|A Description of Christ
by Richard Sibbes
"Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well
pleased: I will put my Spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgement to the
Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in
the streets," &c.Matt. 12:18.
The words are the accomplishment of a prophecy, taken out of Isaiah 52:1,2, as
we may see by the former verse, 'that it might be fulfilled.' Now the occasion
of bringing them in here in this verse, it is a charge that Christ gives, verse
16, that they should not reveal and make him known because of the miracles he
did. He withdraws himself; he was desirous to be concealed, he would not allow
himself to be seen over much, for he knew the rebellious disposition of the
Jews, who were eager to change their government, and to make him king.
Therefore, he laboured to conceal himself in various ways. Now, upon this
injunction, that they should tell nobody, he brings in the prophet Isaiah
prophesying of him, 'Behold my servant, &c.; he shall not strive nor cry,
neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.' Other kings labour that
their pomp and magnificence may be seen; but he does not desire ostentation, he
shall not be contentious nor clamorous. For these three things are meant when he
says, 'he shall not strive, nor cry, neither shall his voice be heard in the
streets;' he shall not yield himself to any ostentation, for he came in an
abased state to work our salvation; he shall not be contentious, nor yet
clamorous in matter of wrong; there shall be no boasting any kind of way, as we
shall see when we come to the words. You see, then, the inference here.
The purpose of the prophet Isaiah is to comfort the people, and to direct them
how to come to worship the true God, after he had preached against their
idolatry, as we see in the former chapter, 'Behold my servant,' &c. Great
princes have their ambassadors, and the great God of heaven has his Son, his
servant in whom he delights, through whom, and by whom, all dealings between God
and man are.
As is usual in the prophecies, especially of Isaiah, that evangelical prophet,
when he foretells anything to comfort the people in the promise of temporal
things, he rises to establish their faith in better things. He does this by
adding to them a prophecy, a promise of Christ the Messiah, to assert thus much:
I will send you the Messiah, and that is a greater gift than this that I have
promised you; therefore you may be sure of the lesser one. As the apostle
reasons excellently, 'If he spared not his own son, but delivered him to death
for us all, how shall he not with him give us all things?' Rom. 8:32. So here, I
have promised you deliverance out of Babylon, and this and that; do you doubt of
the performance? Alas! what is that in comparison to a greater favour I intend
for you in Christ, that shall deliver you out of another type of Babylon?
'Behold my servant whom I have chosen;' and in Isaiah 7:14, 'Behold a virgin
shall conceive, and bear a son,' &c. I will send you the Messiah; God shall
become man; therefore, I will not stand for any outward favour or deliverance
whatsoever. So he goes on to the grand promise, that they might reason from the
greater to the less.
There is another purpose, why in other promises there is mention of the promise
of the Messiah: to uphold their faith. Alas! we are unworthy of these promises,
we are so laden with sin and iniquity. It is no matter, I will send you the
Messiah. 'Behold my servant in whom my soul delighteth,' and for his sake I will
delight in you. I am well pleased with you, because I am well pleased in him;
therefore, be not discouraged. All the promises are yea and amen in Jesus
Christ,' 2 Cor. 1:20; for all the promises that be, though they be for the
things of this life, they are made for Christ, they are yea in him, and they are
performed for his sake, they are amen in him. So much for the occasion of the
quotation in the evangelist St Matthew, and likewise in the prophet Isaiah.
To come more directly to the words, 'Behold my servant whom I have chosen, my
beloved in whom my soul is well pleased,' &c.
In the words you have a description of Christ, and his nearness to God: Behold
my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom my soul is well pleased.' And
then his calling and attainments: 'I will put my Spirit upon him.' And the
execution of that calling: 'He shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.' Then the
quiet and peaceable manner of the execution of his calling: 'He shall not strive
nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets,' &c.
Behold!This word is as it were a lighted beacon. In all the evangelists you
have this word often repeated, and the prophets likewise when they speak of
Christ; there is no almost prophecy but there is this word, 'Behold.'
Why? The use of it in the prophet, especially out of which these words are
taken, was to present Christ to the hearts of the people of God at that time;
therefore he says, 'Behold,' for Christ was present to the believers then.
Christ did profit them before he was, he did good before he was exhibited,
because he was 'the Lamb of God slain from the beginning of the world,' Rev.
13:8; he was yesterday as well as to-day, and tomorrow as well as to-day,
'yesterday, to-day, and the same for over,' Heb. 13:8. He was present to their
faith, present to them in types and sacrifices, and present in God's acceptation
of him for them. Therefore, the prophets mount up with the wing of prophecy, and
seeing the certainty of the things to come, they speak as if they were present,
as if they had looked on Christ before them, 'Behold my servant,' and 'Behold a
But that is not all. Another purpose of this word 'behold,' was to call the
people's minds from their miseries, and from other abasing objects that dejected
them, which might force them to despair. Why do you dwell upon your unworthiness
and sin? Raise up your mind, 'Behold my servant whom I have chosen,' &c. This is
an object worth beholding and admiring, especially by a distressed soul that may
see in Christ whatsoever may comfort it.
A third purpose of it is to raise the mind from any vulgar, common, base
contentments. You look on these things, and are carried away with common trivial
objects, as the poor disciples when they came to the temple; they stood
wondering at the stones. What wondrous stones! What a great building is here!
(Mark 13:1) So shallow-minded men, when they see any earthly excellency, they
stand gazing. Alas, says Christ, do you wonder at these things? In the same way
the prophet here raises up the minds of men to look on an object fit to be
looked on, 'Behold my servant,' &c. He intends that the Holy Ghost would have
them from this saving object, Christ, to receive satisfaction to their souls in
every way. Are you dejected? Here is comfort. Are you sinful? Here is
righteousness. Are you led away with present contentments? Here you have
honours, and pleasures, and all in Christ Jesus. You have a right to common
pleasures that others have, and besides them you have claim to others that are
everlasting pleasures that shall never fail, so that there is nothing that is
dejecting and abasing in man, but there is comfort for it in Christ Jesus; he is
a salve for every sore, a remedy for every malady; therefore, 'Behold my
My servant.Christ is called a servant, first, in respect of his creation,
because being a man, as a creature he was a servant. But that is not all.
He was a servant in respect of his condition. Servant implies a base and low
condition, Philip. 2:7. Christ took upon him the form of a servant; he emptied
himself; he was the lowest of all servants in condition: for none was ever so
abased as our glorious Saviour.
And then, it is a name of office, as well as of base condition. There are
ordinary servants and extraordinary, as great kings have their servants of
state. Despite his abasement, Christ was a servant of state, he was an
ambassador sent from the great God; a prophet, a priest, and a king, as we shall
see afterwards; an extraordinary servant, to do a work of service that all the
angels in heaven, and all the men on the earth joined together, could not
perform. This great masterpiece of service was to bring God and man together
again, that were at variance, as it is, 1 Peter 3:18, 'to bring us to God.' We
were severed and scattered from God. His office was to gather us together again,
to bring us all to one head again, to bring us to himself, and so to God, to
reconcile us, as the Scripture phrase is, Col. 1:20. Now, it being the greatest
work and service that over was, it required the greatest servant; for no
creature in the world could perform it. All the angels of heaven would have sunk
under this service. They could never have given satisfaction to divine justice;
for the angels themselves, when they sinned, could not recover themselves, but
sunk under their own sin eternally. Thus we see how Christ is God's servant, who
set him apart, and chose him to this service.
