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Others there are who may be some way strangers, but are no way enemies unto this mystery, and to the practical exercise of faith therein : unto such I shall tender the ensuing directions.
1. Reckon in your minds, that this beholding of the glory of Christ by beholding the glory of God, and all his holy properties in him, is the greatest privilege whereof in this life we can be made partakers. The dawning of heaven is in it, and the first-fruits of glory; for this is life eternal to know the Father, and whom he hath sent, Christ Jesus; John xvii. 3. Unless you value it, unless you esteem it as such a privilege, you will not enjoy it; and that which is not valued according unto its worth, is despised. It is not enough to think it a privilege, an advantage ; but it is to be valued above other things according unto its greatness and excellency. • Destruction and death say, we have heard the fame of it with our ears ;' Job xxviii. 22. And if we do no more, we shall die strangers unto it; we are to 'cry after this knowledge, and lift up our voice for this understanding,' if we design to attain it.
2. As it is a great privilege which requires a due valuation, so it is a great mystery which requires much spiritual wisdom to the right understanding of it, and to direct in its practice; 1 Cor. ii. 4, 5. Flesh and blood will not reveal it unto us, but we must be taught of God, to apprehendit; John ... 12, 13. Matt. xvi. 16, 17. Mere unsanctified reason will never enable us unto, nor guide us in, the discovery of this duty. Men are not so vain as to hope for skill and understanding in the mystery of a secular art or trade, without the diligent use of those means whereby it may be attained ; and shall we suppose that we may be furnished with spiritual skill and wisdom in this sacred mystery, without diligence in the use of the means appointed of God for the attaining of it? The principal of them is fervent prayer. Pray then with Moses, that God would shew you this his glory;' pray with the apostle, that' the eyes of your understanding may be enlightened to behold it;' pray 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. Fill your minds with spiritual thoughts and contrivances about them. Slothful and lazy souls never obtain one view of this glory; the lion in the way' deters thein from attempting it. Being carnal they abhor all diligence in the use of spiritual means, such as prayer and meditation on things unto them uneasy, unpleasing, and difficult. Unto others the way partakes of the nature of the end; the means of obtaining a view of the glory of Christ are of the same kind, of the same pleasantness, with that view itself in their proportion.
3. Learn the use hereof from the actings of contrary vicious habits. When the minds of men are vehemently fixed on the pursuit of their lusts, they will be continually ruminating on the objects of them, and have a thousand contrivances about them, until their eyes become full of an adulteress, and they cannot cease from sinning, as the apostle speaks. The objects of their lusts have framed and raised an image of themselves in their minds and transformed them into their own likeness. Is this the way of them who go down to the chambers of death? Do they thus frame their souls, and make them meet for destruction, until their words, gestures, actions, proclaim the frame of their minds unto all that look upon them? And shall we be slothful and negligent in the contemplation of that glory which transforms our minds into its own likeness, so as that the eyes of our understandings shall be continually filled with it, until we see him and behold him continually, so as never to cease from the holy acts of delight in him, and love unto him ?
4. Would we then behold the glory of God as he manifesteth it in and by the holy properties of his nature, with their blessed operations and effects, without which we have nothing of the power of religion in us, whatever we pretend; this alone is the way of it. Go to the whole creation and all things contained in it; they can say no more, but' we have heard the fame and report of these things, and what we have heard we declare ; but it is but a little portion of them that we are acquainted withal. “The heavens' indeed • declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handy work. The invisible things of God are understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.' But comparatively, it is but little that we can hence learn of these things, as unto that we may behold of them in Christ Jesus. How blind herein was the best philo
sopher in comparison of the meanest of the apostles, yea, of him who is least in the kingdom of heaven?
But herein it is required, that we rest not in the notion of this truth, and a bare assent unto the doctrine of it. The affecting power of it upon our hearts, is that which we should aim at. Wherein doth the blessedness of the saints above consist? Is it not herein, that they behold and see the glory of God in Christ? And what is the effect of it upon those blessed souls ? Doth it not change them into the same image, or make them like unto Christ? Doth it not fill and satiate them with joy, rest, delight, complacency, and ineffable satisfaction? Do we expect, do we desire, the same state of blessedness? It is our present view of the glory of Christ which is our initiation thereinto, if we are exercised in it, until we have an experience of its transforming power in our souls.
