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and shall be to eternity, the only means of communication between God and the church.
And we may take some direction in our looking into and longing after this perfect view of the glory of Christ, from the example of the saints under the Old Testament. The sight which they had of the glory of Christ, for they also saw his glory through the obscurity of its revelation, and its being veiled with types and shadows, was weak and imperfect in the most illuminated believers, much inferior unto what we now have by faith, through the gospel. Yet such it was, as encouraged them to inquire and search diligently into what was revealed; 1 Pet. i. 10, 11. Howbeit, their discoveries were but dark and confused, such as men have of things at a great distance, or in a land that is very far off,' as the prophet speaks, Isa. xxxiii. 16. And the continuance of this veil on the revelation of the glory of Christ, whilst a veil of ignorance and blindness was upon their hearts and minds, proved the ruin of that church in its apostacy, as the apostle declares, 2 Cor. iii. 7. 13, 14. This double veil (the covering covered, the veil veiled) God promised to take away, Isa. xxv. 7. and then shall they turn to the Lord, when they shall be able clearly to behold the glory of Christ; 2 Cor. iii. 16.
But this caused them who were real believers among them to desire, long, and pray for, the removal of these veils, the departure of those shadows, which made it as night unto them in comparison of what they knew would appear, when • the Sun of righteousness should arise with healing in his wings.' They thought it long ere “the day did break, and the shadows flee away;' Cant. ii. 17. iv. 6. There was an åtokapadokia, as the apostle speaks, Rom. viii. 19. a thrusting forth of the head with desire and expectation of the exhibition of the Son of God in the flesh, and the accomplishment of all divine promises therein. Hence he was called * the Lord whom they sought and delighted in ;' Mal. iii. 1.
And great was the spiritual wisdom of believers in those days. They rejoiced and gloried in the ordinances of divine worship, which they did enjoy. They looked on them as their chiefest privilege, and attended unto them with diligence, as an effect of divine wisdom and love, as also because they had a shadow of good things to come. But yet
at the same time they longed and desired that the time of reformation were come, wherein they should all be removed; that so they might behold and enjoy the good things signified by them. And those who did not so, but rested in, and trusted unto, their present institutions, were not accepted with God. Those who were really illuminated did not so, but lived in constant desires after the revelation of the whole mystery of the wisdom of God in Christ, as did the angels themselves; 1 Pet. i. 3. Eph. iii. 9, 10.
In this frame of heart and suitable actings of their souls, there was more of the power of true faith and love than is found among the most at this day. They saw the promises afar of, and were persuaded of them and embraced them; Heb. xi. 13. They reached out the arms of their most intent affections, to embrace the things that were promised. We have an instance of this frame in old Simeon, who so soon as he had taken the child Jesus in his arms, cried out, Now Lord, let me depart,' now let me die, this is that which my soul hath longed for; Luke ii. 28, 29.
Our present darkness and weakness in beholding the glory of Christ, is not like theirs. It is not occasioned by a veil of types and shadows, cast on it by the representative institutions of it; it doth not arise from the want of a clear doctrinal revelation of the person and office of Christ; but, as was before declared, it proceedeth from two other causes. First, from the nature of faith itself in comparison of vision. It is not able to look directly into this excellent glory, nor fully to comprehend it. Secondly, from the way of its proposal, which is not substantial of the thing itself, but only of an image of it, as in a glass. But the sight, the view of the glory of Christ, which we shall have in heaven, is much more above that which we now enjoy by the gospel, than what we do, or may so enjoy, is above what they have attained under their types and shadows. There is a far greater distance between the vision of heaven, and the sight which we have now by faith, than is between the sight which we now have, and what they had under the Old Testament. Heaven doth more excel the gospel state, than that state doth the law. Wherefore, if they did so pray, so long for, so desire the removal of their shadows and veils, that they might see what we now see, that they might so behold the glory of Christ, as we may behold it in the light of the gospel; how much more should we, if we have the same faith with them, the same love (which neither will, nor can be satisfied without perfect fruition), long and pray for the removal of all weakness, of all darkness and interposition, that we may come unto that immediate beholding of his glory, which he so earnestly prayed that we might be brought unto.
