Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > The Bunyan-Burrough Debate > Bunyan, Some Gospel-Truths Opened [5 of 6]
And now, through the assistance of the Lord, I shall come to the last that I promised, and that is to prove, that this very man Christ, will come to judge the quick and the dead.
And, I. I shall prove the truth itself, viz., That that man shall come again to judge the world, quick and dead. II. I shall show you that this coming will be very shortly. III. What shall be done at his coming? IV. Who shall stand when he shall come, and who not?
For the first, That that man that was born of the Virgin Mary shall come again to judge the quick and the dead, read 2 Tim. iv.1. "I" (saith Paul) "charge thee therefore before God," (speaking to him, even to Timothy, and so to all believers,) "and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and kingdom." Now, if you would know who this Lord Jesus is, look into Acts x.38, and you will see it was Jesus of Nazareth; would you know who that was? read Matt. ii. towards the end, and you shall see it was the Son of Mary the Virgin, who was espoused to Joseph the carpenter. But read Acts x.38-42, you shall find these words, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost, and with the power, who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things that he did, both in Jerusalem and in the land of the Jews; whom they slew, and hanged on a tree, even Jesus of Nazareth; him God raised up the third day, and showed him openly, not to all the people, but unto witnesses, chosen before of God; even to us who did eat and drink with him, after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people," (that is, God commanded us,) "and to testify" (that is, to be bold in our preaching) "that it is he" (namely, Jesus of Nazareth, whom the Jews did thus crucify) "which was ordained of God to be judge of quick and dead." This is he also that is spoken of in Acts xvii,30,31: "The times of ignorance God winked at," (meaning men's being without the gospel,) "but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent, because he hath appointed a day," (which day is the day of judgment, Matt. xii.36,) "in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man" (namely, Jesus of Nazareth) "whom he hath ordained," (comp. this with that in Acts x.38-42,) "whereof he hath given assurance to all men," (that is, hath given a sure sign unto all men,) "in that he hath raised him," (that is, in that he hath raised Jesus of Nazareth,) "from the dead." This also is Christ's own meaning, Matt. xxiv., where, speaking of his second coming, he styleth himself the Son of man, saying "And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man, and so shall the coming of the Son of man be." (ver. 27.) "So shall the coming of the Son of man be." (ver. 37.) "So shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (ver. 39.) Where, by the way, it is observable to see how the Lord of life and glory doth in this chapter, where he speaketh of his second coming, for the most part style himself the Son of man. Sure he doth it to this end, because he will not have his humanity and the doctrine thereof to be razed out from under heaven: for he knew that in the last days there would come mockers, "walking after their own lusts, saying, Where is the promise of his coming?" (2 Pet. iii.3.) I could multiply scriptures to prove this doctrine of his second coming, as Heb. ix. ver. last. 2 Pet. iii. 2 Thess. i.6-8. Luke xxi. Matt. xxiv. and xxv. Rev. xxii.7,12, and the last. 2 Cor. v.10. Rom. xiv.10. Acts xxiv.25. But,
II. I will show you that his coming will be shortly. It is true, no man can tell neither the day nor the hour, yet so far as the Scriptures will give us light into the nearness of his coming, so far we may go. And if you read Matt. xxiv., you shall see many signs of his coming spoken of.
1. There is falling away from the faith spoken of. And that hath been fulfilled and is fulfilling every day.
2. Wars and rumours of wars is another sign that his coming doth draw nigh, even at the doors.
3. The love of many waxing cold, is another sign that it is nigh, even the coming of Christ. And how cold is the love of many at this day! They that were hot two or three years ago, are now grown lukewarm and cold. They are cold in the Lord's appearing. They are cold in the profession of the gospel. They are cold in love to the saints; they are cold in the worship of God; yea, very cold, which is a notable demonstration that the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.
4. The stars falling from heaven; (that is, professors falling from the faith which once they professed,) is another sign that the coming of the Lord is at hand. And how many professors do you see now-a-days fall from the doctrine of God and his Son Jesus Christ, as though there were no such thing as a world to come, and no such thing as a Lord Jesus Christ, and his second coming.
