TO THE IVDICIOVS AND Godly Reader.
IF, in this luxuriant and wanton Age of proud and ranke wits; any should write of this kind, and bee wanting to the exalting of the Plant of renowne, the flowre of Issai, Jesus Christ, and to the dew of his youth, the free grace of God, his heart may censure his pen, and he, who is greater then the mans heart, should challenge him. The weake and low ayme of a sinner, writing of a Saviour, and such a Saviour should be, that Faith and sense may goe along with tongue and pen, but how short most men come, of reaching such an end, who cannot but confesse?
The minde may bee calmed a little in this, that, though to speake highly of Christ, bee, in poore men, who are so low under, and unequall to so great a Province, a marring rather of his dignity, and a flattering of Christ, then a reall praysing of, or point∣ing him out in all his vertues and lovelinesse, in re∣gard that the foulenesse of the breath of a sinner may blacken the beauty of such a transcendent and in∣comparable flowre, that Esaiah a high, eminent, and Page [unnumbered] Gospel-Prophet is at his wits end, at a non-plus, a stand, and giveth over the matter as a high questi∣on; Who shall declare his generation? And another, What is his name,*and what is his Sonnes name, if thou canst tell? All that ever wrot, lye down under this load, and though many now a dayes give out, they have so much of the Lord Jesus, that they are Christed and swallowed up in his love, yet should I think it all happi∣nesse, if I could but tell Christs name, and were so deep learned as to know how they call him. In truth, in regard of any comprehensive knowledge, we but speak and write our guessings, our far-off and twy-light apprehensions of him; and, in regard of com∣ming up to the cleare vision of a Gospel-noon-day light, as wee are obliged; wee but cast the blind mans club, and but play (as children doe with the golden covering, and silken ribbens of an Arabicke Bible that they cannot read) about the borders and margent of the knowledg of Christ? O how rawly do the Needle-headed Schoole-men writ of Christ! O how subtile and Eagle-eyed seeme they to be in speculati∣ons! Grave-deepe, or rather hell-deep, touching his grave-linnens, what become of them, when hee rose from the dead, and the chesse-nut cullour of his haire, and the wood of his Crosse, and the three nailes that wedged him to the tree, and the adoring of any thing that touched his body, either wood, iron, or nailes of the holy grave? And how farre from that. Cant. 8.6. Set mee as a seale on thy heart, as a signet on thine arme.
There be volumes written of Christ, Sermon up∣on Sermon, and not line upon line onely, but Booke upon Book, and Tombe upon Tombe. And ah! we are but at the first side of the single Catechisme Page [unnumbered] of Christ, spelling his first elements; yea, Salomon was but at, What is his Name? I feare, too many of us know neither name nor thing; nay, in this lear∣ned Age, when Antinomians wri•e book after book of Christ, I should say, for all their crying, O the Gos∣pel-spirit, the Gospel-straine of Preaching, the Mystery of free grace, (which few of them know) that one ounce, one graine of the spirituall and practicall knowledge of Christ is more to bee valued then talent-weights, yea, Ship-loads, or mountaines of the knowledge of the dumbe Schoole-letter.
They say, the Saints are perfect, and their works perfect. I slander them not, read Master Towne,* M. Eaton, and Saltmarsh. But how ignorant are they of the Gospel, how ill read and little versed in Christ? Yea, as Luther said, Take away sinne, and yee take away Christ a Saviour of sinners; how little acquainted with, and how great strangers to their owne hearts are they in writing so. There is a fulnesse (I confesse) and an all-fulnesse, and all-fulnesse of God, Ephes. 3.19. But I much doubt, if this compleat all-fulnesse of God, be in this side of eternity; sure it cannot stand with our halfe-penny candle, nor can it be that in our soule, with the darkenesse of an in-dwelling body of sinne, should shine the noone-day-vision of glory, called Theologia Meridiana visionis.
