« AnteriorContinuar »
the subduing of all unto him; for the end will not be till then. Whatever we endure, we must be contented with it, whatsoever we suffer, the end must not be till all his enemies be made his footstool, and there be nothing to stand up against him, who is most mighty.
[3.] Sin in his people, is another enemy of Christ. Sin, as it is in men by nature, is that which gives life and efficacy to all the enmity that is acted against him; and as it remains even in believers themselves, it doth act a great enmity against Christ. How come we then to be freed from it? How comes it to be subdued? The apostle, in Rom. vii. gives an account of the great contest, and conflict that believers have with the remainder of sin in them, that makes them cry out for deliverance from it, ver. 24, 25. It is a sudden breaking forth of the apostle there, when he was describing the law of sin; for he cries out, O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me,' &c. But he as suddenly takes up, I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.' Through the power of Christ this enemy, sin, shall be subdued. "Therefore, chap. vi. 14. it is said, 'Sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under the law, but under grace.' If you come under grace, or under the rule of Christ, sin shall not have dominion over you. What is the reason of it? Where is the consequence of the argument? Because sin is one great enemy of Christ, and he will certainly conquer it.
[4.] Death is another enemy. It is the last enemy, 1 Cor. xv. 25, 26. He must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet; the last enemy that shall be destroyed is . death.' And, in ver. 54. he tells us, that death is swallowed up in victory;' a conquest is obtained over it. It is the last enemy, because, until the consummation of all things, we shall be subject to its power; but that shall also come under the feet of Christ, when we shall die no more.
This is the third end wherefore Christ puts forth this mighty, or exceeding greatness of his power, namely, for the subduing of his enemies.
(4.) The fourth end for which Christ puts forth the greatness of his power, is for the raising up all his church from the dead: Phil. iii. 20, 21. Our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for a Saviour, the
Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.' The mighty power of Christ reaches thus far, that the dead shall be raised thereby: Yes, our vile body shall; the body of our humiliation, that is, the body, as it is fallen into corruption, into a vile estate, though it come to worms and dust, yet he shall revive it by the exceeding greatness of his power. He shall raise the bodies of his people. The privilege of believers in that day, will be, that they shall be first raised, and they shall be peculiarly raised, by the power of Christ,, as mediator. Their bodies shall be raised in conformity to his glorious body, when others shall be raised after them, by the mere divine power of Christ, and raised with all their own vileness upon them.
(5.) And lastly, to mention no more, The mighty power of Christ is put forth in judging of all the world, and distributing to them rewards of bliss, or woe, that shall abide to all eternity, Matt. xxv. 31-46.
Thus you see, why the Holy Ghost, by the psalmist, calls Christ here the mighty One, one that will mightily prevail in every thing. It is because of his divine power, he is the mighty God; because of his mediatorial authority; there is committed unto him all power in heaven and in earth. He doth put forth this power for the erecting of his church, for its preservation, for the subduing of his enemies, in the raising of the dead, and distributing rewards and punish
THE USE AND ADVANTAGE OF FAITH IN A TIME
OF PUBLIC CALAMITY.
But the just shall live by his faith.—HAB. ii. 4.
THIS is the first time these words are mentioned in the Scripture, but they are three times quoted by the apostle Paul; he preached as it were thrice upon them. Rom. i. 17. Gal. iii. 11. Heb. x. 38. For it is full of heavenly matter, and is made use of by the apostle to several purposes. I know no one text that hath been more preached upon, or more written upon by them who have treated of the life of faith; how the just live the life of justification; and how they live the life of sanctification, the life of consolation, the life of peace, the life of joy, the life of obedience, &c. My design is quite of another nature, and is that which falls in with the design of the prophet in the first use of the words, as we shall presently see.
