abundance. The oil never ceaseth till the vessels cease;
supplies from Christ fail not but only when our faith fails in
receiving them.
    Then our return to Christ is in a way of duty. Unto this two
things are required: -
    1. That we follow after and practice holiness in the power of it,
as it is obedience unto Jesus Christ. Under this formality, as
obedience to him, all gospel obedience is called, "whatsoever Christ
commands us," Matt. 28: 20; and saith he, John 15: 14, "Ye are my
friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you;" and it is required of us
that we live to him who died for us, 2 Cor. 5: 15, - live to him in all
holy obedience, - live to him as our Lord and King. Not that I suppose
there are peculiar precepts and a peculiar law of Jesus Christ, in the
observance whereof we are justified, as the Socinians fancy; for surely
the gospel requires of us no more, but "to love the Lord our God with
all our hearts, and all our souls," which the law also required; - but
that, the Lord Jesus having brought us into a condition of acceptance
with God, wherein our obedience is well-pleasing to him, and we being
to honour him as we honour the Father, that we have a respect and
peculiar regard to him in all our obedience. So Tit. 2: 14, he has
purchased us unto himself. And thus believers do in their obedience;
they eye Jesus Christ, -
    (1.) As the author of their faith and obedience, for whose sake it
is "given to them to believe," Phil. 1: 29; and who by his Spirit works
that obedience in them. So the apostle, Heb. 12: 1, 2; in the course of
our obedience we still look to Jesus, "the author of our faith." Faith
is here both the grace of faith, and the fruit of it in obedience.
    (2.) As him in, for, and by whom we have acceptance with God in
our obedience. They know all their duties are weak, imperfect, not able
to abide the presence of God; and therefore they look to Christ as him
who bears the iniquity of their holy things, who adds incense to their
prayers, gathers out all the weeds of their duties, and makes them
acceptable to God.
    (3.) As one that has renewed the commands of God unto them, with
mighty obligations unto obedience. So the apostle, 2 Cor. 5: 14, 15,
"The love of Christ constraineth us;" of which afterward.
    (4.) They consider him as God, equal with his Father, to whom all
honour and obedience is due. So Rev. 5: 13. But these things I have,
not long since, opened in another treatise, dealing about the worship
of Christ as mediator. This, then, the saints do in all their
obedience; they have a special regard to their dear Lord Jesus. He is,
on all these accounts, and innumerable others, continually in their
thoughts. His love to them, his life for them, his death for them, -
all his kindness and mercy constrains them to live to him.
    2. By labouring to abound in fruits of holiness. As he deals with
us in a way of bounty, and deals out unto us abundantly, so he requires
that we abound in all grateful, obediential returns to him. So we are
exhorted to "be always abounding in the work of the Lord," 1 Cor. 15:
58. This is that I intend: - the saints are not satisfied with that
measure that at any time they have attained, but are still pressing,
that they may be more dutiful, more fruitful to Christ.
    And this is a little glimpse of some of that communion which we
enjoy with Christ. It is but a little, from him who has the least
experience of it of all the saints of God; who yet has found that in it
which is better than ten thousand worlds; who desires to spend the
residue of the few and evil days of his pilgrimage in pursuit hereof, -
in the contemplation of the excellencies, desirableness, love, and
grace of our dear Lord Jesus, and in making returns of obedience
according to his will: to whose soul, in the midst of the perplexities
of this wretched world, and cursed rebellions of his own heart, this is
the great relief, that "He that shall come will come, and will not
tarry." "The Spirit and the bride say, Come; and let him that readeth
say, Come. Even so, come, Lord Jesus."
    
    
    
    

Chapter 6. Of communion with Christ in purchased grace - Purchased
     grace considered in respect of its rise and fountain - The first
     rise of it, in the obedience of Christ - Obedience properly
     ascribed to Christ - Two ways considered: what it was, and wherein
     it did consist - Of his obedience to the law in general - Of the
     law of the Mediator - His habitual righteousness, how necessary;
     as also his obedience to the law of the Mediator - Of his actual
     obedience or active righteousness - All Christ's obedience
     performed as he was Mediator - His active obedience for us - This
     proved at large, Gal. 4: 4, 5; Rom. 5: 19; Phil. 3: 10; Zech. 3: 3-
     5 - One objection removed - Considerations of Christ's active
     righteousness closed - Of the death of Christ, and its influence
     into our acceptation with God - A price; redemption, what it is -
     A sacrifice; atonement made thereby - A punishment; satisfaction
     thereby - The intercession of Christ; with its influence into our
     acceptation with God.
    
    Our process is now to communion with Christ in purchased grace, as
it was before proposed: "That we may know him, and the power of his
resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, and be made
conformable to his death," Phil 3: 10.
    By purchased grace, I understand all that righteousness and grace
which Christ has procured, or wrought out for us, or does by any means
make us partakers of, or bestows on us for our benefit, by any thing
that he has done or suffered, or by any thing he continueth to do as
mediator: - First, What this purchased grace is, and wherein it does
consist; Secondly, How we hold communion with Christ therein; are the
things that now come under consideration.
    The First may be considered two ways: - 1. In respect of the rise
and fountain of it; 2. Of its nature, or wherein it consisteth.
    1. It has a threefold rise, spring, or causality in Christ: - (1.)
The obedience of his life. (2.) The suffering of his death. (3.) His
continued intercession. All the actions of Christ as mediator, leading
to the communication of grace unto us, may be either referred to these
heads, or to some things that are subservient to them or consequent of
them.
    2. For the nature of this grace wherein we have communion with
Christ, flowing from these heads and fountains, it may be referred to
these three: - (1.) Grace of justification, or acceptation with God;
which makes a relative change in us, as to state and condition. (2.)
Grace of sanctification, or holiness before God; which makes a real
change in us, as to principle and operation. (3.) Grace of privilege;
which is mixed, as we shall show, if I go forth to the handling
thereof.
    Now, that we have communion with Christ in this purchased grace,
is evident on this single consideration, - that there is almost nothing
that Christ has done, which is a spring of that grace whereof we speak,
but we are said to do it with him. We are "crucified" with him, Gal. 2:
20; we are "dead" with him, 2 Tim. 2: 11; Col. 3: 3; and "buried" with
him, Rom. 6: 4; Col. 2: 12; we are "quickened together with him," Col.
2: 13; "risen" with him, Col. 3: 1. "He has quickened us together with
Christ, and has raised us up together, and made us sit together in
heavenly places," Eph. 2: 5, 6. In the acting of Christ, there is, by
virtue of the compact between him as mediator, and the Father, such an
assured foundation laid of the communication of the fruits of those
acting unto those in whose stead he performed them, that they are said,
in the participation of those fruits, to have done the same things with
him. The life and power of which truth we may have occasion hereafter
to inquire into: -
    (1.) The first fountain and spring of this grace, wherein we have
our communion with Christ, is first to be considered; and that is the
obedience of his life: concerning which it must be declared, - [1.]
What it is that is intended thereby, and wherein it consisteth. [2.]
What influence it has into the grace whereof we speak.
    To the handling of this I shall only premise this observation, -
namely, that in the order of procurement, the life of Christ (as was
necessary) precedeth his death; and therefore we shall handle it in the
first place: but in the order of application, the benefits of his death
are bestowed on us antecedently, in the nature of the things
themselves, unto those of his life; as will appeal; and that
necessarily, from the state and condition wherein we are.
    [1.] By the obedience of the life of Christ, I intend the
universal conformity of the Lord Jesus Christ, as he was or is, in his
being mediator, to the whole will of God; and his complete actual
fulfilling of the whole of every law of God, or doing of all that God
in them required. He might have been perfectly holy by obedience to the
law of creation, the moral law, as the angels were; neither could any
more, as a man walking with God, be required of him: but he submitted
himself also to every law or ordinance that was introduced upon the
occasion of sin, which, on his own account, he could not be subject to,
it becoming him to "fulfil all righteousness," Matt. 3: 15, as he spake
in reference to a newly-instituted ceremony.
    That obedience is properly ascribed unto Jesus Christ as mediator,
the Scripture is witness, both as to name and thing Heb. 5: 8, "Though
he were a Son, yet learned he obedience," etc.; yea, he was obedient in
his sufferings, and it was that which gave life to his death, Phil. 2:
8. He was obedient to death: for therein "he did make his soul an
offering for sin," Isa. 53: 10; or, "his soul made an offering for
sin," as it is interpreted, verse 12, "he poured out his soul to
death," or, "his soul poured out itself unto death." And he not only
sanctified himself to be an offering, John 17: 10, but he also "offered
up himself," Heb. 9: 14, an "offering of a sweet savour to God," Eph.
5: 2. Hence, as to the whole of his work, he is called the Father's
"servant," Isa. 42: l, and verse 19: and he professes of himself that
he "came into the world to do the will of God, the will of him that
sent him;" for which he manifests "his great readiness," Heb. 10: 7; -
all which evince his obedience. But I suppose I need not insist on the
proof of this, that Christ, in the work of mediation, and as mediator,
was obedient, and did what he did willingly and cheerfully, in
obedience to God.
    Now, this obedience of Christ may be considered two ways: - 1st.
As to the habitual root and fountain of it. 2dly. As to the actual
parts or duties of it: -
    1st. The habitual righteousness of Christ as mediator in his human
nature, was the absolute, complete, exact conformity of the soul of
Christ to the will, mind, or law of God; or his perfect habitually
inherent righteousness. This he had necessarily from the grace of
union; from whence it is that that which was born of the virgin was a
"holy thing," Luke 1: 35. It was, I say, necessary consequentially,
that it should be so; though the effecting of it were by the free
operations of the Spirit, Luke 2: 52. He had an all-fulness of grace on
all accounts. This the apostle describes, Heb. 7: 26, "Such an high
priest became us, holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners."
Every way separate and distant from sin and sinners he was to be;
whence he is called "The Lamb of God, without spot or blemish," 1 Pet.
1: 19. This habitual holiness of Christ was inconceivably above that of
the angels. He who chargeth his angels with folly," Job 4: 18; "who
putteth no trust in his saints; and in whose sight the heavens" (or
their inhabitants) "are not clean," chap. 15: 15; always embraceth him
in his bosom, and is always well pleased with him, Matt. 3: 17. And the
reason of this is, because every other creature, though never so holy,
has the Spirit of God by measure; but he was not given to Christ "by
measure," John 3: 34; and that because it pleased him that in him
"should all fulness dwell," Col. 1: 19. This habitual grace of Christ,
though not absolutely infinite, yet, in respect of any other creature,
it is as the water of the sea to the water of a pond or pool. All other
creatures are depressed from perfection by this, - that they subsist in
a created, dependent being; and so have the fountain of what is
communicated to them without them. But the human nature of Christ
subsists in the person of the Son of God; and so has the bottom and
fountain of its holiness in the strictest unity with itself.
    2dly. The actual obedience of Christ, as was said, was his
willing, cheerful, obediential performance of every thing, duty, or
command, that God, by virtue of any law whereto we were subject and
obnoxious, did require; and [his obedience], moreover, to the peculiar
law of the mediator. Hereof, then, are two parts: -
    (1st.) That whatever was required of us by virtue of any law, -
that he did and fulfilled. Whatever was required of us by the law of
nature, in our state of innocence; whatever kind of duty was added by
morally positive or ceremonial institutions; whatever is required of us
in way of obedience to righteous judicial laws, - he did it all. Hence
he is said to be "made under the law," Gal. 4: 4; subject or obnoxious
to it, to all the precepts or commands of it. So, Matt. 3: 15, he said
it became him to "fulfil all righteousness," - "pasan dikaiosunen", -
all manner of righteousness whatever; that is, everything that God
required, as is evident from the application of that general axiom to
the baptism of John. I shall not need, for this, to go to particular
instances, in the duties of the law of nature, - to God and his
parents; of morally positive [duties], in the Sabbath, and other acts
of worship; of the ceremonial law, in circumcision, and observation of
all the rites of the Judaical church; of the judicial, in paying
tribute to governors; - it will suffice, I presume, that on the one
hand he "did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth;" and on the
other, that he "fulfilled all righteousness:" and thereupon the Father
was always well pleased with him. This was that which he owned of
himself, that he came to do the will of God; and he did it.
    (2dly.) There was a peculiar law of the Mediator, which respected
himself merely, and contained all those acts and duties of his which
are not for our imitation. So that obedience which he showed in dying
was peculiarly to this law, John 10: 18, "I have power to lay down my
life: this commandment have I received of my Father." As mediator, he
received this peculiar command of his Father, that he should lay down
his life, and take it again; and he was obedient thereunto. Hence we
say, he who is mediator did some things merely as a man, subject to the
law of God in general; so he prayed for his persecutors, - those that
put him to death, Luke 23: 34; - some things as mediator; so he prayed
for his elect only, John 17: 9. There were not worse in the world,
really and evidently, than many of them that crucified him; yet, as a
man, subject to the law, he forgave them, and prayed for them. When he
prayed as mediator, his Father always heard him and answered him, John
11: 41; and in the other prayers he was accepted as one exactly
performing his duty.
    This, then, is the obedience of Christ; which was the first thing
proposed to be considered. The next is, -
    [2.] That it has an influence into the grace of which we speak,
wherein we hold communion with him, - namely, our free acceptation with
God; what that influence is, must also follow in its order.
    1st. For his habitual righteousness, I shall only propose it under
these two considerations: -
    (1st.) That upon this supposition, that it was needful that we
should have a mediator that was God and man in one person, as it could
not otherwise be, so it must needs be that he must be holy. For
although there be but one primary necessary effect of the hypostatical
union (which is the subsistence of the human nature in the person of
the Son of God), yet that he that was so united to him should be a
"holy thing," completely holy, was necessary also, - of which before.
    (2dly.) That the relation which this righteousness of Christ has
to the grace we receive from him is only this, - that thereby he was
"hikanos" - fit to do all that he had to do for us. This is the
intendment of the apostle, Heb. 7: 26. Such a one "became us;" it was
needful he should be such a one, that he might do what he had to do.
And the reasons hereof are two: -
    [1st.] Had he not been completely furnished with habitual grace,
he could never have actually fulfilled the righteousness which was
required at his hands. It was therein that he was able to do all that
he did. So himself lays down the presence of the Spirit with him as the
bottom and foundation of his going forth to his work, Isa. 61:1.
    [2dly.] He could not have been a complete and perfect sacrifice,
nor have answered all the types and figures of him, that were complete
and without blemish. But now, Christ having this habitual
righteousness, if he had never yielded any continued obedience to the
law actively, but had suffered as soon after his incarnation as Adam
sinned after his creation, he had been a fit sacrifice and offering;
and therefore, doubtless, his following obedience has another use
besides to fit him for an oblation, for which he was most fit without
it.
    2dly. For Christ's obedience to the law of mediation, wherein it
is not coincident with his passive obedience, as they speak (for I know
that expression is improper); it was that which was requisite for the
discharging of his office, and is not imputed unto us, as though we had
done it, though the "apotelesmata" and fruits of it are; but is of the
nature of his intercession, whereby he provides the good things we
stand in need of, at least subserviently to his oblation and
intercession; - of which more afterward.
    3dly. About his actual fulfilling of the law, or doing all things
that of us are required, there is some doubt and question; and about it
there are three several opinions: -
    (1st.) That this active obedience of Christ has no farther
influence into our justification and acceptation with God, but as it
was preparatory to his blood-shedding and oblation; which is the sole
cause of our justification, the whole righteousness which is imputed to
us arising from thence.
    (2dly.) That it may be considered two ways: - [1st.] As it is
purely obedience; and so it has no other state but that before
mentioned. [2dly.] As it was accomplished with suffering, and joined
with it, as it was part of his humiliation, so it is imputed to us, or
is part of that upon the account whereof we are justified.
    (3dly.) That this obedience of Christ, being done for us, is
reckoned graciously of God unto us; and upon the account thereof are we
accepted as righteous before him. My intendment is not to handle this
difference in the way of a controversy, but to give such an
understanding of the whole as may speedily be reduced to the practice
of godliness and consolation; and this I shall do in the ensuing
observations: -
    [1st.] That the obedience that Christ yielded to the law in
general, is not only to the peculiar law of the mediator, though he
yielded it as mediator. He was incarnate as mediator, Heb. 2: 14; Gal.
4: 4; and all he afterward did, it was as our mediator. For that cause
"came he into the world," and did and suffered whatever he did or
suffered in this world. So that of this expression, as mediator, there
is a twofold sense: for it may be taken strictly, as relating solely to
the law of the mediator, and so Christ may be said to do as mediator
only what he did in obedience to that law; but in the sense now
insisted on, whatever Christ did as a man subject to any law, he did it
as mediator, because he did it as part of the duty incumbent on him who
undertook so to be.
    [2dly.] That whatever Christ did as mediator, he did it for them
whose mediator he was, or in whose stead and for whose good he executed
the office of a mediator before God. This the holy Ghost witnesseth,
Rom. 8: 3, 4, "What the law could not do, in that it was wreak through
the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and
for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law
might be fulfilled in us;" because that we could not in that condition
of weakness whereinto we are cast by sin, come to God, and be freed
from condemnation by the law, God sent Christ as a mediator, to do and
suffer whatever the law required at our hands for that end and purpose,
that we might not be condemned, but accepted of God. It was all to this
end, - "That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us;"
that is, which the law required of us, consisting in duties of
obedience. This Christ performed for us. This expression of the
apostle, "God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and
for sin, condemned sin in the flesh;" if you will add to it, that of
Gal. 4: 4, that he was so sent forth as that he was "hupo nomou
genomenos", made under the law," (that is, obnoxious to it, to yield
all the obedience that it does require), comprises the whole of what
Christ did or suffered; and all this, the Holy Ghost tells us, was for
us, verse 4.
    [3dly.] That the end of this active obedience of Christ cannot be
assigned to be, that he might be fitted for his death and oblation. For
be answered all types, and was every way "hikanos" (fit to be made an
offering for sin), by his union and habitual grace. So that if the
obedience Christ performed be not reckoned to us, and done upon our
account, there is no just cause to be assigned why he should live here
in the world so long as he did, in perfect obedience to all the laws of
God. Had he died before, there had been perfect innocence, and perfect
holiness, by his habitual grace, and infinite virtue and worth from the
dignity of his person; and surely he yielded not that long course of
all manner of obedience, but for some great and special purpose in
reference to our salvation.
    [4thly.] That had not the obedience of Christ been for us (in what
sense we shall see instantly), it might in his life have been required
of him to yield obedience to the law of nature, the alone law which he
could be liable to as a man; for an innocent man in a covenant of
works, as he was, needs no other law, nor did God ever give any other
law to any such person (the law of creation is all that an innocent
creature is liable to, with what symbols of that law God is pleased to
add). And yet to this law also was his subjection voluntary; and that
not only consequentially, because he was born upon his own choice, not
by any natural course, but also because as mediator, God and man, he
was not by the institution of that law obliged unto it; being, as it
were, exempted and lifted above that law by the hypostatical union:
yet, when I say his subjection hereunto was voluntary, I do not intend
that it was merely arbitrary and at choice whether he would yield
obedience unto it or no, - but on supposition of his undertaking to be
a mediator, it was necessary it should be so, - but that he voluntarily
and willingly submitted unto, and so became really subject to the
commands of it. But now, moreover, Jesus Christ yielded perfect
obedience to all those laws which came upon us by the occasion of sin,
as the ceremonial law; yea, those very institutions that signified the
washing away of sin, and repentance from sin, as the baptism of John,
which he had no need of himself. This, therefore, must needs be for us.
    [5thly.] That the obedience of Christ cannot be reckoned amongst
his sufferings, but is clearly distinct from it, as to all formalities.
Doing is one thing, suffering another; they are in diverse
predicaments, and cannot be coincident.
    See, then, briefly what we have obtained by those considerations;
and then I shall intimate what is the stream issuing from this first
spring or fountain of purchased grace, with what influence it has
thereinto: -
    First, By the obedience of the life of Christ you see what is
intended, - his willing submission unto, and perfect, complete
fulfilling of, every law of God, that any of the saints of God were
obliged unto. It is true, every act almost of Christ's obedience, from
the blood of his circumcision to the blood of his cross, was attended
with suffering, so that his whole life might, in that regard, be called
a death; but yet, looking upon his willingness and obedience in it, it
is distinguished from his sufferings peculiarly so called, and termed
hiss active righteousness. This is, then, I say, as was showed, that
complete, absolutely perfect accomplishment of the whole law of God by
Christ, our mediator; whereby he not only "did no sin, neither was
there guile fold in his mouth," but also most perfectly fulfilled all
righteousness, as he affirmed it became him to do.
    Secondly, That this obedience was performed by Christ not for
himself, but for us, and in our stead. It is true, it must needs be,
that whilst he had his conversation in the flesh he must be most
perfectly and absolutely holy; but yet the prime intendment of his
accomplishing of holiness, - which consists in the complete obedience
of his whole life to any law of God, - that was no less for us than his
suffering death. That this is so, the apostle tells us, Gal. 4: 4, 5,
"God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem
them that were under the law." This Scripture, formerly named, must be
a little farther insisted on. He was both made of a woman, and made
under the law; that is, obedient to it for us. The end here, both of
the incarnation and obedience of Christ to the law (for that must needs
be understood here by the phrase "hupo nomou genomenos", - that is,
disposed of in such a condition as that he must yield subjection and
obedience to the law), was all to redeem us. In these two expressions,
"Made of a woman, made under the law," the apostle does not knit his
incarnation and death together, with an exclusion of the obedience of
his life. And he was so made under the law, as those were under the law
whom he was to redeem. Now, we were under the law, not only as
obnoxious to its penalties, but as bound to all the duties of it. That
this is our being "under the law," the apostle informs us, Gal. 4: 21,
"Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law." It was not the penalty
of the law they desired to be under, but to be under it in respect of
obedience. Take away, then, the end, and you destroy the means. If
Christ were not incarnate nor made under the law for himself, he did
not yield obedience for himself; it was all for us, for our good. Let
us now look forward, and see what influence this has into our
acceptation.
    Thirdly, Then, I say, this perfect, complete obedience of Christ
to the law is reckoned unto us. As there is a truth in that, "The day
thou eatest thou shalt die," - death is the reward of sin, and so we
cannot be freed from death but by the death of Christ, Heb. 2: 14, 15;
so also is that no less true, "Do this, and live," - that life is not
to he obtained unless all be done that the law requires. That is still
true, "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments," Matt. 19:
17. They must, then, be kept by us, or our surety. Neither is it of any
value which by some is objected, that if Christ yielded perfect
obedience to the law for us, then are we no more bound to yield
obedience; for by his undergoing death, the penalty of the law, we are
freed from it. I answer, How did Christ undergo death? Merely as it was
penal. How, then, are we delivered from death? Merely as it is penal.
Yet we must die still; yea, as the last conflict with the effects of
sin, as a passage to our Father, we must die. Well, then, Christ
yielded perfect obedience to the law; but how did he do it? Purely as
it stood in that conditional [arrangement], "Do this, and live." He did
it in the strength of the grace he had received; he did it as a means
of life, to procure life by it, as the tenor of a covenant. Are we,
then, freed from this obedience? Yes; but how far? From doing it in our
own strength; from doing it for this end, that we may obtain life
everlasting. It is vain that some say confidently, that we must yet
work for life; it is all one as to say we are yet under the old
covenant, "Hoc fac, et vives:" we are not freed from obedience, as a
way of walking with God, but we are, as a way of working to come to
him: of which at large afterward.
    Rom. 5: 18, 19, "By the righteousness of one the free gift came
upon all men unto justification of life: by the obedience of one shall
many be made righteous," saith the Holy Ghost. By his obedience to the
law are we made righteous; it is reckoned to us for righteousness. That
the passive obedience of Christ is here only intended is false: -
    First, It is opposed to the disobedience of Adam, which was
active. The "dikaioma" is opposed "paraptomati", - the righteousness to
the fault. The fault was an active transgression of the law, and the
obedience opposed to it must be an active accomplishment of it.
Besides, obedience placed singly, in its own nature, denotes an action
or actions conformable to the law; and therein came Christ, not to
destroy but to fulfil the law, Matt. 5: 17, - that was the design of
his coming, and so for us; he came to fulfil the law for us, Isa. 9: 6,
and [was] born to us, Luke 2: 11. This also was in that will of the
Father which, out of his infinite love, he came to accomplish.
Secondly, It cannot clearly be evinced that there is any such thing, in
propriety of speech, as passive obedience; obeying is doing, to which
passion or suffering cannot belong: I know it is commonly called so,
when men obey until they suffer; but properly it is not so.
    So also, Phil. 3: 9, "And be found in him, not having my own
righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith
of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." The
righteousness we receive is opposed to our own obedience to the law;
opposed to it, not as something in another kind, but as something in
the same kind excluding that from such an end which the other obtains.
Now this is the obedience of Christ to the law, - himself thereby being
"made to us righteousness," 1 Cor. 1: 30.
    Rom. 5: 10, the issue of the death of Christ is placed upon
reconciliation; that is, a slaying of the enmity and restoring us into
that condition of peace and friendship wherein Adam was before his
fall. But is there no more to be done? Notwithstanding that there was
no wrath due to Adam, yet he was to obey, if he would enjoy eternal
life. Something there is, moreover, to be done in respect of us, if,
after the slaying of the enmity and reconciliation made, we shall enjoy
life: "Being reconciled by his death," we are saved by that perfect
obedience which in his life he yielded to the law of God. There is
distinct mention made of reconciliation, through a non-imputation of
sin, as Ps. 32: 1, Luke 1: 77, Rom. 3: 25, 2 Cor. 5: 19; and
justification through an imputation of righteousness, Jer. 23: 6, Rom.
4: 5, 1 Cor. 1: 30; - although these things are so far from being
separated, that they are reciprocally affirmed of one another: which,
as it does not evince an identity, so it does an eminent conjunction.
And this last we have by the life of Christ.
    This is fully expressed in that typical representation of our
justification before the Lord, Zech. 3: 3-5. Two things are there
expressed to belong to our free acceptation before God: - 1. The taking
away of the guilt of our sin, our filthy robes; this is done by the
death of Christ. Remission of sin is the proper fruit thereof; but
there is more also required, even a collation of righteousness, and
thereby a right to life eternal. This is here called "Change of
raiment;" so the Holy Ghost expresses it again, Isa. 61: 10, where he
calls it plainly "The garments of salvation," and "The robe of
righteousness." Now this is only made ours by the obedience of Christ,
as the other by his death.
    Objection. "But if this be so, then are we as righteous as Christ
himself, being righteous with his righteousness."
    Answer. But first, here is a great difference, - if it were no
more than that this righteousness was inherent in Christ, and properly
his own, it is only reckoned or imputed to us, or freely bestowed on
us, and we are made righteous with that which is not ours. But,
secondly, the truth is, that Christ was not righteous with that
righteousness for himself, but for us; so that here can be no
comparison: only this we may say, we are righteous with his
righteousness which he wrought for us, and that completely.
    And this, now, is the rise of the purchased grace whereof we
speak, the obedience of Christ; and this is the influence of it into
our acceptation with God. Whereas the guilt of sin, and our
obnoxiousness to punishment on that account, is removed and taken away
(as shall farther be declared) by the death of Christ; and whereas,
besides the taking away of sin, we have need of a complete
righteousness, upon the account whereof we may be accepted with God;
this obedience of Christ, through the free grace of God, is imputed
unto us for that end and purpose.
    This is all I shall for the present insist on to this purpose.
That the passive righteousness of Christ only is imputed to us in the
non-imputation of sin, and that on the condition of our faith and new
obedience, so exalting them into the room of the righteousness of
Christ, is a thing which, in communion with the Lord Jesus, I have as
yet no acquaintance withal. What may be said in the way of argument on
the one side or other must be elsewhere considered.
    (2.) The second spring of our communion with Christ in purchased
grace, is his death and oblation. He lived for us, he died for us; he
was ours in all he did, in all he suffered. I shall be the more brief
in handling of this, because on another design I have elsewhere at
large treated of all the concernments of it.
    Now, the death of Christ, as it is a spring of that purchased
grace wherein we have communion with him, is in the Scripture proposed
under a threefold consideration: - [1.] Of a price. [2.] Of a
sacrifice. [3.] Of a penalty.
    In the first regard, its proper effect is redemption; in the
second, reconciliation or atonement; in the third, satisfaction; which
are the great ingredients of that purchased grace whereby, in the first
place, we have communion with Christ.
    [1.] It is a price. "We are bought with a price," 1 Cor. 6: 20;
being "not redeemed with silver and gold, and corruptible things, but
with the precious blood of Christ," 1 Pet. 1: 18, 19: which therein
answers those things in other contracts. He came to "give his life a
ransom for many," Matt. 20: 28, - a price of redemption, 1 Tim. 2: 6.
The proper use and energy of this expression in the Scripture, I have
elsewhere declared.
    Now, the proper effect and issue of the death of Christ as a price
or ransom is, as I said, redemption. Now, redemption is the deliverance
of any one from bondage or captivity, and the miseries attending that
condition, by the intervention or interposition of a price or ransom,
paid by the redeemer to him by whose authority the captive was
detained: -
    1st. In general, it is a deliverance. Hence Christ is called "The
Deliverer," Rom. 11:26; giving himself to "deliver us," Gal. 1: 4. He
is "Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come," 1 Thess. 1: 10.
    2dly. It is the delivery of one from bondage or captivity. We are,
without him, all prisoners and captives, "bound in prison," Isa. 61: l;
"sitting in darkness, in the prison house," Isa. 42: 7, 49: 9;
"prisoners in the pit wherein there is no water," Zech. 9: 11; "the
captives of the mighty, and the prey of the terrible," Isa. 49: 25;
under a "captivity that must be led captive," Ps. 68: 18: this puts us
in "bondage," Heb. 2: 15.
    3dly. The person committing thus to prison and into bondage, is
God himself. To him we owe "our debts," Matt. 6: 12, 18: 23-27; against
him are our offences, Ps. 51: 4; he is the judge and lawgiver, James 4:
12. To sin is to rebel against him. He shuts up men under disobedience,
Rom. 11:32; and he shall cast both body and soul of the impenitent into
hell-fire, Matt. 10: 28. To his wrath are men obnoxious, John 3: 36;
and lie under it by the sentence of the law, which is their prison.
    4thly. The miseries that attend this condition are innumerable.
Bondage to Satan, sin, and the world, comprises the sum of them; from
all which we are delivered by the death of Christ, as a price or
ransom. "God has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has
translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son; in whom we have
redemption through his blood," Col. 1:13,14. And he "redeems us from
all iniquity," Tit. 2: 14; "from our vain conversation," 1 Pet.
1:18,19; even from the guilt and power of our sin; purchasing us to
himself "a peculiar people, zealous of good works," Tit 2:14: so dying
for the "redemption of transgressions," Heb. 9:15; redeeming us also
from the world, Gal. 4: 5.
    5thly. And all this is by the payment of the price mentioned into
the hand of God, by whose supreme authority we are detained captives,
under the sentence of the law. The debt is due to the great
householder, Matt. 18:23,24; and the penalty, his curse and wrath: from
which by it we are delivered, Rev. 1:.5.
    This the Holy Ghost frequently insists on. Rom. 3:24,25, "Being
justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ
Jesus; whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his
blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins:" so
also, 1 Cor. 6: 20; 1 Pet. 1: 18; Matt. 20: 28; 1 Tim. 2: 6; Eph. 1: 7;
Col. 1:13; Gal. 3: 13. And this is the first consideration of the death
of Christ, as it has an influence into the procurement of that grace
wherein we hold communion with him.
    [2.] It was a sacrifice also. He had a body prepared him, Heb. 10:
5; wherein he was to accomplish what by the typical oblations and burnt-
offerings of the law was prefigured. And that body he offered, Heb. 10:
10; - that is, his whole human nature; for "his soul" also was made "an
offering for sin," Isa. 53: 10: on which account he is said to offer
himself, Eph. 5: 2; Heb. 1: 3, 9: 26. He gave himself a sacrifice to
God of a sweet-smelling savour; and this he did willingly, as became
him who was to be a sacrifice, - the law of this obedience being
written in his heart, Ps. 40: 8; that is, he had a readiness,
willingness, desire for its performance.
    Now, the end of sacrifices, such as his was, bloody and for sin,
Rom. 5: 10; Heb. 2: 17, was atonement and reconciliation. This is
everywhere ascribed to them, that they were to make atonement; that is,
in a way suitable to their nature. And this is the tendency of the
death of Christ, as a sacrifice, atonement, and reconciliation with
God. Sin had broken friendship between God and us, Isa. 63: 10; whence
his wrath was on us, John 3: 36; and we are by nature obnoxious to it,
Eph. 2: 3. This is taken away by the death of Christ, as it was a
sacrifice, Dan. 9: 24. "When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God
by the death of his Son," Rom. 5: 10. And thereby do we "receive the
atonement," verse 11; for "God was in Christ reconciling the world to
himself, not imputing to them their sins and their iniquities," 2 Cor.
5: 19-21: so also, Eph. 2: 12-16, and in sundry other places. And this
is the second consideration of the death of Christ; which I do but
name, having at large insisted on these things elsewhere.
    [3.] It was also a punishment, - a punishment in our stead. "He
was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities:
the chastisement of our peace was upon him," Isa. 53: 5. God made all
our iniquities (that is, the punishment of them) "to meet upon him,"
verse 6. "He bare the sins of many," verse 12; "his own self bare our
sins in his own body on the tree," 1 Pet. 2: 24; and therein he "who
knew no sin, was made sin for us," 2 Cor. 5: 21. What it is in the
Scripture to bear sin, see Deut. 19: 15, 20: 17; Numb. 14: 33; Ezek.
18: 20. The nature, kind, matter, and manner of this punishment I have,
as I said before, elsewhere discussed.
    Now, bearing of punishment tends directly to the giving
satisfaction to him who was offended, and on that account inflicted the
punishment. Justice can desire no more than a proportional punishment,
due to the offence. And this, on his own voluntary taking of our
persons, undertaking to be our mediator, was inflicted on our dear Lord
Jesus. His substituting himself in our room being allowed of by the
righteous Judge, satisfaction to him does thence properly ensue.
    And this is the threefold consideration of the death of Christ, as
it is a principal spring and fountain of that grace wherein we have
communion with him; for, as will appear in our process, the single and
most eminent part of purchased grace, is nothing but the natural
exurgency of the threefold effect of the death of Christ, intimated to
flow from it on the account of the threefold consideration insisted on.
This, then, is the second rise of purchased grace, which we are to eye,
if we will hold communion with Christ in it, - his death and blood-
shedding, under this threefold notion of a price, an offering, and
punishment. But, -
    (3.) This is not all: the Lord Christ goes farther yet; he does
not leave us so, but follows on the work to the utmost. "He died for
our sins, and rose again for our justification." He rose again to carry
on the complete work of purchased grace, - that is, by his
intercession; which is the third rise of it. In respect of this, he is
said to be "able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by
him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them," Heb. 7: 25.
    Now, the intercession of Christ, in respect of its influence into
purchased grace, is considered two ways: -
    [1.] As a continuance and carrying on of his oblation, for the
making out of all the fruits and effects thereof unto us. This is
called his "appearing in the presence of God for us," Heb. 9: 24; that
is, as the high priest, having offered the great offering for expiation
of sin, carried in the blood thereof into the most holy place, where
was the representation of the presence of God, so to perfect the
atonement he made for himself and the people; so the Lord Christ,
having offered himself as a sweet-smelling sacrifice to God, being
sprinkled with his own blood, appears in the presence of God, as it
were to mind him of the engagement made to him, for the redemption of
sinners by his blood, and the making out the good things to them which
were procured thereby. And so this appearance of his has an influence
into purchased grace, inasmuch as thereby he puts in his claim for it
in our behalf.
    [2.] He procureth the holy Spirit for us, effectually to collate
and bestow all this purchased grace upon us. That he would do this, and
does it, for us, we have his engagement, John 14: 16. This is purchased
grace, in respect of its fountain and spring; - of which I shall not
speak farther at present, seeing I must handle it at large in the
matter of the communion we have with the Holy Ghost.








