« ForrigeFortsæt »
O my God! be thou my witness of this doctrine. All ye that fear God, that hear me this day, bear me witness that I have published this in the ears of all that hear me. Thou conscience, that art in that man that is yet going on in sin and posting with speed to eternal misery, bear me witness now and at the day of judgment, that I told him what must be done upon him, in him, and by him, if he would escape eternal torments. If he will not hearken nor obey while he is in time, conscience, I bespeak thy witness against him, and that thou bring thy accusation against him, and upbraid him to the confusion of his face,-among all the devils in hell; and all that shall be damned with him,—that he was told he could not keep his sins, and be kept out of that place when he died; he could not reject Christ and finally refuse him, and be saved for ever.
Sinner! carest thou not ? wilt thou still on? Good God! must we end thus ? Must I come down without hopes of his repenting ? and he die with foolish hopes of being saved, and after death be cast into that eternity where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched ? But in those endless flames [he] shall cry out and roar, “O cursed caitiff! what did I mean all the while I was in time, to neglect preparation for eternity ? O miserable wretch ! this is a doleful, dreadful state ; and still the more (so), because it is eternal. Woe is me, that I cannot die, nor cease to be! O that God would cut me off! O that devils could tear me into a thousand, thousand pieces! or that I could use such violence to myself, that I might be no longer what I am, nor where I am! But, alas ! I wish in vain, and all these desires are in vain ; for though the union of my soul and body in my mother's womb was liable to a dissolution, yet since this body did arise out of the bosom of the earth, and is re-united to its soul, [it] admits of no separation for ever; and, which still is worse, this soul and body, now separated from God and Christ and all that be above in that blessed eternity, must never, never be admitted near unto them. O, cursed be the day that ever I was born! Cursed be that folly and madness that brought me to this cursed place! for here I lie under extremity of pain, which, if it were for a year or two, or many millions, and then [to] end, would be in this respect exceeding heavy, because it were to last so long ; but that then [it] should be no longer, would make it in the mean while to be the lighter. But when eternity is added to extremity, nothing can be added to make me extremely, because in this extremity I am eternally, miserable. O eternity, eternity! in my condition what is more dreadful than eternity? This fire burns to all eternity; the heavy strokes of revenging justice will be laid on me to all eternity ; I am banished from God and happiness to all eternity. O eternity, eternity ! nothing cuts me to the heart like the corroding thoughts of this eternity. I am an object of the wrath of God, of the contempt of angels, of the derision of saints, of the mockings of devils and cursed fiends, to all eternity : I burn, but cannot be consumed; I toss and roll, and cannot rest to all eternity. 0 eternity, eternity! thou art enough to break my heart and make it die, but that it cannot break nor die to all eternity.”
And if this shall be the doleful language, the direful lamentations, of souls that went Christless out of time into eternity, do ye, while ye are in time, eye eternity in all you do, and get a title to eternal happiness ; or else, when ye are in eternity, ye shall remember that in time ye were forewarned ; which warning, because ye did not take [it], shall be a vexation to your hearts to all eternity.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship
one with another.-1 John i. 7.
The subject I am to treat upon is communion with God, how to attain it, and how to maintain it, in as constant a course as we may be capable of in this world : and for that end I have chosen this text. My usual course is to provide matter for a text ; but in this lecture I provide a text for the matter I am to treat upon. The subject is high and copious, much spoken of; but, I fear, not so well understood, and less experienced, though the subject mainly relates to Christian experience. Before I come to the subject, I shall speak something of the text upon which it is grounded.
The author of this epistle is St. John, “ John the apostle,” “ John the divine,” as he was anciently called ; and he writes this epistle, some think, to the believing Jews only; others think, rather to the whole catholic church ; and the matter of the epistle is partly to distinguish the true and the false Christian, and for that end lays down many signal characters to distinguish them; and partly to vindicate the doctrine of the gospel concerning Jesus Christ the true Messiah,—his person, his natures, and salvation by him alone,—from the many errors that were crept-in by false teachers and seducers in his time; as Cerinthus, Ebion, &c., as he intimates in 1 John ii. 26 : “These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.” He also vindicates the holiness of the Christian profession from the impure practices of the Nicolaitanes and the Gnostics, who began early to abuse the true liberty of the gospel, and to turn the grace of God into wantonness. And, lastly, he doth earnestly press them to the Christian love of one another, because of the persecutions (which] he saw were coming upon the church from the Roman empire, and the divisions that would arise amongst themselves from many false brethren.
And hereupon to strengthen their faith and profession the more, he shows forth the gospel in the beginning of this epistle :
1. In the antiquity of it : “ That which was from the beginning," &c. 2. In the certainty of it, as in the third verse :
“ That which we have seen and heard, declare we unto you.”
3. In the main scope and end of it : “ These things which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life, declare we unto you, that ye may have fellowship with us ;” with us, the true apostles of Christ, and not go out from us ; as he complains of some that did in this epistle : “ They went out from us, but they were not of us :” (ii. 19 :) and then tells them what their fellowship was : “ Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” So that he proposeth fellowship with God and with Jesus Christ as the great scope and end of the gospel ; and he mentioneth Christ as well as God, because all our fellowship with God is by Jesus Christ. So that the apostle doth invite and persuade the believing Jews to fellowship with himself and other apostles in the doctrine and ordinances of the gospel dispensed by them ; or, more generally, the whole catholic church of God, consisting both of believing Jew and Gentile. But all this was in order to their having " fellowship with God and with his Son Jesus Christ.”
