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give us light to see it. It is like a cabinet of jewels, that when you pull out one box or drawer and search into it, you find it full ; pull out another, it is full; and when you think you have pulled out all, yet still there are some secret recesses in the cabinet, so that if you search further you will find more. Our apostle seems to have drawn out all the boxes of this cabinet, but making a second search into the words, he finds all these things treasured up which he had not before intimated nor touched upon. It was said by some of old, that the “Scripture hath fords where a lamb may wade, and depths where an elephant may swim.” And it is true in respect of the perspicuity of some places and the difficulty of others. But the truth is also, that God hath, in His grace and wisdom, so ordered its concernments that-1. What from the nature of the things themselves, which are suited unto the various states, conditions, and apprehensions of the minds of men; 2. What from the manner of their expression, on which a character of Divine wisdom is impressed ; 3. What from the authority of God putting itself forth in the whole and every particular; 4. What from its being not only "propositio veritatis,” but “vehiculum gratiæ,"--many, most, yea, all the particular places of it, and passages in it, are such as through which a lamb may wade safely, and an elephant swim without danger of striking against the bottom. Let any lamb of Christ come in that order, with that reverence unto the reading or hearing the Word of God (the Scripture itself I mean) which is required, and he will find no place so dark or difficult but that it will yield him that refreshment which is suited unto him and safe for him, and something of God he will obtain ; for either he will find his graces excited, or his mind enlightened, or his conscience peculiarly brought into a reverence of God. And let the wisest, the most learned and experienced person, that seems like an elephant in spiritual skill and strength amongst the flock, come to the plainest place, to search out the mind and will of God in it, if he be humble as well as learned which if he be not he is not wise—he will scarce boast that he hath been at the bottom of it, and hath perfectly comprehended all that is in it, seeing whatever we have “we know but in part.” And they may all of them, elephants and laibs, meet at the same passages of this river that makes glad the city of God, these waters of rest and quietness (Ps. xxiii. 2), where the lambs may wade safely, and the elephants swim together. The poorest of the flock, in the right use of means, may take enough for themselves; even suitable direction and refreshment from those very places of Scripture, whose depths the learnedest guides of the Church are not able to sound or fathom. Not only in several places, but in the same place, text, or testimony of Scripture, there is food meet for the several
the several ages of Christians, whether babes and children or strong men; with light and direction for all sorts of believers, according to the degrees of their own inward light and grace. It is like manna, which, though men gathered variously according to their strength and appetite, yet every one had that proportion which suited his own eating. When a learned man, and one mighty in the Scriptures, undertakes the consideration of a place of Scripture, and finds, it may be, in the issue, that with all his skill and industry, all his helps and advantages, though attended in the use of them with fervent prayer and holy meditation, he is not able to search it out unto perfection, let him not suppose that such a place will be of no advantage unto them who are not sharers in his advantages, but rather are mean and unlearned; for they may obtain a useful portion for themselves where he cannot take down all. If any one look on this river of God as behemoth on Jordan, “trusting that he can draw it up into his mouth,” or take up the whole sense of God in it, he of all others seems to know nothing of its worth and excellency. And this ariseth, as was observed, principally from the things themselves treated of in the Scripture. For divine
CHRIST AND HIS BRETHREN.
and spiritual truths having God not only as their immediate fountain and spring, but also as their proper and adequate object, there is still somewhat in them that cannot be searched out unto perfection. As he said, “Canst thou by searching find out God ? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection ?” This neither the nature of God nor our condition will admit of. We do at best but “ follow after," that we may in our measure “apprehend that for which we also are apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Phil. iii. 12). And these things are so tempered by Divine wisdom unto the faith and light of believers, and therein unto the uses of their consolation and obedience, that something hereof is plainly exhibited to every spiritual eye; always provided that their search and inquiry be regulated according to the will of God, in a due use of the means; for to this purpose not only the private endeavours of men are required, but the use also of the public ministry, which is ordained of God to lead men gradually into continual further acquaintance with the will of God in the Scriptures.