Chapter 7. The nature of purchased grace; referred to three heads: - 1.
     Of our acceptation with God; two parts of it. 2. Of the grace of
     sanctification; the several parts of it.
    
    The fountain of that purchased grace wherein the saints have
communion with Christ being discovered, in the next place the nature of
this grace itself may be considered. As was said, it may be referred
unto three heads: - 1. Grace of acceptation with God. 2. Grace of
sanctification from God. 3. Grace of privileges with and before God.
    1. Of acceptation with God. Out of Christ, we are in a state of
alienation from God, accepted neither in our persons nor our services.
Sin makes a separation between God and us: - that state, with all its
consequences and attendancies, [it] is not my business to unfold. The
first issue of purchased grace is to restore us into a state of
acceptation. And this is done two ways: - (1.) By a removal of that for
which we are refused, - the cause of the enmity. (2.) By a bestowing of
that for which we are accepted.
    Not only all causes of quarrel were to be taken away, that so we
should not be under displeasure, but also that was to be given unto us
that makes us the objects of God's delight and pleasure, on the account
of the want whereof we are distanced from God: -
    (1.) It gives a removal of that for which we are refused. This is
sin in the guilt, and all the attendancies thereof. The first issue of
purchased grace tends to the taking away of sin in its guilt, that it
shall not bind over the soul to the wages of it, which is death.
    How this is accomplished and brought about by Christ, was
evidenced in the close of the foregoing chapter. It is the fruit and
effect of his death for us. Guilt of sin was the only cause of our
separation and distance from God, as has been said. This made us
obnoxious to wrath, punishment, and the whole displeasure of God; on
the account hereof were we imprisoned under the curse of the law, and
given up to the power of Satan. This is the state of our unacceptation.
By his death, Christ - bearing the curse, undergoing the punishment
that was due to us, paying the ransom that was due for us - delivers us
from this condition. And thus far the death of Christ is the sole cause
of our acceptation with God, - that all cause of quarrel and rejection
of us is thereby taken away. And to that end are his sufferings
reckoned to us; for, being "made sin for us," 2 Cor. 5: 21, he is made
"righteousness unto us," 1 Cor. 1: 30.
    But yet farther; this will not complete our acceptation with God.
The old quarrel may be laid aside, and yet no new friendship begun; we
may be not sinners, and yet not be so far righteous as to have a right
to the kingdom of heaven. Adam had no right to life because he was
innocent; he must, moreover, "do this," and then he shall "live." He
must not only have a negative righteousness, - he was not guilty of any
thing; but also a positive righteousness, - he must do all things.
    (2.) This, then, is required, in the second place, to our complete
acceptation, that we have not only the not imputation of sin, but also
a reckoning of righteousness. Now, this we have in the obedience of the
life of Christ. This also was discovered in the last chapter. The
obedience of the life of Christ was for us, is imputed to us, and is
our righteousness before God; - by his obedience are we "made
righteous," Rom. 5: 19. On what score the obedience of faith takes
place, shall be afterward declared.
    These two things, then, complete our grace of acceptation. Sin
being removed, and righteousness bestowed, we have peace with God, -
are continually accepted before him. There is not any thing to charge
us withal: that which was, is taken out of the way by Christ, and
nailed to his cross, - made fast there; yea, publicly and legally
cancelled, that it can never be admitted again as an evidence. What
court among men would admit of an evidence that has been publicly
cancelled, and nailed up for all to see it? So has Christ dealt with
that which was against us; and not only so, but also he puts that upon
us for which we are received into favour. He makes us comely through
his beauty; gives us white raiment to stand before the Lord. This is
the first part of purchased grace wherein the saints have communion
with Jesus Christ. In remission of sin and imputation of righteousness
does it consist; from the death of Christ, as a price, sacrifice, and a
punishment, - from the life of Christ spent in obedience to the law,
does it arise. The great product it is of the Father's righteousness,
wisdom, love, and grace; - the great and astonishable fruit of the love
and condescension of the Son; - the great discovery of the Holy Ghost
in the revelation of the mystery of the gospel.
    2. The second is grace of sanctification. He makes us not only
accepted, but also acceptable. He does not only purchase love for his
saints, but also makes them lovely. He came not by blood only, but by
water and blood. He does not only justify his saints from the guilt of
sin, but also sanctify and wash them from the filth of sin. The first
is from his life and death as a sacrifice of propitiation; this from
his death as a purchase, and his life as an example. So the apostle,
Heb. 9: 14; as also Eph. 5: 26, 27. Two things are eminent in this
issue of purchased grace: - (].) The removal of defilement; (2.) The
bestowing of cleanness in actual grace.
    (1.) For the first, it is also threefold: -
    [1.] The habitual cleansing of our nature. We are naturally
unclean, defiled, - habitually so; for "Who can bring a clean thing out
of an unclean?" Job 14: 4; "That which is born of the flesh is flesh,"
John 3: 6. It is in the pollution of our blood that we are born, Ezek.
16, - wholly defiled and polluted. The grace of sanctification,
purchased by the blood of Christ, removes this defilement of our
nature. 1 Cor. 6: 11, "Such were some of you; but ye are washed, ye are
sanctified." So also Tit. 3: 3-5, "He has saved us by the washing of
regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost." How far this
original, habitual pollution is removed, need not be disputed; it is
certain the soul is made fair and beautiful in the sight of God. Though
the sin that does defile remains, yet its habitual defilement is taken
away. But the handling of this lies not in my aim.
    [2.] Taking away the pollutions of all our actual transgressions.
There is a defilement attending every actual sin. Our own clothes make
us to be abhorred, Job 9: 31. A spot, a stain, rust, wrinkle, filth,
blood, attends every sin. Now, 1 John 1: 7, "The blood of Jesus Christ
cleanseth us from all sin." Besides the defilement of our natures which
he purgeth, Tit. 3: 5, he takes away the defilement of our persons by
actual follies. "By one offering he perfected for ever them that are
sanctified;" by himself he "purged our sins," before he sat down at the
right hand of the Majesty on high, Heb. 1: 3.
    [3.] In our best duties we have defilement, Isa. 64: 6. Self,
unbelief, form, drop themselves into all that we do. We may be ashamed
of our choicest performances. God has promised that the saints' good
works shall follow them. Truly, were they to be measured by the rule as
they come from us, and weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, it
might be well for us that they might be buried for ever: But the Lord
Christ first, as our high priest, bears the iniquity, the guilt, and
provocation, which in severe justice does attend them, Exod. 28: 38;
and not only so, but he washes away all their filth and defilements. He
is as a refiner's fire, to purge both the sons of Levi and their
offerings; adding, moreover, sweet incense to them, that they may be
accepted. Whatever is of the Spirit, of himself, of grace, - that
remains; whatever is of self, flesh, unbelief (that is, hay and
stubble), - that he consumes, wastes, takes away. So that the saints'
good works shall meet them one day with a changed countenance, that
they shall scarce know them: that which seemed to them to be black,
deformed, defiled, shall appear beautiful and glorious; they shall not
be afraid of them, but rejoice to see and follow them.
    And this cleansing of our natures, persons, and duties, has its
whole foundation in the death of Christ. Hence our washing and
purifying, our cleansing and purging, is ascribed to his blood and the
sprinkling thereof meritoriously, this work is done, by the shedding of
the blood of Christ; efficiently, by its sprinkling. The sprinkling of
the blood of Christ proceedeth from the communication of the Holy
Ghost; which he promiseth to us, as purchased by him for us He is the
pure water, wherewith we are sprinkled from all our sins, that spirit
of judgement and burning that takes away the filth and blood of the
daughters of Zion. And this is the first thing in the grace of
sanctification; of which more afterward.
    (2.) By bestowing cleanness as to actual grace. The blood of
Christ in this purchased grace does not only take away defilement, but
also it gives purity; and that also in a threefold gradation: -
    [1.] It gives the Spirit of holiness to dwell in us. "He is made
unto us sanctification," 1 Cor. 1: 30, by procuring for us the Spirit
of sanctification. Our renewing is of the Holy Ghost, who is shed on us
through Christ alone, Tit. 3: 6. This the apostle mainly insists on,
Rom. 8, - to wit, that the prime and principal gift of sanctification
that we receive from Christ, is the indwelling of the Spirit, and our
following after the guidance hereof. But what concerns the Spirit in
any kind, must be referred to that which I have to offer concerning our
communion with him.
    [2.] He gives us habitual grace; - a principle of grace, opposed
to the principle of lust that is in us by nature. This is the grace
that dwells in us, makes its abode with us; which, according to the
distinct faculties of our souls wherein it is, or the distinct objects
about which it is exercised, receiveth various appellation, being
indeed all but one new principle of life. In the understanding, it is
light; in the will, obedience; in the affections, love; in all, faith.
So, also, it is differences in respect of its operations. When it
carries out the soul to rest on Christ, it is faith; when to delight in
him, it is love; but still one and the same habit of grace. And this is
the second thing.
    [3.] Actual influence for the performance of every spiritual duty
whatever. After the saints have both the former, yet Christ tells them
that without him "they can do nothing," John 15: 5. They are still in
dependence upon him for new influences of grace, or supplies of the
Spirit. They cannot live and spend upon the old stock; for every new
act they must have new grace. He must "work in us to will and to do of
his good pleasure," Phil. 2: 13. And in these three, thus briefly
named, consists that purchased grace in the point of sanctification, as
to the collating of purity and cleanness, wherein we have communion
with Christ.
    3. This purchased grace consists in privileges to stand before
God, and these are of two sorts,- primary and consequential. Primary,
is adoption, - the Spirit of adoption; consequential, are all the
favours of the gospel, which the saints alone have right unto. But of
this I shall speak when I come to the last branch, - of communion with
the Holy Ghost.
    These are the things wherein we have communion with Christ as to
purchased grace in this life. Drive them up to perfection, and you have
that which we call everlasting glory. Perfect acceptance, perfect
holiness, perfect adoption, or inheritance of sons, - that is glory.
    Our process now, in the next place, is to what I mainly intend,
even the manner how we hold communion with Christ in these things; and
that in the order laid down; as, -
    I. How we hold communion with him in the obedience of his life and
merit of his death, as to acceptance with God the Father.
    II. How we hold communion with Christ in his blood, as to the
Spirit of sanctification, the habits and acts of grace.
    III. How we hold communion with him as to the privileges we enjoy.
Of which in the ensuing chapters.





Chapter 8. How the saints hold communion with Christ as to their
     acceptation with God - What is required on the part of Christ
     hereunto; in his intention; in the declaration thereof - The sum
     of our acceptation with God, wherein it consists - What is
     required on the part of believers to this communion, and how they
     hold it, with Christ - Some objections proposed to consideration,
     why the elect are not accepted immediately on the undertaking and
     the death of Christ - In what sense they are so - Christ a common
     or public person - How he came to be so - The way of our
     acceptation with God on that account - The second objection - The
     necessity of our obedience stated, Eph. 2: 8-10 - The grounds,
     causes, and ends of it manifested - Its proper place in the new
     covenant - How the saints, in particular, hold communion with
     Christ in this purchased grace - They approve of this
     righteousness; the grounds thereof - Reject their own; the grounds
     thereof - The commutation of sin and righteousness between Christ
     and believers; some objections answered.
    
    I. Communion with Christ in purchased grace, as unto acceptation
with God, from the obedience of his life and efficacy of his death, is
the first thing we inquire into. The discovery of what on the part of
Christ and what on our part is required thereunto (for our mutual
acting, even his and ours, are necessary, that we may have fellowship
and communion together herein), is that which herein I intend.
    First, On the part of Christ there is no more required but these
two things: - (1.) That what he did, he did not for himself, but for
us.
    (2.) What he suffered, he suffered not for himself, but for us.
That is, that his intention from eternity, and when he was in the
world, was, that all that he did and suffered was and should be for us
and our advantage, as to our acceptance with God; that he still
continueth making use of what he so did and suffered for that end and
purpose, and that only. Now, this is most evident: -
    (1.) What he did, he did for us, and not for himself: "He was made
under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons," Gal. 4: 4,
5. He was made under the law; that is, in that condition that he was
obnoxious to the will and commands of it. And why was this? to what
end? for himself? No; but to redeem us is the aim of all that he did, -
of all his obedience: and that he did. This very intention in what he
did he acquaints us with, John 17: 19, "For their sakes I sanctify
myself, that they may be sanctified through the truth." "I sanctify
myself, - dedicate and set myself apart to all that work I have to do.
I came not to do my own will; I came to save that which was lost; to
minister, not to be ministered unto; and to give my life a ransom;" -
it was the testimony he bare to all he did in the world. This
intendment of his is especially to be eyed. From eternity he had
thoughts of what he would do for us; and delighted himself therein. And
when he was in the world, in all he went about, he had still this
thought, "This is for them, and this is for them, - my beloved." When
he went to be baptised, says John, "I have need to be baptised of thee,
and comest thou to me?" Matt. 3: 14, 15; as if he had said, "Thou hast
no need at all of it." But says Christ, "Suffer it to be so, now; for
thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness;" - "I do it for them
who have none at all, and stand obliged unto all."
    (2.) In what he suffered. This is more clear, Dan. 9: 26, "Messiah
shall be cut off, but not for himself". And the apostle lays down this
as a main difference between him and the high priests of the Jews, that
when they made their solemn offerings, they offered first for
themselves, and then for the people; but Jesus Christ offered only for
others. He had no sin, and could make no sacrifice for his own sin,
which he had not, but only for others. He "tasted death every man,"
Heb. 2: 9, - "gave his life a ransom for many," Matt. 20: 28. The
"iniquity of us all was made to meet on him," Isa. 53: 6; - "He bare
our sins in his own body on the tree," 1 Pet. 2: 24; - "loved the
church, and gave himself for it," Eph. 5: 25; Gal 2: 20; Rom. 4: 25;
Rev. 1: 5, 6; Tit. 2: 14; 1 Tim. 2: 6; Isa. 53: 12; John 17: 19. But
this is exceeding clear and confessed, that Christ in his suffering and
oblation, had his intention only upon the good of his elect, and their
acceptation with God; suffering for us, "the just for the unjust, that
he might bring us to God."
    Secondly, To complete this communion on the part of Christ, it is
required, -
    (1.) That there be added to what he has done, the gospel tenders
of that complete righteousness and acceptation with God which ariseth
from his perfect obedience and sufferings. Now, they are twofold: -
    [1.] Declaratory, in the conditional promises of the gospel. Mark
16: 15; Matt. 11: 28, "He that believeth shall be saved;" "Come unto
me, and I will give you rest;" "As Moses lifted up the serpent," etc.;
"Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that
believeth," Rom. 10: 4; and innumerable others. Now, declaratory
tenders are very precious, there is much kindness in them, and if they
be rejected, they will be the "savour of death unto death;" but the
Lord Christ knows that the outward letter, though never so effectually
held out, will not enable any of his for that reception of his
righteousness which is necessary to interest them therein; wherefore, -
    [2.] In this tender of acceptation with God, on the account of
what he has done and suffered, a law is established, that whosoever
receives it shall be so accepted. But Christ knows the condition and
state of his in this world. This will not do; if he do not effectually
invest them with it, all is lost. Therefore, -
    (2.) He sends them his Holy Spirit, to quicken them, John 6: 63,
to cause them that are "dead to hear his voice," John 5: 25; and to
work in them whatever is required of them, to make them partakers of
his righteousness and accepted with God.
    Thus does Christ deal with his: - he lives and dies with an
intention to work out and complete righteousness for them; their
enjoying of it, to a perfect acceptation before God, is all that in the
one and other he aimed at. Then he tenders it unto them, declares the
usefulness and preciousness of it to their souls, stirring them up to a
desire and valuation of it; and lastly, effectually bestows it upon
them, reckons it unto them as theirs, that they should by it, for it,
with it, be perfectly accepted with his Father.
    Thus, for our acceptation with God, two things are required: -
    First, That satisfaction be made for our disobedience, - for
whatever we had done which might damage the justice and honour of God;
and that God be atoned towards us: which could no otherwise be, but by
undergoing the penalty of the law. This, I have showed abundantly, is
done by the death of Christ. God "made him to be sin for us," 2 Cor. 5:
21, - a "curse," Gal. 3: 13. On this account we have our absolution, -
our acquitment from the guilt of sin, the sentence of the law, the
wrath of God, Rom. 8: 33, 34. We are justified, acquitted, freed from
condemnation, because it was Christ that died; "he bare our sins in his
own body on the tree," 1 Pet. 2: 24.
    Second, That the righteousness of the law be fulfilled, and the
obedience performed that is required at our hands. And this is done by
the life of Christ, Rom. 5: 18, 19. So that answerable hereunto,
according to our state and the condition of our acceptation with God,
there are two parts: -
    Our absolution from the guilt of sin, that our disobedience be not
charged upon us. This we have by the death of Christ; our sins being
imputed to him, shall not be imputed to us, 2 Cor. 5: 21; Rom. 4: 25;
Isa. 53: 12.
    Imputation of righteousness, that we may be accounted perfectly
righteous before God; and this we have by the life of Christ. His
righteousness in yielding obedience to the law is imputed to us. And
thus is our acceptation with God completed. Being discharged from the
guilt of our disobedience by the death of Christ, and having the
righteousness of the life of Christ imputed to us, we have friendship
and peace with God. And this is that which I call our grace of
acceptation with God, wherein we have communion with Jesus Christ.
    That which remains for me to do, is to show how believers hold
distinct communion with Christ in this grace of acceptation, and how
thereby they keep alive a sense of it, - the comfort and life of it
being to be renewed every day. Without this, life is a hell; no peace,
no joy can we be made partakers of, but what has its rise from hence.
Look what grounded persuasion we have of our acceptation with God, that
he is at peace with us; whereunto is the revenue of our peace, comfort,
joy, yea, and holiness itself, proportioned.
    But yet, before I come in particular to handle our practical
communion with the Lord Jesus in this thing, I must remove two
considerable objections; - the one of them lying against the first part
of our acceptation with God, the other against the latter.
    Objection 1. For our absolution by and upon the death of Christ,
it may be said, that "if the elect have their absolution,
reconciliation, and freedom by the death, blood, and cross of Christ,
whence is it, then, that they were not all actually absolved at the
death of Christ, or at least so soon as they are born, but that many of
them live a long while under the wrath of God in this world, as being
unbelievers, under the sentence and condemning power of the law? John
3: 36. Why are they not immediately freed, upon the payment of the
price and making reconciliation for them?"
    Obj. 2. "If the obedience of the life of Christ be imputed unto
us, and that is our righteousness before God, then what need we yield
any obedience ourselves? Is not all our praying, labouring, watching,
fasting, giving alms, - are not all fruits of holiness, in purity of
heart and usefulness of conversation, all in vain and to no purpose?
And who, then, will or need take care to be holy, humble, righteous,
meek, temperate, patient, good, peaceable, or to abound in good works
in the world?"
    1. I shall, God assisting, briefly remove these two objections,
and then proceed to carry on the design in hand, about our communion
with Christ: -
    (1.) Jesus Christ, in his undertaking of the work of our
reconciliation with God, - for which cause he came into the world, -
and the accomplishment of it by his death, was constituted and
considered as a common, public person, in the stead of them for whose
reconciliation to God he suffered. Hence he is the "mediator between
God and man," 1 Tim. 2: 5, - that is, one who undertook to God for us,
as the next words manifest, verse 6, "Who gave himself a ransom for
all," - and the "surety of the better covenant," Heb. 7: 22;
undertaking for and on the behalf of them with whom that covenant was
made. Hence he is said to be given "for a covenant of the people," Isa.
42: 6; and a "leader," 55: 4. He was the second Adam, 1 Cor. 15: 45,
47, to all ends and purposes of righteousness, to his spiritual seed,
as the first Adam was of sin to his natural seed, Rom. 5: 15-19.
    (2.) His being thus a common person, arose chiefly from these
things: -
    [1.] In general, from the covenant entered into by himself with
his Father to this purpose. The terms of this covenant are at large
insisted on, Isa. 53, summed up, Ps. 40: 7, 8; Heb. 10: 8-10. Hence the
Father became to be his God; which is a covenant expression, Ps. 89:
26; Heb. 1: 5; Ps. 22: 1, 40: 8, 45: 7; Rev. 3: 12; Mic. 5: 4. So was
he by his Father on this account designed to this work, Isa. 42: 1, 6,
49: 9; Mal. 3: 1; Zech. 13: 7; John 3: 16; 1 Tim. 1: 15. Thus the
"counsel of peace" became to be "between them both," Zech. 6: 13; that
is, the Father and Son. And the Son rejoices from eternity in the
thought of this undertaking, Prov. 8: 22-30. The command given him to
this purpose, the promises made to him thereon, the assistance afforded
to him, I have elsewhere handled.
    [2.] In the sovereign grant, appointment, and design of the
Father, giving and delivering the elect to Jesus Christ in this
covenant, to be redeemed and reconciled to himself. John 17: 6, "Thine
they were, and thou gavest them me." They were God's by eternal
designation and election, and he gave them to Christ to be redeemed.
Hence, before their calling or believing, he calls them his "sheep,"
John 10: 15, 16, laying down his life for them as such; and hence are
we said to be "chosen in Christ," Eph. 1: 4, or designed to obtain all
the fruits of the love of God by Christ, and committed into his hand
for that end and purpose.
    [3.] In his undertaking to suffer what was due to them, and to do
what was to be done by them, that they might be delivered, reconciled,
and accepted with God. And he undertakes to give in to the Father,
without loss or miscarriage, what he had so received of the Father as
above, John 17: 2, 12, 6: 37, 39; as Jacob did the cattle he received
of Lab an, Gen. 31: 39, 40. Of both these I have treated somewhat at
large elsewhere, in handling the covenant between the Father and the
Son; so that I shall not need to take it up here again.
    [4.] They being given unto him, he undertaking for them to do and
suffer what was on their part required, he received, on their behalf
and for them, all the promises of all the mercies, grace, good things,
and privileges, which they were to receive upon the account of his
undertaking for them. On this account eternal life is said to be
promised of God "before the world began," Tit. 1: 2; that is, to the
Son of God for us, on his undertaking on our behalf. And grace, also,
is said to be given unto us "before the world began," 2 Tim. 1: 9; that
is, in Christ, our appointed head, mediator, and representative.
    [5.] Christ being thus a common person, a mediator, surety, and
representative, of his church, upon his undertaking, as to efficacy and
merit, and upon his actual performance, as to solemn (declaration, was
as such acquitted, absolved, justified, and freed, from all and every
thing that, on the behalf of the elect, as due to them, was charged
upon him, or could so be; I say, as to all the efficacy and merit of
his undertakings, he was immediately absolved upon his faithfulness, in
his first engagement: and thereby all the saints of the Old Testament
were saved by his blood no less than we. As to solemn declaration, he
was so absolved when, the "pains of death being loosed", he was
"declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the
dead;" Rom. 1: 4, God saying to him, "Thou art my Son; this day have I
begotten thee," Ps. 2: 7. And this his absolution does Christ express
his confidence of, Isa. 1. 5-9. And he was "justified," 1 Tim. 3: 16.
That which I intend by this absolution of Christ as a public person is
this: - God having made him under the law, for them who were so, Gal.
4: 4; in their stead, obnoxious to the punishment due to sin, made him
sin, 2 Cor. 5: 21; and so gave justice, and law, and all the consequent
of the curse thereof, power against him, Isa. 53: 6; - upon his
undergoing of that which was required of him, verse 12, God looses the
pains and power of death, accepts him, and is well pleased with him, as
to the performance and discharge of his work, John 17: 3-6; pronounceth
him free from the obligation that was on him, Acts 13; and gave him a
promise of all good things he aimed at, and which his soul desired.
Hereon are all the promises of God made to Christ, and their
accomplishment, - all the encouragements given him to ask and make
demand of the things originally engaged for to him, Ps. 2: 8, (which he
did accordingly, John 17), - founded and built. And here lies the
certain, stable foundation of our absolution, and acceptation with God.
Christ in our stead, acting for us as our surety, being acquitted,
absolved, solemnly declared to have answered the whole debt that was
incumbent on him to pay, and made satisfaction for all the injury we
had done, a general pardon is sealed for us all, to be sued out
particularly in the way to be appointed. For, -
    [6.] Christ as a public person being thus absolved, it became
righteous with God, a righteous thing, from the covenant, compact, and
convention, that was between him and the mediator, that those in whose
stead he was, should obtain, and have bestowed on them, all the fruits
of his death, in reconciliation with God, Rom. 5: 8-11; that as Christ
received the general acquittance for them all, so they should every one
of them enjoy it respectively. This is everywhere manifested in those
expressions which express a commutation designed by God in this matter;
as 2 Cor. 5: 21; Gal. 3: 13; 1 Pet. 2: 21, 24; - of which afterward.
    [7.] Being thus acquitted in the covenant of the Mediator (whence
they are said to be circumcised with him, to die with him, to be buried
with him, to rise with him, to sit with him in heavenly places, -
namely, in the covenant of the Mediator), and it being righteous that
they should be acquitted personally in the covenant of grace, it was
determined by Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that the way of their actual
personal deliverance from the sentence and curse of the law should be
in and by such a way and dispensation as might lead to the praise of
the glorious grace of God, Eph 1: 5-7. The appointment of God is, that
we shall have the adoption of children. The means of it, is by Jesus
Christ; the peculiar way of bringing it about, is by the redemption
that is in his blood; the end, is the praise of his glorious grace. And
thence it is, -
    [8.] That until the full time of their actual deliverance,
determined and appointed to them in their several generations, be
accomplished, they are personally under the curse of the law; and, on
that account, are legally obnoxious to the wrath of God, from which
they shall certainly be delivered; - I say, they are thus personally
obnoxious to the law, and the curse thereof; but not at all with its
primitive intention of execution upon them, but as it is a means
appointed to help forward their acquaintance with Christ, and
acceptance with God, on his account. When this is accomplished, that
whole obligation ceases, being continued on them in a design of love;
their last condition being such as that they cannot without it be
brought to a participation of Christ, to the praise of the glorious
grace of God.
    [9.] The end of the dispensation of grace being to glorify the
whole Trinity, the order fixed on and appointed wherein this is to be
done, is, by ascending to the Father's love through the work of the
Spirit and blood of the Son. The emanation of divine love to us begins
with the Father, is carried on by the Son, and then communicated by the
Spirit; the Father designing, the Son purchasing, the Spirit
effectually working: which is their order. Our participation is first
by the work of the Spirit, to an actual interest in the blood of the
Son; whence we have acceptation with the Father.
    This, then, is the order whereby we are brought to acceptation
with the Father, for the glory of God through Christ: -
    1st. That the Spirit may be glorified, he is given unto us, to
quicken us, convert us, work faith in us, Rom. 8: 11; Eph. 1: 19, 20;
according to all the promises of the covenant, Isa. 4: 4, 5; Ezek. 11:
19, 36: 26.
    2dly. This being wrought in us, for the glory of the Son, we are
actually interested, according to the tenor of the covenant, at the
same instant of time, in the blood of Christ, as to the benefits which
he has procured for us thereby; yea, this very work of the Spirit
itself is a fruit and part of the purchase of Christ. But we speak of
our sense of this thing, whereunto the communication of the Spirit is
antecedent. And, -
    3dly. To the glory of the Father, we are accepted with him,
justified, freed from guilt, pardoned, and have "peace with God," Rom.
5: 1. Thus, "through Christ we have access by one Spirit unto the
Father," Eph. 2: 17. And thus are both Father and Son and the Holy
Spirit glorified in our justification and acceptation with God; the
Father in his free love, the Son in his full purchase, and the holy
Spirit in his effectual working.
    [10.] All this, in all the parts of it, is no less fully procured
for us, nor less freely bestowed on us, for Christ's sake, on his
account, as part of his purchase and merits, than if all of us
immediately upon his death, had been translated into heaven; only this
way of our deliverance and freedom is fixed on, that the whole Trinity
may be glorified thereby. And this may suffice in answer to the first
objection. Though our reconciliation with God be fully and completely
procured by the death of Christ, and all the ways and means whereby it
is accomplished; yet we are brought unto an actual enjoyment thereof,
by the way and in the order mentioned, for the praise of the glorious
grace of God.
    2. The second objection is, "That if the righteousness and
obedience of Christ to the law be imputed unto us, then what need we
yield obedience ourselves?" To this, also, I shall return answer as
briefly as I can in the ensuing observations: -
    (1.) The placing of our gospel obedience on the right foot of
account (that it may neither be exalted into a state, condition, use,
or end, not given it of God; nor any reason, cause, motive, end,
necessity of it, on the other hand, taken away, weakened, or impaired),
is a matter of great importance. Some make our obedience, the works of
faith, our works, the matter or cause of our justification; some, the
condition of the imputation of the righteousness of Christ; some, the
qualification of the person justified, on the one hand; some exclude
all the necessity of them, and turn the grace of God into
lasciviousness, on the other. To debate these differences is not my
present business; only, I say, on this and other accounts, the right
stating of our obedience is of great importance as to our walking with
God.
    (2.) We do by no means assign the same place, condition, state,
and use to the obedience of Christ imputed to us, and our obedience
performed to God. If we did, they were really inconsistent. And
therefore those who affirm that our obedience is the condition or cause
of our justification, do all of them deny the imputation of the
obedience of Christ unto us. The righteousness of Christ is imputed to
us, as that on the account whereof we are accepted and esteemed
righteous before God, and are really so, though not inherently. We are
as truly righteous with the obedience of Christ imputed to us as Adam
was, or could have been, by a complete righteousness of his own
performance. So Rom. 5: 18, by his obedience we are made righteous, -
made so truly, and so accepted; as by the disobedience of Adam we are
truly made trespassers, and so accounted. And this is that which the
apostle desires to be found in, in opposition to his own righteousness,
Phil 3: 9. But our own obedience is not the righteousness whereupon we
are accepted and justified before God; although it be acceptable to God
that we should abound therein. And this distinction the apostle does
evidently deliver and confirm, so as nothing can be more clearly
revealed: Eph. 2: 8-10, "For by grace are ye saved through faith: and
that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any
man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus
unto good works, which God has prepared that we should walk in them."
We are saved, or justified (for that it is whereof the apostle treats),
"by grace through faith," which receives Jesus Christ and his
obedience; "not of works, lest any man should boast." "But what works
are they that the apostle intends?" The works of believers, as in the
very beginning of the next words is manifest: "'For we are,' we
believers, with our obedience and our works, of whom I speak." "Yea;
but what need, then, of works?" Need still there is: "We are his
workmanship," etc.
    Two things the apostle intimates in these words: -
    [1.] A reason why we cannot be saved by works, - namely, because
we do them not in or by our own strength; which is necessary we should
do, if we will be saved by them, or justified by them. "But this is not
so," saith the apostle; "for we are the workmanship of God," etc.; -
all our works are wrought in us, by full and effectual undeserved
grace.
    [2.] An assertion of the necessity of good works, notwithstanding
that we are not saved by them; and that is, that God has ordained that
we shall walk in them: which is a sufficient ground of our obedience,
whatever be the use of it.
    If you will say then, "What are the true and proper gospel
grounds, reasons, uses, and motives of our obedience; whence the
necessity thereof may be demonstrated, and our souls be stirred up to
abound and be fruitful therein?" I say, they are so many, and lie so
deep in the mystery of the gospel and dispensation of grace, spread
themselves so throughout the whole revelation of the will of God unto
us, that to handle them fully and distinctly, and to give them their
due weight, is a thing that I cannot engage in, lest I should be turned
aside from what I principally intend. I shall only give you some brief
heads of what might at large be insisted on: -
    1st. Our universal obedience and good works are indispensably
necessary, from the sovereign appointment and will of God; Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost.
    In general "This is the will of God, even your sanctification," or
holiness, 1 Thess. 4: 3. This is that which God wills, which he
requires of us, - that we be holy, that we be obedient, that we do his
will as the angels do in heaven. The equity, necessity, profit, and
advantage of this ground of our obedience might at large be insisted
on; and, were there no more, this might suffice alone, - if it be the
will of God, it is our duty: -
    (1st.) The Father has ordained or appointed it. It is the will of
the Father, Eph 2: 10. The Father is spoken of personally, Christ being
mentioned as mediator.
    (2dly.) The Son has ordained and appointed it as mediator. John
15: 16, "'I have ordained you, that ye should bring forth fruit' of
obedience, and that it should remain." And, -
    (3dly.) The holy Ghost appoints and ordains believers to works of
obedience and holiness, and to work holiness in others. So, in
particular, Acts 13: 2, he appoints and designs men to the great work
of obedience in preaching the gospel. And in sinning, men sin against
him.
    2dly. Our holiness, our obedience, work of righteousness, is one
eminent and especial end of the peculiar dispensation of Father, Son,
and Spirit, in the business of exalting the glory of God in our
salvation, - of the electing love of the Father, the purchasing love of
the Son, and the operative love of the Spirit: -
    (1st.) It is a peculiar end of the electing love of the Father,
Eph 1: 4, "He has chosen us, that we should be holy and without blame."
So Isa. 4: 3, 4. His aim and design in choosing of us was, that we
should be holy and unblamable before him in love. This he is to
accomplish, and will bring about in them that are his. "He chooses us
to salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and belief of the
truth," 2 Thess. 2: 13. This the Father designed as the first and
immediate end of electing love; and proposes the consideration of that
love as a motive to holiness, 1 John 4: 8-10.
    (2dly.) It is so also of the exceeding love of the Son; whereof
the testimonies are innumerable. I shall give but one or two: - Tit. 2:
14, "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all
iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good
works." This was his aim, his design, in giving himself for us; as Eph.
5: 25-27, "Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he
might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word;
that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot,
or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without
blemish" 2 Cor. 5: 15; Rom. 6: 11.
    (3dly.) It is the very work of the love of the Holy Ghost. His
whole work upon us, in us, for us, consists in preparing of us for
obedience; enabling of us thereunto, and bringing forth the fruits of
it in us. And this he does in opposition to a righteousness of our own,
either before it or to be made up by it, Tit. 3: 5. I need not insist
on this. The fruits of the Spirit in us are known, Gal. 5: 22, 23.
    And thus have we a twofold bottom of the necessity of our
obedience and personal holiness: - God has appointed it, he requires
it; and it is an eminent immediate end of the distinct dispensation of
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in the work of our salvation. If God's
sovereignty over us is to be owned, if his love towards us be to be
regarded, if the whole work of the ever-blessed Trinity, for us, in us,
be of any moment, our obedience is necessary.
    3dly. It is necessary in respect of the end thereof; and that
whether you consider God, ourselves, or the world: -
    (1st.) The end of our obedience, in respect of God, is, his glory
and honour, Mal. 1: 6. This is God's honour, - all that we give him. It
is true, he will take his honour from the stoutest and proudest rebel
in the world; but all we give him is in our obedience. The glorifying
of God by our obedience is all that we are or can be. Particularly, -
    [1st.] It is the glory of the Father. Matt. 5: 16, "Let your light
so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify
your Father which is in heaven." By our walking in the light of faith
does glory arise to the Father. The fruits of his love, of his grace,
of his kindness, are seen upon us; and God is glorified in our behalf.
And, -
    [2dly.] The Son is gloried thereby. It is the will of God that as
all men honour the Father, so should they honour the Son, John 5: 23.
And how is this done? By believing in him, John 14: l; obeying of him.
Hence, John 17: 10, he says he is glorified in believers; and prays for
an increase of grace and union for them, that he may yet be more
glorified, and all might know that, as mediator, he was sent of God.
    [3dly.] The Spirit is gloried also by it. He is grieved by our
disobedience, Eph. 4: 30; and therefore his glory is in our bringing
forth fruit. He dwells in us, as in his temple; which is not to be
defiled. Holiness becometh his habitation for ever.
    Now, if this that has been said be not sufficient to evince a
necessity of our obedience, we must suppose ourselves to speak with a
sort of men who regard neither the sovereignty, nor love, nor glory of
God, Father, Son, or Holy Ghost. Let men say what they please, though
our obedience should be all lost, and never regarded (which is
impossible, for God is not unjust, to forget our labour of love), yet
here is a sufficient bottom, ground, and reason of yielding more
obedience unto God than ever we shall do whilst we live in this world.
I speak also only of gospel grounds of obedience, and not of those that
are natural and legal, which are indispensable to all mankind.
    (2dly.) The end in respect of ourselves immediately is threefold:
- [1st.] Honour. [2dly.] Peace. [3dly.] Usefulness.
    [1st.] Honour. It is by holiness that we are made like unto God,
and his image is renewed again in us. This was our honour at our
creation, this exalted us above all our fellow-creatures here below, -
we were made in the image of God. This we lost by sin, and became like
the beasts that perish. To this honour, of conformity to God, of
bearing his image, are we exalted again by holiness alone. "Be ye
holy," says God, "for I am holy," 1 Pet. 1: 16; and, "Be ye perfect"
(that is, in doing good), "even as your Father which is in heaven is
perfect," Matt. 5: 48, - in a likeness and conformity to him. And
herein is the image of God renewed; Eph. 4: 23, 24, therein we "put on
the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and holiness
of truth." This was that which originally was attended with power and
dominion; - is still all that is beautiful or comely in the world. How
it makes men honourable and precious in the sight of God, of angels, of
men; how alone it is that which is not despised, which is of price
before the Lord; what contempt and scorn he has of them in whom it is
not, - in what abomination he has them and all their ways, - might
easily be evinced.
    [2dly.] Peace. By it we have communion with God, wherein peace
alone is to be enjoyed. "The wicked are like the troubled sea, that
cannot rest;" and, "There is no peace" to them, "saith my God," Isa.
57: 20; 2]. There is no peace, rest, or quietness, in a distance,
separation, or alienation from God. He is the rest of our souls. In the
light of his countenance is life and peace. Now, "if we walk in the
light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another," 1
John 1: 7; "and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his
Son Jesus Christ," verse 3. He that walks in the light of new
obedience, he has communion with God, and in his presence is fulness of
joy for ever; without it, there is nothing but darkness, and wandering,
and confusion.
    [3dly.] Usefulness. A man without holiness is good for nothing.
"Ephraim," says the prophet, "is an empty vine, that brings forth fruit
to itself" And what is such a vine good for? Nothing. Saith another
prophet, "A man cannot make so much as a pin of it, to hang a vessel
on." A barren tree is good for nothing, but to be cut down for the
fire. Notwithstanding the seeming usefulness of men who serve the
providence of God in their generations, I could easily manifest that
the world and the church might want them, and that, indeed, in
themselves they are good for nothing. Only the holy man is commune
bonum.
    (3dly.) The end of it in respect of others in the world is
manifold: -
    [1st.] It serves to the conviction and stopping the mouths of some
of the enemies of God, both here and hereafter: - 1. Here. 1 Pet. 3:
16, "Having a good conscience; that, wherein they speak evil of you, as
of evil-doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good
conversation in Christ." By our keeping of a good conscience men will
be made ashamed of their false accusations; that whereas their malice
and hatred of the ways of God has provoked them to speak all manner of
evil of the profession of them, by the holiness and righteousness of
the saints, they are convinced and made ashamed, as a thief is when he
is taken, and be driven to acknowledge that God is amongst them, and
that they are wicked themselves, John 17: 23. 2. Hereafter. It is said
that the saints shall judge the world. It is on this, as well as upon
other considerations: their good works, their righteousness, their
holiness, shall be brought forth, and manifested to all the world; and
the righteousness of God's judgements against wicked men be thence
evinced. "See," says Christ, "these are they that I own, whom you so
despised and abhorred; and see their works following them: this and
that they have done, when you wallowed in your abominations," Matt. 25:
42, 43.
    [2dly.] The conversion of others. 1 Pet. 2: 12, "Having your
conversation honest among the Gentiles; that, wherein they speak
against you as evil-doers, they may, by your good works, which they
shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation," Matt. 5: 16. Even
revilers, persecutors, evil-speakers, have been overcome by the
constant holy walking of professors; and when their day of visitation
has come, have glorified God on that account, 1 Pet. 3: 1, 2.
    [3dly.] The benefit of all; partly in keeping off judgements from
the residue of men, as ten good men would have preserved Sodom: partly
by their real communication of good to them with whom they have to do
in their generation. Holiness makes a man a good man, useful to all;
and others eat of the fruits of the Spirit that he brings forth
continually.
    [4thly.] It is necessary in respect of the state and condition of
justified persons; and that whether you consider their relative state
of acceptation, or their state of sanctification: -
    First. They are accepted and received into friendship with a holy
God, - a God of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, - who hates every
unclean thing. And is it not necessary that they should be holy who are
admitted into his presence, walk in his sight, - yea, lie in his bosom?
Should they not with all diligence cleanse themselves from all
pollution of flesh and spirit, and perfect holiness in the fear of the
Lord?
    Secondly. In respect of sanctification. We have in us a new
creature, 2 Cor. 5: 17. This new creature is fed, cherished, nourished,
kept alive, by the fruits of holiness. To what end has God given us new
hearts, and new natures? Is it that we should kill them? stifle the
creature that is found in us in the womb? that we should give him to
the old man to be devoured?
    [5thly.] It is necessary in respect of the proper place of
holiness in the new covenant; and that is twofold: -
    First. Of the means unto the end. God has appointed that holiness
shall be the means, the way to that eternal life, which, as in itself
and originally [it] is his gift by Jesus Christ, so, with regard to his
constitution of our obedience, as the means of attaining it, [it] is a
reward, and God in bestowing of it a rewarder. Though it be neither the
cause, matter, nor condition of our justification, yet it is the way
appointed of God for us to walk in for the obtaining of salvation. And
therefore, he that has hope of eternal life purifies himself, as he is
pure: and none shall ever come to that end who walketh not in that way;
for without holiness it is impossible to see God.
    Secondly. It is a testimony and pledge of adoption, - a sign and
evidence of grace; that is, of acceptation with God. And, -
    Thirdly. The whole expression of our thankfulness.
    Now, there is not one of all these causes and reasons of the
necessity, the indispensable necessity of our obedience, good works,
and personal righteousness, but would require a more large discourse to
unfold and explain than I have allotted to the proposal of them all;
and innumerable others there are of the same import, that I cannot
name. He that upon these accounts does not think universal holiness and
obedience to be of indispensable necessity, unless also it be exalted
into the room of the obedience and righteousness of Christ, let him be
filthy still.
    These objections being removed, and having, at the entrance of
this chapter, declared what is done on the part of Christ, as to our
fellowship with him in this purchased grace, as to our acceptation with
God, it remains that I now show what also is required and performed on
our part for the completing thereof. This, then, consists in the
ensuing particulars: -
    1. The saints cordially approve of this righteousness, as that
alone which is absolutely complete, and able to make them acceptable
before God. And this supposeth six things: -
    (1.) Their clear and full conviction of the necessity of a
righteousness wherewith to appear before God. This is always in their
thoughts; this in their whole lives they take for granted. Many men
spend their days in obstinacy and hardness, adding drunkenness unto
thirst, never once inquiring what their condition shall be when they
enter into eternity; others trifle away their time and their souls,
sowing the wind of empty hopes, and preparing to reap a whirlwind of
wrath; but this lies at the bottom of all the saints' communion with
Christ, - a deep, fixed, resolved persuasion of an absolute and
indispensable necessity of a righteousness wherewith to appear before
God. The holiness of God's nature, the righteousness of his government,
the severity of his law, the terror of his wrath, are always before
them. They have been all convinced of sin, and have looked on
themselves as ready to sink under the vengeance due to it. They have
all cried, "Men and brethren, what shall we do to be saved?" "Wherewith
shall we come before God?" and have all concluded, that it is in vain
to flatter themselves with hopes of escaping as they are by nature. If
God be holy and righteous, and of purer eyes than to behold iniquity,
they must have a righteousness to stand before him; and they know what
will be the cry one day of those who now bear up themselves, as if they
were otherwise minded, Isa. 53: 1-5; Mic. 6: 6, 7.
    (2.) They weigh their own righteousness in the balance, and find
it wanting; and this two ways: -
    [1.] In general, and upon the whole of the matter, at their first
setting themselves before God. When men are convinced of the necessity
of a righteousness, they catch at every thing that presents itself to
them for relief. Like men ready to sink in deep waters, [they] catch at
that which is next, to save them from drowning; which sometimes proves
a rotten stick, that sinks with them. So did the Jews, Rom. 9: 31, 32;
they caught hold of the law, and it would not relieve them; and how
they perished with it the apostle declares, chap. 10: 1-4. The law put
them upon setting up a righteousness of their own. This kept them
doing, and in hope; but kept them from submitting to the righteousness
of God. Here many perish, and never get one step nearer God all their
days. This the saints renounce; they have no confidence in the flesh:
they know that all they can do, all that the law can do, which is weak
through the flesh, will not avail them. See what judgement Paul makes
of all a man's own righteousness, Phil 3: 8-10. This they bear in their
minds daily, this they fill their thoughts withal, that upon the
account of what they have done, can do, ever shall do, they cannot be
accepted with God, or justified thereby. This keeps their souls humble,
full of a sense of their own vileness, all their days.
    [2.] In particular. They daily weigh all their particular actions
in the balance, and find them wanting, as to any such completeness as,
upon their own account, to be accepted with God. "Oh!" says a saint,
"if I had nothing to commend me unto God but this prayer, this duty,
this conquest of a temptation, wherein I myself see so many failings,
so much imperfection, could I appear with any boldness before him?
Shall I, then, piece up a garment of righteousness out of my best
duties? Ah! it is all as a defiled cloth," Isa. 64: 6. These thoughts
accompany them in all their duties, in their best and most choice
performances: - "Lord, what am I in my best estate? How little
suitableness unto thy holiness is in my best duties! O spare me, in
reference to the best thing that ever I did in my life!" Neh. 13: 22.
When a man who lives upon convictions has got some enlargements in
duties, some conquest over a sin or temptation, he hugs himself, like
Micah when he had got a Levite to be his priest: now surely it shall be
well with him, now God will bless him: his heart is now at ease; he has
peace in what he has done. But he who has communion with Christ, when
he is highest in duties of sanctification and holiness, is clearest in
the apprehension of his own unprofitableness, and rejects every thought
that might arise in his heart of setting his peace in them, or upon
them. He says to his soul, "Do these things seem something to thee?
Alas! thou hast to do with an infinitely righteous God, who looks
through and through all that vanity, which thou art but little
acquainted withal; and should he deal with thee according to thy best
works, thou must perish."
    (3.) They approve of, value, and rejoice in, this righteousness,
for their acceptation, which the Lord Jesus has wrought out and
provided for them; this being discovered to them, they approve of it
with all their hearts, and rest in it. Isa. 45: 24, "Surely, shall one
say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength." This is their
voice and language, when once the righteousness of God in Christ is
made known unto them: "Here is righteousness indeed; here have I rest
for my soul. Like the merchant man in the gospel (Matt. 13: 45, 46)
that finds the pearl of price, I had been searching up and down; I
looked this and that way for help, but it was far away; I spent my
strength for that which was not bread: here is that, indeed, which
makes me rich for ever!" When first the righteousness of Christ, for
acceptation with God, is revealed to a poor labouring soul, that has
fought for rest and has found none, he is surprised and amazed, and is
not able to contain himself: and such a one always in his heart
approves this righteousness on a twofold account: -
    [1.] As full of infinite wisdom. "Unto them that believe," saith
the apostle, "Christ crucified is 'the wisdom of God,'" 1 Cor. 1: 24.
They see infinite wisdom in this way of their acceptation with God. "In
what darkness," says such a one, "in what straits, in what
entanglements, was my poor soul! How little able was I to look through
the clouds and perplexities wherewith I was encompassed! I looked
inwards, and there was nothing but sin, horror, fear, tremblings; I
looked upwards, and saw nothing but wrath, curses, and vengeance. I
knew that God was a holy and righteous God, and that no unclean thing
could abide before him; I knew that I was a poor, vile, unclean, and
sinful creature; and how to bring these two together in peace, I knew
not. But in the righteousness of Christ does a world of wisdom open
itself, dispelling all difficulties and darkness, and manifesting a
reconciliation of all this." "O the depth of the riches both of the
wisdom and knowledge of God!" Rom. 11: 33; Col. 2: 3. But of this
before.
    [2.] As full of grace. He knows that sin had shut up the whole way
of grace towards him; and whereas God aims at nothing so much as the
manifestation of his grace, he was utterly cut short of it. Now, to
have a complete righteousness provided, and yet abundance of grace
manifested, exceedingly delights the soul; - to have God's dealing with
his person all grace, and dealing with his righteousness all justice,
takes up his thoughts. God everywhere assures us that this
righteousness is of grace. It is "by grace, and no more of works," Rom
11: 6, as the apostle at large sets it out, Eph. 2: 7-9. It is from
riches of grace and kindness that the provision of this righteousness
is made. It is of mere grace that it is bestowed on us, it is not at
all of works; though it be in itself a righteousness of works, yet to
us it is of mere grace. So Tit. 3: 4-7, "But after that the kindness
and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of
righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved
us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,
which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that
being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the
hope of eternal life." The rise of all this dispensation is kindness
and love; that is, grace, verse 4. The way of communication,
negatively, is not by works of righteousness that we have done; -
positively, by the communication of the Holy Ghost, verse 5; the means
of whose procurement is Jesus Christ, verse 6; - and the work itself is
by grace, verse 7. Here is use made of every word almost, whereby the
exceeding rich grace, kindness, mercy, and goodness of God may be
expressed, all concurring in this work. As: 1. "Chrestotes", - his
goodness, benignity, readiness to communicate of himself and his good
things that may be profitable to us. 2. "Filantropia", - mercy, love,
and propensity of mind to help, assist, relieve them of whom he speaks,
towards whom he is so affected. 3. "'Eleos", - mercy forgiveness,
compassion, tenderness, to them that suffer; and "charis", - free
pardoning bounty, undeserved love. And all this is said to be "tou
Theou soteros", - he exercises all these properties and attributes of
his nature towards us that he may save us; and in the bestowing of it,
giving us the Holy Ghost, it is said, "exeche-en", - he poured him out
as water out of a vessel, without stop and hesitation; and that not in
a small measure, but "plousios", - richly and in abundance: whence, as
to the work itself, it is emphatically said, "dikaiotentes te ekeinou
chariti", - justified by the grace of him who is such a one. And this
do the saints of God, in their communion with Christ, exceedingly
rejoice in before him, that the way of their acceptation before God is
a way of grace, kindness, and mercy, that they might not boast in
themselves, but in the Lord and his goodness, crying, "How great is thy
goodness! how great is thy bounty!"
    (4.) They approve of it, and rejoice in it, as a quay of great
peace and security to themselves and their own souls. They remember
what was their state and condition whilst they went about to set up a
righteousness of their own, and were not subject to the righteousness
of Christ, - how miserably they were tossed up and down with continual
fluctuating thoughts. Sometimes they had hope, and sometimes were full
of fear; sometimes they thought themselves in some good condition, and
anon were at the very brink of hell, their consciences being racked and
torn with sin and fear: but now, "being justified by faith, they have
peace with God," Rom. 5: 1. All is quiet and serene; not only that
storm is over, but they are in the haven where they would be. They have
abiding peace with God. Hence is that description of Christ to a poor
soul, Isa. 32: 2, "And a man shall he as a hiding-place from the wind,
and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as
the shadow of a great rock in a weary land." Wind and tempest, and
drought and weariness, - nothing now troubles the soul that is in
Christ; he has a hiding-place, and a covert, and rivers of water, and
the shadow of a great rock, for his security. This is the great mystery
of faith in this business of our acceptation with God by Christ: - that
whereas the soul of a believer finds enough in him and upon him to rend
the very caul of the heart, to fill him with fears, terror,
disquietments all his days, yet through Christ he is at perfect peace
with God, Isa. 26: 3; Ps. 4: 6-8. Hence do the souls of believers
exceedingly magnify Jesus Christ, that they can behold the face of God
with boldness, confidence, peace, joy, assurance, - that they can call
him Father, bear themselves on his love, walk up and down in quietness,
and without fear. How glorious is the Son of God in this grace! They
remember the wormwood and gall that they have eaten; - the vinegar and
tears they have drunk; - the trembling of their souls, like an aspen
leaf that is shaken with the wind. Whenever they thought of God, what
contrivances have they had to hide, and fly, and escape! To be brought
now to settlement and security, must needs greatly affect them.
    (5.) They cordially approve of this righteousness, because it is a
way and means of exceeding exaltation and honour of the Lord Jesus,
whom their souls do love. Being once brought to an acquaintance with
Jesus Christ, their hearts desire nothing more than that he may be
honoured and glorified to the utmost, and in all things have the pre-
eminence. Now, what can more tend to the advancing and honouring of him
in our hearts, than to know that he is made of God unto us "wisdom and
righteousness?" 1 Cor. 1: 30. Not that he is this or that part of our
acceptation with God; but he is all, - he is the whole. They know that
on the account of his working out their acceptation with God, he is, -
    [1.] Honoured of God his Father. Phil. 2: 7-11, "He made himself
of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made
in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled
himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Wherefore God also has highly exalted him, and given him a name which
is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the
glory of God the Father." Whether that word "wherefore" denotes a
connection of causality or only a consequence, this is evident, that on
the account of his suffering, and as the end of it, he was honoured and
exalted of God to an unspeakable pre-eminence, dignity, and authority;
according as God had promised him on the same account, Isa. 53: 11, 12;
Acts 2: 36, 5: 30, 31. And therefore it is said, that when "he had by
himself purged our sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty
on high," Heb. 1: 3.
    [2.] He is on this account honoured of all the angels in heaven,
even because of this great work of bringing sinners unto God; for they
do not only bow down and desire to look into the mystery of the cross,
1 Pet. 1: 12, but worship and praise him always on this account: Rev.
5: 11-14, "I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and
the living creatures and the elders: and the number of them was ten
thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a
loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and
riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
And every creature which is in heaven and earth, and under the earth,
and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying,
Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth
upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the living
creatures said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and
worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever." The reason given of this
glorious and wonderful doxology, this attribution of honour and glory
to Jesus Christ by the whole host of heaven, is, because he was the
Lamb that was slain; that is, because of the work of our redemption and
our bringing unto God. And it is not a little refreshment and rejoicing
to the souls of the saints, to know that all the angels of God, the
whole host of heaven, which never sinned, do yet continually rejoice
and ascribe praise and honour to the Lord Jesus, for his bringing them
to peace and favour with God.
    [3.] He is honoured by his saints all the world over; and indeed,
if they do not, who should? If they honour him not as they honour the
Father, they are, of all men, the most unworthy. But see what they do,
Rev. 1: 5, 6, "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in
his own blood, and has made us kings and priests unto God and his
Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen." Chap. 5:
8-10, "The four living creatures and four and twenty elders fell down
before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full
of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song,
saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals
thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood,
out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made
us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth."
The great, solemn worship of the Christian church consists in this
assignation of honour and glory to the Lord Jesus: therefore do they
love him, honour him, delight in him; as Paul, Phil. 3: 8; and so the
spouse, Cant. 5: 9-16. And this is on this account, -
    (6.) They cordially approve of this righteousness, this way of
acceptation, as that which brings glory to God as such. When they were
labouring under the guilt of sin, that which did most of all perplex
their souls was, that their safety was inconsistent with the glory and
honour of the great God, - with his justice, faithfulness, and truth,
all which were engaged for the destruction of sin; and how to come off
from ruin without the loss of their honour [i. e., the honour of the
fore-mentioned attributes] they saw not. But now by the revelation of
this righteousness from faith to faith, they plainly see that all the
properties of God are exceedingly glorified in the pardon,
justification, and acceptance of poor sinners; as before was
manifested.
    And this is the first way whereby the saints ho]d daily communion
with the Lord Jesus in this purchased grace of acceptation with God:
they consider, approve of, and rejoice in, the way, means, and thing
itself.
    2. They make an actual commutation with the Lord Jesus as to their
sins and his righteousness. Of this there are also sundry parts: -
    (1.) They continually keep alive upon their hearts a sense of the
guilt and evil of sin; even then when they are under some comfortable
persuasions of their personal acceptance with God. Sense of pardon
takes away the horror and fear, but not a due sense of the guilt of
sin. It is the daily exercise of the saints of God, to consider the
great provocation that is in sin, - their sins, the sin of their nature
and lives; to render themselves vile in their own hearts and thoughts
on that account; to compare it with the terror of the Lord; and to
judge themselves continually. This they do in general. "My sin is ever
before me," says David. They set sin before them, not to terrify and
affright their souls with it, but that a due sense of the evil of it
may be kept alive upon their hearts.
    (2.) They gather up in their thoughts the sins for which they have
not made a particular reckoning with God in Christ; or if they have
begun so to do, yet they have not made clear work of it, nor come to a
clear and comfortable issue. There is nothing more dreadful than for a
man to be able to digest his convictions; - to have sin look him in the
face, and speak perhaps some words of terror to him, and to be able, by
any charms of diversions or delays, to put it off, without coming to a
full trial as to state and condition in reference thereunto. This the
saints do: - they gather up their sins, lay them in the balance of the
law, see and consider their weight and desert; and then, -
    (3.) They make this commutation I speak of with Jesus Christ; that
is, -
    [1.] They seriously consider, and by faith conquer, all objections
to the contrary, that Jesus Christ, by the will and appointment of the
Father, has really undergone the punishment that was due to those sins
that lie now under his eye and consideration, Isa. 53: 6; 2 Cor. 5: 21.
He has as certainly and really answered the justice of God for them as,
if he himself (the sinner) should at that instant be cast into hell, he
could do.
    [2.] They hearken to the voice of Christ calling them to him with
their burden, "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden;" -
"Come with your burdens; come, thou poor soul, with thy guilt of sin."
Why? what to do? "Why, this is mine," saith Christ; "this agreement I
made with my Father, that I should come, and take thy sins, and bear
them away: they were my lot. Give me thy burden, give me all thy sins.
Thou knowest not what to do with them; I know how to dispose of them
well enough, so that God shall be glorified, and thy soul delivered."
Hereupon, -
    [3.] They lay down their sins at the cross of Christ, upon his
shoulders. This is faith's great and bold venture upon the grace,
faithfulness, and truth of God, to stand by the cross and say, "Ah! he
is bruised for my sins, and wounded for my transgressions, and the
chastisement of my peace is upon him. He is thus made sin for me. Here
I give up my sins to him that is able to bear them, to undergo them. He
requires it of my hands, that I should be content that he should
undertake for them; and that I heartily consent unto." This is every
day's work; I know not how any peace can be maintained with God without
it. If it be the work of souls to receive Christ, as made sin for us,
we must receive him as one that takes our sins upon him. Not as though
he died any more, or suffered any more; but as the faith of the saints
of old made that present and done before their eyes [which had] not yet
come to pass, Heb. 11: 1, so faith now makes that present which was
accomplished and past many generations ago. This it is to know Christ
crucified.
    [4.] Having thus by faith given up their sins to Christ, and seen
God laying them all on him, they draw nigh, and take from him that
righteousness which he has wrought out for them; so fulfilling the
whole of that of the apostle, 2 Cor. 5: 21, "He was made sin for us,
that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." They consider
him tendering himself and his righteousness, to be their righteousness
before God; they take it, and accept of it, and complete this blessed
bartering and exchange of faith. Anger, curse, wrath, death, sin as to
its guilt, he took it all and takes it all away. With him we leave
whatever of this nature belongs to us; and from him we receive love,
life, righteousness, and peace.
    Objection. But it may be said, "Surely this course of procedure
can never be acceptable to Jesus Christ. What! shall we daily come to
him with our filth, our guilt, our sins? May he not, will he not, bid
us keep them to ourselves? they are our own. Shall we be always giving
sins, and taking righteousness?"
    Answer. There is not any thing that Jesus Christ is more delighted
with, than that his saints should always hold communion with him as to
this business of giving and receiving. For, -
    1. This exceedingly honours him, and gives him the glory that is
his due. Many, indeed, cry "Lord, Lord," and make mention of him, but
honour him not at all. How so? They take his work out of his hands, and
ascribe it unto other things; their repentance, their duties, shall
bear their iniquities. They do not say so; but they do so. The
commutation they make, if they make any, it is with themselves. All
their bartering about sin is in and with their own souls. The work that
Christ came to do in the world, was to "bear our iniquities," and lay
down his life a ransom for our sins. The cup he had to drink of was
filled with our sins, as to the punishment due to them. What greater
dishonour, then, can be done to the Lord Jesus, than to ascribe this
work to any thing else, - to think to get rid of our sins [by] any
other way or means? Herein, then, I say, is Christ honoured indeed,
when we go to him with our sins by faith, and say unto him, "Lord, this
is thy work; this is that for which thou camest into the world; this is
that thou hast undertaken to do. Thou callest for my burden, which is
too heavy for me to bear; take it, blessed Redeemer Thou tenderest thy
righteousness; that is my portion." Then is Christ honoured, then is
the glory of mediation ascribed to him, when we walk with him in this
communion.
    2. This exceedingly endears the souls of the saints to him, and
constrains them to put a due valuation upon him, his love, his
righteousness, and grace. When they find, and have the daily use of it,
then they do it. Who would not love him? "I have been with the Lord
Jesus," may the poor soul say: "I have left my sins, my burden, with
him; and he has given me his righteousness, wherewith I am going with
boldness to God. I was dead, and am alive; for he died for me: I was
cursed, and am blessed; for he was made a curse for me: I was troubled,
but have peace; for the chastisement of my peace was upon him. I knew
not what to do, nor whither to cause any sorrow to go; by him have I
received joy unspeakable and glorious. If I do not love him, delight in
him, obey him, live to him, die for him, I am worse than the devils in
hell." Now the great aim of Christ in the world is, to have a high
place and esteem in the hearts of his people; to have there, as he has
in himself, the pre-eminence in all things, - not to be jostled up and
down among other things, - to be all, and in all. And thus are the
saints of God prepared to esteem him, upon the engaging themselves to
this communion with him.
    Obj. Yea, hut you will say, "If this be so, what need we to repent
or amend our ways? it is but going to Christ by faith, making this
exchange with him: and so we may sin, that grace may abound."
    Ans. I judge no man's person; but this I must needs say, that I do
not understand how a man that takes this objection in cold blood, not
under a temptation or accidental darkness, can have any true or real
acquaintance with Jesus Christ: however, this I am certain of, that
this communion in itself produces quite other effects than those
supposed. For, -
    1. For repentance; it is, I suppose, a gospel repentance that is
intended. For a legal, bondage repentance, full of dread, amazement,
terror, self-love, astonishment at the presence of God, I confess this
communion takes it away, prevents it, casts it out, with its bondage
and fear; but for gospel repentance, whose nature consists in godly
sorrow for sin, with its relinquishment, proceeding from faith, love,
and abhorrence of sin, on accounts of Father, Son, and Spirit, both law
and love, - that this should be hindered by this communion, is not
possible. I told you that the foundation of this communion is laid in a
deep, serious, daily consideration of sin, its guilt, vileness, and
abomination, and our own vileness on that account; that a sense hereof
is to be kept alive in and upon the heart of every one that will enjoy
this communion with Christ: without it Christ is of no value nor esteem
to him. Now, is it possible that a man should daily fill his heart with
the thoughts of the vileness of sin, on all considerations whatever, -
of law, love, grace, gospel, life, and death, - and be filled with self-
abhorrency on this account, and yet be a stranger to godly sorrow? Here
is the mistake, - the foundation of this communion is laid in that
which they suppose it overthrows.
    2. But what shall we say for obedience? "If Christ be so glorified
and honoured by taking our sins, the more we bring to him, the more
will he be glorified." A man could not suppose that this objection
would be made, but that the Holy Ghost, who knows what is in man and
his heart, has made it for them, and in their name, Rom. 6: 1-3. The
very same doctrine that I have insisted on being delivered, chap. 5: 18-
20, the same objection is made to it: and for those who think it may
have any weight, I refer them to the answer given in that chapter by
the apostle; as also to what was said before to the necessity of our
obedience, notwithstanding the imputation of the righteousness of
Christ.
    But you will say, "How should we address ourselves to the
performance of this duty? what path are we to walk in?"
    Faith exercises itself in it, especially three ways: -
    (1.) In meditations. The heart goes over, in its own thoughts, the
part above insisted on, sometimes severally, sometimes jointly,
sometimes fixing primarily on one thing, sometimes on another, and
sometimes going over the whole. At one time, perhaps, the soul is most
upon consideration of its own sinfulness, and filling itself with shame
and self-abhorrency on that account; sometimes it is filled with the
thoughts of the righteousness of Christ, and with joy unspeakable and
glorious on that account. Especially on great occasions, when grieved
and burdened by negligence, or eruption of corruption, then the soul
goes over the whole work, and so drives things to an issue with God,
and takes up the peace that Christ has wrought out for him.
    (2.) In considering and inquiring into the promises of the gospel,
which hold out all these things: - the excellency, fulness, and
suitableness of the righteousness of Christ, the rejection of all false
righteousness, and the commutation made in the love of God; which was
formerly insisted on.
    (3.) In prayer. Herein do their souls go through this work day by
day; and this communion have all the saints with the Lord Jesus, as to
their acceptation with God: which was the first thing proposed to
consideration.





Chapter 9. Of communion with Christ in holiness - The several acts
     ascribed unto the Lord Christ herein: 1. His intercession; 2.
     Sending of the Spirit; 3. Bestows habitual grace - What that is,
     and wherein it consists - This purchased by Christ; bestowed by
     him - Of actual grace - How the saints hold communion with Christ
     in these things; manifested in sundry particulars.
    
