« EdellinenJatka »
mean these words of Scripture ? They mean this ; that the High Priest Jesus Christ doth with the oil of holiness, and of gladness, which he poseesseth, bring us into the temple of God, that we may behold bis beauty, and reve. rently inquire of his name. And what again do these words mean? They mean, that Jesus Christ hath by his work in flesh condemned sin, and conquered death in flesh, and is able by the Holy Spirit to communicate unto men the capacity of tearing asunder the veils of sin and death, and looking as he did upon the very face of God, and beholding his beauty, and loving to behold it. It is that Christ Jesus who of old skilfully made the soul of man to be God's own likeness : so that, in seeing itself, it should see God; in exercising itself, it should exercise the will of God; hath now, through his work in flesh, received power to banish forth from it all fear and faintness, error and darkness, doubt and distress, dismay and despair, with other forms of hell, and restore to it its ancient being, its first features, its primeval glory; so that it shall again resemble God, think as God thinketh, feel as God feeleth, and do as He doeth. This is the eye-salve, even the Holy Ghost elaborated by the human nature of Christ into such a healing substance, as being applied to us shall, like the ointment, eat out the speck, and purge away the obscuration, and let the wonderful organ of God look once more upon the goodly world of God's own being and workmanship, which it was made to know, and to possess, and to enjoy. The eye-salve of the physician doth not make the eye; nor is it made for the eye in its sound and healthy, state, but for the eye obscured and obstructed by disease, and deprived of its excellent function of beholding and admiring the creation of God. Then doth the physician cast about for some kindly mixture able to eat out, or carry away the foreign substance which makes the whole body to be dark. And though such unguents do generally occasion pain, the patient willingly submitteth, that he may again look upon the holy light. Even so, the eye-salve of the conscience is not to make the conscience; for the conscience being made by God can never be destroyed : nor is it for the conscience in a healthy state, able to look into, to understand, and rejoice over the being of God; but it is prepared of Christ for cleansing away that film which sin first brought over, and ever deepens upon the eye of the soul. Christ hath prepared an unction of the Holy One capable of healing us, which, indeed, troubleth and affecteth somewhat the present state of the diseased soul, but must be patiently endured for the excellent knowledge, and wisdom, and revelation of God's own mind, which the conscience doth thereafter continually feed upon. O but it is a mighty work, this work of cleansing the conscience, and it is a wondrous power of God through which it is performed ; and such aspects of the Divine goodness it doth reveal ; and such secret hidden springs of health and joy it opens up, as no one who hath not felt the same is able to understand, or even to believe. Hear how the Apostle Paul speaketh hereof: “Making mention of you in my prayers ; that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him : the eyes of your underderstanding being enlightened ; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places" (Eph. i. 16-20).
Such is the counsel of the good Shepherd unto one of his ministers, who had arrived at such a pitch of loathsome and disgusting wickedness as that he should say of him, “I will spue thee out of my mouth.” When we consider his worthlessness, and the worthiness of that Master whose patience he had so abused, we may well wonder that his counsel should be couched in such gracious and generous terms. Well may it be said of Jesus as it is of God, “ He giveth liberally, and upbraideth not." If ever there was cause of upbraiding and withholding, it was in this unworthy minister. But so far is Jesus from being a hard Master, as men think, that he is willing to forgive “ seven times, yea seventy times seven ; for he is good, and his mercy endureth for ever." Nor that he is an indulger of wickedness, or that he can look upon it without detestation and abhorrence, but that he is very tender-hearted, and pitiful, and loath, very loath to afflict the children of men, whom he loveth even to the death. He is about to. bring discipline, to come in severity upon his licentious and profligate servant ; but first he would ensue the method of grace, that by repentance judgment might, if possible, be prevented. Ah me, how it afflicts me, o dear Lord, that thou shouldest be so misunderstood, and misrepresented by the children of men. O that they were wise, that they knew what a loving gracious Lord they have in thee. Judgment is indeed thy strange work ; God sent thee not to condemn the world, but that through thee the world might have life. And lest when thou comest with chastisement thou shouldest be mistaken, as if thou hadst laid aside thy love, thou usherest it in with assurances, that therein thy love is shewn forth no less, yea and more than in blessing : for to bless is congenial to thy nature; to afflict, and to bring pain, thou inclinest not : therefore, before dealing with this thy minister in the way of chastisement, thou dost warn him that it is also in the way of love, saying, “ As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten : be zealous therefore, and repent." This brings us to the fifth part of the charge ; to wit, discipline.