4. He shows the way how to have this fellowship with God : Which he setteth down both negatively, and affirmatively.
1. Negatively, in the sixth verse : “ If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth."
2. Affirmatively, in the words of the text : " But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another."
And this the apostle proves by an argument taken from the nature of God in the fifth verse : “God is Light, and in him is no darkness at all ;” and therefore they that would have fellowship with him who is Light, must walk in the Light; for “what communion hath Light with darkness ?” But by “ Light” is not meant any visible, material light, either natural or artificial ; but a Light that is divine, spiritual, and intellectual. For though God expresseth himself to us by things natural, when he is called Light, or Life, &c., yet he is ens transcendens, “a transcendent being ;” and it is a true rule, " Nothing can be predicated univocally of God and the creature.” And he doth not say only of God that “he is in the Light,” as verse the seventh ; or that he “dwelleth in the Light,” as the apostle Paul elsewhere expresseth it ; but, “He is Light ;” Light essentially, originally, eternally ; Light itself; and in him," he saith, “there is no darkness at all.” He is a pure, simple, immixed, and perfect light ; as we say of that which is perfect, “It is plenum sui," "full of itself," without
mixture of the contrary. QUESTION. “Why is God called Light without darkness?' And what is this Light ?”
So that when he saith that “God is Light,” he means that God is wisdom, without mixture of folly; knowledge, without ignorance or nescience; truth, without any error, or any false conceptions in his eternal mind; and holiness, without the least mixture of sin : so that the way to “have fellowship with God,” is to “walk in the light," that is to say, to walk in wisdom, and not as fools ; to walk according to knowledge, and not in ignorance ; to walk in the truth, and not in error ; to walk in the way of holiness, and not of sin and wickedness.
Now light in men is either natural or supernatural.
1. Natural : Which is either “the light of the body," which “is the eye ; ” (Matt. vi. 22 ;) or the light of the soul, which is the light of reason and natural conscience: this we are to walk in, according to the utmost sphere and extent thereof.
2. But supernatural light : That shines from supernatural revelation in the scriptures; and the enlightening Spirit of God in the souls of men, is the light here meant in the text, and which Christians should walk in.
Now this is the way to have fellowship and communion with God, as the text saith, “ If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.” Now by
one with another,” Met' ananaw, some say, the apostle means the saints to whom he writes : “ We and ye shall have fellowship together, we apostles and ye believers." And the Vulgar Latin carries it that way, and renders it ad invicem. But we must rather understand that the apostle here speaks of the fellowship that God hath with his people, and they with him. And so Beza understands it : Mutuam habemus cum
eo communionem.* An ancient Greek manuscript hath in the text μετ' αυτου, “ with him ;” that is, “God and we shall have fellowship with one another.” And the rather we are to understand it in this sense ; for the apostle is not speaking here of the communion which the saints have with one another, but of our communion and fellowship with God, as in the sixth verse, “ If we say we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.”, And then he adds : “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.”
I shall now proceed to speak to the subject itself, and herein shall discourse of these four generals :
I. What this communion with God is.
IV. Deduce some consequences that follow from my whole discourse concerning it ; and then conclude with some practical application.
I. What this communion with God is.—The word in the Greek, κοινωνια, is from κοινος, which signifies common;" and so it imports something that is common and mutual betwixt God and us, as communion among men imports something mutual on each side ; so that our communion with God is either active or passive : active in what passeth from us to God, and passive in what is communicated from him to us.
1. Active on our part : Which consisteth in the divine operations of our souls toward God, when the faculties of the soul are tending toward him, and terminated upon him ; when the mind is exercised in the contemplation of him, the will in choosing and embracing him ; when the affections are fixed upon him, and centre in him ; when by our desires we pursue after him, by our love we cleave to him, and by delight we acquiesce and solace ourselves in him.
2. Passive on God's part : And so our communion with God consists in our participation of him, and in his communicating himself to us; and this communication of God to us in our communion with him is specially in these three things, Light, Life, and Love.
(1.) In light. I mean the light of spiritual knowledge and understanding, whereby we are enabled to discern spiritual things spiritually; this is called “God's shining into our hearts,” by the apostle ; (2 Cor. iv. 6;) and “seeing light in God's light,” by the Psalmist. (Psalm xxxvi. 9.)
(2.) In life. Whereby we are made partakers of the life of God, though in a lower degree, and are no longer “ alienated from the life of God,” as the apostle declared the Gentiles to be. (Eph. iv. 18.) And by this “ life of God” we must understand that which the scripture calls“ sanctification ; ” for holiness is the life of God in man. For when God sanctifies a man, he quickens the soul that was dead in sin, and makes it partake of the divine life, or “ the life of God;” and which elsewhere is called “ a partaking of the Divine Nature,” (2 Peter i. 4,) and “a renewing [of] man into the image of God.” (Col. iii. 10.)
(3.) In love. God communicates his love also in the sense and taste of it to the soul, which the apostle calls, “ the shedding abroad the love of God in the heart.” (Rom. v. 5.) So that, in this communion with God, we have not only the theory of his love in our minds, but some taste and experience of it in our hearts; and under this is comprehended all that peace, joy, and consolation that springs out of this to the soul, and arising from the communication of the sense of his love to us. The apostle James expresseth this communion with God in both the parts of it, when he saith, “ Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” (James iv. 8.) And Christ expresseth them both also in these words : “ If a man love me, he