by Samuel Rutherford
A SURVEY OF OUR SAVIOUR IN HIS SOUL-SUFFERING, HIS LOVELINESS IN HIS DEATH, AND THE EFFICACY THEREOF. IN WHICH SOME CASES OF SOUL-TROUBLE IN WEAK BELIEVERS, GROUNDS OF SUBMISSION UNDER THE ABSENCE OF CHRIST, WITH THE FLOWINGS AND HEIGHTENINGS OF FREE GRACE, ARE OPENED. DELIVERED IN SERMONS ON THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN, CHAP. 12 ver. 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33.
Where are also interjected some necessary digressions, for the times, touching divers errors of Antinomians; and a short vindication of the doctrine of Protestants, from the Arminian pretended Universality of Christ's Dying for all and every one of mankind; the moral and feigned way of irresistible conversion of sinners; and what faith is required of all within the visible church, for the want whereof many are condemned.
IF, in this luxuriant and wanton age of proud and rank wits, any should write of this kind, and be wanting to the exalting of the Plant of Renown, the Flower of Jesse, Jesus Christ, and to the dew of his youth, the free grace of God; his heart may censure his pen, and He who is greater than the man's heart, should challenge him. The weak and low aim of a sinner, writing of a Saviour, and such a Saviour, should be, that faith and sense may go along with tongue and pen; but how short most men come, of reaching such an end, who cannot but confess?
The mind may be calmed a little in this; that tho' to speak highly of Christ, be, in poor men, who are so low under, and unequal to so great a province, a marring rather of his dignity, and a flattering of Christ, than a real praising of, or pointing him out in all his virtues and loveliness, in regard that the foulness of the breath of a sinner may blacken the beauty of such a transcendent and incomparable flower, that Isaiah, a high, eminent, and gospel prophet, is at his wits end, at a nonplus, a stand, and giveth over the matter as a high question; Isa. 53:8. Who shall declare his generation? And another, What is his name, and what is his Son's name, if thou canst tell? All that ever wrote, lie down under this load; and though many now-a-days give out, they have so much of the Lord Jesus, that they are Christed and swallowed up in his love, yet should I think it all happiness, if I could but tell Christ's name, and were so deep learned, as to know how they call him. In truth, in regard of any comprehensive knowledge, we but speak and write our guessings, our far off and twilight apprehensions of him; and, instead of coming up to the clear vision of a gospel noon-day light, as we are obliged, we but cast the blind man's club, and but play (as children do with the golden covering, and silken ribbons of an Arabic Bible that they cannot read) about the borders and margin of the knowledge of Christ: O how rawly do the needle-headed schoolmen write of Christ! O how subtile and eagle-eyed seem they to be in speculations! Grave-deep, or rather hell-deep, touching his grave-linens, what became of them when he rose from the dead, and the chestnut colour of his hair, and the wood of his cross, and the three nails that wedged him to the tree, and the adoring of any thing that touched his body, either wood, iron, or nails of the holy grave? And how far from that, Cant. 8:6. Set me as a seal on thy heart, as a signet on thine arm?
There be volumes written of Christ, sermon upon sermon, and not line upon line only, but book upon book, and tome upon some. And ah! we are but at the first side of the single catechism of Christ, spelling his first elements; yea, Solomon was but at, What is his name? I fear, too many of us know neither name nor thing; nay, in this learned age, when Antinomians write book after book of Christ, I should say, for all their crying, O the gospel spirit, the gospel strain of preaching, the mystery of free grace! (which few of them know) that one ounce, one grain of the spiritual and practical knowledge of Christ, is more to be valued than talent-weights, yea, ship-loads, or mountains of the knowledge of the dumb school-letter.
They say, The saints are perfect, and their works perfect. I slander them not, read Mr. Towne,* Mr. Eaton†, and Saltmarsh‡. But how ignorant are they of the gospel? how ill read and little versed in Christ? Yea, as Luther said*, Take away sin, and ye take away Christ a Saviour of sinners: How little acquainted with, and how great strangers to their own hearts are they, in writing so? There is a fulness (I confess) and an all-fulness, and all-fulness of God, Eph. 3:19. But I much doubt, if this complete all-fulness of God, be in this side of eternity; sure it cannot stand with our half-penny candle, nor can it be, that in our soul, with the darkness of an indwelling body of sin, should shine the noon-day vision of glory, called Theologia Meridiana Visionis.
