SPIRITUALL HEARTS-EASE; OR, THE VVAY TO TRANQVILITIE. SERMON XXXI.
JOHN 14. 1, 2, 3.
1 Let not your hearts be troubled, you beleeve in God, beleeve also in me,
2 In my fathers house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you, I goe to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I goe and prepare a place for you, I will come againe, and re∣ceive you unto my selfe, that where I am, there yee may be also.
IN the 33. verse of the former Chapter, our Saviour Christ told his Disciples, that he must now goe away from them; Little children, yet a little while I am with you, and you shall seeke mee, and as I said to the Iewes, whither I goe you cannot come, so say I now to you.
This message of the departure of Christ from the earth, of his being tooke from them, did exceedingly sad their hearts, and very much per∣plex, and disquiet their spirits; they knew what a comfort they had in the presence of Christ; they knew what a faithfull Teacher hee was, what a mightie Protector hee had beene, how gracious and full of heavenly comfort hee had manifested himselfe to them at all times in his being with them; And they could not now thinke of parring with him, without much perplexitie, and Page 592 disquiet, and trouble of spirit. Therefore the words that I have now read, are the speech of our blessed Saviour, to comfort them, * strengthening their hearts against those disquiets under which they were exercised;
In which words you may briefly observe these three things, * for time will not suffer mee to stand much upon them.
First, a dutie whereunto they are exhorted.
Secondly, the meanes whereby it may be performed.
Thirdly, the letts that were to bee removed, that hindered them in the performance of the dutie in the use of these meanes.
The dutie that is to bee performed, is in the beginning of the first verse, Let not your hearts be troubled.*
The meanes whereby to performe it, in the words following, *You beleeve in God, beleeve also in me.
The letts and impediments of the performance of it in the use * of these meanes, are so many objections and doubts, as are wisely prevented by the wisedome of God, in the two verses following.
I shall take them as I come to them in order, and but give a briefe touch upon every one of of them.
First, the dutie that is to be performed, it is this, to stablish and comfort their hearts, Let not your hearts be troubled.
The word that is here translated, trouble, it signifieth such a * trouble as is in water, when the mudde is stirred up, or when the waves and surges are raised by some tempest or storme; It signifi∣eth such a trouble as is in an Army, when the Souldiers are dis∣ranked, and routed, when they are disordered, and it shewes thus much, that those distempers that are in the hearts of men, in the affections of men, doe exceedingly hinder their judgements, that they can see no more, nor discerne things no better, then a man can doe in a muddie water. All the affections are as so many Soul∣diers in an Armie disordered, that keepe not their due subordina∣tion to their leader and guide, by reason that the understanding that should guide the will and affections, is now made a servant to them.
And this distemper of spirit ariseth from the inordinacie of the affections, the inordinate motion, and agitation of them.
This is called trouble, Let not your hearts be troubled; Bee not di∣sturbed thus, and disquieted, and disordered; So that no facultie of the soule can performe its owne worke; So as that it is disabled to judge of things according to truth, but that you are mis-led, and deluded by mists and appearances.
It is with the mind in sorrow, as it is with the eye in teares, that cannot see a thing clearely, so the mind cannot judge of * things distinctly, when the soule is disturbed; Let not your hearts be troubled.
Page 593 But that which our Saviour aymes at here, hath a particular re∣spect to the affections of feare, and griefe, when these are in the excesse, the mind is troubled, when a man over-feares any thing, or over-gries any thing, hee is troubled and disquieted; Let not your hearts be troubled; that is, grieve not for things more then they are to be grieved for, and feare not things more then they are to be feared. For all these will dis-joynt the soule (as it were) it will put the spirit to much paine and disquit, as a bone out of joynt; Therefore by all meanes keepe your hearts in a right state, in that order that God hath set them; Let not your hearts be troubled.
That, that I will briefly note here, shall be but thus much, that
Men are wondrous prone, even the very best men, to be disturbed in * their passions and affections.
Our Saviour Christ speakes it here to his Disciples, to those that he had taught, before whom hee had gone, as an excellent example all his dayes, yet these holy men, these followers of Christ, that had followed him through so many dangers, and af∣ter so many teachings, and instructings of them; hee had need to call upon them, to stirre them up to consider of their owne estate, that their hearts might not bee troubled.
You may see the Maladie in the Medicine. Every prohibition in the word supposeth a corruption, and an aptnesse in the naturall heart and spirit of man, to sinne, and transgresse in that particular; Therefore when Christ speakes to his Disciples, and tells them they should not be troubled. It shewes, that even the best men, are subject to excesse of passion, and affection, to be disturbed, and troubled, through immoderate feare, or griefe, for that was the case of the Disciples.
Now briefly I will shew the grounds of it, and come to the Ap∣plication, because I will hasten.
This trouble that is upon the spirits sometimes of the best men, it ariseth,
Partly from Gods providence, and hand upon them.
