Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > The Bunyan-Burrough Debate > Bunyan, Some Gospel-Truths Opened [1 of 6]
TO THE READER,
READER, thou hast in this small treatise set before thee the several pieces of that great and glorious mystery, Jesus Christ, God manifested in the flesh: and if thou art enlightened by the Spirit of Christ, here thou mayst see by that Spirit how Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Son of Mary, is both true God and true man, both natures making but one Christ, one Jesus; as Phil. ii.5-9, where, speaking first of his being God, and then of his taking upon him the nature of man; afterwards in the 8th and 9th verses, he saith, he (meaning this Jesus) humbled himself, &c., and God (meaning the Father) hath highly exalted him, &c., speaking of both natures, God and man, as together making but one Christ; who is the Saviour, and is to be believed and trusted in for salvation, not only as God, but as man also; and those who do not thus make him the object of their faith, will surely fall short of pardon of sin, and of salvation, (Acts xiii.38,39:) "Through this man," speaking of Christ crucified at Jerusalem, "is preached unto you forgiveness of sins." And, saith he, there is "one Mediator between God and man," (1 Tim. ii.5,) "the man Christ Jesus;" and this discovers the damnable errors of those commonly called Socinians, who on the one hand deny him that was born of the Virgin Mary to be true God as well as true man. And this is also quite contrary to those commonly called Familists, Ranters, Quakers, or others, who on the other hand either deny Christ to be a real man without them, blasphemously fancying him to be only God manifest in their flesh; or else make his human nature, with the fulness of the Godhead in it, to be but a type of God, to be manifest in the saints; and so, according to their wicked imagination, his human nature was to be laid aside after he had offered it up on the cross without the gate at Jerusalem, contrary to Acts i.1-3,9-11, compared with the last chapter of Luke, ver. 39,40,50,51, where it is clearly held forth, that the man Christ rose again out of the grave, with the same body which was crucified and laid in the grave, and was taken up above the clouds into heaven with the same real body, and that he shall again descend from heaven in that same glorious body of flesh, as Acts i.9-11. And this sure truth of Christ being the Saviour and Mediator, as man, and not only as God, will also show serious believers what to think of some, who though they will not, it may be, deny that Christ is a real man without them in the heavens as well as God, yet do own him to be the Saviour only as God, first dwelling in that flesh that was born of the Virgin, and then dwelling in saints, and thus both beginning and perfecting their salvation within them; and so indeed do hold Christ as man, to be only, I say to be only, the saved or glorified one of God, together with the saints his members, only something in another and more glorious manner and measure than the saints; and these high-flown people are in this very like to Familists and Quakers, undervaluing the Lord Jesus Christ, God-man, and though they may speak much of Christ, yet they do not rightly and savingly lay him for their foundation.
Now as a help against all these dangerous things, thou hast here the main things of Christ laid down before thee briefly, and fully proved by the Scriptures.
First. Of his being true God out of flesh from eternity, and then of his taking flesh, or the nature of man, upon him in the womb of the Virgin, and so his fulfilling the law, his dying for sins at Jerusalem, his rising again without, his ascending into heaven without, and not into a fancied heaven only within, as some say; his interceding in heaven for all his, and his coming again in his body of flesh to judge the world. And if thou art yet in a state of nature, though covered over with an outside profession, here thou mayest find something, if the Spirit of Christ meet thee in reading, to convince thee of the sad condition thou art in, and to show thee the righteousness thou art to fly to by faith, and to trust in for salvation, when convinced of sin; which is a righteousness wrought by that God-man Jesus Christ without thee, dying without thee at Jerusalem for sinners. Here also thou mayest see the difference between true and false faith. If thou art a true believer, as these things are the foundation of thy faith, so they may be of great use for thee to meditate upon, and to exercise thy faith in, particularly in meditation, and in this way to seek daily for a higher faith in these truths, to be given into thy heart from heaven; and there is a great need of this, for though these truths be commonly known amongst professors to the notion of them, yet very few know or believe them aright: nay, it may well be said in this age, that if the faith of the true saints was well sifted, and tradition, notion, and the apprehensions of their own reason and fancy were sifted out, most of them would be found to have very little knowledge of, and faith in these common truths.
Secondly. These truths being put thus together, and plainly proved by the Scriptures, may be a great help, through the Spirit concurring, to strengthen thee against all those damnable heresies which are spread abroad, which deny the Lord Jesus Christ, either plainly, or more cunningly and mysteriously. And
Thirdly. The more thou art rooted and set down from heaven in the faith of these truths of Christ, to believe fully the glorious reality of them, and their interest in them, the more heavenly peace and joy thou wilt have, (1 Pet. i.7,8;) and also thou wilt hereby attain the more true holiness and purity of heart and life, purifying their hearts by faith. (Acts xv.9.) And then the more thou hast of the right faith of Christ, and of his things in thy heart, the more strong and valiant wilt thou be in spirit, to do any work private or public for Jesus Christ; like Stephen, (Acts vi.8,) who being full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, was also full of power.
