A SERMON Preached at a late Fast, before the Honourable House of COMMONS.
Behold, he commeth with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall waile because of him.
I Shall make my way through the Context to my Text; so shall we fall more Clearly and Kindly into it.
Saint Iohn in this Book makes from His Time, a Discovery of Those Things, which Are, and Are to Be, till the World should Be no more. So the Greek addes to the second verse this Clause, Both Those things, Page 2 that Are, and Those things, which are Ordained to Be, after Them.
The Manner and Matter of this Discovery are Both exprest in the Title and First words of this Book, The Revelation of Iesus Christ. Divines tell us, There are Two Glasses, in which All Things are seen, that are seen by a Prophetick Light, or a Light of Glory: The Person of our Lord Iesus; and The Trinity. The Scene of this whole Discourse or Discovery, called, The Revelation; from one end of the Book to the o∣ther, lyes in the Person of our Blessed Saviour.
This Divine Discourse is cast into the forme of an Epistle, convey'd by the Tongue of an Angel, the Hand of an Evangelist, to the Seven Churches in Asia.
*This Epistle hath Foure Parts:
- 1. A Salutation.
- 2 A two-fold Preface.
- 3. A Narration.
- 4. A Conclusion.
*The Salutation begins with the fourth verse, and ends where my Text begins. It consists of Prayers and Praises.
Both Parts, Prayer and Praise, have for their Design, a Description of that Person, which is the Ground and Argument of all that Prophetick story, which the Epistle represents From, and In Heaven. This Person is our Iesus, not according to that Fleshly Shape, in which He walkt among men, below: but according to that Page 3 Spirituall Forme, that Divine Figure, in which He sits with God, and shines forth on Angels, above.
1. Prayer. The First Part in the Salutation is Prayer. This hath a Three-fold Description of our Saviours Divine Person:
- 1. A Distinction of Times in the Person of Christ.
- 2. A Distinction of Things.
- 3. An Union of Times and Things in Him.
A distinction of Times in Christ.* This you may reade in the 4. verse, From Him, Which Is, Which Was, and Which is to Come. The whole Frame of Things is built with a Three-fold Partition, like the Tem∣ple, which makes a Three-fold Kingdome: 1. That of Nature. 2. That of the Mediatour. 3. That of the Father. These Three Kingdomes have their Full Re∣volutions, and Severall Periods in that One Majestick Person of our Saviour.
1. The Kingdome of Nature lyes in the Glory of Christs Person, as Past. The first Creation was a kind of Incar∣nation; for in that, the Image of God was made Flesh. Jesus Christ was the Seed of the world. God calls him, The Seed of the Woman, Gen. 3.15. He is the Seed in the Woman, which Sends Her forth, and Growes up out of Her. The Woman and the World are to Jesus Christ, as the Corne to the Blade, Eare and Huske. You reade, Rev. 1.15. The Feet of Christ were like unto Fine Brasse, as if they were Burning in a Fornace. The Formes of Nature are the Feet of the Lord Jesus. Page 4 These are in the Divine Brightnesse of his Immortall Person, as in a Flame; Consumed in the Heat of a Grea∣ter Glory: yet stil Conspicuous and Transparent through the Light of it. Therefore in this Kingdome, our Lord raignes with this Title, He That Was.
2. The Kingdome of the Mediatour. This is the Vni∣on or Marriage of the Two other Kingdoms, of Nature, and the Father; Time and Eternity. This is, as a Flou∣rishing Picture, which consists of Light and Shadow, making of Both, One Beauty. God is the Light, the Creature the Shadow, which here are interwoven, and shine mutually; The Creature By God, God In the Creature: so Both make but One Appearance, One Kingdome.
This is the Middle-state of things: Thorow this, God first Descends into Nature: Thorow this, All Things Ascend and return again out of Nature unto God. Therefore this is cal'd Regnum Mediatorium: This is properly the Kingdome of Christ, as he is the Me∣diator: In this our Lord Jesus is according to his Pro∣per State and Person, known by This name, He That Is.
3. The Kingdome of the Father. Here the God-head reignes in the Fulnesse of an Unmixt, the Freedome of an Unlimited Glory. The Kingdome of Christ is ever in Motion, till at last it roul it selfe into this sea, where it Perfectly loseth, and yet more Perfectly then ever, keeps its own Distinct State. This is the First De∣scription.
*A Distinction of Things in the Person of Christ: And from the seven Spirits, which are before His Throne, ver. 4.
Page 5If these Spirits were Angels, they would in this place justifie and reward the Papists in their prayers to those Flaming Ministers. God is a Spirit, but He is One. These then are some Middle-thing, not by Ne∣gation, that cannot be; but by Participation.
Seven is the Perfect number of the Creature com∣prehending its Labour and its Rest; its Six Dayes, and its Sabbath. Seven times Seven is the Great Jubi∣le, the Joy of All Things, in which they are Free, and Return to their First State.