And partly from Sathan.
And partly from themselves.
I will shew you the causes in these in particulars, and then ap∣plie * it.
First, it riseth many times from the hand of God. The Lord * is said to bee a Sunne, and a shield; The Lord will be knowne to bee a Sunne, and a shield to his people.
Now, looke as it is with the earth when the Sunne withdraw∣eth his light, it is all darke and cold, and dead; So it is with the hearts of the best men, when God withdrawes the light of his countenance from the soule, it is as the earth at midnight. And Page 594 as it is with Souldiers in the battell, if their shields be taken from them, they are exposed to every dart, and danger; every thing may annoy them, and wound them. So it is in the state of the soule; if God withdraw himselfe from it, and doe not now sup∣port it as before, and doe not fence, and strengthen it as at other times, the fierie darts of Sathan will pierce deepe into the soule, and the spirit will not bee able to uphold it selfe against these assaults.
Now God withdrawes himselfe sometimes from his servants, * and that in speciall wisedome. In respect either of the time
- to come.
Sometimes God doth it in respect of the time past, and so hee doth it by way of correction. First, to correct his children for * their former wantonnesse, they have abused the expressions of love, and now as a Father takes away the light from his child, when hee sees hee makes no better use of it then to play with it. So God sometimes takes away the light of his countenance; that is, he casts cloudes before himselfe, he doth not manifest himselfe in that loving favour, when his servants neglect that reverence and feare that hee expects from them in the midst of his mercies.
Secondly, this hee doth sometimes as a correction of their * negligence, when God hath called on them from time to time, and they have neglected calling on God; hee hath called upon them for dutie, and for the leaving of such particular evils, and they have neglected it. Now God withdrawes himselfe, to make them know what it is to doe so; And because they will not know what it is to heare his voyce, when hee calls, hee will make them feele it, by his not hearing their voyce when they pray.
Sometimes hee calls to them, as hee did to the Church in the * Canticles; Open to mee my sister, my Spouse, my love, &c. The Church is negligent and carelesse; I have put off my cloathes, how shall I put them on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them? Now hee withdrawes himselfe from the soule, and what is the end of it? The Keepers strike her, and the watch-men take away her vaile; and now shee is left to trouble and perplexitie, because Christ had absented himselfe, whom shee would not entertaine, when hee offered himselfe; Thus God doth, to correct that, that is past.
And farther, God doth it sometimes to correct that carnall confidence, and securitie whereunto men are wondrous prone, * when they goe on in a cleare way with much comfort, with wind and tide. I said in my prosperitie (saith David) I shall never bee Page 595 mooved, thou Lord hast made my mountain so strong; but what followeth upon it? saith he, Lord thou hidest thy face, and I was troubled, now trou∣ble came upon him, trouble of Spirit, because he rested too much in that outward mountaine, in that outward condition whereunto God had exalted him, and he placed his hope too much on this, and thought it should be alwaies thus, now God turnes his hand & then David is troubled: and that is the first particular in the first cause.
But Secondly, God hath a further ayme, and that is for the time present and that is.
First, to informe all his servants where their strength lies, where * all their good lies, it lies not in themselves, it lies not in any creature: And therefore God will have them seeke it in him, & that they may do it, he drawes them to it by sence, they shall be deprived of com∣fort in respect sometime of outward conveniences, and in respect sometime of the light of his countenance shining upon their soules.
How doe wee know that the Moone shines on the earth by a * borrowed light? but because wee see it is not alwayes alike in its light, we see sometimes it hath a full light, and sometimes it is enlightned but by the halfe, and sometimes by some little part, where wee see this disproportion that it is not alwayes alike, wee know by this that the light of the Moone is borrowed from some∣what else, from the Sunne.
Now how doe wee know that the heart of man is fed and re∣leeved, and supported with comfort from without it selfe, with borrowed and received comfort? but by this; Because the state of Gods servants in respect of the spirituall quiet, and satisfaction and contentment of heart is not alwayes alike, but sometimes they have aboundance of joy, that they seeme to bee (as it were) in heaven. Sometimes they are perplexed with many disquiets and griefes, that they seeme to be cast downe to the deepe, as it is said of the Marriners in Psal. 107. what is the reason of this? but that no flesh should glory in it selfe; that every man might know that whatsoever he hath to make his life comfortable, and pleasing to him it is from God that dispenseth it to men in that proportion as seemeth good to his owne wisedome.
