CHRIST ALONE THE Way to Heaven: OR, JACOB'S LADDER IMPROVED, &c.
GENESIS, xxviij. xij. xiij.
1. And he Dreamed, and behold, a Ladder set upon the Earth, and the top of it reach∣ed to Heaven: and behold the Angels of God ascending and descending on it.
2. And behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham, thy Father, &c.
JACOB having got the Blessing, was sent away by Isaac his Father, and it is said verse 10. That he went from Beersheba, and went towards Haran. And
Night coming on, he laid himself down to sleep, tho' he had but hard lodging, For he took of the Stones of the place, and put them for his Pillow. v. 11.
And he Dreamed, and behold a Ladder, &c.
Page 2Jacob was like to meet with great Trouble, being forc'd to fly for fear of his Life; (Esau being in∣raged against him, first for getting his Birth-right; and now also his Blessing.) God no doubt gave him this Dream to succour and comfort him in his Jour∣ny; and not only so, but to discover a greater Good to him than his present Support; even to make known by this Dream, the Messiah that should proceed from his Loyns, by whom he, and all his true Seed should ascend to Heaven, and be with God for ever.
In my Text are Two Things to be noted.
*I. A Vision: viz. He saw a Ladder, the Top reach∣ing to Heaven.
II. An Oracle, or Voice from Heaven; God spake to him saying, I am the Lord thy God, &c.
It may be necessary to speak a little briefly by way of Explication, and chiefly to shew what may be ei∣ther Primarily, or more Remotely, or Subordinately signified, or held forth by this Ladder.
1. I understand by this Ladder directly, and Pri∣marily is meant our Lord Jesus Christ: Nor am I alone in this respect; for divers learned Men hint the same thing; among which I might mention our late 〈◊〉 upon the Holy Bible, on the place, be••• by Reverend Mr. Pool. He says, This Ladder represents Christ, by whom Heaven and Earth are united; who is called the way to Heaven, which this Ladder was. Moreover, very evident it is, that our Saviour himself refers to Jacob's Ladder, Joh. 1.51. speaking of himself and of the Angels ascending and descending upon, the Son of Man.
2. But more Remotely or Subordinately it may refer (as some think) to the Church of Christ: Some being on Earth, and others in Heaven; of their going from Earth to Heaven; and as thus, it may represent God's special Providence, and Care of Jacob, either Personally considered, or Mystically i. e. the whole Church, bearing the name of Jacob who by degree•. thro' the Providence and blessed Page 3 Favour of God, and ministration of the Angels, as∣cend from a low State, to an exalted State, or from a State of Grace on Earth, to a state of Glory in Heaven. It may represent (saith Mr. Pool) to Ja∣cob, the Providence of God; who though he dwells in Heaven, extends his Care, and Goverment to the Earth; and particularly maketh use of Angels as ministering Spirits, for the good of his People; who are not Idle but always in motion.
Behold a Ladder, &c.] This word, [Behold,] hath various Acceptations; sometimes it calls for Observation, and Attention; and sometimes for Ad∣miration; Behold what manner of Love is this!* &c. It may referr to both these in my Text: Such a Ladder, the Foot standing upon the Earth, and the Top of it reaching to Heaven, calls both for diligent Attention, and Observation; and also for the highest Admiration.
The Second Branch of this Vision is, That of the Angels of God ascending and descending upon this Ladder▪ or upon the Son of Man:*Verily verily I say unto you, hereafter ye shall see Heaven open, and the Angels of God ascending, and descending up∣on the Son of Man.
There are Two Things to be noted.
- 1. The Persons mentioned.
- 2. The Motions of the Persons.
1. The Persons mentioned are the Angels of God.
2. The Motion of these Persons, they ascended, and descended, Reciprocally upon this Ladder; that is, upon Christ, either Personally, or Mystically considered; and as one Observes, when they are said to ascend, they Minister to Christ Personally consi∣dered; and when said to descend, they minister to Christ Mystically considered: i.e. to the Church.
How the Angels minister to Christ, and to his Church, I purpose to speak unto, and open that in one Sermon upon this Text, and shall therefore speak no more to it now.
Page 4And behold, the Lord God stood above it. In our Text this word [behold] is thrice repeated, which doubtless may den•te the important matter signified thereby.
By the [Lord God,] I understand, GOD the FATHER, who is represented above it, as the contriver and maker of this mystical Ladder; who indeed prepared the Body of Christ, and so found out this wonderful way to Heaven;*and said, I am the Lord thy God; that is in Christ, I am thy God, or a God in Covenant with thee Jacob, and with all thy true Spiritual Seed,* who strive to ascend up to me by this glorious Medium: for doubtless, God the Father being above it, it doth al∣so denote; that this Ladder is the only way to the Father;*No man cometh to the Father, but by me. So much by way of Explication.
I. Observ.] God knows how (even by Dreams) to instruct and comfort his People.
*The Apostle saith, That God at sundry times, and in divers manners,*spake in times past unto the Fa∣thers by the Prophets. Sometimes by Angels; some∣times by special Inspiration; sometimes by Visions, and sometimes by Dreams; In a Dream, in a Vision of the Night;*when deep Sleep falleth upon Men, in slumbring upon their Beds, then he openeth the ears of Men, and sealeth their Instruction.
I shall speak a little as to Dreams, in general, of wh•el• there are three sorts.
- 1. Natural Dreams.*
- 2. Diabolical Dreams.
- 3. Divine Dreams.
1. Some Dreams are meer natural Dreams; and these may arise from the Temperature of the Body; Melancholy,* and Flegmatick Persons, have their spe∣cial Dreams; so have those that are of a Sanguine, or of a Cholerick Complexion: The First, as Na∣turalists observe, are inclined to Dream of things •en•ing to Sadness; perhaps of Death, of GravesPage 5 or of dead Men. The Second, of Sottish things. The Third, of Pleasant and Delightful things. The Fourth, of War, Blood, Contention; or of Fighting, and Wranglings.
2. A Dream cometh through multitude of Business;* Commonly (as Mr. Caryl observes) a Man Dreams at Night of what he hath been doing in the Day, as experience shews.
3. Natural Dreams, some affirm are caused by the Diet, or Food which we eat, some Meat, espe∣cially inclining to some special thoughts and Dreams.
4. As the same Author noteth also, Natural Dreams arise from vehement Affections, to, or desire of, what we want; the Prophet signifieth;*The hungry Man Dreameth he Eateth, and the thirsty Man Dreameth he Drinketh: These are called Na∣tural Dreams because they arise from Natural Causes; or the rise of them are seated in Nature.
Secondly, There are some Dreams that are no doubt Diabolical, or arise from the Injections of the Devil; I am subject to think, but few godly Chri∣stians, but by sad experience may find they at some times have been afflicted by filthy or hateful Dreams, dreaming of such things which their Souls abhor; ask them, and they will tell you: The Devil well knows what Corruptions are in our Hearts, or in the Unregenerate part; and if God restrains him not, he may work upon, and stir up those evil Hu∣mours when we are asleep: Take Mr. Caryl's words; Satan is skilful and diligent in soliciting our Lusts and Corruptions both Day and Night, both Sleeping and Waking: Yea, the Devil can inspire false Doctrines and Opinions by Dreams, as well as provoke to wicked Practises of such Dreams: If there be among you a false Prophet,*or a dreamer of Dreams, &c. False Prophets had many Dreams; and as the good Prophets had their Dreams from GOD, so the false Prophets had their Dreams from the Devil. All diabolical Dreams are either DreamsPage 6 of Lies, or Falshood, like Satan himself; or else, Filthy and Defiling, for he is an unclean Spirit.
Thirdly, There are some Divine Dreams. Dreams are of three sorts, saith Reverend Mr. Perkins:
1. Because they arise immediately from God's Spirit; it is the divine Spirit that Injects those Thoughts into our Hearts whilst we Sleep.
2. Because the Subject matter of them is Divine, Spiritual, or Heavenly; God speaking hereby un∣to us, and sealing up either Instruction, Reproof, or Comfort to our Souls. Mr. Caryl Notes Five Messages God sends Men by Dreams, which take as followeth.
There are some who affirm that a Man is never in a sound, or deep Sleep when he Dreameth; which certainly is a great mistake:* For doth not the Text say, That a deep Sleep fell on Abraham when God by a Dream revealed to him what should become of his Posterity, and how they should be in Egypt Four Hundred Years.
I find that Divines give several Reasons why God used to apply himself to Man by Dreams; or this way speaketh to him: Of which Mr. Caryl gives five Reasons:
1. Because in Sleep, Man is (as I may say) at best leisure for God to deal with him; he is not so busy nor distracted,* or hurried with the Affairs of this Life: Some Men are so fill'd with earthly thoughts whilst awake, that they have no time, no leisure to hear what God hath either by his Word, or by Conscience to say unto them.
2. Because when they are awake, they are ready to debate and discuss what they receive by their own Reason, we are subject (as he observes) to Logick it with God, or use Arguments to avoid sharp Con∣victions darted into the mind: But in Sleep we take things barely as offered, without Reasonings, or Disputings against it.
3. Because in Sleep, when all is still and quiet, that which God represents to us, takes more with the Soul, and leaves a deeper Impression upon the Mind of Man; for common experience teacheth us how Dreams, (and specially some) stick; and Page 8 how those Apprehensions which we have in our Sleep dwell with us, and abide in our Memory, when a∣wake: Nay, perhaps some remarkable Dream we had Twenty, Thirty, nay, more than 40 years ago, are still fresh in our Minds, we finding it was of God and full of Instruction: As I could tell you of one I had when Young; a discovery to me of those great Troubles and Sorrows I should meet with, I thought I was with the Lord Jesus, and he gave me a touch, and bid me follow him; which I did, tho' I saw no form) and he spake to me, and told me, I should suf∣fer hard things for his Sake; and soon after my Tri∣als began, which were known to many, tho' this was between 30 and 40 years ago, yet is as fresh in my Memory as if not above a Year since.
4. Because the Lord hereby would clearly shew his Divine Skill in Teaching and Instructing Man; or that he hath a peculiar way or art in Teaching: He Teacheth so as none of the Wise Masters of Learning were ever able to Teach and Instruct their Schollars; there was never any Man could Teach another when Asleep; they that are Taught ought to be more than Awake, they ought to exercise all their Senses, Care, and Diligence; but now God is such a Teacher, such an Instructor, that when we are Asleep, nay in a deep Sleep, he can convey In∣struction, and Teach us his Lessons: This surely doth magnifie his Skill, Divine Wisdom and Power: Who but God can teach thus? As he can give a Heart t• Understand, and can give Understanding to the Heart of Man, so he can teach us and discover him∣self, and 〈◊〉 up Instruction to us when we are asleep.
5. It may also be, because God would hereby assure us, •hat the So•l is a distinct Essence, and hath it's distinct Operations from the Body; and that even Death it self cannot deprive the Soul of Man of it's Working▪ for what i• Sleep but a kind of Death? Sleep is a short Death, and Death is a long Sleep. Now, when the Bo•• is (as it were) Page 9 laid aside, the Soul can go to work when the Body lyes like a Block, and stirs not; the Soul can bestir it self, and act about many matters, and run it's thoughts to the utmost ends of the Earth without the help of the Bodily Organs, or Powers; yea, raise up the thoughts to the highest Heavens, in blessed in∣tercourse with God himself. There is no need to prove matter of Fact that it 'tis so: What Night, with reference to some or other, doth not utter this point of Knowledge? Nor, need I (saith the same Author) stay to prove that this is [if not a Demon∣strative] yet a very Probable Argument of the di∣stinct Substantiality of the Soul from the Body; namely, it's Operations when the Body [with all it's proper and peculiar Faculties and Powers] is a∣sleep, and contributes nothing to those Operations: And tho' it may be objected, that irrationa• Crea∣tures may have Dreams; yet their Dreams do, no doubt, differ as much from those of Men as themselves do. To this effect Caryl, and other Learned Men speak.
1. But from hence I would not have people to regard all sorts of Dreams;* especially considering as I hinted before, Satan hath such power admitted him, as sometimes to suggest evil and pernicious thoughts into our Minds when we are asleep; some Dreams being Diabolical, and others arising from Natural Causes, and are Vain, and Ridiculous.
2. It therefore ought to be considered how we may know Divine Dreams from others: And this be sure of,* that whatsoever Dreams tend to draw the Soul from God, or to imbrace any Notion, or Doctrine that is repugnant to the Word of God, is not Divine; not from God, but from the Devil.
3. Moreover let no person now expect God should speak unto them by Dreams or Visions; for tho' he did so frequently before Christ came, yet Now, in these last days, God hath spoken unto us by his Son;* and we have a more sure Word of Prophecy: God Page 10 now,* [as reverend Perkins notes] doth not usually speak to us by Dreams, yet he being a free Agent, may so do if he please; and no doubt, sometimes he doth thus speak [tho' not commonly] for the Instru∣ction and Consolation of his People. Yet let a•• take heed they are not deceived by Dreams: Luthe• observes how many in his time were deluded b•Dreams, and Visions; which they falsly attribute• to God, as the immediate Author of them, and fro• hence prayed earnestly about two things.
1. That God would give him a good Understand∣ing of the Scriptures, and of his Mind revealed therein.
2. That he would not send him Dreams or Visi∣ons, Yea, [saith he] I contracted with God that h• would not: Brethren the holy Scriptures are those sacred Oracles by which God speaks to us, and 〈◊〉 them i• contained all things which are necessary for us to know as to Faith, and Practice; being suffici∣ent to make every Man Wise to Salvation thro' Faith in Jesus Christ,*and Perfect, throughly furnished un∣to all good Works: Therefore certainly such that are not satisfied to adhere to the holy Scriptures as a sufficient Rule in all points of Faith, and Practice▪ but desire God to speak unto them by Dreams, o•Visions, are deluded by Satan, and do thereby cas• great contempt upon the holy Scriptures.
But no more as to Dreams in general, we will now come to this remarkable Dream, and Vision Jacob had: And behold a Ladder, &c.
*II. Observ.] The Lord Jesus may fuly be compare• to a Ladder that is set upon the Earth, and the To• of it reaching to Heaven.
This Proposition I shall open God assisting. — And,
First, I shall run a parallel between Jesus Christ, and Jacob's Ladder. And Shew that Christ may be compared to Jacob's Ladder. In respect both of his Person, and Offices. Now,
Page 11Before I proceed I know not, my Brethren, why we may not run the Parallel so far as there is a clear Parity, and it is consistent with the Analogy of Faith.
1. A Ladder is the contrivance of the Wisdom of Man, for the reaching, attaining,* or doing of some thing which the Author designed thereby to do: So JESUS CHRIST as Mediator, GOD-MAN in one Person, is the rare and wonderful contrivance of the infinite Wisdom of God, for his attaining, or accomplishment of his own most glorious design, and purpose, which is the Glory and Exaltation of his own Name, and the Salvation of his Elect, who on this Mystical Ladder must ascend to Heaven.
2. A Ladder is a proper means, or Medium to attain to that thing, or accomplish that work which it was contrived, or made for, and possibly, without which Medium it was impossible for the Person to reach to that thing, or do that work which he de∣signed, and purposed to attain unto, or to accom∣plish, and bring to pass: So JESUS CHRIST is the only way, and means which GOD hath found out to bring us to Heaven. The Builders of Babel thought to get up to Heaven by a contrivance of their own, even by erecting a mighty Tower,*the top of which (they said) should reach to Heaven; but they were soon confounded: And like to them My∣stery-babylon hath sought out other ways to Heaven, then by this Mystical Ladder Jesus Christ; they think to get Justification,* and eternal Life by their own good Works, and by other Sacrifices (then by the one Sacrifice of the Cross) which they offer up for the living, and the dead; but they are but Ba∣bel-builders; even blind, and deceived Wretches,* whom God hath confounded, and will confound: Brethren, there is no other way nor means to obtain eternal Life, but by Jesus Christ alone:*I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no Man cometh unto Page 12 the Father but by me: Jesus Christ went to Heaven, as our blessed Head, and Representative, by his own Blood;* by his own Blood, he entered in once, into thy holy Place; to shew that there is no other way by which Sinners can go to Heaven this only suiting with the Wisdom of God,* and every ways answer∣ing his own glorious Purpose and Design in manifest∣ing, and magnifying the Glory of all his blessed At∣tributes, and making the Law honourable by Christ• fulfilling all the Precepts thereof, and bearing the penalty of it, to free us from the Curse thereof: Some think to get to Heaven by a Sober, Moral Life; o∣thers by their own Faith, and inherent Holiness, and Obedience to the precepts of the Gospel, but in op∣position to all these 〈◊〉, Christ is the Way• it is by his Righteousness alone,* we are Justified in the sight of God, his perfect Obedience to the Law, is our Title to eternal Life,* and by his death (who bore Hell pangs for us) we are delivered from ever∣lasting Wrath,* and Condemnation; Neither is there Salvation in any other: For there is no other Name given under Heaven, whereby we must be Saved; For either Soul or Body, there is no other Person, no other Sacrifice, no other Righteousness, no other way, or thing: But by this Mystical Ladder Jesus Christ alone, by which we can be Saved.
3. A Ladder must be long enough to to reach the thing desi•ed: Now Jesus Christ, in respect of his two Natures, is prepared so by the Wisdom of God, that in his Person he may be said to reach from Earth unto Heaven.
