Answers to several Questions, with profitable Directions to stand fast in the Doctrine of Jesus the Son of MARY, against those blustering Storms of the Devil's Temptations, which do at this Day, like so many Scorpions, break loose from the bottomless Pit, to bite and torment those that have not tasted the Vertue of Jesus, by the Revelation of the Spirit of God.
Published for the good of God's chosen ones, by that unworthy servant of CHRIST, JOHN BUNYAN, of BEDFORD, By the grace of GOD, preacher of the GOSPEL of his dear SON.
'Jesus saith, -- I am the way, and the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.' -- John 14:6
'Neither is there salvation in any other.' -- Acts 4:12
This was the first work published by the indefatigable servant of Christ, John Bunyan; and he modestly sought the patronage of his brethren in the ministry, and Messrs. Burton, Spencly and Child wrote prefatory recommendations. The latter of these, Mr. John Child, for some temporal advantages afterwards conformed; and became notorious for having, in a fit of despair, destroyed himself.
Well might Bunyan in this treatise, call the early period of his ministry 'distracted and dangerous times,' in which many a poor sincere inquirer stood 'tottering and shaking,' bewildered with the new din of sectaries, each boldly declaring his divine authority. In the midst of this storm of contending opinions, Bunyan stood forth conspicuously to declare 'Gospel Truths'; and to open and vindicate them these discourses were written. To enable the reader to understand and appreciate them, it will be needful to take a rapid glance at the state of society which then prevailed. The frivolities of dress and laxity of morals introduced by James the First, increased by the mixture of French fashions under the popish wife of Charles the First, had spread their debauching influence throughout the kingdom. George Fox, the founder of the Society of Friends, in an address 'To such as follow the world's fashions,' gives an almost incredible description of the tomfooleries of dress which prevailed. 'How doth the devil garnish himself, and the people are carried away with vanity -- women plaiting their hair -- men and women powdering it, making their backs like bags of meal. The men having store of ribbands of divers colours about their waists, and at their knees, and in their hats. The women with their spots on their noses, cheeks, and foreheads -- rings on their fingers -- cuffs double, like a butcher in his white sleeves -- ribbands about their arms, hands, back, waists, knees -- and hats like unto fidlers' bags -- is not this the devil's adorning?'
At this period the iron hand of tyranny and oppression over the worship of God had been suddenly paralyzed. The ruinous penalties, and even capital punishments, which had enforced attendance on a form of common prayer, and a pretence to believe articles, creeds, and catechisms, ordained by Acts of Parliament, were removed. Man, by nature averse to religious inquiries, was now stimulated, under a threat of eternal ruin, personally and individually, to seek for truth and salvation. At this time a little persecuted band of puritans had directed every inquirer after salvation to the sacred Scriptures, which alone were able to make wise unto salvation, by the aid of the Holy Spirit enlightening their minds to understand, and subduing their wills to receive those eternal truths. But a new light was now discovered -- that which lighteneth every man that cometh into the world; and which, it was alleged, would alone, if cherished and followed, lead the honest inquirer into all truth. National religion, so called, had been propagated at an incredible expense of treasure, and by the sacrifice of the best blood in the country, to the shrine of infallibility -- called uniformity. A hireling priesthood had limited to themselves the right to teach men how to be Christians. The result of all this was clearly seen, when the people were driven to think and choose for themselves. Their minds were in darkness and confusion, which quickly produced the most whimsical, mischievous, and even ludicrous opinions, mixed with truth.
National establishments, whether Pagan, Mohamedan, or Christian -- be this latter either Greek, Roman, or Protestant -- have a direct and natural tendency to repress and prevent personal inquiries, lest they should interfere with uniformity in faith and worship; which is a presumed incapability of error on the part of those who impose them. Systems, which IN FACT, although not in words, claim infallibility, by requiring implicit and absolute submission, must have had a direct tendency to hoodwink and blind the people; nor can we be surprised, that when their eyes were first opened, they saw indistinctly; or, to use a scripture phrase, 'men as trees walking.' They utterly failed in preparing the mind to receive divine truth, or in furnishing an antidote to extravagant speculations in religion.
The state of the millions can hardly be conceived; they had paid a priest to think on religion for them -- to read the Bible for them -- and to pray for them. They had paid the church to make them Christians -- to confirm them -- to forgive their sins -- and to bury their bodies in sure and certain hope of heaven. From this fatal sleep of ignorance and error, they were aroused by itinerant preachers; many of whom were men of education, of irreproachable morals, and most benevolent habits. They went forth upon their mission at a fearful sacrifice of comfort, property, health, and even of life; calling all to repentance, and to obey the light within -- to follow on to perfection in this life -- and, at the same time, denouncing all hireling ministers. They were called in derision, Familists, Ranters, Quakers, New Lights, &c. The old leaven, which had led the people without inquiry to follow the priests, now operated on multitudes to follow those ardent and self-denying leaders. The Familists, or family of love, were consistent in their lives; -- considered every day a sabbath, and baptized none under thirty years of age. The Ranters mingled a little truth with much error -- abused their Christian liberty -- and lived licentiously, and were a scandal to religion. The Quakers -- so called from their trembling agitation when under a powerful sense of eternal realities, and because, in preaching, they admonished their hearers to tremble and quake at the word of God -- considered the sacraments as mere ceremonies, inconsistent with spiritual worship -- lived and dressed with the utmost simplicity, and took the lead in attacking error at all risks.
These itinerants went through the whole length and breadth of the land, and in every place of public resort they made proclamation. In fairs, markets, meetings, assizes, and steeple-houses, their voice was heard denouncing evil and exhorting to righteousness. Short weights and deceit were declared an abomination to the Lord, in fairs and markets. Every religious delusion was exposed in meetings and parish churches. The journals of George Fox, and others, are exceedingly interesting in recounting their hazardous adventures, zeal, and no ordinary degree of ready wit and talent. Some of these itinerants came to Bedford, and in the parish church, called 'the steeple-house,' in Bedford town, on the 23d of May, 1656, they met John Bunyan, probably after he had been ministering there. With him they held a public disputation or controversy, to which allusions are made by both parties, and in Bunyan they met a master spirit who confounded them. The subjects in dispute were of the deepest importance -- the work of the Holy Spirit in conversion -- the authority of the Bible -- the perfection of holiness in this life -- and whether it was lawful to perform the work of the ministry for hire.
After a very careful perusal of E. Burrough's answers to Bunyan, it is gratifying to find that the whole truth is set forth in the following pages; -- some of the facts are worthy of a careful notice. The Baptists and Independents had long existed in this country, and had published confessions of faith. The Ranters and Familists existed not as sects but in name, and soon disappeared. The Quakers, who were confounded with the Ranters and Familists, were not at this time formed into a society; nor had they published any book of discipline. The Society of Friends were some years after united, and have been one of the most useful as well as the brightest ornaments to this kingdom. The works of Fox, Penn, Barclay, and others, with their books of discipline, and yearly epistles, shew that they, to a very great extent, agree with Bunyan in his sentiments; and it is well worthy of notice that, in the latter part of his life, when he wrote his admirable treatise on the resurrection of the dead, he does not accuse the Society of Friends with holding any false opinions. Bunyan is clear and scriptural upon the 'Light within,' or that conscience of right and wrong which all possess to their condemnation -- as distinguished from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the gift of God to his people, revealing in them the pardon of sin and hope of glory, by opening their understandings to receive the truths of the Bible. When Ann Blakeley bid Bunyan 'throw away the Scriptures,' he replied, 'No, for then the devil would be too hard for me.' And when accused of being a hireling priest, how triumphant was the reply -- it ought to be printed in letters of gold. He was charged with making merchandize of souls, and he answered -- 'Friend, dost thou speak this from thy own knowledge, or did any other tell thee so? However, that spirit that led thee out this way is a lying spirit. For though I be poor, and of no repute in the world, as to outward things; yet through grace I have learned by the example of the apostle, to preach the truth; and also to work with my hands, both for my own living, and for those that are with me, when I have opportunity. And I trust that the Lord Jesus, who hath helped me to reject the wages of unrighteousness hitherto, will also help me still, so that I shall distribute that which God hath given me FREELY, and not for filthy lucre's sake.' How does this contrast with the description of the state clergy, before the triers were appointed.
Favoured by the kind assistance of Charles Bowden, the secretary to the Society of Friends, access was afforded me to the extensive library in Devonshire House, and upon collation of Bunyan's quotations with the original editions of Burrough's exceedingly rare tracts, my gratification was great to find that every extract made by John Bunyan was perfectly faithful.
Edward Burrough, called a son of thunder and of consolation, answered both these treatises of Bunyan's, -- denying, on the part of the Quakers, many of the charges made against them, as connected with the Ranters. He was a man of great talent -- fearless, devoted, and pious. He became extensively useful; and like thousands of most excellent men, was sacrificed at the shrine of that fanatical church over which the profligate and debauched Charles the Second was the supreme head. He died in the prime of life, receiving the crown of martyrdom, when his happy spirit ascended from Newgate in 1662: aged 28 years.
No sect was so severely tormented as the Quakers. A fanatical clergyman, Edward Lane, in a book called 'Look unto Jesus,' 1663, thus pours forth his soul, breathing out cruelty -- 'I hope and pray the Lord to incline the heart of his majesty our religious King, to suppress the Quakers, that none of them may be suffered to abide in the land.' A prayer as full of cruelty against a most peaceful and valuable part of the community, as it was hypocritical in calling a debauched and profligate man [Charles the Second] 'our religious king.'
Controversy was carried on in those days with extreme virulence; learned and unlettered men alike used violent language, which, in this enlightened and comparatively happy age, is read with wonder. Burrough called his answer 'The Gospel of Peace contended for in the spirit of meekness and of love.' He meekly commences with -- 'How long, ye crafty fowlers, will ye prey upon the innocent; how long shall the righteous be a prey to your teeth, ye subtle foxes; your dens are in darkness, and your mischief is hatched upon your beds of secret whoredoms.' He says, 'I own the words but I deny thy voice.' Such was the unhallowed spirit of controversy in that age. A harsh epithet was called faithful dealing: thus, a learned clergyman, writing upon Baptism, entitled his work -- 'The Anabaptists ducked and plunged over head and ears -- washed and shrunk in the washing'; to which an equally learned Baptist replied, in his 'Baby Baptism mere Babyism.' All this unseemly violence has passed away, and with it much of the virulence of persecution; soon may it pass away altogether, only to be pointed at as the evidence of a barbarous age. We now look back to cruelties perpetrated in the times of Bunyan by the national religion, as a stigma upon human nature. 'What a church is this of yours, to be defended by gaols, and prisons, and whips, and stocks, and violent dealing.' 'Let us fairly try our spiritual weapons, and not carnal cruel tortures.' 'Let us not hurt or imprison each other, nor put in the stocks, nor cruelly whip and lacerate each others' bodies; but let us thrash deceit, whip and beat that and all false doctrines': these were the breathings of our pilgrim forefathers, -- it is the language of common sense and of real religion. May such sentiments spread, and soon cover the earth! -- GEO. OFFOR.
1. George Fox's Journal, folio, p.144.
2. See Burrough's Works, p.304.
3. Page 201.
4. Page 201.
5. Page 178.
THE AUTHOR TO THE READER.
Seeing the Lord hath been pleased to put it into my heart, to write a few things to thee (Reader) touching those things which are most surely believed by all those that are, or shall be saved (Luke 1:1; Acts 13:38). I think it meet also, to stir up thy heart by way of remembrance, touching those things that are the hindrances of thy believing the things that are necessary to the welfare of thine immortal soul. And indeed, this is the only thing necessary; it is better to lose all that ever thou hast, than to have thy soul and body for ever cast into hell; And therefore, I beseech thee to consider with me a few things touching the stratagems, or subtle temptations of the devil, whereby he lieth in wait, if by any means he may, to make thee fall short of eternal life (1 Peter 5:8).
And first of all, he doth endeavour by all means to keep thee in love with thy sins and pleasures, knowing that he is sure of thee, if he can but bewitch thee to live and die in them (1 Cor 6:9,10; 2 Thess 2:12). Yea, he knows that he is as sure of thee, as if he had thee in hell already (John 3:19). And that he might accomplish his design on thee in this particular, he laboureth by all means possible to keep thy conscience asleep in security and self-conceitedness, keeping thee from all things that might be a means to awaken and rouse up thine heart. As first, he will endeavour to keep thee from hearing of the word, by suggesting unto [thee] this and the other worldly business which must be performed; so that thou wilt not want excuse to keep thee from the ordinances of Christ, in hearing, reading, meditation, &c., or else, he seeks to disturb, and distract thy mind when thou art conversant in these things, that thou canst not attend to them diligently, and so they become unprofitable; or else if thou art a little more stirred, he labours to rock thee asleep again, by casting thee upon, and keeping thee in evil company, as among rioters, drunkards, jesters, and other of his instruments, which he employeth on purpose to keep thee secure, and so ruin thy soul and body for ever and ever.
If not thus, then peradventure he will seek to persuade thee it is but a melancholy fit, and will put thee upon the works of thy calling, or thy pleasures, or phys; or some other trick he will invent, such as best agreeth with thy nature. And thus thy heart is again deaded, and thou art kept in carnal security, that thou mightest perish for ever. But if notwithstanding these, and many cunning slights more which might be named, he cannot so blind, and benumb thy conscience, but that it doth see and feel sin to be a burden, intolerable and exceeding sinful; Then in the second place, his design is to drive thee to despair, by persuading thee that thy sins are too big to be pardoned; he will seek by all means possible to aggravate them by all the circumstances of time, place, person, manner, nature, and continuance of thy sins, he will object in thy soul, thou hast out-sinned grace, by rejecting so many exhortations, and admonitions, so many reproofs, so many tenders of grace; hadst thou closed in with them it had been well with thee, but now thou hast stood it out so long, that there is no hope for thee: thou mightest have come sooner, if thou didst look to be saved, but now it is too late. And withal, that he might carry on his design upon thee to purpose, he will be sure to present to thy conscience, the most sad sentences of the scripture; yea, and set them home with such cunning arguments, that, if it be possible, he will make thee despair, and make away thyself, as did Judas.
But if he be prevented in this his intended purpose; the next thing he doth beset thee with, is to make thee rest upon thine own righteousness, telling thee, that if thou wilt needs be saved, thou must earn heaven with thy fingers' ends; and it may be, he represents to thy soul such a scripture; 'If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?' And thou having (but in the strength of nature) kept thyself from thy former grosser pollutions, and it may be from some more secret sins, are ready to conclude, now thou dost well; now God accepts thee; now he will pardon, yea, hath pardoned thee; now thy condition is good, and so goest on till thou meetest with a searching word, and ministry, which tells thee, and discovers plainly unto thee, that thou doest all this while deceive thyself, by a vain hope and confidence; for tho' thou seek after the law of righteousness, thou hast not yet attained to the law of righteousness, nor yet canst, because thou seekest it 'not by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law' (Rom 9:31,32). Here again, thou art left in the mire, and now peradventure thou seest, that thou art not profited by the works of the law, nor thy own righteousness: And this makes thee stir a little, but in process of time, (through the subtle sleights of the devil, and the wickedness of thine own heart;) thou forgettest thy trouble of conscience, and slippest into a notion of the gospel, and the grace thereof, and now thou thinkest thyself cock-sure: Now thou art able to say, 'He that lives and dies in his sins, shall be damned for them: He that trusts in his own righteousness, shall not be saved': Now thou canst cry, 'grace, grace, it's freely by grace, it's through the death of the man Christ Jesus, that sinners do attain unto eternal life' (Heb 9:14). This, I say, thou hast in the notion, and hast not the power of the same in thine heart, and so it may be thine head is full of the knowledge of the scriptures, though thine heart be empty of sanctifying grace. And thus thou dost rejoice for a time. Yet because thou hast not the root of the matter within thee, in time of temptation thou fallest away (Luke 8:13).
Now being in this condition, and thinking thyself to be wondrous well, because of that notion of the truth, and that notion thou hast in the things of God: I say, being in this state, thou art liable to these dangers.
First, Thou art like to perish if thou die with this notion in thine head, except God out of his rich grace do work a saving work of grace and knowledge in thy heart; for know this, thou mayest understand glorious mysteries, and yet be a cast-away (1 Cor 13:1-3). Or else,
Secondly, Thou art liable to the next damnable heresy that the devil sendeth into the world. See and consider Luke 8:13; 2 Timothy 2:18. I say, thou dost lie liable to be carried away with it, and to be captivated by it; so that at last, through the delusions of the devil, thou mayest have thy conscience seared as with an hot iron, so hard, that neither law, nor gospel, can make any entrance thereinto, to the doing of thee the least good. And indeed, who are the men that at this day are so deluded by the quakers, and other pernicious doctrines; but those who thought it enough to be talkers of the gospel, and grace of God, without seeking and giving all diligence to make it sure unto themselves? 'And for this cause God' [shall send] hath sent 'them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned, who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness,' as it is written (2 Thess 2:11,12). And indeed if you mark it, you shall see, that they be such kind of people, who at this day are so carried away with the quakers' delusions; namely, a company of loose ranters, and light notionists, with here and there a legalist, which were shaking in their principles from time to time, sometimes on this religion, sometimes on that. And thus these unstable souls are deluded and beguiled at last (2 Peter 2:14). So that these who before (as one would have thought) had something of God in them, are now turned such enemies to the glorious truths of the gospel, that there are none so obstinately erroneous as they. And indeed it is just with God, to give them over to 'believe a lie' (2 Thess 2:11), who before were so idle that they would not receive the truth of God into their hearts, in the love of it. And to be bewitched by the devil to obey his temptations, and be damned, who would not obey the truth, that they might be saved (Gal 3:1).
But you will say, what lies are those, that the devil beguileth poor souls withal? I shall briefly tell you some of them, but having before said, that they especially are liable to the danger of them, who slip into high notions, and rest there; taking that for true faith which is not. I shall desire thee seriously to consider this one character of a NOTIONIST. Such an one, whether he perceives it or not, is puffed up in his fleshly mind, and advanceth himself above others, thinking but few may compare with him for religion and knowledge in the scriptures, but are ignorant and foolish in comparison of him: (Thus knowledge puffeth up, (1 Cor 8:1)) whereas when men receive truth in the love of the truth, the more the head and heart is filled with the knowledge of the mystery of godliness, the more it is emptied of its own things, and is more sensible of its own vileness, and so truly humbled in its own eyes.
And further, a notionist, though he fall from his former strictness and seeming holiness, and appear more loose, and vain in his practices, yet speaks as confidently of himself, as to assurance of salvation, the love of God, and union with God, as ever. But now to return, and declare some of those lies which the devil persuades some of these men to believe.
I. That salvation was not fully, and completely wrought out for poor sinners by the man Christ Jesus, though he did it gloriously (Acts 13:38,39), by his death upon the cross, without the gates of Jerusalem (Heb 13:12 compared with John 19:19,20).
II. This is another of his lies wherewith he doth deceive poor sinners, bidding them follow the light that they brought into the world with them, telling them, that light will lead them to the kingdom; for (say they) it will convince of sin, as swearing, lying, stealing, covetousness, and the rest of the sins against the law (Rom 3:20). But 'the law is not of faith' (Gal 3:13). And then I am sure, that it, with all its motions and convictions, is never able to justify the soul of any poor sinner. 'For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them' (Gal 3:10), but that no man is justified by the law is evident, 'for, The just shall live by faith' (v 11). Now because I am not altogether ignorant of the delusion of the devil touching this grace of faith also, I shall therefore in short give thee (reader) a brief, yet true description from the scripture.1. What true justifying faith is, and what it lays hold upon.2. I shall shew who it doth come from.3. That every one hath it not.4. What are the fruits of it.
1. First therefore, true faith is a fruit, work, or gift of the Spirit of God (Gal 5:22; 2 Thess 1:11; 1 Cor 12:9) whereby a poor soul is enabled through the mighty operation of God (Col 2:12) in a sense of its sins and wretched estate to lay hold on the righteousness, blood, death, resurrection, ascension, intercession, and coming again of the Son of God which was crucified without the gates of Jerusalem, for eternal life (John 3:16-18 compared with Matt 3:17; Gal 2:20; Rom 5:8-10; Rom 3:25; Acts 16:31; Heb 13:12) according to that saying in Hebrews 11:1 'Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,' and 'the evidence of things not seen,' that is, the things that are hoped for faith sees, lays hold upon, and embraces them (Heb 11:13) as if they were present; yea, it seals up the certainty of them to the soul. Therefore saith the Apostle, it is the evidence, or testimony, or witness, of those things that are not seen as yet with a bodily eye; which are obtained by the blood of the man Christ Jesus (Heb 9:14 compared with Heb 10:12,19,20) by which the soul sees as in a glass the things that God hath laid up for them that fear him (1 Cor 13:12; 2 Cor 3:18).
2. If you would know who this faith comes from, read Ephesians 2:8 'For by grace ye are saved [saith the scripture] through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.' Again, in Philippians 1:29 it is thus written: 'For unto you [that are believers] it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake'; And thus much do the Apostles hold forth to us in their prayer, or request to the Lord Jesus, when they say, 'Lord increase our faith' (Luke 17:5), and he is therefore called 'the author and finisher of our faith' (Heb 12:2). Also we find in James 1:17 that 'Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights,' &c., and therefore faith comes from God, for true justifying faith is a good gift, and perfect in respect of the author God, in respect of its object, Christ; and in respect of the nature, though not in respect of the degree, and measure of it in us: even as a grain of gold, is as perfect gold, as a pound of gold, though not so much.
3. All men have not faith, this the Apostle witnesseth in so many words as we find (2 Thess 3:2; Deut 32:20). Also in Timothy 1:15 'Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure,' &c. It appeareth also in this, that all do not attain salvation, which they must needs do if they had true justifying faith (compare Luke 13:24 and 1 John 5:19 with Mark 16:16. And Heb 4:3 with vv 6 and 11 'they that believe shall be saved').
4. The fruits of it are, (1.) to purify the heart (Acts 15:9; 1 John 3:3), and that, as I said before, by laying hold on what Jesus Christ had done and suffered for sinners (Acts 13:38,39). (2.) It fills the soul with peace and joy, in that it lays hold on the things that are obtained for it (Rom 5:1; 2 Tim 1:9,10; 1 Peter 1:8). (3.) It makes the soul to wait patiently, for the glory that is to be revealed at the second appearing of the man Christ Jesus, whom God hath raised from the dead, which hath also delivered it from the wrath to come, as in Timothy 2:13, 14; 1 Peter 4:13 and 5:1, 4; 1 Thessalonians 1:10.
Quest. -- But how (may some say) doth the devil make his delusions take place in the hearts of poor creatures?
Ans.1. -- Why, first, He labours to render the doctrine of the Lord Jesus, and salvation by him alone, very odious and low: and also his ordinances, as hearing, reading, meditation, use of the scriptures, &c. telling poor sinners that these things are but poor, low, carnal, beggarly, empty notions; preached up by the clergymen, who are the scribes and pharisees of this generation; who have the letter, but not the Spirit of God in them; which lead men into the form, but not into the power of the Lord Jesus: And with this persuasion, he also represents the ungodly and base carriage, or behaviour, of some, who have taken in hand to preach the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ, and thereby he doth render the gospel of our Lord Jesus the more contemptible and base. But woe, woe, woe, be to them by whom such offences come (Matt 18:7; Luke 17:1,2).
