RPM, Volume 18, Number 41, October 2 to October 8, 2016

Sermons on John 17

Sermon XLI

By Thomas Manton

Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. —John 17:24.

We have hitherto seen Christ's prayers for the happiness of his church in the present world; now he prayeth for their happiness in the world to come. His love looketh beyond the grave, and outlasteth the life that now is; he cannot be contented with anything on this side a blessed eternity. Glory as well as grace is the fruit of his purchase, and therefore it is the matter of his prayers. Every verse is sweet, but this should not be read without some ravishment and leaping of heart. One saith he would not for all the world that this scripture should have been left out of the Bible. Certainly we should have wanted a great evidence and demonstration of Christ's affection. Every word is emphatical. Let us view it a little.

Here is a compellation, a request, and the reason of that request. The compellation, 'Father.' In the request there is the manner, how it is made, 'I will.' The persons for whom it is made, 'That they whom thou hast given me.' The matter of the request, in presence and vision, 'Be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory.' Or the matter is everlasting happiness, which is described by the place of enjoyment, and our work when we come thither. Now the reason of all is, the Father's eternal love to Christ, and in Christ to us, 'For thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world.'

First, The compellation, 'Father.' The titles of God are usually suited to the matter in hand. Christ is now suing for a child's portion for all his members, and therefore he saith, 'Father.' God is Christ's father by eternal generation, and ours by gracious adoption, whence our title to heaven ariseth. And therefore it is called an inheritance: [Pg. 90] Col. iii. 24, 'Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance.' It is not simply wages, such as a servant receiveth from his master; but an inheritance, or a child's portion, such as children receive from parents. And it is very notable the apostle there speaketh of servants, who are saved, as God's sons. So our waiting for glory is expressed by 'waiting for the adoption,' Rom. viii. 23, because then we have the fruit of it. We hold heaven not by merit, nor by our purchase, nor by privilege of birth, but by adoption. The ground of expectation is put for the matter of expectation, 'waiting for the adoption.' And now we wait, because now we have jus haereditatis; then we have possession.

Use 1. This notion represents the freeness of grace in giving us glory; we do not receive it as a debt, but as a gift. Nothing is more free than an inheritance. It was purchased by Christ, but it was given to us; we receive it by virtue of his testament, and the Father's promise. It is called an 'inheritance,' Eph. i. 18, 'What is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints;' an inheritance cometh freely, and without burden and incumbrance. Thus we hold heaven by all kind of titles; we have it by purchase, and we have it freely. Christ maketh the purchase, and we possess the gift. It is a greater security to our hopes when we can look for heaven from a merciful Father and a righteous judge; it is just, Christ having paid the price. Therefore it is called, 'The gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord,' Rom. vi. 20. It is the Father's gift, but for the greater honour to God, and security to us, it is Christ's purchase.

Use 2. It showeth the necessity of becoming sons to God if we expect heaven. Children can only look for a child's portion. The world is a common inn for sons and bastards; but heaven is called 'our Father's house;' none but children are admitted there: John iii. 3, 'Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.' Seeing is often put for enjoying; yet the word is emphatical; they shall not have so much as a glimpse of heaven, but are cast into everlasting darkness. A man should never be quiet till he be one of the family, and can evidence his new birth. As they were put from the priesthood as polluted that could not find their genealogy, Ezra ii. 62, so, if you cannot prove your descent from God, you are disclaimed, and reckoned not to God's, but to Satan's family.

Use 3. It teacheth God's children with patience and comfort to wait for this happy estate: Rom. viii. 23, 'And not only they, but ourselves also, who nave the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our bodies.' You do not yet know what adoption meaneth; the day of the manifestation of the sons of God! is to come: 1 John iii. 3, 'Behold, now are we the sons of God; but it doth not appear what we shall be.' 'It doth not appear,' therefore wait. There is the spirit of an heir and the spirit of a servant, as we read of the 'Spirit of adoption.' A servant must have something in hand, pay from quarter to quarter; they do not use to expect their master's possession; but an heir waiteth till it fall.

