Mostly such as God has given me by his own Holy Spirit, which "searcheth all things; yea; the deep things of God"
Matthew chap. 1, ver. 1: "The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."
Christ is not only the son of David, and David the son of Abraham; but Christ himself is the son (strictly so in spirit) both of Abraham and of David; yea, of all the holy fathers.
Many good Christians may not have duly considered this, and so may be ready to doubt the truth of it. But many things are true which seem strange, and almost impossible, to those who have never been let into them. There are many deep mysteries, not only in spiritual things, but also in natural things, which thousands disbelieve, only because they have not been opened to their understandings; and yet those to whom they have been opened are sure of the truth of them. It is, therefore, of excellent use in preparing us to understand and receive the truth, to stand open in our minds, with a full conviction that many things may be true, which we have never yet seen to be so. If this be the disposition of our minds, and we look to God and humbly desire his divine assistance, he may graciously open things to us, one after another, which, of ourselves, we never could pry into or behold. He may give us to see clearly, that Christ is not only the son of God, and of Abraham, and of David, but of every true born son of God in every age of the world.
It may be thought by many, that Christ is not the son of any but God, and the virgin Mary; but Christ himself positively declares, he that doeth the will of his Father, "the same is his mother, and sister, and brother." Shall we suppose he only meant that they were dearly beloved by him, and owned as if they were his nearest relations? By such glosses and interpretations is the true meaning of many of his deep and deeply instructive sayings qualified away. But, verily, he meant as he said; and had he not carefully confined his words to a strict meaning, he might have called such his father too. But in the spiritual sense in which he was speaking, no man can possibly be his father, but God. It is true that we read of his father David. In regard to his outward genealogy and descent, David was his forefather; but in regard to his birth in man, none can be Christ's father but God only. And in order to hold this forth to mankind, even his body that was born of the virgin, was conceived by the overshadowing efficacy of the Holy Ghost, without the agency of any other immediate father but God. Thus the outward holds a lively analogy with the inward. But though, speaking of the inward, no man can be his father, yet man can and must be, his "mother," as well as "sister and brother," if ever he comes to be truly regenerated and born of the "incorruptible seed and word of God." This new birth is ever produced by the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost upon the souls of men: and if this gracious overshadowing produce not the holy birth in some men, it is through their default, or the want of their cooperation with it. In such as these, it is like the seed sown in bad ground, and fails of heavenly increase; for "the man is not without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord." There must be an assent of the mind, a uniting with and cleaving to the holy overshadowing or regenerating influence of the Holy Ghost, in every soul where the new birth is effected. And even in the case of our Lord's conception in the virgin, it was not without the hearty assent of her mind; for at the time from which this conception is reckoned, the language of her assenting soul was, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it unto me according to thy word." And herein the generation of Jesus Christ appears in beautiful and instructive analogy. The conception even of the body not being without the cordial submission, faith, and acquiescence of the virgin; which is a lively display of that state which invariably takes place in every soul that becomes the mother of Christ, which every one doth that is born again, or is born of God. For this new birth, or birth in man, "of the incorruptible seed of God," is as real a birth as is our first birth, or birth into this world.
Some may think it a mere metaphorical expression, but it is as perfect a reality as any in nature; and that babe of life, that true child of God, that cries "Abba, Father," is never brought forth, but through a union of the two seeds, the human and divine. And as both seeds are spiritual, hence, "he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit," as the apostle truly asserts. This is the true union with God; and those thus begotten of him are all, strictly speaking, "the offspring of God," and children of the Most High. Stumble not at it, reader; it is the very truth of God; the only sure way of salvation by Christ. And had salvation ever been without a real birth of God in the soul, a substantial union of the very life of God, and of man, brought forth, and growing up into one new man, which, in all ages and nations, is the true Immanuel state, God with man, in a real living union and oneness, Christ's birth of the virgin would have had no relation to the salvation of souls. But now, blessed forever be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, this outward coming of the son of his love, or this his appearance, work, and service in that prepared body, is a most lively and instructive exhibition and display of the alone true way and work of salvation. It shows us that no names, notions, creeds, forms, or performances, are of any avail in that great work, that are not in, and receive not all their life and virtue from and in the real life and virtue of the Immanuel state, the union of God and man. This it concerns each individual to experience in his own heart. For nothing done for us, without us, is of any further actual and final advantage to us, than as it promotes the life and growth of this divine union.
