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tone in the flesh; and now, under the New Testament dispensation, he is gone within the vail, and the heavens are to
contain him until the time of the restitution of all things." But yet faithi has a way of bringing Christ near, and of taking him up in the word of promise, and so leaning on him by vir tue of his word. And therefore, " say not in thine heart, Who shall bring Christ down from above ? for the word is nigh thee even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is the word of faith which we preachi” Sirs, though Christ be ascended as to his human nature far above all heavens, yet he is as much present to faith, as though his body were still upon earth; “ Lo, I am with you alway even unto the end of the world:" and accordingly, faith cyeing him in the word of faith, leans on him, as one that is not afar off, but near at hand.
6. It implies a trusting, resting, or recumbency of her soul upon him, under all her weights and burdens, which she rolls over on Chrift: Pfal. lv. 22. * Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.” Matth. xi. 28. “ Come unto me, all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest unto your souls." Psal. xxxvii. 7. “ Reit in the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” As the feeble wife leans on her hufband, or the weak child on its parent, with confidence that he will support him ; so the believing foul leans or rests on Christ, with a persuasion of support and through-bearing ; that according to his promise, he will Arengthen, help; and uphold to the end, “ with the right-hand of his righteousness.”
7. It implies, that there is something in Christ that the hand or arm of faith stays and leans. upon, as we come up from the wilderness. Sometimes faith stays itself on the person of Christ, as he is “ Emmanuel, God with us ;" sometimes upon his love, which passeth knowledge, Psal. xxxvi. 7. “ How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.” Sometimes it stays itself upon his name ; for “they that know his name will put their trust in him :" sometimes on his milGon, as the “ fent of God, the great Apostle of our profession;" it takes him up as God's legate, his ambassador-extraordinary, sent to seek and to save that which was lost. It leans upon his general office as Mediator, for peace and reconciliation with God; upon his prophetical office, for instruction and illumination in the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom ; upon his priestly office, for reconciliation and acceptance ; upon his regal or kingly office, for sanctification and deliverance from the power of sin and Satan. It leans upon his fulness for a supply of all wants, believing that that fulness of grace that is in him is to be communicated; for " he received gifts VOL. II.
for men, even for the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell among us.” It sometimes leans upon the relations that Christ is come under to his people in the word, as a friend, a counsellor, a physician, a leader and commander. You see here, that the spouse comes up from the wilderness leaning on him in the relation of a bridegroom and hufband. But of these things I miay discourse more fully in the application. ; I should next give the reasons of this branch of the doctrine, why it is that the believer comes up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved ; but, as I did in the former branch, I shall improve them as motives to enforce the exhortation which I have in view from this branch of the doctrine.
And the Exhortation is, to follow the commendable practice of the spouse, in coming up from the wilderness of this world, towards the land of glory, leaning on him as your beloved : or, which is the same thing, in other words, Study, while you are travellers on the earth, to live by faith on the Son of God. This was the practice of Paul, the great apostle of the Gentiles, Gal. ii. 20. “ I am crucified with Christ: Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Chrift liveth in me: and the life which I now jive in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. This was the practice of that cloud of witnesses who have travelled to glory before us, Heb. xi. 13. “ These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” .'
But now, in pursuing this exhortation a little, I shall,
1. Endeavour to illustrate and clear it, in answering a few questions.
2. Enforce it with a few motives
I. I would illustrate this exhortation, by answering a few questions. And
The first question which may be offered is this : You exhort us to a life of faith on Christ; but pray tell us, in the first place, what it is to live apon him by faith, and what influence faith has upon our journey while in the wilderness ?
This question was in some measure answered already, in giving the import of the expression in the text, the spouse's leáning on her beloved. I shall surther add, that this life of faith, it does not lie in one single act of believing, but in the continuation of faith or believing through the whole course of your life in the world : “ The life I live in the flesh,” that is, while I am in the body, " is by faith on the Son of God."
Some are ready to imagine, that, when they have once belie, ved in Christ, they have no more ado but to look back on their first closing with Chrift; and upon that act of faith they rest, as their security for life and falvation, without any great concern to repeat and renew it. I am afraid, if this be your way of doing, you are yet strangers both to faith in the firit and after allings of it. Men are called believers, not because they have put forth one fingle act of faith, but because they are or Mhould be continually believing. It is true, the firit act of faith ties the knot between Chriit and the foul, that thall never be loosed through eternity ; but where this act of faith has been exerted, there will be frequent attempts towards the repetition of it. Faith is called an “ eating the ficth, and drinking the blood of the Son of man," Now, you know, ic is not a man's taking one single meal in his whole life that will sub6ft his body, but he must be eating and drinking every day, and frequently through the day, otherwise his natural life would soon languish: fo here, there must be a continual feeding upon the incarnation and satisfaction of Christ, in order to the preservation and maintenance of the fpiritual life of the foul; the life of the soul can no more be maintained by one act of faith, than the life of the body can be main. tained by one meal for any lang space of time. Faith is called a ".drawing water out of the wells of salvation,” If. xii. 3. It will not do our business to come once to the well, the water in the cistern will soon be spent; and therefore we must be daily coming back to the fountain for new water: so here, the life of faith is a continual coming to Christ, and a “receiving out of his fulness grace for grace.” Grace receiveri into the vessel of the soul will, like water, soon stagnate by reason of the corruption of the verrel, and it will loon be spent; what we get this day will not serve us the next : and therefore there mult be a continual application to him for new supply, a continued drawing “ water out of the wells of salvation.” The branches live every day upon their root; the branches draw, and the root communicates fup unto.them for their nourishment and growth : so here, “ As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye (says Christ) except ye abide in me.” This continued believing in Chriit is called (Col. ii. 19.)'a « holding the head, from which the whole body, as by joints and bands, having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.” The members of the natural body, they are continually receiving life, and spirit, and conduct, from their head; so, by the faith of God's operation, whereby we are united to Christ, we are continually receiving
thao that grace and fulness that is in him, “ till we come unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” And this is the life of faith that I exhort you to, in order to your comfortable journey through the wilderness of this world.
