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mercy: "I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before thee, and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy to whom I will show mercy." God's special and gracious mercy, the mercy of his promises in Christ, doth convey unto the soul an interest in all his goodness: nay, it maketh all things good unto us; so that we may call them ours, as gifts and legacies from Christ. He hath given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, the world, and life, and death, and things present, and things to come; "all are yours," saith the apostle. Death itself and persecutions are amongst the legacies of Christ unto the church, and a portion of all that goodness, with which, in the gospel, she is endowed. It contains the glory of God's power and strength; for it is "the power of God unto salvation," as hath been declared. It containeth the glory of God's grace: The grace of his favour towards us, and the grace of his Spirit in us. "The law was given by Moses, but grace came by Christ ";" that is, favour instead of God's fury, and strength instead of man's infirmity. For because man was unable to fulfil the law, therefore the law came with wrath and curses against man; but in the gospel of Christ there is abundance, even a whole kingdom of grace: the apostle saith, that by Jesus Christ "grace reigned." There is grace to remove the curse of the law by God's favour towards us: so that on all sides the law is weak; unable, by reason of man's sin, to save; and unable, by reason of God's favour, to condemn. And there is grace to remove the weakness of man by God's Spirit in us: for though our own spirit lust unto envy', or set itself proudly against the law of God; yet he giveth more grace, that is, strength enough to overcome the counterlustings of the flesh against his will, and to enable us in sincerity and evangelical perfection, to fulfil the commands of the law. Lastly, It containeth, in some sort, the glory of God's heavenly kingdom, in that therein are let in the glimpses and first-fruits, the seals and assurances thereof unto the soul by the promises, testimonies and comforts of the Spirit. And therefore it is frequently called
p 2 Pet. i. 3, t James iv. 5, 6.
41 Cor. iii. 21.
r John i. 17.
Rom. v. 21.
'the gospel of the kingdom",' and 'the mysteries of the kingdom of God;' namely, that kingdom which beginneth here, but shall never end. As if a man, born in Ireland, be afterward transplanted into England, though he change his country, he doth not change his king, or his law, but is still under the same government:-so when a Christian is translated from earth to heaven, he is still in the same kingdom: in heaven it is the kingdom of glory, mended much by the different excellency of the place, and preferment of the person in earth, it is the same kingdom, though in a less amene and comfortable climate, the kingdom of the gospel. These and many other the like things, are the glorious matters which the gospel containeth.
Here then we see, how, and wherein, we are to look upon God, so as that we may abide his glory, and be comforted by it. We must not look upon him in his own immediate brightness and essence,-nor, by our saucy curiosities, pry into the secrets of his unrevealed glory, for he is a consuming fire, an invisible, an unapproachable light; we may see "his back-parts"," in the proclaiming of his mercy; and we may see" the horns a " or bright beams "of his hands,” in the publishing of his law: but yet all this was under a cloud, or under the hiding of his power; "His face no man can. see, and live." We must not look upon him only in ourselves. Though we might, at first, have seen him in our own nature,―for we were created after his image in righteousness and true holiness, yet now that image is utterly obliterated, and we have by nature the image only of Satan and the old Adam in us. We must not look upon him only in Mount Sinai, in his law, lest the fire devour us, and the dart strike us through: we can find nothing of him there but rigour, inexorableness, wrath and vengeance; but we must acquaint ourselves with him in his Son, we must know him, and whom he hath sent together; there is no fellowship with the Father, except it be with the Son too. We may have the knowledge of his hand, that is, of his works and of his punishments, without Christ: but we cannot have the knowledge of his bosom d, that is, of his counsels, and of his com
u Mat. xiii. 19. Mark i. 14. Luke viii, 10. x Deut. xxix. 29. y Exod. xix. 21. a Habak. iii. 4. John xvii. 3.
Exod. xxxiii. 23.
1 John i. 3.
passions; nor the knowledge of his image, that is, of his holiness, grace, and righteousness; nor the knowledge of his presence, that is, of his comforts here, and his glory hereafter, but only in and by Christ. We may know God in the world, for in the creation is manifest τὸ γνωστὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ "that which may be known of him;" namely, his eternal power and godhead. But this is a barren and fruitless knowledge, which will not keep down unrighteousness; for "the wise men of the world when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, but became vain in their imaginations," and held that truth of him which was in the creation revealed, in unrighteousness. We may know him in his law too; and that in exceeding great glory; "When God came from Teman, and the holy one from Mount Paran" (whereabout the law was the second time repeated by Moses) "his glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise, his brightness was as the light," &c. But this is a killing knowledge, a knowledge which makes us fly from God, and hide ourselves out of his presence, and fight against him as our sorest enemy, and come short of his glory: therefore the law is called a fiery law, or a fire of law,' to show not only the original thereof, for it was spoken out of the midst of the fire ; but the nature and operation of it too, which of itself is to heap fire and curses upon the soul*; and therefore it is called the ministration of death." But now to know the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, is both a fruitful and a comfortable knowledge. We know the pattern we must walk by; we know the life we must live by; we know the treasure we must be supplied by; we know whom we have believed; we know whom we may be bold with in all straits and distresses; we know God in Christ full of love, full of compassion, full of ears to hear us, full of eyes to watch over us, full of hands to fight for us, full of tongues to commune with us, full of power to preserve us, full of grace to transform us, full of fidelity to keep covenant with us, full of wisdom to conduct us, full of redemption to save us, full of glory to reward us. Let us, therefore, put ourselves into this rock, that God's goodness may pass be
e Col. i. 15. f John xiv. 6. Ephes. ii. 18. iii. 12. Heb. x. 19, 22. i Deut. v. 22. k
iii. 3, 4. Deut. i. 1. Rom. xii. 20.
h Deut. xxxiii. 2. 1 2 Cor. iii. 7.
