THE HARMONY OF THE
DIVINE ATTRIBUTES DISPLAYED, IN THE
REDEMPTION AND SALVATION OF SINNERS BI JESUS CHRIST.
This Sermon was preached on the Sabbath evening, immediately after the administration of the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper at Dumfermline, September, 29th, 1723.
“Mercy and Truth are met together, Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other.” Psalm 85:10
My friends, at a solemn marriage‑supper, there is usually a friendly company that meets together; and when at such an occasion, all things are managed with sobriety and decency, it is very heart-some and pleasant to the parties concerned, to see the members of the meeting with mutual kindness to one another, harmoniously gracing the solemnity: even so at the marriage supper of the Lamb; I mean, the sacrament of the Lord’s supper, which we have been celebrating, there is a heartsome company, not of men and women, for that would make but a poor earthly meeting; nor yet of saints and angels, for that would make but at best a mean‑creature meeting; but it is a glorious heartsome company of divine attributes and perfections, in the sweetest concord, meeting together, and embracing one another. This wonderful conjunction of divine excellencies, is the friendly company that meets together, to put honour upon this nuptial solemnity: and to see them thus harmoniously embracing one another in the salvation of sinners, is the sweetest sight, that the bride, the Lamb’s wife, shall ever see at the marriage‑supper, whether it be at the lower or upper table.
There is a great meeting in this house, but an infinitely greater in this text: a meeting of divine excellencies, to grace the assembly of the marriage‑supper of the Lamb: Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” When God made heaven and earth out of nothing, he made them by a word, without any other ceremony; but when he made man, there was some particular solemnity, a grand council, as it were, of the glorious Trinity called; “Come let us make man after our own image.” But now, man having unmade himself, if God hath a mind for the praise of his own glorious grace to make him up again, by a new creation in Christ Jesus, there must be a more glorious solemnity, yet; not only a council of the adorable Trinity, but a grand meeting of all the attributes of God, to consult their own glory that was marred, and reconcile their own interests, and seemingly contradicting claims; for the sin of man had brought real confusion among all the creatures of God on earth; yea, and a seeming war among all the attributes of God in heaven, concerning the execution of the sentence of the law upon mankind, the transgressor thereof. Some of these attributes, such as Mercy, saying, If the sentence of death be not execute upon them, how shall I be glorified? Others, such as Truth, saying, If the sentence be not executed, how shall I be glorified? Is it to be expected that such opposites can meet together? Or if they meet, they will agree together cordially? Yea, though it be beyond the expectation of men and angels, yet, behold, it is here celebrated with song, “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
This psalm consists of a prayer of faith and an answer of peace. First, The church’s prayer, from the beginning to the 8th verse, where they are praying for the removal of many tokens of God’s displeasure they were under, notwithstanding of their return out of the Babylonish captivity. Secondly, The answer of peace that is made to their prayer, from verse 8th and downward. We have here the psalmist listening and waiting for the answer; “I will hear what God the Lord will speak.” The answer itself in general is peace; “He will speak peace to his people and to his saints.” If he give not outward peace, yet he will suggest inward peace; speaking that to their hearts by his Spirit, which he had spoken to their ears by his word, whatever other sort of peace and prosperity they enjoyed; when at length the children of captivity, after a great deal of toil, had gained a settlement in their own land, yet peace with God, and prosperity under the Messiah’s kingdom, was the great thing here promised, and prophesied of; and that is a peace that lays the soul under the strongest obligation to stand aback from all sin, which is the greatest folly, and to beware of backsliding thereto; but let them not return again to folly: For true peace with God brings in war with sin. But this is further explained in the main leading part thereof, namely, salvation and glory, verse 9, “Surely his salvation is near to them that fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.” Now, whatever other salvation be here imported, Christ is the great salvation intended; when he is near in view, then the believer cries out with old Simeon, “Now mine eyes have seen thy salvation:” and whatever other glory and honor be here imported, Christ is the chief glory intended; when he goes away from a land, then Ichabod, the glory is departed: but where he abides, glory dwells; for he is called, “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of his people Israel.” But now, if we would know what sort of glory it is that appears when Christ is revealed; why, it is even the glorious harmony of all the divine attributes illustriously shining in him, who is both our salvation and our glory: “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Now, though these words may be applied to the happy meeting of graces in men, upon the revelation of Christ in the soul, which I may afterwards notice in the sequel, and in which sense some interpreters understand it, yet I take it mainly to import the happy meeting of perfections in God, to be, glorified in the sinner’s salvation by Jesus Christ; which is a gloss that no interpreter I have had occasion to consult does neglect or omit: and if any of them should miss it, I think they would miss the very ground‑work and foundation of all other happy meetings; “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
In the words you may notice, 1. The members of the meeting. 2. The manner of the meeting. 3. The harmony of the meeting. 4. The strangeness of it.
1. Notice, I say, first, the members of the meeting: Mercy, Truth, Righteousness, Peace. I hope I need not caution some in this assembly that they beware of imagining these various perfections of God under the names of Mercy, Truth, Righteousness, and Peace, as if they were really distinct and different parties, making a formal consultation, in order to their agreement: for God is one, and cannot be divided; he is one infinite, eternal, and unchangeable Being: there are not distinct and different things in his nature and essence, however his perfections be thus represented to our weak, finite capacities, which cannot understand the perfections of God, but in several parts, as it were. By mercy, then, here we are to understand God himself, as he is a merciful and gracious God. By Truth we are to understand the same God, as he is a true and faithful God. By Righteousness we may understand his justice, or God himself, as he is a just and righteous God; and by Peace the same God, as he is the God of peace, and God reconciling the world to himself. So that the whole comes to this, It is the great and eternal God himself consulting with himself in a manner becoming his infinite and adorable perfections, how to glorify himself in all his glorious attributes in the way of saving sinners, in and by Jesus Christ.
2. The manner of the meeting: these excellencies and perfections of God meet together, as it were, in pairs, Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace, going hand in hand to the council-chamber, to concert the matters that concerned their highest glory and honour.
3. The harmony of the meeting; having met together, they kiss and embrace each other. Mercy and Peace, as it were, express their complacency in Truth and Righteousness; and Truth and Righteousness express their complacency in Mercy and Peace, and delight in one another’s honor: for not one attribute of the divine Majesty can, or will be glorified to the dishonor of any other attribute, but mutually embrace each other in their everlasting arms, for supporting the honor of each other’s excellency, with complicated ineffable endearments.
4. The strangeness and remarkableness of this meeting: for, the agreement of these parties met together is the more remarkable, in regard of their jarring and opposite claims: for, that Mercy and Peace should meet together, and agree in favor to save us; and that Truth and Righteousness should meet together, and agree in justice to destroy us, were not so strange and remarkable. And if they had kept such a separate meeting, and remained at variance without meeting together, man had been forever separate from God, and some darling attributes had never been glorified in man’s salvation; our sin and rebellion having in a manner set the attributes of God at such a variance, as nothing else than infinite wisdom could provide a sufficient answer to all their contradictory claims and interests, which behooved to be done, ere the proposal concerning the salvation of any sinner could be gone into. Why, says Mercy, It is my interest that the sinner live and not perish, that I may be magnified, since I have said, that “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy:” well, but, says Truth, It is my interest as a God of truth, that the sinner die, since I have said, that The soul that sinneth shall die:” yea, and says Righteousness, I must join with Truth, and claim the sinner’s damnation, for the advancement of my interest and honor; for I have said, and will not gainsay it, “That I will by no means clear the guilty:” O! but says Peace, I must join in with Mercy, and claim the sinner’s salvation, for advancing my interest, “For I create the fruit of the lips, peace to him that is afar off, and to him that is near.” So there appears to be a war in heaven among infinitely adorable attributes and perfections, where Mercy and Peace are saying, We must have glory in showing undeserved pity on the sinner; and yet Truth and Righteousness are saying, We must have glory in executing the deserved vengeance. And now, O men and angels! will you tell, can these antipodes meet together? Can these jarring‑like attributes of the divine Majesty embrace each other, in the salvation of the sinner, so as to get all their demands answered, and their different interest advanced?—What say you, children of men? Can you devise how these differences can be composed for your own safety’? No, no; human wisdom says, it is not in me. What say ye angels? You that excel in strength and wisdom; can you contrive the reconciliation of these irreconcilable demands? No, no; angelical wisdom says, It is not in me: well, since creature‑wisdom fails, we may address the infinite Wisdom of the Deity, and inquire at a higher hand? Behold, now we have, taken upon us to speak unto the Lord, who are but dust and ashes.—What sayest thou? O infinitely wise Jehovah! can these opposite claims be reconciled to the satisfaction of all parties, and the salvation of the sinner? yea, it is done, it is done; it is done in a crucified Christ, whom we have been remembering at this solemnity; and therefore we may sing this marvelous song upon the back of it, saying, Glory, glory, glory to God, that mercy and truth are met together, and righteousness and peace have embraced each other.
Observation: That in the salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ, the glorious attributes and perfections of God do harmoniously conspire and embrace one another. Or thus, That in Christ crucified, for the redemption of sinners, all the glorious attributes of the divine Majesty do harmoniously conspire, and embrace one another.
When God is well
pleased, no perfection of God is displeased; but God is well pleased in Christ,
and therefore every perfection of his nature is well‑pleased; none of them
displeased or dissatisfied, but all pleased and satisfied to the full, (see
Hosea 2:19,20). This is declared by an audible voice from heaven, saying, “This
is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased,” (Matt. 2:17). And why, even for
the reason you have, (Isa. 43:21). “The Lord is well pleased for his
righteousness sake, he will magnify the law, and make it Honourable.”—We see he
hath brought in a righteousness answering the demands of all that stood in the
way of our salvation. Did divine Truth and Righteousness say, That the
threatening of the law must be executed, so sure as God is true, as well as its
precept intemperate and obeyed? Well, can a Righteousness satisfying both
these, demands, do the business? Yea, says Justice itself, in concert with
Mercy, if there be one righteous man in the
Now, that I may speak to this purpose a little more fully, the method I propose is this,
I. To touch a little at this question, Who are the members of this meeting? or, what are these attributes of God, which do thus harmoniously conspire together, proposing their various claims?