And then he was a servant to us; for the Son of man came to minister, not to be
ministered unto, Matt. 20:28. He washed his disciples' feet. He was a servant to
us, because he did our work and suffered our punishment; we made him serve by
our sins, as the prophet says, Isa. 53:24. He is a servant that bears another
man's burden. There was a double burden of obedience active, and obedience
passive. He bore them both. He came under the law for us, both doing what we
should have done, and indeed far more acceptably, and suffering that we should
have suffered, and far more acceptably. He being our surety, being a more
excellent person, he did bear our burden, and did our work, therefore he was
God's servant, and our servant; and God's servant, because he was our servant,
because he came to do a work on our behalf.
Herein appears the admirable love and care of God to us wretched creatures, here
is matter of wonderment.
Whence comes it that Christ is a servant? It is from the wondrous love of God,
and the wondrous love of Christ. To be so abased, it was wondrous love in God to
give him to us to be so abased, and the wondrous misery we were in, that we
could not otherwise be freed from; for such was the pride of man, that he, being
man, would exalt himself to be like God. God became man, he became a servant to
expiate our pride in Adam, so that it is wondrous in the spring of it. There was
no such love as Christ's to become a servant, there was no such misery as we
were in, out of which we were delivered by this abasement of Christ becoming a
servant; so it is wondrous in that regard, springing from the infinite love and
mercy of God, which is greater in the work of redemption and reconciliation than
in the creation of the world, for the distance between nothing and something was
less than the distance between sin and happiness. For nothing adds no
opposition; but to be in a sinful state there is opposition. Therefore it was
greater love and mercy for God, when we were sinful, and so obnoxious to eternal
destruction, to make us of sinners, not only men, but to make us happy, to make
us heirs of heaven out of a sinful and cursed estate, than to make us of nothing
something, to make us men in Adam, for there God prevailed over nothing, but
here his mercy triumphed over that which is opposite to God, over sinfulness and
cursedness. To show that the creature cannot be so low but there is somewhat in
God above the misery of the creature, his mercy shall triumph over the basest
estate where he will show mercy. Therefore there is mercy above all mercy and
love above all love, in that Christ was a servant.
Is the Lord Christ a servant? This should teach us not to stand upon any terms.
If Christ had stood upon terms, if he had refused to take upon him the shape of
a servant, alas! Where had we and our salvation been? And yet wretched
creatures, we think ourselves too good to do God and our brethren any service.
Christ stood not upon his greatness, but, being equal with God, he became a
servant. Oh! we should dismount from the tower of our conceited excellency. The
heart of man is a proud creature, a proud piece of flesh. Men stand upon their
distance. What! Shall I stoop to him? I am thus and thus. We should descend from
the heaven of our conceit, and take upon us the form of servants, and abase
ourselves to do good to others, even to any, and account it an honour to do any
good to others in the places we are in. Christ did not think himself too good to
leave heaven, to conceal and veil his majesty under the veil of our flesh, to
work our redemption, to bring us out of the cursed estate we were in. Shall we
think ourselves too good for any service? Who for shame can be proud when he
thinks of this, that God was abased? Shall God be abased, and man proud? Shall
God become a servant, and shall we that are servants think much to serve our
fellow-servants? Let us learn this lesson, to abase ourselves; we cannot have a
better pattern to look unto than our blessed Saviour. A Christian is the
greatest freeman in the world; he is free from the wrath of God, free from hell
and damnation, from the curse of the law; but then, though he be free in these
respects, yet, in regard of love, he is the greatest servant. Love abases him to
do all the good he can; and the more the Spirit of Christ is in us, the more it
will abase us to anything wherein we can be serviceable.
Then, again, here is comfort for us, that Christ, in whatsoever he did in our
redemption, is God's servant. He is appointed by God to the work; so, both God
and Christ meet together in the work. Christ is a voluntary in it, for he
emptied himself, he took upon him the form of a servant, Phil. 2:6, he came from
heaven voluntarily. And then withal the Father joins with him, the Father
appointed him and sent him, the Father laid him as the corner-stone, the Father
sealed him, as it is, John 6:27, the Father set him out, as it is, Rom. 3:25.
'He has set him out as the propitiatory.' Therefore, when we think of
reconciliation and redemption, and salvation wrought by Christ, let us comfort
ourselves in the solidity of the work, that it is a service perfectly done. It
was done by Christ, God-man. It is a service accepted of God, therefore God
cannot refuse the service of our salvation wrought by Christ. Christ was his
servant in the working of it. We may present it to God, it is the obedience of
thy servant, it is the satisfaction of thy servant. Here is that will give full
content and satisfaction to conscience, in this, that whatsoever Christ did, he
was God's servant in it. But we shall better understand the intent of the Holy
Ghost when we have gone over the rest of the words, 'Behold my servant whom I
Christ was chosen before all worlds to be the head of the elect. He was
predestinated and ordained by God. As we are ordained to salvation, so Christ is
ordained to be the head of all that shall be saved. He was chosen eternally, and
chosen in time. He was singled out to the work by God; and all others that are
chosen are chosen in him. There had been no choosing of men but in him; for God
saw us so defiled, lying in our filth, that he could not look upon us but in his
Son. He chose him, and us in him.
Here is meant, not only choosing by eternal election to happiness, but a
choosing to office. There is a choosing to grace and glory, and a choosing to
office. Here, it is as well meant, a choosing to office, as to grace and glory.
God, as he chose Christ to grace and glory, so he chose him to the office of
Mediatorship. Christ did not choose himself; he was, no usurper. No man calls
himself to the office, as it is in Heb. 5:4; but Christ was called and appointed
of God. He was willing, indeed, to the work, he took it voluntary upon him; but
as Mediator, God chose him, God the Father. If we respect eternal salvation, or
grace, or office, Christ was chosen in respect of his manhood; for, as it is
well observed by divines, Christ is the head of all that are predestinated; and
the human nature of Christ could not merit its choice, it could not merit its
incarnation, it could not merit union with the Godhead, it was merely from
grace. How could Christ's manhood deserve anything of God before it was? Things
must have a subsistence before they can work: our blessed Saviour is the pattern
of all election, and his manhood could not merit to be knit to the second
person; as how could it, being a creature? Therefore the knitting of the human
nature of Christ to his divine, it is called the grace of union. The choosing of
the human nature of Christ to be so gracious and glorious, it was of grace.
This adds to our comfort, that whatsoever Christ did for us, he did it as
chosen; he is a chosen stone, as St Peter says, I Peter ii. 6, 'a precious
corner-stone;' though refused of the builders, yet precious in God's sight.
Was Christ a chosen servant of God, and shall not we take God's choice? Is not
God's choice the best and the wisest? Has God chosen Christ to work our
salvation, and shall we choose any other? Shall we run to saints' mediation, to
the virgin Mary, and others, for intercession, which is a part of Christ's
office? Who chose Mary, and Peter, and Paul to this work? There is no mention in
Scripture of them for this purpose, but behold my servant, whom I have chosen.
God in paradise did choose a wife for Adam, so God has chosen a husband for his
church; he has chosen Christ for us: therefore it is intolerable sacrilegious
rebellion and impudency to refuse a Saviour and Mediator of God's choosing, and
to set up others of our own, as if we were wiser to choose for ourselves than
God is. We may content ourselves well enough with God's choice, because he is
the party offended.
