Vol 11.—Sermon 39.—John 17:23.—"In them, and thou in me, that they may he made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

posted 12 Apr 2014, 14:23 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 12 Apr 2014, 14:24 ]

'Sermons upon the Seventeenth Chapter of St John'

Sermon 39. — John 17:23. — "In them, and thou in me, that they may he made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

Christ’s request for union is again repeated, with the advantage of another expression, to declare the nature of it. So that in this verse we have — 

The nature of the mystical union. 

The end of it; with respect to believers and the world; their conviction of Christ’s mission, and the Father’s love to the disciples. 

First, The nature of this union further declared, ‘I in them, and thou in me.’ 

Here first observe, that one union is the ground of another. Christ and the Father are one, and then Christ and we are one, and then we are one, one with another. The assumed nature is united to the divine essence in Christ’s person; and so he, as mediator, is one with the Father; and then we by the communion of the Spirit. are not only united to the head, but to our fellow-members. 

There are two unions spoken of in this verse. 

With God, that is implied; the Father is a believer’s as well as Christ: John 14:23, ‘My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our abode with him.’ Why then doth Christ say, ‘I in them’? Not to exclude the Father; for he presently addeth, ‘Thou in me.’ Christ speaketh as mediator, to show that he is the cause, way, and means. He is the Jacob’s ladder: John 1:51 ‘Verily I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.’ 

There is a union with Christ immediately; that is formally expressed, ‘I in them.’ And then between us and others of the same body, ‘That they may be made perfect in one;’ all drawn up into {Page 63} unity with God in Christ, First. God descendeth in the person of Christ, and then we all ascend by Christ, and come up to God again. Thus the personal union maketh way for the mystical, and the mystical for our joint communion with God in the same body. This is the great mystery that hath been driving on from all eternity, the Father is the beginning and ending, and Christ the means. All influence cometh from God through Christ, and our tendency is to him through Christ: 1 Corinthians 8:6, ‘To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.’ All mercies come to us, and our services and respects go to God, through Christ. The reason is, we are departed from God by sin; so that God is removed from us, and God is against us, at a distance, and at an enmity; and we are fugitives and exiles, as Adam ran away from God before he was banished out of his presence. Therefore Christ is not only a meritorious cause of the union that is between us and God, but also the bond and tie of it. To satisfy God offended, this he might do as a Saviour without us; but to be a means of influence on God’s part, and respect and service on ours, to convey grace, and return service, he must be in us: ‘I in them.’ As exiles, we are taken into grace and favour by the merit of Christ; and as fugitives, we are brought into unity again by his Spirit working in us. Therefore it is said: Ephesians 1:10, ‘That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.’ There God descendeth, and we ascend. All the scattered elect are brought into a body, to receive influences of grace from God as a fountain, through Christ as a conveyance. So Ephesians 2:18. ‘For through him we have an access by one Spirit unto the Father.’ All believers are united into a body by the communion of Christ’s Spirit, that by Christ they may perform service to God, and receive grace from him. 

Use. Is to prize Christ as mediator, and to make use of him in your addresses to God. Heathens had many ultimate objects of worship, and many mediators; we have but one. 

1. If you perform anything to God, do it in and through Christ, ‘in whom he is well pleased,’ Matthew 3:17. A holy God will accept nothing, but as tendered in Christ’s name. We cannot endure the majesty of his presence: Colossians 3:17, ‘And whatsoever ye do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him;’ by the assistance of his grace and dependence upon his merit, that is to do all in Christ’s name. We are made amiable to God in Christ; out of Christ we are odious to God: Psalm 14:2, 3, ‘The Lord looketh down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.’ Once God looked on the creatures all good, but that was in innocency; after the fall he looked on the creatures, and all are become filthy; it is not meant of any particular sort of men, but all in their natural condition. The apostle bringeth that place to prove the universal corruption of nature, Romans 3:10, that is, out of Christ. But as he looketh on us in Christ, so we are amiable; he is well-pleased {Page 64} in him: it is proclaimed from heaven, that we might not be afraid to go to God. 

2. If you expect anything from him, you must expect it in Christ. Christ is not only the meritorious cause, but the means. All we look for is not only from him, but in him. As God first loveth Christ, then loveth us; he is the prirnum amdbile, the first beloved of all; so he is first in Christ, and then in us; he is prirnum recipiens, the first object of blessing and grace: 1 Corinthians 3:22, 23, ‘All are yours, for yon are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.’ We have it at second-hand, Christ cometh between God and us, to convey the influences and bounty of heaven to us. Therefore it is said, 2 Corinthians 1:20, ‘All the promises of God in him are Yea, and in him Amen.’ God doth whatever we desire him, in him. God doth not bless us as persons distinct from Christ, but as members of his body. There is as much need of the union of our persons to the person of Christ, as there was of the union of the human nature to the divine nature. Christ must be in us, as well as God in Christ; we must be Christ’s as well as Christ is God’s. The mediator hath an interest in God, and you must have an interest in the mediator. Look, as by the personal union, Christ merited all for us; so, by the union of persons, he conveyeth all to us. Christ could not suffer till he had united our flesh to his godhead; and we cannot receive the virtue of his sufferings till he unites our person to his person. 

Secondly, Observe, Christ is in us, as God is in Christ. The two unions are often compared in this chapter; and here it is said, ‘I in them, and thou in me.’ How is God in Christ? By unity of essence, and by constant influence; and so is Christ in us. (1.) God is in Christ by unity of essence, or co-essential existency; Christ and He communicates in the same nature: ‘The fulness of the godhead dwelt in him bodily,’ Colossians 2:9. Now there is something which answereth to this in the mystical union; there is a communion of spirit between us and Christ, though not the same nature. The same Spirit dwelleth in Christ πνευματικῶς, bodily, that is, essentially; in us σωματικῶς, spiritually; we partake of the divine nature in some gifts and qualities. (2.) By constant influence. God is in Christ by a communication of life, virtue, and operation. 

The Father is the perpetual beginning, foundation, and root of life to Christ as mediator: John 6:57, ‘As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.’ So is Christ to us: Galatians 2:20, ‘Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: an(J the life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.’ 

The divine essence sustained the person of Christ as mediator. The humanity could not subsist of itself, but by constant influence from the godhead: Isaiah xlii. 1, ‘Behold my servant, whom I uphold.’ Christ had constant sustentation from the Father; he upheld him, and carried him through the work. So are we ‘preserved in Jesus Christ,’ Jude 1. We have not only the beginning and principle of life from Christ, but constant support. We can no more keep ourselves than make ourselves; all things depend upon their first cause. 

{Page 65}3. The Father concurreth to all the operations and actions of Christ, and so the Father is in Christ as he worketh in him: John 14:10, ‘Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself; but the Father, that dwelleth hi me, he doeth the works.’ The divine power was interested in Christ’s works as mediator, especially in the miracles that he wrought to confirm the truth of his person. So is Christ in believers, as he worketh in them all their works for them: John 15:5, ‘I am the vine, ye arc the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.’ He doth not say, nihil magnum, no great thing; but, nihil, nothing at all. Thinking is the most sudden and transient act; sure the new nature there may get the start of corruption. But, 2 Corinthians 3:5, ‘Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God.’ Actions are more deliberate, there is more scope for the interposition of corrupt nature; but of ourselves we cannot think a good thought. 

What use shall we make of this? 

Use 1. If Christ be in us, as God was in Christ, let us manifest it as Christ did. Christ manifested the Father to be in him by his works: John 10:37, 38, ‘If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; hut if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works, that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him.’ Works and miracles exceeding the power and force of nature showed that Christ was a divine person; sure the Father is in him, or else he could not do these works. So St James puts hypocrites upon the trial, ‘Show me thy faith by thy works,’ James 2:18. Do we do any works exceeding the power of corrupt nature? That would he a proof of Christ’s working in you. When Jacob counterfeited Esau, Isaac felt his hands. So what are your works? If you walk as men, do no more than an ordinary man, that hath not the Spirit of God, where is the proof of Christ’s working in you? Many boast of Christ in them; if Christ were in them, he would be there, as the Father was in Christ; they would bewray it by their operations. You may know what is within by what cometh out; if Christ be within thee, there will come out prayer, sighs, and groans for heaven, fruitful discourses, heavenly walking, a mortified conversation; all this cometh out, because Christ is within. But now, when ye belch out filthy discourses, rotten communication, there is nothing cometh out but vanity and sin, how dwelleth Christ in you? are these the fruits of his presence? 

Use 2. Learn dependence upon Christ. All the power we have to work is from Christ. Whence hath the body the vigour it hath to work, and to move from place to place, but from the soul? And whence hath a Christian his power but from Christ? We derive all our strength from Christ. We are as glasses without a bottom; they cannot stand of themselves, but they are broken in pieces. Christ can do all things without us, but we can do nothing without him, as the soul can subsist apart from the body; Christ hath no need of us, but we cannot live and act without him. Sine te nihil, in te totumpossumus Philippians 4:13, ‘I can do all things through Christ, which strengthened me.’ The apostle doth not speak it to boast of his power, but to {Page 66} profess his dependence. It was never seen that a father would cast away the child that hangeth on him. 

Thirdly, I shall now speak of Christ’s being in believers apart, that I may a little enforce this argument. How is Christ in believers? We must not go too high, nor too low. It is not to be understood essentially, so he is everywhere, and cannot be more peculiarly in one than in another: ‘Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?’ Psalm 139:7. He is here, and there, and everywhere, in heaven, in earth, in hell. Personally he is not in us; that cannot be without a personal union; if the Spirit were personally in us, that would make us to become one person with the Holy Ghost, as the divine and human nature make but one person; but mystically, with respect to some peculiar operations which he worketh in us, and not in others. Christ is in us as the head is in the members, by influence of life and motion; not such influence as tendeth to life natural — so natural men live in him, move in him, and have their being in him; there is a union of dependence between God and all his creatures; — but influence with respect to life spiritual. In short, Christ is not only in us as in a temple or house — that is one way of his being in us, therefore he is said ‘to dwell in our hearts by faith,’ Ephesians 3:17, — but he is in us as the head in the members, and as the vine in the branches, John 15:1, where there is not only a presence, but an influence. Once more, he is not only in us in a moral way, in affections; his heart is with us, and our heart is with him, and his love and his joy is in and towards us: Proverbs 8:31, ‘Rejoicing always in the habitable parts of the earth, and my delights were with the sons of men;’ but he is in us in a mystical and gracious way: John 17:26, ‘That the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.’ He is in us as the soul is in the body, to give us life, sense, vigour, and operation. 

Use 1. To press us to labour after an interest in this privilege, that Christ may be in us. It is the saddest mark if Christ be not in us: 1 Corinthians 13:5, ‘Know ye not that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? ‘reprobates disallowed of God. 

Let me press it: — 

If Christ be not in us, the devil is: Ephesians 2:2, ‘Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.’ Man’s heart is not a waste; it is occupied by Christ or Satan, The children of disobedience are acted by the devil and governed by the devil. Those that are cast out of the church, which is a figure of cutting off from communion with Christ, were given up to Satan, to show that he reigneth there where Christ doth not take possession; the devil entereth into them, and sendeth them headlong to their own destruction. 

Where Christ is, there all the Trinity are: John 14:23, ‘We will come unto him, and make our abode with him;’ there is Father, Son, and Spirit. Such an one is a consecrated temple, wherein God taketh up his residence. They do not only come as guests, to tarry with us for a night, as the angels came to Abraham, Genesis 18:2; or?is friends come to visit, and away, and so leave more sorrow on their {Page 67} departure than joy in their presence; but they will abide with us for ever. Heaven is where God is; this heaven we have upon earth, that all the persons take up their abode in our hearts. God knocketh at the door of a wicked man’s heart, but doth not enter, much less have his abode and residence there. Here is the Father as a fountain of grace, Christ as mediator, and the Spirit as Christ’s deputy, to work all in us. This is his second heaven, one above the clouds, and another in our hearts. Oh! what a condescension is it, that God should not only pardon us, and admit us into his presence hereafter, be familiar with us, when we have put on our robes of glory, but dwell in us here! When Christ was about to go to heaven, and his disciples were troubled at it, then he leaveth us this promise. We cannot go to God, but God will come to us, not only give us a visit, but take up his abode in us. 

Wherever the Trinity are, there is a blessing left behind. The presence of earthly princes is costly and burdensome, because of their train and the charges of entertainment; but the Trinity are blessed guests; they never come but bring their welcome with them, and a blessing in their hands. The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost do not come empty-handed. The Son of God came to Abraham with two angels, but he came not without a gift, a promise of a child, though their bodies were dry and dead, Genesis 18. Wheresoever Christ came in the days of his flesh, he left some mercy behind. While in the womb of the virgin, he came into the house of Zacharias, and Zacharias and Elizabeth his wife were both filled with the Holy Ghost, Luke 1:41. He came into Peter’s house, and brought deliverance for Peter’s wife’s mother from a fever, Matthew 8:15. He came to Capernaum, and brought with him to the man sick of the palsy health for his body and a pardon for his soul, Matthew 9:2. He came to the house of Jairus, and raised his daughter, Romans 6:23. He came to the house of Zaccheus, and brought salvation with him, Luke 19:9. Everywhere wherever he went, trace him, you will find he left a blessing behind him. Laban thrived better for Jacob, the house of Obed-Edom for the ark. In these short visits Christ left a blessing, but in a gracious soul they have a perpetual residence; it is fit these blessed guests should have good entertainment. 

It is a pledge that we shall have more: ‘Christ in us the hope of glory,’ Colossians 1:29. He dwelleth in us to fit us for heaven. It is heaven begun; it makes our exile a paradise. It is still growing, till it cometh to a complete presence in heaven. Where he is once in truth, there he is for ever. Temples built may stand forsaken, but God never forsaketh his spiritual temples. 

Use 2. Direction. What must we do that Christ may be in us? 

1. Make way for him. Empty the heart of all self-confidence. When the heart is full of self, there is no room for Christ: Phil 3:8, 9, ‘Yea doubtless I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.’ First, there must be a cutting off from {Page 68} the wild olive-tree by a sound conviction; we must know what strangers we are to the life of God. Was there a time when we were convinced of this? Ephesians 4:18, ‘Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.’ How can a man that was never convinced of the sadness of his estate say, Not I, but Christ? 

Wait for him in the ordinances. Where should a man meet with Christ, but in his ordinances, in the shepherds’ tents? All the ordinances have an aspect upon our union with Christ, either to begin or continue it. God offereth him to us in the word: 1 Cor 1:9, ‘God is faithful, by whom ye are called to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.’ We are entreated to take him. As long as they see nothing but man in it, it cometh to nothing; but many times, in hearing, they see God in the offer: the matter is of the Lord, as Rebekah yielded out of an overruling instinct. So for the religious use of the seals. We are ‘baptised into Christ,’ Galatians 3:27. It is the pledge of our admission into that body whereof Christ is the head. God is aforehand with us; we were engaged to make a profession of this union, before we had liberty to choose our own way. Let us not retract our vows, and make baptism only a memorial of our hypocrisy, to profess union when there is no such matter: I profess to be planted into Christ by baptism, but I feel no such matter. Oh! you should groan for this! Then for the supper of the Lord: 1 Corinthians 10:16, ‘The cup of blessing which we bless, οὐκί κοινωνία, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?’ Under the law the people could not eat of the sin-offering, but only the priest; for the same reason they were forbidden to cat sacrifice and drink blood: Leviticus 17:11, 12, ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. Therefore I said unto the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood;’ compared with Matthew 26:26, ‘This is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’ The priest was to become one with the sacrifice, to figure Christ’s person; but now atonement being made, another union is necessary, of sinners with the sacrifice. Nothing is so one with us as that we eat and drink; it becometh a part of our substance; it resembleth that strait and near conjunction between us and Christ. This is a means appointed to engage us to look after this union; here wo come to profess it, to promote it; it is a means under a blessing. 

Receive him thankfully. Oh! what am I, and ‘whence is it to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’ Luke 1:43; that Christ should come to me, and dwell in my heart! 

Entertain him kindly; be careful to preserve the motions, quickenings, comforts of his Spirit. This is the respect we should show, to be sensible of accesses and recesses, and accordingly suit our carriage. Rejoice in his presence; such a precious guest must be observed. Grieve when you, do not feel the comforts of it: Solomon’s Song 5:4, ‘My beloved put in his hand at the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him.’ 

{Page 69}Use 3. Examine whether Christ be in you or no. You may know it: — 

By his manner of entrance. Christ is not wont to come into the heart without opposition. The devil is loath to be dispossessed: Luke 11:21, ‘When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace.’ Christ came into the temple with a whip to drive out the money-changers. He cometh to rule alone. 

By the fruits of his abode — life, fruitfulness, tendency. 

(1.) Life. It will stir and quicken you to good duties: Galatians 3:20, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.’ He is a living fountain of vital union. 

(2.) Fruitfulness of soul: John 15:2, ‘Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit;’ and ver. 4, ‘Abide in me, and I in you: as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can you, except you abide in me.’ 

(3.) Tendency — (1.) To heaven. Heaven is the place of our full enjoyment of him. They do not admire worldly excellences: Luke 19:8, ‘Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.’ The woman left her pitcher, John 4:28; Matthew followed Christ. (2.) To God’s glory as our last aim; their aim is according to their principle. 

Secondly, I come to the end of this union. 

With respect to believers, ‘That they may be made perfect,’ &c. 

With respect to the world, and their conviction, ‘That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me.’ 

First, With respect to believers, ‘That they may be made perfect in one,’ τετελειωμένοι εἰς ἐν. This oneness is either with God or with one another. Both are included in the mystical union; we cannot be united to the head, but we must also be united to the members. The golden cherubims did so look to the ark and mercy-seat, that they did also look one towards another, Exodus 25:20. So in this union, as we respect God and Christ, so we must also look to our fellow-members: ‘Let them be perfect in one;’ let them all centre in God, which is the creature’s perfection. 

Observe, our perfect happiness lieth in oneness, in being one with God through Christ. I shall evidence it to you in a few particulars. 

1. Since the fall man’s affections and thoughts are scattered: Ecclesiastes 7:29, ‘God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions.’ When man lost his happiness, he sought out many inventions. A sinner is full of wanderings, as a wayfaring man that hath lost his direction turneth up and down, and knows not where to pitch; or the needle in the compass, when it is jogged, shaketh and wavereth, and knoweth not where to rest, till it turneth to the pole again. There is a restlessness in our desires; still we have new projects, and know not where to pitch; are not content with what we do possess; this is not the pole where we rest. Quairunt in vanitate crea-turarum quod amisserunt in unilate Creatoris. A river, the further it runneth from the fountain, the more it is dispersed into several {Page 70} streams. Blindness maketh us grope and feel about for happiness, as the Sodomites did for Lot’s door. We change objects, striving to meet with that in one thing which we cannot find in another, as bees fly and go from flower to flower; we seek to patch up things as well as we can. 

In all this chase and distraction of thoughts there is no contentment in the vast world, nothing that can satiate the heart of man. Transitory things may divert the soul, but they cannot content it. After Solomon’s survey, Ecclesiastes 1:2, ‘Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ He had made many experiments, but still found himself disappointed, and disappointment is the worst vexation. 

This distraction continueth till we return to God again: 1 Peter 2:25, ‘Ye were as sheep going astray, but are now returned unto the shepherd and bishop of your souls.’ There is no safety but in the fold. God, who is the principle of our being, is the only object of our contentment. We began in a monad or unity, and there we end. God is the boundary of all things: Romans 11:36, ‘For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever, Amen.’ In him, or nowhere, the soul findeth content. He is our first cause and our last end. There are some scriptures and rays of goodness in the creature, but they cannot satisfy, because there we have happiness by parcels; it is dispersed. Nothing is dispersed in the creature but what is re-collected in the creator; there is all in him, because all came out from him. 

The great work of grace is to return us to God again, that we may pitch upon him as the chief object and centre of our rest: Jeremiah 32:39, ‘I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever.’ It is the great blessing of the covenant; this one heart is to pitch upon God as the chief object and centre of our rest, otherwise we are troubled with divers cares, fears, and desires. Thus grace worketh upon us. But the distance lieth not only on our part, but God’s. Before God and the creature can be brought together, justice must be satisfied. Christ came to restore us to our primitive condition, 2 Corinthians 5:19, ‘God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.’ The merit of Christ bringeth God to us, and the Spirit of Christ bringeth us to God. It is as necessary Christ should be united to us, as we to God. 

Our happiness in God is completed by degrees. In this life, the foundation is laid: we are reconciled to him upon earth; but the complete fruition we have in heaven; there we are fully made perfect in one. Here there is weakness in our reconciliation: we do not cleave to him without distraction; there are many goings a-whoring and wandering from God after our return to him. And here, on God’s part, our punishment is continued in part. God helpeth us by means, at second and third hand. We need many creatures, and cannot be happy without them; we need light, meat, clothes, house. Our life is patched up by supplies from the creature. But there ‘God is all, and in all,’ 1 Corinthians 15:28. We find in God whatever is necessary for us without means and outward helps. There ‘God is all, and in all;’ he is our house, clothes, meat, ordinances. We have all {Page 71} immediately from God, and ‘in all;’ all are made perfect in one. We cannot possess any thing in the world except we encroach upon one another’s happiness. Worldly things cannot be divided i, without lessening; and we take that from others which we possess ourselves. Envy showeth the narrowness of our comforts. But there the happiness of one is no hindrance to another, all are gratified, and none miserable; as the sun is a common privilege, none have less because others have more. All possess God as their happiness without want and jealousy. 

Use. If to be drawn into unity and oneness with God be our happiness and perfection, then take heed of two things — (1.) Of sin, which divides God from you; (2.) Of doting upon the creatures, which withdraweth you from God. 

Of sin, which maketh God stand at a distance from you: Isaiah 59:2, ‘Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you.’ As long as sin remaineth in full power, there cannot be any union at all. ‘What communion hath light with darkness?’ And the more it is allowed, the more it hindereth the perfection of the union. What is the reason we do not fully grow up to be one with God in this life, that our communion with him is so small? Sin is in the way; the less holy you are, the less you have of this happiness, such unspeakable joys, lively influences of grace, and immediate supplies from heaven. In bitter afflictions, we have most communion with God many times; that is nothing so evil as sin; as afflictions abound, so do our comforts. 

Of doting upon the creatures, which withdraweth your heart from God. The more the heart is withdrawn from God, the more miserable. Let the object be never so pleasing, it is an act of spiritual whoredom. Sin is poison, creatures are not bread: Isaiah 4:2, ‘Why do you spend your money upon that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?’ It cannot yield any solid contentment to the soul. These things are short uncertain things, beneath the dignity of the soul. There is a restlessness within ourselves, and envy towards others; they are not enough for us and them too. Not for us; if enough for the heart, not for the conscience. If God do but arm our own thoughts against us, as usually he doth when the affections are satisfied with the world, he will show-you that the whole soul is not satisfied; therefore he awakeneth conscience; as children catch at butterflies, the gaudy wings melt away in their fingers, and there remaineth nothing but an ugly worm. Desertion is occasioned by nothing so much as carnal complacency. Many times the object of our desires is blasted; but if not, God awakeneth conscience, and all the world will not allay one pang. 

You may understand this oneness with respect to our fellow-members; and so you may understand it jointly of the completeness of the whole mystical body, or singly of the strength of that brotherly affection each member hath to another. There is a double imperfection for the present in the church; every member is not gathered, and those that are gathered are not come to their perfect growth. So that’ let them be perfect in one,’ is that the whole body may attain to the integrity of parts and degrees. 

{Page 72}First, Let us take it collectively; that they may all be gathered into a perfect body, and no joints lacking. 

Observe, that all the saints of all places and all ages make but one perfect body. In this sense the glorified saints are not perfect without us: Heh. 11:40, ‘God having promised some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.’ It is no derogation, for Christ is not perfect without us. The church is called ‘The fulness of him that filleth all in all,’ Ephesians 1:23. They are, as to their persons, perfect, free from sin and misery, made perfect in holiness and glory; but not as to their church relation. So Ephesians 4:13, ‘Till we all come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.’ All the body must be made up that Christ mystical may be complete. Now there are some joints lacking; all the elect are not gathered. 

Use 1. See the honour that is put upon the saints; the saints on earth, and the saints in heaven make but one family: Ephesians 3:15, ‘Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.’ In a great house there are many rooms and lodgings, some above, some below, but they make but one house; so of saints, some are militant, some triumphant, and yet all make but one assembly and congregation: Hebrews 12:23, ‘We are come to the general assembly, and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven;’ we upon earth are come to them. Our Christ is the same, we are acted by the same Spirit, governed by the same head, and shall be conducted to the same glory. As in the state of grace some are before us in Christ, so some are in heaven before us, their faces once as black as yours. We have the same ground to expect heaven, only they are already entered. 

Use 2. It is a ground of hope, we shall all meet together in one assembly: Psalm 1:5, ‘The ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.’ Now the saints are scattered up and down, where they may be most useful; then all shall be gathered together; then shall be that great rendezvous, when the four winds shall give up their dead; then the wicked shall be herded, they shall be bound up in bundles, as straws and sticks bound up together in a bundle serve to set one another on fire, Matthew 13:40-42; adulterers together, and drunkards together, and thieves together, and so increase one another’s torment. So all the godly shall meet in a congregation, and never be separated more. You do not only groan and wait for it, but the departed saints also: Revelation 6:9, 10, ‘I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?’ As in a wreck, those that get first to shore are longing for and looking for their companions. This is the communion between us and saints departed; they long for our company, as we for theirs; we praise God for them, they groan for us; we long and wait, by joint desires, for that happy day. 

Use 3. It is an engagement to the churches of all parts to maintain a common intercourse one with another. All maketh but one body. We should pray for them whom we have not seen in the flesh, {Page 73} Colossians 2:2, and send relief to them, as the church at Antioch to Jerusalem when the famine was foretold, Acts xi., latter end; and, as God giveth opportunities, meet and consult for one another’s welfare. But the world is not ripe for this yet. 

Use 4. It giveth you assurance of the continuance of the ministry as long as the world continueth. As long as the world continueth there are elect to be gathered: 2 Peter 3:9, ‘The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness, but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.’ The ship tarrieth till all the passengers be taken in, and then they launch, out into the deep. The great aim of Christ in keeping up the world is to make his body complete; and as long as the elect are to be gathered, the ministry is to continue: Ephesians 4:11, 12, ‘He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.’ The workmen are not dismissed till the house be built. 

Secondly, Understand it singly and severally, ‘That they may be made perfect in one;’ that is, that there may be a perfect oneness between member and member of Christ’s body, or a brotherly affection which one member hath to another. 

Observe, no less union will content Christ but what is perfect. This was the aim of his prayers; then strive for it, wait for it. 

Strive for it: 1 Corinthians 1:10, ‘Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment.’ We should all strive together, as if we had but one scope, one interest, one heart. We should grow up to this perfection more and more. Oh! what conscience should we make of keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace! If we are not one in opinion, yet we should have one aim and scope. Let us concur in one object and rule, and as far as we have attained to the knowledge of it, let us walk together. 

Wait for it. The perfection of our communion is in life eternal. Here it is begun, we are growing to the perfect day: Proverbs 4:18, ‘The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.’ Ibi Lutherus et Zuinglius optime conveniunt. We are going thither where Hooper and Ridley, Luther and Zuinglius, shall be of a mind. In heaven they are all of one mind, one heart, one employment; there is neither pride, nor ignorance, nor factions to divide us, but all agree in one concert. 

Secondly, The end as to the world, their conviction, ‘That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and that thou hast loved them as thou hast loved me.’ When is the world convinced, and how? I shall answer both together — In part here, and fully hereafter. 

In part here, by Christ’s being and working in them, by the life of Christ appearing in their conversations. 

Fully and finally at the last judgment, by the glory put upon them. The reprobate world shall know, to their cost, when they shall see them invested with such glory, that they were the darlings of God. 

{Page 74}But of what shall the world be convinced? Of Christ’s mission and the saints’ privileges, that Christ was authorised by God as the doctor of the church, and the saints are dearly beloved of God. 

Observe, there are two things God is tender of, and two things the world is ignorant of — his truth, and his saints. 

1. God prizeth these above all things. 

[1.] His gospel; and therefore would have the world convinced that Christ was sent as a messenger from the bosom of God. 

[2.] His saints; and therefore be would have them convinced of his love to them, and that be hath taken them into his protection, as he did the person of Christ. What should people regard but these two, especially since God hath put his little ones to nurse, and bid them be wise to learn his truths? 

2. The world is most ignorant of these two; of the divine authority of the gospel, and therefore they slight it, and refuse it as much as they do; and of the dearness of his saints, therefore they persecute and molest them, and use them hardly. The world may be well called ‘darkness,’ Ephesians 5:8, because they are ignorant of two things which do most concern them. 

But let us speak more particularly of that wonderful and mysterious expression, ‘That thou hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. 

Observe three things — (1.) That God loveth Christ; (2.) That God loveth the saints as he loved Christ; (3.) That Christ would have the world know so much, and be convinced of it. 

Observe, first, that God loveth Christ as the first object of his love: ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,’ Matthew 3:17. He is his dear Son: Colossians 1:13, ‘Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.’ God saw all the works of his hands that they were good. He delighteth in the creatures, much more in his Son. He loveth Christ as God, and as mediator, as God-man. 

As God; so he is primum amabile, the first object of his love, as his own express image, that represents his attributes exactly. He is the first Son, the natural Son; as we are adopted ones; and so his soul taketh an infinite contentment in Christ, before hill or mountain were brought forth: Proverbs 8:30, 31, ‘Then was I with him, as one brought up with him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing alway before him, rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth,’ &c. As two that are bred up together take delight in one another. 

As mediator; he loveth the human nature of Christ freely. The first object of election was the-flesh, of Christ assumed into the divine person: Colossians 1:19, ‘It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;’ it deserved not to be united to the divine person. When it was united, the dignity and holiness of his person deserved love. There was the fulness of the godhead in him bodily, the Spirit without measure, all that is lovely. And then, besides the excellency of his person, there was the merit of his obedience; he deserved to be loved by the Father for doing his work: John 10:17, ‘Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again;’ that was a new ground of love. Christ’s love to us was a further cause of God’s love to him. Thus you see how God loveth Christ. 

{Page 75}Use 1. It giveth us confidence in both parts of Christ’s priestly office — his oblation and intercession. His oblation: Matthew 3:17, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ God hath proclaimed it from heaven that he is well pleased with Christ standing in our room, though so highly offended with us, and with him for our sake: Ephesians 1:6, ‘To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.’ All that come under his shadow will be accepted with God. He is beloved, and will be accepted in all that he doeth; his being beloved answereth our being unworthy of love. Surely he will love us for his sake, who hath purchased love for us. His intercession: if the Father loveth Christ, we may be confident of those petitions we put up in his name: John 16:23, ‘Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.’ Our advocate is beloved of God. When we pray in the name of Christ, according to the will of God, our prayer is in effect Christ’s prayer. If you send a child or servant to a friend for anything in your name, the request is yours; and he that denieth the child or servant denieth you. When we come in a sense of our own unworthiness, on the score and account of being Christ’s disciples, and with a high estimation of Christ’s worth and credit with the Father, and that he will own us, that prayer will get a good answer. 

Use 2. It is a pledge of the Father’s love to us; and if God gave Christ, that was so dear to him, what can he withhold? Romans 8:32, ‘He that spared not his own Son, but gave him up to the death for us all, how will he not with him also freely give us all things?’ He spared him not; the Son of his love was forsaken and under wrath; and will he then stick at anything? God’s love is like himself, infinite; it is not to be measured by the affection of a carnal parent. Yet he gave up Christ. Love goeth to the utmost; had he a greater gift, he would have given it. How could he show us love more than in giving such a gift as Christ? John 16:22, ‘The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came forth from God.’ God hath a respect for those that believe in Christ, and receive him as the Son of God. 

Use 3. It is an engagement to us to love the Lord Jesus: 1 Corinthians 16:22, ‘If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema maranatha.’ Shall we undervalue Christ, who is so dear and precious with God? Let us love him as God loved him. 

God loved him so as to put all things into his hands: John 3:35, ‘The Father loveth the Son, and hath put all things into his hand.’ Let us own him in his person and office, and trust him with our souls. He is intrusted with a charge concerning the elect, in whose hands are your souls: 2 Timothy 1:12, ‘I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day.’ 

God hath loved him, so as to make him the great mediator to end all differences between God and man. God hath owned him from heaven: Matthew 3:17, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ Do you love him so as to make use of him in your communion with God? Hebrews 7:25, ‘Wherefore is he able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God through him, seeing he {Page 76} ever liveth to make intercession for us.’ That is the sum of all religion. 

3. God loveth him so as to glorify him in the eyes of the world: John 5:22, 23, ‘The Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment to the Son, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father that hath sent him.’ Do you honour him? Philippians 1:21, ἐμοὶ τὸ ζῆν Χριστὸς. ‘To me to live is Christ,’ should be every Christian’s motto. This is love, and not an empty profession. Christ will take notice of it, and report it in heaven; it is an endearing argument when the Father’s ends are complied with: John 17:10, ‘And all thine are mine, and mine are thine, and I am glorified in them.’

Vol 11.—Sermon 38.—John 17:22.—And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.

posted 12 Apr 2014, 14:17 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 12 Apr 2014, 14:19 ]

'Sermons upon the Seventeenth Chapter of St John'

Sermon 38. — John 17:22. — And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.

Christ had prayed for the union of believers in one mystical body: here is an argument to enforce that request, ‘The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them,’ &c. His act is urged as a reason, because of that consent of will that is between him and the Father; Christ would have his gift ratified by the Father’s consent, as if he had said, Deny not what I have granted them. 

For the meaning of the words, all the difficulty is, what is meant by the glory here spoken of? Some say by glory is meant the power of working miracles, that is called the glory of God: John 11:40, ‘Said I not, If thou wouldst believe, thou shalt see the glory of God?’ that is, a glorious miracle wrought by him. When Christ wrought a miracle, John 2:11, ‘He manifested forth his glory.’ And so they limit it to the apostles, who had gifts of miracles, and were fitted to succeed Christ upon earth: thus many of the ancients. By the glory of God is sometimes meant the image of God: Romans 3:23, ‘All have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God;’ so 2 Corinthians 3:18, ‘We all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory.’ That glory which we lost in Adam and want by nature is restored tons in Christ. Some by glory understand the Spirit, who is called ‘a Spirit of glory,’ and was given to Christ without measure, and from him to us, as a means of union between us and Christ, and between us and believers. Others understand it of the honour of filiation; as Christ was a son by nature, so are we by grace: John 1:14, ‘We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father;’ and John 17:12, ‘As many as received him, to them gave he, ἐξουσίαν, power to become the sons of God.’ It is an honour: it is a means of union. Adoption maketh way for union with Christ, and Christ left us the relation of brethren, that we might love one another, for we are brethren. But by glory I suppose is meant rather the happiness of the everlasting state, which is usually called glory in scripture; and so it is taken, John 17:24, ‘Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me.’ And there is the most perfect union with Christ; and we that expect one heaven, should not fall out by the way. Ephesians 4:4, one of the bonds is ‘one hope.’ All the difficulty is, how was this given them? The disciples were upon the earth, and the greatest part of believers were not then in being. Ans. Christ acquired a right, and left us a promise; he would not go to heaven till he had made it sure to us by deed of gift; this then I conceive to be the meaning. It is not good to straiten the sense of scripture; yet some one is more proper: adoption, gift of the spirit, new nature, eternal life, you may comprise all. 

1. Observe, Christ’s care to make us every way like himself, as far as our capacity will bear; like, but not equal. The reiteration showeth his care, ‘Let them be as we are;’ and ‘The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them.’ 
{Page 55}
  • What resemblance is there between us and Christ? 
  • Between us and Christ as the eternal Son of God. 
  • Between us and Christ as mediator. 
First, Between us and Christ as the eternal Son of God. Christ is the essential image of the Father, therefore called ‘the image of the invisible God,’ Colossians 1:15, and the character or ‘express image of his person,’ Hebrews 1:3; and we are God’s image by reflection. If there be two or three suns appear, one or two are but a reflection. There are some strictures in us. Christ is one with the Father, and we with him; a poor Christian, though never so mean, is one with Christ. Christ is called ‘God’s fellow,’ Zechariah 13:7, and every saint is Christ’s fellow: Psalm xlv. 7, ‘God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.’ The Father loveth him because he is the express image of his person, and the Father delights in the saints because they are the image of Christ: ‘The Father himself loveth you,’ John 16:28. A man that loveth another, he loveth head and members with the same love. Christ is the Son of God, so are we; it was his eternal right and privilege; our title cometh by him: John 20:17, ‘I ascend unto my Father, and your Father.’ First, he is Christ’s father, and then ours; his by nature, ours by adoption, otherwise we could not have it. 

2. But this likewise chiefly respects the glory that was given to Christ as mediator. As God communicateth himself to Christ as mediator, so doth Christ communicate himself to his members. Christ, as man, was begotten by the Holy Ghost; and the same Spirit begetteth us to the life of faith. The new nature is formed in us by the Spirit, as Christ was formed in the virgin’s womb: Galatians 4:19, ‘My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you.’ All his moral excellences are bestowed on the saints, 2 Corinthians 3:18, ‘We all beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.’ If a picture be well taken, it makes us know him whom it represents; we see the lineaments of his face as if he were present; so doth a Christian express and show forth the virtues of Christ: 1 Peter 2:9, ‘Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.’ There is an answerable impression to his mediatory actions, and a spiritual conformity to them: Romans 6:4, ‘Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life;’ Philippians 3:10, ‘That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;’ Ephesians 2:6, ‘And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus;’ a dying in his death, a living in his life, an ascending in his ascension; dying to sin, rising to newness of life; our ascension is by thoughts, hopes, and resolutions. We resemble him in his afflictions, it is a part of our conformity, 2 Corinthians 4:10, ‘Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Christ might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.’ An afflicted innocence {Page 56} and meek patience is a resemblance of Christ. And as in this life we resemble Christ in his actions and passions, so that a Christian is as it were a spiritual Christ, so in the life to come we resemble him in glory. Christ, after he died, rose again, and so do we; the same Spirit raiseth us that raised Christ. He ascended into heaven accompanied with angels; so are we carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. In heaven he liveth blessedly and gloriously, so do we; Christ hath a kingdom, so have we: Luke 12:32, ‘Fear not, little flock; it is your Father’s pleasure to give you the kingdom.’ At the last clay his human nature will be brought forth with a majesty and glory suitable to the dignity of his person: ‘So shall he be admired in his saints,’ 2 Thessalonians 1:10. Then the mystery of his person shall be disclosed; so shall the mystery of our life: Colossians 3:3, 4, ‘For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’ Christ judgeth the world; so do the saints: 1 Corinthians 6:2, ‘Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?’ Matthew 19:28, ‘Ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’ ‘The second time Christ shall appear without sin unto salvation,’ Hebrews 9:28. So we shall be then disburdened of all the fruits and effects of sin, ‘which shall be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord,’ Acts 3:19. We are like him in his offices, kings, priests, and prophets, but in a spiritual manner, to rule our lusts, to minister in holy things, and to instruct our hearts. Thus you see there is a conformity in grace and glory. 

Now Christ is thus earnest to make us like himself, partly out of his own love; he cannot satisfy his heart with giving us any inferior privilege. Whatever he had and was, it was for our sakes; as man, he received it for us: Psalm 68:18, ‘Thou hast received gifts for men;’ compared with Ephesians 4:8, ‘He gave gifts unto men.’ His life, righteousness, and glory is for our sakes. Wherefore doth Christ make himself like unto us, but that we might be like unto him? Partly in obedience to God’s counsels and decrees: Romans 8:29, ‘For whom he did foreknow he also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren.’ There is wisdom in it, primum in unoquoque genere est picestantissimum. Christ is the example and pattern set forth by God, and that in our nature; he is the second Adam, a new root, and it is meet that head and members should suit, otherwise it is monstrous. 

Use 1. It showeth who are Christ’s, they that are like him; there is a.conformity between them and Christ, first in grace, and then in glory. Here we are like him in soul, in regard of disposition and moral excellences, and in body, in regard of afflictions and weaknesses. Hereafter we shall be like him in soul and body in a glorious manner; here in holiness, hereafter in happiness. He beginneth with the change of the soul; the resurrection is παλιγγενεσία, a regeneration, Matthew 19:28. Then we shall be perfectly renewed; our carnality is done away by grace, our corruption and mortality by glory. All things are there made new, new bodies, new souls. Glory, it is but the full period of the present change and transformation into Christ’s image: {Page 57} 2 Corinthians 3:18, ‘We are changed into the same image, from glory to glory.’ Glory is but the consummation of grace, or our full conformity to Christ, or that final estate which is suitable to the dignity of the children of God. Therefore every one that looketh for eternal life in Christ, must be like him in this life; they are partakers with him of glory hereafter, because followers of him here. Therefore see, art thou like Christ? hast thou the image of Christ? that is our title. Alas! many are not conformable, but contrary to Christ. Christ spent whole nights in prayer, they in gaming and filthy excess; it was meat and drink to him to do his Father’s will, but it is your burden. Christ was humble and meek, you are proud and disdainful, vain in apparel and behaviour. Were you ever changed? Till you resemble Christ here, you shall never be like him hereafter. 

Use 2. It presseth us to look after this conformity and likeness unto Christ. It is the ground of hope; you cannot otherwise think of death and judgment to come without horror: 1 John 4:17, ‘Herein is love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, so are we in the world.’ David was not ashamed to own his followers when he was crowned at Hebron, so neither will Christ be ashamed of us if we have followed him. If you profess Christ, and be not like him, Christ will be ashamed of you: Hebrews 2:11, ‘For both he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.’ He is not ashamed to own the saints: if one of your name were stigmatised, and branded with a mark of infamy, you would be ashamed to own him. To this end: — 

[1.] Eye your pattern. Christ’s life should be ever before your eyes, as the copy is before the scholars: Hebrews 12:2, ‘Looking unto Jesus,’ &c. He hath set forth himself in the word to this end and purpose. 

[2.] Often shame thyself that thou comest so much short: Philippians 3:12, ‘1 follow after, if I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Jesus Christ.’ Alas! we do but lag behind; Christ is a great way before. We have so excellent a pattern, that we may never want matter for humiliation and imitation. It is a good sign to desire to come nearer the copy every day. 

2. Observe our glory for substance is the same that Christ’s is. In the degree there is a difference, according to the difference that is between head and members. The head weareth the crown and badge of honour, and the eldest son had a double portion. So doth Christ πρωτεύειν, excel in degrees of everlasting glory, but the substance is the same; therefore we are said to be ‘co-heirs with Christ,’ and ‘to be glorified with Christ,’ Romans 8:17. Christ and we bold the same heaven: 2 Timothy 2:11, 12, ‘If we be dead with him, we shall also live with him. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him.’ More particularly, our bodies are like bis glorious body: Philippians 3:21, ‘Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself.’ When the sun ariseth, the stars vanish, their glory is obscured; but it is not so here. Christ’s coming doth not eclipse, but perfect our glory; the more near Christ is, the more we shine. And so for our souls, they see God and enjoy him; though not in that same {Page 58} latitude and degree which Christ doth, yet in the same manner they solace themselves in God: ‘We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,’ 1 John 3:2. When we behold him in the glass of the gospel we are transformed, much more when we see him as he is. As the iron held in the fire is all fire, so we, being in God and with God, are more like him, have higher measures of the divine nature. So our privileges are the same with Christ’s: Revelation 3:21, ‘To him that over-cometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne’ We sit upon his throne as he doth upon his Father’s; there are two thrones mentioned for our distinct conceiving of the matter; as God is over all, so is Christ, and then we next. 

Use 1. It is a great comfort: — 

Against abasement. Will any one believe that these poor creatures, that are so slighted, and so little esteemed in the world, shall have the same glory that Christ hath? 1 John 3:2, ‘Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.’ The world thinketh meanly and contemptibly of the condition of Christians; in the world we are like him in afflictions, by that means we hold forth the life of Christ, 2 Corinthians 4:10, ‘Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.’ 

Against weaknesses and infirmities of the flesh; those saints that have now so many infirmities shall be made like Christ, and crowned with perfection. There is nothing less than grace at the beginning, it is as a grain of mustard-seed, a little leaven; but it groweth still, as a child groweth in favour more and more, and as the light increaseth to the perfect day. This should comfort us against all our weaknesses and infirmities: Psalm 17:15, ‘As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness.’ 

Use 2. It informeth us: — 

That our condition in Christ is in this regard better than our condition would have been if Adam had stood in innocency. Adam could only convey to us what he had received; but Christ is a better root; we have in Christ whatever we lost in Adam, the first root, and more, more than we lost. Christ, being God-man, must needs have the image of God in greater perfection; now we are not renewed to the image of the first Adam, hut of the second. Oh! the depth of the divine mercy and wisdom, that hath made our fall to be a means of our preferment! 

It informeth us what we may look for, even for what Christ is in glory; we have a glimpse of it in his transfiguration, in his giving the law. Let our thoughts be more explicit about this matter. 

Use 3. It is an engagement to holiness. We expect to be as Christ is, therefore let us not carry ourselves sordidly, like swine wallowing in the mire: 1 John 3:3, ‘And he that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.’ We expect a sinless state, not a Turkish paradise. That body that is made an instrument of whoredom and drunkenness, shall it be like Christ’s glorious body? Those affections that shall be ravished with the enjoyment of God, shall they be prostituted to the -world? and that mind which is made for the {Page 59} sight of God, serve only to make provision for the flesh? shall it be filled with chaff and vanity? 

3. Observe that glory is the fruit of union, as well as grace. The spiritual union is begun here, but it is accomplished in the next life. Here we are crucified, quickened, ascend, and sit down with Christ in heavenly places: Ephesians 2:5, 6, ‘Even when we were dead in sins hath he quickened us together with Christ, and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus;’ Colossians 1:27, ‘Christ in you the hope of glory.’ Christ in us will not leave till he bringeth us to heaven. In this life we cannot come to him; the state of mortality is a state of absence; therefore Christ will come to us, but with an intent to bring us to himself, that we may be where he is: John 17:24, ‘Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.’ He cometh to us where we are, that at length we may be where he is. It is the Lord’s method to bring us from death to life, from misery to happiness, by degrees; thousands of years cannot make up that which was lost in an hour; till the resurrection all is not perfected, we do not fully discern the fruits of our union with Christ. 

Use 1. To help us to conceive of the mystery of union. Some men fancy that as soon as we are united to Christ we are actually glorified in this life. It is true Christ is equally united to them upon earth as to them in heaven; he that reigneth with the church triumphant fighteth with the church militant; but there is a difference in the degree of influence and dispensation. In the blessings that he conferreth upon them, he respects their different condition, and poureth out of his own fulness as they are able to bear. The reason of this different influence is, because they are conveyed to us voluntarily, not by necessity: Philippians 2:13, ‘It is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure.’ He gives more or less comfort, grace, joy, as he pleaseth; his grace floweth into his members, not by a necessity of nature, but according to his own pleasure. Give him leave to handle his mystical body as he handled his natural body. His natural body grew by degrees, and the capacity of his human soul was enlarged by degrees, else how could he ‘increase in wisdom as well as stature’? Luke 2:40. There was a perfect union between the divine and human nature at first, yet the divine nature manifested itself by degrees, not in such a latitude in childhood as in grown age. So though there is a perfect union between Christ and the soul at first conversion, yet the influence of grace and comfort is given out according to the measure of our capacity. All believers upon earth are united to Christ, yet all have not a like degree of manifestation and influence. As all the members of the body are united to the same head, and animated by the same soul, yet all the members grow according to the measure of a part; we cannot expect a finger should be as big as an arm. So all that are united to Christ receive influences according to their capacities; those that are glorified, glorious influences; those that are militant, influences proper to their state. 

Use 2. It serveth to quicken those that arc united to Christ to look for greater things than they do yet enjoy: John 1:50, ‘Thou shalt see greater things than these;’ another manner of union and {Page 60} communion with God through Christ. There is a mighty difference between our communion with God here and there. The saints in heaven have union with God by sight, as the saints on earth by faith, 2 Corinthians 5:7, ‘For we walk by faith, not by sight;’ and faith cannot go so high as feeling and fruition. Now we are unfit for converse with God, because of our blindness and darkness, as men of weak parts are not fit company for the strong. But then our faculties are more enlarged. Grace regulates the faculty, but it doth not alter and change the faculty. God’s communications are more full and free, and we are more receptive. Here we have dark souls and weak bodies; the old bottles would break if filled with the new wine of glory. At Christ’s transfiguration, ‘the disciples were astonished, and fell on their faces,’ Matthew 17:6; but in heaven, the sight of Christ’s glory will be ravishing, no terror. Here we are amazed at the sight of an angel; but there is a perfect suitableness between us and God, and therefore a more perfect union and communion. God more delighteth in the saints, as having more of his image; and the saints more delight in God, as being freed from sin. God loveth to look on what he hath made when he hath raised a worm to such an excellency. It is there continued without interruption; here our communion with God is sweet, but short, it cometh by glimpses; but there it is for ever and ever, not only in regard of duration, but continuance without ceasing. The Spirit of God came on Samson at times. In heaven there is nothing to divert us from the sight of God; we are withdrawn from all other objects, that we may study him alone without weariness 

Use 3. It directeth us in what order we should seek these things; first grace, then glory: Psalm 84:11, ‘The Lord will give grace and glory;’ Psalm 73:24, ‘Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory;’ Ephesians 5:26, 27, ‘That he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water, by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.’ Here the first lineaments are drawn by the Spirit of sanctification, whilst the soul remaineth in the body, as a pledge of a more perfect state: ‘God hath called us to glory and virtue,’ 2 Peter 1:3. As they were to go through the temple of virtue to the temple of honour. 

4. Observe, there is no privilege which we have but what Christ enjoyed first. Christ had it all, and from him we have it; he was the purchaser and the natural heir; it is in us at the second-hand; we are elected, sanctified, glorified in and through him. Whatever is in us that are members, it is in our head first; first God, then Christ as mediator, and then we. All good is first in Christ, he receiveth it, and conveyeth it. We ascend; why? because he ascended first; we sit in heavenly places, because he did first. 

Use 1. In times of desertion, when we see nothing in ourselves, look upon Christ as a depositary, the first receptacle of grace; he is justified, sanctified, ascended, glorified; and encourage thyself to take hold of Christ, that thou mayest have all these things in him. 

Use 2. To be thankful to God for Christ: ‘Blessed be the God {Page 61} and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, ‘Ephesians 1:3. Let us never bless God for what we enjoy, but still remember Christ. 

Use 3. It presseth us to get a union with Christ: 1 Corinthians 3:22, 23, ‘All are yours, for you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s;’ that we may not look on Christ as an abstracted head. All that Christ hath, he hath it for us. 

5. Observe from those words, ‘I have given them;’ it may be objected that we see no such matter; Christ’s members are poor despicable dust and ashes, more afflicted than others. How then can it be said, This glory ‘I have given them’? Ans. Christ hath acquired a right. Observe, the glory that is given to us by Christ is as surely ours as if we were in the actual possession of it: John 3:36, ‘He that believeth on the Son of God hath everlasting life.’ How hath he it? 

[1.] He hath it in capite: it is done in regard of Christ, with whom . we make one mystical body. The most worthy part of the body is in heaven, the head is there: Ephesians 2:6, ‘And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ.’ We are already glorified in Christ, though not in ourselves. Christians take possession in their head, as Christ hath taken possession in their names. 

[2.] They have it in the promises. The promise is the root of the blessing; you have a fair charter to show for it. God standeth bound in point of promise. God is very tender of his word; you will see it in all the other promises when you put him to trial. The promise of God is but the declaration of his purpose: Hebrews 6:17, 18, ‘Wherein God willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, ye may have strong consolation.’ You have a lease to show for it; a mau doth not carry his inheritance upon his back. 

[3.] They have the first-fruits of it, which differ only in degree from glory: Romans 8:23, ‘And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit; even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.’ We have the earnest in hand. That portion of the Spirit which we have received is given us for security. Wherefore this fitting and preparing, these groans, are grounds of confidence. If a vessel be formed, it is for some use. All this would else be lost. And do you think God will lose his earnest? The beginnings we have here are a taste and pledge; here we sip, and have a foretaste of the cup of blessing. Union with Christ, joys of the Spirit, peace of conscience, are the beginnings of heaven. They that live in the provinces next to Arabia have a strong scent of the odours and sweet smells of the spices that grow there; so the church is the suburbs of heaven; the members of it begin to smell the upper paradise. The comfortable influences of the Spirit are the taste, and the gracious influences are the pledge and earnest, of our future inheritance. 

Use 1. Let us bless God aforehand: 1 Peter 1:3-5, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus .Christ, which, according to his {Page 62} abundant mercy, hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.’ The inheritance is kept for us, and we for it. We can never want matter to bless God; if we have nothing in hand, yet we have much in hope. 

Let us wait with more confidence; we have no cause to doubt; we have God’s word and pawn; as sure as Christ is in heaven, we shall be there. 

Let us be there in affection, in earnest groans and desires, in frequent thoughts: Romans 8:30, ‘Whom he did predestinate, them lie also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 

Let us not fear changes; all changes will end in that which is best for us.

Vol 11.—Sermon 37.—John 17:21.—That they all may he one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

posted 12 Apr 2014, 14:12 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 12 Apr 2014, 14:25 ]

'Sermons upon the Seventeenth Chapter of St John'

Sermon 37. — John 17:21. — That they all may he one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Having proved the point, I shall examine why Christ should be so {Page 44} earnest to have the world convinced, that he should put this into his prayer, ‘That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.’ The reasons are, partly in respect of himself, partly in respect of the elect, partly in respect of the world. First, In respect of himself. 

It is much for Christ’s honour that even his enemies should have some esteem of him, and some conviction of his worth and excellency. Praise and esteem in the mouth of an enemy is a double honour, more than in the mouth of a friend. The commendations of a friend may seem the mistakes of love, and their value and esteem may proceed from affection rather than judgment. Now it is for the honour of God and Christ that his enemies speak well of him, and that they give an approbation to the gospel. Many spake highly of God that never received him for their God. Nebuchadnezzar was forced to confess, Daniel 2:47, ‘Of a truth it is that your God is a God of gods, and Lord of kings;’ Deuteronomy 32:31, ‘Their rock is not as our rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.’ His enemies speak well of him. The church commendeth God, as they have cause, ‘Who is like unto the Lord our God in all the world?’ But now they might seem partial, and therefore God will extort praise from his enemies; those that are apt to think of Christ as an impostor and seducer shall see the reality of their religion. It was an honour to Christianity ‘that the people magnified the apostles,’ though they had not a heart to run all hazards with them, Acts 5:13. 

It is for the clearing of his process at the last day. The heathens, being convinced by God’s works, are ἀναπολόγητοι, ‘without excuse,’ Romans 1:20; ‘God hath not left himself without a witness,’ Acts 14:17. So those that live within the sound of the gospel, though they do not come under the power and dominion of the Christian faith, yet they have such a conviction of it as shall tend to their condemnation at the great day. All those ‘whom the Lord arraigns at the last day, ‘they will all be speechless,’ and have nothing to say for themselves, Matthew 22:12. At the day of judgment our mouths will be stopped, as being condemned in our own conscience; then the books shall be opened; and one of the books opened is in the malefactor’s keeping, the sinner’s conscience; they are αὐτοκατάκριτοι. God’s providence is justified by the conviction of their own hearts. It is a question which is the greatest torment, the terribleness of the sentence which shall be passed upon wicked men, or the righteousness of it. You know the apostle tells you,’ When the Lord Jesus shall come in flames of fire, to render vengeance to the world,’ 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8, there are two sorts of persons he shall meet with, — ’ Them that know not God, ‘- that is, heathens, which did not take up what they might know of God from the course of nature, from the knowledge of their eye and ear; and ‘Them that obey not the gospel,’ them that lived within the sound of the gospel, and heard much of it; they were convinced, they had some kind of knowledge and belief of it, yet they would not let their hearts be subject, and give up themselves to it. It clears the Lord’s process; if men continue ignorant and opposite to the grace of the gospel, by this means they are left without excuse; therefore, that he might be clear when he judgeth, the world shall be {Page 45} convinced and brought to a temporal persuasion ‘that thou hast sent me;’ the old conviction that remaineth with them shall justify God. 

Secondly, With respect to the elect; for all is for the elect’s sake. The world would not stand if it were not for their sakes. Time would be at an end hut that God hath some:more that are not called, and the number of the elect is not fully accomplished. When all the passengers are taken in, the ship launcheth forth into the main; so we should all launch forth into the ocean of eternity if all the elect were taken in. He prays with respect to them, ‘that the world may believe.’ How doth this concern them? 

Their conviction conduceth to others’ conversion. Many of the Samaritans possibly would not believe if Simon Magus, their great leader, had not been convinced: Acts 8:10, ‘To him they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God.’ If the word can gain such a one but to the conviction of the truth, though he be an enemy to it in his heart, yet it is a mighty means to further the conversion of the elect. The conviction of the world, it is a rational inducement, it is a door by which the gospel entereth. It is no small advantage that Christianity hath gotten such esteem as to be made the public profession of the nations; that potentates have counted it the fairest flower in their crown to be styled the defender of the faith, the catholic king, the most Christian king. By all kind of means is this to be promoted, to bring men to a general confession. Though it be no great benefit to them as to the world to come, yet it is a help to the elect, that they are under such a conviction; for if Christianity were still counted a novel doctrine, a hated doctrine, and were publicly hated, maligned, opposed, and persecuted, what would become of it? 

For the safety of the church. Though God doth not change their natures, yet he breaketh their fierceness, that they may not be such bitter enemies; and so persecution is restrained; and when there is a restraint, and he ties their hands by conviction, we enjoy the more quiet. Alas! what wolves and tigers would we be to one another if the awe of conviction and the restraints of conscience were taken off! We owe very much of our safety, not to visible force and power, but to the spiritual conviction that is on the hearts of men, by which God bridles in the corrupt and ill-principled world, that they cannot find in their hearts so much to molest it as otherwise their natures would carry them to, but that the gospel may have a free course, and the gathering of the elect may not be hindered; for God’s conviction is the bridle he hath upon them, to keep them from doing hurt; though they bo not converted, yet they shall be convinced. Acts v., Gamaliel being convinced, the apostles obtained liberty of preaching; Pliny, moved by the piety of Christians, obtained a mitigation of the persecution from Trajan; and such halcyon days might we expect if Christians would walk more suitable to the privileges of the mystical union; they would dart a great deal of reverence in the minds of men, and would be more safe than they are; for when the wall of visible protection is broken down, a Christian merely subsists by the awe that is upon the consciences of men. Wicked carnal men, as they have a slavish fear of God, which is accompanied with hatred of God, so the; {Page 46} have a slavish fear of the saints, only their hatred is greater than their fear. When you abate of the majesty of your conversation, and behave not yourselves as those that are taken into the mystical body of Christ, and have the communion of the Spirit, when you do not walk up suitably to your spiritual life and privileges, then the hatred of your enemies is increased, and their fear lessened; whereas otherwise their fear which ariseth from thence is a mighty restraint. How often are we disappointed when we expect to beat down opposite factions by strife and power! More good is done by conviction, and the church hath greater security and peace, when they subsist by their own virtue, rather than by force of arms. I remember, in ecclesiastical history, when Valens the Emperor railed against all the defenders of the godhead of Christ, he did not meddle with Paulinus, out of reverence to him, for he was a very holy strict man; none durst lay hands upon him. 

Many times they profess and join to the church, and so we have benefit by their gifts and abilities, authority and power; for God doth his church a great deal of good by carnal men. Conviction may bring them as far as profession; and the temporary faith of a magistrate, though carnal, may be a protection to Christianity; as a hedge of thorns may be a good fence about a garden of roses. If they are men of parts, they may help to defend the Christian doctrine, as a living tree may be supported by a dead post; and the gifts of carnal men are for the use of the body, as the Gibeonites joined to Israel, and were made hewers of wood and drawers of water; or as the carpenters who helped to build Noah’s ark perished in the flood; or as negroes that dig in the mines of knowledge. God may employ them to bring up that which may be of great use and profit to the world; they may help to build an art. for others, though they themselves perish in the water. We would not refuse gold from a dirty hand, neither are we to slight the benefit of carnal men’s parts; for the common profession of Christianity that they are under, though they are slaves to their lusts, yet it is a real benefit and help to the saints. 

They serve for a warning to the saints. When this conviction is strong upon them, and grows to a height, by the stings of conscience and horrors of them that die in despair, God warneth his people. Though we would hear off the stroke, yet God knows how soon this fire may be kindled in our own breasts; when men sec what convictions will do, being stifled and not complied with, and men live not according to their light, it is a warning to others. As a slave is many times beaten to warn a son of his father’s displeasure, and naturalists tell us a lion will tremble to see a dog beaten before him; so do the children of God tremble at the convictions of wicked men. Oh! the horrors of their conscience declare what God hath wrought upon them, though few take little notice of it. 

Thirdly, In respect to the world itself, this conviction serveth both to lessen and increase their judgment. The terms seem to be opposite. 

1. Sometimes to lessen their judgment. Certainly the degrees of eternal punishment are not equal; there is περισσότερον κρίμα, Matthew 23:14, ‘a greater judgment;’ there is a hotter and a cooler hell; there are few stripes, and many stripes. In the world to come, ‘it is more {Page 47} tolerable for some than for others,’ Matthew 12:41. The condition of the Ninevites was made more tolerable by the conviction wrought by Jonah’s preaching, because there was a temporal repentance; they humbled themselves for a while, though they were frighted to this religiousness. Aristides, Cato, and other moral heathens, their condition will be more tolerable than those men that live in a way of brutish and filthy excess. So there are many convinced that have helped the church, and been friendly to religion; when others have oppressed and opposed the ways of God, they have been a hiding-place, a shelter, a countenance, a protection to the people of God; these shall not lose their reward: they have many blessings in this world, though they continue carnal, and live and die in their sins. I suppose the more they comply with these convictions, their condemnation shall be lessened, though not taken away. This advantage they have, ut mitius ardeant, they shall have a cooler hell. 

2. Sometimes to increase their judgment. Those that maliciously oppose this conviction, they hasten their own condemnation, and heighten it. Then it will be a sin to them with a witness, when they knew their master’s will and did it not: James 4:17, ‘Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.’ They carry this conviction to hell with them, and it is a part of their torment; this is the worm that never dies. Oh! what a terror will it be for them to think, I had a better estate discovered to me; I knew somewhat of the ways of God; and now I am shut out for ever and ever! There is ‘a worm that never dies,’ as well as ‘a fire that shall never be quenched,’ Mark 9:44. There may be a conviction, so much as to enable a man to speak to others, yet he may be a worker of iniquity, and cast out of Christ’s presence. How will this increase their torment! Their knowledge serveth but to damn them the more. The characters are indelible, and are not extinguished by death. To all other torments there is added the gnawing of conscience. Look, as in the elect there is such a spark kindled as shall never be extinguished; their knowledge they get here is not abolished, but perfected, and the joys of the Spirit begin their heaven; a witnessing excusing conscience to the elect is the beginning of heaven; so in hell, conscience will be always raging and expostulating with you — 0 fool that I was, to neglect so great salvation which others enjoy! If I had lived civilly at least, it had been better with mc than now it is. As they know more of God than others do, so their judgment will accordingly be greater. And you know not how soon God may kindle this fire in your bosoms, who for the present sleep on carelessly in your sins. 

Use 1. This may serve to persuade us that the conviction of the world is a great blessing, and condenceth much to the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, without any visible force, with mere spiritual weapons, in despite of all opposition which can be made thereunto. The corrupt and ill-principled world cannot stand out against the evidence of the truth, when it is soundly preached, and in the demonstration of the Spirit. Wo have too slight an opinion of the weapons of our spiritual warfare, 2 Corinthians 10:4, ‘The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God for the pulling down of strongholds.’ Surely they are more mighty to pull down strongholds than {Page 48} we are aware of. The Spirit of the Lord, though he will not convert, yet can so put to silence, and bridle the opposition that carnal men make, that it shall be ineffectual. It concerneth God in honour to go thus far on with the world for the promoting of his kingdom, and that they may not go on with a high hand to oppose and crush it. And this doth also evince the truth of the Christian religion, such convictions accompanying the preaching of it. And God doth not wholly discontinue this dispensation now. There are ordinary operations of the Spirit, where the gospel is preached, which do convince the world. The careless professor owns the same creed, the same Bible, and the same baptism, and that is a mighty help and advantage. 

Use 2. It informeth us of the love and care of Christ; he would omit no blessing that conduceth to the church’s good. He would have those convinced whom he doth not convert, that we may have no stumbling-block in our way to heaven. It was a question, ‘Have any of the rulers believed in him?’ John 7:48. Alas! when the powers of the world are against the people of God, the world is apt to think hard of Christ, and many stumble at this rock of offence. Now, that we may have the help of their power, and authority, and countenance, and the gifts of carnal men, the Lord will put them under some conviction of the truth of Christianity. Christ would not only give us the benefit of our fellow-saints, but of carnal hypocrites, as the moon hath no light in itself, yet it giveth light to others; though they have no grace in their hearts, yet they have notable parts, and they do a great deal of good, and that our pilgrimage might not be wholly uncomfortable. If all the world were divided into two ranks, as Jeremiah’s basket of figs, Jeremiah 24., were either very good or very naught, there were no living in the world, if all were pagans or Christians. No; some must come under a temporary faith, that the people of God may live more commodiously. It is the wisdom of providence that there is a middle party, that are as a screen between the extremely wicked and the saints; they are not so bad as the worst, because they are convinced more, though not converted. Christians! in Christ all things are ours, not only the elect, who are our companions and fellows in the same grace, but also the reprobates are ours. The more civil and convinced sort of the world are for our good, and do much serve the uses of the church; and the worst sort of reprobates serve for our exercise and trial, for the awakening more serious grace in us by their oppositions, and for the heightening our privileges; the more evil they are, the more cause have we to bless a good God that hath made us better.

Use 3. It presseth us not to slight, nor yet to rest in these convictions, and in this temporary faith.

1. l)o not slight your convictions and remorses of conscience. Though all convinced men are not converted, yet there are none converted but they are first convinced. A temporary faith, taken up upon common inducements, makes way for a saving faith; as the priming of a post makes it receptive of better colours. Whereas, on the other side, slighted convictions, though you smother them now, will be felt another day; it is but a wound skinned over, and slightly healed, that festers into a dangerous sore. Twenty years were past, {Page 49} and there was no remembrance of Joseph; but when his brethren were in distress, conscience wrought: Genesis 42:21, ‘And they said one to another, We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear him; therefore is this distress come upon us;’ they were convinced of some wrong done to him. Convictions are forgotten, smothered, neglected; conscience speaketh no more, but it writeth when it doth not speak; and when the mists of the soul are a little cleared and scattered, all is legible; that which they thought was forgotten cometh to light, and those old convictions break out with violence, to our horror and trouble; therefore slight them not.

2. Do not rest in these convictions. Thus it may be with reprobates; they may be convinced of the best way, almost persuaded, but not altogether. The young man was not far from the kingdom of heaven; he was near, but never entered. Some civil men are upon the borders of grace. Do not rest in this estate.

How shall I know I am only convinced, and not converted to God? Ans. Thus: — 

If sin be discovered, but not mortified; if there be no endeavour to get it removed. As a March sun raiseth aguish vapours, but cannot scatter them, as when the sun gets up into its height, so conviction discovers sin, but doth not help us to mortify it: Romans 7:9, ‘For I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.’

When we have wishes, but no practice, slight and cold desires. Oh! when shall this sensual heart be made heavenly! this worldly heart put into a better frame! But no serious looking after it, nor waiting upon God, that we may obtain those things we desire. Balaam had his wishes and good moods: Numbers 23:10, ‘Oh, that I might die the death of the righteous! and that my latter end may be like his!’ Vellent sed nolunt; they would and they would not — empty velleities. They would fain have grace, but they will not be at the cost of continual attending upon God till he work it in their hearts. And they are ineffectual glances; wishing without working obtains nothing. These are like early blossoms in the spring, that put forth lustily, but are soon nipped, and never come to fruit.

Negatives without positives. Men do not hate Christ, nor the people of God; but do they love them? 1 Corinthians 16:22, ‘If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ,’ &c. It is not enough not to hate Christ, but are your hearts carried towards him? So many do not oppose the ministry of the gospel. Ay! but they neglect the message of the gospel, they content themselves with a few flying thoughts about Christ, heaven, and the blessed things that are to come, like the glance of the sunbeam upon a wave: Hebrews 2:3, ‘How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?’ It is not said, If we contemn, resist, undermine it. No; they are not of that rank, but they are of a more plausible rank and sort of people; they would countenance the profession of godliness, but neglect the duties of it. There are two sorts of men — some are well-willers to good things, some open malicious persecutors. In some, natural hatred is more allayed, though all hate it, but there is a despite in neglect; as the neglect of things worthy {Page 50} and great argue a scorn and contempt, as well as the malicious refusal. To be neutral and cold, indifferent to God and sin, is to be an enemy.

There is an inward approbation many times, without an outward profession, or without such a constitution of soul as to choose these things for our portion. Alas! many that are convinced approve things that are excellent: Romans 2:18, ‘Thou knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;’ Acts 5:13, ‘And of the rest durst no man join himself to them; but the people magnified them.’’ An honourable esteem they had, but they could not endure the severity of discipline, as being afraid because of the case of Ananias, who paid so dearly for a little dissembling. So many are not far from the kingdom of God; they approve things that are good, but they have no mind to take hazard and lot with Christ.

If there should be a profession, there is no power. The net draws bad fish as well as good. There are mixtures in the church. Many revere godliness, but were never acquainted with the virtue and power of it. Many have an excellent model of truth, and make a profession as plausible and glorious in the world as possibly you can desire; yet they never knew the virtue of this religion, it never entered into their heart: 1 Corinthians 4:20, ‘For the kingdom of God is not in word,’ stands not in plausible pretences, ‘but in power;’ 1 Thessalonians 1:5, ‘For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power.’ You know the state of men were represented by Christ in the parable of the two sons: Matthew 21:28-30, ‘A certain man had two sons, and he came to the first, and said, Son, go to work to-day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterwards he repented and went. And he went to the second, and said likewise: and he answered and said, I go sir, and went not.’ Oh! there be many that say, ‘I will go,’ that pretend fair, that are convinced so far as to make a profession, yet never bring their hearts seriously to addict themselves to God, to walk in his ways and keep his charge; there is no real change of heart, no serious bent of soul towards God.

6. If there be some real motions, as there may be in temporary believers, for we must not think all is hypocritical, yet it is not entire: Mark 6:20, ‘Herod did many things, and heard John Baptist gladly.’ His heart and his profession went a great way together, till he was to part with his bosom lust. John was safe till he touched upon his Herodias; then conviction grows furious, and he turneth into a devil. Therefore take heed of mere conviction.

Use 4. To press the children of God to express such fruits of their union with Christ that they may convince the world. Christ prays not only that the world may be convinced, but that it might be hy those that are real members of his mystical body, that they may have a hand to further it. What are the fruits of the mystical union, that you may convince the world?

1. Love and mutual serviceableness to one another’s good. When we live as members of the same body, that have a mutual care for one another, then we shall bring a mighty honour and credit to religion, and can with power give testimony to the truths of Christ: {Page 51} Acts 2:44, ‘And all that believed were together, and had all things common.’ When Christians were of one mind and heart, they had all things common. Oh! it is a mighty convincing thing when all those that profess godliness labour to carry on the same truths and practices. Divisions breed atheism in the world. The Lord Jesus knew it, and therefore he prays, ‘Let them be all one, &c., that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.’ We never propagate the faith so much as by this union. Divisions put a great stop to the progress of truth. When contrary factions mutually condemn one another, it is a wonder any are brought off from their vain conversations. The world is apt to think there is no such thing as religion, and one sort is no better than another; they see the world cannot agree about it, therefore they stay where they are.

Holiness and strictness of life and conversation; there is a convincing majesty in it; natural conscience doth homage to it wherever it findeth it; therefore live as those who are taken up into fellowship with God through Christ. Herod feared John Baptist. Why? Because he was a strict preacher? No; but because he was a just man, Mark 6:20. When you live thus holily, and ‘accomplish the work of faith with power.’ then the Lord Jesus is ‘glorified in you,’ 2 Thessalonians 1:11, 12.

When you can contemn the baits of the world, and allurements of sense, this is a mighty argument to convince the world that you have higher and nobler principles you are acted by, and better hopes you are called to. Though you have not divested and put off the interests of flesh and blood, for you are not angels, yet yon can be faithful to God and Christ. The world admireth what kind of temper men are made of: 1 Peter 4:4, ‘They think it strange that you run not with them into all excess of riot.’ They have the same interests and concernments, and yet how mortified! how weaned are they from those tilings which others go a-whoring after! Sure they have a felicity which the world knoweth not of; they dread and admire this, though they hate you.

A cheerfulness and comfortableness in the midst of troubles and deep wants, when you can live above your condition, ‘take joyfully the spoiling of our goods,’ Hebrews 10:34, and bear losses with an equal mind; for you are not much troubled with these things; then you live as those that are called to a higher happiness.

To be more faithful in the duties of your relations. The fruits of the mystical union run to every part of the spiritual life. None commend their religion so much as those that make conscience of the duties of their relations, that they may carry themselves as becomes Christians, husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants. So poor servants make the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ comely: Titus 2:10, ‘That ye may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.’ And the apostle saith, men that do not obey the word, may without the word be won by the conversation of their wives, 1 Peter 3:1. Worldly men have been much gained by the lives of religious persons. Thus you propagate the truth by carrying yourselves usefully in your relations. This hath been ever the glory of religion, as it was in the primitive times. Austin makes this {Page 52} challenge, Ubi tales imperatures? &c. Let all the religions in the world show such emperors, such captains, such armies, such managers of public treasury, as the Christian religion. The world was convinced there was something divine in them. Oh! it is pity the glory of religion should fall to the ground in our days, and that the quite contrary should be said: None such careless parents as those that seem to be touched with a sense of religion! None so disobedient to magistrates, none such disobedient children to parents, as those that seem to be called to liberty with Christ! Therefore, if you would honour Christ, and propagate the truth, keep up this testimony and convince the world.

6. A constancy in the profession of faith. You should live as if Christ and you had one common interest. Sure they believe Christ was sent from God, and able to reward them, else why should they sacrifice all their interests for his sake? It is said, Revelation 12:11, ‘The saints overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death.’ Religion had never thrived, and spread its branches far and near, had it not been watered by the blood of the martyrs. Christ began and watered the plant by his own blood; and then the martyrs kept watering it till it began to be rooted and had got some esteem in the world; and now it spreads its boughs, and yields a shadow and refreshing to the far greatest part of the world. When men take up principles that will not warrant suffering, or are changeable and pliable to all interests, and wriggle and distinguish themselves out of their duty upon all occasions, it doth mightily dishonour Christ, and make religion vile, and harden the world, and feed their prejudices against the truth. What is the reason the ways of God have so little honour in the eyes of the world, so little power upon the hearts of men? Professors are so fickle and changeable, this maketh them suspect all, and so return to their old superstitions and vanities.

Now, that you may do so, I shall bind it upon you by some further considerations.

1. Consider you are God’s witnesses to keep up truth in the world, to bring them on to conversion, or at least to some temporary faith: Isaiah 43:10, ‘Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am he.’ God appealeth to those that have most communion with him, for the truth and reality of his grace. If a man would be satisfied in a thing that lie knoweth not, to whom should he go for satisfaction but to those that have most experience? Well, if the world would be satisfied is union with Christ a notion or" a real thing, ye are my witnesses, 2 Corinthians 3:3, ‘Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ.’ In an epistle a man writes his mind. The scriptures they are Christ’s epistle, and so are Christians. The world, that will not study the scriptures, are to be convinced and preparatively induced by your lives. Every Christian is to be a walking Bible. It is a dangerous temptation to atheism when Christians, that pretend themselves near and dear to God, are scandalous, and let loose the reins to every corrupt affection. He that took a Christian in an act of filthiness cried out, Christiane! ubi Deus tuus. In the scripture there is Christ’s mind in words; in a Christian there is Christ’s mind written in deeds in his {Page 53} conversation. You are to be a living reproof; as ‘Noah condemned the world by preparing an ark,’ Hebrews 11:7. There was something in it, when he was so busy in preparing an ark, with so great cost and charge; it was a real upbraiding of their security and carelessness; so when men are so diligent and busy in working out their salvation with fear and trembling, it is a real reproof to the carnal and lazy world.

Consider, if you do not convince the world, you justify the world; as Israel justified Sodom, Ezekiel 16:52. The wicked hold up their ways with greater pretence, and are hardened in their prejudices. You put an excuse into wicked men’s mouths. What a sad thing will it be when they shall say, Lord, we never thought they had been thy servants, they were so wrathful, proud, sensual, self-seeking, factious, turbulent, hunting after honours, and great places in the world: Romans 2:23, 24, ‘Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking of the law dishonourest thou God? for the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you.’ Carnal professors will blush at the last day, when they shall consider how many they have hardened by their examples, unsettled by their loose walking; how you have disgraced Christ, and taken up his name for a dishonour to him. It is this that makes the Hams of the world to laugh; you cannot gratify them more.

Consider the great good that cometh by it. For the present, you stop the mouth of iniquity: Titus 2:8, ‘That he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.’ It is the duty of Christians not only to approve themselves to God, but, as far as they can, to wicked men, to take off all advantage from the world, to confute their slanders, to muzzle the mouths of carnal men, that they may have no occasion to speak against the ways of God and the professors of Christianity. Carnal Christians open profane mouths; their slanders shall be put upon your score, who give them too much matter and occasion to speak. Do not say, They are dogs; what care I if they bark? The awe that is upon wicked men is one means of the church’s preservation; therefore you must justify wisdom: Matthew 11:19, ‘But wisdom is justified of her children.’ Justification is a relative word, it implieth condemnation; the world condemns the ways of God, and people of God, of fancy, fury, faction. Now yon must justify them; at least, you will leave them without excuse, and furnish matter for the triumphs of God’s justice at the last day, and so will have further cause to applaud the counsels of God, when you sit on the bench at the last day. For as in the last day you shall, together with Christ, judge the world by your vote and suffrage — 1 Corinthians 6:2, ‘Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world?’ — so now you must convince them by your conversations. It is a sad thing men walk so as it cannot be said, Where is the malefactor, and where is the judge? You should condemn them, as by the difference of your lives, so by the heavenliness of your hearts.

Vol 11.—Sermon 36.—John 17:21.—That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

posted 12 Apr 2014, 14:08 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 12 Apr 2014, 14:09 ]

'Sermons upon the Seventeenth Chapter of St John'

Sermon 36. — John 17:21. — That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

Secondly, I am now to handle the second branch, the pattern of this unity, ‘As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee.’ It is elsewhere compared three times in this chapter: John 17:11, ἐν, καθὼς ἡμεῖς, ‘that they may he one, as we are;’ John 17:22, καθὼς ἡμεῖς ἐν ἐσμεν, ‘that they may be one as we are one;’ and here, καθὼς σὺ πάτερ ἐν ἐμοὶ, κἀγὼ ἐν σοι, ‘as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee.’ They are not only one, hut in one another. It is that which divines call περιχώρησις, the intimate inhabitation or indwelling of the persons in one another, without any confusion of the several subsistences. Such is the unity of the divine essence, that the Father dwelleth in the Son, the Son subsisteth in the Father, and the Holy Spirit in both, without any confusion of the personalities. Now this is propounded as the pattern and original exemplar of the mystical union. The Arians conclude, out of this place, that there is not a unity of essence among the divine persons, but only a unity of love and concord, such l Qn. ‘living’? — Ed. 

{Page 33} as is between us and Christ, and among believers one with another; ὁμοιοῦσι, not ὁμοούσια. As doth not imply an exact equality, but only a similitude or answerable likeness. In the mystical union there is a kind of shadow and adumbration of that unity which is between the persons of the Godhead. So when man is said to be made after the similitude and likeness of God, it doth not imply a universal and exact equality, but only some conformity and similitude of men to God. So, ‘Be ye holy, as I am holy;’ ‘Be ye perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ It is good to note that in the letter of the text Christ separateth his own unity with the Father from that of the creatures. He doth not say, ‘Let us be all one;’ but, ‘Let them be all one.’ Again, he doth not say, ‘As thou art in us, and we in thee;’ but, ‘As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee.’ Hie suara potentiain, et Patris a nobis secerneret. Again, in the next clause, he doth not say, ‘One with us,’ but ‘in us.’ There is no common union wherein he and we agree. The note is — 

Doct. That, the mystical union carrieth some resemblance with the union that is between the Father and the Son. 

Here I shall show — (1.) The unity between God and Christ; (2.) Wherein the resemblance standeth. 

First, The unity between God and Christ. There is a twofold union between God and Christ. God is in him, and one with him, as the second person of the Trinity, and one in him as mediator. 

1. As he is the second person of the Trinity, there is a unity of essence, intimated by this περιχώρησις, or mutual inhabitation. Christ is not the Father, but in the Father; to confound the persons is Sabellianism; to divide the natures is Arianism. He doth not only say, ‘The Father is in him,’ but, ‘He is in the Father,’ to note a consubstantial unity, that they both communicate in the same essence. At once he showeth the distinction that is between the Father and the Son, and the unity of essence that is between them. And as they are one in essence, so one in power: John 10:28-30, ‘I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.’ They work by the same power. They are one in will and operation, their actions are undivided; what the Father doeth, the Son doeth, though by an operation proper to each person: John 5:19, ‘What things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.’ They are one in love; the Son lay in the bosom of the Father: John 1:18, ‘No man hath seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.’ It is a phrase that expresseth intimacy. There is a mutual complacency and delight in one another. They are equal in dignity and power, and must not be severed in worship: John 5:23, ‘That all men should honour the Son as they honour the Father: he that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.’ Thus God and Christ are one, as Christ is the second person. This is the great mystery, three and one, and one and three. Men and angels were made for this spectacle; we cannot comprehend it, and therefore must admire it. O luminosissimw tenebrce ! Light, {Page 34} darkness! God dwelleth in both; in light, to show the excellency of his nature; and in darkness, to show the weakness of our apprehension. The Son is begotten by the Father, yet is in the Father, and the Father in him; the Spirit proceedeth from them both, and yet is in both; all in each, and each in all. They were the more three because one, and the more one because three. Were there nothing to draw us to desire to be dissolved but this, it were enough: John 14:20, ‘At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.’ It is no small part of our portion in heaven. For the present, how much cause have we to bless God for the revelation of this mystery! Let us adore it with a humble faith, rather than search into it by the bold inquiries of reason. It is enough for us to know that it is so, though we know not how it is. God were not infinitely great if he were not greater than our understanding. 

2. Christ and God are one as mediator. There is a personal union of the two natures. The Father may be said to be in him, because the divine nature is in him; he is Emmanuel. In Christ there are two natures, but one person. His blood could not be the blood of God if the human nature were not united to the second person of the Trinity. It is so united that the human nature is the instrument. As the hand is man’s instrument, not separated from the communion of the body, as a pen or knife; it is man’s instrument, but yet a part of himself; so is Christ’s human nature joined to his divine nature, and made use of as the great instrument in the work of redemption. So that the human nature is a temple ‘in which the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily,’ Colossians 2:9. Now because of that union, the natures are in one another, and dwell in one another, as the soul dwelleth in the body, and the body is acted and enlivened by the soul. Hence the flesh of Christ is called the flesh of God, and the blood of Christ is called the blood of God: Acts 20:28, ‘Feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.’ God was made man, but not man made God; because God was a person of himself, that assumed flesh, and united it to himself. All his actions are the actions of God-man, and so have a merit and a value. The human nature is a passive instrument, but the divine nature giveth it a subsistence, necessary gifts, and honour. Besides all this, there is a union and consent of will in the work of redemption; the Father’s acts and Christ’s acts are commensurable; God loveth Christ, and Christ obeyeth God. 

Secondly, The resemblance between the mystical union and the unity of the persons in the divine nature. The Spirit is indissolubile trinitatis vinculum, as one saith, the eternal bond of the Trinity. So among believers, it is the Holy Ghost who joineth us to Christ. Christ, as one with the Father, liveth the same life that the Father doth; so do we, as one with Christ: John 6:57, ‘As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.’ It is a close union, beyond conception, but yet real; ours is also close, hard to be understood: John 14:20, ‘At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and you in me, and I in you.’ There is the highest love wherewith the Father and the Son love one another. Believers have a room in Christ’s {Page 35} heart, as Christ in the Father’s bosom; they love Christ again, that loved them first. The union is everlasting, for in the divine nature there can be no change; Christ’s mystical body cannot lose a joint. It is a holy union; be one as we are one, holy as we are holy; so must ours be with one another. An agreement in evil is like that of Herod and Pilate, who shook hands against Christ. In the divine persons there is order and distinction; the unity of the Trinity doth not confound the order of the persons; they are one, and still three, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, from whom, in whom, and to whom are all things; they keep their distinct personalities, and distinct personal operations. The unity of the church doth not confound the order of it; there are diversity of gifts and ministrations, but one body. The persons of the Godhead mutually seek the glory of one another; the election of the Father maketh way for the redemption of the Son; and the redemption of the Son for the application of the Holy Spirit, and so upward: John 16:14, ‘He shall glorify me, for lie shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you;’ and John 14:13, ‘And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son;’ Philippians 2:9, ‘Wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name.’ So in the spiritual union, Christ puts honour on the church, and the church honours Christ; they throw their crowns at the Lamb’s feet, and the members are careful of one another: 1 Corinthians 12:25, ‘That there be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care one of another.’ To endear us one to another, Christ did not only leave us the relation of brethren, but of fellow-members; we are not only in the same family, but in the same body. Brothers that have issued from the same womb, and been nursed with the same milk, have defaced all the feelings of nature, and been divided in interests and affections; Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, are sad precedents; but there is no such strife between members of the same body. Who would use one hand to cut off another? or divide those parts which preserve the mutual correspondence and welfare of the whole? At least, brothers have not such a care for one another; each liveth for himself, a distinct life apart, and studieth his own profit and advantage; but it is not so in the body, each member liveth in the whole, and the whole in all the members, and they all exercise their several functions for the common good. 

And the resemblance between the mystical and the personal union. In the hypostatical union, our nature is united with Christ’s nature; in the mystical union, our person with his person. In the hypo-statical union, Christ matched into our family; in the mystical union, the soul is the bride. It is an honour to the whole kindred when a great person matcheth into their line and family, but more to the virgin who is chosen and set apart for his bride. Thus Christ first honoured our nature, and then our persons; first he assumeth our nature, and then espouseth our persons. In the hypostatical union, two diverse substances are united into one person; in the mystical union, many persons are united into one body. In the hypostatical union, Christ was a person before he assumed the human nature; the body is a passive instrument, &c.; in the mystical union, on Christ’s {Page 36} part active, on ours passive. Christ is in us, in that he liveth in us, governeth us, maketh us partakers of his righteousness, life and spirit; we are in him, as brandies in the tree, rays in the sun, rivers in the fountain; The divine nature is a person by itself, and can subsist of itself; the other is only taken into the communion of his person. The human nature communicates nothing to the divine, but only serveth it as an instrument; so we communicate nothing to Christ, but receive all from him. Both are wrought by the Spirit; the body natural of Christ was begotten by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, so this union is wrought by God’s Spirit. By the first, Christ is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh; by the second, we are bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh; there cometh in the kindred by grace: Hebrews 2:11, ‘For both he that sanctifieth and they that are sanctified are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.1 He is of the same stock with all men, but he calleth none brethren but those that are sanctified; none else can claim kindred of Christ, he will own no others. The hypostatical union is indissoluble; it was never laid aside, not in death; it was the Lord of glory that was crucified, it was the body of Christ in the grave. So it is in the mystical union; Christ and we shall never be parted. In death, the union is dissolved between the body and the soul, but not between us and Christ; our dust and bones are members of Christ. In the hypostatical union, the natures are not equal; the human nature is but a creature, though advanced to the highest privileges that a creature is capable of; the divine nature assumed the human by a voluntary condescension and gracious dispensation; and being assumed, it always upholdeth it and sustaineth it; so there is a mighty difference between us and Christ, between the persons united. Christ, as head and prince, is pleased to call us into communion with himself, and to sustain us, being united. In the hypostatical union, the human nature can do nothing apart from the divine; no more can we out of Christ: John 15:5, ‘1 am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing.’ In the hypostatical union, God dwelleth in Christ σωματικῶς, Colossians 2:9, ‘In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.’ In the mystical union, God dwelleth in us πνευματικῶς, 1 John 4:4, ‘Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.’ The hypostatical union is the ground of all that grace and glory that was bestowed on the human nature, without which, as a mere creature, it would not be capable of this exaltation; so the mystical union is the ground of all that grace and glory which we receive. By the hypostatical union, Christ is made our brother, he contracted affinity with the human nature; by the mystical union he is made our head and husband, he weddeth our persons. As by the hypostatical union there is a communion of properties, so here is a kind of exchange between us and Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:21, ‘For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.’ As the honour of the divinity redoundeth to the human nature, so we have a communion of all those good things which are in Christ. 

Use 1. Let us strive to imitate the Trinity in our respects both to the {Page 37} head and our fellow-members, that you may neither dishonour the head nor dissolve the union between the members. Christ useth this expression to draw us up to the highest and closest union with himself and one another. 

1. In your respects to the head. 

[1.] Let your union with him be more close and sensible, that you may lie in the bosom of Christ, as Christ doth in the bosom of God. Is Christ in us as God is in Christ? are we made partakers of the divine nature as he is of ours? that you may say to him, as Laban to Jacob, Genesis 29:14, ‘Surely thou art my bone and my flesh;’ that you may feel Christ in you: Galatians 2:20, ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me, and the life which I live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.’ This mystery is not only to be believed, but felt. 

[2.] In your care not to dishonour your head: 1 Corinthians 6:15, ‘Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid!’ 

[3.] By your delight and complacency. You should make more of the person of Christ: Solomon’s Song 1:13, ‘A bundle of myrrh is my beloved unto me; he shall lie all night between my breasts.’ Keep Christ close to the heart, delight in his company, and in frequent thoughts of him. This should be the holy solace of the soul. 

[4.] By your aims to glorify him. The Father studieth the honour of Christ, so doth the Spirit. Thou art his, and all thine is his. Christ hath a title to thy wit, wealth, estate, strength, to all thou hast or canst do in the world. Dost thou spend thy estate as if it were not thine, but Christ’s? use thy parts as if they were not thine, but Christ’s? Use thy parts as Christ’s. 

2. To your fellow-members. Walk as those that are one, as Christ and the Father are one, seeking one another’s welfare, rejoicing in one another’s graces and gifts, as if they were our own; contributing counsel, assistance, sympathy, prayers for the common good, as if thy own case were in hazard; living as if we had but one interest. This is somewhat like the Trinity. 

Use 2. Let it put us upon thanksgiving. No other union with us would content Christ but such as carrieth some resemblance with the Trinity, the highest union that can be. In love to our friends we wear their pictures about our necks; Christ assumed our nature, espouseth our persons; how should we be ravished with the thought of the honour clone us! We were separated by the fall, and became base creatures; yet we are not only restored to favour, but united to him. 

Thirdly, The ground of this union, ‘One with us.’ By the mystical union we are united to the whole Trinity. Our communion with the Father is spoken of, 1 John 1:3, ‘That ye also may have fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Sou Jesus Christ.’ Communion with the Son: 1 Corinthians 1:9, ‘God is faithful, by whom we are called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.’ And communion with the Spirit, 2 Corinthians 13:14, ‘The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the {Page 38} communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.’ To distinguish them accurately is very hard, only thus in general. We must have communion with all or none. There is no coming to the Father but by the Son: John 14:6, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father, but by me.’ None can come to the Son but by the Father: John 6:44, ‘No man can come to me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him.’ And none can come to both but by the Spirit. Unity is his personal operation: Ephesians 4:3, ‘Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’ The Father hath a hand in it, Christ hath a hand, the Spirit hath a hand. 

Well, then, let us bless God that we have such a complete object for our faith as Father, Son, and Spirit. The Father bestoweth Christ on us, and us on Christ, as marriages are made in heaven. The meritorious cause of this union is Christ the mediator, by his obedience, satisfaction, and merit; otherwise the Father would not look upon us; and the Spirit is sent from the Father and the Son to bring us to the Father by the Son. The Spirit worketh this union, continueth it, and manifests it. All the graces of God are conveyed to us by the Spirit; the Spirit teacheth, comforteth, sealeth, sanctifieth; all is by the Holy Ghost. And so are all our acts of communion; we pray by the Spirit; if we love God, obey God, believe in God, it is by the Spirit, that worketh faith, love, and obedience. We can want nothing that have Father, Son, and Spirit; whether we think of the Father in heaven, the Son on. the cross, or feel the Spirit in our hearts. Election is of the Father, merit by the Son, actual grace from the Holy Ghost: 1 Peter 1:2, ‘Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ.’ Our salvation standeth on a sure bottom; the beginning is from God the Father, the dispensation through the Son, the application by the Spirit. It is free in the Father, sure in the Son, ours in the Spirit. We cannot be thankful enough for this privilege. 

Fourthly, The end and issue,’ That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.’ By the world is not meant the unconverted elect, for Christ had comprehended all the elect in these words, ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe in me through their word.’ John 17:20. The matter of his prayer is, ‘That they may be one,’ &c.; and the reason, ‘That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.’ So that by the world is meant the reprobate lost world, who shall continue in final obstinacy. , By believing is meant not true saving faith, but common conviction, that they may be gained to some kind of faith, a temporary faith, or some general profession of religion; as John 2:23, 24, ‘Many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did; but Jesus would not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men;’ and John 12:42, 43, ‘Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him, but because of the pharisees, they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.’ There believing is taken for being convinced of the truth of his religion, which he had established, though they had no mind to profess it; or if so, yet they did not come under the full power of it. 
{Page 39}But how is this the fruit of the mystical union? The fruits of the mystical union are four, to this purpose: — 

Holiness: ‘Whosoever is in Christ is a new creature,’ 2 Corinthians 5:17. Sanctification is a fruit of union: 1 Corinthians 1:30, ‘For of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.’ And it is a means to convince the world: Mark 5:16, ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven;’ 1 Peter 2:12, ‘Having your conversation honest amongst the Gentiles, that whereas they speak evil of yon as of evil-doers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation;’ 1 Peter 3:1, ‘Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, that if any obey not the word, they also may, without the word, be won by the conversation of the wives.’ 

Unity: 1 Corinthians 12:13, ‘For by one Spirit we are all baptised into one body.’ To endear us to himself, and to one another as fellow-members, Christ would draw us into one body: John 13:35, ‘By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.’ Aspice tit se mutuo diligunt chrisliani! Oh! the mighty charity that was among the primitive Christians: Acts 4:32, ‘And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.’ Divisions in the church breed atheism in the world. 

Constancy in the profession of the truth: Jude 1, ‘To them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.’ We are preserved in Christ as wine in the hogshead, being in the cabinet where God’s jewels are kept. Now this is taking with the world. 

4 Special care of God’s providence. God keepeth them as the apple of his eye: Dan. 2:47, ‘Of a truth it is that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing he could reveal unto you this secret;’ 1 Corinthians 14:25, ‘And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest, and so falling down on his face, he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth;’ Dan. 3:28, ‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God;’ Dan. 6:27, ‘He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions;’ Josh. 2:11, ‘And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you; for the Lord your God is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath;’ Acts 5:12-14, ‘And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people, and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch; and of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them, and believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.’ 

Doct. That the general conviction which the lost world hath of the truth of Christianity is a very great blessing to the church. Christ here prays for it, ‘Let them be one;’ and why? that the lost world, who are left out of his prayer, ‘may believe that thou hast sent me;’ that {Page 40} they might not count Christ to be an impostor, nor the doctrine of the gospel a fable. And what Christ prayed for he had promised before; for as good men of old did suit their prayers to their foregoing sermons, so did our Lord Jesus Christ suit this prayer to his foregoing sermon made to his apostles. What did he promise to them? John 16:8-11, ‘If I depart, I will send the Comforter unto you; and when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Of sin, because they believe not on me. Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more. Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.’ This is a difficult place; the meaning is this: — In the context you will find the apostles were troubled about Christ’s departure, and their going out into the world to preach the gospel, for they apprehended their service difficult; their master (for whom they stood) despised, and looked upon as a seducer and mock king among the Jews, their message very unpleasant, as contrary to the carnal interests of men. Now for a few weak men to be left to the hatred and opposition of a proud, malicious, ambitious world, they that were to preach a doctrine contrary to the lusts and interests of men, and go forth in the name of a master that was despised and hanged on a tree, what shall they do? ‘Be not troubled,’ saith our Saviour. He lays in many comforts, and among them, that the world shall be convinced: ‘The Spirit shall convince the world of sin,’ &c. Observe — 

The act, ‘He shall convince.’ 
The object,’ The world.’ 
The particulars, what he shall convince them of, ‘Of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment.’ 
The means, ‘By the Spirit.’ 
The effects of this, and how this was accomplished, and what a mighty confirmation this was of the apostles’ testimony. 

1. Consider the act, ‘He shall reprove, or convince;’ not convert, but convince; whereby is meant not only his offering or affording sufficient means which might convince men, but his actual convincing them thereby; even the reprobate world shall be so convinced as they were put to silence, that they shall not easily be able to gainsay the truth; nay, some of them shall obtain the profession of it. And yet the Holy Ghost goeth no further with them than fully to convince them; the work stoppeth there, they are not effectually converted to God. As many carnal men, that remain in an unregenerate condition to the last, may have many temporal gifts bestowed on them, whereby they may be made useful to the real and true believers, and have strange changes and flashes of conscience for a while, yet it went no further; therefore the apostle saith, Hebrews 6:4, 5, ‘They were enlightened, and had tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost; and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.’ 

2. The object of this work of the Spirit. Whom shall he convince? ‘The world.’ It is notable the church is not spoken of, but the world. Now the world is either the unregenerate and unconverted world, or else the reprobate and lost world, who finally persist in their unbelief or want of saving faith. This mad raging world shall be convinced, and bo their opposition taken off, or their edge blunted, and they made {Page 41} more easy and kind to his people, though they are but convinced, and continue still in a state of nature. Nay, some of them shall join with them, and be made greatly useful to them; therefore they need not fear though all the power and learning in the world were against them at that time. 

3. The particulars whereof they are convinced, ‘Of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment’ Grotius and other interpreters observe there were three sorts of causes of actions among the Jews, περὶ ἁμαρτίας, concerning criminal matters, or περὶ δικαιοσύνης, defending the just and upright, or περὶ κρίσεως, in urging the law of retaliation for damage done. Sometimes there was a suit commenced to know whether a man were a criminal or no; at other times, if any man .had been wronged, there was a suit commenced concerning righteousness and innocency, and the man was acquitted in court. Sometimes there was an action concerning judgment, and that was concerning retaliation, giving eye for eye, tooth for tooth, recompensing the party wronged concerning damage done. So here, the Holy Ghost at his coming should be the advocate of Christ against the world, who had rejected and crucified him. One action that he should put in against the world was concerning sin, whether Christ or the despisers of his grace were guilty of a crime. It would appear in the issue that not to believe in him was a sin, as well as to transgress the moral or natural law. The second action was concerning righteousness, to vindicate his innocency, though he suffered among them as a malefactor, in that ho was owned by Gud, and taken up into heaven, as a clear testimony of his innocency. The third action was that of judgment, or punishing injurious persons by way of retaliation; that those which struck out another’s eye or tooth were to lose their own, or he that had wronged another man in his substance should lose as much of his own. This action he had against Satan, who with his instruments had put Christ to death; now ‘the prince of this world shall be judged;’ retaliation shall be done upon him, his kingdom destroyed, his idols and oracles battered down, and put to silence and under disgrace. And thus the Spirit should come to convince the world that it was a sin not to believe in Christ, who was a righteous and innocent person; and the devil, which did the wrong, should have right done upon him, that he should be destroyed, and his kingdom demolished. All these we have, Acts 5:30, 31, ‘The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew, and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a prince and a saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.’ The first question was concerning sin, whether Christ died as a malefactor, or whether he was a true prophet? and whether it was not a sin in the Jews not to receive him? That was the point in controversy between the apostles, in preaching the gospel, and the world that denied this. The next question was concerning righteousness, whether Christ was a righteous person? Now, Christ being exalted at God’s right hand, was thereby owned to be a righteous person, that though he was hanged on the tree, yet he was justified and exalted at the right hand of God. The other controversy was concerning judgment, whether Christ were a base person, or one exalted to be a prince and a saviour, exalted above Satan, and all things that are called god in the world? Now {Page 42} the Spirit shall convince the world ‘that the prince of this world is condemned,’ and that Christ is the prince and saviour, and he must be owned and exalted, and his kingdom set up everywhere. Thus when poor men were to bait the devil, and hunt him out of his territories, and oppose themselves against the tradition of the nation, there is a mighty Spirit set up, and he shall convince the world; those that are not really and heartily gained, he shall convince them of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment. 

[1.] ‘Of sin, because they believe not in me.’ The Spirit shall convince them that Christ is the Son of God, the great prophet and true Messiah; and so it is a sin to reject him and his doctrine; that unbelief is a sin as well as the breach of the moral law; and that the Lord Jesus Christ is to be owned as a mediator, as well as God as a lawgiver. All will grant that a breach of the law of God is a sin; but the Spirit shall convince that a transgression against the gospel is a sin, as well as against the law. 

[2.] ‘Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye shall see me no more.’ That Christ did not remain in the state of the dead, but rose again, and ascended, and liveth with the Father in glory and majesty; and therefore that he was not a seducer, but that righteous one; and so, however he was rejected by men, yet he was owned and accepted by God, and all his pretensions justified, and so might sufficiently convince the world that it is blasphemy to oppose him as a malefactor, and his kingdom and interest in the world: there needeth no more to persuade men that he was that holy and righteous one. 

[3.] ‘Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.’ The devil is the prince of this world: Ephesians 6:12, ‘The ruler of the darkness of this world;’ and he was condemned by virtue of Christ’s death, and judgment executed upon him by the Spirit: John 12:31, ‘Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.’ He was foiled and vanquished by Christ, and by the power of the gospel; was to be vanquished more and more, by silencing his oracles, destroying his kingdom, recovering poor captive souls, translating them out of the kingdom of darkness into a state of holiness, liberty, light, and life; the usurped power he had over the blind and guilty world is taken from him; now his judgment shall be executed. 

The way and means whereby this should be brought about, by the coming of the Spirit, or the sending the comforter. When he came, the disciples and messengers of Christ had large endowments, whereby they were enabled to speak powerfully and boldly to every people in their own tongue, find to endure their sufferings and ill-usage with great courage and fortitude, and to work miracles, as to cure diseases, cast out devils, to confer extraordinary gifts, to silence Satan’s oracles, and to destroy the kingdom and power of the devil, and to establish a sure way of the pardon of sins, and bring life and immortality to light, preaching that truth which should establish sound holiness, and helping to restore human nature to its rectitude and integrity. And by this means he should convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. 

Consider the effects, suitable both to his promise and prayer. The Acts of the Apostles are a comment on this. Many of the elect {Page 43} were converted. At the first sermon after the pouring out of the Spirit, all that heard the apostles discoursing that Jesus was appointed to be Lord and Christ, were ‘pricked in their hearts,’ and convinced, Acts 2:37, 38. This was not conversion, for they cried out, ‘What shall we do? And Peter said, ‘Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’ Three thousand were converted by this sermon, and five thousand at another time, Acts 4:4, when they preached boldly in the name of Jesus; yet others were only convinced, pricked in heart, though they had not yet attained to evangelical repentance; some that remained ‘in the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity;’ yet they admired the things the apostles did, and desired to share with them in their great privileges: Acts 8:18, 19, ‘When Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.’ Yea, and some that were upon the benches and thrones, and sat as judges, were almost persuaded to be Christians by a prisoner in a chain; as Felix: Acts 24:25, ‘As Paul reasoned of righteousness, and temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled.’ And Agrippa: Acts 26:28, ‘Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.’ Some were forced to magnify them, who had not a heart to join with them: Acts 5:13, ‘And of the rest durst no man join himself to them, but the people magnified them.’ Some would have worshipped them, who were yet pagans: Acts 14:11, ‘And when the people saw what Paul had done, they said, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.’ Some were astonished at what was done by the apostles: Acts 8:13, ‘Then Simon himself believed also; and when he was baptised, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the signs and miracles which were done.’ Some marvelled at their boldness: Acts 4:13, ‘Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled, and they took knowledge of them, that they bad been with Jesus.’ What! is this cowardly Peter, that was foiled with the weak blast of a damsel? Nay, their bitterest enemies were nonplussed in their resolutions, when they had to do with them, and were afraid to meddle with them: Acts 4:16, ‘What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.’ So far the bridle of conviction was upon the reprobate world.

Vol 11.—Sermon 35.—John 17:21.—That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

posted 12 Apr 2014, 14:04 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 12 Apr 2014, 14:04 ]

'Sermons upon the Seventeenth Chapter of St John'

Sermon 35. — John 17:21. — That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

We have seen for whom Christ prayeth. Now let us see what he prayeth for; their comfortable estate in the world, and the happiness of their everlasting estate in heaven. With respect to their estate in the world, Christ mentioneth no other blessing but the mystical union, which is amplified throughout, John 17:21-23. Here he beginneth, ‘That they may be all one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee. He had before prayed for the apostles, ‘That they may be one, as we are one,’ John 17:11; and now, ‘Let them all be one.’ The welfare of the church is concerned, not only in the unity of the apostles, but of private believers; you had need be one as well as your pastors. Many times divisions arise from the people, and those that have least knowledge are most carried aside with blind zeal and principles of separation; therefore Christ prayeth for private believers, ‘That they may be all one.’ &c.

{Page 24} In which words there is —

The blessing prayed for, ‘That they may be all one.’

The manner of this unity, illustrated by the original pattern and exemplar of it, ‘As thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee;’ the ineffable unity of the persons in the divine essence.

The ground of this unity, the mystical union with Christ, and by Christ with God, ‘That they may be one with us.’

The end and event of this union, ‘That the world may believe that thou hast sent me.’

First, From the blessing prayed for, I observe, that the great blessing Christ asketh for his church is the mystical union of believers in the same body; ‘Let them be one,’ one in us, and ‘as thou in me, and I in thee.’ All these expressions show that the mystical union is here intended. ‘Let them be one,’ ἐν, that is, ἐν σῶμα, as it is elsewhere explained, that they may grow together in one body, whereof I am the head, or one temple. It is sometimes set out by ‘one mystical body,’ sometimes by ‘one spiritual temple.’ One body: Colossians 2:19, ‘And not holding the head, from which all the body by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God;’ Romans 12:5, ‘We, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another;’ Ephesians 1:22, 23, ‘And gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body.’ And one temple: Ephesians 2:20-22, ‘And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: in whom you also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.’ ‘One, as thou in me, and I in thee.’ Christ doth not say that they maybe one in another; that κα doth not agree to them; but in the mystery of the Trinity it denotes the union between the divine persons. ‘One in us,’ that is, by the communication and inhabitation of that Spirit which proceedeth from us. Our union is from God, in God, and to God; from the Spirit, with God, through Christ.

Let me now inquire — (1.) What it is? (2.) Why it is so valued by Christ?

First, What it is? There is a union with Christ the head, and between the members one with another. I shall speak of both, though but little of the latter, because I handled it ver. 11.

1. There is a union with Christ the head. That ye may conceive of it, take these propositions.

[1.] The whole Trinity is concerned in this union. By the communion of the Spirit we are mystically united to Christ, and by Christ to God. The Father is, as it were, " the root, Christ the trunk, the Spirit the sap, we the branches, and our works the fruits, John 15:This is the great mystery delivered in the scriptures. Christ doth not only ‘dwell in us by faith,’ Ephesians 3:17, but ‘God dwelleth in us, and we in God,’ 1 John 4:16, and ‘the Spirit dwelleth in us;’ Romans 8:11. We are consecrated temples, wherein the whole Trinity take up their residence. We are children- of God, members of Christ, pupils to the Holy Ghost; God’s family, Christ’s body, and {Page 25} the Spirit’s charge. We are united to the Father as the fountain of grace and mercy, to the Son as the pipe and conveyance, and the Spirit accomplisheth and effecteth all. The Father sendeth the Son to merit this grace, and the Son sendeth the Spirit to accomplish it; therefore we are said ‘by one Spirit to be baptised into the same body.’

[2.] Though all the persons be concerned in it, yet the honour is chiefly devolved upon Christ the second person. Christ, as God-man, is head of the church upon a double ground — because of his two natures, and the union of these in the same person. It was needful that our head should be man, of the same nature with ourselves: Hebrews 2:11, ‘He that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are of one;’ the same stock. It were monstrous to have a head and members of a different nature; as in Nebuchadnezzar’s image, the substance of the head and body differed; the head was of fine gold, the arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, the legs of iron, part of the feet of clay; here was a monstrous body indeed, made up of so many metals differing in nature and kind. But Christ took our nature that he might be a suitable head, and so have a right to redeem us, and be in a capacity to give himself for the body, and sympathise with us. All these are fruits of the Son’s being of the same nature. And again, God he needed to be, to pour out the Spirit, and to have grace sufficient for all his members. Mere man was not enough to be head of the church, for the head must be more excellent than the body; it is above the body, the seat of the senses, it guideth the whole body, it is the shop of the thoughts and musings. And so Christ the head must have a pre-eminence; in him ‘the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, that we might be complete in him,’ Colossians 2:8, 9; and ‘it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell,’ Colossians 1:19. The grace of God is most eminent in him, as life is most eminent in the head. Now there must be a union of these two natures in the same person. If Christ had not been God and man in the same person. God and we had never been united and brought together; he is ‘Emmanuel, God with us,’ Matthew 1:23. God is in Christ, and the believer is in Christ; we have a share in his person, and so hath God; he descendeth and cometh down to us in the person of. the mediator; and by the man Christ Jesus we ascend and climb up to God. And so you see the reason why the honour of head of the church is devolved upon Christ.

[3.] Whole Christ is united to a whole believer. Whole Christ is united to us, God-man, and whole man is united to Christ, body and soul. Whole Christ is united to us; the Godhead is the fountain, and the human nature is the pipe and conveyance. Grace cometh from him as God, and through him as man: John 6:56, 57, ‘He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.’ God is a sealed fountain, his humanity is the pipe, so that his flesh is the food of the soul. Christ came from heaven on purpose, and sanctified our flesh, that there might be one in our nature to do us good, that righteousness and life might pass from him, as sin and death from Adam; but our faith first pitcheth upon the manhood of Christ, as they went into {Page 26} the holy place by the veil. And then a whole Christian is united to Christ, body and soul. The soul is united unto him, because it receiveth influences of grace, and the body also is taken in; therefore the apostle disputeth against fornication, because the body is a member of Christ: 1 Corinthians 6:15, ‘Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid! ‘It is a kind of dismembering and plucking a limb from Christ; you defile Christ’s body, the disgrace redounds to him. And hereupon elsewhere doth the apostle prove the resurrection by virtue of our union with Christ: Romans 8:10, 11, ‘If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit, that dwelleth in you.’ You may die, but you shall not be brought to nought, because the body hath a principle of life in it; it is a part of Christ, and he will lose nothing: John 6:39, ‘And this is the Father’s will, which sent me, that of all which he hath given me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.’ As plants live in the root, though the leaves fade, and in winter they appear not, so doth the body live in Christ. So that it is a ground of hope, and a motive to strictness, that you may not wrong a member of Christ, nor seek to pluck a joint from his body.

[4.] The manner of this union. It is secret and mysterious: μέγα μυστήριον, Ephesians 5:22, ‘This is a great mystery;’ not only a mystery, but a great mystery; ‘but I speak concerning Christ and the church.’ It is a part of our portion in heaven to understand it: John 14:20, ‘At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.’ "When we are more like God, we shall know what it is to be united to God through Christ. Here believers feel it rather than understand it, and it is our duty rather to get an interest in it than subtly to dispute about it.

[5.] Though it be secret and mystical, yet it is real; because a thing is spiritual, it doth not cease to be real. These are not words, or poor empty notions only, that we are united to Christ; but they imply a real truth. Why should the Holy Ghost use so many terms; of being planted into Christ? Romans 6:5, ‘For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection;’ of being joined to Christ? 1 Corinthians 6:17, ‘He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit;’ of being made partakers of Christ? Hebrews 3:14, ‘.For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.’ Do these terms only imply a relation between us and Christ? No; then the emphasis of the words is lost. What great mystery in all this? Why is this mystery so often spoken of? Christ is not only ours, but ‘he is in us, and we in him.’ God is ours, and we dwell in God: 1 John 4:13, ‘Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit;’ and ver. 15, ‘Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.’ It is represented by similitudes, that imply a real union as well as a relative, by head and members, root and branches, as well as by marriage, where man and wife are made one flesh. It is {Page 27} compared here with the mystery of the Trinity, and the unity of the divine persons, though not ἀκριβῶς. It is not a notion of scripture, but a thing wrought by the Spirit: 1 Corinthians 2:13, ‘Which things also we speak,’ &c. It worketh a presence, and conveyeth real influences.

[6.] It may be explained as far as our present light will bear, by analogy to the union between head and members. The head is united to the body primarily, and first of all by the soul. Head and members make out one body, because they are animated by the same soul, and by that means doth the head communicate life and motion to the body. Besides this there is a secondary union, by the bones, muscles, nerves, veins, and other ligaments of the body, and upon all these by the skin, all which do constitute and make up this natural union. Just so in this spiritual and mystical union there is a primary band and tie, and that is the Spirit of Christ: 1 Corinthians 6:17, ‘Ha that is joined to the Lord is one spirit;’ that is, is acted by the same Spirit by which Christ is acted, and liveth the same life of grace that Christ liveth, as if there were but one soul between them both. The fulness remaineth in Christ, but we have our share; and ‘he that hath not the Spirit of Christ is none of his.’ But over and above there is a secondary bond and tie, that knitteth us and Christ together, which answereth to the joints and arteries, by which the parts of the body are united to one another, and that is faith, and love, and fear, and other graces of the Spirit, by which the presence is kept in the soul. Thus I have a little opened this mystery to you.

2. There is a union of the members one with another. A little of that.

[1.] The same Spirit that uniteth the members to the head uniteth the members one to another. Therefore the apostle, as an argument of union, urgeth the communion of the same Spirit: Philippians 2:1, 2, ‘If any fellowship of the Spirit, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.’ As Christ is the head of the church, so the Holy Ghost is the soul of the church, by which all the members are acted. As in the primitive times: Acts 4:32, ‘The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.’ And this is that that Christ prayeth for here, that they may all be one, in the communion of the same Spirit, that they may be of the same religion, and have the same aim, and the same affection to good things.

[2.] From the communion of the Spirit, there is a secondary union by love, and seeking one another’s good, as if they were but one man; wherever dispersed throughout the world, and whatever distinctions of nations and interests there are, they may love and desire the good of one another, and rejoice in the welfare, and grieve for the evil of one another: Ezekiel 1:24, ‘When the beasts went, the wheels went, and when the beasts were lifted up from the earth, the wheels were lifted up over against them;’ and the reason is given, ‘for the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels.’ The same spirit is in one Christian that is in another, and so they wish well to one another, even to those whom they never saw in the flesh: Colossians 2:1, ‘For I would that ye knew how great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh.’ What wrestlings had he with God, and fightings for their sakes, even for them that {Page 28} had not seen his face in the flesh! So careful are the members one of another.

[3.] This love is manifested by real effects. Look, as by virtue of union with Christ there are real influences of grace that pass out to us, it is not idle and fruitless, so by virtue of this union that is between the members there is a real communication of gifts and graces, and the good things of this life one to another. If the parts of the body keep what they have to themselves, and do not disperse it for the use of the body, it breedeth disease, as the liver the blood, the stomach the meat; the liver imparts blood to the veins, and the stomach sends the food abroad into its proper vessels and channels; so God’s children impart their spiritual or temporal gifts as the body needeth. When a famine was but prophesied, the disciples thought of sending relief according to their ability to the brethren of Judea, Acts 11:29. It is never right but when there is this forwardness to distribute and communicate according to the necessities of the body.

Secondly, Why Christ valueth it so much as to make it his only request for believers in the present state? I answer — We can never be happy till we have a share in this union.

1. Because God hath instituted the mystical union to be a means to convey all grace to us, grace to us here, and glory hereafter; we receive all from God in it, and by it. Christ without us doth not save us, hut Christ in us. Christ without us is a perfect Saviour, but not to you; the appropriation is by union. Generally we think we shall be saved by a Christ without us. He came down from heaven, took our nature, died for sinners, ascended up into heaven again, there he maketh intercession; all this is without us. Do not say there is a Saviour in heaven; is there one in thy heart? Colossians 1:27, ‘Christ in you the hope of glory.’ He doth not say, Christ in heaven the hope of glory, though that is a fountain of comfort, but Christ in you: 1 Corinthians 1:30; ‘Of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.’ Whatsoever is imputed or imparted, light, life, grace, glory, it is still in him. Still look to Christ within you. It were a merry world to carnal men to be saved by a Christ without them. Christ without established the merit, but Christ within maketh application, 2 Corinthians 13:5, ‘Know ye not your own selves, how that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?’ Unless first or last he be in you, though disallowed for the present, he will be of no advantage to you. You have nothing to show till you feel Christ within you. All the acts of his mediation must be acted over again in the heart. His birth; he must be born and formed in us: Galatians 4:19, ‘My little children, of whom I travail in birth again, until Christ be formed in you.’ His death: Romans 6:4, ‘Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death.’ His resurrection: Colossians 3:1, ‘If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things that are above.’ His ascension: Ephesians 2:6, ‘And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.’ His intercession: Romans 8:26, ‘Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.’ The acts without us do us no good unless we have the copy of them in our own hearts.

{Page 29}It is the ground of that exchange that is between Christ and us; we communicate to him our nature, our sins, and troubles, and Christ communicateth to us his nature and merits and privileges. What hath Christ from thee? Thy nature, thy sins, thy punishments, thy wrath, thy curse, thy shame; and thou hast his titles, his nature, his spirit, his privileges. All this interchange between us and Christ is by virtue of union. All interests lie in common between Christ and the church; he taketh our nature, and is made flesh, and we are made ‘partakers of the divine nature,’ 2 Peter 1:4. He is made the Son of man, we the sons of God; he had a mother on earth, we a Father in heaven; he is made sin, we righteousness, 2 Corinthians 5:21, ‘Who hath made him to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.’ He was made a curse that we might have the blessing of Abraham: Galatians 3:13, 14, ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree; that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ.’ Thus he imparteth his privileges to us, and assumeth our miseries to himself. He hath a shave in all our sorrows, and we have a share in his triumphs; he is afflicted in our afflictions, as we ascend in his ascension: Ephesians 2:6, ‘He hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.’ We live by his life: Galatians 2:20, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ &c. And we are glorified by his glory. He suffereth with us in heaven, and we reign with him on earth; he suffereth with us, non per passionem, sed compassionem, not that glorified Christ feeleth any grief in heaven, but his bowels yearn to an afflicted member, as if he himself were in our stead; and we are set down with him in heavenly places, because our head is there, and hath seized upon heaven in our right. It is a notable expression: Colossians 1:24, ‘Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up, ὑστέρημα θλίψεων Χριστοῦ, that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.’ Christ and the church are considered as one person, whose afflictions are determined by providence; thus much the head must suffer, thus much the members. Christ suffered his share, and we ours in our turn. In short, Christ suffereth no more in the body that he carried to heaven, but in his body that he left upon earth. Every blow that lighteth on a member, lighteth on his heart: Acts 9:G, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’ Christ was in heaven at that time; how could he say, ‘Why persecutest thou me?’ Did he climb up into heaven, and war upon Christ in the midst of his glory? No; Saul persecuted the Christians, and them Christ calleth me, his mystical body. As in a throng, if somebody treadeth upon your foot, the tongue crieth out, You have hurt me; the tongue is in safety, but it is in the same body with the foot, and so their good and bad are common; for though Christ’s person be above abuse, he still suffereth in his members; and he that persecuteth the church persecuteth Jesus Christ.

If once interested in the mystical union, then they are safe, preserved in Jesus Christ: Jude 1, ‘Sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ;’ Jude 24, ‘Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling,’ &c. The union is indissoluble; that is a cabinet, {Page 30} where God’s jewels are kept safe. If a member could be lost, Christ’s body could be maimed; as the union between the two natures could not be dissolved; it was the body of Christ in the grave; there was a separation between his human body and human soul, yet both still remained united to the divine nature; so this union cannot be dissolved. You may as well sever the leaven and the dough, when they are kneaded together, as separate Christ and the church when once united. lmpossibile est massam a pasta separare. Christ will not suffer his body to be mangled; the cutting off of a joint goeth to the quick.

Use 1. To press us to look after an interest in this great privilege. It is the main work of your lives. To move you, consider the honour and the happiness of them, that they are thus one with God through Christ.

1. The honour. What am I, to be son-in-law to the king? What are you, to be members of Christ? Christ counteth himself to be incomplete and maimed without us: Ephesians 1:23, ‘The church is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.’ How are we πλήρωμα αὐτοῦ, ‘the fulness of him ‘? It relateth not to his personal perfection. Take Christ absolutely as God, and he is a person most perfect and glorious. Before the assumption of the human nature, before any creature in the world was made, there was enough in Christ to satisfy his Father’s heart. Nay, take him relatively as mediator, what doth Christ want? Doth the body give aught of perfection to the head? No; ‘The fulness of the godhead dwells in him bodily,’ and ‘he filleth all things.’ But taken in his mystical person, Christ mystical, as head and members are called Christ: 1 Corinthians 12:12, ‘As the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ.’ So he is not perfect without his body, as a head without members is not perfect. Now, what an honour is this, that he accounteth himself imperfect without us! And till all his members be gathered in, we are not grown up to the state wherein Christ is full: Ephesians 4:13, ‘Till we all come to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.’ Christ’s mystical body hath not its complete stature till all the saints be gathered. This honour is not put upon the angels; they are servants, but not members. He did not take their seed to be a head to them, nor die for them, nor took them for his members, as he doth us: Proverbs 8:31, ‘Rejoicing in the habitable parts of the earth, and my delights were with the sons of men.’ He left the company of angels to dwell with us; his heart was set upon our good, that, next to the title of Son of God, he valueth this of being head of the church. He purchased it with his blood. He loveth his mystical body above his natural, for he gave his natural body to redeem the church, which is his mystical body; as husbands love their wives as their own body. O Christians! is not this a mighty privilege? We are not only his, but him, and Christ knoweth us and loveth us as parts of his own body, and will glorify us not only as his clients and servants, but members; all the injuries and wrongs done to the church, Christ taketh it as done to himself. Wicked men they are his footstool; Christ is over them, but not as a mystical head. As the head of a king is lifted up above all his subjects, and governeth them, and weareth the garland of honour, {Page 31} but in a peculiar manner it governeth and guideth his own natural body; so Christ is ‘head over all things to the church.’ Ephesians 1:22. Certainly this is a great honour put upon poor worms. What are the fruits of it? We are interested in all Christ’s communicable privileges; we need not stretch it too far, it is ample enough of itself. Some things are incommunicably proper to Christ, neither given to man nor angel; as the name above all names, to be adored, to be set at the right hand of God, to be head of the church, the Lord our righteousness. But other things are communicated to us, first to Christ, and then to us. Christ is one with the Father, and a poor Christian, though never so mean, is one with Christ. Christ is called ‘God’s fellow,’ Zechariah 13:7, and every saint is Christ’s fellow: Psalm 45:7, ‘Thou hast anointed him with the oil of gladness above his fellows.’ The Father loveth him because he is the express image of his person, and delights in the saints because they are the image of Christ. God is his God and our God, his Father and our Father; where Christ is, they are, because they are a part of his body. Alas! we should count it blasphemy to speak so, if the word did not speak it before us.

2. The happiness: ‘In him the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth bodily.’ There is a sufficiency in Christ for all his members. We have all things in him, which is as good as if we had it in our hands, and better; for he is a better steward and keeper of the treasures of wisdom, grace, and comfort, than we are. If he hath it, it is for our use; for Christ is full as an officer to impart life, sense, and motion to all the body. It is the office of the liver to impart the blood to the veins; it were monstrous and unnatural to keep it. As a treasurer, it is his office to pay money out upon all just demands: Psalm 16:2, 3, ‘My goodness extendeth not to thee; but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.’ Thou shalt not be forgotten, for the care of Christ extendeth to every member. To neglect a member is to neglect ourselves. If a man could forget a child, yet certainly he could not forget his members. This is your relation to Christ; if he hath bid the ‘members to take care one of another,’ 1 Corinthians 12:25, what will the head do? These grounds of comfort and faith you have.

Use 2. How shall we know that we have a share in this mystical union? I answer — By the Spirit of Christ: 1 John 4:13, ‘Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.’ There is a communication of the Spirit; so Romans 8:9, ‘Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his;’ his creature, but not his member; a limb of Satan, not a member of Christ. Christ’s Spirit is poured on all his brethren; it is shared among them, it is given to every member as soon as they are added to Christ’s body.

Now, how shall we know whether we have the Spirit of Christ?

Ans. By life and conformity.

1. Life and stirring. A man may know whether the {Spirit of Christ be dwelling in him, as a woman knoweth whether the child in the womb be quickened, yea or no, she knoweth it by the stirring; so you may know whether the Spirit of Christ be in you by its working. They are no members of Christ that are not quickened by the life of {Page 32} grace; there is no withered member in his body. If a member of a lingering! body be dead and numb, we rub it and chafe it to bring heat and spirits into it again: so do you feel any grace, any spiritual love? Galatians 2:20, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.’ As we know there is life by the beating of the pulses, so there is spiritual life when there is a striving against corruption, complaining of it, sighing, groaning under it, seconded with a constant endeavour to grow better. These sighs and groans are in the greatest desertion.

2. Conformity. Where the Spirit of Christ is it fashioneth us into the likeness of Christ, 2 Corinthians 3:18, ‘We all beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.’ It maketh us to represent Christ, to be such as he was in the world, meek, holy, humble, useful, as if Christ were come again to converse with men. If you are acted with an unclean, proud, carnal, wrathful spirit, who is it that dwelleth in you? whose image do you bear? There is a changing, transforming power that ariseth from this union, that we delight to do the will of our Father, wherein the conformity lieth ἵνα ὦσιν. We shall be humble, meek, gentle: Matthew 11:29, ‘Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart;’ thinking humbly of ourselves, not aspiring after greatness. This spirit is a spirit of obedience, enabling us to look to our Father’s glory and commandment in all things. We shall have compassionate melting hearts to the miseries of others, as he had bowels yearning to see sheep without a shepherd.