Gal. iii. 10.
fore us; that he may communicate the mysteries of his kingdom, and of his glory unto us; that by him our persons may be accepted, our prayers admitted, our services regarded, our acquaintance and fellowship with the Lord increased by that blessed Spirit, which is from them both shed abroad in his gospel upon us.
Now lastly, The gospel of Christ is glorious in those ends, effects, or purposes for which it serveth. And in this respect principally, doth the apostle so often magnify the glory of the gospel above the law. The law was a glorious ministry, as appears by the thunderings and lightnings the shining of Moses' face, and trembling at God's presence, the service of the angels, and sound of the trumpet, the ascending of the smoke, and the quaking of the mountain: but yet still the glory of the gospel was far more excellent, a better covenant", a more excellent ministry. The law had 'weakness and unprofitableness' in it,—both terms of diminution from the glory thereof;—and therefore it could make nothing perfect: but that which the law could not do, inasmuch as it was weak through the flesh, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus' (which is a periphrasis of the gospel, as appeareth 2 Cor. iii. 6.) did do for us, namely, make us free from the law of sin and death. So then the law was glorious; but the gospel, in many respects, did excel in glory".
To take a more particular view of the spiritual glory of the gospel of Christ in those excellent ends and purposes for which it serveth: First, it is full of light, to inform, to comfort, to guide those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, into the way of peace. Light was the first of all the creatures which were made; and the apostle magnifieth it for a glorious thing in those other luminaries which were after created. How much more glorious was the light of the gospel! The apostle calleth it pus Javμaorov, 'a marvellous light and therefore the kingdom of the gospel is expressed by light and glory' together, as terms of a promiscuous signification. Of all other learning ", the knowledge of the gospel doth infinitely excel in worth, both in regard of the object thereof, which is God manifested in the flesh, and in
m Exod. xix. 16, 21. Heb. viii. 6. Heb. vii. 18, 19. 1 Cor. xv. 41. • 1 Pet. ii. 9. t Isai. lx. 1, 2, 3. πᾶσα ἡ τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου δύναμίς τε καὶ παίδευσις. Greg. Νaz.
q 2 Cor. iii. 10. υ'Ασοφος σοφία Orat. 3.
regard of the end thereof, which is flesh reconciled and brought unto God. A knowledge which passeth knowledge; a knowledge which bringeth fulness with it, even all the fulness of God; a knowledge so excellent, that all other human excellences are but dung' in comparison of it. What angel in Heaven would trouble himself to busy his noble thoughts (which have the glorious presence of God, and the joys of Heaven to fill them) with metaphysical, or mathematical, or philological contemplations, which yet are the highest delicacies which human reason doth fasten on to delight in? And yet we find the angels in Heaven, with much greediness of speculation stoop down, and, as it were, turn away their eyes from that expressless glory which is before them in Heaven, to gaze upon the wonderful light, and bottomless mysteries of the gospel of Christ. In all other learning, a devil in Hell (the most cursed of all creatures) doth wonderfully surpass the greatest proficients amongst men: but, in the learning of the gospel, and in the spiritual revelations and evidences of the benefits of Christ, to the soul from thence, there is a knowledge which surpasseth the comprehension of any angel of darkness; for it is the Spirit of God only, which knoweth the things of God. It was the devilish flout of Julian the apostate against Christian religion, that it was an illiterate rusticity, and a naked belief; and that true, polite learning, did belong to him and his ethnic faction: and, for that reason, he interdicted Christians the use of schools and human learning, as things improper to their believing religion ;-a persecution esteemed by the ancients as cruel as the other bloody massacres of his predecessors. To which slander, though the most learned father might have justly returned the lie, and given proofs, both in the canonical books of holy Scripture, and in the professors of that religion, of as profound learning, as invincible argumentation, and as forcible eloquence, as in any heathen author, (for I dare challenge all the Pagan learning in the world, to parallel the writings of Clemens of Alexandria, Origen, Justin, Tertullian, Cyprian, Minutius, Augustin, Theodoret,
* Ephes. iii. 18. y Phil. iii. 8. 21 Pet. i. 12. aΩν τοῦτο ἀπήλαυσα μόνον, τὸ περιϊδεῖν καὶ ἐσχηκέναι ὧν Χριστὸν προετίμησα. Greg. Νaz. Orat. 1. b ̔Ημέτεροι, φησὶν, οἱ λόγοι, καὶ τὸ Ἑλληνίζειν, ὧν καὶ τὸ σέβειν θεούς· ὑμῶν δὲ ἀλογία καὶ ἀγροικία· καὶ οὐδὲν ὑπὲρ τὸ, πίστευσον, τῆς ὑμετέρας ἐστὶ σοφίας. Greg. Naz. Orat. 3.