by Ebenezer Erskine
John 8:56.—Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
THE Jews, as you will see in the preceding part of the chapter, valued themselves exceedingly upon this account, that they were the natural seed and posterity of Abraham, the father of the faithful; and they were offended at our Lord, for comparing himself to Abraham, ver. 52, 53, Our Lord, in the words that I have read, proves that he was greater than Abraham: namely, because Abraham having gotten a promise of the Messiah to come of his lineage, he earnestly desired to see that happy day: And accordingly, though he did not see the real incarnation of the Messiah, yet he got a sight of it by faith, to the unspeakable joy and admiration of his soul: Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and saw it, and was glad. In which words we may notice,
1st, Abraham's ambition and desire; he rejoiced to see my day.
2dly, Abraham's sight by faith; he saw the day of the Messiah.
3dly, Abraham's frame, which was the fruit of his faith; he was glad.
1st, I say, we have the height of Abraham's ambition and desire expressed in these words, Abraham rejoiced to see my day. The word agaliastato signifies, he leapt at it. Though the word commonly is put for rejoicing, yet here, it must rather signify a transport of desire, than of joy: Otherwise there would be a tautology in the latter clause of the verse, where it is said again, He saw it, and was glad. The notices he had received of the Messiah to come, had raised in him an expectation of something that was so exceeding great, that he reached out and stretched himself forth to see it. He never leapt so much to see the promised land that God was to give to his posterity, as to see the day of the Son of man.
Observe, That they who discern the dawnings of the Sun of righteousness, cannot but wish to see his rising. The mystery of redemption is that which angels desire to look into; much more should we, that are more immediately concerned in it.
2dly, We have Abraham's sight of faith; he saw it, i. e. he saw the day of the Messiah; he saw it by the spirit of prophecy, he saw it by the eye of faith acting upon that promise, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed:" And he had his faith confirmed by the sight of Melchisedec, one "made like unto the Son of God, the Priest of the most high God and King of peace and of righteousness:" He saw the angel of the covenant, with two other angels, in the plains of Mamre. And in offering Isaac, and the ram in the room of Isaac, he saw a double type of the great sacrifice that was to be offered up in the fulness of time. And his calling the place Jehovah Jireh, "In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen," says, that he saw something more in it, than others did, which time would produce.
3dly, We have Abraham's frame as the fruit of his faith; he was glad. He was glad of the Lord's favour and kindness to himself, and of the mercy, grace, and love which he saw God had in store for all the nations of the earth, in the promised seed. But the words will be further cleared, in taking notice of the following observations from them.
Obs. 1st, That the time of the gospel is the day of Christ, in a way of eminency and excellency.
2dly, That the Old Testament saints breathed and longed much for a sight of the gospel day. and for the actual coming of the great Messiah. Abraham here leapt, as the word signifies, through the strength of desire after it.
3dly, That even the panting desires of the soul after Christ, though he be not enjoyed in a sensible way, are accompanied with a great deal of joy. So Abraham rejoiced to see my day; or his desires after it was that which filled him with a holy joy.
4thly, That the breathing or longing desires of the soul after Christ shall not be disappointed. Abraham, though he did not see the Messiah actually manifested in the flesh, yet he got such a sight of him, and his day, as yielded a great deal of satisfaction and joy.
5thly, That faith is the eye of the soul, whereby it takes up Christ, and the glorious blessings that come along with him, as held out in the revelation of the word. So here Abraham saw the day of Christ, by faith acting upon the promises and types of him, that were presented before his view.
6thly, That faith acting upon the promise, will see Christ through many veils, and at a prodigious distance. Thus we are told, Heb. 11:13, that Abraham, and others, saw the promises of Christ afar off, and they embraced them: Faith is a quick-sighted grace, it takes up things at a vast distance.
7thly, That faith's views and uptakings of Christ fills the soul with joy and gladness. "Whom, having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory," 1 Pet. 1:8.
I shall abstract from all these doctrines, and discourse a little upon the words themselves. And speak a little,
I. Of the day of Christ.
II. Of faith's views and sight of this day.
III. Of the joy and gladness arising from a sight of this day.
IV. Whence it is, that a sight of Christ, and of the day of Christ, brings such joy and gladness.
1. The first thing is to discourse of the day of Christ. And here I will tell you,
1st, of some notable days of the Son of man. 2dly, Give you some qualities of the day of Christ. 3dly, Some notable sights that are to be seen in his day.
1st, I would tell you of some notable days of the Son of man.
1. There is a day of his eternal destination to be your Redeemer. This is a day of more ancient date, than the day of the world's creation; for he was verily fore-ordained before the world was made. "I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, &c. Of this day the Psalmist speaks, Psal. 2. "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. I will declare the decree the Lord hath said unto me." Which decree was fully manifested in his resurrection from the dead, as the apostle Peter shews, Acts 2: all the prophesies, promises, and types of the Old Testament, were nothing else but so many gradual openings of what were concerted in the council of peace from eternity.
2. There was the day of his actual incarnation, or manifestation in the flesh. When the eternal Son of God was made of a woman, made under the law: This was the most surprising day that ever the world had seen; a more remarkable day than that, when the foundations of the world were laid. This was a day of which a host of angels are dispatched from the throne of glory, to proclaim the glad news to the shepherds, Luke 2, "I bring you good tidings of the great joy, which shall be to all people: for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."
3. This day of his solemn inauguration and instalment into his mediatory office. This was a day of great solemnity: then the heavens were opened unto him, and a voice issued out from from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased:" And the Spirit of the Lord descended on him, in the likeness of a dove; never such an ordination of a minister as this of Christ; for that day he was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows.
4. Another notable day of Christ was the day of his oblation or death, when by one offering he for ever perfected them that are sanctified. That day the work of our redemption was perfected in a way of purchase. Hence it was, he cried out, "It is finished, and bowed his head, and gave up the ghost." This day, the little stone cut out of the mountain, which broke in pieces the kings and kingdoms of the earth, was himself broken in pieces, by the heavy hammer of his Father's wrath. Oh! was it not a notable day, when the Father drew his glittering sword from against his only and beloved Son, and bathed it in his blood for our sins; wounded him for our iniquites, and cried, "Awake, O sword, against the man that is my fellow."
