THE BEST SECURITY FOR THE BEST LIFE; OR, A LIFE HID WITH CHRIST IN GOD.
This Sermon was preached immediately before the celebration of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper at Dunfermline, August 11th, 1745. Together with the Discourse before the tables, and at the service of the first table, and at the conclusion of the work.
“Your lifeis hid with Christ in God.”—Colossians 3:3.
Though the communion-table of the sacramental supper is covered openly with visible elements of bread and wine; yet by these are represented such hidden mysteries, and spiritual provision, as none are capable of apprehending, or feeding upon, but those who have a hidden and spiritual life, and who are pointed out in this text; and, as it were, singled out from all the rest of the congregation, so as it can be said to them, You, man, woman; you that have a right to sit down at this table of the Lord, you that can feed upon this hidden manna, you have, through grace, got a life that bears some suitableness to, and that can only be maintained by, such hidden food and provision; “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” The text, then, may soon be seen to be suitable to the work of the day; and it bears also a great sibness [kinfolk; sibling] and relation to the subject treated on last occasion of this sort here. The text spoke to the dead, or of them, saying, “The hour cometh and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live,” (John 5:25). This text speaks of the living: yea, and particularly to them; and describes the life they are brought unto by the quickening voice of the Son of God: “Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
I have, in providence, been led to preach, for some Sabbath-days bygone, upon the preceding context, from the beginning of this chapter: where, verses first and second, the apostle exhorts believers to seek and mind those things which are above: and also I have insisted, for some days bygone, upon the first branch of this verse, “For ye are dead;” where I have taken occasion to characterize the believer, by his being dead to the world, dead to sin, dead to self, and to the law, as a covenant; and now this part of the verse remains to be treated, “Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
The verse contains some of the motives and arguments, by which the apostle presses the preceding exhortation: and the motives here are such as show, That the Christian’s life is composed of divine paradoxes; they can do nothing, and yet they can do all things; they are dead and yet alive.
In the words we have two things observable; an account of the believer’s death and his life.
1st, Here is the Christian’s death; “Ye are dead.” 1. Not dead in sin; for so they were by nature; and so are all that remain in a state of nature. 2. Not dead for sin; our Lord Jesus Christ had the sole honor of that undertaking. But, 3. Dead to sin; and everything in the world that is an occasion to sin, (Rom. 6:11).
2dly, The Christian’s life; “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” This is not a natural life; for this we have and Christ came to restore what man had lost: it is not a carnal or sinful life; for thus we are alive without Christ; but it is a spiritual and supernatural life; a life hid with Christ in God.
Here are some precious properties of the believer’s life: it is hid with Christ, and it is hid with Christ in God. And more particularly we may observe here a treasure, a treasurer, and a treasury.
1. A treasure, and that is Life; a hidden treasure, to the believer, to whom Christ came to restore it: and it is a hidden treasure both in respect of secrecy, that it cannot be seen; and in respect of safety, that it cannot be lost.
2. A treasurer, with whom it is hid; it is hid with Christ; it is in his hand; he is the dispenser of it; for, “In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” It is hid with Christ.
3. The treasury, or treasure-house, in which it is hid with Christ; why, it is hid with Christ in God.
From this comprehensive view of the words, the doctrinal proposition that natively offers itself from them, is the following:—
Observation: That the believer’s life is closely hid, and safely laid up with Christ in God.
In speaking to this observation we shall essay, through divine assistance, to do the following things.
I. Speak a little of the treasure itself, the believer’s life.
II. Speak of its being hid; and show in what respect it is so.
III. Show with whom it is hid, and what is imported in its being hid with Christ.
IV. Where it is hid, namely, in God: and what that imports.
V. Make application of the whole subject.
I. We are to speak a little of the believer’s Life. As he is a believer in Christ, all the life he has, is in Christ; and his life is Christ in him, who says, “Because I live, ye shall live also:” and in the verse following our text, Christ is called the believer’s life. And this life the believer has in Christ may be reduced to these three kinds, namely, the life of righteousness, the life of grace, and the life of glory.
1. The life of righteousness, or justification, whereby all his sins are pardoned, and he accepted as righteous in God’s sight, through the imputation of the righteousness of Christ, (Rom. 3:22). By this means all his long-tailed account, that he owed to the law and justice of God, where original sin was written down imprimis [in the first place] and then all the items of actual transgressions, are fairly cancelled and blotted out of the book of God’s remembrance, with a “Thus saith the Lord God, I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins,” (Isa. 42:25). By this life the curse of the law is abrogated, and the sentence of condemnation reversed; so as there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus, (Rom. 8:1), and so as the believer may say triumphantly, without fear of death, hell, or wrath, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather that is risen again,” (vv. 33 & 34). For, as he died for our sins, so he was raised again for our righteousness, or justification, (Rom. 4:25). This life of righteousness, or justification, is equal in all believers; “The righteousness of God, by faith of Jesus Christ, is upon all them that believe; for there is no difference,” (Rom. 3:22). It is perfect, everlasting, and uninterrupted; because the righteousness of Christ, is still upon them, (v. 21), and their union with Christ standeth firm.
2. The life the believer in Christ has, is a life of grace, or sanctification; which, though it be inseparable from the life of justification; yet it is vastly different from it. Justification is the sentence of a judge; sanctification the work of a physician. God, as a judge, justifies the person; but, as a physician, he sanctifies and heals the nature. And though justification and sanctification flow both from Christ; yet he is not our sanctification and justification one and the same way. Both are purchased indeed; but sanctification flows not so immediately from the priestly office of Christ. Sanctification flows immediately from the Spirit of Christ, but justification from Christ in the execution of his priestly office; and his righteousness is not only the meritorious, but also the material cause of it. The life of grace and sanctification is that whereby the soul is garnished with the graces of the Spirit of Christ, and the King’s daughter is made all glorious within, and her clothing of wrought gold; and surely it is well wrought, when the workman is God himself, who never put his hand to an ignoble work, “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, (Eph. 2:10). This is a life, of which Christ is the food, the medicine, the pattern, the author, the preserver, and the perfecter. By this we are partakers of the divine nature; by this we glorify God, and are useful and serviceable in the world, and it is the sweet beginning of heaven; and that it is,
3. The life of glory, of which the following verse speaks, “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, ye shall also appear with him in glory.” The life of grace is the same specifically with the life of glory; though the gradual difference is as great as between the life of a child in the womb, and the life of a man come to the full exercise of sense, reason, and judgment. However, grace is the seed of glory, and is called glory, “Beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image, from glory to glory,” (2 Cor. 3:18). Every believer in Christ has, according to the measure of faith and hope, the beginnings and first fruits of glory; the faith of glory, the hope of glory, the Spirit of glory, and sometimes joy unspeakable and full of glory, when he has joy and peace in believing. “He that believeth hath everlasting life and glory.” He hath it in the promise of it; he hath it in the title to it; and he hath it in the seed and root, which will spring up to glory; for, he hath the Spirit in him, as a well of water, springing up to everlasting life. This life Christ prepares for them, and prepares them for it. These three comprehend the kinds of the believer’s life. But then,
II. The second thing proposed was, To speak of this property of the believer’s life, that it is hid, “Your life is hid.” It is hid, both in point of secrecy, and in point of safety.
1st, In respect of secrecy, it is wholly hid from the world, and partly hid from believers themselves.