II. I would inquire when and where it is that they meet together and embrace one another.
III. How, and after what manner it is that they meet together, and embrace one another.
IV. Why, or for what reason is it that they have met together, thus harmoniously.
V. Make some application of the subject.
I. I would speak a little of the members of this meeting, or the attributes of God that thus harmoniously conspire together. We need not ask at whose instance this meeting is called; it is at the instance, and by the order of Jehovah, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God; his sovereign will and pleasure resolving, in a manner like himself, to concert with himself; neither need we ask, what is the occasion of the meeting? Why, man had sinned, and all mankind, by their sin was involved under the curse of the law, and wrath of God: and yet God had resolved and decreed, for the glory of his grace and mercy, to save a world of sinners, elect according to the foreknowledge of God. And while Grace, Mercy, and Peace are upon this loving plot of saving sinners, it was fit that Justice, Truth, and Righteousness should be called into the same council, to appeal for their interest, since the proposal of such a salvation of sinners seem to encroach upon their honour, which required the vengeance due to be executed upon the sinner. Well, the meeting being called, compare these glorious perfections, Mercy, Truth, Righteousness, and Peace: Mercy and Peace, full of pity; Truth and Justice, full of fury; which made a seeming controversy in heaven. We may suppose Adam arraigned in the name of all mankind, and standing as a trembling panel; yea, his very tongue chained up in silence, by reason of sin and guilt, sentenced to eternal death, and ready to have sentence execute upon him, and all his posterity.
We may suppose next, the several members of the meeting opening the assembly, by putting in their several claims: and we may notice them in the order of the text.
1. Mercy, being full of pity towards the miserable, comes walking along in the cool of the evening, and meekly craving leave to speak, notwithstanding that Truth and Justice be present at the meeting. It is true, says Mercy, that man path sunned, and just that man should die: but art not thou, O Lord, full of pity and compassion, “The Lord, the Lord God, pardoning iniquity, transgression, and sin?” What though man hath sinned, and is all over besmeared with mire and blood, yet look upon him in love, and destroy not the work of thy own hand: he was made a child after thy own image, though now his garment be rent and all bloody: yet see, is not this thy son’s coat? Joseph is gone, and wilt thou lose Benjamin also? Angels are gone, and shall men be lost also? Myriads of angels are fallen, and that irrecoverably, and shall men perish also? O spare him, is he not a little one, and his soul shall live. I see, might Mercy say, that Truth and Righteousness, or Justice, which have the poor sinner in their chains, are here present, ready to speak in this assembly, for their interest and honor, against the criminal: but let it be marked in the minutes of this court that Mercy craves to be magnified, and must have honor at this meeting. Well, Mercy having spoken her mind,
2. Truth comes in, naked and with open mouth, in favor of God’s faithfulness, and in opposition to man’s perfidy and treachery, saying, I have heard what Mercy craves in favor of this criminal; but, O thou faithful and true God: the word is gone out of thy mouth, and there is no revoking it: thou hast said to Adam, “In the day thou eatest thou shalt surely die:” and now he hath eaten, he hath sinned, and shall lie not die? What! is there yea and nay with God, who hath faithfulness for the girdle of his loins? Must not God’s word of threatening take effect; “Yea heaven and earth shall pass away, but a jot of his word shall not fall to the ground.” And therefore, whatever be the demand of Mercy, let it be marked in the records of this meeting, that Truth craves to be magnified; and that its honour be not infringed in the least, by any claim or plea that Mercy hath brought in. Well, Truth having spoken, gives way to her sister Justice: and thereupon,
3. Righteousness, or Justice, comes in and impleads [to sue or prosecute by law] against the rebel sinner; Righteousness, I say, bringing her scales in her hand, in which she had tried him, and found him lighter than vanity itself; he is weighed in the balances, and found wanting; yea, not only wanting and destitute of all that perfection and obedience that the law required, but full of all that rebellion which the law discharged: having sinned and come short of the glory of God: and so is righteously subjected to the sanction of the law, and sentence of eternal death: and therefore, says Righteousness, O thou infinitely righteous and just Judge, Mercy can have no hearing in this court to the prejudice of thy honor and glory, as a just and righteous God, as Truth hath pronounced the sentence of wrath and vengeance against sin; so, if thou be a just God, the infinite vengeance due to such an infinite evil must be execute to the full. This pannel is my prisoner, and loosed he shall not be till I get full satisfaction, and my soul shall be drunk with blood: for, “Vengeance is mine, and I will repay it, saith the Lord. And I will by no means clear the guilty.” And therefore, let it be registrant in this court, that Righteousness craves to be magnified, and Justice to be glorified in a full satisfaction; and this claimed and demanded in the name of the righteous and just Judge of the universe; and shall not the judge of all the earth do right? Here is the language of Justice. What then? O shall the demand of Mercy be utterly run down by these powerful opposing pleas of Truth and Righteousness? Is there no friend in this court to take Mercy’s part? Yea, there is: and therefore,
4. Peace immediately steps in with an olive branch in her hand, saying, “Fury is not in me;” and may I speak a word in behalf of forlorn mankind! may I offer a meek answer to the claim of Truth and Righteousness, which they have advanced in opposition to the demand of Mercy? For, “A soft answer turneth away wrath.” Well, Peace being allowed a hearing proposes a healing overture, saying, O thou God of peace! may not an atonement be made, a reconciliation thought of betwixt the majesty and thy creature? May not one be found out to stand in the gap, and bear off this wrath, to become surety for this great debtor, to acquit and liberate this poor miserable prisoner and criminal? May not one be found out, that will make up the breach, by vindicating the honour of Truth, and satisfying the demands of Justice, and so making way for the claim of Mercy? And then all differences may be peaceably composed, so as we may harmoniously agree, and kiss one another. O! may not then a Peace‑maker be found out, in whom we may find all our demands satisfied at once, without prejudging one another? Why, if such an one can be found, surely his name shall be called, “Wonderful Counsellor, the Prince of Peace.”
Well, the overture and Proposal of Peace being recorded among the rest of the archives of the glorious Court; and it being such a peaceable overture, no member of the meeting could disprove it: but the great question then is, how it could be effectuate; for if one man sin against another, a man might determine it; but if a man sin against Jehovah, who shall entreat for him? for when an infinite Majesty is offended, who among finite creatures is able to satisfy it? or, What can countervail the King’s loss? “Wherewith then shall he come before the Lord, or bow himself before the most high God? will thousands of rams do it, or ten thousand rivers of oil, or the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul?” No, no: “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not; for it is impossible that the blood of bulls or goats should take away sin,” (Heb. 10:5). What then, will angels become surety for the sin of man? Nor no: though they had a will they have not power; they have but oil enough in their vessels for their own lamps. What then shall be done? Why, might Peace say, let us not stand in a demur, we have infinite Wisdom here present with us at this meeting, let us hear her judgment concerning this peaceable proposal, if it be possible that such a person can be found, in whom we may harmoniously centre at last.
Then Wisdom sits down upon the privy council‑bench, and being full of eyes, doth gravely determine this doubtful case with a happy issue. It is expedient, says Wisdom, that one die for the people, that the whole nation of mankind perish not; but he must be such a righteous One, that can justify many; yea, he that will undertake this, must be finite, that he may die; and infinite, that he may conquer death, and satisfy divine justice: but lo! there is none such to be found among all the creatures that ever God made; neither can such an one be found, unless the Son of God himself, the second Person of the glorious Trinity, shall be pleased, by an unmistakable mystery, to become flesh, “Made of a woman, under the law, to redeem them that are under the law, that they may receive the adoption of sons,” (Gal. 4:4). That so when he who hath no sin, shall become sin for man; man, who hath no righteousness, may become the righteousness of God through him, (2 Cor. 5:21). And thus Mercy may be magnified, Truth justified, Righteousness cleared, Justice satisfied, Peace, concluded: and all contented.
Wisdom having determined how this proposal of Peace might be effectuate, all parties hearkened, as it were, with pleasure, and willingly subscribed to the happy overture, and then heaven and earth conspired together, in solemn thanksgiving, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good‑will towards men.”—Thus the jarring attributes of God are now reconciled, and behold the members of the meeting, that seemed to be at the greatest variance, are embracing one another in their arms: “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”
II. The Second thing was, When and where did these blessed parties meet together? When we speak of a remarkable meeting, it is usual to inquire into the time and place of the meeting. Now, the place where, and the time when as to this wonderful meeting, are two questions which I put together, for they may both be answered at once, because of their near relation.
1st, Then in general, the meeting place, or the place of the meeting, is Christ; and the time of the meeting was, when Christ put himself in our room, or substitute himself in the place of the sinner, to answer the demands of all the members of the meeting, that had any objection against our salvation, or anything to lay to our charge: Where then, and when did they meet together and kiss each other? Why, it was even in Christ, when he took our law-room, to pay our debt and purchase our liberty in such a manner as Mercy and Peace might have their interests advanced, without injury to Truth and Righteousness; that Mercy might vent, to the credit of Truth; and Peace might be proclaimed to the honour of Righteousness; and the sinner saved, to the satisfaction of Justice. They meet together and embrace each other in him, as the Surety, “The Surety of the better Testament,” (Heb. 7:22).
We are debtors to the mandatory and minatory part of the law, arraigned at the instance of divine Justice to pay the debt. Christ substitutes himself in our room, comes under the law to pay the whole debt: it is true the debt is personal, and Justice had a demand upon the person that sinned, by virtue of the covenant of works; but the covenant never excluded a surety, though it provided none. The law promised life upon our personal obedience, but in case we fail, it revealed no surety to make out an obedience in our room. There behooved, indeed, to be a secret reserve in the covenant of works, whereby the perfect obedience of another was not excluded: for, if the covenant of works had absolutely excluded a surety in our room, then the covenant of grace had been excluded, and our salvation had been impossible after our fall; but though the covenant of works did not exclude a surety, yet that covenant did neither provide, nor reveal a surety. This is done in the covenant of grace, which is Christ as Surety fulfilling for us the covenant of work, in all the articles of it.
Now, is Truth and faithfulness at any loss here? No: the truth of the promise and threatening both, of the law of works is fulfilled. On the one hand, the promise of eternal life, made to perfect obedience, which, though we forfeited in our own person, yet we recover in the person of Christ; the promise of life upon the ground and condition of perfect obedience, being fulfilled to us in him, who hath yielded that perfect obedience in our room. On the other hand, divine Truth and Faithfulness, in the threatening of the law, which was death, is glorified in that it is fulfilled upon the Surety; while we, who came under the sentence of death in the first Adam, undergo that death in the second.