5. The day of resurrection was a notable day; for then, and thereby, was fulfilled the sign of the prophet Jonas, which was the consummating evidence of his Messiah-ship, Rom. 1:4. He was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." Was it not a remarkable day, when Christ as our Surety having descended into the grave, he came forth again as our Surety, like Samson, carrying the gates and bars of the prison along with him, crying to his friends, "I am he that liveth, and was dead, and behold I am alive for evermore," &c. "And because I live, ye shall live also." His resurrection is our discharge of the debt, and we are raised up together with him. Christ's resurrection was a greater miracle, than if all the race of Adam had been brought out of the grave in a moment, for he had the heavy stone of the curse of God, and of our sins lying upon him. And who could roll away this "stone from the door of the sepulchre? and yet it is not possible that he should be held therein, He was taken from prison and from judgement."
6. The day of his solemn ascension into heaven, and his sitting "down at the right hand of the majesty on high," Heb. 1:3. There was but little of the solemnity of that day seen by the inhabitants of this world; only the disciples, when upon Mount Olivet, in company with him, they stood gazing up into heaven as he passed out of their sight. But O! it was a day of great solemnity in the eyes of the invisible world of spirits! All the trumpets of heaven sounded, and all the fiery chariots of angels attended him in his passage; "God is gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises unto our King, sing praises," Psal. 47:5, 6, and 68:17. "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them as in Sinai in the holy place.'
7. The day of Pentecost was a remarkable day, when, like a mighty Prince newly come to the throne, he scattered his gifts among his subjects; when, like "the rushing of a mighty wind," the Spirit was poured out from on high, in his miraculous and extraordinary gifts, endowing the apostles and others with the gift of tongues, in order to the propagating and spreading the gospel among all nations of the world; and when some thousands of sinners (several of whom had their hands dipt in the blood of Christ) were converted unto his obedience.
8. The day of his manifestation by the Gospel, especially among the Gentile nations, is a notable day of the Son of man. When the partition wall between Jew and Gentle was broken down Eph. 3:14; the old Testament economy unhinged, and the waters of the sanctuary, which were pent up in the typical temple, began to run down to the valley of Shittim and water the uncultivated nations, that were aliens to the commonwealth of Israel; the preaching of the gospel unto the Gentiles was such a notable day of the Son of man, that it is made a great branch "of the mystery of godliness," 1 Tim. 3 last. This day was fulfilled the old prophecy of Jacob, that to "Shiloh should the gatherings of the people be," and the promise made to Abraham, "In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." And that of Isaiah, chap. 11:10, "There shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign to the people, to it shall the Gentiles seek."
9. The day of his marriage and coronation is a remarkable day of Christ, when the poor sinner, that was in covenant with hell, lying among the pots, under the sentence of death, and the curse of the law, is taken and betrothed unto the Son of God; and he says to it, "Thy Maker is thine Husband, (the Lord of hosts is his name)." That day there is a new crown of glory set upon his head, and a royal diadem put in his hand, "Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart." This day makes little noise in the world, but it makes a great noise in heaven, "for there is joy in heaven at the conversion of one sinner."
10. The day of the renewed visits that he makes to the soul, in the ordinances of his appointment, word, sacraments, prayer, or meditation; when the soul is made to say, "I sat down under his shadow with great delight. He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love," &c.
11. Again, The day of his appearing in the power of his Spirit, in the dispensation of the everlasting gospel, when he goes forth with his bow, and with his sword, conquering and to conquer: pulling down the strong-holds of Satan; destroying the works of the devil, and rearing up his kingdom; reviving and reforming his churches; and sinners flocking in to him, like doves to their windows, and like dew from the womb of the morning.
12. Again, The day of the believer's death is a notable day of Christ, for then it is that he comes with the keys of hell and death in his hand, to usher the poor soul into the house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens; the house of many mansions: according to his promise, "I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also."
Lastly, The Day of his second coming will be a notable day, for then he will come without sin to the salvation of all that believe in him. Of this day Christ speaks, when he says, "Look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh." That day he will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; when the earth will cast forth the dead, and the sea will give up the dead which are in it; and a separation will be made for ever between the sheep and the goats; the wheat and the chaff. Oh, the awful solemnity of that day of Christ! when the heavens, being on fire, "shall be dissolved, the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth, and the works that are therein, shall be burnt up." Thus I have given you some notable days of Christ. I shall not positively determine which of those days Abraham had in his view, when he saw the day of Christ: perhaps all of them together: but especially the day of his incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, and manifestation by the word and spirit, for the salvation of souls.
2dly, I come to give you some of the qualities of the day of Christ.
1. Then, You see in the text, that it is a day of joy and gladness; Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad; and no wonder, for he is the consolation of Israel, and gives the oil of joy for mourning. Whenever the day of Christ breaks on a poor soul, though formerly it had been sitting in the region and shadow of death, it lays aside its sackcloth, and girds itself with gladness: so soon as ever he appears, "the shadows of death are turned into the morning." And it cannot miss to be a day of gladness; for,
2. It is a day of light; and truly light is sweet: the darkness of unbelief, the darkness of ignorance. the darkness of error, the darkness of despondency, evanishes, when the day of Christ breaks, just as the clouds and darkness of the night evanishes at the appearance of the sun. And no wonder, for he is the "Light of the world: the Sun of righteousness: the bright and the morning Star, given for a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel."
3. His day is a day of life from the dead. Death spiritual and eternal, as well as death temporal, had been the heritage of all the race of Adam, if Christ had not come; but when he comes, he brings life to a lost world. When he comes in a day of conversion, the soul is "quickened, which was dead in trespasses and sins." And after the dark night of desertion, when he returns to pay a new visit, by the refreshing influences of his Spirit, it is "like life from the dead: I will be as the dew to Israel:" And what then? "They shall revive as the corn." When he comes in the power of his Spirit, the dead "are made to hear the voice of the Son of God." When he comes at the last day, it will be a day of reviving to the bodies of his saints; for he will cry, "Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead."