1. It is wholly hid from the world; from the wicked and unregenerate world this life is altogether hid. The author of this life is hid, Jesus Christ, for, “The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not,” that they cannot see him. In all ages he has been hid; hid from ages and generations. Few under the Old Testament beheld him in the types and sacrifices of old. The Jews, under the New Testament, who saw him in the flesh, yet in seeing they saw not; they took him but for the carpenter’s son. How few still are there of these that hear of Christ, who know him in the power of his resurrection! The subject of life is hid, for, “He only is a Jew that is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, whose praise is not of men, but of God,” (Rom. 2:29). The believer’s life of grace is in the hidden man of the heart, (1 Pet. 3:4). The means of this life are hidden; for the believer may say as Christ did, “I have meat to eat, the world knows not of;” his life is maintained by the word and Spirit of God; now the word is a hidden word, not indeed as to the history, but the mystery of it; nor as to the letter of it, but the operation of it upon the souls of believers; hence the word of the gospel is called hidden wisdom; (1 Cor. 2:7), and it is said, “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God,” (v. 4). Natural wisdom, improved to its utmost, cannot see them; hence Augustine once said, Sergent indocti, et rapient caelum. Many learned wits, with all their learning, will drop into hell, when others take heaven by violence. But as the word, so the Spirit is a hidden Spirit; hence compared to the wind, “None knoweth whence it cometh, or whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” It puzzles the learned to tell what the wind is, and how much more hid are the operations of the Spirit! Again, the actings of this life are hid. O! what hidden things are the pangs of the new birth, the work of conviction, the way how sin is a burden, the way how the soul receives Christ, and rests upon him, the inward longings and desires of the soul after Christ, the heart-embracings of the promise, and the out-pourings of the heart before the Lord, under the out-pourings of the Spirit upon the soul! A person may be sitting at your side, and you know not what a sweet work is upon his soul; it islike the white stone and the new name that no man knows but he that receives it. Again, the privileges of this life are hidden privileges; the seal of the Spirit is a hidden privilege, when after they believe they are sealed with the holy Spirit of promise; the pardon of sin is a hidden privilege, intimations thereof are secret; peace with God, and communion with God, are hidden privileges. In a word, the comforts of this life arehidden, “Strangers intermeddle not with these joys.”
2. It is partly hidden from believers themselves. Their life is hidden from themselves. Sometimes through the remainders of sin in them; the spark of grace is so covered with the ashes of corruption as to be hid from their sight. Sometimes, through the temptations of Satan, when he sifts them as he did Peter; when the wheat is sifted, the chaff is uppermost, and the wheat is hid. Sometimes, through the pressures of affliction, and winter storms; then their life may be hid from them, as the life of the tree is hid in the root, during winter. And sometimes, through desertion, their life and comfort is hidden; when God hides his face, they are troubled; they may walk in darkness and have no light, (Isa. 50:10). Their life of righteousness and grace both may be hid under the dark clouds of unbelief, doubts, and fears. And as to their life of glory, this more especially is hid from them in time; for, though they are now the sons of God, yet it does not appear what they shall be, (1 John 3:2).
2dly, The believer’s life is hid in respect of safety; it is hid so as it cannot be lost. Though they may lose sight of their life sometimes; yet their life cannot be lost; it is well hid and secured, as you see; “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one,” (John 10:28-30). And what can encourage a poor soul in troublous times more than this, that he has a life that cannot be lost, a treasure that cannot be stolen; a better part that cannot be taken from him. Well, but how is this life secured, where is it hid and kept in safety? It is hid with Christ in God. This leads me then,
III. To the third head, With whom it is hid; it is hid with Christ; and that in many respects, which I only mention, and leave it to faith and spiritual understanding to enlarge upon.
1. The believer’s life is safely hid with Christ, in respect of indissolvable union. There is a close, spiritual marriage union between Christ and the believer; Christ is in the believer, by his Spirit; whence it is said, “Christ in you the hope of glory; and, He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit.” The believer is in Christ by faith; hence Christ is said to dwell in their hearts by faith. This union can never be dissolved, for he has said, “I will betroth thee unto me for ever.” This union with Christ secures the believer’s life in Christ; for it flows from a twofold gift of God, namely, his giving them to Christ from eternity, and his giving Christ to them in time. God’s giving them to Christ in the covenant-transaction before time, (John 17:6). This is the ground of their federal union with him. And then his giving Christ to them, in the dispensation of that covenant of grace in time, and making them to receive him, (John 6:44-45), this is the ground of their actual union with him. And from this everlasting union flows an everlasting vital influence from this glorious Head. For,
2. Their life is hid with Christ, in respect of safe custody, he having the believer’s life a keeping. The Father has made him the keeper of their stock, their store, their life; for, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand,” and particularly has entrusted him with them and their life, “Thine they were, and thou gayest them me; as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him,” (John 17:2 & 6). The believer also makes him the keeper of his life, saying, as it is, “I know whom I have believed; and I am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day,” (2 Tim. 1:12) The believer commits his life, and everything related to it, unto Christ; and Christ reckons himself obliged to keep it for him, as being both the Father’s trustee and his.
3. Their life is hid with Christ in respect of federal security, whereby this life is well secured to them in Christ, as the Head of the new covenant. Their life is hid with Christ; that is, with his finished work, whereby he hath fulfilled all righteousness, and so fulfilled the condition of the covenant, and thereby secured their eternal life. Their life of faith and hope here, by the way is hid with Christ; that is, with and in his death, resurrection, and exaltation; for, “By him we believe in God, who raised him from the dead, and gave him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God,” (1 Pet. 1:21). Their life is hid with him in his victory oversin, death, and the devil; for therein their life of triumph and victory for evermore is hid, “Thanks be to God, that giveth us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In a word, their life is hid with Christ in his life; because he liveth, they shall live also. Here their life is absolutely safe and secure; their life being hid with Christ says, that their life is as sure and safe as the life of Christ that has succeeded to his death. We use to say, Such a thing is as sure as death; meaning death to come; but the believer’s life is as sure as death past and over; even as sure, as it is sure that Christ was dead and is alive, and lives for evermore, having the keys of hell and death.
4. Their life is hid with Christ, in respect of his mediatorial station and relation to them particularly.
(1.) Their life is hid with him as the Lord of their life, the Lord-treasurer, the Lord-dispenser, who came to give life, and to give it more abundantly; and who begins their spiritual life, by giving them the Spirit of life, whereby they are born again, and born to an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for them. The Spirit is the earnest of the inheritance.
(2.) Their life is hid with Christ, as the purchaser of it. He is the meritorious cause of it; he has paid for it with the price of his own blood: “They are not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.”
(3.) Their life is hid with Christ, as the root where the sap is hid in the winter time; hence, saysChrist, I am the vine, ye are the branches,” (John 15:5).
(4.) Their life is hid with Christ, as he is their representative. He is gone to glory, and has taken possession of these mansions of glory for them, and in their room and stead, (John 14:2); and there they sit together in heavenly places, (Eph. 2:6); hence they drop the anchor of their faith within the veil, whither the Forerunner is for us entered, (Heb. 6:20). Thus their life is hid with Christ.
In a word, our life is hid with him, as he is the Prince of life, with power and authority commanding life to the dead soul; as he is the tree of life, quickening all that take and eat; as he is the bread of life, enlivening and reviving all that feed upon him: “He that eateth this bread shall live for ever;” and their life is hid with him, as he is the resurrection and the life; “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” (John 11:25); and as he is the God that quickens the dead. Hence,
IV. The fourth thing was to observe, That this life is hid with Christ in God. There is certainly some depth here that we have not yet looked into, even the fountain-head where this life is hid: it is hid with whom? With Christ. In whom? In God; “with Christ in God;” so that both Christ and the believer are hid together in God. May God open our eyes to see what is here; though there be more than men or angels can tell, yet we may dip a little into it, as far as we have scripture ground to set our feet upon, that we sink not out of sight into the depth. And,
1. A life hid with Christ in God, is a life of such acceptance with God, as belongs to Christ himself: “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved,” (Eph. 1:6). Christ, having finished the work the Father gave him to do, was justified in the Spirit, and accepted of God the Father: “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life that I might take it again: this commandment have I received of my Father,” (John 10:17-18). Christ being accepted of God, believers are accepted in him, and favored in him; their life is a life of favor with God, upon the ground of the favor he bears to Christ. They that are without God in the world, are without hope, without mercy, without the favor of God, being out of God; but to be in God, is to be in favor with him through Christ, or accepted and favored in Christ; and thus the believer lives in the love of God, and is filled with the fullness of God.
2. A life hid with Christ in God, is a life of such union to God, as Christ the Mediator lives, who is one with him. This wonderful life is spoken of as a thing that will be better known in the other world than it is now: “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you,” (John 14:20); and it is a branch of the Mediator’s prayer, “That they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us;” (John 17:21) and “That they may be one, even as we are one,” (v. 22). Here is an ocean too deep for you and me to dive into in time; O may we swim in it to eternity.
3. A life hid with Christ in God, is a life of such dependence upon God, as Christ the Mediator hath upon him. The divinity hides the humanity of Christ; the divine nature hides, supports, and maintains the human nature. Christ, as man, is indeed personally (by such a hypostatical union as is peculiar) hid in Christ as God; yet Christ, as Mediator and Head of the new covenant, is sustained and upheld of God in his mediation and mediatory work: “Behold my Servant, whom I uphold,” (Isa. 42:1). Thus the believer’s life is upheld, supported, and maintained by God; it is his God that holds his soul in life. Christ, the Head of the new covenant, and all his seed and members, subsist in, and depend on, God as their covenanted God: “I have made a covenant with my chosen; I have sworn to David my servant, thy seed will I establish for ever,” (Ps. 89:3-4).
4. A life hid with Christ in God, is a life of such dignity, glory, and honor, as Christ himself lives and is advanced unto. Christ is exalted to sit at the right hand of God, and they, being quickened together, are said to be raised up together, and made to sit together in heavenly places, (Eph. 2:5-6). This glorious life of the believer in Christ doth not now appear to any eye, but that of faith; however, the day cometh when every eye shall see it: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory,” says the words following the text. O what a high and honorable life is that of the saints in Christ! He lives in the glory of God; and the believer, whose life is hid with Christ in God, is said to be received into that glory of God: “Receive ye one another, as Christ also received us, to the glory of God,” (Rom. 15:7). Hence the church invisible is called, “A woman clothed with the sun (Rev. 12:1), with the moon under her feet;” sitting, as it were, in the throne of God, who has heaven for his throne, and the earth for his footstool. How do they resemble God in his glory, who have also heaven for their throne, and the moon, the earth, for their footstool, which they tread upon! Again,
5. A life hid with Christ in God, is a life of such perfect security and stability as Christ lives; for he lives in God, and their life is hid with Christ there, where it cannot but be safe and secure; as sure as the very life of God. It is hid in all the attributes of God, as glorified to the highest in Christ, whose throne is established upon all the magnified perfections of God: “Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne;” (Ps. 89:14), or, as in the margin, the establishment of it: “Mercy and truth shall go before thy face;for mercy and truth have met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” Hence the believer, whose life is hid with Christ in God, is said to dwell on high; the place of his defense is the munition of rocks. The meaning is, God is a rock round about him; a rock on every hand of him; all the attributes of God, like so many strong ramparts and bulwarks, do surround him.
6. A life hid with Christ in God, is a life of such rest and happiness as Christ lives in. God lives in himself, Christ lives in God, and the believer lives with Christ in God, who rests in the Father’s bosom, and so is the blessedness of God. It is the happiness of God to enjoy himself; and it is the happiness of the soul to enjoy God. God is called the resting-place of his people. God rests in himself, Christ rests in God, and the believer rests with Christ in God. When through unbelief, he is out of his resting place, he is like a wandering sheep, or like Noah’s dove, when sent out of the ark, that could get no rest to the sole of her foot till she returned. Let the wandering soul therefore say, “Return to thy rest, O my soul;” for, when he rests here, he partakes of the same happiness and felicity, the same joy and satisfaction, with God himself; he lives in God; and, O what a joyful and pleasant life is the life of God! “In his presence there is fulness of joy, and at his right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” Hence,
7. A life hid with Christ in God, is a life of such duration as Christ lives in God. God lives forever, Christ lives in God forever, and the believer’s life is hid with Christ in God forever. God is the eternal God; and to live in God is to have eternal life. Christ who was dead, is alive, and lives for evermore; yea, Christ is the true God and eternal life, and being the true God, he cannot but be eternal life. When we distinguish Christ from God, we only speak of Christ as Mediator between God and man; but Christ as God is eternal life; and the life that is hid with Christ in God, is eternal life. O believer in Christ, your life is hid and secured to eternity; you may lose your friends, and lose your means; you may lose your name, and lose your fame, but you cannot lose your life that is hid with Christ in God: it is hid with him who lives forever and ever.
8. A life hid with Christ in God, is a life of such unspeakable nearness to God as the life of Christ is: it is not only a living with God, but in God; that is, a life of communion with him, and conformity to him, flowing from a living in him, so as to live, as it were, a life of God. Natural men are said to be alienated from the life of God, through the ignorance that is in them, (Eph. 4:18); but the believer, by virtue of union to Christ, and acquaintance with him, may be said to live the life of God, because he lives with Christ in God, and so a life of as great perfection as a finite creature is capable of.
In a word, a life hid with Christ in God, is a life not only of him, and through him, and to him, but also in him. It is said, “Of him, and to him, and through him, are all things, to whom be glory for ever,” (Rom. 11:36). Now, this life is,
(1.) Of God, as the efficient cause; it is hid in God, as the cause hides the effect, or as the effect is hid in the principal cause. Christ is hid in the meritorious cause; God is the prime original and efficient cause of it; therefore Christ is said to be made of God unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. Thus it is of God.
(2.) It is a life through God, as the disposing and conserving cause; and it is hid in God as the conserved is hid in the conserver, or the preserved is hid in the preserver; so believers are called the preserved in Christ Jesus. The God that quickens the dead is the God that supports the living.
(3.) It is a life to God as the final cause; and hence all the promises of God, relating to this hidden life, are said to be Yea and Amen, to the glory of God. But not only is this life of him, and through him, and to him; but also,
(4.) It is in him, as the material cause: it is a life in God, who is the very matter of our life: the life of our life, the all of our life, the substantial life. The life of God is the life of the believer in Christ; hence such language as that comes natively from a believing soul; “My heart and my flesh cry out for the living God, the God that quickens the dead: Say to my soul, thou art my salvation; “thou art not only my Saviour, but my salvation; not only the author of my life, but any life itself; “In God is my salvation and my glory,” (Ps. 62:7). “Behold God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid,” (Isa. 12:2).
But for further clearing this great point, it may be a question, How are we to understand God here, when contradistinguished from Christ, “Your life is hid with Christ in God?”
Answer: We are to understand God here, either or both these following ways, viz., either personally, for the first person of the glorious Trinity; or essentially, for God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God. And,
1. If we understand it of the first person of the glorious Trinity, God the Father, then a life hid with Christ in God is a life hid in God, as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as he is the giver, and sender, and sealer of Christ; him hath God the Father given, for “God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son: that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life;” him hath God the Father sent, and him hath God the Father sealed. Now, our life is hid with Christ in God, as he is the God and Father of Christ, giving, sending, and sealing him to be the resurrection and the life to us.
2. If it be understood of God essentially, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God, then the import of the text is, Our life is hid with Christ in God, as he is a God in Christ; I say, it is hid with Christ in God, as he is a God in Christ. A glorious Deity, the three-one God, is a God in Christ, reconciling the world to himself; a reconciled God in Christ, and a reconciling God is Christ. Thus our life is hid with Christ in God, as he is a God pacified and well-pleased in Christ.; as he is a God in love with Christ, and with us in him; as he is a God in promise to Christ, and to us in him; as a God in covenant with Christ, and with us in him; and a covenant is more than a promise, it is a paction; and according to paction with Christ, who has fulfilled the terms of the paction, the covenant blessings must be communicated; the faithfulness of God is engaged to make out all the promises.