God then As He varies himselfe into all the Di∣stinct Formes of the Creature, as he carries them on thorow their Severall Changes, till he carry them up to His own Vnchangeable Rest: So He is a Seven-fold Spirit. And this is the Spirituall Person of our Lord Jesus; Pan's Pipe composed of seven reeds; Seven being known by learned men for the Marriage-number.
Revel. 5.6. A Lamb stands with seven hornes, and seven eyes, which are The Seven Spirits of God, sent forth into all the earth. This is that Great Spirit our Lord Jesus, who in the form of a Seven-fold Spirit like a River with seven heads, lets forth the God-head and the Creation, one into another.
The Union of all Times and Things in One Person.* This is the first part of the fifth verse. This Vnion is set forth by a Three-fold Expression:
- 1. The Appearance of all things in Christ.
- 2. The Presence of Christ in all.
- 3. The Power of Christ over all.
Page 61. The Appearance of all things in Christ: Iesus Christ the faithfull witnesse.
Our Lord Jesus in glory is become the Image, and the Light: The Image, in which Each Thing is seen: The Light, by which that Image appears. So He is both the Testimony and the Witnesse. He is the Faithfull witnesse: For He is the Truth of all things. Every thing is seen in Him, according to its most Right, most Proper, and So∣lidest Appearance.
2. The Presence of Christ in all. The first-born from the dead. v. 5. c. 1. Our Lord Jesus was in Nature, so He became capable of dying, He sinks himselfe out of Nature into The Darknesse, which is a Shadow flying round about this Creation, so He dyes. Thorow this Darknesse he shoots forth himselfe into the Light of God, which encompasseth all: So He is risen from the dead.
By His Presence in Nature, all things put forth themselves there: For all subsist in him. Colos. 1.17. By His Death all things die, His Death being the V∣niversal one, including and bringing forth all Particu∣lar deaths. For the world is crucified by the Crosse of Christ. By His Resurrection all things are raised into the Life of God; as the Soul raiseth all the parts of the Body, making to it selfe so many severall Resur∣rections in them. Thus is Christ the First-born from the Dead. This is He, Present in All Things, Passing thorow All States.
3. Power over all: The Prince of the Kings of the earth, c. 1. v. 5. All Principalities and Powers, visible or invisible, are streames in which Jesus Christ flowes forth from God, pouring forth himselfe at last into Page 7 God againe. So have we gone thorow the Prayer in the Salutation, as it containes a Three-fold Description of our Saviours High and Heavenly Person.
2. Praise. This second part of the Salutation which raiseth it selfe, by a quick sweetnesse of change, unto Praise, is comprehended in the latter part of the fifth verse and the sixth. The Praises sing forth the Person of Christ in a Two-fold Description: First Love: Se∣condly Lustre.
1. Love. This Love of our Sweet Saviour hath a double Preciousnesse in it.
1. The Affection. To him that hath loved. v. 5.
2. The Effect. This is Three-fold. 1. Our Justifica∣tion, And hath wash't us in his blood. 2. Sanctification, Hath made us Priests to God his Father. 3. Glorifi∣cation, Hath made us Kings.
2. Lustre. To him be Glory and Dominion for ever and ever. Glory is the Reflexion of Beauty from every Appearance. Dominion is the Power or Ful∣nesse that comprehends and sends forth each Appea∣rance. This is the Lustre of our Saviours Divine Per∣son. 'Tis set with the Roots and Rags of all Being. It hath in it selfe the Power that puts forth any Ap∣pearance; the Appearance that is put forth by any Po∣wer, thorow the whole extent of things, from one end of them to the other, for ever and ever.
Saint Iohn from these Praises passeth as by a divine Rapture of delight and wonder into the First Pre∣face,* v. 7. Behold He comes, &c. Let All eyes here look up and gaze, He comes: He who is, who was, who is to come; He, the Living Creature, and the Page 8 Wheel of the whole Creation of God: He comes with Clouds, He comes cloth'd with so full appea∣rance of Majesty and Sweetnesse, as shall melt all hearts, make all eyes weep teares of Griefe and Ioy; Grief, that they have seen Him no sooner; Ioy, that they see him now; and seeing him, see all their Griefs and Feares eternally vanish't; all their desires and joyes accomplish't; all their Sinnes against so much Sweetnesse perfectly forgiven. Thus we are arrived at my Text.
THe Text is a Prophesie of that Divine Trinity, Light, Love, and Ioy, which shall Vnitedly & V∣niversally reign in all hearts and eyes, at the Second Appearance of this Royall Spouse of Spirits. You will see this Text though it speak of Wounds, Mourning, Teares, to have a sweet, not sad sence in all these; if we compare it with that place of the Prophet, from whence these words seem in great part to be borrowed, Zach. 12.10. I will pour forth a Spirit of Grace and sup∣plications, &c.
The Text hath Four Parts. 1. A Shout. 2. A Show. 3. Spectators. 4. Their Passions.
1. The Shout, Behold. This is as a Blast of a Trum∣pet, giving a loud and chearfull warning of some Glorious Show already begun; 'tis an Excitation with a signification of some Eminent and Present thing.
2. The Show. He Comes with Clouds. He comes. This word in Greek signifies a Present and Continued act, then begun, from that time extending it selfe to our Page 9 dayes, to the end of Time: He is Comming. He comes with Clouds: I shall leave these Clouds upon my Text, untill I come to my Doctrine, then I shall open them.
3. The Spectators. The whole world is the Theater, or Stage, on which this Show is presented. All orders of Spirits are the Spectators: Every eye shall see him: They also that have Pierced him. This clause hath a peculiar relation to the Jewes; 'Tis also a Hint of that Depth in which Divine Love hath laid it's Designe, to spring the Highest Sweetnesse upon the most Horrid Sin∣ners. 'Tis a melting Touch, like that, Go, tell his Dis∣ciples, and Peter; that he is risen: Mark, 16.7. Or like that, Hee appeared first to Mary Magdelen, out of whom he had cast seven Devils. Mark 16.9.
4. Passion. And they shall mourn over Him. The Sight pierceth the Hearts of the Spectators. As Two Principles: Water and Blood ran mixt from the side of Christ, so Three sorts of Teares flow mingled down the cheeks of the Beholders here; Teares of Remorse, Love, and Ioy: Teares of Remorse, for having hated Love, stain'd Glory, murthered Life it selfe, upon a Mistake; And all this, Their Own Love, Glory, Life: Teares of Love towards Beauty and Sweetnesse, an Universal Beauty, an Vnlimited Sweetnesse, united in one Iesus, like Light and Heat in one Beame, and breaking forth from His Face to make a True Day: Teares of Ioy, for that Blessednesse which appeares ex∣tending it selfe securely to Eternity, in the Incompre∣hensible Majesty of our Saviour's Person, which hath Immortality, which comprehends Eternity in it selfe: in which the Quickest Sight is lost in an Vnfathom'd Light.
THe words of my Text being thus opened, doe again wrap up their full sense in this Doctrine:
The Eminent Thing of the World, is The Comming of our Lord Iesus into the world.
This Doctrine empties it Selfe by these Four Heades.
- 1. The Comming of Christ.
- 2. The Clouds in which He Comes.
- 3. The Clearnesse of His Appearance when He is come.
- 4. The Sweetnesse Flowing from His Presence.
*The Comming of Christ. This is Two-fold; The 1st. The 2d. Comming.
1. The First Comming of our Lord Jesus is Carnall. This was then, when he took Flesh of the Virgin Mary. Now He was made Inferiour to Angels, Hebr. 2.9. Now he was made Flesh, Iohn 1.14. Now he was laid so low, as to be capable of all the Temp••tions, the most bitter, the most balefull, that can come from De∣vils, or fall on Man; yet without sinne: Hebr. 4.14. This First Comming was our Saviour's Humiliation, to Frailty, Guilt, Shame, Horrour, Death. The Myste∣ry now was, The Highest God making Himselfe the Lowest of Things; Flesh, Dust, The Deepest Darknesse. Thus the First was the Last.
Page 112. The Second Comming of our Saviour is Spi∣rituall. It is Spirituall in Two Respects:
- 1. His Person.
- 2. His Appearance.
1. Person. The Person of our Blessed Saviour in his Second Comming is altogether Spirituall and Divine. Such as the Person of our Jesus was at His Ascension, such is it in His Second Approach to Men. What is that Person in which our Saviour sits at the Top of His Ascent? You shall read, Eph. 4.10. He that De∣scended is the same, that Ascended farre above All Hea∣vens. This Ascent doth not so much import a Change of Place, as of Person and Proportion. When the Lord Jesus was gone up above these Heavens, which we see, then He was above all Change of Place. The Hea∣vens, which we do not see; the Invisible Part of this Creation is fetter'd with the Chaine of Time, but not imprison'd too by a Confinement or Circumscription of Place. Our Lord ascended, not so much by a Locall Motion, as a Spirituall Mutation, and Exaltation of His Person. As Earth heightned unto a Flame, chan∣geth not its Place onely, but Forme and Figure: So the Person of our Saviour was raised to a Greatnesse, a Glory vastly differing from, and surmounting Any I∣mage, All Images of Things visible or invisible in this Creation. So 'tis fitly exprest, Hebr. 7.29. He was made Higher than the Heavens. He was Heigthned to a Splendour, Enlarged to a Capacity and Compasse a∣bove the Brightest, beyond the Widest Heavens.
Thus we see Negatively, what the State of our Savi∣our's Page 12 Person was, when He was once Ascended. It was no more Like to any thing in Earth below, or Heaven above: It was Remote from All Created Formes of Things, Transcending All: Farre above All Heavens.
Our Saviour Himself wil teach us, what the Positive State of His Person now was, by his Prayer for it: Iohn 17.5. And now, O Father, glorifie me with Thy Selfe, with that Glory, which I had with Thee before the World was. Our Lord prayes, (and His Prayer is both a Pro∣phesie, and the Performance begun) that His Divine Nature may be both the Center and Circle to His Hu∣manity, inwardly enlivening, outwardly clothing and fashioning it; that his Man-hood may be after his Death, at His Ascension, in that same Image, and Ap∣pearance, in which the God-head was to it selfe, before any thing else was.
Saint Paul points out to us that, as Perfect, which our Saviour prayes for: Colos. 2.9. In whom the Fulnesse of the God-head dwels Bodily. The whole Man-hood of Christ, Body, as well as Soule, was so farre enlarged, so farre Spiritualized, as to take in, and hold forth the God-head Fully. It was heightned to Both, the Fulnesse and Forme of God.
But, we must take heed, that we doe not mis∣understand this, and while we strive to have a Distinct View of our Saviour in Glory, confound Him, and our Selves. To this purpose we must use the help of a Two-fold Distinction:
*The Person of our Saviour is exalted to this Glory, not by the Annihilation or Swallowing up of the Humanity into the Divinity: but by the Uni∣on and Communion of Both Natures in One Per∣son.
Page 13Neither doth this Glory come upon our Head and Husband,* by a Confusion of God and Man, the Creator and the Creature; but by a Free Complyance of God with Man, a Full Conformity of Man to God, the Creature to the Creator. The Glorifica∣tion of the Humanity by the Divinity is no Confusi∣on, but a Communion; no Annihilation, but a Trans∣figuration.
Such was the Person of our Saviour at His Ascen∣sion; Such is He, when againe He Descends upon us, at His Second Comming. So Himselfe witnesseth, Mark 8.38. When He Commeth in the Glory of His Father. The Angel so fore-told the God-like manner of our Saviour, Comming the Second Time, Act. 1.11. This same Iesus, which ye see taken up from you into Heaven, shall so come, as ye have seene Him goe into Heaven. Behold, how your Master ascends, and as he ascends, he puts off his Earthly Appearance, growes Invisible, and vanishes into the Glory of God: So, in the same Divine manner, in the same Glory, Invisible to Mortall Eyes, He shall come againe to you. Such, as He is now, at His Entrance into Hea∣ven; such shall He be at his Re-entrance into the World.
Christ at his First Comming was a God in the forme of an Earthly Man, of a Worme, the Lowest of Men: at his Second Comming He is a Man, a Worme, the lowest of Men in the Forme of God. And now the Last is First.
This is the Spirituality of our Saviour's Comming in the First Respect, in His Person.
Page 142. Appearance. Our Lord comes the Second Time into the World, not so much by Change of Place, as of Appearance. Ephes. 1.10. Saint Paul speaks of he Father and of Christ, That in the Dispensation of the Fulnesse of Time, he might gather together in One, All Things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and which are on Earth, even in Him. The Dispensation of the Fulnesse of Time, is the Discovery of Eternity, which gathers up into One undivided State, All Times, Past, Present, To Come; and is therefore called the Fulnesse of Time, which is the Shadow to this Body. This Dispensation began at Christ's Ascen∣sion, and was then perfected in His Person. Now was our Lord fully Glorified. Now He saw All Things in the Beatificall Vision, in the God-head, after a man∣ner, as unchangeable, as God. Nothing passed away, nothing was to Come. From the Heighth of Heaven above, to the Depth of the Earth, and the Creature below, He possesseth All Things, in One Glory, even in Himselfe. To Him then there is now no more Roome for Ascent, or Descent, for Change of Time or Place. What then is His Second Comming? 'Tis His Shining forth upon the rest of the Creatures; that, as He comprehends Himselfe and All Things in God: So They may comprehend All Things, and Them∣selves in Him. Our Saviour speaks this plainly, Mat. 24.27. For as the Lightning commeth out of the East, and shineth unto the West, even so shall also the Comming of the Son of Man be.
Saint Paul cals it an Appearance, Colos. 3.4. Your Life is hid with Christ in God: When Christ, who is our Life, shall appeare, then shall we appeare with Him in Page 15 Glory. The Person of Christ is taken into the Glory of God. This is invisible, not to it selfe, nor any thing like it selfe, but to Eyes of Flesh. Thus Our Savi∣our is Hid, as God is, by the Greatnesse of the Glory. In His Second Comming, He is as the Brightnesse of the God-head breaking forth upon the World; discovering it self, as a New Root of Immortality below the Natural Root of each Creature; and clothing up∣on each Appearance with a New Appearance of Glo∣ry. Thus the Comming of Christ is an Enlarge∣ment of Himselfe from the same Center, yet not to Himself, but others.