These things are, it may be, of little use unto some. Such as are babes in spiritual knowledge and understanding, either because they are carnal, 1 Cor. iii. 1, 2. or slothful in hearing, Heb. v. 12–14. are not capable of these divine mysteries. And therefore, the apostle did in an especial manner declare this wisdom of God in a mystery unto them that were perfect; 1 Cor. ii. 6, 7. that is, who were more grown in spiritual knowledge, and had their senses exercised to discern good and evil.' It is unto them who are exercised in the contemplation of invisible things, who delight to walk in the more retired paths of faith and love, to whom they are precious.
Some few inferences from the whole of what hath been declared, shall put a close to this part of our discourse.
1. The holy properties of the divine nature are not only represented unto our faith in Christ, as unto their own essential glory, but as they are in the exercise of their powers for the salvation of the church. In him do we behold the wisdom, goodness, love, grace, mercy, and power of God, acting themselves in the contrivance, constitution, and efficacious accomplishment of the great work of our redemption and salvation. This gives, as unto us, an unutterable lustre unto the native amiableness of the divine excellencies. The wisdom and love of God are in themselves infinitely glorious, infinitely amiable ; nothing can be added unto them, there can be no increase of their essential glory. Ho as they are eternally resident in the divine nature, ai solutely the same with it, we cannot so comprehend as to have an endearing satiating view of their glory as they are exerted in the work of the redemption anı vation of the church, as they are expressed, communic their blessed effects unto the souls of them that do bel which is done only in Christ ; so the beams of their g shine unto us with unspeakable refreshment and joy; 21 iv. 6. Hence the apostle, on the consideration of the acti of the holy properties of God in this blessed work, falls i that contemplation; 'O the depth of the riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who ha known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counst lor? or who hath first given unto him, and it shall be recor pensed unto him again ? For of him, and through him, ar 1 to him are all things ; to whom be glory for ever. Amen ;' Rom. xi. 33-36.
2. In and through Christ we do believe in God; 1 Pet. i. 24. This is the life of our souls. God himself, in the infinite perfections of his divine nature, is the ultimate object of our faith, but he is not here the immediate object of it, but the divine way and means of the manifestation of himself and them unto us, are so. Through Christ we believe in God. By our belief in him, we come to place our faith ultimately in God himself; and this we can no otherwise do, but by beholding the glory of God in him, as hath been declared.
3. This is the only way whereby we may attain the saving, sanctifying knowledge of God. Without this, every beam of divine light that shines on us, or gleams from without, (as the light shineth into darkness when the darkness comprehendeth it not; John i. 5.) every spark that ariseth from the remainders of the light of nature within, do rather amaze the minds of men, than lead them into the saving knowledge of God. So a glance of light in a dark night, giving a transient view of various objects, and passing away, doth rather amaze, than direct a traveller, and leave him more exposed unto wandering than before. Such were all those notions of the Divine Being and his excellencies, which
those who boasted themselves to be wise among the heathen embraced and improved. They did but fluctuate in their minds, they did not transform them into the image and likeness of God, as the saving knowledge of him doth; Col. iii. 10.
So the apostle expresseth this truth; Where is the wise? Where is the Scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world ? For after that in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Gentiles seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them that are called both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God;' 1 Cor. i. 20—24.
After it was evident unto all, that the world, the wise, the studious, the contemplative part of it, in the wisdom of God disposing them into that condition, wherein they were left unto themselves, in their own wisdom, their natural light and reason did not, could not, come to the saving knowledge of God, but were puffed up into a contempt of the only way of the revelation of himself, as weakness and folly; it pleased God then to manifest all their wisdom to be folly; and to establish the only means of the knowledge of himself in Christ Jesus.
The glory of Christ in the mysterious constitution of his person. The second thing wherein we may behold the glory of Christ given him of his Father, is in the mysterious constitution of his person, as he is God and man in one and the same person. There are in him, in his one single, individual person, two distinct natures; the one eternal, infinite, immense, almighty, the form and essence of God; the other having a beginning in time, finite, limited, confined unto a certain place, which is our nature, which he took on him,