You know, that for many years, upon all these occasions, without failing, I have been warning of you continually of an approaching calamitous time, and considering the sins that have been the causes of it. The day is with the Lord, the year, and month I know not; but I have told you, 'That judgment will begin at the house of God;' that in the latter days of the church, perilous times will come;' that God seems to have hardened our hearts from his fear;' and caused us to err from his way;' and that none knows what 'the power of his wrath will be.' In all these things I have foretold you of perilous, distressing, calamitous times; and in all men's apprehensions, they now lie at the door, and are entering in upon us. Now I must change my design; and my present work will be both upon this, and, if I live, upon some other occasions, to shew how we ought to deport ourselves in and under the approaches of distressing calamities
This sermon was preached April 9, 1680.
that are coming upon us, and may reach, it may be, up to the very neck.
What this text teaches us is, That in the approaches of overwhelming calamities, and in the view of them, we ought, in a peculiar manner, to live by faith. That is the meaning of the place.
And that this is our duty, appears from this passage, and the context. For the prophet had received a vision, a dreadful vision from God, of the coming in of the Chaldeans, and of the destruction they would bring upon the church, and upon all the land, in the foregoing chapter. Having received this vision, he considers what is his own duty, and what is the duty of the church, in the approaches of this distressing calamitous season. Why, saith he, ver. 1. I will stand upon my watch and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.' God will reprove me; there will be great arguings between God and my soul: I know my own guilt and sin, and I would be in a readiness to have something to answer God when I am reproved, something to betake myself unto. The answer, saith he, I will betake myself unto is this, The just shall live by his faith.' Two things are here included.
First, saith he, I will betake myself (as the apostle makes use of it) unto 'Jesus Christ for righteousness.' I have nothing else to answer God, when I am reproved.
Secondly, I will pass through all these terrible and dreadful dispensations of providence that are coming upon me, by living the life of faith: a peculiar way of living, as we shall presently see. When the flood was coming upon the world, 'Noah was a preacher of righteousness;' 2 Pet. ii. 5. What righteousness did Noah preach? Why, that righteousness whereof he himself was partaker, for he became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith;' Heb. xi. 7. When the flood was coming, Noah preached the righteousness of faith to the world, that they might escape, if they would attend unto it; but it was rejected by them. Wherefore, I say, in the approach of a calamitous season, there is in an especial way and manner, a living by faith required of us.
But you will say, What is a calamitous season? or when do you esteem a season calamitous?
I will give you two things for the description of such a season as I judge to be manifestly calamitous.
1. When it exceeds the bounds of affliction, or when the dispensations of God's anger in it cannot be reduced to the head of affliction; Ezek. xxi. 9, 10. 13. Son of man, prophesy, and say, Thus saith the Lord; say, A sword, a sword is sharpened, and also furbished. It is sharpened to make a sore slaughter; it is furbished that it may glitter. Should we then make mirth? It contemneth the rod of my son, as every tree. Because it is a trial, and what if the sword contemn even the rod?' The rod comprises all affliction; but God will bring a sword, a judgment that shall not be reducible to the head of affliction; it shall contemn it. Now, I say, let it be what it will, when a calamity doth befall a people, or the church of God, that cannot be reduced to the head of affliction, but that every one shall find there is anger, judgment, wrath, in it; then it is a distressing time.
2. When judgments fall promiscuously upon all sorts of persons, and make no distinction, then I take it to be a distressing time; for they strip men of the comforts they cherish in their own minds. Job. ix. 22, 23. This is one thing, therefore I said it, he destroyeth the perfect and the wicked.' What doth God always do so? Doth he never make a distinction about judgments? Yes, sometimes; but if the scourge slay suddenly, he will laugh at the trial of the innocent.' When God brings a scourge, or a sword that shall slay promiscuously, that shall seize upon, destroy and devour the innocent, so that they shall not escape, he will be as one that standeth by, rejoicing, to see how they carry themselves under their trial.
Now this is enough to give satisfaction, what I intend by a distressing calamitous time: it cannot be reduced to the head of affliction; and it slayeth suddenly and promiscuously, the perfect and the wicked; and it may be, 'the good figs shall go first into captivity.' I am not much otherwise minded; and God may have mercy for them in that dispensation.
I shall now shew you these two things:
I. How we shall live by faith; how we should deport ourselves; what faith will do in such a season; what our duty