Part 4 out of 7
consenteth to the noble act of free grace, whereby the Lord made all our
sins to meet together on Christ, when he taketh those particular sins,
wherewith now he is troubled, and casteth them in into the heap, that
Christ, as the true scape-goat, may carry all away. This is to lay our
hands on the head of our sacrifice.
10. The believer hath another ground of comfort to grip to, in this
case, and that is, Christ's eternal priesthood, whereby he makes
intercession for the transgressions of his people, and as their advocate
and attorney with the Father, pleadeth their cause, whereby he is able
to save them to the last and uttermost step of their journey, and so to
save them from the guilt of all casual and emergent sins, that might
hinder their salvation. So that the believer is to put those sins, that
now he would have pardoned, into the hands of Christ, the everlasting
Intercessor, and all-sufficient Advocate, that he, by virtue of his
death, would obtain a new pardon of these their failings and
transgressions, and deliverance from the guilt thereof; and their
acceptance with the Father, notwithstanding of these transgressions.
11. Thus believers eyeing Christ as dying, rising again, ascending, and
as sitting at the Father's right hand, there to be a priest for ever,
after the order of Melchisedec, and to intercede for his own, and to see
to the application of what benefits, pardons, favours, and other things
they need, from all which they have strong ground of comfort and of
hope, yea, and assurance of pardon, would acquiesce in this way; and
having laid those particular sins, under the burden whereof they now
groan, on Christ the Mediator, dying on the cross to make satisfaction,
and arising to make application of what was purchased, and having put
them in his hand, who is a faithful high priest, and a noble
intercessor, would remember, that "Christ is a prince exalted, to give
repentance and remission of sins;" and so expect the sentence even from
him, as a prince now exalted, and as having obtained that of the Father,
even a power to forgive sins, justice being now sufficiently satisfied,
through his death; yea, and as having all power in heaven and in earth,
as being Lord both of the dead and of the living. Sure a right thought
of this would much quiet the soul, in hope of obtaining pardon through
him; seeing now the pardon is in his own hand, to give out, who loved
them so dearly, that he gave himself to the death for them, and shed his
heart blood to satisfy justice for their transgressions. Since he who
hath procured their pardon at so dear a rate, and is their attorney to
agent their business at the throne of grace, hath now obtained the
prayed-for and looked-for pardon, and hath it in his own hand, they will
not question but he will give it, and so absolve them from their guilt.
12. The believer, having taken this course with his daily provocations,
and laid them all on him, would aquiesce in this way, and not seek after
another, that he may obtain pardon. Here he would rest, committing the
matter by faith in prayer to Christ, and leaving his guilt and sins on
him, expect the pardon, yea, conclude, that they are already pardoned;
and that for these sins, he shall never be brought unto condemnation,
whatever Satan and a misbelieving heart may say or suggest afterward.
Thus should a believer make use of Christ, for the taking away of the
guilt of his daily transgressions; and for further clearing of it, I
shall add a few cautions.
1. However the believer is to be much moved at, and affected with his
sins and provocations, which he committeth after God hath visited his
soul with salvation, and brought him into a covenant with himself, yet
he must not suppose, that his sins after justification do mar his state;
as if thereby he were brought into a non-justified state, or to a
non-reconciled state. It is true, such sins, especially if gross,
whether in themselves, or by reason of circumstances, will darken a
man's state, and put him to search and try his condition over again. But
yet we dare not say, that they make any alteration in the state of a
believer; for once in a justified state always in a justified state. It
is true likewise, that as to those sins, which now he hath committed, he
cannot be said to be acquitted or justified, till this pardon be got out
by faith and repentance, as is said; yet his state remaineth fixed and
unchanged; so that though God should seem to deal with such in his
dispensations, as with enemies, yet really his affections change not; he
never accounteth them real enemies; nay, love lieth at the bottom of all
his sharpest dispensations. If they forsake his law, and walk not in his
judgments; if they break his statutes and keep not his commandments, he
will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with
stripes, nevertheless his loving-kindness will he not utterly take from
them, nor suffer his faithfulness to fail; his covenant will he not
break, nor alter the thing that has gone out of his lips, Psalm lxxxix.
30-34. And again, though after transgressions may waken challenges for
former sins, which have been pardoned and blotted out, and give
occasions to Satan to raise a storm in the soul, and put all in
confusion, yet really sins once pardoned cannot become again unpardoned
sins. The Lord doth not revoke his sentence, nor alter the thing that
is gone out of his mouth. It is true likewise, that a believer, by
committing of gross sins, may come to miss the effects of God's favour
and good will, and the intimations of his love and kindness; and so be
made to cry with David, Psalm li. 8, "Make me to hear joy and gladness;"
and ver. 12, "Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation," &c. Yet that
really holdeth true, that whom he loveth he loveth to the end; and he is
a God that changeth not; and his gifts are without repentance. Yea,
though grieving of the Spirit may bring souls under sharp throes, and
pangs of the spirit of bondage, and the terrors of God, and his sharp
errors, the poison whereof may drink up their spirits, and so be far
from the actual witnessings of the Spirit of adoption; yet the Spirit
will never be again really a spirit of bondage unto fear, nor deny his
own work in the soul, or the soul's real right to, or possession of that
fundamental privilege of adoption,--I say, that the soul is no more a
son, nor within the covenant.
2. The course before mentioned is to be taken with all sins, though,
(1.) They be never so heinous and gross. (2.) Though they be accompanied
with never such aggravating and crying aggravations. (3.) Though they be
sins frequently fallen into; and, (4.) Though they be sins many and
heaped together. David's transgression was a heinous sin, and had
heinous aggravations, yea, there was an heap and a complication of sins
together in that one; yet he followed this course. We find none of these
kind of sins excepted in the new covenant; and where the law doth not
distinguish, we ought not to distinguish; where God's law doth not
expressly exclude us, we should not exclude ourselves. Christ's death is
able enough to take away all sin. If through it a believer be justified
from all his transgressions committed before conversion, why may not
also a believer be, through virtue of it, justified from his gross and
multiplied sins committed after conversion? The blood of Christ
cleanseth from all sin; Christ hath taught his followers to pray,
"Forgive us our sins, as we forgive them that sin against us;" and he
hath told us also, that we must forgive our brother seventy times
seven, Matth. xiii. _22._ We would not be discouraged then from taking
this course, because our sins are such and such; nay, rather, we would
look on this, as an argument to press us more unto this way, because the
greater our sins be, the greater need have we of pardon, and to say with
David, Psalm xxv. 11, "Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great."
3. We would not think, that upon our taking of this course, we shall be
instantly freed from challenges, because of those sins, for pardoning
whereof we take this course; nor should we think, that because
challenges remain, that therefore there is no pardon had, or that this
is not the way to pardon; for, as we shall show afterward, pardon is one
thing, and intimation of pardon is another thing. We may be pardoned,
and yet suppose that we are not pardoned; challenges will abide till the
conscience be sprinkled, and till the Prince of Peace command peace to
the conscience, and put the accuser to silence; who, when he can do no
more, will mar the peace of a believer, as long as he can, and stop the
current of his comforts, which made David pray, that "God would restore
to him the joy of his salvation," Psalm li.
4. Nor would we think, that upon our taking of this course for the
pardon of our sins, we shall never thereafter meet with a challenge upon
the account of these sins. It is true, when sins are pardoned, they are
fully pardoned in God's court, and that obligation to condemnation is
taken away, and the pardoned person is looked upon as no sinner, that
is, as no person liable to condemnation because of these sins; for being
pardoned he becometh just before God; yet we dare not say, but
conscience afterward, being alarmed with new transgressions, may
mistake, as people suddenly put into a fight are ready to do; nor dare
we say, that God will not permit Satan to upbraid us with those sins,
which have been blotted out long ago, as he suffered Shimei, who was but
an instrument of Satan, to cast up to David his blood-guiltiness, which
had been pardoned long before. The Lord may think good to suffer this,
that his people may be kept humble, and made more tender and watchful in
all their ways.
5. Believers would not misimprove or abuse this great condescendency of
free grace, and take the great liberty to sin, because there is such a
sure, safe, and pleasant way of getting those sins blotted out and
forgiven. "Shall we sin because we are not under grace, but under the
law? That be far from us," saith the Apostle, Rom. vi. 15. This were
indeed to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. And it may be a
question, if such as have really repented, and gotten their sins
pardoned, will be so ready to make this use of it; sure sense of pardon
will work some other effect, as we see, Ezek. xvi. 62, 63.
6. The believer, in going about this work of nailing his sins to the
cross of Christ, and of improving Christ's death, resurrection, and
constant intercession, for the obtaining of pardon, would not think of
going alone, or of doing this in his own strength; for of himself he can
do nothing. He must look to Christ for grace to help in this time of
need, and must go about this duty with dependence on him, waiting for
the influence of light, counsel, strength, and grace from him, to repent
and believe; for he is a prince exalted to give repentance, first and
last, and he is the author and finisher of faith; so that without him we
can do nothing.
7. Let the believer beware of concluding, that be hath got no pardon,
because he hath met with no sensible intimation thereof by the flowing
in of peace and joy in his soul. Pardon is one mercy, and intimation of
it to the soul is another distinct mercy, and separable from it: shall
we therefore say, we have not gotten the first, because we have not
gotten both? The Lord, for wise reasons, can pardon poor sinners, and
not give any intimation thereof; viz. that they may watch more against
sin afterward, and not be so bold as they have been; and that they may
find more in experience, what a bitter thing it is to sin against God,
and learn withal to depend on him for less and more; and to carry more
humbly; for it may be, God seeth, that if they saw their sins pardoned,
they would forget themselves, and rush into new sins again.
8. The believer must not think it strange, if he find more trouble after
greater sins, and a greater difficulty to lay hold on Christ for pardon
of those, than for pardon of others. For as God hath been more
dishonoured by these, so is his anger more kindled upon that account;
and it is suitable for the glory of God's justice, that our sorrow for
such sins be proportionally greater; and this will likewise increase the
difficulty; and ordinarily the effects of God's fatherly displeasure
make deeper wounds in the soul after such sins, and these are not so
easily healed; all which will call for suitable and proportionally
greater godly sorrow and repentance, and acts of faith, because faith
will meet with more opposition and discouragement there, and therefore
must be the more strong, to go through these impediments, and to lay
hold on his cross. Yet though this should make all watchful, and to
guard against gross and crying sins, it should not drive any to despair,
nor to say with that despairing wretch, their sin is greater than it can
be forgiven; the ocean of mercy can drown and swallow up greater as well
as lesser sins; Christ is an all-sufficient Mediator for the greatest
sins as well as the least. "O, for thy name's sake, pardon mine
iniquity, for it is great!" will come in season to a soul ready to sink
with the weight of this millstone tied about its neck.
9. As the greater sins should not make us despair of taking this course
for remission, so nor should the smallness of sin make us to neglect
this way; for the least sin cannot be pardoned but through Jesus Christ;
for the law of God is violated thereby, justice provoked, God's
authority vilified, &c. and therefore cannot be now pardoned, by reason
of the threatenings annexed to the law, without a ransom. Death is the
wages of sin, lesser and greater, and the curse is due to all sin,
greater and smaller. There, the believer would not suffer one sin, seen
and discovered, to lie unpardoned, but on the first discovery thereof,
take it away to Christ, and nail it to the cross.