Ans.2. He pretends to lead them up into some higher light, mysteries, and revelations of the Spirit, into which a very few have attained or can attain, also bewitching their affections, and taking them with an earnest pursuit after these his pretended truths; persuading them, that they shall be as God himself, able to discern between good and evil (Gen 3:5). And in this he is exceeding subtle and expert, as having practised it ever since the days of Adam. These things being thus considered, and in some measure hungered after, and the rather because they are good (as they think) to make one wise (Gen 3:6). The poor soul is all on the sudden possessed with a desperate spirit of delusion, which carries it away headlong with some high, light, frothy notions, and spiritual wickedness (which drown it in perdition and destruction) that doth feed and tickle the heart a while, to the end it may make way for a farther manifestation of itself in the poor deluded soul; which when it hath attained to, it doth then begin to bring the soul into a clearer sight of those things, which it was loth it should know at the first; but having fitted the soul by degrees for a further possession of itself, at last it begins to hold forth its new gospel; shewing the soul a new Christ, and new scriptures. The new and false Christ, is a Christ crucified within, dead within, risen again within, and ascended within, in opposition to the Son of Mary, who was crucified without, dead without, risen again without, and ascended in a cloud away from his disciples into heaven without them (Acts 1:9-11).
Now this new and false Christ, hath a new and false faith belonging to his gospel, which faith is this, to apprehend this Christ crucified within, dead within, risen again within, and ascended within: But ask them for a scripture that doth positively prove their doctrine, they also have a scripture, but it is within, it doth bear witness within, and if they had not that, (though that be of the devil's making) I am sure they would have none out of God's holy scriptures, for they will allow of no crucified Christ, but he that was crucified without the gates of Jerusalem (Heb 13:12; John 19:17,18). Dead and buried in the sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38-41). Was raised again out of that sepulchre into which Joseph had laid him (John 20:1-12). Who went before his disciples into Galilee (Mark 16:7). And to Emmaus (Luke 24:15). Shewed them his hands and his feet, where the nails had gone through (Luke 24:39,40). Did eat and drink with them after his resurrection: Was seen of them on earth forty days after his resurrection (Acts 1:3). And after that ascended away in a cloud, out of the sight of his disciples into heaven (Acts 1:9-11). Which Christ ever lives to make intercession for us (Heb 7:25). Who will come again also at the end of the world to judgment (Acts 10:42, 17:31; 2 Peter 3:10,11). Who also is the same that hath obtained eternal redemption for us (Acts 13:37-39; Rom 3:25; Eph 1:7; Rev 1:5; Heb 1:2, 9:14). This I say, or rather the scriptures say, is God's Christ (Matt 16:16). In whom he is well pleased (Matt 3:17). Neither doth God own any other, or allow of any other: For there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved, than the name of Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 4:10 compared with vv 11,12). But as I told you before, the way to be thus deluded, is first to render God's Christ odious and low, with a pretence of some further light and revelations; and thus professing themselves to be wise, they became fools (Rom 1:22).
Quest. -- But you will say, doth not the scripture make mention of a Christ within? (Col 1:27; 2 Cor 13:5; Rom 8:10).
Ans. -- I answer, God's Christ was, and is, true God and true man; he was born of the Virgin Mary, true God, and true man (Matt 1:23). 'And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us,' or God in our nature, according to 1 Timothy 3:16 'God was manifested in the flesh': And John 1:14 'the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.' And in Hebrews 2:14 'Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he,' that is, God (Heb 1:8), '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.' Now as he was thus true God, and true man, so he became our redeemer and Saviour. Compare the first and second chapters to the Hebrews together, and you may clearly see that this is a glorious truth, that he who is the first and the last (Rev 1:17,18, 2:8) humbled himself, and made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And was this all? No. He humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil 2:7,8 compared with Rev 1:17,18 and Rev 2:8 with Gal 1:4). Now after this Christ of God, true God and true man, had wrought out eternal redemption for us poor miserable sinners (Heb 9:14 compared with 1 Tim 1:15). I say, after he had done this, he ascended up into heaven, and there ever lives to make intercession for us. Now this Christ, having thus completely wrought out our salvation, sends his disciples abroad to preach the same to poor sinners (Acts 2; 2 Cor 5:19,20) and so many as were ordained to eternal life, when they heard the word, or the gospel preached by the Apostles, which gospel was this Christ (1 Cor 1:17 compared with v 23). I say, so many as were ordained to eternal life, when they heard the word, the Holy Ghost or Spirit of Christ, fell upon them (Acts 10:44 compared with Acts 13:48) which did lead them into the redemption and glorious things that the Lord Jesus had laid up and prepared for them (John 16:13-15; 1 Cor 2:9). Which Spirit was the earnest of their inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory (Eph 1:13,14). The earnest of their inheritance was a glorious encouragement to them that had it, to hope for the glory that was to be revealed at the appearing of Jesus Christ, which is the meaning of that place in Colossians 1:27. And that will be seen clearly, if we compare it with Ephesians 1:13,14 before recited. Now this Spirit, which sometimes is called the Spirit of Christ (2 Cor 13:5). This Spirit, I say, being given to all those that were ordained to eternal life, it must needs follow, that those that had not this Spirit, but did live and die without it, were not ordained to eternal life, and so were none of Christ's; but were reprobates (Rom 8:9) for the Spirit of Christ is the distinguishing character betwixt a believer and an unbeliever, he that hath it, and is led by it, is a child of God (Rom 7:4), but he that hath it not is none of Christ's.
So then, the answer that I give to the question, is this. The Spirit of Christ that is given to believers, is the earnest or hope of that inheritance that Christ hath already purchased, and is now preparing for so many as he hath given, or shall give this holy spirit unto. And for the proof hereof, read Ephesians 1:13, 14. In whom (saith the scripture) ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance; (which inheritance is the eternal redemption that was purchased by Christ for poor sinners (Heb 9:15)) until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Again (Gal 5:5), 'For ye through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.' And (Col 1:27) the Apostle speaking of this great mystery, saith, 'To whom God would make know what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you the hope of glory'; which glory was then revealed to the saints no otherwise than by faith, as the Apostle saith, 'We rejoice in hope of the glory of God' (Rom 5:2). Which hope is begotten by the Spirit's shedding abroad the love of God in our hearts (v 5), which hope is not yet seen, that is, not yet actually enjoyed; 'For we are saved by hope: But hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it' (Rom 8:24,25). And as I say, the cause of believers' hope is this, Christ, or the Spirit of Christ, in them, the hope of glory. And indeed he may well hope for glory to come, who hath already an earnest thereof given him of God, and that earnest no less than the Spirit of the Lord Jesus (Rom 8:16,17).
But now, this Spirit, which is the cause of a believer's hope, all men have not (Jude 19; Eph 2:12; Rom 8:9; John 14:16,17). Therefore what a sad doctrine is that which saith, follow the light that Christ hath enlightened every man withal, which cometh into the world; which light is the conscience, that convinceth of sins against the law; and that you may see clearly if you mind that scripture (John 8:9) which saith, That the Pharisees, [which had neither the love of God, nor his word, abiding in them (John 5:38,43)] when they had heard Christ speaking thus to them, He that is without sin among you, &c. being convicted by their own consciences, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even to the least. But the devil, that he might be sure not to miss of his design, labours by all means to render the scriptures also odious and low, telling them of the scriptures within; which Christ never taught, nor yet his disciples: But they being given up of God to a reprobate mind, have given themselves over, rather to follow the suggestions of the devil, than the holy scriptures which God hath commanded us to betake ourselves to (Isa 8:20 compared with John 5:39) which scripture is called the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17), which weapon our Lord Jesus himself held up, to overcome the devil withal (Matt 4:4,7,10; Luke 4:4,8,12). But this design (as I told you) the devil carries on, by pretending to shew them a more excellent way which they may attain to, if they be but wise, and follow what is made known unto them from the light within them.
But, reader, that thou mayest be able to escape the snare of this cunning hunter, I shall lay thee down some few directions, which if the Lord give thee grace to follow, thou shalt escape these WICKED DELUSIONS.
Direct.1. And first of all, I do admonish thee to be very serious touching thine estate and condition; and examine thine own heart by the rule of the word of God, whether or no, thou hast as yet any beginnings of desiring after religion: and if thou findest that thou hast lived until now in ignorance, and hast not set thyself to remember thy Creator as thou art commanded (Eccl 12:1), then I beseech thee consider that thou art under the wrath of Almighty God, and hast been so ever since thou camest into the world (Eph 2:1,2), being then in thy first parents, those didst transgress against thy maker (Rom 5:18), 'Therefore as by the offence of one,' that is, of Adam (v 14), 'judgment came upon all men to condemnation.' Besides the many SINS thou hast committed ever since thou wast born: sins against the law of God, and sins against the gospel of the grace of God; sins against the long-suffering and forbearance of God, and sins against his judgments; sins of omission, and sins of commission, in thoughts, words, and actions: consider, I say, thy condition; yea, get a very great sense of thy sins that thou hast committed; and that thou mayest so do, beg of God to convince thee by his Holy Spirit, not only of sins against law, but also of that damning sin, the sin of unbelief.
Direct.2. If thou by grace, art but brought into such an estate as to see thyself in a lost condition because of sin, without the Lord Jesus; then in the next place, have a care of resting on any DUTY done, though it be never so specious; I say, have a care of making any stay anywhere on this side the Lord Jesus Christ: but above all strive to believe, that that very Man that was born of the Virgin Mary, did come into the world on purpose to save thee, as well as other poor sinners: I say, thou must not be content till thou art enabled to say, 'He loved me, and gave himself for me' (Gal 2:20). And that thou mayest be sure to attain to this most precious faith, (for so it is) be much in applying the freest promises to thy own soul; yea, those that have no conditions annexed to them, as these, or other like (Rev 22:17; Jer 31:3, John 6:37 also 14:19; Hosea 14:3). I say, labour to apply to thy own soul in particular, the most glorious and freest promises in the book of God. And if at any time the devil besets thee by his temptations, (for so is his wonted manner to do, and so much the more, as he sees thee labour to get out of his reach) I say, when he assails thee with his fiery darts, be sure to act faith on the most free promises, and have a care that thou dost not enter into any dispute with him, but rather resist him by those blessed promises that are laid down in the word of God: And withal, be sure to meditate upon the blood of the man Christ Jesus, who also is the true God, and read those scriptures that do most fully and clearly speak of it (as 1 John 1:7; Eph 1:7; Heb 9:14; Rom 3:25).
Direct.3. But if thou say (as it is often the speech of poor souls lying under a sense of sin, and the apprehensions of wrath due to it) I cannot apply the promises to mine own soul; and the reason is, because my SINS are so great, and so many. Consider, and know it for a truth, that the more and greater thou seest thy sins to be, the more cause hast thou to believe; yea, thou must therefore believe because thy sins are great: David made it an encouragement to himself, or rather the Spirit of the Lord made it his encouragement, to crave, yea to hope for pardon, because he had greatly transgressed (Psa 25:11). 'For thy name's sake, O Lord, [saith he] pardon mine iniquity; for it is great.' As if he had said, O Lord, thy name will be more glorified, the riches of thy grace will be more advanced, thy mercy and goodness will more shine, and be magnified in pardoning me who am guilty of great iniquity, than if thou pardonest many others who have not committed such heinous offences. And I dare say, the reason why thou believest not, is not because thy sins are great, but because thou dost reason too much with that wicked enemy of man's salvation, and givest way too much to the fleshly reasoning of thine own heart. For Christ hath said, 'He that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out' (John 6:37). And again, 'Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow' (Isa 1:18). And Christ calleth those that labour, and are heavy laden, to come to him, with promise to give them rest (Matt 11:28). Wherefore thou must not say, my sins are too big; but thou must say, because I am a great sinner; yea, because I have sinned above many of my companions, and am nearer to hell, and eternal damnation than they, because of my sins, therefore will I cry unto the Lord, and say, O Lord, pardon my sins, for they are great.
Now that thou mayest not be deceived in a matter of so great concernment, have a special care of these three things.
Caution 1. First, Have a care of putting off thy trouble of spirit the wrong way, which thou mayest do three ways; (1.) When thy conscience flieth in thy face, and tells thee of thy sins, thou dost put off convictions the wrong way, if thou dost stop thy conscience by promising to reform thyself, and lead a new life, and gettest off thy guilt by so doing: for though thou mayest by this means still and quiet thy conscience for a time, yet thou canst not hereby satisfy and appease the wrath of God: yea, saith God to such, 'Though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me' (Jer 2:22).
(2.) If when thou art under the guilt of thy sins, thou puttest off convictions by thy performance of DUTIES, and so satisfiest thy conscience, then also thou dost put off thy convictions the wrong way: for God will not be satisfied with anything less than the blood, righteousness, resurrection, and intercession of his own Son (Acts 4:12). And thou shouldest not satisfy thyself with any less than God would have thee to satisfy thyself withal, and that is the water of life (Isa 55:1,2) which water of life thy duties, and all thy righteousness, is not; for they are as filthy rags (Isa 64:6).
(3.) Have a care that when thou art under conviction, thou dost not satisfy thyself with a notion of the free grace of the gospel; my meaning is, do not content thyself with any measure of knowledge that thou canst attain unto, or bottom thy peace upon it, thinking thou art now well enough, because thou canst speak much of the grace of God, and his love in Christ to poor sinners. For this thou mayest have, and do; and yet be but a companion for Demas, yea, for Judas and the rest of the damned multitude: As the Apostle saith, For all this thou mayest be but as sounding brass, and as a tinkling cymbal; that is, nothing but a sound (1 Cor 13:1-3).
Caution 2. But Secondly, If thou wouldest not be deceived, then have a care to avoid false doctrines, which are according to the spirit of the devil, and not after Christ. As,
(1.) If any doctrine doth come unto thee, that tells thee, except thou art circumcised after the manner of Moses, thou canst not be saved: that is, if any man come unto thee, and tell thee, thou must do such and such works of the law, to the end thou mayest present thyself the better before God, do not receive him: For 'to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness' (Rom 4:5).
(2.) If any come unto thee, and bring such a doctrine as this; That thou mayest be saved by grace, though thou walk in the imaginations of thy own wicked heart: His doctrine also is devilish, do not receive him (Deut 29:19-23).
(3.) But if any come unto thee, and doth in truth advance the blood, righteousness, resurrection, intercession, and second coming of that very Man in the clouds of heaven, that was born of the virgin Mary; and doth press thee to believe on what he hath done (shewing thee thy lost condition without him) and to own it as done for thee in particular, and withal doth admonish thee, not to trust in a bare notion of it, but to receive it into thy heart, so really, that thy very heart and soul may burn in love to the Lord Jesus Christ again: and doth also teach thee, that the love of Christ should and must constrain thee, not to live to thyself: But to him that loved thee, and gave himself for thee (2 Cor 5:14,15; Eph 4:21-24; 1 Cor 7:23). 'Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.' If his conversation be also agreeable to his doctrine, a believing, honest, loving self-denying, courteous conversation, (he also is a true Christian). Receive that doctrine and receive it really; for it is the doctrine of God, and of Christ (Gal 4:4, 1:4; Eph 1:7; Rev 1:5; Acts 13:38; John 1:29; Acts 4:12, 10:40-42; 1 Thess 1:10; Mark 13; 2 Peter 1:5-10). Considering the end of their conversation Jesus Christ, yesterday, and to-day, and the same for ever (Heb 13:7,8).
Caution 3. Again, If thou wouldest not be deceived, then beware of slighting any known truth that thou findest revealed, or made known to thee in the gospel; but honour and obey it in its place, be it (as thou thinkest) never so low (John 14:15).
(1.) Have a care that thou do not undervalue, or entertain low thoughts of God, Christ the Son of Mary, and the holy scriptures, but search them (John 5:39). And give attendance to the reading of them (1 Tim 4:13). For, I will tell thee, he that slights the scriptures, doth also slight him of whom they testify. And I will tell thee also, that for this cause God hath given up many to strong delusions, that they might believe a lie: 'that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness' (2 Thess 2:11,12).
(2.) Therefore I say unto thee, In the name of the Lord Jesus, the Son of Mary, the Son of God, the very creator of heaven and earth, and all things that are therein; have a care of thyself; for the devil doth watch for thee day and night (1 Peter 5:8). Thine own heart also doth labour to deceive thee, if by any means it may (Jer 17:9). Therefore do not thou trust it; for if thou do, thou wilt not do wisely (Prov 28:26). I say therefore, have a care that thou labour in the strength of the Lord Jesus, to escape all these things; for if thou fall into any one of them, it will make way for a farther income of sin and the devil, through whose deceitfulness thy heart will be hardened, and thou wilt be more incapable of receiving instruction, or reaping advantage, by and from the ordinances of Jesus Christ: the rather therefore, give all diligence to believe in the Christ of God, which is the Son of Mary, and be sure to apply all that he hath done, and is doing, unto thyself, as for thee in particular; which thing if thou dost, thou shalt never fall.
And now, reader, I shall also give thee some few considerations, and so I shall commit thee to the Lord.
Consider, 1. That God doth hold out his grace, and mercy freely, and that to every one (Rev 22:17; Isa 55:1-7).
Consider, 2. That there is no way to attain to this free mercy and grace, but by him that was born of the Virgin Mary; for he himself saith, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me' (John 14:6 compared with Matt 1:20,21).
Consider, 3. If thou strivest to go over any other way, thou wilt be but a thief and a robber (John 10:1 compared with 9). And know that none of these (so continuing) shall enter into the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor 6:9,10).
Consider, 4. That if the devil should be too hard for thee, and deceive thee, by persuading thee to embrace, or entertain a new gospel, which neither Christ nor his disciples did allow of, it would make thee gnash teeth when it is too late.
Consider, 5. That though thou hast been deluded by Satan to this day, yet if now thine eyes be opened to see and acknowledge it, though as yet thou hast been either exceedingly wicked (1 Tim 1:13), or an idle (Matt 20:6,7) lukewarm, hypocritical professor (Rev 3:17-19); and hast stood it out to the last (Eze 18:20-22); for all this there is hope; and if now thou receive the truth in the love of the truth, being as willing to be rid of the filth of sin, as the guilt of it, thou shalt be saved.
Consider, 6. That the Lord will call thee to judgment for all thy sins past, present, and what else thou shalt practise hereafter, especially for thy rejecting and trampling on the blood of his Son, the Man Christ Jesus: And if thou dost not agree with thine adversary, now, while thou art in the way, 'Lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite' (Luke 12:58,59).
And therefore I beseech thee to consider; Here is at this time life and death, heaven and hell, everlasting joy, and everlasting torment set before thee. Here is also the way to have the one, and the way to escape the other. Now if the Lord shall do thee any good by what I have spoken, I hope it will be a means to stir me up to thank the Lord that ever he did use such a sinner as I am, in the work of his gospel. And here I shall close up what I have said, desiring thee (if thou be a christian) to pray for him who desires to continue.
Thy servant in the Lord Jesus Christ, though less than the least of all saints,
1. The word 'quakers' must not be misunderstood as referring to the society of friends, but to some deluded individuals calling themselves quakers; the friends were not formed into a society for some years after this was written -- Ed.
THE EPISTLE WRIT BY MR. BURTON, MINISTER AT BEDFORD
TO THE READER,
Reader, thou hast in this small treatise, set before thee, the several pieces of that great and glorious mystery, Jesus Christ, God manifested in the flesh: And if thou art enlightened by the Spirit of Christ, here thou mayest see by that Spirit how Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Son of Mary, is both true God and true Man, both natures making but one Christ, one Jesus, as Philippians 2:5-9 where speaking first of his being God, and then of his taking upon him the nature of man; afterwards in the 8th and 9th verses, he saith, he (meaning this Jesus) humbled himself, &c., and God (meaning the Father) hath highly exalted him, &c. speaking of both natures God and man as together making but one Christ; who is the Saviour, and is to be believed and trusted in for salvation not only as God, but as man also; and those who do not thus make him the object of their faith, will surely fall short of pardon of sin, and of salvation; 'through this man [speaking of Christ as crucified at Jerusalem] is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins' (Act 13:38). And saith he, there is 'one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus' (1 Tim 2:5); and this discovers the damnable errors of those commonly called Socinians, who on the one hand deny him that was born of the Virgin Mary to be true God as well as true Man: And this is also quite contrary to those commonly called Familists, Ranters, Quakers, or others, who on the other hand either deny Christ to be a real Man without them, blasphemously fancying him to be only God manifest in their flesh; or else make his human nature with the fulness of the godhead in it, to be but a type of God, to be manifest in the saints, and so according to their wicked imagination, his human nature was to be laid aside after he had offered it up on the cross without the gate at Jerusalem, contrary to Acts 1:1-3, 9-11 compared with the last chapter of Luke, vv 39, 40, 50, 51 where it is clearly held forth, that the man Christ rose again out of the grave, with the same body which was crucified and laid in the grave, and was taken up above the clouds into heaven with the same real body, and that he shall again descend form heaven in that same glorious body of flesh, as Acts 1:9-11. And this sure truth of Christ being the Saviour and Mediator, as Man, and not only as God, will also shew serious believers what to think of some, who though they will not (it may be) deny that Christ is a real man without them in the heavens as well as God, yet do own him to be the Saviour only as God, first dwelling in that flesh that was born of the Virgin, and then dwelling in saints, and thus both beginning and perfecting their salvation within them, and so indeed do hold Christ as Man, to be only (I say to be only) the saved or glorified one of God, together with the saints his members, only something in another and more glorious manner and measure than the saints; and these high flown people are in this very like to Familists and Quakers, undervaluing the Lord Jesus Christ, God-man, and though they may speak much of Christ, yet they do not rightly and savingly lay him for their foundation.
Now as a help against all these dangerous things, thou hast here the main things of Christ laid down before thee briefly, and fully proved by the scriptures:
First, Of his being true God out of flesh from eternity, and then of his taking flesh, or the nature of man upon him in the womb of the Virgin, and so his fulfilling the law, his dying for sins at Jerusalem, his rising again without, his ascending into heaven without, and not into a fancied heaven only within, as some say; his interceding in heaven for all his, and his coming again in his body of flesh to judge the world. And if thou art yet in a state of nature, though covered over with an outside profession, here thou mayest find something (if the Spirit of Christ meet thee in reading) to convince thee of the sad condition thou art in, and to shew thee the righteousness thou art to fly to by faith, and to trust in for salvation, when convinced of sin; which is a righteousness wrought by that God-man Jesus Christ without thee, dying without thee at Jerusalem for sinners: here also thou mayest see the difference between true and false faith. If thou art a true believer, as these things are the foundation of thy faith, so they may be of great use for thee to mediate upon, and to exercise thy faith in, particularly in mediation, and in this way to seek daily for a higher faith in these truths, to be given into thy heart from heaven; and there is a great need of this, for though these truths be commonly known amongst professors to the notion of them, yet very few know or believe them aright: nay, it may well be said in this age, that, if the faith of the true saints was well sifted, and tradition, notion, and the apprehensions of their own reason and fancy was sifted out, most of them would be found to have very little knowledge of, and faith in, these common truths.
