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according as corrupt lusts and affections are prevalent in them. See John i, 44. xii. 43. Hence is the difference that is among the common hearers of the word. For although no man can do any thing of himself for the receiving of Christ, and the beholding of his glory, without the especial aid of the grace of God, Matt. xi. 24. John vi. 44, 45, yet some may make more opposition unto believing, and lay more hinderances in their own way, than others; which is done by their lusts and corruptions.
3. There are those in whom both these evils are cured by faith, wherein the eyes of our understandings are enlightened to perceive and discern spiritual things; Eph. i. 16-18. But this cure is wrought in this life but in part; 1 Cor. xiii. 12. And in this cure by a supply of a principle of saving light unto our minds, there are many degrees. For some have a clearer light than others, and thereby a more clear discerning of the mystery of the wisdom of God, and of the glory of Christ therein. But whatever be our attainments herein, that which obstructs this light, that hinders it from shining in a due manner, that obstructs and hinders faith in its view of the glory of Christ. And this is done by the remainders of corrupted nature in us, when they act in any prevalent degree. For they darken the mind, and weaken it in its spiritual operations. That is, where any corrupt and inordinate affections, as love of the world, cares about it, inclinations unto sensuality, or the like spiritual disorders do prevail, faith is weakened in its spiritual acts, especially in discerning and beholding the glory of Christ. For the mind is rendered unsteady in its inquiries after it, being continually distracted and diverted with vain thoughts and imaginations.
Persons under the power of such distempers may have the same doctrinal knowledge of the person of Christ, his office, and his grace, with other men, and the same evidence of its truth fixed on their minds; but when they endeavour a real intuition into the things themselves, all things are dark and confused unto them from the uncertainty and instability of their own minds.
This is the sum of what I do design. First, We have by faith a view of the glory of Christ. This view is weak and unsteady from the nature of faith itself, and the way of its pro
posal unto us as in a glass, in comparison of what by sight we shall attain unto. But moreover, where corrupt lusts or inordinate affections are indulged unto, where they are not continually mortified, where any one sin hath a perplexing prevalency in the mind, faith will be so far weakened thereby, as that it can neither see nor meditatè upon this glory of Christ in a due manner. This is the reason why the most are so weak and unstable in the performance of this duty; yea, are almost utterly unacquainted with it. The light of faith in the minds of men being impaired, clouded, darkened, by the prevalency of unmortified lusts, it cannot make such discoveries of this glory, as otherwise it would do. And this makes the preaching of Christ unto many so unprofitable as it is.
Secondly, In the view of the glory of Christ which we have by faith, it will fill the mind with thoughts and meditations about him, whereon the affections will cleave unto him with delight. This, as was said, is inseparable from a spiritual view of his glory in its due exercise. Every one that hath it, must and will have many thoughts concerning, and great affections to, him. See the description of these things, Phil. iii. 8. 10. It is not possible, I say, that we should behold the glory of his person, office, and grace, with a due conviction of our concernment and interest therein, but that our minds will be greatly affected with it, and be filled with contemplations about it. Where it is not so with any, it is to be feared that they have not heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape,' whatever they profess. A spiritual sight of Christ will assuredly produce love unto him; and if any man love him not, he never saw him, he knows him not at all. And that is no love, which doth not beget in us many thoughts of the object beloved. He, therefore, who is partaker of this grace, will think much of what Christ is in himself, of what he hath done for us, of his love and condescension of the manifestation of all the glorious excellencies of the divine nature in him, exerted in a way of infinite wisdom and goodness for the salvation of the church. Thoughts and meditations of these things will abound in us, if we are not wanting unto the due exercise of faith; and intense, inflamed affections unto him, will ensue thereon; at least they will be active unto our own refreshing experience. And where these things are not in reality (though in some they may be only in a mean and low degree), men do but deceive their own souls in hopes of any benefit by Christ or the gospel. This, therefore, is the present case.
Where there are prevailing sinful distempers or inordinate affections in the mind, such as those before-mentioned, as self-love, love of the world, cares and fears about it, with an excessive valuation of relations and enjoyments; they will so far cumber and perplex it with a multitude of thoughts about their own objects, as shall leave no place for sedate meditations on Christ and his glory. And where the thoughts are engaged, the affections which partly excite them, and partly are led by them, will be fixed also; Col. iii. 1, 2.
