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it was said of Aaron, who was a type of the second Adam, and of that holy oil, representing the graces of his Spirit, "which" did not only run down his head and beard, but the skirts of his garment also, and all his rich attire about." So when I see the oil of Christ's graces and Spirit not only rest upon the head, but also descend and run down upon the lowest of his members; making me now, as one of them, in some sort another man than I was, or my natural state could make me; by the same spirit I know I am united unto Christ. To this purpose is that which Christ so stands upon unto the Jews; where speaking of the "eatingh of his flesh, and that bread of life which came down from heaven," lest they should be mistaken, he adds: "It is the spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life:" so that we see it is the spirit that gives a being to a thing. And therefore the apostle proceeds to show, "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." That as Christ is the true natural Son of God, so we as truly, by conveyance of the same Spirit into us, are his sons by adoption, and so heirs with God, yea, and joint heirs with Christ; this he begins to show, verse 13. So that being in this excellent estate, they were not only servants and friends, a most high prerogative, but they were now the sons of God, having the spirit of adoption, whereby they might boldly call God, Father. In which verse the apostle opposeth the spirit of bondage, which doth make a man fear again, unto the spirit of adoption, which frees a man from fear.
Now two things may be observed hence: 1. The order the Spirit of God keeps e'er it comforts; it shakes, and makes us fear. This the apostle speaks in Hebrews where he shows, that the end of Christ's coming was, "that' because the children were partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself took part of the same; that through death, he might destroy
Psalm 133. ver. 2. i Rom. chap. 8. ver. 13.
John, chap. 6.
Heb. chap. 2. ver. 14.
him that had the power of death; that is, the Devil: and deliver them, who through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject unto bondage." The first work then of the Comforter is, to put a man in fear. 2. Here is showed, that until the Spirit doth work this fear, the heart will not stoop. The obstinacy is great; yea, so great, that if hell gates were open, ready to swallow up a man, he would not yield until the Spirit set in to convince the heart. Therefore St. John tells us, that "when the Spirit is come, he will reprove the world of sin;" that is, he will convince and show a man that he is but a bondman: and so from this sight he makes us to fear. No man must think this strange, that God deals with men at first after this harsh manner; to kill them, as it were, before he make them alive nor be discouraged, as if God had now cast them off as none of his for this bondage and spirit of fear is a work of God's Spirit, and a preparative to the rest, yet it is but a common work of the Spirit; and such a one, that unless more follow, it can afford us no comfort.
But why then doth God suffer his children to be first terrified with his fear?
I answer, that in two respects this is the best and wisest course to deal with us; or else many would put off the matter, and never attain a sense of
First, in respect of God's glory.
First in respect of God's glory; and that first because, as in the work of creation, so in the work of redemption, God will have the praise of all his attributes: for as in the work of creation there appeared the infinite wisdom, goodness, power, justice, mercy of God, and the like; so will he in the work of our redemption have all these appear in their strength and brightness: and when we see and acknowledge these things to be in God in the highest perfection, hereby we honour him; as on the contrary, when we will not see and acknowledge the excellency of
God's infinite attributes, we dishonour him: yea, and I may safely add, that the work of redemption was a greater work than the work of creation; for therein appeared all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in the conveying of it unto the Church. Herein appeared first, infinite wisdom, in ordering the matter so as to find out such a way for the redemption of mankind, as no created understanding could possibly imagine or think of. And secondly, for the mercy of God; there could be none comparable to this, in not sparing his own Son, the Son of his love, that so he might spare us who had so grievously provoked him. And thirdly, there could not be so much justice seen in any thing as in sparing us not to spare his Son, in laying his Son's head, as it were, upon the block, and chopping it off: indeed the death unto which he gave his Son, was not only more vile than the loss of his head, but far more painful and terrible to nature, the death on the cross; in rending and tearing that blessed body of his; even as the veil of the temple was rent, which was a type of him, so was he rent and tore, and broke for us, when he made his soul an offering for sin. This was the perfection of justice. And thus was he just, as the apostle speaks, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus. God would have justice and mercy meet and kiss each other; and that for two reasons, for the magnifying of his justice, and the magnifying of his mercy.
