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1. The first thing is, to speak a little of the light of a lin. ner to Christ, the Saviour.
1, Then, This flight supposes that some spiritual life and sentation is given to the finner; for there can be no flying without life. The finner is by nature dead in fin, legally dead, and spiritually dead ; Eph. ii. 1. “You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespalles and fins.” The Spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus enters into the dead soul, and quick. ens, and gives it at least a sensation of its case, otherwise there can be no flying to Christ.
2dly, This flight supposes or implies an apprehension and fear of danger from a pursuing enemy. The poor soul is made to see danger from the broken law, danger from the sword of justice, the avenger of blood, and thereupon he falls a-trembling, like the jailor, “Sirs, what mult I do to be saved," &c.
3dly, This flight of the soul to Christ implies a renunciation of relief from these lying refuges, in which it had formerly been trusting. The man, in flying to Christ, renounces an empty profession, his common gifts, his common graces; his gospel advances, his law works, his own holiness and righteousness, his tears and prayers; his righteousness cannot profit him, therefore he cries out, “ Alhur 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,” Hof. xii. 3. “ In vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from the multitude of moun. tains ; truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of his people."
4thly, It implies a discovery and uptaking of Christ, and of his salvation, as he is held out in the gospel. A beam of divine light thines into the heart, " even the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face (or person) of Jesus Christ,” whereby the man sees him to be indeed what the gospel represents him to be, a nonsuch and incomparable Saviour; one that is the “Man of God's right hand,” Psal. lxxx. 17.; "the Man who is God's fellow,” Zech. xiii. 7. and therefore mighty to save, &c.
5thly, This flight of the foul to Christ implies the foul's hearty approbation of Christ, and of the way of salvation through Christ, as an ordinance of God calculate for his glory, as well as for his own safety and happiness. O, says the man, “ It is indeed a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to fave fitiners." I see this method of salvation through the new and
living way to be every way worthy of the wisdom of God; and calculate for the manifestation of the glory of his holiness; justice, sovereignty, faithfulness, and every other attribute of God, that was lesed by the sin of man: Therefore the man approves of it with his soul, and blesses God that ever found out such a device, &c.
6thly, This flight has in it a strong and ardent desire to be at this Saviour, and to be found in him. “O that I knew where I might find him !" O to be washed with his blood, clothed with his righteousness, fanctified by his Spirit!“ Yea, doubtless (fays Paul), I count all things but loss, that I may win Chrift, and be found in him," &c.
7thly, It implies a hope of winning him, and of being sheltered and saved in him ; for, if there be no hope of safety, the man will never flee, and this hope is founded upon the design of the incarnation, &c. the design of the revelation of him in the word, &c. the gracious grant made of him in the word, &c. the free promise of life and pardon through him, &c. the calls, and offers, and commands of God to come to him, and the redemption that others have met with, ecc.
8thly, A refting and trusting in him, and in him alone, for righteousness, life, peace, pardon, and salvation, to himself in particular. The man does not fimply believe that Christ is a Saviour, and that salvation is to be had in him for the elect, or for believers, but he believes in him and on him for his own salvation, Acts xv. 11. “ We believe (or we are persuaded), that, through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we thall be saved even as they." We find faith or trust in fcrip ture commonly expressed in words of appropriation and application. The man looks upon Christ as given and offered by God in the gospel; and he says, with Thomas, “ My Lord, and my God;" or with Paul, “ He ioved me, and gave
him. self for me; he is our Lord Jesus Christ.” He looks to the God and Father of Christ, and says, “ He is my God, and my Father, and the Rock of my falvation,” &c. He looks to the covenant of grace and promise sealed with a Redeemer's blood, and cries with David, “This is all my falvation, that he has (in Christ, made or established) with nie an ever. latting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure." I own indeed that this applying faith is not alike itrong in all believers, or yet alike ftrong in the self fame believer at all times; for fad experience makes it evident, that the confidence of faith may be fadly thaken and staggered through unbelief, temptation, and defertion, as to cry out some times, “Is his mercy clean gone? Hath God forgotten to be gracious; I am cast
ofit of his fight.” But then it would be remembered, that although these fits, fears, and staggerings, be in the believer,
they are not in his faith, yea, his faith is opposite unto these e doubts and fears, and is still fighting against them, "Why are
ye fearful, O ye of little faith: Fear not, only believe.” And in as far as faith gets the mastery over these doubts and fears, so farwillhe have of this confidence, as to his own particular claim. Let faith get up its head, and it will speak its own particular leed *, “ Abba, Father, doubtless thou art our Father, and our Redeemer, and thy name is from everlasting.” Thus you see what this flight is.
II. The second thing in the method, is to speak a little to the manner of the soul's flight unto Chrift. And this is held out here in the text, under a twofold metaphor: ijt, They fly as a cloud. 2dly, They fly as doves to their windows.
ist, They are here said to fly as a cloud: Take this in the particulars following.
1. This points to the multitude of these that should be converted to the faith of Christ, under the New Testament dispensation: For we find a cloud is sometimes expressive of a multitude, Heb. xii. 1. “ Seeing we are compaffed about with so great a cloud of witnesses," i.e. such a great multitude of them, let us Jay aside every weight, &c. So here, Who are these that fly as a cloud? It says, that as there are innumerable drops of rain, or particles of mist and vapours in a cloud ; so under the New Testament, there would be vast numbers and innumerable multitudes, that would take a flight by faith, unto Chrift, Rev. vii. We shall find, according to the calculation there made, that under the Old Testament they could be summed up; and they are reckoned in whole, out of all the tribes of Ifrael, to be " a hundred and forty-four thousand.” But when he comes to speak of the converts among other nations, they are called "an innumerable company which no man can num, ber,” ver. 9. This was what the prophet Isaiah foresaw in the verse immediately preceding my text; and likewise, chap. liv. 1. “ Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear, break forth into singing, and cry aloud thou that didît not travail with child : for more are the children of the defolate, than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord.” ( what a cloud of saints have gone away to heaven since the gospel came to be preached among the Gentiles ? And what a cloud of them have gone to heaven out of Scotland, since about two hundred years after the death of Christ, when the gospel came first to be preached among us? It is a lad matter that there Vol. II1.
should Its specific languages or proper and native dialect,
should be so few in this generation, in comparison of whai was in former days, when the Spirit was poured out from on high! though, blessed be God, there is a pretty good number, though few, few, in respect of these that are posting to hell.
2. They fly as a cloud. It may lignify the unanimity of these converts; they take all one way, like a cloud flying along the heavens; they are all joined unto one Head Christ Jesus; they are all knit together in one bond of Christian love; they are all acted by the same Spirit of God and of glory resting on them; they are all clothed with the same robes of imputed and inherent righteousness; they have all one character, they are all heirs of the same inheritance, and they all travel in the same road, the “ strait and narrow way that leads unto everlasting life."
3. The cloud flees upon the wings of the wind, and what airth foever the wind carries them, thither do they go. So all believers are acted, moved, and carried or in their course, by the wind of the influences of the Spirit. When the wind blows, then the clouds accelerate their motion. Just so is it with the believer : If the Spirit be suspended, they lie like a ship wirid-bound, they cannot move ; but whenever the gale of the heavenly wind blows, then they run the way of God's commandments ; hence is that prayer of the spouse, Cant. iv. last, « Awake, O north wind, and come, thou south ; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out." I was by a gust of this heavenly wind, that the church was
“ Ere ever I was aware, my soul made me as the chariots of Amminədib," &c.
4. They fly as a cloud. It says, that there is much of the sovereignty of God, and of the irresistability of his grace, in the Slight of a finner unto Christ. The.clouds are said to be God's chariots, and God's chariot cannot be stopped or hindered in its motion, “ Who can hinder the motion of the cloud along the heavens ?" No, not all the powers of hell and earth can hinder it: So the work of divine grace in bringing a finnst out of a state of nature into grace; it is the fruit of adorable sovereignty, and he will go on with his work, let devils and men rage, and corruption within do their uttermoft to mar and hinder his procedure. "I will take away the stony heart, and I will give the heart of flesh. And who liath refifted his will ?" His own arr., that brought about salvation, in a way of purchase, until he could say, “ It is finished,” will also carry it on in a way of powerful application ; “ Thy people thall be willing in the day of thy power: all that the Father giveth me, Ihall come to me.” The work cannot be let which he
made to cry,
takes in hand, for the Lord “is a rock, and his work is per5. fect."
5. Who are these that fly as a cloud ? It implies, that God's work of grace is of a secret and mysterious nature. It is usual in fcripture to express dark and mysterious dispeníations by a cloud, “ clouds and darkness were round about him," i.e. his dispensations were mysterious. So here, Who are these that Ay as a cloud ? i. e. it is wonderful and mysterious to see how the Lord brings the finner to take a flight into Chriit by faith; God's way in this is a great deep that cannot be searched out: Hence is that of Christ to Nicodemus, John iii. 8. “ The wind bloweth where it listech, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but cant not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth,” &c.
6. The clouds are exhaled out of the earth by the heat of the fun, and raised up above the earth, and mount up towards heaven. Just so, by the warm influence of divine grace, (which are the beams of the Sun of righteousness) the finner that is lying in the horrible pit, and in a miry clay, and licking up the dust of the earth, is elevate and railed God-ward, and heaven. ward, and made to seek things that are above, Il. al. 31. “ They mount with wings as eagles :" Heb. xi. 14. “ They seek a better country, that is an heavenly."
7. The clouds, wher: raised up by the heat of the sun, they are kept up by the mighty power of God. So, believers being brought into a state of grace, they are kept in it “ by the power of God, through faith unto falvation." It is he that preserves them in that state ; hence believers are called the preserved in Jesus Chrift. And as the clouds are in the hand of the Lord, so are all his faints, Deut. xxxiii. 3. “ All his faints are in thy hand;" John X. 28. “No man thall pluck them of hand;" ver. 29.“ My Father, who gave them me, is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand,” &c.
8. Although the clouds have a louring and dark aspect to the
eye, yet they have a blesling in them; they lift down rain upon the earth, which contributes unto its fertility. So God's work of grace on the soul, although it have a dark aspect at the beginning; yet there is a bleiling in it in the event, a blessing to the soul when it is landed in Christ; and believers, however ill the world like them, yet they are a biesling unto the world, and contribute to its preservation and fruitfulness. The clouds, you know, pour down rain upon the earth : to believers wherever they come, they study to drop the knowledge of Christ; for the lips of the righteous ferd many: hence is that of the prophet, Micah v. 7. “ The remnant of Jacob shall