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Home Spiritual Disciplines Communion with God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. By John Owen, D.D.— ( A Review by J C

Communion with God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. By John Owen, D.D.— ( A Review by J C

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 Communion with God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.

By John Owen, D.D.—

( A Review by J C Philpot March, 1858.)

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As no heart can sufficiently conceive, so no tongue can adequately express, the state of wretchedness and ruin into which sin has cast guilty, miserable man. In separating him from God, it has severed him from the only Source and fountain of all happiness and all holiness. It has ruined him, body and soul. The one it has filled with sickness and disease; in the other it has defaced and destroyed the image of God in which it was created. It has shattered all his mental faculties; it has broken his judgment, polluted his imagination, and alienated his affections.

 

It has made him love sin, and hate God; it has filled him from top to toe with pride, lust, and cruelty, and has been the fruitful parent of all those crimes and abominations under which earth groans, and the bare recital of some of which, reaching our ears from "India's coral strand," has filled so many hearts with disgust and horror. These are the more visible fruits of the fall. But nearer home, in our own hearts, in what we are or have been, we find and feel what wreck and ruin sin has made. There can be no greater mark of alienation from God than wilfully and deliberately to seek pleasure and delight in things which his holiness abhors.

 

 But who of the family of God has not been guilty here? Every movement and inclination of our natural mind, every desire and lust of our carnal heart, was, in times past, to find pleasure and gratification in something abhorrent to the will and word of the living Jehovah. There are few of us who, in the eye of our flesh, have not sought pleasure in some of its varied but deceptive forms. The theatre, the race-course, the dance, the sports of the field, the card-table, the midnight

revel, or the stolen waters of sin were resorted to by some of us to afford what

the Apostle calls "the pleasures of sin for a season." Our mad, feverish, thirst

after excitement; the continued cry of our wicked flesh, "Give, give!" our

miserable recklessness or headlong, daring determination to enjoy ourselves,

as we called it, cost what it would, plunged us again and again into the sea of

sin, where, but for sovereign grace, we should have sunk to rise no more. Or,

if the restraints of morality put their check upon gross and sinful pleasures,

there still was a seeking after such allowable, as we deemed them amusements,

as change of scene and place, foreign travel, the reading of novels and works

of fiction, dress, visiting, building up airy castles of love and romance,

studying how to obtain human applause, devising plans of self-advancement

and self-gratification, occupying the mind with cherished studies, and

delighting ourselves in those pursuits for which we had a natural taste, as

music, drawing, poetry, or, it might be, severer studies and scientific

researches.

 

We have named these middle-class pursuits as less obvious sins than such gross crimes as drunkenness and vile debauchery in the lower walks

of life; but, viewed with a spiritual eye, all are equally stamped with the same

fatal brand of death in sin. The moral and the immoral, the refined and the

unrefined, the polished few or the rude many, are alike "without God and

without hope in the world," until renewed in the spirit of their mind. We are

often met with this question, "What harm is there in this pursuit or in that

amusement?" "Is God there?" should be the answer. The harm is, that the

amusement is delighted in for its own sake; that it occupies the mind, and fills

the thoughts, shutting God out; that it renders spiritual things distasteful; that

it sets up an idol in the heart, and is made a substitute for God. Now this we

never really know nor feel till divine light illuminates the mind, and divine life

quickens the soul. We then begin to see and feel into what a miserable state sin

has cast us; how all our life long we have done nothing but what God abhors;

that every imagination of the thoughts of our hearts has been evil, and only

evil continually; that we have brought ourselves under the stroke of God's

justice, under the curse of his righteous law, and now there appears nothing

but death and destruction before our eyes.

And yet, with all this misery and wretchedness, through all this remorse for

the past and dread for the future, there are raised up desires after God—the

fruit and work of his grace in the heart. These are the first breathings after

communion with God, the first movement of the soul quickened from above

towards its Father and Friend.

But whence comes this movement of the soul upward and heavenward? What

is the foundation on which a sinner may venture nigh, yea, as brought near,

may realise what holy John speaks of, "And truly our fellowship is with the

Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ?" (1 John 1:3 .)

 

God himself has laid the foundation in the gift of his dear Son. Had Jesus not

taken our nature into union with his own divine Person, there never could

have been any communion of man with God. This is beautifully unfolded by

the Apostle. (Heb. 2 .) "Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh

and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same, that, through death,

he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and

deliver them who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to

bondage." "The children whom God had given him" were partakers of flesh

and blood. But this flesh and blood had sinned, was become alienated from

God, was tyrannised over by the devil, was subject to death, and the judgment

that cometh after death, and the fear of death held them in continual bondage.

Unless these poor bondslaves of sin, Satan, and death were redeemed, they

could not be reconciled to God, or brought near so as to have any fellowship

or communion with him. But the Son of God "took on him the seed of

Abraham," that is, he assumed human nature as derived from Abraham; for

the Virgin Mary, of whose flesh he took, was lineally descended from

Abraham; and thus was "made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem

them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."

And so "in all things being made like unto his brethren," (sin only excepted,

of which he had no taint or stain,) "he became a merciful and faithful high

priest to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Without this

redemption, without this reconciliation, there could be no communion.

Communion means fellowship; fellowship implies mutual participation and

mutual interest. It is not single, but twofold—a community of nature, or

interest, or affection, in which each party gives and takes. Thus the foundation

of all communion with God is laid in this blessed truth, that the Son of God

has taken our flesh; this gives him communion with man. He is himself God;

this gives him communion with God. In the ladder that Jacob saw in vision,

the lowest part rested on earth, the highest was lost in heaven. Thus the

human nature of Christ touches earth with its sorrows, but his divine rises up

to heaven with its glory; and man, poor, wretched man, may, by having

communion with Christ in his sufferings, have communion with God in his

love. John blessedly opens up this in his first epistle: "That which was from

the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which

we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life." (1

John 1:1 .) What had John heard from the beginning? What had he seen with

his eyes? What had he looked upon, and his hands had handled of the Word

of life? What but the Son of God in the flesh? His ears had heard the voice; his

eyes had seen the form; his hands had handled the feet and hands of the Word

of life; and not merely bodily, for that would no more have given him life than

it did the Jewish officers who bound his hands, or the Roman soldiers who

nailed him to the cross. It was the spiritual manifestation of the Word of Life

to his soul, (as he himself declares: "For the life was manifested, and we have

seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life which was with

the Father, and was manifested unto us,") which enabled him to say, "That

which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you, that ye also may have

fellowship with us, and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his

Son Jesus Christ." (1 John 1:3 .) Now, as this divine way is opened up to our

hearts, we begin to find access to God through Jesus Christ, as "the way, the

truth, and the life." Until he is in some measure revealed and made known to

the soul, there is no ground of access to God. Sin, guilt, and condemnation

block up the path; the law curses, conscience condemns, Satan accuses, and in

self there is neither help nor hope. But as Christ is revealed and made known,

and the virtue and efficacy of his blood is seen and felt, faith becomes

strengthened to approach the Father through him, until after many a struggle

between hope and despair, the love of God is shed abroad in the heart, and

this gives fellowship with God.

 

Dr. Owen in the work before us, has penetrated into the depths of this divine

subject, as few but himself could have done. He has shown, with his usual

clearness, the foundation on which all communion with God is based; and he

has in a very sweet and experimental manner, unfolded the fruits that spring

out of it, in the heart and life of a child of God.

 

As God exists in a Trinity of Persons and a Unity of Essence, the Doctor has

divided his work into three leading branches, and has unfolded in the first,

communion with the Father, in the second, communion with the Son, and in

the third, communion with the Holy Ghost. As it is, like most of Owen's, a

very deep and elaborate treatise, sounding the depths and ascending to the

heights of communion with a Three-One God, we can hardly give a sufficient

idea of the work from a few detached extracts. Yet the following passages,

taken from different parts of the work, will serve to show the spiritual and

experimental manner in which he has handled his heavenly subject:

There are three things in general, wherein this personal excellency and grace

of the Lord Jesus Christ doth consist.

 

1. His fitness to save. The uniting of the natures of God and man in one person

made him fit to be a Saviour to the uttermost. He lays his hand upon God by

partaking of his nature; (Zech. 13:7 ;) and he lays his hand upon us by being

partaker of our nature; (Heb. 2:14-16 ;) and so becomes a daysman or umpire

between both. By this means he fills up all the distance that was made by sin

between God and us, and we who are far off are made nigh in him. Upon this

account it was, that he had room enough in his breast to receive, and power

enough in his spirit to bear all the wrath that was prepared for us. This

ariseth from his union of the two natures of God and man in one person;

(John 1:14 ; Isa. 9:6 ; Rom. 1:3-5 ;) the necessary consequences whereof are: 1.

The subsistence of human nature in the person of the Son of God, having no

subsistence of its own. (Luke 1:35 ; 1 Tim. 3:16 .) 2. That communication of

attributes in the person whereby the properties of either nature are

promiscuously spoken of the person of Christ, whether as God or man. (Acts

20:28; 3:28.) 3. The execution of his office of mediation in his single person, in

respect of both natures, wherein is to be considered the agent, Christ himself,

God and man; he is the principle that gives life and efficacy to the whole

work, that which operates, which is both natures distinctly considered; the

effectual working itself of each nature. And lastly, the effect produced, which

ariseth from all, and relates to them all; so resolving the excellency I speak of

into his personal union.

 

2. His fulness to save,from the effects of his union which are free, and

consequences of it, which is all the furniture that he received from the Father

by the union of the Spirit for the work of our salvation. "He is able to save

unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him;" (Heb. 7:25 ;) having all

fulness unto this end communicated unto him; "for it pleased the Father that

in him all fulness should dwell." (Col. 1:19 .) And he received not the Spirit by

measure; (John 3:34 ;) and from this fulness he makes out a suitable supply

unto all that are his, grace for grace; (John 1:16 ;) had it been given him by

measure, we had exhausted it.

 

3. His excellency to endear, from his complete suitableness to all the wants of

the souls of men. There is no man whatever that hath any want in reference

unto the things of God, but Christ will be unto him that which he wants. I

speak of those who are given him of the Father. Is he dead? Christ is life. Is he

weak? Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Hath he the sense

of guilt upon him? Christ is complete righteousness, "the Lord our

Righteousness." Many poor creatures are sensible of their wants, but know

not where their remedy lies. Indeed, whether it be life or light, power or joy,

all is wrapped up in him.

 

There are two things that complete this self-resignation of the soul.

 

1. The loving of Christ for his excellency, grace, and suitableness, preferring

him in the judgment and mind above all other beloveds. In Cant. 5:9, 10, the

spouse, being earnestly pressed by professors at large to give in her thoughts

concerning the excellency of her beloved in comparison of other endearments,

answereth expressly that he is the "chiefest of ten thousand, yea, (verse 16),

altogether lovely," infinitely beyond comparison with the choicest created

good or endearment imaginable. The soul takes a view of all that is in the

world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, and sees it

all to be vanity—that the world passeth away, and the lust thereof. (1 John

2:16, 17.) These beloveds are no way to be compared unto him. It views also

legal righteousness, blamelessness before men, uprightness of conversation,

and concludes of all, as Paul doth, "Doubtless I count all these things loss for

the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." (Phil. 3:8 .) So also

doth the church (Hos. 14:3, 4) reject all assistances, that God alone may be

preferred. And this is the soul's entrance into conjugal communion with Jesus

Christ, as to personal grace, the constant preferring him above all pretenders

to its affections, counting all loss and dung in comparison of him. Beloved

learning, beloved righteousness, beloved duties, all loss compared with Christ.

 

2. The accepting of Christ by the willas its only husband, Lord, and Saviour.

This is called receiving of Christ, (John 1:12 ) and is not intended only for that

solemn act whereby at first entrance we close with him, but also for the

constant frame of the soul in abiding with him, and owning him as such.

When the soul consents to take Christ on his own terms, to be saved by him in

his own way, (Rom. 9:31 , 32;. 10:3, 4,) and says, "Lord, once I would have had

thee and salvation in my way, that it might have been partly of mine

endeavours, and as it were by works of the law; but I am now willing to

receive thee, and to be saved in thy way, merely by grace; and though I would

have walked according to my own mind, yet now I wholly give up myself to be

ruled by thy Spirit, for in thee have I righteousness and strength, (Isa. 45:24 ,)

in thee am I justified and do glory;" then doth it carry on communion with

Christ as to the grace of his person. This is to receive the Lord Jesus in his

comeliness and eminency. This is choice communion with the Son Jesus

Christ. Let us receive him in all his excellences, as he bestows himself upon us.

I shall choose out one particular from among many, for the proof of this

thing; and that is, Christ reveals the secrets of his mind unto his saints, and

enables them to reveal the secrets of their hearts to him—an evident

demonstration of great delight. It is only a bosom friend unto whom we will

unbosom ourselves.

 

There is no greater evidence of delight in close communion than this, that one will reveal his heart unto him whom he takes into society, and not entertain him with things common and vulgarly known. And therefore have I chosen this instance from amongst a thousand that might be given of this delight of Christ in his saints. He communicates his mind unto his saints and unto them only; his mind, the counsel of his love, the thoughts of his heart, the purposes of his bosom for our eternal good. His mind, the ways of his grace, the workings of his Spirit, the rule of his sceptre, and the obedience of his gospel—all is spiritual revelation of Christ. "He is the true light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world." (John 1:9 .) He is the dayspring, the day-star, and the sun. So that it is impossible any light should be but by him, "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; and he shows them his covenant," (Psa. 25:14 ,) as he expresses it at large, John 15:14,15 .

 

Now the things which in this communion Christ reveals to them that he

delights in may be referred to these two heads: Himself; His Kingdom.

Christ reveals himself to his people. "He that loveth me shall be loved of my

Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself in all my graces,

desirableness, and loveliness; he shall know me as I am, and such I will be

unto him, a Saviour, a Redeemer, the chiefest of ten thousand. He shall be

acquainted with the true worth and value of the pearl of price; let others look

upon him as no way desirable, he will manifest himself and his excellences

unto them in whom he is delighted, that they shall see him altogether lovely.

The saints with open face shall behold his glory, and so be translated to the

image of the same glory as by the Spirit of the Lord." He also reveals his

kingdom. They shall be acquainted with the government of his Spirit in their

hearts, and also his administration of authority in his word among his

churches. Thus does he manifest his delight in his saints; he communicates his

secrets unto them; he gives them to know his Person, his excellences, his grace,

his love, his kingdom, his will, the riches of his goodness, and the bowels of his

mercy, more and more, when the world shall neither see nor know any such

thing.

 

And he also enables his saints to reveal their souls unto him, so that they may

walk together as intimate friends; Christ knows the minds of all. "He knows

what is in man, and needs not that any man testify of him." (John 2:26 .) He

"searcheth the hearts and trieth the reins of all." (Rev. 2:23 .) But all know not

how to communicate their mind to Christ. It will not avail a man at all, that

Christ knows his mind, for so he does of every one whether he will or no; but

that a man can make his heart known unto Christ, this is consolation. Hence,

the prayers of the saints are "incense," "odours;" and those of others are

"howling," "cutting off a dog's neck, offering of swine's blood," "an

abomination unto the Lord."

 

When such a pen as Dr. Owen's has written on this subject, well may ours be

slow to add anything to his wise and weighty words; yet we should be hardly

satisfied to bring our Review abruptly to a close without expressing a little of

what we see and feel upon this vital point, for in it we are thoroughly

convinced lie the very life and power of all saving religion. Nothing

distinguishes the divine religion of the saint of God, not only from the dead

profanity of the openly ungodly, but from the formal lip-service of the lifeless

professor, so much as communion with God.

 

How clearly do we see this exemplified in the saints of old. Abel sought after

fellowship with God when "he brought of the firstlings of his flock, and of the

fat thereof," for he looked to the atoning blood of the Lamb of God. God

accepted the offering, and "testified of his gifts" by manifesting his divine

approbation. Here was fellowship between Abel and God. Enoch "walked

with God;" but how can two walk together except they be agreed? And if

agreed, they are in fellowship and communion. Abraham was "the friend of

God;" "The Lord spake to Moses face to face;" David was "the man after

God's own heart;"—all which testimonies of the Holy Ghost concerning them

implied that they were reconciled, brought near, and walked in holy

communion with the Lord God Almighty.

 

So all the saints of old, whose sufferings and exploits are recorded in Heb. 11 lived a life of faith and prayer, a life of fellowship and communion with their Father and their friend; and though "they were stoned, sawn asunder, and slain with the sword;" though "they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented;" though "they wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth," yet they all were sustained in their sufferings and sorrows by the Spirit and grace, the presence and power of the living God, with whom they held sweet communion; and, though tortured, would "accept no deliverance," by denying their Lord, "that they might obtain a better resurrection," and see him as he is in glory, by whose grace they were brought into fellowship with him on earth.

 

This same communion with himself is that which God now calls his saints

unto, as we read, "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship

of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord," (1 Cor. 1:9 ,) for to have fellowship with his

Son is to have fellowship with him. As then he called Abraham out of the land

of the Chaldees, so he calls elect souls out of the world, out of darkness, sin,

and death, out of formality and self-righteousness, out of a deceptive

profession, to have fellowship with himself, to be blessed with manifestations

of his love and mercy. To this point all his dealings with their souls tend; to

bring them near to himself, all their afflictions, trials, and sorrows are sent;

and in giving them tastes of holy fellowship here, he grants them foretastes

and prelibations of that eternity of bliss which will be theirs when time shall

be no more, in being for ever swallowed up with his presence and love.

Even in the first awakenings of the Spirit, in the first quickenings of his grace,

there is that in the living soul which eternally distinguishes it from all others,

whatever be their profession, however high or however low, however in

doctrine sound or unsound, however in practice consistent or inconsistent.

 

There is, amidst all its trouble, darkness, guilt, confusion, and selfcondemnation,

a striving after communion with God; though still ignorant of

who or what he is, and still unable to approach him with confidence. There is

a sense of his greatness and glory; there is a holy fear and godly awe of his

great name; there is a trembling at his word; a brokenness, a contrition, a

humility, a simplicity, a sincerity, a self-abasement, a distrust of self, a dread

of hypocrisy and self-deception, a coming to the light, a labouring to enter the

strait gate, a tenderness of conscience, a sense of unbelief, helplessness, and

inability, a groaning under the guilt and burden of sin, a quickness to see its

workings, and an alarm lest they should break forth—all which we never see

in a dead, carnal professor, whether the highest Calvinist or the lowest

Arminian. In all these, whatever their creed or name, there is a hardness, a

boldness, an ignorance, and a self-confidence which chill and repel a child of

God. Their religion has in it no repentance and no faith—therefore no hatred

of sin or fear of God. It is a mere outside, superficial form, springing out of a

few natural convictions, and attended with such false hopes and self-righteous

confidence as a Balaam might have from great gifts, or an Ahithophel from

great knowledge, or the Pharisee in the temple from great consistency, but as

different from a work of grace as heaven from earth. How different from this

is he who is made alive unto God. His religion is one carried on between God

and his own conscience, in the depths of his soul, and, for the most part, amid

much affliction and temptation. Being pressed down with a sight and sense of

the dreadful evil of sin, he at times dares hardly draw near to God, or utter a

word before the great and glorious majesty of heaven. And yet he is

sometimes driven and sometimes drawn to pour out his heart before him, and

seek his face night and day, besides more set seasons of prayer and

supplication. And yet this he cannot do without peculiar trial and temptation.

If he stay away from the throne, he is condemned in his own conscience as

having no religion, as being a poor, prayerless, careless wretch; if he come, he

is at times almost overwhelmed by a sight of the majesty and holiness of God,

and his open, dreadful sins against and before the eyes of his infinite purity. If

he is cold and dead, he views that as a mark of his own hypocrisy; if he is

enlarged, and feels holy liberty and blessed confidence spring up in his soul,

he can scarcely believe it real, and fears lest it be presumption, and that Satan

is now deceiving him as an angel of light; if he has a promise applied, and is

sweetly blessed for a time, he calls it afterwards all in question; if favoured

under the word, to see his interest clear, he often questions whether it were

really of God; and if his mouth is opened to speak to a Christian friend of any

sweetness he has enjoyed, or any liberty that he has felt, he is tried to the very

quick, before an hour is gone over his head, whether he has not been deceiving

a child of God.

 

But by all these things living souls are instructed. The emptiness of a mere

profession, the deceitfulness of their own hearts, the darkness, misery, and

death that sin always brings in its train when secretly indulged, the vanity of

this poor, passing scene, the total inability of the creature, whether in

themselves or others, to give them any real satisfaction, all become more

thoroughly inwrought into their soul's experience. And as they get glimpses

and glances of the King in his beauty, and see and feel more of his blessedness

and suitability to all their wants and woes; as his blood and righteousness,

glorious person, and finished work are more sensibly realised, believed in,

looked unto, and reposed upon; and as he himself is pleased to commune with

them from the mercy-seat through his word, Spirit, presence, and love, they

begin to hold close and intimate fellowship with him. Every fresh view of his

beauty and blessedness draws their heart more towards him; and though they

often slip, stumble, start aside, wander away on the dark mountains, though

often as cold as ice and hard as adamant, with no more feeling religion than

the stones of the pavement, and viler in their own feelings than the vilest and

worst, still ever and anon their stony heart relents, the tear of grief runs down

their cheek, their bosom heaves with godly sorrow, prayer and supplication go

forth from their lips, sin is confessed and mourned over, pardon is sought with

many cries, the blood of sprinkling is begged for, a word, a promise, a smile, a

look, a touch, are again and again besought, till body and soul are alike

exhausted with the earnestness of expressed desire. O, how much is needed to

bring the soul to its only rest and centre. What trials and afflictions; what

furnaces, floods, rods, and strokes, as well as smiles, promises, and gracious

drawings! What pride and self to be brought out of! What love and blood to

be brought unto! What lessons to learn of the freeness and fulness of

salvation! What sinkings in self! What risings in Christ! What guilt and

condemnation on account of sin; what self-loathing and self-abasement; what

distrust of self; what fears of falling; what prayers and desires to be kept;

what clinging to Christ; what looking up and unto his divine majesty, as faith

views him at the right hand of the Father; what desires never more to sin

against him, but to live, move, and act in the holy fear of God, do we find,

more or less daily, in a living soul!

 

And whence springs all this inward experience but from the fellowship and

communion which there is between Christ and the soul? "We are members,"

says the Apostle, "of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones." As such there is

a mutual participation in sorrow and joy. "He hath borne our griefs, and

carried our sorrows." "He was in all points tempted like as we are, yet

without sin." He can, therefore, "be touched with the feelings of our

infirmities," can pity and sympathise; and thus, as we may cast upon him our

sins and sorrows, when faith enables, so can he supply, out of his own fulness,

that grace and strength which can bring us off eventually more than

conquerors.

 

But here, for the present, we pause, having only just touched the threshold of

a subject so full of divine blessedness. Such a subject as this, descending to all

the depths of sin and sorrow, and rising up to all the heights of grace and

glory, embracing fellowship with Christ in his sufferings and fellowship with

Christ in his glory, is a theme for Paul after he had been caught up into the

third heaven, and for John in Patmos, after he had seen him walking in the

midst of the seven golden candlesticks; nor even could their divinely-taught

souls adequately comprehend, nor their divinely-inspired pens worthily

describe all that is contained in the solemn mystery of the communion that the

Church, as the Bride of the Lamb, is called to enjoy with Father, Son, and

Holy Ghost, the great and glorious Three-in-One God.

(Concluded, April, 1858.)

 

What Christ is to the Church, what the Church is to Christ, can never be

really known till time give place to eternity, faith to sight, and hope to

enjoyment. Nor even then, however beyond all present conception the powers

and faculties of the glorified souls and bodies of the saints may be expanded,

however conformed to the glorious image of Christ, or however ravished with

the discoveries of his glory and the sight of him as he is in one unclouded

day,—no, not even then, will the utmost stretch of creature love, or highest

refinement of creature intellect, wholly embrace or fully comprehend that love

of Christ, which, as in time so in eternity, "passeth knowledge," as being in

itself essentially incomprehensible, because infinite and divine. Who can

calculate the amount of light and heat that dwell in, and are given forth by the

sun that shines at this moment so gloriously in the noonday sky? We see, we

feel, we enjoy its bright beams; but who can number the millions of millions of

rays that it casts forth upon all the surface of the earth, diffusing light, heat,

and fertility to every part? If the creature be so great, glorious, and

incomprehensible, how much more great, glorious, and incomprehensible

must be its divine Creator! The Scripture testimony of the saints in glory is

that "when Christ shall appear they shall be like him, for they shall see him as

he is;" (1 John 3:2 ;) that they shall then see the Lord "face to face, and know

even as also they are known;" (1 Cor. 13:12 ;) that their "vile body shall be

fashioned like unto his glorious body;" (Phil. 3:21 ;) that they shall be

"conformed to his image," (Rom. 8:29 ,) and "be satisfied when they awake

with his likeness;" (Ps. 17:15;) that they shall be "before the throne of God,

and serve him day and night in his temple;" (Rev. 7:15 ;) that "their sun shall

no more go down, for the Lord shall be their everlasting light;" (Isa. 60:20 ;)

that they shall have "an exceeding and eternal weight of glory;" (2 Cor.4:17;)

and shall "shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever

and ever." (Dan. 12:3 .) But, with all this unspeakable bliss and glory, there

must be in infinite Deity unfathomable depths which no creature, however

highly exalted, can ever sound; heights which no finite, dependent being can

ever scan. God became man, but man never can become God. He fully knows

us, but we never can fully know him, for even in eternity, as in time, it may be

said to the creature, "Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find

out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do?

deeper than hell, what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than

the earth, and broader than the sea." (Job 11:7-9 .) But if, as we believe,

eternity itself can never fully or entirely reveal the heights and depths of the

love of a Triune God, how little can be known of it in a time state! and yet that

little is the only balm for all sorrow, the only foundation of solid rest and

peace.

In resuming, therefore, our subject, we are at once led to feel how little here

below we can realise of that love of Christ in the knowledge and enjoyment of

which mainly consists all communion with him. But we are encouraged to

drop a few more hints on this sacred subject, not only from its peculiar

blessedness, and in the hope that its further consideration may be profitable to

our readers, but from the testimony that we have received from some of them

that what we were enabled to write in our last Number met with their

acceptance, and was read by them with interest and pleasure.

Love is communicative. This is a part of its very nature and essence. Its

delight is to give, and especially to give itself; and all it wants or asks is a

return. To love and to be beloved, to enjoy and to express that ardent and

mutual affection by words and deeds; this is love's delight, love's heaven. To

love, and not be loved,—this is love's misery, love's hell. God is love. This is

his very nature, an essential attribute of his glorious being; and as he, the

infinite and eternal Jehovah, exists in a Trinity of distinct Persons, though

undivided Unity of Essence! there is a mutual ineffable love of the three

Persons in the sacred Godhead the Scripture abundantly testifies: "The

Father loveth the Son;" (John 3:35 ;) "And hast loved them as thou hast loved

me;" (John 17:23 ;) "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."

(Matt. 3:17 .) And as the Father loves the Son, so does the Son love the Father:

"But that the world may know that I love the Father," are his own blessed

words. (John 14:31 .) And that the Holy Ghost loves the Father and the Son is

evident not only from his divine personality in the Godhead, but because he is

essentially the very "Spirit of love," (Rom. 15:30 , 2 Tim. 1:7 ,) and as such

"sheds the love of God abroad in the heart" of the election of grace. (Rom.

5:5.)

Thus man was not needed by the holy and ever-blessed Trinity as an object of

divine love. Sufficient, eternally and amply sufficient, to all the bliss and

blessedness, perfection and glory of Jehovah was and ever would have been

the mutual love and intercommunion of the three Persons in the sacred

Godhead. But love—the equal and undivided love, of Father, Son, and Holy

Spirit, flowed out beyond its original and essential being to man; and not

merely to man as man, that is to human nature as the body prepared for the

Son of God to assume, but to thousands and millions of the human race, who

are all loved personally and individually with all the infinite love of God as

much as if that love were fixed on only one, and he were loved as God loves his

dear Son. "I have loved thee with an everlasting love," is spoken to each

individual of the elect as much as to the whole church, viewed as the mystical

Bride and Spouse of the Lamb. Thus the love of a Triune God is not only to

the nature which in due time the Son of God should assume, the flesh and

blood of the children, the seed of Abraham which he should take on him,

(Heb. 2:14-16 ,) and for this reason viewed by the Triune Jehovah with eyes of

intense delight, but to that innumerable multitude of human beings who were

to form the mystical body of Christ. Were Scripture less express, we might

still believe that the nature which one of the sacred Trinity was to assume

would be delighted in and loved by the holy Three-in-One. But we have the

testimony of the Holy Ghost to the point, that puts it beyond all doubt or

question. When, in the first creation of that nature the Holy Trinity said, "Let

us make man in our image, after our likeness," and when, in pursuance of

that divine council, "the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and

breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul,"

God thereby uniting an immortal soul to an earthly body, this human nature

was created not only in the moral image of God, (Eph. 4:24 ,) but after the

pattern of that body which was prepared for the Son of God by the Father.

(Heb. 10:5 .) The Holy Ghost, therefore, in Ps. 8, puts into the mouth of the

inspired Psalmist an anthem of praise flowing from the meditations of his

heart upon the grace and glory bestowed upon human nature, as exalted in

the person of Christ above all the glory of the starry heavens: "When I

consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which

thou hast ordained: what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of

man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the

angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to

have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his

feet." (Ps. 8:3-6.) Here the Psalmist bursts forth into a rapture of admiration

at beholding how man, that is, human nature, in itself so weak and fragile, so

inferior in beauty and splendour to the glorious orbs that stud the midnight

sky, should yet attract the mind, and be visited by the love of God; how that

nature, "made a little lower than the angels" in its original constitution, yet

should, by virtue of its being taken into union with the Person of the Son of

God, be crowned with honour and glory, and dominion given to it over all the

works of God's hands in heaven and in earth. (Matt. 28:18 .) That this is the

mind of the Holy Ghost is evident from the interpretation given of the Psalm

by the inspired Apostle: "But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is

man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him?

Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with

glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands. Thou hast

put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection

under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet

all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than

the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he

by the grace of God should taste death for every man." (Heb. 2:6-9 .) When,

then, the Son of God took our flesh into union with his own divine Person, he

not only invested that nature with unspeakable glory, but by partaking of the

same identical substance, the same flesh, and blood, and bones, wedded the

Church unto himself. This is the true source, as it is the only real and solid

foundation of all the union and communion that the Church enjoys with

Christ on earth, or ever will enjoy with him in heaven. He thus became her

Head, her Husband, and she became his body, his wife. Nor are these mere

names, and titles, any more than husband and wife are mere names and titles

in their natural relationship. The marriage relation is an unalterable tie, an

indissoluble bond, giving and cementing a peculiar but substantial union,

making man and wife one flesh, and investing them with an interest in each

other's person and property, happiness and honour, love and affection, such

as exists in no other relationship of life. Thus the assumption of human nature

made the Lord Jesus Christ a real, not a nominal husband, yea, as much a

husband to the Church as Adam became husband to Eve on that memorable

morn in Paradise, "when the Lord God brought her unto the man" in all her

original purity and innocence, (beautiful type of the Church as presented to

Christ in her unfallen condition!) "and Adam said, This is now bone of my

bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken

out of man." (Gen. 2:23.) As then in the marriage union man and wife become

one flesh, (Gen. 2:24,) and, God having joined them together, no man may put

them asunder, (Matt. 19:5 ,) so when the Lord Jesus Christ, in the "everlasting

covenant, ordered in all things and sure," betrothed the church unto himself,

they became before the face of heaven one in indissoluble ties. As he

undertook in "the fulness of time" to be "made of a woman," she became one

with him in body by virtue of a common nature; and becomes one with him in

spirit when, as each individual member comes forth into a time state, the

blessed Spirit unites it to him by regenerating grace. Such is the testimony of

the word of truth. "We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his

bones;" (Eph. 5:30 ;). "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit." (1 Cor.

6:17.) Her union, therefore, with his flesh ensures to her body conformity in

the resurrection morn to the glorified body of Jesus; and her union with his

spirit ensures to her soul an eternity of bliss in the perfection of knowledge,

holiness, and love. Thus the union of the church with Christ commenced in the

councils of eternal wisdom and love, is made known upon earth by

regenerating grace, and is perfected in heaven in the fulness of glory.

The church, it is true, fell in Adam from that state of innocence and purity in

which she was originally created. But how the Adam fall, in all its miserable

consequences, instead of cancelling the bond and disannulling the everlasting

covenant, only served more fully and gloriously to reveal and make known the

love of Christ to his chosen bride in all its breadth and length and depth and

height! She fell, it is true, into unspeakable, unfathomable depths of sin and

misery, guilt and crime; but she never fell out of his heart or out of his arms.

Yet what without the fall would have been known of dying love or of the

mystery of the cross? Where would have been the song of the redeemed,

"Unto him that loved us and washed us from our sins in his own blood?"

Where the victory over death and hell, or the triumphs of superabounding

grace over the aboundings of sin, guilt, and despair? Where would have been

the "leading captivity captive," the "spoiling principalities and powers, and

making a show of them openly, triumphing over them in himself?" What

would have been known of that most precious attribute of God—mercy? What

of his forbearance and long-suffering; what of his pitiful compassion to the

poor lost children of men? As then the church's head and husband could not

and would not dissolve the union, break the covenant, or alter the thing that

had gone out of his lips, and yet could not take her openly unto himself in all

her filth, and guilt, and shame, he had to redeem her with his own heart's

blood, with agonies and sufferings such as earth or heaven never before

witnessed, with those dolorous cries under the hidings of his Father's face,

which made the earth to quake, the rocks to rend, and the sun to withdraw its

light. But his love was strong as death, and he endured the cross, despising the

shame, bearing her sins in his own body on the tree, and thus suffering the

penalty due to her crimes, reconciled her unto God "in the body of his flesh,

through death, to present her holy, and unblameable and unreprovable in his

sight." (Col. 1:22 .) Having thus reconciled her unto God, as she comes forth

from the womb of time, he visits member after member of his mystical body

with his regenerating grace, that "he may sanctify and cleanse it with the

washing of water by the word," and thus eventually "present it to himself a

glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing." (Eph. 5:26 ,

27.) Communion with Christ, therefore begins below, in our time state. It is

here that the mystery of the marriage union is first made known; here the

espousals entered into; (Jer. 2:2 , 2 Cor. 11:2 ;) here the first kiss of betrothed

love given. (Song 1:2 .) The celebration of the marriage is to come; (Rev. 19:7 -

9;) but the original betrothal in heaven and the spiritual espousals on earth

make Christ and the church eternally one. As then the husband, when he

becomes united to his wife in marriage ties, engages thereby to love her,

cherish her, feed her, clothe her, count her interests his interests, her honour

his honour, and her happiness his happiness, so the blessed Jesus, when in the

councils of eternity, he betrothed the Church to himself, undertook to be to

her and do for her everything that should be for her happiness and honour,

perfection and glory. His own words are, "I will betroth thee unto me for

ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and

in loving kindness, and in mercies: I will even betroth thee unto me in

faithfulness; and thou shalt know the Lord." (Hos. 2:19, 20.) And again, "For

thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of Hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer

the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called." (Isa.

54:5.) "For as a young man marryeth a virgin, so shall thy sons* marry thee;

and as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over

thee." (Isa. 62:5 .) There must be union before communion, marriage before

possession, membership before abiding in Christ and he in us, a being in the

vine before a branch issuing from the stem. It is the Spirit that quickeneth us

to feel our need of him; to seek all our supplies in him and from him; to

believe in him unto everlasting life, and thus live a life of faith upon him. By

his secret teachings, inward touches, gracious smiles, soft whispers, sweet

promises, and more especially by manifestations of his glorious Person,

finished work, atoning blood, justifying righteousness, agonising sufferings,

and dying love, he draws the heart up to himself. He thus wins our affections,

and setting himself before our eyes as "the chiefest among ten thousand and

altogether lovely," draws out that love and affection towards himself which

puts the world under our feet. What is religion without a living faith in, and a

living love to the Lord Jesus Christ? How dull and dragging, how dry and

heavy, what a burden to the mind, and a weariness to the flesh, is a round of

forms where the heart is not engaged and the affections not drawn forth!

Reading, hearing, praying, meditation, conversation with the saints of God—

what cold, what heartless work where Jesus is not! But let him appear, let his

presence and grace be felt, and his blessed Spirit move upon the heart, then

there is a holy sweetness, a sacred blessedness in the worship of God and in

communion with the Lord Jesus that makes, whilst it lasts, a little heaven on

earth. Means are to be attended to, ordinances to be prized, the Bible to be

read, preaching to be heard, the throne of grace to be resorted to, the

company of Christian friends to be sought. But what are all these unless we

find Christ in them? It is He that puts life and blessedness into all means and

ordinances, into all prayer, preaching, hearing, reading, conversing, and every

thing that bears the name of religion. Without him all is dark and dead, cold

and dreary, barren and bare. Wandering thoughts at the throne, unbelief at

the ordinance, deadness under the word, formality and lip service in family

worship, carelessness over the open Bible, carnality in conversation, and a

general coldness and stupidity over the whole frame—such is the state of the

soul when Jesus does not appear, and when he leaves us to prove what we are,

and what we can do without him. He is our sun, and without him all is

darkness; he is our life, and without him all is death; he is the beginner and

finisher of our faith, the substance of our hope, and the object of our love. All

religion flows from his Spirit and grace, presence and power. Where he is, be

it barn or hovel, field or hedge, closet or fireside, there is a believing soul, a

praying spirit, a tender conscience, a humble mind, a broken heart, and a

confessing tongue. Where he is not, be it kitchen  or chapel, public worship or

private prayer, hearing the word or reading the Bible, all is alike empty and

forlorn to a living soul, pregnant with dissatisfaction and loaded with self - condemnation.

 

It is this inward sense of the blessedness of his presence and

the misery of his absence, the heaven of his smile and the hell of his frown,

that makes the sheep of Christ seek communion with Him. He has won their

heart to himself by discovering to them his beauty and his love, and they

having once seen the glory of his Person, heard the sweetness of his voice, and

tasted the grace of his lips, follow him whithersoever he goeth, seeking to

know him and the power of his resurrection, and counting all things dung and

loss that they may win him, and have some manifestation of his love. What is

to support the soul under those trials and temptations that at times press it so

sore, relieve those cruel doubts which so disquiet, take away those fears of

death which so alarm, subdue that rebelliousness which so condemns, wean

from the world which so allures, and make it look beyond life and time, the

cares of the passing hour, and the events of the fleeting day, to a solemn and

blessed eternity, but those visitations of the Blessed Lord to the soul which

give it communion with himself? Thus were the saints of God led and taught

in days of old, as the Holy Ghost has recorded their experience in the word of

truth. Remembering the past, one says, "Thy visitation hath preserved my

spirit" (Job 10:12 .) Longing for a renewal, another cries, "O when wilt thou

come unto me?" (Ps. 101:2;) and under the enjoyment of his presence the

church speaks, "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over

me was love." (Cant. 2:4.)

* We prefer the rendering, "thy Maker," which only requires the change of a

point in the Hebrew, and is not only more agreeable to the meaning, but

corresponds more exactly to the parallel clause in the same verse. Bishop

Lowth renders it "thy Restorer;" literally, it is "thy Builder."

We are, most of us, so fettered down by the chains of time and sense, the cares

of life and daily business, the weakness of our earthly frame, the distracting

claims of a family, and the miserable carnality and sensuality of our fallen

nature, that we live at best a poor, dragging, dying life. We can take no

pleasure in the world, nor mix with a good conscience in its pursuits and

amusements; we are many of us poor, moping, dejected creatures, from a

variety of trials and afflictions; we have a daily cross and the continual plague

of an evil heart; get little consolation from the family of God or the outward

means of grace; know enough of ourselves to know that in self there is neither

help nor hope, and never expect a smoother path, a better, wiser, holier heart,

or to be able to do to-morrow what we cannot do to-day. As then the weary

man seeks rest, the hungry food, the thirsty drink, and the sick health, so do

we stretch forth our hearts and arms that we may embrace the Lord Jesus

Christ, and sensibly realise union and communion with him. From him come

both prayer and answer, both hunger and food, both desire and the tree of

life. He discovers the evil and misery of sin that we may seek pardon in his

bleeding wounds and pierced side; makes known to us our nakedness and

shame, and, as such, our exposure to God's wrath, that we may hide ourselves

under his justifying robe; puts gall and wormwood into the world's choicest

draughts, that we may have no sweetness but in and from him; keeps us long

fasting to endear a crumb, and long waiting to make a word precious. He

wants the whole heart, and will take no less; and as this we cannot give, he

takes it to himself by ravishing it with one of his eyes, with one chain of his

neck. If we love him it is because he first loved us; and if we seek communion

with him, it is because he will manifest himself to us as he doth not unto the

world.

Would we see what the Holy Ghost has revealed of the nature of this

communion, we shall find it most clearly and experimentally unfolded in the

Song of Solomon. From the first verse of that divine book, "Let him kiss me

with the kisses of his mouth," to the last expressed desire of the loving bride,

"Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe, or like to a young hart

upon the mountains of spices," all is a "song of loves," (Ps. 45 title,) all a

divine revelation of the communion that is carried on upon earth between

Christ and the Church. She "comes up from the wilderness leaning upon her

beloved," whilst "his left hand is under her head, and his right hand doth

embrace her." She says, "Look not upon me because I am black;" but he

answers, "Thou art all fair, my love, there is no spot in thee." At one moment

she says, "By night, on my bed, I sought him whom my soul loveth; I sought

him, but I found him not;" and then again she cries, "It was but a little that I

passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth. I held him, and

would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and

into the chamber of her that conceived me." (Song Sol. 3:4.) Comings and

goings; sighs and songs; vain excuses and cutting self-reflections; (5:3-6;)

complaints of self and praises of him; (5:7-16;) the breathings of love, and the

flames of jealousy; (8:6;) the tender affections of a virgin heart, and the

condescending embraces of a royal spouse; (1:7; 2:3-7;)—such is the

experience of the Church in seeking or enjoying communion with Christ as

described in this divine book.