Secondly, These truths being put thus together, and plainly proved by the scriptures, may be a great help (through the Spirit concurring) to strengthen thee against all those damnable heresies which are spread abroad, which deny the Lord Jesus Christ either plainly, or more cunningly and mysteriously. And
Thirdly, The more thou art rooted and set down from heaven in the faith of these truths of Christ, to believe fully the glorious reality of them, and their interest in them, the more heavenly peace and joy thou wilt have (1 Peter 1:7,8) and also thou wilt hereby attain the more true holiness and purity of heart and life, 'purifying their hearts by faith' (Acts 15:9). And then the more thou hast of the right faith of Christ, and of his things in thy heart, the more strong and valiant wilt thou be in spirit, to do any work private or public for Jesus Christ, like Stephen, who being full of faith, and of the Holy Spirit, was also full of power (Acts 6:8).
In this book thou hast also laid down from the scriptures, how Jesus Christ is without the saints as Man, and yet dwelleth within them, that is, something of his divine nature or his blessed Spirit dwells within them, which Spirit is sometime called, The Spirit of Christ (Rom 8:9). He that hath not the Spirit of Christ, &c. and sometime called Christ, 'If Christ be in you' &c. (Rom 8:10). And also how we may know whether it be Christ and the Spirit of Christ within, or a false spirit calling itself Christ, and that is thus; If it be indeed Christ within, that is, the Spirit of Christ God-man; why then it teaches that man or woman in whom it is, to apply, and trust in Christ without for salvation; Christ as born of the Virgin Mary, as fulfilling the law without them, as dying without the gate of Jerusalem as a sacrifice for sin; it teaches them to trust in the Man Christ as rising again out of the grave without them, as ascending into, and interceding in heaven without for them; and as to come from that heaven again in his flesh to judge the world. Thus the man Christ himself saith, 'When he [the Spirit of truth] is come, &c. he shall glorify me' (John 16:13,14). He shall make you more to prize, admire and glorify me, who am both God and man, and who shall be absent from you touching my body. Then follows, for he shall take of mine (of my glorious things) and shew them to you; he shall take my divine and human nature, my birth, my person and offices, my obedience, death, satisfaction, my resurrection, ascension and intercession, and of my second coming in the clouds with my mighty angels to judgment, and shall shew them, or clear them up to you: He shall take of my salvation, which I have wrought for you in my own person without you: And he shall take of my glory and exaltation in the heavens, and shew to you. Now to mind this one thing, and to be set down in a right understanding of it, by the Spirit, from the scriptures, will be of great concernment to thee and me; for, for want of this, many professors have split themselves, some looking only on what Christ hath done and suffered without them, resting in an historical, traditional, and indeed a fancied faith of it, without looking for the Spirit of Jesus Christ to come with power into their hearts, without which they cannot rightly know, nor rightly believe in Christ the Son of God without them, so as to have any share or interest in him, 'If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his' (Rom 8:9). Others have been depending too much upon something they call Christ, and the righteousness of Christ within them, in opposition to Christ and his righteousness without them, from which all true saints have their justification and comfort, it being received through the operation of the Spirit which dwells in them; and however these may talk much of Christ within them, yet it is manifest, that it is not the Spirit of Christ, but the spirit of the devil; in that it doth not glorify, but slight and reject the man Christ and his righteousness which was wrong without them: Reader, in this book thou wilt not meet with high flown airy notions, which some delight in, counting them high mysteries, but the sound, plain, common, (and yet spiritual and mysterious) truths of the gospel, and if thou art a believer, thou must needs reckon them so, and the more, if thou hast not only the faith of them in thy heart, but art daily living in the spiritual sense and feeling of them, and of thy interest in them. Neither doth this treatise offer to thee doubtful controversial things, or matters of opinions, as some books chiefly do, which when insisted upon, the weightier things of the gospel have always done more hurt than good: But here thou hast things certain, and necessary to be believed, which thou canst not too much study. Therefore pray, that thou mayest receive this word which is according to the scriptures in faith and love, not as the word of man, but as the word of God, without respect of persons, and be not offended because Christ holds forth the glorious treasure of the gospel to thee in a poor earthen vessel, by one who hath neither the greatness nor the wisdom of this world to commend him to thee; for as the scripture, saith Christ, (who was low and contemptible in the world himself) ordinarily chooseth such for himself, and for the doing of his work (1 Cor 1:26-28). Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world, &c. This man is not chosen out of an earthly, but out of the heavenly university, the church of Christ, which church, as furnished with the Spirit, gifts, and graces of Christ, was in the beginning, and still is, and will be to the end of the world, that out of which the word of the Lord, and so all true gospel ministers must proceed, whether learned or unlearned, as to human learning (1 Cor 12:27,28). And though this man hath not the learning or wisdom of man, yet, through grace he hath received the teaching of God, and the learning of the Spirit of Christ, which is the thing that makes a man both a Christian and a minister of the gospel. 'The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned,' &c. (Is 50:4 compared with Luke 4:18) where Christ, as man, saith, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor,' &c. He hath, through grace taken these three heavenly degrees, to wit, union with Christ, the anointing of the Spirit, and experience of the temptations of Satan, which do more fit a man for that mighty work of preaching the gospel, than all university learning and degrees that can be had.
My end in writing these few lines is not to set up man, but having had experience with many other saints of this man's soundness in the faith, of his godly conversation, and his ability to preach the gospel, not by human art, but by the Spirit of Christ, and that with much success in the conversion of sinners when there are so many carnal empty preachers, both learned and unlearned; I say having had experience of this, and judging this book may be profitable to many others, as well as to myself: I thought it my duty upon this account (though I be very unfit for it) to bear witness with my brother to the plain and simple (and yet glorious) truths of our Lord Jesus Christ. And now reader, the Lord give thee and me a right understanding in these things, that we may live and die not with a traditional notional dead faith, but with a right spiritual lively faith of Christ in our heart, wrought by the mighty power of God; such a faith as may make Jesus Christ more real and precious to us than any thing in the world, as may purify our hearts, and make us new creatures, that so we may be sure to escape the wrath to come, and after this life enjoy eternal life and glory through the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Farewell, thine to serve thee in the Lord Jesus, JOHN BURTON.
SOME GOSPEL TRUTHS OPENED, &c.
Forasmuch as many have taken in Hand to set forth their several Judgments concerning the Son of the Virgin Mary, the Lord JESUS CHRIST; and some of those many having most grossly erred from the simplicity of the Gospel, it seemed good to me, having had some Knowledge of these things, to write a few words, to the end, if the Lord will, Souls might not be so horribly deluded by those several corrupt Principles that are gone into the World concerning him.
Now, that there is such a thing as a Christ, I shall not spend much time in proving of; only I shall shew you, that he was first promised to the fathers, and afterwards expected by their children: But before I do that, I shall speak a few words concerning God's FORE-ORDAINING AND PURPOSING, THAT A CHRIST, A SAVIOUR, SHOULD BE, AND THAT BEFORE THE WORLD BEGAN. Now God in his own wisdom and counsel, knowing what would come to pass, as if it were already done (Rom 4:17). He knowing that man would break his commandments, and so throw himself under eternal destruction, did in his own purpose fore-ordain such a thing as the rise of him that should fall, and that by a Saviour, 'According as he hath chosen us in him, [meaning the Saviour] before the foundation of the world' (Eph 1:4). That is, God seeing that we would transgress, and break his commandment, did before choose some of those that would fall, and give them to him that should afterward purchase them actually, though in the account of God, his blood was shed before the world was (Rev 13:8). I say, in the account of God, his Son was slain! that is, according to God's purpose and conclusion, which he purposed in himself before the word was; as it is written (2 Tim 1:9), 'Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.' As also, in 1 Peter 1:20, Where the Apostle speaking of Christ, and the redemption purchased by him for sinners, saith of him, 'Who verily was fore-ordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last days for you, who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead.' God having thus purposed in himself, that he would save some of them that by transgression had destroyed themselves, did with the everlasting Son of his love, make an agreement, or bargain, that upon such and such terms, he would give him a company of such poor souls as had by transgression fallen from their own innocency and uprightness, into those wicked inventions that they themselves had sought out (Eccl 7:29). The agreement also how this should be, was made before the foundation of the world was laid (Titus 1:2). The Apostle, speaking of the promise, or covenant made between God and the Saviour (for that is his meaning,) saith on this wise; 'In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began.' Now this promise, or covenant was made with none but with the Son of God, the Saviour. And it must needs be so; for there was none with God before the world began, but he by whom he made the world, as in Proverbs 8 from verse 22 to verse 31 which was and is, the Son of his love.
This covenant, or bargain, had these conditions in it.
First, That the Saviour should take upon him flesh and blood, the same nature that the sons of men were partakers of (sin only excepted) (Heb 2:14, 4:15). And this was the will or agreement that God had made with him: And therefore when he speaks of doing the will of God (Heb 10:5) he saith, 'a body hast thou prepared me,' (as according to thy promise (Gen 3:15) which I was to take of a woman,) and in it I am come to do thy will, O God, as it is written of me in the volume of thy book (v 7).
Second, The Saviour was to bring everlasting righteousness to justify sinners withal (Dan 9:24,25). The Messias, or Saviour, shall bring in everlasting righteousness, and put an end to iniquity, as it is there written, 'To make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness.' This, I say, was to be brought into the world by the Saviour, according to the covenant, or agreement, that was between God and Christ before the world began, which God, that cannot lie, promised at that time (Titus 1:2).
Third, He was to accomplish this everlasting righteousness by spilling his most precious blood, according to the terms of the covenant, or bargain; and therefore when God would shew his people what the agreement was that he and the Saviour had made, even before the covenant was accomplished and sealed actually. See for this Zechariah 9 (where he is speaking of him that should be the Saviour,) verse 11, 'As for thee also [meaning the Saviour] by the blood of thy covenant,' or as some render it, whose covenant is by blood (which is all to one purpose) 'I [meaning God] have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.' The meaning is this: As for thee also, seeing the covenant, or bargain that was made between me and thee before the world was, is accomplished in my account, as if it were actually and really done, with all the conditions that were agreed upon by me and thee; I have therefore, according to that agreement that was on my part, sent forth the prisoners, and those that were under the curse of my law, out of the pit wherein there is no water; seeing thou also hast completely fulfilled in my account whatsoever was on thy part to be done, according to our agreement. And thus is that place to be understood in John 17:9, 'I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me' (which I covenanted with thee for) 'thine they were and thou gavest them me,' (but on such and such conditions as are before-mentioned (Zech 9)). And again, 'According as he hath chosen us in him, [that is, in Christ,] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love' (Eph 1:4). Now, seeing this was thus concluded upon by those that did wish well to the souls and bodies of poor sinners, after the world was made by them, and after they had said, 'let us make man in our image, after our likeness' (Gen 1:26). And after man, whom God had made upright, had by transgression fallen from that state into which God at first placed him, and thrown himself into a miserable condition by his transgression, then God brings out of his love that which he and his Son had concluded upon, and begins now to make forth that to the world, which he had purposed in himself before the world began (Eph 1:4,9; 2 Tim 1:9).
1. Now the first discovery that was made to a lost creature of the love of God, was made to fallen Adam (Gen 3:15). Where it is said, 'I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed'; which is the Saviour (Gal 4:4), 'It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.' This was the first discovery of the love of God to lost man: This was the gospel which was preached to Adam in his generation; in these words was held forth to them in that generation, that which should be farther accomplished in after generations.
2. Another discovery of the love of God in the gospel, was held forth to Noah, in that he would have him to prepare an ark to save himself withal; which ark did type out the Lord that was to come, and be the Saviour of those whom he before had covenanted for with God the Father. 'And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; -- make thee an ark of gopher wood' (Gen 6:13,14, 7:1). 'The Lord said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.'
3. God breaks out with a farther discovery of himself in love to that generation in which Abraham lived, Where he saith, 'And in thee, [that is, from thee shall Christ come through, in whom] shall all families of the earth be blessed' (Gen 12:3). This was also a farther manifestation of the good will of God to poor lost sinners; and through this discovery of the gospel, did Abraham see that which made him rejoice (John 8:56).
4. When the time was come that Moses was to be a prophet to the people of his generation, then God did more gloriously yet break forth with one type after another, as the blood of bulls, and lambs, and goats: Also sacrifices of divers manners, and of several things, which held forth that Saviour more clearly which God had in his own purpose and decree determined to be sent; for these things (the types) were a shadow of that which was to come, which was the substance (Heb 9:9,10, 10:1,5-7). Now when these things were thus done, when God had thus signified to the world, what he intended to do in after times, presently all that had faith to believe that God would be as good as his word, began to look for, and to expect that the Lord should accomplish and bring to pass what he had promised, what his hand and counsel had before determined to be done.
(1.) Now Abraham begins to look for what God had promised and signified; namely, that he would send a Saviour into the world in his appointed time, which thing being promised, Abraham embraces, being persuaded of the certainty of it; as in Hebrews 11:13. And this did fill his heart with joy and gladness, as I said before; for 'he saw it, and was glad' (John 8:56).
(2.) Jacob also, while he was blessing his sons, concerning things to come, breaks forth with these words, 'I have waited for thy salvation' (Gen 49:18). He was also put in expectation of salvation to come by this Saviour.
(3.) David was in earnest expectation of this, which was held forth by types and shadows in the law; for as yet the Saviour was not come, which made him cry out with a longing after it, 'O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Sion' (Psa 53:6). And again, 'O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Sion!' (Psa 14:7). The thing that David waited for, was not in his time come, though before his time it was promised; which makes him cry out, O that it were come, that it were come out of Sion! Where, by the way, take notice, that the true salvation and Saviour of Israel was to come out of Sion, that is, out of the church of God, touching the flesh, as it is written; A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren like unto me (Deut 18:15,18). And again, 'I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people' (Psa 89:19; Rom 9:5). 'Whoso are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.' Christ, as concerning the flesh, did come of the fathers.
(4.) Isaiah did prophesy of this, that God would thus save his people; yea, he breaks forth with these words, 'But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation' (Isa 45:17). He also tells them how it shall be accomplished in that 53d chapter. Yea, he had such a glorious taste of the reality of it, that he speaks as though it had been actually done.
(5.) In the days of Jeremiah, this that God had promised to the fathers, was not yet accomplished; in chapter 23:5 he saith, 'Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will [mark, it was not yet done] but I will [saith God] raise unto David a righteous branch, and a king shall reign and prosper. -- In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is his name wherewith he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.'
(6.) He was also to come in Zechariah's time (Zech 3:8). Where he saith 'for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.'
(7.) He was not come in the time of Malachi neither, though he was indeed at that time near his coming. For he saith himself, 'Behold, I will send my messenger, [meaning John the baptist,] and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts' (Mal 3:1; Isa 40:3; Luke 1:76).
(8.) Old Simeon did also wait for the consolation of Israel a long time (Luke 2:25). Where it is said, 'And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel.' That is, waiting for him that was to be the Saviour, as is clear, if you read with understanding a little farther: 'And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ' (v 26).
And thus have I in brief shewed you, 1. That there is such a thing as Christ.2. That this Christ was promised and signified out by many things before he did come.3. How he was waited for, and expected before the time that God had appointed in the which he should come.
The SECOND THING that I will (through the strength of Christ) prove, is this, THAT HE THAT WAS OF THE VIRGIN, IS HE THAT IS THE SAVIOUR.
FIRST, And first, I shall lay down this for a truth; That it is not any Spirit only by, and of itself, without it do take the nature of man, that can be a Saviour of man from eternal vengeance.
Or thus: That that [which] will be a Saviour of man, must in the nature of man satisfy and appease the justice and wrath of God. And the arguments that I do bring to prove it by, are these.
First, Because it was man that had offended; and justice required that man must give the satisfaction: And therefore, when he that should be the Saviour, was come, he 'took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men' (Phil 2:7; Heb 2:14). Because 'the children are partakers of flesh and blood; he also himself likewise took part of the same'; To what end? 'that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.' And is that all? No; but also that he might 'deliver them who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage' (v 15).
Second, The second argument is this; because, if a spirit only could have made satisfaction for the sin of mankind, and have subdued Satan for man, without the nature of man, either there had been weakness in Body when he made that promise to fallen Adam, That the seed of the woman should break the serpent's head; (for there hath been no need of and so no room for that promise) or else God having made it, would have appeared unfaithful, in not fulfilling his promise, by redeeming the world without it.
Third, If a spirit only could have made satisfaction, and so have saved man; then Christ needed not to have come into the world, and to have been born of a woman (Gal 4:4). But in that he must come into the world, and must be born of a woman, it is clear, that without this, he could not have been a Saviour: For he was made of a woman, made under the law, to this end, that he might redeem them that were under the law; implying, No subjection to this, (viz. the taking of the nature of man) no redemption from the curse of the law. But Christ hath delivered from the curse of the law (all that believe in his name) being in their nature made a curse for them.
And this is the reason, why the fallen angels are not recovered from their damnable estate, because, he did not take hold of their nature, 'For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham' (Heb 2:16).
SECOND, Now then, seeing this is the very truth of God, I shall next prove, that Jesus that was born of the virgin, to be the Saviour. And,
First, I shall prove it by comparing some places of the Old and New testament together, and by some arguments drawn from the scriptures.
1. And first, see Genesis 3:15, where he is called the seed of the woman, saying, 'I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed'; and so was Jesus (Gal 4:4) where it is said, 'God sent forth his Son, made of a woman,' or born of a woman.
2. This woman must be a virgin (Isa 7:14) where it is said, 'A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Imanuel.' And Jesus is he that was the fulfilling of this scripture (Matt 1:22,23), 'Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call his name Imanuel.'
3. The Saviour must be of the tribe of Judah. And this Jacob prophesied of on his death-bed, saying, 'Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise,' or honour, 'thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee' (Gen 49:8).
And again (Micah 5:2), 'But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel.' Jesus also came of the tribe of Judah, and that will clearly appear, if you read (Matt 1). Matthew, he begins first with Abraham (v 2) and thence to Judah (v 3) from Judah to David (v 6) from David to Zorobabel (v 13) then to Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus (v 16).
Now Mary was one of the same house also, and for this consider, Jesus came from the loins of David (Matt1); but that he could not do, if Mary had not been of the seed of David: For Christ came from her, not from him, for Joseph 'knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born' (Matt 1:25). Again, the angel told her, that he was the son of David, saying, 'And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David' (Luke 1:32).
And again, The Jews knew this very well, or else they would have been sure to have laid it open before all the world; for they sought by all means to disown him. And though they did through the devilishness of their unbelief disown him, yet could they find no such thing as to question the right of his birth from Mary. If it had been to be done, they would no doubt have done it; they did not want malice to whet them on; neither did they want means so far as might help forward their malice; without manifest and apparent injury; for they had exact registers, or records of their genealogies, so that, if they had had any colour for it, they would sure have denied him to have been the son of David. There was reasoning concerning him when he was with them (John 7:27,43) and I do believe, part of it was about the generation of which he came. And this was so commonly known, that the blind man that sat by the way-side could cry out, 'Jesus thou Son of David, have mercy on me. -- Thou Son of David, have mercy on me' (Luke 18:38,39). It was so common, that he came from the loins of his father David according to the flesh, that it was not so much as once questioned. 'And when' Herod 'demanded of the chief priests and scribes of the people where Christ should be born. They said unto him, in Bethlehem of Judea: For thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda, for out of thee shall come a governor, that shall rule my people Israel' (Matt 1:4-6). (For out of thee) mark that; if Mary had not been of Judah, Christ had not come out of Judah, but Christ came out of Judah; therefore Mary is also a daughter of Judah. And this is evident, as saith the scripture, 'for -- our Lord sprang out of Judah' (Heb 7:14).
Again, when Christ the Saviour was to come into the world, at that time the sceptre was to depart from Judah, according to the prophecy of Jacob. 'The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a law-giver from between his feet, until Shiloh come' (Gen 49:10).
Now the sceptre was then departed from those that were Jews by nature, and also the law-giver, and Herod who was a stranger, and not of Judea, was king over them, as Caesar's deputy; and Caesar Augustus imposed laws on them.
The stubborn Jews also confessed the sceptre to be departed, when before Pontius Pilate a Roman governor of Judea, they cried out against Christ: 'We have no king but Cesar' (John 19:15).
Nay farther, the Jews from that day to this, have been without a king of their own nation to govern them: they never had the sceptre swayed since by any of themselves, but have been a scattered despised people, and have been as it were liable to all dangers, and for a long time driven out from their country, and scattered over all the nations of the earth, as was prophesied concerning them (Jer 14:10; Zech 6:14,15). And yet these poor souls are so horribly deluded by the devil, that though they see these things come to pass, yet they will not believe. And one reason among many, of their being thus deluded, is this, they say that the word sceptre in Genesis 49 is not meant of a kingly government; but the meaning is, (say they) a rod, or persecutions shall not depart from Judah till Shiloh come. Now they do most grossly mistake that place; for though I am not skilled in the Hebrew tongue, yet through grace, I am enlightened into the scriptures; whereby I find that the meaning is not persecutions, nor the rod of afflictions, but a governor or sceptre of the kingdom shall not depart from Judah till Shiloh come. And that this is the meaning of the place, weigh but the very next words of the same verse, and you will find it to be the sceptre of a king that is meant; for he addeth, 'nor a law-giver from between his feet.' Mark it, The sceptre, nor a law-giver; the legislative power depending on the sceptre of the kingdom, shall not depart from Judah till Shiloh come. According to that scripture, written in Isaiah 7:16, 'For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings.' Which scripture hath been fulfilled from that same time.
But a word to the Jews' exposition of the sceptre to be a rod, or persecutions; saying, that persecutions shall not depart from Judah till Shiloh come. This cannot be the meaning of the place; for the Jews have had rest oftentimes, and that before Shiloh did come; at one time they 'had rest four-score years' (Judg 3:30). Again, 'And the land had rest from war' (Josh 14:15). And again, 'And the Lord gave them rest round about, according to all that he sware unto their fathers, and there stood not a man of all their enemies before them' (Josh 21:44). 'And the land had rest forty years' (Judg 3:11). There was rest many a time from persecution and from the rod, though it were but for a season; but the sceptre, or kingdom, did not depart from Judah, and a law-giver from between his feet till Shiloh came.
Second, Again, To prove that Jesus is the Christ, it is clear from the hand of God against the Jews, for putting him to death. What was the reason why they did put him to death, but this, He did say that he was the Christ the Son of God? (Luke 22:70) 'Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.' That is, I am he as you say, I am the Son of God; yea, the only begotten Son of the Father, and I was with him before the world was (John 9:37, 17:5).
Now the Jews did put him to death for his thus owning his own; that is, for not denying of his Sonship, but making himself equal with God, therefore did they put him to death (John 19:7).
Now God did, and doth most miserably plague them to this very day, for their crucifying of him: But I say, had he not been the Christ of God, God's Son, he would not have laid sin to their charge, for crucifying him; but rather have praised them for their zeal, and for taking him out of the way, who did rob God of his honour, in that he made himself equal with God, and was not. He would have praised them for doing the thing that was right, as he did Phineas the son of Eleazar, for executing judgment in his time, on the adulterer and adulteress (Num 25:8).
But in that he said he was the Son of God, and accounted it no robbery so to call himself (Phil 2:6). And seeing that they did put him to death, because he said he was the Son of God; and in that God doth so severely charge them with, and punish them for their sin in putting him to death, for saying that he was the Son of God, it is evident that he was and is the Son of God, and that Saviour that should come into the world. For his blood hath been upon them to this very day for their hurt, according to their desire (Matt 27:25).