In this book thou hast also laid down from the Scriptures, how Jesus Christ is without the saints as man, and yet dwelleth within them; that is, something of his divine nature or his blessed Spirit dwells within them, which Spirit is sometimes called the Spirit of Christ, (Rom. viii.9,) "He that hath not the Spirit of Christ," &c.; and sometimes called Christ, "If Christ be in you," &c. (Rom. viii.10.) And also how we may know whether it be Christ and the Spirit of Christ within, or a false spirit calling itself Christ; and that is thus. If it be indeed Christ within, that is, the Spirit of Christ God-man; why then it teaches that man or woman in whom it is, to apply, and trust in Christ without for salvation; Christ as born of the Virgin Mary, as fulfilling the law without them, as dying without the gate of Jerusalem as a sacrifice for sin; it teaches them to trust in the man Christ as rising again out of the grave without them, as ascending into, and interceding in heaven without for them; and as to come from that heaven again in his flesh to judge the world. Thus the man Christ himself saith, "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, &c., he shall glorify me." (John xvi.13,14.) He shall make you more to prize, admire, and glorify me, who am both God and man, and who shall be absent from you touching my body. Then follows, For he shall take of mine (of my glorious things), and show them to you; he shall take my divine and human nature, my birth, my person and offices, my obedience, death, satisfaction, my resurrection, ascension and intercession, and of my second coming in the clouds with my mighty angels to judgment, and shall show them, or clear them up to you: He shall take of my salvation, which I have wrought for you in my own person without you; and he shall take of my glory and exaltation in the heavens, and show to you. Now to mind this one thing, and to be set down in a right understanding of it, by the Spirit, from the Scriptures, will be of great concernment to thee and me; for, for want of this, many professors have split themselves, some looking only on what Christ hath done and suffered without them, resting in an historical, traditional, and indeed a fancied faith of it, without looking for the Spirit of Jesus Christ to come with power into their hearts, without which they cannot rightly know, nor rightly believe in Christ the Son of God without them, so as to have any share or interest in him: "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." (Rom. viii.9.) Others have been depending too much upon something they call Christ, and the righteousness of Christ within them, in opposition to Christ and his righteousness without them, from which all true saints have their justification and comfort, it being received through the operation of the Spirit which dwells in them; and however these may talk much of Christ within them, yet it is manifest, that it is not the Spirit of Christ, but the spirit of the devil; in that it doth not glorify, but slight and reject the man Christ and his righteousness which was wrought without them. Reader, in this book thou wilt not meet with high-flown airy notions, which some delight in, counting them high mysteries, but the sound, plain, common, and yet spiritual and mysterious truths of the gospel; and if thou art a believer, thou must needs reckon them so, and the more, if thou hast not only the faith of them in thy heart, but art daily living in the spiritual sense and feeling of them, and of thy interest in them. Neither doth this treatise offer to thee doubtful, controversial things, or matters of opinion, as some books chiefly do, which when insisted upon the weightier things of the gospel, have always done more hurt than good: but here thou hast things certain and necessary to be believed, which thou canst not too much study. Therefore pray that thou mayest receive this word, which is according to the Scriptures, in faith and love, not as the word of man, but as the word of God, without respect of persons; and be not offended because Christ holds forth the glorious treasure of the gospel to thee in a poor earthen vessel, by one who hath neither the greatness nor the wisdom of this world to commend him to thee; for as the scripture saith, Christ, who was low and contemptible in the world himself, ordinarily chooseth such for himself, and for the doing of his work. (1 Cor. i.26-28.) "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world," &c. This man is not chosen out of an earthly, but out of the heavenly university, the church of Christ, which church, as furnished with the Spirit, gifts, and graces of Christ, was in the beginning, and still is, and will be to the end of the world, that out of which the word of the Lord, and so all true gospel ministers, must proceed, (1 Cor. xii.27,28,) whether learned or unlearned as to human learning. And though this man hath not the learning or wisdom of man, yet through grace he hath received the teaching of God, and the learning of the Spirit of Christ, which is the thing that makes a man both a Christian and a minister of the gospel. "The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned," &c., (Isa. l.4, compared with Luke iv.18;) where Christ, as man, saith, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor," &c. He hath, through grace, taken these three heavenly degrees, to wit, union with Christ, the anointing of the Spirit, and experience of the temptations of Satan, which do more fit a man for that weighty work of preaching the gospel, than all university learning and degrees that can be had.
My end in writing these few lines is not to set up man, but having had experience with many other saints of this man's soundness in the faith, of his godly conversation, and his ability to preach the gospel, not by human art, but by the Spirit of Christ, and that with much success in the conversion of sinners, when there are so many carnal empty preachers, both learned and unlearned; I say, having had experience of this, and judging this book may be profitable to many others, as well as to myself: I thought it my duty upon this account, though I be very unfit for it, to bear witness with my brother to the plain and simple and yet glorious truths of our Lord Jesus Christ. And now, reader, the Lord give thee and me a right understanding in these things, that we may live and die, not with a traditional, notional, dead faith, but with a right spiritual lively faith of Christ in our heart, wrought by the mighty power of God; such a faith as may make Jesus Christ more real and precious to us than any thing in the world, as may purify our hearts, and make us new creatures, that so we may be sure to escape the wrath to come, and after this life enjoy eternal life and glory through the Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Farewell, thine to serve thee in the Lord Jesus,
SEEING the Lord hath been pleased to put it into my heart to write a few things to thee, reader, touching those things which are most surely believed by all those that are, or shall be saved, (Luke i.1. Acts xiii.38,) I think it meet also to stir up thy heart by way of remembrance, touching those things that are the hindrances of thy believing the things that are necessary to the welfare of thine immortal soul. And, indeed, this is the only thing necessary: it is better to lose all that ever thou hast, than to have thy soul and body for ever cast into hell; and, therefore, I beseech thee to consider with me a few things touching the stratagems or subtle temptations of the devil, whereby he lieth in wait, if by any means he may, to make thee fall short of eternal life. (1 Pet. v.8.)
