Christ is the Life of Believers
"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." Colossians 3:1-4
The apostle tells them that their "life is hidden with Christ in God." These saints might object: but when shall that hidden life be revealed? when shall that life of glory be manifested? He answers in the text: "When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." The words do speak out the time when the glorious life of believers shall be manifested, and that is, when Christ shall appear in glory. I have observed from these words this point—namely, that the Lord Jesus Christ is the life of believers.
"When Christ, who is your life, shall appear." Life here is, by a metonym, put for the author of life.
Jesus Christ is first the author of a believer's spiritual life. In the 14th of John, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life," (ver. 6.)
Secondly, Jesus Christ, he is the matter of a believer's spiritual life: in John 6:48, "I am the bread of life." The original has it more elegantly—"I am the bread of that life," that is, of that spiritual life of which before the Lord Jesus Christ had spoken.
Thirdly, Jesus Christ is the exerciser and actor of the spiritual life of believers: John 15:5, "Without me you can do nothing." The original is, separate from me, or apart from me, you can do, etc.
Fourthly, The Lord Jesus Christ, he is the strengthener and the cherisher of a believer's spiritual life, Psalm 138:3, "In the day when I cried, you answered me, and strengthened me with strength in my soul."
Lastly, The Lord Jesus Christ, he is the completer, he is the finisher of the spiritual life of a saint, Heb. 12:2; Phil. 1:6.
Is the Lord Jesus Christ a believer's life? Why, then–this serves to bespeak all believers not to repent of anything they have done, or suffered, or lost, for the Lord Jesus. Oh, is the Lord Jesus Christ a believer's life? Why, then–let no believer be disquieted, nor overwhelmed and dejected, for any loss or for any sorrow or suffering that he meets with for the Lord Jesus Christ's sake. What a base and unworthy spirit is it, for a man to be troubled and disquieted for anything that he shall do or suffer for his own natural life! Oh, Jesus Christ is your life; do not say this mercy is too dear for Christ, nor that comfort is too great for Christ. Christ is the life of a believer: what will you not do for your life? The devil hit it right when he said, "Skin for skin, and all that a man has will he give for his life." Oh, what should a man then do for Jesus Christ, who is his life! You noble hearts in this sad loss, remember this, that Christ is a believer's life; Christ is that glorious champion's life. Therefore be not overwhelmed, for doubtless he is now triumphing in the love, in the light, in the goodness, and in the glory of him who is his life. Let the sense of this sad loss kindly affect you—but let it not discourage you.
But, secondly–Is the Lord Jesus Christ a believer's life? Why, then–this serves to bespeak all believers highly to prize the Lord Jesus. Oh, it is this Christ, who is your life; it is not your husband, it is not your child, it is not this or that thing; neither is it this ordinance or that that, which is a believer's life. No! it is the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the author, who is the matter, who is the exerciser, who is the strengthener, who is the completer–of a believer's life.
You prize great ones; the Lord Jesus Christ is great—he is King of kings, and Lord of lords. You prize others for their wisdom and knowledge–the Lord Jesus has in himself all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, Col. 2:3. You prize others for their beauty–the Lord Jesus Christ is the most beautiful of ten thousand, Cant. 5:10. You prize others for their usefulness–the Lord Jesus Christ is the right hand of a believer, without which he can do nothing. The believer may say of Christ as the philosopher said of the heavens, Take away the heavens, and I shall be nobody; so take away Jesus Christ, and a believer is nobody—nobody to perform any action, nobody to bear any affliction, nobody to conquer corruption, nobody to withstand temptation, nobody to improve mercies, nobody to joy in others' grace. Oh, prize Jesus Christ!
Again, Consider the Lord Jesus Christ highly prizes you; you are as the apple of his eye; he accounts you his fullness; you are his jewels; therefore prize him who sets such a high price on you. But I hasten to my main point—
In the last place, Remember a Christ highly prized–will be Christ gloriously obeyed. As men prize the Lord Jesus Christ–so they will obey him. The great reason why Jesus Christ is no more obeyed–is because he is no more prized. Men look upon him as a person of no worth, no dignity, no glory; they make slight of him, and that is the reason they are so poor in their obedience to him. Oh, if men did but more divinely prize Christ, they would more purely, and more fully, and more constantly obey him. Let this bespeak all your hearts highly to prize the Lord Jesus, who is your life.
But I shall pass from this, to that main point which I desire to speak to: "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall you appear also with him in glory." The observation that I shall speak to at this time is–that believers shall at last, appear glorious.
It is a very choice point, and a useful point, in order to the present providence. I shall not be long in the doctrinal part, because the application is what I have my eye most upon. The scriptures which speak of this truth I will but name them; at your leisure you may read them: Judges 15:14; 1 Cor. 15:43-44, 51-55; 1 Thes. 4:13, seq.; Mat. 19:26-28. These scriptures clearly speak out this truth, that the people of God shall at last, appear glorious.