4. The day of Christ is a day of vengeance upon sin, Satan, and the world. Our glorious Immanuel, with a view to the day of his appearing in the flesh, and in the power of his word and Spirit, for the ruin of Satan's kingdom, cries, "The day of vengeance is in mine heart:" and accordingly when he comes, he takes vengeance on the old serpent, spoils principalities and powers; and for this end is he manifested, and manifested in the gospel, and manifested savingly to the soul, "to destroy the works of the devil."
5. The day of Christ is a day of jubilee: it is a year of release, Numb. 25:10; Deut. 15:2, wherein he causes open the prison gates, and cries to the prisoners to come forth, and to them that are in darkness, shew yourselves, Is. 49:9. Whenever he comes, and makes day break upon a poor soul, though formerly it was bound that it could not move; yet, whenever he comes, I say, the bonds of sin, ignorance, and unbelief drop off, the lame man is made to leap like an hart, and the tongue of the dumb to sing.
6. It is a day of love, Ezek. 16:8. "When I passed by thee, thy time was the time of love." By his appearing in the flesh, and his manifestation in the gospel; the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man hath indeed appeared in a surprising way. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us," John 4:10. Whenever he draws near to the soul, he causes a kindly glowing and warming of heart toward himself; "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" Luke 24:32. If he but speak a word to a poor soul, or call it by its name, as he did to Mary, immediately the poor soul will fall under the bonds of his love, and be ready to cry, as she did, Rabboni, my Master; or with Thomas, My Lord, and my God.
7. The day of Christ is a day of peace, it is prophesied, that, "in his day, the very mountains should bring peace to the people," Psal. 72:3. That "men should beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks," Is. 2:4. His name is the Prince of peace: and peace on earth, and good-will towards men, was proclaimed by the angels, whenever he set his foot in this lower world; and whenever he comes and visits a poor soul, he brings in peace with him, and a "peace that passeth all understanding." It is peace like a river: It is righteousness like the waves of the sea. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end."
8. It is a day of salvation: He is given for salvation to all the ends of the earth. When he comes into the world he proclaims, "I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save." The day of his death was the day of purchased salvation. The day of the gospel is the day of proclaimed salvation. This is the day of salvation, this the accepted time: "To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." The day of conversion is the day of applied salvation; Luke 19:9, "This day is salvation come to this house." And the day of death, and of his second coming is the day of completed and perfected salvation.
9. The day of Christ is an everlasting day, a durable day, in which the sun shall never go down. Indeed, in the day of Christ the sun may be eclipsed, but it shall never set with respect to a poor soul, whom he has visited with distinguishing love. No, the day of grace is but the beginning of the day of glory. "The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory." So much for the qualities of the day of Christ.
3dly, I would tell you of some wonderful and surprising sights that are to be seen, and some great works that are done in the day of Christ.
You have a cluster of the great works that are done in the day of Christ, Dan. 9 from verse 24th to the end of the chapter.
1. A stop is put to the mighty torrent of sin, that had been overflowing the face of the world, like a mighty deluge. We are told, verse 24th, that the Messiah shall finish transgression. The word in the margin is, He shall restrain transgression. Ignorance, atheism, infidelity, and all manner of wickedness, had overflown Jews and Gentiles; as the apostle shews, Rom. 1; 2, and 3. Now, by the coming of Christ a stop was put unto this flood of sin: for, by the preaching of Christ crucified, the Jewish errors and superstitions, and the idolatries and abominations of the Gentile world, are overthrown; and the kingdom of Satan falls down before him, through the nations of the earth, Psal. 114:3, 7, "The sea fled, Jordan was driven back; at the presence of the Lord; at the presence of the God of Jacob.
2. In the day of the Messiah, transgression is ended, verse 24; or, as it reads in the margin, it is sealed up, hid, or covered, out of the sight of God. By sin there is a separation between God and us. Well, Christ comes to make an end of it: To take it out of the way, that so there might be a meeting betwixt God and us again: and he seals it up: He covers it with his blood, so as, though it be sought for, yet it shall never be found: and O, is not this a great work done in the day of Christ.
3. In the day of Christ, verse 24, there is reconciliation made for iniquity; "For God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them," 2 Cor. 5:19; Rom. 5:10, "When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son." No sooner had man sinned, but red war commenced between God and man, Psal. 7:2, God is angry with the wicked, and their hearts are enmity against God, And the war had lasted through eternity, if Christ had not come and "made peace by the blood of his cross."
4. In the day of Christ, everlasting righteousness is brought in, verse 24. By the sin of Adam, and the breach of the first covenant, righteousness before God was gone quite out of the world There was indeed something, and that very little, of a moral righteousness to be found in or among some of the heathens; but, as one says, all their shining virtues were but splendid sins. There was nothing of a law righteousness to be found among all the race of mankind; nothing that could answer the law in its spirituality: hence say the psalmist, and the apostle, "there is none righteous, no, not one." But now, Christ brings in an everlasting righteousness into the world by his obedience unto the death. He "magnifies the law, and makes it honourable; and the Lord is well pleased for his righteousness' sake," Rom. 8:3, 4.
5. In the day of Christ the vision and the prophecy is sealed up: That is, the canon of the scripture is completed; with an awful advertisment to the world, to take care, that none add to, or diminish and take from, the words of the book; under the pain of the wrath of God, Rev. 22:18, 19. There you see with what an awful solemmnity the vision and prophecy is sealed: Read, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
6. In the day of the Messiah the most holy is anointed; that is Christ himself, who is the holy One of God, Acts 4:27. "The holy One of Israel is anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows." And Christ may be called the most holy, with allusion unto the place in the temple of Jerusalem, called the "Holy of Holies;" wherein was the Shechina, the visible appearance of the divine presence, from between the cherubims, Exod. 25:22. He is our New Testament Holy of the Holies, into which, as kings and priests unto God, we are allowed to enter, and participate of his anointing; I mean, of the Spirit of Christ.
7. In his days the covenant is confirmed with many, verse 25. By his death and blood the covenant of grace and all the promises of it are so ratified and confirmed, that we, without fear of vicious intromission, may intermeddle with the blessings thereof, as goods disponed by a testamentary deed, Heb. 9:16, 17, "Where a testament is, there must also, of necessity, be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead; otherwise it is of no strength at all whilst the testator liveth."
8. He has made the sacrifice and oblation to cease, verse 27, that is he has put an end to these typical sacrifices that were of divine appointment, during the standing of the Old Testament economy, the sacrifice of his own death having come in the room of all these.
Besides these mentioned by Daniel, I will tell you of some other great and wonderful things, that are done in the days of the great Messiah: And O, let all the world wonder at them!
1. In his day the glory of heaven is brought down to earth! And O, what a wonder is here! Christ is the brightness of the Father's glory: and to be sure the brightness of the Father's glory must be the brightest and most glorious thing in heaven: yet this is brought down to the earth, and seen by men upon earth, John 1:14, "The word was made flesh, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father!" Sirs, whatever you think of this; yet I can tell you, that this is the admiration of angels; see how they fall a wondering at it, Is. 6:3. The seraphim, while they are beholding the glory of God, in the face or person of Christ, they are so stricken with wonder, that they cry, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!" And observe what is added in the close of the verse, "The whole earth is full of his glory!" The seraphim do not say, The whole heavens are full of his glory; for that is no wonder to them, "seeing there can in no wise enter into heaven any thing that defileth:" But that the whole earth should be filled with the glory of an incarnate Deity; that he should come down from heaven, and manifest his glory to a lost world, full of sin and misery, through a veil of flesh, is what the inhabitants of heaven are stricken with wonder at. O Sirs! "The tabernacle of God is with men!" In the days of the Messiah, the glory of heaven is brought down to earth; and is not this a great thing done, in the Messiah's days?
2. In the days of Christ, "the temple of God is opened, and the ark of his testament is to be seen," Rev. 11 last verse. O Sirs! We who live in the days of Christ, have a far better and more glorious temple than ever the church of Israel had, even when their material temple was in its greatest splendour: Christ is the temple! and Oh, God is in his holy temple; yea, the fulness of the Godhead dwells in him bodily! And the temple is opened in the dispensation of the everlasting gospel; and we have free access into this temple; every bar and impediment that stood in our way of communion with God, is now removed; and we have "boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh,' Heb. 10:19, 20. And here is to be seen the ark of his testament; the ark was a chest, wherein the two tables of the law were kept, written upon stone. Well, Christ is the true Ark, in whom the law is kept, and kept for ever. The honour, beauty, and glory of it is maintained and preserved by Christ; for he has made it honourable, and magnified it by his obedience unto the death. Oh, is not this a great thing done in the days of the Messiah!
3. In his day paradise is opened; and the new Jerusalem is brought down from God out of heaven, Rev. 20:10. We lost an earthly paradise by the sin of the first Adam, but we regain a heavenly paradise by the righteousness of the second Adam. Yea, the new Jerusalem is sent down; all the glory of heaven and of a happy eternity are wrapt up in a word of grace; in a covenant of grace, and brought down to us, that we by faith may possess them.
4. A bridge is laid over the infinite gulf of natural and moral distance, between God and man, and the gulf of divine wrath, that cut off our communication with heaven! And by this bridge, a free passage and communication is opened, between God and man; by the bridge of the human nature united to the divine, offered in a sacrifice to justice, we may pass and repass, or "go in and out, and find pasture. The just suffered for the unjust that he might bring us to God." He is the way to the Father, and there is no coming to the Father but by Christ. This is the ladder that Jacob saw, passing between heaven and earth, and the angels ascending and descending upon it. It is upon the footing of the mediation of the Son of God that the "angels are ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who are the heirs of salvation."
5. In the day of the great Messiah, a throne of grace is reared, and proclamations issued out to all the ends of the earth, to come unto it with boldness, for "mercy and grace to help in time of need," Heb. 4:16; Is. 55:1, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come, buy and eat, yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price." O Sirs, is it not a happiness to live in such halcyon days, that whatever we need, we have it for the asking? For now, since the tribunal of justice is sprinkled by the blood of the Lamb, and turned to a mercy-seat, it is nothing but ask and have, with the King that sits on the throne: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For this is the confidence that we have towards him, that if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us." So forward and liberal is he, that he even prevents us with his mercy, before we ask it of him: "Before they call, I will answer; and whiles they are yet speaking, I will hear." And again, "Hitherto have ye asked nothing; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full."
6. In the days of the Messiah the true manna is rained upon the children of Israel, in the wilderness of this world. It was a real and continued miracle that God wrought for Israel, in the wilderness, when, instead of feeding them with the product of the earth, he made the heavens to rain down bread among them, about their tent doors, till they came to the promised land. But, O Sirs, this was but a faint shadow of the miraculous way that God takes of feeding our souls, while travelling through the wilderness of this world, unto the promised rest that is above: "My Father (says Christ) giveth you the true bread from heaven." And what is that true bread? It is the flesh and blood of his eternal Son: "This is meat indeed, and drink indeed: and except we eat the flesh, and drink the blood of the Son of man, we have no life in us." This true manna is rained down upon us, in the dispensation of the everlasting gospel. The preaching of an incarnate and crucified Redeemer, brings Christ and his salvation as near to us as ever the manna was brought to Israel, when it fell about their tent doors: yea, we have it in our hands; we have it in our mouths; we have it in our hearts; in the word of faith which we preach.
7. In this day the mystical brazen Serpent is lifted up upon the pole of the everlasting gospel, that poor sinners, who are dying of the sting and poison of the old serpent, may be healed by looking unto it. John 3:14, 15, "As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have eternal life."
8. In the day of the Messiah, the wells of salvation are opened. "Waters break up in the wilderness, and streams in the desert." It was prophesied, Is. 12:3 (of the day of Christ), "With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation:" And I would fain hope that, even in this place, and upon this occasion, that promise has been fulfilled to not a few. The Rock has followed them, and been like rivers of waters in a dry place to their souls; passing through the valley of Baca, they found it a well, the rain also came down and filled the pools of ordinances; according to that promise, Psal. 72:6, "He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass, as showers that water the earth."
9. In his day, beggars are taken from the dunghill and set among princes. This is what is foretold by the prophet David, upon the humiliation of the most high God, Psal. 113:7, 8, "He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill, that he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people." O what a surprising scene is it, when Christ the Prince of the kings of the earth comes, in a day of power, and takes the poor soul, lying in the dunghill of a natural state, wrapt up in sin and misery, decks it with his own beauty, makes it like "the king's daughter, all glorious within," and verifies that word upon it. Psal. 45:9. "Upon thy right hand did stand the queen in gold of Ophir?" The poor soul even blushes to think of its preferment, of what it is come to, when it looks "unto the Rock whence it was hewn."
10. In the day of the Messiah "the barren woman is made to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children," Psal. 113:9. The poor Gentile world was a poor barren woman during the Old Testament dispensation; but Oh! now, in the day of the Messiah, she keeps house; or, as it is in the Hebrew, 'she dwells in a house;' she is brought in under the roof of the house of mercy, which shall be built up for ever. And she is made a joyful mother of children: hence is that call given to the Church of God among the Gentiles, under the New Testament, Is. 54:1, "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear, break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child; for more are the children of the desolate, than the children of the married wife, saith the Lord:" The converts unto the Christian faith under the New Testament, among the Gentile nations, are far more numerous than the converts that were made to him among the Jews, under the Old Testament, Rev. 7:4–9, there is there mention made only of twelve thousand out of every tribe; but among the rest of the nations and languages of the world, there is an innumerable company which no man can number, clothed with the white robes of the imputed and implanted righteousness of Christ, crying, "Salvation to our God that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever."
11. In the day of the Messiah, not only is the head of the old serpent bruised, but death, the king of terrors, is vanquished, and his destroying or stinging power is removed! The death of Christ was the death of death; his burial and resurrection was the destruction of the grave, Hos. 13:14, "I will ransom them from the power of the grave." Our glorious Redeemer having spoiled death and the grave, he proclaims the victory, saying, "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of hell and of death," Rev. 1:17.
Thus much for the first thing, namely, the day of Christ.
II. The second thing in the method was, to speak a little of faith's view, or sight of the day of Christ.—For clearing of this I would have you to know,
1st, That it could not be a sensible corporeal sight of the day of Christ that Abraham had, like that of Simeon, when he "took him up in his arms and blessed God, saying, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation." For in Abraham's time Christ was not yet come in the flesh, nor dead: He came not for many hundreds of years after Abraham's days. And therefore,
2dly, It must needs be a sight of his day by faith, which "is the evidence of things not seen, and the substance of things hoped for." Faith is frequently expressed in scripture, under the notion of seeing, or believing in Christ, John 6:40. "He that seeth the Son, and believeth on him, hath everlasting life." Is. 45:22, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth;" and in many other places. What the eye of the body is unto the visible frame of nature, that is faith unto the new world of a gospel revelation; for as it is by the natural eye that we behold the heavens and the earth, sun, moon, and stars, and all other material objects, and the glory of God in them; so it is by faith that we take up the new heavens and the new earth, of which Christ is the glorious Sun of righteousness; hence is that of the apostle, 2 Cor. 3:18, "All we beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image."
Now Abraham's sight of Christ, and of the day of Christ, I conceive it carries these things following in it.
1. It plainly supposes, that Abraham had a revelation of Christ, and of what was to be done in his day, revealed to him in the promise, Gen. 22:18, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed:" He had it revealed to him in his type Melchisedec; and in that remarkable trial of his faith, in offering up his son, Isaac. Sirs, without a revelation of Christ, faith could never take him up. The revelation of Christ is to the eye of faith just what the light of the sun is to the eye of the body; take away the light, a man cannot see any thing that is about him; so take away the revelation of the word, we can never see Christ, or the things of Christ. Hence the word is called "a light shining in a dark place"—until the day dawn. So then, Abraham, seeing the day of Christ, supposes he had a revelation of Christ. But, O Sirs, there is a vast difference between the revelation that Abraham had of Christ, and that which we now enjoy under the New Testament! There is as great an odds as there is between break of day and the sun shining in his meridian height and light. But what a shame is it to us, that there should be such a difference between his faith and our faith! Though the discovery he had of Christ was so faint in respect of ours, yet we are told, "That he staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief;" whereas we are staggering almost at every step.
2. Abraham's seeing of the day of Christ, implies an act of the understanding, or a knowledge and uptaking of Christ, suited unto the revelation of him. His seeing of the day of Christ, says, that the light of the revelation had not staid without him, but it had entered into his heart; according to that, 2 Cor. 4:6, "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts." God, by his Spirit, takes the things of Christ, and he shews them unto us. "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven."
3. Abraham's seeing of the day of Christ, it has in it an act of delectation, He saw my day, and was glad. He was delighted at the sight of the day of Christ, Zech. 9:9. "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion, shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and having salvation!" &c. Oh, with what triumphant delight the spouse expresses her sight of him! Cant. 2:8. "It is the voice of my beloved: behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills."
4. An act of application and improvement. To be sure when Abraham got that promise of the Messiah, to come of his loins, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed," he would be ready to say as Jeremiah did, chap. 15:16. "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and the rejoicing of mine heart." He would no doubt bring it home with particular application to his own soul, saying, surely in this blessed seed have I righteousness and strength, in him will I be justified, and in him alone will I glory, "This is my beloved; aud this is my friend."
5. I think it may have in it also, an act of wonder and admiration: He saw the day of Christ, and was surprised with the sight, saying with the apostle, "without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh." Thus you see what is implied in that sight that Abraham had of the day of Christ; but especially I think it points at the two principal acts of faith, viz. knowledge and application.
Quest. What are the grounds of the metaphor? or why is faith represented in scripture under the notion of the bodily sight?—I shall endeavour to clear this in the few following particulars.
1. The eye, you know, is a passive recipient kind of an organ: My meaning is this, the eye does not send out a light from itself, nor doth it give and communicate any thing unto the object that it beholds: What do you give or add to the sun, moon, or stars, when you behold them? Your eyes only receive the print or image of them into your mind, without adding any thing unto them.
Just so is it with faith, it does not give or communicate any thing unto God, or Christ, or to what it beholds in the world of grace, but it just takes them up, or takes them in, as they are presented to the soul's view in the light of the revelation. What did the Israelites give unto the brazen serpent when they looked unto it and were healed? As little do we give or add unto Christ, when we look unto him and are saved.
2. The eye of the body is a very assuring sense. What are we more sure of, than of what we see with our eyes? If a man see the light of the sun, all the world will not persuade him but that it is day, or that the sun is up.
So faith is a grace that carries a great deal of certainty in the very nature and bosom of it. Heb. 11:1, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen." And ver. 13, it is said of the worthies, that they saw "the promises afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them."
3. The eye is a directing organ. The man that has the light of the day, and his eyes open, he will know his way, and is not so ready to stumble and fall into ditches and precipices as a blind man, or one that walks in darkness.
So faith is a directing grace, when by faith we "look unto Jesus, then we run the race that is set before us." We are said "to walk by faith and not by sight."
4. The eye, though it be little, is a very capacious organ. The man that has the light of day, and his eyes open, will see every thing visible; it takes up the whole visible frame of nature.
So faith is a most capacious grace, extending itself to every thing that lies within the vast circuit of the revelation. I own indeed there may be a true faith which takes up but little of the light of revelation at first. Like the eye of an infant, it really takes in the light, and perceives external objects, but with a great deal of weakness and confusion, until it come gradually to more strength; and then it widens and extends itself further and further. Just so is it with the eye of faith: At first the light of knowledge, it is but dim; the man, like an infant, does not see far; but "the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day," Prov. 4:18. As the light and strength of faith grows, it widens itself to take in more of God; more of Christ; more of things that are above, where Christ is. It wades deeper and deeper into the mysteries of the kingdom, until it come to be at last swallowed up in immediate vision.
5. The eye is an impressing organ; what we see with our eyes, leaves an impression upon our minds. If a man look upon the sun for a little, he will find the impression of the sun in his eye, even though he shut it, or though he turn his eye away from it.
Even so faith leaves an impression of the glory of the Sun of righteousness, 2 Cor. 3:18, "All we, beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image."
6. The eye is a very quick sort of an organ, taking up things at a great distance: it will run from the one end of the heavens to the other, in a very trice*, it will mount up to the heavens among the stars, and in a moment will view the whole circuit of the heavens.
So faith is such a quick-sighted grace, it takes up things at a great distance, as the faith of Abraham did here, when he saw the day of Christ afar off. It will in a moment, as it were, look back to an eternity past, and view the everlasting springs of electing and redeeming love, before ever the foundations of the world were laid; and then, at the same breath, turn itself towards an eternity to come, and take a view of the hidden glories of an invisible world that are within the veil.
7. The eye is a curious piece of work. Naturalists tell us, it is the most curious part of the whole body of man: There is much of the glory, wisdom, and power of the great Creator, to be seen in the formation of the eye of the body.
So faith is a grace that is curiously wrought in the soul. There is more of the power and wisdom of God discovered in the formation of the grace of faith, than in any other part of the new creature. Hence it is he takes one of his blessed names from it, and styles himself "The Author and the Finisher of faith." And as "he fulfils in us all the good pleasure of his goodness," so in a particular manner the "work of faith with power," 2 Thess. 1:11. Yea that same "exceeding great and mighty power of God," which was put forth in the resurrection of Christ from the dead, is said to be exerted in them that believe, Eph. 1:19.
8. The eye of the body is a very tender thing; it is soon hurt and prejudiced. A very little waff of any thing will do it hurt, and if it be hurt it will soon weep. And this is the way how it comes to health; it weeps out any dust or mote that gets into it.
Just so is it here, faith is a very tender kind of a grace, it thrives best in a pure conscience. Hence the apostle speaks of "keeping the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience." The living actings of faith are marred by the dust of sin, or the vanities of the world getting into the mind where it is seated. And wherever true faith is, if it be hurt by sin, it vents itself in a way of godly sorrow and repentence, Zech. 12:10, "They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn:" And as long as there is any thing of the dust of sin cleaves to the soul, faith will aye be venting itself in a way of repentence, and mourning, saying, "Wretched man that I am, who will deliver me from this body of death?" Thus I have given you some account of Abraham's faith, whereby he saw the day of Christ.
III. The third thing in the method was, to speak a little of his joy, which was the fruit of his faith. He saw his day, and was glad. For clearing of this I offer the few following propositions.
1. There are several sorts of joy men are incident unto.
1st, A natural joy common to all, with the rest of the affections, and is in itself neither good nor bad, and is commonly raised by the actual enjoyment of something loved or desired.
2dly, There is a sensual joy; when the heart is, as it were, soaked and drenched with the delights and pleasures of a present life. Such a joy was that of the rich man, Luke 12:16–20, who cried, "Soul take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry, for thou hast goods laid up for many years." See James 5:5.
3dly, There is yet a more criminal, or rather I may call it a devilish joy: When men are so far abandoned of God, as to take pleasure in sin, that abominable thing which God hates; like those who are said to "drink iniquity as the ox that drinketh up the water. To draw iniquity with cords." Rom. 1:32, there we are told of some who not only commit sins, but "have pleasure in them that do them."
4thly, There is a spiritual joy and gladness; so called, because the Spirit of God is the author of it, and spiritual things the object thereof. "Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for all that are upright in heart." And it is of this last kind of joy that I now speak.