First, for the magnifying of his justice. The spirit must first become a spirit of bondage and fear for the magnifying of God's justice: thus the prophet David having sinned, was driven to this practice: "Against" thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight, that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest." Thus he, a holy man, was brought to confess his sin, to give God the glory of his justice. And so to this end, that a man might pass through or by, as it were, the gates of hell unto heaven, the Lord will have his justice extended to the full; for
n Psalm 51. ver. 4.
• 2 Kings, chap. 4.
4 Isaiah, chap. 66. ver. 2.
which cause lessening, or altogether, for a time, abstracting all sight of mercy, he turns the law loose to have its course. And thus, as in the work of redemption, he would have the height of justice appear; so would he have it appear in the application of our redemption, that justice should not be swallowed up of mercy. But even as that woman, "who had nothing to pay, was threatened by her creditors to take away her two sons, to put them in prison." So though we have nothing to pay, the law is let loose upon us, to threaten imprisonment and damnation, to affright and terrify us and all for the magnifying of God's justice, which also we satisfy not by what we suffer, yet it is meet we should acknowledge and learn thereby more highly to value the suffering of our Saviour. But farther, God hath set forth many terrible threatenings in his word against sinners; shall all these be to no purpose? The wicked, they are insensible of them; must they therefore be in vain? Some people there must be, on whom they shall work: "Shall a lion roar," saith the prophet," and we not be afraid?" Since then those who should, will not, some there be who must tremble, and those even of God's own dear children. This the prophet excellently sets forth, in Isaiah, where the Lord showeth who he will regard: "Buta to this man will I look, even to him that is of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." So that you see, even some of his own must tremble, and be thus humbled of necessity and that it is not without a just cause, that God doth deal with his own children after this manner, though it be sharp in the experience. We must fear, tremble and be humbled, and then we shall receive a spirit not to fear again. That vain courage which some brag they have, so as not to fear death, is not it which is meant here; for alas such braggers, out of ignorance of the thing, and desire to be out of misery in this life, may embrace death unwillingly, hoping it may put an end to their sorrows. But this spirit, not to fear again, is such
P Amos, chap. 3. ver. 8.
a spirit that assures me of the forgiveness of all my sins, showing me my freedom by Christ Jesus from hell and eternal damnation; making me live a holy life, and from hence not to fear, and so sealing me up unto the day of redemption; as you shall hear more, when we come to speak of the witness of the Spirit. This now is for the glory of God's justice.
Secondly, it is requisite that the Comforter should first work in men a fear, for the glory of God's mercy; which would never be so sweet, relish so well, nor be so highly esteemed of by us, if the awful terror of justice had not formerly made us smart: as we may see in that parable (whereunto our Saviour likeneth the kingdom of heaven) of the man that owed ten thousand talents unto the king his master; he shows him mercy, and forgives him all ; but what did he first? Why first he requires the whole debt of him; and because he had nothing to pay, he commands him, his wife and children, and all that he had to be sold, that payment might he made; first he would have him pinched throughly, that he might know how much he was indebted, and, in that case, how great that favour was which he received in having all that he owed forgiven him. Thus a king many times casts men into prison, suffers the sentence of condemnation to pass on them, and perhaps orders them to be brought to the place of execution, before he pardons them, and then mercy is mercy indeed, and so God deals with us many times, he puts his children in fear; shows them how much they owe him, how unable they are to pay, casts them into prison and threatens condemnation in hell for ever, after which when mercy comes to the soul, then it appears to be wonderful mercy indeed, even the riches of exceeding mercy. Why do so many find no savour in the Gospel? Is it because there is no sweetness, or matter of delight in it? No, it is because such have had no taste of the law, and of the spirit of bondage, they have not smarted, nor found a sense of the bitterness of sin, nor of that just punishment that is due unto the same. Even as the king will suffer the law to pass on some grievous malefactor for high treason, bring him to