Again, Jesus himself doth in this day hold forth that he is the Christ, where he saith, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand' (Mark 1:15). What time is this that Jesus speaks of? Surely, 'tis that of Daniel's seventy weeks, spoken of in chapter 9:24 where he saith, 'Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people -- to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation' or satisfaction 'for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, -- and to anoint the most Holy.' This time, that here Daniel speaks of, is it that Christ saith hath an end; and the argument that he brings to persuade them to believe the gospel, is this, 'The kingdom of God is at hand,' (according as was prophesied of it by Daniel) 'repent, and believe the gospel.' Repent, and believe that this is the gospel; and that this is the truth of God; consider, that Daniel had a revelation of these days from the angel of God, and also the time in which it should be accomplished: namely, Seventy weeks was the determined time of the Messias his coming, from the time when the angel spake these words to Daniel: Seventy weeks, that is, about 490 years, if you reckon every day in the said seventy weeks for a year: A day for a year, a day for a year; for so is the Holy Spirit's way sometimes to reckon days (Eze 4:6). And this the Jews were convinced of, when Christ saith to them, 'Ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?' (Matt 16:3). Do you not see that those things that are spoken of as forerunners of my coming, are accomplished? Do you not see that the sceptre is departed from Judah? Do you not see the time that Daniel spake of is accomplished also? There shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: O ye hypocritical generation! (v 4).
Third, Another argument to prove that Jesus is the Christ, is this, By his power the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, the dumb speak, the dead are raised up, the devils are dispossessed. In Isaiah 35:4 it is thus prophesied of him, 'Behold your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompense; he will come and save you'; But how shall we know when he is come? Why, 'Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing; for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert' (vv 5,6). Now when John would know whether he were the Christ or no, Jesus sends him this very answer, 'Go, and shew John [saith he] again those things which you do hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them' (Matt 11:3-5).
Fourth, Another argument that doth prove this Jesus to be the Christ, is this, namely, he to whom it was revealed, that he should see him, though he waited long for him. So soon as ever he did but see that sweet babe that twas born of the virgin Mary, he cried out, 'Lord now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people'; as it is in Luke 2:26-31. The prophetess Anna also, so soon as she had seen him, 'gave thanks to the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem' (vv 36-38).
Fifth, Another argument is, the sign of the prophet Jonah. He, even Jonah, was three days and three nights in the whale's belly (Jonah 1:17) and Jesus makes this very thing an argument to the Jews, that he was the true Messias, where he saith, 'An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign'; that is, they would have me to show them a sign, to prove that I am the Saviour, 'And there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth' (Matt 12:39,40). And this, the Apostle makes mention of to be accomplished, where he says, The Jews slew Jesus, and hanged him on a tree (Acts 10:39) and laid him in a sepulchre (Matt 27). But God raised him up the third day, and shewed him openly (Acts 10:40).
Sixth, Another scripture argument to prove that Jesus is the Christ, is this, that there was not one of his bones broken; which thing was foretold and typed out by the Paschal Lamb, where he saith, 'They shall leave none of it unto the morning, nor break any bone of it' (Exo 12:46; Num 9:12), which thing was fulfilled in the Son of the virgin, (though contrary to the customs of that nation,) as it is written, 'Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they break not his legs' (John 19:32,33): 'that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken' (v 36).
Seventh, Another scripture demonstration is, in that they did fulfil the saying that was written, 'They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture' (Psa 22:18). But this was also fulfilled in Jesus, as it is written; 'Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, -- They said therefore among themselves, let us not rend it, but cast lots for it whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots' (John 19:23,24).
Eighth, Again, The scripture saith, 'they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced' (Zech 12:10). But the soldier thrust a spear into his side, That it might be fulfilled which was written, 'they shall look on him whom they pierced' (John 19:34-37).
Error 1. Now then, seeing this is the truth of God, that Jesus that was born of the virgin, is the Christ of God; how horribly are those deceived who look on Jesus the Son of Mary, to be but a shadow or type, of something that was afterward to be revealed; whereas the scriptures most lively hold him forth to be the Christ of God, and not a shadow of a spirit, or of a body afterwards to be revealed, but himself was the very substance of all things that did any way type out Christ to come; and when he was indeed come, then was an end put to the law for righteousness, or justification to every one that believeth; 'Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,' as it is written (Rom 10:4). That is, he was the end of the ceremonial law, and of that commonly called the moral law, the substance of which is laid down (Exo 20:1-17) though that law, as handed out by Christ, still remains of great use to all believers, which they are bound to keep for sanctification, as Christ saith (Matt 5:19 to the end of the chapter). But Christ Jesus hath obtained everlasting righteousness, having fulfilled all the law of God in the body of his flesh, wherein he also suffered on the cross without the gates, and doth impute this righteousness to poor man, having accomplished it for him in the body of his flesh, which he took of the virgin (Gal 4:4). 'God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, [that is, born of the virgin] made under the law,' that is, to obey it, and to bear the curse of it, 'being made a curse for us' (Gal 3:13); to redeem them that were under the law, that is, to redeem such as were ordained to life eternal, from the curse of the law. And this he did by his birth, being made or born of a woman; by his obedience, yea, by his perfect obedience 'he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him' (Heb 5:8,9); and by his doing and suffering, did completely satisfy the law and the justice of God, and bring in that glorious and everlasting salvation, without which we had all eternally been undone, and that without remedy; for without shedding of his blood there was no remission.
Error 2. Seeing Jesus Christ, the Son of the virgin Mary, was and is the Christ of God: and that salvation came in alone by him, for there is salvation in no other (Acts 4:12), then how are they deceived, that think to obtain salvation by following the convictions of the law, which they call Christ (though falsely) when alas, let them follow those convictions that do come from the law, and conscience set on work by it; I say, let them follow all the convictions that may be hinted in upon their spirits from that law, they shall never be able to obtain salvation by their obedience to it, 'for by the law is the knowledge of sin' (Rom 3:20; Gal 3:10; John 10:15; Heb 9:12). And 'It is not of works lest any man should boast,' as those fond hypocrites called Quakers would do. And again, 'If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain' (Gal 2:21). 'But that no man is justified by the works of the law, in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith' (Gal 3:11). Which living by faith, is to apply the Lord Jesus Christ his benefits, as birth, righteousness, death, blood, resurrection, ascension, and intercession, with the glorious benefits of his second coming to me, as mine, being given to me, and for me, and thus much doth the Apostle signify, saying; 'The life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me' (Gal 2:20).
Error 3. Again, Seeing God's Christ, which was with him before the world was (John 17:5) took upon him flesh and blood from the virgin Mary, (who was espoused to Joseph the carpenter) and in that human nature yielded himself an offering for sin, (for it was the body of his flesh by which sin was purged [Col 1:22]). I say, seeing the Son of God, as he was in a body of flesh, did bring in salvation for sinners, and by this means, as I said before, we are saved, even by faith in his blood, righteousness, resurrections, &c. How are they then deceived who own Christ no otherwise than as he was before the world began, who was then without flesh and blood (for he took that in time of the virgin [Gal 4:4; Heb 2:14]). I say, they are wickedly deluded, who own him no otherwise but as he was before the world was: For in their owning of him thus and no otherwise, they do directly deny him to be come in the flesh, and are of that antichristian party which John speaks of (1 John 4:3) 'Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world.' Now because the enemy doth most notably wrest this scripture, as they do others, to their own damnation, I shall speak something to it; and therefore, when he saith, every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is not of God, his meaning is, Every spirit that doth not confess that that Christ that was with the Father before the world was, did in the appointed time of the Father come into the world, took on him a body from the virgin, and was very man as well as very God, and in that body of flesh did do and suffer whatsoever belonged to the sons of men for the breach of the holy law of God, and impute his glorious righteousness which he fulfilled in that body of his flesh, to the souls that shall believe on what he hath done, and is adoing in the same body.
Consider 1. And that this is the mind of the Spirit of God, consider, first, he himself saith, handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have, when his disciples had thought he had been but a spirit (Luke 24:39,40).
Consider 2. Now that in this flesh he died for sins: consider, secondly, that scripture which saith, 'Who his own self, [that is, the Christ that was born of the Virgin] bare our sins in his own body on the tree' (1 Peter 2:24). See Colossians 1:22 'in the body of his flesh,' saith he, 'to present you holy and unblameable, and unreprovable in his sight.' Now that he arose again from the dead, with the body of flesh wherewith he was crucified, consider, that forenamed scripture (Luke 24:39,40) spoken after his resurrection.
Now that he went away with the same body from them into heaven, consider that it is said, 'And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven' (Luke 24:50,51). This is the meaning of those words therefore; Jesus Christ is come into the flesh, that is, Jesus Christ hath come in the flesh that he took of the Virgin, hath brought us who were enthralled to the law, the devil, and sin, to liberty; and that by his obedience and death. 'Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, [saith the scripture] he, [Christ] also himself likewise took part of the same'; wherefore? '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' (Heb 2:14,15). For he 'was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification' (Rom 4:25). For he, even that man, through the power of the eternal Spirit, did offer up himself without spot to God, and thereby, or by that offering, 'obtained eternal redemption for us' (Heb 9:12,14). And therefore I say again and again, look to yourselves, that you receive no Christ except God's Christ: For he is like to be deceived that will believe every thing that calls itself a Christ. 'For many, [saith he] shall come in my name, -- and shall deceive many' (Matt 24:5).
Now having spoken thus much touching the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, I shall, according to the assistance of the Lord Jesus, proceed, and shall speak something of his godhead, birth, death, resurrection, ascension, and intercession; together with his most glorious and personal appearing the second time, which will be to raise the dead, and bring every work to judgment (Eccl 12:14).
And FIRST I shall shew you that he (Christ) is very God, co-eternal, and also co-equal with his Father. SECOND, That by this Son of Mary (which is equal with his Father) the world was made. THIRD, That he in the fulness of time, was made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were (or are) under the law; that is, was born of a woman: and in our nature (for he made himself of no reputation, and took on him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men) and in our stead he did fulfil the law in point of justification (Rom 10:4) and was crucified for our transgressions (1 Cor 1:23-25). FOURTH, That very body of the Son of Mary which was crucified, did rise again from the dead, after he had been buried in Joseph's sepulchre; that he in that very body ascended up into heaven; and in that very body shall come again to these ends, 1. To judge the quick and the dead.2. To receive his saints to himself.3. To pass eternal condemnation on his enemies. These things in brief I shall touch upon, according to the wisdom given me.
FIRST, And therefore that Christ is very God, I shall first prove by plain texts of scripture. Second, From the testimony of God, angels, and men, witnessed by the scriptures. Third, By several arguments drawn from scripture, which will prove the same clearly.
First, Then to prove it by the scriptures; tho' indeed the whole book of God's holy scripture, testify these things plainly to be most true, yet there be some places more pregnant and pertinent to the thing than others; and therefore I shall mention some of them: as that in Proverbs 8:22, &c. and there you shall find him spoken of under the name of wisdom, the same name that is given him in 1 Corinthians 1:24. I say in that place of the Proverbs above mentioned, you shall find these expressions from his own mouth. 'The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.' Also in John 1:1, 2 you have these words spoken of Christ, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.' As also in Hebrews 1:2 the Apostle being about to prove the Son of Mary to be very God, saith; He 'hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son'; which Son is the Son of Mary, as in Matthew 3, 'But [saith the Apostle (Heb 1:8)] unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.' Again, in John 17:5 you have the words of the Son of Mary for it, saying, 'And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.' Again, he himself saith, before Abraham was, I am: And again, I and my Father are one. And in Philippians 2:5 the Apostle saith, 'Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.' Also Revelation 2:8 Christ himself saith, I am 'the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive.' And thus have I quoted some few scriptures to prove that the Son of Mary is the true God.
Second, I shall give you the testimony of God himself touching the truth of this, viz. That Christ, the Son of the Virgin, is the true God:
1. And first see Zechariah 12:7 and there you shall find these words, 'Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts.' In this place the Lord doth call that Man his fellow, which he doth not do to any mere creature. Again, in Matthew 3:17 he calls him his beloved Son, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' And in the aforesaid place of the Hebrews (ch 1) the Apostle advancing the Lord Jesus, brings in this question. 'To which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son?' (v 5). 'But unto the Son he saith' (v 8) 'Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever': And thus far of the testimony that God himself hath given of the Son of Mary, Jesus Christ.
2. The angels do shew that he is God: (1.) In that they do obey him. (2.) In that they worship him.
(1.) That they obey him, is clear, if we compare Revelation 21:9 with 22:6. In the first of these places we find, that there came one of the angels of the seven vials, which had the seven last plagues, and talked with John. He came not of himself; for in that 22nd chapter, verse 6 he saith, 'The Lord -- sent his angel to shew unto his servants, the things which must shortly be done.' Now in the 16th verse you may see who this Lord God is: He saith there, 'I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify -- these things in the churches [compare Rev 1:1]. I am the root and [as well as] the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.' I say this obedience of the angels doth testify that Jesus, which is the Son of Mary, is the true and very God; for they do obey God only.
(2.) The angels do shew that the Son of Mary, is the true God, in that they do not only obey him, but worship him also; yea, they are commanded so to do (Heb 1:6) where it is written, 'When he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he [i.e. God,] saith, And let all the angels of God worship him,' viz. the Son of Mary. Now the angels themselves command that we worship none but God (Rev 22:8,9). When John fell down to worship the angel, the angel said, 'See thou do it not: for I am thy fellow servant, -- worship God.' Now if the angels should command to worship God, and they themselves should worship him that by nature is no god, they should overthrow themselves, in commanding one thing, and doing another, and so lose their own habitations, and be shut up in chains of darkness, to be punished with everlasting destruction from God himself at the great day. And thus much concerning the testimony of angels touching Jesus the son of Mary, the Son of God, yea, very and true God (Isa 9:6).
3. [The testimony of men witnessed by the scriptures do shew that Christ is very God.] Now followeth David his testimony among other of the saints, who witness Jesus the Son of Mary to be true God; and that you may find in Psalm 110:1 where he saith, 'The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.' Also Isaiah in the 9th chapter, verse 6 saith, 'For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, [which is not, nor ever was the heart of any believer] and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.' Again, see Peter's testimony of this Son of Mary; When Jesus asked his disciples, whom say ye that I am? Peter, as the mouth of the rest, said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God' (Matt 16:16). Also when Thomas, one of Christ's disciples, would not be persuaded by the others that they had seen the Lord, except he did also see in his hands the print of the nails, and put his fingers into the print of the nails, and thrust his hand into his side, he would not believe. Saith the Son of Mary, 'Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless but believing.' And then Thomas breaks out with a mighty faith, and a glorious testimony for his master, and saith, 'My Lord, and my God' (John 20:27,28). Again, See Paul's testimony of him (Rom 9:5) where speaking of the Son of Mary, he saith, That Christ came of the Father, 'who is over all, God blessed for ever, Amen.' And the apostle John doth also witness as much (1 John 5:20) where speaking of Jesus Christ, he saith on this wise, 'And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, [Who is that? why, saith John] even in his Son Jesus Christ.' Who is he? Why, 'This is the true God, and eternal life.'
I could here also bring in the testimony of the very devils themselves as Luke 4:41, 8:28 where he is by them acknowledged to be the Son of the living God: But it is needless so to do; for we have plainly proved it already.
Third, Now followeth the several scripture arguments, which will prove that Jesus the Son of Mary is very God.
1. There is none but he that is the true God, can satisfy the justice of the true God, for the breach of his holy law; but if you compare Isaiah 53:6 with Matthew 3:17 you shall find, that Jesus the Son of Mary did give God a full and complete satisfaction for the breach of his holy law; therefore Jesus the Son of Mary must needs be the great and true God.
2. He that hath power of his own to lay down his life, and hath power of his own to take it up again, must needs be the true God: but this did Jesus the Son of Mary the virgin; therefore he must needs be the true God (John 10:17; Rom 1:4).
3. There was never any able to bear the sins of all the believers in the world, that ever were, now are, or hereafter shall be, but the true God: But Jesus, the Son of the Virgin Mary, did bear them all, 'in his own body on the tree' (1 Peter 2:24; Isa 53:6). Therefore Jesus the Son of Mary must needs be the true God as well as man.
4. There was never any mere man able, by his own power, to overcome the devil in all his temptations, but he that is also the true God (for Adam in his state of innocency was overcome by them, and fell under them:) But Jesus the Son of the Virgin did overcome them all by his own power; therefore he is very God, as well as very Man. See Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 51:9, 63:5; Matthew 4:24; Luke 4:12.
5. There was never any that did call himself the true God (and was not) which did please God in so doing. But Jesus the Son of Mary did call himself the true God, or account himself equal with God (which is all one) yet God was well pleased with him (Matt 3:17; Phil 2:6,7; John 8:29). And therefore Jesus the Son of Mary must needs be true God as well as man.
6. There was never any that had all power in heaven and in earth, but the true God. Jesus the Son of the Virgin Mary, who was espoused to Joseph, hath all power in heaven and in earth in his own hand. Therefore he is the true and great God (Matt 28:18).
7. There was never any able to keep poor souls from falling from God, saving he that is the true God. Jesus the Son of Mary did, and doth this (John 10:27-30, 17:12). Therefore he is the true and great God.
8. Never could any justly call himself the first and the last, except the true God, nor truly (as the Lord did say) I AM. But these did Jesus the Son of Mary (Rev 1:1 compared with vv 17,18; Rev 2:8 and John 8:58). Therefore Jesus must needs be true God as well as man.
9. Never was there any that could absolutely forgive sins but God (Mark 2:7; Luke 5:21). But Jesus the Son of the Virgin Mary, can forgive sins (Luke 5:20; Mark 2:5). Therefore Jesus the Son of Mary must needs be true God, as well as man.
10. The scriptures never call any the true and living God; but he that is the true God. The scriptures call Jesus, the Son of the Virgin, the true God (Isa 9:6; 1 John 5:20). Therefore he is the true and great God.
11. He that made all things, whether they be visible, or invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers, must needs be the true God. But Jesus the Son of the Virgin Mary did make all these (Col 1:14-18; John 1:1-16; Heb 1:2,3). And therefore he is the true God as well as man.
12. The blood of a mere finite creature could never obtain eternal redemption for sinners. But the blood of Jesus, the Son of the Virgin Mary, hath obtained eternal redemption for sinners (Rom 3:23, 5:9; Heb 9:12,14, 10:19,20). Therefore the blood of the Son of the Virgin, must needs be the blood of God. And so the Apostle calleth it, saying to the pastors of the churches, 'Feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood' (Acts 20:28; 1 John 3:16).
13. Never was there any that could overcome death in his own power, but the true God (Hosea 13:14; 2 Tim 1:10; Heb 1:2). Jesus the Son of the Virgin Mary did overcome death by himself (Heb 3:14). Therefore he is the true God as well as man.
14. He that searcheth the hearts, and knoweth the thoughts of men, must needs be the true God (Jer 17:10). But Jesus the Son of the Virgin doth (Luke 5:22, 9:47; John 2:24,25). Therefore he is the true God.
15. He that by his own power commandeth the raging sea, must needs be the true God (Job 38:10,11; Prov 8:29). But this did Jesus the Son of Mary (Mark 4:39-41; Luke 8:24). Therefore, he is the true God.
16. He that is the WISDOM, power, and glory of God, must needs be the true God. But Jesus the Son of the Virgin is all these as 1 Corinthians 1:24; Hebrews 1:3. Therefore Jesus the Son of the Virgin must needs be true God as well as man.
SECOND. -- The next thing that I am to prove, is this; namely, That by this Jesus Christ, the Son of the Virgin, the world was made: And here I shall be brief, having touched on it already. Only I shall lay down some of the scriptures, that hold forth this to be a truth, and so pass to the next things that I intend to speak of.
And therefore in the first place, see Hebrews 1:2 where the Apostle is speaking of the Son of God, which Son was born of the Virgin Mary, according to these scriptures mentioned before (Matt 1:18-23; Luke 2; Matt 3:17) where God himself saith, This is my beloved Son, &c. This Son of God, saith the Apostle, by whom God hath spoken to us, by him also he made the worlds. And Colossians 1 the Apostle speaking of the deliverance of the saints, saith, 'who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins': And is that all? No, but he is (also) 'the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature' (v 15). And in verses 16, 17, 'By him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.' Also Hebrews 1:10 it is thus written of this Son of God, Christ Jesus the Son of Mary, 'And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the works of thine hands.' And again, John 1 and the first 9 verses, the Evangelist, or Apostle, speaking of the Son, saith, 'In the beginning was the Word,' which Word was the Son (Rev 19:13). This Word, or Son, was with God, and the Word was God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 'In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.' But in the ninth verse of this first chapter of John, it is written, 'That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.' Now seeing the Lord hath brought me thus far; and because the Quakers by wresting this scripture, do not only split themselves upon it, but endeavour also to split others, I shall therefore, before I proceed any further, speak a few words to it; and they are these that follow.
The Apostle in these nine first verses, or most of them, is speaking of the divinity or godhead of the Son of Mary, and shewing that he made the world: Now in this ninth verse he speaketh of man as he is in his coming into the world, and not as he is a regenerate person. Now every man as he comes into the world, receives a light from Christ, as he is God, which light is the conscience, that some call Christ though falsely. This light, or conscience, will shew a man that there is a God, and that this God is eternal (Rom 1:20). This light doth discover this eternal God by his works in the world; for saith the scripture before named, 'The invisible things of him [meaning God] from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and godhead'; This light also will reprove of sin, or convince of, and make manifest sins against the law of this eternal God: so that man, before he is regenerate, is able by that light to know that sins against the law, are sins against God, as is manifested in the unconverted Pharisees, who, (as Christ told them) had neither the love of God, nor the word of God abiding in them (John 5:38,42) yet knew sins against the law, to be sins; for they were offended at a woman for committing adultery, which act was forbidden, by the law (Matt 5:27,28); and it is said also, they were convicted of sin by their own consciences (John 8:7-10).
Again, The Apostle writing to the Corinthians, and admonishing them to walk orderly (1 Cor 11:14) turns them to nature itself, saying, 'Doth not even nature itself teach you?' &c. This light surely is that, wherewith Christ, as he is God, hath enlightened every man that cometh into the world, which doth convince of sins against the law of God. Therefore, as the Apostle saith (Rom 1:20). They are left without excuse. That is, they have their own conscience, that doth shew them there is a God, and that this God is to be served and obeyed; and the neglect of this will be sure to damn them, though the obedience to the law will not save them, because they are not able to make a full recompense to God for the sins that are past; neither are they able for the time to come, to yield a full, continual, and complete obedience to the law of this almighty, infinite, and eternal God. For as many as are of the works of the law, are under the curse; for it is written, 'Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the [works of the] law, -- it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith' (Gal 3:10,11).
