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raise (as indeed it did) a general expectation of him, John ix. 19. But Simeon's faith was confirmed, by a particular revela. tion, ver, 26. That he should see Christ before he saw death, which could not but greatly encourage and raise his expectation to look out for him, whose coming would be the greatest confolation to the whole Ifrael of God. The consolation rapaxangis. The Spirit is frequently called in fcripture, topcex Antriss the Comforter : But Christ, in this place, is called maparansi, comfort, or confolation itself : The reason of both is given in John xvi. 14. " He shall take of mine and thew it unto you :" Where Chrift is said to be the matter, and the Spirit, the applier of true comfort to the people of God. Now this confolation is here expressed both with a singular emphasis (the confolation] intimating that there is nothing of consolation in any thing besides him; all other comforts compared with this, are not worth naining. And as it is emphatically expressed, fó it is also limited and bounded within the compass of God's Ifrael, (i. e.) true believers, stiled the Israel of God, whether Jews or Gentiles, Gal. vi. 16. From whence the point of doctrine is, Doct. That Jesus Christ is the only confolation of believers, and
of none befides them. So speaks the apostle, Phil. iii. 3. “For we are the circum“ cifion, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ
Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Those that worShip God in the Spirit are sincere believers ; to such fincere believers, Christ is consolation, our rejoicing is in Christ Jefus : And they have no consolation in any thing beside him ; nothing in the world can give them comfort without Christ, We have no confidence in the Aesh. The gospel is glad tidings of great joy ; but that which makes it to be fo, is Jesus Christ, whom it imparts and reveals to us, Luke ii. 10, 11. In the opening of this comfortable point, four things must be spoken to, for the right ftating the method of our discourse, viz.
1. What is meant by consolation.
4. How it comes to pass, that any believer should be dejected, since Christ is confolation to all believers.
The first thing to be opened, is the nature of confolation, which is nothing else but the cheariness of a man's spirit, whereby he is upheld, and fortified against all evils felt, or feared. Consolation is to the foul, what healih is to the body after wafiing sickness; or the reviving spring, to the earth, after a long and hard winter. And there are three forts of consolation, or
comfort, fuitable to the disposition and temper of the mind;
Spiritual comfort is the refreshment, peace, and joy, gracious souls have in Christ, by the exercise of faith, hope, and other graces, Rom. v. 2. And this only deserves the name of true fom, lid confolation : To which four things are required.
First, That the matter thereof be some spiritual, eminent, and durable good ; else our consolation in it will be but as the crackling of thorns under a pot, a sudden blaze, quickly extinct with the failing matter of it. Christ only gives the matter of folid durable confolation; the righteousness of Christ, the pardon of fia, the favour of God, the hopes of glory, are the subftantial materials of a believer's consolation, Rom. v. 2. Matth. ix. 2. Psal. iv. 6, 7. 2 Pet. i. 8. Things are as their foundati
Secondly, Interest and propriety in these comfortable things, are requisite to our confolation by them ; Luke i. 47. “My fpi“ rit rejoiceth in God my Saviour." It is no confolation to him that is hungry, to see a feast; to him that is
to see a treasure ; if the one may not taste, or the other partake thereof.
Thirdly, Knowledge, and evidence of intereft, in fome degree, is requisice, to actual consolation, though without it a man may be in the state of confolation ; for that which appears not, is (in poiot of actual comfort) as if it were not.
Fourthly, In order hereunto, the work of the Spirit upon our hearts is requisite, both to give, and clear our interest in Christ, and the promises : And both these ways he is the Comforter, " The fruit of the Spirit is joy,” Gal. v. 22. And thus briefly of the nature of confolation.
Secondly, Next I will shew you that Christ, and he only, is matter of consolation to believers : which will demonstratively appear by this argument.
Arg. He that brings to their souls all that is comfortable, and
removes from their souls all that is uncomfortable, must deeds be the only confolation of believers.
But Jefus Christ brings to their souls all that is comfortable, and reinoves from their souls all that is uncomfortable.
Therefore Christ only is the confolation of believers.
First, Jesus Christ brings whatsoever is comfortable to the fouls of believers. Is pardon comfortable to a person condem. Ded? Nothing can be matter of greater comfort in this world, Why, this Christ brings to all believers, Jer. xxiii. 6. “And this “" is the name whereby he fhall be called, the Lord our righte: “ ousness.” This cannot but give strong consolation ; righte: ousness is the foundation of peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost
, Rom. xiv. 17.." The work of righteousoefs shall be peace; and " the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance for ever," Isa. xxxii. 17. Come to a dejected soul, labouring ander the burden of guilt, and say, cheer up, I bring you good tidings, there is such an estate befallen you, or such a troublesome business comfortaby ended for you; alas ! this will not reach the heart: If you can bring me (faith he) good news from heaven, that my fms are forgiven, and God reconciled, how foon should I be comforted! And therefore (as one well obferves this was the usual receipt with which Chrift cured the souls of men and women, when he was here on earth ; Son or daughter," be " of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee." Aild, indeed, it is as ealy to separate light and warmth from the beams of the fun, as cheeriness and comfort from the voice of pardon.
Are the hopes and expectations of heaven and glory comfort: able! Yes fure, nothing is comfortable if this be not; Rom. y. 2." We rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Now, Christ brings to the fouls of men all the folid groands, and foundations - upon which they build their expectations of glory, Col. i. 27. " Which is Chrift, in, you, the hope of glory." Name any thing else that is folid matter of comfort to the souls of men, and the grounds thereof will be found in Christ, and in none but Chrift: as might easily be demonstrated by the enumeration of multitudes of particular instances, which I cannot dow infift upon.
Secondly, Jesus Chrill removes from believers whatever is uncomfortable; therein relieving them against all the matters
of their affliction and forrow. As namely,
Firft, is fin a burden and matter of trouble, to believers'? Christ, and none but Christ, removes that burden, Rom. vii. 24, 25. Owretched man that I am! (faith sin-burdened Paul) “ who will deliver me from the body of this death ? 'I thank
"God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The fatisfaction of his blood, Eph. V. 2. The fanétification of his Spirit, John i. 5, 6. His perfect deliverance of his people from the very being of lin at last
, Eph. v. 26, 27. This relieves at present, and removes at last the inátter and ground of all their troubles and forrows for fin.
Secondly, Do the temptations of fatan burden believers ? O yes by reason of temptations ; they go in trouble and heaviness of Ipirit. Temptation is an enemy under the walls ; temptation greatly endangers, and therefore cannot but gready afflict the fouls of believers ; but Christ brings the only matter of relief against temptations. The intercession of Christ is a singular relief at present, Luke xxii. 32.." But I have prayed for thee, that thy k faith fail Dot.” And the promises of Christ are a full relief for the future; “ The God of peace shall shortly tread fatan * under your feet,” Rom. xvi. 20.
Thirdly, Is fpiritual defertion, and the hiding of God's face, matter of affliction and casting down to believers ? Yes, yes, it distresses their hearts; nothing can comfort them ; “Thou hideft
thy face, and I was troubled,” Pfal. xxx. 17. Outward afflicti. ons do but break the skin, this touches the quick; they like rain fall.only upon the tiles, this soaks. in to the house; but Chrift brings to believers substantial matter of consolation against the troubles of defertion : He himself was deserted of God for a time, that they might not be deferted for ever. In him also the re. lieving promiles are made to believers, that notwithstanding God may detert them for a time, yet the union betwixt him and them shall never be diffolved, Heb. xiii. 4. Jer. xxxii. 40. Though he forsake them for a moment, in respect of evidenced favour, yet he will return again and comfort them, Isa. liv. 7. Though fatan pull hard, yet he will never be “ able to pluck them out of los bis Father's hand,” John X. 20. Oh what relief is this ! What coololation is Christ to a deserted believer.
Pourthly, Are outward afflictions matter of dejection and trouble? Alas, who finds them not to be so ? How do our hearts fail and our spirits Sink under the many finarting rods of God upon us ? But our relief and consolation under them all is in Christ Jesus ; for the rod that affliéts us is in the hand of Christ that loveth us, Rev. ii, 29, "Whom I love, I rebuke " and chalten." His design in affiliction is our profit, Heb. xii, 10. That design of his for our good shall certainly be accomplished, Rom. viii. 28. And after that no more afflictions for ever, Rev. xxi. 3, 4. “God hall wipe away all tears from their eyes." so that upon the whole, two things are most evident.
First, Nothing can comfort the soul without Christ! he is the foul that animates all comforts, they would be dead things with: put him.' Temporal enjoyments, riches, honours, health, relations, yield not a drop of trụe comfort without Christ, Spiritua! enjoyments, minifters, ordinances, promises, are fountains sealed and springs shut up; till Christ open them, a man may go comfortless in the midst of them all.
Secondly, No troubles, forrows, or afflictions cap deject or Siok the soul that Christ comforteth, 2 Cor. vi, 20. “ As lorrow “ ful, yet always rejoicing," A believer may walk with a heart full of comfort amidit all the troubles of this world : Chrilt makes the darkness of troubles to be light round about his people. So that the conclusion stands firm, and never to be shaken, that Christ, and Christ only, is the confolation of believers; which was the thing to be proved.
In the third place, I am to shew you that believers, and pone but believers, can have consolation in Christ; which will convincingly appear from the consideration of those things which we laid down before as the requisites to all true spiritual consola tion. For
First, No unbeliever hath the materials, out of which spiritual comfort is made, which (as I there told you) must be some folid
, spiritual and eterpal good, as Christ and the covenant are: what do unregenerate mep rejoice in, but trifles and mere vanities, ia a thing of nought? Amos vi. 13. See how their mirth is described in Job xxi. 12, They take their timbrel and harp, and re: “ joice at the sound of the organ,” He doth not fay, they take the Bible, turn to the promifes, and rejoice in Christ and the Covenant; 'is not the melody of a good conscience, the joy of the holy Ghost; no, no, they have no acquaintance with fuch music as that; but the rejoicing of believers is in those things
, 2 Cor. i. 12. and this is well-built confolation, which reaches the heart.
Secondly, I told you, that propriety and interest in Christ and the promises, are required to all fpiritual confolation : but no ud believer hath any title or interest in Christ and the promises
, and so they can signify nothing to him in point of comfort. 'Tis not another man's money, but my own, that must feed, cloth and comfort me; nor is it another man's Christ, but my own Chrift, that must juftify, save and comfort my soul.
Thirdly, You were told, that evidence of a man's peace reconciliation with God, is necessary to his actual consolation, which no unbeliever can possibly have; he hath neither grace within him to make him a qualified subject of any special pro