There is a great deal said of faith, regeneration, and imputation; and the adversary cares not how busy men are in talking, imagining, and building creeds and systems, and professionally and notionally relying on the merits of Christ, if he can thereby keep them from that loss of their own life, that death of the first active sinful nature in themselves, through which alone the life of Christ, the new man, is promoted! Had there been any possible way of salvation but through the real death of all that is sinful in man, Christ need not have died; death is the alone way, and "without blood there is no remission." The offerings under the law bore ample testimony to this truth, and pointed out the necessity of death unto sin. But men are too prone to rest in the figure, and to content themselves with outward performances. Instead of looking through and beyond the type to the substance, and pressing forward into a death unto sin, and a new life unto holiness, the Jews thought there was something substantially available in the punctual performance of the signs; and so gave occasion for the apostle's severe reprimand: "Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, and hast a form of knowledge, and of the truth in the law."
Well, Christ has carried the thing much further than it ever was or could be carried, by the typical death of bulls and goats. He has shown us plainly that nothing will do, short of real death in us. That the death must be in man; that we must die to all creaturely corruption, as he died to the creaturely life. "In that he died, he died unto sin once," says the apostle, "and in that he liveth, he liveth unto God." Though he was sinless, yet he died unto sin; he died to the very first risings and motions of evil; for "he was in all things tempted as we are." In yielding to these temptations, lust would have been so conceived as to have brought forth sin, but in dying, instantly, the death of the holy cross, to every motion whose tendency was unto sin, he is properly said to have died unto sin. And herein, as well as in his death on the cross outwardly to the life of the creature, he has powerfully taught us the necessity of dying with him unto all sin. He that will lose his life for his sake, shall save a divine and eternal life with and in him. But he that will save his life, will not die with him unto sin, must and shall lose it. He that will reign with him, must suffer with him; and he that will rise with him in the newness of the divine life, must first be buried with him in that baptism which is into real death unto all sin, even that baptism by which the floor of the heart is thoroughly cleansed. This is the alone way through which he ever becomes our life. Paul boldly calls him "Christ our life," and he surely is the divine life, yea, and all the divine life, of every redeemed soul. God revealed him in Paul; not merely to him, but in him. And no man ever had the true revelation of the son of God, but in himself: "I live," says the apostle, "yet not I, it is Christ that liveth in me."
Come, Christian professors, let us examine and prove our own selves. "Know you not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?" "He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you," says Christ. And again: "Because I live, ye shall live also: at that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you." As really as he is in the Father, his brethren are in him; and as really as the Father is in him, and is his life, so really is he in them and is their life. As really as God and man are united in one, in him, so really are they so in all his. Hence, "he is not ashamed to call them brethren;" for they are true brethren, all born of the same holy and "incorruptible seed and word of God." It is this, and only this, that makes them not only "heirs of God," but "joint-heirs with Christ." All children of one Father; all begotten by the overshadowing power of the Holy Ghost; all bearing the image of the heavenly; wherein, "he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one." Nor let any man suppose that anything can ever inherit the kingdom of God, that has not a birth of the very life of God in it. What can possibly bring "every thought in us into captivity to the obedience of Christ," as the apostle expresses it, but the life of Christ ruling in us? Hence it is that in the kingdom of God, both when, and wherever it cometh in earth, where the divine will is done as it is in heaven, and also hereafter in the abodes of bliss, "all things are new, and all things of God"; for in this state and kingdom "God is all in all." Here it is that God is truly and entirely their God, and they his "sons and daughters." Indeed, the alone way of becoming his sons and daughters, the alone way of his becoming all in all in us, and bearing unopposed rule in our hearts, to the obedient subjection of every thought, is by our being born of him; born of the very seed of God, and as really so, as Isaac was born or begotten of Abraham.
Hence every man in whom this birth is brought forth, is truly the mother of Christ. God alone is the father of every such joint-heir with the blessed Jesus; the person in whom he is thus begotten, is his mother; the begotten in every such soul, is his brother and sister; and this is that which sinneth not. In this holy birth, and babe of life, "the seed of God," of which it is begotten, remaineth; and so it "cannot sin, because it is born of God." If any man, in whom this birth has some real existence, finds himself still in degree under the power of sin, he may be assured, that so far as he is so, he is not born of God; for that which is born of God sinneth not: or, in the words of the beloved disciple, "whatsoever is born of God, overcometh the world" (1 John 5:4). That which sinneth in any man, is not born of God; is not the new man, but the old man, which is corrupt, and in which sin yet dwelleth. In this state many good men are groaning to God, for complete deliverance from the remaining bondage of corruption. "Even we ourselves," says the apostle, "groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." It is sometimes long before the entire adoption, before the sonship is so thoroughly completed, as to allow the soul to speak boldly of the full redemption of the body; redemption of all that belongs to the man, every propensity, and every thought and motion. But there is no safe stopping by the way, or sitting down at ease; for as certainly as we become wholly joined to the Lord in the one spirit, we know Christ to reign in us, till he puts down all rule and authority; until all his and our enemies are put under his feet in us; until death is completely swallowed up in victory, and God becomes all in all. Here it is that the son renders up the kingdom to the Father; and God, over all, sways the unresisted scepter of his kingdom.
This doctrine admits of great illustration from the Scriptures; indeed it is as it were the central point, the focus; that, towards which much of the drift of Scripture tends, as well as that which gives weight, beauty, and instruction to a great part of the sacred records. And yet, such is the wisdom of God, in hiding these things from the wise and prudent, that nothing is less seen by thousands, who think they understand the Scriptures. They are a sealed book to this world's wisdom, and God determines their being so. The mysteries they contain are only "spiritually discerned;" for "the natural man cannot know them." There is none in heaven, nor in all the earth, but "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," that can open the seals or give the mind of man rightly to look into, behold, and understand these divine mysteries.
In confirmation of the Immanuel state, read Matthew's first chapter: "She was found with child of the Holy Ghost"; "That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost!" This was ever the case with all who come rightly to know "Christ in them the hope of glory"; and there never was, nor ever will be, any other true and substantial "hope of glory" but Christ in man, his life, his strength, his guide, and sure defense. Man no otherwise comes to the living and complete experience of this, than through the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost, begetting in him a birth of the seed of God; which gradually increases, and grows in stature, and in favor with God, (as did our blessed Lord in that prepared body), until Christ becomes completely formed in him. This was what the primitive believers pressed forward to the attainment of, as a mark for the prize of the high calling of God, which was "in Christ Jesus"; and for this, Paul "travailed in birth" with the little children, spiritually, of his day, that Christ might be formed in them. This he well knew could be effected by nothing short of the power of the Holy Ghost. Hence, in turning people "from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God," the gospel was preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; and from that day to this, the gospel of life and salvation has never been, nor ever can be, any otherwise preached.
"The gospel is the power of God;" and no other power, no preaching but what is in that power, can turn souls from darkness to light: nothing out of that power can beget souls to God, or effect the conception, formation, and birth of Christ in man: this being the alone power exerted through all periods of time, in order to produce that union of God and man, wherein this new birth consists. We find this also the only power exerted upon the blessed virgin, the mother of our Lord.
Oh! the beautiful analogy, the deep wisdom and divine instruction herein exhibited to the enlightened mind! As I view these things, my soul adores, and in prostration and reverence bows before the throne of God: and all that is alive in me ascribes greatness, and wisdom, might, majesty, and dominion, to the Holy One of Israel! Well might Paul speak of Christ in man the hope of glory, as the mystery hid from ages and generations of those who were under the veil; and consider it as the very riches and glory of God's "inheritance in the saints." Great riches and glory indeed! Magnified forever be the name of the Lord, that he has come so near us and has so clearly taught us the nature and way of salvation, in the coming of our blessed Lord in that prepared body. Even the body was prepared by the power of God, and that too, as we have seen, in a very teaching and instructive manner; hence, says our dear redeemer, speaking to the Father, "a body hast thou prepared me." Here we see the body was not the savior, (otherwise than as in union with, and through the power of, the divine life, it bore a part in the great work), but was prepared for him who was the savior, to do the Father's will in. "Lo! I come; a body hast thou prepared me." The I who came, the me for whom the body was prepared, was, strictly speaking, the savior, and had been so in the salvation of all that had ever known salvation. For, says the Most High, "I am God, and beside me there is no savior." And yet he never saved any, but through the "child born, and son given." There never was any other way, but the way of the new birth, the begotten of God brought forth in the soul. This is the "seed of the woman," that ever "bruiseth the serpent's head" in man: wherever this is brought forth, Satan's head is bruised; and wherever Satan's head is bruised in man, this is brought forth. This seed is not the seed of the woman, merely as born of Mary; but also as born in every redeemed soul, either man or woman, for in this sense they are all one in Christ. Wherever Christ is brought forth, he is both the son of God, and the son of man: but of man, only, and always, as his mother. A son ever implies both a father and mother: and hence Christ was the son of God, and son of man too, long before the days of the virgin Mary. And yet he never could have been the son of God, till he was begotten of him, and he could not have been begotten without a mother as well as a Father. So that his eternal co-existence with the Father, previous to a mother's existence, was not in the state of sonship, but absolutely as God.