Prop. 2. This spiritual joy is a thing proper and peculiar only to believers in Christ: It will not, it cannot grow in any other soil but a believing heart. The rest of the world are strangers to it, and strangers do not intermeddle with their joy. Indeed a believer may want the exercise of this holy joy; his harp may (through prevailing troubles, temptation, unbelief, and despondency) "be turned into mourning, and his organ into the voice of them that weep." Hence David cries out, "Restore unto me the joys of thy salvation, that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice." But though a believer may want the exercise of this holy joy, yet,
1st, He has always ground of rejoicing; while Christ lives, while the covenant stands, while the love of God lasts, he can never want ground and matter of rejoicing. Hence,
2dly, He hath always God's call and warrant to rejoice: "Rejoice evermore. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again, I say, rejoice. Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous, and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart."
3dly, He hath always the promise of joy: "Your hearts shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." The redeemed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: They shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away." He has promised the oil of joy for mourning.
4thly, They have always the seed of joy in the soul. The seed of God is the seed of joy; yea, their very tears of godly sorrow are the seed of joy: "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him," Psal. 126:5, 6.
Prop. 3. This spiritual joy and gladness it hath several ingredients of which it is made up: As,
1st, It includes in it some measure of spiritual health and soundness of mind and spirit. A sick man may have the habit of joy, but the want of health will restrain the exercise of it. Where this joy is, the sun of righteousness has arisen, with some measure of healing under his wings, upon the soul; the broken bones are restored, and set in their joints again.
2dly, It includes some measure of satisfaction, arising from a supply of soul wants. Where there is nothing but want and need, there can be but little of this holy joy. Prov. 13:12. "Hope deferred maketh the heart sick." If thy soul be rejoicing in the Lord, it is a sign thou hast got a taste of the marrow and fatness that is to be found in the house of God.
3dly, It has in it a dilatation and enlargement of the heart, that was under bonds and fetters. A man under the bonds and fetters of darkness, unbelief, and despondency, his joy is marred. But O, when his fetters are knocked off, and he brought out of prison, he leaps like an hart. "I will run the way of thy commandments, because thou hast enlarged my heart."
4thly, It has in it something of an internal peace, quiet, and serenity of mind: For where there is no peace, there can be no true joy. The storms of an awakened conscience must be hushed into a pleasant calm where this joy is, through the discovery of a reconciled God, or some beams of his favour; and then the soul cries, as in Psal. 116:7. "Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee."
5thly, It has in it an elevation of the heart and soul after the Lord Jesus, and things that are above; whereby the soul gets above this weary land, and all the storms, clouds, and tempests thereof. The man mounts up as upon eagles' wings; and ay the higher he ascends, like the lark, he sings the sweeter notes of praise and thanksgiving.
Prop, 4. Of all other joy, this joy of faith is the most glorious and excellent: Which will appear from the following qualities of it.
1st, It is a cordial joy: It pervades the heart and all the corners of the soul; "Your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you. My heart is glad." The joy of the wicked is but skin-deep, it is superficial: "In the midst of laughter the heart is sorry:" But the joy of faith is like the "best new wine, that goeth down sweetly, causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak." Song. 7:9.
2ndly, It is a hidden and a secret joy. Many a blithe heart has the believer in secret, which the world knows nothing of. His life is a hidden life, hid with Christ in God; and his joy is like his life. The springs of this joy are hidden, it flows out of a secret fountain, even from the throne of God and of the Lamb: The channel of it is hid, even the covenant of grace and promise: The actings of it are hid, and the subject in which it resides.
3dly, It is a strengthening joy. Neh. 8:10. "The joy of the Lord is your strength;" and no wonder, for faith brings in strong consolation, Heb. 6:18. This spiritual joy is health to the navel, and marrow to the bones. What appeared insupportable before, now appears to be easy; duties and difficulties in the way are easily vanquished; when the joy of faith comes, the feeble then becomes as David, Zech. 12:8 and the poor soul becomes like a giant, refreshed with new wine, hearty and strong for battle.
4thly, It is a glorious and unspeakable joy. 1 Pet. 1:8. "Whom having not seen, ye love, in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing ye rejoice, with joy unspeakable and full of glory," There is only a gradual difference between it and the joy of heaven; and it is so great, that the tongue cannot make language of it, as Paul said of the language of the third heaven, it is unutterable.
5thly, It is a permanent and abiding joy; a joy which the world cannot give, and which the world cannot take away; no, not the severest tortures and persecutions of the world. Hence it is, that the saints have gone to stake, fire and gibbet, with an air of heavenly grace about them. "Your joy no man taketh from you," says Christ. It is but the dawnings of that eternal joy and triumph which the saints shall have above, through an endless eternity.
6thly, It is a matchless, and transcendent, and incomprehensible joy. There are several joys that we read of in scripture, but the joy of faith transcends them all.
1. There is the nuptial joy. The day of marriage is called a day of gladness.
2. There is a joy of children: There is a joy when a man child is born into the world. It was, and is still a valuable mercy, because children are an heritage of the Lord.
3. There is a joy of conquest and victory: "They shall rejoice as men when they divide the spoil," Is. 9:3.
4. There is a joy of harvest: "They joy before thee according to the joy in harvest." But now, I say, the joy of faith surpasseth them all, for it is unspeakable, and full of glory. "Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and wine increased." This much for the third thing in the method.
IV. The fourth thing was, to enquire whence it is that a sight of Christ, and of his day, by faith, fills the soul with joy and gladness.
Ans. 1st, This flows from the excellency that faith sees in the day of Christ: "this is a day which the Lord hath made, we will be glad, and rejoice in it." It is a day of light, of life, of salvation, &c. as you heard in the doctrine part.
2dly, Because of the many great and excellent things it sees to be done in his day, which are all matter of joy and gladness. In his day the glory of heaven is brought down to earth; the New Testament temple is reared and opened, &c. (for which see the first head.)
