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of the foul in a very intense degree towards God; one flame doth no more naturally beget another, than the love of God doth kindle the love of a gracious foul to him: “We have "known and believed the love that God hath to us," 1 John iv. 16, 19. When Chrift had forgiven much to that poor woman that had finned much, and manifefted pardoning mercy to her foul; O how much was her love to Chrift inflamed thereby! Luke vii. 47.
2. Renewed care and diligence follows the fealings of the Spirit: Now is the foul at the foot of Chrift, as Mary was at the fepulchre, with fear and great joy. He that travels the road with a rich treasure about him, is afraid of a thief in every bufh. This is exemplified in the fpoufe, who had endured many a fad day and night in Chrift's abfence, and fought him forrowing: But when she had regained his felt and fenfible prefence, it is faid, Cant. iii. 4. "I found him whom my foul loveth; "I held him, and would not let him go."
She doth not (as Mr. Durham fpeaks) lay by diligence, as if all were done; but is of-new taken up with as great care to retain and improve this mercy, as before the was follicitous to obtain it. Whether a believer want or have, whether he be feeking or enjoying, there is ftill matter of exercise for him in his condition.
3. Deep abasements, and great humblings, ufe to follow the eminent appearances of God to the fouls of men. "Lord, "(faid that disciple) how is it that thou wilt manifeft thyself to 66 us, and not unto the world?" John xiv. 22. When God fealed the covenant to Abraham, to be a God to him, at this Abraham fell upon his face, Gen. xvii. 1, 2, 3. Never doth a foul lie lower in the duft, and abhor itself, than when the Lord makes the most fignal manifeftations of his grace and love to it.
4. Increased ftrength follows the fealings of the Spirit. New powers enter into the foul, and a fenfible improvement of its abilities for duty: "Or ever I was aware (faith the spouse) "my foul made me as the chariots of Amminadib," Cant vi. 12.
Now the wheels of the foul being oiled with the joy and comfort of the Spirit, rún nimbly in the ways of obedience. The joy of the Lord is your ftrength.
5. Sealings of the Spirit inflame the defires of the foul after heaven, and make it long to go home. Nothing makes death fo undefirable to the faints, as the doubts and fears that hang upon their fpirits, about their condition.. Were their evidences for heaven clear, and their doubts refolved, they would, as the apostle fpeaks, "defire to be diffolved, and to be with
"Chrift," Phil. i. 23. If once the great question of our intereft in Christ be thoroughly decided, and all be clear betwixt us and our God, we fhall find life the matter of patience, and death the object of defire.
Sixthly, and lastly, Improved mortification to the world, flows naturally from the fealings and affurances of the love of God to our fouls. It is with our fouls, after fuch view of heaven, and a sealing interest therein, as it is with him that hath been gazing upon that glorious creature the fun, when he comes to caft his eyes again upon the earth, all things feem dark and cloudy to him; he fees no beauty in any of those things, because of that excellent luftre which he lately beheld. "We know (faith the apoftle) that if our earthly houfe of "this tabernacle were diffolved, we have a building of God, "an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens :" There is affurance or fealing. "For in this we grone earnestly, "defiring to be cloathed upon with our house which is from "heaven:" There is the natural effect of it, 2 Cor. v. 1, 2.
Ufes. The point speaks to three forts of perfons, viz. 1. To thofe that have not yet been fealed. 2. To thofe that once had, but now want, this comfort. 3. To those that enjoy the comforts of it.
First, To thofe that yet want this mercy, who have not been formerly fealed by any affurance of their title to Chrift, but all their days have been clogged with fears, and doubt of their condition. To fuch my counsel is,
1. That you be not quiet under these uncertainties, but pant after the affurance of peace and pardon. Say unto Christ, as the fpoufe did, Cant. viii. 6. "Set me as a feal upon thy "heart, as a seal upon thine arm :" Pant after it, as David did, Pfalm xxxv. 3. 66 Say unto my foul, I am thy falvation."
How can you look upon fuch precious promifes, and not dare to taste them? How can you hear others fpeak of their fatisfaction, peace, and affurance, and be quiet until you have alfo attained it? What is it that hinders this mercy, that it cannot come home to your fouls? Is it your neglect of duty? O ftir up yourselves to take hold of God! Is it want of a thorough fearch and examination of your state? O let not thine eyes find reft, till that be fully done. Is it fome fpecial guilt upon thy foul, that grieves the Spirit of God? Be reftlefs till it be removed. I know this mercy is not at your command, do' what you can do; but yet I alfo know, when God bestows it, he ufually doth it in these ways of our duty.
Secondly, To thofe that once had, but now want this bleffing,
who fay as Job xxix. 2, 3. "O that it were with me as in days paft!" The darkness is the greater to you, because you have walked in the light of the Lord. The fum of Christ's counsel in this cafe is given in three words; Rev. ii. 5. Remember, repent, reform.
Firft, Remember, i. e. Ponder, confider, compare time with time, and ftate with ftate, how well it once was, how fad it is now.
Secondly, Repent; mourn over these your finful relapses; fure you may challenge the first place among all the mourners in the world. Your lofs is great. O better to have loft the light of your eyes, than this sweet light of God's countenance. Your fin hath separated betwixt you and your God. O mourn over it.
Thirdly, Reform; Do your first works again. O Christian, confider thy heart is funk deeper into the world than it was wont to be; thy duties are fewer, and thy zeal and affection to God much abated. Return, return, O backfliding foul, and labour to recover thy firft love to Chrift whatever pains it coft thee.
Loftly, To thofe that do enjoy these choice and invaluable mercies, the fealings of the Spirit.
First, Take heed that you grieve not the good Spirit of God, by whom ye are fealed to the day of redemption," Eph. iv. 30. He hath comforted you; do not you grieve him: The Spirit is a tender delicate thing you may quickly deprive your felves of his joy and peace.
Secondly, Be humble under this advancement and dignity. If your hearts once begin to fwell look out for humbling difpenfations quickly, 2 Cor. xii. 7. This treasure is always kept in the veffel of a contrite and humble heart.
Thirdly, Keep clofe to duty; yea, tack one duty to another by intermediate ejaculations. If care of duty be once remitted, you are not far from a sad change of your condition.
Fourthly, Improve all ordinances, especially this great fealing ordinance, for your farther confirmation and establishment. Act your faith to the uttermoft of its ability, upon Chrift crucified; and comfort will flow in: The more the direct acts of faith are exercised, the more powerful and fweet its reflex acts are like to be.
JOHN i. 29. Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the fins of the world.
HE scope of this chapter, is to prove the divinity and eternal Godhead of Jefus Chrift. One of thofe arguments by which this great article of faith is confimred and proved is the teftimony of John. This teftimony of John is the more remarkable, because it was before prophefied of him, that when the Meffiah fhould come, this meffenger fhould go before his face, to prepare the way for him, Mal. iii. t.
Now, among all the teftimonies that ever John gave of Chrift, none ever was, or could be more full and clear than this in the text: "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the fins of "the world!"
In which words are remarkable, 1. The preface to his testimony. 2. The teftimony itself.
First, The preface or introduction to John's teftimony; Behold there is a double ufe in fcripture of this word: fometimes it is used by way of indication, and fometimes by way of excitation. In the firft, it points out the perfon; in the laft, it raifes our affections to him. In this place it hath both thefe ufes.
Behold the Lamb of God! q. d. This is the great expectation and hope of all ages. This person whom you behold, is the defire of all nations. Lo this, is God manifeft in the flesh. This is the great facrifice, the Lamb of God: Never did human eyes behold fuch an object before.'
Secondly, The teftimony itfelf: Which must be confidered two ways; as it refpects. 1. The truth and reality; 2. The virtue and dignity of Chrift its object.
First, John's teftimony respects the truth and reality of the object: This is o auvos, the Lamb of God; the very antitype to which all legal facrifices had refpect, and from which they derived all their value and virtue; grace and truth came by Jefus Chrift, as he had faid before, ver. 17. The pafchal lamb and the lamb for daily facrifice, were but the types and fhadows of this Lamb of Gott.
Secondly, His teftimony respects the virtue and dignity of Chrift and his blood. He taketh away the fin of the world. The Greek word, apt, (as De Dieu, a learned critic, obferves) answers both the Hebrew words, NWO, Ifa. lii. and fignify not only to bear, but to bear away; Potando expiat, expiando aufert, efficitque ut remittatur. By bearing fin, he expiates it; by expiating, takes it away, or procures the remiflion of it. The expreffion feems to allude to the fcape-goat, mentioned Lev. xvi. 22. Thus Chrift really and wholly takes away the fin of the world; i. e. the fin of all believers in the world, for whom he was facrificed? as Drufius well expounds it, concurring with the ftream of found expofitors..
So that this is a very full teftimony which John gives to Chrift, and it is given with great affection, and admiration of him: Behold! yea, admire in beholding the Lamb of God, which taketh away the fin of the world. Behold him with affections fuitable to fuch an object; Ecce perfona a Deo ordinata, in victimam ad expiandum peccata. Grotius.. Behold the perfon appointed by God, for a facrifice to expiate fin! Now, tho' this fcripture be very fruitful in practical obfervations, yet it is not my purpose, at this time, to note or profecute any of them except this one, which rifes from the prefatory particle, or that note of admiration, with which John's teftimony of Chrift is ushered in: Behold the Lamb of God! And the note thence will be this:
Doct. That Jefus Chrift, the Lamb of God, is to be beheld with admiration and affection fuitable to fuch an object. Chrift is beheld by men three ways:
First, Carnally, with an eye of flesh: So men faw him in the days of his flesh, and despised him, Ifa. liii. 2. Carnal eyes faw no beauty in him, that he fhould be defired.
Secondly, Fiducially, by the eye of faith: believing, is seeing Chrift, John vi. 40. Faith is to the faints instead of eyes: By it they make Chrift prefent, tho' the heavens have received him out of our carnal fight,
Thirdly, Beatifically, by the glorified eye: so the spirits of just men made perfect do, by their mental eye, fee him in glory; and all the faints, after the refurrection, fhall, with thefe coporeal eyes, fee their Redeemer, according to Job xix. 26, 27, The fight of Chrift by faith (which is all the fight of him that any man now hath, or can have in this world) as it is much more excellent than the first; for "bleffed are they that have "not seen, and yet believe," John xx. 29. fait is much inferior