Rutherford's work can be read here. Here is the selection:
Ver. 29. The people therefore that stood by, and heard it, said, it thundered: others said, an angel spake to him.
Another effect of the prayer of Christ doth Follow in the people. They had sundry judgments of this answer from heaven: some said, it was thunder; for they understood it not: others, nay, but it is above nature; an angel hath spoken to him.
Doth not any rude shepherd, or the most simple idiot know a thunder? 'Tis a place that holds forth to us, how ignorant we are of God, and of the gospel-way. Consider what was in this answer: 1. It was the gospel. In what language it was spoken, (belike not in a known language) cannot be determined out of the text. 2. It was a clear expression of that communion between Christ and his Father. 3. What God means, or what is his sense in his word or works, is unknown to us. 4. That they say the gospel is a thunder, and a word of nature, is a mere imagination and a dream. Yet these ways arc among themselves all false, and they do not agree one with another.
Consid. 1. The gospel is the will of God From heaven; yet it is a riddle, a parable not understood, Mat. xiii. 14. In the law it is written, with men of other tongues and other lips will I speak to this people, 1 Cor. xiv. 21. And Isa. xxix. 11. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, read this, I pray thee. And he saith, I cannot: for it is sealed. Verse 12. And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, read this, I pray thee. And he saith, I cannot; I am not learned 1 Cor. i. 18. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness.
Consid. 2. God reasoneth not only with men's minds to convince them; but also with their will and affections. Acts ix. Christ from heaven proposeth a syllogism to Saul's fury, 'Tis hard for thee to kick against pricks. God hath logic against anger, which hath neither ears nor reason; for if he could not out-argue Laban's hatred, and the haters of the saints, to whom he saith, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm, Psal. cvii. he would not speak to their affections, nor would it be said, that in their affections they repute Christ and the gospel foolishness, if there were not a contrariety between the affections and the gospel.
Consid. 3. The understanding is a dark lantern that hath some light within, but casts none at all our, to apprehend things above hand: and as the will is irony and stiff to heaven, so it is waxy and apt to receive the impressions of the flesh, except Christ draw by the curtain of the flesh, to let you see the glory of the gospel. Otherwise, God speaks, and Samuel saith, Eli, here am I, for thou calledst me. To the woman of Samaria, Jacob is greater than Christ; and Jacob's well, as good as the water of life. Justice often puts one seal on the gospel, and another on the man's two eye-lids, that the vision is as dark as-mid-night.
Consid. 4. The communion between Christ and the foul, as here between the Son Christ and the Father, is quid pro quo, a thunder, a work of nature, or any thing to the natural man; God speaking to the heart, is a mystery to him. John vi. 52. The Jews say among themselves, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Very hardly, according so their papistical fancy of a bodily eating. 2. The high esteem of Christ above other beloveds, is a mystery to natural saints, in so far as they are natural. 'Tis a strange question for professors of the gospel to say, What more is in Christ than other well beloveds? Yet they say it, Cant. v. 9. (3.) The natural understanding is the most whorish thing in the world; there is a variety of fancied gods there. According to the number of thy cities, were thy gods, O Judah, Jer. ii. 29. They have made them molten images of their silver, and idol: according to their own understanding, Hos. xiii. 2. The understanding, even in the search of truth amongst the creatures is a rash, precipitate, and unquiet thing; and like a silk-worm, first makes a work of many threads and then lies fettered and entangled in that which came out of its own bowels. The mind spins and weaves out of itself fancies, dreams, lies, and then its work must be spent on these, and so creates its own chains and fetters. But in the matters of God it runs mad, plays the wanton; in the gospel knowledge it turns frantic, and when it comes to move and act within the sphere of supernatural truths, it but laughs and sports till it come out again, i Cor. i. 23. If Christ preached be foolishness, then Christ himself must be a fool to the Grecians, the excellentest wits in the world. 1 Cor. ii. 14. The gospel cannot come within the brain of a natural man, but as a notional fancy, a chimera. Yea, when the greatest wits came to the borders, of divine truth, to look on the outside of divinity, called Theologia naturalis, to look on the Lord's back-parts, and contemplate and behold God in his works, they knew not what to make of God, Rom. i. 23. Some thought God to be a dainty bird of paradise; nay, said other great wits, he is a four-footed beast; nay, said another, but he is a creeping thing: and the most eminent of them, even head of wit among them, said he was a corruptible man, yea all of them, [Gr. Emataiothesan en tois dialogismois auton.] They turned vain, foggie, reasonless, and stark-nought in their finer discourses and reasonings, in weighing and posing things. Gen. vi. 5. The frame of the heart of man is only evil. [Heb. Jetzer] Gen. viii. 21. signifies, a potter's vessel. Isa. xxix. 16. Your turning of things upside down, shall be reputed as the clay [Heb. Hajjozer] of the potter: from the root [Heb. Jazer] to think, desire; to form a thing of clay as the potter doth. From this is the potter named: [Heb. Jozer] Zech. xi. 13. Gen. ii. 7. Deut. xxxi. 21. I know their imaginations, or earthen pots, that be in the heart, mind, and head of men. Many vain frames are in our heads, as there be variety of pots, bottles, and earthen vessels in the potter's house. Many wind-mills, many pitchers and clay-frames are in the vain heart, but they are evil, wicked, and only evil from the womb. But especially, how many devices and new moulds of religions, and sundry gods are in the heart of men? How many sundry opinions of Christ, are in men's brains? For concerning Christ, Mat. xvi. 14. Some said he was "John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremiah. 4. The love and affections are most whorish, light, and wanton; if Martha seek not one thing, she seeks many things: no one God is the natural man's God. It may be maintained, that an unrenewed man hath not one predominant, but indefinitely, fin is his king; and as many sins, as many kings. Rom. v. 14, 17. Rom. vi. 7, 8, 9. 'Tis true, pride, covetousness, or some particular sins may come to the throne by turns, as either complexion, strength of corrupt nature, or times bear sway; for as Satan is not divided against Satan, so not any natural man will be a martyr for a false god, or a predominant lust, in opposition to another known false god, tho' all may oppose the gospel. The Lord complains of a whorish heart, that playeth the harlot with many lovers, Jer. iii. 1. and heaven and saving grace stands on an indivisible point, like the number of seven; one added, one removed, varieth the nature: no man is half in heaven, half in hell; almost a christian is no christian. When Adam fell from one God, he fell upon many inventions; not upon one only, Eccles. vii. 29. Our wandering is infinite, and hath no home: either God is a thunder, or then he is an angel speaking from heaven.
Consid. 5. Men think the supernatural ways of God a thunder in the air, which is most natural work; the ebbing and flowing of the spirit, either natural joy or melancholy, naturally following the complexion of the body. 'Tis grace that puts a right sense on the works of God, as on the word: we are no less heterodox in misinterpreting the ways and works of God, than in putting false and unsound senses on his word. Emerods plague the Philistines; they doubt if chance, or if the God of Israel have thus plagued them. Moses works miracles, the magicians work miracles, and the Egyptians doubt whether their false god, or the living God that made the heaven and the earth, hath wrought [Numb. 11.] the miracles. When God and nature both work, natural men, or saints as natural, betake themselves to the nearest god. As sickness comes, the natural man saith, neglect of the body, health, the moon, humours, the air, cold weather did it; but he looks not to God. And the believer, guilty of a breach of the six command, in neglecting of second causes, and in needless hurting the body, seeth not this; but fathers all upon God, only in a spiritual dispensation, and considereth only dispensation in God, not sin in himself. 2. Mercies grow invisibly, and we see not; we are ready to sleep at mercies offered. When Christ knocks in love, we are in bed: Cant. v. (3.) Judgments speak in the dark, but we hear not: the Lord fatneth some slaughter-oxen for hell, and death is on some men's faces, even the second death on their person, but they see not. 'To hear the Lord's rod, and who hath appointed it,' is the man of wisdom's part, Mic. vi. 9. There is an orthodox wisdom and will, as there is an orthodox faith. Will, as well as the mind, can frame syllogisms; every unrenewed man hath a faith of his own in the bottom of his will. 2 Pet. iii. Some are willingly ignorant; some, Jer. ix. through deceit refuse to know the Lord; whereas lust puts out reason, and takes the chair. Lust hath stout logic against Christ; a fleshly mind vainly puffed up, is a badge of bastard-wit, out-reasoning all the gospel. O but grace is quick-eyed, sharp, and a witty thing; to see God vailed in, under the curtain of flesh; to see Christ and heaven through words, and the gospel with child of so great a salvation!
Consid. 6. What wonder that there be divisions about Christ. Some will have the Lord, speaking from heaven, a thunder; others an angel. Christ is the most disputable thing in the world, Mat. xvi. 13, 14. there be five religions, and sundry opinions touching Christ; the Scribes and Pharisees had many sundry opinions, and one of them is the right way only, ten false. John vii. 40. Many say Christ is a prophet. Verse 41. Others said this is the Christ; others no, shall Christ come out of Galilee, and there was a division among them. Luke ii. 34. Christ is for a sign that shall be spoken against. And amongst Christ's sufferings this is one, Heb. xii. 3. He sustained [Gr. antilogian] contradiction of sinners. Mat. xxiv. Many false Christs shall arise. There is but one heaven, and one way to heaven; and there is but one hell: but there be thousands of ways to hell: from one point to another, you can draw but one straight line; but you may draw ten thousand crooked, and circular lines. The truth is one, and very narrow, the lie is broad and very fertile and broody, error is infinite. 'Tis a blessed thing to find wisdom to hit upon Christ, and adhere to him; there be some dicers and cozeners, Ephes. iv. 14. that lie in wait to deceive the simple; and they cast the dice for heaven, and can cast you up any thing on the dice, either one, or seven. Do you then resign yourselves in this wood of false religions that now is, to Christ so be led to heaven. Many now teach, there be some few fundamentals; believe them, and live well, and you are saved. And many false teachers, that turn the gospel upside-down, say it is the same gospel, though the head be where the feet should be; and for errors, we wrong the truth,so long as we hold nothing against fundamentals: should a man remove the roof of your house, cut down the timber of it, and pick out all the fair stones in the wall, and say, friend, I wrong not your house, see the foundation-stones are safe, and the four cornerstones are sure; in the mean time, the house can fence off neither wind nor rain; would not this man both mock you and wrong you? He that keeps the foundation Christ, shall be saved, though he build on it hay and stubble, 1 Cos. iii. 'Tis true. But it was never the intent of the Holy Ghost, that a man believing some few fundamentals, though he hold, and spread lies and false doctrines, is in no hazard of damnation; or that he hath liberty of conscience, to add to the foundation hay, and stubble, and untempered mortar, and to daub dirt upon the foundation Christ, and not sin; the place speaks no such thing; but of this elsewhere.
Others said, it was an angel.
These come nearer to the truth; for they conceive there is more in his voice, than a work of nature, such as a thunder is; they think an angel spoke to Christ; and they are convinced, that Christ keeps correspondence with heaven and angels.
Angels have been, and are in high estimation among men always; and there is reason for it.
1. There is more of heaven in angels, and more of God, than in any of their fellow-creatures. Sinful men have been stricken with fear at the sight of them; they are persons of a more excellent country than the earth. John the apostle did overvalue an angel, Revel, xix. Revel, xxi. And fell down to worship him.
2. Angels elect and chosen, never lost their birthright of creation, as men and devils have done; they were created as the lilies and roses, which, no doubt, had more sweetness of beauty and smell, before the fin of man made them vanity-sick, Rom. viii. 20. but they have kept their robes of innocency, their cloth of gold above 5000 years, without one spark of dirt, or change of colour, for they never sinned; innocency and freedom from sin, hath much of God. Adam (as many think) kept not his garments clean one day. Courtiers of heaven and saints should walk like angels, and keep good quarters with Christ. Grace is a pure, clean, innocent thing; teacheth saints to deny ungodliness; and so much the more have angels of God, that they are among devils and sinful men, and yet by grace are kept from falling; the more grace the more innocency. Grace as pardoning hath its result from sin, but is most contrary to sin. Grace payeth debt for sin, but taketh not on new arrears; 'tis abused grace that doth so.
I. But these, thus convinced that the Lord's voice is more than a thunder, go no further; they say here, Others said, it was an angel*
Hence, touching conviction,
Pos 1. Conviction of conscience may be strong, and vet at a stand. Never man spake like this man, say the Jews, yet they hate him. John vii. 28. "Jesus cried in the temple, as he taught, saying, Te both know me, and ye know whence I am; I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. Verse 29. But I know him. Then they knew Christ for conviction, and they knew him not; for, They crucified the Lord of glory; and if they had known him under the supernatural notion of the Lord of glory, they would not have crucified him, 1 Cor. ii. 8. Felix trembles, and is convinced, but imprisons Paul. The devils believe there is a God, and tremble, Jam. ii. But light is made a Captive, and made a prisoner, Rom. i. 18. 'Tis a most troublesome prisoner, it holds the conqueror waking, and yet he cannot be avenged on it.
Pos. 2. Conviction, turned to malice, becomes a devil; the Pharisees convinced, go on against heaven, and the operation of the Holy Ghost. And the Jews saw the face of Stephen, as it had been the face of an angel, Acts vi. 15. Yet, Acts vii. 57, 58. They run on him, and stone him to death.
Pos. 3. Conviction maketh more judicial hardning than any sin; it revengeth itself upon heaven; hell near heaven is a double hell. John xii. 37, 38. Though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not. A reason is, verse 40. He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart.
Pos. 4. Omnipotency of grace can only convince the will. Preachers may convince the mind, and remove mind-heresy; but Christ only can give ears to love, fear, sorrow, and remove will-heresy, John vi. 45. There be reasonings and logic in the will, stronger than these in the mind: the will hath reason why it will not be taken with Christ, John v. 40. and a law, Rom. vii. 13. of sin, why it is sweet to perish, and death is to be chosen.
Pos. 5. It is the right conviction of the Spirit, to be convinced, 1. Of unbelief: 2. Of the excellency of Jesus Christ, that I must have Christ, cost me what it will; say it were all that the rich merchant hath, Mat. xiii. 45, 46. There is a white and red in his face, hath convinced the man's love, and hath bound his affection, hand and foot; that he takes pains on despised duties, that lie under the very drop of the shame of the cross, Acts v. 4.
Pos. 6. To be willing to do a duty that hath shame written on it, as to be scourged for Christ, as the apostles were; and for an honourable Lord of council as Joseph of Arimathea was, to petition to have the body of a crucified man to bury, it being a duty near of blood to the cross; both apparent loss, and present shame, is a strong demonstration, that the whole man, not the mind only, but the will and affections, are convinced. Some duties grow among thorns, as to 'be killed all the day long, and to take patiently the 'spoiling of our goods, for Christ.' Some duties grow among roses, and are honourable and glorious duties, as to kill and subdue, in a lawful war, the enemies of God. The former are no sign of wrath, nor the latter of being duly convinced of the excellency of Christ, except in so far as we use them, through the grace of Christ, as becometh saints, or abuse them; but it is more like Christ to suffer for him, than to do for him.
Pos. 7. God will have some half gate to heaven, tho' they should die by the way; some are more, some less convinced; the more conviction, if not received, the more damnation. The gospel is not such a messenger as the raven, that returneth not again: Isa. lv. 11. My word that goeth forth out of my mouth, it shall not return to me void, it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. The gospel, and opportunity of reformation, falleth not in the sea-bottom, when a nation receives it not, but it returns to God to speak tidings; we will not give an account of the gospel, but the gospel gives an account of us. 2. Even when the ordinances are rejected, they prosper, Isa. lv. 11. to harden men; they are seed sown, and rain fallen on the earth; they yield a crop of glory to God, even a sweet savour to God, in those that perish, as in those that are saved; 2 Cor. ii. 15, 16. The lake of fire and brimstone, as a just punishment of a despised gospel, smells like roses to God.
30. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sake.
31. Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be judged.
Now followeth the other effect of Christ's prayer, Coward the world.
1. In general. The prayer is answered (faith Christ) not so much for my cause, to comfort me, (for he might otherwise be comforted) as for you, that ye may believe in me, hearing this testimony from heaven. 2. In particular: he sets down the fruit of his death, 1. On the unbelieving world; they shall be judged and condemned. 2. On the spiritual enemies, and by a Synecdoche, the head of them; Satan, the god of this world, shall be cast out, and fin, and death, and hell with him. 3. The prime fruit of all, v. 32. When I am crucified, by my Spirit of grace, the fruit of the merit of my death, I will draw all men to me.
This voice came not because of me.
Christ's well and woe, his joy, his sorrow, is relative, and for sinners. Christ, as Christ, is a very public person, and a giving-out Mediator. And it addeth much to the excellency of things, that they are public, and made out to many: as the sun, the stars, the rain, the seas, the earth, that are for many, are so much the more excellent: it is a broader and a larger goodness, that is public. Heaven is an excellent thing, because public, to receive so many crowned kings, and citizens, that are redeemed from the earth. The gospel is a public good for all sinners: eternity is not a particular duration, as time is, that hath a poor point to begin with, and end at; but the public good of angels and glorified spirits. Time indeed is a public thing; but because 'tis the heritage of perishing things, it is not public in comparison of eternity. And Christ, because a public spirit, for the whole family of elect angels and saints in heaven and earth, is a matchless excellent one. And 'tis observable, that there is nothing in heaven, that is the seat and element of happiness, and the only garden and paradise of the saints' felicity, but it is public and common to all: the inhabitants, the glorified saints and angels, all see the face of him that sitteth on the throne, (of degrees of fruition, I speak not;) they all drink of the water of life; all have access to eat of the apples of the tree of life, there is no forbidden fruit in heaven; all have the blessing of the immediate presence of the Lamb, and there is neither need of sun, or moon, or light of a candle to any; all equally enjoy eternity, there is one lease and term-day to the lowest inhabitant of glory, and that is eternity; there is common to them all one city, the streets whereof are transparent gold; that the poorest inhabitants of a town, walk on a street of gold of Ophir, is a great praise to the city: it is common to them all, that they shall never sigh, never be sad, never sicken, never be old, never die; and eternal life is common to them all; and then all feel the smell of the fairest rose that angels or men can think on, the flower, the only delight, the glory, the joy of heaven, the Lord Jesus; all walk in white, and can sin no more. Then, a public spirit, who is for many, is the excellentest spirit. Men of private spirits, who carry a reciprocation of designs only to themselves, and die and live with their own private interests, are bad men. When ourself is the circle, both centre and circumference, we are so much like the devil, who is his own god, adores himself, and would have God to adore him, Mat. iv. 9.
Now, Christ is the most public, relative, and communicative Spirit and Lord that is. 1. All Christ's offices are for others than himself; he is not a Mediator of one: a Redeemer is for captives, a Saviour for sinners, a Priest for offenders and trespassers, a Prophet for the simple and ignorant, a King to vindicate from servitude all that are in bondage; the Physician for the sick; and this speaks for you, sinners. 2. Why did he empty himself, Luke xix. 10. 1 Tim. i. 15. and come into the world? For sinners. 3. Why was he a fitted sacrifice to die? John xvii. 19. For their sake also sanctify I myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth. 4. His dying was a public and relative good, John x. 10. For his sheep. For, John xv. 13. his friends. For, Rom. v. 10. his enemies. For his wife, to present a bride without spot or wrinkle to God, Eph. v. 25, 26. 5. And he rose again for us, even for our justification, Rom. iv. 25. 6. And whose cause doth Christ advocate in heaven now? Ours. For us, if we sin, 1 John ii. 1. he intercedes for us, Heb. vii. 25. That we may have boldness to enter into the holy of holiest, Heb. x. 19. 7. Christ hath so public an heart, that he longs to return again, and to see us, John xiv. 3. I will come again, and receive you to myself. A surety is a very relative person, and for another: the head is for all the members, the meanest and lowest; and it is not enough to him to rent the heaven, and dig a hole in the skies once, when he was incarnate, but he makes a second journey, in coming down to rent the heaven, and fetch his bride up to himself. They are hence rebuked, that so improve Christ, as if he were a jewel locked up in a cabinet in heaven, to be touched and made use of by none: Oh, I am a sinner, l am a wretched captive, what have I then to do with so precious a Lord, as Christ? But, I pray, (1.) Wherefore is Christ a Saviour? is he not for sinners? Wherefore a Redeemer? Is it that he should lie by God, as useless? Was he not a Redeemer for captives? (2.) What if all the world should say so? Christ should be a Saviour, and save none; a Redeemer, and ransom none at all; for all are sinners, all are captives. Christ's very office begets an interest in the sick to the physician: claim thine interest, O sick sinner.
Now, this voice was unknown to those that heard it, and yet it was for men that understood it not: Christ acteth for us, when we are sleeping. The people of God were to be seventy years in Babylon, and were going on in their obstinacy; yet then God saith, Jer. xxix. 11. I know the thoughts I think toward you, (you know them not; I love you, but ye know not) even thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Many glorious mercies are transacted in God's mind, without our knowledge: ere the corner-stone of the earth was laid, he had made sure work of our election to glory, Eph. i. 4. Rom. ix. 11. (2.) The everlasting covenant between the Father and the Son, that blessed bargain of free-redemption in Christ, was closed from eternity, Jer. xxxii. 39, 40. To do us good, when we are far off, and know no such thing, is a great and free expression of love. (3.) We should be narrow vessels, not able to contain our joy, without breaking, if we understood what an house not made with hands were prepared for us in the heavens; but our life is hid with Christ in God, it appears not now what we are. You never saw the bride, the Lamb's wife, broidered with heaven, free-grace, and riches of glory. Every saint is a mystery to another saint, and that is the cause that love to one another is so cold: every saint is a riddle, and a secret to himself. It was a privileged sight, even a privilege of the higher house, and of the peers of heaven, that John saw, Rev. xxi. 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, v. 11. Having the glory of God: and the light was like a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal. Here is a King's daughter, a beautiful princess, in the gold of heaven's glory, arrayed with Christ. Who seeth this while we are here? Every one seeth not such a sight of glory.
Use 1. If there be such an active application on God's part, that Christ is fitted and dressed for sinners, there should be a passive application on our part: O what an incongruity and unsuitableness between Christ and us! He is a Saviour for sinners, we are not sinners for a Saviour: he is open and forward to give, we narrow and drawing to receive. A physician, that thrusteth his art and compassion to cure, is unfitting for a sick one, froward and unwilling to be cured. We should be for Christ, as for our only perfecting end; but it is not so. Oh, men are for their own gain from their quarter, Isa. lvi. 10. Their eyes and hearts are not but for covetousness, Jer. xxii. 17. For the glory of their own name, Dan. iv. 30. For the continuance of their houses to many generations, Psal. xlix. 11. For the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof, Rom. xiii. 14.
Use 2. If Christ be for the saints, then all other things are for them; all things are theirs; death is a waterman to carry them to the other side of time; the earth the saints inns; the creatures their servants; as sun, moon, stars, are candles in the house for them: providence for them, as the hedge of thorns, is to fence the wheat, the flowers, the roses, not the thistles; and all because Christ is their Saviour, v. 31. Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
Two enemies are here judged, the world and Satan.
As touching the former enemy; we are to consider the time, Now: 2. The enemy, the world: 3. The restrictive pronoun, This world: 4. That which Christ acteth, He judgeth the world. But what is meant by the judgment of the world? Some understand, that now, by Christ's death, is the right constitution of the world, as if the world were put in a right frame, and delivered from vanity, and restored to its perfection by Jesus Christ's death. Others think, by the world, is meant the sin of the world, or the sinning world ; in that Christ condemned sin, in the flesh, by his death. But by the world is meant the reprobate, and wicked world, that are here ranked with Satan, for Christ in his death gives out a doom and sentence on the unbelieving world; because they receive not him; as John iii. 19. This is the [Gr. Krisis] judgment of the world, that light is come into the world, and men Ioveth darkness, &c.
Now, for the first of these: we see that hope helps the weak; before Christ yoke with devils, hell, and death, he seeth and believeth the victory: it was now a dark and a sad providence with Christ in his soul-trouble; but hope lying on the cold clay, prophesieth good; hope among the worms breathes life and resurrection, Psal. xvi. 10. 'Thou wilt not leave my soul in the grave.'—v. 11. 'Thou wilt shew me the path of life.' Psal. cxviii. 17. ' I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.' He was at this time, in regard of danger, almost in death's cold bosom. Saw you never hope laugh out from under dead bones in a bed? Boily, rotten, and half-dead Job, chap. xix. 26. 'I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day on the earth: v. 26. And tho' 'after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh I shall see God.' And 2 Cor. v. 1. Hope doth both die, and at the same time prophecy heaven and life: 'We know, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heaven.' Would any man say, Paul, how know ye that? The answer is, faith holdeth the candle to hope, and hope seeth the sun in the firmament at midnight. 'We know, if this house be destroyed, we have a better one.'
2. Hope is one of the good spies, that conies with good tidings, be not dismayed, God will give us the good land. When they were plucking the hair off Christ's face, and nipping his cheeks, hope speaks thus to him, and to all slanders by, Isa. 1. 7. For the Lord God will help me, therefore I shall not be confounded: Therefore have I set my face as flint, and I know that I shall not he ashamed. It is a long cable, and a sure anchor, Heb. vi. 19. 'Which hope we have as an anchor of the foul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that which is within the vail.' Hope is sea-proof, and hell-proof, and Christ is anchor-fast in all storms: Christ in you the hope of glory, Col. i. 27.
3. A praying grace is such a prophesying grace, as both asketh when he prayeth, Father, glorify thy name, and taketh an answer; so doth Christ here take an answer. 'Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out.' He was not yet cast out; but hope in Christ, with one breath, prayeth, Father, save me from this hour; and answereth, I shall be saved: the world, and the prince enemy, shall be cast out. It is a won battle, all shall be well. Faith and hope laugh and triumph for to-morrow, Psal. vi. Rebuke me not, Lord, in thine anger, v. 4. Return, O Lord, deliver my soul; v. 8. He takes an answer, For the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping: v. 9. The Lord hath heard my supplication. Psal. xxxv. He prays, that the angel of the Lord would chase his enemies; and he answers himself in antedated praises, v. 9. And my soul shall be joyful in the Lord. v. 10. All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto thee? &c. He makes a bargain afore-hand; hope layeth a debt of praises upon every bone and joint of his body. Psal. xlii. Banished, forgotten, and withered David, complains to God, and in hope takes an answer, v. 8. Yet the Lord will command his loving kindness in the daytime. We have need of this now, when Scotland is so low. They cannot fall that are on the dust, and more thousands under the dust, with the pestilence, and the sword, and the heart-break of forsaking and cruel friends, that not only have proved broken cisterns to us in our thirst, but have rejoiced, as Edom did, at our fall, than ever stories at one time, in ancient records, can speak; and God grant, friends turn not as cruel enemies as ever the idolatrous and bloody Irish have been. 'Yet there is hope in Israel concerning this 'thing.' The Lord must arise, and pity the dust of Zion: our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth, as when one heweth wood. Though we sit in darkness, we shall see light. Some say, There is no help for them in God. O say not so; they that are now highest, must be lowest: God must make the truth of this appear in Britain, Ezek. xvii. 24. And all the trees of the field shall know, that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, and have exalted the low tree, and have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish; I the Lord have spoken it, and have done it. Others say, We shall be delivered, when we are ripened by humiliation for mercy. No, 'tis not needful it be ever so. God sometime first delivereth, and then humbleth, and hath done it; the Lord delivered his low church, when they were in their graves, Ezek. xxxvii. but they were never prouder, than when they loaded the power, the faithfulness, and free grace of God with reproaches, and said, Ezek. xxxvii. 11. Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost, we are cut off for our parts.
This is the lost world, 1. Because it is the judged world, John iii. 19. (2.) It is that world of which Satan is prince; the world being the damned, is the worst of the creation; which I prove from the word, and withal shall give the signs and characters of the men of the world.
1. The world is the black company that lies in sin, all of them, 1 John v. 9. The whole world lies in sin; they are haters of Christ, and all his, John xv. 18. If the world hate you, ye know (saith Christ) that it hated me before you.
2. They are a number uncapable of grace, or reconciliation; which is terrible, and have no part in Christ's prayers, John xvii. 9. I pray not for the world; nor of sanctification: the Comforter that Christ was to send, is, John xiv. 17. The Spirit that the world cannot receive.
3, It is one of the professed enemies on Christ's contrary side, that he overcomtth, and we in him. John xvi. 33. In the world, you shall have tribulation. They are the only troublers of the saints. But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. 1 John v. 4. Whosoever is born of God overcometh the world.
4. It is a dirty and defiling thing, Pure religion (saith James i. 27.) keeps a man unspotted of the world. It is the praise of the church of Sardis, Rev. iii. 4. that there was amongst them a few names that had not defiled their garments; but kept themselves from the pollutions of the world: it is a sooty pest-house; there be drops of soot that defiles men in it.
5. There can be no worse character, than to be a child of the world; it is a black mark, Luke xvi. 8. You know the Hebraism; children of disobedience; that is, much addicted to disobedience; as the son hath the nature of father and mother in him: children of pride, of wrath; much addicted, and far under the power of wrath, and pride; so the sparks of fire are called, Job v. [Heb. Benei resheph] the daughters of the burning coal: then a child of the world, is one that lay in the womb of the world, one of the world's breeding, opposed to a pilgrim and a stranger on the earth: for a stranger is one that is born in a strange land, Psal. cxix. 19. Psal. xxxix. 12. Heb. xi. 13. And contrary to a child of light; who hath the pilgrim's sigh, ordinarily night and day; Oh, if I were in my own country. Wrong him not; his mother is a woman of heaven, she is a mighty princess, and a King's daughter, Rev. xxi. 10. The new Jerusalem, the church of God came down from heaven: Father, mother, seed, principles, and all are from heaven. 2. There is a spirit called the spirit of the world, 1 Cor. ii. 12. This spirit is the genius, the nature and disposition of the world, 1 John ii. 16. and is all for the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; and these be the world's all things. Such a soul knoweth not the white stone, and the new name, nor can he smell the rose of the field and the lily of the valley; nor knows he the King's banqueting-house, nor the absence or presence of Christ in the soul; the man's portion is in this world, Psal. xvii. 14. within the four angles of this clay globe.
The world, the Lord Jesus judgeth, is this world; a thing that cometh within the compass of time, and may be pointed with the finger.
1. It is near our senses, therefore called, Gal. i. 4. The present evil world, the world that now is, on the stage: So, 2 Tim. iv. 10. Demas hath forsaken me, and hath loved [Gr. ton nyn aiona] the world that is upon its present now. The world that is on its post, and now, in its flux, motion and tendency to corruption, 1 Tim. vi. 17. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded; this world is opposed to eternity, and to life eternal, for the which the rich are to lay up a sure foundation, Luke xx. 34. The sons of this world marry, and are given in marriage, v. 35. But these that shall be counted worthy of that world and resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage, v. 30. Neither can they do any more [Gr. aeon ekinos] that world; this puts a great note of excellency on the world to come.
2. This world is a thing that comes under our senses, and that [Gr. to de ti] a single one creature, that we may point with our finger. Satan from the top of a mountain shewed Christ, [Gr. pasas tas basileias kosmu] All the kingdoms of the world, and the glory, or opinion of them, Mat. iv. 8. And it is, Luke iv. 5. all the kingdoms, [Gr. tes ockoumene en stigme chronu] he shewed him the fancy of the habitable earth in a point of time; the life to come cannot come under your senses. Ye cannot point out the throne of God, and the Lamb, and the tree of life, and the pure river of water of life, that proceeds out of the throne of God, and of the Lamb, there be such various treasures of glory in the infinite Lord Jesus, so many dwelling-places in our Father's house, that ye cannot number them all. The kingdoms of this world, and the glory of it comes within tale and reckoning; I grant this is meant of the structure and dwellings of the world, but they are the settled home of reprobate men.
It were good, if we could believe that the [Gr. sphema] of the world, the figure and paintry of this house of lost men, 1 Cor. vii. 30. is in a trance, and passing away: ah! are ye conformed to the world? Your condition is woeful. The world swears, and so do you, the world serves the time in religion, and so do you; the world is vain in their apparel; the world cozens, lies, whores, and so do you; the world hates Christ and his friends, and so do you; the world lies in sin, it is the fashion of the world, and so do you. Oh! if you would be conformed to the new world, in righteousness and holiness. 1. The inn-dwellers are all the children of a king, and princes, and their mother a prince's daughter. 2. The lowest piece of the dwelling-house of that other world, the heavens, we see, are curious work; any one pearl, or candle of sun, or moon, or stars, is worth the whole earth, setting aside the souls of men. 3. The foundation of the city is precious stones, Rev. xxi. &c. What fools are we, who kill every one another for pieces and bits of the Lord's lowest footstool; for the earth, the seat of the worldly man, is but the footstool of God.
The Judgment of this world.
How did Christ condemn and pass sentence on the wicked world in his death.
1. He did it legally, in that his offering a sufficient ransom for sin, there is a seal put on the condemnation of all impenitent men, that they shall 'not see life, but the wrath of God (that they were by nature under, being the captives of the law) abideth on them,' John iii. 36. 'Because they believe not in the Son of God,' John xvi. 9. Christ's dying day was the unbelievers dooms-day.
2. He condemned the world declaratorily, in removing the curse from all the persecutions of the ill world; which was also more than a declaration, it being a real overcoming of the world, John xiv. 33. He hath removed all offence from the enmity and deadly feud that the world beareth against the saints. Christ's good-will in dying, hath sanctified, sweetened, and perfumed the world's ill-will to the saints.
3. He judgeth the world in his death exemplarily; as it is said, Heb. xi. 7. Noah condemned the world, in preparing an ark. So Christ's example of obedience in dying for the world, at his Father's command, John x. 16. condemns the world's disobedience. Christ dying, and in his thirst, not master of a cup of water, is a judgment of the drunkard; his dying, his being stript of his garments, is a condemning of vain and strange apparel; his face spitted on, saith beauty, is vanity; his dying between two thieves saith, a high place among princes is not much, when the prince of the kings of the earth was marrowed with thieves; his being forsaken of lovers and friends, condemneth trusting in men, and confidence in princes, or the sons of men: all this is for our mortification, that we love not the world, for it is Christ's condemned malefactor.
Now is the prince of this world cast out.
Here two things are considerable, 1. Who is the prince of this world. 2. How he is by Christ cast out.
The prince of this world is Satan, so called, John xiv. 30. And the prince that rules in the children of disobedience, Eph. ii. ,2. called with a higher name, 2 Cor. iv. 4, [Gr. ho theos tu aionos toutou,] The god of this world. What princedom, or what godhead can the devil have in the world? or, who gave to him a sceptre, a crown, and a throne? for Satan hath a throne, Rev. ii. 3.
The devil is not 1. A free prince. 2. Not an absolute monarch. 3. Nor a lawful king; not free, because he is a captive prince, reserved in everlasting chains of darkness, unto the judgment of the great day, Jude 6. The Son of God is the only free prince in the world, there be none independently free in heaven and earth but he, John viii. 36. The kingdom of grace is an ancient free estate; and never was, and never can be conquered, not by the gates of hell, Mat. xvi. 18. Zech. xii. 3. and in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone, tho' all people of the earth be gathered together against it. Sure, Christ is a free king, by all the reason, and lawful authority in heaven and earth, Psal. ii. 6, 7. Hell is no free princedom, all in it are staves of sin, John viii. 34, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44. The liberty of loving, enjoying, seeing, and praising God, and leisure, or thoughts, or cares to do no other thing, is the only true liberty, and liberty to be a king, and absolute over lusts, and wicked will, is the only liberty, Psal. cxix. 45. I shall walk [Hebr. barehabah] in latitude, in breadth, in liberty; for I seek thy precepts. 2. He is not an absolute prince. 1. He is under bail, and in chains of irresistible providence; Satan's providence, in power, is narrower than his will and malice; or otherwise he had not left a church on earth. 2. He can do nothing without leave asked and given, against Job; nor could he winnow Peter, till he petitioned for it. (3.) He is not a lawful monarch, but usurpeth; and therefore is called the god of this world, 2 Cor. iv. 4. not that he hath any godhead, properly so called.
1. It is true, a black monarch weareth Christ's fair crown, and intrudes on his throne, in every false worship; Levit. xvii. He that killeth ox, or goat, or lamb to the Lord, in the camp, and bringeth it not to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, v. 7. Offereth sacrifice to devils, 2. Chron. xi. 15. Jeroboam ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves that he had made.
2. To fear the devil, the sorcerer, or him that can kill the body, (as Satan may bear the keys of prison-houses, and the sword, Rev. ii. 10.) more than the Lord, is to put a godhead on the devil.
3. Satan usurpeth a godhead, over that which is the flower and most godlike and divine piece in man, the mind. 2 Cor. iv. 4. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not: and he makes a work-house of the souls of the children of disobedience, Eph. ii. 2. they are the devil's forge and shop, in whom he frames curious pieces for himself.
4. His crown stands in relations: fathers, tyrants by strong hand, and lords by free election were kings of old; so the devil is a father, hath children, and a seed, Acts xiii. 10. John iii. 10. the world his conquest, and his vassals, Acts x. 38. 2 Tim. ii. 26. 1 Pet. iv. 3. & 5. 8. are the world which he governs and rules, by the three fundamental principles of his catholic kingdom, which he hath holden these 5000 years, 'The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life,' 1 John ii. 16. Sinners hold the crown on the devil's head; their loyalty to prince Satan acteth on them to die in wars against the Lamb and his followers.
A cause is not good, because followed by many. Isa. xvii. 7. in that day when the church is but 'three or four berries on the top of the olive-tree, a man, one single man, shall look to his Maker.' Men come to Sion, and follow Christ in ones and twos of a whole tribe, Jer. iii. 14. They go to hell in thousands; a whole earth, Rev. xiii. worship the western beast; and the eastern leopard hath the far greatest part of the habitable world; Indians and Americans worship Satan. Christ's are but a little flock; ah the way to heaven is over-grown with grass, there the traces of few feet are to be seen in the way: only you may see the print of our glorious fore-runner Christ's foot, and of the prophets, apostles, martyrs, and the handful 'that follow the Lamb.' Follow ye on, and miss not your lodging.
Shall be cast out.
There is a two-fold casting out of Satan; one for his first sin, 2 Pet. ii 4. God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, Jude verse 6. This is a personal casting out, not spoken of here; but Satan must have two hells; for though the gospel was never intended to Satan, yet Satan is guilty of gospel rebellion, in that the dragon fighteth with the Lamb, and the weak woman travelling in birth, by the gospel, to bring forth a man-child to God. And (2.) as Satan is the mystical head and prince of that condemned body, he is cast out; and he hath a power in regard of the guilt and dominion of sin, both over the elect and the reprobate. Christ's death hath broken hell's bars, and condemned sin in the flesh, Rom. viii. 3. And dissolved the works of the devil, and taken his forts and castles; and, i John iii. 8. taken many of Satan's soldiers captives. Death was the devil's fort-royal; hell is hit great prison-house, and principal jail: these he hath taken, 1 Cor. xv. 55, 56. Hos. xiii. 14. I will ransom them from the power of the grave, I will redeem them from the power of death. O death, I will be thy plague; O grave, I will be thy destruction. And these captives can never be ransomed out of Christ's hand again; for (saith he) repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. When Christ spoils, he will never restore the prey again. He hath overcome the world, John. xvi. 33. And that was a strong fort; and he hath delivered the saints from the dominion of sin, because they are under a new husband, Rom. vi. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Rom. vii. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. All crosses have lost their salt and their sting; even as when a city is taken by storming, all the commanders and soldiers are disarmed: and when a court is cried down by law, all the members and officers of the court, judge and scribe, and advocates that can plead, pursevants, jails are cried down; they cannot sit nor lead a process, nor summon a subject: so when Christ cried down Satan's judicature, and triumphed over principalities and powers, and annulled all decrees, laws hand-writings of ordinances, that Satan could have against the saints, Col. ii. 14,15. all the officers of hell are laid aside; the devil is out of office by law, jure; the jails and pits are broken, Isa. xlix. 9. That thou mayst say to the prisoners, go forth: to them that are in darkness, shew yourselves. Zech. ix. 11. When a righteous King cometh to the crown, he putteth down all unjust usurpers.
If Satan be cast out, we are not debtors to the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof, Rom. viii. 12. Sin hath no law over us. There is a law of sin, a dictate of mad reason, by which the sinner thinks he is under the oath of allegiance to Satan, and his crown, sceptre, and honour he must defend; but there is no reason, no law in hell, and in the works of hell. And if he be once cast out, who is this usurping lawless lord, if you sweep the house to him, and take him in again to a new lodging, one devil will be eight devils; for Satan, thus cast out, will return with seven devils worse than himself; remember Lot's wife, if ye be escaped out of Sodom. Look not over your shoulder with a wanton and lustful eye to old forsaken lovers, let repentance and mortification be constant.