Page images
PDF
EPUB

his priesthood: no nor yet as he himself is the sacrifice for sin ; for it is not an act of priesthood to be himself a sacrifice. But yet I think the common distribution intimateth to us that sense which containeth the truth which we inquire after : for the word priesthood is applied to Christ in a peculiar notion, so as it is never applied to any other ; and therefore is taken more comprehensively, as including all that good which he doth for us (as good) by the way of mediation with the Father, and all his acts of mediation with God; as the prophetical and kingly parts, contain his other acts towards men. But yet a more plain and accurate distribution should be made ; in which it should be manifested also to what heads his many other assumed titles of relation are to be reduced ; but this is not a work for this place.

But that which now I advise you to avoid, is the error of them who look so much at Christ's mediation with God, that they scarce observe his work with man : and the error of them who look so much at his work on man, that they overlook his mediation with God : and their's that só observe his sacrifice, as to make light of his continual intercession : or that observing both, make light of his doctrine and example ; or that observe these so much as to make light of his sacrifice and intercession: or that extol his doctrine and example, and overlook his giving of the Spirit to all his living members; or that cannot magnify any one of these, without depressing or extenuating some other. If Christ's kingdom be not divided (Matt. xii. 25.), sure Christ himself is not divided, nor his works; 1 Cor. i. 13.

Direct. 6. Still distinguish between Christ's work of redemption, which he hath already wrought on earth, to constitute him our Mediatory Head, and that which he was further to do for us in that relation ; that you may ground your faith on the first as a foundation laid by him, and may seek after the second as that which requireth somewhat from yourselves to your own participation.'

The first part is commonly called the impetration, the second the application (or rather the communication.) As God did first do himself the work of creation, and thence result his relations of our Owner, our Ruler, and our chief good (or our love, or end, or benefactor); so Christ first doth the works which make him our Redeemer towards

God; and then he is also our Owner, our Ruler, and our communicative Benefactor, hereupon. And this seemeth intimated by those phrases, (Heb. v. 8. ii. 9, 10.) where he is said to "learn obedience by the things which he suffered," that is, as a subject exercised obedience, and so learnt to know by experience what obeying is. And that “the Captain of our salvation was made perfect by sufferings, and for suffering death was crowned with glory,” because his sufferings did constitute him a perfect Captain or Redeemer in performance; though before he was perfect in ability. As he that undertaketh to redeem some Turkish galley-slaves by conquering their navy, is made a perfect redeemer, or conqueror, when he hath taken the fleet, though yet the prisoners are in his power, to release them on such terms as seem best to him. And as a man is a perfect chirurgeon, when (besides his skill) he is furnished with all his instruments or salves (how costly soever) though yet the cure is not done : or as be that hath ransomed prisoners is a perfect ransomer, when he hath paid the price, though yet they are not delivered, nor have any actual right themselves to claim deliverance by. I here mention this, because the building upon that foundation, which'is supposed to be already laid and finished, and the seeking of the further salvation which yet we have no possession of, nor perhaps any title to, are works so very different, that he that doth not discern the difference, cannot exercise the Christian faith ; because it is to be necessarily exercised by two such different acts, or different ways of acting and applying ourselves to our Redeemer.

Direct. 7. Still think of Christ's nearness both to the Father and to us; and so of our nearness to God in and by him.'

Our distance is the lamentable fruit of our apostacy; which inferreth our fears, and estrangedness, and backwardness to draw near to God; it causeth our ignorance of him, and our false conceits of his will and works ; it greatly hindereth both love and confidence : whereas the apprehension of our nearness to God will do much to cure all these evils.. As it is the misery of the proud, that God looketh on them as afar off, that is, with strangeness, and abhorrence, and disdain ; Psal. cxxxviii. 6. And accord

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

ingly they shall be far off from the blessed ones hereafter; Luke xvi. 23. So it is the happiness of believers to be nigh to God, in Jesus Christ, who condescended to be nigh to us; which is our preparation to be yet nearer to him for ever; Psal. cxlviii. 14. xxxiv. 18. cxlv. 18. Ephes. ii. 13. It giveth the soul more familiar thoughts of God, who seemed before to be at an inaccessible distance; which is part of the boldness of access and confidence mentioned Ephes. iii. 12. ii. 18. Rom. v. 2. Heb. x. 19. We may come boldly to the throne of grace ; Heb. iv. 16. And it greatly helpeth us in the work of love, to think how near God is come to us in Christ, and how near he hath taken the human nature unto him. When a sinner looketh at God only as in himself, and as he is estranged from the guilty, he is amazed and confounded, as if God were quite out of the reach of our love; but when he thinketh how he hath voluntarily come down into our flesh, that he might be man, and be familiar with man, and what a wonderful marriage the divine nature hath made with the human, this wonderfully reconcileth the heart to God, and maketh the thoughts of him more sweet and acceptable. If the life of faith be a dwelling in God, and God in us, and a walking with God; 1 John iii. 24. iv. 12. 15, 16. Ephes. iii. 17. Gen. xvii. 1. xxiv. 40. v. 22. vi. 9. Heb. xi. 5. Then must we perceive our nearness to God : the just apprehension of this nearness in Christ's incarnation and relation to us, is the chief means to bring us to the nearness of love and heavenly conversation ; Col. iii. 1.3, 4.