But now, though Christ, as he is God, doth give a light to every one that cometh into the world, which light is the conscience, (as they themselves confess;) yet it doth not therefore follow that this conscience is the Spirit of Christ, or the work of grace, wrought in the heart of any man whatsoever; for every one hath conscience, yet every one hath not the Spirit of Christ: For Jude speaks of a company of men in his days, who had not the Spirit of Christ (Jude 19). 'These be they who separate themselves, [saith he] sensual, having not the spirit.' Yea, Heathens, Turks, Jews, Pagans, Atheists, have that also that doth convince of sin, and yet are so far from having the Spirit of Christ in them, that it is their great delight to serve their lusts, this world, their sins; whereas the Apostle saith plainly, 'If Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life for righteousness sake' (Rom 8:10) So that those who are alive to their sins, have not the Spirit of Christ. Nay, let me tell you, the very devils themselves, who were thrown from their first state by sin (Jude 6) have such a taste of their horrible sins (2 Peter 2:4) that when they did but suppose that Jesus was come to put an end to their tyrannical dealing with the world, and to bring them to judgment for their sins, (to which they know they shall be brought,) it made them cry out, 'Art thou come hither to torment us before the time?' (Matt 8:29). James doth also signify this much unto us, where he saith, 'The devils also believe and tremble' (James 2:19). Which belief of theirs is not a believing in Christ to save them; for they know he did not take hold on their nature (Heb 2:16). But they do believe that Christ will come to their everlasting torment; and the belief of this doth make these proud spirits to tremble.
Again, Man at his coming into the world, hath his conscience given him, which doth convince of sin (John 2:9, 8:9), yet man, as he cometh into the world, hath not the Spirit of Christ in him; for that must be received afterward, by the preaching of the word, which is preached by the ministers and servants of Jesus Christ. This is God's usual way to communicate of his Spirit into the hearts of his elect; and this is clear in so many words, where Peter preaching to a certain number, the scripture saith, 'While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost, [or Holy Spirit,] fell on all them which heard the word' (Acts 10:44). And again (Gal 3:2,5 compared together), 'Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, [saith the Apostle] or by the hearing of faith?' or the Gospel, which is the word of faith preached by us? Which Spirit, as Christ saith, the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him, though his children shall have fellowship with him to the great comfort of their own souls (John 14:16,17).
But now, this merciless butcherer of men, the devil, that he might be sure to make the soul fall short of glory, if possible, endeavours to persuade the soul that its state is good; that it hath the Spirit of Christ in it; and for a proof of the same, saith he, turn thy mind inward, and listen within, and see if there be not that within thee that doth convince of sin: Now the poor soul; finding this to be so, all on haste (if it be willing to profess) through ignorance of the Gospel, claps in with these motions of its own conscience, which doth command to abstain from this evil, and to practise that good; which, if neglected, will accuse and torment for the same neglect of others, both now and hereafter (Rom 2:15).
Now the soul seeing that there is something within that convinceth of sin, doth all on a sudden close with that, supposing it is the Spirit of Christ, and so through this mistake, is carried away with the teachings and convictions of its own conscience, (being misinformed by the devil) unto the works of the law; under which, though it work all its days, and labour with its might and main, yet it never will be able to appease the wrath of God, nor get from under the curse of the law, nor get from under the guilt of one sinful thought the right way, which is to be done by believing what another man hath done by himself, without us, on the cross, without the gates of Jerusalem (Heb 1:2,3; Rom 5:15). See also for this 1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 13:12. The one saith, He bare our sins in his own body on the tree; the other saith, It was done without the gate.
And thus the poor soul is most horribly carried away headlong, and thrown down violently under the curse of the law, under which it is held all its days, if God of his mere mercy prevent not; and at the end of its life doth fall into the very belly of hell.
Again, That the devil might be sure to carry on his design, he now begins to counterfeit the work of grace: here he is very subtle, and doth transform himself into an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). Now he makes the soul believe that he is its friend, and that he is a gospel minister; and if the soul will be led by what shall be made known unto it by the light (or conscience) within, it shall not need to fear but it shall do well.
Now he counterfeits the new birth, persuading them, that it is wrought by following the light that they brought into the world with them. Now he begins also to make them run through difficulties: and now, like Baal's priests, they must lance themselves with knives, &c. Now, 1656, quakers are changed to the laws of the world. Now they must wear no hatbands; now they must live with bread and water; now they must give heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils, which bids them abstain from marriage, and commands them to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving, of them which love and know the truth, as in 1 Timothy 4:1-3. Now they must not speak, except their spirit moves them, (I do not say the Spirit of Christ) though when it moves, they will speak such sad blasphemies, and vent such horrible doctrines, that it makes me wonder to see the patience of God, in that he doth not command, either the ground to open her mouth, and swallow them up, or else suffer the devil to fetch them away alive, to the astonishment of the whole world.
Object. But you will say, doth not the scripture say, that it is the Spirit of Christ that doth make manifest or convince of sin? (John 16:8).
Ans. Yes, it doth so. But for the better understanding of this place, I shall lay down this; namely, That there are two things spoken of in the scriptures, which do manifest sin, or convince of sin. First, The law, as saith the Apostle (Rom 3:20). 'Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: [viz., God's sight:] for by the law is the knowledge of sin.' Secondly, The Spirit of Christ doth make manifest, or reprove of sin, as it is written (John 16:8,9). 'And when he [the Spirit] is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me'; saith the Son of Mary, which is Christ.
Now the law doth sometimes by its own power manifest sin without the Spirit of Christ; as in the case of Judas, who was convinced of the sin of murder, which made him cry out, 'I have sinned'; yet at that time he was so far from having the Spirit of Christ in him, that he was most violently possessed of the devil (Luke 22:3,4).
Again, Sometimes the Spirit of Christ takes the law, and doth effectually convince of sin, of righteousness, and judgment to come.
Query. But you will say, How should I know whether I am convinced by the law alone, or that the law is set home effectually by the Spirit of the Lord Jesus upon my conscience?
Ans.1. Unto this I answer. First, When the law doth convince by its own power, without the help of the Spirit of Christ, it doth only convince of sins against the law, as of swearing, lying, stealing, murdering, adultery, covetousness, and the like. I say, it doth only make manifest sins against the law, pronouncing a horrible curse, against thee, if thou fulfil it not, and so leaves thee; but it gives thee no strength to fulfil it completely, and continually, (which thou must do, if thou wilt be saved thereby). Now thy own strength being insufficient for these things, having lost it in Adam, thou art a breaker of the law. Here the law finds thee in thy sins, and condemns thee for thy sins: But gives thee no power to come wholly out of them; neither doth it shew thee thy right Saviour, to save thee from them (which is the Son of the Virgin Mary, the man Christ Jesus) but commands thee upon pain of eternal damnation, to continue in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them (Gal 3:10). And therefore if thou hast been convinced of no other sins, but what are against the law, for all thy convictions and horror of conscience, thou mayest be but a natural man, at the best, and so under the curse.
(Obj.) But, perhaps thou wilt say, I am not only convinced of my sins against the law, but I have also some power against my sins, so that I do in some considerable measure abstain from those things that are forbidden in the law.
(Ans.) This thou mayest have, and do, as thou thinkest, perfectly, as those blind Pharisees called quakers, do think that they also do, and yet be but a natural man: And therefore I pray consider that place, in Romans 2:14, 15, the Apostle there speaks on this wise, concerning the Gentiles' obedience to the law, 'For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts.' Which work of the law, Christ as he is God, hath enlightened every one withal, that cometh into the world (John 1:9), which, as the quakers say, doth convince of sin, yet of no other than sins against the law: and therefore must needs be all one light or law; for 'the law is light' (Prov 6:23) and gives 'the knowledge of sin' (Rom 3:20). And therefore, as I said before, so say I now again, if thy convictions are no other than for the sins against the law, though thy obedience be the strictest that ever was wrought by any man, (except the Lord Jesus the Son of Mary) thou art at the best but under the law, and so consequently under the curse, and under the wrath of God, whether thou believest it or not (Gal 3:10; John 3:36).
Ans.2. But now the second thing, how thou shouldest know, whether the Spirit of Christ doth effectually set home the law upon thy conscience, or not; and therefore to speak directly to it, if the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, doth set home the law effectually; then the same Spirit of Christ shews thee more sin than the sins against the law. For,
(1.) It shews thee, that 'all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags' (Isa 64:6). Thou seest all thy praying, meditation, hearing, reading, alms-deeds, fasting, reformation, and whatsoever else thou hast done, doest, or canst do, being an unbeliever, deserves at the hands of God his curse and condemnation, and that for ever: And therefore thou art so far from trusting to it, that in some measure thou even loathest it, and art ashamed of it, as being a thing abominable, both in God's sight and thine own (Phil 3:8). Thou countest thy own performances, when at best, and thine own righteousness, A bed too short to stretch thyself upon, and a covering too narrow to wrap thyself in (Isa 28:20). And these things thou seest not overly, or slightly, and as at a great distance, but really and seriously, and the sense of them sticks close unto thee.
(2.) It shews thee that thou hast no faith in the man Christ Jesus by nature, and that though thou hadst no other sins, yet thou art in a perishing state because of unbelief, according to that 16th of John, verse 9, 'Of sin, because they believe not on me.' If therefore thou hast been convinced aright by the Spirit, thou hast seen that thou hadst no faith in Christ the Son of Mary, the Son of God, before conversion. It shews thee also, that thou canst not believe in thine own strength, though thou wouldest never so willingly; yea, though thou wouldest give all the world (if thou hadst it) to believe, thou couldest not.
(3.) In the next place it will shew thee, that if thou doest not believe in the man Christ Jesus, and that with 'the faith of the operation of God' (Col 2:12), thou wilt surely perish, and that without remedy; Also it shews thee, that if thou hast not that righteousness, which the man Christ Jesus accomplished in his own person for sinners; I say, if thou be not clothed with that instead of thine own, thou art gone for ever; and therefore saith Christ, (speaking of the Spirit) 'When he is come he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness' too (John 16:8). That is, the Spirit shall convince men and women of the sufficiency of that righteousness that Christ, in his human nature, hath fulfilled: So that they need not run to the law for righteousness: 'For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth' (Rom 10:4). Again, if the Spirit of Jesus setteth home the law upon thy conscience, thou wilt freely confess, that although the law curseth, and condemneth thee for thy sins, and gives thee no power either to fulfil it, or to come out of thy sins: Yet God is just in giving that law, and 'the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good' (Rom 7:12).
(4.) Lastly, It also convinceth of judgment to come: He (viz. the Spirit) shall reprove the world of sin, of righteousness, yea, and of judgment too (Acts 24:25). Then doth the soul see, that that very man that was born of the Virgin Mary, crucified upon the cross without the gates of Jerusalem, shall so come again; even that same Jesus, in like manner as he was seen to go up from his disciples (Acts 1:11). Yea, they that are thus convinced by the Spirit of Christ, know that God 'hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained' (Acts 17:31): which is the man Christ Jesus: For 'it is he which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead' (Acts 10:42).
And now, O man, or woman, whoever thou art, that art savingly convinced by the Spirit of Christ, thou hast such an endless desire after the Lord Jesus Christ, that thou canst not be satisfied or content with anything below the blood of the Son of God to purge thy conscience withal; even that blood that was shed without the gate (Heb 13:12, 9:14). Also thou canst not be at quiet, till thou dost see by true faith, that the righteousness of the Son of Mary is imputed unto thee, and put upon thee (Rom 3:21-23). Then also thou canst not be at quiet, till thou hast power over thy lusts, and corruptions, till thou hast brought them into subjection to the Lord Jesus Christ. Then thou wilt never think that thou hast enough faith. No, thou wilt be often crying out, Lord, give me more precious faith: Lord, more faith in thy righteousness; more faith in thy blood and death; more faith in thy resurrection: And Lord, more faith in this, that thou art now at the right hand of thy father in thy human nature, making intercession for me a miserable sinner (John 16:5-7; 1 Tim 2:5; Heb 7:24,25). And then, O poor soul, if thou comest but hither, thou wilt never have an itching ear after another gospel. Nay, thou wilt say, if a presbyter, or anabaptist, or independent, or ranter, or quaker, or papist, or pope, or an angel from heaven, preach any other doctrine, let him be accursed, again and again (Gal 1:8). And thus have I briefly shewed you.
First, How Christ, as he is God, doth enlighten every man that comes into the world.
Secondly, What this light will do, viz. shew them that there is a God, by the things that are made; and that this God must be worshiped (Rom 1:20).
Thirdly, I have shewed you the difference between that light and the Spirit of Christ the Saviour.
Fourthly, I have also shewed you, how you should know the one from the other, by their several effects.
The first light convinces of sins, but of none other than sins against the law; neither doth it shew the soul a Saviour, or deliver (for that is the work of the Spirit) from the curse wherewith it doth curse it. But I shewed you, that when the Spirit of Christ comes and works effectually, it doth not only shew men their sins against the law, but also shews them their lost condition, if they believe not in the righteousness, blood, death, resurrection, and intercession of Jesus Christ, the Son of Mary, the Son of God (John 6:44, 16:24; Matt 3:17; Heb 1:9). And thus much I thought necessary to be spoken at this time, touching the nature of conviction.
THIRD. Now in the third Place. Though I have spoken something to this thing already, namely, concerning our Lord the Saviour, yet again, in few words, through grace, I shall shew, that he was made, that is, born of a woman, and made under the law, to redeem them that are under the law. My meaning is, That God is our Saviour.
First, And for this, see Isaiah 45:15 where you have these words, 'Verily, thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour': And verse 21, 22 you have these words, 'Who hath declared this from ancient time? -- Have not I the LORD? And there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth': Why, who art thou? 'For I am God, and there is none else.' Also in Isaiah 54:5 'For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called.' Read also verses 6-8 of that chapter. I could abundantly multiply scriptures to prove this to be truth, but I shall only mind you of two or three, and so pass on; the first is in Jude, verse 25, 'To the only wise God our Saviour be glory.' And Acts 20:23; John 3:16; 1 John 5:20.
Object. But you will say, How is God a Saviour of sinners, seeing his eyes are so pure that he cannot behold iniquity (Hab 1:13).
Answ. For answer hereunto. 'When the fulness of the time was come' wherein the salvation of sinners should be actually wrought out, 'God sent forth his Son, [which Son is equal with the Father (John 1:1, 17:5, 10:30)] made of a woman, made under the law,' (that is, he was subject to the power and curse of the law) to this end, 'to redeem them that [are, or] were under the law' (Gal 4:4,5), that is, to deliver us 'from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us' (Gal 3:13). From whence take notice, that when the salvation of sinners was to be actually wrought out, then God sent forth the everlasting Son of his love into the world, clothed with the human nature, according to that in John 1:14; Hebrews 2:14 and 1 Timothy 3:16 which saith, 'God was manifest in the flesh,' that is, took flesh upon him.
Second, This Son of God, which is equal with the Father, did in that flesh, which he took upon him, completely fulfil the whole law: So that the Apostle saith, 'Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth' (Rom 10:4). This righteousness which this Christ did accomplish, is called, 'The righteousness of God' (Rom 3:22). This righteousness of God, is by the faith of Jesus Christ, unto all, and upon all them that believe: My meaning is, it is imputed to so many as shall by faith lay hold on it. This is also part of the meaning of that speech of the Apostle: 'As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ' (Gal 3:27). That is, by faith have put on the righteousness of Christ, with the rest of that which Christ hath bestowed upon you, having accomplished it for you. This is also the meaning of the Apostle (Col 2:9,10) where he saith, 'for in him [that is the Son of Mary, (1:13,14)] dwelleth all the fulness of the godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him.' That is, in his obedience and righteousness; which also the Apostle himself doth so hard press after (Phil 3:8,9), saying, 'doubtless, and I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord'; which Lord was crucified by the Jews, as it is in 1 Corinthians 2:8 'for whom, [that is for Christ,] I have suffered the loss of all things [as well the righteousness of the law, in which I was blameless (Phil 3:6) as all other things] and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ: And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith': which is 'unto all, and upon all them that believe' (Rom 3:22). That place also in the ninth of Daniel (vv 24,25), holdeth forth as much where prophesying of the Messias, he saith, that it is he that came 'to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness.' Now that the righteousness of the Son of Mary is it, mind the 26th verse, where he saith thus, 'And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off,' that is, Christ shall be crucified, 'but not cut off,' that is, Christ shall be crucified, 'but not for himself,' that is, not for any sin that he hath committed; for he committed none. Then surely, it must be for the sins of the people (John 11:50), as the high priest said, 'It is expedient for us that one man should die for the people,' which man was the true Messias (Dan 9:24), which also is the Son of Mary (Matt 1:18-23). And the Son of God (Matt 3:17). And also the true God (1 John 5:20). And this Messias, this Son of the Virgin, this Son of God, this true God, did not die for himself, for he had not offended; neither did he fulfil the law or finish transgression, and bring in everlasting righteousness for himself, for he had not sinned (1 Peter 2:22), therefore it must of necessity follow, that this righteousness of God, this everlasting righteousness, is imputed to all, and upon all them that believe (Rom 3:22; 2 Cor 5:19-21). But,
Thirdly, this Messias, this Son of Mary, this Son of God, this true God, he was put to death for the sins that his children had committed, according to that saying, 'Herein perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us' (1 John 3:16). Also in Acts 20:28 the apostle speaking to the pastors of the churches, saith, 'feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.' See also Zechariah 12:10.
Now, I would not be mistaken. I do not think, or say, that he died in his divine nature, but as it is written, he in his own body on the tree did bear our sins (1 Peter 2:24); which tree was the cross (Col 2:14). And as the apostle saith again, who 'when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high' (Heb 1:3). And again, the apostle speaking of this glorious God, saith on this wise, (being before speaking of his godhead) in Colossians 1:19-22, 'For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of his cross by him to reconcile all things to himself: by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, who were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.' But how? why in verse 22 he tells you, that it is 'in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight.' That is, Christ, who is the true God, after that he had finished all actual obedience on earth, did in the power and strength of his godhead (John 19:30, 10:18) yield up himself to the wrath of his Father, which was due to poor sinners (and that willingly) (Isa 63:3) [see Heb 9:14 and read that verse with understanding] according to that saying in 1 Peter 3:18, 'For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust': That is, the Son of God for poor sinners: 'that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.' Again (1 Peter 4:1), 'Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us [not for himself (Dan 9:26)] in the flesh, [in his own body which he took of the Virgin (1 Peter 2:24)] arm yourselves likewise with the same mind': That is, let us die to sin as he did, that we might live to God as he did, and doth (Rom 6:10). And thus have I briefly showed you.
I. That the Son of Mary is very God.
II. That he made the world.
III. That he is our Saviour, and how.
IV. That he died for sinners, and how, namely, not in his divine nature, but in his human, in his own body, and in his own flesh (Col 1:22) redeeming his church with his own blood (Acts 20:28) and with his own life (1 John 3:16; John 10:18).
We shall now pass on to some other things (the Lord willing) touching his burial, resurrection, ascension, intercession, second coming, resurrection of the body, and eternal judgment.
HIS BURIAL PROVED. -- I shall prove by several scriptures that he was buried, and so pass on. Therefore see that place, Matthew 27 verse 57 and so forward. After that Jesus the Son of God had been crucified a while, he gave up the ghost; that is, he died; and after he had been awhile dead, Joseph of Arimathea went into Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave consent thereto. And Joseph took the body of Jesus and wrapped it in clean linen, and laid it (viz. the body of Jesus) in his own tomb, and rolled a stone upon the mouth of the sepulchre, and departed. Also in Luke 23:51-53. The apostle Paul also teacheth so much (1 Cor 15:3,4) where he saith, 'For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scripture; And that he was buried.' Again, in Acts 13:29 the apostle speaking there of Jesus Christ, saith, 'And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre.' And so much touching the burial of Jesus Christ the Son of God.
RESURRECTION. In the next place, I am to prove, That that very man, whom the Jews did crucify between two thieves, called Jesus Christ, did rise again. That very man, with that very body wherewith he was crucified upon the cross, did rise again out of the grave in which he was laid. And this I shall prove 1. by scripture, 2. by the testimony of angels, 3. by Christ's own words after he was risen, and 4. by the testimony of the apostles in the scripture.
First therefore consider, Psalm 16 verse10 where the prophet speaks on this wise of Christ's resurrection; 'For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.' Which words the Apostle Peter cites in Acts 2 from verse 22 to 32, also Isaiah 26:19 in the person of Christ saith, 'Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they rise.' See also John 20:15, 16 where mention is made of his appearing unto Mary Magdalene, and he called her Mary, and she called him master; which signifies that he was risen, and that she knew him after his resurrection; for he was come out of the grave, see verses 6, 7, 8. Again, another scripture is that in Luke 24:1-3. The disciples of Jesus coming to the sepulchre, thinking to anoint the body of Jesus, found the stone that was on the mouth of the sepulchre rolled away; and when they went in, they found not the body of the Lord Jesus; and at this they were troubled and perplexed (v 4). But as two of them went up to Emmaus, and were talking of what had befallen to Jesus, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them (v 15). Another scripture is that in Mark 16:9 which saith on this wise, 'Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalen, out of whom he had cast seven devils.' Where take notice how the Holy Ghost lays it down in these words, out of whom he had cast seven devils. To intimate to us the certainty, that it was the same Jesus that was born of the virgin Mary, who did many miracles, and cured many diseases, who did also cast seven devils out of Mary Magdalen, that did rise again. Yea, saith the Holy Ghost, it was the same Jesus that did work such a wonderful miracle on Mary, he appeared to her first, out of whom he had cast seven devils. And let these scriptures suffice to prove the resurrection of the Son of God.
Second, you shall have the testimony of the holy angels also by the scriptures. And first look into Mark 16:3-7 the words are these, 'And they [viz. the disciples] said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone?' They had a good mind to see their Lord, but they could not, as they thought, get away the stone which covered the mouth of the sepulchre. 'And when they looked [that is, towards the sepulchre] they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man [that is, an angel] sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and They [the disciples] were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted [you have no cause for it] Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen, he is not here; behold the place where they laid him.' What scripture can be plainer spoken than this? Here is an angel of the Lord ready to satisfy the disciples of Jesus, that he was risen from the dead. And lest they should think it was not the right Jesus he spoke of, Yes, saith he, it is the same Jesus that you mean; you seek Jesus of Nazareth, do you not? Why he is risen, he is not here. But do you speak seriously, and in good earnest? Yea surely, if you will not believe me, behold the place where they laid him. This scripture, or testimony is very clear to our purpose. But again, the next place is in Matthew 28:3-7. In the third verse there is an angel (as before) bearing witness of the resurrection of Jesus. 'His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto them, [viz. to the women who came to seek Jesus] Fear not ye': but let them that seek to keep the Lord in his grave fear if they will; for you have no ground of fear, who seek Jesus who was crucified; He is not here, for he is risen; he cannot be in body here and risen too: If you will not believe me, come, see where the Lord lay, and go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and behold, he goeth before you into Galilee, there shall you see him. But shall we be sure of it? Yea, saith the angel, Lo, it is I that have told you. See how plainly this scripture also doth testify of Christ his resurrection. Here, saith the angel, you seek a Saviour and none will content you but he, even the same that was crucified: Well you shall have him, but he is not here. Why, where is he then? He is risen from the dead. But are you sure it is the same that we look for? Yea, it is the same that was crucified (v 5). But where should we find him? why, he goeth before you into Galilee, where he used to be in his life-time, before he was crucified: And that you might be sure of it, there to find him, know that he is an angel of God that hath told you (v 7). And thus have you in brief the testimony of the angels of God, to witness that Jesus the son of the virgin, the Son of God, is risen from the dead.
Object. But you will say, might they not be deceived? Might not their eyes dazzle, and they might think they did see such a thing, when indeed there was no such matter?