The REASONS why they shall appear glorious, are these which follow. They shall appear glorious—
1. First of all, because that day is the day of the marriage-day of the Lamb. I may allude to Rev. 19:6-8. It is true, believers in this life, they are spiritually married to the Lord Jesus—but this marriage is not celebrated until this day, when the saints shall appear in their glory. God the Father has put off the celebration of this glorious marriage to this last day, when believers' mourning attire shall be taken off, and their glorious robes shall be put on; when God himself shall, as a Father, be more fully and gloriously present among all his children; where as he shall have all his attendants visible, I mean his angels, which now are not visible, in that spiritual marriage between his Son and believers.
2. A second reason that believers at last shall appear glorious, is this–because they shall all appear at the last as KINGS crowned! Here believers are kings elected—but at that last day they shall all appear as kings crowned. Here believers have a crown promised—but at the last they shall have a crown in possession; the Lord himself will set it upon their heads: 2 Tim. 4:7-8, "I have fought the good fight of faith, I have finished my course; henceforth is laid up for me"—the Greek word is "safely laid up"—"a crown of glory which he shall give me at that day." I have now, says he, a crown promised—but at that day I shall have it in possession; then it shall be set upon my head, and then angels and devils and murderers shall say, "Lo! here is the man who God is pleased to honor!"
3. Then a third reason why believers at the last shall appear glorious–is for the terror and the horror of all ungodly wretches who have opposed, persecuted, and murdered them. They shall appear glorious for the greater torment of such ungodly souls. Oh, there is nothing which will make sinners in that great day more to tear their hair, to beat their breasts, to wring their hands, and to gnaw their own hearts, than this–when they shall behold those advanced and those appearing in their glory, whom they have slighted, and despised, and most treacherously persecuted, here below. I doubt not but there are some base, unworthy persecuters here—but let them know that there is a day coming when the saints shall appear in glory, and then the persecuted ones shall appear–to the terror, horror, and confusion of these murderous wretches who have brought the guilt of their blood upon them.
It will be with you and with all ungodly wretches as it was with Haman: he, like an ungodly wretch, had plotted and contrived the destruction of the Jews; he had sold them, as it were, to bondage, tyranny, and slavery—but the Lord wheels things gloriously around, and Haman comes to the king, and says the king to him, "What shall be done to the man whom the king is pleased to honor?" Says he, "Let the king's horse be brought, and glorious robes put on him, and let the chief nobles of the kingdom lead him and proclaim before him–Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king is pleased to honor." "Go," says the king, "and do thus to Mordecai!" But mark, (Esther 6: 11), "So Haman got the robe and the horse. He robed Mordecai, and led him on horseback through the city streets, proclaiming before him, "This is what is done for the man the king delights to honor!" But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief." This is but an emblem of the punishment of wicked men, when they shall behold the saints of God, his glorious worthy ones, in their glory at this great day. Then shall they, with Haman, have their heads covered in grief, which was a sign of shame and confusion of face.
And it will be with all such ungodly wretches as it was with Belshazzar: Dan. 5:5-6, "Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his knees knocked together and his legs gave way." Just thus shall it be with ungodly wretches, who oppose and murder and destroy the righteous ones. Oh! when they shall see them in glory—as when he saw the handwriting, his countenance was changed, his thoughts were troubled, his loins were loosed, and his knees dashed against one another—thus shall it be when the saints shall appear in glory! They at last shall appear glorious–to the terror, horror, and inexpressible confusion of all ungodly, bloody wretches!
4. A fourth reason why they shall appear glorious at last, is, because their glorious appearance at the last will make much for the honor and glory of the Lord Jesus.The more glorious the body is–the more it makes for the glory of the head: the more glorious the bride is–the more it makes for the glory of the bridegroom: for the glory of his power, wisdom, fullness, and goodness; and therefore they shall appear glorious.
5. Then, again, they shall appear glorious at the last day, that there may be some suitableness between the head and the members. Oh, what an unlovely thing would it be to see the head to be all of fine gold, and the hands of iron, and the feet of clay! What an unlovely thing would it be to see the bridegroom in all his glorious apparel, and the bride in her rags, or her mourning dress! The Lord will have it so, that his people at last shall appear glorious, that they may be suitable to their glorious head, unto their precious bridegroom!
It is true, when Christ came first, he came clothed with flesh, and was looked upon as one who had no beauty or loveliness, that men should desire him, Isaiah 53:2-3. And such a state was the church in to whom he came. Oh! but now when he shall appear "the second time, without sin, to salvation," then he shall appear glorious; and so shall all his saints, that there may be a suitableness between the members and the head, between the bride and bridegroom.