    II. Our communion with the Lord Jesus as to that grace of
sanctification and purification whereof we have made mention, in the
several distinctions and degrees thereof, formerly, is neatly to be
considered. And herein the former method must be observed; and we must
show, - 1. What are the peculiar actings of the Lord Christ as to this
communion; and, 2. What is the duty of the saints herein. The sum is, -
How we hold communion with Christ in holiness, as well as in
righteousness; and that very briefly: -
    1. There are several acts ascribed unto the Lord Jesus in
reference to this particular; as, -
    (1.) His interceding with the Father, by virtue of his oblation in
the behalf of his, that he would bestow the Holy Spirit on them. Here I
choose to enter, because of the oblation of Christ itself I have spoken
before; otherwise, every thing is to be run up to that head, that
source and spring. There lies the foundation of all spiritual mercies
whatever; as afterward also shall be manifested. Now the Spirit. as
unto us a Spirit of grace, holiness, and consolation, is of the
purchase of Christ. It is upon the matter, the great promise of the new
covenant, Ezek. 11: 19, "I will put a new spirit within you;" so also,
chap. 36: 27; Jer. 32: 39, 40; and in sundry other places, whereof
afterward. Christ is the mediator and "surety of this new covenant."
Heb. 7: 22, "Jesus was made surety of a better testament," or rather
covenant; - a testament needs no surety. He is the undertaker on the
part of God and man also: of man, to give satisfaction; of God, to
bestow the whole grace of the promise; as chap. 9: 15, "For this cause
he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for
the redemption of transgressions that were under the first testament,
they which are called might receive the promise of eternal
inheritance." He both satisfied for sin and procured the promise. He
procures all the love and kindness which are the fruits of the
covenant, being himself the original promise thereof, Gen. 3: 15; the
whole being so "ordered in all things, and made sure," 2 Sam. 23: 5,
that the residue of its effects should all be derived from him, depend
upon him, and be procured by him, - "that he in all things might have
the pre-eminence," Col. 1: 18; according to the compact and agreement
made with him, Isa. 53: 12. They are all the purchase of his blood; and
therefore the Spirit also, as promised in that covenant, 1 Cor. 1: 30.
Now, the whole fruit and purchase of his death is made out from the
Father upon his intercession. This (John 14: 16-18) he promiseth his
disciples, that he will pursue the work which he has in hand in their
behalf, and intercede with the Father for the Spirit, as a fruit of his
purchase. Therefore he tells them that he will not pray the Father for
his love unto them, because the eternal love of the Father is not the
fruit but the fountain of his purchase: but the Spirit, that is a
fruit; "That," saith he, "I will pray the Father for," etc. And what
Christ asketh the Father as mediator to bestow on us, that is part of
his purchase, being promised unto him, upon his undertaking to do the
will of God. And this is the first thing that is to be considered in
the Lord Jesus, as to the communication of the Spirit of sanctification
and purification, the first thing to be considered in this our
communion with him, - he intercedes with his Father, that he may be
bestowed on us as a fruit of his death and blood shed in our behalf.
This is the relation of the Spirit of holiness, as bestowed on us, unto
the mediation of Christ. He is the great foundation of the covenant of
grace; being himself everlastingly destinated and freely given to make
a purchase of all the good things thereof. Receiving, according to
promise, the Holy Ghost, Acts 2: 33, he sheds him abroad on his own.
This faith considers, fixes on, dwells upon. For, -
    (2.) His prayer being granted, as the Father "hears him always,"
he actually sends his Spirit into the hearts of his saints, there to
dwell in his stead, and to do all things for them and in them which he
himself has to do. This, secondly, is the Lord Christ by faith to be
eyed in; and that not only in respect of the first enduing of our
hearts with his Holy Spirit, but also of the continual supplies of it,
drawing forth and exciting more effectual operations and acting of that
indwelling Spirit. Hence, though (John 14: 16) he says the Father will
give them the Comforter, because the original and sovereign
dispensation is in his hand, and it is by him made out, upon the
intercession of Christ; yet, not being bestowed immediately on us, but,
as it were, given into the hand of Christ for us, he affirms that (as
to actual collation or bestowing) he sends him himself; chap. 15: 26,
"I will send the Comforter to you, from the Father." He receives him
from his Father, and actually sends him unto his saints. So, chap. 16:
7, "I will send him." And, verses 14,15, he manifests how he will send
him. He will furnish him with that which is his to bestow upon them:
"He shall take of mine (of that which is properly and peculiarly so, -
mine, as mediator, - the fruit of my life and death unto holiness), and
give it unto you." But of these things more afterward. This, then, is
the second thing that the Lord Christ does, and which is to be eyed in
him: - He sends his Holy Spirit into our hearts; which is the efficient
cause of all holiness and sanctification, - quickening, enlightening,
purifying the souls of his saints. How our union with him, with all the
benefit thereon depending, floweth from this his communication of the
Spirit unto us, to abide with us, and to dwell in us, I have at large
elsewhere declared; where also this whole matter is more fully opened.
And this is to be considered in him by faith, in reference to the
Spirit itself.
    (3.) There is that which we call habitual grace; that is, the
fruits of the Spirit, - the spirit which is born of the Spirit, John 3:
6. That which is born of, or produced by, the Holy Ghost, in the heart
or soul of a man when he is regenerate, that which makes him so, is
spirit; in opposition to the flesh, or that enmity which is in us by
nature against God. It is faith, love, joy, hope, and the rest of the
graces of the gospel, in their root or common principle, concerning
which these two things are to be observed: -
    [1.] That though many particular graces are mentioned, yet there
are not different habits or qualities in us, - not several or distinct
principles to answer them; but only the same habit or spiritual
principle putting forth itself in various operations or ways of
working, according to the variety of the objects which it goes forth
unto, is their common principle: so that it is called and
distinguished, as above, rather in respect of actual exercise, with
relation to its objects, than habitual inherence; it being one root
which has these many branches.
    [2.] This is that which I intend by this habit of grace, - a new,
gracious, spiritual life, or principle, created, and bestowed on the
soul, whereby it is changed in all its faculties and affections, fitted
and enabled to go forth in the way of obedience unto every divine
object that is proposed unto it, according to the mind of God. For
instance, the mind can discern of spiritual things in a spiritual
manner; and therein it is light, illumination. The whole soul closes
with Christ, as held forth in the promises of the gospel for
righteousness and salvation: that is faith; which being the main and
principal work of it, it often gives denomination unto the whole. So
when it rests in God, in Christ, with delight, desire, and complacency,
it is called love; being, indeed, the principle suiting all the
faculties of our souls for spiritual and living operations, according
to their natural use. Now it differs, -
    1st. From the Spirit dwelling in the saints; for it is a created
quality. The Spirit dwells in us as a free agent in a holy habitation.
This grace, as a quality, remains in us, as in its own proper subject,
that has not any subsistence but therein, and is capable of being
intended or restrained under great variety of degrees.
    2dly. From actual grace, which is transient; this making its
residence in the soul. Actual grace is an illapse of divine influence
and assistance, working in and by the soul any spiritual act or duty
whatsoever, without any pre-existence unto that act or continuance
after it, "God working in us, both to will and to do." But this
habitual grace is always resident in us, causing the soul to be a meet
principle for all those holy and spiritual operations which by actual
grace are to be performed. And, -
    3dly. It is capable of augmentation and diminution, as was said.
In some it is more large and more effectual than in others; yea, in
some persons, more at one time than another. Hence are those dyings,
decays, ruins, recoveries, complaints, and rejoicings, whereof so
frequent mention is made in the Scripture.
    These things being premised as to the nature of it, let us now
consider what we are to eye in the Lord Jesus in reference thereunto,
to make an entrance into our communion with him therein, as things by
him or on his part performed: -
    As I said of the Spirit, so, in the first place, I say of this, it
is of the purchase of Christ, and is so to be looked on. "It is given
unto us for his sake to believe on him," Phil. 1: 29. The Lord, on the
behalf of Christ, for his sake, because it is purchased and procured by
him for us, bestows faith, and (by same rule) all grace upon us. "We
are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in him,"
Eph. 1: 3. "In him;" that is, in and through his mediation for us. His
oblation and intercession lie at the bottom of this dispensation. Were
not grace by them procured, it would never by any one soul be enjoyed.
All grace is from this fountain. In our receiving it from Christ, we
must still consider what it cost him. Want of this weakens faith in its
proper workings. His whole intercession is founded on his oblation, 1
John 2: 1, 2. What he purchased by his death, that - nor more nor less,
as has been often said - he intercedeth may be bestowed. And he prays
that all his saints may have this grace whereof we speak, John 17: 17.
Did we continually consider all grace as the fruit of the purchase of
Christ, it would be an exceeding endearment on our spirits: nor can we
without this consideration, according to the tenor of the gospel, ask
or expect any grace. It is no prejudice to the free grace of the
Father, to look on any thing as the purchase of the Son; it was from
that grace that he made that purchase: and in the receiving of grace
from God, we have not communion with Christ, who is yet the treasury
and storehouse of it, unless we look upon it as his purchase. He has
obtained that we should be sanctified throughout, have life in us, be
humble, holy, believing, dividing the spoil with the mighty, by
destroying the works of the devil in us.
    Secondly. The Lord Christ does actually communicate this grace
unto his saints, and bestows it on them: "Of his fulness have all we
received, and grace for grace," John 1: 16. For, -
    (1st.) The Father actually invests him with all the grace whereof,
by compact and agreement, he has made a purchase (as he received the
promise of the Spirit); which is all that is of use for the bringing
his many sons to glory. "It pleased the Father that in him should all
fulness dwell," Col. 1: 19, - that he should be invested with a fulness
of that grace which is needful for his people. This himself calls the
"power of giving eternal life to his elect," John 17: 2; which power is
not only his ability to do it, but also his right to do it. Hence this
delivering of all things unto him by his Father, he lays as the bottom
of his inviting sinners unto him for refreshment: "All things are
delivered unto me of my Father," Matt. 11: 27. "Come unto me, all that
labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest," verse 28. This
being the covenant of the Father with him, and his promise unto him,
that upon the making "his soul an offering for sin, he should see his
seed, and the pleasure of the LORD should prosper in his hand," Isa.
53: 10, in the verses following, the "pouring out of his soul unto
death, and bearing the sins of many," is laid as the bottom and
procuring cause of these things: - 1. Of justification: "By his
knowledge he shall justify many." 2. Of sanctification; in "destroying
the works of the devil," verses 11, 12. Thus comes our merciful high
priest to be the great possessor of all grace, that he may give out to
us according to his own pleasure, quickening whom he will. He has it in
him really as our head, in that he received not that Spirit by measure
(John 3: 34) which is the bond of union between him and us, 1 Cor. 6:
17; whereby holding him, the head, we are filled with his fulness, Eph.
1: 22, 23; Col. 1: 19. He has it as a common person, intrusted with it
in our behalf, Rom. 5: 14-17. "The last Adam is made" unto us "a
quickening Spirit," 1 Cor. 15: 45. He is also a treasury of this grace
in a moral and law sense: not only as "it pleased the Father that in
him should all fulness dwell," Col. 1: 19; but also because in his
mediation, as has been declared, is founded the whole dispensation of
grace.
    (2dly.) Being thus actually vested with this power, and privilege,
and fulness, he designs the Spirit to take of this fulness, and to give
it unto us: "He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you," John
16: 15. The Spirit takes of that fulness that is in Christ, and in the
name of the Lord Jesus bestows it actually on them for whose
sanctification he is sent. Concerning the manner and almighty efficacy
of the Spirit of grace whereby this is done (I mean this actual
collation of grace upon his peculiar ones), more will be spoken
afterward.
    (3dly.) For actual grace, or that influence or power whereby the
saints are enabled to perform particular duties according to the mind
of God, there is not any need of farther enlargement about it. What
concerns our communion with the Lord Christ therein, holds proportion
with what was spoken before.
    There remaineth only one thing more to be observed concerning
those things whereof mention has been made, and I proceed to the way
whereby we carry on communion with the Lord Jesus in all these; and
that is, that these things may be considered two ways: - 1. In respect
of their first collation, or bestowing on the soul. 2. In respect of
their continuance and increase, as unto the degrees of them.
    In the first sense, as to the real communicating of the Spirit of
grace unto the soul, so raising it from death unto life, the saints
have no kind of communion with Christ therein but only what consists in
a passive reception of that life-giving, quickening Spirit and power.
They are but as the dead bones in the prophet; the wind blows on them,
and they live; - as Lazarus in the grave; Christ calls, and they come
forth, the call being accompanied with life and power. This, then, is
not that whereof particularly I speak; but it is the second, in respect
of farther efficacy of the Spirit and increase of grace, both habitual
and actual, whereby we become more holy, and to be more powerful in
walking with God, - have more fruit in obedience and success against
temptations. And in this, -
    2. They hold communion with the Lord Christ. And wherein and how
they do it, shall now be declared.
    They continually eye the Lord Jesus as the great Joseph, that has
the disposal of all the granaries of the kingdom of heaven committed
unto him; as one in whom it has pleased the Father to gather all things
unto a head, Eph. 1: 10, that from him all things might be dispensed
unto them. All treasures, all fulness, the Spirit not by measure, are
in him. And this fulness in this Joseph, in reference to their
condition, they eye in these three particulars: -
    (1.) In the preparation unto the dispensation mentioned, in the
expiating, purging, purifying efficacy of his blood. It was a sacrifice
not only of atonement, as offered, but also of purification, as poured
out. This the apostle eminently sets forth, Heb. 9: 13, 14, "For if the
blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the
unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: how much more shall
the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself
without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the
living God?" This blood of his is that which answers all typical
institutions for carnal purification; and therefore has a spiritually-
purifying, cleansing, sanctifying virtue in itself, as offered and
poured out. Hence it is called, "A fountain for sin and for
uncleanness," Zech. 13: l; that is, for their washing and taking away;
- "A fountain opened;" ready prepared, virtuous, efficacious in itself,
before any be put into it; because poured out, instituted, appointed to
that purpose. The saints see that in themselves they are still
exceedingly defiled; and, indeed, to have a sight of the defilements of
sin is a more spiritual discovery than to have only a sense of the
guilt of sin. This follows every conviction, and is commensurate unto
it; that, usually only such as reveal the purity and holiness of God
and all his ways. Hereupon they cry with shame, within themselves,
"Unclean, unclean," unclean in their natures, unclean in their persons,
unclean in their conversations; all rolled in the blood of their
defilements; their hearts by nature a very sink, and their lives a dung
hill. They know, also, that no unclean thing shall enter into the
kingdom of God, or have place in the new Jerusalem; that God is of
purer eyes than to behold iniquity. They cannot endure to look on
themselves; and how shall they dare to appear in his presence? What
remedies shall they now use? "Though they wash themselves with nitre,
and take them much soap, yet their iniquity will continue marked," Jer.
2: 22. Wherewith, then, shall they come before the Lord? For the
removal of this, I say, they look, in the first place, to the purifying
virtue of the blood of Christ, which is able to cleanse. them from all
their sins, 1 John 1: 7; being the spring from whence floweth all the
purifying virtue, which in the issue will take away all their spots and
stains, "make them holy and without blemish, and in the end present
them glorious unto himself," Eph. 5: 26, 27. This they dwell upon with
thoughts of faith; they roll it in their minds and spirits. Here faith
obtains new life, new vigour, when a sense of vileness has even
overwhelmed it. Here is a fountain opened: draw nigh, and see its
beauty, purity, and efficacy. Here is a foundation laid of that work
whose accomplishment we long for. One moment's communion with Christ by
faith herein is more effectual to the purging of the soul, to the
increasing of grace, than the utmost self-endeavours of a thousand
ages.
    (2.) They eye the blood of Christ as the blood of sprinkling.
Coming to "Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant," they come to the
"blood of sprinkling," Heb. 12: 24. The dyeing of the blood of Christ
as shed will not of itself take away pollution. There is not only
"haimatekchusia", - a "shedding of blood," without which there is no
remission, Heb. 9: 22; but there is also "haimatos rantismos", - a "
sprinkling of blood," without which there is no actual purification.
This the apostle largely describes, Heb. 9: 19, "When Moses," saith he,
"had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he
took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool,
and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people, saying,
This is the blood of the testament which God has enjoined unto you.
Moreover he sprinkled likewise with blood both the tabernacle, and all
the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law
purged with blood. It was therefore necessary that the patterns of
things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly
things themselves with better sacrifices than these," verses 19-23. He
had formerly compared the blood of Christ to the blood of sacrifices,
as offered, in respect of the impetration and the purchase it made; now
he does it unto that blood as sprinkled, in respect of its application
unto purification and holiness. And he tells us how this sprinkling was
performed: it was by dipping hyssop in the blood of the sacrifice, and
so dashing it out upon the things and persons to be purified; as the
institution also was with the Paschal lamb, Exod. 12: 7. Hence, David,
in a sense of the pollution of sin, prays that he may be "purged with
hyssop," Ps. 51: 7. For that this peculiarly respected the uncleanness
and defilement of sin, is evident, because there is no mention made, in
the institution of any sacrifice (after that of the lamb before
mentioned), of sprinkling blood with hyssop, but only in those which
respected purification of uncleanness; as in the case of leprosy, Lev.
14: 6; and all other defilements, Numb. 19: 18: which latter, indeed,
is not of blood, but of the water of separation; this also being
eminently typical of the blood of Christ, which is the fountain for
separation for uncleanness, Zech. 13: 1. Now, this bunch of hyssop,
wherein the blood of purification was prepared for the sprinkling of
the unclean, is (unto us) the free promises of Christ. The cleansing
virtue of the blood of Christ lies in the promises, as the blood of
sacrifices in the hyssop, ready to pass out unto them that draw nigh
thereunto. Therefore the apostle argueth from receiving of the promise
unto universal holiness and purity: "Having therefore these promises,
dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the
flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God," 2 Cor. 7: 1.
This, then, the saints do: - they eye the blood of Christ as it is in
the promise, ready to issue out upon the soul, for the purification
thereof; and thence is purging and cleansing virtue to be communicated
unto them, and by the blood of Christ are they to be purged from all
their sins, 1 John 1: 7. Thus far, as it were, this purifying blood,
thus prepared and made ready, is at some distance to the soul. Though
it be shed to this purpose, that it might purge, cleanse, and sanctify,
though it be taken up with the bunch of hyssop in the promises, yet the
soul may not partake of it. Wherefore, -
    (3.) They look upon him as, in his own Spirit, he is the only
dispenser of the Spirit and of all grace of sanctification and
holiness. They consider that upon his intercession it is granted to him
that he shall make effectual all the fruits of his purchase, to the
sanctification, the purifying and making glorious in holiness, of his
whole people. They know that this is actually to be accomplished by the
Spirit, according to the innumerable promises given to that purpose. He
is to sprinkle that blood upon their souls; he is to create the
holiness in them that they long after; he is to be himself in them a
well of water springing up to everlasting life. In this state they look
to Jesus: here faith fixes itself, in expectation of his giving out the
Spirit for all these ends and purposes; mixing the promises with faith,
and so becoming actual partaker of all this grace. This is their way,
this their communion with Christ; this is the life of faith, as to
grace and holiness. Blessed is the soul that is exercised therein: "He
shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her
roots by the river, and shall not see when heat comes, but her leaf
shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought,
neither shall cease from yielding fruit," Jer. 17: 8. Convinced persons
who know not Christ, nor the fellowship of his sufferings, would spin a
holiness out of their own bowels; they would work it out in their own
strength. They begin it with trying endeavours; and follow it with
vows, duties, resolutions, engagements, sweating at it all the day
long. Thus they continue for a season, - their hypocrisy, for the most
part, ending in apostasy. The saints of God do, in the very entrance of
their walking with him, reckon upon it that they have a threefold want:
- [1.] Of the Spirit of holiness to dwell in them. [2.] Of a habit of
holiness to be infused into them. [3.] Of actual assistance to work all
their works for them; and that if these should continue to be wanting,
they can never, with all their might, power, and endeavours, perform
any one act of holiness before the Lord. They know that of themselves
they have no sufficiency, - that, without Christ they can do nothing:
therefore they look to him, who is intrusted with a fulness of all
these in their behalf; and thereupon by faith derive from him an
increase of that whereof they stand in need. Thus, I say, have the
saints communion with Christ, as to their sanctification and holiness.
From him do they receive the Spirit to dwell in them; from him the new
principle of life, which is the root of all their obedience; from him
have they actual assistance for every duty they are called unto. In
waiting for, expectation and receiving of these blessings, on the
accounts before mentioned, do they spend their lives and time with him.
In vain is help looked for from other mountains; in vain do men spend
their strength in following after righteousness, if this be wanting.
Fix thy soul here; thou shalt not tarry until thou be ashamed. This is
the way, the only way, to obtain full, effectual manifestations of the
Spirit's dwelling in us; to have our hearts purified, our consciences
purged, our sins mortified, our graces increased, our souls made
humble, holy, zealous, believing, - like to him; to have our lives
fruitful, our deaths comfortable. Let us herein abide, dyeing Christ by
faith, to attain that measure of conformity to him which is allotted
unto us in this world, that when we shall see him as he is, we may be
like unto him.





Chapter 10. Of communion with Christ in privileges - Of adoption; the
     nature of it, the consequences of it - Peculiar privileges
     attending it; liberty, title, boldness, affliction - Communion
     with Christ hereby.