10. The believer would not conclude, that his sins are not pardoned,
because possibly temporal strokes, inflicted because of them, are not
removed; for though David's sin was pardoned, yet because of that sin of
his, a temporal stroke attended him and his family, to his dying day;
for not only did God cut off the child, (2 Sam. xv. 14.), but told him,
that the sword should never depart from his house, and that he would
raise up evil against him out of his own house, and give his wives to
one that should lie with them in the sight of the sun, vers. 10, 11. So
we read, that the Lord took vengeance on their inventions whose sins he
had pardoned, Psalm xcix. 8. God may see this fit and expedient, for his
own glory, and for humbling of them, and causing them to fear the more
to sin against him. Yea, not only may temporal calamities be inflicted,
because of sin pardoned, or continued, after sin is pardoned, but even
sense of God's displeasure may continue after pardon, as appeareth by
that penitential Psalm (the fifty-first) penned by David, after Nathan
had spoken to him concerning his sin.
QUESTIONS OR OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.
1. What course shall we take with secret sins? I answer, this same
course must be followed with them. There is an implicit repentance of
sins that have not been distinctly seen and observed, as who can see and
observe all their failings? And so there may be an implicit faith
acting; that is, the believer being persuaded that he is guilty of more
sins than he hath got a clear sight of, as he would bewail his condition
before God because of these, and sorrow for them after a godly manner,
so he would take them together in a heap, or as a closed bagful, and by
faith nail them to the cross of Christ, as if they were all distinctly
seen and known. "Who can understand his errors," said David, Psalm xix.
12: yet says he moreover, "cleanse thou me from secret faults."
2. But what if, after all this, I find no intimation of pardon to my
soul? _Ans._ As this should serve to keep thee humble, so it should
excite to more diligence, in this duty of going with thy sins to Christ,
and to ply him and his cross more, in and through the promises, and keep
thy soul constant in this duty of the running to Christ, as an
all-sufficient Mediator, and as an intercessor with the Father; and thus
wait on him waiteth to be gracious, even in this particular, of
intimating pardon to thy soul,--he knoweth when it is fittest for thee
to know that thy sins are forgiven.
3. But what can yield me any ground of peace while it is so, that I see
no pardon or remission granted to me? _Ans._ This may yield thee peace,
that, following this course which hath been explained, thou art about
thy duty. Thou art not at peace with sin, nor harbouring that viper in
thy soul; thou art mourning and sorrowing over it, and running to Christ
the prince of pardons, through his blood and intercession, conform to
the covenant of redemption, and after the encouragement given in the
many and precious promises of the covenant of grace; and having these
promises, and rolling thy guilt on Christ as thy cautioner, conform to
the manner expressed in the gospel, thou art allowed to believe that thy
sins are pardoned, and that thou art accepted in the beloved, and so
quiet thy soul through faith, God abiding faithful and true, and his
promises being all yea and amen in Christ.
4. But so long as I find no intimation of pardon, I cannot think that I
have taken the right gospel way of bringing my sins to Christ. _Ans._
Though that will not follow, as we cleared above--for a soul may take
the right gospel way of getting the guilt of their sins taken away in
Christ, and God may pardon thereupon, and for all that not think it fit
to give intimation of that pardon as yet, for wise and holy ends--yet
the soul may humble itself for its shortcoming, and still go about the
duty, amending in Christ what it supposeth to be amiss, and renewing its
act of repentance and faith, and beg of Christ understanding in the
matter, and so continue carrying sin always to Christ's cross, and
eyeing his intercession, and wait for a full clearing of the matter in
his good time.
5. But what shall I do with the guilt of my weak repentance, and weak
faith? _Ans._ When with a weak and defective repentance and faith thou
art carrying away thy sins to Christ, and nailing them, to his cross,
let the imperfection of thy faith and repentance go with the rest, and
leave all there.
6. What shall I do with my conscience, that still accuseth me of guilt,
notwithstanding of my taking and following this course? _Ans._ Despise
not the accusation of conscience, but let these humble thee the more,
and keep thee closer at this duty. Yet know, that conscience is but an
under servant, and God's deputy, and must accuse according to law, (I
speak not here of the irregular, furious, and turbulent motions of
Satan, casting in grenades in the soul and conscience, to raise a
combustion and put all in a fire); its mouth, must be stopped by law,
and so the soul would stay and answer the accusations of conscience with
this, that he hath fled to Christ, the only Mediator and Cautioner, and
cast his burden on him; and leaneth to his merits alone; and hath put
those sins in his hand, as his advocate and intercessor with the Father;
and that the gospel requireth no more of him. And if conscience should
say, that both faith and repentance are imperfect and defective, and
that guilt is thereby rather increased than taken away,--he must answer
again, true; but I have done with the guilt of my faith and repentance,
as with the rest, taken all to Christ, and left all on him; and herein
only do I acquiesce,--I look not for pardon for my imperfect faith and
repentance, yea, nor would I look for pardon of my sins, for my faith
and repentance, were they never so perfect, but only in and through
Jesus Christ, the only Cautioner, Redeemer, and Advocate. But further,
this deputy would be brought to his master, who can only command him to
silence; that is to say, the believer would go to Christ with the
accusing conscience, and desire him to command its silence, that he may
have peace of conscience, and freedom from those accusations that are
bitter and troublesome. Remember withal, that if these accusations drive
thee to Christ, and endear him more to thy soul, they will do no harm,
because they drive thee to thy only resting place, and to the grand
peacemaker. But if otherwise they discourage or for-slow thee in thy
motion Christward, then be sure conscience speaketh without warrant, and
its accusations ought not, in so far, and as to that end, to be
HOW TO MAKE USE OF CHRIST FOR CLEANSING OF US FROM OUR DAILY SPOTS.
Having spoken of the way of making use of Christ for removing the guilt
of our daily transgressions, we come to speak of the way of making use
of Christ, for taking away the guilt that cleaveth to the soul, through
daily transgressions; "for every sin defileth the man," Matt. xv. 20;
and the best are said to have their spots, and to need washing, which
presupposeth filthiness and defilement, Eph. v. 27. John xiii. 8-10.
Hence we are so oft called to this duty of washing and making us clean.
Isa. i. 16. Jer. iv. 14. Acts xxii. 16. David prays for this washing,
Psal. li. 2-7. And it is Christ's work to wash. 1 Cor. vi. 11. Rev. i.
5. Eph. v. 26. See Tit. iii. 5. Now, in speaking to this, we shall
observe the same method; and first shew, what Christ has done to take
away this filth; and next, what way we are to make use of him, for this
end, to get our spots and filthiness taken away, that we may be holy.
As to the _first_, for the purging away of the filth of our daily
failings and transgressions, Christ has done these things:
1. He hath died that he may procure this benefit and advantage to us;
and thus he hath washed us meritoriously in his own blood which he shed
upon the cross. Thus he "loved us, and washed us from our sins, in his
own blood," Rev. i. 5; and this is from all sins, as well such as are
committed after, as such as are committed before conversion. Thus, "he
by himself purged our sins," Heb. i. 3, viz. by offering up of himself
as an expiatory sacrifice to make an atonement, and so procure this
liberty. So also it is said, Eph. v. 25-27, that Christ gave himself for
his church, "that he might sanctify and cleanse it--that he might
present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or
any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish." So,
Tit. ii. 14, "He gave himself for us, that he might purify to himself a
peculiar people, zealous of good works." Here then is the foundation and
ground of all cleansing and purification--Christ's death procuring it.
2. As he hath procured, so he sendeth the Spirit to effectuate this, and
to work this washing and sanctification in us. Hence, it is said, 1 Cor.
vi. 11, "that we are sanctified and washed, in the name of the Lord
Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." We are said to be saved "by the
washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he hath
shed upon us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour," Tit. iii. 5,
6. The sending then, or shedding of the holy and sanctifying Spirit upon
us, whereby we are sanctified, and consequently purified and purged from
our filth, is a fruit of Christ's death and mediation, being purchased
thereby, and is an effect of his resurrection, and glorification, and
intercession in glory.
3. He hath made a fountain of his blood for this end, that we may go to
it daily, and wash and be clean. Thus his "blood cleanseth from all
sin," 1 John i. 7-9. This is the "fountain opened to the house of David,
and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness," Zech.
4. He hath purchased and provided the external means, whereby this
cleansing and sanctification is brought about, viz. the preaching of the
gospel, which he himself preached, and thereby sanctified, John xv. 3,
"Now are ye clean through the word that I have spoken unto you." Eph. v.
26, the church is "sanctified and cleansed with the washing of water, by
5. So hath he procured, and worketh in the soul those graces that
promove and carry on this work of sanctification and purifying; such as
faith, which purifieth the heart, Acts xv. 9; whereof he is the author
and finisher, Heb. xii.; and hope, which whosoever hath, "purifieth
himself, even as he is pure," 1 John iii. 3.
6. He hath confirmed and ratified all the promises of the covenant,
which are ample and large, touching this cleansing and washing, Jer.
xxxv. 8, "And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they
have sinned against me." Ezek. xxxvi. 25, "Then will I sprinkle clean
water upon you, and ye shall be clean from all your filthiness." So
Ezek. xxxvii. 23, "and I will cleanse them." And all the other promises
of the covenant, apprehended by faith, have no small influence on our
cleansing; 2 Cor. vii. 1. "Having therefore these promises, let us
cleanse ourselves," &c.; all which promises are yea and amen in Christ,
2 Cor. i. 20.
Thus Christ made all sure, for the cleansing and washing of his people,
conform to that article of the covenant of redemption, "so shall he
sprinkle many nations," Isa. lii. 15.
_Secondly,_ As to the way of our use-making of Christ for the purging
away of our filth and daily pollutions, believers would take this
1. They would remember and live in the conviction of the exceeding
abominableness and filthiness of sin, which is compared to the vomit of
a dog, and to the mire wherein the sow walloweth, 2 Pet. ii. 22; filthy
rags, Isa. lxiv. 6; to a menstruous cloth, Isa. xxx. 22, and the like,
that this may move them to seek with greater care and diligence, to have
that filth taken away.
2. They would remember also how abominable sin makes them in the eyes of
an holy God, "who cannot behold iniquity," being a God of purer eyes
than to behold it, Hab. i. 13; nor can he look on it; and how therefore
no thing can enter into the New Jerusalem, nor any thing that defileth.
And this will make them so much the more to abhor it, and to seek to be
washed from it.
3. They would look by faith on the blood of Christ that is shed for this
end, to wash filthy souls into; and run to it as a fountain opened for
this end, that they might come to it, and wash and be clean.
4. For their encouragement, they would grip by faith to the promises of
the new covenant, which are large and full.
5. And remember the end of Christ's death, viz., to purchase to himself
a holy people, zealous of good works, to present them to himself holy,
and without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; and this will be further
ground of encouragement.
6. They would put the work by faith in his hand, who hath best skill to
wash a foul soul, and to purge away all their spots; and by faith pray
for and expect the Spirit to sanctify and cleanse them from all their
filthiness; that is, they would make known and spread forth their
abominations before the Lord, and eyeing Christ as the only great High
Priest, whose blood is a fountain to wash in, would lay the work on him,
and by faith put him to wash away that filth, and to purify their souls
by his Spirit, pardoning their bygone iniquities and renewing them in
the Spirit of their minds by grace, that they may walk before him in
fear. Thus they would roll the work on him, and leave it there.