God will have us know that all the happinesse of our spirits is in their union with the chiefe of spirits, with himselfe; and that when they are but a little separated from him, when he doth but a little withdraw himselfe from them, they are as a thing that is dead; how shall wee know that the branches have sappe from the roote, that it is that that makes them flourish and grow? but by this: If you doe but cut them off from the roote they wither presently. So it is with the spirit, with the heart of man; if God doe but a little withdraw himselfe, let sinne but make a separation betweene God and man, now a man is like a withered branch, he hath no∣thing Page 596 now to revive him, because hee is divided from the roote: At the least it is with him as it is with a tree in Winter, though the sappe remaines in the roote, so though hee remaine in union with the roote, yet the moysture is gotten into the roote it selfe, and doth not now infuse it selfe into the branches; I confesse the ser∣vant of God that is once united to Christ shall never be separated, the union it is now, and alwayes shall bee, but never the lesse, the sappe and comfort of the Spirit, it may remaine in the head, our life may be hid in Christ, and may not appeare in us at all; And we are then in that estate as if wee were branches cut off, whereby it may appeare, that whatsoever life and comfort, and strength of heart we had, it was from Christ, and by the influence and worke of his Spirit.
And then for the time to come, God doth it to prevent some distempers that might growe on the hearts of his servants if they * should alwayes be in a like state of spirituall joy. God doth it to prevent pride, Paul was apt to bee lift up with those revelations,* therefore a messenger of Sathan was sent to buffet him.
And so it may be to prevent carnall confidence in the creature, a man would begin to ascribe somewhat to himselfe, to his pre∣sent * condition, if it were alwayes thus with him, you know what the Apostle Paul saith, 2 Cor. 1. 10. We received in our selves the sen∣tence of death that wee might not trust in our selves, but in God that ray∣sed the dead, looke to what end Paul received the sentence of death, to that end Gods faithfull servants sometimes receive the very sence of death (as it were) and the sence of the destitution, and want of all spirituall comforts for the present; Why? That they might not trust in themselves, or in those habits of grace and com∣forts they have, or in any creature whatsoever. The worke of Gods spirit in the regenerate soule, it is but a creature, a worke of God, and God will not have men trust in any such thing, in what then? In him that rayseth from the dead; God will bring them to such a state, that they shall seeme as dead men, as destitute of all spirituall comforts they have, that they might trust in him that is able to rayse them out of such a state as that, that looke as hee is able to give life to the dead body, so he is able to give comfort to the distressed soule, that is at that time, in the shaddow of death.
Secondly, it comes sometimes from Sathan, and that is thus, * Sathan wonderfully sets himselfe against the seede of the woman,* especially against the promised seede, Christ, he will alway bee at his heele, Gen. 3. 16. and in his opposition against Christ, hee sets against the very glory of Christ among men, and that is his kingdome, hee would not have Christ exalt his kingdome over men.
Now the kingdome of Christ consists as the Apostle speakes, Page 597not in meate and drinke but in righteousnesse and peace, and joy in the*Holy Ghost, If he cannot keepe a Christian, a true beleever, from unrighteousnesse, he will labour to interrupt his peace: if he can∣not keepe him from the habit of peace, peace in the grounds of it, yet hee will keepe him from the exercise and effects of that peace, from joy, he will hinder that as much as he can, that hee may not have the sence of his blessednesse: he knowes that spirituall joy strengthens a man to all spirituall duties; and his endeavour is to weaken all the servants of Christ, in all their services; and there∣fore he doth, at least labour against that with all his might, that if they will needes goe on, yet neverthelesse to propound, and occa∣sion as many things that may be troublesome to them, and disquiet their hearts as he can.
And there are two principall wayes (that I may but touch them) * whereby Sathan wondrously prevailes in this particular.
The one is by stealing out of their hearts those precious promi∣ses, those comforts, whereby the Word of God revives the soule. You have forgotten (saith the Apostle) the consolations of God. And the * divell meets in man with two advantages, to helpe him in the effe∣cting of this; First he turnes the thoughts upon new objects, and herein hee doth diametricall•…, and directly set himselfe against God in the way of his speciall providence: that very thing that God in wonderfull wisedome hath wrought in the heart for the ease and comfort of man, Sathan makes it an occasion of trouble, and that is this, the varietie of mans thoughts; what is the reason that God hath framed the minde of man to change his thoughts continually, and to have innumerable thoughts? Certainly for the very ease of the Spirit of man, for the very ease of the soule of man: For if the minde should keepe intent upon any one thought long, it would so worke upon that, that it would weary it selfe out in working, as wee see men by excesse of griefe in particular cases, grow to be phrensie, and distracted, and the like: Now this aptnesse of the minde to runne to varietie of thoughts that God hath made for the ease of man, Sathan turnes it as a helpe to hurt him. A man shall runne on into a world of businesse, of tempta∣tions, and distractions that shall draw him from the thought of those things that hee hath heard for the relieving of his Spirit wherein God spake comfort to his heart, that hee may the better fasten those discouragements on him, that he desires.
Secondly, another advantage he hath for this end is this, that is, hee wondrously prevailes upon the heart of man by a carelesse neglect that is in men: every man loves ease; There is such a spirit in man, such a disposition in the spirit of man, that he avoydes the things ordinarily that have great labour: this disposition to case, and rest, Sathan serves himselfe on, and makes great use of; so Page 598 when a man hath come from hearing the Word, and reading the Scriptures, whereas he should now bee exercised, and labour in meditation to worke those things on his heart that now the roote might fasten, and things might settle on the soule, hee passeth by these easily, now the heart of a man lies open as the high way, you know the parable, Matth. 13. when the seede fell on the high-way,*the Foules of the ayre came, and picked it up, and it was gone pre∣sently, where there is no paines taken with the heart of a man, as there is none taken with the high way, that the seed that falls there might grow, as in the plowed ground, when there is no paines ta∣ken with the heart, now every notion, every direction, and every spirituall instruction it lies lightly there, and is soone carried out, this is the advantage that Sathan makes of a mans love of ease.
But there is another thing concerning the way that Sathan takes, not only to steale it out of the mind by those two wayes, * but againe by presenting the very truths of God to men in false glosses, so as a man cannot discerne them in their owne shape, and nature, but in such coulours as hee presents them to them. If the time would have served, I might instance in severall parti∣culars; I will but touch upon one or two, and leave the inlarge∣ment to your owne meditations. Sometimes, things that are great, and of precious use, shall be presented small, and of no account: and things againe that are small and little, shall be presented won∣drous great: The mercies of God, the Attributes of God, the pro∣mises of the Gospell, the sufficiencie of the merits of Christ, these shall seeme small things, little to be regarded, lesse then ever God intended them to be: And on the contrary, a mans owne sinnes, his owne distempers shall bee made exceeding great: Worldly things shall be presented, as things of the greatest consequence; and spirituall things as meere accessories, as things that depend upon them, and that come in after. Sometimes againe, things that are most necessarie to be understood and knowne, things that should be particularly applyed, shall be presented obscurely and confusedly; and sometimes things of lesser consequence, the knowledge whereof is not so necessary, shall bee presented with more clearenesse, and with strong perswasions to the study and knowledge of them. But I will not stand on this: this is enough to give you a tast of Sathans subtiltie this way, whereby he won∣drously prevailes in bringing trouble upon the spirits of men.
Thirdly, it is from our selves, and so it comes to passe from * that generall corruption that is in our natures, from whence all * other sinnes flow, that the spirits of men are troubled, and distur∣bed, by things that fall out from day to day.
And first it comes to passe, that the soule of man is miserablie * in bondage, and captivated, and inthralled, and is deprived of li∣bertie Page 599 (as it were) through the distemper of the body; as in Me∣lancholie * and sicknesse, wee see how the soule is disturbed by the very diseases, and distempers in the body it selfe, and that by ver∣tue of that simpathie in the soule with the body, it riseth from the union of it, to the body by the spirits: but this I will passe by.
Sometimes we see the soule subdued with lusts and corrupti∣ons, * some strong lust, some strong sinne or other prevailes; And then as it is with the fowle that is now flying in the ayre, it may be there is bird-lime cast upon the wings of it, it falls downe pre∣sently, and can flie no further; so it is with the soule, somewhat presseth it downe, somewhat compasseth it about, and coupes it in, as that expression is used, Heb. 12. 1. Let us cast off the sinne that*compasseth us about, and that presseth so heavy downe, that we may runne with patience the race that is set before us.
And sometimes the soule is disturbed by inordinate passions, which arise from that generall distemper that is diffused through * every facultie, and so the understanding lookes upon things as through a mist, it sees nothing clearely, and in most common things it is blind, and it is led by blind affections too, and when the blind lead the blind, both fall into the ditch, saith Christ: and so the memorie that should reteine the precious treasures, the promises of the Gospell to relieve the soule in all cases, it is like a leaking vessell that lets things runne out, as it is Heb. 2. Take heed that the things you have heard, runne not out, saith the Apostle, alluding to * that Metaphor.
And the very conscience it selfe that should bee conclusive, it now rests in generalls and uncertainties, conscience should deter∣mine what my case is, whether I bee the child of God, or no; whether I be in the state of grace or no, to put a man to bring things to particular: now for the most part by mans owne neg∣lect it remaines in doubt, it may bee I am, it may bee I am not, it may be I have a right in the Covenant of grace, it may be not, &c. And now because conscience is not come to that resolute conclu∣sive act that a man may determine of his owne particular case, hence it is that every thing troubles, and disquiets him. Thus be∣loved you see the reasons of it.
