DOCT. II. That the way which God hath found out to save lost Man, namely Jesus Christ, ought to be beheld with the greatest Care or utmost Diligence; and with the greatest Admiration and Wonderment.
1. I shall shew wherein, (in speaking to this Proposition,) the wonderfulness of this spiritual Ladder doth consist.
2. How we should behold Jesus Christ.
3. Shew you why we should behold him.
4. For what Sinners, should behold Christ, or look to him.
5. Apply it.—To the first of these.
1. To behold this spiritual Ladder in respect of the Cause, or Motive that moved God to make, or prepare it.
2. In respect of the Wisdom of God that did prepare it.
3. In respect of the Matter of which it is made, or doth consist.
4. In respect of the great and glorious Design of God, in making or preparing of it.
*First, we may well admire, this spiritual Ladder, Jesus Christ, in respect of th• Motive which moved God to prepare it, which was his infinite Love, Mer∣cy, and Goodness to Sinners, to shew so great Com∣passi•n towards sinful and r•bellious Creatures, who deserv•d instead of being raised up to Heaven, to be immediately cast down to the lowest Hell. What is Man,*that thou art mindful of him? that thou shouldst magnif•• him, and set thy heart upon him?
Sirs, it was the love of God the Father, I say that t•is way was prepared, it sprang or proceeded from the greatness of his love; God so loved the W•rld;* if it had not been the product of the Father's Lo•e, it w••l• not be to the praise of 〈◊〉 Grace; the love of the F•ther in this case, in Moving, was as great as the 〈◊〉 in Consenting.
Page 71O how did his Bowels work and move in him! O the miraculousness of divine goodness! by the law we had broke, we were guilty,* insolently taking up Arms against our Maker, plunging ourselves into a Sea of divine Wrath and Vengeance; guilty of Mil∣lions of Sins, meritting Millions of Deaths, yet has love would not let him rest until he had found out a way to raise us up from the lowest Hell to the high∣est Heaven. And in making his Son, his only be∣gotten Son the way, and that by Abasing of him, making him so Poor, that was so Rich, so Low, that was so High and Glorious; so Cursed, that was so Blessed, yea Blessedness it self; nay, so miserable for a time; to make our way to Heaven thro' the rend∣ing his Flesh, and taring his Soul to pieces, and pouring forth his most precious Blood, and this for such who hated him, and were cursed Traitors against him; well might the holy Ghost say, Behold, a lad∣der! behold, a new and living way, which he hath provided, and consecrated thro' the Veil, that is to say, the Flesh of his own Son: O my Brethren, the way to enter into the Holiest, is by the blood of Jesus!* Doth not God hereby shew greater Love and Grace, than if he had saved lost Sinners on a way of sim∣ple Mercy, without the Death of his own Son?
*Secondly, Admire this Sacred Ladder in respect of the Wisdom of God, in contriving of this way to Heaven: As it exceeds the Art and Wisdom of Men to make a Ladder to reach up to Heaven; so it far surpasseth the Wisdom of Men or Angels, to contrive such a way to Heaven, that God may be glorified in all his Attributes, to the highest Perfections, and yet we Saved, Sin Punished, and yet the Sinner Ju∣stified: Besides, God had lost the glory of his work in making of Man and this World for his sake, and Satan would have insulted over him, had he not con∣trived a way to restore him:*
By Jesus Christ, Brethren, God's Right is preser∣ved, he loseth nothing of his own Glory, of his own Honour, but it is more enlarged and manifested, than if Man had never fallen; and Man is restored to a better and more lasting State of Happiness.
