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an ebb, as unto the powers of a heavenly life, and spiritual joys.
Did we abound in this duty, in this exercise of faith, our life in walking before God would be more sweet and pleasant unto us; our spiritual light and strength would have a daily increase; we should more represent the glory of Christ in our ways and walking, than usually we do; and death itself would be most welcome unto us.
The angels themselves desire to look into the things of the glory of Christ; 1 Pet. i. 10. 12. There is in them matter of inquiry and instruction for the most high and holy spirits in heaven. The manifold wisdom of God in them is made known unto principalities and powers in heavenly places by the church;' Eph. iii. 10. And shall we neglect that which is the object of angelical diligence to inquire into; especially considering that we are more than they concerned in it?
Is Christ then thus glorious in our eyes? Do we see the Father in him, or by seeing of him? Do we sedulously, daily contemplate on the wisdom, love, grace, goodness, holiness, and righteousness of God, as revealing and manifesting themselves in him? Do we sufficiently consider, that the immediate vision of this glory in heaven will be our everlasting blessedness? Doth the imperfect view which we have of it here, increase our desires after the perfect sight of it above? With respect unto these inquiries, I shall briefly speak unto sundry sorts of men.
Some will say they understand not these things, nor any concernment of their own in them. If they are true, yet are they notions which they may safely be without the knowledge of; for so far as they can discern, they have no influence on Christian practice, or duties of morality. And the preaching of them doth but take off the minds of men from more necessary duties. But if the gospel be hid, it is hid unto them that perish.' And unto the objection I say,
1. Nothing is more fully and clearly revealed in the gospel, than that unto us Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God;' that he is the character of the person of the Father, so as that in seeing him, we see the Father also; that we have the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in his face' alone, as hath been proved. This is the principal fundamental mystery and truth of the gospel; and which, if it be not received, believed, owned, all other truths are useless unto our souls. To refer all the testimonies that are given hereunto, to the doctrine which he taught, in contradistinction unto his person as acting in the discharge of his office, is antievangelical, antichristian, turning the whole gospel into a fable.
2. It is so, that the light of faith is given unto us principally to enable us to behold the glory of God in Christ; to contemplate on it, as unto all the ends of its manifestation. So is it expressly affirmed, 2 Cor. iv. 6. If we have not this light, as it is communicated by the power of God unto them that do believe, Eph. i. 17-19. we must be strangers unto the whole mystery of the gospel; 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.
3. That in the beholding of the glory of God in Christ, we behold his glory also. For herein is he infinitely glorious above the whole creation, in that in and by him alone the glory of the invisible God is represented unto us. Herein do our souls live. This is that whereby the image of God is renewed in us, and we are made like unto the firstborn.
4. This is so far from being unnecessary unto Christian practice, and the sanctified duties of morality, that he knows not Christ, he knows not the gospel, he knows not the faith of the Catholic church, who imagines that they can be performed acceptably without it. Yea, this is the root whence all other Christian duties do spring, and whereon they grow, whereby they are distinguished from the works of heathens. He is no Christian who believes not that faith in the person of Christ is the spring of all evangelical obedience; or who knows not that faith respects the revelation of the glory of God in him.
If these things are so, as they are the most important truths of the gospel, and whose denial overthrows the foundation of faith, and is ruinous to Christian religion, certainly it is our duty to live in the constant exercise of faith with respect unto this glory of Christ. And we have sufficient experience of what kind of morality the ignorance of it hath produced.
Others there are who may be some way strangers, but are no way enemies unto this mystery, and to the practical exercise of faith therein: unto such I shall tender the ensuing directions.
1. Reckon in your minds, that this beholding of the glory of Christ by beholding the glory of God, and all his holy properties in him, is the greatest privilege whereof in this life we can be made partakers. The dawning of heaven is in it, and the first-fruits of glory; for this is life eternal to know the Father, and whom he hath sent, Christ Jesus; John xvii. 3. Unless you value it, unless you esteem it as such a privilege, you will not enjoy it; and that which is not valued according unto its worth, is despised. It is not enough to think it a privilege, an advantage; but it is to be valued above other things according unto its greatness and excellency. Destruction and death say, we have heard the fame of it with our ears;' Job xxviii. 22. And if we do no more, we shall die strangers unto it; we are to cry after this knowledge, and lift up our voice for this understanding,' if we design to attain it.