    III. The third thing wherein we have communion with Christ, is
grace of privilege before God; I mean, as the third head of purchased
grace. The privileges we enjoy by Christ are great and innumerable; to
insist on them in particular were work for a man's whole life, not a
design to be wrapped up in a few sheets. I shall take a view of them
only in the head, the spring and fountain whence they all arise and
flow, - this is our adoption: "Beloved, now are we the sons of God," 1
John 3: 2. This is our great and fountain privilege. Whence is it that
we are so? It is from the love of the Father. Verse 1, "Behold, what
manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be
called the sons of God!" But by whom immediately do we receive this
honour? As many as believe on Christ, he gives them this power, to
become the sons of God, John 1: 12. Himself was appointed to be the
first-born among many brethren, Rom. 8: 29; and his taking us to be
brethren, Heb. 2: 11, makes us become the children of God. Now, that
God is our Father, by being the Father of Christ, and we his children
by being the brethren of Christ, being the head and sum of all the
honour, privilege, right, and title we have, let us a little consider
the nature of that act whereby we are invested with this state and
title, - namely, our adoption.
    Now, adoption is the authoritative translation of a believer, by
Jesus Christ, from the family of the world and Satan into the family of
God, with his investiture in all the privileges and advantages of that
family.
    To the complete adoption of any person, these five things are
required: -
    1. That he be actually, and of his own right, of another family
than that whereinto he is adopted. He must be the son of one family or
other, in his own right, as all persons are.
    2. That there be a family unto which of himself he has no right,
whereinto he is to be grafted. If a man comes into a family upon a
personal right, though originally at never so great a distance, that
man is not adopted. If a man of a most remote consanguinity do come
into the inheritance of any family by the death of the nearer heirs,
though his right before were little better than nothing, yet he is a
born son of that family, - he is not adopted. [In adoption] he is not
to have the plea of the most remote possibility of succession.
    3. That there be an authoritative, legal translation of him, by
some that have power thereinto, from one family into another. It was
not, by the law of old, in the power of particular persons to adopt
when and whom they would. It was to be done by the authority of the
sovereign power.
    4. That the adopted person be freed from all the obligations that
be upon him unto the family from whence he is translated; otherwise he
can be no way useful or serviceable unto the family whereinto he is
ingrafted. He cannot serve two masters, much less two fathers.
    5. That, by virtue of his adoption, he be invested in all the
rights, privileges, advantages, and title to the whole inheritance, of
the family into which he is adopted, in as full and ample manner as if
he had been born a son therein.
    Now, all these things and circumstances do concur and are found in
the adoption of believers: -
    1. They are, by their own original right, of another family than
that whereinto they are adopted. They are "by nature the children of
wrath," Eph. 2: 3, - sons of wrath, - of that family whose inheritance
is "wrath," called "the power of darkness," Col. 1: 13; for from thence
does God "translate them into the kingdom of his dear Son." This is the
family of the world and of Satan, of which by nature believers are.
Whatever is to be inherited in that family, - as wrath, curse, death,
hell, - they have a right thereunto. Neither can they of themselves, or
by themselves, get free of this family: a strong man armed keeps them
in subjection. Their natural estate is a family condition, attended
with all the circumstances of a family, - family duties and services,
rights and titles, relations and observances. They are of the black
family of sin and Satan.
    2. There is another family whereinto they are to be translated,
and whereunto of themselves they have neither right nor title. This is
that family in heaven and earth which is called after the name of
Christ, Eph. 3: 15, - the great family of God. God has a house and
family for his children; of whom some he maintains on the riches of his
grace, and some he entertains with the fulness of his glory. This is
that house whereof the Lord Christ is the great dispenser, it having
pleased the Father to "gather together in one all things in him, both
which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him," Eph. 1: 10.
herein live all the sons and daughters of God, spending largely on the
riches of his grace. Unto this family of themselves they have no right
nor title; they are wholly alienated from it, Eph. 2: 12, and can lay
no claim to any thing in it. God driving fallen Adam out of the garden,
and shutting up all ways of return with a flaming sword, ready to cut
him off if he should attempt it, abundantly declares that he, and all
in him, had lost all right of approaching unto God in any family
relation. Corrupted, cursed nature is not vested with the least right
to any thing of God. Therefore, -
    3. They have an authoritative translation from one of these
families to another. It is not done in a private, underhand way, but in
the way of authority. John 1: 12, "As many as received him, to them
gave he power to become the sons of God," power or authority. This
investing them with the power, excellency, and light of the sons of
God, is a forensical act, and has a legal proceeding in it. It is
called the "making us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the
saints in light," Col. 1: 12; - a judicial exalting us into membership
in that family, where God is the Father, Christ the elder brother, all
saints and angels brethren and fellow-children, and the inheritance a
crown immortal and incorruptible, that fades not away.
    Now, this authoritative translation of believers from one family
into another consisteth of these two parts: -
    (1.) An effectual proclamation and declaration of such a person's
immunity from all obligations to the former family, to which by nature
he was related. And this declaration has a threefold object: -
    [1.] Angels. It is declared unto them; they are the sons of God.
They are the sons of God, and so of the family whereinto the adopted
person is to be admitted; and therefore it concerns them to know who
are invested with the rights of that family, that they may discharge
their duty towards them. Unto them, then, it is declared that believers
are freed from the family of sin and hell, to become fellow-sons and
servants with them. And this is done two ways: -
    1st. Generally, by the doctrine of the gospel. Eph. 3: 10, "Unto
the principalities and powers in heavenly places is made known by the
church the manifold wisdom of God."
    By the church is this wisdom made known to the angels, either as
the doctrine of the gospel is delivered unto it, or as it is gathered
thereby. And what is this wisdom of God that is thus made known to
principalities and powers? It is, that "the Gentiles should be fellow-
heirs and of the same body with us," verse 6. The mystery of adopting
sinners of the Gentiles, taking them from their slavery in the family
of the world, that they might have a right of heirship, becoming sons
in the family of God, is this wisdom, thus made known. And how was it
primitively made known? It was "revealed by the Spirit unto the
prophets and apostles," verse 5.
    2dly. In particular, by immediate revelation. When any particular
soul is freed from the family of this world, it is revealed to the
angels. "There is joy in the presence of the angels of God" (that is,
among the angels, and by them) "over one sinner that repenteth," Luke
15: 10. Now, the angels cannot of themselves absolutely know the true
repentance of a sinner in itself; it is a work wrought in that cabinet
which none has a key unto but Jesus Christ; by him it is revealed to
the angels, when the peculiar care and charge of such a one is
committed to them. These things have their transaction before the
angels, Luke 12: 8, 9. Christ owns the names of his brethren before the
angels, Rev. 3: 5. When he gives them admittance into the family where
they are, Heb. 12: 22, he declares to them that they are sons, that
they may discharge their duty towards them, Heb. 1: 14.
    [2.] It is denounced in a judicial way unto Satan, the great
master of the family whereunto they were in subjection. When the Lord
Christ delivers a soul from under the power of that strong armed one,
he binds him, - ties him from the exercise of that power and dominion
which before he had over him. And by this means does he know that such
a one is delivered from his family; and all his future attempts upon
him are encroaching upon the possession and inheritance of the Lord
Christ.
    [3.] Unto the conscience of the person adopted. The Spirit of
Christ testifies to the heart and conscience of a believer that he is
freed from all engagements unto the family of Satan, and is become the
son of God, Rom. 8: 14, 15; and enables him to cry, "Abba, Father,"
Gal. 4: 6. Of the particulars of this testification of the Spirit, and
of its absolving the soul from its old alliance, I shall speak
afterward. And herein consists the first thing mentioned.
    (2.) There is an authoritative ingrafting of a believer actually
into the family of God, and investing him with the whole right of
sonship. Now this, as unto us, has sundry acts: -
    [1.] The giving a believer a new name in a white stone, Rev. 2:17.
They that are adopted are to take new names; they change their names
they had in their old families, to take the names of the families
whereinto they are translated. This new name is, "A child of God." That
is the new name given in adoption; and no man knoweth what is in that
name, but only he that does receive it. And this new name is given and
written in a white stone; - that is the tessera of our admission into
the house of God. It is a stone of judicial acquitment. Our adoption by
the Spirit is bottomed on our absolution in the blood of Jesus; and
therefore is the new name in the white stone privilege grounded on
discharge. The white stone quits the claim of the old family; the new
name gives entrance to the other.
    [2.] An enrolling of his name in the catalogue of the household of
God, admitting him thereby into fellowship therein. This is called the
"writing of the house of Israel," Ezek. 13: 9; that is, the roll
wherein all the names of the Israel, the family of God, are written.
God has a catalogue of his household; Christ knows his sheep by name.
When God writeth up the people, he counts that "this man was born in
Zion," Ps. 87: 6. This is an extract of the Lamb's book of life.
    [3.] Testifying to his conscience his acceptation with God,
enabling him to behave himself as a child, Rom. 8: 15; Gal. 4: 5, 6.
    4. The two last things required to adoption are, that the adopted
person be freed from all obligations to the family from whence he is
translated, and invested with the rights and privileges of that
whereinto he is translated. Now, because these two comprise the whole
issue of adoption, wherein the saints have communion with Christ, I
shall hand]e them together, referring the concernments of them unto
these four heads: - (1.) Liberty. (2.) Title, or right. (3.) Boldness.
(4.) Correction. These are the four things, in reference to the family
of the adopted person, that he does receive by his adoption, wherein he
holds communion with the Lord Jesus: -
    (1.) Liberty. The Spirit of the Lord, that was upon the Lord
Jesus, did anoint him to proclaim liberty to the captives, Isa. 61: 1;
and "where the Spirit of the Lord is" (that is, the Spirit of Christ,
given to us by him because we are sons), "there is liberty," 2 Cor. 3:
17. All spiritual liberty is from the Spirit of adoption; whatever else
is pretended, is licentiousness. So the apostle argues, Gal. 4: 6, 7,
"He has sent forth his Spirit into their hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Wherefore ye are no more servants," no more in bondage, but have the
liberty of sons. And this liberty respects, -
    [1.] In the first place, the family from whence the adopted person
is translated. It is his setting free from all the obligations of that
family. Now, in this sense, the liberty which the saints have by
adoption is either from that which is real or that which is pretended:
-
    1st. That which is real respects a twofold issue of law and sin.
The moral, unchangeable law of God, and sin, being in conjunction,
meeting with reference to any persons, has, and has had, a twofold
issue: -
    (1st.) An economical institution of a new law of ordinances,
keeping in bondage those to whom it was given, Col. 2: 14.
    (2dly.) A natural (if I may so call it) pressing of those persons
with its power and efficacy against sin; whereof there are these parts:
-
    [1st.] Its rigour and terror in commanding.
    [2dly.] Its impossibility for accomplishment, and so insufficiency
for its primitively appointed end.
    [3dly.] The issues of its transgression; which are referred unto
two heads: - 1. Curse. 2. Death. I shall speak very briefly of these,
because they are commonly handled, and granted by all.
    2dly. That which is pretended, is the power of any whatever over
the conscience, when once made free by Christ: -
    (1st.) Believers are freed from the instituted law of ordinances,
which, upon the testimony of the apostles, was a yoke which neither we
nor our fathers (in the faith) could bear, Acts 15: 10; wherefore
Christ "blotted out this hand-writing of ordinances that was against
them, which was contrary to them, and took it out of the way, nailing
it to his cross," Col. 2: 14: and thereupon the apostle, after a long
dispute concerning the liberty that we have from that law, concludes
with this instruction: Gal. 5: l, "Stand fast in the liberty where with
Christ has made us free."
    (2dly.) In reference so the moral law: -
    [1st.] The first thing we have liberty from, is its rigour and
terror in commanding. Heb. 12: 18-22, "We are not come to the mount
that might be touched, and that burned with fire, to the whirlwind,
darkness, and tempest, to the sound of the trumpet, and the voice of
words, which they that heard besought that they might hear it no more;
but we are come to mount Sion," etc. As to that administration of the
law wherein it was given out with dread and terror, and so exacted its
obedience with rigour, we are freed from it, we are not called to that
estate.
    [2dly.] Its impossibility of accomplishment, and so insufficiency
for its primitive end, by reason of sin; or, we are freed from the law
as the instrument of righteousness, since, by the impossibility of its
fulfilling as to us, it is become insufficient for any such purpose,
Rom. 8: 2, 3; Gal. 3: 21-23. There being an impossibility of obtaining
life by the law, we are exempted from it as to any such end, and that
by the righteousness of Christ, Rom. 8: 3.
    [3dly.] From the issue of its transgression: -
    First. Curse. There is a solemn curse inwrapping the whole wrath
annexed to the law, with reference to the transgression thereof; and
from this are we wholly at liberty. Gal. 3: 13, "Christ has redeemed us
from the curse of the law by being made a curse for us."
    Secondly. Death, Heb. 2: 15; and therewith from Satan, Heb. 2: 14,
Col. 1: 13; and sin, Rom. 6: 14, 1 Pet. 1: 18; with the world, Gal. 1:
4; with all the attendancies, advantages, and claims of them all, Gal.
4: 3-5, Col. 2: 20; without which we could not live one day.
    That which is pretended and claimed by some (wherein in deed and
in truth we were never in bondage, but are hereby eminently set free),
is the power of binding conscience by any laws and constitutions not
from God, Col. 2: 20-22.
    [2.] [In the second place,] there is a liberty in the family of
God, as well as a liberty from the family of Satan. Sons are free.
Their obedience is a free obedience; they have the Spirit of the Lord:
and where he is, there is liberty, 2 Cor. 3: 17. As a Spirit of
adoption, he is opposed to the spirit of bondage, Rom. 8: 15. Now, this
liberty of our Father's family, which we have as sons and children,
being adopted by Christ through the Spirit, is a spiritual largeness of
heart, whereby the children of God do freely, willingly, genuinely,
without fear, terror, bondage, and constraint, go forth unto all holy
obedience in Christ.
    I say, this is our liberty in our Father's family: what we have
liberty from, has been already declared.
    There are Gibeonites outwardly attending the family of God, that
do the service of his house as the drudgery of their lives. The
principle they yield obedience upon, is a spirit of bondage unto fear,
Rom. 8: 15; the rule they do it by, is the law in its dread and rigour,
exacting it of them to the utmost, without mercy and mitigation; the
end they do it for, is to fly from the wrath to come, to pacify
conscience, and seek righteousness as it were by the works of the law.
Thus servilely, painfully, fruitlessly, they seek to serve their own
conviction all their days.
    The saints by adoption have a largeness of heart in all holy
obedience. Saith David, "I will walk at liberty, for I seek thy
precepts," Ps. 119: 45; Isa. 61: l; Luke 4: 18; Rom. 8: 2, 21; Gal. 4:
7, 5: 1, 13; James 1: 25; John 8: 32, 33, 36; Rom. 6: 18; 1 Pet. 2: 16.
Now, this amplitude, or son-like freedom of the Spirit in obedience,
consists in sundry things: -
    1st. In the principles of all spiritual service; which are life
and love; - the one respecting the matter of their obedience, giving
them power; the other respecting the manner of their obedience, giving
them joy and sweetness in it: -
    (1st.) It is from life; that gives them power as to the matter of
obedience. Rom. 8: 2, "The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus
sets them free from the law of sin and death." It frees them, it
carries them out to all obedience freely; so that "they walk after the
Spirit," verse 1, that being the principle of their workings. Gal. 2:
20, "Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I
live by the faith of the Son of God;" - "The life which I now live in
the flesh (that is, the obedience which I yield unto God whilst I am in
the flesh), it is from a principle of life, Christ living in me. There
is, then, power for all living unto God, from Christ in them, the
Spirit of life from Christ carrying them out thereto. The fruits of a
dead root are but dead excrescences; living acts are from a principle
of life.
    Hence you may see the difference between the liberty that slaves
assume, and the liberty which is due to children: -
    [1st.] Slaves take liberty from duty; children have liberty in
duty. There is not a greater mistake in the world, than that the
liberty of sons in the house of God consists in this, - they can
perform duties, or take the freedom to omit them; they can serve in the
family of God (that is, they think they may if they will), and they can
choose whether they will or no. This is a liberty stolen by slaves, not
a liberty given by the Spirit unto sons.
    The liberty of sons is in the inward spiritual freedom of their
hearts, naturally and kindly going out in all the ways and worship of
God. When they find themselves straitened and shut up in them, they
wrestle with God for enlargement, and are never contented with the
doing of a duty, unless it be done as in Christ, with free, genuine,
and enlarged hearts. The liberty that servants have is from duty; the
liberty given to sons is in duty.
    [2dly.] The liberty of slaves or servants is from mistaken,
deceiving conclusions; the liberty of sons is from the power of the
indwelling Spirit of grace. Or, the liberty of servants is from
outward, dead conclusions; the liberty of sons, from an inward, living
principle.
    (2dly.) Love, as to the manner of their obedience, gives them
delight and joy. John 14: 15, "If ye love me," says Christ, "keep my
commandments." Love is the bottom of all their duties; hence our
Saviour resolves all obedience into the love of God and our neighbour;
and Paul, upon the same ground, tells us "that love is the fulfilling
of the law," Rom. 13: 10. Where love is in any duty, it is complete in
Christ. How often does David, even with admiration, express this
principle of his walking with God! "O," saith he, "how I love thy
commandments! "This gives saints delight, that the commandments of
Christ are not grievous to them. Jacob's hard service was not grievous
to him, because of his love to Rachel. No duty of a saint is grievous
to him, because of his love to Christ. They do from hence all things
with delight and complacency. Hence do they long for advantages of
walking with God, - pant after more ability; and this is a great share
of their son-like freedom in obedience. It gives them joy in it. 1 John
4: 18, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear."
When their soul is acted to obedience by love, it expels that fear
which is the issue of bondage upon the spirit. Now, when there is a
concurrence of these two (life and love), there is freedom, liberty,
largeness of heart, exceedingly distanced from that strait and bandaged
frame which many walk in all their days, that know not the adoption of
sons.
    2dly. The object of their obedience is represented to them as
desirable, whereas to others it is terrible. In all their approaches to
God, they eye him as a Father; they call him Father, Gal. 4: 6, not in
the form of words, but in the spirit of sons. God in Christ is
continually before them; not only as one deserving all the honours and
obedience which he requires, but also as one exceedingly to be
delighted in, as being all-sufficient to satisfy and satiate all the
desires of the soul. When others napkin their talents, as having to
deal with an austere master, they draw out their strength to the
uttermost, as drawing nigh to a gracious rewarder. They go, from the
principle of life and love, to the bosom of a living and loving Father;
they do but return the strength they do receive unto the fountain, unto
the ocean.
    3dly. Their motive unto obedience is love, 2 Cor. 5: 14. From an
apprehension of love, they are effectually carried out by love to give
up themselves unto him who is love. What a freedom is this! what a
largeness of spirit is in them who walk according to this rule!
Darkness, fear, bondage, conviction, hopes of righteousness, accompany
others in their ways; the sons, by the Spirit of adoption, have light,
love, with complacency, in all their walkings with God. The world is a
universal stranger unto the frame of children in their Father's house.
    4thly. The manner of their obedience is willingness. "They yield
themselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead," Rom. 6:
13; they yield themselves, - give up themselves willingly, cheerfully,
freely. "With my whole heart," saith David. Rom. 12: 1, "They present
themselves a living sacrifice," and a willing sacrifice.
    5thly. The rule of their walking with God is the law of liberty,
as divested of all its terrifying, threatening, killing, condemning,
cursing power; and rendered, in the blood of Jesus, sweet, tender,
useful, directing, - helpful as a rule of walking in the life they have
received, not the way of working for the life they have not. I might
give more instances. These may suffice to manifest that liberty of
obedience in the family of God which his sons and daughters have, that
the poor convinced Gibeonites are not acquainted withal.
    (2.) The second thing which the children of God have by adoption
is title. They have title and right to all the privileges and
advantages of the family whereinto they are translated. This is the pre-
eminence of the true sons of any family. The ground on which Sarah
pleaded the ejection of Ishmael was, that he was the son of the bond
woman, Gen. 21: 10, and so no genuine child of the family; and
therefore could have no right of heirship with Isaac. The apostle's
arguing is, "We are no more servants, but sons; and if sons, then
heirs," Rom. 8: 14-17, - "then have we right and title: and being not
born hereunto (for by nature we are the children of wrath), we have
this right by our adoption."
    Now, the saints hereby have a double right and title: 1st. Proper
and direct, in respect of spirituals. 2dly. Consequential, in respect
of temporal: -
    [1.] The first, also, or the title, as adopted sons, unto
spirituals, is, in respect of the object of it, twofold: - (1st.) Unto
a present place, name, and room, in the house of God, and all the
privileges and administrations thereof (2dly.) To a future fulness of
the great inheritance of glory, - of a kingdom purchased for that whole
family whereof they are by Jesus Christ: -
    1st. They have a title unto, and an interest in, the whole
administration of the family of God here.
    The supreme administration of the house of God in the hand of the
Lord Christ, as to the institution of ordinances and dispensation of
the Spirit, to enliven and make effectual those ordinances for the end
of their institution, is the prime notion of this administration. And
hereof they are the prime objects; all this is for them, and exercised
towards them. God has given Jesus Christ to be the "head over all
things unto the church, which is his body," Eph. 1: 22, 23: he has made
him the head over all these spiritual things, committed the
authoritative administration of them all unto him, to the use and
behoof of the church; that is, the family of God. It is for the benefit
and advantage of the many sons whom he will bring unto glory that he
does all these things, Heb. 2: 10; see Eph. 4: 8-13. The aim of the
Lord Jesus in establishing gospel administrations, and administrators,
is "for the perfecting of the saints, the work of the ministry," etc.
All is for then, all is for the family. In that is the faithfulness of
Christ exercised; he is faithful in all the house of God, Heb. 3: 2.
Hence the apostle tells the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 3: 22, 23, of all these
gospel administrations and ordinances, they are all theirs, and all for
them. What benefit soever redoundeth to the world by the things of the
gospel (as much does every way), it is engaged for it to the children
of this family. This, then, is the aim and intendment of the Lord
Christ in the institution of all gospel ordinances and administrations,
- that they may be at use for the house and family of God, and all his
children and servants therein.
    It is true, the word is preached to all the world, to gather in
the children of God's purpose that are scattered up and down in the
world, and to leave the rest inexcusable; but the prime end and aim of
the Lord Christ thereby is, to gather in those heirs of salvation unto
the enjoyment of that feast of fat things which he has prepared for
them in his house.
    Again: they, and they only, have right and title to gospel
administrations, and the privileges of the family of God, as they are
held out in his church according to his mind. The church is the "house
of God," l Tim. 3: 15; Heb. 3: 6; herein he keeps and maintains his
whole family, ordering them according to his mind and will. Now, who
shall have any right in the house of God, but only his children? We
will not allow a right to any but our own children in our houses: will
God, think you, allow any right in his house but to his children? Is it
meet, to "take the children's bread and cast it unto the dogs?" We
shall see that none but children have any right or title to the
privileges and advantages of the house of God, if we consider, -
    (1st.) The nature of that house. It is made up of such persons as
it is impossible that any but adopted children should have right unto a
place in it. It is composed of "living stones," 1 Pet. 2: 5; - a
"chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar
people," verse 9; - "saints and faithful in Christ Jesus," Eph. 1: l; -
"saints and faithful brethren," Col. 1: 2; - a people that are "all
righteous," Isa. 60: 21; and the whole fabric of it is glorious, chap.
54: 11-14, - the way of the house is "a way of holiness," which the
unclean shall not pass through, chap. 35: 8; yea, expressly, they are
the "sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty," and they only, 2 Cor. 6:
17,18; all others are excluded, Rev. 21: 27. It is true that
oftentimes, at unawares, other persons creep into the great house of
God; and so there become in it "not only vessels of gold and silver,
but also of wood and of earth," etc., 2 Tim. 2: 20; but they only creep
in, as Jude speaks, verse 4, they have no right nor title to it.
    (2dly.) The privileges of the house are such as they will not suit
nor profit any other. To what purpose is it to give food to a dead man?
Will he grow strong by it? will he increase upon it? The things of the
family and house of God are food for living souls. Now, children only
are alive, all others are dead in trespasses and sins. What will
outward signs avail, if life and power be away? Look upon what
particular you please of the saints' enjoyments in the family of God,
you shall find them all suited unto believers; and, being bestowed on
the world, [they] would be a pearl in the snout of a swine.
    It is, then, only the sons of the family that have this right;
they have fellowship with one another, and that fellowship with the
Father and the Son Jesus Christ; they set forth the Lord's death till
he come; they are intrusted with all the ordinances of the house, and
the administration of them. And who shall deny them the enjoyment of
this right, or keep them from what Christ has purchased for them? And
the Lord will in the end give them hearts everywhere to make use of
this title accordingly, and not to wander on the mountains, forgetting
their resting-place.
    2dly. They have a title to the future fulness of the inheritance
that is purchased for this whole family by Jesus Christ. So the apostle
argues, Rom. 8: 17, "If children, then heirs," etc. All God's children
are "first-born," Heb. 12: 23; and therefore are heirs: hence the whole
weight of glory that is prepared for them is called the inheritance,
Col. 1: 12, "The inheritance of the saints in light." "If ye be
Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the
promise," Gal 3: 29. Heirs of the promise; that is, of all things
promised unto Abraham in and with Christ.
    There are three things that in this regard the children of God are
said to be heirs unto: -
    (1st.) The promise; as in that place of Gal. 3: 29 and Heb. 6: 17.
God shows to "the heirs of the promise the immutability of his
counsel;" as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, are said to be "heirs of the
same promise," Heb. 11: 9. God had from the foundation of the world
made a most excellent promise in Christ, containing a deliverance from
all evil, and an engagement for the bestowing of all good things upon
them. It contains a deliverance from all the evil which the guilt of
sin and dominion of Satan had brought upon them, with an investiture of
them in all spiritual blessings in heavenly things in Christ Jesus.
Hence, Heb. 9: 15, the Holy Ghost calls it a "promise of the eternal
inheritance." This, in the first place, are the adopted children of God
heirs unto. Look, whatever is in the promise which God made at the
beginning to fallen man, and has since solemnly renewed and confirmed
by his oath; they are heirs of it, and are accepted in their claim for
their inheritance in the courts of heaven.
    (2dly.) They are heirs of righteousness, Heb. 11: 7. Noah was an
heir of the righteousness which is by faith; which Peter calls a being
"heir of the grace of life," l Pet. 3: 7. And James puts both these
together, chap. 2: 5, "Heirs of the kingdom which God has promised;"
that is, of the kingdom of grace, and the righteousness thereof. And in
this respect it is that the apostle tells us, Eph. 1: 11, that "we have
obtained an inheritance;" which he also places with the righteousness
of faith, Acts 26: 18. Now, by this righteousness, grace, and
inheritance, is not only intended that righteousness which we are here
actually made partakers of, but also the end and accomplishment of that
righteousness in glory; which is also assured in the next place, -
    (3dly.) They are "heirs of salvation," Heb. 1: 14, and "heirs
according to the hope of eternal life," Tit. 3: 7; which Peter calls an
"inheritance incorruptible," 1 Pet. 1: 4; and Paul, the "reward of the
inheritance," Col. 3: 24, - that is, the issue of the inheritance of
light and holiness, which they already enjoy. Thus, then, distinguish
the full salvation by Christ into the foundation of it, the promises;
and the means of it, righteousness and holiness; and the end of it,
eternal glory. The sons of God leave a right and title to all, in that
they are made heirs with Christ.
    And this is that which is the main of the saints' title and right,
which they have by adoption; which in sum is, that the Lord is their
portion and inheritance, and they are the inheritance of the Lord: and
a large portion it is that they have; the lines are fallen to them in a
goodly place.
    [2.] Besides this principal, the adopted sons of God have a second
consequential right, - a right unto the things of this world; that is,
unto all the portions of it which God is pleased to intrust them here
withal. Christ is the "heir of all things," Heb. 1: 2; all right and
title to the things of the creation was lost and forfeited by sin. The
Lord, by his sovereignty, had made an original grant of all things here
below for man's use; he had appointed the residue of the works of his
hands, in their several stations, to be serviceable unto his behoof.
Sin reversed this whole grant and institution, - all things were set at
liberty from this subjection unto him; yet that liberty, being a taking
them off from the end to which they were originally appointed, is a
part of their vanity and curse. It is evil to any thing to be laid
aside as to the end to which it was primitively appointed. By this
means the whole creation is turned loose from any subordinate ruler;
and man, having lost the whole title whereby he held his dominion over
and possession of the creatures, has not the least colour of interest
in any of them, nor can lay any claim unto them. But now the Lord,
intending to take a portion to himself out of the lump of fallen
mankind, whom he appointed heirs of salvation, he does not immediately
destroy the works of creation, but reserve them for their use in their
pilgrimage. To this end he invests the whole right and title of them in
the second Adam, which the first had lost; he appoints him "heir of all
things." And thereupon his adopted ones, being "fellow-heirs with
Christ," become also to have a right and title unto the things of this
creation. To clear up this right, what it is, I must give some few
observations: -
    1st. The right they have is not as the right that Christ has; that
is, sovereign and supreme, to do what he will with his own; but theirs
is subordinate, and such as that they must be accountable for the use
of those things whereunto they have a right and title. The right of
Christ is the right of the Lord of the house; the right of the saints
is the right of servants.
    2dly. That the whole number of the children of God have a right
unto the whole earth, which is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof, in
these two regards: -
    (1st.) He who is the sovereign Lord of it does preserve it merely
for their use, and upon their account; all others whatever being maalae
fidei possessores, invading a portion of the Lord's territories,
without grant or leave from him.
    (2dly.) In that Christ has promised to give them the kingdom and
dominion of it, in such a way and manner as in his providence he shall
dispose; that is, that the government of the earth shall be exercised
to their advantage.
    3dly. This right is a spiritual right, which does not give a civil
interest, but only sanctifies the right and interest bestowed. God has
providentially disposed of the civil bounds of the inheritance of men,
Acts 17: 26, suffering the men of the world to enjoy a portion here,
and that oftentimes very full and plenteous; and that for his
children's sake, that those beasts of the forest, which are made to be
destroyed, may not break loose upon the whole possession. Hence, -
    4thly. No one particular adopted person has any right, by virtue
thereof, to any portion of earthly things whereunto he has not right
and title upon a civil interest, given him by the providence of God.
But, -
    5thly. This they have by their adoption; that, -
    (1st.) Look, what portion soever God is pleased to give them, they
have a right unto it, as it is reinvested in Christ, and not as it lies
wholly under the curse and vanity that is come upon the creation by
sin; and therefore can never be called unto an account for usurping
that which they have no right unto, as shall all the sons of men who
violently grasp those things which God has set at liberty from under
their dominion because of sin.
    (2dly.) By this their right, they are led unto a sanctified use of
what thereby they do enjoy; inasmuch as the things themselves are to
them pledges of the Father's love, washed in the blood of Christ, and
endearments upon their spirits to live to his praise who gives them all
things richly to enjoy.
    And this is a second thing we have by our adoption; and hence I
dare say of unbelievers, they have no true right unto any thing, of
what kind soever, that they do possess.
    They have no true, unquestionable right, I say, even unto the
temporal things they do possess; it is true they have a civil right in
respect of others, but they have not a sanctified right in respect of
their own souls. They have a right and title that will hold plea in the
courts of men, but not a right that will hold in the court of God, and
in their own conscience. It will one day be sad with them, when they
shall come to give an account of their enjoyments. They shall not only
be reckoned withal for the abuse of that they have possessed, that they
have not used and laid it out for the glory of him whose it is; but
also, that they have even laid their hands upon the creatures of God,
and kept them from them for whose sakes alone they are preserved from
destruction. When the God of glory shall come home to any of them,
either in their consciences here, or in the judgement that is for to
come, and speak with the terror of a revengeful judge, "I have suffered
you to enjoy corn, wine, and oil, - a great portion of my creatures;
you have rolled yourselves in wealth and prosperity, when the right
heirs of these things lived poor, and low, and mean, at the next doors;
- give in now an answer what and how you have used these things. What
have you laid out for the service and advancement of the gospel? What
have you given unto them for whom nothing was provided? what
contribution have you made for the poor saints? Have you had a ready
hand, and willing mind, to lay down all for my sake?" when they shall
be compelled to answer, as the truth is, "Lord, we had, indeed, a large
portion in the world; but we took it to be our own, and thought we
might have done what we would with our own. We have ate the fat, and
drank the sweet, and left the rest of our substance for our babes: we
have spent somewhat upon our lusts, somewhat upon our friends; but the
truth is, we cannot say that we made friends of this unrighteous
mammon, - that we used it to the advancement of the gospel, or for
ministering unto thy poor saints: and now, behold, we must die," etc.:
- so also, when the Lord shall proceed farther, and question not only
the use of these things, but also their title to them, and tell them,
"The earth is mine, and the fulness thereof. I did, indeed, make an
original grant of these things to man; but that is lost by sin: I have
restored it only for my saints. Why have you laid, then, your fingers
of prey upon that which was not yours? why have you compelled my
creatures to serve you and your lusts, which I had set loose from under
your dominion? Give me my flax, any wine, and wool; I will set you
naked as in the day of your birth, and revenge upon you your rapine,
and unjust possession of that which was not yours:" - I say, at such a
time, what will men do?
    (3 ) Boldness with God by Christ is another privilege of our
adoption. But hereof I have spoken at large before, in treating of the
excellency of Christ in respect of our approach to God by him; so that
I shall not reassume the consideration of it.
    (4.) Affliction, also, as proceeding from love, as leading to
spiritual advantages, as conforming unto Christ, as sweetened with his
presence, is the privilege of children, Heb. 12: 3-6; but on these
particulars I must not insist.
    This, I say, is the head and source of all the privileges which
Christ has purchased for us, wherein also we have fellowship with him:
fellowship in name; we are (as he is) sons of God: fellowship in title
and right; we are heirs, co-heirs with Christ: fellowship in likeness
and conformity; we are predestinated to be like the firstborn of the
family: fellowship in honour; he is not ashamed to call us brethren:
fellowship in sufferings; he learned obedience by what he suffered, and
every son is to be scourged that is received: fellowship in his
kingdom; we shall reign with him. Of all which I must speak peculiarly
in another place, and so shall not here draw out the discourse
concerning them any farther.





Part 3. Of Communion with the Holy Ghost.




Chapter 1. The foundation of our communion with the Holy ghost (John
     16: 1-7) opened at large - "Parakletos", a Comforter; who he is -
     The Holy Ghost; his own will in his coming to us; sent also by
     Christ - The Spirit sent as a sanctifier and as a comforter - The
     adjuncts of his mission considered - The foundation of his
     mission, John 15: 26 - His procession from the Father twofold; as
     to personality, or to office - Things considerable in his
     procession as to office the manner of his collation - He is given
     freely; sent authoritatively - The sin against the Holy ghost,
     whence unpardonable - How we ask the Spirit of the Father - To
     grieve the Spirit, what - Poured out - How the Holy Ghost is
     received; by faith - Faith's acting in receiving the Holy Ghost -
     His abode with us, how declared - How we may lose our comfort
     whilst the Comforter abides with us.
    
    The foundation of all our communion with the Holy Ghost consisting
in his mission, or sending to be our comforter, by Jesus Christ, the
whole matter of that economy or dispensation is firstly to be proposed
and considered, that so we may have a right understanding of the truth
inquired after. Now, the main promise hereof, and the chief
considerations of it, with the good received and evil prevented
thereby, being given and declared in the beginning of the 16th chapter
of John, I shall take a view of the state of it as there proposed.
    Our blessed Saviour being to leave the world, having acquainted
his disciples, among other things, what entertainment in general they
were like to find in it and meet withal, gives the reason why he now
gave them the doleful tidings of it, considering how sad and dispirited
they were upon the mention of his departure from them. Verse 1, "These
things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended." - "I
have," saith he, "given you an acquaintance with these things (that is,
the things which will come upon you, which you are to suffer)
beforehand, lest you who, poor souls! have entertained expectations of
another state of affairs, should be surprised, so as to be offended at
me and my doctrine, and fall away from me. You are now forewarned, and
know what you have to look for. Yea," saith he, verse 2, "having
acquainted you in general that you shall be persecuted, I tell you
plainly that there shall be a combination of all men against you, and
all sorts of men will put forth their power for your ruin." - "They
shall cast you out of the synagogues; yea, the time comes that
whosoever killeth you will think that he does God service." - "The
ecclesiastical power shall excommunicate you, - they shall put you out
of their synagogues: and that you may not expect relief from the power
of the magistrate against their perversity, they will kill you: and
that you may know that they will do it to the purpose, without check or
control, they will think that in killing you they do God good service;
which will cause them to act rigorously, and to the utmost."
    "But this is a shaking trial," might they reply: "is our condition
such, that men, in killing us, will think to approve their consciences
to God?" "Yea, they will," saith our Saviour; "but yet, that you be not
mistaken, nor trouble your consciences about their confidences, know
that their blind and desperate ignorance is the cause of their fury and
persuasion," verse 3, "These things will they do unto you, because they
have not known the Father, nor me."
    This, then, was to be the state with the disciples. But why did
our Saviour tell it them at this season, to add fear and perplexities
to their grief and sorrow? what advantage should they obtain thereby?
Saith their blessed Master, verse 4, "There are weighty reasons why I
should tell you these things; chiefly, that as you may be provided for
them, so, when they do befall you, you may be supported with the
consideration of my Deity and omniscience, who told you all these
things before they came to pass," verse 4, "But these things have I
told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told
you of them." "But if they be so necessary, whence is it that thou hast
not acquainted us with it all this while? why not in the beginning, -
at our first calling?" "Even," saith our Saviour, "because there was no
need of any such thing; for whilst I was with you, you had protection
and direction at hand." - "'And these things I said not at the
beginning, because I was present with you:' but now the state of things
is altered; I must leave you," verse 4. "And for your parts, so are you
astonished with sorrow, that you do not ask me 'whither I go;' the
consideration whereof would certainly relieve you, seeing I go to take
possession of my glory, and to carry on the work of Your salvation: but
your hearts are filled with sorrow and fears, and you do not so much as
inquire after relief," verses 5, 6. Whereupon he adjoins that wonderful
assertion, verse 7, "Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient
for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not
come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you."
    This verse, then, being the peculiar foundation of what shall
afterward be declared, must particularly be considered, as to the words
of it and their interpretation; and that both with respect to the
preface of them and the asseveration in them, with the reason annexed
thereunto.
    1. The preface to them: -
    (1.) The first word, "alla", is an adversative, not excepting to
any thing of what himself had spoken before, but to their apprehension:
"I know you have sad thoughts of these things; but yet, nevertheless."
    (2.) "Ego ten aleteian lego humin", "I tell you the truth." The
words are exceedingly emphatical, and denote some great thing to be
ushered in by them. First, "Ego", - "I tell it you, this that shall now
be spoken; I who love you, who take care of you, who am now about to
lay down my life for you; they are my dying words, that you may believe
me; I who am truth itself, I tell you." And, -
    "Ego ten aleteian lego", - "I tell you the truth." "You have in
your sad, misgiving hearts many misapprehensions of things. You think
if I would abide with you, all these evils might be prevented; but,
alas! you know not what is good for you, nor what is expedient. 'I tell
you the truth;' this is truth itself; and quiet your hearts in it."
There is need of a great deal of evidence of truth, to comfort their
souls that are dejected and disconsolate under an apprehension of the
absence of Christ from them, be the apprehension true or false.
    And this is the first part of the words of our Saviour, the
preface to what he was to deliver to them, by way of a weighty,
convincing asseveration, to disentangle thereby the thoughts of his
disciples from prejudice, and to prepare them for the receiving of that
great truth which he was to deliver.
    2. The assertion itself follows: "Sumferei humin, hina ego
apelto", - It is expedient for you that I go away."
    There are two things in the words: - Christ's departure; and the
usefulness of it to his disciples: -
    For his departure, it is known what is intended by it; - the
withdrawing his bodily presence from the earth after his resurrection,
the "heaven being to receive him, until the times of the restitution of
all things," Acts 3: 21; for in respect of his Deity, and the exercise
of love and care towards them, he promised to be with them to the end
of the world, Matt. 28: 20. Of this saith he, "Sumferei humin", - "It
conduceth to your good; it is profitable for you; it is for your
advantage; it will answer the end that you aim at." That is the sense
of the word which we have translated "expedient;" - "It is for your
profit and advantage." This, then, is that which our Saviour asserts,
and that with the earnestness before mentioned, desiring to convince
his sorrowful followers of the truth of it, - namely, that his
departure, which they so much feared and were troubled to think of,
would turn to their profit and advantage.
    3. Now, although it might be expected that they should acquiesce
in this asseveration of truth itself, yet because they were generally
concerned in the ground of the truth of it, he acquaints them with that
also; and, that we may confess it to be a great matter, that gives
certainty and evidence to that proposition, he expresses it negatively
and positively: "If I go not away, he will not come; but if I depart, I
will send him." Concerning the going away of Christ I have spoken
before; of the Comforter, his coming and sending, I shall now treat, as
being the thing aimed at.
    "Ho parakletos": the word being of sundry significations, many
translations have thought fit not to restrain it, but do retain the
original word "paracletus;" so the Syrian also: and, as some think, it
was a word before in use among the Jews (whence the Chaldee paraphrase
makes use of it, Job 16: 20); and amongst them it signifies one that so
taught others as to delight them also in his teaching, - that is, to be
their comforter. In Scripture it has two eminent significations, - an
"advocate" and a "comforter;" in the first sense our Saviour is called
"parakletos", 1 John 2: 1. Whether it be better rendered here an
advocate or a comforter may be doubted.
    Look into the foregoing occasion of the words, which is the
disciples' sorrow and trouble, and it seems to require the Comforter:
"Sorrow has filled your hearts; but I will send you the Comforter;" -
look into the next words following, which contain his peculiar work for
which he is now promised to be sent, and they require he should be an
Advocate, to plead the cause of Christ against the world, verse 8. I
shall choose rather to interpret the promise by the occasion of it,
which was the sorrow of his disciples, and to retain the name of the
Comforter.
    Who this Comforter is, our blessed Saviour had before declared,
chap. 15: 26. He is "Pneuma tes aleteias", "the Spirit of truth;" that
is, the Holy Ghost, who revealeth all truth to the sons of men. Now, of
this Comforter two things are affirmed: - (1.) That he shall come. (2.)
That Christ shall send him.
    (1.) That he shall come. The affirmative of his coming on the
performance of that condition of it, of Christ going away, is included
in the negation of his coming without its accomplishment: "If I go not
away, he will not come;" - "If I do go ("eleusetai"), he will come." So
that there is not only the mission of Christ, but the will of the
Spirit, in his coming: "He will come," this own will is in his work.
    (2.) "Pempso auton", - "I will send him." The mystery of his
sending the Spirit, our Saviour instructs his disciples in by degrees.
Chap. 14: 16, he saith, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you
another Comforter;" in the progress of his discourse he gets one step
more upon their faith, verse 26, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy
Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name;" but, chap. 15: 26, he
saith, "I will send him from the Father;" and here, absolutely, "I will
send him." The business of sending the Holy Ghost by Christ - which
argues his personal procession also from him, the Son was a deep
mystery, which at once they could not bear; and therefore he thus
instructs them in it by degrees.
    This is the sum: - the presence of the Holy Ghost with believers
as a comforter, sent by Christ for those ends and purposes for which he
is promised, is better and more profitable for believers than any
corporeal presence of Christ can be, now he has fulfilled the one
sacrifice for sin which he was to offer.
    Now, the Holy Spirit is promised under a twofold consideration: -
[1.] As a Spirit of sanctification to the elect, to convert them and
make them believers. [2.] As a Spirit of consolation to believers, to
give them the privileges of the death and purchase of Christ: it is in
the latter sense only wherein he is here spoken of. Now, as to his
presence with us in this regard, and the end and purposes for which he
is sent, for what is aimed at, observe, - 1st. The rise and fountain of
it; 2dly. The manner of his being given; 3dly. Our manner of receiving
him; 4thly. His abiding with us; 5thly. His acting in us; 6thly. What
are the effects of his working in us: and then how we hold communion
with him will from all these appear.
    What the Scripture speaketh to these particulars, shall briefly be
considered: -
    1st. For the fountain of his coming, it is mentioned, John 15: 26,
"Para tou Patros ekporeuetai", "He proceedeth from the Father;" this is
the fountain of this dispensation, he proceedeth from the Father. Now
there is a twofold "ekporeusis", or "procession" of the Spirit: -
    (1st.) "Fusike", or "hupostatike", in respect of substance and
personality.
    (2dly.) "Oikonomike", or dispensatory, in respect of the work of
grace.
    Of the first - in which respect he is the Spirit of the Father and
the Son, proceeding from both eternally, so receiving his substance and
personality - I speak not: it is a business of another nature than that
I have now in hand. Therein, indeed, lies the first and most remote
foundation of all our distinct communion with him and our worship of
him; but because abiding in the naked consideration hereof, we can make
no other progress than the bare acquiescence of faith in the mystery
revealed, with the performance of that which is due to the person
solely on the account of his participation of the essence, I shall not
at present dwell upon it.
    His "ekporeusis" or proceeding, mentioned in the place insisted
on, is his economical or dispensatory proceeding, for the carrying on
of the work of grace. It is spoken of him in reference to his being
sent by Christ after his ascension: "I will send him which proceedeth,"
- namely, "then when I send him." As God is said to "come out of his
place," Isa. 26: 21, not in regard of any mutation in him, but of the
new work which he would effect; so it follows, the Lord comes out of
his place "to punish the inhabitants of the earth." And it is in
reference to a peculiar work that he is said to proceed, - namely, to
testify of Christ: which cannot be assigned to him in respect of his
eternal procession, but of his actual dispensation; as it is said of
Christ, "He came forth from God." The single mention of the Father in
this place, and not of the Son, belongs to the gradation before
mentioned, whereby our Saviour discovers this mystery to his disciples.
He speaks as much concerning himself, John 16: 7. And this relation ad
extra (as they call it) of the Spirit unto the Father and the Son, in
respect of operation, proves his relation ad intra, in respect of
personal procession; whereof I spake before.
    Three things are considerable in the foundation of this
dispensation, in reference to our communion with the Holy Ghost: -
    [1st.] That the will of the Spirit is in the work: "Ekporeuetai",
- "He comes forth himself". Frequent mention is made (as we shall see
afterward) of his being sent, his being given, and poured out; [but]
that it might not be thus apprehended, either that this Spirit were
altogether an inferior, created spirit, a mere servant, as some have
blasphemed, nor yet merely and principally, as to his personality, the
virtue of God, as some have fancied, he has "idiomata hupostatika",
personal properties, applied to him in this work, arguing his
personality and liberty. "Ekporeuetai", - "He, of himself and of his
own accord, proceedeth."
    [2dly.] The condescension of the Holy Ghost in this order of
working, this dispensation, to proceed from the Father and the Son, as
to this work; to take upon him this work of a Comforter, as the Son did
the work of a Redeemer: of which afterward.
    [3dly.] The fountain of the whole is discovered to be the Father,
that we may know his works in the pursuit of electing love, which
everywhere is ascribed to the Father. This is the order here intimated:
- First, there is the "protesis" of the Father, or the purpose of his
love, the fountain of all; then the "erotesis", the asking of the Son,
John 14: 16, which takes in his merit and purchase; whereunto follows
"ekporeusis", or willing proceeding of the Holy Ghost. And this gives
testimony, also, to the foundation of this whole discourse, - namely,
our peculiar communion with the Father in love, the Son in grace, and
the Holy Ghost in consolation. This is the door and entrance of that
fellowship of the Holy Ghost whereunto we are called. His gracious and
blessed will, his infinite and ineffable condescension, being eyed by
faith as the foundation of all those effects which he works in us, and
privileges whereof by him we are made partakers, our souls are
peculiarly conversant with him, and their desires, affections, and
thankfulness, terminated on him: of which more afterward. This is the
first thing considerable in our communion with the Holy Ghost.
    2dly. The manner of his collation or bestowing, or the manner of
his communication unto us from this fountain, is herein also
considerable; and it is variously expressed, to denote three things: -
    (1st.) The freeness of it: thus he is said to be GIVEN, John 14:
16; "He shall give you another comforter." I need not multiply places
to this purpose. The most frequent adjunct of the communication of the
Spirit is this, that he is given and received as of gift: "He will give
his Holy Spirit to them that ask him." That which is of gift is free.
The Spirit of grace is given of grace: and not only the Spirit of
sanctification, or the Spirit to sanctify and convert us, is a gift of
free grace, but in the sense whereof we speak, in respect of
consolation, he is of gift also; he is promised to be given unto
believers. Hence the Spirit is said to be received by the gospel, not
by the law, Gal. 3: 2; that is, of mere grace, and not of our own
procuring. And all his workings are called "charismata", - "free
donations." He is free]y bestowed, and freely works; and the different
measures wherein he is received, for those ends and purposes of
consolation which we shall consider, by believers, which are great,
various, and inexpressible, arise from hence, that we have him by
donation, or free gift. And this is the tenure whereby we hold and
enjoy him, a tenure of free donation. So is he to be eyed, so to be
asked, so to be received. And this, also, faith takes in and closes
withal, in our communion with the Comforter: - the conjunction and
accord of his will with the gift of Father and Son; the one respecting
the distinct operation of the Deity in the person of the Holy Ghost;
the other, the economy of the whole Trinity in the work of our
salvation by Jesus Christ. Here the soul rejoiceth itself in the
Comforter, - that he is willing to come to him, that he is willing to
be given him. And seeing all is will and gift, grace is magnified on
this account.
    (2dly.) The authority of it. Thence he is said to be SENT. chap.
14: 26, "The Father will send him in my name;" and, chap. 15: 26, "I
will send him unto you from the Father;" and, "Him will I send unto
you," chap. 16: 7. This mission of the Holy Ghost by the Father and the
Son, as it answers the order of the persons' subsistence in the blessed
Trinity, and his procession from them both, so the order voluntarily
engaged in by them for the accomplishment, as was said, of the work of
our salvation. There is in it, in a most special manner, the
condescension of the Holy Ghost, in his love to us, to the
authoritative delegation of Father and Son in this business; which
argues not a disparity, dissimilitude, or inequality of essence, but of
once, in this work. It is the office of the Holy Ghost to be an
advocate for us, and a comforter to us; in which respect, not
absolute]y, he is thus sent authoritatively by Father and Son. It is a
known maxim, that "inaequalitas officii non tollit aequalitatem
naturae." This subjection (if I may so call it), or inequality in
respect of office, does no ways prejudice the equality of nature which
he has with Father and Son; no more than the mission of the Son by the
Father does his. And on this authoritative mission of the Spirit does
the right apprehension of many mysteries in the gospel, and the
ordering of our hearts in communion with him, depend.
    [1st.] Hence is the sin against the Holy Ghost (what it is I do
not now dispute) unpardonable, and has that adjunct of rebellion put
upon it that no other sin has, - namely, because he comes not, he acts
not, in his own name only, though in his own also, but in the name and
authority of the Father and Son, from and by whom he is sent; and
therefore, to sin against him is to sin against all the authority of
God, all the love of the Trinity, and the utmost condescension of each
person to the work of our salvation. It is, I say, from the
authoritative mission of the Spirit that the sin against him is
peculiarly unpardonable; - it is a sin against the recapitulation of
the love of the Father, Son, and Spirit. And from this consideration,
were that our present business, might the true nature of the sin
against the Holy Ghost be investigated. Certainly it must consist in
the contempt of some operation of his, as acting in the name and
authority of the whole Trinity, and that in their ineffable
condescension to the work of grace. But this is of another
consideration.
    [2dly.] On this account we are to pray the Father and the Son to
give the Spirit to us. Luke 11: 13, "Your heavenly Father will give the
Holy Spirit to them that ask him." Now the Holy Ghost, being God, is no
less to be invocated, prayed to, and called on, than the Father and
Son; as elsewhere I have proved. How, then, do we ask the Father for
him, as we do in all our supplications, seeing that we also pray that
he himself would come to us, visit us, and abide with us? In our
prayers that are directed to himself, we consider him as essentially
God over all, blessed for evermore; we pray for him from the Father and
Son, as under this mission and delegation from them. And, indeed, God
having most plentifully revealed himself in the order of this
dispensation to us, we are (as Christians generally do) in our
communion to abound in answerable addresses; that is, not only to the
person of the Holy Ghost himself, but properly to the Father and Son
for him, which refers to this dispensation.
    [3dly.] Hence is that great weight, in particular, laid upon our
not grieving the Spirit, Eph. 4: 30, - because he comes to us in the
name, with the love, and upon the condescension, of the whole blessed
Trinity. To do that which might grieve him so sent, on such an account,
for that end and purpose which shall afterward be mentioned, is a great
aggravation of sin. He expects cheerful entertainment with us, and may
do so justly, upon his own account, and the account of the work which
he comes about; but when this also is added, that he is sent of the
Father and the Son, commissioned with their love and grace, to
communicate them to their souls, - this is that which is, or ought to
be, of unspeakable esteem with believers. And this is that second thing
expressed in the manner of his communication, - he is sent by
authority.
    (3dly.) He is said to be poured out or SHED on us, Tit. 3: 6, "Hou
ekseche-en ef' hemas plousios", that Holy Ghost which he has richly
poured out upon us, or shed on us abundantly. And this was the chief
expression of his communication under the Old Testament; the mystery of
the Father and the Son, and the matter of commission and delegation
being then not so clearly discovered. Isa. 32: 15, "Until the Spirit be
poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field be counted for a forest;" that is, till the
Gentiles be called, and the Jews rejected. And chap. 44: 3, "I will
pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring."
That eminent place of Zech. 12: 10 is always in our thoughts. Now, this
expression, as is known, is taken from the allusion of the Spirit unto
water; and that in relation to all the uses of water, both natural and
typical. A particular relation of them I cannot now insist on; perhaps
efficacy and plenty are chiefly intended.
    Now, this threefold expression, of giving, sending, and pouring
out, of the Spirit, gives us the three great properties of the covenant
of grace: - First, That it is free; he is given. Secondly, That it is
orderly, ordered in all things, and sure, from the love of the Father,
by the procurement of the Son; and thence is that variety of
expression, of the Father's sending him, and the Son's sending him from
the Father, he being the gift of the Father's love, and purchase of the
blood of the Son. Thirdly. The efficacy of it, as was last observed.
And this is the second thing considerable.
    3dly. The third, which is our receiving him, I shall speak more
briefly of. That which I first proposed of the Spirit, considered as a
Spirit of sanctification and a Spirit of consolation, is here to be
minded. Our receiving of him as a Spirit of sanctification is a mere
passive reception, as a vessel receives water. He comes as the wind on
Ezekiel's dead bones, and makes them live; he comes into dead hearts,
and quickens them, by an act of his almighty power: but now, as he is
the Spirit of consolation, it is otherwise. In this sense our Saviour
tells us that the "world cannot receive him," John 14: 17, "The world
receiveth him not, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but
ye know him, for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." That it is
the Spirit of consolation, or the Spirit for consolation, that here is
promised, is evident from the close of the verse, where he is said then
to be in them when he is promised to them. He was in them as a Spirit
of quickening and sanctification when promised to them as a Spirit of
comfort and consolation, to abide with them for that purpose. Now, the
power that is here denied to be in the world, with the reason of it,
that they cannot receive the Spirit, because they know him not, is
ascribed to believers; - they can receive him, because they know him.
So that there is an active power to be put forth in his reception for
consolation, though not in his reception for regeneration and
sanctification. And this is the power of faith. So Gal. 3: 2, they
received the Spirit by the hearing of faith; - the preaching of the
gospel, begetting faith in them, enabled them to receive the Spirit.
Hence, believing is put as the qualification of all our receiving the
Holy Ghost. John 7: 39, "This he spake of the Spirit, which they that
believe on him should receive." It is believers that thus receive the
Spirit; and they receive him by faith. Now, there are three special
acts of faith, whereby it goes forth in the receiving of the Spirit. I
shall but name them: -
    (1st.) It considers the Spirit, in the economy before described,
as promised. It is faith alone that makes profit of the benefit of the
promises, Heb. 4: 2. Now he is called the Spirit of that promise, Eph.
1: 13, - the Spirit that in the covenant is promised; and we receive
the promise of the Spirit through faith, Gal. 3: 14: so that the
receiving of the Spirit through faith, is the receiving of him as
promised. Faith eyes the promise of God and of Jesus Christ, of sending
the Spirit for all those ends that he is desired; thus it depends,
waits, mixing the promise with itself, until it receive him.
    (2dly.) By prayer. He is given as a Spirit of supplication, that
we may ask him as a Spirit of consolation, Luke 11: 13; and, indeed,
this asking of the Spirit of God, in the name of Christ, either
directly or immediate]y, or under the name of some fruit and effect; of
him, is the chiefest work of faith in this world.
    (3dly.) It cherisheth him, by attending to his motions, improving
his acting according to his mind and will; which is all I shall say to
this third thing, or our receiving of the Spirit, which is sent of
Jesus Christ. We do it by faith, looking on him as purchased by Jesus
Christ, and promised of the Father; we seek him at the hands of God,
and do receive him.
    4thly. The next considerable thing is, his abode with us. Now this
is two ways expressed in the Scripture: -
    (1st.) In general. As to the thing itself, it is said he shall
abide with us.
    (2dly.) In particular. As to the manner of its abiding, it is by
inhabitation or indwelling. Of the inhabitation of the Spirit I have
spoken fully elsewhere, nor shall I now insist on it. Only whereas the
Spirit, as has been observed, is considered as a Spirit of
sanctification, or a Spirit of consolation, he is said to dwell in us
chiefly, or perhaps solely, as he is a Spirit of sanctification: which
is evident from the work he does, as indwelling, - he quickeneth and
sanctifieth, Rom. 8: 11; and the manner of his indwelling, - as in a
temple, which he makes holy thereby, 1 Cor. 6: 19; and his permanency
in his so doing, - which, as is evident, relates to sanctification
only: but yet the general notion of it in abiding is ascribed to him as
a comforter, John 14: 16, "He shall abide with you for ever." Now, all
the difficulty of this promise lies in this, that whereas the Spirit of
sanctification dwells in us always, and it is therefore impossible that
we should lose utterly our holiness, whence is it that, if the
Comforter abide with us for ever, we may yet utterly lose our comfort?
A little to clear this in our passage: -
    [1st.] He is promised to abide with the disciples for ever, in
opposition to the abode of Christ. Christ, in the flesh, had been with
them for a little while, and now was leaving them, and going to his
Father. He had been the comforter immediately himself for a season, but
is now upon his departing; wherefore, promising them another comforter,
they might fear that he would even but visit them for a little season
also, and then their condition would be worse than ever. Nay, but saith
our Saviour, "Fear it not: this is the last dispensation; there is to
be no alteration. When I am gone, the Comforter is to do all the
remaining work: there is not another to be looked for, and I promise
you him; nor shall he depart from you, but always abide with you."
    [2dly.] The Comforter may always abide with us, though not always
comfort us; he who is the Comforter may abide, though he do not always
that work. For other ends and purposes he is always with us; as to
sanctify and make us holy. So was the case with David, Ps. 51: 11, 12,
"Take not thy Holy Spirit from me." The Holy Spirit of sanctification
was still with David; but saith he, "Restore unto me the joy of thy
salvation;" that is, the Spirit of consolation, that was lost, when the
promise was made good in the abode of the other.
    [3dly.] The Comforter may abide as a comforter, when he does not
actually comfort the soul. In truth, as to the essence of holiness, he
cannot dwell in us but withal he must make us holy; for the temple of
God is holy; - but as to his comforting, his acting therein are all of
his sovereign will; so that he may abide, and yet not actually comfort
us.
    [4thly.] The Spirit often works for it, and tenders consolation to
us, when we do not receive it; the well is nigh, and we see it not, -
we refuse to be comforted. I told you that the Spirit as a sanctifier
comes with power, to conquer an unbelieving heart; the Spirit as a
comforter comes with sweetness, to be received in a believing heart. He
speaks, and we believe not that it is his voice; he tenders the things
of consolation, and we receive them not. "My sore ran," saith David,
"and my soul refused to be comforted."
    [5thly.] I deny that ever the Holy Spirit does absolutely and
universally leave a believing soul without consolation. A man may be
darkened, clouded, refuse comfort, - actually find none, feel none; but
radically he has a foundation of consolation, which in due time will be
drawn forth: and therefore, when God promises that he will heal
sinners, and restore comfort to them, as Isa. 57: 18, it is not that
they were without any, but that they had not so much as they needed,
that that promise is made. To insist on the several ways whereby men
refuse comfort, and come short of the strong consolation which God is
willing that we should receive, is not my purpose at present. Thus,
then, the Spirit being sent and given, abideth with the souls of
believers, - leaves them not, though he variously manifest himself in
his operations: of which in the next place.






Chapter 2. Of the acting of the Holy Ghost in us, being bestowed on us
     - He worketh effectually, distributeth, giveth.

    Having thus declared from whence and how the Holy Ghost is given
unto us as a Spirit of consolation, I come, in the next place, -
    5thly. To declare what are his acting in us and towards us, being
so bestowed on us and received by us. Now, here are two general heads
to be considered: - (1st.) The manner and kind of his acting in us,
which are variously expressed; and, (2dly.) The particular products of
his acting in our souls, wherein we have communion with him. The first
is variously expressed; I shall pass through them briefly: -
    (1st.) He is said ("energein") "to work effectually," 1 Cor. 12:
11, "All these worketh" (or effecteth) "that one and the self-same
Spirit." It is spoken there, indeed, in respect of his distribution of
gifts; but the way is the same for the communication of graces and
privileges. He does it by working: which, as it evinces his
personality, especially as considered with the words following,
"Dividing to every man according to his will" (for to work according to
will is the inseparable property of a person, and is spoken expressly
of God, Eph. 1: 11); so in relation to verse 6, foregoing, it makes no
less evident his Deity. What he is here said to do as the Spirit
bestowed on us and given unto us, there is he said as God himself to
do: "There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which
worketh all in all;" which here, in other words, is, "All these worketh
that one and the self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as
he will." What we have, then, from him, we have by the way of his
energetical working. It is not by proposing this or that argument to
us, persuading us by these or those moral motives or inducements alone,
leaving us to make use of them as we can; but he works effectually
himself, what he communicates of grace or consolation to us.
    [2dly.] In the same verse, as to the manner of his operation, he
is said "diairein", - he divideth or distributeth to every one as he
will. This of distribution adds to that of operation, choice,
judgement, and freedom. He that distributes variously, does it with
choice, and judgement, and freedom of will. Such are the proceedings of
the Spirit in his dispensations: to one, he giveth one thing eminently;
to another, another; - to one, in one degree; to another, in another.
Thus are the saints, in his sovereignty, kept in a constant dependence
on him. He distributes as he will; - who should not be content with his
portion? what claim can any lay to that which he distributeth as he
will? which is farther manifested, -
    [3dly.] By his being said to give when and what he bestows. They
"spake with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance," Acts 2:
4. He gave them to them; that is, freely: whatever he bestows upon us,
is of his gift. And hence it is to be observed, that in the economy of
our salvation, the acting of no one person does prejudice the freedom
and liberty of any other: so the love of the Father in sending the Son
is free, and his sending does no ways prejudice the liberty and love of
the Son, but that he lays down his life freely also; so the
satisfaction and purchase made by the Son does no way prejudice the
freedom of the Father's grace in pardoning and accepting us thereupon;
so the Father's and Son's sending of the Spirit does not derogate from
his freedom in his workings, but he gives freely what he gives. And the
reason of this is, because the will of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
is essentially the same; so that in the acting of one there is the
counsel of all and each freely therein.
    Thus, in general, is the manner and kind of his working in us and
towards us, being bestowed upon us, described. Power, choice, freedom,
are evidently denoted in the expressions insisted on. It is not any
peculiar work of his towards us that is hereby declared, but the manner
how he does produce the effects that shall be insisted on.
    (2dly.) That which remains, in the last place, for the explanation
of the things proposed to be explained as the foundation of the
communion which we have with the Holy Ghost, is, -
    The effects that, being thus sent and thus working, he does
produce; which I shall do, not casting them into any artificial method,
but taking them up as I find them lying scattered up and down in the
Scripture, only descending from those which are more general to those
which are more particular, neither aiming nor desiring to gather all
the several, but insisting on those which do most obviously occur.
    Only as formerly, so now you must observe, that I speak of the
Spirit principally (if not only) as a comforter, and not as a
sanctifier; and therefore the great work of the Spirit towards us all
our days, in the constant and continual supplies of new light, power,
vigour, as to our receiving of grace from him, belonging to that head
of sanctification, must be omitted.
    Nor shall I insist on those things which the Comforter does in
believers effect towards others, in his testifying to them and
convincing of the world, which are promised, John 15: 26, 16: 8,
wherein he is properly their advocate; but only on those which as a
comforter he works in and towards them on whom he is bestowed.






Chapter 3. Of the things wherein we have communion with the Holy Ghost
     - He brings to remembrance the things spoken by Christ, John 14:
     26 - The manner how he does it - The Spirit glorifies Christ in
     the hearts of believers, John 16: 14, sheds abroad the love of God
     in them - The witness of the Spirit, what it is, Rom 8: l6 - The
     sealing of the Spirit, Eph. 1: 13 - The Spirit, how an earnest; on
     the part of God, on the part of the saints - Difference between
     the earnest of the Spirit and tasting of the powers of the world
     to come - Unction by the Spirit, Isa. 11: 2, 3 - The various
     teachings of the Holy Ghost - How the Spirit of adoption and of
     supplication.
    
    The things which, in the foregoing chapters, I called effects of
the Holy Ghost in us, or towards us, are the subject-matter of our
communion with him, or the things wherein we hold peculiar fellowship
with him as our comforter. These are now proposed to consideration: -
    1. The first and most general is that of John 14: 26, "He shall
teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance,
whatsoever I have said unto you." There are two parts of this promise:
- (1.) Of teaching. (2.) Of bringing to remembrance. Of his teaching I
shall speak afterward, when I come to treat of his anointing us.
    His bringing the things to remembrance that Christ spake is the
first general promise of him as a comforter: "Hupomnesei humas panta",
- "He shall make you mind all these things." Now, this also may be
considered two ways: -
    [1.] Merely in respect of the things spoken themselves. So our
Saviour here promiseth his apostles that the Holy Ghost should bring to
their minds, by an immediate efficacy, the things that he had spoken,
that by his inspiration they might be enabled to write and preach them
for the good and benefit of his church. So Peter tells us, 2 Epist. 1:
21, "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (that
is, in writing the Scripture); "hupo Pneumatos Hagiou feromenoi", -
borne up by him, carried beyond themselves, to speak his words, and
what he indited to them. The apostles forgot much of what Christ had
said to them, or might do so; and what they did retain, in a natural
way of remembrance, was not a sufficient foundation to them to write
what they so remembered for a rule of faith to the church. For the word
of prophecy is not "idias epiluseos", - from any man's proper impulse;
it comes not from any private conception, understanding, or
remembrance. Wherefore, Christ promises that the Holy Ghost shall do
this work; that they might infallibly give out what he had delivered to
them. Hence that expression in Luke 1: 3, "Purekoloutekoti anoten", is
better rendered, "Having obtained perfect knowledge of things from
above," noting the rise and spring of his so understanding things as to
be able infallibly to give them out in a rule of faith to the church,
than the beginning of the things themselves spoken of; which the word
itself will not easily allow of.
    [2.] In respect of the comfort of what he had spoken, which seems
to be a great part of the intendment of this promise. He had been
speaking to them things suited for their consolation; giving them
precious promises of the supplies they should have from him in this
life, - of the love of the Father, of the glory he was providing for
them, the sense and comfort whereof is unspeakable, and the joy arising
from them full of glory. But saith he, "I know how unable you are to
make use of these things for your own consolation; the Spirit,
therefore, shall recover them upon your minds, in their full strength
and vigour, for that end for which I speak them." And this is one cause
why it was expedient for believers that Christ's bodily absence should
be supplied by the presence of the Spirit. Whilst he was with them, how
little efficacy on their hearts had any of the heavenly promises he
gave them! When the Spirit came, how full of joy did he make all things
to them! That which was his peculiar work, which belonged to him by
virtue of his office, that he also might be glorified, was reserved for
him. And this is his work to the end of the world, - to bring the
promises of Christ to our minds and hearts, to give us the comfort of
them, the joy and sweetness of them, much beyond that which the
disciples found in them, when Christ in person spake them to them;
their gracious influence being then restrained, that, as was said, the
dispensation of the Spirit might be glorified. So are the next words to
this promise, verse 27, "Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto
you." The Comforter being sent to bring what Christ said to
remembrance, the consequent of it is peace, and freedom from trouble of
heart; - whatever peace, relief, comfort, joy, supportment, we have at
any time received from any work, promise, or thing done by Christ, it
all belongs to this dispensation of the Comforter. In vain should we
apply our natural abilities to remember, call to mind, consider, the
promises of Christ; without success would it be, - it is so daily: but
when the Comforter does undertake the work, it is done to the purpose.
How we have peculiar communion with him herein, in faith and obedience,
in the consolation received in and by the promises of him brought to
mind, shall be afterward declared. This, in general, is obtained: - our
Saviour Jesus Christ, leaving the efficacy even of those promises which
in person he gave to his apostles in their great distress, as to their
consolation, unto the Holy Ghost, we may see the immediate spring of
all the spiritual comfort we have in this world, and the fellowship
which we have with the Ho]y Ghost therein.
    Only here, as in all the particulars following, the manner of the
Spirit's working this thing is always to be borne in mind, and the
interest of his power, will, and goodness in his working. He does this,
- 1st. Powerfully, or effectually; 2dly. Voluntarily; 3dly. Freely.
    1st. Powerfully: and therefore does comfort from the words and
promises of Christ sometimes break in through all opposition into the
saddest and darkest condition imaginable; it comes and makes men sing
in a dungeon, rejoice in flames, glory in tribulation; it will into
prisons, racks, through temptations, and the greatest distresses
imaginable. Whence is this? "To Pneuma energei", - the Spirit works
effectually, his power is in it; he will work, and none shall let him.
If he will bring to our remembrance the promises of Christ for our
consolation, neither Satan nor man, sin nor world, nor death, shall
interrupt our comfort. This the saints, who have communion with the
Holy Ghost, know to their advantage. Sometimes the heavens are black
over them, and the earth trembles under them; public, personal
calamities and distresses appear so full of horror and darkness, that
they are ready to faint with the apprehensions of them; - hence is
their great relief, and the retrievement of their spirits; their
consolation or trouble depends not on any outward condition or inward
frame of their own hearts, but on the powerful and effectual workings
of the Holy Ghost, which by faith they give themselves up unto.
    2dly. Voluntarily, - distributing to every one as he will; and
therefore is this work done in so great variety, both as to the same
person and divers. For the same person, full of joy sometimes in a
great distress, full of consolation, - every promise brings sweetness
when his pressures are great and heavy; another time, in the least
trial [he] seeks for comfort, searches the promise, and it is far away.
The reason is, "Pneuma diairei katos bouletai", - the Spirit
distributes as he will. And so with divers persons: to some each
promise is full of life and comfort; others taste little all their
days, - all upon the same account. And this faith especially regards in
the whole business of consolation: - it depends on the sovereign will
of the Holy Ghost; and so is not tied unto any rules or course of
procedure. Therefore does it exercise itself in waiting upon him for
the seasonable accomplishment of the good pleasure of his will.
    3dly. Freely. Such of the variety of the dispensation of
consolation by promises depends on this freedom of the Spirit's
operation. Hence it is that comfort is given unexpectedly, when the
heart has all the reasons in the world to look for distress and sorrow;
thus sometimes it is the first means of recovering a backsliding soul,
who might justly expect to be utterly cast off. And these
considerations are to be carried on in all the other effects and fruits
of the Comforter: of which afterward. And in this first general effect
or work of the Holy Ghost towards us have we communion and fellowship
with him. The life and soul of all our comforts lie treasured up in the
promises of Christ. They are the breasts of all our consolation. Who
knows not how powerless they are in the bare letter, even when improved
to the uttermost by our considerations of them, and meditation on them?
as also how unexpectedly they sometimes break upon the soul with a
conquering, endearing life and vigour? Here faith deals peculiarly with
the Holy Ghost. It considers the promises themselves; looks up to him,
waits for him, considers his appearances in the word depended on, -
owns him in his work and efficacy. No sooner does the soul begin to
feel the life of a promise warming his heart, relieving, cherishing,
supporting, delivering from fear, entanglements, or troubles, but it
may, it ought, to know that the Holy Ghost is there; which will add to
his joy, and lead him into fellowship with him.
    2. The next general work seems to be that of John 16: 14, "The
Comforter shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall
show it unto you." The work of the Spirit is to glorify Christ: whence,
by the way, we may see how far that spirit is from being the Comforter
who sets up himself in the room of Christ; such a spirit as saith he is
all himself: "for as for him that suffered at Jerusalem, it is no
matter that we trouble ourselves about him. This spirit is now all.
This is not the Comforter. His work is to glorify Christ, - him that
sends him. And this is an evident sign of a false spirit, whatever its
pretence be, if it glorify not that Christ who was now speaking to his
apostles; and such are many that are gone abroad into the world. But
what shall this Spirit do, that Christ may be glorified "He shall,"
saith he, "take of mine," - "ek tou emou lepsetai". What these things
are is declared in the next verse: "All things that the Father has are
mine; therefore I said he shall take of mine." It is not of the essence
and essential properties of the Father and Son that our Saviour speaks;
but of the grace which is communicated to us by them. This Christ
calls, "My things," being the fruit of his purchase and mediation: on
which account he saith all his Father's things are his; that is, the
things that the Father, in his eternal love, has provided to be
dispensed in the blood of his Son, - all the fruits of election.
"These," said he, "the Comforter shall receive; that is, they shall be
committed unto him to dispose for your good and advantage, to the end
before proposed." So it follows, "anangelei", - He shall show, or
declare and make them known to you." Thus, then, is he a comforter. He
reveals to the souls of sinners the good things of the covenant of
grace, which the Father has provided, and the Son purchased. He shows
to us mercy, grace, forgiveness, righteousness, acceptation with God;
letteth us know that these are the things of Christ, which he has
procured for us; shows them to us for our comfort and establishment.
These things, I say, he effectually declares to the souls of believers;
and makes them know them for their own good, - know them as originally
the things of the Father, prepared from eternity in his love and
goodwill; as purchased for them by Christ, and laid up in store in the
covenant of grace for their use. Then is Christ magnified and glorified
in their hearts; then they know what a Saviour and Redeemer he is. A
soul does never glorify or honour Christ upon a discovery or sense of
the eternal redemption he has purchased for him, but it is in him a
peculiar effect of the Holy Ghost as our comforter. "No man can say
that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost," 1 Cor. 12: 3.
    3. He "sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts," Rom. 5: 5.
That it is the love of God to us, not our love to God, which is here
intended, the context is so clear as nothing can be added thereunto.
Now, the love of God is either of ordination or of acceptation, - the
love of his purpose to do us good, or the love of acceptation and
approbation with him. Both these are called the love of God frequently
in Scripture, as I have declared. Now, how can these be shed abroad in
our hearts? Not in themselves, but in a sense of them, - in a spiritual
apprehension of them. "Ekkechutai", is "shed abroad;" the same word
that is used concerning the Comforter being given us, Tit. 3: 6. God
sheds him abundantly, or pours him on us; so he sheds abroad, or pours
out the love of God in our hearts. Not to insist on the expression,
which is metaphorical, the business is, that the Comforter gives a
sweet and plentiful evidence and persuasion of the love of God to us,
such as the soul is taken, delighted, satiated withal. This is his
work, and he does it effectually. To give a poor sinful soul a
comfortable persuasion, affecting it throughout, in all its faculties
and affections, that God in Jesus Christ loves him, delights in him, is
well pleased with him, has thoughts of tenderness and kindness towards
him; to give, I say, a soul an overflowing sense hereof, is an
inexpressible mercy.
    This we have in a peculiar manner by the Holy Ghost; it is his
peculiar work. As all his works are works of love and kindness, so this
of communicating a sense of the love of the Father mixes itself with
all the particulars of his acting. And as we have herein peculiar
communion with himself, so by him we have communion with the Father,
even in his love, which is thus shed abroad in our hearts: so not only
do we rejoice in, and glorify the Holy Ghost, which does this work, but
in him also whose love it is. Thus is it also in respect of the Son, in
his taking of his, and showing of it unto us, as was declared. What we
have of heaven in this world lies herein; and the manner of our
fellowship with the Holy Ghost on this account falls in with what was
spoken before.
    4. Another effect we have of his, Rom. 8: 16, "The Spirit itself
beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God." You
know whose children we are by nature, - children of Satan and of the
curse, or of wrath. By the Spirit we are put into another capacity, and
are adopted to be the children of God, inasmuch as by receiving the
Spirit of our Father we become the children of our Father. Thence is he
called, verse 15, "The Spirit of adoption." Now, sometimes the soul,
because it has somewhat remaining in it of the principle that it had in
its old condition, is put to question whether it be a child of God or
no; and thereupon, as in a thing of the greatest importance, puts in
its claim, with all the evidences that it has to make good its title.
The Spirit comes and bears witness in this case. An allusion it is to
judicial proceedings in point of titles and evidences. The judge being
set, the person concerned lays his claim, produceth his evidences, and
pleads them; his adversaries endeavouring all that in them lies to
invalidate them, and disannul his plea, and to cast him in his claim.
In the midst of the trial, a person of known and approved integrity
comes into the court, and gives testimony fully and directly on the
behalf of the claimer; which stops the mouths of all his adversaries,
and fills the man that pleaded with joy and satisfaction. So is it in
this case. The soul, by the power of its own conscience, is brought
before the law of God. There a man puts in his plea, - that he is a
child of God, that he belongs to God's family; and for this end
produceth all his evidences, every thing whereby faith gives him an
interest in God. Satan, in the meantime, opposeth with all his might;
sin and law assist him; many flaws are found in his evidences; the
truth of them all is questioned; and the soul hangs in suspense as to
the issue. In the midst of the plea and contest the Comforter comes,
and, by a word of promise or otherwise, overpowers the heart with a
comfortable persuasion (and bears down all objections) that his plea is
good, and that he is a child of God. And therefore it is said of him,
"Summarturei toi Pneumati hemon". When our spirits are pleading their
right and title, he comes in and bears witness on our side; at the same
time enabling us to put forth acts of filial obedience, kind and
childlike; which is called "crying, Abba, Father," Gal. 4: 6. Remember
still the manner of the Spirit's working, before mentioned, - that he
does it effectually, voluntarily, and freely. Hence sometimes the
dispute hangs long, - the cause is pleading many years. The law seems
sometimes to prevail, sin and Satan to rejoice; and the poor soul is
filled with dread about its inheritance. Perhaps its own witness, from
its faith, sanctification, former experience, keeps up the plea with
some life and comfort; but the work is not done, the conquest is not
fully obtained, until the Spirit, who worketh freely and effectually,
when and how he will, comes in with his testimony also; clothing his
power with a word of promise, he makes all parties concerned to attend
unto him, and puts an end to the controversy.
    Herein he gives us holy communion with himself. The soul knows his
voice when he speaks, "Nec hominem sonat." There is something too great
in it to be the effect of a created power. When the Lord Jesus Christ
at one word stilled the raging of the sea and wind, all that were with
him knew there was divine power at hand, Matt. 8: 25-27. And when the
Holy Ghost by one word stills the tumults and storms that are raised in
the soul, giving it an immediate calm and security, it knows his divine
power, and rejoices in his presence.
    5. He seals us. "We are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, Eph.
1: 13; and, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit, whereby ye are sealed unto the
day of redemption," chap. 4: 30. I am not very clear in the certain
peculiar intendment of this metaphor; what I am persuaded of the mind
of God in it I shall briefly impart. In a seal two things are
considered: - (1.) The nature of it. (2.) The use of it.
    (1.) The nature of sealing consists in the imparting of the image
or character of the seal to the thing sealed. This is to seal a thing,
- to stamp the character of the seal on it. In this sense, the
effectual communication of the image of God unto us should be our
sealing. The Spirit in believers, really communicating the image of
God, in righteousness and true holiness, unto the soul, sealeth us. To
have this stamp of the Holy Chest, so as to be an evidence unto the
soul that it is accepted with God, is to be sealed by the Spirit;
taking the metaphor from the nature of sealing. And in this sense is
our Saviour said to be sealed of God, John 6: 27, even from that
impression of the power, wisdom, and majesty of God that he had upon
him in the discharge of his office.
    (2.) The end of sealing is twofold: -
    [1.] To confirm or ratify any grant or conveyance made in writing.
In such cases men set their seals to make good and confirm their
grants; and when this is done they are irrevocable. Or to confirm the
testimony that is given by any one of the truth of any thing. Such was
the manner among the Jews: - when any one had given true witness unto
any thing or matter, and it was received by the judges, they instantly
set their seals to it, to confirm it in judgement. Hence it is said,
that he who receives the testimony of Christ "sets to his seal that God
is true," John 3: 33. The promise is the great grant and conveyance of
life and salvation in Christ to the souls of believers. That we may
have full assurance of the truth and irrevocableness of the promise,
God gives us the Spirit to satisfy our hearts of it; and thence is he
said to seal us, by assuring our hearts of those promises and their
stability. But, though many expositors go this way, I do not see how
this can consist with the very meaning of the word. It is not said that
the promise is sealed, but that we are sealed; and when we seal a deed
or grant to any one, we do not say the man is sealed, but the deed or
grant.
    [2.] To appropriate, distinguish, or keep safe. This is the end of
sealing. Men set their seals on that which they appropriate and desire
to keep safe for themselves. So, evidently, in this sense are the
servants of God said to be sealed, Rev. 7: 4; that is, marked with
God's mark, as his peculiar ones, - for this sealing answers to the
setting of a mark, Ezek. 9: 4. Then are believers sealed, when they are
marked for God to be heirs of the purchased inheritance, and to be
preserved to the day of redemption. Now, if this be the sealing
intended, it denotes not an act of sense in the heart, but of security
to the person. The Father gives the elect into the hands of Christ to
be redeemed; having redeemed them, in due time they are called by the
Spirit, and marked for God, and so give up themselves to the hands of
the Father.
    If you ask, now, "Which of these senses is chiefly intended in
this expression of our being sealed by the Holy Ghost?" I answer, The
first, not excluding the other. We are sealed to the day of redemption,
when, from the stamp, image, and character of the Spirit upon our
souls, we have a fresh sense of the love of God given to us, with a
comfortable persuasion of our acceptation with him. But of this whole
matter I have treated at larger elsewhere.
    Thus, then, the Holy Ghost communicates unto us his own likeness;
which is also the image of the Father and the Son. "We are changed into
this image by the Lord the Spirit," 2 Cor. 3: 18; and herein he brings
us into fellowship with himself. Our likeness to him gives us boldness
with him. His work we look for, his fruits we pray for; and when any
effect of grace, any discovery of the image of Christ implanted in us,
gives us a persuasion of our being separated and set apart for God, we
have a communion with him therein.
    6. He is an earnest unto us. 2 Cor. 1: 22, He has "given the
earnest of the Spirit in our hearts;" chap. 5: 5, "Who also has given
unto us the earnest of the Spirit;" as also, Eph. 1: 13, 14, "Ye are
sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our
inheritance." In the two former places we are said to have the earnest
of the Spirit; in the latter, the Spirit is said to be our earnest: "of
the Spirit," then, in the first place, is, as we say, "genitivus
materiae;" denoting not the cause, but the thing itself; - not the
author of the earnest, but the matter of it. The Spirit is our earnest;
as in the last place is expressed. The consideration of what is meant
by the "Spirit," here, and what is meant by an "earnest," will give
some insight into this privilege, which we receive by the Comforter: -
    (1.) What grace, what gift of the Spirit, is intended by this
earnest, some have made inquiry; I suppose to no purpose. It is the
Spirit himself, personally considered, that is said to be this earnest,
2 Cor. 1: 22. It is God has given the earnest of the Spirit in our
hearts: an expression directly answering that of Gal. 4: 6, "God has
sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts;" that is, the person
of the Spirit; for nothing else can be called the Spirit of his Son:
and in Eph. 1: 14, he has given the Spirit ("hos" for "ho"); which is
that earnest. The Spirit of promise himself is this earnest. In giving
us this Spirit he gives us this earnest.
    (2.) An earnest it is, - "arraton". Neither the Greek nor the
Latin has any word to express directly what is here intended. The
Latins have made words for it, from that expressed here in the Greek,
"arrha" and "arrabo." The Greek word is but the Hebrew "herabon"
["'eravon"]; which, as some conceive, came amongst them by the Syrian
merchants, being a word of trade. It is by some rendered, in Latin,
"pignus," a "pledge;" but this cannot be here intended. A pledge is
that property which any one gives or leaves in the custody of another,
to assure him that he will give him, or pay him, some other thing; in
the nature of that which we call a "pawn." Now, the thing that is here
intended, is a part of that which is to come, and but a part of it,
according to the trade use of the word, whence the metaphor is taken;
it is excellently rendered in our language, an "earnest." An earnest is
part of the price of any thing, or part of any grant, given beforehand
to assure the person to whom it is given that at the appointed season
he shall receive the whole that is promised him.
    That a thing be an earnest, it is required, -
    [1.] That it be part of the whole, of the same kind and nature
with it; as we do give so much money in earnest to pay so much more.
    [2.] That it be a confirmation of a promise and appointment; first
the whole is promised, then the earnest is given for the good and true
performance of that promise.
    Thus the Spirit is this earnest. God gives us the promise of
eternal life. To confirm this to us, he giveth us his Spirit; which is,
as the first part of the promise, to secure us of the whole. Hence he
is said to be the earnest of the inheritance that is promised and
purchased.
    And it may be considered how it may be said to be an earnest on
the part of God, who gives him; and on the part of believers, who
receive him: -
    1st. He is an earnest on the part of God, in that God gives him as
a choice part of the inheritance itself, and of the same kind with the
whole, as an earnest ought to be. The full inheritance promised, is the
fulness of the Spirit in the enjoyment of God. When that Spirit which
is given us in this world shall have perfectly taken away all sin and
sorrow, and shall have made us able to enjoy the glory of God in his
presence, that is the full inheritance promised. So that the Spirit
given us for the fitting of us for enjoyment of God in some measure,
whilst we are here, is the earnest of the whole.
    God does it to this purpose, to assure us and secure us of the
inheritance? Having given us so many securities without us, - his word,
promises, covenant, oath, the revelation and discovery of his
faithfulness and immutability in them all, - he is pleased also
graciously to give us one within us, Isa. 59: 21, that we may have all
the security we are capable of. What can more be done? He has given us
of the Holy Spirit; - in him the first-fruits of glory, the utmost
pledge of his love, the earnest of all.
    2dly. On the part of believers he is an earnest, in that he gives
them an acquaintance with, -
    (1st.) The love of God. Their acceptation with him makes known to
them their favour in his sight, - that he is their Father, and will
deal with them as with children; and consequently, that the inheritance
shall be theirs. He sends his Spirit into our hearts, "crying, Abba,
Father," Gal. 4: 6. And what is the inference of believers from hence?
Verse 7, "Then we are not servants, but sons; and if sons, then heirs
of God." The same apostle, again, Rom. 8: 17, "If children, then heirs;
heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ." On that persuasion of the
Spirit that we are children, the inference is, "Then heirs, heirs of
God, and joint heirs with Christ." We have, then, a right to an
inheritance, and an eviction of it. This is the use, then, we have of
it, - even the Spirit persuading us of our sonship and acceptation with
God our Father. And what is this inheritance of glory? "If we suffer
with him, we shall be glorified together." And that the Spirit is given
for this end is attested, 1 John 3: 24, "Hereby we know that he abideth
in us, by the Spirit which he has given us." The apostle is speaking of
our union with God, which he expresseth in the words foregoing: "He
that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him;" of that
union elsewhere. Now, this we know from hence, even by the Spirit which
he has given us, - the Spirit acquaints us with it. Not that we have
such an acquaintance, but that the argument is good and conclusive in
itself, "We have of the Spirit; therefore he dwells in us, and we in
him:" because, indeed, his dwelling in us is by that Spirit, and our
interest in him is from thence. A sense of this he giveth as he
pleaseth.
    (2dly.) The Spirit being given as an earnest, acquaints believers
with their inheritance, 1 Cor. 2: 9, 10. As an earnest, being part of
the whole, gives knowledge of it, so does the Spirit; as in sundry
particulars might be demonstrated.
    So is he in all respects completely an earnest, - given of God,
received by us, as the beginning of our inheritance, and the assurance
of it. So much as we have of the Spirit, so much we have of heaven in
perfect enjoyment, and so much evidence of its future fulness. Under
this apprehension of him in the dispensation of grace do believers
receive him and rejoice in him. Every gracious, self-evidencing act of
his in their hearts they rejoice in, as a drop from heaven, and long
for the ocean of it. Not to drive every effect of grace to this issue,
is to neglect the work of the Holy Ghost in us and towards us.
    There remains only that a difference be, in a few words, assigned
between believers receiving the Spirit as an earnest of the whole
inheritance, and hypocrites "tasting of the powers of the world to
come," Heb. 6: 5. A taste of the powers of the world to come seems to
be the same with the earnest of the inheritance. But, -
    [1st.] That by "the powers of the world to come" in that place is
intended the joys of heaven, there is, indeed, no ground to imagine.
They are nowhere so called; nor does it suitably express the glory that
shall be revealed, which we shall be made partakers of. It is,
doubtless, the powerful ministry of the ordinances and dispensations of
the times of the gospel (there called to the Hebrews according to their
own idiom), the powers or great effectual things of the world to come,
that is intended. But, -
    [2dly.] Suppose that by "the powers of the world to come" the
glory of heaven is intended, there is a wide difference between taking
a vanishing taste of it ourselves, and receiving an abiding earnest
from God. To take a taste of the things of heaven, and to have them
assured of God as from his love, differ greatly. A hypocrite may have
his thoughts raised to a great deal of joy and contentment in the
consideration of the good things of the kingdom of God for a season,
considering the things in themselves; but the Spirit, as he is an
earnest, gives us a pledge of them as provided for us in the love of
God and purchase of his Son Jesus Christ. This by the way.
    7. The Spirit anoints believers. We are "anointed" by the Spirit,
2 Cor. 1: 21. We have "an unction from the Holy One, and we know all
things," 1 John 2: 20, 27. I cannot intend to run this expression up
into its rise and original; also, I have done it elsewhere. The use of
unctions in the Judaical church, the meaning and intendment of the
types attended therewith, the offices that men were consecrated unto
thereby, are at the bottom of this expression; nearer the unction of
Jesus Christ (from whence he is called Messiah, and the Christ, the
whole performance of his office of mediatorship being called also his
anointing, Dan. 9: 24, as to his furnishment for it), concurs hereunto.
Christ is said to be "anointed with the oil of gladness above his
fellows," Heb. 1: 9; which is the same with that of John 3: 34, "God
giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him." We, who have the Spirit by
measure, are anointed with the "oil of gladness;" Christ has the
fulness of the Spirit, whence our measure is communicated: so he is
anointed above us, "that in all things he may have the pre-eminence."
How Christ was anointed with the Spirit to his threefold office of
king, priest, and prophet; how, by virtue of an unction, with the same
Spirit dwelling in him and us, we become to be interested in these
offices of his, and are made also kings, priests, and prophets to God,
is known, and would be matter of a long discourse to handle; and my
design is only to communicate the things treated of:
    I shall only, therefore, fix on one place, where the
communications of the Spirit in this unction of Christ are enumerated,
- of which, in our measure, from him and with him, by this unction, we
are made partakers, - and that is, Isa. 11: 2, 3, "The Spirit of the
LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the
Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge, and of the fear
of the LORD," etc. Many of the endowments of Christ, from the Spirit
wherewith he was abundantly anointed, are here recounted. Principally
those of wisdom, counsel, and understanding, are insisted on; on the
account whereof all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are said to
be in him, Col. 2: 3. And though this be but some part of the furniture
of Jesus Christ for the discharge of his office, yet it is such, as,
where our anointing to the same purpose is mentioned, it is said
peculiarly on effecting of such qualifications as these: so 1 John 2:
20, 27, the work of the anointing is to teach us; the Spirit therein is
a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, of counsel, knowledge, and quick
understanding in the fear of the Lord. So was the great promise of the
Comforter, that he should "teach us," John 14: 26, - that he should
"guide us into all truth," chap. 16: 13. This of teaching us the mind
and will of God, in the manner wherein we are taught it by the Spirit,
our comforter, is an eminent part of our unction by him; which only I
shall instance in. Give me leave to say, there is a threefold teaching
by the Spirit: -
    (1.) A teaching by the Spirit of conviction and illumination. So
the Spirit teacheth the world (that is, many in it) by the preaching of
the word; as he is promised to do, John 16: 8.
    (2.) A teaching by the Spirit of sanctification; opening blind
eyes, giving a new understanding, shining into our hearts, to give us a
knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; enabling us
to receive spiritual things in a spiritual light, 1 Cor. 2: 13; giving
a saving knowledge of the mystery of the gospel: and this in several
degrees is common to believers.
    (3.) A teaching by the Spirit of consolation; - making sweet,
useful, and joyful to the soul, the discoveries that are made of the
mind and will of God in the light of the Spirit of sanctification. Here
the oil of the Spirit is called the "oil of gladness," that which
brings joy and gladness with it; and the name of Christ thereby
discovered is a sweet "ointment poured forth," that causeth souls to
run after him with joy and delight, Cant. 1: 3. We see it by daily
experience, that very many have little taste and sweetness and relish
in their souls of those truths which yet they savingly know and
believe; but when we are taught by this unction, oh, how sweet is every
thing we know of God! As we may see in the place of John where mention
is made of the teaching of this unction, it respects peculiarly the
Spirit teaching of us the love of God in Christ, the shining of his
countenance; which, as David speaks, puts gladness into our hearts, Ps.
4: 6, 7.
    We have this, then, by the Spirit: - he teacheth us of the love of
God in Christ; he makes every gospel truth as wine well refined to our
souls, and the good things of it to be a feast of fat things; - gives
us joy and gladness of heart with all that we know of God; which is the
great preservative of the soul to keep it close to truth. The apostle
speaks of our teaching by this unction, as the means whereby we are
preserved from seduction. Indeed, to know any truth in the power,
sweetness, joy, and gladness of it, is that great security of the
soul's constancy in the preservation and retaining of it. They will
readily change truth for error, who find no more sweetness in the one
than in the other. I must crave the reader's pardon for my brief
passing over these great things of the gospel; my present design is
rather to enumerate than to unfold them. This one work of the Holy
Ghost, might it be pursued, would require a fuller discourse than I can
allot unto the whole matter in hand. All the privileges we enjoy, all
the dignity and honour we are invested withal, our whole dedication
unto God, our nobility and royalty, our interest in all church
advantages and approaches to God in worship, our separation from the
world, the name whereby we are called, the liberty we enjoy, - all flow
from this head, all are branches of this effect of the Holy Ghost. I
have mentioned only our teaching by this unction, - a teaching that
brings joy and gladness with it, by giving the heart a sense of the
truth wherein we are instructed. When we find any of the good truths of
the gospel come home to our souls with life, vigour, and power, giving
us gladness of heart, transforming us into the image and likeness of
it, - the Holy Ghost is then at his work, is pouring out of his oil.
    8. We have adoption also by the Spirit; hence he is called the
"Spirit of adoption;" that is, either he who is given to adopted ones,
to secure them of it, to beget in their hearts a sense and persuasion
of the Father's adopting love; or else to give them the privilege
itself, as is intimated, John 1: 12. Neither is that opposite hereunto
which we have, Gal. 4: 6; for God may send the Spirit of supplication
into our hearts, because we are sons, and yet adopted by his Spirit.
But of this elsewhere.
    9. He is also called the "Spirit of supplication;" under which
notion he is promised, Zech. 12: 10; and how he effects that in us is
declared, Rom. 8: 26, 27, Gal. 4: 6; and we are thence said to "pray in
the Holy Ghost." Our prayers may be considered two ways: -
    (1.) First, as a spiritual duty required of us by God; and so they
are wrought in us by the Spirit of sanctification, which helps us to
perform all our duties, by exalting all the faculties of the soul for
the spiritual discharge of their respective offices in them.
    (2.) As a means of retaining communion with God, whereby we
sweetly ease our hearts in the bosom of the Father, and receive in
refreshing tastes of his love. The soul is never more raised with the
love of God than when by the Spirit taken into intimate communion with
him in the discharge of this duty; and therein it belongs to the Spirit
of consolation, to the Spirit promised as a comforter. And this is the
next thing to be considered in our communion with the Holy Ghost, -
namely, what are the peculiar effects which he worketh in us, and
towards us, being so bestowed on us as was declared, and working in the
way and manner insisted on. Now, these are, - his bringing the promises
of Christ to remembrance, glorifying him in our hearts, shedding abroad
the love of God in us, witnessing with us as to our spiritual estate
and condition, sealing us to the day of redemption (being the earnest
of our inheritance), anointing us with privileges as to their
consolation, confirming our adoption, and being present with us in our
supplications. Here is the wisdom of faith, - to find out and meet with
the Comforter in all these things; not to lose their sweetness, by
lying in the dark [as] to their author, nor coming short of the returns
which are required of us.