CAUTIONS AND DIRECTIONS.
_First,_ The believer would in all this work be kept in the exercise of
these graces following:
1. Of humility; seeing what a vile, filthy wretch he is, that stands in
need of washing and purging daily, because of his daily pollutions and
2. Of love; considering with what a loving God he hath to do, that hath
provided so liberally all things for him, and particularly hath provided
a fountain, and such a fountain, whereto he not only may, but is
commanded to resort daily.
3. Of thankfulness; remembering how great this mercy is, how unworthy he
is, on whom it is bestowed, and who he is that doth grant it.
4. Of fear; lest God's goodness be abused, and he provoked who is so
gracious to us.
5. Of sincerity, and godly ingenuity, avoiding all hypocrisy and
formality, knowing that we have to do with him, who will not be mocked.
6. Of holy hatred; loathing and abhorrence of sin, which makes us so
filthy and odious in the eyes of the Lord.
_Secondly,_ This course would be followed for the purging away of the
least sins; for till they be purged away, we remain in our filth, and
cannot expect God's favourable countenance, nor his warm embracements,
nor the hearty intimations of his love and kindness. And a small
inconsiderable like spot may grow greater, and provoke God to let the
accuser of the brethren, Satan, who always waits for his opportunity,
loose upon us, and a conscience wakened may make much of a little
defilement to keep the soul from approaching to God.
3. This course would be followed with every sin, quickly without delay;
for the longer those spots continue, it will be the more difficult to
get them taken away. The soul will after some time, become the less
troubled about them, and possibly forget them, and so they will remain;
and this may occasion at last a sad distance, and provoke God to hide
his face, which will cause more bitterness and sorrow. It were good,
then, to keep up a spirit of tenderness and fear.
4. Let this be our daily work and exercise; for we are daily contracting
new filth. Yesterday's cleansing will not save us from new filth to-day;
nor will our running to the fountain to-day, serve to take away new
spots to-morrow; new spots call for new washing, so that this must be
our very life and exercise, to be daily and continually running to the
fountain with our souls; and giving Christ, the great purger, much to
5. We must not think to be perfectly washed, so long as we are here; for
we will be contracting new filth daily, our feet will still be to wash,
John xiii. 10. We will not be without spot or wrinkle, till we come home
to that place, wherein entereth nothing that defileth.
6. Let the believer's recourse in this matter be wholly to Jesus Christ
and his blood, and lay no weight on their sorrow, repentance, or tears,
or on any outward means which they are commanded to use; yet would they
not lay aside these means, but go through them to the fountain, to
Jesus, there, and there only to be cleansed.
7. They should not be discouraged or despair when their spots appear
great, and not like the spots of his children; for Christ's blood can
purge from all sin, and wash away all their filth, of how deep soever a
dye it be. Christ's blood is so deep an ocean, that a mountain will be
sunk out of sight in it, as well as a small pebble stone.
8. Though Christ's blood be strong enough to purge from all sin, even
the greatest, yet they should know, that scandalous spots, or a deep
stain, may cost them more frequent running to the fountain, through
humiliation, godly sorrow, prayer, and supplication. David's scandalous
blot cost him more trouble and pains, before he got it purged away, than
many others, as we see, Psalm li.
9. When all this is done, we must think of having on another
righteousness, as our clothing and covering, in the day of our
appearance before our Judge--even the righteousness of Jesus Christ,
which only is perfect, and able to save us from the wrath of God. Let us
be never so washed in the matter of sanctification, and cleansed from
our spots, we cannot for all that be accounted righteous before God; nor
will that satisfy justice, or take away the guilt so much as of one
transgression before God. Christ's righteousness will be our upper
garment for all eternity. This is the fine linen wherewith his bride is
busked in heaven.
10. At every time we run to the fountain with our daily contracted
filth, we would not forget to carry along with us the mother corruption,
which is the sink and puddle of all filthiness; I mean our natural
corrupted rottenness and pollution, from whence flow all our other
actual pollutions. We would do well to carry mother and daughter both
together to the fountain. David prayed to be washed and purged, as well
from his original filthiness, wherein he was conceived and born, as from
his blood-guiltiness. Psalm li. 5, 7.
11. Let not this occasion our carelessness in watching against sin; for
that would be, to turn his grace into wantonness; but rather let it
sharpen our diligence in watching against all occasions of sin, lest we
again defile our soul.
12. Not only must we have our bodies, or our outward conversation
washed, but our soul within, the frame of our heart, our understanding,
will, affections, and conscience, sprinkled with that blood. The blood
of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit "offered himself without spot
to God," must purge our Consciences from dead works, to serve the living
God, Heb. ix. 14. and we must "have our hearts, sprinkled from an evil
conscience," Heb. x. 22.
_Finally,_ If the believer fear that he shall not be able to remember
all these particular duties, let him remember this, viz. to put a foul
soul, defiled with original and actual pollutions, in Christ's hand
daily, and leave it to him to wash by his blood and Spirit; and yet
remember to lay the weight of his acceptance before God, upon the
imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, and not upon his own cleanness,
when thus sanctified and washen, which is but imperfect.
QUESTIONS OR OBJECTIONS ANSWERED.
But, alas! some may object, and say, that their very faith, which must
carry the rest of their filth to the fountain of Christ's blood, is
defiled. How, then, can they expect to be made clean? _Answer._ The
blood of Jesus Christ is sufficiently able to wash all our filth away;
and the filth of faith, as well as of other actions. Therefore, when
faith, as a hand, is carrying the filth of the soul away to Christ to be
washed in his blood, let the foul hand go with the foul handful; give
Christ faith and all to wash.
2. But what shall I do, when, notwithstanding of all this, my conscience
shall still accuse me of uncleanness, and cry out against me as filthy
and abominable? _Answer._ Take it away also to the blood of Jesus, that
there it may be purged, Heb. ix. 14; and here alone will we "get our
hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience," Heb. x. 22. The conscience
must be steeped, so to speak, in the blood of Jesus, and so it shall be
clean. And taking our filthy hearts to this cleansing fountain to be
washed, we will get them delivered and sprinkled from an evil
conscience, that it shall no more have ground of accusation against us.
When we have it to say, that we have put our filthy souls in the hand of
the great cleanser, Jesus Christ, and brought all our pollutions to his
blood, what can conscience say to us? The Lord, it is true, may suffer
our conscience still to bark upon us, and cast up our filthiness to us,
that we may be the more humbled, and be put to lie more constantly at
the fountain; yet when we have fled to Christ, and taken our filthiness
to the open and appointed fountain, we can answer the accusations of
conscience in law, and have peace.
3. But I am apt to think, will some say, that if I had once taken the
right way to get my sins and filthiness purged away, my conscience would
trouble me no more; but now, so long as it doggeth me thus, I cannot
think that the way which I have taken is the right way. _Answer._ Though
the Lord may think good to suffer conscience to trouble a man for a
time, though he hath taken the right way, as is said, for a further
exercise and trial to him; yet the believer will have no less
disadvantage by examining his way, and trying whether he hath laid the
matter cleanly over on Christ, or whether he hath laid too much weight
on his own humiliation, sorrow, and pains; and whether he be leaving the
matter on Jesus, and expecting to be washed alone in his blood, or
looking into himself, and expecting some help in the matter from self;
and after trial, would mourn for any failing he gets discovered, and
still be about that work of running with filth to the fountain. But
withal they would go to Christ for help, because without him they cannot
come to him; they cannot come or carry their soul to the fountain opened
for sin and for uncleanness; so that in all this work, there would be a
single dependence on Christ for understanding and strength to go about
this work aright.
Thus have we endeavoured to clear up Christ being the way to the Father,
first and last; and how all believers or unbelievers are to make use of
him as the way to the Father, whatever their condition be: from all
which we may see,
1. That such are in a wretched and forlorn condition who are still
strangers to Christ, and will not lay hold on him, nor come to him, and
walk in him, and make use of him. They are unrighteous and unholy, and
daily contracting more guilt and more filth; and they know no way either
for justification or sanctification, but a way of self, which will prove
like the brooks, which run dry in summer, and disappoint the weary
traveller when he hath most need. They are without Christ, and so
without the way, the only way, the safe and sure way to the Father. And,
oh! if all that is here spoken could induce them to think once of the
misery of their condition, and to seek out for relief, that they might
not only be saved from their state of sin and misery, but brought into a
state of salvation through Jesus Christ, so that they might be justified
before God, from all that justice, the devil, the law, or conscience
could lay against them, and thoroughly sanctified, and so at length
brought home to the Father, fair and spotless.
2. Upon the other hand, we see the noble advantage of believers, who,
through grace, are entered in this way; for it is a full and complete
way that shall carry them safe home. They shall find that he is able to
save to the uttermost all that come to God through him. And, oh! if they
were sensible of this, how would it excite them to thankfulness! How
would it encourage them to run through difficulties great and many!
3. We see what a special duty lieth upon believers to make special use
of Christ in all things, as the way to the Father, and so march to
heaven in him, as the only way; march in his hands, or rather be carried
in his arms and bosom. This were to go from strength to strength, till
at length they appeared in Zion, and landed in that pleasant place of
rest, where the weary are at rest, and yet rest not day nor night, but
sing praises to "him that hath redeemed them by his blood, out of every
kindred and tongue, and people and nation, saying, blessing, honour,
glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the
Lamb for ever and ever," Rev. v. 9, 13.
4. Hence we may see the cause of the leanness of believers, of their
wanderings, of their shortcomings, of their many defilements, &c. viz.
their not constant making use of Christ as the way in all things,
according to the tenor of the gospel. Oh I if this were laid to heart
and mourned for, and if grace were sought to help it!
This one point of truth, that Christ is the way, well understood and
rightly put into practice, would do all our business, both as to
justification and sanctification, and were poor sinners once entered
into this way, and had they grace from this way to walk in it, it would
prove their life and salvation: For it is the marrow and substance of
the whole gospel. So that there needeth little more to be said: Yet we
shall speak a little to the other particulars in the text.
"THE TRUTH." SOME GENERALS PROPOSED.
That what we are to speak to for the clearing and improving this noble
piece of truth, that Christ is the Truth, may be the more clearly
understood and edifying, we shall first take notice of some generals,
and then show particularly how or in what respects Christ is called the
Truth; and finally speak to some cases wherein we are to make use of
Christ as the Truth.
As to the first. There are four general things here to be noticed.
1. This supposeth what our case by nature is, and what we are all
without Christ, who is the Truth: as,
_First._ It supposeth that without Christ we are in darkness, mistakes,
errors: yea, we are said to be darkness itself. Eph. v. 8, "Ye were
sometimes darkness," &c. John i. 5, and of darkness; 1 Thess. v. 5, yea,
under the "power of darkness;" Col. i. 13. John xii. 35. 1 John ii. 11,
"walking in darkness;" 1 John i. 6, and "abiding in darkness." 1 Pet.
ii. 9. 1 Thess. v. 4. John xii. 46, "We wander and go astray as soon as
we are born, speaking lies," Psal. lviii. 3. Yea, we "go astray in the
greatness of our folly," Prov. v. 22. We are "all gone astray," Isa.
liii. 6. Psal. cxix. 67-176; so far are we from any knowledge of, or
acquaintance with truth, or with the way of truth.
_Secondly._ It supposeth that we cannot turn into the right way. A
spirit of error and untruth leadeth us continually wrong; like the sheep
we wander still, and we weary ourselves in our wandering; and so spend
all our labour and pains in vain. Being under the power of untruth and
error, we cannot walk one step right.
_Thirdly._ Though all other ways, beside him who only is the way and the
truth, be false ways and by-ways, leading us away from the true
resting-place, and from that way which is the truth; yet we are prone
and ready to cleave to those false and erroneous ways, and grip to
shadows, and to lean to them, as if they were the ways of truth: Such
1. A good heart, which many may imagine they have, when they have
2. Good intentions and purposes for time to come, which such, as were
not under the power of error and untruth, would never deceive themselves
3. An harmless life, without scandalous out-breakings to the reproach of
Christianity, a foundation on which no wise man, led by truth, would
build his salvation, or hopes of eternal happiness.
4. An outward, moral, civil and discreet carriage, which no man can
blame, and wherein a heathen can outstrip many called Christians; so
that it must be a poor ground to found our hopes upon; and yet many are
so blinded, that they lean all their weight upon such a rotten staff.
5. Outward exercise of religious duties, wherein a Pharisee may outstrip
many; and yet, O how many build all their hopes of heaven upon this
sandy foundation, which none but blinded persons would do!
6. The commendation and applause of ministers and Christians, is that
which many rest upon, which is a sad proof of the blindness of their
7. The way of good works and alms-deeds blindfoldeth many, and sheweth
that they were never led by truth, or taught of Christ, who is the
8. Some pinching grief and sorrow for sin, is another way which people,
strangers to the truth, deceive themselves withal.
9. A common sort of repentance, backed with some kind of amendment and
outward reformation, is a way that many rest secure in, though it lead
10. Freedom from challenges of conscience deceiveth many.
Though these and such like ways be dangerous, yea, deadly, yet how many
are there to be found among Christians, that have no better ground of
their hope of salvation, and will cleave to them so fast, as no
preaching will make them so much as once question the matter, or suspect
that these ways will in the end deceive them; so strong is their
inclination to the way of error, though not as the way of error.
_Fourthly._ It presupposeth also an inclinableness in us by nature to
wander out of the way; for being nothing but a mass of error, made up of
darkness, ignorance, and mistakes, we have a strong bias to error, which
agreeth best with our natural, corrupted temper. Hence it is, that we
have such a strong propension to errors and mistakes: Whether,
1. Concerning God, and his way of dealing with his church, or with
ourselves. O how ready are our hearts by nature, to hatch and foment
wrong, unseemly, untrue, yea, unchristian, if not blasphemous thoughts
and conceptions of his nature, attributes, word, and works? And how
ready and prone are we to receive and entertain wrong apprehensions of
all his ways and dealings with his church and people? And as for his
works in and about ourselves, O! what unsuitable, erroneous, false,
ungodly, absurd, and abominable opinions do we with greediness drink in
and foster; yea, feed upon with delight? Who is able to recount all the
errors and mistakes which our heart by nature is ready to admit and
foster with complacency? Are we not by nature ready to say, that there
is not a God,--as the fool, Psal. xiv. 1. Or, that he is not such a God
as his word and works declare him to be--a holy, just, righteous,
omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God, &c. Or that he is a changeable
God, and actually changed, not being the same now which sometime he was.
That he hath forgotten to be gracious, and remembereth not his people in
adversity; and so is not tender and merciful. That he hath forgotten his
promises, and so is not faithful and true. That he approveth of sin,
because he suffereth the way of the wicked to prosper, and so is not a
holy God, &c. Yea, do not ofttimes such thoughts as these lodge within
the heart of the truly godly? All which sheweth how prone we are to
receive and entertain erroneous and false thoughts of God.
2. Concerning ourselves. Supposing ourselves to be born again and
reconciled to God, when yet we are living in black nature: And who so
bold and confident that they are right, as they that are furthest out of
the way? Or, on the other hand, supposing ourselves to be in a bad
state, and in nature and darkness, when the day-star from on high hath
visited us, and brought our souls from death unto life. And who more
ready to complain than such as have least cause? Or supposing ourselves
in a good condition; lively, active, diligent, watchful, &c, when it is
just otherwise with us: Or, on the contrary, complaining of deadness,
formality, upsitting, fainting, heartlessness in the ways of God, when
it is not so. Or, in questioned matters, taking truth to be error, and
error to be truth.
3. Concerning others. How ready are we to run either to the one
extremity or the other in judging their persons and actions?
Oh! where is the faith of this natural condition? where is the real
conviction of it? Sure there is but little real believing of this when,
(1.) There are so many that never so much as suspect themselves or
question either their state or condition, at one time or other; never
once imagine that their blinded hearts may deceive them; never once
dream of a possibility of mistaking, and of dying with a lie in their
(2.) And so many that are not lamenting and bewailing this their
condition, nor crying out and complaining of a false, deceitful, and
desperately wicked heart.
(3.) And so few that are indeed humbled under the sense of this, and
made therefore to walk more watchfully and soberly with an eye always
upon their treacherous and deceiving hearts.
(4.) And so few, crying for help from God against this deceitful
adversary, through daily experience of the atheism, hypocrisy,
ignorance, misconceptions of God and of his ways, and deceitfulness of
our hearts, might sufficiently put it out of doubt with us.
_Next,_ How miserable must their condition be, who are yet strangers to
Christ; for they are living in darkness, lying in darkness, walking in
darkness, yea, very darkness itself, a mass of error, mistakes,
ignorance, and misconceptions of all things that are good; and still
wandering out of the way.
_Finally,_ Should not this preach out to, and convince us all of a
necessity of having more acquaintance with truth, with Jesus Christ, who
is the truth, that we may be delivered from this woful and wretched
condition; for truth only can set us free therefrom.
II. The _second_ general thing to be noticed here is, that all other
ways and courses, which we can take or follow, that we may obtain life,
beside Christ, are but lies, false and deceitful ways,--there is no
truth in them: For he only is the truth; no other whatsoever can bear
this epithet: For,
1. He only can satisfy the soul in all points otherways; whatever we can
imagine and dream can yield no true satisfaction in this matter.
2. He only can secure the soul from destructive ruinous courses, which
will undo the soul. All other ways will fail here; none of them can give
the least security to the soul, that they shall not bring him, in end,
to destruction and everlasting perdition.
3. He only can bring the soul safe through all opposition and
difficulties in the way. No other way can do this; but will leave us in
the mire, ere ever we come to the end of our journey.
4. He will not deceive nor disappoint the soul. All other ways in end
will prove treacherous, and give the traveller a doleful and sad
O what a warning should this be to us all, to take heed that we embrace
not a lie, instead of him who is the truth; and sit not down with a
shadow instead of the substance. How ready are we to put other things in
his place? But whatever it be that gets his room in the soul, though
good and worthy in itself, will prove a lie. Even, (1.) All our outward
holiness and duties. Yea, (2.) All our experiences and great
attainments. Yea, (3.) All our gifts and endowments. Aye, (4.) Our very
graces. None of these are Christ's; and if we place that hope and
confidence in them, which we should place on him, they will not prove
the truth to us,--he alone is the truth.
How sure then should we labour to be, that we do not die with a lie in
our right hand. And how carefully should we guard against the trusting
in, or leaning to any thing that is not Christ, and whole Christ, and
only Christ, and Christ as offered in the gospel; seeing this way is
only the truth, and no other way will be found so in end, though at
present we may find in it,
(1.) Some inward peace and quietness of heart, as if all were right.
(2.) Some satisfaction of mind, things being right, as we apprehend, but
falsely, through the deceitfulness of the heart.
(3.) Something like assurance and confidence, that all will be right
(4.) And hope founded thereupon, which may help to ride through some
storms, and yet fail us at length.
III. The _third_ general is this, Christ Jesus is not only the truth in
himself, but also in reference to us. The scope of the place cleareth
this, as he is the way and the life for our use, so he is the truth. Not
only as God equal with the Father, but also as Mediator, and our
As God, he is, 1. Essentially truth, being God equal with the Father in
power and glory.
2. In respect of veracity, he is the God of truth, Deut. xxxii. 4;
faithful in all his sayings, Ps. xxxi. 5; keeping truth for ever, Ps.
3. He is the fountain and spring-head of all created truth, for he is
the first truth.
As Mediator, and in reference to us, "he is full of grace and truth,"
John i. 14; "he received not the Spirit in measure," John iii. 34; and
this Spirit is a Spirit of truth. But of this more, when we come to
shew more particularly, how and in what respects he is called the truth,
IV. The _fourth_ general, which is here observable, is, that he is not
only called "Truth," but "the Truth," as he is the way and the life; and
not only true, but truth in the abstract. Which saith,
1. That he is every way Truth, however we consider him, as God, or as
2. That all truth is in him; all truth of salvation for us is to be
found in him.
3. That all that is in him is truth, his natures, offices, performances,
words, works, &c, all are true.
4. That he is pure and unmixed truth; no lie in him, no error or mistake
5. That truth in him is in its perfection and excellency. In the truest
of men it is very imperfect.
O what an excellent one must he be! How completely fitted and furnished
for us! Oh! if our souls could love him, and close with him, and rest
upon him as all-sufficient!
MORE PARTICULARLY, IN WHAT RESPECT CHRIST IS CALLED THE TRUTH.
But for further explaining of this matter, we would see more
particularly, in what respects it is, that he is called the truth; and
this will make way to our use-making of him. So,
_First,_ He is the Truth, in opposition to the shadows and types of him,
under the law. Hence, as "the law," the whole Levitical and typical
dispensation, "came by Moses, so grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,"
John i. 17. They were all shadows of him, and he is the substance and
body of them all, Col. ii. 17; and this is true in these respects:
1. All these shadows and types pointed at him, and directed, as with a
finger, the Israelites, who were under that dispensation, to look to
Christ, the promised Messiah, and to rest, and to lay all their weight
on him. So that the law was a shadow of good things to come, Heb. x. 1.
Col. ii. 17.
2. They all terminate in him, he putting an end, by his coming and
performing his work, to all those types which only related to him, and
to what he was to do; the body being come, there is no more need of the
shadow and the thing typified existing, there is no more need or use of
3. They are all fulfilled in him; he answereth them all fully, so that
whatever was shadowed forth by them is completely to be found in him.
This the apostle, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, abundantly evinceth.
And Paul to the Colossians, tells us, "we are complete in him," and
therefore need no more follow the shadows.