2. As it is a great privilege which requires a due valuation, so it is a great mystery which requires much spiritual wisdom to the right understanding of it, and to direct in its practice; 1 Cor. ii. 4, 5. Flesh and blood will not reveal it unto us, but we must be taught of God, to apprehend it; John i. 12, 13. Matt. xvi. 16, 17. Mere unsanctified reason will never enable us unto, nor guide us in, the discovery of this duty. Men are not so vain as to hope for skill and understanding in the mystery of a secular art or trade, without the diligent use of those means whereby it may be attained; and shall we suppose that we may be furnished with spiritual skill and wisdom in this sacred mystery, without diligence in the use of the means appointed of God for the attaining of it? The principal of them is fervent prayer. Pray then with Moses, that God would' shew you this his glory;' pray with the apostle, that the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened to behold it;' pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. Fill your minds with spiritual thoughts and contrivances about them. Slothful and lazy souls never obtain
one view of this glory; the lion in the way' deters them from attempting it. Being carnal they abhor all diligence in the use of spiritual means, such as prayer and meditation on things unto them uneasy, unpleasing, and difficult. Unto others the way partakes of the nature of the end; the means of obtaining a view of the glory of Christ are of the same kind, of the same pleasantness, with that view itself in their proportion.
3. Learn the use hereof from the actings of contrary vicious habits. When the minds of men are vehemently fixed on the pursuit of their lusts, they will be continually ruminating on the objects of them, and have a thousand contrivances about them, until their eyes become full of an adulteress, and they cannot cease from sinning,' as the apostle speaks. The objects of their lusts have framed and raised an image of themselves in their minds, and transformed them into their own likeness. Is this the way of them who' go down to the chambers of death?' Do they thus frame their souls, and make them meet for destruction, until their words, gestures, actions, proclaim the frame of their minds unto all that look upon them? And shall we be slothful and negligent in the contemplation of that glory which transforms our minds into its own likeness, so as that the eyes of our understandings shall be continually filled with it, until we see him and behold him continually, so as never to cease from the holy acts of delight in him, and love unto him?
4. Would we then behold the glory of God as he manifesteth it in and by the holy properties of his nature, with their blessed operations and effects, without which we have nothing of the power of religion in us, whatever we pretend; this alone is the way of it. Go to the whole creation and all things contained in it; they can say no more, but we have heard the fame and report of these things,' and what we have heard we declare; but it is but a little portion of them that we are acquainted withal. The heavens' indeed ' declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work. The invisible things of God are understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.' But comparatively, it is but little that we can hence learn of these things, as unto that we may behold of them in Christ Jesus. How blind herein was the best philo
sopher in comparison of the meanest of the apostles, yea, of him who is least in the kingdom of heaven?
But herein it is required, that we rest not in the notion of this truth, and a bare assent unto the doctrine of it. The affecting power of it upon our hearts, is that which we should aim at. Wherein doth the blessedness of the saints above consist? Is it not herein, that they behold and see the glory of God in Christ? And what is the effect of it upon those blessed souls? Doth it not change them into the same image, or make them like unto Christ? Doth it not fill and satiate them with joy, rest, delight, complacency, and ineffable satisfaction? Do we expect, do we desire, the same state of blessedness? It is our present view of the glory of Christ which is our initiation thereinto, if we are exercised in it, until we have an experience of its transforming power in our souls.
These things are, it may be, of little use unto some. Such as are babes in spiritual knowledge and understanding, either because they are carnal, 1 Cor. iii. 1, 2. or slothful in hearing, Heb. v. 12-14. are not capable of these divine mysteries. And therefore, the apostle did in an especial manner declare this wisdom of God in a mystery unto them that were perfect; 1 Cor. ii. 6, 7. that is, who were more grown in spiritual knowledge, and had their senses exercised to discern good and evil.' It is unto them who are exercised in the contemplation of invisible things, who delight to walk in the more retired paths of faith and love, to whom they are precious.
Some few inferences from the whole of what hath been declared, shall put a close to this part of our discourse.
1. The holy properties of the divine nature are not only represented unto our faith in Christ, as unto their own essential glory, but as they are in the exercise of their powers for the salvation of the church. In him do we behold the wisdom, goodness, love, grace, mercy, and power of God, acting themselves in the contrivance, constitution, and efficacious accomplishment of the great work of our redemption and salvation. This gives, as unto us, an unutterable lustre unto the native amiableness of the divine excellencies. The wisdom and love of God are in themselves infinitely glorious, infinitely amiable; nothing can be added unto them,