Christ The Way, The Truth, and The Life
John Brown (of Wamphray)
Part 6 out of 7
off Christ, and cause them forget the way of sucking life from him, who
is the fountain of life.
8. When they give way to small sins, they open a door to greater; and
they lose thereby their tenderness, and so provoke the Lord to withdraw;
and this is another way, whereby they prejudge themselves of that
benefit of liveliness, which they might otherwise have.
9. So also by worldly-mindedness, which alienateth their mind from God;
10. By their impatience, and fretting, and repining against God, and his
wise dispensations, they also prejudge and wrong themselves; for while
they are in that mood, they cannot with due composedness of Spirit, go
to Christ, and draw life from him through faith.
_Obj._ 3. But is there not even some of those who are most tender, that
complain of their deadness and shortcomings?
_Ans._ 1. It may be that they complain without cause; and that they have
more cause of rejoicing, and of blessing the Lord for what he hath done
to them, than of complaining.
2. Their complaining will not prove the want of life, but rather the
contrary. For when they complain most, they must be most sensible if
their complaints be real, and not merely for a fashion; and sense is a
manifest evidence of life.
3. It would be remembered, that the Lord can make their failings and
shortcomings contribute to the furthering of their life, as we see it
did in Peter.
4. It would also be remembered, that Christ doth not distribute and give
out of this life to all his members and followers, in a like measure;
but to some more, and to others less, according as he seeth it meet and
convenient, both for his own glory and their good, He hath more service
for some than for others; and some he will employ in greater and more
difficult work, which will call for more life; and others he will employ
in common work, which will not call for such an eminent degree of life.
5. And upon the same account, he may think it good to give to the same
person a larger measure of grace at one time than at another.
6. And that for wise reasons and noble ends; as,
(1.) That all may see how absolute he is in his dispensations; a
sovereign that doth with his own what he will, and will not give an
account of any of his ways or communications to us.
(2.) That we may learn submission, and quietly to stoop before him,
whatever measure he be pleased to dispense towards us.
(3.) That we may learn to depend upon him more closely all along; in all
our ways to acknowledge him.
(4.) That we may learn to exercise patience, which must have its perfect
work, in waiting upon him as a great king. This is his glory, and it is
the testifying of our homage to him.
(5.) He will train us up so as to be well contented and satisfied, if he
bring us home at length, though not with such a convoy of the graces of
his Spirit as we would wish.
(6.) That we may see and read our daily obligation to Christ our life,
and the daily need we have of his keeping our life in, by fresh gales of
his Spirit, and new heavenly influences.
(7.) And that getting new proofs of his kindness and faithfulness, we
may give him new songs of praise daily, and so express our thankfulness
to him, which will tend to set forth his glory.
VIII. This may point out unto believers, several duties to which they
are called. We shall name some few of many; as,
1. That they should rejoice, and be comforted in the thoughts of this,
that they have such a complete Mediator, one that is thoroughly
furnished, and made all things for them; not only the Way, and the
Truth, but the Life also.
2. The thoughts of this should also stir up the wondering at the wisdom,
graciousness, and goodness of God; and to thankfulness for providing
such an all-sufficient way for them.
3. This should also encourage them under all temptations, faintings,
backsets, and fits of deadness that they fall into, that there is one
who is the Life; and that he whom their soul hath chosen is the Life,
and so fully able to quicken and enliven them.
4. This should teach them humility, and not to be proud of any thing
they have or do; for it is he, who is the Life, who keepeth them in
life, and helpeth them to any duty; yea, it is life that worketh all in
5. And likewise it should teach them to acknowledge him, to whom they
are obliged for any thing they do, for any life they have, or any acts
or fruits of life that appear in them; and to be thankful to him
6. And mainly, they should here read their obligation and duty, to
improve this advantage, and to draw life out of this fountain, and so
live by this life; act and do all in and through this life; and so be
quickened by this life, in all their fits of deadness; and for this
cause would keep those things in mind:
(1.) That they should live in a constant conviction of their own
weakness, deadness, and inability to do any acts of life of themselves;
and far less to recover themselves out of any distemper and fit of
deadness which they fall into.
(2.) That they should live in the faith of this, that there is life
enough in him, who is the Life, to do their business. They should be
persuaded of his all-sufficiency.
(3.) That he is not only an all-sufficient deliverer, able to deliver a
soul that is, as it were, rotting in the grave, and to cause the dead to
hear his voice and live; but also most willing and ready to answer them
in all their necessities, according to wisdom, and as he seeth it for
his glory, and their soul's advantage. The faith of this is necessary,
and will be very encouraging.
(4.) That they should go to him, how dead-like soever their condition
be, and by faith roll their dead case upon him, who is the Life.
(5.) That they should pray upon the promises of grace and influence,
even out of the belly of hell, or of the grave, with Jonah, chap. ii. 2;
for he is faithful and true, and tender-hearted, and will hear and give
a good answer at length.
(6.) That in the exercise of faith and prayer, they should wait with
patience, till he be pleased to come, and breathe upon the dry bones,
and till the Sun of Righteousness arise on their souls with healing in
But of this more particularly in the following cases, which now we come
to speak a little unto, of purpose to clear more fully how the believer
is to make use of Christ as the Life, when he is under some one
distemper or other, that calleth for life and quickening from Christ the
Life. We cannot handle distinctly all the particular cases which maybe
brought under this head; it will suffice, for clearing of this great
duty, to speak to some few.
HOW TO MAKE USE OF CHRIST AS THE LIFE, WHEN THE BELIEVER IS SO SITTEN-UP
IN THE WAYS OF GOD, THAT HE CAN DO NOTHING.
Sometimes the believer is under such a distemper of weakness and
deadness, that there is almost no commanded duty that he can go about;
his heart and all is so dead, that he cannot so much as groan under that
deadness. Yea, he may be under such a decay, that little or no
difference will be observed betwixt him and others that are yet in
nature; and be not only unable to go actively and lively about commanded
duties, yea, or to wrestle from under that deadness; but also be so
dead, that he shall scarce have any effectual desire or longing to be
out of that condition. Now, in speaking to the use-making of Christ for
quickening in this dead case, we shall do those things:
1. For clearing of the case, we shall show how probably it is brought
on. 2. How Christ is life to the soul in such a case as this. 3. How the
believer is to make use of Christ for the life, in this case; and, 4.
Further clear the matter, by answering a question or two.
As to the _first_, such a distemper as this may be brought upon the
1. Through some strong and violent temptation from without, meeting with
some evil disposition of the heart within, and so surprising and
overpowering the poor soul, as we see in David and Peter.
2. Through the cunning and sleight of Satan, stealing the believer, that
is not watchful enough, insensibly off his feet, and singing him asleep
3. Through carelessness, in not adverting at first to the beginnings and
first degrees of this deadness and upsitting, when the heart beginneth
to grow formal and superficial in duties, and to be satisfied with a
perfunctorious performance, without life and sense.
4. Through torturing of conscience, in light and smaller matters; for
this may provoke God to let conscience fall asleep, and so the soul
become more untender, and scruple little, at length, at great matters;
and thus deadness may come to a height, God ordering it so, for a
further punishment to them, for their untenderness and uncircumspectness.
5. Through their not stirring up themselves, and shaking off that spirit
of laziness and drowsiness, when it first seizeth upon them; but, with
the sluggard, yet another slumber, and another sleep, and a folding of
the hands to sleep.
6. Continuing in some known sin, and not repenting of it, may bring on
this distemper, as may be observed in David.
As to the _second_ particular, Christ is life to the soul in this case;
1. He keepeth possession of the soul; for the seed remaineth, the root
abideth fast in the ground; there is life still at the heart, though the
man make no motion, like one in a deep sleep, or in a swoon, yet life is
2. He in due time awakeneth, and rouseth up the soul, and so recovereth
it out of that condition, by some means or other, either by some alarm
of judgment and terror, as he did David; or dispensation of mercy and
tenderness, as he did Peter; and usually he recovereth the soul,
(1.) By discovering something of this condition, by giving so much sense
and knowledge, and sending so much light, as will let the soul see that
it is not well, and that it is under that distemper of lifelessness.
(2.) By the discovering the dreadfulness of such a condition, and how
hazardous it is to continue therein.
(3.) By putting the soul in mind, that he is the life and the
resurrection; and through the stirring up of grace, causing the soul to
look to him for quickening and outgate.
(4.) By raising up the soul at length out of that drowsiness, and
sluggish folding of the hands to sleep, and out of that deep security,
and putting it into a more lively, vigilant, and active frame.
As to the _third_, the believer that would make use of Christ, for a
recovery out of this condition, would mind those duties:
1. He would look to Christ, as the light of men, and the enlightener of
the blind; to the end, he may get a better and a more thorough discovery
of his condition; for it is half health here to be sensible of this
disease. The soul that is once brought to sense, is half recovered of
this fever and lethargy.
2. He would eye Christ as God, able to cause the dead and dry bones to
live, as Ezek. chap. xxvii.; and this will keep from despondency and
despair; yea, it will make the poor believer conceive hope, when he
seeth that his physician is God, to whom nothing is impossible.
3. He would look to him also, as head and husband, and life to the poor
soul that adhereth to him; and this will strengthen his hope and
expectation; for he will see that Christ is engaged (to speak so) in
point of honour, to quicken a poor dead and lifeless member; for the
life in the head is for the good of the whole body, and of every member
of the body, that is not quite cut off. And the good that is in the
husband is forthcoming for the relief of the poor wife, that hath not
yet got a bill of divorce. And Christ being life and the Life, he must
be appointed for the relief, the quickening and recovering from death of
such as are given to him, that they may be finally raised up at the last
day; he must present all his members lively in that day.
4. He would by faith wrap himself up in the promises, and lie before
this Sun of Righteousness, till the heat of his beams thaw his frozen
heart, and bring warmth into his cold and dead soul, and thus renew his
grips of him, accepting of him as the Life, and as his life. Christ
himself tells us, John xi. 40, that this is the Father's will, that hath
sent him, that every one that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, might
have everlasting life, and he will raise him up at the last day. Faith
closing with him, as it was the mean of life at first, so it will be the
mean of recovery out of a dead distemper afterwards.
5. He would mourn for such sins and provocations, as he discovereth in
himself to have caused and brought on this distemper. Repentance and
godly sorrow for such evils, as have sinned Christ and life away, is a
way to bring life back again.
6. He would be sure to harbour no known sin in his soul, but to set
himself against every known evil, as an enemy to the life and recovery
which he is seeking.
7. He must wait on Christ his life, in the appointed means; for that is
the will of the Lord, that he should be waited upon there, and sought
for there. There is little hopes of recovery for such as lay aside the
ordinances. Though the ordinances without him cannot revive or quicken a
poor soul, yet he hath condescended so far as to come with life to his
people in and through the ordinances, and hath appointed us to wait for
him there; we must be willing to accept of all his condescensions of
love, and seek and wait for him there, where he hath said he will be
8. In going about those ordinances of life, he would beware of putting
them in Christ's room, _i.e._ he would beware of thinking that
ordinances will do his business; as some ignorantly do, who think that
by praying so often a-day, and reading so much, and hearing so much,
they shall recover their lost lively frame, when, alas! all the
ordinances, without him, signify nothing. They, without him, are cold
and lifeless, and can never bring heat and warmth to a cold soul. It is
he in the ordinances whom we are to seek, and from whom alone life is to
be expected, and none else.
9. Though life lieth not in the ordinances as separated from Christ, and
life is to be expected from him alone, yet he would beware of going
about the ordinances in a careless, superficial, and indifferent manner:
for this will argue little desire after life, and will bring on more
deadness. The ordinances then should be gone about seriously,
diligently, and with great carefulness, yea, with such earnestness as if
life were not about the ordinances at all. This is the right way of
going about the ordinances.
10. He must in all this wait with patience, without fretting or
quarrelling with him for his delaying to come. He must wait with much
humility. It becometh not him who hath, through his folly, sinned life
away, to quarrel now with God, because he restoreth him not again to
life at the first asking. He may be glad if at length, after long
seeking, waiting, and much diligence, he come and restore to him the joy
of salvation, and if he be not made to lie as bedrid all his days, for a
monument of folly in sinning away his life, strength, and legs as he
11. He must beware of giving way to any thing that may increase or
continue this deadness; such as untenderness in his walk,
unwatchfulness, negligence, and carelessness; and especially he must
beware not to provoke God by sinning against light.
12. He would also beware of limiting the Lord to any set measure of life
and strength: for it becometh not beggars to be carvers, far less such
beggars as through folly have sinned away a good portion. It was not for
the prodigal to seek a new patrimony, after he had dilapidated the
former; it might suffice him to be made as a servant.
13. He would use well any small measure of life he getteth, for God and
his glory; getteth he but one talent, he should use it that he may gain
thereby: we say, use limbs and have limbs, use strength and have it.
This will be the way to get more.
14. He would be taking on the vows of the Lord, and that in the Lord, to
walk more watchful in time coming, charging all within and without not
to stir or provoke the Lord to depart further or to scare him from
coming to the soul.
As to the _last_ particular,
If it be inquired, 1. What can that soul do that is not sensible of this
deadness and weakness?
_Ans_. Though there be not any real sense and feeling of this condition,
yet there may be a suspicion that all is not right; and if this be, the
soul must look out to Christ for the life of sense and for a sight of
the provocations that have brought on that condition. He that is the
Life must recover the very beginnings of life; and when the soul winneth
to any real apprehension and sense of this deadness, it must follow the
course formerly prescribed for a recovery.
2. But it will be asked, how can a soul act faith in such a case? And if
it cannot act faith, how can it come to Christ and make use of him?
_Ans_. It is true, while the soul is in that case, it cannot act a
strong and lively faith; yet it can act a weak and a sickly faith; and a
weak faith and a sickly faith can lay hold on an enlivening Christ, and
so bring in more strength and life to the soul. If the soul be so weak
as that it cannot grip, yet it can look to him that can quicken the
dead and hath helped many a poor soul before out of a dead condition: or
if it cannot do so much as look, yet it may give an half-look, and lie
before him who waiteth to be gracious; and sustain itself if it can get
no more, with a maybe he shall come.
3. But further, it may be asked, what can the soul do, when, after all
this, it findeth no help or supply, but deadness remaining, yea, and it
may be, growing?
_Ans_. The soul in that case must lie at his door, waiting for his
salvation, and resolving, if no better may be, to die at his door, and
leave no approved means or commanded duty unessayed, that it may recover
its former vigour, activity and strength. And while the believer is
waiting thus, he is at his duty; and this may yield him peace, and he
may be sure that he shall never be ashamed, Psalm xxv. 3; lxix. 6. Isa.
HOW CHRIST IS TO BE MADE USE OF AS OUR LIFE, IN CASE OF HEARTLESSNESS
AND FAINTING THROUGH DISCOURAGEMENTS.
There is another evil and distemper which believers are subject to, and
that is a case of fainting through manifold discouragements, which make
them so heartless that they can do nothing; yea, and to sit up, as if
they were dead. The question then is, how such a soul shall make use of
Christ as in the end it may be freed from that fit of fainting, and win
over those discouragements: for satisfaction to which we shall,
1. Name some of those discouragements which occasion this.
2. Show what Christ hath done to remove all those discouragements.
3. Show how the soul should make use of Christ for life in this case;
4. Add a few words of caution.
As to the _first_, there are several things which may give occasion to
this distemper; we shall name those few:
1. The sense of a strong, active, lively, and continually stirring body
of death, and that notwithstanding of means used to bear it down and
kill it. This is very discouraging; for it made Paul cry out, "Woe is
me, miserable man, who shall deliver me from this body of death?" Rom.
vii. 24. It is a most discouraging thing to be still fighting, and yet
getting no ease, let be victory; to have to do with an enemy that abides
always alike strong, fight and oppose as we will, yea, not only is not
weakened, far less overcome, but that groweth in power, and prevaileth.
And this many times affecteth the hearts of God's children and causeth
them to faint.
2. It may be the case of some, that they are assaulted with strange
temptations and buffettings of Satan that are not usual. This made Paul
cry out thrice, 2 Cor. xii.; and if the Lord had not told him that his
grace was sufficient for him, what would he have done? Hence some of his
cry out in their complaint, was there ever any so tempted, so assaulted
with the devil, as I am? Sure this dispensation cannot but be much
afflicting, saddening and discouraging.
3. The sense of the real weakness of grace under lively means, and
notwithstanding of their serious and earnest desires and endeavours
after growth in grace, cannot but disquiet and discourage them: for they
may readily conclude, that all their pains and labour shall be in vain
for any thing they can observe.
4. The want of sensible incomes of joy and comfort is another fainting
and discouraging dispensation; as the feeling of these is a
heart-strengthening and most encouraging thing, which made David so
earnestly cry for it, Psal. li. 8, 12; when a poor soul that hath the
testimony of his own conscience, that it hath been in some measure of
singleness of heart and honestly seeking the face of God for a good many
years, and yet cannot say that ever it knew what those incomes of joy
and comfort meant which some have tasted largely of, it cannot choose
but be discouraged and much cast down, as not knowing what to say of
itself, or how to judge of its own case.
5. The want of access in their addresses to God, is another
heart-discouraging thing. They go about the duty of prayer with that
measure of earnestness and uprightness of heart that they can win at, at
least this is their aim and endeavour, and yet they meet with a fast
closed door, when they cry and shout; he shutteth out their prayer, as
the church complaineth, Lam. iii. 8. This sure will affect them deeply,
and cause their hearts sometimes to faint.
6. The want of freedom and liberty in their addresses to God is another
thing which causeth sorrow and fainting. They go to pray, but their
tongue cleaveth to the roof of their mouth: they are straitened and
cannot get their hearts vented.
7. Outward persecution that attendeth the way of godliness, and
afflictions that accompany such as live godly, is another discouraging
thing, both to themselves who are under afflictions, and to others who
hear it and see it; wherefore the apostle desireth earnestly that the
Ephesians should not faint at his tribulation, chap. iii. 13.
8. The Lord's sharp and sore dispensations for sin, as towards David,
Psal. li., or out of his sovereignty, for trial and other ends, as
towards Job, is likewise a discouraging, heart-breaking thing, and that
which will make strong giants to roar and faint, and look upon
themselves as dead men, as we see in these two eminent men of God.
As to the _second_ thing, Christ is life to the believer in this case,
in having done that which in reason may support under all these
discouragements, and having done so much for removing or weakening of
these; yea, and for carrying them over all, which may be in a word
cleared as to each.
1. As for the body of death, let it stir in the believer as fast as it
will or can, it is already killed, and all that struggling is but like
the struggling of a man in the pangs of death; for our "old man is
crucified with Christ," Rom. vi. 6; and the believer is dead to sin and
risen legally with him, Col. ii. 11, 12; iii. 3. But of this I spoke
2. As to Satan's troubling the poor believer, through Christ also he is
a vanquished enemy: "He hath overcome him that had the power of death,
even the devil," Heb. ii. 14.
3. As for that felt weakness of grace, that is no ground of
discouragement, so long as he liveth who can make the lame to leap as an
hart, and can make waters break out in the wilderness, and streams in
the desert, Isa xxxv. 6, 7; "and giveth power to the faint, and to them
that have no might increaseth strength; so that such as wait upon the
Lord shall renew their strength, and they shall mount up with wings as
eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not
faint," Isa. xl. 29, 31. For "in him are all the promises yea and amen,"
2 Cor. i. 20. So that they need not faint upon this account, nor be
discouraged: for the work he hath begun he will finish it, and he will
quicken in the way, Psal. cxix. 37.
4. As for the want of sensible incomes of joy and comfort, he hath
promised to send the Comforter, in his own good time, John xiv. 26; xv.
26. "As one whom his Father comforteth, so will he comfort his," Isa.
lxvi. 13. Joy and gladness is promised in the covenant, Jer. xxxi. 13.
But further, though he keep up these influences of joy and comfort, he
supporteth another way. The lively hope of heaven may bear up the heart
under all this want: for there shall the soul have fulness of joy and
pleasures for evermore: no tears, no sorrow there, Psal. xvi. 11. Isa.
5. As for the want of access in their prayers, they may possibly blame
themselves, for he has by his merits opened the door; and is become (to
speak so) master-usher to the poor soul, to lead him unto the Father, so
that "by him we have access," Eph. ii. 18, "yea, boldness and access
through faith in him," Eph. iii. 12; "and he is our advocate," 1 John
ii. 1; and, as our attorney, is gone to heaven before us; "and there
liveth for ever to make intercession," Heb. vi. 28; vii. 25. And what is
there more to be done to procure us access; or to move and encourage us
to "come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and
find grace to help in time of need?" Heb. iv. 14, 16.
6. As to that want of freedom and liberty in prayer; he helpeth that
also: For he maketh the dumb to sing, Isa. xxxv. 6, and maketh the
tongue of the stammerer to speak elegantly, Isa. xxxii. 4. He can
enlarge the heart, and help the soul to pour out his heart before God.
7. As to outward persecution, he can easily take that discouragement
away, by giving the hundred-fold with it; by supporting under it, and
bringing safe through it. When his presence is with them through fire
and water, Isa. xliii. 2, what can trouble them? And when he maketh
their consolations abound, 2 Cor. i. 5, what can discourage them? Have
not his sung in the very fires; and rejoiced in all their afflictions?
The resting of the Spirit of God and of glory, which Peter speaketh of,
1 Pet. iv. 14, is comfortable enough.
8. As for all those sharp dispensations mentioned in the last place, he
having taken the sting of all, even of death away, by taking away sin,
and purchased the blessing and love of the Father, having made
reconciliation through his blood, all those dispensations flow from
love, even such as seem sharpest, being inflicted for sin, as we see,
Heb. xii. 6; so that there is no cause here of fainting or of being so
discouraged as to give over the matter. But for help in this case, there
should be a use-making of Jesus, as the Life; and that is
The _third_ thing which we shall speak a little to, viz. How the soul
should make use of Christ as the Life, to the end it may be delivered
from this fainting occasioned through manifold discouragements.
1. The believer in this case would mind the covenant of redemption,
wherein Christ hath promised and so standeth obliged and engaged to
carry on his own through all discouragements to the end; so that if any
one believer miscarry, Christ loseth more than they lose: for the
believer can but lose his soul, but Christ shall lose his glory; and
this is more worth than all the souls that ever were created. And,
further, not only shall Christ lose his glory as Redeemer, but the
Father shall lose his glory in not making good his promise to Christ his
Son. For by the same covenant he standeth engaged to carry through the
seed that Christ had died for. And his appointing Christ to be his
servant for this end, and choosing him from among all the folk, and his
upholding of him, concurring with him, delighting in him, and promising
that he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles, and that to victory,
or to truth, speak out his engagement to see all true believers brought
home. See Isa. xlii. 1-4. Matt. xii. 17-21. Psalm lxxxix. 19-21, 28, 29,
35-37. Sure the faith of this would support the poor believer under all
2. They would mind likewise the covenant of grace, wherein all things
are contrived and laid down, so far as that the believer may have
abundant consolation and comfort in all cases; and wherein there is
enough to take away all cause of fainting and discouragement; as might
fully be made to appear, if any did question it.
3. They would remember how richly Christ is furnished with all
qualifications; suiting even that case wherein they are like to be
overwhelmed with discouragements; and could the believer but think upon
and believe those three things, he might be kept up under all
discouragements: (1.) That Christ is a compassionate, tender-hearted
Mediator, having bowels more tender than the bowels of any mother; so
that "he will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax,"
Isa. xl. 2. He had compassion on the very bodies of the multitude that
followed him; and would not let them go away fasting, lest they should
faint in the way, Matt. xv. 32. Mark viii. 3; and will he not have
compassion on the souls of his followers, when like to faint through
spiritual discouragements? (2.) That he hath power and authority to
command all things that can serve to carry on a poor believer; for all
power in heaven and in earth is given unto him; all things are made
subject to him. (3.) That he hath a great readiness and willingness upon
many accounts to help his followers in their necessities. Sure, were
these three firmly believed, the believer could not faint, having
Christ, who is tender and loving, and willing to help, and withal able
to do what he will, to look to and to run to for supply.
4. They would take up Christ under all his heart-strengthening and
soul-comforting relations, as a tender brother, a careful shepherd, a
fellow-feeling high priest, a loving husband, a sympathizing head, a
life-communicating root, an all-sufficient king, &c., any of which is
enough to bear up the head, and comfort the heart of a drooping,
discouraged, and fainting soul. Much more may all of them yield strong
consolation to support and revive a soul staggering and fainting through
discouragement. Oh! if ye would but rightly improve and dwell upon the
thoughts of the comforting and heart-quickening relations! our hearts
would not fail us so much as they do.
5. They would eye him as now in glory, who as head and captain of
salvation hath wrestled through and overcome all difficulties and
discouragements that were in his way, and in name and behalf of all
believers that are his followers and members of his body, is now
possessed of glory, and thence draw an heart-comforting, and
soul-strengthening conclusion, thus, Is he entered into glory as head?
then such a poor, faint-hearted, discouraged worm as I am, may at length
come there as a little bit of his body, especially since he said, that
seeing he liveth, all his shall live also, John xiv. 19.
6. They would remember how Christ, who was always heard of his Father,
John xi. 41, did supplicate for this, as Mediator and Intercessor for
his people, John xvii. 24, saying, "Father, I will that they also whom
thou hast given me, be with me where I am," &c. May not the poor
faint-hearted believer that is looking to Jesus, draw an heart-reviving,
and soul-encouraging conclusion out of this, and say, though my prayers
be shut out, and when I cry for relief under my discouragements, I get
no hearing; but, on the contrary, my discouragements grow, and my heart
fainteth the more; yet Christ always was heard, and the Father will not
say him nay; why then may not I lift up my head in hope, and sing in the
hope of the glory of God, in the midst of all my discouragements?
7. By faith they would cast all their discouragements, entanglements,
and difficulties, as burdens too heavy for their back, on Christ, and
leave them there with him who only can remove them; and withal, resolve
never to give over, but to go forward in his strength, and thus become
daily stronger and stronger in resolutions, purposes, desires, and
endeavours, when they can do no more.
8. They would look to Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, and set
him before them as a copy of courage, "who for the joy that was set
before him, endured the cross, despising the shame," and endureth
contradiction of sinners against himself, Heb. xii. 2, 3. And this may
prove a mean to keep us from wearying and fainting in our minds, as the
apostle hinteth there.
9. They would remember, that Christ going before, as the Captain of
their salvation, hath broken the ice to them, and the force and strength
of all those discouragements, as we did lately show; so that now they
should be looked upon as broken and powerless discouragements.
10. They would fix their eye by faith on Jesus, as only able to do their
business, to bear up their head, to carry them through discouragements,
to apply cordials to their fainting hearts, and remain fixed in that
posture and resolution, looking for strengthening and encouraging life
from him, and from him alone; and thus declare, that, (1.) They are
unable of themselves to stand out such storms of discouragements, and to
wrestle through such difficulties. (2.) They believe he is only able to
bear them up, and carry them through, and make them despise all those
discouragements which the devil and their own evil hearts muster up
against them. (3.) That come what will come, they will not quit the
bargain--they will never recall or take back their subscription and
consent to the covenant of grace, and to Christ, as theirs, offered
therein, though they should die and die again by the way. (4.) That they
would fain be kept on in the way, and helped forward without failing and
fainting by the way. (5.) That they cannot run through hard walls--they
cannot do impossibilities--they cannot break through such mighty
discouragements. (6.) That yet through him they can do all things. (7.)
That he must help, or they are gone, and shall never win through all
these difficulties and discouragements, but shall one day or other die
by the hand of Saul. (8.) That they will wait, earnestly seeking help
from him, crying for it, and looking for it, and resolve never to give
over, and if they be disappointed they are disappointed.
Now for the _last_ particular, the word of caution, take these,
1. They would not think to be altogether free of fainting, for there is
no perfection here, and there is much flesh and corruption remaining,
and that will occasion fainting.
2. Nor would they think to be free of all the causes and occasions of
this fainting, viz. the discouragements formerly mentioned, or the like;
for, if the devil can do any thing, he will work discouragements, both
within and without. So that they would lay their resolution to meet with
discouragements; for few or none ever went to heaven but they had many a
storm in their face; and they must not think to have a way paved for
3. They would not pore too much, or dwell too long and too much upon the
thoughts of those discouragements; for that is Satan's advantage, and
tendeth to weaken themselves. But it were better to be looking beyond
them, as Christ did, Heb. xii. 2, when he had the cross and the shame to
wrestle with, he looked to the joy that was set before him; and that
made him endure the cross and despise the shame; and as Moses did, Heb.
xi. 25-27, when he had afflictions and the wrath of the king to wrestle
against; he had respect unto the recompense of the reward, and so he
endured as seeing him who is invisible.
4. They would remember that as Christ hath tender bowels, and is full of
compassion, and is both ready and able to help them; so is he wise, and
knoweth how to let out his mercies best. He is not like a foolish,
affectionate mother, that would hazard the life of the child, before she
put the child to any pain. He seeth what is best for his own glory, and
for their good here and hereafter; and that he will do with much
tenderness and readiness.
5. They would look upon it as no mean mercy, if, notwithstanding of all
the discouragements and storms that blow in their face, they are helped
to keep their face up the hill, and are fixed in their resolution, never
willingly to turn their back upon the way of God, but to continue
creeping forward as they may, whatever storms they meet with; yea, upon
this account ought they heartily to bless his name, and to rejoice; for
"their hearts shall live that seek him," Psalm xxii. 26.
6. They would remember, for their encouragement, that as many have been
helped through all discouragements, and have been brought home at
length, so may they be brought through all those storms which now they
wrestle with. It is the glory of the Mediator to bring his broken, torn,
and sinking vessel, safe to shore.
Now, I come to a third case, and that is,
HOW TO MAKE USE OF CHRIST AS THE LIFE WHEN THE SOUL IS DEAD AS TO DUTY.
Sometimes the believer will be under such a distemper, as that he will
be as unfit and unable for discharging of any commanded duty, as dead
men, or one in a swoon, is to work or go a journey. And it were good to
know how Christ should be made use of as the Life, to the end the
diseased soul may be delivered from this. For this cause we shall
consider those four things:
1. See what are the several steps and degrees of this distemper.
2. Consider whence it cometh, or what are the causes or occasions
3. Consider how Christ is life to the soul in such a dead case; and,
4. Point out the way of the soul's use-making of Christ, that would be
As to the _first_, this distemper cometh on by several steps and
degrees. It will be sufficient to mention some of the main and most
remarkable steps; such as,
1. There is a falling from our watchfulness and tenderness; and when we
leave our watch tower, we invite and encourage Satan to set upon us, as
was said before.
2. There is going about duty, but in a lazy way, when we love and seek
after carnal ease, and seek out ways of doing the duty, so as maybe
least troublesome to the flesh, as the spouse did, Cant. iii. 1, when
she sought her beloved upon her bed.
3. There is a lying by, and not stirring up ourselves to an active way
of going about duty, of which the prophet complaineth, Isa. liv. 7, when
he saith, there is none that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee.
4. There is a giving way to spiritual drowsiness, and upsitting in
duties, and in the way of God. "I sleep," said the spouse, Cant. v. 2,
3, and "I have put off my coat," &c. She knew she was not right, but was
drowsy, and yet she did not shake it off, but composed herself for it,
took off her coat, and washed her feet, and so lay down to sleep.
5. There is a satisfaction and contentment with his condition, as
thinking we are pretty well, at least for that time; and thus was the
spouse in that forementioned place led away; she was so far from being
dissatisfied with her condition, that she rather expressed contentment
6. There may be such a love to such a condition, and such a satisfaction
in it, as that they may shift every thing that hath a tendency to rouse
them up out of that sluggish laziness, as not loving to be awakened out
of their sleep. So we see the bride shifts and putteth off Christ's call
and invitation to her, to arise and open to him.
7. Yea, there is a defending of that condition, as at least tolerable
and none of the worst; a justifying of it, or at least a pleading for
themselves and excusing the matter, and covering over their neglect of
duty with fair pretexts, as the spouse did when she answered Christ's
call with this, that she had washed her feet and might not defile them
8. Yea, further, there is a pleading for this case, by alleging an
impossibility to get it helped as matters now stand; or, at least, they
will muster up insuperable-like difficulties in their own way of doing
duty, as the sluggard will say, that there is a lion in the way; and
the spouse alleged she could not put on her coat again.
9. Yea, it may come yet higher, even to a peremptory refusing to set
about the duty; for what else can be read out of the bride's carriage,
than that she would not rise and open to her beloved.
10. There is also a desperate laying the duty aside, as supposing it
impossible to be got done, and so a resolute laying of it by as
hopeless, and as a business they need not trouble themselves withal,
because they will not get through it.
11. And hence floweth an utter indisposition and unfitness for duty.
12. Yea, and in some it may come to this height, that the thoughts of
going about any commanded duty, especially of worship, either in public
or private; or their minting and attempting to set about it, shall fill
them with terror and affrightment, that they shall be constrained to
forbear; yea, to lay aside all thoughts of going about any such duty.
This is a very dead-like condition,--what can be the causes or occasions
I answer, (and this is the _second_ particular,) some or all of these
things may be considered as having a hand in this:
1. No care to keep up a tender frame of heart, but growing slack, loose,
and careless, in going about Christian duties, may bring on such a
2. Slighting of challenges for omission of duties, or leaving duties
over the belly of conscience, may make way for such an evil.
3. Giving way to carnality and formality in duties, is a ready mean to
usher in this evil. For when the soul turns carnal or formal in the
discharge of duties, duties have not that spiritual lustre which they
had, and the soul becometh the sooner wearied of them, as seeing no such
desirableness in them, nor advantage by them.
4. When people drown themselves in cares of the world, they occasion
this deadness to themselves; for then duties not only are not gone about
heartily, but they are looked on as a burden, and the man becometh
weary of them; and from that he cometh to neglect them; and by
continuing in the neglect of them, he contracteth an aversion of heart
for them; and then an utter unfitness and indisposition for discharging
of them followeth.
5. Satan hath an active hand here, driving on with his crafts and wiles
from one step to another.
6. The hand also of a sovereign God is to be observed here, giving way
to this, yea, and ordering matters in his justice and wisdom so, as such
persons shall come under such an indisposition, and that for wise and
holy ends; as, (1.) That by such a dispensation he may humble them, who
possibly were puffed up before, as thinking themselves fit enough to go
about any duty, how difficult or hazardous soever, as Peter, who boasted
so of his own strength, as he thought nothing to lay down his life for
Christ, and to die with him; and yet at length came to that, that he
could not, or durst not speak the truth to a damsel. (2.) That he may
punish one spiritual sin with another. (3.) To give warning to all to
watch and pray, and to work out their salvation with fear and trembling,
and not to be high-minded, but fear. (4.) That thereby, in his just and
righteous judgment, he may lay a stumbling-block before some, to the
breaking of their neck, when they shall, for this cause, reject and mock
at all religion. (5.) That he may give proof at length of his admirable
skill in recovering from such a distemper, that no flesh might have
ground to despair, in the most dead condition they can fall into. (6.)
And to shew, sometimes, what a sovereign dispensator of life he is, and
how free he is in all his favours.
As to the _third_ particular, how Christ is life in this case,
We answer, 1. By keeping possession of the believer, even when he
seemeth to be most dead; and keeping life at the root, when there is
neither fruit appearing nor flourishes, and hardly many green leaves to
2. By blowing at the coal of grace in the soul, in his own time and
way, and putting an end to the winter, and sending the time of the
singing of the birds, a spring time of life.
3. By loosing the bands with which he was held fast formerly, enlarging
the heart with desires to go about the duty; so that now he willingly
riseth up out of his bed of security, and cheerfully shaketh off his
drowsiness and sluggishness, and former unwillingness; and now with
willingness and cheerfulness he setteth about the duty.
4. By sending influences of life and strength into the soul, whereby the
wheels of the soul are made to run with ease, being oiled with those
5. And this he doth by touching the heart, and wakening it by his
Spirit; as he raised the spouse out of her bed of security and laziness,
by putting in his hand at the hole of the door,--then were her bowels
moved for him, Cant. v. 4; and thus he setteth faith on work again,
having the key of David to open the heart, Rev. iii. 7.
6. By giving a discovery of the evil of their former ways and courses,
he worketh up the heart to godly sorrow and remorse for what is done,
making their bowels move for grief and sorrow, that they should so have
dishonoured and grieved him.
7. By setting the soul thus on work to do what formerly it neither could
nor would do; and thus he maketh the soul strong in the Lord, and in the
power of his might, Eph. vi. 10, and able to run and not be weary, and
to walk and not be faint, Isa. xl.
8. By discovering the great recompense of reward that is coming, and the
great help they have at hand, in the covenant and promises thereof, and
in Christ their head and Lord. He maketh the burden light and the duty
As to the _last_ particular, viz. how a believer, in such a case, should
make use of Christ as the Life, that he may be delivered therefrom.
When the poor believer is any way sensible of this decay, and earnestly
desiring to be from under that power of death, and in case to go about
commanded duties, he should,
1. Look to Christ for enlightened eyes, that he may get a more thorough
discovery of the hazard and wretchedness of such a condition, that
hereby being awakened and alarmed, he may more willingly use the means
of recovery, and be more willing to be at some pains to be delivered.
2. He should run to the blood of Jesus, to get the guilt of his bygone
sinful ways washed away, and blotted out; to the end he may obtain the
favour of God, and get his reconciled face shining upon him again.
3. He should eye Christ as a prince exalted to give repentance, that so
his sorrow for his former sinful courses may be kindly, spiritual,
thorough, and affecting the heart. He would cry to Christ, that he would
put in his hand by the hole of the door, that his bowels may become
moved for him.
4. He should also look to him as that good shepherd, who will strengthen
that which is sick, Ezek. xxxiv. 16. And take notice also of his other
relations, and of his obligations thereby, and by the covenant of
redemption; and this will strengthen his hope.
5. He should lay hold on Christ as his strength, whereby his feet may be
made like hinds' feet, and he may be made to walk upon his high places,
Hab. iii. 19; and he would grip to that promise, Isa. xli. 10, "I will
strengthen thee;" and lay hold on Christ in it.
6. Having done thus, he should set about every commanded duty, in the
strength of Jesus, looking to him for help and supply, from whom cometh
all his strength, and though he should not find that help and assistance
which he expected, yet he should not be discouraged, but continue, and
when he can do no more, offer himself as ready and willing to go about
the duty, as if he had strength.
7. He should lie open to, and be ready to receive the influences of
strength, which he, who is the head, shall think good to give in his own
time, manner, and measure; and this taketh in these duties:
(1.) That they should carefully guard against the evils formerly
mentioned, which brought on this distemper; such as carelessness,
untenderness, unwatchfulness, laziness, carnal security, formality, and
want of seriousness, &c.
(2.) That they should beware of giving way to dispondency, or concluding
the matter hopeless and irremediable; for that is both discouraging to
the soul, and a tempting provocation of God.
(3.) That they should be exercising the grace of patient waiting.
(4.) That they should be waiting in the use of the appointed means, and
thereby, as it were, rubbing the dead and cold member before the fire,
till it gather warmth.
(5.) That they should be keeping all their sails up, waiting for the
gale of the Spirit, that should make their ship sail.
(6.) That they should be looking to him alone, who hath promised that
quickening Spirit; and patiently waiting his leisure, not limiting him
to any definite time.
(7.) That they should be cherishing and stirring up any small beginnings
(8.) That they should be welcoming most cheerfully every motion of the
Spirit, and improving every advantage of that kind, and striking the
iron when it is hot, and hold the wheels of the soul a-going, when they
are once put in motion, and so be loath to grieve the good and holy
Spirit of God, Eph. iv. 30, or to quench his motions, 1 Thess. v. 19.
If these duties were honestly minded and gone about, in him, and in his
strength, none can tell how soon there may be a change wrought in the
But if it be asked, what such can do, to whom the very thoughts of the
duty, and aiming at it, is matter of terror;
_Ans._ It may be, something, if not much, of that may flow from a bodily
distemper, as occasioneth the alteration of the body, upon the thorough
apprehension of any thing that is weighty and of moment, so as they
cannot endure to be much affected with any thing. But leaving this to
others, I would advise such a soul to those duties:
1. To be frequently setting to the duty, as, for example, of prayer,
though that should raise the distemper of their body, for through time
that may wear away, or at least grow less; whileas, their giving way
thereto, will still make the duty the more and more terrible, and so
render themselves the more unfit for it, and thus they shall gratify
Satan, who, it may be, may have a hand in that bodily distemper too.
When the poor soul is thus accustomed or habituated to the attempting of
the duty, it will at length appear not so terrible as it did; and so the
body may become not so soon altered thereby as it was.
2. When such an one can do no more, he should keep his love to the duty,
and his desires after it, fresh, and lively, and should not suffer these
quite to die out.
3. He should be much in the use of frequent ejaculations, and of short
supplications darted up to God; for these will not make such an
impression on the body, and so will not so occasion the raising and
wakening the bodily distemper, as more solemn addresses to God in prayer
would possibly do.
4. If he cannot go to Christ with confidence, to draw out of him life
and strength, according to his need, yet he may give a look to him,
though it were from afar; and he may think of him, and speak of him
frequently, and would narrowly observe every thing that pointeth him
out, or bringeth any thing of him to remembrance.
5. Such souls should not give way to despairing thoughts, as if their
case were wholly helpless and hopeless; for that is a reflecting on the
power and skill of Christ, and therefore is provoking and dishonourable
6. Let Christ, and all that is his, be precious always and lovely unto
them. And thus they should keep some room in their heart open for him,
till he should be pleased to come to them with salvation; and who can
tell how soon he may come?
But enough of this. There is a _fourth_ case of deadness to be spoken
to, and that is,
HOW SHALL THE SOUL MAKE USE OF CHRIST, AS THE LIFE, WHICH IS UNDER THE
PREVAILING POWER OF UNBELIEF AND INFIDELITY.
That we may help to give some clearing to a poor soul in this case, we
1. See what are the several steps and degrees of this distemper.
2. Consider what the causes hereof are.
3. Shew how Christ is life to a soul in such a case; and,
4. Give some directions how a soul in that case should make use of
Christ as the Life, to the end it may be delivered therefrom.
And, _first,_ There are many several steps to, and degrees of this
distemper. We shall mention a few; as,
1. When they cannot come with confidence, and draw out of him by faith,
what their soul's case calleth for; they cannot "with joy draw waters
out of the wells of salvation," Isa. xii. 3; but keep at a distance, and
entertain jealous thoughts of him. This is a degree of unbelief making
way for more.
2. When they cannot confidently assert and avow their interest in him,
as the church did, Isa. xii. 2, saying, "Behold, God is my salvation, I
will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my
song; he also is become my salvation."
3. When they much question, if ever they have indeed laid hold on
Christ, and so cannot go to him for the supplies of their wants and
4. When, moreover, they question if they be allowed of God, and
warranted to come to him, and lay hold upon him; yea, and they think
they have many arguments whereby to maintain this their unbelief, and
justify their keeping a-back from Christ.
5. Or, when, if they look to him at all, it is with much mixture of
faithless fears that they shall not be the better, or at least doubting
whether it shall be to their advantage or not.
6. This unbelief will advance further, and they may come to that, not
only to conclude, that they have no part or portion in him, but also to
conclude that their case is desperate and irredeemable; and so say there
is no more hope, they are cut off for their part, as Ezek. xxxvii. 11,
and so lie by as dead and forlorn.
7. Yea, they may come higher, and vent some desperate thoughts and
expressions of God, to the great scandal of the godly, and the dishonour
8. And yet more, they may come that length, to question all the
promises, and to cry out with David, in his haste, Psalm c. 11, that
"all men are liars."
9. Yea, they may come to this, to scout the whole gospel to be nothing
but a heap of delusions, and a cunningly-devised fable, or but mere
notions and fancies.
10. And at length come to question, if there be a God that ruleth in the
These are dreadful degrees and steps of this horrible distemper, and
enough to make all flesh tremble.
Let us see next whence this cometh. The causes hereof we may reduce to
_First._ The holy Lord hath a holy hand in this, and hath noble ends and
designs before him in this matter; as,
1. The Lord may think good to order matters thus, that he may magnify
his power and grace, in rescuing such as were returned to the very brink
of hell, and seemed to many to be lost and irrecoverably gone.
2. That in punishing them thus, for giving way to the first motions of
unbelief, he might warn all to guard against such an evil, and not to
foster and give way to groundless complaints, nor entertain objections,
moved against their condition by the devil.
3. To warn all to walk circumspectly, and to work out their salvation
with fear and trembling, not knowing what may befall them ere they die.
4. To teach all to walk humbly, not knowing what advantage Satan may get
of them eve all be done; and to see their daily need of Christ to
strengthen their faith, and to keep their grips of him fast.
5. So the Lord may think good to dispense so with some, that he may give
a full proof of his wonderfully great patience and long-suffering in
bearing with such, and that so long.
6. As also to demonstrate his sovereignty, in measuring out his
dispensations to his own, as he seeth will most glorify himself.
_Next,_ Satan hath an active hand in this; for,
1. He raiseth up clouds and mists in the believer, so that he cannot see
the work of God within himself, and so is made to cry out, that he hath
no grace, and that all was but delusions and imaginations, which he
looked upon as grace before.
2. He raiseth up in them jealousies of God, and of all his ways, and
puts a false gloss and construction on all which God doth, to the end he
may confirm them in their jealousies, which they have drunk in of God.
3. Having gained this ground, he worketh then upon their corruption with
very great advantage; and thus driveth them from evil to worse, and not
only to question their perfect interest in Christ, but also to quit all
hope for the time to come.
4. This being done, he driveth the soul yet farther, and filleth it with
prejudices against God and his glorious truths; and from this he can
easily bring them to call all in question.
5. Yea, he will represent God as an enemy to them; and when this is
done, how easy it is with him to put them on desperate courses, and
cause them to speak wickedly and desperately of God.
6. And when this is done, he can easily darken the understanding, that
the poor soul shall not see the glory of the gospel, and of the covenant
of grace, nor the lustre and beauty of holiness: yea, and raise
prejudices against the same, because there is no hope of partaking of
the benefit thereof; and so bring them on, to a plain questioning of
all, as mere delusions.
7. And when he hath gotten them brought this length, he hath fair
advantage to make them question if there be a God, and so drive them
forward to atheism. And thus deceitfully he can carry the soul from one
step to another.
But, _third,_ there are many sinful causes of this within the man's
1. Pride and haughtiness of mind, as thinking their mountain standeth so
strong, that it cannot be moved. And this provoketh God to hide his
face, as Psalm xxx.
2. Self-confidence, a concomitant of pride, supposing themselves to be
so well rooted that they cannot be shaken, whereas it were better for
them to walk in fear.
3. Want of watchfulness over a deceitful heart, and an evil heart of
unbelief, that is still departing from the living God, Heb. iii. 12. It
is good to be jealous here.
4. Giving way to doubtings and questionings too readily at first. It is
not good to tempt the Lord by parlying too much and too readily with
Satan. Eve's practice might be a warning sufficient to us.
5. Not living in the sight of their wants, and of their daily necessity
of Christ, nor acting faith upon him daily, for the supplying of their
wants. And when faith is not used, it may contract rust and be weakened,
and come at length not to be discerned.
6. Entertaining of jealous thoughts of God, and hearkening too readily
to any thing that may foster and increase or confirm these.
7. Not delighting themselves in, and with pleasure dwelling on, the
thoughts of Christ, of his offices, of the gospel and promises; so that
these come at length to lose their beauty and glory in the soul, and
have not the lustre that once they had; and this doth open a door to
8. In a word, not walking with God according to the gospel, provoking
the Lord to give them up to themselves for a time.
We come now to the _third_ particular, which is, to shew how Christ is
Life to the poor soul in this case. And for the clearing of this,
1. That Christ is "the author and finisher of faith," Heb. xii. 2; and
so, as he did rebuke unbelief at the first, he can rebuke it again.
2. That he is the great prophet clearing up the gospel, and every thing
that is necessary for us to know, bringing life and immortality to
light by the gospel, 2 Tim. i. 10, and so manifesting the lustre and
beauty of the gospel.
3. He bringeth the promises home to the soul, in their reality,
excellency, and truth, being the faithful witness and the amen, Rev.
iii. 14, and the confirmer of the promises, so that they are all yea and
amen in him, 2 Cor. i. 20. And this serveth to establish the soul in the
faith, and to shoot out thoughts of unbelief.
4. So doth he, by his Spirit, dispel the mists and clouds which Satan,
through unbelief, had raised in the soul.
5. And thereby also rebuketh those mistakes of God, and prejudices at
him and his ways, which Satan hath wrought there, through corruption.
6. He discovereth himself to be a ready help in time of trouble, and the
hope and anchor of salvation, Heb. vi. 19; and a priest living for ever
to make intercession for poor sinners, Heb. vii. 25.
7. And hereby he cleareth up to the poor soul a possibility of help and
relief; and thus rebuketh despair or preventeth it.
8. He manifesteth himself to be the marrow and substance of the gospel:
and this maketh every line thereof pleasant and beautiful to the soul,
and so freeth them from the prejudices that they had at it.
9. So in manifesting himself in the gospel, he revealeth the Father,
that the soul cometh to "the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face
of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. iv. 6. And this saveth the soul from atheism.
10. When the soul cannot grip him, nor look to him, yet he can look to
the soul, and by his love quicken and revive the soul, and warm the
heart with love to him, and at length move and incline it sweetly to
open to him; and thus grip and hold fast a lost sheep, yea, and bring it
But what should a soul do in such a case? To this, (which is the
_fourth_ particular to be spoken to), I answer,
1. That they should strive against those evils formerly mentioned, which
procured or occasioned this distemper. A stop should be put to those
2. They should be careful to lay again the foundation of solid knowledge
of God, and of his glorious truths revealed in the gospel, and labour
for the faith of God's truth and veracity; for till this be, nothing can
be right in the soul.
3. They should be thoroughly convinced of the treachery, deceitfulness,
and wickedness of their hearts, that they may see it is not worthy to be
trusted, and that they may be jealous of it, and not hearken so readily
to it as they have done, especially seeing Satan can prompt it to speak
for his advantage.
4. They should remember also, that it is divine help that can recover
them, and cause them grip to the promises, and lay hold on them of new
again, as well as at first, and that of themselves they can do nothing.
5. In using of the means for the recovery of life, they should eye
Christ, and because this eyeing of Christ is faith, and their disease
lieth most there, they should do as the Israelites did who were stung in
the eye with the serpents,--they looked to the brazen serpent with the
wounded and stung eye: so should they do with a sickly and almost dead
faith, grip him, and with an eye almost put out and made blind, look to
him, knowing how ready he is to help, and what a tender heart he hath.
6. And to confirm them in this resolution, they should take a new view
of all the notable encouragements to believe, wherewith the whole gospel
7. And withal fix on him, as the only "author and finisher of faith."
8. And, in a word, they should cast a wonderfully unbelieving and
atheistical soul on him, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in
working, and is wonderful in mercy and grace, and in all his ways. And
thus may he at length, in his own time, and in the way that will most
glorify himself, raise up that poor soul out of the grave of infidelity
wherein it was stinking; and so prove himself to be indeed "the
resurrection and the life, to the praise of the glory of his grace."
We come now to speak to another case, which is,
HOW CHRIST IS MADE USE OF AS THE LIFE, BY ONE THAT IS SO DEAD AND
SENSELESS, AS HE CANNOT KNOW WHAT TO JUDGE OF HIMSELF, OR HIS OWN CASE,
EXCEPT WHAT IS NAUGHT.
We spake something to this very case upon the matter, when we spoke of
Christ as the Truth. Yet we shall speak a little to it here, but shall
not enlarge particulars formerly mentioned. And therefore we shall speak
a little to those five particulars; and so,
1. Shew what this distemper is. 2. Shew whence it proceedeth, and how
the soul cometh to fall into it. 3. Shew how Christ, as the Life,
bringeth about a recovery of it 4. Shew how the soul is to be exercised,
that it may obtain a recovery; and, 5. Answer some questions or
As to the _first_, Believers many times may be so dead, as not only not
to see and know that they have an interest in Christ, and to be
uncertain what to judge of themselves, but also be so carried away with
prejudices and mistakes, as that they will judge no otherwise of
themselves than that their case is naught; yea, and not only will deny
or miscall the good that God hath wrought in them by his Spirit, but
also reason themselves to be out of the state of grace, and a stranger
to faith, and to the workings of the Spirit: and hereupon will come to
call all delusions, which sometime they had felt and seen in themselves,
which is a sad distemper, and which grace in life would free the soul
This proceedeth (which is the _second_ particular) partly from God's
hiding of his face, and changing his dispensations about them, and
compassing them with clouds, and partly from themselves and their own
1. Judging their state, not by the unchangeable rule of truth, but by
the outward dispensations of God, which change upon the best.
2. Judging their state by the observable measure of grace within them,
and so concluding their state bad, because they observe corruption
prevailing now and then, and grace decaying, and they perceive no
victory over temptations, nor growth in grace, &c.
3. Judging also their state by others; and so they suppose that they
cannot be believers, because they are so unlike to others, whom they
judge true believers. This is also to judge by a wrong rule.
4. Judging themselves by themselves, that is, because they look so
unlike to what sometimes they were themselves, they conclude that their
state cannot be good, which is also a wrong rule to judge their state
5. Beginning to try and examine their case and state, and coming to no
close or issue, so that when they have done, they are as unclear and
uncertain what to judge of themselves, as when they began; or,
6. Taking little or no pains to try themselves seriously, as in the
sight of God, but resting satisfied with a superficial trial, which can
come to no good issue.
7. Trying and examining, but through the sleight of Satan, and because
pitching upon wrong marks, coming to no good issue, but condemning
themselves without ground.
8. There is another thing which occasioneth this misjudging, to wit, the
want of distinctness and clearness in covenanting with Christ, and the
ignorance of the nature of true saving faith.
As to the _third_ particular, how Christ is Life to the believer in this
I answer, Christ manifesteth himself to be life to the soul in this
1. By sending the Spirit of life, that enlighteneth, informeth,
persuadeth, and sealeth.
2. By actuating grace so in the soul, that it manifesteth itself, and
evidenceth itself to be there; as the heat and burning of a fire will
discover itself without other tokens.
The _fourth_ particular, to wit, how the soul should be exercised, or
how it should employ Christ, for an outgate from this, hath been
abundantly cleared above, where we shewed, that believers in this case
1. Be frequent in gripping Christ and closing with him as their
all-sufficient Mediator; and faith thus frequently acting on him may
discover itself at length.
2. Look to Christ that hath eye-salve, and is given for a witness.
3. Keep grips fast of him, though they be in the dark; and walk on
gripping to him.
4. Keep love toward him and his working, and in exercise.
5. Beg of him to clear up their state, by his Spirit explaining the true
marks of grace, and discovering the working of grace in the soul.
But it will be said, and so I come to the _last_ particular, what, if
after all this, I remain as formerly, as unable to judge aright of my
state as ever?
_Answer._ Yet thou shouldst continue gripping Christ, loving him,
looking to him, casting a lost, dead soul with all thy wants upon him,
and mind this as thy constant work. Yea, thou shouldst labour to be
growing in these direct acts of faith; and learn to submit to God
herein, knowing that those reflect acts are not absolutely necessary;
and that thou shouldst think it much if he bring thee to heaven at
length, though covered with a cloud all thy days.
_Obj._ 2. But others get much more clearness.
_Ans._ I grant that; yet know, that every one getteth not clearness, and
such as have it, have it not in the same measure. And must God give thee
as much as he giveth to another? What if thou could not make that use of
it that others do, but wax proud thereby, and forget thyself? Therefore
it will be best to give God liberty to dispense his favours as he will,
and that thou be about thy commanded duty, the exercise of faith, love,
fear, patience, &c.
_Obj._ 3. But if at any time I got a sight of my case, it would be some
peace and satisfaction to me.
_Ans._ I grant that, and what knowest thou; but thou mayest also get
that favour ere thou die. Why then wilt thou not wait his leisure?
_Obj._ 4. But the want of it in the mean time maketh me go heartlessly
and discouragedly about commanded duties, and maketh that I cannot apply
things distinctly to myself.
_Ans._ Yet the word of command is the same, the offer is the same, and
the encouragement is the same. Why then should thou not be going on,
leaning to Christ in the wilderness, even though thou want that
_Obj._ 5. But it is one thing to want a clear sight of my state, it is
another thing to judge myself, to be yet in the state of nature; and
this is my case.
_Ans._ I grant, this is the worst of the two; yet, what if thou misjudge
thyself without ground; should thou not suffer for thy own folly; and
whom can thou blame but thyself? And if thou judge so, thou cannot but
know that it is thy duty to do the thing that thou supposeth is not yet
done, that is, run away to Christ for life and salvation, and rest on
him and abide there; and if this were frequently renewed, the grounds of
thy former mistake might be easily removed.
Yet further, I would add these few things:
1. Take no pleasure in debating against your own soul; for that is but
to serve Satan's design.
2. Be not too rash or ready to drink in prejudices against the work of
God in your own souls; for that is to conclude with Satan against
3. Make much of any little light he is pleased to give, were it but of
one mark, and be not ill to please; for one scriptural mark, as love to
the brethren, may sufficiently evidence the thing.
4. See how thy soul would like the condition of such as are carnal,
profane, careless in the matters of God; and if thy soul doth really
abhor that, and thou would not upon any account choose to be in such a
case, thou may gather something from that to thy comfort. But enough of
this case here.
HOW IS CHRIST, AS THE LIFE, TO BE APPLIED BY A SOUL THAT MISSETH GOD'S
FAVOUR AND COUNTENANCE.
The sixth case, that we shall speak a little to, is a deadness,
occasioned by the Lord's hiding of himself, who is their life, and "the
fountain of life," Ps. xxxvi. 9, and "whose loving-kindness is better
than life," Ps. lxiii. 3, and "in whose favour is their life," Ps. xxx.
5. A case, which the frequent complaints of the saints manifest to be
rife enough, concerning which we shall,
1. Shew some of the consequences of the Lord's hiding his face, whereby
the soul's case will appear. 2. Shew the reasons of this dispensation.
3. Shew how Christ is life to the soul in this case; and, 4. Point out
the soul's duty; or how he is to make use of Christ for a recovery.
As to the _first,_ we may take notice of those particulars:
1. They complain of God's hiding of himself, and forsaking them, Ps.
xxii. 1, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" and Ps. xiii. 3,
"How long wilt thou forsake me?" &c.
2. They cry out for a blink of his face, and get it not; for he hath
withdrawn himself, Ps. xiii. 1, "how long wilt thou hide thy face from
me?" Heman, Ps. lxxxviii., cried out night and day, but yet God's face
was hid, ver. 1, 9, 14. The spouse seeketh long, Cant. v.; see Ps. xxii.
3. They are looking for an outgate, but get none. And "hope deferred
maketh their heart sick," Prov. xiii. 12.
4. They are in the dark, and cannot tell' why the Lord dispenseth so
towards them; "Why," said Heman, Ps. xviii. 14, "castest thou off my
soul? why holdest thou thy face from me?" They cannot understand
wherefore it is. So Job cried out, "shew me wherefore thou contendest
with me," Job x. 2.
5. They may also be walking, in the mean while, without light or
counsel, so as they shall not know what to do. "How long shall I take
counsel in my soul," Ps. xiii. 2.
6. Moreover, they may have their heart filled with sorrow; as we see,
Ps. xiii. 2, "having sorrow in my heart," said David. He also saith, Ps.
xxxviii. that his sorrow was continually before him, ver. 17; and Ps.
cxvi. 3, "I found trouble and sorrow."
7. They may be so, as the sweet experience of others may yield them no
supply of comfort at present, Ps. xxii. 4-6, "Our fathers trusted in
thee," said David, "and thou didst deliver them; they cried to thee, and
were delivered; they trusted in thee, and were not confounded." But that
gave him no present ease or comfort; for immediately he addeth, ver. 6,
"but I am a worm and no man, a reproach of men," &c.
8. Yea, all their own former experiences may yield them little solace;
as we see in the same place, Ps. xxii. 9, 10, compared with ver. 14,15,
"Thou art he," says he, ver. 9, "that took me out of the womb," &c. And
yet he complains, ver. 14, "that he was poured out like water, and his
bones out of joint, that his heart was melted in the midst of his
9. They may be brought near to a giving over all in despondency, and be
brought, in their sense, to the very dust of death, Psal. xxii. 16.
If it be inquired, why the Lord dispenseth so with his own people?
We answer, and this is the _second_ particular, that he doeth it for
holy and wise reasons, whereof we may name a few; as,
1. To punish their carelessness and negligence; as we see he did with
the spouse, Cant. v.
2. To chastise them for their ill-improving of his favour and kindness
when they had it; as the same passage evidenceth.
3. To check them for their security and carnal confidence, as he did
David, Psal. xxx. 6, 7, when he said his mountain stood strong, and he
should never be moved. Then did the Lord hide his face, and he was
4. To try if their obedience to his commands be pure and conscientious,
and not in a sort mercenary, because of his lifting up upon them the
light of his countenance; and to see if conscience to a command driveth
them to duty, when they are in the dark, and have no encouragement.
5. To put the graces of the Spirit to trial and to exercise; as their
faith, patience, hope, love, &c. Psal. xiii. 5, 6, 22, 24.
6. To awaken them from their security, and to set them to a more
diligent following of duty; as we see in the spouse, Cant. v.
7. To sharpen their desire and hunger after him, as this instance
Even in such a case as this, Christ is life to the soul, which is the
1. By taking away the sinful causes of such a distance, having laid down
his life and shed his blood for the remission of their sins, so that
such a dispensation is not flowing from pure wrath, but is rather an act
of mercy and love.
2. By advocating the poor man's cause in heaven, where he is making
intercession for his own, and thereby obtaining a delivery from that
condition, in God's own time, even the shining again of his countenance
3. By keeping life in, as to habitual grace, and by breathing thereupon,
so that it becometh lively, and operative even in such a winter day.
4. By supporting the soul under that dispensation, and keeping it from
fainting, through the secret influences of grace, which he conveyeth
into the soul; as he did to the poor woman of Canaan, Matth. xv.
5. By setting the soul a-work, to use such means as God hath appointed
for a recovery; as, to cry, to plead, to long, to wait, &c. "Their heart
shall live that seek him."
6. By teaching the soul to submit to and acquiesce in what God doth,
acknowledging his righteousness, greatness, and sovereignty; and this
quietness of heart is its life.
7. By keeping the heart fast to the covenant of grace; so that whatever
come, they will never quit that bargain, but they will trust in him
though he should kill them; and they will adhere to the covenant of
grace, though they should be dragged through hell.
8. At length when he seeth it fit and convenient, he quickeneth by
drawing back the veil, and filling the soul with joy, in the light of
God's countenance; and causing it to sing, as having the heart lifted up
in the ways of the Lord.
As to the _last_ particular, concerning the duty of a soul in such a
case; we say,
1. He should humble himself under this dispensation, knowing that it is
the great God with whom he hath to do; and that there is no contending
with him; and that all flesh should stoop before him.
2. He should justify God in all that he doth, and say with David, Psal.
xxii. 3. "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of
3. He should look upon himself as unworthy of the least of that kind: "I
am a worm," said David, Psal. xxii. 6, "and no man."
4. He should search out his provocations, and run away to the fountain,
the blood of Christ, that these may be purged away, and his conscience
sprinkled from dead works, and his soul washed in the fountain opened to
the house of David for sin and for uncleanness.
5. He must also employ Christ, to discover to him more and more of his
guiltiness, whereby he hath grieved the Spirit of God; and as sins are
discovered to him, he would repent of them, and run away with them to
the blood that cleanseth from all sin. This was Elihu's advice to Job,
chap. xxxiv. 31, 32. "Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have
borne chastisement, I will not offend. That which I see not, teach thou
me; if I have done iniquity, I will do no more."
6. He should grip to Christ in the covenant, and rest there with joy and
satisfaction; he should hold that fast that he may ride out the storm in
a dark night; "though he make not mine house to grow," said David, 2
Sam. xxiii. 5; yet this was all his salvation and all his desire, that
he "had made with him an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and
sure." The spouse took this course, when she could not get a sight of
him whom her soul loved, Cant. vi. 3, and asserted her interest in him;
"I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine."
7. He should be entertaining high and loving thoughts of God, commending
him highly, let his dispensations be what they will. So did the spouse,
Cant. v. 10, 16.
8. He should earnestly seek after him. The spouse did so, Cant. v. 6.
The discouragement she met with at the hands of the watchmen, did not
put her off her pursuit, ver. 7, but she continued, yea, was "sick of
love;" ver. 8; and her looks had a prevailing power with him, as we see,
Cant. vi. 5, where the bridegroom uttered that most astonishing word,
"Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me."
9. This new manifestation which he is seeking for, must be expected in
and through Christ, who is the true tabernacle, and he who was
represented by the mercy-seat. He is the only trusting-place; in him
alone will the Father be seen.
10. He should also look to him for strength and support, in the mean
time; and for grace, that he may be kept from fainting, and may be
helped to wait till he come, who knoweth the fittest season wherein to
But it will be said, what if, after all this, we get no outgate, but he
hideth his face still from us?
I answer, such should know, that life is one thing, and comfort is
another thing; grace is one thing, and warm blinks of God's face is
another. The one is necessary to the very being of a Christian, the
other not, but only necessary to his comfortable being; and therefore
they should be content, if God give them grace, though they miss comfort
for a time.
2. They should learn to commit that matter to Christ who knoweth how to
give that which is good and best for them.
3. They should be hanging on him for strength and for duty; and in his
strength setting about every commanded duty, and be exercising faith,
love, patience, hope, desire, &c.
4. Let the well-ordered covenant be all their salvation, and all their
desire; and though they should not get a comfortable blink of God's
face, so long as they were here, yet holding fast this covenant, they
should at length be saved souls, and what would they have more? and when
they get this, what will they miss?
HOW SHALL ONE MAKE USE OF CHRIST AS THE LIFE, WHEN WRESTLING WITH AN
ANGRY GOD BECAUSE OF SIN?
That we may give some satisfaction to this question, we shall,
1. Shew what are the ingredients in this case, or what useth to concur
in this distemper.
2. Shew some reasons why the Lord is pleased to dispense thus with his
3. Shew how Christ is life to the soul in this case.
4. Shew the believer's duty for a recovery; and,
5. Add a word or two of caution.
As to the _first,_ There may be those parts of, or ingredients in this
1. God presenting their sins unto their view, so as they shall cry out,
"Our sin is ever before us," Psal. li. 3, and say, as it is, Psal. xc.
8. "Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the
light of thy countenance;" and so cause them see the Lord contending for
sin, as the church did, Isa. lix. "We roar all like bears, and mourn
sore like doves. We look for judgment but there is none, for salvation
but it is far off from us; for our transgressions are multiplied before
thee, and our sins testify against us; for our transgressions are with
us; and as for our iniquities, we know them," &c.
2. Yea, God may bring upon them the iniquities of their youth, as Job
speaketh, chap. xiii. 26, and so bring upon them, or suffer conscience
to charge them, with their old sins formerly repented of and pardoned.
And this is more terrible: David is made to remember his original sin,
3. And, as Job speaketh, chap. xv. 17, God may seem to be sealing up all
their sins in a bag, that none of them may be lost or fall by, without
being taken notice of; and, as it were, be gathering them together in a
4. He may pursue sore with signs of wrath and displeasure, because of
those sins, as we see in David, Psal. iv.; xxxviii. 51, and in several
others of his people, chastened of the Lord because of their
transgressions; whereof there are many instances in Scripture.
5. Yea, and that for a considerable time together, and cause them cry
out, with David, Psal. iv. 3, "But thou, O Lord, how long!"
6. And that not only with outward, but also with inward plagues and
strokes, as David's case cleareth, in the fore-cited Psalms.
7. Yea, and not even themselves, but even their posterity; as David's
child was smitten with death, and the posterity of Manasses, who found
mercy himself, 2 Chron. xxxiii. 13, was carried into captivity for his
sin, 2 Kings xxiii. 26, 27.
8. Further, the Lord may deprive them of all their former joy and
comfort, which made David cry out, Psalm li. 12, "Restore unto me the
joy of thy salvation, and grant me thy free Spirit."
9. And, which is yet more terrible, write their sin upon their judgment,
as when he caused the sword and whoredom follow David's house.
10. And, finally, he may cause them fear utter off-casting, as Psalm li.
12, "cast me not away," said he, "from thy presence."
And this the Lord thinketh good to do (that we may speak a word to the
_second_ particular) for those, and the like reasons:
1. To discover to them, and to all the world, how just, holy, and
righteous a God he is, that cannot approve of, or bear with sin, even in
his own children.
2. To make all fear and tremble before this great and holy God, who is
terrible in his judgments, even when they come from a Father's hand that
is not pursuing in pure anger and wrath, but chastening in love. Sure
all must think that his dispensations with the wicked will be much more
fearful and horrible, seeing they are not yet reconciled to him through
the blood of Jesus.
3. To press believers more earnestly into Christ, that they may get a
new extract of their pardon, and their souls washed in the blood of
4. To teach them to walk more circumspectly afterwards, and to guard
more watchfully against Satan's temptations, and to employ Christ more
as their strength, light, and guide.
5. To cause them see their great obligation to Jesus Christ, for
delivering them from that state of wrath, wherein they were by nature,
as well as others, and would have lain in to all eternity, had he not
6. To exercise their faith, patience, and hope; to see if in hope they
will believe against hope, and lay hold on the strength of the Lord,
that they make peace with him, Isaiah xxvii. 5.
7. To give a fresh proof of his wonderful mercy, grace, love, and
compassion, upholding the soul in the mean time, and at length pardoning
them, and speaking peace to their souls through the blood of Jesus.
But as to the _third_ particular, we may look on Christ as the Life to
the soul in this case, upon those accounts,
1. He hath satisfied justice, and so hath borne the pure wrath of God
due for their sins. "He hath trodden the wine press alone," Isaiah
lxiii. 5. "He was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our
sins," Isaiah liii. 5, 10; and therefore they drink not of this cup
which would make them drunk, and to stagger, and fall, and never rise
2. Yea, he hath procured that mercy and love shall accompany all those
sharp dispensations, and that they shall flow from mercy; yea, and that
they shall be as a covenanted blessing promised in the covenant, Psalm
lxxxix. 30, &c.
3. And sometimes he is pleased to let them see this clear difference
betwixt the strokes they lie under, and the judgments of pure wrath
which attend the wicked; and this supporteth the soul; for then he seeth
that those dispensations, how sharp soever they be, shall work together
for good to him, and come from the hand of a gracious loving Father,
reconciled in the blood of Christ.
4. "He is a Prince, exalted to give repentance and remission of sins to
Israel," Acts v. 31. Yea, he hath procured such a clause in the
covenant, which is well ordered in all things and sure, that upon their
renewing of faith and repentance, their after sins shall be pardoned;
and besides the promises of faith and repentance in the covenant, his
being a Prince exalted to give both, giveth assurance of their receiving
5. He cleareth to them their interest in the covenant, and their right
to the promises of the covenant; and through their closing with Christ
by faith, he raiseth up their heart in hope, and causeth them to expect
an outgate, even remission of their sins, and turning away the
displeasure in due time through him. And this is a great part of their
6. Being the author and finisher of faith, and a prince to give
repentance, he, by his Spirit, worketh up the soul to a renewing of its
grips of himself by faith, and to a running to the death and blood of
Christ for pardon and washing, and worketh godly sorrow in the heart,
whereupon followeth pardon, according to the gospel constitution, though
the believer as yet perceiveth it not; and sin being pardoned before
God, conform to the tenor of the covenant of grace, the man is a living
man, whatever fears of death he may be kept under for a time.
7. He helpeth also to a justifying of God, and to a holy, submissive
frame of spirit under that dispensation; so that they are willing to
bear the indignation of the Lord, because they have sinned against him,
Micah vii. 9; and to wait for an outgate in God's own time, and to kiss
the rod, and to accept of the punishment of their sin.
8. When he seeth it fit for his own glory, and their advantage, he
speaketh peace at length to the soul, and saith, "son (or daughter) be
of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee; and then is the soul restored
As to the _fourth_ particular. The soul that is wrestling with an angry
God for sin, and would make use of Christ as the Life, should do these
1. He should look to Christ as standing under God's curse in our room,
and as satisfying justice for all the elect, and for all their sins.
2. He should eye the covenant wherein new pardon is promised, upon the
renewing of faith and repentance.
3. He should eye Christ as the great Lord dispensator of both faith and
repentance, and hang on him for both, and thus believe, that he may
believe and repent, or lay his soul open to him, that he may work in him
both repentance and faith.
4. He should flee to the blood of sprinkling, "that speaks better things
than the blood of Abel," that he may be washed, and sprinkled with
hyssop, as David did, Psalm li. 7.
5. He should eye Christ as a prince to give pardon and remission of
sins, and as exalted for this end, and should fix his eye upon him, as
now exalted in glory for this end.
6. He should close with Christ of new, as his only all-sufficient
Mediator; and having done this, and repented of his sins, whereby God
hath been provoked, he should conclude through faith, that a pardon is
passed in the court of heaven, conform to the tenor of the gospel, and
wait on Christ until the intimation come.
As for the cautions which I promised to speak to, in the _last_ place,
take those few:
1. Do not conclude there is no pardon, because there is no intimation
thereof made to thy soul as yet. According to the dispensation of grace
condescended upon in the gospel, pardon is had immediately upon a soul's
believing and repenting; but the intimation, sense, and feeling of
pardon, is a distinct thing, and may, for several ends, be long kept up
from the soul. Sure they go not always together.
2. Do not conclude there is no pardon, because the rod that was
inflicted for sin is not as yet taken off. God pardoned David's sin, and
did intimate the same to him by Nathan, and yet the sword did not depart
from his house till he died. God can forgive, and yet take vengeance on
their inventions, Psalm xcix. 8.
3. Do not upon this ground question God's faithfulness, or conclude
that God's covenant doth not stand fast. He is the same, and the
covenant abideth fast and firm; but the change is in thee.
4. Do not think that because thou hast once received Christ, that
therefore, without any new act of faith on him, or of repentance towards
God, thou should immediately be pardoned of thy sins, as soon as they
are committed; for the gospel method must be followed, and it should
NO MAN COMETH TO THE FATHER BUT BY ME.
This being added for further confirmation of what was formerly said,
will point out unto us several necessary truths, as,
I. That it is most necessary to be sound and clear in this fundamental
point of coming to God only in and through Christ. For,
1. It is the whole marrow of the gospel.
2. It is the hinge of our salvation, Christ is "the chief corner stone,"
Isa. xxxviii. 16. 1 Pet. i. 5, 6; and,
3. The only ground of all our solid and true peace and comfort.
4 An error or a mistake here, is most dangerous, hazarding, if not
5. Satan endeavours mainly against this, raiseth up heresies, errors,
and false opinions, and prompteth some to vent perplexing doubts and
objections, and all to darken this cardinal point. So doth he muster up
all his temptations for this end, at length to keep poor souls from
acquaintance with this way, and from making use of it, or entering into
6. Our corrupt hearts are most averse from it, and will close with any
way, how troublesome, how expensive and costly soever it may seem to be,
rather than with this.
7. There are a multitude of false ways, as we did shew above.
All which do clear up this necessity, and should teach us to be very
diligent to win to acquaintance with it, and to make sure that we are in
it, and to hold it fast, and to keep it pure in our practice, without
mixing any thing with it, or corrupting of it.
II. That it is no small difficulty to get this truth believed and
practised, that through Christ alone we come to the Father. Therefore is
the same thing asserted and inculcated again upon the same matter; for,
1. Nature will not teach this way; it is far above nature.
2. Yea, our natural inclinations are much against it, opposing it, and
fighting against it.
3. This way is altogether contrary to that high esteem which naturally
all of us have of ourselves.
4. And is opposite to that pride of heart which naturally we are subject
5. Yea, there is nothing in us by nature that will willingly comply with
this way; but, on the contrary, all is opposite thereunto.
6. And therefore it is the Christian's first lesson to deny himself.
The consideration of which should humble us, and make us very jealous of
our own hearts and inclinations, and of all those courses which they are
inclinable to and bent upon. And it should put us to try if ever we have
overcome this difficulty; and have now all our hopes and comforts
founded on him, and on nothing else; and are up and down in our peace
and joy according as we win in to him, or are shut out from him; and in
all our approaches to God, upon whatsoever account, are leaning to him
and resting upon him alone, expecting access, acceptance, and a hearing,
only in him; and are quieted under all our fears and temptations, with
this,--that Christ is our way to the Father.
III. That even believers have need to have this truth inculcated often:
1. Satan is busy pulling them off this ground by all the wiles and
temptations he can.
2. Their own corruption within, and the evil heart of unbelief, is
always opposing this way, and drawing them off it.
3. Through the sleight of Satan and the power of corruption, they are
oftentimes declining from this pure gospel way.
4. The experience of believers can tell, that when they are at their
best, it is a great work and exercise to them to keep their hearts right
in this matter.
5. Is it not too often seen, that they are the spiritual plague of
formality, which stealeth them off their feet here?
6. And is it not found oftentimes that they are too ready to lean to
something beside Christ?
How ought all to be convinced of this, and humbled under the sense of
it! And see also how necessary it is to be often preaching on this
subject, and to be often thinking upon and studying this fundamental
IV. It should be a strong motive and incitement to us to make use of
Christ as the way to the Father, that no man cometh to the Father but by
him; for this may be looked upon as an argument enforcing their
use-making of him as the way.
V. It discovereth the ground of that truth, that there are but few that
are saved, for none cometh to the Father but by him; few, in respect of
the whole world, once hear of him; and of such as hear of him, few have
the true way of employing and applying him, as the way to the Father
cleareth up unto them. And again, of such as have the truth, as it is in
Jesus, preached unto them, O how few go to him and make use of him
according to the truth, and believe and practise the truth!
VI. That in and through Christ alone we must come,
1. To the knowledge of the Father; "for no man knoweth the Father but
the Son;" and he alone, who came out of the bosom of the Father,
2. To the favour and friendship of the Father; for he alone is our
peace, and in him alone is the Father well pleased.
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