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This was free love to undeferving, to ill-deferving finners: preventing love; not that we loved him, but that he loved us. Juft as an image in the glafs, faith Ficinus, that is imprinted there by the face looking into it; the image does not look back upon the face, except the face look forward upon the image; and in that the image does feem to fee the face, it is nothing elle but that the face does fee the image. O the inexpreffible glory of the love of God in Chrift!
3. Though God had given feveral fad marks of his juftice before, both upon the angels that fell, clapping upon them the chains of darkness; in the overthrow of Sodom and the neighbouring cities, turning them to afhes, as you may read in Jude, ver. 6, 7. yet never was the exactaefs and feverity of justice fo manifested before, nor ever fhall be any more, as it was at the death of Chrift. Chrift did not only fatisfy it fully, but he also honoured it highly, making that attribute which was once a bar, now to be a bottom of our peace, Rom. iii. 25. Never did fuch a perfon as Chrift ftand at the bar of justice before: the blood of God was poured out to appease and fatisfy it. When Chrift fuffered, he did both give and take fatisfaction; he gave it to the justice of God in dying; he took it, in feeing justice so honoured in his death.
Secondly, Another delightful profpect Chrift had of the fruit of his fufferings, was the recovery and falvation of all the elect by his death; and though his sufferings were exceeding bitter, yet fuch fruit of them as this was exceeding fweet: upon this account he affumed his name Jefus, Matth. i. 21. yea, and his human nature alfo, Gal. iv. 4, 5. Souls are of great value in his eyes; one foul is of more worth in his account than all the world, Mark viii. 36. What a pleasure then must it be to him, to fave fo many fouls from the everlasting wrath of the great and terrible God! Add to this,
Thirdly, The glory, which would redound to him from his redeemed ones to all eternity; for it will be the everlasting pleafant employment of the faints in heaven, to be ascribing glory, praife, and honour, to the Redeemer: "To him that loved us, "and washed us from our fins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory "and dominion for ever and ever," Rev. i. 5, 6. The improvement of all this will be in a word or two.
Ufe for conviction.
This truth then, in the first place, may convince, shame, and humble the very best of Chriftians, who find fo little delight in the moft eafy, fweet, and fpiritual duties of obedience, when
Chrift undertook and went through the most difficult task for them with fuch chearfulness and readiness. "Lo, I come, thy "law is in my heart, I delight to do thy will;" and yet the work he to applied himself to, was a work full of difficulty, attended with reproach and fhame, as well as anguish and pain.
Did Chrift find pleasure in abafement and torment, in fuffering and dying for me, and can I find no pleasure in praying, hearing, meditating, and enjoying the fweet duties of communion with him? Did he come fo chearfully to die for me, and do I go fo dead-heartedly to prayers and facraments, to enjoy fellowship with him? Was it a pleasure to him to fhed his blood, and is it none to me to apply it, and reap the benefits of it? Oh, Lord, what an heart have I? How unfuitable is this frame of heart to the nature of God, whofe effential excellencies make him the fupreme delight, the fweet repofe, folace, and reft of fouls! Pfal. xvi. 11.
How unfuitable to the principles of regeneration and holiness, purposely planted in the foul, to make spiritual performances a pleasure to it!
How unfuitable to the future expected ftate of glory, which brings the fanctified foul to a fweet complacential reft and fatisfaction in God! In a word, how unfuitable is this temper of fpirit to the heart of Jesus Christ! O, methinks I hear Christ thus expoftulating with me this day :
Is this thy zeal and delight in the duties of obedience? Is it rather the awe of confcience than the pleasure of communion that brings thee to this duty? Doth thy hard heart. need fo many arguments to perfuade it, even to the fweetest, easiest, and most pleasant duties in religion? Well, I did not love thee at that rate; my heart readily echoed to the Father's call, to die for thee, to drink the very dregs of the cup of trembling for thee: "I come, I come, I delight to do thy will, thy law is in "the midst of my bowels."
2. Ufe, of exhortation.
If it be fo, how great a motive have the people of God before them, to make them apply themselves with all chearfulness and readiness of mind to all the duties of active and paffive obedience! O, let there be no more grumblings, lazy excufes, thiftings of duty, or dead-hearted and liftless performances of them, after fuch an example as this. Be ready to do the will of God; yea, be ye alfo ready to fuffer it. Let the fame mind be in you, which alfo was in Chrift Jesus. The more pleasure and delight you find in doing or fuffering the will of God, the
more of Chrift's fpirit is in you, and the more of his image is upon you. Are not all holy duties expreffed in fcripture by the faints walking with God? Gen. xvii. 1. And is not this an angelical life? Can it be a burden to the ear to hear sweet ravishing ftrains of melody; or to the eye, to behold variety of pleafant and lively colours; or to the palate, to relish the delicious fweetness of meats and drinks?
Oh, reader, were thy heart more spiritual, more deeply fanctified, and heavenly, it would be no more pain to thee to pray, hear, or meditate on the things of God, than it is to a bird to carry and ufe his own wings; or to a man, to eat the most pleafant food when he is an hungry; "I have rejoiced, (faith David) in the way of thy commandments, as much as in all riches," Pfal. cxix. 14.