Ans. Well, because it is so difficult a matter, to be persuaded of the truth of this thing, that Christ is raised again out of the grave, that very man, with that very body; though these things that have been already spoken, might be enough (through grace) to satisfy, yet because of the unbelief of some, we shall turn to some more of those infallible proofs that are spoken of in Acts 1:3 to prove the point yet more clear.
Third, Do but see how the Lord doth deal with an unbelieving disciple (John 20:23-29). You shall see in the 23d verse, Christ after his resurrection is talking with his disciples, but Thomas was not with them. But when the disciples saw him again, they said unto him, We have seen the Lord (v 25) but Thomas would not believe them. Another time Jesus comes to his disciples again, and then Thomas was with them; then so soon as the Lord had said, 'Peace be unto you,' he turned himself to Thomas, and said to him; 'Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing' (v 27). As much as if the Lord should have said, Come Thomas, thou hast doubted of the truth of my resurrection very much; thou sayest that thou wilt not believe, except thou do feel with thy fingers the print of the nails, and do thrust thy hand into my side. Come Thomas, reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands, and see if there were not the nails driven through them; and reach hither thy hands and thrust them into my side, and feel if I have not the very hold in it still, that was made with the spear that the soldier did thrust into it, and be not so full of unbelief, but believe that my resurrection is a glorious truth.
Another infallible proof, is that in Luke 24 from the 36th, to the end of the 44th verse. In verse 30 it is said that the Lord, (even while they were talking) 'stood in the midst of them and saith unto them, Peace be unto you': But they were so far from being at peace, that they were terrified, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And Jesus said to them, 'Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?' What, do you think that I am a spirit? Do you think your eyes dazzle? 'Behold my hands and my feet.' Look well upon me, and see my hands, and the holes in them, and likewise my feet, and the holes in them, and know that it is I myself, and not a spirit, as you suppose. Know, that it is I myself, and not another. Doth your hearts fail you? Then take hold of me with your hands, yea, 'handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken he shewed them his hands and his feet.' As if he had said, Come my disciples, take special notice of me, do not be daunted, nor affrighted, but consider that it is I myself. Well, they could not believe as yet, but wondered that such a thing as this should be: And while they were thus wondering he will give them another infallible proof: And 'he said unto them, have you here any meat?' (v 41). As if the Lord had said, Come my disciples, I see that you are very full of unbelief, if you have here any meat, you shall see me eat before you all. And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb, 'And he took it, and did eat before them.' Again (v 42), the Lord strives with another infallible proof against their doubting, saying, My disciples, do you not remember what discourse you and I had before I was crucified, how that I told you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets concerning me (Mark 8:31, 14:21). Another infallible proof was, that appearance of his at the sea of Tiberias, where he came to them on the shore, and called them, and provided for them a dinner, and wrought a notable miracle while he was there with them at that time, namely, the catching of 153 great fishes, and yet their net break not. (John 21, read that whole chapter, and Acts 10:41.) Which as it was a great miracle, so it did also show his power and authority over his creatures. Besides his eating and drinking with his disciples after his resurrection; and also his preaching to them (Acts 1:3). This is not the least, viz. that he was with his disciples on earth forty days, which was almost six weeks, speaking to them the things concerning his kingdom: which was a mighty confirmation of their faith in his resurrection.
Fourth, I shall now briefly touch two or three scriptures, the which hold forth his disciples' testimony of his resurrection. And the first is in Acts 10:40, 41. In which place the Apostle speaking of the Lord Jesus, saith, 'Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly,' yet 'Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us [saith the Apostle] who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.' Again, Acts 4:10 and 13:29-31. The words run thus (the Apostle speaking of Jesus, saith) 'And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people.' See 1 Corinthians 15:1-8. And thus far touching his resurrection from the dead.
ASCENSION. In the next place I am to prove that this very man, Christ Jesus, the Son of the virgin, in his very body, the same body that was crucified, is above the clouds and the heavens. And though this is made light of by those men called quakers, and other infidels of this generation: Yet I am sure that it will prove true to their cost, who reject it as erroneous and vain. But to prove it, First, I shall prove that he is ascended. Secondly, that he is ascended above the clouds, and the heaven.
First, that he is ascended, see Ephesians 4:8-10. 'Wherefore [saith the Apostle] When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth, he that descended is the same also that ascended [again] up far above all heavens.'
Again, read John 20:17 where Christ after his resurrection from the dead, saith to Mary Magdalen, 'Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father': That is, I have not yet ascended with this my body wherewith I was crucified on the cross. 'But go to my brethren, and say unto them [meaning his disciples] I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God and your God.'
Object. But in that place, (may some say) (Eph 4:10) He that descended, is said to be the same that ascended. Now there was no human nature with God in heaven before the world was; Therefore if he be but the same that was with the Father from all eternity, then the humanity of the Son of Mary is not ascended into heaven.
Ans. For answer, It is clear from John 1:1 that the Word or Son of God, as he was a Spirit, was with the Father before the world was (Titus 1:2). But now, in the fulness of time, that is, when that time that the Father and he had concluded on, was come, 'God sent forth his son [which was with him before the world was (John 17:5)] made of a woman' (Gal 4:4); that is, born of a woman. 'And took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men' (Phil 2:6,7). Now as he was born of a woman, as he was in the likeness of men, so he ascended to the right hand of his Father, in our nature. And for this, I pray turn to Acts 1:9-11 and there you shall find, that he is the same that was born of the virgin, that very man that was crucified; if you compare verse 3 with verses 9, 10, 11 you will find it so to be. Now in verse 9 after he had spoken many things while they beheld, that is, while his disciples looked on him, he was taken up, that is, he was taken up from them into heaven, as in verse 11 and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked up stedfastly towards heaven, as he went up (which heaven, was not within them; if it had, they needed not to have looked toward the clouds and the heaven without them) behold two men stood by them, not in them, in white apparel, which also said (that is, the two men, or angels which stood by them said) Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? Here again, they did not look within them, but stood gazing or looking after the Lord Jesus, the Son of Mary, who was carried away from them in a cloud (v 9). But why (say the angels) do you stand gazing so much into heaven: your master will come again after a certain time (Matt 25:19; Mark 13:34). For, This same Jesus, namely, which was crucified, which rose again, and hath been with you these forty days, which also you see go into heaven, shall so come, (namely in a cloud) as ye have seen him go into heaven (Acts 1:3). But shall he not lose his body before he come again? No say the angels, he shall so come, that is, as ye have seen him go; in like manner, that is, with the same body. Or else I am sure he cannot come in the same manner, if he lose his body before he comes again; for he went thither with that body. But that same Jesus that was crucified, is he that went, or ascended up into heaven. If you compare Luke 24:39-44 with the 50th and 51st verses of the same chapter, you may clearly find it so to be. And therefore if he come again in like manner, he must come again with the same body wherewith he was crucified.
Object. But you will say, The scripture saith, he that descended is the same that ascended, which to me (say you) implies, none but the Spirit's ascending?
Ans. For answer, we do not say, (as I said before) that it is another that ascended, but the very same: That is, the very same Christ, that was with the Father from everlasting did come down from heaven: That same Christ also that came down from heaven did ascend up thither again; only, he descended without a body from heaven, and took flesh and blood upon him from the virgin. And though he descended without a body, yet he, the very same Christ that descended without a body, the same did ascend again with a body, even that very body that he took of the virgin Mary. See Luke 24 from 39th to 51st verses; Acts 2:30, 31; John 15:1; 1 Corinthians 9:24, 25. Now let me give you a similitude, for it is warrantable; for both Christ and his apostles did sometimes use them, to the end, souls might be better informed. The similitude is this, Suppose there come into thine house a man that is naked, and without clothing, though he go out of thy house again well clothed, yet the same man that came in without clothing, is the same man also that goes out of thy house, though very well clothed. Even so it is in this case, The Lord Jesus came into the womb of the virgin, Spirit (Matt 1:18), but he came out of the womb clothed with a body, and went up into heaven again clothed with a body. Compare Luke 24:39 with Acts 1:11 and 2 :30, 31.
Now also I shall lay down some few things to be considered, for the better clearing of it.
Consider 1. That he did say to his disciples that he would go away from them (John 14:3, 16:7; Matt 25:19). Yea, saith he, I go and prepare a place for you, and then I will, after a long time, come again, and take you to myself, that where I am, that is, whither I am going, there ye may be also. Now, I say, if Christ had not gone from his disciples (for that was his meaning) touching his bodily presence; I say, if he had not gone away from them, in respect of his bodily presence, he had said more than he had performed; which is horrible blasphemy once to assert; which going of his, is his going into heaven. See 1 Peter 3:22.
Consider 2. That there it was that he was to receive the promise of the Father (Luke 24:49), which promise was the shedding forth in an abundant manner the blessed Holy Ghost. And for this see Acts 2:33-36, 'Therefore being by the right hand of God [which is in heaven] exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, the Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly [for 'tis very true] that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.'
Consider 3. That if he were on earth, he could not be a priest (Heb 8:4). Now the man Christ Jesus is a glorious priest (Heb 7:24) in the heavens (Heb 9:24). And therefore he is able to save to the uttermost, all that come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. (This man (7:25)).
Consider 4. If he be not gone into heaven, both his own, and his Apostles' doctrine is false; yea, the witness of the angels also, which to think were damnable infidelity in any man (1 Peter 3:22; Acts 1:9-11).
Consider 5. Know that he is gone into heaven, because the scriptures say he is; which is the very truth of God, spoken by his holy Apostles and prophets: Yea, holy men of God, spake them as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (Eph 6:9; 1 Peter 3:22; Heb 9:24).
Consider 6. If thou sayest that that man is not gone into heaven, then thou must also conclude that he is still in the grave; and if so, then thou sayest that the prophets, apostles, angels, Christ, God, and all are liars, who have testified these things in the scriptures for glorious truths (Isa 26:19; Acts 10:40-43, 13:30-39, 1:9-11; Rev 1:17,18, 2:8). And as the Apostle saith of himself, and the rest of the Apostles and ministers of Jesus Christ, 'And we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. -- But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept. For as by man came death, by MAN came also the resurrection of the dead' (1 Cor 15:15,20-22).
Second, Now I am to prove, that he is above the clouds and the heavens. My meaning is, he is above the lowest heavens. For there are three, as appears in 2 Corinthians 12:1-4. I knew a man in Christ, (saith Paul there) caught up into the third heaven. Now,
Heaven in scripture, is taken sometimes metaphorically, and sometimes properly. First, Metaphorically it is taken for the church and people of God, as in Revelation 12:12. Second, Properly, it is taken for the material heaven, where the sun, moon, and stars are placed, as in Genesis 1:8, 14, 15, 16 compared together: above which heaven, Jesus the Son of Mary is ascended. Therefore I pray you consider with me a little.
Consider 1. That when he went into this heaven into which he is gone, he went AWAY from his disciples, as it is written, If I go not away, the comforter will not come (John 14:2,3; John 16:7; Acts 1:9-11). So that he did not go into a heaven within them in his person and human nature. If so, he must needs go into that heaven without, above the clouds and the stars (Gen 1:8,5,16).
Consider 2. He was caught away in a cloud; yea, and was caught upwards from them, as it is Acts 1:9-11 and carried away into heaven; yea, and his disciples stood gazing or looking up after him into heaven, which heaven must needs be that above the clouds. (1.) If you consider the posture of the disciples, they looked upwards after the cloud that did take him away. (2.) Consider the manner of his going, it was in a cloud. (3.) He was received out of their sight. (4.) And so received up into heaven; which heaven must needs be above the clouds, where God is in his special presence (Job 22:12-14). But further,
Consider 3. That those believers that are alive at this day in the body, 'are absent from the Lord' (2 Cor 5:6), but now, if the man Christ were ascended into that heaven within them, he would neither be 'absent from them,' nor they from him; but in that he is absent from them touching his bodily presence, and they from him touching the same, it is evident that that heaven into which he is ascended, must needs be without, above the clouds.
Consider 4. That that heaven into which the man Christ is ascended, must contain him till the time of the restitution of all things, as in Acts 3:21 into which heaven he hath been ascended above sixteen hundred years by computation. And I am sure there is not a saint that doth live in the world half so long, before he fall asleep, and be gathered to his fathers; so that that heaven into which he is ascended, is not within, but must needs be that above the clouds. But
Consider 5. That he that ascended from his disciples, was a man, with flesh and bones, not a sprit only; for handle me, and see, (saith he) for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have (Luke 24:39,50,51). Now let the adversaries show by the scriptures, that there is any place in them called heaven, that is able to contain a man of some four or five feet long, the space of fifteen or sixteen hundred years; besides that: therefore, it must needs be that heaven without, which is above the clouds and stars.
Consider 6. That heaven into which the Lord Jesus that man is ascended must not contain him always; for, saith the Apostle (1 Thess 4:16) 'The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel.' So that there is another descending from that heaven into which he is ascended; and his descending from that heaven is to this end, namely, to take his people to himself, as it is verse 17 so that it is clear that it is not any heaven within thee, into which the man Christ that was born of the Virgin Mary is ascended, but it must needs be that heaven without, which is above the clouds (Heb 12:22). If thou consider, that the place into which he ascended, even the heaven into which he is entered, is the same place where all the deceased saints are in their spirits: 'Therefore,' saith Paul, 'I desire to depart, and to be with Christ, which is far better.' Now Paul did not in this place (Phil 1:23) mean the enjoying of Christ only in the Spirit; for that he enjoyed in great measure when he spake these words; but he spake of a dying, and being with Christ after this life is ended; as is clear if you compare the 20th to the 26th verses together, being absent from him while he was here in the body (2 Cor 5:6). For 'whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.'
Consider 7. That that heaven into which the man Christ is ascended, is not into his church on earth; but into heaven without, above the clouds and the stars (John 16:7, 14:1-3; 1 Tim 2:5). And this David doth prophesy of (Psa 47:5), where he saith, 'God is gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.' Now Christ, as God merely, could not go up, being no less in one place than another; but as God-man, or in his human nature, he went up; as will clearly appear (Eph 4:8-10) where he speaketh of his triumph over all the enemies of his people at his resurrection and ascension into heaven above the clouds.
Consider 8. When Christ doth descend from that heaven into which he is now ascended, his saints and he will meet one another, just in the air, according to the scripture (1 Thess 4:16,17), 'For,' (saith he) 'the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: [that is, they shall come out of their graves]. Then we which [shall be saved] are alive [at that day] and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.'
Pray mark here a little, and see what heaven the man Christ is ascended into, and see if it be not the heaven without, above the sun, moon, and stars.
When Christ and his saints do meet a second time together, the one ascends and the other descends; the one is caught up in the clouds towards the heaven, the other descends from heaven towards the earth, and they must needs meet one another just in the air, that is, between the heaven and the earth. So then, the one coming from heaven and the other from the earth, and their meeting being in the air, which is between heaven and earth, is an undeniable demonstration, that that heaven into which the man Christ is ascended, must needs be that heaven without, above the sun, moon, and stars (Phil 3:20; 1 Thess 1:10). And thus much touching the Son of Mary, his ascending up into the heaven without above the clouds (Acts 1:9-11, 3:21; 1 Peter 3:22).
INTERCESSION. In the next place, now I shall prove the intercession of the man Christ Jesus to be in the heaven that I have been speaking of; though some have mocked at it, and others have called it juggling; which names here I shall not mention, only I shall admonish them, that they do not blaspheme the truth and Son of God in his intercession.
I shall quote some of the scriptures that hold out this truth, and so pass on.
First, And first of all, see Psalm 16:4 where David prophesying of the intercession of Christ, saith, 'Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another God, [speaking of the wicked] their drink-offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.' Now, compare this with Hebrews 8:4 where he saith, 'if he were on earth, he should not be a priest.' And Hebrews 9:24, 'For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, [meaning the temple which Solomon built] which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us': 'wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost, that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them' (Heb 7:25).
Second, But you will say, is there a man made mention of here? Yes, for the scripture saith, 'There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus' (1 Tim 2:5). And in that 8th to the Hebrews made mention of before; where the Apostle is speaking of Christ's priestly office, as he is in the heavens, compared with other priests that are on earth; he saith (v 3), 'For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore [speaking of Christ] it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer. For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law,' which law was the law of Moses (9:19-23), where also he is speaking of the priesthood of the priests under the law, and their offering of the blood of bulls and goats (v 12 compared with vv 19-21). And of the Lord Jesus the high priests of saints, and of his blood (v 14 compared with v 24). Now as men under the law did offer up the blood of bulls and goats, so the man Christ Jesus did offer up his own blood to his Father; and this you may clearly see, if you compare Hebrews 9:14 where he saith, 'How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your consciences from dead works to serve the living God?' [with] Hebrews 10:12 where he saith, 'But this man [meaning the Son of the Virgin (2:14 compared with Matt 1:21)] after he had offered one sacrifice for sins, for ever sat down on the right hand of God'; again (Heb 7) the chapter I mentioned before, you shall find his intercession plainly held forth, if you read verse 22 and so on, where the scripture saith, 'By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests [meaning the priests under the law] because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death': (that is, the high-priest under the law, could not live ever in this world, because it was appointed to all men once to die) (Rev 2:8). But when he speaks of Christ Jesus, he saith on this wise, 'But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood' (Rev 1:18). Wherefore he (this man) is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he (this man) ever liveth to make intercession for them. And thus in brief have I proved through the assistance of the Lord, the intercession of the Son of Mary, which is also the Son of God. And this concerning Christ's priestly office, might serve also for a proof of his being in the heaven without, above the stars. But all men may see (unless they be blind) that these are the truths of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of God his Father; and that those men that oppose them (as the quakers do) are very violently possessed of the devil, and besides themselves; and have neither the truth of God, nor his Spirit in them (2 John 9:10; John 5:38,42).
[CHRIST JUDGE OF QUICK AND DEAD.] And now through the assistance of the Lord, I shall come to the last that I promised, and that is to prove, that this very man Christ, will come to judge the quick and the dead. And first, I shall prove the truth itself, viz., That that man shall come again to judge the world, quick and dead. Second, I shall shew you that his coming will be very shortly. Third, What shall be done at his coming. fourth, Who shall stand when he shall come, and who not.
First, That that man that was born of the Virgin Mary shall come again to judge the quick and the dead, read 2 Timothy 4:1. 'I, [saith Paul] charge thee therefore before God, [speaking to him, even to Timothy, and so to all believers] and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.' Now if you would know who this Lord Jesus is, look into Acts 10:28 and you shall see it was Jesus of Nazareth; would you know who that was? read Matthew 2 towards the end, and you shall see it was the Son of Mary the Virgin, who was espoused to Joseph the carpenter. But read Acts 10:38-42, you shall find these words, 'God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with the power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him: And we are witness of things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree, [even Jesus of Nazareth] Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, [that is, God commanded us] and to testify [that is, to be bold in our preaching] that it is he [namely, Jesus of Nazareth, whom the Jews did thus crucify] which was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead.' This is he also that is spoken of in Acts 17:30, 31. 'The times of this ignorance God winked at; [meaning men's being without the gospel] but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent: Because he hath appointed a day [which day is the day of judgment (Matt 12:36)] in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man [namely, Jesus of Nazareth] whom he hath ordained, [compare this with that in Acts 10:38-42] whereof he hath given assurance unto all men [that is, hath given a sure sign unto all men] in that he hath raised him, [that is, in that he hath raised Jesus of Nazareth] from the dead.' This also is Christ's own meaning (Matt 24) where speaking of his second coming, he styleth himself the Son of man, saying: 'And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man' (v 30), and 'so shall also the coming of the Son of man be' (v 27). So shall also the coming of the Son of man be (v 37). So shall also the coming of the Son of man be (v 39). Where, by the way, it is observable to see how the Lord of life and glory doth in this chapter, where he speaketh of his second coming, for the most part style himself the Son of man. Sure he doth it to this end, because he will not have his humanity and the doctrine thereof, to be razed out from under heaven: For he knew, that in the last days, there would come mockers 'walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming' (2 Peter 3:3). I could multiply scriptures to prove this doctrine of his second coming, as Hebrews 9:28; 2 Peter 3; 2 Thess 1:6-8; Luke 21; Matt 24, 25; Eve 22:7, 12 and 20; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 14:10; Acts 24:25. But,
Secondly, I will shew you that his coming will be shortly. It is true, no man can tell neither the day nor the hour, yet so far as the scriptures will give us light into the nearness of his coming, so far we may go. And if you read Matthew 24 you shall see many sings of his coming spoken of.
1. There is falling away from the faith spoken of. And that hath been fulfilled and is fulfilling every day.
2. Wars and rumours of wars is another sign that his coming doth draw night, even at the doors.
3. The love of many waxing cold, is another sign that it is nigh, even the coming of Christ. And how cold is the love of many at this day? They that were hot two or three years ago, are now grown lukewarm and cold. They are cold in the Lord's appearing. They are cold in the profession of the gospel. They are cold in love to the saints, they are cold in the worship of God; Yea, very cold, which is a notable demonstration that the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
4. The stars falling from heaven; (That is professors falling from the faith which once they professed) is another sign that the coming of the Lord is at hand. And how many professors do you see now a-days, fall from the doctrine of God, and his Son Jesus Christ, as though there were no such thing as a world to come, and no such thing as a Lord Jesus Christ, and his second coming.
5. Many poor souls will go on in their profession with lamps without oil, just before his second coming (Matt 25:1-7). And the Lord knows that most of the professors of this generation, are such kind of professors, yea, very foolish professors, which is another sure sign, that the coming of the Lord draws nigh.
6. When the time of Christ's second coming is at hand, there will be but a very little faith in the world. And the Lord knows, that there be many, who are now as high as lucifer, that at that day for want of faith will be thrown down to the sides of the pit: even in the very belly of hell.
7. Another sign of Christ's second coming, is the carnal mindedness of the most of the world; and the very carriages of almost all men now living do discover this truth to be at this day fulfilled, and know that when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction comes, and they shall not escape (1 Thess 5:1-4).
8. Before Christ's second coming, there shall come many false Christs and false prophets, and shall shew great signs, and wonders, to seduce if it were possible the elect (Matt 24:24; Mark 13:22). And is not this more clearly fulfilled in our days than ever it was, especially among those men called quakers, who being as persons, whose consciences are seared with an hot iron, and they being sealed up unto destruction, do some of them call themselves Christ, and shew great signs, (as their quaking) and such a legal holiness, as makes the simple admire them, and wonder after them, which shews the coming of Christ to be very nigh.
9. Before Christ's second coming, there shall come scoffers in the world, walking after their own lusts (2 Peter 3:3) and if ever this scripture was fulfilled, it is fulfilled on these men called quakers: For they are the men, that at this day make a mock at Christ's second coming, which shall be from heaven without (1 Thess 1:10; Phil 3:20); and therefore saith the Holy Ghost, these mockers shall be such as shall say, where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were, see 2 Peter 3:3-7. And there you shall see their mocking and the reason of it. Read and the Lord give thee understanding. But I would not have thee think that I speak at random, in this thing, Know for certain, that I myself have heard them blaspheme; yea, with a grinning countenance, at the doctrine of that man's second coming from heaven above the stars, who was born of the Virgin Mary. Yea, they have told me to my face, that I have used conjuration, and witchcraft, because what I preached was according to the scriptures. I was also told to my face, that I preached up an idol, because I said, that the Son of Mary was in heaven, with the same body that was crucified on the cross; And many other things have they blasphemously vented against the Lord of life and glory, and his precious gospel. The Lord reward them according as their work shall be.
