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from God in our thoughts, lives, hopes, ends ; though we had justified Sodom and Samaria by our abominations ;-yet he can make us “nigh by his blood,” he can make our “crimson sins as white as snow,” he can, for all that, establish “an everlasting covenant” unto us. I was a blasphemer, a persecutor, very injurious to the Spirit of grace in his saints; I wasted, I worried, I haled into prison ; breathed out threatenings, I was mad, I made havock of the church, I was, within one step of the unpardonable sin, nothing but ignorance between that and my soul: "Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that, in me first, Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them who should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting," saith St. Paul d.
Let us make St. Paul's use of it: First, To love, and to believe in Christ, to accept as a most faithful and worthy saying, “That Christ came to save sinners ; " indefinitely, without restriction, without limitation; and me, “though the chiefest of all others." Though I had more sins than earth or hell can lay upon me, yet if I feel them as heavy weights, and if I am willing to forsake them all,- let me not dishonour the power and unsearchable riches of Christ's blood,-even for such a sinner there is mercy. Secondly, To break forth into St. Paul's acknowledgment, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, and only wise God;” to him that is a king of righteousness, and therefore hath abundance for me; that is eternal, and yet was born in time for me; immortal, yet died for me; invisible, yet was manifested in the flesh for me; the only wise God, and who made use of that wisdom to reconcile himself to me, and by the foolishness of preaching doth save the world, " be honour and glory for ever and ever, Amen."
Secondly, From the signification of the Word, we may note, Where Christ is a king of righteousness, he is a king of peace too. So the prophet calleth him, "the Prince of Peace";” a creator and dispenser of peace. It is his own by propriety and purchase, and he leaves it unto us : “ Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world
di Tim. i. 13, 10.
c Ephes. ii, 11, 14. Isai. i. 18. Ezek. xvi. 60, 63. e I sai. vi. 9. VOL. II.
giveth, give I unto you f.” The world is either 'fallax' or inops;' either it deceives, or it is deficient: but peace is mine, and I can give it. Therefore as the prophet Jeremiah calleth him by the name of “Righteousness 8 ; " so the prophet Micah calleth him by the name of “ Peace:” “ This man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land h.” To which St. Paul alluding, calleth him cipám hã,
our peace i.” By him, we have peace with God, being reconciled and recti in curia’ again; “ being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christi." So that the heart can challenge all the world to lay any thing to its charge. By him, we have peace with our own consciences; for being sprinkled with his blood, they are cleansed from dead works, and so we have “the witness in ourselves," as the apostle speaketh * By him, we have peace with men. No more malice, envy, or hatred of one another, after once " the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards men appeared ?." All partition-walls are taken down; and they which were two before, are both made “one in him ":" and then there is towards the brethren a love of communion,-towards the weak, a love of pity,-towards the poor, a love of bounty, either φιλαδελφία or αγάπη. either brotherly love, or general love,-towards those without, mercy, charity, compassion, forgiveness,—towards all, good works. By him, we have peace with the creatures; we use them with comfort, with liberty, with delight, with piety, with charity, with mercy,--as glasses in the which we see, and as steps by the which we draw nearer to, God. No rust in our gold or silver; no moth nor pride in our garment; no lewdness in our liberty; no hand against the wall ; no flying roll against the stone or beam of the bouşe ; no gravel in our bread ; no gall in our drink; no snare on our table ; no fears in our bed; no destruction in our prosperity : in all estates we can rejoice; we can do and suffer all through Christ that strengtheneth us. We are under the custody of peace; it keeps our hearts and minds from fear of enemies, and maketh us serve the Lord with confidence, boldness and securityo. “The works of righteousness are in peace, and
f John xiv. 27. & Jer. xxxiii. 16. h Micah v. 5. j Rom. v. I. k Hcb. ix. 14. 1 John v, 10. Rom. viii. 16. m Ephes. ii. 14. 0 2 Pet. i, 7. • Phil. iv. 7.
i Ephes. ii. 14. | Tit. iij. 3, 4.
the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance for
Note, Fourthly, From both these, that is, from a peace grounded in righteousness, needs must blessedness result: for it is the blessedness of a creature to be re-united and one with his Maker; to have all controversies ended, all distances swallowed up, all partitions taken down, and therefore the apostle useth p "righteousness” and blessedness” as terms promiscuous. All men seek for blessedness; it is the sum and collection of all desires ; a man loveth nothing but in order and subordination unto that. And by nature we are all children of wrath, and held under by the curse. So many sins as we have committed, so many deaths and curses have we heaped upon our souls, so many walls of separation have we set up between us and God, who is the fountain of blessedness. Till all they be covered, removed, forgiven, and forgotten, the creature cannot be blessed. “ Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered 9." All the benedictions which we have from the most high God, come unto us from the intercession and mediation of Christ. His sacrifice and prayers give us interest in the all-sufficiency of him that is above all, and so are a security unto us against all adverse power or fear; for what, or whom need that man fear, that is one with the most high God? “ If God be for us, who can be against us "?” When God blesseth, his blessing is ever with effect and success; it cannot be reversed, it cannot be disappointed : “ Hath he said, and shall he not do it? or bath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Behold,” saith Balaam,“ [ have received commandment to bless; and he hath blessed, and I cannot reverse its.”
