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beams of this love, that do not stand astonished at its nature and greatness, and who do not find something both of the depth and blessedness of that word, 1 John iv. 16. We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him. Try to say this particularly of yourselves, and you will find its difficulty. If you attain to it by the Spirit of faith, you will find its blessedness. Yea, what are all the blessed beholders and enjoyers of this love in heaven, but a blessed company of wonderers at this love? They are in the midst of the ocean of of this love, (whereof a few drops tasted by them on earth, made a begun heaven to them), blessedly swimming, diving, drinking, and admiring. But it is but very little of what they get there, and of what they do there, that we do or can know while we are here. Yet, believers, do you receive any spiritual blessing? Is it not a lovely spring it flows from, the Father's love to his Son, Eph. i. 3. ? Is it not a sweet name that thou shouldst by faith give to thy pardon, to thy sanctification, to the Spirit of prayer, and to any fellowship with God : “ This, and that, and all and every good I obtain, is all from “the love of God in Jesus Christ my Lord,” Rom. viii. 39. ? This way of conveyance proclaims, that all is of free grace, and this way makes the blessing sure and sweet. Thankful. ness for his unspeakable gift would rise higher, and be purer, and more constant, if we could read the name of the Father's love to his Son written (as surely it always is, though not always read) on all our mercies. This would make a crumb from the Master's table be earnestly begged, when we are hungry; and would make us, when we get it, prize it more than the greatest revenues of the wicked. This love of God in Christ is an ingredient in mercy, that makes the mercy swell up to heaven. It is an ingredient in the bitterest cup of affliction, that not only prevents any poison apprehended to be in it (and what is more usual to our unbelief than to call God's physic poison ?), and promotes our health thereby; but it doth also cool the fiery furnace, and sweeten it, and make it the place of love and praise; as it was to the three children, in Dan. iii. 25.
2. Learn, Christians, to use this argument in Christ's pray
er, in .
your prayers also. You see our Lord prays for his people on this argument, For thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. Let your faith chime to this prayer, and say, “ Fa“ther, I would be with Christ where he is, that I may behold « his glory which thou hast given him: for thou lovedst him 6 before the foundation of the world.” You daily hear, that you should pray to the Father in Christ's name. Now, what is it, but to raise our faith, and to embolden our confidence with God, merely on the account of that high love the Father bears to the Son? Blessed is the believer that can plead with God on the argument of the Father's love to his Son, That though we have nothing in us that is lovely in God's sight; though we can do nothing to make ourselves acceptable, or our desires successful; yea, though there be a cloud upon God's love to us: yet we build all our hopes of acceptance and success, and these hopes strong and high, on this lovely and beloved one, Jesus Christ, and on the Father's love to him. Whatever you want of God, you may ask, and ask it on the same grounds Christ prays for you upon. You will say, May every one ask on this argument? I answer, Every believer may, and ought'; and if he be wise, he will; and if he doth plead thus, he will prevail. But how may I know that I am a believer on Jesus Christ? The Spirit of Christ sometimes suddenly satisfies the doubting soul; and that is a great mercy. He shines on the promise, and makes it bright; shines on faith, and makes it strong and active; and manifests Christ's glory so as that the heart cannot forbear to believe, and love, and know that it doth so. But the common way, and the way of our duty, is, to satisfy our hearts as to our being true believers on Christ, by repeating the actings of faith on him. I say not, Believe that you do believe ; but I say, Believe on Jesus Christ, and you shall know that you are believers on him; as in 1 John v. 13. These things have I written to you that believe on the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. Faith is the evidence of things not seen, Heb. xi. 1. ; and the Spirit of faith in believers giveth evidence to faith itself. By this Spirit we know the things that are freely given us of God, 1 Cor. ii. 12.; and faith is a special gift of God. That word in 1 John v. 10. is of great extent, He that believeth on the Son of God, hath the witness in himself. I dare be bold to say, that there are few true believers, who are in the lively exercise of faith in Christ, and while in that exercise, but they are some way persuaded, that they are believers: in so far, that if Satan should say to the contrary, yea, or if the Lord himself should seem to say to the contrary; yet they cannot deny that they are believers on Christ. How can this be? say you. I answer, It is from the sense and inward feeling of the workings of their hearts, in dependence and trust on Jesus Christ for salvation. Is it not thus with you, Christians, whenever you are thoughtful about salvation; whenever you are terrified by the law; whenever Satan assaults you by the remembrance of your sins and ill-deservings: yea, whenever God writes bitter things against you, and maketh you to possess the iniquities of your youth, or riper age, Job xiii. 26. ? What do ye do? Whither do ye go? Is it not always to Jesus Christ by faith? Every true