[The Authors of this peace.]—Now that all this should be a cheat is impossible—that is, it is impossible that believers should thus have peace with God through the blood of his cross, he having not paid full price to God for them; especially if you consider that the authors of this peace are all the three in the Godhead, and that upon a double account.
1. In that they have given us a gospel of peace (Rom 10:15). Or a new testament which propoundeth peace with God through the redemption that is in Christ. Now as this is called the gospel of peace, so it is called the gospel of God (1 Thess 2:9). The gospel of Christ (Rom 15:19; 2 Thess 1:8). A gospel indited by the Holy Ghost (1 Thess 4:8). I say, therefore, that redemption and salvation being that through Christ, and the truth thereof proclaimed by the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, in the word of the truth of the gospel, it must needs be that we who believe shall be saved, 'if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.'
2. As the three in the Godhead are the authors of this peace by inditing for us the gospel of peace, or the good tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ, so they are the authors of our peace by working with that word of the gospel in our hearts. And hence, (1.) The Father is called the God of peace, 'Now the God of peace be with you all' (Rom 15:33). 'And the very God of peace sanctify you' (1 Thess 5:23). And because he is the God of peace, therefore he filleth those that believe in his Christ with joy and peace through believing (Rom 15:13). (2.) Again, Christ is called the Prince of peace; therefore the prayer is, 'Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ' (2 Thess 1:2). (3.) The Holy Ghost also is the author of this peace, this inward peace, even 'righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost' (Rom 14:17).
And I say, as I also already have said, the procuring or meritorious cause of this peace is the doings and sufferings of Christ; therefore by his doings and sufferings he paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them; else God would never have indited a proclamation of peace for them, and the tenor of that proclamation to be the worthiness of the Lord Jesus; yea, he would never have wrought with that word in the heart of them that believe, to create within them peace, peace.
Second. [Holiness.] As peace with God is an evidence—the blood of Christ being the cause thereof—that Christ hath by it paid full price to God for sinners, so holiness in their hearts, taking its beginning from this doctrine, makes its fifth demonstration of double strength.
1. That holiness, true gospel holiness, possesseth our hearts by this doctrine it is evident, because the ground of holiness, which is the Spirit of God in us, is ministered to us by this doctrine. When the apostle had insinuated that the Galatians were bewitched because they had turned from the doctrine of Christ crucified, he demands of them whether 'they received the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?' (Gal 3:1-4). That is, whether the Spirit took possession of their souls by their obedience to the ten commandments, or by their giving credit to the doctrine of the forgiveness of their sins by faith in this crucified Christ, strongly concluding, not by the law, but by the hearing or preaching of faith—that is, of the Lord Jesus as crucified, who is the object of faith.
2. As this doctrine conveyeth the ground or groundwork, which is the Spirit, so also it worketh in the heart those three graces, faith, hope, love, all which as naturally purify the heart from wickedness as soap and nitre cleanseth the cloth. He purified 'their hearts by faith,' by faith in Christ's blood. 'And every man that hath this hope in him, purifieth himself, even as he is pure.' And also love, you shall see what that doth if you look into the text (Acts 15:9; 1 John 3:3,4; 1 Cor 13). Now, I say, this faith groundeth itself in the blood of Christ; hope waiteth for the full enjoyments of the purchase of it in another world; and love is begot, and worketh by the love that Christ hath expressed by his death, and by the kindness he presented us with in his heart's blood (Rom 3:24; 1 Cor 15:19; 2 Cor 5:14).
Besides, what arguments so prevailing as such as are purely gospel? To instance a few—(1.) What stronger than a free forgiveness of sins? 'A certain man had two debtors, the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty; and when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both; tell me therefore which of them will love him most?' (Luke 7:41,42,47). (2.) What stronger argument to holiness than to see that though forgiveness comes free to us, yet it cost Christ Jesus heart-blood to obtain it for us. 'Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.' And this love of God in giving his Christ, and of Christ in dying for us, there is no argument stronger to prevail with a sensible and awakened sinner to judge 'he should live to him that died for him, and rose again' (2 Cor 5:15). (3.) What stronger argument to holiness than this: 'If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous?' (1 John 2:1). Unsanctified and graceless wretches know not how to use these words of God; the hypocrites also fly in our faces because we thus urge them; but a heart that is possessed with gospel ingenuity, or, to speak more properly, that is possessed with gospel grace, and with divine considerations, cries, If it be thus, O let me never sin against God, 'for the love of Christ constraineth me' (2 Cor 5:14). (4.) What greater argument to holiness than to see the holy Scriptures so furnished with promises of grace and salvation by Christ, that a man can hardly cast his eye into the Bible but he espieth one or other of them? Who would not live in such a house, or be servant to such a prince, who, besides his exceeding in good conditions, hath gold and silver as common in his palace as stones are by the highway side? 'Having, therefore, these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God' (2 Cor 7:1). (5.) What greater argument to holiness than to have our performances, though weak and infirm from us, yet accepted of God in Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:4-6). (6.) What greater argument to holiness than to have our soul, our body, our life, hid and secured with Christ in God? 'Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry' (Col 3:1-5). (7.) What greater argument to holiness than to be made the members of the body, of the flesh, and of the bones of Jesus Christ? 'Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid' (Eph 5:30; 1 Cor 6:15).
Now all these, and five times as many more, having their foundation in the love, blood, and righteousness of Christ, and operating in the soul by faith, are the great arguments unto that holiness to which is annexed eternal life. It is worth our observing, that in Acts 26:18, the inheritance belongs 'to them which are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ'; for all other pretences to holiness, they are but a stolen semblance of that which is true and acceptable, though it is common for even that which is counterfeit to be called by the deluded the true, and to be reckoned to be in them that are utter strangers to faith, and the holiness that comes by faith. 'But whosoever compoundeth any like it, or whosoever putteth any of it upon a stranger, shall even be cut off from his people' (Exo 30:23). God knoweth which is holiness that comes by faith in forgiveness of sins, and acceptance with God through Christ; and God knows which is only such feignedly; and accordingly will he deal with sinners in that great day of God Almighty.
THE SIXTH DEMONSTRATION.
SIXTH. That Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them, is evident, because prayers are accepted of God only upon the account and for the sake of the name of Jesus Christ—'Verily, verily, I say unto you, whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you' (John 16:23). In my name, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, in the name of him that came into the world to save sinners, by dying for them a grievous, bloody death; in his name that hath by himself put away sin, and brought unto God acceptable righteousness for sinners; in his name. Why in his name, if he be not accepted of God? why in his name if his undertakings for us are not well-pleasing to God? But by these words, 'in my name,' are insinuated that his person and performances, as our undertaker, are accepted by the Father of spirits. We may not go in our own names, because we are sinners; not in the name of one another, because all are sinners. But why not in the name of an angel? Because they are not those that did undertake for us; or had they, they could not have done our work for us. 'He putteth no trust in his saints, yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight' (Job 4:18, 15:15). It may further be objected—
Since Jesus Christ is God, equal with the Father, and so hath naturally the same power to give us the Father, why should the Father rather than the Son be the great giver to the sinners of the world? and why may we not go to Christ in the name of the Father, as well as to the Father in the name of Christ? I say, how can these things be solved, but by considering that sin and justice put a necessity upon it that thus must our salvation be obtained. Sin and justice could not reconcile, nor could a means be found out to bring the sinner and a holy God together, but by the intercepting of the Son, who must take upon him to answer justice, and that by taking our sins from before the face of God by bloody sacrifice, not by blood of others, as the high-priests under the law—'For every high-priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices; wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer' (Heb 8:3). Which offering and sacrifice of his being able to perfect for ever them that are sanctified and set apart for eternal life, therefore the name of the person that offered—even Jesus, made of God a high-priest—is acceptable with God; yea, therefore is he made for ever, by his doing for us, the appeaser of the justice of God, and the reconciler of sinners to him. Hence it is that HIS name is that which it behoveth us to mention when we come before God, for what God hath determined in his counsels of grace to bestow upon sinners, because for his name's sake he forgiveth them. 'I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake' (1 John 2:12). 'To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins' (Acts 10:43).
They therefore that would obtain the forgiveness of sins must ask it of God, through the name of Jesus; and he that shall sensibly and unfeignedly do it, he shall receive the forgiveness of them—'Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.' Hence it is evident that he hath not only paid full price to God for them, but also obtained eternal redemption for them.