Wee will briefly passe it over with a word of Application;
And first it should teach us compassion towards those whose * spirits are troubled, our Saviour Christ saith here, Let not you hearts bee troubled; Hee considered of them in their weaknesse, and doth not much upbraid them with it, but helpes to bring them out of it in much mercie, and love, and so should wee. There is such a disposition rising from the pride, crueltie, and uncharitablenesse of the hearts of men, that they are apt to adde to the burthen of the afflicted, and to make their afflictions more by their sensu∣ring Page 600 of their troubles. You know the speech of old Ely a good man, but yet hee failed in that, when hee saw Hannah in great trouble of spirit, uttering her heart before the Lord; Lay away thy drunkennesse, (saith hee) hee thought shee was drunke, at least with some passion, and all came but from perplexitie, and distur∣bance of spirit, and in that manner hee rather added to her griefe then eased her; So Iobs friends you see what they said, they pre∣sently judged him in that case, as one that God had cast off for hypocrisie, and for his pride, and covetousnesse, or for some one thing or other, and therefore it was thus with him; Nay, Christ himselfe, the censure of all men was thus much concerning Christ himselfe; Wee did esteeme him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.* The intent of the phrase is, as one smitten for his owne ill, as if God had now manifested that hee did not acknowledge him to be so holy and righteous. So thus you see the inclination in the heart of man, to uncharitable judging of those that God hath cast downe, and suffers to bee exercised under many afflictions, and troubles; Let us learne then spirituall wisedome; let us learne love, and spirituall mercie, to judge more favourably of the state of those whom wee see troubled in spirit.
Many times God infeebleth, and distresseth the spirits of his best servants, to abate the pride of men, that none might exalt himselfe before God; Nay, in the very thing wherein they have excelled, in the same thing hee sometimes abaseth them: you see Abraham he is called the Father of the faithfull; his excellencie was his faith, yet faithfull Abraham is detected in Scripture of much unbeliefe in some particulars; Who would thinke that hee should expose Sara, as he did to save himselfe? that he should doe it, that was called the Father of the faithfull? you have heard (saith the Apostle Iames) of the patience of Iob, the very excellencie of Iob was his patience: who would thinke that ever patient Iob should utter such things as hee did, sometime, even cursing the very day of his birth? David a man of a cheerefull spirit, a man full of the praises of God, a man wondrous large, when hee comes to speake of the glory of God at severall times. A man would have thought him of an invincible fortitude, and courage, yet never∣thelesse you shall have David so cast downe, as that hee thinkes the Lord had forgotten him, and that the Lord would shew no mercy upon him, that the Lord had hid himselfe from him, and that hee would never regard him more; who would thinke that ever David, that abounded so in the comforts of the spirit sometimes, should bee so dejected at such times as those were, when he was in such a conflict? *
Why doth God doe this?
To shew thus much, that the very best of his servants in the Page 601 chiefe of their excellencies are dependant on him still, they have nothing of themselves, or from themselves. Therefore they shall sometimes seeme to want that they have, that the very having, and using of it, may be ascribed to his glory. Then let us now reason thus, when wee see the servants of God in trouble, exerci∣sed under disquiet; Let us conclude, now God is glorifying him∣selfe. This the Apostle inferres, Hee will rejoyce in his infirmities, because the power of Christ is manifested by it.
For our selves, it should teach us (according to the intent of this place) above all things to labour, that our hearts may bee kept in that blessed plight of spirituall joy, that we may be streng∣thened with freenesse of heart to serve God in our inward man; Let not your hearts be troubled.
How should this be done?
The Text tells us here (and so I come briefly to the second thing observable in the Text, the means) you believe in God (saith he) beleeve also in mee.
As the words are read in the translation, they seeme to be utte∣red by way of concession, as much as if Christ had said, since you already beleeve in God, now beleeve in mee. The Syriack seemes to expresse it otherwise, and so render it by way of command, and to make here an intimation of two duties, as a helpe of quieting the heart, and so it reades it; Let not your hearts bee troubled, beleeve in God, beleeve also in mee, propounding a twofold object, where∣about faith should be exercised, that the heart may bee quieted in the time of any trouble.
The first is God, considered in the Trinitie of persons, in the unitie of Essence.
The second is Christ, Mediator, God, and Man.
Now, saith he, beleeve in God, that is the first, rest upon God.
Then the second is, beleeve in mee also; as one that is the Media∣tour betweene God and you, now making your peace with God; So the second part seemes to be the prevention of an objection; For when he saith, Let not your hearts bee troubled, beleeve in God, they might say, Alas, shall wee beleeve in God, that are sinfull men; The sinners in Sion cry out, Who shall dwell with consuming fire? &c. Therefore saith Christ, beleeve also in mee; that is, know that God will bee your God, in, and for my sake he is reconciled, and well pleased with you. Therefore in all your approaches to God, take me with you, looke up to God, pray to him, depend upon God through mee still, keepe mee as a Mediatour betweene God and you, and this will preserve your hearts in peace. The time would not serve, if I should goe over things particularly, and in a full way; Therefore I will touch the heads of things, and it shall be thus much, that
Let not your hearts be troubled; But how shall wee helpe it? Beleeve in God, beleeve also in mee.
