The Loss and Restoration and Restoration of the Image of God in Man;
- BEING THE SUBSTANCE OF TWO SERMONS, PREACHED AT PROVIDENCE CHAPEL, ON SUNDAY, DECEMBER 28, 1800.
Is the morning I shewed you that, in the decree of election, it was ordained of God to bring his elect to heaven in the image of Christ, and what we were predestinated to by virtue of that decree.
2. What the image of God in Adam was, and that it was the noblest work of God in the whole creation. This is plain; for, when this lower world shall be destroyed, nothing of all God's works will be left to the glory of the great Creator, but the elect of God in the image of the second Adam.
3. That the principal thing or the most invaluable blessing, in God's image in Adam, was life. This may be seen two ways. first, by all the misery of the wicked; 2, by all the happiness of the righteous. All the misery that the wicked suffer in this world, anti their endless torments in the world to come, are for the want of life: "The wages of sin is death:" they are dead in trespasses and sins while they live, and when they die. So all the comfort that the elect have in this world is from life: "This is my comfort in my affliction, for thy word hath quickened me." Yea, all the glories of the upper world, together with all the grace of God bestowed upon us in this, is included in this one word?life: for, as "the wages of sin is death," so "the gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Hence it is plain, that eternal misery is the want of it; and eternal happiness is the enjoyment of it; therefore it is the greatest blessing.
4. I shewed you that there was something of this blissful and paradisaical state shadowed out to Israel in the land of promise. It seemed to be something of a reviving of it, as well as emblematical of a paradise yet to come; but that all vanished and faded away, and Israel is banished from all his bliss; as every thing will that hath not the promise of momentary support from God: for nothing can stand alone. "We to him that is alone when he falleth." Angels fell, and Adam fell, and Israel is fallen, by their iniquity: but the elect angels stand; they stand in God's decree, and are confirmed in it by the head of all principality and power: and so the elect stand, being kept by the mighty power of God; without this they could not stand one moment. Let them have what strength they may as Samson had, and have Christ revealed to them by God the Father from heaven, as Peter had; and be blessed by Christ in that revelation and confession of it, as Peter was; yet, under one violent assault of Satan, when the whole mass of human corruption is stirred up, all would wither in a moment, were it not for momentary support and supplies, by which they are preserved in Christ Jesus; "I will water them every moment, I will keep them night and day; for the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever," Psalm xxxvii. 28. How soon do we find the strongest joys, the warmest love, and most lively frames, wither, and our best purposes broken off, even the thoughts of our hearts; so that, though to will is present with us, yet how to perform that which is good we find not; yea, what we would, that we do not; and what we would not, that we do. But our life is hid with Christ in God; and, though the branch may seem to wither, and sensible barrenness to follow, yet eternal life is in Christ the root; and our being in him, by an indissoluble union, virtue must go out of him; for the root of the righteous yieldeth fruit: "I am like a green olive-tree," says Ephraim: but "in me is your fruit found," saith the Lord. I shall now proceed to shew,
5. That the incarnation of Christ, his sufferings, and death; the proclamation of the gospel; and the mission of the Holy Ghost; are to restore the lost image of God the Saviour to God's elect among the sons of men.
1. The incarnation of Christ. God's image being lost in Adam, and a most despicable image obtained in the room of it; and all Adam's offspring coming into the world in his image and likeness, which God despises; and sin having separated between God and man, and our actual transgressions making the breach wider and wider; Christ, by his incarnation, determining to destroy that image, came down into our likeness: "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage: for verily he took not on him the nature of angels, but he took on him the seed of Abraham: wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high-priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people," Heb. ii. 2?17. God having predestinated us to be conformed to his Son's image; and Christ being set up from everlasting to be future man, second Adam, and covenant head; of whom the first Adam was a figure; he came, in the fullness of time, to assume that nature, anti to appear in that body, prepared in the purpose of God. The apostle says he passed by the nature of angels, which was our ruin, and took a part of our flesh and blood; and then assigns the reason for so doing: "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren." In God's purpose, and in the Saviour's incarnation, this resemblance and likeness is still preserved, that he may in all things be made like unto his brethren. "The Father worketh hitherto, and I work."
But then his brethren are not only partakers of flesh and blood, but, through Satan's malice and the fall of man, they are now partakers of sin and misery: be it so?Christ still pursues them throughout all the profound depths of their low estate, and will in all things be made like unto them; that his brethren may, at last, be made like unto him; "For what the law could not do God did, in that it was weak through the flesh; God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh," Rom. viii. 3. Here we have the Son of God, the firstborn, and elder brother of the whole family, in the likeness of sinful flesh. Sin had entered, and death by sin, and so the judgment of God had passed upon all, for all have sinned: so in the likeness of sinful flesh God sends his own Son, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh. God condemned sin in the very nature which Satan had ruined. Satan's image is what God despises: and the body of the sins of the flesh, or the old man is what hates; therefore he sends his Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and lays upon him the iniquity of us all; and crucifies him, and the old man with him, that the body of sins might be destroyed: "He made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of sinful flesh; and, being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself', and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross," Phil. ii. 7, 8. There was a union which took place between Christ and his elect from everlasting: they were chosen in him and loved in him, and given to him; and he was set up and appointed to be the head and representative of them; in pursuance of this he takes their nature, and their sins, and dies in their room anti stead; and they all die and suffer the law representatively in him: "if one died for all, then were all dead;" and at conversion we become dead to the law, dead to sin, and dead to the world; this is called a likeness in their sufferings: "For, if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection," Rom. vi. 5. When Christ was condemned and crucified we died, being crucified with him; and when the law enters at our arraignment and conviction, sin revives, and we die, like Christ: this is being planted together in the likeness of his death: but when faith comes, and we are delivered from sin, and from the law, we rise to a lively hope under the operation of the Spirit of God; and so serve God in the newness of life: this is called rising, with our risen Head, under the operation of the Spirit of God: "Thy dead men shall live," saith God; "with my dead body shall they arise," saith Christ. This Paul calls being planted together in the likeness of his resurrection: "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified, with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed; that henceforth we should not serve sin: for he that is dead is freed from sin. Now, if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him," Romans, vi. 6?8. In Christ we die representatively; and in our own souls when the law is applied, and we are condemned and die by it. By faith we pass from death to life; and, having obtained justification, we become freed from sin: freed from every stain of sin in Christ, being complete in him; freed from sin with respect to the book of God's remembrance; they are blotted out, and God will remember them no more: freed from sin as considered the putting on the new man; for he is created in righteousness and true holiness: and freed from sin its the covenant of grace "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity." And, though sin be in us, and work in us, yet 'it is condemned; it is crucified with Christ. And, the Lord Jesus Christ being put on, the old man is put off; and, as Christ is dearly beloved by us, and the old man perfectly hated (although we do at times that we would not, and do not what we would), it is no more us, but sin that dwelleth in us: thus we become dead; and, in the above sense, freed from sin.
But let the following consideration be attended to: namely, that when God predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his Son, this image respects him in his incarnation; for when Adam was made he had a body of flesh, and a reasonable soul, and the image of Christ on him; and in these he was a figure of him that was to come: he could not be the figure of Christ as God, abstractedly considered; for whatever inward endowments the Spirit of God might impress the soul of Adam with, he must be infinitely short of being the image of the invisible God. We are informed, by the word of God, that Adam was a figure of him that was to come; and I have shewn you that when Christ did come he had a body as Adam had; he was made of a woman; he was made like unto his brethren; he was found in the likeness of men, yea, in the likeness of sinful flesh: this was Emmanuel, God with us, or God incarnate; and it is to Christ's image, as such, that we are predestinated to be conformed. He was made flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone, and had a reasonable soul like unto us: in all these he was' made like unto his brethren; and, according to his word, his grace and his Spirit is never to depart from us; and by these we are made like unto him. Thus have I proved that the incarnation of Christ, his sufferings and death, were to bring about this image and likeness; and it is plain that the Father and the Son were joint-workers in all these. God prepared that body in which Christ appeared: the Father anointed him: and, in all his miracles, "The Father that dwelleth in me doeth the works," says Christ. In his sufferings, "I am not alone," says the Saviour, "because the Father is with me." In short, God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself? "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." I am to prove,
2dly, That the proclamation of the gospel is intended to bring the elect of God to a participation of the image of Christ.
1. The gospel promises that all God's children shall be taught of him, and that they shall all know him, from the least to the greatest; which is the first thing in God's image that Adam lost.
2. The gospel sets forth the righteousness of Christ, and the good-will of God to men in the imputation of it: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, The just shall live by faith;" and we are informed, and experience teacheth us the same, that" the righteousness of Christ is unto all and upon all that believe." Adam's righteousness was creative and native, and lay principally in love and delight in God, and was the second ingredient in God's image on Adam, and was lost when sin and the sentence of condemnation took place. But our righteousness is the obedience of Christ imputed to us, and is a perfect, a divine, and an everlasting one, better than ever Adam's was.
3. The gospel is called the ministry of the Spirit; and God promises us a new birth by the Spirit, and that the offering up of the Gentiles shall be accepted, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. And to prepare a way for the reception of the Spirit, comes all the fatherly chastisements of God upon us. "God chastens us for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness;" and it is declared, that" if any man hath not the Spirit of Christ he is none of his." Holiness, the third particular in God's image, was lost in Adam; sin entered, and all true holiness left him.
4. The gospel promises destruction to the vail of ignorance with which the god of this world hath blinded our minds; "which vail shall be destroyed," saith the prophet, "because of the anointing." Life and immortality are brought to light by the gospel. Christ rises and shines upon us, even when we sit darkness and in the shadow of death, and becomes our everlasting light, our God, and our glory. This light of the glory of God Adam lost, and Satan spread the covering of a dismal gloom of darkness over him, which has reached to all mankind: "Darkness hath covered the face of the earth, and gross darkness the people." When the light of God's glory left Adam, then this dismal vail came on.