And it is observable, the Lord Jesus would have his disciples make a proof of this, and promiseth that if they do, they shall experimentally find it so—'Hitherto,' saith he, 'have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full' (John 16:24). As who should say, O my disciples, you have heard what I have promised to you, even that my Father shall do for you whatsoever ye shall ask him in my name. Ask now, therefore, and prove me, if I shall not make my words good: ask, I say, what you need, and see if you do not receive it to the joying of your hearts. 'At that day ye shall ask in my name, and I say not unto you that I will pray the Father for you.' I do not bid you ask in my name as if the Father was yet hard to be reconciled, or unwilling to accept you to mercy; my coming into the world was the design of my Father, and the effect of his love to sinners; but there is sin in you and justice in God; therefore that you to him might be reconciled, I am made of my Father mediator; wherefore ask in my name, for 'there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved' (Acts 4:12). Ask in my name; love is let out to you through me; it is let out to you by me in a way of justice, which is the only secure way for you. Ask in my name, and my Father will love you—'The Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God' (John 16:27). My Father's love is set first upon me, for my name is chief in his heart, and all that love me are beloved of my Father, and shall have what they need, if they ask in my name.
But, I say, what cause would there be to ask in his name more than in the name of some other, since justice was provoked by our sin, if he had not undertook to make up the difference that by sin was made betwixt justice and us? For though there be in this Jesus infinite worth, infinite righteousness, infinite merit, yet if he make not with these interest for us, we get no more benefit thereby than if there were no mediator. But this worth and merit is in him for us, for he undertook to reconcile us to God; it is therefore that his name is with God so prevailing for us poor sinners, and therefore that we ought to go to God in his name. Hence, therefore, it is evident that Jesus Christ hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them.
THE SEVENTH DEMONSTRATION.
SEVENTH. That Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid full price to God for sinners, &c., is evident, because we are commanded also to give God thanks in his name—'By him, therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name' (Heb 3:15).
'By him therefore.' Wherefore? Because he also, that he might 'sanctify us with his own blood, suffered without the gate' (v 12).
He sanctified us with his blood; but why should the Father have thanks for this? Even because the Father gave him for us, that he might die to sanctify us with his blood—'Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son; in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins' (Col 1:12-14). The Father is to be thanked, for the contrivance was also his; but the blood, the righteousness, or that worthiness, for the sake of which we are accepted of God, is the worthiness of his own dear Son. As it is meet, therefore, that God should have thanks, so it is necessary that he have it in his name for whose sake we indeed are accepted of him.
Let us therefore by him offer praise first for the gift of his Son, and for that we stand quit through him in his sight, and that in despite of all inward weakness, and that in despite of all outward enemies.
When the apostle had taken such a view of himself as to put himself into a maze, with an outcry also, 'Who shall deliver me?' he quiets himself with this sweet conclusion, 'I thank God through Jesus Christ' (Rom 7:24,25). He found more in the blood of Christ to save him than he found in his own corruptions to damn him; but that could not be, had he not paid full price for him, had he not obtained eternal redemption for him. And can a holy and just God require that we give thanks to him in his name, if it was not effectually done for us by him?
Further, when the apostle looks upon death and the grave, and strengtheneth them by adding to them sin and the law, saying, 'The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law,' he presently addeth, 'But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory, through Jesus Christ' (1 Cor 15)—the victory over sin, death, and the law, the victory over these through our Lord Jesus Christ: but God hath given us the victory; but it is through our Lord Jesus Christ, through his fulfilling the law, through his destroying death, and through his bringing in everlasting righteousness. Elisha said to the king of Israel, that had it not been that he regarded the presence of Jehoshaphat, he would not look to him nor regard him (2 Kings 3:14); nor would God at all have looked to or regarded thee, but that he respected the person of Jesus Christ.
'Let the peace of God [therefore] rule in our hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful' (Col 3:15). The peace of God, of that we have spoken before. But how should this rule in our hearts? He by the next words directs you—'Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly'—that is, the word that makes revelation of the death and blood of Christ, and of the peace that is made with God for you thereby.
'Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ' (Eph 5:20). For all things; for all things come to us through this name Jesus—redemption, translation, the kingdom, salvation, with all the good things wherewith we are blessed.
These are the works of God; he gave his Son, and he brings us to him, and puts us into his kingdom—that is, his true body, which Jeremiah calleth a putting among the children, and a 'giving us a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations' (Jer 3:19; John 6).
'Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ' (2 Cor 2:14).
See here our cause of triumph is through Christ Jesus; and God causeth us through him to triumph, first and chiefly, because Christ Jesus hath done our work for us, hath pleased God for our sins, hath spoiled the powers of darkness. God gave Jesus Christ to undertake our redemption; Christ did undertake it, did engage our enemies, and spoiled them—He 'spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them' upon the cross (Col 2:14,15). Therefore it is evident that he paid full price to God for sinners with his blood, because God commands us to give thanks to him in his name, through his name—'And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him' (Col 3:17).
Take this conclusion from the whole: no thanks are accepted of God that come not to him in the name of his Son; his Son must have the glory of conveying our thanks to God, because he was he that by his blood conveyeth his grace to us.
THE EIGHTH DEMONSTRATION.
EIGHTH. In the next place, that Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them, is evident, because we are exhorted to wait for, and to expect, the full and glorious enjoyment of that eternal redemption, at the second coming of the Lord from heaven—'Let your loins by girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord,—that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately' (Luke 12:35,36).
Jesus Christ hath obtained by his blood eternal redemption for us, and hath taken it up now in the heavens, is, as I have showed, preparing for us there everlasting mansions of rest; and then he will come again for us. This coming is intended in this text, and this coming we are exhorted to wait for; and that I may more fully show the truth of this demonstration, observe these following texts—
First. It is said, he shall choose our inheritance for us—'He shall choose our inheritance for us; the excellency of Jacob whom he loved. Selah. God is gone up with a shout,' &c. (Psa 47:4,5). These latter words intend the ascension of Jesus Christ; his ascension, when he had upon the cross made reconciliation for iniquity; his ascension into the heavens to prepare our mansions of glory for us; for our inheritance is in the heavens; our house, our hope, our mansion-house, and our incorruptible and undefiled inheritance is in heaven (2 Cor 5:1,2; Col 1:5,6; John 14:1,2; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
This is called the eternal inheritance, of which we that are called have received the promise already (Heb 9:14,15).
This inheritance, I say, he is gone to choose for us in the heavens, because by his blood he obtained it for us (Heb 9:12). And this we are commanded to wait for; but how ridiculous, yea, how great a cheat would this be, had he not by his blood obtained it for us.
Second. 'We wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus [Christ], which delivered us from the wrath to come' (1 Thess 1:10). He delivered us by his blood, and obtained the kingdom of heaven for us, and hath promised that he would go and prepare our places, and come again and fetch us thither—'And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there ye may be also' (John 14:3). This, then, is the cause that we wait for him, we look for the reward of the inheritance at his coming who have served the Lord Christ in this world.
Third. 'For our conversation is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ' (Phil 3:20). We look for him to come yet as a Saviour—a Saviour he was at his first coming, and a Saviour he will be at his second coming. At his first coming, he bought and paid for us; at his second coming, he will fetch us to himself. At his first coming, he gave us promise of the kingdom; at his second coming, he will give us possession of the kingdom. At his first coming, he also showed us how we should be, by his own transfiguration; at his second coming, 'he will change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body' (Phil 3:21).
Fourth. Hence therefore it is that his coming is called our blessed hope—'Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ' (Titus 2:13). A blessed hope indeed, if he hath bought our persons with his blood, and an eternal inheritance for us in the heavens; a blessed hope indeed, if also at his coming we be certainly carried thither. No marvel, then, if saints be bid to wait for it, and if saints themselves long for it. But what a disappointment would these waiting believers have, should all their expectations be rewarded with a fable! and the result of their blessed hope can amount to no more, if our Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ either denieth to come, or coming, bringeth not with him the hope, the blessed hope that is laid up for us in heaven, whereof we have certainly been informed by 'the word of the truth of the gospel' (Col 1:5).
Fifth. 'For Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation' (Heb 9:28). Here we have it promised that he shall come, that he shall appear the second time, but not with sin, as he did before—to wit, with and in the sin of his people, when he bare them in his own body; but now without sin, for he before did put them away by the sacrifice of himself. Now, then, let the saints look for him, not to die for the purchasing of their persons by blood, but to bring to them, and to bring them also to that salvation that before when he died he obtained of God for them by his death.