And, first of all, he doth endeavour by all means to keep thee in love with thy sins and pleasures, knowing that he is sure of thee if he can but bewitch thee to live and die in them. (1 Cor. vi.9,10. 2 Thess. ii.12.) Yea, he knows that he is as sure of thee as if he had thee in hell already. (John iii.19.) And that he might accomplish his design on thee in this particular, he laboureth by all means possible to keep thy conscience asleep in security and self-conceitedness, keeping thee from all things that might be a means to awaken and rouse up thine heart: as, first, he will endeavour to keep thee from hearing of the word, by suggesting unto thee this and the other worldly business which must be performed, so that thou wilt not want excuse to keep thee from the ordinances of Christ, in hearing, reading, meditation, &c.; or else he seeks to disturb and distract thy mind when thou art conversant in these things, that thou canst not attend to them diligently, and so they become unprofitable; or else, if thou art a little more stirred, he labours to rock thee asleep again, by casting thee upon, and keeping thee in evil company, as among rioters, drunkards, jesters, and other of his instruments, which he employeth on purpose to keep thee secure, and so ruin thy soul and body for ever and ever.
If not thus, then peradventure he will seek to persuade thee it is but a melancholy fit, and will put thee upon the works of thy calling, or thy pleasures, or physic; or some other trick he will invent, such as best agreeth with thy nature, and thus thy heart is again deaded, and thou art kept in carnal security, that thou mightest perish for ever. But if, notwithstanding these and many cunning sleights more which might be named, he cannot so blind and benumb thy conscience, but that it doth see and feel sin to be a burden, intolerable and exceeding sinful; then, in the second place, his design is to drive thee to despair, by persuading thee that thy sins are too big to be pardoned. He will seek by all means possible to aggravate them by all the circumstances of time, place, person, manner, nature, and continuance of thy sins; he will object in thy soul, thou hast outsinned grace, by rejecting so many exhortations and admonitions, so many reproofs, so many tenders of grace; hadst thou closed in with them, it had been well with thee, but now thou hast stood it out so long, that there is no hope for thee; thou mightest have come sooner, if thou didst look to be saved, but now it is too late. And withal, that he might carry on his design upon thee to purpose, he will be sure to present to thy conscience the most sad sentences of the Scripture, yea, and set them home with such cunning arguments, that, if it be possible, he will make thee despair, and make away thyself, as did Judas.
But if he be prevented in this his intended purpose, the next thing he doth beset thee with, is to make thee rest upon thine own righteousness, telling thee, that if thou wilt needs be saved, thou must earn heaven with thy fingers' ends; and it may be, he represents to thy soul such a scripture: "If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" And thou, having, but in the strength of nature, kept thyself from thy former grosser pollutions, and it may be from some more secret sins, art ready to conclude, Now thou doest well; now God accepts thee; now he will pardon, yea, hath pardoned thee; now thy condition is good; and so goest on till thou meetest with a searching word and ministry, which tells thee, and discovers plainly unto thee, that thou dost all this while deceive thyself by a vain hope and confidence; for though thou seek after the law of righteousness, thou hast not yet attained to the law of righteousness, nor yet canst, because thou seekest it not by faith, but, as it were, by works of the law. (Rom. ix.31,32.) Here, again, thou art left in the mire, and now peradventure thou seest that thou art not profited by the works of the law, nor thy own righteousness; and this makes thee stir a little: but in process of time, through the subtle sleights of the devil, and the wickedness of thine own heart, thou forgettest thy trouble of conscience, and slippest into a notion of the gospel, and the grace thereof, and now thou thinkest thyself cock-sure; now thou art able to say, He that lives and dies in his sins shall be damned for them; he that trusts in his own righteousness shall not be saved. Now thou canst cry, Grace, grace; it is freely by grace, it is through the death of the man, Christ Jesus, that sinners do attain unto eternal life. (Heb. ix.14.) This, I say, thou hast in the notion, and hast not the power of the same in thine heart; and so it may be thine head is full of the knowledge of the Scriptures, though thine heart be empty of sanctifying grace. And thus thou dost rejoice for a time. Yet because thou hast not the root of the matter within thee, in time of temptation thou fallest away. (Luke viii.13.)
Now, being in this condition, and thinking thyself to be wondrous well, because of that notion of the truth, and that notion thou hast in the things of God; I say, being in this state, thou art liable to these dangers.
First. Thou art like to perish if thou die with this notion in thine head, except God, out of his rich grace, do work a saving work of grace and knowledge in thine heart; for know this, thou mayest understand glorious mysteries, and yet be a cast-away. (1 Cor. xiii.1-3.) Or else,
Secondly. Thou art liable to the next damnable heresy that the devil sendeth into the world. (See and consider Luke viii.13; 2 Tim. ii.18.) I say, thou dost lie liable to be carried away with it, and to be captivated by it; so that at last, through the delusions of the devil, thou mayest have thy conscience seared as with a hot iron, so hard, that neither law nor gospel can make any entrance thereinto, to the doing of thee the least good. And, indeed, who are the men that at this day are so deluded by the Quakers' and other pernicious doctrines, but those who thought it enough to be talkers of the gospel and grace of God, without seeking and giving all diligence to make it sure unto themselves? "And for this cause God" hath sent "them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness;" as it is written, 2 Thess. ii.11,12. And, indeed, if you mark it, you shall see that they be such kind of people, who at this day are so carried away with the Quakers' delusions, namely, a company of loose Ranters, and light Notionists, with here and there a Legalist, which were shaking in their principles from time to time, sometimes on this religion, sometimes on that. And thus these unstable souls are deluded and beguiled at last. (2 Pet. ii.14.) So that these who before, as one would have thought, had something of God in them, are now turned such enemies to the glorious truths of the gospel, that there are none so obstinately erroneous as they. And, indeed, it is just with God to give them over to believe a lie, (2 Thess. ii.11,) who before were so idle that they would not receive the truth of God into their hearts in the love of it. And to be bewitched by the devil to obey his temptations, and be damned, who would not obey the truth, (Gal. iii.1,) that they might be saved.
But, you will say, what lies are those that the devil beguileth poor souls withal? I shall briefly tell you some of them; but having before said, that they especially are liable to the danger of them who slip into high notions, and rest there; taking that for true faith which is not, I shall desire thee seriously to consider this one character of a Notionist. Such an one, whether he perceives it or not, is puffed up in his fleshly mind, and advanceth himself above others, thinking but few may compare with him for religion and knowledge in the Scriptures, but are ignorant and foolish in comparison of him. Thus knowledge puffeth up, (1 Cor. viii.1;) whereas when men receive truth in the love of the truth, the more the head or heart is filled with the knowledge of the mystery of godliness, the more it is emptied of its own things, and is more sensible of its own vileness, and so truly humbled in its own eyes.
And further, a Notionist, though he fall from his former strictness and seeming holiness, and appear more loose and vain in his practices, yet speaks as confidently of himself, as to assurance of salvation, the love of God, and union with God, as ever. But now, to return, and declare some of those lies which the devil persuades some of these men to believe.
I. That salvation was not fully and completely wrought out for poor sinners by the man Christ Jesus, though he did it gloriously, (Acts xiii.38,39,) by his death upon the cross, without the gates of Jerusalem. (Heb. xiii.12, compared with John. xix.20.)
II. This is another of his lies wherewith he doth deceive poor sinners, bidding them follow the light that they brought into the world with them, telling them, that light will lead them to the kingdom; for, say they, it will convince of sin, as swearing, lying, stealing, covetousness, and the rest of the sins against the law. (Rom. iii.20.) But the law is not of faith. (Gal. iii.13.) And then I am sure that it, with all its motions and convictions, is never able to justify the soul of any poor sinner. "For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them." (Gal. iii.10.) But that no man is justified by the law is evident, for, "the just shall live by faith," (ver. 11.) Now, because I am not altogether ignorant of the delusion of the devil touching this grace of faith also, I shall therefore in short give thee, reader, a brief yet true description from the Scriptures. 1. What true justifying faith is, and what it lays hold upon. 2. I shall show who it doth come from. 3. That every one hath it not. 4. What are the fruits of it.
1. First, therefore, true faith is a fruit, work, or gift of the Spirit of God, (Gal. v.22. 2 Thess. i.11. 1 Cor. xii.9,) whereby a poor soul is enabled, through the mighty operation of God, (Col. ii.12,) in a sense of its sins and wretched estate, to lay hold on the righteousness, blood, death, resurrection, ascension, intercession, and coming again of the Son of God, which was crucified without the gates of Jerusalem, for eternal life, (John iii.16,18, comp. with Matt. iii.17. Gal. ii.20. Rom. v.8-10; iii.25. Acts xvi.31. Heb. xiii.12;) according to that saying in Heb. xi.1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen;" that is, the things that are hoped for faith sees, lays hold upon, and embraces them, (Heb. xi.13,) as if they were present; yea, it seals up the certainty of them to the soul. Therefore, saith the Apostle, it is the evidence, or testimony, or witness, of those things that are not seen as yet with a bodily eye; which are obtained by the blood of the man Christ Jesus, (Heb. ix.14, compared with Heb. x.12,19,20,) by which the soul sees as in a glass the things that God hath laid up for them that fear him. (1 Cor. xiii.12. 2 Cor. iii.18.)
2. If you would know who this faith comes from, read Eph. ii.8. "For by grace are ye saved," saith the Scripture, "through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." Again, in Phil. i.29 it is thus written: "For unto you," that are believers, "it is given in behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake." And thus much do the Apostles hold forth to us in their prayer, or request to the Lord Jesus, when they say, "Lord, increase our faith," (Luke xvii.5;) and he is therefore called the author and finisher of our faith, (Heb. xii.3) Also we find in Jas. i.17, that "every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights," &c.; and therefore faith comes from God, for true justifying faith is a good gift, and perfect in respect of the author, God, in respect of its object, Christ; and in respect of the nature, though not in respect of the degree and measure of it in us; even as a grain of gold is as perfect gold as a pound of gold, though not so much.
3. All men have not faith; this the Apostle witnesseth in so many words, as we find, 2 Thess. iii.2, and Deut. xxxii.20. Also in Tit. i.15: " Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure," &c. It appeareth also in this, that all do not attain salvation, which they must needs do if they had true justifying faith. Compare Luke xiii.24, and 1 John v.19, with Mark xvi.16; and Heb. iv.3 with ver. 6 and 11: "They that believe shall be saved."