Direct. 8. • Make Christ therefore the mediation of all your practical thoughts of God.'

The thoughts of God will be strange to us through our distance, and terrible through our guilt, if we look not upon him through the prospective of Christ's humanity and

God out of Christ is a consuming fire to guilty souls. As our acceptance must be through the beloved, in whom he is well pleased; so our thoughts must be encouraged with the sense of that acceptance; and every thought must be led up to God, and emboldened by the Mediator; Matt. iii. 17. xvii. 5. vii. 18. Ephes. i. 6. Heb.ii. 9, 10. 12, 13. 17. Direct. 9. • Never come to God in

prayer, or any

other

Cross.

act of worship, but by the mediation of the Son; and put all your prayers as into his hand, that he may present them to the Father.'

There is no hoping for any thing from God to sinners, but by Christ : and therefore there is no speaking to God but by him : not only in his name, but also by his mediation: and this is the exercise of his priesthood for us, by his heavenly intercession, so much spoken of by the Holy Ghost in the Epistle to the Hebrews : “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession : Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need;" Heb. iv. 14. 16.

Direct. 10. •Hear every word of Scripture precept; and ministerial exhortation (consonant to the Scripture) as sent to us by Christ, and from the Father by him, as the appointed Teacher of the church.'

Hear Christ in his Gospel and his ministers, and hear God the Father in the Son. Take heed of giving only a slight and verbal acknowledgment of the voice of Christ, whilst you really are more taken with the preacher's voice, as if he had a greater share in the sermon, than Christ hath. The voice in the holy Mount, which Peter witnesseth that he heard, was, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him ;" 2 Pet. i. 17. “And it shall come to pass, that every soul which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people;" Acts iïi. 23. Matt. xvii. 5. “When ye received the word of God which

ye

heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God, which worketh effectually in you that believe;" 1 Thes. ii. 13. will follow him, for they know his voice: a stranger they will not follow;" John x. 4, 5.

Direct. 11. Take every mercy from God as from the hand of Christ; both as procured by his cross, and as delivered by his Mediatory administration.'

It is still supposed that the giving of the Son himself by the Father to this office, is excepted as presupposed. But all subsequent particular mercies, are both procured for us, and given to us, by the Mediator. Yet is it nevertheless from God the Father, nor doth it ever the less, but

“The sheep

the more fully signify his love. But the state of sinners alloweth them no other way of communication from God, for their benefit and happiness, but by one who is more near and capable to God, who from him may convey all blessings unto them. “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in things heavenly in Christ;" Ephes. i. 3. “He that spareth not his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Rom. viii. 32. Through the knowledge of him, the Divine power giveth us "all things that pertain to life and godliness;” 2 Pet. i. 3. God hath given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son; 1 John v. 10, 11. All things are delivered into his hand; John xiii. 3. xvii. 2. Therefore receive every particular mercy for soul and body, as from the blood, and from the present Mediation of Christ, that you may rightly understand it, and have it as sanctified and sweetened by Christ.

Direct. 12. 'Let faith take occasion by every sin, to renew your sense of the want of Christ, and to bring you to him, to mediate and grant you a renewed pardon.'

Therefore entertain not their mistake, who tell men that all sin, past, present, and to come, is fully pardoned at once (whether it be before you were born in God's decree, or Christ's satisfaction, or at the time of your conversion) nor their's who teach that Christ pardoneth only sins before conversion, but as for all that are committed afterward, he doth prevent the need of pardon, by preventing all guilt and obligation to punishment (except mere temporal chastisement.) The preparation which Christ hath made for our pardon, is in itself sufficient, yea, and effectual as to that end which he would have it attain before our believing : but our actual pardon is no such end : nor can sin be forgiven before it be committed ; because it is no sin. Christ never intended to justify or sanctify us perfectly at the first (whatsoever many say to the contrary, because they understand not what they say) but to carry on both proportionably and by degrees, that we may have daily use for his daily mediation, and may daily pray, “Forgive us our trespasses. There is no guilt on them that are in Christ, so far as they "walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit;' nor no proper condemnation by sentence or execution at all; because

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »