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how large a train wouldst thou have had ! how would all the earth have rung with hosannas to the Highest! Matt. xxi. 9. But now, that thou wouldst come as the Son of man, in the homeliest condition of birth, education, life, and death; not having so much as a house wherein to put thy head, or a grave wherein to lay thy dead body; now that thou wouldst suffer thyself to be spat upon, scourged, crucified, reviled; that the stubborn hearts of men should be so convinced by the truth and power of thy Deity, that thou art believed on in the world, is the “ great mystery of godliness.
The powers of darkness could not but see their kingdom shaken by thy coming down to the earth, upon this errand of thy mediation. How busy and violent, therefore, were those gates of hell, in opposing so glorious a work! How did they stir up cruel tyrants in the first dawning of thy gospel, furiously to persecute this way unto death! What exquisite torments of all kinds did they devise for the innocent professors of thy name! How drunken was the earth with the blood of thy martyrs in all parts! And when they saw how little force could prevail, (since this palm-tree grew the more by depression,) how did they set their wits on work, in attempting, by fraud, to bring about their cursed designs! How cunningly did they go about to undermine that wall which they could not batter! Now, whole troops of the most skilful engineers of hell are sent up by accursed heresies, to blow up
and overthrow that truth, which they could not beat down. One while thy eternal Deity, another while thy sacred humanity, is impugned by those, who yet style themselves Christians. One while either of thy natures, another while thy entire person, is laid at by those who profess themselves thy friends and clients. One while thine offices, another while thy Scriptures, are opposed by those who yet would seem thine; and though their insinuations have been so craftily carried, and their colours so well laid, that no small part of the world hath been for the time beguiled by them, and drawn into a plausible misbelief; yet still, great hath the truth ever been, and ever prevailed, happily triumphing over those accursed heresies that have dared to lift up their head against her, and chasing them into their hell; so as, in spite of men and devils, the “great mystery of godliness” is gloriously vindicated, and God, manifested in weak flesh, is believed on in the world.
XIII. The world is not all of one making, there is a world of creatures not capable of belief; there is a world of men that lieth in wickedness, 1 John v. 19, refusing to believe; there is a world of faithful souls that do believe, and in believing are saved. And oh, blessed Saviour, that thou wouldst graciously enlarge this world of believers! Woe is me, what a world of this world of men lies still under the condemned estate of unbelief! Alas, for those poor savage Indians, that know nothing of a God! who out of their fear and tyrannical superstition, worship devils, that they may not hurt them; for those ignorant and woefully blindfolded Mahometans, who are not allowed to see any more than one blink of thee, as a great prophet, being taught to blaspheme thy Deity, and to enslave their faith to a wretched impostor ; for those obstinate Jews, who are wilfully blind, and will not see the light of that truth concerning thee, their Messiah, which shineth forth clearly to them in the writings of the prophets, in the undeniable accomplishment of all former predictions, in the wonderful convictions of miraculous works! What Christian is there whose bowels do not yearn, whose heart doth not bleed, at the thought of so many millions of miserable unbelievers! O thou, the God of infinite mercy and compassion, in whose hands are all the hearts of the sons of men, look graciously from heaven upon the dark souls of these poor infidels, and enlighten them with the saving knowledge of the great mystery of godliness. Let the beams of thy gospel break forth unto them, and work them to a sound belief in thee, their God, manifested in the flesh. Fetch home into thy fold all those that belong to thy merciful election ; bring in the fulness of the Gentiles, Rom. xi. ; gather together the outcasts of Israel, Psa. cxlvii. 2; and glorify thyself in completing a world of believers. And for us on whom the ends of the world are come, as we have been graciously called to the comfortable notice of this mystery of godliness, and have professed and vowed a stedfast belief in thy name ; so keep us by thy good Spirit in a holy and constant professing of all those main truths concerning thy sacred person, natures, and offices, unto our last end. For thou seest, O blessed Jesus, that there is now such a hell of the spirits of error broken loose into the world, as if they meant to evacuate this part of the mystery of godliness — Christ “ believed on in the world." o do thou, by thy mighty power, restrain and quell these pernicious
heresies, and send down these wicked spirits back to their chains ; so that our most holy faith may ever remain inviolable till the day of thy glorious return. Neither let us sit down contented that we hold fast and believe the mere history of thy life, death, and resurrection; (without which, as we cannot be saved, so with it alone we cannot ;) but do thou, by thy good Spirit, work and settle in our souls a sound, lively, operative, justifying faith in thee; whereby we may not only believe on thee as a common Saviour, but believe in thee as ours; bringing thee home to our hearts, and confidently relying upon thee for the acquittance of all our sins, and for our eternal salvation. Oh that thou mightest be thus believed on in the world, and if not by them in the notion of their universality, yet by us who profess thy name, to thy great glory and our everlasting comfort.
XIV. In these occurrences on the earth, great is the mystery of godliness; but the highest pitch of this great mystery, O Saviour, is, that thou, thus manifested in our flesh, wert “received up into glory;" even that celestial glory which thou enjoyest in the highest heavens, sitting on the right hand of Majesty, seen and adored by all that blessed company of the souls of just men made perfect, and the innumerable troops of glorious angels, Heb. xii. 22, 23. If some erroneous. fancies have placed their heaven here below upon earth, ours is above, and so is thine, O blessed Jesus, who wert taken up into glory. Thou couldst not be taken up to any earthly ascent, since thou tookest thy farewell on the top of Mount Olivet: but from this globe of earth thou ascendedst through
the skies to that empyreal heaven, where thou remainest in glory infinite and incomprehensible. The many and attentive beholders of thy last parting, did not cast their eyes down into the valley, neither did see cause, with the fifty sons of the prophets, to seek for thee (as they would needs do for Elijah) in valleys and mountains, 2 Kings ii. 16; they saw and worshipped thee, leisurely ascending up through the region of this lower heaven, till a cloud intercepted thee from their sight; neither then could easily be taken off, either by the interposition of that dark body, or by the summons of angels. And now, o blessed Saviour, how is my soul ravished with the meditation of thy glorious reception into thine heaven! Surely, if the inhabitants of those celestial mansions may be capable of any increase of joy, they then both found and showed it, when they saw and welcomed thee entering, in thy glorified humanity, into that thy eternal palace of blessedness; and if there could be any higher or sweeter song of hallelujah, it was then sung by the choir of angels and saints. And may thy poor servants, warfaring and wandering here upon earth, even second them in those heavenly songs of praises and gratulations ! For wherein stands all our safety, hope, comfort, happiness, but in this, that thou, our Jesus, art received up into glory, and, having, conquered all diverse powers, sittest on the right hand of God the Father, crowned with honour and majesty ! O Jesus, thou art our Head, we are thy body. How can the body but participate in the glory of the Head? As for thyself, therefore, so for us, art thou possessed of that heavenly glory: as thou sufferedst for us, so for