1. For Humiliation. I shall first present you with a Preparative, to the Vse, and then put into your Hands the Use it selfe.
1. The Preparative. Worthy Patriots, I shall hum∣bly undertake to be a Remembrancer to your Piety and Prudence in a Two-fold Consideration, for a Prepa∣rative.
*The First Consideration is this: 'Tis now ma∣ny Page 29 years since our Fasts and our Fights have been mutually interwoven. Yet, what Profit have we of the One? what Peace from the Other? what end of ei∣ther? Still we fast, still we fight, if not in Camps, yet more dangerously in Counsailes. Our ship is fil'd with waves, more still pressing in, ready to sink it: So that we may cry, O God! carest thou not, that we perish in the mid'st of all our Prayres, Praises, Fasts, and Holy Feasts?
Now you are met againe to fast and pray: Now put on your Tenderest Bowels of pity and affection. So look upon this poore Kingdome, which hath wrapt up in it your Countreymen, your Kinred, all your Dearest and sweetest Relations: Nay, that which to you sure should be, more than all These; the Glory of your God. See it trembling and hovering between A Heaven of Refor∣mation, all good Angels and Men striving to raise it up thither, and A Hell of Ruine, the weight of all Devils, and bad Men hanging upon it, to sinke it downe thi∣ther.
Let this sight melt you, Let it move you to call up all your strength this once; to cry mightily to God. Who Knows, what this One Day may do to Crosse the feares, to Crown the hopes and toyle of many yeares, if it please the Eternall Spirit, to blow right and strong upon your Spirits, this One Day.
Six dayes the Army of Israel compassed Iericho; yet still It stood. On the seventh Day they compassed it seven Times; at the seventh Time, the Priests blew with the Trumpets, and the people gave a Mighty shout, and the walls of Iericho fell downe flat to the Ground. This is the First Consideration.
Page 30*The second Consideration is this. No teares prevaile with God, but such as are wept over Jesus Christ. All the Tribes of the Earth shall mourn over Him. If Jesus Christ be not the Flame in our Breast, that melts our Hearts; if He be not the Object, that draws forth our Teares, though we weep Blood, our Blood will be, but as Water spilt upon the Ground.
If we grieve, and not in Christ, our Griefe is Hypo∣crisie, or at best but Formality. If we grieve, and not for Christ, our Griefe is Idolatry. What makes the Dis∣courses of men mutually understood and moving? 'Tis the union of Men in One Vniversall Spirit of Reason. What makes Colours, Sounds understood and moving, in the Eye or Eare? 'Tis the union of Sense and Sensible Things, in One Common Spirit or Principle of Sense.
If you will touch the Heart of God with your Prayers and Sorrowes, it must be by a union between Him and you, in One Vniversall, Common Person, the Lord Jesus, God-Man.
Iacob obtained not the Blessing by Prayers and Tears alone. But as He prayed and wept, He held fast in His Armes the Angel of the Covenant. Then shall the Day break upon us, and we become as Princes with God, when we pray, and with our Jesus in our Armes; when we weepe upon the Bosome of our Jesus.
If then you have any Sense of the utmost good or ill of this Kingdome, first your Parent, now your Foster∣child: If you have any Sense of your own Safeties, your Soules, your immortalitie, any thing; Send up a strong and secret groane, which God may heare, and say with∣in you: O! that the Lord Jesus, that All-quickning Spirit would descend into our Spirits, and become a Page 31 Spring of Divine sorrowes there! Then should our Teares be as His Blood. O! that the Lord Jesus the Highest Image of Love and Beauty, the most profa∣ned and persecuted, would set Himselfe before our eyes! Then should we know, Why, and How to weep: then should we weep indeed.
If our Dear Saviour would make his Arms our Crosse, that we might from thence offer our Broken Hearts in Sacrifice to the Father; then would our God smell a sweet Savour of Rest in us, and at length give us Rest in Himselfe. This is the second Consideration in the Pre∣parative.
2. The Vse. This is A Humiliation from a Three-fold Ground.
- 1. Insensiblenesse in our Spirits of our Saviour's Ap∣proach.
- 2. Unsuitablenesse in our Counsailes to the Course of His Comming.
- 3. Enmity in our Affections to the Intent of His Comming.
1st. Ground, Insensiblenesse. Is not the Comming of Christ that by which God designes to make Himselfe Admired among His Saints? as Saint Paul testifies, 2 Thes. 1.10. When He shall come to be Glorified in His Saints, and Admired, &c. Is not this that at which All the Angels of God bow themselves and worship? Heb. 1.6. When He bringeth His First-begotten Againe into the world, He saith, Let All the Angels of God wor∣ship Him. Is not this the Grand Wheel which moves Page 32 All, the Centrall Motion, which carries about Persons, Kingdomes, the whole Creation? Heb. 1.7. When Christ comes the second Time, God saith of the Angels, He hath made His Angels Spirits, His Ministers a Flame of Fire. All Angelicall or Elementary Instruments of Motion, are but His Ministers, propagating His Moti∣ons thorow the world. Can This be thus, and we Ig∣norant or Insensible of This Comming of Christ, without the Highest sinne against God, the Kingdome, our own safeties?
Let us then endeavour to apply this use to our selves more properly and powerfully, by a Three-fold Enquiry concerning this first Ground of Humiliation.