To sum up briefly what hath been spoken. There are three things to be considered concerning the glory of Christ, three degrees in its manifestation; the shadow, the perfect image, and the substance itself. Those under the law bad only the shadow of it, and of the things that belong unto it; they had not the perfect image of them, Heb. x. 1. Under the gospel we have the perfect image, which they had not; or a clear complete revelation and declaration of it, presenting it unto us as in a glass : but the enjoyment of these things in their substance is referred for heaven; we must be ' where he is, that we may behold his glory.' Now there is a greater difference and distance between the real substance of any thing, and the most perfect image of it, than there is between the most perfect image, and the lowest shadow of the same thing. If then they longed to be freed from their state of types and shadows, to enjoy the representation of the glory of Christ in that image of it, which is given us in the gospel; much more ought we to breathe and pant after our deliverance from beholding it in the image of it, that we may enjoy the substance itself. For whatever can be manifest of Christ on this side heaven, it is granted unto us for this end, that we may the more fervently desire to be present with him.
And as it was their wisdom and their grace to rejoice in the light they had, and in those typical administrations of divine worship which shadowed out the glory of Christ unto them; yet did always pant after that more excellent light and full discovery of it, which was to be made by the gospel; so it will be ours also, thankfully to use and improve the revelations which we enjoy of it, and those institutions of worship, wherein our faith is assisted in the view thereof; yet so as continually to breathe after that perfect, that glorifying sight of it, which is reserved for heaven above.
And may we not a little examine ourselves by these things? Do we esteem this pressing towards the perfect view of the glory of Christ to be our duty, and do we abide in the performance of it? If it be otherwise with any of us, it is a signal evidence that our profession is hypocritical. If Christ be in us, he is the hope of glory in us; and where that hope is, it will be active in desires of the things hoped for. Many love the world too well, and have their minds too much filled with the things of it, to entertain desires of speeding through it unto a state wherein they may behold the glory of Christ. They are at home, and are unwilling to be absent from the body, though to be present with the Lord. They hope it may be that such a season will come at one time or another, and then it will be the best they can look for when they can be here no more. But they have but a little sight of the glory of Christ in this world by faith, if any at all, who so little, so faintly desire to have the immediate sight of it above. I cannot understand how any man can walk with God as he ought, or hath that love for Jesus Christ which true faith will produce, or doth place his refreshments and joy in spiritual things, in things above, that doth not on all just occasions, so meditate on the glory of Christ in heaven as to long for an admittance into the immediate sight of it.
Our Lord Jesus Christ alone perfectly understood wherein the eternal blessedness of them that believe in him, doth consist. And this is the sum of what he prays for with respect unto that end; namely, that we may be where he is to behold his glory. And is it not our duty to live in a continual desire of that which he prayed so earnestly that we might attain? If in ourselves, we as yet apprehend but little of the glory, the excellency, the blessedness of it, yet ought we to repose that confidence in the wisdom and love of Christ, that it is our best, infinitely better than any thing we can enjoy here below.
Unto those who are inured unto those contemplations, they are the salt of their lives, whereby every thing is condited and made savoury unto them, as we shall shew afterward. And the want of spiritual diligence herein, is that which hath brought forth a negligent, careless, wordy profession of religion, which countenancing itself with some outward duties, hath lost out of it the power of faith and love in their principal operations. Hereby many deceive their own souls. Goods, lands, possessions, relations, trades, with secular interests in them, are the things whose image is drawn on their minds, and whose characters are written on their foreheads as the titles whereby they may be known. As believers beholding the glory of Christ in the blessed glass of the gospel, are changed into the same image and likeness by the Spirit of the Lord; so these persons beholding the beauty of the world, and the things that are in it, in the cursed glass of self-love, they are in their minds changed into the same image. Hence perplexing fears, vain hopes, empty embraces of perishing things, fruitless desires, earthly, carnal designs, cursed, self-pleasing imaginations, feeding on, and being fed by, the love of the world and self, do abide and prevail in them. But we have not so learned Christ Jesus.
The second difference between our beholding the glory of Christ by faith
in this world, and by sight in heaven. Faith is the light wherein we behold the glory of Christ in this world. And this in its own nature, as unto this great end, is weak and imperfect, like weak eyes, that cannot behold the sun in its beauty. Hence our sight of it differs greatly from what we shall enjoy in glory, as hath been declared. But this is not all; it is frequently hindered and interrupted in its operations, or it loseth the view of its object by one means or other. As he who sees any thing at a great distance, sees it imperfectly; and the least interposition or motion takes it quite out of his sight. So is it with our faith in this matter; whence sometimes we can have little, sometimes no sight at all of the glory of Christ by it. And this gives us, as we shall see, another difference between faith and sight.
Now, although the consideration hereof may seem a kind of diversion from our present argument, yet I choose to in