1. As touching his Humane Nature, which is the F•ot of this Ladder; this stands as it were upon the Earth: — And,
2. As touching his divine Nature, which is the Top of the Ladder; this reacheth unto Heaven; and in these two Natures in the Person of Christ, we have what is represented by Jacob's Ladder; for as these two Natures are in his Person united toge∣ther, Page 13 Heaven and Earth are united together:* And now that he is God, see John, 1.1.2. In the be∣ginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Christ, in respect of his di∣vine Nature, is here called the Word; he was before the beginning of the Word, even 〈◊〉 everlasting; or ever the Earth w•s; He was with God,* and was God, not a Creature; he was not Created at the beginning, but was the Creator, the Maker of Hea∣ven and Earth; all things were made by him; not as the Instrumental Cause of all things, or any In∣strument in the Father's hand, but as a Principle Ef∣ficient Cause of all things: Without controversie,*great is the mystery of Godliness; God was manifest in the Flesh. The Word was made Flesh,*and dweit among us: That is the Son of God, or second Per∣son in the Trinity: The Evangelist (as one observes) rather saith, he was made Flesh, then he was made Man, more plainly to distinguish the two Natures in Christ; to assert the truth of his Humane Na∣ture; to let us know that Christ assumed his Hu∣mane Nature in common; not the particular Na∣ture of any; it is not said he was changed into Flesh, but by his assuming it, he was made Flesh, or He, the Word, Took upon him the See• of Abraham,* even, the same common Nature of all the Elect.
Brethren, Jesus Christ is perfect God, and perfect Man, in one Person, therefore his Person may truly be said to reach from Earth to Heaven.
Pray Observe; Jacob saw the Foot of the Ladder*to stand upon the Earth. The Foot went not low∣er than the Earth: this might signify Christ should take upon him the Seed of Abraham, or the Nature of Man, not the Nature of Angels; it was to raise to Heaven the Inhabitants of the Earth, not the infernal Spirits, or Devils of Hell: Had the foot of the Ladder only reached to the Air, or come down into the middle Centre of the Earth, it might have seemed doubtful, whether st was prepa∣red Page 14 for Fallen Angels, or for fallen Mankind, to get up to Heaven; but the foot of it standing on the Earth,* denotes, no doubt, the same thing which the Apostle speaks; Verily he took not hold on the Nature of Angels, but of the Seed of Abraham he taketh hold.
First, It was requisite He should be MAN, and so have his Foot upon the Earth.
*1. That he might in our Nature perform that perfect Obedience to the holy Law of God, which was required of Mankind; for no Righteousness short of that can Justify us, or carry us to Heaven.
2. He must be Man, that he might be capable to Suffer and Dye for Mankind; God considered simply in himself, could not dye.
3. Because the Justice of God required the same Nature which Sinned, to suffer even the same Na∣ture that broke the Law, to dye, and to bear the Wrath of God.
4. He must be Man, that so he might Simpathize with us, or have a feeling of our Infirmities; it must be such a Nature of Man that was cloath∣ed with Infirmities, which we have, or are att∣tended with since the Fall, because he came to raise fallen Man: Now our Infirmities are of two sorts.
1st. Penal and Painful.
2ly, Sinful and Culpable Infirmities. It was the first of these Christ did take; he had a Nature that could Hunger and Thir••〈◊〉 be Weary, and suffer Pain and Misery both 〈◊〉 and Body, as we are liable to;*We have 〈…〉-Priest which can∣not be touched with ••e feeling of ••r Infirmities, but was in all points Tempted like as we are, yet with∣out Sin. This shews he was really Man, or had a true Humane (tho not a Sinful) Nature: It be∣hoved him to be made like unto •is Brethren, that he might be a merciful,*and faithful High-Priest in Page 15 things pertaining to God, to make Reconciliation for the Sins of the People: For in that he himself hath suffered being Tempted, he is able to succour them that are Tempted.
Secondly, It was necessary also that he should be GOD.
1. That he might reach Heaven,* I mean the full demands of God's Justice, by way of Satisfaction: A mere Man could not satisfy infinite Justice, or make up that Wrong our Sins ha• done to God; but seeing both the Natures in Christ make but one Person, when Christ dyed, he that was truly God dyed: Hence it is said,*God purchased the Church with his own Blood: Which was an infinite Satis∣faction to divine Justice: had we all lain in Hell for ever, we could not have paid one Farthing of that Debt we owed to God; and because we could not Satisfy, therefore must have Suffer∣ed for ever.
2. That he might sustain in his Body the Wrath of God, and severe Punishment due to us for our Sins; for none but he that was God could bear so great a Burden and heavy Wrath, as all the Sins of the Elect were, and did incur: Suppose the Sins but of one Person, (and he be none of the greatest Sinners neither) yet if charged upon him, would they not sink him down to Hell; Oh! what Power, what Strength then, save the Strength of an infinite Person, could bear, as well as satisfy for, all the Sins of so many Thousand Persons, even the whole number of God's Elect.
3. He must be God that he might be able to overcome all our Enemies, not only for us, but also in us, and preserve us from the greatest Evils, and bestow upon us the greatest Good: He must lay his Hands upon both; viz. He must bring God down to us, and carry us up to God; I mean reconcile God to Man, and Man to God, which he could not do, unless he be God blessed for ever∣more:Page 16 how could he know our Hearts, our Wan• our Necessities, except he was the Eternal Go•▪ How also could he Quicken us, and raise us from 〈◊〉 Dead, and destroy the Power of Satan in o• Souls, and take away that cursed Enmity, which naturally is in our Hearts against God?*
Now, thus we may clearly perceive, that the Spiritual Ladder is long enough to reach from Earth to Heaven.
Fourthly, As a Ladder must be long enough 〈◊〉 reach to the thing or place desired, so also must be broad or wide enough, if there are mo•• than one to go up, even many Persons, it must 〈◊〉 wide enough for them all
Even so this Ladder this way, is broad enoug• for so many that are appointed, or ordained to g• to Heaven, or to be Saved. Brethren, Christ is a 〈◊〉 Way, or Medium to carry all the Elect to Heaven Not One, but All.
1. In that he took not into Union with his Di∣vine Nature, the Single Person of any, but th• common Nature of all that Sinned, who shal• be Saved.* Take here what a worthy Write Notes:
2. So many as were ordained to eternal Life,* shall by Christ be saved: True, the Blood of Christ hath vertue, or worth enough in it to save the whole World, but it can be effectual to none but to those for whom it was shed, or to them to whom the Holy Ghost doth apply it; which is to all that do believe, all that Christ died for, he prayed for, and doth now interce•d for, that they may receive of the Merits of his Blood; (but he did not pray for the World) yet he tis able to save to the uttermost,* (even to the last round of the Ladder) all that come to God by him, seeing he ever lives (observe it) to make intercession for them. No Man can ascend this Ladder without the mighty power of God; nay, no Man can come to it except the Father draw him; the Election of the Father, the Re∣demption of the Son, and the Application of the Spirit are of like, and the same Extention.*All that the Father hath given to me, shall come un∣to me; the Holy Spirit will enlighten them, work Faith in them, bring them all to take hold of, and ascend this Ladder: So wide as the spe•i•l love of God is, so wide is this spiritual Ladder, and it is indeed so broad that Three Thousand Persons could set their Feet upon it,* and ascend up at one, and the same time: no 'Man ever by an act of true and saving Faith attempted to ascend thereon, that found it too narrow, and straight for him, tho' the way to Heaven comparatively is narrow.
Page 18Fifthly, A Ladder which reacheth from Earth unto Heaven, ought also to be exceeding strong and firm.
*Now, Jesus Christ, this spiritual Ladder; tho' he be Man, yet he is also God, the most high God,* Co-eternal, Co-essential, and Co-equal with the Father; and therefore he is mighty strong▪ he is able to bear the weight of all our Sins, and of our Persons, and Infirmities; He is migh∣ty to save:*Cast thy Burden on the Lord, and he shall sustain thee. Though he is represented in our Text by a Ladder,* yet he is also called a Rock,* a strong Rock, a high Rock, an everlast∣ing Rock;* and pray what is firmer than a Rock▪ A Rock is locus exelus, a high place; Rocks, as One notes,* tho' they have their Roots very low, and deep, yet their Tops are high and •o •ring▪ and lifted up above the surface of other pa••• of the Earth: Some Rocks reach to the Cloud•; the Lord J•sus is a high Rock, in regard of the Dignity of his Person;*He that cometh 〈◊〉 H•aven is above all:* He is the brightnes•〈◊〉 the Father's Glory; God hath exalted him, and given him a Name above every Name.
1. In Christ, all the Attributes of God are united together,* to save all that venture on him; Justice and Mercy in him are met together, and Fiss each other; He is the Man of God's Right Hand,*made strong for himself, as well as for us.
2. Christ is not only Strong, as Mediator, in respect of his Person, but also by God's Eternal De•ree and Purpose; God's absolute Decrees are compared to Mountains of Brass;* he is fixed, Page 19 and stands firm and sure, by God's Eternal Pur∣pose; hence called a sure Foundation:* No need to fear venturing up upon such a Ladder; should Millions of Sinners at once get upon it, 'tis strong enough to bear them, tho they are never so heavy laden with Sin and Iniquity: He that hath born the weight of Divine Wrath, and Vengeance,* can bear, and sustain the weight of all that come unto him, and venture themselves upon him by Faith and Dependance, tho' never so vile and notorious Sinners.
Sixthly, A Ladder so exceeding high, must have many Rounds, or Gradations to ascend by.
So Jesus Christ, in undertaking our Salvation, proceeded gradually, Step by Step.*
1. He came down from Heaven to fix his Foot in our Nature upon the Earth.
2. He was Incarnate, or assumed a Body pre∣pared for him by the Father;*A Body hast thou prepared me.
3. He was Born of a Virgin, tho' without Sin: That's the third Gradation.
4. He lived a Holy and Spiritual Life, in ex∣act Conformity to that holy Law which we had broken and violated,* to procure a Title for us unto Eternal Life.
5. He died the Cursed death of the Cross to satisfy divine Justice for us; and in our stead.*
6. He Rose again from the Dead the Third Day, for our Justification.*
8. He makes Intercession, pleading the Merits of his Blood for us: These are some of those Gradations, or Steps of Jacob's Ladder, by which all Believers ascend to Heaven.
Seventhly, He that would attain to what he Page 20 desireth, by climbing, or descen•ing up upon 〈◊〉 Ladder, must first come to the Foot of it, an• so Gradually ascend Step by Step.
So that Man, that would go to Heaven, mus• be first brought to the Foot of Jesus Christ, i. e. he must see his own lost,* and miserable Condi••∣on,* and know the Impossibility of getting to Hea∣ven any other way: All Self▪ righteous Person were never brought to the Foot of this La•de• to the Foot of Jesus Christ,* to acknowledg• themselves wretched and undone Sinners•〈◊〉 No Alas!* they see•in• Necessity of Christ, nor o• his Righteousness! They▪ like the Jews of Old▪ being ignorant of God's Righteousness,* go abou• to establish their own Leg••• or Inherent Righ∣teousness: He that thinks he can get Wings t• fly up to Heaven, or can build a•Tower wit• his own hands, whose Top shall reach thither so that he can that way be saved, will neglect nay slight this glorious Contrivance• of God 〈◊〉 in¦finite Wisdom, of Saving Sinners by Jesus Christ and so never come to Christ's Foot:*〈◊〉 it is •ai•• God called Abraham to his Foot: A 〈…〉 maybe said to be brought to the Foot of 〈◊〉 Christ▪ who is effectually Convinced of the 〈…〉 he is in, without Christ; and of 〈◊〉 own I •ability any other way, to Step one Ste•▪ towards Heaven; but with the Publican cry• out,*Lord have Mercy upon me a Sinner. Bre∣thr•n, there are none but sensible Sinners, mea•• and heavy-l•de• Sinners that will come to Christ, the •le•t, before called, are in the same Condi∣tion,*•or state of Wrath with the rest of Man∣kin•, and are enlightned by the holy Spirit to see it, and acknowledge it before they ascend up this spiritual Ladder.
2. Now a po•r Sinner being, brought thus to the Foot of Christ, the first Step, or Gradation he makes in ascending on this Ladder,* is to be∣lieve Page 21 in Christ; to venture his Soul upon him alone; to trust on him, on his Righteousness,* And on the Merits of his Blood for Justificati∣on, &c. He that firmly, and savingly Believes in Christ, may be said to set his Foot on this Lad∣der, to ascend. Some Men do not begin 〈◊〉; they would be at the top of the Ladder,* before they have se••their Feet on the first Round of it; because all that shall be Saved are Elected & they begin there, and hence think; if they •are Elected, tho' they are not called, but are in their Sins, they are Justified, Pardoned, and in as good Estate, as the best Believer in the World. But this is a great Mistake, the Decree of Election, without the Execution of it, puts nothing into actual Existence: God Decreed from all Eter∣nity to create the World, but the World was not therefore from Eternity actually Created.* No more are any of the Elect actually Justified, and in a State of Life, until by the Spirit,* they are united to him and so Believe.* A Man cannot be Dead and Alive at one and the same time: Or, be Condemned and Justified; or be a Child of the Devil, and yet a Child of God. Grace makes a Relative, as well as a Real change all one and the same time; the first Step a Per∣•on takes, I say, towards, Heaven, [pray observe it,]* is to Believe in Christ; and that a Sinner, be∣fore he doth Believe, is brought to the Foot of Christ: i. e. He sees himself Lost and Undone in the first Adam, and till then under Wrath.
3. And then that he may go up, upon this spiritual Ladder, he must Step forward on the next Round, which is that of Obedience to Christ's holy Precepts; Take my Yoke on you,*and learn of me. First, our Lord calls all that are weary, and heavy-laden, to come unto him; that is, to Believe in him, and then to take on them the Yoke of Gospel-Obedience, as Baptism, and Church-member-ship: Page 22 Then they that gladly received th• Word,*were Baptized, and the same day then were added unto them about Three Thousand Soul.
4. And then go on unto Perfection; or pre•• forward in the way of Holiness, and so go step by step,* or from Strength to Strength in Sion adding one Grace of the Spirit unto another.
Eighthly,* He that would go up a very high Ladder, ought to take care to set his Feet direct or straight upon it; not carelesly, or awry but full upon it.
*So all that would ascend on this Ladder, Jesus Christ, must exert a direct act of Faith; he must fix his Soul plum upon him, or firmly upon him: A poor Sinner must see that he takes hold o• Christ in a Promise, with a true and fixed Faith not with a false or presumpteous Fa•••, but by the Faith of the operation of God▪* which is •Fruit of the Spirit,* called the Faith of God's E∣lect;* being only peculiar unto them, 〈◊〉••o a• the chosen of God: A false Faith is 〈◊〉 dange∣rous as a false-Step a Man takes in ascending • a Ladder,* who missing his standing, an•〈◊〉 falls down and perisheth; and so shall al• M••∣believers as well as all Un-believers perish •••∣nally: He that believes not aright, had as g•••believe not at all
Ninthly, As he that climbs up a Ladder ough• to kn•w it's Strength, so he Ventures his L•ft and whole Body upon it.
So that Man that ventures on this spiritual Ladder,* Jesus Christ, ought to know the Strength and Power of Christ, to Justifie, to Pardon, and eternally to Save him; he must venture all the stress of his Salvation on him alone; Christ is the only Foundation,* he must venture his whole Soul upon him; Trust intirely in him; buil• only upon him, and come to the Father by him I know on whom I have Believed:* I know hi•Page 23 Power he is mighty to Save, yea,*able to save to the uttermost (as was hinted before) In the Lord do I put my trust; Again,* (saith David) In thee do I put my Trust.
Tenthly, A Man that ventures to ascend up up∣on a Ladder so exceeding high, the top where∣of reacheth above the Clouds, even to Heaven, as he shews his Faith is not small, so his Courage is great.
Brethren, This of Venturing on Christ, Be∣lieving on Christ, shews, that a Saint's Faith and Courage is not small; Faith lies above Sense; nay, above Reason; I mean Faith in Christ, to believe in a Crucified Saviour; to seek Justifica∣tion by the Righteousness of another; by a Man hang'd on a Tree;* the Greeks counted this Foolishness. To get this way to Heaven, shews a Man acts above himself: Some would say to a Man that is resolved to ascend up on such a Ladder, Friend, you can never get up to Heaven in such a way; you will certainly fall, or faint before you get thither; what Faith have you? What prodigious Courage have you? So here the poor Soul saith I fear not, God •••th set this Ladder up, and fixed it firmly, and G••, Commanded me to Believe in Christ; he •ath bid me venture up on this Ladder: He hath revealed in his Word, that this way,*and By no other, we must be Saved, and I will ven∣ture upon him: Many have gone this way safe to Heaven already, and none can go any other way; I must therefore believe in Christ, ascend to Heaven by him, or else perish for ever.*I know God will help me, and uphold me, and I will therefore, not be afraid; I am convinced of Righ∣teousness, because Christ, as my Head, is gone to the Father; his Righteousness, and not my own, must carry me thither; his Righteousness is Per∣fect, and I am Compleat in him; and as I have Page 24 Righteousness in him, so in him I have Strength also.
Brethren, Without Faith and spiritual Courage▪ no person will adventure to climb up this Lad∣der;* nay, without Faith, no Man can ascend or come to the Father: Believing in Christ, is a climbing up, or ascending up upon this Ladder.
Eleventhly, It is a vain thing for a Man to hope to get up to the Top of a Ladder, that will not first set his Foot on the lower Roun• thereof.
So it is a vain thing for any to hope to be Saved, or to get to Heaven, who do not first Believe, and receive R•••nerating Grace; for he that,*Believes not, shall be Damned.
Twelfthly, He that ascends up very high on a Mighty Tall Ladder, hath a clear Sight, or Prospect of Heaven; and the higher he goes the smaller the Earth appears to him; it seems but a little spot; nay, it being a dark Body, 〈…〉, at last not perceive it to be any ••ing at all, or quite lose the sight of it; and 〈◊〉 step, he takes, the further he goes from 〈…〉 and the higher he comes to Heaven, and hath a clearer Sight of that.
