« ElőzőTovább »
comforter, by working our reconciliation with God; and upon the Spirit as another comforter,' testifying and applying the same unto our souls. And the continual supply and assistance of this Spirit is the only comfort, the church hath against the dominion and growth of sin. For though the motions of lust which are in our members, are so close, so working, so full of vigour and life, that we can see no power nor probabilities of prevailing against them; yet we know Christ hath a greater fulness of Spirit than we can have of sin and it is the great promise of the new covenant, that "God will put his Spirit into us, and thereby save us from all our uncleannesses." For though we be full of sin, and have but a seed, a sparkle of the Spirit put into us, and upheld and fed by further, though small, supplies, yet that little is stronger than legions of lust; as a little salt or leaven seasoneth a great lump, or a few drops of spirits strengthen a whole glass-ful of water. Therefore the Spirit is called a Spirit of judgment and of burning,' because, as one judge is able to condemn a thousand prisoners, and a little fire to consume abundance of dross; so the Spirit of God in and present with us, though received and supplied but in measure, though but a smoking and suppressed fire, shall yet break forth in victory and judgment against all that resist it. In us indeed there is nothing that feeds, but only that which resists and quencheth it. But this is the wonderful virtue of the Spirit of Christ in his members, that it nourisheth itself. Therefore sometimes the Spirit is called fire ; and sometimes oil, to note that the Spirit is nutriment unto itself; that grace which we have received already, is preserved and excited by new supplies of the same grace. Which supplies we are sure shall be given to all that ask them, by the virtue of Christ's prayer', by the virtue of his and his Father's promises; and by the virtue of that office which he still bears, which is to be the head, or vital principle of all holiness and grace unto the church. And all these are permanent things, and therefore the virtue of them abideth, their effects are never totally interrupted.
Fifthly and lastly, This sitting of Christ at the right hand of God, noteth his intercession in the behalf of the whole
o Ezek. xxxvi. 27, 29. ii. 27.
p Isa. iv. 4. John xiv. 16.
Mat. iii. 11.
q Heb. i. 9. 1 John Acts i. 4.
church, and each member thereof. "Who is he that condemneth?" saith the apostle; "It is Christ that is dead, yea rather that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." But of this doctrine I shall speak more fitly in the fourth verse, it being a great part of the priesthood of Christ.
I now proceed to the last thing in this first verse, the continuance and victory of Christ's kingdom, in these words, "until I make thy foes thy footstool;" wherein every word is full of weight. For though ordinarily subdivisions of holy Scripture, and crumbling of the bread of life, be rather a losing than expounding of it; yet in such parts of it as were of purpose intended for models and summaries of fundamental doctrine, (of which sort, this psalm is one of the fullest and briefest in the whole Scripture,) as in little maps of large countries, there is no word whereupon some point of weighty consequence may not depend. Here then is considerable the term of duration, or measure of Christ's kingdom; until. The author of subduing Christ's enemies under him; I, the Lord. The manner thereof ponam,' and 'ponam scabellum ;' put thy foes as a stool under thy feet. Victory is a relating word, and presupposeth enemies, and they are expressed in the text. I will but touch that particular, because I have handled it more largely upon another Scripture; and their enmity is here not described, but only presupposed. It shows itself against Christ in all the offices of his mediation. There is enmity against him as a prophet:enmity against his truth:-in opinion, by adulterating it with human mixtures and superinducements, teaching for doctrines the traditions of men :-in affection, by wishing many divine truths were razed out of the Scriptures, as being manifestly contrary to those pleasures which they love rather than God:-in conversation, by keeping down the truth in unrighteousness, and in those things which they know, as brute beasts, corrupting themselves. Enmity against his teaching, by quenching the motions, and resisting the evidence of his Spirit in the word, refusing to hear his voice, and rejecting the counsel of God against themselves. There is enmity against him as a priest, by undervaluing his per
Rom. viii. 34.
son, suffering, righteousness, or merits. And as a king; enmity to his worship, by profaneness neglecting it, by idolatry communicating it, by superstition corrupting it. Enmity to his ways and service, by ungrounded prejudices, misjudging them as grievous, unprofitable, or unequal ways; and, by wilful disobedience, forsaking them to walk in the ways of our own heart.