_Secondly,_ He is the Truth in reference to the prophecies of old; all
which did principally point at him and his concernments, his person,
nature, offices, work, kingdom, &c.; and whatever was foretold in these
prophecies is perfectly fulfilled in him, or done by him, or shall in
due time be effectuated by him. He is that great prophet spoken of, Deut
xviii. 15, 18, 19. So said the Jews themselves, John vi. 14. All the
prophets from Samuel spoke of him and of his days, Acts iii. 22-24. "And
to him gave all the prophets witness," Acts x. 43. And whatever they
prophesied or witnessed of him, was, or is in due time to be fulfilled
in him. Hence, we find the evangelists and apostles frequently applying
the sayings and prophecies of the Old Testament unto him. And Luke
(chap. iv. 18,) himself said the prophecy of Isaiah lxi. 1, &c., was
fulfilled in him. See 1 Pet. x. 11, 12. And himself expounded to the two
disciples going to Emmaus, in all the Scriptures, beginning at Moses and
all the prophets, all the things concerning himself, Luke xxiv. 27. And
thus is he the Truth of all the prophecies.
_Thirdly,_ He is the Truth, in reference to his undertaking with the
Father in that glorious covenant of redemption; for whatever the Father
laid on him to do, that he did fully and faithfully. "He was to bear
our griefs, to carry our sorrows;" and that he did. "He was to be
wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities; the
chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we were to be
healed," Isa. liii. 5; and so it was, Rom. iv. 25. 1 Cor. xv. 3. 1 Pet.
ii. 23. "His soul was to be made an offering for sin," Isa. liii. 10,
and so it was; for he offered up himself a sacrifice for sin. Yea, all
that he was to do, by virtue of that covenant, he did it perfectly, so
as he cried out, while hanging on the cross, "It is finished," John xix.
30; and, in his prayer, John xvii., he told his Father, verse 4, that he
had glorified him on earth, and had finished the work which he gave him
to do; so that the Father was well pleased with him, Matt. iii. 17; xii.
18; and xvii. 5. Mark i. 11. Luke iii. 22.
_Fourthly,_ He is the Truth, in respect of his offices which he took
upon him for our good; for all the duties of these offices which he was
to do, and what remaineth to be done, he will perfect in due time. Did
he take upon him the office of a prophet? He did fully execute the same,
in revealing mediately and immediately the whole counsel of God, John i.
18; and xv. 15. Eph. iv. 11, 12, 13. Acts xx. 32. 1 Pet. 10, 11, 12.
Heb. i. 2. Did he take upon him the office of a priest? So did he fulfil
the same, offering up himself an expiatory sacrifice to God, Heb. ix.
28; and ii. 17; and becoming a priest, and living for ever to make
intercession for us, Heb. vii. 25. And did he take on the office and
function of a King? So doth he execute the same, calling a people to
himself out of the world by his word and Spirit--Acts xv. 14, 15, 16.
Isa. lv. 4, 5. Psalm cx. 3--erecting a visible church, a company of
visible professors to profess and declare his name; which, as his
kingdom, he ruleth with his own officers, laws and penalties, or
censures; so that the government is on his shoulders, Isaiah ix. 6, 7,
who is the head of the body, the church, Eph. i. 22, 23. Col. i. 18; and
this his kingdom he ruleth, in a visible manner, by his own officers,
&c. Ephes. iv. 11, 12. 1 Cor. xii. 28. Isaiah xxxiii. 22. Matt. xviii.
17, 18. 1 Cor. v. 4, 5; and further, he executes this office by
effectually calling the elect, giving them grace, Acts v. 3; rewarding
the obedient, Rev. xxii. 12; ii. 10; chastising the disobedient, Rev.
iii. 19; bringing his own home at length, through all their temptations,
afflictions, and overcoming all their enemies, 1 Cor. xv. 25. Psalm cx.;
and at length he shall do the part of a king, when he shall judge quick
and dead at the last day, 2 Thess. i. 8, 9. Acts xvii. 31. 2 Tim. iv. 1.
_Fifthly,_ He is the Truth in this regard, that he fully answers all the
titles and names which he had got. As he was called Jesus, so did he
save his people from their sins, Matt. i. 21. As he was called Christ,
so was he anointed with the Spirit without measure, John iii. 34. Psalm
xlv. 7; and separated for his work, and endued with all power for that
effect, Job vi. 27. Matt. xxviii. 18, 19, 20; and established to be a
prophet, Acts iii. 21, 22. Luke iv. 18, 21; a priest, Heb. v. 5, 6, 7;
iv. 14, 15; and a king, Psalm ii. 6. Isaiah ix. 6, 7. Matt. xxi. 5.
Phil. ii. 8-11. Was he called "Immanuel," Isaiah vii. 14? So was he
indeed God with us, being God and man in one person for ever. Was he
called "Wonderful," Isaiah ix. 6? So was he indeed in his two distinct
natures in one person; at which the angels may wonder, Eph. iii. 10, 11.
1 Pet. i. 12. 1 Tim. iii. 16. Was he called "Counsellor?" So was he
indeed, coming out from the Father's bosom, with the whole counsel of
God concerning our salvation, John i. 14, 18; iii. 13; v. 20, and xv.
15. Was he called the "mighty God?" So was he indeed, Psalm cx. 1. Matt.
xxii. 44. Heb. i. 13. Psalm xlv. 6. Heb. i. 8. Jer. xxiii. 6, and
xxxiii. 16. Mal. iii. 1. Matt. xi. 10. Psalm lxxxiii. 18. Luke i. 76.
John i. 1; xiv. 1. John v. 20. Tit. ii. 13. Rom. ix. 5. Was he called
the "everlasting Father?" So is he the Father of eternity, being (as
some interpret the word) the author of eternal life, which he giveth to
all that believe in him, John vi. 39, 40, 47, 51; viii. 51; x. 28; xi.
25, 26. Heb. v. 9, and vii. 25. Was he called the "Prince of Peace?" So
is he the Prince of Peace indeed, being our peace, Mic. v. 5. Eph. ii.
14; making up peace between God and us, Isaiah liii. 5, and liii. 19.
Eph. ii. 17. Col. i. 20. Hence his gospel is the gospel of peace, and
his ministers ambassadors of peace, Isaiah lii. 7. Rom. x. 15. 2 Cor. v.
19, 20. Eph. vi. 15. And he giveth peace to all his, Zech. ix. 10. John
xiv. 27; xvii. 33. Rom. v. 1; viii. 16, and xiv. 17. 2 Thes. iii. 17.
Was he called the "Lord our Righteousness?" Jer. xxiii. 6; so is he the
same indeed, bringing in everlasting righteousness, Dan. ix. 24; and
"being made of God to us righteousness," 1 Cor. i. 30; and making us
righteous, 2 Cor. v. 21.
_Sixthly,_ He is the Truth in reference to the promises, which,
1. Centre all in him, and lead to him as the great promise.
2. Are founded all upon him, who is the only Mediator of the covenant of
3. Are confirmed all by him, and made yea and amen in him, 2 Cor. i. 20.
He confirmed the promises made to the fathers, Rev. xv. 8.
4. Are all dispensed and given out by him, who is the executor of his
own testament, and the great dispensator of all that we need; so that
what we ask of the Father he giveth it himself, John xiv. 13, 14.
_Seventhly,_ He is the Truth, in that he fully answereth all the hopes
and expectations of his people. He shall not be found a liar unto them,
whatever Satan may suggest unto them, or a misbelieving heart may prompt
them to conceive, and their jealousy may make them apprehend; and
whatever his dispensations may now seem to say. In end they shall all
find, that he is the truth, fully satisfying all their desires; and
granting all that ever they could hope for, or expect from him. They
shall at length be satisfied with his likeness, Psalm xvii. 15; yea,
abundantly satisfied with the fatness of his house, Psalm xxxvi. 8; and
with his goodness, Psalm lxv. 4; and that as with marrow and fatness,
Psalm lxiii. 5. One sight of his glory will fully satisfy, and cause
them to cry out, enough! Jeremiah is now saying, as once he did in the
bitterness of his soul, through the power of corruption and temptation,
(chap. xv. 18.) "wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as
waters that fail?"
_Eighthly,_ He is the Truth, in opposition to all other ways of
1. There is no salvation now by the law of works, that covenant being
once broken cannot any more save; the law cannot now do it, in that it
is weak through the flesh, Rom. viii. 3.
2. There is no salvation now by the law of Moses without Christ: hence
Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, did not attain to
the law of righteousness, because they sought it not by faith, but as it
were by the works of the law, Rom. ix. 31, 32. They went about to
establish their own righteousness, and did not submit themselves unto
the righteousness of God, Rom. x. 3.
3. There is no salvation by any thing mixed in with Christ, as the
apostle fully cleareth in his epistle to the Galatians.
4. There is no salvation by any other way or medium, which mart can
invent or fall upon, whereof there are not a few, as we shewed above:
"for there is not another name given under heaven, by which we can be
saved," but the name of Jesus, Acts iv. 12. No religion Will save but
So that he is the true salvation, and he only is the true salvation; and
he is the sure and safe salvation: such as make use of him shall not be
mistaken nor disappointed, Isaiah xxxv. 8.
_Ninthly,_ He is the Truth, in respect of his leading and guiding his
people in the truth: hence he is called "a teacher from God," John iii.
2; and one that "teacheth the way of God in truth," Matt. xxii. 16. "A
prophet mighty in deed and word," Luke xxiv. 19. And in this respect he
is the truth upon several accounts.
1. Of his personal teaching, God spoke by him, Heb. i. 2. He revealed
the Father's mind, Matt. xi. 27. John i. 18.
2. Of his messengers sent by him, as prophets of old, apostles and
ministers of late, whom he sendeth forth to make disciples, Matt,
xxviii. 18; and to open the eyes of the blind, Acts xxvi. 18.
3. Of his word, which he hath left as our rule, and which is a sure,
word of prophecy, more sure than a voice from heaven, 2 Pet. i. 19.
4. Of his ordinances, which he hath established as means to guide us in
the way of truth.
5. Of his Spirit, whereby he maketh the word clear, John xiv. 26. This
Spirit is sent to teach all truth, and to lead and guide us in all
truth, John xvii. 13. 1 John ii. 27; and sept by him, and by the Father
in his name, John xiv. 26; xv. 16; xvi. 14.
6. Of his dispensations of providence, within us and without us, by
which likewise he instructeth in the way of truth.
_Tenthly._ He, is the Truth, in, respect of his bearing witness to, the
truth; and this he doth,
1. By himself, who was given for a witness, Isaiah lv. 4; and came to
bear witness to the truth, John iii. 11; xviii. 37; and was a faithful
witness, Rev. i. 5; iii. 14,
2. By his ministers, who witness the truth of the gospel by publishing
and proclaiming the same.
3. By his martyrs, who seal the truth with their blood, and so bear
witness to it, Rev. ii. 13; xvii. 6. Acts xxii. 20.
4. By his Spirit, sealing the truth of grace in a believer, and his
interest in God through Christ, and his right to all the benefits of the
new covenant, "in whom also, after ye believed, ye were sealed with that
Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance," Eph.
i. 13, 14.
_Eleventhly._ He is the Truth, in respect that he carrieth towards poor
sinners in all things, according to the tenor of the gospel, and the
offers thereof; he offers himself to all freely, and promiseth to put
none away that come to him; and this he doth in truth: for no man can
say, that he had a sincere and true desire to come to Jesus, and that he
rejected him and would not look upon him. He giveth encouragement to all
sinners to come, that will be content to quit their sins; and promiseth
to upbraid none that cometh. And is there any that in their own
experience can witness the contrary? He offers all freely; and did he
ever reject any upon the want of a price in their hand? Nay, hath not
the cause of their getting no admittance been, that they thought to
commend themselves to Christ by their worth; and would not take all
freely, for the glory of his grace? Let believers and others speak here,
out of their own experience, in truth and in uprightness; and it shall
be found, that he was and is the truth.