So he, who by Faith and Communion with God, gets up up•n this spiritual Ladder, Jesus Christ, hath a clear Prospect of the Glory 〈◊〉 Heaven;*Moses by Faith, saw him that is in∣visible: Faith presented to his view the Angel of the Covenant, and God Reconciled in him; viz. the Lord Jesus Christ.* Carnal, or Earthly Persons, are at such a great distance from Hea∣ven, that they cannot discern the Glory of it; they have no Sight, no Eyes to see afar off; but the Earth,* and Earthly things appearing to the Carnal sight, being always in their view, they are exceedingly Affected therewith. But Believers,* who are dwellers above, and who daily Page 25 make a further Prog•ession H•a•e•〈…〉 the Earth, and Earthly this •s as 〈…〉•••∣ry step they take, they go f•rt•e•〈…〉 from Earth in their Love and 〈…〉 and Contemplations; Our conversatio•〈…〉•••∣ven: Others mind Earthly things, 〈…〉 the Earth, and therefore speak of 〈…〉 but Believers are said to dwell in Hea•••〈…〉 grand Enemy of the Saints, is said to open 〈◊〉Mouth to blaspheme against God, to blaspheme his Name, and his Tabernacle, and all that dwell in Heaven; that is, in the Church of God,* Mi∣litant, they shall dwell on •igh•; they are out of those confused Hurries, and Noises, Dangers,* and Perplexities others, who dwell below are atten∣ded with•▪ They are born from above, have hea∣venly Hearts, heavenly Principles, heavenly De∣sires, heavenly Ends and Aims, and heavenly Lives;* they have Communion with the God of Heaven;* heavenly things are their Delight; they s•a• so high above, that they are Ravished with that sight which they have of Heaven.
There are some other things that I might speak of, as held forth by this glorious Type of Christ; or which might be improved for our Instruction from hence, but I shall leave them until the next time, and close now with a brief word of Ap¦plication.
1. By way of Admiration.* See what a won∣derful person Jesus Christ is! Behold the Son of Man, or this spiritual Ladder that reacheth from Earth to Heaven, behold it with Admiration! Who would have thought of such away to Hea∣ven? Who, but infinite Wisdom, could have found out such a way to the Father? What Work-man but the eternal God, could make such Page 26 a Ladder? The Father is said to be above it, or on the top of it, to denote this way he Pre∣pared, and only by this way we must go to him, if ever we come to Heaven. Christ is God and Man, in One Person, Heaven and Earth meet together in him; he brings God to us, and car∣ries us up to God, God is reconciled to us in him, and we are reconciled to God by him.
2. Be exhorted to get up on this Ladder: If ever you think to see the Father, he is above it, as the end of our Journey, as our Hope and Reward; he calls upon you Sinners to Ad∣venture up this Ladder; to believe in his Son: He is above it to direct you, uphold you, and encourage you, therefore fear not; nay, he is above it, declaring himself in Covenant with all that come to him by Jesus Christ, and to be their God;*I am the Lord God, of Abraham, &c. This he spake to Jacob, as standing above it, or on the top of this Ladder.
3. Bless God for Christ, for his devising of such a way to raise us up, who were sunk so low, and had no strength, no skill, no helper, none that could bring us to God, nor find out a way to save our Souls, but God himself only, therefore he saith, Deliver him from going down into the Pit,*I have found a Ransom.
*Reproof.] This may be also for Reprehension to divers sorts of Persons,
1. To such that deny the D••ty, or God-head of Jesus Christ: If he be no more than a meer Man, the Ladder is too short to reach up to Heaven: He could not reach so high as to sa∣tisfy divine Justice, or to bring us to God, it being through the worth and dignity of his Per∣son, who being an infinite Person, or God over all, there was an infinite Worth and Merit in his Sufferings and Obedience. True, he might have Page 27 saved himself, (being Perfect, never having Sinned, nor broke God's Law,) tho' he had been but a meer Man; but it is from his being God as well as Man. Substituted in our stead, and standing in our Law-place as our great Head and •pon∣ser, •• that gave such Worth and Merit for us by his Obedience, and suffering to the Law and Justice of God. Moreover, how else also could he have overcome Death, the Devil, and all our Enemies, and have raised himself from the Dead? Death would have kept him under it's Power, and he had never came out of the Grave to as∣cend so high as Heaven to raise us thither.
2. It Reprehends all such also, who seek by a∣ny other way or means to go to Heaven:* We have new Babel-builders, or Work-mongers that think to climb up to Heaven by their own Works, by their own Faith, and sincere Obedience: And others by the Light within; which is but a branch of the First-covenant, or law of God, writ in the Heart;* and if there had been a Law that could have given Life, or raised us up to Heaven, verily, Righteousness had been by the Law;* But then, (as the Apostle saith) Christ is dead in vain.
Examin.] Try your selves,* by what you have heard, whether you have ascended on this Lad∣der, yea, or nay;
1. Were you ever brought to the Foot of Christ? Did you ever see your lost Conditi∣on in the first Adam, and that there is no o∣ther way to be Saved, but by the Lord Jesus?
2. Are you at the lowest part of the Lad∣der, and there rest; or are you got up towards the top thereof? There is no resting, no stay to be made when you first ascend, or first be∣lieve in Christ, or on any attainment of Grace, but you must mount up, or ascend up higher, Page 28from Faith to Faith;* have you stept up on the Roand of Obedience? have you took Christ's yoke upon you? [this seems too hard a step for some to take:] are you got above the Earth in your Affections? doth the Earth, and the things thereof, grow less and less every day in your sight? as in a natural respect it doth to him that soars very high, or climbs upon a Lad∣der, to the very Clouds. Are you willing to leave Earth, to leave this World, to go to Hea∣ven?*Paul longed to be dissolved, and to be with Christ: He pressed towards the mark. Do you dwell in Communion with God?
•las! many love to be below, they like those lower Regions best: See how it is with you; but no more at this time.
GENESIS xxviij. xij. xiij.
[— And behold a Ladder, &c.]
DOCT. I. The Lord Jesus may fitly be compared to a Ladder, that is set on the Earth, and the top of it reacheth up unto Heaven.
I Have run the Parallel in many respects between Christ and such a Ladder, in respect had to his Person and Offices, as our Saviour and Bles∣sed Mediator: I shall proceed to some further Par∣ticulars.
Thirteenthly, He that climbs up a Ladder looks upwards as he goes; he does not turn his eyes down towards the Earth, for that is dangerous.
So he that sets out in the way to Heaven by Jesus Christ, must look up; his eye must be set on Heavenly things;*While we look not at things that are seen, but at things that are not seen, &c.
1. This look my Brethren may refer to his Under∣derstanding; his Understanding is enlightened; it is open'd to see the Nature and Excellency of Hea∣venly things: That the eyes of your Ʋnderstanding being enlighthed,*that ye may know what is the Page 30 Hope of your Calling, and what is the Riches of the Glory of his Inheritance in the Saints. What the Eye is to the Body, that the Understanding is to the Soul.
2. It may refer to his Affections: Set your Affecti∣ons on things above;*where Christ sitteth on the Right Hand of God. A Believer's Desires and Af∣fections are Spiritual and Heaven-ward.
3. It denotes moreover, the Exercise of Faith▪ Such, with Moses, by Faith see him that is invisible. Did not the Eyes of Believers see something above excelling all things here below,* they would never ascend by Faith on this Ladder, nor slight and conntemn all the Riches, Pleasures, and Glory of this World.
4. It may also denotes the excellent Frame of their Hearts: They are born from above; they have received a heavenly Nature, an heavenly and spi∣ritual Frame; and therefore they look upwards; They that are after the Flesh,*mind the things of the Flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.
5. This of looking upwards, may signify a Be∣liever's Hope and Expectation: Their Hope is in Heaven, not in this Life; If our Hope be only in this Life,*we are of all Men most miserable. As they are born from above, so they are travelling thither; their Faces are set heaven-ward, Heaven is their Inheritance. They seek an heavenly Coun∣trey; men of the World have their eyes down∣wards. A man that looks downward that climbs up a Ladder, is in danger of falling; however, he must make a pause, or stand still, but a Belie∣ver must go on his way, he must not look back, nor stand still, but press forwards, as Paul did. He must not look back.
Page 31Fourteenthly, A Ladder is a narrow way to go upon, and it is a difficult thing to travel all day upon it.
So Jesus Christ, who is the way to the Father, is a narrow way; Narrow is the way that leadeth to Life. The way to Hell is broad,* multitudes go in that way, but the way to Life is narrow; tho this Ladder is wide or broad enough for all the Elect of God, even for all for whom it was prepared,* for all that come to Christ, for the vilest Sinner that is helped to venture himself upon him; yet compa∣ratively it is a very narrow way.
1. A Narrow way is opposed to that which is Broad, where any careless or negligent Person may go, or multitudes may travel in it. Now Christ is so narrow a way, many cannot go this way,* it is not wide enough for them; Christ will not allow them the Liberty they will take and will have; let what will come of it, they will have their Lusts their Riches, their Honours, their sensual Plea∣sures, their old Companions, their sinful Customs, and sinful Practices, the way must be broad enough for them, and their base Consorts too, or they will not go that way.
2. It may be called a narrow way,* because it is hard to find it, a narrow Path is not soon found or discerned as a broad, common beaten road is: Christ is a way not discerned by Carnal Persons;*The natural Man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them, because they are Spiritually discern∣ed.
Man naturally accounts the way to Heaven by Jesus Christ, a foolish thing▪* because they cannot comprehend how they should be Justified by the Righteousness of another, and he a poor Man (as he was accounted) who was Crucified on a Tree: to be Justified by their own Works, or by their own Righteousness; this seems easy to discern; it is Page 32 natural to them to seek t• be saved in such a way: all men being bor• under the Covenant of Works; Brethren, Chri•• is a way that lyes above human• Reason; it is a Mystery that depends wholly upon divine Revelation; it is as strange and as an unlike∣ly a thing to meer natural Men to think to be •aved or to go to Heaven this way; as it is for them to think a Ladder may be made, and set upon the Earth, the top of which shall reach up to Heaven: So that Men may that way, i. e. by climbing up on that Ladder, go to Heaven. They look with an eye of sense, and not by an eye of Faith.
3. Narrowness may denote the Difficulty of walking in this way: Christ is not only a way hard to find,* but also hard to walk in; Faith leads the Soul to deny it self; i. e. of Sinful-self, natural-self, and righteous-self; and to do this is hard and difficult, and not only to deny ourselves in all these respects, but also to take up our Cross: O 'tis this also that renders the way narrow! What deny ourselves of every Flesh-pleasing and profita∣ble Lust, and of all our own Wisdom, Honour, Relations and Righteousness, and take up the Cross too!
(1.) This includes all Losses and Damage, even to part with all for Christ's sake.
(2ly.) To take up our Cross, denotes Shame and Reproach for the sake of Christ.
(3.) It denotes also Pain and Suffering; nay, Death it self, when called to it.
(4.) Faith leads the Soul to mortify Sin, to crucify the Flesh,* with the Affections and Lusts: The Dominion and Power of Sin must be broke Sin, must not reign; we must not only leave Sin, but mortify it also: This is hard to do, and to follow Christ whither soever he goes, or doth lead us; to follow him fully; constantly, universally; and now, this is no easy thing to do to the Flesh.
Page 334. Narrowness of the Way, or Ladder, may signifie what careful steps must be taken by all that climb up thereon; we must step straight forward; viz. Lead a holy and strict life; For without Holiness, no Man shall see the Lord.*
We must take heed we do not suffer our feet to slide, or slip; therefore have need to say with holy David, Order my steps in thy Word,*and let not any iniquity have Dominion over me: Di∣rect all the thoughts, and motions of my Heart, and Actions by thy Spirit, accompanying thy Word, that Pride, Passion, earthly Mindedness, nor any evil Inclinations or Affections may lead me astray.
Fifteenthly,* It is dangerous for a Man that climbs up a high Ladder, that reacheth to Hea∣ven to look backwards.
So nothing is more dangerous for a Person that makes a Profession of Religion, (then with the Young Man in the Gospel) who was not far from the Kingdom of Heaven, to look back; He that sets his Hand to the Plough,*and looks back, is not fit for the Kingdom of Heaven. Our blessed Lord bids us Remember Lot's Wife;* why so? She, alas! for looking back, was turned into a Pillar of Salt, as an everlasting monument of God's Displeasure; and to fore-warn all Per∣sons to take heed that they do not look back: If any Man draw back, my Soul shall take no pleasure in him. Nay, such God's Soul abhors,* it brings upon them his high Displeasure, which is Death; or it will procure Death, and Perdi∣tion on all such in the end.
But, my Brethren, know this,* that all those who look back, never made one true step upon this Ladder; they never had one Dram of sa∣ving Faith, but ventured on Christ with a false Faith; and from hence could not see a far off, Page 34 but slavish fear possess them; and they being a∣fraid, faint, and so look back, and fall down, and are destroyed for ever; and the higher they 〈◊〉,*the greater is their fall: But we are not of them that draw back to Perdition.
Sixte••thly, A Ladder that stands upon the Earth, and the Top reacheth to Heaven, had need to have •ore Footing to stand upon.
* Now, Jesus Christ, our Mediator hath most sure and firm Footing to stand upon; i. e. He stands upon the Foot or firm Ground of God's Purpose, and everlasting Counsel, and blessed Decree; t••' he was set up upon the Earth in time, yet he was in that holy Counsel, held between the Father and the Son, Set up from e∣verlasting,*before ever the Earth was. The Wis∣dom, the Power, Purpose▪ good Pleasure, and e∣ternal Counsel of God hath fixed his Standing firm for ever; as you heard before.
Seventeenthly,* A Man that gets up a Ladder, should his Feet, thro' carelesness, or otherwise s•ip, he must catch hold of the Ladder with his Hands, and by holding fast, he may set his Feet right again, and prevent a fall, or danger of Death.
Beloved, the best of Christians, through Care∣l•se•s, •• Satan's Temptations may have their •••t s•ip; I mean they may slip, or fall into one S••, or another; or into one Error or another: What a slip had Noah,*Lot, David and Peter, and many more besides them, even many a dan∣gerous slip; but by taking hold of Christ, and of the Covenant, and free Promise of Pardon by the hand of Faith,* they all recovered themselves, tho' some of their Slips broke their Bones, and cost them many a Tear; Nay, it made Da∣vid to W•••e• his Couch with his Tears;* Yet he Page 35 got safe to Heaven. O what an excellent Grace is the Grace of Faith, the hand of Faith, and how useful and necessary at such a time?*I have prayed for thee that thy Faith fail not. Our Faith, in the Seed or habit, shall never fail; did not Christ preserve our Faith, strengthen our Faith, our Souls would soon finally fall, and perish for ever: If any Man sin,*we have an Advo∣cate with the Father.—I will be merciful to their Ʋnrighteousness, and their Sins;*and their Ini∣quities I will remember no more.—I am he that blotteth out thine Iniquities for my own Sake, &c. O what hold is here, when our Feet slip, for the hand of Faith to take hold of! Jesus Christ, my Brethren, hath paid all our Debts, he hath satisfied the Justice of God for all our Sins, for those committed after Faith, as well as those committed before Faith and Union with him, all Vindictative Wrath is gone for ever; no Sin can make a breach in our Justification, nor break our Union with Christ;*Nothing can separate us from the Love of God,*which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.—There is therefore now no condemna∣tion to them that are in Christ Jesus. None can condemn such, if sins committed after we believe were not Satisfied for, or Pardoned, there would be condemnation to every Believer, because all have Sin, all daily Sin, but their Sins are not imputed to them, they were all laid upon Je∣sus Christ; and his Righteousness is for ever and at all times imputed to them that are in Christ Jesus; and once in him, for ever in him, So that a true Believer can never fall finally from this spiritual Ladder.
Eighteenthly, To raise up a Ladder, whose Foot stands upon the Earth, and the Top of it reacheth up to Heaven, is not easily done; it needs all mighty Strength, it calls for great Page 36 Strength, wonderful Power, and also much Wis∣dom, and Skill; it is hard, you know, to raise a Ladder that reacheth up but four or five Sto∣ries, or to the Top of a high House or Build∣ing; What Power of Man then can raise up such a Ladder that reacheth from Earth to Heaven?
*My Brethren, as none could contrive, and make such a Ladder, i. e. such a way to Heaven, but God himself, who by his almighty Wisdom, and Pow∣er built this World: So none but he could raise up this Ladder; it required infinite Wis∣dom, and Strength to raise up Christ, when he was so low, being born down under the Guilt and Weight of our Sins, even low as Hell; for Hell pangs took hold of him: O how low was he, when in the Garden, in his bloody Agony, and in the Grave! Could Sin, Death, or Devils, yea all the powers of Hell and Darkness have kept him down, he had never been raised from the Dead▪ and from under Wrath, nor ascended up to Heaven: But what is too hard for God to do? He was raised by the Power of the Father;* or by the Glory of the Father; as the Apostle words it; that is by his glorious Power, and to his eternal Glory; God hath bo•h raised up the Lord, and will also raise us u• by his own Powe•. He first raised him up, as to his Humane Nature, out of a dry Root: And hath raised up an Horn of Salvat•on for us in the House of David.* An Horn of Salvation, or a powerful Salvation. Also he raised him up when Sin and Wrath lay upon him; and when he was Dead, and lay in the Grave. Nay, my Brethren, he raise• himself up, as I shall shew you hereafter, which is a greater wonder still, and more mar∣vellous.
Ninteenthly, A Ladder, whose Foot stands up∣on the Earth, and the Top of it reacheth up to Page 37 Heaven, is wonderfully Elivated, or Exalted.