*Thirdly, The way to Heaven by Jacob's Ladder, ought to be beheld with the greatest Admiration in respect of the Matter of which it is made; all Lad∣ders (as well as all other things) consist of matter and form, — But, O what is the Matter with which this divine Ladder is made! I answer it is the Son of God made Man, even he that made the Woman, made of a Woman; is not this won∣derful, to see the Ancient of Days, become a Babe of a Day Old? is it not a marvellous thing, To see him that was in the form of God,*and that thought it not Robbery to be equal with God, to be in the form of a Servant, and to lye in a Man•er• To see him that made the Creature, to be trod under¦foot of the Creature, and hel• in scorn and con∣tempt, and dishonoured, to raise such as we so the highest honour? Is it not an amazing thing, to see Jesus made a Curse to raise Sinners from under the Curse to eternal Bl•••edness? We account that a marvellous thing that is New, a thing that none ever did, nor could do the like; For the Lord hath created a new thi•• in the Earth, a Woman shall compass a Man.* A Child Created, not Begotten, but Created in the Virgin's Womb by the Lord, Page 75 is not that a marvellous thing? and above the Rea∣son or Understanding of men, though of the deepest Judgment, Wisdom, and Knowledge, that ever lived upon the Earth? But su•h is the Incarnation of Christ, and the Hypostatical Union of the Two Natures in that One Person; no man by reason can Comprehend h•w th•s could be. My •••thren, this is a mysterious Ladder, and made of a •••derful Materials: Is it not an amazing thing, that God should give his own Son a Sacrifice for Rebels,* such that hated him? and that God should purchase the Church with his own Blood? Is it not a marvellous thing, that the King upon the Throne should lay a∣side his Robes, and dye for c•rsed Traytors, and contemptible Beggers? Is not that a wonderful thing which Non-plusses all the Wisdom of Men and An∣gels? Is it not a wonderful thing that God and Man, or the divine and humane Nature should be so uni∣ted to be but one Person? and is it not strange and wonderful that vile Sinners should be made Righte∣ous by the Righteousness of another? and that sinful Man should be cloathed with a more glorious Robe than any of the holy Angels of Heaven have? Is it not a marvellous thing, that Death should be over∣come and destroyed by Death? and that a Man should Dye, and yet be capable to raise himself from the Dead?
Behold this Ladder! is it not made of beaten Gold? Is it not a costly Ladder, of more Worth than ten thousand Worlds? What are Pearls or Diamonds to this Pearl? What precious Stones may be compared to this precious tryed Stone? This Ladder is made of one precious Stone, yet so made, that there is firm and sure Footing in it for all that venture thereon, to carry them to Heaven.
Fourthly, It should be beheld with Admiration,* in respect of the Design of it. O my Brethren, never was a Ladder made on so high, so sublime, and on so great, and so glorious a Design as this is!
Page 761. For to manifest the Glory of God, or to ad∣vance his own Honour in the sight and view of all his elect ones.
2. To magnify the Law.
3. To destroy the work and design of the Devil.
4. And to raise up poor fallen man into a most happy and glorious State and Condition for ever.
Certainly, to behold such a Ladder, that is set upon the Earth, and the top of it reacheth up to Hea∣ven, it must needs denote some wonderful and glo∣rious Design and End of the blessed God. It shews that hereby God would have Jacob know, and all his true Seed, that man's happiness doth not consist in any earthly Blessings: it is not below, but above, yea that it lyes only in hi• self, and that we must ob∣serve the way, know well the way he hath prepared for us, to attain to that true Happiness, and that it is to be had in Union and Communion with himself: But to proceed.
First, The Design of God the Father in the con∣triving this way, this glorious and wonderful Medi∣um, or this spiritual and mystical Ladder, is to mag∣nify and advance his own Glory, in respect of his own Person, and the Glory of his Son, and the Glory of the Holy-Ghost; for every sacred Person of the blessed Trinity, shines forth in equal Glory in the Contrivance and Accomplishment of our Salvation by Jesus Christ.
1. The Glory of the Father is manifested in Ele∣ction; or in Chusing all that shall be Saved in Christ.
2. The Glory of the Son in Redemption; or in dying to redeem them.
3. The Glory of the Holy Spirit in Sanctification; or in Renewing and Regenerating of them.
So many the Father Elected, so many the Son Re∣deemed, and so many the Spirit Sanctifies. So in Justi∣fication, (Christ's Righteousness being called a Robe) the three Persons are equally Glorified and Exalted.
Page 771. The Father prepar'd the Matter out of which the Robe of Righteousness is made; viz. The Body of Christ.