Again, is Righteousness and Justice at any loss by the Surety in our room? No, no: whether we look upon it as vindictive or retributive Justice: vindictive Justice is displayed in its utmost severity against Christ; “Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and the man that is my fellow.” And so the sword is drunk in his blood to infinite satisfaction. Retributive Justice is gloriously displayed also in the sinner’s being rewarded, justified, saved upon this ground. It is true, might Justice say, I could have demanded satisfaction upon the sinner himself, in his own person, but as I can sustain no injury to my honour, by such a surety as this, whom they call Immanuel, God‑man; so I find my honor and interest, instead of being impaired, is advanced by this exchange of persons; for, though I shall damn the sinner to all eternity, I will never get such full and complete satisfaction upon any finite creature as I will get by one stroke of my avenging sword upon that person of infinite dignity; and so it pleased the Lord to bruise him.—Why then, they meet together and embrace one another in him, as the Surety; and if Truth and Righteousness be both pleased to the full, the parties cannot but all agree, and embrace each other.—Again, they meet together and embrace one another in him, as a Sacrifice: “A sacrifice and offering of a sweet‑smelling savour unto God,” (Eph. 5:2).
Why, “He offered up himself by the eternal Spirit.” O great! Even by his eternal Godhead; a valuable sacrifice indeed!—They meet together in him as a propitiation; “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness, for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God,” (Rom. 3:25). Behold him righteous in showing Mercy! Here is the atonement, the propitiation: that very word which the Septuagint calls the mercy‑seat, in the Old Testament; and it is the word that the poor publican made use of, when he was seeking Mercy, “God be merciful to me a sinner; or be thou propitious to me,” (Luke 18:13).—He hath a mind of this Mercy-seat and Propitiation. It is not simple mercy that he sought, but Mercy through a propitiation; he looked to the blood of atonement, to the sacrificed Lamb of God, saying, Give me mercy for this; by that solemn propitiation; “Be thou propitious to me.” Here it is that Mercy and Justice meet together.—They meet together in him as a ransom: “Deliver his soul from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom,” (Job 23:24).—In a word they have met together, and kissed one another in a crucified Christ; whose death was the payment of our debt, the punishment of our sin, the price of our redemption, and a purchase of our life, liberty, and eternal salvation.—Here is the meeting‑place then of these glorious perfections of God: here is the person in whom they centre, that they may be all glorified to the highest. Mercy, Truth, Righteousness, and Peace, all are pleased.—Mercy is gratified, and constitutes him to be the Mercy‑seat: Truth is satisfied, and centres in him as the way, the truth, and the life; Righteousness is contented, and declares him to be the Lord our righteousness; Peace is perfected, and proclaims him to be the Prince of peace: yea, not only are all the members of the meeting pleased and satisfied for themselves, in the advancement of their own particular interests, but they are infinitely well‑pleased in each other; and that the interests of their seemingly opposite parties are advanced, as well as their own particular claims. Mercy is pleased, that Truth had got all its demands; and Truth is pleased, that Mercy hath got all her desire; and Righteousness is pleased, that Peace is proclaimed; and Peace is pleased, that Righteousness is honored. Mercy and Peace rejoice that they are magnified, to the infinite glory of Truth and Righteousness; and Truth and Righteousness rejoice, that they are glorified, to the infinite pleasure of Mercy and Peace: and hence they not only meet together, but kiss one another. Here you see where they meet together.—So much for an answer thereto more generally.
2d1y, More particularly as to the meeting time, you may take these following particulars for further clearing of it. Although this blessed meeting, once taking place, is still continued, and cannot be said properly to adjourn from time to time, and from place to place; for this assembly never dissolves; yet, in a suitableness to our weak capacity, and finite understanding, which cannot rightly conceive of a meeting that never had a time to meet, because they met in eternity, and never shall have time to part, because they meet to eternity; we cannot conceive of it, I say, but by taking it, as it were into so many parts, or considering it in so many periods; and there are these eight remarkable periods wherein Mercy and Peace meet with Truth and Righteousness, and kiss each other.
1. The first remarkable period is this, They met together at the council‑table of the covenant of redemption from eternity; before ever the foundation of the world was laid, and ere ever the morning stars sang together, Mercy and Truth met together, Righteousness and Peace kissed each other: for the council of peace did then meet, (Zech. 6:13). And all was concerted by infinite Wisdom, how Mercy should be magnified, Truth cleared, Righteousness vindicated, and Peace concluded; and all in Christ, who, according to the tenor of that covenant (whereof the covenant of grace is but a transcript) was to give his soul an offering for sin; and then was to see his seed, and the pleasure of the Lord to prosper in his hand. Then it was that this pleasant meeting was first constituted, as you may see, (Prov. 8:30,31). He being set up from everlasting, ere ever the earth was, God in all his glorious perfections was delighted in him: and, in him, “His delights were with the sons of men.” This was the grand meeting at which the time and place of all the subsequent meetings were concerted, and all the other particulars we are to mention, are by the result of this, and, as it were, emanations therefrom; for it is a meeting that never dissolves, though in several periods it appears like a new meeting unto us. Therefore,
2. Another remarkable
period is, their meeting together in the garden of
3. Another remarkable period is their meeting together at Bethlehem Ephratah, upon Christ’s incarnation, (Micah 5:2,4,5).
4. Another remarkable
period is their meeting together at the banks of
5. Another remarkable
period is their meeting together in the
6. Another remarkable
period is, their meeting on
7. Another remarkable period, is their meeting together at the bar of God’s great Justice‑court in heaven, “Within the vail, whither the Fore‑runner hath for us entered, even Jesus,” (Heb. 6:20). When Christ was upon the cross, the vail of the temple was rent in twain, from the top to the bottom; and a way was made for entering into the holy of holies: and as the priests under the law were not only to offer the sacrifice without the camp, but after that were to enter the holiest of all, not without blood, but with the blood of the sacrifice, to sprinkle the mercy‑seat, (Lev. 16:14,15). “Even so, Christ having offered himself a sacrifice, and suffered without the gate,” (Heb. 13:12), “He entered into the holy place by his own blood,” (Heb. 9:12), there to appear as our High‑priest, in the power and virtue of his blood, to make a full atonement of, and sprinkle the mercy‑seat. Hence believers are said to be come to Jesus, the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling: And where is this? Even in heaven, as you see in the context, Heb. 12:23,24). Now, in this work, Christ carried the price of his blood into the very presence of God for us, (Heb. 9:24), and paid it down before him: and in this act, Justice hath its satisfaction brought home; and by this act, Mercy and Justice actually are met; for hereby Christ sprinkled the very mercy‑seat with blood, all over, both upon it, and before it, as the fore-cited, (Lev. 16), represents. For the mercy‑seat, of old, stood so, that it could be seen but two ways, namely, upon it, and before it, as a table next to the wall; and so this points out, that whatever way we look to mercy by faith, we may see mercy and blood mixed; mercy and justice met together; and all sorts of mercy conveyed through the blood of Christ; top‑mercies, and side‑mercies, upper‑mercies, of a spiritual nature, and lower‑mercies of a temporal nature; for the mercy‑seat is sprinkled with blood upon it, and before it, and whatever way you look to it. The sacrifice was finished on the cross; and all sacrifices finished therein: but the blood of the sacrifice behooved also to be carried within the vail, in order to the full atonement, that what was written in blood upon the cross, might be sealed in the, presence of God, at the heavenly bar: and we act not our faith far enough, for redemption, unless we follow Christ from the cross to the bar of God’s justice‑court in heaven, to see all sealed and secured there, within the vail, where this blood is exposed, as it were, and plead at the bar; where Mercy and Justice meet together, and embrace each other.
8. Another remarkable period, is their meeting together, at the bar of Conscience, God’s lower court, on the day of actual reconciliation betwixt God and the sinner; for then, “The blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, did offer himself without a spot to God, doth purge the conscience,” (Heb. 9:14). And, “The blood of sprinkling, wherewith the conscience is purged from dead works, to serve the living God,” doth put forth its purgative power and virtue by a certain internal speech: And what doth it speak to the conscience? “It speaks better things than the blood of Abel:” That speaks vengeance, but this speaks mercy and peace, in conjunction with truth and righteousness, and justice: for where ever justice‑satisfying blood cries for mercy and peace, Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace meet, and embrace each other. This blood is the cement whereby they are joined together; before this blood be applied, the conscience of the convinced sinner is all in a flame, like mount Sinai; thunder, and lightning, and smoke, and darkness, and fear of hell and vengeance, compassing the soul about, while it is arraigned at the distance of the fiery law, to pay the double debt to the mandatory and minatory part of the law; that is, perfect obedience upon the pain of eternal death and damnation. The sinner finds himself lost and undone for ever by this law; but then, whenever the blood of sprinkling comes in, and appears at the bar of conscience, it speaks better things; it is a better speaker than the law: And what says it? Why, the language of it is, With your leave, O law, you have nothing to crave; for Christ, the Son of God was arraigned at the instance of divine Justice, to pay all this debt, because he was this sinner’s Surety and Substitute; and he actually paid it, by obeying the command and undergoing the penalty of the law; and for this I produce the ancient records of God; “In the volume of his book, it is written of Christ, that when sacrifice and offering would not, he said, Lo, I come; I delight to do thy will: and that the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all: That he was made a curse for us; yea, that he was made sin for us, even he who knew no sin, that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” And therefore, O law, though thou hast Truth and Righteousness on thy side, yet Truth and Righteousness have met with mercy and Peace, and they have concerted matters, and agreed harmoniously, and kissed one another, in token of their full agreement in Christ; so that in Christ all charges are answered.
And thus in the believer’s conscience parties meet together.
III. The Third thing proposed was, How and after what manner is it, that they meet together, and kiss each other? We are to conceive of it after the manner of God; for it is more than a meeting of saints; it is more than a meeting of angels; it is a divine meeting of all the glorious attributes of God; and we may, notice these following qualities of it.
1. It is a wonderful and mysterious meeting: it is above our apprehension and conception. O! how wonderful a meeting is this! The very name of the Person, that is made the trysting‑place, the meeting place, is called Wonderful, (Isa. 9:6). Because the meeting is about us, his name is called Immanuel, God with us. O how mysterious is this meeting! “Great is the mystery of godliness! God manifested in the flesh,” (1 Tim. 3:16). That is all the attributes of God meeting together, and harmoniously embracing one another in the eternal Son of God, who hath assumed our nature into his own personality: this is the most wonderful, mysterious meeting that ever was in heaven or earth.
2. It is a joyful meeting: they meet with infinite pleasure and satisfaction in one another; “Behold my Servant whom I uphold; mine Elect, in whom my soul delighteth,” (Isaiah 42:1). As the perfections of God, are glorified in Christ, so they rejoice and are delighted in him; “For Jehovah is well‑pleased for his righteousness sake; and therefore the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand; and he shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” Surely, if God hath his pleasure and Christ his satisfaction, no attribute of the divine Majesty, no member of the meeting is displeased, or out of humor; no, no; “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well‑pleased.” My Justice is pleased, my Mercy is pleased, and all my other attributes are pleased. O it is a heartsome, pleasant, and joyful meeting! May all that hear me, be well-pleased to see it: no joyful meeting, but what hath a respect to this.
3. It is a holy meeting: some meetings among men that are called heartsome meetings, yet are very unholy and sinful meetings; but here is an infinitely holy meeting; “Holiness to the Lord,” is the motto of it. A meeting of holy saints, and holy angels, is not such a holy meeting as this meeting of the holy attributes of God, to advance the great design of infinite holiness. All the holy meetings that ever were, or ever will be, are the result of this, and the effect of some portion of holiness sent from it; for all holiness issues from it. Here Mercy and Truth meet together, in a holy manner; Righteousness and Peace salute each other, in a holy way, and greet one another with a holy kiss.
4. It is a happy meeting; all happiness and blessings flow from this meeting: Christ, the meeting‑place, is the centre of all spiritual blessings, (Eph. 1:3). Many unhappy meetings have been in the world since sin entered into it; and sinful, unholy meetings are always miserable and unhappy meetings: but this holy meeting, must be a happy meeting; and this holy kiss, must be a happy kiss. If Mercy and Truth had not met together, we had never met with God; if Righteousness and Peace had never kissed each other, we had never got a kiss of the fair face of the Son of God, nor ever been taken into the divine embraces.
5. It is a free meeting: Mercy and Truth met together freely, without being constrained: Righteousness and Peace kissed each other freely, without being forced; no motive from without could ever take place, to move God to call this meeting from eternity; it was “According to his own purpose and grace, which is given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began,” (2 Tim. 1:9). Free sovereign grace is the original of the meeting. It is also such a free assembly, where every member might freely speak, and not one to interrupt another, as is usual in meetings among men, where some cry one thing, and some another, in a confused manner; like that assembly, where it is said, “The assembly was confused, and the greater part knew not wherefore they were met together; and some cried one thing, and some another,” (Acts 19:22). No, this meeting is free, in opposition both to all constraint and compulsion from without, and to all confusion and commotion from within: where sovereign free grace is the master‑convener, there can be no compulsion; and where the God of order is the manager, there could be no confusion; and where the God of peace was all in all, there could be no dissension. Therefore,
6. It is a harmonious meeting; whatever different claims and pretensions the members of the meeting may seem to have, yet they harmoniously concur in advancing one another’s honor and glory; and hence, as they mutually meet together, so they affectionately embrace one another. There was no discord at this assembly, no proper variance or striving for state; but gloriously conspiring with joint hearts and hands, to glorify each other in the salvation of a company of sinners, by Jesus Christ. The divine essence is undivided; and as, “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; and these three are one:” so the attributes of God, however manifold, to our apprehension, yet there is no division among them, they are all one; and their conspiring together in Christ for our redemption, is called, the manifold wisdom of God. The manifold perfections of God meet together in one, with one consent, and with one heart. Behold Mercy and Justice in one another’s arms: and so close is the embracement, that they are just one. Though it be a full meeting, and all parties present, yet there is no war, no jar, no dissension, no division, but all harmony and concord, all love and affection: it is the most peaceful meeting that ever was. And yet,
7. It is a bloody
meeting: and never was, and never will there be such a bloody meeting in heaven
or earth: the mercy‑seat must be sprinkled with blood; Mercy cannot be vented
without blood; Truth cannot be cleared without blood; Righteousness cannot be
vindicated without blood; and Peace cannot be purchased without blood; “Without
shedding of blood there is no remission;” no mercy to be vented, no peace to be
proclaimed; “Christ hath made peace by the blood of the cross,” (Col. 1:20). “A
bloody husband hast thou been unto me,” said Zipporah; but, O how much more may
Christ say, A bloody meeting hath this been unto me! “Who is this that cometh
8. It is an efficacious meeting: Many meet, and assemble together, and yet do nothing for their meeting; it is to no effect: But here Mercy and Truth meet together efficaciously, cooperatively; all is done at the meeting that God proposed to be done, and all is done that concerns the glory of God, and salvation of men; their meeting together is their working together, and that to perfection; “For God the Lord is a Rock, and his work is perfect.” Their meeting together is their building together, “I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens,” (Ps. 89:2,3). There is Mercy and Truth both a building, and the foundation of the building is laid in Christ: “I have made a covenant with my chosen: I have sworn unto David my servant.”
9. It is an unexpected meeting; it is beyond the expectation of men and angels. If friends and intimates should meet, and salute one another, it would not be surprising; but to see opposites, antipodes and antagonists meet together, and embrace each other, this were surprising and unexpected; so to see light and darkness, love and enmity, life and death meeting, how unexpected were that? Thus it is here, Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace, these attributes of God, with respect to us, were opposites and antipodes. The language of Truth and Righteousness, is death and damnation to the sinner; the language of Mercy and Peace is life and salvation to the sinner; and when a sinner finds himself pursued to death, at the instance of divine Justice, and the truth and veracity of God engaged against him, according to the threatening of the law. O how unexpected a reencounter is it! when he finds Mercy and Peace meeting with Justice and Truth, and stopping the pursuit, according to the promise of the gospel, to the credit of the opposite parties, saying, “Deliver his soul from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom;” and so all differences are adjusted; all opposites reconciled, to the infinite surprise, and beyond the expectation of all created beings.—To wonder then, upon this meeting discovered, the poor soul cries, “Is this the manner of man, O Lord? O, who is like unto thee! Nay, there is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, that rides on the heaven for their help, and in his excellency on the skies.”
10. It is an everlasting, indissolvable meeting: other meetings will adjourn their meetings from time to time, and from place to place; yea, other meetings must part, and when they part, they may never meet again: and we that are here met, must part, and never all meet again in time; even as some others that met together with us the last year, are away to eternity.—But O! this meeting betwixt Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace, it is a meeting where there is no parting; the meeting is from everlasting to everlasting; their meeting together, and kissing each other, is an eternal and unchangeable meeting, and an eternal and unchangeable kiss: it is every way like God, without beginning, without ending, and without succession.—Whatever beginning, issue, or increase it hath, with respect to its manifestation to us, yet, in itself, it is still the same in Christ Jesus, who is, “The same yesterday, today, and for ever; without any variableness, or shadow of turning,” (Heb. 13:8). The meeting never breaks up; it is a continued meeting, never to be dissolved; and there they kiss one another to all eternity; “For his mercy endureth for ever, and his righteousness to all generations: And because of truth, meekness, and righteousness, in his majesty he shall ride prosperously: And of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end. I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever; and I have said, Truth shall be established in the heavens.” Why, what is the meaning of all these expressions? The language is, as if one glorious attribute of God, should say to another, O! the sin of man set us all, as it were, at variance, and the whole creation knows not how to reconcile God with himself, if he shall save one sinner; but behold we, having met together in Christ, the, Righteousness, the Ransom, the Atonement, the Propitiation; having embraced one another in behalf of those poor miserable sinners, our arms shall never separate, they are clasped together. Mercy and Truth have met together, saying, You and I shall never part; Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other, saying, You and I shall never sunder, nor suspend the embracement; neither death nor life, nor hell, nor devils, nor sin itself, shall ever separate us. It is a bargain among us, a divine match; they have met together by an everlasting covenant, sealed the bargain with an everlasting kiss, and fastened a knot in an everlasting Righteousness, which is the bond of the union, even Christ; “For the covenant does stand fast with him, (Ps. 89:28). Where you will also see how this everlasting‑meeting is established in Christ, “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne; or, the establishment of thy throne,” (v. 14) as it may be rendered; “And mercy and truth shall go before thy face.” And, “With him my hand shall be established; and my faithfulness, and my mercy shall be with him,” (v. 21). And “My mercy, will I keep for him for ever,” (v. 28). Thus it is an everlasting meeting.
IV. The Fourth thing proposed, was, Why, or for what reasons they have met together, and kissed each other? Why have the perfections of the glorious God conspired so harmoniously, and met together in such a sweet solemnity! Surely such a meeting as this must have noble designs in view; and I will tell you these four reasons of the meeting, or four things that were to be concerted at this great assembly.
1. They met together, to concert measures for advancing the glory of God to the highest. This parliament of heaven met together upon ways and means, for bringing in the greatest revenue of praise and glory to the crown of heaven, to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and all the glorious attributes of this great and eternal God. These glorious attributes conspired harmoniously to set forth and glorify themselves most illustriously: they met together, and kissed one another, that they might glorify each other. The glory of God, was the first and last end of the meeting. What is the chief end of man, but to glorify God, and enjoy him for ever? And, O! what is the chief end of God! It is even to glorify himself in all his perfections, and to enjoy himself for ever. And how does God glorify himself most brightly? It is even in Christ, the meeting‑place of these perfections, with a view to our redemption, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved,” (Eph. 1:4). And how does he enjoy himself most sweetly? It is even in Christ, “Behold mine Elect, in whom my soul delighteth. I was daily his delight, says Christ, while my delight was with the sons of men,” (Prov. 8:30). They met together to put a crown of glory and honor upon each other. Adam’s sin and rebellion, and your sin, man, woman, and my sin (O that God‑dishonoring evil, sin!) it had pulled off that crown of glory, as it were, from the head of the great King, eternal and immortal, and thrown it into the mire, and stained it with filth and pollution: but behold these attributes of God meet together to take up the crown, to rub off the dust and dung that sin had cast upon it, and to add some more sparkling jewels to it than ever, and set it upon the head of their Sovereign, to the highest praises of his Mercy, Justice, Truth, Righteousness, Grace, Love, Holiness, Wisdom, and all his other excellencies; that men and angels might sing and say, “Glory to God in the highest, peace on earth, and goodwill towards men:” that all the saints might sing a concert in praise of the meeting betwixt Mercy and Truth, Justice and Peace, saying, as it is, (Ps. 89:14):—
Justice and judgment of
Shall be the dwelling place
Mercy, accompany’d with Truth,
Shall go before thy face.
And that every saint might sing the fifty‑seventh Psalm, and ninth and tenth verses,
I’ll praise thee ‘mong
the people, LORD,
‘Mong nations sing will I;
For great to heav’n thy mercy is,
Thy truth doth reach the sky.
