THE WORKS OF WILLIAM BRIDGE, Sometime Fellow of Emanuel Col∣ledge in Cambridge; now Preacher of the Word of GOD at Yarmouth.
The first Volume.
- I. The great Gospel-mysterie of the Saints comfort and holinesse, opened and applyed from Christs Priestly office.
- II. Satans power to tempt; and Christs love to, and care of his people under temptation.
- III. Thankfulnesse required in every con∣dition.
LONDON, Printed for Peter Cole, and are sold at his shop at the signe of the Printing-Presse in Cornhill neer the Royall Exchange. 1649.
TO THE READER.
SO good is the God of Jacob to his Israel on this side the promi∣sed Land, that no good thing will he with-hold from them that walk uprightly.
Friend, If it may be verified of thee, what our blessed Saviour spake of Nathaniel, behold an Israelite indeed in whom is no guile; thou hast at present, not only a title to Esau's E∣NOƲGH, but the tenure of Jacobs-ALL: according to that ancient Charter of all Saints recorded by that great Apostle of the Gentiles, —For All things are yours; whether Paul,* or Apollo, or Cephas &c. All are yours, and you are Christs, and Christ is Gods.Page [unnumbered]
The very Persons and Ministery, Calling and Gifts, Studies and Writings, Prayers and Sermons of the faithfull Ministers of the Gospel,* All are for the use, service, and com∣fort of Christs LITTLE-LITTLE FLOCK. This Evangelical truth is notably proved by the same Apostle to the Ephesians. When our only High-Priest ascended up on high (into the Holy of Holies, there to transact his Priestly office of Intercession at the right hand of God the Father) He gave some (to be) Apostles, and some Prophets,* and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers, for the perfecting of the Saints, for the work of the Ministery, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
Thus this Servant of the Lord is thine; as much thine, as Paul was the Corinthi∣ans. Yea, these his Spiritfull peeces of Evan∣gelical mysteries are thine: Thine, to build thee up in the saving knowledge of that doctri∣nal truth, the Priestly office of Christ, as it is the Magazine and storehouse of all that grace and comfort which we are crowned with under heaven: Thine, to give thee a piercing in∣sight Page [unnumbered]into the intricate methods of the Old Ser∣pent, and plainly to discover upon what rocks and sands the faith of many suffer shipwrack: Thine,* to arme thee with spirituall Armour of proof, called a BREAST-PLATE, because it guards the heart; or (as the word elsewhere holds it out) A LONG-IARGE-SHIELD, which is very dexterous to defend the whole of a Christian Souldier from all the fiery darts of THE WICKED-ONE.*
Reader, Let us be thine, to beseech thee by the mercies of God, (as thou tenderest the peace and welfare of all within thy own taber∣nacle) immediately to put in practise the holy Contents of this Experimentall Book. For if thou art one of the LORDS-Simons, Behold Satan hath desired to have thee, that he may sift thee as wheat. Oh therefore make provi∣sion for thy soule with all speed, before the houre of temptation draweth on. It is not true valour, but desperate fool-madnesse, to adjourne this Every-dayes businesse of everlasting concern∣ment: Because in this, as in oversights of War, there is no room for a second retractation, the first error being unrecoverable.Page [unnumbered]
This is all we have to advertise thee touch∣ing these choise usefull Lectures. For the Au∣thor of them (whom we very much love and honour) we must beare witnesse, that when he first preached them from the bosome of Jesus Christ (his Master) to many tempted bleeding hearts in and about this populous City, he had not then the least thought to suffer them in Print to serve the Publique. But afterwards, eye∣ing the voice of God in the multiplied de∣sires and greedy expectations both of friends and strangers, his constant Auditors (though of different judgements) in their private spee∣ches and Letters; and to prevent a further inconvenience, [sc. the publishing them by some who had impefect Notes in their hands] was necessitated to depute us [in his absence at Yarmouth) to hand out into the world this his Copy,* which was exactly penned from his tongue,* by that his beloved Amanuensis, and since kept charily by him, as a precious thing committed to his trust.Page [unnumbered]
The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ grant thee according, to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, so that thou mayest be more then conquerour through Him that loved thee, and prayed for thee, that thy faith faile not. So be it.
Thine in the Lord Jesus,
- William Greenhill.
- John Tates.
- William Adderley.
The Titles of the second Volume.
- I. Grace for grace; or, The overflowings of Christs fulnesse received by all Saints.
- II. The spirituall actings of Faith, through Naturall impossibilities.
- III. Evangelical Repentance.
THE CONTENTS Of the First VOLVMNE
- HEBREWES, 2.17, 18. SERMON I.
- THE words opened Doct. Page 2
- The Priestly office of Christ is the great Magazine and Store-house of all that grace and comfort we have, on this side heaven Page 3
- Proved ibid
- 1 It is a relief and succour to a Christian against all tempta∣tions Page 6
- Cleered by particulars
- 1 When the Lord Jesus Christ died, he offered up himself a sacrifice to God the Father Page 7
- Proved Page 8
- 2 When he was upon the Al∣tar, the sins of all beleevers past, present, and to come, were laid upon Christ Page 9
- Cleered ibid
- 3 When the sins of beleevers were laid upon him, he did make full satisfaction to God the Father and Di∣vine Justice for them all ibid
- Object. Why Beleevers have their sins still charged upon their Consciences
- Answered Page 13
- 4 This he hath done in a more Page [unnumbered]eminent way than ever a∣ny high priest did before Page 14
- 5 How all this conduceth to our comfort or holiness Page 15
- It conduceth to our comfort
- 1 There is a store house of mer∣cy and meer compassion erect∣ed for poor sinners Page 15
- 2 All our Afflictions come not upon us as punishments Page 16
- 3 We shall never be damned ibid
- 4 We may come with boldness to the throne of grace ibid
- Object. How shall I know that Jesus Christ hath satisfied for me?
- Ans. 1. Why not for thee? Page 17
- 2 Applying the promise makes it thine ibid
- 3 Christ is willing you should think he satisfied for you ibid
- 4 Else we are in a worse condi∣tion than the Jews
- It conduceth to our holiness
- 1 The new covenant is founded upon it Page 19
- 2 Strengthen faith and streng∣then all graces ibid
- 3 The more a man sees a holy necessity upon Christ to shew mercy, the more his faith ri∣ses Page 20
- 4 The more a man is engaged to Christ, the more holy he is, the more a man sees his sins pardoned the more is he enga∣ged to Christ ibid
- 5 The more a man denies his own reghteousness, the more holy is he with Gospel-holiness Page 21
- SERMON II. Heb. 2.17, 18.
- The second work of a high priest, is, to pray and intercede for the people Page 25
- Proved Page 26
- Cleered by opening
- 1 Wherein it consisteth
- 1 In owning our cause and souls to God his father Page 27
- 2 Carries the merit of his blood into the presence of God the Father Page 28
- 3 Answers the accusations that are brought in against us ibid
- 4 Cals for pardon of our sins at the hands of God Page 30
- 2 How powerful it is with God the father,
- 1 The great interest he hath with his father Page 31
- 2 The inclination God the Father hath to the things Christ intercedeth for Page 32
- 3 upon what terms Christ was taken and admitted Page [unnumbered]into heaven Page 34
- 3 He now intercedeth for us in heaven as our High-priest
- 1 He hath gone through more temptations than any High-priest ever did Page 35
- 2 He is filled with more com∣passions Page 36
- 3 He is more faithful in his office Page 37
- 4 He liveth for ever to inter∣cede Page 38
- 5 He intercedeth at all times ibid
- 6 For all sins, the sin against the holy-Ghost excepted
- 4 This conducech to our comfort and holiness
- To our comfort, proved Page 39
- Object. I am afraid the Lord Christ doth not intercede for me
- Answ. 1. It is no presumption to bear our selves upon the in∣tercession of Jesus Christ Page 41
- 2 Who those are that Christ doth intercede for Page 42
- 3 How infinitely willing he is to intercede for us
- 1 He hath received his a∣nointing for it Page 44
- 2 It is the work of his relati∣on Page 45
- 3 It is the work of his office Page 46
- To our holiness
- 1 The more we are engaged to come to Christ Page 48
- 2 The more we are engaged to appear on earth for him Page 49
- 3 The more we are engaged to lay out our selves for him Page 50
- SERMON III Heb. 2.17, 18.
- The third work of the High Priest, to offer up the gifts of the people to God, to present their duties, to him Page 52
- Proved Page 53
- Cleered by particulars
- 1 What Christ doth when he of∣fers up our gifts to God the Father Page 54
- 1 He takes our persons and carries them to God the Father in an unperceiva∣ble way to us ibid
- 2 He takes out the iniquity of our duties, before he pre∣sents our duties to his fa∣ther Page 55
- 3 He mingles his own inter∣cession with what is good in our duties, and so pre∣sents them as one work to his father Page 56
- 2 What acceptance this hath with God the Father Page 57Page [unnumbered]
- 1 It was an agreement made between them before the world was ibid
- 2 He was made the great Lord treasurer of all grace Page 58
- 3 The father promiseth him his desire ibid
- 4 He hath put the keys of heaven and hell into his hands ibid
- 3 He doth Improve his accep∣tance for our acceptance Page 59
- 4 What abundance of accep∣tance we have in all our du∣ties by him Page 60
- Objections answered Page 62
- 5 How this makes for our com∣fort and holiness Page 64
- For our comfort
- 1 Our duties are not lost, Christ takes notice of them Page 65
- 2 We have liberty to go to the mercy seat and there meet with God ibid
- 3 We know how it shall go with us at the great day of judgment ibid
- 4 Being poor beggers we are releeved of God Page 66
- Object, How shall I know the Lord accepts my duty?
- Answ. 1 If thou find thy heart warm in duty or after duty, thy duty is accepted Page 67
- 2 Can you pray and intercede for other godly men Page 68
- 3 If grace be larger under the Gospel than under the Law ibid
- For our holiness
- 1 To the ungodly
- 1 It keeps men from opposition to the wayes of God Page 69
- 2 It is a mighty encouragement to ungodly men to come to Christ Page 70
- 2 To the godly
- 1 Here's an infinite reason why we should be much in duty ibid
- 2 Infinite reason why we should receive every truth that comes from Christ Page 71
- 3 It will make you more obedi∣ent in an evangelical way. Page 72
- 4 The more a man rejoyceth in spirituall obedience the more humble he is Page 74
- 1 To the ungodly
- SERMON IIII Heb. 2.17, 18.
- The fourth work of the High priest is, to blesse the peo∣ple Page 76
- Proved ibid
- 1 Wherein the blessing of Christ and of the Gospel consists Page 77
- 1 In the spiritual enjoyment Page [unnumbered]of God in Christ Page 79
- 2 In the holy Ghost dwelling in our hearts ibid
- 2 What Christ doth when he doth blesse
- 1 He wisheth choyce blessings to them Page 80
- 2 He doth authoritively pro∣nounce him blessed Page 81
- 3 He absolves them from all their sins ibid
- 4 He confers and bestows the blessing upon them ibid
- 5 He gives increase Page 82
- 3 That this belongs especially to Christ, proved Page 83
- 4 That Jesus Christ is willing to blesse poor sinners Page 85
- 5 He doth this fully ibid
- Object. We do not see it
- Answ. 1. 'Tis a hard thing to discern the blessing of Christ sometimes ibid
- 2 He doth not blesse as the world blesseth Page 84
- 3 Not as professors blesse Page 85
- 4 Not alwaies as godly men blesse ibid
- But 1. He blesseth such as are weak in gifts and grace Page 86
- 2 Such as he hath made use of in the work of God ibid
- 3 Such as are willing to leave all relations to follow him Page 87
- 4 He blesseth when the world curseth ibid
- 5 Such as graciously enjoy e∣vangelical ordinances Page 88
- 6 All this conduceth to our com∣fort and holiness
- To our comfort Page 88
- Object. If I were assured God had blessed me I could have comfort
- Answ. 1 It is a sign a man is blessed, when others are bles∣sed by him Page 90
- 2 When he is drawn the neerer to God by outward things Page 91
- 3 When he encreaseth and mul∣tiplieth ibid
- To our holinesse
- 1 it encourageth to come to the truth Page 92
- 2 To go on in it against all opposition Page 94
- 3 To go on though we have but weak parts ibid
- 4 To be contented with our condition Page 95
- 5 Continually to bless the Lord ibid
- Page [unnumbered]Hebrews, 2.18. SERMON I
- Text opened Page 98
- God suffers his deerest children to suffer by the hand of temp∣tation Page 101
- 1 There is an afflictive disposi∣tion in every temptation Page 101
- 2 God suffers his own children thus to suffer
- 1 The best many times suffer most Page 103
- 2 At that very time when they have most of God ibid
- 3 Satan many times seems to have the better of them Page 104
- 4 This continues a long time ibid
- Why God doth so
- 1 That they may be the more enlightened Page 104
- 2 That they may be cleansed ibid
- 3 That they may be kept ibid
- 4 That their graces may en∣crease Page 105
- 5 That it may be discovered to themselves and others, what their sins and graces are ibid
- 6 That they may be the more fit to receive Christ as a Saviour ibid
- 7 That they may be made like to Christ ibid
- 8 Ʋpon the same reasons that God suffered the children of Israel to suffer under the Egyptians
- 1 That his power might appear Page 106
- 2 That they might not learn their manners ibid
- 3 That they might be pro∣voked against them to cut them off Page 106
- 4 That they might long for the Land of Rest Page 107
- 5 That they might not re∣turn back to Egypt. ibid
- Objection. Answered Page 108
- Do not question the love of God because of temptations Page 109
- How shall I order my heart in temptations?
- 1 Take heed you do not yeeld to any part of a temptation that you may be delivered from. Page [unnumbered]Page 113
- 2 Do not carry the guilt of your old condition into a new con∣dition ibid
- 3 Note what sutableness there is in your condition to the temp∣tation, and take away that Page 114
- 4 Turn your thoughts to another object Page 115
- 5 Take the Shield of Faith. ibid
- 6 Doe not feare too much, Do not fear too little Page 116
- 7 If you overcome, be thank∣ful; if you be overcome, hold up still Page 117
- 8 Make good improvement of it ibid
- Sermon 2. Heb. 2.18.
- The Lord Jesus Christ is a suc∣couring Christ to tempted souls Page 220
- Proved Page 221
- 1 Christ is able to do it Page 222
- 2 He is willing to do it
- 1 It is Gods will, and he delights to do the will of God Page 224
- 2 He was willing to suffer it, therefore to do ibid
- 3 He is much troubled if it be not done Page 225
- 3 He is faithfull in doing it. Page 226
- 4 How Christ succours in temp∣tation.
- 1 Before temptation
- 1 By manifestation of him self Page 227
- 2 By laying in Gospel-principles ibid
- 3 By filling the heart with the Holy Ghost Page 228
- 2 Ʋnder Temptation.
- 1 By opening their eyes to see it is but a temptati∣on Page 228
- 2 By letting fall some glimps of his love ibid
- 3 He doth succour from temptation, by tempta∣tion Page 229
- 4 By casting in some pro∣mise ibid
- 5 By keeping the heart and the temptation as∣sunder ibid
- 3 After temptation, by fil∣ling the heart with unspea∣kable joy ibid
- 1 Before temptation
- Application 1
- A gracious invitation to poore tempted souls to come to Christ Page 229
- Object. Page [unnumbered]
- Why then are men damned?
- Answered Page 230
- Other objections answered ibid
- My temptation is mixed with corruption
- 1 He succours sinners most when they are most temp∣ted Page 231
- 2 When they cannot succour themselves Page 232
- 3 Notwithstanding all their failings ibid
- Application 2
- Here is strong consolation to all Saints Page 233
- Application 3
- Let us be succouring Christians Page 235
- Application 4
- Why should we yeeld to tempta∣tions though never so violent Page 236
- Application 5
- Let us labour to answer Christ in this work
- 1 Observe his succours and lay them up against a rai∣ny day ibid
- 2 Labour to keep the sence of his love upon your hearts Page 237
- 3 Look up to Christ ibid
- 4 Give thy soul up into his hands Page 238
- 5 Rest on him ibid
- 6 Do not rest upon means be∣cause great, nor despise them because smal ibid
- 7 Do not live upon the letter of a promise Page 239
- 8 If you have the worst, be humbled, If the better, improve your victory ibid
- SERMON III Luke 22.31, 32.
- Text opened Page 241
- Christ gives leave to Satan sometimes to tempt his own and best Disciples Page 242
- 1 What great power Satan hath to tempt and molest the children of men
- 1 He is an Angel Page 242
- 2 He is a Spirit Page 243
- 3 He is able to suggest what he pleaseth ibid
- 4 He knows what bait will soonest take ibid
- 5 He is able to follow his sug∣gestions ibid
- 6 He is able to bemire the fancy ibid
- 7 To hold down a mans mind to that particular thing Page 244 Page [unnumbered]
- 8 The same words which are given to God for good, are given to the Devil for evil ibid
- Wherein the Devil fals short of God ibid
- 2 He puts forth this power espe∣cially upon the best of Saints Page 245
- Why doth Satan lie so heavy up∣on the Saints seeing he knows they shall be saved
- 1 His envy Page 246
- 2 That they may be stum∣bling blocks to others ibid
- 3 He loves to molest them Page 247
- 3 How he comes by this power Page 248
- 4 Why God gives Satan leave to tempt his own children
- 1 To wean them from that sin they fall into Page 249
- 2 The manifestation of his own power, wisdom, faithfulness, and free-grace Page 250
- Why should any man doubt of his sonship Page 251
- Mine is no temptation of Satan but the corruption of my own heart
- 1 It is usual for Saints to charge all Satans tempta∣tions upon their own hearts Page 254
- 2 The Saints never fall in∣to any great sin, but Satan hath a special hand in it. Page 255
- 3 It is the disposition of the Saints to be grieved for their sins, as if all were from themselves and no∣thing from Satan ibid
- 4 The difference between Sa∣tans temptations and our corruptions Page 256
- What comfort can we have in this condition?
- 1 Nothing befals you but what may befal a child of God Page 257
- 2 Whilst thou art tempted Christ is praying for thee ibid
- 3 The enemy is overcome be∣fore he strikes ibid
- 4 He hath no more power than God gives him Page 258
- 5 Thou hast something can∣not be taken from thee ibid
- Object. 2
- What shall I do that I may not not yeeld to temptation? Page [unnumbered]
- Answered Page 258
- What shall I do that I may a∣void temptation?
- 1 Do not stand playing upon the borders of any sin Page 260
- 2 Get your hearts mortified to the objects of love and fear ibid
- 3 Take your temptation and dip it in the blood of Christ Page 261
- SERMON IIII Luke 22.31, 32.
- The great design of Satan is up∣on the faith of the Saints Page 263
- 1 What it is to fail in faith Page 264
- 2 What evil is in failing in faith Page 266
- He loseth
- 1 An opportunity of glorify∣ing God ibid
- 2 His joy and peace ibid
- 3 His present prize Page 267
- 4 The sweetness of his mer∣cy ibid
- 3 That Satans great design in Temptation is upon our faith Page 268
- Why it is so Page 269
- 4 How Satan weakens our faith Page 270
- 1 Our faith of Reliance ibid
- 1 By hiding our former experi∣ences ibid
- How to bear off that blow
- 1 Take heed you never rest upon a promise barely be∣cause of experience Page 271
- 2 Take heed ye never mourn so for sin as to be unthank∣full for mercies Page 272
- 2 By severing our souls from the promise
- How shall we bear of that blow?
- 1 God commands me to beleeve therefore the promise belongs unto me Page 273
- 2 If the Lord gives out a threatning that it may not be fulfilled, then he gives out a promise that it may be fulfilled ibid
- 3 If I am more godly then I was when Satan told me that the promise did belong to me, then is the temptation causeless ibid
- 4 God hath commanded me to beleeve Page 274
- 2 How Satan weakens our
Page [unnumbered]faith of Assurance
- 1 By telling us we have no faith ibid
- 2 By telling us we have no obedience Page 275
- How to ward off this blow? Page 279
- That we have no faith
- How to ward off this blow?
- 1 The Lord doth give out particular promises for men to measure their condition by Page 276
- 2 God doth not alwaies give out a particular promise. ibid
- 3 Particular promises have a particular faith Page 278
- 3 How Satan weakens our faith of Acknowledgement
- By keeping us from owning Christ Page 278
- How to bear off this blow?
- 1 Possess your souls with the priviledge of suffering for Christ Page 279
- 2 Be sure you look on both sides of your sufferings. Page 279
- What general Rules may be gi∣ven to stay our faith that it fail not in temptation?
- 1 Study the Scripture much Page 280
- 2 Do not measure your selves by the Enlargement or, Deadness of your owne hearts ibid
- 3 Look much unto the infir∣mities of Jesus Christ. Page 281
- 4 Do not conclude it is no temptation ibid
- 5 Remember thy own soul of the waies of God with thee ibid
- 6 Apply the Attributes of Christ sutable to the temp∣tation Page 282
- 7 Take the Shield of faith. ibid
- SERMON V. Luke, 22.21, 22.
- Gods love and mercy is never more at work for his people, than when they are most temp∣ted by Satan Page 286
- First. Wherein the care of Christ is expressed to his people in temptation.
- 1 In ordering their temp∣tations ibid
- 2 He weakens them. Page 287 Page [unnumbered]
- 3 He causeth them to be laid downe so as that they may be discerned. ibid
- 4 He orders the time. Page 288
- 5 He sanctifies them. ibid
- How is Christs love drawn out to his people under temptation
- 1 In teaching them in and by their temptations Page 289
- 2 He upholds them with new supplies Page 290
- 3 He gives them a breathing time under temptations Page 291
- 4 He praies for them, then especially ibid
- 2 His care is most expressed when they are most tempted
- 3 What there is in Christ that inclines him to this Page 293
- 1 The quintescence of all love he hath to them Page 294
- 2 The great interest he hath in them ibid
- Abundance of comfort to all Christs Disciples Page 295
- I fear I am none of Christs Dis∣ciple?
- 1 All Christs Disciples deny themselves Page 296
- 2 They take up their Cross ibid
- 3 They follow Christ ibid
- 2 Christ doth not only pray for his present Disciples, but for all such as beleeve through their word Page 297
- My heart fails me in time of temptation
- 1 There is difference between failing of ones faith and failing of ones heart Page 298
- 2 Between failing in faith in our own opinion and in Christs opinion ibid
- 3 Between failings of faith, and failings that acompa∣ny faith ibid
- 4 Consider whether your faith failed like Peters Page 299
- Other objections answered Page 300
- 1 Thessalonians, 5.18.
- It is the will of God that we should be thankful to him for every thing Page 306
- Reas. 1.
- There is excellencies enough in God ibid Page [unnumbered]
- 2 No condition is so sad but there is some good mingled with it ibid
- 3 Christians must be like Je∣sus Christ Page 307
- Suppose a mans spiritual condi∣tion be overclouded?
- 1 Though God do not shine upon a Christian yet it may be light to him Page 311
- 2 Though Christ withdraw his comforting presence yet he doth not his supporting presence ibid
- 3 Though Christ withdraw yt he draws by his Spirit Page 312
- 4 What a man would not loose for all the world, is worthy of praise ibid
- Suppose God do not only with∣draw but Satan draws neer
- Be thankful, Because
- 1 Christ hath overcome him Page 312
- 2 He can do no more than God gives him leave to do Page 313
- 3 Nothing befals you but what befalls the best of the Saints ibid
- 4 Christ succours you in your temptations ibid
- What particular things we should be thankful for
- 1 We are redeemed of the Lord. Page 317
- 2 That we have so many dayes of Thanksgiving ibid
- Encouragments to thankefulness
- 1 If you can be thankefull when you are low, you en∣gage God to raise you up Page 320
- 2 Hereby your afflictions will bee made blessings. ibid
- 3 The more thankefull you are, the more your soules will be filled with peace. Page 321
- 4 Thereby ye shall shame the Devil
- How this must be done
- 1 Observe your owne tempers and put your selves upon that duty your own dispo¦sition lies next to. Page 314
- 2 Maintain your assurance fresh and green ibid
- 3 Let your eye be as well upon what you have as upon what you want Page 315
- 4 Be sure maintain a sence of your own unworthiness ibid
SCRIPTURES Opened, And occasionally Cleared in the First VOLVMNE.
|1||8, 9, 10||53|
|20||1, 2, 3||288|
SCRIPTURES Opened, And occasionally Cleared in the Second VOLVMNE.
|12||10, 11, 12.||246|
|9||10, 11, 12, 13.||226|
|14||16, 17, 18.||219|
The great GOSPEL-Mystery Of the SAINTS comfort and holinesse.
HEBREWES. 2.17, 18.
THE Apostle Paul, (whom I take to be the Pen-man of this Epistle) having in the former part of this Chapter, shewed the Reasons, why it behoved Christ for to suffer death: He comes now, in the lat∣ter end thereof, to give you an account, by laying down some Reasons, Why it Page 2behoved Christ, to be in all things made like unto us, whom the Apostle here cals the Brethren of Jesus Christ.
In other Scriptures we find, that our Lord and Saviour Christ, is called our Father, The everlasting Father, the Prince of peace. Here he is called our Brother, we his Brethren. Now the same Person, to be both a Father, and a Brother unto the same man, in nature it cannot be.
But because all these Relations, are to scant, and narrow Vessels to hold forth the love of Jesus Christ towards us: Therefore Inconsistent Relations are given unto him. A Father Provides for his child, which the brother doth not. A Brother can stoop, and condesend unto his brother, which the superiority of the Father will not bear. So that here is held forth unto us, the stooping, Condesending love of Jesus Christ: and therfore he is called our Brother, and we his Brethren.
But why, [Quest.] and what Reason is there, That the Lord Jesus Christ should in all things be made like unto us his Bre∣thren?
The Apostle in these words gives the Reason, [Answ.] That he might be a merciful, and a faithful high Priest, in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people, &c. The Lord God our Father, swear unto Jesus Christ, Thou art a Priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedek. He was to be the great high Priest. Among the Jews, in the times of the old Testament, they had an high Priest, that was in all things to stand between God and them, and in case any sinned, to make an atonement for them. As the Jewes had their High Priest: So the Lord Jesus Christ, he was to be, and he is, The Apostle, and the High Priest of our Christian professi∣on, as Aaron was of the Jewes profession. And therefore saies the Apostle, It behoved him, in all things to be made like unto us.
But could not Jesus Christ be merciful unto poor tempted souls, [Quest.] unless he were in all things made like to them: like in their Natures, like in their Affections, like in matter of Temptations.Page 3
Christ as God, could have been merciful unto us, [Ans.] although he had not been made like unto us: but not as our High Priest.
There is an ability of Sufficiency, and of Power: and so Christ as God, was able to succour those that are temp∣ted, although himself had never been tempted. But there is an ability of Idoneity, or Fitness, or Aptness and Dis∣position: and so the Apostle saies here, For in that Himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
It's plain then, what that is, that is the great support of a Christian against all Temptations: wherein lies our suc∣cour against all Temptation, namely, in the Priestly-Office of Jesus Christ.
The Priestly-Office of Christ, Is it the great Magazine, and Stonehouse, of all that Grace, and Comfort which we have on this side Heaven: It is that, whereby we are reconciled to God the Fa∣ther, and relieved against all temptation. This is the great thing that these words hold forth.
And therefore, upon this account, the Apostle Paul, finding the Hebrewes labouring under great Temptations, Doubtings, Fears, and much Unbeleef; he does not only here, but all along in this book of the Hebrews, open the Priestly Office of Christ unto them.
And indeed, what comfort can we have in God Himself, but through Christ? and what comfort can we have in Christ Himself, but as he is cloathed with his Prestly-Gar∣ment, with his Office of the High Priest? Whatsoever com∣fort we have in the other Offices of Christ, namely his King∣ly, and his Prophetical Office, it is all Originated, and Prin∣cipiated in this: The Priestly Office of Jesus Christ, it does give a Life, and Being, and Efficacy to both the other Offi∣ces. And therefore, the High Priest, in the times of the old Testament, (who was a Type of Christ) he wore a Crown, upon his head, and the breast-plate of Ʋrim, and Thummim upon his breast: showing, that both the other Offices, the Kingly, and the Prophetical Office, were planted upon the Priestly Office of Jesus Christ.Page 4
Yea, If you look into the, First, Second, and Third Chapters of the Revelation, you will find, that whatsoever streames of comfort did run down upon the Churches through the other Titles, and Attributes of God, they are all fountain'd here. In the Second Chapter, and the first verse. The Lord Christ hath this Title, That he holdeth the seven stars in his right hand! These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand. In the Eight verse writing unto the Church of Smyrna, he takes up another Title, or Attribute: These things saith the first and the last, which was dead and is alive. At the Twelf verse, writing un∣to the Church of Pergamus, he takes up another Title: These things saith he, who hath the sharp sword with two edges. Now look into the first Chapter, and you shall see, that those several Titles, wherewith he cloaths Himself when he speaks unto the Churches severally, are all summed up to∣gether at the 16. verse. And he had in his right hand seven stars; There's his Title unto the Church of Ephesus: And out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: There's his Ti∣tle unto the Church of Pergamus. And at the 18. verse. I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold I am alive for ever more; There's another Title, that he useth when he speak∣eth unto the Church of Smyrna. But in the 13. vers. is o∣pened the fountain of all these streams: In the midst of the seven candlesticks, I saw me like unto the Son of man, cloathed with a garment down to the foot; and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. This was then the robe and attyre of the High Priest: Whose garment came down unto his feet, and he was girt about with a golden girdle. So that all these other Attributes, and Titles of Christ, they have their rise here, here is the spring-head of all those consolations, even the Priestly Office of Jesus Christ.
Usually, Those Excellencies, and Attributes of Christ are most beneficial unto the Saints, that are most opposed by the world. What Title, Attribute; or Excellency of Christ is there, that is more invaded by the world, than the Page 5Priestly office of Jesus Christ? What is the whole body of Anti-christianisme, but an invasion upon this Priestly Of∣fice of Christ? What is the Popish Masse, (that unbloody sa∣crifice,) but a derogation from the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ once upon the Crosse, and so a derogation from his Priest∣ly Office? What are all those Popish Penances, and satis∣factions injoyn'd, but a derogation unto the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, and so unto the Priestly Office of Christ? What is all their praying to Saints, and Angels, but a de∣rogation unto the Intercession of Jesus Christ, and so unto the Priestly Office of Christ? What does the Pope call himself? He cals himself, the High Priest,* the very Title that our Lord, and Saviour takes unto himself. So that the whole body of Anti-christianisme, is a great invasion upon the Priestly Office of Jesus Christ. Now that which is usually opposed most by the men of the world, that Excellency, and that Attribute of Christ, is of all other the most com∣fortable, and beneficial unto Gods people. The truth is, This Priestly Office of Jesus Christ, is an Office of meer love, and tender compassion; erected, and set up on purpose, for the reliefe of poor distressed sinners; and there is no mix∣ture of terrour with it: there is a mixture of terrour with the other Offices of Christ. The Lord Christ, he is King, and he hath a Kingly Office, and by his Kingly. Office he rules over the Churches, and rules over all the world: But all do not obtain mercy that he rules over. As for those mine Enemies, that will not submit, will not have mee to Reign over them, bring them, and slay them before mee. The Prophetical office of Jesus-Christ, it extendeth unto many that shall never be saved: Light shines in darkness, and darknesse comprehendeth it not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But now, where o∣ver the Priestly Office of Jesus Christ is let forth upon an soul, that soul shall certainly be saved for ever.
What was the great relief amongst the Jewes against their sins? The Jewes, you shall observe they had many reliefs: when they were in the wilderness, and were stung with the Page 6fiery serpents, then they had a brasen-serpent for to look up∣on, as a reliefe against that distresse. When they wanted water, they had the water out of the Rock, as a reliefe a∣gainst that distresse. When they wanted Bread, they had Manna from Heaven, as a reliefe against that distress. But when they sinned, whither did they go? Then they took a sacrifice, and went unto the Priest, and he was to offer for them. So that the Priestly Office then, was the only relief they had against sin.
And so now, the Priestly Office of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is that great succour, and relief which Christians have a∣gainst all Temptations under Heaven.
You will say unto me, [Quest.] But generall things affect not: let us see it in some Particulars, wherein this Priestly Office of Christ, is the great Magazin, and Storehouse of all our grace and comfort.
For Answer, [Ans.] hereunto, I will begin this exercise with one Particular of the Priestly Office of Christ, in shewing what a relief, and succour it is unto a Christian against all Temptations, and what a bottome of comfort, and special means of Grace and Holiness.
The text saies, That the work of the High Priest is, To make reconciliation for the sins of the people. In the times of the old Testament, the High Priest made an Atonement for the people: in case any man had finned, he brought a sacrifice, and his sins were laid upon the head of the sacri∣fice. Once every yeer, the High Priest did enter into the holy of holiest, and with the blood of the Sacrifice, did sprinkle the Mercy-Seat, and laid the sins of the people upon the head of the scape-goat and so made an atonement for the people. All which will cleerly appear, in that, 16. of Liviticus, at the 14. verse. He shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the Mer∣cy-Seat east-ward: and before the Mercy-Seat shall be sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times. And at the 21. verse. And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confesse over him all the iniquities of the chil∣dren Page 7of Israel, and all their transgressions, in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness, and so he shall make an atonement, as in that Chapter. This was the work of the High Priest, in case any had finned, to make an atonement, and satisfaction (by way of Type) for the sins of the peo∣ple.
Now for the better proof of this great Gospel-Truth that I have propounded, I shall insist on these Five things.
First, That when the Lord Jesus Christ died upon the Crosse, he did offer up Himself a sacrifice unto God the Father.
Secondly, That when this sacrifice was upon the Altar, then the sins of all beleevers, past, present, and to come, were all laid up∣on Jesus Christ.
Thirdly, That when these sins were thus laid upon Christ, he did thereby give full satisfaction unto God the Father, unto Divine Justice.
Fourthly, That all this he did as our great High-Priest, and in a more Transcendent, and Eminent manner, then ever any High Priest did before him.
Fifthly, How all this doth conduce to our Comfort, and to our Holiness.
First, When our Lord Jesus Christ died upon the Cross, He did offer up himself a sacrifice unto God the Father. He did not (as the Socinians say) die only as an example for to teach us how to die; but he offered up himself a sacrifice unto God the Father then. Yea, as if all sacrifices were met in him; all those titles that are given unto other Sacrifices, they are given unto him. There were Three sorts of Sacrifices: some were living; others were not living, and those were either solid, as bread and the like; or else, they were liquid, as wine and oyle. There was a alwaies, Destructio rei oblatiae, A destroying of the thing offered. If it were a living thing that was sacrificed, then it was said to be slain: In answer to that, Jesus Christ is said to be a Lamb slain from the be∣ginning of the world. If it were a dead thing that was of∣fered up, as bread, or corn, a solid thing, then the sacri∣fice, Page 8or offering was said to be bruised. In answer to that, our Lord and Saviour Christ is said to be bruised for our iniquities. If it were a liquid thing that was offered up to God, as wine, or oyle, then it was said to be powred out. In answer to this, it is said of our Lord and Saviour, That his soul was powred out unto death. Thus all Sacrifices meeting in him. Behold the Lamb of God (saies John the Baptist when he saw Christ.) He does not say, Behold the Bull of God, or the Goat of God; and yet Buls, and Goats were sacrificed. Why does he rather say, behold the Lamb of God, than the Bullock, or the Goat? For when the High Priest went into the Holy of Holiest, and sprinkled the Mercy-Seat, he did not sprinkle the Mercy-Seat with the blood of the Lamb, but with the blood of a Goat; and yet notwithstanding, it is not said, Behold the Goat of God, but, Behold the Lamb of God: Why so? Not on∣ly because that Christ was of a lamb-like, and meek dispo∣sition (as some would have it:) Nor only because, that the great Type of Christ, was the Pascal-Lamb, (though these be reasons.) But there was a dayly sacrifice in the Temple; whether men brought any offering or no, there was a stan∣ding sacrifice in the Temple, morning, and evening, and that sacrifice was a Lamb. Now therefore, to shew, that Jesus Christ is the dayly sacrifice, therefore he cries out, and saies, Behold the Lamb of God, and not the Goat of God; for the Goat was not sacrificed every day as the Lamb was.
For proof of this, take the Apostles Exhortation, Ephe. 5.2. Walk in love, as Christ hath loved us, and hath given him∣self for us, an offering, and a sacrifice to God. Here are Three things considerable. First, He does not say, Who hath redee∣med us: but, to show his great love unto us, Who hath given himself for us: He doth not say, Who hath given him∣self for our sins: Yet he saies so, in Gal. 1.4. Who gave him∣self for our sins; But, Who gave himself for us. Why? To shew, who they were that he gave himself for: He gave himself for us, as sinners. Again, He saies here, He gave Page 9himself for us, an offering, and a sacrifice, not only an offe∣ring, but a sacrifice too. So that this first Proposition is cleer∣ly proved, That our Lord Jesus, when he died upon the Crosse, he did offer up himself as a sacrifice unto God the Father.
Secondly, [unspec 2] As he did offer up himself a sacrifice unto God the Father: So when he was upon this Altar, this sacrifice; the sins of all beleevers were then laid upon Jesus Christ: those that do now beleeve, or shall hereafter beleeve, they were all then laid upon Jesus Christ. Look into the 53. of Isaiah ver. 6. All we like sheep have gone astray, and have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all. That which God laies on shall never be taken off, no man shall take it off: The Lord hath laid on him the i∣niquities of us all.
Yea, Our iniquities are not only said to be laid on him, but (to use the same word that is used for the sacrifice) it is said, he bare our sins upon the Crosse; as the Goat bare the sins of the people: So saies the Apostle, He himself bare our sins upon the Cross.
Moreover, He did not only bare our sins upon the Cross: but (saies the Apostle) he was made sin for us. 'Tis not said, He was made a sinner, or accounted a sinner only for us, but he was made sin for us. All our iniquities were laid on him; he bare our sins; and he was made sin for us upon the Crosse. Thus briefly the Second Proposition is cleared, That when he did thus offer up himself upon the Crosse as a sacrifice, the sins of all beleevers were then laid on him.
Thirdly, When the sins of beleevers were laid on him, [unspec 3] then he did make full satisfaction unto God the Father, and Divine Ju∣stice for all our sins. This is a bottom of much comfort. For if the Lord Jesus Christ our surety had not satisfied to the utmost farthing, our great Creditor, God the Father, for all our debts, God the Father might come upon us the Debters. But our Surety, the Lord Christ, hath given full satisfaction unto God the Father, that no more de∣mands can be made upon us: And indeed else, how could our Surety ever have come out of prison: He was under ar∣rest, Page 10he was in the Jayle, in the grave: The Father, the great Creditor lets him out; and did not only let him out, but the Lord Jesus Christ, he goes inbto Heaven, and sits down there at the right hand of the Father; Surely, if the Creditor had not been satisfied, the Surety should never have bin released out of prison.
He was so fully satisfied, That he looked for iniquity, and he found none, (saies the text.) He look't over all his books, to see if he could find any thing upon the score, but he found none: all our debts were paid. Behold the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world. He does not say, That takes away the sin of the Jewes only; but takes away the sin of the whole world. He does not say, That takes away the sins, (in the plural Number) but takes away the sin) (in the singular Number:) Sins go so together, as if they were but one: but let the sin be never so twisted toge∣ther, as if it were but one sin, this lamb of God, he takes away the sin of the world. And he does not say, That hath pardoned the sin of the World: for then a poor soul might say, I but, though he hath pardon'd my sin, yet my sin is not mortified. Neither does he say, Behold the lamb of God that Mortifies, or Destroyes the sin of the world: But he gives you a word, that takes in, both pardon, and Mortification too. Behold the lamb of God that takes them away: both in regard of Pardon, and in regard of Mortification: Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
There is nothing that does so satisfie God the Father, as Obedience, and the more full the Obedience is, the more God the Father is satisfied thereby: Now it is said of our Lord and saviour Christ, That in this great sacrifice upon the Crosse, he was Obedient. He was Obedient even to the death of the Cross. That he that did make the Law, should come down from Heaven, and be subject to the Law, what Obedience was here! Obedient to the Death. Yea, unto the Deaths (in the plural Number) And he made his grave with the sinners: and his Deaths was with the rich. He made Page 11his grave with the wicked, and with the rich had his Deaths, I∣saiah, 5• ver. 9. It is in the Plural Number in the Hebrew, though in your English translation it is in the Singular. As if the holy Ghost had called death, the Second death that our Lord Christ had in some measure suffered. For, if you consider things truly, and rightly, I beleeve you will find, that our Lord and Saviour Christ when he died, and was in his agony, he did not only indure the first, but the torments of the second death. He overcame no more than he submitted to: he overcame death by submitting to death. Now he overcame the second death also, and there∣fore in some measure submitted to the torments of it, so far as he was capable. Look what the first Adam should have indured for his sin in the fall, that the second Adam now did indure in some measure for to take it off: The day that thou eatest thou shalt die the death. It was not barely the cor∣poral, and outward death, but it was the second death. If our Lord and Saviour Christ did not indure the torments of the second death, the wrath of God upon his soul; why did he sweat drops of blood, and tremble, and shake so, when he came to die? There is many Saints, and Martyrs, when they come to die, they go skipping, and leaping, and rejoycing: and our Lord and Saviour, when he came to die, he sweats drops of blood; surely there was more than an outward death: Oh! the wrath of God, and the tor∣ments of the second death was upon his soul. Thus obedi∣ent he was, and this obedience of his, it was volontary, for he needed not to have died; but he saw that God the father was dishonoured by mans sin, and that poor man would be lost, and rather than that should be, he does volontarily offer himself unto this Obedience. Loe, I come (saies he) in the volum of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, and thy Law is within my heart, Psal. 40.7, 8. Mark what an expression there is in that Psalm, 'tis spoken concering Christ, as is plainly interpreted by the Apostle in the 10. of the Hebrews, at the 6. verse. Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire, mine eares hast thou opened (or bored.) The Apostle Page 12when he translates these words, he translates them thus: My body hast thou prepared. But reade them as they are here in the Psalm: Sacrifice and offring thou didst not desire, mine eare hath thou bored. That as when a servant was willing to stay with his Master, and to do him yet more service, the ser∣vants eare was to be bored: So saies the Lord Christ, I am as willing to do this work, to be thus obedient, as a servant whose eare is bored, is willing to stay with his master: And mine eare hast thou bored, (saies he) ah, here's obedience, here's obedience: this now did infinitly satisfie God the Father; In so much, that ye may see what is said, in that same 5. of the Ephesians, and the 2. verse. Who hath loved us, and given himself for us, an offering, and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour. The whol world it was ful of a stench before, and the Lord was displeased with man before: but now when Christ comes, and offers up this sacrifice, he did thereby give full satisfction unto God the father, for it was a sweet swelling-savour unto God the Father. So that thus the Father he was fully satisfied.
To this I shall ad one word; When the Lord Jesus Christ offered up himself a sacrifice unto God the Father, and had our sins laid upon him, he did given more perfect satisfaction unto Di∣vine justice for our sins; than if you, and I, and all of us had been damned in Hell unto all eternity. For a Creditor is more satisfied, if his debt be paid him all down at once, than if it be paid by the week: A poor man that cannot pay all down, will pay a groat a week, or sixpence a week; but 'tis more satisfaction to the Creditor to have all paid at once. Should we have been all damned, we should have been but paying the debt a little, and a little, and a little: but when Christ paid it, he paid it all down to God the Father. Had we gone to Hell, and been damned for ever, we had alwaies been satisfying of God, I but God had ne∣ver been satisfied: but now when Christ makes satisfacti∣on, God was satisfied. The Creditor, if he be a merciful and a good man, is more truly satisfied where the Debter is spared; he does not desire that the Debter should be cast Page 13into prison, and there lie and rot; but he is better satisfied with the sparing of the Debter; let me have but my Money, and so the Debter be spared I am willing, nay I desire it saies the good Creditor. Now if all we had bin cast into everlasting burnings, indeed the debt should have been a paying, but there the Debter had been lost: But not when Christ comes, and makes satisfaction unto Divine justice, Ah! poor man is redeemed; here is the Debter spared. And therefore, the Lord he is infinitly more satisfied, by the satisfaction that Christ made upon the Cross for our sins, than if all we had gone to Hell, and been damned to all e∣ternity. Oh! what a glorious, and blessed satisfaction did this our High-Priest make unto God the Father!
But you will say then, [Quest.] If the Lord Christ made this full satisfaction unto God the Father; how is it that Beleevers, many of them have their sins, and debts standing upon the score still, in their Consciences, so perplexed in regard of sin, as if there were no satisfaction at all made?
Luther cals this aspect of sin, A sacralegious aspect, [Answ.] and beholding of sin. As now, (saies he) If a man take out of an holy place some goods, and bring them into his owne house; This is sacraledge. So, for me to go and take my sins From Christ, and lay them in mine own bosome, this is sacraledge, saies Luther.
But the reason of it is this, Because that men do not study this Truth, but was ignorant of it. As, suppose that a man do owe, three or four hundred pound to a shop∣keeper, for wares, and commodities that he hath taken up there: a friend comes, and he payes the debt, crosses the book: but the Debter, when he comes and looks upon the book, he is able to reade all the particulars; Item; for such a thing, and Item for such a thing, and Item, for such a thing; but the man being not aquainted with the nature of crossing the book, he is able to reade all th particulars, and he charges it still upon himselfe, because he does not understand the nature of this crossing the book, and he is as much troubled how he shall pay the debt, as if it were Page 14not paid at all. So now 'tis here, The Lord Jesus Christ, he hath come and cross't our book with his own blood: the sins are to be read in your own consciences, but we being not acquainted with the nature of Christs satisfaction, and the crossing of the book, we charge our selves, as if no sin at all were satisfied for us: Yet when the Lord Jesus Christ was made an offering for sin upon the Cross, then he did give full satisfaction unto God the Father. And that's the Third.
Fourthly, [unspec 4] This now he hath done as our great High-Priest, and in a more transcendant, and eminent way, than ever any high-Priest did before. For, though the High-Priest did come, and make an atonement for a poor sinner, yet he himself was never made a sacrifice; the Priest offered up a sacri∣fice, but himself never was made a sacrifice. But our great High-Priest, does not only offer up a sacrifice, but Himself is made a sacrifice. Yea, that sacrifice, that was then in the times of the old-Testament, it could not purge the con∣science; not only, because (as the Apostle speaks) it was the blood of bulls, and goats: but because the sacrifice was performed successively; as thus, A man sinned, then he brought a sacrifice; sins again, and then he brings another sicrifice: and once every yeare, the High-Priest goes into the holy of holiest to make an atonement: But in the mean while, a poor soul might think thus, What if I die before the year come about, what will become of me? the High-Priest, he goes once a year into the Holy of Holyest, and sprinkles the mercy-seat, but what will become of me if I die before that time? But now, our great High-Priest, he does not only offer up a sacrifice, and Himself the sacrifice; but he offers up a sacrifice once for all. (So saies the Apostle) So that now, when a Christian hath sinned, he is not to think of a sacrifice that is yet to come, a year hence, but he is to look unto that which is done already, a sacrifice once offered, and once for all; So that he needs not be in suspence now, as the Jewes were, his Conscience, it may be fully purged from sin.Page 15
Again, Take the High-Priest in the times of the old-Te∣stament, and though he did make an atonement for the sins of the people;yet sometimes also he did make the people to sin. It is said of Aaron, the great High-Priest, concer∣ning the golden-Calf, that he did make the people naked: But the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, he makes an attonement for sin, and never does make them sin: He is so far from making the people naked, that he covers them with his righteousness that their nakedness may not appear. Here's a glorious High-Priest!
Yea, This High-Priest of ours, He does not only make an atonement for sin committed, and paies the debt; but he does also become our Surety unto God the Father: He does not only pay the debt that is past, but he becomes a Surety for time to come. None of all those High-Priests, that ever did so; not Aaron, not any High-Priest that ever gave his bond unto God the Father, that any sinner should never sin no more. But our Lord Jesus Christ, our High-Priest, he becomes our Surety: and what Surety? not an ordinary surety; for amongst us, the Surety joyns, and does become bound with the Debter, but still it runs in the name of the Debter, and the Debter he gives the bond for to pay the debt. But now here, our Surety, he gives the bond, and we that are the Debters, we do not give the bond for to pay the debt: there is no godly man, or beleever, that ever gave a bond unto God the Father, that he will pay the debt: but our Surety comes, and the bond goes in the name of the Surety, and the Debters name is out. Oh! what a glorious, and blessed High-Priest is here! here is a High-Priest, beyond all the High-Priests that ever did go before! And that's the Fourth thing
Fifthly, How does all this conduce to our Comfort or Ho∣liness.[unspec 5]
First, How does all this make to our Comfort? [Quest.]
first, [Answ. 1] Is it not a comfortable thing in the eares of a poor sinner, that there is a Magazine, and a Storehouse of Mer∣cy set up? that the Lord hath erected an office of Love, Page 16and of meer compassion for poor sinners? Is it not a com∣fortable thing, that God the father is satisfied, and so your sins pardoned?*Son (saies Christ unto the palsie man) be of good comfort, thy sins are forgiven thee. He does not say, Be of good comfort, thy disease is healed: No, whether thy dis∣ease be healed, or whether it be not healed, this is comfort, Son, thy sins are forgiven thee.
If the Lord Jesus Christ, hath satisfied for my sins (may a beleever say) then whatsoever affliction I do meet withal, it does not come upon me as a punishment (properly) it does not come upon me as an arrest for to pay my debt. When a Reprobate is smitten, and afflicted, all his miseries, they are arrests for to pay his debt. Hath the Lord Jesus Christ satisfied Divine Justice, and God the father for me? then surely these afflictions they do not come for me to make satisfaction.
Again, If the Lord Jesus Christ hath satisfied for my sins (may a beleever say) then I shall never be Damned, I shall never fall from grace. I have had many fears, that I should fall from grace, and so go to Hell, and perish at last: But if the Lord Jesus Christ hath satisfied Divine Justice for my sin, then God the father will never punish my sin a∣gain, for it was punish't in Jesus Christ, therefore I can∣not fall from grace, therefore I can never be Damned.
And if the Lord Jesus Christ hath satisfied Divine Justice as our great High Priest: Then I may come with boldness unto the Throne of grace. A debtor, so long as his debt is unpaid, he dares not come by the prison door, by the Compter door; he is afraid of every Sergeant, he is afraid of his friends, that they should be Sergeants: but when his debt is paid, then he dares go up and down with boldness. And so the poor soul, when he knows that his debt is paid, and Christ hath satisfied, then he may go with boldness un∣to the Throne of grace.
But you will say, [Quest.] I cannot have the comfort of this, be∣cause I cannot say that Christ hath satisfied for me: How shall I know, that Jesus Christ is my High-Priest, so as to Page 17have satisfied for me? Ah, if I did but know, that the Lord jesus Christ were my High-Priest in this particular, so as to have satisfied for me, then should I have comfort indeed: how shall I discover that? I am afraid he hath not satisfi∣ed for me?