believer can readily answer these three questions, which no unbeliever can, Isa. x. 3. What will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the desclation which shall come from far? to whona will ye flee for help? and where will ye leave your glory? Every believer can answer, « Come what desolation will, I know “ what to do, I know whither to go for help, and where to “ leave my glory; even on Jesus Christ by faith.” You have no other answer to give to the law of God condemning you, to the devil accusing you, nor to your own conscience challenging you, but only this : « Jesus Christ came into the “ world to save sinners; his Father, in love to him and sin“ ners, sent him; he came and died in love to sinners: and “ I, on the good report of him in the gospel, do daily come « to him to be saved by him, and do look for salvation in him, « and by him, and from him; and all my sins, and unwor“ thiness, and fears, and the sad grounds of these fears, are « all but so many cords to draw me more and more to Christ “ by faith, and to bind me faster to him. And if I am a “ believer on him, I am one of those he prayed for in this « chapter, and in this verse, Father, I will that they also whom “ thou hast given me be sriik me where I am; that they may “ behold the glory which thou hast given me : for the lovedst me « before the foundation of the world. If Christ prayed so for " me, I may surely pray so for myself: for a better copy I « cannot follow. If Christ prayed so for me, he was surely " answered, and the blessing will be given; and I may firmly u believe, and patiently wait for the salvation of God. And “ I may also use the same argument for strengthening of my « faith, that Christ used to enforce his suit; even the eternal “ love of the Father to his Son."
This is indeed a great and marvellous salvation which God hath provided for his people. Marvellous in the way, Jesus Christ; and that the gospel doth now declare. Marvellous in the beginning and progress of this salvation. A sinner must feel grace before he know the grace of God in truth, Col. i. 6. He must have faith wrought in him, and acted by him, before he know what believing to the saving of the soul is, Heb. X. 39. He must be in heaven, before he know well what heaven is: yea, which is more strange, the believer must be in heaven, before he know perfectly the way to heaven. We know that Christ is the way; that we must enter into him by faith, as he is the way; that we must walk in him, and abide in him, and live on him, till we come home to his Father's house. But how Christ became the way to heaven; how he is the new and living way: how he consecrated himself as the way; how he was the beloved of the Father, and bruised with diyine wrath at the same time; how Christ the living head draws dead lumps of hell, and makes them lively members of his own body; how he knits and nourisheth them by spiritual joints and bands, Col. ii. 19. till he perfect them in himself, Eph. iv. 19. and Col. i. 28.; how he gives the last pull and drawing at death, and receiveth thern unto himself, John xiv. 2, 3. ; what Christ is now doing in preparing a place for them; and what he will at last do, in receiving them, and presenting them to his Father: these, and many such things, are matter for our daily exercise in faith, and hope, and wonder. Our main work while we are here, and without the vail, is, to be striving to get more and more into Christ by faith; and not only to get within the gates and walls of this city of refuge, (and the walls are salvation, and the gates praise, Isa. Ix. 18.), but also to get VOL. II.
into his palaces, where he giveth his loves. His love is better than wine, Song i. 2. The taste of this love would quickly make all the wells of this world's consolations to be as tasteless and empty to us as they are in themselves. Unspeakably both strong and sweet is that mortification and deadness to the world, that is wrought in the believer, by the shedding abroad of the love of God in his heart by the Holy Ghost, Rom. v. 5. You live in an evil world. It will mock you, and hate you; but do you pity it. A believer is a pitiful creature in
of the ungodly; looking at things that are not seen, and not looking at things that are seen, 2 Cor. iv. 18.; despising this world and all things in it as a portion, and seeking an unseen and future glory in an unknown world to come. To build all our hopes of partaking and possessing of it on an unseen Christ; to bottom our faith on him, upon a word from him ; to live and die upon his promise, and to do both cheerfully, are the glory of a Christian. But this glory is turned into shame by the thoughts and reproaches of all unbelievers. But let the righteous hold on his way; and he that hath clean hands, shall wax stronger and stronger, Job xvii. 9. Your path is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the
pers fect day, Prov. iv. 18. Pass through this world, believers in Jesus, liking nothing in it, caring for nothing in it, content and satisfied with nothing it can give, moved with nothing in it; neither much taken up with the much evil, or the little good of it; neither cast down with the frowns, nor lifted up with the smiles of this vain deceitful world. Pass on, and press forward for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, Phil. iii. 14. You have greater things to look to, greater things to fix your hearts and hopes upon, than all this world: even to that blessed state, when we shall be with Christ where he is, and shall behold his glory which his Father hath given him: for the Father loved his Son and our Saviour before the foundation of the world.
END OF VOLUME SECOND.
G. CAT, Printer.