3dly, Faith, it applies Christ, and all the great blessings of his day: It sits down under his shadow and tastes the sweets of his fruits; and hence it is that it fills the soul with joy and gladness. Whatever great things we see or hear tell of, we will not be much moved therewith, except we have an interest and concern therein. Now faith it interests the soul in Christ, and all the blessings of his kingdom and administration, and hence it is that it brings such gladness; the language of faith is, "This is our God, we have waited for him," &c.
4thly, Faith is the parent of hope, and is the substance of things hoped for, and so it fills with joy. "We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God."
V. The fifth thing is the use of the doctrine.
Use first, It serves for Information, in these few following particulars.
1st, From what is said, we may see from whence it was that the Old Testament saints longed so much for the coming of Christ, and the days of the New Testament. O, says the spouse, "Until the day break, and the shadows fly away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether." All that they had in the type, promise or prophecy, were but shadows and expressions of what was to come.
2dly, See hence what a privilege and happiness we are possessed of, whose lot is cast in the day of Christ, the gospel-day which Abraham and other saints rejoiced to see at such a great distance. Christ says to his disciples, while here upon earth, "Blessed are your eyes and ears, for they see and hear those things, which many prophets and righteous men desired to see and hear, and did not see nor hear them."—But yet we, who live in the day of the gospel, see and hear more than the disciples did themselves. They saw the Messiah only in a state of humiliation at that time, like a prince in disguise; but now we see him upon the throne, vested with all power in heaven and in earth. Upon this account, Christ says, that the least in the kingdom of heaven, viz., in the kingdom of the New Testament church, is greater than John the Baptist, who was greater than any that had been born of a woman since the fall of Adam, because he was put in case to say, "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world."
3dly, See hence the misery of unbelieving sinners under the New Testament dispensation. Why, the day is broken, and yet they never saw daylight, "The light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehendeth it not." There is an awful word that points at you, 2 Cor. 4:3, 4. "If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine into them:" And that word of Christ, John 9:39. "For judgment I am come into this world; that they who see not might see, and they who see might be made blind."
4thly, See hence whence it is that there is such opposition by hell and its agents at this day, to the settlement of an honest ministry in vacant congregations. Why, they see plainly that, if an honest ministry got into a congregation, the day of Christ would break there, and that would break Satan's kingdom, and his works of darkness in which the ungodly world do delight; and in them is literally fulfilled that word of Christ, John 3:20., "Every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." They know very well that a faithful minister would lift up his voice like a trumpet, and reprove their deeds; and therefore it is that they cannot endure a man that has any thing of the savour of God or religion about him: a hue and cry will presently be raised against him, as a dangerous and turbulent person, one that will make a rent in the church, or turn the world upside down.
5thly, See hence whence it is that believers are called the "children of the light, and of the day:" Why, because they not only live in the day of Christ, but the day-spring has visited them in a saving way; the day has dawned, and the day star has arisen in their hearts, "even the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ." And this is the reason why there is a divine light shines in the way and walk of the believer, which is not to be seen about other folk, Their light so shines before men, that they, seeing their good works, glorify their Father which is in heaven.
Use second may be of Trial.
Sirs, since it is your privilege to live under the day of Christ, I ask you, Has the light of the day ever dawned savingly? If so, then,
1st, The light of it has darkened the light of this world, and all the transient vanities of it, discovering them to be vanity and vexation of spirit; and you will look "not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen."
2dly, The light of it has discovered the abominable nature of sin, so that you will abhor it, and abhor and loathe yourselves because of it, saying, "Behold I am vile." The light of the day of Christ is of a humbling quality, Is. 6 &c.
3dly, If the light of the day of Christ has arisen on you in a saving way your eyes will be turned towards the sun that makes day, I mean Christ, the glorious Sun of righteousness; and you will be so much taken up with him that you will account all things but loss, &c.
4thy, The light of the day of Christ has warmed thy soul with love to the Lord; love to his ordinances, a day in his courts will be better than a thousand; love to his people, they are my delight, the excellent ones of the earth.
Use third shall be of Exhortation.
Sirs, has your lot fallen in the day of Christ, which Abraham saw by faith, and was glad? Then,
1st, Receive the light of the day; entertain the light of the Sun of righteousness. O behold that glorious Sun, that is shining upon you in the dispensation of the gospel! You are as much warranted to make use of the light of the Sun of righteousness, to direct you to glory, as you are warranted to make use of the natural sun, to direct you in your way home to your several abodes. What freer than the light? The beggar has as good a right to use it as the prince upon the throne. So the daylight of the Sun of righteousness, and the blessings of his day, are as free to you as to any man; and, therefore, O do not shut out the light, but entertain and receive it. John 8:12. "I am the light of the world (says Christ); he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."
2dly, Is this the day of Christ? O then, work while it is day, work out the work of your salvation while the day lasteth, for the night hasteth on, wherein no man can work. And if you ask, What is the work of God? I give you the same answer that Christ gave, and I cannot give you a better, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." The everlasting gospel is preached to all nations, for the obedience of faith. O, for the Lord's sake, believe on the name of the Son of God, for this is his great commandment: this is the foundation of all obedience, and without it you cannot obey one commandment of the law, for "whatever is not of faith is sin."
3dly, Is this the day of Christ? O then, let us be glad, and rejoice therein. This was the practice of Abraham, the father of the faithful, and this will be the practice of all the genuine true-born children of Abraham. Psal. 118:24. "This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it. O let us rejoice in his person, for he is the glory of mankind, as well as the brightness of his Father's glory. Let us rejoice in him, saying, "To us a Son is given," &c. Let us rejoice in his fulness, suitableness, and excellency, "for such an High Priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled separate from sinners, &c., who is made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption." Let us rejoice in the great things that we see actually done in his day, that he has finished transgression, made an end of sin. Let us rejoice to see the glory of heaven brought down to earth, the "Word made flesh, and tabernacling among us." O rejoice and wonder, that the tabernacle of God is with man, that the temple of God is opened; and in the view of all this together, let us join issue with the Church. Is. 12:3. "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation; therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation."