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against that, that he was but his fellow servant. But this is more, that they are servants to us, although not therefore inferior, it being an honorary service, yet certainly inferior to our Head, and so to his mystical body, taken in that notion as a part of him.
Reflexion 1. The height of this our Saviour's glory will appear the more, if we reflect on the descent by which he ascended to it. Oh! how low did we bring down so high a Majesty, into the pit wherein we had fallen, by climbing to be higher than he had set us. It was high indeed, as we were fallen so low, and yet he, against whom it was committed, came down to help us up again, and to take hold of us, took us on; so the word is intihapláveta."; he took not hold of the angels; let them go; hath left them to die for ever: But he took hold of the seed of Abraham, and took on him indeed their flesh, dwelling amongst us, and in a mean part; emptied himself, inerwoe, and became of no repute; and further, after he descended to the earth, and into our flesh, in it he became obedient to death upon the cross', and descended into the grave; and by these steps, was walking towards that glory wherein he now is; he abased himself, wherefore, says the Apostle, God hath highly exalted him. Só he himself", Ought not Christ first to suffer these things, and so enter into his glory? Now this indeed it is pertinent to consider, and the Apostle is here upon the point of Christ's suffering. That is his theme; and therefore he is so particular in the ascending of Christ to his glory. Who, of those that would come thither, will refuse to follow him in the way where he led ? He is ágxuyòs, the leader of our faith. And who of those that follow him, will not love and delight to follow him through any way, the lowest and darkest? it is excellent and safe, and then it ends you see where.
2. Think not strange of the Lord's method with his Church, bringing her to so low and desperate a c Rev. xix. 10. d Heb. ii. 16. e Phil. ii. 17.
f Ver. 8. & Ver. 8. h Luke xxiv. 26. i Heb. xii. 2.
posture many times. Can she be in a condition more seemingly desperate than was her Head ? not only in ignominious sufferings, but dead and laid in the grave, and the stone rolled to it and sealed, and all made sure? and yet he arose and ascended, and now sits in glory, and shall sit till all his enemies become his footstool. Do not fear for him, that they shall overtop, yea, or be able to reach him, who is exalted higher than the heavens; neither be afraid for his Church, which is his body, and, if her Head be safe and alive, cannot but partake of safety and life with him. Though she were, to sight, dead and laid in the grave, yet shall she rise thence, and be more glorious than before"; and still the deeper her distress be, shall rise the higher in the day of deliverance.
Thus, in his dealing with a soul, observe the Lord's method; think it not strange that he brings a soul low, very low, which he means to comfort and exalt very high in grace and glory; that he leads it by hell-gates to heaven; that it be at that point, Niy God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Was not the Head put to use that word, and so to speak it, as the head speaks for the body, seasoning it for his members, and sweetening that bitter cup by his own drinking of it? Oh! what a hard condition may a soul be brought unto, and put to think, Can He love me, and intend mercy for me, that leaves me to this? And yet, in all, the Lord is preparing it thus for comfort and blessedness.
3. Turn your thoughts more frequently to this excellent subject, the glorious high estate of our great High Priest. The angels admire this mystery, and we slight it; they rejoice in it, and we, whom it certainly more nearly concerns, are not moved with it; we do not draw that comfort and that instruction from it, which it would plentifully afford, if it were sought after: It comforts us against all troubles and fears. Is He not on high who hath undertaken for us? doth any thing befal us, but it
☆ Isa. xxvi. 19. Vol. II.
is past first in heaven? and shall any thing pass there to our prejudice or damage? He sits there, and is upon the council of all, who hath loved us, and given himself for us, yea, who as he descended thence for us, did likewise ascend thither again for us; hath made our inheritance there which he purchased sure to us, taking possession for us, and in our name; since he is there, not only as the Son of God, but as our Surety, and as our Head; and so the believer may think himself even already pos-sessed of this right, inasmuch as his Christ is there. The saints are glorified already in their Head. Where he reigns, there I believe myself to reign, says Augustine'. And consider in all thy straits and troubles, outward and inward, they are not hid from him. He knows them, and feels them, is a compassionate High Priest, and hath a gracious sense of thy frailties and griefs, fears, and temptations; and he will not suffer thee to be surcharged: but is still presenting thy estate to the Father, and using that interest and power he hath in his affection for thy good. And what wouldest thou more? Art thou one whose heart desires to rest upon him, and cleave to him? Thou art knit so to him, that his resurrection and glory secures thee thine: His life and thịne are not two, but one life, as that of the head and members; and if he could not be overcome of death, thou canst not neither. Oh! that sweet Word, Because I live, ye shall live also ".
Let thy thoughts and carriage be moulded in this contemplation rightly, ever to look on thy exalted Head.
Consider his glory; see not only thy nature raised in him above the angels, but thy person interested by faith in that his glory, and then think thyself too good to serve any base lust. Look down on sin and the world with a holy disdain, being united to him who is so exalted and so glorious. And let not thy mind creep here; engage not thy heart to any thing that time and this earth can afford. Oh! why are we so little there, where there Ubi-Caput meum regnat, ibi me regnare credo.
m John xiv. 19.
is such a spring of delightful and high thoughts for us? If ye be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where he sits". What mean you? are ye such as will let go your interest in this once crucified, and now glorified, Jesus? if not, why are ye not more like it? why does it not possess your hearts more? ought it not to be thus ? should not our hearts be, where our treasure, where our blessed Head, iz ? Oh! how unreasonable, how unfriendly, is it, how much may we be ashamed to have room in our hearts for earnest thoughts or desires, or delights, about any thing beside Him?
Were this deeply impressed upon the hearts of those that have a right in it, would there be found in them any engagement to the poor things that are passing away? Would death be a terrible word? yea, would it not be one of the sweetest, most rejocing, thoughts, to solace and ease the heart under all pressures, to look forward to that day of liberty? This infectious diseaseo may keep possession all the winter, and grow hot with the year again. Do not therefore flatter yourselves, and think it is past; you have yet remembering strokes to keep it in your eye. But, however, shall we abide still here? or is there any reason, when things are duly weighed, why we should desire it? Well, if you would be untied beforehand, and so feel your separation from this world less, this is the only way. him, who draws up all hearts that do indeed behold him. Then, I say, thy heart shall be removed beforehand, and the rest is easy and sweet: When that is done, all is gained. And consider how he desires the completing of our union with him. Shall it be his request, and earnest desire, and shall it not be ours too, that where he is, there we may be alsoP? Let us expect it with patient submission, yet striving by desires and suits, and looking out for our release from this body of sin and death.
n Col. iji. 1. • This probably refers to the Pestilence in 1665. See the lecture od chap. iv. 6. Though the Pestilence doth not affright you so, &c.
P John xvii. 24,
Look up to
CHAP. iv. Ver. 1. Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin. HE main of a Christian’s duty lies in these
two things, patience in suffering, and avoidance of sin, ανέχε και απέχε, and they have a tural influence each upon the other. Although atfliction simply doth not, yet affliction sweetly and humbly carried doth, purify and disengage the heart from sin, wean it from the world and the common ways of it. And again, holy and exact walking keeps the soul in a sound healthful temper, and so enables it to patient suffering, to bear things more easily; as a strong body endures fatigue, heat, cold, and hardship, with ease, a small part whereof would surcharge a sickly constitution. The consciousness of sin, and careless unholy courses, must wonderfully weaken a soul and distemper it, so that it is not able to endure much; but every little thing disturbs it: Therefore the Apostle hath reason, both to insist so much on these two points in this epistle, and likewise to interweave the one so often with the other, pressing jointly throughout, the chearful bearing of all kind of afflictions, and the careful forbearing all kind of sin; and out of the one discourse he slides into the other, as here.
And as the things agree in their nature, so in their great pattern and principle, Jesus Christ; and the Apostle still draws both from thence; that of
patience"; that of holiness here, Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us, &c.
The chief study of a Christian, and the very thing that makes him to be a Christian, is conformity with Christ. This is the sum of religion (said that wise heathen) to be like him whom thou worshippest'. But this example being in itself too sub
9 Chap. iii. 18. * Summa religionis imitari quem colis.