Friday, January 22, 2010

the evangelical crisis in interpreting Scripture

There is a new crisis in the evangelical handling of Scripture. Issues such as the role of women are significantly shaping the traditional evangelical doctrine of Scripture. This is the main thesis of Wayne Grudem's book “Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism?”. Grudem argues that evangelical feminists are using a method of interpretation that leads inexorably to the normalization of homosexuality as well as feminism. Grudem believes that approval of homosexuality is the point of real apostasy, “the final step along the path to liberalism.”

Grudem focuses his attack on the redemptive or trajectory hermeneutic popularised by William Webb's book, “Slaves, Women and Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis” (IVP, 2001). The book evaluates the progress made throughout history in the area of interpreting Scripture in relation to slavery and proposes that the same progress should be made in other areas, such as the role of women. The hermeneutic asserts that the principles taught in the Old Testament are outdated in relation to the permission and regulation of slavery. It goes on to assert that the principles taught in the New Testament improve upon this by discouraging slavery. The trajectory did not stop there however but moved towards a point where the Church rejected slavery. The idea is that the Scriptures are only on a developing trajectory which was not cut short by the canon of Scripture. The Church must be dynamic and move with the culture rather than be bound to Scripture's "frozen" ethics. It is also called the "redemptive-movement hermeneutic" because of this movement. Traditional evangelical interpretation is called a "static hermeneutic".

Webb says, "In sum, the case studies developed in this book support a redemptive-movement hermeneutic. If the original readers of Scripture lived out its isolated words, by virtue of their cultural context, they lived out the redemptive spirit of the text for that generation. For us, however, it is a different story. For us the redemptive spirit does not always come automatically because the applicational context has changed. We must journey beyond any surface-level appropriation to application of the text that captures its meaning in cultural and canonical context-an application that honors its underlying spirit. Our task is not to lock into an ethic that has been frozen in time, but to pursue an ultimate ethic, one reflected in the redemptive spirit of Scripture. As a community born to the twenty-first century, we must not be limited to a mere enactment of the text's isolated words. It is our sacred calling to champion its spirit."

The idea is that Paul and other New Testament authors were moving in a trajectory toward full inclusion of women in Church leadership, but they didn’t quite reach that goal by the time the canon was complete. We have to continue that trajectory.

“This means that the teachings of the New Testament are no longer our final authority,” Grudem writes. “Our authority now becomes our own ideas of the direction the New Testament was heading but never quite reached.” This relativism has no logical stopping off point and so as Grudem indicates, the same method of interpretation that defends evangelical feminism can be applied to homosexuality, the approval of which, Grudem writes, “is the final step along the path to liberalism.” There is much to evidence such a view. The fact that Arcbishop Rowan Williams (not to mention those in the Church of Scotland) has argued for approval of homosexuality using the same interpretative principle demonstrates the point.

Grudem observes, “I have lived in the academic world for over thirty years, and I have a great deal of confidence in the ability of scholars to take a set of eighteen criteria like this [Webb’s system] and make a case for almost anything they desire, through skillful manipulation of the variable factors involved in the criteria. But whether or not these are the result of a proper use of Webb’s criteria, the point remains: the standard is no longer what the New Testament says, but rather the point toward which some scholar thinks the Bible was moving. And that is why I believe it is correct to say that Webb’s redemptive-movement hermeneutic nullifies in principle the moral authority of the entire New Testament.”

The decision on which details are relative and which are not is essentially subjective . It is rather like an inversion of the quest for the historical Jesus which pursued its quest into the biblical text discarding whatever didn't seem to the critic to be authentic and arrived at a historical Jesus who was strangely rather like the critic himself in his convictions. As one writer put it, it was like someone seeing their reflection at the bottom of a deep well. The trajectory hermeneutic pursues its goal away from Scripture but ends up with the same uncanny carbon copy of contemporary cultural beliefs and norms. In both cases Scripture is treated like a wax nose. It becomes used as per the Roman Catholic magisterium, simply to illustrate the Church's teaching rather than self-authenticating and finally authoritative.

The trajectory hermeneutic does not have a place for the sufficiency and final authority of Scripture. It also undermines its perspicuity. It is a way of writing off vast tracts of the Old Testament.

What Webb has shown us, however, is that the way in which evangelicals have employed cultural relativism 'conservatively' both in bible translation and interpretation is highly dangerous. For the last generation or two, there has been a gentleman's agreement amongst evangelical scholars that cultural relativism can be embraced without undermining traditional evangelical convictions. Evangelical feminism has flown in the face of that.

Evangelicals have happily applied cultural relativism as a way of interpreting parts of Scripture that seem inconvenient such as the precepts (grounded on Creation ordinance) in relation to hair length and requiring head covering in 1 Cor 11. “That’s just cultural”, you hear parroted. These developments should make us think twice before we utter these words.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Love.s Debt

MY desire is that my Lord would give me broader and deeper thoughts, to feed myself with wondering at His love. I would I could weigh it, but I have no balance for it. When I have worn my tongue to the stump in praising of Christ, I have done nothing
to Him. I must let Him alone, for my withered arms will not go about His high, wide, long, and broad love. What remaineth, then, but that my debt to the love of Christ be unpaid for all eternity? ... O, if this land and nation would come and stand beside His inconceivable and glorious perfections, and look in, and love and wonder and adore! Would to God I could bring in many lovers to Christ’s house! But this nation hath
forsaken the fountain of living waters. Lord, cast not water on Scotland’s coal. Woe, woe will be to this land because of the day of the Lord’s fierce anger, that is so fast coming.

Samuel Rutherford.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

assurance and personal responsibility is not owing to God, nor to any of his revelations, that true
saints ever doubt of their state; his revelations are plain and clear,
and his rules sufficient for men to determine their own condition by.
But, for the most part, it is owing to their own sloth, and giving way
to their sinful dispositions. Must God's institutions and revelations
be answerable for all the perplexities men bring on themselves,
through their own negligence and unwatchfulness? It is wisely ordered
that the saints should escape perplexity in no other way than that of
great strictness, diligence, and maintaining the lively, laborious,
and self-denying exercises of religion.

Jonathan Edwards
An Humble Inquiry (Works 12:298)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Contemplation on Snow

The following Contemplation by Augustus Toplady is very appropriate at the moment and may help us learn from our providence in the UK at present. I cannot guarantee how metereologically accurate it is but it is spiritually helpful.


"Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?" JOB 38:22.


THE whole world of nature, no less than those of grace and of glory, is under the absolute dominion and the never ceasing direction of God. Every wind that blows is of his breathing; and every drop, whether fluid or condensed, that falls from the sky, is of his sending. At this very time must the adoring nations confess that he giveth snow like wool; and he scattereth the hoar frost like ashes; he casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand against his cold? Psalm 147:16. "He saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength". Job 37:6.


Let the same question be put to my readers which speaking Omnipotence once put to Job "Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? Hast thou considered its nature, its proper ties, and its uses?