5. Many poor souls will go on in their profession with lamps without oil, just before his second coming. And the Lord knows that most of the professors of this generation are such kind of professors, yea, very foolish professors, which is another sure sign that the coming of the Lord draws nigh.
6. When the time of Christ's second coming is at hand, there will be but a very little faith in the world. And the Lord knows that there be many, who are now as high as Lucifer, that at that day, for want of faith, will be thrown down to the sides of the pit; even in the very belly of hell.
7. Another sign of Christ's second coming, is the carnal-mindedness of most of the world; and the very carriages of almost all men now living do discover this truth to be at this day fulfilled, and know that when they shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction comes, and they shall not escape. (1 Thess. v.1-4.)
8. Before Christ's second coming, there shall come many false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, to seduce if it were possible the elect. And is not this more clearly fulfilled in our days than ever it was, especially among those men called Quakers, who being as persons whose consciences are seared with a hot iron, and they being sealed up unto destruction, do some of them call themselves Christ, and show great signs, (as their quaking,) and such a legal holiness as makes the simple admire them, and wonder after them, which shows the coming of Christ to be very nigh.
9. Before Christ's second coming there shall come scoffers in the world, walking after their own lusts; and if ever this scripture was fulfilled, it is fulfilled on these men called Quakers: for they are the men that at this day make a mock at Christ's second coming, which shall be from heaven without; and therefore, saith the Holy Ghost, these mockers shall be such as shall say, Where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were. (See 2 Pet. iii.3-7.) And there you shall see their mocking, and the reason of it. Read, and the Lord will give thee understanding. But I would not have thee think that I speak at random in this thing: know for certain, that I myself have heard them blaspheme; yea, with a grinning countenance, at the doctrine of that Man's second coming from heaven above the stars, who was born of the Virgin Mary. Yea, they have told me to my face, that I have used conjuration and witchcraft, because what I preached was according to the Scriptures. I was also told to my face, that I preached up an idol, because I said, that the Son of Mary was in heaven, with the same body that was crucified on the cross. And many other things have they blasphemously vented against the Lord of life and glory, and his precious gospel. The Lord reward them according as their work shall be.
I could have hinted in many other things which Christ and his Apostles have showed to be signs of his coming. But I shall commend the holy Scriptures unto thee, which are able to make the man of God perfect in all things, through faith in the Lord Jesus.
Now you have also the manner of his coming, how it shall be, most notably laid down in the Scriptures. I shall hint in a few things touching it.
As, 1. He will come when there is but very few looking for his coming. "When they shall say Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh," (1 Thess. v.1-3;) which sudden destruction will be at his second coming, for that is it which the Apostle spake of in those three verses. Then will all the world be caught at such an unexpected time, that it will come upon them, even as a snare cometh upon those creatures that are caught in it. As it is written, (Luke xxi.35:) "For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth." Which is, all on a sudden, before they are aware.
2. He cometh with all his saints and angels. Then will the Lord descend from that heaven, into which he is now ascended; as it is written in 1 Thess. iv.16. Then will he come, and all his saints with him, as Jude saith in his Epistle. (ver. 14.) Then shall Abel and Enoch, Noah and Abraham, David and Job, Peter and Paul, together with all the saints which have been, now are, or hereafter shall be, and they shall sit on the throne with the Lord Jesus Christ, as in Matt. xix.28. Before whom shall all the nations of the world be gathered, as it is written, Joel iii.12: "Let the heathen be wakened, (or raised out of their graves, Dan. xii.2,) and come down to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about." Which never was yet accomplished, though it shall certainly be, in God's time, to the astonishment and everlasting damnation of all those that shall continue mocking, or sinning against God and his Christ.
3. He shall come in a flaming fire when he doth come again: he will come in such a manner as will make all that shall be found in their sins rather seek to creep under a mountain, than to meet the Lord of glory. (Rev. vi.15.) As Isaiah saith, "For behold the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind; to render his anger with fury, and his rebukes with flames of fire." (Isa. lxvi.15.) "To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them, of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him," (Jude 15,) as I shall show further by and by.