You may look upon the compellation as an expression of Christ's hearty good-will. When he sueth for our glorification, he unproveth [Pg. 91] all his interest in God, 'Father, I will.' When he pleadeth for himself, he useth the same compellation, ver. 1, 'Father, glorify thy Son;' ver. 5, 'And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self.' Thus here Christ's heart is much set upon the happiness of his members; if there be any more endearing title, the Spirit of God here will use it: Father, if I can do anything, or have any room in thy heart or affection; 'Father, I will,' &c. When we would prevail, Christ biddeth us urge our interest: 'When ye pray, say, Our Father,' Luke xi. 2; so doth he. When we mediate for others, we are wont to mention our relation, as a circumstance of endearment; so doth Christ expressly mention his relation when his requests are of great concernment.

Secondly, The next circumstance is the manner of asking, \~yelw\~, 'I will.' a word of authority, becoming him that was God and man in one person, who knew the Father's will, who had made a thorough purchase, and so might challenge it of right. So some observe he doth not say \~epwtw\~, but \~yelw\~. But possibly it may bear a softer sense in this place; and thus is \~yelw\~ used elsewhere: Mark x. 35, \~yelomen\~ 'Master, we will that thou shouldest do to us whatever we desire thee;' if that look like an expostulation, or a capitulation rather than a request. See Mark vi. 26, \~yelw\~, 'I will that thou give me by and by in a charger the head of John the Baptist;' Mark xii. 38, 'Master, \~yelomen\~, we would see a sign from thee.' Briefly, then, it doth not express his authority so much as the full bent of heart; only because he useth the word will, and because at least the manner of expression carrieth the force of a promise, which, if it be backed with his prayers, cannot fall to the ground; we may thence

Observe the certainty of our glorious hopes. If 'I will' be not a word of authority, it looketh like a testamentary disposition. Christ was about to die, and now he saith, 'I will.' When Christ made his will, heaven is one of the legacies which he bequeatheth to us. This was his last will and testament, 'Father, I will.' You have the very words and form of a testament: Luke xxii. 29, 'I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;' \~diatiyhmi\~, the only word we have for a testament. Heaven is ours, a legacy left us by Christ.

But what power had Christ to dispose of it? Let me clear that by the way, since he saith, Mat xx. 23, 'To sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.' Christ's power of disposing is not denied, but he showeth only to whom it is given, not for by-respects, but according to God's eternal will and purpose. In the original the words run otherwise than they do in our translation, \~ouk\~ \~estin\~ \~emon\~ \~douvai, \~ \~alla\~ \~oiv\~ \~htoimastai\~ \~upo\~ \~patrov\~ \~mou\~. There is no ellipsis which some have fancied; and it should be rendered thus, 'It is not mine to give, save to those for whom it is prepared of my Father.' He doth not deny degrees of glory, he doth not deny his own power to distribute them, but only asserts that he must dispose according to his Father's will; not for outward and temporal respects of kindred and acquaintance, but as God hath given to every man his measure. Certainly Christ's will standeth good to all intents and purposes; for [Pg. 92] as God he hath an original authority, and as mediator he doth nothing contrary to his Father's will; he is tender of that, as you see in the place alleged; so that the objection confirmeth the point

Use 1. It is comfort to us when we come to die; thou hast Christ's will to show for heaven. When God's justice puts the bond in suit against us, then let faith put Christ's testament in suit. There is an old sentence against us, 'In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt die,' Gen. ii. 17, confront it with Christ's prayer. In life we should provide for death, and a comfortable departure out of the world. Hear for the time to come; it is good to have our comforts ready. Can a dying man have a sweeter meditation than Christ's words? 'Father, I will that those whom thou hast given me may be with me where I am.' We know not how soon we may go down to the chambers of death, and become a feast for the worms. When we come to make our own will, we should think of Christ's 'Father, I will,' &c.

Use 2. It is an engagement to holiness. That is a part of Christ's will: 1 Thes. iv. 3, 'For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.' How can I plead his will in one thing and not in another? Hereditates habent sua onera. Legacies have their burdens annexed. Christ will have an action against us if we do not fulfil his whole will; as a man that sueth for what is left him by will must take care that his claim be not invalidated. Did Christ ever say, I will that all that live as they list should at length come to heaven for all that? No; but, 'I will that all those whom thou hast given me,' &c. And therefore

Thirdly, The next circumstance is the parties for whom he prayeth. It is as necessary to know for whom Christ prayed as for what; it is not enough to hear of a privilege, but we must consider which way our claim and interest doth arise. For 'those which thou hast given me;' that is, for all the elect, who are intended in this expression.

Observe, that there is a certain number given to Christ which cannot finally miscarry, but shall come to glory. But of that in former verses.

1. Who are given hath been already discussed. The elect are given, those that come to him from the Father: John vi. 37, 'All that the Father giveth me shall come to me.' They are given before all time, and therefore in time they come, and actually accept of grace. And as they come to him, so they keep there, for of those he can lose nothing: ver. 39, 'And this is the Father's will that hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing.'

2. But how are they given? By way of reward, and by way of charge; the one as his work, the other as his wages.

[1.] By way of reward: John xvii. 6, 'Thine they were, and thou gavest them me.' They were given to be members of his body, subjects of his kingdom, children of his family; Christ hath a special and peculiar interest in them. This was the bargain which he made with God, that he should be head of the renewed state. This was all the honour and benefit accruing to Christ by the covenant of redemption: Isa. liii. 10, 11, 'He shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hands; he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied. 'Christ was pleased with the bargain. Nothing could be added to the greatness of his person, who was the eternal Son of God, equal with the Father in glory and honour; [Pg. 93] yet he was pleased to account it a good purchase to have a special title and interest in us, and rested satisfied, having gained sufficient by all his expense of blood and merit. We are all Benonis, sons of sorrow to him.

[2.] By way of charge: John vi. 37-39, 'All that the Father giveth me shall come to me, and he that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out; for I came down from heaven not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me; and this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.' God calleth Christ to account for the elect, and his number and tale must be full. The elect are given to Christ, not by way of alienation, but oppignoration, that he may guide them safe to glory; as the shepherd must give an account of the sheep to the owner that sets him awork. And so doth Christ at the last day: Heb. ii. 13, 'Behold I and the children which God hath given ma' God looketh narrowly what is become of the elect; not one of the tale is wanting.

Use. Are you of this number? If you be given by God, you give up yourselves to him. Our faith is nothing else but our consent to God's eternal decrees. All the Father's acts are ratified in time by the creatures' consent God giveth by way of reward and charge; so there is a committing and a consecrating both together.

1. Committing yourselves to Christ: 2 Tim. i. 12, ? know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day;' t?? pa?a?ata????? µ??, by an advised act of trust. Can you put your souls into his hands? The Father is wiser than we; he knew well enough what he did when he left us in charge with Christ It argueth a sense of danger, a solicitous care about the soul; and then an advised trust, grounded on the belief of Christ's sufficiency. Many think their souls were never in danger, therefore they are not careful about putting them into safe hands. Canst thou venture upon eternity on such assurances? Well, I have trusted Christ with my soul. Oh 1 it is the hardest matter in the world to trust Christ with our souls advisedly and knowingly. Presumption is an inconsiderate act, a fruit of incogitancy, and therefore very easy.

2. Consecrating: Rom. xii. 1, ? beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service;' yield up yourselves to Christ. So David: Ps. cxix. 94, ? am thine, save me.' Personal dedication showeth God's act is not fruitless. In a serious self-surrender, we must give up ourselves to God; not with any reservation, to use ourselves as our own, but absolutely to be at God's dispose, to live and act for him. ? Christians f if you would clear up your interest, this is your duty, for this is but making good his grant to Christ It goeth under the name of our deed, but it is God's work in us. The altar, the sacrifice, the fire is sent down from heaven. It is God's giving, still the receiving is on our part; for by renouncing self, we enjoy self most Do we out of a sense of duty thus give up ourselves? Do we make good our vows? God lendeth us to ourselves, to be employed to his honour. [Pg. 94]

Fourthly, The next thing is the matter of the request Presence, and the beatifical vision, as the fruit of that presence.

First, 'That they may be where I am;' that is, where I am according to my humanity presently to be; for he doth not speak of the earthly Jerusalem, where he was then visibly and corporally.

