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written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard and learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Till Christ's Father, by his Spirit, teach a sinner, and tell him good news of Christ the Saviour, he will not, he cannot come to Christ by faith: for divine teaching doth at the same time reveal Christ as the object of faith, and work the grace of faith, and draw forth the act of faith. We are oft complaining, (and not without cause, if we had a right frame of heart in it), that many sinners continue dead under the report of Christ in the gospel; and that conversion and quickening of the dead is rarely heard of, and seen. What is the cause of this rareness? It is not that sinners are without man's teaching, but because Christ's Father doth not teach them; and till he do, they will never miss, nor value, nor seek divine teaching. They seek but the shell of the gospel, they seek but the field where the treasure is hid, Matth. xiii. 44.; and that they think any minister can shew them. But the finding the hid treasure in it, no apostle was ever able to teach a man to do. All they can say is, that this enriching treasure is in the field of the gospel, and no where else; but it is hid in it; and till there come light from heaven, you will never find it, but die as poor as your father Adam left you, and in worse case than if you had never heard of this field. But what should we do in this sad condition? Wait on the Lord, who hath the times and seasons in his own hand; and while you wait, pray and cry for his teaching, and make use of this argument of the Father's eternal love to the Son. Say, “ As thou lovest thy Son, teach me, and many perish“ ing sinners like me, to know thy Son."
2. The justification and acceptance of a sinner with God, comes only from the Father's love to his Son. We are accepted in that beloved, Eph. i. 6. and are translated into the kingdom of the Son of his love, Col. i. 13. All the love believers partake of from God, is but a drop, a sprinkling of that love he hath to Jesus Christ. Therefore saith our Lord in this prayer, ver. 23. 1 in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me; and ver. 26. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the
is certain, that the Lord loveth his people with an everlasting love, Jer. xxxi. 3.; that his mercy is from everlasting to everlasting to them, Psal. ciii. 17.; and that this love and mercy runs through, and is mixed with all his dealings with them. Yet how hardly is this owned by them? Let us begin with the Lord's beginning to deal with them, to draw them to himself, to bring them into Christ's chariot of salvation, the midst whereof is paved with love, Cant. iii. 10. Doth not the Lord appear at first to them as an enemy, not only declaring war against them, but using his irresistible arms against them, and his arrows pierce their hearts, as Psal. xlv. 5. ? Little did Paul think of Christ's love to him, when he fell on the earth, trembling and astonished, Acts ix. 3, 4, 5. Yet afterwards he well knew it, and did count it as long as he lived, the best day he ever saw. Then when the Lord hath subdued their hearts, and given them rest in their souls, his yoke and his burden is laid on them, Matt. xi. 28, 29. Whatsoever is common to man, 1 Cor. x. 13. or to a believer, that they should lay their account with. The cross of suffering any thing for Christ's sake, is oft laid on them and always in love ; yet it is judgment, 1 Peter iv. 17. and a fiery trial, ver. 12. Manifold outward afflictions are laid on them. And let all Christians in this furnace say, if they find it easy to believe his love to them, when his hand presseth them sore. Beyond these is Satan's sieve of temptation, Luke xxii. 31. Can there be love in the Lord's letting the devil loose upon one of his own chil. dren? Yes, so did the Lord with Job; Paul, 2 Cor. xii. 7.; yea, with Christ himself, Matth. iv. 3. But above all, is the Lord's hiding his face, and dealing as an enemy, and that for sin; when his wrath is kindled but a little, as Psal. ii. 12. and in the light and heat of that fire, the fiery law (as it is called in Deut. xxxii. 2.) is read in the conscience, who can believe love in this, that looks so like hell? Yet David did so, Psal. cxvi. 3.; and Jonah did so, chap. ii. 2, 3, 4.: and after a life of fightings without, and fears within, (as 2 Cor. vii. 5.), when the Lord is to finish his work and design of love on his people, then the last enemy is to be fought with, 1 Cor. xv. 26. Death, that to nature looks like the wages of sin, is made the door to glory. But how hard is it to believe it? He must
have a strong faith, that can call his own dying a sleeping in Jesus, as 1 Thess. iv. 14.; that can make use of Jacob's words concerning his sleeping place, Gen. xxviii. 16, 17. This is the gate of heaven. It is the great work and difficulty, and yet duty in Christianity, to believe unseen and unfelt love; in and under well-seen and well-felt distress. Sometimes the Lord joins them, as in 1 Thess. i. 6. and i Peter iv. 14, and then it is easy. But oft the wrath is felt, and the love is hid in the promise, and there only active faith can find it.