Dew, mist, rain, snow, hail, and clouds are no more than coalitions of watery vapours which have been partly forced towards the surface of our terraqueous globe by the latent fires with which its bowels are fraught; and partly drawn up from it by the insinuating, attractive agency of the sun. The humid particles thus exhaled naturally ascend ; as being in their uncombined state lighter than the surrounding air : and persist to soar, until they arrive at a region of the atmosphere where their flight is stopped by other preceding vapours already exhaled and condensed into clouds. Thus arrested and detained, they unite (like coalescing spherules of quicksilver, .or like the contacting globules of water in a containing vessel) into floating masses; and remain in a state of literal suspense and fluctuation until, by accumulated compression, and by their own collected weight, they become specifically heavier than the sustaining air, and fall in larger or smaller drops to the earth and ocean whence they sprung. Striking representation of man in his best estate of moral excellence! Are you rich, or exalted, or prosperous, or gay? remember, that you are under as absolute obligation to Providence for these glittering distinctions, as a rising vapour is indebted for its transitory elevation to the action of the solar beams. And, vapour-like, you too must fall, after having hovered your few destined moments: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. An inspired pen has both started and resolved the question: What is your life? It is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. (James 4:14). If so, "Why all this toil for triumphs of an hour? What though we wade in wealth or soar in fame the Earth s highest glory ends in, Here he lies! And dust to dust, concludes her noblest son.


Be wise, therefore, to slip the cable of your affections from the world s evanid shore. Supplicate the Holy Spirit to make you rich towards God. And under the sweet breezes of his gracious influence, set sail in good earnest for the kingdom of heaven.


When the watery treasures of the sky descend to their native earth, more like respectful visitants than like rude invaders, i.e. in moderate quantities, and with not too impetuous force, we call them showers. When they greatly exceed in those two particulars we give them the hostile name of storms. Thus the human passions, if rectified and regulated by supernatural grace, are instruments of happiness, and productive of the most beneficial effects. But if unrestrained by Providence, and unrefined by the Holy Ghost, they operate like the deadly Egyptian tempest, which smote both man and beast, and destroyed every herb, and brake all the trees of the field. (Ex 9:25).


While the middle regions of the air are impregnated with frost, the falling drops catch cold (if the expression may be allowed), and are congealed in the course of their descent. Hail and snow are but other names for different modifications of frozen rain. Hail is rain consolidated into a hard and heavy mass. Snow is a multitude of small honked icicles which, interfering with each other in their fall, become mutually entangled and interlinked: and cohere indelicate, but irregular, flakes of very light, because of very expansive and superficial, texture. If snow is no more than particles of water, congealed in their passage to the earth, it affords but too just an emblem of our affections when, instead of aspiring to God in Christ, they subside and gravitate towards a perishable world. Under such spiritual declension, our comforts are chilled, and our graces benumbed: until a fresh rising of the sun of righteousness upon our souls dissolves the moral frost, and again warms us into the meltings of penitential love. His beams strike upon the rock, and then the waters flow.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Christ's 3 Offices in Heaven

by John Owen

All Christians acknowledge that his present state is a state of the
highest glory, — of exaltation above the whole creation of God, above
every name that is or can be named; and hereon they esteem their own
honor and safety to depend. Neither do they doubt of his power, but
take it for granted that he can do whatever he pleaseth; which is the
ground of their placing all their confidence in him. But we must show,
moreover, that his present state is a state of officepower, work, and
duty. He leads not in heaven a life of mere glory, majesty, and
blessedness, but a life of office, love, and care also. He lives as
the Mediator of the church; as the King, Priest, and Prophet thereof.
Hereon do our present safety and our future eternal salvation depend.
Without the continual acting of the officepower and care of Christ,
the church could not be preserved one moment. And the darkness of our
faith herein is the cause of oft our disconsolations, and most of our
weaknesses in obedience. Most men have only general and confused
notions and apprehensions of the present state of Christ, with respect
unto the church. And by some, all considerations of this nature are
despised and derided. But revealed things belong unto us; especially
such as are of so great importance unto the glory of God and the
saving of our own souls, — such as this is, concerning the present
state of the person of Christ in heaven, with respect unto his
office-power and care.

Thus he is at once represented in all his offices, Revelation 5:6,
"And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four
living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it
had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven
Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth."

The whole representation of the glory of God, with all his holy
attendants, is here called his "throne;" whence Christ is said to be
in the "midst" of it.

And this he is in his kingly glory; with respect also whereunto he is
said to have "seven horns," or perfect power for the accomplishment of
his will.

And with respect unto his sacerdotal office, he is represented as a
"Lamb that had been slain;" it being the virtue of his oblation that
is continually effectual for the salvation of the church. For, as the
"Lamb of God," — in the offering of himself, — he "taketh away the sin
of the world." And as a prophet he is said to have "seven eyes," which
are "the seven Spirits of God;" or a perfect fullness of all spiritual
light and wisdom in himself, with a power for the communication of
gifts and grace for the illumination of the church.

The nature of these offices of Christ, what belongs unto them and
their charge, as was before intimated, I have declared elsewhere. I do
now no farther consider them but as they relate unto the present state
and condition of the person of Christ in heaven. And because it would
be too long a work to treat of them all distinctly, I shall confine
myself unto the consideration of his priestly office, with what
depends thereon. And with respect thereunto the things ensuing may be
observed. 1. The Lord Christ entered into heaven, the place of the
residence of the glory of God, as into a temple, a tabernacle, a place
of sacred worship. He did so as the high priest of the church, Hebrews
9:24. He "is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which
are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in
the presence of God for us." He is entered into heaven, as it was
figured by the tabernacle of old; which was the place of all sacred
and solemn worship. And therefore is he said to enter into it "through
the veil," Hebrews 6:19,20, 10:19, 20; which was the way of entrance
into the most holy place, both in the tabernacle and temple. Heaven is
not only a palace, a throne, as it is God's throne, Matthew 5:34; but
it is a temple, wherein God dwells, not only in majesty and power, but
in grace and mercy. It is the seat of ordinances and solemn worship.
So is it represented, Revelation 7:15,17. It is said of the whole
number of the saints above that have passed through the tribulations
of this world, that they are "before the throne of God, and serve him
day and night in his temple, and he that sitteth on the throne shall
dwell among them;" and "the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne
shall feed them, and lead them unto living fountains of water." See
also chap. 8:1-4. The worship of the church below may also be herein
comprised; but it is by virtue of communion with that above. This is
that heaven which the souls of believers do long for an entrance into.
Other apprehensions of it are but uncertain speculations. 2. In this
temple, this sanctuary, the Lord Christ continueth gloriously to
minister before the throne of grace, in the discharge of his office.
See Hebrews 4:14-16, 9:24. As the high priest went into the holy place
to minister for the church unto God, before the ark and mercy-seat,
which were types of the throne of grace; so does our High Priest act
for us in the real presence of God. He did not enter the holy place
only to reside there in a way of glory, but to do templework, and to
give unto God all that glory, honor, and worship, which he will
receive from the church. And we may consider, both (1.) What this work
is, and (2.) How it is performed. (1.) In general; herein Christ
exerteth and exerciseth all his love, compassion, pity, and care
towards the church, and every member of it.