They met together, to put a crown of glory upon the head of Christ, (Heb. 2:9), in whom they met. This assembly did convene for the coronation of the Son of God: For, “He having humbled himself, and become obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; God hath highly exalted him, and given him a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is our Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Phil. 2:8‑13). Christ hath glorified the Father, and, therefore, the Father glorified him: “And now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him; and if God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself,” (John 13:31,32). “Him that honoureth me, I will honour,” says God, (1 Sam. 2:30). And in whom does this take place to perfection? It is in Christ; God is honored most highly by him; and therefore, he is honored most highly; Amen, so let it be, and so shall it be.—And therefore it is concerted in that meeting, that all the saints shall glorify him; hence the royal edict comes forth, “He is thy Lord, worship thou him,” (Ps. 45:11). And so we find them doing,—“Thou art worthy to take the book, and open the seals; for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood,” (Rev. 5:9).—It is concerted in that meeting, that all the angels should glorify him; hence that edict comes forth, “Let all the angels of God worship him,” (Heb. 1:6). And so we find them doing, “I heard the voice of many angels, and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing,” (Rev. 5:11,12).—It is concerted in this meeting, that all the creatures in heaven and earth, sea and land, shall glorify him, as we see, (v. 13). But lest the sinful creatures upon earth, like you and me, should not glorify him, or see his glory, it is concerted in that glorious meeting, that the Holy Ghost, the eternal Spirit one God, equal in power and glory with the Father and the Son, shall be sent down to the earth to glorify him; “He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and shew it unto you,” (John 16:14). O! hath the Spirit of God been showing anything of Christ among you this day! anything of his grace, fulness, and righteousness, so as to glorify him, and make him glorious above all things to you: why then, we may reckon that you have found something of the saving fruits of this glorious meeting; for the grand design of it was to glorify God in Christ, by the Spirit. They met to concert all things relating to the glory of the Father, in the Son, by the Holy Ghost. They met to consult their own glory in Christ, that Mercy and Truth might be glorified in him.
2. They met to concert their proper work, in carrying on this great end, of the glory of God, and his perfections. They do not meet together to sit idle, and do nothing; no, they meet together to concert each of them their proper business, as Christ said to his friends, “Wherefore was it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” So I may say here, the attributes of God met together that they might go about God’s business. What business? What work belongs to each of them severally? Why, Mercy and Truth meet together, that they may be sent upon an embassy together; “God shall send forth his mercy and his truth,” (Ps. 57:3); his Mercy to give in the promise of the gospel; and his Truth, to make out the same. Thus Mercy and Truth meet together, that they may be sent forth upon some gracious expedition, particularly both to be leaders and followers, to the remnant whom God appointed unto life. On the one hand, to be leaders: hence the Psalmist cries, “O send forth thy light and thy truth; let them lead me, and bring me to thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacle: then will I go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy.” Behold the wonderful business of Mercy and Truth, and the work they are set out upon, even mercifully to lead blind souls to God in Christ. —On the other hand, it is to be not only leaders, but followers: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,” (Ps. 23:6). If the child of God under any temptation refuse to be led by Mercy and Truth, and give up with them as his leaders, yet for all that, he shall not hinder them to be his followers: he may run out of God’s way, but Mercy will follow and bring him back; and when Mercy follows, it is always in company with Truth. And, O! what think ye of this wonder? Mercy and Truth meet together, that they might go forth together, like two pages, to follow you, believer, through all the steps of your wilderness journey; “Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” Here is a piece of work that Mercy and Truth have met together for, even to be sent forth as leaders and followers of poor elect sinners, till they be out of all hazard, in Immanuel’s land, where glory dwells: (see Ps. 51:7). But then, as Mercy and Truth have met together, to pursue their proper work; so, Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other, for pursuing of theirs. Well, say you, what is the work of Righteousness and Peace? You have a word in the last verse of this Psalm, where our text lies, “Righteousness shall go before him, and set us in the way of his steps.” Divine Righteousness displaying itself in Christ Jesus, the Sun of Righteousness, goes before him, to prepare his way, and bring us to God, and to our duty: and, to be sure, whenever Righteousness goes before, Peace will follow after; for, “The fruit of righteousness is peace,” whether it be imputed or implanted. Here then the work of Righteousness and Peace kissing each other, is to bring in these blessed effects in their order: we consider them as divine perfections in the text, and in these effects, Righteousness leads the van, and Peace comes up with the rear.
3. These attributes
conspire harmoniously, they meet together and kiss each other, for this reason,
that, by their meeting together, they may; concert the dissolving of some
unhappy meetings. These opposite‑like attributes of God meet together, that some
intimates may be separate, and sad and sinful agreements may be broken up: there
is a sad meeting and agreement we read of, “We have made a covenant with death,
and with hell are at agreement,” (Isa. 28:15). Why, is not this the case of all
men by nature? Yea, but how is this sad and miserable meeting dissolved?
“Behold, I lay in
4. These glorious attributes of God do conspire harmoniously, they meet together and kiss each other, that they may concert and carry on some happy meetings, and make up some blessed matches. These opposite‑like attributes harmoniously meet, that opposites, and irreconcilable things might meet together harmoniously, and kiss each other, whether real or seeming opposites.
1. There are real opposites that meet together harmoniously, by virtue of this gloriously meeting; particularly these six.
(1.) These opposite‑like attributes meet together harmoniously, that opposite natures might meet together, even that God and man might meet together, and embrace each other. And there are these two meetings betwixt God and man, that were concerted at this meeting; the one is the meeting betwixt God and man, in the hypostatical union of the two natures of Christ, our Immanuel, God-man, in one person: this is the great mystery of godliness, “God manifested in the flesh;” and this is the foundation of all other saving and merciful meetings betwixt God and man.—The other is the meeting between God and man in the spiritual union betwixt Christ and his members, in one mystical person, by the bond of the Spirit; “For he that is joined to the Lord, is one spirit:” and this union is the foundation of all spiritual communion with God. We were not only at an infinite natural distance from God, as we are creatures, but at an infinite moral distance from him, as we are criminals and sinners: but the attributes of God met together, and kissed each other in Christ, that God and man might meet together in a spiritual union, and embrace each other in a sweet spiritual communion. Whatever spiritual communion you have with God, believer, this day, it flows from this glorious meeting of the divine attributes in Christ; and this union and communion is indeed a meeting of opposite natures; God became man, and took on our nature, and he makes us partakers of his nature, (2 Pet.1:4).
(2.) These opposite‑like attributes met together and kissed each other, that opposite wills might meet, and embrace each other. God’s will and ours are opposite; this is indeed a branch of the former; but our wills are the great forts of corrupt nature, that stands out against God and his will; “We are enmity against God, and not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Now how comes the will to be reconciled to God’s will? It is only by Christ, in whom the perfections of God meet together; “Thy people shall be willing [Heb. willingness] in the day of thy power,” (Ps. 110:4).
(3.) These opposite‑like attributes meet and kiss each other, that opposite persons, viz., Jews and Gentiles, man and man, that were enemies and haters of one another, might meet together; that Jews and Gentiles might meet together, and men at variance with men might meet together; hence it is said of him, in whom the attributes of God do meet, “He is our peace, who hath made both one, (i.e., Jews and Gentiles) and hath broken down the middle wall of partition: having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments, contained in ordinances, for to make in himself, of twain, a new man, so making peace: and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body, by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby,” (Eph. 2:14‑16). If anything slay the enmity to God or man, this is it.
(4.) These opposite‑like
attributes of God meet and kiss each other, that opposite climates might meet
together; I mean, that heaven and earth might meet together; the church
militant, and the church triumphant. Heaven and earth were at variance by our
sin; but now in Christ, saints in heaven, and saints on earth meet together.
Hence we are said to be come to the general assembly, and church of the
first‑born, that are written in heaven,—to the spirits of just men made perfect,
(Heb. 12:23). All believers are said to be thus come to
(5.) These opposite‑like attributes of God meet and kiss each other, that opposite covenants might meet and embrace each other even the covenant of works, and the covenant of grace, in Christ the meeting‑place of the divine perfections. These two covenants do, as it were, join hands and agree. Did the covenant of works command perfect obedience? and being broken, did it demand complete satisfaction? Behold Christ’s obedience to the death answers both; God’s covenant of grace dispensed to use is just Christ fulfilling, for us, the covenant of works; and so in him they meet, and kiss each other; “For he is the end of the law for righteousness, to every one that believeth.” Again,
(6.) These opposite‑like attributes of God meet and kiss each other, that opposite thoughts might meet together, and embrace each other; even God’s thoughts and our thoughts; how opposite these are you may see, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts; nor your ways my ways; for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than you ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts,” (Isa. 55:8). Some have presumptuous thoughts, while they look only to God’s mercy, and so they think certainly God will have mercy on them, though yet they are strangers to Christ; these are opposite to God’s thoughts; he hath no thoughts of showing mercy that way. Others have despairing thoughts, while they look merely or mostly to God’s Justice, and so their thought is “O! will God have mercy on the like of me! and, he cannot in justice save the like of me!” These thoughts are also opposite to God’s thoughts; my thoughts are not your thoughts met together: why, let a man view the mercy and justice of God met together, and harmoniously kissing one another in Christ, so as to see God in Christ reconciling the world to himself. If your thoughts be spiritualized, to discern mercy venting through the sacrifice, that satisfies divine justice, then God’s thoughts and your thoughts meet together, and kiss each other.—Thus the divine attributes meet together harmoniously. This glorious meeting lays a foundation for these happy meetings.
2dly, there are seeming opposites, that meet together harmoniously, by virtue of this glorious meeting; as,
(1.) These opposite‑like perfections of God meet together, and kiss each other harmoniously, that opposite‑like providences might meet together, and kiss each other. There are frowning providences, and smiling providences; crosses and comforts in the believer’s lot: here is a providence that favors the promise, and there is a providence that seems to contradict the promise: at one time the believer is exalted, and his mountain standeth strong; at another time he is troubled, depressed, and cast down. Well, how shall these unite and cement together? Why, they meet and embrace each other in Christ, the meeting‑place: for, “All things work together for good to them that love him, and are the called according to his purpose.” Hence we will find, not only light and darkness in the believer’s lot, but sometimes light and darkness meeting together, (Zech. 14:7), there you read of a day, “That is neither day nor night; yet a day known to the Lord neither clear nor dark, but at evening time it shall be light.” There evening-darkness ushering in the morning‑light. Hence they have occasion to sing of mercy and judgment; because of their meeting together and kissing each other, and working together for good. Behold the cross and the crown meeting together.