And as to fufferings for Chrift, they should not be grievous to Chriftians, that know how chearfully Chrift came from the bofom of the Father to die for them. What have we to leave or lofe, in comparison with him? What are our fufferings to Chrift's Alas, there is no compare; there was more bitterness. in one drop of his fufferings, than in a fea of ours.
To conclude, Your delight and readiness in the paths of o bedience, is the very measure of your fanctification.
ZECH. xii. part of ver. 10. And they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced and they fhall mourn for bim, as one' mourneth for his only fen; and fhall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for bis first-born.
HIS promife is confeffed to have a special refpect to the Jews converfion to Chrift: It was in part accomplished in the apostle's days, Acts ii. 37. yet that was but a fpecimen or handfel, of what fhall be, when the body of that nation fhall be called!
But yet it cannot be denied, that all Christians find the fame piercing forrows, and wounding fenfe of fin, when God awakens them by convictions, and brings them to fee the evil of fin, and
the grace of Chrift, that is here expreffed concerning them at their converfion.
The words prefent us with three very remarkable particulars
First, The fpring and principle of repentance, expreffed in thele words, They fhall look upon me, whom they have pierced. This looking upon Chrift, is an act of faith; for fo it is defcribed in fcripture, John vi. 40, Ifa. xlv. 22. and it refpects Christ crucified, as its proper object: Yea, and that by them, not only as their progenitors involved them in that guilt, by entailing it on them, but as their own fins were the meritorious caufe of his death and Jufferings; they shall look upon me, whom they have pierced.
Secondly, The effects and fruits of fuch an afpect of faith upon Chrift, is here alfo noted; They shall mourn, and be in bitterness: i. e. it fhall melt and thaw them into godly forrow; it fhall break their hard and ftony hearts to pieces: The eye of faith (hall affect their hearts. For indeed, evangelical, forrows are hearty and undiffembled tears, dropping out of the eye of faith.
Thirdly, and leftly, The depth and meafure of their for row is here likewife noted. And it is compared with the greatest and most piercing, forrows men are acquainted with in this world, even the forrow of a tender-hearted Father, mourn ing over a dead fon, yea, an only fon, and his first-born; than which, no earthly forrow is more penetrating and fharp; Jer. vi. 26. Hence the note will be,
Doct. That the fufferings of Chrift are exceeding powerful, to. melt believers hearts into godly forrow.
The eye of faith is a precious eye; and according to its various afpects upon Christ, it produceth various effects upon the hearts of men. Eying Chrift as our complete righteoufaefs;: fo it pacifies, and quiets the heart: Eying him as our pattern; fo it directs and regulates our actions: Eying him as a facrifice offered up to divine juftice for our fins; fo it powerfully thaws. the heart, and melts the affections.
By meltings, I do not only understand tears; as if they only. were expreffive of all spiritual forrow: For it is poffible, the waters of forrow may run deep in the heart, when the eye can-› not yield a drop.
1. There be two things in repentance; trouble and tears. The
firft is effential, the laft contingent. The first flows from the influence of faith upon the foul; the last much depends upon the temper and conftitution of the body. It is a mercy, when our tears can flow from an heart filled with forrow for fin, and love to Chrift; yet it often falls out, that there is an heavy heart, where the eyes are dry. But that there is efficacy in faith to melt the heart, by looking upon the sufferings of Chrift for fin, is undoubted: And how it becomes fo powerful an inftrument to this end, I will thew you in the following particulars.
First, Faith eyes the dignity of the person of Christ, who was pierced for us; how excellent and glorious a person he is. In the captivity, it was for a lamentation, that "princes were "hanged up by the hands, and the faces of elders were not "honoured," Lam. v. 12. We read alfo the lamentation of David, 2 Sam. iii. 38. as he followed Abner's hearfe, "A "prince, and a great man, is fallen in Ifrael to-day."
But what was Abner, and what were the princes of Ifrael to the Son of God? Lo, here, by faith, the believer fees the Prince of the kings of the earth, the only begotten of the Father, equal to God, in nature and dignity, He, whom all the angels worship, hanging dead upon the curfed tree. Faith fees royal blood, the blood of God, poured out by the fword of juftice, for fatisfaction and reconciliation; and this cannot but deeply affect the believing foul.
Secondly, Faith represents the severity of divine justice to Jefus Chrift, and the extremity of his fufferings; and this fight is a melting fight.
The apostle tells us, Gal. iii. 13. he was made xalapa, a curfe and execration for us. It relates to the kind and manner of his death upon the crofs, which was the death of a slave; fervile fupplicium: A freeman was privileged from that punishment. It looks upon, and well confiders the fad plight and condition Chrift was in, in the days of his humiliation for us. It is faid of him, Matth. xxvi. 28. He was Пeptλvos, undequaque triftis, furrounded with griefs; exactly answerable to his name, Ifa. liii. 3. a man of forrows. Let him look which way he would, outward or inward, upward or downward, to friends or enemies; he could behold nothing but forrow, and what might increase his mifery. Another evangelift faith, he was fore amazed; Mark xiv. 33. Exbaußssa: It notes fuch a confternation, as makes the hair of the head ftand upright; Horripilatio. A third tells us, his foul was troubled, John xii. 27. Tunus Tapaxta, unde tartarus, a word from whence hell is