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and death. 8. It is the sight of the mind that looks into the worth, use, and propriety of any thing presented. The eye can see a thing, but not the worth of it; a beast looks on gold as well as a man, but the sight and knowledge of the worth of it is by the internal light of the mind; so the eye can see a thing but not the use of it; a child looks on a tool in the hand of a workman, but the sight and knowledge of the use of it, is only by a man of reason that hath internal light to judge of it: and so the eye can see a thing, but not the propriety of it; a beast looks on his pasture, but he likes it not because it is his, but because it is a pasture and well furnished. Now, we know that the worth, and use, and propriety of a thing, are the very cream of the things themselves, and this the eye of the mind conveys, and not the eye of the body. It is said of Joseph, that "he saw his brethren, and knew them, but they knew not him," Gen. 42:7, 8. This was the reason why Joseph was so exceedingly taken at the sight of his brethren, that his bowels moved with joy, and a kind of compassion towards them; but they were before him as common strangers; though they saw Joseph their brother a prince, yet they were taken no more with the sight of him, than of any other man, because they knew him not.
Again, this mental looking, is either notional and theoretical, or practical and experimental, the first we call barely the look of our minds; it is an enlightening of our understandings with some measure of speculative sight, in spiritual and heavenly mysteries. The second we call the look of our minds and hearts, whereby we not only see spiritual things, but we are affected with them: we desire, love, believe, joy and embrace them. To this purpose is that rule, "That words of knowledge do sometimes signify the affections in the heart, and the effects thereof in our lives." And this was the look which Paul longed for, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection," Phil. 3:10. i. e. That he might have experience of that power, that it might so communicate itself unto him, as to work upon him to all the ends of it. And this was the look that Bernard preferred above all looks. "In reading of books, (saith he) let us not so much look for science, as savoriness of truth upon our hearts." "This I pray (saith the apostle) that your love may abound yet more and 'more, in knowledge and in all judgment," Phil. 1:9. i. e. in knowledge and feeling. And certainly this feeling, this experimental looking on Jesus, is that my text aims at; it is not a swimming knowledge of Christ, but an hearty feeling of Christ's inward workings; it is not heady notions of Christ, but hearty motions towards Christ, that are implied in this inward looking.
2. For the object; you must look on Jesus. It is the blessedest object that the eye of the mind can possibly fix upon; of all the objects under heaven Jesus hath the pre-eminence in perfection, and he should have the pre-eminence in our meditation. It is he that will make us most happy when we possess him, and we cannot but be joyful to look upon him, especially when looking is a degree of possessing Jesus, for the name signifies Saviour. It is an Hebrew name; the Greeks borrowed it from the Hebrews, the Latins from the Greeks, and all other languages from the Latins. It is used five hundred times in Paul's epistles, saith Genebrard. It comes from the Hebrew word Jehoshua, or Joshua, which in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah (written after the Babylonian captivity,) is Jeshua, and so is our Saviour's name always written in the Syriac translation of the New Testament. This name Jesus was given to Christ the Son of God by his Father, and brought from heaven by an angel, first
to Mary, then to Joseph. And on the day when he was circumcised (as the manner was,) his name was given him by his parents, as it was commanded from the Lord, by the angel Gabriel, Luke 1: 26. 31. Not to stand on the name, for the matter it includes both his offices and his nature; he is the alone Saviour of a man, "For there is none other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved," Acts 4:12. And he is a perfect and absolute Saviour; "He is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them," Heb. 7:25. I will not deny, but that the work of salvation is common to all the three persons of the trinity; it is a known rule, "All outward actions are equally common to the three persons:" for as they are all one in nature and will, so must they be also one in operation; the Father saveth, the Son saveth, and the Holy Ghost saveth; yet we must distinguish them in the manner of saving. The Father saveth by the Son, the Son saveth by paying the ransom and price of our salvation, the Holy Ghost saveth by a particular applying of that ransom unto men. Now, whereas the Son pays the price of our redemption, and not the Father, not the Holy Ghost; therefore, in this special respect, he is called our Saviour, our Jesus, and none but he.
This objection, though contained in a word, is very comprehensive: herein is set forth to our view the offices of Christ, the two natures of Christ, the qualities of Christ, the excellencies of Christ. O what variety of sweet matter is in Jesus? He hath in him "all the powders of the merchants," Sol. Song 3:6. An holy soul cannot tire itself in viewing Jesus; we know one thing tires quickly, unless that one be all; which so is Christ, and none else, "He is all and in all," Col. 3:11. All belonging to being, and all belonging to well-being in things below Jesus, some have this excellency, and some have that, but none have all; and this withers contemplation at the root. Contemplation is soul-recreation, and recreation is kept up by variety; but O what variety is in Jesus? Variety of time, "He is Alpha and Omega;" variety of beauty, "He is white and ruddy;" variety of quality, he is a lion and a lamb, a servant and a son; variety of the excellency in the world, he is man and God. O where shall we begin in this view of Jesus? "Who shall declare his generation?" Isa. 53:8. "Or who shall count and reckon his age?" All the evangelists exhibit unto us the Saviour, but every one of them in his particular method. Mark describes not at all the genealogy of Jesus, but begins his history at his baptism. Matthew searcheth out his original from Abraham. Luke follows it backwards as far as Adam. John passeth farther upwards, even to the eternal generation of this " Word that was made flesh." So they led us to Jesus, mounting up four several steps: in the one, we see him only among the men of his own time; in the second, he is seen in the tent of Abraham; in the third he is yet higher, to wit, in Adam; and finally, having traversed all ages, through so many generations, we come to contemplate him in the beginning, in the bosom of the Father, in that eternity in which he was with God before all worlds. And there let us begin, still looking unto Jesus, as he carries on the great work of our salvation from first to last, from everlasting to everlasting.