Vol 11.—Sermon 34.—John 17:20.—Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.

posted 12 Apr 2014, 13:57 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 12 Apr 2014, 14:00 ]

'Sermons upon the Seventeenth Chapter of St John'

Sermon 34. — John 17:20. — Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.

Here Christ enlargeth the object of his prayers, which is propounded — (1.) Negatively; (2.) Positively.

{Page 16} First, Negatively; by which the restraint is taken off. Which showeth —

Christ’s love. He had a care of us before we were yet in being, and able to apply these comforts to ourselves. We were provided for before we were born, there is a stock of prayers laid up in heaven. Christ, as God, foresaw that the gospel would prevail, notwithstanding the world’s hatred, and that many would yield up themselves to the obedience of the faith; therefore to show that they have a room in his heart, they have a name in his testament. As parents provide for their children’s children yet unborn, so doth Christ remember future believers, as well as those of the present age, and pleadeth their cause with God, as if they were standing by, and actually hearing his prayers for them. It was Esau’s complaint, ‘Hast thou but one blessing, O my father?’ when he came too late, and Jacob had already carried away the blessing. We were not born too late, and out of due time, to receive the blessing of Christ’s prayers. Hath he no regard to us? are his thoughts wholly taken up with the believers of the first and golden age of the church? Certainly not. ‘I pray not for these only, but for them also which shall believe’On me through their word.’ We, that now live hundreds of years after they are dead and gone, have an interest in them. ‘Increase and multiply,’ was spoken to the first of the kind of all the beasts; and to the end of the world all creatures do produce and bring forth after their kind by virtue of this blessing. Christ doth not only speak of the first of the kind; but, that we might be sure to be comprised, he telleth us so in express words. Certainly much of our comfort would be lost if we were not comprehended in Christ’s prayers, for his prayers show the extent of his purchase.

The honour that is put upon private believers; their names are in Christ’s testament; they are bound up in the same bundle of life with the apostles. Here is a question, whether this passage relateth to the foregoing requests, or else to these that follow? What part of the prayer hath this passage respect to? Answer — I suppose to the whole; it looketh upward and downward. The middle part of the chapter doth chiefly concern the apostles and disciples of that age; some things are proper to them, yet there are many things in common that concern us and them too. He had lately said, ‘I sanctify myself for their sakes;’ he would not have that restrained. In the latter part of the chapter all believers are more especially concerned; yet some passages are intermingled that do also concern the apostles: ver. 22, ‘The glory which thou hast given me, I have given them;’ ver. 25, ‘They have known that thou hast sent me;’ ver. 26, ‘I have declared my name to them, and will declare it.’ Thus you see we are partly concerned in all the prayer. It is a great favour that he would make mention of us to God. As David, when about to die, did not only pray for Solomon his successor, but for all the people, so doth Christ not only pray for the college of the apostles, to whom the government of the church was committed upon his departure, but for all believers to the end of the world. He prayeth for the apostles, as intrusted with a great work, and liable to great danger and hatred; but yet he doth not neglect the church.

{Page 17}Secondly, Positively; the persons for whom he prays. They are described by their faith, and their faith is described by the object of it, ‘That believe in me;’ and by the ground and warrant of it, ‘Through their word.’

And so the points will be two: —

That believers, and they only, are interested in Christ’s prayers.

That, in the sense and reckoning of the gospel, they are believers that are wrought upon to believe in Christ through the word.

Doct. 1. That believers, and they only, are interested in Christ’s prayers.

Though Christ cloth enlarge the object of his prayers, yet he still keepeth within the pale of the elect. He saith, John 17:9, ‘I pray not for the world;’ and now, περὶ τῶν πιστευσόντων, ‘for them that shall believe in me.’ He doth not pray for all, whether they believe or no, but only for those that shall believe. Now this Christ cloth, partly because his prayers and his merit are of equal extent: ‘I sanctify myself for their sakes;’ and then, ‘I pray not for these only, but for them that shall believe in me through their word;’ Romans 8:33, 34, ‘Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth; who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us;’ 1 John 2:1, 2, ‘If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins.’ His prayers on earth do but explain the virtue and extent of his sacrifice: he such out what he purchased, and his intercession in heaven is but a representation of his merit; both are acts of the same office. Partly because it is not for the honour of Christ that his prayers should fall to the ground: John 11:42, ‘I know that thou hearest me always.’ Shall the Son of God’s love plead in vain, and urge his merit, and not succeed? Then farewell the sure-ness and firmness of our comfort. Now Christ’s prayers would fall to the ground if he should pray for them that shall never believe.

Use 1. It is much for the comfort of them who do already believe. You may be sure you are one of those for whom Christ prayeth, whether Jew or Gentile, bond or free. Particulars are under their general. How do we prove John or Thomas to be children of wrath by nature? All were so. So Christ prayeth for all those that shall believe, as much as if he had brought them forth, and set them before God by head and poll. And if Christ prayed for thee, why is not thy joy full? Why did he speak these things in the world? It is a copy of his intercession. Christ would show, a little before his departure, what he doth for us in heaven; he saith out his purchase, and pleadeth our right in court. It is a sign we have a room in his heart, because we have a name in his prayers. And what blessings doth he seek for? Union with himself, communion with him, in grace here, in glory hereafter. It is a comfort against all temptations, doubts, dangers; you are commended to the Father’s care.

Use 2. It is an engagement to others to believe. If he had commanded some great thing, ought we not only?, ye done it? This comfort cannot he made out to you till you have actual faith; however it is with you in the purpose of God, yet you cannot apply this comfort till {Page 18} you believe. If a man should make his will, wherein rich legacies should be left to all that can prove a claim, by being thus and thus qualified, would not every one put in for a share? Believe, believe; this is the condition.

Use 3. It showeth the excellency of faith. Those that have an interest in Christ’s prayers are not described by their love, their obedience, or any other grace (though these are necessary in their place), but by their faith; and the godly are elsewhere called ‘of the household of faith.’ Wherever our implantation into Christ, or participation of the privileges of his death, or our spiritual communion in the church is spoken of, the condition is faith. It is a grace that sendeth us out of ourselves, to look for all in another. It is the mother of obedience. As all disobedience is by unbelief, so all obedience is by faith. First he said, ‘’ Ye shall not die;’ and then, ‘Ye shall be as gods.’ First he seeketh to weaken their faith in the word; they could not be proud and ambitious till they did disbelieve. Therefore, above all things let us labour after faith. Our hearts are taken up with the world, the honours and pleasures of it; these cannot make us happy, but Christian privileges will; all which are conveyed to us by faith.

But let us come to the second point.

Doct. 2. That, in the reckoning and sense of the gospel, they are believers that are wrought upon to believe in Christ through the word.

Here is the object, Christ; the ground, warrant, and instrumental cause, and that is the word. The warrant must be distinguished from the object; the warrant is the word, and the proper object of faith is Christ, as considered in his mediatory office. Sometimes the act of faith is terminated on the person of Christ, and sometimes on the promise, to show there is no closing with Christ without the promise, and no closing with the promise without Christ; as in a contract there is not only a receiving of the lease or conveyance, but a receiving of lands by virtue of such a deed and conveyance. So there is a receiving of the word, and a receiving of Christ through the word; the one maketh way for the other, the promise for our affiance in Christ. Faith that assents to the promise doth also accept of Christ; there is an act terminated on his person. Faith is not assensus axiomati, a naked assent to the propositions of the word, but a consent to take Christ, that we may rely upon him, and obey him as an all-sufficient Saviour.

But now let us speak of these distinctly.

First, Of the object, that is, to believe in Christ. There is believing ofChrist, and believing in Christ. He doth not say, Those that believe me, but, Those that believe in me through their word. Believing Christ implieth a credulity and assent to the word; and believing in Christ, confidence and reliance. Once more, believing in Christ is a notion distinct from believing in God: John 14:1, ‘Ye believe in God, believe also in me.’ Since the incarnation, and since Christ came to exercise the office of a mediator, there is a distinct faith required in him, because there are distinct grounds of confidence; because in him we see God in our nature, we have a claim by justice as well as mercy, we have a mediator who partaketh of God’s nature and ours, and so is fit to go between God and us.

{Page 19}Briefly to open this believing in Christ, it may be opened by the implicit or explicit acts of it.

1. There is something implicit in this confidence and reliance upon Christ, and that is a lively sense of our own misery, and the wrath of God due for sin. All God’s acts take date from the nothingness and necessity of the creature, and from thence also do begin our own addresses to God. God’s acts begin thence, that he may be all in all; from the creation to, the resurrection God keepeth this course, and then the dispensation ceaseth, for then there is no more want, but fulness. Creation is out of nothing; providence interposeth when we are as good as nothing; at the resurrection we are nothing but dust; God worketh on the few relics of death and time. So in all moral matters, as well as natural, it is one of his names, ‘He comforteth those that are cast down.’ When he came to convert Adam, he first terrified him: ‘They heard the voice of God in the garden, and were afraid,’ Genesis 3:10. He delivered Israel out of Egypt when their souls were full of anguish. We are first exercised with the ‘ministry of the condemnation,’ before ‘light and immortality are brought to life in the gospel.’ And still God keeps his old course; men are first burdened and sensible of their load before he giveth them ease and refreshment in Christ. At the first gospel sermon preached after the pouring forth of the Spirit, Acts 2:37, ‘They were pricked in their hearts.’ Christ’s commission was to preach the gospel to the poor and broken-hearted and bruised: Luke 4:18, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, the recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.’ This is the roadway to Christ. And all our addresses to God begin too thence. Man is careless: Matthew 22:5, ἀμελήσαντες. They made light of it;’ and proud: Romans 10:3, οὐχ ὑπετάγησαν. ‘They have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.’ The Israelites were not weary of Egypt till they were filled with anguish. Adonijah, when he found himself guilty of death, ‘he laid hold on the horns of the altar.’ The prodigal never thought of returning till he began to be in want, and to be soundly pinched. Therefore, till there be a due sense and conviction of conscience, it is not faith, but carnal security. In short, we can never be truly desirous of grace, we cannot prize it, ‘we do not run for refuge,’ Hebrews 6:18. We are not earnest for a deliverance till there be some such work.

There are two things keep the conscience quiet without Christ — peace and self, carnal security and self-sufficiency.

[1.] It is hard to wean men from the pleasures of sense, and to make them serious in the matters of their peace; before Christ and they be brought together, they and themselves must be brought together. This God seeketh to do by outward afflictions, that he may ‘take them in their month,’ as the ram was caught in the briars. In afflictions men bethink themselves: 1 Kings 8:47, ‘If they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they are carried captives,’ &c. It makes them to return upon themselves, how it is between God and them. If affliction worketh not, he joineth the word; it is ‘a glass wherein we see our natural face.’ James 1:21.

God showeth them what loathsome {Page 20} creatures they are, how liable to wrath. Or if not, by the power of his Spirit upon their consciences; their reins may chasten them; they cannot wake in the night, or be solitary in the day, but their hearts are upon them; so great a matter is it to bring men to be serious.

[2.] Self. When the prodigal began to be in want,’ he joined himself to a man of that country,’ Luke 15:15. We have slight promises and resolutions, and all to elude the present conviction; long it is ere the proud heart of man is gained to take Christ upon God’s terms. Convinced men are brought in, saying, ‘What shall I do?’ Acts 9:10. Then let God write down what articles he pleaseth, they are willing to subscribe and yield to any terms; as softened pewter, let it be never so bowed and battered, is receptive of any shape and form. This is the implicit act, or that which is required in believing, that a man should be a lost undone creature in himself, ready to do what God will have him.

2. The explicit acts, when a soul thus humbled casts itself upon Christ for grace, mercy, and salvation. This may be explained with respect to the two great ordinances, i.e., the word and prayer, which are, as it were, a spiritual dialogue between God and the soul. In the word, God speaketh to us; in prayer, we speak to God. God offereth Christ to us in the word, and we present him to God in prayer. So that the acts of faith are to accept of Christ as offered, and then to make use of him in our communion with God; and by this shall you know whether you do believe in him.

[1.] Accepting Christ in the word. Faith is expressed by receiving him: John 1:12, ‘To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe in his name.’ Receiving is a relative word, and presupposeth God’s offer. Art thou willing to take Christ upon these terms? Yes, saith the soul, with all my heart; I accept him as a sanctifier, as a saviour, and I can venture all in his hands. Then you answer God’s question. How often doth God lay forth the excellences of Christ, and none regard him? But a poor hunger-bitten conscience prizeth him, receiveth him with all his heart, and entertaineth him in the soul with all respect and reverence. This is to take Christ, ‘to accept him as Lord and Saviour upon God’s offer.’ As when Isaac was offered to Rebekah, ‘Laban and Bethuel answered, saying, The thing proceedeth from the Lord; we cannot speak unto thee good or bad,’ Genesis 24:50; they consented to take him, because they saw God in it. So they see God tendering Christ in the word, and they are willing to take him upon his own conditions.

[2.] By making use of him in prayer. The great use of Christ is that we may come to God by him: Hebrews 7:25, ‘Wherefore lie is able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God by him.’ We must make our approaches to God for supplies of grace, in the confidence of his merit. It is a great fault in Christians that they do so little think of this act of faith. Wo are busy about applying Christ to ourselves. The great use of Christ is in dealing with God: Hebrews 10:19, ‘Having therefore boldness, brethren, to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.’ Every prayer that you make with any confidence and liberty of spirit, it cost Christ his heart’s blood. He knew {Page 21} that guilt is shy of God’s presence, as the malefactor trembleth to come before the judge: Ephesians 3:12, ‘In whom we have boldness, and access with confidence, through the faith of him.’ Surely the apostle speaketh tie jure, not what is de facto. We have low and dark thoughts, as if we had no such liberty purchased for us; παρρησίαν ἔχομεν, we may be free with God. It is the fruit of Christ’s purchase. Christ’s name signifieth much in heaven.

Use. Can you thus believe in Christ, take him out of God’s hand? No; I cannot apply Christ. I answer — Yet disclaim, when you cannot apply: Philippians 3:9, ‘And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is after the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God through faith.’ And apply yourselves to Christ when you cannot apply Christ to you; that is, cast yourselves upon Christ. You have warrant enough from the word. There is an adventure of faith when there is no persuasion of interest: 2 Timothy 1:12, ‘I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that lie is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.’ The venture is grounded on God’s free offer of him to all sorts. When we rest on him, because we know he is ours, that is another thing; there is trust, that is a fruit of propriety: 1 John 5:13, ‘These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.’ But the adventure is grounded on the offer, as a child holds fast his father in the dark; mariners cast anchor at midnight And ripen faith more; all faith draweth to particular application. The lowest degree is a desire to lay hold on Christ as our Saviour; this is the tendency and aim of the least faith, though we do not leap into full assurance at first; as a man that climbeth up to the top of the tree, first he catcheth hold of the lowest boughs, and so by little and little he windeth himself into the tree fill he cometh to the top.

Secondly, The next thing is the warrant or instrument, ‘Through their word.’ It is not meant only of those that heard the apostles in person. By ‘their word ‘is meant the scripture, which was not only preached by them at first, but written by them; as Paul saith, Romans 2:16, ‘In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel;’ that is, which I have published and delivered to the church in writing: John 15:1G, ‘Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain.’ By their ‘fruit’ is meant the public treasure of the church, the scriptures, and that remaineth in all ages until Christ come; as the Jews were children of the prophets, that never heard them, Acts 3:25. So were we converted by their word.

Now I shall handle the necessity, use, and power of the word to work faith.

1. The necessity of the word preached; it is the ordinary means. It is a nice dispute whether God can work without it. God can enlighten the world without the sun. It is clear ordinarily he doth not work without the word; we are bound, though the Spirit is free: ‘How shall they believe on him of.whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?’ Romans 10:14. It is the means to {Page 22} convey faith into the hearts of the elect; it is as necessary to faith, as faith to prayer, and prayer to salvation. It is a means under a promise. You see how necessary it is; they that voluntarily neglect the means, put a scorn upon God’s institution. Men will say, I can read at home. Are you wiser than lie? Men think that, of all other things, preaching might best be spared; and of all offices, hearing is least necessary. The ear received the first temptation; sin and misery broke in that way; so doth life and peace. The happiness of heaven is expressed by seeing, the happiness in the church by bearing. This is our great employment, to wait upon the word preached; next to Christ’s word, it is a great benefit to have the word written; next to the word written, the word preached. Christ sent ‘first apostles, then pastors and teachers.’ God could have converted Paul without Ananias, taught the eunuch without Philip, instructed Cornelius without Peter. Do not hearken to those that cry up an inward teaching, to exclude the outward teaching; as if the external word were but an empty sound and noise, as the Libertines in Calvin’s time. Faith, confirmed by reading, is usually begotten by hearing.

The use of the word: it is our warrant. What have we to show for our great hopes by Christ but the word? It is our excitement, a means and instrument to show us God’s heart and our own, our natural face, and the worth of Christ, the key which God useth and openeth our hearts by. Ministers are Christ’s spokesmen; if we will not open the ear, why should God open the heart?

The power of the word is exceeding great. It is ‘the power o£ God to salvation.’ The first gospel sermon that ever was preached, after the pouring forth of the Spirit, had great success: Acts 2:41, ‘The same day there were added to the church about three thousand souls.’ It was a mighty thing that an angel should slay 185, 000 in one night in Sennacherib’s host; but it is easier to kill so many than to convert one soul. One angel, by his mere natural strength, could kill so many armed men; but all the angels in heaven, if they should join all their forces together, could not convert one soul. There were single miracles of curing one blind or one lame; ay! but the apostle’s word could work three thousand miracles: 1 Corinthians 3:5, ‘Who is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?’

Why doth God use the word? I answer — Because it pleased him: 1 Corinthians 1:21, ‘It pleased God, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe.’

[1.] It is most suitable to man’s nature. Man is made of body and soul, and God will deal with him both ways, by internal grace and external exhortations. Man is a reasonable creature; his will is not brutish; God will not offer violence to the principles of human nature. Man is not only weak, but wicked; there is hatred as well as impotency. God will overcome both together, by sweet counsels, mixed with a mighty force; he useth such a remedy as our disease requireth; the gospel is not only called ‘the power of God,’ but ‘the wisdom of God,’ 1 Corinthians 1:24. There are excellent arguments which the heart of man could not have found out.

[2.] It is agreeable to his own counsels to try the reprobate by an {Page 23} outward rule and offer, wherein they have as much favour as the elect; they shall one day know ‘that a prophet hath been among them,’ and so be ‘left without excuse,’ Romans 1:20. The rain falleth on rocks as well as fields; the sun shineth to blind men as well as those that can see.

[3.] It commendeth his grace to the elect. Their faith must be ascribed to grace. When others have the same means, the same voice and exhortations, it is the peculiar grace of God that they come to understand and believe. Whence is it that the difference ariseth? that whereas wicked men are by the word restrained and made civil (there being a use of wicked men in the world, as of a hedge of thorns about a garden), they are by the same word converted and brought home to God? It is from the grace of God.

Use. Examination. Is our faith thus wrought? Every one should look how he cometh by his faith, by what means. True faith is begotten and grounded upon the word; it is the ordinary means to work faith. The word will be continued, and a ministry to preach it, as long as there are any to be converted. The gospel alone revealeth that which may satisfy our necessities; it giveth a bottom for faith and particular application, as being the declaration of God’s will. It is the only means sanctified by Christ for that end: John 17:17, ‘Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth;’ James 1:18. ‘Of his own will begat he us, through the word of truth.’ The condition of those is woful that want the gospel, or put it from them: Acts 13:46, ‘Seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. If faith be of the right make, the word will show thee once thou hadst none, and that thou wert not able of thyself to believe. Beseech the Lord to work it in thee.

Vol 11.—Sermon 33.—John 17:19.—And for their sakes I sanctify myself that they also might he sanctified through the truth

posted 12 Apr 2014, 13:50 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 12 Apr 2014, 13:53 ]

'Sermons upon the Seventeenth Chapter of St John'

Sermon 33. — John 17:19. — And for their sakes I sanctify myself that they also might he sanctified through the truth

This is the second argument; he had urged their commission, now his own merit. Justice might interpose and say, They are unworthy; but Christ saith, ‘I sanctify myself for them.’ He dealeth with the Father, not only by way of entreaty, but merit; and applieth himself not only to the good-will of the Father, as his beloved one, but to his justice, as one that was ready to lay down his life as a satisfaction. 

In the text are two things: — 

1. A meritorious cause, ‘And for their sakes I sanctify myself.’ Where — 

[1.] Qut’s, the person, who is represented under a double notion — as an efficient cause, ‘I sanctify;’ and as the object-matter, ‘Myself;’ the person sanctifying and sanctified, the author and the object, the efficient and the material cause of this sanctification. 

Quid, the action, what he did, ἁγιάζω, ‘I sanctify.’ 

Pro quibus, the persons for whom this was done, ‘For their sakes;’ not for himself, he needed it not, but for their sakes, ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν. 

2. The effect of Christ’s sanctifying himself, ‘That they might be sanctified through the truth.’ Where — 

[1.] The blessing intended, ‘That they might be sanctified.’ It is honum congruum, for in all things Christ must πρωτεύειν, ‘have the pre-eminence;’ it is honum morale, not that they might he rich, happy, glorious, but sanctified; it is honum specificaiivum, such as maketh an evidence; for none can make comfortable application of the benefits of redemption but the sanctified, who have grace and holiness infused in them, and do devote and consecrate themselves to serve God in holiness and righteousness all their days. 

[2.] The means, manner, or end, ἐν ἀληθείᾳ; it may be rendered through the truth, in truth, or for the truth; all which readings admit of a commodious explication. 

(1.) As the means, ‘Through the truth,’ as the rule and instrument; [[@Page:4]] the word accompanied with the virtue of Christ’s death is that which sanctifieth. 

(2.) The manner, ‘In truth,’ or truly, in opposition to legal purifications by the use of the ceremonies of the law, which were but a shadow of true holiness: Hebrews 9:13, 14, ‘For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?’ And in opposition to counterfeit sanctification: Ephesians 4:24, ‘And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness;’ such as is sincere, true, and real. 

(3.) The end, ‘For the truth,’ that they may be consecrated, set apart, and fitted for that function of preaching the truth. The context seemeth to justify this. From the whole observe — 

Doct. That Christ did set himself apart to be a sacrifice for us, that we might be sanctified by the means appointed thereunto. 

I shall explain this point by opening the text. 

First, I begin with the meritorious cause, ‘And for their sakes I sanctify myself.’ Where — (1.) The agent, I; (2.) The act, sanctify; (3.) The object, myself; (4.) The persons concerned, for their sakes. 

First, The agent, ‘I sanctify myself.’ In other places it is ascribed to the Father and the Spirit. To the Father: John 10:36, ‘Him hath the Father sanctified, and sent into the world.’ To the Spirit: Acts 10:38, 

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.’ He did not only frame the human nature of Christ out of the substance of the Virgin, but adorned it with gifts and graces fit for his office and work. And here Christ saith, ‘I sanctify myself.’ All the persons in the divine nature concur to this work. The Father sanctifieth and sets him apart by his decree and designation; the Son sanctifieth himself, to show his willingness and condescension; the Spirit sanctifieth him by his operation, furnishing him with meet graces and endowments that were necessary for that singular person who should redeem the world. Christ’s sanctifying himself falleth under our consideration, and doth show partly his original authority, as a person of the Godhead, coequal with the Father and the ‘Spirit: ‘Whatsoever the Father doeth, the Son doeth also,’ John 5:19. Partly his voluntary submission; as the Father did consecrate the Son to the office of mediator, and the Spirit qualified him with all fulness of grace, so did Christ consecrate himself, as being a most willing agent in this work, and did really offer himself to become man, and to suffer all that misery, pain, and shame that was necessary for our expiation. The scripture often sets it forth to us: Ephesians 5:2, ‘Walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.’ He did not do this work by constraint, but of a ready mind. When it was first propounded to him in God’s decree, Hebrews 10:9, ‘Then he said, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God!’ And before the time was come about when he should assume the human nature into the unity of his person, he feasted himself with the thoughts of that salvation which he should set afoot in the habitable parts of the earth: 

[[@Page:5]]Proverbs 8:31, ‘Rejoicing in the habitable parts of the earth, and my delights were with the sons of men.’ When the incarnation was passed, then he longed for the time of his passion: Luke 12:50, ‘I have a baptism to be baptised with, and how am I straitened till it be accomplished!’ So willing was he to do and suffer that whereunto he was sent: Luke 22:15, ‘With desire have I desired to eat this pass-over with you before I die;’ that passover, because it was the last, the forerunner of his agonies. His heart was set upon that work. His behaviour in bis death showed how willingly he did undergo it: John 13:1, ‘Having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them unto the end;’ then was his bitter work, but that did not abate his love. The heathens counted it a lucky sacrifice that went to the altar without struggling and roaring; certainly Christ did meekly suffer what was imposed on him for the expiation of our sins: Isaiah 53:7, ‘He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.’ A swine whineth and maketh a noise, but a sheep is dumb; this was the emblem chosen to represent Christ’s meekness and patience. Salt cast into the fire danceth and leapeth with a kind of impatience, but oil riseth up in a gentle flame; so Christ suffered, not only with patience, but delight. He did not lay down his life by constraint, but died by consent: John 10:18, ‘No man taketh my life from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again.’ Now this endeareth our obligation to him, that he would consecrate himself to the work of the mediatory office, and to that end assume the human nature into the unity of his person, and so willingly condescend to all that sorrow and pain that he was to endure for our sakes, and offer himself up as a sacrifice for our sins; being for a while without the actual sense of his Father’s love: ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ Matthew 27:46. 

But more distinctly let us consider the greatness of his sufferings, his willingness to endure them. 

1. The greatness of his sufferings. His passions, take them in the very letter, were sore, but they were heightened by the delicacy of his temper; never any man suffered as he did, because never such a man. A blow on the head is soon felt because it is a principal member, and so more sensible than other parts of the body. A slave is not so sensible of blows and stripes as a nobleman of a tender and delicate constitution. Our Saviour Christ was of a more delicate constitution than any other; his body was immediately framed by the Spirit in the Virgin’s womb. Lawrence on the gridiron, Stephen when stoned, could not be so sensible as Christ on the cross. None of the martyrs suffered what he did. Christ had a particular knowledge of all sins committed in the world, past, present, and to come, and a particular sorrow for them; which was the greater by how much the more he prized the honour of God. His love towards him was infinite, his hatred to sin infinite, his apprehension of his Father’s displeasure clear; all which made his soul heavy to the death. Our sins were more burdensome to him than his own wounds. No man’s understanding is so great as to apprehend what Christ felt; Christ himself can only give us an account of the greatness of his sufferings. David confessed [[@Page:6]] ‘that his sins were more than the hairs upon his head;’ yet he saith, Cleanse me from secret sins;’ implying many had escaped his notice and knowledge. How great was the burden of Christ, that was the Lamb bearing the sins of the whole world! Neither did Christ suffer pains only for sins, but to make a purchase of spiritual blessings; and yet the price exceeded the value of that which was bought. 

2. His willingness to suffer for us. Christ was so set upon his passion that he called Peter Satan for contradicting it: Matthew 16:23, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan, for thou art an offence to me.’ When Jonah saw the storm he said, ‘Cast me into the sea;’ this storm was raised for his own sake; but when Christ saw the misery of mankind he said, Let it come on me. We raised the storm, Christ was cast in to allay it; as if a prince, passing by an execution, should take the malefactor’s chains and suffer in his stead. Christ bore our sorrows; he would have this work in no other hands but his own. His earnestness to partake of the last passover showeth his willingness; he had such a desire to see his body on the cross’, that Judas seemed too slow, not diligent enough. Christ saith, John 13:27, ‘That thou doest, do quickly.’ It is not an approbation of his sin, but a testimony of his love; every day seems long. If Christ had been to suffer so much for every man as he did for all mankind, he would have done it; there wanted but a precept, there wanted not love; his heart was much beyond his sufferings, as the windows of the temple were greater and more open within than without, 1 Kings 6:4. If Paul, that had but a drop of grace, could ‘wish himself accursed from Christ for his brethren, his kindred according to the flesh,’ Romans 9:3, how much more willing was Christ! Surely then we should as readily consecrate ourselves to his service. Christ saith, ‘Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. Hebrews 10:9; and it becometh every Christian to make an unbounded resignation of himself to God: Acts 9:6, ‘Lord, what wouldst thou have me to do?’ 

Secondly, The act, ἁγιάζω, ‘I sanctify.’ Things are said in scripture to be sanctified when they are set apart, and fitted and prepared for some holy use. 

1. As it signifies to separate, or set apart from a common to a holy use, as the sacrifices under the law were separated and chosen out of the flock or herd, the best and the fairest, such as were without spot and blemish, and then designed for this holy use of being an offering to God, so was Christ separated for this use, to be the great sin-offering, or sacrifice of atonement for the whole congregation: 1 Peter 1:19, 20, ‘Ye were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.’ When was Christ so sanctified? He did sanctify himself when he accepted the conditions of the covenant of redemption, Isaiah liii. 10-12; and visibly at his baptism he did present himself among sinners as our surety, and offer himself to the Father to pay our ransom, which God accepted, for he declared himself well pleased with Christ, as standing in our room: Matthew 3:17, ‘Lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ Ordinary baptism is a dedication to God. So Christ’s baptism was a dedication of himself to the recovering of the lost world to God. And then a little before his death in this prayer, ‘I sanctify [[@Page:7]] myself;’ afterwards in his agonies, ‘Not my will, but thine be done;’ at his death he offered up himself, Hebrews 9:14, ‘Who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God.’ 

2. It signifieth his qualification and fitness; he did fit the human nature with all habitual and actual holiness. In this sense Christ did sanctify himself; as God, he fitted himself for this work. 

[1.] There was the innocency and purity of his human nature, without any stain of corruption, and therefore he is called ‘that holy thing,’ Luke 1:35. This holiness was necessary in regard of himself, otherwise his human nature could not be assumed into the unity of his person, for God can have no communion with sin, no more than light and darkness can agree together. It was necessary in regard of his office, that he might satisfy for our sins: Hebrews 7:26, ‘Such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners.’ The priest of the gospel must be sinless, because of the excellency of the sacrifice, that the priest may not be worse than the sacrifice. While things were carried in type and figure, and a beast was offered in sacrifice, a sinful man sufficed; but now the satisfaction was really to be made for us, and sin clone away, and we were to be made really holy, our priest was to be holy, harmless, undefiled. It is for our comfort that Christ was sanctified; his original sanctity is a remedy against our original sin and impurity. When we are troubled with our natural deformity, it is comfortable to think that God looketh upon us in Christ, who was holy by nature; it is a comfortable hope that the corruption of our nature is covered in God’s eyes, and shall be diminished more and more. 

[2.] His actual holiness in his conversation. The business of the mediator was to commend obedience, and he hath done it by his own example, and the way that he took to recover us to God: Romans 5:19, ‘As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous;’ Philippians 2:5, ‘Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.’ Some dislike such a particular application; we have need of all Christ’s properties, and we should make use of all. Why doth the scripture set it down, but to show that he is fit to remove sin original and actual? As a covetous man looks on a piece of gold, or we on a thing that we delight in, we turn it on every side. The first Adam was by God’s institution a common person, in him sinning the world sinned; the second Adam was a public fountain of holiness, who is an infinite person as well as a public person. 

Thirdly, The object, ‘I sanctify myself;’ not an angel to do this for us, but himself. Under the law the priests offered bulls and goats, while they themselves remained untouched, but Christ offered himself. As God he was priest, as man the sacrifice. As there was love in the Driest, so there is worth in the sacrifice. Christ was both priest and sacrifice; it was himself that he offered as a recompense to angry justice. Otherwise we might say, Here is the person sanctifying, but where is the sacrifice? As Isaac said to his father, Genesis 22:7, ‘Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt-offering?’ It is good to see in what nature Christ was the priest, and in what nature the sacrifice. In his divine nature the priest, for ‘he offered himself [[@Page:8]] through the eternal Spirit to God. Hebrews 9:14. In his human nature principally he was the sacrifice; for it is said. Hebrews 10:10, ‘We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.’ The godhead could not be offered, for who can offer himself, or any other thing to himself? And, besides, the thing sacrificed must be slain, for it is blood shed which was given to God upon his altar. In this respect it is said by Christ, John 6:51, ‘The bread which I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’ And when he had instituted the Eucharist in memory of this great sacrifice, he mentioneth his body broken and given, and his blood shed. Yet because the priest and the sacrifice is one, the value of this sacrifice ariseth from the divine nature. It is ‘the blood of God,’ Acts 20:28, that is, of the person who was God. 

Fourthly, The persons interested, ‘For their sakes.’ 

1. Negatively, not for himself; he needed it not, he had no sin to expiate, nor happiness to purchase anew. The scripture never speaks of Christ’s doing anything for his own sake, but still of his love to us. His incarnation was for us: Isaiah 9:6, ‘To us a child is born, to us a Son is given.’ His obedience was for us: Galatians 4:4, 5, ‘But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.’ His death was for us: Dan. 9:26, ‘The Messias shall be cut off, but not for himself.’ Our Lord died, not for himself, but for his people; Isaiah liii. 4, 5, ‘Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.’ He was made nothing for himself, but all things for us. Christ’s merit for himself is an unworthy doctrine. Bellarmine saith, Christus prwter ea bona quce suis laboribus peperit, meruit etiam sibi corporis gloriam, et nominis exaltationem. But if Christ were to merit for himself, his obedience was not voluntary, but due; and what could be merit which was not from his conception due to him? It is true Christ solaced his human soul with the consideration of consequent glory: Hebrews 12:2, ‘For the glory which was set before him, he endured the cross, and despised the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.’ But we cannot thence infer a merit. A prince disguised in a foreign country may solace himself with the honour and happiness he shall enjoy at home: Philippians 2:9, ‘Wherefore God hath also highly exalted him.’ And, ‘wherefore,’ noteth a consequent in order of time: Christ was ‘first to suffer, and then to enter into glory,’ Luke 24:26. 

If you say, Christ, as man, was bound to be subject, as a reasonable creature, to God his maker; as the son of Abraham, he was comprehended in the covenant made with that people: — I answer — 

[1.] If his human nature was bound to be subject, yet not his person, actiones sunt suppositorum. The human nature was taken into his person, and the divine nature could do more to free the human nature than the human nature to oblige the person to obedience. Christ pleadeth his freedom as God’s son: Matthew 17:26, ‘If of strangers, then are the children free.’ 

[[@Page:9]][2.] The human nature, as a creature, was to be subject to God, and guided by him, as being an inferior; but whether to a law of God is justly doubted; for the law is given to mere men for then-weakness, for the instruction of good and the restraint of bad; and therefore his being subject to the law was voluntary, and not necessary; if it were necessary, there could be no merit in it: Luke 17:10, ‘So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our duty to do.’ 

[3.] Again, Christ voluntarily brought himself into this condition merely for our sakes; as a man that removeth his dwelling into another country for his friend’s sake, while he is in that country, he is bound by the laws of it, but merely for his friend’s sake; or, as a surety, free before, when he cometh into bonds, he must discharge the debt, but all is for his friend’s sake; so Christ ‘was made under the law’ Galatians 4:4. He that makes himself a servant to free his friend is bound to service; yet his making himself a servant is meritorious. In short, if Christ had done aught for himself, he had been his own redeemer, mediator, and saviour. Christ came into the world, sanctified his nature, lived and died for our sakes; it is for our benefit and behoof, to effect our salvation. His human nature needed nothing but what might accrue to him by the dignity of his person. 

2. Positively, ‘For their sakes.’ The apostles are chiefly concerned in the context, who were sent into the world upon a peculiar message and errand; but all the elect are intended, partly because it is presently added, ver. 20, ‘Neither pray I for these alone, but for all that shall believe in me through their word;’ partly because it is a common benefit, and what doth not concern the apostles as apostles, but is common to them with others, must be extended to all; for their sakes he doth wholly consecrate himself, and set himself apart for his people’s benefit, that he might be theirs; it was for their weal, not for his own, that he might be their mediator and sacrifice. Christ was wholly set apart for our use; as mediator, he had no other work and employment but to procure our salvation. How doth this engage us to make use of Christ, for otherwise his undertaking is in vain, if we do not improve him for those ends and purposes for which he doth set apart himself; even as the sun would shine in vain if we did shut up ourselves in a dark place, and did not enjoy the light and comfort of it, and the brazen serpent would in vain be lifted up upon the perch and pole, if none that were stung would look upon it. Oh! let not Christ be a Christ in vain, 2 Corinthians 6:1, ‘We then, as workers together with him, beseech you that you receive not the grace of God in vain.’ If he wholly gave up himself to be a fountain of grace, holiness, comfort, and glory in our nature, and did fit himself to justify and sanctify us, and we never look after the benefit, we make him to be a Christ in vain. 

Secondly, We come now to the end, effect, and fruit of it, ‘That they might be sanctified through the truth.’ 

First, The benefit, or blessing intended, ‘That they also might be sanctified.’ Where — 

1. Observe, it is bonum morale, not that they might be rich, happy, [[@Page:10]]great, glorious in the world, but ‘that they might be sanctified.’ When Christ was on the cross, he neither wanted wisdom to choose, nor love to intend, nor merit to purchase the highest benefits, and those which were most necessary for us; but that which he had in his eye was our sanctification: Ephesians 5:26, ‘He loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it;’ and Hebrews 13:12, ‘Jesus, that he might sanctify the people, suffered without the gate.’ All his aim was to recover us to God, and dedicate us to God; for be came to repair the ruins of the fall, and save that which was lost: Luke 19:10, ‘The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.’ And we were first lost to God before we were lost to ourselves; as appeareth, Luke 15., by the parable of the lost sheep, which was lost to the owner; and the lost groat, which was lost to the possessor; and the lost son, which was lost to the father. Our misery is included; but the principal thing intended was, that God hath lost the honour of the creation. 

It is bonum congruum: ‘I sanctify myself, that they may be sanctified.’ The scripture delighteth in these congruities: Hebrews 5:8, 9, ‘He learned obedience by the things that he suffered: and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation to all them that obey him.’ As there is a suitableness between the seal and the impression, so between Christ and his people. In all things Christ must πρωτεύειν, he must have the pre-eminence. We have the blessings of the covenant, not only from him, but through him. Christ was elected: Isaiah xlii. 1, ‘Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my elect in whom my soul delighteth;’ so are we. Christ was justified: 1 Timothy 3:16, ‘God manifested in the flesh, justified in the spirit;’ so are we. Christ was sanctified, and we, in conformity to him, are sanctified also, as in the text. Christ rose again, ascended, and was glorified; so do we — he as the elder brother and first heir, and we in our order. 

It is bonum specificativum. It showeth the parties, or that sort of men to whom Christ intended the benefit: Hebrews 10:14, ‘For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified;’ them and no other: the godly themselves, while unconverted, and lying in their sins, have not the actual benefit of Christ’s redemption. 

But in what manner are we sanctified? Christ consecrated and sanctified himself as a sin-offering; but we are sanctified and consecrated as a thank-offering; Christ to do the work of a redeemer or mediator, we to do the work of the redeemed. We are set apart for the Lord, to glorify him in all holy conversation and godliness. 

Secondly, The means of applying and conveying this benefit: ‘Through the truth,’ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ. It may be rendered ‘through the truth,’ ‘in the truth,’ or ‘for the truth;’ all which readings admit of a commodious explication. 

1. In the truth, or truly, in opposition to legal purifications, which were but a shadow of true holiness: Hebrews 9:13, 14, ‘For if the blood of bulls and goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?’ 

Or in opposition to counterfeit sanctification: Ephesians 4:24, 

[[@Page:11]] ‘And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.’ Some only are sanctified externally, as they are in visible covenant with God: Hebrews 10:29, ‘And hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing.’ They live among his peculiar people; others are really renewed and changed by his Spirit, and turned from a sinful life to God, making conscience of every commanded duty, and aiming at his glory in all things. 

For the truth, that they may be consecrated, set apart, and fitted for that function of preaching the gospel. This is agreeable to the context, which limits this part of the prayer to the apostles. 

Through the truth, as we render it, and fitly, considering the 17th verse, ‘Sanctify them through the truth; thy word is truth;’ through the word, by which the virtue of Christ’s death is applied to us. There are certain means and helps by which Christ bringeth about this effect: Ephesians 5:26, ‘That he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water, through the word.’ The word offereth this grace, the sacraments seal and confirm it to us. So John 15:3, ‘Ye are clean, through the word which I have spoken to you.’ The word of command presseth it: Psalm 119:9, ‘Wherewithal shall a Young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.’ The word of promise encourageth us, 2 Corinthians 7:1, ‘Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all the filthiness of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.’ And the doctrine of Christ’s blood holds out the virtue whereby it may be done: 1 John 1:7, ‘The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.’ And it exciteth faith, by which the heart is purified: Acts 15:9, ‘Purifying their hearts by faith.’ 

Use 1. Information. It informeth us of divers important truths. 

That in ourselves we are polluted and unclean, or else what needed there so much ado to get us sanctified? This is needful to be considered by us: Job 15:14, ‘What is man that he, should be clean? and he that is born of a woman, that he should bo righteous?’ That is, man by nature is neither clean nor righteous, destitute of purity by nature, and uprightness of conversation. They are ill acquainted with man who think otherwise; for if we consider his earliness in sinning, his easiness in sinning, his constancy in sinning, and the universality of sinners, we may soon see what his nature is; and the fountain being so corrupt, the streams or emanations from it are defiled also. 

That nothing can cleanse us but the blood of Christ. Can man cleanse himself? Job 14:4, ‘Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.’ Can that which is corrupt cleanse itself? or that which is enmity to holiness promote it? Or can the word do it without Christ? Good instructions may show a man his duty, but cannot change the bent of his heart. Christ needed not only to be sent as a prophet, ver. 18, but must sanctify himself as a priest and sacrifice, before this benefit could be procured for us, as in the text. There was no possible way to recover holiness, unless a price, and no less a price than the blood of the Son of God, had been paid to provoked justice for us. He must sanctify himself, give himself, before we can be sanctified and cleansed. 

[[@Page:12]]That they do not aright improve the death of Christ that seek comfort by it, and not holiness. He died not only for our justification, but sanctification also. There are two reasons why the death of Christ hath so little effect upon us; either he is a forgotten Christ, or a mistaken Christ. A forgotten Christ: men do not consider the ends for which he came: 1 John 3:5, ‘Ye know that he was manifested, to take away our sins;’ and ver. 8, ‘To this purpose was the Son of God manifested, to destroy the works of the devil;’ to give his Spirit to sinful miserable man. Now things that we mind not do not work upon us. The work of redemption Christ hath performed without our minding or asking; he took our nature, fulfilled the law, satisfied the lawgiver, merited grace without our asking or thinking; but in applying this grace, he requireth our consideration: Hebrews 3:1, ‘Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest of our profession.’ Our faith: ‘Believest thou that I am able to do this for thee? ‘Our acceptance: John 1:12, ‘To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.’ But the other evil is greater, a mistaken Christ; when we use him to increase our carnal security and boldness in sinning, and are possessed with an ill thought, that God is more reconcilable to sin than he was before, and by reason of Christ’s coming there were less evil and malignity in sin, for then you make Christ a minister and encourager of sin: Galatians 2:17, ‘For if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore the minister of sin? God forbid!’ You set up Christ against Christ, his merit against his doctrine and Spirit; Yea, rather you set up the devil against Christ, and varnish his cause with Christ’s name, and so it is but an idol-Christ you dote upon. The true Christ ‘came by water and blood,’ 1 John 5:6; ‘Bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we, being dead unto sin, should live unto righteousness,’ 1 Peter 2:24. And will you set his death against the ends of his death? and run from and rebel against God because Christ came to redeem and recover you to God? Certainly those weak Christians that only make use of Christ to seek comfort, seek him out of self-love; but those that seek holiness from the Redeemer have a more spiritual affection to him. The guilt of sin is against our interest, but the power of sin is against God’s glory. He came to sanctify us by his holiness, not only to free our consciences from bondage, but our hearts, that we may serve God with more liberty and delight. This was the great aim of his death: Titus 2:14, ‘He gave himself for us, , that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify to himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.’ Thus did Christ, that the plaster might be as broad as the sore; we lost in Adam the purity of our natures, as well as the favour of God, and therefore he is made sanctification to us, as well as righteousness, 1 Corinthians 1:30. 

With what confidence we may use the means of grace, because they are sprinkled with the blood of Christ. Christ hath purchased grace, such a treasure of grace as cannot be wasted; and this is dispensed to us by the word and sacraments. The apostle doth not say barely, he died ‘to cleanse us,’ but ‘to cleanse us by the washing of water through the word;’ and here, ‘that we might be sanctified [[@Page:13]] through the truth.’ Christ hath established the merits, but the actual influence is from the Spirit: Titus 3:5. 6, ‘According to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ.’ And the means are the word and sacraments, whereby the Spirit dispenseth the grace in Christ’s name; ordinarily the gospel, which is ‘the ministration of the Spirit,’ 2 Corinthians 3:8. If we come to the Father, we need his grace’: Revelation 19:8, ‘And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.’ All cometh originally from his merciful grant; but God would not look towards us, but for Christ’s sake. If we look to the Father, he sendeth us to the Son, ‘whose blood cleanseth us from all our sins,’ 1 John 1:7. If we look to the Son, he referreth us to the Spirit; therefore we read of ‘the sanctification of the Spirit,’ 2 Thessalonians 2:13. If we wait for the Spirit’s efficacy, he sendeth us to Moses and the prophets, where we shall hear of him. Therefore we may with encouragement pray, read, hear, meditate, that all these duties may be sanctified to us. 

If holiness be the fruit of Christ’s death, it maketh his love to be more gratuitous and free. For all the worth that we can conceive to be in ourselves, to commend us to God, is in our holiness. Now this is merely the fruit of grace, and the merit of Christ, and the gift of his Spirit in us. We wallow in our own filthiness, till he, of his grace, for Christ’s sake, doth sanctify us by his Spirit. Both the love of God and the merit of Christ is antecedent to our holiness: ‘He hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and made us kings and priests to God, and to the Father,’ Revelation 1:5, 6. And the Spirit’s work is not lessened, as if it were no great matter: 2 Peter 1:3, ‘According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that appertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.’ 

We learn hence the preciousness of holiness; it is a thing clearly bought, and the great blessing which Christ intended for us. We do not value the blessings of the covenant so much as we should. Christ was devising what he should do for his church to make it honourable and glorious, and this way he took to make it holy. 

[l.] It is the beauty of God; for God himself is ‘glorious in holiness,’ Exodus 15:11, and ‘we are created after his image, in righteousness and true holiness,’ Ephesians 4:24. The perfection of the divine nature lieth chiefly in his immaculate holiness and purity. 

[2.] It is that which maketh us amiable in the sight of God, for he delighteth not in us as justified so much as sanctified: Psalm 11:7, ‘For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness, his countenance doth behold the upright.’ When, upon the account of Christ’s merits and satisfaction, he hath created a clean heart in us, and renewed a right spirit, then lie delighteth in us. It is his image makes us amiable, and therefore we should make it our great desire and care to be as holy as may be. 

[3.] Much of our everlasting blessedness lieth in it: Ephesians 5:27, ‘That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.’ 

[[@Page:14]][4.] It is a great part of our salvation by Christ: Matthew 1:21, ‘Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins;’ Acts 3:26, ‘Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.’ 

[5.] It is a means to the rest. Communion with God and Christ here: 1 John 1:6, 7, ‘If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.’ And everlasting fruition of God hereafter: Acts 26:18, ‘That they may receive forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me;’ Heh. 12:14, ‘Without holiness no man shall see God.’ 

7- It showeth us who arc partakers of the benefits and fruits of Christ’s death: Hebrews 2:11, ‘For both he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified, are all of one; wherefore he is not ashamed to call them brethren;’ Hebrews 10:14, ‘For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified;’ perfected, but by degrees. The elect themselves, whilst they are unconverted and remain in their sins, have not the actual benefit of Christ’s redemption. Our dying Lord had an actual intention in due time to sanctify, and accordingly doth regenerate, justify, sanctify all those who shall have benefit by his death. But who are the sanctified? It is to he considered positively and relatively. Positively, it is to be renewed to God’s image: Titus 3:5, ‘He saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;’ 2 Peter 1:4, ‘That by these we might be made partakers of the divine nature.’ This is the great work of the sanctifying Spirit, to make us like God, and to work in us those graces whereby we may be qualified and inclined to live to him. Relatively, to be sanctified is to be separated from a common to a holy relation and use. This is seen in three things — inclination, dedication, and use. 

[1.] Inclination towards God. This is the immediate fruit of grace, called conversion, or turning to God; the new nature tendeth and bendeth to him. 

[2.] Dedication, 2 Corinthians 8:5, ‘They first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God;’ Romans 6:13, ‘Yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.’ This is in entering into covenant with God. 

[3.] Use is nothing but the exercise of this disposition and inclination, called ‘living to God,’ or performance of this dedication: 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20, ‘"What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own, but ye are bought with a price? therefore glorify God in your bodies and souls, which are the Lord’s;’ Zechariah 14:20, ‘In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness to the Lord.’ By the latter there is a difference between us and others: 1 John 5:19, ‘And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.’ And between us and ourselves: 1 Corinthians 6:11, ‘Such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are justified, but ye are sanctified, in the name of our Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.’ This must be more explicit every day. 

[[@Page:15]]Use 2. Direction in the Lord’s supper. Here we come to remember Christ’s sacrifice, and to interest ourselves in the fruits of it. 

To remember Christ’s sacrifice. As the elements are set apart for a holy use, so was Christ sanctified. All sacraments represent Christ dead. Baptism: ‘We are baptised into his death,’ Romans 6:3. In the Lord’s supper ‘We show forth his death till he come,’ 1 Corinthians 11:26; his body was broken, his blood shed. Christ would institute a representation of his humiliation rather than of his glory, to represent his love to us; it was for our sakes rather than his own honour; to represent what concerned us. 

To interest ourselves in the fruits of it. Look after the fruits of it. 

[1.] Bewailing your unholiness, both in heart and life, that you were so long trained up in the knowledge of Christ’s truth, and did so little love God, and live to him; that God hath opened a fountain for sin and for uncleanness, and you are no more cleansed to this very day; and have gotten so little of the sanctifying Spirit, as if you were strangers in Israel. 

[2.] Hunger and thirst for this grace, his renewing, as well as reconciling grace: Matthew 5:6, ‘Blessed are those that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.’ Desire it earnestly. 

[3.] Lift up your hearts with confidence and hope, when the sacrifice of Christ is represented to you, because God hath accepted this sacrifice, and is well pleased with it: Isaiah 53:4, 5, ‘Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. For he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes are we healed.’ We have no reason to despair of the cure, that Holy Spirit who sanctified our head, who had no sin, by preventing sin in his conception, and anointed him to his office, is able to enlighten, convert, sanctify us also. 

[4.] Praise him for so much grace as you have received, that he hath inclined your hearts to his blessed self: 1 Peter 1:3, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead;’ at least that he made you serious. 

[5.] Dedicate yourselves to God, to walk before him in all new obedience: Romans 12:1, ‘I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.’

Vol 11.—Sermon 18.—Romans 6:17.—But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

posted 12 Apr 2014, 13:42 by Stephen Chaffer   [ updated 12 Apr 2014, 13:43 ]

'Sermons upon the Sixth Chapter of Romans' 

— Sermon 18. — 

Romans 6:17. — But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

In the sixteenth verse the apostle had laid down a general maxim, which he applieth, first to the matter in hand, in the same verse; now to the persons to whom he wrote, the believing Romans, in the text, ‘But God be thanked,’ &c. 

In the words there are three things — 

1. Their past estate by nature, or what they were before conversion, ‘Ye were the servants of sin.’ 

2. Their present estate by grace, ‘But ye have obeyed from the heart that form of sound doctrine which was delivered to you.’ 

3. The praise of all is given to God’s grace, ‘But God be thanked.’ To open these, I shall begin with — 

1. Their past estate, They had been servants of sin, that is, lived long in a course of sin: John 8:34, ‘Whoso committeth sin, is the servant of sin;’ that is, whosoever doth voluntarily and ordinarily indulge sin, and goeth on in an open course of sinning, he is a servant or slave to sin; for he doth not, yea, cannot, do that which reason and conscience judgeth to be good, or the word of God requireth from him; but doeth the contrary, that which the word of God and conscience disalloweth. This was sometimes their estate, and ours also; for we
are all hewn out of the same quarry and rock. Only let me tell you, that the servitude of sin is either natural or acquired. 

[1.] Natural or hereditary from our first parents; so we are all prone to evil, and averse from and unable to that which is good: Genesis 8:21, ‘The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.’ The word which we translate youth, signifieth also childhood; and the scripture elsewhere runneth up to the womb: Psalm 51:5, ‘Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.’ We see how early children manifest sin. Now the earliness and commonness and universality of these evil inclinations showeth what contagion hath invaded all mankind. 

[2.] Acquired, when time and custom doth confirm these evil habits in us: Jeremiah 13:23, ‘Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, who are accustomed to do evil.’ We use to say, Custom is as a second nature. It is so here; it is corrupt nature confirmed, or inbred and native corruption improved. Thus were they servants of sin, and though all do not improve corrupt nature to such a height and degree as others do, yet all serve sin till grace maketh a change. 

2. Their present or converted estate; where take notice — 

(1.) Of their rule, ‘That form of doctrine;’ (2.) The manner of applying it, ‘Which was delivered unto you;’ (3.) The effect, ‘Ye have obeyed from the heart.’ 

[1.] The rule, the ‘form of doctrine,’ that is, the whole gospel, or at least some summary of the Christian doctrine concerning things to be {Page 318} believed and done, called ‘the pattern of wholesome words,’ 2 Timothy 1:13, or ‘the principles of the doctrine of Christ,’ Hebrews 6:1. 

[2.] The manner of application, ‘Which was delivered unto you,’ or ‘whereinto ye were delivered,’ εἰς ὃν παρεδόθητε τύπον διδαχῆς. The doctrine of the gospel is the pattern and mould according to which the new creature is framed; as metal taketh its form from the mould into which it was cast, there is a due impression left upon the soul; or as the stamp and seal leaveth a suitable impression on the wax; but rather the former. 

[3.] The effect, ‘Ye have obeyed from the heart.’ There is — (1.) Obedience; and (2.) Obedience from the heart;. 

The most precious truths will do us no good unless they be digested into love and practice. When truth is turned into love, or received into the heart, it becometh a new nature to us; and when it is obeyed and practised, it attaineth its proper use and effect. For the truths of the gospel were not delivered to us to try the acuteness of men’s wits, who can most subtly dispute of these things; nor the strength of memory, who can most firmly retain them; or plausibleness of discourse, who can most elegantly speak of them; but the readiness of obedience, who can best practise them. Therefore here is obedience spoken of, ‘Ye have obeyed,’ that is, begun to obey, ‘the doctrine of the gospel;’ therefore you must go on still, and not return to your old slavery and bondage. And this ‘from the heart,’ which implieth both the voluntariness and sincerity of their obedience. 

(1.) It was free and voluntary, not compelled; for that is said to be from the heart which is not done grudgingly and of necessity, but readily and cheerfully, 2 Corinthians 9:7, ‘Every one according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give, not grudgingly, nor of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver.’ 

(2.) It was sincere, and not dissembled: Colossians 3:23, ‘Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, not unto men.’ God seeth all things; what is done to him must be sincerely done. 

3. There is one thing yet to be explained; and that is his giving thanks for this, χάρις τῷ θεῷ, ‘God be thanked.’ Here it may be inquired — (1.) Concerning the object, for what he giveth thanks; (2.) The subject, from whom he expects this performance. 

[1.] Concerning the object; it respects not the former, but the latter clause: their being once sinners is not the matter of his thanksgiving, but that they had received and obeyed the Christian faith. However, this must be said, that it doth heighten the mercy, or illustrate the benefit: it is a great mercy, that, having been once slaves of sin, yet now at length they were recovered by grace. To be brought into a state of light and life by the gospel were a great benefit, if a man had always been good and holy, at least not considerably bad; but when God will take us with all our faults, and those of so great and heinous a nature, surely we have the more cause to give thanks. Well, then, he doth not, could not give thanks, that once they had been the servants of sin. God was not the author of their servitude to sin, but he was of their obedience to the doctrine of life; his mercy turned the former evil to good. Or, if you will take that into any part of the {Page 319} thanksgiving, it must be thus: Since the condition of the servants of sin is so miserable, God be thanked that you have escaped it. 

[2.] From whom he expects this thankfulness. I answer — 

(1.) It doth excite their thanksgiving; he exciteth them to give thanks for this blessed change wrought in them: he moveth them not to give thanks for riches and secular honours, nor so much as consider whether they had or wanted these things; but for the good estate of their souls, that they were partakers of so great a benefit, as from servants of sin to become servants of Christ. 

(2.) It expresseth his own thanksgiving on their behalf, as congratulating and rejoicing with them in this mercy. The angels rejoice at the conversion of a sinner, Luke 15:10. So should we rejoice in the good of others, especially the pastors of the church: 3 John 4, ‘I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in the truth.’ Nothing that I more delight in in the world than to hear that those that are converted by me live after a Christian manner. 

Doct. That to be turned from the service of sin to the sincere obedience of the gospel is a benefit that we cannot sufficiently be thankful for. 

Let me represent it in the circumstances of the text — 

First, Here is a reflection upon their past state, ‘We were servants of sin.’ This is necessary and useful — 

1. To heighten the sense of our privileges by grace. Alas! what were we when God first sought after us? Slaves to sin and Satan, and children of wrath even as others. Look, as Jacob, by remembering his poor condition, doth raise his heart the more to admire God’s bounty to him: Genesis 32:10, ‘I am not worthy of the least of all thy mercies, and of all the truth which thou hast showed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan, and now I am become two bands.’ It would cure the pride of many if they would remember their mean originals, and how, like the hop-stalk, they mount up and grow out of the very dunghill. God solemnly enjoined his people, when they enjoyed the plenty of the land, to remember the obscure beginnings of their being a nation; and therefore, when they offered the first-fruits, they used this confession, Deuteronomy 26:5, ‘A Syrian ready to perish was my father when he went down to Egypt, and sojourned there with a few men, and became a nation great and mighty and populous.’ Thus God taught them to acknowledge that their first estate and original was most wretched and miserable; and so must we. It holdeth more in moral things: Ephesians 2:1-5, ‘And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom also we all had our conversation in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ;’ 1 Timothy 1:13, ‘Who was before a blasphemer and a persecutor and injurious; but I obtained mercy,’ ἠλεήθην, all to {Page 320} be mercied. That God should take us with all our faults, and bring us into a better condition, how doth this heighten the mercy! 

To quicken us to more diligence in our present estate. He that hath been a diligent servant to a hard and cruel master, from whom he could not expect any recompense worth his toil, surely should be diligent and faithful in the service of a loving, gentle, and bountiful master. This is urged, Romans 6:19, ‘As you have yielded your members servants to uncleanness, and to iniquity unto iniquity, even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.’ And it is illustrated by several scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15:9, 10, ‘I am the least of the apostles, and am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace that was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all;’ and Acts 26:11, ‘I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even to strange cities.’ 

To make the reality of the change more evident. There is a great change wrought in those who are brought home to God; it doth much hurt to believers, in judging of their own case, to forget what they once were: whereas, comparing these two, what they are and what they were, would sooner bring it to an issue, and make the change more sensible and evident. The scriptures often direct us to this method: Colossians 1:21, ‘And you that were sometimes alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled;’ Ephesians 2:13, ‘But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ;’ and Ephesians 5:8, ‘Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.’ Our gradual progress in holiness is more insensible, and therefore we may overlook the mercy, because we see not such eminent effects as we found at first. But all that belong to God may see a change, and say, as the blind man, John 9:25, ‘This one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, I now see;’ they may see plainly they are not the same men they were before. But when men forget the estate they were once in, and the great change the Spirit wrought in them, and feel not such alterations continually, they live in doubtfulness and darkness. As our forgetting our poverty and affliction maketh us undervalue a more plentiful condition, and those comforts which we would account a wonderful mercy before; or as when recovered and in health we forget the tediousness of sickness, and are not thankful for the comfortable days and nights we enjoy, when we go about our business and sleep without pain. So we undervalue the present state of grace by forgetting the unfruitful works of darkness, or the evil dispositions and practices of our unregeneracy, and have not such comfortable apprehensions of the mercy which the Spirit of God showed in our cure. Cannot you remember when it was once much otherwise with you? that you are not now the persons you were then? 

Secondly, Here is a description of their present state by grace, which deserveth to be weighed by us. In it I observe — 

1. That the doctrine of the gospel is in conversion imprinted on them; for it is said, that they have obeyed from the heart the form of doctrine into which they were delivered. Their very heart and soul {Page 321} was modelled according to the tenor of the gospel and the truths revealed therein. 

[1.] I will prove that it is so with all converts by that promise of the new covenant: Hebrews 8:10, ‘I will put my laws into their minds, and write them in their hearts.’ The thing written is the law of Christ or the new covenant, or the substance of the doctrine of the gospel; not every lesser opinion or minute circumstance of their duty, but those points which are essential to Christianity; smaller matters depend upon-a particular gift. The book is the mind and heart of the believer: by the mind is meant the understanding; by the heart the’ will or rational appetite: in the one is the directive counsel; in the other, the imperial and commanding power of the soul; the one is compared to the ark in which the law was put, ‘I will put my laws into their minds;’ the other to the tables of stone upon which the the law was written. God will convince their understandings of their duty, and incline their affections to receive and obey it. The writer, I. God challengeth it as his proper work, 2 Corinthians 3:3, ‘Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.’ By this Spirit the mind of man is enlightened, the heart is inclined; but yet we must do our duty, both, to understand the will of God, and set our hearts upon it, and do the things required of us. To understand, we must ‘dig for knowledge, and cry for understanding,’ Proverbs 2:3, 4; and for inclining our hearts, Psalm 119:112, ‘I have inclined my heart to perform thy statutes always, even unto the end;’ and for actual obedience, we are solemnly consecrated to God in baptism, that we may take up that course of living that is prescribed of God in the gospel; and therefore it is said, 1 Peter 1:14, ‘Not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts of your ignorance.’ We must not mould ourselves to any form but that of this doctrine, cast all our actions into this mould. 

[2.] I will show the fruits of it. They are either internal, within the man, or essential to this work, or resulting from it by immediate consequence; such as an abhorrence from sin, and a promptitude and readiness to holy actions. 

(1.) For the first, where the doctrine of the gospel is imprinted on our hearts, it is an awing principle which restraineth us from sin: Psalm 38:31, ‘The law of God is in his heart, none of his steps shall slide;’ he that knoweth and loveth what is commanded, knoweth and hateth what is forbidden; therefore his heart giveth back when anything contrary is offered to him: 1 John 3:9, ‘Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin, for his seed remaineth in him; neither can he sin, because he is born of God.’ Still something riseth up by way of dislike; he looketh upon sin not only as contrary to his duty, but his nature: Genesis 39:9, ‘How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?’ The heart as thus constituted is not easily brought to it. By this temptations arc defeated, whether from Satan or our own hearts. From Satan: 1 John 2:14, ‘1 have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.’ Or from our own hearts: Psalm 119:11: ‘Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.’ Our {Page 322} hiding the word in our hearts is subordinate to God’s writing it in our hearts; we must use the means, the grace is from him. 

(2.) A promptitude and readiness to holy actions; for all holy and heavenly actions are suited to them, and there is a cognation between the law within and the law without, so that they are carried after them with more love, delight, and pleasure: Psalm 40:8, ‘Thy law is within my heart; I delight to do thy will, O God.’ There is an inclination and propensity to do the will of God, and to please and serve him, which maketh our obedience more easy and even. 

[3.] The benefits of being stamped and moulded into the form of this doctrine. 

(1.) It is ready for our use; they have principles laid up to be laid out upon all occasions, either of trouble or temptation, or business, and affairs: Proverbs 6:21, 22, ‘Bind them continually upon thine heart, tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee.’ So that the Christian is a bible to himself, as the heathens were said to be a law unto themselves; there was something urging them to duty, restraining them from sin. 

(2.) It preventeth vain thoughts. What is the reason evil is so ready and present with us? Because our hearts are not stocked with the knowledge of heavenly truths. Vain thoughts cannot be prevented unless the word dwell richly in our hearts. If a man have many brass farthings, and but a few pieces of silver, he will more readily draw out farthings than pieces of silver. But a Christian, when alone, and destitute of outward helps, Psalm 16:7, ‘His reins instruct him in the night season,’ when he hath no benefit of the Bible, or other literal instruction. 

(3.) It furnisheth and supplieth our speech; for the tap runneth according to the liquor with which the vessel is filled. In prayer, the new nature beareth a great part, for its desires and inclinations furnish us with requests, its annoyances and grievances with complaints, its solaces and satisfactions with thanksgivings; and where it is not obstructed, there cannot he that leanness and baseness of soul wherewith we are often surprised: Psalm 45:1, ‘My heart is inditing a good matter; I will speak of the things that I have made touching the king; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.’ As to ordinary converse: Matthew 12:35, ‘A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.’ When the spring is dried up. there can be no water in the stream. 

(4.) It giveth us greater certainty of the religion we profess, when we feel the power of it in our hearts: 1 John 5:10, ‘He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself;’ he hath a sense of what he hath heard; he hath felt the power of the Spirit inclining him to God and heavenly things, and subduing his carnal affections; he hath tasted the sweetness of God’s love in Christ, and you cannot persuade a man against his own sense; therefore, when men have tasted and tried, and found the admirable effects of the gospel upon their hearts, they will know that which bare speculation could never discover to them, in order to love, certainty, and close adherence; they find all made good and accomplished to them; they find the truth doth make them free, heal their souls, and sanctify their natures, appease their {Page 323} anguish, offer them help in temptations, relieve their distress, bind up their broken hearts, &c. 

(5.) Then the truth hath a power upon us; when it is put into their mind and heart, they have, an inward engrafted principle: James 1:21, ‘Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.’ They find not only truth in the word, but life; and obey God, not only as bound to obey, but as inclined to obey; there needeth no great enforcing: 1 Thessalonians 4:9, ‘Ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another;’ and Proverbs 2:10, ‘Wisdom entereth into thy heart;’ it becometh another nature to us; if it enters upon the mind only, it begets but a lazy and faint inclination. 

(6.) It begets a holy conversation; for those who have the word of God stamped upon their hearts and minds will show it in their actions. So it is said, 2 Corinthians 3:3, ‘Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart.’ Believers are Christ’s epistle, by which he doth recommend himself and his doctrine to all men, when they see what excellent spirits his religion breedeth. So Philippians 2:15, 16, ‘That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke in the midstof a crooked and perverse nation among whom ye shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life.’ 

2. I observe that the fruit of this imprinting of the doctrine of the gospel upon their hearts was obedience; for so saith the apostle, ‘Ye have obeyed.’ All that knowledge we have must still be directed to practice: Deuteronomy 4:6, ‘Keep therefore, and do them; for-this is your wisdom and understanding;’ otherwise we do little more than learn these truths by rote, or at best to fashion our notions of religion, that we may make them hang together. 

[1.] We are bidden to inquire after the ways of God, not to satisfy curiosity, but to walk therein: Jeremiah 6:16, ‘Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls; but they said, We will not walk therein.’ Their disobedience was not so ranch against the knowledge of the truth, as against the practice thereof. Men are not against truth so much in their minds as in their hearts; they will not do what they know. 

[2.] The comfort and sweetness is in keeping and obeying: Psalm 19:11, ‘In keeping thy commandments there is great reward;’ not only hereafter, but now. There is a sweetness in knowing; for all truth, especially heavenly truth, is an oblectation of the mind; but there is more in keeping and obeying, because practice and obedience giveth a more experimental knowledge of these things, as a taste is more than a sight, and by a serious obedience the taste of these blessed truths is kept upon our hearts. It is but a flush of joy that is stirred up by contemplation; the durable solid joy is by practice and obedience. Besides that, God rewardeth acts of obedience more than acts of contemplation with comfort and peace; for contemplation is an imperfect operation of man, unless the effect succeedeth; yea, we are not capable to receive this comfort, for knowledge doth not prove the sincerity of our hearts so much as obedience; therefore it is practice that hath the blessing in the bosom of it. 

[3.] Where men receive the doctrine of the gospel rather in the {Page 324} light than in the love of it, they do but increase their punishment: Luke 12:47, ‘That servant that knew his master’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, he shall be beaten with many stripes.’ All the privilege of their exact knowledge shall be but a hotter hell. 

3. I observe that it is obedience from the heart; and so it must needs be, if we consider the contexture of the words, or the imprinting the doctrines of the gospel; it is first upon our hearts, and then upon our lives: Isaiah 2:7, ‘The people in whose heart is my law. So Deuteronomy 6:6. These words that I command thee this day, shall be in thy heart; for by the love of it we are brought to the obedience of this holy law. So Proverbs 4:4, ‘Let thy heart retain my words;’ Proverbs 22:22, ‘Lay up my words in thy heart;’ there is the proper repository of the law of God; it cannot work any good effect upon us till we get it there; there is its proper seat, thence its influence. I shall urge but two arguments — 

[1.] It is terminus actionum ad intra; it is the end of all those actions that come inward. The heart is that which God looks after: Proverbs 23:26, ‘My son, give me thy heart.’ He commandeth the ear, but still his commands reach the heart. It is the heart wherein Christ dwelleth, Ephesians 3:17; not in the ear, tongue, or brain; till he take possession of the heart all as is nothing. The bodies of believers are temples of the Holy Ghost, but still in relation to the heart or soul; nothing is prized by God but what cometh thence. Men care not for obsequious compliances without the heart: 2 Kings 10:15, ‘Is thine heart right as my heart is with thy heart?’ Some content themselves with a bare profession of religion, or some superficial practices; but all is nothing to God. Though thou pray with the pharisee, pay thy vows with the harlot, Proverbs 7, kiss Christ with Judas, offer sacrifice with Cain, fast with Jezebel, sell thine inheritance for a public good, as Ananias and Sapphira, yet all is nothing without the heart. Judas was a disciple, yet Satan entered into his heart, Luke 22:2. Ananias joined himself to the people of God, but’ Satan filled his heart to lie unto the Holy Ghost,’ Acts 5:3. Simon Magus was baptised, but’ his heart was not right with God,’ Acts 8:22. The great defect is in the heart. 

[2.] It is fans actionum ad extra, the well-spring of all those actions which look outward; as Proverbs 4:23, ‘Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life;’ Matthew 15:19, ‘Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, , adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.’ If the heart be kept pure and loyal to God, the life will not be so spotted and blemished; for principiata respondent suis principiis, the actions suit with the heart, and it is impossible for men so to disguise their conversation but that their principles and inclinations will appear; they may disguise it in a particular action, but not in their course and way; it will appear how their hearts are constituted by the tenor of their actions. 

Thirdly, Here is thanks given to God for this change, χάρις θεῷ 

1. Thanksgiving to God is a great and necessary duty, the very life. and soul of our religion: 1 Thessalonians 5:18, ‘In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you;’ Hebrews 13:15, ‘By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name. 

{Page 325} Our great business is to give thanks to God for Jesus Christ both in word and deed. 

2. We are chiefly to give thanks for spiritual mercies. They much excel those which are temporal and transitory; therefore if there be a just esteem of the mercies we pray God for, we will bless God for them: Ephesians 1:3, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.’ Temporal favours we all understand, but a renewed heart is most taken up with spiritual blessings. Ephraim said, Hosea 12:8, Blessed be God, ‘I am become rich;’ but it is better to say, Blessed be God, I was once a servant of sin, but now I have obeyed God from my heart. 

[1.] These are discriminating mercies, and come from God’s special love: Ecclesiastes 9:1-3, ‘No man knows either love or hatred by all that is before them. All things come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked, to the good, and to the clean, and to the unclean,’ &c.; and Psalm 17:14, ‘From men which are thy hand, O Lord, from men of the world, which have their portion in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure; Psalm 119:132, ‘Look upon me, and be merciful to me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name;’ and Psalm 106:4, ‘Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people, O visit me with thy salvation.’ 

[2.] These concern the better part, 2 Corinthians 4:16, ‘Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day;’ the other concern the outward man: Psalm 17:14, ‘Whose portion is in this life, and whose belly thou fillest with thy hid treasure; they are full of children, and leave the rest of their substance unto their babes.’ 

[3.] These are purchased at a dear rate: Ephesians 1:3, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.’ Others run in the channel of common providence. 

[4.] These have a nearer connection with heaven, 2 Corinthians 3:18, ‘We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of our God.’ 

[5.] These incline and fit the heart for praise and thankfulness to God: Ephesians 1:12, ‘That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.’ 

[6.] These are never given in anger, as outward mercies may be: Jeremiah 17:14, ‘They that depart from me shall be written in the earth.’ 

[7.] These render us acceptable to God: Psalm 11:7, ‘The righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright;’ 1 Peter 3:4, ‘The ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.’ 

[8.] We need acknowledge these, that God may have the sole glory of them. There are certain opinions which rob God of his glory, as that of the Stoics, quod vivamus, &c. — that prosperity is to be asked of God, but prudence belongeth to ourselves. Thus men are taught to usurp the glory of God. This opinion is sacrilegious, as if we should praise God for our felicities, and not for those things that belong to our duty and obedience. The other opinion is among Christians, that teach you that Peter is no more beholden to God than Judas for his {Page 326} differencing grace; but, 1 Corinthians 4:7, ‘Who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou hast not received? Now, if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory as if thou didst not receive it? ‘Matthew 11:25, 26, ‘I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.’ 

Among all spiritual mercies, we are to give thanks to God for our conversion. It is the fruit of election: Jeremiah 31:3, ‘The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.’ It is not from our merit, but wholly ascribed to God’s mercy: 2 Timothy 1:9, ‘Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began.’ It cometh not from any power in us, or ability in ourselves, but is the mere effect of his grace. We cannot break off the yoke of sin: Romans 8:2, ‘The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death;’ nor can we fit ourselves for future obedience: Ephesians 2:10, ‘We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to good works, which God hath before ordained, that we should walk in them.’ Therefore ascribe all to the proper author. 

We must bless God not only for our own conversion, but the conversion of others. The body of Christ is the more completed: 1 Corinthians 12:14, ‘The body is not one member, but many.’ The glory of God is concerned in it: Romans 1:8, ‘First I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world;’ Galatians 1:23, 24, ‘They had heard only that he which persecuted us in time past now preached the faith that once he destroyed, and they glorified God in me.’ They are monsters of men that repine at the riches of grace poured down on men by their own or others’ ministry, as if they could not endure any should be godly and serious: Acts 11:23, ‘Barnabas, when he came and had seen the grace of God, was glad.’ 

Use. Is there a change? 

Be in a capacity to bless God for spiritual blessings. Should a leper give thanks for perfect health? a mad man that he is wiser than his neighbour? or a man ready to die thank God for his recovery? a slave of sin for his liberty by Christ? This is to mock God. He may thank God for redemption, for the new covenant, for the offers and invitations of grace, for means and time to repent; but for the great change, and for an actual interest in Christ, we can never thank him till first it be wrought in us and given to us. 

Live in admiration and acknowledgment of grace. Let this endear God to your hearts: Ephesians 1:6, ‘To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved;’ and Ephesians 1:12, ‘That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.’ 

Make your qualification more explicit, by being printed and marked with your religion in heart, 2 Corinthians 3:18, ‘You are changed into the same image from glory to glory;’ in life, Philippians 1:27, ‘Only let your conversation be as becomes the gospel.’ 

{Page 327} 4. Never return unto your old bondage. The time of slavery is past: 2 Peter 2:20, ‘If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world, through the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.’ They that revert to their old bondage have no due sense of the mercy of their deliverance out of it.

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