Hence, the evangelist John, speaking of his eternity and divinity, does not say, "In the beginning was the son, and the son was with God, and the son was God;" but, he says, "In the beginning was the Word." The Word was strictly God, and in nowise distinct from him, as a second person in the trinity; but was truly the "everlasting Father." This everlasting Father, arising in his might, spake the word, "and it was so!" Worlds and intelligences were spoken into being by the word of his eternal power! Hence, as in putting forth his voice he is called the word, so of his uttering his voice in the hearts of his prophets, it is said, "the word of the Lord came unto them:" and of his clothing himself with flesh, and speaking into birth that holy thing which was born of the virgin Mary by the word of his power, it is said, "the word was made flesh;" that is, "took flesh," for the flesh he took on him: though "he took not on him the nature of angels," but the nature of man, and thus was found in "fashion as a man." This holy Word that thus took on him flesh, was none else but the Everlasting Father, exerting himself, by the word of his own power, in all productive energy!
It is as dark as Egyptian darkness, to talk of three eternal persons in the only one God. He is one forever. There is no twain in him. Even his wisdom and his power are not twain in him; for he is wisdom, and wholly wisdom; he is power, and wholly power; and so of all his other attributes, as we call them. Indeed the very word attribute implies, that he has not these, as absolutely different things in him; but that we only attribute them to him, as if he had, and that because he is all these, rather than has them. If he had them, in actual contradistinction one from another, we need not call them attributes; and in that case there would be at least a twain; yea, a considerable variety and composition in him: whereas he is one simple uncompounded act, or essence.
But generating (we may use the word generation, for Matthew calls his book, "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ"), I say, generating with the life of man, the everlasting Father takes upon, and unites unto himself, our life and nature; and thus brings forth the Immanuel state, God with man. Here the sonship commences; and this commenced long before Mary. "To us a child is born, to us a son is given," is true in the present tense, and was true in every age of the world, without looking backwards or forwards. "Thou art my beloved son, this day have I begotten thee," is also ever true in the present tense, whenever the new birth takes place in man. And because all the divine life and authority of this only begotten (for he is one in all), both in that prepared body and in all his joint-heirs and brethren, is the eternal life and power of the "everlasting Father" that begetteth him; therefore the very text that calleth him a child born, and a son given, declares his name to be "the Mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." His name is his life and power; "the name of the Lord is a strong tower"; "thy name is as ointment poured forth," and many other passages of Scripture show his name to be just what he is. And, therefore, as all the divine life, power, virtue, and authority of the son, is the divine life, power, virtue, and authority of the Father, conferred upon, active in, and actuating the begotten, he receives the name "everlasting Father." Thus he and the Father are one; and yet Christ truly says, "My Father is greater than I." This, as a son, he may say, wherever he is brought forth; as a son, this must have been the case in that body; as a son, he must be dependent upon the Father; hence he declares, "I can do nothing without my Father." "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work."
It is not possible for the Father to beget, or put forth a being that can work good independently of himself; for then there would be two good, or, which is the same thing, two Gods. Hence, when one called Christ, "Good Master," he refused to accept the title, as applied to himself, independently of the one only real goodness, the goodness of God; and makes this return, "Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God." This must hold good forever; for the moment any other independent source of real goodness is admitted, another God is that moment admitted; or good is admitted, which the one God is not the source and author of. Hence, as a son, Christ was and is as absolutely and entirely dependent upon the Father as any of us. Indeed, were he not so, he could not be like us in all things, sin excepted. As we can do no good thing merely of ourselves, so he, if like us in all things but sin, can do no good thing of himself, merely, and independently. Hence, he could not do many mighty works in some places, because of the people's unbelief; the Father, by his eternal power, not making way there for the visible display of the glory and power of the sonship. Nor was this total dependency confined wholly to power; it was as real in regard to wisdom and knowledge; and so certainly as we have no real wisdom and knowledge, but what we have received, so certainly was the case the same with the blessed Jesus. Hence, he himself speaks of a day or hour, which no man, nor angel, nay, nor even the son himself, but the Father only, knoweth. Some may think this is very strange, but it must be so, if he is, except sin, like us in all things; and if he were not in all things else like us, his triumph and victory over all the powers of death and darkness could not assure us of the possibility and certainty, upon our standing faithful, of our victoriously triumphing in like manner.
Has he not fairly, in the open field of battle, bid defiance to, foiled, conquered, and overcome all the art, power, and policy of the grand adversary of souls? Yea, verily he has. But in what capacity has he done this? And can we do it too? For if he has done it in some very different capacity from ours, either by having less temptation to encounter, or weapons of warfare to maintain the combat with which we have not, what assurance can his conquest give us, that we may conquer too? But verily he has made this conquest in our capacity; in every respect in our capacity, except sin: and therefore, as the arms in which he conquered are ours, and as we certainly may, if we will but avail ourselves of the force and omnipotency thereof, conquer all the arts and powers of hell, even though we have been in degree weakened and disheartened by sin, what Christ said to his followers is strictly true: "The works that I do shall ye do also; and greater works than these shall ye do." One greater thing, at least, we all may do, if we will; we may all conquer Satan, and know his head entirely bruised; know him bound and cast out, and all his goods destroyed, even after we have been enslaved by him; and by means of which slavery, we may have the force and power of vicious habits in ourselves to conquer. This is a victory indeed; and such a one as the blessed Jesus never could experience, in his individual conquest, in that prepared and sinless body. For though I doubt not his rising superior, in that conquest, to all the powers of hell, evil habits, and all other evil; yet, as he had no evil habits in himself to conquer, so he left the door open for his brethren, his joint-heirs and companions in the holy warfare, to do that greater work, and conquer all the additional force of sinful habits in themselves. He had all the varied and combined forces of temptation and assault to combat, that a sinless state could possibly be tried with; and thus being tempted, he knows how to succor those that are tempted, and is forever a merciful and faithful high priest and intercessor.
He trod into the sympathetic experience of every step of our tribulations and sufferings, and commiserates us in our most tried states; and having conquered our grand adversary, in our nature, and while clothed with flesh and found in fashion as a man, well may he bid us be of good cheer, and not fear the assaults of Satan: laying down as the groundwork and reason of our confidence and cheerfulness, "I have overcome the world!"
But some are ready to conclude, his overcoming in that single combat is enough; that we are to rejoice in that, and rest assured of its all-sufficiency for us, without entertaining the least thought of overcoming all the power of sin and Satan in ourselves, which, say they, is impossible. Oh! the grand delusions of the devil! Had Christ been governed by Satan's representations of the impossibility of a conquest, he had never overcome all his strongholds, of which this is one; and a strong fortress indeed it is, against all those who would believe him, who is a liar from the beginning, in this his lying insinuation.
But, dear reader, believe him not. Christ has not conquered to excuse us, but that we should follow his steps; and has shown us, that as certainly as he has overcome, we shall overcome too, if we fight valiantly under him, the captain of our salvation. In order whereunto, we are called upon to avail ourselves of the "whole armor of God." The whole armor of God! may the doubting and despairing mind say--wouldst thou have us to be so vain as to think we can be armed with the whole armor of God? Have we all the power of God, all these weapons of war at our service in this great warfare against "the world, the flesh, and the devil"? Was not Christ Jesus armed with far more potent weapons than we ought to pretend to?