_Twelfthly._ He is the Truth, in that, in all his dispensations in the
gospel, and in all his works and actions in and about his own people, he
is true and upright. All his offers, all his promises, all his
dispensations, are done in truth and uprightness; yea, all are done out
of truth and uprightness of love, true tenderness and affection to them,
whatever the corruption of jealousy and misbelief think and say to the
contrary. He is the truth; and so always the same, unchangeable in his
love, whatever his dispensations seem to say; and the believer may rest
assured hereof, that he being the truth, shall be to him whatever his
word holdeth him forth to be, and that constantly and unchangeably.
SOME GENERAL USES FROM THIS USEFUL TRUTH, THAT CHRIST IS THE TRUTH.
Having thus cleared up this truth, we should come to speak of the way of
believers making use of him as the truth, in several cases wherein they
will stand in need of him as the truth. But ere we come to the
particulars, we shall first propose some general uses of this useful
_First._ This point of truth serveth to discover unto us, the woful
condition of such as are strangers to Christ the truth; and oh, if it
were believed! For,
1. They are not yet delivered from that dreadful plague of blindness,
error, ignorance, mistakes under which all are by nature; a condition,
that if rightly seen, would cause the soul lie low in the dust.
2. Whatever course they take, till they come to Christ, and while they
remain in that condition, is a lie, and a false, erroneous, and
deceitful way. For still they are turning aside to lies, Psalm xl. 4;
and seeking after them, Psalm iv. 2.
3. Whatever hopes and confidence they may have, that their way shall
carry them through, yet in end they will be found to inherit lies, Jer.
xvi. 19; and meet with the saddest disappointment that can be. For
instead of the fellowship of God, Christ, angels, and glorified spirits,
they shall take up their lodging with devils and damned souls; and that
because they have made no acquaintance with the way of truth; and the
way wherein they are, is but a lie and a falsehood; and so of necessity
must deceive them.
4. All their literal and speculative knowledge shall not avail them, so
long as they are strangers unto him who is the truth. Their knowledge is
but ignorance, because it is not a knowledge of him who is the truth.
5. They have none to go to for help and light in the day of their
darkness, confusion, and perplexity; for they are not reconciled unto
the truth, which alone can prove steadable and comfortable in that day.
6. They can do nothing to help themselves out of that state of darkness
and ignorance; and whatever they do to help themselves shall but
increase their darkness and misery; because there is no truth there, and
truth, even the truth alone, can dispel these clouds of error, mistakes,
_Secondly._ Hence, we see the happy and blessed condition of believers,
who have embraced this truth, and gotten their souls opened to him who
is the truth; for,
1. They are in part delivered from that mass of lies, mistakes,
misapprehensions, errors, deceitfulness and ignorance under which they
lay formerly, and all the unregenerate do yet lie. And though they be
not fully delivered therefrom, yet the day is coming when that shall be,
and the begun work of grace and truth in them is a pledge thereof; and
at present they have ground to believe, that that evil shall not again
have dominion over them, they being now under grace, and under the
guidance of truth.
2. Howbeit they have many perplexing thoughts, doubts and fears of their
state and condition, and think many a time, that they shall one day or
other perish by the way; and all their hopes and confidence shall
evanish; yet having given up themselves to truth, and to the truth, they
shall not be disappointed in the end. The truth shall land them safe on
the other side. The truth shall prove no lie.
3. They have a fast and steadable friend to go to, in a day of darkness,
clouds, doubts, when falsehood and lies are like to prevail, even the
Truth, who alone can help them in that day.
4. Howbeit the knowledge they have of God, and of the mysteries of the
gospel, be but small; yet that small measure being taught by him, who is
the truth, and flowing from truth, shall prove sanctifying and saving.
9. They have ground to hope for more freedom from errors and deceitful
lies, than others; for they have chosen the way of truth, and given
themselves up to the leading of truth.
_Object._ But do not even such drink in and receive and plead for
errors, as well as others; and is it not sometime found, that they even
live and die in some mistakes and errors?
_Answ._ I grant the Lord may suffer even some of his own to fall into,
and to continue for some time in errors, yea, and it may be all their
days, as to some errors, that hereby, all may learn to tremble and fear,
and to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. (2.) Some may
be tried thereby, Dan. xi. 35. (3.) Others may break their neck
thereupon. (4.) To punish themselves, for not making that use of truth,
and of the truth, that they should have done; yet we would consider
these few things:
1. That there are many more unregenerate persons that fall into error.
2. If his people fall into error at any time, they do not always
continue therein to the end. God for his own glory maketh, sometime or
other, truth shine in upon their soul, which discovereth that mistake,
and presently, the grace of God in their soul maketh them to abhor the
3. Or if some continue in it to their dying day, yet they repent of it,
by an implicit repentance, as they do of other unknown and unseen evils
that lie in their soul; so that that error doth not destroy their soul.
4. There are some gross errors, which a regenerate soul cannot readily
embrace, or if, through a mistake, or the power of a temptation, they do
embrace them, yet they cannot heartily close with them, whatever for a
time, through corruption and pride, they may seem outwardly to do; and
that because the very daily exercise of grace will discover them; and so
they will be found to be against their daily experience; as some
opinions of the Papists, Arminians, and Socinians, together with the
abominable Quakers, which a gracious soul, when not carried away with
the torrent of corruption, and with the tempest of a temptation, cannot
but observe to contradict the daily workings of grace in their soul, and
the motions of their sanctified soul, in prayer and other holy duties;
and so such as they cannot but find to be false by their own experience.
_Thirdly._ Here is ground of a sharp reproof of the wicked, who continue
in unbelief; and,
1. Will not believe, nor give any credit to his promises; wherewith he
seeketh to allure poor souls to come to him for life.
2. Nor will they believe his threatenings, wherewith he useth to alarm
souls, and to urge them forward to their duty.
3. Nor will they believe and receive his offers, as true.
5. Nor will they believe, that he is the true prophet, priest, and king,
that must save souls from hell and death, and therefore they will not
give him employment in his offices.
All which cannot but be a high provocation, for in effect it is to say
that he is not the truth, nor worthy to be believed. Let them consider
this, and see how they think he shall take this off their hands. No man
will take it well that another should either call or account him a
liar; and can they think that Christ shall take it well at their hands,
to be accounted by them a liar? What will they think to be challenged
for this in the great day? Now, the truth is, all unbelievers, as they
make God a liar, (O horrid and abominable crime! Whose hair would not
stand on end to hear this?) 1 John v. 10, 11. "He that believeth not God
hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave
of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal
life; and this life is in his Son." So do they make the Son of God a
liar, in all his sayings, in all his offices, and in all his works; and
they make the Holy Ghost a liar, in not believing that truth that he
hath sealed as firm truth. They make the covenant of suretiship betwixt
the Father and the Son, a mere lie and a forgery. O dreadful! They make
the word of truth a lie, and they make all the saints liars, and all the
officers of Jesus Christ, who declare this truth, and the saints who
believe it, and rest upon it, liars.
_Fourthly._ Hence is there ground of reproof to the godly, in that,
1. They do not firmly enough believe his sayings, neither his promises,
nor his threatenings, as appeareth too oft upon the one hand, by their
faintings and fears, and upon the other hand, by their carelessness and
2. They make not use of him, in all cases as they ought. His offices lie
by and are not improved; nor is he gone to as the truth, in cases
requiring his help, as the truth; that is, in cases of darkness,
doubtings, confusion, ignorance of their case and condition, and the
3. They do not approach to him, nor to God through him, heartily and
cordially, as the very truth, and true way.
4. Nor do they rest with confidence upon him in all difficulties, as
being the truth that will not fail them, nor disappoint them.
5. Nor do they rejoice in him, as satisfied with him, who is the truth,
in the want of all other things.
_Fifthly._ The right consideration of this truth should keep us in mind
of several great duties; such as those,
1. Of pitying those places where this truth is not heard of, as among
Turks and heathens; or where it is darkened with superstition and men's
inventions, as among papists; or where it hath been clearly shining, but
now is darkened, as in some churches now under the prevailing power of
corruption; or, lastly, where it is not received in its power and
lustre, as, alas! it is too little received in the best and purest
2. Of being thankful to him for making this truth known in the world,
and particularly in the place where we were born, or had our abode; and
yet more for that he hath determined our hearts to a believing of this
truth, in some weak measure; to an embracing of it, and to a giving of
ourselves up to be led, ruled, and guided thereby.
3. Of esteeming highly of every piece of truth for his sake who is the
truth; studying it for his sake--loving it for his sake--holding it fast
for his sake--witnessing to it, as we are called, for his sake. We
should buy the truth, and not sell it, Prov. xxiii. 23; and we should
plead for it, and be valiant for it, Isa. lix. 4, 14. Jer. vii. 28; ix.
4. Of taking part with him and his cause, in all hazards, for truth is
always on his side; and truth shall prevail at length.
5. Of giving him employment in our doubts and difficulties, whether,
(1.) They be about some controverted points of truth, which come to be
debated, or to trouble the church. Or,
(2.) About our own estate and condition, quarrelled at by Satan, or
questioned by the false heart. Or,
(3.) About our carriage in our daily walk. In all these, and the like,
we should be employing truth, that we may be led in truth, and taught by
truth, to walk in sure paths.
6. Of carrying in all things before him as true; for he is truth, and
the truth, and so cannot be deceived; and therefore we should walk
before him in sincerity and singleness of heart, without guile,
hypocrisy, or falsehood, that we may look like children of the truth;
and of the day, and of light, and children that will not lie or
dissemble, Isaiah lxiii. 8; not like these that lied unto him, Psalm
lxxviii. 38. Isaiah lix. 13.
7. Of taking him only for our guide to heaven, by denying our own wit,
skill, and understanding, and looking to and resting upon him, who alone
is the truth, and so acknowledging him in all our ways, depending on him
for light and counsel, for singleness of heart, humility, diligence, and
truth, in the inward parts.
8. Of giving up ourselves daily unto him and his guidance, and denying
our own wills, humours, parties, or opinions; for he alone is truth, and
can only guide us aright. And for this cause, we would acquaint
ourselves well with the word, which is our rule, and seek after the
Spirit, whom Christ hath promised to lead us into all truth.
_Sixthly._ Should not this be a strong inducement to all of us, to lay
hold on and grip to him, who is the truth, and only the truth? seeing,
1. All other ways which we can take, will prove a lie to us in the end.
2. He is substance, and no shadow, and all that love him shall inherit
substance; for he will fill all their treasures, Prov. viii. 21.
3. Such as embrace him shall not wander, nor be misled; for his "mouth
shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to his lips," Prov.
viii. 7. "All the words of his mouth are in righteousness, and there is
nothing froward or perverse in them," verse 8. "He is wisdom, and
dwelleth with prudence, and findeth out knowledge of witty inventions,"
verse 12. "Counsel is his, and sound wisdom; he hath understanding and
strength," ver. 14.
4. He will make good all his promises in due time, and give a
subsistence and a being to them all; for he is the Truth, and the Truth
must stand to his promises, and fulfil them all.
5. He will never, nay, "never leave his people, nor forsake them," Heb.
xiii. 5. He is truth, and cannot deceive; he cannot forsake nor
disappoint. He is a spring of water, whose waters fail not, Isaiah
lviii. 11. Therefore they cannot be disappointed in the end, and
perish, who trust to him.
6. The truth will make them free, John viii. 32, 36, and so deliver them
from their state of sin and misery, wherein they lay as captives; and
from that spiritual bondage and slavery under which they were held.
_Seventhly_. This, to believers, may be a spring of consolation in many
1. When error and wickedness seem to prosper and prevail; for though it
prevail for a time, yet truth will be victorious at length, and the
truth will overcome all. He is truth, and will plead for truth.
2. When friends, acquaintances, relations, fail them, and father and
mother forsake them, truth will take them up. He who is the truth will
answer his name, and never deceive, never forsake.
3. When riches, honours, pleasures, or what else their heart hath being
going out after, prove like summer brooks; for the truth will be the
same to them in all generations; there is no shadow of turning with
him. The Truth is always truth, and true.
4. When we fear that either ourselves or others shall fall away, in a
day of trial, and turn from the truth. Though all men prove liars and
deceivers, truth will abide the same, and stand out all the blasts of
5. When unbelief would make us question the truth of the promises, the
faith of his being truth itself, and the truth, even truth in the
abstract, would shame unbelief out of countenance. Shall truth fail?
Shall not the Truth be true? What a contradiction were that?
6. When we know not how to answer the objections of Satan, and of a
false treacherous heart; for truth can easily answer all cavils; and he
who is the truth can repel all objections against truth. Truth is
impregnable, and can stand against all.
7. When we cannot know, nor discover the wiles and subtilty of Satan.
Truth can discover the depths of Satan, and make the poor soul more
acquaint with them; so that they shall not any more be ignorant of his
devices, who look to him.
8. When the thoughts of the deceitfulness of our hearts trouble us, the
depth whereof we cannot search. This then may comfort us, that truth may
search the heart and the reins, Jer. xvii. 9, 10.
9. When we cannot tell what our disease and distemper is, and so cannot
seek suitable remedies, or help from God, O what a comfort is it, to
know and believe, that he is the truth, with whom we have to do, and so
knoweth our distemper perfectly, and all its causes and symptoms,--truth
cannot be at a stand in discerning our disease; so nor can he be
ignorant of the fittest and only safest cures.
10. When we know not what to ask in prayer, as not knowing what is best
for us, it is a comfort to remember that we have to do with the Truth,
who is perfectly acquainted with all that, and knoweth what is best.
11. When we know not how to answer the calumnies of adversaries, it is
comfortable to know that he is the truth, that will hear truth, when men
will not, and will own and stand for the truth, when enemies do what
they can to darken an honest man's good cause. It is comfortable to
know, we have the Truth to appeal to, as David had, Psalm vii. 17.
12. When we think on our own covenant-breaking, and dealing deceitfully
with God, it is comfortable to remember, that though we and all men be
liars, and deal deceitfully with him, yet he is the truth, and will keep
covenant for ever; he will not, he cannot deny himself, 2 Tim. ii. 13.
_Eighthly,_ Hence we may certainly conclude, that truth, which is
Christ's cause, shall at length prevail; for he is truth, yea, the
truth, and so abideth truth; therefore must he prevail, and all the
mouths of liars must be stopped. So then let us remain persuaded, that
truth at length shall be victorious, and that the cause of Christ shall
have the victory. Though,
1. The enemies of truth, and the cause of Christ, be multiplied, and
many there be that rise up against it.
2. These enemies should prosper, and that for along time, and carry on
their course of error and wickedness with a high hand.
3. There should be few found to befriend truth, and to own it in an evil
4. Yea, many of those that did sometime own it, and plead for it, should
at length turn their backs upon it, as did Demas.
5. And such as continue constant and faithful, be loaded with
reproaches, and pressed under with sore persecution, for adhering to
truth, and owning constantly the good cause.
6. Yea, though all things in providence should seem to say, that truth
shall not rise again, but seem, on the contrary, to conspire against the
_Ninthly,_ May we not hence read, what should be our way and course, in
a time when a spirit of error is gone abroad, and many are carried off
their feet therewith, or when we are doubtful what to do, and what side
of the dispute to take. O then is the fit time for us to employ truth,
to live near to him who is the truth, to wait on him, and hang upon him,
with singleness of heart.
_Objection._ But many even of his own people do err and step aside.
_Ans._ That is true: But yet, (1.) That will be no excuse to thee.
Nay,(2.) That should make thee fear and tremble more. (3.) And it should
press thee to lie near to Christ, and to wrestle more earnestly with
him, for the Spirit of light and of truth, and to depend more constantly
and faithfully upon him, with singleness of heart, and to give up all
thy soul and way to him, as the God of truth, and as the truth, that
thou mayest be led into all truth.
_Tenthly,_ This should stir us up to go to him, and make use of him as
the truth in all cases, wherein we may stand in need of truth's hand to
help us; and for this cause we should mind those particulars:
1. We should live in the constant conviction of our ignorance,
blindness, hypocrisy, readiness to mistake and err. This is clear and
manifest, and proved to be truth by daily experience; yet how little is
it believed, that it is so with us? Do we see and believe the atheism of
our hearts? Do we see and believe the hypocrisy of our hearts? Are we
jealous of them, as we ought to be? O that it were so! Let this then be
more minded by us.
2. Let us live in the persuasion of this, that he only, and nothing
below him, will be able to clear our doubts, dispel our clouds, clear up
our mistakes, send us light, and manifest truth unto us; not our own
study, pains, prayers, duties, learning, understanding; nor ministers,
nor professors, and experienced Christians, and the like.
3. We should be daily giving up ourselves to him, as the truth, in all
the forementioned respects, and receiving him into our souls as such,
that we may dwell and abide there: then shall the truth make us free;
and if the Son make us free, we shall be free indeed, John viii. 36.
4. There should be much single dependence on him for light, instruction,
direction, and guidance in all our exigencies.
5. Withal, there should be a waiting on him with patience, giving him
liberty to take his own way and time, and a leaving of him thereunto.
6. We should by all means guard against such things as are hinderances,
and will prove obstacles to us in this matter; such as,
(1.) Prejudices against the truth; for then we will undervalue light,
and reject all the directions and instructions of the Spirit, as not
agreeing with our prejudicate opinion.
(2.) A wilful turning away from truth, as these, 2 Tim. iv. 4. Titus i.
(3.) Addictedness to our own judgments and opinions, which causeth
pertinaciousness, pride, and conceit, as thinking ourselves so wise, as
that we need no information; and this occasioneth a self-confidence.
(4.) Looking too much unto, and hanging too much upon men, who are but
instruments, crying them up as infallible, and receiving, without
further examination, all that they say, not like the Bereans, Acts xvii.
This is a great hinderance to the receiving of truth, and very
(5.) A neglecting of the use of the means which God hath appointed for
(6.) Or an hanging too much on them, and so misplacing them, giving them
(7.) Leaning too much to our own understanding, wit and knowledge, &c.
(8.) A resisting of the truth, 2 Tim. iii. 8. These and the like
hinderances should be guarded against, lest they mar our attaining to
the knowledge of truth.
7. There should be much of the exercise of prayer, for this is the main
conduit and mean, through which light is conveyed into the soul. There
should also be a serious and Christian reading and hearing of the word,
which is truth, and the word of truth, and the Scripture of truth; and
those duties should be gone about with, (1.) much self-denial; (2.) with
much singleness of heart; (3.) with much humility; (4.) with much
willingness and readiness to be instructed; (5.) with much seriousness
and earnestness; and, (6.) with faith and dependence on God for his
blessing and breathing.
8. We should beware of trusting to our own understandings, or to the
judgments of other men; nor should we look to what suiteth most our own
humours, nor to what appeareth most specious and plausible, for that may
9. We should lie open to the influences and rays of light, by exercising
faith in earnest desires; as also patient waiting for and single looking
to him, minding his name and his relations, promises, and engagements,
and the strengthening of our faith and confidence.
10. We should labour to keep fast whatever he teacheth us by his word
and Spirit, and not prove leaking vessels. This the apostle exhorteth
to, Heb. ii. 1, "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the
things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip;"
yea, and we should be established "in the truth," 2 Pet. i. 12.
11. We should beware of resting on a form of the truth, as those did, of
whom we read, Rom. ii. 20; and of holding the truth in unrighteousness,
as those, Rom. i. 18; and of disobeying it, as those mentioned in Rom.
ii. 8. See also Gal. iii. 1; v. 7.
12. But on the contrary, we should so receive truth, as that it might
rule and be master in us, captivate judgment, will, and affections, and
break out into the practice. And this recommendeth several duties, such
(1.) To have the truth in us; while as, if we practise otherwise, "the
truth is not in us," 1 John i. 8; ii. 4.
(2.) To be of the truth, as belonging to its jurisdiction, power, and
command, 1 John iii. 19. John xviii. 37.
(3.) To do the truth, by having true fellowship with him, 1 John i. 6;
and "to walk in the truth," 2 John iv. 3. John iv. Psalm lxxxvi. 11.
(4.) To have the loins girt with truth, Eph. i. 14.
(5.) To receive the love of the truth, 2 Thess. ii. 10.
(6.) To be instructed of him, "as the truth is in Jesus," Eph. iv. 21.
(7.) To purify the soul in obeying the truth, 1 Pet. ii. 22.
This shall suffice for clearing up, and applying in the general this
excellent truth, that Christ is the truth. We shall now come and make
some more particular use of this precious point, by speaking to some
particular cases (which we shall instance in, by which the understanding
Christian may be helped to understand how to carry and how to make use
of Christ in other the like cases), wherein Christ is to be made use of
as the truth, and show how believers are to make use of him in these
cases as the truth.
HOW TO MAKE USE OF CHRIST AS THE TRUTH, FOR GROWTH IN KNOWLEDGE.
It is a commanded duty, that we grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, 2
Pet. iii. 18; and the knowledge of him being life eternal, John xvii. 3,
and our measure of knowledge of him here being but imperfect, for we
know but in part, it cannot but be an useful duty, and a desirable
thing, to be growing in this knowledge. This is to walk worthy of the
Lord unto all pleasing, to be increasing in the knowledge of God, Col.
i. 10. Knowledge must be added to virtue; and it layeth a ground for
other Christian virtues, 2 Pet. i. 5, 6. In this knowledge we must not
be barren, 2 Pet. i. 2. And this being so necessary, so desirable, so
useful, and so advantageous a grace, the believer cannot but desire to
have more and more of it, especially seeing it is a part of the image of
God, Col. iii. 10.
Now it is the truth that must teach them here, first and last. "The
light of the knowledge of the glory of God must be had in the face of
Jesus Christ," 2 Cor. iv. 6. The question therefore is, how we should
make use of Jesus Christ for this end, that we may attain to more of
this excellent knowledge.
