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matter of what the Lord Christ here desires in the behalf of those given him by the Father; namely, that they may behold his glory.
It is evident, that in this prayer the Lord Christ hath respect unto his own glory, and the manifestation of it, which he had in the entrance asked of the Father, ver. 4, 5. But in this place he hath not so much respect unto it as his own, as unto the advantage, benefit, satisfaction, and blessedness of his disciples, in the beholding of it. For these things were the end of all that mediatory glory which was given unto him. So Joseph charged his brethren, when he had revealed himself unto them, that they should tell his father of all his glory in Egypt;' Gen. xlv. 13. This he did, not for an ostentation of his own glory, but for the satisfaction which he knew his father would take in the knowledge of it. And such a manifestation of his glory unto his disciples doth the Lord Christ here desire, as might fill them with blessed satisfaction for evermore.
This alone which is here prayed for, will give them such satisfaction, and nothing else. The hearts of believers are like the needle touched by the loadstone, which cannot rest until it comes to the point whereunto by the secret virtue of it, it is directed. For being once touched by the love of Christ, receiving therein an impression of secret ineffable virtue, they will ever be in motion, and restless, until they come unto him, and behold his glory. That soul which can be satisfied without it, that cannot be eternally satisfied with it, is not partaker of the efficacy of his intercession.
I shall lay the foundation of the ensuing meditations in this one assertion, namely, that one of the greatest privileges and advancements of believers, both in this world, and unto eternity, consists in their beholding the glory of Christ, This therefore he desires for them in this solemn intercession, as the complement of all his other requests in their behalf; 'that they may behold my glory.' "Iva Otwpwo, that they may see, view, behold, or contemplate on my glory. The reasons why I assign not this glorious privilege only unto the heavenly state, which is principally respected in this place, but apply it unto the state of believers in this world also, with their duties and privileges therein, shall be immediately declared.
All unbelievers do in their heart call Christ Ichabod ;'
'Where is the glory? They see neither form nor comeliness in him,' that he should be desired. They look on him as Michal, Saul's daughter, did on David dancing before the ark,' when she despised him in her heart. They do not indeed (many of them) call Jesus anathema,' but cry, Hail, Master,' and then crucify him.
Hence have we so many cursed opinions advanced in derogation unto his glory, some of them really destructive of all that is truly so; yea, denying the only Lord that bought us,' and substituting a false Christ in his room. And others there are who express their slight thoughts of him and his glory, by bold irreverent inquiries, of what use his person is in our religion; as though there were any thing in our religion, that hath either reality, substance, or truth, but by virtue of its relation thereunto. And by their answers, they bring their own inquiries yet nearer unto the borders of blasphemy.
Never was there an age since the name of Christians was known upon the earth, wherein there was such a direct opposition made unto the person and glory of Christ, as there is in that wherein we live. There were indeed in the first times of the church, swarms of proud, doting, brainsick persons, who vented many foolish imaginations about him, which issued at length in Arianism, in whose ruins they were buried. The gates of hell in them, prevailed not against the rock on which the church is built. But as it was said of Cæsar,Solus accessit sobrius, ad perdendam rempublicam;' He alone went soberly about the destruction of the commonwealth;' so we now have great numbers who oppose the person and glory of Christ, under a pretence of sobriety of reason, as they vainly plead. Yea, the disbelief of the mysteries of the Trinity, and the incarnation of the Son of God, the sole foundation of Christian religion, is so diffused in the world, as that it hath almost devoured the power and vitals of it. And not a few, who dare not yet express their minds, do give broad intimations of their intentions and good will towards him, in making them the object of their scorn and reproach, who desire to know nothing but him, and him crucified.
God in his appointed time will effectually vindicate his honour and glory, from the vain attempts of men of corrupt minds against them.
In the mean time, it is the duty of all those who love
the Lord Jesus in sincerity,' to give testimony in a peculiar manner unto his divine person and glory, according unto their several capacities, because of the opposition that is made against them.
I have thought myself on many accounts obliged to cast my mite into this treasury. And I have chosen so to do, not in a way of controversy (which formerly I have engaged in), but so, as together with the vindication of the truth, to promote the strengthening of the faith of true believers, their edification in the knowledge of it; and to express the experience which they have, or may have, of the power and reality of these things.
That which at present I design to demonstrate is, that the beholding of the glory of Christ, is one of the greatest privileges and advancements that believers are capable of in this world, or that which is to come. It is that whereby they are first gradually conformed unto it, and then fixed in the eternal enjoyment of it. For here in this life, beholding his glory, they are changed or transformed into the likeness of it,' 2 Cor. iii. 18. and hereafter, they shall be for ever like unto him,' because they shall see him as he is;' 1 John iii. 1, 2. Hereon do our present comforts, and future blessedness depend. This is the life and reward of our souls. He that hath seen him, hath seen the Father also ;' John xiv. 9. For we discern the light of the knowledge of God, only in the face of Jesus Christ;' 2 Cor iv. 6.