6. And then, again, another reason why believers shall appear glorious, is, because that is the very time wherein the most wicked shall justify the goodness and mercy of God in his dealings towards his own people. Oh, many say with those in Job 21:15, "Who is the Almighty, that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?" It is a strong affirmation that there is no profit. They are ready to say, when they look upon the sorrows, miseries, and evils which attend the saints in this wilderness–"Who have so many miseries, as Christians do? It is madness and folly to live holily as they live, and to do righteously as they do!" Isaiah 59:15, "Truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey!" Oh, the world accounts them a company of crazy, foolish people, who refrain from evil. But God will have his people at last appear glorious, that the mouths of ungodly wretches may be stopped, that they may justify God in his goodness and mercy towards his own people. When they shall see those who they accounted monsters and fools of the world, men not worthy to live in the world, when they shall see crowns set on their heads, and glorious robes put on their backs, oh how will ungodly men gnash their teeth, and say, "Oh! we thought them fools and madmen, who thus served God, and walked with God—but now we see that we ourselves are the only fools, the only mad ones, who have turned our backs on God, and kicked at God, and that have said, "It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty?" Malachi 3:14. Therefore the saints shall appear glorious at the last.
7. Then, the last reason why they shall appear glorious, is, because they shall be employed about glorious work. 1 Cor. 6:2-3, "Know you not that the saints shall judge the world?" Nay, he goes higher, "Know you not that the saints shall judge the angels?" There is a day coming when the saints shall judge the world. They shall be employed in a glorious work. Therefore they shall appear glorious; for the work in which they shall be employed shall be glorious. They shall sit as so many fellow-judges with the Lord Jesus Christ, to say Amen to the righteous sentence that Christ shall pass upon all treacherous and bloody murderers. O ungodly souls, the day is coming when those who now you have persecuted, murdered, and destroyed, they shall sit upon thrones and shall judge you; they shall say Amen to that glorious sentence that Christ at the last day shall pass upon you. There is a day coming when all those who have rejoiced in the fall of this worthy man, and those treacherous wretches who had a hand in this unparalleled butchery, when they shall hold up their hands at the bar of God's tribunal. There is a day a-coming when the saints shall appear glorious, to pass a righteous sentence upon such unrighteous, bloody wretches. That is another reason why they shall appear in glory, because they shall be employed in a glorious service, in judging the wicked world, however they have been scoffed at and despised here.
The PRACTICAL APPLICATION of this point is the main thing I shall speak to. Is it so that the saints at last shall appear glorious?
1. First, This serves to bespeak the people of God to BE glorious. Oh, that you would strive to be glorious now, who at last shall appear so glorious! Oh, that your words might be more glorious, that your thoughts of God might be more glorious, that your conversations might be more glorious, that your actings towards God and man might be more glorious! The day is coming, O blessed souls, where as you shall appear glorious! Oh, that you would labor now to shine in glory, who at the last shall transcend the sun in glory! But I shall hasten to that which I chiefly intend, and that is this: Is it so that believers at last shall appear glorious? Then,
2. Second, This serves to bespeak all believers to DO gloriously while you are here, for you shall appear glorious. In this I shall endeavor these three things—
First, To lay down some motives to move you to do gloriously here, who shall appear glorious in heaven.
Secondly, We shall show when a man may be said to do gloriously.
Thirdly, I shall lay down some directions and helps to enable you while you are here to do gloriously; and so proceed to other things that remain.
1. For the first, to motivate you to do gloriously, methinks here is a motive–that at last you shall be glorious. But to engage you a little, consider these four or five things to move you to do gloriously—
[1.] First, Consider the Lord has done already very gloriously for you; therefore do you gloriously for God. God has done very gloriously for you. He has made your ugly inside glorious, and he has made your ugly outside glorious: Psalm 45:13, "The king's daughter is all glorious within, and her raiment is of embroidered gold." God has pardoned you gloriously, God has justified you gloriously, God has fenced you against corruption gloriously, God has strengthened you against temptations gloriously, God has supported you under afflictions gloriously, God has delivered you from the designs and plots of treacherous, murderous wretches, gloriously and frequently. Oh, how should this engage all Christians to do gloriously for God, that has already done gloriously for them!
[2.] But then, in the second place, To move you to do gloriously, consider that the greatest part of the world does basely and wickedly against God; therefore you have the more cause to do gloriously for God. 1 John 5:19, "The whole world," says he, "lies in wickedness," in malignity. The world lies in troublesomeness. The word signifies a desire, a study and endeavor to work wickedness, a working wickedness; and in such a wickedness the world lies, and the greatest part of the great ones of this world do basely and wickedly against God. Oh the treachery and apostasy, oh the neutrality and impiety, oh the facing about of the great ones of this age! O believers, you had need to do gloriously, for great and small, honorable and base, do treacherously; and therefore this should engage you to do more gloriously. Oh, the more base and vile any are, the more glorious should the saints be!
[3.] Then, in the third place, Consider this, the more gloriously you do for God here, the more glorious you shall be hereafter. Suffering saints for Christ shall have weighty crowns set upon their heads. Murdered saints for Christ shall have double crowns set upon their heads. The more gloriously any man does for Christ here, the more glorious that man shall be hereafter: 2 Cor. 9:6, "As a man sows, so shall he reap. He who sows sparingly shall reap sparingly—but he who sows liberally shall reap liberally." 2 John 8, "Look to yourselves, that you lose not the things you have wrought—but that you receive a full reward." There is a reward in Scripture, and a full reward. The more glorious any soul is in doing for God here, the more glorious that soul shall be hereafter: Mat. 19:27-28, "We have forsaken all, and followed you; what shall we have? Truly," says Christ, "you who have done this, shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
Look! Christians, the more gloriously any man does for God here, the more comfort and peace and joy that man has on this side heaven, which is but a pledge of that happiness, of that glorious good and sweetness that the soul shall have when he shall appear in his glory. It is not the slight Christian, the light, loose, talking Christian, who has much joy and peace, and the most full discoveries of God here—but the most glorious-doing Christian, the most acting soul; and the more gloriously any man does for God here, the more joy and peace and comfort he shall have, which is but a pawn of that glorious joy and goodness which at last he shall receive.
[4.] And then, fourthly, To move you to do gloriously for God, you who shall be glorious at the last, consider this, the greatest part of your TIME you have spent foolishly and in ways of vanity against God. Oh, that time which is left to spend gloriously, it is very, very little. This should bespeak you to do gloriously for God that little, little time which is allotted you. The apostle has one argument—1 Peter 4:3, 7 compared, "For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do–living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry." "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray." He tells them that the greatest part of their time was spent vainly; and in ver. 7 he tells them that the time behind was short. Upon this consideration he presses them to do glorious things in the latter part of ver. 6, "But live according to God," oh what is that but to live gloriously, to do gloriously?
[5.] Then, lastly, Consider this to move you to do gloriously for God: if you do not gloriously for God, none in the world can do gloriously for God; if you do not, none in the world will. Consider this, you who are believers. Of all people in the world, you have the greatest cause to do gloriously for God; for God has done more for you than for all the world besides. You have not only the greatest cause to do gloriously for God—but you have the choicest principles to enable you to do gloriously for God—as knowledge, and wisdom, and power, and faith, and zeal. And as you have the choicest principles, so you have the sweetest experience to engage you to do gloriously for God. How has God knocked at your doors when he has passed by the doors of thousands! How has free grace greeted you, when wrath has broken forth upon thousands of others! How has God dandled you on his knee, when he has trampled others under his feet! What is this but to engage you to do gloriously for God? If you do not, none in the world will do gloriously. And what a sad thing it is that God should make a world, and not a soul in the world to do gloriously for God, that has made such a glorious world! So much by way of motive to move you to do gloriously.
2. The second thing I am to speak of is, WHEN a man may be said to do gloriously?
1. A soul may be said to do gloriously, first, when their doing lies level with the glorious rule of Scripture. Those thoughts are glorious thoughts which are suitable to the glorious rule of Scripture, and those words are glorious words which are suitable to the glorious rule of Scripture, and those actions towards God and man are glorious actions which are suitable to the glorious rule of Scripture. But this is too general.
2. Therefore, secondly, and more particularly, men do gloriously when they do such things that others refuse to do, that others have no heart to do, that others are afraid to do for God. Oh, to do this is to do gloriously. As David, when he engaged with Goliath, he did gloriously; others were afraid to do it, others had no heart to do it. Just so, when men engage for God when others are afraid to engage, when others dare not engage, they shall lose the smiles of this man, and procure the frowns of that man; they say, "there is a lion in the way!!"
Just so, men turn off the work. "It is too hard," says one. "It is too high, it is too rough, it is too dangerous," say others. Now to do gloriously is to do that which others refuse to do, and which others have not hearts to do.
3. And then, in the third place, men do gloriously when they hold on in the way of God, and in the work of God, notwithstanding all discouragements that befall them. When men serve their generation, notwithstanding the discouragements which do or may befall them, rain or shine, let men smile or frown, do what they will against them or their actions—yet for a soul to hold on and to serve his generation, against all, and notwithstanding all the reproaches and dirt and scorn and contempt which is thrown on them–is to hold on in the way of God; this is to do gloriously.
It was the glory of the church: Psalm 44:17-18, "All this happened to us, though we had not forgotten you or been false to your covenant. Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path." Oh, you have a generation that pretends much for God while they may gain by the bargain, honor and riches and great places and the like—but when God brings them through the valley of darkness, that they meet with discouragements and difficulties, they throw away the bucklers, and will be no more for God—but fire about, and prove treacherous to church and kingdom.
It was the glory of David, and it was a glorious speech of his in Psalm 57. Says David, ver. 4, 6, "I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts– men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords. They spread a net for my feet– I was bowed down in distress. They dug a pit in my path." Mark, what was the courage of this worthy one? He met with discouragements. Does he grow treacherous, and give back? No! "My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed." The word that is here rendered "fixed," is a signifies firm, constant, and established; and he doubles it, "my heart is firm, constant, and established," even then when his soul was among lions. He does not now play the apostate and shake hands with the ways of God. No. But "my heart is fixed." Now a man does gloriously when he keeps to God and his truth, and serves his generation, notwithstanding all discouragements which are thrown upon him.
I need not tell you what discouragements this noble champion met with from malignant pens, spirits, and tongues—but through all God carried out his spirit that he was able to do his master's work and to serve his generation, until he had finished that work that God had for him to do.
It is nothing for a man to serve his generation when he has wind and tide on his side, and all the encouragements that the heart of man can desire—but it is the glory of a Christian, and then he does gloriously, to be faithful in his generation against all discouragements. Though your soul may be among lions, and you live among those who are set on fire, as the psalmist speaks—yet say as he says in that psalm, "Our heart is fixed, our heart is fixed in God, we will sing and give praise." Fixed stars are most useful, and so are fixed souls to church and state.
4. Then in the fourth place, Men may be said to do gloriously, when the end of their doings is the glory of God and the general good. O Christians, now you do gloriously. Those spirits will never do gloriously, who make themselves the end of their actions, who make the advancing of any particular interest the end of their actions. This is not to do gloriously. Christians do gloriously, when the glory of God and the general good is the end of all their doings. But if it be yourselves, to save your own necks, and to advance your own designs, and to bring in this and that, these are base, unworthy actions, and God will so demonstrate them before angels and men. To do gloriously is to make the glory of God and the general good the end of all your doings. Then you do gloriously indeed, when you can center and rest in the glory of God and the general good. It is a base and unworthy spirit when men make themselves the end of their actions, and the advancing of such or such a particular interest the end of their actions, and not the glory of God and the general good of his people.
5. And then again, fifthly, Men do gloriously when they rejoice under the sufferings which befall them for Christ: not only to bear sufferings—but to rejooice under sufferings, to rejoice under all afflictions and troubles that may befall them for Jesus Christ. Just so, the apostle, 2 Cor. 12:10, says he there, "I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in afflictions–for Christ." The original word that is rendered "I take pleasure," is an emphatic word. It signifies the infinite delight and contentment he took in the afflictions and persecutions which befell him. It is the same word that God the Father uses to express his unexpressible delight in his Son: Mat. 3:17, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased," or rather, as the original has it more elegantly, "This is my Son, my beloved, in whom I am infinitely delighted and contented." The same word the apostle uses to express his delight in afflictions and persecutions for Christ.
Just so, those in Acts 5:41, "They went away rejoicing that they were accounted worthy to suffer for Christ." O Christians, this is to do gloriously, for a man to rejoice that he has an estate to lay out for Christ, that he has a life to lay down for Christ, that he has a tongue to speak for Christ, that he has a hand to fight for Christ. This is to do gloriously, to rejoice in anything we suffer for Christ, and in all sorts of sufferings and doings for Christ.
6. Then again, Men do gloriously, mark this, when they appear for the people of God, and side with the people of God, notwithstanding any evil and danger which may befall them. Come whatever difficulties can come—yet they will appear for the people of God, and side with the people of God. This is to do gloriously, when come whatever difficulties can come–I will fall in with the saints, and be one with those who are one with God. As Esther, when they were in a sad condition, and Haman had sold them to be butchered and mangled by ungodly wretches: "Well, I will go to the king," says she, though there was a command that none should, "I will venture my life; if I perish, I perish." Now she did gloriously. Just so, Nehemiah: "Shall such a man as I flee?" Shall I desert the saints, and turn my back on the saints? No! I will appear for them, and side with them, I will not desert them. Just so, David's father and his brethren: 1 Sam. 22:1, "David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and his father's house heard it, they went there to him." They did not stand disputing: "We have estates to lose, and if Saul knows that we join with David, and have taken part with him, we shall lose our heads, and lose our estates."
The politicians of our times are wise: they will say they wish the saints well—but they dare not, they will not side with them. Ah, wretches! God will save his glory and the honor of his name, and will deliver the righteous, and leave such to deliver themselves. God can shift well enough for his honor and for his people, and leave such wretches in a shiftless condition. Just so, good Onesiphorus: Paul speaks of some, 2 Tim. 1:13-14, etc., who played the apostates; ver. 15, "This you know, that all they who are in Asia are turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes." They played the apostates, and left him to shift for himself. When he was in trouble they fall away. But Onesiphorus, he stands by Paul, and the apostle commends it for a glorious cause, and commends him in a particular manner to God: "Oh, that God would double his mercy on him; the Lord grant that he may find mercy from the Lord in that day; and in how many things he ministered unto me you know; and he was not ashamed of my chains." There were base spirits, who were ashamed of his chains, that were ashamed to side with and to own Paul; and this world is full of such base spirits. Now this is to do gloriously—for a man to appear and side with the saints, let whatever trouble come, which will come of it. Thus Moses did very gloriously: Heb. 11:25, "He chose rather to suffer afflictions with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season." But ah! Lord, in how few hearts does this brave spirit of Moses breathe!
O noble hearts, would you do gloriously? To do gloriously is to appear for the saints, and to side with the saints, let the outcome be what it will. Oh, it is a sad and a base thing in those who have appeared for and sided with the saints—but now face about and prove treacherous, and leave the poor saints to shift for themselves! But it is their comfort that they have a God who will shift for his people and his own glory. And as Mordecai said to Esther, chapter 4:14, "If you will not stir, the Lord will bring deliverance to his people some other way." So if parliament-men, and those who have power, do not appear and side with the saints, deliverance will come another way—but they and their father's house may perish. And therefore remember to do gloriously is to appear for them; and not to appear for the saints is to betray them, and so it shall be brought in on the day of account.
7. Then again, in the next place, To do gloriously is to do justice, and that impartially. Then men do gloriously when they do justice impartially upon high and low, honorable and common, father and son, kinsman and brother; and not to dispute, "this is a near kinsman, and that is my father, and the other is my brother, and that the one is too great and the other is too mean for justice," this is inglorious. The basest and unworthiest spirits on earth cannot do more basely; there is nothing of the power of the Spirit or heavenly gallantry in such. It is said, Psalm 106:30-31, "Then stood Phinehas, and executed judgment: so the plague was stayed. And that was accounted to him for righteousness to all generations forever." Oh this executing of justice impartially, how it makes the names of people to live from generation to generation! If so be that the powers of this world would have their names immortal, so engraved that they should never be wiped out, let them do justice. This is that Phinehas was admired for; it was "accounted to him for righteousness, to all generations for evermore."
8. And then, lastly, Men do gloriously when they believe the promise and rest on the promise, notwithstanding that providence seems to cross the promise. It is nothing–it is not to do gloriously–for a man to believe, and to love, and the like, when the promise is made good, when God is a-smiling and in a-giving way—but to do gloriously is to believe the promise, to stay upon the promise, when providence in our apprehension crosses the promise.
In this respect, Abraham did very gloriously; he believed the promise though providence seemed to cross the promise. "I will give you a son," says God. Abraham was old, and Sarah was stricken in years; and yet Abraham believed, and this was such a glorious piety as God has put it upon record. This faith of Abraham so takes God, that he swears with joy, Gen. 13:16-17, "That in blessing I will bless you."
So it was with Moses: Num. 10:29, "And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses' father-in-law, We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it to you: come with us, and we will do you good; for the Lord has spoken good concerning Israel." Mark, what could he promise in the wilderness, where the Lord exercised those poor wretches with judgment upon judgment, with misery upon misery, and one calamity upon the neck of another? Moses was confident in the promise of God, that God would do Israel good, and he adventured to engage Hobab on that consideration; "Come along with us; the Lord has spoken good, and we will do you good." I am confident, though providence crosses the promise, and God seems to be angry, and to chide, and frown, and strike, and destroy—yet he will make good his promise, and "we will do you good." Oh, this is to do gloriously, to believe the promise when providence crosses it.
Do you see heaven frown, and things to work contrary to those promises which respect the joy, glory, liberty, and the exaltation of the saints? Does providence work contrary to the promise? Now do gloriously, believe the promise, rest in the promise; let heaven and earth meet, devils and men combine; let men play the apostates, and prove treacherous–I will rest on the promise, suck sweetness from the promise. Though all providences seem to be contrary to it, and God seems to work contrary to it, I will say, "I will stay upon the promise!" This is to do gloriously. Just so, much for the second thing.
3. Ay—but some souls will say, we see we shall be glorious, and we are willing to do gloriously; and we see reasons why we should do gloriously—but what DIRECTIONS and HELPS are there that we may do gloriously?
First, If you will do gloriously, there are some things that you must be careful to take HEED of.
Secondly, There are others which you must labor to practice.
[1.] If you will do gloriously, seeing hereafter you shall be glorious, in the first place, whatever you do, take heed of UNBELIEF. There is nothing in the world which more hinders men from doing gloriously, than unbelief. All other miscarriages and weaknesses have not such an influence upon the heart, to hinder it from doing gloriously, as unbelief. As it is said of Christ concerning them in Mat. 13:58, "He did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief."
Unbelief, as it were, tied the hands of Christ—"He could not do many mighty works because of their unbelief." If men would do glorious things, take heed of that: unbelief ties the tongue; it causes an insensitivity to fall upon the heart, and binds the hands, that a man has no tongue to speak for Christ, nor heart to act for Christ, nor hand to strike for Christ. Unbelief spoils all the strength and power by which we should be serviceable to God. What water is to fire–that unbelief is to the soul; therefore as you would do gloriously, take heed of unbelief.
[2.] Secondly, As you must take heed of unbelief, so, if you would do gloriously, consult neither with the tempting nor with the persecuting WORLD. What hinders many men from doing gloriously—but consulting with the tempting or the persecuting world? This has overthrown many. Nay, what hinders men in our age from doing gloriously? They are consulting with flesh and blood, with the tempting world and the frowning world. This hinders men from doing gloriously. I cannot believe but if parliament-men, and others in power and authority, did not look too much upon the tempting world when she smiles and holds forth her beautiful breasts; upon the ugly face of the world when it frowns and threatens—but that they would act more gloriously for God, and for the general good, and for the advancing of the name of the Most High God, in these days we live in.
[3.] If you would do gloriously, look away from the tempting world: it is a plague and a snare; and look off from the frowning world, it will discourage you; consult not with flesh and blood, with carnal reason. Looking upon the tempting or the frowning world will dampen the most gallant spirits in the world, and hinder them from doing any noble service for God or his saints. And therefore, as ever you would do gloriously, look not on the tempting or on the persecuting world; look not upon it when it smiles or when it frowns—but remember you have a God to look at, a Christ to look at, and an unfading crown of glory to look at; which is better than all–which is more than all other things to your souls.
[4.] Then, again, If you would do gloriously, whatever you do, take heed of base, selfish ends, take heed of self-love. There is nothing under heaven that will disable a man more from doing gloriously, than a base spirit of self-love; such a man will never do gloriously. It may be, when he has the wind and tide on his side, he may do something that vain men may account glorious—but this man will never do that which God and the saints call glorious, and count glorious. That base, selfish spirit, that looks no higher nor no further than self, it will never do gloriously. It may be fit for treachery, neutrality, and apostasy—but never to do gloriously.
Now as you must avoid these things so that you may do gloriously, in the next place, here are some things which you must labor to PRACTICE:
[1.] First, Labor for internal, experimental and spiritual knowledge of God. Oh, there is a great deal of notional knowledge in the world! but if men did know God experimentally, if they did know God more in the mystery and light of the Spirit, if they did know God more from union and communion with God–it would be impossible for them not to do more gloriously. That is a brave text: Daniel 11:32, "And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall be corrupted by flatteries." Mark the latter words, "but the people who know their God shall be strong, and do exploits." Oh! take one who knows God experimentally, mystically, and spiritually, from union, and from being taken into heavenly communion with God–and he will act bravely and strongly for God.
Alas! take a Christian that has merely sucked in notions, and is only able for discourse—but has no internal experimental knowledge of God, you shall never find him doing exploits–doing glorious things for God and his saints. No! "the people who know God,"—he speaks of the internal, experimental and spiritual knowledge of God—and thus to know him will enable a man to do exploits, to do glorious things. Oh, if God would raise up parliament-men, and men in the army, and in the city, and round the kingdom, to more internal and experimental knowledge, to more spiritual acquaintance with himself–we would find that they would do abundantly more gloriously. But it is for lack of an internal, experimental and spiritual knowledge of God–that men are treacherous, and base, and unfaithful, and prove apostates and worthless. As you would do glorious and honorable things, look to this–that you have an internal knowledge and spiritual acquaintance with God, and this will enable you to do exploits.
[2.] And, then, If you would be enabled to do gloriously, in the second place, you should look upon those examples and worthies that have gone before you, and have done gloriously. Just so, the apostle, Heb. 12:1, when he would press them to do gloriously, he presses them into the consideration of those glorious worthies who had gone before: "Having therefore such a cloud of witnesses, let us run with patience the race which is set before us," chapter 12:1. Look to the cloud of witnesses, in chapter 11; that is another means to help us to do gloriously.
[3.] Another is this, If you would do gloriously, then keep your evidences for glory always bright and shining; do not soil your evidences for glory. What made them take joyfully the "confiscation of their goods," Heb. 10:34—but this, that they knew in themselves that they had in heaven a better and more enduring substance? When a man's evidence is bright, that he can run and read his title to heaven, his interest in God, and the glory above, then will he be strong to do exploits; this will enable a man to do gloriously.
[4.] Then, again, If you would do gloriously, look to faith; give faith scope, give it elbow-room to work. Faith is a noble grace, and will ennoble the soul to do gloriously for God. Faith is that which will carry a man over all difficulties; faith will untie all knots. Faith will carry a man through the valley of darkness, though it be ever so long. Faith will carry a man over mountains of difficulties, though they be ever so high. Faith will not plead "there is a lion in the way," and that such and such men will frown if I do this or that for God and the general good. Faith will carry a man bravely over all.
In Hebrews 11, you have several instances of the saints doing gloriously. But what enabled them? It is all along attributed to faith. By the power of faith they did gloriously: they stopped the mouths of lions; they turned to flight the armies of the aliens; they waxed valiant in fight; they refused to be delivered,—and all by the power of faith. Oh! faith will enable men to do gloriously. If parliament-men, and men in the army, and in the city, and round the kingdom, did believe more gloriously, they would do more gloriously for God, in their relations and places, than now they do. It springs from lack of faith–that things work thus basely. Did men believe more gloriously, things would work more gloriously. Therefore, when things work crossly, blame not so much this or that instrument—but blame your own unbelieving heart; for glorious faith will see a smiling Father beyond a dark cloud. "Though men are at a loss—yet God is not at a loss," says faith. "And though the arm of man be weak, His arm is strong," says faith. "And though the work be too hard for the arm of flesh, too hard for an army or parliament, it is not too hard for God," says faith. Faith carries a man gloriously through all. If you would do gloriously, abound in faith, let faith have elbow-room. I shall say no more of this. Though there be other directions, I will rather leave them.