So Christ considered as Mediator, is wonder∣fully Elivated, or Exalted, both in respect o• his Person, and Offi•es.*
True, as he was God, and in the form of God, and thought it not Robbery to be equal with God, he could not be said to be Exalted; but ta∣king our Nature upo• him, he was abased, he Hum∣bled himself, He took on him the •orm of a Servant, and became Obedient unto Death: As consider∣ed as Mediator, he is Exalted, and hath a Name a∣bove every Name in Heaven, or Earth.*
First, In respect of his Person: Behold my Servant shall deal prudently, he shall be Exalted, and Extolled, and be made very high▪ here are three words signifying the same thing, to express and hold forth the Glory and Exaltation of Je∣sus Christ.
1. He hath the Glory of God,* the Glory of the whole God-head in him▪ The fullness of the God-head dwells bodily in this blessed Person, the Man Christ Jesus; and it pleased the Fa∣ther it should be thus.*He is the brightness of his Father's Glory, and the express Image of his Person.
2. In that all the Glory of his Father's House is hung upon him, placed in him; he is the true Eliakim, the glory of the house of David,* and of God's Israel: Nay, all the Glory of the holy Attributes sl•ine forth in him, and are united and meet together in sweet Harmony in him; He is the Man of God's right Hand, whom he hath made strong for himself: To manifest his own Glory, and to raise up his Elect to a most ex∣cellent State for ever.
3. In that the same divine Worship and Ado∣ration which is due to the Father, is due to the Man Christ Jesus; this, my Brethren, tends greatly to lift up, elivate, and exalt him to the Page 38 Heavens:*That all Men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father; all Men must thus honour, and Worship him.
Brethren,* this is one of our strongest Argu∣ments to prove that our Lord Jesus Christ is God, the true God, God by Nature, i. e. because Divine Adoration is due to him; even the same worship that is due to the Father; were he a meer Man, not the most high God, it would be great Idolatry to worship him: I am the Lord,*that is my Name; and my glory will I not give unto another,* &c. the Apostle John would have worshiped the Angel; (thinking no doubt it had been Christ) I fell at his Feet to worship him,*and he said, see thou do it not, I am thy Fellow-servant, and of thy Brethren that have the Testimony of Jesus; worship God. Here Note two things
1. That no meer Creature, tho' never so glori∣ous, ought to be worshiped with divine Worship; I am but a Creature equal in Office with thee, tho' not in Nature, (as if the Angel should say)therefore see thou do it not.
2. That divine Worship alone belongs to God; Worship God: — 'tis written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God,*and him only shalt thou serve. But all Men are to worship Christ: and not only Men but the holy Angels also; and again, when he bringeth in his first begotten into the World,*he saith, and let all the Angels of God worship him: All the Angels, the mighty An∣gels that excell in Glory, Power, and Strength, bow down before him, and worship at his Feet: So far is he exalted above them, he is▪ beloved, the head of all Principalities,*and Powers; he is their great and glorious Prince and Sovereign, they are all at his Command, are his Servants, and Retinue; they all wait upon him, and wil∣lingly serve, and obey him.
Page 394. Christ is lifted up, or exalted in that he is the immediate Object of our Faith and Trust: True; the Father is Primarily the object of our Faith, but Brethren, Christ is the immediate Ob∣ject thereof; Ye believe in God,*believe also in Me: And this, because he is equal with the Father, and as Mediator we must by him be∣lieve in God the Father, and come to the Fa∣ther by him: No Man cometh to the Father,*but by me. But again,
5. Brethren, Jesus Christ is lifted up and ex∣alted in that the Government of the World is committed unto him;*The Father Judgeth no Man, but hath committed all Judgment to the Son; the Father Judgeth no Man, but by the Son, all the administration of Judgment, Rule, and Authority in the Church, and in the World, is in the hands of Christ, as Mediator;* he pulls down and sets up; By me Kings reign, and Princes decree Judgment. All Power and Au∣thority in Heaven and Earth is his;* it is his essentially as God, and it is given unto him as Mediator.
6. Christ is Lifted up, or exalted,* in that he is all, and in all, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, &c. but Christ is all, and in all, He is our All to the Father; he is our all with the Father; and our All from the Father, he is our All by way of Merit; he is meritoriously made All to us; he purchased All that good we have, and expect to have, both Grace here, and glory hereafter.
Jesus Christ is All to us by way of Con∣veyance, as he meritted all for us, so it is through him all good things, or divine Blessings, are communicated to us. As he is the Fountain that contains all things, so he is the Conduit-Pipe, thro' whom all good is conveyed to us also.
Again,* he is All to us by way of Efficency Page 40 and Causality; he works all our Works in us, and for us,*and without him we can do Nothing: It is from him the Head that the whole Body receiveth Nourishment; so he it is that blesseth that Nourishment,* that Food, viz. himself, his Word, his Ordinances, and all afflictions to us, which we live upon.
*Secondly, Christ is wonderfully lifted up, or is exalted to Heaven, if we consider the Per∣sons, who are said to Greaten, and Magnifie Him.
1. The Father magnifies him,* and hath exalted him at his Right hand to be a Prince, and a Sa∣viour: This Exaltation of Christ denotes his Abasement, because he condescended so low, to humble himself, and to dye the Cursed death of the Cross; therefore he is exalted: See what Paul saith;
*Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a Name above every Name; that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, &c. Not at the naming of Jesus, but at his Name. that is in respect of his Power, Authority, and Glory which he hath above all in Heaven and Earth considered, as he consi•teth in both Natures or as Mediator, God-man.
2. All the Saints of God, and Faithful Mini• of the Gospel, exalt Jesus Christ: True, they cannot add any thing to his Glory, but they give or ascribe the highest Glory unto him as his due. The Apostle lifted him up above: Moses, above Ang•ls; nay, as equal with the Father; Paul desired,*to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him Crucified, and resolved he should be magnified in his Body,*whether it were by Life or by Death. (1.) In that they all, did all things they did, in his Name. (2.) By his Power. (3.)To his Praise, and Glory. (4.) Also in shewing all Knowledge, Learning, Parts, Righteousness, moral Vertues, Gifts, and all Du∣ties Page 41 of Religion, are Nothing, or avail Nothing to a Man out of Christ; because it is his Righ∣teousness, his M•rits exclusive of all, or any thing else that is the matter of our Justification before God.
3. All the holy Angels likewise exalt Christ, adore and magnify hi•.
Thirdly, God ha•• exalted him from Earth to Heaven, in respect of his Office (in which als• he is the Antitype of Jacob's L••de•) wh•c•〈◊〉 I have hinted at already, yet I ••all add 〈…〉.
1. Christ is chosen of God, a• I said,* to be the only Mediator between God and Man, our Days-Man, that lays his hands upon both; and as Me∣diator he is a King, Priest, and Prophet.
First, He is a Priest excelling the High-priests under the Law, being the substance and Antitype of all those Priests; he is both Priest, Altar,* and Sacrifice: they were made Priests by men, he is made a Priest by God himself; they without an Oath; he by an Oath; they had Infirmities, he had none. The Priest under the Law could not continue, by reason of Death, he abideth a Priest for ever: They offered up Sacrifices that could not take away Sins, but by his one Sacrifice,*all sins are done away for ever. He bore the sins of his People indeed; he entered into the holiest of all; he appears before God indeed, they only Typically. He made Attonement indeed, they but Typically and Ceremonially: He Judgeth of Uncleanness in∣deed, they but Typically; he maketh true Judg∣ment, because he knows all mens Hearts: He offers up unto God the true Incense; he blesseth the People, by conferring Grace, and divine Ha∣bits to them, and by turning them from their evil ways.*
Page 42He beyond the Priests under the Law, doth determine all, (yea the hardest) Controversies; he resolves all doubts between God and Man, such as these following;
1. How God is Just, and yet Gracious; or how an offended God can, and doth justify guilty Sinners.
2. In and by by him we see how Justice and Mercy meet together, and Righteousness and Truth kiss each other:* The one exalting the highest Sa∣tisfaction on terms of pure and severe Justice; and the other crying for infinite Mercy.
3. He resolves this Question; viz, How an un∣righteous and ungodly Man can be justified with God.
4. How Sin can be Punished, and yet Pardoned:
5. How the Debt can be Paid, and yet be freely forgiven.
Brethren, Christ is a Priest, and as a Priest he is the Antitype of Jacob's-Ladder; and as so consider∣ed, he is exalted on high; for in and by this Office he brings God and Man, Heaven and Earth toge∣ther; I mean by that Attonement he hath made by his bloody Sacrifice; It pleased the Father by him to reconcile all things to himself, whether they be things on Earth,*or things in Heaven. Hea∣ven and Earth are not at a farther distance from each other, as Naturally we are unto God, in re∣spect of our state and Spirits,* such Enmity is in the hearts of all unrenewed Sinners against God; but saith the Apostle; But now in Christ Jesus ye that were afar off are made near by the Blood of Christ.* The way is by his Death, by his Blood which was shed upon the Earth; here we were, and here is the Foot of the Ladder. God's Justice requires an infinite Satisfaction, and Christ being God, reached Heaven; i. e. the full demands of divine Justice: Such a Days-Man we needed, who layeth his hands upon both. By his being Page 43 a Priest in his o••ering up that one Sacrifice he reconciled God to us,* and by his Spirit he re∣conciles us to God, by his applying and making the Attonement efficacious, or effectual to us,*that in the dispensation of the fulness of time, he might gather together in one, all things in Christ.
This is done in him, even in Christ alone, none but he hath done it, or could do it. God by him, who stands at the top of the Ladder, comes down to us, as well as we go up to God; it is by Christ that God comes down to us in a way of Mercy, Peace, and Reconciliation; and it is by Christ we go up to God in a way of Faith, and dependance. Beloved,* God and poor Sinners meet together on this Sacred Ladder (or blessed Medium and contrivances of infinite Wisdom) in Christ, we who were Strangers and Enemies, meet with a holy and just God, with joy and comfort: You that were sometimes alienated, and enemies in your Minds by wicked Works,*hath he reconciled in the body of his Flesh, through Death.*When we were Enemies we were reconciled unto God by the Death of his Son. Now this is done by Christ as a Priest in dying; But
Secondly, He is the Antitype of Jacob's Ladder, as our High-Priest also,* by his Intercession now in Heaven.
1. He interceeds with God for us in Heaven also.
2. He interceeds by his Spirit in us:* By his Intercession in heaven he prevails with God for the Blessings of his Attonement; and by his Spi∣rits intercession in us, all those Blessings are ap∣plyed, and so made effectual to us. By vertue of his Satisfaction, God is brought near to us; and thro Application of his Blood, by his Spirit, we are brought near unto God: And thus is Christ, the blessed Medium or Way, by which Peace is made between Heaven and Earth, or God and Sinners.
Page 44Moreover, by this glorious Me•ium we have free access unto God, which is the effects of Christ's Priestly Office.
It is on this Sacred Ladder we come with holy boldness to the Throne of Gra•e: It is by the blood of Jesus,*through him by one Spirit we have both (that is Jews and Gentiles,) access unto the Father.* Again he saith, In whom we have boldness and access with Confidence, through Faith of •im.
Christ is the Way of our Union with God, and also of our Com•union: All that divine and blessed intercourse that passeth between God and us,* is in and by Jesus Christ; Seeing then we have a great High-Pri••t,*t••t is passed into Heaven, let us therefore come •oldly to the Throne of Grace, &c. Again he sai•h, Having therefore, Brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.
*Secondly, Christ is exalted as he is a King, and also as King, he is the Antitype of Jacob's Ladder; and in this respect wonderfully exalted: Him hath God exalted at his Right-hand, to be a Prince,*and a Saviour to give Repentance to Israel, and remission of Sins. Christ is King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, the only Potentate; It is by him Kings reign, and Princes decree Judgment. He pulls down one, and sets up another as it plea∣seth him.* [1.] Christ, my Brethren, is the Father's Heir, his First-born. [2.] He is also qualified with all Princely Wisdome, and so fit to reign over all; Angels Men and Devils are subject un∣to him. [3.] He is chosen-King. [4.] He is by the Fa•her anointed King with the Oyl of gladness above his Fellows.* [5.] And he is pro∣claimed King for ever. [6.] He has the Govern∣ment on his Should•rs;* he rules in us, and sub∣dues all our Enemies; he bows and bends our Page 45 Spirits and stubborn Wills to submit to his So∣ver•ignty; he mortifies all our Co•ruptions, and brings us out of the Prison-house,* and spoils the strong Man armed: he has conquered the World,* Sin, and Devils for us, and doth, and will also subdue them i• us; he is both King of Saints, and King of Nations.
Thirdly, Christ as he is a Prophet,* is also the Antitype of Jacob's Ladder; and as thus con∣sidered he is exalted.
1. He received his Doctrine from Heaven, and brings it down to Earth. He is said to speak from Heaven, and yet he spake on Earth; and when he spake on Earth as Man, he was in Heaven as God: And thus the Foot of the Lad∣der was on Earth, and the Top reached to Heaven. Moreover, by his Speaking he makes such Hearts of men as were earthly▪ to be heavenly, and lifts us up in our Desires, Meditations, and Affections from earth to heaven.
Christ is lifted up and exalted as a Prophet, and higher in Glory than all the Prophets of God.
A Prophet is the Mouth of God to the Peo∣ple. Now, Jesus Christ, received his holy Do¦ctrine from God,* and spake as his Father gave Commandment. —Moreover, he excels all other Prophets;
1. All the Prophets of God besides him, were inspired by him
2. They received the Spirit but by Measure; but he without Measure.
3. Other Prophets only could speak to the Ear, he speaks to the Heart.
4. Other Prophets could cause Men only to hear that were alive; but Christ can make them that are deaf and dead to hear.*
6. He can open the Ear as well as give In∣struction.
7. All the Teachings of other Prophets and Teachers are in vain, without his divine Teachings.
8. He can cause such whom he Teacheth to remember what they hear.*
9. He Teacheth powerfully, and instructs with a high hand, and yet he Teacheth sweetly.
10. He Teacheth not only Efficaciously, but also Infallibly, and removes all Obstructions that hinder Sinners from hearing and receiving what he saith unto them. He can teach men Wisdom as you have heard when they are asleep; O who teacheth like him.*
Christ is lifted up to Heaven, in that he is the Sum and Substance both of Law and Gospel: I mean the Antitype of all Types,* and Substance of all Shadows: He is the great Subject of Go∣spel-ministration. What have Ministers to Preach but Jesus Christ? I have formerly shewed you what it is to Preach Christ, so as to exalt him and lift him up in the ministration of the Gospel.
First, 'Tis to Preach the Excellencies of his Person.
1. To Preach that he is GOD, God by Na∣ture, not a petty-god, a god by Office, but the most high God, the eternal God, Co-essential, Co-equal, and Co-eternal with the Father.
2. To Preach that he is MAN, truly Man, made of a Woman,* of the same Flesh and Blood that the Children partake of.
3. That he is GOD and MAN, in one Per∣son, both Natures making but one Christ, by a wonderful, and hypostatical Union.
Page 47Secondly, To Preach Christ is to Preach his In∣carnation, his Birth, his Life, his Death, his Re∣surrection, his Ascension, and his Intercession.
Thirdly, To Preach Christ, is to Preach his holy Doctrine, and his exemplary Life,* in his sweet Spirit, great Condescension, wonderful Abase∣ment, infinite Love, Mercy, Faithfulness, Meek∣ness, Charity, &c.
4. To Preach the Preciousness of Christ,* is to Preach Christ.
5. To Preach Christ, is to Preach the necessity of Christ, and of his Death: And that
1. Because of that voluntary obligation he en∣tered into with the Father. in behalf of the Elect from Eternity; that holy Covenant, and Compact •aid a necessity upon him to dye in our stead.
2. In respect of God's eternal Decree, and pur∣pose, he being a Lamb slain before the beginning of the World.
3. In respect of those ancient Prophesies con∣cerning him, and of his Work, and Office which must be all accomplished.
4. In respect of all those Types and Shaddows that pointed to him, which must be fulfilled in their Antitype, &c.
5. And in respect of all the Saints who lived under the Old-Testament, who ventured their Souls and Salvation upon him, as to come and was to dye for them.
6. In respect of the Nature, Holiness, and Ju∣stice of God, and of his absolute Threatning, pronounced against Adam, and all Mankind in him.
7. In respect of the Sanction and perfect Ho∣liness of the Law; and of that Curse it laid all Men under.
8. Moreover, there is an absolute necessity of Christ, and of Faith in him, in respect of God's Revealation, there being no other Way, Per∣son, or Means, found out or revealed, to redeem Page 48 fallen Man, but Jesus Christ only.
*Fourthly, To Preach Christ, is to Preach the power and ability of Christ, to save all that be∣lieve in him, or that come to God by him.
Fifthly, To Preach Christ, exalt him, and lift him up, is to Preach his Readiness, and Willing∣ness, as well as his Power, and Ability to save.
*Sixthly, 'Tis to Preach the unsearchable Riches of Christ.
Seventhly, To Preach Christ, is to Preach Christ the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God; i. e. in whom all the glorious Attributes of God are united in sweet Harmony, and shine forth in equal Glory, and Strength to save Sinners, lost and undone Sinners.
Eighthly,* To Preach Christ, is to preach him not only the one Mediator, between God and Man, but also our blessed Surety, or the Surety, and Testator of the New-Covenant.
Ninthly, To preach Christ, is to preach him in all his offices, as you have heard.
Tenthly, To Preach Christ, exalt Christ alone, is to preach his Satis•action;* or that full and compleat Reconciliation he hath made by his O∣bedience,* and suffering; our Faith and Holiness adding nothing thereunto.