Observe, first, it is no small part of our happiness that we shall be there where Christ is. Now Christ is with us, but then we are with him. It is the inchoation of our happiness that he is with us graciously: 'I am with you to the end of the world.' Mat. xxviii. 20. It shall be the consummation of our happiness when we shall be with him. Thus it is often expressed: 2 Cor. v. 8, 'We are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.' So David expresseth our state of blessedness: Ps. xvi. 11, 'In thy presence is fulness of joy, and at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.' This makes heaven to be heaven, because Christ is there; as the king makes the court wherever he is, it is not the court maketh the king: John xii. 26, 'Where I am, there shall my servant be.' It is our happiness to stand always in our master's presence, a happiness that wicked men are not capable of, because of their bondage and estrangement from God. Therefore Christ telleth the carnal Jews, John vii. 34, 'Where I am, thither ye cannot come.' Wicked men have no grant, no leave to come. Paradise is still closed up against them with a flaming sword; and they have no heart to come, because they cannot endure the majesty and purity of his presence.

But when shall we be there where Christ is? Presently after death our souls shall be there, and at the resurrection, body and soul together.

1. Presently after death the soul is where Christ is. So Paul thought: Phil. i. 23, 'I desire to depart, and to be with Christ;' that is, with him in glory, otherwise it were a loss of happiness for Paul to be dissolved. It is a sorry blessedness to lie rotting in the grave, and only to be eased of present labours, for God's people are wont to reckon much on their present service and enjoyment of God, though it be accompanied with affliction. Paul was in a strait, and he saith it is \~pollw\~ \~mallon\~ \~kreisson\~, much more better to be dissolved. A stupid sleep, without the enjoyment of God, is far worse; what happiness were that, to be in such a condition wherein we do nothing and feel nothing? God's children are wont to prefer the most afflicted condition with God's presence above the greatest riches and contentment in his absence: 'If thou goest not up with us, carry us not hence,' Exod. xxxiii. 15. Better be with God in the wilderness, than in Canaan without him. Therefore Paul would never be in such a strait, if this drowsy doctrine were true, that the soul lay in such an inactive state of sleep and rest till the resurrection. He would be no happier than a stone, or the inanimate creatures are. Again, Luke xxiii. 43, 'This day shall thou be with me in paradise,' saith Christ to the good thief. Some, to evade this place, refer this day to \~legw\~; but the pointing in all the Greek copies confuteth it, as also the sense of the place: \~shmeron\~ answereth to the thief's words, 'Remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.' Christ promiscth more than he asketh, as God doth usually abundantly for us above what we can ask or think. He had reference to Christ's words to the high priest, 'The Son of man shall [Pg. 95] come in his glory.' Now, saith Christ, I will not defer thy desires so long; heavenly joys attend thy soul. And others seek to evade it by the word paradise; it is a Persiac word, but used by the Hebrews for gardens and orchards, and by allusion for heavenly joys: the allusion is not only to the delights of an ordinary garden, but Eden, or that garden in which Adam was placed in innocency. The fathers fancied, secreta animarum receptacula, et beatas sedes. But it is put for heaven itself in other places: 2 Cor. xii. 2, 'He was caught up into the third heaven,' which he presently calls paradise, ver. 4. So that presently souls, upon their departure out of the body, are immediately with Christ Thus it is said, Luke xvi. 22, 'The beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom;' presently, in the twinkling of an eye or the forming of a thought; which is a great comfort to us when we come to die; in a moment angels will bring you to Christ, and Christ to God. The agonies of death are terrible, but there are joys just ready; and as soon as the soul is loosed from the prison of the body, you enter into your eternal rest: it flieth hence to Christ, to be there where he is. To be short, certainly men enter upon their final state presently as soon as they die: 2 Peter iii. 19, 'He went and preached to the spirits in prison;' compare it with Heb. xii. 24, 'To the spirits of just men made perfect' How can souls be perfect if they lie only in a dull sleep, without any light, life, joy, or delight, or act of love to God? We see the very present refreshments of sleep are a burden to the saints, because they rob us of so much time, cheat us of half our lives.