And this is a point which men should labour to try themselves in; for the enemies of Christ are not only out of the church, but in the midst where his kingdom is set up, verse 2." And indeed by how much the more dangerous it is, by so much the more subtle will Satan and a sinful heart be to deceive itself therein; for this is a certain truth, that men may profess and falsely believe that they love the Lord Jesus,' and yet be as real enemies unto his person and kingdom, as the Jews that accused, and the heathen that crucified him. "He was set up for a sign to be spoken against, for a rock of offence, and a stone of stumbling, which the very builders themselves would reject.”—False brethren amongst the Philippians there were, who professed the name of Christians; and yet, by their sensual walking and worldly-mindedness, declared themselves to be enemies to the cross of Christ. To honour the bodies of the saints departed with beautiful sepulchres, is in itself a testimonial of sincere love and inward estimation of their persons and graces; and therefore the Holy Ghost hath recorded it for the perpetual honour of Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus, that "they embalmed the body of Jesus, and laid it in a new sepulchre :"-yet our Saviour pronounceth "a woe against the Scribes and Pharisees, because they build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous." The fault was not in the fact itself; but in the hypocrisy of the heart, in the incongruity of their other practices, and in that damned protection, which, by this plausible pretext of honour to the prophets, they laboured to gain their persons, and appropriation to their attempts against Christ, in the minds of the people, who yet ordinarily esteemed Christ (whom they persecuted) a prophet sent from God. They profess, "If we had been in the days of
u Isa. viii. 14.
* Phil. iii. 18, 19. y John xix. 38, 41. z Matth. xxiii. 29.
our fathers, we would not have done as they did: "—but our Saviour reproves this hypocritical persuasion, by showing first, that it was no strange thing with them to persecute prophets, but a national and hereditary sin, and therefore they had no reason to boast of their descent (as their manner was "), or to think that God's mercies were entailed unto them, since, by their own confession, they were the posterity of those that had killed the prophets;' and secondly, that they did fulfil the measure of their fathers ;'—that is, that which their fathers had been long and leisurely a-doing, they now did altogether in one blow: For it was the same Christ whom they persecuted in his person, and their fathers in his prophets; and therefore, though they seemed to honour and revive the memory of those holy martyrs, yet upon them should light the guilt of all the righteous blood which had ever been shed in the land, inasmuch as their malice was directed against that fulness, of which all the prophets had but a measure. If, by several enemies, a man be severally mangled, one cuts off a foot, another a hand, another an arm, and after all this, there comes one who cuts off the head, and yet bestows some honourable ceremonies upon those members which the rest had abused; he shall justly suffer, as if he had slain a whole man, insomuch as his malice did eminently contain in it the degrees of all the rest; and that pretended honour shall be so far from compensating the injury, that it shall add thereunto an aggravation of base hypocrisy. Thus, as the Jews, when they thought they did honour and admire the prophets, did yet harbour in their breasts that very root of fury, and had that self-same constitution of soul which was in their forefathers who shed their blood;-so in our days, men may say and think that they love Christ, and court him with much outside and empty service, may boast that if they had lived in the days of those unthankful Jews, they would not have partaken with them in so execrable a murder ;-and yet interpretatively, and at second hand, show the very same root of bitterness, and rancorous constitution of heart against him in his spirit and ordinances, which was in those men when they cried, "Away with him, crucify him, crucify him."
a Luke iii. 8. John viii. 39.
Many grounds there are of this grand mispersuasion of the heart in its love to Christ, which I will but touch upon. The first is the general acceptation and continuance, which the gospel of Christ receiveth amongst the princes of this world, who, in Christian commonwealths, do, both by their own voluntary and professed subjection, and by the vigour of their public laws, establish the same. Now this is most certain, that, as in all other sciences there cannot be transitus à genere in genus,' the principles of one will not serve to beget the conclusions of another;-so here especially, if a spiritual assent and affection be grounded upon no other than human inducements, it is most undoubtedly spurious and illegitimate. That reason which the Pharisees used to dissuade men from believing in Christ, "Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed on him?" is one of the principal arguments which many men have now why they do believe him, because the rulers, whose examples and laws they observe more upon trust than trial, do lead them thereunto: and therefore we find amongst the Jews, that those very men, who, when the government of the whole twelve tribes was one, did all consent in a unity of religion,-upon the distraction of the kingdom under Jeroboam, were presently likewise divided in their observance of God's worship; and they who, before, were zealous for the Temple at Jerusalem, were, after, as superstitious for Dan and Bethel. The prophet giveth the reason of it, "They willingly walked after the commandment," namely of Jeroboam: no sooner did the prince interpose his authority, but the people were willing to pin their opinions and practices upon his word. "If Omri make statutes, and Ahab confirm idolatrous counsels by his own practices," the prophet shows, how forward the people are to walk in them ". Therefore it is that our Saviour saith of the best sort of wicked men, "those who with gladness" (and that is ever a symptom of love)" received the gospel," that yet, in time of persecution, they were offended and fell away. To note unto us, that when Christ is forsaken because of persecution, the imaginary love which was bestowed upon him before, was certainly supported by no other ground than that which is con
b John vii. 48.
c Hos. v. 11. d Micah vi. 16.
e Matth. xiii. 21.