This are we frequently called unto the consideration of, as the
foundation of all our consolation, as the fountain of all our
obedience. See Hebrews 2:17,18, 4:15, 16, 5:2. Thoughts hereof are the
relief of believers in all their distresses and temptations; and the
effects of it are all their supplies of grace, enabling them to
persevere in their obedience. He does appear for them as the great
representative of the church, to transact all their affairs with God.
And that for three ends.

First, To make effectual the atonement that he has made for sin. By
the continual representation of it, and of himself as a "Lamb that had
been slain," he procures the application of the virtues and benefits
of it, in reconciliation and peace with God, unto their souls and
consciences. Hence are all believers sprinkled and washed with his
blood in all generations, — in the application of the virtues of it
unto them, as shed for them.

Secondly, To undertake their protection, and to plead their cause
against all the accusations of Satan. He yet accuseth and chargeth
them before God; but Christ is their advocate at the throne of grace,
effectually frustrating all his attempts, Revelation 12:10; Zechariah

Thirdly, To intercede for them, as unto the communication of all grace
and glory, all supplies of the Spirit, the accomplishment of all the
promises of the covenant towards them, 1 John 2:1,2. This is the work
of Christ in heaven. In these things, as the high priest of the
church, does he continue to administer his mediatory office on their
behalf. And herein is he attended with the songs and joyful
acclamations of all the holy ones that are in the presence of God,
giving glory to God by him. (2.) As unto the manner of this glorious
administration, sundry things are to be considered. [1.] That this
transaction of things in heaven, being in the temple of God, and
before the throne of grace, is a solemn instituted worship at present,
which shall cease at the end of the world. Religious worship it is, or
that wherein and whereby all the saints above do give glory to God.
And it is instituted worship, not that which is merely natural, in
that it is God's especial appointment, in and by Christ the mediator.
It is a church-state which is constituted hereby, wherein these
glorious ordinances are celebrated; and such a state as shall not be
eternal, but has its time allotted unto it. And believers at present
have, by faith, an admission into communion with this church above, in
all its divine worship. For we "are come unto mount Zion, and unto the
city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable
company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first
born, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to
the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the
new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better
things than that of Abel," Hebrews 12:22-24.

A church state does the apostle most expressly represent unto us. It
is Zion, Jerusalem, the great assembly, — the names of the church
state under the Old Testament. And it is a state above, the heavenly
Jerusalem, where are all the holy angels, and the spirits of just men
made perfect in themselves, though not in their state as to the
restitution of their bodies at the resurrection. And a holy worship is
there in this great assembly; for not only is Jesus in it as the
mediator of the covenant, but there is the "blood of sprinkling" also,
in the effectual application of it unto the church. Hereunto have we
an entrance. In this holy assembly and worship have we communion by
faith whilst we are here below, Hebrews 10:19-22. O that my soul might
abide and abound in this exercise of faith! — that I might yet enjoy a
clearer prospect of this glory, and inspection into the beauty and
order of this blessed assembly! How inconceivable is the
representation that God here makes of the glory of his wisdom, love,
grace, goodness, and mercy, in Christ! How excellent is the
manifestation of the glory and honor of Christ in his person and
offices! — the glory given him by the Father! How little a portion do
we know, or can have experience in, of the refreshing, satiating
communications of divine love and goodness, unto all the members of
this assembly; or of that unchangeable delight in beholding the glory
of Christ, and of God in him, — of that ardency of affections
wherewith they cleave unto him, and continual exultation of spirit,
whereby they triumph in the praises of God, that are in all the
members of it! To enter into this assembly by faith, — to join with it
in the assignation of praises unto "him that sitteth on the throne,
and to the Lamb for evermore," — to labor after a frame of heart in
holy affections and spiritual delight in some correspondence with that
which is in the saints above, — is the duty, and ought to be the
design, of the church of believes here below. So much as we are
furthered and assisted herein by our present ordinances, so much
benefit and advantage have we by them, and no more. A constant view of
this glory will cast contempt on all the desirable things of this
world, and deliver our minds from any dreadful apprehensions of what
is most terrible therein. [2.] This heavenly worship in the sanctuary
above, administered by the High Priest over the house of God, is
conspicuously glorious. The glory of God is the great end of it, as
shall be immediately declared; that is, the manifestation of it. The
manifestation of the glory of God consists really in the effects of
his infinite wisdom, goodness, grace, and power; — declaratively, in
the express acknowledgment of it with praise. Herein, therefore, does
the solemn worship of God in the sanctuary above consist, — setting
aside only the immediate acting of Christ in his intercession. It is a
glorious, express acknowledgment of the wisdom, love, goodness, grace,
and power of God, in the redemption, sanctification, and salvation of
the church by Jesus Christ, with a continual ascription of all divine
honor unto him in the way of praise. For the manner of its
performance, our present light into it is but dark and obscure. Some
things have an evidence in them.

As, — 1st , That there is nothing carnal in it, or such things as are
suited unto the fancies and imaginations of men. In the thoughts of
heaven, most persons are apt to frame images in their minds of such
carnal things as they suppose they could be delighted withal. But they
are far remote from the worship of this holy assembly. The worship of
the gospel, which is spiritually glorious, makes a nearer approach
unto it than that of the Temple, which was outwardly and carnally so.
2ndly , It is not merely mental, or transacted only in the silent
thoughts of each individual person; for, as we have showed, it is the
worship of a church assembly wherein they have all communion, and join
in the performance of it. We know not well the way and manner of
communication between angels and the spirits of just men made perfect.
It is expressed in the Scripture by voices, postures, and gestures;
which, although they are not of the same nature as absolutely ours
are, yet are they really significant of the things they would express,
and a means of mutual communication. Yea, I know not how far God may
give them the use of voice and words whereby to express his praise, as
Moses talked with Christ at his transfiguration, Matthew 17:3. But the
manner of it is such as whereby the whole assembly above do jointly
set forth and celebrate the praises of God and the glory hereof
consisteth in three things. [1.] The blessed and beautiful order of
all things in that sanctuary. Job describes the grave beneath to be a
"place without any order, and where the light is as darkness," chap.

