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he love thee or no.' This is a course of flesh's finding out, that will never bring glory to God, nor peace to thy own soul. Lay down then thy reasonings; take up the love of the Father upon a pure act of believing, and that will open thy soul to let it out unto the Lord in the communion of love.
To make yet some farther improvement of this truth so opened, and exhorted unto as before; it will discover unto us the eminency and privilege of the saints of God. What low thoughts soever the sons of men may have of them, it will appear that they have meat to eat that the world knows not of: they have close communion and fellowship with the Father. They deal with him in the interchange of love. Men are generally esteemed according to the company they keep. It is an honour to stand in the presence of princes, though but as servants. What honour then have all the saints, to stand with boldness in the presence of the Father, and there to enjoy his bosom love. What a blessing did the queen of Sheba pronounce on the servants of Solomon, who stood before him, and heard his wisdom. How much more blessed then are they, who stand continually before the God of Solomon, hearing his wisdom, enjoying his love? Whilst others have their fellowship with Satan, and their own lusts, making provision for them, and receiving perishing refreshments from them (whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things'), they have this sweet communion with the Father.
Moreover; what a safe and sweet retreat is here for the saints, in all the scorns, reproaches, scandals, misrepresentations which they undergo in the world. When a child is abused abroad in the streets by strangers, he runs with speed to the bosom of his father; there he makes his complaint, and is comforted. In all the hard" censures, and tonguepersecutions which the saints meet withal in the streets of the world, they may run with their moanings unto their father, and be comforted. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you, saith the Lord;' Isa. lxvi. 13. So that the soul may say, if I have hatred in the world, I will go where I am sure of love though all others are hard to me,
t Isa. xxvi. 20.
· Εμπαιγμῶν πεῖραν ἔλαβον. Heb. xi. 36. Ονειδισμοῖς θεατριζόμενοι. Heb. x. 53.
yet my father is tender and full of compassion; I will go to him, and satisfy myself in him. Here I am accounted vile, frowned on, and rejected, but I have honour and love with him, whose kindness is better than life itself. There I shall have all things in the fountain, which others have but in the drops; there is in my father's love, every thing desirable; there is the sweetness of all mercies in the abstract itself, and that fully and durably.
Evidently, then, the saints are the most mistaken men in the world. If they say,* Come and have fellowship with us; are not men ready to say, Why, what are you? a sorry company of 'seditious, factious, persons: be it known unto you, that we despise your fellowship; when we intend to leave fellowship with all honest men, and men of worth, then will we come to you. But alas! how are men mistaken? truly, their fellowship is with the Father: let men think of it as they please, they have close, spiritual, heavenly refreshings, in the mutual communication of love with the Father himself. How they are generally misconceived, the apostle declares; 2 Cor. vi. 8-10. As deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, yet well known; as dying, and behold we live ; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing all things.' And as it is thus in general, so in no one thing more than this, that they are looked on as poor, low, despicable persons, when indeed they are the only great and noble personages in the world. Consider the company they keep, it is with the Father; who so glorious? the merchandise they trade in, it is love; what so precious? Doubtless they are the excellent on the earth; Psal. xvi. 3.
Farther; This will discover a main difference between the saints and empty professors. As to the performance of duties, and so the enjoyment of outward privileges, fruitless professors often walk hand in hand with them: but now come to their secret retirements, and what a difference is there? there the saints hold communion with God; hypocrites, for the most part, with the world and their own lusts, with them they converse and communicate: they hearken what they will say to them, and make provision for them: when the saints are sweetly wrapt up in the bosom of their
1 John i. 3.
y Acts xvii. 6. xxviii. 22.
Father's love. It is oftentimes even almost impossible that believers should, in outward appearance, go beyond them who have very rotten hearts: but this meat they have which others know not of; this refreshment in the banqueting house wherein others have no share; in the multitude of their thoughts, the comforts of God their Father refresheth their souls.