Eleventhly, To Preach Christ, is to Preach Justi∣fication only by him; i. e. That he and his perfect Righteousness alone is that which Justifies us, as it is Imputed to us that believe;* his active Obedience being that whi•h is our only Title to Heaven;* and that his Death (he bearing all God's vindictative Wrath for our Sins) is that only which deli∣vers us from Hell.*
Twelfthly, To Preach Christ, exalt Christ, is to Preach him the Way, the only way to the Father; No Man cometh to the Father, but by me.*
To p•each Christ the Life, the life of our Souls; not only having purchased Life for us,* but infuseth Life, or a vital Principle into us, and preserves that Life; that he is the Bread of Life, and the Water of Life. That Christ is the hidden Manna that came down from Hea∣ven; (which the natural Man knoweth not) that by coming to him, by believing on him,* or receiving of him, we live; and that by our U∣nion with him, he is ours; and his Righteous∣ness, and all the Merits of his Blood, even all his Riches, both Grace and Glory, becomes ours; or we have an Interest in him, and all he is, and hath.
Thirteenthly, To Preach Christ, is to Preach him to be our Bride-groom,* that espouseth us in Con∣jugal Affections, in Knowledge, in Faithfulness,* in Mercy, and in loving Kindness for ever.* That he is our Physician, that heals all our Diseases: Our Shepherd to gather us, or bring us home to his Fold, that feeds, leads, protects and defends us.
To Preach Christ the only Head of the Church, having absolute Power over his Body,* and graciously guiding and influencing it, and every Member thereof.
To Preach Christ the only Foundation, and chief Corner-stone, upon whom the Church is built,* and every lively Stone is united, to build our Salvation on him, to Trust on him, and to have all our Faith and Hope in him.
To Preach Christ, is to Preach him the Sun of Righteousness, like as the Sun in Glory, he is the Anima Mundi, the very Soul of the new World,* in respect of Light and Life, as well as Heat; and in respect of his fructifying and comforting In∣fluence; and by his expelling all our Darkness, cau∣sing a lovely Spring, and blessed Day in all such Souls on whom he riseth and shines.
Page 50*To Preach Christ the Fountain, to wash us, as well as the Sun to enlighten us, and our only Phy∣sician to heal us.* To Preach Christ in a Word▪ is to Preach him to be every thing that God hath made him to be unto us; even both Wisdom and Righteousness, Sanctification and Redemption.
Fourteenthly, To Preach Christ, is to Preach him, as I said, to be the Antitype of all Types, and the Substance of all Shadows.
1. The second Adam, publick Person, and great Covenanting Head, and blessed Representative of all his Elect; out of whose Side his Spouse is taken.
2. The true Noah, and Heir of the World, that builds the Ark, and that saves all just Per∣sons; the true Preacher of Righteousness, that sends the Dove, and that repairs the lost World.
3. The true Melchizedeck, without Father and Mother,* made a Priest by an Oath, that blesseth Abraham, and all his true Seed.
5. The true, and Antitypical Isaac, long promi∣sed before Born, and brought forth out of a dry Root, by the mighty Power of God, and Word of Promise; three dayes dead, and yet, as to his Deity, dyed not, and yet was Offered up for a Sacrifice by his Father.
6. The true Jacob, who as a Prince, prevailed with God.
7. Our Joseph, who was Sold into the hands of the wic•ed Ishmaelites; and who by his Abasement, was raised to Honour, and made Lord-Treasurer of all the Land, who feeds all Famished and hun∣ger-starved Sinners, to whom all must go for Bread, and before whom, all his Brethren must bow.
Page 518. Our Moses, that brings all the Children of Israel out of Spiritual Egypt, and Bondage of Sin, and Satan.
9. The true Joshua, that carries God's Israel in∣to the Land of Promise.
10. Our strong Samson, that slew the devouring Lyon, and who, by death, or dying, destroyed our Enemies,
11. The true David, beloved of God, and his only Anointed, with whom the Covenant stands fast for ever.
12. The true Solomon, the Prince of Peace, that excells all in Wisdom, both Men and Angels; that builds God's Temple, and bears the Glory: and that Marries the Aethiopian Woman, the black and polluted Gentiles.
13. The true Elisha, that Cures all the Leperous Naamans, and multiplieth the Widdows Oyl.
14. The true Elijah, that raiseth up the dead Child, i. e. the dead Soul: and that went to Heaven.
15. Our Jonah, that was cast into the Sea of God's Wrath, to make a Calm, that lay three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth.
16. The true Antitypical Aaron, as you heard before.
17. The Mercy-Seat, from whence God Com∣munes with us.
18. The Altar of Perfame, that presents all our Persons and Prayers, acceptable unto God the Father.
19. The Antitype of the Slain, and Scape-goat, on whom all our Sins are laid; and who bears them all away into an unknown Land.
20. The true Antitypical Rock, that was smitten in the Wilderness, that we might have Water of Life to drink in this Wilderness, until we come to the true Canaan.
Page 5221. The true Passover, that was Sacrificed for us.
22. The true Sin-offering: yea, both Priest, Altar, and Sacrifice.
Lastly, the Antitypical brasen Serpent, that is lifted up to cure all that are Stung with Sin, that fiery Serpent,* that look up to him by Faith.
Fifteenthly, To Preach Christ, is to Preach all the Ordinances of Christ, holy Precepts and In∣stitutions.
Sixteenthly, To Preach Christ, is to Preach all the Promises of Christ,* and all in him, and in him sure to all his Seed; Not Yea, and Nay, but Yea, and Amen, to the Glory of God the Father.
*Seventeenthly, To Preach Christ, is to Preach that fulness that is in Christ; viz.
1. A Soul-fulness, or spiritual Fulness, a Soul enriching fulness, a s•itable fulness, and seasonable fulness, a necessary fulness, a Soul-satisfying fulness, an eternal and everlasting fulness.
2. A fulness of Merit and Satisfaction, and of Righteousness.
3. A fulness of Grace.
4. A fulness of Light, and a fulness of Sufficiency, as Mediator of Power, Wisdome, Knowledge, Love, Mercy, Pardon, Peace, Joy and Glory.
5. A fulness of Efficiency. Tho we are never so empty, Christ can fill us; tho never so poor, he can inrich us; tho never so weak, he can strengthen us; tho never so Ignorant, he can give us know∣le•ge, tho never so guilty, he can justifie us; tho' never so naked, he can cloathe us; tho never so sa•• he can rejoyce our troubled Hearts: In a word,* All fulness is in Christ: In him dwelleth the fulness of the God-head, Bodily: Not part of the God-head, (the God-head, the distinguished, can∣not be divided) but the whole God-head dwelleth in the Son, as in the Father, and in the Holy Ghost.
Page 53Eighteenthly, To Preach Christ, to exalt him, as the Father hath I fred him up▪ and magnify'd him, is to abase the Creature; 'tis to give all the glory of our Salvation to him, and assume none of it to ourselves. To Preach him only, not to Preach Mo∣ses, nor to take the Law from his Mouth, but from the Mouth of Christ, or as it is in Christ's hands; not to Preach Morality, as that which can justifie and save us. Not to Preach the Light within all, to be our Saviour: For that is to Preach the Law written in the Heart of Man, it being the substance of that Law written in the Two Tables of Stone. Not to Preach the Decrees of general Councils, or National Synods. Nor to mix our in∣herent Righteousness, and sincere Obedience; no, nor our Faith with Christ's Righteousness.
Thus I have shewed you how Christ is Exalted, Flivated, and like Jacob's Ladder lifted up to Heaven: Nay, he's made higher than the Hea∣vens; and that in his Person, and by his Offices, Heaven and Earth meet together, and God and Man, in Jesus Christ, are made One, —
I shall Close at this time with a Word of Application:
1. We may Infer from hence, that here is won∣derful Incouragement for poor Sinners to come to Christ; believe in him, or to venture up this Spi∣ritual Ladder.
2. Behold the fulness which is in Christ, and bless God for such a Way, for such a Ladder that reacheth up to Heaven.
Page 541. Because God will Exalt him, and Magnify him: He knew how many would Debase him, and Disrobe him, of which sort we have too many in these Days.
2. Because he being God, it cannot be otherwise; and this shews he is God: Would God give this Glory to a meer Creature, it would be Idolatry to give divine Adoration to Christ, were not he the most high God.
3. It is because there is such an Emptiness in poor Sinners; nay, in Believers, as in themselves.
4. It is because Christ hath so many Vessels, empty Vessels to fill: True, he has filled Multi∣tudes already, from the beginning of the World; for all that ever had any Righteousness, any Grace, or Peace; I mean true Grace and Peace, they had it from Jesus Christ.
But he hath many empty Vessels yet to fill, therefore there is need of such a fulness in him; he fills his Church, nay all his Churches, and hath a greater Vessel yet to fill, when he hath emptied it, namely the whole Earth;*For all the Earth shall be filled with the Knowledge of the glory of the Lord. And he is emptying it in order to this now:*He will make the Earth empty, and turn it up▪side down. Now 'tis full of Wickedness, full of Sin, full of horrid Abominations, of Oaths, of Pride, Uncleanness, Drunkenness, Cruelty, Divisions, Con∣tentions; nay, of Idolatry, Superstition, Errors, Heresies, and what not; but he will empty it e'er long, and then fill it, there is a new World very near, look for it, prepare for it, be ready.
5. Christ is full, because there is no Bread but in this Garner, no Water of Life for all the World, but in this Well, in this Fountain.
6. Because no Sinner might be discouraged, nor dispair of help, succour, and relief in Christ, nor Be∣lievers, because they are God's Children, and have his Likeness; — Also;
Page 554. This may Reprove such that cast Contempt upon Jesus Christ.* Some lay quite aside this chief Corner-stone: What do they less, that trust to a sober Moral Life?* or they that cry up the Light within, as if that was a Ladder that reaches to Hea∣ven, which is to build on the Covenant of Works. Others degrade him, that put part of the highest Glory on the Will of Man; and such who mix their own Faith, sincere Obedience, or Righteousness with Christ's Merits, and make the Gospel as a meer Law of Obedience, with the sanction of Pro∣mises and Threatnings, rendring our Faith and Obedience the Condition of our Salvation. This is not to go to Heaven by Jacob's Ladder.
5. Be Exhorted to venture up this Spiritual Ladder, i. e. to believe in Christ.*
1. A mighty Flood of divine Wrath is near; it will certainly come, and it will over-flow all the dwellers on the Earth, or such that dwell below: The Saints, who are ascended upon this Ladder,* dwell above: Oh climb up quickly, if you would escape the Wrath to come!
2. There is (you have heard) no other way to go to Heaven; Christ is the Way in which we must walk, the Foundation on which we must build, the Door by which we must enter, or the Ladder by which we must ascend, even by the Vail; that is to say, his Flesh, or by the blood of his Cross.
Do not dream of getting to Heaven by your Tears or Prayers, or by your good Deeds, or good Duties; or by the broken Ladder of Free-will; or by the Light within all. What, O what will become of them that strive to throw down this Ladder, and th•nk to be saved some other ways!
3. Tho this Ladder be high, and thy Faith is but weak, yet venture up, set thy Foot upon the first Round; I told you the last day that many Page 56 vvho vvere weak as thou art, are gone to Hea∣ven this way; yea, Multitudes that were as heavy laden as thou art, or canst be, ventured up, and found sure and firm Footing.
4. Thy danger, O Sinner! is great, wilt thou perish in the Flood? O fly to this Ark, get up this Ladder;*He that believeth not shall be Damned.
5. Remember the top reacheth to Heaven, it will bring thee to Heaven, and know also, that in the way,* there are many Angels, they ascend and descend upon this Ladder: they come down to fetch some up, and others they lead and conduct, even those that are ascending upon it: Thou shalt, O Sinner, have blessed Support and Supporters in the way.
Examin. ] Try yourselves, do you exalt Jesus Christ? Certainly if the Father hath exalted him, we ought so to do.
1. Dost thou lay the whole stress of thy Salva∣tion on Jesus Christ, and believe with thy whole Heart?
2. Dost thou love him above all things in the world?
3. Dost thou deny thy self, and forsake all things for his sake, and take up thy Cross and follow him?
4. Dost thou account all things loss for the excel• of Jesus Christ?
5. Dost thou take none of his Right, nor Glory from him, and ascribe it to Man, or to the Will of the Creature.
6. Canst not thou be satisfied with any thing with∣out him? No, not with Ordinances, unless thou dost meet with him, and enjoyst him in them?
7. Dost thou desire before all things to be like unto him, or have his Image?
8. Canst not thou endure to grieve nor offend him?
9. Dost thou love him in all wheresoever thou seest his Image, not because they are in all things Page 57 of thy Opinion, but because they are God's Chil∣dren, and have his Likeness. — Also,
6. This may I•form us who are true Ministers,* as well as who •re 〈◊〉 C•ristians.
1. Not the•〈…〉 the G•d-head of Christ: No, let the•〈…〉 lush 〈◊〉 be a•hamed•▪ This discovers that 〈◊〉 are grand Hereticks, and know not Christ.
2. Not such who render God only re•oncilable, or a conditional Saviour, not fully re•onciled in Jesus Christ, according to their Doctrin•: Christ is yours, if you perform the Condition, and what is that? why change your own Hearts, be Rege∣nerated, or never venture to believe on Christ. Alas, they may as so•n create a World as do this,* it is Christ's work alone,we are born of God, he works all our works in us: Regeneration is the ef∣fect of Ʋnion with Christ.
3. Not such that Preach themselves,* or that Preach for Gain, or seek their own Glory; We Preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ, the Lord.
Consol.] O know ye Saints, what a happy state you are in, you are mounting up, and shall ascend on high.
2. Angels guard you, support and guide you, and the holy Spirit also directs every step you take.*
3. Nay, God himself takes you by the hand, The steps of a good Man are ordered by the Lord; and tho he falls, he shall not utterly be cast down, because God upholdeth him with his Right-hand.
This Ladder brings you to God,*the Lord God is at the top of it.
1. He was the Contriver of this way; he made this Ladder, he prepared it.
2. He is above the Ladder, denoting tho Christ as Cod, is equal with the Father; yet as Man, or Considered as our Mediator, the Father is above him; My Father is above all, — my Father is greater than I.
Page 583. God being also above it, it may denote that he upholds it by his eternal Counsel, and infinite Power.
4. God is above it also, as an observer of all that are upon it; he sees all that believe on his Son, and takes notice of them.
5. Moreover, he is above it, to encourage all that are upon it with his Covenant-Promise, I am the Lord, the God of Abraham, &c. be not afraid, I will up-hold thee, I will strengthen thee, &c.
6. It may also denote he is at the top of it as an Inviter, to call upon poor Sinners to behold his blessed Son, the Lamb of God, or to believe on him, and venture up.
7. Lastly, he is above it also as a Rewarder, or as the end of our Journey:
[But so much at this time.]
GENESIS xxviij. xij. xiij.
[— And behold a Ladder, &c.]
THE last Day we shewed you that this Ladder in Jacob's Dream, was wonder∣fully Elivated, Lifted up, or Exalted con∣••dering the Top of it reached up to Heaven, from whence we took an occasion to open the wonder∣derful Honour, Advancement, Elivation or Exalta∣••on of the Lord Jesus Christ, considered as Me∣••ator: I shall now proceed.
Twentieth, A Ladder,* the top of which reach∣eth to Heaven, is not only wonderfully Elivated, or Exalted, but all such Persons who ascend, or climb up upon it, even to the top thereof, are •reatly Exalted also, though not by any Power or Skill of their own, yet are so by means of ••is Ladder.
So all Believers, who ascend upon this Spiri∣••al Ladder, the Antitype of Jacob's Ladder, Page 60 Ch••st Jesus, are hereby Exalted, or raised up o• high, in respect of their spiritual State, and Con∣dition, and Frames also.
1. All such who Believe in Jesus Christ, (whic• is the way to this spiritual L•d•er) are made th• Sons and Daughters of G••; they a•e all adopte• Children of the King o• He•ven, and Earth▪ As many as received him to them gave 〈◊〉 Power to become the Sons of God;*even to the• that believe on his Name: This of Son-ship i• a very great Priviledge; such are greatly, ye• wonderfully Elivated, or Advanced to Honour.
First, Consi••ring from what a State we are raised. Sirs, by our Sins we were brought as low as Hell, being born Slaves, and Vassals of Sin, and the Devils;* or in a state of hellish Bondage, Death and misery; we were Sons of Perdition or Children of Wrath by Nature, as well as others. David thought it to be no small honour to be the Son-in-law to an earthly King; (and he none of the best neither) but, O how much greater i• this Honour! this Advancement! for God to make such who were Children of Wrath, nay of the Devil, to be his own Children! Children of his most chiefest Love and Affection; and Heir• of Heaven: If Children, then Heirs, Heirs of God, and Joynt-heirs with Christ.
*Secondly, Nay, my Beloved, they are not only Adopted Sons and Daughters of God, who be∣lieve in Christ; but they are all espoused to Je∣sus Christ also: Believers see that their first Husband is dead, viz. the Law, by the body of Christ; and they also are become dead 〈◊〉 that;*Wherefore, my Brethren, ye also are becom• dead to the Law by the body of Christ, that y• should be married to another, even to him that i• raised from the dead, that we should bring fort• Fruit unto God. Jesus Christ espouseth all true Believers, •very Soul that rightly ascends up this Page 61 Ladder; I have espoused you to one Husband,*••at I may present you as a chast Virgin to Christ. Our union with Christ is commonly expressed in ••e Scripture, under the notion of a Marriage:* How to be married to the Prince of Princes, to •he Prince of the Kings of the Earth, is a won∣•erful elivation: Should an earthly Pri•ce set •is heart upon, and marry a poor Virgin one ••at was but a Scullion-maid, or a Begger, cloath∣•d with filthy Rags, what an advancement would this be, for such a one to become a Queen, and save a Crown of Gold set upon her Head, and be embraced in the Arms of a great Monarch, or mighty Prince, and to lie in his Bosom, and to have the attendance of his Servants, or Noble re∣tinue! But alas, what a poor Advancement is that,* to this; Man in honour abideth not, but is like ••e Beasts that Perish: Alas that Honour may be but for a Day, and besides, to be advanced to earthly grandure may prove the ruin of the Soul for ever. Christ is the Heir of both Worlds, Heir of God, Heir of all things;*Ʋpon his Head are seven Crowns: Seven is a num∣ber of Perfection; elsewhere it is said, upon his Head, were many Crowns; all earthly Crowns are his, and at his dispose; but they are little valued by him, he gives them sometimes to his Enemies, even to the vilest of Men; the Crowns that are on his own Head are Coelestial, load∣ed and sparkling, and heavenly Jewels, and Dia∣monds, far brighter than Ten Thousand Suns, a∣mazing for Glory, and are also Eternal: And it is likewise said, That as his Saints are cloathed in white Raiment,*so they have on their heads Crowns of Gold; which doth denote that state of Dignity, and Glory which they are advanced unto: Ʋpon his Right-hand did stand the Queen in Gold of Ophir. On his Right-hand,* the most honourable place next the King, as Christ is said Page 62 to be sate down at the Father's Right-hand, so th• Saints will be set at his Right-hand. Can thei• be greater Honour confer'd upon them! Sirs, wh•• would not adventure up this Ladder, when the•• is such such Glory? It is indeed the way, th• only way to possess those Crowns of immorta• Grandure that are prepared in Heaven.