And why not for thee? (man or woman) why not for thee? [Ans. 1] I shall tell you what I have heard concerning a young man, that lay upon his death bed, and went to Heaven: While he was lying upon his death bed, he comforted him∣self in this, That the Lord Christ died for sinners: Oh! blessed be the Lord (saies he) Jesus Christ hath died for me. Sa∣tan came in with this temptation to him; I but, young man, why for thee? Christ died for sinners, but why for thee? how canst thou make that appear, that Christ died for thee? Nay Satan (saies he) and why not for me? Ah, the Lord Jesus, he died for sinners, and therefore, Satan, why not for me? So he held his comfort, and went up to Heaven triumphing.
So say I to thee, poor drooping soul, that labours un∣der Temptation; Why not for thee? why not for thee? and say so unto Satan, Why not for me?
Again, Christs satisfaction it lies open for all sorts of sinners to come unto it. As the promise, [Ans. 2] it runs indefinite∣ly; and if a man come to the promise, and apply it; his very applying the promise does make it His. You say, Oh! that I did but know that the promise belongs to me: I say, thy very resting upon the promise, makes it to be∣long to thee. So, the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, this piece of Christs Priestly Office, it lies open for all sorts of sinners for to come unto it: and your very resting upon it, and applying it to your own souls, it makes it to belong unto you.
Furthermore, If Jesus Christ be willing that you should think that he hath satisfied for you, [Ans. 3] then it is no presump∣tion for you to think so. Now saies he at the Lords Sup∣per, Take my blood that is shed for thee, I apply it to thee. Behold thy King cometh unto thee. When he rode upon an Page 18Asses colt, it was not said, Behold thy Lord cometh, but behold thy King cometh to thee: he would have every one so to think.
More especially, [Ans. 4] If that a poor Christian now, might not to unto Jesus Christ as unto his High-Priest, and say, that he is an High-Priest to me: then are we Christians, in a great deal worser condition than the Jews were; for when a Jew had sinned, he might carry his sacrifice to the Priest, and he might say, That this Priest here belongs to me. And there was never a Jew, amongst all the people of the Jewes, but when the High-Priest sprinkled the Mercy-Seat, but he might say, This he hath done for me. Now, we are not in a worse condition, than the Jews were: this High-Priest, is beyond all the High-Priests that ever was before him: and therefore there is never a poor Chri∣stian, but he may go to the Lord Christ and say, Oh! my High-Priest, and this my High-Priest hath satisfied for me. Oh! what comfort is here to poor drooping souls! Lift up your heads, O all ye Saints, and Children of God; me thinks here is that indeed, that might bring you off your own sands. When there is no water in the river but his own, the tyde comes not in, no sea-water, only the water of the river, the native water, (as I may so speak) then your bottoms, your ships they stand upon the sands; but when the tyde comes in, then they are raised, and come off the sands then: And so long as thou hast nothing in thy own channel, but thine own righteousness, thou stickest upon the sands in the deep mire; But now, when the tyde of the Lords satisfaction comes in, there is a full-sea of mercy, and satisfaction (able to swim the heaviest vessel) made by Jesus Christ. Ah, me thinks this should lift up a poor soul and fetch him off from his sands: Be of good Comfort them. Thus it's evident how this truth does much conduce to our Comfort. But you will say, [Quest.] Does it not much conduce to our Grace, or Holiness too? Or if it do, I pray how?
Yes, [Answ. 1] This truth does conduce much to our Holiness too. Page 19You shall observe, that the new Covenant of grace, it is laid, and founded, upo the satisfaction of jesus Christ upopn the Crosse, upon that oblation. Three times, the Apostle Paul makes mention of the new Covenant of grace in the book of the Hebrews, the 8, 9, and 10. Chapters: and in all these places he laies the Covenant of grace, and founds it upon the satisfaction of Jesus Christ. But especi∣ally, in the 9. Chapter, the 13, 14, and 15. verses. The 14. How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eter∣nal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God. Then at the 15. And for this cause, he is the Mediator of the new Testament. For this cause: plainly laying the new Covenant of grace, upon the satisfaction of Jesus Christ, upon this part of his Priest∣ly Office. So then, thou maiest now go unto God the Fa∣ther and say, Lord, thou hast made a Covenant of grace with poor man, and this Covenant of grace is founded up∣on the Priestly Office, and satisfaction of Jesus Christ; and the Lord Jesus Christ he hath satisfied for me; and the new Covenant promises; that we shall be all taught of God: Lord, I amignorant, Oh! therefore now, by the satisfacti∣on of Christ let me be taught of thee, that I may be made wise unto salvation. And so again, Lord, thou hast made a Covenant of grace with poor man; this is laid upon the satisfaction of Jesus Christ: The Covenant of grace saies, I will write my Law in your inward parts: Now, O Lord, seeing Jesus Christ hath founded this Covenant in his blood, and I am one of those that he hath made satisfacti∣on for; Oh! write thy Law in my inward parts that I may do all thy wills.
But again, [Answ. 2] (in the Second place) that we may see how this do conduce to our Holiness: Strengthen faith, and we strengthen all: if faith be weakened, all grace is weakened: Strengthen your faith, and you strengthen all your Holi∣ness, and all your Graces. The way to strengthen a bough, or a branch of the tree, is not to carry dung up into the tree, but to lay it to the root: Strengthen the root, Page 20and ye strengthen all the branches. Faith is the Root-grace: now the knowledge, and the thorow degesting of this truth, That the Lord Jesus Christ is our great High-Priest, in this point of satisfaction, it does wonderfull strengthen our faith. For, the more I know that God is willing, and and Christ willing to shew mercy unto me, the more my faith is strengthened: I know this, That every man is wil∣ling to do the work of his office, if he be faithful: A Por∣ter is willing to carry a burden; why? because it is his of∣fice to do it. It is the office of Jesus Christ, for to bear our sins: It is his Office to be the great High-Priest, that does sa∣tisfie God the Father for our sins: Surely therefore, he is willing to do it, for he is faithful in his office. But besides, [Answ. 3] The more I see an holy Necessity upon Christ Je∣sus, for to show mercy to me, the more my faith rises. (It's very remarkable) The Lord Jesus Christ, as God, he may refuse, and might refuse, whether he would show mercy to us or no: But now, as a High-Priest, he cannot refuse a poor sinner that does come unto him. If I know that Christ is able to satisfie, is able to show mercy to me, my faith stirs a little, at the sight of Christs ability; If I know that Christ be willing to show mercy to me, my faith rises higher: but if I know, that Christ cannot refuse me, if I do come unto him, then my faith rises up to a great height indeed. When a poor sinner amongst the Jews, had sinned, and brought his sacrifice to the High-Priest, the Priest might not refuse it: Our Lord Jesus Christ is our great High-Priest; I say, as God he may refuse, but now, he being our great High-Priest, therefore when a poor sinner comes to Jesus Christ, as a High-Priest he cannot refuse: Oh! what a great streng∣thening is this to faith! Strengthen faith, and you streng∣then all: the right understanding of this truth, doth wonderfully strengthen faith.
Further, [Answ. 4] The more a man is ingaged to Jesus Christ, and takes himself to be ingaged to him, the more Holy he is: the more a man sees himself freed from sin by Christ, the more he takes him∣self to be ingaged to Christ, for freeing of him from his sin. Now Page 21this truth tels us how Christ hath satisfied for our sins, freed us from sin; and so we shall be the more ingaged to Christ. If a man were going to prison, even at the Comp∣ter door, for a great sum of money; and the door were un∣locking: if a man should come and speak to the Sergeant, Hold your hands, here is money for you, I will pay this mans debt, and laies the money down; would not this poor debtor take himself for ever ingaged to that man, that should thus come, and lay down the money, and free him so seasonably from the Compter, and prison? Thus it was with the Lord Christ; Ah, we were all going to pri∣son, everlasting prison, chains of darkness, and he comes; and laies down the money, makes full satisfaction to God the Father as our great High-Priest: Oh! what an ingage∣ment is this to every soul unto the Lord Christ, to become the Lord Christs for ever.
Lastly, The more a man does deny his own righteousness, [Answ. 5] the more Holy he is with Gospel-Holiness. It is said of the Jewes, That they going about to establish their own righteousness, submitted not unto the righteousness of Christ. So on the contrary; when a man does go about to establish the righteousness of Christ, then he submits unto it, and then he denies his own righteousness. The more we see a ful∣ness of satisfaction made by Jesus Christ, for all our sins, unto God the Father, the more we acknowledge Christs righteousness, and the more we establish it, and the more we shall be brought off from all our own righteousness.
Oh! Therefore now, as ever you do desire, to have more Grace, more Holiness, more Comfort; study, and study much this Priestly office of Jesus Christ. There are many that complain, that they cannot profit under the means of grace: That they have hard hearts: That the waies, and Ordinances of God are not sweet to them; Pra∣yer they do perform, but with no sweetness, they do not relish the blood and Spirit of Christ upon their spirits in their duties, &c. Many complain that their sins, and temptations (like the sons of Zarviah) are too mighty for Page 22them, and that one day they shall be slain by the hand of Saul, such a lust, such a corruption. No wonder that we have these complaints, when we do not go unto the store∣house of comfort, and grace that the Lord hath set open for us. The Priestly office of Christ, it is the great Maga∣zine, and Storehouse, of all that grace, and comfort which we have on this side heaven: if ye do not go unto it, is it any wonder that ye want comfort, or that ye want grace? I appeal to you now; are there not some nay, many that never went to Jesus Christ as their High-Priest to this day? Ah, are there not some even Professors, that do not know what the Priestly Office of Jesus Christ meanes? Oh! No wonder (poor soule) so uncomfortable, no more stength against thy temptations. If the State should appoint a man for to relieve poor, maimed souldiers, that go a beg∣ging: if they meet with the sawme man that is appointed by the State, and they beg of him in the streets as an ordina∣ry man, he relieves them not: but now, if they come un∣to him, as a man appointed by the State for relief of such, then he relieves them according to the duty of his place. So it is with men, they go to Christ in an ordinary way, they do not go to Christ as the great Lord Treasurer of all our grace, as our great High-Priest, they do not go unto him as in office, set up in office by God the Father for such re∣liefe: they do not addresse themselves to him as their High-Priest to make satisfaction for them, and therefore they go away and have no relief. But would we have more strength against corruption? would we walk more comfortably in our course? would we find the waies of God, Ordinances, and duties more sweet and comfortable to our souls? then reade, and consider that place in the Canticles, 2.3. As the apple-tree among the treesof the wood, so is my beloved among the sons: I sate down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet unto my tast. The spouse speaks it concerning Christ. What is this fruit of Christ? Your Justification, Adoption, Vocation, Sanctification, Consolation, it is al the fruit of Christ: All your own Du∣ties, Page 23your Prayers, Reading, Meditation, they are all the fruit of Christ: The injoyment of al his Ordinances, & al your spiritual priviledges under the Gospel, they are the fruit of Christ. Now saies she, I sate down under his shadow, and his fruit, it was sweet unto my tast. As it is unto a man that does love fruit; be it Pears, Apples, Cherries, or the like: I love this fruit (saies he) but yet notwithstanding, I must needs go where this fruit grows, and gather it off the tree; and when he hath gone to the tree, and taken the fruit off the tree, (saies he) I sate down under the tree. I had not the fruit, the Apple, or Cherry, brought unto my house, but I went unto the tree, and gathered it off the tree; and I sate down under the shadow of the tree, and Oh! how sweet was the fruit unto me! So saies the soul, so saies the Spouse of Jesus Christ: I sate down under the shadow of Jesus Christ, and then his fruit was sweet unto my tast. It may be we have had other shadows: we have sate down under the shadow of our Estate, our outward Estate hath been sweet unto our tast. We have sate down (it may be) under the shadow of friendship, and the fruit of friend∣ship hath been sweet unto our tast; But behold here a tree, the tree of life, whose shadow reaches to the end of the earth; Ah, Come, Come and sit down under the shadow of Jesus Christ. If there be ever a poor soul, that never yet knew what Comfort meant; Ah, Come, Come under the shadow of the Lord Jesus; The Priestly Office of Jesus Christ, it hath a very sweet shadow; Come therefore, you that say you cannot profit under the means, and you that complain of such, and such temptations, and such and such sins; and that you were never yet comforted, your consciences never pacified: Come now, and sit down un∣der the shadow of the Lord Jesus Christ. I tell thee, from the Lord, thus fruit of His, it shall be sweet unto thy tast: thou shalt go to Prayer, and Prayer shall be sweet unto thy soul, though heretofore thou couldst find no sweetness in it; so the Word and other Ordinances shall be sweeter un∣to thee than the hony or the hony combe.Page 24
Thus it's evident how comfortable the Priestly Office of Jesus Christs, and how much conducing unto our Com∣fort, and Holiness: Oh! therefore let us study, now study the Priestly Office of Jesus Christ, and come and sit down under his shadow, and the Lord make his fruit sweet unto all our souls. And thus I have opened, and applyed the first particular of Christs Priestly Office. The Second fol∣lows, &c.
HEBREWES 2.17, 18.
I Have begun to discover from these words, That the Friestly Office of Jesus Christ, is the great Magazine, and Storehouse, of all that grace, and comfort which we have in this world: that whereby we are succoured, and relieved against all Temptations. This hath been made good in the Generall; and in one Particular work of the High Priest.
If we now inquire further, what the work of the High-Priest was, and is, that accordingly we may address our selves unto Jesus Christ for succour. We shall find, that it is also, to Pray, and Intercede for the people. To make re∣conciliation for the sins of the people, (saies the text) To make A∣tonement for the sins of the people, (saies the old Testament.) Which Reconciliation, or Atonement, was made in the times of the old Testament, not only by offering of a sacrifice, but by taking the blood thereof, and presenting that with Pra∣ers, Page 26and intercessions, unto God, to accept of it for the sins of the people. As we shall find, in that same 16. of Livitieus: After the sacrifice was kild, the Priest was to take the blood of it, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the Mercy-Seat; as we reade in the 14. verse. And at the 12. and 13. He shall take a Censer full of burning coals of fire from off the Alter before the Lord, and his hands full of sweet in∣cense beaten small, and bring it within the vaile; And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the Mercy-Seat. He was to cause a cloud of incense to arise upon the Mercy-Seat. All which was a great Type of the Prayers, and Intercessions of Jesus Christ: who having once offered up himself a sacrifice for our sins, hath carried the blood, and the vertue of it into Heaven, there sprinkled the Mercy-Seat, and there still by his Inter∣cessions does appear for us; As it is proved at large, in the 9. Chapter of this Epistle to the Hebrews, 11. and 12 verses: But Christ being come an High-Priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect Tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building: Neither by the blood of goats and calves: but by his own blood be entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternall redemption for us. And at the 24. verse: For Christ is not entered into the Holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into Heaven it self, now to appear in the presence of God for us. And if you duely consider this book of the Hebrews, you will find, that this work of Christs Intercession, is The Essential work of his Priestly-Office: it seems rather to go beyond the for∣mer, than to fall short of it. Hebrews, the 8. Chapter and the 4. verse. For if he were on earth, he should not be a Priest. That is, look as it was in the times of the old Testament: if the Priest had only offered a sacrifice, and had not gone into the holy of holiest with the blood thereof, sprinkling the Mercy-Seat, praying, and interceding that it might be accepted for the sins of the people, the Priest had not done the work of the Priest, and so he had not been a compleat Priest: So now, (saies the Apostle) if Jesus Christ had only Page 27offred up himself here a sacrifice, and had not gone into Heaven, the holy of holiest, and carried the power and the vertue of his death thither, to pray and intercede for us, he had not done the work of the great High-Priest. Every Priest might sacrifice, but every Priest might not go into the Holy of Holiest, that belonged only to the High-Priest to do. Now therefore, Jesus Christ going into Heaven, the Holy of Holiest, there to make Intercession for us, is the great, and the special work of this High-Priest.
That I may cleer up this mysterious Truth, I shall deliver my self these Four waies; by opening.
- First, Wherein the Intercession of Christ consisteth: and what he doth when we say he intercedes in Heaven for us.
- Secondly, How powerfull, and prevailing his Intercessions are with God the Father.
- Thirdly, That he doth now intercede as our great High-Priest and in a more transcendent and eminent way and manner, than e∣ver any High-Priest did before.
- Fourthly, This does conduce to our Comfort, and to our Holi∣ness.
First, If it be demanded, [Quest.] Wherein consisteth this Intercessi∣on of Jesus Christ?
I Answer. [Answ. 1]
First it consists in this: His appearing for us in Heaven, his owning of our Cause, and of our souls to God the Fa∣ther: It is the word that is used in that 9. Chapter of the Hebrews, the 24. verse. Christ is not entred into the holy place made with hands, but into Heaven, now to appear in the presence of God for us. He does not in an ordinary way, and man∣ner appear for us in Heaven; but with an Emphasis, he does openly, and publickly, before all the Saints and Angels, appear for us in the presence of God the Father. It is a comfort unto a man, sometimes, to have a good friend at Court, at the Kings elbow, that may own him, and ap∣pear for him: but though a man have a friend at Court, sometimes if there be any danger, he will not appear, and own a man; it may be he will own him, and countenance Page 28his Cause as long as there is no danger, but no longer. But now, here, we have a friend in Heaven, that will ap∣pear for us, and own our Causes, and our souls, and in all conditions appear for us. That is the First.
Secondly, [Answ. 2] He doth not only appear for us; but by ver∣tue of his Priestly Office, he does carry the power, merit, and vertue of his blood into the presence of God the Father in Heaven, and sprinkles the Mercy-Seat with it seven times. Seven is a note of Perfection. Those that Christ suffe∣red for, he does Intercede for. He takes all their bonds, and he carries them in unto God the Father, and he saies, Fa∣ther, I have paid these bonds, I have paid this debt, I have satisfied thy Justice for these poor sinners; and now my de∣sire is, that they may be acquitted from these bonds, and from these debts. This also is remarkable in that 9. Chap∣ter of the Hebrews, 11, 12. verses.
Thirdly, [Answ. 3] He doth not only carry the power, and vertue of his blood, and present it to God the Father for our dis∣charge: but he does also plead our Cause in Heaven, an∣swering unto all those accusations that are brought against us. And therefore we may reade what the Apostle saies in the 8. of the Rom. 33. ver. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of Gods Elect? it is God that justifies, who is he that condemneth? it is Christ that died, yea, rather that he is risen again, who is e∣ven at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Upon this ground the Apostle speaks thus; Who shall con∣demn them? Jesus Christ is at the right hand of God the Father, to take off all accusations, that shall be brought a∣gainst them. Let the World condemn, let Moses condemn, let Satan condemn; Jesus Christ is at the right hand of God the Father, to take off all accusations that shall be raised against them. Concerning this there is a clear and full instance in that notable Scripture the 3. Chapter of Za∣chariah, and the 1. verse, We find Satan standing at the right hand of Joshua to resist him. He shewed me Joshua the High-Priest, standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right band to resist him. It was the custome of Page 29the Accuser, to stand at the right hand of the accused: Psalme, 109. ver. 6. Set thou a wicked man over him, and let Satan stand at his right hand: take the wall of him in his ac∣cusation, condemning of him. Now here Satan-standing at Joshua's right hand, notes his accusing of him. Well, what was the matter that he accused him of? Ye shall find that there was matter, verse the 3. Now Joshua was cloathed with filthy garments, and stood before the Angel. Satan came and accused him that he had filthy garments; and so he had: for the Priests, had defiled themselves in Babylon, in marrying of strange wives, as Joshua and his children are charged, in the 10. Chapter of Ezra, and the 18. verse. (Give me leave a little to open this charge of Satan, that we may see Satan had matter of Charge, and accusation a∣gainst Joshua) And among the sons of the Priests, there were found that had taken strange wives: namely of the sons of Joshua. He was High-Priest. So that now, Joshua had defiled his garments: thre was then matter of accusation for Satan to work upon. But now, our Lord Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest steps in, and takes off this accusation: The Lord said (at the 3. of Zachariah, 2. verse) unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusa∣lem rebuke thee. The word used by the Septuagint, is the same that is used for Excommunication. And it is here twice repeated, (The Lord rebuke thee, even the Lord rebuke thee) not only to show the fulnesse of Satans rebuke; but to show the fulnesse of the intercession of Jesus Christ. Now would we see the fulnesse of Christs apology for Joshua? Saies the Lord unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, even the Lord re∣buke thee: And (saies he at the latter end of the 2. verse) Is not this a brand pluck't out of the fire? Thus; it is true Lord, that Joshua hath filthy garments: but yet notwithstan∣ding, Joshua is but as a brand pluck't newly out of the burning. Take a brand, and pull it newly out of the fire, and there will be dust, ashes, and dirt about it. Lord (saies he) Joshua is but newly puld out of the burning, and therefore, Lord, he must needs have some ashes, and some Page 30dirt, and some filth about him: O Lord, (saies Christ) al∣though that Joshua be clothed with filthy garments, I will take away those filthy garments: verse the 4. He answered and spake unto those that stood before him saying, Take away the filthy garments from him: and unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to passe from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment. This can be none but Christ. Thus Christ takes off the accusation that was brought against Joshua by Satan, for his filthy garments. And so does the Lord Christ now: If a poor soul fall into any sin, defile his garments: Satan, he comes in, and takes the right hand of him, stands at the right hand and accuses, by reason of this filthy garment: but our Lord Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, he being at the right hand of the Father, takes up the cause, and answers to the accusation: True Lord, this poor soul, indeed hath filthy garments; but he is but as a fire-brand pluck't newly out of the burning: He was in his natural, and sinful condition the other day, in his burning, and he is but newly changed, and therefore he must needs have some dirt, and some filth upon him, as a fire-brand pluck't out of the burning; and therefore consi∣der him in that respect, and though he have filthy gar∣ments now upon him; yet I will give him change of rai∣ments, and take away his filthy garments. Thus the Lord Christ steps in to God the Father, and answers to all those accusations that are brought against him to God the Father. This is the Third thing that he does by way of his Intercession.
Again, [Answ. 4] He doth not only plead our Cause, and take off accusations that are brought against us: But he does also, call for Absolution, and for Pardon of poor sinners, at the hand of God the Father, in a way of justice and e∣quity: And therefore he is called,*our Advocate: If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. The work of an Advocate, differs from the work of a Petitioner: an Advocate does not Petition the Judge, but an Advocate, he tels the Judge what is Law, Page 31what is right, & what ought to be done. So the Lord Jesus Christ being in Heaven, and making Intercession, is there as our Advocate: Lord (saies he) this man he hath sinned indeed, but I have satisfyed for his sins, I have paid for them to the full, I have satisfied thy wrath to the ful: now therefore, in a way of Equity, and in a way of Justice, I do here call for this mans pardon: Thus Christ intercedes. And thus we see (briefly) wherein the Intercession of Christ consisteth, and what he does when we say, That he Inter∣cedes for us in Heaven.
Well, But suppose he does Intercede, [Quest.] Can he prevaile in his Intercession, hath he any potency, power, or preva∣lency with God the Father in his Intercession?
Yes very much: [Answ.] and therefore we find in that same 3. of Zach. That Joshua goes away with a faire Myter upon his head: ver. 5. And I said, let them set a faire Myter (or a Crown) upon his head: so they set a faire Myter (or a Crown) upon his head, and clothed him with garments, and the Angel of the Lord stood by. Satan (at the beginning) stood at his right hand to accuse him: but this Accuser of the brethren goes away with a double rebuke, and Joshua goes away with a Crown, through the Intercession of Jesus Christ he goes away with a Crown upon his head.
All which will appear to you, if we consider Three things.
First, [unspec 1] What great interest our Lord and Saviour Christ hath in the bosome of God the Father. Paul prevailed with Philemon for Onesimus, through the great interest that Paul had in the bosome of Philemon. Our Lord and Savi∣our Christ, he hath lien in the bosome of God the Father from all eternity: he is his Son, his natural Son, his belo∣ved Son, his Son that did never offend him: and therefore surely when he comes, and intercedes for a man, he is most like to speed, to prevaile. We know, that David go∣ing out against Nabal and his house; Abigail comes forth, meets with David, and intercedes for Nabal: and Abigail did so powerfully intercede, even for Nabal, that she turned Page 32Davids heart quite round about. David swore he would not leave one of the house, and after Abigail had interce∣ded a little for Nabal, in the 1 of Sam. 25.32. verse, David said unto Abigail, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me: and blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou which hast kept we this day from coming to shod blood. Pray, what did Abigail say, that shee turned David thus about, that her intercession was thus powerful? Saies Abi∣gail, as for Nabal, he is according to his name. And it shall come to pass (at the 30. verse) when the Lord shall have done to my Lord, according to all the good that he hath spoken concerning thee, and shall have appointed thee ruler over Israel, that this shall be no griefe unto thee, nor offence of heart to my Lord, either that thou hast shed blood causelesse, or that my Lord hath avenged himselfe. This shal be no griefe at all unto thine heart (saies she) and other words that she used; by which she prevailed here with David. But Abigail was a stranger to David: and Abigail she prayes, and intercedes for Nabal, a wicked, vile, foo∣lish man. Shall Abigail, a woman, a stranger prevail thus with David for a Nabal? and shall not the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, not a stranger, nor a stranger to his bosome, but beloved from everlasting, shall not be prevaile much more, when he comes, and pleads the cause of the Elect, and of the Children of God, in the presence of God the Father, whom the Father loves also? Great is the Rhetorick of a Child: if a Child do but cry, Father, especially if the child be a wise child, he may prevail much with a tender hearted father. The Lord Jesus Christ, he is the Son of the Father, and he is the Wisdom of the Fa∣ther too; and God the Father is a tender hearted father: Oh! surely therefore, Powerful are the Intercessions of Je∣sus Christ with God the Father.
Secondly, [unspec 2] The prevalency of Christs Intercessions with the Father, will appear: if we consider, The inclination, and disposition, that God the Father hath, unto the same things that Christ prayeth, and intercedeth for. If a child should come, and intreat his father, in a matter that Page 33the father hath no mind to, or that the father is set a∣gainst; possibly he might not prevail: But if a beloved child shall come and pray the father, in a business that the father likes as well as the child; surely then, the child is very like to speed. Thus it is: The Lord Jesus Christ comes, and he intercedes for us: and the Father hath as great an inclination, and disposition unto the work that Christ intercedes for, as Christ himself hath: And there∣fore saies Christ, Loe, I come to do thy will: I come not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. That which Christ did, that he had a mind to, it was rather, the will of the Father, than Christs will: the Father is as strongly in∣clined, and disposed to what Christ did, and wils, as Christ himself. Those that thou hast given me (saies he) I have lost none: they are thine own, Lord, and therefore I pray for them. We have a notable expression to this end, in the 10. Chapter of John, and the 17. verse. Therefore doth my father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it a∣gain. I lay down my life: Here's his suffering, and his sa∣tisfaction. That I may take it again: Go up to Heaven, and take it again and intercede. Therefore doth my father love me. Oh! what a round of love is here: God the fa∣ther out of love, sends Christ into the world to die for man: God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son. Wel, Jesus Christ out of love to us, he dies for us: Who hath lo∣ved us, and given himself for us. The Father loves the world in giving Christ, The Son loves the world in dying for us; and the Father, he loves Christ again, for loving us: Christ loves us, and the Father loves Christ again for loving of us: a mighty high expression, That the Father should love Christ, for loving us. So then look wherein the love of Christ is seen unto poor sinners, the Fathers in∣clination, and disposition is untot hat as much as Christs: So that when he comes unto God the Father, and does in∣tercede, he must needs prevail, because the Father loves him for his interceding, the Father likes the matter as well as he, loves you the better for it.Page 34
Thirdly, [unspec 3] This will appear also, if we consider, upon what termes our Lord and Saviour Christ, our great High-Priest, was taken, and admitted into Heaven, the Holy of Holiest: so it is called. He was Honourably received into Heaven, and he ws received thither, for to do the work of the High-Priest. He was Honourably received when he came to Heaven: Sit thou down at my right hand (saies God the Father to him) a note of Honour. When Solomon would expresse his Honour to his mother, he set her down at his right hand. Thus God the Father would expresse the Honourable welcome that Christ had when he came to Heaven: Sit thou down on my right hand (saies he.) Now ye shall observe, that when soever this is made menti∣on of, The sitting down at the right hand of God the Fa∣ther; it is made mention of, not with the Kingly Office of Christ, but with the Priestly Office of Christ: as if that he were set down there, to do the work of the Priestly Office: One would think (I say) that this should be exprest with the Kingly Office of Christ: but you shall find it running along in the Scripture, still with the Priestly Office of Jesus Christ. Look into the 8. Chapter of the Hebrews, the 1. verse. Now of the things which we have spoken, this is the sum: We have such an High-Priest, who is set on the right hand of the Throne, of the Majesty in the Heavens. It's named with the Priestly Office. And so again, in the 10. Chap∣ter of the Hebrews, at the 11. and 12. verses. Every High-Priest standeth dayly ministring, and offering often times the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin: But this man, (speaking of Christ) after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sate down on the right hand of God: It is carried a long with the mention of the Priestly Office of Christ: as if he were sate down on the right hand of God the Father in Heaven, on purpose to do the work of the Priestly Office. When Jesus Christ came into Heaven, into the Holy of Ho∣liest, he came thither as our great High-Priest; and he said unto God the Father; Lord, I am not now come in mine own name, for my own sake only, but I come as the Page 35great High-Priest, having on this Brest-plate, the name of all the Elect; and I come to intercede for poor sinners; I come as High-Priest: Saies God the Father to him, Wel∣come upon those termes, welcome upon those termes, not wich standing thou doest come in their names, come and sit down at my right hand, saies God the Father to him: Thus Father is ingaged, for he received him upon those termes into Heaven, as our great High-Priest; the Father therefore is engaged to hear his Intercession, and so the in∣tercession of Jesus-Christ, must have a great deal of power, and prevalency with God the Father in Heaven. This is the Second thing.
But, Thirdly, Does the Lord Jesus Christ intercede for us in Heaven, as our great High-Priest?
Yes, and he does do this, in a more transcendent, and eminent way and manner, than ever any High-Priest did before Him.
For First, [unspec 1] He hath gone through more Temptations than ever any High-Priest did. He was tempted (saies the text) that he might succour those that are temped, as an High-Priest: If he was Tempted, that he might succour those that are Tempted; succour them as an High-Priest, then the more he was Tempted, the more experimentally able he is for to succour those that are Tempted. Never any High-Priest, that was Tempted like unto Christ. He was (saies the Apostle) in all things tempted, like unto us, sin only excepted. Poor soul, name any temptation, that thy heart is scared at the thoughts of, and you will find, that the Lord Jesus Christ, he was tempted with that temptati∣on. You will say, I am often times tempted to doubt Whether I be the Child of God or no, and that very often. So was Christ too: you know the place in the 4. of Mat∣thew: If thou be the Son of God; and if thou be the Son of God, twice that the Devil would set an If upon Christs Son-ship. Oh! but I am tempted often times to use indirect means to get out of trouble. So was Christ too: Command that these stones be made bread, saies the Devil to him. Oh! but Page 36sometimes I have been tempted, even to lay violent hands upon my self. So did the Devil tempt Christ too; Cast thy self down off the pinacle of the Temple; that was a temptation. Oh! but I am tempted unto such evil things, that truely I am afraid to speak of, such Blasphemies, such horrid, and wretched Blasphemies, as I think never came upon the heart of any child of God, so that I am afraid to think of them, and ashamed to mention them. And was not Christ so? was not he tempted so? Saies the Devil to him, All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Oh! horrid Blasphemy! Blush, blush, O Sun: that the Lord Jesus, the God of glory, should fall down to the Devil, and worship the Devil; what wretched blasphemy was here, that he should speak this? and yet the Lord Jesus Christ, he was tempted to it. What shall I say, He was in all things tempted like unto us, sin only excepted. Now, there was never any High-Priest that was so tempted, and he was therefore tempted, that he might succour those that are tempted. He is more able as our High-Priest to inter∣cede, to put in for you, and to succour you, than ever any High-Priest was before him.
Again, [unspec 2] As he hath gone through more Temptations than ever any High-Priest did: So also, he is filled with more Compassions. It behoved the High-Priest to be Mer∣ciful: it is an office of love, and Mercy. Now our Lord and Saviour Christ (saies the Apostle) is such an High-Priest, as cannot but be touched with your infirmities: the High-Priest that did go before him, sometimes, was not touched with their infirmities: Hannah came and prayed, and Eli's heart was not touched with her infirmity, at the first. But our High-Priest cannot but be touched, he does sympathize with us under all our infirmities. He is affli∣cted in all our afflictions. It was the work of the High-Priest to sympathize with the people; and yet notwith∣standing, there was a law, that the High-Priest might not mourn for his kindred, in that he might not, as others, sympathize, or mourn. But now, our Lord Jesus, he does Page 37fully sympathize with us, and therefore goes beyond all the High-Priests that ever was before him.
Further, He is more faithful in his office, [unspec 3] and place than ever any High-Priest was. Aaron was an High-Priest, butunfaithful in the matter of the golden calfe. But our Lord and Saviour Christ, he is more faithful than Moses was, In this 3. Heb. 1.2. verses, (and so on.) Wherefore ho∣ly brethren, consider the Apostle and High-Priest of our profession Christ Jesus, who was faithful to him that appointed him, as al∣so Moses was faithful in all his house. He steps over Aaron, who was the the High-Priest, and he compares him here to Moses in faithfulness. Now Moses was faithful in all his house: But our Lord and Saviour here, he is preferred before Moses in point of faithfulness; yet it is said, Moses was faithful in all his house. When that the Lord comman∣ded Moses any thing, as the Lord commanded so did he, and rose up early in the morning to do the commandement of God: He was faithful in all his house; and yet our Lord and Saviour was more faithful than Moses in the mat∣ter of his Priesthood. For so it is brought in here, at the 3. verse. For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, in as much as be who hath builded the house, hath more honour than the house. Verse the 5. Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a Son over his own house. Look now, as a Child, or a son is more faithful in his fa∣thers house than a servant will be: so, (saies the Apostle) Christ is more faithful than Moses. And look as the buil∣der of the house, does go beyond, and excel every beam, and stone in the house, or every part of the building: So does the Lord Christ in faithfulness, exceed Moses. You will say, there is a great difference between a stone in the building, and the maker of the house: Look what diffe∣rence there is between a stone, or a piece of wood, & the ma∣ker of the building! so great a difference there is (saies the Apostle) between Jesus Christ, in the matter of his Priesthood, and Moses; yet notwithstanding, Moses is faithful in all his Page 38house. Oh! then, how faithful is Jesus Christ, in the matter of his Priesthood! He goes before all that ever went before him.
Again, [unspec 4] Take other High-Priests, and though they were never so good, they could not alwaies intercede, they died; the High-Priest died, and another came in his room: But this man liveth for ever to make Intercession.
Yea, [unspec 5] Take the High-priest in the times of the old-Testa∣ment; and while he lived, he did not alwaies intercede for the people: Once in a year, the High-priest came to enter into the Holy of Holiest to sprinkle the Mercy-seat with blood, and caused a cloud to arise upon the Mercy-seat, with his prayers, and intercessions for their acceptance: and then he went out of the Holy of Holiest, and laid aside his garments. But now, our great High-priest, is ascended into the Holy of Holiest never to put off his Priestly gar∣ments: and he does not once a year sprinkle the Mercy-seat with his sacrifice, but every day: and therefore he goes beyond all the High-priests that ever went before him.
And yet further: [unspec 6] Take the High-priest in the old Law, in the times of the old Testament: and though they did offer sacrifice for some sinnes, and intercede; yet there was other sins again, that no sacrifice was to be offered for. If a man did kill another at un-awares, there was a sacrifice. If a man sinned ignorantly, there was a sacrifice. But saies the Text in the 15. of Numbers, 30. vers. If any man sin pre∣sumptuously, he shall be cut off, and there shall be no sacrifice for him: No sacrifice, no intercession by the High-priest then. But we have such an High-priest, that makes intercessions for All sins. So he saies himself: Every sin and blasphemy, shall be forgiven, except the blasphemy against the Holy-Ghost. Every sin, though it boyle up to blasphemy, it shall be for∣given; but without sacrifice there is no remission: and therefore he hath made a sacrifice, and so he presents the sacrifice, and intercedes for every poor sinner: and there∣fore, he is such an High-priest, that transcends all the high-priests that euer was before him.Page 39
In the Fourth place, [unspec 4] How doth all this conduce now to our Comfort, or our Holiness, to ur Grace, or Peace?
First, To our Comfort. Very much to our Comfort. And therefore in the 1. Chap. of Zach. good words, & comfort∣able are spoken upon this occasion: (ver. 8.) saies the Pro∣phet, I saw by night, and behold, a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrile-trees that were in the bottome, and behind him were there red horses speckled & white. Then said I, O my Lord, what are these? And the Angel that talked with me, said unto me, I will shew thee what these be. And the man that stood among the myrtle-trees, answered and said, These are they, whom the Lord hath sent to walke to and fro through the earth. And they answered the Angel of the Lord that stood among the myr∣tle-trees, and said, Wee have walked to and fro through the earth, and behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest. And the Angel of the Lord answered, and said, O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem, and on the Cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years? Here is Intercession. And the Lord answered the Angel that talked with me, with good words, and comfortable words. Give me leave to open the words a little, and we shall see how much it makes to our comfort, this Interces∣sion of Jesus Christ. At the 8. verse, I saw (saies he) a man riding upon a red horse. This is the Lord Jesus Christ presen∣ted thus unto us. And he stood among the myrtle-trees. The Saints and people of God, they are called myrtle-trees, for their greenness, sweetness, and fruitfulness. And these myr∣tle-trees were in the bottome. That is, in a dark, in a low, and a poor condition: it is the condition of myrtle-trees, and of the Saints and people of God to be oft in bottoms, and in a dark and low condition. Well: Behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white: And I said, O my Lord, what are these? Now that this is Christ; First of all, he is called a Man, and an Angel too. Secondly, As Christ walked between the golden Candlesticks, in the book of the Reve∣lation: So here he stood among the mirtle-trees, among the Saints. And behind him (attending upon him) were red Page 40horses, speckled and white. That is, Angels sent to and fro through the earth, upon his message, and upon his er∣rand; and unto him they come and give an account, and to none but Christ. Then we shall see this Angel, that stood among the myrtle-trees, comes and Intercedes: all the An∣gels they come and bring in this report, That the Church and people of God were in a low condition. Then this An∣gel that stood among the Myrtle-trees, answered and said, (at the 12. verse) O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem, and on the Cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten yeers? It must needs be Christ, for no Angel intercedes, but Christ alone. What is the fruit of this Intercession? (at the 13. verse) The Lord answered the Angel that talked with me, with good words, and comfortable words. I (indeed) good words, and comfort∣able are the fruit of the Intercession of Jesus Christ. It is a matter of great comfort this, That the Lord Christ, our great High-Priest, is in Heaven to intercede for us. Is it not a comfort to a poor man, to have a friend above, neer the King, or in the Court, that may be able to do him kind∣ness? A man sometimes saies, I had a friend indeed in the Court, but now he is dead. I but, here is a friend that never dies: He ever lives to make Intercession. Friends may alter, and turn enemies; but he changeth not. Our Lord and Saviour Christ said unto his Disciples, Rejoyce not in this, that the Devils fall down like lightning before you: but rejoyce in this, That your names are written in Hea∣ven: it is a matter of great joy to have ones name written in Heaven: Oh! but what is it then, to have ones name written in the chiefe part of Heaven, to have ones name written there, upon the breast-plate of Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, that is gone into the Holy of Holiest. Thus it is, The Lord Christ is now gone to Heaven, en∣tred into the Holy of Holiest, and carries our names into the presence of God the Father, and there pleades, and in∣tercedes for us. Oh! what matter of comfot is here!
But you will say unto me: [Object.] This is indeed exceeding Page 41good, and very comfortable in it self: but what is this to me? for I am afraid that the Lord Christ, does not intercede for me: if indeed I could perswade my self, that the Lord Jesus were in Heaven as my High-Priest, to intercede for me, I think verily I should have comfort, though I were in the lowest bottom, though I were in Hell it self: but Oh! I am afraid to bear my self upon the Intercession of Jesus Christ, lest I should presume.
This is the great Objection, and stands up continually, [Ans.] to resist the comforts of Gods people: Give me leave there∣fore, to deal with this Objection all along, and to take it off, that so the comfort may fall the more fully upon you.
First, I will shew, It is no presumption for us, to bear our selves upon the Intercession of Jesus Christ.
Secondly, Who those are, that the Lord Christ does Intercede for in Heaven.
And Thirdly, How willing, how infinitely willing he is to Intercede for us: that so I may bring the comfort neerer to our own bosomes.
First, [unspec 1] I say it is no Presumption for us to bear our selves upon the Intercession of Jesus Christ: no Presumption to beleeve. We know the story of the woman in the Gospel, that came unto our Lord and Saviour, touching the hem of his garment for her cure, and she was cured thereby. But our Saviour perceiving vertue to be gone from him, he cals out the person, Who hath touched me? come forth; and the woman came forth trembling. Our Lord and Savi∣our Christ, does not say to this poor woman, How dare you thus touch me? how durst you thus presume to do it? Consider, The woman had no Command to do it, no Precept to back her: The woman had no promise to en∣gage her; that if shee did touch the hem of his garment, she should be cured. The woman had no Example; ne∣ver any before that touched the hem of his garment and was cured: No Commandement, No Promise, No Exam∣ple: Surely now, if any woman, or man, should Presume, it should be this woman, that had no Commandement, Page 42nor no Promise, nor no Example; and yet the Lord Jesus Christ does not chide her away, does not tell her, she had presumed; but, O woman thy faith hath saved thee, thy faith hath made the whole. Let me speake this home, we have a Command now to beleeve in Christ; and a Promise: Those that come unto him, he ever liveth to make Inter∣cession for them: And we have Examples of many that have come unto Jesus Christ, born themselves upon his Intercession, and have gone away cured: what! was it no Presumption for the woman to come and touch Christ, without a Commandement, and a Promise, and an Exam∣ple? and have you Examples, and have you Promises, and have you Commandements to beleeve, and will you say this is Presumption? Be not deceived, it is no Presumpti∣on for thee, poor soul, to bear thy self at length upon Jesus Christ.
Secondly, [unspec 2] To make this out a little more fully: I shall discover who those are that the Intercession of Jesus Christ does belong unto.*If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. You will say, This is to be carried upon those that were spoke of before: and those were such as had fellowship with the Father: Truely, our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Sonne Jesus Christ; Chap. 1. verse 3. Now if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. If a∣ny man that hath fellowship with the Father, or Christ, sin; they have an Advocate with God the Father. First therefore stand you by I pray, that we will take for gran∣ted, all you that ever had any fellowship with God the Fa∣ther, or with Jesus Christ; this Doctrine of the Intercessi∣on of Jesus Christ, and the comfort hereof does belong to you.
Moreover, In the 17. Chapter of John, there we find, that our Saviour saies, He prayes for those that do beleeve, and should beleeve. Those that he prayes for here, he in∣tercedes for in Heaven: Neither pray I for these alone (at the 20. verse) but for them also which shall beleeve on me through thy Page 43word. I do not pray only for those that do beleeve now, but for them also which shall beleeve. Well then, here is a second sort, Those that do beleeve, and those that wait upon the Lord in the Ordinance, that they may beleeve, or shall beleeve; Stand you by also, you are another sort of people, that the Intercession of Jesus Christ, and the com∣fort thereof does belong unto.
But now yet further, If we look into the 7. Chapter of this Epistle unto the Hebrews, at the 25. verse, we shall find these words: Wherefore, he is able also, to save them to the utter∣most, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make In∣tercession for them. Who are those? Those that come unto God by him. Lay this, and 53. Chapter of I saiah the 12. verse together. He was numbred with the transgressors (spea∣king of Christ cleerly) and he bare the sins of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. It may be thou canst not say, I have fellowship with God the Father: it may be thou canst not say, I do beleeve, I am perswaded that I do be∣leeve; thou canst not say so: Well, but can you say thus: Through the Lords grace, I do come unto God by Christ; I have been, and I am a great transgressor, but I come unto God by Christ; I am one of the coming-transgressors: I have been a transgressor, but I am a coming-transgressor, I come unto God by Christ. Stand you by also, this In∣tercession of the Lord Jesus Christ, it belongs unto you: And let me tell thee for thy comfort (poor soul) whatsoe∣ver thou hast been, that comest unto the Lord by Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, he is gone to Heaven to intercede for thy soul.
But you will say, [Obj.] There is one thing that makes me afraid he will not intercede for me, I have been so great a transgressor: for I have been a transgressor against Jesus Christ, this High-Priest: Oh! I have sinned against this great High-Priest, Jesus Christ, and therefore I am afraid he will not intercede for me.
For answer to this, I shall only desire you to turn to the 16. Chapter of Numbers, the 41. verse, and consider it duely; [Answ.] we reade there, that all the Congregation murmured a∣gainst Page 44Moses, and Aaron: Aaron was the High-Priest: And (saies the text) all the Congregation of the children of Israel mur∣mured against Moses, and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the Lord. They had murmured against Moses, and Aaron. Then (at the 46. verse) Moses said unto Aaron, Take a Censer, put fire therein from off the Altar, put on incense, go quickly unto the Congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the Lord, the plague is begun. And see what Aaron did: And Aaron took as Moses comman∣ded, and ran into the midst of the Congregation, and behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stayed. They had sinned against Aaron the High-Priest, and yet Aaron (but the Ty∣pical High-Priest, he was but a Type of Christ) he ran in, although they had sinned against him, and he stood betwen the dead and the living, and made an atonement for them. Oh! if there was so much bowels, and compassions in the Type, in Aaron, when they had sinned against him, as to go and intercede for them: How much more is there in our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Typified High-Priest, to poor souls, to intercede for them.
But now, [unspec 3] this may be more fully made out to us, if we do but take in the Third thing, and that is: The Lord Je∣sus Christ, he is infinitely willing to intercede for us. We have seen who those are unto whom the Intercession of Christ belongs: namely, Such as have had any fellowship with God the Father, or with Christ: Such as do beleeve, or shall hereafter beleeve: And all those poor transgressors that come unto God the Father by Christ. Now observe, how infinitely willing the Lord Jesus Christ is to intercede for us that are thus: That will appear thus:
First, [unspec 1] He must needs be willing to do that which he hath recei∣ved his anointing for. It is said of Aaron, that he was anoin∣ted; and that ointment ran down upon his beard, and un∣to the skirts of all his garment: not a piece of Aarons gar∣ment, but was perfumed with the ointment that Aaron was Page 45anointed with. Surely, there is not a skirt of the garment of Jesus Christ, but the anointment wherewithal He, our High-Priest was anointed, does run down upon him. He is the Messiah, the anointment: So he is called in the 10. of Isaiah. The anointment. He was anointed with the oyle of gladness above all his fellows: above all the High-Priests that ever were before him. And he was anointed for this very end, That he might do the work of the High-Priest; which is, to Intercede for the sins of the people. And therefore in that place in John, 1 John 2.1. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ. Christ signifies A∣nointed. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father: But who is that? He is Jesus, that signifies your Saviour, and so he is willing to intercede. I but, it may be he is not able to do it, it may be he hath not received the anointing to do it. Yes, He is called Christ. If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ: or if you will, Saviour, Anointing. So that he is anointed for this end and purpose, to be your Advocate. Now if a man do receive money for to lay out for the benefit of o∣thers, poor Orphans, or the like: if a man be faithful, certainly, he will lay out the money for them, according to the intention of him that did trust him with the money. The Lord Jesus Christ, he hath received the Anointing, he is anointed as our great High-Priest, to do the work of the Priestly Office: and this is one work, to Intercede, and there∣fore he must needs be very willing to do it.
Again, The more any thing is the work of a mans Relation, [unspec 2] wherewithal he is clothed, the more (if he be faithful) is he willing to do the work. And I pray mind it a little. When men are exalted, and come to Greatnesse, or Honor, then they give down the comforts of their Relation unto those that depend upon them: If a father come to any great pre∣ferment; the comfort of the Relation of a father, then fals down upon the children, runs down then upon the fruit of his loynes. And so, if one friend do come unto prefer∣ment; the comfort of the Relation, (or friendship) fals Page 46down. Now the Lord Jesus Christ, he is our High-Priest; and he is now exalted, he is gone to Heaven: and therefore all the comforts of all the Relations that he stands in to∣wards us, do now fall upon us. And therefore, he is wil∣ling, he is very willing, because this is the work of his Re∣lation.
And further, [unspec 3] It is the work of his Office. What a man does by office, that he does willingly; what a man does by office, he does industriously, he does not do it by the bye: what a man does by office, he does it readily; according unto a mans place, or office, so will his interpretation be. Suppose now a Child that hath very good parts, come be∣fore three men, of three several professions; A Lawyer, a Minister, and a Merchant. The Child having very good parts; the Merchant saies, He will make a very good Mer∣chant: the Lawyer saies, He will make a very good Law∣yer: and the Minister saies, He wil make a very good Scho∣lar: according to their three Relations, or Places, or Of∣fice, or work, their interpretation is. So now, if three men, of three several Trades, whose work lies about wood, come and behold a fine green-tree: One man saies, It is good for this: And another saies, It is good for that: and the third saies, It is good for another use: according to his Place, and Calling, will his interpretation be. So now, when a poor soul comes before God: Moses (the Law) looks upon him: And the Devil looks upon him: And Jesus Christ looks upon him: The work of the Law, is to Condemn; The work of the Devil, to Accuse; And the work of Jesus Christ, is to Intercede, it is the work of his office. Now therefore, assoon as the Devil sees such a soul, Oh (saies he) here's a fine instrument for me, here's a fit subject for me to injoy. Assoon as Moses sees this man, Here's a fine subject for me to condemne unto all Eternity. But when Jesus Christ looks upon such a soul, saies he, Heres a fine soul for me to save unto all Eternity, to intercede for: why? because it is his Office, and what a man does by office, he interprets accordingly. Therefore what the Page 47Lord Jesus Christ does, he does by office, and he does it readily, and willingly. And I will give you one demon∣stration of it; It was the end why Jesus Christ was taken into Heaven, into the Holy of Holiest; that he might In∣tercede. According to the Scriptures mentioned before, in Heb. 9.24. For Christ is not entered into holy places made with hands, but into Heaven it self, now to appear in the presence of God for us. He does not say thus, Christ is now gone to Heaven, to be glorified there; Christ is now gone to Hea∣ven, to injoy the bosome of his Father, for his own happi∣ness. No, but he is gone into Heaven to appear in the pre∣sence of God for us. This is the end of his ascention. And so again in the 7. of the Hebrews, Wherefore, he is able to save to the uttermost, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for us. What? is he in Heaven to be glorified there? No, but the end why Christ is in Heaven, Is to make intercession for poor sinners: And therefore, he must needs be infinitly willing to do this, because it is the end of his going thither, into the Holy of Holiest. Oh therefore, be of good comfort, all you that do come unto God by him, for he is willing to intercede for you. And let not any thing discourage you: It may be you will complain, and say Oh! but I am much opposed here in this world. What matter, so long as Jesus Christ does intercede for me in Heaven, and speaks good words unto God the Father for me in heaven; what though I be opposed by men? It may be you will complain, and say, Oh! but I am much tempted, and cannot pray. Be humbled for it; but yet know this, That when you cannot pray, Christ prayes for you; and he prayes that you may pray. It may be you complain, and say, Oh! but I la∣bour under such and such corruptions, and the Devil he is busie with me, exceeding busie, and I cannot overcome them: and the Devil stands at my right hand for to tempt me, and to lead me into such and such sins. Wel, be it so, yet notwithstanding, the Lord Jesus Christ, he is at the right hand of our Father, and he is set down at the right hand of God the Father, till all enemies be made his foot∣stool; Page 48and your sins are his enemies: And therefore be of good comfort, O all ye people of the Lord. Is there ever a poor myrtle-tree, a soul that growes in a bottom, in a poor dark condition? be of good comfort, the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, he is entered into Heaven, into the Holy of Holiest, there to intercede with God the Father for thee.
I but, [Quest.] you will say unto me: Does not this conduce to our Grace, and Holiness too? and how does it do it?
This Intercession of Jesus Christ; [Ans.] this work of the Priest∣ly Office of Christ, and the consideration thereof, it does conduce exceedingly unto our Grace, and Holinesse. For.
First, [unspec 1] What a mighty incouragement is here unto all poor sinners, for to come unto Jesus Christ? He ever liveth to make Intercession for those that come unto God by him: Oh! then, who would not come unto God by Christ? who would not come unto Jesus Christ? Me thinks a poor sin∣ner should say, Indeed my sins were so great, that I was a∣fraid for to come unto God: But now I hear, that the Lord Jesus Christ is in Heaven, to make intercession, for all those that come unto God by him; Though I have been a Drunkerd, now I wil go unto God by Christ: And though I have been a Swearer, and though I have been an unclean wanton, yet I will go unto God by Christ. Indeed, I thought that my time was past; for I have been an Old Swearer; and I have been an Old Drunkard; and I have been an Old Sabbath-breaker; and I have been a sinner so long, that I was even afraid of going to God at all; and thought there was no mercy, nor no pardon for me: But seeing now, that this is true, That the Lord Jesus Christ is in Heaven, to make intercession for all those that come un∣to God by him; Well, through the Lords grace, now I will go unto the Lord Christ, I will go unto Jesus Christ: I indeed, am a young man, and I thought it was to no purpose to go unto God, God would not regard poor ig∣norant ones, and I am a poor ignorant creature, and Page 49thought it was to no purpose for me to go unto God: But now I understand this, That the Lord Jesus Christ is in Heaven to make intercession for all those that come unto God by him: Well then, Though I am ignorant, yet will I go unto God by Christ: and though I am but a poor young thing, and scarce understand the termes of Religi∣on; yet will I go unto God by Christ. Oh! come unto Christ, come unto Christ: Behold here, in the Name of the Lord, I stand and make invitation to poor sinners; Come poor Drunkard, Swearer, Sabbath-breaker, Un∣clean heart; the Lord Jesus Christ is in Heaven to make intercession for all that come unto God by him; and will not you come? Oh! how will you answer it at the great day? when it shall be said, The Lord Jesus Christ made a tender, and offer of mercy to you, and you would not ac∣cept of it, you would not come unto him. Here is matter of great Incouragment unto all poor sinners to come unto Jesus Christ.
Again Secondly, The more I apprehend, [unspec 2] or see with a spiritu∣al eye, That the Lord Jesus Christ does appear in Heaven for me▪ the more am Fingaged to appear upon earth for him. (Mark I pray, that you may see how this does conduce unto Grace, and Holiness.) Ah! shall the Lord Jesus Christ appear in Heaven, before Saints, and Angels, and God the Father for my soul? and shal I be afraid to appear before poor worms for him? Shall the Lord Jesus Christ own me in Heaven? and shall not I own him upon earth? Shall the Lord Jesus Christ, as the great High-Priest, take my name, and carry it upon his breast into the presence of God the Father? and shall not I take the Name of Christ, and hold it forth to the world? Oh! I beseech you consider, what a mighty ingagement is here, to stand to and appear for the Lord Christ, and to own his Cause in these backsliding times; because he is now in Heaven appearing for you, and ma∣king intercession for you.
Thirdly, The more I confider, or apprehend, [unspec 3] That the Lord Jesus Christ does lay out himself for me, the more am I ingaged Page 50to lay out my selfe for him. The Scripture saies, He ever liveth to make intercession for you. He laies out his whole E∣ternity for you. Me thinks we have here before us, the greatest argument in the world for to make us to walke closely with God in Christ: For, shall the Lord Jesus Christ, spend of his Eternity for me? and shall not I spend of my whole time for him? He Ever liveth: he Ever liveth to make intercession. Before the world was made, his de∣light was in the habitable parts of the earth, among the children of men. He laid out himself in delighting upon you before the world was made. Well, in due time, he comes down into the world; and here while he was upon the earth, he laid out himself fully for you. Then he Dies, and goes up to Heaven, and (saies he) I go to prepare a place for you. He was at work for you, before the world began; Then he comes down upon the earth, and here he spends all his time for you: And now that he is gone to Heaven; the text saith, He ever liveth to make intercession for you: he spends off all his eternity for you. Oh! does not the Lord Jesus grutch me Eternity, to spend off his Eternity for my soul? and shall I grutch the Lord Jesus Christ a little time, to spend a little time for him? Surely, people don't think what Christ is doing in Heaven for them, (you that are Saints especially) if you did, you could not be padling in the world so much. Shall the Lord Jesus Christ be ap∣pearing in Heaven for me? and shall I be digging in the world? Shall he be making mention of my name unto God the Father, and interceding for me? and shall I be sinning against him? shall I be contending with his children? shall I now be joyning with his Enemies? shall I be opposing his waies? Oh! if people would but think, what the Lord Jesus Christ is doing in heaven for them, they could not re∣bel so in the world against him as they do. Wherefore, that you may be kept from your sins, & kept frō the world, think of these things. The Apostle saies, These things have I written unto ye, that ye sin not: and if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And so Page 51say I to you, I have been here delivering to you this Do∣ctrine, concerning the Priestly Office of Jesus Christ: and these things have I preach't unto you, that you sin not. And therefore, that you may be kept from sin, and your hearts made more Holy; think of the Priestly Office of Je∣sus Christ, he is gone into Heaven to make intercession for you. And thus have I discovered the Second Particular of the Priestly Office of Jesus Christ. A Third follows.
HEBREWES 2.17, 18.
WE have found already, That the work of the High-Priest was, and is, To Satisfie, and to Intercede for the sins of the peo∣ple
Now if we inquire further, we shall find also, That the work of the High-Priest was, and now is, To offer up the gifts of the people unto God: To present our, Prayers, Praises, Duties, Servi∣ces, and all spiritual Performances unto God the Father, and to procure acceptance of him. This was done thus: In the times of Moses, in the Tabernacle there were two Parts, or Courts; (as we reade in the 9. Chapter of the Hebrews) In the one, which was called, The Holy of Holiest; there was the Arke, the Mercy-Seat, the Cherubims of glory, and the golden Censer. In the other, there was the Brasen-Altar, upon which they offered sacrifices, there was the table of Shewbread, the golden Candlestick, and the golden Altar, upon which incense was: This is expresly laid down in the 2, 3, and 4. verses of that 9. of Hebrews: For there was a taber∣nacle Page 53made, the first wherein was the candlestick and the table and the shew-bread; which is called the sanctuary. And after the Second vail, the tabernacle which is called the holiest of all, which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant, overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aarons rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And o∣ver it the cherubims of glory shadowing the Mercy-Seat. And as every day, morning and evening, there was a lamb offe∣red, a sacrifice for the sins of the people, upon the Brasen-Alter; So every day, morning and evening, there was in∣cense also, upon the golden-Altar: which was performed while the people were without at prayer, mingling that incense with their prayers; As it is in the 1. Chap. of Luke, the 8, 9, and 10. verses. It came to passe that while he (that is, Zacharias) executed the Priests Office before God in the order of his course, according to the cusiome of the Priests office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord: and the whole multitude of the people were praying without, at the time of incense. So that the incense, was at a time when they were sweetly mingling their prayers and the incense together. But now, although that there was a sacrifice every day, yet once in the yeer, th• High-Priest came, and he took the blood of the Sacrifice, and carried it into the Holy of Holi∣est, and sprinkled the Mercy-Seat therewith. And al∣though there was incense too, from the Golden Altar eve∣ry day, yet once in the yeer, the High-Priest came, and he took the golden Censer, and putting incense into it from off the golden Altar, went into the Holy of Holiest and caused a cloud of perfume to arise upon the Mercy-Seat. All which was a great Type of Jesus Christ our High-Priest: who though he offered up himself a sacrifice once for sin without, yet when he died, and ascended, he carried the vertue of that his blood into the Holy of Holiest, into Hea∣ven, and sprinkled the Mercy-Seat therewith: Although he began to make Intercession while he lived, as we reade in the 17. of John; yet when he ascended up into Heaven, the Holy of Holiest, then he did take his golden Censer, Page 52〈1 page duplicate〉Page 53〈1 page duplicate〉Page 54and carried his Intercession into Heaven, causing a cloud of sweet perfumes to arise upon the Mercy-Seat: which stil he does, whilst we are praying here without, he mingling all our Duties with his Intercessions; and so taking all toge∣ther as one, presents it unto God the Father for our accep∣tance. And this he does now as our High-Priest; for if we look into this book of the Hebrews, we shall find, That the Apostle speaking of the High Priest, relating unto Jesus Christ; saies, in the 5. Chapter and the 1. verse, That it was his work to offer Gifts: That he may offer both Gifts and sacrifices. And so in the 8. Chapter and the 3. vers. Every High-Prist is ordained to offer Gifts and Sacrifices. Thus we have another great work, of our great High-Priest; which is, To offer up all our Prayers, our Duties, our Gifts unto God the Father: which if ye will, we may call another part of Christs Intercession; but I handle it distinct.
Now that I may open & cleer this great Gospel-Mystery, I shall endeavour to discover:
First, What Jesus Christ, our High-Prist, doth, when be does offer up our Gifts unto God the Father.
Secondly, What abundance of favour, and acceptance, this our great High-Priest himself hath in Heaven.
Thirdly, That he doth improve all that his own acceptance, for our acceptance; planting all our Duties upon his own accep∣tance, upon that acceptance that he hath with the Father.
Fourthly, What abundance of acceptance therefore we have, in all our Duties by him.
Fiftly, How this doth conduce to our Grace, and to our Com∣fort?
First, [Quest. 1] What doth our Lord and Saviour Christ, our great High-Priest, when he offers up our Gifts unto God the Fa∣ther?
First, [Answ. 1] He doth take our persons, and carries them in unto God the Father, in a most unperceivable way to us. He knows, that if our Person be not first accepted, our Duty cannot be ac∣cepted. Love me, and love my Duty; love me, & love my Service: hate me, and hate my Service. In the Covenant Page 55of Works, God did first accept of the work, and then of the Person, the Person for the work: But in the Covenant of Grace, God doth first accept of the Person, and then the Work. Now therefore, that our Work, and our Du∣ty may be accepted with God the Father; The Lord Christ, our High-Priest, doth first take our Person, and our Name, and carries them into the presence of God the Fa∣ther. This was plainly shadowed out unto us, by that of the High-Prest; Who went into the Holy of Holiest, with the Names of all the Tribes upon his breast. Which the Apostle speaks out plainly:*In whom we have accesse with boldness. The word Accesse, as some observe, is Manuducti∣on, Hand-leading: In whom we have an Hand-leading; or by whom we are led by the Hand, unto God the Father. As a child, having run away from his Father, is taken by the hand of a friend, or of his Elder brother, and brought again into the presence of his father: So, all we having run away from God, are taken, and led again into the presence of the Father by the hand of Jesus Christ. He is that lad∣der that Jacob saw, upon whom we do ascend into the bo∣some of God, and go into Heaven. Our High-Priest Je∣sus Christ, doth first take our Persons, and lead us into the presence of God the Father. That is the first.
Secondly, As he doth take our Persons, and lead, [unspec 2] and carry us into the presence of God the Father: So, when we do perform any Duty, he doth observe what evil, or failing there is in that Duty, and draws it out, takes it away before he presents the Duty-unto God the Father. A Child that would present his father with a Nose-gay, or Posie, goes into the garden, and he ga∣thers flowers, and weeds together; but coming to his mo∣ther, she takes them, and picks out the weeds, and binds up the flowers by themselves, and so it is presented to the father, Thus it is with us: We go to Duty, and we ga∣ther weeds, & flowers together: But the Lord Jesus Christ, he comes and picks out the weeds, and then he presents no∣thing but flowers unto God the Father.
And this we have plainly set forth unto us, by that of Page 56the High-Priest taking away the iniquities of the Holy things of Gods people, in the 28. Chapter of Exodus, Thou shalt make a plat-form of pure gold (at the 36. verse) and grave upon it like the ingravings of a signet, HOLINES UNTO THE LORD. And thou shalt put it on a blue lace, that it may be upon the Mytre; upon the forefront of the Mytre it shall be. Then at the 38. verse, And it shall be on Aarons forehead (that is, the High-Priest) that Aaron may bear the iniquity of the holy things, which the Children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy guifts: and it shall be alwaies upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord. Thus taking away the ini∣quity of their holy things. So it is said concerning our Saviour Christ, in the 3. Chapter of Malachy, the 2, 3, & 4. verses, Who may abide the day of his coming? (plainly under∣stood of Christ, as appears by the first vers.) Then at the 3. He shall sit as a refiner, and purifier of silver; and he shall pu∣rifie the Sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and selver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the dayes of old. Then shall their offerings be pleasant; When? when he hath purg'd their sacrifices, and their of∣ferings. This in the daies of his flesh and now much more. This is the Second thing, that the Lord Christ, our great High-Priest doth in offering up our Gifts unto God the Father, He takes out the weeds.
Thirdly: [unspec 3] As he takes away the iniquity of our holy things; So he observes what good there is in any of our Duties, or Perfor∣mances; and with that he mingles his own Prayers and Interces∣sions; his own Intense; and presents all as one work mingled to∣gether unto God the Father. This we have so fully in the 8. Chapter of the Revelation, that I need name no other place. Another Angel (at the 3. verse) stood at the Altar, having a golden Censer, and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all Saints upon the golden Altar, which was before the Throne. And the smoke (at the 4. verse) of the incense which came with the prayers of the Saints, ascended up before God, out of the Angels hand: This must Page 57needs be understood of Christ; for no Angel does inter∣cede but Christ, who is called, The Angel of the Covenant. 'Tis said here, He stood at the Altar, having a golden Cen∣ser: Which none of the High-Priests had: and there was given unto him much incense, and this he offered with the prayers of all the Saints; and the smoake of the incense came with the prayers of the Saints, and ascended up be∣fore the Lord. He alludes unto the way, and custome of the Jewes, and the High-Priest: shewing, that the Lord Jesus Christ doth all this for us, as our great High-Priest: that is the meaning of it. So that this is plain what he doth, when as our great High-Priest, he offers up our Gifts unto God the Father.
But in the Second place: Suppose he doth so, What Favour, [Quest. 2] or Acceptance hath this our great High-Priest in Heaven?
He hath very much: [Answ.] Father (saies he) I thank thee that thou hearest me alwaies. He never spake a word unto God the Father, but the father heard him alwaies. We reade (as I remember) but of Two places in the new Testament, where the Lord by an audible voice, gives testimony of Je∣sus Christ his Son: And in both those places, we have the same words uttered, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: And again; This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. We may know what favour a man hath with another, by the Trust that he doth commit to, and re∣pose upon him: Joseph had great favour in the eyes of Pharaoh; and how did it appear? It appear'd by this, Be∣cause Pharaoh trusted him with so much. Now God the Father, hath trusted Jesus Christ, this our great High-Priest, very much. This I shall evidence in Four Particulars, viz. What a great Trust God the Father hath put upon him.
First, It was an agreement between God the Father, [unspec 1] and Christ, the Second Person; before the world was, That in due time, he should come into the world, take flesh up∣on him, and die for sinners: and he did so. But before Christ came into the world, there were thousands of souls saved; How came they to be saved? They came to be saved Page 48by the blood of Christ, and before Christ had died. So then, God the Father saved them upon Christs bare word, That he would come into the world, and die for them. What a mighty Trust was here? That so many hundred thousand souls should be saved, upon a bare word of Christ That he would come into the world, and die for them af∣terward.
Again, [unspec 2] The Trust appears in this: That he was made when he did come into the world, the great Lord-Treasu∣rer of all the Grace, and Comfort, that should be given out unto the children of men. When Pharaoh trusted Joseph, all the whole kingdom was put into his hand, with the Corn thereof, and not a grain was to be given out to any but as Joseph gave it out: which argued a mighty Trust. So now, That not any Grace, or Comfort, given out to the children of men, but only by the hand of Christ, it argues a mighty Trust that the Father put upon him.
But yet further, [unspec 3] When our Lord and Saviour Christ di∣ed, and ascended unto God the Father to Heaven; as soon as ever he came into Heaven, saith the Father to him, Thou hast now suffered, Aske of me, and I will give thee the Heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy posses∣sion: all the world at one word. Aske of me (saith he) and at the first word I will give thee the whole world. It was a mighty, and a great Trust that the Father did put upon him.
Yea, [unspec 4] as if all this were not enough; The Father did put the keyes of Heaven, and of Hell into his hand: the keyes of Heaven and Hell into the hand of Christ. So we reade in the 1. of Revel. 18. ver. I am he that liveth, and was dead: and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keyes of Hell and of death. There's no man that goes to Hell, but he is lok't in by Jesus Christ: And there's no man goes to Heaven, but Christ hath the keyes of Heaven, and he locks him in there unto all Eternity. The Lord Jesus Christ, he hath the keyes of Hell, and of Heaven; he hath the keyes of all mens Eternities hanging at his girdle. Oh! Page 49what an infinite Trust is here, that God the Father hath put upon him! Then let us conclude, if that Trust do ar∣gue favour; and the Lord Jesus Christ, our High-Priest, hath such a great trust as this put into his hands by the Fa∣ther; what infinite Acceptance must he needs have with God the Father.
In the Third place,: Suppose that he have all this favour, [Quest. 3] and Acceptance in Heaven, Doth he Improve this his Favour, and Acceptance for our Acceptance, and for our Favour?
Yes, He Improves all this his favour, and acceptance, [Answ.] for our acceptance, and does plant all our Prayers, and Duties, upon his own acceptance. Lord, (saith he unto his Father concerning beleevers) I will, that where I am, they may be also: I will, O Lord, that they may be One, even as thou Father and I am one. He doth not count himself full, and happy, but in the happiness, and fulness of the Church. And therefore, as Christ is called, The fulness of God the Father: So the Church is called, The fulness of Jesus Christ: in the 1. of the Ephesians, and the last verse; Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. When our Lord and Saviour Christ came to die, and the heart and love of God the Father was let out unto him: Ye shall find, if ye look upon that 17. of John, and reade it all over, That he spends his time, not so much in praying for him∣self: The time was but short, and his prayer short, Father, if it be possible let this cup passe: if not, yet not my will, but thine be done. But he spends most of the time, in praying, and interceding for those that did beleeve, or should afterward beleeve. The favour, and acceptance which the High-Priest had, in the times of Moses, was not for himself: he had a Mitre upon his head, and a golden girdle upon his loynes, Priestly garments; and he had great acceptance when he went into the Holy of Holiest; but it was not for himself, he did improve it all for the people: he was to lay it out all for the people, and not for himself. Our High-Priest, goes beyond all other High-Priests in this par∣ticular also: for now, as for other High-Priests, though Page 60they went in with their incense, and covered the Mercy-seat with a cloud; yet it was but once in the yeer: But our High-Priest, is alwaies in the Holy of Holiest, and never goes out of it, ever covering the Mercy-Seat with his Inter∣cessions. Take their High-Priest, and though he were ve∣ry Holy, as Aaron was; yet sometimes he made the people naked, unacceptable: But our great High-Priest, never makes his people naked, but alwaies clothes them with his own righteousness.
Take their High-Priest, and though he did go into the Holy of Holiest for the people, yet he never led the people into the Holy of Holiest, they stood without: But our great High-priest, is not only gone into the Holy of Holiest him∣self, but doth also lead every poor beleever into the Holy of Holiest: as we reade in the 10. of the Hebrews, and the 19. verse: Having therefore brethren boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus Christ. The people might not enter in∣to the Holiest, in the time of the Jewes: But our great High-Priest, hath improved his favour for us thus far, that every man may come into the Holy of Holiest.
Now, If our great High-Priest in this respect, go beyond all the High-Priests that ever were before him, and they did improve their interest, and their favour, and their ac∣ceptance for the people, much more doth the Lord Jesus Christ, our High-Priest, improve the favour, interest, and acceptance that he hath in heaven, for our acceptance, and and the acceptance of all our Duties. And that is a Third Particular.
But, [Quest. 4] If that it be so; then surely we have great acceptance in all our Duties: but have we so?
Yes, [Answ.] very great, in and through the Lord Jesus Christ our High-Priest. And therefore, if we look into the 14. of John, our Lord and Saviour saith, Whatsoever ye aske in my Name (at the 13. verse) that will I do. I but, may we be sure of this? He repeats it again (in the 14. verse) If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. Yea, that ye may see what great acceptance we have now through him, in all Page 61those Duties that we offer up to God the Father: saith he, in the 16. Chap. and the 26. vers. At that day ye shall aske in my name: and I say not unto ye, that I will pray the father for you: for the father himself loves you. It is a mighty high speech. I don't say, That I will pray for you: Ye shall have so much favour and love in Heaven, from the Father imediately, that he will hear you presently. I, but is not all upon Christs account? Yes, and therefore saith he, at the 13. verse of the 14. chapter, Whatsoever ye shall aske in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. So that all is upon Christs account. Great was the testimony of Christs acceptance which he had from Hea∣ven, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Now if we look into the Scripture, we shall find, that the same words are given unto the Saints. Is the Lord Jesus Christ called the Son of God? My beloved Son: So are Belee∣vers too; As many as receive him, have power to be called the Sons of God. Is he called, The Beloved Son of God? This is my beloved Son: So are the Saints also; In the 31. chapter of Jeremy, at the 20. verse. Ephraim my deer Son, a pleasant child. Ephraim; that is, Israel, my deer Son, a pleasant child. Well, Is it said, In whom I am well pleased? my be∣loved Son, in whom I am well pleased: The same word also is given to men. When our Lord and Saviour Christ was born into the world, the Angels they came and sung at his birth, and they sung, Good will towards men; So we reade it: but it is the same word that is used concerning Christ himself, My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. So that whatsoever word there is in all this speech. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: whatsoe∣ver word there is in that sentence concerning Christ, 'tis gi∣ven also unto the Saints, unto Beleevers; so greatly does he improve his own favour & acceptance for our acceptance, and so great acceptance have we through Christ.
Yea, As the Lord Jesus Christ is said to be made sin for us, in the Abstract: So are we said to be made Righteousnes∣ses by him; in the Abstract too: As we have it, in the 1. of Page 52the Canticles, & the 3. vers. Therefore do the Virgins love thee: so we reade it in our english translation: But in the He∣brew it is Therefore do the Righteousnesses love thee. The Saints and Beleevers through Christ, are called, Righteousnesses, in the Abstract. So that here is the great acceptance, that the Saints, and Beleevers do find through this acceptation of Jesus Christ our High-Priest.
But, [Quest.] Suppose a man be very poor, and lives in some mean cot∣tage; which hath but one room to lie, dine and sup in; and that a smoky, dark room too: and this poor creature comes and prayes unto God: Will the Great and Glorious God of Heaven and Earth take notice of such a prayer, from such a worme as this? and shall he find acceptance with God the Father?
For answer to that, [Answ.] look into the 2. of the Canticles, and the 14. verse. O my dove that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, (they are the words of Christ) let me hear thy voice; Why? for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely. But I pray, where now is the Church? In the clefts of the rock, and in the se∣cret places of the staires: in a hole under the staires (as it were) in a poor distressed place, an hidden place; now (saies he) here thy voice is sweet, and thy tountenance comely.
Well, [Quest.] But suppose that a Duty, or service be performed by one that is weak; weak in Grace, or weak in parts and Gifts: for this is my case, (will some say) I am one of very weak parts and Gifts, and I have little Memory, or Ability of speech; there are some men indeed, that are of great Parts, and Graces, and when they pray, I make no question but their prayers do find acceptance; but as for me, I am one of very mean Abilities; Oh! can there be any acceptance of such prayers as mine are through Jesus Christ? Will God answer such stammerings, lispings, halfe-words, broken imperfect petitions?
Yes, [Answ.] We know that the paire of Turtles were accepted in the time of the Law, by those that could offer no more. Surely much more now, will a poor Turtle be accepted in the time of the Gospel. & those that could but bring Goats-haire, Page 53towards the making of the Tabernacle, they were welcome: and shall it not be so now, much more in the times of the Gospel? That which is little, in regard of Quantity, it may be great, in regard of Proportion; as the widdows mite was. The Sun fals (we know) with a com∣mon influence upon all the Herbs, and Plants: but there is a several sweetness, and flowers that are of a several, and different growth: There is the Rose, and there is the Vio∣let: The Violet is not so Tall as the Rose, the Violet lies on the ground; but though the Violet be not so tall as the Rose, the Violet hath its sweetnesse; and it may say to the Rose, Though I be not so tall, yet I have my sweetness as well as thou hast. So now, there is a common influence from Jesus Christ upon all the Saints, and they have their several sweetness; one as the Rose, and the other as the Vi∣olet: It may be, here lies a poor Christian upon the ground like the Violet, and is not so tall in Gifts and Parts as the other is; but yet notwithstanding, he hath his sweetness. Christ takes that lovingly that comes from love, whatever it be, though it be never so weak.
Well, But suppose that a mans Duty, [Quest.] or Service be performed with many failings, infirmities; Hardness of heart, Straightness of spirit, distracting thoughts; this is my case: Oh! is there any acceptance for such a Duty as this is? will the Lord Jesus Christ, the great High-Priest, take such a Duty as this is, and carry it in unto God the Father, and is there any acceptance for such a Duty as this?
We know how it was with Nicodemus, [Answ.] and the woman that came trembling, and touched the hem of Christs gar∣ment. And we must know that in every duty, that we do performe, there are Two things: There is the Sacrifice; and there is the Obedience in offering the Sacrifice. Though the Sacrifice may be imperfect, yet your Obedience in offering the Sacrifice, may be perfect, with Gospel-per∣ction. 'Tis in regard of our Duties, as in regard of our Persons; never think that God will deal otherwise with our Duties, than he deals with our Persons. The Lord Page 64came and justified the ungodly, when he justified you: He comes, and he finds a poor soul in a sinful condition, & he imputes his righteousness unto that soul, and justifies an un∣godly one, not justifying him so, as to go on in sin; it is the word of the Apostle, He justifies the ungodly. So the Lord comes, and finds a great deal of ungodliness in your Duty, and he imputes his righteousness unto that Duty; and he justifies the Duty, which in your eye is an ungodly duty. This indeed is the wonder of all, that he should deal thus by us: For, did we ever hear of any garment, that would make the crooked straight? If a man have a croo∣ked back; come and put velvet upon him, silk, scarlet up∣on him, it may make him handsomer, but it will not change his back, and make him strait. But when the Lord Christ comes, he finds all our souls crook-back't, as it were, and he puts on his righteousness, and this garment makes that that was crooked to become straite; it makes the very crook-back't Duty, to become a strait Duty. Did we e∣ver hear, or reade, of any Seal, that when it was set upon the wax, would change the wax into gold, or into silver like the seal? it may leave it's impression, but it does not change the wax into it's own mettall. If there be a stamp set upon silver, or gold, the mettal remains as it was be∣fore: But if a stamp be set upon brasse, it don't make it sil∣ver; or if it be set upon silver, it don't make it gold. I but when the Lord Jesus Christ comes unto a Duty, and sets his own stamp, and his own righteousness upon a Duty, that which was brasse before; full of failings, and much unrighteousness before, changes it into gold, into silver. He only hath the Philosophers stone (as I may so speak) all that Christ touches turns into gold; turns all our Du∣ties into gold: and when he hath done so, he presents them unto God the Father. This our great High-Priest doth. And this is the Fourth thing.
But how doth all this make for our Comfort, [Quest. 5] or for our Grace?
Surely, [Ans.] we cannot but see already how it doth make for our Comfort:Page 65
Is it not a comfortable thing, for a man to know, that his Duties are not lost? that his Prayer is not lost? that his Hearing the word is not lost? that his Searching the Scrip∣tures is not lost? that his Conference, and Communion is not lost? A man is unwilling to lose any thing: and the more precious it is, the more unwilling to lose it. If we have a venture at Sea; we are unwilling to lose our ven∣ture: and the greater our venture is, the more unwilling to lose it. If a man have but a quarter of his Estate in a vessel, he is unwilling to lose it; more unwilling if he have half his Estate; most if he have all, and his children there in the vessel too. Now as men are unwilling to lose their worldly venture: So, a man that is sensible of his soul, is very unwilling to lose his souls venture; to lose his Prayers, and to lose all his Duties. (Friends) here's an Insuring-Office; The Lord Jesus Christ is our great Insurer in this respect: and he doth as he is our High-Priest, offering up our Gifts unto God the Father, assure us that none is lost, not any lost. Indeed, if we had such an High-Priest, as were not able to take notice of the Circumstances of our Duties, much might be lost: but, this our Lord Christ, our great High-Priest, doth not only take notice of our Duty what ever it be; but of all the Circumstances of our Duties, and so presents them unto God the Father, in the full latitude, in all the gracious Circumstances of them. Therefore saith he, unto the Angel of the Church of Pergamos in the 2. of the Revelation, and the 13. verse; I know thy works. Why, but Lord, though thou doest know our works, yet it may be thou doest not take notice where our work is done: Lord, it may be thou doest take notice of my Prayer, but Lord, thou doest not take notice where I dwell, and live, and in what family I do pray unto thee; Lord, I am in a wicked, and a wretched family, that does oppose Pra∣yer: Lord, may be thou doest take notice of my Prayer, but thou doest not take notice, of this Circumstance: Yes, (saies he) I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satans seat is. Well, and thou holdest fast my Name, and hast Page 66not denied my faith, even in those daies wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. It's remarkable, The Lord Jesus Christ takes notice, not only of our Duty; but of every Circumstance of the Duty, and so he presents it unto God the Father, not only the Duty, but the Circumstance of the Duty; and therefore there is not a haire of your Duty lost, not one graine of your Duty lost: is not this an unspeakable Comfort unto a poor soul, that it knows that nothing is lost of all the Prayers it hath made unto God, that there is no losse at all? The very pantings of our hearts at the Throne of grace, are received into the bosom of our Heavenly Fa∣ther.
Further, [unspec 2] Is it not a Comfort for a man to have liberty to go unto the Mercy-Seat, and there for to meet with God? 'Tis said of wicked men, That they sit in the seat of the scornful. There is, (it seems then) the seat of the scornful; and there is a Mercy-Seat: A Drunkard, when he is with his drun∣ken company, and sits upon the Ale-bench (it may be) scorning, and jeering at some of the godly, making songs on them, he is set upon the seat of the scornful; that is a cursed seat. I but, there is another seat, there is a Mercy-Seat; and there is never a poor Saint and Child of God, but he may go in to the Mercy-Seat of the Lord Jesus Christ that hath all the favour, and acceptance in Heaven; he carries him into the Mercy-Seat, and God the Father will never put him by; what Comfort is here!
Besides, [unspec 3] Is it not a great Comfort to a man, for to know how it shall go with him at the great day of Judg∣ment? When there shall be hundred thousands at the right hand of Christ; & hundred-thousands at the left hand of Christ; when all faces shall gather palenesse? Oh! (saies one) that I did but know, how it shall go with me at that day! This Doctrine tels us, The Lord Jesus Christ shall be our Judge at that day, and he that shall judge us then, he takes our Prayers and all our Duties now, and carries them in unto the presence of God the Father, & by him we have Page 67acceptance, and according to these we shall be judged. Surely then, if he takes our Duties and carries them in for acceptance, unto God the Father, he will never judge you for them, and condemn you for them at that day. Here is Comfort!
Once more, Is it not a Comfort, [unspec 4] for a poor begger to be relieved at a rich-mans door? We are al beggers in regard of Heaven; and the Lord Jesus Christ, he does not only come forth and serve us, but he takes us (poor beggers) by the hand, and leads us in to his Father. Oh! what Comfort is here! what Comfort is here!
Indeed if I were able to say, That the Lord did accept my Duty,*this were Comfort indeed; if I were able to conclude, That the Lord Jesus Christ did take my Prayers, and my Duties, and carry them in unto God the Father; this were sweet consolation: but how shall I know that?
If the Lord Jesus Christ be our High-Priest, [Ans.] then we may say also, that he takes our duties, and carries them in for acceptance unto God the Father: if we may say that Jesus Christ hath satisfied for us, and doth intercede for us, then we may say also, that he takes our duties, and carries them for acceptance unto God the Father.
But yet a little further, to bring this Comfort nearer to your hearts; give me leave to appeal to you:
First. Whosoever thou art that makes this Objection: [unspec 1] Didst thou never find a spiritual fire come down from Hea∣ven (as it were) upon thy heart in Duty, or after Duty? In the times of the old-Testament, if they offered up a sacri∣fice, and a material fire came down from Heaven and burnt up the sacrifice to ashes, it was a certain testimony, that the sacrifice was accepted. Now in the times of the Gospel we must not expect material fire to come down upon our Du∣ties: But hath the Lord at any time caused an inward, and spiritual fire to fall down upon thy heart, warming thy spirit in Dutie? there the Lord speaks thus much to thee; Thy sacrifice is turn'd into ashes, and it is accepted by Je∣sus Christ.Page 68
Again, [unspec 2] Did you never find in your heart (you that make this Objection) to Pray, and Cry, and Intercede for others, for the godly especially? Look what disposition there is in your heart towards the members of Christ, there is the same disposition in Christ's heart towards you. Ah! do you think that there is love in your bosome towards the Saints; and that there is none in Christ's heart towards you? Do you think that your bowels are more large than Christ's? Canst thou find in thine heart to go unto God, when thou seest a Saint in misery, to go to God, and pray, and cry, and intercede for him? and don't you think that the Lord Jesus hath as much bowels towards you, to go and intercede for you, and present your prayers unto God the Father.
Further, [unspec 3] Don't you look upon your own Duties, as co∣ming from your selves, most unworthy? Beloved! 'tis in regard of Duties, as it is in regard of Persons: When a man does judge himself to be most unworthy, then Christ counts him worthy, God counts him worthy in Christ. As you reade in the 1. of the Canticles, saies the Spouse there, ver. 5. I am black (O ye daughters of Jerusalem) as the tents of Kedar: Look not upon me because I am black, ver. 6. Now would you see Christs opinion of her, that counts her self black? saith she, Black, and Black again: but Christ saith concerning her; verse, 8. O thou fairest among women. She calls her self Black, and Christ cals her Fair, and the Fairest a∣mong women. Now, when a man doth count himself most unworthy, God counts him most worthy: and when a man looks upon his own Duties, and Sacrifices, as most unwor∣thy, they are look't upon by Jesus Christ as most worthy, poor prayers in our eyes, are precious in Gods eye.
A word more, [unspec 4] Don't ye think, that grace is larger now, in the times of the Gospel, than it was in the times of the Law? If ye doubt it, as unto this particular; Look upon the 30. Chapter of Exodus; compared with the 41. of Eze∣kiel. In the 30. Chapter of Exodus, The Lord commands an Altar to be made to burn incense upon; Of Shittim wood Page 69shalt thou make it; verse the 1. A cubit shall be the length there∣of, verse the 2. The Altar is for Incense; 'tis the matter that now we are upon: A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and two cubits shall be the highth ther∣of. Now in the 41. Chapter of Ezekiel, he speaks of the Altar in the times of the Gospel: and (saith he) at the 22. verse, ('tis the Altar of incense that there is prescribed to be made, the Altar of wood, of Shettem wood.) The Altar of wood was three cubits high, and the length thereof two cubits. And yet again, this altar of incense in the times of the Go∣spel, is to be as large again, as that in the times of the Law; as high, and as long, and as large again. In the times of the Law, times of the old-Testament; a poor soul might go unto the High-Priest, and might challenge a right in him, and might say, That his Service, and his Duty, and his Sacrifice was accepted by the High-Priest. If in the times of the Old-Testament a man might say so; much more may a poor soul now go unto Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, and say, That his Service, and his Duty, and Sacrifice, is accepted through him. Here is abundance of Comfort unto the Saints: be of good comfort, all you that do beleeve.
But, How doth this make unto our Holiness, [Quest.] unto Holiness of life? We confess indeed, that there is abundance of Comfort in this, That the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, takes all our Gifts, and al our Prayers, and presents them to God the Father, and that in his acceptance, we have acceptance: but I pray, how doth all this conduce to our Holiness of life?
Much every way: [Answ.]
First, In case I be Ungodly, a Wicked man: [unspec 1] Here is that that may for ever keep me, from opposition to the good wayes of God. I have said sometimes (may a wicked man say) concerning godly mens duties, That it was their Hy∣pocrisie: And I have said concerning such and such Pro∣fessors, This is your Pride, and this is your Singularity; and I have opposed with all bitterness, and earnestness, the prayings, and wrestlings of some of Gods people? But is Page 70this true, That the Lord Jesus Christ, takes every Prayer, of the meanest of Gods Children, and carries it into the bo∣som of God the Father? and shall I spit upon that that Christ owns? shall I dare to oppose that that the Lord Je∣sus Christ presents unto his Father? The Lord in mercy pardon me: I have sinned and done foolishly, and for ought I know, I may have spoken evill of that Duty, that Christ hath carried into the presence of God the Fa∣ther: Oh! through the Lords grace then, for ever will I leave to make any opposition, against any of the good waies of God again, and I will never speake one word a∣gainst the persons, meetings, or supplications of the god∣ly again.
Again, [unspec 2] In case a man be Ungodly, a wicked man: Here is mighty incouragement, for to come unto Jesus Christ; I, and to come presently. For, is Jesus Christ the ladder that Jacob saw, by whom we go up to Heaven? doth he take all our Duties, and Prayers, and present them to God the Father for acceptance? Then, till I do come to Christ, all is nothing, all is lost: if I be a Drunkard, and will not come to Christ, Prayer is all lost; if I be a Swea∣rer, and will not come to Christ, an Unclean wretch, and will not come to Christ; all my Prayers, and all my Du∣ties are lost: Oh! the Lord pity me, (may many a poor soul say) I have lost too many Prayers already; through the Lords grace, now I will lose no more: Oh! I come to Christ, Lord, I come, I come. This is a mighty incou∣ragement, to make every man now for to come unto Jesus Christ: because the Lord Jesus, our High-Priest, takes eve∣ry Duty; and carries it into the bosom. of God the Father for acceptance. Thus for Ungodly.
Secondly, [unspec 2] In case a man be Godly; this truth doth conduce to our further Holiness, and growth in grace.
If I be Codly: [unspec 1] Then here I see infinite reason, why I should be much in Duty; not only pray, but be much in prayer. Why? for the Lord Christ taketh all, and car∣ries all into the bosom of the Father, mingles his own o∣dours, Page 71intercessions with it, although it be but a sigh, and a groane. The Apostle upon this account, makes this use of it; having spoken of Christ our High-Priest; There∣fore (saith he) let us come with boldness vnto the Throne of grace.* The word signifies, to speak all ones mind; let us come speaking all. Having such an High-Priest indeed, as will carry all into the presence of God the Father, for accep∣tance, every sigh, and every groan; then, who would not be much in prayer? speak all to Christ, be free with Christ, come with boldness? There's many a poor soul, that is much discouraged, and he dares not go to prayer, many times, afraid to go to the Throne of grace. The reason is, because he looks upon his Prayer, or Duty, as it lies upon his own heart, or as it comes from himself. Whereas, my beloved, 'tis with your Prayers, and Duties, as it is with fire: Your kitchin fire is troubled with abundance of smoake, and there is filth about it; fire upon the hearth hath much smoake: but fire above, in the Element of fire, there's no smoke. So, your Prayer, when it lies upon your own hearth (as I may say) there's a great deal of smoke; but when it gets once into the hands of Jesus Christ, there's it's Element, and it is freed from all it's smoke. Or as it is with a mans Body: so long as he lives here upon the earth, he is feeble, and weak, and many times sickly: assoon as he is come into Heaven, all his weakness is taken away, and his body being in Heaven, 'tis presently glorified, and strength put upon it, and all his diseases are gone. So 'tis with our Prayers: So long as they are here below, in our own bosoms, they are full of weakness; but assoon as our Prayer is out of our mouth, 'tis in the hand of Christ, 'tis in Heaven, 'tis glorified, the weakness is now done away; Oh! 'tis a glorified Prayer; when once 'tis gone from you, 'tis in the hand of Christ. And therefore, this is a mighty incouragement unto all those that are godly, to be, not on∣ly in Prayer, but to be much in Prayer, come with bold∣ness unto the Throne of grace.
Again, If ye be Godly; yea, if ye be Ungodly: [unspec 2] Here I Page 72see infinite reason, why I should receive every Truth that comes from Christ, though accompanied with many fai∣lings in him that speaks it. The Lord Jesus Christ, he ac∣cepts of every prayer, and duty that comes from me; though it have many weaknesses: yea, he takes my Prayer, and car∣ries it into the presence of God the Father for acceptance, my poor Prayer, labouring with many weaknesses: Then when a Truth comes from Christ, shall not I accept of it? what though the Minister, or Preacher that speaks it, la∣bour with this or that weakness? There is Pride, or there is some miscarriage in the delivery, or the like: Shall the Lord Christ take my Prayer, labouring under infirmity, and accept thereof, and carry it into the presence of God the Father for acceptance, notwithstanding all the failings of my Duty? and shall not I accept of Truth that comes from Christ, notwithstanding all the failings of the poor messenger that brings it?
Further, [unspec 3] The more Evangelical you are in your Obedience, the more Holy ye are in your lives. This truth that is now before ye, well studied and considered, will make you more Obe∣dient in an Evangelical way. And ye shall find therefore, that the Lord himself from Heaven does make this use of it: pray consult with the 17. of Matthew, and the 5. verse. This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him. Those words follow, Hear him. Hearing notes Faith, and Obedience; not a bare Hearing with the ear. Compare this, and the same speech together, which ye have in the 3. of Matthew, and the 17. verse. Loe, a voyce from Heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Heare ye him, is not there in the 3. of Matthew; but here in the 17. of Matthew, these words are added, Heare ye him: What should the reason be, that, Hear ye him, should be added here in the 17. of Matthew, and not in the 3. of Mat. thew? Give me leave to give you some reason for it, so far as may make to our present purpose: Not to say any thing of that which Moses said, In his daies a Prophet will the Lord your God raise up unto ye like unto me, hear ye him. Page 73And now here, in this 17. of Matthew, at the transfigura∣tion, Moses and Elias appeared, which they did not in the 3. of Matthew.
First, Consider, [unspec 1] that the Emphasis may lie upon the word Hear, and not upon the word Him, only: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: Hear ye him; His face did shine as the Sun, and his rayment was white as the light. And Christ appeared in great glory, and they stood looking upon him; Nay, (saies the Lord from Hea∣ven) do not make it a gazing matter, but, Hear him: don't stand looking upon him, but Hear him. He don't appear in such a glory in the 3. of Matthew, when he was bapti∣zed; and therefore those words are not added there.
But again, Here now in the 17. Chapter of Matthew, [unspec 2] at the Transfiguration, appears Moses, and Elias. Behold (at the 3. verse) There appeared unto them, Moses and Elias talking with him. Moses that gave the Law; Elias that re∣stored it. Then answered Peter and said unto Jesus; Lord, 'tis good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here Three Taber∣nacles; one for Thee, and one for Moses and one for Elias. Peter and so the rest of the Disciples, began for to equallize Mo∣ses to Jesus Christ: One for Moses, and one for Elias, and one for Jesus Christ; no more for Christ than for Moses. Now the Lord takes Peter off from all his mistakings: Your eye is upon Moses (saith he) but I (saith the Lord God Al∣mighty) am wel pleased in my Son: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. I am well pleased with you, and with your Duties, through this my Son, and not through Moses; and therefore Hear Christ, and not Mo∣ses. He laies this in upon it, that therefore they should be Evangelical, and hear Jesus Christ, because the Lord Christ gives acceptance unto all, and by him God is well pleased with them.
Again further, The more glory Christ does appear in, [unspec 3] the greater reason there is why we should hear him. Now here the Lord Jesus Christ appeared in glory; his face did shine as the Sun, and his raiment was white as the light. In the 3. Page 74of Matthew, he was there baptized, and he did not appear in glory: but now here he appears in glory; and there∣fore saies the Lord, now Hear him; this is your glorious Saviour, Hear him. Beloved! what greater glory can Je∣sus Christ appear to your souls in, than this, the glory of his love? he takes every one of your Duties, and your Prayers, and he carries them in to the bosome of God the Father, and by him you have acceptance. Oh! what a glorious Saviour have ye! therefore Hear him: This is that, if any thing, will make ye very Obedient to Christ, more than to Moses, to be Evangelical in all your Du∣ties.
Yet further, [unspec 4] The more a man can rejoyce in spiritual priviled∣ges with humility: and the more humble a man is, and yet can re∣joyce in his spiritual priviledges, the more holy he is: there goes a great deal of Holiness to it, to joyn these two together: for a man to rejoyce in his spiritual priviledges and yet to be humble: and to walk very humbly. Some there are, that look upon ther spiritual priviledges, and rejoyce much; but they don't walk humbly: Some labour to walk humbly, and are much troubled in the considerati∣on of their own evil; but they don't rejoyce in their spiri∣tual priviledges. Give me a Christian that doth both, and he is a blessed man. The study of this Truth that is now before you, will teach you to do both, to do both to∣gether For, what a great priviledge is this, not a figh, not a groane, not a duty, but the Lord Christ takes it, and carries it in, and presents it to God the Father for me, whereby I have acceptance? Considering this; here is matter of much joy and rejoycing. I but, It is Christ that does it; there is no such worthiness in mine own duty; it were lost, and cast away, if Jesus Christ did not take it in his hand, and carry it into the bosome of God the Father; and therefore, why should I not walk humbly.
I conclude all with this, If that the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, offers up all our Gifts unto God the Father, whereby we have acceptance: What infinite Page 75cause have we all to be Thankful to God for Christ, and to love Jesus Christ for ever!
Suppose one of you had been among the Disciples, when the Lord Christ wash't his Disciples feet; and he should have come, and wash't your feet, and have done it; would not your heart have glowed with love to Jesus Christ? Yet when the Lord Jesus Christ wash't his Disciples feet, it was in the daies of his flesh, when he was here on the earth: but now he is in glory, and yet for all this, he takes your dirty prayers, and does (as it were) wash the feet of your prayers, that he may present them to God the Father: he washes your tears over again in his bloud, and presents them to God the Father: he takes all your Duties, and perfumes them with his intercessions, and so presents them unto God the Father. Oh! what cause have we to love Jesus Christ! Oh! you, that never loved Christ, love him now; and you that have loved him before, love him much more: you that fear the lord, love the Lord: and let us all, even go away with our hearts warmed with this love, blessing, and praising the Name of the Lord.
And thus I have led you into a Third work of our great Hight Priest, which is this, To offer up the Gifts of the people unto God the Father: A Fourth follows, &c.
HEBREWES 2.17, 18.
IT hath been opened and applied, that the work of the High-Priest, was, and is, To satisfie for the sins of the people; to make Intercession for them; and to offer up their Gifts unto God the Father; all which Christ doth for us.
I shall speak of one work more of our great High-Priest, and that is, To bless the people. We reade in the Old-Testament, of two sorts of High-Priests: One according to the order of Aaron, the Levitical High-Priest, (as I may so speak) and his work was, for to Bless the Peo∣ple; as we may reade in the 6. Chapter of Numbers, & the 23. verse: Speak unto Aaron, and unto his Sons, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the Children of Israel, saying unto them &c. There was another High-Priest; not according to this or∣der of Aaron; and that was Melchisedec: and he also did Blesse Abraham. And the Apostle speaking of him as a great Type of, and in relation to Jesus Christ our great High-Priest, Page 77in the 7. Chapter of this book of the Hebrews, and the 6. verse, saith, That he blessed Abrabam: But he whose de∣scent is not counted from them, received tithes of Abraham, and Blessed him that had the Promises. So then, this Blessing of the people, being the work of both the High-Priests; and both Aaron and Melchisedec being great types of Jesus Christ our High-Priest; Surely, it must needs be one of the great works of our High-Priest, for to blesse the people.
For the opening, and cleering up of this Truth, I shall endeavour to discover:
- First, What the Blessing of Christ our High-Priest is, where∣in consists, and what Christ doth when he doth Bless the people.
- Secondly, That it belongs unto Jesus Christ especially, for to Bless the people.
- Thirdly, That our Lord and Saviour Christ, our great High-Priest is exceeding willing for to Bless poor sinners; and that this Blessing of the people, is a work whereunto he is much inclined, and wherein he is much delighted.
- Fourthly, That he doth this, and doth it fully.
- Fifthly, according to our method: How all this doth con∣duce unto our Comfort, and unto our Holiness.
First If ye aske me, What the Blessing of Christ, [Quest. 1] and of the Gospel is; and wherein it consists?
I answer First in the General, That the Blessing of the Gos∣pel, [Answ.] and of Christ, consisteth in Spiritual things especially, and not in Temporal. And therefore saith the Apostle, in that 1. of the Ephesians, and the 3. verse: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us, with all Spiritual blessings, in Heavenly places in Christ. The Curse, and Judg∣ments of God, that do befal men now under the Gospel, are not in outward afflictions, and bodily troubles so much; as in Spiritual miseries, Blindness of mind, and Hardness of heart: And so also on the contrary, the bles∣sing of the Gospel, doth not consist much in Outward things, as in Spiritual, Who hath blessed us with Spiritual blessings. Indeed, if we look into the old Testament we Page 78shall find, That when Moses did bless the people, he blest them much in Temporal blessings. in the 28. of Deuterono∣my, and the 2. verse. All these things shall come upon thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God. What blessings are those? Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field: blessed shall be the fruit of thy bo∣dy, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattel, the in∣crease of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep: blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Thus he goes on in outward blessings. But now, if we look into the Gospel, and consider the bles∣sings of Jesus Christ, and lay them together with Moses, we shall find them to be Spiritual blessings. In the 5. of Mat∣thew, and the 3. verse, &c. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for their's is the Kingdom of Heaven: Blessed are those that mourn, for they sall be comforted. Indeed the promise of the earth comes is at the 5. vers; but he returns again to Spiritual blessings: Blessed are they which hunger and thirst after right∣ousness; for they shall be filled. Blessed are the pure in heart; for they shall see God. Here are Spiritual blessings; this is the stream of the Gospel, it runs this way. When the Lord blesseth a man, he gives him that which is sutable to him. In the times of the Gospel, men are more Spiritual than they were in the times of the Law; therefore Gospel-bles∣sings, they are Spiritual blessings. Every thing gives, and communicates to another, according to what it hath it self: The Sun communicates light unto the world; because it hath light it self: And man communicates the nature of man unto his child, because he hath the nature of man himself. So our Lord Christ, when he Blesses, he com∣municates according unto what he hath himself; and his blessings especially consisting in spiritual things, so he doth blesse. Indeed, as in the times of the Old Testament there were Spiritual blessings, that were mixt with Tempo∣ral, by vertue of the Covenant that was made with Abra∣ham: So now, Outward blessings are thrown in as an o∣verplus: but yet notwithstanding, though they be not spi∣ritual in their nature, they are spiritual in their end; and Page 79so it is true to say, That the blessing of the Gospel, and of Christ is a spiritual blessing.
