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forth. And, therefore, the words grace, mercy, salvation, redemption, &c., by which the good tidings are briefly expressed, do present holiness and love kissing and embracing each other, supporting and sustaining each other. For it is the holiness inflicting misery, which gives occasion to the love ; and again, the love doth glorify the holiness by producing a holy life in those who receive it; and in those who receive it not, it doth glorify the holiness again, by giving occasion to the judgment, and the penalties of the judgment, which are the pains of hell for ever. The holiness of God, therefore, is no impediment, nor resistance, but otherwise the occasion and precursor of his love ; and therefore I say again to every sinner, Thy sin hath brought thee into thy present abjectness, and this thine abjectness hath been the occasion to thee of God's love ; therefore be of good courage, and put thy trust in him. Again, I would say to a sinner, If thy conscience be overwhelmed with the guilt of thy sin, if it be defiled with the stains of many sins, then thou canst have no peace, nor cleanness in the sight of God, otherwise than through the washing of the blood of Christ; that is to say, the conscience whose property it is to apprehend truth, must apprehend the truth of God's being exhibited and demonstrated by the death of Christ, in order to have peace. That act of God's providence, the death of Christ, is the act whereby he sheweth forth the light which bringeth hope and joy to the darkened conscience of a sinner. For conscience hath to do with truth, as the eye hath to do with light. The soul is not a material substance to be washed with blood; and besides, blood washes nothing: this is figurative language derived from the Levitical economy, yet representing the great truth that the Messiah must die, and that his dying is the only inlet of hidden knowledge and truth, capable of yielding peace to the troubled soul. And what is this knowledge of God, so comfortable and cheerful, so enlightening and enlivening, which is let in, through the avenue of Christ's death, upon the soul grieving over its trespasses and sins. It is this, that He whom God loved as himself, was brought under the power of death. In which condition God loved him not the less, and thence God raised him through love, unto the Headship of creation. Is this all? Yea, I think this is all. And what an all!
how all-sufficient for comfort! For what is the sum of that sin and wretchedness which divideth me from God ? It is death : “ The wages of sin is death :" death is the sum and consummation of sin ; the filling up of God's wrath
1 on this side the judgment. Now, what is it that prevents a sinner from consolation, but the miserable misgiving whether God can, or the erroneous conviction that he cannot, be loving him all the while that he is inflicting on him this direful curse. And there wanted an instance, there wanted an experiment to shew that God's love might, yea, and did follow the condemned, exiled outcast, into the uttermost wanderings to which he is doomed To shew this, God himself became the outcast, and the wanderer, in the subsistence of the Son; and no one doubts that God loves God. It was proved, therefore, in the way most satisfactory, and put beyond a doubt for ever, that God doth love human nature in its miserable sentence of death, when he himself, in the person of the Son, coming into death, arose from death, and proved death to be no obstruction of God's love, to be no sealing up of God's goodness and glory, but only the strait and narrow gate by which we enter into the kingdom. When a soul thus beholding God's love stronger than misery and death, seeth God's love to the human nature of Christ lying in the condition of death, it hath a ground, and a sufficient ground for believing, that the curse which hath passed upon us, is not a prevention of the love of God, and that into whatever state sin may bring a fallen man, he is still the same object of God's love, as he was before, and, believing this, ought to be at peace from the miseries of an evil conscience. For if a guilty man knows that he who is offended against, forgiveth his guilt, and loveth him, and pitieth him, and is labouring to deliver him from all guilt, and hath succeeded, then surely is the sting which stung him taken out. This, then, I believe, is the rendering of the Levitical language into the language of pure reason, or common feeling : that the soul, overwhelmed with a sense of its guilt, doth in the death of Christ, the Son of God, and in his resurrection, get such a view of God's character as gives it ease. translating it into the language of natural reason, and natural feeling, do I thereby make void the Levitical
language, or express dissatisfaction with it? Surely not ; for the Levitical language doth embody the whole system of truth, in a series of symbolical facts. The Levitical language is the safeguard of our theology; but it is the part of the minister of the Gospel to explain it to the conscience; because, until it come in contact with the conscience, it is but a carnal ordinance, and not a spiritual truth. Let this, therefore, stand as the personal application of the second part of this glorious doxology; That Christ, as our High Priest above, communicating with us, by the Holy Ghost, doth preserve our conscience clean, and take out the abiding stains of sin, by continually opening to our minds those great truths of God's being, and of his affections to sinful mankind, which, like scattered rays, appear every where in his actings, but in their strength, brightness, and beauty, are concentrated in the death and resurrection of Christ, and there only. Now, with respect to the third part of the doxology, I have this much to say, in the way of practical application; that we are made kings and priests from the time of our believing, though we are not manifested as such, until the time of the first resurrection. “The gift of faith is everlasting life.”