Thirdly, By this advancement, i.e. by bein• Espoused,* and Married to Jesus Christ, all tha• Christ hath is theirs; they have not Honou• only, but much Wealth and riches also.
*(1.) The Righteousness of Christ is theirs▪ to Justifie them; that is the white Raiment, o• glorious Robe with which they are cloathed.
(2.) His Graces to adorn them: In Christ are unsearchable Riches; Riches and Righteous∣ness are with me;* yea, durable Riches and Righ∣teousness.
Hence it is, that the Apostle would have the Saints know the greatness of their Riches; That ye may know what is the hope of your Calling,*and what the Riches of the Glory of his Inheri∣tance in the Saints. Here is Riches in this In∣heritance: Many have Riches and no Glory; others have Honour prefer'd upon them, but have no Riches: Ignoble Spirits scrape a great deal of Wealth together, in which they place their vain Hope, and Hapiness in; but die without Ho∣nour, like the Beasts that Perish: Alas! their Wealth is but for a Day, but this is Lasting, Durable,* Eternal, as is their Honour; the Crown of Glory fadeth not away; it is in Heaven, and Saints are a going to it on Jacob's Ladder; it is in their view, they see it, and therefore climb up, and shall in due time reach it.
Happy are they that are called up this Ladder, to such a hope,* it is called the high-calling of God, in Christ Jesus.
Page 63Fourthly,* The Saints are not only the Adop∣•ed Sons, and the Spouse of Christ, but they are •orn of God, they are begotten and born of God; born from above: they that are thus called, have an heavenly Birth, therefore it is an high-calling, this gives them meet and fit frames of Spirit, such▪ which become their noble Station, and blessed Relation: What would a relative Change signify, without a real Change, I mean a Change of State, without • Change of Heart? Can a carnal heart see Beauty in Christ, or in heavenly things? Can •n earthly Spirit, prize or value spiritual Honour, or Riches? No no, a Swine may as well take delight in the Glory of a King's Palace: Alas, •e had far rather be on a Dunghil, or wallow 〈◊〉 the Mire.
Moreover, much of the advancement of Belie∣vers lies in their heavenly Frames, and noble∣ness of their Spirits, Works, Ends, and Aims: In this the Righteous is more excellent than his Neighbour.*
1. He hath a Heavenly, a Humble, a Meek,* a Publick, a Merciful, an Inlightened, a Free, a Firm, a Sublime, a Sanctified, a Raised, an Act∣•ve, and a Faithful Spirit; and all this pro∣ceeds from that New-birth, which he is passed under, or it is the fruit or effect of his being born of God, or regenerated by the holy Spi∣rit. These Persons have other Principles also,* than the rest of Mankind have:
Page 642. These Men have other work also, or imploy themselves in other Business than ungodly Persons do; their New-nature prompts them on to make Religion their main Business, and they also act freely, voluntarily, and with a great and strong Propensity in the things of God; others act in such matters, as Men without heart; they must put a force on themselves if they meddle with heavenly Duties, and heavenly things, because of the earthly and carnal temper and frames of their Hearts. But as to heavenly born Souls it is be∣low them to be continually a digging in the Earth, and loading themselves with thick Clay;* or to heap up the dust of the Ground, or to take their chiefest Delight in eating and drinking, or in pleasing their sensual Lusts: No, they are go∣ing as fast as they can from these things in their Hearts, and Affections, Love, and Delight, and Desires, they see the Beauty of God and the Excellencies of Jesus Christ; they pry into the Mysteries of the Gospel, and of that Redemp∣tion which is by Jesus Christ: They mind e∣ternal things.
*3. Moreover, this new Nature which is wrought in them, causes them to have more noble, high, and sublime Ends and Aims, than all others have: 'Tis not their own honour, nor their own pro∣fit they seek, but it is the honour and glory of God they Aim at; God, who is at the Top of the Ladder,* as the end of their Journey; (as is said before) God beloved i• their last end, it is to reach him,* enjoy him for evermore, they mount up on high.
Fifthly, They are Elivated, or highly Advan∣ced and Exalted, in that they have such a Sub∣lime, Mystical, and intimate Union with God and Jesus Christ: He that is Joined to the Lord, is one Spirit.* There is, saith a Reverend Writer, no stricter Union in the World, than that of Page 65 Christ and Believers; it is therefore compared to all sorts of Unions, Natural, and Political.
Sixthly, They are not only elivated, advan∣ced and lifted up on high by vertue of this U∣nion; but also, in that they are allowed, and daily have Communion with the Father, Son,* and holy Spirit: But without Regeneration, or, our Natures being first changed, this could not be: What Communion can there be between a living God, and a dead Heart? Or between a holy God, and a filthy and polluted Creature? God hates Sin, and he loves it: God loves Holiness,*and he loathes it: Justification changes our state, that discharged us from the Guilt of Sins; but Regeneration changes our Nature, and makes us fit to converse with God: For as God can take no pleasure in us, until his Image is stampt upon us, so we can take no Delight, nor plea∣sure in Him: Without this Change Heaven would be no Paradice or Heaven unto us. But by being Renewed, we are capable, and do en∣joy sweet Fellowship with the Father, and the Son. Believers walk with God, and God with them: Jesus Christ and Believers set together,*Page 66 dwell together,* walk together, yea, sup together, and daily visit each other; Christ and they mind the same things;* the interest of Christ and Be∣lievers are one, and the same; Christ Sympathi∣zeth with his Saints in their Afflictions, and Re∣joyces with them in their Consolations;*such a high Priest became us. But, O what an high Advance∣ment is this! that such a low, base, and contempti∣ble Creature as Man is, as in himself, should be allowed to have Communion and Fellowship with the great and most glorious God of Heaven, and Earth, and with Jesus Christ, the only Potentate, and Prince of the Kings of the Earth!
Seventhly, The Saints in Christ are so exalted, and lifted up in Grandure and Honour, that they are God's choice and precious Jewels, or his chiefest Treasure;*They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day I make up my Jewels: They are the Fa∣vourites of Heaven; the Lord saith, They that touch them,*touch the Apple of his Eye. No King hath such a value of his greatest Favourites, as God hath for his Saints; they are the Persons that the King delights to Honour: What is it to be honoured by poor Mortals to this honour?*If any Man serve me, him will my Father honour: He honours them here, he gives them honourable Titles: What are the airy, and empty Titles of Earl, Marquiss, Duke, &c. (that pull up Ambitious Spirits) to those high and ho∣nourable Titles God confers on believers? as Sons of God,* Heirs of God, most excellent, or most mag∣nificent; He hath made us Kings, &c. and Princes. These are high Titles indeed, when con∣ferred upon us by the eternal God. My Brethren, they are not only h•noured with the highest Titles, but also beloved with the highest Love; I gave E∣gypt for thy Ransom,*Ethiopia and S•ba for thee; since thou wert precious in my sight, thou hast been ho∣nourable, and I have loved thee. He loves them with the love of Complacency; he rejoyces over Page 67 them, as the Bridegroom rejoiceth over the Bride.* Nay, he loveth them with the same Love wherewith he loves Jesus Christ: And hast loved them,*as thou hast loved me. And as he loveth, and honoureth them, so he will also cause all Men, yea, Kings, and such that now hate them, to bow before them;*The Sons of them that afflicted thee, shall come bend∣ing unto thee, and all that despised thee shall bow them∣selves at the soles of thy Feet. The Gentiles shall see their Righteousness, and all Kings their Glory: Thou shalt also be a Crown of Glory in the hand of the Lord,*and a royal Diadem in the hand of thy God. Nay, the Lord Jesus himself will honour them;*Verily, I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them sit down to meat, and will come forth, and serve them.
Eighthly, and Lastly, He honoureth them with his own glorious Train or Noble Retinue: He com∣mands his Servants, those glorious Courtiers that at∣tend, and wait round about his Throne, to wait on them, to administer unto them, and continually to be a Guard unto them, that love and fear his Name; they ride, (as I may so say) in his own Chariots; The Chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thou∣sands of Angels: And these are on this Ladder,* they ascend and descend upon the Son of Man. But more of this hereafter: They encamp round about such that fear the Lord;*and are sent to minister unto them that are heirs of Salvation.
1. How may this raise the Hearts of Believers? Alas! they little think what glory God hath, in Je∣sus Christ, conferr'd upon them: How would they lift up their Heads, and rejoyce, did they contemp∣late on that great Dignity, they are raised unto!
2. And what Reproof may this be to the ungodly World, who slight, despise, and hate these honoura∣ble Page 68 Ones, as if they were the Off-scouring of all things, and not worthy to live on the Earth, when indeed the world is not worthy of them; These pre∣cious Sons of Sion comparable to fine Go•d, are ac∣counted as Earthen Pitchers.*
Moreover, it may reprove those for their horrid Folly, who esteem and value the vain Honour of Men, above the Honour that comes from God; That had rather be Great in the Sight of Men than Great and Glorious in the Sight of God.
3. This also may cause us to admire Jesus Christ, who hath raised us to suc• Dignity, and Honour: his Exaltation, Beloved, is our Exaltation, we had never been raised to this Honour, had not he been Abased, and then highly Ex•lted: Christ's Exaltation was only a mediatory Exaltation; he was not advanced, in respect of the essential Glory of his God-head; for as so he was always possessed with that, so that their could be no Addition of Glory made to that; but it was a Glory or Exaltation of his Person, as God-man;* the Glory of Christ, as God, is the same from everlasting with the Father; therefore it was the exaltation of his Person, as Mediator; as he is our head and blessed Representative, he is Exalted, that we in him may be Exalted also: As he, Belo∣ved, was raised up from the dead, so were we in him; and as he was Justifi•d, so were we in him; and as he Ascended up to Heaven, so did we Ascend in him; and so also assuredly shall all his Elect be raised spiritually from Sin to a state of Grace here, and in •o••y and Soul to an eternal State of Glory hereaf∣ter. If Christ be raised, we shall be raised, because he was raised as our publick Head, and is ascended into Heaven as our Fore-runner.*
4 This may be also for Tryal: By this we may know my Brethren, who they are that are upon Jacobs Ladder, or in Jesus Christ: see what Spirits, what Hearts, what Principles, what Ends and Aims you have, and what Li•e• you live: Do you dwell on •igh? Page 69 yet pray labour to ascend higher, and higher every day; but is your Conversation in Heaven?* do you mount up as with Eagles Wings? 'tis thus if you are true Believers: Earth is behind your backs,* and all the things of the World are little in your sight, if you are elivated on high.
But to proceed, there is one or two things more concerning this Ladder, that I must take notice of; Mind well the word [behold] and [behold a Ladder] this as I hinted, is a word that sometimes calls for Observation and Attention; Behold,*I am at the Door, and knock; sometimes it calls for Commisera∣tion, Behold, is there any Sorrow like my Sorrow? Sometimes it calls for Imitation, Behold the perfect Man: Sometimes it calls for Admiration, Behold,*what manner of love is this! &c. Sometimes it calls for Faith, and Dependance; Behold, the Lamb of God, &c. I said, behold me, behold me; what is that but to believe in him? lastly, and sometimes for Con∣solation. Now the Word here no doubt calls for Observation, for Admiration, for Faith and Depen∣dance, and also for Consolation.
Behold, a Ladder set upon the Earth, and the top of it reacheth to Heaven!* Of what a length is this Ladder! Astronomers, according to Reverend Green∣hill observe, 'tis 160. Millions of Miles from Earth to Heaven; A wonderful thing! An amazing height! so it is a wonderful thing to behold Christ Jesus, the Way to Heaven. Behold with Admiration! be A∣stonished! who could have thought of such a way, to the Father, to be Saved by a dying Jesus, by a poor Man, hanged on a Tree; to be Justified by his Righ∣teousness; and by his Death to be delivered from Hell; this is a marvelous thing! Angels wonder, beholding this Person: Observe from hence.
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.
*First, We Infer from hence that great blindness, and ignorance hath siezed upon most of Men, in that they care not to behold Jesus Christ, they can see no Be•uty in him to desire him, nor do they marvel to behold this sight.
Secondly, Sinner, will you not behold this Christ thy Saviour? Let me Exhort you to behold the Lamb of God that takes away the Sin of the World; and, O cast a right look unto him!
1. It will cause, or work godly Sorrow in you f•r all your Sins; They shall look unto him, whom they p•er∣cea, and shall Mourn, &c.
Page 872. It will cause in you Self-loathing,* and Self-ab∣horrance; I have heard of thee by the hearing of the Ears; but now mine Eyes see thee, therefore I abhor my self, and repent in Dust and Ashes. When the Prophet saw the Lord sitting upon a Throne, high, and lifted up, and his Train filled the Temple, he cryed out; I am undone! mine Eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!*
3. It will cause you to behold great Beauty and excellencies in him: To you that believe,*he is preci∣ous: Yea, doubtless, I count all things loss for the ex∣cellency of the Knowledge of Jesus Christ, my Lord.* You will say then, that he is the chiefest among ten Thousands, and altogether Lovely.
4. It will change you into his own Image; this look is of a Soul-transforming Nature; but we all,*beholding as in a glass the Glory of the Lord, are chan∣ged into the same Image, from glory, to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
5. This beholding of Christ, will cause you to con∣temn all things here below, and to account them as nothing, nay worse than nothing in comparison of him; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,*and do count them but Dung, that I may win Christ. (Syriac and others, Dog's Meat, refuse cast to Dogs) Thus do all that behold him, (in point of Justi∣fication) in comparison of Christ; esteem as no∣thing all good Works, good Duties flowing from a sanctified Heart; nay all inherit Holiness with Faith it self, in respect of any Trust, and Confidence there∣in: So much is the object of Faith valued by all that thus behold him.
6. It will draw the Souls of all that thus behold him, to him, and after him, and to follow him whithersoe∣ver he goes: When I am lifted up, I will draw all Men to me: When I am beheld on the Cross,* dying for them, or in their stead. Lo! we have forsaken all,*and have followed thee? They did thus, and present∣ly too, as soon as he called them:* — These are Page 88 they which follow the Lamb, whithersoever he goeth; Those who thus see him, are even sick of Love; Saw ye him whom my Soul loveth?* &c. Tell him I am sick of love
O Sinners, labour thus to behold him! i.e. pierced for you; •ying and bleeding on the Cross for you; offering himself to you, standing at your Doors woing and entreating you to open to him, to love him, im∣brace him, and espouse him.
[Consider by way of Excitation.]
1. Can you behold him entering into a Covenant of Rede•ption from Eternity for you, and not love him?* Can you see hi• strike Hands with the Father, leaving out your Names, an• only putting his own Name in that Covenant, as your Surety, to pay all your Debts, to s•tisfie divine Justice for all your Sins, and dye in y•ur room, and not love him?
3. Can you behold him, and think of that pur∣pose of Grace,* eternal Love, and good Will unto you from e•erlasting, and not love him?
4. Can you behold him Betrayed, left by his own Di•ciples Deny'd by Peter,* Spit upon, Scourged, his Hair Torn from his Beard, and all be sprinkled with Blood, condemned as a Malefactor, • owned with Tho•ns, and not love him?
5 Can you behold him in his bloody Ag•ny, sweat∣ing great drops of Blood? Can you see him Nailed to a Tree, and his Side pierced with a Spear, which run into his Heart; and all this for you, and not love him?
Thirdly, Reproof.] What, vile Wretch dost thou do? wilt thou Wound him again? sight him, grieve him, and prefer thy Sins and Lusts above him? be∣f•re thou didst never truly behold him! Shall God t• us display the glory of his Free grace, and magni∣fie Page 89 all his Attributes in our Redemption, by Christ; and dost thou •i•ht and co•t•mn this glorious Contrivance? a•d with th• Face of Impudence, seek another way to go •o •eaven, by Morality, by the Light within, b•••••ing something of thine own, with his 〈◊〉, an••o think to go to Heaven by a Ladde• of ••y o•u •ev•si•g?
Fourthly, By •h• you 〈◊〉 see; you that are Pro∣fessors, whet••• you did •ver Savingly behold the Lord Jesus, or not; have true Faith o• not.
Fifthly, For Incouragement, to a••to behold him;*
1. He is able to save you, tho' neve• so vile,* and abominable Sinners; to save you all; to save all, to the uttermost, that come to God by him; i.e. by this Ladder; by this new and living Way.
2. He is also willing as we•l as able: This appears; (1.) By his Expressions and Invitations;*Come un∣to me, all ye that Labour, and are heavy Laden, and I will give you Rest? How often would I have ga∣thered thy Children together, &c. (2.) By his Af∣fections. Behold me? behold me? What love hath he shewed! and what Complaints of Sorrow and Grief at Sinners Unbelief! (3.) By his Actions; even every w•y: what Love, greater Love, infinite Love, and willi•gness, can be shewed? how hath he mani∣fested his Readiness to save Sinners.