Chapter 4. The general consequences in the hearts of believers of the
     effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned - Consolation; its
     adjuncts, peace, joy - How it is wrought immediately, mediately.
    
    Having proceeded thus far in discovering the way of our communion
with the Holy Ghost, and insisted on the most noble and known effects
that he produceth, it remains that it be declared what general
consequences of these effects there are brought forth in the hearts of
believers; and so we shall at least have made mention of the main heads
of his dispensation and work in the economy of grace. Now, these (as
with the former) I shall do little more than name; it being not at all
in my design to handle the natures of them, but only to show what
respects they bear to the business in hand: -
    1. Consolation is the first of these: "The disciples walked in the
fear of the Lord, and in the consolation of the Holy Ghost," Acts 9:
31, "Tei paraklesei tou Hagiou Pneumatos", He is "ho parakletos', and
he gives "paraklesin": from his work towards us, and in us, we have
comfort and consolation. This is the first general consequent of his
dispensation and work. Whenever there is mention made of comfort and
consolation in the Scripture given to the saints (as there is most
frequently), it is the proper consequent of the work of the Holy Ghost
towards them. Comfort or consolation in general, is the setting and
composing of the soul in rest and contentedness in the midst of or from
troubles, by the consideration or presence of some good, wherein it is
interested, outweighing the evil, trouble, or perplexity that it has to
wrestle withal. Where mention is made of comfort and consolation,
properly so called, there is relation to trouble or perplexity; so the
apostle, 2 Cor. 1: 5, 6, "As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so
our consolation also aboundeth by Christ." Suffering and consolation
are opposed, the latter being a relief against the former; so are all
the promises of comfort, and all the expressions of it, in the Old and
New Testament still proposed as reliefs against trouble.
    And, as I said, consolation ariseth from the presence or
consideration of a greater good, that outbalances the evil or
perplexity wherewith we are to contend. Now, in the effects or acts of
the Holy Ghost before mentioned lie all the springs of our consolation.
There is no comfort but from them; and there is no trouble that we may
not have comfort in and against by them. That a man may have
consolation in any condition, nothing is required but the presence of a
good, rendering the evil wherewith he is pressed inconsiderable to him.
Suppose a man under the greatest calamity that can possibly befall a
child of God, or a confluence of all those evils numbered by Paul, Rom.
8: 35, etc.; let this man have the Holy Ghost performing the works
mentioned before towards him, and, in despite of all his evils, his
consolations will abound. Suppose him to have a sense of the love of
God all the while shed abroad in his heart, a clear witness within that
he is a child of God, accepted with him, that he is sealed and marked
of God for his own, that he is an heir of all the promises of God, and
the like; it is impossible that man should not triumph in all his
tribulations.
    From this rise of all our consolation are those descriptions which
we have of it in the Scripture, from its properties and adjuncts; as, -
    (1.) It is abiding. Thence it is called "Everlasting consolation,"
2 Thess. 2: 16, "God, even our Father, which has loved us, and given us
everlasting consolation;" that is, comfort that vanisheth not; and that
because it riseth from everlasting things. There may be some perishing
comfort given for a little season by perishing things; but abiding
consolation, which we have by the Holy Ghost, is from things
everlasting: - everlasting love, eternal redemption, an everlasting
inheritance.
    (2.) Strong. Heb. 6: 18, "That the heirs of the promise should
receive strong consolation." As strong opposition lies sometimes
against us, and trouble, whose bands are strong, so is our consolation
strong; it abounds, and is unconquerable, - "ischura paraklesis". It is
such as will make its way through all opposition; it confirms,
corroborates, and strengthens the heart under any evil; it fortifies
the soul, and makes it able cheerfully to undergo any thing that it is
called unto: and that because it is from him who is strong.
    (3.) It is precious. Hence the apostle makes it the great motive
unto obedience, which he exhorts the Philippians unto, chap. 2: 1, "If
there be any consolation in Christ;" - "If you set any esteem and
valuation upon this precious mercy of consolation in Christ, by those
comforts, let it be so with you."
    And this is the first general consequent in the hearts of
believers of those great effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned.
Now, this is so large and comprehensive, comprising so many of our
concernments in our walking with God, that the Holy Ghost receives his
denomination, as to the whole work he has to perform for us, from
hence, - he is the Comforter; as Jesus Christ, from the work of
redemption and salvation, is the Redeemer and Saviour of his church.
Now, as we have no consolation but from the Holy Ghost, so all his
effects towards us have certainly this consequent more or less in us.
Yea, I dare say, whatever we have in the kinds of the things before
mentioned that brings not consolation with it, in the root at least, if
not in the ripe fruit, is not of the Holy Ghost. The way whereby
comfort issues out from those works of his, belongs to particular
cases. The fellowship we have with him consists, in no small portion of
it, in the consolation we receive from him. This gives us a valuation
of his love; teacheth whither to make applications in our distress, -
whom to pray for, to pray to, - whom to wait upon, in perplexities.
    2. Peace ariseth hence also. Rom. 15: 13, "The God of hope fill
you with all peace in believing, that you may abound in hope through
the power of the Holy Ghost." The power of the Holy Ghost is not only
extended to hope, but to our peace also in believing. So is it in the
connection of those promises, John 14: 26, 27, "I will give you the
Comforter:" and what then? what follows that grant? "Peace," saith he,
"I leave with you; my peace I give unto you." Nor does Christ otherwise
leave his peace, or give his peace unto them, but by bestowing the
comforter on them. The peace of Christ consists in the soul's sense of
its acceptation with God in friendship. So is Christ said to be "our
peace," Eph. 2: 14, by slaying the enmity between God and us, and in
taking away the handwriting that was against us. Rom. 5: 1, "Being
justified by faith, we have peace with God." A comfortable persuasion
of our acceptation with God in Christ is the bottom of this peace; it
inwraps deliverance from eternal wrath, hatred, curse, condemnation, -
all sweetly affecting the soul and conscience.
    And this is a branch from the same root with that foregoing, - a
consequent of the effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned. Suppose a
man chosen in the eternal love of the Father, redeemed by the blood of
the Son, and justified freely by the grace of God, so that he has a
right to all the promises of the gospel; yet this person can by no
seasonings nor arguing of his own heart, by no considerations of the
promises themselves, nor of the love of God or grace of Christ in them,
be brought to any establishment in peace, until it be produced in him
as a fruit and consequent of the work of the Holy Ghost in him and
towards him. "Peace" is the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5: 22. The savour
of the Spirit is "life and peace," Rom. 8: 6. All we have is from him
and by him.
    3. Joy, also, is of this number. The Spirit, as was showed, is
called "The oil of gladness," Heb. 1: 9. His anointing brings gladness
with it, Isa. 61: 3, "The oil of joy for mourning." "The kingdom of God
is righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost," Rom. 14: 17;
"Received the word with joy in the Holy Ghost," 1 Thess. 1: 6, - "with
joy," as Peter tells believers, "unspeakable and full of glory," 1
Epist. 1: 8. To give joy to the hearts of believers is eminently the
work of the comforter; and this he does by the particulars before
instanced in. That "rejoicing in hope of the glory of God," mentioned
Rom. 5: 2, which carries the soul through any tribulation, even with
glorying, has its rise in the Spirit's "shedding abroad the love of God
in our hearts," verse 5. Now, there are two ways whereby the Spirit
worketh this joy in the hearts of believers: -
    (1.) He does it immediately by himself; without the consideration
of any other acts or works of his, or the interposition of any
seasonings, or deductions and conclusions. As in sanctification he is a
well of water springing up in the soul, immediately exerting his
efficacy and refreshment; so in consolation, he immediately works the
soul and minds of men to a joyful, rejoicing, and spiritual frame,
filling them with exultation and gladness; - not that this arises from
our reflex consideration of the love of God, but rather gives occasion
whereunto. When he so sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts, and
so fills them with gladness by an immediate act and operation (as he
caused John Baptist to leap for joy in the womb upon the approach of
the mother of Jesus), - then does the soul, even from hence, raise
itself to a consideration of the love of God, whence joy and rejoicing
does also flow. Of this joy there is no account to be given, but that
the Spirit worketh it when and how he will. He secretly infuseth and
distils it into the soul, prevailing against all fears and sorrows,
filling it with gladness, exultations; and sometimes with unspeakable
raptures of mind.
    (2.) Mediately. By his other works towards us, he gives a sense of
the love of God, with our adoption and acceptation with him; and on the
consideration thereof enables us to receive it. Let what has been
spoken of his operations towards us be considered, - what assurance he
gives us of the love of God; what life, power, and security; what
pledge of our eternal welfare, - and it will be easily perceived that
he lays a sufficient foundation of this joy and gladness. Not that we
are able, upon any rational consideration, deduction, or conclusion,
that we can make from the things mentioned, to affect our hearts with
the joy and gladness intended; it is left no less the proper work of
the Spirit to do it from hence, and by the intervenience of these
considerations, than to do it immediately without them. This process of
producing joy in the heart, we have, Ps. 23: 5, 6, "Thou anointest my
head with oil." Hence is the conclusion, as in the way of exultation,
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me." Of this effect of the
Comforter, see Isa. 35 throughout.
    4. Hope, also, is an effect of those workings of the Holy Ghost in
us and towards us, Rom. 15: 13. These, I say, are the general
consequent of the effects of the Holy Ghost upon the hearts of
believers; which, if we might consider them in their offspring, with
all the branches that shoot out from them, in exultation, assurance,
boldness, confidence, expectation, glorying, and the like, it would
appear how far our whole communion with God is influenced by them. But
I only name the heads of things, and hasten to what remains. It is the
general and particular way of our communion with the Holy Ghost that
should neatly ensue, but that some other considerations necessarily do
here interpose themselves.





Chapter 5. Some observations and inferences from discourses foregoing
     concerning the Spirit - The contempt of the whole administration
     of the Spirit by some - The vain pretence of the Spirit by others
     - The false spirit discovered.
    
    This process being made, I should now show immediately, how we
hold the communion proposed with the Holy Ghost, in the things laid
down and manifested to contain his peculiar work towards us; but there
are some miscarriages in the world in reference unto this dispensation
of the Holy Ghost, both on the one hand and the other, in contempt of
his true work and pretence of that which is not, that I cannot but
remark in my passage: which to do shall be the business of this
chapter.
    Take a view, then, of the state and condition of them who,
professing to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, do yet condemn and
despise his Spirit, as to all its operations, gifts, graces, and
dispensations to his churches and saints. Whilst Christ was in the
world with his disciples, he made them no greater promise, neither in
respect of their own good nor of carrying on the work which he had
committed to them, than this of giving them the Holy Ghost. Him he
instructeth them to pray for of the Father, as that which is needful
for them, as bread for children, Luke 11: 13. Him he promiseth them, as
a well of water springing up in them, for their refreshment,
strengthening, and consolation unto everlasting life, John 7: 37-39; as
also to carry on and accomplish the whole work of the ministry to them
committed, John 16: 8-11; with all those eminent works and privileges
before mentioned. And upon his ascension, this is laid as the bottom of
that glorious communication of gifts and graces in his plentiful
effusion mentioned, Eph. 4: 8, 11, 12, - namely, that he had received
of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, Act 2: 33; and that in
such an eminent manner as thereby to make the greatest and most
glorious difference between the administration of the new covenant and
old. Especially does the whole work of the ministry relate to the Holy
Ghost; though that be not my present business to evince. He calls men
to that work, and they are separated unto him, Acts 13:2; he furnisheth
them with gifts and abilities for that employment, 1 Cor. 12: 7-10. So
that the whole religion we profess, without this administration of the
Spirit, is nothing; nor is there any fruit without it of the
resurrection of Christ from the dead.
    This being the state of things, - that in our worship of and
obedience to God, in our own consolation, sanctification, and
ministerial employment, the Spirit is the principle, the life, soul,
the all of the whole; yet so desperate has been the malice of Satan,
and wickedness of men, that their great endeavour has been to shut him
quite out of all gospel administrations.
    First, his gifts and graces were not only decried, but almost
excluded from the public worship of the church, by the imposition of an
operose form of service, to be read by the minister; which to do is
neither a peculiar gift of the Holy Ghost to any, nor of the ministry
at all. It is marvellous to consider what pleas and pretences were
invented and used by learned men, - from its antiquity, its composure
and approbation by martyrs, the beauty of uniformity in the worship of
God, established and pressed thereby, etc., - for the defence and
maintenance of it. But the main argument they insisted on, and the
chief field wherein they expatiated and laid out all their eloquence,
was the vain babbling repetitions and folly of men praying by the
Spirit. When once this was fallen upon, all (at least as they supposed)
was carried away before them, and their adversaries rendered
sufficiently ridiculous: so great is the cunning of Satan, and so
unsearchable are the follies of the hearts of men. The sum of all these
seasonings amounts to no more but this, - "Though the Lord Jesus Christ
has promised the Holy Ghost to be with his church to the end of the
world, to fit and furnish men with gifts and abilities for the carrying
on of that worship which he requires and accepteth at our hands, yet
the work is not done to the purpose; the gifts he bestows are not
sufficient to that end, neither as to invocation nor doctrine: and,
therefore, we will not only help men by our directions, but exclude
them from their exercise." This; I say, was the sum of all, as I could
undeniably evidence, were that my present business, what innumerable
evils ensue on this principle, in a formal setting apart of men to the
ministry who had never once "tasted of the powers of the world to
come," nor received any gifts from the Holy Ghost to that purpose; of
crying up and growing in an outside pompous worship, wholly foreign to
the power and simplicity of the gospel; of silencing, destroying,
banishing, men whose ministry was accompanied with the evidence and
demonstration of the Spirit, - I shall not need to declare. This is
that I aim at, to point out the public contempt of the Holy Ghost, his
gifts and graces, with their administration in the church of God, that
has been found even where the gospel has been professed.
    Again: it is a thing of most sad consideration, once to call to
mind the improvement of that principle of contempt of the Spirit in
private men and their ways. The name of the Spirit was grown a term of
reproach. To plead for, or pretend to pray by, the Spirit, was enough
to render a man the object of scorn and reproach from all sorts of men,
from the pulpit to the stage. "What! you are full of the Spirit; you
will pray by the Spirit; you have the gift: let us hear your nonsense;"
- and yet, perhaps, these men would think themselves wronged not to be
accounted Christians. Christians! yea, have not some pretending
themselves to be leaders of the flock, - yea, mounted a storey or two
above their brethren, and claiming a rule and government over them, -
made it their business to scoff at and reproach the gifts of the Spirit
of God? And if this were the frame of their spirit, what might be
expected from others of professed profaneness? It is not imaginable to
what height of blasphemy the process in this kind amounted. The Lord
grant there be nothing of this cursed leaven still remaining amongst
us! Some bleatings of ill importance are sometimes heard. Is this the
fellowship of the Holy Ghost that believers are called unto? Is this
the due entertainment of him whom our Saviour promised to send for the
supply of his bodily absence, so as we might be no losers thereby? Is
it not enough that men should be contented with such a stupid
blindness, as, being called Christians, to look no farther for their
comfort and consolation than moral considerations common to heathens
would lead them, when one infinitely holy and blessed person of the
Trinity has taken this office upon him to be our comforter, but they
must oppose and despise him also? Nothing more discovers how few there
are in the world that have interest in that blessed name whereby we are
all called. But this is no place to pursue this discourse. The aim of
this discourse is, to evince the folly and madness of men in general,
who profess to own the gospel of Christ, and yet condemn and despise
his Spirit, in whomsoever he is manifested. Let us be zealous of the
gifts of the Spirit, not envious at them.
    From what has been discoursed we may also try the spirits that are
gone abroad in the world, and which have been exercising themselves, at
several seasons, ever since the ascension of Christ. The iniquity of
the generation that is past and passing away lay in open, cursed
opposition to the Holy Ghost. God has been above them, wherein they
behaved themselves presumptuously. Satan, whose design, as he is god of
this world, is to be uppermost, not to dwell wholly in any form cast
down by the providence of God, has now transformed himself into an
angel of light; and he will pretend the Spirit also and only. But there
are "seducing spirits," 1 Tim. 4: l; and we have a "command not to
believe every spirit, but try the spirits," 1 John 4: 1; and the reason
added is, "Because many false prophets are gone out into the world;" -
that is, men pretending to the revelation of new doctrines by the
Spirit; whose deceits in the first church Paul intimateth, 2 Thess.
2:2; calling on men not to be "shaken in mind by spirit." The truth is,
the spirits of these days are so gross, that a man of a very easy
discerning may find them out and yet their delusion so strong, that not
a few are deceived. This is one thing that lies evident to every eye, -
that, according to his wonted course, Satan, with his delusions, is run
into an extreme to his former acting.
    Not long since, his great design, as I manifested, was to cry up
ordinances without the Spirit, casting all the reproach that he could
upon him; - now, to cry up a spirit without and against ordinances,
casting all reproach and contempt possible upon them. Then, he would
have a ministry without the Spirit; - now, a Spirit without a ministry.
Then, the reading of the word might suffice, without either preaching
or praying by the Spirit, - now, the Spirit is enough, without reading
or studying the word at all. Then, he allowed a literal embracing of
what Christ had done in the flesh; - now, he talks of Christ in the
Spirit only, and denies him to be come in the flesh, - the proper
character of the false spirit we are warned of, 1 John 4:1. Now,
because it is most certain that the Spirit which we are to hear and
embrace is the Spirit promised by Christ (which is so clear, that him
the Montanists' paraclete, yea, and Mohammed, pretended himself to be,
and those of our days affirm, who pretend the same), let us briefly try
them by some of the effects mentioned, which Christ has promised to
give the Holy Ghost for: -
    The first general effect, as was observed, was this, - that he
should bring to remembrance the things that Christ spake, for our
guidance and consolation. This was to he the work of the Holy Ghost
towards the apostles, who were to be the penmen of the Scriptures: this
is to be his work towards believers to the end of the world. Now, the
things that Christ has spoken and done are "written that we might
believe, and believing, halve life through his name," John 20: 31; they
are written in the Scripture. This, then, is the work of the Spirit
which Christ has promised; - he shall bring to our remembrance, and
give us understanding of the words of Christ in the Scripture, for our
guidance and consolation. Is this, now, the work of the spirit which is
abroad in the world, and perverteth many? Nothing less. His business
is, to decry the things that Christ has spoken which are written in the
word; to pretend new revelations of his own; to lead men from the
written word, wherein the whole work of God and all the promises of
Christ are recorded.
    Again: the work of the Spirit promised by Christ is to glorify
him: "He shall glorify me; for he shall receive of mine, and shall show
it unto you," John 16: 14. Him who was to suffer at Jerusalem, who then
spake to his disciples, it was to make him glorious, honourable, and of
high esteem in the hearts of believers; and that by showing his things
(his love, kindness, grace, and purchase) unto them. This is the work
of the Spirit. The work of the spirit that is gone abroad, is to
glorify itself, to decry and render contemptible Christ that suffered
for us, under the name of a Christ without us; which it slights and
despiseth, and that professedly. Its own glory, its own honour, is all
that it aims at; wholly inverting the order of the divine
dispensations. The fountain of all being and lying in the Father's
love, the Son came to glorify the Father. He still says, "I seek not
mine own glory, but the glory of him that sent me." The Son having
carried on the work of redemption, was now to be glorified with the
Father. So he prays that it might be, John 17: 1, "The hour is come,
glorify thy Son;" and that with the glory which he had before the world
was, when his joint counsel was in the carrying on the Father's love.
Wherefore the Holy Ghost is sent, and his work is to glorify the Son.
But now, as I said, we have a spirit come forth whose whole business is
to glorify himself; whereby we may easily know whence he is.
    Furthermore: the Holy Ghost sheds abroad the love of God in our
hearts, as was declared, and thence fills them with joy, peace, and
hope; quieting and refreshing the hearts of them in whom he dwells;
giving them liberty and rest, confidence, and the boldness of children.
This spirit whereof men now boast is a spirit of bondage, whose utmost
work is to make men quake and tremble; casting them into an un-son-like
frame of spirit, driving them up and down with horror and bondage, and
drinking up their very natural spirits, and making their whole man
wither away. There is scarce any one thing that more evidently
manifesteth the spirit whereby some are now acted not to be the
Comforter promised by Christ, than this, - that he is a spirit of
bondage and slavery in them in whom he is, and a spirit of cruelty and
reproach towards others; in a direct opposition to the Holy Ghost in
believers, and all the ends and purposes for which, as a spirit of
adoption and consolation, he is bestowed on them.
    To give one instance more: the Holy Ghost bestowed on believers is
a Spirit of prayer and supplication; as was manifested. The spirit
wherewith we have to do, pretends the carrying men above such low and
contemptible means of communion with God. In a word, it were a very
easy and facile task, to pass through all of the eminent effects of the
Holy Ghost in and towards believers, and to manifest that the
pretending spirit of our days comes in a direct opposition and
contradiction to every one of them. Thus has Satan passed from one
extreme to another, - from a bitter, wretched opposition to the Spirit
of Christ, unto a cursed pretending to the Spirit; still to the same
end and purpose.
    I might give sundry other instances of the contempt or abuse of
the dispensation of the Spirit. Those mentioned are the extremes
whereunto all other are or may be reduced; and I will not farther
divert from that which lies directly in my aim.






Chapter 6. Of particular communion with the Holy Ghost - Of preparation
     thereunto - Valuation of the benefits we receive by him - What it
     is he comforts, us, in and against; wherewith; how.
    
