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Unto whom we betake ourselves for relief in any case, we have regard to nothing but their will and their power. If they have both, we are sure of relief. And what shall we fear in the will of Christ as unto this end? What will he not do for us? He who thus emptied and humbled himself, who so infinitely condescended from the prerogative of his glory in his being and self-sufficiency, in the susception of our nature for the discharge of the office of a mediator on our behalf; will he not relieve us in all our distresses? Will he not do all for us we stand in need of, that we may be eternally saved ? Will he not be a sanctuary unto us?
Nor have we hereon any ground to fear his power; for by this infinite condescension to be a suffering man, he lost nothing of his power as God omnipotent; nothing of his infinite wisdom or glorious grace. He could still do, all that he could do as God from eternity. If there be any thing therefore in a coalescency of infinite power, with infinite condescension, to constitute a sanctuary for distressed sinners, it is all in Christ Jesus. And if we see him not glorious herein, it is because there is no light of faith in us.
This then is the rest wherewith we may cause the weary to rest, and this is the refreshment. Herein is he'a hidingplace from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, and as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.' Hereon he says, ' I have satiated the weary soul, and have refreshed every sorrowful soul.' Under this consideration it is, that in all evangelical promises and invitations for coming to him, he is proposed unto distressed sinners, as their only sanctuary.
Herein is he 'a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence unto the unbelieving and disobedient, who stumble at the word.' They cannot, they will not, see the glory of this condescension ; they neither desire nor labour so to do; yea, they hate it and despise it. Christ in it is 'a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence' unto them. Wherefore they choose rather utterly to deny his divine person, than allow that he did thus abase himself for our sakes. Rather than they will own this glory, they will allow him no glory. A man they say he was, and no more, and this was his glory. This is that principle of darkness aņd unbelief, which works effectually at this day in the minds of many. They think
it an absurd thing, as the Jews did of old, that he being a man, should be God also; or, on the other hand, that the Son of God should thus condescend to take our nature on him. This they can see no glory in, no relief, no refuge, no refreshment unto their souls in any of their distresses: therefore do they deny his divine person. Here faith triumphs against them; it finds that to be a glorious sanctuary, which they cannot at all discern.
But it is not so much the declaration or vindication of this glory of Christ which I am at present engaged in, as an exhortation unto the practical contemplation of it in a way of believing. And I know that among many this is too much neglected; yea, of all the evils which I have seen in the days of my pilgrimage now drawing to their close, there is none so grievous as the public contempt of the principal mysteries of the gospel among them that are called Christians. Religion in the profession of some men is withered in its vital principles, weakened in its nerves and sinews, but thought to be put off with outward gaiety and bravery.
But my exhortation is unto diligence in the contemplation of this glory of Christ, and the exercise of our thoughts about it. Unless we are diligent herein, it is impossible we should be steady in the principal acts of faith, or ready unto the principal duties of obedience. The principal act of faith respects the divine person of Christ, as all Christians must acknowledge. This we can never secure (as hath been declared) if we see not his glory in this condescension : and whoever reduceth his notions unto experience, will find that herein his faith stands or falls. And the principal duty of our obedience is self-denial, with readiness for the cross. Hereunto the consideration of this condescension of Christ is the principal evangelical motive, and that whereinto our obedience in it is to be resolved, as the apostle declares, Phil. ii. 5–7. And no man doth deny himself in a due manner, who doth it not on the consideration of the selfdenial of the Son of God. But a prevalent motive this is thereunto. For what are the things wherein we are to deny ourselves, or forego what we pretend to have a right unto ? It is in our goods, our liberties, our relations, our lives. And what are they, any, or all of them, in themselves, or unto us, considering our condition, and the end for which
we were made? Perishing things, which, whether we will or no, within a few days death will give us an everlasting separation from. Things under the power of a fever or an asthma, &c. as unto our interest in them. But how incomparable with respect hereunto is that condescension of Christ, whereof we have given an account? If therefore we find an unwillingness in us, a tergiversation in our minds about these things when called unto them in a way of duty, one view by faith of the glory of Christ in this condescension, and what he parted from therein, when he made himself of no reputation,' will be an effectual cure of that sinful distemper.