III. And therefore, in the next place, I shall show you what shall be done when he is come.
1. When Christ is come the second time, they that are in their graves shall arise, and come forth of their graves, as I said before, in which they have lain according to that in John v.28,29; where Christ saith, "Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil unto the resurrection of damnation." You will say, Are these graves spoken of here, the graves that are made in the earth? Yea, that they are, and for a further proof of the same, look into Dan. xii.2. Daniel there, speaking of the same thing, saith, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall arise, or awake, some to everlasting life, and some to everlasting contempt," or damnation.
I shall not stand here to dispute any distinctions of the resurrections, only prove that the dead shall arise; and that is a clear truth from the Scriptures, Acts x.42. Rev. xx.11-14; and 1 Thess. iv.16. 1 Cor. xv.52: "The dead shall be raised."
2. He shall call all men and women to an account for all their close sinful thoughts, words and actions; then will the secrets of all hearts be made manifest. Then shall all thy adulterous, and thievish, and covetous, idolatrous, and blasphemous thoughts be laid open, according to that saying, "Their consciences also bearing them witness, and their thoughts the mean time, or while accusing, or else excusing, one another." (Rom. ii.15.) But when? Why, "in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ," (ver. 16. See also 1 Cor. iv.5.) "Therefore judge nothing before the time." What time is that? Why, when the Lord comes. What will he do? He "will bring to light the hidden things of darkness," that is, all those cunning, close, hidden wickednesses that thou in thy life-time hast committed; yea, he will "make manifest the counsels of the heart;" that is, the most hidden and secret things that are contrived and plotted by the sons of men; then shall all the midnight whoremongers be laid open with all their sins; then thou, it may be, who hast committed such sins as thou wouldest not have thy neighbour, thy father, thy wife, thy husband, or any one else know of for thousands, then thou shalt have them all laid open, even upon the housetops. (Luke xii.1-3.) Then thou that hatest God's children, his ways, his word, his Spirit; then thou that makest a mock at Jesus of Nazareth's second coming; then thou that livest in open profaneness, or secret hypocrisy; then, I say, will be such a time of reckoning for you, as never was since the world began; then you that shall die in your sins will "cry to the mountains, Fall on us, and cover us from the face of Him that sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb," (which Lamb is the man Christ Jesus, John i.29.) And ah, my friends! if the very looks of God be so terrible, what will his blows be, think you? Then if all thy idle words shall be accounted for, as it is written, "But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment," (Matt. xii.36;) and also all thy filthy actions shall be then regarded in such sort, as thou shalt receive a just recompence for them. "And know," saith the scripture, "that for all these things God will bring thee into judgment." (Eccles. xi.9.) Then--
Thou that art an unbeliever shalt be sure to fall under the judgment for all thy sins. (1.) Thou must give an account. (2.) Thou must fall in the judgment. Oh, my friends, there are hot days coming for all those that are found out of the Lord Jesus! "Behold," saith Malachi, "the days come that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, all that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts; and it shall leave them neither root nor branch." The day of judgment will burn like an oven, and all that have not the righteousness of Christ upon them shall be as stubble. Ah, friends, put a red hot oven and stubble together, and what work will there be! even the one will burn and destroy the other.
3. When Christ doth come the second time, another end of his coming will be to purge out all things that offended in this kingdom. (Matt. xiii.41,42.) Then shall "the Son of Man send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." There are many things that do offend in his kingdom now: namely,--
(1.) The lukewarm professor; he doth offend, first, the Lord, secondly, his people. But then thou lukewarm offending professor shalt offend the church of God no more.
(2.) The loose professors do also offend God, Christ, and his church. First, he scandals the gospel by his loose walking, and naughty carriages. Secondly, he doth make the world blaspheme the name of God by the same. Thirdly, he grieves the hearts of God's people. (Phil. iii.18.) But know that thou also shalt be taken away from offending any more God, Christ, and his saints, and thou shalt have weeping and gnashing of teeth for thy thus offending. (Matt. xviii.6,7.)
4. Another end of Christ's second coming, is to cut off all the ignorant persons that are in the world. There is a generation of poor souls that do think to be excused for their ignorance. Alas! saith one, I am a poor ignorant man, or woman; and therefore I hope that the Lord will have mercy upon me. We cannot, say others, do as such and such, and will the Lord condemn us? And thus poor souls, as they are in the broad way to destruction, lest they should miss of the way to hell, do swallow down by clusters that which will poison them, body and soul, for ever and ever.
But you will say, What, will not the Lord have mercy on ignorant souls?
Ans. Not on those who live and die in their ignorance. He himself hath said, (Isa. xxvii.11): "Because it is a people of no understanding, therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will show them no favour." Again, Paul also, in that 2 Thess. i.8, saith, that when Jesus Christ shall come to judge the world, he doth come to take vengeance on all "them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ."
But ye will say, who are those ignorant persons that shall find no favour at that day? or, how doth the ignorance discover itself? I shall only mention three or four sorts of men; and leave thee to the Scriptures, which if thou read them diligently, will further lay them open before thee.
And (1.) the profane scoffer, who makes a mock at the truths of God, and so goes on in his sins; for this see in 2 Pet. iii.3, which the Apostle attributes to their ignorance. (ver. 5.) And therefore he likens them to brute beasts, (chap. ii.10,12,) who "walk after the flesh in the lusts of uncleanness," and "speak evil of the things they understand not, and shall utterly perish in their corruption;" who because they understand not the Scriptures, nor the power of God in them, speak evil of the truths therein contained, and think the Lord like unto themselves. (Ps. l.)
(2.) The formal professor, who hath only a notion of the gospel, and some seeming holiness, but wants gospel faith: such are called foolish virgins, (Matt. xxv.2,3,) to whom Christ will say in that day, "Verily, I know you not." Add hereto, those that think it enough to confess Christ with their mouths, and profess that they know God, but deny him in their works; such, notwithstanding all their profession, shall, if they so continue, perish eternally, being abominable, disobedient, and to every good work reprobate, or void of judgment, that is, ignorant. (Tit. i.16.)
(3.) The legal righteous man or woman, though they walk blameless, as touching the righteousness that is in the law: for they being ignorant of God's righteousness, go about to establish their own righteousness, as reading, hearing sermons, prayers, public or private, peaceableness with their neighbours, fasting, alms, good works, as they count them, just dealings, abstinence from the grosser pollutions of the world, stricter obedience to the commandments of the first and second table; all which, with many other things, may be comprehended in their own righteousness, and it is grounded on their ignorance, and goes on in rebellion; and such ignorant persons shall in that day perish, not submitting through ignorance to the righteousness of God, (Rom. x.3, compared with Luke xix.27;) where Christ saith, that when he shall come the second time, he will command those his enemies, who submitted not themselves to him, who is called the righteousness of God, (Isa. xlvi.13,) or would not have him to reign over them, to be slain before his face.
(4.) Those whose hearts are set upon the world, and follow the alluring persuasions of it; the Lord calls such fools, (Luke xii.20, and Prov. vii.7,) who go after it (viz. the world, held forth by a similitude of a woman with the attire of a harlot) as an ox to the slaughter, or a fool to the correction of the stocks, till a dart strike through his liver, as a bird hasteth to the snare, and knoweth not that it is for his life: and knows not, mark, it is through ignorance. (ver. 23.)
5. A fit end of Christ's coming, is that his righteous ones might shine as the sun in the glory, or kingdom of their Father. (Matt. xiii.43.) There are many things that do hinder the people of God from shining forth as the sun now.
As, first, they have a body of death, which makes them fetch many a groan in their journey to Canaan. (Rom. vii.24. 2 Cor v.2.) They meet with many a sad temptation, which also makes them in heaviness many a time. (1 Pet. i.6.) They have also many other things that do hinder their shining now; but then the body of death shall be left off. My meaning is, that sin shall be no more in the natures of God's people then: their bodies, that are now so vile, shall then be made like unto the glorious body of the Son of God, "who shall change our vile body, that it may be like unto his glorious body, according to the working, whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself." (Phil. iii.21.)
6. Another end of Christ's coming shall be to take an account of his children, how they have laid out their talents that he hath committed to their trust. (Matt. xxv.19. Rom. xiv.12. 2 Cor. v.10.)
7. Another end of his coming is, to set up his kingdom, which will be glorious indeed at his appearing. (2 Tim. iv.1. Rom. viii.19-21.) I do but touch these things, because I would hasten towards a conclusion: many other things might have been spoken to, but at this time I shall forbear.
