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I might enlarge this head in a great many particulars. I only add, in so many words, whatever we can name in and about the believer, it all hangs upon Christ. Hast thou ans faith, believer? Why, Christ is the author and finisher of it. Hast thou any spark ot true love to God? It i3 Christ that kindled it; he it is that lheds abroad the love of God in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. Halt thou the lively hope of a glory to come? Why, he is our hope; and it is Christ in us that is the hope of glory. Hast thou any delight in the law, and in the ways of holiness? Well, he puts his Spirit in us, causing us to walk in his statutes. Halt thou any thing of that peace which pssses all understanding? Well, Christ is our peace with Gud, for he made peace by the blood of his cross.; and his blood, applied by faith, yields peace like a river: '• Peace I leave with you, my peace 1 give unto you." Hast thou a joy that is unspeakable, and full of glory? Christ is the fountain of it; the river that makes glad the city of God, takes its rife frem u::der the throne of God, and of the Lamb. Thus you fee that the offspring and the issue, and every thing about them, hangs upon the blessed nail, &c.
Thirdly, But now I am come to a third thing in the test which hangs upon the nail fastened in a lure place, and that is the vessels of the house, from vejpls ofcups to vessels of flagons. Now, for clearing this clause of th- text, 1 would, I. Shew what we are to understand by the vessels of the house. 2. Shew that these vessels are of different sizes, some vessels of cups, others vessels of flagons. 3. Make it appear that they all hang upon Christ, and by what bonds they do so.
1. I would sliew whu we are to understand by the vessels of the house. I answer, By the vessels of the house we are to understand believers, who, under different considerations, are sometimes called the h:ufe itself, Heb. iii. 6.; sometimes the feed and offspring of the hnufc, as here, and Psal. xxii. at the close;' sometimes the leslls of the house, 2 Tim. ii. 20. 21. "But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold, and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, anrl si .re to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he sh.dl be a vessel unto honour, sat.citified and meet sol rhe Waster's use, and p.ep.ired unto every good work." I fi-d several epithets or designation'; given in scripture unto h. lievers, ut.der the notion of vessels. Sometimes they arc c::l..-d chosen vessels, Ad\s> ix. 15. fay:, the Lord to Ananias concerning Paul, '• He is a cholen vessel unfo me." They were all cl.olen in Christ before the foundation of the world. Soireiimes \<f;l:s cf nnrey, Ron., ix. 2j. because it is not according to the work of righteousness liiat they have done, but
according 2ccrrdwg to his mercy, that he laves thtm. Sometimes "prepared vessels, fitted for the Master's use," 2 Tim. ii. 21. because he forms them for himself, to shew forth his praises. Sometimes " vessels of honour and glory," because he draws a greater revenue of honour and glory to himlclf from them, than from all the world beside. In a word, they are called vejsels, because the milt, the wine, the honey, and the oil of divine gTace, u bestoweu r.nd laid up in them ; out of the fulness of Christ they are daily receiving grace for grace. And as the vessels of a house are its ornament, so are truitful believers the ornament of the church, and of the great owner thereof, for ht calls them his crown and diadem.
2. We are here told that these vessels ;ire of different sizes i some are vejjeh of cups, others are vejjtls of'flagons ,■ plainly intimating, that in God's family there are faints of different stature; there are babes, young men, and fatheis; lor " unto every one is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ." Some art like the smoking flax, others lik« a flaming lamp; some like the bruised reed, others like the tall cedar of Lebanon.
And if you nik me, why God will have it so, that the vessels of the house Ihall he of different sizes? I answer, (1.) For the manifestation ot his ov.-n sovereignty. He is the Lord of the house, and he will do all his pleasure; and it is the good will and pleasure of God to give more ot his grace unto o:-ie, snd to another less; " and who may fay unto him, What dolt thou r" He is no man's debtor, but may do with his own what he pleases. (2.) Because this is for the beauty and ornament of the house. It serves not a little to ornament and adorn a house, that there are different vessels in it, some more, and feme less, for different services; the least vessel, like the least member in the natural body, has its proper usefulness in the body, so that the one cannot say to the other, " I have no need need of thee." (3.) God will have it so, that there may be room for the edifying exercises oi the fellowship of the saints. If every faint had the fame degree of faith, love, knowledge, »nd other grace?, the one could not be edified by the oth^r: but it is otherwise ordered, that tiit strong may be uleful to the we^k in strengthening; and that those who hive more knowledge and experience than ethers, may communicate of their gifts to the benefit and edifying others, until they ail come to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature cf the fulness of Christ. But I do not infill on this at present. 1 come,
3. To fhe-jr that all the vessels of different sizes, from vessels cf cup-;, to vessels of fhgons, do hang upon t.'.c great Manager, .'isus Christ, as upon a nail fasteiud in a sure place. This is *hat is commerly called the mystical union between Christ
and and believers, and is in scripture set forth to us by a variety of metaphors: sometimes by the union that is between the branches of a tree and the root of it; for as all the branches hang upon the root, and receive their sap and nourishment, growth, and fruit from it, so doth every believer, whether of a higher or lower stature, receive life, grace, and growth from Christ, Hos. xiv. 8. "I am like a green fir-tree, from me is thy fruit found." John xv. 5. " I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the fame bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do notiling." Sometimes this union is represented by the union betwixt the building, and the foundation upon which it stands. As the whole building, and every stone of it, hangs and rests on the foundation, and receives their support and stability srcii it; so doth the whole house of God, and every spiritual stone thereof, hang upon Christ by faith of his operation, 1 Pit. ii. 4. 5. •* To whom coming, as unto a living stone,— ye nlso as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house," &c. Sometimes this union is represented to us by the union betwixt head and members of the natural body, for which I refer you to two texts of scripture, Eph. iv. 15. 16. Col. ii. 19. from which you see, that the whole body, and every particular member, greater or lesser, hangs upon Christ as by joints and bands. But here arises the main question to our present purpose.