Herein then, I say, we may by faith behold the glory of Christ, as we shall do it by sight hereafter. If we see no glory in it, if we discern not that which is matter of eternal admiration, we walk in darkness. It is the most ineffable effect of divine wisdom and grace. Where are our hearts and minds, if we can see no glory in it? I know in the contemplation of it, it will quickly overwhelm our reason, and bring our understanding into a loss : but unto this loss do I desire to be brought every day; for when faith can no more act itself in comprehension, when it finds the object it is fixed on, too great and glorious to be brought into our minds and capacities, it will issue (as we said before) in holy admiration, humble adoration, and joyful thanksgiving. In and by its actings in them, doth it fill the soul with joy unspeakable and full of glory.'
The glory of Christ in his love. In the susception and discharge of the mediatory office by the Son of God, the Scripture doth most eminently represent his love, as the sole impelling and leading cause thereof, Gal. ii. 20. 1 John iii. 16. Rev. i. 5.
Herein is he glorious, in a way and manner incomprehensible; for in the glory of divine love, the chief brightness of glory doth consist. There is nothing of dread or terror ac
companying it, nothing but what is amiable and infinitely refreshing. Now that we may take a view of the glory of Christ herein by faith, the nature of it must be inquired into.
1. The eternal disposing cause of the whole work wherein the Lord Christ was engaged by the susception of this office, for the redemption and salvation of the church, is the love of the Father. Hereunto it is constantly ascribed in the Scripture. And this love of the Father acted itself in his eternal decrees, before the foundation of the world, Eph. i. 4. and afterward in the sending of his Son to render it effectual; John iii. 16. Originally, it is his eternal election of a portion of mankind to be brought unto the enjoyment of himself, through the mystery of the blood of Christ, and the sanctification of the Spirit; 2 Thess. ii. 13. 16. Eph. i. 449. 1 Pet. i. 2.
This eternal act of the will of God the Father, doth not contain in it an actual approbation of, and complacency in, the state and condition of those that are elected; but only designeth that for them on the account whereof they shall be accepted and approved. And it is called his love on sundry accounts.
1. Because it is an act suited unto that glorious excellency of his nature, wherein he is love; for God is love ;' 1 John iv. 8, 9. And the first egress of the divine properties must therefore be in an act of communicative love. And whereas this election being an eternal act of the will of God, can have no moving cause but what is in himself; if we could look into all the treasures of the divine excellencies, we should find none whereunto it could be so properly ascribed, as unto love. Wherefore,
2. It is styled love, because it was free and undeserved, as unto any thing on our part. For whatever good is done unto any altogether undeserved, if it be with a design of their profit and advantage, it is an act of love, and can have no other cause. So is it with us in respect of eternal election. There was nothing in us, nothing foreseen, as that which from ourselves would be in us, that should any way move the will of God unto this election : for whatever is good in the best of men is an effect of it; Eph. i. 4. Whereas therefore it tends unto our eternal good, the spring of it must be love. And,
3. The fruits or effects of it are inconceivable acts of love. It is by multiplied acts of love, that it is made effectual ; John iii. 16. Jer. xxxi. 5. Eph. i.3–6. 1 John iv. 8, 9. 16.
This is the eternal spring which is derived unto the church, through the mediation of Christ. Wherefore, that which put all the design of this eternal love of the Father into execution, and wrought out the accomplishment of it, was the love of the Son, which we inquire after; and light may be given unto it in the ensuing observations.
1. The whole number or society of the elect, were creatures made in the image of God, and thereby in a state of love with him. All that they were, had, or hoped for, were effects of divine goodness and love. And the life of their souls was love unto God. And a blessed state it was, preparatory for the eternal life of love in heaven.
2. From this state they fell by sin, into a state of enmity with God; which is comprehensive of all miseries, temporal and eternal.
3. Notwithstanding this woful catastrophe of our first state, yet our nature on many accounts was recoverable unto the enjoyment of God, as I have at large elsewhere declared.
4. In this condition, the first act of love in Christ towards us, was in pity and compassion. A creature made in the image of God, and fallen into misery, yet capable of recovery, is the proper object of divine compassion. That which is so celebrated in the Scripture, as the bowels, the pity, the compassion of God, is the acting of divine love towards us, on the consideration of our distress and misery. But all compassion ceaseth towards them whose condition is irrecoverable. Wherefore, the Lord Christ pitied not the angels that fell, because their nature was not to be relieved. Of this compassion in Christ, see Heb. ii. 14-16. Isa. lxiii. 9.
5. As then we lay under the eye of Christ in our misery, we were the objects of his pity and compassion; but as he looketh on us as recoverable out of that state, his love worketh in and by delight. It was an inconceivable delight