I could have hinted in many other things which Christ and his Apostles have shewed to be signs of his coming. But I shall commend the holy scriptures unto thee, which are able to make the man of God perfect in all things, through faith in the Lord Jesus (2 Tim 3:17).
Now you have also the manner of his coming how it shall be, most notably laid down in the scriptures. I shall hint in a few things touching it.
1. He will come when there is but very few looking for his coming. 'When they shall say, peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh' (1 Thess 5:1-3). Which sudden destruction will be at his second coming, for that is it which the Apostle spake of in those three verses. Then will all the world be caught at such an unexpected time, that it will come upon them, even as a snare cometh upon those creatures that are caught in it. As it is written (Luke 21:35) 'For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.' Which is all on a sudden, before they are aware.
2. He cometh with all his saints and angels. Then will the Lord descend from that heaven, into which he is now ascended, as it is written in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Then will he come, and all his saints with him, as Jude saith in his Epistle, 15. then shall Abel and Enoch, Noah and Abraham, David and Job, Peter and Paul: Together with all the saints which have been, now are, or hereafter shall be, and they shall sit on the throne with the Lord Jesus Christ, as in Matthew 19:28. Before whom shall all the nations of the world be gathered, as it is written (Joel 3:12). 'Let the heathen be wakened [or raised out of their graves (Dan 12:2)] and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge the heathen round about.' Which never was yet accomplished, though it shall certainly be, in God's time: To the astonishment, and everlasting damnation of all those that shall continue mocking, or sinning against God and his Christ.
3. He shall come in a flaming fire, (when he doth come again: he will come in such a manner, as will make all that shall be found in their sins rather seek to creep under a mountain, than to meet the Lord of glory (Rev 6:15)). As Isaiah saith, 'For, behold, the LORD will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire' (Isa 66:15). 'To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him' (Jude 15), as I shall shew farther by and by.
Third, And therefore in the next place, I shall shew you, what shall be done when he is come.
1. When Christ is come the second time, they that are in their graves shall arise, and come forth of their graves (as I said before) in which they have lain according to that in John 5:28, 29. Where Christ saith, 'Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.' You will say, Are these graves spoken of here, the graves that are made in the earth? Yea, that they are, and for a further proof of the same, look into Daniel 12:2. Daniel there speaking of the same thing saith, 'And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, [or arise] some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt' (or damnation).
I shall not stand here to dispute any distinctions of the resurrections, only prove that the dead shall arise; and that is a clear truth from the scriptures (Acts 10:42; Rev 20:11-14; 1 Thess 4:16; 1 Cor 15:52). 'The dead shall be raised.'
2. He shall call all men and women to an account for all their close sinful thoughts, words and actions; then will the secrets of all hearts be made manifest. Then shall all thy adulterous, and thievish, and covetous, idolatrous, and blasphemous thoughts be laid open, according to that saying, 'Their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean [time, or] while accusing or else excusing one another' (Rom 2:15). But when? Why, 'In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ' (v 16). See also 1 Corinthians 4:5, 'Therefore judge nothing before the time.' What time is that? Why, when the Lord comes; what will he do? He 'will bring to light the hidden things of darkness,' that is, all those cunning, close, hidden wickednesses that thou in thy life-time hast committed; yea, he will 'make manifest the counsels of the hearts'; that is, the most hidden and secret things that are contrived and plotted by the sons of men. Then shall all the midnight whore-mongers be laid open with all their sins; Then thou (it may be) who has committed such sins as thou wouldest not have thy neighbour, thy father, thy wife, thy husband, or any one else know of for thousands, then thou shalt have them all laid open, even upon the house tops (Luke 12:3). Then thou that hatest God's children; his ways, his word, his Spirit; then thou that makest a mock at Jesus of Nazareth's second coming, then thou that livest in open prophaneness, or secret hypocrisy, then I say, will be such a time of reckoning for you, as never was since the world began, then you that shall die in your sins, will cry to the mountains, Fall on us, and cover us from the face of him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb (which Lamb is the Man Christ Jesus (John 1:29)). And ah, my friends! If the very looks of God be so terrible, what will his blows be, think you? Then if all thy idle words shall be accounted for, as it is written, 'But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment' (Matt 12:36) and also all thy filthy actions shall be then regarded in such sort, as thou shalt receive a just recompense for them. And know, saith the scripture, 'that for all these things, God will bring thee into judgment' (Eccl 11:9). Then
Thou that art an unbeliever, shalt be sure to fall under the judgment for all thy sins. (1.) Thou must give an account. (2.) Thou must fall in the judgment. Oh my friends, there are hot days a-coming for all those that are found out of the Lord Jesus: Behold, saith Malachi, 'The day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch' (4:1). The day of judgment will burn like an oven, and all that have not the righteousness of Christ upon them shall be as stubble. Ah friends, put a red hot oven and stubble together, and what work will there be! Even the one will burn and destroy the other.
3. When Christ doth come the second time, another end of his coming will be to pure out all things that offended in this kingdom (Matt 13:41,42). 'The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.' There are many things that do offend in his kingdom now: namely
(1.) The lukewarm professor, he doth offend, (a.) the Lord, (b.) his people. But then thou lukewarm offending professor shalt offend the church of God no more.
(2.) The loose professors do also offend God, Christ and his church. (a.) He scandals the gospel by his loose walking, and naughty carriages. (b.) He doth make the world blaspheme the name of God by the same. (c.) He grieves the hearts of God's people (Phil 3:18). But know that thou also shalt be taken away from offending any more, God, Christ, and his saints, and thou shalt have weeping and gnashing of teeth, for thy thus offending (Matt 18:6,7).
4. Another end of Christ's second coming, is to cut off all the ignorant persons that are in the world. There is a generation of poor souls that do think to be excused for their ignorance: Alas! saith one, I am a poor ignorant man, or woman; and therefore I hope that the Lord will have mercy upon me: we cannot, say others, do as such and such, and will the Lord condemn us? And thus poor souls, as they are in the broad way to destruction, lest they should miss of the way to hell; do swallow down by clusters, that which will poison them, body and soul for ever and ever.
Quest. But you will say, What, will not the Lord have mercy on ignorant souls?
Ans. Not on those who live and die in their ignorance. He himself hath said (Isa 27:11), 'For it is a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.' Again, Paul also in that 2 Thessalonians 1:8 saith, that when Jesus Christ shall come to judge the world, he doth come to take vengeance on all 'them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.'
But ye will say, Who are those ignorant persons, that shall find no favour at that day? or how doth the ignorance discover itself? I shall only mention three or four sorts of men; and leave thee to the scriptures, which if thou read them diligently, will further lay them open before thee. And,
(1.) The profane scoffer, who makes a mock at the truths of God, and so goes on in his sins, for this see in 2 Peter 3:3 which the apostle attributes to their ignorance (v 5). And therefore he likens them to brute beasts (2:10,12) who 'walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness,' and 'speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption'; who because they understand not the scripture, nor the power of God in them, speak evil of the truths therein contained, and think the Lord like unto themselves (Psa 50).
(2.) The formal professor, who hath only a notion of the gospel, and some seeming holiness, but wants gospel faith: such are called foolish virgins (Matt 25:2,3) to whom Christ will say in that day, Verily, 'I know you not.' Add hereto, those that think it enough to confess Christ with their mouths, and profess that they know God, but deny him in their works; such notwithstanding all their profession, shall, if they so continue, perish eternally, being abominable, disobedient, and to every good work reprobate, or void of judgment, that is, ignorant (Titus 1:16).
(3.) The legal righteous man or woman, though they walk blameless, as touching the righteousness that is in the law: For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, go about to establish their own righteousness, as reading, hearing sermons, prayers, public or private, peaceableness with their neighbours, fasting, alms, good works as they count them, just dealings, abstinence from the grosser pollutions of the world, stricter obedience to the commandments of the first and second table; all which with many other things may be comprehended in their own righteousness, and it is grounded on their ignorance, and goes on in rebellion; and such ignorant persons shall in that day perish, not submitting through ignorance to the righteousness of God, Romans 10:3 compared with Luke 19:27 where Christ saith, that when he shall come the second time, he will command those his enemies, who submitted not themselves to him, (who is called the righteousness of God (Isa 46:13)) or would not have him to reign over them, to be slain before his face.
(4.) Those whose hearts are set upon the world, and follow the alluring persuasions of it; the Lord calls such fools (Luke 12:20; Prov 7:7), who go after it (viz. the world, held forth by a similitude of a woman with the attire of an harlot) as an ox to the slaughter, or a fool to the correction of the stocks, till a dart strike through his liver, as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life: and knows not, mark, it is through ignorance (v 23).
5. A fit end of Christ's coming, is, that his righteous ones might shine as the sun in the glory, or kingdom of their father (Matt 13:43). There are many things that do hinder the people of God from shining forth as the sun now.
As, They have a body of death, which makes them fetch many a groan in their journey to Canaan (Rom 7:24; 2 Cor 5:2). They meet with many a sad temptation, which also makes them in heaviness many a time (1 Peter 1:6). They have also many other things that do hinder their shining now; but then the body of death shall be left off. My meaning is, that sin shall be no more in the natures of God's people then: Their bodies that are now so vile, shall then be made like unto the glorious body of the Son of God, '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 3:21).
6. Another end of Christ's coming shall be to take an account of his children, how they have laid out their talents, that he hath committed to their trust (Matt 25:19; Rom 14:12; 2 Cor 5:10).
7. Another end of his coming is, to set up his kingdom, which will be glorious indeed at his appearing (2 Tim 4:1; Rom 8:19-21). I do but touch these things, because I would hasten towards a conclusion; many other things might have been spoken to, but at this time I shall forbear.
But you will say, Who shall stand when he appears? Why, I told you before, that 'the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous' (Psa 1:5). Let him be close or profane, as I told you even now, all shall be laid open, all shall be made manifest, all shall come into judgment.
Ah poor soul! It is not then thy brave words will save thee; it is not thine eloquent tongue that will then do thee any good: if thou be without the wedding garment, thou wilt be speechless, as in Matthew 22:12. But thou that art a converted person, shalt stand in the judgment; thou that art born again shalt enter into the kingdom, and none else (John 3:5; Rev 21:27).
But how shall I know that I am born again?
(1.) Why, if thou art born again, then thou knowest that thou wast not born a Christian at first (Eph 2:1-3). 'You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.'
(2.) Thou knowest that once thou hadst no faith in the Lord Jesus; and wert convinced of sin because thou didst not believe in the Son of Mary (John 16:9).
(3.) Thou seest all true joy through the blood and righteousness of the Son of Mary (1 Cor 15:57; Rom 7:25).
(4.) Art thou born again? Then thou canst not be quiet till thou seest God smile, and lift up the light of his countenance upon thee (2 Cor 4:6; Psa 4:6) and that through the face of the Son of Mary, the Son of God.
(5.) Thou knowest that God hath given thee thy faith (Phil 1:29; Eph 2:8).
(6.) Art thou born again? Then thou knowest that the doctrine of the Son of Mary the Virgin, is a right doctrine (2 John 9).
(7.) Then also thou lookest for the personal appearing of the Son of Mary from heaven in the clouds, the second time (Heb 9:28; Rev 1:7).
These things, though plain, yet if the Lord set them home upon thy conscience, may be profitable both to thee and me. Therefore let us examine the matter a little. And
Examine 1. Thou thinkest that thou art a Christian; thou shouldest be sorry else: Well, But when did God shew thee that thou wert no Christian? When didst thou see that: And in the light of the Spirit of Christ, see that thou wert under the wrath of God because of original sin? (Rom 5:12). Nay, dost thou know what original sin means? Is it not the least in thy thoughts? And dost thou not rejoice in secret, that thou art the same that thou ever wert? If so, then know for certain that the wrath of God to this very day abideth on thee (John 3:36). And if so, then thou art one of those that will fall in the judgment, except thou art born again, and made a new creature (2 Cor 5:17).
Exam.2. Thou thinkest that thou hast been born again, ('tis well if thou hast) but least thou shouldest deceive thy poor soul, I pray thee consider, when did the Spirit of the Lord Jesus shew thee, that thou hadst no faith in thee by nature? And when did the Spirit of Christ convince thee of sin, because thou didst not believe in him? It may be thou hast been convinced of sins against the law, by the law, and thine own conscience, as the Pharisees were (John 8:9; Rom 3:20). Ay, but when didst thou see thyself a lost creature for want of faith in the son of Mary? If not, thou hast not yet been savingly convinced by the Spirit of Christ; for that, when it convinceth effectually of sin, it convinceth of unbelief; though thou hast been never so much convinced of sins against the law, if thou hast not seen thyself under the power and dominion, guilt and punishment of sin, because thou didst not believe in Christ, thou hast not yet been savingly convinced; for that's one work of the Spirit to convince of sin, 'Because they believe not on me,' saith Jesus the Son of Mary, who was espoused to Joseph the carpenter: But on the contrary, dost thou not say in thy heart, thou never hadst thy faith to seek, but hast always believed with as good a faith as any one alive? If so, then know for certain that thou hast no faith of the operation of God in thee, according to God's ordinary working; and if so, then know, that if the Son of Man should come to judge the world at this moment of time, that thou with all thy faith (thou thinkest thou hast) wouldst fall in the judgment (2 Thess 2:12).
Exam.3. Art thou born again? Then thou seest that thy great sin was want of faith in the Son of Mary. Then thou seest that it is he that was sent of God to die for the sins of the world (John 1:29, 3:16-19; Acts 13:38,39) and that thou art complete in him, without any works of the law (Rom 4:5), then thou rejoicest in Christ Jesus, and puttest no confidence in the flesh (Phil 3:3) yet thou rejoicest in the flesh and blood of the Son of Mary, knowing that his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed (John 6:55) out of which thou wouldest very willingly make thy life all thy days; out of his birth, obedience, death, resurrection, ascension, and glorious intercession, now at the right hand of his Father (Heb 7:24,25), but if thou art wavering in these things, know that thou art but a babe at the best, and for ought thou knowest, God may cut thee off in thy unbelief, and cast thee into utter darkness, where there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Exam.4. Art thou born again? Then thou seest all true peace and joy comes through the blood of the Son of Mary, and his righteousness, as in Romans 7:25 and 1 Corinthians 15:57, there are many poor souls that are taken with raptures of joy, and false conceited consolation (John 16:20) which doth come from the devil, and their own deceitful hearts; but their joy shall be turned into mourning and sorrow of heart (Luke 6:24,25), but thou that art a Christian in deed, and not in word only, rejoicest in Christ Jesus the Son of Mary; yea though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8). And these two things are the fruits of thy faith, and of thy joy.
(1.) The Lord Jesus Christ is very precious unto thee (1 Peter 2:7).
(2.) Thou dost purify thine heart by this faith, and the power of the Spirit of Christ, which thou hast received into thy soul (Rom 8:13; Acts 15:9; John 3:3). But if thy guilt of sin goes off, and convictions go off any other way than by the blood and righteousness of the Man Christ Jesus, thy guilt goes off not right, but wrong, and thy latter end will be a very bitter end without faith and repentance; for it is his blood through which all true peace comes (Col 1:20), and there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we should be saved, but by the Lord Jesus of Nazareth (Acts 4:10-12 compared together).
Exam.5. Art thou born again? Then thou canst not be quiet till thou doest see God lift up the light of his countenance upon thee; yea, thou hast such a desire after the light of God's countenance, that, all the glory, riches, honour, pleasure, profits, &c. of this world will not satisfy, till thou doest see God to be a reconciled Father to thee in the Lord Jesus Christ, as it is Psalm 4:6; John 14:8; Psalm 35:3. Then thou wilt not be quiet till thou dost hear from the Son of Mary, which is the Lord of glory, such a voice as this, Son be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee: And 'my grace is sufficient for thee' (2 Cor 12:9; 1 Cor 2:8). But if thou canst content thyself with anything below this, thou wilt, when all comes to all, be found but a rotten-hearted professor, who will have thy portion among the slothful ones, who will fall in the judgment of the Son of Man, when he comes in flaming fire with his mighty angels (2 Thess 1:8).
Exam.6. Art thou born again? Then thou knowest that God hath given thee thy faith that thou hast in his Son: Then thou art to say through grace, there was a time in which I had no faith; there was a time in which I could not believe in the Son of God for eternal life. 'But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins [and unbelief; which is the greatest;] hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved' (Eph 2:4,5), 'through faith' (v 8).
Exam.7. Art thou born again? Then thou knowest that the doctrine of the Son of God, the Son of Mary, is a right doctrine, which is this:
That the Son of God which was with his Father before the world was (John 1:1, 17:5) came into the world in the fulness of time, and was made in the likeness of man (Phil 2:7) being made of a woman or virgin, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law (Gal 4:4). And that was done in this wise. What the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh; that is, through our flesh; God sending his own Son in likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that is, condemned him in the flesh for the sins of poor sinners: For this, compare Romans 8:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21 with Galatians 3:13 and it will appear clearly to be the truth of God: Also, that this Son of God, which is the true God, as well as the Son of Mary, did bear our sins in his own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24) and did spill his own blood, which is also the blood of God (Acts 20:28), that he died, and was laid in Joseph's sepulchre (John 19:38-42) and rose again the third day (Acts 10:40), that very Man (Luke 24:39-45), and ascended up into heaven in a cloud (Acts 1:9-11) and there ever lives to make intercession for us, that very man (Heb 7:24,25, 8:3, 10:12).
Exam.8. And in the last place, If thou art a Christian, then thou lookest for that very Jesus again, whom the Jews did crucify (John 19), whom God raised again, as it is 1 Thessalonians 1:10. I say, thou lookest, thou waitest, thou hasteneth after the coming of this Lord Jesus, which doth deliver thee from the wrath to come (2 Peter 3:10-12; Heb 9:26-28; 1 Thess 1:10). Yea, thou knowest, that this very man shall so come in like manner, as his disciples did see him go into heaven, which was a very man (Luke 24:39 compared with vv 50,51 of the same chapter). Yea, in a cloud he went away from his disciples, and in the clouds he shall come again (Rev 1:7) to judge all that are in their graves (John 5:28,29; Dan 12:2) and shall receive all that look for, and love his second coming, to himself (Heb 9:27,28). And they shall be for ever with him (1 Thess 4:16,17). But the wicked shall be cast into eternal damnation (Matt 25:46). These things, I say, if thou be a Christian indeed, thou believest, and ownest, and the faith of them doth purify thy heart (1 John 3:3) and wean thee from this world, and the things thereof; and if it is not from this principle; that is, if thy obedience do not flow from this faith, which is the faith of God's elect, as I have proved at large, thy obedience, thy zeal, thy self-denial, thy holiness, righteousness; yea, all that thou canst do, is but sin in the sight of the great God of heaven and earth (Heb 11:6; Rom 14:23). For all true sanctification comes through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, by the operation of the Spirit of God (1 Cor 6:11). 'But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.' And (Cant 1:3), 'Thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.'
Well then, seeing this is a truth of so great concernment, I beseech you, seek to be thoroughly rooted into it by faith. And that thou mayest so be, examine thy heart; yea, beg of God to help thee to examine it, and to throw out all that fancy that thou takest instead of faith; also throw away all thine own wisdom; yea, thy own righteousness also, and come to God in the name of the Son of Mary, which is the Son of God, and beg faith of him, true faith, the faith of the operation of God; such a faith as he gives to his own elect, which will shew thee clearly of these things; so that thou shalt not deceive thyself with a fancy of them; and the advantages will be many.
Advantage 1. It will comfort thy heart against persecutions, temptations, and cross providences, as also James saith to his persecuted brethren; 'Be patient [my brethren, saith he], stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh' (John 5:8).
Advantage 2. It will through grace, wean thy heart and affections abundantly from this world, and the things therein. 'Who is he that overcometh the world, [saith John] but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?' (1 John 5:5). Who is he also that purifies his heart, but he that looketh for the second coming of Christ from heaven to judge the world? as in 1 John 3:3 compared with 2 Peter 3:10, 11.
Advantage 3. Hereby thou wilt be able to judge of all doctrines whatsoever, though they come never so nigh the truth, yet if they be not indeed the very truth, thou wilt find them and their doctrine liars (Rev 2:2; 1 Cor 2:15).
Advantage 4. If thou beest thoroughly set down in this doctrine, even in the faith of this doctrine which I have held forth unto thee, thou wilt not be taken with any other doctrine whatsoever. What is the reason I pray you, that there are so many giddy-headed professors in these days, that do stagger to and fro like a company of drunkards, but this, They were never sealed in the doctrine of the Father, and the Son? They were never enabled to believe that that child that was born of the virgin Mary, was the mighty God (Isa 9:6). No, saith Christ, he that is built upon this rock, (meaning the faith of himself, which is to believe that the son of Mary is the Christ of God (Matt 16:16)) the gates of hell shall not prevail against him (v 18).
Advantage 5. The faith of this doctrine, will make thee labour in the work of God in the world. Oh, it will liven thy heart in the work of the Lord; especially, if thou livest in the faith of thy interest in Christ, it will make thee labour to be found watching when thy Lord shall return from the wedding; that when he doth come, thou mayest open to him immediately (Luke 12:35,36).
Now seeing the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is so nigh, even at the doors, what doth this speak to all sorts of people (under heaven) but this?
Admonition 1. First, to see whether they have oil in their lamps or not; that is, to search and see, whether the Spirit of the Man Christ Jesus be in them or no; for he that hath not the Spirit of Christ in him, is none of Christ's (Rom 8:9). Thou that hast not the Spirit of Christ in thee, why, at that day (let thy profession be what it will) he will say to thee, Depart, I know you not (Matt 25), and if so, then thy latter end will be worse than thy beginning, as in 2 Peter 2:20.
Admonition 2. Then what will become of all the profane, ignorant, scoffers, self-righteous, proud, bastard-professors in the world? If the children of God shall 'scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly, and the sinner appear?' (1 Peter 4:18).
Admonition 3. Then what will become of all those that creep into the society of God's people without a wedding garment on? Why, it will be said unto them, Friends, how came you hither? Take them, and bind them hand and foot, and cast them into utter darkness; 'There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth' (Matt 22:11-13).
Admonition 4. Then what will become of all those that mock at the second coming of the Man Christ, as do the Ranters, Quakers, drunkards, and the like? Why read their doom in Matthew 24:50, 51, 'The Lord of that or these servants, shall come in a day when they look not for him, and in an hour that they are not aware of, and shall cut them asunder, and appoint them their portion with the hypocrites,' And 'there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'
Admonition 5. Then what doth this speak to the Lord's own people? Surely this, that they should be in a watchful posture (Mark 13:37).
(1.) Watch therefore over your own hearts, least they should be over-charged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares; for as a snare shall it come upon all the dwellers upon the face of the earth, as it is in Luke 31:34-36.
(2.) Watch over the devil's temptations. Oh, have a care in the first place, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ: And the rather, because at this day he is very busy with his doctrines, and his ministers; trying all ways, if by any means he might deceive you with fair speeches, and enticing carriages; what a fair shew in the flesh, yet denying the Lord, and refusing to be justified by the blood of Jesus the Son of Mary, the Son of God. Watch I say over the devil touching doctrines, for he labours as much this way as any way, for he knows that if he can but get you to lay a rotten foundation, he is sure of you, live as godly in your conceit as you will, and therefore, it is worth your observation, in that 24th of Matthew when Christ is speaking of the signs of his coming, he breaks forth with a warning word to his disciples, to beware of false teachers (v 4). The very first words that he answers to a question that his disciples put to him is this, 'Take heed that no man deceive you.' Again (v 11), 'And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.' And (v 24) he saith again, 'For there shall [come or] arise, false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.'