§>uest. What are these bands by which all believers, from the halt to the greatest, hang upon Christ?
Atisw. These bands are principally two. (1.) The Spirit. (2.) Faith of the Spirit's operation.
\st, I fay, the Spirit is one, and the principal band whereby believers do h;mg upon Christ: I Cor. vi. 17. *• He that is joined unto the Lord, is one spirit with him." By the Spr Tit the union is made up berween Christ and his members, Eph. ii. ult. "We are built up an habitation of God through the Spirit;" yea, the Spirit himself is the band, 1 John iii. ult. " We know that he (viz. Christ) abideth in us, because of the Spirit that dwelleth in us." The Spirit of life that is in Christ Jesus, by the means of the word, in a day of conversion, enters into the foul, and quickens it; and in the very quickening by the Spirit, it becomes a member of Christ j and so for ever after it hangs upon him as a nail in a sure place.
2dfy, Another band, by which they all hang upon the nail,
is faith of the Spirit's operation. Not a mere historical, tern
porary, partial, or legal faith ; but a living, working, justifying
and sanctifying faith, which applies and appropriates Chiil by the means of the word of grace and promise ; such a faith . -seats the fL-sli, and drinks the blood of Chrilt, and so lives in and upon him, according to that of the apostle, Gal. ii. 20. "I am crucified with Christ: Nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ that liveth in me: and the life I live is by faith on theiion of God." In a word, faith hangs all its everlasting concerns upon the nail fastened in a sure place, and there it stays and rests all its cares and concerns ; and in this way the loul is kept in perfect peace, knowing that the nail being well fastened will not yield and give way. And thus you fee how it is that all the glory, the whole offspring and issue, and all the vessels of the house, greater and lesser, hang upon our blessed Eliakim.
V. The fifth thing in the general method is, to inquire into :ht rtasons of the doclr'me. V/hy is Christ constitute lole Manager of his Father's house? why doth he hang the offspring and issue, and all the Vessels, upon him, as upon a nail fastened in a sure place?
I shall not stay in answering this question, the reasons of it will naturally occur from what has been already said; only* therefore, in so many words, the management of the house, and of all its concerns, are committed unto Christ, because it was the good pleasure of God that it should be so. But though sovereignty is enough to satisfy us upon the head, yet there are some ways of Infinite Wisdom to be observed in this constitution of things in the church which is the house of the living God; at,
1. He only had ability for bearing such a weight -, " I have laid help (faith the Lord), upon one that is mighty."
2. Because Christ voluntarily undertook it in the council of P<ace, saying, "Lo, I come: I delight to do thy will, O my God." Whereupon Jehovah, the Father, said anddetermiwd, " He shall build the temple, and bear all the glory."
3. Because hereby a new revenue of glory is brought in to 'he God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, even glory to God in the highest, higher glory than what comes in by creation and providence.
4- Because hereby all men are brought to honour the Son, 2s they honour the Father. "Every knee (hall bow unto him, a«l every tongue shall confess, that he is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
5. Because this was for the safety and comfort of the saints Jnd children of God. All their everlasting concerns hang upon him, that they may warble out that song through eter"ty, Rev. v. 12. 13. " Worthy is the Lamb that was slain,
Vet. III. O to
to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under theeartli, and suen as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I, faying, Blessing, and honour, Mid glory, and power be unto him that fitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever."
Is. xxii. 24.-—And they shall hang upon him all the glory os bis Father's house, the offspring, and the issue, all vtsstls of small quantity : from the vessels of cups, even t3 all the vessels of flagoni.
, ■ THE FOURTH 6ERMQN ON THIS TEXT.
yr '1 "*HE fixth thing is the Application of the dercX trine.
First, For Information and Inftruclion. I have deduced several inferences already, intermingled with the doctrinal part, and therefore I shall mention the fewer at present.
i. See hence, why it is that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro, to shew himself strong on the behalf of his people in this world *, why he rides in the heavens for their htlp, antl makes all things work together for their good. There is good reason for it; they arc the offspring and issue of his family j they are the gold and silver vessels of his house ; and you know, if a man have power and ability, he will not suffer his offspring to be hurt, or his house to be plundered of its valuable furniture, which perhaps he has bought at a dear rate. Hence it is that he watches his house by day and night, lest any hurt it. All his faints are in the hand of the great Manager, and he dcues hell and earth to pluck them out of his hand.
2. See hence, what trust and credit our glorious KinsmanRedeemer has with his Father. Why, you fee how that he puts the whole family under his hand; lie hangs the whole ylory upon him, all the offspring and issue, and all the vessels,