« EelmineJätka »
to see more.
the mercy-seat. To apprehend God so as to love him and trust in him all our life, to hope to find favor and bliss with him, this is the only wise knowledge of him. Now this alone is in Christ, and from him. He contains this representation of God and gives his own light to see it! So that a Christian's desire should be, in relation to Jesus Christ, that of David in reference to the temple, as a figure of him, One thing have I desired of the Lord, and that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord; that I may get in to Christ, to koow God there, to behold the beauty of the Lord. There we see beauty indeed, the Father's glory, and so as our Father reconciled to us, we see hiin merciful and gracious. And as we should desire to behold, so, still to inquire in his temple, to advance in the knowledge of God, studying him in Christ. We are to admire what we see, and to seek still
And know, that this knowledge of God, as we have it in Christ, so it is from him. He reveals the Father: he came from his bosom for that purpose. We cannot believe on him, cannot come near God through hiin, but as he lets forth of his light, to conduct and lead us in, yea, powerfully to draw in, for his light does so. Now kuowing and appreliending him by his own light, his Spirit, the apostle clears it, that this is our wisdom, by those rich titles added, according to which we find him to us, when we receive from him that wisdom by which we apprehend him aright and lay hold on him, then made unto us righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
Righteousness. This doubtless is meant of the righteousness by which we are justified before God. And he is made this to us : applied by faith, his righteousness becomes 'ours. That exchange inade, our sins are laid over upon him, and his obedience put upon us. This is the great glad tidings, that we are made righteous by Christ. It is not a righteousness wrought by us, but given to us and put upon us. This carnal reason cannot comprehend, and being proud, therefore rejects and argues against it; it says, How can this thing be? But faith closes with it, and rejoices in it. Without either doing or suffering, the sinner is acquitted and justified, and stands as guiltless of breach, yea, as having fulfilled the whole law. And happy they who thus fasten upon this righteousness! They may lift up their faces with gladness and boldness before God; whereas the most industrious self-saving justiciary, though in otber men's eyes and bis own possibly, for the present, he makes a glittering show, yet when he shall come to be examined of God and tried according to the law, he shall be covered with shame and confounded in his folly and guiltiness. But faith triumphs over self-unworthiness, and sin, and death, and the law, shrouding the soul under the mantle of Jesus Christ; and there it is safe. All accusations fall off, having no where to fasten, unless some blemish could be found in that righteouspess in which faith bath wrapt itself. This is the very spring of solid peace, and fills the soul with peace and joy. But still men would have something within themselves to make out the matter, as if this robe needed any such piecing; and not finding what they desire, thence disquiet and unsettlement of mind arise.
True it is, that this faith purifies the heart, and works holiness, and all graces flow from it; but in this work of justifying the sinner, it is alone, and cannot admit of any mixture; as Luther's resemblance is, “Faith is as the bride with Christ in the bed-chamber alone; but when she cometh forth, hath the attendance and train of other graces with her.” This well understood, the soul that believes on Jesus Christ will not let go for all deficiency in itself; and yet so resting on him, will not be slothful nor regardless of any duty of holiness. Yea, this is the way to abound in all the fruits of the Spirit, first to have that wisdom from him rightly to apprehend and apply bim as our righteousness, and then shall we find all furniture of grace in him ; he will likewise be sanctification. Say not, Unless I fiud some measure of sanctification, what right have I to apply him as my righteousness? This inverts the order, and disappoints thee of both. Thou must first, without finding, yea, or seeking any thing in thyself but misery and guiltiness, lay hold on him as thy righteousness ; or else thou wilt never find sanctification by any other endeavour or pursuit.
He it is that is made sanctification to us, and out of him we seek it in vain. Now first be must be thy righteousness, before thou find him thy sanctification. Simply, as a guilty sinner, thou must flee to him for shelter ; and then, being come in, thou shalt be furnished out of his fulness with grace for grace; as a poor man pursued by the justiciary, fleeing to a strong castle for safety, and being in it, finds it a rich palace, and all his wante supplied there.
This misunderstanding of that method is the cause of that darkness and discomfort, and withal of that deadness and defect of graces, that many persons go drooping under, who will not take this way, the only straight and sure way of life and comfort.
Now sanctification he is to us, not only as a perfect pattern, but as a powerful principle. It is really the Spirit of Christ in a believer, that crucifies the world, and purges out siv, and forms the soul to his likeness. It is impossible to be holy, not being in him; and being truly in him, it is as impossible not to be holy. Our turmoiling without him, makes us lose our labor; and in this point indeed, little wit makes much labor.
Redemption. Sin is often prevailing even in believers, and therewithal discomforts and doubts arising, as it cannot otherwise be. O how do they groan and sigh as captives still to the law of sin and death! Well, there is in our Lord Jesus help for that too. He is redemption; that is the complement and fulness of deliverance. The price he paid once for all : now he goes on to work that deliverance by conquest, which he bought by ransom. It is going on even when we feel it not, and within a little while, it shall be perfected, and we shall see all the host of our enemies who pursued us, as Israel saw the Egyptians, lie dead upon the shore. Courage! that day is coming
And all this is, That he that glories, may glory in the Lord. Is it not reasonable? No self-glorying : the more faith, the less will there be still of that. A believer is nothing in himself. All is Christ's, Christ is his all. That treasurer who, being called to an account, because that out of pothing he bad enriched bimself suddenly, many Div. No. IX.
thought he would have been puzzled with it; but he, without being much moved, vext morning came before the king in an old suit that he wore before he got that office, and said, “ Sir, this suit on my back is mine, but all the rest is thine.” So our old suit is ours, all the rest Christ's, and he allows it well. And in the full and pure glory that ascends to God in this work, are we to rejoice more than in the work itself as our salvation. There is an humble kind of boasting that becomes a christian. My soul shall glory, or make her boast, in God, says David, all the day long. What was I before I met with Christ, thinks a believer, and now what am I? And, upon that thought, he wonders and loves. But most of the wonder is yet to come; for he conceives but little what we shall be.
JEREMIAH X, 23, 24.
it is not in man that walketħ, to direct his steps. O Lord, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine
anger, lest thou bring me to nothing.
It cannot be expressed, what an advantage a heart acquainted with God hath, in all the revolutions and changes of the world, when it turns unto him, and gives vent to its griefs and desires into his bosom, and so finds ease. This the prophet does here. After the denouncing of a heavy judgment, he turns towards him from whom he brought that message, to entreat for them to whom he brought it. After a very sad close of his sermon, he adds this short but very sweet prayer ; presents himself, and speaks in that style, as representing the whole people ; Correct me, O Lord. He makes their calamity, as it were, all his own; bears their person, and presents his petition for them in his own name. The prophets, though they could not but applaud and approve the justice of God who sent them, in the harshest news they brought, yet withal could not be insensible of the miseries of his
people; and so we find them mixing pathetical complaints and prayers for them, with the predictions of judgments against them.
And thus are all his faithful ministers affected towards his church. The Lord himself is pleased to express a kind of regret sometimes in the punishing of them ; as the tender-hearted father feels the lashes he lays on, though highly deserved by the stubbornness of his children. How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I make thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together ; Hos. xi, 8. So it well becomes his servants to be thus affected when they deliver sad news to his people, to return praying for them; thus going, as angels, betwixt heaven and earth, beseeching the people to return unto God, and beseeching God to return to his people and spare them.
The prophet, in this prayer, first premises a position suiting his purpose, and then upon that presents his supplication. The position he lays down, to make a double benefit of it in order to his petition. It is both a sure ground for himself to stand on, and a fit argument to move God by. Thus it is and thus he intends and uses it, at once to support his own faith, and to work on the goodness of God by it. Besides the fitness of the truth itself for both these ends, we find some print of both in the very way of expressing it, O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself ; so expressing both his own persuasiou of the truth of it, I know, and representing it to God as a fit truth to urge his suit by, 0 Lord, I know.
A great part of the strength and art of prayer lies in this—first, to have the mind furvished with fit conceptions of God, and established in the firm persuasions of them; in that is much of the strength of prayer: then, fitly to call up and use these conceptions and persuasions for our own supporting and prevailing with God; in that lies the art of it.