But more particularly, if yet ask me wherein this consist∣eth? I shall name but Two things:
First, This Blessing of the Gospel, or of Christ, [unspec 1] it consists in a supernatural, and spiritual injoyment of God in Christ, the love and favour of God in Christ. When the Priests blest in the time of the old Testament, in that 6. of Numbers, they said, The Lord cause his face for to shine upon you. The Lord make his face for to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up his countenance upon thee: the Lord blesse thee, and keepe thee. Verse, 24, 25, 26. Which the Spostle Paul expounding, in the 2 Cor. the 13. Chapter and the 14. verse, renders it thus: The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. The Lord blesse thee, the Lord cause his face to shine upon you; the Lord lift up the light of his countenance upon you: Three times, the Lord, the Lord, the Lord; noting the Trinity; which the Apostle here explains by the Father, the Son, and the holy Spirit. Blessed are the pure in heart:*for they shall see God. Seeing of God, is a blessing out of the mouth of Christ, a Gospel-blessign. And what is it for a man to see God? In the phrase of the old Testament, the He∣brew, to See, it is ordinarily used for to Injoy. In the 4. Psalme. Who will shew us any good? The word in the He∣brew is, Who will make us to See any good? that is t In∣joy good. So then, to see God, it is to injoy him. When Jacob injoyed God, he saw him; and the place it was cal∣led, Peniel; for he had seen the Lord, and there the Lord blest him. There's no seeing of God but in Christ. And therefore I say, that herein confists the blessing of the Gos∣pel, in a supernatural, and spiritual in joyment of God in Christ, the favour and love of God in Christ.
Again, It consists also, [unspec 2] in the Inhabitation of the holy Ghost in our hearts: the giving out of the holy Ghost unto the hearts of men. And therefore it is added in that place of the Corin∣thians; And the Communion of the holy Ghost, be with you all.Page 80Amen. That must needs be the great blessing of the Gospel, and so of Christ; that is the thing promised in the Gospel. What is that? If we look into the 1. Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, and the 4. verse, It is said there of the Disci∣ples, That they should wait for the promise of the Father. Christ commaded them that they should not depart from Jerusa∣lem, but wait for the promise of the Father. What is that? We know what it was, and is, that which befel afterward; it was the giving out of the holy Ghost: the holy Ghost fell upon them, & this is called THE promise of the Father. That as in the times of the Old Testament, the promise was, the giving of the Son, and coming of the Second Person: So after Christ came, the great promise was, the coming of the Third Person, and the giving of the holy Ghost. When I am gone (saith Christ) I'le send ye another Comforter. He that beleeveth, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. This he spake concerning the Spirit, which was not yet given, in those extraordinary emanations of gists and graces, be∣cause he was not yet glorisied. So then, the great Blessing that was to be given unto the children of men, the great Gospel-blessing, was the giving out of the holy Ghost: this is a Gospel-blessing indeed.
Well, [Ques.] But what doth Christ do, when he doth Bless?
It's observable, [Answ. 1] that when any Superiour did Blesse; a father did blesse his child, or the like, he did observe what was the choice mercy, and good in those times, and he did wish that unto his child, or unto his inferiour. And so in Isaac, and Jacobs time; the choice good it was, The dew of Heaven: and when they did blesse their children, they wish't unto them the dew of Heaven. So now, when our Iord Jesus, our great High-Priest doth blesse any man; observing that the choice mercy of the Gospel, is the injoy∣ment of God in Christ, the favour and love of God, and the giving out of the holy Ghost into a mans heart; he doth wis all this good unto him, and he saies unto God the Fa∣ther; Lord, let this poor soul have thy favour; Oh! cause thy face to shine upon this poor soul, and give out the holy Ghost unto it that it may walk after the spirit.Page 81
In the Second place, It's observable, That when the Priests did Blesse the people, they did not barely wish good unto them, but they did Authoratatively pronounce them blessed.*They shall put my name upon them (saith the Lord) when they bless. So when the Lord Christ, our great High-Priest, doth Blesse a man, he does not barely wish him good, The Lord cause his face for to shine upon that soul, in a way of wishing: but the Lord Christ being a High-Priest, when he blesseth, he doth authoratatively pronounce such a soul to be Blessed.
Thirdly, When the Priest Blessed, [unspec 3] he did not only pro∣nounce the people Blessed: but in the Blessing of the Priest, there was a kind of Binding-power; it had the power, force, and efficacy of an Absolution. And therefore as Christ saies unto his Disciples, Go, and whosoever sins ye re∣mit, they shall be remitted: I'le stand by you in it. So saith the Lord in that same place, the 6. of Numbers. On this wise shall ye bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord blesse thee, and keep thee. and at the 27. verse, They shall put my Name upon the children of Israel, and I will blessethem. I'le stand by them in this. So when the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High-Priest, doth Blesse; he doth not only pro∣nounce a man to be Blessed, but he doth Absolve him from all his sins; & (saith he) by authority that is given to me from my father, the Keyes that are put into my hand, I do Bind this blessing upon this poor soul.
Further, The Priest when he blessed, [unspec 4] indeed he could wish well, and he could pronounce a man blessed; and he might Absolve: but he could go no further, he could not confer the Blessing, he could not bestow the Blessing: But our Lord Christ, being an High-Priest beyond all the High-Priests that ever were before him in this respect too; where he doth Blesse, he bestoweth the Blessing, being God and man, he bestoweth the Blessing.
In the Fifth place, This our great High-Priest, [unspec 5] being God and Man; look how God Blesseth, so doth he Blesse. In the Scripture, ye shall find, That when God the Father Page 82Blessed, he said unto those things that he blest, Increase and Multiply: still when he blest, Increase and Multiply. So the Lord Jesus Christ our High-Preist, when he comes to blesse, he doth not barely wish good unto a poor soul, or pronounce him blessed, or beslow a good thing upon him; but saith he, O soul, Multiply in this good; the Lord increase thy Graces, and thy Gifts, and thy Comforts; poor soul, Increase and Multiply herein. This the Lord Christ our great High-Priest doth. Thus it's cleer what the Blssing of the Gospel is, wherein it consists; and what our High-Priest doth, when he doth blesse the people.
But Secondly, [Quest. 2] Does this Blessing properly, or specially belong unto Jesus Christ?
Yes,Answ. For he was made a curse for sin; he and none else made a curse for sin: and therefore it belongs unto him a∣bove all the world for to blesse. For look what evil Jesus Christ endured, the contrary good he merited for the chil∣dren of men, a power to bestow that good. Now he above all was cursed, hung upon the Crosse, and died a cursed death, he was made a curse; therefore it belongs unto him above all for to give the blessing, for to blesse poor sinners. Primum in quolibet genere &c. The first in every kind is the cause of the rest. The Sun is the cause of all the light we have here below, and 'tis the first light body. And the Lord Jesus Christ, he is the first blessing: Therefore hath they God blest thee for ever. There are Three that we reade of in Scripture especially that did blesse: The Father, the King, and the Priest: The Father did blesse his Children; the King blest his Subjects, and the Priest blest the People. Now the Lord Jesus Christ He is our Father, The Everlasting Father; He is our King, I will set my King upon my holy hill; And he is our great High-Priest: and therefore, all these relations meeting in him, it belongs unto him above all for to blesse the people.
But is the Lord Jesus Christ Willing for to Blesse poor sinners, [Quest. 3] and inclin'd unto it?
Yes, [Answ.] He is very Willing: this blessing of the people, it Page 83is a work whereunto he is much inclin'd, and wherein he is most delighted. Ye shall observe therefore, what abun∣dance of blessings Christ scattered among the people when he was here upon the earth. Ye don't reade that ever he cursed any man, formally cursed him: Once indeed, he pronounced a Curse, but it fell upon a barren fig-tree, not upon a man: But take your Bibles, and turne over from leaf to leaf, and see how frequent he was in blessing: and consider whether you do reade in al the Bible, of any Prea∣cher, or Prophet, that ever in the way of their preaching, pronounced so many Blessings as Christ did? He begins blessing, Blessed are the poor; and Blessed are those that mourn; and Blessed are those that hunger and thirst; and Blessed are those that are persecuted for my Names sake: Blessed are those that hear the Word of God and keep it: He took little children into his arms and Blest them. Do but mark in all the Gospel, how fre∣quent Christ was in Blessing, never in Cursing; more fre∣quent in blessing, than ever any Preacher was in all his Ser∣mons: What's the reason of this? Because this work of Blessing the people, is a work wherein the Lord Jesus Christ our High-Priest, is much delighted, a work whereunto he is most in clined.
Well, But doth he do it? [Quest. 4]
Yes, He doth do it, and doth it fully. [Answ.] The same place that I named will prove it, the 1. of the Ephesians, and the 3. verse, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in beavenly places IN Christ. Nor only meritoriously, but by the hand of Christ. And (saith he) He hath done it: with all spiritu∣al blessings, and he hath done it by Jesus Christ.
You will say, We don't see that men are thus blest by Christ:*for where Christ blesseth, he doth not only wish well, and good unto a wan, but he bestoweth it, yea, he doth not only bestow good, but he doth increase and multiply; But upon this account, how few are there in the world that are blest by Christ!
For Answer, [Answ. 1] It is a hard thing (sometimes) unto a Christian for to discern-this Blessing of Christ. Ye can see the Boughs, Page 84Fruit, Body, Bark of the Tree; but if ye will see the Root, ye must dig, and take pains for to see it: it's an easie thing to see the Leaves, &c. but if you would see the Root, ye must dig and take pains for it. This Blessing of Jesus Christ, it is the Root of all; and if you will see this, you must dig and take pains to see it, it does not lie open to every ones view. The Lord Jesus Christ our High-Priest, does not Blesse as man blesses; and so his Blessing is very much hid∣den from our eyes; he does not blesse as we do; he does not bless as the world does: if the world sees a Rich man, it pronounces him blessed: Oh! there's a blessed man, and there's a happy man! what an excellent Dwelling hath he, how healthful! his Table is spread &c. The world blesses Rich men, pronounces them Happy and blessed. But our Lord Jesus Christ, he does as Jacob did; when Joseph brought his two Sons to Jacob to be blest by him; he set Ephraim the younger at the left hand of Jacob; and he set Manasses the elder at the right hand of Jacob; that Jacob might give the right-hand blessing to the Elder, and the left-hand bles∣sing to the Younger: but when Joseph had set them thus before Jacob, Jacob crosses hands, and he turns the right-hand blessing to the Younger. So, two men are brought before Christ; a Rich man (it may be) and a Poor man: and in the eye of the world, the Rich man must carry the blessing: Oh! but our Lord Christ, he crosses hands, and he laies the blessing upon the younger brother many times. And so in regard of Ordinances. Two sorts of Ordinances are brought before Christ; Gods Ordinance, and Mans Ordinance; and Mans Ordinance, in the eye of the world, is the Elder brother, and Gods Ordinance the Younger brother; and both these are brought before Christ for a blessing, and the Ordinance of Man is set at the right hand of Christ by the world; but the Lord Christ, he crosses hands, and he laies the blessing upon the younger brother in this respect. And so, two men are brought before him; a proud Pharisee, and a poor broken-hearted sinner; the Pharisee comes unto the right-hand of Christ, & thinks for Page 85to carry the blessing: but the Lord Christ, crosses hands, & laies the right-hand blessing upon the poor broken-hearted sinner, and passes by the proud Pharisee. The Lord Christ doth not blesse as the world blesseth.
Again, As he doth not Bless as the World Blesseth, [Answ. 2] so he doth not Bless alwaies as Professors Bless. Professors, they do ordinari∣ly Blesse men, according unto their outward Priviledges, Gospel, and Church-Priviledges: Oh! saies the woman unto Christ, Blessed is the womb that bare thee: and blessed are the paps that gave thee suck. Christ crosses hands. Nay but (saies Christ) Blessed are those that hear the word of God, and keep it, and do my Commandements. You blesse according to Outward Priviledges; I don't go that way of blessing, saies Christ: He does not blesse as Professors blesse al∣waies.
Thirdly, He does not blesse as Godly men do blesse alwaies; [Answ. 3] as Gracious men blesse, not alwaies. For, you that are Godly, you pronounce such a man blessed, as hath much Grace, and hath Assurance of the love of God in Christ; and one that hath strong, and great Parts, and able to carry away whole Sermons word for word; and of strong Memory, and large Gifts, that are head and shoulders above their fellows: But the Lord Jesus Christ does not alwaies blesse thus: Blessed are the poor in spirit, saies he. Blessed are those that mourn. He don't say, Blessed are those that rejoyce; or, Blessed are those that have the Assurance of Gods love; or, Blessed are those that are strong in grace: No, but do∣est thou know a poor, weak Christian, a mourning soul like a dove of the vallies; saies the Lord, I blesse him.
Thus I say, the Lord Jesus Christ our great High-Priest, he does not Blesse as We blesse; he does not blesse as the World blesses; he does not blesse alwaies as Professors blesse; he does not blesse alwaies as Godly men Blesse; and therefore no wonder that his Blessing is hidden. Chil∣dren when they are very young, are often blest by their Pa∣rents, and they don't mind it, or take notice of it; chil∣dren of two or three year old: And so it is with many a Page 86gracious soul, blessed by Jesus Christ, and don't take no∣tice of their fathers blessing. But the Lord Christ doth al∣waies blesse his people; only, there are several times, speci∣all seasons that he gives out his blessing: let me tell ye of those times a little, that so ye may come for his blessing while his hand is in, as it were: so that you may be crow∣ned with spiritual blessings in and from Jesus Christ.
First, [unspec 1] When Christ our High-Priest doth see that a man is weak in Grace, or weak in Gifts, and hath some work, or service for him to do, some imployment to call him forth unto; then the Lord Christ doth Blesse him. There are Two times especially (as I remember) that the Lord speaks those words concerning man, Increase and Multiply. Once in the beginning, when he had made man and woman; And once in the 9. of Genesis, when he had brought Noah out of the Ark: Why does he rather choose for to speak those words, Increase and Multiply, at these Two times especially, rather than at any other time? In the beginning there was but a little stook of man-kind, and the Lord had a design upon man, to make use of him in the world; and therefore in the beginning saies he, Increase and Multiply: but afterward, that the floud had swept away man, Noah and his family being pre∣served, when he came out of the Ark, the Lord having yet a further design upon man, to use him, he reneweth those words again, Increase and Multiply. So when the Lord Christ sees, that a mans heart is upright, and sincere with him, and he hath some work and service for him to do, then the Lord comes forth and blesses him; O soul, Increase and Multiply, increase in thy Gifts, and Graces, and Multiply. That is one.
Again, [unspec 2] As the Lord doth blesse weak Gifts, and Graces, when he intends to use them: so also, when as he hath made use of a man; when a man hath done the work of God, and done it to purpose, then the Lord blesses that man. Melchisedec, a great Type of Christ, here when Abraham had been upon a great service, slaying Kings, and resoued Lot, then Melchisedec the High-Priest▪ comes forth and blesses him. So when the Lord Je∣sus Page 87Christ our great High-Priest, sees that a poor soul hath been upon his work, upon his service, and hath done his work faithfully; then he comes forth and blesses that soul, O soul, live for ever.
Again, As he does blesse at this time, [unspec 3] when a man hath done his work; so also, when a man is willing for to leave all his Relations, and natural ingagements for to follow him, to cleave close unto him, and to his waies, and ordi∣nances. The Lord blessed Abraham, Thou shalt be blessed. In Blessing I will Blesse thee, and thou shalt be blessed. Upon what occasion? Abraham (saies he) get thee out of thy Coun∣try, and go to a land, and place that I will shew thee. and Abra∣ham did so, Abraham puld up his Tent, and went after the Lord, and left his own Relations: and thereupon the Lord fell upon him, and blest him. So when the Lord Christ our High-Priest, sees a soul willing, even to trample upon his Relations for to follow him; willing to leave all natu∣ral ingagements for to be his servant; then the Lord Christ comes out, and saies he, This soul do I blesse: In blessing I will blesse thee, and I will blesse thee exceedingly. That is a Third time.
Fourthly, The Lord Christ our High-Priest, does blesse, [unspec 4] when the world Curses. a speciall time of Christs blessing is, when the world Curses. When Rabshekah reviled, blasphemed and Cursed, then God blest. When Balak hired Balaam for to Curse the people of Israel, then the Lord blest them by the mouth of Balaam himself. And ye see what Christ saies to this purpose, in that same 5. chapter of Matthew, at the 10. verse. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousnesse sake: But when are they blessed? Blessed are ye when men shall re∣vile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsly for my sake. Blessed are ye when men shall persecute you. I but, suppose it don't come to a bodily persecution, men may not be thrown in prison, or brought to the stake. Saies he, Blessed are ye when men shall Revile, persecute you with the tongue, and say all manner of evil against you for my sake. When the world saies of such a poor soul, That he is Page 88an Hypocrite, a dissembler, and speaks all manner of evil that can be divised against a poore soule for the Name of Christ; that is the very time, that Christ comes for to bless that soule, then doth Christ blesse; it's a blessed sea∣son.
In the Fift place, [unspec 5] The Lord Christ does also Bless, when as Peo∣ple do graciously injoy the Ordinances, purely, and Evangelically administred. It is said concerning Zion, There command∣ed he his blessing for ever,*Blessed are the people that hear the joyful sound: they shall walk in the light of his countenance. It is written of the Priests in the times of the Old-Testament, that when the people, the Congregation were come toge∣ther, they blest them: when the People were come toge∣ther, for the injoyment of Ordinances according to Gods own appointment, then the Priests blest them. And did their High-Priest blesse them then? and shall not our High Priest do it now? Did their High-Priest blesse them when they sate under Mosaical Ordinances? and shall not our High-Priest blesse the people that sit under Evangelical, and Gospel-Ordinances purely, & Evangelically administred? The people then might make account of the greatest bles∣sing; and so may you do also, of the blessing of Jesus Christ when thus you do enjoy Ordinances. Only there is this difference: (other differences there are, but this only I shall speak of) Then the Priest did blesse the people when the Congregation was dismist: but now, the Lord Jesus Christ our great High-Priest, he is blessing of the Congre∣gation all the while; he is going up and down in the Con∣gregation all the while that the Word is preached, and Ordinances administred, and he is blessing poor souls, as they sit longing after him, and sighing towards him; he is blessing of them all the while. Thus he does blesse, and though you don't alwaies perceive it, yet he doth blesse his people. [Quest. 5] And that's the Fourth thing.
But yet you will say, How does all this conduce unto our Comfort, [Answ.] and unto our Holiness?
Much every way:Page 89
First for Comfort, Beloved, Is it not a Comfortable thing to be blessed by Jesus Christ? Children counted it a great matter to be blest by their parents. when as Jacob had got∣ten the Blessing from Esau; Esau goes and fits down, and mourns, he could not be comforted because the blessing was gone: and Jacob, though he were thrust out of doors, yet because he had gotten the Blessing, he went away cheer∣full; and it was but an Isaac's Blessing. But behold a greater then Isaac is here! Oh! was it such a matter to have an Isaac's Blessing? what is it then to be Blessed by Jesus Christ? Beloved! when as Christ doth bless, he turns all our Curses into Blessings, and our Miseries into Mercies. When God Curses, he turns our Table into a Snare: and when Christ Blesseth, he turnes our snare in∣to a Table, quite contrary. Jacob pronounced a Curse upon his two sons, Simeon and Levi (you know upon what occasion) They should be divided and scattered in Israel: afterward the Tribe of Levi stands up at the cōmandement of God to execute Justice & Judgment, & the Lord blest them: And how did he bless them? They were to be the Preachers unto all the Tribes; and so that they might be Preachers unto all the Tribes, they were to be scattered into all the tribes, & so Jacobs curse was turned into a blessing to them.
Is it not a Comfortable thing, for a man to have all his Cursers, to be Blessers? It's a Comfortable thing, for all a mans Cur∣ses, to become Blessings: But now I say, it's a Comfortable thing, for al a mans Cursers, to be Blesters to him. Whē the Lord Christ Blesses, he will make mens Cursers, whether they wil or no, (in the day of their visitation at least) for to Bless. Ye know that Balaam would have Cursed Israel, but the Lord had blest them. Balaam got upō a high mountain, and from thence he would have Cursed Israel, but it would not be. Then he gets upon another high Mountain, & from thence he would have Cursed Israel, but it would not be. Then he gets upon another high Mountain: thinking that would have done it, and from thence he would have Cur∣sed Israel, but that would not do it. Oh! saies he, The Page 90Lord hath seene no iniquity in Israel, and therefore he Blesses them: the Curse is turned into a Blessing: So there are ma∣ny that deale thus by the people of God in these daies: They get upon such a high Mountain, such a great and high means, and they think to Curse the people of God from thence, but it won't be. Then they get upon ano∣ther Mountain, another means, thinking from thence to Curse the people of God, but it will not be. Then they get upon another high Mountain or hill, and think then to Curse the people of God, and do them mischief, but it will not do it. Why? for the Lord Christ sees no iniqui∣ty, the Lord Christ hath blest them: and so at last, in the day of wicked mens visitation, they are forced to say, These are the people of God, and these are Blessed, and shall be blessed. We know what is said in the Scripture, The blessing of the Lord maketh rich: and he addeth no sorrow therewithal. Is it not a good thing then, to be blest by Christ? If a man be blessed by Jesus Christ, he may blesse himself in the Lord, and he may comfort himself in every Condition, and he may say thus, Well, though I be a Poor man, yet I am blest by Christ: And though my Estate be sunk, and decai∣ed, yet I am blest by Christ: And though I be reproached, and hated by men, yet I am blessed by Jesus Christ; a man may comfort himself in every condition.
But you will say, [Object.] Indeed if a man be assured that Christ hath blest him, he may do thus; but I am afraid that Christ hath not blest me, or that he is not willing to bless me: if I could be assured, that this great High-Priest, had once laid his hand, his blessing∣hand upon me, I should have comfort in all conditions.
Give me leave to lay Two or Three things before you concerning this. [Answ.]
First, [unspec 1] When the Lord blest Abraham, he said unto him, In thee, and thy seed shall all Nations be Blest. It's a sign unto Abraham, that he was blest, because others were blessed by him. So now, when a mans Parts, Gifts, Graces, and Comforts are blessings to others, it is an argument that that man is blest himself.Page 91
Further, When a man is blessed by God, or Christ; [unspec 2] he is drawn nearer to God by all outward things, by all things: Come ye Blessed, Go ye Cursed. Blessing hath an attractive Nature, Come ye Blessed: when the Lord Christ does bless a man, he does draw him, Come ye Blessed. When a man is brought nearer to God by Affliction, he is blessed: when a man is brought nearer to God by his Estate, by any Comfort, by any Sorrow, here is blessing, Come ye Blessed. Blessing draws one nearer to God with a cord of love.
Thirdly, Where the Lord does Bless, he does cause a man to Increase and Multiply, in that thing wherein he is Blest. [unspec 3] Increa∣sing and Multiplying, is so natural unto Blessing, that in the Original tongues of the old and new Testament, Plenty is put for Blessing. I will give you but one clear place for it in the new Testament, the 2 Cor. 9. Chapter, 5. verse. Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go before unto ye, and make up before hand your Bounty. The word is, your Blessing. Where∣of you had notice before; that the same might be ready as a matter of Bounty. The word is, as a matter of Blessing. But especially in the next verse. But this I say, he which sow∣eth sparingly, shal reap sparingly: and he which soweth bountifully, shall reap bountifully. And he which soweth with Blessing (as it is in the Original) shall reap with Blessing: And here 'tis opposed to Sparingly, and translated Bounti∣fully. Where the Lord does blesse, he does alwaies cause a man to Increase and Multiply.
Now beloved in the Lord, I appeal unto all your souls, you that make this Objection, that are afraid the Lord Christ hath not blest you as your High-Priest, hath not laid his hand upon you, and blest you: yet don't ye know more of Christ than ye have known before? hath not the hidden truths of the Gospel been increased and multiplied upon your hearts? hath not your hearts been brought nee∣rer to God by Affliction? hath not your souls been drawn neerer to God by his outward dealings with you? And as Abraham was therefore blest, because he was made a bles∣sing Page 92to others: So I appeal to ye, have not your Parts, Gifts, and Graces, in some measure been blessings unto others, e∣ven unto your poor Family, and unto others also? Then be of good Comfort (man or woman) where ever thou stand'st, the Lord Christ hath blest thee, and thou shalt be blessed, hold up thy head poor blessed soul, the Lord Jesus hath blest thee: when the Lord did lay this blessing upon thee, I cannot till thee, but I find thee a blessed man, stay thy self upon the Lord, cheer up thy drooping heart, thou art a blessed soul.
But you will say, [Quest.] How does this make unto our Holiness? I confess this is a very Comfortable Cordial, That the Lord Jesus Christ is in office to bless poor sinners; but how does this conduce unto our Holinesse?
Very much: [Answ.] This holds forth great incouragement, unto all poor sinners for to come to Christ, and to come without delay. Why? Once come to Christ and blessed; but without Christ and Cursed: an enemy to Jesus Christ and a Cursed man: Cursed in thy store-house: Cur∣sed in thy basket; and Cursed in all things that thou puttest thine hand unto. Oh! then, will you not come to Christ, that you may be Blessed: That day that a poor soul comes unto Christ, whatever he hath been he is blessed: that day may be called Gilgal, for then the Curse is rouled away from him. Blessed is the man whose ini∣quity is forgiven, and whose sin is pardoned. The first day, the first minute that he comes to Christ, his sin is pardoned, and he is blessed. Who would not then come unto Christ presently, that he may be blest for ever? When as Esan had sold his Birth-right for a mess of pottage, the Lord look't upon him as a Prophane man, and he stands upon record in Scripture for a Prophane man unto this day, because he sold his Birth-right. And saies the text, Though he sought the Blessing (it was a blessing) with tears, he never recovered it. The Lord Jesus Christ, he is now among us, and offering to bless us; and if I will rather keep my sins than come un∣to Jesus Christ, the Lord will look upon me as a Prophane Page 93man; and I may go and seek the blessing with tears, and never recover it again. Oh! here's that (me thinks) that should make every wicked man; if there be ever a Drun∣kard, Swearer, or Unclean wanton that reades this book, mind what is said for your Everlasting peace: I say, here's that (me thinks) that should make every wicked man, to look upon the Godly, as David did upon the sparrows, and upon the swallows: Saies David, These birds full nigh thine Altar may, have place to sit and sing: as ye have it in your singing Psalms. These birds can come and make their nests; but as for me, I am kept at a distance: He was provo∣ked by the sparrows, and swallows making their nests neer the Altar. So may a wicked man say, There's a god∣ly man indeed, he may go to Jesus Christ, he may go to Pra∣yer, and he may offer up his Gift to God the Father by the hands of Christ, he can come neer to God by Christ: But as for me, I am yet without Christ, I am not yet gone to Je∣sus Christ; I am such a cursed Swearer, I am such a pro∣phane Drunkard, I am such a vile, wretched Wanton, such a Notorious, Scandelous sinner: Oh! these people are blessed, but I am Cursed, but now through the Lords grace I will go unto the Lord Christ that I may be blessed.
Yea, My beloved, here is (me thinks) a strong Invitati∣on, unto all those that are young people for to come unto Jesus Christ: even those that are very young. Hear the word of the Lord ye Children. The Lord Jesus Christ re∣ceived Children into his armes, and he blest them. You that are nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, or fif∣teen years old; you can be solicitous for your fathers bles∣sing, and have gone down upon your knees often unto your father, and you have said, Pray father, pray to God to bless me. Oh! will ye go to your outward father for his blessing? and will ye not go unto Jesus Christ? He is an Everlasting Father, this your earthly father will be dead erelong; He is an Everlasting father (children) and he is able to bless ye, and willing to bless ye. Have ye gone Page 94down upon your knees to your outward father? Oh! chil∣dren, down, down upon your knees before the Lord Jesus Chrit, and go to him for his blssing. Some of you (it may be) never went yet to Christ for his blessing; ye have lived so many yeers, ten, eleven, or twelve yeers, and ne∣ver went to Christ as a High-Priest, for his blessing all this while: Oh! what a mighty incouragement is here unto all men to come to Christ, that they may be blessed by him.
But yet further, [unspec 2] As there is an incouragement for to come unto Christ: So this argument does also incourage us to go on in the good waies of Christ, notwithstanding all opposition that we meet withall: (I say) it does speak incouragement, to go on in the face of all opposition. For when Abraham had been at battel, then came Melchisedec the High-Priest to bless him: And when a poor soul goes out to battel for Christ, then comes our great Melchisedec, our High-Priest, and blesses that soul. The time of opposition, it is the time of Christs blessing. Therefore, why should I be dil∣couraged, or beaten out of the way of Christ, by reason of any opposition, though it be never so great? Times of op∣position are Christs blessing-time.
Again, [unspec 3] This argument, does not only speak incourage∣ment against all oppsition: But it does also incourage us to go on in the good waies of God when we are called unto it, though we have but little strength, and weak parts. Though there be but little oyle in the Cruse, though there be but little meal in the barrel, if Christ call to the work, he will bless a man in it: and when Christ blesses, he does multiply and in∣crease a mans parts in the using of them. As when he com∣manded them to sit down, and eat, he did multiply, and in∣crease the bread in their eating: So now, does Christ call me to any work or service, well then, though I am weak, though I have not oyle enough, though I have not meal e∣nough, though I have not strenght enough; yet the Lord Christ will bless, and when he blesses, he does increase and multiply: and therefore, why should I not go on upon his Page 95work, if he do call mee thereunto, though I have never so little strength.
And yet further, If all this be true: [unspec 4] Why should not a man be contented with his condition, though it be never so mean? Beloved in the Lord! is there not enough in Christs blessing? Truly, He is too covetous, whom the blessing of Christ will not satisfie. Well, what ever my condition be, yet I may be blessed by Jesus Christ; and hath the Lord blest me? then will I be contented with my Condition, though it be never so mean, I have-All, as Jacob oncesaid, I have All.
Yea in the Fift and last place: Here is that, [unspec 5] (which if wel studied and considered) will provoke us all for to bless the Lord, and continually to blesse the Lord! What is the life of a Christian here, but a continuall blessing of God? 'tis Heaven begun: and in Heaven, they do nothing else, but blesse and praise the Lord; and, I say, our life here, is Heaven begun: and therefore a Christian should be alwaies blessing and praising the Lord.
Well, But what will make a man to be alwaies Blessing, [Quest.] and Praising of God in Christ?
The knowledge that a man is blessed by Christ, [Answ.] wil make a man blesse God for Christ. And therefore consider how the Apostle reasons, in the 1. of the Ephesians, & the 3. vers. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: Why? Who hath blessed ƲS. When once a man can come to this, for to say, That the Lord Christ hath blest him; then he will break forth into blessing and praising of the Lord; Oh! Blessed be the Lord: Blesse the Lord, O my soul; & blesse the Lord all that is within me: For the Lord hath blessed me with spiritual blessings. Do you therefore de∣sire to be alwaies in this work of blessing the Lord? think much of this.
To conclude al; give me leave to cal upon you, to remem∣ber what ye have read. Ye have read, That it is the work of our great High-Priest, To Satisfie for the sins of the people. To answer unto all Accusations that are brought against them: To Page 96offer up all our Prayers, and Gifts vnto God the Father: And to Bless poor souls. Now then beloved, according to all your Wants, and according to all your Temptations; I do be∣seech you in the Lord, Go to Jesus Christ, unto this High-Priest; try and see if you don't find it true, That the Lord does make good all this unto you. In case that you be un∣der any spiritual Want, or Temptation; put your souls unto this Disjunction: Come, O my soule, Either the Lord Jesus Christ is our great High-Friest; or else he is not: If he be not, what means this and that Scripture? And if the Lord Jesus Christ be our great High-Priest; then sure∣ly he being faithful, will do all the work of the High-Priest for my soul. Indeed I have sinned, and sinned greatly; but O Lord, it is the work of our High-Priest to Satisfie: Now, Lord Jesus, I come to thee as mine High-Priest, Oh! Satisfie for me. Indeed, I confesse, mine own Conscience does Accuse me, Satan does Accuse me, Moses does Accuse me: but it is the work of our great High-Priest, to take off all Accusations brought against poor beleevers: Now Lord, I do come unto thee, as to my great High-Priest, Oh! take off this Accusation that any poor soul does labour under. Indeed, when I look upon mine own Duties; there is so much deadness, so much hardness of heart, and so many distractions that do accompany them, that I am a∣fraid they will never be accepted: but, O Lord, it is the work of our great High-Priest, to take away the weeds of the Duty, and to present the Duty; now O Lord, I come unto thee as mine High-Priest, Oh! carry my Prayers into the bosom of God the Father. Yea, when I look upon my former life, Lord, I cannot but conclude my self, a poor cursed finner: but yet notwithstanding, it is the work of our great High-Priest, for to blesse the people: O Lord, I do therefore now come unto thee as mine High-Priest, Oh! blesse me, and say unto all my graces, Increase and Multiply.
SATANS Power to tempt; AND CHRISTS love to, and care of his people under temptation.
THE Scope and Drift of this Epistle, is to raise and strengthen the faith of the He∣brewes, and so the faith of those that are weak in grace. Our Apostle Paul there∣fore (whom I take to be the Pen-man) labours to discover the transcendent Ex∣cellency of Jesus Christ, with his love and good-will to the Children of men. And because his Ex∣cellencies, were either such as relate his Person; or such as re∣late his Offices, of King, Priest, & Prophet: He tels us in the Page 98first Chapter, that for the Personal Excellencies of Jesus Christ; He is the Son of God; Heire of all things; by whom were the Worlds made: being the brightness of his Fathers glory, and the express Image of his Person, in the 2, & 3. verses of that Chapters. That he is far above the Angels, at the 4. verse. That he is God himself, at the 6. verse. And as for those ex∣cellencies that relate his Offices: He tels us at the 1. verse, That he is the Prophet of Prophets. That he is the great King, at the 8. verse. That he is an High-Priest, in the 2. Chap. and the 17. verse: and therefore who would not trust unto him, and take heed unto such things are he shall speak unto them. And as for the love, and good-will that he bears unto the Children of men; the Apostle speaks it out in all this Se∣cond Chapter.
The greater Condeseention in the person loving, to the person loved, the greater is the love. Now though Jesus Christ be Heir of all things; and had all things put under his feet; far above all Angels: yet notwithstanding, at the 7. verse, He is made a little lower than the Angels, takes our na∣ture upon him, &c.
The more Profitable any love is, to the person loved, the greater is the love. Such is the love of Christ; for his love is such, That by him many sons are brought to glory, at the 10. verse. Sanctified while they live, at the 11. verse. Satan their deadly enemy subdued for them, at the 14, & 15: verses.
The more Distinguishing any love is, the greater is that love. Now Jesus Christ, as the great Load-stone, passes by the golden mettel of Angels, and draws unto himself the Iron-mettal of man kind, at the 16. verse: For verily, he took not on him the nature of Angels; but he took on him the seed of A∣braham.
Again, The more the person loving, does Suffer for the person loved, the more and the greater is the love. Christ suffered death, and he was while he lived subject to our in∣firmities, and unto our temptations: He was in all thing made like unto us, at the 17. verse. And he was tempted as we are tempted, that he might succour those that are tempted, at the 18. verse.Page 99
And would you have an Account, or a Reason of all this? it is, that he might shew mercy unto the children of men, verse the 17. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faith∣ful High-Priest, in things partaining to God, to make reconciliati∣on for the sins of the people. If he were not made like unto us in regard of our infirmities, he could not so experimental∣ly pity us under our infirmities: If he were not tempted like unto us, he could not so feelingly succour us under our temptation; and so he had not been so fit to have benn our High-Priest: but our High-Priest he is gone into the holy of holiest, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto us, that he might be a merciful and faithful High-Priest: For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, be is able to suc∣cour them that are tempted,
I will not hold you longer in the Coherence, or Divisi∣on of the words, or further Explication: I shall open the words (God willing) more particularly, and distinctly, as I shall come to the Observations that shall be raised from them. And I begin with the last, being made the reason of the former. For in that he him self hath suffered being temp∣ted, he is able to succour them that are tempted. Tempted twice: He tempted, and They tempted.
This word Tempted, or Tempt; it is given in Scripture phrase, sometimes to God, sometimes to Man, and some∣times to the Devil; and accordingly it is used Three waies: Sometimes it is used for to Prove; and so God is said for to Tempt, in the 13. of Deuteronomy. Sometimes it is used for to Try, to make experiment of a Thing, or a Person, whom or which we did not know before; and so it is given to Man (as I take it) in the 6. of Judges. Sometimes it is used for a So∣licitation, and Drawing unto what is evil; and so it is given unto the Devil, in the 4. of Matthew, Christ was led into the axilderness to be tempted. If ye look into the Scripture, ye don't find in all the old Testament, that the word Tempta∣tion is given to Satan, that Satan was said to Tempt any: Page 100Satan did frequently Tempt, we reade in the old Testament; but I say, the word Tempt is not given unto him. Satan tempted Job, but Job's afflictions in the old Testament, are not called Satans temptations. As our Lord and Saviour Christ in the old Testament was Vail'd, the old Testament was full of Christ, yet Christ was hidden there: So was Satan and his temptations mask't. Now when the light of the glorious Gospel shined more cleerly in the comming of Jesus Christ, as Christs vail was taken off, so Satans Mask was taken off; Satans temptations are no longer cal∣led afflictions, but bare Temptations, throughout the new-Testament. Indeed, this word Temptation, in the phrase of the new Testament, is used sometimes for Afflicti∣on; Sometimes for Satans Suggestions; sometimes for our own Sins. Temptation used for our Afflictions: in the 1. of James, 2. verse, Rejoyce when ye fall into divers temptations. That is, Afflictions. Sometimes for the Devils suggestions, Solicitations to evil. So in the 4. of Matthew, Christ is led in∣to the wilderness to be tempted. Sometimes for our own sins. Galatians the 6 chapter, and the 1. verse. If any man be over∣taken with an infirmity, you that are spiritual, restore him, consi∣dering that you also may be tempted. Now though our Savi∣our Christ is said to be Tempted, in the two first respects, and not in the third; yet when it is said here in the text, He himself hath suffered being tempted; I take it to be meant in the second way, not the first: for otherwise, there would be an identity thus: He himself hath suffered; having suffered; that would be the sense of it else. And though we our selves are said to be tempted in all three respects, In regard of Afflictions, Satans Suggestions, and our own Cor∣ruptions, and Sins; yet when it is said in the latter end of the verse, He is able to succour them that are tempted; I take it to be meant especially in he two last respects, and not in the first: for it hath relation unto that which goes before the last verse being a reason of the latter end of the 17. vers. To make reconciliation for the sins of the people, for in that he him∣self hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succovr them that Page 101are tempted. Hence the Observation that I shall present un∣to you is only this.
That God doth suffer his own Servants, and dearest Children, [Doct.] to be sorely tempted. Yea, even to suffer by the hand of the temp∣tation.
Our Lord and Saviour Christ, the Son of God, the only Beloved Son of God, yet saith the text, He himself hath suffered being tempted: not only tempted, but suffered being tempted. And it is said, of his Brethren, (for so his people are called, in the beginning of the 17. verse) that they are tempted: He is able to succour them that are tempted. Succou∣ring presupposeth suffering.
For the opening, and clearing of this Truth, I shall de∣liver my self these Three waies.
First, That there is a suffering, Afflictive disposition in every Temptation, though it don't prevail.
Secondly, That the Saints and People of God do thus suffer, and why?
Thirdly, Answer to an Objection; and so come to the Ap∣plication.
First, There is a Vexing, Corroding, [unspec 1] Afflictive disposition in every temptation, when it takes least, though it do not prevaile These Granadoes, fire-bals, fire-darts of Satan have a dan∣ger with them; though they do not burn down our spiri∣tual building to the ground, they are afflictive, there is somewhat of a suffering with them. Paul cals his buffetings, a thorn, or a prick in the flesh: a Buffetting and therefore Af∣flictive; a thorn, or a prick in the flesh, and therefore Affli∣ctive. Notable is that expression which our Saviour Christ useth, in the 22. of Luke, at the 31. verse, to Peter. Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. There is never a word here, but carries a suffering with it. It is some affliction, to have so great an Adversa∣ry as an Angel is, who is great in Power; the Devil is cal∣led an Angel, and he is called Satan, that is an Adversa∣ry. [Satan hath desired] the word that is used there, Desired,* it is not used again in the new Testament, (as I remember) Page 102But in other Authors that use it, it signifies such a De∣siring, as when one man does challenge another into the field to a Duel: Or such a Desiring, as when a man comes and cals for open, and publick Punishment upon a man: and all this is Suffering, and Afflictive. Or, as your trans∣lation hath it: Satan hath desired to Have you. He does not say thus: Satan hath desired to Sift you; but Satan hath desired to Have you. Is it not an affliction to a child, to hear a Begger stand craving, and begging of his father to have him away, to carry him away from his house? There is never a Temptation, but in that Temptation Sa∣tan desires to Have you, you that are the Children of God, Satan desires to have you. Then again, He hath desired to have you that he may [sift you as wheat.] Now though in sif∣ting, there is a separation between the Chaff and the wheat, yet it is not without a concussion, and a shaking of the wheat: the wheat and the grain is shaken, though the chaffe be blown aside, and laid on heaps. And though through the skil of the sifter, the wheat may be so kept, as it does not fal into the chaffe-heap; yet notwithstanding, there is some danger in sifting, that the grain should fall o∣ver into the heap of chaffe, and be burnt with the chaffe: So here. Especially where Satan, the great destroyer of man-kind, hath the fan in his hand: Saith Christ, Satan hath desired to have you, and hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; and I tell you, there is so much dan∣ger in it, that nothing but my prayer can secure you, But I have prayed for you. So that you see, there is something of a Suffering in a Temptation. You know it was a Law in the old Testament, that if a woman were abroade in the fields, and there met her some that offered violence to her; if she cryed out, and did not consent, she was not guilty: but now, though she were not guilty, but inocent, if she were abused, it would be a continual affliction, to a modest good woman. So it is here, Satan comes to meet us, and though we do not consent to him, yet a gracious heart can∣not but look upon it as an affliction, to be thus followed, Page 103and haunted with a Temptation. And the holy Ghost al∣luded to this practise, when he saith here in the text, Jesus Christ is able to succour: The word Succour,* signifies such a Succouring as brings in help unto those that cry out; to come in, and run in with help upon ones crying out. In the 12. of the Revelation, it is said, Woe to the inhabitants of the earth; for the Devil is come down with great wrath, for he knows that his time is short. There is a Woe in it, where the Devil comes down with great wrath. Now he looks up∣on all the Saints, as having their time but short, and he comes down upon them in great wrath with his temptati∣ons: and there is a Woe in it, although the temptation takes not: And for ought I know, upon this account, the new-Testament may so promiscuously use the word Tempta∣tion, both for Affliction, and Satans Suggestions, even because seldom any Affliction comes, but it does bring Temptation with it: never any Temptation but brings Affliction: al∣waies something of a Suffering in every Temptation, even at that very time when it does least prevail. This is the First thing.
Secondly, Doth God suffer his own children thus to Suffer? [Quest. 2]
Yes, And many times the best, most tempted, [Answ.] the best men meet with the worst temptations, those that are most eminently Godly, are most fouly assaulted. David, Job, Peter, Paul, and Christ himself was. Yea, God doth not only suffer Satan to come, and present evil objects before his servants, but suffers him to go so far, as to solicite, to press, to follow on his temptation. And therefore it is said concerning David, That Satan stood up, and provoked him to Number the people. He did not only present an evil object to him, but he followed his temptation, he solicited, he stood up and provoked Da∣vid to Number the people.
Yea, God doth not only suffer this: but at that very time, when the Saints have had most of God, then they have suffered by the hand of temptation. when Paul had been taken up into the third Heaven, then a messenger, Satan was sent to buffet him. And when Jesus Christ had heard the voice, This is Page 104my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: Then (saies the text in the 4. of Matthew 1.) was he led by the spirit into the wil∣derness, to be tempted of the Devil. And so with the Saints now: when they have been, as it were, in the third Heaven with God, when they have had most of him, when they have heard the Lord saying, This is my beloved child; after special manifestations of his love, then most tempted: Oh! who would be secure, after manifestations of Gods love?
Further, God doth not only suffer it thus far: but some∣times he suffers his children to be so far tempted, as they seem to have the worser, Satan the better; Satan taking the wall of them, the upper hand, In the 3. of Zachary, it is said concerning Joshua: That Satan stood at his right hand: Satan took the wall of him, took the upper hand of him.
Lastly, God suffers this to be, and to continue a long time with some of his children. Paul saith, he had prayed thrice: that is, often; and all the answer he could get was this, My grace is sufficient for thee, (Paul) I don't say, I will deliver thee, but thou shalt have grace enough to uphold thee, My grace shall be sufficient. Thus God suffers his own dear children to Suffer under the hand of temptation.
And would you know the Reason? [Reas. 1] Good Authors say, That God suffers his own dear children to be tempted, that they may be more inlightened. Temptation inlightens the temp∣ted; there by they are more experienced, and so more in∣lightened: God is pleased to answer them by this secret of thunder.
God suffers his children thus to be tempted, [Reas. 2] That they may be cleansed. This is Gods usual way, he does wash us from our own filth, by the dung and excrement of these unclean spirits: and scowres of the rust from his chosen vessels by the messengers of Satan: these are Gods scullions to make his golden pots of the Sanctuary the brighter.
God suffers his own children to be tempted, [Reas. 3] That they may be conserved, or kept: He preserves them from one sin, Page 105by being tempted to another. And Paul saies, That he re∣ceived that messenger of Satan, twice, that he might not be exal∣ted. [Reas. 4]
God suffers his children to be tempted, That their graces may be increased. As the fire is blown up by the wind of the bellows; and the strength of an Argument, draws out the strength of the Answerer: So does these temptations draw out the strength of the tempted.
God suffers his Children to be tempted, [Reas. 5] That they may be discovered to themselves, and others; what their sins & graces are. You don't know what the liquor is, till the vessel be bored, then you know it. And the word that is used here for Temptation, Originally signifies to bore, as a vessel is bored.* The love of a woman is never more known, than when her husband is from home, and she is solicited to folly, then her love is tryed to her husband.
God suffers his children to be tempted, [Reas. 6] That occasionally they may be made more fit to receive the fulness of Christ as a Savi∣our. A man not tempted may receive the fulness of Christ as the head: but unlesse a man be tempted, not fit to re∣ceive the fulness of Christ as a Saviour.
Hereby they are made like unto Jesus Christ. [Reas. 7] Christ was made like to us, that he might be tempted; and we are tempted that we may be made like to him. He was made like to us, that he might be tempted, and so become our High-Priest: and we are tempted, that we may be made like to him, and receive of the mercy of that office. He was made like to us and tempted, that he might have com∣munion with us in the evil of our temptation: and we are made like to him and tempted as he was, that we might have communion with him in the benefit of his temptati∣ons. For these and other reasons, God suffers his chil∣dren to be tempted. But my design is not to fall upon the argument of Temptation at large; only to speak of the Suf∣fering part of it: For in that he suffered being once tempted, he is able to succour those that are temped.
And upon the same reason, or account, that God suffe∣red Page 106the children of Israel to be Vexed, and to suffer by the hands of the Egyptians, he doth suffer his own dear children to be stung, and vexed by these temptations. Give me leave a little in that.
God suffered the Isralites to be vexed, [unspec 1] & to suffer much by the hands of the Egyptians, That so be might make his glo∣rious power the more to appear for them, and in them. For when men saw, that the Isralites increased and prospered, the more they were oppressed, and the more that the Egypti∣ans laboured to cut them off: then who would not say, Oh! what power, and what mercy is here? So now, when as men shall see, that the graces of the Saints increase the more by temptation, and by spiritual oppression; who would not say, Oh! what mercy, and what power is here?
God suffered the Isralites to be vexed by the Egyptians, [unspec 2] That the Isralites might not learn their manners, and their Super∣stitions. They were very apt to drink-in their manners, to imitate, to follow them. Notwithstanding all the ill u∣sage that the Israelites had at the hand of the Egyptians, they were very apt to learn their manners: had they had better usage, how would they have drunk them in much more then? Beloved! God would not have us to learn the manners of Satan, we are apt to drink them in too much notwithstanding all the hard dealing that we have from our temptations that do come from Satan: had we better entertainment, how should our souls mingle, and incor∣porate with those temptations?
God suffered the Israelites to be vexed by the Egyptians, [unspec 3] That so they might be provoked against them, to cut them off, and destroy them utterly. We never cut off an Enemy, and de∣stroy him utterly till we be provoked; and we are provo∣ked by the ill usage that we have at their hands. God would have Satan destroyed: for this cause was Christ manifested in the flesh, that he might destroy the works of Satan; And what Christ did for us, he doth work in us: and we will not destroy him till we be provoked and Page 107therefore God is pleased to let us have such hard dealing, and suffering work from the hand of temptation, that we may be the more provoked against him.
God suffered the Israelites to be vexed by the Egyptians, [unspec 4] That so they might long for Canaan the land of rest. And why doth God suffer his people to suffer thus by their temptati∣ons, but that they might cry out for help, and for the land of rest? as David, Oh! that I had wings like a dove for then would I fly away and be at rest.
If the children of Israel had not suffered thus from the hands of the Egyptians; [unspec 5] in all likelihood they would have returned to Egypt much more than they did. They made them a Captain to re∣turn again, notwithstanding all the hardness that they un∣derwent in Egypt: but had the children of Israel had good usage in Egypt, how would they have returned a∣gain thither; Beloved! we are apt to return again to fol∣ly, you that are the servants of God, too apt to return to folly; notwithstanding all the hard usage that you have from the hand of your temptation, how apt and ready are you to retturn to folly; now God loves you, and would not have you to return again, and therefore that you might not return to your garlike, onyons, and fleshpots a∣gain, he suffers this Spiritual Phatoah thus to follow you, and lie hard upon you in these temptations. And thus you see what a glorious design of love God hath, even in the suffering part of his childrens temptations: Gods own children do suffer thus by the hand of a Temptation.
But you will say, [Object.] In the Third place (to answer the Ob∣jection) If Gods own people, his dearest children be sorely tempted, yea, suffer under the hand of a temptation: how is that true, which you have in the 1 Epistle of John, the 5. chapter and the 18. verse: Whosoever is born of God sins not: he that is begotten of God, keeps himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not; the Devil toucheth him not: and if the Devil does not so much as touch him, how can this be true, that he suffers thus by the hand of his temptation.