All above is order and light, — every person and thing in its proper
place and exercise. 1st , Heaven itself is a temple, a sanctuary, made
so by the especial presence of God, and the ministration of Christ in
the tabernacle of his human nature. 2ndly , God is on the throne of
grace, gloriously exalted on the account of his grace, and for the
dispensation of it. To the saints above he is on the throne of grace,
in that they are in the full enjoyment of the effects of his grace,
and do give glory unto him on the account thereof. He is so, also with
respect unto the church here below, in the continual communications of
grace and mercy through Christ. 3rdly , The Lord Christ, in his human
nature, is before the throne, acting his mediatory office and power in
behalf of the church. 4thly , All the holy angels, in the various
orders and degrees of their ministration, are about the throne
continually. So — 5thly , Are the spirits of just men made perfect, in
the various measures of light and glory. And these things were
obscurely represented in the order of the church at its first erection
in the wilderness; for the ordinances of God among them were patterns
or figures of heavenly things, Hebrews 9:23. (1st,) In the midst was
the tabernacle or sanctuary, — which represented the sanctuary or
temple above. (2ndly,) In the most holy place were the ark and
mercy-seat, — representatives of the throne of grace. (3rdly,) The
ministry of the high priest, — a type of the ministry of Christ.
(4thly,) The Levites, who attended on the priest, did represent the
ministry of angels attending on Christ in the charge of his office.
And, (5thly,) Round about them were the tribes in their order. [2.] In
the full, clear apprehensions which all the blessed ones have of the
glory of God in Christ, of the work and effects of his wisdom and
grace towards mankind. These are the foundation of all divine worship.
And because our conceptions and apprehensions about them are dark,
low, obscure, and inevident, our worship is weak and imperfect also.
But all is open unto the saints above. We are in the dust, the blood,
the noise of the battle; they are victoriously at peace, and have a
perfect view of what they have passed through, and what they have
attained unto. They are come to the springs of life and light, and are
filled with admiration of the grace of God in themselves and one
another. What they see in God and in Jesus Christ, what they have
experience of in themselves; what they know and learn from others, are
all of them inconceivable and inexpressible. It is well for us, if we
have so much experience of these things as to see a real glory in the
fullness and perfection of them. The apprehensions by eight, without
mixture of unsteadiness or darkness, without the alloy of fears or
temptations, with an ineffable sense of the things themselves on their
hearts or minds, are the springs or motives of the holy worship which
is in heaven. [3.] In the glorious manner of the performance of it.
Now, whereas it ariseth from sight and present enjoyment, it must
consist in a continual ascription of glory and praise unto God; and so
it is described in the Scripture. See Revelation 4:9-11, with Isaiah
6:3. And how little a portion of the glory of these things is it that
we can apprehend! 3. In this solemn assembly before the throne of
grace, the Lord Jesus Christ — the great High Priest — does represent
and render acceptable unto God the worship of the church here below.
So it is expressed, Revelation 8:3,4, "And another angel came and
stood at the altar, baring a golden censer; and there was given unto
him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all
saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the
smoke of the incense which came with the prayers of the saints,
ascended up before God out of the angel's hand." It is a
representation of the high priest burning incense on the golden altar
on the day of atonement, when he entered into the most holy place; for
that altar was placed just at the entrance of it, directly before the
ark and mercy seat, representing the throne of God. This angel,
therefore, is our High Priest; none else could approach that altar, or
offer incense on it, the smoke whereof was to enter into the holy
place. And the "prayers of all saints" is a synecdochical expression
of the whole worship of the church.

And this is presented before the throne of God by this High Priest.
And it is not said that their prayers came unto the throne of God, but
the smoke of the incense out of the hand of the angel did so; for it
is the incense of the intercession of Christ alone that gives them
their acceptance with God.

Without this, none of our prayers, praises, or thanksgivings, would
ever have access into the presence of God, or unto the throne of
grace. Blessed be God for this relief, under the consideration of the
weakness and imperfection of them! Wherefore, in him and by him alone
do we represent all our desires, and prayers, and whole worship to
God. And herein, in all our worship, do we ourselves "enter into the
most holy place," Hebrews 10:19. We do it not merely by faith, but by
this especial exercise of it, in putting our prayers into the hand of
this High Priest.

There are three things in all our worship that would hinder its access
unto God, and acceptance with him, as also keep off comfort and peace
from our consciences. The first is, The sin or iniquity that cleaves
unto it; secondly, The weakness or imperfection that at best is in it;
and, thirdly, The unworthiness of the persons by whom it is performed.
With reference unto these things the Law could never consummate or
perfect the consciences of them that came unto God by the sacrifices
of it. But there are three things in the sacerdotal ministration of
Christ that remove and take them all away, whereon we have access with
boldness unto God. And they are — (1.) The influence of his oblation;
(2.) The efficacy of his intercession; and, (3.) The dignity of his
person Through the first of these he bears and takes away all the
iniquity of our holy things, as Aaron did typically of old, by virtue
of the plate of gold with the name of God (a figure of Christ) on his
forehead, Exodus 28:36-38. He has made atonement for them in the blood
of his oblation, and they appear not in the presence of God. Through
the second, or the efficacy of his intercession, he gives acceptance
unto our prayers and holy worship, with power and prevalence before
God. For this is that incense whose smoke or sweet perfume comes up
with the prayers of all saints unto the throne of God. Through the
third, or the dignity of his person, wherein he appears as the
representative of his whole mystical body, he takes away from our
consciences that sense of our own vileness and unworthiness which
would not suffer us to approach with boldness unto the throne of
grace. In these things consists the life of the worship of the church,
— of all believers; without which, as it would not be acceptable unto
God, so we could have neither peace nor consolation in it ourselves.
4. Herein has the church that is triumphant communion with that which
is yet militant. The assembly above have not lost their concernment in
the church here below. As we rejoice in their glory, safety, and
happiness, that having passed through the storms and tempests, the
temptations, sufferings, and dangers, of this life and world, they are
harbored in eternal glory, unto the praise of God in Christ; so are
they full of affections towards their brethren exercised with the same
temptations, difficulties, and dangers, which they have passed
through, with earnest desires for their deliverance and safety.