Note, Fifthly, From Melchizedek's meeting Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, we may observe the great forwardness that is in Christ, to meet and to bless his people, when they have been in his service. “Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness :- I said I will confess my sins, and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin u.” No sooner did David resolve in his heart to return
o Isai. xxxii. 17.
p Rom. iv. 5, 9.
9 Rom. iv. 7. r Rom. viii, 31.
u Psalm xxxii. 5.
to God, but presently the Lord prevented him with his mercy, and anticipated his servant's confession with pardon and forgiveness ;—"Thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness *." As the father of the prodigal, when he was yet a great way off, far from that perfection which might in strictness be required,-yet because he had set his face homeward, and was now resolved to sue for pardon and readmittance, when he saw him, he had compassion, and ran (the father's mercy was swifter than the son's repentance) and fell on his neck and kissed him y. We do not find the Lord so hasty in his punishments, “ He is slow to anger,
and doth not stir up all his wrath” together. He is patient and long-suffering, “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” He comes, and he comes again, and the third year he forbears, before he cuts down a barren tree: but when he comes with a blessing, he doth not delay, but prevents his people with goodness and mercy. O how forward ought we to be to serve him, who is so ready to meet us in his way, and to bless us!
Note, Sixthly, From the refection and preparations which Melchizedek made for Abraham and for his men, we may observe, That Christ, as king and priest, is a comforter and refresher of his people in all their spiritual weariness, and after all their services. This was the end of his unction, to heal and to comfort his people : “ The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he 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, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, and to preach the acceptable year of the Lord z.” To provide a feast of fatted things, of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wine on the lees well refined a; to milk out unto his people consolations and abundance of glory b; to speak words in season to those that are weary, and to make broken and dry bones to rejoice, and to flourish like a herb.
And this is a strong argument to hold up the patience, faith, and hope of men in his service, and in all spiritual assaults; we have a Melchizedek, which, after our combat is ended, and our victory obtained, will give us refreshments at the last, and will meet us with his mercies. If we faint not, but wait a while, “ we shall see the salvation of the Lord,” that in the end “he is very pitiful and of tender mercy d." "He is near at hand, his coming draweth nigh: He is near that justifieth me; who will contend with me? Let us stand together. Who is mine adversary? Let him come near to me.” The readiness of the Lord to help, is a ground of challenge and defiance to enemies Job went forth mourning, and had a great war to fight; but the Lord blessed his latter end more than his beginning; and after his battle was ended, met him, like Melchizedek, with redoubled mercies. David, Hezekiah, Heman the Ezrabite, and many of the saints after their example, have had sore and dismal conflicts, but at length their comforts have been proportionable to their wrestlings; they never wanted a Melchizedek after their combats, to refresh them.
* Psal. xxi. 3. b Isai. Ixvi. 11.
a Isai. xxv. 6.
y Luke xv. 20. z Luke iv. 18, 19. c Isai. 1. 4. Psal. li. 8. Isai. Ixvi. 14.
“ Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall rise ; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto ine: I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgement for me; he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness ?." He hath strength, courage, refection, spirit, to put into those that fight his battles ; though they be but as Abraham, a family of three hundred men, against four kings, yet he can cut Rahab, and wound the dragon, and make a way in the sea for the ransomed to pass over, and cause his redeemed to return with singing, and with joy and gladness upon their heads : “I, even I, am he that comforteth you ; who art thou that thou shouldst be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man that shall be as grass &."
Note, Seventhly, From Melchizedek's receiving of tithes from Abraham (which the apostle taketh special notice of, four or five times together, in one chapter"), we may observe, that Christ is a receiver of homage and tribute from his people. There was never any type of Christ as a priest,
d Exod. xiv. 13. James v. 11. f Micah vii. 8, 9. $ Isai.li. 12.
e Phil. iv. 5. James v. 8. Isai. 1. 8, 9. b Heb. vii. 2, 4, 6, 8, 9.