'Tis true, Paul's ravishment to the third heavens, John's being in the Spirit, and seeing the heavens opened, and beholding the throne, and him that sat on it, and the troops clothed in white, that have come out of great tribulation, do clearly evidence, saints may in this life be in the suburbs of heaven, but the suburbs is not the city. God may, and doth open a window in the new Jerusalem, and let them see through that hole the young morning-glances of the day-light of glory, and a part of the throne, and the half of his face that fits on the throne, and the glorious undefiled ones that stand before the throne: but this fulness doth not overflow to brim and bank; the vessel is in a capacity to receive many quarts and gallons more of the new wine of glory, that grows in that new land of harmony. Now, Antinomians lay all our perfection on justification and remission of sins; yet pardon of sins (except in this sense, which is a gradual accident of pardon, and not pardon itself) is not like the new moon that receives fuller and more light till it be full moon; for remission is as perfect and full a freedom from the law-guilt and wrath to come, at the first moment of our justification, as ever it shall be: they ascribe not our perfection in this life to sanctification, which yet they must do, if sin in its nature and being dwelt not in us.
And for our engagement to Jesus Christ, for the price and ransom he hath paid for us, we have nothing to say, but pay praises to our creditor Christ; or rather suspend, while we be up before the throne, with the millions of broken men, the engaged saints, that there we may sing our debts in an everlasting psalm, for here we can but sigh them. The book of our engagements to Christ is written full, page and margin, within and without; it is a huge book of many volumes, and the millions of angels, to whom Christ is head, Col. 2:10 owe their redemption from possible sins, and possible chains of eternal vengeance, that their fellow-angels actually lie under. Then, O what huge sums are all the inhabitants of heaven owing to Christ?
And what can angels and men say, but Christ is the head of principalities and powers, Col. 2:10. Yea, the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all, Eph. 1:22, 23. The Chieftain of ten thousands, yea, of all the Lord's millions, and hosts in heaven and earth, Cant. 5:10. When all the created expressions, and dainty flowers of being, heavens, sun, moon, stars, seas, birds, fishes, trees, flowers, herbs, that are in the element of nature, are issued out of Christ, there be infinite possibilities of more rich beings in him, when out of Christ do stream such rivers of full grace to angels and men, and to all creatures beside, that by participation, in their kind, communicate with them in drops and bedewings of free goodness; it being a result of courtesy and freeness of mediatory grace, that the system and body of the creation, which for our sin is condemned to perish, should continue and subsist in being and beauty: yet, O what more, and infinite more of whole entire Christ remaineth in him never seen, nay, not comprehensible by created capacities? And when, not only in the sphere of grace, but in that highest orb and region of glory, such hosts and numerous troops of glorified pieces, redeemed saints, and elect angels that are by anticipation ransomed from their contingent fall into sin, and possible eternity of vengeance, do stand beside him as created emanations, and twigs that sprang out of Christ; there is an infiniteness invisible and incomprehensible in him: yea, when all these chips, created leavings, small blossoms, daughters and births of goodness and grace, have streamed out from him, he is the same infinite Godhead, and would, and doth out-tire and weary men and angels, and whatsoever is possible to be created, with the only act of wondering, and surveying of so capacious and boundless a Christ. Here is gospel-work for all eternity to glorified workmen, angels and ransomed men, to dig into this gold mine, to roll this soul-delighting and precious stone, to behold, view, inquire, and search into his excellency. And this is the satiety, the top and prime of heaven's glory and happiness, to see, and never out-see, to wonder, and never over-wonder the virtues of him that sits on the throne; to be filled, but never satiate with Christ. And must it not then be our sin, that we stand aloof from Christ? Surely, if we did not love the part above the whole, and the dross of that part, even the froward will, more than our soul; Christ should not be so far out of either request or fashion, as he is.