Sixthly, Terror.*] You must behold him by an eye of Faith, or perish: He that believes not shall be Dam∣ned. He that believeth on the Son, hath everlasting Life; and he that believeth not the Son,*shall not see Life, but the Wrath of God abideth on him.
Obj.] Perhaps some Sinner will say;*I dare not believe yet; I am not humbled enough; I am not fit∣ted, and prepared to come to Christ.
Ans.] Dost thou see thy self Sick, here's thy Phy∣sician? what is required of the Sick, before they come for Healing! Dost thou see thy self a Sinner? O then, come? here is thy Saviour! Dost thou find Guilt to lye upon thy Conscience? who can take Page 90it off but Christ Jesus? Dost thou see thy Filthiness? what can cleanse thee but Christ's Blood? Come as thou art,* to the Fountain: Dost thou Thirst after Happiness? 'tis no where to be found, but in Christ: tho' thou hast therefore no Money, yet come; thou canst not believe in Christ too soon.
Lastly, By way of Consolation to Believers; you are saved already, have eternal Life in you; Grace is the Seed of Glory; you have drank of the water of Life; and that will be a Well of Water in you,*springing up to everlasting Life: You are going to Heaven on Jacob's Ladder, and all the Devils, and Powers of Darkness can't throw you down: You shall never perish. O bless the Lord! and admire Free-grace! and live to him all your Days, with Joy, and Thankfulness!
[But no more now at this time.]
GENESIS, xxviij. xij. xiij.
And behold, the Angels of God ascending and descending on it.
*I Clos'd the last Day with the former part of our Text, I shall give you one short Sermon, God assisting, concerning the holy Angels, whom Jacob in his Vision saw ascending and descending upon it; that is, Antitypically upon Jesus Christ. Our blessed Saviour alludes, as I told you,* to this Vision in the Gospel; And he said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, here∣after you shall see the Heavens open, and the Angels Page 91 of God ascending & descending upon the Son of Ma•.* Our Annotators assert, as their Opinions, That our Lord refers to Jacob's Vision, Gen. 28.12. which, doubtless puts a great glory on it; it being no trifle or small thing that was represented unto him, in that Dream and Vision, but what a sight Nathaniel had afterwards of the Angels ascending and descending upon Christ, the Son of Man, I know not: Some think it might be some further appearance of Angels 〈◊〉 their ministration to him, than the Scripture Re∣cords; yet, perhaps, no more is meant hereby, than that Nathaniel, and other Saints, shall see, or know, that the holy Angels are far inferiour to the Son of Man, and do administer to him: And also, that all that good, Believers do receive by the ministration of Angels, is alone in and through Jesus Christ, our Mediator. Moreover, that God doth not only make use of the ministration of Angels, in governing of the World, but also in the preservation, safety, and good of his Church. The way to Heaven is full of holy Angels, some going to Heaven for Intelligence, and •thers coming from Heaven, either to forward, pro∣•ect, or comfort the Saints.
1. Angels are but Christ's Messengers, he is the •ead, and Lord of all Principalities and Powers.
2. They own themselves to be our Fellow-Ser∣•ants; I am thy Fellow-Servant, & of thy Brethren.*
3. They move at his Command, and go and come 〈◊〉 his Pleasure.
4. And they move at his Word with all Alacrity, ••ey are speedy and swift in doing the Will of God.
5. Moreover, they are sent forth to minister unto •hem that are the Heirs of Salvation. Observe,*
DOCT. That in and thro Jesus Christ, the holy Angels minister to Believers, while in this World.
In speaking unto this Proposition, I shall take this method; viz.
Page 921. I shall speak a little to the nature of Angels.
2. Open their Work and Office.
3. Give you some Reasons, why Christ imploys them to minister to the Saints. And 4ly, Apply it.
First, They are Creatures, they were created by God, and within the six Days also: By him were all things Created, whether in Heaven or Earth, vi∣sible or invisible, whether Thrones or Dominions; or Principalities, or Powers, all things were created by him and for him. The Heavens, and all the Angels which dwell therein, were created by him; i.e. by the Son of God,* Jesus Christ; Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded, and they were Created: And this was in the Beginning; In the be∣ginning God created the Heavens and the Earth, &c. If therefore they had been Created before, there should have been a beginning of time, & work done before that,* or else Angels were from Eternity, and so not Creatures, but none is eternal, or without beginning but God. Besides, 'tis said, that God wrought all his Works in Six Dayes; but if it be demanded, what day they were created, I answer in all likelyhood on the First-day,*When the Morn∣ing Stars sang together,*and all the Sons of God ••ou∣ed for Joy. Even when God laid the foundation o• the Earth, when the highest Heavens and first ma•∣ter was created of Nothing, out of which other things were formed.
Secondly, These excellent Creatures are true Sub∣stances, and do really exist; contrary to the Opini∣on of the Sadduces,* who denyed Angels and Spirits that is that they thought by the name of Angels wa• meant nothing but good or ill Inspirations, or Mo∣tions, or else the Wonders and Apparitions which were wrought of God.
*1. They were, I say, created, therefore they are Substances, and not Accidents in another Subject.
2. They are endow'd with Understanding, and Will, by v•rtue of which they were capable of Sin∣ning, Page 93 and of departing from the Truth, of obeying or disobeying of God, until confirmed by an Immuta∣ble Head.
3. From their Office this is further evident: They appear before God, they serve him, and we are com∣manded to make them our Patterns; they come to us, admonish us, teach, protect, and comfort us.
4. Because th•y are said to appear to Men; as to Abraham, Jacob, and many others, tho not in their own spiritual Form. As so considered, no mor∣tal Creature, doubtless, could behold them; for that is to render the Invisible World to be Visible: Sometimes they have appeared in assumption of Bo∣dies, tho not for the doing of their Work, but to manifest themselves to be familiar with men. Aquinas adds, That they might manifest the intelligible So∣ciety and Converse, which men expect with them in another Life.
5. Because Christ is said, not to take unto him the nature of Angels, and hath a Name given him above them. And in the Resurrection we shall be like to them. As to their Nature, they are Spirits incorporate, and immaterial;*Who maketh his An∣gels Spirits: And again it is said,*Are they not all ministring Spirits? Tertullian, and some other an∣cient Fathers, asserted they have proper Bodies, tho invisible to us; but yet he seems to mean no more than a Substance: And as the same Author observes,
Thirdly, Let it be consider'd, (saith he) that as it is God only that is without beginning, so it belongs only to him to be without any possibility of change, or shadow of change; and that the Angels, as Crea∣tures, are reducable to nothing by the same hand that made them, tho not from their own Nature; nor shall they ever cease to be, no more than the Spirits of all men, yet they are in God's hand, tho the best pieces of Nature, and if he withdraw his hand, they all moulder to nothing.
Angels (saith my Author) may properly be called Incorruptible and Immortal, because they are so by Nature. I speak not, saith he, now of the changableness of their Wills, but of their Nature and Substance: The Reasons are;
First, Because the Angels are not produced out of the power of Matter, or corporal Substance; as the Souls of Beasts, but only by the word of God; and therefore as they have internal principles of Being, so they have none of Dissolution; for there is the same reason of Being, and not Being.
Secondly, Angelical Nature, as the Souls also of Men are not compounded of Matter and Form, but are simple Forms and Substances, subsisting by themselves: Now all Corruption, Mortality, and Death, is by the separation of the Form from the Matter; as when the Soul is separated from the Body, which is Corruption, or Death, or when the accidental Form is separated from the Subject, as White from the Wall, or Health from the Man: Now, whatever wants Matter is corruptible, be∣cause there is no Composition, and so no Separa∣tion. But the Scripture concludes this best in as∣simulating Page 95 the state of Immortality, in which we shall be like the Angels.
I shall speak no more now as to the first thing proposed, viz. of the Nature of Angels.
Secondly, I shall open a little of the Work and Office of the good Angels.
1. The Work and Office of the Angels of God, is to minister unto Christ, or attend upon his glorious Person, as Mediator; as indeed they did in the days of his Humiliation.* A Reverend Author saith upon the place, this ascending & descending of the Angels upon this Ladder,
Which is indeed very clear, from his very Con∣ception to his Ascension: Nay, the Angels fore-tells to Mary his very Conception; Behold thou shalt con∣•eive in thy Womb, &c. Also the Angel appeared to Joseph, and said, Joseph thou Son of David, fear not, to take unto thee Mary thy Wife, &c. More∣over, an Angel appeared to him again, to fore-warn him of that Herod who sought the Life of Jesus, and so commanded him to take Mary, and the Child, and to fly into Egypt: See how careful the Angels were of our Lord, that he might be preserved until his time was come to be offered up a Sacrifice for our Sins. The Angels appeared likewise to the Shep∣•erds, and published to them the birth of our Lord in a glorious Hymn of Praise;*Glory unto God on high, on Earth Peace, good will to Men:* When God brought his only begotten Son into the World, all the Angels of God worshipped him? The Angels, more∣over, were instruments in his Preservation, when his Page 96 Life was sought, and they also ministred to him in his bloody Agony,* and comforted him. My Brethren, Jesus Christ was made like unto us in all things, sin only excepted, therefore might need like Succour, Safety, and Comfort from the Angels, as we do. Also the An•els ministred to him in his Temptations in the Wilderness;* and at his Resurrection they rol'• away the S•one from the Sepulchre, and brought the tidings of his being risen to the Women: Like¦wise in his Ascension, the Angels attended, and assu∣red the Disciples of his second Coming; they also ascended with him,* and shall also descend with him, at his second Appearance:*He shall be revealed from Heaven with all his mighty Angels. If he be plea∣sed to descend in his Abasement, the Angels descend with him; if he be pleased to ascend in his state of Exaltation, then the Angels ascend with him: And thus they may be said to ascend and descend upon the Son of Man, personally considered, and this out of that great Affection and Love to him; but not only so, but also in point of Duty and special Obli∣gation to him, he being their Lord and Sovereign; He is the head of Principalities,*and Powers. As Christ is God,* they owe to him their very being: For by him were all things Created, that are in Heaven, and that are on Earth, visible and invisible; whether they be Thrones, or Dominions, or Principalities or Powers, all things were created by him, and for him. And by him also the holy Angels are confirmed, and so abide in a happy and unchangable condition; and hence the more Obliged to adore and worship him.
*2. And as the Office and Work of the holy An∣gels is, to minister, to serve, and wait upon Christ; so also upon his Spouse,* and on every Member of his mystical Body. True, they are called Powers, Mights, Thrones, Dominions, &c. which shews their Glory, Dignity, and excellent Power, and Authority.
Page 97Some think that there are divers Orders of An∣gels, and some superiour to others; be•ause we read of Angels and Arch-Angels: there are seven Names given to them, viz. Sera••ims, Che•u•••s, Thrones, Powers, Mights, Domi••ons, Princ•p•l•ties, Angels and Arch-Angels: Some add more. But no more of this; we know but little of the invi•i••e World: But let their Dignity and Glory be what it will, as to their Office, they are all mi••string Spirits; none of them, no, not the mighty A•gel•, who excel in strength, do think it too much, or be∣low them, for to attend upon the meane•• Saint:*Are t•ey not all 〈◊〉 Spirits, sent forth to minist•r unto them th•t s•all be heirs of s•lvation? Which words [〈◊〉 be] denote that they are sent forth to protect, preserve, and keep such that are not yet ••eirs; or to the Elect not yet called and converted, but shall be Children begotten, and a∣dopted of God in due time,* and so be Heirs of Sal∣vation: Which shews God's great Love to, and Care of his Elect before Grace, or whilst in their Sins and Unbelief.
3. They all wait upon God, and behold his Face and Glory; they are round about his Thr•ne; they all worship, and fall down before their blessed Lord, and attend on him as Servants of their most glori∣ous and blessed Master, their most high and exalted Sovereign: I saw also the Lord sitting upon a 〈◊〉,* high, and lifted up, and his Train fi•••d the Templ•, verse 1. And above it stood the S•ra•hims: and one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Host•, &c. Called Scrap•ims, signifying fire, or burning: (1.) Denoting their Nature is bright and glorious, subtil and pure. (2.) Their Proper∣ty; full of zeal, and fervent. (3.) Their Once, which here was to execute God's vengeance upon the Jews, and to burn them up, and consume th•m as dross.
Page 98Some assert, that the highest Angels do not mini∣ster to the Saints, but only, and immediately wait upon God himself, and on our Lord Jesus Christ. But this cannot be true,* because the Angel Gabriel, who stands before the Presence of God, was sent to Daniel, and to Zacharias, and to Blessed Mary.
4. They declare the Glory of Almighty God, and also ascribe equal Glory to all the Three Per∣sons: which, as I conceive, is hinted in that Text, 〈◊〉. 6.1. Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of Hosts:•oly is the Father, Holy is the Son, and Holy is the H•ly Spirit; and yet, as Moses saith, Hear, O 〈◊〉,*the Lord our God is but one Lord, i. e. one in Esse••e, &c. yet Three Persons.
5. They hearken to God's Commands, and do his Will with all imaginable chearfulness, love, delight, al•crity, and swiftness: Hence said to have the face of an Eagle, the swiftest of Fowls; and also to have Wings.*Tertullian saith every Spi∣rit is winged; they can fly in a moment into any part of the World, and that swiftly. And yet Mr. Greenhill saith, as Astronomers observe,
6. Angels are endowed with much Wisdom and Knowledg, as the Woman of Tekoah intimated to David, touching his great Wisdom:*For as an An∣gel of God, so is my Lord the King. My Lord is wise, according to the Wisdom of an Angel of God, To know all things that are in the Earth. They have, no doubt, great understanding. Hence said to have the face of a Man. The face of a Man,*
(1.) Signifieth, according to Greenhill, and divers others, that the Administration of the Angels is with Knowledg and Equity: The face of a Man (saith he) is put to shew the Excellency of Reason, which must have the introduction into,* and the management of all Actions, else they are not Hu∣mane, nor Angelical.
(2.) By the face of a Man, is noted their Humanity, and Love to Mankind: Angels are of a loving Na∣ture, and most careful of Men, especially of Be∣lievers, or such that are actually espoused to their great Master, Jesus Christ.
7. Angels are very strong and couragious; and hence said every one to have the face of a L•on, a Creature of great courage and strength:*What is stronger than a Lion?
8. They are also very faithful, and unwearied in their work, and mighty patient Creatures: hence said to have the face of an Ox•; a patient, faithful (and an unwearied) Servant to their Master.
Page 1009. And tho Angels are Creatures of great Glory and Dignity, yet are very humble; never thinking any thing to be too mean or t•o low for them to do, when commanded to do it; no, tho it be to wait upon a poor Beggar, as Lazarus, whil• he lived, and to carry his Soul to Heaven when he died.
10. And they always wait for their Commission, will not do any thing without God's Command: hence said to wait f•r his Word. These are they whom the Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the Earth:* Therefore are they set before us as our pattern, that the Will of God may be done on Earth by us, as it is done in heaven by them.
Quest. 〈◊〉 service are the holy Angels imployed in 〈…〉 Almig••y?
*1. God useth them in the Government of the World, as it may be seen in Ezek. 1.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, &c. The Jews thought that the Angels only governed Jerusalem; and that neither God nor his Angels did appear •r rule any-where else: But to take a∣way this conceit, God appears to Ezekiel in Baby∣l••, to convince him that he and his Angels do go∣vern there, and man quarters of the World, as well as in Sio•. And that tho God rules the World, is granted; yet the Angels under him are imployed in this Work, is evident. I argue thus: It is plain that God gives or admits the Evil Angels to rule as a Prince; the Devil is called the Prince of the Power of the A••,*that now wor•eth in the hearts of the Chil∣d••• of disobedience:
2. More particularly they are imployed to in∣form us of God's Will, nay, and God of our Ways; tho, it is true, he knows all things, and need not that they tell him, no more than he doth need that we acquaint him with our evil hearts, and many wants; yet he will hear how Matters are from them, and from us also.
They acquaint us with the Mind and Will of God:* Angels told Abraham and Lot what God would do with Sodom;* and Angels told Eli•ah what to say to the Messengers of the King of Sama∣ria; also an Angel told the Apostles,* that Christ should return in the same manner as they saw him go up to Heaven, and sent an Angel to testify those things in the Churches. Also an Angel told Daniel what things should come to pass in the World, even to the end thereof;* and also gave him Wisdom, Skill and Understanding.
And an Angel informed Joseph of the Mind of God touching Mary. Moreover, the Angels go up the Ladder, as well as down; in and by Christ they ascend to God, as well as descend to Men: they beheld all the Earth sat still, and was at rest: Thus God for his honour, not of necessity, imploy∣eth Angels.
3. They are imployed to withstand and oppose the Enemies of Christ and his Church:* And hence it appears they meddle with Kings and Kingdoms, and in the great Affairs thereof; and as their Power is great, so they sometimes exercise it in the de∣struction of wicked Men: Knowest thou whether I Page 102 come unto thee? and now will I return and fight with the King of Persia. And this Angel Gabriel oppo∣sed (as my Author notes) the cruel Edict of Cam∣byses King of Persia, who laboured to keep the Jews in Captivity longer, and to oppress them sorer than others had done.* Moreover it is said, that Michael and his Angels fought against the Dragon and his Angels.
4. To execute Judgment upon the Wicked: they destroyed Sodom;* and the First-born of Egypt is said to be done by a destroying Angel; the destroy∣ing Angel smote the People with the Pestilence in David's time:* Also an Angel smote of the Assyri∣ans in one night 185000; it was an An•el that smote Herod,* so that he was eaten of Worms.