'Tis true, Pauls ravishment to the third heavens, Johns being in the Spirit, and seeing the heavens o∣pened, and beholding the Throne, and him that sate on it, and the troupes cloathed in white, that have come out of great tribulation, do clearely evidence, Saints may in this life be in the Suburbs of heaven, but the Suburbs is not the City. God may, and doth open a window in the new Ierusalem, and let them see, Page [unnumbered] through that hole the young morning glances of the day-light of glory, and a part of the Throne, and the halfe of his face that sits on the Throne, and the glorious undefiled ones that stand before the Throne, but this fulnesse doth not overflow to brimme and banke; the Vessell is in a capacity to receive many quarts and gallons more of the new Wine of glory, that growes in that new Land of Harmony. Now Antinomians lay all our perfection on J•stification and Remission of sinnes; yet pardon of sinnes (except in the sense, which is a graduall accident of pardon, and not pardon it selfe) is not like the new Moone that receives fuller, and more light till it bee full Moone; for Remission is as perfect and full a freedome from the Law guilt and wrath to come, at the first moment of our justification, as ever it shall be, they ascribe not our perfection in this life to Sanctification, which yet they must doe, if sinne in its nature and being dwel not in us.
And for our ingagement to Jesus Christ, for the price and ransome he hath payed for us, we have no∣thing to say, but pay praises to our Creditor Christ, or rather suspend, while we be up before the Throne, with the millions of broken men, the ingaged Saints, that there wee may sing our debts in an everlasting Psalme, for here we can but sigh them; the booke of our ingagements to Christ is written full, Page and Margent within and without; its a huge book of many volumes, and the millions of Ange•s to whom Christ is head, Col. 2.10. owe their Redemption from possible sinnes, and possible chaines of eternall vengeance, that their fellow-An••ls actually lye under. Then, O what huge sum•••s are all the inha∣bitants of heauen owing to Christ?
Page [unnumbered]And what can Angels and Men say, but Christ is the head of Principalities and Powers, Col. 2.10. Yea, the Head over all things to the Church, which is his body, the fulnesse of him that filleth all in all, Ephes. 1.22, 23. The Chiefetaine of ten thousands, yea, of all the Lords millions, and hoasts in heaven and earth, Cant. 5.10. When all the created expressions, and dainty flowres of being, Heavens, Sunne, Moone, Starres, Seas, Birds, Fishes, Trees, Flowres, Herbes that are in the element of nature, or issued out of Christ, there bee infinite possibilities of more rich beings in him, when out of Christ doe streame such rivers of full grace to Angels and Men, and to all Creatures beside, that by participation, in their kinde, communicate with them in drops and bedewings of free goodnesse; it being a result of courtesie and freenesse of Media∣tory grace, that the systeme and body of the Crea∣tion, which for our sinne is condemned to perish, should continue and subsist in being and beautie, Yet o what more, and infinite more of whole and entire Christ remaineth in him never seene; nay, not com∣prehensible by created capacities; and when not one∣ly in the Sphere of grace, but in that highest Orbe and Region of glory, such hoasts and numerous t•oups of glorified Peeces, redeemed Saints, and elect An∣gels that are by anticipation ransommed from their contingent fall into sinne, and possible eternity of ••ngeance, doe stand beside him as created emanati∣ons, and twigs that sprang out of Christ, there i• an infinitenesse invisible and incomprehensible in him; y•a, yet when all these chips, created leavings, small blossomes, daughters, and births of goodnesse and grace have streamed out from him, he is the same in∣finite Godhead, and would, and doth out-tyre, and Page [unnumbered] weary Men and Angels, and whatsoever is possible to be created, with the only act of wondring, and survey∣ing of so capacious and boundlesse a Christ; here is Gospel-worke for all eternity to gloryfied work-men, Angels and Ransomed Men, to digge into this Gold-mine, to roule this soule-delighting and preci∣ous stone, to behold, view, inquire, and search into his excellency. And this is the saciety, the top and prime of heavens glory and happinesse, to see, and ne∣ver out-see, to wonder, and never over-wonder the vertues of him that sits on the Throne; to bee filled, but never satiate with Christ. And must it then not be our sinne, that we stand aloofe from Christ? Sure∣ly, if we did not love the part above the whole, and the drosse of that part, even the froward will, more then our soule; Christ should not be so farre out of either request or fashion, as he is.
If Antinomians offend, or such as are, out of igno∣rance, seduced, hate me for heightning Christ, not in a Gospel-license, as they doe; but in a strict and acurate walking, in commanding of which, both law and Gospel doe friendly agree, and never did, and never could jarre, or contest; I threaten them, in this I write, with the revenge of good will, to have them saved, in a weake ayme, and a farre off, at least, de∣sire, to offer to their view such a Gospel-Idea, and rep•esentation of Christ, as the Prophets and Apo∣stles have shewne in the word of his Kingdome, who opens the secrets of the Father to the Sonnes of men.