5. The gospel sets forth the love of God to us, which is manifested, even to the world, by the gift of his dear Son; and it manifested in the hearts of all God's elect in drawing them Christ; and in shedding abroad his love in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is called circumcising our hearts, that we may love the Lord our God with all our heart, that we may live. This sweet feature of God's image in Adam left him at the fall, and, his mind becoming carnal, the devil filled it with enmity against God; so that it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.
6. Everlasting life is set before us in the glorious gospel. This was the greatest blessing that attended the image of God in Adam. With the loss of this was he threatened in case of disobedience. But he disobeyed, and the life of God left him; and sin, which is the sting of death, and the law, which is the ministration of death, and he that hath the power of death, that is, the devil, all entered into him at once. Now, to sum up all this in a few words: God breathed into Adam the breath of life, and man became a living soul; the Holy Ghost quickened him, illuminated him, and impressed the image of God upon him, and abode with him, to support him in that image as long as he obeyed; but he disobeyed and died; and we all died representatively and spiritually in him, and became obnoxious to death temporal and eternal. The Spirit of God immediately left him; and what Job says of all mankind was found first a truth in Adam: "If God gather unto himself his Spirit and his breath, all flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto his dust," Job, xxxiv. 14, 15. God gathered to himself his Spirit, and Adam died in his soul; and after that he gathered to himself his breath, and Adam returned to his dust.
3. The mission of the Holy Ghost is intended to renew us, and to let us know the things which are freely given us of God in Christ; and to take these things which are in Christ and apply them to us, that we may be created anew in Christ Jesus, and have the new man wrought in our souls after the image of him that created him, in righteousness and true holiness. For to be conformed to Christ's image are we predestinated; and this conforming us is bringing us back again to the image of God. To conform us is to make us, who bear the image of the old Adam, to resemble, or to be made like unto, the second Adam; and reduce us, who are rebels, to be conformable to the mind and will of God, by making us pliant, submissive, and obedient to Christ Jesus. Hence Paul wished to be made conformable to Christ's death; he desired to be crucified daily to this world, and this world to him; and that, whenever it might please God to call him to suffer in confirmation of the truth, he might be enabled to submit with fortitude, that God might be glorified in him, both in life and in death. And Paul knew that dying daily to this world, and living a life of faith on the Son of God, and walking in the Spirit, and minding the things of the Spirit, and pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling, would, in some measure, prepare him to be conformable to Christ's death; hence this exhortation, "Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind," Rom. xii. 2. The more a man conforms to this world, the less is he prepared for death; and the more diligent a man is in running his race, looking to Jesus, the more is that man transformed; for," while we look as through a glass darkly, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory."
But I come now to the restoration of this image in man: and wherever this image is to be restored, there must be a spiritual birth. We have been born once; and our birth was of blood, of the will of the flesh, and of the will of man; and we were born in the image of the earthly head: and God says we" must be born again, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." Without this birth there can be no likeness. Thousands in a profession are pleasing themselves with head notions, dead formality, and in external conformity to the precepts of men; and are kept on, partly by applause, and partly by the fear of the preacher, who at the same time know nothing of this image, and hate every appearance of the power of the Spirit by which we are transformed, and even them that enforce it. But, let them have what knowledge they may, and reform as much as they please, and be as steadfast in their profession to the last as the foolish virgins were, God still despises their image. God has appointed the ministry of the gospel as the means of bringing God's elect to the image and likeness of Christ. He has promised, also, that his Spirit shall attend his word to make the preaching effectual; and he has promised regeneration to all the chosen seed: "I will pour my blessing upon thy seed, and my Spirit upon thine offspring." Hence the gospel is sent hither and thither, wherever any of this chosen seed are, to gather them in; and it is forbidden to be preached at this and that place, as you read in the Acts, and it is because there are none of the chosen family there to be gathered in. And here I may take notice of a whole train of concurring providences working together in behalf of every one of them, not only in bringing the gospel to this and that place, which is called lifting up the standard to the people: but in sending a sound abroad, to proclaim where this standard is: "The sound goes out through all the earth, and the word to the world's end," Rom. x. 18. All that embrace it proclaim it; this raises malice in some, fear in many, and curiosity in others; and so, from the Thessalonians, "sounded out the word of the Lord, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place," says Paul, "your faith to God-ward is spread abroad," 1 Thess. i. 8. This sound goes before, and the good tidings follow after. Now this sound goes by various means. When God drowned Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea, he "made the nations to shake at the sound of his fall," Ezek. xxxi. 16. This sound reached the ears of Rahab, the harlot, in Jericho; this she tells to the spies, and obtains an oath of them, and is justified by her faith. The sound of Solomon's fame reached the country of the Sabeans, and brought the queen of the south, who came because of the name of the Lord; and the Sabeans, men of stature, were in future to come over to Christ's standard. The sound of the slaughter of the Assyrian army brought the Babylonish ambassadors to Hezekiah, to know the wonder that was done in the land. And from thence came the wise men when Christ's star appeared in the east; and since that a church, according to "Peter, was elected together at Babylon." A famine drives Naomi from Bethlehem, and she carries the sound of God's tame into the country of Moab; and the unlawful match of one of her sons shall bring Ruth near to Naomi, and altogether shall bring her to God. The Syrians, unprovoked, shall invade Israel, and carry captive a little maid, who had no hand at all in the war; and she shall be the means of bringing her leprous master to Elisha; and God heals him, and he disclaims all gods but the God of Israel. A famine shall drive Elijah to a widow of Zidon; and Elisha's continual walks by Shunam shall attract the eyes and heart of the Shunamite to entertain him, because he was a man of God. So a multitude out of every nation should be at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, and all of them should hear the word in the language wherein they were born; and when these returned they went out the sound, and others reflected it from them. Tim AEthiopian eunuch shall come to Jerusalem to worship he knew not what, and return just as he came; but while reading the prophecies of Isaiah, knowing nothing about them, the Holy Ghost orders Philip to join himself to his chariot, and explain the meaning; at which the Holy Spirit enters him, and he goes on his way rejoicing. Here Ethiopia also stretches out her hands unto God. Austin goes with a guilty conscience from Carthage to Rome, and there he gets worse and worse, and falls into desperate heresies; from thence he moves to Milan, where he shall hear the truth as it is in Christ. God bears his elect from the womb, and to hoary hairs he carries and does deliver them, though they never know any thing about it till he makes "darkness light before them, and crooked things straight." There is a train of circumstances working together in behalf of every chosen vessel. Their parents shall be obliged to move here or there, where this or that elect one is to be brought forth; or this and that chosen seed shall be bound out apprentice, or be put to service, or go to work somewhere or somehow, so that the sound shall reach the ears of them who are to be called. And this sound, when it first comes, shall hang on their minds, and vibrate in their ears, till it either excites their curiosity, or brings uneasiness upon them; and under either of these they will go, as they often say, and hear for themselves; and, when they come, they have no more knowledge of what they hear than a blind man has of colours; it is something that they cannot get at, and it is something they cannot condemn, and therefore they sometimes determine to go again, but they know not for what; and thus they play upon the hook till they cannot get away, and it is the determination of their unknown God that they never shall. Time would fail me to tell how many have been caught in the gospel net by the different reports that people have heard of me; some have been informed that I have been a coalheaver, that I have had no classical education; and they, being fully persuaded that no man can preach without it, have come, and God hath given them more knowledge under the foolishness of my preaching than ever they got under Grecian wisdom. The reproach and implacable malice that some eminent preachers, and their whole flocks of professors, have loaded me with, has contributed not a little towards this good work of bringing God's elect to Jesus Christ. For not a few, like the prodigal son in a far country, have, in the chains of their sins, joined themselves to citizens of this country, citizens of Jerusalem that now is; and they have been sent into their fields to feed swine, by preaching they knew not what; and others have been sent to carry a few shillings and a few prayers to convert the sick, to attend prayer-meetings and spouting societies, to speak in workhouses, and to pray by criminals in goals and persons under sentence of death and at the gallows?this I take in the general to be feeding swine; and not a little of this work is going on now among us. And not a few of this sort have, as the prodigal did, experienced a famine afterwards in their own souls; and they found that the husks that they carried to others would not keep themselves from starving; and in their want they have run from place to place to get food, but all in vain; and at last have ventured themselves, though not without the most comfirmed prejudice, nor without much fear and trembling, to hear the rank Antinomian; and to their astonishment they have found what they never expected; and they have been as agreeably undeceived as the Samaritans were when they turned their backs upon Simon Magus, and adhered to Philip. These, and many more concurring providences, work together to bring God's chosen to hear the gospel, and by the gospel to receive the Holy Ghost; and by the Holy Ghost to be regenerated and renewed, and under his regenerating operations to be conformed to the image of Christ.
"Unto Shiloh shall the gathering together of the people be;" but "No man," says Christ, "can come to me except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him," John, vi. 44. Hence God works in his providence, and by the law, to bring his elect to Jesus, and Jesus receives all that the Father draws to him; thus "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."
I shall now proceed to the confirmation of this image of Christ, and of bringing eternal life to light in the soul, which is the joint work of the Father and the Son; "For, as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will," John, v. 21. And it is as plain that all God's elect are to be taught both by the Father and by the Son. It is written in the prophets, "And they shall be all taught of God. Every man, therefore, that hath heard and hath learned of the Father cometh unto me," John, vi. 45 And it is plain, from the word of God, that we learn one lesson of the Father, and another of the Son, and eternal life attends the teaching of them both; "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent," John, xvii. 3. God teacheth us first out of the law, by the which is the knowledge of sin, and the knowledge of spiritual death and wrath. This teaching is intended to discover the old man to us, and the image of the earthly head which we bear, and the dead state in which we all by nature lie, and in which we are children of wrath even as others. I have before observed, that every one that hath heard and learned of the Father cometh to Christ; and God's teaching is sure to make us feel our need of him. Hence David says, "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law; that thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged up for the wicked," Psalm xciv. 12, 13. In the verse before this quotation David is speaking of the vain thoughts of man; "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man that they are vanity." Hence the law is sent home to discover these thoughts of the heart, and to let us know that God is privy to them all, and that all our vain thoughts and false notions of God, and of the goodness of our own state, and the way in which we expect to please God, and to recommend ourselves to his favour, are empty and vain. A thorough law work helps to cure us of this self-conceit.
