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SERM. selves, and know what will become of us at the Last Day.
- For which purpose we shall, by His assistance, consider,
First, What He here means by life.
Thirdly, That none can have it of Him, unless they go to
Fourthly, That nevertheless, men generally will not go to Christ, no, not for life itself: “Ye will not,” saith He,“ come to Me, that ye might have life.”
First, therefore, as the word Death in Holy Scripture, is
put for all evil, so is Life for all that is good to mankind : Deut.30.15. “ See, I have set before thee,” said God to Moses,“ this day,
life and good, and death and evil.” And seeing the happiness which God hath prepared for His people in the other world, consisteth in the full enjoyment of all that is good for them; therefore it is called life, and eternal life, because it shall last for ever. Now this is that which our Lord here means by life ; for He is here convincing the Jews that He was the Messiah, the Son of God, and Saviour of the world : this He proves from the testimony that His Father had given of Him, from what St. John the Baptist had said concerning Him, from the works that He Himself had done among them; and, lastly, from the Scriptures of the Old Testament, which they themselves received and owned to be the Word of God : “ Search the Scriptures," saith He," for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me.” And then He adds, “ And ye will not
come to Me, that ye might have life.” As if He had said, [2 Tim. 3. Ye believe the Scriptures to be given by inspiration of God,
to direct you in the way to eternal life, and therefore ye expect to find there how to obtain it: and if ye search the Scriptures, ye may there see, that they testify of Me, that I am the Christ, the Son of God, by whom alone ye can have eternal life ; and yet for all that, ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life. From whence it is plain, that by life He means that eternal life before spoken of: which though it be perfected only in the other world, it is begin in this. At our new birth, when a man is truly regenerated, or born again of God, and made His child by adoption and grace, then the Holy Spirit of God is breathed into him,
and becomes the principle of eternal life in him: by which means he shall not only have it hereafter, but he already “ hath everlasting life.” “ He is already passed from death John 6. 47, unto life," and so hath not only a right and title to it,“ but Ch. 5. 24. he hath eternal life abiding in him.” The seeds of it are 1John 3.15. already sown in his heart, which grow up insensibly till they bring forth fruit to perfection ; till the soul at last is refined and exalted to the highest degree of purity and perfection that it is capable of in the other world.
There all that have this life, live in perpetual rest and (Heb. 12. felicity: for their spirits are there made perfect, equal in all 23. respects to the Holy Angels themselves. All the powers and faculties of their souls being reduced to so exact and excellent a temper, such as they were at first made of, that they are never disturbed or discomposed at any thing that God hath made or doth, but are extremely refreshed and delighted with it. For there they clearly see the infinite wisdom, and power, and goodness of God shining forth in all His works; so that every thing that God hath made, affords them matter of extraordinary joy and pleasure : yea, so far as creatures are capable of it, they see the Creator Himself “ face to face,” and have the light of His counte- iCor. 13.12. nance shining continually about them, upon them, and in them ; whereby their blessed souls are filled with all true joy and pleasure, as much as it is possible for them to hold. And at the Last Day, their bodies also shall be fashioned Phil. 3. 21. like to the glorious body of Christ Himself. So that from that time forward, they “ shall shine forth as the sun in the Matt.13.43. kingdom of their Father.” What a glorious, what an happy life is this, thus to live continually in perfect ease and quiet in our minds, in peace and plenty of all things we can desire, in the blessed company of Saints and Angels, in the special love and favour of Almighty God, and in all the bliss, and honour, and glory, that He who made us can confer upon us, and that too, not only for some ages, but for ever and ever! This is that life, that eternal life which our Lord here speaks of, and supposeth that we may all have it if we will; but saith, men will not come unto Him for it: “Ye will not come to Me, that ye might have life.”
Where wę may observe, secondly, that this life is to be
Col. 3. 4.
SERM. had in Christ Jesus, and in Him only. This He Himself XXXVI.
- here plainly implies, and the Holy Scriptures all along de1 John 5. 11. clare : For “this is the record, that God hath given to us ch. 4. 9. eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” “ In this was
manifested the love of God towards us, because that God
sent His Only-begotten Son into the world, that we might John 17. 2. live through Him.” He Himself saith, “ That He giveth
eternal life to as many as the Father hath given Him.” So
that none ever had life, but by Him : but by Him any man John 14.6; may have it, who is therefore called life itself, and “eternal 1John5.20. life.” All things relating to it being founded in Him, as
the sole author, root, origin, and foundation of it. It is He that purchased life for us : it is He that hath promised it to
us : it is He that prepares it for us, and us for it: and it is John 10. 27, He, that after all, bestows it upon us. “My sheep,” saith
He, “ hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.”
To make this as clear as I can, we may observe, that man being created in the image of God, was made immortal : so that if he had never sinned, he had never died. But the first man, in whom the rest were all contained, by sinning against his Maker, in eating the fruit which He had forbidden him, made himself and his whole posterity obnoxious to the death which God had threatened in that case, death in general, both temporal and eternal; both that whereby the soul is separated from the body, and that whereby it is
separated from God Himself, and so from every thing that Rom. 5. 12. is good. Thus" by one man sin entered into the world, and
death by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all
have sinned.” (John 1. But Jesus Christ, the second Adam, having taken away
the sin of the world, He hath thereby abolished death, so 1 Cor. 15. that all mankind, by Him, may have life again. “For as
in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” All that die, shall by Him be restored to life again : and all that go to Him for it, shall by Him be restored to eternal
life and happiness. That is now wholly at His disposal, and John 6. 37. He may give it to whomsoever IIe pleaseth; and He never
fails to give it to those who go unto Him for it.
But we being all by nature “ dead in trespasses and sins,” (Eph. 2. 1.] there is a great deal to be done before we can be raised up to newness of Life, so as to be “ meet to be partakers of the (Col. 1. 12.] inheritance of the Saints in light.” Neither could it ever have been effected, but by the same power, which at first gave us our life and being. But our comfort is, He that was our Maker, is now our Saviour: and therefore we may be confident, that He is as able as He is willing to save and bring us to eternal life.
For which purpose therefore, He being now “exalted at Acts 5. 31. the right hand of God, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins ;" He is continually exerting His infinite power, and applying His all-sufficient merits for the Salvation of those who come unto Him: He first gives them repentance unto life, such repentance as hath life in the Gospel promised to it: He, by His Holy Spirit, opens their eyes that they may see their sins, and possesseth their hearts with so quick a sense of them, that they are not only sorry for them, but likewise abhor and loathe them: He, by His power, prevents their falling into temptation, or else by His grace raiseth them up again: He affords them all the means of Salvation, and assists them in the use thereof: He puts them in mind of performing their duty to God, and makes them uneasy unless they do it: He enlightens their understandings : He directs their intentions: He purifies their hearts: He regulates and governs all their passions : He keeps their consciences always awake: He sanctifies them wholly in soul, body and spirit, that they may be holy, as He who hath (1 Pet. 1. called them is holy, in all manner of conversation : His 15.) grace is always sufficient for them; His strength is made (2 Cor. 12. perfect in their weakness, and His power resteth continually %) upon them: so that, with St. Paul, “ They can do all things Phil. 4. 13. through Christ which strengtheneth them.” And when He hath thus disposed and qualified them for it, He applies unto them the merits of His death, for the pardon of all their former sins, as well as present infirmities, and for their justification before God. He, by virtue of the sacrifice He offered upon earth, is always making atonement and reconciliation in Heaven for them: He is their Mediator and
SERM. Advocate with the Father, “ever living to make intercession (Heb. 7.
for them :" by means whereof, they are always kept in the 25.] favour of God; their faults are all covered, their duties and
good works, though imperfect, are all accepted; and they themselves, in Him, are accounted righteous persons, and reckoned among the Saints, which He will place, at the
Last Day, on His right hand, and then will say unto them, Matt.25.34. “ Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom pre
pared for you from the foundation of the world.” And ver. 46. when others go “into everlasting punishment,” these shall
go“ into life eternal.”
Thus they who come to Christ, have life by Him, eternal Acts 4. 12. life and Salvation. “ Neither is there Salvation in any
other: for there is none other Name under Heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”
But then we must observe, thirdly, that they who would have this life of Christ, must go unto Him for it. “Ye will not come to Me,” saith He, “ that ye might have life:” implying, that none can have it, but they who come to Him; but that all who come to Him shall certainly have it; and
the only reason why any have it not, is because they will John 6. 35, not come unto Him for it: where, by coming to Him, He h: 3.15,16; means our believing in Him. For it is to this that eternal
life is promised in the Gospel. Which is therefore expressed by our coming to Him, because it is by faith that we go to Him, as to the great Prophet of the world, and accordingly assent to all that He hath revealed to us. By faith we go to Him as to our great Lord and Master, and
accordingly obey and observe whatsoever He hath taught [Heb. 9. us: by faith also we go unto Him as to our High-Priest, 24.]
now appearing in the presence of God, and there making intercession for us, that we may have eternal life, and accordingly trust and depend upon Him for it, and for all things necessary, in order to it: for grace to repent and
turn to God : for power to withstand the temptations of the (John 16. world, the flesh, and the Devil: for His Holy Spirit to lead 13.]
us into all truth, to strengthen our faith, and to direct and assist us in doing whatsoever He requireth of us, and in suffering whatsoever He shall see good to lay upon us, in order to our obtaining eternal life: and then we trust and