In answer to this, I do assure the truly conflicting reader that we have, freely offered to us, if we will use them in God's way and time, all the weapons of warfare with which our savior gave the grand foil to the utmost force of our grand adversary. We have the free offer and gift of the "whole armor of God," if we will receive it and go forth to war in the invincible power thereof: an armor that is absolute proof against all opposition and assault; a shield that never failed; a sword that never yet was foiled in battle! It is only when "the shield of the Mighty is vilely cast away," that Satan can possibly prevail against us. Our God is in no degree wanting, or sparing in his provision for our defense, preservation, and safety. "He will (he does) give grace and glory, and no good thing will he withhold from" them who rightly rely upon his holy aid. All such are armed with all the power of Omnipotence, as often as they need it. If the power of temptation increaseth against them, let them only stand fast in the power of God upon them, in their own souls, and then Satan can no more defeat them than he can defeat Omnipotence. For let his power and his roaring increase to whatever possible degree, their strength and valor will be proportionably increased, in the name of the infinite Jehovah and in the power of an endless life.
Their supplies and resources will ever rise superior to all the arts of hell, and the power of the prince of darkness; nor can they ever be exhausted, unless it were possible for Satan to baffle unlimited wisdom, and exhaust the supplies of unbounded Goodness and Power!
I grant, in our own, unassisted attempts to maintain the field against the arch-champion of the regions of darkness, all our iron would be but as stubble, and our brass as rotten wood before him: he would laugh us to scorn, and stamp ignominy upon our utmost prowess. But magnified over all, and praised forever, be the great name of the Lord! he has not sent us into this world, no, not an individual of us, to sustain such unequal combat. It is true, he has placed us here upon probation; exposed to the attacks, buffetings, allurements, and temptations of our common adversary; and has rendered us unable, without his assistance, to prevail at all against him: and there is no reason to doubt but that this is all for the best, and the very dictate of infinite wisdom and goodness.
For my part, I do not, and dare not even wish I had no such adversary to wage war with; nor yet that I was able in my own independent ability to resist, conquer, or confound him. I am willing to be tried, as gold is tried, "in the fire," and as are acceptable men "in the furnace of affliction." I am willing also that God should have all the praise, and all the glory, in my preservation and victory. I know he "will not give his glory to another, nor his praise to graven images;" nor is there any thing in me that wishes to arrogate to the creature, the least claim or praise of independent achievement. I know in this warfare I can do nothing of myself, independently; I know also, that no moment will ever arrive, wherein I shall not be armed (unless it be through my own default), with armor, and ability all-sufficient, to defeat and foil the utmost exerted powers and most cunning and artful devices of hell. The devil may tempt, but can force no man to yield to his temptations. Thanksgiving, and glory, and honor, and power, be ascribed to Israel's holy and omnipotent Guide, Governor, and Preserver! "There is no enchantment against Jacob, nor divination against Israel," so long as Israel's abiding is in the true tent and tower of safety, the name and strength of the Lord.
Therefore, let the call or alarm, be sounded throughout all the camps of Israel, "To thy tent, O Israel! To thy tent, O Israel!" The Lord! the Lord strong and mighty; the name, the life, the power of the living God, the mighty God of Jacob, is thy alone tent and tower of safety. O Israel, abide here, and thou art safe forever! Thy place of defense then is in the "munition of rocks"; "bread shall be given thee, thy waters shall be sure." For though thou art still but "worm Jacob," in thyself, and hast no independent might or ability, yet the strength of Omnipotence is infallibly engaged on thy side: and so long as thou trustest in the Lord with all thy heart, not leaning to thy own understanding, but faithfully and valiantly maintaining the fight in the name of the Lord, he "will never leave thee nor forsake thee." In the fire and in the water he will still be with thee; that neither the floods nor the flames shall prevail against thee. He will hold thee, yea, hide thee too, in the hollow of his own holy hand; and even as the very "apple of his eye" he will keep thee. This thou mayst with undoubting confidence rely upon; for it never has, nor ever will fail to those who rightly trust in the living God and depend on the all-sufficiency of that aid and armor wherewith he inwardly and powerfully equips, arms, and defends all his children. So that down to this day, it remains a reviving and soul consolating truth, that "none ever trusted in the Lord, and were confounded."
