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MEDITATIONS AND DISCOURSES
GLORY OF CHRIST,
PERSON, OFFICE, AND GRACE:
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FAITH AND SIGHT; APPLIED UNTO THE USE OF THEM THAT BELIEVE.
PREFACE TO THE READER.
THE design of the ensuing Discourse, is to declare some part of that glory of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is revealed in the Scripture, and proposed as the principal object of our faith, love, delight, and admiration. But alas! after our utmost and most diligent inquiries, we must say, how little a portion is it of him that we can understand! His glory is incomprehensible, and his praises are unutterable. Some things an illuminated mind may conceive of it; but what we can express in comparison of what it is in itself, is even less than nothing. But as for those who have forsaken the only true guide herein, endeavouring to be wise above what is written, and to raise their contemplations by fancy and imagination above Scripture revelation (as many have done), they have darkened counsel without knowledge, uttering things which they understand not, which have no substance or spiritual food of faith in them.
Howbeit, that real view which we may have of Christ and his glory in this world by faith, however weak and obscure that knowledge which we may attain of them by divine revelation, is inexpressibly to be preferred above all other wisdom, understanding, or knowledge whatever. So it is declared by him, who will be acknowledged a competent judge in these things; 'Yea doubtless' (saith he), 'I account
all these things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.' He who doth not so, hath no part in him.
The revelation made of Christ in the blessed gospel, is far more excellent, more glorious, and more filled with rays of divine wisdom and goodness, than the whole creation; and the just comprehension of it, if attainable, can contain or afford. Without the knowledge hereof, the mind of man, however priding itself in other inventions and discoveries, is wrapped up in darkness and confusion.
This, therefore, deserves the severest of our thoughts, the best of our meditations, and our utmost diligence in them. For if our future blessedness shall consist in being where he is, and beholding of his glory; what better preparation can there be for it, than in a constant previous contemplation of that glory in the revelation that is made in the gospel, unto this very end, that by a view of it, we may be gradually transformed into the same glory.
I shall not, therefore, use any apology for the publishing of the ensuing meditations, intended first for the exercise of my own mind, and then for the edification of a private congregation, which is like to be the last service I shall do them in that kind. Some may by the consideration of them be called to attend unto the same duty with more diligence than formerly, and receive directions for the discharge of it; and some may be provoked to communicate their greater light and knowledge unto the good of many. And that which I design farther in the present Discourse, is to give a brief account of the necessity and use, in life and death, of the duty exhorted unto.
Particular motives unto the diligent discharge of this duty, will be pressed in the Discourse itself. Here some things more general only shall be premised.
For all persons not immersed in sensual pleasures, not overdrenched in the love of this world, and present things, who have any generous or noble thoughts about their own nature, being, and end, are under the highest obligation to betake themselves unto this contemplation of Christ and his glory. Without this they shall never attain true rest or satisfaction in their own minds. He it is alone in whom the race of mankind may boast and glory, on whom all its felicities do depend. For,
1. He it is in whom our nature, which was debased as low as hell by apostacy from God, is exalted above the whole creation. Our nature, in the original constitution of it, in the persons of our first parents, was crowned with honour and dignity. The image of God wherein it was made, and the dominion over the lower world wherewith it was intrusted, made it the seat of excellency, of beauty, and of glory. But of them all it was at once divested and made naked by sin, and laid grovelling in the dust from whence it was taken. Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return,' was its righteous doom. And all its internal faculties were invaded by deformed lusts; every thing that might render the whole unlike unto God, whose image it had lost. Hence it became the contempt of angels, the dominion of Satan, who being the enemy of the whole creation, never had any thing or place to reign in, but the debased nature of man. Nothing was now more vile and base, its glory was utterly departed. It had both lost its peculiar nearness unto God, which was its honour, and was fallen into the greatest distance from him of all creatures, the devils only excepted, which was its ignominy and shame. And in this state, as unto any thing in itself, it was left to perish eternally.