Wherefore, when they behold the Lord Jesus Christ, as the great high
priest over the house of God, presenting their prayers, with all their
holy worship unto him, rendering them acceptable by the incense of his
own intercession, it fills them with satisfaction, and continually
excites them unto the assignation of praise, and glory, and honor unto
him. This is the state of the saints above, with respect unto the
church here below. This is all which may be herein ascribed unto them;
and this may safely be so. What some have fancied about their own
personal intercession, and that for particular persons, is derogatory
unto the honor of Jesus Christ, and inconsistent with their present
condition; but in these things consists their communion with the
church here below. A love they have unto it, from their union with it
in the same mystical body, Ephesians 1:10. A sense they have of its
condition, from the experience they had of it in the days of their
flesh. A great concernment they have for the glory of God in them, and
a fervent desire of their eternal salvation. They know that without
them they shall not be absolutely consummate, or made perfect in their
whole persons, Revelation 6:11. In this state of things they
continually behold the Lord Jesus Christ presenting their prayers
before the throne of grace, — making intercession for them, —
appearing to plead their cause against all their adversaries, —
transacting all their affairs in the presence of God, — taking care of
their salvation, that not one of them shall perish. This continually
fills them with a holy satisfaction and complacency, and is a great
part of the subject-matter of their incessant praises and ascriptions
of glory unto him. Herein lies the concernment of the church above in
that here below; this is the communion that is between them, whereof
the person of Christ, in the discharge of his office, is the bond and
center. 5. There is herein a full manifestation made of the wisdom of
God, in all the holy institutions of the tabernacle and temple of old.
Herein the veil is fully taken off from them, and that obscure
representation of heavenly things is brought forth unto light and
glory. It is true, this is done unto a great degree in the
dispensation of the Gospels. By the coming of Christ in the flesh, and
the discharge of his mediatory office in this world, the substance of
what they did prefigure is accomplished; and in the revelations of the
Gospel the nature and end of them is declared. Howbeit, they extended
their signification else unto things within the veil, or the discharge
of the priestly office of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary, Hebrews 9
24. Wherefore, as we have not yet a perfection of light to understand
the depth of the mysteries contained in them; so themselves also were
not absolutely fulfilled until the Lord Christ discharged his office
in the holy place. This is the glory of the pattern which God showed
unto Moses in the mount, made conspicuous and evident unto all.
Therein especially do the saints of the Old Testament, who were
exercised all their days in those typical institutions whose end and
design they could not comprehend, see the manifold wisdom and goodness
of God in them all, rejoicing in them for evermore. 6. All that the
Lord Christ receives of the Father on the account of this holy
interposition and mediation for the church, he is endowed with
sovereign authority and almighty power in himself to execute and
accomplish. Therefore is he said, as a priest, is be "made higher than
the heavens;" and as a "priest to sit down at the right hand of the
majesty on high," Hebrews 8:1. This glorious power does not
immediately belong unto Him on the account of his sacerdotal office,
but it is that qualification of his person which is necessary unto the
effectual discharge of it. Hence it is said of him, that he should
"bear the glory," and "sit and rule upon his throne," and should be "a
priest upon his throne," Zechariah 6:13. A throne is insigne regium,
and properly belongs unto Christ with respect unto his kingly office,
Hebrews 1:8,9. Howbeit the power accompanying and belonging unto his
throne being necessary unto the effectual discharge of his priestly
office, as he sits and rules on his throne, so it is said that he is a
"priest on his throne" also.

This is one instance of the present state of Christ in heaven, and of
the work which he does there perform, and the only instance I shall
insist upon. He was made a priest "after the power of an endless
life," — the life which he now leads in heaven; — and "lives for ever
to make intercession for us." He was dead, but is alive, and lives for
evermore, and has the keys of hell and death, — all power over the
enemies of his church. God on a throne of grace; — Christ, the high
priest, so on his right hand in glory and power as yet to be "before
the throne" in the virtue of his sacerdotal office, with the whole
concernment of the church on his hand, transacting all things with God
for them; — all the holy angels and the "spirits of just men made
perfect" encompassing the throne with continual praises unto God, even
the Father, and him, on the account of the work of infinite wisdom,
goodness, and grace, in his incarnation, mediation, and salvation of
the church thereby; — himself continuing to manage the cause of the
whole church before God, presenting all their prayers and services
unto him perfumed with his own intercession, — is that resemblance of
heaven and its present glory which the Scripture offers unto us. But,
alas! how weak, how dark, how low, are our conceptions and
apprehensions of these heavenly things! We see yet as through a glass
darkly, and know but in part. The time is approaching when we shall
see these things "with open face," and know even as we are known. The
best improvement we can make of this prospect, whilst faith supplies
the place of future sight, is to be stirred up thereby unto holy
longings after a participation in this glory, and constant diligence
in that holy obedience whereby we may arrive thereunto.

What remaineth yet to be spoken on this subject has respect unto these
two ensuing propositions: — 1. All the effects of the offices of
Christ, internal, spiritual, and eternal, in grace and glory, — all
external fruits of their dispensation in providence towards the church
or its enemies, — are wrought by divine power; or are the effects of
an emanation of power from God. They are all wrought "by the exceeding
greatness of his power," even as he wrought in Christ himself when he
raised him from the dead, Ephesians 1:19. For all the outward works of
God, such as all these are, which are wrought in and for the church,
are necessarily immediate effects of divine power, — nor can be of
another nature. 2. Upon supposition of the obedience of Christ in this
life, and the atonement made by his blood for sin, with his exaltation
thereon, there is nothing in any essential property of the nature of
God, — nothing in the eternal, unchangeable law of obedience, — to
hinder but that God might work all these things in us unto his own
honor and glory, in the eternal salvation of the church and the
destruction of all its enemies, without a continuance of the
administration of the offices of Christ in heaven, and all that sacred
solemnity of worship wherewith it is accompanied.

These things being certain and evident, we may inquire thereon, whence
it is that God has ordered the continuation of all these things in
heaven above, seeing these ends might have been accomplished without
them, by immediate acts of divine power.

The great "works of the LORD are sought out of them that have pleasure
in them," <19B102> Psalm 111:2. This, therefore, being a great work of
God, which he has wrought and revealed unto us, especially in the
effect and fruit of it, and that for the manifestation of his wisdom
and grace, it is our duty to inquire into it with all humble
diligence; "for those things which are revealed belong unto us and our
children," that we may do the will of God for our good. Wherefore, —
(1.) God would have it so, for the manifestation of his own glory.
This is the first great end of all the works of God. That it is so is
a fundamental principle of our religion. And how his works do glorify
him is our duty to inquire. The essential glory of God is always the
same, — eternal and immutable. It is the being of God, with that
respect which all creatures have unto it. For glory adds a supposition
of relation unto being. But the manifestations of his glory are
various, according to the pleasure of his will. Wherefore, that which
he chooseth to manifest his glory in and by at one time, he may cease
from using it unto that end at another; for its being a means of the
manifestation of his glory may depend on such circumstances, such a
state of things, which being removed, it ceaseth to be. So of old he
manifested and represented his glory in the tabernacle and temple, and
the holy pledges of his presence in them, and was glorified in all the
worship of the Law. But now he ceaseth so to do, nor is any more
honored by the services and ceremonies of religion therein prescribed.
If the whole structure of the temple and all its beautiful services
were now in being on the earth, no glory would redound unto God
thereby, — he would receive none from it. To expect the glory of God
in them would be a high dishonor unto him. And God may at any time
begin to manifest his glory by such ways and means as he did not
formerly male use of unto that purpose. So is it with all Gospel
ordinances: which state will be continued unto the consummation of all
things here below, and no longer; for then shall they all cease, God
will be no more glorified in them or by them. So has God chosen to
glorify himself in heaven by this administration of all things in and
by Jesus Christ; whereunto also there is an end determined.

And in the continuance of this holy worship in the sanctuary above,
God does manifest his glory on many accounts, and resteth thereto.
First, he does it in and unto the saints who departed this life under
the Old Testament. They came short in glory of what they now enter
into who die in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. For — not to
dispute about nor determine positively, what was their state and
condition before the ascension of Christ into heaven, or what was the
nature of the blessed receptacle of their souls — it is manifest that
they did not, they could not, behold the glory of God, and the
accomplishment of the mystery of his wisdom and will, in Jesus Christ;
nor was it perfectly made known unto them. Whatever were their rest,
refreshment, and blessedness, — whatever were their enjoyments of the
presence of God; yet was there no throne of grace erected in heaven, —
no High Priest appearing before it, — no Lamb as it had been slain, —
no joint ascription of glory unto him that sits on the throne, and the
Lamb, for ever; God "having provided some better thing for us, that
they without us should not be made perfect." See Ephesians 3:9,10.

This was that, and this was that alone, so far as in the Scripture it
is revealed, wherein they came short of that glory which is now
enjoyed in heaven. And herein consists the advantage of the saints
above them, who now die in faith. Their state in heaven was suited
unto their faith and worship on the earth. They had no clear, distinct
knowledge of the incarnation and mediatory office of Christ by their
revelations and services; only they believed that the promise of
deliverance, of grace and mercy, should be in and by him accomplished.
Their reception into heaven — that which they were made meet and
prepared for by their faith and worship — was suited thereunto. They
had a blessed rest and happiness, above what we can comprehend; for
who knows what it is to be in the glorious presence of God, though at
the greatest distance? They were not immediately surprised with an
appearance of that glory which they had no distinct apprehensions of
in this world. Neither they nor the angels knew clearly either the
sufferings of Christ or the glory that should ensue. But they saw and
knew that there was yet something farther to be done in heaven and
earth, as yet hid in God and the counsels of his will, for the
exaltation of his glory in the complete salvation of the church. This
they continued waiting for in the holy place of their refreshment
above. Faith gave them, and it gives us, an entrance into the presence
of God, and makes us meet for it. But what they immediately enjoyed
did not in its whole kind exceed what their faith directed unto. No
more does ours. Wherefore they were not prepared for a view of the
present glory of heaven; nor did enjoy it. But the saints under the
New Testament, who are clearly instructed by the gospel in the
mysteries of the incarnation and mediation of Christ, are, by their
faith and worship, made meet for an immediate entrance into this
glory. This they long for, this they expect and are secured of, from
the prayer of our Savior, — that they be, when they leave this world,
where he is, to behold his glory.

But now, upon the entrance of Christ into the heavenly sanctuary, all
those holy ones were admitted into the same glory with what the saints
under the New Testament do enjoy. Hereon with open face they behold
the use and end of those typical services and ordinances wherein these
things were shadowed out unto them. No heart can conceive that
ineffable addition of glory which they received hereby. The mystery of
the wisdom and grace of God in their redemption and salvation by
Christ was now fully represented unto them; what they had prayed for,
longed for, and desired to see in the days of their flesh on the
earth, and waited for so long in heaven, was now gloriously made
manifest unto them. Hereon did glorious light and blessed satisfaction
come into and upon all those blessed souls, who died in the faith, but
had not received the promise, — only beheld it afar of. And hereby did
God greatly manifest his own glory in them and unto them; which is the
first end of the continuation of this state of things in heaven. This
makes me judge that the season of Christ's entrance into heaven, as
the holy sanctuary of God, was the greatest instance of created glory
that ever was or ever shall be, unto the consummation of all things.
And this as for other reasons, so because all the holy souls who had
departed in the faith from the foundation of the world, were then
received into the glorious light of the counsels of God, and knowledge
of the effects of his grace by Jesus Christ.

Want of a due apprehension of the truth herein has caused many,
especially those of the Church of Rome, to follow after vain
imaginations about the state of the souls of the faithful, departed
under the Old Testament. Generally, they shut them up in a
subterranean limbus, whence they were delivered by the descent of
Christ. But it is contrary unto all notions and revelations of the
respect of God unto his people — contrary to the life and nature of
faith — that those who have passed through their course of obedience
in this world, and finished the work given unto them, should not
enter, upon their departure, into blessed rest in the presence of God.
Take away the persuasion hereof, and the whole nature of faith is
destroyed. But into the fullness of present glory they could not be
admitted; as has been declared.

Moreover, God hereby manifests his glory unto the holly angels
themselves. Those things wherein it does consist were hid in himself
even from them, from the foundation of the world, — hidden in the holy
counsels of his will, Ephesians 3:9. Wherefore unto these
"principalities and powers in heavenly places the manifold wisdom of
God was made known by the church," verse 10. The church being redeemed
by the blood of Christ, and himself thereon exalted in this glory,
they came to know the "manifold wisdom of God" by the effects of it;
which before they earnestly desired to look into, 1 Peter 1:12. Hereby
is all the glory of the counsels of God in Christ made conspicuous
unto them; and they receive themselves no small advancement in glory
thereby. For in the present comprehension of the mind of God, and
doing of his will, does their blessedness consist.

Heaven itself was not what it is, before the entrance of Christ into
the sanctuary for the administration of his office. Neither the saints
departed nor the angels themselves were participant of that glory
which now they are. Neither yet does this argue any defect in heaven,
or the state thereof in its primitive constitution; for the perfection
of any state has respect unto that order of things which it is
originally suited unto. Take all things in the order of the first
creation, and with respect thereunto heaven was perfect in glory from
the beginning. Howbeit there was still a relation and regard in it
unto the church of mankind on the earth, which was to be translated
thither. But by the entrance of sin all this order was disturbed, and
all this relation was broken. And there followed thereon an
imperfection in the state of heaven itself; for it had no longer a
relation unto, or communion with, them on earth, nor was a receptacle
meet for men who were sinners to be received into. Wherefore, by the
"blood of the cross," God "reconciled all things unto himself, whether
they be things in earth, or things in heaven," Colossians 1:20, — or
gathered all things into one in him, "both which are in heaven, and
which are on earth," Ephesians 1:10. Even the things in heaven so far
stood in need of a reconciliation, as that they might be gathered
together in one with the things on earth; the glory whereof is
manifested in this heavenly ministration. And the apostle affirms that
the "heavenly things themselves" were purified by the sacrifice of
Christ, Hebrews 9:23. Not that they were actually defiled in
themselves, but without this purification they were not meet for the
fellowship of this mystery in the joint worship of the whole society
in heaven and earth, by Jesus Christ. Hence, therefore, there is a
continual manifestation of the glory of God unto the angels
themselves. They behold his manifold wisdom and grace in the blessed
effects of it, which were treasured up in the holy counsels of his
will from eternity. Hereby is their own light and blessedness
advanced, and they are filled with admiration of God, ascribing
praise, honor, and glory unto him for evermore; for the beholding of
the mystery of the wisdom of God in Christ, which is here so despised
in the dispensation of the gospel, is the principal part of the
blessedness of the angels in heaven, which fills them with eternal
delight, and is the ground of their ascribing praise and glory unto
him for evermore.

This is that manifestative glory wherewith God satisfieth himself,
until the end determined shall be. On the account hereof he does and
will bear with things in this world, unto the appointed season. For
whilst the creation is in its present posture, a revenue of glory must
be taken out of it for God; and longer than that is done it cannot be
continued. But the world is so full of darkness and confusion, of sin
and wickedness, of enmity against God, — is so given up to villany,
unto all the ways whereby God may be dishonored, — that there is
little or no appearance of any revenue of glory unto him from it. Were
it not on the secret account of divine wisdom, it would quickly
receive the end of Sodom and Gomorra. The small remnant of the
inheritance of Christ is shut up in such obscurity, that, as unto
visible appearance and manifestation, it is no way to be laid in the
balance against the dishonor that is done unto him by the whole world.
But whilst things are in this posture here below, God has a solemn
honor, glory, and worship above, in the presence of all his holy ones;
wherein he resteth and takes pleasure. In his satisfaction herein he
will continue things in this World unto all the ends of his wisdom,
goodness, righteousness, and patience, let it rage in villainy and
wickedness as it pleaseth. And so, when any of the saints who are
wearied, and even worn out, with the state of things in this world,
and, it may be, understand not the grounds of the patience of God, do
enter into this state, they shall, unto their full satisfaction,
behold that glory which abundantly compensates the present dishonor
done to God here below. (2.) This state of things is continued for the
glory of Christ himself. The office of Mediator was committed by God
the Father unto his onlybegotten Son, — no other being able to bear or
discharge it. See Isaiah 9:6; Revelation 5:1-5. But in the discharge
of this office it was necessary he should condescend unto a mean and
low condition, and to undergo things difficult, hard, and terrible,
Philippians 2:6-8. Such were the things which our Lord Jesus Christ
underwent in this world; — his undergoing of them being necessary unto
the discharge of his office; yea, it consisted therein. Herein was he
exposed unto reproach, contempt, and shame, with all the evils that
Satan or the world could bring upon him. And besides, he was, for us
and in our stead, to undergo the "curse of the law," with the greatest
of terror and sorrows in his soul, until he gave up the ghost.

These things were necessary unto the discharge of his office, nor
could the salvation of the church be wrought out without them. But do
we think that God would commit so glorious an office unto his only Son
to be discharged in this manner only? Let it be granted that after he
had so accomplished the will of God in this world, he had himself
entered into glory; yet if he should so cease the administration of
his office, that must be looked on as the most afflictive and dolorous
that ever was undergone. But it was the design of God to glorify the
office itself; as an effect of his wisdom, and himself therein; yea,
so as that the very office itself should be an everlasting honor to
his Son as incarnate. Unto this end the administration of it is
continued in glory in his hand, and he is exalted in the discharge of
it. For this is that glory which he prays that all his disciples may
be brought unto him to behold. The time between his ascension and the
end of all things is allotted unto the glory of Christ in the
administration of his office in the heavenly sanctuary. And from hence
does the apostle prove him, "as a high priest," to be far more
glorious than those who were called unto that office under the law,
Hebrews 8:1-3. Herein it is manifest unto angels and men, how glorious
a thing it is to be the only king, priest, and prophet of the church.
Wherefore, as it behaved Christ, in the discharge of his office, to
suffer; so, after his sufferings in the discharge of the same office,
he was to enter into his glory, Revelation 1:18. (3.) God has respect
herein unto those who depart in the faith, in their respective
generations, especially those who died betimes, as the apostles and
primitive Christians. And sundry things may be herein considered. [1.]
There are two things which believers put a great price and value on in
this world, and which sweeten every condition unto them. Without them
the world would be a noisome dungeon unto them, nor could they be
satisfied with a continuance therein. The one is the service of

Without an opportunity of being exercised herein, they could not abide
here with any satisfaction. They who know it not so to be, are under
the power of worldly-mindedness. The meanest service of Christ has
refreshment in it. And as to those who have opportunities and
abilities for great instances of service, they do not know on just
grounds, nor are able to determine themselves, whether it be best for
them to continue in their service here below, or to enter into the
immediate service of Christ above; — so glorious, so excellent is it
to be usefully serviceable unto the Lord Jesus. So was it with the
apostle, Philippians 1:21-26; — so may it be with others, if they
serve him in the same spirit, with the same sincerity, though their
ability in service be not like unto his. For neither had he anything
but what he received. Again, they have the enjoyment of Christ in the
ordinances of Gospel worship. By these means do they live, — in these
things is the life of their souls. In this state of things God will
not call them hence unto their loss; he will not put an end unto these
privileges, without an abundant recompense and advantage. Whatever we
enjoy here, yet still to depart hence and to be with Christ shall be
far better, Philippians 1:23. For, — 1st , although service here below
shall cease, and be given over unto other hands who are to have their
share herein; yet, on the continuance of this state of things in
heaven, there is also a continuation of service unto Christ, in a way
inexpressibly more glorious than what we are in this life capable of.
Upon their admittance into this state of things above, they are before
the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he
that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them, Revelation 7:15.
The whole state of the glorious worship of God before described is
here respected; and herein is a continual service performed unto him
that sits on the throne, and unto the lamb. Wherefore it is so far
from being loss, in being called off from service here below, as that,
in point of service itself, it is an inconceivable advancement. 2ndly
, The enjoyment of Christ in and by the ordinances of his worship, is
the immediate fountain and spring of all our refreshments and
consolations in this world, Psalm 87:7; but what is it unto the
blessed immediate enjoyment of him in heaven! Hence the blessedness of
the state above is described, by being with Christ, being with Christ
forever in the presence and immediate enjoyment of him. The light of
the stars is useful and relieving in a dark night as we are on our
way; but what are they when the sun ariseth! Will any man think it a
loss that, upon the rising of the sun, they shall not enjoy their
light any more, though in the night they knew not what to have done
without it? It may be we cannot conceive how it will be best for us to
forego the use of sacraments, ministry, and the Scripture itself. But
all the virtue of the streams is in the fountain; and the immediate
enjoyment of Christ unspeakably exceeds whatever by any means we can
be made partakers of here below.

In this blessed state have the holy apostles, all the primitive
martyrs and believers, from the time of their dissolution, enjoyed
full satisfaction and solace, in the glorious assembly above,
Revelation 7:15-17, etc [2.] Hereby there is a continuation of
communion between the church triumphant above and that yet militant
here below. That there is such a communion between glorified saints
and believers in this world, is an article of faith. Both societies
are but one church, one mystical body, have one Head, and a mutual
concernment in each other. Yea, the spring and means of this communion
is no small part of the glory of the gospel. For, — before the saints
under the Old Testament had the mystery of the glory of God in Christ,
with our redemption thereby, revealed unto them, in the way before
declared, — the communion was very obscure; but we are now taken into
the light and glory of it, as the apostle declares, Hebrews 12:22-24.

I know some have perverted the notions of the communion unto
idolatrous superstition; and so have all other truths of the gospel
been abused and wrested, unto the destruction of the souls of men; —
all the Scriptures have been so dealt withal, 2 Peter 3:16. But they
deceived themselves in this matter, — the truth deceiveth none. Upon a
supposition of communion, they gathered that there must of necessity
be an immediate communication between them above and us below. And if
so, they knew no way for it, no means of it, but by our praying unto
them, and their prayer for us. But they were under the power of their
own deceivings.

Communion does not require immediate mutual communication, unless it
be among persons in the same state, and that in such acts as wherein
they are mutually assisting and helpful unto one another. But our
different states will admit of no such intercourse; nor do we stand in
need of any relief from them, or can be helped by any acts of their
love, as we may aid and help one another here below. Wherefore the
center of this communion is in Christ alone and our exercise of it is
upon him only, with respect unto them.

Yet hereon some deny that there is any such communion between the
members of the church or the mystical body of Christ in these diverse
states. And they suppose it is so declared in that of the prophet,
Isaiah 63:16, "Doubtless thou art our Father, though Abraham be
ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not." But there is nothing
of any such importance in these words. The church, under a deep sense
of its present state, in its unworthy walking and multiplied
provocations, profess themselves to be such, as that their forefathers
in covenant could not own them as their children and posterity in the
faith. Hereupon they appeal unto the infinite mercy and faithfullness
of God, which extend themselves even unto that condition of
unworthiness which was enough to render them utterly disowned by the
best of men, however otherwise concerned in them. But to suppose the
church above, which has passed through its course of faith and
obedience in afflictions, tribulations, and persecutions, to be
ignorant of the state of the church here below in general, and
unconcerned in it, — to be without desires of its success,
deliverance, and prosperity, unto the glory of Christ, — is to lay
them asleep in a senseless state, without the exercise of any grace,
or any interest in the glory of God.

And if they cry for vengeance on the obdurate persecuting world,
Revelation 6:10, shall we suppose they have no consideration nor
knowledge of the state of the church suffering the same things which
they did themselves? And, to put it out of question, they are minded
of it in the next verse by Christ himself, verse 11.

But that which at present I alone intend, is the joint communion of
the whole church in the worship of God in Christ. Were all that die in
the Lord immediately received into that state wherein God "shall be
all in all," — without any use of the mediation of Christ, or the
worship of praise and honor given unto God by him, — without being
exercised in the ascription of honor, glory, power, and dominion unto
him, on the account of the past and present discharge of his office, —
there could be no communion between them and us. But whilst they are
in the sanctuary, in the temple of God, in the holy worship of Christ
and of God in him, and we are not only employed in the same work, in
sacred ordinances suited unto our state and condition, but, in the
performance of our duties, do by faith "enter in within the veil," and
approach unto the same throne of grace in the most holy place, there
is a spiritual communion between them and us.

So the apostle expresseth it, Hebrews 12:22-24. [3.] It is the way
that God has appointed to prepare the holy souls above for the
enjoyment of that eternal state which shall ensue at the end of all
things As we are here, in and by the Word and other ordinances,
prepared and made meet for the present state of things in glory; so
are they, by the temple-worship of heaven, fitted for that state of
things when Christ shall give up the kingdom unto the Father, that God
may be all in all. (4.) Respect is had herein unto the faith of the
church yet militant on the earth, and that, among others, in two
things. 1st , For the encouragement of their faith. God could, as we
have observed, upon the supposition of the atonement and
reconciliation made by the blood of Christ, have saved the church by
mere sovereign act of power.

But whereas it was unto his glory that we should be saved in the way
of faith and obedience, this way was necessary unto our encouragement
therein. For it is in the nature of faith, it is a grace suited unto
that end, to seek for and receive aid, help, and relief, from God
continually, to enable us unto obedience.

For this end the Lord Christ continueth in the discharge of his
office, whereby he is able to save us unto the uttermost, that we may
receive such supplies by and from him. The continual use that faith
makes of Christ unto this purpose, as he gloriously exerciseth his
mediatory office and power in heaven, cannot fully be declared.
Neither can any believer, who is acted by present Gospel light and
grace, conceive how the life of faith can be led or preserved without
it. No duties are we called unto, — no temptation are we exercised
withal, — no sufferings do we undergo, — no difficulties, dangers,
fears, have we to conflict withal, — nothing is there in life or
death, wherein the glory of God or our own spiritual welfare is
concerned, — but faith finds and takes relief and encouragement in the
present mediatory life and power of Christ in heaven, with the
exercise of his love, care, and compassion therein. So he proposeth
himself unto our faith, Revelation 1:17,18. 2ndly , That our faith may
be guided and directed in all our accesses unto God in his holy
worship. Were nothing proposed unto us but the immensity of the divine
essence, we should not know how to make our approaches unto it. And
thence it is that those who are unacquainted with the glory of this
dispensation, who know not how to make use of Christ in his present
state for an access unto God, are always inventing ways of their own
(as by saints, angels, images) for that end; for an immediate access
unto the divine essence they cannot fancy. Wherefore, to end this
discourse in one word, — all the present faith and worship of God in
the church here on earth, all access unto him for grace, and all
acceptable ascriptions of glory unto his divine majesty, do all of
them, in their being and exercise, wholly depend on, and are resolved
into, the continuation of the mediatory actings of Christ in heaven
and glory.

I shall close this discourse with a little review of somewhat that
passed before. From the consideration of that place of the apostle
wherein he affirms, that at the end Christ shall give up the kingdom
unto the Father, I declared that all the state of things which we have
described shall then cease, and all things issue in the immediate
enjoyments of God himself. I would extend this no farther than as unto
what concerneth the exercise of Christ's mediatory office with respect
unto the church here below, and the enemies of it. But there are some
things which belong unto the essence of this state which shall
continue unto all eternity; as, — 1st , I do believe that the person
of Christ, in and by his human nature, shall be for ever the immediate
head of the whole glorified creation. God having gathered all things
unto a head in him, the knot or center of that collection shall never
be dissolved. We shall never lose our relation unto him, nor he his
unto us. 2ndly , I do therefore also believe, that he shall be the
means and way of communication between God and his glorified saints
for ever. What are, what will be, the glorious communications of God
unto his saints for ever, in life, light, power, joy, rest, and
ineffable satisfaction, (as all must be from him unto eternity,) I
shall not now inquire. But this I say, they shall be all made in and
through the person of the Son, and the human nature therein. That
tabernacle shall never be folded up, never be laid aside as useless.
And if it be said, that I cannot declare the way and manner of the
eternal communications of God himself unto his saints in glory by
Christ; I shall only say, that I cannot declare the way and manner of
his communications of himself in grace by Christ unto the souls of men
in this world, and yet I do believe it. How much more must we satisfy
ourselves with the evidence of faith alone in those things which, as
yet, are more incomprehensible. And our adherence unto God, by love
and delight, shall always be through Christ. For God will be conceived
of unto eternity according to the manifestation that he has made of
himself in him, and no otherwise. This shall not be by acting faith
with respect unto the actual exercise of the mediation of Christ, as
now we cleave unto God; but it shall be by the all-satisfying acting
of love unto God, as he has manifested himself, and will manifest
himself in Christ. 3rdly , The person of Christ, and therein his human
nature, shall be the eternal object of divine glory, praise, and
worship. The life of glory is not a mere state of contemplation.
Vision is the principle of it, as faith is of the life of grace. Love
is the great vital acting of that principle, in adherence unto God
with eternal delight. But this is active in it also. It shall be
exercised in the continual ascription and assignation of glory,
praise, and honor unto God, and the glorious exercise of all sorts of
grace therein; — hereof the Lamb, the person of Christ, is the eternal
object with that of the Father and the Spirit; the human nature in the
Son, admitted into the communion of the same eternal glory.