2. Completely at the resurrection. Believers consist of body as well as soul. Now it is said, 'That they may be there;' that is, their whole self shall be there where Christ is. And so it proveth the resurrection, and the translation of our glorified bodies into heaven. So our Lord showeth that our being there where he is shall completely be after his second coming: John xiv. 3, 'And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.' Christ and we that are one cannot always live asunder; if he have any glory, we must have part of it; and therefore he will come again and take us to himself, that as coheirs we may live upon the same happiness: Rom. viii. 17, '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.' As Joseph brought his brethren to Pharaoh, he bringeth us to God. As he took part with us in nature, so he will have us take part with him in glory.

Now the happiness of it will appear

[1.] By the place, the third heaven, or paradise; as there was the outward court, the holy place, and the holy of holies. The spangled firmament is but the outside and pavement of that house where Christ and the saints meet. When we look upon the aspectable heavens, we may cry out, as David in his night-meditation, Ps. viii. 4, 'Lord, what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?' The church is but \~proyuron\~ \~kai\~ \~proaulion\~, the portal, as one saith, and entrance into heaven. If the visible heavens so affect us, how glorious is it within!

[2.] The manner of bringing us thither: 'I will come again and [Pg. 96] receive you to myself,' John xiv. 3. Christ will not send for us, but come in person to fetch us in state, which will make our access to heaven the more glorious. Christ will come to lead his flock into their everlasting fold, to present his bride to God, decked and apparelled with glory. How glorious a sight will it be to see Christ and all his troops following him, with their crowns upon their heads t to see the triumphant entrance into those everlasting habitations, and to hear the applauses of the angels! Ps. xxiv. 7, 8, 'Lift up your heads, ? ye gates, and be ye lift up, you everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. That was a private and a personal entry at his ascension; but now it shall be public and glorious; now death the last enemy is destroyed, then he is the Lord mighty in battle indeed.

[3.] Our perpetual fellowship with Christ in the presence and glory of his kingdom. Pray mark, there is a presence, and that is much, that we are called to heaven as witnesses of Christ's glory. The queen of Sheba said of Solomon, 1 Kings x. 8, 'Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.' They that stand before the Lord and see his glory are much more happy. Zaccheus pressed to see him; the wise men came from the east to see him. It is our burden in the world that the clouds interpose between us and Christ, that there is a great gulf between us and him, which cannot be passed but by death; that God is at a distance; that our enemies often ask us, Where is your God? Now we shall be happy when we shall be in his arms, when we can say, Here he is; when our Redeemer is ever before our eyes, Job six. 2(5, to remember us of the grace purchased for us, and we are as near as we can desire. Now we dwell in his family. David envied the swallows that had their residence in the temple: 'One day spent in thy courts is better than a thousand spent elsewhere.' Ps. lxxxiv. 10. Then we shall always be about his throne, and we shall for ever feed our eyes with this glorious spectacle, Jesus Christ: his body shall be in a certain place» where ail shall behold it. The three children walked comfortably in the fiery furnace, because there was a fourth there, the Son of God: Dan. iii. 25, 'Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.' Again, this presence maketh way for enjoyment. It is not a naked sight and speculation; we are in the same state and condition with Christ: Rom. viii. 17, 'Heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.' We shall be like him. Servants may stand in the presence of princes, but they do not make their followers fellows and consorts with them in the same glory. Solomon could only show his glory to the queen of Sheba, but Christ giveth it us to be enjoyed. And all this is perpetual and without change and interruption: 1 Thes. iv. 17, 'We shall be for ever with the Lord.' We are then above fears, no more eclipses of God's face, no more trouble because of God's absence. Here we complain; the spouse sought Christ about the city: Cant iii. 3, 'Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?' Here we are forlorn orphans, and often without his society. Upon earth his converse was so acceptable, that the apostles were loath to hear of his departure. Now it is [Pg. 97] for a few days, he is not always abiding with us; then we shall never be glutted, God is always fresh and new to the glorified saints.

Use 1. To show us the love of Christ; his heart is not satisfied till we be in like condition with himself: Luke xxii. 30, 'Ye shall eat and drink at my table in my kingdom.' The greatest love that David could show to his friend was to admit his children to his table: 2 Sam. ix. 7, 'Thou shalt eat bread at my table continually.' said David to Mephibosheth; and to Barzillai, 2 Sam. xix. 33, 'Come over with me, and I will feed thee with me in Jerusalem.' And when he would honour Solomon, 1 Kings i. 33-35, 'He put him upon his own mule, and caused him to sit on his throne.' So we be at his table and on his throne: Rev. iii. 21, 'To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.' We enjoy the same blessedness which Christ doth. Adam was in paradise, we in heaven; Adam with the beasts of the earth, we with God and holy angels; Adam might be thrown out, we never. It is no matter if the world deny us a room to live among them; they cast us out many times, but Christ will take us to himself.

