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‘For I know that my Redeemer liveth.’—Job XIX. 25.
THESE words were spoken by Job, a man for the present miserable, and suspected by his friends as one that neither feared God nor trusted in him. Therefore, to comfort himself in his misery, and to vindicate his innocency, he makes confession of his faith.
In this confession you have the grand and most important articles reckoned up.
1. He doth solemnly declare and believe the promised Messiah to be his Saviour: I know that my Redeemer liveth.
2. His coming to judgment: and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.
3. The resurrection of the dead, with application to himself, for he saith, ver. 26, And though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.
4. And lastly, the beatifical vision, ver. 27, Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins be consumed within me.
We have to do with the first article, his belief of salvation by the promised Messiah: ‘For I know that my Redeemer liveth.’
I am not ignorant that this whole context is carried to another sense, not only by the Jewish doctors, but by some Christian interpreters of good account, whose reasons, consisting wholly in grammatications, I list not now to examine. The common and received sense seemeth better.
1. Because these words are ushered in with a solemn preface, containing in them some notable truth: ‘Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were printed in a book! Oh that they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know,’ &c. Surely such a passionate preface will become no other matter so well as the great mystical truths of the Christian faith.
2. The word (Goel, or kinsman) redeemer, will suit with no person so well as Christ.
3. The rest of the passages do not run smoothly unless they be accommodated to this sense, and that I take to be the most obvious sense which the words will best bear.
4. Job, as it is clear by many passages in this book, had often disdained all hopes of being restored to any temporal happiness in this life, affirming that all his hope was gone, that he was worse than a tree cut down. This is the drift and current of all his former discourses.
5. When he saith that he should see God in his flesh, and with the same eyes he now had, I cannot imagine why these passages should be so emphatically spoken if he only intended in this paragraph a hope of being restored to his temporal happiness.
Having premised this, in the words observe:—
1. The causal particle, for, giving thereby a reason why he would have his words so marked, because of the excellency of the matter.294
2. The article of faith: my Redeemer liveth.
3. The manner how this article is asserted and professed by Job.
(1.) With certainty of persuasion: I know. (2.) With application and appropriation: my Redeemer; for I know my Redeemer liveth. All put together will yield this point:—
Doct. That it is a great comfort to the saints in all their afflictions to know that they have a Redeemer living in heaven.
This is the first thing whereby Job comforteth himself.
I. I shall consider the matter of the comfort.
II. Show you how it is applicable to all afflictions.
I. The matter of the comfort consists in four things:—
1. That there is a Redeemer.
2. That he is their Redeemer.
3. That he liveth.
4. That they know this upon certain and infallible grounds.
1. That there is a Redeemer; for he doth not say, I know that my Creator liveth, but my Redeemer.
The word is Goel. The Septuagint render it ὁ ἐκλύειν μὲ μέλλων, he that will deliver me. Theodotion, better, ὃτι ὁ ἄγχιστος μοῦ ζῆ, my near kinsman liveth. The word properly signifies such a one as, in regard of propinquity or nearness of kindred, had a right to redeem a mortgage, or the like engagement of land or livelihood: Lev. xxv. 25, 26, ‘If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, than shall he redeem that which his brother sold.’ Or else to prosecute the law against the murderer of his friend or kinsman, Num. xxxv. 19, 24.
It is taken sometimes more largely for any deliverer out of thraldom, or avenger of wrong in general. And so is in the Old Testament applied to God or Christ, to whom the term chiefly belongeth. To God, because of his powerful providence and rescuing his people out of their calamities: Ps. xxv. 22, ‘Redeem Israel, God, out of all his troubles.’ To Christ, to whom it is most proper: Isa. lix. 20, ‘And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and to them that shall turn away ungodliness from2121 Qu. ‘from ungodliness in’?—ED. Jacob;’ which the apostle applieth to Christ, Rom. xi. 26. He then is the Redeemer, and it implieth—(1.) That he is our kinsman after the flesh, or by incarnation; (2.) That he paid a price to God for us in his passion; (3.) That he pursueth the law against Satan, and rescues us by his power; all which are notable grounds of comfort. For under the law the redemption of the in heritance, or the person of the poor brother sold, was to be made by the next of blood, and that by the male side, not by the mother’s, but by the father’s side, and he also was to be the avenger of blood.
[1.] There is much comfort in this, that Christ is our kinsman, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, and therefore certainly will not be strange to his own flesh. He did redeem us, not only jure proprietatis, by virtue of his interest in us as our Creator, but jure propinquitatis, by virtue of his kindred, one of us, of our stock and lineage; the Son of Adam, as well as the Son of God. The apostle tells us, Heb. ii. 11, ‘For he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.’ As the 295first-fruits offered to God were taken out of the same heap, so he was of the same mass with us. Christ is not only man, but ‘the Son of man.’ He might have been man if God had created him out of nothing, or he had brought his substance from heaven. But he is the Son of man, one descended of the loins of Adam, as we are; even thus ‘he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one.’ He is of the same stock with all mankind, but the kindred is reckoned to the sanctified, because there it holdeth of both sides. Christ is born of a woman, and they are born of God, and so he is a kinsman doubly—ratione incarnationis suae, and regenerationis nostrae; in regard of his own incarnation and our regeneration. He partaketh of the human nature, and we partake of the divine nature. And it followeth, ‘therefore he is not ashamed to call us brethren.’ We are said to be ashamed when we do anything that is filthy, dishonest, or base, or misbecoming our dignity and rank which we sustain in the world. The former consideration is of no place here. For the latter, those that bear any port and rank in the world are ashamed to show too much familiarity towards their inferiors; but such is the love of Jesus Christ towards his people, that though he be infinitely greater and more worthy than these, he is not ashamed to call us brethren. Well, then, here is the first step of our comfort and hope, to see God in our natures. The eternal Son of God became our kinsman that he might have the right of redemption, and recover the inheritance which we had forfeited. We could not have such familiar and confident recourse to an angel, and one who was of another stock and different nature from ours, nor put ourselves into his hands with such trust and assurance. Now he and we are of one nature, we may be the more confident. It is a motive to man: Isa. lviii. 7, ‘Thou shalt not hide thyself from thine own flesh.’ In Christ all the perfections of man were at the highest. This made Laban, though otherwise a churlish man, kind to Jacob: Gen. xxix. 14, ‘Surely thou art my bone and my flesh.’ One of our stock and lineage will pity us more than a stranger.
[2.] This kinsman was to pay the price and ransom of his captivated brother; that also is implied in the notion of a Redeemer: Lev. xxv. 48, 49, ‘After that he is sold, his uncle, or his uncle’s son may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin to him of his family may redeem him.’ So when we had sold ourselves, Jesus Christ, who only of the kindred was free and able to do it, paid a price for us: 1 Cor. vi. 20, ‘We are bought with a price.’ And this price was no less than his own precious blood, 1 Peter i. 18, 19. A price was necessary; for God was not an enemy that could be overcome, but must be satisfied, and amends made for the wrong done to his majesty, that the notions which are ingrafted in man’s heart concerning God might be kept inviolate. The Lord knows how apt we are to please ourselves with the thoughts of impunity, as if it were nothing to sin against God, and a small matter to break his laws. Now, to prevent this thought in us, before his justice would let go the sinner, he demanded satisfaction, and equivalent satisfaction to the wrong done, to expiate the offence done to an infinite majesty. Therefore no less could be a sufficient ransom for lost sinners than the blood of Christ. This is the price 297which our kinsman hath paid down for us. In short, the wrong was done to an infinite majesty, the favour to be purchased was the eternal enjoyment of the ever-blessed life, the sentence to be reversed was the sentence of everlasting death; and therefore Christ alone could serve the turn. Here is another ground of comfort. Cyril calls it, καύχημα τὴς καθολικῆς ἐκκλησίας.
[3.] This kinsman was to revenge the quarrel of his slain kinsman upon the murderer. So he is a Redeemer, and that not only by merit, but by power; not only as a lamb, but as a lion. There needed no price to be paid to Satan: we are redeemed from him, not by satisfaction, but by rescue. The apostle tells us, Col. ii. 15, ‘He spoiled principalities and powers.’ Luke xi. 21, ‘He bindeth the strong man, and taketh away his goods.’ Heb. ii. 14, 15, ‘That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.’ The devil had partly a usurped power over man, as the god of this world, or at least as the enemy of mankind; so Christ rescues us by force: partly a ministerial and permitted power, as the executioner of God’s curse and vengeance; so he outlaweth him, and puts him out of office by the merit of his passion. Satan had no power over death as dominus mortis, as the supreme lord, that hath power to save and to destroy; but as minister mortis, as a hangman and executioner hath power from the law to put the male factor to death. So Christ destroyed him not in regard of essence, as if there were no more a devil to tempt and hurry us to destruction; nor in regard of malice, as if he did no longer seek to devour; but in regard of office and ministry; he is put out of office, and hath no more law-power to destroy those that have fled to Christ for refuge; and so hath freed us from all the fears of death and hell, which our guilt and Satan’s temptations subjected us to.
2. That he is their Redeemer is the next ground of comfort. Job doth not profess faith only in a Redeemer, but in his Redeemer: ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth;’ not by an uncharitable exclusion shutting out others, and engrossing the Redeemer to himself, but
[1.] By a fiducial application making out his own title and interest. Some things in nature are common benefits, not lessened to any because others enjoy them, as a speech heard, and the sun shining, &c. The saints do not exclude others: 1 John ii. 2, ‘And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world;’ 2 Tim. iv. 8, ‘Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness; not for me only, but for all them also that lot e his appearing.’ This doth not lessen the benefit to us, and our obligations to him. Plato thought himself obliged in kindness to one that paid his fare for his passage over a river, and reckoned it positum apud Platonem officium, a courtesy that obliged Plato; but when he saw others partakers of the same benefit, he disclaimed the debt, and only took part of it on himself. Upon which Seneca groundeth this aphorism, that it is not enough for him that will oblige me to him to do me a good turn, unless he do it to myself directly—non tantum mihi, sed tanquam mihi; otherwise, quod debeo cum midtis, solvam cum multis. I will only pay my portion and share of thanks and 297respect. But this cannot be applied to this extraordinary kindness of Christ, for every man is indebted for the whole, not every man for a part of redemption. God’s love to every one is infinite, and he hath paid an infinite price for thee, purchased an infinite happiness to thee. His love to thee was without measure and bounds, so must thy thankfulness be to him without stint and limit. Though he died for others as well as thee, yet thou art bound to love him no less than if it had been for thee alone; he shed his whole blood for thee, and every drop was poured out for thy sake.
[2.] By a fiducial owning and appropriation, challenging his right in him. So doth Thomas: John xx. 28, ‘My Lord and my God.’ Faith appropriates God to our own use and comfort. The devils know that there is a God and a Christ, for they confessed, ‘Thou art Jesus, the Son of the living God;’ but they can never say with comfort, ‘My God and my Christ.’ This application is the ground of our love to Christ, and our comfort in Christ.
Our love to Christ. Things that concern us affect us. This is the quickening motive to the spiritual life, ‘Who loved me, and gave himself for me,’ Gal. ii. 20; and 1 John iv. 19, ‘We love him, be cause he loved us first.’ A particular sense and experience of God’s love to our own souls doth most quicken and awaken our love to him again, when we see that he hath thought of us, and taken care of our salvation, that our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
So for our comfort in Christ. It is the propriety a man hath to any good thing that doth increase the comfort of it. It is a misery to a man to see others enjoy a benefit which he hath as much need of as others, and he can enjoy no part of it. I may allude to that, Prov. v. 15, ‘Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.’ The greater we know the benefit, the greater will be our trouble to want it. A poor man that sees a large dole given, and multitudes relieved, and he can get nothing, is the more troubled. So here, to see Christ ready to save sinners, and we have no comfort by him, is very afflicting: Eph. i. 13, ‘After ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.’ It is not sufficient to know that the gospel is a doctrine of salvation to others; but every one should labour, by a due application of the promises to their own hearts, to find it to be a doctrine of salvation to themselves in particular. The seeing of meat, though never so wholesome, doth not nourish, but the eating of it. The beholding of Christ revealed in the word as a Saviour in general is not sufficient to give full comfort, without applying him to be my Christ, my Saviour, my Redeemer. We must make sure of our share in this universal good. We read of blood shed and blood sprinkled, atonement made, and atonement received, but no man hath satisfying comfort by the blood of Christ till it be sprinkled upon his heart, and applied to him by the Spirit of God, and thereby assured that it was shed for him.
3. The next ground of comfort is, that our Redeemer liveth. This is true of Christ, whether you consider him as God or as man. (1.) As God; so he is co-eternal with the Father, ‘the first and the last,’ the beginning of all things, and the end of them. So he saith not, he hath, or shall live, but he ‘liveth.’ ‘In my flesh shall I see God.’ 298He speaks of the Redeemer’s life without any distinction of time—past, present, or to come; so that he is altogether, with the Father and the Spirit, from everlasting to everlasting, one living God. (2.) As man after his resurrection: Rev. i. 18, ‘I am he that liveth, and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore, Amen. And have the keys of hell and of death.’ Now in this sense I take it for his life in heaven after his resurrection from the dead; and that is of great comfort to us; for the apostle telleth us, that ‘if we were reconciled by the death of Christ, much more shall we be saved by his life.’ The comfort is great that arises from the life of the Redeemer.
[1.] It is a visible demonstration of the truth of the gospel in general, and in particular of the article of eternal life. The truth of the gospel in general: Acts xvii. 31, ‘Hath given assurance,’ that is, a sufficient evidence to induce a belief of the gospel, ‘in that he hath raised him from the dead.’ Christ came from heaven as a faithful witness to beget faith as well as to give us knowledge, sealing his testimony with unquestionable proofs, to make it the more sure and credible to us, for he hath confirmed it by a life of miracles, and chiefly by rising from the dead himself, and ascending visibly to heaven. His resurrection from the dead is proof enough to justify his doctrine, and to evidence the certainty of his testimony; for God by his divine power would not countenance a deceiver, and raise him from the dead, and receive him into glory with himself. Particularly it proves the state of unseen glory; life and immortality are more fully brought to light in the gospel than by any other means, 2 Tim. i. 10. By the resurrection of Jesus Christ there is not only a clear revelation of it, but a full confirmation, because Christ is entered into the glory that he spake of, and promised to his disciples. He is gone before us into the other world, that he may receive us unto himself, and that we might, with a more steady confidence, wait for it in the midst of fears and uncertainties of the present life.
[2.] His living after death. It was the solemn acquittance of our surety from the sins imputed to him, and a token of the acceptation of his purchase; when Christ rose again from the dead, our surety was let out of prison, Isa. liii. 8. And it is a ground of confidence to us, for when the debtor sees the surety walk abroad, he may be sure the debt is satisfied. Therefore it is said, Rom. iv. 25, ‘Who was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification.’ Christ is some times said to rise from the dead, and sometimes to be raised from the dead. His taking up his life again argued his divine power; but as man, he was raised. So it is said, Heb. xiii. 20, ‘The God of peace, who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ,’ God the Father brought him again from the dead, as an evidence of full satisfaction. Our surety did not break prison, but was solemnly brought forth. The disciples said, Acts xvi. 37-39, ‘Let them come themselves and fetch us.’ An angel was sent from heaven to roll away the stone, to show that Christ had a solemn release and discharge.
[3.] His living implies his capacity to intercede for us, and to relieve us in all our necessities: Heb. vii. 24, 25, ‘But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood; therefore he is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him, seeing he ever 299liveth to make intercession for them.’ Christ is there compared with the Levitical priesthood. They were many that succeeded one after another, and being hindered by death, could never bring their work to perfection; but this priest ever liveth to plead the church’s cause with God, presenting his human nature in his sight, and appearing continually before his Father’s throne, and this for all that come to God by him. They are his clients, and he is their advocate. It is against the rules of that court to plead for others that continue in their unbelief and impenitency. After the beast was slain without the camp, the Levitical high priest did enter into the sanctuary with blood; so Christ after his sacrifice did enter into the heavenly sanctuary with the names of the twelve tribes of all the saints on his breast and shoulders, there to appear before God for us, Heb. ix. 14. He ever liveth to accomplish the fruits of his purchase for those that are reconciled to God by him as a high priest, to answer the accusations of Satan as our advocate, to stop the breaking out of wrath. As Jonathan in Saul’s court did mitigate his father’s anger against David, so Christ doth interpose night and day to prevent breaches, and to preserve a mutual correspondence between God and us, as our lieger-agent; to sue out grace suitable to our conflicts, difficulties, and temptations, as our friend in court; to procure the acceptance of our prayers, as our mediator and intercessor, Heb. viii. 2.
[4.] His living is the root and cause of our life, for he having purchased eternal life, not only for himself, but for all his members, ever liveth to convey it to them, and maintain it in them: John xiv. 19, ‘Because I live, ye shall live also;’ John vi. 57, ‘As I live by the Father, so he that believeth in me shall live by me.’ By reason of the mystical union that is between Christ and believers, they may rest upon it, that as long as the head hath life, the members shall not be utterly without life, for Christ is a pledge and a pattern of that power that shall work in us in order to life spiritual and eternal.
4. The next ground of comfort is the certainty of persuasion: ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth.’ As if he had said, I do not doubt of it, nor suspect it in the least. I know implies:—
[1.] A clear understanding of this mystery. The more fully we understand the grounds of faith, the more efficacy they have upon us to beget confidence and joy of faith in us. The fears that haunt us are the fruits of darkness and ignorance, accompanied with a sense of guilt; but as gospel-knowledge increases, they vanish as mists do before the sun: Ps. ix. 10, ‘They that know thy name will put their trust in thee;’ if God were better known, he would be better trusted.
[2.] I know, implies certainty of persuasion. This is either certainty of faith, or of spiritual sense.
First, Of faith, which depends on the certainty of God’s revelation. That was either the general promise in paradise: Gen. iii. 15, God had said, ‘The seed of the woman shall break the serpent’s head.’ Now upon this promise Job is as confident of a redeemer, as if he had seen him with his bodily eyes. Thus Abraham is said to have seen Christ’s day: John viii. 56, and Heb. xi. 13, ‘These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them.’ Or his faith was built upon 300some particular revelation: Heb. i. 1, ‘God, who at sundry times, and by divers manners, spake unto the fathers by the prophets.’ They had a sufficient discovery of the Redeemer to be a ground of faith. Certain it is, the eyes of believers were then upon him. We are told that Christ was ‘the lamb slain from the foundation of the world,’ Rev. xiii. 8. He is set forth in prophecies and types. ‘Now faith is the evidence of things not seen;’ not seen by sense, but clearly seen in the promise. He was the joy of all ages, even of those that lived before he came in the flesh. The same is true after the coming of Christ, as well as before, for we ‘believe in him whom we have not seen,’ 1 Peter i. 8. We should as heartily love him and rejoice in him as if we had conversed with him bodily. Only we have an advantage: history is not so dark as prophecy, and it is more easy to believe what is past, where we have the suffrage and experience of so many ages to confirm us, than to expect what is to come, where we have only God’s bare word to support us. The mystery is now more clearly revealed to us than before the exhibition of our Saviour; therefore, according to our ad vantage, so should the increase of our faith be. We should be able to say, 2 Tim. i. 12, ‘I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him.’ We should rest upon Christ with more confidence.
Secondly, The certainty of spiritual sense. We know that he is a Redeemer by the discovery of the word; that he is our Redeemer by the application of the Spirit, as he manifests himself to us and in us. This knowledge of spiritual sense is often spoken of r Job xiii. 18, ‘I know that I shall be justified;’ Heb. x. 34, ‘Knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance;’ Rom. vi. 6, ‘Knowing this, that your old man is crucified,’ that is, feeling. Now both these are of great comfort, the certainty of faith and the sweetness of sense; for without the certainty of faith, the soul is only left to blind guesses and loose conjectures, and so can never have solid comfort. Without the knowledge of sense, that is, of our interest in salvation, the soul loses much of its joy and peace. As novices and men that have never before been at sea are troubled at the swelling of every wave and billow though they are safe, yet, because they do not know they are safe, their voyage is a torment to them. So those that take the assurance of the word of God for the truth of redemption by Christ, and tremblingly build upon it, yet because they know not their own interest, have not the comfort of the Spirit, their journey to heaven is the more troublesome. Therefore it concerneth us to build upon a sure foundation, so to get a clear interest.
II. How this is applicable in all afflictions. That easily appears from these premises:—
1. In public troubles and difficulties. We are amazed and perplexed many times at the events that fall out in the world, and know not whereunto these things will grow. Yet this is some comfort and support to all that are concerned in Zion’s affairs, that Christ is alive at his Father’s right hand, and will pursue all things that make for the glory of God, and; the advancement of his own kingdom. I say, the glory of God: Rom. vi. 10, ‘In that he liveth, he liveth unto God.’ His own kingdom: Ps. cx. 1, ‘Sit thou at my right hand till I make 301thine enemies thy footstool.’ He is at the right hand of God, and there shall abide till he return to judge the world. In the meantime, he hath the inspection of all affairs: all judgment is put into his hands, John v. 22. Things are not left to the will of man, nor to their own contingency, but are guided and ordered by him with good advice. However matters go, Christ is governor, who is not, cannot be deposed from his regal office, nor jostled out of the throne. As Luther said upon some loss that befell the friends of the gospel, Etiamnum vivit et regnat Christus. When the floods lifted up their voice, and all things seemed to threaten ruin and to overwhelm, then follows, ‘The Lord reigneth; the Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters,’ Ps. xciii. 1,4. It is spoken of the kingdom of Christ, for the advancing and preserving of which he gives forth signal testimonies of his regal power.
2. In spiritual distresses; when we want life and quickening, are opposed with troubled thoughts about our sinful infirmities. Your Redeemer hath life in himself, but not for himself alone; he came into the world that we might have a fuller communication of his grace, John x. 10. Now he is gone back again to God, and filled with the Spirit, to communicate it to the members of his mystical body: Eph. iv. 10, ‘He is ascended up to fill all things.’ When we are dead, our Redeemer liveth as a fountain of life to God’s people.
3. In outward calamities. He liveth when other comforts fail or are taken away from us; he will prove the nearest and best friend when all others forsake us; he will not only sympathise with us, but help us, and knoweth how to give a comfortable issue out of the sorest troubles: 2 Cor. iv. 14, 16, ‘Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For which cause we faint not.’
4. It is a great comfort in calumnies and slanders, when our names are taken up in the lips of the taunters and cast forth as evil. Job here, when his friends suspected him as fallen from the grace of God, puts his cause into the hands of the great Mediator who was now with God in heaven, making intercession for him, and will one day stand on the earth judging the world. We need not fear any partial judge here below, nor be troubled at their prejudices and misconstructions. Christ is the true judge, ‘who will bring to light the hidden things of the heart; and then shall every man have praise of God,’ 1 Cor. iv. 5, that is, every one that hath done well. Though we have failings, yet those that flee to a Redeemer for pardon and reconciliation with God, and grace to walk uprightly, shall then be acquitted.
5. Chiefly it is a comfort against the fears of death, that you may yield up yourselves into Christ’s hands. Thoughts of dwelling with God in eternal life are less comfortable, because death and the grave interpose; we must pass through them before we can enjoy him. But though we die, Christ liveth, who is the resurrection, and those that believe in him shall live though they die, John xi. 25. For our souls, he standeth ready to receive them: Acts vii. 59, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And our bodies at the last day shall be raised again to immortal life: ‘When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, we shall appear with him in glory,’ Col. iii. 4.. We need not fear death, for 302by his dying and rising again the powers of the grave are shaken, and death itself is become mortal. The grave is not a prison, but a place of repose, Isa. lvii. 2; and death not a final extinction, but a passage into glory. It is ours: 1 Cor. iii. 22, ‘All things are yours, life, death, things present, things to come; all are yours.’ And it is gain: Phil. i. 21, ‘For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.’ Therefore we may go to the grave with comfort and hope. Christ died and yet is alive; so shall we. ‘He is risen as the first-fruits of them that sleep,’ 1 Cor. xv. 20. The whole harvest was blessed and sanctified by a handful of the first-fruits dedicated to God. When Christ arose, he virtually drew all the elect out of the grave with him; being renewed and reconciled by his grace, they may be confident of a joyful resurrection, for Christ is their fore-fruits. The first-fruits did not bless the tares, darnel, and cockle that grew amongst the corn; no man that ever offered the first-fruits desired a blessing upon the weeds. No; ‘Bind the tares in bundles, and gather the wheat into my barn.’ But if he indeed be your Redeemer, and hath redeemed you from all iniquity, that is, from the guilt and power of sin, it is a comfort to you to know that he lives gloriously with God, and will draw all his own after him, that they may live gloriously with him. He is our fore-runner, Heb. vi. 20, who is gone to heaven and hath taken possession for himself, and in our behalf, to make the way more passable for us. When we die, we do but go thither whither he is gone before us; he standeth upon the shore ready to receive us into glory.
Use of Exhortation.
I. Believe it and be persuaded of this truth, that you have a Redeemer living with God in the heavens.
1 . This is a matter of mere faith, and therefore it must be soundly believed before it can have any efficacy upon us. Some points of faith are mixed, partly evident by natural reason, partly by divine revelation: as that there is a God; it is matter of sensible experience, Rom. i. 20, and a matter of faith also; ‘whosoever comes to God must believe that God is.’ Nature helpeth forward the entertainment of these things, but redemption by Christ is a matter of pure and mere faith, and is received by believing God’s testimony, 2 Thes. i. 10. There is no improving these points till we soundly believe them.
2. Because we often think we believe these general truths when in deed we do not believe them at all, or not with such a degree of assent as we imagine. Our Lord, when he speaks of these truths: John xi. 26, ‘He that believeth in me shall live though he die; believest thou this?’ John xvi. 31, ‘Do ye now believe?’ We conceit our faith to be much stronger than indeed it is about the main articles of faith.
3. Because among them that profess themselves Christians, there are monstrous defects in their faith. Naturally we look upon the gospel as a well-devised fable, 2 Peter i. 16; and many that dare not speak it out, yet do but speak of Christ in jest and for fashion sake. I am sure most live as if there were no such matter, and the many impostures and cheats of Christendom, and the divisions and scandals 303 amongst us, have weakened the faith of many, that were it not for shame they would turn professed infidels. There could not be such boldness in sinning, such coldness in spiritual and heavenly things, such neglect of Christ and heaven, if men were true and sound believers. Others content themselves with a negative sense; they do not question or contradict these articles of faith, because they do not consider them, but take up the common opinion, hand over head, and were never assaulted with temptations to the contrary; they do not doubt of it, say they; but are they rooted and grounded in the faith? Col. i. 23. Their not doubting comes from their non-attention. Others have a speculative assent; there is a certainty of evidence and a certainty of adherence. The former consisteth in the conviction of the mind, the latter in the bent of the will and affections. An object rightly propounded extorteth the former from the understanding, not expecting the consent of the will; the latter followeth imperium et consensum voluntatis. The former arises from the evidence of the thing; the latter from the consideration of the worth, weight, and greatness of it: 1 Tim. i. 15, ‘This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.’ They must not only be apprehended by us as true, but seriously considered as the highest and most important things, so as that we may adhere to them with all our hearts. It is such a belief of the gospel as produces a firm and cordial adherence, otherwise it will not serve the end and purpose of the gospel, which requireth us to crucify our lusts, sacrifice our interests, and perform those things which are unpleasing to nature upon the hopes it offereth to us, and with confidence and joyfulness to wait upon God for his salvation, in the midst of all pressures and afflictions. If your adherence were more firm, you would find your comfort more lively, fresh, and constant, your obedience more uniform, you would not be so shaken with temptations and assaults, and the incursion of worldly cares and sorrows. In great temptations the children of God see the need of a firm and cordial assent to the main gospel truths, Heb. vi. 1, 2. Nay, in ordinary practices, in every prayer you make to God, Heb. x. 22, ‘Let us draw nigh to God with a true heart, in full assurance of faith;’ 1 Tim. ii. 8, ‘I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands without wrath and doubting.’
4. Endeavour to arrive at the highest degree of assent. Faith is or should be strongly persuaded of what it believeth. It is an evidence, not a conjecture; not a surmise, but a firm assurance. We should certainly know what we believe: ‘We know thou art a teacher sent from God,’ John iii. 2; ‘We know, and are sure, that thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,’ John vi. 69; 2 Cor. v. 1, ‘We know that we have a building of God;’ 1 John iii. 2, ‘We know that we shall see him as he is;’ 1 Cor. xv. 58, ‘Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.’ Invisible things revealed by God should be certainly known, because God hath told us such clear, firm apprehensions become us. Faith is not a bare conjecture, but a certain knowledge; not we think, we hope well, but we know, is the language of faith. It is not a bare possibility we go upon, nor a probable opinion, but a 304certain, infallible truth. I put you upon this, partly because we have a great argument in the text. If Job could see it so long before it came to pass, should we not now see it? Believers of old make us ashamed who live in the clear sunshine of the gospel. Job lived long before the gospel was revealed; the redemption of souls was at that time a great mystery, being sparingly revealed to a few. But one of a thou sand could bring this message to a condemned sinner, that God had found a ransom, Job xxxiii. 23. Partly to put you upon earnest prayer to God, and other holy means. The Spirit opens our eyes and inclines our hearts: Eph. i. 17, 18, ‘I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him. The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.’
II. I exhort you to apply and improve it to your particular comfort. I shall speak:—
1, To the careless.
2. To the sensible.
1. To the careless, who do not give diligence to make their interest clear, that they may be able to say, ‘I know that my Redeemer liveth.’ Some are contented so they may be well in the world, and live in peace, credit, and mirth here, but never look after an interest in the Redeemer, or to get a sure hope of a sentence of absolution from him at the last day. They content themselves with a general belief that Christ died for sinners, and only make use of it for the increase of their carnal security and boldness in sinning. We must not only consider what Christ hath done, but what we are to do that we may be partakers of the benefits. The general work of redemption Christ hath performed for us, without any consent on our part. He took our nature, fulfilled the law, satisfied the justice of God, merited grace; but we must thank fully receive him, live in him and to him, before this is applied to us, or we can have the comfort of it, 2 Cor. v. 17; xiii. 5. They content themselves to think and hope well, but do not make it sure upon good grounds. And when questions and scruples are raised in their hearts, there is not a full hearing of the matter, the court is broken up ere things are well determined; and so they run the hazard of uncertainty, and live and die venturing their souls upon the bare possibility of being saved, never put it out of doubt, nor ‘assure their hearts before God,’ 1 John iii. 19.
2. To the sensible; to live upon this truth in the midst of their calamities, especially that they may enjoy the comfort of it in a dying hour.
Object. You will say, We could take comfort in this, if we knew we had a Redeemer at God’s right hand; but alas! after all our profession of the name of Christ, and long waiting upon God, I cannot make this close application, to say, ‘My Redeemer liveth,’ or ‘My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,’ Luke i. 47.
Ans. But cannot you bless God for the gospel, and the offers of pardon and life by him? The main foundation of comfort lies in the general truths; your hopes are not built chiefly upon the sense of your own interest, but the ransom which Christ hath paid for you. Is it 305nothing to you that God should become man, and your judge your kinsman? John i. 14. Surely goodness and mercy is nearer to us in our own nature than it was in the divine nature. We have an apparent demonstration of it to us, that Christ would come among us to bring home souls to God, Heb. vi. 17, 18. Again, is it nothing that, in this nature of ours, he would pay our ransom, that none should perish for want of a sufficient satisfaction to God’s justice, but for want of a willing heart to accept and own his Redeemer? John iii. 16, 17; Rev. iii. 24-26. We are so far onward in our way. Again, is it nothing to us that our Redeemer will rescue us out of the hand of the destroyer? 1 John iii. 8. It is his office. This should prevail with us, not to tie the cord the faster, but to wait upon him with the more hope if you desire his aid to this end and purpose, for it is his office. Again, is it nothing to you that this Redeemer liveth; that Christ, in your nature, rose again, and is now at God’s right hand, to manage the causes of poor sinners? Rom. viii. 34. St Paul’s triumph hence ariseth. Lastly, is it nothing to you to know this, that God hath sent the gospel to you, and given you faith of these things? 1 John v. 20, ‘We know the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true.’ Is this favour nothing? These are the truths you must live upon.
Secondly, To those that question whether Christ be our Redeemer, whether they may look upon themselves as having an actual interest in the benefits of his death and intercession.
I answer—This is evident: (1.) By their own act; (2.) By God’s act.
1. Their own act. General grace must some way be made particular, else it cannot profit us. All are not justified, nor adopted, nor saved. There is the same merciful God, the same all-sufficient Saviour, the same gracious covenant. Some apply this grace, others do not. Christ doth not save us at a distance, but as received into our hearts; as a plaster doth not heal at a distance, but applied to the sore: John i. 13, ‘To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.’ If you heartily consent and accept of the Redeemer’s grace to heal your wounded souls, you shall partake of salvation.
2. There is an act on God’s part. What have you to show that God is reconciled to you? This is not evident till we have the pledge of our reconciliation with God, the gift of the Holy Spirit. This affords infallible assurance of God’s favour. Other things may be given in wrath, but the Spirit is the earnest of his eternal love. God loved Christ, and gave him the Spirit without measure, John iii. 34. By the Spirit his love is applied to us, Rom. v. 5. This is the evidence from whence we may conclude our actual communion with God. ‘It holdeth good exclusively, Rom. viii. 9; inclusively, 1 John iv. 13. The Spirit first works, and then witnesses; he is first a guide and sanctifier, then a comforter. As a guide, he leadeth us to all truth: John xvi. 13, ‘When the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth;’ Rom. viii. 14, ‘As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.’ As a sanctifier, he breaketh the power of fleshly lusts, Rom. viii. 13; conformeth us to the image of Christ, Rom. viii. 29. Then as a comforter, he witnesseth our present interest and our future hopes: Rom. viii. 16, ‘The Spirit beareth 306witness to our spirits, that we are the children of God;’ 2 Cor. i. 22, ‘Who hath also sealed us, and given us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts;’ Eph. i. 13, ‘In whom also, after ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.’
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