Christ and his Brethren.
This is a ground of unspeakable consolation unto believers, with supportment in every condition. No unworthiness in them, no misery upon them, shall ever hinder the Lord Christ from owning them, and openly avowing them to be His brethren. He is a brother born for the day of trouble, a Redeemer for the friendless and fatherless. Let their miseries be what they will, He will be ashamed of none but of them who are ashamed of Him and His ways, when persecuted and reproached. A little while will clear up great mistakes. All the world shall see at the last day whom Christ will own; and it will be a great surprisal when men shall hear Him call them brethren whom they hated, and esteemed as the offscouring of all things. He doth it, indeed, already by His word; but they will not
attend thereunto. But at the last day, they shall both sec and hear whether they will or no. And herein, I say, lies the great consolation of believers. The world rejects them, it may be their own relations despise them- they are persecuted, hated, reproached ; but the Lord Christ is not ashamed of them. He will not pass by them because they are poor and in rags—it may be reckoned (as He himself was for them) among malefactors.
They may see also the wisdom, grace, and love of God in this matter. His great design in the incarnation of His Son was to bring Him into that condition wherein He might naturally care for them as their brother ; that He might not be ashamed of them, but be sensible of their wants, their state and condition in all things, and so be always ready and meet to relieve them. Let the world now take its course, and the men thereof do their worst; let Satan rage, and the powers of hell be stirred up against them; let them load them with reproach and scorn, and cover them all over with the filth and dirt of their false imputations ; let, them bring them into rags, into dungeons, unto death-Christ comes in the midst of all this confusion and says, Surely these are my brethren, the children of my Father,” and He becomes their Saviour. And this is a stable foundation of comfort and supportment in every condition. And are we not taught our duty also herein, namely, not to be ashamed of Him or of His gospel, or of any one that bears His image ? The Lord Christ is now himself in that condition that even the worst of men esteem it an honour to own Him ; but, indeed, they are no less ashamed of Him than they would have been when He was carrying His cross upon His shoulders, or hanging upon the tree; for of everything that He hath in this world they are ashamed–His gospel, His ways, His worship, His Spirit, His saints, they are all of them the objects of their scorn; and in these things it is the Lord Christ may be truly honoured or be despised.
ENTER NOT INTO TEMPTATION.
Enter not into Temptation. [Of Owen's more practical writings, a few paragraphs from the treatise “Of Temptation ” may furnish some idea. It was published in 1658, and was no doubt originally prepared and preached at Oxford. For fervour and solemnity the closing exhortation is worthy of Baxter.]
First, Let him that would not enter into temptation, labour to know his own heart, to be acquainted with his own spirit, his natural frame and temper, his lusts and corruptions, his natural sinful or spiritual weakness, that finding where his weakness lies, he may be careful to keep at a distance from all occasions of sin. Our Saviour tells the disciples, “ that they knew not what spirit they were of,” which under a pretence of zeal betrayed them into ambition and desire of revenge. Had they known it, they would have watched over themselves. David tells us, Ps. xviii. 23, that he considered his ways, and " kept himself from his iniquity,” which he was particularly prone unto.
There are advantages for temptations lying oftentimes in men's natural tempers and constitutions. Some are naturally gentle, facile, easy to be entreated, pliable, which though it be the noblest temper of nature, and the best and choicest ground, when well broken up and fallowed, for grace to grow in, yet, if not watched over, will be a means of innumerable surprisals and entanglements in temptation. Others are earthly, froward, morose, so that envy, malice, selfishness, peevishness, harsh thoughts of others, repinings, lie at the very door of their natures, and they can scarce step out but they are in the snare of one or other of them. Others are passionate and the like. Now, he that would watch that he enter not into temptation, had need be acquainted with his own natural temper, that he may watch over the treacheries that lie in it continually. Take