And for Arminians now risen in England, and such as are both Arminians and Antinomians, such as is M. Den, and others, they lye stated to me in no other view, but as enemies of the grace of God; and when Page [unnumbered]Antinomians and Anabaptists now in England, joyne hands with Pelagians, Iesuits, and Arminians; I can∣not but wonder, why the Arminians, Socinians and Antichristian abusers of free grace, and free-will-wor∣shippers, should bee more defended and patronized now, as the godly party, then at that time, when the Godly cryed out so much against them, and out-prayed the uncleane Prophet out of the Land; Sure a white and a black Devill must be of the same kin∣red. Grace is alwaies grace, never wantonnesse.
Nor can we ynough praise, and admire the flow∣ings, the rich emanations, and deep living Springs of the Sea, of that fulnesse of grace that is in Christ. Come and draw, the Well is deepe, and what drops or dewings fall on Angels or Men, are but chips of of that huge and boundlesse body of the fulnesse of grace that is in Christ; one Lillie is nothing to a boundlesse and broad field of Lillies. Christ is the Mountaine of Roses; O! how, high, how capacious how full, how beautifull, how greene; could we smell him who feeds among Lillies, till the day breake, and the shaddowes flee away, and dive into the gold veines of the unsearchable Riches of Christ, and be drunken with his wine; we should say, Its good to be here; and to gather up the fragments that fall from Christ. His Crowne shines with Diamonds and Pearles, to, and through all Generations: The Land of Emanuel, is an excellent soyle. O but his heaven lyes well, and warmely, and heartsomely, nigh to the Sunne, the Sunne of righteousnesse; the fruit of the Land is excellent, glory growes on the very out-fields of it. O what dewings of pure and unmixed joyes lye for etern•ty, on these eter∣nally springing mountains and gardens of Spices; and what doe we here▪ Why doe we toyle our selves Page [unnumbered] in gathering sticks to our nest, when to morrow wee shall be gone out of this? Would these considerati∣ons out-worke and tyre us out of our selfe to him, it were our all-happinesse.
1. Many Ambassadours God sent to us, none like Christ, he is God, and the noble and substantiall representation of God, the very selfe of God, God sending,* and God sent, the fellow of God, his compa∣nion; and God, and not another God, but a Sonne, another subsistence and person.
2. For kindred and birth, a begotten Sonne, and never begunne to be a Sonne, nor to have a Father; of Gods most ancient house, a branch of the King of Ages that was never young. And in reference to us, the first begotten of many brethren.
3. For Office; never one like him, to make peace betweene God and Man, by the bloud of an eternall Covenant, a dayes-man wholly for God; God in nature, mind, will, power, holynesse, and infinite perfection, a dayes-man for himselfe, a dayes-man wholly for us, on our side, by birth, bloud, good-will, for us, with us, and us, in nature.
4. What unwearinesse of love suiting us in Mari∣age; what is Christs good will in powring out his Spirit, his love, his soule, his life, himselfe for us; had Christ more then his owne noble and excellent selfe to give for us?
5. How long he seeks; how long a night-raine wet his locks and haire! How long a night is it, he stands at the Church-doore knocking? Cant. 5.1. Revel. 3.20. there be many houres in this night; since hee was preached in Paradice, and yet he stands to this day, how faine would he come, and how glad would he be of lodging; the arme that hath knocked Page [unnumbered] five thousand yeares akes not yet, behold hee stands and knocks, and will not give over till all be his, and till the Tribes in ones and twees bee over Jordan, and up with him in the good land; hee cannot want one, nor halfe an one; yea Ioh 6 39. not a bit of a Saint.
6. The sinners on earth, and glorified in heaven are of one bloud; they had once as foule faces, and as guilty soules on earth, as you •nd I have; ó but now they are made faire, and stand before the Throne washed, and without spot; grace and glory hath put them out of your kenning, but they are your borne brethren, all the Seas and Fountaines on earth cannot wash asunder your bloud and theirs, and there is not upon any in that renowned Land, the marke, impression, shaddow, or stead of any blot of sinne; and Christ washeth as cleane now, as ever he did; you are not so black, nor so sin burnt, but he will make you white like all the rest of the children of the house, that you shall misken your selfe for beauty of glory; thou art at the worst a sinner, and but a sinner, and a sinner is nothing to Christ.
7. There shall be use for free grace in the Land of glory, every new day and moneth of glory (let us so apprehend, as if there were peeces of endlesse Eternity, for our weaknesse) shall be a new debt of free grace, because Christ is never, never shall bee our debter, merit of creatures cannot enter heaven for eternity, the holding of glory shall be free grace without end, then must Christs relation of a Credi∣tor, and ours of debtors grow, and be greener for evermore in an eternall bud, ever spring, and never the top and flowre of harvest, and we ever pay, and ever praise, and ever wade in further and deeper in in the Sea of free love, and the growing of the new Page [unnumbered] contracted debts of eternall grace, and the longer these white Companies and Regiments that followes the Lambe live there, the more broken debters are they, so as Christ can never lay aside his Crowne of grace, nor we our Diademe of glory, holden still by the onely Charter, and eternally continued, wri∣ting of free grace, prorogated and spunne out dayly (to borrow that word, where no Tyme growes) in a threed as long as eter•ity, and the living of God; O the •ast and endlesse thoughts, and O the depth of unsearchable grace!
8. Better a thousand times live under the go∣vernment and tutorie of Christ, as be your own, and live at will. Live in Christ, and you are in the sub∣urbs of heaven, there is but a thinne wall betweene you and the land of praises; yee are within an houres sayling of the shore of the new Canaan. When death digges a little hole in the wall, and takes downe the sailes, yee have no more adoe but set your foot downe in the fairest of created Paradises.
9. Its unpossible Christ can bee in heaven, and peeces and bitts of Christ Mysticall should be in hell, or yet long on earth. Christ will draw in his l•gges, and his members on earth in to himselfe, and up neerer the head, and Christ, and you must bee under one roofe. What▪ Mansions are nothing, many Mansions are little; yea many Mansions in Christs Fathers House, are created chips of happinesse, and of bloud and kinne to nothing; if they be crea∣ted, 〈◊〉 we want himselfe, and I should refuse hea∣ven if Christ were not there, take Christ away from heaven, and its but a poore, unheart•ome, darke, waste dwelling; heaven without Christ, should look like the direfull land of death. Ah! saith Christ, Page [unnumbered] your joy must be full, Ioh 14.3. I will come againe, and receive you to my selfe, that where I am, there ye may be also. I confesse, Mansions are but as places of bri∣ars and thornes without Christ, therefore I would have heaven for Christ, and not Christ for heaven.
10. Formall blessednesse is created, but obje∣ctive happinesse is an uncreated Godhead. Let the waters an• st•eames retire into the bosome of this deep• Fountaine and Spring of infinitenesse, and there can they not rot, no• so •re, nor deaden, but are kept fresh for ever; come and grow upon this stock the eternally greene and ever springing tree of life, and you live upon the fatnesse, sap, sweetnesse, and life of this renowned plant of Paradice for ever.
11. An act of living in Christ, and on Christ, in the acts of loving, seeing, injoying, embracing, resting on him, is that noone-day Divinity and Theo∣logie, of beatifice vision. There is a generall assembly of immediatly illuminated Divines round about the throne, who study, lecture, preach▪ praise Christ night and day. O what raies, what irradiations and dart∣tings of intellectuall fruition, beholding, enjoying, living in him, and fervour of loving, come from that face, that God-visage of the Lord God Almighty, and the Lambe that is in the midst of them, and over-covers, weights, and loads the beholders within and without, and then there must be reflections, and reach∣ings of intellectuall vision, embracing, loving, wonde∣dring, returning backe to him againe, in a circle of glory; and then who but the Bridegrome, and the Spouse, the Lambs wife, in an act of an eternall espou∣sing, marrying, and banquetting together; who but Christ and his followers? Who but the All in All? The I am? The Prince of Ages?
