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Chapter III. The glory of Christ in the mysterious constitution of his person.
The second thing wherein we may behold the glory of Christ, given him of his Father, is in the mysterious constitution of his Person, as 310he is God and man in one and the same person. There are in him, in his one single individual person, two distinct natures; the one, eternal, infinite, immense, almighty, — the form and essence of God; the other, having a beginning in time, finite, limited, confined unto a certain place, — which is our nature, which he took on him when he was “made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The declaration of the nature of this glory is a part of my discourse of the Person of Christ, whereunto I refer the reader:— my present design is of another nature.
This is that glory whose beams are so illustrious, as that the blind world cannot bear the light and beauty of them. Multitudes begin openly to deny this incarnation of the Son of God, — this personal union of God and man in their distinct natures. They deny that there is either glory or truth in it; and it will ere long appear (it begins already to evidence itself) what greater multitudes there are, who yet do not, who yet dare not, openly reject the doctrine of it, who in truth believe it not, nor see any glory in it. Howbeit, this glory is the glory of our religion, — the glory of the church, — the sole Rock whereon it is built, — the only spring of present grace and future glory.
This is that glory which the angels themselves desire to behold, the mystery whereof they “bow down to look into,” 1 Peter i. 12. So was their desire represented by the cherubim in the most holy place of the tabernacle; for they were a shadow of the ministry of angels in the church. The ark and the mercy seat were a type of Christ in the discharge of his office; and these cherubim were made standing over them, as being in heaven above; but earnestly looking down upon them in a posture of reverence and adoration. So they did of old; and in their present contemplation of it consists no small part of their eternal blessedness.
Hereon depends the ruin of Satan and his kingdom. His sin, so far as we can conceive, consisted of two parts. 1. His pride against the person of the Son of God, by whom he was created. “For by him were all things created that are” (or were when first created) “in heaven, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or power,” Col. i. 16. Against him he lifted up himself; — which was the beginning of his transgression. 2. Envy against mankind, made in the image of God, of the Son of God the first born. This completed his sin; nothing was now left whereon to act his pride and malice. Unto his eternal confusion and ruin, God, in infinite wisdom, unites both the natures he had sinned against in the one person of the Son; who was the first object of his pride and malice. Hereby his destruction is attended with everlasting shame in the discovery of his folly, wherein he would have contended with infinite wisdom, as well as misery, by the powers of the two natures united in one person.
311Here lies the foundation of the church. The foundation of the whole old creation was laid in an act of absolute sovereign power. Hereby God “hanged the earth upon nothing.” But the foundation of the church is on this mysterious, immovable rock, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;” — on the most intimate conjunction of the two natures, the divine and human, in themselves infinitely distant, in the same person.
We may name one place wherein it is gloriously represented unto us, Isa. ix. 6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Here must the whole church fall down and worship the Author of this wonderful contrivance; and, captivating their understandings unto the obedience of faith, humbly adore what they cannot comprehend.
This was obscurely represented unto the church of old, Exod. iii. 2–6, “And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet; for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham,” &c.
This fire was a type or declaration of the presence of God in the person of the Son. For with respect unto the Father he is called an Angel, the Angel of the covenant; but absolutely in himself, he was Jehovah, the “God of Abraham,” &c. And of his presence the fire was a proper representation. For in his nature he is as a “consuming fire;” and his present work was the delivery of the church out of a fiery trial. This fire placed itself in a bush, where it burned; but the bush was not consumed. And although the continuance of the fire in the bush was but for a short season, a present appearance, yet thence was God said to dwell in the bush: “The good-will of him that dwelt in the bush,” Deut. xxxiii. 16. And this is so spoken, because the being of the fire in the bush for a season was a type of him in whom “the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily,” and that for ever, Col. ii. 9, — of him who was “made flesh, and dwelt among us,” John i. 14. The eternal fire of the divine nature dwells in the bush of our frail nature, yet is it not consumed thereby. God thus dwells in this bush, with all his good-will towards sinners.
Moses looked on this sight as a marvellous and wondrous thing. 312And if it were so in the type, what is it in the truth, substance, and reality of it?
And by direction given unto him to “put off his shoes,” we are taught to cast away all fleshly imaginations and carnal affections, that by pure acts of faith we may behold this glory, — the glory of the only-begotten of the Father.
I design not here to insist on the explication or confirmation of this glorious truth, concerning the constitution of the person of Christ in and by his incarnation. What I can comprehend, what I do believe concerning it, I have fully declared in a large peculiar treatise.22 See the preceding treatise, “Christologia; or, a Declaration of the Glorious Mystery of the Person of Christ.” — Ed. Here I take the truth itself as known, or as it may be thence learned. My present business is only to stir up the minds of believers unto a due contemplation of the glory of Christ in the sacred, mysterious constitution of his person, as God and man in one. So much as we abide herein, so much do “we live by the faith of the Son of God;” — and God can, by a spirit of wisdom and revelation, open the eyes of our understandings, that we may behold this glory unto our ineffable consolation and joy. And unto the diligent discharge of our duty herein I shall offer the ensuing directions:—
1. Let us get it fixed on our souls and in our minds, that this glory of Christ in the divine constitution of his person is the best, the most noble, useful, beneficial object that we can be conversant about in our thoughts, or cleave unto in our affections.
What are all other things in comparison of the “knowledge of Christ?” In the judgment of the great apostle, they are but “loss and dung,” Phil. iii. 8–10. So they were to him; and if they are not so to us we are carnal.
What is the world, and what are the things thereof, which most men spend their thoughts about, and fix their affections on? The Psalmist gives his judgment about them, in comparison of a view of this glory of Christ, Ps. iv. 6, “Many say, Who will show us any good?” — Who will give and help us to attain so much in and of this world as will give rest and satisfaction unto our minds? That is the good inquired after. But, saith he, “Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us.” The light of the glory of God in the face of Christ Jesus is that satisfactory good alone which I desire and seek after.
The Scripture reproacheth the vanity and folly of the minds of men, in that “they spend their money for that which is not bread, and their labour for that which profiteth not.” They engage the vigour of their spirits about perishing things, when they have durable substance and riches proposed unto them.
313How do men for the most part exercise their minds? what are they conversant about in their thoughts?
Some by them “make provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof;” as Rom. xiii. 14. They search about continually in their thoughts for objects suited unto their lusts and carnal affections, coining, framing, and stamping of them in their imaginations. They fix their eyes with delight on toads and serpents, with all noisome, filthy objects, — refusing, in the meantime, to behold the beauty and glory of the light of the sun. So is it with all that spend their thoughts about the objects of their sinful pleasures, — refusing to look up after one view of this glory of Christ.
Some keep their thoughts in continual exercise about the things of this world, as unto the advantages and emoluments which they expect from them. Hereby are they transformed into the image of the world, becoming earthly, carnal, and vain. Is it because there is no God in Israel that these applications are made unto the idol of Ekron? That there is no glory, no desirableness in Christ for men to inquire after, and fix their minds upon? O the blindness, the darkness, the folly of poor sinners! Whom do they despise? and for what?
Some, of more refined parts and notional minds, do arise unto a sedulous meditation on the works of creation and providence. Hence many excellent discourses on that subject, adorned with eloquence, are published among us. And a work this is worthy of our nature, and suited unto our rational capacities; yea, the first end of our natural endowment with them. But in all these things, there is no glory in comparison of what is proposed to us in the mysterious constitution of the person of Christ. The sun has no glory, the moon and stars no beauty, the order and influence of the heavenly bodies have no excellency, in comparison of it.
This is that which the Psalmist designs to declare, Ps. viii., “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens. When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.”
He is engaged in a contemplation of the glory of God in his works; and he concludes that the fabric of heaven, with the moon and stars therein (for it was his meditation by night, when he beheld them), was exceeding glorious, and greatly to be admired. This casts his thoughts on the poor, weak, infirm nature of man, which seems as nothing in comparison of those glories above; but immediately hereon 314he falls into an admiration of the wisdom, goodness, and love of God, exalting that nature incomparably above all the works of creation in the person of Jesus Christ; as the apostle expounds in this place, Heb. ii. 5, 6.
This, therefore, is the highest, the best, the most useful object of our thoughts and affections. He who has had a real view of this glory, though he know himself to be a poor, sinful, dying worm of the earth, yet would he not be an angel in heaven, if thereby he should lose the sight of it; for this is the centre wherein all the lines of the manifestation of the divine glory do meet and rest.
Look unto the things of this world, — wives, children, possessions, estates, power, friends, and honour; how amiable are they! how desirable unto the thoughts of the most of men! But he who has obtained a view of the glory of Christ, will, in the midst of them all, say, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth that I desire besides thee,” Ps. lxxiii. 25; “For who in the heaven can be compared unto the Lord? who among the sons of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?” Ps. lxxxix. 6.
He himself, out of his infinite love and ineffable condescension, upon the sight and view of his church, and his own graces in her, wherewith she is adorned, does say, “Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck,” Cant. iv. 9. How much more ought a believing soul, upon a view of the glory of Christ, in whom it pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell, to say, Thou hast ravished my heart, taken it away from me! “O thou whom my soul loveth,” one glance of thy glorious beauty upon me has quite overcome me, — hath left no heart in me unto things here below! If it be not thus with us frequently, — if we value not this object of our minds and affections, — if we are not diligent in looking up unto him to behold his glory, — it is because we are carnal, and not in any good measure partakers of the promise, that “our eyes shall see the King in his beauty.”
2. Our second direction unto the same end is, that we diligently study the Scripture, and the revelations that are made of this glory of Christ therein. To behold it, is not a work of fancy or imagination; it is not conversing with an image framed by the art of men without, or that of our own fancy within, but of faith exercised on divine revelations. This direction he gives us himself, John v. 39, “Search the Scriptures; for they are they which testify of me.” The way whereby this is done is fully set before us in the example of the holy prophets under the Old Testament, 1 Peter i. 11–13.
This principle is always to be retained in our minds in reading of the Scripture, — namely, that the revelation and doctrine of the person 315of Christ and his office, is the foundation whereon all other instructions of the prophets and apostles for the edification of the church are built, and whereinto they are resolved; as is declared, Eph. ii. 20–22. So our Lord Jesus Christ himself at large makes it manifest, Luke xxiv. 26, 27, 45, 46. Lay aside the consideration hereof, and the Scriptures are no such thing as they pretend unto, — namely, a revelation of the glory of God in the salvation of the church; nor are those of the Old Testament so at this day unto the Jews, who own not this principle, 2 Cor. iii. 13–16. There are, therefore, such revelations of the person and glory of Christ treasured up in the Scripture, from the beginning unto the end of it, as may exercise the faith and contemplation of believers in this world, and shall never, during this life, be fully discovered or understood; and in divine meditations of these revelations does much of the life of faith consist.
There are three ways whereby the glory of Christ is represented unto us in the Scripture. First, By direct descriptions of his glorious person and incarnation. See, among other places, Gen. iii. 15; Ps. ii. 7–9, xlv. 2–6, lxviii. 17, 18, cx.; Isa. vi. 1–4, ix. 6; Zech. iii. 8; John i. 1–3; Phil. ii. 6–8; Heb. i. 1–3, ii. 14–16; Rev. i. 17, 18. Secondly, By prophecies, promises, and express instructions concerning him, all leading unto the contemplation of his glory, which are innumerable. Thirdly, By the sacred institutions of divine worship under the Old Testament: for the end of them all was to represent unto the church the glory of Christ in the discharge of his office; as we shall see afterward.
We may take notice of an instance in one kind under the Old Testament, and of one and another under the New.
His personal appearances under the Old Testament carried in them a demonstration of his glory. Such was that in the vision which Isaiah had, “when he saw his glory, and spake of him,” chap. vi. 1, 2, “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim,” &c. It was a representation of the glory of the divine presence of Christ filling his human nature, the temple of his body, with a train of all-glorious graces. And if this typical representation of it was so glorious, as that the seraphim were not able steadfastly to behold it, but “covered their faces” upon its appearance, verse 2, how exceeding glorious is it in itself, as it is openly revealed in the Gospel!
Of the same nature are the immediate testimonies given unto him from heaven in the New Testament. So the apostle tells us, “he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” 2 Peter i. 17. The apostle intends the time of his transfiguration in the mount; for so he adds, verse 18, “And 316this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.” Howbeit, at sundry other times he had the same testimony, or to the same purpose, from God, even the Father, in heaven. Herein God gave him honour and glory, which all those that believe in him should behold and admire; not only those who heard this testimony with their bodily ears, but all unto whom it is testified in the Scripture, are obliged to look after, and contemplate on, the glory of Christ, as thus revealed and proposed. From the throne of his excellency, by audible voices, by visible signs, by the opening of the heavens above, by the descent of the Holy Spirit upon him, God testified unto him as his eternal Son, and gave him therein honour and glory. The thoughts of this divine testimony, and the glory of Christ therein, has often filled the hearts of some with joy and delight.
This, therefore, in reading and studying the holy Scripture, we ought with all diligence to search and attend unto, as did the prophets of old (1 Peter i. 11, 12), if we intend by them to be made “wise unto salvation.”
We should herein be as the merchant-man that seeks for pearls; he seeks for all sorts of them, but when he has found one of “great price,” he parts with all to make it his own, Matt. xiii. 45, 46. The Scripture is the field, the place, the mine where we search and dig for pearls. See Prov. ii. 1–5. Every sacred truth that is made effectual unto the good of our souls, is a pearl whereby we are enriched; but when we meet with, when we fall upon this pearl of great price, the glory of Christ, — this is that which the soul of a believer cleaves unto with joy.
Then do we find food for souls in the word of truth, then do we taste how gracious the Lord is therein, then is the Scripture full of refreshment unto us as a spring of living water, — when we are taken into blessed views of the glory of Christ therein. And we are in the best frame of duty, when the principal motive in our minds to contend earnestly for retaining the possession of the Scripture against all that would deprive us of it, or discourage us from a daily diligent search into it, is this, — that they would take from us the only glass wherein we may behold the glory of Christ. This is the glory of the Scripture, that it is the great, yea, the only, outward means of representing unto us the glory of Christ; and he is the sun in the firmament of it, which only has light in itself, and communicates it unto all other things besides.
3. Another direction unto this same end is, that having attained the light of the knowledge of the glory of Christ from the Scripture, or by the dispensation of the truth in the preaching of the gospel, we would esteem it our duty frequently to meditate thereon.
317Want hereof is that fundamental mistake which keeps many among us so low in their grace, so regardless of their privileges. They hear of these things, they assent unto their truth, at least they do not gainsay them; but they never solemnly meditate upon them. This they esteem a world that is above them, or are ignorant totally of it, or esteem themselves not much concerned in it, or dislike it as fanaticism. For it is that which no considerations can engage a carnal mind to delight in. The mind must be spiritual and holy, freed from earthly affections and encumbrances, raised above things here below, that can in a due manner meditate on the glory of Christ. Therefore are the most strangers unto this duty, because they will not be at the trouble and charge of that mortification of earthly affections, — that extirpation of sensual inclinations, — that retirement from the occasions of life, which are required whereunto. See the treatise on Spiritual-mindedness.
It is to be feared that there are some who profess religion with an appearance of strictness, who never separate themselves from all other occasions, to meditate on Christ and his glory; and yet, with a strange inconsistency of apprehensions, they will profess that they desire nothing more than to behold his glory in heaven for ever. But it is evident, even in the light of reason, that these things are irreconcilable. It is impossible that he who never meditates with delight on the glory of Christ here in this world, who labours not to behold it by faith as it is revealed in the Scripture, should ever have any real gracious desire to behold it in heaven. They may love and desire the fruition of their own imaginations; — they cannot do so of the glory of Christ, whereof they are ignorant, and wherewith they are unacquainted. It is, therefore, to be lamented that men can find time for, and have inclinations to think and meditate on, other things, that may be earthly and vain; but have neither heart, nor inclination, nor leisure, to meditate on this glorious object. What is the faith and love which such men profess? How will they find themselves deceived in the issue!
4. Let your occasional thoughts of Christ be many, and multiplied every day. He is not far from us; we may make a speedy address unto him at any time. So the apostle informs us, Rom. x. 6–8, “Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above;) or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.)” For “the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart.” The things that Christ did were done at a distance from us, and they are long since past. But, saith the apostle, “The word” of the Gospel wherein these things are revealed, and whereby an application is made of them unto our souls, is nigh unto us, even in our hearts; that is, if we are true 318believers, and have mixed the word with faith, — and so it exhibiteth Christ and all the benefits of his mediation unto us. If, therefore, this word is in our hearts, Christ is nigh unto us. If we turn at any time into ourselves to converse with the word that abideth in us, there we shall find him ready to receive us into communion with himself; that is, in the light of the knowledge of Christ which we have by the word, we may have sudden, occasional thoughts of him continually: and where our minds and affections are so filled with other things that we are not ready for converse with him who is thus nigh unto us by the word, we are spiritually indisposed.
So, to manifest how nigh he is unto us, it is said that “he stands at the door, and knocks,” Rev. iii. 20, in the continual tender that he makes of himself and his grace unto our souls. For he is always accompanied with the glorious train of his graces; and if they are not received, he himself is not so. It is to no purpose to boast of Christ, if we have not an evidence of his graces in our hearts and lives. But unto whom he is the hope of future glory, unto them he is the life of present grace.
Sometimes it may be that He is withdrawn from us, so as that we cannot hear his voice, nor behold his countenance, nor obtain any sense of his love, though we seek him with diligence. In this state, all our thoughts and meditations concerning him will be barren and fruitless, bringing in no spiritual refreshment into our souls. And if we learn to be content with such lifeless, unaffecting thoughts of him as bring in no experience of his love, nor give us a real view of the glory of his person, we shall wither away as unto all the power of religion.
What is our duty in this case is so fully expressed by the spouse in the Canticles, as represents it plainly unto the minds of believers, who have any experience of these things, chap. iii. 1–4, “By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go.” The like account she gives of herself, and of her behaviour on the like occasion, chap. v. 2–8.
This is the substance of what by this example we are instructed unto. The Lord Christ is pleased sometimes to withdraw himself from the spiritual experience of believers; as to any refreshing sense of his love, or the fresh communications of consolatory graces. Those who never had experience of any such thing, who never had any refreshing 319communion with him, cannot be sensible of his absence; — they never were so of his presence. But those whom he has visited, — to whom he has given of his loves, — with whom he has made his abode, — whom he has refreshed, relieved, and comforted, — in whom he has lived in the power of his grace, — they know what it is to be forsaken by him, though but for a moment. And their trouble is increased, when they seek him with diligence in the wonted ways of obtaining his presence, and cannot find him. Our duty, in this case, is to persevere in our inquiries after him, in prayer, meditation, mourning, reading and hearing of the Word, in all ordinances of divine worship, private and public, in diligent obedience, — until we find him, or he return unto us, as in former days.
It were well if all churches and professors now would manifest the same diligence herein as did the church of old in this example. Many of them, if they are not hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, cannot but be sensible that the Lord Christ is variously withdrawn from them, if ever they had experience of the power of his presence. Yet are the generality of them far from the frame of heart here described in the spouse; for they are slothful, careless, negligent, and stir not up themselves to inquire after him, or his return unto their souls. So was it with Laodicea of old, so was it with Sardis, and so it is to be feared that it is with many at present. But to return.
Generally, Christ is nigh unto believers, and of a ready access; and the principal actings of the life of faith consist in the frequency of our thoughts concerning him; for hereby Christ liveth in us, as he is said to do, Gal. ii. 20. This we cannot do, unless we have frequent thoughts of him and converse with him. It is often said among men, that one lives in another; this cannot be but where the affections of one are so engaged unto another, that night and day he thinks of him, and is thereby, as it were, present with him. So ought it to be between Christ and believers. He dwells in them by faith; but the actings of this life in them (as wherever life is, it will be in act and exercise) are proportionable unto their thoughts of him, and delight in him.
If, therefore, we would behold the glory of Christ, the present direction is, that on all occasions, and frequently when there are no occasions for it by the performance of other duties, we would abound in thoughts of him and his glory. I intend not at present fixed and stated meditations, which were spoken unto before; but such thoughts as are more transient, according as our opportunities are. And a great rebuke it ought to be unto us, when Christ has at any time in a day been long out of our minds. The spouse affirms that, ere she was aware, her soul made her as the chariots of Ammi-nadib, Cant. vi. 12. It so fell out, that when she had no thoughts, no design 320or purpose, for attendance on communion with Christ, that she was surprised into a readiness and willingness unto it. So it will be with them that love him in sincerity. Their own souls, without previous designs or outward occasions, will frequently engage them in holy thoughts of him; which is the most eminent character of a truly spiritual Christian.
5. The next direction is, that all our thoughts concerning Christ and his glory should be accompanied with admiration, adoration, and thanksgiving. For this is such an object of our thoughts and affections as, in this life, we can never fully comprehend, — an ocean whose depths we cannot look into. If we are spiritually renewed, all the faculties of our souls are enabled by grace to exert their respective powers towards this glorious object. This must be done in various duties, by the exercise of various graces, as they are to be acted by the distinct powers of the faculties of our minds. This is that which is intended where we are commanded “to love the Lord with all our souls, with all our minds, with all our strength.” All the distinct powers of our souls are to be acted by distinct graces and duties in cleaving unto God by love. In heaven, when we are come to our centre, that state of rest and blessedness which our nature is ultimately capable of, nothing but one infinite, invariable object of our minds and affections, received by vision, can render that state uninterrupted and unchangeable. But whilst we are here we know or see but in part, and we must also act our faith and love on part of that glory, which is not at once entirely proposed unto us, and which as yet we cannot comprehend. Wherefore we must act various graces in great variety about it; — some at one time, some at another, according unto the powers of all our renewed faculties. Of this sort are those mentioned of adoration, admiration, and thanksgiving; which are those acts of our minds wherein all others do issue when the object is incomprehensible. For unto them we are enabled by grace.
One end of his illustrious coming unto the judgment of the last day is, that he may be “admired in all them that believe,” 2 Thess. i. 10. Even believers themselves shall be filled with an overwhelming admiration upon his glorious appearance. Or if the meaning be, not that he shall be admired by them, but admired in them, because of the mighty works of his grace and power in their redemption, sanctification, resurrection, and glory, it is to the same purpose, — he “comes to be admired.” And, according to the prospect which we have of that glory ought our admiration to be.
And this admiration will issue in adoration and thanksgiving; whereof we have an eminent instance and example in the whole church of the redeemed, Rev. v. 9–14, “They sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: 321for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and of the living creatures, and of the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.”
The design of this Discourse is no more, but that when by faith we have attained a view of the glory of Christ, in our contemplations on his person, we should not pass it over as a notion of truth which we assent unto, — namely, that he is thus glorious in himself, — but endeavour to affect our hearts with it, as that wherein our own principal interest does lie; wherein it will be effectual unto the transformation of our souls into his image.
But some, it may be, will say, at least I fear some may truly say, that these things do not belong unto them; they do not find that ever they had any benefit by them: they hope to be saved as well as others by the mediation of Christ; but as to this beholding of his glory by constant meditation and acting of faith therein, they know nothing of it, nor are concerned in it. The doctrine which they are taught out of the Scripture concerning the person of Christ, they give their assent unto; but his glory they hope they shall see in another world; — here they never yet inquired after it.
So it will be. It is well if these things be not only neglected, because the minds of men are carnal, and cannot discern spiritual things, but also despised, because they have an enmity unto them. It is not for all to walk in these retired paths; — not for them who are negligent and slothful whose minds are earthly and carnal. Nor can they herein sit at the feet of Christ with Mary when she chose the better part, who, like Martha, are cumbered about many things here in this world. Those whose principal design is to add unto their present enjoyments (in the midst of the prosecution whereof they are commonly taken from them, so as that their thoughts do perish, because not accomplished) will never understand these things. Much less will they do so, whose work it is to make provision for the flesh, to fulfil it in the lusts thereof.
They must make it their design to be heavenly-minded who will find a relish in these things. Those who are strangers unto holy 322meditation in general will be strangers unto this mystery in a peculiar manner.
Some men can think of the world, of their relations, and the manifold occasions of life; but as unto the things that are above, and within the veil, they are not concerned in them.
With some it is otherwise. They profess their desire to behold the glory of Christ by faith; but they find it, as they complain, too high and difficult for them. They are at a loss in their minds, and even overwhelmed, when they begin to view his glory. They are like the disciples who saw him in his transfiguration; — they were filled with amazement, and knew not what to say, or said they knew not what. And I do acknowledge, that the weakness of our minds in the comprehension of this eternal glory of Christ, and their instability in meditations thereon, whence we cannot steadfastly look on it or behold it, gives us an afflicting, abasing consideration of our present state and condition. And I shall say no more unto this case but this alone: When faith can no longer hold open the eyes of our understandings unto the beholding the Sun of Righteousness shining in his beauty, nor exercise orderly thoughts about this incomprehensible object, it will betake itself unto that holy admiration which we have spoken unto; and therein it will put itself forth in pure acts of love and complacency.
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