Now then (to draw towards a close of this discourse) if these things be so, 'what manner of men ought we to be, in all manner of holy conversation?' even our God is a consuming fire.' What communion is there between light and darkness? Shall sin and lust dwell in those thoughts which receive in, and carry out love, from and unto the Father? Holiness becometh his presence for ever. An unclean Spirit cannot draw nigh unto him; an unholy heart can make no abode with him. A lewd person will not desire to hold fellowship with a sober man : and will a man of vain and foolish imaginations, hold communion and dwell with the most holy God? There is not any consideration of this love but is a powerful motive unto holiness and leads thereunto. Ephraim says, What have I to do any more with idols? when in God he finds salvation. Communion with the Father is wholly inconsistent with loose walking. 'If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth;' 1 John i. 6. He that saith I know him (I have communion with him), and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;' chap. ii. 4. The most specious and glorious pretence made to an acquaintance with the Father, without holiness and obedience to his commandments, serves only to prove the pretenders to be liars. The love of the world and of the Father, dwell not together.
And if this be so (to shut up all), how many that go under the name of Christians come short of the truth of it? How unacquainted are the generality of professors, with the mystery of this communion, and the fruits of it? Do not many very evidently hold communion with their lusts and with the world, and yet would be thought to have a portion and inheritance among them that are sanctified? They have neither new name nor white stone, and yet would be called the people of the Most High. May it not be said of many of
them, rather that God is not in all their thoughts, than that they have communion with him? The Lord open the eyes of men that they may see and know that walking with God is a matter not of form, but power. And so far of peculiar communion with Father, in the instance of love which we have insisted on. He is also faithful who hath called us to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord;' of which in the next place.
Of the fellowship which the saints have with Jesus Christ the Son of God. That they have such a fellowship proved. 1 Cor. i. 9. Rev. iii. 20. Cant. ii. 1-7. opened. Prov. ix. 1—5.
OF that distinct communion which we have with the person of the Father, we have treated in the foregoing chapters; we now proceed to the consideration of that which we have with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Now the fellowship we have with the second person, is with him as mediator, in that office whereunto by dispensation he submitted himself for our sakes, being made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons;' Gal. iv. 4, 5. And herein I shall do these two things:
1. Declare that we have such fellowship with the Son of God.
2. Shew wherein that fellowship or communion doth consist.
1. For the first, I shall only produce some few places of Scripture to confirm it, that it is so. 1 Cor. i. 9. God is faithful by whom ye were called to the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.' This is that whereunto all the saints are called, and wherein by the faithfulness of God they shall be preserved, even fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord. We are called of God the Father, as the Father, in pursuit of his love, to communion with the Son, as our Lord.
Rev. iii. 20. Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me." Certainly this is fellowship, or I know not what is; Christ will sup with believers, he refreshes himself with his own graces in them, by his Spirit bestowed on them. The Lord Christ is exceedingly delighted in tasting of the sweet fruits of the Spirit in the saints. Hence is that prayer of the spouse that she may have something for his entertainment when he cometh to her. Cant. iv. 16. Awake, O north-wind, and come thou south, blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out, let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.' The souls of the saints are the garden of Jesus Christ, the good ground; Heb. vi. 7, 8. A garden for delight; he rejoices in them; his delights are with the sons of men ;' Prov. viii. 31. ' and he rejoices over them ;' Zeph. iii. 17. And a garden for fruit, yea, pleasant fruit; so he describes it, Cant. iv. 12-14. A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse, a spring shut up, a fountain sealed; thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates with pleasant fruits, camphire with spikenard, spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh, and aloes; with all chief fruits.' Whatever is sweet and delicious for taste, whatever savoury and odoriferous, whatever is useful and medicinal, is in this garden. There is all manner of spiritual refreshments of all kinds whatever, in the souls of the saints for the Lord Jesus. On this account is the spouse so earnest in the prayer mentioned for an increase of these things, that her beloved may sup with her as he hath promised. Awake, O north-wind,' &c. Oh that the breathings and workings of the Spirit of all grace, might stir up all his gifts and graces in me, that the Lord Jesus, the beloved of my soul, may have meet and acceptable entertainment from me. God complains of want of fruit in his vineyard, Isa. v. 3. Hos. x. 1. want of good food for Christ's entertainment, is that the spouse feared, and labours to prevent. A barren heart is not fit to receive him. And the delight he takes in the fruit of the Spirit is unspeakable. This he expresses at large, Cant. v. 1. 'I am come,' saith he, I have eat, I am refreshed. He calls it the fruit of
a John xiv. 23.