These things are to be expected therefore by them that believe in and love Jesus Christ, and that from faith and love serve him in this world; they are to be expected by them, being obtained for them by Jesus Christ. And he shall give the crown, saith Paul, 'not to me only, but to all them also that love his appearing' (2 Tim 4:8,9).
Now forasmuch as this inheritance in the heavens is the price, purchase, and reward of his blood, how evidently doth it appear that he hath paid full price to God for sinners! Would God else have given him the heaven to dispose of to us that believe, and would he else have told us so? Yea, and what comfort could we have to look for his coming, and kingdom, and glory as the fruits of his death, if his death had not for that purpose been sufficiently efficacious? O 'the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that shall follow!' (1 Peter 1:11).
THE NINTH DEMONSTRATION.
NINTH. That Jesus Christ, by what he hath done, hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for sinners, is evident, because of the threatenings wherewith God hath threatened, and the punishments wherewith he punisheth those that shall refuse to be saved by Christ, or seek to make insignificant the doctrine of righteousness by faith in him.
This demonstration consisteth of three parts—First. It suggesteth that some refuse to be justified or saved by Christ, and also seek to make insignificant the doctrine of righteousness by faith in him. Second. That God doth threaten these. Third. That God will punish these.
[First.] That some refuse to be saved by Christ is evident from many texts. He is the stone which the builders have rejected; he is also disallowed of men; the Jews stumble at him, and to the Greeks he is foolishness; both saying, This man shall not rule over us, or, How can this man save us? (Psa 118:22; Matt 21:44; Luke 19:14; 1 Cor 1:23; 1 Peter 2:4).
The causes of men's refusing Christ are many—1. Their love to sin. 2. Their ignorance of his excellency. 3. Their unbelief. 4. Their deferring to come to him in the acceptable time. 5. Their leaning to their own righteousness. 6. Their entertaining damnable doctrines. 7. Their loving the praise of men. 8. The meanness of his ways, his people, &c. 9. The just judgment of God upon them. 10. The kingdom is given to others.
Now these, as they all refuse him, so they seek, more or less, some practically, others in practice and judgment also, to make insignificant the doctrine of righteousness by faith in him. One does it by preferring his sins before him. Another does it by preferring his righteousness before him. Another dies it by preferring his delusions before him. Another does it by preferring the world before him.
Now these God threateneth, these God punisheth.
Second. God threateneth them.
1. Whosoever shall 'not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from amongst the people' (Acts 3:23). The prophet is Jesus Christ; the doctrine that he preached was, that he would lay down his life for us, that he would give us his flesh to eat, and his blood to drink by faith; and promised, that if we did eat his flesh, and drink his blood, we should have eternal life. He therefore that seeth not, or that is afraid to venture his soul for salvation on the flesh and blood of Christ by faith, he refuseth this prophet, he heareth not this prophet, and him God hath purposed to cut off. But would God thus have threatened, if Christ by his blood, and the merits of the same, had not paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them?
2. 'Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool' (Psa 110:1; Matt 22:44; Heb 1:13). The honour of sitting at God's right hand was given him because he died, and offered his body once for all. 'This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool' (Heb 10:12,13). Expecting, since God accepted his offering, that those that refused him should be trodden under foot; that is, sunk by him into and under endless and insupportable vengeance. But would God have given the world such an account of his sufferings, that by one offering he did perfect for ever them that are sanctified? yea, and would he have threatened to make those foes his footstool that shall refuse to venture themselves upon his offering—for they are indeed his foes—had not his eternal Majesty been well pleased with the price he paid to God for sinners; had he not obtained eternal redemption for them?
3. He shall come 'from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ' (2 Thess 1:7,8).
Here he expressly telleth us wherefore they shall be punished; because 'they know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ'; where also is notably intimated that he that obeyeth not the gospel of Christ knoweth not God, neither in his justice nor mercy. But what is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ but good tidings of good things—to wit, forgiveness of sins by faith in his blood, an inheritance in heaven by faith in his blood, as the whole of all the foregoing discourse hath manifested? Now, I say, can it be imagined that God would threaten to come upon the world with this flaming, fiery vengeance to punish them for their non-subjection to his Son's gospel, if there had not been by himself paid to God full price for the souls of sinners, if he had not obtained eternal redemption by his blood for sinners?
4. 'And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds, which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him' (Jude 14,15).
The Lord that is here said to come with ten thousands of his saints is Jesus Christ himself; and they that come with him are called his saints, because given to him by the Father, for the sake of the shedding of his blood. Now in that he is said to come to execute judgment upon all, and especially those that speak hard speeches against him, it is evident that the Father tendereth his name, which is Jesus, a Saviour, and his undertaking for our redemption; and as evident that the hard speeches intended by the text are such as vilify him as Saviour, counting the blood of the covenant unholy, and trampling him that is Prince of the covenant under the feet of their reproachful language; this is counted a putting of him to open shame, and a despising the riches of his goodness (Heb 6:10; Rom 2). Time would fail to give you a view of the revilings, despiteful sayings, and of the ungodly speeches which these abominable children of hell let fall in their pamphlets, doctrines, and discourses against the Lord the King. But the threatening is, he shall 'execute judgment upon them for all their ungodly deeds, and for all the hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.'
5. 'Beware therefore, lest that come upon you which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which you shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you' (Acts 13:40,41).
This work is the same we have been all this while treating of—to wit, redemption by the blood of Christ for sinners, or that Christ hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them. This is manifest from verses 23 to 29 of this chapter.
Now, observe, there are and will be despisers of this doctrine, and they are threatened with the wrath of God—'Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish.' But would God so carefully have cautioned sinners to take heed of despising this blessed doctrine, and have backed his caution with a threatening that they shall perish, if they persist, had not he himself received by the blood of Christ full price for the souls of sinners?
Third. As God threateneth, so he punisheth those that refuse his Son, or that seek to vilify or make insignificant the doctrine of righteousness by faith in him.
1. He punished them with the abidings of his wrath—'He that believeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him' (John 3:36).
The wrath of God for men; for sin stands already condemned by the law; and the judgment is, that they who refuse the Lord Jesus Christ shall have this wrath of God for ever lie and abide upon them; for they want a sacrifice to pacify wrath for the sin they have committed, having resisted and refused the sacrifice of the body of Christ. Therefore it cannot be that they should get from under their present condition who have refused to accept of the undertaking of Christ for them.
Besides, God, to show that he taketh it ill at the hands of sinners that they should refuse the sacrifice of Christ, hath resolved that there shall be no more sacrifice for sin. Therefore 'if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins' (Heb 10:26). God doth neither appoint another, neither will he accept another, whoever brings it. And here those sayings are of their own natural force: 'How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?' And again, 'See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth (Moses), much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him (Christ) that speaketh from heaven' (Heb 2:3, 12:25).
This therefore is a mighty demonstration that Christ by what he hath done hath paid full price to God for the souls of sinners, because God so severely threateneth, and also punisheth them that refuse to be justified by his blood: he threateneth, as you have heard, and punisheth, by leaving such men in their sins, under his heavy and insupportable vengeance here.
2. 'He that believeth not shall be damned,' damned in hell-fire (Mark 16:16). 'He that believeth not.' But what should he believe? Why,
(1.) That Jesus is the Saviour. 'If,' saith he, 'ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.'
(2.) He that believeth not that he [Jesus] hath undertaken and completely perfected righteousness for us, shall die in his sins, shall be damned, and perish in hell-fire; for such have no cloak for their sin, but must stand naked to the show of their shame before the judgment of God, that fearful judgment. Therefore, after he had said, 'there remaineth' for such 'no more sacrifice for sin,' he adds, 'but a certain fearful looking for of judgment'; there is for them left nothing but the judgment of God, and his fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 'He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses; of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace' (Heb 10:28,29).
See here, if fury comes not up now into the face of God; now is mention made of his fearful judgment and fiery indignation. Now, I say, is mention made thereof, when it is suggested that some have light thoughts of him, count his blood unholy, and trample his sacrificed body under the feet of their reproaches; now is he a consuming fire, and will burn to the lowest hell. 'For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people' (Heb 10:30). These words are urged by the Holy Ghost on purpose to beget in the hearts of the rebellious reverend thoughts, and a high esteem of the sacrifice which our Lord Jesus offered once for all upon Mount Calvary unto God the Father for our sins; for that is the very argument of the whole epistle.
It is said to this purpose, in one of Paul's epistles to the Thessalonians, that because men receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved; 'for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they might be damned' (2 Thess 2:11,12).