*Have we seen Iesus Christ as he Comes among the An∣gels? 1 Tim. 3.16. Saint Paul tels us now, This is the Greatest Mystery of Godlinesse: God manifested in the Flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of Angels: Behold! Jesus Christ, as God puts forth Himselfe in the Forme of Flesh, of the Creature, and over-spreads that Form or Flesh with the Glory and Spirit of the God-head. Thus He shines forth already upon the One Half of Things, the Invisible Part: He already is risen upon the Angels, as Starres, at once gathering them up into His Divine Light, and riding forth upon their Beames. So each Starre now carryes forth a Sun along with it: Each An∣gel, the Son of man and God.
Saint Paul tels us, Colos. 2.10. that Christ is the Head of All Principality and Power. Our Lord Jesus cloth'd with the Glory of His Father, hath united Himselfe to the Acting Principles, and Ruling Powers of this Cre∣ation. Now He Flames forth thorow these invisible Page 33 Fires into all Courts, Campes, or Counsailes, into eve∣ry Frame of things. Now He flyes abroad upon the Backs of these Cherubims, and the Wings of these Winds into the Breast of each Man, into the Bosome of each Creature.
We reade, Colos. 2.15. Having spoyled Principali∣ties and Powers, He made a Shew of them Openly, Trium∣phing over Them. See the Lord Jesus binding Evill Spirits, the Powers of This world in straiter Chaines of Darknesse, leading them Captives at the Taile of His Chariot, making them His Slaves, to Serve Him for Executioners, as the Mutes doe the Great Turke; to raine downe Snares, Tempests, Fire and Brimstone on His Enemies.
Have you seene the Lord thus mounted on His Horses of Fire? Like the Sun, like a Champion comming forth to run His Race from one end of Things to the Other? Are you come to this Mount Sion, where the Mediatour appears with God in the midst of His innumerable Angels?
If you be Strangers to such Sights, then Mourn. For you are yet at Mount Sinai in the midst of Clouds and Stormes. You are still in a Wildernesse full of Fiery Serpents, where every Step you take may be to a Death. As you Mourn, Pray: Sweet Iesus Shine; Sweet Iesus Come thou, as the Day-spring from on High upon us; Change the Appearance, Open to us this New Frame of Angels Glories, covering the World like Clouds, and thy Glories raised on These.
Have you Seen the Lord Iesus Comming in the Spi∣rits of Men on Earth? This is the 2. Step of our Page 34 Saviour's Descent from the Bosome of the Father. We are taught, Luke 17.20, 21. that, The Kingdome of God commeth not with Observation. For the King∣dome of God is within You. The Glory of the Father, in which Christ Comes, is the Kingdome of God. This is not obvious to Sence or Reason grounded up∣on Sence. For it comes not their way, from without. It bubbles up from an inward Spring, like Life. From within it Enlarges it Selfe, as Circles from the Cen∣ter, the Out-most being Last.
This is the Method, by which our Saviour comes Spiritually into the world. First the Godhead opens it Selfe upon the Humane Nature of Christ, making that the First-fruits of the whole Creation. Colos. 1.18. Secondly, the Lord Jesus with this over-spreading Glo∣ry comes downe upon the Angels, making them, the First-fruits of Spirits. The Third Step, which He takes, is through the Angels into the Souls of Mortall Men. In these He plants Himselfe, as a Throne Circled in with the various Beauties of Angels, like the di∣verse-Coloured Raine-bow, Revel. 4.3. Thus these become the First-fruits of Men, Rom. 8.23. The Fourth Remove is upon the Bodies of the Saints, that they may be the First-fruits of Bodies. The Last is the Passing of the Lord Jesus from the Bodies of the Saints into the whole Frame of Visible Things; as a Flame still taking hold of Neighbouring Fuell, Still Catching and Infolding it selfe thorow All Things. By these Degrees the Lord Descends in Glorious State, and as He Descends, Transfigures all Things into the Same Glory.
The Comming of Christ is Compared to the Day,Page 35 1 Thes. 5.5. Ye are Children of the Day. And so 2 Pet. 1.1. Till the Day dawne. The Lord Jesus, as He riseth like a Sun upon the World, first diffuseth Himselfe through the Skie of the Angelicall Nature: Then falls, as a Glory, upon the Tops of the Mountaines, the Higher Parts of the Earth, the Soules of Men: From thence He slides downe into Plaines and Lower Val∣leies, The Bodily Part of Things.
Unhappy He! That Sees not the Comming of Christ into His own Soul. What is it, which He Sees not? He Sees not the Sweetnesse in His Saviour's Eyes; A Forgiving; A Melting; A Molding; A Ravishing Sweetnesse: A Sweetnesse, that freely Forgives the blackest, and most Trecherous Hearts: A Sweetnesse, that kindly Melts, the hardest and most untam'd Hearts: A Sweetnesse, that gently Molds into a Spouse-like frame, the roughest Hearts: A Sweetnesse, that ra∣visheth the most despairing Hearts into an Extasie of Supreame, immortall joyes.
Vnhappy he, that sees not the comming of Christ in∣to the soules of men! What is it, which He sees not? He sees not the Tabernacle of God among men; the Distance lessening betweene Heaven and Earth; the Glory of the Godhead growing to a Fuller Tide, and winning upon the World, as the Sea eating in up∣on the Land. He cannot discerne the Times and their Changes, How, or Why they are; the Fatality of Per∣sons and Kingdomes, their Periods. For these Flourish and Fall, as they Fall in with, Fall off from, or Fall foule upon the Comming of Christ. He is the Corner∣stone, 1 Pet. 2.6. Mat. 21.24. Whosoever shall fall on Page 36 this stone, shall be broken: on whomsoever it shall fall, it shall grind him to powder.