Dut all these instances are so far short of this, we are speaking of, that they afford very little light about this. Therefore I would come nearer, and offer a few things that may help to direct your thoughts unto a due reconciling of this eternal love the Father had to the Son, with the hard service he put him to as Mediator.
1. It was the anger of an offended judge and lawgiver, and not the anger of an offended father, that smote Jesus Christ. Christ suffered, he was slain, and died; and the bitterness of that low condition was from the justice and wrath of God, which he felt in his soul : which was well expressed by a godly minister, “ Christ's soul-sufferings were the soul of his “ sufferings ;” that is, the main and most bitter part of them. Yet in the depth of all these Christ was pleasing to his Father, and highly so: John X. 17. Therefore doth my Father love 9ne, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. Who took Christ's life away, but his Father? The wicked instruments used in this work, were of no consideration in the matter. To the chief of them, Pilate, the cowardly self.condemned judge, he said, Jolin xix. 11. Thou couldst have no porver at all against nie, except it were given thee from above. this interest his father had in his sufferings, that made him say, as in John xviii. 11. The cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? Our Lord on his cross, our Lord when dying, when dead, was as lovely in his Father's eyes, as ever before or since. But the justice and law of an offended judge exacted thus upon him.
2. This stroke of justice fell only on the man Christ, on his human nature. His divine person was untouched and untuuchable by liis sufferings. Clirist's body was the sacrifice;
able, i Cor. x. 13. ; much more was it so in his dealing with Christ, Psal. Ixxx. 17. and lxxxix. 19. He knew (what we cannot conceive) what a vast load of wrath this strong one could bear. None but Christ could stand before an angry God, could bear his wrath, and satisfy justice. If I may use such a similitude, when the sword of justice was drawn against Christ, and pierced through his soul and body, the Father knew well that his Son was so armed, that he could not be hurt thereby. His divine nature, and his Father's presence with him, John xvi. 32. and the ineffable union betwixt the Father and the Son, were as armour of proof about the man Christ ; that though justice slew him, it did him neither any wrong, nor real hurt, whatever smart was in the stroke.
5. The Father knew the glorious victory that his Son would obtain in, and by, and over all his sufferings; that for the suffering of death, he should be crowned with glory and honour, Heb. i. 9. ; that he should be highly exalted, Phil. ii. 9. So that what Christ was put to, was but like a father's sending his son to a stormy sea, and a dangerous voyage, from which he knew he should return safe and rich; or like a king's sending his son to war, wherein he was sure he should conquer, and return in triumph. Divine prescience is another thing in God's eye, than angel or man can possibly think. And this was eminently in Christ's sufferings, Acts ïi. 23. and iv. 28.
6. There were great and glorious ends God had before him, in all the sufferings that Christ was put to endure ; great glory to his grace, great glory to his Son, and a great salvation to his people; of which the word is full. And all that read, or hear, or think of Christ's death and sufferings, without regard to the ends thereof, they mind only a bare history and matter of fact, without any fruit thereby.
7. Lastly, The Father loved the Son in dying and for dying, as in John x. 17, 18. For Christ in dying offered up the highest and most acceptable worship and service to God that ever was offered: Eph. v. 2. Christ loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour. And it is the sweet smell of this sacrifice that drowns, as it were, the stink of all the sins and sinners it was offered for. His death cculd not be a propitiation, if