For "by the law is the knowledge of sin," which in that glass becomes exceeding sinful; and the law being spiritual, it reaches the soul and all the inmost recesses of the heart. The old man rouses up himself, sin takes occasion by the irritating power of the law to oppose it; and the law being holy, our comeliness turns all into corruption, and we are filled with all manner of concupiscence; which cohers the soul with shame, and fills it with confusion.
Here the old man is discovered with all his deceitful lusts; and most vile, filthy, polluted, and impure, do we appear. Well may the prophet say," But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we do all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities like the wind have taken us all away." The law having discovered sin to us, it fills us with terror, and a horrible dread overwhelms us; slavish fear and torment possess us. The sentence of the law comes home, and sin being revived and discovered, the curse lights upon us, and the wrath of God enters into our conscience, and makes sad work there; and God appears an inexorable judge, and no less than a consuming fire. This he calls coming near to us to judgment, and appearing both judge and witness against us: "And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and that fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts," Mal. iii. 5. That text, when God applies it, is sure to take the sinner, let him be who or what he may; for, if he escape all the first list of charges, the last is sure to take him; for, in a state of nature, there is no fear of God before the eyes of men till God puts it into their heart. When God deals thus with us we know that he is come near to us, we feel ourselves in his strong hand, and at his awful bar; and every day, yea, every hour, brings some forgotten sin to mind, or some unsuspected lust to light: yea, all is made manifest, every thought of the heart is discovered, as Paul himself describes it: "But, if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face, he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth," I Cor. xiv. 24, 25. God having thus made us and our wicked deeds manifest, we become guilty before him to the last degree. And, having nothing to plead, nothing to say, and seeing no door of hope, no way of escape, and it appearing impossible for us to be saved; the law, gospel, God, and conscience, all against us; and expecting every day either to go raving mad, or to be drowned in despair, or to be cut off by death, or to be swallowed up alive, like Korah and his company; or else that the devil will be permitted to carry us away in the night; expecting nothing from God's hands but ruin and destruction, and being fully persuaded, from what we feel, that it is impossible we should be saved; it tills us with most desperate enmity against God; the old man, and every feature of old Adam's image, shew themselves. Instead of knowledge, we are filled with confusion, ignorance, blindness of mind, and darkness that may be felt; and appear the biggest fools in the whole world. And instead of righteousness, we are guilty by the very precept of the law, and condemned by every truth in the gospel; condemned by every thought of our heart, and by our own conscience; by every professor of religion. and by every pharisee in a form of godliness and carnal security; yea, and by every fowl of the air, and by every beast of the field; for they all seem to answer the end of their creation in some way or other: but, as for us, we are rebuked by the ox that knows its owner, and by the ass that knows its own crib; by the stork, and the crane, and the swallow, which know the time of their coming; and even by the ant, which gathereth her food in the summer.
And, instead of true holiness, in which we were created, from head to foot there is no place sound; we are even loathsome in our own sight, and abhor ourselves, and wonder from one hour to another at finding ourselves in the land of the living; astonished that God does not cut us down as cumberers of the ground, and send us to our own place. These are the cursed features of old Adam's image.
And, instead of love, our souls are filled with inexpressible enmity against the best of beings; and, instead of glory, there is nothing but guilt and filth, disgrace, shame, and, as we fear, everlasting contempt; and, instead of life, we are in the dark regions of the shadows of death; dead in soul, dead to God, and to all that is good; dead in the law, and dead at the bar of equity, and under the dominion of Satan, who has the power of death. Nevertheless, all this time we are imperceptibly and wonderfully supported. And, indeed, this teaching of the Father is intended to cut us off from the wild olive-tree, that we may be grafted into a better stock. And it is to persons under this teaching that the Saviour calls" Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Heavy laden we are; for guilt and filth, God's wrath and Satan's rage, the reproaches of conscience and our own despondency, the soul-woundings that we feel, and the dread of worse to come, is a most intolerable burden. And, though we labour hard in soul and body to do something to appease the wrath of God, and to move him to pity, yet, feeling such desperate enmity against him, and such rebellious strugglings to get out of his hand, to flee from his presence, or to get above him, or to contrive some way or other to skulk into non-existence, that he may not bring us forth at the last day, these things make us despair of ever pleasing him. And, Satan filling our souls with blasphemies and blasphemous thoughts against him, and with the most obscene and unclean thoughts, which are not confined to this world, but stirred up even against heaven itself; the devil, by these means, labours hard to stop all crying to God, and, if possible, to chain us down in black despair or wild distraction. "This is his hour, and the powers of darkness." Nevertheless," Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law, that thou mayest give him rest," &c. These are the souls that labour and are heavy laden, and that stand in need of rest; and it is God's intention that those that he thus teaches shall find it. and enter into it; hence the text says, "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law, that thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity." Isaiah, pointing to Christ, says, "This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest, and this is the refreshing," Isaiah, xxviii. 12. And Christ, calling to such, says," Come to me, and I will give you rest." Yet they cannot come to him till the Father draws them.
Now I know that temptations and legal terrors are common to the reprobate as well as to the elect; yet I think this teaching of God out of his law differs much from all their terrors and convictions; and do you observe what follows:
1. There is a blessing pronounced upon these poor souls that are thus dealt with, thus chastened and taught out of the law. And this blessing is not a temporal one, or a blessing of temporal things; nothing of this appears in the text, it is therefore one of the spiritual blessings with which God has blessed us in heavenly places in Christ; for the blessing promised in the text is rest, which is a new covenant blessing, and is promised to the people of God: "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law, that thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity," &c.
2. Now, what is God's chief blessing? I answer, God's chief blessing is life; "Upon mount Zion God commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." And sure I am that those distressed souls, whose ease the Saviour describes in his sermon on the mount (some of whom mourned, some wept, some hungered, some were poor in spirit, some were meek, &c. and upon all of whom the Lord pronounced the blessing), were under this law work, or were under the chastening hand of God the Father, and he was then teaching them out of his law.
3. Now, as the blessing of God is life, it appears plain to me that these souls, under this law teaching, are secretly quickened by God the Father; and this I think is what the Saviour intimates when he says," For, as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom he will," John, v. 21. For under this, the Father's teaching, poor sinners are strangely raised up, alarmed out of all their carnal security, and effectually awakened from their bed of sloth, and from their death in sin; and they are raised up from their state of insensibility, and brought to judgment; and if they are not secretly quickened, it will be hard to tell what this blessing of God upon them is, even while God is chastening them, and teaching them out of his law.
Moreover, the keenness of their sensations under God's chastening hand; the motions of their hearts towards God: their earnest and incessant cries day and night unto God; the diligent searches of their souls after God; the keen hunger after righteousness, and after the bread of life; the parching thirst that is upon them while their souls are scorched with the fiery law which God describes, calling them the poor and needy, that seek water and there is none, and their tongue fails for thirst, saying," I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them;" are all such a the prodigal son felt when he came to himself: and, if he had no life, how could he have motion towards God? and yet he arose and came to his Father, and God says he had life: "This my son was dead, and is alive again," &c.
4. The Saviour tells us, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth;" and again," And when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will convince the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment." And it is under the secret operations and convincing power of the Spirit that the handwriting appears against us, and an angry God before us. And I think all the Saviour's real followers were under the Father's teaching in the days of his flesh; for he compares them to women in labour when he left them; nor were they enlarged, brought forth, or born again by the perfection of love, till the day of pentecost was fully come. Then, but not till then, were their fears and torments cast out, no, not even the fear of men; for they were all shut up till then, for fear of the Jews. Yet these had life in their souls, as appears by Peter; "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." Yea, the Spirit of life was in them, though he did not fill them with his joys and comforts; hence the Saviour tells them, upon their desire to command fire from heaven upon the Samaritans, that they knew not what manner of spirit they were of.
5. It is the Spirit that discovers the heart; "The spirit in man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the innermost parts of the belly," Prov. xx. 27. I do not understand that text as most do, who make that candle, or spirit, to be the soul of man; for Satan blinds that too much; it is too dim to search all the innermost parts of the belly; besides, that candle never found out the sin of unbelief; and therefore we want a. better. God says, "I will search Jerusalem with candles, and will punish the men that are settled on their lees," Zeph. i. 22. And this was fulfilled in the apostles' days; for, when Christ had inspired and illuminated the apostles by his Holy Spirit, he tells them that "Men do not light a candle to put it under a bushel, or under a bed, but on a candlestick, that all that come in may see the light;" and calls them the world, and tells them to let their light shine before men: and, when he had searched out his own elect with these candles, he called for the Romon sword, and punished severely the carnally-secure Jews, who were settled on their lees.
6. James says, "God of his own will begat us, with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures," James, i. 18. And his word is called the incorruptible seed, which liveth and abideth for ever; and which seed never leaves us, but terminates in a spiritual birth; "Being born again," says Peter," not of corruptible, but of incorruptible seed; the word, of God, which liveth and abideth for ever," 1 Peter, i. 23.
It is well known that there must be a spiritual begetting and quickening, before there can be a spiritual birth; and it is with the word that God begets us; and Peter says that this word is an incorruptible seed, which liveth and abideth for ever; and to this agrees Christ, "My word is spirit, and my word is life." But you may object, and say, the word of life is peculiar to the gospel; whereas you are speaking of a law-work, and the law is the ministration of death, Well, let me make this matter more clear, and do be observant.
It is not always a sentence, or a passage of the law, or from the law, which enters the soul of a sinner when he is first summoned to the bar of God: this was not the case with the great apostle of the Gentiles; the voice that called to him was," Saul! Saul! Why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." The light which attended this voice shone round about him, and about them that journeyed with him; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to Paul. Now I have no doubt but that voice quickened Paul; "The time cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live," John, v. 25. The above passage, Saul, Saul, &c. is not to be found in the moral law. The apostle describes this word of the Lord, and the entrance of it 'rote his heart, and what effect it had upon him, when he says "For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword; piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow; and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart," Heb. iv. 12. The apostle here describes the first entrance of the Lord's voice into him; and he says, the word of the Lord is quick; it quickens, and gives life; it is a sword to wound; and life made him feel the wound which the sword gave him. Now, though it was not a sentence of the law that was pronounced in the ears of Paul, yet what he felt within him was law. He found at once that sin revived; and he tells us, it is by the law we have the knowledge of sin; it stirred up all his corruptions, and set all his crimes before him; it condemned him to death, and he died: "Sin revived," says he, "and I died."