(3.) Take heed that he doth not deceive you in point of worship, that he make you not slight any of the ordinances of God; for if he do, he will quickly make way for another temptation.
(4.) Take heed also that you have not your lamps to trim when the bridegroom comes; if you have, you may peradventure be ashamed and blush before him at his coming (1 John 2:28). Therefore content not yourselves with a profession of Christ, and no more, for the devil may deceive, yea, doth deceive a professing people many times. And if he will deceive a professing generation, he must come in this manner: Under the name of Christ. With a fair shew in the flesh of outward holiness (Gal 6:12). He must come 'with good words and fair speeches' (Rom 16:18). Now though he come to drunkards, swearers, whore mongers, thieves, liars, murderers, and covetous persons, in his black colours; yet if he will come to deceive a professing party, he must appear like an angel of light (2 Cor 11:14). And the reason why souls are deceived by him in these his appearances, is, because they are not able to distinguish betwixt the law and the gospel, the convictions of conscience by the law only, and convictions by the Spirit, but do (though they profess the Lord Jesus) give ear to every wind of doctrine, and being unstable, as Peter saith, do fall into the temptations of the devil, in wresting the scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16).
Admonition 6. In a word, you that have not yet laid hold on the Lord Jesus Christ, for eternal life, lay hold upon him; upon his righteousness, blood, resurrection, ascension, intercession, and wait for his second coming to 'judge the world in righteousness' (Acts 17:31). And you that have laid hold, I say to you, lay faster hold on your Lord Jesus, 'Who hath ears to hear, let him hear' (Matt 13:43).
Now, that thou mayest the more clearly understand my faith in the doctrines of God's dear Son, I have thought good to hold forth again the doctrine of the former treatise by way of question and answer, as followeth.
Quest. Seeing there are many false Christs gone out into the world, according as was prophesied of in former times by the Lord himself (Matt 24:5,23). And seeing (if we be saved) we must be saved by a Christ; for he that misses of him (saith the scriptures) cannot be saved, because there is no way to come to the Father but by him, as it is written (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). How therefore, is the knowledge of the true Christ to be attained unto, that we may be saved by him?
Ans. Indeed to know Christ, (God's Christ) is as the scripture saith, the one thing necessary (Luke 10:42), without which all other things will avail nothing: And therefore I shall according to the scriptures, (1.) Tell you what God's Christ is. And, (2.) How the knowledge of him is attained unto. And therefore, God's Christ is true God, and true man. That he is true God, is manifest by that scripture, in Isaiah 9:6 where it is said, 'unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.' Also 1 John 5:20. And we are in him that is true, (saith the apostle) even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. See Hebrews 1:8; John 1:12; Romans 9:5; John 20:28. That he is true man, see again (Isa 9:6) where it is said, 'Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given'; and compare it with Matthew 1:21 where it is said, 'And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins,' see John 1:14, 'And the word was made flesh.' (1 Tim 3:16) 'God was manifest in the flesh.' These two scriptures are expounded by Hebrews 2:14 where it is said, 'Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same'; that is, of flesh and blood, see Romans 8:3 and compare it with Luke 24:39 where Christ saith, 'Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.' And he doth often call himself by the name of the Son of man to signify that he is very man, as well as very God (Matt 24, 16:13).
Quest. But why was he true God and true man?
Ans. He was true man, because man had offended, and justice required that man should suffer and make satisfaction, and so it is written (1 Cor 15:21). 'For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.' And again, 'All we like sheep have gone astray; -- and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.' And in 1 Peter 2:24 where that 53rd of Isaiah is mentioned, he saith, 'Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed.' And again, God did prepare this body, the human nature of Christ, that it should be a sacrifice for sins, 'wherefore -- he saith, Sacrifice and offering [that is, such as were offered by the law of Moses] thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me' (Heb 10:5). In the body which God had prepared for him, which he took of the virgin (Gal 4:4) in this he did bear all the sins of all his elect (1 Peter 2:24).
And he must needs be true God, because, it was an infinite God that was transgressed against, and justice required an infinite satisfaction, and therefore he must be infinite that must give this satisfaction, or else justice could not be satisfied, and so it was written, where the apostle is telling the pastors of the church of Ephesus, by what they were redeemed, he tells them, that God did purchase them 'with his own blood' (Acts 20:28). See 1 John 3:16 where he saith, 'Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.' Not in his divine, but in his human nature; for as I said before, God's Christ was of both natures (Rom 9:5; 1 John 5:20; John 1:1-14). True God, and true man, and the divine nature did enable him to undergo in his human nature, all that sin, curse, and wrath that was laid upon him for us; and to overcome, and obtain eternal redemption for us (Heb 9:24).
Quest. How did this Christ bring in redemption for man?
Ans. (1.) Why first, man broke the law of God; but this man did fulfil it again, and became the end of it 'for righteousness to every one that believeth' (Rom 10:4).
(2.) Man was foiled and overcome by the devil; but this Man Christ did overcome him again, and that for us (Luke 4; Heb 2:14,15).
(3.) Man did lose the glory of God, but this Man hath obtained it again.
(4.) Man by sin lost eternal salvation; but this Man by his own blood hath obtained it again for him (Heb 9:12).
(5.) Man by sin brought death into the world (Rom 5:12). But Jesus Christ, that Man, hath destroyed it again (Heb 2:14 compared with Hosea 13:14) and brought in life and immortality (2 Tim 1:10; Rom 5:15).
Quest. But how are we justified by this man's obedience?
Ans. All our iniquities were laid upon him (Isa 53:6,8,11,12). And his righteousness is bestowed on us, if we believe, as it is written, 'Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe' (Rom 3:22). And this is it which Paul so much sought after, when he saith, 'Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss, -- and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith' (Phil 3:8,9).
Quest. How do men come by this righteousness and everlasting life?
Ans. By faith men lay hold upon it, and apply it to their own souls in particular (Gal 2:20). For it is by faith they are justified, as also saith the scripture (Rom 5:1). That his faith lays hold on and applies, that which this Christ of God hath done, and is a doing, and owns it as his own.
Quest. What is this faith that doth justify the sinner?
Ans. It is a gift (Eph 2:8), fruit (Gal 5:22) or work, of the Spirit of God, whereby a soul is enabled, under a sight of its sins, and wretched estate, to lay hold on the birth, righteousness, blood, death, resurrection, ascension and intercession of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess 2:7), and by the assistance of the Spirit, whereby it is wrought, to apply all the virtue, life and merit of what hath been done and suffered, or is a doing by the same Lord Jesus Christ, to its own self in particular (Gal 2:20; Rom 7:24,25), as if itself had really done all that the Lord Jesus Christ hath done: I do not say that the soul doth any thing for justification, but it doth know, that whatsoever Jesus Christ hath done in point of justification, is given to, and bestowed upon it (Rom 3:22) and God finding the soul in him, that is in Christ, doth 'justify it from all things, from which it could not be justified by the law of Moses' (Acts 13:39).
Quest. Well, but is there no way to come to the Father of mercies but by this man that was born of the virgin? Is there no way to come to God but by the faith of him?
Ans. No, 'there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved' (Acts 4:12). And Jesus himself, that was born of the virgin Mary, said, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me' (John 14:6).
Quest. And where is this man, that was born of the virgin, that we may come to the Father by him?
Ans. He ascended away from his disciples in a cloud, into heaven, as we may read (Acts 1:9-11).
Quest. What doth he there?
Ans. He ever lives to make intercession for all that come unto God by him (Heb 7:25). That is, they shall come out of themselves to him, and venture their souls on what he did and suffered when he was on earth, and is doing now in heaven; shall certainly be saved: For he ever lives to save them, that do thus come to the Father by him. And it is, because he spilt his blood for all that shall by the faith of God's elect lay hold upon him. And thus it is written where he saith, 'Being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, [Mark this] whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness, [that is, to declare God's righteousness] for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth [or layeth hold] in Jesus' (Rom 3:24-26).
Quest. But did this man rise again from the dead, that very man, with that very body wherewith he was crucified? for you do seem, as I conceive, to hold forth so much by these your expressions.
Ans. Why do you doubt of it?
Quest. Do you believe it?
Ans. Yes, by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, for he hath enabled me so to do.
Quest. And can you prove it by the scripture?
Ans. First, From that scripture in Luke 24:39, 40 where Christ himself after he was crucified appeared to his disciples, (who having seen him) supposed they had seen a spirit. But he said, Why are ye troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself, and do not think you see a spirit; handle me, and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me have. This he spake after he was crucified (Luke 23:33) and buried (v 53) and rose again from the dead (24:6,7), many other scriptures could I give for the proof hereof, as Acts 10:40, 41. And Acts 13:30, 31; 1 Thessalonians 1:10. Only read Acts 2:29-32 where the apostle proveth the same, bringing in the words of the prophet David for a testimony thereof, saying, He 'being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; [saith] he seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.' Mark it, his flesh did see no corruption (v 31). But if he had not risen again, his flesh had seen corruption. But he rose again from the dead, that very man, that very body; for his flesh did see no corruption.
Quest. Why did he rise again from the dead, with that very body?
Ans. (1.) Because it was not possible he should be holden of death.
(2.) Because in his human nature he suffered for sin; and if he had not recovered himself from that very curse, even from under death, and all other things that lay on him, which he had through the sins of his children subjected himself unto, he had not overcome sin, hell, death, the law, and the devil (Acts 2:24): but had been overcome by them; and if so, then had not redemption been obtained for sinners; for it was at his resurrection from the dead, that God said unto him, 'Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee': (As saith the Apostle) 'And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again'; as it is also written in the second psalm, 'Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee' (Acts 13:30-36). And it is this, namely, the resurrection of that Man from the dead, that doth give us ground of hope; as in 1 Peter 1:3 where he saith, He 'hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.'
(3.) Because God intends to redeem the bodies of his saints out of their graves in which they have lain many a year (John 5:28,29; Rom 8:23; 1 Cor 15:52) and to possess them with his own glory; and when this comes to pass, then shall that scripture be fulfilled, that saith, He 'shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working [of his mighty power] whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself' (Phil 2:21). And he hath given us assurance thereof, in that he hath raised up Jesus our Lord again from the dead (Acts 17:31).
Quest. But do you think, that these our bodies that we do carry about with us in this world, after that they are dead and buried, and rotten, shall rise again out of those graves into which they are laid; when the scripture saith, flesh and blood shall not inherit the kingdom of God? (1 Cor 15:50).
Ans. Flesh in scripture is taken more ways than one: As,
It is taken for the works of the law; where the Apostle saith, 'Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?' (Gal 3:2,3). By flesh here, he means the law; as is clear, if you compare it with verses 10-12. Again, sometimes flesh is taken for sins (Rom 8:1,5). And sometimes it is taken for the bodies of the saints, as subject to distempers, to pain, sickness, corruptions, to death; by reason of sin (2 Cor 4:11, 7:5). Now the Apostle in that place, where he saith, 'Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom [of heaven, or] of God,' his meaning is, sinful flesh and blood, or the sin, with any imperfection that is in the bodies of the saints, shall not inherit the kingdom; and that you shall find to be the mind of the Holy Ghost, if you read with understanding the latter end of the same verse, where he saith, 'Neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.' That is, sin, or any imperfection of the body, shall not inherit eternal life; for, saith he, in verse 53, 'This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.' Mark here, I pray you, though he saith, 'Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God'; yet he saith, 'This corruptible must put on incorruption.' For the trump shall blow, and the dead shall be raised (as Christ saith) 'They that are in the graves shall hear his voice' (John 5:28). And shall come forth of their grave incorruptible (1 Cor 15:52). And shall 'all appear before the judgment seat of Christ' (2 Cor 5:10; Rev 2:12,13). See also that scripture (Phil 3:20,21) where the Apostle saith, He waited for Christ the Saviour from heaven. And what shall he do when he comes? why, He 'shall change our vile body.' Mark it, it must be our vile body that must be changed. But if it be changed, then how can it be the same? not the same in respect of sin, or bodily infirmities, but the very same in respect of substance: For, saith he, It is our vile body that must be changed; and it is the very same, It shall be 'fashioned like unto his glorious body.' And if you ask, How is it possible that this should be done? He answers, 'According to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.'
Quest. But do you think this is certain? methinks the scriptures seemingly hold forth so much, yet I cannot believe it, for it is contrary to all reason.
Ans. Truly the scriptures do not only hold forth so much seemingly, but they do most really, and plainly, hold out these things to all those that have received the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. For it is it, and it alone, that can reveal these things. 'For the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God' (1 Cor 2:11). Now if thou wouldest know these things, thou must first receive the Spirit of the Son of God, without which, thou canst not know so much as one of the fundamental truths of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Quest. But there are those in our days, who reject this doctrine that you lay down, concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, as you lay it down, and they are for a Christ within, for a cross within, for a resurrection, and intercession within; and they do not hold as you do, a Christ without, and a resurrection of Christ without; and intercession of Christ without; Ay, and they have very much scripture for that which they say too: And therefore what shall such as we do, that stand tottering and shaking in these distracted and dangerous times? For our poor souls are in very much doubt what way to take.
Ans. Therefore I will speak a few words to you by way of discovery of the falsity of such opinions; and a word of direction, how you should understand the truth.
Therefore, he that cries up a Christ within, in opposition to a Christ without, that man instead of having the Spirit of Christ in him, is possessed with a spirit of delusion; for where the Spirit of Christ is in truth, that Spirit causeth the soul to look to the Christ that was born of the Virgin, for all justification; as it is written, 'Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come,' mark the next verse, 'He [saith the Son of the Virgin] shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you' (John 16:13,14). He shall take of mine; What is that? Why surely it is, he shall take of my Godhead, my humanity, my birth, my righteousness, my blood, my death, my resurrection, my ascension and intercession, my kingly, priestly, and prophetical offices, and shall shew you the life, merit, and value of them. And this was it which was revealed to Paul by the Holy Spirit, here spoken of (1 Cor 15:1-8). 'Moreover brethren, [saith he] I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.' But what is this doctrine? why, 'I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received.' What was that? Why, 'How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: [there is his death and resurrection preached]. And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve; after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the Apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, [saith Paul] as of one born out of due time.' This is it, I say, that the Spirit of Truth doth hold forth to poor sinners, a Christ crucified without the gates of Jerusalem (Luke 23:33), buried in Joseph's sepulchre (53), risen again the third day (Luke 24:6) ascended away from his disciples in a cloud into heaven, as in Acts 1:9-11. And there ever liveth, that very man, with that very body, to make intercession for all that receive him (Heb 7:24,25). This is, I say, the doctrine of the Spirit of truth, whatsoever is the spirit of error.
Quest. But do not the scriptures make mention of a Christ within? (2 Cor 13:5; Col 1:27).
Ans. Yes, And he that hath not the Spirit of Christ, is none of his (Rom 8:9). But he that hath it, is led out of himself by it; and as I said before, it shews the soul, what the blessed Son of the Virgin Mary hath done and suffered, and is a doing for it. Therefore hereby know we the Spirit of truth from the spirit of error (2 John 7). 'Every spirit that doth confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God' (1 John 4:2). That is, that spirit that doth confess, that Jesus Christ took flesh upon him and in that flesh did bear our sins (1 Peter 2:24; Col 1:20-22; 1 Peter 3:18, 4:1). And after he was taken down from the cross, and laid in a sepulchre, rose again from the dead; that very Man with that very body, wherewith he was crucified: That spirit that doth believe and confess this, is of God, and is the blessed Spirit of Christ, whereof he spake, when he was yet with his disciples touching his bodily presence: For 'he [saith the Son of Mary] shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine and shew it unto you' (John 16:13,14).
I have answered this already in my epistle to the first treatise. Therefore believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God, for many false spirits and prophets are gone out into the world, therefore have a care how thou receivest the voice that speaks to thee, but try whether they are according to the truth of God's word as it is written, 'To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them' (Isa 8:20).
(1.) Therefore try a little, Do they slight God's Christ, which is the Son of the Virgin? that spirit is of the devil (1 Cor 12:3).
(2.) Do they say that that blood of his which was shed without the gates of Jerusalem, doth not wash away sin, yea, all sin from him that believes? That is a spirit of antichrist (1 John 1:7).
(3.) Do they say, that that Man that was crucified without the gates of Jerusalem, is not risen again (with that very body wherewith he was crucified) out of the sepulchre? (Luke 24:38,39). That is a spirit of antichrist.
(4.) Do they say that that very Man that was crucified with that very body, is not now in the presence of his Father, absent from his people touching his bodily presence, though present in Spirit? I say whoever they be, that say he is not there, they are of the devil: for the proof of this see Acts 5:30 and 31 and compare it with Hebrews 7:24, 25. 'The God of our fathers [saith the Apostle] raised up Jesus.' But what Jesus? 'he whom ye slew,' saith he to the Jews. 'Him [the very same whom ye slew] hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.'
And indeed, here is my LIFE, namely, the birth of this Man, the righteousness of this Man, the blood of this Man, the death and resurrection of this Man, the ascension and intercession of this Man for me; and the second coming of this Man to judge the world in righteousness (Acts 17:31). I say, here is my LIFE, if I see this by faith without me, through the operation of the Spirit within me: I am safe, I am at peace, I am comforted, I am encouraged, and I know that my comfort, peace, and encouragement is true, and given me from heaven, by the Father of mercies, through the Son of the Virgin Mary (Matt 1:21) who is the way to the Father of mercies (John 14:6), who is able to save to the uttermost, all that come to the Father by him (Heb 7:25). Because he, that very Man, with that very body wherewith he was crucified, is ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9-11), and there ever lives to make intercession for them that come to God by him. This is the rock, sinner, upon which, if thou be built, the gates of hell, nor Ranter, Quaker, sin, law, death, no nor the devil himself, shall ever be able to prevail against thee (Matt 16:16-18). And here I leave thee to the wisdom of the great God, who if he hath chosen thee in his Son, and brought thee to him; and hath made thee by faith to lay hold on him, thou needest not fear the devil with his siftings, snares, wiles, and fiery darts, wherewith he doth destroy thousands; but mayest with the Apostle (if thou live in the power and life of the love of God towards thee) cry out, 'I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Rom 8:38,39).
And now reader, if thou be a true Christian, I am sure that these be the things that appear to be the glorious substantial truths to thy soul, and thou doest not care for that comfort that doth not make this Man, the Son of the Virgin, precious to thy soul (1 Peter 2:7) for thou knowest, that it is he, that hath delivered thee from the wrath to come (1 Thess 1:10). But as for you that are disobedient, except you mend your manners, you will stumble 'and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken' (Isa 28:13) and wonder and perish because you believe not (Acts 13:41).
A few words more, and so I shall have done, and they are words of counsel to thee. Have a care thou receive not every Christ that is proffered to thee, though it may appear very excellent to thy foolish heart: for under the name Christ, are men deceived, as it is written, 'many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many' (Matt 24:5). But have a care that thou receive that Christ, that was born without thee, fulfilled the law in his human nature without thee; spilt his blood without thee, is risen again and ascended without thee, and maketh intercession without thee: And that he that very Man that was born of the virgin, will come again in the clouds without thee; and this truth must thou receive by that Spirit that he hath promised to send and give to them that ask him: And that shall dwell in thy heart, and shall shew thee what the Son of Mary the virgin, the Son of man, the Son of God, the true God hath in his body done for thy soul (John 16:13,14). And if thou receive him in truth, then though thou do not boast, nor brag of thy holiness, as those painted hypocrites called Quakers do: yet thou wilt do more work for God in one hour, than they, even all of them, can do in all their lifetime.
Take my counsel, and the Lord Jesus Christ have mercy upon thy soul and body. Farewell.
SOME QUESTIONS TO THE QUAKERS, OR A FEW QUERIES TO THOSE WHO ARE POSSESSED WITH A SPIRIT OF DELUSION IN THIS GENERATION.
'Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you,' (1 Peter 3:15). And I beseech you do it in sincerity.
1. If thou sayest that every one hath a measure of the Spirit of Jesus Christ within him, why say the scriptures that some are 'sensual having not the Spirit' (Jude 19). And when Christ tells his disciples of sending them the Spirit, he also saith, The world cannot receive it (John 14:17).
2. What is the church of God redeemed by, from the curse of the law? Is it by something that is done within them, or by something done without them? If thou answer, it is redeemed from the curse of the law by something that worketh in them; then I ask, why did the Man Christ Jesus hang upon the cross on Mount Calvary, without the gates of Jerusalem, for the sins of the people? (Gal 3:3; 1 Peter 2:24). And why do the scriptures say, that through this Man, is preached to us the forgiveness of sins (Acts 13:38). That is, through his blood (Eph 1:7; Col 1:20) which was shed without the gates of Jerusalem (Heb 13:12).
3. What scripture have you to prove, that Christ is, or was crucified within you, dead within you, risen within you, and ascended within you?
4. Is that very Man that was crucified on Mount Calvary between two thieves, whose name is Jesus, the Son of Mary, I say, is he the very Christ of God, yea, or no?
5. Is that very Man, with that very body, within you, yea, or no?
6. Was that Jesus, that was born of the Virgin Mary, a real Man of flesh and bones, after his resurrection from the dead, out of Joseph's sepulchre, yea, or no? For the scripture saith he was, as in Luke 24:39. If so, then did that Man that said handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have; I say, did that Man go away from his disciples (and not into them, in his body) as these scriptures declare (Luke 24:39,40 compared with 50,51, also Acts 1:9-11) or did he with that body of flesh go into his disciples, as some fond dreamers think?
7. Hath that Christ that was with God the Father before the world was, no other body but his church? If you say no, as it is your wonted course; then again I ask you, what that was in which he did bear the sins of his children? If you answer, It was 'in his own body on the tree,' for so saith the scripture (1 Peter 2:24). Then I ask you further, whether that body in which he did bear our sins, (which is also called his own body) was, or is, the church of God, yea, or no? Again if you say he hath no body but the church, the saints, Then I ask, what that was that was taken down from the cross, and laid into Joseph's sepulchre (Luke 23:53).
Now I know, that as Christ is the head of his church, so the church is the body of the head, which is Christ. But as Christ is the mediator between God and man, I say, as he is mediator, so he is a man (1 Tim 2:5) and absent from his saints in the world, as is clear (2 Cor 5:6). Therefore as he is a mediator, and a Man, so he hath a body that is absent from his church, which body is ascended from his disciples, above the clouds into heaven (Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9-11). If you say no, then I ask you, Did he leave the body behind him, which was born of the Virgin Mary, which walked up and down with his disciples in the world, was afterwards hanged upon the cross (Luke 23:26,33,53), buried, rose again from the dead (Matt 24:3,6,15,41,41,39,50) with which body he did eat, drink, and likewise walk with his disciples after his resurrection from the dead (Acts 10:41), and did bid his disciples see if he were not flesh and bones, yea, or no?
1. Bunyan quotes this passage from the Genevan or Puritan version. -- Ed.
2. 'Overly,' carelessly, negligently, inattentively. -- Ed.
3. 'Close,' secret, not disclosed. -- Ed.