For answer hereunto, ye must know, [Answ.] that this word Page 108Touching, in Scripture phrase, besides the litteral sense, sometimes notes an Hurting, or Harming of one. So in the 105. Psalm, and the 15. verse. Touch not mine anointed. Which is explained in the following words, and do my Pro∣phets no harm. We reade of Christs Touching, and the Devils Touching. Christ touching those that were sick, and he cured them with his touch, it was an healing, cu∣ring touch, the touch of Christ. And we reade of the De∣vils touching: So he speaks unto God that he would touch Job; that is, that he would break him, and break all his E∣state: Christ touch is an healing touch, curing touch; but Satans touch is a destroying touch, a breaking touch. Now though God suffers his own children to be tempted, yea, and to suffer by the hand of a temptation, yet not∣withstanding, the evil one touches him not, so as to harm him, to hurt him; But in the conclusion, so as to heal and to cure him, which is no touching.
Again, This same word Touching, in Scripture Phrase, sometimes notes Fellowship and Communion: and so when the Apostle forbids the Corinthians fellowship and com∣munion with Idolaters; saith he, Be ye Separate, and touch no unclean thing. Touching there noting Communion and Fellowship with them in their Worship: don't in the least measure have any communion with them. So now, al∣though it pleases God, to suffer Satan thus to vex his chil∣dren with temptation, yet notwithstanding, they have not fellowship or Communion with him, Satan knocks at their door, but they don't frequently, and ordinarily open and let him in, so as to sup with them: Christ stands at their door and knocks, and they open, and he comes in and sups with them, and they with him: they have fellow∣ship with the Father, and they have fellowship with Jesus Christ, but they have not fellowship with the Devil; they don't delight in him, they don't converse with him, they have not this fellowship with him: and therefore though they meet with temptation, yea, and though they suffer under temptation, yet in this respect the evil one touches Page 109not, but suffer they do. And so I have cleared the Point: God suffers his own dear children to be sorely tempted, yea, and to suffer under the hand of a temptation.
I come to the Application.
If this be so:*Then why do you that are the Servants of God question Gods love to you, and call your own condition into questi∣on because of your temptations, or because of the hard things that you meet withall from the hand of your temptation? Oh! saies one, if God loved me, I should never be thus tempted, I should never suffer such hard things by temptation as now I do: was there ever any of Gods Children tempted thus? Surely this cannot stand with grace. But was not Jesus Christ tempted? Yes. But I am tempted many times to doubt of my Child-ship, whether I be the Child of God, Son of God I or no. And was not Christ thus? There were Two special times of Christs temptation: Once when he entered upon the Ministry: Once when he went out of the world; and you shall see, how at both these times, he was followed with this temptation: In the 4. of Matthew, there you reade of the first, and in the combate, twice, If thou be the Son of God? saies the Devil: putting an If upon his Son∣ship: and again, If thou be the Son of God: putting an∣other If upon his Son-ship. So when he was upon the Cross; the Devils Instruments speak his own Language, they had not forgotten it: If he be the Son of God, let him come down? putting an If upon his Son-ship again. The Devil follows this close. Oh! but I am tempted many times to use indi∣rect means to get out of trouble, out of mine affliction. And was not Christ so? when he was an hungry, saies the De∣vil to him, Command that these stones be made bread. Oh! but I am tempted, I am loth to say what it is, sometimes even to lay violent hands upon my self. And what said the Devil to Christ? Throw thy self down off the pinacle of the Temple. Oh! but I am tempted to horrid and blasphe∣mous things that I am afraid to name, and my heart trem∣bles Page 110to think of. And was not Christ thus tempted? saies Satan to him, All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. What? worship the Devil! Oh! horrid blasphemy! Blush, O Heavens, and be astonished: All this will I give thee, If thou wilt fall down and worship me. Oh! but I am tempted to depair: sometimes; I confesse I am able to reade Gods love, and to say, that God is with me, and I think I can say, I know that God is with me: but at another time, Oh! how unlike am I unto my self, and I say, Mercy is gone, and Christ is gone, and hath left me as an orphan. And I pray consider how it was with Christ in this respect; he went as neer to it as could be, without sin. It is Musculus his Observation. In the 16. of John: Behold (saies Christ at the 32. verse) the hour cometh (speaking of his suffering hour) Yea, it is now come, when ye shall be scattered every man from his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. (Speaking of his suffering hour) And yet when he was upon the Cros, he saies, Father, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? How diverse does he seem to be from himself? Saies he, I am not alone, because the Father is with me: And yet when he comes into the hour, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Oh! but I have suffered as much as ever any did, I have suffered by the hand of my temptati∣ons, they have been a continual torment to me, and I have suffered much from them. Well, but have ye suffered more than Christ suffered? It is said in the text, For in that he suf∣fered being tempted: What a mighty suffering was it, for the glorious God of Heaven and Earth to have such temptati∣ons thrown in upon him? any one temptation to be lod∣ged in his mind, what a mighty suffering was this? Thus you see how Christ suffered.
And beloved, He suffered, and was tempted, that he might succour you that are tempted. Will you question his love then, because of your temptation, or your own condition? do ye know what you do? Suppose that your Father should leave you a great Estate, and give you good Evidences; and Page 111a cunning Lawyer comes, and writes upon the back-side of your Evidence, Naught, naught: will ye because of that, joyn with him and say, that your Father hath given you nothing? Christ hath given you in a great Estate of Mer∣cy, and hath given you good Evidences for it; and Satan now, comes & writes upon the back-side of your Evidence, and saies, This is naught. Will you joyn with him against God and Christ? what wrong is this to his love? think of it, I pray, you that are the Saints and people of God: Be humbled under every temptation, though it be never so small; but never question your condition, though your temptation be never so great.
There is indeed, something of a suffering, a malignant quality, an affliction in every temptation when it takes least: and therfore, look how you would walk under an afflicti∣on, so walk under your temptation. In your affliction, you will walk Humbly: so under your temptation do. In your affliction, you will examine the Cause, especially if your affliction lie long upon you: So in your temptation do. In your affliction, you will seek God Early: So in the morning of your temptation do. In the day of your affliction, you will Engage to God; the day of affliction, is the day of engaging, and you say, Oh! if the Lord will deliver me, through his grace I will do so and so: So in your temptation do. In your affliction, you will take heed of those sins that you are most apt unto in the time of affliction: so do in the time of your temptation: For ex∣ample thus: in affliction, a man is very apt to be discoura∣ged, to have his heart sink and to die within him: So in temptation, take heed of that. In affliction, a man is apt so to mind his present burden, as to forgit all his former mercy: so in the time of temptation take heed of that. In the time of affliction, a man is very apt to be froward, and impatient, to break out into frowardness, and impatiency though he did not so before: As the wood that is laid up∣on the fire, sends forth filth which you did not see in the wood before it came upon the fire: So men are apt to send Page 112forth filth, and much frowardness and impatiency in the time of affliction, when you took them for good natured people before, and thought there was no such frowardness in them, and no such impatiency: So in the time of temp∣tation also take heed of that. In the time of affliction, men are apt to make an evil construction, and interpretation of things: Affliction raises Passion, and Passion puts other colors upon things than formerly; and so in time of temp∣tation, we are apt to make strange constructions of Gods dealings, and Christ's dealings with us: take heed of that. In time of affliction, men are apt to change their behaviour; David did so, he let fall his spittle upon his beard, and faigned himself mad; he changed his behaviour: and so are men apt to change their behaviour in times of temptati∣on: take heed of that. In time of affliction, men are apt to stint, and limit God, and say, Can God provide a table now? and can God deliver now? and so also in the time of temptation, men are apt to say, Can God provide now? & can God deliver now? and so stint, and limit the Holy One of Israel; take heed of that. In the day of affliction a gracious heart does rather rejoyce that he hath any oppor∣tunity to exercise his grace, than mourn for his present bur∣den: so do you now. In the day of affliction, a gracious heart doth more desire to be cleansed, than to be delivered; wishes rather that his heart may be sanctified by his affliction, thā that his affliction may be removed. There is somthing of a suffering (ye have heard) in every temptation: now then, does a temptation arise, and presse in upon you; Go to the Lord and say, Lord, though I meet with hard things from the hand of my temptations, & these temptations have lien long upon me: yet I do rather chuse Grace than Peace; rather to be Cleansed, than to be Delivered: Oh! my belo∣ved, how well might it be with us, if we did but improve our temptations? what againing day, what a learning day might the day of temptation be? yea, what an harvest-day unto us, when Satan desires to winnow us?
But you will say unto me; [Quest.] We are greatly unskil'd in this Page 113matter: temptations I have, and great temptations, where ever I go, in every business: but Oh! how should I so order things, and mannage my thoughts, and my heart, as that I may be able so to walk under these temptations, that I may have peace and comfort in the latter end.
Beloved, the next point tels us, [Answ.] That Jesus Christ is a succouring Christ to all his tempted people: and I intend (God willing) to shew you, how Christ succours, and how we should draw succour from him under temptations. But for the present, give me leave to give you some Rules, and Directions, against these suffering temptations, and so I will winde up all.
First, Take heed that you don't yeeld to any thing, [unspec 1] that you may be rid of; that you don't yeeld to any part of the temptation, that you may be delivered from. It is more easy to keep the E∣nemy out of the town, than to get him out when he is come into it: if he get into the town, and get into the market∣place, it will be a more hard thing to get him out again. It is an easie thing to keep a stone on the top of an hill, while it lies there; but when once it begins to roul down, it is a hard thing to stay it, and you cannot say how far it shall go: How many are there that say when they are tempted, I'le yeeld but once, I'le yeeld but a little, and I'le never yeeld again, this is the last time: Oh! but, your once yeelding, and your yeelding but a little, ingages your heart to the whole work. you should watch and pray a∣gainst temptation; Watch and pray that ye enter not into temp∣tation: he does not say, Watch and pray, that you be not tempted; but watch and pray, that you enter not into temp∣tation. 'Tis one thing for temptation to knock at the door, and another thing to come in: When temptation enters you, you enter into temptation; take heed of that.
Again, Take heed that you don't carry the sin, [unspec 2] and the guilt of your Old condition, into a New condition. See your Call in∣to a New condition, before you leave your Old condition. Never count your self safe, or secure in any condition, but assoon as ever you come into any condition, observe what Page 114are the snares, and temptations of that condition. Some there are that carry the evil of their former condition, into an after condition, into a new condition; and then as Ra∣chel carrying a way her fathers Idols, tempted Laban to fol∣low after.
Some again, they don't much mind their Calling to a condition, nor don't go in the strength of their Call: whereas you shall observe, that when Peter was called to stand before the Princes, and Rulers, he did boldly professe Christ, because his call did lead him thereunto: but when he was not Called into the High-Priests hall, then he fals before a tempting wench. Others again there are, that think their condition wil secure them: Oh! saies one if I were but in such and such a condition, then I should be safe and free from Satans temptations; whereas, several conditions, have several temptations: and the Devil does use sometimes to tempt a man to alter his condition, so that by your very avoiding a temptation you fall into it. Take heed of this.
Thirdly, [unspec 3] If temptation do arise, observe the temptation; and know that there is some suitable disposition of your own, wherein the Devil does lay that temptation, and labour to file, and pare off that disposition. Beloved, the Devil observes the situation of our hearts, and accordingly does plant his Ordnance: he seldom tempts, but he laies his temptation in our own disposition, something sutable unto the temptation. So when David had a mind to number the people, then the Devil stands up, and provokes him to number the people sutable to his own disposition. When our Lord and Savi∣our Christ was an hungry, then he comes and tempts him to turn stones into bread. When again, he cryed out and said, My God my God why hast thou forsaken me? then saies the Devils instruments, If thou be the Son of God, then come down and shew thy self. He does usually lay his temptation in our own disposition that is sutable to the temptation. And therefore, I say, first observe the temptation, then know you have a disposition subservient thereunto, and Page 115the Devil laies his temptation in that disposition, and pre∣sently fals to work, and labours to file, and pare off more and more that disposition in Jesus Christ.
Fourthly, When a temptation arises, [unspec 4] don't alwaies stand to answer it in the kind, but sometimes turn your mind and thoughts off it to another object. 'Tis in our deliverance from a temp∣tation, as in our comforts under an affliction: a man hath a great affliction upon him; possibly the death of some friend that is near and dear unto him, and you go to comfort him, and in comforting him, you fall a speaking of his friend departed: whereas the way to comfort him, is not to speak of the person departed, but fall into confe∣rence about some other good thing different; and by that time his heart is setled upon some other thing, then you may come back again, and speak of the friend departed without grieving of him, but otherwise, even in your comfort you fetch out tears. And so I say in regard of temptation: the way to avoid temptation, is not alwaies to apply a salve directly pertinent to the temptation; but turn off your mind and your thoughts to some other good objects, and by that time your mind is setled upon other objects, you will be easily able to meet with the temptati∣on.
Fifthly, Above all things take the shield of faith. [unspec 5] Whom re∣sist siedfast in the faith, Simon, Simon (saies our Saviour) Sa∣tan hath desired to have you, that he may winnow you: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith faile not: that must do it. That same woman that came to Christ for her daughter, she met with great temptations: There was the temptation of her calamity; her daughter possest: There was a tempta∣tion of Christs not answering, but delaying his answer. There was a temptation of Christs seeming denial; I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel: There was a temptation of her own unworthiness; 'Tis not lawful to take the childrens bread and to cast it to dogs: yet notwithstan∣ding she beleeves, Oh! saies our Saviour, Woman, great is thy faith, be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And so I say, though Page 116your temptations be twisted one within another, and one stands at the end of another; do but get the prospect of faith, and you will be able to look over all. When temp∣tation therefore arises, say, Lord, though thou kil me, yet will I trust in thee: And Satan, though thou slayest me, I will keep to Jesus Christ. It was the speech of Taulerus, one that Luther prizeth above all: Saies he, Though the Marriners may make use of their Oars in the time of calm, yet when a storm comes down, the Marriners leave all and fly to their Anchor. So, though at other times we may make use of Resolutions, and Vows, and the like; yet when the storm of temptation comes down, nothing then, but fly to the anchor of faith, nothing then like to casting of anchor into the Vail. And as if the holy Ghost, put al on this, he cals Faith our Anchor; and he cals Faith our Shield: All dangers are either Sea-dangers, or Land dan∣gers: if your dangers be Sea-dangers, Faith is your Anchor; and if your dangers be Land dangers, Faith is your Shield. And therefore I say, when temptation arises, labour then to exercise your faith, and say, Oh! how should I do this thing, and sin against my Christ, and sin against my God? Satan, thou tellest me, All this I will give thee, if I wil do this thing: I but, how shall I do this, and sin against Je∣sus Christ who hath loved me, and given himself for 'me? Satan, thou tellest me, that if I do yeeld, God is merciful, and God will pardon me: Yea, but Satan, God hath par∣don'd me already, and therefore I will not yeeld; and be∣cause I know that the Lord would pardon me if I did it, therefore I will not do it. Thus labour to exercise your faith in time of a temptation.
Sixthly, [unspec 6] Be sure of this, When temptation arises, don't fear too much: nor don't fear too little. I confesse, it's an hard thing to carry it equally, between too much, and too little: but (beloved) if you fear too Much; you honour Satan, you weaken your selves: immoderate fear weakens. And if you fear too little, then you grow secure: security betraies you, and so you lose all before you strike a stroke. Where∣fore Page 117this Rule is: If temptation arise, don't fear too much, though the temptation be never so great: don't fear too little though the temptation be never so small.
Seventhly, Art thou assaulted by temptation? [unspec 7] Either you do overcome; or you are overcome: if you do overcome, be Thankful, lest you lose your former Victory, by your after-Ʋnthankfulness. And if you be overcome, yet don't lay down the weapon, hold it up still, stand upon your guard. The Devil tempts that he may tempt; and he is willing to be overcome in the skirmish, that he may overcome you in the battel: and he brings up the greatest temptations in the reare: As Jobs afflictions were greatest at that last: yea, he tempts us to break the Law, and sin against the Law, that he may tempt us to sin against the Gospel. This is the Seventh Rule: If you be overcome, or be not overcome, walk thus.
Eighthly, and Lastly, [unspec 8] If temptation do arise; Be sure that you make some improvement of it for the better. If an enemy come and make an assault against one of your garrison∣towns, and he goes away, and gets no hurt, he is incou∣raged, and invited to come again; for (saies he) I lost no∣thing; though I did not gain, and carry the Town, yet I lost nothing: But now, if upon his assault he loses many men, and his Ordnance, I'le come no more there (saies he) for there I had such and such a great loste. Thus it is with Satan when he comes before a soul with his temptations; there is a soul (saies he) I came before him with my temp∣tations, and though indeed I did not carry it, I did not get the thing I would, yet I lost nothing, and therefore I'le go again. But there is a soul, and there's a heart, I came before him with my temptations, and I confesse I lost much; I tempted and he prayed, and the more I temp∣ted the more he prayed, and the more I tempted still, the more he did go to Jesus Christ, and therefore I will tempt him no more. Beloved, labour to improve your temp∣tations, goe to God with your temptations in your hands, and pray over your temptations: and if you improve your temptations, you shall not be troubled Page 118with Satan; and therefore you are troubled with Satan so much, because you improve your temptations no more. Oh! how well might it be with us, if we did but improve our temptations? what a good day would this be? what a good day might be this sad day of our temptation, if we did but improve our temptations? And I beseech you think of it, how we may improve them more and more. You know what our Saviour said concerning the false ground; in the time of temptation it fell away: let that awe our hearts. You know what our saviour saies again by way of comfort unto his Disciples; You continued with me in my temptations, and therefore I appoint unto you a kingdom: and blessed are they that do continue, and hold out this siege. Beloved! these turning times, are tempting times: and I think I may truly say, if ever there were an hour of temptation upon this kingdom, this is the hour of Eng∣lands temptation, it is an hour of temptation. Oh! you that are the servants of God, and the Disciples of Jesus Christ, will ye not watch with him one hour? an hour of temptation it is, but this is our comfort, it is but an hour: and therefore you that are his servants and Disciples, will you not watch with him one hour? Watch and pray, watch and pray: some pray, but they will not watch; and some pretend to watch, but they don't pray. There∣fore that I say to you, to my self, and to all is, watch and pray: if you watch, you enter into your masters joy; if you watch not, you enter into temptation: Oh! let us all watch and pray, that we enter not into temptation.
SERMON II. Of TEMPTATION.
BY the word Tempted in the first clause, re∣lating to Christ, we are to understand Satans solicitations to evil, (as ye have read in the former Sermon:) By the word Tempted in the last clause, He is able to succour them that are tempted, specially to understand those solicitations of Satan and our own sins, by comparing the former verse with this. As if the Apostle should say: For in that our Lord and Sa∣viour Christ was tempted by Satan, solicited to what was evil; He is able to succour them that are both, either soli∣cited to evil, or overcome thereby.
But how is it said here, He is able to succour them that are tempted; in that he himself suffered being tempted? Was he not as God, able to succour them that are tempted? Why then is it said, In that he suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted?
There is an ability of Sufficiency: and an ability of Ido∣niety. As God (indeed) he is able to succour those that are tempted: but by being tempted in the flesh, he is able, that is, apt, and idonious to succour those that are tempted. There is an Absolute ability: and a Respective ability as he is Page 118〈1 page duplicate〉Page 119〈1 page duplicate〉Page 220High-Priest. As God indeed, he was able to succour them that are tempted, though he had not been tempted: but he speaks of Christ here as our High-Priest; and so by be∣ing tempted, he is able to succor them in that way. There is, (as I may so speak) a Scientifical ability, or an Experi∣mental ability. As he was God, he was able in the first sense to succour, 'tis true: but by being tempted, he is able Ex∣perimentally to succour them that are tempted.
It is an ability of Disposition and Compassion that here he speaks of. And therefore in the fift Chapter, speaking of the same thing, he saith concerning the High-Priest, That he can have Compassion on the ignorant, and those that are out of the way. So then, Christ by being tempted, is able to suc∣our those that are tempted with an ability of Idoniety, an Experimental ability: with an ability of Compassion and Dis∣position, and gracious Inclination. And so the Observa∣tion that lies before us, is this:
In the former Doctrine ye heard, That God suffers his own servants, and dearest children to be sorely tempted: Now this Doctrine holds forth the remedy, Jesus Christ is a succouring Christ to tempted souls. As our hearts are full of Sin, So his heart is ful of Succour, he is a succouring Christ. His Names, and Titles speak him so. His Nature speaks him so. His Officies, His Doctrine, His Life and Conversation; His Death and Sufferings call him a Succouring Christ. I shall not run thorow all these particulars. But because men are known by their Names, I will fix there a little: and we shall see, how all the Names and Titles of Christ call him a Succouring Christ.
If we search the Scripture, we may observe, That the Names of Satan, of the Devil, carry malice with them, and evil against them: And the Names of Jesus Christ are con∣trary thereunto, as holding forth a Succour against all that evil that is in him, who is The Evil One.
Is the Devil called Satan? that is, an Adversary: Jesus Page 221Christ is called our Friend. Is Satan called Diabolus? the Accuser, or the Accuser of the brethren: Jesus Christ is called our Advocate. Is Satan called a Destroyer? Jesus Christ is called our Saviour. Is Satan called a Lyon, that goes up and down seeking whom he may devour? Jesus Christ is called a Lyon of the Tribe of Judah. Is Satan called a Serpent? and, Old Serpent? Jesus Christ is called the Brasen-Serpent. Still Names of reliefe and succour answerable unto those Names of Satan.
We shall observe, that there is no Evil in Sin, but there is somewhat in the Name of Jesus Christ that speaks the con∣trary, contrary succour. Is sinne called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or a transgression of the Law? Jesus Christ is called our Righte∣ousness: The Lord our Righteousness. Is Sin called Folly? Je∣sus Christ is called Wisdom, The Wisdom of the Father. Is sin called an Infirmity, or Weakness? He is called the Rock, and the Rock of ages, and the Arme of the Lord. Is sin called Darkness? He is called Light Is sin called Pollution, or Ʋn∣cleanness? His blood is the fountain opened for sin and for un∣cleanness to wash in. Is sin called Death? He is called Life. Is there Ignorance in sin? He is called our Prophet, in opposi∣tion to that. Is there Disorder in sin? In opposition to that, he is called our King to order. Is there Guilt in sin? In opposition to that, he is called our Priest; he is called our Propitiation, in that place of John: But in the 3. of the Romans, and the 25. verse, He is called our Propitiatory: Whom God hath set forth to be a Propitiation (so you reade it) but rather, a propitiatory:* the Same Greek word that the Septuagint used for the Jewes Propitiatory: And in that he is our Propitiation, or Propitiatory; this speaks him a succouring Christ.
Famous was the succour, and reliefe that the Jewes had from their Cities of refuge: and as if the holy Ghost inten∣ded the confirmation of this Truth that is now before us, those Hebrew Names that were given to the Cities of refuge are given to Christ. Is any of the Cities of refuge called Kedesh? signifying Holy: He is called Holy, Holy, Holy.Page 222Was another City called Shechem? signifying Shoulder: Ʋpon his Shoulder is the government; and the lost sheep brought home upon his Shoulder. Is another City called Hebron? from Society, or Fellowship: By him we have fel∣lowship with the Father. Is another called, Golan? signify∣ing one Revealed, or Manifested: 'Tis said of him, He was Manifested in the flesh. Is another City called Ramoth? Things Exalted: Him hath God Exalted, and by him are all Exalted. In the phrase of the new-Testament, he is cal∣led our Father, and our Brother, and our Friend, and our Shepheard; a Hen, a Lamb, a Door: there's none of all his Names but speak him full of sweetness and loving disposi∣tion, and succour unto poor souls.
But that I may the better clear up this Truth I shall deli∣ver my self these Four waies.
- First, That Jesus Christ is able to succour tempted souls.
- Secondly, That he is willing to do it.
- Thirdly, That he is faithful in doing of it.
- Fourthly, How he doth it, in the day and time of their temp∣tation; and so come to the Application.
First, [unspec 1] He is able to do it. He is able to succour them that are tempted. He is able (saith our Apostle in that 17. of the Hebrews) to save those that come unto God by him, he is able to save them to the uttermost:* As Satan tempts to the uttermost, he is able to save to the uttermost. And as they sin to the uttermost, he is able to save to the uttermost. A man is said to be able to do all that which he hath a commission, and power from God to do: The Lord Jesus Christ in the 3. of the Romans and the 25. was set forth to be a propitiation: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation. He hath laid help upon one that is Mighty; and that is Christ. Design'd, and called he is to the office of the High-Priest. The proper work of the High-Priests office was, to condole with, re∣lieve and succour the people against their sins: And the more Eminent any High-Priest was, the more in this work. In the 17. of the Hebrews, we find all along, how abun∣dantly he excels all the High-Priests that ever were. As Page 223for other High-Priests, they did not take an Oath when they came into their office: but he swears. Other High-Priests, had sins themselves to offer for: but he Holy, and Seperate from sinners. Other High-Priests, dyed, and did not continue so for ever: but he liveth for ever to make inter∣cession. Other High-Priests, offered not Themselves: but he offered up Himself. He was a King and a Priest: they were not. They indeed entered into the Holy of Holiest, but it was Earthy: he is gone into the Holy of Holiest, and that is Heavenly. They were but Types of him, Shadows: if a shadow fall upon a dirty ground, it cannot make it dry; but the Sun can: and yet notwithstanding, these o∣ther High-Priests, the Apostle saith of them, Being compast about with infirmities; they could have compassion on those that are ignorant, and out of the way; They men of Infirmities, sinners; They in the time of the Law: How much more is Jesus Christ able to succour, who is so transcendent an High-Priest, and excelling all others that ever went before him. I'le say nothing of the great Power that he hath with the Father, or in his own hands: The Keyes of hell and death. He is able by Conquest for to succour you that are temp∣ted: he is able by Conquest for to raise the Siege that is laid against our souls; he hath beaten through the Enemy: As now, if a Town be beleaguer'd straightly, besieged by an Enemy, and the Enemy abroad in the Field, having an army in the Field: if any will come to raise the Siege, they must fight through the Army, they must beat through the Army before they can raise the Siege. Never a tempted sould but is thus besieged with temptation, closely begirt, and the Devils were abroad in the field, were the Masters of the field till Christ came: and no man, nor Angel was able to beat through: but Jesus Christ beat up the Quarters all along, beat through the Enemy, cast out Devils all along, overcame. Paul by being tempted overcame temptation. So by his dying he overcame death; and by taking our in∣firmities upon him, he overcame our infirmities; and by being subject to the Law, he overcame the Law, and the Page 224curse of the Law: and so by being tempted, he overcame temptation; and having beaten the Enemy out of the field he is now able to raise the Siege; he is absolutely able to raise the Siege, which none else is able to do: He is able to save to the uttermost. We shall not need to stand long on this.
But you will say, [unspec 2] We will grant Christ is able to succour tempted souls: but is he willing?
Yes, He is infinitly willing to succour poor tempted souls. Our great succour lies in Reconciliation with God the Father; as by comparing these two verses together doth appear. God the father hath set him forth to be a propitiation: it was the will of God the Father, that Jesus Christ should come and make propitiation, it was his will. Now, look into the 40. Psalm, and see what Christ saith concerning the will of the Father; verse the 7. Loe, I come: in the vo∣lum of the book it is written of me: I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy Law is within my heart: Some books reade it, Thy Law is within my bowels: thy Law is within my heart, 'tis in my desires. Yea, not only (saith he) in my desires: but in the Gospel we reade it, With desiring have I desired to eat this Pass-over, before he suffered. Desiring have I desi∣red. And (saith he) I have a baptisme to be baptizeds with, and I am straitened till it be accomplish't: I can have no rest till it be done, I am straitened till it be accomplished. Yea, not only so: but (saith he) here in this Psalm, I de∣light to do thy will: 'tis the will of God he should make pro∣pitiation; and so succour: I delight to do thy will. And in the 8. of the Proverbs: My delights are with the sons of men: some reade it, All my delight: but 'tis in the plural number. When God laid the foundations of the earth my delights were with the sons of men. A high, and a great expression. Surely, Jesus Christ cannot but be willing to succour tempted ones, when his delights are with the sons of men.
Again, A man must needs be willing, to do that which he is willing to suffer much for, to be at much cost and pains for. Da∣vidPage 225was willing to build the Temple, because he laid out so much by way of preparation. And Araunah was willing to have a sacrifice, because he gave up his threshing-flowr, it appear'd he was willing. And now when Jesus Christ is content to suffer so much that he may make a propitia∣tion for sinners, and reconciliation with the Father, and so succour; it argues that he is very willing.
Besides, A man is willing to have that done which he is much troubled for if it be not done. You know when Christ came to Jerusalem, he wept (saies the text) and he wept: He came a succouring, and they would not be succoured: How often would I have gathered thee as an hen gathers her chic∣kens under her wings, and thou wouldst not? A Hen is a suc∣couring creature: Christ came a succouring, came to ga∣ther them as a Hen. A Hen sits upon the eggs, and hatcheth with the warmth of her body: So doth Christ do with the warmth of his love. A Hen sits till the feathers be off her own body, makes her own body naked for to hatch up: And so did Christ. When the chicken is hatch't, she suc∣cours it, and covers it under her wings: and when the chicken can run abroad, let the hen find but a grain of corn, she clucks, and cals the chicken to her to have part of it: And so did Christ. And when danger comes, the Kite comes, she cals the chicken under her wings again to suc∣cour it: So does Christ. When he saies thus, he came to gather them as a Hen gathers her chickens under her wings, he came to succour them, but they would not be succour'd; see how he takes it: the text saies, He wept, he wept; he was much troubled. Wise men don't use to weep before company; children will: but those that are very wise, if they will weep, they weep in private: Jesus Christ (that was the wisdom of the Father) fals a weeping, and all be∣cause they would not be succour'd; Surely then, Jesus Christ is very willing to succour poor sinners. And belo∣ved! this was his love, and this was his compassion in the day of his infirmity; how great is it now in the day of his glory?Page 226
Again, It argues that he is very willing to succour poor tempted souls, because he was so willing to cure diseased bodies; when he was upon the earth he was willing to cure them: So willing, as though it did cost a miracle, yet he would do it. So willing, that though they did not know him as he was, but thought him a Prophet, yet he would do it. So willing, as that though they did not desire it themselves but were brought by others, yet he would do it. So wil∣ling, as that though they were unmannerly in their co∣ming to him; withness the pulling the tyles off the house, yet he would do it. And that so willing, though much unbeleef express by those that were brought unto him, yet he would do it. I beseech you consider it: this was a work that Christ came into the world to do; this is The work: the work that Christ came to do, it was to bind up broken hearts: The work that Christ came to do, was to open the pri∣son doors to poor captives: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me (you know the place.) To administer a word in due season to those that are weak: He hath given me the tongue of the learned to administer a word in due season to those that are weak. Now then, if Jesus Christ was so willing to do the other work which was but his work by the bye, which was not The-work that he did come about: how infinitely willing must he needs be to do The-work that he did come about? but I say, to succour poor tempted ones, this was The-work that he came upon; Heaven hath not alter'd him, he hath lost none of his love by going thither: Surely therefore, the Lord Jesus Christ is infinitely willing to succour poor tempted souls.
Well, [unspec 3] But though he be able, and willing, yet it may be he is not faithfull.
Yes, saith the former verse, Faithful: merciful, and faithful High-Priest. Faithful in all his house as Moses was. What honest man will break his word? go contrary to his oath? He is sworne into this office of the High-Priest. Yea, we have not only his Promise, and his Oath, but the fa∣thers Bond for the Sons performance: The seed of the woman Page 227shall break the serpents head: it shall bruise his heel, she shall break his head. The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. This is the work that is in his hand, to succour tempted ones: it shall prosper in his hand. In the 8. Chapter of Matthew, We reade there at the 16. verse, That he cast out spirits with his Word, and healed all that were sick: That is might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esai∣as the Prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses. Because he took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses, he took himself to be engaged for to heal the sicknesses, and diseases among the people. Beloved! he hath taken our infirmities, He hath borne our sins, and therefore he takes himself engaged also, for to heal our soul-diseases, to heal those temptations: He is very faith∣full.
Well, But suppose he is faithful: [unspec 4] How doth he succour those that are tempted, in the day and time of their temptation? (that is the Fourth thing.)
He succours Before temptation: He succours In temptation: He succours After temptation.
Christ succours tempted souls Before the temptation comes; sometimes: By a special manifestation of himself, ihs love, and fulness to them. When Christ himself was to be tempted, immediately before, the Father said from Hea∣ven, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And so, when Christ sees that a soul is to go into temptation, he speaks out from Heaven, and saies, This is my beloved servant in whom I am well pleased.
Sometimes he succours Before temptation; By laying in of Gospel-principles, and Gospel-dispositions in the heart. The Law is weak, saies the Apostle. As it is weak unto the point of Justification, the matter of Justification; so a legal disposition is weak as to the matter of resisting temptation: a Gospel-disposition is able to bear it off. Christ fore-see∣ing a temptation, laies in such a disposition, & then when it comes, Oh! saies the soul, How shall I be able to close with all this love of the world, having received so many Page 228love-tokens from my dear Saviour.
Again, He succours Before the temptation: By filling the heart with the holy Ghost. When the vessel is fild with one liquor, it keeps out another. I will return to my house (saith Satan) and I came and found it empty; and so he entered. The Lord therfore, fils the house, the soul with the holy Ghost, and so keeps Satan from entering.
He succours also, Ʋnder temptation: By opening the eyes of him that is tempted to see that 'tis but a temptation. A temptation is half cured, when a man knows that 'tis but a temp∣tation: when a mans eyes is open to see the tempter, and the temptation. Therefore men are so hardly cured, be∣cause they are hardly perswaded that 'tis a temptation; when they see that, then they say, Get thee behinde me Satan. Christ opens their eyes.
Again, He succours Ʋnder temptation: By letting fal some glimpse of his love, some love-look upon a tempted soul. And so, when Peter was in the High-Priests hall, Christ looks upon him, and he went out and wept bitterly. It was the sweet look of Christ, that made Peter weep bitterly; Peters tears, came from Christs eyes first: and though he were much engag'd, yet having a love-look from Christ, I'le stay no longer, and away he goes. And so, when a soul sees but the gracious eye of Christ looking on him, he breaks off from his temptation: thus he succours.
Again, He succours Ʋnder temptation, by temptation, even from temptation. Beloved! the Devil seldom tempts with one single temptation: As we seldom commit single sins, or receive single mercies; so the Devil seldom tempts with a single temptation. One may be laid in our Natures; and the o∣ther laid in our Callings: Christ sees now, that one is given to Uncleannesse, or to Pride; and so he lets out Sa∣tan upon him, to trouble him with blasphemous thoughts, and by the afflictions of those blasphemous thoughts, they are kept from Pride, and from Wantonnesse, and deligh∣ting in other sins.
He does succour From temptation; I say, from temptation Page 229by temptation (sometimes) by causing a word in the temptation to standout, so as thereby to give the tempted man an hint to Jesus Christ. So when Christ tempted, and tryed the woman of Canaan: 'Tis not lawful to cast childrens bread before dogs: There stood out a word, that word Dog: she laies hold on it, True Lord: yet the dogs eate of the crums. Christ does so order the very temptations of Satan, that some word or other in the very temptation does so stand forth as to hint the soule again unto Jesus Christ.
Sometimes he succours Ʋnder temptation: By throwing in a Promise, lotting the soul upon some Promise; which as a Ca∣ble, keeps the heart fast in the time of a storm.
And sometimes he succours Ʋnder temptation (again:) By weakending the temptation, and by keeping the heart, and the temp∣tation asunder; may be, by raising up some Affliction: Woe to that soul, when the heart and temptation meet, cor∣ruption and temptation meet. The Lord Christ therefore, sometimes is pleased to raise up an Affliction between them, that so these two wicked lovers may be kept asunder. Thus Under temptation.
After temptation he succours: By filling the heart with joy unspeakable and full of glory. By sending the Angels to Mini∣ster: As when the Devil left Christ, had tempted him and left him; then came the Angels and Ministred to him. Every way, Before temptation: and In temptation: and After temptation, the Lord Jesus Christ is asuccouring Christ to tempted souls, he is a succouring Christ: Beloved! he was aman of sorrows, that he might be a God of succours; his heart it is full of succours.
I come to the Application
Whist I stand upon this Truth,* me thinks I hear a so∣lemn, and gracious Invitation to all poor tempted souls to come unto Jesus Christ, to come for succor. There's none of you all, but labour under some temptation or other. Page 230Ye have read that the Lord Christ is a succouring Christ: shall I need to invite you to come unto him? Ye have read how able he is: and willing he is to succour. His heart is bent to succour you, his armes are open, his bosom is open, his heart is open to poor tempted souls that they may re∣ceive succour from him. Oh! therefore, you that are tempted, Come unto Jesus Christ that you may be succou∣red by him, Come unto Christ, Come unto Christ a∣lone.
You will say, [Quest.] But does he succour all that are tempted? why then are any damned?
Some men will not come unto him: [Answ.] Ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life. Some come unto him, but make an halfe Christ of him: They won't come under great temp∣tations, then they are afraid, and then they despair: They won't come under small temptations, then they despise: But for middleing temptations, those they will come to Christ for succour in; and thus they make a halfe Christ of him. Some come to him as to a Moses, make a conditional Christ of him: they must have their own Preparations, and Humiliations before they come unto him, or else they will not come unto him. But beloved! ye know what our Apostle saies, in the 7. of the Hebrews: He is able to save unto the uttermost those that come to God by him. Those that come to God by Him: if you do come unto Him, he will succour.
But my temptation is an Old temptation, [Object.] an Ancient temptation; I have gone under fears, and temptations for many yeers together, I may say, almost my whole life: and will Jesus Christ succour such a one as I am?
Pray what think you of the verse that goes before the text? [Answ.] reade it, and consider it: the 14. and the 15. verses. He himself took part of the same, that through death he might de∣stroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil. And (at the 15. verse) Deliver them from Satan that were all their life time subject to bondage. That he might deliver them from Satan that were all their life time subject to bondage: in Page 231fear of death, and all their life time subject to bondage.
Art thou therefore, a man or woman, that hath gone up and down all thy daies in fear of death, and fear of hell, and been in bondage all thy life time? See, he came to de∣liver such souls, such tempted souls as these are Christ came to deliver.
Oh! But my temptation is not a bare temptation, [Object.] there's much affliction that is mixt withal: and will he deliver those?
Yea, you know how it was with Jacob: [Answ.] Jacob used indirect means to get the blessing; Esau's heart rose against him: Jacob flies for it; when he was in the field, in the night, then Christ appears to him: A ladder, whose top was in Heaven (the Deity) the bottom on Earth (the Humanity) and Angels ascending and descending. All the while he was in his fathers house, he never had this Vision of Christ, but now, when he lay in the open field, Christ appears for his succour, by his Angels thus.
Oh! but my temptation is not such; [Object.] but my temptation is mixt with much Corruption; I have a Proud heart, an Ʋnclean heart, a froward heart; Will the Lord Jesus Christ lay such a wretched heart as mine is in his bosom? Oh! will he succour such a soul as I am?
For answer to this, [Answ.] I pray consider these Three things with me. The Lord Jesus Christ is a succouring Christ ye have read: And
First, He will succour tempted sinners most, [unspec 1] when they are most tempted. When the Child is sick, and when the Child is most sick, then the Mother comes forth and succours it, then love sits upon the bed-side, then love laies the Child in her bosom. And (saies he) in the 66. chapter of Esay, and the 13. verse: As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.
Again, He will not only succour thus: [unspec 2] but he will suc∣cour you that are tempted, when you cannot succour your selves; when your own thoughts cannot succour you, when your own thoughts dare not succour you, or when your own thoughts trample-upon your Evidences, and when your Page 232own thoughts shall make a Mutiny in your hearts, and set al on fire: In the multitude of my thoughts thy word comforts my soul. The Lord knows how to deliver in the time of temp∣tation, though you do not know; and when you do not know it, then he knows, and then he will deliver when you know not. Reade again the same place, the 13. verse of the 66. of Esay. As one whom his mother comfor∣teth so will I comfort you. Who are those? (saies he) at the 5. verse. Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble his word, and you that are cast out by your brethren: As one whom his mo∣ther Comforteth, so will I comfort you: you that lie and trem∣ble before the promise, and dare not draw neer unto it, As a mother comforteth, so will I comfort you.
Thirdly, [unspec 3] He will not only succour thus: but he will succour poor tempted souls with a Notwithstanding; Not∣withstanding all their failings, Notwithstanding all their infirmities. Joseph, a Type of Christ, his brethren sold him away, he indured much misery: Afterward his brethren came to want; and they go down to Egypt to him; and when they came there, Joseph succours them, Notwithstan∣ding all their former unkindnesse; I am your brother Jo∣seph, I am Joseph your brother; 'tis true, you sold me, and thus and thus you dealt by me; but you are come for suc∣cour, and I will succour you with a Notwithstanding. So saies the Lord Jesus Christ; Poor tempted soul, I know how thou hast dealt by me, how thou hast sold me, how thou hast neglected me, how thou hast crucified me: but I will succour thee with a Notwithstanding, Notwithstand∣ing all thy guilt, and all thy fear, I will succour thee with a Notwithstanding.
Three great succours that the Jewes had in the wilderness: Suc∣cour from the Rock, that gave out water: Succour against their Thirst. Succour from the Mannah that came down from Heaven: succour against their Hunger. Succour from the Brasen-serpent: from the fiery serpents that stung them. All these Three were great Types of Christ. And the Rock was Christ, saies the Apostle. And saies Christ Page 223himself: I am the bread, (speaking of the Mannah.) And when I am lifted up, (speaking of the brasen-serpent, allu∣ding to it.) Now, look into the story and you will find; God did not give out these succours to them till they murmur; in the 15. of Exodus, there they murmur, and murmur, and murmur, and then God opened the rock, and God gave them water notwithstanding. And in the 16. of Exodus, there he gives them bread. And in the 17. there he opens the rock: but first they murmured; the Lord gave them these succours with a Notwithstanding. The thing that I mean is this: Will the Lord give them a Typi∣call Christ for their succour, with a Notwithstanding? and will he not give poor tempted souls the Real Christ with a Notwithstanding, Notwithstanding all if they do come un∣to him, if tempted souls do but come unto him? Oh! what a mighty incouragement is here unto all poor tempted souls to come unto Jesus Christ? Oh! you, Come unto Je∣sus Christ, you that never came unto Jesus Christ, Come unto Jesus Christ, you shall find him a succouring Christ.
Secondly, If this Doctrine be true: [unspec 2] what ground of strong Consolation is here unto all the Saints? Oh! you that are the servants of God, children of God; you that are Saints, will you ever doubt of Christs love again? will you ever suffer your hearts to lie under the pressure of de∣spondent fears again? Doubting arises from Ignorance, mistakes of Christ; we put Esau's cloathes upon him; we make him an Angel of darkness and then we fear him. Ye don't look upon him as a succouring Christ, and therefore you are so full of Doubtings: or if you do, you don't actu∣ate your considerations, and you notions on him.
Beloved! Either there is a truth in this Doctrine; or else there is not. If there be not, what mean all the proofs that ye have had? And if there be a truth, if the Lord Je∣sus Christ be a succouring Christ to tempted souls; why then should you not triumph in him? and say, Well, no∣thing shall separate me from the love of God in Jesus Christ: Page 234I am perswaded, I am perswaded, that neither death, nor life, nor Angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other ereature, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Thus Paul reasoned in the 8. of the Romans. And I pray mark it; Who then shall separate us? (saies he at the 35. verse) shall tribulation, or distresse, or persecution, or fa∣mine, or nakednesse, or peril, or sword? Nay in all these things we are more than conquerers, through him that loved us. I am per∣swaded, that neither death, nor life, &c. Whence did arise this perswasion? (at the 33. verse) Who shall lay any thing to the charge of Gods Elect? it is God that justifieth. (Mark) He does not say, 'Tis God that justifies me; but only in the general, 'Tis God that justifieth: Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died. He does not say, 'Tis Christ that died for me: but 'tis Christ that died.
You will say, [Quest.] I, indeed, if I could say, That God justifies me; and Christ died for me; then I would say with Paul, That no∣thing shall separate.
Paul raises his perswasion thus: [Answ.] 'Tis God that justifies, and 'tis Christ that died.
I but, [Quest.] was there any temptation, in any of all these that Paul speaks on?
Yes sure: [Answ.] Why does he say else, That in all these things we are more than conquerers? There is an adversary power in this. And what think you when he saies, That neither life, nor death, nor Angels, nor principalities, and powers? Does not the Devil come in there, under principalities and powers? Neither does he say thus: I'le hope well now, That be∣cause Christ dies, and 'tis God that justifies; I'le hope well: No, but I am perswaded, none of all these shall separate me from the love of God in Christ. Though I have feared, I will fear no more. Thus he makes his Triumph. Oh! what strong consolation is here to all the Saints? You that are the tempted Saints of God, do not your hearts burn, and glow within you with love to Jesus Christ? and will you question his love to you? Did Christ Come and Page 335succour you? and will not you succour your selves? Is his heart full of succour toward you? and won't you own it? The Lord rebuke our unbelief.
Thirdly, If Jesus Christ be a succouring Christ: [unspec 3] Then let us be succouring Christians. Shall the Lord Jesus Christ take a poor tempted soul into his arms? and shall I thrust him away with my hand? Shall the Lord Christ take him into his Bosome? and must I thrust him out of the City, and the place where he dwels? Shall the Lord Jesus Christ car∣ry a poor tempted soul upon his shoulder, by way of suc∣cour? and shal I carry him upon my shoulder as a burden? It was Christ's Command: See that ye love one another, as I have loved you. And how did Christ love us? He loved us, and gave himself for us: He loved us, and was made in the form of a servant, took our Infirmities upon him: he lo∣ved us, and was tempted for us, suffered being tempted: And shall not I be willing to succour those that are temp∣ted? You look upon another mans Opinion, or his Pra∣ctice, or his froward disposition, and you are offended at it whom otherwise you would love, and do account godly: But how do you know whether that be not his temptation? that his disposition, and Opinion, and Practice; how do you know whether that be not his temptation that he lies under? and will you not succour him? Oh! my beloved, How contrary are our dispositions to Christs? Christ came from Heaven to succour those that are tempted: and we call for fire from Heaven against those that are tempted. Christ would bear with much smoke, for a little fire: and we wil quench a great deal of fire because of a little smoke. Oh! therefore, as you desire to be like unto Jesus Christ, succour the Saints: and if there be any thing in their life that does offend you, say with your selves; I but, may be it is a temptaion that such a man lies under; and Christ came to succour those that are tempted, why should not I?
Fourthly, If the Lord Jesus Christ be a succouring Christ? [unspec 4] Then why should we yeeld unto our sins, and to our temptations?Page 236Though the Siege be straight, and violent, and fierce, if a City be block't up, be beleaguer'd; if it have but hopes that succour and relief will come, it will hold it out: and if it know for certain that succour will come, it will hold out unto great extreamity. There's never a temptation but you are beleaguer'd by it: and when your temptation is about you, say, O my soul, be quiet, yeeld not; the Lord Christ is a succouring Christ, and succour will come, and therefore hold it out. Shall the Lord Jesus Christ, shall he succour me against my temptations with his bo∣som? and shall I take my sins, and temptations into mine own bosom? Shall he come to succour me against my sins? and shall I succour my sins that he comes against? What a mighty argument is here to keep us from all our sins, and from yeelding to our temptations? Jesus Christ is a suc∣couring Christ to tempted souls.
In the fift place, [unspec 5] If there be a truth in this, Christ is a succouring Christ: Let us all labour to answer Christ. Be∣loved! 'tis the duty, and the property of the people of God, to observe what God is doing upon their hearts, and to help on that work. If Jesus Christ be succouring of any of your souls, against your temptations; Oh! help it on, help on the work; 'tis your duty for to help it on, and to answer him.
But you will say, [Quest.] Christ succours Before temptation; and he succours Ʋnder temptation; and he succours After temptation: how shall I answer this? how shall I help his work on?
Give me leave to give an answer unto this Question, [Answ.] and so I will winde up all. Does the Lord Jesus Christ succour Be∣fore temptation? Observe his succours, and lay them up in your hearts against a rainy day: Gird your sword upon your thigh, it may not be to seek when the enemy comes: have it in readinesse. You don't lay the plaister on upon the wrist for the Ague, when the Ague is on, but before it comes. Observe what those tokens of love are that Jesus Christ does throw into your bosom before a temptation comes, and lay them up carfully there.Page 237
And beloved in the Lord; Labour to keep the sence of his love warm upon your hearts; Look as it is with water in win∣ter; so with your hearts in this respect: So long as the fire is under the water, and the water is hot, it freezes not; but when the heat goes off, and the water is cold, then ice comes upon it. And so long as your heart is kept up in the sence of Christs love, and warm with Christs love; so long the ice comes not, the temptation comes not. The slumber of grace, is a preparation to sin, and a preparation to temp∣tation. When once our hearts grow cold, and grow re∣misse; then way is made to temptation: and therefore, if you would answer Jesus Christ; Oh! labour to keep the sence of his love still upon your hearts.
And when the temptation is come: Then look upon Jesus Christ. No temptation so violent, or fierce, but a thought may steal out, and get a look upon Jesus Christ. The sight of Christ on the Cross, is a Judge upon the Bench against all temp∣tation. The consideration of Three things, keeps one from the power of temptation. The worth of a soul: The hainousness of sin: And the love of Christ. And you see all these in Christ upon the Crosse. When temptation comes, stand & look upon him. You know, that when the Israelites were stung, they were then to look upon the brasen serpent, and by their very looking upon it, they were cured thereby. The Lord Jesus Christ is our brasen-serpent, lift up upon Gospel poles, having more excellency than any brasen-serpent: That was but a piece of brasse: he is the God of glory. That for a time: he is our High-Priest, and lives for ever. That for the Jewes only: but he for Jew and Gentile. That for those that could see; and if any poor, blind man was stung, it was a case, what should become of the blind man, how should he look upon the brasen serpent? how should he be cured; but this our brasen serpent, is able to give you an eye. Beloved! this Ordinance is still on foot spiritually. And therefore Christ saies by the Prophet Esay, Look unto me from all the ends of the earth, and be saved. Oh! when a temptation comes; poor tempted soul, ad∣dresse Page 238thy self to the Lord Jesus, stand wishly looking up∣on him.
And then: Give thy soul over into the hands of Christ all thou canst: put thy self out of thine own hands. So long as the planck, or the board swims in the stream, in the midst of the water, you may draw it along with a little thred: but if once it come towards the banck, towards the shoare, and touches upon the ground, then you can hardly draw it. So long as your temptation is in the stream of Christs love, and of his blood, you may draw it along the more ea∣sily: but if once it come to touch upon your own shoare? Oh! then you draw hard. Whensoever therefore, a temptation arises, go unto Jesus Christ, and say, O Lord, I have no strength to stand against this great Enemy: I con∣fesse it is my duty to resist this temptation, but 'tis thy pro∣mise to succour me under this temptation, and therefore I put my self upon thee.