But I will for once presume to dive a little into the apostle's heart, and shew you how matters were with him, and how he found these things out.
First then, he tells us, that the commandment came to him; "I was alive without the law, but, when the commandment came, sin revived and I died," Rom. vii. 9. But it may be asked, What does he mean by the commandment? the law has many commandments; why does he call it the commandment, in the singular number? The reason of it according to his own explanation is, because the whole law is fulfilled in one word, namely, love; "Love," says Paul, "is the fulfilling of the law." Love in the heart, is one love; and the commandment requires only love; this includes all things: yet this love has two objects set before it, namely, God and the neighbour; and therefore the commandments are called two; "On these two commandments," saith the Saviour, "hang all the law and the prophets." Yea, our Lord himself makes it one and the same thing as our great apostle does?Take it as he speaks it. A pharisee, who was a lawyer, put this question to our Lord, tempting him?"Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; this is the first and great commandment: and the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets," Matt. xxii. 36?39. Here our Lord says, the second is like unto the first. And so much like it, says Paul, that love in the heart fulfils the whole; "Love is the fulfilling of the law," the whole ten commandments: and this the apostle takes from the Psalms, "I have seen an end of all perfection, but thy commandment is exceeding broad," Psalm cxix. 96. >From hence Paul takes it; and David says, it is the commandment, and it is exceeding broad: for it reaches to God in the highest heaven, and calls for love, with every power of the soul, to him; and it extends to all the human race, according to Christ's explanation, whether friends or foes; whatever others, in old time, may have said to the contrary; as it is written," It was said in old time," &c. "But I say unto you, love your enemies," &c. In this Paul agrees with David, in calling this the commandment. David says, in his matter, "I have seen an end of all perfection." Paul follows him, and says, "Now the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned," 1 Tim. i. 5. This, says David, is all perfection; so says Paul; "And, above all things, put on charity, which is the bond of all perfectness," Col. iii. 14. And to this agrees John; "He that feareth is not made perfect in love; but he that loveth dwelleth in God, and God in him; and herein is our love made perfect," 1 John, iv. 16, 17. Love is what the law calls for, and demands; and this commandment is exceeding broad, it reaches both friends and foes; and it was this commandment that came to the apostle; and when it came it found him as full of desperate rage, malice, and enmity, against God, as the devil himself; he was persecuting, opposing, and doing all that he could against Christ; he had blasphemed him, that is, he had cursed him, 1 Tim. i. 19; and, in wasting the church, he had made others recant, and give up their profession of Christ, and he compelled them to blaspheme or anathematize the Saviour, in order to bind or confirm their recantation, or to establish their apostacy; "I," says Paul, "compelled them to blaspheme," Acts, xxvi. 11. After Paul's conversion his enemies threw this m his teeth. But what Paul had done was in real blindness and unbelief, and, as he thought, was doing God service; but the Spirit had taught him better; "Wherefore," says he, "I give you to understand, that no man, speaking by the Spirit, calleth Jesus accused; and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord (with an application to himself) but by the Holy Ghost," 1 Cor. xii. 3. And this awful work goes on among the Jews to this day; they can find no better name than this for the Son of God. This was all the love to God which the moral law found in the heart of Paul; and it found no more love in Paul to his neighbour than it did to God.
For some of them he had beaten each, in every synagogue, others he had shut up in prison; some he had driven to strange cities, others he had compelled to blaspheme their great Creator; against some he had given his voice as a witness, others he had killed, and had even held the clothes of some who were stripped to stone others to death; and all this not out of love to his neighbours, "but being exceedingly mad against them." And I bear some record among us, who are sworn enemies to Antinomians, and very great sticklers for the law, and who call it, and make it, their only rule of life, that they are as much filled with exceeding madness against some of their neighbours as ever Paul was against his; one of whom has been honest enough to confess that he hates me worse than he hates the devil; and I believe him, for all that are in the flesh do find that "the motions of sins, which are by the law, do work in their members to bring forth fruit unto death," Rom. vii. 5. "The law worketh wrath:" and that good man's confession of his hatred to me confirms it. Thus I have shewed you what Paul means by the commandment which came to him; and at the entrance of which, instead of finding any love, either to God or man, it found him hating and persecuting both. And now his enmity was stirred up and discovered to him; and all his wrath, batted, blasphemy, and murder, was set before his eyes; and all the vanity of his birth, privileges, pharisaical righteousness, and zeal for human traditions, this whole baseless fabric tumbled down about his ears; and down he went also, for he could not stand in the judgment: "Sin revived, and he died."
Nor did Paul get rid of this schoolmaster, in a hurry. Hence, when he tells the Ephesians to be watchful, he adds," Therefore watch, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one of you night and day with tears," Acts, xx. 31. It was an awful alarm in his own heart that kept him at this three years warning. If it be asked what that alarm was, he tells us himself: "Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men," 2 Cor. v. 11. But, when he got rid of his chains of bondage, he laboured under a better influence, as he owns: "For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead," 2 Cor. v. 14. From what has been said, this is the sum: it was the quickening voice of the Lord Jesus Christ which reached the ears and heart of Paul; and this voice of the great Judge of quick and dead summoned Paul to the bar of God; and the commandment, which calls for love to God and man, entered into his conscience, and found him filled with enmity and hatred to both. Nor did it stop here; it stirred up all the lusts of his heart, sin worked by the law till he was filled with all manner of concupiscence. This made him sick of trust in self, and of all confidence in the flesh, for he found that there was no good thing dwelt in him. Now, when Paul grew up in grace and knowledge, he searched into these things. Then says he to himself, How is it? it was the voice of the Son of God that called to me, and it was light and life that attended that voice; his word was quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword; it pierced to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and discerned every thought of my heart. And yet it did not remove my sin, but stirred it up; it did not purify my filthiness, for sin wrought in me all manner of concupiscence; it did not bring love to me, but slavish fear and trembling; not liberty, but bondage; not love, but wrath; not life and immortality, but the sentence of death; not justification, but condemnation: and therefore I conclude it could no! to be the gospel that worked in me, but the law. Paul having made this judgment of the matter, he confidently affirms and founds all these dreadful sensations of his soul upon the law: "By the law is the knowledge of sin." Sin by the law becomes exceeding sinful: "Sin took occasion by the commandment, and wrought in me all manner of concupiscence." Without the law sin is dead. The law genders to bondage; it communicates the wrath of God, which is a spirit of bondage to fear. The law worketh wrath; it is the ministration of condemnation, it is the ministration of death. And thus he establishes all his dreadful. sensations upon the law; and he is quite right in so doing, for none of these things can be called "good news from a far country." But some one may reply, How does all this agree with the account that Paul gives us of this affair in the word of God, where it is said," And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and, putting his hands on him, said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost," Acts, ix. 17. If Paul was filled with the Holy Ghost, how could Paul labour so long under the terrors of the law, and the bondage of it? Can the Spirit of God, and the bondage and wrath of the law, be in one soul at one and the same time? The Holy Ghost was in all his fullness in Christ when he hung upon the cross; it was through the eternal Spirit that he offered himself to God; and yet, at the same time, all our sins were on him, he was made a curse for us; and the wrath of God, like fire, melted his heart like wax in the midst of his body, Psalm xxii. 14. The Spirit of God was in Job when the handwriting exhibited bitter things against him, Job, xiii. 26; when the wrath of God worked in him, Job, xiv. 13; and when the arrows of God stuck fast in his heart, Job, vi. 4. The Spirit of God was in David under all the sufferings which befell him on account of his fall, as he prays, "Take not thy holy Spirit from me." The Spirit, as a spirit of supplication, was in Hezekiah when God, by the law, was shewing him all that was in his heart. The apostles had life in their souls before the crucifixion of Christ; the Spirit had quickened them; and, as a spirit of faith, he had wrought faith in them. Christ owned this when he says," I came forth from thee, and these have believed that thou didst send me; and the word which thou gavest me I have given them, and they have received it." Thus had God begotten them, and the Spirit had quickened them, wrought faith in them, and had applied the word of God to them; yet, as a spirit of revelation of love, of power, and of liberty, and of a sound mind, he came not on them till the day of pentecost. So the word from Christ's mouth quickened Paul, and after that illuminated him, emboldened him, equipped him with might, fired him with zeal, and kept him warning sinners day and night with tears for three years, that he might bring in both Jew and Gentile guilty before God, by preaching the law. But when these were to be built up, then the Spirit worked in him as the spirit of love and comfort; and then the churches walked in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, and were edified. Jeremiah, who was filled with the Spirit of God from the womb, preached in bondage almost all his days. But some may say, This doth not tally with what Paul himself affirms: "Now the Lord is that spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty." How can bondage and liberty stand together? Do you believe God's covenant, that God's word and Spirit are never to depart from Christ, nor from his seed? If you do, then take the Holy Ghost anti the bonds of Paul both together: "And now, behold, I go bound in the Spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there; save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every place, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me," Acts, xx. 22, 23. All that I aim at is this: when the elect of God are convinced of sin, and the law works in their souls, the devil generally sets before them the terrors of Cain, Judas, Saul, and others, and tells them that their case and state is the same as theirs; and hence a madhouse in this world, and hell-torments in the next, are expected by them. Thus he dealt with me; on which account I have long studied, meditated, and watched, to see wherein the convictions of hypocrites and apostates differ from those that come upon God's elect before their deliverance, and which sometimes fall upon them afterwards; as upon David after his fall, and upon Job and Hezekiah. When the terrors of God fell upon king Saul an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him; and when those awful convictions fell upon Judas, Satan had entered into him; but, when convictions entered Saul of Tarsus, the Spirit of life from God attended the word of Christ, and quickened him, and gave him a dreadful sight and sense of sin, which hypocrites have not, and which immediately set Paul to praying. And Christ does not call it making long prayers, nor saying prayers; but he says to Ananias, "Go, and inquire for one Saul of Tarsus, for behold he prayeth." The Spirit of life and of supplication was in him. And all this agrees with my own experience. It was not a sentence, or any passage, from the law that entered into me: the words were these," Believe that I am in you, and you in me." Light, like a flash of lightning, entered into me with those words: and all my sins came up before my eyes, and an manner of concupiscence rose up in my heart, attended with the wrath of God, the curse of the law, the sentence of my own conscience, and most infamously unclean thoughts and blasphemous suggestions of the devil. These came in all together; and I immediately cried to God; nor could I ever give up seeking, longing, thirsting, and praying, till my deliverance came. And, as to that passage," Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty," it is true such a man is free from all future demands of vindictive justice, having righteousness in Christ, and the spirit of adoption in him; and, indeed, God, by his chastening hand, is dealing with him as with a son; yet the Spirit does not always operate as a spirit of love, or as a comforter; at least I have not found it so; nor did David. He was often shut up, and cries, "Bring my soul out of prison;" and again, "I will run the way of thy commandments when thou shalt enlarge my heart;" and again, "Thou hast loosed my bonds;" and again, "Restore unto me the joys of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit;" all which proves that he did not always enjoy liberty. And, as for Jeremiah, he seems to have been in bondage almost all his days, unless when he wrote his 31st chapter; and he gets into his bonds again before he could finish that. But, although David and others could not always feel love nor comfort, yet they got satisfaction from this, that the word, coming in the power of the Spirit to them, had given them life: "This is my comfort in my affliction, for thy word hath quickened me," Psalm cxix. 50 Perfect liberty is only felt and enjoyed under the influence of love and comfort; but the Spirit illuminates, quickens, strengthens, emboldens, fortifies, bears witness, helps our infirmities in prayer; yea, and convinces us of sin, righteousness, and judgment; and, what is still more, pierces the very soul, at his first entrance, by the word. Hence the word of God is called "the sword of the Spirit;" which gives the word its edge, and attends it with those cutting convictions, reproofs, and rebukes, which made Peter's audience cry for quarters. The word comes with power at such times; and whenever it comes with power, it comes in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance. It is the Spirit that makes the word "quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. There are diversities of operations, as well as gifts; and "all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing" his gifts and operations "severally as he will," Read I Cor. xii.
But, after this long digression, I must return to shew how the lost image of God in man is restored and re-impressed; and this is done by the Holy Ghost in regeneration. Whenever the set time shall come to favour Zion, as it does sooner or later to all that belong to that chosen city, the Spirit of God first presents Jesus Christ to the sinner's view, and enlightens the mind and understanding to discern him. This is the Spirit's work. Christ says, "he shall testify of me." This is what the psalmist calls "seeing the goodness of the Lord in the !and of the living: at which time (he says) I had fainted unless I had believed." Balsam saw him, but never saw his need of him, nor believed in him. This which follows, is Paul's account of the matter, which came to him some time after his first alarm; and I think it was in Jerusalem, when he fell into a trance in the temple; "And it came to pass, that when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I was praying in the temple, I was in a trance; and saw him, saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee out of Jerusalem," Acts, xxii. 17, 18. And Paul describes it thus: "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. iv. 6. Paul says that Christ is the image of the invisible God, and in his face God shines, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of himself in the Saviour's face. Now, as knowledge was the first thing that discovered itself in God's image in Adam, here is that knowledge of God restored, together with the glory of God, in the second Adam's face. The Holy Spirit thus testifying of Christ, and keeping him in the view of the enlightened mind, he changes our whole soul into a likeness of him; while we stand gazing, wondering, and looking on the blessed object set before us. At this transformation the devil's vail is rent, and the Holy Ghost changes the whole soul, and forms it into another vessel, and transforms it into another likeness. The finishing and polishing work is thus described by the apostle: "But even to this day, when Moses is read, the vail is still upon their hearts; nevertheless, when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit; and where the Spirit or the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord," 2 Cor. iii. 15?18. Here is a most noble account of this renewing work. Christ is set before us; God shines in his face and displays his glory, and the light of the knowledge of it in the face of Jesus: and, while we look and wonder at him, says Paul, the Holy Spirit impresses the same image upon us: we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. This is called God's forming a people for himself, that shall shew forth his praise, Isaiah, xliii. 21. And Paul, after this work is done, calls us new creatures in Christ; and says, we are created anew in Christ Jesus; which means one and the same thine. But then it may be asked, what the apostle means by changing of us into the same image from glory to glory? Why the brightest saints upon earth, at times, get under spiritual desertions, and lose sight of the darling of their souls, and get into darkness; when the image seems utterly to be defaced, and nothing but Satan and corruption left or felt. But then they never continue here; the Lord is their everlasting light, their God, and their glory; therefore the Holy Spirit is sure to testify of Christ again and again; and, when another ray breaks out from Christ's face, which is called lifting up the light of his countenance upon us, the Holy Spirit gives faith another view: then the image appears again; and, as the path shines more and more, so we are changed into the same image from glory to glory. And this will most surely be carried on till endless life in heaven takes place. Christ is our everlasting light, our God, and our glory; and never, till that sun goes down, shall this renewing work cease going on; God "will work, and who shall let it?" This is the work that concerns us, and God will perfect it: he will not leave us until he has done the thing that he has spoken to us of; and that thing is, to set us down in the image of the second Adam, in everlasting glory: for," as we have borne the image of the earthy (head), we shall also bear the image of the heavenly."
But some will say, My deliverance was not so conspicuous as Paul describes it. Whether it was or not, alters not the matter: some have had visions of him in his suffering circumstances, as Isaiah had; others have had visions of him on his throne, as Ezekiel and John had. These last were appearances of him in his glorified humanity. The former is to encourage faith to believe in him as Christ crucified; and the latter, the glorious appearances of him, were to encourage hope and expectation; to be looking out after the glory that is to be revealed in us. Now, though some poor souls have not had such glorious visions and views of the Saviour as others bare, yet they have had him as the true light shining into their hearts; at which time they had such a killing sight of sin in the glass of his sufferings, as they never had in the glass of the law. It was this that made Job abhor himself, and the comeliness of Daniel turn into corruption; the mind perceived the glorious light, and there was a looking at him whom we have pierced; and a being in bitterness of soul for him; and hating self for sinning against him, and for bringing such sufferings upon him. This is seeing him who is invisible' who is invisible to bodily eye-sight, and invisible to the light of reason. It is in his light we see light, as the sun is perceived in his own rays. And this open vision is supernatural light; it is God shining into the heart; and without this there is no salvation. "Where no oxen are, the crib is clean;" so," Where there is no vision, the people perish," Prov. xiv. 4; xxix. 18. Many, yea, even ministers too, laugh and make game at vision, which is tacitly acknowledging that they never had any such thing; therefore, God says," They speak a vision out of their own heart; and not out of the mouth of the Lord," Jer. xxiii. 16. Christ is light, and the fountain of light; he is the sun of the church, and he is seen at times by all his children: "The world sees me no more, but ye see me; and because I live, you shall live also." And so the weakest of all his saints will tell you when he comes, and when they have got him, and how he shines upon them; and they will tell us of the love, the peace, the joy, the comfort, the sweetness, the rest, the tranquillity, and sweet composure of mind, that he brings to their souls: and they will tell you, with grief and sorrow enough, when he is gone; and of the darkness, temptations, carnal lusts and evil tempers; the wrath, peevishness, infidelity, and distrust; together with the doubts and fears, that succeed upon his departure: and we know that this is he of whom Moses and the prophets wrote. You may know him from all others; for there is none like him in heaven or earth. Thus the enlightened mind perceives him, and the melting-soul is susceptible of the divine impressions which the Holy Ghost makes; he not only regenerates, but renews us. He transforms us by the renewing of our mind; or, as Paul says, he changes us "into the same image, from glory to glory;" and this is done "by the Spirit of the Lord."