And this wee shall see through the Scriptures, David found it thus, Psal. 40. hee speakes to his disquieted soule; Trust in God, I will waite on him, hee is my God. Iehoshaphat in that excellent speech * to his Souldiers, that were now troubled, for the multitude of their enemies against them; Beleeve in God, and you shall prosper, be∣leeve his Prophets, and you shall be established; that is the way to sta∣blish the heart, to beleeve in God, revealing himselfe in his Word. It is noted of Moses, in Heb. 11. 27. Hee therefore indured* all that he did, because hee looked on him that is invisible. And those three companions of Daniel, Dan. 3. Our God (say they) whom wee*serve is able to helpe us, but if hee will not, wee will not worship thy gol∣den Image. There was matter of trouble, and disquiet in the heart to be put to such a plunge, that they must either worship, or bee cast into the Furnace, heated seven times hotter; Well, this eased them of all trouble, and disquiet; they know whom they had trusted, and bee was able to keepe that, that was committed to him, to the comming*of Christ. As Saint Paul expresseth it, with which hee also rested abundantly satisfied.
On the other side, the want of this, hath beene the cause of that perplexitie, and disquiet that hath beene upon the hearts of Gods servants at all times. That was the reason that Abraham was so disturbed, and disquieted, in that feare of what should be done to him in Egypt, certainly he failed in this, in resting upon God.
Moses was wondrously troubled, when the Lord bad him goe to Pharaoh, and deliver Israel out of Egypt (saith he) Lord, send by him whom thou shouldest send, I am a man of a stammering tongue, saith the Lord, I will be with thy tongue; Hee bids him quiet his heart in that perplexitie, and rest on him that made the tongue, to be with his tongue; And because there was another secret that troubled him, the Lord knew his heart, God saith, goe, the man that sought thy life is dead; as if hee should say, Moses, though thou wilt not confesse it, I know what troubleth thee, thou art afraid that the men that sought thy life are alive in Pharaohs Court, and that therfore when thou commest thither, thou shalt be executed. No, saith he, they are dead; hee would have him rest on him, and that would revive his heart, that he should not bee troubled and disquieted. So you may see in other servants of God, that this was alwayes the reason of any indirect course they tooke? Iacob, and Rebecca, in that case; why did Rebecca use that devise in getting the blessing with Iacob? Because shee failed in her trust in God, shee Page 603 saw how shee was perplexed with the daughters of Heth, Esaus wives, and many troubles that way; And Isaac was dim-sighted, and had many weaknesses upon him, she knew not how he might mistake, and give the blessing to the other, therefore shee deviseth a way to get the blessing, but shee got many sorrowes; you know what a hard service it cost Iacob, and how many evils it exposed him too, and all was, because through feare, and disquiet of heart, he cast not himselfe upon God in his way, but they would find out wayes of their owne.
It should teach us in all disquiet of spirit, to looke principally * to the strengthening of our faith. This is called a shield, Eph. 6. * when all the darts of temptation that fire the soule, and perplexe it many wayes, are cast upon a man; here is a shield to preserve and keepe him safe. Therefore let us ever have this for our use whole and sound. You shall find that even the servants of God have so farre beene in a comfortable estate, as they have beene in the exer∣cise of their faith.
Take David for an example, when Ziglag was burnt, and his Wives, and servants, and goods, and cattell, were all carried a∣way, and the Souldiers in the rage of their hearts, and discontent, began to thinke of stoning of him, yet saith the Text; Then David comforted himselfe in the Lord his God; When there was no com∣fort in his Souldiers about him, or in those that were neere him, every thing was taken away, at this time David comforts himselfe in the Lord his God. So Iob, see how quiet his heart is, and well satisfied, when hee rested on God, in the greatest occasions and troubles, his goods were carried away, his sonnes were slaine, all added to Iobs miserie, but he comes to this; The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed bee the Lord, when he can looke above the creature to God, and settle his heart upon this rocke, he findes comfort in it.
On the other side, the servants of God are never out of trouble, and disquiet when they neglect this, as the Disciples in the tempest upon the Sea, Math. 8. they crie out they are utterly undone; Save Master: saith Christ, Oh yee of little faith! The not exercising of their faith did so perplexe, and disquiet them as it did, and if you looke upon all the complaints of the lives of men, for the losse of such friends, and the decay of trading, for the ill dealing of Cu∣stomers, for sicknesse, &c. Men are alway complaining. What is the reason? Because they place too much hope and confidence in the creature; they looke not above these things with the eye of faith, and hence comes that disturbance, and disquiet, if the out∣ward meanes be taken from them, they looke not upon that God that hath all meanes and opportunities in his owne hand.
Beleeve in mee, saith Christ, for the heart of man flies off from God; Alas, the Lord is holy, and I am a sinfull man, hee is righ∣teous, and I am sinfull, who shall come before this holy and righ∣teous God? Now when faith can looke upon Christ, and set him betweene God and me, and looke on God through him, now the soule rests, hee lookes on God as a Father through Christ his Sonne; when the soule lookes on Christ, as my husband married to mee, as my head, and I am united to him as a member, as my Lord that hath taken me into his protection, when the soule thus lookes on Christ, now it lookes upon God in all his attributes, wondrousglorious, and comfortable to the soule. This is the thing that I can but touch at this time; There are two things consi∣derable in it.
