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turn away any more. Thou shalt call me My father;' that is, I will put filial affections, awful thoughts, constant resolutions into thy heart, and thou shalt not turn away from me. I will melt them and try them, saith the Lord; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people? The Lord setteth himself to study and contrive mercy for his people, that as they set up their sins, as it were, in pride to pose his covenant; so he gathereth together his thoughts of mercy, as it were, to conquer their sins.
Thirdly, There is constancy and continuance in this his care: "His mercy endureth, his compassions fail not, but are renewed every morning."-And therefore the mercies of David,' that is, of Christ, for so he is called, or the mercies of the covenant made with David, are called 'Sure mercies; they have a foundation, the everlasting love and counsel of God, upon which they are built; they have many seals by which they are confirmed, the faithfulness", the immutability, and the oath of God. If there were not continuance in his mercies; if he were not the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever, in his truth and fidelity to his church if he should change and turn from us, as oft as we forsake him; if he should leave us in the hand of our own counsel, and not afford us such daily supplies of his Spirit, as might support us against the ruinous disposition of our own nature; we should be children of wrath every day anew. But herein doth the abundant care of Christ in the gospel declare itself unto us, that, though we are worms in ourselves, full of weakness, and of earthly affections, yet God hath a right-hand of righteousness',' which can uphold us; that, though we are bent to back-sliding, yet he is God and not man;' unchangeable in his covenant with the persons; almighty in his power and mercy towards the sins of men, both to cover them with his righteousness, and to cure them by his Spirit, both to forgive for the time past, and to heal and prevent backslidings for the time to come.
Fourthly, That he might be fit for so mean and humble a service, there was "a lessening and emptying of himself:" he was contented to be subject to his own,-to be the child of his own creature,—to take upon himself not the similitude
only, but the infirmities of sinful flesh ",-to descend from his throne, and to put on rags,-in one word, "to become poor for us, that we, through his poverty, might be made. rich."-Amongst men, many will be willing to show so much mercy as will consist with their state and greatness, and may tend to beget a farther distance, and to magnify their height and honour in the minds of men; but when it comes to this exigent, that a man must debase himself to do good unto another, that his compassion will be to a miserable man no benefit, except he suffer ignominy, and undergo a servile condition for him, and do, as it were, change habits with the man whom he pities; what region of the earth will afford a man, who will freely make his own honour to be the price of his brother's redemption? Yet this is the manner of Christ's care for us, who, though he were the Lord of glory, the brightness of his Father's majesty, and the express image of his person, did yet humble himself to endure shame, and the contradiction of sinners,' that he might be the author and finisher of our faith.'
Fifthly, There was not only an humbling or metaphorical emptying of himself, in that he made himself of no reputation;' but there was likewise a real and proper emptying of himself: he therein testified his wonderful care of the businesses of men, that for them he put himself to the greatest expense, and to the exhausting of a richer treasure than any either heaven or earth could afford besides. "Ye were not redeemed," saith the apostle, "with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish, and without spot." That which no man will bestow upon himself, and that which was in nature, and might justly in love have been nearest to Christ himself, even the soul in his body and the blood in his veins, he was contented to make a sacrifice for them, who poured it out as the blood of a malefactor.
Sixthly, Besides this great price which he paid to his Father for us, he hath opened another treasure of his grace and spirit, out of which he affordeth us daily supplies, and putteth into our hands, as it were, a heavenly stock, for the better negotiating and improvement of our salvation. He setteth up his Spirit in our hearts, thereby conversing
n Phil. ii. 7. 8. Gal. iv. 5. Rom. viii. 3.
• 2 Cor. viii. 9.
and communing with us, teaching us the trade of the citizens of Heaven, and of laying up treasures there, where our final abode must be, of having our conversation and commerce with innumerable companies of angels, and with the spirits of just men made perfect, and with all that general assembly or church of the first-born, which is enrolled in Heaven.
Lastly, To all this he addeth preparations and provisions, for the future for us: he doth not only give, but he prepareth things for those that love him, and whatever is wanting now, he will make it up unto us in the riches of his glory." It was for our expediency that he left the church on earth (in regard of his carnal presence) and went unto his Father again. He was not beholding to change of place for his own glory, for his heaven was within him as a fountain. And indeed it is his presence, which maketh Heaven to be the place of glory: therefore St. Paul desired to depart, and to be with Christ; noting that it is not heaven, but Christ's presence which is the glory of the saints. Therefore I say, it was for us, that he went to Heaven again; "for their sakes," saith he, "I sanctify myself';-it is expedient for you that I go away." Expedient, to sell and secure our full and final redemption unto us: for as the Levitical priest entered not into the holiest of all without blood, so neither did Christ into Heaven, without making satisfaction. He first obtained eternal redemption' for us, and then he entered into the holy place. And expedient to prepare a place for us; that the glory which is given to him, he may give unto us; that being raised up together, we may likewise sit together with him in heavenly places. For when the head is crowned, the whole body is invested with royal honour. He, by the virtue of his ascension, opened the kingdom of Heaven for all believers. Even the fathers before Christ entered not in, without respect unto that consummate redemption, which he was, in the fulness of time, to accomplish for his church :-As a man may be admitted into an actual possession of land, only in the virtue of covenants, and under the intuition of a payment to be afterwards per
1 Cor. ii. 9. John xvi. 7. y Eph. ii. 6.
p Phil. iv. 19.