5. The Angels are imployed to defend the godly Brethren; the Ladder goes through Satan's Terri∣tories; and tho they can't come upon it, yet they strive to throw us down, if possible: but know, the Good Angels have as great power to defend us, as the Evil Angels have to annoy us: The Angels are our guard to deliver us, to aid and assist us when assaulted by the Powers of Darkness, and from the hurt and mischief which those Millions of wicked Spirits that swarm about us would do us:*The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him; they are God's Hosts, as Jacob calls them, and a mighty Host they are; the King of A••••• sent a great Host with Chariots and Horse∣men, and t•ey came by night and encompassed the City about: And now Elisha•s Servant cries out,Alas, my Master 〈…〉 shall we do? 2 Kings 6.15. And he answered,* Fear not: for they that are with us, are more than 〈◊〉 that be a•ainst us, verse 1•. And E∣l•s•a prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that 〈…〉. And the Lord opened the eyes 〈◊〉 the young man, and he saw: and behold, the Moun∣t••n was 〈…〉 and Chario• of pre round 〈…〉.
Page 1036. They, no doubt, suggest good thoughts into the minds of God's People: Can any think that the evil Angels have more power to suggest evil thoughts into our minds, than the good Angel• ha•e to suggest good thoughts? We have not only the holy Spirit of God to do this, but the good Ang•l• also.
7. They are imploy'd to guide and lead us along on this Ladder, that so we may not fa••:*He will send his Angel before thee, and 〈…〉 hold (saith God) my Angel sh••〈…〉. Angel was to lead him all the way 〈…〉 they lead us all the way to ••aven, even 〈◊〉 we step the last step of the Ladder.
8. God, in governing the World, and his People in it, makes use of Angels; they lead s•metimes a poor Soul, perhaps, into a godly Family, or 〈◊〉 the Company of a gracious Person; and so he, by that means, is converted, and his Feet set up•n the Ladder, or brought to believe on Jesus Christ; or Persons are by their Ministration perhaps brought into a Meeting or an Assembly of God's People un∣expectedly, which proves their Conversion: Or may be an Angel may smite a notorious Sin•• with Sickness, at God's Command, to awaken others with sudden Death.
9. They are to keep the Godly in all their ways, or rather in God's ways, to keep our feet on the Ladder lest they Lip;*For he shall give his Angels tha••e over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways, they shall bear thee up in their hands, or sustain thee and uphold thee in all thy goings; as we do a Child or weak person, especially in times of danger, as a Nurse bears the Child in her Arms. But take heed of going out of God's way, lest you fall, and the evil Angels have power over you, as he had over a godly Man's daughter, who going to a Play-house, was possessed by the Devil, and a godly Minister Page 104 pleading with God, said, Lord, why didst thou suf∣f•r Satan to possess such a man's Chil•? The Devil pre∣sently said in her (as I remember the passage) What did ••e then upon my ground? The good Angels, Brethren, have a charge only of us while in his way; a Saint may step out of it, tho not out of Christ, yet out of his ways O take heed of that.
10. Angels are imployed to comfort God's Peo∣ple:*Fear not, Mary: thou h•st sound favour with God. Angels know us by name: An Angel ap∣peared to Da•iel,* and said, O Daniel, a Man greatly beloved, understand the words I speak unto thee. Angels know who are most beloved of Jesus Christ: An Angel appeared to Cornel•us, and said, Thy Prayers and thy Alms are come up as a Memorial before God.*
11. They also (as Mr. Greenhill observes) are to look to the Souls of Believers, that they fall not in∣to the hands of Devils at death, (for they all go to Heaven through his Territories the Air:
Moreover,* they are the Reaper• of the Harvest of the World, and shall gather t•gether all the Elect▪ at the last day; they must blow the terrible Trum∣pet to raise the Dead at the last day.
12. The Angels have work in the Church; they attend the Assemblies of the Saints:*For th•s cause ought the Woman to have powe• o• her Head, because of the Angels;* or to have her Head, viz. her Fa•e covered: the thing signified is here put for the sign; she is under the power of her Husband, signi∣fied by covering her Head.
But why must she be covered, because of the Angels?
There are divers Opinions about this.
1. Some think the Apostle means the evil Angels, who watch to take advantage to tempt Men by the sight of some beautiful Object: But certainly, as our A••o••ors observe, the Apostle would not have spoken of D•vils under this n•tion▪
2. Others think he means the Ministers or O•••∣cers of the Church, who are called Angels:•ut, as Calvin observes, the word Angel is never appro∣priated to Ministers without some addition, as to the Angel of the Church of Ep••st••, &c.
3. Most understand by An•els here, the good An∣gels; they have a charge of our Churches, as Pe∣ter Martyr observes, as well as they had of the Jews:*Michael the Prince stood up for the Children of thy People. The Angels take good notice of every person's behaviour in our Assemblies, how they de∣mean themselves with piety, modesty, and sobriety: If any let their Eyes wander or rove ab•ut, they observe them. Hence 'tis thought the Women should cover their Faces, especially in Prayer, be∣cause of the Observation the Angels make of them and others, whilst in God's holy Worship in his Church: Brethren, like a• the Devils attend our Churches, to hinder us in our profiting under the Word; so the good Angels are there also to resist them, and to further our profiting. Satan (as one observes) is first and last at the meetings of God's People, and he hath many ways to obstruct the Souls of Men from hearing with attention; may be lu••s them asleep, or fills their minds with preju∣dice against the Preacher, or against the Word he preaches, or to confuse their thoughts, causing them to think of their worldly Business, perhaps Page 106 of their Debts, what they owe, or what is owing to them; or of Injuries sustained, and how to seek revenge; or else cause them to fix their Eyes upon one beautiful Object or another, thereby to divert them from what they should mind: But we may conclude the good Angels have as many ways to help us, as the evil have to hinder us. Observe my Text, An•els are upon the Ladder, or in our way to Heaven. Now Prayer and Hearing the Word, &c. are our way to Heaven, i. e. means of Grace to fit us for it.
Hath every Saint a particular Angel to attend him?
I Answer: This is asserted by some wor∣thy Writers,* and by others denied. My Lord Lawrence, a very pious and learned Man, saith, That the Doctrine of the Angel-Guardians hath been exceeding antient, and not among Christians only. That a multitude of Angels do guard the Saints,* is deny'd by none; but whether every Elect person hath a particular Angel deputed for him, or whether all indifferently do attend upon all the Saints. In his Judgment, probably, every Elect person hath his particular Angel; For in Heaven their Angels do always behold the face of my Father.
*Some also think the Angel-Guardian begins his Charge when the Child is born, others not until his Baptism; my Author rather thinks as soon as the Soul is infused. But I find Reverend Green∣••ll does question this, and thinks it is a mistake, that every Elect person hath a particular Angel, &c. and answers that Text about Peter's Angel. I see no advantage this could be to us to have but one Angel particularly to take the Charge of us more than a multitude: (1.) Because of their faithful∣ness Page 107 generally. (2.) Because it is far greater ho∣nour to a Prince to have mighty Hosts of honour∣able Persons to be his Retinue, than one noble Per∣son only. I shall therefore say no more to this, but proceed to the next general Head.
Thirdly,*Why doth Christ imploy the holy An∣gels to minister to his Saints?
1. Because of that great love Jesus Christ hath to his Saints, seeing they have such a multitude of evil Angels to annoy them; therefore he sends them Hosts of good Angels to defend them.
2. To greaten his own Glory; the greater and more glorious the Retinue of a Prince is, which he sends as a guard to his Favourites, the more it sets forth his own Greatness and Grandure; and since one Angel hath such mighty power, and is so glorious, that the Earth is said to be enlightned with it; (I know that is not a proper Angel, yet it shews the glory of an Angel is very great) What is the glory then of an innumerable Host of them? and yet they are all but Christ's Servants, and poor Nothings in comparison of him.
3. My Author saith,
4. It may be to shew what Honour he is pleased to confer upon his Saints, he will spare them his own Courtiers out of Heaven; they shall ride in his own Chariots. This he may do to honour his Page 108 People, to raise their Glory. Sirs, could the un∣godly but see what an Host of Angels does attend upon the poorest Saint as he passes along, they would say, Who is this? what noble and honour∣able Person is this that has such a Guard, such a Re∣tinue? The greatest Monarch in the World hath no such Attendance as the poorest and meanest Saint hath.
5. Another reason why God useth the Angels for the good of his People, or to attend on them and minister unto them, may be, because they are the Spouse of Christ, the Lamb's Bride: Certainly great Honour of right belongs to the Queen, con∣sidering her near relation to the King. And hence she has the like noble Retinue, her Life-guard as well as he; and so upon the same foot of account, An∣gels may be the Attendants of the Saints, their Guard and Retinue.* Believers are the Bride, they are the friends of the Bridegroom, and of his noble Consort the Church:* Certainly in this the honour of the Saints doth exceed the honour of the holy Angels; as Chris• took our Nature upon him, and not theirs; and in that his Church is his Spouse, his Wife, and not they, the glory conferr'd on us seems to excel, tho in respect to their Nature, Wis∣dom and •nowledg, they may excel the Saints.
6. God may do it f•r the safety of his Saints. Some obs•rve, t•at were it not for the good An∣gels, the Devils would even tear the very Bodies of the Saints into pieces: such is their ma•ice and rage against them.
THis reproves or reprehends those that think it is below them to stoop to obey some of the Commands of Christ. Sirs,* see what glorious Creatures the Angels are; and yet they stoop so low, as to minister to the poorest Saints on Earth. Michael despised David in her heart for dancing before the Ark of God. But did he value that? No,* no; if that he seemed vile, he would be more vile: I will (saith he) speak also of thy Statutes before Kings, and will not be ashamed.*
2. It reproves also such who are ashamed to own a poor Child of God; they can call a Rich man Brother; but O! 'tis hard to own, and to call a Poor man so, a man in a Leather-coat, or in a poor garb, before others. Alas, the Angels are not a∣shamed to take care of and own poor Lazarus, full of Sores, at the Rich Man's gate, tho he begg'd for the Crums that fell from his Table, and the Dogs came and licked his sores.* But let such look to it, lest Christ one day be ashamed of them.
1. That we do it in Love to God; Love is the great Principle from whence the Holy Angels do all their Service to God, so ought we to serve and worship God in Love to him, not for Self-profit, or Honour or Applause; If ye love me, keep my Com∣mandments.* Simon Son of Jona, lovest thou me▪ Yea,* Lord: feed my Sheep. I will leave this Charge with none else, (as if he should so say) but such that love me; they that love not Christ, will not love his Saints.
2. To hearken to Christ's Commands: the An∣gels wait to hear what Service God will put them upon; but many Professors make the Word to wait for them, they come not early to the Assem∣bly to wait for the Word.
4. To do it chearfully, and with utmost Zeal; the Angels are like a Flame of Fire, all fill'd with burning Zeal and Fervour.
5. Also to do the Will of God universally, to leave no Precept undone; and then we shall with David not be ashamed, even when we have respect to all God's Commandments.*
6. To do God's Will continually, never to faint nor be weary; for thus the Angels do God's Com∣mands,* they obey always; and thus did David, I have inclined mine Heart to perform thy Statutes always to the end.* Again he saith, So shall I keep thy Law continually for ever and ever.
*Thirdly, This may administer Terror to the Wicked; the holy Angels are against you. As they mark the Saints for Preservation, so they have Page 111 Commission oft-times to destroy the Ungodly: Slay utterly Old and Young,* &c. and begin at my Sanctuary.
Fourthly, It may be of use,* by way of Exhorta∣tion,
1. To walk so as Christians and Members of Churches, that the Angels may rejoyce and dis∣charge their Work with Joy, and not with Grief.
Walk reverently in respect of the Angels, even (as one observes) in your Bed-Chambers: the Thoughts of the Presence of the Angels should hinder us from doing that which is a shame or dis∣honour to us, but much more the Thoughts of God's Presence.
2. Bless God for the Ministration of Angels: O! see what Love he hath to his own People, and what Honour he hath conferred upon them.
3. Have a reverend Esteem and Respect for the Angels, and strive to converse with them, and be like to them.
But say some, What do you leave to Christ and the Holy Spirit to do, if Angels do •o much for us?
1. What will you leave to the Angels to do, (saith one) if they do not Teach, Guide,* Pro∣tect and Minister unto us?
2. What the Angels do, Christ doth; they are his Servants, he uses them as Instruments in his Hand.
3. We leave to Christ to do all by the Inspira∣tion of the Holy Ghost, yet he makes use of the Angels of the Churches, as well as the Angels of Heaven.
But you may say, Christ needs not the Ministration of Angels.
No more doth he need the Ministration of M•n, nor the Use of Ordinances, yet he is pleased to make use of both for the Good of his Church.
*Fifthly, This may administer much Comfort to Believers. Reprobates, tho Princes on Earth, have no such Guards to attend them as you have: Are they not all Ministring Spirits,*sent forth to min•ster to them that shall be Heirs of Salvation?
O! what a Glorious Retinue have you? Your Way is full of Angels, who go to and fro therein. The Wicked are left to the wide World, but Christ is pleased to give his Saints Tutors, Governours and Guardians to Preserve, Protect and Wait up∣on them; the Holy Angels wel• know their Charge who they are to keep and b•ar up in their Hands, and save from danger.
2. See how dear and precious you are to God; yea, how honourable in his Sight every Elect Per∣son is: He hath his Guard. Multitudes of Angels to attend him at all times; for your sakes they have r•ceived their Charge, their Commission; He hath given his Angels charge over thee. You are weak, but they are strong; you sleep sometimes, but they are always awake and sleep not: Sirs, God sends his own Guards to watch over you, to protect and keep you; he knows what a Multitude of Devils would gladly destroy you, and therefore (as you have heard) he has sent a Multitude of Angels to defend and save you; you have not only Ministers on Earth, the Angels of the Churches, but the An∣gels of Heaven to be your Servants.
And the End why God sends them and imploys them is expressed; not that we should worship Page 113 them, (no, no, they disclaim this utterly:*See thou do it not (saith the Angel) I am thy Fellow-Servant, and of thy Brethren the Prophets, that have the Te∣stimony of Jesus, Worship God;) it is to keep us in all his Ways, and they exactly and diligently ob∣serve their Charge:*They shall bear thee up in their Hands, lest at any time thou dash thy Foot against a Stone. These, O Child of God, accompany thee, minister unto thee, incamp round about thee, go before thee, and wait upon thee; but take heed you go not out of God's Ways, it is in all his Ways they are to keep thee, do not venture on the Devil's Ground; the Angels are always upon this Ladder that reacheth to Heaven, which goes through Satan's Territories, the Air, where there are Mul∣titudes of Devils, who strive to push thee down as thou climbest up; but these do boldly resist them, and defend thee continually against those Evil Spirits.
Admiration. Do Angels minister to us?* then ye Saints wonder! Behold the Angels of God ascend∣ing and descending: O what hath Christ done to procure such Guardians, such Helps, such Guides for us poor feeble Travellers? Never fear, tho the Ladder be high, Angels have Wings, they can soon be with us; they descend to bring them up that are given to Christ, and they ascend with such that are going up. You must fly by Faith and Prayer up with them from Step to Step, from Fa•th to Faith, from Strength to Strength, from Glory to Glory, until you come to the end of your Journey.
O ye Darlings of Heaven! Tho others regard you not, but reproach you, slight you, despise you, yet matter it not; the mighty Angels have you by the Hand; they love you, they know you are the Spouse of their Sovereign, his blessed Bride whom they serve, and therefore they honour you: O what a degree of Glory, ye Princely Ones, are you raised to!
Page 114Moreover, What Love is this? what Grandure is here conferr'd upon vile sinful Creatures as we are?* Have we such a Guard? Doth Christ's chief Courtiers above, wait upon us below? Must we ride in the King's own Chariot to Heaven? Do Angels wait on the Heirs of Salvation, Heirs of Glory?
Come then, ye Holy and High-born Nobles, and take state upon you, and say, We are not for dunghil Earth, not base slaves of Sin, nor of this World, nor of the Devil: We are Princes nobly descend∣ed, born from above, and have the Guard of the King of Kings to attend upon us: O! we must live as such who are so born, so honoured, and also as so guarded.
And now, O ye Earthly Muckworms, ye Dung∣hil-Rakers! what signifie your Silks and Sattins, your Golden Chains, your Bags of Money and great Possessions! What, alas! are Crowns and Scepters, or the Guards of haughty Monarchs! What's their Majesties, their Highnesses, their Ex∣cellencies! The meanest Saint is higher and greater than you all, and hath a more glorious Attendance. But to return to Believers;
* Prize your Privileges, ye Saints, ye the most ex∣cellent ones in all the Earth;* that are more honoura∣ble than your Brethren,*more excellent than your Neighbours. Angels administer to you at Christ's Command. Are you ignorant of your Honour and blessed Safety? or will you still hang down your heads and go drooping, because you are poor, af∣flicted and despised? O this grieves Christ, grieves the Spirit, and grieves the Holy Angels! Consider, you are not at home, you are a going into your own Country, to be crowned; you are not yet come to Age; but, as Heirs of Glory, God cares for you, succours you, defends and keeps you; you have a Host, a mighty Host to fight for you, Page 115 mighty and skilful Guides to lead you, a most no∣ble Guard to watch over you, and minister to you, and Chariots beyond those of beaten Gold to car∣ry you; the mighty God is your defence, and his Angels are a Wall of Fire round about you; no Devils can hurt you; no utter ruine can come up∣on you; get the World therefore under your Feet. Your Souls are justified; all your Sins pardoned, and you are sanctified, and shall for ever be saved▪ God is your Father, Christ is your Bridegroom, the Spirit is your Sanctifier, the Saints are your Companions, the Angels your Guard, and Heaven is your Inheritance. O be humble, and lie at Christ's feet: What hath he done for such unworthy Crea∣tures? Let us love God, honour Him, worship Him in and by Christ, and through the Holy Spi∣rit. To whom be Praise, and Honour, and Glory, for ever and ever. Amen.