'The truth' mentioned in this place is Jesus Christ. 'I am the truth,' saith he (John 14:6). The love of the truth is none else but the love and compassion of Jesus Christ in shedding his blood for man's redemption. 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends' (John 15:13). This, then, is the love of the Truth (of Jesus), that he hath laid down his life for us. Now, that the rejecters of this love should by this their rejecting procure such wrath of God against them, that rather than they shall miss of damnation, himself will choose their delusions for them, and also give them up to the effectual working of these delusions, what doth this manifest but that God is displeased with them that accept not of Jesus Christ for righteousness, and will certainly order that their end shall be everlasting damnation? therefore Jesus Christ hath paid full price to God for sinners, and obtained eternal redemption for them.
THE USE OF THE DOCTRINE.
I come now to make some use of and to apply this blessed doctrine of the undertaking of Jesus Christ, and of his paying full price to God for sinners, and of his obtaining eternal redemption for them.
THE FIRST USE.
[FIRST.] By this doctrine we come to understand many things which otherwise abide obscure and utterly unknown, because this doctrine is accompanied with the Holy Ghost, that revealer of secrets, and searcher of the deep things of God (1 Peter 1:2; Eph 1:17; 1 Cor 2). The Holy Ghost comes down with this doctrine as that in which it alone delighteth; therefore is it called 'the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge' of Jesus Christ. He giveth also 'the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ' (2 Cor 4:6). Little of God is known in the world where the gospel is rejected; the religious Jew and the wise Gentile may see more of God in a crucified Christ than in heaven and earth besides; for in him 'are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,' not only in his person as God, but also in his undertakings as Mediator (Col 2:3). Hence Paul telleth us, that he 'determined not to know anything among' the Corinthians but 'Jesus Christ and him crucified' (1 Cor 2:2). I say, more of God is revealed to us in this doctrine than we can see of him in heaven and earth without it.
First. Here is more of his WISDOM seen than in his making and upholding all the creatures. His wisdom, I say, in devising means to reconcile sinners to a holy and infinite Majesty; to be a just God, and YET a Saviour; to be just to his law, just to his threatening, just to himself, and yet save sinners, can no way be understood till thou understandest why Jesus Christ did hang on the tree; for here only is the riddle unfolded, 'Christ died for our sins,' and therefore can God in justice save us (Isa 45:21). And hence is Christ called the Wisdom of God, not only because he is so essentially, but because by him is the greatest revelation of his wisdom towards man. In redemption, therefore, by the blood of Christ, God is said to abound towards us in all wisdom (Eph 1:7,8). Here we see the highest contradictions reconciled, here justice kisseth the sinner, here a man stands just in the sight of God while confounded at his own pollutions, and here he that hath done no good hath yet a sufficient righteousness, even the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ.
Second. The JUSTICE of God is here more seen than in punishing all the damned. 'He spared not his own Son,' is a sentence which more revealeth the nature of the justice of God than if it had said, He spared not all the world. True, he cast angels from heaven, and drowned the old world; he turned Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, with many more of like nature; but what were all these to the cursing of his Son? Yea, what were ten thousand such manifestations of his ireful indignation against sin, to that of striking, afflicting, chastising, and making the darling of his bosom the object of his wrath and judgment? Here it is seen he respecteth not persons, but judgeth sin, and condemneth him on whom it is found; yea, although on Jesus Christ his well-beloved (Rom 8:32; Gal 3:13).
Third. The mystery of God's WILL is here more seen than in hanging the earth upon nothing, while he condemneth Christ, though righteous, and justifieth us, though sinners, while he maketh him to be sin for us, and us the righteousness of God in him (1 Peter 3:18; 2 Cor 5:20).
Fourth. The POWER of God is here more seen than in making of heaven and earth; for one to bear, and get the victory over sin, when charged by the justice of an infinite majesty, in so doing he showeth the height of the highest power; for where sin by the law is charged, and that by God immediately, there an infinite majesty opposeth, and that with the whole of his justice, holiness, and power; so then, he that is thus charged and engaged for the sin of the world, must not only be equal with God, but show it by overcoming that curse and judgment that by infinite justice is charged upon him for sin.
When angels and men had sinned, how did they fall and crumble before the anger of God! they had not power to withstand the terror, nor could there be worth found in their persons or doings to appease displeased justice. But behold here stands the Son of God before him in the sin of the world; his Father, finding him there, curseth and condemns him to death; but he, by the power of his Godhead, and the worthiness of his person and doings, vanquisheth sin, satisfieth God's justice, and so becomes the Saviour of the world. Here, then, is power seen: sin is a mighty thing, it crusheth all in pieces save him whose Spirit is eternal (Heb 9:14). Set Christ and his sufferings aside, and you neither see the evil of sin nor the displeasure of God against it; you see them not in their utmost. Hadst thou a view of all the legions that are now in the pains of hell, yea, couldst thou hear their shrieks and groans together at once, and feel the whole of all their burden, much of the evil of sin and of the justice of God against it would be yet unknown by thee, for thou wouldest want power to feel and bear the utmost. A giant shows not his power by killing of a little child, nor yet is his might seen by the resistance that such a little one makes, but then he showeth his power when he dealeth with one like himself; yea, and the power also of the other is then made manifest in saving himself from being swallowed up with his wrath. Jesus Christ also made manifest his eternal power and Godhead, more by bearing and overcoming our sins, than in making or upholding the whole world; hence Christ crucified is called 'the power of God' (1 Cor 1:23,24).
Fifth. The LOVE and MERCY of God are more seen in and by this doctrine than any other way. Mercy and love are seen, in that God gives us rain and fruitful seasons, and in that he filleth our hearts with food and gladness; from that bounty which he bestoweth upon us as men, as his creatures. O! but herein is love made manifest, in that 'Christ laid down his life for us.' 'And God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us' (1 John 3:16; Rom 5:8).
Never love like this, nor did God ever give such discovery of his love from the beginning to this day. 'Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins' (1 John 4:10).
Here is love, that God sent his Son, his darling, his Son that never offended, his Son that was always his delight! Herein is love, that he sent him to save sinners, to save them by bearing their sins, by bearing their curse, by dying their death, and by carrying their sorrows! Here is love, in that while we were yet enemies, Christ died for us; yea, here is love, in that while 'we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly' (Rom 5:6).
THE SECOND USE.
[SECOND.] But as this doctrine giveth us the best discovery of God, so also it giveth us the best discovery of ourselves and our own things.
First. It giveth us the best discovery of ourselves. Wouldst thou know, sinner, what thou art? look up to the cross, and behold a weeping, bleeding, dying Jesus: nothing could do but that, nothing could save thee but his blood; angels could not, saints could not, God could not, because he could not lie, because he could not deny himself. What a thing is sin, that it should sink all that bear its burden! yea, it sunk the Son of God himself into death and the grave, and had also sunk him into hell-fire for ever had he not been the Son of God, had he not been able to take it on his back, and bear it away! O this Lamb of God! Sinners were going to hell, Christ was the delight of his Father, and had a whole heaven to himself; but that did not content him, heaven could not hold him; he must come into the world to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15). Aye, and had he not come, thy sins had sunk thee, thy sins had provoked the wrath of God against thee, to thy perdition and destruction for ever. There is no man but is a sinner, there is no sin but would damn an angel, should God lay it to his charge. Sinner, the doctrine of Christ crucified crieth therefore aloud unto thee, that sin hath made thy condition dreadful. See yourselves, your sin, and consequently the condition that your souls are in, by the death and blood of Christ; Christ's death giveth us the most clear discovery of the dreadful nature of our sins. I say again, if sin be so dreadful a thing as to break the heart of the Son of God, for so he said it did, how shall a poor, wretched, impenitent, damned sinner wrestle with the wrath of God? Awake, sinners; you are lost, you are undone, you are damned, hell-fire is your portion for ever, if you abide in your sins, and be found without a Saviour in the dreadful day of judgment.
Second. For your good deeds cannot help you; the blood of Christ tells you so. For by this doctrine, 'Christ died for our sins,' God damneth to death and hell the righteousness of the world. Christ must die, or man be damned. Where is now any room for the righteousness of men? room, I say, for man's righteousness, as to his acceptance and justification? Bring, then, thy righteousness to the cross of Jesus Christ, and in his blood behold the demands of justice; behold them, I say, in the cries and tears, in the blood and death of Jesus Christ. Look again, and behold the person dying; such an one as never sinned nor offended at any time, yet he dies. Could a holy life, an innocent, harmless conversation, have saved one from death, Jesus had not died. But he must die; sin was charged, therefore Christ must die.
Men, therefore, need to go no further to prove the worth of their own righteousness than to the death of Christ; they need not be waiting to seek in that matter till they stand before the judgment-seat.
Quest. But how should I prove [or try] the goodness of mine own righteousness by the death and blood of Christ?
Answ. Thus: if Christ must die for sin, then all thy righteousness cannot save thee. 'If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain' (Gal 2:21). By this text it is manifest that either Christ died in vain, or thy righteousness is vain. If thy righteousness can save thee, then Christ died in vain; if nothing below or besides the death of Christ could save thee, then thy righteousness is in vain; one of the two must be cast away, either Christ's or thine. Christ crucified to save the world, discovereth two great evils in man's own righteousness; I mean, when brought for justification and life. 1. It opposeth the righteousness of Christ. 2. It condemneth God of foolishness.
1. It opposeth the righteousness of Christ, in that it seeketh itself to stand where should the righteousness of Christ—to wit, in God's affection for the justification of thy person; and this is one of the highest affronts to Christ that poor man is capable to give him: right worthily, therefore, doth the doctrine of the gospel damn the righteousness of men, and promiseth the kingdom of God to publicans and harlots rather.
2. It condemneth God of foolishness; for if works of righteousness which we can do can justify from the curse of the law in the sight of God, then are not all the treasures of wisdom found in the heart of God and Christ; for this dolt-headed sinner hath now found out a way of his own, unawares to God, to secure his soul from wrath and vengeance; I say, unawares to God, for he never imagined that such a thing could be; for had he, he would never have purposed before the world began to send his Son to die for sinners. Christ is the wisdom of God, as you have heard, and that as he is our justifying righteousness. God was manifest in the flesh to save us, is the great mystery of godliness. But wherein lieth the depth of this wisdom of God in our salvation, if man's righteousness can save him? (Job 40:10-14).
Yea, wherefore hath God also given it out that there is none other name given to men under heaven whereby we must be saved? I say again, why is it affirmed 'without shedding of blood is no remission,' if man's good deeds can save him?
This doctrine, therefore, of the righteousness of Christ being rightly preached, and truly believed, arraigneth and condemneth man's righteousness to hell; it casteth it out as Abraham cast out Ishmael. Blood, blood, the sound of blood, abaseth all the glory of it! When men have said all, and showed us what they can, they have no blood to present God's justice with; yet it is blood that maketh an atonement for the soul, and nothing but blood can wash away from us our sins (Lev 17:11; Rev 1:5; Heb 9).
Justice calls for blood, sins call for blood, the righteous law calls for blood, yea, the devil himself must be overcome by blood. Sinner, where is now thy righteousness? Bring it before a consuming fire, for our God is a consuming fire; bring it before the justice of the law; yea, try if aught but the blood of Christ can save thee from thy sins, and devils; try it, I say, by this doctrine; go not one step further before thou hast tried it.
Third. By this doctrine we are made to see the worth of souls. It cannot be but that the soul is of wonderful price, when the Son of God will not stick to spill his blood for it. O sinners, you that will venture your souls for a little pleasure, surely you know not the worth of your souls. Now, if you would know what your souls are worth, and the price which God sets them at, read that price by the blood of Christ. The blood of Christ was spilt to save souls. 'For ye are bought with a price,' and that price none other than the blood of Christ; 'therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's (1 Cor 6:20). Sinners, you have souls, can you behold a crucified Christ, and not bleed, and not mourn, and not fall in love with him?
THE THIRD USE.
[THIRD.] By this doctrine sinners, as sinners, are encouraged to come to God for mercy, for the curse due to sin is taken out of the way. I speak now to sinners that are awake, and see themselves sinners.
There are two things in special when men begin to be awakened, that kill their thoughts of being saved. 1. A sense of sin. 2. The wages due thereto. These kill the heart; for who can bear up under the guilt of sin? 'If our sins be upon us, and we pine away in them, how should we then live?' (Eze 33:10). How indeed! it is impossible. So neither can man grapple with the justice of God. 'Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong?' They cannot (Eze 22:14). 'A wounded spirit who can bear?' (Prov 18:14). Men cannot, angels cannot. Wherefore, if now Christ be hid, and the blessing of faith in his blood denied, woe be to them; such go after Saul and Judas, one to the sword, and the other to the halter, and so miserably end their days; for come to God they dare not; the thoughts of that eternal Majesty strike them through.
But now, present such poor dejected sinners with a crucified Christ, and persuade them that the sins under which they shake and tremble were long ago laid upon the back of Christ, and the noise and sense and fear of damning begins to cease, depart, and fly away; dolors and terrors fade and vanish, and that soul conceiveth hopes of life; for thus the soul argueth, Is this indeed the truth of God, that Christ was made to be sin for me? was made the curse of God for me? Hath he indeed borne all my sins, and spilt his blood for my redemption! O Blessed tidings! O welcome grace! 'Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.' Now is peace come; now the face of heaven is altered; 'Behold, all things are become new.' Now the sinner can abide God's presence, yea, sees unutterable glory and beauty in him; for here he sees justice smite. While Jacob was afraid of Esau, how heavily did he drive even towards the promised land? but when killing thoughts were turned into kissing, and the fears of the sword's point turned into brother embraces, what says he?—'I have seen thy face as though it had been the face of God, and thou wast pleased with me' (Gen 33:10).
So and far better is it with a poor distressed sinner at the revelation of the grace of God through Jesus Christ. 'God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.' O what work will such a word make upon a wounded conscience, especially when the next words follow—'For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him!'
Now, the soul sees qualifications able to set him quit in the sight of God; qualifications prepared already. Prepared, I say, already; and that by God through Christ; even such as can perfectly answer the law. What doth the law require? If obedience, here it is; if bloody sacrifice, here it is; if infinite righteousness, here it is! Now, then, the law condemns him that believes before God no more; for all its demands are answered, all its curses are swallowed up in the death and curse Christ underwent.
Object. But reason saith, since personal sin brought the death, surely personal obedience must bring us life and glory.
Answ. True reason saith so, and so doth the law itself (Rom 10:5); but God, we know, is above them both, and he in the covenant of grace saith otherwise; to wit, that 'if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved' (Rom 10:9).
Let reason, then, hold its tongue, yea, let the law with all its wisdom subject itself to him that made it; let it look for sin where God hath laid it; let it approve the righteousness which God approveth; yea, though it be not that of the law, but that by faith of Jesus Christ.
God hath made him our righteousness, God hath made him our sin, God hath made him our curse, God hath made him our blessing; methinks this word, 'God hath made it so,' should silence all the world.
THE FOURTH USE.
[FOURTH.] By this doctrine, sufficiency of argument is ministered to the tempted to withstand hereby the assaults of the devil.
When souls begin to seek after the Lord Jesus, then Satan begins to afflict and distress, as the Canaanites did the Gibeonites, for making peace with Joshua (Josh 10:1,6).
There are three things that do usually afflict the soul that is earnestly looking after Jesus Christ. First. Dreadful accusations from Satan. Second. Grievous defiling and infectious thoughts. Third. A strange readiness in our nature to fall in with both.
First. By the first of these, the heart is made continually to tremble. Hence his temptations are compared to the roaring of a lion, for as the lion by roaring killeth the heart of his prey, so doth Satan kill the spirit of these that hearken to him (1 Peter 5:8); for when he tempteth, especially by way of accusation, he doth to us as Rabshakeh did to the Jews; he speaks to us in our own language; he speaks our sin at every word, our guilty conscience knows it; he speaks our death at every word, our doubting conscience feels it.
Second. Besides this, there doth now arise, even in the heart, such defiling and foul infectious thoughts that putteth the tempted to their wits' end; for now it seems to the soul that the very flood-gates of the flesh are opened, and that to sin there is no stop at all; now the air seems to be covered with darkness, and the man is as if he was changed into the nature of a devil; now if ignorance and unbelief prevail, he concludeth that he is a reprobate, made to be taken and destroyed.
