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prophesied of, and stheir longings and wishes for its accomplishment, namely, the coming of Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, the top of all their desires, the great Hope and the Light of Israel. No wonder they desired his day, who had so much joy in the seeing it so far_off, as over the head almost of two thousand years. · Faith overlooking them and foreseeing this day in Abraham, bis heart danced for joy. And when this salvation came in the fulness of time, we see how joyfully good old : Simeon embraces it, and thought he had seen enough, and therefore upon the sight desired to have his eyes closed; Now let thy servant depart in peace, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation. This is he whom we dis-: esteem and make so small account of, being now'sơ clearly revealed, whom they studied, and sought, and wished: so much for, so many ages
before. 2. The success of their search is remarked. In seeking they found the certainty and the time of his coming. They sought out till they found, and then they prophesied of that salvation and grace. They searched what and what-manner of time, and the Spirit did manifestly foretel it them. They sought to know what manner of time it should come to pass, namely, in a time of great distress and bad estate of the people, as all the prophets testify; and particularly that place, Gen. xlix, 10, gives an express character of the time. And of his sufferings and afterglories they prophesied very clearly, as Psal. xxii ; Isaj. liü, &c. · And our Saviour himself makes use of their tese timony in both these points, Luke xxiv, 25, 27. 4.47€
3. There is the benefit of their search and finding, the extent of it, verse 12, to the believers in the apostles' times, and to the succeeding Christian church, and so to us in these days; but in some peculiar sepse the prophets ministered to the people of those times wherein Christ did suffer and enter into glory, inasmuch as they were the first who enjoyed the accomplishment of those prophecies, they being fulfilled in their own days.
We see how the prophets ministered the gospel as the never failing consolation of the church in those days, in all their distresses. It is wonderful when they are företel- ! ling either the sorrows and afflictions, or ihe temporal: restoration and deliverances of the Jews, what sudden outleaps they will make, to speak of the kingdom of Jesus Christ and the days of the gospel, insomuch that lie who considers not the spirit they were moved by, would think it were incoherence and impertinency; but they knew well what they meant, that this news was never unseasonable, nor beside the purpose; that the sweetness of those thoughts, namely, the consideration of the Messiah, 'was able to allay the bitterest distresses, and that the great deliverance he was to work, was the top and sum of all deliverances. Thus their prophecies of him were present comfort to themselves and other believers then ; and were to serve for a clear evidence of the divine truth of those mysteries in the days of the gospel, in and after their fulfilment. This sweet stream of their doctrine did, as the rivers, make its own banks fertile and pleasant as it ran by, and flowed still forward to after ages, and by the confluence of more such prophecies, grew greater as it went, till it fell in with the main current of the gospel in the new testament, both acted and preached by the great Prophet himself whom they foretold as to come, and recorded by his apostles and evangelists, and thus united into one riyer, clear as crystal. This doctrine of salvation in the scriptures hath still refreshed the city of God, his church under the gospel, and still shall do so, till it empty itself into the ocean of eternity.
All the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost; the calling of prophets, and apostles and evangelists, and the ordinary ministry of the gospel by pastors and teachers, tend to that great design which God hath in building his church, in making up that great assembly of all the elect, to enjoy and praise him for all eternity ; Eph. iv, 11. For this end he sent his Son out of his bosom, and for this end he sends forth his messengers to divulge that salvation which his Son bath wrought, and sends down his Spirit upon them, that they may be fitted for so high a service. Those cherubim wonder how guilty man escapes their flaming swords and re-enters paradise. The angels see that their companions who fell are not restored, but behold their room filled up with the spirits of just wen, and they envy it not; Which things the angels desire to
look into s and this is added in the close of these words for the extolling of this mystery.
The angels look upon what they have seen already fulfilled with delight and admiration, and what remains, namely, the full accomplishment of this great work in the end of time, they look upon with desire to see it finisbed. It is not a slight glance they take of it, but they fix their eyes and look sted fastly on it, namely, that '
mystery of godliness, God manifest in the flesh, and it is added, seer of angels. The Word made flesh draws the eyes of those glorious spirits, and possesses them with wonder to see the Almighty Godhead joined with the weakness of a man, yea, of an infant ! be that stretchetb forth the heavens, bound up in swaddling clothes ! Aud to surpass all the wonders of his life, this is beyond all admiration, that the Lord of life was subject to death; and that his love to rebellious mankind moved him both to take on and lay down that life.
It is no wonder the angels admire these things and delight to look upon them; but it is strange that we do not $0. They view them stedfastly, and we negleet them; either we consider them not at all, or give them but à transient look, half an eye. That which was the great business of the prophets and apostles, we regard not; and turn our eyes to foolish wandering thoughts, which angels are ashamed at. They are not so concerned in this great mystery as we are ; they are but mere beholders in comparison of us ; yea, they seem rather to be losers some way, in that our nature, in itself inferior to theirs, is in Jesus Christ exalted above theirs, Heb. ii, 16. We bow down to the earth, and study and grovel in it, rake into the very bowels of it, and content ourselves v
with the outside of the unsearchable riches of Christ, and look not within them ; but they, having no will nor desire but for the glory of God, being pure fames of fire burning only in love to bim, are no less delighted than amazed with the bottomless wonders of his wisdom and goodness shining in the work of our redemption. They look up upon the Deity in itself with continual admiration ; but then they look down to this mystery as another wonder. We give these things an ear in public, and in a cold forDiv. No, V.
mal way stop the mouth of conscience with some religious performances in private, and no more; but to have deep and frequent thoughts, and to be ravished in the meditation of our Lord Jesus, once 'ou the cross and now in glory-how few of us are acquainted with this !
We see bere excellent company, and examples not only of the best of men that have been, but of the angels also. We have them for fellow-servants and fellow-students; but, if that can persuade us, we may all study the same lesson with the very angels, and have the same thoughts with them. This the soul doth, which often entertains itself with the delightful admiration of Jesus Christ and the redemption he hath wrought for us. Ver. 13. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind,
be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
In the words are these three things ; I. the great stay and comfort of the soul, which the apostle repeats and represents to his afflicted brethren ; II. bis exciting them to the right apprehension and confident expectation of it; III. the inference of that exhortation. 1. The great matter of their comfort is, the
which is to be brought unto them at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Sone for grace read joy; and the words are pot more pear one to another, than the things they signify. The estate of grace and that of glory are not only so inseparably connected, but so like one to the other, yea, so essentially the same, that the same expressions in scripture do often fit both of them, and so fit them, that it is doubtful for which of the two to understand them, but the bazard is not great, seeing they are so pear and so similar,' grace being glory begun, and glory grace completed and both are often called the kingdom of
5. The grace bere said to be brought to them is either the doctrine of grace in the gospel, wherein Jesus Christ'is revealed and grace in him; or it is the grace of salvation which lations
to be fully perfected at the last and clearest reve
Jesus Christ. ? And for this rather I take it here, inasmuch as the apostle's nearest foregoing words were
concerning it, and it is set up here as the object of hope, which, though often put for faith, yet, in its proper notion, looks out to that which is to come.
This is the last act of grace, and yet still it is called by its own name, and not turned into the name of merit, notwithstanding all the obedience and all the sufferings of the saints that have gone before it; yea, even the salvation to be revealed to then is called grace. But it is needless to insist on this, for certainly none who partake of grace will be of another mind, or ever admit the mixture of the least notion of self-deserving.
Though much dispute hath beeo bestowed on this, and questions have been multiplying in the disputants' bands, as is usual in controversies, one growing out of another, yet truly I think the debate in this matter to be but wastę. It is not only against the voice of the scriptures and of grace itself in the soul, but even against sound reason, to imagine any meriting, properly taken, in any mere creature at bis Creator's hand, who hath given him his being; of whicb gift all his services and obedience fall short, so that he can never come to be upon even disengaged terms, much less to oblige anew and deserve, somewhat further. Besides, that same grace by which any one serves and obeys God, is likewise his own gift, , as it is said, . Chroo. xxix, 14, All things come of thee, and of thine own have I given thee. Both the ability and the will to give to him are from bim ; so that in these, respects, not angels nor man in innocency could properly merit at the hands of God, much less man lost, redeemed agaid, and $0 coming under the new obligation of infinite, mercy.ou
His first grace be gives freely, and no less freely the - increases of it, and with the same gracious hand sets the crowu of glory upon all the grace that he hath given before. It is but the following forth of his own work, and fulfilling his own thoughts of free love, which love hath no cause but in himself, and finds none worthy, but gives them all the worthiness they have, and accepts of their Jove, not as worthy in itself to be accepted, but because he himself hath wrought it in them. Not only the first tastes, but the full draught of the waters of life is freely given, Rev, xxii, 17; notbing is brought with them, but