“ He that believeth on me hath everlasting life;" and everlasting life is the life of the priest and king. Beyond a question therefore, in this life also, we have the dignity of priests and kings : we are made so: He hath made us so. Now, wherein consisteth our present royal priesthood? In the noblest region of our being. In the power to command and govern ourselves according to God's mind, which none other but the regenerate possess. Enslaved are men to another, who is the devil, great enemy of God and man ; but we are free. Emancipated into the glorious liberty of the sons of God, through Christ, by his Spirit empowering me, I live a life in the flesh, to the glory of God. I, not by constraint, but in a heaven-derived liberty and strength, exercise the office of a king, in expelling Satan, the usurper, from manhood,
, my proper realm, in using every power of my proper kingdom as a weapon, against him and his angels, and the world, and the flesh, and all confederate nature: yea, and I take the prey from the strong; I do take every member of my body, and use it against wickedness in high places, I do defy him with my tongue, I do untwist all his cords, I
do expose all his snares, 1 do cut asunder all his toils, and make my escape like a mighty man from the hands of his enemies. Herein, therefore, I put forth the high function of a king. But, besides, in all this I put forth also the holy function of a priest; for not unto myself I live, but unto God; not unto myself I conquer, but unto God; not for myself I keep my conquests, not for myself I reign over my conquests, but for God; and so I fulfil the office of a priest while I fulfil the office of a king. All my disabused faculties of mind ascend in worship unto God; all my purified faculties of knowledge, reverently worship God in Christ; all my blessed faculties of feeling worship God in the Holy Ghost. I am a priest, by how much I am a worshipper: I am a king, by how much I have wherewith to worship; and this is verily the work of the Spirit upon a man, to make him at once a priest and a king, to give him power, and to make him desire more power for the sake of the glory of God. And though to our grief we see a world lying in the arms of the wicked one ; though to our sore pain we see men and things lorded over by Satan; we apprehend' by faith, and in hope hold fast that glorious redemption which awaiteth the creatures also, when they likewise shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the sons of God: and as priests, we pray for that glorious consummation; and as priests, we offer up the doleful lament of a groaning world ; and as priests, we sing in its ears the song of its coming joy; and as priests, we prophecy to all' the people of the time when Christ, with all his saints, shall come to rule the earth in righteousness, and judge the people in equity. Thus do we fulfil the office of kings and priests unto the God and Father of cur Lord Jesus Christ.
4. After this doxology, and joined to it, by, I know not well what connexion-for these be rather the extatic ut. terances of a rapt and ravished mind, than the parts of a regular discourse, we have the following exclamation : 6 Behold he cometh with the clouds; and every eye shall see (eye) him, and they also which pierced him ; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so. Amen.” After the seer had given to the persons of the blessed Trinity their appropriate names, according to the
imagery of this book, and had ascribed to the incarnate and crucified Jesus, that glory and dominion with which he had been invested in the heavens, he conceiveth before his sight the glorious image of his Lord, descending in power and great majesty to the earth : very unlike the blinded prophets of this day, who can neither see nor bear to hear of the glorious coming of the Lord, our seer can see nothing else. Every thing which had been exhibited to him of the adversities, persecutions, and apostacies of the church, is swallowed up in the glory which follows them all. O it is a thing most instructive to all ministers and believers of the Gospel, and especially to all interpreters and readers of this book, to witness in these verses of preface, what were the great matters impressed upon the Apostle's mind by all which he had seen and heard. However variously he was moved, as scene followed scene, in the great exhibition of the Divine purpose, behold in these few verses, what was the impression which remained fixed and permanent in his mind! That abiding impression was the present glory and the future coming of his Lord. Not the creature, but the Creator ; not the history of man, but the history of Christ ; not the thought of himself, but the thought of his glorified and coming Lord, was present to his soul. And while he ascribed all glory and dominion to bim for ever and ever, the only event in the ages of ages, which he careth to make mention of, is the coming of the Lord: “Behold he cometh with the clouds." This expression, “coming with the clouds," hath its origin in'the viith chapter of the Book of Daniel, where, after the fourfold succession of the church's and the world's oppressors, which are the Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman empires; whereof the latter still endureth, though for the last thirty-seven years, it hath been under judgment, and is about to be consumed by the act of God's righteous judgment; after this, I say, the Prophet saw in the night, visions, “ and behold one like the Son of Man came in the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him; and there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and kindreds, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”