Third. Now also he feeleth in him a readiness to fall in with every temptation; a readiness, I say, continually present (Rom 7:21). This throws all down. Now despair begins to swallow him up; now he can neither pray, nor read, nor hear, nor meditate on God, but fire and smoke continually bursteth forth of the heart against him. Now sin and great confusion puts forth itself in all; yea, the more the sinner desireth to do a duty sincerely, the further off it always find itself; for by how much the soul struggleth under these distresses, by so much the more doth Satan put forth himself to resist, still infusing more poison, that if possible it might never struggle more, for strugglings are also as poison to Satan. The fly in the spider's web is an emblem of the soul in such a condition—the fly is entangled in the web; at this the spider shows himself; if the fly stir again, down comes the spider to her, and claps a foot upon her; if yet the fly makes a noise, then with poisoned mouth the spider lays hold upon her; if the fly struggle still, then he poisons her more and more. What shall the fly do now? Why, she dies, if somebody does not quickly release her. This is the case of the tempted; they are entangled in the web, their feet and wings are entangled; now Satan shows himself; if the soul now struggleth, Satan laboureth to hold it down; if it now shall make a noise, then he bites with blasphemous mouth, more poisonous than the gall of a serpent; if it struggle again, then he poisoneth more and more, insomuch that it needs, at last, must die in the net, if the man, the lord Jesus, help not out.
The afflicted conscience understands my words.
Further, though the fly in the web is altogether incapable of looking for relief, yet this awakened, tempted Christian is not. What must he do therefore? How should he contain hopes of life? If he look to his heart, there is blasphemy; if he look to his duties, there is sin; if he strive to mourn and lament, perhaps he cannot; unbelief and hardness hinder. Shall this man lie down and despair? No. Shall he trust to his duties? No. Shall he stay from Christ till his heart is better? No. What then? Let him NOW look to Jesus Christ crucified, then shall he see his sins answered for, then shall he see death a-dying, then shall he see guilt borne by another, and there shall he see the devil overcome. This sight destroys the power of the first temptation, purifies the heart, and inclines the mind to all good things.
And to encourage thee, tempted creature, to this most gospel duty, consider that when Jesus Christ read his commission upon the entering into his ministry, he proclaimed, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord' (Luke 4:18,19).
These things therefore should the tempted believe; but believing is now sweating work; for Satan will hold as long as possible, and only steadfast faith can make him fly. But O, the toil of a truly gracious heart in this combat! If faith be weak, he can scarce get higher than his knees; Lord, help! Lord, save! and then down again, till an arm from heaven takes him up, until Jesus Christ be evidently set forth crucified for him, and cursed for his sin; for then, and not till then, the temptation rightly ceaseth, at leastwise for a season. Now the soul can tend to look about it, and thus consider with itself: if Christ hath borne my sin and curse, then it is taken away from me; and seeing thus to take away sin was the contrivance of the God of heaven, I will bless his name, hope in his mercy, and look upon death and hell with comfort. 'Thine heart shall meditate terror,' thou shalt see the land that is very far off (Isa 33:16-18).
THE FIFTH USE.
[FIFTH.] this doctrine makes Christ precious to the believers—'Unto you therefore which believe, he is precious' (1 Peter 2:7).
This head might be greatly enlarged upon, and branched out into a thousand particulars, and each one full of weight and glory. 1. By considering what sin is. 2. By considering what hell is. 3. By considering what wrath is. 4. By considering what eternity is. 5. By considering what the loss of a soul is. 6. What the loss of God is. 7. What the loss of heaven is. 8. And what it is to be in utter darkness with devils and damned souls for ever and ever. And after all to conclude, from all the miseries the Lord Jesus delivered me.
Further, this makes Christ precious, if I consider, in the next place,
1. How he did deliver me; it was with his life, his blood; it cost him tears, groans, agony, separation from God; to do it he endured his Father's wrath, bore his Father's curse, and died thousands of deaths at once.
2. He did this while I was his enemy, without my desires, without my knowledge, without my deserts; he did it unawares to me.
3. He did it freely, cheerfully, yea, he longed to die for me; yea, heaven would not hold him for the love he had to my salvation, which also he hath effectually accomplished for me at Jerusalem. Honourable Jesus! precious Jesus! loving Jesus! Jonathan's kindness captivated David, and made him precious in his eyes for ever. 'I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan,' said he; 'very pleasant hast thou been unto me; thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women' (2 Sam 1:26). Why, what had Jonathan done? O, he had delivered David from the wrath of Saul. But how much more should he be precious to me who hath saved me from death and hell! who hath delivered me from the wrath of God! 'The love of Christ constraineth us.' Nothing will so edge the spirit of a Christian as, 'Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood.' This makes the heavens themselves ring with joy and shouting. Mark the words, 'Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.' What follows now? 'And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne, and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, 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 the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever' (Rev 5:9-14).
Thus also is the song, that new song that is said to be sung by the hundred forty and four thousand which stand with the Lamb upon Mount Sion, with his Father's name written in their foreheads. These are also called harpers, harping with their harps: 'And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth' (Rev 14:1-3).
But why could they not learn that song? Because they were not redeemed: none can sing of this song but the redeemed; they can give glory to the Lamb, the Lamb that was slain, and that redeemed them to God by his blood. It is faith in his blood on earth that will make us sing this song in heaven. These shoutings and heavenly songs must needs come from love put into a flame by the sufferings of Christ.
THE LAST USE.
If all these things be true, what follows but a demonstration of the accursed condition of those among the religious in these nations whose notions put them far off from Jesus, and from venturing their souls upon his bloody death? I have observed such a spirit as this in the world that careth not for knowing of Jesus; the possessed therewith do think that it is not material to salvation to venture upon a crucified Christ, neither do they trouble their heads or hearts with inquiring whether Christ Jesus be risen and ascended into heaven, or whether they see him again or no, but rather are for concluding that there will be no such thing: these men speak not by the Holly Ghost, for in the sum they call Jesus accursed; but I doubt not to say that many of them are anathematized of God, and shall stand so, till the coming of the Lord Jesus, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1. In this quotation, Bunyan has followed the Genevan or Puritan version. It was a favourite version with our pilgrim forefathers, and is in many texts more faithful than our authorized translation; but, in this passage, our present version is more literal. The same Hebrew word, to 'break' or 'bruise,' is used as to Satan's head and the Saviour's heel.—Ed.
2. Genevan or Puritan version.—Ed.
3. 'Common' means public. 'Not doing nor dying in a private capacity, but in the room and stead of sinners.'—Ed.
4. It was common with the Reformers and Puritans, when condemning the absurdities of Aquinas and the schoolmen, to call it 'Dunsish sophistry,' from one of the chief of these writers named Duns, usually called, from the place of his birth, Duns Scotus.—Ed.
5. The apostle evidently means by 'Christ made sin for us,' that he was made an offering or sacrifice for our sins. He was made sin who knew no sin. Our sins were laid upon him; he bore them away in his own body on the tree. The clean animals sacrificed by the patriarchs, and under the law, were types of this great sacrifice of Christ.—Ed.
6. 'I hid myself when I for flies do wait, So doth the devil when he lays his bait; If I do fear the losing of my prey, I stir me, and more snares upon her lay, This way and that her wings and legs I tie, That sure as she is caught, so she must die.'—Bunyan's Divine Emblems, No. XVIII. 'Dialogue between a spider and a sinner.'
7. Here is faithful dealing! This is a most solemn and awful appeal to the consciences of those who, forsaking the fountain of salvation, venture to build their hopes of pardon upon some other foundation than Jesus Christ, the Rock of Ages. They seek refuge in lies, which, at the great and trying day, will be fearfully and swiftly swept away, leaving them, with all their guilt upon their heads, to suffer under the curse. Reader, do not indulge in vain imaginations as to whether any sect is here alluded to; Bunyan's appeal is to persons—to you and me. If WE, either by secret or open sins, or by carelessness of eternal realities, or by departing from a simple and entire reliance by faith in the work and merits of Christ—we trample under foot the blood of the covenant, there is nothing left us but a fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation to devour us. May we appeal to our God, Lord, is it I? Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. O lead me in the way everlasting.—Ed
A TREATISE OF THE FEAR OF GOD;
WHAT IT IS, AND HOW DISTINGUISHED FROM THAT WHICH IS NOT SO.
ALSO, WHENCE IT COMES; WHO HAS IT; WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS; AND WHAT THE PRIVILEGES OF THOSE THAT HAVE IT IN THEIR HEARTS.
London: Printed for N. Ponder, at the Peacock in the Poultry, over against the Stocks market: 1679.
ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," and "a fountain of life"—the foundation on which all wisdom rests, as well as the source from whence it emanates. Upon a principle so vastly important, all the subtle malignity of Satan has been directed, if possible to mislead the very elect; while the ungodly and impenitent fall under his devices. To the mind enlightened by Divine truth, the difference between a filial fear of offending God and the dread of punishment is very plain. Still, by the devil's sophistry, some of the most pious Christians have been puzzled and bewildered. Bunyan was not ignorant of Satan's devices, and he has roused the energies of his powerful mind, guided by Divine truth, to render this important doctrine so clear and easy to be understood, that the believer may not err.
This rare volume, first published in 1679, soon became so scarce that Chandler, Wilson, Whitefield, and others, omitted it from their editions of Bunyan's works. At length it appeared in the more complete collection by Ryland and Mason, about 1780. Since then, it has been reprinted, somewhat modernized, by the Tract Society, from an original copy, discovered by that ardent lover of Bunyan, the Rev. Joseph Belcher. Of this edition, four thousand copies have been printed.
The great line of distinction that Bunyan draws is between that terror and dread of God, as the infinitely Holy One, before whom all sin must incur the intensity of punishment; and the love of God, as the Father of mercies, and fountain of blessedness, in the gift of his Son, and a sense of adoption into his family; by the influences of which the soul fears to offend him. This fear is purely evangelical; for if the slightest dependence is placed upon any supposed good works of our own, the filial fear of God is swallowed up in dread and terror—for salvation depends upon the perfection of holiness, without which none can enter heaven, and which can only be found in Christ.
Mr. Mason, on reading this treatise, thus expressed his feelings—"When the fear of the Lord is a permanent principle, inwrought in the soul by the Divine Spirit, it is an undoubted token of election to life eternal; for the most precious promises are made to God's fearers, even the blessings of the everlasting covenant. Such are sure to be protected from every enemy; to be guided by unerring counsel; and what will crown all, to be beloved of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; till, by almighty and effectual grace, he will be translated to those mansions of glory and blessedness prepared for him, where he will sing the praises of his covenant-God while eternity endures."
May this be the blessed experience of all those who prayerfully read this important treatise.
A TREATISE ON THE FEAR OF GOD
"BLESSED IS EVERY ONE THAT FEARETH THE LORD."—PSALM 128:1
"FEAR GOD."—REVELATION 14:7
This exhortation is not only found here in the text, but is in several other places of the Scripture pressed, and that with much vehemency, upon the children of men, as in Ecclesiastes 12:13; 1 Peter 1:17, &c. I shall not trouble you with a long preamble, or forespeech to the matter, nor shall I here so much as meddle with the context, but shall immediately fall upon the words themselves, and briefly treat of the fear of God. The text, you see, presenteth us with matter of greatest moment, to wit, with God, and with the fear of him.
First they present us with God, the true and living God, maker of the worlds, and upholder of all things by the word of his power: that incomprehensible majesty, in comparison of whom all nations are less than the drop of a bucket, and than the small dust of the balance. This is he that fills heaven and earth, and is everywhere present with the children of men, beholding the evil and the good; for he hath set his eyes upon all their ways.
So that, considering that by the text we have presented to our souls the Lord God and Maker of us all, who also will be either our Saviour or Judge, we are in reason and duty bound to give the more earnest heed to the things that shall be spoken, and be the more careful to receive them, and put them in practice; for, as I said, as they present us with the mighty God, so they exhort us to the highest duty towards him; to wit, to fear him. I call it the highest duty, because it is, as I may call it, not only a duty in itself, but, as it were, the salt that seasoneth every duty. For there is no duty performed by us that can by any means be accepted of God, if it be not seasoned with godly fear. Wherefore the apostle saith, "Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear." Of this fear, I say, I would discourse at this time; but because this word fear is variously taken in the Scripture, and because it may be profitable to us to see it in its variety, I shall therefore choose this method for the managing of my discourse, even to show you the nature of the word in its several, especially of the chiefest, acceptations. FIRST. Then by this word fear we are to understand even God himself, who is the object of our fear. SECOND. By this word fear we are to understand the Word of God, the rule and director of our fear. Now to speak to this word fear, as it is thus taken.
[THIS WORD FEAR AS TAKEN FOR GOD HIMSELF.]
FIRST. Of this word "fear," AS IT RESPECTETH GOD HIMSELF, who is the object of our fear.
By this word fear, as I said, we are to understand God himself, who is the object of our fear: For the Divine majesty goeth often under this very name himself. This name Jacob called him by, when he and Laban chid together on Mount Gilead, after that Jacob had made his escape to his father's house; "Except," said he, "the God of my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac had been with me, surely thou hadst sent me away now empty." So again, a little after, when Jacob and Laban agree to make a covenant of peace each with other, though Laban, after the jumbling way of the heathen by his oath, puts the true God and the false together, yet "Jacob sware by the fear of his father Isaac" (Gen 31:42,53).
By the fear, that is, by the God of his father Isaac. And, indeed, God may well be called the fear of his people, not only because they have by his grace made him the object of their fear, but because of the dread and terrible majesty that is in him. "He is a mighty God, a great and terrible, and with God is terrible majesty" (Dan 7:28, 10:17; Neh 1:5, 4:14, 9:32; Job 37:22). Who knows the power of his anger? "The mountains quake at him, the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before his indignation? who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him" (Nahum 1:5,6). His people know him, and have his dread upon them, by virtue whereof there is begot and maintained in them that godly awe and reverence of his majesty which is agreeable to their profession of him. "Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread." Set his majesty before the eyes of your souls, and let his excellency make you afraid with godly fear (Isa 8:13).
There are these things that make God to be the fear of his people.
First. His presence is dreadful, and that not only his presence in common, but his special, yea, his most comfortable and joyous presence. When God comes to bring a soul news of mercy and salvation, even that visit, that presence of God, is fearful. When Jacob went from Beersheba towards Haran, he met with God in the way by a dream, in the which he apprehended a ladder set upon the earth, whose top reached to heaven; now in this dream, from the top of this ladder, he saw the Lord, and heard him speak unto him, not threateningly; not as having his fury come up into his face; but in the most sweet and gracious manner, saluting him with promise of goodness after promise of goodness, to the number of eight or nine; as will appear if you read the place. Yet I say, when he awoke, all the grace that discovered itself in this heavenly vision to him could not keep him from dread and fear of God's majesty. "And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not; and he was afraid and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven" (Gen 28:10-17).
At another time, to wit, when Jacob had that memorable visit from God, in which he gave him power as a prince to prevail with him; yea, and gave him a name, that by his remembering it he might call God's favour the better to his mind; yet even then and there such dread of the majesty of God was upon him, that he went away wondering that his life was preserved (Gen 32:30). Man crumbles to dust at the presence of God; yea, though he shows himself to us in his robes of salvation. We have read how dreadful and how terrible even the presence of angels have been unto men, and that when they have brought them good tidings from heaven (Judg 13:22; Matt 28:4; Mark 16:5,6). Now, if angels, which are but creatures, are, through the glory that God has put upon them, so fearful and terrible in their appearance to men, how much more dreadful and terrible must God himself be to us, who are but dust and ashes! When Daniel had the vision of his salvation sent him from heaven, for so it was, "O Daniel," said the messenger, "a man greatly beloved"; yet behold the dread and terror of the person speaking fell with that weight upon this good man's soul, that he could not stand, nor bear up under it. He stood trembling, and cries out, "O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me" (Dan 10:16-17). See you here if the presence of God is not a dreadful and a fearful thing; yea, his most gracious and merciful appearances; how much more then when he showeth himself to us as one that disliketh our ways, as one that is offended with us for our sins?
And there are three things that in an eminent manner make his presence dreadful to us.
1. The first is God's own greatness and majesty; the discovery of this, or of himself thus, even as no poor mortals are able to conceive of him, is altogether unsupportable. The man dies to whom he thus discovers himself. "And when I saw him," says John, "I fell at his feet as dead" (Rev 1:17). It was this, therefore, that Job would have avoided in the day that he would have approached unto him. "Let not thy dread," says he, "make me afraid. Then call thou, and I will answer; or let me speak, and answer thou me" (Job 13:21,22). But why doth Job after this manner thus speak to God? Why! it was from a sense that he had of the dreadful majesty of God, even the great and dreadful God that keepeth covenant with his people. The presence of a king is dreadful to the subject, yea, though he carries it never so condescendingly; if then there be so much glory and dread in the presence of the king, what fear and dread must there be, think you, in the presence of the eternal God?
2. When God giveth his presence to his people, that his presence causeth them to appear to themselves more what they are, than at other times, by all other light, they can see. "O my lord," said Daniel, "by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me"; and why was that, but because by the glory of that vision, he saw his own vileness more than at other times. So again: "I was left alone," says he, "and saw this great vision"; and what follows? Why, "and there remained no strength in me; for my comeliness was turned into corruption, and I retained no strength" (Dan 10:8,16). By the presence of God, when we have it indeed, even our best things, our comeliness, our sanctity and righteousness, all do immediately turn to corruption and polluted rags. The brightness of his glory dims them as the clear light of the shining sun puts out the glory of the fire or candle, and covers them with the shadow of death. See also the truth of this in that vision of the prophet Isaiah. "Wo is me," said he, "for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips." Why, what is the matter? how came the prophet by this sight? Why, says he, "mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isa 6:5). But do you think that this outcry was caused by unbelief? No; nor yet begotten by slavish fear. This was to him the vision of his Saviour, with whom also he had communion before (vv 2-5). It was the glory of that God with whom he had now to do, that turned, as was noted before of Daniel, his comeliness in him into corruption, and that gave him yet greater sense of the disproportion that was betwixt his God and him, and so a greater sight of his defiled and polluted nature.
3. Add to this the revelation of God's goodness, and it must needs make his presence dreadful to us; for when a poor defiled creature shall see that this great God hath, notwithstanding his greatness, goodness in his heart, and mercy to bestow upon him: this makes his presence yet the more dreadful. They "shall fear the Lord and his goodness" (Hosea 3:5). The goodness as well as the greatness of God doth beget in the heart of his elect an awful reverence of his majesty. "Fear ye not me? saith the Lord; will ye not tremble at my presence?" And then, to engage us in our soul to the duty, he adds one of his wonderful mercies to the world, for a motive, "Fear ye not me?" Why, who are thou? He answers, Even I, "which have" set, or "placed the sand for the bound of the sea by a perpetual decree, that it cannot pass it; and though the waves thereof toss themselves, yet can they not prevail; though they roar, yet can they not pass over it?" (Jer 5:22). Also, when Job had God present with him, making manifest the goodness of his great heart to him, what doth he say? how doth he behave himself in his presence? "I have heard of thee," says he, "by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5,6).
And what mean the tremblings, the tears, those breakings and shakings of heart that attend the people of God, when in an eminent manner they receive the pronunciation of the forgiveness of sins at his mouth, but that the dread of the majesty of God is in their sight mixed therewith? God must appear like himself, speak to the soul like himself; nor can the sinner, when under these glorious discoveries of his Lord and Saviour, keep out the beams of his majesty from the eyes of his understanding. "I will cleanse them," saith he, "from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me, and I will pardon all their iniquities whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me." And what then? "And they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness, and for all the prosperity that I procure unto it" (Jer 33:8,9). Alas! there is a company of poor, light, frothy professors in the world, that carry it under that which they call the presence of God, more like to antics, than sober sensible Christians; yea, more like to a fool of a play, than those that have the presence of God. They would not carry it so in the presence of a king, nor yet of the lord of their land, were they but receivers of mercy at his hand. They carry it even in their most eminent seasons, as if the sense and sight of God, and his blessed grace to their souls in Christ, had a tendency in them to make men wanton: but indeed it is the most humbling and heart-breaking sight in the world; it is fearful.
Object. But would you not have us rejoice at the sight and sense of the forgiveness of our sins?
Answ. Yes; but yet I would have you, and indeed you shall, when God shall tell you that your sins are pardoned indeed, "rejoice with trembling" (Psa 2:11). For then you have solid and godly joy; a joyful heart, and wet eyes, in this will stand very well together; and it will be so more or less. For if God shall come to you indeed, and visit you with the forgiveness of sins, that visit removeth the guilt, but increaseth the sense of thy filth, and the sense of this that God hath forgiven a filthy sinner, will make thee both rejoice and tremble. O, the blessed confusion that will then cover thy face whilst thou, even thou, so vile a wretch, shalt stand before God to receive at his hand thy pardon, and so the firstfruits of thy eternal salvation—"That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame (thy filth), when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God" (Eze 16:63). But,
Second. As the presence, so the name of God, is dreadful and fearful: wherefore his name doth rightly go under the same title, "That thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD" (Deut 28:58). The name of God, what is that, but that by which he is distinguished and known from all others? Names are to distinguish by; so man is distinguished from beasts, and angels from men; so heaven from earth, and darkness from light; especially when by the name, the nature of the thing is signified and expressed; and so it was in their original, for then names expressed the nature of the thing so named. And therefore it is that the name of God is the object of our fear, because by his name his nature is expressed: "Holy and reverend is his name" (Psa 111:9). And again, he proclaimed the name of the Lord, "The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty" (Exo 34:6,7).
Also his name, I am, Jah, Jehovah, with several others, what is by them intended but his nature, as his power, wisdom, eternity, goodness, and omnipotency, &c., might be expressed and declared. The name of God is therefore the object of a Christian's fear. David prayed to God that he would unite his heart to fear his name (Psa 86:11). Indeed, the name of God is a fearful name, and should always be reverenced by his people: yea his "name is to be feared for ever and ever," and that not only in his church, and among his saints, but even in the world and among the heathen—"So the heathen shall fear the name of the Lord, and all kings thy glory" (Psa 102:15). God tells us that his name is dreadful, and that he is pleased to see men be afraid before his name. Yea, one reason why he executeth so many judgments upon men as he doth, is that others might see and fear his name. "So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun" (Isa 59:19; Mal 2:5).
The name of a king is a name of fear—"And I am a great king, saith the Lord of hosts" (Mal 1:14). The name of master is a name of fear—"And if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord" (v 6). Yea, rightly to fear the Lord is a sign of a gracious heart. And again, "To you that fear my name," saith he, "shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings" (Mal 4:2). Yea, when Christ comes to judge the world, he will give reward to his servants the prophets, and to his saints, "and to them that fear his name, small and great" (Rev 11:18). Now, I say, since the name of God is that by which his nature is expressed, and since he naturally is so glorious and incomprehensible, his name must needs be the object of our fear, and we ought always to have a reverent awe of God upon our hearts at what time soever we think of, or hear his name, but most of all, when we ourselves do take his holy and fearful name into our mouths, especially in a religious manner, that is, in preaching, praying, or holy conference. I do not by thus saying intend as if it was lawful to make mention of his name in light and vain discourses; for we ought always to speak of it with reverence and godly fear, but I speak it to put Christians in mind that they should not in religious duties show lightness of mind, or be vain in their words when yet they are making mention of the name of the Lord—"Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Tim 2:19).
Make mention then of the name of the Lord at all times with great dread of his majesty upon our hearts, and in great soberness and truth. To do otherwise is to profane the name of the Lord, and to take his name in vain; and "the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." Yea, God saith that he will cut off the man that doth it; so jealous is he of the honour due unto his name (Exo 20:7; Lev 20:3). This therefore showeth you the dreadful state of those that lightly, vainly, lyingly, and profanely make use of the name, this fearful name of God, either by their blasphemous cursing and oaths, or by their fraudulent dealing with their neighbour; for some men have no way to prevail with their neighbour to bow under a cheat, but by calling falsely upon the name of the Lord to be witness that the wickedness is good and honest; but how these men will escape, when they shall be judged, devouring fire and everlasting burnings, for their profaning and blaspheming of the name of the Lord, becomes them betimes to consider of (Jer 14:14,15; Eze 20:39; Exo 20:7).
Third. As the presence and name of God are dreadful and fearful in the church, so is his worship and service. I say his worship, or the works of service to which we are by him enjoined while we are in this world, are dreadful and fearful things. This David conceiveth, when he saith, "But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy, and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple" (Psa 5:7). And again, saith he, "Serve the Lord with fear." To praise God is a part of his worship. But, says Moses, "Who is a God like unto thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Exo 15:11). To rejoice before him is a part of his worship; but David bids us "rejoice with trembling" (Psa 2:11). Yea, the whole of our service to God, and every part thereof, ought to be done by us with reverence and godly fear. And therefore let us, as Paul saith again, "Cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Cor 7:1; Heb 12).
1. That which makes the worship of God so fearful a thing, is, for that it is the worship of GOD: all manner of service carries more or less dread and fear along with it, according as the quality or condition of the person is to whom the worship and service is done. This is seen in the service of subjects to their princes, the service of servants to their lords, and the service of children to their parents. Divine worship, then, being due to God, for it is now of Divine worship we speak, and this God so great and dreadful in himself and name, his worship must therefore be a fearful thing.