Page [unnumbered]12. And so eminent is the wisdome, and depth of the unsearchable riches of the grace of Christ, that though God need not sinne, and sinne bee contrary to his holy and most righteous will, yet the designe, the heavenly, lovely, most holy, state-contri∣vance of sinnes entrance in the world, drawn through the fields of free grace, proclaimeth the eminencie and never-enough admired and adored art and pro∣found wisdome of God; had sinne never been, the glorious second person of the blessed Trinity, and the eternall Spirit had been, and must be the same, one ever blessed God with the Father. For the glorious one Godhead in three admirable subsistences comes under no acts of the free will and soveraigne coun∣sells of God, the Godhead being most absolutely and essentially necessary. But we should have wan∣ted for eternity, the mysterious Emanuel, the beloved, the white and ruddie, the chiefe among tenne thousands Christ, God-man, the Saviour of sinners: for no sicke sinners and no saving soule-physitian of sinners, no captive no Redeemer, no slave of hell no lovely ran∣some-payer of heaven. 2. There should have been no Gospel, no actuall redemption on earth, no Gos∣pel-song of Ransomed ones in heaven, Worthy is the Lambe, &c. Had sinne never been, there had never been one whisper nor voyce in heaven of a Lambe sacrificed and slaine for sinners, there had been no Gospel-tune of the now-eternall song of free grace in heaven; there had been silence in that blessed Assem∣bly of the first borne of any Psalme, but of Law-mu∣sicke; men obeyed a Law without being in debt to the grace of a Mediator, and therefore they live eter∣nally. 3. Grace, free grace, should never have come out on the stage, as visible to the eye of Men and An∣gels.Page [unnumbered] 4. If sinne had never broken in on the world, the Guests of free grace that now are before the throne, and once were foule and uggly sinners on earth, Mary Magdalene with her seven Devils, Paul with his hands once hot and smoaking with the bloud of the Saints, and his heart sicke with malice, and blasphemy against Christ and his followers, and the rest of the now-whit and washen ones, whose robes are made faire in the bloud of the Lambe, and all the numerous millions which none can number, whose heads now are war∣med, in that best of lands, with a free crowne, and are but bits of free grace, should not have been in hea∣ven at all, as the free-holders and tenants of the exalted Redeemer, the man Jesus Christ; there had not beene one tenent of pardoning mercy in heaven. But O what depth of unsearchable wisdome to contrive that love∣ly plot of free grace, and that, that River and Sea of boundlesse love should runne through, and within the banks of so muddy, Inkie, and polluted a channell as the transgressions and sinnes of the Sonnes of Adam, and then that on the sides and borders of that deepe Ri∣ver should grow green, budding, and blooming for e∣vermore such Roses and Paradice-Lilies smelling out heaven to Men and Angels, as pardoning mercy to sin∣ners, free and rich grace to traitors to the crowne of heaven, the God-love of Christ Jesus to man. Come warme your hearts all intellectuall capacities, at this fire; O come ye all created faculties, and smell the pre∣cious ointments of Christ, O come sit down under his shaddow, tast and eat the apples of life. O that Angels would come, and generations of men, and wonder, ad∣mire, adore, fall down before the unsearchable wisdom of this Gospel-art of the unsearchable riches of Christ.
13. If then love, and so deep Gospel-love be despi∣sed, Page [unnumbered] broken men sleighting surety-love, and marriage-love, and then dying in such a debt as trampled on Co∣venant-love, bloud-love must be areasted with the sad∣dest charge of Gospel-vengeance. I would have saved you, and yee would not be saved, comming from the mouth of Christ must be a seale to all the curses of the Law and a vengeance of eternall fire beyond them▪ But we either, in these sad times, will have the grace of Christ a Cypher, and yet to doe all things, which is the Anti∣nomians wanton licentiousnesse, or free will to doe all things, and grace to doe nothing, but that nature should be the umpire, and Soveraigne, and grace the servant and vassell, which is the Arminians pride for feare they be beholden to Jesus Christ, and hold heaven on a wri∣ting of too free grace; sure, the Gospel goeth a middle way, and the difference of Devils white or black should not delude us, for both are black, and tend to the black∣nesse of darkenesse; and shift the soule of Christ, and break up a new North-west way to heaven, that our guid to glory may not be the Captaine of our salvati∣on, who brings many children to glory, but either loose licence without Law, or lordly pride without Gospel-grace. Now the very God of peace establish us in his truth, and in such a thorny wood of false Christs, and false Teachers, give us the morning-star, and his conduct to glory, who knows the way, and is the way, the truth, and the life.
Yours in the Lord Iesus, S. R.