4. The fruits of it are, (1.) to purify the heart, Acts xv.9, and 1 John iii.3; and that, as I said before, by laying hold on what Jesus Christ had done and suffered for sinners. (Acts xiii.38,39.) (2.) It fills the soul with peace and joy, in that it lays hold on the things that are obtained for it. (Rom. v.1. 2 Tim. i.9,10. 1 Pet. i.8.) (3.) It makes the soul to wait patiently for the glory that is to be revealed at the second appearing of the man Christ Jesus, whom God hath raised from the dead, which hath also delivered it from the wrath to come; as in Tit. ii.13,14. 1 Pet. iv.13; v.1,4. 1 Thess. i.10.
But how, may some say, doth the devil make his delusions take place in the hearts of poor creatures?
Answer. Why, 1. He labours to render the doctrine of the Lord Jesus, and salvation by him alone, very odious and low; and also his ordinances, as hearing, reading, meditation, use of the Scriptures, &c.; telling poor sinners that these things are but poor, low, carnal, beggarly, empty notions, preached up by the clergymen, who are the Scribes and Pharisees of this generation; who have the letter, but not the Spirit of God in them; which lead men into the form, but not into the power of the Lord Jesus: and with this persuasion he also represents the ungodly and base carriage or behaviour of some, who have taken in hand to preach the doctrine of the Lord Jesus Christ, and thereby he doth render the gospel of our Lord Jesus the more contemptible and base. But woe, woe, woe, be to them by whom such offences come! (Matt. xviii.7. Luke xvii.1,2.) 2. He pretends to lead them up into some higher light, mysteries, revelations of the Spirit, into which a very few have attained or can attain; also bewitching their affections, and taking them with an earnest pursuit after these his pretended truths; persuading them that they shall be as God himself, able to discern between good and evil. (Gen. iii.5.) And in this he is exceeding subtle and expert, as having practised it ever since the days of Adam. These things being thus considered, and in some measure hungered after, and the rather because they are good, as they think, to make one wise, (Gen. iii.6,) the poor soul is all on the sudden possessed with a desperate spirit of delusion, which carries it away headlong with some high, light, frothy notions, and spiritual wickedness, which drown it in perdition and destruction, that doth feed and tickle the heart awhile, to the end it may make way for a farther manifestation of itself in the poor deluded soul; which when it hath attained to, it doth then begin to bring the soul into a clearer sight of those things which it was loth it should know at the first; but having fitted the soul by degrees for a further possession of itself, at last it begins to hold forth its new gospel, showing the soul a new Christ and new Scriptures. The new and false Christ is a Christ crucified within, dead within, risen again within, and ascended within; in opposition to the Son of Mary, who was crucified without, dead without, risen again without, and ascended in a cloud away from his disciples into heaven (Acts i.9-11) without them.
Now, this new and false Christ hath a new and false faith belonging to his gospel, which faith is this, to apprehend this Christ crucified within, dead within, risen again within, and ascended within: but ask them for a scripture that doth positively prove their doctrine, they also have a scripture, but it is within; it doth bear witness within, and if they had not that, though that be of the devil's making, I am sure they would have none out of God's holy Scriptures, for they will allow of no crucified Christ, but he that was crucified without the gates of Jerusalem, (Heb. xiii.12. John xiv.17,18,) dead and buried in the sepulchre of Joseph of Arimathea, (John xix.38-41;) was raised again out of that sepulchre into which Joseph had laid him, (John xx.1-12;) who went before his disciples into Galilee, (Mark xvi.7,) and to Emmaus, (Luke xxiv.15;) showed them his hands and his feet, (Luke xxiv.39,40,) where the nails had gone through; did eat and drink with them after his resurrection; was seen of them on earth forty days after his resurrection, (Acts i.3;) and after that ascended away in a cloud, out of the sight of his disciples into heaven, (Acts i.9-11;) which Christ ever lives to make intercession for us, (Heb. vii.24,25;) who will come again also at the end of the world to judgment, (Acts x.42; xvii.31. 2 Pet. iii.10,11;) who also is the same that hath obtained eternal redemption for us, (Acts xiii.37-39. Rom. iii.25. Eph. i.7. Rev. i.5;)--this, I say, or rather the Scriptures say, is God's Christ, (Matt. xvi.16,) in whom he is well pleased, (Matt. iii.17.) Neither doth God own any other, or allow of any other; for "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved, than the name of Jesus of Nazareth," (Acts iv.10, compared with ver. 11,12.) But, as I told you before, the way to be thus deluded, is first to render God's Christ odious and low, with a pretence of some further light and revelations; and thus, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. (Rom. i.22.)
But, you will say, doth not the Scripture make mention of a Christ within? (Col. i.27. 2 Cor. xiii.5. Rom. viii.10.)
I answer, 1. God's Christ was, and is, true God and true man; he was born of the Virgin Mary, true God and true man. (Matt. i.23.) "And they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted, is, God with us," or God in our nature, according to 1 Tim. iii.16, "God was manifested in the flesh;" and John i.14, "The word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." And in Heb. ii.14, "Forasmuch, then, as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he," that is, God, (Heb. i.8,) "also himself likewise took part of the same, that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." Now, as he was thus true God and true man, so he became our Redeemer and Saviour. Compare the first and second chapters to the Hebrews together, and you may clearly see that this is a glorious truth, that he who is the first and the last, (Rev. i.17,18, and ii.8,) humbled himself, and made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. And was this all? No. He humbled himself unto death, even the death of the cross. (Phil. ii.7,8, compared with Rev. i.17,18; and Rev. ii.8, with Gal. i.4.) Now, after this Christ of God, true God and true man, had wrought out eternal redemption for us poor miserable sinners, (Heb. ix.14 compared with 1 Tim. i.15,) I say, after he had done this, he ascended up into heaven, and there ever lives to make intercession for us. Now, this Christ, having thus completely wrought out our salvation, sends his disciples abroad to preach the same to poor sinners, (Acts ii. and 2 Cor. v.19,20;) and so many as were ordained to eternal life, when they heard the word, or the gospel, preached by the Apostles, which gospel was this Christ, (1 Cor. i.17 compared with ver. 23;) I say, so many as were ordained to eternal life, when they heard the word, the Holy Ghost or Spirit of Christ fell upon them, (Acts x.44 compared with Acts xiii.48,) which did lead them into the redemption and glorious things that the Lord Jesus had laid up and prepared for them. (John xvi.13-15. 1 Cor. ii.9.) Which Spirit was the earnest of their inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory. (Eph. i.13,14.) The earnest of their inheritance was a glorious encouragement, to them that had it, to hope for the glory that was to be revealed at the appearing of Jesus Christ, which is the meaning of that place in Col. i.27. And that will be seen clearly, if we compare with Eph. i.13,14, before recited. Now this Spirit, which sometimes is called the Spirit of Christ, (2 Cor. xiii.5;) this Spirit, I say, being given to all those that were ordained to eternal life, it must needs follow, that those that had not this Spirit, but did live and die without it, were not ordained to eternal life, and so were none of Christ's; but were reprobates, (Rom. viii.9;) for the Spirit of Christ is the distinguishing character betwixt a believer and an unbeliever; he that hath it, and is led by it, is a child of God, (Rom. viii.14;) but he that hath it not, is none of Christ's.
So, then, the answer that I give to the question, is this. The Spirit of Christ that is given to believers, is the earnest or hope of that inheritance that Christ hath already purchased, and is now preparing for so many as he hath given, or shall give, this Holy Spirit unto. And for the proof hereof, read Eph. i.13,14. "In whom," saith the scripture, "ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation." In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance, (which inheritance is the eternal redeption that was purchased by Christ for poor sinners, (Heb. ix.15;) until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Again, (Gal. v.5:) "For ye, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith." And (Col. i.27), the Apostle, speaking of this great mystery, saith, "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;" which glory was then revealed to the saints no otherwise than by faith, as the Apostle saith, "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Rom. v.2.) Which hope is begotten by the Spirit's shedding abroad the love of God in our hearts, (ver. 5,) which hope is not yet seen, that is, not yet actually enjoyed; "For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." (Rom. viii.24,25.) And as I say, the cause of believers' hope is this, Christ, or the Spirit of Christ, in them, the hope of glory. And indeed he may well hope for glory to come, who hath already an earnest thereof given him of God, and that earnest no less than the Spirit of the Lord Jesus. (Rom. viii.16,17).
But now, this Spirit, which is the cause of a believer's hope, all men have not. (Jude 19. Eph. ii.12. Rom. viii.9. John xiv.16,17.) Therefore what a sad doctrine is that which saith, Follow the light that Christ hath enlightened every man withal which cometh into the world; which light is the conscience, that convinceth of sins against the law. And that you may see clearly if you mind that scripture, (John viii.9,) which saith, that the Pharisees, which had neither the love of God, nor his word, abiding in them, (John v.38,43,) when they had heard Christ speaking thus to them, "He that is without sin among you," &c., being convicted by their own consciences, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even to the least. But the devil, that he might be sure not to miss of his design, labours by all means to render the Scriptures also odious and low, telling them of the scriptures within; which Christ never taught, nor yet his disciples. But they, being given up of God to a reprobate mind, have given themselves over, rather to follow the suggestions of the devil, than the holy Scriptures which God hath commanded us to betake ourselves to, (Isa. viii.20, compared with John v.39,) which scripture is called the sword of the Spirit, (Eph. vi.17,) which weapon our Lord Jesus himself held up, to overcome the devil withal. (Matt. iv.4,7,10. Luke iv.4,8,12.) But this design, as I told you, the devil carries on, by pretending to show them a more excellent way which they may attain to, if they be but wise, and follow what is made known unto them from the light within them.
But, reader, that thou mayest be able to escape the snare of this cunning hunter, I shall lay thee down some few directions, which, if the Lord give thee grace to follow, thou shalt escape these wicked delusions.
1. And, first of all, I do admonish thee to be very serious touching thine estate and condition, and examine thine own heart by the rule of the word of God, whether or no thou hast as yet any beginnings of desiring after religion; and if thou findest that thou hast lived until now in ignorance, and hast not set thyself to remember thy Creator as thou art commanded, (Eccl. xii.1,) then I beseech thee consider that thou art under the wrath of Almighty God, and hast been so ever since thou camest into the world, (Eph. ii.1,2;) being thou in thy first parents didst transgress against thy Maker. (Rom. v.18.) "Therefore, as by the offence of one," that is, of Adam, (ver. 14,) "judgment came upon all men unto condemnation." Besides the many sins thou hast committed ever since thou wast born--sins against the law of God, and sins against the gospel of the grace of God; sins against the long-suffering and forbearance of God, and sins against his judgments; sins of omission, and sins of commission, in thoughts, words, and actions. Consider, I say, thy condition; yea, get a very great sense of thy sins that thou hast committed; and that thou mayest so do, beg of God to convince thee by his Holy Spirit, not only of sins against law, but also of that damning sin, the sin of unbelief.
2. If thou, by grace, art but brought into such an estate as to see thyself in a lost condition because of sin, without the Lord Jesus, then, in the next place, have a care of resting on any duty done, though it be never so specious; I say, have a care of making any stay anywhere on this side the Lord Jesus Christ: but, above all, strive to believe that that very man that was born of the Virgin Mary did come into the world on purpose to save thee, as well as other poor sinners: I say, thou must not be content till thou art enabled to say, "He loved me, and gave himself for me." (Gal. ii.20.) And that thou mayest be sure to attain to this most precious faith, for so it is, be much in applying the freest promises to thy own soul; yea, those that have no conditions annexed to them, as these, or other like, Jer. xxxi.3. Jer. iii. John vi.37; xiv.19. Hos. xiv.4. I say, labour to apply to thy own soul in particular the most glorious and freest promises in the book of God. And if at any time the devil besets thee by his temptations, (for so is his wonted manner to do, and so much the more as he sees thee labour to get out of his reach;) I say, when he assails thee with his fiery darts, be sure to act faith on the most free promises, and have a care that thou dost not enter into any dispute with him, but rather resist him by those blessed promises that are laid down in the word of God. And, withal, be sure to meditate upon the blood of the man Christ Jesus, who also is the true God, and read those scriptures that do most fully and clearly speak of it; as, 1 John i.7. Eph. i.7. Heb. ix.14. Rom. iii.25.
3. But if you say, (as it is often the speech of poor souls lying under a sense of sin, and the apprehensions of wrath due to it,) I cannot apply the promises to mine own soul; and the reason is, because my sins are so great, and so many: consider, and know it for a truth, that the more and greater thou seest thy sins to be, the more cause hast thou to believe; yea, thou must therefore believe because thy sins are great: David made it an encouragement to himself, or rather the Spirit of the Lord made it his encouragement, to crave, yea, to hope for pardon, because he had greatly transgressed. (Ps. xxv.11.) "For thy name sake, O Lord," saith he, "pardon mine iniquity, for it is great." As if he had said, O Lord, thy name will be more glorified, the riches of thy grace will be more advanced, thy mercy and goodness will more shine, and be magnified in pardoning me who am guilty of great iniquity, than if thou pardonest many others who have not committed such heinous offences. And I dare say, the reason why thou believest not, is not because thy sins are great, but because thou dost reason too much with that wicked enemy of man's salvation, and givest way too much to the fleshly reasoning of thine own heart. For Christ hath said, "He that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out." (John vi.37.) And again, "Though thy sins be as red as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." (Isa. i.18.) And Christ calleth those that labour and are heavy-laden to come to him, with promise to give them rest. (Matt. xi.28.) Wherefore thou must not say, My sins are too big; but thou must say, because I am a great sinner; yea, because I have sinned above many of my companions, and am nearer to hell and eternal damnation than they; because of my sins, therefore, will I cry unto the Lord, and say, O Lord, pardon my sins, for they are great!
Now, that thou mayest not be deceived in a matter of so great concernment, have a special care of these three things:--
1. First, have a care of putting off thy trouble of spirit the wrong way, which thou mayest do three ways.
(1.) When thy conscience flieth in thy face, and tells thee of thy sins, thou dost put off convictions the wrong way, if thou dost stop thy conscience, by promising to reform thyself and lead a new life, and gettest off thy guilt by so doing; for though thou mayest by this means still and quiet thy conscience for a time, yet thou canst not hereby satisfy and appease the wrath of God: yea, saith God to such, "Though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me." (Jer. ii.22.)
(2.) If when thou art under the guilt of thy sins, thou puttest off convictions by thy performances or duties, and so satisfiest thy conscience, then also thou dost put off thy convictions the wrong way: for God will not be satisfied with anything less than the blood, righteousness, resurrection, and intercession of his own Son, (Acts iv.12;) and thou shouldest not satisfy thyself with any less than God would have thee to satisfy thyself withal, and that is the water of life, (Isa. lv.1,2), which water of life thy duties, and all thy righteousness, is not; for they are as filthy rags. (Isa. lxiv.6.).
(3.) Have a care that, when thou art under conviction, thou dost not satisfy thyself with a notion of the free grace of the gospel; my meaning is, do not content thyself with any measure of knowledge thou canst attain unto, or bottom thy peace upon it, thinking thou art now well enough, because thou canst speak much of the grace of God, and his love in Christ to poor sinners. For this thou mayest have and do, and yet be but a companion for Demas; yea, for Judas and the rest of the damned multitude: as the Apostle saith, for all this thou mayest be but "as sounding brass, and as a tinkling cymbal;" that is, nothing but a sound. (1 Cor. xiii.1-3.)
2. But, secondly, if thou wouldest not be deceived, then have a care to avoid false doctrines, which are according to the spirit of the devil, and not after Christ. As,
(1.) If any doctrine doth come unto thee, that tells thee, except thou art circumcised after the manner of Moses thou canst not be saved; that is, if any man come unto thee and tell thee thou must do such and such works of the law, to the end thou mayest present thyself the better before God, do not receive him; for "to him that worketh not, but believeth in him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." (Rom. iv.5.)
(2.) If any come unto thee, and bring such a doctrine as this; that thou mayest be saved by grace, though thou walk in the imaginations of thine own wicked heart; his doctrine also is devilish, do not receive him. (Deut. xxix.19-23.)
(3.) But if any come unto thee, and doth in truth advance the blood, righteousness, resurrection, intercession, and second coming of that very Man in the clouds of heaven that was born of the Virgin Mary; and doth press thee to believe on what he hath done, showing thee thy lost condition without him, and to own it as done for thee in particular, and withal doth admonish thee not to trust in a bare notion of it, but to receive it into thy heart, so really that thy very heart and soul may burn in love to the Lord Jesus Christ again; and doth also teach thee that the love of Christ should and must constrain thee, not to live to thyself, but to Him that loved thee, and gave himself for thee, (2 Cor. v.14,15. Eph. iv.21-24. 1 Cor. vii.23;) "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men;"--if his conversation be also agreeable to his doctrine, a believing, honest, loving, self-denying, courteous conversation, he also is a true Christian. Receive that doctrine, and receive it really; for it is the doctrine of God and of Christ. (Gal. iv.4; i.4. Eph. i.7. Rev. i.5. Acts xiii.38. John i.29. Acts iv.12; x.40-42. 1 Thess i.10. Mark xiii.ult. 2 Pet. i.5-10.) Considering the end of their conversation Jesus Christ, yesterday, and to-day and the same for ever. (Heb. xiii.7,8.)
3. Again, if thou wouldest not be deceived, then beware of slighting any known truth that thou findest revealed, or made known to thee in the gospel; but honour and obey it in its place, be it, as thou thinkest, never so low. (John xiv.15.)
(1.) Have a care that thou do not undervalue, or entertain low thoughts of God, Christ the Son of Mary, and the Holy Scriptures; but search them, (John v.39,) and give attention to the reading of them. (1 Tim. iv.13.) For, I will tell thee, he that slights the Scriptures doth also slight Him of whom they testify. And I will tell thee, also, that for this cause God hath given up many to strong delusions, that they might believe a lie: "that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thess. ii.11,12.)
(2.) Therefore I say unto thee, in the name of the Lord Jesus, the Son of Mary, the Son of God, the very Creator of heaven and earth, and all things that are therein, have a care of thyself; for the devil doth watch for thee day and night. (1 Pet. v.8.) Thine own heart also doth labour to deceive thee, if by any means it may. (Jer. xvii.9.) Therefore do not thou trust it; for if thou do, thou wilt not do wisely. (Prov. xxviii.26.) I say, therefore, have a care that thou labour in the strength of the Lord Jesus to escape all these things; for if thou fall into any one of them, it will make way for a further income of sin and the devil, through whose deceitfulness thy heart will be hardened, and thou wilt be more incapable of receiving instruction, or reaping advantage, by and from the ordinances of Jesus Christ; the rather, therefore, give all diligence to believe in the Christ of God, which is the Son of Mary, and be sure to apply all that he hath done, and is doing, unto thyself, as for thee in particular; which thing if thou dost, thou shalt never fall.
And now, reader, I shall also give thee some few considerations, and so I shall commit thee to the Lord.
1. Consider, That God doth hold out his grace and mercy freely, and that to every one. (Rev. xxii.17. Isa. lv.1-7.)
2. Consider, That there is no way to attain to this free mercy and grace, but by him that was born of the Virgin Mary; for he himself saith, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh unto the Father but by me." (John xiv.6, compared with Matt. i.20,21.)
3. Consider, If thou strivest to go over any other way, thou wilt be but a thief and a robber. (John x.1, compared with ver. 9.) And know that none of those, so continuing, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. (1 Cor. vi.9,10.)
4. Consider, That if the devil should be too hard for thee, and deceive thee, by persuading thee to embrace, or entertain a new gospel, which neither Christ nor his disciples did allow of, it would make thee gnash teeth when it is too late.
5. Consider, That though thou has been deluded by Satan to this day, yet if now thine eyes be opened to see and acknowledge it, though as yet thou hast been either exceedigly wicked, (1 Tim. i.13,) or an idle, (Matt. xx.6,7,) lukewarm, hypocritcal professor, (Rev. iii.17-19,) and hast stood it out to the last, (Ezek. xviii.20-22;) for all this there is hope; and if now thou receive the truth in the love of the truth, being as willing to be rid of the filth of sin as the guilt of it, thou shalt be saved.
6. Consider, That the Lord will call thee to judgment for all thy sins past, present, and what else thou shalt practise hereafter, especially for thy rejecting and trampling on the blood of his Son, the man Christ Jesus. And if thou dost not agree with thine adversary now, while thou art in the way, he will deliver thee to the judge, and the judge will deliver thee to the officer, and if he cast thee into prison, I tell thee, thou shalt not come out thence till thou hast paid the very last mite. (Luke xii.58,59.)
And, therefore, I beseech thee to consider; here is at this time life and death, heaven and hell, everlasting joy and everlasting torment set before thee. Here is also the way to have the one, and the way to escape the other. Now if the Lord shall do thee any good by what I have spoken, I hope it will be a means to stir me up to thank the Lord that ever he did use such a sinner as I am in the work of his gospel. And here I shall close up what I have said, desiring thee, if thou be a Christian, to pray for him who desires to continue,
Thy servant in the Lord Jesus Christ, though less than the least of all saints,