SECT. II. The main doctrine and confirmation of it: But for the foundation of our building, take this note.
Doct. 2. Inward experimental looking unto Jesus, such as stirs up affections in the heart, and the effects thereof in our life; it is an ordinance of Christ; a choice, a high gospel-ordinance.
Or thus, Inward experimental knowing, considering, desiring, hoping, believing, loving, joying, calling on Jesus, and conforming to Jesus; it is a complicate, folded, compounded ordinance of Jesus.
I need not so much to explain the point; you see here is an ordinance, or a gospel duty held forth. Many other duties we have elsewhere described, but this we have kept for this place, and the rather for that, this is a choice duty, a compound duty, a high gospel-ordinance. No question, but watchfulness, self-trial, self-denial, experiences, evidences, meditation, life of faith, &c. dwell in their place and order; yet as oars in a boat, (though it be carried with the tide) may help it to go faster. It is Jesus lifted up, (as Moses lifted up the serpent) which strikes more soundly into the beholder, than any other way. Looking unto Jesus is that great ordinance appointed by God for our most special good. How many souls have busied themselves in the use of other means? And though, in them, Christ hath communicated some virtue to them; yet, because they did not trade more with him, they had little in comparison. Such a one, as deals immediately with Christ, will do more in a day, than another in a year! and therefore I call it a choice, a complete, a complicate, a high gospel-ordinance. Now what this ordinance is, the text tells you, it is a looking unto Jesus.
1. Jesus is the object, and Jesus is Jesus, as he is our Saviour, as he hath negotiated, or shall yet negotiate, in the great business of our salvation. I ground this on all the texts jointly, as on Isa. 45:22. Isa. 45:1. Micah 7:7. Zech. 12:10. Numb. 21:8. John 3:15. Heb. 12:2. Phil. 3:20. 2 Cor. 3:18. Matth. 1:21, &c. 2. Looking unto, is the act: but how? It is such a look as includes all these acts, knowing, considering, desiring, hoping, believing, loving, joying, enjoying of Jesus, and conforming to Jesus. It is such a look as stirs up our affections in the heart, and the effects thereof in our life. It is such a look, as leaves a quickening and enlivening upon the spirit. It is such a look as works us into warm affection, raised resolution, an holy and upright conversation. Briefly, it is an inward experimental looking unto Jesus.
For confirmation of the point; this was the Lord's charge to the Gentiles of old, "Look unto me, and ye shall be saved, all the ends of the earth. And I said, Behold me, behold me, unto a nation that was not called by my name," Isa. 45:24. 65:1. And according to this command was their practice. "Mine eyes are ever towards the Lord, (saith David) And they looked unto him and were lightened, and their faces were not ashamed," Psal. 25:15. 34:5. Thus in the gospel after this command, Looking unto Jesus, it follows, "Consider him that hath endured such contradiction of sinners against himself," Heb. 12:3. And according to this command is the practice of gospel-believers. "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. 3: 18. Instead of the veil of Mosaical figures, God hath now given to his church the clear glass of the gospel, and hence all believers under the gospel do, by contemplative faith, behold Christ, together with the glorious light of his mercy, truth, goodness, and the rest of his divine attributes; and by means thereof they are made like unto him, in the glory of holiness, and in newness of life.
The reasons why we are thus to look unto Jesus, will be as so many motives, which we shall reserve to an use of exhortation: but the reasons why this looking unto Jesus, is, 1. An ordinance. 2. An ordinance of Christ, may be these,
1. Why an ordinance? Here is only this reason, the will of the Lord, "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." Ordinances are certain impositions set forth by an external mandate of a lawgiver, having authority to command. It is the will of Christ to impose this law on all the sons of men, that they should look up unto him; and concerning this, What have we to do to inquire into the reason? It is our duty to obey, and not to know of him, why he commands. If autos ephe was enough in Pythagoras' school, to put the business past disputing amongst his scholars, I am sure it should be much more in Christ's school; we will therefore inquire no further reason for it.