If Antinomians offend, or such as are, out of ignorance, seduced, hate me for heightening Christ, not in a gospel-licence, as they do; but in a strict and accurate walking, in commanding of which, both law and gospel do friendly agree, and never did, and never could jar, or contest; I threaten them, in this I write, with the revenge of good will, to have them saved, in a weak aim, and a far off (at least) desire, to offer to their view such a gospel idea and representation of Christ, as the prophets and apostles have shewn in the word of his kingdom, who opens the secrets of the Father to the sons of men.
And for Arminians now risen in England, and such as are both Arminians and Antinomians, such as is Mr. Denne, and others, they lie stated to me in no other view but as enemies of the grace of God: and when Antinomians and Anabaptists now in England, join hands with Pelagians, Jesuits, and Arminians, I cannot but wonder, why the Arminians, Socinians, and Antichristian abusers of free grace, and free-will-worshippers, should be more defended and patronized now, as the godly party, than at that time, when the godly cried out so much against them, and out prayed the unclean prophet out of the land: sure, a white and a black devil must be of the same kindred. Grace is always grace, never wantonness.
Nor can we enough praise and admire the flowings, the rich emanations, and deep-living springs of the sea of that fulness of grace that is in Christ. Come and draw, the well is deep; and what drops of dewings fall on angels and men, are but chips of that huge and boundless body of the fulness of grace that is in Christ; one lily is nothing to a boundless and broad field of them. Christ is the mountain of roses; O, how high, how capacious, how full, how beautiful, how green! Could we smell him who feeds among the lilies, till the day break, and shadows fly away, and dive into the gold veins of the unsearchable riches of Christ, and be drunk with his wine; we should say, 'Tis good to be here, and to gather up the fragments that fall from Christ. His crown shines with diamonds and pearls, to, and through all generations. The land of Immanuel is an excellent soil; O but his heaven lies well, and warmly, and heartsomely, nigh to the Sun, the Sun of Righteousness! The fruit of the land is excellent, glory grows on the very out-fields of it. O what dewings of pure and unmixed joys lie for eternity, on these eternally springing mountains and gardens of spices! And what do we here? Why do we toil ourselves in gathering sticks to our nest, when to-morrow we shall be gone out of this? Would these considerations out-work and tire us out of ourselves to him, it were our all-happiness.
1. Many ambassadors God sent to us, none like Christ; he is God, and the noble and substantial representation of God, the very self of God, God sending, and God sent, the Fellow of God, his companion; and God, and not another God, but a Son, another subsistence and person.
2. For kindred and birth, a begotten Son, and never begun to be a Son, nor to have a Father; of God's most ancient house, a branch of the King of ages, that was never young. And in reference to us, The first-begotton of many brethren.
3. For office; never one like him, to make peace between God and man, by the blood of an eternal covenant, a days-man wholly for God; God in nature, mind, will, power, holiness, and infinite perfection; a days-man for himself, a days-man wholly for us, on our side, by birth, blood, good-will, for us, with us, and us, in nature.
4. What unweariness of love suiting us in marriage? What is Christ's good will, in pouring out his spirit, his love, his soul, his life, himself for us? Had Christ more than his own noble and excellent self to give for us?
5. How long he seeks? How long a night rain wet his locks and hair? How long a night is it, he stands at the church's door knocking? Cant. 5:1; Rev. 3:20. There be many hours in this night, since he was preached in paradise, and yet he stands to this day: how fain would he come, and how glad would he be of lodging? The arm that hath knocked five thousand years aches not yet; Behold he stands and knocks, and will not give over till all be his, and all the tribes in ones and twos be, over Jordan, and up with him in the good land; he cannot want one, nor half one; yea, John 6:39 not a bit of a saint.