And this directs us also, in our devotions to God, how to carry ourselves in our
prayers and services, to offer Christ to God. Behold, Lord, thy chosen servant,
that thou hast chosen to be my Mediator, my Saviour, my all in all to me, he is
a mediator and a Saviour of thine own choosing, thou canst not refuse thy own
choice; if thou look upon me, there is nothing but matter of unworthiness, but
look upon him whom thou hast chosen, my head and my Saviour!
Again, if Christ be a chosen servant, O let us take heed how we neglect Christ.
When God has chosen him for us, shall not we think him worthy to be embraced and
regarded; shall we not kiss the Son with the kiss of love, and faith, and
subjection? He is a Saviour of God's own choosing, refuse him not. What is the
reason that men refuse this chosen stone? They will not be laid low enough to
build upon this corner stone, this hidden stone. The excellency of Christ is
hidden, it appears not to men, men will not be squared to be built upon him.
Stones for a building must be framed, and made even, and flat. Men stick with
this and that lust, they will not be pared and cut and fitted for Christ. If
they may have their lusts and wicked lives, they will admit of Christ. But we
must make choice of him as a stone to build upon him; and to be built on him, we
must be made like him. We like not this laying low and abasing, therefore we
refuse this corner stone, though God has made him the corner of building to all
those that have the life of grace here, or shall have glory hereafter.
The papists admit him to be a stone, but not the only stone to build on, but
they build upon him and saints, upon him and works, upon him and traditions. But
he is the only corner stone. God has chosen him only, and we must choose him
only, that we may be framed and laid upon him to make up one building. So much
for that, 'Behold my servant whom I have chosen.'
My Beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased. How do we know that these words in
the prophet Isaiah are fitly appliable to Christ? By the greatest authority that
ever was from the beginning of the world, by the immediate voice of God the
Father from heaven, who applies these words in Isaiah to Christ, Matt. 3:17, in
his inauguration when he was baptized, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am
well pleased,' this is that my Son, that beloved, agaphtoV, the beloved Son, so
beloved that my soul delights in him, he is capable of my whole love, I may pour
out my whole love upon him. 'In whom I am well pleased,' it is the same with
that here,'in whom my soul delighteth,' the one expresses the other.
How, and in what respect is Christ thus beloved of God?
First as he is God, the Son of God, the engraven image of his Father, so he is
primum amabile, the first lovely thing that ever was. When the Father loves him,
he loves himself in him, so he loves him as God, as the second person, as his
own image and character.
And as man he loves him, for as man he was the most excellent creature in the
world, he was conceived, fashioned, and framed in his mother's womb by the Holy
Ghost. It is said, Heb. 10:5, God gave him a body. God the Father by the Holy
Ghost fashioned and framed and fitted him with a body, therefore God must needs
love his own workmanship.
Again, there was nothing in him displeasing to God, there was no sin found in
his life any way, therefore as man he was well pleasing to God. He took the
manhood and ingrafted it into the second person, and enriched it there;
therefore he must needs love the manhood of Christ, being taken into so near a
union with the Godhead.
As God and man mediator especially, he loves and delights in him. In regard of
his office, he must needs delight in his own ordinance and decree. Now lie
decreed and sealed him to that office, therefore he loves and delights in him as
a mediator of his own appointing and ordaining, to be our king, and priest, and
Again, he loved and delighted in him, in regard of the execution of his office
both in doing and suffering. In doing, the evangelist says, 'He did all things
well,' Mark 7:37. When he healed the sick, and raised the dead, and cured all
diseases, whatsoever he did was well done. And for his suffering, God delighted
in him for that, as it is in John 10:17, 'My Father loves me, because I lay down
my life;' and so in Isa. 53:12, 'He shall divide him a portion with the great,
because he poured out his soul unto death;' and in Phil. 2:9, 'Because he abased
himself to the death of the cross, God gave him a name above all names:'
therefore God loves and delights in him for his suffering and abasement.
Now, that Christ's sacrifice was so acceptable to God, there is a direct place
for it in Eph. 5:2, 'Walk in love, as Christ has loved us, and has given himself
an offering and a sacrifice to God of a sweet smell.' And indeed how many sweet
savours were there in the sacrifice of Christ offered on the cross! Was there
not the sweet savour of obedience? He was 'obedient to the death of the cross,'
Phil. 2:8. There was the sweet savour of patience, and of love to mankind.
Therefore God delighted in him, as God, as man, as mediator God-man, in his
doings, in his sufferings, every way.
Does God delight thus in Christ, in his person, or considered mystically? I
answer; both. God loves and delights in Christ mystical, that is, in Christ and
his members, in whole Christ. 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well
pleased,' not only with whom alone by himself, but 'in whom,' in him as God, in
him in body and soul, in him as head of the church, in him mystically, in all
that are under him any kind of way. God delights in him, and all his.
Is it possible that he should delight in the head, and refuse the members? that
he should love the husband, and mislike the spouse? O no; with the same love
that God loves Christ, he loves all his. He delights in Christ and all his, with
the same delight. There is some difference in the degree, 'that Christ in all
things may have the pre-eminence,' Col. 1:18, but it is the same love; therefore
our Saviour sets it down excellently in his own prayer, he desires 'that the
same love wherewith his Father loved him may be in them that are his,' John
17:20, that they may feel the love wherewith his Father loves him, for he loved
him and his members, him and his spouse, with all one love.
This is our comfort and our confidence, that God accepts us, because he accepts
his beloved; and when he shall cease to love Christ, he shall cease to love the
members of Christ. They and Christ make one mystical Christ. This is our comfort
in dejection for sin. We are so and so indeed, but Christ is the chosen servant
of God, 'in whom he delighteth,' and delights in us in him. It is no matter what
we are in ourselves, but what we are in Christ when we are once in him and
continue in him. God loves us with that inseparable love wherewith he loves his
own Son. Therefore St Paul triumphs, Rom. 8:35, 'What shall separate us from the
love of God in Christ Jesus?' This love, it is founded in Christ, 'therefore
neither things present, nor things to come (as he goes on there gloriously),
shall be able to separate us.' You see what a wondrous confidence and comfort we
have hence, if we labour to be in Christ, that then God loves and delights in
us, because he loves and delights in Christ Jesus.
And here is a wondrous comfort, that God must needs love our salvation and
redemption when he loves Christ, because 'he poured out his soul to death to
save us.' Does not God delight that we should be saved, and our sins should be
forgiven, when he loves Christ because he abased himself for that purpose? What
a prop and foundation of comfort is this, when the devil shall present God to us
in a terrible hideous manner, as an avenging God, 'and consuming fire,' &c.,
Heb. 12:29; indeed out of Christ he is so. Let us present to ourselves thoughts
of God as the Scripture sets forth God to us; and as God sets forth himself, not
only in that sweet relation Ps a Father to Christ, but our father, 'I go to my
Father and your Father, to my God and your God,' John 20:17, having both one
God, and love and care. There is none of us all but the devil will have a saying
to us, either in the time of our life, in some terrible temptation, especially
when any outward abasement comes, or at the hour of death; and all the cordials
we have gathered out of the word will then be little enough to support the
drooping soul, especially in the hour of temptation. O beloved, what a wondrous
anchor and satisfaction to a distressed conscience does this yield, that Christ
in all that he has wrought for us is God's chosen servant, 'whom he loves and
delights in,' and delights in him for this very work, that he abased himself and
gave himself for us, that he wrought God's work, because he wrought
reconciliation for us! If we can believe in Christ, we see here what ground of
comfort we have, that God loves and delights in us, as he does in his own Son.
