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him out of the Father's bosom, but his love to them? Why could not the hallelujahs of angels keep him at court, but because the cries of the perishing elect pierced his heart? Therefore he came down. Father, said he, they shall not perish; if they owe any thing, lay it to my account, take payment of me; I will take their place. They cannot live, unless the law be satisfied by obedience, and justice satisfied for the sin committed. I will do both. So he came, and lived a life of perfect obedience for them, and died a death satisfactory for their sins.
3. The continuance of his sufferings, which was from his birth to his death, from the cradle to the grave. It was not a part of Christ's life that was for them, but it was the whole; and how can they but give him the whole of theirs.
4. Any thing they have to give to Christ, any thing they have with which to entertain him, or with which to do any thing for him, they owe it all to him. That they have a soul out of hell, they owe it to Christ, and shall it not be his temple? That they have a heart not filled with horror and eternal dispair, they owe it to him; and shall he not have it? That they have a tongue that is not burning in hell, they owe it to him, and shall not they act for him? -feet that are not standing in fire and brimstone, and shall they not run his errands ?-eyes not blinded with the smoke of the pit; and in a word, a body that is out of hell; and shall not all be his and for him?
5. The proportion that was betwixt the seat of sin in them, and the seat of suffering in Christ. They sinned in their bodies, and Christ suffered in his body. His head was pierced with the thorny crown, his eyes were denied the light of the sun, his tongue was made to cleave to the roof of his mouth, he gave his back to the smiters, and his cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; his fair face was defiled with spittle; his heart was melted like wax, in the midst of his bowels; his side was pierced with a spear; his hands and feet nailed to the cross; his strength dried like a potsherd; and wherefore all this, but that the body and all its members had been instruments of sin in men? And because their souls were the chief seat of all, therefore Christ's soul was the chief seat of wrath, sorrowful even unto death. Their souls had forsaken God, therefore he is forsaken of God. Pride and all mischief dwelt in their souls; therefore he put him to shame, and laid him low indeed. Is it any wonder, then, that they live not as they lived before? any wonder that to them to live is Christ?
USE. Then shew yourselves true Christians, by making Christ the sum and scope of your life, and that you may do so, I recommend these few things to you:
1. Abhor all doctrines that tend to the lessening of the glory of Christ. He made the gospel covenant for himself, and wo to them that turn it against him. But most, if not all the heretics stumble upon this stone, so that we may say, "Blessed is he whosoever shall not be offended in him." The cursed Socinians lessen his glory, making him but a nominal and official god. The Papists, many ways— by their masses, indulgences, invocations, and merit of good works. The Arminians make his grace lacquey it, at the foot of free will. Others put our faith and obedience in the room of Christ's righteousness. God's great design in the gospel is to exalt Christ; and the devil's great design is to depress him, and to raise up men for that purpose, to object against his nature, his offices, and the like. Some will not allow him, by his Spirit, to be the interpreter of his Father's will, but set up their own corrupt reason in the chair. Some rob him of the glory of his priestly office, and some will have no king but Cæsar. These things shew that they are Christ's enemies.
2. Appear for him and his cause. Remember that whosoever shall be ashamed of him, to act for him and speak for him, of them he will also be ashamed. Be always then on his side, labour to propagate his kingdom. Recommend him to others, that they may fall in love with him. Recommend him to your neighbours, and especially, like Abraham, to your families, Gen. xviii. 19. Reprove and discountenance the dishonour done to him.
3. Beware of him, obey his voice, and provoke him not, Exod. xxiii. 21. Close with all the duties he lays upon you, and have respect to all his commandments. They that baulk any of them, he is not the sum and scope of their lives. Christ's word is a band strong enough to a gracious soul.
4. Be not satisfied with duties, unless you find Christ in them; unless "you behold the beauty of the Lord." Mary came to the sepulchre, but finding no Christ there, she wept; because she apprehended they had taken away her Lord, and she knew not where they had laid him. Duties are but empty husks without Christ. He is the marrow and life of all duties. They are but handmaids to lead you to Christ. Sit not down to make love to them, but go forward till you find him whom your soul loveth.
5. Perform religious duties, and love them for Christ's sake. It is but heathen morality to be virtuous for virtue's sake. No wonder that was their highest motive, for their gods generally were as bad as themselves, and therefore they pitched upon the dead idol of virtue, that had no relation to God. But be you godly for God's sake, holy for Christ's sake. To be holy for holiness' sake, without respect to Christ, is to make an idol of a created quality.
6. Engage in no duty, but in his strength. Flee on borrowed wings. The fire that was put to the incense, on the altar of incense, was brought from the altar of burnt-offering; teaching us, that from Christ the influences of grace must come into our souls freely.
7. Draw motives and helps for duty, from Christ's sufferings, 2 Cor. v. 14, 15; Zech. xii. 10. The law may break and bruise, and so may be useful in its own place to lead us to Christ; but surely it is the gospel alone that kindly melts the soul. The Christian's labour is a labour of love; because where the labour is right, love predominates.
Lastly, Lay the weight of the acceptance of all your duties, and all the good you do, only upon Jesus Christ. God is only pleased in him. Venture not to look on God, but through the vail of his flesh. Alas! many, if they attain to any good frame in duties, they are apt to lay the weight upon it, and say, now I know God will bless me. As if a beggar would assure himself of his alms, because he hath a tongue to cry, and a hand open to receive them. But remember a good frame is not Christ, and cursed "be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose beart departeth from the Lord." Calves offered on the altar of Bethel were rejected, when turtle doves offered on the altar at Jerusalem were accepted. Amen.
Ettrick, June 1, 1707.
BELIEVERS SEEKING A CONTINUING CITY.
HEBREWS Xiii. 14,
For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.
HEAVEN ever moves, yet is that the place of our rest; earth ever rests, yet is that the place of our travel, where we rest not. Time runs with a rapid course, and carries all men swiftly down the stream. It admits of no delay, and whether we sleep or wake, we are carried forward, to be sent forth within a little into the vast ocean of eternity, and to land us either in heaven or hell. Whether
we will or not, we must ere long bid farewell to the world; and were it with man as it is with the beasts, who when they are dead are done, we might sit at ease, suffering ourselves to be carried away with the stream at all adventures. But then man begins to live, when he is dead and gone; and, therefore, having here no continuing city, what remains but that we direct our course to one that is to come, and which is the great thing our text aims at. In which consider:
1. A supposition. The apostle plainly supposeth our absolute need of a continuing city, that is, a place of true happiness and rest; for so it must be understood, for, otherwise, hell is of the same continuance with heaven. Man is capable of happiness, the desire of it is interwoven with his nature. No man is insensible that he labours under some great defects, and every man sees the need he hath of something to give him perfect rest and satisfaction; and therefore the soul, like an hungry infant, sucks wherever it comes, and finding no rest in one thing, goes to another; and never can attain true rest, till it be perfectly carried to God himself, to take up its everlasting rest in him.
We have next a position consisting of two parts: 1. That the continuing city is not to be found in this world; our rest is not here. Here we do but sojourn for a time, and no sooner we come into it, but as soon we begin our journey to go out of it again; and, like the rising sun, haste forward to the going down. We begin then to die, when we begin to live; and death follows our life, as the shadow does the body, till it at length overturns us. Then the tale is told, and the fable of life in the world is ended. 2. That the continuing city is to come. There is a place of perfect happiness and rest for the children of men, though not here. The present world affords many fine cities, but the world to come has only that " continuing city." Heaven is that continuing city, Heb. xii. 28, in which there are many mansions for the heirs of glory, when come home from their travels.
We have also in the text, the practice of the godly, most important to both parts of the position. They admit the conviction of this world's emptiness, and live under the sense of it. They look upon the world as it is in itself, as indeed affording no continuing city to them. They say, we have here no continuing city," we see none, we seek none, we expect none in it; but they seek that which is to come. The Greek word is emphatical, and signifies to seek with all our might; to seek with great care and solicitude. They do not sit down, and faintly wish for it, but set themselves earnestly by all means to obtain it. Their former question, "Who will shew
us any good?" is turned to that, "What shall I do to be saved?" While others are taken up about present things, they are labouring to procure to themselves a blessed immortality.
Lastly, The connection. These words are given as a reason or motive to stir up to the duty proposed, ver. 13, namely, that we ought to be denied to the world, take up Christ's cross, and patiently bear all reproaches for him. For why? says the apostle,
we have no continuing city here;" and ere long we shall be out of the reach of enemies; and even at this time we are seeking other things than the world can afford.
DOCTRINE. We have no continuing city in this world; but it is the duty of all, and the practice of the godly, earnestly to seek after the continuing city above. We shall,
I. Shew that we have no continuing city here.
II. In what respects heaven is a continuing city.
III. I shall open at large the seeking of this continuing city.
I. To shew that we have no continuing city here. This is evident,
1. Because the dissolution of this world is approaching, Psal. cii. 6; 2 Pet. iii. 7-12. It had a beginning, and it shall have an end. The day will come, when the earth, and all things therein, shall be burnt up. It was a dreadful day when Sodom was burned, but it will be much more dreadful when all the cities of the world shall be consumed. Sodom destined to the flames, was no city for Lot to continue in; and seeing this world must also be burnt up, may we not conclude we have no continuing city in it.
2. Because we must all remove from it by death. Death is settled by a fixed decree. "It is appointed unto all men once to die." One generation passeth away to give place to another. Every birth and every death is an argument to persuade us that we have no continuing city here. Every child that is born, comes into the world with a warning away in its hand. Every dying person lets us see the way which we are to follow. There is room enough on the earth, notwithstanding all the vast numbers that have been before us. We must all answer the summons of death. It will not pity the poor, be bribed by the rich, nor boasted away by men of might.
6. Because of the uncertainty of all things here below, though we should last, and the world also. All worldly things stand on two lame legs, uncertainty and insufficiency, and therefore are not to be depended upon. There is nothing here that can satisfy the