And now, for the comfort and establishment of the weak, I will proceed to shew every particular of this image to which we are conformed; for, if we can come up to this, we shall make our calling and our election sure; for we are predestinated to be conformed to the image of the Son of God. Therefore, without this, all religion will be nothing at last. And I verily believe that there are whole churches, as they are called, in this nation, that have not one feature of Christ's image among them. And where nothing appears but the image of the first Adam in the pulpit, it is in vain to expect it in the pews; seeing God says "it shall be, like people like priest:" if the eye of the body be evil, the whole body, guided by such an eye, shall be full of darkness; and, if the whole body be dark, how great is that darkness. But now to the restoration of this image of Christ, and to each particular of it. And,
1. Adoption appears. Our sonship is made manifest by regeneration; for, the love of God being shed abroad in the heart by the Ho1y Ghost, all fear and torment are cast out, whilst love encourages and emboldens us to lay a claim upon God as our God; and, that we may be enabled to do this, the Spirit bears his witness with our spirit; which witness silences all the accusations of Satan, law, and conscience; for the clamour of these in the soul makes such a noise, and breeds such confusion and distraction, that nothing can be done, heard, or attended to. But, the witness of the Spirit silencing all these, there appears in the soul a most sensible serenity and profound silence, while the Spirit, by our own mouth, cries, "Abba, Father;" the mind, at the same time, listening to hear if any thing from law or gospel, Satan or conscience, contradict this; and, finding there is nothing, either seen or heard, felt or feared, that appears to gainsay or resist the Spirit's testimony, but rather a full persuasion of the genuineness of the work, from a sense of the presence of God, the enjoyment of his love, and the deep impressions of his power, revealing or making bare his arm, in persuading the mind not only to believe the report of the word, but to believe the work of the Spirit; and matters being thus considered and examined into, and the witness of the Spirit being so clear, and all our accusers silenced and sent out of the court, the heavenly conclusion is drawn, and we wist that all is true that has been done by the angel, and therefore are constrained to say that this scripture is fulfilled, "Thou shalt call me, My Father; and thou shalt not turn away from me." And from that time the tongue of the stammerer speaks plainly, when he says, "My Lord, My God, and the rock of my salvation." All which appears true in the Spirit's cry, in his witness, in the love of God, in the regenerating work of the Spirit, and in the faith which he has received, or in the persuasion of his own mind; and therefore from that time forward, he goes on with it. But, as Satan is most desperate at our adoption, in every after trial he will hale this work over and over, and call this and that part of it in question, and then set us to reason upon it, and so to raise doubts in our mind about the truth of it; and then influence us with infidelity, and, if possible, bring us to disclaim it. And sometimes he has had the insolence to tell us that he has transformed himself into an angel of light, and that he himself has done the whole of it, and that on purpose to deceive us, and to lead us to trust in a delusion, and to ascribe that to the Holy Spirit of God that was only a Satanical counterfeit. And here he often preveils; but this does not last long; for, "when the enemy comes in like a flood," and seems to carry away all before him, "the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." And this lifting up the standard against him is nothing else but taking away the dark vail that Satan has spread over the mind, and once more testifying of Christ to us, or giving us another glimpse of that just One; and, as soon as he shines again, the whole image appears afresh, and the same impression is felt and enjoyed. This is called" changing us into the same image, from glory to glory." But, in the Old Testament, it is called "reviving the work in the midst of the years, and making known,:" Hab. iii. 2. And thus does God the Spirit again and again present the Lord Jesus Christ to our view; and every time he does so we come forth to the light, and behold his righteousness, faithfullness, and truth, to his poor children, and to his own good work an them; for he will carry it on, and perfect it, and complete it, in spite of men and devils; and will do it over and over again a thousand times before they shall wholly lose sight of it, or die away from the quickening influences of his Spirit And here suffer me to give you a little advice. Christ has promised his presence with us always to the world's end whenever we meet together. And it is in his sanctuary that he promises to shine, and to display his outgoings as our God and our king. And hence ministers are called standard-bearers, because, by the word preached, Christ is evidently set forth crucified before us. And preaching the word is sowing light for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart; because the Spirit works mostly by the word. And where the Spirit presents the light and glory of Christ by the word, there is another transforming view: faith perceives it: this is sowing light. And every view of his sweet face is attended with gladness; and gladness springs from love; and it is the upright that love him. Light soon discovers him; and love going out to him fills the soul with gladness. The disciples are always glad when they see the Lord. Thus light is sown that we may see him, and gladness rises at the sight. This should teach us to be diligent in the means. The loss of one transforming sight is a great loss to a real lover of Christ. How David longed for the sanctuary of God when in Gath, because he had seen the outgoings or manifestations of his God and his king there! Moreover, we should be diligent in the means, not only on account of our being changed into the image of Christ from glory to glory every time that the Spirit presents Christ to our view, but because our fruitfullness appears in this also; for every view that we have of him draws forth our love to him, our faith is exercised on him; and sometimes meekness, self-abasement, contrition, humiliation, self-abhorence, compunction, gratitude, thankfullness, joy at the sight of him, blessings and praises are heaped on him. When we get a view of him by the Spirit, then the Spirit takes of the things that are his, and shews them to us, and at the same time fills us with grace from his fullness; and then these things all flow out. This is what is called "our spikenard sending forth its smell;" and Christ being delighted and glorified by our grace thus in exercise is called "my beloved coming to eat his pleasant fruits." In this way does out fruitfullness appear; and at such times the mind is truly heavenly, and life and peace attend it. The old man is put off at every sight of Christ, and the new man is put on; and some of these fruits, more or less, are put forth. Thus "with the mind we serve the law of God." But no sooner is this best beloved hid, and this transforming ray eclipsed, but the pleasing impression wears off. and a dismal gloom and sensible dryness and barrenness succeed, and then carnal reason works and unbelief preveils; peevishness and fretfullness follow, and legal bondage steals insensibly on; and Satan, having put on his armour, and stirred up the old man to coincide with all his advice and counsel, all the delights of the sons of men are set before the poor sinner; such as men-singers, and women-singers, and musical instruments, and those of all sorts; the unutterable pleasures of the wicked, that have no war between the two laws; no cross on their backs, no chastening rod on them, nor spiritual desertions. The happiness of all these is set before us; and the old man, with all his deceitful lusts, is stirred up, and all that is pleasing to flesh and blood is imagined: and this will ever be the case when the good man is not at home; for "with the flesh we serve the law of sin." I now proceed,
2. To treat of the knowledge which is communicated to us in regeneration. This knowledge is not a knowledge of things natural; this was not wholly lost by the fall. It was the knowledge of God that was lost; and of this God complains to Israel: "The Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God, in the land," Hosea, iv. 1. And, as for the Gentiles, they were still more ignorant of God, though wise enough in other things; and the account of both is, that "the world by wisdom knew not God." Now God promises that the knowledge of himself shall be restored to us. Adam, at his creation, had no teacher but God; and God promises that all his elect shall be taught of him: "All thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children."
1. Paul tells us there is a "form of knowledge and of the truth in the law," Rom. ii. 20; but he observes that those who have it, do "not like to retain God in their knowledge," Rom. i, 28. But, when God enters into judgment with his own elect, by the impressions of his own glorious perfections, he strips them of all their false and vain notions of him. His holiness, that appears in the law, makes them cry out, as Isaiah did," Wo is me, for I am undone; for I am a man of unclean lips."
2. His omniscience appears in this law-work. He lets us know that there is not a thought in our heart, nor a word in our mouth, nor an action in all our life, but what he is privy to. These are all discovered and brought to light; yea, our secret sins are set in the light of God's countenance.
3. His justice appears also. Hence the complaints," Fear-fullness and trembling are come upon me, and I am afraid of thy judgments. Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified." This drives the sinner to his wit's end, for he sees no way of escape till a door of hope is set before him.
4. In the law, the terrible majesty of God, which appears before the convinced sinner, and the wrath of God that works in him, effectually convince the soul that God is true to all his threatenings. And he is taught to know that, unless truth is cleared some way or other, there can be no escape for him. However, "Mercy and truth are met together" in Christ, and "righteousness and peace have kissed each other?
Nor is the sinner without an awful sense of the immutability of God. He finds God is not to be turned by all his confessions, vows, prayers, or tears. Do what he will, he finds him true to his law, strictly just, and immutable; as Job says, ." He is of one mind, and none can turn him; and what his soul desireth, that ho doeth." But, as it is declared that "by the law is the knowledge of sin," and by the law the knowledge of God's terrible majesty; so by the gospel is the knowledge of pardon, and the knowledge of God's sovereign clemency.
God deals with us as he did with Israel of old under Moses. First comes the law in all its fullest meaning, terrible appearance, and unlimited demands, and the Lawgiver in it and by it as "a consuming fire;" but, after Israel had, by these terrible means, been convinced of the need of a mediator, and begged of Moses to undertake that office, the Lord seeming somewhat pleased; says, "They have well spoken that which they have spoken:" and promises to give them one like unto Moses. And after this a mercy-seat appears; and, added to this, there is a most glorious proclamation of the ever-blessed name of God: "The Lord, the Lord God merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin; and will by no means clear the guilty," Exodus, xxxiv. 6, 7. This is the blessed name proclaimed to Moses; but this name is not to be found in the law, for" by the law is the knowledge of sin," but not of pardon; by the law God will not clear the guilty. This name is in Christ Jesus, and no where else; and forgiveness must be sought there. and not elsewhere: "Behold I send an angel before thee to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared. Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not: for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him," Exodus, xxxiii. 20, 21. God in covenant is all this in Christ Jesus; hence the promise: "And they shall no more teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least to the greatest of them; for I will be merciful to their unrighteousnesses, and their sins and iniquities I will remember no more." But the knowledge that Adam had of God in a state of innocence was not such a knowledge as this; he was a stranger to God's terrible majesty; nor did ho need a knowledge of. his pardoning mercy till after he fell. Adam's knowledge of God was a knowledge of his wisdom and power, which appeared in the creation; and a knowledge of God's goodness, which appeared in the happiness, and in the delightful situation in which God had placed him, and in the dominion God had given him over the rest of the creation. But, above all, Adam's knowledge of God was a knowledge of love and delight; and this made him the object of the devil's envy; and therefore he sought his ruin, and by his wiles obtained it But this last branch of knowledge is likewise restored to us at our regeneration; for "he that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God."
3. At our regeneration righteousness comes to us also. Not a natural one like Adam's, nor a creative one: but the obedience of the Surety is placed to our account, as our disobedience was placed to the account of our Surety: "He was made sin for us who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." This is presented to our view by the Holy Spirit; faith apprehends it, and claims it; anti the soul feels all its nakedness and shame, guilt and filth, entirely hid. When Adam lost his native righteousness, the entrance of guilt opened his eyes, and he saw that he was naked, for the Holy Spirit with all his adornings left him; and then he took counsel, not of God, but of Eve, and clothed himself with a covering, but not of God's Spirit, for he was gone; and this was adding sin to sin, Isa. xxx. 1. But our robe is a better righteousness than Adam's was, for his was not lasting; but ours was wrought out by Immanuel, who is God with us, and who thought it no robbery to be equal with God when he made himself of no reputation, but took on him the form of a servant and became obedient: and it is by the obedience of that one that many are made righteous. And this righteousness, put on by faith, and attended with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and with the love of God in the heart, enables us to look up to God, and to stand justified even before the law itself; for "the righteousness of the law is fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit;" for it is God that justifieth, and none can condemn: for "there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." The grace of God in the heart, and this best robe on the soul, makes the poor sinner shine: "Put ye on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness," Eph. iv. 24.
4. I come now to treat of holiness, which is a most brilliant feature in the image of Christ, to which image we are predestinated to be conformed; and the apostle calls it true holiness, in opposition to all ceremonial, spurious, negative, or counterfeit holiness; and in doing this I will offer my thoughts of the matter under three heads.
1. Consider holiness as ours by virtue of our union with Christ, as the root; for, "if the root be holy, so are the branches," Rom. xi. 16.
2. I shall treat of holiness by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in us, "for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are: What I know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not, your own? 1 Cor. vi. 19.