But now to return to the subject of the absolute dependence of the son upon the Father. Some may think it very strange that I dare assert he is as dependent for wisdom, power, and refreshment of soul, as any of us; for they have been taught that the son was the son from all eternity; begotten, and yet, as begotten, as old as the Father; and that, as the son and begotten, he was very God! A darker doctrine than which I do not remember to have met with in heathen mythology!
God was from eternity one, and no more twain than a unit, or than an indivisible particle; and viewing him thus, without any regard to his works, he liveth and reigneth properly God. Exerting himself in creation, putting forth his power, or speaking the word, "Let there be light," &c., he receives properly the appellation of the word. And whether he had ever begotten any offspring or not, he was potentially the "everlasting Father," as having the power of begetting; and thus commencing actual Father whenever he pleased. But actual Father he never was nor could be, till he had begotten an offspring; and whenever he had done this, both the actual state of Fatherhood and sonship commenced; as when he actually created, he commenced actual creator, and when he actually redeemed anyone from bondage, he commenced actual redeemer.
Some may say, this represents him as beginning to be something, which he was not before. But it only represents him exerting his eternal powers and capacities when and just as he pleaseth. What right have we to conclude he must from all eternity have been actually begetting, creating, redeeming, &c.? Will it not suffice us, that he ever had the power and capacity to exert himself in any or all these ways, or in any other way, just when he pleased? Do we impute change or variation to him, or argue that he is not just that in himself at one time as at another, unless we admit he is from all eternity exerting himself in the actual creation of this terraqueous globe on which we dwell? or in the formation of the first man, Adam?--in directing Noah how to build the ark? or in deluging the world with a general overflow of water?
Is he not the great "healer of breaches"? Is he not the "father of the fatherless, and husband of the widow"? But could he ever be the actual healer of breaches, before any breaches were made? Could he be an actual Father to the fatherless, or husband to the widow, before the fatherless or widow existed? Is he not a "rich rewarder of all who diligently seek him"? But could he be their actual rewarder, before ever they sought him or were in existence? And could he any more be an actual father, creator, or redeemer, before ever he actually begat, created, or redeemed? Or could a son be begotten, and have no mother? The production of man on the earth was a work of creation; and would it have been anything different from creation, had the Almighty produced the man Christ Jesus without the medium of a mother? Or if Christ had existed as God and man, co-eternal with the Father, how could he have been begotten? Or how can a son be begotten, if, as a son, he existed co-eternal with the Father? And why did God choose to show us the way and work of salvation, by bringing into union the human and divine nature in one? and why, in doing this, did he make use of a woman, a mother, but to teach us that salvation was, and is, through all ages, a real birth of God in man: a real uniting of the divine and human natures, in the Immanuel state of God with man; wherein "he that is joined to the Lord, is one spirit," as before mentioned? And does not our savior's being "made of a woman," as the apostle expresses it, or being begotten by the power of God upon the holy virgin, loudly proclaim to us that there never was a soul regenerated, or born again to God, but through a work wherein both a father and a mother are concerned? A work wherein the two seeds or natures, the "incorruptible seed and word of God," and the proper nature, or life of man, are united. A work wherein "the man can no more be without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord"; that is, wherein God can no more be without the creature, the mother, nor the creature, the mother, without him, the Father, than the man or the woman can be without each other in the procreation of their species.
And do not the obedience, sufferings, and death of Christ, as plainly point out to us the necessity of a life of obedience, self-denial, and death unto sin, as ever outward circumcision pointed out the circumcision of the heart? And is it not on the very ground of this necessity of a real self-denial, and death to sin, that Christ insists upon it, that whoever will be his disciple, must first deny himself, take up his daily (mark daily) cross, and follow him? Follow him!--what is that? Why it is to take his Holy Spirit for our leader and guide into all truth; to take him for our pattern and example; and to follow him, wheresoever he leadeth us, in the way of regeneration, self-denial, the loss of our own life, and death unto all sin!
These are the terms, and this is the alone way of salvation; which makes it easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for worldly minded men, while they remain such, to be saved!
And art thou, reader, ready to say, if these be the terms, who then can be saved? I grant that, with man, in his own strength and independent ability, salvation is, and ever will be, impossible; but with God it is very possible: he can make man a new creature; carry him through and over all opposition and difficulty; make him more than conqueror; and save him with an everlasting salvation.