2. Why an ordinance of Christ? It is this; because all spiritual ordinances, laws, institutions, do hold on Christ. It is not in the liberty of man to erect any new spiritual ordinance in the Church of Christ. I will not deny but the power of man may come in to order such things as are not proper, but rather common to the church with other societies, as to meet together in some place, and at some time, &c. according to that rule, "Let all things be done decently and in order," 1 Cor. 14:40. For this is not an institution, but only the dictate of right reason. But when it comes up to an ordinance, law, institution, i. e. when something more shall be put on the thing, than nature hath put on it, when, by virtue of the institution, there is conjoined to it some kind of spiritual efficacy to work upon the soul, this only holds on Christ. Hence, because in the preaching of the word, and in the administration of the sacraments, we expect a virtue, a spiritual efficacy more than they have, or can yield in any natural way, therefore we say, These are ordinances of Christ; and so because, in looking unto Jesus, we expect a virtue, a special efficacy, to go along together with it, more than nature can give it, therefore we call this an ordinance, and an ordinance of Christ, to distinguish it from all other ordinances, rules, or constitutions of men whatsoever.
SECT. III. Use of Reproof.
Use 1. WELL, then, is inward experimental Looking unto Jesus a choice, a high gospel-ordinance? How may this reprove thousands! How many are there that mind not this duty? The truth is, that as "the whole world lies in wickedness," 1 John 5:19. so the eyes of the whole world are misplaced; there are few that have a care of this choice, of this high gos pel ordinance. I shall therefore reprove both the ungodly and godly.
1. For the ungodly, will not seek after God, nor Christ, "God is not in all their thoughts," Psalm 10:4. Alas! they never heard of such a duty as this, they cannot tell what it means to look unto Jesus. Nor speak I only of poor Indians, and other savages of the unchristian world, whose souls are overclouded with the blackest mists of irreligion, that the prince of darkness can possibly wrap them in, who came into the world, not knowing wherefore, and go out of the world, not knowing whither, an heavy case, which cannot sufficiently be bewailed with tears of blood; but I speak of such as live within the paradise of the Christian church, that have nothing to distinguish them from the Indian miscreants, but an outward conformity, outward formalities, the charity of others, and their own slight imaginations. Why, alas! these are they that the Lord complains of, that "they have eyes, and see not; my people have forgotten me days without number," Jer. 2:32. They have negligently suffered me to be out of their minds, and that for a long time. You will say, Is there any such here? Can I tax any of you, that you should not look up to Jesus? Are not your eyes towards Christ in your prayers, praises, soliloquies,
public and private duties? Nay, are not you now in the duty, whilst I am speaking, and you hearing?
I answer, however you may deem, that you do this, or that; yet God reckons it as a thing not done in these respects.
1. When it is not done to purpose, as if our look to Christ, makes us not like Christ; a man may give a thousand glances every day towards Christ, yet if there be no effectual impression upon the heart, Christ takes it, as if he had never looked towards him at all.
2. When it is done unwillingly. Sometimes men think of Christ, but they know not how to shun it; the Lord breaks in upon their spirits, whe ther they will or no, whereas their own temper is to follow and pursue other objects: thus you drop into our assemblies out of custom, or fashion, or for some sinister end, and here is Christ lifted up upon the pole, he is discovered in his beauties, graces, sweetnesses, excellencies, but when you see him, you say, "He hath no form or comeliness, there is no beauty, that we should desire him," Isa. 53:2. Let no man deceive himself, though he cast his eyes towards heaven all the day long, if he love not this work, he doth nothing, he looks not at Jesus.
3. When it is not done according to the rule, "this is not to eat the Lord's supper," said Paul to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 11:20. No question they did eat it, but because it was not done after its due manner, he said, "This is not to eat the Lord's supper." Many think of Christ and look up to Jesus, but because their thoughts are not holy, awful and subjecting to the Spirit, in no way proportionable to the goodness and glory of the Son of God, they look loosely, carelessly and carnally upon him, he therefore reckons it as not done, this is not to look unto Jesus.
4. When a man makes it not his course and trade to look unto Jesus. A man may come into a carpenter's shop, and take up his tools, and do something at his work, but this makes him not a carpenter, because it is not his trade. The best saints sin, yet because it is not their trade and course, they are said not to sin, "Whosoever is born of God sinneth not," 1 John 5:18. And so ungodly men may look, and muse, and meditate and think of Christ, but because this is not their course and trade, they make it not their work to look to Christ, they are therefore said not to look to him.
Why, now consider, you that plead that you are Christians, and that you mind Christ at this very instant, that you are in the duty, even whilst I am speaking of it, and yet you neither do it to purpose, nor wil lingly, nor according to rule, nor as if it is your trade; is it not with you as it was with them of whom Christ spake, Matth. 7:22. 23. "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name have cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?" They will plead at the last day as they plead now, but, for all that, you know the answer, "I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity." Surely Christ will say to you one day, I know you not, I was a stranger to you upon earth, I could not have an eye from you, but when your lazy idle spirits pleased; and now out of my sight, I will never own you, nor look upon you more.
2. For the godly, are not they careless of this duty! O their excursions from God! sad dejections of spirit! inordinate affections of the world! and in the mean while, O the neglect of this gospel-ordinance even amongst saints themselves! I know not whether through want of skill, or through want of will, but sure I am this duty lies dormant, neglected of most of the people of God: their faults I may express in these respects: