Imagens das páginas
PDF

what he shall eat, and drink, and put on; for after all | it discovers and manifests itself. Many might be spoken these things do the Gentiles seek: to wit, with anxiety, as of, and have been heretofore. I shall only mention these if the press and weight lay wholly upon themselves, “but two at present, delight in his converse, and concern for your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all his interest: these are expressions of a child-like love to these things," Matt. vi. compared with Luke xii. 36. Why, God as a father. have you not a Father, and doth he not know what you i. Delight in his converse. Have I any love for him as need ? You are to use a prudent care in the way of your my father, when I cannot endure to be conversant with duty ; but you are not to use a tormenting care, a care him? when I decline his presence, I keep up no interthat doth no good, but hurt only; a care that cannot add course with him, I live a wandering life. Is this like a one cabit to your stature. Take heed of such a care, it child of God, one born of God? Oh, sadly consider it, doth not consist with the relation of children to a hea- and take it to heart! We hear this day of such trials as venly Father. And,

these; but we shall know and see a trying day at last, that ii. In reference to our eternal concernments. “Fear must put the everlasting differences between those that not, little flock, it is your Father's good pleasure to give were born of God, and those that were never born of him you the kingdom." Do not fear. Are you the children And even now, if we do but state a judgment day in our of such a father, and will not your father provide for you own souls, and erect a tribunal there, what can carry more as his own children? Yes, he will provide for you after evidence and convictiveness in it than this, if we would the rate of a kingdom; he will make you communicate in but deal impartially with ourselves. Upon this question, the kingdom, if you depend upon his pleasure. And it is do I love the Divine presence, yea or no? is he my father, a thing he doth with pleasure. He pleaseth himself in it, and do I flee his presence, and care not to be in it, when I in that display and manifestation of his glory, and muni- have no pretence of necessity? I cannot pretend a necesficent bounty. I will now declare openly to the world that sity to be out of his presence, as a child may have to be I own these for my children; then is "the manifestation out of his earthly father's presence. He cannot always be of the sons of God," (as the expression is Rom. viii. 19.) there; but the matter admits of no excuse or pretence,When all the sons of God are to have an open, complete, it can be resolved into nothing but disaffection. I may formal, magnificent adoption declared before angels and be in the presence of God more, but I will not. You may men. This is that which the depending spirit of his chil- be with him as soon as you can think a thought. Here is dren prompts them to expect. And they exercise depen- nothing to be said in this case, but an aversion of heart dance this way, and exert it upon this account in reference I keeps you off from him. And what ? is le your father. to their eternal concernments. I find there are no great and will you say you are born of him? How can a man things to be had here in this world, by which God distin- satisfy his mind, his judgment, and conscience, in such guisheth his children from other men; he doth not distin- inconsistencies and contradictions as these. And, guish them by what they are to possess and enjoy of exter- ii. Concern for his interest. This is child-like love, to be nal good things here; and they are taught to lay no great deeply concerned whether he be feared or no, honoured or stress upon any such things; but they are taught to depend no, obeyed or no, in those that are indeed his children. upon a kingdom for ample provision hereafter, wherein How doth such affection as this, a filial affection, childhe will deal with them like a God. And it is their Fa- like love, discover itself? How is it wont to do so ? “Horther's pleasure to give them this kingdom, and upon this ror hath'taken hold of me (saith the Psalmist) because of they are to depend. It will go well enough with me here- the wicked that forsake thy law. I saw transgressors, and after, and therefore I am little solicitous what occurs to was grieved. Rivers of tears run down my eyes, because or befalls me in my present transient state. Again, of the wicked that transgress thy law.” This is a filial

Thirdly, Another child-like disposition that must be sense, the sense of a child, of one born of God; but to found in them that are born of God, is love. Love to him feel no regret in a man's spirit, when the contempt of our as their Father. He is an unnatural monster, and not a Father discovers itself openly in the face of the sun, when child, that doth not love his father and parent: and you we are so repeatedly told every day, which way soever we see how express the words of this very verse are to this look or listen, our Father hath little interest in the world, purpose, “ Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is he is little regarded, men little concern themselves whether born of God. And every one that loveth him that begat, he is pleased or displeased; for men to have hearts as loveth them also that are begotten of him." You see how stones, unconcerned, never affected in such cases as these, this is connected with what goes immediately before, taking is this child-like? Doth this carry the signification with it for granted, that he that " is born of God, loveth him it of my being a child of God, born of him? Again, that begat him." It is not affirmed, but supposed; it is not Fourthly, Another child-like disposition towards God as directly affirmed, as if it needed an affirmation. This a father, which must be in them that are born of him, is a being obvious to every one's view and thoughts, that for subject-spirit, an obediential frame of spirit towards him. all them that are born of God, they must love him that “Children, obey your parents in the Lord,” Eph. vi. 1. begat them, a thing that follows of course. Are you born A due obedience even to earthly parents, the fathers of of God? Then you do love him that begat you.

our flesh, not of our souls, (they were never capable of proAnd whereas we are told, as you have had sometimes ducing such a thing in us as an intelligent imniortal spirit,) occasion given to take notice, chap. iii. of this epistle,) yet this is a right challenged unto them. And what is it " by this the children of God are manifest, and the chil- not a right to our celestial Father, to obey him and to be dren of the devil.” The children of God cannot be ma- subject to him? to be willingly and of choice under his nifest in distinction from them that are of another parent government, under his rule and law? He that is the paage, in any thing more than this, their " loving him that rent of our life and being, he that hath given me a being, begat.” Loving him of whom they are born, as it is a try. shall not he give me a law? He that hath given me a ing, so it is, and ought to be, a satisfying character in them spirit, shall not he give me a command to be received from in whom it is found. If they are to judge of their estate, his mouth? Oh, when a man's life is nothing else but Am I one born of God, yea or no? They may comfort-rebellion, insolent rebellion, will not such a one be conably conclude well concerning this, I find a divine love founded within himself, if he be put to answer the question, springing in my soul towards him, my love working God- Is God your Father? Are you one of his children, or are ward, working upward, shows me my descent, of whom I you not? “How much more (saith the apostle, Heb. xii. am, who it is that begat me. Oh, the wretched case of 9.) shall we not be subject to the Father of spirits and live ?" those souls that cannot evince their relation to God as You have had fathers of your flesh, (saith he,) and they their Father, as being born of him, by such a character as chastised us, and ye gave them reverence; shall we not this. Do I say God is my Father Alas, I love him not, much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? I have no love for him. If it be said, as Christ tells the How came I to have a spirit in me, an intelligent immorJews, “I know you, that ye have not the love of God in tal spirit, such a sort of being as can think, that is by so you,” how must that sink the soul and spirit of that man, noble powers distinguished from a clod, a piece of clay ? in him that pretends to that relation to God as a father, How came I to have such a being? And if there be a when his own heart testifies that he loves him not ! superadded divine principle, so as that God is my father,

Love to the most obvious exertions of that love, wherein | not only having fashioned my spirit in me, put an immortal understanding spirit in me, but by giving a princi- even to them that believe on his name; which were born, ple of holiness also in superaddition thereunto; I am under not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will à double obligation to him to own him as my Father; and of man, but of God.” Again, then shall I not be in subjection to the Father of my spi- (2.) The relation of sonship to God is connected with rit? And when life lies upon it, shall we not be in sub- this faith, and therefore the participation of that nature in jection to the Father of spirits and live? What doth that respect whereof we are said to be born of God, must be imply, but that it is mortal to disobey, mortal not to be sub connected with this faith also; for it is not to be supposed ject } If you will not be subject, ye die for it; every one that adoption and regeneration can be separated; whom must be subject or perish. Subjection and perdition, they God adopteth he regenerateth; whosoever believeth, he are the disjunctive, and between them any one may make adopteth. This is the strength of the argument of the conhis choice. Oh, what shall they say, that have never yet sideration that I am now offering to you. Do but look had hearts taught to obey, formed to subjection? That back a little to the 230 and 24th verses of the 2d chapter despise to be governed, that live after their own will, that of this epistle, and you find that it is upon this faith that contest for the governing power with him that gave them God owns us as his children, or our having an interest in breath, saying in practice, I will not obey, I will live as I him as our father doth depend, to wit, “that Jesus is the list, I will choose my own way and course. This cannot Christ." Upon our owning of this truth (if it be sincerely stand with this relation; it cannot stand with being born and truly owned) this is the consequence, that we now have of God; it cannot stand with the foregoing character last God for our fathér;“Whosoever denieth the Son, the same mentioned, love to him, filial love to him; “For this is hath not the Father; but he that acknowledgeth the Son the love of God, (as you see presently in the context,) that this is manifestly meant though not expressed in our copies, we keep his commandments, and his commandments are and therefore you have it subjoined in a different character) not grievous.” This is the sense of a child, one born of hath the Father also.” That acknowledgeth the Son-How? God, (as the next words again do import,) “Whatsoever is That he is the Christ,(as all the drift ofihe apostle showeth) born of God, overcometh the world." Therefore his com- he hath the Father, he hath God for his father, he hath no mandments are not grievous to such a one; he is “born father else ; but with having an interest in God as his father, of God," he hath a divine nature in him, that contempers his being related to God as his child, is the participation of him to the law and commands of God, so that he counts the divine nature, connected; as you see in the close of the nothing grievous that God commandeth. When every same chapter, “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know thing that he commands, and the whole state of his govern that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him." ment, is looked upon as a grievance; it is a grievance to be Whereupon it immediately followeth, “Behold what manunder the restraint of his law, that I may not live as I list, ner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should that I may not indulge inclinations, covetous inclinations, be called the sons of God.” See the series of discourse wrathful inclinations, envious inclinations, vindictive in- here; in the latter part of that second chapter, “he that clinations; no, I cannot be governed, I must have my will. acknowledgeth the Son, hath the Father also ;" God is his Then you are no child, then you are not born of God. He father; he may say, I have a father, a heavenly Father, I is not your father, if you will not be ruled; indeed he de- have God for my father; if he acknowledge the Son, bespiseth that obedience that proceeds not from love. "This lieve him to be the Christ, if he sincerely do so. But obis the love of God, that we keep his commandments;" to serve, what the character of such a one must be, he must obey him placidly and of choice, so that this is the sense be able to evince that he is born of God, by doing rightof the soul, I had rather obey than not obey. It is a privi- eousness as he is righteous; that he hath a holy rectitude lege to be under his government. If this be not the sense in wrought into his spirit, which is become the fixed habit of the soul, it is the absurdest contradiction imaginable to of his soul; otherwise it is an absurd pretence that he is pretend to be born of God; it is a pretence that overthrows born of God, or that he hath God for his father. And the and destroys itself, to say I am born of God, but I will not same thing is as manifest in that mentioned John i. 12, 13. be ruled by him.

| he that receiveth him hath the privilege presently to be Thus far you have an account what this being born of called the son of God. But doth that privilege go alone ? God imports; and now you have both parts of the text in or, is sonship to God an empty relation ? or, hath that resome measure opened-what it is to believe Jesus to be the lation no foundation ? Yes, it hath a foundation—"which Christ, and what it is to be born of God. Now, that which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor in the next place was proposed to be also spoken to ac-, of the will of man, but of God.” If they are believers in cording to the order of discourse, is,

his name, they are sons, they are called sons, they are preII. The connexion between these two. And I shall upon sently in that relation. But how in relation ? is it a nomithis head endeavour these two things,

nal relation only ? No; but a real one; founded upon be1. To show that there is a connexion, a most firm con- ing born of God, “not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nexion, between them. And then,

nor of the will of man, but of God." That is a second 2. To show you the grounds of it.

consideration to evince ihis connexion, to wit, that relation 1. That there is such a connexion ; which is but indeed goes with this faith, and therefore the participation of a to cvince the truth of the assertion which the text contains, suitable nature must go with this faith also; for adoption " Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of and regeneration cannot be separated. And, God.” To evince to you the connexion between these two, (3.) Exemption from condemnation that hath a certain is but to evince the truth of the thing asserted, and which connexion with the sincere belief of this, that Jesus is the is but the same thing in sense with this, that there is no Christ; and therefore regeneration must be certainly consuch thing as an unregenerate believer; that with true be- nected therewith too. They that have this faith are exempt lieving, regeneration is co-extent. Nobody doth justly from condemnation, “shall not come into condemnation, bear the name of a believer of this, that Jesus is the Christ, but have passed from death unto life," as our Saviour of a believer in Christ, but one that is born of God; or speaks, John ii. 24. And who are they that are exempt that any other believing that Jesus is the Christ, not ac- from condemnation? According to the determination we companied with regeneration, goes for nothing, if I should have so positively set down, Rom. viii. 1. “There is now never so peremptorily avow it, that I believe Jesus to be no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.” You the Christ, and yet am not born of God, it avails me no- know that there is no being in Christ Jesus, but by believthing, it signifies nothing to me. I had as good have said ing in him, believing him to be the Christ with such a faith nothing, as to say I believe Jesus to be the Christ, if I be as thereupon drawing the soul into union with him. But not born of God; nothing as to any valuable purpose that do you think that any are exempt from condemnation becan serve. This is that, in the first place, I am to evince sides the regenerate, or those that are born of God? to you, that there is such a connexion between these two, (4.) Title to eternal life and glory is connected with this and it is to be evinced by sundry considerations, which I faith; and therefore regeneration must be connected with shall endeavour to set before you. As,

it too; “He that believeth in the Son of God, hath ever(1.) Other scriptures do most expressly say the same lasting life.” He that believeth with this faith hath that thing. Look at John i. 12, 13. “Bui as many as received life in possession which shall be everlasting life, as one him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, end of the thread that runs into elernity; that life that

admits of no intermission, but hath the beginnings of it | But, oh! that in the mean time it might be seriously already—" he that believeth in me shall never die," as our thought of, what we live under the Gospel for, and what Saviour saith, John ii. 26. He hath that life in him that we are called unto the profession of the Christian name shall never expire. But can any think they have an actual for. No valuable end can be so much as thought of, that title to eternal life, to the glories hereafter to be revealed, will even be reached without being born of God. I know who are not sons, who are not born of God ? It is an in- not what God is doing among us at this day; we hear heritance, and who shall inherit but sons ? it is called so little, in comparison, of his ways on souls, what is done many and many times. 1 Pet. i. 3. the apostle solemnly upon the hearts and spirits of men ; we know the Christblesseth God for “having begotten them again unto a ian name is generally professed among us, we all go under lively hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from one denomination of Christians; but, oh! think, think the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, again and again, what an unregenerate Christian will and that fadeth not away." The title to this everlasting come to at last ! a Christian, and not born of God! a blessedness and glory and life is connected with this faith; Christian, and nothing of the divine nature in me, no but it is plain it is also connected with sonship to God; and likeness to God, no filial disposition towards him. If we therefore it is equally connected with regeneration, where have a Gospel amongst us that hath made us nothing else in the sonship hath its foundation, for none can be sons but Christians in name, nominal Christians, shall our felithat are not born of 'him.

city hereafter be like our Christianity here? Will we be (5.) Both this faith and regeneration do owe themselves content with that? Will the shadow of heaven serve our to the same primary sovereign cause, the Divine Spirit, turn? That will prove a real hell. And there will be a which shows them most strictly to be connected. This like réality in our heaven as there is in our Christianity. faith is from the Holy Ghost, and this new birth is from the Holy Ghost also; there is but one cause of both, they are produced by the agency of one and the same Spirit, and therefore cannot but be connected. This faith, where. ever it is, is a God-begotten thing; it is a thing that is of divine descent. When the apostle Peter owns Christ so

SERMON XLIX." expressly, Matt. xvi. 16, 17. “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,” (which is the faith the text speaks of,) -"And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art

- 1 John v. 1. thou. Simon Bariona: for flesh and blood hath not reveal this unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." And Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, is born of God. how plainly are we told, 1 Cor. xii. 3. “No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, (which is the same thing as to say, We shall now go on to show in the next place, he is the Christ; Lord being the known title of the Medi- 2. What connexion this is; or, to let you see how these átor's office, and of the Messiah in the New Testament, two are connected with one another-Believing “Jesus to and in many places of the Old,) but by the Holy Ghost.be the Christ," and being " born of God.” And, to any And is not the same Holy Ghost the immediate author of thinking, considering mind, this cannot but be a very dethe work of regeneration? “Except a man be born again" sirable thing, when we meet with such a positive affirmaof the Spirit,' he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” tion as this, " Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ, The same Spirit that begets faith, the same Spirit regene- is born of God," to be able to perceive the very juncture, rates the soul into the Divine image and likeness, by which the very point of coincidence, between these two, wherein they are born of God. And,

they do meet, and (as it were) run into one another; for (6.) The same Gospel is the means of the one and the otherwise it may seem strange to have the one of these other, of begetting this faith, and of this same divine birth, so expressly affirmed of the other. And one that hath no "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of discerning of this same juncture may say, How should God," of the Gospel; and it is the same Gospel, as the this be, that there should be such an assertion of so great means, that souls are regenerate and born again. “Of his a thing concerning them that do "believe Jesus to be the own will begat he us with the word of truth," James i. 18. Christ ?" This seems to be one of the easiest things in the and 1 Pet. i. 23. “Being born again, not of corruptible world, to believe Jesus to be the Christ. And I would fain seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God," that word know (may such a one say) how it should come to pass, " that liveth and abideth for ever"_when all flesh, as the that a man cannot believe Jesus to be the Christ, but he grass, withers; "and this is that word” (saith he)" which must have so great a thing as this said of him, that he is by the Gospel is preached unto you." It is by it you are born of God ? Wherein hath the one so much to do with born again, so that there is a connexion too in the second the other, believing Jesus to be the Christ, and being born ary or instrumental cause, the Gospel, as well as in the first of God ? and most noble cause, the Spirit of God.

That alone which makes the matter seem strange and (7.) There is a connexion in one and the same effect, as difficult is, that men generally have too low thoughts of for instance, victory over the world. Every one that is a this same faith. This believing, in particular, Jesus to be sincere believer is a victor over this world too. You may the Christ, the difference lies here, whether this believing see both a little below the text in this same chapter,“ Who- | is to be reckoned a divine, or merely a human thing. If soever is born of God, overcometh the world : and this is it be looked upon as a thing of mere human original, ihen the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." any body would wonder that upon one's believing Jesus to Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth | be the Christ, such a thing as this should be said of him, that Jesus is the Son of God? or, the Christ, which is all he is born of God, the greatest thing sure that can be said one. And then there is,

of a mortal creature! But we are taught to reckon this (8.) A connexion in respect of the end of the one and faith to be a divine thing, of divine original. When the the other. What any are supposed to be brought to by | apostle Peter, in the name of the rest of the apostles, prothis faith, it can never be brought about, or the end at fesseth this faith, Who am I? saith our Saviour; whom which that agency can never be attained, but by interven- do ye say I am ? (when there were various opinions of the ing regeneration. Why is God so solicitous to have men people about him at that time, and some said one thing, brought to this faith in this world ? Why were there com- and some said another ;) but " whom do you say that I missions so early given forth for Christianizing the world ? am ?" Why, saith Peter," thou 'art Christ the Son of the “Go, and teach all nations"--and let this be the sum of living God,” Matt. xvi.'16. And then in verse 17. our what is taught—“Repent and believe the Gospel." Why Saviour replies, “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona ;" is this faith to be spread through the world ? " It was cer- thou art a blessed man. Why is he blessed for this?" for tainly for the honour and glory both of the Father and the fesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my FaSon; but shall either be glorified by having in this world ther which is in heaven.” All the question is, whether only an unregenerate race, professing faith in Christ, but this faith we have about this thing be a self-sprung faith, being like other men ? More may be said of this hereafter. or a heaven-sprung faith ; if it be self-sprung, then it is

* Preached August 12th, 1694.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

only the product of flesh and blood, but flesh and blood | (as it followeth in the same chapter) this is the record that cannot reach so high as to produce any such faith as this: God hath given us of his Son, it is believed that Jesus is neither his own flesh nor blood, which signifies his human the Christ, not because men have told us so; it is received nature; nor the same nature as it is among others, by "not as the word of man, but as the word of God," 1 Thess. transmilling whereof from one to another this faith would ii. 13. And in the 10th verse of this chapter, “He that only be a traditional thing; but the product of flesh and believeth in the Son of God hath the witness in himself." blood which cannot reveal such a thing; but if it be such And, a faith as is immediately from himself, then blessed art (2.) This believing doth by consequence imply the openthou that so believest; this faith is not from thee or other ing of the heart to him, to receive him as such. Believing men, no way from flesh and blood, or human nature, but and receiving him are inseparable; as you see when the from my Father which is in heaven.

same thing is predicated of this same subject, John i. 12. And then it will cease to be thought a strange thing, “ To as many as received him, to them gave he power to that he that so believes should be said to be born of God; become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his for this being born of God, it is but the work of the Divine name.” Pray, why do they that so believe in his name as power working the soul to a conformity to himself, and to receive him, bear the tiile of "the sons of God ?" He impressing it with its own image. And this faith it seems gives them all the privilege to be his sons, why is that? is from God too, as well as the great conforming change The next words tell you, without which it had been very that then passeth upon the soul when one is brought to absurd to have such an appellation. Why are believers so believe. And this will make it appear the most reasonable called the sons of God? Is it an empty name and title? thing in the world, that he that by the Divine power and No, they are born of God, who were born, not of blood, grace is brought to believe, is horn of God; for if it be nor of the ill of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but from God that men are made so to believe, it is not faith of God.” Sure they must be his sons that are born of from itself, but of God's own ingenerating in my soul. him; but they that believe in him, so as to receive the Then it must be considered, if God do this work to make Son of God, that faith opening its way into their hearts, me believe with this faith, he doth it for some end worthy they are said to be born, not of the will of man, but of of God, for there is no rational agent but works for an God. That heart-assuring persuasion concerning him, end : and he that is the most perfectly intelligent, the most presently makes the soul open to him, and entertain him; absolutely perfect and all-comprehending mind, cannot take him in and appropriate him, and say, "My Lord and but have the greatest and highest designs in what he doth my God," so as that he comes to have an indwelling in by his own immediate operation. And therefore he must the soul by that faith. be understood to have done this work, in making a man And then do but consider what was generally said conthus to believe for an end suitable to himself, worthy of cerning being born of God, that it makes that person of God. And then, I pray, what end worthy of him can be whom this can be truly said, à God-like creature. He is attained, by making a man to believe, if he do not (as it transformed by it into the Divine image and likeness; it is were) new beget' him at the same time? He is capable of a universal change, and a permanent one passing upon serving no end, no valuable end, no great end, no end the soul, and continuing in it even to the end, by which wherein he shall at once be serviceable to God and happy | he is made a God-like creature; to wit, by which his imin himself, if God do not regenerate him.

age is anew impressed and restored in this soul. And But look to these two things more parrowly, and you these things being finished, let us now consider how insewill see how they meet, and how close a jointure there is parable these must needs be, so believing Jesus is the between them, so as the matter will be above dispute. It | Christ, and being born of God. will make its way into every mind that considers the case Take this faith, as it is such a firm persuasion, a heartduly and aright, " That he that believes Jesus to be the assuring persuasion, upon the authority of God himself, Christ, is born of God;" and in order hereunto, (that this that this Jesus is the Christ, or is his Son. Take it thus, may make its way with more advantage, you may con and there are two things in the matter believed, that gave sider how fully that which is equivalent is said of the same it the advantage to be so powerfully operative in the soul thing. Do bút look to chap. iv. of this epistle, and the when so believed, as you have heard. "Therefore consider 15th verse, “Whosoever confesseth that Jesus is the Son distinctly the matter believed, and the nature of this beof God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” Pray con- lieving it so as it hath been opened to you. The matter sider it; what is this less than that such a man is born of believed, when a man believeth this Jesus to be the Christ, God? The divine fulness is come in upon him. God and the Son of God (for believing him to be the Christ inhe do indwell one another. Whoever he is that confesseth, | volves the belief of his deity, of his divine nature, in rebelievingly confesseth, that this “ Jesus is the Son of God;" spect whereof he is said to he God's own Son, in the most for this is all one as believing Jesus to be the Christ. We eminent sense, the only-begotten Son of God, which can find them often put together to signify the same; that if signify no less than that he is God.) Why, about this one be expressed, the other is implied, as in that Matt. i. you have two things to consider, that will let us see how 16. “Thou art Christ the Son of the living God;" and mighty an advantage such a matter must have, to be thus so John vi. 69. “We believe, and are sure that thou art operative and transforming upon the soul, that it shall be Christ the Son of the living God.” And again, John xx. said hereupon truly to be born of God; to wit, first the last verse, “ These things are written (this book I have greatness of the thing itself, and, secondly, the kindness now written-this Gospel is written all for this purpose,) of the design. that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of! (1.) The greatness of the thing, that this Jesus should God, and that believing you may have life through his be the Christ, the Son of God. This Jesus was then lately name.” And you may easily apprehend, that confessing seen upon the face of this earth, a man Jike other men. this implies the belief of it. No man that is sincere will What is believed concerning him? Why, that he is the confess what he doth not believe; “ Whosoever doth con- | Christ, the Son of God. That deity did inhabit and dwell fess so much that this Jesus is the Son of God, dwelleth in the flesh of this man, here is God manifested in the in God, and God in him." This is no less a thing than flesh. How great a thing is this! The serious, vivid bebeing born of God.

lief of it, cannot but affect wonderfully; even in an ordiAnd that we may pursue our scope the more closely, nary way, it cannot but have a mighty aptitude to affect the let us but cast our eye upon the two parts that are said to soul deeply that so believes; for, as was said, to believe be conjoined. And here I must remind you only of what this with a divine faith, it is to believe it because God in general was said about this believing'" Jesus to be the made me believe it, not only by his authority, upon which Christ;" to wit, that it is not one single and incomplex this faith relies, but by his power, by which this faith is thing, but that it is complicated of more things than one. wrought, and then I consider the thing believed accordAs,

ingly. This Jesus is the Christ; he that appears to other, (1.) This believing Jesus to be the Christ, it speaks amen but as an ordinary man, appears to me the Son of vivid, strong, heart-assured persuasion, that the thing is God. The Divine glory shines in him to the eve of my true; of the truth of the thing, not as taken up at random, soul. He was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we but as taken up from the divine testimony. And because behel: his glory as the glory of the only begotten Son o'

the Father, full of grace and truth. To believe this with | whatsoever will serve that end, to wit, inclining men unto such a heart-assuring faith and persuasion, is to believe God, fitting them for his communion, and for a state of the greatest thing that ever was heard of. That this son subordination and absolute devotedness to him, must be of God should be a man, or that this man, lately seen with the principal aim of regeneration. It is to set the spirits eves in the world, and handled with hands, is the very Son of men right in their disposition and posture towards God, of God, this tends to form the soul to veneration by the to whom they were strangers, and from whom they were very greatness of the thing itself. And God, when he gone off. And you see how the greatness of this thing did works this mighty work of regeneration upon the soul, he very much impress the minds of those pagans; they thought works by means, by apt and suitable means; means suit- the gods were come down in the likeness of men, and now able to the work to be wrought, and suitable to the subject they are all for worshipping them. But besides the greatto be wrought upon. Now what can be so apt a means to ness of the thing, which is first to be considered in the work such a transforming work as this upon an intelligent matter believed, consider also, subject, (as the soul of man is,) as to possess it with the (2.) The kindness of the design. This Jesus is the Christ, Belief of such a thing: here I have sent my own Son among the Son of God, a deity, inhabiting under this flesh. What you, he that was the brightness of my own glory, and the is this for? What is the design of it? A great thing, as express image of my own person; I have here wrapt him such tends greatly to affect the heart of a man, if it be not up in human flesh, and he is in the flesh, to live among stupified into a stone, a rock, a clod. But when a great you, and at length to die among you, like one of you, as a thing appears to be in conjunction with the kindest design human creature. What work must this make in the soul towards them, this gives it a most important additional adof a man, when believed in such a way as you have vantage, to affect the spirits of men beyond all that can be heard ? It disposeth to veneration of that deity inhabiting thought. What should be the meaning of it, that God in human flesh, and so works somewhat naturally upon should come down and put on man, and that this man the soul of a man, (as it is God's way, he doth apply him-should be God? Why, it was in order to his being Christ, self to our natural faculties,) to enlighten the mind, to the Messiah, the Mediator between God and man, as that mollify, change, and subdue the will. These are natural name imports, so that this was with a particular reference powers in us; but these would do nothing to the pleasing to us, and with some very gracious intendment towards of God, or saving us, if not wrought upon by a Divine al- us. And therefore look upon this truth to be believed, mighty power. Now God doth sublimate the natural prin- this Jesus is the Christ, according to that kind and benign ciple by this means,

aspect which it hath upon us; and so it tends beyond all There is such a thing as natural religiousness, man that can be thought to work with the greatest efficacy as having been born of God at first, and his soul the very means, though the thing would never be done without the divine offspring, (whereupon God is said to be the father Divine Spirit upon the spirits of men, to renew and regeof our spirits,) he hath a natural impression of God upon nerate them, so as that thereupon they should be said to be him. But it governs not but where regeneration takes born of God. place; it is a principle laid asleep: but such a faith of this God works upon the nature of man as he is a creature ihing brought in upon the soul, revives the principle of a made up of reason and love, according to his natural state; natural religiousness and veneration of God. You see and so he is according to what remainders there are in how far the same notion once did work upon a mistake in him of that nature which was first given, and which is that Acts xiv. 11. when Paul and Barnabas had wrought still human nature; “I drew them with cords of a man, miracles upon the impotent man, and preached such admi- with bands of love,” Hosea xi. 4. If there be such a thing rable divine doctrine that ravished and astonished the souls as love in the nature of man not quite abolished, not quite of their hearers, they immediately cried out, “The gods erased, which by such means as this, that Holy Spirit shall are come down to us in the likeness of men." And Paul, apply itself to a man's spirits to draw him by these cords, because he was chief speaker, he is called Mercurius, and that love which he hath in him being taken hold of by the Barnabas was called Jupiter, two of the most famous dei divine love appearing in this design, this gives it advanties. And they are intent upon the business of sacrificing tages to operate with the greatest efficacy that can be to them as incarnate deities. And the apostles had no thought. . . small difficulty to withhold them from worshipping, and And do but see how this is cleared, by considering that offering solemn sacrifices to them. So mightily did this passage I mentioned to you but now in the fourth chapter mistaken notion operate.

of this epistle and verse 15. looked upon in reference to Now, then, that which is the very truth of the thing what immediately goes before in verse 14. “Whosoever comes to be believed in good earnest, as certain, concern- shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth ing this person, this Jesus. Here is God come down in in him, and he in God.” Now look upon the foregoing the likeness of a man, he that was in the form of God, words, and you will see which way this works to open the found in fashion as a man, made in the likeness of man. soul unto God, so as that he comes to have an indwelling Christians must be more stupid than those pagans, if it af- in that soul, and that soul an indwelling in him. “We fect not and make no motion stir in their hearts, so as to have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be say and think, What a wonder is this! What a great the Saviour of the world. I pray regard this, a mighty thing! That God should have come down in the likeness stress lies upon it, “ We see and do testify, that the Father of man, that we should have had an incarnate God dwell- sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world;" and now it ing in this wretched world among us! How amazing ais subjoined, that "whosoever confesseth that Jesus is the thing is this! This, I say, tends to excite even in the very Son of God, dwelleth in him, and he in God." Why? benature of the thing. And God, when he works, works by cause this can be understood or believed under no other suitable means. In the nature of the thing there is a suit- notion than as a Saviour to it, a Saviour to men; he came ableness to excite that natural religion that's in the souls upon a saving design; this lets him into the soul, “God of men, which cannot be totally abolished, but is suppress- dwelleth in him, and he in God;" and do you think that ed. And such a thing as this hath a tendency to awaken this person must not be regenerate ? what can it be but it, when the Divine Spirit sets in (as it will set in with that he must be born of God, when God is come into so truth, when it would not with falsehood) to restore in man near a union hereupon ? And what lets hin in and brings that worshipping, adoring disposition towards God. about this union? why, believing that he came as a Savi

This is the first and most considerable thing in the work our into the world, we believe and testisy that he came to of regeneration, or the new creature; for what are men do the office of a Saviour, and then God dwelleth in us, regenerated for? What makes the necessity of regenera- and we in God. There is that union hereby brought about tion? It is that men were alienated from God, cut off from between God and you, that it is impossible you should not God, and therefore must have a nature put into them that be born of God. A new nature must hereupon come upon would incline them unto God; they were alienated from the you, making you God-like. divine life. Regeneration is necessary for this, to inclineAnd this will most distinctly appear, if we consider what the souls of men to live that life; to live upon God, and to his coming as a Saviour implies: as his name signifies God, and for God. So that when you consider what the Jesus, Jesus is the Christ, the Saviour is anointed and au work of regeneration is necessary for, you will think that thorized to this work of saving. When Christ was to come

« AnteriorContinuar »