There are two ways by which your life will be maintained and nourished from Christ through eternity; one in this world, and another in the world to come. So long as we are in this world, we are like children in the mother's belly, entirely nourished and maintained by faith, (like the string by which we are nourished in our mother's belly), which fucks in the life, righteousness, and fulness of Christ into the soul : but no sooner do we pass out of this world into the life of glory, but the string of faith is cut, and then we come to be nourished another way, namely, by immediate viGon of the Lord. As the child is nourished in the womb till it is fully ripe for the birth; so faith nourishes the soul till it be fully ripe for glory; and then faith is turned into full fruition, and immediate enjoyment.
To illustrate this matter, I shall in a few particulars Thow the influence that faith has through the whole of the Christian's work and warfare in the wilderness, from first to laft. ..1. It is faith that gives the soul the first ken of Christ, and of the way of salvation through him; it is the eye that first spies him out, as the all-sufficient Saviour provided by God the Fa. ther. When the poor soul has been as it were beaten, battered, and tossed among the waves and tempefts of law•terTors, and apprehensions of eternal wrath and vengeance, in which case it has been as it were calting its most valuable goods overboard, its own righteousness, morality, civility, its duties, abilities, legal attainments, and every thing else : now, while the soul is in this condition, every moment expecting to be swallowed up in the great deeps of the sea of God's wrath, faith as it were keps up to the top of the mast, and gets a view of Christ, and of salvation in him ; and thereupon the poor foul cries out, Oh there is Christ, let me get aboard of him ; Oh there is the Rock of ages, I will venture my all upon him ; Oh there is a strong hold and a refuge, I will flee in unto him; Oh - this is my rest, here will I dwell, for my foul likes it well.” Thus, I say, it is by faith that we first enter into a
ftate of grace, peace, and rightevuiness ; according to that · word of the apostle, Rom. v. 2. “ We have access by faith
into this grace wherein we stand.” When the soul was surrounded with nothing but the black thoughts of despair and ruin, faith lands the foul in a safe harbour : therefore ” he
that hath believed” is said to have “entered into his rest,”
2. It is by faith that the union is made up between Christ and us. Indeed there is a radical union that we have with Christ before faith; for he takes hold of us first by his Spirit, before we take hold of him by faith: but yet the union is made up on our part by faith, it is that which ties the marriage knot. It is not love, but consent, that makes marriage between man and woman : so here, it is the soul's coming off from the law, and all other husbands; its coming off from its own righteousness, and submitting unto Christ as a Saviour, a Husband, and a Surety; this is it that makes up the union, and this is done by faith. There are two things that marry Christ and the soul together, as is plain from Hof. ii. 19. 20. The first is on God's part; he says to us in the covenant, and by his Spirit, “ I will betrothe thee unto me in faithfulness, and in loving kindness:" there, I say, is God's part. But what is it on our part that makes the marriage? It follows, “ and thou shalt know the Lord,” that is, thou shalt believe in him; for this is the way that faith is very commonly expressed by in the Old Testament, viz. by the knowledge of the Lord. It is faith that brings Christ unto the heart, and reveals him to the soul in all his gloTy and excellency. -,3. As union, so our communion with Christ is by faith. There are two things requisite in order to our having fellowthip with another; the first is, to make the person real and prelent; and the second is, to have a familiar access with oldness unto him. Now, it is faith that doth both there. 1.) It is faith that makes God in Christ present unto the loul : for it “ sees him who is invisible :" yea, it brings Christ hd God in him, down from heaven unto the heart ; hence filt is said to “ dwell in our hearts by faitly.” It is not love
can make another person present; it may indeed set the cy a.work to frame the picture and image of the person ved; but it is only faith that can view God in Christ as ent in and with the soul. And then, (2.) It is faith that
§ familiarity and boldness of access unto the Lord : 1. 12. “ In whom we have boldness and access with dence by the faith of him." And, 2 Cor. ii. 18. “ Beng him with open face," we come to him ; “ with open
that is, with confidence and boldness : Plal. xxxiv. 5. y looked unto him, and were lightened :" and what fol.
catheir faces were not ashamed;" that is, when they Chrilt by faith, they had boldness of access unto God
The communion that we have with Christ is frea any compared unto eating and drinking, John vi. becaule
face," that is, with co "They looked un lows ?'« Their faces, viewed Christ by faith, in him. The com quently compared