But you will say, Who shall stand when he appears? Why, I told you before, that "the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." (Ps. i.5.) Let him be close or profane, as I told you even now, all shall be laid open, all shall be made manifest, all shall come into judgment.
Ah, poor soul! It is not then thy brave words will save thee; it is not thine eloquent tongue that will then do thee any good; if thou be without the wedding garment thou wilt be speechless, as in Matt. xxii.12. But thou that art a converted person, shalt stand in the judgment; thou that art born again shalt enter into the kingdom, and none else. (John iii.5. Rev. xxi.27.)
But how shall I know that I am born again?
Answ. (1.) Why, if thou art born again, then thou knowest that thou wast not born a Christian at first. (Eph. ii.1-3.) "You hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins."
(2.) Thou knowest that once thou hadst no faith in the Lord Jesus; and wert convinced of sin because thou didst not believe in the Son of Mary. (John xvi.9.)
(3.) Thou seest all true joy through the blood and righteousness of the Son of Mary. (1 Cor xv.57. Rom. vii.24,25.)
(4.) Art thou born again? Then thou canst not be quiet till thou seest God smile, and lift up the light of his countenance upon thee, (2 Cor. iv.6. Ps. iv.6,) and that through the face of the Son of Mary, the Son of God.
(5.) Thou knowest that God hath given thee thy faith. (Phil. i.29. Eph. ii.8.)
(6.) Art thou born again? Then thou knowest that the doctrine of the Son of Mary the Virgin is a right doctrine. (2 John 9.)
(7.) Then also thou lookest for the personal appearing of the Son of Mary from heaven in the clouds, (Rev. i.7,) the second time. (Heb. ix.28.)
These things, though plain, yet if the Lord set them home upon thy conscience, may be profitable both to thee and me. Therefore let us examine the matter a little. And,
1. Thou thinkest that thou art a Christian; thou shouldest be sorry else. Well, but when did God show thee that thou wert no Christian? When didst thou see that? and in the light of the Spirit of Christ, see that thou wert under the wrath of God because of original sin? (Rom. v.12.) Nay, dost thou know what original sin means? Is it not the least in thy thoughts? And dost thou not rejoice in secret, that thou art the same that thou ever wert? If so, then know for certain that the wrath of God to this very day abideth on thee. (John iii.36.) And if so, then thou art one of these that will fall in the judgment, except thou art born again, and made a new creature. (2 Cor. v.17.)
2. But, thou thinkest that thou hast been born again; 'tis well if thou hast; but lest thou shouldest deceive thy poor soul, I pray thee consider, when did the Spirit of the Lord Jesus show thee that thou hadst no faith in thee by nature? And when did the Spirit of Christ convince thee of sin, because thou didst not believe in him? It may be thou hast been convinced of sins against the law, by the law and thine own conscience, as the Pharisees were. (John viii.9, and Rom. iii.20.) Ay, but when didst thou see thyself a lost creature for want of faith in the Son of Mary? If not, thou hast not been savingly convinced by the Spirit of Christ; for that when it convinceth effectually of sin, it convinceth of unbelief; though thou hast been never so much convinced of sins against the law, if thou hast not seen thyself under the power and dominion, guilt and punishment of sin, because thou didst not believe in Christ, thou hast not yet been savingly convinced; for that's one work of the Spirit to convince of sin. "Because they believe not on me," saith Jesus the Son of Mary, who was espoused to Joseph the carpenter. But, on the contrary, dost thou not say in thy heart, thou never hadst thy faith to seek, but hast always believed with as good a faith as any one alive? If so, then know for certain that thou hast no faith of the operation of God in thee, according to God's ordinary working; and if so, then know that if the Son of Man should come to judge the world at this moment of time, that thou with all thy faith (thou thinkest thou hast) wouldest fall in the judgment (2 Thess. ii.12.)
3. Art thou born again? Then thou seest that thy great sin was want of faith in the Son of Mary. Then thou seest that it is he that was sent of God to die for the sins of the world, (John i.29; iii.16-19. Acts xiii.38,39;) and that thou art complete in him, without any works of the law. (Rom. iv.4,5.) Then thou rejoicest in Christ Jesus, and puttest no confidence in the flesh, (Phil. iii.3;) yet thou rejoicest in knowing that his flesh is meat indeed, and his blood is drink indeed, (John vi.55,) out of which thou wouldest very willingly make thy life all thy days; out of his birth, obedience, death, resurrection, ascension, and glorious intercession, now at the right hand of his Father, (Heb. vii.24,25;) but if thou art wavering in these things, know that thou art but a babe at the best, and, for ought thou knowest, God may cut thee off in thy unbelief, and cast thee into utter darkness, where there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
4. Art thou born again? Then thou seest, all true peace and joy comes through the blood of the Son of Mary, and his righteousness, as in Rom. vii.24,25, and 1 Cor. xv.57. There are many poor souls that are taken up with raptures of joy, and false conceited consolation, (John xvi.20,) which doth come from the devil, and their own deceitful hearts; but their joy shall be turned into mourning and sorrow of heart, (Luke vi.24,25;) but thou that art a Christian indeed, and not in word only, rejoicest in Christ Jesus the Son of Mary; yea, though now you see him not, yet believing, you rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. (1 Pet. i.8.) And these two things are the fruits of thy faith and of thy joy.
(1.) The Lord Jesus Christ is very precious unto thee. (1 Pet. ii.7.)
(2.) Thou dost purify thine heart by this faith, and the power of the Spirit of Christ, which thou hast received into thy soul. (Rom. viii.13. Acts xv.9. 1 John iii.3.) But if thy guilt of sin goes off, and convictions go off any other way than by the blood and righteousness of the man Christ Jesus, thy guilt goes off not right, but wrong, and thy latter end will be a very bitter end without faith and repentance; for it is his blood through which all true peace comes, (Col. i.20;) and there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we should be saved, but by the Lord Jesus of Nazareth. (Acts iv.10-12 compared together.)
5. Art thou born again? Then thou canst not be quiet till thou doest see God lift up the light of his countenance upon thee; yea, thou hast such a desire after the light of God's countenance, that all the glory, riches, honour, pleasure, profits, &c., of this world will not satisfy, till thou doest see God to be a reconciled Father to thee in the Lord Jesus Christ, as it is Ps. iv.6. John. xiv.8. Ps. xxxv.3. Then thou wilt not be quiet till thou dost hear from the Son of Mary, which is the Lord of glory, (1 Cor. ii.8,) such a voice as this, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven thee;" and "My grace is sufficient for thee." (2 Cor. xii.9.) But if thou canst content thyself with any thing below this, thou wilt, when all comes to all, be found but a rotten-hearted professor, who will have thy portion among the slothful ones, who will fall in the judgment of the Son of man, when he comes in flaming fire with his mighty angels. (2 Thess. i.8.)
6. Art thou born again? Then thou knowest that God hath given thee thy faith that thou hast in his Son. Then thou art to say through grace, There was a time in which I had no faith; there was a time in which I could not believe in the Son of God for eternal life. But "God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved me, even when I was dead in sins," and unbelief, which is the greatest, "hath quickened me together with Christ. By grace I am saved," (Eph. ii.4,5,) "through faith." (ver. 8.)
7. Art thou born again? Then thou knowest that the doctrine of the Son of God, the Son of Mary, is a right doctrine, which is this:
First, that the Son of God, which was with his Father before the world was, (John i.1; xvii.5,) came into the world in the fulness of time, and was made in the likeness of man, (Phil. ii.7,) being made of a woman or virgin, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law. (Gal. iv.4.) And that was done in this wise. What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, that is, through our flesh, God sending his own Son in likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh, that is, condemned him in the flesh for the sins of poor sinners. For this, compare Rom. viii.3, and 2 Cor. v.21, with Gal. iii.13, and it will appear clearly to be the truth of God. Also, that this Son of God, which is the true God, as well as the Son of Mary, did bear our sins in his own body on the tree, (1 Pet. ii.24,) and did spill his own blood, which is also the blood of God, (Acts xx.28;) that he died, and was laid in Joseph's sepulchre, (John xix.38-42,) and rose again the third day, (Acts x.40;) that very man, (Luke xxiv.39-44;) and ascended up into heaven in a cloud, (Acts i.9-11,) and there ever lives to make intercession for us; that very man, (Heb. vii.24,25; viii.3; x.12.)
8. And, in the last place, if thou art a Christian, then thou lookest for that very Jesus again whom the Jews did crucify, (John xix.) whom God raised again, as it is 1 Thess. i.10. I say, thou lookest, thou waitest, thou hastenest after the coming of this Lord Jesus, which doth deliver thee from the wrath to come. (2 Pet. iii.10-12. Heb. ix.26-28. 1 Thess. i.10.) Yea, thou knowest, that this very man shall so come in like manner, as his disciples did see him go into heaven, which was a very man. (Luke xxiv.39, compared with ver. 50,51 of the same chapter.) Yea, in a cloud he went away from his disciples, and in the clouds he shall come again, (Rev. i.7,) to judge all that are in their graves, (John v.28,29. Dan. xii.2,) and shall receive all that look for, and love his second coming, to himself. (Heb. ix.27,28.) And they shall be for ever with him. (1 Thess. iv.16,17.) But the wicked shall be cast into eternal damnation. (Matt. xxv.46.) These things, I say, if thou be a Christian indeed, thou believest, and ownest, and the faith of them doth purify thy heart, (1 John iii.3,) and wean thee from this world, and the things thereof; and if it is not from this principle, that is, if thy obedience do not flow from this faith, which is the faith of God's elect, as I have proved at large, thy obedience, thy zeal, thy self-denial, thy holiness, righteousness, yea, all that thou canst do, is but sin in the sight of the great God of heaven and earth. (Heb. xi.6. Rom. xiv.23.) For all true sanctification comes through the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, by the operation of the Spirit of God. (1 Cor. vi.11.) "But ye are washed; but ye are sanctified; but ye are justified, in the name of our Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." And in Cant. i.3, "Thy name is as an ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee."
Well, then, seeing this is a truth of so great concernment, I beseech you seek to be thoroughly rooted into it by faith. And that thou mayest so be, examine thy heart; yea, beg of God to help thee to examine it, and to throw out all that fancy that thou takest instead of faith; also throw away all thine own wisdom; yea, thy own righteousness also, and come to God in the name of the Son of Mary, which is the Son of God, and beg faith of him, true faith, the faith of the operation of God; such a faith as he gives to his own elect, which will show thee clearly of these things; so that thou shalt not deceive thyself with a fancy of them; and the advantages will be many.
1. It will comfort thy heart against persecutions, temptations, and cross providences, as also James saith to his persecuted brethren: "Be patient, my brethren," saith he, "establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draws nigh." (Jam. v.8.)
2. It will, through grace, wean thy heart and affections abundantly from this world, and the things therein. "Who is he that overcometh the world," saith John, "but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 John v.5.) Who is he also that purifies his heart, but he that looketh for the second coming of Christ from heaven (as in 1 John iii.3, compared with 2 Pet. iii.10,11,) to judge the world?
3. Hereby thou wilt be able to judge of all doctrines whatsoever; though they come never so nigh the truth, yet if they be not indeed the very truth, thou wilt find them and their doctrine liars. (Rev. ii.2. 1 Cor. ii.15.)
4. If thou beest thoroughly set down in this doctrine, even in the faith of this doctrine which I have held forth unto thee, thou wilt not be taken with any other doctrine whatsoever. What is the reason, I pray you, that there are so many giddy-headed professors in these days, that do stagger to and fro like a company of drunkards, but this, they were never sealed in the doctrine of the Father and the Son? They were never enabled to believe that that child that was born of the Virgin Mary was the Mighty God. (Isa. ix.6.) No, saith Christ, he that is built upon this rock, (meaning the faith of himself, which is to believe that the Son of Mary is the Christ of God, Matt. xvi.16,) the gates of hell shall not prevail against him. (ver. 18.)
5. The faith of this doctrine will make thee labour in the work of God in the world. Oh, it will liven thy heart in the work of the Lord, especially if thou livest in the faith of thy interest in Christ; it will make thee labour to be found watching when thy Lord shall return from the wedding; that when he doth come, thou mayest open to him immediately. (Luke xii.35,36.)
Now seeing the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is so nigh, even at the doors, what doth this speak to all sorts of people under heaven but this?
1. To see whether they have oil in their lamps or not; that is, to search and see, whether the Spirit of the man Christ Jesus be in them or no; for he that hath not the Spirit of Christ in him, is none of Christ's. (Rom. viii.9.) Thou that hast not the Spirit of Christ in thee, why, at that day, let thy profession be what it will, he will say to thee, "Depart, I know you not." (Matt. xxv.) And if so, then thy latter end will be worse than thy beginning, as in 2 Pet. ii.20.
2. Then what will become of all the profane, ignorant, scoffers, self-righteous, proud, bastard-professors in the world? If the children of God shall "scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" (1 Pet. iv.18.)
3. Then what will become of all those that creep into the society of God's people without a wedding garment on? Why, it will be said unto them, Friends, how came you hither? Take them, and bind them hand and foot, and cast them into utter darkness; "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. xxii.11-13.)
4. Then what will become of all those that mock at the second coming of the man Christ, as do the Ranters, Quakers, drunkards, and the like? Why read their doom in Matt. xxiv.50,51: "The Lord of that or these servants shall come in a day when they look not for him, and in an hour that they are not aware of, and shall cut them asunder, and appoint them their portion with hypocrites;" and "there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
5. Then what doth this speak to the Lord's own people? Surely this, that they should be in a watchful posture. (Mark xiii.37.)
(1.) Watch therefore over your own hearts, lest they should be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and the cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares; for as a snare shall it come upon all the dwellers upon the face of the earth, as it is in Luke xxi.34-36.
(2.) Watch over the devil's temptations. Oh, have a care, in the first place, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ: and the rather, because at this day he is very busy with his doctrines and his ministers; trying all ways, if by any means he might deceive you with fair speeches, and enticing carriages; with a fair show in the flesh, yet denying the Lord, and refusing to be justified by the blood of Jesus, the Son of Mary, the Son of God. Watch, I say, over the devil touching doctrines, for he labours as much this way as any way; for he knows if he can but get you to lay a rotten foundation, he is sure of you, live as godly in your conceit as you will, and therefore it is worth your observation, in that 24th of Matthew, when Christ is speaking of the signs of his coming, he breaks forth with a warning word to his disciples, to beware of false teachers, (ver. 4:) the very first word that he answers to a question that his disciples put to him is this, "Take heed that no man deceive you." Again, (ver. 11,) "And many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many." And in ver. 24, he saith again, "For there shall come, or arise, false Christs and false prophets, and shall show signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they should deceive the very elect."
(3.) Take heed that he doth not deceive you in point of worship, that he make you not slight any of the ordinances of God; for if he do, he will quickly make way for another temptation.
(4.) Take heed that you also have not your lamps to trim when the bridegroom comes; if you have, you may peradventure be ashamed and blush before him at his coming. (1 John ii. last ver.) Therefore content not yourselves with a profession of Christ, and no more, for the devil may deceive, yea, doth deceive a professing people many times. And if he will deceive a professing generation, he must come in this manner: first, under the name of Christ; secondly, with a fair show in the flesh of outward holiness, (Gal. vi.12); thirdly, he must come "with good words" and speeches. (Rom. xvi.18.) Now though he come to drunkards, swearers, whoremongers, thieves, liars, murderers, and covetous persons, in his black colours; yet if he will come to deceive a professing party, he must appear like an angel of light. And the reason why souls are deceived by him in these his appearances, is because they are not able to distinguish betwixt the law and the gospel, the convictions of conscience by the law only, and convictions by the Spirit, but do, though they profess the Lord Jesus, give ear to every wind of doctrine, and being unstable, as Peter saith, do fall into the temptations of the devil, in wresting the Scriptures to their own destruction. (2 Pet. iii.16.)
6. In a word, you that have not yet laid hold on the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life, lay hold upon him, upon his righteousness, blood, resurrection, ascension, intercession, and wait for his second coming to "judge the world in righteousness." (Acts xvii.31.) And you that have laid hold, I say to you, lay faster hold on your Lord Jesus; "Whoso hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Matt. xiii.43.)