(2.) These opposite like perfections of God meet together and kiss each other, that opposite‑like desires they meet, and embrace each other, while Mercy desires our life, and Justice seems to demand our death; these are reconciled only in Christ, in whom Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace, meet and embrace each other. But look to our desire of God’s glory, and our own salvation, men and angels could never have contrived how these two desires could be reconciled, if Mercy and Truth had not met together, and kissed each other; for the glory of God’s truth and righteousness, in the threatening of his law, seems to rest satisfied with nothing less than our destruction; and therefore to desire God’s glory, would have been to desire our damnation; and, consequently, in desiring our own salvation, we must have desired God’s dishonor: but now by this blessed contrivance of infinite Wisdom, let us see how these two are not only reconciled, but made inseparable; “Having set forth Christ to be the propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness in the remission of sins.”
(3.) These seemingly opposite attributes meet and kiss each other, that seemingly opposite graces might meet and embrace each other: for example, reverence and confidence; how shall fear and reverence meet together with faith and confidence? Why, Truth and righteousness are at the meeting: and therefore fear and reverence becomes us: but Mercy and Peace are also on the bench, therefore faith and holy confidence may boldly step in; “We have boldness to enter unto the holiest by the blood of Jesus.”
(4.) These opposite‑like attributes meet and embrace each other, that opposite‑like duties may meet together: prayer and praise seem opposite duties in some cases; prayer supposes our wants to be great, otherwise, why should we pray?—Praise supposes our enjoyments to be great, otherwise, why should we praise?—Well, Truth and Righteousness, these awful attributes present at the meeting, say, We have nothing in ourselves, therefore we ought to pray; but Mercy and Peace say, we have all, we have enough in Christ, and therefore we ought to praise. Humiliation and gloriation [triumph of the mind], seem opposite duties; but the seemingly opposite attributes of God meeting together, bring also these duties to meet and embrace each other.—Is Truth and Righteousness in the company with Mercy and Peace? then humiliation is our duty: but is Mercy and Peace in company with Truth and Righteousness? Then gloriation is our duty. “Let him that glories, glory in the Lord.
(5.) These seemingly opposite attributes of God meet and embrace each other, that seemingly opposite experiences may meet and embrace each other, and be reconciled, though seemingly irreconcilable. There are sad experiences, and sweet experiences: O! here is the sad experience of a guilty conscience, a powerful corruption, and a conquering temptation: can ever that be reconciled with the experience of a holy peace, pardon, and victory? Yea, here is a foundation laid for the reconciliation of these opposites. If Justice and Mercy have met together, then a guilty conscience, and a mercy seat may meet together; a prevalent corruption, and pardoning, purifying blood may meet together, as they did in the psalmist’s case; “Iniquities prevail against me: but as for our transgressions, thou shalt purge them away,” (Psalm 65:3).—The sad experience of fatherly anger, or of the feeling of divine wrath, may meet with the sweet experience of felt love and favor; for Mercy and Justice are met together, (Isa. 54:7,8).—The sad experience of perplexing thoughts, may meet with the sweet experience of spiritual consolation, and be swallowed up therein; since Truth and Justice have met with Mercy and Peace: Hence it was that these two met together in David: “In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul,” (Ps. 109:19). O! is such a sad experience consistent with an interest in Christ? Why, both terrible and amiable attributes of God meet together in Christ; and therefore is it not strange, that the saddest and sweetest experiences meet together, so as not to be inconsistent with the state of a believer that is in Christ. To see awful Justice, and lovely Mercy meeting together in a sweet smelling sacrifice, is a greater wonder, than to see your saddest and sweetest experiences meeting in Christ, to make up a hallelujah, “Praise ye the Lord:” and the former meeting is the reason of this.
(6.) These irreconcilable like attributes of God meet and embrace each other, that irreconcilable like Scriptures might meet together and embrace each other. How shall “He will by no means clear the guilty,” (Ex. 34:7), (or, justify the sinner) be reconciled with Romans 4:5, where he is said to justify the ungodly? O! how can these two opposites meet together?—Why, Mercy and Truth have met together in Christ, to make up a match betwixt them: a ransom is found, a propitiation is set forth; why then, these opposite like scriptures may meet together, and kiss each other: “He will by no means clear the guilty,” without a ransom a propitiation. Well, is the ransom found, and propitiation set forth? then he will justify the ungodly on that ground; “‘Deliver his soul from going down to the pit, I have found out a ransom.” Now he can justify the sinner, and be just in so doing, while he draws him in to Christ by faith, (Rom. 3:25,26),—Thus you see the reasons of the meeting. In a word, they meet together upon a design to bring the greatest good out of the greatest evil, and the highest glory out of the deepest misery, to the praise of all God’s glorious perfections.
V. The fifth thing proposed, was the Application, in a few inferences. Is it so, that in the salvation of sinners by Jesus Christ, the glorious attributes and perfections of God do thus harmoniously conspire, and embrace each other? Then hence we may see,
1. What a dreadful evil sin is, which sets all the attributes of God, as it were, in opposition to one another, and puts all the, world into confusion, and everything out of order; it sets heaven and earth, and all things in them at variance, one against another: to think light of sin, is to think light of this glorious meeting of divine attributes, that met together to break, this rebellion, and take order with this horrid insurrection against heaven. O! what a great matter is the salvation of a sinner! ere that can take place, this grand meeting must be called: all the injured attributes of God must have an honorable reparation.—Justice must be satisfied; Truth vindicated; Righteousness cleared; and in order to all this, a Surety must be provided, even a God in our nature: the guilt must be imputed to him, and the iniquity of us all must be laid upon him; and then a bloody tragedy must be acted upon his soul and body, till he sink to death under the weight of infinite wrath.
2. Hence see, what a wonderful person our Lord Jesus Christ is, in whom so many wonders meet together. It is in him, that Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace, do meet together, and kiss each other; here all the illustrious perfections of the divine nature do gloriously conspire; here is the bright constellation of all the divine attributes shining forth in him; and every star performs its evolutions in this orb. Behold in him the bright glory and excellency of God’s grace and love; a whole Trinity in concert, to perform each Person his own part, and each attribute its own work; and Christ, the image of the invisible God, set forth to be a glorious theater, on which men and angels might see the splendor of the transaction: “He is the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of his person:” here is the great mystery of godliness, God manifested in the flesh, and all his attributes meeting together, and kissing each other in our Immanuel, God‑man. There are two things meet in Christ, which should make him wonderful to us; the one is, all our sins meet together on him, that they may be condemned according to that word, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all,” (Isa. 53:6); (or, made them to meet on him). The other is, all the attributes of God meet in him, that they may be glorified. And indeed there is no saving or satisfying knowledge of any property of God, but what is to be had in Christ: to see God to be a merciful, just, true, righteous, good, and holy God, is neither a saving, nor a satisfying sight; unless we see these attributes meeting in Christ for our salvation; and to see this, is to see the glory of God, in the face of Christ; here see the glory of divine Mercy! What a pardoning Mercy! “It is God’s free, gracious acceptance of a sinner, upon satisfaction made to his justice in the blood of Jesus.” Nor is any discovery of mercy, but as relating to the satisfaction of justice, consistent with the glory of God: mercy cannot be seen savingly, but as meeting with justice in Christ. Here also we see the glory of divine truth in the exact accomplishment of all his threatenings and promises: that original threatening and commination, whence all other threatenings flow; “In the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die,” (Gen. 2:17), backed with a curse, “For cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them,” is in him accomplished fully, and the truth of God therein cleared to our salvation, while he tasted death for us, and he was made a curse for us: so that in every threatening his truth is made glorious. And as to the promises, they are all Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus, to the glory of God by us, (2 Cor. 1:20). And so of all the other attributes of God, they are made glorious, and exalted in Christ to our salvation. Hence, when Christ desired his Father to glorify his name, to make his name, that is his nature, properties, and perfections all glorious in the work of redemption, that he had in hand; he was instantly answered from heaven, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again,” (John 12:28); I will give my attributes their utmost glory in thee.
3. Hence see the difference betwixt the law and the gospel one great difference betwixt them lies in this, that in the law, the sinner that hath violated the same, may see Truth standing engaged against him, but no Mercy in company with Truth: and Righteousness in arms against him, but no Peace in company with Righteousness; “Justice without mercy, and war without peace to the sinner,” is the motto of the law; for therein Truth and Righteousness meet together, but Mercy and Peace are not at the Meeting; and so the language of the law, to you that are out of Christ, and under the law, is, No mercy, no peace, but the wrath of God, the vengeance of God, the curse of God, upon you; and that so sure, as God is a God of truth and righteousness. There is the law. But in the gospel, Mercy and Peace come into the meeting, and make up a match betwixt all the opposite parties, to the highest glory of God, and the greatest happiness of the sinner: and they seal the match with a kiss of infinite complacency; so that the sum of the gospel is this, “Mercy and Truth are met together, Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other.”
4. Hence we may see what is the fountain‑head, and foundation of all true communion and fellowship with God and man. This glorious meeting is the foundation of all other happy meetings: fellowship with God, and an happy meeting with him, is a stream that flows from this fountain. We could never have met with God, or got a kindly kiss, or embrace, in the arms of his favor and love if this divine meeting and embracement had not made way for it. Fellowship with man, or the communion of saints, is a rivulet that flows from this spring. When saints meet together for prayer or praises, under the influence of the Spirit, and under a gale of heaven; when their hearts are fired with love to God, and to one another in him; what is this? It is just a live‑coal cast in among them, from the altar, Christ Jesus, where all the attributes of God meet together, and kiss each other; and hence true fellowship with God, and with the saints, are both declared to be in and through Christ Jesus;—“That which we have heard and seen, declare we unto you, that ye may have fellowship with us: And truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ,” (1 John 1:3). The harmony of the attributes of God in Christ, is the fountain of all the harmony among the saints. The little harmony, that takes place among them in our day, and the rarity of holy fellowship meetings, flows from the little faith of this heavenly divine meeting: for all the saints, that are under the lively views thereof, cannot but desire to meet together, and embrace each other harmoniously, in the arms of mutual love.
5. Hence see the malignity of the sin of unbelief, the great employment whereof is, to spoil the harmony of the divine perfections, and to do its utmost to dissolve that glorious meeting, and separate what God hath joined, saying, in effect, they have not met together, nor kissed each other. This we may discern in the unbelief, whether of secure or awakened sinners: See it is the unbelief of the secure sinner, who sets Truth and Righteousness out of the meeting, saying, “God is a merciful God, and I shall have peace though I walk in the imagination of my own heart, adding drunkenness to thirst.” Thus they hope in God’s mercy, and speak peace to themselves, while they never view the truth and righteousness of God, and how the credit thereof shall be salved, or the honour repaired: And hence, as faith is said to set to the seal that God is true, or, that he is a God of truth; so unbelief is said to make God a liar: To fancy that God will have mercy on their souls, without regarding the truth of his threatenings, is to make God a liar, and say, Mercy and Truth have not met together: To think that God will be at peace with them, while his Righteousness and Justice are not satisfied, is to make God a liar, and say Righteousness and Peace have not met together. Thus the unbelief of the secure sinner puts Truth and Righteousness out of the meeting. Again, on, the other hand, the unbelief of the awakened sinner, puts Mercy and Peace out of the meeting, saying, O! he is a God of truth, and how shall he have mercy on the like of me! He is a God of awful justice and righteousness, and how will he be at peace with me? What is the language of this but that Mercy and Peace have not met with Truth and Righteousness? Here is a making God a liar also, and separating what God hath in the gospel declared to be joined. Behold then, the malignity of unbelief: it breaks the glorious meeting, and will not let them kiss one another. The presuming sinner will not let God have the glory of his truth and righteousness.—The despairing sinner will not let God have the glory of his mercy and grace; both are in a concert with the devil to break the harmony of the meeting. But O! may virtue come from that glorious meeting in Christ, to the poor sinful meeting in this house, for dashing our unbelief to pieces, that we may see Mercy and Truth met together, Righteousness and Peace kissing each other.
6. Hence see sure and noble ground, for the boldness and confidence of faith in Christ; “In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him,” (Eph. 2:12). Here is an answer to all objections of unbelief and diffidence; the chief whereof lies here; O! says unbelief, may I, sinful guilty I, lay hold on the promise of mercy and peace in the gospel, when I see the great ordinance of the divine threatening hard charged with the truth and righteousness of God, and ready to be discharged against me with thunder and lightening, saying, No mercy, no peace, “He that made thee will not have mercy upon thee: And there is no peace, says my God to the wicked.” Mercy and peace in the promise then, says unbelief, cannot take place, with respect to me; for truth and righteousness, in the threatening, stand in the way, like a flaming sword, to keep the way of the tree of life: Nay, but says faith, Here the promise and the threatening have met together, and kissed each other in Christ; mercy in the promise, and justice in the threatening, have met and agreed in him; “In whom all the promises are Yea and Amen;” And in whom all the threatenings are fully executed, by drawing out his heart‑blood. Thus then, “We have boldness to enter into the holiest, by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us through the vail of his flesh: Therefore let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,” (Heb. 10:19,20,22). O! what ground for the boldness and assured confidence of faith, with particular application, notwithstanding of the threatening? The threatening hath nothing to say to me, with faith, for Christ hath spoken with it already, and spoken it out of breath; he hath left it speechless, and breathless, not a breathing of wrath in it towards me. The believer may have a million of doubts, while his unbelief keeps the chair; but let gallant faith come in, and take the room, it will dispel them all: let once unbelief break the harmony of this meeting of divine attributes in Christ, and then nothing but doubts of God’s favor and mercy must ensue; but let faith view the harmony, and see them meeting and kissing each other; and then according to the measure of faith, such will be the measure of holy boldness, confidence, and persuasion of the favor, mercy and goodwill of God in Christ, with particular application to the person himself. Take away unbelief from faith, and then not a single doubt will remain behind; unbelief creates all the doubts that are in the believer; his faith hath no part in them. The general doubt-some faith of the Papists, is not faith; but unbelief; and therefore no wonder that our forefathers abjured it in our National Covenant. Behold the sure ground and firm bottom that faith stands upon, even the mutual meeting, and embracement among the divine perfections in Christ. If you break and separate the meeting by unbelief, then your confidence is broken and your peace with God marred; but if you keep them together in your view, by faith in Christ then you have boldness, confidence, affiance on this ground; yea, then God in Christ, and you meet together, and kiss each other.
7. Hence see what is the best mark of a believer in Christ. For your trial and examination, try it just by this, What view have you got of this glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ, and of the attributes of God meeting and embracing each other in him? Have you seen the glory, and felt the virtue of this happy meeting?
(1.) Have you seen the glory of it? When once in a day, you had seen the attributes of God in arms against you because of your sinful rebellion against God; and when you had seen the truth of God, pronouncing the sentence of the law, and his righteousness and justice ready to inflict the sentence, and execute the same with curses and vengeance, making you despair of mercy, and give up with all hope and expectation of peace with God, by the law of works; have you thereupon got a view of the harmonious meeting of these attributes of God, in Christ Jesus, as the Surety, the Sacrifice, the Ransom, the Propitiation, in whom the truth and veracity of God is accomplished, and the righteousness and justice of God is satisfied, and so mercy and peace vented gloriously, without determent to any other excellency or perfection of God? Hath nothing satisfied your conscience, but the view of this meeting betwixt Mercy and Justice, in the death of Christ, and kissing each other in his mediation? Hath God and you met together this way, and made your heart joyfully to kiss and embrace this wonderful device, as worthy of God, and suitable to you? Have you seen this glory at this rate? Then in God’s name, I pronounce you a believer in Christ: “For God, who commanded light to shine out of darkness, hath shined into your heart, to give you the light of the knowledge of his glory, in the face of Christ.” And Christ and you have met together, and kissed each other; whether it was in the day of first believing, when you fled to him for refuge, or in the day of after-manifestation, when, upon the back of dismal hiding on God’s part, or grievous backsliding on yours, the Lord drew aside the vail, and gave you a glance of his glory; whether it was by some word of grace, sweetly and powerfully coming in, and opening your understanding to see this harmonious meeting, or by some sweet droppings of the blood of sprinkling upon your conscience, by which blood, the meeting is cemented together. Have you seen this glory, whether in a secret corner, or public ordinance; whether at the market‑cross of the gospel, where this glorious meeting is proclaimed, or at a communion‑table where it is sealed? It is all a matter, it was heaven begun.
(2.) Have you felt the
virtue, as well as seen the glory of this harmonious meeting of the divine
attributes in Christ? “Beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, we are
changed into the same image, from glory to glory, as by the Spirit of the Lord,”
(2 Cor. 3:18). Surely if you have seen this glory, you have felt something of
this virtue, by changing you from glory to glory. It is true, many that have got
a discovery of this glory of the Lord, can never think that they have felt the
sanctifying virtue thereof, and this keeps them down in the pit of
discouragement: it is true, they that are not sanctified and made holy, they
discover, that they never beheld this glory of the Lord: for this meeting of
attributes, makes a meeting of graces, in the person that sees it savingly. But
you must remember, That this virtue will never be perfectly felt, till this
glory be perfectly beheld in heaven, where “We shall be like him, because we
shall see him as he is.” And therefore, since you cannot judge and try yourself
by a perfect sanctification, try it by the beginnings of it; this transforming
virtue, this sanctifying virtue is present with you, though you cannot discern
it. But that you may, through grace, discern something of it, let me ask you
what makes you wrestle in secret sometimes against sin, if it be not some
sanctifying virtue? What makes the prevalence of sin to humble you to the dust?
What makes you lament your own unholiness and impurity? What makes you long and
groan for complete victory over, and freedom from sin? What makes you glad of
any victory over your corruption, when this glory shines? What makes your heart
to rise against sin? And when sin prevails, what makes you find yourself uneasy,
and out of your element, always till the Lord return, and until you get a new
dip in the
8. Hence, we may see the ground of Terror to all Christless, unbelieving souls, that never have seen the glory, nor felt the virtue of this harmonious meeting, and live careless about either of those. What shall I say? “If our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost, in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, should shine in them,” (2 Cor. 4:3,4). It may be, you are presuming upon the mercy of God, while yet your eyes are blinded, that you do not see the truth of his threatenings standing against you: and therefore, O blasphemer! do you think, that he will be a God of mercy, and not a God of Truth? Nay, his mercy will never be vented, unless the glory of his truth be salved. Perhaps you are speaking peace to yourself, saying, “I shall have peace,” while yet your eyes are blinded, that you do not see how God’s being at peace with a sinner is consistent with his righteousness, in taking vengeance upon sin. O then, blasphemer and presumer! do you think, that God will be a God of Peace, and not a God of Righteousness? Know it, then, in the Lord’s name, O sinful unbelieving wretch, that, as there is no mercy for you, to the discredit of God’s truth; so no peace, to the dishonor of his righteousness. You expect mercy and peace separate from truth and righteousness; and therefore mercy and truth shall be separate from you; and truth and righteousness will meet with you in fury, and with a vengeance.—Your false hope of mercy and peace, makes you merciful to your lusts, and at peace with your idols: but the truth and righteousness of God, which you exclude from the meeting, will hide mercy and peace forever from your eyes: Justice, instead of mercy, war instead of peace, will ensue; for truth and righteousness will execute judgment upon you, for the abuse of mercy and peace; while through unbelief, you do not see, or approve their meeting together, and kissing each other in Christ. While you are in this case, you cannot meet with God, though you may meet with his people at ordinances, or at a communion‑table: yet God and you never met together: nay, you have other company; the Devil and you meet together; and your lusts and you embrace each other; the world and you meet together, and its vanities and you do kiss each other; the law and you have met together, and its curse and you do embrace each other: but because you do not see the terrible curses and threatenings, that you are under, remember, that in a short while, death and you will meet together, and its cold arms and you must embrace each other; and if this gospel be still hid to you, then, after that, hell and you will meet together, and the flames of divine wrath and you will embrace each other to eternity; and the motto written upon the door of your hell, will be, “The vengeance of Truth and Righteousness, for the abuse of Mercy and Peace.” Let this word of terror sink into your conscience, O graceless, Christless unbelieving soul, that never saw the glory, nor felt the virtue of this blessed meeting; and, Gallio‑like, “Care for none of these things.” But, on the other hand,
9. Hence, from this doctrine, see ground of comfort to all believers in Christ, who have seen the glory, and felt the virtue of this harmonious meeting of divine attributes in Christ. This doctrine is as comfortable to you, as it is terrible to others. Can you say, before God, that these two marks are your experiences? Then I can say, that all the comforts, that issue from that glorious meeting in Christ, belong to you; and God allows you strong consolation, who have fled for refuge, to the hope set before you: for that city of refuge, to which you have fled, is the centre of the meeting, and the trysting‑place, where they kiss one another harmoniously. Why, say you, What concern have I in their meeting, and embracing each other? O believer, they met for your sake, and kissed one another out of kindness to you: For there was no real jarring among them: but all the apparent jarring was about you; and how they should be glorified in your salvation: and when infinite wisdom found the ransom, and so the way, how they should all be glorified in your eternal happiness, then they hugged each other in their arms, as it were, in a rupture of joy, for your sake; “His delights were with the sons of men,” (Prov. 8:31). It was not one attribute only, that had its delight, satisfaction, and glory; it is delights, in the plural number; for all the attributes of God had their delights; and whereabout was it? Why, the council of peace was concerning you; “For his delights were with the sons of men.” And you having seen the glory of this device, and felt something of the virtue thereof, God and you have met together, and Christ, and you have kissed each other: he hath embraced you, and you have embraced him; and that embracement is a pledge and earnest, that he and you will meet together in heaven, and embrace each other to eternity. This meeting and embracement is founded upon the harmonious meeting and embracement of the divine attributes in Christ; and therefore, it shall be sure, abiding, and everlasting; and all these attributes are engaged for your comfort and support: and this glory of the Lord, you shall forever behold; for Christ, in whom all these glorious perfections meet together, hath prayed for it; “Father, I will, that these, whom thou halt given me, be with men where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou halt given me,” (John 17:24). Here then, believer, is ground of comfort to you, in every case. Comfort against desertion; it is long since Christ and you met together, and kissed each other? Behold, here is the reason: “He will never altogether leave you, nor forsake you;” but certainly meet with you, now and then, when he sees it fit; and give you the other kiss of his infinitely blessed lips, and embrace of his arms: till you come to the intimate, immediate embracements of his love in glory: Why? because, “Mercy and Truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” So sure as Mercy and Truth are met together, as surely will the Lord meet with you.—Here is comfort against the Law, when it comes in as a covenant upon your conscience, saying, Pay what thou owest, or otherwise thou art cursed, and must go to hell: And the law, speaking in the name of Truth and Righteousness, seems terrible. But you may soon answer by faith, and say, “O law, the demand is just indeed, and agreeable to Truth and Righteousness; but you mistake the person; for Truth and Righteousness have already met with Mercy and Peace, in the Person of Christ, my husband, who endured all my hell, and became a curse for me: and therefore, I have no ground to fear the hell thou threatens, nor the curse thou denounces, nor any liableness thereto.”—Here is comfort against Satan, and his temptations: for this blessed meeting in Christ, did concert his ruin, and the bruising of his head; “The Seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent,” (Gen. 3:15). Satan shall be bruised under your feet shortly. Here is comfort against church‑divisions and commotions; when neither ministers nor private Christians do meet together, or embrace one another with love and amity. Is this sad and afflicting to you? Here is a meeting, that may give you comfort in that case: for no member of that meeting will ever differ among themselves, or cast out with you.—Here is comfort against your jarring with friends: What do I know, but there is some here, that cannot get lived in peace with such a friend or relation; nor their Christian liberty enjoyed, because of their frowns; and perhaps, they are as aliens to you, not in speaking terms with you; you cannot meet together with them cordially, nor embrace one another amicably: but let this be your comfort, in that case; “Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other:” and you have got a kiss by the bye, and that is better than all the friends of the world.—Here is comfort against public calamities, that seem to be approaching, or personal trials, that may be coming upon you.—Here is a cordial, though affliction and you meet together; though, in a little, death and you meet together; yet this meeting of divine attributes in Christ, your glorious Head, speaks comforts, and safety to you in every case: though you should die distracted, this meeting cannot be dissolved: and you having seen the glory, and felt the virtue thereof, shall be sure to enjoy the benefit of it to eternity: “Yea, surely goodness and mercy shall follow you, all the days of your life, and you shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”
10. The last Inference
is, Hence see the duty of all that hear and know this joyful sound: Never was
there a sweeter sound in heaven, or in earth. And what is the duty of all you
that hear it? Surely the news of such a glorious and harmonious meeting of the
divine perfections, about the salvation of sinners, in and by Christ Jesus,
should be joyfully received. Here is the good tidings of great joy unto all
people, (Luke 2:10). When Elizabeth, the mother of John, and Mary, the mother of
Jesus our Lord, met together and saluted each other, the babe leapt in
Now, certain things have past concerning the Truths of God, and the Righteousness of Christ in our day, which some think will stand infamous till the judgment of the great day: and this Truth and Righteousness, being the great ministerial trust, some have chosen rather to be reproached by the world, than be challenged by God and their own conscience, as betrayers of their trust. However, O believer, study you through grace, to get a match made up between Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace in you, seeing there can be no merciful Peace to the prejudice of righteous Truth; and study to get all these, attributes of God, exemplified in your heart and life: and the seal and impress thereof upon your soul; you being united to Christ, in whom all these glorious excellencies of God do meet together, with harmonious embracements. “Out of Christ’s fulness do you receive, and grace for grace:” as the child receives member for member from the father, and the paper letter for letter from the press: so beholding his glory, be you changed into the same image, by receiving mercy for mercy, truth for truth, righteousness for righteousness, and peace for peace; out of his fullness, do you receive grace for grace, holiness for holiness, and an holy virtue suitable to every holy perfection, that is in him; and all these harmoniously meeting together, and kissing each other in you. Let no heavenly grace, or holy duty be excluded out of the meetings: Let faith and repentance meet together; let love and new obedience kiss each other; let knowledge and practice meet together, and prayer and praise embrace each other; yea, let opposite like graces meet harmoniously in you; let humility and boldness meet together, let godly sorrow and holy joy embrace each other. Here is the gospel-holiness we call you to, in a suitableness to these harmonious attributes of God in Christ. If the world call you Antinomians, know it is the will of God, that by well doing, you put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, (1 Pet. 2:15). Let the mouth that reproaches the gospel be stopped by the power of it, in your walk.—The world will surely reckon you the greatest stars that give the greatest light: “Therefore let your light so shine before men, that others seeing your good works, may glorify God;” even the works of Mercy and Truth, Righteousness and Peace, hand and hand together; and thus, for the sake of the glory of God, the honour of Christ, and the credit of the gospel, let the world know, that you have seen the glory, and felt the virtue of these perfections of God, harmoniously meeting and embracing each other in Christ. Here is your duty and work, believer, in the wilderness; and now in all your short-comings therein, still look again to God’s holy temple, to Christ, the meeting-place of these divine perfections. This is the mercy-seat, of which God says, “There will I meet with thee, and commune with thee, from between the cherubims,” (Ex. 25:22): And every new meeting with God there, will bring in new strength, for all your work and warfare in time, till God and you meet together, and embrace one another, in glory, through eternity.
And now, believer, I
know you would desire, that others should share of the same happiness with you;
and therefore, pray, that a short concluding word may be blessed with power, to
thousands that hear me.—O ye that are bystanders and hearers only; in whatever
corner of this house, round about me, whether you be in my view or not, you are
in God’s view; and I have a word from him to you all: And as I have told you,
what a terrible thing it is, to live and die in unbelief with respect to this
glorious device; so now I would tell you your duty, in this matter; and how you
may share of the blessings and benefits in time, and forever, that flow from
this glorious meeting and embracement; and it is by kissing the Son God, in whom
all the attributes of God do kiss, and embrace each other, “Kiss the Son, lest
he be angry, and ye perish from the way; when his wrath is kindled but a little:
blessed are all they that trust in him,” (Ps. 2:12). Blessed are all they that
kiss and embrace him. Would you then share of the grace and glory, that issue
from this wonderful meeting, and ineffable embracement among divine
perfections, in Christ the Son of God? O then! come and kiss the Son: O down,
down, with carnal thoughts! carnal kissing, carousing, and cajoling; here, here
is an object worthy of the most endeared embraces of the immortal soul.—O come!
and kiss the Son, by believing in him, and applying the benefits of this
glorious transaction, to yourself; and be who you will, if you kiss and embrace
the Son, you shall find these glorious attributes of God kissing and embracing
you, and hugging you in their arms, as a darling of heaven, and a favorite in
the house of God: Are the attributes of God embracing one another in Christ? O
flee in to their embraces, by fleeing in to Christ: “Say, not, Christ is in
heaven how shall I embrace him? For the word is nigh, even in your mouth, and in
your heart,” (
Now, though I hope, that this glorious meeting of divine perfections in Christ, hath put forth some virtue, to draw in some poor soul, to the match: yet I fear, that the most part are but still as idle hearers and spectators, as if they were not concerned. But, O man, woman, young and old, unconcerned soul, be what you will, O yet, will you come, and see the greatest sight that ever was, or will be in heaven or earth, “A bush burning, and not consumed;” all the burning and shining attributes of God, meeting with infinite harmony, in the bush of our nature: and yet, the bush able to bear the glory, (Zech. 6:15). O come and wonder! Here is the wonder of men and angels! For, this is a wonderful meeting to them. And the name of the meeting-place is justly called wonderful! O come and partake; for the meeting is concerning your salvation, in Christ: “His delights were with the sons of men.” O come, and sing to the praise and glory of this wonderful harmonious embracement of divine perfections in Christ; especially, you that partake; so as to see the glory, and feel the virtue thereof. O will you sing with your hearts, and lips, and lives, saying, Glory to God, that his attributes have met together, and kissed each other in Christ; and that ever the like of me, got a kiss by the bye? Glory to God, that there is no breaking of this meeting, nor parting of these embraces, by sin, Satan, earth, or hell; but that they meet and embrace each other in eternity. And though you cannot mind to sing all that hath been said; yet I hope the weakest memory may mind, to sing the best note of all the sermon, everyday, saying, Glory, glory, glory to God, that “Mercy and Truth are met together, Righteousness and Peace have kissed each other.”
1 See the reason of this assigned, Sermon IV. entitled, Christ the People’s Covenant, in a foot note.—The hearty friends to the doctrine of grace, in those days, were very unjustly accused with Antinomianism; and the strenuous supporters of the doctrine of free justification, through the imputed righteousness of Christ, without the works of the law, were injuriously calumniated as enemies to holiness, and as disturbers of the peace of the church.—This matter is further cleared up, in a note, about the middle of these Sermons, entitled, Law-death, and Gospel-life.