And then, rest upon Christ. As I use to say, Your very re∣sting on him makes him yours; your resting on his strength makes it yours; and your resting on his succour makes that yours.
And if the Lord command you to the use of any means; Don't rest upon any because they are great: Or despise any because they are small. You do observe, that the great Victories a∣mongst the Jewes, they were obtained by the weakest means; and by the blowing of rams horns wals fell down. Those were but Types of those spiritual Victories under the Gos∣pel.
God seldom does wound the head of a temptation, but first the heel (the means) is bruised whereby the head of the temptation is wounded. As Christs heel is bruised in his wounding of Satans head; So I say, 'tis in regard of means: seldome that any means does wound the head of a temptati∣on, but the very heel of that means is first bruised: and therefore, don't despise it though it be small.
And if it please the Lord, to cast in any Promise, when you are under a temptation: Oh! take heed, that you don't Page 339live upon the letter of the Promise. I mean, don't live upon the Conveyance, but upon the Land: and yet how many do live upon the bare Promise, bare letter of the Promise. When a temptation comes, passe from the temptation unto the Promise; and through the Promise unto Jesus Christ, and learn to live upon the thing Promised, and not the let∣ter of the Promise.
After temptation is over, (I can but touch on things) Either you have the better of Satan: Or else the worse. If you have the worse; Be for ever Humbled, but never Discouraged. And if you have the better of him: Then rejoyce in the Lord, and in all his goodness toward you, and in all his succouring love and mercy. Rejoyce in the Lord evermore, and again I say, rejoyce. As one whom his mo∣ther comforteth, so will I comfort you: and then it follows, They shall rejoyce; your hearts shall rejoyce. But take heed your spiritu∣all joy after Victory, don't degenerate into carnal joy, and you be drunk therewith. 'Tis reported of the English, that once going into Spain, and taking in a Town there: after they had taken it in, there being much wine in the Town, the souldiers fell a drinking of themselves drunk; and the Country came down upon them, and beat them out, and recovered the Town again. So 'tis with many: They have a Victory over temptation, and they begin to rejoyce spiritually; but their spiritual joy degenerates into carnal joy, and they are drunk with their joy, and so lose their Victory. Beloved! Joy not in your Joy, but in the God of your Joy after Victory.
And if you have the better after temptation, if you have the better: be sure of this, That you improve your Victory to more assurance. If the Devil get the better of you, he'le be sure to improve his Victory to your despair: I say, if he get the better of you, he will be sure to improve his Victo∣ry to your despair. Therefore, if you get the better of him be sure that you improve your Victory, to more assurance of Gods love in Christ.
Yea, (my beloved) for ought I know, there is no temp∣tation Page 240that a child of God meets withal, but he may im∣prove it to more assurance. As thus:
Surely, If I were the Devils own, he would never trouble me thus. When the strong man keeps the house, all is at peace, and all is at quiet. Now ever since, from the very first day that I have set my face towards heaven, and Christ; Oh! how have I been troubled, and tempted, and perplexed, and vexed in my spirit? Surely therefore, I am none of the Devils. Now if I had been his own, I should have been more quiet under him: but because I am thus troubled. I hope in the Lord I am none of the Devils, I am the child of God. Thus a man may improve.
And, Oh! what a good thing were it, if we did make improvement of our temptations! what gracious improve∣ment might we make of all our temptations? and what a blessed issue might we have in our temptations, if we did go unto Christ for succour.
I beseech you therefore in the Lord, when as any temp∣tation arises, go unto Jesus Christ, he is a succouring Christ. He hath National succours; and he hath Family succours; and he hath Personal succours: You have National temp∣tations; and you have Family temptations; and you have Personal temptations; Soul-temptations; temptations when you are alone. Therefore go unto Christ for suc∣cour.
To conclude, I beseech you (beloved in the Lord) go to Christ and try him, put him to it: The greater your temp∣tation is, the more fit work for Christ to cure: do not de∣spair, do not sit down; go to Jesus Christ, you shal find him better than I have spoken, you shall not find him worse; he will go beyond my words, he will not fall short of my words. As the Devill goes about like a roaring lyon, see∣king whom he may devour: So Jesus Christ in the Gospel, goes up and down with his succour, seeking whom he may succour. Go to him for succour: and the God of peace, even Jesus Christ himself, tread down Satan under our feet shortly.
SERMON III. Of TEMPTATION.
LUKE 22.31, 32.
AFTER our greatest injoyments of God, usually follow the greatest temptations of Satan. And therefore our Saviour speaks these words unto his Disciples. In the 19. verse of this Chapter, we find them at the Lords Supper with Christ himself; This is my body which is given for you; This do in remembrance of me. Having received the Supper with Christ himself, and having had sweet Com∣munion with him there, our Saviour gives them out a most gracious and blessed promise, at the 28, 29, & 30. verses, Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations, and I appoint to you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me: that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Having said thus unto them; He comes in the very next words to acquaint them with a great temptation that was coming down up∣on them all: and therefore these words are knit together with the former by the word And; And the Lord said, Si∣mon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired. Though you have had this Communion with me; and though I have made Page 242you this gracious and blessed promise, know, that there is a great storm of temptation coming down upon you.
Here are two things: The Danger of the temptation; and the Remedy against it. The Danger in the 31. and the Re∣medy in the 32. verse. In the 31. verse we have considera∣ble, The Tempter; called Satan, which signifies an Adver∣sary. The Tempted; and those are, not Simon only, but all the Disciples. Satan hath desiredyou: 'tis in the Plural num∣ber: he directs his speech unto Simon, but the temptation spreads larger upon all the Disciples: That he may sift you.
The Manner of the temptation, in Two expressions: Satan hath Desired you: according to the Original word, Satan hath challenged you into the field;* as one man does another: And hath desired you, that he may sift you as wheat, and leave you nothing but chaffe. Plainly then, here this Observation.
The Lord Jesus Christ does give leave sometimes unto Satan, [Doct.] to tempt and winnow his own and best Disciples; Christs own, and best Disciples are exposed to Satans temp∣tings, and winnowings: not Peter only, but James, and John, and all the beloved Disciples of Jesus Christ were exposed here unto Satans winnowings. He hath desired You, in the Plural number, not thee Pe∣ter only, but you all my Disciples, that he may sift you as wheat.
For the clearing and making out of this Truth, I shall labour to discover.
- First, What great power Satan hath to tempt, molest, and an∣noy the children of men.
- Secondly, That he puts forth this power especially upon the Saints, Christs own-and bestDisciples.
- Thirdly, How he comes by this power, and why God the Fa∣ther gives him this leave. And so to the Applycation.
First, [Quest. 1] If ye aske me, What power Satan hath to infest, mo∣lest, and thus to tempt the children of men?
I answer, [Answ. 1] First, ye know that Satan is an Angel still;Page 243and being an Angel, he is a Superiour creature to man, and therefore, according to the rank of Creation he hath a great deal of power over man. Man hath a great power over the Beasts, for man is a Superiour. The Beasts have a great deal of power over the Herbs, and the grasse, for the Beast is the Superiour. The Angels by Creation are Superiour to man, Satan, though fallen, is an Angel still: according to the rank of Creation, therefore he must needs have a mighty power over the children of men.
But he is not only a Superiour creature, [Answ. 2] but also a more Spiritual creature than man, he is a spirit; and upon that account, he is more able to come within a man, to close with a mans soul and spirit: being spirit himself, he is more able to converse with, to close and get within our souls and spirits.
Thirdly, He is able to suggest unto man whatsoever he plea∣ses, and to cast in a thousand sinfull objects into a mans mind one after another. [Answ. 3]
Yea, and he being so well experienced, [Answ. 4] having studied man for many thousand years: having gotten in all these years so much tempting skill and policy, he is able to dis∣cern what that bait is, that will take soonest with the children of men, according to their Natures, Constituti∣ons, Complexions, Ages, Sexes, &c.
Further, He is not only able to present and suggest; [Answ. 5] but he is also able to follow his suggestions. It is said, That he stood up, and provoked David to number the people: he did not only present that evill unto David, but he did solicite, he provoked David to number the people (saies the text.)
He is not only able thus; but he is able also, [Answ. 6] to bemire the phansie, to raise stormes in that lower region: A mans soul (ye know) it works by organs, it works by the body, and by the phansie: now Satan being able to disturbe the phansie of a man, is thereby able also, to hinder the very operation of the soul.Page 244
He is able to hold down a mans mind unto that parti∣cular thing, [Answ. 7] and to cut off al relief to the soul; so to befiege it, that unless relief comes immediately from Heaven, he is able to bow down a mans mind, and to hold it down un∣to that particular.
Lastly, [Answ. 8] satan hath so great a power, that the same words that are given unto God, and unto the holy Ghost for good, in Scriptnre, are given also unto Satan for evil. The holy Ghost is said to enlighten a man: Satan is said for to blind him, The god of this world hath blinded their eyes; saies the Apostle. The Spirit is said to Rule in us; Satan is said, To rule in the children of disobedience. The holy Chost is said, To work in us mightily, the same word is used for Him also. The holy Ghost is said, To fill the hearts of beleevers; They were filled with the holy Ghost: So are mens hearts said, To be filled with Satan: Saies Peter to Ananias, why hath Sa∣tan filled thine heart? Indeed, there are three things especi∣ally, wherein he does fal short: for though Satan is able to discern what temptations would take best with a man, yet he don't know mans thoughts, for God only is the knower of ones thoughts; that is Gods prerogative. And though Satan may work very effectually in the children of disobe∣dience, yet notwithstanding, he does not work with an Al∣mighty power. When the Lord converts a man, he puts forth an Almighty power in mans conversion. The same power (saies the Apostle) that raised up Christ from the dead, makes ye to beleeve. The Devil is Magnipotent (saies Luther) but not Omnipotent: the Devil may be very powerful, but he is not Almighty: neither does he put forht an Almighty power in his temptations, as God does in the conversion of a sinner. And though he may suggest, and provoke un∣to what is evil, he cannot force, or determine any man to evil. And therefore saies the Apostle Peter, why hath Satan filled thine beart? he asked Ananias that question, because Satan, though he did fill his heart, he could not have for∣ced, or determined him without his own will thereunto. But very powerful Satan is. In the 6. chapter to the Ephesi∣ans,Page 245you shall see the Apostle speaks thus much unto you there: at the 12. verse. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the ru∣lers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickdness in high places. He speaks concerning Satan, as you see in the former verse, Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil, For we wrestle not a∣gainst flesh and blood, &c. It is something for a man to have all the world against him, to have all man-kind against him: if all man-kind should be aginst one man, you would say, there were a great strength; but behold more than that, here is something more than flesh and blood that every man does wrestle against: For we wrestle not a∣gainst flesh and blood: all man-kind is but flesh and blood, and so ther's a weakness; but we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, for Authority; and against power, for Strength; and against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places. Oh! what a mighty power then hath Satan to in∣fest, molest, and to tempt the children of men.
Whether does Satan put forth this power, [Quest. 2] and exercise this his tempting power upon the Saints and Children of God?
Yes, [Answ.] for they are the Saints that the Apostle speaks of here, in that to the Ephesians; For we wresile not against flesh and blood. You that are Ephesians, and you that are Saints We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principa∣lities and powers. Properly, ye don't wrestle with a man that is down; ye wrestle with a man for to throw him down; but he must be a standing man that ye wrestle withal: ye don't wrestle with one that does run away but one that stands to it. Now all wicked men, they are down, but the Saints they stand, and they labour to throw Satan down, and Satan labours to lay them all along in unbe∣lief: but they properly do wrestle with Satan, for they stand, the other are fallen already.
Yea, the Saints are not only tempted by Satan; but the Page 246best, and the most beloved Disciples of Jesus Christ. In the old Testament: who more beloved than David, and Job? yet they tempted. In the new Testament, who more be∣loved than Peter, and Paul? One of the Circumcision, and the other of the Uncircumcision and Apostleship, and yet both had special temptations.
Yea, it is possible for one of Gods own children to be so far opprest with Satan, that he may even be weary of his life. In the 10. of Job, and the 1. verse, saies Job under his great temptations: My soul is weary of my life. And if Re∣bekah were weary of her life, because of the children of Heth: much more may a poor, gracious soul be weary of his life, by reason of these children of darkness, these po∣wers of darkness, these temptations of Satan.
But you will say, [Quest.] Why should Satan lie so heavy upon Gods own children and people? for he may know, that they shall be sa∣ved do he what he can: Satan had heard our Saviour Christ say to Peter, The gates of Hell shall not prevail against thee; and yet now Satan tempts: if Satan know this, why should he follow Gods children, yea, the best of his children so sorely with sad temptations?
Satan is the envious man we reade of in Scripture; [Answ. 1] and when he hears the Lord owning and honouring of his chil∣dren, then does his envy work and rise: and when he hears any of Gods children triumphing by faith, and ma∣king boast of the love of God, then does his malice kindle into a flame; shall such a one go to Heaven, and shall I be damn'd? (saies he) shall such a one be received, and shall I be cast away for ever? These are the boylings of this envi∣ous mans heart against the children of the most high.
But there is this great reason for it. [Answ. 2] Satan knows, that if he can but make Gods people, and the best of his chil∣dren fall; though they should not be damn'd, but pardo∣ned, that their fall shall be stumbling blocks unto others that may be damn'd. And therefore, I pray mark, how it is carried concerning Dauid: it is said, in the 1 Chron. 21. chapter, and the 1. verse. That, Satan stood up against Israel Page 247to provoke David to number Israel. It is not said thus, And Satan stood up against David, and provoked David to num∣ber Israel: no, but thus, And Satan sood up against Is∣rael, and provoked David to number the people: he stood up against Israel; why? because he know, that if he did make David thus to number the people, it would be a stum∣bling for all Israel, and all Israel should fare the worse by it. When Satan stands up, and tempts the master of a fa∣mily unto sin, he does not barely stand up against him, but in tempting him, he stands up against all the family. When Satan tempts a religious holy man, a beloved Dis∣ciple of Christ in a Town, Satan stands up against all the Town in tempting that one man. He stood up against Is∣rael, and tempted David to number the people: and so when he tempts those that are the most beloved Disciples of Christ, he stands up against others; and therefore though Satan knows, that their sins shall be pardoned, yet he does follow them with sad and sore temptations. [Answ. 3]
Thirdly: Satan loves to divide between friends: he is the great make-bait of the world, he loves to divide. He may know, that there is so much goodness between man and wife, that he shal never part them; and yet he will labour to sow discord between them, that they may live uncomfor∣tably. And so, though he knows he shall never part Christ and a poor beleever; yet he will labour to throw jealousies into the heart of a beleever concerning the love of Christ. He knew well enough what was said concerning our Savi∣our Christ: What was said by the Angels at the birth of Christ; what was said by the Angel to Mary; what was said by Elizabeth; he heard what was said from Heaven, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: and yet pre∣sently he comes to Christ with an If: If thou be the Son of God: laboring to throw a jealousy into the heart of Christ, and to doubt of his Son-ship, even with God the Father. So I say, although Satan should know, that the Lord will pardon such of such a man, yet he loves to make a division between God and the soul, and to cast in jealusies betweenPage 248
Christ and a beleever. As for others (saies he) they are my own already, I shal not need to break into that house, there is nothing but chaffe lies there; but here's a godly man, and here's treasure; and therefore he does especially lay his battery against the Satines, and those that are the most beloved Disciples of Jesus Christ.
But you will say unto me, [Quest. 3] How does Satan come by this tempting power; this infesting, and molesting power?
Great is the power (as we have read already) that he hath as he is a Superiour creature:* but Satan hath yet another power, and that is the power of Conquest; for in Adams fall, Satan conquered the whol world, all man-kind, they were the Devils conquest upon the fall. When a man is Converted, and trun'd to God, then he comes out of the kingdom of Satan. But I say, upon the fall the Devil made a conquest upon all man-kind, and so by conquest he hath a great power. Satan hath heave from God the Father to tempt; I don't say, that he hath a special leave for every temptation, not a special commission, or permission, or leave for every temptation; but there is no great, or extra∣ordinary temptation that does fall upon the children of God, but Satan hath a special leave from God the Father for it. There was a special temptation upon the Country, in his running their herd of swine into the Sea, and he had leave for that before he did it. There was a special temp∣tation upon Ahab, in the lying spirit of the Prophets, and he had a special leave, and permission from God for that. There was a special temptation upon Job, and he had a leave for that. Here was a special temptation coming down upon the Disciples, and he had leave for that. Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired you. He was fain to ask leave, and he had leave for that. There is no extraordinary, or great temptation befals any of the children of God, but Satan is fain to ask leave for it: he hath a leave for it, before he can come and tmept the soul.
But you will sa then unto me, [Quest. 4] Why does God the Father give Satan leave thus to tempt his own Children, and Christs own Disciples?Page 249
First: take it thus, Lood whatsoever is the end, [Answ. 1] and the issue of any evil which befals the children of God, that was the design of God the Father, in suffering that evil to come upon them. Now the end, and issue of the Saints tempta∣tion is alwaies good unto them; and therefore God suffers the temptations of his people, because he hath a design of mercy, and love upon them in these temptations. What was the end, and issue of Satans tempting of Adam and Eve? They fell and then the righteousness of Christ, and eter∣nal life thereby was brought in: this was the end and the issue of it. Now God the Father had this design upon Sa∣tans temptation, all the while Satan was tempting of A∣dam: and the Lord would never have suffered our heel to have been bruised by Satans temptation, but that he did in∣tend to break the head of Satan. It was a great temptati∣on, that of David, when as Satan stood up, and provoked him to number the people: pray, what was the end, and issue of that temptation? I shall only name the Scriptures: The 1 Chron. the 21. chapter: and the 22. chapter and the beginning of it, and the 2 Chron. the 3. chapter, and 1. verse, compared together, you shall find this: First Satan tempts David; he numbers the people, the people being numbe∣red, a plague breaks forth: the plague prevailing, David goes and offers up a sacrifice at the threshing flowre of Or∣nan; and there God told him the temple should be built. David had a long time desired to know where the Temple should be built: he saies, he would give no rest unto him∣self, no sleep unto his eye-lids, until he had found out a place for God: you shall find, that David had this place discovered as the issue of this temptation, this was the issue of it, the Devil had as good have let David alone, he had as good have been quiet, for David now had the end & the issue, attain'd unto that, that he never did attain unto be∣fore. So I say it is with the people of God, the Lord ne∣ver suffers his own children to fall into any sin, but he does intend to wean them from that sin that they do fall into, even by the falling into it: the Lord never suffers any of Page 250his own children to be tempted, but he intends to break the back of that temptation, even by their being tempted. This is the design of God the father: Oh! what a glorious design of love, and mercy is here upon all the temptations of Gods people!
But God hath yet greater, [Answ. 2] and higher designs: The Ma∣nifestation of his own Power; of his own Wisdom; of his own Faithfulness; of his own Love and Free grace.
The manifestation of his Power. When Paul was temp∣ted, and buffeted by Satan, the Lord said unto him, That his sirength should be perfected in weakness: in Pauls weakness, Gods strength should be perfected.
The manifestation of his Wisdom, The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, saies the Apostle.
The manifestation of his Faithfulness. In the 1 Cor. 10.13. The Lord is faithful, and will not suffer ye to be tempted above what ye are able to bear.
The manifestation of his Free-love and grace. And therefore, when Paul was tempted and bufferted by Satan, and prayed against his temptation, the Lord answered thus: My grace is sufficient for thee.
But in regard of the Saints themselves: How should they give a Probate, or Testimony of their uprightness, and sin∣cerity, their firm, and fast cleaving to God, if they were never tempted: reade for this purpose, the 13. of Deuterono∣my, and the 2. and 3. verses. Before Job was tempted, Sa∣tan thought that Job had served God for a boone, for some∣thing: Hast thou not seen my servant Job (saies God) I, saies Satan, but does Job serve God for naught? Job's an Hypocrite, all things go well with him, Job's in a fair, and blessed outward condition, and Job was never tempted; does Job serve God for naught? but now touch him, and let me tempt him a little, and see if he don't blaspheme God then: thus Satan then. And just thus is the language of the Devil now: Does such a man or woman serve God for naught? he is but an Hypocrite, all things go well with him, he was never yet tempted: but, O Lord, let this man or wo∣man Page 251come under my hand, and let me tempt him a little, and see if he don't blaspheme. Well Satan, (saies God) Job is in thine hand, only spare his lefe: And Satan did tempt him, and touch him: and in stead of blaspheming, behold blessing; The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be his Name: Here now Job gave a Testimony, that he did not serve God for something, that his heart was sincere and up∣right. And so, when men can hold out, notwithstanding all their temptations, they give a Testimony of their up∣rightness, and sincerity, and that their souls do cleave un∣to God in truth. For these, and many other reasons, the Lord doth suffer his own best, and dearest Children to be tempted by Satan.
I come to Application.
If God doth suffer his own people, and dearest children,* to be exposed to Satans temptings and winnowings: Why sould any man then doubt of his Child-ship, doubt of his own everlasting condition, and say, That he is none of the child of God because he is tempted? Beloved! I have seen a sore evil under the sun, a vanity even among the Saints, and people of God: Some doubting of the soundness of their condition, and the love of God, because they are not tempted; others doubt betause they are tempted. One saies, Oh! I am afraid I am none of the child of God, for I was never tempted, the children of God, they meet with temptations, but I was never yet buffetted, and therefore I am none of Gods child: Another on the contrary; I labour under these and these temptations, and therefore I fear that I am none of Gods child: yea, sometimes the same person thus: First, he does not observe his own heart, and saies he, I fear I am none of Gods child, for I never was tempted. Af∣terward, when he meets with temptation, then he doubts againe that he is not Gods Child because he is tempted: Oh! what Childish dealing is this with God your Fa∣ther!Page 252
But my beloved in the Lord, If this be true, That the Lord doth suffer his own, and best children, to be exposed to Satans winnowings, and temptings; then why shouldst thou conclude that thou art not the child of God, because thou art tempted? Oh! but, I don't conclude (will some say) that I am not the child of God, I don't conclude that the Lord does not love me because I am tempted, but because I meet with such and such temptations. Tell me, did not David, Job, Paul, and Peter meet with such and such, and so great temptations? Yea, did not Christ himself meet with it? Oh! but, my temptations are such as would make ones haire stand upright on ones head to thinke of them; sometimes tempted, even to lay violent hands upon my self: What think ye of Christ? when Satan spake unto him, and tempted him to throw himself down off the pina∣cle of the Temple. Oh! but, I am tempted with such temp∣tations that I am ashamed to name, and my heart akes, and trembles when I do reflect on them, even with blasphe∣mous thoughts. What think ye of Christ? was not he tempted to blasphemy? Saies the Devil to him, All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me: what greater blasphemy than to worship the Devil? to make a God of the Devil himself, what greater blasphemy? Oh! but, I fear, and doubt my condition, and the love of God to∣wards me, because my temptations are not as the temptati∣ons of Gods children, but my temptations are such as can∣not stand with grace, there is a spot, that is not the spot of Gods people: and are there not temptations, that are not the temptations of Gods people? have not wicked men their peculiar temptations, such as does not fall upon the children of God? I am afraid that my temptations are of that rank and of that sort, and therefore I fear and doubt my condition. Mark I pray, This same word Temptation may be considered two waies: Either in regard of the For∣mallity, or form of the temptation; or in regard of the Ma∣teriallity, or matter of the temptation.
Take now Temptation according to the propriety of the Page 253speech and phrase, and so wicked men are not said to be tempted by Satan; by their own hearts they are, but I speak of Satans temptations, properly the wicked are not said to be tempted by Satan. He is said to rule in them, in the children of disobedience; and he is said to lead them captive at his will: but if ye look into the new Testa∣ment, ye will not ordinarily find, that wicked men are said to be tempted by Satan. A man does not tempt his wife, but when he solicites another woman, then he is said for to tempt that woman. As the Sains are married to Christ, so wicked men, they are match't to Satan; and he is not in propriety of phrase said for to tempt them. Your men stea∣lers, those that steal children, they don't tempt their own children for to go with them, they naturally go with their father: but they come and tempt your children, they are other folkes children that they tempt. And so Satan, he is properly said to tempt those that are none of his children. A Master don't tempt his servant, he is not said properly to tempt his won servant to dwell with him, or to serve him; but he goes to another mans servant, and speaks to him to come and dwell with him, and to serve him. As for wic∣ked men, they are properly the servants of Satan; and therefore when the Devil solicites them to do that which is evill, or to dwell with him, and to converse with him, 'tis not I say in propriety of speech a proper temptation: but for the servants of Christ, when he solicites them unto evil, then he is properly said to tempt them. This for the form of a temptation.
But now, take a temptation in the Materiality of it, for the Matter of it, which is a solicitation to evil; and so wic∣ked men are tempted by Satan; yea, they are more temp∣ted than the godly are; that is, they are more solicited un∣to evil by Satan; and the same temptation that godly men are tempted with, wicked men are tempted with: and the same temptation that wicked men are tempted with, a god∣ly man is tempted with. As there is no Duty which a godly man does performe, but a wicked man may do it, Page 254for the Act, and yet remain wicked: So there is no sin, which a wicked man fals into, but a godly man may be tempted to it and yet remain godly.
But you will say unto me, [Object.] This evil that is upon my heart, is not the temptation of Satan, but indeed it is the corruption of mine own heart, and therefore I fear my condition. Indeed, if I were sure that it were only the temptation of Satan, I should never que∣stion Gods love, nor mine own condition because of it; but, Oh! I am afraid it is not a temptation of Satan, but the corruption of mine own heart, and therefore I fear all is not right with me.
This is no new thing, [Answ. 1] for Gods own people and chil∣dren, to charge all Satans temptations upon their own hearts, to lay all at their own door. Wicked men, they charge all their own corruptions upon Satans temptations, as if they were not their own, but altogether Satans: God∣ly men, they charge all Satans temptations upon their own hearts, and upon their own account, as if they were, all their own and nothing of Satans; this is no new thing. Adam and Eve, when they were fallen, and had eaten the forbidden fruit, then they were ungodly, in the state of nature presently upon the fall before they beleeved in Christ: and, saies Eve, This serpent gave me to eat; as if she should say, He hath done it, 'tis all his work, 'tis Satans work, and 'tis none of mine; being in her unregenerate state, she laies all upon the Devil, and free's her self, as if she had nothing to do with it. On the other side, David was provoked by Satan to number the people; yet not∣withstanding, see what he saies in the 2 Sam. 24. Chapter and the 10. verse. And Davids heart smote him after that he had numbered the people; and David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly in that I have done; and now I be∣seech thee, O Lord, take away the iniquity of thy servant, for I have done very foolishly. He laies it all upon himself: he does not go now and say, Satan hath provoked me to num∣ber the people, and 'tis Satans work and none of mine; but he does charge it here upon himself, as if Satan had no Page 255hand at all in it. I have done foolishly (saies he) and I have sinned, and forgive this great iniquity. This is usual; Wicked men excuse their own corruptions, by Satans temptations: Godly men aggravate Satans temptations by their own corrupti∣ons.
But in the Second place: [Answ. 2] Although this be so, that it is usual with the Saints thus to do, to charge all upon them∣selves, and nothing on Satan; yet know, that the Saints seldom or never do fall into any great sin, but Satan hath a special hand therein. I am not of Origens mind, to lay all sin upon Satan, not upon man; but I say, there is no great sin that any of Gods children do fall into, but Satan hath a special hand and a work therein. And therfore if ye look into the New-Testament, you wil find, That the sins of the godly, they are very often called Temptations: in the 1 of Cor. 10. Chap. and the 13. verse. There hath no temp∣tation taken you, but such as is common to man; but God is faith∣ful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape. Wherefore (at the 14. verse) my dearly beloved, fly from Idolatry, as if that were temptation too. And so in that 6. of Ga∣latians, 1. vers. If any man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thy self, lest thou also be tempted: lest thou also fall into sin. And so the Apostle saies unto the Thessalonians, in the 1 of Thessa. 3. chap. and the 5. vers. For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain. The meaning is, Lest you are fallen; but 'tis called temptation to them.
Thirdly, Although this be true, [Answ. 3] That there is no great sin that the Saints do fall into, but Satan hath a speciall hand in it: Yet it is the property and disposition of Gods people to be humbled and grieved under their temptations as if they were all their own and nothing of Satans. Peter goes out and weeps bitterly when he had fallen; He might have said thus: The Lord told me that there was a temp∣tation Page 256coming, Satan had desired to winnow me; and now the word of the Lord is fulfilled, Satan hath tempted me, and I am thus fallen: But not a word of Satan, but he goes out and weeps bitterly, as if it were all his own work. And let me tell you for your comfort, When as you can mourn over your temptations, as if they were all your own, and nothing of Satans, the Lord will pardon them to you, as if they were all Satans, and nothing of your own.
In the Fourth place, [Answ. 4] to speak a little of the difference be∣tween these that ye may know the difference between the temptations of Satan, and the corruptions of your own heart.
When as your heart, and your flesh trembles and quakes under the first rising, and motion of a sin, this is not your own corruption alone, but there is a temptation with it. When the corruptions of ones own heart does work up evil, a mans heart is rather pleased and tickled with it, and con∣sents to it, then any way ones flesh lie trembling, and qua∣king under it. That temptation is not much to be feared, when a man fears himself for his temptation. He is to be feared most, that does fear least: and he is to be feared least, that does fear most. A godly, gracious, man or woman, is humbled under nothing more than under his temptati∣ons; he looks upon his temptations as the greatest afflicti∣ons in all the world. As now, take that of Blasphemous Thoughts; Suppose a poor soul troubled with such evill thoughts, such a poor soul saies, I do professe it in the sight of God, I never met with such an affliction since I was born: I have lost Children; Oh! but that affliction is not like to this: I have lost friends; Oh! but that affliction is not like to this: I have lost my Estate; Oh! but that affliction is not like to this. Man or woman, if it be thy affliction, 'tis not thy sin. And I appeal to you now, you that say, ye don't doubt of Gods love, ye don't fear your own condi∣tion because of temptations only, but because ye are afraid they are the corruptions of your own heart, and not the Page 257temptations of Satan; I appeal to you that say so; Are ye not afraid in your selves because of your temptations? Don't ye look upon your temptations as your greatest af∣flictions? Nay, does not thy flesh quake, and tremble some∣times, when a temptation dashes, and beats in upon thy soul? does not thy very outward man, sometimes, lie qua∣king, and trembling, before a temptation? Certainly, this is not all the corruption of thine own heart, here's the De∣vils hand, here's a temptation in it, and, poor soul, thou maiest have some comfort yet; notwithstanding the oppres∣sion is so great, yet here is comfort, 'tis no other but what may stand with grace.
Oh! but you will say: [Object.] Suppose it be all the temptation of Satan, and not the corruption of mine own heart, yet 'tis a great affliction, and what comfort can I have in this conditi∣on?
What comfort! Is it not much comfort to know, [Answ.] that there is nothing does befal you, but what may befall a true child of God? Sometimes ye say thus: No mans conditi∣on is like to mine; did I but know that it is so with other of Gods children, then I should be satisfied: This Doctrine tels thee, That Christs own best Disciples, sometimes, are exposed to Satans temptings, to Satans winnowings.
Is it not a great comfort, for a man to know, that while he is tempted, Christ is at prayer for him? But I have pra∣yed for thee. In time of temptation you cannot pray, I but Christ can pray, and he is then at prayer for you: as he said to Peter, so he saies to every Disciple of his now, But I have prayed for thee: poor soul, though thou canst not pray thy self, yet I have prayed for thee.
Is it not a sweet comfort, for a man to know, that the E∣nemy is overcome before he strikes? Satans temptation is overcome by Christs Intercession; and Christ prayes before Satan tempts; But I have prayed for thee: before the temp∣tation came.
Is it not a choice comfort, for a man to know, that Satan Page 258the great tempter, hath no more power than my father gives him leave? Thus it is, Satan hath desired &c.
Is it not wonderful comfort, for a man to know, that there is something that he can never be robbed of? When a man is travelling in his journey,; if he meet with theeves, they take away the money that he hath about him; but when they have taken away all his money that he hath about him, well (saies he) though they have ta∣ken away my spending-money, and that which I did wear about me, yet I have land at home that they cannot rob me of. And so saies a child of God (or at least he may say so) when Satan comes and tempts him, and robs him of some comfort; yet blessed be the Lord, I have Union with Christ that I can never be robbed of; and I have an inheri∣tance in Heaven that theeves cannot break through and steal away. Satan may take away my spending-money, my spending comforts that I have here in this world; but Oh! blessed be God, I have such comforts, and such an E∣state, such durable riches that I can never be robbed of Oh! you that are the Saints and people of God, lift up your heads: you that have been bowed under temptation, these things have I spoken to you, that you may not be over∣whelmed with temptation, you that are tempted, but that in the midst of all you may breath out your souls in the bo∣some of Jesus Christ.
Well, [Object.] but yet you will say, It is not comfort that I look for, or that I follow after; but the truth is, I am sorely tempted, and Satan lies heavy on me, following, and dogging me at the heels to yeeld unto his temptations; what shall I say, or what shall I do, that I may not yeeld unto his temptations?
What shalt thou say: [Answ.] If it be possible, don't stand to treat with Satan, don't stand to parley with him; he will dispute you out of all your comfort if you stand and par∣ley with him. You have half lost the field when ye honour Satan, and you honour him when you follow him into his disputes: if it be possible therefore don't stand and parley, or dispute with Satan, but if you must say something to Page 259him, and ye must treat, ye must speak; Tell Satan then, That therefore you beleeve it, because he denies it: there∣fore you do not beleeve it, because he affirms it; that you beleeve the contrary, because he speaks thus. When ye are to deal with a great lyar, one that is your Enemy, & he comes and tels you very ill news, you will say, He is a lyar, and he is my Enemy, and he does it to scare me, and there∣fore I beleeve the contrary. Satan is a great lyar, and he is your Enemy, and therefore when he saies unto thee, There is no hope for thee, thou hast been a great sinner, a Drunkard for thus many yeers, a Swearer thus many yeers, there's no hope for thee: say, Satan, therefore I beleeve the contrary, there is hope for me, because thou saiest there is none, for thou art a lyar, yea, the father of lyes.
Again, If ye must speak with Satan; then speak of Christ, of grace, of the infinite love of God in Christ: he cannot stand before words of grace, and before words of love: not a word of grace, or of free love in all his temp∣tations.
Yea, If you must speak with Satan, tell him, Oh! tell him, what ye find in the waies of God, and tell him, that you beleeve beyond what ye find; thus: Satan, for the pre∣sent I find nothing but sweetness in the waies of God; thou toldst me that if I would turn godly I should never have merry day again, but I tell thee what I now find, I find of a truth, That the sowrest part of godliness, is sweeter than the sweetest part of wickedness. Satan, I find, that all that e∣ver thou toldst me is false; Thou saidst, I should lose all my friends: I have better. Thou saidst, I should lose all my comforts if I turned godly; I have better, Satan. And this I find, Satan; That all that ever Christ spake unto me, is true: Oh! I find infinite sweetness in the waies of God, and I beleeve beyond what I find: that if the wheels of pro∣vidence should run never so crosse, yet through grace I would beleeve. Beloved! ye know what the Apostle saies, Whom resist, stedfast in the faith: and by faith we quench his fie∣ry darts. Must ye therefore neds speak with Satan; speak Page 260to him words of faith; not of sence (man) not of reason, but speak words of faith; I charge ye in the Lord, if ye will stand and parley, and speak with Satan, speak words of faith to him, speak words in a way of beleeving; and 'tis only faith that brings Christ and the soul together in the time of temptation; and when Christ comes in, Satan goes out.
But you will say, [Quest.] I know 'tis a good thing and happy, so to answer Satans temptations as I may not yeeld: But Oh! that I might not be led into any temptation: what shall I do that I may prevent it?
Take heed that ye don't stand playing upon the borders, [Answ. 1] or con∣fines of any sin. If you stand upon the brink of a sin, Satan comes behind you and thrusts you into it. Some there are that tempt the tempter, that begin unto Satan, they drink to Satan the first draught, and Satan pledges them, and drinks unto them again. Would you (m• beloved) prevent temptation? Oh! take heed how ye stand playing upon the borders of any sin, the holes of the Aspes.
Again, [Answ. 2] If ye would prevent temptation: Then labour to get your hearts mortified unto the objects of love and fear. Satan tempts two waies: As a Serpent: And as a Lyon. When Satan tempts as a Serpent; then he does make a tender, and an offer of some comfortable, profitable, sweet thing: You shall be like God; You shall be as God, saies he unto Adam and Eve, when he tempted as a Serpent, came as a Serpent. And so dealing as a Serpent with our Saviour Christ, All this will I give thee if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Shews him the glory of the world, and all this will I give thee. So saies he unto a poor soul, when he tempts as a Serpent, Come and yeeld unto this temptation, and all this comfort will I give thee, and all this profit will I give thee, and all this repute and honor will I give thee. Thus as a Serpent. Sometimes he tempts as a Lyon: for he goes up and down as a roaring Lyon, seeking whom he may devour. And when Satan tempts as a Lyon, then he does roare upon a poor soul, and labours to scare him out Page 261of his conscience, and out of the good waies of God. And therefore in the book of the Revelation, Satan shall cast some of you into prison. Satan shall do it. And sometimes he does stand and rattle the chaines of a prison; Look, do ye hear these? If you will go on in such and such a way, you wil lose al your friends; & if you will go on in such a way, I wil make it too hot for you, and thus and thus shall you suffer, and it shall cost ye a prison ere I have done with you. Thus now Satan tempts as a Lyon, by holding terri∣ble objects before a man. It is said, That Satan came to our Saviour Christ, and he found nothing in him; so he prevailed not: But Satan comes to us, and he finds a great deal in us, he finds a disposition in us to be moved with ob∣jects of love, unto comfortable, and profitable things: He comes to us, and finds in us a disposition to be moved with Fear by terrible objects. Wherefore now (my beloved) do you desire to prevent the mischief of a temptation? Oh! labour more and more to die unto all the objects of your outward Love, and the objects of Fear; Die to the objects of Love, get your heart mortified to these two objects of Love and Fear. And be sure of this, if thou wouldst pre∣vent temptation, that ye labour more and more to walk in the light: Satan is the prince of darkness, and he walks in darkness: and he tempts in darkness. When night comes the beasts go forth to their prey, saies the Psalmist, And when Satan sees a poor ignorant soul, that walks in the dark, saies he, Here's a fit prey for me. Oh! therefore, you that are ignorant, and have sate ignorant under the Ordinan∣ces; for the Lords sake, labour to get more light, and more knowledge, get your heart opened unto every truth of God, labour to acquaint your selves more with Gospel∣light, and set your bosomes open unto every truth of the Lord.
And, beloved! whether you would overcome, or wha∣ther you would prevent temptation; what ever means you use; be sure of this, That you take your temptation and dip it in the blood of Christ. Take a candle, that is lighted, and Page 262only blow out the candle, the candle is easily lighted a∣gain: but when the candle is out, take it and put it into the water, and then 'tis not so easily lighted again: So now a temptation comes, and you blow it out with a Reso∣lution, and you won't yeeld to it, alas, 'tis easily lighted again: but now, take this candle, take this temptation, and come and dip it in the blood of Jesus Christ, and it will not be so easily lighted again; so you shall be able to pre∣vent temptation for the time to come: Never rest alone in re∣solving, but, Oh! take your temptation and dip it in the blood of Jesus Christ.
And if that you do overcome your temptation at any time; be thankful to God: if ye have more than flesh and blood against you, ye shall have more then flesh and blood with you. And therefore, have you overcome temptati∣on? go away and be very thankful, and say, Oh! though flesh and blood be against me, yet I have more than flesh and blood with me, praise the Lord much: And if you have been overcome with temptation, yet be not discouraged; for ye hear the Doctrine, God doth suffer his own dear chil∣dren to be tempted, to be buffeted, to be exposed to Satans temptings, and to Satans winnowings. But though ye be tempted, and it be a temptation of Satan, yet ye hear withall, That 'tis the property, and disposition of Gods own people to grieve, and mourn under their temptation as if it were all their own, and nothing of Satans. Where∣fore now (my beloved) having heard these things, think on them, and the Lord blesse them to you every day more and more.
SERMON IV. Of TEMPTATION.
LUKE 22.31, 32.
YE find that these words hold forth the re∣lation of a great storme of temptation coming down upon Christ's Disciples: The Danger of it. And the Remedy against it. Of the Danger somewhat ye heard from the 31. verse. And now I am to speak unto the 32. verse. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.
Here is somewhat Implied; and somwhat Exprest: Im∣plied, Satans Design, and his great Design upon their faith. Exprest, Christs love and care, his special love and care over them, and towards them in this temptation. As if he should say thus, Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to tempt you; not only thee, but all my Disciples: the temptation is great, and in this temptation, his great design is upon your faith: but I have spoken unto my Father, and your Father, that your faith may not fail. So that hence you may observe thus much:
He doth not say, But I have prayed for thee, that thy Prayer faile not, or that thy Patience fail not, or that thy Love fail not; but I have prayed that thy Faith fail not. So that Satans great design in all his temptations is upon the faith of the Saints, that he may make their faith to faile them.
For the further clearing, and opening of these words, and of this Truth; I shall labour to shew you.
- First, What it is for to fail in our faith: and how far the Saints may fail in their faith in time of temptation.
- Secondly, What an evilthing it is for the Saints to faile in their faith in time of temptation.
- Thirdly, That Satans great design in all his temptations, is upon our faith.
- Fourthly, How Satan labours to weaken our faith in the time of temptation: what strokes he gives unto our faith, and how we shall be able to bare off those blows in the time of temptation that so our faith fail not?
If ye aske me, [Quest. 1] What it is for to fail in faith here?
The word in the Original signifies, [Answ.] * an Eclipse, as the E∣clipse of the Sun, or of the Moon: and the words may be so translated, But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith be not Eclipsed. But according to the ordinary acception of that word Eclipse, Peters faith did fail, for it was much Eclipsed. The word signifies also, a total defect, such as Judas made, who of a Disciple became an Enemy, a Traitour; and in stead of beleeving, fell to despair: and so Peters faith did not faile. A mans faith is said to faile, Either when it fals short of what it hath been, or what it should be; and in both these respects Peters faith did fail: It fell short of what it had been, it fell short of what it should be. But there is a Two fold failing in faith: One in regard of the Acting and Exercise of faith; and another in regard of the grace of faith it self. In regard of the Acting, Working, and Exercise of faith, Peters faith did fail: but in regard of the grace it self, so it failed not. The Lutherans, they say and contend much for it, That a regenerate mans faith Page 265may fail totally, and finally in time of temptation: and so they say, that Peters faith failed here, when he denied his Lord and Master; because it is said in the next words, When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. As if his faith had failed so far, as he should need a new conversion. But that word translated, When thou art converted, (as divers of the learned do well observe) may be translated,*A∣gain, thus: I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not: and do thou strengthen thy brethren again: do thou re∣turn to that work again. And so you have the same word used in the Septuagint, translated in the 58. Psalm, at the 6. verse. Wilt thou not revive us again? The word in the He∣brew is thus: Wilt thou not convert, or turn unto us, and re∣vive us? which we translate, Wilt thou not revive us a∣gain? And so the words here may be translated, (being an Hebraisme) But do thou strengthen thy brethren again. But suppose that the words stand according to their present translation, it does not argue, that Peter did fail totally in this temptation: for, the whole life of a Christian here, is a continual converting, and turning to God: We repent, and repent again; turn, and we turn again. Every day we turn unto God yet more and more; every day brings forth another conversion: yet not so, as if the former con∣version were made void. And if the faith of a beleever would fail totally in the time of a temptation; what should be the meaning of those words, in the 1. of Joh. 5. Chapter, and the 18. verse. We know, that whosoever is born of God sins not; but he that is begotten of God, keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not: The wicked one: that is Satan, he toucheth him not. But now, if Satan could tempt a godly man, and prevail so far in his temptation, as to make his faith fail totally, then he would touch him to the pur∣pose: but (saies the text) he keeps himself, and the wicked one toucheth him not: and therefore his faith cannot fail totally, a regenerate mans faith cannot fail totally. And ye know what is said, in that 7. of Matthew at the 24. and 25. verses. Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doth Page 266them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which hath built his house upon a rock; and the rain descended, and the flouds came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell not, because it was founded upon a rock. Now every Beleever is founded up∣on a rock, (Christ) and therefore, though the rain descend, and the flouds come, and the winds blow, and temptations be never so great, he cannot fail totally, because he is built upon a rock. In the 13. of Matthew, ye know it is made the property of the false ground, that in the time of temp∣tation it fell away: Now if the good ground (a regenerate man) should fall away in the time of temptation; what difference were there between the false ground, & the good ground? Plainly therefore, the Scripture holds forth this truth unto us, That a regenerate man, a Beleever, though his faith may fail much, yet it does not fail totally in time of temptation. And thus Peters faith failed, and thus it failed not: In regard of the Exercise, and Acting of his faith, it did fail; but in regard of the grace it self, faith it self, so it failed not: and so it is, and may be with others of the Saints also.
Secondly: [Quest. 2] If the faith of a beleever do only fail in regard of the Acting, Exercise, and Working thereof, What great incon∣venience is there, or evil in the failing of his faith?
Much, (my beloved) very much: [Answ.] For though that faith fail only in regard of the Acting, Exercise, and working, he does lose an opportunity of glorifying God. 'Tis said of Abraham, That he beleeved, and gave glory to God. Faith gives glory to God: it glorifies his Power, his Mercy, his Faithfulness, and his Wisdom; not faith in the Habit, but faith in the Exercise of it glorifies God: and so much as a mans faith doth fail, in the Acting, Working, and Exer∣cise of it, so much he loseth an opportunity of glorifying God.
Moreover, He loses his own Comfort. Faith is a Com∣forting grace. Being justified by faith, we have peace with God. And in the 15. to the Romans, and the 13. verse, ye find, That Joy and Peace grows upon faith: Now the God of hope, Page 267fill ye with all Joy and Peace in beleeving. So much as a man does beleeve, so much Joy and Peace: if a man fail in the Exercise of his faith, he does lose his Comfort.
Yea, hereby also, he does lose his present prize. A Christ∣an hath a prize in this life; he hath a two-fold crown: A crown of glory in the world to come; and a present crown. And therefore saies the Lord unto the Church of Philadel∣phia, Hold fast that which thou hast, lest another take thy crown. Now if a man do fail in the Exercise of his faith, he does lose much of his present prize. Ye know how it was with Moses and Aron, ye reade of it in the 20. chapter of Num∣bers, and the 12. verse. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye beleeve me not, to sanctifie me in the eyes of the children of Israel; therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have promised them. They were shut out of the land of Canaan for not beleeving. But Moses & Araon did not lose the grace of faith, it was only failing in the Exercise of faith; their failing was not in the grace it self, but only they failed, in the Exercise of their faith, and they were shut out of Canaan for it. And Moses besought the Lord earnestly in prayer, that he would reverse this threatning, and it might not be; he was shut out of Canaan, meerly for failing in the Exercise of his faith. Oh! what an evil thing is it then, for a Christian to fail in his faith, though it be no more than in the Exercise of his faith.
Further, In this failing of ones faith, though but in the Exercise of it; A Christian does lose much of the benefit, and sweetness of the mercy promised. Look as it is with a wicked man, in regard of the judgment threatned; So with a god∣ly man in regard of the mercy promised. Now take a wic∣ked man, and let the threatning of God be fulfilled before him upon others, upon himself; he profits not by Gods judgments. Why? because that he don't exercise faith concerning the threatning; and so when the judgment comes, he profits not by Gods dealing, by Gods judgments, he loses the benefit of Gods dispensations that way. So I say with a godly man: let the promise be fulfilled, and pos∣sibly Page 268he does not find the sweetness, or the benefit of the mercy promised when the promise is fulfilled: Why? be∣cause he don't exercise faith in the promise it self. When as the Lord gave Manna, Moses had the seetness of it, why? because he exercised faith about it: But the children of Isra∣el, they make a tush of it, a light matter of it: why? because they look't upon it in a way of sence, & did not take it in a way of beleeving, and so they lost the benefit, and sweet∣ness of the mercy promised. Beloved! it is no small mat∣ter this, for to lose the benefit, and sweetnesse of the mercy promised: that a Christian loses by failing in his faith in regard of the Exercise of it; and therefore certainly it is a very evil thing: though their faith fail not in regard of the grace it self, yet if it fail in regard of the work, and the exercise of it, it is a very evil thing, and much incon∣venience comes unto the Saints thereby.
Thirdly, [Quest. 3] Whereby may it appear, that Satans great design is upon our faith in the time of temptation?
He does tempt most unto that sin which is the greatesi: and the sin against the Gospel is the greatest sin. [Answ.] Satans great de∣sign is, to hinder the work of Christ, the kingdom of Christ in the hearts of the Saint; to counter-work the Spirit of God. Satan does tempt that he may tempt: and the grea∣test temptation usually comes in the reare, comes at the last. Satan does tempt a man to break the Law; but he hath a further reach in that: for he tempts a man to break the Law, that so he may tempt him afterwards to sin a∣gainst the Gospel: he lies in ambush in one temptation, for to draw to another. When Satan tempted our first parents Adam and Eve, he tempted like a serpent, in form of a serpent: and so now too, he comes, and he winds a∣bout us in his temptation; but his sting is in the taile, and at the latter end. And thus ye see it was in the temptation of our Saviour Christ: his great design was upon Christs faith: in the 4. of mathhew, ye know he hath Three temptations there: and saies he, in the two first temptati∣ons, If thou be the Son of God? and If thou be the Son of God?Page 269And in the Last temptation: All this will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. He tempted him to Blasphemy, and Atheisme; and what greater unbeleef? So 'tis with the Saints also: Satan, he comes and tempts them to sowre∣nesse, frowardnesse, and passion in their families, but he hath a further reach upon that distemper: for (saies he) I will tempt this man or woman to passion, and froward∣ness, and when he hath been froward, and passionate, then I will tempt him to be doubting whether he be the child of God or no: first I wil tempt this man for to break the Law, and when he hath broken the Law, then will Itempt him to sin against the Gospel, then will I strike at his faith: his great design still is upon your faith in all his temptati∣ons.
But you will say, [Quest.] Why is Satans great design upon our faith in time of temptation?