3. I shall consider the new man that is formed in the believer, and treat of the holiness of him.
1. I begin with the first.?The law of God, which we have all broken, not only calls upon men for righteousness or obedience unto it, which Christ has obeyed; and which obedience God imputes to us, and in which we stand justified before him, Christ being made righteousness to us; but the law requires an holy nature, for the commandment is holy, as well as just and good. And we know that the payment of the surety must reach as far as the score of the debtor; the remedy that effects a perfect cure must go as deep as the disease. And, as we are told that the law is just and holy, so is Christ made unto us righteousness anti sanctification. I know the scripture says that we are sanctified by his blood; for it is said of Christ, "that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, he suffered without the gate;" and again, "He hath by his one offering perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Thus John tells us that "the blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin." But making us clean or setting us apart from all pollution, is not making us holy. The gates of heaven are barred against the unholy, as well as against the unclean; "Into it," saith the Spirit, "shall nothing enter that defileth;" this is truth, Rev. xxi. 27. And "without holiness no man shall see the Lord;" this is truth also. If we are pardoned anti cleansed from our sins, this comes to us on the footing of redemption, and redemption is by sacrifice: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot," 1 Pet. i. 18. The redemption price is the blood of Christ; faith applies this and purifies the heart with it: this is" redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins," Ephes. i. 7. The apostle often puts redemption and cleansing together: "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works," Titus, ii. 14. Now Christ is not only made redemption to us, but righteousness and sanctification also. He "is made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." Wisdom makes us wise, righteousness makes us just, sanctification makes us holy, and redemption makes us clean. Thus, by the blood of the covenant, we come forth out of the pit in which is no water. The Saviour took part of the children's flesh and blood; and the Holy Spirit, in the formation of his human nature, preserved it from all defilement. Hence he is styled a Holy Thing: "That holy thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God:" from which it appears that the Saviour's manhood was not only pure from all human defilement, but holy; the Holy Spirit made it holy, as the law of Adam required a holy nature, for in true holiness was Adam made; and Christ, as man, was so too. And I think this is one tiling meant in our Lord's speech to tile Jews: "Say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God?" Whatever that sanctification was, true holiness was a part of it. Without spotless purity and true holiness the humanity of Christ could not be a fit temple for all the fullness of the Godhead to dwell bodily in. And it is well known that he is often called the Holy One, and the Holy One of Israel also; for all God's Israel have all their real holiness in him and from him: "For, if the first-fruit be holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root be holy, so are the branches," Rom. xi. 16. No other can be meant by the first-fruit but Christ; because it is not called fruits, but fruit in the singular number. And we know that he is the root of David, and of all the saints. Into this good olive-tree were the Jews grafted, and the wild olive Gentiles were grafted in among them, and both partake of the root and fatness of the olive-tree, Rom. xi. 17. Christ is called the first-fruit, the church is called the lump; Christ is called the root, the church the branches; then says Paul, "If the first-fruit be holy, the lump is holy; and, if the fruit be holy, so are the branches." But then the branches must be grafted into the tree before they can partake of the root and fatness thereof. There is a double union between Christ and his saints: we are flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, he taking part of the children's flesh and blood; and he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit; this comes to us by regeneration. To be short?Christ's flesh is called a part of the children's, his obedience is called ours, his life is called ours, his redemption is ours, and his holy nature as man is ours; and, being united to him, made one with him, and standing fast in him, we have righteousness and sanctification in him; and, if this be granted; then those unaccountable passages of scripture may be accounted for: such as, God "hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, nor perverseness in Israel." And, "Ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power," Col. ii. 10. And again, "For they are without fault before the throne of God," Rev. xiv. 5. And this also, "Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee." I am in this matter hunting after truth. The law does require a holy nature, a holy body, and a holy soul, as Adam had. Now the indwelling of the Holy Ghost in us does not destroy either the life or the motions of sin in us, neither in our body nor in our soul; there is a carnal mind which is enmity, and a body of flesh in which is nothing good, and yet we stand complete before a holy God and a holy law: and I cannot account for this, but by our having perfect holiness in the head, or the holiness of the Saviour's human nature being. considered as ours by imputation; and, as he was made in the likeness of his brethren by incarnation, and appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh by imputation, so his grace and the holiness of his human nature became ours in the same way. God sanctified Christ, and sent him into the world in a holy human nature to fulfil all the righteousness of a holy law; and Paul says, "For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one; for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren," Heb. ii. 11, 12. And this is called sanctification in Jesus: "To them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and are called to be saints," 1 Corinthians, i. 2. I know that this is an unfrequented path in our days; but whether it be a way that is not cast up in the word of God, I shall leave to the saints to judge, and proceed to my next head, which is,
2. To treat of true holiness by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. And do you observe: all the hints that are mentioned about the image of God are built upon the formation of Adam, who was created in that similitude, James, iii. 9. And the apostle intimates that righteousness and true holiness were two eminent qualities of God's image in him; which holiness was a most holy influence, that the Holy Ghost spread throughout all the powers of his soul: and this holiness, the Holy Spirit kept up in Adam, by a continual influence, as long as he lived obedient. And the holiness of the saints now is nothing else but the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who at every believing and renewing view of Christ, by faith, spreads his most sacred and sanctifying influences throughout all the powers of the soul; as the most glorious cloud of holiness attended the appearance of God in the most holy place of the tabernacle and temple, when God came down to sanctify and consecrate them with his presence: when it was said "the glory of the Lord had filled the house" of the Lord. After which it was called "the most holy place," or "the holy of holies," so God, calling the temple of Jerusalem Lebanon, because it was built of cedar, says, "The glory of Lebanon shall be given to the church," Isai. xxxv. 2. That is, he will dwell with them that are of the household of faith, and make Zion his resting place for ever; and his influence shall be their holiness. And this God intimates when he prefaces the following passage: "Thus saith the high and lofty One, that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit," Isai. lvii. 15. Hence it is plain that the heavenly glory of the old temple is now in the church, for he that is holy, and dwells in the high and holy place, dwells also with the contrite and humble spirit: "Know ye not," says Paul, "that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are," 1 Cor. iii. 16. 17. Nor do I believe that the glorious appearance of God, at the dedication of the temple, had more majesty in it than that which attends him when he visits the humble and contrite; for the poor soul rises and shines like the sun; and well he may when "the glory of God is risen upon him," More might have been seen in the temple, but not more felt: for, when God by his Spirit comes with his glorious train, and sets Christ crucified before us, he spreads his beams of light and love, glory and beauty, holiness and immortality throughout, and we appear, during that time, quite perfect and complete. All is changed, all is renewed: "Old things are passed away, and all things become new," But, when this heaven upon earth withdraws, and all that is in our heart appears, and all our imbred corruptions and deceitful lusts are stirred up, to set our vain imaginations to work, how polluted does that once holy place appear, and how soon are we defiled! for" the thought of foolishness is sin," Prov. xxiv. 9. And here we lie, sick of sin and sick of self, groaning, "Who shall deliver us from the body of this death?" And now Satan works with his artful suggestions, and piercing accusations. But the Spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard against him; and this is done generally under the word preached; he testifies afresh of Christ, sets him forth evidently crucified before us; and away goes Satan, and down goes the old man; he is put off with all his infernal entertainments: and Satan shuns the light; for the devil cannot exist, being an unclean spirit, but in filth; nor can he feed, but upon the lusts of the flesh; these are his element, and these are his food: "Dust shall be the serpent's meat," but "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord? The old man is never put off, but by putting the new man on; nor is the new man ever put on, but when the Holy Spirit presents Christ afresh to our view; at which time the enlightened mind, susceptive of the rays of Christ's countenance, by faith discovers him; and faith, hope, and love, go forth, and solace themselves in him; and" while we thus look, as through a glass darkly, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord," Thus doth God save us, not only by the washing of regeneration, but by the renewing of the Holy Ghost: and it is by this continual renovating work, reviving and transforming of us, that the temple of God is holy. And where this Spirit dwells not, and where regeneration never takes place, and where no glimpse of the Saviour is discovered, there is none of the Holy Spirit's renewing work, and, of course, there is no true holiness. It is the indwelling of God, and nothing else, that can make a soul holy. Christ's transfiguration on mount Tabor is the reason that Peter calls that a holy hill, when he says, "And this voice we heard when we were with him on the holy mount," 2 Pet. i. 18. And he church goes by the same name: "They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea," Isaiah. xi. 9. But there is none of this knowledge of the Lord, but by the Spirit, for it is he that testifies of Christ; nor can we know the things of God but by the Spirit of God; nor can there be any holiness in this mountain without him; for "the offering up of the Gentiles is accepted, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost," Rom. xv. 16. All holiness short of this is only what the scripture calls "a fair shew in the flesh," and proud enough are our carnally-secure professors of this shew: but God despises their image. Now for a word of advice. The views that some poor souls have of Christ by the Spirit are very dim, and the renewing influence very transient; therefore, if the believer be not attentive to the Spirit's work, and very observant, he may lose also much satisfaction by such neglect: let him observe the appearance, and he will feel the holy influence. Now poor Stephen had a wonderful sight at his trial; for the Spirit opened the heavens, and presented Christ to his view, as standing on the right hand of God; and while Stephen looked he was filled with the Holy Ghost's Power; and the Spirit did so renew and change him into the image of Christ while he looked, that his very lace shone; and, under that transforming influence, Stephen went to glory above: the old man was put off for good and all. I come,
3. To consider the new man that is formed in the believer. and to treat of the holiness of him. By the new man I under stand the fruits of the Spirit; or the different graces which the Spirit, under his operations, produces or brings forth in the soul: these fruits are said to be born of the Spirit; as our Lord says, "That which is born of the Spirit, is spirit," John, iii. 6.
1. One thing that is born of the Spirit is light; and this light, wherever it shines in the heart, gives the saints the name of "Children of light and children of the day." Such, says Paul, shine as lights in the world, Phil. ii. 15. And God is the father of these lights, James, i. 17.
2. "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." This faith is of the operation of God, and therefore is said to be born of God, 1 John, v. 4.