Is it Day-break yet in our soules? Doe we see how it growes Lighter and Lighter in the Souls of Men? If we doe not perceive those Streakes and Flakes of Light, which multiply upon the spirits of men, point∣ing out the neere Approach of our long-lookt-for Sunne; Let us clothe our selves with shame, and con∣fesse, We are Physitians of no value. We have not seen that Beame, which is in our owne Eye, not suffering us to discerne Day-light. But as we are Blind, so let us be Beggers too. And, as that Blind Begger in the Go∣spel, let us sit by the way, in which Christ comes; and as we heare the noyse of his passing by, let us cry a∣loud, Thou Son of David, King of Spirits, have mer∣cy on us: Lord Iesus! that we also may receive our sight: that our Fleece may not be dry, while it raines on the rest of the earth; that our Soules may not be in the Dark, while Glory flowes in upon other Spirits.
*Doe you see your Saviour, as He comes in the Visible Part of Things? Mat. 24.8. The Lord Jesus dis∣coursing of His Comming, having before spoken of Warres, Famines, Pestilences, Earth-quakes; tels us in this Verse: All these are the Beginning of Sorrowes. 'Tis in Greek, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, The Beginning of Pangs. The Commotions and Strife in This visible Frame are the Pangs and Throes, by which It labours to bring forth Christ in the Spirit.
Psal. 97.4, 5. You may reade the Manner and Dis∣covery of this Approaching Glory. His Lightnings Page 37 enlightned the World: The Earth Saw and Trembled. The Hils melted like Wax, at the Presence of the Lord; at the Presence of the Lord of the Whole Earth. Nati∣ons, Kingdomes, Nature, the Elements feele the Ap∣proach of Jesus Christ, and receive the Impression of His Presence increasing upon them. How unnaturall then are we, if we be insensible of it! how Worthy to be cast forth from the Nature of Things into the Ou∣termost Darknesse!
Seas of Common-wealths and Counsailes rowle and roare. Mountaines of Worldly Greatnesse melt away. Rocks of Humane Strength after the firmest Combi∣nations and Consolidations cleave asunder. Doe we not yet perceive the Lord Jesus? The Earth & Hearts quake. Pestilences are kindled. A Smoke of Obscu∣rity, Vncertainty and Confusion flyes over the Face of Things A Fire Burnes. Doe we not yet feele our Saviour? His Enlightnings Enlighten the whole Earth. Extraordinary Passages of Providence, little lesse than Miracles to confirme the Presence of Christ in the midst of us: High and Heavenly Truths publishing them∣selves, even as the Brightnesse of His Comming: These frequent Flashings forth of His Glory, are the Enlight∣nings, with which He Enlightens the Earth. Doe we not yet See Jesus Christ?
Heb. 1.2. The Holy Ghost begins to speak of the 2d. Comming of Christ, v. 6. He goes on discoursing of the Same Thing to the 12. Verse. There He saith to Him: As a Vesture, thou shalt folde them up, (meaning, Hea∣ven and Earth) and They shall be Changed. Suppose a Man by Miracle, Borne and Grown up in One Mid∣night. Day now begins to come on: This Man to Page 38 whom All Things were almost alike before; now per∣ceives Barren Shores, Hanging Cliffes, Devouring Seas on one Hand; on another, Pleasant Fields, Faire Buil∣dings, a Peacefull Country. As the Light increaseth, the Face of these Things still Changeth, Presenting Fresh Horrours, and fuller Beauties. Would not this Man Amazedly Wonder, whence these Formes of Things should grow round about Him, with such So∣dainnesse and Change? till He look't upward, and Saw the Light of Heaven, as It goes on in it's Course, visiting the Earth, and thus Changing it as a Gar∣ment.
Who is not Amazed to See the Changes that are made in the Garment of This Earth? One Day we see it, as a Field Flourishing with faire Hopes; another Day, that Field vanish't, and in its Place, as a City on Fire, or a Sea of Blood. He that now discerns not the Light of Heaven, the Brightnesse of the Godhead, which is Christ Comming upon us, and thus Changing us; what man∣ner of Night is He in? Sure a Night, as Black, as the Shadow of Death.
The Night is a Season for Heavinesse. You that See not the Lord Jesus, how He comes up, upon the Earth, and Invades it with His Troops, as the Prophet speaks: Habak. 3. Sit downe in Heavinesse, Sensible of that Night which Surrounds You. But as you Sit, Watch, as the Watch-men, for the Morning.
This second Comming of Christ, is, as the dayes of Noah. The Lord Jesus in the Spirit shall be both Ark and Flood: An Ark to those which are taken into Christ, 〈◊〉 them high above all miseries towards Heaven: 〈…〉 carrying away insensible Persons, and Scorners 〈…〉 Woe.
Page 39This is the First Ground of Humiliation, Insensible∣nesse.
Unsuitablenesse in our Counsailes to the Course of Christ's Comming.* The Comming of Christ calls for Two Things.
- 1st. A Respect to Christ in all our Counsailes.
- 2. A Resignation to Christ for the Conduct of Those Counsailes.
1. A Respect to Christ in Counsaile. Ezekiel saw The Glory of God: Ezek. 1. This Glory was the Spiri∣tuall Frame of our Saviours Divine Comming upon His Chariot composed of Living Creatures and Wheels: Angels Spiritualized, Bodies Angelized. In this vision He saw the State of Jerusalem, and accordingly fore∣warn'd the Jewes.