2. The Son wrought it by his own active and pas∣sive Obedience.
3. The Holy-Ghost puts it upon us, by working Faith in us.
And not only the Glory of God personally consi∣der'd, but also the Glory of all the divine Attributes, or Perfections of the blessed God-head, are Magni∣fied and Exalted also hereby.
1. The Glory of his infinite Love, Mercy, and Goodness, (which you have heard) is the grand Mo∣tive that moved God the Father, or put him upon this glorious Contrivance; which is the rise, spring and fountain of all our Happiness.
2. Moreover, the Glory of his infinite Wisdom, Truth, Justice, Power, and Holiness.
The Glory of his Justice: God is Just; he can as soon cease to be, as cease to be Just.* God declar'd, if Man Sinn'd he should dye; therefore either he must destroy Man to preserve his Truth and Justice, and see his Law not violated and turned upside down, and so conceal his Mercy; or else find out a way to satisfy his Justice, and preserve his Truth, that his Love and Mercy may appear; there∣fore his VVisdom found out a way for the Honour both of Justice and Mercy, by laying our Sins up∣on his own Son as our Surety, and to undergo that Wrath and Punishment, which we must otherwise have undergone for ever.
Here is, Brethren, no changing the Sentence a∣gainst Sin, but of the Person; our Sins and Punish∣ment are transferred upon Jesus Christ; and since it was infinite Justice our Sins had wronged, an infinite Punishment must be Suffered, which none but one that was God could bear, nor satisfy for: and now the full Payment or Satisfaction Christ made to divine Justice, put a Bar, or delivered h•m Page 78 from the eternal duration of the Punishment: for the cause why Sinners lye in Hell, or in Prison for ever, arises from their inability to satisfie or pay their Debts; but from the worth and dignity of Christ's Person, Justice is Satisfie•, and he acquitted, and discharged out of Prison, and we in him. Besides, none but God could be a proper Judge; what could be a suffici•nt Satisfaction to his vindictive Wrath and Justice, but when God declares that in his Son he is well pleased, and satisfied? who shall say this could not be a proper and legal discharge for us? Moreover, this discovers Go•'s infinite Holiness and hatred of Sin, more than if we had suffered for ever, in his making his own Son a Sacrifice for our Sins, and not sparing him when he stands in our Law-place. Here (as one observes) was the Beauty of his Holiness, as well as the exactness of his Ju∣stice, with the vin••cation of the Honour of his Law, displaying the Purity of his Nature, by sheathing his Sword with Indign•••on in the Bowels of Sin, while he pierced the Heart of his beloved Son.
The like I might speak of all God's other blessed Attributes; his end was to magnifie them hereby, as well as his Wisdom, Love, Mercy, and Justice: But to proceed,
*Secondly, His Design herein also was to magnify the Law, and make it honourable; the law looses none of it Sanction by Jesus Christ; the law requir∣ed Man to keep it, Man to yield perfect Obedience to God therein, and Man to dye, and bear the Pe∣nalty for the breach of it.
But lo! here is a Man, (nay one more then Man, even God-Man, the Son of God, made Man, made of a Woman, made under the Law) come on purpose to stand in our Law-place, to honour this Law, to yield active and perfect Obedience unto it, and to dye for our breach thereof. This is more than the Law could, or did require; the law hath more then it's just Demand, for by Christ's keeping of it, and Page 79 dying for our Sin•, he hath meritted as well as satis∣fied; he hath meritted those things of God, which the Law could not have given us; had we never broke it, that could not have made us so near to God, so great, so glorious, and so happy for ever, as we are made by the merits, and purchase of Jesus Christ. But more of that by and by.
Do we make void the law thro' Faith, God forbid:*Yea we establish the law: In that by Christ's Obe∣dience to the Law, or by his perfect active Obedi∣ence, and Death, apprehended by Faith we are Justified, and the Law for ever silenced: Christ ha∣ving satisfied the Justice of God, broke the Thunders of the Law, and dissolved the frame of all its Ana∣thema's: He being made a Curse for us,*he hath re∣deemed us from the curse of the Law: He hath abo∣lished the Obligation of the Moral Law as to its Condemning Power, and hath by his blood sealed another Covenant, a New-Covenant, a better Co∣venant: the first hath been perfectly kept, and the sentence of it hath been undergone;* and its killing power is taken away to all that are in Christ Jesus. And thus, see how the Law is magnified, lifted up, and made Honourable: i. e. rather then that shall loose any of its Honour, the Son of God will be∣come Man and answer all its Demands, in doing, and suffering what we ought to have done, and suffer∣ed, and for our default must have endured for ever.