9 Phil. i 23. u John xiv. 2, 3.
r John xvii. 19. * John xvii. 22.
formed. Thus we see in how many things the abundant care of Christ doth show itself towards the church.
And as there are therein all the particulars of a tender care, so, by the gospel likewise, do all the fruits and benefits thereof redound unto the faithful. First, In the gospel he feedeth and strengtheneth them; even in the presence of their enemies he prepareth them a table, and feedeth them with his rod"; and, according to their coming out of Egypt, he showeth unto them marvellous things. And therefore our Saviour calleth his gospel, "The children's bread "." It is that which quickeneth, which strengtheneth them, which maketh them fruitful in spiritual works.
Secondly, He upholdeth them from fainting: if their strength at any time fail, he leadeth them gently, and teacheth them to go. As Jacob led on his cattle and his children softly, according as they were able to endure; so Christ doth lead out his flock, and hold his children by the hand, and teach them to go, and draweth them with the cords of a man, that is, with meek and gentle institution, such as men use towards their children, and not to their beasts, and with bands of love.' As an eagle fluttereth over her young, and spreadeth abroad her wings, and taketh them and beareth them on her wings; so doth the Lord, in his gospel, sweetly lead on and institute the faithful unto strength and salvation: he dealeth with them as a compassionate nurse with a tender infant, condescendeth to their strength and capacity; when we stumble, he keepeth us; when we fall, he raiseth us; when we faint, he beareth us in his arms; when we grow weary of well-doing, the gospel is full of encouragements to hearten us, full of spirit to revive us, full of promises to establish us, full of beauty to entice us. When we seem to be in a wilderness, a maze, where there is no issue, nor view of deliverance,-even there he openeth a door of hope, and allureth and speaketh com-. fortably unto us.m
Thirdly, He healeth our diseases, our corruptions, our
b Matt. xv. 26.
d John xv. 4. • Gen. xxxiii. 14. f John b Psal. lxxviii. 52. Isai. Ixii. 13. Isai. xl. 11. xli. 13.
i Deut. i. 31. Hos. ii. 14. 15.
a Psal. xxiii. 5. a Mic. vii. 13, 15. Ezek. xxxiv. 14, 23.
e Phil. iv. 13. Heb. vi. 12.
& Hos. xi. 3, 4. Deut. xxxii. 11, 12.
backslidings." Easily are the best of us misled out of the right way, drawn and enticed away by our own lusts, driven away by the temptations of Satan, the frowns or follies of the world; possessed with carnal prejudices against the ways of God, as if they were 'grievous,' 'unprofitable, p and unequal ways; apt to take every pretence to flinch away, and steal from the eye of God; apt to turn aside into every diverticle, which a carnal reason, and a crooked heart can frame unto itself; for a corrupt heart is like a wild beast', that loveth confusa vestigia,' to have intricacies and windings in his holes; it cannot away with straight paths, but loveth to wry and pervert the rule of life. In these cases it is the care and office of Christ to gather that which was scattered ', to seek that which was lost, to bring again that which was driven away, to bind up that which was broken, to strengthen that which was sick, and to restore by his spirit of meekness, those which are overtaken with a fault his gospel is like the trees of the sanctuary, not for meat only, but for medicine too.
Fourthly, As he healeth our diseases, and giveth us strength, so, in the midst of enemies and dangers, he removeth our fears, and giveth us comfort and refreshment. "I will make them," saith he, "a covenant of peace, and I will cause evil beasts to cease out of the land, and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods. -When the Assyrian shall be in our land, and shall tread in our palaces, then shall he raise up seven shepherds, and eight principal men;" namely, the ministers of his gospel in abundance, to establish the heart of his people against all dangers. This is that Shiloh who should bring tranquillity and peace into the church, even when the sceptre should depart from Judah. When the heart is full of doubts and distresses, disquieted with the fear of God's displeasure, accused by the law, pursued by the adversary, and condemned by itself; then doth he still the raging of the sea, and com
n Hos xiv. 4. John vi. 60. Matth. xxv. 24. Job. xxi. 14, 15. Mal. iii. 14, 15. P Ezek. xviii. 25. q Jer. xi. 10. Acts vii. 39. Psal. xiv. 3. Animalia quædam, ne inveniri possint vestigia sua, circa cubile ipsum confundunt. Senec. ep. 68. xeûdos uvgías ékтpoñàs exe. Clem. Alex. s Gal. i. 7. 2 Peter iii. 16. t Ezek. xxxiv. 16. Gal. vi. 1 Ezek. xlvii. 12. xxxiv. 25, Micah v. 5. Scultet. Exercit. Evang. 1. 1. cap. 4.