So Saint Paul calls this Comming, A Revelation from Heaven, 2 Thes. 1.7. And to you, who are trou∣bled, rest with us, when the Lord Iesus shall be revea∣led from Heaven. In this sense Saint Peter speakes, Act. 3.20, 21. And He shall send Iesus Christ, &c. whom the Heavens must receive, till the restitution of All Things. When our Lord Ascended, He was rai∣sed above all Heavens into God; from thence im∣mediately He goes on shining forth, and dispensing the Glory of God through the Heavens, the Invisi∣ble part of this Creation, Angells and Spirits of Men. Within this Limit He containes his Beames till the Last Day. Then He shall Enlarge His Circuite to take in the Visible and Bodily Part of Things, when They also shall be Restored, and Returne into that Glory, and Divinity, out of which They fell.
There is One Thing more to be observed, before we passe from this Head. The Second Comming of Christ is Graduall. As the Sun, when it is gone from us to Page 16 the utmost Point of Heaven South-ward, immediately Returnes: So our Saviour began His Comming again into the World at His Ascension, so soone, as He had reaeh't the furthest Point of Distance from the Crea∣ture, in the Heigths of the Creatour. We reade Heb. 1.6. And again, when He bringeth His First-begotten Son into the World, He saith; Let all the Angells of God Worship Him. Thus it is read in the English Transla∣tion. But, as a late Learned Critick hath observed, it runs Thus in the Greek: When He (that is, the Fa∣ther) bringeth His First-begotten Sonne againe into the World, &c. This place thus read, manifestly joynes together the Ascention of our Lord, and His Com∣ming the Second time into the World. For when was it that Proclamation was made among the An∣gels to Worship Jesus Christ? Was it not then, when He Ascended, and sate downe at the Right Hand of God? So it is cleerly seene Philip. 2. 9t 10. Where∣fore God also hath Highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name above every Name; That at the Name of Je∣sus every Knee should bow. So soone as our King is entred into the Divine Glory, and hath there received the Ointment of the God-head, immediately He comes forth, and begins to shew Himselfe in a Pro∣gresse of Glory thorow the Creatures, to receive their Fealty and Homage.
Revel. 6.2. The Coronation of Christ, and his Comming forth in a Spirituall Beauty are conjoyn'd by Saint Iohn, who there begins his Prophetick Sto∣ry, and makes this the opening of the First Seale on the Booke, I saw, and behold a White Horse, and He that sate on Him had a Bow, and a Crowne was given Page 17 Him, and He went forth Conquering and to Conquer. The Booke is the Image of God, the Seven Seales the Naturall Formes of Things. The Opening of the Seales by the Lamb, His Comming forth in the Spirit.
I will finish this Head with that place of Scripture, 1 Cor. 15.45. The First Man Adam was made a Living Soule: the Last Man was made a Quickning Spirit. Our Blessed Lord in his Second Appearance comes into the World, as a Soule comes downe into the Body. The Soule comes downe upon the Body, clo∣thing it with a new Shape, Life, and Lustre. So Je∣sus Christ descends upon the World, to Comprehend, to Act it, to Appeare in it, to Gather it up into One Spirit of Beauty and Immortality, in Him∣selfe.
So shall the Heavenly Man sprout forth thorough the Earth, as an Vniversall Paradise; sending forth all Earthly Formes, as Revived Plants, by a New Growth, out of Himselfe. Then shall All Without the Circle of this Spirituall Person, this Quickning Spirit be Death and Hell; a Hell for Dogs and Devils; each foule, false, and fiery Spirit.
I have now passed through the First Head: The Comming of Christ.
The Clouds,*in which Christ comes. These Clouds are of Foure Sorts:
- 1. Darknesse.
- 2. Tempests.
- 3. Worldly Changes.
- 4. Angels.
Page 181. Clouds of Darknesse. Clouds are used in This Sense, as the Springs and Seats of Darknesse. So they furnish out and set off the Comming of Christ as God, into the World. Psal. 97.2. Clouds and Dark∣nesse are round about Him.
A Two-fold Darknesse surrounds our Saviours Person, as He flides downe in a Glory upon the Earth.
- 1. From His owne Will.
- 2. From the World.
1. Darknesse, From His owne Will. David in the 18. Psalme is confest by All, to speak of His owne Deliverances Literally, but of Christs Last Comming Mystically and Prophetically: ver. 11. He made Dark∣nesse His Secret Place: His Pavilion round about Him were Dark Waters, Thick Clouds of the Sky. The Prince in the Poet wrapt about with a Thick and Darke Ayre, entred into Carthage, passed thorow the Court into the presence of the Queene, there stood in the midst of them unperceived, while they speak of Him, as absent, Lament him as lost; till the Fire purified it selfe into a Clearnesse. So the Great Prince of Peace and Spirits, as He comes forth, casts a Cloud about Him; so He comes on upon us; so He encompasseth us, is still in Motion. Yet still we speak of Him, as far above and beyond the Starry Sky, and of His Comming, as at a Great Distance. But, Behold! He is already in the midst of us; He breaks forth on our Right hand, and on our Left, like a Flame, round about us; and we perceive Him not.
Page 192. Darknesse, From the World. 1 Thes. 5.2. The Day of the Lord commeth as a Thiefe in the Night. 'Tis the interposal of the Earth's shadow between the Sunne and our Eyes, that makes Night. The Devill benights Man-kind, by interposing this shadowie world betweene their Saviour and their Soules. In this Night he rocks them into a Sleep, by a perpetuall Motion of vanities. In this Sleep he deludes them with Dreames of Reason, Counterfeit Images of Truth. Now in this Night, Sleep, and Dreame the Day of Christ's appearance, ap∣peares not, but as a Fancy or Dotage. All things seem to continue as they were from the Beginning. Where, say they, is the Promise of His Comming? They dis∣cerne no Dawning of it.
All the Powers and Spirits of Darknesse hate the Light; and Christ, because He comes as the Light, to increase and inflame their Darknesse. They therefore Strive to raise Mists upon this Rising Glory, that they may stain it, if they cannot stop its Course. So the Progresse of Christ is to the greatest part of Men, like the Motion of the Sunne in a Winter day, when 'tis hard to perceive the Day-break, or distinguish between Day and Night. This is the First sort of Clouds, Dark Ones.
2. Clouds of Tempests. Clouds are the Womb in which Tempests are bred, and the Cradle in which they are rock't. No Painter, no Poet, no Writer Holy or Profane hath any thing any where so Direfull, so Tragi∣call, as is the Description of our Saviours second Com∣ming in the Scriptures. Can you cast your eye on the eighteenth Psalm and not tremble? when you see there, Page 20 the Earth Shaking and Trembling: v. 7. a Fire Devou∣ring v. 8. The Heavens bowing Down-ward: v. 9. Thick Clouds darkning the Sky; Thunders, Lightnings, Hail-stones flying through the Ayre; The Foundations of the world below discover'd. v. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15. Thus the Mighry God, our Jesus descends.
Again, Psa: 97. Hils Melting, The Earth Trembling, Lightnings flashing thorow the Ayre, and being its onely Light, Dark Clouds environing all: This is the Scene of Things; This the State in which Christ comes forth.
Behold Habakkuk with quivering Lips, trembling joynts, bones mouldring into dust, when he had onely a Prophetick Representation of our Saviours se∣cond Appearance. All the Dreadfull things that at∣tended the Presence of God, in Aegypt, at the Red Sea, on Mount Sinai, thorow the wildernesse, are made but Types, but shadows of this Terrible March of the Cap∣teine of the Lords Hosts, Christ in the Spirit, thorow all Flesh. Habak. 3.
A wise Jew was wont to say from a Deep fore-sight of the Blacknesse of this Day: The Messias will come, but Lord let not me live to see His Comming.
The Comming of our Saviour in the Spirit, is for the Full Dissolution of all Flesh. 'Tis no wonder then if e∣very step he takes, as he comes along, strike earth∣quakes, pestilences, warres, desolations thorow the Earth. This is the second sort of Cloudes, Tempestuous Ones.
3. Clouds of Worldly Changes. The Finest Piece of this Creation, Naturall Flesh of Christ Himself, is cal'd, Page 21 A Vail, Heb. 10.11. A Living way through the vail his Flesh. Well may we then call all other Fleshly Things, Vailes and Clouds, Gen. 1.2. The Creation in its first Principles is Figured out to us, as a Dark and Deep Sea. Each particular Creature is as a Cloud raised out of this Sea of Darknesse, over-cast with Light and Images. When the Temple was finish't, which was an Earthly Pa∣lace shadowing out Heaven, fil'd with all Excellencyes, as Pictures of Heavenly Glories; then Solomon saith to God, 1 Kin. 8.12. Thou dwellest in Thick Darknesse: Signifying, that the Brightest Beauties of Nature are True Clouds.
In the midst of this Darknesse our Saviour passeth on; upon the backs of these Clouds he comes riding a∣long. Behind the visible Formes of things He hides Himselfe, and steales in upon us ere we be aware. All Their Motions are His Approaches. Mat. 24. The Disciples ask their Master, What should be the signes of His Comming? He relates by way of Prophesie the whole story of the World, Publike in Nations, Parti∣cular in Families, Private in single Persons, From His death, to that of the whole World: And so He answers their Question, teaching them, that as all Creatures are the Print of his Feet, so their whole Conduct is the Mo∣tion of His Feet, Their Commotions His Commings on upon them.
As the Whale moveth himselfe under the Waters, the Billows rise and rowl, the Deep boyles like a Pot. Before our Saviour's time Lucifer was the Leviathan, that made the Sea to seeth about him, like a Pot of Oint∣ment. Now our Lord Jesus sports Himselfe in these Waters. He makes his way under them, and as he Page 22 moves, The Deepes of Mens Spirits, Counsailes, Common-wealths, boyle, the whole Frame of Things reel and rowl themselves into violent Concussions, like Waves of the Sea.
This is the third sort of Clouds, Rowling Ones.