6. The sinners on earth, and glorified in heaven, are of one blood; they had once as soul faces and as guilty souls on earth, as you and I have: O but now they are made fair, and stand before the throne washed and without spot! Grace and glory hath put them out of your kenning, but they are your born brethren, all the seas and fountains on earth cannot wash asunder your blood and theirs; and there is not upon any in that renowned land, the mark, impression, shadow, or sted of any blot of sin; and Christ washeth as clean now, as ever he did; you are not so black, nor so sun-burnt, but he will make you white like all the rest of the children of the house, that you shall misken yourself for beauty of glory; thou art at the worst a sinner, and but a sinner, and a sinner is nothing to Christ.
There shall be use for free grace in the land of glory: every new day and month of glory (let us so apprehend, as if there were pieces of endless eternity, for our weakness) shall be a new debt of free grace, because Christ is never, never shall be our debtor; merit of creatures cannot enter heaven for eternity, the holding of glory shall be free grace without end; then must Christ's relation of a creditor, and ours of debtors, grow, and be greener for evermore, in an eternal bud, ever spring, and ever in the top and flower of harvest; and we ever pay, and ever praise, and ever wade in further and deeper in the sea of free love, and the growing of the new-contracted debts of eternal grace: and the longer these white companies and regiments that follow the Lamb live there, the more broken debtors are they, so as Christ can never lay aside his crown of grace, nor we our diadem of glory, holden still by the only charter, and eternally-continued writing of free grace, prorogated and spun out daily (to borrow that word, where no time grows) in a thread as long as eternity, and the living of God. O the vast and endless thoughts, and O the depth of unsearchable grace!
8. Better a thousand times live under the government, and tutory of Christ, as be your own, and live at will. Live in Christ, and you are in the suburbs of heaven; there is but a thin wall between you and the land of praises; ye are within an hour's sailing of the shore of the new Canaan. When death digs a little hole in the wall, and takes down the sails, ye have no more ado but set your foot down in the fairest of created paradises.
9. 'Tis impossible Christ can be in heaven, and pieces and bits of Christ mystical should be in hell, or yet long on earth. Christ will draw in his legs and his members on earth, in to himself, up nearer the head; and Christ and you must be under one roof. What? mansions are nothing, many mansions are little; yea, many mansions in Christ's Father's house, are created chips of happiness, and of blood and kin to nothing, if they be created; Ah! we want himself, and I should refuse heaven if Christ were not there: take Christ away from heaven, and 'tis but a poor, unheartsome, dark, waste dwelling; heaven without Christ, should look like the direful land of death. Ah! saith Christ, your joy must be full, John 14:3. I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there ye may be also. I confess, mansions are but as places of briers and thorns without Christ; therefore I would have heaven for Christ, and not Christ for heaven.
10. Formal blessedness is created, but objective happiness is an uncreated Godhead. Let the waters and streams retire into the bosom of this deep fountain and spring of infiniteness, and there can they not rot, nor four, nor deaden, but are kept fresh for ever. Come and grow upon this stock, the eternally green and ever-springing tree of life, and you live upon the fatness, sap, sweetness, and life of this renowned plant of paradise for ever.
11. An act of living in Christ, and on Christ, in the acts of loving, seeing, enjoying, embracing, resting on him, is that noon-day divinity and theology of beatific vision. There is a general assembly of immediately illuminated divines round about the throne, who study, lecture, preach, praise Christ night and day. O what rays, what irradiations and dartings of intellectual fruition, beholding, enjoying, living in him, and servour of loving, come from that face, that God-visage of the Lord God Almighty, and the Lamb that is in the midst of them, and overcovers, weights, and loads the beholders within and without! And then there must be reflections, and reachings of intellectual vision, embracing, loving, wondering, returning back to him again, in a circle of glory; and then who but the Bridegroom, and the spouse, the Lamb's wife, in an act of an eternal espousing, marrying, and banqueting together? Who but Christ and his followers? Who but the All in all? The I AM? The Prince of ages?
