|The Glory of the Gospel
by Thomas Goodwin
Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and generations, but now is made
manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the
glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of
glory.Col. 1. 26, 27.
We have done with the subject and author of it, let us come to the properties of
1. It is rich; 2. Glorious.
1. First, Rich; so chap. 2 ver. 3, he tells us that in it or him, that is, the
gospel or Christ, of both which he speaketh, are 'hid all the treasures of
wisdom and knowledge.' Now the riches of this knowledge appear in three things.
(l.) In abundance; (2.) Preciousness; (3.) Gainfulness. And such is the
knowledge of Christ.
(l.) First, Abundant. For that place tells us that it is 'all knowledge,' via
eminentiae; as metaphysics is said to be all knowledge, because of the fulness,
largeness of the subject of it, all truths and axioms in other sciences being
swallowed up in its principles. Such is this knowledge also, the subject of it
being Christ; and therefore, as Christ contains in him, via eminentiae, all the
treasures of perfection that are in any creature, and is 'full of grace and
truth,' John 1:14, so doth the knowledge of Christ contain in it all the
treasures of wisdom, and all that is worth knowing; treasures which can never be
drawn dry or exhausted, which the mind of man can never waste; but bringing in
new revenues of new notions daily, so as the more is spent, the more may be.
Other knowledges being but of the creature, are but imperfect; for the things
known are such, and cannot fill the mind with abundance of knowledge, for the
things have not wherewithal to do it, though they be known to the utmost. 'But
in him all fulness dwells,' verse 19: fulness of truth to fill the mind, as well
as fulness of grace to fill the will, John 1:14. And indeed, for abundance,
'unsearchable riches,' Eph. 3:8.
(2.) Secondly, It is a rich mystery for the preciousness of it. The promises of
it are 'exceeding precious,' 2 Pet. 1:4. Every truth in it is precious, so Paul
tells us, 1 Cor. 3:12. All truths of the gospel built upon the foundation,
Christ, he calls pearls, and gold, and silver; and all the enticing words of
man's wisdom, hay and stubble. Yea, Prov. 3:15, 16, Solomon says, wisdom and
understanding is better than gold and silver, which yet commands all in the
world. And if rubies and precious stones be more worth than gold, 'she is more
precious than rubies.' And what is it that makes things precious, that is not
found in the saving truths and promises of the gospel?
[l.] Antiquity makes things precious; so small pieces of coin and medals, if
ancient, are precious. And this was coined in heaven, and in God before all ages
and generations, and bears the image of the great King. It is 'the everlasting
gospel,' Rev. 14:6.
[2.] Things fetched from afar are precious. Not a word of this but fell from
heaven. Christ came from heaven, where he heard and saw all the truths revealed
in it, and so delivered them to us, John 3:31, 32. And this difference is put
between the law and the gospel, Heb. 12:25. The law was spoken from the earth,
the gospel from heaven.
[3.] Things dearly bought are precious. Every truth of the gospel cost Christ
his blood to make it so; 'the law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by
Jesus Christ.' As grace cost his blood, so truth also; for both cost the same
price. 'All the promises are yea and amen in him.' They had all been blanks if
he had not set his blood as a seal to them.
[4.] Things carefully laid up are precious. The gospel hath had the richest
cabinet in the world, God's breast; there is the original of it, Eph. 3:9. The
original copy lies there, the counterpart in the heart of God's elect, 2 Cor.
3:3. 'Ye are the epistle of Christ, written by the Spirit of the living God.' In
whom therefore it is said to 'abide for ever,' 1 Pet. 1:25, locked up in the
church, the pillar and ground of truth.
[5.] Things which perish not are precious, especially if still they preserve
themselves from what attempts to corrupt them, 1 Pet. 1:7. Faith is therefore
said to be precious, because it perisheth not, though 'tried in the fire.' Such
are the truths of the gospel, which though men have endeavoured to corrupt it by
a world of the dross of human errors and inventions, yet God hath still come
with fire and tried it. And still the more men labour to mingle dross with God's
truth, still it endures the fire, and comes out clearer and clearer in every
age. Ps. 12:6, 'The words of the Lord are pure words, as silver tried in a
furnace of earth, purified seven times.' There is no truth of God but hath been
tried in one age or other. Heresies have been brought in, yet it remains pure,
maintains itself. The truth was as mingled with dross in Pelagius's time, and
then purified. So in Bradwardine's time, and then also it came out purer; and so
now with fine dross, but God will purify it.
(3.) A third thing in riches is profitableness; and in that respect the gospel
to the saints is a rich gospel. It talks not only of riches as stories do, as
that of Solomon's time, when silver was as stones of the streets; nor doth it
open heaven's treasury gates, and show them the riches of it only, as Hezekiah
did the ambassadors that came to visit hima man may thus hear and see the
riches of another, and be a poor man stillbut riches is 'Christ in you,' saith
the text. When he hears and receives the gospel aright, it fills his lap full,
he carries Christ and all his riches home with him.
Well might Solomon say, as Prov. 3:14, 15, 'Happy is the man that findeth
wisdom, and that gets understanding; for her merchandise is better than silver,
and the gain thereof than fine gold.' And if anything in the world be better
than these, which yet the world hath, as rubies and precious stones seem to be,
'She is more precious (saith he) than rubies.' And if still the heart of man
should enlarge its vast desires and wide gapings to some more conceived precious
things than these, though unknown; do, says Solomon, stretch the compass of your
desires to as great a wideness as you can; desire what you can, 'and all you can
desire is not to be compared to her.' It is not only exceeded, but there is no
comparison. And this he speaks not of the preciousness, as in itself, but of the
gain and profit it brings to the possessors. 'Their gain,' says he, &c.
But you will say, Wherein consists these riches of the gospel?
Answer, 'Which (riches) is Christ in you.' And can you make an inventory, and
ever value and appraise his goods? Surely, No.
First, Christ is worth all God is worth, as he is the Son of God; for he is the
only Son, the 'well-beloved Son, in whom God is so well pleased,' that he will
not give a penny away from him; he is the heir, and shall have all. And the
gospel makes him yours, with all his riches, which riches is 'Christ in you.'
Thus the apostle argues and pleads the evidence of the right a Christian hath to
all things, 1 Cor. 3:22, 23, 'All things are yours, for you are Christ's, and
Christ is God's.'
God himself can be worth but all things, Christ is worth what God is, for all
things that are God's are Christ's. And you have as much as Christ hath. What
riches are here! All things are given to be inherited, Rev. 21:7, by the same.
And as sure a title as Christ, Rom. 8:17, we are put into God's will, 'joint
heirs with Christ,' though not joint purchasers, for he purchased all, and all
these gives freely; no debts are to be paid, nor legacies or portions out of
them. Rom. 8:32, 'If he hath given us Christ, shall not he with him give us all
things freely?' Christ is not only worth all things as the heir, and we are
worth so much because Christ is given to us, but he paid for all things dearly.
And look what the revenues of Christ's blood come to; that and so much is a
For Christ paid ready down, at his death, an invaluable sum of merit into his
Father's hands (as a deposit), as a common stock or bank, to be employed for the
good and use of all his saints, who are to have the full worth of them out to
eternity. 'You know,' says the apostle, 2 Cor. 8:9, 'the grace of Christ; how,
when he was rich, he became poor' (mark it), for your sakes,' to enrich you. Now
what must these riches come to, think you, which are laid up for you; whenas
Christ was as rich as God himself, 'thought it no robbery to be equal with God,'
Phil. 2:6, as good in estate every whit? Now of all these riches he emptied
himself, ver. 8, left himself not worth one farthing, and 'became poor,' had not
a hole left to hide himself in, 'made himself of no reputation,' of no account
or reckoning, making overall for you. And what must this come to? The riches of
God put out to use, to be received with advantage again, if possible, and put
into sure hands, even God the Father's, who hath bid us 'owe no man anything but
love.' And surely he loves his own too well to owe them anything.
If they should doubt, he hath entered into bond, and the gospel is that bond,
which is therefore called a 'rich gospel,' because it is the promise of all
these riches; Eph. 3:6, 'partakers of the promise of the gospel.' It is the
gospel that makes us partakers of the promise, that is, the things promised; and
they are, ver. 8, 'the unsearchable riches of Christ.' So as if you desire
particularly to have the value of them, or in gross, the total sum, they are
unsearchable riches which cannot be counted over to eternity, much less be
spent. Riches in justification, to have all debts paid the first day, and that
would enhance unsearchable riches. Set a price on all angels, all creatures, it
would not pay one note, the least bill. All other things are not worth so much;
it cost more to redeem souls than so. And besides, to have still left so rich
righteousness as purchased 'riches of grace,' to have the Spirit poured out
richly, as Tit. 3:6. The word in the original is 'riches of glory,' Eph. 1:18.
In respect of which all riches in the world are but as crumbs of the rich man's
table, or relics given to the poor. The kingdom of Turkey (as one called it),
but a crust thrown to a dog. And is it not a rich knowledge then, that enriches
the knowers of it, which should invite men to learn it? For if men think other
knowledge in itself so rich, as to be content to spend their estates, to attain
but notions to fill their brains, not purses; then how much more for this, which
as it is precious, so it brings in all these riches as the gain of it?
Angels are invited to search it for the preciousness of it, and yet these riches
are not 'Christ in them,' but 'Christ in you.' But then do but know and study
your own riches and evidences for them; therefore in Eph. 3, where the end of
revealing these riches is laid open, ver. 8, there are two sorts of creatures,
says he, to whom God intended to reveal them, first, men, ver. 9; secondly,
angels, ver. 10; but with this differing intent, that the angels might know the
wisdom which was in the gospel, ver. 10. The harmony in the plot is what the
angels are taken with; and this, though men may also see in the gospel, yet
further the end was, that they 'might know the fellowship of the mystery,' that
is, that they might be made partakers of it.
2. Secondly, glorious; as it is a rich mystery, so also glorious, 'What is the
riches of the glory,' &c., which words, as other Hebraisms, are convertible;
'rich glory,' or 'glorious riches,' so as no man can say whether the riches or
the glory of it be greater.
Now this glorious title the apostle gives often unto the gospel, as 1 Tim. 1:11.
And 2 Cor. 4:4, 'lest the light of the glorious gospel should shine into them.'
And in the third chapter of that epistle throughout, he fully displays the glory
of it, which the apostle doth by comparing it with the law, or covenant of
works, because there was no question of any other knowledge never so excellent,
yet revealed, that could stand on terms of comparison with it.
The law indeed, says he, it was a glorious law, though written but in stones and
dead letters; and therefore, when it was ministered. the 'glory of God appeared
on the mount,' Exod. 24:16, 17, to note out, that that law was the glorious
image of his will. And therefore also even the 'face of Moses,' 2 Cor. 3:7, by
whose hands it was administered, 'shining, so as the people could not behold it
for the glory of his countenance.' And 'so terrible was the sight,' saith the
author to the Hebrews, that Moses said, 'I quake and tremble,' Heb. 12:21.
But yet says Paul, ver. 8, 9, The gospel, it 'exceeds in glory,' yea, and so far
exceeds, as ver. 10, as the law which was thus made glorious, had no glory in
respect of this glory which excelleth; but like as the sun, when it ariseth,
puts out the lesser eyes of heaven, dims, yea clean obscures these otherwise
glorious tapers, so as they have no glory in this respect, so the gospel exceeds
the law. And if you ask wherein it exceeds in glory, the answer is, Because it
is the ministration and revealer of far more glorious things to the saints than
ever the law could do.
If you ask, What glorious things are communicated and revealed therein? I answer
out of the 3d and 4th chapters, which explain the glorious work of the gospel on
men's hearts, when they are brought to God. For when any man is converted at the
preaching of the gospel, first, before the word works, the Holy Ghost falls on a
man; as when Christ was baptized, heaven opened, and 'the Holy Ghost descended
and rested on him:' so in Acts 10:44, when the gospel was preached by Peter,
'the Holy Ghost fell on them;' and of the Spirit the gospel is the ministration,
and not the law. Gal. 3:2, 'I would ask of you, received you the Spirit by the
works of the law, or of the hearing of faith?' that is, the gospel, for so faith
is taken for the doctrine of faith. And this ministration of the Spirit is by
virtue of a covenant made (Isa. 59:21) with Christ; that Spirit that was in him,
and word that was in his mouth, to wit, the gospel, should not depart out of the
mouth of his seed's seed for over, but it should accompany his elect.
And is not then the gospel a glorious gospel, that makes men partakers of the
Holy Ghost, and that for ever? Which Spirit is a 'Spirit of glory,' 1 Pet. 4:14,
which rests on his; the 'Spirit of glory,' because it fills the man it dwells in
with glory. For look, as when God descended into the visible temple, it was
filled with glory, 2 Chron. 7:1; and by reason of that presence the ark itself
was called 'the glory,' Rom. 9:4: so when God fills the preaching of the gospel
(whereof the ark was a type) with his glorious Spirit, and by it fills the heart
of a man with that Spirit also, as Eph. 5:18, there is a new glory put upon that
But Secondly, This gospel is by the power of this Spirit the ministration of
righteousness to the man God means to call, and therefore also glorious, as the
apostle there argues; that is, this gospel, by the help of the Spirit working
faith in his heart, reveals the righteousness of Christ to be made his, and that
exceeds in glory; for it is this 'righteousness' which in the last verse of that
third chapter is called 'the glory of the Lord,' viz., Christ; who being the
'Lord of glory,' the 'King of glory,' 1 Cor. 2:8, what a glorious righteousness
must this be which the gospel thus reveals? And it reveals it not by engraving
or dead colours, as the law did; but as in a glass. And as that glass is
glorious wherein the sun shines, the very image there puts down all the stars,
so this glass, the gospel, must needs be glorious, wherein the 'Sun of
righteousness' shines, as he is called, Mal. 4:2. Neither doth it reveal it
only, but dispenseth it, it is the ministration of righteousness; Christ's
righteousness, which is the glory of the Sun, the King of glory, made ours to
justify us. And therefore, Rev. 12:1, the church appears 'clothed with the sun,'
even with Christ himself and his glory, who is therefore said to be 'our
righteousness,' Jer. 23:6. Hereby, as Christ said of the lilies, Mat. 6:29, that
'Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these;' so may I say of
all the angelswho yet are the bright morning-stars, that 'sang when the world
was made,' Job 38:7that they are not clothed with such a glory as the gospel
dispenseth to us; such a robe never came on their backs, nor never shall. And is
not this a glorious gospel then?
Thirdly, In the sight and dispensation of the glorious righteousness of Christ,
we come yet to see a further glory shining on us, and still in the gospel; so in
the 4th and 6th verses of the next chapter, 2 Cor. 4. For the gospel gives 'the
light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ;' that
is, through the righteousness of Christ we come to see the glorious sunshine of
the favour of God, the light of his countenance lift up upon us. For when Moses
would see his glory, the Lord proclaimed only this, Exod. 34:6, 'The Lord
merciful and gracious.' And as he is 'the Father of glory,' Eph. 1:17, so his
mercy is 'the riches of his glory,' Rom. 9:23, and Ps. 90:14, 15, 16. The
church, praying for mercy and favour, says, 'Let thy glory be on thy servants;'
and therefore is not this a glorious gospel, that reveals this to a man also,
that God graciously accepteth us in the beloved?
Fourthly, The beholding thus the glory of Christ, viz., his righteousness in the
gospel, it changeth us into the same image, from glory to glory, verse the last
of the third chapter; that is, makes grace in us, which is truly glorious, and
therefore, Ps. 45, the church is said to be all glorious within, Eph. 5:26, 27,
'He sanctifies his church, that he might present it a glorious church.'
Justification not only makes us glorious, but sanctification also, and this is
dispensed by the gospel, for that sanctifies us to the end of the world, John
17:17, and is the glass we are changed by.
Nay, fifthly, The very light itself whereby we do behold these things in the
gospel, and are thus changed, is glorious, 1 Pet. 2:9, 'We are called of
darkness to a marvellous light.' And the joy that ariseth out of beholding
Christ's righteousness as ours, and God's favour, it is 'joy unspeakable and
glorious,' 1 Pet. 1:8.
And last of all, It gives us certain hope of a further glory yet to be revealed,
as the text hath it, and verse 17 of the 4th chapter, 'an eternal weight of
glory.' All the glory of this world it bears no weight, kenh doxa, empty, frothy
glory, as the apostle calls it, but this is an exceeding weight of glory, which
if all that glorious lustre men doat on so, were weighed, it would be but as a
dust balanced against it; so weighty as flesh and blood, that is, the infirmity
of man's nature, if not changed and made capable, could not subsist under it, 1
And all the glory here is a fading glory, but that is eternal, 1 Pet. 1:24, 'All
flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass; the grass
withers, and the flower falleth away,' but the glory of this estate fades not,
ver. 4, but is a flower always green. And the reason is, because the glory of
things is one thing, and the things another, the grass one thing, and the flower
another, and therefore the glory fades and is clean gone, when yet the things
remain. But glory is de essentia to the things above, the very essence of them
is glory itself, and so called; and therefore, whilst the things remain (as they
do for ever), their glory doth. And is not this a glorious gospel?
Use First, If the gospel and the riches of it be thus great, then buy it, Prov.
23:23, 'Buy the truth, and sell it not;' he names no price, for you are not like
to lose by it, cost what it will. This place hath been the greatest mart of
truth, and of the mystery of the gospel, that I know under heaven. Wisdom hath
as it were cried all her wares at this great cross.
This truth has been purchased for you, and that dearly; it cost the blood of
many martyrs to derive it to you, the sweat of many preachers, the prayers of
many saints, and cost God the riches of his patience to see it contemned. Buy it
therefore at any rate.
Especially you who are scholars, you come hither and live under those, read
those who are wholesale men, and you should, whilst you are here, treasure up as
much and as many precious truths as you can, and grace withal to dispense by
retail in the country, when you are sent abroad.
First, Inquire and learn where these treasures are to be had, even in the
Scriptures. The merchant who knew the pearl, was fain to buy the field; Timothy,
from a child had known the Scriptures, and so should you do, 'they are able to
make a man wise unto salvation, and make the man of God perfect.' As the books
of nature, when thoroughly known, make a perfect physician for the body, so doth
this a perfect divine. 'Search the Scriptures,' says Christ, 'for they speak of
me.' As Christ is the treasury of all knowledge, so the Scriptures are of
Christ. These treasures lie scattered in all the veins of the prophets and
apostles; dig for them as for silver, take pains and travel to understand them,
as Dan. 12:4, when he was bidden to seal up his prophecy in the letter, 'Many
shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.' That is, by doing as
merchants do, travelling from place to place, comparing one with another,
knowledge will be increased.
Secondly, Go to the markets and warehouses of those who have laid in or revealed
much of this treasure; that is, use the help of godly men's writings and
conferences. The angels do learn of the church, and why not we? Even Paul
desires to see them at Rome, that he might be comforted by their mutual faith.
Therefore exchange, and truck one with another to that end. Christ hath given
several gifts to perfect his body in knowledge, Eph. 4:12.
The knowledge of any one man is imperfect, some have more skill in one point,
and some in another, and so in several ages several truths have been delivered
and revealed, Heb. 1:1, poulumerwV, by fragments and by pieces, and therefore
use the help of all. None of us are as Paul, to whom nothing can be added (Gal
Thirdly, Go to him above all who hath the key of knowledge, Jesus Christ, Rev.
3:7, pray to him. In 1 Peter 1:10, 'they searched and inquired,' that is, they
studied and prayed; use both. And so the apostles did spend the time in both,
Fourthly, Highly prize and esteem every truth. If a fool hath a price in his
hand, he hath no heart to use it, Prov. 17:16, because he esteems it not. Count
all dross and dung for the excellent knowledge of Christ, dote not on human
learning too much, lest it spoil and rob you of this.
Fifthly, Exchange all for it, sell all for it, sell all that you have for it,
your sins; no saving truths can be yours whilst sin is yours, John 17:17; 1
Peter 1:22, they 'purified their souls by obeying the truth;' for if you receive
the truth as you ought, it will cast out all. Especially lay down pride of
parts, Ps. 25:12, he will teach the humble his secrets, he will not teach proud
scholars. God will not deal nor trade with a wicked man, 1 Tim. 6:4; men being
corrupt of dispositions, are destitute therefore of the truth.
Sixthly, Carry all home, and make them your own. It is not your own whilst it is
in your brains, as no more meat is your own but what you eat; Let it be 'the
ingrafted word,' James 1:21. Be you evangelised.
Use Second, If the gospel be so precious, sell it not, for you can never get the
full worth of it; 'Buy the truth,' saith Solomon, Prov. 23:23, 'and sell it
not,' that is, part not with it at any hand. And this know for your
encouragement, that God takes it not away from any man or nation, until they
willingly part with it or put it away; for why else doth he bid them not sell
it? His meaning is, if you do not, I will never deprive you of it.
To this purpose is the example of Esau brought, Heb. 12:16. For, speaking of
this rich grace offered in the gospel, he bids them take heed that there be no
profane person, as Esau was, that sold his birthright. That look, as God would
not have deprived Esau of the blessing unless he had freely sold it, Jonah 2:8,
Job 33:26, so nor them of the precious gospel.
And he adds this, to enforce this exhortation the more, that a man must not
think to receive it when he will; afterwards he would have inherited the
blessing, sought it with tears, but could not, ver. 17. And as he takes it not
from a particular man, so neither from a nation.
In Acts 13:46, the church of the Jews had been the ancient pillar of truth, and
market for the gospel; God had new precious wares to be offered for sale, which
had lain hid from all eternity, as this text shews. See what Paul and Barnabas
say, who were his sales representatives to trade for him. 'It is necessary they
should first be spoken to you.' It is strange, 'it was necessary,' for God's
custom is not to offer his precious wares to new customers till the old had
refused them. But now, says he, you shew yourselves unworthy; 'Lo, now we turn
to the Gentiles;' we will go seek customers all the world over, rather than you
shall have the offer of them any more. And as in an estate of land wherein three
have a right, until all give over, it is not sold, so in this kingdom there are
three, there are magistrates, ministers, people. If either of these do what they
can to keep it, it is not sold. Therefore to these three doth God look, Jer.
5:1; to the magistrates, to see if that there were a man that sought truth;
secondly, to the common people, who know not the law; and last of all, to the
prophets and priests; and when all conspired, then 'what shall you do in the end
And if the truth be thus rich and precious, let me speak freely to you. Let the
market stand open, take heed how you prohibit any truth to be sold in your
markets; but let the word run and be glorified, and let wisdom cry all her
wares. If every truth be thus precious, is it not an impoverishing of the
kingdom to hinder the traffic of any? Nay, is it not a hindering the king's
custom? Revenues of God's glory ariseth out of the custom of these wares. Those
times are in a great danger of selling away these truths, that cannot endure (as
Paul speaks, 2 Tim. 4:3, 4) wholesome doctrine.
Secondly, Take heed of suffering falsehood to be sold for truth. Rev. 2:20, one
of the churches is blamed for suffering Jezebel to teach and to seduce Christ's
servants. If we do so, we shall have popery bought for truth, Arminianism for
truth, and so by degrees sell away that blessed inheritance which our
forefathers left us; as heirs do sell away their lands, first one lordship and
then another, piece by piece, till all be gone; and so our silver by little and
little becomes dross, as Isaiah speaks, chap. 1:22. This will provoke God (if
anything) to sell you into your enemies' hands for nought, Ps. 44:12.
But, thirdly, if it be thus precious, 'hold it fast,' as Paul speaks to Titus,
chap. 1:9, 'hold fast the faithful word.' The word signifies to hold against
contrary pulling it away, antecomenoi. If a man would not sell the inheritance
left him, much less would he suffer it to be taken from him. Suppose it be but a
trifle, yet men in a case of right will spend their estates to hold their own,
though the suit will not bear its own charges. But when you contend for the
truth once given, as the apostle Jude exhorts, you labour to preserve not your
own only, but God's right. It is not about a trifle, but for that which Christ
once spent his blood; and it is 'the faithful word,' as the apostle calls it, a
cause that will stick to you, and maintain itself, be sure to overcome; and not
bear its own charges only, but brings a crown with it, 2 Tim. 4:7, 8, 'I have
fought the good fight, I have kept the faith, henceforth a crown is laid up for
me.' Christ did witness so before Pontius Pilate, 1 Tim 6:13.
And, last of all, if it be thus rich as well as precious, let it 'dwell richly
in you,' as the word is, Col. 3:16. Give it not poor but rich reception, as you
would do a rich kinsman who means to make you his heir, and estate you in all
And to that end, labour to grow rich in the knowledge of it, and speech of it,
as Paul speaks, 1 Cor. 1:5, 'that you may be enriched in all knowledge, and in
all utterance,' or speech about it, as men labour to know what they are worth,
and love to talk of it.
Bestow riches of assurance on it, as Col. 2:2, that you may have 'the riches of
full assurance of understanding;' and James 2:5, to be rich in faith.' Trust in
him, as men that are rich use to do in their riches, Prov. 10:15. And though
their riches be uncertain, and not able to do what they expect, yet this is
profitable for all things, having so many rich promises made for you to rely
Bestow riches of obedience on it, endeavouring to grow 'rich in good works,' as
the apostle speaks, 1 Tim. 6:18. Spend the most precious of your time and
thoughts upon it.
Uses of that doctrine,the glory of the gospel.
First, For trial; whether a man hath savingly received it or no. For if it be
thus glorious, then they, are still blinded to destruction that see it not in
the glory of it. This is the direct consequence of the apostle himself in 2 Cor.
4:4. For he having discoursed of that rich and excellent glory which it reveals,
then, says he, those that have lived so long under the preaching of it are
'lost,' into whose hearts the light of this glorious gospel hath not shined. And
certainly, saith he, 'the god of this world hath blinded their eyes,' that is,
the devil,by varnishing over the vain glittering scheme and gloss of the things
of this world, as he did to Christ, Mat. 4:8,dazzles them so, that they see no
more glory in the things which the gospel reveals, than blind men do. The fault
must certainly be in men's eyes; for this glorious gospel, wherever it shines,
is as the sun in itself, it is primum visibile (the original illuminator).
Blind men are never the better for the sun. Though they may have eyes to see the
things the gospel propounds, yet not the glory, the worth, and excellency of
them, so as to be intimately and deeply affected with them; as to be content to
leave house, lands, father, and wife, for the gospel's sake, as Christ speaks,
Mark 10:29, that is, to enjoy those things you hear spoken of in the gospel.
And this is that which Christ expressly, out of Isaiah, speaks of the blind
Pharisees, to whom the glory of Christ was preached in the gospel, John 12:40,
41. For, says he, Isaiah seeing that his glory spoke this of them, 'that God had
blinded their eyes, &c., that they should not see;' that is, not see that glory
of Christ as preached to them, so as Isaiah saw it, and all saints, to be
humbled and converted by it.
Examine yourselves therefore. You go up and down in the world here, and you view
daily the riches of it, and the pleasures of it, the beauty, the credit, the
glory of it. And from viewing these things, you often come here to the word,
which as a glass that the sun shines in reveals Christ to you, the necessity,
the worth of his Spirit, righteousness, and graces, which are laid open to your
view daily. Now seriously tell me, or rather thy own heart, in which of these
dost thou see most glory, by which art thou most intimately allured? Shall I
tell thee? If ever thou hadst savingly seen the glory of the things of the
gospel, all the excellencies of the world would seem no excellencies. When thou
goest from the church again into the world, the devil's varnish would melt off,
as women's makeup doth against the sun; and as candles burn dim and wan when set
against the sun, so these.
The things thou didst account most glorious before thy eyes were opened, would
seem to have no glory in comparison of this glory, as the apostle speaks of the
law, 2 Cor. 3:10, of this glory that so excelleth, excellens sensibile destruit
sensum (overpowering sensation to the destruction of the senses). It would put
out the carnal eye quite and clean. This you may see, Isa. 40:5, 6, where the
Holy Ghost speaks expressly of the preaching the gospel by John the Baptist,
whom in the third verse he calls the 'voice of a crier;' and Peter applies the
place to the preaching of the gospel, 1 Pet. 1:25. Now (says he, ver. 5) the
glory of the Lord Christ should thereby be revealed, and so revealed, that all
flesh should see it, that is, many believers both of Jews and Gentiles, for so
'all flesh' is taken also, Ps. 65:2. See it namely in this mirror and glass, 2
Cor. 3:18, and what is the effect of it? Why, 'all flesh is grass,' and the
goodliness or glory thereof, as Peter calls it, 'as the flower of the field.'
And in their eyes now, that have seen 'the superexcellent glory,' it withers and
fades; all the glory of the world appears like withered flowers, for the Spirit
of the Lord, which reveals this glory in the gospel, blasts, blows upon them
all, so as they lose their gloss and esteem in men's hearts; they can never dote
on them again as before.
What is learning, thinks the poor soul, in comparison of grace? What is all the
world to the righteousness of Christ? And then all the glowworm righteousness of
a man's self, which civil men glory in, so vanisheth, which once shined in the
dark, so when this sun ariseth. So it did with Paul, Philip. 3. Then, however a
man thought of himself before, as thinking he had many excellencies in him, yet
having seen this glory, he falls down, as Isaiah did in like case, Isa. 6:5, 'I
am undone,' I am unclean, a vile wretch, that deserves undoing and destruction.
Secondly, If it be thus glorious, see if thou art able to behold the glory of
it, comfortably and joyfully, without winking. In 2 Cor. 3:18 the apostle brings
all believers to the same trial that the eagle doth her young ones; for as she
brings them to the sun, and if they be able to behold it without dazzling or
winking, then she accounts them of a right breed; now, so doth the apostle bring
all believers to 'the glory of the Lord,' shining in the mirror of the gospel
('and we all,' says he, 'with open face behold the glory of the Lord') to look
full upon it. And so indeed unto eagles are they compared in Matthew; for why,
their hearts are changed into the same image, so as there is a suitableness
between them and it. The strictest preaching, that reveals the glory and beauty
of grace in its strictest and most spiritual hue, a good heart can look full
upon it and love it. That ministry that darts in the clearest and hottest beams
is the most welcome, and hath the most comfortable influence into their hearts.
In the 4th of Malachi, where the prophet speaks of the preaching of the gospel
by Jesus Christ, as appears by the 5th verse, where he speaks of John Baptist
before the day of Christ's appearing, 'Unto you that fear my name shall the Sun
of righteousness arise with healing in his wings, and ye shall go forth as
calves of the stall;' that is, Jesus Christ, who then ariseth in men's hearts,
when by the gospel God gives the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in
the face of Christ Jesus, as 2 Cor. 4:6, 2 Pet. 1:19. Now those precious truths,
and the beams thereof, he compares to wings, because the beams of the sun are
spread forth, even as the wings of the eagle, brooding over all the earth, and
the things in it, and by them flying into all the corners of it.
So doth Jesus Christ spread forth beams of truth into believers' hearts, and by
them comes into their hearts, as the sun is said to do; when the beams of it
come into a house, you say the sun comes in. Now these beams, if they should not
heal and change our hearts into the same image, they would dazzle and confound
men's consciences; therefore it is added, they have healing with them, and
therefore now, like calves, they can go forth, and rejoice and leap for joy in
the light of it. Whereas sore eyes, that are not healed, are amazed and
terrified at the sight of it; and therefore in the first verse he says, 'They
shall be burnt up,' as they in Rev. 16:8, 9, that are scorched with the heat of
the sun, and so blasphemed and opposed the word. And as in hot countries some
have cursed the sun when it ariseth, so they the gospel and the light of it.
They hate it, rejoice when any of the 'witnesses' are dead, as they, Rev. 11:10,
because 'they tormented them that dwelt on the earth.' Like swine laid on their
backs against the sun, they cease not crying till they be on their feet again;
or if they cannot avoid it, yet they wink with their eyes, as they, Mat. 13:15.
For if men be unholy and profane, whoremongers, liars, &c., then the glorious
gospel is contrary unto them, as 1 Tim. 1:10, 11, compared.
But if thou beest not able to behold the glory of the gospel, how wilt thou
behold Christ coming in his glory, to render vengeance with 'flaming fire' to
them that obey not this gospel?
Thirdly, If it be thus glorious, then see if thou endeavourest to glorify and
admire this gospel, and bring honour to it, which is a third consequence whereby
you may know whether you receive it in the glory of it or no; for all things we
apprehend glorious, we labour to glorify and set forth as much as we may; and
this ground on 2 Thess. 3:1. 'Pray,' says the apostle, 'that the word may run
and be glorified,' &c., that is, that it may have not only free progress in the
world, run upon wheels, as the word signifies, but when it is entertained
according to the glory and worth of it, as it was amongst these Thessalonians,
who received it as the 'word of God, and not of man,' 1 Thess. 2:13. 'Turning
from idols, to serve the living God,' chap. 1:9; parting with all their sins,
and setting up God in their hearts; receiving it 'in much affliction,' ver. 6,
yet rejoicing in it 9 with joy unspeakable and glorious;' being content to part
with lands and all for the gospel's sake, as Mark 8:35; having a care of their
conversation in all things, that it may be as becomes the gospel, as he exhorts,
Phil. 1:27; when men contend for every truth of it, as Paul in the next words,
ver. 28, 'striving together for the faith of the gospel,' continuing immovable,
not removing from the 'hope of the gospel,' as Col. 1:2, 3; leaving all for the
hopes of what it reveals, accounting this the greatest blessing and privilege
they can enjoy in this life to enjoy it; rejoicing in it more than in wisdom,
learning, strength, riches; glorying that a man knows God merciful and gracious,
which is the message of the gospel, as Jer. 9:23, as the Galatians did, Gal.
4:14, 15, when they first received Paul, they received him as an angel: 'Where
was then the blessedness you spoke of?' They so magnified this mercy, that they
counted it the greatest blessing of all other, that though a people be blessed,
when their garners are full, &c., yet, as if nothing were to be accounted of, he
says, 'Happy is that people whose God is the Lord,' &c., Ps. 144:15.
Use 2. If the gospel be thus glorious, then see and acknowledge what is truly
the glory of any people, and the lack whereof leaves them in the most miserable
and inglorious condition; even the gospel. The law, which as this 2 Cor. chap. 3
tells us, had not any glory in this respect, yet made the people of the Jews a
great nation in the eyes of all round about them, Deut. 4:6-9. The nation that
should hear of all these statutes should say, 'This is a great nation, that hath
God so nigh them; and what nation so great, that hath statutes and judgments so
righteous as all this law?'
That which anciently made one commonwealth excel another, to flourish more and
continue longer, was the excellency and righteousness of the laws and form of
government among them. This made Lacedemonia great, kept the Venetian state
standing these 1300 years, and hath made them accounted a great, and a wise, and
an understanding people. But all the nations had not such a law as this in all
parts; 'all this law,' so just, so holy, it being that law by which man in his
holy state was governed, which the angels in heaven live by, which set not up
men as their kings and rulers, but sets God up as their protector, makes him
'nigh them,' ver. 7. Therefore, Ps. 76:1-4, in that God was known in Judah, this
made it 'more excellent than the mountains of prey.' He compares all the
kingdoms of the world besides to wild waste places, where outlaws dwell, savage
and cruel wild beasts, that prey upon one another, in the absence of the
knowledge of this law to civilise and tame them.
And, therefore, though the Israelites were famous for deliverances above all the
nations of the world, fuller of inhabitants than any nation, as the sands of the
sea (which is the glory of a kingdom, Solomon says, Prov. 14:28), flowing more
with outward blessings than any nation else; in a word, though their privileges
were much every way above the Gentiles, Rom. 3:2, yet chiefly (says he) 'that to
them were committed the oracles of God.' This you see is made the top and height
Now, if the law made them thus glorious, and the obscure revealing of the
gospel, and indeed but the 'shadow,' as Heb. 10:1, the shine and glimmering as
it were of the glory of the gospel, how much more must that make a people
glorious (whenas it comes to be fulfilled) which Habakkuk foretold, Hab. 2:14,
that 'all the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
as the waters cover the sea.' And if in any age or in any coast it is or hath
been full tide, it is now in England.
In 1 Sam. 4:22, when the ark was taken, it was said, 'the glory of Israel is
departed.' Now, the ark, which was covered with the mercy-seat and the
cherubims, was the place where God appeared, sitting between the cherubims, and
shining bright, as Ps. 80:1, and met the people, Exod. 25:22, whence he spake
and gave oracles, Num. 7:89; and therefore is called the 'speaking-place,'
debir, 1 Kings 6:23. And therefore the ark was called the 'glory,' Rom. 9:4; and
'cherubims of glory,' Heb. 9:5. Now, what was this ark a type of, which was thus
the glory of Israel? Of the gospel. For, Heb. 9:23, they were all patterns of
things in heaven.
Now, as the temple was the type of the church under the gospel, Rev. 11:1, so
the ark was of Christ, revealed in the preaching of the gospel, in the last
verse of that chapter. There was seen in his temple the 'ark of his testament,'
wherein Jesus Christ comes and meets his people, and speaks from heaven, and
wherein believers behold his glory, 2 Cor. 3:18; and therefore they are called
the 'oracles of God,' 1 Pet. 4:11. So as when we prophesy, men fall down
convinced and say, 'God is amongst you,' 1 Cor. 14:25. And the cherubims,
between which God sits and speaks, are ministers of the gospel, as you shall
So as indeed the manifestation of the gospel is called 'the glory,' as the ark
was of old. So, I take it, that place is to be understood, 1 Pet. 1:10-12,
where, speaking of our privilege who enjoy it, he says, 'the patriarchs did
foretell the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that followed;' namely, that
spreading of the gospel, shedding forth of the Spirit, and gifts, which made
those times glorious times after Christ's ascension. Yea, in this respect, the
congregations assembled to hear this gospel, God manifesting his presence, are
called 'the glory;' I say the assemblies are, Isa. 4:5, which place is to be
understood of the times of the gospel, and the calling of the Jews; 'God will
create upon her assemblies a cloud by day, and a shining fire by night,' to
guide them as in the wilderness, 'for upon all the glory shall be a defence;'
that is, upon all those assemblies, which, for the presence of God thus
gloriously amongst them, he calls 'the glory.'
And this gospel hath made this kingdom and this town as a 'crown of glory in the
hand of the Lord;' and 'the glory of the whole earth,' as Jerusalem is called,
Isa. 62:7; the glorious diamond in the ring of the world.
And this it is which did raise that great opinion in the hearts of other
nations, that we were accounted a great people, as Deut. 4:6, 7, a wise and an
understanding people, and full of humanity and amiableness of carriage; whereas
others are accounted rude and barbarous, that lack it in the power that we have
it. For when the earth, or any land, is filled with 'the knowledge of the Lord,'
it takes fierceness and wildness away from the inhabitants of it. Not from these
only whom it converts, but whom it convinceth, Isa. 11, from the wolves and the
lions, so as not to hurt, verse 9.
'Emollit mores, nec sinit esse feros.'
(Morality softens those not allowed to be fierce.)
It makes men more noble and ingenuous, as those of Berea were, having received
the gospel, Acts 17:11. That is it which hath struck much terror in former times
into the hearts of our enemies, as in Jehoshaphat's days; when he was careful to
send Levites to teach in every city, 'fear fell upon all the kingdoms round
about, so as they made no war,' 2 Chron. 17:10. And God being 'known for a
refuge in our palaces,' 'fear took hold of the kings of the earth,' Ps. 48:3 and
That is it which hath been our defence; for, Isa. 4:5, where the glory of God
is, there is a defence upon all the glory; that when they combined together to
make an attempt, as in Eighty-eight. As it is in the same Psalm, 48:4-7. Kings
were assembled, a great many, as appears by the 7th verse, and they passed by
all along our coasts, but they were troubled, and they wasted away; and God
broke the ships of Tarshish with the east wind, God being known for a refuge,
verse 3. And where the gospel runs without rub, and is glorified, there, when
enemies come in like a mighty flood, thinking to bear all before them, Isa.
59:19, when 'they fear the name of Jehovah from the west' (which is thought to
be meant of these western churches, as they have been always called), 'and his
glory from the rising of the sun: when the enemy comes in as a flood, the Spirit
of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.' Ps. 76:1-3, 'In Judah is God
known, and his dwelling-place is in Zion: there brake he the arrows, and the
bow, and the shield, and the sword, and the battle.' And so, on the contrary,
when we go against others, on just quarrels, if the gospel be glorified amongst
us, the promise is, Isa. 58:8, 'the glory of God shall be thy rearguard;' shall
make an army for us, to fight for us. This defended this town from the plague.
This is that which, when sought and embraced above all things, makes other
blessings be cast into the bargain, as Christ promiseth, find to which also we
owe all the peace, plenty, and abundance of all things, which since the day we
had the gospel we have enjoyed, which, if we had not, yet it is blessing enough.
Rom. 15:29, 'I shall come to you in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel,'
which whoso enjoys they lack no blessing. It is full of blessing when it comes
to a place, and it carries all away when itself removes. Look upon a town where
once the king's court was kept, and then it flourished and abounded with
blessings, which haply before was poor as Newmarket; but when that is once
removed to come no more, look on it then again, and how poor, how desolate, doth
such a town grow!
And Christ, where he comes in, enricheth the place he keeps court in. He did
good to men's bodies, and souls also, when on earth, and so now in heaven, where
his tabernacle is pitched. But when he removes, Mat. 23:38, 'Behold your houses
are left unto you desolate.' Why? "For I say, Ye shall not henceforth see me,
till ye say, 'Blessed is he,' &c." Judea, that once did flow with milk and
honey, is now barren
'Insula dives opum Priami dum regna manebant.'
(Riches remained on the island during the reign of Priam.)
Great must the misery of that place be, then, from which the glory is departing,
for then their defence is gone, and they are left naked, exposed to the fury of
their enemies, as the people were in the sight of their enemies, Exod. 32:25,
stripped of all their ornaments and armour, and therefore 'the people mourned,'
chap. 33, and then destruction doth certainly and inevitably follow.
Ezek. 9:3. Before the executioners of vengeance came with their
slaughterweapons, the glory of the Lord went away from the cherub, and then the
wrath of God falls upon men to the utmost, as upon the Jews, 1 Thes. 2:16, that
is, in greater extremities than upon any other. Neither is the tenure of us
Gentiles so sure as was theirs; it was as their freehold, Rom. 9:4. 'To them
appertained the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the promises.' Rom. 11:21,
'If God spared not the natural branches, take heed how he spare not thee: be not
high-minded, but fear.' 'Towards thee, goodness, if thou continue in his
goodness; otherwise thou shalt be cut off,' ver. 22. And yet they are cut of,
and have been these sixteen hundred years, and that glory which belonged to them
is departed from them, and not yet returned; and have we not cause to fear?
To that end, let us consider some signs of the departure of this glory from a
people, and this in those degrees wherein usually it departs.
First, When those outward privileges, which I mentioned before, which have been
pawns of its presence, are a-going, and a people is bereft of them; for when you
see the train departing and the followers sent away, you expect the court
removes shortly. When God 'turneth the glory' of a kingdom 'into shame,' as
Hosea 4:7, he threateneth, makes it 'base in the eyes of its neighbours,' as,
Ezek. 17:14, he did that of Judah before captivity, so as they are made a
derision to those to whom they were a terror. When we see blessings ebb,
attempts blasted, armies blown away and dissolved as dust-heaps in a nation that
was once honourable, victorious, terrible, prosperous. Winter is nigh when
leaves fall off.
And so God did with the Jews, before that final taking of the gospel from them,
by taking first away their beauty, their honour and glory, and outward liberties
and privileges of a nation, which once they had enjoyed, broke the 'staff of
beauty,' and then 'of bands,' Zech. 11:10, 14, then disuniting and scattering
them over the face of the earth.
The second thing that departs before the gospel departs is the inward, glorious
presence of God's Spirit which once did shine in his ordinances, that though men
enjoy the outward, visible signs of his presence, have the ark and preaching of
the gospel and cherubims among them, yet the Spirit is gone. Ezek. 9:3, it is
said that 'the glory went up from the cherubims' before the destruction that
followed, that though the cherubims and temple and ark still remained, yet the
glory was gone. Now, the cherubims signified the ministers of the gospel, as you
shall hear anon.
Now, when God withdraws his Spirit from us, then the glory goes hence, for in
this 2 Cor. 3. This is that which makes the gospel glorious, 'the ministration
of the Spirit;' so that, as the glory of the body is gone when the soul is out,
so the glory of the gospel is gone when the Spirit is departed, for without it
it is but a dead letter. 'For the kingdom of God' (Paul speaks it of preaching
of the gospel, 1 Cor. 4:20) 'consists not in word, but in power;' so that when
that power is gone, the kingdom is gone. Now, whilst that power goes forth, so
long God hath elect to call, 1 Thes. 1:4, 5, 'Knowing your election to be of
God, because our gospel was not in word only, but in power and in the Holy
Ghost, and in much assurance. And when the elect is gone, God takes away the
But when you shall hear sermons, and lay open the excellent things of the law,
and reveal the secrets of the gospel, which the angels pry into, and yet the
Holy Ghost withdraw himself, that neither wicked are convinced to fall down and
say, 'God is amongst them,' the high fortresses of carnal opinion, corrupt
practices, are not cast down in the congregations that hear them, nor are they
reformed at all, but they that were filthy are filthy still; when the best are
dead, and dull, and cold under it, their hearts are not warmed as they were wont
to burn with them, as the disciples' hearts were when they went to Emmaus; when
God ceaseth to shew himself terrible to the wicked in his holy place, Ps. 68:35,
but then when the sentence of damnation is clearly pronounced against men, yet
they all hear it as the song of one can sing well; when God creates not a cloud
and a pillar of fire upon our assemblies, as Isa. 4:5, to guide, enlighten, and
clear our hearts in the ways of godliness; when few are added to the church and
none to God, it is a sign God hath his elect out, and that the glory is going.
The second temple was more glorious than the former, Hag. 2:9, yet the former
was outwardly more glorious. If Christ be present, he makes the glory with less
learned teaching. And it is for your sakes God assists, 1 Thes. 1:5, 'What
manner of men for your sakes.'
Thirdly, Then the Spirit is withdrawing, when wicked hearts grow weary of
iteven the wicked a while rejoiced in John's light-and godly men are
indifferent whether they enjoy it or, no, this is a further sign of its
departure, and an effect of the former. Amos 8:5, men cried there, 'When will
the Sabbath be gone,' and sermon over, that we may get back to work again, and
not lose too much time?
And what follows on this? He upon this threateneth, ver. 9, that 'their sun
shall go down at noon;' that glorious light God had set up amongst them, should
set in the very noon and height, when it might have run a course many years
after; an eclipse, a total one came on the sudden, even at noonday. And if the
place should not be meant of the light of the word, as I think it is, yet verse
11 expressly threateneth upon this, 'a famine of the word,' &c. That word which
before had rained down as manna, and they were weary of it and would scarce go
out of doors to hear it, now they should run from sea to sea, and not find it.
Or suppose they be not weary of it, as the godly are not, yet if they be not
earnest with God by prayers for it, and continuance of it, when they do not
strive together, as Paul exhorts them, Rom. 15:30, but they sit still and let
all go, and strive not; and if God will provide for them, and send forth
labourers, so it is; whereas Christ tells them they must pray, Mat. 9:88. You
are bidden pray for daily bread, and it must cost you sweat besides; and do you
think to enjoy bread of heaven without praying daily for it, yea, and that
sweating in prayer also? Jesus Christ looks to be constrained to stay with a
people, as with those disciples, Luke 24:28, 29. Whereas otherwise he would have
gone further, and certainly would. When the keys are laid aside that should
unlock the cupboard, whence the children should have bread, they are likely to
lose their suppers. Now these keys are prayers. If Paul be given them, it must
be by prayer, Philem. 22.
A fourth sign of the departure of this glory is when men begin to let error and
idolatry creep in, which is an effect of the former; for (2 Thes. 2:10) men
having no pleasure in truth, but in unrighteousness, God gave them up to lies,
and they provoke the Lord to departure, Gal. 2:6.
In case of circumcision, says Paul, 'I would not yield, or give way, not for an
hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.' As if he had said,
If I had given way to a small error, it had endangered the continuance of the
gospel with you; how much more, when gross errors, contrary to our points of
catechism, and principles of religion, are admitted in a church and suffered to
be taught, and grow upon us; but much more must this glory depart when idolatry
gets footing. Then God's glory departs amain. Ezek. ix., When did the glory go
from the cherub to the threshold of the door? When, chap. 8, idolatry was
committed in the secret chambers, yea and in the temple, in worshipping towards
the east; then there was no room left for God, he withdrew himself to the
threshold, shewing he would fain have had a room amongst them, but he was
justled out, glad to stand at the threshold, one foot in, another out, for what
fellowship hath God with idols? 2 Cor. 6:16. God will not walk among you where
And then, Fifthly and lastly, the glory wholly departs when the cherubims do
ascend or are removed, Ezek. 11:22. When the cherubims lift up their wings, then
the glory went from the city quite. Now cherubims are angels, both celestial,
and these on earth, namely, ministers of the gospel. For if you would see what
these cherubims were, see Ezek. 1:5, 6. They were four beasts, who had faces of
a lion, a man, an ox, an eagle, and wings full of eyes. Now in the 10th chapter,
verses 1, 14, and 20, these are called cherubims. Now, if you would see what
these beasts are, see Rev. 4:6, where the same living creatures are in the same
manner described with the same faces, wings, and eyes; Rev. 5:11. And there they
are made distinct from the twenty-four elders, that is, the saints and angels;
and therefore by them are meant the ministers and magistrates, especially
ministers, whereof some are lions for zeal and courage, and terror in preaching;
others oxen, for their pains, and diligence, and constancy, and plainness;
others are men, preach more rationally to convince the gainsayers; others
eagles, that have more deep insight into heavenly mysteries, and soar high and
Now, when error is let in, and idolatry is admitted, then look for the cherubim
to ascend, to be removed. And in any state, or in the mean time, when a cherub
ascends up to heaven, that had the face of 'a man and an eagle,' from a
particular place, the glory of God sometimes goes with him; as when old Eli
died, the wife of Phinehas said, 1 Sam. 4:20, 'The glory was gone,' not only
because of the ark, but also because of her father-in-law.
And now let me exhort you, of this place and kingdom, seriously to consider the
state and condition of the gospel, standing amongst you, and whether many of
these signs are not fulfilled before your eyes. For the present, to let the
kingdom go, look homeward to yourselves. Is not the glory of this place
exceedingly vanished of late years in men's opinions abroad? Do they not suspect
unsoundness in doctrine, and otherwise? Doth God fill his ordinances as sails
with the wind he had wont to do. Your hearts know best, who have had experience
of former times. Remember the breathings and warnings of former times. It may be
our faults, yet sure I am, we are assisted 'for your sakes' especially, 1 Thes.
1:5. And accordingly do our tongues cleave to the roof of our mouths. Do not
your hands, which should be lift up to God for supply, even then when your
losses and fears are greatest, grow slack and flag, and your hearts faint? Do
you seek God with mourning and weeping, and stir up one another to do so? Do not
errors bordering on popery creep in upon us apace, and begin to overgrow us, and
our silver to become dross? Is not one of the cherubs ascended, others removed,
your sun set at noon, a total eclipse threatened?
Yet at length, brethren, bestir yourselves. Would you have the word dwell with
you? 'Let the word dwell in you,' Col. 3:15. Get acquaintance with it, be
familiar to it, keep it company in your thoughts, converse with it, meditate in
it day and night, let it lie, sleep, wake, walk, sit, ride with you.
Also be valiant for truth, 'Hold fast the things you have been taught,' Rev.
2:24, 25. However other opinions may be thrust upon you under pretence of
depths, as there are, 'yet hold fast till I come;' so you may enjoy it till
Take heed of having pleasure in unrighteousness, 2 Thes. 2:10. It will give you
up to lies to be damned. Turn from folly, and return to it no more, but fear the
Lord, Ps. 85:8, 9, compared. 'Let them not return to folly.' Salvation is nigh
to them that fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.'
Bless God for, and prize the meanest that bring the glad tidings of salvation in
power and faithfulness, Mat. 23:39. 'I will go hence,' says Christ, 'till they
say, Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord,' and then will I return
You young ones, get you grace into your hearts, and the word rooted there, that
when it dies in old men, there may be a succession of it in you.
Above all, be earnest with God, pray that he thrust forth labourers into his
harvest. 'God feeds the ravens that cry to him,' Job 38:41, that wander up and
down, know not where to have a meal's meat next; and as Christ argues, 'Doth God
take care for lilies and birds,' Matt. 6:26, 'and are not you better than they?'
Are not you children? And is not the word children's bread? That is, it is
theirs, appointed for them, Mat. 15:26. No prayers of children pierce their
parents' ear more than when they cry for bread, for those that are born must be
kept. Lam. vi- 3, 'Sea monsters give their breasts to their young ones,' much
God is loath to remove from an ancient dwelling-place, as you may see by his
lingering in Ezek. 9:3. To the threshold, thence to the midst of the city, &c.
His promise is to give them pastors according to his own heart, if there be but
one or two in a city, Jer. 3:14, 15; and there are more in this town.
And Ps. 132:11, 'God swore to David, that if his children keep my covenant, &c.,
they should sit upon his throne,' and God would make it his rest, ver. 14. It is
a trouble to him to remove, and therefore at the 17th verse he says, 'He will
ordain a lamp,' that is, when one candle is out he will give another; so 1 Kings
15:4 it is interpreted.
Now, the same promises are to you all for the sure mercies of David; I say, are
promised to be established to all that are in covenant. As one light is out, God
will set up another; as of magistrates, so of ministers, Jer. 33:17, 18. I say
as Samuel, 1 Sam. 12:22-24, 'For the Lord will not forsake his people for his
great name's sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.
Moreover, as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to
pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the
Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things
he hath done for you. But if you shall still do wickedly, you shall be