« AnteriorContinuar »
mand the evil spirit to be dumb; then doth he wipe away tears from the conscience, and refresh it with living waters", even with the sweet communion of his Spirit, and with the abundance of his graces.
Lastly, He keepeth a continual watch over us by his spiritual presence and protection. As Jacob testified his great care for the good of Laban”, that “the drought consumed him by day, and the frost by night, and that sleep departed from his eyes;” so doth the Lord commend his care towards the church, in that he is the keeper or watchman of Israel, which doth neither slumber nor sleep. His presence is with his people to guide them in their pilgrimage, and unto which they have daily recourse for comfort and establishment. In that great tempest when Christ was asleep in the ship, liis disciples awaked him and expostulated with him,
Master, carest thou not that we perish ?a” But when he had rebuked the wind and the sea, he then rebuked them likewise : he had another storm of fear and unbelief to calm in their hearts, who could not see him in his providence watching over them, when his body slept.
The grounds of this great care, which Christ in his gospel testifieth towards his church, are these: First, He is our kinsman, there is affinity in blood, and therefore a natural care and tenderness in affection. We know, amongst the Jews, when a woman had buried a husband without fruit of his body, the next of the kindred was to take care of her, and to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance. And if any man had waxen poor, and sold any of his possession, the nearest kinsman was to have the first option in the recovery and redemption of it. And from hence the apostle argueth to prove the mercifulness and fidelity of Christ, in 'sanctifying' or bringing many sons unto glory' (for I take those phrases to be, in that place, d equivalent), because he was not “ ashamed to call us brethren, but was made in all things like unto us." And we may observe that, in the Scripture, he hath almost all the relations of consanguinity, to note that his care is universal, and of all sorts.--He is a
u Rev. vij. 17.
x Gen. xxxi. 40. y Psal. xi. 42.
z Exod. xxxiii. 14.
c. Levit. xxv. 25.
father;—“ Behold, I and the children which thou hast given me e;"—and the care of a father is to govern, to nourish, to instruct, to lay up for his children. He is as a mother;f he carries his young ones in his bosom 8 he gathereth them as a hen her chickens", he milketh unto them out of the breasts of consolation. And thus he hath a care of indulgence and compassion.—He is a brother; “Go to any brethren, and say unto them, -I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and unto my God, and your God k.” And the care of a brother is to counsel, advise, and comfort. “A brother is born for adversity!.”—Lastly, He is a husband : Ye are married to him who is raised from the dead m, and that word compriseth all care, to love," to cherish, to instruct, to maintain, to protect, to compassionate, to adorn, to communicate both his secrets and himself. A father may maintain his child, but he cannot suckle it; a mother may give it a breast, but she cannot ordinarily provide it a portion; a brother can give counsel, but he cannot give himself unto his brother: a husband may comfort his wife, but it becomes him not to correct her. There is no degree of nearness that hath power enough to answer all the offices of love, but, in one point or other, it will be defective. Therefore Christ is set forth unto us under all relations of blood and unity; to note, that there can be no case or condition of the church be supposed, wherein the care of Christ shall be impotent or deficient towards it, wherein he is not able to correct, to nourish, to instruct, to counsel, to comfort, to provide for it.
Secondly, He is our companion in sufferings. He bimself suffered, and was tempted; and this the apostleo maketh a main ground of his care towards us, and of our confidence in him: “We have not a high Priest which cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities, but was, in all points, tempted as we are, only without sin ; and therefore he is able to succour those that are tempted, and to take compassion on those that are out of the way, because he was compassed with such infirmities, as were much less grievous than the weight of sin.' Thirdly, He is our head, and so is one with us in a nearer relation than that of affinity, in a relation of unity: for he and his members make but one Christ. And being head, he is the seat of care, and the fountain of influences into the rest of the body. All the wisdom, spirit, senses, which are in the head, are there placed as in a watch-tower, or councilchamber, to consult and provide for the good of the whole: the eye seeth, the ear heareth, the tongue speaketh, the fancy worketh, the memory retaineth for the welfare of the other members, and they have all the same care one for another P.'
e Isai. viii. 18.
f Isai. xlix. 15. & Isai. xl. 11.
h Matt. xxiii. 37.
m Rom. vii, 4. cause.
Fourthly, He is our advocate ?, and mediator; he is the only practiser in the court of Heaven, and therefore he must needs be full of the businesses of his church. It is his office to despatch the affairs of those that come unto him, and crave his favour and intercession to debate their causes; and he is both faithful' and merciful in his place, and, besides, furnished with such anmeasurable unction of spirit, and vast abilities to transact all the businesses of his church, that whosoever cometh unto him for his counsel and intercession, “ be will in nowise cast them out," or refuse their
And this is one great assurance we may take comfort in,-that be ur matters never so foul and inexcusable in themselves, yet the very entertaining of him of our counsel, and the leaning upon his wisdom, power, fidelity, and mercy, to expedite our businesses, to compassionate our estate, and to rescue us from our own demerits, doth, as it were, alter the property of the cause, and produce a clean contrary issue to that, which the evidence of the thing in trial, would, of itself, have created. And as we may observe, that men of extraordinary abilities in the law, delight to wrestle with some difficult husiness, and to show their learn. ing in clearing matters of greatest intricacy and perplexity before; so doth Christ esteem himself most honoured, and the virtue and wisdom of his cross magnified, when, in cases of sorest extreusity, of most hideous guilt, of most black and uncomfortable darkness of soul, which pose not only the presumptions, but the bope, faith, conjectures, thoughts, contrivances which the hearts of men can, even in wishes, make to themselves for mercy, they do yet trust him “whose thoughts are infinitely above their thoughts, and whose ways above their ways!.”—“Who is there among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God u.” When the soul can go unto Christ with such complaints and acknowledgments as these ; “ Lord, when I examine my cause by mine own conscience, and judgement of it, I cannot but give it over as utterly desperate, and beyond cure: my bones are dried, my hope is cut off, I am utterly lost; my sins, and my sorrows are so heavy, that they have broken my spirit all to pieces, and there is no sound part in me: but, Lord, I believe thou knowest a way to make dead bones live "; that thy thoughts and ways are above mine ; that thou knowest thine own thoughts of peace and mercy*, though I cannot comprehend them; that thy riches are unsearchable ; that thy love is above human knowledge; that thy peace passeth all created understanding'; that though I am the greatest of all sinners, and feel enough in myself to sink me as low as Judas into Hell, yet thou hast not left me without patterns of all-suffering, of thy royal power in enduring, and in forgiving sins. And now, Lord, though thou afford me no light, though thou beset me with terrors, though thou make me to possess the sins of my youth,-yet I still desire to fear thy name, to walk in thy way, to wait upon thy counsel. I know there is not, in men or angels, so much wisdom, compassion, or fidelity as in thee; and therefore if I must perish, I will perish at thy feet; I will starve under thy table ; I will be turned away and rejected by thee, who has promised to cast away none that come unto thee. I have tried all ways, and I here resolve to rest, and to look no farther. Thou that hast kept such a singer as I am, out of Hell thus long, canst, by the same power, keep me out for ever; upon thy wisdom and compassion (who canst make dried bones to flourish like a herb, and broken bones to rejoice and sing,) I cast the whole weight of my guilty spirit; into thy bosom I empty all the fears, cares, and requests of my distracted and sinking soul.”—I
PI Cor. xii. 23.
91 John ii. 2.
rHcb. iv. 3.
John vi. 37.
t Isai. lv. 8. y Eph. iii. 8, 19. 1 Pet. v. 7.
u Isai. 1. 10.
21 Tim. i. 16.
w Ezek. xxxvii. 3.
a Isai. Ixvi. 14.
* Jer. xxix. 11.
b Psalm li. 8.
say, when a man can thus pour out himself unto Christ, he esteemeth the price and power of his blood most highly honoured when men believe in him against reason and above hope, and beyond the experience or apprehensions they have of mercy: for Christ loveth to show the greatness of his skill in the salvation of a Manasseh, a Mary Magdalen, a crucified thief, a persecutor, and injurious blasphemer, in giving life unto them that nailed him to his cross :
:--the more desperate the disease, the more honourable the cure.
Fifthly, He is our purchaser, our proprietary. We belong unto him by grant from the Father, “ Thine they were, and thou gavest them unto me":"--and by payment from him unto the Father, “ Ye are bought with a priced.” There is no good that concerns the church, that he hath not fully paid for with his own precious blood : and Christ will not die in vain, he will take order for the accomplishing of that redemption, which himself hath merited. And this is the greatest argunent of his care and fidelity, that he is not as a servant, but a lord, and his care is over his own house. An ordinary advocate is faithful only 'ratione officii,' because the duty of his office requireth it; but the businesses which he manageth, come not close unto his heart, because he hath no personal interest in them: but Christ is faithful, not as Moses, .or a servant only, but ratione dominii,' as Lord in his own house: so that the affairs of the church concern him in as near a right, as they concern the church herself. So that, in his office of intercession, he pleadeth his own causes with his Father; and, in the miscarriages of them, himself should lose that which was infinitely more precious, than any thing in the world besides,-even the price and merit of his own blood. These are the grounds of the great care of Christ towards his people.
And from hence we should learn faith and depevdence on Christ in all our necessities, because we are under the protection and provision of him who careth for us, and is able to help us. A right judgement of God in Christ, and in his gospel of salvation, will wonderfully strengthen the faith of men. Paul was not ashamed of persecutions", because he knew whom he had believed; he doubted neither of his
c John xvii. 6.
al Cor, vi, 20.
. Heb. iii. 6.
f2 Tim. i. 12.