This is that which, in the most, greatly promoteth that imperfection, which is in our view of the glory of Christ, by faith in this life. According to the proportion and degree of the prevalency of affections, corrupt, earthly, selfish, or sensual, filling the heads and hearts of men with a multitude of thoughts about what they are fixed on, or inclined unto; so is faith obstructed and weakened in this work and duty.
Wherefore, whereas there is a remainder of these lusts, as to the seeds of them in us all, though more mortified in some than in others; yet having the same effects in the minds of all, according to the degree of their remainder; thence it is as from an efficacious cause of it, that our view of the glory of Christ by faith, is in many so weak, imperfect and unsteady.
Thirdly, We have interruption given unto the work of faith herein, by the temptations of Satan. His original great design, wherever the gospel is preached, is to blind the
eyes of men, that the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should not shine into them, or irradiate their minds; 2 Cor. iv. 4. And herein he prevails unto astonishment. Let the light of the gospel in the preaching of the word be never so glorious ; yet by various means and artifices, he blinds the minds of the most, that they shall not behold any thing of the glory of Christ therein. By this means he continues his rule in the children of disobedience. With respect unto the elect, God overpowers him herein. He shines into their hearts to give them the knowledge of his glory in the face of Christ
Jesus;' ver. 6. Yet will not Satan so give over. He will endeavour by all ways and means to trouble, discompose, and darken the mind even of them that believe, so as that they shall not be able to retain clear and distinct views of this glory. And this he doth two ways.
1. With some he employs all his engines, useth all his methods of serpentine subtilty, and casts in his fiery darts, so to disquiet, discompose, and deject them, as that they can retain no comfortable views of Christ or his glory. Hence arise fears, doubts, disputes, uncertainties, with various disconsolations. Hereon they cannot apprehend the love of Christ, nor be sensible of any interest they have therein, or any refreshing persuasions that they are accepted with him. If such things sometimes shine and beam into their minds, yet they quickly vanish and disappear. Fears that they are rejected and cast off by him, that he will not receive them here nor hereafter, do come in their place; hence are they filled with anxieties and despondencies, under which it is impossible they should have any clear view of his glory.
I know that ignorance, atheism, and obstinate security in sensual sins, do combine to despise all these things. But it is no new thing in the world, that men outwardly professing Christian religion, when they find gain in that godliness, should speak evil of the things which they know not, and corrupt themselves in what they know naturally, as brute beasts.
2. With others he deals after another manner. By various means he seduceth them into a careless security, wherein they promise peace unto themselves without any diligent search into these things. Hereon they live in a general presumption that they shall be saved by Christ, although they know not how. This makes the apostle so earnest in pressing the duty of self-examination on all Christians, 2 Cor. xiii. 5. Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith ; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, that Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates ?' The rule of self-judging prescribed by him, is whether Christ be in us or no; and in us he cannot be, unless he be received by that faith wherewith we behold his glory. For by faith we
receive him, and by faith he dwelleth in our hearts; John i. 12. Eph. iii. 17.
This is the principal way of his prevailing in the world. Multitudes by his seduction live in great security under the utmost neglect of these things. Security is granted to be an evil destructive of the souls of men ; but then it is supposed to consist only in impenitency for great and open sins; but to be neglective of endeavouring an experience of the power and grace of the gospel in our own souls, under a profession of religion, is no less destructive and pernicious, than impenitency in any course of sin.
These and the like obstructions unto faith in its operations being added unto its own imperfections, are another cause whence our view of the glory of Christ in this world is weak and unsteady; so that for the most part it doth but transiently affect our minds, and not so fully transform them into his likeness, as otherwise it would.
It is now time to consider, that sight which we shall have of the glory of Christ in heaven, in comparison of that which we have here below. Now this is equal, stable, always the same, without interruption or diversion. And this is evident, both in the causes or means of it, as also in our perfect deliverance from every thing that might be a hinderance in it, or an obstruction unto it.
1. We may consider the state of our minds in glory. The faculties of our souls shall then be made perfect; Heb. xii. “The spirits of just men made perfect.' 1. Freed from all the clogs of the flesh, and all its influence upon them, and restraint of their powers in their operations. 2. Per. fectly purified from all principles of instability and variety; of all inclinations unto things sensual and carnal, and all contrivances of self-preservation or advancement, being wholly transformed into the image of God, in spirituality and holiness. And to take in the state of our bodies after the resurrection; even they also, in all their powers and senses, shall be made entirely subservient unto the most spiritual actings of our minds in their highest elevation by the light of glory. Hereby shall we be enabled and fitted eternally to abide in the contemplation of the glory of Christ, with joy and satisfaction. The understanding shall be always