And what a comfort is it now, in our daily approach to God, to minister boldness
to us in all our suits, that we go to God in the name of one that he loves, 'in
whom his soul delights,' that we have a friend in court, a friend in heaven for
us, that is at the right hand of God, and interposes himself there for us in all
our suits, that makes us acceptable, that perfumes our prayers and makes them
acceptable. His intercession is still by virtue of his service, dying for us. He
intercedes by virtue of his redemption. If God love him for the work of
redemption, he loves him for his intercession, therefore God must needs regard
the prayers made by him, by virtue of his dying for us, when he loves him for
dying for us. Be sure therefore, in all our suits to God, to take along our
older brother, to take our beloved brother, take Benjamin with us, offer all to
God in him, our persons to be accepted in him, our prayers our hearing, our
works, and all that we do, and we shall be sure to speed; for he is one in whom
the soul of God delights. There must be this passage and repassage, as God looks
upon us lovely in him, and delights in us as we are members of him. All God's
love and the fruits of it come to us as we are in Christ, and are one with him.
Then in our passage to God again we must return all, and do all, to God in
Christ. Be sure not to go to a naked God; for so he is 'a consuming fire,' but
go to him in the mediation of him whom he loves, 'and in whom his soul
And shall God love him and delight in him, and shall not our soul delight in
Christ? This therefore should stir up our affections to Christ, to be faithful
in our conjugal affection as the spouse of Christ, to say, 'My beloved is mine
and I am my beloved's,' Cant. 2:16. Christ calls his church, 'My love and my
dove,' Cant. 6:9. Does Christ delight in us, and God delight in Christ, and
shall not we delight in Christ that delights in us, and in whom God delights? In
I Cor. 16:22, the apostle is bold to pronounce a bitter curse, 'Anathema
Maranatha,' upon him that loves not the Lord Christ Jesus, a most bitter curse.
When Christ shall become a servant to do our work for us, to suffer for us, to
bear the burden of our sins upon the tree, to become our husband, to bestow his
riches upon us, to raise us to the same condition with himself, and withal to be
such, a one as God has chosen out to love and delight in as the best object of
his love, and most capable of it, and for us not to solace and delight ourselves
in him that God delights in, when God delights in him for our sake. God loves
and delights in him for the work of salvation and redemption by his blood, and
shall not we love and embrace him for his love which is for our good? What good
has God by it but only the glory of his mercy, in saving our souls through
Christ? Therefore if God love him for the good he does to us, much more should
we love him for the fruit of it that we receive ourselves.
It should shame us therefore when we find dulness and coldness upon us, that we
can hear of anything better than of Christ; and arguments concerning Christ are
cold to us. Alas! Where is our love, and joy, and delight; and when we can make
no better but a carnal use of the incarnation and other benefits by Christ? We
should therefore desire God to shed the love of Christ into our hearts more and
more, that we may feel in our souls the love that he bears to us, and may love
God and Christ again, for that that he has done for us.
Hence we have also a ground of estimation of Christians to be excellent persons.
Does God value poor sinful souls so much as to give Christ for them to become a
Saviour? Does he delight in Christ for giving himself for them? And shall not we
love one another whom God and Christ so loves?
But if God love and delight in those that are in Christ, with the same love and
delight that he has in him, how shall I know that I am in Christ, and that God
thus delights in me?
Briefly, a man may know that he is in Christ, if he find the Spirit of Christ in
him; for the same Spirit when Christ took our nature, that sanctified that
blessed mass whereof he was made, when there was a union between him and the
second person, the same Spirit sanctifies our souls and bodies. There is one
Spirit in the head and in the members. Therefore if we find the Spirit of Christ
in us, we are in Christ and he in us. Now this Spirit is renewing, 'Whosoever is
in Christ is a new creature,' 2 Cor. 5:17; all is new, 'old things are done
away,' the old manner of language, the old disposition, old affections, old
company, all old things are past, all is new; and if a man be a new creature, he
has right and title to 'the new heaven and new earth,' 2 Pet. 3:13. Let us
examine the work of grace in us. If there be no change in us we have no present
interest in Christ. We have to do with him because he is still wooing us to be
in him, but as yet we have no title to him.
The very beholding of Christ is a transforming sight. The Spirit that makes us
new creatures, and stirs us up to behold this servant, it is a transforming
beholding. If we look upon him with the eye of faith, it will make us like
Christ; for the gospel is a mirror, and such a mirror, that when we look into
it, and see ourselves interested in it, we are changed from glory to glory, 2
Cor. 3:18. A man cannot look upon the love of God and of Christ in the gospel,
but it will change him to be like God and Christ. For how can we see Christ, and
God in Christ, but we shall see how God hates sin, and this will transform us to
hate it as God does, who hated it so that it could not be expiated but with the
blood of Christ, God-man. So, seeing the holiness of God in it, it will
transform us to be holy. When we see the love of God in the gospel, and the love
of Christ giving himself for us, this will transform us to love God. When we see
the humility and obedience of Christ, when we look on Christ as God's chosen
servant in all this, and as our surety and head, it transforms us to the like
humility and obedience. Those that find not their dispositions in some
comfortable measure wrought to this blessed transformation, they have not yet
those eyes that the Holy Ghost requires here. 'Behold my servant whom I have
chosen. my beloved in whom my soul delighteth.'
I will put my Spirit upon him. Now we come to the qualification of Christ for
his calling, in these words, I will put my Spirit upon himthat is, I will
clothe him with my Spirit, I will put it, as it were, upon him as a garment.
Now there were divers degrees of Christ's receiving the Spirit at several times.
For he was conceived by the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost did sanctify that blessed
mass whereof his body was framed in the womb of the virgin, he was quickened in
the womb in his conception by the Holy Ghost, and he was graced by the Holy
Ghost, and led by the Spirit in all things before his baptism. But afterward,
when he came to set upon his office, to be the prophet and priest and king of
his church, that great office of saving mankind, which he did not solmnly set
upon till he was thirty years old, then God poured upon him a special portion of
the Spirit, answerable to that great calling, then the Spirit lighted upon him,
Matt. 3:16. Christ was ordained to his office by the greatest authority that
ever any was ordained from the beginning of the world. For at his baptism, when
he was ordained and set apart to his office, there was the Father from heaven
uttered an audible voice, 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,'
Mat. 3:17; and there was Christ, the party baptized and installed into that
great office; then there was the Holy Ghost, in the form and shape of a dove. It
being a matter of the greatest consequence that ever was in the world, greater
than the creation, it was fit it should be done with the greatest authority; and
so it was, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost being present at the admission of
Christ into his office. This is especially here intended, though the other be
included, I will put my Spirit upon him that is, I will anoint him, as it is in
Isa. 61:1, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,' says Christ, 'because the Lord
has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the
broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to open the prison for them
that are bound, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord'that is, the year
of jubilee, for that was a type of Christ, to preach the gospel deliverance to
all that are in captivity, servitude, and thraldom under Satan and sin. This was
accomplished when Christ, at his baptism, entered upon his office. God put his
Spirit upon him, to set him apart, to ordain him, and to equip him with
abundance of grace for the work; for there are these three things especially
meant by putting the Spirit upon him, separation or setting apart, and
ordaining, and enriching with the gifts of the Spirit.
When any one is called to a great place, there is a setting apart from others,
and an ordaining to that particular, and an equipping. If it be a calling of
God, he equips where he ordains always.
It may be objected, Christ was God himself; he had the Spirit, and gives the
Spirit; therefore, how could the Spirit be put upon him?
I answer, Christ is both God and man. Christ, as God, gives the Spirit to his
human nature; so he communicates his Spirit. The Spirit is his Spirit as well as
the Father's. The Spirit proceeds from them both. Christ, as man, receives the
Spirit. God the Father and the Son put the Spirit upon the manhood of Christ; so
Christ both gives and receives the Spirit in diverse respects. As God, he gives
and sends the Spirit. The spiration and breathing of the Spirit is from him as
well as from the Father, but as man he received the Spirit.
And this is the reason of it: next under the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Christ
the Mediator, was to be the spring and original of all comfort and good.
Therefore, Christ's nature must not only be sanctified and ordained by the
Spirit; but he must receive the Spirit to enrich it, for whatsoever is wrought
in the creature is by the Spirit. Whatsoever Christ did as man, he did by the
Spirit. Christ's human nature, therefore, must be sanctified, and have the
Spirit put upon it. God the Father, the first person in Trinity, and God the
Son, the second, they work not immediately, but by the Holy Ghost, the third
person. Therefore, whatsoever is wrought upon the creature, it comes from the
Holy Ghost immediately. So Christ received the Holy Ghost as sent from the
Father and the Son. Now as the Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son, so he
works from the Father and the Son. He sanctifies and purifieth, and does all
from the Father and the Son, and knits us to the Father and the Son; to the Son
first, and then to the Father. Therefore it is said, 'The grace of our Lord
Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Ghost,'
2 Cor. 13:14; because all the communion we have with God is by the Holy Ghost.
All the communion that Christ as man had with God was by the Holy Ghost; and all
the communion that God has with us, and we with God, is by the Holy Ghost: for
the Spirit is the bond of union between Christ and us, and between God and us.
God communicates himself to us by his Spirit, and we communicate with God by his
Spirit. God does all in us by his Spirit, and we do all back again to God by the
Spirit. Because Christ, as a head, as the second Adam, was to be the root of all
that are saved, as the first Adam was the root of all that are damned, he was
therefore to receive the Spirit, and to have it put upon him in a more excellent
and rich manner: for we must know that all things are first in Christ, and then
God chose him first, and then he chose us. God singled him out to be the
Saviour, the second Adam, and he calls us in Christ.
God justified Christ from our sins, being our surety, taking our sins upon him.
We are justified, because he by his resurrection quit himself from the guilt of
our sins, as having paid the debt.
Christ is the first fruits of them that rise again, I Cor. 15:20. We rise again
because he is risen. Christ first ascended; we ascend in Christ. Christ is first
loved; we are loved in the Beloved. Christ is first blessed; we are blessed with
all spiritual blessings in Jesus Christ, Eph. 1:8. So, whatsoever is in us, we
have it at the second hand. We have the Spirit in us, but he is first in Christ;
God has put the Spirit in Christ, as the spring, as the second Adam, as a public
person, that should receive the Spirit for us all. He is first in all things;
Christ must have the pre-eminence. He has the pre-eminence in all, both before
time, in time, and after time, in election, in whatsoever is done here in this
world, and in glorification. All is first in Christ, and then in us. He is the
We must understand this, to give Christ his due honour and respect, and to know
whence we have all we have. Therefore the Spirit is said here, first, to be 'put
upon Christ.' We have not the Holy Ghost immediately from God, but we have him
as sanctifying Christ first, and then us; and whatsoever the Holy Ghost does in
us, he does the same in Christ first, and he does it in us because in Christ.
Therefore, in John 16:14,15, Christ says, He shall take of mine. Whatsoever the
Holy Ghost works in us, he takes of Christ first. How is that?
Thus: the Holy Ghost comforts us with reasons from Christ. He died, and has
reconciled us to God; therefore, now God is at peace with thee. Here the Holy
Ghost takes a ground of comfort from the death of Christ. When the Holy Ghost
would raise a man up to holiness of life, he tells him, Christ thy Saviour and
head is quickened, and is now in heaven, therefore we ought to rise to holiness
of life. If the Holy Ghost be to work either comfort or grace, or anything, he
not only does the same thing that he did first in Christ, but he does it in us
by reasons from Christ, by grounds fetched from Christ. The Holy Ghost tells our
souls that God loves Christ first, and he loves us in Christ, and that we are
those that God gave Christ for, that we are those that Christ makes intercession
for in heaven. The Holy Ghost witnesses to us the love of the Father and the
Son, and so he fetches from Christ whatsoever he works.
And hence the work of the Holy Ghost is distinguished from illusions and
delusions, that are nothing but frantic conceits of comfort that are groundless.
The Holy Ghost fetches all from Christ in his working and comfort, and he makes
Christ the pattern of all; for whatsoever is in Christ, the Holy Ghost, which is
the Spirit of Christ, works in us as it is in Christ. Therefore, in John 1:13,
it is said, 'of his fulness we receive grace for grace'that is, grace
answerable to his grace. There are three things that we receive answerable to
Christ by the Spirit.
We receive gracethat is, the favour of God answerable to the favour God shows
his Son. He loves his Son, he is graciously disposed to him, and he loves us.
So grace habitual. We have grace in us answerable to the grace in Christ. We
have love answerable to his love, patience answerable to his patience, obedience
and humility answerable to that in Christ. The Spirit works a conformity to
Christ in all things.
Likewise, in the third place, the Spirit assures us of the same privileges that
issue from grace. Christ is a Son; the Spirit tells us we are sons. Christ is an
heir; the Spirit tells us we are heirs with Christ. Christ is the king of heaven
and earth; the Spirit tells us that we are kings, that his riches are ours. Thus
we have 'grace for grace,' both favour and grace in us, and privileges issuing
from grace, we have all as they are in Christ. Even as in the first Adam we
receive of his emptiness, curse for curse, ill for ill; for his blindness and
rebellion we are answerable; we are born as he was after his fall: so in the
second Adam, by his Spirit, we receive grace for grace.
Hence issues this, that our state now in Christ is far more excellent than our
state in Adam was.
How does it spring hence?
Thus, Christ is God-man. His nature was sanctified by the Spirit; he was a more
excellent person, he gives and sends the Spirit. Adam was only a mere man, and
therefore his goodness could not be so derived to his posterity; for, however
the Holy Ghost was in Adam, yet the Holy Ghost did not so fill him, he was not
so in him as in Christ. The Holy Ghost is in Christ in a more excellent manner;
for Christ being equal with God, he gave the Holy Ghost; the Holy Ghost comes
from Christ as God. Now the second Adam being a more excellent person, we being
in Christ the second Adam, we are in a more excellent, and in a more safe
estate; we have a better keeper of our happiness than Adam. He being a mere man,
he could not keep his own happiness, but lost himself and all his posterity.
Though he were created after the image of God, yet being but a were man, he
showed himself to be a manthat is, a changeable creature; but Christ being God
and man, having his nature sanctified by the Spirit, now our happiness is in a
better keeping, for our grace has a better spring. The grace and sanctification
we have, it is not in our own keeping, it distils into us answerable to our
necessities; but the spring is inexhaustable, it never fails, the spring is in
Christ. So the favour that God bears us, it is not first in us, but it is first
in Christ; God loves him, and then he loves us; he gives him the Spirit, and us
in him. Now, Christ is the keeper both of the love of God towards us and the
grace of God; and whatsoever is good he keeps all for us, he receives all for
himself and for us; he receives not only the Spirit for himself, but he receives
it as Mediator, as head: for 'we all of his fulness receive grace for grace.' He
receives it as a fountain to diffuse it, I say. This shows us our happy and
blessed condition in Jesus Christ, that now the grace and love of God and our
happiness, and the grace whereby we are sanctified and fitted for it, it is not
in our own keeping originally, but in our head Christ Jesus.
These be comfortable considerations, and, indeed, the life and soul of a
Christian's life and comfort. If we conceive them aright, they will quicken us
to obedience, and we shall know what the gospel is. To come to make some use of
I might observe this, that none should take that office upon them to which they
are not called of God, nor qualified by his Spirit, especially ministers,
because Christ did not set upon his office, till the Spirit was put upon him.
The Spirit must enable us and fit us for everything. But I leave that, and come
to that which concerns us all.
First, then, has God put the Spirit upon Christ, as the evangelist says in John
3:34, 'He whom God has sent'that is Christ he speaks the word of God: for God
gives him not the Spirit by measure.' God does not stand measuring grace out to
Christ, but he pours it out upon him, full measure, running over, because he
receives it not for himself alone, but for us. We receive the Spirit by measure,
Eph. 4:7, 'according to the measure of the gift of Christ.' Christ gives us all
a measure of sanctifying knowledge and of every grace, till we 'grow to be a
perfect man in Christ,' Eph. 4:13. Therefore it is called the 'first fruits of
the Spirit,' Rom. 8:23, as much as shall fit us for heaven, and grace
sufficient, though it be not that measure we shall have hereafter, or that we
would have here. Christ had a full measure, the fulness of a fountain,
diffusive, not only abundance for himself, but redundance, and overflowing for
the good of others; he being the head of the church, not only a head of
eminence, but of influence to bestow and convey all grace in him to all his
members, proportionable to the service of every member. Therefore he received
not the Spirit according to measurethat is, sparinglybut it was showered upon
him; he was filled and clothed with the Holy Ghost.
Is it so? Let us labour, then, to see where to have supply in all our wants. We
have a full treasury to go to. All treasure is hid in Christ for us. What a
comfort is this in anything we lack! If we lack the favour of God, go to his
beloved Christ, desire God to love us in his beloved, and to accept us in his
gracious Son, in him whom he has made his servant, and anointed with his Spirit
for that purpose.
If we lack particular graces, go to the well-head Christ, consider of Christ now
filled for us, as it was in Aaron. The oil that was poured on Aaron's head ran
down to his beard, and to the skirts of his clothing, Psa. 133:2, the meanest
parts of his garment were bedewed with that oil: so the graces of God's Spirit
poured upon our head Christ, our Aaron, our High Priest, run down upon us, upon
all ranks of Christians, even upon the skirts, the weakest and lowest
Christians. Every one has grace for grace; we all partake of the oil and
anointing of our spiritual Aaron, our High Priest. If we lack anything,
therefore, let us go to him. I can do all, says St Paul, in Christ that
strengthens me, Philip. 4:13. Go to him for patience, for comfort, for
everything, because God has put his Spirit upon him, to supply all our
deficiencies; he has the oil of gladness above his fellows, Psa. 45:7; but for
his fellows he has the oil of grace more than any, but it is not only for him,
but for us all. Therefore, let us have comfortable meditations of the fulness of
Christ, and make use of it, all this is for me. In Col. 2:9, St Paul sets it
out, 'in him the fulness of the Godhead dwells personally;' for that is meant by
somatikwV, and it follows after, 'in him we are complete.' Wherefore is all the
fulness that is in him? to show that in him we are complete. So, in I John 5:20,
21, to show how the spirits of the apostles agree, 'we know that the Son of God
is come in the flesh, and has given us an understanding to know him that is
true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is true
God and eternal life.' Christ is true God and eternal life for us all; for our
comfort, 'we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an
understanding, &c. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.' How does this
depend upon the other? Thus;
Will you go to idols, stocks and stones, devices of men's brain, for supply of
grace and comfort? Christ, whom God has sent, he is come into the world; he is
God and eternal life. 'God has given eternal life, and this life is in his Son,'
I John 5:11; therefore why should you go to idols?
What is the ground of popish idolatries and abominations? They conceive not
aright of the fulness of Christ, wherefore he was ordained, and sent of God; for
if they did, they would not go to idols and saints, and leave Christ. Therefore
let us make this use of it, go out of Christ for nothing. If we want favour, go
not to saints, if we want instruction, go; not to traditions of men. He is a
prophet wise enough, and a priest full enough to make us accepted of God. If we
lack any grace, he is a king able enough, rich enough, and strong enough to
subdue all our rebellions in us, and he will in time by his Spirit overcome all,
'Stronger is he that is in us than he that is in the world,' I John 4:4. The
spirit in the world, the devil and devilish-minded men, they are not so strong
as the Spirit of Christ; for by little and little the Spirit of Christ will
subdue all. Christ is a king, go not out of him therefore for anything. 'Babes,
keep yourselves from idols,' I John 5:21. You may well enough, you know whom to
Therefore let us shame ourselves. Is there such a store-house of comfort and
grace every way in Christ? Why are we so weak and comfortless? Why are we so
dejected as if we had not such a rich husband? All out husband's riches are ours
for our good, we receive of it in our measure, why do we not go to the fountain
and make use of it? Why, in the midst of abundance, are we poor and beggarly?
Here we may see the misery of the world. Christ is a prophet to teach us the way
to heaven, but how few be there that will be directed by him 'Christ is a king
to subdue all our spiritual and worst enemies, to subdue those enemies that
kings tremble at, to subdue death, to subdue the fear of judgment and the wrath
of God, and yet how few will come under his government! 'Christ is the light of
the world,' John 9:5, yet how few follow him! Christ is the way, yet how few
tread in his steps! Christ is our wisdom and our riches, yet how few go to him
to fetch any riches, but content themselves with the transitory things of this
life! Men live as if Christ were nothing, or did nothing concern them, as if he
were a person abstracted from them, as if he were not a head or husband, as if
he had received the Spirit only for himself and not for them, whereas all that
is in Christ is for us. I beseech you therefore let us learn to know Christ
better, and to make use of him.
Again, if Christ has 'the Spirit put upon him for us all,' then in our daily
slips and errors make this use, to offer Christ to God with this argument. Take
an argument from God himself to bind him. God will be bound with his own
arguments. We cannot bind him with ours, but let us go to him and say, Lord,
though I be thus and thus sinful, yet for Christ Jesus' sake thy servant, whom
thou lovest and hast put thy Spirit upon him to be a priest, and to make
intercession for me, for his sake pardon, for his sake accept. Make use of God's
consecration of Christ by the Spirit to God himself, and bind him with his own
mediator, and with his own priest of his own ordaining. Thou canst not, Lord,
refuse a Saviour and mediator of thine own, sanctified by thine own Spirit, whom
thou hast set apart, and ordained and qualified every way for this purpose. Let
us go to God in the name of this mediator Jesus Christ every day, and this is to
make a good use of this, that God has 'put his Spirit upon him.'
But to make a use of trial, how shall we know that this comfort belongs to us,
that Christ has the Spirit put upon him for us or no, whether he be ordained a
king, priest, and prophet for us? That which I said before will give light to
this. We must partake of the same Spirit that Christ has, or else we are none of
his members. As we partake of his name, so we must also of his anointing.
Thereupon we are called Christians, because we partake of the anointing and
Spirit of Christ, and if we have the Spirit of Christ, it will work the same in
us as it did in Christ, it will convince us of our own ill, of our rebellions,
and cursed estate, and it will convince us likewise of the good we have in him.
And then, he is a Spirit of union, to knit us to Christ, and make us one with
him, and thereupon to quicken us, to lead us, and guide us, and to dwell in us
continually, to stir up prayers and supplications in us, to make us cry
familiarly to God as to a Father, to comfort and support us in all our wants and
miseries, as he did Christ, 'to help our infirmities,' as the apostle at large,
in Rom. 8:20, sets down the excellent office of the Holy Ghost, what he does in
those that are Christ's. Let us therefore examine ourselves, what the Spirit
does in us, if Christ be set apart to redeem us as a priest. Surely all his
offices go together. He does by the same Spirit rule us, Rev. 1:5, 'He has
washed us in his blood, and made us kings and priests.' Whosoever he washes in
his blood he makes him a king and a priest, he makes him by the power of his
Spirit able to rule over his base corruptions. We may know then, whether we have
benefit by Christ by his Spirit, not only by the Spirit witnessing that we are
the sons of God, but by some arguments whereby the Spirit may witness without
delusion. For though the Spirit of Christ tells us that we are Christ's, yet the
proof must be from guiding and leading, and comforting and conforming us to
Jesus Christ, in making us kings and prophets, enlightening our understandings
to know his will, and conforming us to be like him. The Spirit of Christ is a
Spirit of power and strength. It will enable us to perform duties above nature,
to overcome ourselves and injuries, it will make us to lack and to abound, it
will make us able to live and to die, as it enabled Christ to do things that
another man could not do. So a Christian can do that, and suffer that that
another man cannot do and suffer, because he has the Spirit of Christ.
At the least, whosoever has the Spirit of Christ, he shall find that Spirit in
him striving against that which is contrary, and by little and little getting
ground. Where there is no conflict, there is no Spirit of Christ at all. I will
not be large in the point, only I speak this by way of trial, to know whether we
have the Spirit of Christ in us or no. If not, we have nothing to do with
Christ; for Christ saves us not as he is out of us only. Christ was to do
something of himself that we have no share in, only the good of it is ours. He
was to redeem us by his blood, to be a sacrifice. The title to heaven and
salvation was wrought by Christ out of us. But there is somewhat that he does
not only for us, but he works in us by his Spirit, that is, the fitting of us
for that he has given us title to, and the applying Of that that he has done for
us. Whosoever therefore has any benefit by Christ, he has the Spirit to apply
that to himself and to fit and qualify him to be a member of such a head, and an
heir of such a kingdom. Whosoever Christ works anything for, he does also work
in them. There is a Spirit of application, and that Spirit of application, if it
be true, it is a Spirit of sanctification and renovation fitting us every way
for our, condition.
Let us not abuse ourselves, as the world commonly does, concerning Christ. They
think God is merciful, and Christ is a Saviour. It is true, but what has he
wrought in thee by his Spirit? Hast thou the Spirit of Christ? Or 'else thou art
none of his,' Rom. 8:9. Wherever Christ is, he goes with his Spirit to teach us
to apply what Christ has done for us, and to fit us to be like him. Therefore,
let those that live in any sins against conscience, think it a diabolical
illusion to think God and Christ is merciful. Aye, but where is the work of the
Spirit? All the hope thou hast is only that thou art not in hell as yet, [only]
for the time to come; but for the present I dare not say thou hast anything to
do with Christ, when there is nothing of the Spirit in thee. The Spirit of
Christ conforms the spouse to be like the husband, and the members to be like
the head. Therefore, beg of Christ that he would anoint himself king in our
hearts, and prophet and priest in our hearts, to do that that he did, to know
his will as a prophet, to rule in us as a king, and to stir up prayers in us as
a priest, to do in some proportion that that he does, though it be in never so
little a measure, for we receive it in measure, but Christ beyond measure. We
must labour for so much as may manifest to us the truth of our estate in Christ,
that we are not dead but living branches.
But how or by what means does Christ give his Spirit to us? This Spirit that is
so necessary for us, it is given by the ministry of the gospel, which is the
ministry of the Spirit. 'Received ye the Holy Ghost by the works of the law, or
by the hearing of faith preached?' Gal. 3:2. When the love of God in Christ, and
the benefits by Christ, are laid open in the preaching of the gospel to us, God
gives his holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Now God in Christ would save us by
a triumphant and abundant love and mercy, and the Spirit of God never goes but
where there is a magnifying of the love and mercy of God in Christ; therefore
the ministry of the gospel, which only discovers the amity and love of God to
mankind, being now reconciled in Christ, it is accompanied with the Spirit, to
assure us of our part and portion in those benefits, for the Spirit is the fruit
of God's love as well as Christ. Christ is the first gift, and the Spirit is the
second, therefore that part of the word that reveals God's exceeding love to
mankind, leaving angels when they were fallen, in their cursed estate, and yet
giving his Son to become man, and 'a curse for us:' the revealing of this love
and mercy of God, and of his Son Christ to us, is joined with the Spirit. For by
the Spirit we see our cursed estate without the love and mercy of God in Christ,
and likewise we are convinced of the love of God in Christ, and thereupon we
love God in return, and trust to his mercy, and out of love to him perform all
cheerful obedience. Whatsoever we do else, if it be not stirred by the Spirit,
apprehending the love of God in Christ, it is but morality. A man shall never go
to heaven except by such a disposition and frame and temper of soul as is
wrought by the Holy Ghost, persuading the soul first of the love and favour of
God in Christ. What are all our performances if they be not out of love to God?
And how shall we love God except we be persuaded that he loves us first?
Therefore the gospel breeds love in us to God, and has the Spirit together with
it, working a blessed frame of sanctification, whereby we are disposed to every
good duty. Therefore if we would have the Spirit of God, let us attend upon the
sweet promises of salvation, upon the doctrine of Christ; for together with the
knowledge of these things, the Holy Ghost slides and insinuates and infuses
himself into our souls.
Therefore the ministers of the gospel should be much in laying open the riches
of God in Christ. In unfolding Christ, all other things will follow, as St Paul
in Titus 2:11,12) 'The grace of God has shined, has appeared gloriously,
teaching us to deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live holily and
soberly in this present world.' Where the grace and love of God is persuaded and
shed into the soul, all will follow.
What is the reason that former times were called dark times (and so they were),
the times of popery a dark age? Christ was veiled, the gospel was veiled, there
was no preaching of salvation by Christ alone, people were sent to stocks and
stones, and to saints, and instead of the word, they were sent to legends and
such things. Christ was obscured, thereupon they were dark ages. Those ages
wherein the Spirit of God is most, is where Christ is most preached, and people
are best always where there is most Spirit; and they are most joyful and
comfortable and holy, where Christ is truly laid open to the hearts of people.
The preaching of mere morality, if men be not careful to open Christ, to know
how salvation is wrought by Christ, and how all good comes by Christ, it will
never make a man perfectly good and fit him for heaven. It may make a man reform
many abuses, like a philosopher, which has its reward and respect amongst men,
but nothing to give comfort at the hour of death and the day of judgment. Only
that whereby the Spirit is conveyed, is the knowledge and preaching of Christ in
his state and offices.
And he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.After Christ was fully prepared, as
he was prepared with the Spirit of God, and with a commission from heaven, from
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, having this high commission, and gifts for it by
the Spirit, he falls upon his office presently. We are never fit for anything
till we have the Spirit, and when we have the Spirit it is active and vigorous
and working. 'He shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.'
He shall not strive nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the
streets.These words set down the mild and sweet and amiable manner of Christ's
carriage upon earth. Here, in his first coming to work the great work of our
redemption, he did not carry the matter in an outward glorious manner, in pomp;
but he would have his miracles concealed ofttimes and himself hidden. His
Godhead was hid under the veil of his manhood. He could not have wrought our
salvation otherwise. If the devil and the world had known Christ to be as he
was, they would never have made those attempts against him. Therefore,
considering he had such a dispensation to work our salvation as a king, priest,
and prophet, he would not cry and contend and strive, he would not come with any
Now, here is an opposition to the giving of the law, and likewise to the coming
and carriage of civil princes. You know when the law was given all the mount was
on fire, and the earth thereabout quaked and trembled, and the people fled. They
could not endure to hear the voice of God speaking in the mount; there was such
a terrible smoke and fire, they were all afraid. Thus came Moses. Now, did
Christ come as Moses? Was the gospel delivered by Christ as the law was, in
terrors and fears? Oh, no. Christ came not in such a terrible manner, in thunder
and lightning; but the gospel, it came sweetly. A dove, a mild creature, lit
upon the head of Christ when he was baptized, to show his mild manner of
carriage; and he came with blessing in his mouth in his first sermon of all:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are they that mourn, blessed are they
that hunger and thirst after righteousness,' Matt. 5:8,4,6. The law came with
curses: 'Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the
law to do them ' Gal. 3:10. Christ came in another manner; the gospel was
delivered in a mild, sweet manner. Christ, as an ambassador, came sweetly to
entreat and beseech. There is a crying, indeed, but it is a crying out of love
and entreaty, not a shouting in a terrible manner as was at the giving of the
law, no, nor as at the coming of other civil princes into a city, with shouting
and noise of trumpets, with pomp, and state, and great attendants. Christ came
not into the world to execute his kingdom and office in such pomp and noise as
it is said of Agrippa, Acts 25:23, 'He came with great pomp.' So worldly princes
carry things thus, and it is needful in some sort. People must have shows and
pomp; the outward man must have outward things to astonish it withal. It is a
policy in state so to do. But Christ came in another manner. He came not to make
men quake and tremble that came to speak and deal with him. He came not with
clamour and fierceness; for who would have come to Christ then? But he came in a
mild, and sweet, and amiable manner. We see a little before the text (ver. 16),
upon occasion of the inference of these words, he commands and charges them that
they should not reveal him and make him known. When he had done a good work he
would not have it known.
Now, there are three things especially insinuated in this description,
He shall not strive nor cry, neither shall any man hear his voice in the
street.' That Christ should not be outwardly glorious to publish his own
excellency, nor contentious; he should not cry nor quarrel, nor he should not be
clamorous, if he had any wrong, to be all on fire presently, but he should be as
a meek lamb, he should make no noise, he should not come in vainglory or
But here we must know that Christ was a wise discerner of the fitness of times;
for sometimes he would have things published, sometimes he would not; sometimes
he would be known, sometimes he would not. Christ, in his second coming, shall
come all in majesty and glory with his angels, and all the earth shall appear
before him; but now his wisdom told him, now he came to save the world as a
prophet, priest, and king, to work man's salvation, that he must hide and
conceal himself; and so he ordered all his courses by discretion. Every
sacrifice must be salted with salt, everything should be seasoned with the salt
of discretion. This is the steward of all our actions, to know what is fit.
Christ knew it was fittest to conceal himself now at this time.
Now, by Christ's example we should learn this, not to be vainglorious, not to
make a great noise. You have some, if they do anything that is good, presently
all the world must know it. This was not Christ's disposition. It is a
disposition that is hardly wrought out of man's heart without an exceeding great
measure of the Spirit of God; for we see good men have been given this way.
David would number the people, that it might be known what a great monarch he
was, what a great number of people he had, 2 Sam. 24. He was a good man, yet
vainglorious. He smarted for it. So good Hezekiah. Ambassadors were sent to him
from the king of Babylon, and that they should know that Hezekiah was no
beggarly prince, out must come the vessels of the temple and all his treasures,
to show what a rich king the king of Judah was, 2 Kings 20:13, et seq. His
vainglory cost him all his riches, as the prophet told him. So the disciples.
Before they received a great measure of the Spirit, how vainglorious were they!
They contended for the higher place; therefore they advise Christ to go up to
Jerusalem, that he might be known. As Jehu said to Jonadab, 'Come up and see my
zeal for the Lord of hosts,' 2 Kings 10:16, he accounts it nothing unless it be
seen. So flesh and blood. If there be anything done that is good, all the world
must know it presently. Christ charged them that no noise should be made, but
that they should conceal him.
What should we learn hence?
To be of Christ's disposition, that is, to have no more care of the knowledge of
things than the light of the things themselves will discover, to do works of
light, and if the things themselves will break forth to men's eyes and they must
see our light shine, then let them, and imitate our good works; but for us to
blazon them abroad ourselves, it is not the spirit of Christ.
Let us labour to have humility of spirit, that that may grow up with us in all
our performances, that all things that we speak and do may savour of a spirit of
humility, that we may seek the glory of God in all things more than our own.
And let us commit the fame and credit of what we are or do to God. He will take
care of that. Let us take care to be and to do as we should, and then for noise
and report, let it be good or ill as God will send it. We know ofttimes it falls
out that that which is precious in man's eye is abominable in God's. If we seek
to be in the mouths of men, to dwell in the talk and speech of men, God will
abhor us, and at the hour of death it will not comfort us what men speak or know
of us, but sound comfort must be from our own conscience and the judgment of
God. Therefore, let us labour to be good in secret. Christians should be as
minerals, rich in the depth of the earth. That which is least seen is his
riches. We should have our treasure deep. For the disclosure of it we should be
ready when we are called to it, and for all other accidental things, let them
fall out as God in his wisdom sees good. So let us look through good report and
bad report to heaven; let us do the duties that are pleasing to God and our own
conscience, and God will be careful enough to get us applause. Was it not
sufficient for Abel, that though there was no great notice taken what faith he
had, and how good a man he was, yet that God knew it and revealed it? God sees
our sincerity and the truth of our hearts, and the graces of our inward man, he
sees all these, and he values us by these, as he did Abel. As for outward things
there may be a great deal of deceit in them, and the more a man grows in grace,
the less he cares for them. As much reputation as is fit for a man will follow
him in being and doing what he should. God will look to that. Therefore we
should not set up sails to our own meditations, that unless we be carried with
the wind of applause, to be becalmed and not go a whit forward; but we should be
carried with the Spirit of God and with a holy desire to serve God, and our
brethren, and to do all the good we can, and never care for the speeches of the
world, as St Paul says of himself: 'I care not what ye judge of me, I care not
what the world judgeth, I care not for man's judgment,' I Cor. 4:3. This is
man's day. We should, from the example of Christ, labour to subdue this
infirmity which we are sick of naturally. Christ concealed himself till he saw a
fitter time. We shall have glory enough, and be known enough to devils, to
angels, and men ere long. Therefore, as Christ lived a hidden life, that is, he
was not known what he was, that so he might work our salvation, so let us be
content to be hidden men. A true Christian is hidden to the world till the time
of manifestation comes. When the time came, Christ then gloriously revealed what
he was; so it shall be revealed what we are. In the mean time, let us be careful
to do our duty that may please the Spirit of God, and satisfy our own
conscience, and leave all the rest to God. Let us meditate, in the fear of God,
upon these directions for the guidance of our lives in this particular.