« ZurückWeiter »
MnxA any good thing." Hesaith in another place, "The Lord knoweth the ways of the righteous, and their inheritance shall endure forever. They shall not be confounded in the perilous time, and in the days of dearth they shall have enough." And again; "I have been young and now am old, yet have I never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."
All these things Christ bringeth with him; for we are, and are called his brethren, not because of any merit in us, but of mere grace. If we would print these things in our hearts, and thoroughly feel them, it would go well with us; but they go in at one ear, and out the other. St. Paul glorieth in these things, as he saith, Rom. viii. "As many as are led by the spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
. This title ascendeth so high, that the mind of man is not able to comprehend it. For unless the spirit, the comforter, imparted this grace to us, no man would be able to say, Christ is my brother. Those who cry out without faith, "Christ is my brother," are fanatical spirits, who vainly pronounce words without fruit. The case standeth very differently, and more marvelously with a true christian; he is amazed, and hardly dareth to confess any thing sufficiently thereof. Wherefore we must endeavour to hear this, not only with fleshly ears, but to feel it in our hearts; then we shall not be rash, but be carried into an admiration thereof. A true christian views these things with fear; and cries out, am I, a wretched and defiled creature, drowned in sin, worthy that the Son of God should be called my brother 1 How do I, a miserable wretch, attain to such a thing 1 Thus he is astonished, and can hardly comprehend these things.
These things cannot be understood according to flesh and blood; the heart of man in a natural state is not able to comprehend them. Christ more plainly declares unto Mary Magdalene the use and fruit of his death and resurrection; when he saith, John xx. "Go to my brethren, and say unto them. I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." This is one of the most comfortable places of which we can glory and boast. As tbough Christ should say, Mary, go hence and declare unto my disciples, (which fled from me, which have deserved punishment and eternal condemnation,) that this resurrection of mine is for their good ; that is, I have by my resurrection brought the - matter to pass, that my Father is their Father, and . my God their God.
These are but few words, but they contain much matter in them ; namely, that we have as great hope and confidence in God, as his own Son. Who can comprehend such exceeding joy! I will not say, utter it; that a wretched and defiled sinner may be bold to call God his Father ; even as Christ himself. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews, well remembered the words of the Psalm, how it speaketh of Christ; who, as he saith, is not ashamed to call the believers brethren; saying, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren : in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee." If any worldly prince or nobleman should humble himself so low, as to say to a thief or robber, thou art my brother, it would be a notable thing which every one would marvel at: but this king who sitteth in glory at the right hand of his Father, saith to poor mortal man, thou art my brother.
In this king is our confidence and comfort. He arms us against sin and death, the devils and hell; and against all sinister success of things, as well of body as mind. As we are flesh and blood, and therefore subject to all kinds of adversity, it follows that the case should so stand with him; otherwise he would not be like unto us in all things. Wherefore, that he might be made conformable, and like unto us, he had experience in all things, even as we have, sin only excepted; that he might be our true brother, and exhibit himself openly unto us.
The epistle to the Hebrews doth set this forth in a lively manner, chap. ii. "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he 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; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things' it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people: for in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted." The profit, use, and fruit of the Lord's passion and resurrection, St. Paul hath summed up in a very brief manner; when he saith, Rom. iv. " Christ was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."
John X. From the 11th to the l&th verses, inclusive.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his lifer for the sheep. •
12 But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, andleaveth the sheep, and Seeth; and the wolf catchetn them, and scattereth the sheep.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is ahireling, and carethnot for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father . and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And other sheep I hare, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice : and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
This text is full of consolation; which in a precious parable setteth forth Christ our Lord, and teacheth what manner of person he is, what his works are, and what affection he has toward man. Nevertheless, it cannot be distinctly understood, by comparing together light and darkness, day and night; that is, a good and evil shepherd, as the Lord doth in this place. Ye have oftentimes heard that God hath instituted and ordained two sorts of preaching in the world: One is, when the word of God is preached, which saith, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not commit adultery ; thou shalt not steal," &c. Ex. xx» It also threatens that he who doth not keep these precepts, shall die.
But that preaching doth justify no man. Although a man be thereby compelled to show himself godly outwardly, before men, yet notwithstanding, he is offended at the law in his heart, and had much rather there were no law. The other ministry of the word, is the gospel; which shows where is to be
'received that which the law requireth. It neither urgeth nor threateneth; but allureth men gently. It showeth them what they must receive and take, whereby they may become righteous: Behold, here is Jesus Christ! he directeth them. These disagree one with another, as much as to receive and give, to exact and reward.
This difference should be well understood and explained. To hardened and untractable men, who feel not the gospel, the law is to be preached; and they are to be urged till they begin to feel molified and humbled, and acknowledge their disease; then is the time to begin to preach the gospel. These two sorts of preaching were instituted and ordained by the Almighty: besides these there are others which were not ordained of God, but are traditions invented by men; ordained by the pope and his prelates, wherewith they have perverted the gospel. These are not worthy to be called shepherds or hirelings; but they are those whom Christ calleth thieves, robbers, and wolves.
If we would guide men in the right way, it must be done by the word of God: if it be not done, we surely labour in vain. Christ treateth here of the second ministry of the word, and describeth of what sort it is : he maketh himself the chief, yea, the only shepherd: for he whom he doth not feed, remains unfed. Ye have heard that our Lord Jesus Christ, after his passion and death, was raised from the dead, and entered into immortality: not that he might sit idle in heaven, and rejoice with himself, but that he might receive a kingdom, and execute the functions of a governour and king ; of which all the prophets, yea, and the whole scripture, treats at large.
We must continually acknowledge him to be our governour and ruler ; neither must we think that he is idle in heaven, but that he doth from above govern