There are, therefore, two ways or degrees of beholding the glory of Christ, which are constantly distinguished in the Scripture. The one is by faith in this world, which is the evidence of things not seen; the other is by sight, or immediate vision in eternity. 2 Cor. v. 7. We walk by faith and not by sight.' We do so whilst we are in this world, whilst we are present in the body, and absent from the Lord;' ver. 8. But we shall live and walk by sight hereafter. And it is the Lord Christ and his glory, which are the immediate object both of this faith and sight. For we here 'behold him darkly in a glass' (that is, by faith), 'but we shall see him face to face' (by immediate vision). Now we know him in part: but then we shall know him as we are known; 1 Cor. xiii. 12. What is the difference between these two ways of beholding the glory of Christ, shall be afterward declared.
It is the first way, namely, by vision in the light of glory that is principally included in that prayer of our blessed Saviour, that his disciples may be where he is, to behold his glory.' But, I shall not confine my inquiry thereunto; nor doth our Lord Jesus exclude from his desire, that sight of his glory which we have by faith in this world; but prays for the perfection of it in heaven. It is therefore the first way, that in the first place I shall insist upon, and that for the reasons ensuing.
1. No man shall ever behold the glory of Christ by sight hereafter, who doth not in some measure behold it by faith here in this world; grace is a necessary preparation for glory, and faith for sight. Where the subject, the soul, is not previously seasoned with grace and faith, it is not capable of glory, or vision. Nay, persons not disposed hereby unto it, cannot desire it, whatever they pretend; they only deceive their own souls, in supposing that so they do. Most men will say with confidence, living and dying, 'that they desire to be with Christ, and to behold his glory;' but they can give no reason, why they should desire any such thing; only they think it somewhat that is better than to be in that evil condition which otherwise they must be cast into for ever, when they can be here no more. If a man pretend himself to be enamoured on, or greatly to desire, what he never saw, nor was ever represented unto him, he doth but dote on his own imaginations. And the pretended desires of many, to behold the glory of Christ in heaven, who have no view of it by faith whilst they are here in this world, are nothing but self-deceiving imaginations.
So do the Papists delude themselves. Their carnal affections are excited by their outward senses, to delight in images of Christ, in his sufferings, his resurrection, and glory above. Hereon they satisfy themselves, that they behold the glory of Christ himself, and that with love and great delight. But whereas there is not the least true representation made of the Lord Christ, or his glory, in these things, that being confined absolutely unto the gospel alone, and this way of attempting it being laid under a severe interdict, they do but sport themselves with their own deceivings.
The apostle tells us concerning himself, and other believers, when the Lord Christ was present, and conversed
with them in the days of his flesh, that they saw his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth;' John i. 14. And we may inquire, what was this glory of Christ, which they so saw, and by what means they obtained a prospect of it? For 1. It was not the glory of his outward condition, as we behold the glory and grandeur of the kings and potentates of the earth; for he made himself of no reputation, but being in the form of a servant, he walked in the condition of a man of low degree. The secular grandeur of his pretended vicar, makes no representation of that glory of his, which his disciples saw. He kept no court, nor house of entertainment, nor (though he made all things) had of his own where to lay his head. Nor 2. Was it with respect to the outward form of the flesh which he was made, wherein he took our nature on him, as we see the glory of a comely or beautiful person; for he had therein neither form nor comeliness, that he should be desired, 'his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men ;' Isa. lii. 14. liii. 2, 3. All things appeared in him as became a man of sorrows.' Nor 3. Was it absolutely the eternal essential glory of his divine nature, that is intended. For this no man can see in this world. What we shall attain in a view thereof hereafter, we know not. But 4. It was his glory, as he was full of grace and truth.' They saw the glory of his person and his office in the administration of grace and truth. And how, or by what means, did they see this glory of Christ? It was by faith, and no otherwise. For this privilege was granted unto them only who received him, and believed on his name;' ver. 12. This was that glory which the Baptist saw, when upon his coming unto him he said unto all that were present, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world ;' John i. 29-33.
Wherefore, let no man deceive himself: he that hath no sight of the glory of Christ here, shall never have any of it hereafter unto his advantage. It is not therefore unto edification, to discourse of beholding the glory of Christ in heaven by vision, until we go through a trial, whether we see any thing of it in this world by faith or no.
2. The beholding of Christ in glory, is that which in itself is too high, illustrious, and marvellous for us in our