    The way being thus made plain for us, I come to show how we hold
particular communion with the Holy Ghost, as he is promised of Christ
to be our comforter, and as working out our consolation by the means
formerly insisted on. Now, the first thing I shall do herein, is the
proposal of that which may be some preparation to the duty under
consideration; and this by leading the souls of believers to a due
valuation of this work of his towards us, whence he is called our
Comforter.
    To raise up our hearts to this frame, and fit us for the duty
intended, let us consider these three things: -
    FIRST, What it is he comforts us against.
    SECONDLY, Wherewith he comforts us.
    THIRDLY, The principle of all his acting and operations in us for
our consolation.
    FIRST. There are but three things in the whole course of our
pilgrimage that the consolations of the Holy Ghost are useful and
necessary in: -
    1. In our afflictions. Affliction is part of the provision that
God has made in his house for his children, Heb. 12: 5, 6. The great
variety of its causes, means, uses, and effects, is generally known.
There is a measure of them appointed for every one. To be wholly
without them is a temptation; and so in some measure an affliction.
That which I am to speak unto is, that in all our afflictions we need
the consolations of the Holy Ghost. It is the nature of man to relieve
himself, when he is entangled, by all ways and means. According as
men's natural spirits are, so do they manage themselves under
pressures. "The spirit of a man will bear his infirmity;" at least,
will struggle with it.
    There are two great evils, one of which does generally seize on
men under their afflictions, and keep them from a due management of
them. The apostle mentioneth them both, Heb. 12: 5, "Me oligorei
paideias Kuriou, mede ekluou, hup' autou elengchomenos", - Despise not
the chastisement of the Lord; neither faint when thou art reproved."
One of these extremes do men usually fall into; either they despise the
Lord's correction, or sink under it.
    (1.) Men despise it. They account that which befalls them to be a
light or common thing; they take no notice of God in it; they can shift
with it well enough: they look on instruments, second causes; provide
for their own defence and vindication with little regard to God or his
hand in their affliction. And the ground of this is, because they take
in succours, in their trouble, that God will not mix his grace withal;
they fix on other remedies than what he has appointed, and utterly lose
all the benefits and advantage of their affliction. And so shall every
man do that relieves himself from any thing but the consolations of the
Holy Ghost.
    (2.) Men faint and sink under their trials and afflictions; which
the apostle farther reproves, verse 12. The first despise the
assistance of the Holy Ghost through pride of heart; the latter refuse
it through dejectedness of spirit, and sink under the weight of their
troubles. And who, almost, is there that offends not on one of these
hands? Had we not learned to count light of the chastisements of the
Lord, and to take little notice of his dealings with us, we should find
the season of our afflictions to comprise no small portion of our
pilgrimage.
    Now, there is no due management of our souls under any affliction,
so that God may have the glory of it, and ourselves any spiritual
benefit or improvement thereby, but by the consolations of the Holy
Ghost. All that our Saviour promiseth his disciples, when he tells them
of the great trials and tribulations they were to undergo, is, "I will
send you the Spirit, the Comforter; he shall give you peace in me, when
in the world you shall have trouble. He shall guide and direct, and
keep you in all your trials". And so, the apostle tells us, it came to
pass, 2 Cor. 1: 4-6; yea, and this, under the greatest afflictions,
will carry the soul to the highest joy, peace, rest, and contentment.
So the same apostle, Rom. 5: 3, "We glory in tribulations". It is a
great expression. He had said before, "We rejoice in hope of the glory
of God," verse 2. Yea, but what if manifold afflictions and
tribulations befall us? "Why, even in them also we glory," saith he;
"we glory in our tribulations." But whence is it that our spirits are
so borne up to a due management of afflictions, as to glory in them in
the Lord? He tells us, verse 5, it is from the "shedding abroad of the
love of God in our hearts by the Holy Ghost." And thence are believers
said to "receive the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy
Ghost," l Thess. 1: 6; and to "take joyfully the spoiling of their
goods". This is that I aim at: - there is no management nor improvement
of any affliction, but merely and solely by the consolations of the
Holy Ghost. Is it, then, of any esteem or value unto you that you lose
not all your trials, temptations, and affliction? - learn to value that
whereby alone they are rendered useful.
    2. Sin is the second burden of our lives, and much the greatest.
Unto this is this consolation peculiarly suited. So Heb. 6: 17, 18, an
allusion is taken from the manslayer under the law, who, having killed
a man unawares, and brought the guilt of his blood upon himself, fled
with speed for his deliverance to the city of refuge. Our great and
only refuge from the guilt of sin is the Lord Jesus Christ; in our
flying to him, does the Spirit administer consolation to us. A sense of
sin fills the heart with troubles and disquietness; it is the Holy
Ghost which gives us peace in Christ, - that gives an apprehension of
wrath; the Holy Ghost sheds abroad the love of God in our hearts; -
from thence does Satan and the law accuse us, as objects of God's
hatred; the Spirit bears witness with our spirits that we are the
children of God. There is not any one engine or instrument that sin
useth or sets up against our peace, but one effect or other of the Holy
Ghost towards us is suited and fitted to the casting of it down.
    3. In the whole course of our obedience are his consolations
necessary also, that we may go through with it cheerfully, willingly,
patiently to the end. This will afterward be more fully discovered, as
to particulars, when I come to give directions for our communion with
this blessed Comforter. In a word, in all the concernments of this
life, and in our whole expectation of another, we stand in need of the
consolations of the Holy Ghost.
    Without them, we shall either despise afflictions or faint under
them, and God be neglected as to his intendments in them.
    Without them, sin will either harden us to a contempt of it, or
cast us down to a neglect of the remedies graciously provided against
it.
    Without them, duties will either puff us up with pride, or leave
us without that sweetness which is in new obedience.
    Without them, prosperity will make us carnal, sensual, and to take
up our contentment in these things, and utterly weaken us for the
trials of adversity.
    Without them, the comforts of our relations will separate us from
God, and the loss of them make our hearts as Nabal's.
    Without them, the calamity of the church will overwhelm us, and
the prosperity of the church will not concern us.
    Without them, we shall have wisdom, for no work, peace in no
condition, strength for no duty, success in no trial, joy in no state,
- no comfort in life, no light in death.
    Now, our afflictions, our sins, and our obedience, with the
attendancies of them respectively, are the great concernments of our
lives. What we are in reference unto God is comprised in them, and the
due management of them, with their contraries, which come under the
same rule; through all these does there run a line of consolation from
the Holy Ghost, that gives us a joyful issue throughout. How sad is the
condition of poor souls destitute of these consolations. What poor
shifts are they forced to retake themselves unto! what giants have they
to encounter in their own strength! and whether they are conquered or
seem to conquer, they have nothing but the misery of their trials!
    The SECOND thing considerable, to teach us to put a due valuation
on the consolations of the Holy Ghost, is the matter of them, or that
wherewith he comforts us. Now, this may be referred to the two heads
that I have formerly treated of, - the love of the Father, and the
grace of the Son. All the consolations of the Holy ghost consist in his
acquainting us with, and communicating unto us, the love of the Father
and the grace of the Son; nor is there any thing in the one or the
other but he makes it a matter of consolation to us: so that, indeed,
we have our communion with the Father in his love, and the Son in his
grace, by the operation of the Holy Ghost.
    1. He communicates to us, and acquaints us with, the love of the
Father. Having informed his disciples with that ground and foundation
of their consolation which by the Comforter they should receive, our
blessed Saviour (John 16: 27) shuts up all in this, "The father himself
loveth you." This is that which the Comforter is given to acquaint us
withal, - even that God is the Father, and that he loves us. In
particular, that the Father, the first person in the Trinity,
considered so distinctly, loves us. On this account is he said so often
to come forth from the Father, because he comes in pursuit of his love,
and to acquaint the hearts of believers therewith, that they may be
comforted and established. By persuading us of the eternal and
unchangeable love of the Father, he fills us with consolation. And,
indeed, all the effects of the Holy Ghost before mentioned have their
tendency this way. Of this love and its transcendent excellency you
heard at large before. Whatever is desirable in it is thus communicated
to us by the Holy Ghost. A sense of this is able not only to relieve
us, but to make us in every condition to rejoice with joy unspeakable
and glorious. It is not with an increase of corn, and wine, and oil,
but with the shining of the countenance of God upon us, that he
comforts our souls, Ps. 4: 6, 7. "The world hateth me," may such a soul
as has the Spirit say; "but my Father loves me. Men despise me as a
hypocrite; but my Father loves me as a child. I am poor in this world;
but I have a rich inheritance in the love of my Father. I am straitened
in all things; but there is bread enough in my Father's house. I mourn
in secret under the power of my lusts and sin, where no eyes see me;
but the Father sees me, and is full of compassion. With a sense of his
kindness, which is better than life, I rejoice in tribulation, glory in
affliction, triumph as a conqueror. Though I am killed all the day
long, all my sorrows have a bottom that may be fathomed, - my trials,
bounds that may be compassed; but the breadth, and depth, and height of
the love of the Father, who can express?" I might render glorious this
way of the Spirit's comforting us with the love of the Father, by
comparing it with all other causes and means of joy and consolation
whatever; and so discover their emptiness, its fulness, - their
nothingness, its being all; as also by revealing the properties of it
before rehearsed.
    2. Again: he does it by communicating to us, and acquainting us
with, the grace of Christ, - all the fruits of his purchase, all the
desirableness of his person, as we are interested in him. The grace of
Christ, as I formerly discoursed of at large, is referred to two heads,
- the grace of his person, and of his office and work. By both them
does the Holy Ghost administer consolation to us, John 16: 14. He
glorifies Christ by revealing his excellencies and desirableness to
believers, as the "chiefest of ten thousand, - altogether lovely," and
then he shows them of the things of Christ, - his love, grace, all the
fruits of his death, suffering, resurrection, and intercession: and
with these supports their hearts and souls. And here, whatever is of
refreshment in the pardon of sin, deliverance from the curse, and wrath
to come, in justification and adoption, with the innumerable privileges
attending them in the hope of glory given unto us, comes in on this
head of account.
    THIRDLY. The principle and fountain of all his acting for our
consolation comes next under consideration, to the same end; and this
leads us a little nearer to the communion intended to be directed in.
Now, this is his own great love and infinite condescension. He
willingly proceedeth or comes forth from the Father to be our
comforter. He knew what we were, and what we could do, and what would
be our dealings with him, - he knew we would grieve him, provoke him,
quench his motions, defile his dwelling-place; and yet he would come to
be our comforter. Want of a due consideration of this great love of the
Holy Ghost weakens all the principles of our obedience. Did this dwell
and abide upon our hearts, what a dear valuation must we needs put upon
all his operations and acting towards us! Nothing, indeed, is valuable
but what comes from love and good-will. This is the way the Scripture
takes to raise up our hearts to a right and due estimation of our
redemption by Jesus Christ. It tells us that he did it freely; that of
his own will he has laid down his life; that he did it out of love. "In
this was manifested the love of God, that he laid down his life for
us;" "He loved us, and gave himself for us;" "He loved us, and washed
us from our sins in his own blood." Hereunto it adds our state and
condition, considered as he undertook for us, - sinners, enemies, dead,
alienated; then he loved us, and died for us, and washed us with his
blood. May we not hence, also, have a valuation of the dispensation of
the Spirit for our consolation? He proceeds to that end from the
Father; he distributes as he will, works as he pleaseth. And what are
we, towards whom he carrieth on this work? Froward, perverse,
unthankful; grieving, vexing, provoking him. Yet in his love and
tenderness does he continue to do us good. Let us by faith consider
this love of the Holy Ghost. It is the head and source of all the
communion we have with him in this life. This is, as I said, spoken
only to prepare our hearts to the communion proposed; and what a little
portion is it of what might be spoken! How might all these
considerations be aggravated! what a numberless number might be added!
It suffices that, from what is spoken, it appears that the work in hand
is amongst the greatest duties and most excellent privileges of the
gospel.





Chapter 7. The general ways of the saints' acting in communion with the
     Holy Ghost.

    As in the account given of the acting of the Holy Ghost in us, we
manifested first the general adjuncts of his acting, or the manner
thereof; so now, in the description of the returns of our souls to him,
I shall, in the first place, propose the general acting of faith in
reference to this work of the Holy Ghost, and then descend unto
particulars. Now, there are three general ways of the soul's deportment
in this communion, expressed all negatively in the Scripture, but all
including positive duties. Now these are, - First, Not to grieve him.
Secondly, Not to quench his motions. Thirdly, Not to resist him.
    There are three things considerable in the Holy Ghost: - 1. His
person, as dwelling in us; 2. His acting by grace, or his motions; 3.
His working in the ordinances of the word, and the sacraments; - all
for the same end and purpose.
    To these three are the three cautions before suited: - 1. Not to
grieve him, in respect of his person dwelling in us. 2. Not to quench
him, in respect of the acting and motions of his grace. 3. Not to
resist him, in respect of the ordinances of Christ, and his gifts for
their administration. Now, because the whole general duty of believers,
in their communion with the Holy Ghost, is comprised in these three
things, I shall handle them severally: -
    1. The first caution concerns his person immediately, as dwelling
in us. It is given, Eph. 4: 30, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God."
There is a complaint, Isa. 63: 10, of them who vexed or grieved the
Spirit of God; and from thence does this caution seem to be taken. That
it is the person of the Holy Ghost which is here intended, is evident,
-
    (1.) From the phrase, or manner of expression, with a double
article, "To Pneuma to Hagion", - "That Holy Spirit;" and also, -
    (2.) From the work assigned to him in the following words, of
"sealing to the day of redemption;" which, as has been manifested, is
the work of the Holy Ghost. Now, whereas this may be understood of the
Spirit in others, or in ourselves, it is evident that the apostle
intends it in the latter sense, by his addition of that signal and
eminent privilege which we ourselves enjoy by him: he seals us to the
day of redemption.
    Let us see, then, the tendency of this expression, as comprising
the first general rule of our communion with the Holy Ghost, - "Grieve
not the Spirit."
    The term of "grieving," or affecting with sorrow, may be
considered either actively, in respect of the persons grieving; or
passively, in respect of the persons grieved. In the latter sense the
expression is metaphorical. The Spirit cannot be grieved, or affected
with sorrow; which infers alteration, disappointment, weakness, - all
incompatible with his infinite perfections; yet men may actively do
that which is fit and able to grieve any one that stands affected
towards them as does the Holy Ghost. If he be not grieved, it is no
thanks to us, but to his own unchangeable nature. So that there are two
things denoted in this expression: -
    First, That the Holy Ghost is affected towards us as one that is
loving, careful, tender, concerned in our good and well-doing; and
therefore upon our miscarriages is said to be grieved: as a good friend
of a kind and loving nature is apt to be on the miscarriage of him whom
he does affect. And this is that we are principally to regard in this
caution, as the ground and foundation of it, - the love, kindness, and
tenderness of the Holy Ghost unto us. "Grieve him not."
    Secondly, That we may do those things that are proper to grieve
him, though he be not passively grieved; our sin being no less therein
than if he were grieved as we are. Now, how this is done, how the
Spirit is grieved, the apostle declareth in the contexture of that
discourse, verses 21-24. He presseth to a progress in sanctification,
and all the fruits of regeneration, verses 25-29. He dehorts from
sundry particular evils that were contrary thereto, and then gives the
general enforcement of the one and the other, "And grieve not the Holy
Spirit of God;" that is, by coming short of that universal
sanctification which our planting into Christ does require. The
positive duty included in this caution, of not grieving the Holy
Spirit, is this, - that we pursue universal holiness with regard unto,
and upon the account of, the love, kindness, and tenderness, of the
Holy Ghost. This is the foundation of our communion we have in general.
When the soul considers the love, kindness, and tenderness of the Holy
Ghost unto him; when he considers all the fruits and acts of his love
and good-will towards him; and on that account, and under that
consideration, because he is so concerned in our ways and walkings, to
abstain from evils, and to walk in all duties of holiness, - this is to
have communion with him. This consideration, that the Holy Ghost, who
is our comforter, is delighted with our obedience, grieved at our evils
and follies, being made a continual motive to, and reason of, our close
walking with God in all holiness, is, I say, the first general way of
our communion with him.
    Here let us fix a little. We lose both the power and pleasure of
our obedience for want of this consideration. We see on what account
the Holy Ghost undertakes to be our comforter, by what ways and means
he performs that office towards us; what an unworthy thing it is to
grieve him, who comes to us on purpose to give us consolation! Let the
soul, in the whole course of its obedience, exercise itself by faith to
thoughts hereof, and lay due weight upon it: "The Holy Ghost, in his
infinite love and kindness towards me, has condescended to be my
comforter; he does it willingly, freely, powerfully. What have I
received from him! in the multitude of my perplexities how has he
refreshed my soul! Can I live one day without his consolations? And
shall I be regardless of him in that wherein he is concerned? Shall I
grieve him by negligence, sin, and folly? Shall not his love constrain
me to walk before him to all well-pleasing?" So have we in general
fellowship with him.
    2. The second is that of 1 Thess. 5: 19, "Quench not the Spirit."
There are various thoughts about the sense of these words. "The Spirit
in others, that is, their spiritual gifts," say some; but then it falls
in with what follows, verse 20, "Despise not prophesying." "The light
that God has set up in our hearts," say others; but where is that
called absolutely "To Pneuma", - "The Spirit?" It is the Holy Ghost
himself that is here intended, not immediately, in respect of his
person (in which regard he is said to be grieved, which is a personal
affection); but in respect of his motions, acting, and operations. The
Holy Ghost was typified by the fire that was always kept alive on the
altar. He is also called a "Spirit of burning." The reasons of that
allusion are manifold; not now to be insisted on. Now, the opposition
that is made to fire in its acting, is by quenching. Hence the
opposition made to the acting of the Holy Ghost are called "quenching
of the Spirit," as some kind of wet wood will do, when it is cast into
the fire. Thence are we said, in pursuance of the same metaphor,
"anadzoturein", - to "stir up with new fire," the gifts that are in us.
The Holy Ghost is striving with us, acting in us, moving variously for
our growth in grace, and bringing forth fruit meet for the principle he
has endued us withal. "Take heed," saith the apostle, "lest, by the
power of your lusts and temptations, you attend not to his workings,
but hinder him in his good-will towards you; that is, what in you
lies."
    This, then, is the second general rule for our communion with the
Holy Ghost. It respects his gracious operations in us and by us. There
are several and various ways whereby the Holy Ghost is said to act,
exert, and put forth his power in us; partly by moving upon and
stirring up the grace we have received; partly by new supplies of grace
from Jesus Christ, falling in with occasions for their exercise,
raising good motions immediately or occasionally within us; - all
tending to our furtherance in obedience and walking with God. All these
are we carefully to observe and take notice of, - consider the fountain
whence they come, and the end which they lead us unto. Hence have we
communion with the Holy Ghost, when we can consider him by faith as the
immediate author of all supplies, assistance, and the whole relief we
have by grace; of all good acting, risings, motions in our hearts; of
all strivings and contending against sin. When we consider, I say, all
these his acting and workings in their tendency to our consolation, and
on that account are careful and watchful to improve them all to the end
aimed at, as coming from him who is so loving, and kind, and tender to
us, we have communion with him.
    This is that which is intended, - every gracious acting of the
blessed Spirit in and towards our souls, is constantly by faith to be
considered as coming from him in a peculiar manner; his mind, his
goodwill is to be observed therein. Hence, care and diligence for the
improvement of every motion of his will arise; thence reverence of his
presence with us, with due spiritual regard to his holiness, does
ensue, and our souls are wonted to intercourse with him.
    3. The third caution concerns him and his work, in the
dispensation of that great ordinance of the word. Stephen tells the
Jews, Acts 7: 51, that they "resisted the Holy Ghost." How did they do
it? Why, as their fathers did it: "As your fathers did, so do ye." How
did their fathers resist the Holy Ghost? Verse 52, "They persecuted the
prophets, and slew them;" their opposition to the prophets in preaching
the gospel, or their showing of the coming of the Just One, was their
resisting of the Holy Ghost. Now, the Holy Ghost is said to be resisted
in the contempt of the preaching of the word; because the gift of
preaching of it is from him. "The manifestation of the Spirit is given
to profit." Hence, when our Saviour promiseth the Spirit to his
disciples, to be present with them for the conviction of the world, he
tells them he will give them a mouth and wisdom, which their
adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist, Luke 21: 15;
concerning which, in the accomplishment of it in Stephen, it is said
that they "were not able to resist the Spirit by which he spake," Acts
6: 10. The Holy Ghost then setting up a ministry in the church,
separating men thereto, furnishing them with gifts and abilities for
the dispensation of the word; the not obeying of that word, opposing of
it, not falling down before it, is called resisting of the Holy Ghost.
This, in the examples of the wickedness of others, are we cautioned
against. And this inwraps the third general rule of our communion with
the Holy Ghost: - in the dispensation of the word of the gospel, the
authority, wisdom, and goodness of the Holy Ghost, in furnishing men
with gifts for that end and purpose, and his presence with them, as to
the virtue thereof, is to be eyed, and subjection given unto it on that
account. On this reason, I say, on this ground, is obedience to be
yielded to the word, in the ministerial dispensation thereof - because
the Holy Ghost, and he alone, does furnish with gifts to that end and
purpose. When this consideration causeth us to fall low before the
word, then have we communion with the Holy Ghost in that ordinance. But
this is commonly spoken unto.




Chapter 8. Particular directions for communion with the Holy Chest.

    Before I name particular directions for our communion with the
Holy Ghost, I must premise some cautions, as far as the directions to
be given, concerning his worship.
    First. The divine nature is the reason and cause of all worship;
so that it is impossible to worship any one person, and not worship the
whole Trinity. It is, and that not without ground, denied by the
schoolmen, that the formal reason and object of divine worship is in
the persons precisely considered; that is, under the formally-
constitutive reason of their personality, which is their relation to
each other. But this belongs to the divine nature and essence, and to
their distinct persons as they are identified with the essence itself.
Hence is that way of praying to the Trinity, by the repetition of the
same petition to the several persons (as in the Litany), groundless, if
not impious. It supposeth that one person is worshipped, and not
another, when each person is worshipped as God, and each person is so;
- as though we first should desire one thing of the Father, and be
heard and granted by him, then ask the same thing of the Son, and so of
the Holy Ghost; and so act as to the same thing three distinct acts of
worship, and expect to be heard and have the same thing granted three
times distinctly, when all the works of the Trinity, ad extra, are
indivisible.
    The proper and peculiar object of divine worship and invocation is
the essence of God, in its infinite excellency, dignity, majesty, and
its causality, as the first sovereign cause of all things. Now, this is
common to all the three persons, and is proper to each of them; not
formally as a person, but as God blessed for ever. All adoration
respects that which is common to all; so that in each act of adoration
and worship, all are adored and worshipped. The creatures worship their
Creator; and a man, him in whose image he was created, - namely, him
"from whom descendeth every good and perfect gift:" all this describing
God as God. Hence, -
    Secondly. When we begin our prayers to God the Father, and end
them in the name of Jesus Christ, yet the Son is no less invocated and
worshipped in the beginning than the Father, though he be peculiarly
mentioned as mediator in the close, - not as Son to himself, but as
Mediator to the whole Trinity, or God in Trinity. But in the invocation
of God the Father we invocate every person; because we invocate the
Father as God, every person being so.
    Thirdly. In that heavenly directory which we have, Eph. 2: 18,
this whole business is declared. Our access in our worship is said to
be "to the Father;" and this "through Christ," or his mediation; "by
the Spirit," or his assistance. Here is a distinction of the persons,
as to their operations, but not at all as to their being the object of
our worship. For the Son and the Holy Ghost are no less worshipped in
our access to God than the Father himself; only, the grace of the
Father, which we obtain by the mediation of the Son and the assistance
of the Spirit, is that which we draw nigh to God for. So that when, by
the distinct dispensation of the Trinity, and every person, we are led
to worship (that is, to act faith on or invocate) any person, we do
herein worship the whole Trinity; and every person, by what name
soever, of Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, we invocate him. So that this is
to be observed in this whole matter, - that when any work of the Holy
Ghost (or any other person), which is appropriated to him (we never
exclude the concurrence of other persons), draws us to the worship of
him, yet he is not worshipped exclusively, but the whole Godhead is
worshipped.
    Fourthly. These cautions being premised, I say that we are
distinctly to worship the Holy Ghost. As it is in the case of faith in
respect of the Father and the Son, John 14: 1, "Believe in God, believe
also in me," this extends itself no less to the Holy Ghost. Christ
called the disciples for the acting of faith on him, he being upon the
accomplishment of the great work of his mediation; and the Holy Ghost,
now carrying on the work of his delegation, requireth the same. And to
the same purpose are their distinct operations mentioned: "My Father
worketh hitherto, and I work." Now, as the formal reason of the worship
of the Son is not his mediation, but his being God (his mediation being
a powerful motive thereto), so the formal reason of our worshipping the
Holy Ghost is not his being our comforter, but his being God; yet his
being our comforter is a powerful motive thereunto.
    This is the sum of the first direction: - the grace, acting, love,
effects of the Holy Ghost, as he is our comforter, ought to stir us up
and provoke us to love, worship, believe in, and invocate him; - though
all this, being directed to him as God, is no less directed, on that
account, to the other persons than to him. Only by the fruits of his
love towards us are we stirred up unto it.
    These things being presupposed, let the saints learn to act faith
distinctly on the Holy Ghost, as the immediate efficient cause of all
the good things mentioned; - faith, I say, to believe in him; and faith
in all things to believe him and to yield obedience to him; faith, not
imagination. The distinction of the persons in the Trinity is not to be
fancied, but believed. So, then, the Scripture so fully, frequently,
clearly, distinctly ascribing the things we have been speaking of to
the immediate efficiency of the Holy Ghost, faith closes with him in
the truth revealed, and peculiarly regards him, worships him, serves
him, waits for him, prayeth to him, praiseth him; - all these things, I
say, the saints do in faith. The person of the Holy Ghost, revealing
itself in these operations and effects, is the peculiar object of our
worship. Therefore, when he ought to be peculiarly honoured, and is
not, he is peculiarly sinned against. Acts 5: 3, Ananias is said to lie
to the Holy Ghost, - not to God; which being taken essentially, would
denote the whole Trinity, but peculiarly to the Holy Ghost. Him he was
to have honoured peculiarly in that especial gift of his which he made
profession of; - not doing it, he sinned peculiarly against him. But
this must be a little farther branched into particulars: -
    Let us, then, lay weight on every effect of the Holy Ghost in any
of the particulars before mentioned, on this account, that they are
acts of his love and power towards us. This faith will do, that takes
notice of his kindness in all things. Frequently he performs, in sundry
particulars, the office of a comforter towards us, and we are not
thoroughly comforted, - we take no notice at all of what he does. Then
is he grieved. Of those who do receive and own the consolation he
tenders and administers, how few are there that consider him as the
comforter, and rejoice in him as they ought! Upon every work of
consolation that the believer receives, this ought his faith to resolve
upon, - "This is from the Holy Ghost; he is the Comforter, the God of
all consolation; I know there is no joy, peace, hope, nor comfort, but
what he works, gives, and bestows; and, that he might give me this
consolation, he has willingly condescended to this office of a
comforter. His love was in it, and on that account does he continue it.
Also, he is sent by the Father and Son for that end and purpose. By
this means come I to be partaker of my joy, - it is in the Holy Ghost;
of consolation, - he is the Comforter. What price, now, shall I set
upon his love! how shall I value the mercy that I have received!"
    This, I say, is applicable to every particular effect of the Holy
Ghost towards us, and herein have we communion and fellowship with him,
as was in part discovered in our handling the particulars. Does he shed
abroad the love of God in our hearts? does he witness unto our
adoption? The soul considers his presence, ponders his love, his
condescension, goodness, and kindness; is filled with reverence of him,
and cares [takes care] not to grieve him, and labours to preserve his
temple, his habitation, pure and holy.
    Again: our communion with him causeth in us returning praise, and
thanks, and honour, and glory, and blessing to him, on the account of
the mercies and privileges which we receive from him; which are many.
Herein consists our next direction. So do we with the Son of God on the
account of our redemption: "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from
our sins in his own blood, to him be glory and dominion for ever and
ever," Rev. 1: 5, 6. And are not the like praises and blessings due to
him by whom the work of redemption is made effectual to us? who with no
less infinite love undertook our consolation than the Son our
redemption. When we feel our hearts warmed with joy, supported in
peace, established in our obedience, let us ascribe to him the praise
that is due to him, bless his name, and rejoice in him.
    And this glorifying of the Holy Ghost in thanksgivings, on a
spiritual sense of his consolations, is no small part of our communion
with him. Considering his free engagement in this work, his coming
forth from the Father to this purpose, his mission by the Son, and
condescension therein, his love and kindness, the soul of a believer is
poured out in thankful praises to him, and is sweetly affected with the
duty. There is no duty that leaves a more heavenly savour in the soul
than this does.
    Also, in our prayers to him for the carrying on the work of our
consolation, which he has undertaken, lies our communion with him. John
prays for grace and peace from the seven Spirits that are before the
throne, or the Holy Ghost, whose operations are perfect and complete.
This part of his worship is expressly mentioned frequently in
Scripture; and all others do necessarily attend it. Let the saints
consider what need they stand in of these effects of the Holy Ghost
before mentioned, with many such others as might be insisted on; weigh
all the privileges which we are made partakers of; remember that he
distributes them as he will, that he has the sovereign disposal of
them; and they will be prepared for this duty.
    How and in what sense it is to be performed has been already
declared: what is the formal reason of this worship, and intimate
object of it, I have also manifested. In the duty itself is put forth
no small part of the life, efficacy, and vigour of faith; and we come
short of that enlargedness of spirit in dealing with God, and are
straitened from walking in the breadth of his ways, which we are called
unto, if we learn not ourselves to meet him with his worship in every
way he is pleased to communicate himself unto us. In these things he
does so in the person of the Holy Ghost. In that person do we meet him,
his love, grace, and authority, by our prayers and supplications.
    Again: consider him as he condescends to this delegation of the
Father and the Son to be our comforter, and ask him daily of the Father
in the name of Jesus Christ. This is the daily work of believers. They
look upon, and by faith consider, the Holy Ghost as promised to be
sent. In this promise, they know, lies all their grace, peace, mercy,
joy, and hope. For by him so promised, and him alone, are these things
communicated to them. If, therefore, our live to God, or the joy of
that life, be considerable, in this we are to abound, - to ask him of
the Father, as children do of their parents daily bread. And as, in
this asking and receiving of the Holy Ghost, we have communion with the
Father in his love, whence he is sent; and with the Son in his grace,
whereby he is obtained for us; so with himself, on the account of his
voluntary condescension to this dispensation. Every request for the
Holy Ghost implies our closing with all these. O the riches of the
grace of God!
    Humbling ourselves for our miscarriages in reference to him is
another part of our communion with him. That we have grieved him as to
his person, quenched him as to the motion of his grace, or resisted him
in his ordinances, is to be mourned for; as has been declared. Let our
souls be humbled before him on this account. This one considerable
ingredient of godly sorrow, and the thoughts of it, are as suitable to
the affecting of our hearts with humiliation, and indignation against
sin, as any other whatever. I might proceed in the like considerations;
as also make application of them to the particular effects of the Holy
Ghost enumerated; but my design is only to point out the heads of
things, and to leave them to the improvement of others.
    I shall shut up this whole discourse with some considerations of
the sad estate and condition of men not interested in this promise of
the Spirit, nor made partakers of his consolation: -
    1. They have no true consolation or comfort, be their estate and
condition what it will. Are they under affliction or in trouble? - they
must bear their own burden; and how much too weak they are for it, if
God be pleased to lay on his hand with more weight than ordinary, is
easily known. Men may have stoutness of spirit, and put on great
resolutions to wrestle with their troubles; but when this is merely
from the natural spirit of a man, -
    (1.) For the most part it is but an outside. It is done with
respect to others, that they may not appear low-spirited or dejected.
Their hearts are eaten up and devoured with troubles and anxiety of
mind. Their thoughts are perplexed, and they are still striving, but
never come to a conquest. Every new trouble, every little alteration in
their trials, puts them to new vexation. It is an ungrounded resolution
that bears them up, and they are easily shaken.
    (2.) What is the best of their resolves and enduring? It is but a
contending with God, who has entangled them, - the struggling of a flea
under a mountain. Yea, though, on outward considerations and
principles, they endeavour after patience and tolerance, yet all is but
a contending with God, - a striving to be quiet under that which God
has sent on purpose to disturb them. God does not afflict men without
the Spirit, to exercise their patience; but to disturb their peace and
security. All their arming themselves with patience and resolution, is
but to keep the hold that God will cast them out of, or else make them
the nearer to ruin. This is the best of their consolation in the time
of their trouble.
    (3.) If they do promise themselves any thing of the care of God
towards them, and relieve themselves thereby, - as they often do, on
one account or another, especially when they are driven from other
holds, - all their relief is but like the dreaming of an hungry man,
who supposeth that he eateth and drinketh, and is refreshed; but when
he awaketh, he is empty and disappointed. So are they as to all their
relief that they promise to receive from God, and the support which
they seem to have from him. When they are awaked at the latter day, and
see all things clearly, they will find that God was their enemy,
laughing at their calamity, and mocking when their fear was on them.
    So is it with them in trouble. Is it any better with them in their
prosperity? This, indeed, is often great, and is marvellously described
in Scripture, as to their lives, and oftentimes quiet, peaceable end.
But have they any true consolation all their days? They eat, drink,
sleep, and make merry, and perhaps heap up to themselves; but how
little do these things make them to differ from the beasts that perish!
Solomon's advantage, to have the use and know the utmost of these
things, much beyond any of the sons of men of our generation, is
commonly taken notice of. The account also that he gives of them is
known: "They are all vanity and vexation of spirit." This is their
consolation: - a crackling of thorns under the pot, a sudden flash and
blaze, that begins but to perish. So that both adversity- and
prosperity slayeth them; and whether they are laughing or crying, they
are still dying.
    2. They have no peace, - no peace with God, nor in their own
souls. I know that many of them, upon false bottoms, grounds, and
expectations, do make a shift to keep things in some quietness, neither
is it my business at present to discover the falseness and unsoundness
of it; but this is their state. True and solid peace being an effect of
the Holy Ghost in the hearts of believers (as has been declared), they
who are not made partakers of him have no such peace. They may cry,
"Peace, peace," indeed, when sudden destruction is at hand. The
principles of their peace (as may be easily evinced) are, darkness or
ignorance, treachery of conscience, self-righteousness, and vain hope.
To these heads may all the principles of their peace be reduced; and
what will these avail them in the day when the Lord shall deal with
them?
    3. I might say the same concerning their joy and hope; - they are
false and perishing. Let them, then, consider this, who have satisfied
themselves with a persuasion of their interest in the good things of
the gospel, and yet have despised the Spirit of Christ. I know there
are many that may pretend to him, and yet are strangers from his grace;
but if they perish who in profession use him kindly, and honour him, if
he dwell not in them with power, where shall they appear who oppose and
affront him? The Scripture tells us, that unless the Spirit of Christ
be in us, we are dead, we are reprobates, - we are none of Christ's.
Without him you can have none of those glorious effects of his towards
believers before mentioned; and you are so far from inquiring whether
he be in you or no, as that you are ready to deride them in whom he is.
Are there none who profess the gospel, who have never once seriously
inquired whether they are made partakers of the Holy Ghost or no? You
that almost account it a ridiculous thing to be put upon any such
question, who look on all men as vain pretenders that talk of the
Spirit, the Lord awake such men to a sight of their condition before it
be too late! If the Spirit dwell not in you, if he be not your
Comforter, neither is God your Father, nor the Son your Advocate, nor
have you any portion in the gospel. O that God would awake some poor
soul to the consideration of this thing, before the neglect and
contempt of the Holy Ghost come to that despising of him from which
there is no recovery! that the Lord would spread before them all the
folly of their hearts, that they may be ashamed and confounded, and do
no more presumptuously!
    
    End