Use 2. If the presence of Christ be no small part of our happiness, let us more delight in it here. We enjoy his presence in ordinances: Ps. xvii. 15, 'As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness;' Ps. lxxxiv. 10, ? day in thy courts is better than a thousand; I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.' This is heaven begun, to be familiar with Christ in prayer and hearing, «fee. Let us often give him a visit. Oh t shame thyself when thou art loath to draw near to God. Dost thou look for heaven?

Use 3. Be willing to die, Why art thou backward to go to Christ? Would Christ pray for an inconvenience? You shun his company when he desireth yours, and he desireth your presence for your own sakes, that you may be happy. Love brought Christ out of heaven, that he might be with us; he thought of it before the world was: Prov. viii. 31, 'My delight was with the sons of men.' He longed for the time; when will it come? We are to go from earth to heaven, from conversing with men to converse with angels; why are we so loath to remove? What could Christ expect but hard usage, labour, griefs, and death? He came to taste the vinegar and the gall; we are called to the feast of loves, to the hidden manna, to rivers of pleasures. If you love Christ, why should you be unwilling to be in the arms of Christ? Let him be unwilling to die that is loath to be there where Christ is. Love is an affection of union, it desireth to be with the party loved, and can you be unwilling to die? Death is the chariot that is to carry you to Christ: Gen. xlv. 27, 'When Jacob saw the waggons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob revived.' What is there in the world to be compared with heaven? Either there must be something in the world to detain us, or it is the terribleness of the passage, or else a contempt of what is to come, that you are unwilling to die. If you have anything in the world more worthy than Christ—father, or mother, or wife, or friend, [Pg. 98] or brother, or present delights—it is a sign of a carnal heart: Ps. lxxiii. 25, 'Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none on earth I desire besides thee.' Can you say so without dissembling? Quit them all then. It is not the company of angels, but Christ; it is not wife, children, relations (these must be loved in God, and after God); nothing within the circuit of nature, none so worthy as Christ. Now you are put to the trial when sickness cometh, and you see death a-coming; Christ hath sent his waggons, his chariots, to see if we be real. Or is it the terribleness of the passage? Doth nature recoil at our dissolution? Where is your faith? 'Death is yours,' 1 Cor. iii. 22. Christ hath assured you, and will you not trust his word? You love him little when you have no confidence in his word. Or else contempt of things to come; then why was all this cost to prepare a place for you? Why came Christ to lay down his life to purchase that which we care not for? What needeth all this waste? Christians I hear for the time to come. We know not how soon we may be sent for and put to the trial; it is good to be resolved, that we may say, The sooner the better.

Observe, secondly, Christ taketh great delight in his people's company and fellowship. His heart is much set upon it.

1. I shall give you some demonstrations and evidences of it.

2. Reasons. First, Evidences.

1. His longing for the society of men before the creation of the world: Prov. viii. 31. 'I rejoiced in the habitable parts of the earth, and my delights were with the sons of men.' Though Christ delighted in all the creatures, as they were the effects of his wisdom, power, and goodness, yet chiefly with men, that are capable of God's image, and upon whom he should lay out the riches of his grace. He thought on us before the world was, and longed for the time of his incarnation: When will it come?

2. In that he delighted to converse in human shape before the incarnation: Zech. i. 10, 'The man among the myrtle trees;' who is also called, 'The angel of the Lord.' ver. 11.

3. He took pleasure to spend time busily among them, whilst he was with them in the days of his flesh: John ix. 4, 5, 'I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.' His affection to the service made him go up and down doing good to men; he would not leave this ministration to his servants, but would do it in person as long as he was in the world: John i. 14, 'The word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.' Christ did not assume our nature, as angels assumed bodies for the present turn, but lived a good space of time, and conversed with men.

4. When it was necessary he should depart, he had a mind to returning before he went away and removed his bodily presence from us; his heart is upon meeting and fellowship again, of getting his people up to him, as in the text, or his coming down to us: John xiv. 3, 'And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also.'

5. Until the time that that meeting cometh, he vouchsafeth us his [Pg. 99] spiritual presence: Mat. xxviii. 20, 'Lo, I am with you always to the end of the world.' Whatsoever part or age of the world we fall into in this life, we are with Christ, and Christ with us; not only with the church in general, but with every believer. With the church or assemblies of his people: 'Where two or three are gathered together ?a my name, I am in the midst of them.' Mat. xviii. 20. With every particular believer: Christ is said 'to dwell in our hearts by faith,' Eph. iii. 17. There is a near familiarity between Christ and every believer; every sanctified heart is a temple wherein he keepeth his residence. As God he is everywhere; as to his human nature, the heaven of heavens contain it; as to his gracious operation, and especial influence, so he dwelleth in the hearts of his people. He is with us in our duties: Exod. xx. 24, 'In all places where I record my name, I will come unto thee, and bless thee.' Christ is present to entertain us; we go to meet with Christ. In our dangers: Isa. xliii. 2, 'When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt, neither shall the flames kindle upon thee.' The Son of God was with the three children in the furnace. When left alone, they are not alone. He would never have gone from us if our necessities did not require it. It was necessary that he should die for our sins, that they might not hinder our believing and coming to him. It was necessary he should go to heaven. If our happiness lay here, he would be with us here, but it doth not; it is reserved for us in the heavens; therefore he must go there to prepare a place for us, that we may be ever with him.

6. When gone away he will tarry no longer than our affairs require; as soon as he hath done his work, he will come again and fetch us. When our souls are with him, that doth not fully content Christ; he will come and fetch us into heaven in our whole persons, and then Christ and we shall never part more: 1 Thes. iv. 17, 'And then shall we ever be with the Lord.' Thus Christ is never satisfied till our communion be perfect and perpetual, till we are all with him in one assembly and congregation: Ps. i. 5, 'Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.' Then all the elect shall meet in one general assembly, that Christ's mystical body may be fully complete; not one member of his mystical body is wanting.

Secondly, Reasons.

1. Negatively; there is not any want in himself, nor any worth in us. We are worthless and wretched; Ps. xiv. 3, 'They are all gone aside, they are altogether become filthy, there is none that doeth good, no not one;' Titus iii. 3, 'For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.' Christ hath no need of us, he was happy without us; he lieth in the bosom of his Father, and hath been his delight from all eternity, and hath ten thousand times ten thousand angels to attend him. What want hath he of poor worms?

2. Positively; his affection and relation to them. Affection and self-inclination; they are the members of his body: John xiii. 1, [Pg. 100] 'Jesus having loved his own that were in the world, he loved them to the end.' There are both motives; he hath loved them, and they are his own.

[1.] He hath loved them, and love is all for union and near communion: Dent. vii. 7, 8. 'The Lord did not set his love on you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people, but because the Lord loved you.' He hath no other reason but his own love; and therefore he will not leave till he hath brought them to their final happiness.

[2.] They are his own by election, purchase, resignation. They resign themselves to him, and so he hath a peculiar interest in them. He provideth for his own, they are members of his mystical body; 'The fulness of him that filleth all in all,' Eph. i. 23. Mystical Christ is not complete and full without them, though Christ personal be every way full and complete.

Use 1. Reproof. You see how Christ standeth affected to the society of his people, and so are all that have Christ's Spirit; as Moses chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season,' Heb. xi. 25. It is better to be afflicted for a season with God's people, than to live with the wicked in pleasure for a season; both are for a season. But there are a sort of men whose spirit and practice is very contrary to this of Christ; who cannot abide the presence, much less the company and communion, of the saints. Christ cannot rest in heaven without the saints; and these men count themselves in a prison when they are in good company; it is their burden and trouble to have a restraint upon their lusts, to be confined to gracious discourse about heaven and heavenly things. Nay, their very presence is an eyesore. As in some of the commonwealths of Greece, they had their petal ism and ostracism for men when they grew eminent and worthy, the baseness of popular government not consisting with conspicuous virtue; so these cannot endure holy strictness, or a size of grace above their dead-hearted profession.

Use 2. Comfort against the scorn and contempt of the world. Though you are cast forth as the sweepings of the streets, yet you are dear and precious with Christ. That company which is so disdained and rejected in the world is longed for by Christ; therefore 'let us go forth to him without the camp, bearing his reproach,' Heb. xiii. 13. The world casts us out, but Christ takes us to himself

Use 3. Let us prize the communion and fellowship of Christ. It is but reason that we should prize that company that is so necessary for us, such a blessing to us. If he value ours, he is worthy of love, and he is our head; let us long to be with him. But wherein?

1. By looking after communion with him for the present Certainly there is such a thing; the world looketh upon communion with Christ but as a fancy, as many among the heathens pretended to a secrecy with their gods; but the saints know the reality of it: 1 John i. 3, 'And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ' Certainly there is such a thing as this. Now, this is either constant and habitual, or solemn and special.

[1.] Constant and habitual, as he dwelleth in our hearts by faith; [Pg. 101] where Christ doth take up his abode and dwelling in the heart, renewing them by his Spirit, as the fountain of life: Gal. ii. 20, 'Nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.' And the seed and hope of glory: Col. i. 27, 'Christ in you the hope of glory;' maintaining and defending them against all temptations: 1 John iv. 4, 'Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world.' There is no necessity, in order to the spiritual use, that his body be in the sacrament, received into the mouth and stomach; his human nature is locally present in heaven, but his Spirit is in us as a well of life. This is our constant communion with him.

[2.] Solemn and special, in holy ordinances. Our souls should run upon this, how we may find Christ there; as the spouse sought her beloved throughout the whole city: Cant. iii. 2, 3, 'I will arise now, and go about the city, in the streets, and in the broad ways; I will seek him whom my soul loveth. I sought him, but I found him not. The watchmen that go about the city found me, to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? 'So doth the believing soul long to see Christ. If he longeth for our presence, we should desire his presence, and to enjoy as much as we can of it here in the world. It is heaven begun: 'As for me, I shall behold his face in righteousness.' Ps. xvii. 15. Not only to have bare ordinances, but to meet with God there, that we may never go from him without him. This is to begin heaven, to give Christ a visit, to be familiar with Christ in prayer, to seek after him in the Lord's supper, and never go from God without God: Ps. lxiii. 1, 2, 'O God, thou art my God, early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.' That glimpse he had once found made him long for more: Ps. lxxxiv. 1, 2, 'How amiable are thy tabernacles, ? Lord of hosts! My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.' Spiritual communion will at last end in glory. You may change place, but not company.

2. Long to be with him, and to have immediate communion with him in heaven: Phil. i. 23, 'I desire to depart, and to be with Christ;' not to wish for death in a pet, to put an end to your troubles. Men look upon heaven as a retreat. Nay, do not merely look upon heaven as it freeth you from the torments of hell or the curse and vengeance of God, but as it giveth you communion with Christ: 2 Cor. v. 8, 'We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.' Therefore upon this account be more willing to depart You that are old, and within sight of shore, wait for the happy hour. You that are sick, be forward to prepare for home. You that are young, you may live long, but you cannot live better than with Christ; be ready when God shall call you.

(1.) There is far more reason why we should long for Christ than Christ for us. He desireth your presence for your own sakes, that you may be happy; he is not solitary without you. You have all the reason in the world to be willing to go to Christ; the sooner the better.

(2.) If you have the hearts of Christians, you will do so: Rev. xxii. 17, 'The Spirit and the bride say, Come.' If you have heartily [Pg. 102] consented to Christ, you will do so: Gen. xxiv. 58, 'They called Rebekah, and said unto her, Wilt thou go with this man? and she said, I will go.' Christ saith, 'I will that they shall be where I am;' and the soul saith, I will be ever in a posture longing, waiting for this happy time. The children of Israel eat the passover with staves in their hands.

(3.) Experience puts us to this; such as have any communion with Christ here will long after the completing of it in heaven: Rom. viii. 23, 'And not only they, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit; even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.'

(4.) If we desire it not, it is a sign of some corruption, too great an inclination to the pleasures and contentments of the world. Lot lingered in Sodom, Gen. xix. 16. Or that you have lost your evidences, and so think to appear before him as malefactors before a judge.

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