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Wicked men are said to crucify Christ again,' to put him to shame,' to make him a liar:' not that these things can so really be, but because men, in their evil lives, carry themselves, as if indeed they were so. And, in this sense, the gospel may be said to be weak too; because the pride of men holds out against the saving power thereof. But these men must know, that the Word returneth not empty unto God, but accomplisheth some work or other; either it ripeneth weeds or corn. There is thunder and
lightning both in the Word: if the one break not a heart, the other will blast it; if it be not humbled by the Word, it will certainly be withered, and made fruitless. Shall the clay boast itself against the fire, because, though it have power to melt wax, yet it hath not power to melt clay? Is it not one and the same power which hardeneth the one, and which softeneth the other? Is not the Word a sweet savour unto God, as well in those that perish, as in those that are saved? Certainly there is as wonderful a power in adding another death to him who was dead before (which, upon the matter, is to kill a dead man), as in multiplying and enlarging life. And the gospel is to those that perish, 'a savour of death unto death;' such a word as doth accumulate the damnation of wicked men, and treasure up wrath upon wrath. If it do not convert, it will certainly harden; if it do not save, it will undoubtedly judge and condemn. The Lord doth never cast away his Gospel. He that gave charge to gather up the broken meat of loaves and fishes, that nothing might be lost, will not suffer any crumb of his spiritual manna to come to nothing. Yet we find the Lord giveth a charge to his prophets to preach even there where he foretold them, that their words would not be heard: "Thou shalt speak all these words unto them, but they will not hearken to thee; thou shalt also call unto them, but they will not answer thee. Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation; they are impudent children, and stiff-hearted. Yet thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, for they are rebellion itself. They will not hearken unto thee, for they will not hearken unto me; for all the house of Israel are impudent and hard
Jer. vii. 27. Ezek. ii. 3, 4, 7, and iii. 7.
hearted."-Certainly, when the Lord taketh pains by his prophets, to call those who will not hear, he doth it not in vain; they shall know at length, that a prophet hath been amongst them. Therefore as the apostle saith, that "The gospel is a sweet savour even in those that perish;" so we find those messages which have contained nothing but curses against an obstinate people, have yet been as honey for sweetness in the mouth of those that preached them. I did eat the roll, saith the prophet "and it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness ;"—and yet there was nothing in it written but lamentations, and mourning, and woe. Jeremys did not desire the woful day, but did heartily say Amen to the false prophets, in their predictions of safety; yet in regard of his ready service unto God, and of that glory which God would work out unto himself into the punishment of that sinful people, the word of prophecy which was committed unto him, was the joy and rejoicing of his heart:-so that in all respects, the gospel of Christ is a word of power, and therein we do and must rejoice.
We observed before, that this rod of strength is both sceptrum majestatis,' and 'pedum pastorale;' both the sceptre of Christ as he is a king, and his pastoral staff as he is a bishop. It denoteth the administration of Christ's kingdom, which consisteth in the dispensing of his gospel, as it is a word of majesty, and of care. So then here are (as I before observed) two observations, yet remaining to be noted out of these words, virga virtutis,' the rod of thy strength.
The first, That the gospel of Christ, accompanied with his Spirit, is a word of great glory and majesty. For we must ever make these concomitants, We preach the gospel," saith St. Peter," with the Holy Ghost sent down from Heaven'." And indeed the Spirit is peculiar to the gospel, and not belonging to the law at all, if we consider it alone by itself, under the relation of a distinct covenant. For though as it proceedeth out of Sion ", that is, as it is an appendix and additament unto the gospel, it tends unto liberty, and so cometh not without the Spirit; yet, by itself, it gendereth nothing but bondage. And therefore when the apostle' showeth the excellency of the gospel above the law, he
r Ezek. iii. 2, 10. u Micah. iv. 2.
Jer. xvii. 16, xxviii. 6, and xv. 16.
t1 Pet. i. 12. y 2 Cor. iii. 6,7.
caileth the one 'a ministration of death, and of the letter,' the other a ministration of the Spirit and life ;'-to show that, properly, the Spirit belongeth unto the gospel of grace. Now then this spiritual gospel of Christ is the sceptre of his kingdom; and therefore as it is insigne regium,' an ensign of royalty, it importeth glory and majesty. It is a gospel full of glory: we may observe that the very typical prefigurations of that mercy, which is the sole business of the gospel of Christ, are in the Scriptures honoured with the name of 'glory.' The garments of the priests", being types of the evangelical righteousness of the saints, were made for glory and beauty. The tabernacle which was ordained for an evidence and seal of God's evangelical presence with that people, is called, by the prophet David, a tabernacle of honour; the place which God did use to fill with his own glory. The ark of God, which was nothing else but evangelium sub velo,' the gospel under veils and shadows, is called, by excellency, the glory of Israel;—which is the attribute of Christ "All kings shall see thy glory." The temple at Jerusalem was the place of God's rest"; "This is my rest for ever, here will I dwell.-Arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou and the ark of thy strength." It was so called, to note, first, the stability of God's evangelical covenant in Christ: it was not to be changed, nor to be repented of, but to be sure and fixed in Christ for ever: his kingdom, a kingdom which was not to be shaken; his priesthood, a priesthood" which was not to pass away; his teaching, a teaching which was to continue to the world's end. And secondly, to note the delight of God in Christ, and in the mercy which through him was unto the world revealed; therein the Lord resteth and reposeth himself, as in the crown and accomplishment of all his works. And this temple is called a glorious rest', a glorious high throne, house of glory", of beauty, and of holiness". It is said at the first dedication thereof, that "The glory of the Lord filled it." It was not the gold or silver (wherewith, before that de
a Psalm xxvi. 8. Exod.
z Rev. vi. 11. vii. 14, xix. 8. Exod. xxviii. 2, 40. xl. 34. 1 Sam. iv. 22. c Isai. Ixii. 2. d Psalm cxxxii. 8, 14. 2 Chron. vi. 41.
dication, it was beautified) wherein the glory thereof did consist, but in the evidence of God's presence; which, at that time, was but a cloud, whereas the true glory thereof, himself, was a sun, as the prophet calls him. And with this did the Lord fill the second temple, which, for this cause, is said to have been "more glorious than the former," though, in the magnificence of the structure, far inferior. Now then, as the apostle, in a case of just alike proportion, useth a woo päλλov, a term of excess, when he speaketh of the substance in comparison of the type; "If the blood of bulls and goats did sanctify to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ?" so may we in this case,— If the types of evangelical things were thus glorious, how much more glorious must the gospel itself needs be? And therefore, as I before observed in other things, so in this is it true likewise, that Christ and his gospel have the same attributes of glory frequently given unto them. Christ is called the glory of the Lord', and of his people Israel " :? and the gospel a glorious mystery *,' a' royal law 3,” ́ a ministration of glory ":" nay glory itselfa;' for so I understand that place of the apostle, that "ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory," that is, unto the knowledge of his gospel; for of that in all the antecedent parts, and in the verse immediately following, doth the apostle speak :—a glory, which draweth the study and amazement of the most glorious creatures of God
To consider this point more particularly: The glory and majesty of the gospel of Christ appeareth principally in four things in the author of it: in the promulgation and publishing of it: In the matter which it contains; and in the ends, purposes, or uses, for which it serves.
First, In the author of it; Many things of small worth, have yet grown famous by the authors of them, and, like the unprofitable children of renowned progenitors, hold their estimation and nobility from the parents which begat them. And yet from men who are unclean, there will ever descend some uncleanness upon the works which they do. But the
gospel is therefore indeed a glorious gospel, because it is the gospel of the blessed God.' There is glory in all the works of God, because they are his; for it is impossible that so great a workman should ever put his hand to an ignoble work. And, therefore, the prophet David useth his glory' and his handy-work,' promiscuously for the same thing; "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handy-work ;"-to note, that there is an evidence of glory in any thing which he puts his hand unto. And yet the prophet there showeth, that there is more glory in the law of his mouth, than in the works of his hands: "The Lord is better known by Sion, and his name greater in Israel," than in all the world besides: the more God doth communicate himself unto any of his works, the more glorious it is. Now there is nothing wherein God hath so much put himself, wherein he may be so fully known, communicated with, depended upon, and praised,—as in his gospel. This is a glass, in which the blessed angels do see and admire the unsearchable riches of his mercy to the church, which they had not, by their own observation, found out from the immediate view of his glorious presence. In the creatures, we have him a God of power and wisdom,-working all things in number, weight and measure, by the secret vigour of his providence,— upholding that being which he gave them, and ordering them to those glorious ends for which he gave it. In the law, we have him a God of vengeance and of recompense,-in the publication thereof threatening, and in the execution thereof inflicting, wrath upon those that transgress it. But, in the gospel, we have him a God of bounty and endless compassion; humbling himself, that he might be merciful to his enemies, that he might himself bear the punishments of those injuries which had been done unto himself,-that he might not offer only but beseech his own prisoners to be pardoned and reconciled again. In the creature, he is a God above us; in the law, he is a God against us; only in the gospel he is Emmanuel, a God with us,' a God like us, a God for us.
There is nothing doth declare God so much to be God, as his mercy in the gospel. He is invisible in himself; we cannot see him but in his Son. He is unapproachable in himself; we cannot come unto him but by the Son. Therefore