As the shadow went back upon the Dyal of Ahaz, so Hezekiah's life was set back from Death. The Person of our Lord Jesus is the Diall of Time, as the God∣head is in the Course of it's Glory advances or with∣draws upon this Diall: So it points out the Rise or Ru∣ine of Persons and Things.
We read, Revel. 1. That God gave to Christ the Re∣velation of Things by a Light of Glory, in His own Per∣son; to this end, that He might shew to His Servants, what will quickly Be. Our Lord Jesus is that Word of God, which is to be, the Man of our Counsailes. On Him we are to look, in Him to see, what should be; by seeing God in His own Formes: what shall be, by seeing God in All Formes of the Creature.
Page 40This is Reason, say the Heathen. A Connexion of Things Past, with those which are Present, a Deriva∣tion of Things to come out of Both, for Discovery and Direction. This is a Dark Shadow of Christ. He is the Reason of a Christian, who unites and represents by a Perfect Light, all Three States of Things, calling Him∣selfe by this Three-fold Name; He that is, He that was, He that is to Come.
2. A Resignation to Christ for Conduct. This is the se∣cond Thing, which Christ calls for in His second Com∣ming. I am Alpha and Omega saith the Lord, He that is, He that was, He that is to Come, the Almighty, the All-comprehending: Revel: 1.8. The Spirituall Com∣ming of Christ, is the great Tide of Things; this way the fulnesse of the God-head pours forth it selfe from Sea to Sea, from the Beginning to the End of Things, Both in Himselfe. Happy is He, who puts Himselfe into the Current of this stream; swiftly, smoothly, safely shall He be carryed along upon it to His End.
There is Mention of a Wheel, Prov. 20.26. The King shall bring the Wheel upon the Wicked. Saint Iames speakes of the Wheel of the Creation: Iames 3.6. For so 'tis in Greek, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Our Lord Jesus comes on as the Great Wheel of Things, reposing in it selfe, and rowling on with it selfe, those, who are taken up unto it: But bringing it selfe over those which fall out of it, and breaking them in pieces.
There are two Things which expresse an unsuita∣blenesse in our Counsailes to the Comming of Christ.
1st. The Directing our Paths by a Humane Prudence.
Page 412. The Designing an Earthly Power for the Pursuit.
1st. Unsuitablenesse: The Directing our Paths by a Hu∣mane Prudence. The Israelites in the wildernesse made a Golden Calfe for their Guide, after the Example of the Aegyptians, who worship'd an Ox for their Chiefe God. For this Moses, say they, we know not what is become of Him. What was the successe? They were forc'd to embitter their Drink with the Powder of this Calfe.
Have any of you been thus tempted, to make the Calf of Humane-Policy your Counsellour, because this is the God of Nations? or to think; We know not what This Iesus, or His Comming in The Spirit meane? Shall we trust our selves, and the Kingdome to a name, an ayrie Fancy? If you have been thus tempted, I hope your own Piety and Prudence will prompt you to grind this Calf to Powder by a Penitent Contrition, and make it bitter to your Spirits, by a Kindly Remorse.
I humbly commend to you one story at large record∣ed: 1 Sam. 13. Samuel promised Saul to come at a Day, He delay'd. Saul feared the Philistines comming upon Him with a Mighty Body; the Dividing of the People from Him: He growes weary of Samuel's stay, and for∣ceth Himselfe to sacrifice. If you have so fal'n, so forc'd your selves, for such reasons, to sacrifice, to establish a worship without the Divine Appearances, because they have been delay'd: O repent and feare, lest Samuel's message to Saul, be to you also: Now is the Kingdome divided from you, this way, by which you thought to confirme it to you.
Let us at last be Converted, and become as Little chil∣dren, Page 42 learning what that Meanes, To Obey is better than Sacrifice, and to Hearken, than the fat of Rams. To Hear∣ken for the Breathings and whispers of the Lord Jesus; to Obey the Breakings in of the God-head upon us, is more than All Burnt-offerings, or our Best Perfor∣mances.
2. Unsuitablenesse. The Designing an Earthly Power for Pursuite of our Counsailes. When Israel look'd round about upon the Interests, Inclinations, Imployments, Sufficiencies of Neighbour-nations: When Israel re∣flected upon her own Constitution, Strength, Num∣bers: Had Israel Peace? When Iehoshaphat joyn'd his ships with those of the King of Israel, were not His ships broken in pieces? Thou shalt destroy all them, that go a whoring from Thee: 'Tis good for me to draw neer to the Lord, saith the Holy Man: Psal. 73.50. The Earthly Image is the Strumpet, Humane Prudence the Eyes of this Harlot, which are as snares; Humane Power the Hands, which are Nets and Bands. He that is allured and caught by these, is upon the Brink of a Deep Pit, if not already sinking in it.
Gen. 9.17. Mention is made of a Serpent that biteth the Heels of the Horse, so that His Rider falls backward. The Policy of Man is a Serpent, Power is the Horse on which He rides. Take heed of making these your Trust or Triumph. If you do, your own Policy will bite the Heels of your Power, and disorder that: Your owne Power disordered will cast you to the Ground, and then oppresse you with its own weight.
I passe now from the second Ground of Enmity to the Third.
Enmity in our Affections to the Intents of our Saviour's Comming. The Intents of our Saviour's Comming are Two:
- 1st. To Consume the Flesh.
- 2. To Call us into the Spirit.
1st. Intent of Christs Comming; To Consume the Flesh. Revel. 6. When our Jesus rides foremost upon a White-Horse, he is followed by a Red, Black, Pale Horse, bring∣ing on Warre, Famine, Death. These are His Troops, with which He comes up upon the Nations, and invades the Earth.
In the Progresse of this Mighty King, as He goes on Conquering; An Earth-quake shakes All Things, the Sun becomes Black, the Moon as Blood; Stars fall like untimely figs; Heaven passeth away as a Scroll rol∣led together, v. 12.13.14. Thus all Fleshly strengths faint, Gloryes fade at the presence of the Lord. The most Spirituall Appearances of God thorow Flesh are darkned and dis-appeare: The brightest of Fleshly Formes, The fairest letter of the Highest Mysteries, be∣come seeds of Warre, and sink in blood: Men like Stars, most Eminent for Height, Lustre, Influence, fall thick to the Ground, like untimely figs, preventing their Maturity by their Ruine: The most Flourishing Com∣mon-wealths, the Fairest Churches, like Heavens, roll themselves into Confusion. Thus Christ comes in Fla∣ming Fire to all Flesh.
2. Intent of Christs Comming, is, to Call us into the Spirit. 2 Thes. 2.1. Paul speakes of The Comming Page 44 of Christ, and our Gathering together unto Him. As the Horses of Fire, and Chariots of Fire came down from Heaven to take Elijah up into them: So the Lord Jesus descends in the Glory of the Spirit, that He may raise us above the world, riding with Him on the Circuits of the same Glory. If I go away, saith Christ, I will come a∣gaine, and take you to be there where I am.
Every Fleshly thing, is a vaile between us and Divi∣nity. All our Conversation in the Flesh, is an Aliena∣tion from God, a Descent towards the Depths of Dark∣nesse below.
The Lord Jesus comes forth in the Spirit, consuming the vaile of Flesh, like Fire. Then we enjoy the same Appearances, performe the same actions in a Divine Life. While the Spirit is our Element, God comes forth in us in all our Acts: God comes forth before us in all our Objects.
There is a Two-fold Enmity in our affections to∣wards this Two-fold Intent of Christ in His Comming.
- 1. An Adhesion to the Flesh.
- 2. An Aversenesse from the Spirit.
1st. The First Enmity is an Adhesion to the Life of Flesh. Our soules cleave to the Flesh-pots: Our Spirits are drawn down into a land of Bondage, and detain'd there, by the Rank scent of Garlike and Onions. We are very unwilling to travell thorow a wildernesse, though it be unto a Land flowing with Milk and Ho∣ney.
We are like Lot, we know not how to leave this So∣dome of the Flesh, till we be drawn forth by the Hand Page 45 of Angels. Then we are still like Lot's wife when we are come forth from the City of this World, casting a longing look back upon it in the midst of its Flames. But if we be like her in her fault, let us be so too in the Consequence of it. She was chang'd into a Pillar of salt. So may we as in answer to the Type, if we bring forth a Spirit of Remorse and Fire, like salt, to consume the Fleshly, Corrupting Part; that the Divine Part may be preserv'd untainted to Eternity.
2. The second Enmity is an Aversenesse from the Spirit. Jesus Christ promised His Disciples the Effusion of the Spirit, at the Disappearance of His Flesh. He spake to them of Divine Powers, Lights, Gloryes, Joyes, of the Highest Company and Contents which should come, when His Spirit came. Yet the Disciples were sad, and as dead men still, when their Saviour spake of His Death. The Spirit appear'd to them a Miserable Comforter and Comfort, when they were no more to have a grosse sight of their Jesus in Flesh. He was as None to them, when He was to be Onely in the Spirit.
When Peter felt Himselfe born up alone by the work∣ing waves, he feares, faints, and begins to sink, though he have the Call of Christ to carry him on, and Christ Himselfe in his Eye to infuse Spirits into him. This is an Example for us: When we cal'd by God, begin to feel the Foundations of the Earth, and the Seeming-firme Land of Sense withdrawing from us, when we are now Lanching forth into the Sea of the God-head; we no sooner feel our selves left upon the waters of the Spirit, to be sustain'd by them, but Immediately we sink our selves by our feares and unbeliefe.
Page 46Let us then now weep, that we have refused the All-quickning Spirit, which is our Jesus, as if there were no Life in this Spirit, or no Light in this Life, as if God were a wildernesse, and the Building of God had no Foundation or Fairenesse in it. Let us now returne weep∣ing and say, We have feared to commit our loves, hopes, and joyes to Thee, O meek, O Mighty Iesus! But all our Springs are in Thee, those that feed our outward senses, our inward Faculties, with Streames of Life, Truth, Strength and Pleasures. Thou art our onely Husband, the Image of all Loves, and Lovelinesse to us, the Best Image of our selves. Come thou downe upon us, appeare in thine Invisi∣ble gloryes, and make our soules, ere they are aware, like the Chariots of Aminadab.
Thus I have concluded the First Use for Humiliation.
*For Caution. Take heed of making any Opposition a∣gainst the Comming of the Lord Iesus.
I shall begin this use with an humble profession, that my desire is to have every thing which I speake under∣stood, as proceeding from him, who would faine speak, and live in a Continuall sense of the Doubtfull Dimnesse of that Light of Reason, which twinkles in his breast; as also of the want of oyl to feed the Flame of the Spi∣rit to any Height or Constancy. I do therefore onely present, what passeth from me, submitting all ever to any Brighter Light in whatsoever Candle-stick it shine. My care shall be, especially in the subject of this use, while I am in this Twi-light, to avoid Particular Con∣clusions, and Peremptory Determinations.
I shall in these Termes set before you these Two Cau∣tions.
- 1. Take heed how you Iudge, or Confine the Comming of Christ.
- 2. Take heed how you furiously oppose any thing, that pretends to the Advancement of Christ in His Comming.
1. Caution. Take heed how you Iudge or Confine the Comming of Christ, and that for Two Reasons.
- 1. He comes as a Spirit.
- 2. He comes in the Darke.
1. Reason. Christ comes as a Spirit. Who can fore∣know, or set the wayes of a Spirit? who can compre∣hend a Spirit in any outward Forme? Is it not free to All, and from All? When Christ was risen, he some∣times put on those shapes, in which he had formerly liv'd, or died; as to Thomas: Sometimes he cloth'd Him∣selfe with strange shapes; sometimes uncloth'd Himselfe of All. For now He was raised into the Spirit, in which as in a Divine Ward-robe he comprehended All shapes, to put Himselfe forth in them, or to put them under His Feet at pleasure.
Saint Paul thus reasons: Colos. 2.20. If ye be dead in Christ, why as living in the Flesh, are ye subject to Ordi∣nances which perish in the using? But this Reasoning is much more strong: If Christ be Risen from the dead, why do we subject Him to Ordinances, as if He were still living in the Flesh, or rather, as if He were not come in •he Flesh, who is the Lord of All Fleshly Rites?
Formes are sweet Helpes, but too severe Lords over our Faith. They may be Ornaments to our Face and Page 48 Neck, serving the Beauty of Christ's Appearances to us, and His union with us. But then they must be of Gold or Precious stone, taken out of the Mine or Trea∣sury of the Spirit. So worne, they may become the Heires at age, the Spirit-born Princes. But if they be of Iron or Brasse, laid upon our Feet and Hands; that is, Grosse in Fleshly Darknesse, binding up the Activity and Motion of our Spirits towards God; then are they sad Marks of the Bond-womans Children.
The Body is esteem'd a Prison or Grave to the Soul; because it tyes the Soul up into One Particular Appea∣rance, suffering it not to enlarge it selfe to any other, but as they are reflected in This Glasse. When the Eternall Spirit is fast'ned, and proportion'd to any One Form of Things, is it not now imprison'd or buried? It was a sea∣sonable and High Contemplation, that of Solomon at the Consecration of the Temple:*The Heavens, & Heavens of Heavens cannot hold thee, How much lesse this House, which I have made? When we Consecrate, or converse with any Ordinance or Peculiar way of worship; let us then remember, that our Object is the Person of Jesus Christ, that Wisdome of God, whose way is more untrac'd than the Eagle, whose extent is wider than the Earth. The Heavens of Heavens cannot take in All of Him, to Containe or Confine Him; much lesse any One Ordi∣nance in this world, or Fleshly Fashion.
'Tis in vain to attempt to shut up Christ in any Thing. Though you kill Him, that you may keep Him safe; though you lay Him in a Grave hewne out of a Rock in a Garden, a Frame contriv'd with greatest strength and Beauty; though you set the Seal of Autho∣rity upon it, and a guard about it; yet Christ will Page 49 rise with an Earth-quake and appeare to His Disciples.
2. Reason. Christ Comes in the Darke. The Lord dar∣kens His own Appearances, who then shall Determine the way of Christ's Comming to us, when He makes it His De∣signe to obscure it? Why do we Condemne the Discoveries of Christ for being above our Reach, beyond our Measure and Light, when 'tis His Plot and will, to Come in Clouds?
If the Light of the world please, as He breaks forth, to hold the eyes of the wisest Men, and Holyest Disciples, that they shall not discern Him, though He walk in the mid'st of them; Let Us bear our Blindnesse, and not lay the fault on Heaven, calling Day, Night; or censuring the Light, for being Dark.
Jesus Christ tels Peter, What I do, thou knowest not, but thou shalt know hereafter. Ioh. 13.6. Our Saviour puts forth Himself to Men in Many Appearances, of which they are un∣capable, to lie as seeds in their Spirits, and perhaps after ma∣ny years grow into distinct Fruits in their understanding, and ripe Fruits in their Affections. Then they know that a Pro∣phet hath been among them: That the Highest Appearances of God have been plain before their Eyes, when they have least imagin'd it.
The Wise-man that spake in Parables and Proverbs tels Prov. 25.2. 'Tis the Glory of God, to conceale a Thing (the Word in Hebrew) and of Kings to search out the matter, (the Word.) God makes it His Designe in this World, to bring forth the Eternall word, the Brightest Image of Himself, so as that we Seeing Him shall not See Him. But then it pertaines to the Kingdome of Christ, as the proper Glory of that, to comprehend this Dark World, and make it understood by it's Light. Take heed then how you judge the Comming of Christ by the Day-light of this world, see∣ing 'tis His Glory to come in the Night.
The Devil too labours to Darken the Comming of Christ. Page 50 Sweetest and Clearest Spirits in which the Bride-groome comes forth most Beautifully, are by Him clog'd and clou∣ded with the Disguise of Faction, Sedition, Licentiousnesse, and Atheisme: as in Paul, and Christ Himself. The most Heavenly Truths, which are, as the lookings forth of this King of Glory, are by him presented to the World in the most deformed Appearances of Hellish Blasphemies.
As the Devill hath his Arrowes which flie in the Dark; so hath Christ: His Comming in the Spirit, is an Arrow, that flies in the Dark at Noon-day; Woe be to him, that stands in its way, it will pierce his Liver. Our Saviour speaks it of Himself: If the Good man knew, at what hour the Thief would come, he would watch, and not suffer his house to be broke open. If you know the Time and way in which Christ will certainly come, you might define that, and con∣fine Him. But now fear to be mistaken, because of that place of Scripture: The stone, which the Builders refused, is become the Head of the Corner: Psal. 118.22. The stone which the Builders refused, is become the Head of the Corner. O ye Builders! Take heed, what stone ye refuse. O ye Men! Take heed of stumbling at that Stone which the Builders refuse, lest your Buildings and Selves be broken upon it, but That grow up into a Building of Glory, which can never be broken or shaken. Thus much for the First Caution.
*Take heed how you furiously oppose any thing, that pretends to an Appearance of Christ. Habakkuk speaks of Christ in the Spirit: C. 3. v. 4. His Brightnesse was as the Light: Hornes were in His Hand, and there was the Hiding of Power. All the Spirituall Discoverys of Christ are as Hands of Light, by which He puts forth Himself, and takes hold of the world. The Invisible Spirit, the Presence of the Godhead in it's Two-fold Piercing Principle of Love and Wrath; These are the Hornes in the Hands. Take heed how you re∣sist Page 51 these Hands, when they are stretch'd forth, lest you rush upon the Hornes. If you launch forth with fury upon any stream of Spirits or Opinions, and strike upon the Power of the God-head, lying hid like a Rock in those waters; how great will the wrack and Ruine of your Souls be?
I will close this use with the Story of Balaam. He went forth upon his Asse to curse the Children of Israel, having first obtain'd full leave from God for it, as he thought; His Asse gives back, crusheth his foot against the wall. He is en∣rag'd: Yet if his Asse had gone on, he had bin slain. For an Angel stood with a Drawn Sword in his way. I intend no particular Application, but onely a generall Allusion. Bala∣am is fleshly Man, that hath the visions of God in the Fleshly Image. The Asse, the Externall Power of Nature and the Creature, on which he rides. When you go forth against any, that call themselves Israel, and think your selves most clearly sent from the mouth or face of God: yet if then your Asse retreat, fall back, Rush upon the walls of Difficulties; take heed of putting him on too fiercely: Let it fairly warn you to fear: Perhaps the Power of Nature and the Crea∣ture, sees the Lord Jesus Comming forth, with the Sword of His Spirit Brandish'd in his Hand. If it should go on, it might carry you into an Absolute Ruine. Take heed then of being furious against any thing that pretends to be an Ap∣pearance of Christ.
For Consolation.* When first you pleas'd to call me to this, I thought thus with my self: What can I say more then hath been said? To what end shall I speak? or, Have we any more Hopes yet in our Breasts? We have bled and wept, wept and bled again for many years. Still we weep, and some feare lest we bleed again with greater danger. As Iacob complain'd of Laban; so is it with us, Our wages, our Hopes have been chang'd now these ten times. Our Hopes and our Saviours have devoured each other, as Pha∣raoh's Page 52 Lean Kine did the Fat; yet as They, are still Lean. What do we cry to a sleeping God, or a God at a great Distance from us, as in a journey? or Are our Services in the Church, our Sacrifices in the Field no more to the living God, than the Gashes which Ba∣al's Priests make upon their own Flesh?
While I was thus discouraged in mine own Spirit, I was refresh't with a Two-fold Comfort, with which I shall now in∣deavour to comfort you.
- 1. The Way of Christ is in the Dark.
- 2. The way of Christ is among the Angels.
1. The Way of Christ is in the Dark. Then may our King be come a good way on in His Travels of Love and Glory towards us, though we yet discern him not. We know not how Near he may be to us, how full of Life and Sweetnesse before us, ready now to discover Himself, when we are weep∣ing for His Absence, and complaining that some-body hath carryed Him away: as Mary complain'd to Himself in the likenesse of a Gardener.
The Sun in a Mist or Fog steals on upon the World unper∣ceiv'd; at last he breaks forth, and we wonder to see him so farre advanc'd towards High-noon. So doth our Spirituall Sun still keep his pace behind the Clouds, still mounting higher and higher. When He shall discover, we shal be a∣maz'd to see, that he hath made so great a March in so short a Time: We shall wonder how he hath stoln Himself, and so much of Heaven unawares into the mid'st of us. Then shal a man say: How is a Goodly plant of Glory grown up to Heaven out of the Earth, in one short Night of Trouble?
Jesus Christ is not Slack in His Comming: 2 Pet. 3.9. Christ saith: I go to prepare a place for you. As a Rich Pillar or Stately work is often vail'd, till it be quite finish't; and then presented at once in its full beauty: So the Lord stayes from Appearing, that he may make ready a Glory Prepar'd for Page 53 us: when his worke is Perfect, then will he disclose it, and we with Admiration shal acknowledge, that the Lord hath not bin slack in His Comming; but hath made a great Ap∣proach to Men in a Little space of Time.
When God brought back our Captivity, as Rivers in the South, then were we as Men that Dream'd: saith the Psal∣mist. When our God shal take off the vail from that Glo∣ry, which He is fashioning in the mid'st of us; then shall we be as in a Dream. It wil be hard to believe, that such a Changed, so new an Appearance of Things in so short a time can be Real, and not Imaginary or Phantastick.
Ezek. 1.4: Out of the North came a Whirl-wind, out of the Whirl-wind a Cloud and Fire, out of the Cloud and Fire, the Colour of Amber, out of that Four living Creatures and Four Wheels, the Chariot in which the Son of Man was seated on a Throne: v. 26.
Who can tell, what Glory shall from Heaven visite the Earth, when those Clouds, which now are upon us, shall open themselves? In this Whirl-wind, Clouds, Fire, Jesus Christ with a Traine of Gloryes hath bin all along descend∣ing, and at last He shal alight amidst us. Then shall the Whirl-wind, Clouds, and Fire be in a Moment dismist for ever at His Appearance.
2. Comfort. The way of Christ is among the Angels. He comes with His H•ly Angels. Open then your eyes, and see each good Man, Counsail, Interest with its Angel, each Angel with His Jesus; a Million of Angels in every One, sur∣rounding his Person.
Iob 38.22. We read of Treasures of Snow and Hail. As Angels are the Chariots of Christ; so they are His Cham∣bers and Treasuries. In the Sweetest season, God can on a sodain bring forth from the Bosome of an Angel roaring Page 54 Tempests, which lay there ready prepar'd. When Storms are most violent, God sends forth an Angel, at whose Ap∣pearance a Pleasant serenity shall immediately smile upon the face of Things, when we are sad, and see nothing abroad but Dark Clouds comming after the Raine, and Showers of Blood: Yet then our Angels in the midst of us, those Invisible Chambers, may be heap't full of rich Blessings, which they can pour forth upon us, more suddenly then we can think it.
Angels are the wombs of the God-Head in this Creation, Iob 38.21. When all outward things seem barren of Hope, those wombs may be Teeming, and Big with joyes for us.
These are the Chariots of Israel, and Horses thereof. In the Head of these is Jesus Christ, the Captaine of the Lords Host. Each of These is an Host, nay a Legion of Armies, nay a Fountain. For in Scripture they are called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, The Principles or Springs of the world.
Let no face of Things dismay us. Is one Army broken? the Angel of the Lord Jesus is a Fountain of forces, which can pour forth a continued store of fresh Armies, if you need them? Do we lose our friends, Men of best Wisdome, Cou∣rage, and Integrity taken off the Stage, or off their Excel∣lencies? The Angel that hath the Charge of this, can unex∣pectedly disclose a new stock of worth, and Race of Men. Are our Enemies Politick or Potent? yet we may sleep se∣cure. For the Holy Angels full of Eyes and Wings are planted round about them, as a Guard upon them. One Angel lies at the bottome of their Hearts, as a Mine, ready to spring it self upon their Counsailes, when they are now ripe. Another Angel wraps himselfe about the Foundation of their force, as a Fire, ready at His appointed Time to de∣voure it and them.
Page 55Angels are the unities of Things in the Creature. Though the water of a River be continually passing away, yet the Ri∣ver is still the same, because 'tis fed from One Spring. There is One Angel of our Armies, One of our Counsailes, One for Strength, One for Wisdowe, One for Prosperity, in which Jesus Christ comes forth among us. Our Counsailes may be scatter'd, our Armies broken; yet we shall have the same Strength, the same Army: For both are fed from the same Unity, their proper Angel.
Revel. 1.1. Christ tels Saint Iohn, The Golden Candle∣sticks are the Churches. c. 2. v. 5. He threatens the Angell of the Church to remove the Candlestick. The Candlestick of Gold is the Church in the Spirit, which is ever Entire, e∣ver Pure. As this Candlestick is drawn into Heaven, so a Company of Men on Earth lose the Beauty, Unity, and name of a Church. When this Candlestick is againe let down into the Flesh, and set upon the Earth: The Church is the same againe in Integrity and Glory. Thus the Vnity, Strength, Interests of Good Men are comprized in their Angel. This is the Candlestick, in which they alwaies shine. When their Light seems lost in the greatest stormes; 'tis but the Candlestick, Removed: Jesus Christ can return that into its place in a Moment, and so restore your Day.
Jesus Christ sends forth His Angels to gather His Saints from the four Winds, at the resurrection. When the Body of a Saint crumbles and scatters into Dust; Every Dust lies gather'd up into the Bosome of some Holy Angel. There all the Single Dusts are comprehended in one Form of a Glori∣ous Body. In This Form the Angel brings them forth at the Call of Christ: This is the Resurrection of the Body. This is as true of each Piece of Life and Death in our Per∣sons or Affaires while yet we are on Earth. When our Hap∣pinesse, Hopes, and Hearts are ground into the smallest Dust; Page 56 They then lie Compact, and compleat in their Angelicall Chamber; on a sudden, as at the Blast of an Angels Trum∣pet, or Glance of an Angels Eye, can Jesus Christ give our Dead Hopes a Glorious Resurrection out of their Dust.
Let us then in the midst of our Sorrows sing, The Lord Raignes: Let the Earth be glad. The Lord Comes. Clouds are upon us, but Angels ride upon those Clouds, and the Lord Iesus upon those Angels. Open your Eyes, see the King, as He comes in Glorious State. If Elisha saw Eliah, as he as∣cended, he was to have the spirit of his Master doubled upon him. If we see our Saviour as He descends in a Divine Glo∣ry; we shall be cloth'd with His Spirit, and His Mantle: In∣ward Beauties, Outward Prosperities, falling fresh from the Person of Christ on us, as He comes down upon us.
Let us then spread our own Garments, our Earthly Pow∣ers, Policies, or Prosperities, in His way, under His feet. And as He passeth along, let us cry aloud in our songs: Hosanna, Hosanna, Save now: Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord: Hosanna; Now Save us.