3. Hope: "God hath begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Christ from the dead." God begets us by his word: "Of his own will begat he us, with the word of truth." And the word comes to the soul in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance, and raises an expectation of future glory. "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God;" and this is called "a good hope through grace,"
4. Love: "Every one that loveth is born of God," 1 John iv. 7. This love is the fulfilling of the new commandment that Christ gave us; and it is called a new one because it differs from the old, which says, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;" but this says," A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another," John, xiii. 34. Here the neighbour is changed for the brother; and not" as thyself," but," as I have loved you."
5. Mercies and comforts: God is called "the Father of mercies, and God of all comfort," 2 Cor. i.3. God, by his Spirit, produces every mercy in us; converting mercy, pardoning, preserving, and supporting, mercy; and every comfort that we enjoy.
6. Life: "He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOd the Lord belong the issues from death," Psalm, lxviii. 20. Under the quickening operation of God's Spirit we pass from death to life; we pass from the condemning sentence of law and conscience, to justification unto life, and that by faith, which faith is of the Spirit of God. This is "the offspring and issue" of God, which hang on the nail fastened in a sure place, Isa. xxii. 24.
7. God is called the Father of Glory: "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of revelation and wisdom, in the knowledge of him," Eph. i. 17. There is a glory that attends the word of the gospel, hence it is called the glorious gospel; and there is a glory that attends a work of grace in the heart also: "Upon all the glory there shall be a defence," Isaiah, iv. 5. And this glory beams forth with every renewal of that work; and which is enjoyed in all our exultations and glorious triumphs that we have in Christ Jesus. Put all those fruits of the Spirit together, and it will give you a little light into what the scripture calls the new man; and the reverse of all these is the old man. I have no doubt but some of you must remember to have heard these words out o! the common-prayer book of the church of England, mentioned in the baptismal service: "Grant that the old man may be so crucified in this child, that the new man may be raised up in him; that all things belonging to the flesh may be so buried, that all things belonging to the Spirit may live and grow in him." The few things which I have here selected out of the word of God, and set before you, are the things which belong to the Spirit, or what is called the new man; and there is true holiness in every grace of the Holy Spirit. Hence you read of the holiness of faith: "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost," Jude, 20. In short, Peter says the saints "are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ," 1 Peter. ii. 5. And every revival of the work of grace in us is called changing us from glory to glory. The fruits, or graces, of the Holy Spirit are holy; and hence the new man is called holy; take the apostle's account of him at large: "That ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt, according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind: and that you put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness," Eph. iv. 22?24.
I have now to shew that the greatest blessing in Adam's image, which was life, and which was lost, is now restored also, with the image of Christ, to us; and this is not a life depending, as Adam's was, upon our obedience, but upon the eternal purpose and decree of God; and it is a free girl: "The gift of God is eternal life." And it is secured to us by the oath of God, by the death of Christ, by a covenant of grace, by the word of God; and by the witness, seal, and indwelling of the Holy Spirit: and the Almighty being willing more abundantly to secure this most invaluable blessing to the heirs of promise, has connected it with every particular of Christ's image, to which we are predestinated. For instance,
1. It is connected with knowledge: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."
2. It is connected with righteousness: at justification we pass from death to life: hence you read of "justification unto life."
3. It is coupled with sanctification by the Spirit: "It is the Spirit that quickeneth." And the offering up of the Gentiles is accepted," being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."
4. It is joined with love: "And the Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, that thou mayest love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live."
5. The light of glory on the soul has life in it: "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren." And it is the same life that Adam had; but it was to come to the saints through a better representative, and be secured by a better covenant, established upon better promises, and to be secured by the perfect obedience of a better Adam. And it is a life in the favour of God, a life n Christ, lived on by faith, and realized to the soul by the life-giving energy of the Holy Ghost; and it is God's blessing, and an everlasting one. "Upon mount Zion God commanded the blessing, even life for evermore." I now proceed,
VI. and last, To shew that the grand appearance which the saints will make in heaven, and their eternal felicity there, will be the truth and the substance of what was typified and shadowed out to Adam in Paradise.
1. The third heaven, the residence of God and of Christ, and the holy angels, is called paradise: "I knew a man in Christ, above fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I cannot tell, or whether out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth); such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man (whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell; God knoweth); how that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words," 2 Cor. xii. 2?4. This glorious residence will be the receptacle of all the lovers of Christ; for he says, "Where I am, there shall also my servants be." And this appears to, be the place by the request granted to the prayer of the thief upon the cross: "And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shall thou be with me in paradise," Luke, xxiii. 42, 43.
2. Eden was the place where the tree of life grew, of which Adam might freely eat, for it was the tree of knowledge, and no other, that was forbidden. And we find the Saviour, when encouraging his poor tried children, promises to him that preveils in the fight of faith the same request: "He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches: to him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God," Rev. ii. 7.
3. The garden of Eden abounded with most delicious fruit. This appears in God's grant to Adam: "Of every tree thou mayest eat; but of the tree of knowledge thou shall not eat of it." And we read that," In the midst of the holy city, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month," Rev. xii. 2.
4. Adam had only one command to obey, in order to keep him in his happy possession, and in his right to the tree of life. And sure I am that "charity hopeth all things, beareth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things; and charity never faileth." He therefore that loves Christ and his saints, shall be admitted into this paradise; for they pass from death to life that love the brethren, love being the fulfilling of the law, and the blessed end of the gospel: "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city," Rev. xxii. 14.
5. Eden was noted for one of the most famous fountains or springs of water in all the world; it supplied no less than four very large rivers, and perhaps some of them the largest in the world. And there is a fountain in the paradise above that shall so supply the saints of God as to give them an eternal fullness: "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb, which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes," Rev. vii. 16, 17.
6. In Eden Adam was perfectly holy and happy, both in body and soul. He was not compassed about with impure thoughts, and a body of sin and death, as we are: "Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither doth corruption inherit incorruption," 1 Corinthians, xv. 50. "For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself, Phil. iii. 20, 21.
7. In Eden Adam enjoyed that life of God, which the Holy Spirit gave him when God breathed into his nostrils, and the Holy Spirit quickened him; and so in heaven: "But, if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you," Rom. viii. 11.
8. In Eden Adam bore the image of his great Creator. When he was sent forth into the world that image was gone. A sinful world and a corrupt image is all he gave to us: "The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. And, as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly," I Corinthians, xv. 47, 49. And in this blessed place and state will the image of Christ appear more stalking than ever it did in Adam. We shall awake with his likeness, and be satisfied therewith; for we shall see him as he is, and not be struck dead with the sight, for we shall be like him.
1. Now will our sonship appear plain, and never will any doubts more arise about it. It will be seen of all that we "are the children of God, being the children of the resurrections" Luke, xx. 36. Now also will perfect knowledge take place. We shall not peep by faith through a glass darkly as now, but see as we are seen, and know as we are known; for that which is in part shall be done away when that which is perfect is come.
Righteousness also shall now appear in all its glory and beauty: "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father for ever and ever."
Holiness also shall now appear conspicuous, and not be obscured with a mass of corruption and the vail of a tempting devil, as is now too often the lamentable case: "Blessed and holy are they that have part in the first resurrection, for on such the second death hath no power."
Love also, which now so often waxes cold, will, in this state, for ever burn, and for ever abound; for we shall be filled with all the fullness of God, and "God is love;" and so it is written, "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love," Eph. i. 4.
Joy also shall be no more damped and intermingled with bitterness, as in the present state: we "shall return with songs, and everlasting joy upon our heads," we shall obtain "joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."
Glory, too, shall for ever abide. Our bodies shall be fashioned like unto the glorious body of Christ, and shine in the light of the Lamb for ever and ever. This my beloved, is the prize and the joy that is set before us.
On Christmas-day I found myself very ill, and at night I went to bed so; and in my sleep I dreamed that I was by the side of a river, the water of which was remarkably clear, but very shallow; and, when I had fixed my eyes intently upon it, I beheld a great many fine fish swimming about in the water. There was somebody in company with me, to whom I spoke; but who it was I know not, for I saw no man; only I can remember talking to somebody, and I seemed to be very earnest to catch some of these fish; and I thought I would be as careful as possible how I handled them. I would, if I could, take them at each end, one hand at the head and the other at the tail, and hold them fast. And many very fine ones I caught, as I thought; and, as I took them out of the water, they did look so white and delicate upon the bellies of them, that I thought I never saw finer fish. And I remember that there stood some kind of vessel by me, into which I put them; nor do I remember that one got out of my hands. And, when I had cleared the water, I got not a few out of the mud, and was mightily pleased with my great success. But I awoke, and there was an end to my fishing. But it came into my mind what the Lord said to Peter," Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." And again, when our Lord compares the kingdom of God "unto a net that was cast into the sea, and it gathered of every kind, which, when it was full, they draw to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away," Matt. xiii. 47, 48. I likewise thought of Ezekiel's river, and the account of fishing in that, Ezek. xlvii.; for the conversion of sinners, and nothing else, is meant in all that account of fishing. The next morning I awoke a little before three o'clock, and, as I was turning many things over in my thoughts, the image of God, in which Adam was created, came into my mind, and I was led through the whole book of God in my meditations upon that subject. First, about what it was, and the loss of it, and of God's promise about the restoration of it; and my soul was most wonderfully meekened, humbled, and comforted, in me, while 1 was meditating upon these things; and it abode with me some time in the forenoon; but, on the Saturday afternoon, it was all gone, and I doubted at times whether it would ever come back again. But, knowing that God often takes things, thus premeditared on, away for a time, and sends his Spirit to bring them again to our remembrance when he intends we shall handle them, I told a friend of mine last night what had been my thoughts, and how gone, and that I believed they would all come again fresh to me this morning; and so they did; and, as I was about three hours meditating on them, so I have been much about three hours in delivering them; and they have, even every particular of them, been brought so exactly back to me and set before me, that I cannot recollect any one thing of moment, in my view of them, that has not been brought forth and set before you. And, as the dream the night before was about fishing, and the. next night's meditation was about the gospel, God grant that this may be of some use in God's hand, that not a few may be effectually taken. God grant it, for Christ's sake Amen.