First, there is no ground of reposing the soule upon God, but by beleeving in Christ, he is the Mediatour. Therefore in Iohn 8. 24. saith Christ, Except you beleeve, that I am hee whom the Father*sent, you shall die in your sinnes. The Iewes, they did beleeve in God, they were the children of Abraham, and worshipped the God of their Fathers, and beleeved in God; but, saith he, except you beleeve in me, that I am he that God hath sent as Mediatour; you shall die in your sinnes. And so in this Chapter; I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man commeth to the Father, but by mee; there is no other way to the Father. That as the high Priest under the law was in all things pertaining to God, hee was betweene God and the people. So Christ our great high Priest is in all things that concerne the glory of God, and the salvation of man, and the ac∣ceptance of a sinner, in all things betweene God and us; Here is the first thing.
Secondly, it is worth our consideration, how Christ comes to be thus, he was willing to die, a cursed, a shamefull, and cruell death of the Crosse, and to be despised and abased, and all this for man, and yet Christ crucified is despised, and scorned in the world, therefore if ever you will have acceptance of God, beleeve in mee, [In mee,] that am now going from you, that am to bee ta∣ken away by a cursed ignominious death: Here is another truth then,
They that beleeve in Christ, must beleeve in Christ abased, and crucified * as well as in Christ in glorie.
That is a thing that flesh and bloud despiseth, indeed all the world speakes well of the profession of the faith, and beleeving Page 605 in Christ, when Christ is in triumph, conquering to conquer, every man glories in Christians, but when Christianitie and profession is cryed downe in the world, when Christ is crucified, when all the world speakes ill of the wayes of Christ, and of the obedience of Faith, now to obey a crucified, scorned despised Christ in the sight of the world, to rest on him in the midst of his abasement this will comfort the heart of a man in the times of the greatest trouble, there is great reason it should be thus.
For Christ is the almightie glorious God in the middest of his abasement, his divinitie was not a whit abated nor his divine excel∣lencies diminished by all his sufferings; you see Christ in the dayes of his flesh, he cast divells out of men, and they obeyed him; The divells were subject unto him, when he conversed among men in the body; nay on the Crosse he saved the Thiefe that confessed him in the sight of all his enemies, when he was a crucified Christ, at that instant he triumphed on the very crosse, and saved a sinner that beleeved at that time, to shew that he was as mightie on the Crosse as he is now at the right hand of the Father.
Now I say, is not Christs glory a whit diminished in his abase∣ment? why should our beleefe bee abated for all the scorne and despite of the world that is cast upon the profession of the faith of Christ?
Now briefly some application of this, and so to take in the rest without amplification, because the time is past.
It should teach us in all disquiet, to know what course is to bee * taken, every one will say I rest upon God, there is sufficient in him to make me happy, But how shall I come to have interest in God? The well is deepe, where is the bucket? what is the meanes to relieve my soule, and to supply my wants? Beleeve in me, saith Christ, let the soule looke on Christ immediatly as the Mediator betweene God and us, this is that I should have spoken of, and a word of exhortation to the purpose.
You will say, what is it to beleeve in Christ. *
The first thing that is done in this, is receiving Christ upon Gods offer of him, God offers Christ in all his offices, as King, Priest and Prophet, as a Lord and Saviour to the Church, and hee would have men take whole Christ, or no part of him. Now if the soule answer to this offer of God, he shall be my Lord to rule me, my Prophet to instruct me, my Saviour upon whom my soule shall rest for salvation, this is the answer of the soule to God, this is the receiving.
Now you must know there must be a right propounding, and a right apprehending of Christ.
You must know first what it is to receive Christ as a Prophet, as one that will instruct us in the truths that are contrarie to naturall Page 606 principles in the corrupt understanding of man, he will leade you now in the way of the Wildernesse, in by pathes, in crooked rough wayes, he will teach you to deny your selves.
The first rule that he gives, is for a man to deny himselfe, as if * he should say, that is the first worke: hee died to pull downe all the old frame, and to set it up againe; For what is the understanding of man, but a frame of false principles? for the naturall minde of man, it is nothing but a habit, a heape, a pile of false principles, that every man perisheth by the delusion of his owne understanding: now the first worke of Christ is to dissolve this frame and to blot out these rules wherby men walke when they are led by sence, and naturall reason, and observation of the world; now these must all be taken away, and a man must resolve all now into the authority of Christs speaking. A word of Christ is enough against a thousand examples in the world, and against a thousand reasons of a mans owne corrupt heart. This is to receive Christ as a Prophet, when I will not walke by the rules of my deluded reason, and corrupt minde, after which I was carried before, but the Word of Christ shall carry mee in all things, here is obedience of faith in matter of Doctrine.
And so to receive Christ as a King, would you know what a King he is? hee is a holy King, whose lawes are all right, the Law * of Faith is a righteous Law, and the obedience of Faith must be obe∣dience to righteousnesse, that is righteous obedience wherein a man labours more and more to perfit holines in the feare of God.
Hence comes all that care to mortifie corruptions, and to frame the inward man to conforme to those rules that are taught by Christ as a Prophet; the soule receiving Christ as a King gives it self to obey all the rules and directions that Christ in his Word as a Prophet hath left: and this it doth in faith, that is, looking upon his authoritie that hath commanded it; for that is properly an act of faith when things are done upon this ground, upon the au∣thoritie of him that hath revealed it, I beleeve it to bee his will, because hee hath revealed it; and it is my dutie, because it is his will; Thus the soule resolves all to Christ, as a Prophet and a King.
And then it rests on him as a Priest, and comforts it selfe in Spirit, * now for a man when he wants comfort hee must not seperate the offices of Christ, and say I will rest on Christ as a Priest; these are errours and delusions. Shall a man be saved by a halfe Faith, by a peece of Faith? To looke on Christ in one office, and to thinke to bee saved onely by that without concurring, and con∣comitating in the other offices? Beloved as Christ is intire in all his offices, so the faith of a beleever is intire looking upon all his offices; therefore wee must receive him as King, Priest and Prophet,Page 607 that hee may be wisedome, righteousnesse, sanctification, and redemp∣tion, that he may bee all to the beleeving soule, for present, and for future happinesse, else if Christ bee not all, he will be nothing, men must not please themselves to looke upon one office of Christ, and to neglect all the rest.
When this is done come to the maine matter, the soule is bea∣ten off; as when a man is in a Boate getting to land after ship∣wracke, there comes a storme and beats him backe againe when he thinkes hee is even at the shore, but still hee takes hold on the Boate and keepes his eye upon the shore: So the soule when it comes to this to be beate off againe, still it keepes the shore in its sight, and directs it selfe towards Christ, that should bee the end and ayme of all a mans indeavours, the true object of faith, I be∣seech you consider this point.
But a man will say, though I be carefull to receive him (I speake * of weake Christians, or of strong Christians that are weakened by temptations) Alas what hope have I in Christ, Christ is in heaven, and I am upon the earth?
Did Christ when he was upon the earth, so tender the trouble * of his servants at that time, as that when hee himselfe was to suffer, yet he tooke care to comfort them, be not you troubled but beleeve in me; As if hee should say, though I bee exposed to a world of trou∣ble, and at this time my soule is heavy unto death, yet be not troubled: was he so carefull when he was in his owne troubles on earth to comfort them? and will he not now be so in heaven, when hee is in blessednesse? certainly the soule that hath recourse to Christ shall not returne emptie; therefore see how Christ is exprest in heaven, Matth. 25. Come yee blessed, &c. for what you have done to these you have done to me, hee is in heaven; and so Saul, why dost thou per∣secute me? hee is in heaven, yet in respect of his Church hee is be∣low; therefore be assured that Christ hath not put off the bowels of love to his people, he will bee the same if thou receive him as a Lord and Saviour as ever he was to his Disciples.
But it may be objected, wee are exposed to many uncertainties * though wee beleeve in Christ, and wee finde not the comfort of it here.
Therefore Christ saith, rest not upon things present, here you are in Tents, but you shall come to your fathers house, there is *a place provided for you, betweene which and this there is as much difference as is betweene a House and a Tent, betweene a mans owne mansion and an Inne. And though you have hard entertainement in the world, yet you shall have an abiding place after.
But you will say, indeede there are mansions, but there are aboundance to receive them, what shall we doe? *
Page 608 There are many mansions, therefore looke as there are many * children to be brought to glory, so there are many places to re∣ceive them in glory, and to settle them there: wee see what a vast body the Sunne is, and the Starres are, yet they seeme but little sparkes in comparison of the heavens above us, but what is the heaven of heavens that containe all these? infinitly beyond in its owne compasse; there are many mansions.
But how shall we come to heaven? *
Saith Christ, I goe to prepare a place for you; as if he should say, all * that I have done, is for your sakes, I die and ascend, and sit at the right hand of God for your sakes, I will come at the day of judge∣ment to bring you to glory, all that Christ doth now, as God∣man, as Mediator betweene good and us, all is for our sake.
But when Christ is taken from us, how shall wee get thi∣ther. *
Saith he, I will come, and bring you with me, I will come in glory * at the day of Iudgement in the clouds and inable you to meete me; and thence bring you to those heavenly mansions in my fathers house, never doubt how these things shall bee done, I will doe them all; Thus Christ would confirme their faith, there is the greatest happinesse and comfort in this, wherein he would have them setled; this should stir us up to settle our hearts, this way; But the time is past, this shall be suffici∣ent for this time.