5. The Discipline. Nothing can be more certain than this, that evil is not of God, but of the world. Suffering, and sorrow, and death, are not the works of God, though they be in the works of God; neither doth God co-operate with them, but against them. No one may say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God. Not the temptation, not the evil, but the good is from God. “Do not err, my beloved brethren, every good gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." If, then, it be so that all the adversities and afflictions of man's estate, are not of the Father, but of the world, what end doth God produce by them, and to what use of goodness doth he turn them ? The answer is, lie useth them for the chastisement of his people, that they may be partakers of his holiness. Now that these whips and scourges of man's estate are through the wickedness of man's being come to be, God doth appropiate them for the ends of perfecting that being. He made his own Son perfect through sufferings. “ Whom he loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth
every son whom he receiveth.” In this God's grace unto man, his froward child, is shewn, that when he had brought himself into an evil state God overruled the evil unto greater good, thereby proving likewise his own mastery over his own creation, overruling the wickedness of the wicked, to the glory of his own goodness. In bringing evil into the world God had no hand directly or indirectly, but now that it is in the world he taketh account of its doings, and ordereth them all for the good, for the greater good, of the people who trust in his name. The meaning of his perfecting Christ, and Christ's people, through sufferings, is, that there is a dignity and glory to which he is bringing them, through manifold tribulations, and for which these very tribulations are necessary to prepare them. Of which, if any one ask for the particulars, I give those which are mentioned by the Apostle to the Hebrews, when speaking of Christ; whereof the first is, that by faith in God we may overcome the devil, and his angels, tempting us to evil, and destroy death the triumph of sin. That this which Christ did, and which he was the first to do, is likewise our calling, is declared in the viiith Psalm, to which the Apostle referreth in the passage alluded to: 6 Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength, because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger." We are called, like Christ, to triumph in our cross, which is his cross, over principalities, and powers of darkness, tempting us through the world, and the flesh; and every temptation of disease, of lust, of worldliness, of devil-worship, is so much glory unto God and Christ, through whom the vic: tory is achieved. Therefore the Apostle Peter doth declare, that the trial of our faith shall prove unto praise, and honour, and glory, at the appearing of Jesus Christ. Our trials are so many occasions of glorifying God, which otherwise we should not have had ; and therefore we rejoice in tribu: lations also, because they work patience, and patience is the only way unto perfection.
The second service which God maketh evil to do, unto all who trust in him, is expressed in these words of the same Epistle to the Hebrews (ii. 17, 18): “ Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren ; that he might be a merciful and faithful high
priest, in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered, being' tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” As Christ was by his human temptations prepared for his present ministry of intercession, so also are we for our office of priests; which even now we fulfil in making intercession for all men, which hereafter we shall fulfil in glory over creatures still in flesh, and girt about with infirmity. There is a twofoldness in this idea : first, as relateth to faithfulness; and second, as relateth to mercifulness. Unto faithfulness we are prepared, as Joseph was, by encountering in this world the strongest seductions and temptations away from the law of our God, by having every form of good proffered to us as a bribe to forego our allegiance to the unseen, and in this life unrewarding, God. God intendeth us to be lord of all his works, and taketh proof of our faithfulness, by casting us into the midst of the rebel host, into the land of disloyalty, blasphemy, and misrule ; where, if we continue faithful unto the death, he will give us a crown of life. Now, without such a sinful and felonious world, this kind of proof could never have been taken. What a glory, for example, redounds to Regulus the Roman captive from his resistance of the bribes presented to him by the enemies of his country, and by his countrymen themselves ; - whom nei. ther friend nor foe, home nor exile, reward nor cruellest death, could bend from his fidelity and honour. Such every son of God should feel himself called upon to be ; and such bath he an opportunity of continually being, through that knowledge of good and evil, unto which the Fall hath brought is, to the end we may continually triumph over sense and sight, over present reward and present sufferings, through our faithfulness to the commandments of our God. And so, as a niaster upon returning from a far journey doth take account of his servants, and promote those who have been faithful unto him, Christ the Lord of all, upon his return from the far country where his Father dwelleth, doth call an account of men, and promote to honour and trust those who have preserved their fealty to him, during his absence, against the devil, the world, and the flesh. Those have proved themselves worthy to inherit a glorified body, a body of wife, who did preserve their body in this state of probation