Thirdly, God's design hereby also was to destroy the Works of the Devil, in respect of Original Sin, which was Satan's Work, and of all actual Sins, which are his cursed works also: i. e. such works that he imploys all Men in, and stirs them up to do, until they are delivered out of his Kingdom:*For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the Works of the Devil: Who is the Author of all Sin, and the Worker of all Iniquity: and as God's design was to destroy Sin, the work of the Devil, so it was also hereby to destroy Satans De∣signPage 80 likewise, which was to rob God of the Glory of his own Work and Purpose, in creating of Man; he thought to have utterly ruined Mankind, and laid him for ever as low as Hell, but God by this means, by this Spiritual Ladder, shews his purpose is to raise hi• up to the highest Heavens. This brings me to the last thing Proposed, as Gods design hereby.
Fourthly, Gods design hereby was to raise up poor fal∣len Man into a more happy and glorious State, than he was in before he fell: Every Believer is made hereby a Son or Daughter of God, born of God, adopted by the Free-grace of God, and made an Heir of God; nay, married to the Son of God, and cloathed with the Righteousness of God, or with 〈◊〉 Righteousness, who is God, and from this State can ne∣ver fall. So mu•h as to the First thing proposed i.e In what respects this Ladder, Jesus Christ, should be b•∣held.
Secondly, I shall shew you how, or in what res∣pect we should behold Jesus Christ.
*First, Exclusively, or by way of opposition to all other Objects or Things: We should behold Jesus Christ, as our only Saviour, exclusive of all other Ways, Object, or Means of obtaining eternal Life, whatsoever.
1. Exclusively, or in Opposition to the Law, and the Righteousness any can obtain by their own personal Obedience thereunto, we ought to behold Jesus Christ: Some, in the Apostles time, expected Justification by their own Obedience to the moral and ceremonial Law;*but Israel, that followed after the Law of Righteousness, hath not attained to the Law of R•ghteousness: vers. 31. Wherefore? because they sought it not by Faith, but as it were by the works of the Law; for they stumbled at that stumbling-stone. vers. 32. They being ignorant of Gods Righteousness, and going about to establish their own Righteousness. have not submitted themselves to the Righteousness of God.* That is, by their personal, and own inherent Righteousness.
Page 812. Exclusive of all our Works, or Righteousness done by us, or wrought in us as part •f the matter of our Justification before God; or as any procur∣ing Cause, or Condition of our Justification and eternal Life. For since all Boasting is excluded, all Works done by us, and Righteousness wrought in us, are excluded; but all Boasting is excluded &c. Where is boasting then? it is excluded,*by what Law? of Works; nay, but by the Law of Faith.
3. Exclusive of any other Sacrifice for Sin, or Mediators: The Papists look to their own vain Sa∣crifices, Offerings and Pennance, an• seek to other Mediators also, to the detracting from the worth and satisfactory Sacrifice of Christ once for all; but as there is but one Mediator between God and Man, the Man Christ Jesus;* so there is but one Propiciatory Sacrifice, which he offered up upon the Cross.*
4. Nay, we should behold this Ladder, i.e. Jesus Christ, exclusive of Faith it self, either as an habit,* or act, or in respect of its being any Condition, or Cause, procuring our Justification;* or as touching the effects, or fruits of it, or any ways else whatsoe∣ver, save only as an Instrument by which we appre∣hend or receive Jesus Christ:* For it is not Faith which Justifieth us, but the Object which it apprehends and takes hold of;* it was not the eye that beheld the brazen Serpent in the Wilderness that healed those that were stung, but the Brazen Serpent, that was beheld or lookt unto.
Secondly, We must behold Jesus Christ by an eye of Faith, or believe in him, venture our Souls upon him; Thus it is to behold him.