4. Cloudes of Angels, My Text saith, Christ comes with Cloudes. Saint Paul saith, 2 Thes. 1.7. The Lord Iesus shall be revealed from Heaven with his Mighty An∣gels. Our Lord Jesus tels us, Mat. 26.64. Here∣after shall ye see the Son of Man sitting at the Right Hand of Power, and comming in the Clouds of Heaven. He speakes of the same thing, Mark 8.50. In this Phrase; When He commeth in the Glory of his Father, with the Holy Angels. These Parallel places make those expressions seem Parallel: Angels, Cloudes.
The Prophet discourseth of all sorts of Meteors, Psa. 104.3, 4. The upper Waters, Clouds, Winds, Spirits, or Blasts, Flames of Fire. This is interpreted expresly of Angels, Heb. 1.7. And of Angels He saith, He hath made His Angels Spirits, His Ministers a Flame of Fire. These are the Waters in which the Chambers of God are; the Clouds which are His Chariot; the Winged Windes, on which He rides; the Flames, in which He Comes.
Saint Paul joynes these Two, Angels and Flames, at the Comming of Christ, 2 Thes. 1.7, 8. The Lord shall be revealed from Heaven, with His Mighty Angels, And with Flaming Fire. The Flame of Fire is Heat working it selfe into Light. This is the Immediate Image and Instrument of Angels in this visible World, thorow Page 23 this they appeare and work. All the Appearances of God under the Law were by Angels. All the Appea∣rances of Angels were by Flames, or Light. The Angel went up from Manoah in a Flame: Iud. 30.20. He ap∣peared to Moses in a Flame: Exod. 3.2. The Angels came downe upon the sacrifices in a Flame. The Lord Jesus shall come in a Flame of Angels.
The Glory of God in Christ, as he comes the second time, breaks forth upon the Angels. In these He Flames out upon the Bodily Part of Things, as Fire dissolving them in their own shapes, and resolving and raising them into Angelicall Formes. These are the Heavenly Flames of Glory, in which Saints are Blessed; the Fire of Hell, in which Evill men are tormented; Angelicall Forms.
In this sense Jesus Christ tels us, Luke 17.22. that Lazarus being dead, was carryed by Angels into Abra∣ham's Bosome. That Glory of God, which is cal'd A∣braham's Bosome, (a Type of the Fathers Bosome,) was revealed in the Angels, in them it over-shadowed Laza∣rus, withdrawing Him out of this Present State, and gathering Him up unto these Spirits, which are the Fa∣thers of the Earthly Man.
Accordingly we read, Mark 13.27. He shall send forth His Angels, and gather His Elect from the Four Windes. This shall be the Resurrectin of the Body, when this vi∣sible Image and life, which was as wind, breath'd forth by God from the Bosome of those Angelicall Flames, shall by their opening themselves upon it, be again taken in to God, in these Spiritual Chambers.
In the same sence Angels are called the Chariots of God: Psa. 68.17. The Chariots of the Lord are Twenty Page 24 Thousand, even Thousands of Angels. The second Com∣ming of Christ is not on Foot, as a Servant: The Image of the First Adam in a visible shape. 'Tis as of a Prince in his chariot; The Image of God in the Angelical Being. Cant. 3.8. Solomons Chariot had Pillars of silver, Co∣vering of Purple, Bottome Gold, in the mid'st, Love, for the Daughters of Hierusalem. Divine Glory the Foundation, Divine Love the Center in that Foundation; Pillars of Silver, Angelicall Beauties and strengths; the Covering of Purple, the Glorious Humanity of Christ in Royall State Comprehending all. This is the Chariot which the Lord Jesus hath prepared for His Spouse. This is the Forme in which He rides forth at his second Com∣ming thorow the Whole Creation, taking up to Him the Daughters of Hierusalem, both in Soul and Body, at their severall Seasons.
As Angels are the Chariots of Fire, in which the Lord rides forth the second Time: So are they the Horses of Fire on which He rides. Revel. 6. As the Seales are o∣pened, A Man comes forth on Horse-back, The Man is the Image of God, the Lord Jesus, who comes forth in every various forme, as in a severall Dresse for several Designes. The Horse is the Particular Forme of Invisi∣ble Glory, the Angel on which He is Mounted.
I will make an end of this Discourse with that Place, Mark 8.1. Where Christ speaking of his Comming, joynes these Two, the Glory of the Father and the Holy Angels: As the Man on the Horse, He shall come in the Glory of His Father, and the Holy Angels. In our Sa∣viour's Person, as He comes in the Spirit, the Glory of the God-head shal be, as a Sea; the Angelicall Glories, as Ships on this Sea: All Formes of Things in this visi∣ble Page 25 State, shall be taken off the Earth of their own Grosse and Dul Principles, into these Mysterious Ships, in which they shall be carried on still further and further into the Ocean of the God-head.
I have now describ'd those Clouds in which Christ comes, which was the second Head.
The clearnesse of Christs Appearance.*Every Eye shall see Him. There is a Two-fold Eyes,
- 1st. The Inward.
- 2. The Outward Eye.