He is the great Robber, or Theef: and if he can, [Answ.] he will be sure to spoil a man of that wich is the best. Now faith is more precious than gold; the trial of your faith is, faith is the gift of God: and therefore, if he can get any thing from a man, he will get that which is Gods gift. He is the great hinderer of all good, of every good work; and he will especially labour to hinder that work which is The work of God in a special manner: and this is THE Work of God, that ye beleeve in his Son. Satan knows, that faith is the most Beneficial grace unto the Saints: The Shield of faith, it is called; and the Anchor of faith. If ye be in a storm at sea; faith is your Anchor: If ye be in danger at land, before Enemies, faith is your Shield. If that a mans Faith fail, his Duties fail, his heart failes, and all failes. He knows well enough, that he shall soon make us suffer shipwrack, if he can but weaken faith, and there∣fore his great design is upon our faith. He knows, that faith is most prejudicial to Himself: for by faith we overcome the world; whom resist, stedfast in the faith; And by faith we quench the fiery darts of the Devil. Now then (saies Satan) Does faith quench my fiery darts? then will I labour to Page 270quench faith if I can. The Devil does labour alwaies to present himselfe in Christs cloathes unto a soul, as an An∣gel of light: and he does labout to rpesent Christ in his own cloathes, as an Angel of darkness. When as he is a lyar Himself, he does labour to make the soul put the lye upon Christ, and upon the Spirit. The Spirit of God, that comes and testifies unto a man or woman, Thou art the child of God: Satan saies, No. When a man there∣fore does say, He is not the child of God; the language of his action is, He gives the lye unto the Spirit, and he saies, that Satan speaks true: So here he makes Christ and the Spirit of Chrhist a lyar by his unbelief; & he makes the devil to speak true. Now this is Satans great design, and there∣fore, in all his temptations, still he strikes at the faith of the Saints, labours to weaken their faith; his great design is upon their faith.
In the Fourth place, [Quest. 4] How does Satan weaken our faith in time of temptation? What are those strokes that Satan gives unto our faith? and how shall we be able to bare them off?
In the general, [Answ.] Satan does sometimes labour to weaken our faith, By drawing us from the means of faith. Take the wood away from the fire, it will soon lose it's heat, if not put out. And if a man be but drawn away from the means of faith; the means drawn from him, or he from the means by his own default, his faith will be soon wea∣kened. This Satan labours to do sometimes.
Sometimes again, He raises up Mountains of Difficulties, and Discouragements in the way of a Christians obedience; and so labours to wound his faith. Throw water upon the fire it will soon be out.
But that I may speak the more fully unto this great Question, the answer whereof is of concernment every day amongst you.
Ye know there the Three acts of faith: There is the faith of Reliance; whereby a soul does relye upon God in Christ. There is the faith of Assurance; Whereby a man is perswaded of Gods love towards him, and his love to God, Page 271and that he is the child of God, And there is the faith of Acknowledgment; whereby a man does own, and acknow∣ledge the Cause, and Truth of Christ. I shall now spend some time, and shew ye, How Satan strikes at all these faiths: and withal labour to shew you, How we may bare off his blows, that so we may stand in the time of tempta∣tion, and our faith may not fail.
First, For the faith of Reliance: Satan does sometimes strike at the faith of Reliance in the Saints, by hiding from them their former Experiences of Gods gracious dealing with them. So long as a man hath the sight, and view of his Experien∣ces of Gods gracious dealing with him before, he does relye on God, and he saies, I will for ever rest upon God, and relye upon God in Christ, for thus and thus he hath dealt wth me heretofore. Now therfore, Satan does labour in the time of temptation, to hide the Experiences of the Saints from them, and so does strike at their faith, and labours to make their faith faile.
But then, How should we bare off this blow? [Quest.]
Thus, Take heed that ye never rest upon the promise barely, [Answ. 1] or only because of your Experience; but rather deal with your Experi∣ence because of the promise. It is a good thing for a man to come up to the Promise by the ladder of Experience: but it's better for a man to go down to the promise by his Ex∣perience. And if ye look into the 106. Psalm, ye shall find, that when a man does rest upon the Promise, barely by reason of his Experience, his faith will soon fail. The wa∣ters covered their enemies (at the 11. verse, 'tis spoken of the Israelites when they came through the red sea) there was not one of them left. Verse the 12. Then beleeved they his words. (Mark) now because of their Experience, now they belee∣ved Gods word, now they beleeved his promise by reason of their Experience; Then beleeved they his words, they sang his praise. But what became of this? Reade the next words: They soon forgate his works, they waited not for his counsel. So that I say, take heed that ye don't rest upon the promise barely, and only because of your Experience, for if your Page 272Experience be but out of the way a little, then your heart will fail, and your faith fail presently.
Take heed that ye never mourn for any evil, [Answ. 2] no not for sin it self, so as to be unthankful for, or unmindful of former mercies. We are very apt to this; and Satan he comes and tempts, and saies unto a poor soul, Are you speaking of former mercies, or blessings to be thanful for them? That is a good work for others, but as for you, you have committed such a sin, and it's your duty now to mourn for your sin committed, look you to that, to be humbled; apply your self to that work: and so when he hath gotten a mans heart fix't upon that work in opposition to thankfulness for former mercies received, the soul loses the sight of his Experience and so his faith failes in the time of temptation. Wherefore my Ex∣hortation is, that you may avoid this blow, and this stroke, Never mourn, no not for son committed; but still be thank∣ful for grace received, otherwaies your Experience will go out of sight, and then your faith failes ye.
Again, [Answ. 3] Satan does sometimes strike at the faith of Reli∣ance, Labours to weaken the faith of the Saints Reliance, By sundering or severing their souls from the promise. So long as a man hath the sight of the promise, and the pro∣mise is by him; a gracious heart saies, I wil for ever trust in God, and relye upon God in Christ, for thus and thus hath God spoken, and thus and thus saith the promise to me. But now, if the promise be gone, then a mans reli∣ance fails. Satan therefore, in the into of temptation, la∣bours to take away the promise; scaring the soul, or cog∣ging the soul from the promise; this he does many waies, but sometimes he speaks out thus: What! do you meddle with the promise? the promise don't belong to you, the Threatening belongs to you; you have finned so and so, and the Threatning belongs to you, but the Promise don't belong to you: And if he can but get the soul to beleeve this, then his faith failes.
Oh! [Quest.] but, How should we bear off this blow in time of tempta∣tion? for I confesse thus, by this temptation does Satan strike at Page 273my faith, and labours to make my faith to faile.
In this case, let a mans heart speak thus: [Answ.]
First: If the Lord do command me to beleeve, [unspec 1] then the promise belongs to me, for I cannot beleeve unless I apply the promise: now in this time, at this very time of my temptation, the Lord does command me to beleeve, else it were no sin not to be∣leeve; 'tis a sin for me not to beleeve, not therefore the Lord commands me to beleeve; but beleeve I cannot unless I apply the promise, therefore God would have me to ap∣ply the promise, therefore the promise does belong to me, and I may apply it.
Again, Let the heart speak thus: [unspec 2] If the Lord does give out a Threatning that it may not be fulfilled; and he does give out a Promise that it may be fulfilled: If the very applying of the Threatning, makes the Threatning not to belong to me; and the very applying of the Promise, makes the Promise to belong to me; then the Threatning does not belong to me, for I have applied it; and the Promise does belong to me, for I have applied it; Oh! I remember how my soul hath lien trembling before the Threatning, the Lord knows I have often applied the Threatning: but now this is true, That the very applying of the threatning, makes the threatning not to belong to a man; and the very applying of the Pro∣mise, makes the Promise to belong to a man; and therfore Satan, the Threatning belongs not unto me, but the Pro∣mise does.
But then again Thirdly, let him say thus: [unspec 3] If I be more godly now, than I was when Satan told me, that the Threatning did not belong to me; and the Promise did belong to me, then there is no reason for this temptation. When I went on in a way of sin, then Satan told me, the Threatning did not belong to me; and then he told me, the Promise did belong to me: Oh! but now I am more godly than I was then, I have more of Christ than I had then I am sure, & therfore Satan, Didst thou tel me, that the Promise did belong to me then? 'therefore it belongs much more to me now. Thon toldst me heretofore, when I went on in a way of sin, the Threat∣ning Page 274did not belong to me: now then the Threatning does less belong to me, for now I am more godly than I was then. [unspec 4]
But above all things, remember that of the Commamnd to beleeve. Luther was a man that laboured under great temp∣tations: and being once sorely tempted, and the teares trickling down his cheeks; saies he my friend (my spi∣ritual father) came unto me, and said, O my son! why doest thou mourne? doest thou not know that God hath commanded thee to beleeve? When (saies Luther) I heard that word, Command, that God hath Commanded me to beleeve; it prevail'd more with my heart, than all that was said, or thought on before. So say I now unto ye, Does Satan come with this temptation, and tell thee, the Promise don't belong to thee? Answer, I but the Lord hath Commanded me to beleeve (Satan) God hath Commanded me to beleeve, 'tis my duty now at this time to beleeve; but I cannot beleeve unlesse I apply the Promise, therefore I may go by commission from God unto the Promise, and the Promise does belong to me. Thus, give in these an∣swers, so shall ye be able to stand, and to relye upon God, and your faith of Reliance shall not fail. This is the first thing, The faith of Reliance.
Secondly, [Quest. 2] How does Satan strike, or labour to weaken the faith of Assurance, the Assurance of Gods people?
Much may be said here, [Answ.] 'tis a large field I shall only ga∣ther up some few things, and present them to you.
Sometimes Satan does labour to weaken the Assurance of the Saints, [unspec 1] By telling them that they have no faith. As∣surance is the flower of faith, it grows upon faith; but you have no faith (saies Satan) and therefore your assurance is naught. But how unreasonable is this temptation! for, observe I pray, in what rounds Satan goes: He tempts us to beleeve that we have no faith, because we have no Assu∣rance; and he tempts us again, to beleeve we have no Assu∣rance, because we have no faith. For answer hereunto, I shall only turn unto that 4. to the Romans: It is said of A∣brahamPage 275(at the 21. verse) Being fully perswaded, that what God had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore (at the 22.) it was imputed to him for righte∣ousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him: but for us also to whom it shall be imputed, if we beleeve on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead. Abraham was justified by faith, it was imputed to him for righteousnesse: and saies the Apo∣stle here, it was not written for his sake, but for us also. We are justisied as Abraham was, by the same faith, what faith is that? is it the faith of Assurance? Yes! he was As∣sured indeed, but I pray of what? He was Assured that God was able to performe: He being fully perswaded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. Abraham beleeved that God was able, and so relyed upon God, and hereby he was justified. So it shall be with men and women now: if they be Assured, and Perswaded, that God is able, and so relye upon God; this is the faith that justifies. When therefore this temptation comes, Answer unto Satan: Satan, thou saiest I have no Assurance, because I have no faith; but I have this Assurance that Abraham had, whereby he was justified, I beleeve God is able to help me, and so I relye upon God, and therefore (Satan) I am now justified, and stand righteous through Jesus Christ in the sight of God.
Secondly, [unspec 2] As he does labour to weaken the faith of As∣surance, By telling the Saints that they have no faith: So also, by telling them, That they have no Obedience, that they don't profit under the means, that they are not fruit∣full: where ever there is true faith, there will be Obedienee, and men will profit under the means, and be fruitful; but you are Unfruitful, and you are barren, and where's your Obedience? here's no Obedience, therefore no faith: So no Assurance, your Assurance is wrong.
Well, But how may we ward, [Quest.] and keep off this blow in the time of temptation, that our faith of Assurance may not faile?
Truly, this blow is not to be warded off, [Answ.] if this be true; Page 276That ye never were Obedient, never Fruitful, never profited by the means of grace; this blow fals dead upon the soul, this blow is not to be warded off, this is no temptation. But now, if ye have ever been fruitful, if ye have ever been obedient, if ye have ever profited by the means of grace; though for the present ye may seem dead: yet remember what Job saies, There is hope of a tree, though it be cut down, that by the scent of waters it will florish again. And so, there is hope of thy soul, that by the scent of the Gospel-waters thou maiest flourish again. But though there be no obedi∣ence in your own eye, though ye don't profit under the means in your own eye; yet your obedience may be in the eye of others: and in time of temptation, another mans eye is a better judge than your own.
But suppose there seem to be no obedience, neither in your own, nor anothers eye; yet the root of the matter may be in you. Ye know how it is with the fish, that are in the water, in a windy and a stormy day: ye put many fish into a pond; and in a faire, sun shiney day, ye see them playing upon the water, upon the uppermost part of the water; but in a rainy, and stormy day, ye see none of them there, but yet you say, they are all there, they are in the water, they are at the bottome, though you see them not. And so, it may be, in this stormy time of temptation, your obedience, and profiting is not seen, but it may be there as heretofore. Satan does never more presse a child of God, to try himself by signs of grace drawn from his own conver∣sation, than in the time of temptation. There is indeed a good use of signs drawn from our own conversation, but this is agreed upon by all, That there's no use of them in the time of temptation. And therefore saies Luther: In the time of temptation, I am as if there were no Law, nor no works, but only the righteousness of Christ in the world, and so I do rest up∣him. Does Satan come forth therefore with this temptati∣on, That you have no obedience, that you don't profit, that you are Unfruitful? Answer it thus: True Satan, I con∣fesse I am very Unprofitable, and therefore I will learn to Page 277profit more; I confesse I am very unfruitful, and therefore I will labour to be more fruitful: But (Satan) I will not now at this time determine about my Condition; for it may be a time of temptation: hereafter, at another time, I will come and determine about my Condition, and I will look after signes; but now at this time, it may be a time of temptation, and therefore I will forbear to winde, and draw up a conclusion, but leane my self upon God, and rest upon God at this time.
Thirdly, [unspec 3] Sometimes Satan does labour to weaken the Assurance of Gods people, the faith of Assurance, to make that to fail, By telling of them, that they have no faith at all, because they have no particular faith, no particular promise; for, saies Satan thus: faith and Wavering, faith and Doubting do not agree; He that beleeveth doubteth not: but now, you pray and doubt, you beleeve and wa∣ver, ye have no particular word for what you beleeve, therefore ye have no particular faith, so no faith at all, and therefore your Assurance is naught.
[Quest.] How should we ward off this blow?
[Answ.] In this case now, let a poor beleever say Two or Three things unto his own soul.
First, Tell thy soul this: [unspec 1] Though it pleases God some∣times to give out a particular word unto his people, a par∣ticular promise, in the time of Affliction, or Desertion (e∣specially) or temptation; yet the Lord does not therefore giveout a particular promise, that a man may measure his condition thereby; (there's a mistake) but the Lord does therefore give out a particular word or promise, to uphold the soul in the condition: not to measure out his condition by it, but to uphold him; and therefore, though I have not a particular word, or promise, I will not conclude a∣gainst my faith for this.
Again, Tell thine own soul, [unspec 2] That though it pleases the Lord to give out a particular word or promise sometimes; yet alwaies he does not. Hezekiah had a particular word for his recovery; but the three children had not a particu∣lar Page 278word, that they should be delivered out of the fiery furnace, yet they beleeved; and whether God deliver, or does not deliver, (say they) we will not bow our selves to this Idolatry. So that, though God is pleased sometimes, to give out a particular word or promise, yet alwaies he does not, and therefore my faith may be right (Satan) though I have not a particular word now for this businesse.
Again, [unspec 3] Tell thy soul this: That though God is pleased thus to indulge, and sometimes to give out a particular promise unto his people, and they have a particular faith concerning this or that businesse; yet there is alwaies a Waiting-faith that we reade of in Scripture. There is a faith of Recumbency, whereby a soul leans upon God, and commits his cause unto God: And there is a Waiting faith. Now therefore (Satan) though I have not a parti∣cular word, and a particular faith for this business; yet notwithstanding I have a Waiting faith, I can waite upon the Lord my God, and I can rest upon Jesus Christ: and therefore (Satan) I do yet beleeve, and my faith is right. Tell your own soul thus; so shall you be able to stand to your faith, and shall not fall off in the time of your temp∣tation.
Thirdly, [unspec 3] For the faith of Acknowledgement. Sometimes Satan does labour to weaken the faith of the Saints Acknow∣ledgement. He does labour either that they should deny the Truth, or not own it: either that they should deny Christ, or that they should not own him. So he laboured to make Peters faith to fail, by denying Christ. And therefore, he comes unto a poor soul and saies, If you will go on in this way, it shall cost you a prison; can you lie, and rot, and die in a prison? he rattles chaines in the ears of a poor be∣leever, and so labours to scare him away from his consci∣ence, and from his faith, and from the Truth and Cause of God, and the good waies of Christ.
How shold we ward off this blow? [Quest.]
First, [Answ. 1] Before the temptaton comes, labour to possesse your heart much, with the Mercy, and priviledge of suffe∣ring Page 279for the Cause, Truth, Name, and Way of Christ. To you it is given, not only to beleeve, but to suffer; 'tis a great Gift: A suffering opportunity, and a suffering heart, is a great Gift from God. Is it not a great mercy to be confor∣mable to Jesus Christ our head? For this Cause (saies Christ) came I into the world, that I might bear witness unto the truth, Is it not a great mercy, to be confessed at the last day before all the world, Angels, and men? He that confesses me before men, (saies Christ) Him will I confess before my father &c. Is it not a great mercy, to live and reigne with Christ a thousand years? ye know that Scripture; I shall not speak of the meaning of it now, but cerainly, there is a great deal of glory promised there, living and reigning with Christ a thousand years: and the promise is made unto those that do acknowledge, and own the Cause, and Truth of God and Jesus Christ. Possesse your heart much, with the priviledge, and mercy of bearing witness to the Truth, the Cause, and the good way of Christ be∣fore your temptation comes.
Secondly, [Answ. 2] If you would bear off the blow of this temp∣tation; Be sure that you look upon both sides of your suf∣fering, or bearing witness to the Truth, Cause, or way of Christ: the Dark side, and the Light side; let them not be sundered. When the Lord cals for any of his people to suffer at any time for him, he does give them more strength than before, and he does give them more Comfort and Consolation than they had before. Now Satan, comes and holds forth the suffering, he makes mention of the suffering; but he hides the Strength, and the Consolation. Either Satan holds forth the suffering alone; or else, if he do mention any strength, or comfort that a gracious soul shall have in the suffering, 'tis but the same strength that he hath now, he don't speak of the strength he shall have then, and the great Consolation that he shall have then when the suffering comes: and so these being parted, the Suffering and the Consolation being parted, now our faith fails. When ever therefore this temptation does Page 280come upon you, answer thus: Satan, here thou bringest the suffering before me, and causest that to come before me; but thou doest not tell me of the strength I shall have, and of the consolation I shal receive Satan, I shall not have the strength I have now, nor the consolation I have now, but I shall have more strength then, when the suffering comes, and I shall have more consolation, when as the affliction comes than I had before. Keep these together, don't look only upon the one side of your suffering, and witness-bea∣ring; but look upon both sides together, and thus you shall be able to stand, and ride out the storm of this temp∣tation.
But you will say, [Quest.] We have heard of the several blowes that Satan gives unto our faith: unto the faith of Reliance, unto the faith of Assurance, and unto the faith of Acknow∣ledgment; how he labours to weaken all these our faiths, and how we should bear off al these blows: But there may be yet some temptation (possibly) that does not fall within the compass of these temptations: these directions are pointed against these par∣ticular temptations; but I have other temptations that don't fall within the compass of these, whereby Satan labours to weaken my faith, and to make my faith to fail: What general Rules and Directions may be given, by which a man should so walk, as that Satan may not make his faith to fail in the time of his temp∣tation?
First: [Answ. 1] Before your temptation comes, while you are up∣on even ground; Study, and look much into the Scrip∣ture, and into every corner, and nook thereof, (as I may so speak) laying, and treasuring up Promises, and Words su∣table to every condition. Let the Word of the Lord dwell in you richly; that so when a temptation comes, ye may have a word sutable at hand, and this will help ye to bear off the strength of the temptation when it comes.
Secondly. [Answ. 2] Either a particular Word and Promise does come unt ye, or it does not, in the time of your temptation. If it do come unto ye, Take heed that ye dont' measure your selves, or your condition, by the warmth, and life, and inlargment of Page 281your heart which ye have at the coming in of the word. And if a particular word, or Scripture, and promise do not come unto you in the time of your temptation; don't mea∣sure your selves, and your condition, by the straightness, and deadnesse of your heart which you have at that time when a particular word does not come.
Thirdly, If temptaion come, [Answ. 3] Look much unto the infirmi∣ties of Jesus Christ: not the sinful infirmities, for so he had none, but he had many other infirmities. And ye know what the Spouse in the time of Desertion saies, in the book of the Canticles, His left hand is under my head, and with his right hand he does imbrace me. The right hand, is a hand of power; and the left hand, is a hand of weaknesse: and in the time of Desertion, and Temptation, it's a great relief to a poor soul, to consider the infirmities of Jesus Christ, his left hand is under our head then. As when a man is inlarged in heart, 'tis good to consider of Christs Example, that so he may be humbled under his inlargement: So when a man is in Desertion, or Temptation, it's good for to think of Christs Infirmities, that so he may not be over∣whelmed, or cast down too much.
Fourthly, If temptation do come, be sure of this, [Answ. 4] That ye don't conclude it is no temptation. Satan tempts, and then he tempts a man to think it is no temptation. So long as a poor soul thinks it is but a temptation, his heart is borne up with comfort, and he saies, It is but a temptati∣on, and it will be over shortly, and the Lord Jesus Christ will pity me, for 'tis but a temptation, and so his heart is borne up with comfort, waiting upon God: But if the Devil can get a man so far, as to make him think it is no temptation, but worse than a temptation; then his heart fails, and his faith failes. Therefore, I beseech ye, If a temptation come, don't conclude it is no temptation, but say, Oh! it may be 'tis a temptation, and therefore I will wait on God.
Fifthly, If temptation come, [Answ. 5] Remember thine own soul of the waies of God with thee. Gods waies (ye know) are in the Page 282deep, and his footsteps are not known: but as the Heavens are greater than the earth, so are Gods waies of mercy beyond our waies. Now therefore, if a drak temptation do come upon ye, and ye see no way to get out, say, O but my soul, remember Gods waies are infinite, and his waies are beyond our waies; and though I see no way, God hath infinite waies, he walks over mulbery-trees, and his waies have been in the deep; and so it hath been all along with my soul, and therefore now, O my soul, wait on God.
Sixthly, [Answ. 6] If temptation come, if Satan come, Do you run to Christ; and look how Satan appears to you, so do you apply the Attributes of Christ to you sutable to his temptation. Does Sa∣tan set a temptation unto your breast? observe what temp∣tation it is, and take an Attribute of Christ sutable to that temptation, and set it to the breast of that temptation. For Example: Does Satan come and tempt as a Serpent? Then remember, that Jesus Christ is the brasen serpent. Does Sa∣tan come and present himself as a roaring Lyon? Now re∣member, that Jesus Christ is the Lyon of the tribe of Judah. Does Satan come and present himself as an Accuser? Now remember, that the Lord Jesus Christ is an advocate. Be∣loved! in the time of temptation, ye are to run to Christ, that is true; but that is not all, but you are to observe how your temptation lies, and apply that Attribute of Christ to your soul which is sutable to your temptation: do this, and your faith shall not faile in time of temptati∣on.
Seventhly, [Answ. 7] and lastly. Above all things, take the Shield of faith. Take the Shield of faith, that your faith may not fail: for, the way to beleeve is to beleeve; the way to pray is to pray; the way to hear, is to hear; the way to receive, is to receive; the way to perform duty, is to perform duty; the way to exercise grace, is to exercise grace. When temp∣tation therefore does come upon thee, that thy faith may not fail, now stir up thy self to this work of faith, and to beleeve; and if ye beleeve that ye shall overcome, ye shall overcome; and if ye beleeve that ye shall prevaile against Page 283your temptations, ye shall prevaile against your temptati∣ons. And, poor soul, if thou canst relie upon Christ, and beleeve that thou shalt be justified, thou shalt be justified; and if thou canst by faith relie upon the Promise, the Pro∣mise shall belong to thee. Wherefore, stir up your selves now to beleeve when temptation comes. When ye have to deal with an Enemy here among men, I don't say, beleeve ye shall overcome your enemy, and ye shall overcome: a man may beleeve he shal overcome his outward enemy here in the field, and yet fall before him, and not overcome: but having to deal with this enemy, Gods enemy, your fathers enemy, and your enemy; beleeve ye shall overcome him, and ye shall overcome him.
[Quest.] But shall we overcome him Only if we beleeve?
[Answ.] Who ever thou art that speakest, or thinkest thus: Doest thou make on Only of beleeving? I tell thee from the Lord, It is an harder thing to beleeve, than to keep all the Commande∣ments: for there is something in Nature towards the keeping of the ten Commandements; but nothing in Nature towards beleeving in Christ. And, (poor soul) doest thou make an Only of beleeving? thou doest not know what beleeving means: but I say unto thee from the Lord, Beleeve that thou shalt overcome, and thou shalt overcome; beleeve that thou shalt prevaile against Satan, and thou shalt prevail against him; beleeve that thy sins shal be pardoned through Christ and relie upon him, and thy sins shal be pardoned. When∣soever therefore any temptation comes, Oh! run to Christ, cry unto Christ, and rest upon Christ, and say, Lord I do beleeve, help thou my unbelief.
Beloved in the Lord, ye have heard, That in all Satans temptations, his great design is upon your faith, to wea∣ken your faith: therefore, let it be all your design, in all your temptations, to strengthen your faith, and to look to your faith. Which that ye may do, think on all these things, and the Lord bless them to you.
SERMON V. Of TEMPTATION.
LUKE 22.31, 32.
THese words (as ye have heard) acquaints us with a great temptation that was to come down upon Christs Disciples. Con∣cerning which ye have here, The Danger of the temptation: And the Remedy a∣gainst it. For the Danger of the temp∣tation, I have spoken already: and now come unto this 32. verse, But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not. Here is something Implyed; and somthing Exprest. Satans design implyed, which is, and was, to weaken the faith of Christs Disciples, to make their faith to fail. And of that ye have heard already.
Now that which is exprest is; Christs tender care of, and love unto his Disciples in regard of their temptations. And this love and care of his towards his Disciples under temptation, is Exprest in many things. First in the forewarning of them, of a temptation coming upon them: there is his love and care, in that he told them of the temptation before it came. And then also, He prayed for them. Yea, He prayed for them before they were tempted. Yea, And he tels them that he did pray for them that they might have assurance of Page 286his help in the time of their temptation. Great was his love and care, to, and for his Disciples unders their temptati∣on. And so the Observation is this.
Christs love and mercy, [Doct.] is never more at work for his Disciples, and people, then when they are most assaulted by Satan. When Satan is most busie to tempt, and assault their faith, then is Christs love and mercy most at work, to keep and defend both them and their faith. We don't reade of such a pra∣yer for Peter before. We reade indeed, that our saviour said unto Peter; Ʋnto thee do I give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; Thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church: but we don't reade there, that he prayed for Peter. But here he prayes, and for Peter in particular: I have pra∣yed for Thee. Why? because now his temptations were to be more than Ordinary; and therefore Christs love and care was drawn out, and exprest in a more than ordinary way.
For the clearing of this Truth unto ye, I shall labour to discover.
- First, Wherein the love, care, and mercy of Christ, is expressed unto his people under their temptations.
- Secondly, That this love and care of his, is most expressed when they are most tempted.
- Thirdly, What there is in the heart of Christ, that does thus incline him to this indulgence, or mercy. And so to the Appli∣cation.
First, [Quest 1] If ye aske me, Wherein the love and care of Christ is expressed unto his people under their temptations?
I answer, [Answ. 1] First, In the ordering of their temptations. For there is no temptation befalls any of His, but he measures out the temptation according to their abilities. As a wise Phifitian, does not give the same Physick unto every person, but considers every ones ability; that which he gives to one, is too strong for another: he considers first the abili∣ty of his patient, and prescribes accordingly. Now, though our Saviour Christ don't direct Satan for to tempt, yet he does order him in tempting; and Satan cannot put Page 287the least dram into any temptation, but as it is measured out by the hand of Christ. And this is that which the A∣postle speaks plainly, in the 1. Cor. 10. Chapter, and the 13. verse. But God is faithful who will not suffer you to be temp∣ted above that you are able &c. that ye may be able to bear it.* The Psalmist David saies, Search me, O Lord, and prove me. That is (saies Gregory) First, O Lord, look upon, my strength, and then, if I must be tempted, suffer me to be tempted according to mine ability. Christ does measure out all the temptations of his people according to their a∣bilities.
Secondly, [unspec 2] As he does measure out their temptations ac∣cording to their abilities: So he does also, mortifie their temp∣tations, and weaken them as they come through his hand. Mor∣tifie them before they do come at his Disciples, and people, before they do come at you. And upon this account (partly) it is said, That we are more than conquerers, through Christ that giveth victory. Because our enemy is overcome before he strikes, and his blow is broken as he strikes. And therefore saies the Apostle, concerning our Saviour, That he hath spoil'd principalities, and powers, and made a shew of them openly upon the crosse. All your temptations, the power and strength of them were spoil'd upon the crosse. There's no temptation befals any of Gods people, but it is mortifi∣ed, and weakned before it does come it them, the sting, teeth, and the poison being taken out.
Thirdly, He does not only thus mortifie, [unspec 3] and weaken a temptation before it does come at us: But he does cause Sa∣tan so to lay his temptations, as that he may be discerned, and so o∣vercome, Satan tempted Adam and Eve; but he tempted in a serpent, and so Adam might easily have discerned the hand of Satan in it: for Adam knew all the creatures; he gave them their Names, & he knew their Natures: and he knew well enough the serpent could not speak to him; he might easily have known, that the hand of Satan was in the business. And so now, though God does suffer Satan to tempt his people, yet he does cause Satan so to lay his Page 288temptations, as that the black feet of the tempter may be discovered: and when a temptation is discovered, 'tis half overcome.
Fourthly, [unspec 4] He doth not only thus: But the Lord Jesus Christ, hath the Timeing of all our temptationps. Time is a great matter in the point of temptation. Should a temp∣tation come at such or such a time, possibly Gods child might be overwhelmed. I praise the Lord (saies one) I did resist such a temptation; but had it fallen out at such a time, I should never have been able to have stood under it. Satan observes his tempting times: he knowes that great advantage may be made unto him by his time. And there∣fore when Christ was an hungry, he tempted him to turn stones into bread: observed his time. And as Satan does observe his time to tempt: So our Lord and Saviour Christ, does set him his time; & the time of his temptations are in the hand of Christ. And therefore, if ye look into the 20. chapter of the Revelation, the 1. 2. and 3. verses, ye shall find to this purpose thus: I saw an Angel come down from Heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand: And he laid hold on the dragon, the old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years should be fulfilled, and after that, he must be loosed a little sea∣son. (Mark) The Lord Jesus Christ, hath not only the tempter in a chain, that he can go no further than he gives him leave to go; but his hand also, is in the hand of Christ, and Christ hath an eye to the Time of his temptati∣on, a special eye upon the time of our temptation, and this argues much of his care and love.
Fiftly. [unspec 5] He hath not only the Timeing of our tempta∣tions: But he does also Sanctifie our temptations, and does make them blessed means of our Sanctification. And there∣fore saies Paul, I received the messenger Satan for to buffet me, that I might not be exalted. Twice he hath that, That he might not be exalted out of measure. But for this I need go Page 289no further than the instance of Peter; before Peter was temp∣ted; what abundance of carnal confidence was there in Pe∣ter? Lord (saies he) though all men for sake thee, yet will not I. But now, I pray look upon him after his temptation, and you shall see how this carnall confidence was laid down: for, our Saviour saies unto him, Peter, lovest thou me more than these? Lord (saies he) thou knowest I love thee: but not a word of the comparative, More than these, he had left comparing now, having been under temptation, and ha∣ving fallen, his carnal confidence was gone; and he don't say now, Lord, though all men forsake thee, yet will not I: the comparison is left out now: he answers to the other part, but not a word to that. So that I say, If the Lord Jesus Christ do measure out all our temptation for us: And mortifie them before they come at us: And does cause Satan to lay them, as we may most easily discover them: And if the Lord Christ does Time our temptations for us: And sanctifie them unto us: Then certainly, there is much of Oh rists love and mercy at work for his people under their temptations.
Secondly, If you ask me yet further, [Quest. 2] Wherein is the love of Christ exprest, or drawn out unto his people under their temptati∣ons?
I answer, It is seen and exprest in this: In teaching of them, [Answ.] in, and by their temptations. Tempting times, are teaching times unto Gods people: the school of temptation is a great school. Luther said, that the temptations of Satan, were the imbracings of Christ: meaning, that then Christ did imbrace his people most, and discover most of his love unto them. Three things (he said) there were that made a Preacher: Meditation, Prayer, and Temptation. And in∣deed, when, or where does God or Christ reveal himselfe more fully unto his people, than in the times of their temp∣tations? 'Tis said, that at Massab and Meribah, the waters of strife and of temptation, there the Lord gave Israel his statutes. How many experiences do Gods people get, in, and by their temptations? tempting times are teaching: Page 290and Christ teaches his people by their temptations. Satans Buffetings, are the Saints schoolings.
Yea, [unspec 3] Thirdly, He does not only teach his people; But he does also bear up, and uphold their hearts with new supplies of his grace, and Spirit, in the times of their temptations. Christ does not suffer his people to go into new temptations, with old strength: but as a new temptation does come from Sa∣tan, so new supply of grace and strength does come from Christ. Saies David, in the 94. Psalm, and the 18. verse. When I said, my foot slippeth: thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. He does not say thus: when my foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord held me up: but when I said, my foot slippeth; when I thought I was quite rejected, cast off, and forsaken: when I said, my foot slippeth: then thy mercy, O Lord, held me up. As new temptations do come in, so new strength comes in.
Yea, and supplies of greace in Proportion to our tempta∣tions. My grace is sufficient for thee (saies the Lord to Paul) my grace is Fit for thee.
Yea, he does not only give out Proportionable strength; but an Cverplus of sirength. As the woman, that had oyle given her, not enough barely to pay her debt, but an O∣verplus to live on the rest. So Gods people in the time of their temptations, have not only strength given them to stand out against their temptations, but an Cverplus to live on the rest.
Yea, and they have not only in-comes of Assisting grace; but of Accepting grace too; more Accepting grace. God doth and will then Accept lesser than at another time. Though the prayer be weak, and the faith low; yet, saies the Lord, it is the time of temptation with this my poor servant; and therefore I will take the Duty, though it be never so little, because it is the time of temptation, it's a time of darkness, and a time of sadness. Ye know what our saviour said unto Thomas: Reach hither thine hand, and put it into my side: Come Thomas, if thou wilt not beleeve without it, I'le take thy faith, even upon these termes, for Page 291I know it is a time of temptation with thee. What grace! what love and mercy is here!
Yea, Fourthly. [unspec 4] The Lord Jesus Christ does not only come in thus, with supplies of grace, & strength in the times of temptation: But he does give his people an Ease, and a Remedy, a breathing time under their temptations, though they be never so sad, and never so great. Indeed, Job said, That God was his enemy, and would not suffer him to swallow his spittle, he followed him so close: but the good man was mistaken much: for at the same time, the time of his temp∣tation, he could say, I know that my Redeemer liveth; and he could blesse the Lord: he had his breathing time in the midst of all. When David was persecuted by Saul, he was under temptation, for, as the Devil casts some men into prison; so the Devil persecutes in wicked men: yet David had his breathing time, now and then, Saul given into his hands, as a pledge of that ful deliverance that David should have afterwards. And this is no other than that which the Apostle speaks of, in that same 1 of the Corinthians, the 10. Chap. at the 13. verse, Who will not suffer you to be tempted a∣bove that you are able; but will with the temptation also, make a way to escape. Make an Out-let, (so the word is;) He will make an Out-let. Though the smoke be very offensive, yet there shall alwaies be some window open for to let it out, or some door open for a poor tempted soul to go out at: stil an out-let, some breathing time in the midst of these temptations.
Fiftly, and lastly. [unspec 5] As the Lord Jesus Christ liveth for e∣ver to make intercession for us; So he doth it especially when his people are under temptation; then he prayes for them, and then especially. I will not determine, whether Christ now in Hea∣ven does intercede Vocally, or Really: but when Satan lies hard upon a poor tempted soul, and fetches blood from it, then does the Lord Jesus step in unto his Father, and present his wounds, and his blood, and saies unto his Fa∣ther, O Father, I have prayed unto thee, that this poor man or woman, may not fail in the time of temptation. Page 292Thus it was with Peter here; I have prayed for thee: and yet this was not the time of his full intercession, when he was here on earth. There are two parts of Christs Priestly Of∣fice: Satisfaction, and Intercession. The proper place for him to make satisfaction for sin, was here on earth: and in Heaven, the holy of holiest, he does make intercession; there he does do it fully, but he could not for bear while he was here on earth, but he saies unto Peter, I have prayed for thee. Though my great work in Heaven be to intercede, and my special work here on earth be to satisfie: yet notwithstan∣ding, I have prayed for thee already Peter. And the Lord Jesus Christ was heard in all that he prayed for. Now then, if the Lord Christ doth intercede here on earth for his poor tempted servants, and was heard here; how much more, when his Disciples are tempted, does he inter∣cede, and pray for them in Heaven, and is heard there. Satan may come running in upon you with his temptation: but when Satan runs in upon you with his temptation, Christ runs into the presence of God the Father, and spreads his blood, and his satisfaction for you, and there he saies unto the Father, Father, I have prayed that this man or womans faith may not fail. Oh! what grace and mercy, and love is here! Thus, in all these respects, (and many others that I might mention) is the love of Christ, and his mercy drawn out unto his people in the time of their temptation.
Well, [Quest. 2] But how may it appear, that Christs mercy is most at work, when his people are most assaulted by Satan? Christ deals by His, [Answ.] as God the Father did deal by Him. Now ye shall find, that Gods love was never more towards Christ, than when Christ was under temptation. When Christ came to die, Satan was very busie; it's called, The hour of darkness: so busie was Satan with all his malice a∣gainst him; yet then was the Fathers love towards Christ, then especially; for saies Christ, Therefore does the Father love me, because I lay down my life. If the Father did there∣fore love him, because he laid down his life, then his love Page 293was most at work towards Christ when this hour of dark∣ness was. And so I say, when you hour of darknese is, the hour of temptation; Christs love is then most at work because he deals by His, as the Father did deal by Him.
The truth is, Christs dealing with his Disciples, was a pattern and plat-form of his dealing with all his people, to the end of the world. Now ye shall observe, that Christs love was never more let out towards his Disciples, than from this time, after he had said these words, Satan hath desired to sift you as wheat. After this time they were all offended because of Christ, and they all forsook him: Pe∣ter denied him; some doubted whether he were the Messiah or no: and another would not beleeve his Resurrection; & as sheep, they were all scattered, and shattered; great was their temptations: yet from this time, do but observe the love of Christ towards them: after this speech, then Christ preaches a most excellent, and sweet Sermon to them, in the 14, 15, and 16. chapters of John. Then he takes wa∣ter and a towel, and washes and wipes his Disciples feet. Then he appoints the Lords Supper. Then he spends a whol chapter (the 17. of John) in prayer for them, makes a most excellent, and sweet prayer for them. Then he cals them his friends: Ye are no longer my servants, but my friends: Yea, his Children: Yea, his Little children. Never was his love more drawn out, or exprest towards them, than after this time. And (I say) this was a pattern, and a plat-form of his dealing with all his people unto the end of the world. And therefore, though Christ do suffer his own peo∣ple to be tempted, yet his love and mercy is never more at work than when they are most assaulted by Satan.
Thirdly, You will say, [Quest. 3] What is there in the heart of Jesus Christ, that does incline him to this indulgence toward his people, that his love and mercy is then most at work when they are most as∣saulted by Satan?
My beloved, [Answ.] There is the quintescence of all the excellen∣cy of loving relations in Jesus Christ. A Father, a Mother, a Brother, a Friend; He is the everlasting Father. And his Page 294soul was in travel (saies the Prophet) He is not ashamed to all you his brethren. And he is a Friend: I call you my friends. Now though parents be tender of their children at all times, yet especially when they are sick; then there's a chair of love stands by the childs bed-side. And so, though Christ be alwaies tender of his people, yet then especially, when their souls are sick; and labour under temptation. There is the greatest pity in Christ that can be, the most pitiful disposition in Christ; which is alwaies laid out where he sees a fit object for it: pray what is the object of pity? The object of pity is, One whom ye love in misery. If ye see a man in misery, yet if ye don't love him, ye don't pity him; if ye see a man whom ye love, yet if ye don't see him in mi∣sery, ye don't pity him, ye love him, but ye don't pity him: but a person whom ye love in misery, is the object of pity. Now all the Saints and people of God, are the be∣loved of Christ; and when they are in temptation, that is their greatest misery; and therefore, when they are most tempted, then is the love and mercy of Christ drawn out unto them especially.
Besides, The Lord Jesus Christ hath a great Interest, and share in every beleever, a share going in every beleever. As the member hath an interest and a share in the head; so the head hath also in every member. Thine they were (saies Christ) and thou gavest them me. Christ hath a special and great interest in all his people, and he will not lose his inte∣rest. The truth is, when Satan does assault a beleever, he does rather strike at Christ, than at a beleever. And therefore saies Gregory well, The Devil in tempting Job, did not so much strike at Job, as at God; for the Lord had said, That Job was an upright man: and now the Devil would go about to make Job an Hypocrite; so that the Devill would fain have made God a lyar; and he did not so much strike at Job, as at Gods testimony of Job, he did strike at God. And so now in all the temptations of the Saints, he strikes at Christ, and they bear those temptations because of Christ. Let a man go on in a wicked, and ungodly way, Page 295Satan won't vex him with temptations; but let a man once become godly, and be in Christ, and then, how many temptations will Satan vex him with? Now (saies Christ) shall this poor soul endure all this for me? and shall not I help? shall not I assist? shall not I deliver? If a man break his Arme, or his Leg before ye, you will pity him: but if he break his Arme, or his leg in your work, or service, in a work that you set him about, you count your self ingaged then to help him. 'Tis the work of Christ that the Saints are about, and Christ sets them on work, and when Satan comes to tempt, 'tis to disturbe them in the work that Christ sets them about: Now therefore, (saies Christ) shall they endure all this because of me, and because of my work? and shall not I assist, and defend them, and help them? Surely I will. Oh! my beloved, if ye did but know what an Interest Jesus Christ hath in every beleever, you would easily see the reason of this, so great tenderness in him, that his love and mercy is never more at work, than when they are most assaulted by Satan.
What abundance of Comfort is here unto all those that are the true Disciples of Jesus Christ! you are not alone in your temptations, Christ is with you; and he is in Heaven too, interceding, and praying for you: he hath sent his Spirit into your hearts, to make intercession for you there; and he himself is in Heaven, making intercession and pra∣ying for you there: when you are in temptation, Christ is at prayer for you. Yea, he does not only pray for you, but his love and his mercy is most of al at work then, when you are most assaulted. Oh! what Comfort is this!
But will some say, I fear this comfort belongs not to me, [Object.] be∣cause I am none of these that are Christs true Diseiples; Christ prayed for Peter, because be was his Disciple, and he prayed for therest, because they were his Disciples: but as for me, though in profession I may be a Disciple, yet really I fear I am no true Disciple of Jesus Christ, and therefore I fear that he does not pray, and in∣tercede for me in the time of my temptation.Page 296
Two things for answer to this. [Answ.]
First I pray consider that place in the 16. chapter of Matthew, and the 24. verse. Then said Jesus unto his Disci∣ples, If any man will come after me (or, if any man will be my Disciple, so some books hath it) let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Mark) Here are Three pro∣perties of a true Disciple. (To open the words a little un∣to ye, that I may settle this comfort the more fully upon your hearts.)
First, [unspec 1] A true Disciple does deny himself. So long as a man is in the state of Nature, he is alwaies in the Circle of self, and Satan keeps him in it: but when Christ comes, he gets out of that Circle, and then he denies himself. Self saies, (whether Natural-self, Civil-self, or Sinful-self) Thou art now minding Christ, and the waies of Christ: but mind thy Estate more, and thy Name more, and thy Firends and Relations more, and thy Health more, and thy Pleasures and Recreations more. Nay, (saies a true Disciple) but I must mind Christ more, I must mind mine own Soul more, I must mind mine Eternity more; so he denies himself; his sinful-self, and Civil-self, and Religious-self too: his self-reason, and his self-will, and his self-affection.
Secondly, [unspec 2] He does take up his Cross: A true Disciple takes up his crosse. 'Tis not said, He does bear his crosse with patience; there is a great deal of difference between these; Bearing of a mans cross with patience when it is laid upon him, and taking up his crosse when it is laid before him. Properly a man is said to take up his crosse, when there is Sin laid on one side; and there is a Crosse, and an Afflicti∣on laid on the other side: Now, either you must commit this Sin; or else you must endure this Crosse, or Affliction: Nay then, (saies a true Disciple) rather than I will com∣mit that sin, I will endure this affliciton; and so he takes up his cross.
Thirdly. [unspec 3] He does also Follow Christ. Some there are, that having suffered for the Name, and Cause of Christ; they then grow Proud of their sufferings, and they fal into foul Page 297miscarriages: But a true Disciple of Christ, when he hath taken up the crosse, he follows Christ: now properly a man is said to follow Christ, when he does do those things at Christs command, wherein Christ does differ from others. As now, a man is said to follow Luther, when he does fol∣low him in those things wherein he differs from Calvin: and a man follows Calvin, when he does follow him in those things wherein he differs from Luther. So a man is said to follow Christ, when he follows him in those things wherein he differs from others. There are some things wherein Christ and Nature do agree: Nature saies, That a man must do by another, as he would be dealt by himself; Herein Christ and nature agree. But Christ saies, A new comman∣dement give I unto ye, That ye love one another, as I have loved you: Here Christ differs from Nature. Nature teaches a man, That there is a God, and that God is to be Prayed unto; and that a man is to pray for his friends: But now Christ saies, Pray for your Enemies. I say, a man is pro∣perly said for to follow Christ, when he follows him in that wherein Christ differs from others. Now whosoever thou art that makes this Objection, That thou art not a Disci∣ple of Jesus Christ, and therefore he does not pray for thee in the time of thy temptation; I appeal to ye: Are ye not willing to take up your crosse? rather to endure that affli∣ction, than commit this sin? Do ye not set your self to de∣ny your self, your Pleasures, Recreations, Relations, and all for Christ? And do ye not desire to follow Jesus Christ in those things wherein he does differ from Anti-Christ, and from Nature, and from Moses? then surely, thou art a Disciple of Jesus Christ.
But besides this, Our Saviour tels us in the 17. [unspec 2] of John, That he did not only pray for those his present Disciples; but (saies he) I pray for all that shall beleeve on me through their word, verse the 20. What is it to beleeve on Christ? To rest upon Christ for life and glory in the time of our temp∣tation; this is to beleeve on Christ? Now in the time of your temptation, don't ye rest on Christ? don't ye relye on Page 298Christ? then Christ hath prayed for ye. And though thou art in such a temptation, as thou complainest, thou canst not pray, yet the Lord Jesus Christ hath prayed for thee: and he is heard in all that he prayed for.
But I fear (will some say yet) that the Lord Jesus Christ does not pray, [Object.] or intercede for me in the time of my temptation, because my faith failes me; Oh! my faith hath failed me in the time of temptation: did Christ pray for me, my faith would not fail, for he is heard in all that he prayes for; but Oh! my faith fails in time of temptation, and therefore I fear, that this love and mercy of Christ, is not at work for me in the time of my temp∣tation.
For Answer, [Answ. 1] First, There is a great deal of difference between the failing of your Faith, and the failing of your Heart. Possibly, your Heart may fail in time of temptati∣on, and yet not your Faith. Look I pray into the 73. Psalm, the 26. verse, and you shall find as much. Saies the Psalmist there, My flesh and my heart faileth. I but did not his Faith fail now? See what he saies; his faith stands notwithstanding this; But God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever: here's his faith. So that though his flesh failed, and his heart failed; yet his faith did not fail. There is a great deal of difference between a recoyling fit of a heart-failing in time of temptation, and the failing of ones faith.
Secondly, [unspec 2] It is one thing for you to fail in your faith in our own opinion; and another thing for your faith to fail in the opinion of Jesus Christ. When Peter denied his Lord and Master, in his own opinion he could not but think that his faith failed; and yet in the opinion of Jesus Christ his faith did not fail; for Christ prayed that his faith should not fail, and it did not fail, for Christ was heard in what he prayed for.
Thirdly, [unspec 3] There is great deal of difference, between the failing of faith, and failings that do accompany faith. The poor wo∣man that came to Christ, and touched the hem of his gar∣ment, failed very much, for shee came behinde him and Page 299thought to have stolen a cure: I but, though there were many failings that did accompany her faith, yet her faith did not fail; for she came and touched the hem of his gar∣ment, and was cured by her faith. So I say, there is a great deal of difference between the failing of faith, and the failings that do accompany faith: there may be many fai∣lings that do accompany ones faith, and yet ones faith may stand, and not fail.
But yet further, Whosoever you are, [unspec 4] that say your faith fails you, and therefore you are afraid that Christ prayes not for you: Man or woman, Did thy faith ever fail thee like Peters; didst thou ever deny thy Lord and Master as Peter did? and yet Christ said, I have prayed that thy faith fail not, and he was heard in the thing that he prayed for.
Oh! but, that was but one Act in Peter; [Object.] but my faith doth constantly fail; Peter denied, and his faith failed in the exercise as to one Act, but my faith doth constantly fail in time of tempta∣tion: I was heretofore more able to beleeve in the time of my temp∣tation than now I am; my faith is failed, and it constantly fails, and therefore I fear that the Lord Christ will not pray for me in the time of my temptation.
Well, But if you be more able to relye upon meer free-grace, [Answ.] than ye have been heretofore, then your faith is not less, but increa∣sed rather. If you be now more able to be contented with your condition, than you were heretofore. If you can let God and Christ alone, to use his own means about you. If you can leave the Events and successes of things, more unto God than you could heretofore; then your faith is not failed, but rather increased. Man or woman, if that you are able now to take those hints of a word which you could not heretofore. If your judgment be more setled in the Truth. If you be more contented to suffer now for the Cause, and the way of God than you were heretofore: Then thy faith is not failed, but thy faith is increased ra∣ther, and so thou comest within the compasse of the Lord Christs prayer.Page 300
Oh! [Object.] but yet (will some say) I have sinned greatly, very much; I have been a great sinner; and therefore I fear, that the Lord Jesus Christ will let me alone to wrestle with my temptations all alone, and will not pray and intercede for me in the time and hour of my temptation.
Well, [Answ.] I must yet say again to you: Hast thou sinned more than this Peter did, when he denied his Lord and Master? Yet Christ prayed for him, and his prayer took and prevailed. Have you sinned more than Jerusalem did? Oh! Jerusa∣lem, thou that stonest the Prophets, (saies Christ when they put him to death.) And yet if you look into the 1. of the Acts, you shall find, that Christ after his Resurrection, bids his Disciples for to stay and wait at Jerusalem, and not stir from thence; and preach the Gospel, and mercy, and free-grace in Jerusalem. Hast thou (man or woman, that makest this objection) sinned more than those that did put Christ to death? that run him into his body with a spear? that nailed him upon the crosse? hast thou sinned more than these? Ye know our Lord and Saviour when he was upon the crosse, he prayed for them; Oh! Father for∣give them, they know not what they do. But, (Lord) these are thine opposers, these are persecutors, and they persecute thee to death. Well, be it so, (saies Christ) I know what I do, and I know whom I pray for: Father forgive them, they know not what they do. Oh! what grace, and mer∣cy, and love is here! Comfort, yea, Comfort unto all the Disciples of Jesus Christ: when ye are in temptation, the Lord Christ is at prayer for you. And remember the Do∣ctrine; Never is his love and mercy more at work for ye, than when Satan is most busie about ye, to tempt ye most. What comfort is here! This was that (in part) that com∣forted the Martyrs in the Primitive times, ye reade of very great comforts that the Martyrs had in the Primitive times, those times next after Christ: I have desired to con∣sider, what it was especially, that bore up their hearts un∣der all those persecutions. And Turtullian, pitches upon this as one thing: We consider (saies he) the case of Peter;Page 301Satan desired to winnow him; Christ prayed for him. Here were (saies Turtullian) two requests before God the Father: One was the request of Satan: and another was the request of Christ. Now the Son having more credit with God the Father than Satan, his request must needs prevail: So (saies he) Satan hath desired for to tempt, and to winnow us, and persecute us; but the Lord Jesus Christ hath requested for us: There are two requests before God the Father; There's Satans request to winnow us; and there's the Sons request praying for us: Now therefore, seeing that the Son hath more credit with God the Father than Satan, therefore are we assured that we shall be up∣held, and our faith shall not fail. And so may you also. This is matter of great comfort unto all the Saints.
You will say, Indeed it is matter of great comfort: [Quest.] but is there no Duty that this Truth cals for at our hands? Here is much comfort, but what is that Duty that this Truth cals for?
Much every way. If I be an Ungodly man; [Answ.] what a migh∣ty incouragement is here for to get into Jesus Christ, that I may be in the number of the true Disciples. So long as a man is out of Christ, not a true Disciple of Jesus Christ; Satan may come and tempt, and do what he wil with him, and no Christ by to help. Satan could not hurt, or touch, or tempt Job, but he must ask leave: But Satan went to the Sabeans, and brought in them upon Jobs Estate, and he did not ask leave for that, they were in his power: He ruleth in the children of disobedience. Daniel was in the Lyons-den, and they devouered him not, their mouthes were stopt, and they could not hurt him: But when the Enemies were thrown into the Lyons, they crack'd, and crush'd their bones before they came to the ground. If a godly man, one that is a true Disciple of Jesus Christ, if he be in a den with these Lyons, Devils, their mouths shall be stopt, they shall not swallow him. But oh! for wicked men, that are not in Christ, these Lyons, they crush their bones, every day they crush their bones: and a wicked man may say as Saul did, The Philistims are upon me, and God is departed from me:Page 302So a wicked man, that is not in Christ, he may cry out and say, Oh! temptations are upon me, and Christ is departed from me, I have none of Christ to help me: as for the Saints, and those that are true Disciples of Jesus Christ, they have Christ at hand, though they fall, Christ is by for to help them up. And Christ himself measures out all their temptations, and Christ assists them, and helps them, but Oh! as for me, I am all alone in my temptations, I poor soul, am all alone in my temptations: Ah! who would be a Drunkard still? who would be a Swearer still? who would be an Unclean wanton still? who would be a lyar, and a Theevish servant still? Let me tell ye, that while ye go on in these sins, you are out of Christ: Poor soul, a Swearer, a Drunkard, a common Lyar, a Sabbath-breaker, a Wanton, out of Christ, and thy temptations fall heavily upon thee; the Lord knowes, thou art all alone in the time of thy temptations: Oh! but, get into Jesus Christ, get into Jesus Christ, to be in the number of Christs true Disciples; and when thou art tempted, the Lord prayes for thee; yea, and the love and mercy of Christ is never more at work for thee, than when thou art most temp∣ted, and assaulted by Satan. What a mighty incourage∣ment is here to al that hear the word of the Lord, to get in∣to Jesus Christ!
But if I be godly; and al this be true: Why should I quest∣ion the love of God towards me in the time of my temptati∣on? Beloved! ye know it in your Experience, ye are never more apt for to question the love of Christ, than in tempta∣tion; and yet Christs love is never more at work for you, than in temptation. Oh! what an unworthy answering of Christs love is here!
Again, If I be Godly: Why should I not be contented, and quiet under all my temptations, though they be never so great? Christ prayeth for me, Christs love is most at work now I am most assaulted, his bowels then yern to∣wards me.
Yea, If I be Godly: Why should I not with Paul Tri∣umph Page 303over all temptations? and make my boast of Christ, and say as he did, Now know I, that nothing shall separate me from the love of God in Christ; not Principalities, nor Powers nor Devils, nor Temptations; for when I am most tempted Christ is most at work in love for me.
Yea, (beloved in the Lord) why should we not all warm our hearts with this love of Jesus Christ? it's a mercy that the Lord Christ will cast but an eye, or a look upon a poor soul under temptation; that is a mercy: I but, I tell ye more than so; Christ does not only cast an eye, and a look upon a poor tempted soul, but his love and mercy is never more at work, than when you are most assaulted, and tempted by Satan: Ah, what grace, and heart-warming love is here!
If I be Godly: (again) upon this account, why should I give over so soon, and lay down my weapon in time of temptation? If a City be beleaguer'd, besieged, and know that help will come, they will not give over. And though I am thus besieged, and thus tempted, help will certainly come, for Christ hath prayed; why should I give over then in time of temptation?
And if these things be so, if there be so much love in the heart of Christ towards poor tempted souls: then (belo∣ved) should we not all run to Christ in the time, and hour of our temptation, run unto him by prayer?
It may be there are some that will say, [Quest.] If Christ pray for us in time of temptation, what need we pray?
But I pray look into this chapter, [Answ.] and you will find our Saviour carries it otherwise. In the text, saies he, But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fall not. At the 46. verse, Why sleep ye? (saies he) rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. So that, though he had said, That he prayed for them, yet he cals upon them also to pray. It's good praying (my beloved) when mercy is coming: and mercy is then coming when Christ is praying; and when you are most tempted, then Christ is at prayer.
But to end all. What ever your temptations there∣fore Page 304be, you that are the servants of God, still think ye hear Christ saying to ye, Man, Woman, be of good comfort, I have prayed for you: though thy temptations be very great, I have prayed for thee: thought thou canst not pray for thy self as thou wouldst, I have prayed for thee: when flesh fails, and eyes fail, and heart fails, and all fails, yet remember this, Christ prayeth for you, in the time of your temptation Christ prayeth for you: think that ye hear Christ speaking to ye in the time of your temptation, for certainly he does it as well to his Disciples now as he did to his Disciples then, he does speak and say, Be of good com∣fort, man or woman, though thy temptations be great, yet I have prayed for thee, and thy faith shall not fail.
THANKFVLNES Required in every CONDITION.
1 THESSALONIANS 5.18.
WHAT is written to the Thessalonians, is written for our instruction. What they are commanded as Christians, we are commanded as Christians.
In the latter part of this Chapter, se∣veral Exhortations were given to them: among the rest this is one: In which ye have, The Exhortation it self; In every thing give thanks. And the Reason in forcing that Exhortation: for this is the wil of God in Christ Tesus conerning you.
In every thing give thanks] In Prosperity, and in Adversity; whether things go well, or whether they go ill: In every thing give thanks. He had said before, verse 16, 17. Rejoyce evermore, Pray continually. Unto those Exhor∣tations he adds no such Reason as here: Because it may seem strange, that a man should give thanks in every thing; he adds also: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. So that plainly here lies this Observation, or Truth upon the words.
When we are Full, it will be granted that then we are to give thanks to God. Deuteronomy the 8. and the 10. But ye are not only to give thanks when ye are Full; but when ye are Empty: not only when ye are strong, but when ye are weak: not only when you are delivered from the hands of your Enemy; but when you are delivered into the hands of your Enemy.* Therefore Job saies, The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, blessed be his Name. Job was plundered by the Enemy, and yet he does blesse the Lord: Job was emptied of a full Estate, and yet he does blesse the Lord: Job had lost his dear Children, and yet he does blesse the Lord: Job in a great measure given up into the hands of Satan, and yet he blesses the Lord: for which he is com∣mended.
So then, It is our duty, and the will of God our Father that we should not only be thankful, but we should be thankful in every thing.
For, [Reas. 1] there is alwaies excellency enough in God, and Christ to entertain your Thankfulnesse, to draw out your Thankfulnesse, and Praises. Indeed, there is a formal, or notional difference, between Praising God, and giving thanks to God: Praises respect the excellencies of God himself: Thank∣fulness respect the benefits we receive from God. I praise God, when I honour him for the Excellency that is in him: I am thankful to God, when I blesse him for those benefits I receive from him. But now in Scripture, these are put one for the other ordinarily: and whatsoever our conditi∣on be, whether high, or low; rich, or poor; full, or emp∣ty: there is enough Excellency in Christ for to draw out our Praises; and therefore in every thing we are to be Thankful.
There is no condition so sad, [Reas. 2] but somewhat is good that is mingled with it. No darknesse so dark, but-some light withal. No misery so miserable but some mercy withal. Heaven is all Mercy: and Hell is all Misery: but this life Page 307is made up of both, 'tis a twi-light: Some good in every condition, and therefore, in Every thing we are to give Thanks unto God.
'Tis the duty of a Christian to be like unto Jesus Christ: [Reas. 3] he was thankful in Every thing. When he had not where∣on to lay his head, Father, I thank thee.* When he was to go to his agony, and sweat drops of blood; they sung an Hymne, (saies the text) a Psalm of Praise. So, when a Christian is to go to his agony: what ever agony he meets withal, there is rise enough yet for his Thankfulnesse: In Every thing be thankful. As the Apostle hath it in the 5. to the Ephesians, and the 20. Giving thanks alwaies, for all things unto God, even the father, in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You will say, Suppose that a Christian meet with some long, [Quest.] heavy, and sharp Affliction: is he to be Thankful then? to be Thankful in that condition?
Yes, Look I pray into the 24. of Esay, [Answ.] and the 15. verse. Wherefore (saies he) glorifie ye the Lord in the fires, even the Name of the Lord God of Israel in the Isles of the Sea. Glorifie ye the Lord in the fires; so ye reade it. Some rather translate it thus: Glorifie ye the Lord in Doctrines, Ʋrim, the same word that we translate, Ʋrim, for the Urim and Thummim: But I would rather translate it Valleyes; so Calvin: for Doctrines does not sute with that which follows: Glorifie ye the Lord in the Valleyes, even the Name of the Lord God of Is∣rael in the Isles of the Sea. A Valley is a low place, and dark: now (saies he) though ye be in a dark condition, removed from light; Glorifie the Lord in the Valleyes, glorifie the Lord there. And good reason why the Saints should do so: as ye will see, if you look into the 1. of Zachary, and the 8. verse. I saw by night, and behold, a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle-trees that were in the bottom, and behind him were there red horses, speckled and white. This man upon a red horse plainly must be meant Christ: who is here attended with red hor∣ses, speckled and white, to send forth, and dispatch into Page 308the several parts of the world upon his design. These o∣ther red horses, they are behind him, waiting upon him: Now where is Christ? He is among the myrtle-trees: And where are the Myrtle-trees? They are in the bottom. The Saints, and people of God for their fruitfulnesse they are called Myrtle-trees, and sometimes their condition is as a Valley; they are in the bottom; but yet they are Myrtle-trees in the bottom, and Jesus Christ is among these Myrtle-trees though they be in a bottom, though they be in a Valley: and therefore no wonder that we should praise, and glorifie God in this condition. Belo∣ved! what we may rejoyce in, that we may praise God for:* Now, saies the Apostle, Let the brother of low-degree re∣joyce in that he is exalted: and let the brother of high degree re∣joyce in that he is made low: Rejoyce in Tribulation. A man is to rejoyce more for the opportunity of exercising grace, than in all prosperity: there are some graces that cannot be exercised but in Tribulation, cannot be exercised in Heaven; Patience, and the like. Now then, when Tribu∣lation comes, a Christian should thus look upon it. I have hereby an opportunity of exercising that grace, that I had not before, and then he will blesse God, and then he will be thankful in that condition: when God takes a∣way one mercy, he gives another: if he take away Moses, he will give a Joshua: if he take away Ely, he will give a Samuel: if he will take away Christs personal presence, he wil send the holy Ghost. And the truth is, he does not so much take away, as borrow a mercy; and he payes it again with usery, and advantage: Onesimus goes away like a thief from Philemon, but he returns again with profit to him and others. As for these outward things, they will prove but debts at the great day of Judgment: riches now, and gifts now but debts then: and the lesse ye have of these out∣ward things, the lesse ye have to reckon for them. In a bad day, men they say, Oh! that I had less, my reckoning would be lesse: the lesse ye have, the lesse your reckoning will be. The comfort of a mans life, consists not in Much∣ness,Page 309but fitness to his heart. If a man have a great Farm, and a small stock, it is the only way to break him: it's better to have a Farm fit for ones stock, than a great Farm. The Lord he sees what our stock of grace is, and accor∣dingly he provides a Farm for every one of his Children; and sometimes it is lessened, but the reason is, because the stock of grace is no bigger, they have no more grace to stock it withal. Our Gifts, and our Parts, and our Prospe∣rity they are so strong sometimes, that God is fain to min∣gle water therewithal, that we may not be drunk. I ap∣peal to you: are not the Saints gainers by all their losses? are not they strengthened by all their weaknesse? are not they bettered by all their crosses? Surely then, in all things they are to be thankful: though their affliction be exceeding long, sharp, and grievous; yet they are to be thankful in that condition.
But suppose now, [Quest.] that it be Persecution that a man is to be exer∣cised with? and that is bitter: is a Christian to be Thankful then, even in that condition?
Yes, ye know what the Apostle saies; To you it is given, [Answ.] *not only to beleeve, but to suffer. Gods gift is worth our thanks. And saies the Apostle, All shall turn to the furthe∣rance of the Gospel. Is it not a great matter, and worth our praise, thankfulnesse; that we should be trusted by God to bear witnesse to his Truth? For this came I into the world (saies Christ) that I might bear witness to the Truth: It was his design; thereby ye are like to him, and so honour him. When were the Churches, and people of God more pure than under Persecution? and is it not a great mercy to be kept pure? The more you suffer for any Truth, the more that Truth shall be spread by you: you die, but the Truth lives: your Estate dies, and your Name dies, and your Li∣berty dies; but your dying Estate, gives a living testimo∣ny unto the Truth. When I am lift up saies Christ,* (mea∣ning upon the Crosse) I will draw all men after me: And so shall you do, when you are lift up upon the Crosse for any Truth, ye shall draw all men after that Truth that ye are Page 310lift up for. When have ye more communion with Jesus Christ, than when ye suffer most for his Truth? Is it not a great mercy for a man to be glorified on this side heaven? pray look upon that expression which ye have in the 13. of John, the 30. and the 31. verses, 'Tis said concerning Christ himself, that when Judas went out, having received the sop Jesus saith, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. Verse the 30. Judas, having received the sop, went immediately out, and it was night: therefore when he was gone out, Jesus saith, Now is the son of man glorified. Judas went out to betray him, to bring him to the Crosse, a false brother was gone out: Now is the son of man glorified (saies he) Not only, because the cross was the way to glory; but the truth is, he was glorified upon the Crosse, there was a glory there. You may observe it, He did many mira∣cles: and when he had done those miracles, he did not say then, Now is the son of man glorified. He was Transfigu∣red: and he did not say upon his Transfiguration, Now is the son of man glorified: But now he comes to suffer, now he comes to the Crosse; now (saies he) is the son of man glorified. And indeed, now is his love to poor sin∣ners glorified.* The Apostle saies, He triumphed over all prin∣cipalities and powers upon the Crosse; and his love triumphs over all our fins, and our guilt, and our unworthinesse: Oh! then was free-grace, and love when Christ was upon the Crosse: Now is the son of man glorified. And so it shall be with you: When a false brother goes out to perse∣cute you, to betray you, to bring you to the Crosse: you may say so, Now is the servant of the Lord glorified, now is my love to Christ glorified; never more glorified than now. This makes the Apostle Peter speak in the 1. Peter, 4.16. If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorifie God on this behalf. 'Tis matter of Praise, and Thanksgiving here: saies he (at the 13. verse) Rejoyce in as much as ye are partakers of Christs sufferings. Verse the 14. If ye be reproach't for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory, and of God resteth on you. That is (saies one Page 311upon that place) As Noahs Dove hovered over the water, and found no place for to rest her foot upon, untill she re∣turned to the Ark: So does the Spirit of God, as it were, hover over the souls of men, it wanteth rest: and when it sees a soul that suffers for the Truth, there it lights, there it rests, there the Spirit of God, and of glory rests. I ap∣peal to you: which will be most comfortable, think ye, at the day of Judgment; that ye have been persecuted for the Truth: or that ye have been a persecutor of the Truth? I know your Answer: When a Christian is under persecution, he may lift up his voice, and say; I might have been ingag'd a∣gainst the Truth: Ah! I might have been a persecutor of the Truth: but blessed be God it is not so. The Apostles went away rejoycing, that they were accounted worthy to suffer for the Name of Christ. Surely therefore, there is matter of praise and thanksgiving, even in this condition also, in this condition a Christian should be thankful: 'tis the will of God our Father we should be thankfull here.
But suppose that a mans inward, and spiritual condition be o∣verclouded, [Quest.] and God withdraw, and hide his face from a Christi∣an: shall he? can he be thankful in this condition? is it his du∣ty to be thankful now?
Yes, For though God do withdraw, [Answ.] though he do hide his face, and not shine upon a Christian: yet it may be light with him. Day may be day though the Sun do not shine forth in bright-beams. And it may be day light, it may be day upon a Christian soul, though there be never a beam shines. We are saved by faith, and not by feeling.
Again, Though Christ doth hide his face, though he doth withdraw his Comforting presence, he never withdraws his Supporting presence from a Christian; sometimes more of that, when least of the other. Christ deals by a Christian; as God dealt by Christ in his agony, and on the Crosse: though God withdrew his Comforting presence, so as he cry'd out and said, My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?* Yet he had never more of Gods Supporting presence: And Page 312so 'tis with a Christian. Though Christ may withdraw his Comforting presence, yet he never withdraws his Sup∣porting presence from them.
Besides, Jesus Christ does so withdraw from a Christian as he does draw withall by his Spirit. He seemed to with∣draw from the Canaanitish woman, but he did draw her to him by his Spirit. When he withdraws in the 5. of the Canticles from his Spouse, he leaues Myrrhe upon the rin∣gles of the door. And so, when he withdraws from a Christian, he leaues his Myrrhe upon the ringles of the heart: the heart cannot be quiet, cannot rest, takes no con∣tentment without him, he does draw the soul to him, while he seems to witndraw from the soul.
Lastly, What a man would not lose for all the world, that, you will say, is worthy of Praise, and Thankfulness. Now take a gracious soul, a godly man when he is most de∣serted, forsaken, left, as it were; and he saies, now Mercy is gone, now Christ is gone: Ask him but this Question: If Christ be gone, as you say, why don't you renounce Christ, and renounce all his waies? He will tell you, Oh! no, I dare not renounce him for all the world. But if he be quite gone, Why don't you turn Drunkard? why don't you turn Swearer? and why don't you cast off all duties? Oh! no, that I dare not: I have yet something left, that I would not lose for all the world. Is there not then matter of Praise, and Thanksgiving in this condition? Surely there is, even in this condition also.
But you will say: [Quest.] Suppose that a man be oppressed with sad Temptations, black and dark Temptations; God does not only withdraw, but Satan draws neer, heavy, and dreadful Temptations presse in upon him: is it the will of God the Father, that he should be Thankful in this condition also?
Yes, [Answ.] For is it not matter of Praise (think ye) and Thankfulnesse, that your Enemy is overcome before you strike a stroke? you shall be more than Conquerers: write your Enemy overcome before you fight.*Be of good comfortPage 313(saies Christ) I have overcome the world; and so the god of the world: Satan: your Enemy is overcome before you do strike a stroke.
Besides, Is it not matter of Praise, and Thanksgiving, That Satan can tempt you no more, than your own Father gives him leave to do? Simon, Simon,* (saies Christ) Satan hath desired thee, that he may winnow thee as wheat: Mark the words. He hath desired: he was fain to aske leave first, he could not winnow Peter till he had leave. And he could not winnow Job till he had leave: he hath not po∣wer to tempt you further than your own Father gives him leave.
Again, Is it not matter of Praise, and Thanksgiving, That nothing hath befallen you, but what hath befallen the best of Gods Children, the greatest Saints? Men say somtimes, Oh! never any ones condition like to mine: never any affliction like to mine. The most godly men have been most sorely tempted. In the old Testament: David, a man after Gods own heart: 'tis said of him;*The Devil stood up, and moved him to number the people. What a report did God give of Job: and you know his winnowing, and his continuance. In the new Testament: Two famous Apostles Paul and Peter. Peter, Satan hath desired to winnow thee: Paul, a messenger Satan, sent to buffet him. And our Lord Je∣sus Christ himself, In all things tempted,*that he might succour those that are tempted. Oh! beloved, how gracious will Jesus Christ be to tempted ones, that came from heaven on purpose to be gracious to them!
Further, Is it not matter of Praise, and Thanksgiving, That you have alwaies one for to run unto, to succour you, to relieve you in your temptations? a brasen serpent up against you be stung? Paul, therefore, in that 7. of the Ro∣mans: Having said, O wretched man that I am, who shall de∣liver me from this body of death? in the next words saies: I thank God through Jesus Christ. When Satan is tempting, Christ is praying, interceding:*Satan hath desired to winnow thee, (saies he) but I have prayed. You cannot pray: True∣ly, Page 314sometimes we pray most, when we pray least, for Christ prayes for us.
Again, Is it not matter of Praise, and Thanksgiving, That ye have such an Estate that these theeves can never rob you of? A Christian is a Traveller: the Thief meets him, and takes his money that he hath about him: But he hath an Inhe∣ritance of Land at home, the Theif cannot take away from him. And Satan by his Temptations possibly may rob you of these Comforts that are about you: But you have an Inheritance, and Estate (Christian) in heaven, that shall never be taken away, that you shall never be robbed of.
I'le conclude this, Is it not matter of Praise, and Thanks∣giving, That by this mud you shal be more cleansed? Beloved! this is Christs way: he suffers men to be tempted, that they may be freed from more temptations, and he suffers this dirt to be cast upon them, that they may be the more cleansed. Si∣mon, Simon (saies our Saviour) Satan hath desired to winnow thee as wheat: How so? Satan goes up and down like a roaring Lyon, seeking whom he may devour. True, that is his intent in his Temptations; Satans intent in the temptation, is not to winnow, that is Christs intent: Satans intent in the temptation is to devour, but Jesus Christs intent in al those temptations are to winnow. And who more konwing? who more gracious? who more humble? who more thank∣ful than those that have been most assaulted with a temp∣tation? Pray observe what is said in the 2 of the Corinths, 12. Chapter 7. verse. Saies Paul. Lest I should be exalted a∣bove measure through the abundance of revelations, there was gi∣ven me a thorne in the flesh, the messenger Satan, (so it may be read without, of.) The messenger Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure, again. See how that goes before and follows: it begins the verse, and ends the verse: Lest I should be exalted above measure, at the beginning of the verse: Lest I should be exalted above measure, at the latter end of the verse. As if now, that these temptations were special preservations against spiritual pride: 'tis set down twice, Least I should be exalted above measure; again, and Page 315again. Spiritual pride indeed is very dangerous. It was Mr Fox his speech: As I get good by my sins, so I get hurt by my graces: in regard of that spiritual pride he was guilty of upon the receipt of them. By Temptation God uses to keep men humble. The Hebrew word for Lees, the Lees of wine; comes from the root, that signifies to Keep, because the wines are kept by the Lees. And so God is pleased to keep men humble by these Temptations, in these Lees, and in these dregs God keeps mens graces. Temptations do you no hurt til ye yeeld to them. The greater the Temptation, and the more your flesh does tremble at it; the greater the Affliction, but the lesser the Sin. Temptation is the souls Rape: it may deflowre your soul, offer violence to your soul; it cannot take away your innocency. Now, it it not a great mercy to be kept innocent, and chast unto Je∣sus Christ? Austin hath a notable speech. If ye praise God under good things, ye are paid your debt: if ye praise God under evil, ye have made God your debter. The truth is, we can ne∣ver pay our debt to God, neither are we able to make God our debtor; but God is pleased to call himself so: when men praise him under Temptations, and under Persecuti∣ons, and under Desertions; God is pleased to call himself our Debtor. Surely therefore, it is good for a Christian to blesse God, and to praise God in every thing, in all things to be thankful: in Affliction, in Persecution, in Desertion, under Temptation: This is the will of God our Father, that we should be thankful to him in every thing, in every condi∣tion.
And if so,* then what great cause have we to be very Thank∣ful to God in these times. Had the Lord let in the Enemy up∣on you, ye should have been Thankful: Had ye been plun∣dered of all your Estates, ye must have been Thankful: Had ye lien at the mercy of the mercilesse Enemy crying for quarter; yet you must have been Thankful: how much more now. Had ye been emptied of all, ye must have been Thankful. Oh! shall we not be Thankful then un∣to God now, that hath given us such Deliverance, and such Victories as these?Page 316
You will say unto me; [Quest.] What special thing is there that we should be Thankful unto God for in these times?
Hath the Lord done such great things for England, and art thou only a stranger in Israel? [Answ.] Did ever England hear of such a year as this last year hath been? Can any Records tell us of such a year? May I not say, Stand out, O all ye Ancient Records from your dust, and tell us from the first day of Englands birth, Did ever England see such a year as this hath been? wherein the Power, and Mercy, and Free-grace of God hath rode in Triumph throughout the King∣dome?
Yet that I may not be wanting to you, to your Question: look I pray into the 107. Psalm, the 1, and the 2. verses: ye shall find it written: O Give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy indures for ever: Let the redeemed of the Lord say so; whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy. See who are to say so: Let the Redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath Redeemed from the hand of the enemy. Beloved! ye know that not long since we were in Captivi∣ty, I mean, a Spriitual Captivity: we sate down by the waters side, and said, How shall we do to sing a Christian song? The Lord hath Redeemed us, he hath Redeemed us out of the hand of our Enemies. And if the Lord hath not Redeem'd you out of the hand of your Enemy: don't say so: but if he have, Let the Redeemed of the Lord say so.
Pesides, Is it not worth our Thankfulness, that we have had so many daies of Thanksgiving together? A day of Fasting and Prayer, is a sweet day: a Thanksgiving-day sweeter, if I may make compate: For in a day of Fasting and Prayer, we deal with the anger, and wrath, and dis∣pleasure of God: In a day of Thanksgiving with the love of God, and the mercy of God. In a day of Fasting and Prayer, we exercise Grief: But in a day of Thanksgiving, we exercise Joy, and love. In a day of Fasting and Prayer, your eye is upon your sins: In a day of Thanksgiving, up∣on your graces, to be Thankful for them. As the fish Page 317swims upon the top of the water when the Sun shines, which in a storm lay at the bottom: and wood, and sticks tumbled up and down, and those were seen. So in a day of Thanksgiving, there ye see and take notice of your own graces, to be thankful for them. In a day of Fasting and Prayer, sometimes, ye are so humbled for sin committed, as the sence of your Justification is quite shattered: But in the day of Thanksgiving, your assurance for heaven is sealed: they are sweet daies. And beloved! you have had many of them of late; and surely this is worth our Praise.
But give me leave a little to Enumerate; for Enumera∣tion is one kind of Argument: Hath not the Lord from heaven, owned his own Cause in the hands of his servants, our brethren in the field? Hath not the Lord heard your Prayers? Hath not the Lord opened many Mines of preci∣ous Truths that ye never knew before? Hath not the Lord delivered you from the hand of a savadge Enemy? Those that lay among the pots, brought forth with doves-wings: Victory after Victory; one treading upon the heel of ano∣ther, overtaking another? Does he not daily load you with his benefits? I cannot say, as David in the 9. Psalm, and the 1. verse: I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart: I will shew forth all thy marveilous works. The for∣mer part, I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart, you will say: But the latter part, I will shew forth all thy mar∣veilous works; Who can say? they are beyond us.
And now Beloved, if it be our duty to Praise God, to be Thankful to him in every condition, when we are low: shall we not be thankful to him now, that the Lord hath raised us, and fill'd us thus?
You will say, [Object.] There's one thing that hinders us in the work of Praise and Thanksgiving in these times: A Reformation is now begun, and things do not succeed according to our desires in the matter of Reformation: should we? can we be Thankful now?
Yes, If the Lord give me a Child: [Answ.] should not I be Thank∣full for it, because it is not borne a man? When the Jews Page 318built the Temple; did not they shout, and praise God that the Foundation was laid? When the Israelites had overcome their enemies, in Samuels time; though the Ene∣mies were round about them, they set up a stone, and called it Eben-ezer,*Hitherto the Lord hath helped us. Beloved! in our Thanksgiving we are to be like unto Jesus Christ: He did not only praise God when he had the mercy, but before he had it, in the entrance upon it. When he raises up La∣zarus from the dead:*Father (saies he) I Thank thee that thou hearest me alwaies: and then he commands Lazarus to come out. But first he gives Thanks to God. In the Scripture, the holy-Ghost hath commmanded us,*To honour the Lord with our substance; and with the first fruits of all our increase. Ei∣ther ye have the first-fruits of Reformation; or not. If not: what mean all those precious Ears, and fruits which ye have been gathering in these latter times? And if ye have the first fruits, though ye have not reap't the harvest yet: then, honour the Lord with your substance, and with your first-fruits; So shall your barnes be fill'd with plenty, and your presses with the new wine of the Gospel. God does give one mercy as a seal unto another: a First as a seal to the Second: the Se∣cond as a seal to the Third: the lesser as a pledge of the greater. God does give a lesser mercy to try us, whether we will be Thankful, that he may give a greater. Beloved! these are trying times, God tries us whether we will be Thankful for what we have. A Reformation is now on foot: what though things don't succeed according to your desire, shall we not be Thankful for what we have, because we want something of what we would have? when then shall we be Thankful?
I but, [Quest.] 'tis not only want of Reformation, but many Er∣rours that are risen up among us in these times: and should we be Thankful now in this condition?
Yes, [Answ.] Shall I not be Thankful for some grace, because it is mingled with much Corruption? Shall I not be Thank∣ful for my field of Corn, because divers weeds are mingled therewith? Shall I cast away the kernel, because it is com∣past Page 319about with a shell? Luther, in the beginning of the Re∣formation, met with many Errours; and he comforted himself with this, When the Corn is grown, the weeds will die alone. Meaning this: When Reformation is come to greater strength, Errours would die alone. 'Tis said of our Lord and Saviour Christ,*He was numbered among trans∣gressors: Should not I love Christ, or own Christ, or be Thankful for Christ; because he was numbered among transgressors? The Errours of the time, you say, are the transgressors of the time: Shall I not love the Truth, and own the Truth, and be thankful for the Truth, because it is numbered among the transgressors, the transgressors of the time? Blessed is that man that can see a beauty in Truth, when it hath a scratch't face. And indeed every Truth hath a beauty; & the Lord hath given you out many Truths in these times, that ye were ignorant of before. Beloved! I do not say, that ye should be thankful for any Errour: we ought to be grieved for any Errour. But shall we be so mindful against Errour, crying out against Errour, Errour; as not to be thankful for any Truth we have? If the whole world were spread with Errour; that one Truth living: Jesus Christ died for sinners; there were matter of Praise. The more Errour does prevail, the more mercy it is, that you are kept. And truely, the only way, or a special way to be kept from Errour, is to be thankful for Truth. As a way to be kept from sin is to be thankful for grace: So a special way to be kept from Er∣rour, is to be thankful for Truth. So then, Notwithstan∣ding all this; yet you are to be thankful: Thankful even in this condition, though many Errours yet ye are to be thankful, to be in all things thankful, in every thing thankful. Thankful when ye are straitened, as well as when ye are most enlarged. Thankful when ye are Deser∣ted, as well as when God shines upon you. Thankful when ye are Afflicted, as well as when ye are Delivered. Thankful when ye have no Victories, as well as when ye have Victories. Some, it may be, now will Praise the Lord Page 320and be Thankful; hearing of so many Victories; and be∣cause there may be some hopes of Peace: But beloved, 'tis our duty to be in every thing Thankful: 'Tis the will of God our Father, that we should be Thankful in every thing, Thankful in every condition.
Give me leave to propound some few Incouragments hereunto: for it seems a hard thing to be Thankful in every thing, in every condition.
If you can be thankful in every thing; [unspec 1] even when ye are low: you will engage God for to raise you up: If when you are weak; you engage God for to make you strong: If when you are Deserted; you engage God to en∣large you, to shine upon you. It pleases God much, you cannot please him more, than to be Thankful in every thing, even when ye are low. For Example. Suppose a man be convinc'd of sin, troubled in Conscience, hath no assurance of Gods love in Christ: If he should die, he does not know whether he should go to heaven, or hell. Yet notwithstanding (saies he) what ever become of me, I bless the Lord that I am come hither: I was going on in the most sad condition: the Lord hath opened my eyes, I see indeed nothing but the wrath of God, due for my sins: but yet blessed be the Lord, that hath opened my eyes to see this: I, (saies the Lord) doest thou blesse me because I have opened thy eyes for to see thy sins? I'le open thine eyes for to see thy Saviour. Doest thou blesse me, because I have o∣pened thy eyes to see thy own heart, and the naughtiness thereof? I'le open thy eyes to see all my grace, and I'le cause all my grace to passe before thee. This engages God, when ye can be thankful for every thing, and when ye are low: it engages God much unto you.
Again, [unspec 2] Hereby your Afflictions shall be made blessings unto you. You say, How shal I know whether an Afflicti∣on be a blessing or no? Take this note: when thou canst blesse God under an Affliction, then thy Affliction is made a blessing: thy very blessing of God under an Affliction, makes thy Affliction a blessing to thee. Job, greatly affli∣cted Page 321and he blest God, and his Affliction was a blessing to him: so shall it be with you. Touch but thy Affliction with a Thankful heart, it will turn it into gold.
Moreover, [unspec 3] The more you can be Thankful for any thing, when ye are low; the more peace shall your heart, and your soul be fild with. Some of you, (it may be) want peace of Conscience; and ye say: Oh! that I had peace within, whatever become of me Outwardly: whatso∣ever the world do with me, Oh! that I had peace within.
To this purpose consider the 4. to the Philippians: saies the Apostle: Be ye in nothing careful (at the 6. verse) but in every thing, by prayer, and supplication, with thanksgiving; let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. This is the way to get a great, and a full peace: Be in nothing careful: be in all things Thankful, then the peace of God shall guard you.
Besides, Hereby ye shall shame the Devil: [unspec 4] your great adversary shall retreate from tempting of you, as one asha∣med and confounded. Some there are that shame the Saints: and are a shame to the waies of God, the Gospel: Some there are that shame the Devil: The Devil said unto God concerning Job, Do but touch him,*and he will curse thee to thy face. saies the Lord, He is in thy hand, only save his life: and Satan touch't him: what then? The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away; blessed be his Name. The Devil said, he would Curse God, and he blesses God: See how the De∣vil is sham'd, and confounded here. Some there are that make the Devils words good: Touch him, and he will curse thee to thy face: and so do some do, and thereby they are a shame indeed unto the people of God, and the waies of God. But when people can blesse God under Affliction: if ye in every this be Thankful; the Devil is confounded, God is much honoured. Wherefore (beloved) as ye desire that God may be much honoured by you: the Devil confoun∣ded: your own peace setled: all your afflictions turned into blessings: and the Lord engag'd to you, to raise you Page 322up when ye are low: learn out this lesson, not only to be Thankful when ye are full, but to be Thankful when ye are empty, to be in every thing Thankful, this is the will of God your Father.
How shall we do this? [Quest] (you will say:) how must that be done?
Some few things in answer to that, and so I will wind up all.
First, [Answ. 1] Observe your own temper, and accommodate your selves: put thy self upon that duty, and that grace, which thine own disposition lies next unto. God hath given us this indulgence.*Is any afflicted? let him pray: is any merry? let him sing Psalms. According to your dispo∣sition (saies he) that is the meaning: So let your work be, so let your grace be. It may be thou canst not Pray: by that time thou hast been at another duty that thy dispositi∣on lies more unto, next unto, thou wilt be fit to pray. It may be thou canst not Sing: by that time thou hast been at Prayer, which thy disposition lies next unto, thou wilt be fit to Sing, Let us not be more cruel to our souls than God is: he hath give us this indulgence: observe your selves, accommodate your selves; and by this means you shall be able upon all occasions to blesse and praise the Lord.
Again. [unspec 2] Be sure of this, that you maintain your Assu∣rance fresh, and green. It's a hard thing for a man to be thankful in every thing, that wants Assurance, Come to him for to praise God for a great work: but it may be (saies he) it came in Judgment to me, I have no Assurance. Strengthen your Assurance in these Three things, and it will cause continual Thankfulnesse, Thankfulnesse in eve∣ry thing: Assurance of your Interest in Christ, and Uni∣on with him: Assurance that all comes from love: Assu∣rance that all things work together for your good: and then if the Tempter come, and saies, Wilt thou praise the Lord? dost thou not see how all thy acquaintance hath left thee? and all thy friends left thee? you will an∣swer Page 323again, I but, all this is for my good, and all this comes out of love, and so what ever fals out, you will be thankful in every thing.
Desire not Much: he that desires much, [unspec 3] will expect much; and he that expects much, he won't be content with little, much lesse Thankful for every thing. Jacob was a plain-hearted man: he desired little, he was content with less, he was Thankful for every thing. So must you be.
And if you do desire much, [unspec 4] let your eye be as much upon what ye have: as upon what ye want. The Covetous rich man, having a desire to have more is not Thankful for what he hath: if you come to borrow money of him: (saies he) I have need to borrow of you, I am a very beg∣gar, I have nothing. His eye is so much upon what he would have, he forgets what he hath. So many times it fals out spiritually: let your eye therefore be as well upon what you have, as upon what you want.
Lastly, Be sure of this, [unspec 5] that you maintain the sense of your own unworthiness. No man more Thankful than David; no man more sensible of his unworthiness than David: Continually thankful; Continually sensible of his unworthines. There is a Two-fold unworthines: Creature-unworthiness: and Sinful-unworthiness. Accordingly a Two-fold sence of unworthiness: One that arises from the apprehension of creature-unworthines, of the emptines that is in us as Creatures: And another that arises from sense of guilt of sin. See them both in the 8. Psalm: The Psalmist there praises the Lord: O Lord our God, (verse the 1.) how excellent is thy Name in all the Earth! when I consider the hea∣vens, the work of thy fingers, what is man that thou art mindful of him? and the Son of man that thou visitest him. He praises the Lord, this Thankfulness was raised from the sense of unworthiness, it was Creature-unworthiness: Lord, what is man? O Lord our God, how excellent is thy Name in all the earth! Lord, what is man? Look into the 116. Psalm: and there ye find the Psalmist praising God upon the sence of unworthiness too: Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, Page 324our God is merciful. (verse the 12.) What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits towards me? here's his Thankfulness; it was raised upon sence of unworthiness: But what un∣worthiness? Sinful unworthiness: (verse the 11.) I said in my hast; all men are lyars: what shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits towards me? He was sensible of his own un∣worthiness, and it was a sinful unworthiness: I said in my hast; all men are lyars: yet God is gracious to me, What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits? So now it will be with you: if ye can but keep the sense of your own unwor∣thiness, you wil say; I was a wretched, and a great sinner, and though I have but little in the world, yet any thing is too much for one that was such a great sinner as I was: you will be Thankful for every thing, in every thing Thankful, maintain but this. Beloved! ye see how in all these troubles of these times, God hath given us our lives for a prey. As the Lord said concerning Job. Only spare his life:* So hath the Lord said concerning us, spare their lives. God did not deal so by our Saviour Christ: when our Saviour Christ came into the world, he met with hard dealing from wicked men, and his life went for it; he did not say, Only spare his life; his life went for it. You have more in this respect than our dear Saviour had: you have your lives given you for a prey in these evil times, our Saviour had not. Shall we not then be Thankfull in every thing? having more than our Saviour had in this re∣spect: shall we not be Thankful for any thing? for any thing that God gives us, shall we not now be Thankful? How many are there, that walke directly contrary unto this Truth that I have spread before you? In every thing Thankful, and they in nothing Thankful, in nothing con∣tented: Husband godly; Children hopeful; Estate com∣fortable; and yet never contented: Servants cannot please, Children cannot please, friends cannot please; never con∣tented: Oh! is this a duty, to be in every thing Thank∣ful? how do they lie in a sin, and the breach of this com∣mandement, that are in nothing contented, never pleased? Page 325Beloved! I don't now come to call for contentment, and patience, and quietness under Affliction; but for Thank∣fulness: and not for thankfulness only when all goes well with you; but for Thankfulness in every thing. Oh! therefore, let us return unto our own souls, consider how it hath been with us. If there be ever a discontented man or woman reade this Sermon: consider this Scripture: The Lord saies, be in every thing Thankful, and thou hast been in nothing Thankful, in nothing contented in thy condition. Oh! how will you answer it at the great day? Let me leave this Exhortation with you, in your bosoms: the Lord knows into what condition we may come; whe∣ther into Affliction, or Persecution, or Desertion, or of Temptation: Remember, here lies your duty before you; lay it up in your hearts: 'Tis the will of God, even our Father, that we should be Thankful to him in every thing: not in some things, not when things go well only; when we have Victory: but in all things Thankful: In every thing give Thanks unto God, for this is the will of God our Father concer∣ning you.
THE TABLE Of the First VOLVMNE
- AbsolutionABsolution of sin, how obtained by Christ Page 90
- AbilityDifference between ability of sufficiency and ability of I∣doniety Page 119
- Acceptance see Duties
- AfflictionAffliction and temptation used promiscuously in the New Te∣stament Page 103
- See Temptation
- AgreementThere was an Agreement made between God and Christ be∣fore the world was made Page 57
- AnointedChrist is anointed to be our High-priest Page 45
- AntichristAntichrist labours to derogate most from the priestly office of Christ Page 5
- ArgumentThe greatest argument to make us walk closely with God in Christ Page 50
- Those Attributes of Christ which are most beneficial to the Saints are most opposed by the world Page 4
- The same Attributes are given Page [unnumbered]to the Devil for evil that are given to God for good Page 244
- Avoid see Temptations
- What Christ doth when he bles∣seth men Page 80
- Christ blesseth as God blesseth Page 82
- Christs willingness to blesse men Page 83
- How Christ blesseth ibid
- Christ doth not blesse as man blesseth Page 84
- Whom Christ blesseth Page 86
- BlessingWhat will make a man to be al∣waies blessing God Page 95
- Blessings of the Gospel what they are Page 77
- Gods Blessings are sutable to the times of the Gospel Page 78
- See Comfort
- BlessedHow to know whether Christ hath blessed us or no Page 90
- Benefits see Temptation Brother see Christ
- C ChildshipMan ought not to doubt of his childship in time of tempta∣tion Page 251
- Christ called our father, and why Page 2
- Christ called our brother, and why ibid
- All our comfort in God comes through Christ Page 3
- Why Christ was made like to us Page 2
- Christs satisfaction for man en∣gageth man to Christ Page 20
- Christ prayes and intercedes for his people Page 25
- Christs willingness to intercede Page 44
- Christ was tempted in the same manner the Saints are Page 109
- Christ succours in Temptation Page 220
- Christ is troubled when we will not be succoured Page 225
- How to answer Christ in suc∣couring us Page 237
- What causeth Christ indul∣gence to his people Page 294
- See Priestly, Sacrifice, Sins Transcendent, Anointed, High-Priest, Intercession, Temptations, Faithful∣nesse, Duties, Prayers, Blessings, Love, willing∣ness, Mercy.
- ChurchThe Church is most pure under Persecution Page 309
- Page [unnumbered]
- What Comforts arise by Christs offering up of our du∣ties Page 64
- What Comforts arise by Christs blessing us Page 89
- How to find Comfort in temp∣tation Page 257
- CallThe not-minding of our Call leads us into temptation Page 114
- ConscienceWhy beleevers have their sins charged on their conscience Page 13
- ConditionNo condition so bad but there is some good in it Page 306
- Corruption see Temptation
- The New Covenant is foun∣ded upon the blood of Christ Page 19
- Difference between the Cove∣nant of works and the Cove∣nant of grace Page 55
- Christ was made a curse for sin Page 82
- All the Saints curses are turned into blessings Page 89
- DamnedThe reason why men are dam∣ned Page 230
- DealingChrists Dealing with his Dis∣ciples was a pattern of his dealing with all Saints Page 293
- Devil see Power Directions see Faith
- DiscipleMarks of a true Disciple Page 290
- DispositionWe have a Disposition in us sutable to the Temptation Page 114
- Christ presents our duties to God Page 52
- Christ draws the evil out of our Duties Page 55
- The great acceptance our duties have in Christ Page 60
- How to know whether Christ of∣fer up our duties Page 67
- See Weak, Comfort
- EgyptWhy the Children of Israel suf∣fered in Egypt Page 106
- EnjoymentAfter our greatest enjoyment of God follows our greatest temptations Page 241
- ErroursComfort against Errours Page 311
- Our Failings are passed by in Page [unnumbered]Christ Page 64
- The hurts of failing in faith Page 260
- Difference between failing in faith and failing in heart Page 298
- Failing in faith, how it is known ibid
- Faith being strengthened streng∣thens all graces Page 19
- Faith is our Anchor by sea, our Shield by land Page 116
- Satan aimes at the faith of man Page 264
- What it is to fail in faith Page 265
- How Satan weakens our faith and how to resist him Page 271
- Directions how to walk that our faith may not fail Page 280
- FallThe fall of one Saint is a sium∣bling block to others Page 246
- Father see Christ
- Gods inclination to hear Christ Page 32
- God alwaies hears Christ Page 57
- Gods people ought not to que∣stion Gods love Page 109
- See Christ, Promise, love
- GodlyGodly men lay all their sins up∣on their own hearts Page 254
- Gospel see Blessing
- GraceGrace is larger under the Gos∣pel than under the Law Page 68
- See Covenant
- Heart see Faith High-Priest
- Christ as High-Priest cannot refuse a poor sinner Page 20
- Difference between Christ and o∣ther High-Priests Page 223
- See Office
- Holy GhostThe holy Ghost dwels in the hearts of beleevers Page 79
- HumilitySpiritual joy causeth Humility Page 74
- Indulgence see Christ Incouragement
- Incouragementsto poor sin∣ners to come to Christ Page 48
- IntercedeChrist intercedes for all sins, that against the holy Ghost excepted Page 39
- See Christ
- Wherein the intercession of Christ consists Page 27
- The prevalency of Christs Inter∣cession Page 31 Page [unnumbered]
- It is no presumption to bear our selves upon Christs interces∣sion Page 41
- See transcendancy
- InviteTempted souls invited to come to Christ Page 230
- InvitationInvitations to come to Christ Page 93
- Joy see humility
- KeyesThe keyes of Heaven and Hell are in the hands of Christ Page 58
- Kingly officeThe Kingly office of Christ is not so full of comfort as his Priestly Page 5
- LibertyWe have liberty to go to the mercy-seat of God Page 66
- Christs Love described Page 98
- Gods Love doth not free a man from temptations Page 109
- Wherein Christs Love to his people in temptations doth consist Page 286
- MagazineThere is a Magazine of Mercy set open, and how it came to pass Page 16
- MercyWhen Christs Mercy is most at work for his Disciples Page 286
- Mercy-Seat see Liberty
- NakednesseChrist cloaths our Nakednesse Page 60
- ObedienceThe Obedience of Christ what it was Page 10
- OfficeThe Office of the High-Priest was to blesse the people Page 76
- See Priestly
- PowerWhat great power the Devil hath Page 242
- PraiseWhat matter of praise we have in Temptation Page 312
- PrayerOur duties are mixed with Christ prayer Page 56
- Presumption see Intercession
- PriestThe work of the High-Priest was to make reconciliation Page 6 Page [unnumbered]
- See Anointed, High, Christ.
- The Priestly office of Christ is the magazine of all our com∣forts Page 4
- The Priestly office of Christ is extended to none but such as shall be saved Page 5
- The Priestly office of Christ is our only releef against sin Page 6
- See Antichrist
- PropheticalThe Prophetical office of Christ is extended to such as shall not be saved Page 5
- Christs promises run Indefi∣nitely Page 17
- Relying on a Promise makes it our own ibid
- Prosperity see Thankfulnesse
- Resist see Satan
- Righteousnesse see Christ Robbed
- The Saints have something they cannot be Robbed of Page 258
- SacrificeWhen Christ died he offered up himself a Sacrifice for man Page 8
- SaintsThe Saints are not alone in temptations Page 295
- Sanctifie see temptations
- Satan tempts Gods dearest children Page 245
- Satan is very envious Page 246
- Satan loves to divide between friends Page 247
- Satan hath leave from God to tempt, and why he hath Page 248
- Satan hath a hand in all great sins Page 255
- Satans subtilty described Page 268
- See Faith
- SatisfactionChrist hath made full satisfa∣ction for all our sins Page 9
- SchoolThe school of temptations is a great school Page 289
- SinAll the sins of beleevers past pre∣sent and to come are laid up∣on Christ Page 9
- See conscience
- Sour see Sweet
- Storehouse see Magazine
- Stumbling see Fall
- How Christ succours those that are tempted Page 227
- We ought to be succouring Christians Page 235
- See temptations
- Page [unnumbered]
- Why God lets his people suffer Page 105
- Suffering see ability
- Tempt the signification of the word Page 99
- The best men are worst tempted Page 103
- Comfort for tempted souls Page 233
- See Invite, Satan.
- The Benefit of Christs tempta∣tions Page 35
- Temptations are corroding though they do not prevail Page 101
- How to walk under temptati∣on Page 113
- We ought to look up to Christ in temptations Page 237
- Temptations considered two waies Page 253
- Difference between temptati∣ons and corruptions of our own heart Page 254
- Temptations are the greatest Afflictions of Saints Page 256
- How to stand out against temp∣tations Page 258
- How to avoid temptations Page 260
- We must be thankful when we overcome temptations Page 262
- Temptations are easy to be dis∣cerned Page 287
- The time of our temptations is appointed by Christ Page 288
- Temptations are sanctified to Beleevers Page 288
- How it may appear that Christ succours most in time of temptations Page 292
- Benefits that arise from Christs Succouring in temtations Page 301
- See Call, Disposition, Christ, Enjoyment, Love, School, Saints, Praise, Comfort
- TermesThe termes Christ was admit∣ted into heaven upon Page 34
- Special things we should be thankful for Page 316
- Means to help us to be thank∣ful Page 314
- Thankfulnesse is required in every condition Page 305
- Encouragements to thankful∣ness Page 320
- ThanksThanks must be given in ad∣versity as well as in prosperi∣ty Page 305
- TouchingTouching how the word is ta∣ken in Scripture Page 108
- Page [unnumbered]
- The Transcendency of Christs offering Page 14
- The Transcendency of Christs intercession Page 35
- TrustThe great trust God reposed in Christ Page 58
- VictoryChrist gives us victory over temptations Page 287
- Walk see temptation Weak
- WeakDuties are accepted in Christ Page 62
- WickedWicked men lay all their sins upon the Devil Page 254
- WillingnessThe willingness of Christ to succour tempted souls Page 224
- WorkWhat the Work of a High-Priest was Page 6
- See grace
- YeildWe must not yeild to little sins Page 13