1. To believe there is no Salvation, but by and thro' Jesus Christ alone;*Neither is there Salvati∣on in any other; for there is no other Name given under Heaven, whereby we must be saved. No other Saviour for Soul or Body, for Pardon or Peace.
2. To believe, tho' there is no Salvation in any other, or in nothing else; yet that there is Salvation Page 82 in Christ, for all that come unto him, or savingly be∣lieve in him;*Whosoever believeth in him, shall not perish but have everlasting Life. And indeed, to this end is Christ lifted up (as a Ladder, the top of which reaches to Heaven: As the Brazen Serpent was lif∣ted up,) that the vilest Sinners who behold him by an eye of Faith might be saved.
3. To believe in Christ, or thus to behold him, is to lay the whole stress of our Salvation upon him, and upon his Atonement, upon his Righteousness, or upon the Merits of his Blood alone.
4. To behold Christ, is to believe that he hath made our Peace with God; that God is satisfied and well pleased in him; that divine Wrath is appeased in him;* and that he Dyed for you, or in your stead.
*5. To behold Christ, is to apply his Blood, and plead his Atonement against all Accusations that may be brought against you.
1 When Satan lays the greatness of our Sins be∣fore us, and aggravates them upon our Consciences, it is then our Duty to repell his Assaults, and Implead him,* by Pleading that Christ's Blood hath fully atto∣ned and satisfied for all our Sins,* both those Sins we committed before Called,* and for all our Sins com∣mitted after we are Called.
2. When our Consciences acc•se us, 'tis our Duty and Priviledge to Plead the Blood of Christ;* and look up to him who is our Advocate at the Father's Right-h•nd.
3. When Men accuse us for our Faults and Fail∣ings, we must behold Jesus Christ, and believe the Sufficiency of his Righteousness, and the Vertue and Merits of his Blood:*Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's Elect? it is God that Justifies. Who is he that Condemneth? it is Christ that dyed, yea, rather that is risen again; who is even at the Right-hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who can Implead su•h, or put in any Accusation a∣gainst them whom God actually Acquits, Justifies and Page 83 pronounceth Righteous? The Apostle saith; (our late •nnotators say)that such:
Thirdly, To behold Jesus Christ by Faith, is to go directly to him as your Saviour, and Adv•cate; let your sins be what they will, knowing that he is able to save you, and that he hath b•rn all the punishment due that your sins deserved; and this without think∣ing of bringing any thing with you to Commend you to him: He requires no previous Qualifications of us; Sinners must look to Christ, come to Christ in their Sins, beholding their loathsome Filth, and abo∣minable Guilt, feeling and finding that their Wounds bleed, and are corrupt; and not to think to Wash themselves from their Sins by Repentance, and Tears of Sorrow for Sin, that they may Believe, but come to him, to be Washed; Believe in him that they may be Justified and Healed; Faith will produce Repen∣tance; They shall look to him whom they pierced, and they shall mourn, as a Man mourns for his only Son;*and be in bitterness, as a Man is in bitterness for his First-born.
Fourthly, We should behold Christ as a Sure way to the Father: This Ladder will bring us to God, who is at the Top of it, or above it; and as this only is the Way, so it is a Sure way: No Man cometh to the Father but by me: By Christ we believe in God,* and come to God, not directly to God, without eye∣ing of this Medium; no, no, God out of Christ is an angry God, a consuming ••ire:* therefore we must come to God, by Christ as our Mediator, and co•mit our cause to him to plead at God's Bar.
Thirdly, Why we should behold this Ladder, or look unto Jesus Christ?
1. Because he is the way to Heaven,* which infinite Wisdom hath found out; nay the result of that glo∣rious Page 84 Counsel held between the Father and the Son from eternity:* Not to behold this Way, this Lad∣der, this Mediator, is to cast contempt on God, in his contrivance of Salvation by Jesus Christ.
2. Because there is so much divine Love, Grace and Goodness shewed to us in Jesus Christ.
3. Because this Sight is so Wonderful a Sight•: Christ Brethren, is the wonder of both Worlds; O 'tis an amazing thing, to see such a Way, such a Lad∣der prepared for us to go to God!