_First._ It is good to live in the constant conviction of a necessity of
his teaching us, and this taketh in those particulars:
1. That we should be conscious of our ignorance, even when we know most,
or think we know most, remembering that the best knoweth but in part, 1
Cor. xiii. 9. The more true knowledge we attain to, the more will we see
and be convinced of our ignorance; because the more we know, the more
will we discover of the vastness and incomprehensibility of that object,
which is proposed to our knowledge.
2. That we should remember, how deceitful our hearts are; and how ready
they are to sit down upon a shadow of knowledge, even where we know
nothing as we ought to know, 1 Cor. viii. 2; and this will keep us
jealous and watchful.
3. And to help forward our jealousy of our own hearts and watchfulness,
we should remember that our hearts naturally are averse from any true
and saving knowledge; whatever desire there be naturally after knowledge
of hidden things out of curiosity; and of things natural; or of things
spiritual, as natural, for the perfection of nature, as might be
pretended, whereby in effect those that increase knowledge, increase
sorrow, Eccl. i. 18. Yet there is no inclination after spiritual and
saving knowledge, in us naturally, but an aversion of heart therefrom.
4. That we should study and know the absolute necessity of this
knowledge. How necessary it is for our Christian communion with God, and
Christian walk with others; how necessary for our right improving of
dispensations, general and particular; what a noble ornament of a
Christian it is, and a necessary piece of the image of God, which we
_Secondly._ Upon these grounds mentioned, we would also be convinced of
1. That of ourselves, and by all our natural parts, endowments,
quickness and sagacity, we cannot attain to this saving knowledge, which
is a special and saving grace, and so must be wrought in the soul by a
divine hand, even the mighty power of God. By our private study and
reading, we may attain to a literal, heady, and speculative knowledge,
that will puff us up, 1 Cor. viii. 1; but thereby shall we never attain
to this knowledge, which is spiritual, hearty, and practical, and so
saving, we must have the anointing here, which teacheth us all things, 1
John ii. 27. And of this we should be persuaded, that we may look to a
higher hand for light and instruction.
_Thirdly._ There should be an eyeing of Christ's furniture and fitness
for this work of teaching of us, to wit,
1. An eyeing of him as the substantial wisdom of the Father, Prov. viii.
2. An eyeing of him, as one come out of the bosom of the Father, John i.
18; and so sufficiently enabled to acquaint us with the mysteries of God
3. An eyeing of him as Mediator, fully endued with all necessaries for
this piece of his work, and so having received the Spirit without
measure, for this end, John iii. 34; and as having hid in him all the
treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Col. ii. 3; and as having all
fullness dwelling in him, Col. i. 19; and also Isa. xi. 2; lxi. 1,2.
4. An eyeing of him, as having power to send the Spirit, that anointing
that teacheth us all things, "and is truth and is no lie," 1 John ii.
20-27; not only by way of intercession and entreaty, begging it of the
Father, John xv. 16, 17; but also authoritatively, as conjunct with the
Father. The Father sendeth him in Christ's name, John xiv. 26; and
Christ sendeth him from the Father, John xv. 26; and this Spirit of
truth which guideth into all truth, shall receive of Christ's, and shew
it unto us, John xvi. 13-15.
_Fourthly,_ There should be an eyeing of Christ's readiness,
willingness, and engagement to help in this case; and this will
encourage the soul to go forward. And for this cause we would remember
1. That he standeth obliged to help us with instruction, by virtue of
his office, as a prophet, a witness, a leader, and a commander, Isa. l
2. That he is commissioned of the Father for this end, and so is the
Father's servant; and is given for "a light to the Gentiles," Isa. xlii.
6; xlix. 6; and the Father is said to speak by him, or in him, Heb. i.
3. That he received his gifts and qualifications for this end and
purpose, that he might give out and dispense to his members according to
their necessity; as is clear from Psalm lxviii. 18, compared with Eph.
iv. 8; what he is said to have received in the one place, he is said to
have given in the other.
4. That he hath begun this work already by his Spirit in his followers;
and therefore standeth engaged to see it perfected; for all his works
are perfect works.
5. That he hath a love to his scholars, and a desire to have them all
thriving, and making progress in knowledge; this being his glory who is
their master and teacher.
6. That he laid down ways and means, and a constant course for
instructing of his people: for,
(1.) He hath given his word, and settled and established ordinances for
(2.) He hath established a ministry for instructing his people, Eph. iv.
(3.) He hath gifted persons for this work of the ministry, 1 Cor. xii.
(4.) He maketh these officers, in the faithful administration of their
function, and through his blessing and Spirit, maketh their work
prosperous and effectual in his own, as he seeth fit.
_Fifthly._ There should be an eyeing of the promises of the covenant of
grace made for this end, whether general or particular, or both; such as
those which we have, Isa. ii. 9. Hab. ii. 14, "The earth shall be filled
with the knowledge of the Lord," or of "the glory of the Lord, as the
waters cover the sea;" and that, Isa. xxxii. 4, "the heart of the rash
shall understand knowledge," &c.; and Jer. xxxi, 34, "They shall all
_Sixthly._ There should be a constant, diligent, serious, and single
using of the means of knowledge, with a faithful dependence on Christ by
faith, gripping to him in his relations, offices, engagements, and
promises, and waiting upon his breathing in hope and patience, Psal.
_Seventhly._ There should be a guarding against every thing that may
obstruct this work, and grieve him in it; and therefore we would beware,
1. To undervalue and have a little esteem of knowledge; for this will
grieve him; and (to speak so) put him from work.
2. To misimprove any measure of knowledge he giveth.
3. To weary of the means and ordinances whereby he useth to convey
knowledge into the soul.
4. To limit the holy One of Israel to this or that mean, to this or that
time, or to this or that measure, who should have a latitude as to all
5. To despise the day of small things, because we get not more.
6. To be too curious in seeking after the knowledge of hidden mysteries,
the knowledge whereof is not so necessary.
7. To lean too much unto, and to depend too much upon the ordinances, or
instruments, as if all, or any thing, could come from them.
_Eighthly._ There should be a right improving of any measure of
knowledge we get to his glory, and to the edification of others, with
humility and thankfulness, and so a putting of that talent in use, to
gain more to his glory. Whatever measure of knowledge we get, we should
in all haste, put it into practice, and set it to work; so shall it
increase, and engage him to give more.
_Ninthly._ There should be a lying open to Christ's instructions, and to
the shinings of the Spirit of light and of truth, and a ready receiving
of what measure he is pleased to grant or infuse. Which includeth those
duties, 1. A serious and earnest hungering and thirsting after more
2. A diligent use of every approven mean for this end.
3. A going about the means with much self-denial, spirituality,
singleness of heart, and sincerity, looking to and depending upon him,
who must breathe upon the means, and make them useful.
4. A greedy receiving, drinking in, and treasuring up in the soul what
5. A guarding against selfish and bye-ends, with a single eyeing of his
6. A guarding against pride in the heart, and a studying of humility and
meekness; for the "meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he
teach his way," Psal. xxv. 9.
7. A putting of the heart or understanding in his hand, together with
the truth, that is heard and received, that he may write the truth, and
cause the heart receive the impression of the truth.
_Tenthly._ There should be a rolling of the whole matter by faith on
him, as the only teacher, a putting of the ignorant, blockish, averse,
and perverse heart, into his hand, that he may frame it to his own mind,
and a leaving of it there, till he by the Spirit, write in it what he
thinketh meet, to his own glory and our good.
And sure, were this way followed, growth in knowledge would not be so
rare a thing as it is.
For further direction and caution in this matter, the believer would
take notice of these particulars:
1. That he should not sit down upon any measure of knowledge he hath
attained to, or can attain to here, as if he had enough, and should
labour for no more; but he should still be minding his duty of seeking,
and pressing for more.
2. Whenever he is about any mean of knowledge, such as preaching,
reading, conference, &c. his heart should be only upon Christ. He should
be hanging on his lips for a word of instruction; and with greediness
looking for a word from his mouth; he should be sending many posts to
heaven, many ejaculatory desires for light and understanding, and that
with singleness and sincerity, and not for base ends, or out of
3. Let him not think, that there is no growth in knowledge, because
possibly he perceiveth it not, or is not satisfied as to the measure
thereof; yea, though possibly he perceive more ignorance, than ever he
did before. If he grow in the knowledge of his own ignorance, it is a
growth of knowledge not to be despised; and in a manner, what can we
else know of God, but that he far transcendeth all our knowledge, and
that he is an incomprehensible one, in all his ways.
4. Let him not think, that there is no growth in knowledge, because he
perceiveth not a growth in the knowledge of such or such a particular,
which he desireth most; for if there be a truth in the knowledge of
other particulars, necessary to be known, there is no reason to
complain. If one grow not, as he supposeth, in the knowledge of God, and
of the mysteries of the gospel; yet if he grow in the discovery of the
treachery and wickedness of his own heart, he cannot say that he groweth
not in knowledge.
5. Let him not measure his growth in knowledge, by his growth in the
faculty of speaking and discoursing of such or such points of religion;
many measure their knowledge by their tongue, and think they know
little, because they can express little; and so they think they attain
to no increase or growth in knowledge, because they perceive no increase
or growth in this faculty of discoursing, and talking of such or such
points of truth. It is safer to measure their knowledge by the
impression that the truth hath on their spirits, and the effects of it
on all their carriage, than by their ability and skill to talk and
dispute of it.
6. Let them beware to imagine, that they shall be able to search out the
Almighty unto perfection, "Canst thou (said Zophar, Job. xi. 7, 8, 9.)
by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto
perfection? He 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." Or that they shall be able ever to
win to the bottom of their own false deceitful heart, which, as Jeremiah
saith, chap. xvii. 9, "Is deceitful above all things, and desperately
wicked; who can know it?" and which it is God's prerogative alone to
search and try, ver. 10. Neither let them think, so long as they are
here, to win to an exact and perfect knowledge of the mysteries of God,
wherein is the manifold wisdom of God, Eph. iii. 10, which very
principalities and powers in heavenly places are learning; and which the
angels are poring and looking into with desire, 1 Pet. i. 12. There is
no perfection in knowledge to be had here; for here the best but knoweth
in part, and prophesieth in part, 1 Cor. xiii. 4.
7. Let them not think that every one shall have the same measure of
knowledge; every one hath not the like use for it, or the like capacity
for it. There is a measure proportioned to every one; they should not
then complain, because they have not such a measure of knowledge as they
perceive in some others. It may be, the Lord hath some harder piece of
service, which calleth for more knowledge, to put others to. Let every
one then mind his duty faithfully and conscientiously, and let him not
quarrel with God, that he attaineth not to such a measure of knowledge
as he seeth others attain unto.
8. Neither let them think, that the same measure is required of all. For
more is required of some, by reason of their office and charge in the
house of God, being called to teach and instruct others; and so more is
required of such, as have larger capacities, and a better faculty of
understanding than others, who naturally are but of a narrow reach, and
of a shallow capacity. More also is required of such as live under
plain, powerful, and lively ordinances, and under a more powerful and
spiritual dispensation of the grace of God, than of others that want
such advantages. So likewise, more is required of old Christians than of
new beginners; old men, of much and long experience, should know more
than such as are but babes in Christ and but of yesterday.
9. Let their desires run out after that knowledge, not which puffeth
up,--for there is a knowledge which puffeth up, 1 Cor. viii. 1,--but
which humbleth, and driveth the soul farther from itself and nearer to