1st. The Inward Eye shall see Christ. Saint Paul speaks of this, Ephes. 1.18. The Eye of your understanding be∣ing Enlightened. The Eye of the understanding is the Inward Eye. This also is Two-fold.
- 1st. A Naturall.
- 2. A Divine Eye.
The Naturall Eye is that of Reason, which is alwayes open in all Men, so farre as they are Men. The Divine Eye is for many yeares, many ages, quite shut up in the Soul ever since the Creation, untill the Regenera∣tion.
This Eye is a Divine Principle or Faculty of see∣ing Things; the Supreame Power of Knowing, as God Knows and is Known. Saint Iohn speaks of this Eye, 1 Iohn, 3.2. When He appeares, we shall be like Him, For we shall see Him as He is. The Proper Light and Object of This Eye is Jesus Christ in the Spirit, Page 26 as He is the Brightnesse and Image of the God-head.
As a Sun-beame beating with a strong Light upon the Naturall Eye; So shall the Lord Jesus awaken this Eye in Man, by setting Himselfe in it. And now how cleer, how sweet, how satisfactory must this sight be? 'Tis a Fit Union of an Object Suitable to a Proportion'd Power or Faculty, that gives Satisfaction and Certainty. Here the Divine Eye is the Faculty, the Supreame Image is the Object, the Vnion is the Spirit of Unity. Each Image, each Eye, each Sight is not so much as a Dream, Sha∣dow, Glance to This, where the Eye of Heaven, and the Beauty of Heaven possesse each other in One Spirit.
2. The Outward Eye shall see Christ. Now the Inward Powers of the Soul are unrighteously detain'd, as by an Imprisonment, or Buriall in the Exterior Senses. But when Christ comes, the Outward Man with His Facul∣ties and Senses shall be taken in by the Intellectuall and Spirituall Man, as the Tabernacle was into the Tem∣ple. So Both shall see the same Glory, by the same Light.
Saint Paul tels us, 1 Thes. 4.16. The Lord Himself shall descend with a Shout, with the voyce of an Arch-Angel, with the Trump of God. The Lord Jesus shall fill the Angels with the Discoveries of the God-head, as Trum∣pets with a Loud Blast, or Triumphant Flourish. Tho∣row them this Double noise, the Shout of Divine Ap∣pearances, the Voice of Angelicall Gloryes, shall come rushing like a Mighty Wind upon the Dead Saints, and awaken their Bodyes into the same Harmony, as they had done before, their souls. So Both shall be a Treasure of Divinity in an Angels vessell.
Page 27To this agrees that of Jesus Christ: Mark 12.25. They shall be as the Angels in Heaven: Speaking of the Resur∣rection, which is the Comming of Christ to the Body. Then shall our Bodyes be in our Soules, as a Lesse Angel in a Greater. Christ as He comes transfigures Both into Angelicall shapes, so pours forth Himselfe into Both, and Both enjoy the Clearnesse of His Appearance.
The Sweetnesse that flowes from Christs Appearance.*And all the Tribes of the Earth shall mourn over Him. Sweet Teares upon a Sweet Subject! Christ, when he shines out, pierceth the Hearts of Men with the Golden-headed Arrow of Love, and Loving Griefe, by a Four-fold Discovery.
1st. Of the Eternall Relation between Christ and the Soul. Christ comes and All the Saints with Thee. Hos. 4.5. When Thou appearest, then thou Discoverest All His Saints in Thine Hand, in thine Heart, Deut. 33.3. Thou shewest thy selfe, O King of Saints, as the Ever∣lasting Father, the Father which hath sent forth All Ge∣nerations from the mid'st of his own Tender Bowels. This is the First Discovery.
2. Of the Eternall Affection in Christ to the Soul. Divines say, that the wounds shall appeare in the Glori∣fied. Body of Christ, when He Appeares. 'Tis true, that he opens His Bosome, and shewes those Wounds of Love which he had there from Eternity; and those Wounds too, which He received on the Crosse, as they are Glo∣rifyed in His Eternall Love.
Page 283. Of the Emptynesse and Eternall losse of those Things, for which we undervalued our Saviour.
4. Of the excesse and Eternity of Glory, which we shall see comming forth upon us in the Person of Christ.
As at the Discovery of Ioseph, He and his Brethren fell upon the Neck of each other and wept: So will this Discovery in the Appearances of Christ, bring a sweet Confusion upon the Spirits of Men: Then shall a Man fall at the feet of His Saviour, and weeping say, O my Iesus! Thou art my Father, Brother, Husband, Selfe. While there were other Things, I loved other Things more than Thee. Now they are Everlastingly gone, and have left me alone: Yet now thou ownest me. See, as thou break∣est forth, thou drownest my sins and me in a Flood of Glory in thy Selfe. O my Iesus! Thou breakest my Heart.
I have now pass'd thorow the Doctrinall Part of the Point, distinguish'd into Foure Heads.
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.
- Page 47
- 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.