4. Christ should be beheld because of the Loveli∣ness (as well as the Wonderfulness) of his Person: There is no such Object to be seen in Heaven, nor Earth.
5. Because there is in him all Fulness; We beheld his glory,*as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of Grace and Truth. The Word, as one observes, is Emphatical, [itheasametha,] we beheld, as in a Theatre, as Men behold things presented to them on a Stage, with great earnestness, and delight; even as the express Image of the Father's Person; it plea∣sed the Father,*that in him all fulness should •awe•. He received the Spirit of Grace without measure, and 'tis in him to be Communicated to all his Elect, or Members of his mystical Body, as fulness of Sap is in the Root, to supply all the Branches.
6. Because this of beholding, or looking to Jesus Christ, is the way God hath appointed for our Re∣ception, or Participation of all the Benefits and Me∣rits of his Blood; nor is there any other way, but thro' believing in him, for any Adult Persons to be Saved.
7. Because of the absolute necessity Sinners have of him; they are sick, and he is their Physician, &c.
*Fifthly, For what, or to receive what, should we behold Jesus Christ.
1. For Reco•ciliat•on and Peace with God: All thi••s are of God,*who reconciled us unto himself 〈…〉,*To 〈◊〉, th•t God was in Page 85 Christ, reconciling the World to himself, not imputing their Tres•asses unto them; This is the meri∣ter•ous cause of our Reconciliation: God in Christ, or by his Blood, is Satisfied, and Reconciled; and all that would have peace with God, must Believe,* or look to Christ, to receive the Attonement: Christ hath received an actual discharge for Sinners from his Father, and you must come to him for it, and re∣ceive the Benefit and Evidence of it to your own Con∣sciences: All that the Father hath given me,*shall come unto me; and whosoever cometh unto me, I wi•l in no wise cast out. There is an infallible Connexi∣on betwixt Faith and eternal Life; and betwixt E∣lection and the Collection of special Grace;* and as Election is first, special Vocation will follow; and as many as were ordained to eternal Life, believed. For the Father's gift of the Soul to Christ, and of Grace to believe in him, is no doubt here ment by his giv∣ing them to his Son.
2. •herefore you must first look to him for Grace,* for Fait•; God pours ou• the Spirit of Grace and Sup∣plicat•on first, and then a Sinner looks to him w•om he pierced; that is, then and not till then he will be∣lieve, or savingly behold Jesus Christ.
3. Sinners must behold Christ, look to Christ for Ʋnion with him, and to be espoused to him:*Look till they Love; behold him, till they fall in Love with him. The holy Spirit is the bond of this Union,* by which Christ takes hold of us, and Faith is that Grace, by which we take hold of him.
4. For Justification:* Whosoever hath Union with Christ, receives their personal Discharge from the Law-Sentence, that bound them over to Wrath,* and Condemnation; and are actually pronounced Ac∣quitted, and Justified for ever.
5. For Acceptation with the Father;* who hath made us accepted in the beloved, Christ's acceptance by the Father, is the Spring, or Fountain of our Ac∣ceptance, he being accepted for, and in the behalf of Page 86 all his Elect: And no sooner is a Sinner in Christ, but he stands personally Justified, and accepted with the Father; and he being accepted, all his Duties and Services are accepted also, that he performs in Faith, and by the assistance of the Spirit of God.
*6. For Pardon of Sin; and to have it evidenced unto their Consciences: In whom we have Redemp∣tion thro' his Blood, even the forgiveness of Sins.
*7. For Strength: Surely shall one say, in the Lord have I Righteousness, and Strength, Righteousness to Justifie me, and Strength to Support me, and Assist∣ance to bear all Burdens, resist all Temptations, to strengthen all my Graces, and to perform all holy Duties.
*8. For all divine Comforts and Consolations: If there be therefore any Consolations in Christ, if any comfort of Love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, &c. Tho' many may be in Christ, and find no such Con∣solations, which others meet with, yet there are most precious Consolations in him, and we should look to him for them.
Lastly, We should behold him; look to him for eternal Life: Eternal Life is purchased by Christ, and 'tis to be had in Christ, and all that believe h•ve an undoubted Title thereto.