12. And so eminent is the wisdom and depth of the unsearchable riches of the grace of Christ, that though God need not sin, and sin be contrary to his holy and most righteous will, yet the design, the heavenly, lovely, most holy state-contrivance of sin's entrance in the world, drawn through the fields of free grace, proclaimeth the eminency and never-enough admired and adored art and profound wisdom of God; had sin never been, the glorious second person of the blessed Trinity, and the eternal Spirit had been, and must be the same, one ever-blessed God with the Father. For the glorious one Godhead in three admirable subsistences comes under no acts of the free-will and sovereign counsels of God, the Godhead being most absolutely and essentially necessary. But we should have wanted for eternity, the mysterious Immanuel, the Beloved, the White and Ruddy, the Chief among ten thousands, Christ, God-man, the Saviour of sinners: for no sick sinners, and no saving Soul-physician of sinners; no captive, no Redeemer; no slave of hell, no lovely, Ransom-payer of heaven. 2. There should have been no gospel, no actual redemption on earth, no gospel-song of ransomed ones in heaven, Worthy is the Lamb, &c. Had sin never been, there had never been one whisper nor voice in heaven of a Lamb sacrificed and slain for sinners; there had been no gospel-tune of the now-eternal song of free grace in heaven; there had been silence in that blessed assembly of the first-born, of any psalm, but of law-music; men obeyed a law without being in debt to the grace of a Mediator, and therefore they live eternally. 3. Grace, tree grace, should never have come out on the stage, as visible to the eye of men and angels. 4. If sin had never broken in on the world, the guests of free grace that now are before the throne, and once were foul and ugly sinners on earth, Mary Magdalene, with her seven devils, Paul with his hands once hot and smoking with the blood of the saints, and his heart sick with malice and blasphemy against Christ, and his followers, and the rest of the now-white and washen ones, whose robes are made fair in the blood of the Lamb, and all the numerous millions which none can number, whose heads now are warmed, in that best of lands, with a free crown, and are but bits of free grace, should not have been in heaven at all, as the free-holders and tenants of the exalted Redeemer, the man Jesus Christ; there had not been one tenant of pardoning mercy in heaven. But O what depth of unsearchable wisdom to contrive that lovely plot of free grace, and that that river and sea of boundless love should run through, and within the banks of so muddy, inky, and polluted a channel, as the transgressions and sins of the sons of Adam; and then that on the sides and borders of that deep river should grow green, budding, and blooming for evermore, such roses and paradise lilies smelling out heaven to men and angels, as pardoning mercy to sinners, free and rich grace to traitors to the crown of heaven, the God-love of Christ Jesus to man! Come, warm your hearts, all intellectual capacities, at this fire; O come, all ye created faculties, and smell the precious ointments of Christ; O come, sit down under this shadow, taste and eat the apples of life. O that angels would come, and generations of men, and wonder, admire, adore, fall down before the unsearchable wisdom of this gospel art of the unsearchable riches of Christ!
13. If then love, and so deep gospel-love be despised, broken men slighting surety-love, and marriage-love, and then dying in such a debt as trampled-on covenant-love, blood-love must be arrested with the saddest charge of gospel-vengeance. I would have saved you, and ye would not be saved, coming from the mouth of Christ, must be a seal to all the curses of the law, and a vengeance on eternal fire beyond them: but we either, in these sad times, will have the grace of Christ a cipher, and yet to do all things, which is the Antinomians wanton licentiousness; or free-will to do all things, and grace to do nothing, but that nature should be the umpire and sovereign, and grace the servant and vassal, which is the Arminians' pride, for fear they be beholden to Jesus Christ, and hold heaven on a writing of too free grace: sure the gospel goeth a middle way, and the difference of devils white or black should not delude us, for both are black, and tend to the blackness of darkness, and shift the soul off Christ, and break up a new north-west way to heaven, that our guide glory may not be the Captain of our salvation, who brings many children to glory, but either loose licence without law, or lordly pride without gospel-grace. Now the very God of peace establish us in his truth, and in such a thorny wood of false christs, and false teachers, give us the Morning-star, and his conduct to glory, who knows the way, and is the way, the truth, and the life.
Yours in the Lord Jesus,
Table of Contents
To the Judicious and Godly Reader
Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners to Himself
The Reasons Moving a Soul to Yield to Christ's Drawing
Touching the form and nature and manner of drawing
And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to me
The Son of man came to seek and to save