3. Is it so, that the saints shall be glorious? Then this serves, in the next place, by way of use, for singular COMFORT and CONSOLATION. Shall the saints at last appear glorious? It speaks singular comfort to all believers, against all the reproaches, and contempt, and scorn which they may meet with in this world. What though you are scorned, and one says this, and another says that? Here is your comfort–you shall appear glorious. What though this worthy man's body is mangled here and there by bloody butchers? yet this body shall appear glorious at the last. What a singular comfort is it! The apostle makes the same use from the same consideration: 1 Thes. 4:15-17, "We who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." Oh, comfort yourselves with this consideration–that he shall appear glorious at last, with the rest of the glorious renowned saints!
This may comfort us against all reproaches, and scorns, and contempts that men throw upon us! And what though the glory of the saints is now hidden by prevailing distempers, and afflictions, and poverty? yet here is your comfort–the day is coming when your glory will break out, when your rags shall be taken off, and your glorious robes put on, when God will wipe away all the dirt and filth that has been thrown on you by vain spirits. Therefore bear up, brave hearts! There is a day coming when you shall appear glorious, and it will be but as a day before that day overtakes you.
Then, again, If the saints at the last shall appear glorious, then it bespeaks all, in the last place, to long for that day! You shall at the last appear in glory. Oh then long for that day; cry out with the church, "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly!" Cry out again with the church in Solomon's Song, 8:14, "Make haste, my beloved;" or as the original has it, "Flee away speedily, my beloved, and be like a roe or a young deer upon the mountains of spices."
Will you remember these two things, to engage you to be much in longing for this day, wherein the saints shall appear in glory. Divers things might be said—but I shall reduce all to two things.
Firstly, Until this day–your happiness will not be complete, therefore long for it. Until the saints shall appear glorious, all will be incomplete; your comforts, your graces, your enjoyment of God, and of that glory that he has provided. Until this glorious day your glory will be incomplete; therefore long for the day wherein all shall be complete.
Secondly, Until then–the innocency of the saints shall not be fully cleared. Oh long for that day wherein the saints shall appear in glory, for until then the innocency of the saints shall not be fully cleared. Now I say, the devil and wicked men throw much dirt on them, and reproach and revile them, and what not, and something of that will stick—but let this bespeak all such to long for that day wherein all dirt, scorn, and filth shall be wiped off, wherein God will clear the righteousness, integrity, and innocency of his saints. Therefore seeing the saints shall appear glorious, be not discouraged, however you appear in the world to the eye of men. Now you are strangers, far from your Father's house—but it will be but as a day before the trumpet sound and the angels shall gather you, before the robes of glory shall be put on, and your mourning weeds shall be taken off, and the glorious crowns put on your heads, and your happiness shall be complete. Long for this day; for this will be a day indeed of refreshing from the Lord. I shall say no more to this point—but earnestly desire that God would please to make it take impression on your spirits. The saints shall appear glorious. Oh let it be our glory, while we are here, so to walk as those who expect to appear glorious another day!
As for this thrice-honored champion now in the dust: for his enjoyment of God, from my own experience, being with him both at sea and land, I have abundance of sweetness and satisfaction in my own spirit, which to me exceedingly sweetens so great a loss. I shall not speak of the wife's loss, nor the brother's loss, nor the army's loss; for the loss of this worthy is a loss to the kingdom, and if they are not in a sad, sinful sleep, they will say so. And, indeed, it is with me, I ingenuously confess, as it was with him who, when he was demanded what God was; he desired three days' consideration to give an answer, and when those days were expired, three more; and then he gives this answer, "That the more he thought of him, the further he was from discovering of him." The more I think of the gallantry and worth of this champion, the further off I am from discovering his worth. I think he was one of whom this sinful nation was not worthy; he was one of whom this declining parliament was not worthy; he was one of whom those divided, formal, carnal, gospellers was not worthy. He served his generation faithfully, though he died by the hand of treachery. I am fully satisfied, with many more, that he is now triumphing in glory; and it will be but as a day before he shall see his enemies stand at the bar. For my own part, I can truly say that, to the best of my memory and understanding, I have not observed that the hearts of the people of God have been so generally and eminently affected with the loss of any worthy, as with the loss of this worthy; no, not for any worthy that has fallen since the sword was drawn, though many precious worthies have fallen upon the ground; which strongly speaks out the love of the people of God to him, and their honorable esteem of him. They honored him in his life, and they showed great respect to him in death. He was a joy to the best of men, and a terror to the worst of men. But for my part I would rather choose, I sincerely confess, if it were possible, to weep over him with tears of blood, than to trouble you further with relating his gallant service for the good of this sinful kingdom.
We will cease from saying anything more of him, and sit down satisfied and joying in this–that the day is coming when the saints shall appear glorious; and with that we will refresh and cheer our spirits as with a cordial, that there is a day coming when we with this deceased worthy shall appear glorious. And it will be but as a day before our royal robes shall be put on our backs, and crowns set on our heads. I am now done; and so shall commend you "to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified," [Acts 20:32.]