O that we could walk more in these gracious footsteps! Whatever be our state

and case, if it can truly be said of us what the angel said to the women at the

sepulchre, "I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified," we have a divine

warrant to believe that, "he is gone before us into Galilee. There shall we see

him." He is risen; he has ascended up on high, and "has received gifts for

men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them."

He is now upon the mercy seat, and he invites and draws poor needy sinners

to himself. He says, "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden,

and I will give you rest." He allows us, he invites us to pour out our heart

before him, to show before him our trouble, to spread our wants at his feet, as

Hezekiah spread the letter in the temple. If we seek communion with him, we

may and shall tell him how deeply we need him, that without him it is not life

to live, and with him not death to die. We shall beg of him to heal our

backslidings; to manifest his love and blood to our conscience; to show us the

evil of sin; to bless us with godly sorrow for our slips and falls; to keep us

from evil that it may not grieve us; to lead us into his sacred truth; to preserve

us from all error; to plant his fear deep in our heart; to apply some precious

promise to our soul; to be with us in all our ways; to watch over us in all our

goings out and comings in; to preserve us from pride, self-deception, and selfrighteousness;

to give us renewed tokens of our interest in his finished work;

to subdue our iniquities; to make and keep our conscience tender; and work

in us everything which is pleasing in his sight. What is communion but mutual

giving and receiving, the flowing together of two hearts, the melting into one

of two wills, the exchange of two loves—each party maintaining its distinct

identity, yet being to the other an object of affection and delight? Have we

nothing then to give Christ? Yes, our sins, our sorrows, our burdens, our

trials, and above all the salvation and sanctification of our souls. And what

has he to give us? What? Why, everything worth having, everything worth a

moment's anxious thought, everything for time and eternity.

 

We conclude our Review, already perhaps too long, with one more extract

from the wise and weighty words of Dr. Owen:

 

"First. The saints cordially approve of this righteousness, as that alone which

is absolutely complete, and able to make them acceptable before God. And

this supposeth five things:

 

"1. Their clear and full conviction of the necessity of a righteousness

wherewith to appear before God. This is always in their thoughts. Many men

spend their days in obstinacy and hardness, adding drunkenness unto thirst,

never once inquiring what their condition shall be when they enter into

eternity. Others trifle away their time and their souls, sowing the wind of

empty hopes, and preparing to reap a whirlwind of wrath. But this lies at the

bottom of all the saint's communion with Christ—a deep, fixed persuasion of

the indispensable necessity of a righteousness wherewith to appear before

God. The holiness of God's nature, the righteousness of his government, the

severity of his law, the terror of his wrath, are always before them. They have

been convinced of sin and have looked on themselves as ready to sink under

the vengeance due to it. They have cried, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do

to be saved?' and have all concluded, that if God be holy, and of 'purer eyes

than to behold iniquity,' they must have a righteousness to stand before him;

and they knew what will be the cry, one day, of those otherwise minded.

 

"2. They weigh their own righteousness in the balance, and find it wanting.

And this in two ways: 1st. In general; when men are convinced of the necessity

of a righteousness, they catch at everything that presents itself to them for

relief; as men ready to sink in deep waters catch at what is nearest to save

them from drowning, which sometimes proves a rotten stick that sinks with

them. So did the Jews; (Rom. 9:31 , 32;) they caught hold of the law, and it

would not relieve them; the law put them upon setting up a righteousness of

their own; this kept them doing, but kept them from submitting to the

righteousness of God. Here many perish, and never get one step nearer to God

all their days. This the saints renounce. They have no confidence in the flesh;

they know all they can do will not avail them. See what judgment Paul makes

of a man's own righteousness, Phil. 3:8-10 . This keeps their souls humble, full

of a sense of their own vileness, all their days. 2nd. In particular; they daily

weigh all their particular actions in the balance, and find them wanting as to

any such completeness as upon their own account to be accepted with God.

'O,' says a saint, 'if I had nothing to commend me unto God but this prayer,

this duty, this conquest of a temptation, wherein I myself see so much

imperfection, could I appear with any boldness before him? Ah, it is all as

filthy rags.' (Isa. 64 : 6.) These thoughts accompany them in all their duties, in

their best and most choice performances. Lord, what am I, in my best estate!

How little suitableness unto thy holiness is in my best duties! O spare me, in

reference to the best thing that ever I did in my life! When a man who lives

upon convictions hath got some enlargement in duties, some conquest over a

temptation, he hugs himself, like Micah, when he had got a Levite to be his

priest: now surely God will bless him; he hath peace in what he hath done.

But he who has communion with Christ, when he is highest in duties of

sanctification, is clearest in the apprehension of his own unprofitableness, and

renounces every thought of setting his peace in them or upon them. He says to

his soul, Should God deal with thee according to thy best works, thou must

perish.

 

"3. They value and rejoice in this righteousness for their acceptance, which

the Lord Jesus hath wrought out and provided for them. This being

discovered to them, they approve of it with all their hearts, and rest in it. (Isa.

45:24.) 'Surely shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.'

This is their voice and language when once the righteousness of God in Christ

is made known to them. 'Here is righteousness indeed, here have I rest for my

soul.' Like the merchantman in the gospel, (Matt. 13:45 , 46,) that finds the

pearl of price. When first the righteousness of Christ, for acceptance with

God, is revealed to a poor labouring soul, that hath sought for rest and hath

found none, he is surprised and amazed; and such a one always in his heart

approves this righteousness on a fivefold account. (1.) As full of infinite

wisdom. 'Unto them that believe,' saith the apostle, 'Christ crucified is the

wisdom of God,' (1 Cor. 1:24 ,) they see infinite wisdom in this way of their

acceptance with God. In what darkness, says such a one, was my soul! How

little able was I to look through the clouds and perplexities wherewith I was

encompassed! I looked inwards, and there was nothing but sin; I looked

upwards, and saw nothing but wrath; I knew that God was a holy and

righteous God; I knew that I was a poor, vile, unclean and sinful creature, and

how to bring these two together in peace I knew not. But in the righteousness

of Christ doth a world of wisdom open itself, dispelling all difficulties, and

manifesting a reconciliation of all this. 'O the depths of the riches both of the

wisdom and knowledge of God!' (Rom. 11:33 , and Col. 2:3 .)"

 

J C Philpot

 

 

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