Thus our life is hid with Christ in God, as he -is a God in Christ, a God dwelling in Christ, and making all his fulness to dwell in him; “.It pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; “yea, that all the fulness of the Godhead should dwell in him bodily; and our life is hid in that immense treasure that is hid in Christ.
Thus also our life is hid with Christ in God, as he is a God in Christ, or rejoicing in Christ, in Whom his soul delighteth. O sirs! is it not enough to secure our eternal life, which is hid with Christ, that Christ is in God, and God is in Christ, insomuch that God’s life, and Christ’s life, and our life, are wrapped together? “Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
V. In the fifth place, I proposed to make application; but I must confine myself only to some few inferences. Is it so, that both in point of secrecy and safety, the life of the believer is hid with Christ in God?
1st, If it be so, in respect of secrecy, then hence see,
1. The difference between the righteous and the wicked, which yet is hard to discern, because the life of the righteous is hid; they are not of the world, and therefore the world hates them; their life is not a natural, but a spiritual life; not a visible, but an invisible life; not an exposed, but a hidden life: the best part of it lies in the hidden man of the heart; therefore many times their religion goes for a sham, and their sincerity reproached and reviled as hypocrisy. Their hidden life will one day appear, when Christ their life shall appear. Hence,
2. Many believers have doubts and fears about their own state, because their life is so hid that it doth not always appear to themselves. Their life is a life of faith, not of sense or sight; and it is the faith of things not seen. Herein God designs the glory of his invisible perfections, his faithfulness and truth particularly, when we trust in him for more than we see. Herein appears the excellency of faith. The apostle speaks of three precious things, the precious promises, the precious blood of Christ, and precious faith; why, it will be able to live comfortable, when all outward props are gone, even upon an unseen Jesus; “In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice:” (1 Pet. 1:8) hence compared to an anchor, (Heb. 6:19). When the anchor is cast out, it keeps the ship in the midst of the sea stable, by taking hold of something not seen by the mariner; thus faith and hope enter within the veil. The believer casts out his anchor, and it takes hold of things unseen, and as invisible as Christ in God, and God in Christ. Thus,
3. The believer’s hidden life bears some conformity to the life of Christ; “We are predestinated to be conformed to his image.” When Christ was on earth, his divinity was much veiled by his humanity; though rays of divinity sometimes shone forth in his miracles to convince the world; yet the wicked world said, he did what he did by Beelzebub; his divine person and glory was hid from the world, and so is the believer’s spiritual life; and, as Christ had meat to eat, the world knew not of, when it was his meat and drink to do his Father’s will; so believers have hidden meat, hidden manna, a hid and secret feast; “Bread eaten in secret is pleasant,” (Prov. 9:17), or bread of secrecies, as it is in the Hebrew. Our Lord Jesus, showing the excellency of the things of his kingdom, does it by the secrecy of them; therefore it is compared to a treasure hid in the field, which, when a man hath found, he hides, and for joy thereof goes and sells all that he hath, and buys that field, (Matt. 13:44).
4. Hence let none satisfy themselves, then, with the external part of religion, and seek no more; this is not the hidden life. The true believer values outward means, indeed, as the channel of life, but he sees this is not the water of life; therefore, he cannot be satisfied without union to Christ, for his life is hid with Christ; or without communion with God, for his life is hid with Christ in God. The hidden part of duty is the best part; and they have only a shadow of life that want this hidden life.
2ndly, Is their life hid with Christ in God in respect of safety? Hence see, not only what hidden provision believers have for maintaining their hidden life, but also what good security they have for their life to all eternity. O, believer, your life of righteousness or justification is secured, your life of grace or sanctification is secured, and your life of glory is secured, for it is hid with Christ in God. When you are to celebrate the Eucharist, do it with a song of praise, for Christ as your life, and for the security of it, as hid with Christ, and hid in God. O, sirs, how great is the blessing of eternal life, secured in the hand of the eternal God! Had God left our life and salvation in our own hand, we had certainly lost it; but O what cause have we to bless God, that has done this for us, to lay up our life where neither men, death, nor devils can reach it; and where the gates of hell shall not be able to prevail against us or it! Happy they that have fled to Christ, and are born again: they were born children of wrath, but now they are children of life; whose life being hid with Christ in God, is as safe and secure forever as the life of Christ in God, and consequently as the life of God himself. But who may lay claim to this life, and so to the seal of this security in the sacrament? This leads to another inference.
3rdly, Is the believer’s life hid with Christ in God; here, then, is a hidden mark of these who shall be worthy communicants in God’s sight; they have that spiritual life, which I told you consisted in a life of righteousness, a life of grace, and a life of glory. The last of these I need not speak of, except in so far as the two former, being the beginning and first fruits of it, afford them ground for the hope of glory; but all believers in Christ, for whom this communion table is covered, they have actually a life of righteousness, and a life of grace hid with Christ in God. Therefore, try and examine whether you are brought from a state of death in the first Adam, to a state of life in the second Adam. And,
1. Are you brought to a life of righteousness and justification before God? If not, then you are dead in law, and under condemnation; but, if otherwise, then tell me, where is your life of righteousness hid: where lies it? Can you say it is not in you? It is not in your works, it is not in your duties, it is not in your graces, it is not in your frames, it is not in your experiences; where, then is it? Can you say, before God, I have been shaken out of all hope of life and justification upon any other ground but the righteousness of God, the doing and dying of the Son of God, his obedience and satisfaction? “For now, without the righteousness of God, the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets, even the righteousness of God, which is by the faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all them that believe,” (Rom. 3:21-22). Have you been made to fly from the wrath of God, which is revealed from heaven in the law, against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, to the blood of God revealed from heaven in the gospel, to cover you from that avenging wrath? For it is said, “Being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him,” (Rom. 5:9). Are you begotten to a lively hope of justification, through the resurrection of Christ; and have no life at all this way, but by faith, saying, “In the Lord have I righteousness?” I have no righteousness for acceptance with God, but in him, who is “the LORD my righteousness.” Then you have a life of righteousness, hid with Christ in God; and a right to the sacramental seal, which is a seal of the righteousness of faith.
2. Are you brought to a life of grace or sanctification? If not, you are dead in sin and under the power and dominion thereof; but, if otherwise, then where is your life of grace hid and stored up? Some find all their life in their hand, as it is said, (Isa. 57:10), but the true believer has his life in his Head, even in Christ, “The Head of the body the church,” (Eph. 1:22-23). The life of grace is indeed in us subjectively, yet so as Christ only is the fountain of it. This life of grace makes a change of nature, heart, and life, in all that are the subjects of it. Restraining grace only ties up the wolf, but regenerating grace makes him like the Lamb, having some likeness to the holy Lamb of God. Christ, by his Spirit, is the life of this life of grace, according to the promise, “The water that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life,” (John 4:14). Christ is the root of this life. Separate the branch from the root, or break it off from the root, and then the life of it is gone, it dies; “I am the vine, ye are the branches; he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing,” (John 15:4&5). Christ is the fountain of this life; just as the sun is the fountain of light, and the fountain of these beams that shine into the house. Can the beams have any subsistence if they were kept by themselves, separate from the sun? Nay, you cannot shut the windows and keep the beams, or preserve them by keeping them by themselves, separate from the sun; take away the sun and the beams perish forever. Thus your life of grace has no bottom itself; the separation of it from Christ is the destruction of it. Self dependence, then, is self destruction, for the new creature has no dependence on itself without Christ, no more than a beam has on itself without the sun.
Well, have you such a knowledge and experience of this, with reference to the life of grace, as you see that this life is not in your hand, but in your Head, Christ Jesus? Are you content and well-pleased with this divine disposal, even when you find no life or liveliness, no strength or ability in yourself, that you have it to say by faith, in the Lord is my life and strength; “In the Lord have I righteousness and strength?” When you find yourself empty, can this satisfy your heart, that, “It pleased the Father, that in him should all fulness dwell,” and not in you; that your stock should be in his hand, and not in yours; that he should be the glory of your strength, the Lord of your life, and the dispenser and disposer of it as he pleases? Even when you find yourself dead, yet can the faith of this, that Joseph is alive, or that Jesus lives, bring in more contentment to your heart than if you had life at your own command? Dare you say, with David, “The Lord is the strength of my life; in this will I be confident?” (Ps. 27:1&3). This says, your life of grace is hid with Christ in God; and that you, dead as you are in yourself, shall be welcome to his table, who says, “Because I live, ye shall live also.”
4thly, Passing other inferences, I would close with this, that hence we may see the duty both of all these who want this life, that they may get the possession of what they want; and these who have this life, and are possessed of it, that they may get the comfort of what they have.
[1.] To you who want this life, I would say a word about your duty. If you would not wish to remain forever in a state of death, destitute of righteousness and grace; and if you have a life of righteousness, grace, and glory secured, then you must come to Christ, that you may have a life hid with Christ in God. And, in order that you may comply herewith, we shall, 1. Lay before you some motives to excite your compliance with the duty. 2. Offer some directions for your acceptable doing thereof.
(1.) We are to lay before you some motives to excite your compliance with the duty.
1. Consider, by way of motive, that while you remain in unbelief, you remain dead while you live. True believers, who have a life hid with Christ in God, they are dead to sin, and dead to the law, as a covenant; but you are dead in sin, and dead in law, under the curse and condemnatory sentence of it; and therefore you must be made alive, or else be miserable for ever.
2. O consider, that life is a precious thing, even natural life is very precious; “Skin for skin, and all that a man hath, will he give for his life,” (Job 2:4). I have read of a Roman drowning, that took hold of the boat with his right hand; and when that was cut off, he held with his teeth, till his head was cut off. Men will do much for their life; and, if natural life be so precious, what must spiritual and eternal life be?
3. Consider, that better you had never had natural life, if you have not this hidden life; better Judas had never been born, than to have betrayed the Lord of life; better you had never been born, than not to be born again to this life, or not to come to Christ for life, or that this should be a part of your doom, out of the mouth of Christ, “Ye would not come to me, that ye might have life.”
(2.) We next offer some directions for your right complying with this duty. Therefore, by way of direction, we exhort you,
1. To know and be persuaded of it, that you cannot have life in yourselves, nor quicken your own souls, you are surely dead; and it is as sure, you cannot raise yourself, no more than dead carcasses in the grave can put life into themselves. It is the God that quickens the dead who can breathe this life into you, and make you live this supernatural life, by faith; which faith sees there is no life but in Christ, saying, “I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” The life of faith is a mysterious living upon life in another, a life hid with Christ in God; and yet it is not only his life, but ours in him, for it is said, “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” What is this? A life not in ourselves, but hid with Christ in God, and yet must be yours by faith, that it may be said of you in particular, “Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
2. Hear and believe the word of Christ for it, his word is the word of life; “To whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life,” (John 6:68). Now, neither men nor angels can give life by their words, for no minister on earth, nor angel in heaven, has the words of eternal life; but, if Christ has warranted me to speak them in his name, then he can make them the powerful channel of life to your souls, who are dead sinners hearing me: and I must tell you these words of eternal life, that Christ only has, are put in my commission to speak unto all and everyone within these walls, according as the angel of the Lord says,“Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life,” (Acts 5:20). Why then, since there is a warrant given by him who says, “Go, preach the gospel to every creature;” and a warrant in his name to speak to you all the words of this life, that is hid with Christ in God; then he that hath ears to hear, let him hear the voice of the Son of God, who has the words of eternal life, so as to be able to convey life by a word; and who saith, “The hour cometh, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live,” (John 5:25).
Your dead and lifeless state is no valid objection; your dead and lifeless heart is no objection here; a dead and lifeless frame is no objection; it is quite out of purpose to make these objections, when that is the very case he takes in hand to cure. Dead and lifeless souls are these he is speaking to. Life can answer all; and it isthe Lord of life who is speaking. Death can be no bar in his way; nay, death is the desperate case itself, which he has come to cure with his word; what word? “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” (John 11:25).
O sirs, “Do you now believe?” Alas! say you, I do not feel life coming into my soul. O mistake not the matter, poor soul, you speak as if you were called to believe that there is life in you, or that you should first feel that there is life in you, before you believe. This is cross to believing. The question is not, if you feel life in you; it is better that you feel death and deadness, and sin and misery in you: the question is, if you will believe there is life in another, even life hid in Christ for you. Do you believe, that the life you need and want is in him, and that he will give it out as he pleases? Though you had been dead and stinking in the grave of sin and death for four days, yea, four years, fourscore of years, it is all a matter to him, when he, as the Lord of life and death, is speaking to you, and saying, “Lazarus, Come forth: Arise, the Master calleth you. Said I not unto you, if you would believe, you should see the glory of God?”
If the eternal life of your souls were not hid in Christ and unseen, it would not be the object of faith, which is the evidence of things not seen, but the object of sense and feeling, like things visible and sensible; and therefore, if ye now believe, though you have no sense or feeling of life in yourself, and believe that this life is hid with Christ in God, and that God is infinitely wise and merciful to you, in storing up your life and salvation in such a sure hand for you, then I will assure you, that, in due time, after ye believe, ye shall be sealed with the holy Spirit of promise, and shall experience the power and efficacy of his believed word. Therefore,
[2.] We should now speak to those who have this life, and are possessed of it by faith, that they may get the comfort of what they have hidden and laid up for them in Christ. Referring what I would say to you till afterwards, I shall only now say, your special duty is to believe yet more and more, and to be strong in the faith of what life you have in Christ, and strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Though you were never so dead and lifeless, dark and destitute of yourself, yet, having no confidence in the flesh, your duty is to rejoice in Christ Jesus, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; all the treasures of light, life, grace, truth, and fullness of wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, and all that is hid with him in God, for maintaining your spiritual life in time and eternity; saying, “In this will I be confident;” and, in this confidence, it is your duty to go to his table, praising him, and confiding in nothing that can be either seen or felt in you by sense; but looking to him through the glass of his own word by faith, and relying on that which is hidden and unseen; because your hidden life must be maintained with hidden manna; and thus believing, ye shall have the witness in yourselves, that “Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
A PART OF THE DISCOURSE BEFORE SERVING OF THE TABLES.
The sacramental supper, which now we are to celebrate, is an open seal of an hidden life, a visible seal of an invisible life; and these who are to be admitted with God’s allowance are only these who have a life hid with Christ in God, who have Christ for their life; therefore, all the dead are to be debarred, &c.; and all the living areto be invited, who live by faith, &c.
That, believers in Christ may go with the more confidence of faith to a communion table, I shall lay a few evidences before you of the life hid with Christ in God, both in point of secrecy and in point of safety. And,
1. You may know that you have a life hid with Christ in God, if you truly judge your life to be more safe in the hand of Christ, than when you have life and liveliness in your own hand. Do you think your own life safer in his hand than in your own? and can you bless God for putting all things into his hand, and your life also? Do you think the Father ought to be loved and adored, because he loved the Son, and hath given all things into his hand? (John 3:35).
2. You may know that your life is hid with Christ in God, if you reckon your hidden security your best, and even better than felt enjoyments. Though felt enjoyments be sweetest for the time they last, yet, do you know and believe that your hidden life in Christ is the surest? And hence, can you not live upon a promise believingly, even when you find not the performance sensibly, because you know that “all the promises of God are Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus, to the glory of God?” If you can do this, through grace, then you have a life hid with Christ in God.
3. You may know this mysterious privilege by this evidence, namely, your believing in him, as a Christ in God, even when you cannot feel him to be Christ in you. It is true, they are happy to whom God makes known “what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you the hope of glory,” (Col. 1:27). Christ in you is a great matter; and yet Christ in God is a greater and deeper part of the mystery. Christ in us spiritually is a great mystery; Christ in God, hypostatically and super-eminently, is a deep and adorable mystery; and Christ in God federally, as Christ’s God and your God, is a profound mystery, I confine myself to such a way of speaking about it, as I hope ordinary believers may understand. When you cannot feel him to be Christ in you, in respect of his gracious, comfortable presence with you, can you believe him to be Christ in God, in respect of glorious, ineffable presence with the Father, as your representative, knowing you have an Advocate with the Father? Then you have a life hid with Christ in God, if you can live by faith upon the fountain of life, when the streams of sensible enjoyments are dried up,
4. You may know if you have a life hid with Christ in God, if you see Christ in God’s light, and God in Christ’s light; Christ in the light of God, and God in the light of Christ: I mean, if you are brought to some knowledge and acquaintance with God in Christ, by the light of the word, which is the light of God; and in the light and illumination of the Spirit, which is the Spirit of God. God is not known but in the light and revelation of Christ: “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him,” (John 1:18). Christ is not known but in the light of God, by the Father’s teaching: “No man can come unto me, except the Father, which hath sent me, draw him,” (John 6:44). And how doth he draw to acquaintance with Christ? Why, “It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God: Every man, therefore, that hath heard and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me,” (v. 45). Tell me, then, has the Spirit been sent from the Father and the Son, so as to testify of Christ in the word to you, as you have seen his glory in that glass, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth; making him matchless in your eye, and so as, beholding his glory, you were changed into the same image? This says, “Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
5. You may know this mysterious privilege, that your life is hid with Christ in God, if you know where your life is hid, or if you know with whom, and in whom it is hid, by knowing the mutual union and relation between Christ and God. Indeed, it is one of the deepest points of knowledge that can be spoken of, to know Christ in God, and God in Christ; of this our Lord speaks to Philip, when Philip had said, “Shew us the Father, Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father,” (John 14:9) And, “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doth the works,” (v. 10). And “Believe me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me,” (v. 11) Why, what is it to believe that? It is even to believe that Christ is in God, and God is in Christ: to know this, is to know where our life lies.
But one may justly allege, That the time is not yet come for knowing this mysterious point of knowledge, since Christ speaks of another day for knowing it: “At that day ye shall know, that I am in the Father, and you in me, and I in you,” (John 14:20). Indeed, the day of glory will make it known in another manner; but yet the day of grace makes it known, so as to make it the object of faith, though not the object of sight and vision; and of this knowing of it, as the object of faith here in time our Lord seems to speak; for he is promising the Spirit of truth, (vv. 16&17), to be sent after his ascension, by whose illumination they should see him: for, “yet a little while, says he, and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also;” (v. 19) and then it follows, “At that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and the Father in me,” (v. 20). So that this hidden life is hidden in this knowledge, even as that word, “Because I live, ye shall live also,” stands between the seeing that is before, and the knowing that is after it: “Ye see me; and because I live, ye shall live also: at that day ye shall know.” When the Spirit lets you see me, in whom your life is hid, then “Ye shall know that I am in the Father.”
Question: How shall a person know that he understands such a deep mystery as this?
Answer: As it cannot be known but by believing it, so then you believe it truly, when, though you must confess your ignorance about it, yet your faith of it brings in a kind of pleasure to the soul, as it exhibits to your view the ineffable sibness [kindred] and oneness between Christ and God, the near and dear relation between them; yea, such a natural, federal union between them, as that their life and interest is inseparably wrapped together, and your life wrapped in, as it were, between them while it is hid with Christ in God, as his God and your God, his Father and your Father. This is life eternal, to know God in whom our life is hid: “Ye shall know that I am in the Father, and you in me, and I in you.” This is such a great matter, that Christ speaks of it to his Father, as well as to his brethren, “This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent,” (John 17:3).
6. You may know your life is hid with Christ in God by this evidence, namely, your knowing that the things of Christ are the things of God, (John 16:14-15), by the Spirit’s being sent to glorify Christ, and show these things of Christ unto you, and thereby guiding you into all truth, and so to the knowledge of the truth asit is in Jesus, and all the lines of truth relating to Jesus, the Saviour and Redeemer, centering in God, so as to be seen as the truths of God in Christ, and of Christ in God; then you may conclude your life of faith, upon these truths, is a life hid with Christ in God.
To make this more plain and particular, tell me, Have you seen all Christ’s mediatorial actings to be in the name and authority of God? And do you, on this account, depend upon him, and lay the weight of your eternal life upon him, knowing that all his works were wrought in God, according as it was prophesied, “He shall stand and feed,” [or rule](Micah 5:4), even the babe of Bethlehem, there spoken of, “In the strength of the Lord, in the name of the Majesty of the Lord his God.” Have you seen that Christ, in his doing and suffering, was sustained of God; that is, both by the power of his eternal Godhead as the second person of the glorious Trinity, and by the power of his eternal Father and eternal Spirit, as one God with him, and thus strengthened and upheld of God, who said, “Behold my Servant, whom I uphold; mine Elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my Spirit upon him, and he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles?” (Isa. 42:1). Do you see the blood and righteousness of Christ to be the blood of God, and the righteousness of God? and that therefore your life of justification is happily secured with Christ as he is JEHOVAH our righteousness, and so a righteousness hid with Christ in God? Do you see the grace that is in Christ, to be the grace of God, and the fullness that is in Christ, to be the fullness of God? and that therefore the life of grace that you have is not so much life and grace handed to you, as it is life and grace hid in Christ, and with Christ in God; knowing that grace and life communicated to you is but water in a vessel, soon spent and spilt; but the grace and life you have in Christ is water in the fountain of living waters, still flowing and overflowing, still unchangeable and inexhaustible; and therefore, are you brought off from leaning upon any grace received, and from relying on any grace, life, or liveliness in you, so as not to be desperate and hopeless, even when, to your sense, you are dead and lifeless; but can bless and adore him that your life is secured elsewhere, and can leave it to his infinite wisdom to let forth and send the Spirit of life as he pleases, and in a way and time that shall be most for his glory and your good? If so, then, “Your life is hid with Christ in God.” And, therefore, in his name and authority, I invite you to come to his table, that you may get your faith confirmed, perhaps your soul filled with joy and peace in believing.
THE DISCOURSE AT THE SERVICE OF THE FIRST TABLE.
Now, my dear friends in Christ, you whose life is hid with Christ in God, whether ye are sitting at, or coming to this table of the Lord, though your life, as to secrecy, is wholly hid from the world, and much hid from yourselves; and, as to safety, is well hid and secured for you; if you know where your life is hid, you may know that your life is not far to seek; your God is essentially everywhere, and your head, Christ Jesus, is personally everywhere, though his human nature is in heaven; his divine person is wherever God is, because he is Godman in one person; and may we not hope he is graciously and spiritually present by his grace and Spirit, when now also he is symbolically present in the elements of bread and wine. Your life is not far to seek, if you knew but the place where it is hid. It was once said by an angel, after Christ was risen, and not yet ascended to heaven, “Come, see the place where the Lord lay,” this was spoken of his human body; and the place where he lay might be seen by the eye of the body; but now that Christ is ascended to heaven, I have a greater word to say, relating to his divine person, and that is, Come, see the place where the Lord lies; come and see him in the bosom of the Father; come and see Christ in God; this you cannot see but by faith, and believing that he is Christ in God, or that he is the Christ of God. If, with your bodily eyes, you look upon the elements of bread and wine; yet, look to them no otherwise, but as they are the place not where he lay, but where he now lies. Why, say you, how can this be understood? Is the bread and wine the place where he now lies, when you enjoin us to come and see him in God? I will tell you how you may see the bread and wine to be the place where he lies; why, it is just by opening of the eye of faith to see that this bread is the bread of God, and this wine is the blood of God; that this bread is the bread of God that came down from heaven, that this is the blood of God shed for you; then will you see where your life lies hid, even with Christ in God, and that it is not far off. Faith has not far to go to see where your life is hid.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread, &c., saying, Do this in remembrance of me: remember I am the bread of life, the hidden manna for maintaining your hidden life. My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.”
After svper, he took the cup, saying, this cup is the New Testament in my blood, &c.
Now, this new covenant of promise, sealed with the blood of Christ, is the glass wherein to see that “Your life is hid with Christ in God; and, therefore, now let your faith be confirmed in this, O believer, that your life is hid with Christ in the promise of God; or, in a promising God, for, “All the promises of God are in Christ, Yea, and Amen, to the glory of God,” and this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life, the life of righteousness, the life of grace, and the life of glory.
See now, your life hid with Christ in the bosom of God; for he is the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father. O what a well secured life is this that you have, when hid with Christ in God’s bosom, even in the bosom of his everlasting love, which led him to say, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore, with loving kindness have I drawn thee.”
Your life hid with Christ in God, is a life hid with Christ in the blessing of God; for, God hath blessed him, and made him most blessed forever, (Ps. 21:6, or, as in the margin), Set him up to be blessings, saying, “Men shall be blessed in him, and all nations shall call him blessed.” O believer, God has blessed him and you; God has blessed him, to be a blessing to you; he has blessed him for the love he bore to him and you; he has blessed him for his love that he bore to you; and he has blessed his doing and dying for you, and accepted of it; he has blessed his flesh and blood, to be meat and drink to you.”
See now, your life hid with Christ in the seal of God, the privy seal appended to his commission, and to his names, and offices, and relations to you; for, “Him hath God the Father sealed,” and sealed to be the food of your life forever, and to be the meat that endures to everlasting life.
See now, your life hid with Christ in the purpose and decree of God, “Who hath saved and called you with a holy calling, not according to your works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which were given you in Christ Jesus before the world began,” (2 Tim. 1:9). Now, you may see your calling and election sure, in the calling and election of Christ, who was called and chosen of God to be your Saviour and Surety; according as he hath chosen you in him, before the foundation of the world, that you should be holy.
Now, also see your life hid with Christ in the relations wherein he stands unto God, as he is the Son of God, and the Sent of God; for, while his Sonship stands good, your life of adoption and sonship stands, “If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.” Do you know and believe that the Son of God is the Sent of God? This is much to be observed, for, what you thus know and believe upon the words of Christ, as they are the words of God, Christ in his prayers commends you to his Father for it, “I have given unto them the words which thou gayest me, and they have received them, and have known, surely, that I came out from thee, and they have believed, that thou didst send me,” (John 17:8).
Again, let faith be confirmed, O believer, that your life is hid with Christ, as in the relations wherein he stands unto God, so in the relations wherein God stands unto him, even as he is Christ’s God and Father, according to the new covenant prophecy, “Thou art my Father, he shall cry, thou art my God alone,” and accordingly, he went up to heaven, crying, “I ascend to my Father, and your Father, to my God, and your God.” O happy life, hid with Christ in God, as his God and your God, his Father and your Father, “And because ye are sons, he hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, ABBA, Father.”
Again, let faith here see, that your life is hid with Christ in the favor of God. It is said, “In his favour is life,” (Ps. 30:5), and, “In thy favour shall our horn be exalted,” (Ps. 89:17). What favor? Even the favor he bears to Christy for, where (though it is promised, that he will visit our iniquities with rods, yet) it is said,
My favour I’ll not take from him,
Nor false my promise make;
My covenant I’ll not break, nor change
What with my mouth I spake. (Ps. 89)
Your life is hid in the favor that God bears to Christ; you are favored and accepted in the Beloved.
O believer, eat and drink; yea, drink abundantly of the strong wine of consolation, so as to be filled with joy and peace in believing, that your life is hid in the wisdom of God; and, indeed, infinite wisdom cannot contrive a better hiding place for your eternal life, nor a better security for it.
Your life is hid with Christ in the power of God; for, as Christ is the wisdom of God, and made of God wisdom to you; so he is the power of God, and made of God your strong Redeemer, mighty to save, and able to save to the uttermost: and a life hid in the Almighty power, is it not well secured against all the power of earth and hell? The life of many, even of our countrymen abroad at this day, is not secured, you hear, from the power of a bloody sword. The life of this generation in Britain is not secured from the power of France and Spain; we know not how soon the life of thousands may be a prey to the devouring sword;1 but, O here is comfort in threatening times; for, I cannot only tell you, “It may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger,” if you live by faith upon these hidden securities you have with Christ in God, but without all peradventure, your spiritual life, come what will, is securely hid with Christ in the power of God; and you shall be kept by his power, through faith, unto salvation.
Again, feed upon this meal, that your life is hid with Christ in the holiness of God, who has sworn by his holiness that he will not lie unto David, his seed shall endure forever: yea, his holiness in Christ secures your being holy as he is holy, and the perfection of holiness at last.
Feed upon this meal further, that your life is hid with Christ in the justice of God. It is true, sin-revenging justice secures the eternal death and destruction of all the wicked; but, O believer, the satisfied justice of God in Christ secures your eternal life, your life of justification and freedom from eternal death and condemnation, and from all obligation to vindictive wrath; for, “God is just, and, the justifier of them that believe in Jesus.”
Again, your life is hid with Christ in the mercy of God, as it vents through the blood of Christ; and the grace of God, as it reigns through the righteousness of Christ unto eternal life. Yea it is hid with Christ also in the faithfulness of God: for “Mercy and truth have met together in him, righteousness and peace have kissed each other;” and God says, “My faithfulness and my mercy shall be with him,” (Ps. 89:24). What! are these perfections of God hid with him, and your life hid with him in these, perfections of God? It says your life is bound in the same bundle.
In a word, your security, O believer, is such, that your life is hid with Christ, in all the other attributes of God, that I have not yet enumerated, and shall not now insist upon farther: but shall only add, that the cup of strong consolation you have to drink has this in it, that your life is hid with Christ in God, as he is one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: for, as you are joined to Christ by the Spirit, of which he says “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me;” (Isa. 61:1), so, he being anointed for you, and you anointed with the same oil of gladness, wherewith he is anointed above his fellows, when, by virtue of this unction and union with him, your life is hid with Christ the second person, the middle person of the Godhead, then is it not hid, as it were, in the centre of the glorious Trinity? O drink at this cup of consolation! Can you wish for, or imagine better security for your life in time or eternity? My text allows me to give you all the comfort and assurance that is imported in a life hid with Christ in God.
You have now got some food for your faith; live therefore a life of faith, that by faith, ye may live a life of holiness and comfort to the praise of his name. Has he provided so well for your life, and seen to the security of it? O then live to the honor of his name, a witnessing and warning life against all your sins, and against all the enemies of his glory. Be not ashamed of him nor of his words in this adulterous and sinful generation, but appear for him now: for, “When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory:” whereas, these that are ashamed of him, and his words and truth, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them will he be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father, with his holy angels.
A DISCOURSE AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE SOLEMNITY.
I shall close with a word, First, To those who are dead in sin still. Secondly, To those who are made alive in Christ, and have a life hid with Christ in God.
1st, To you who never yet were made alive by the hearing the quickening voice of the Son of God, and are strangers to this life hid with Christ in God; I would offer two advices to you before you go.
[1.] Be sensible of these things which relate to your present case, your dead state.
(1.) Be sensible of the signs of a dead state about you; you want the signs of spiritual life: I name a few of these, particularly four.
1. Heat and warmth is a sign of life, which you want. Every one that is made alive in Christ, they have something of a warm breath toward God and man; toward God in prayer, toward man in conference, and speaking of divine things; but in these things ye are key-cold; and your cold breath evidences that ye are dead in sin; for where life is, there is heat. If you be made alive, by a spiritual life, then there will be some spiritual heat and heart-burning in love toward, the Lord Jesus; “Did not our hearts burn within us?” Where the mind is enlightened with some saving insight into the things of God, the heart is heated with love to them; they receive the truth in the love thereof.
2. Life may be known by appetite and desire after, nourishment; spiritual life is attended with spiritual hunger after Christ, the true bread of life. The living soul pants and breathes after the living God: but your want of appetite shows you are dead in sin.
3. Growth is a sign of life; but ye are not in case for growth, unless it be to grow worse and worse; you do not grow in grace, nor in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. That which lives, grows till it come to full maturity; so, where spiritual life is, there is growth and progress. It is true, believers are sometimes under a decay, and corruption remaining, and lust prevailing, may, like a thief in the candle, waste his graces: but, if they be living Christians, they strive against them, and recover again; and grow, if not in the bulk of grace and duties, yet in more sweetness; like apples at their full growth, if they grow not bigger, yet they grow riper and sweeter; so a believer, if he grows not more to the bulk of duties and graces, yet he grows more to the substance and sweetness of duties, and more to a rootedness in Christ: he grows in grace and in humility: and hence, though he grows in knowledge, he grows in a humble sense of ignorance; he grows in faith, and yet in a humble sense of unbelief; in love, and yet in a humble sense of remaining enmity, &c.
4. Motion is a sign of life: the believer is in a perpetual motion, even when he is steadfast and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord; unwearied in the service of Christ. Life has a twofold motion, a forward motion to everything that tends to advance it; and a backward motion from everything that tends to destroy it; so the believer has a forward motion, a propensity, habitually to everything that may contribute to the advancement of his spiritual life; hence the word and ordinances, and means of grace, are loved and prized by him: also a backward motion from, or habitual hatred of everything that may contribute to destroy his spiritual life; hence sin and error, temptation and delusion, will be abominable to him: and the more life, the more hatred of sin, which is destructive to it. As nature shuns its own dissolution; so the new nature, the new creature, shuns whatever tends to the destruction of it; and hence sin is most hateful to the believer, when he is most lively, or, when spiritual life is most active; but, this sign of life, this spiritual motion is what you want. It is tine, hypocrites move; but it is as the clock moves, only by weights that hang at it; so hypocrites may move in some duties by the weight of law-threatenings, or the weight of credit, custom, and the like; but the believer moves from an inward principle, “The water that I give him, shall be in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life,” (John 6:14). This inward principle of spiritual motion you want, that are in a dead state; your duties are dead duties, your faith is a dead faith.
(2.) Be sensible of the evils of this your dead state. Particularly,
1. Be sensible of the sinfulness of your dead state. To be dead in sin is the worst of deaths; to be dead in the grave is nothing; for Christ was once there; but to be dead in sin is a death he could never die. To die a shameful, painful, ignominious, and cursed death, is consistent with the favor of God, and with the holiness of God; for, Christ died such a death; but a sinful death is every way opposite to God.
2. Be sensible of the dreadfulness of your dead state; you therein are under the loss of all things that are desirable; as when a man is dead, he loses all right to his goods, they pass to the next heir; so you being dead, have no right even to temporal blessings on earth, nor to the heavenly inheritance in the life to come. You have no right to anything but hell and divine wrath; and, indeed, you have a manifold right and title to everlasting wrath; a title by your first father’s treason; a title to it by your original and universal corruption of nature; a title by your innumerable actual sins, and acts of rebellion; and a title to it by refusing God’s indemnity, and rejecting the remedy God has provided in the gospel.
3. Be sensible of the deformity of that dead state; as a dead carcass, ready to putrefy, is a loathsome sight, so are you loathsome in God’s sight, and in the sight of all living Christians; your person and prayers are abominable to God, and you are an abomination to the just.
4. Be sensible that it is a destitute state. A dead body is destitute of the soul; and a dead soul is destitute of God. You are destitute of the holiness of God, the image of God, the grace of God, the favor of God; destitute of, and alienated from, the life of God; destitute of strength and ability to help yourself; yea, destitute of the will of God, that should help you. You are not so much as willing to be saved from your sin, from your carnal walk and carnal company having no life, you have no will to be delivered from death, “I would have gathered you, but thou wouldst not. Why will ye die?’
[2.] Be restless in the use of the means of life, till you partake of this spiritual life, and having a life hid with Christ in God. What means, say you? Why, there is a hearing that is attended with life, “Hear, and your souls shall live;” there is a reading that is attended with life, “Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life;” there is a praying that is attended with life, “Your hearts shall live that seek the Lord;” there is also a coming, a way of coming to Christ, that is attended with life; for want whereof Christ complains, “Ye will not come to me, that ye may have life.”
O then, dead sinner, come to Christ for life, for eternal life is hid with him, “And he that hath the Son hath life.”
Objection: Why do you desire a dead man to come to Christ?
Answer: Because we do it in the name of the living God. The God that quickens the dead. Why did God command Ezekiel to prophesy to the dead and dry bones? (Ezek. 37:4) Because God, in whose name he prophesied, could make the spirit of life to enter into them; therefore hear who speaks to you, “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” (John 11:25).
Objection: But what if he be not willing?
Answer: Why, indeed, I can assure you from his word, he is more willing to give life, than you are willing to ask it; and if you be made willing and ready to ask, he is willing and ready to give, “If thou knewest the gift of God, thou wouldst have asked of him and he would have given thee living water, even the Spirit of life,” (John 4:10). “If ye, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give his holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 12:13). Therefore, O sinner, as you would not die forever, go away from this occasion to a secret corner, and ask of him this living water, this living Spirit, lest you never get such an occasion, or such an offer again.
2dly, We tender a word to you who are made alive in Christ, and have a life hid with Christ in God. I would essay this by offering you a few advises,
1. Give God the glory of your life, even though you have a life of death about you, (Rom. 7:24-25), and saying, “I thank God, through Jesus Christ, there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” (Rom. 8:1).
2. Be much in the actions of spiritual life, much in the exercise of spiritual graces, and in the performance of spiritual duties, “Be stedfast and immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” (1 Cor. 15:58).
3. Are you risen with Christ, and brought to life? Then, “Seek the things that are above, Set your affections on things above,” (Col. 3:1&2), there is your life hidden.
4. When you come under any decay or deadness, take still a faster hold of Christ, and live by faith on him, and you shall not want life, “He that hath the Son hath life,” and the more the Son you have the more life.
5. Improve your life to the quickening of others, and, by your example, your walk, your talk, your whole deportment, let the world understand that you live a better life, and have better joys, than these vanities they take pleasure in.
6. Beware of everything that may mar your spiritual life, or mar the comfort of it. Beware of spiritual pride; beware of carnal company; the dead and the living cannot be good company to one another; beware of unwatchfulness, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation.”
But the main advice I designed was, that you maintain the comfort of your life, by rejoicing in Christ Jesus, so as the joy of the Lord may be your strength. This then is your duty and privilege both, to rejoice in the Lord, (Phil. 3:3, 4:4). Rejoice in his love, that he hath loved you, and given himself for you. Rejoice in his merit and righteousness, as the ground of your access to, and acceptance with God. Rejoice in his strength and ability to save you to the uttermost, to subdue all your sins, to heal all your diseases, to supply all your wants. Rejoice in his covenant, as well ordered in all things, and sure. Rejoice in his victory over the world, and the God of this world; and over death, “Thanks be to God, that giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ; and which always causeth us to triumph in Christ;” Spiritual joy in the Lord, is a part of the life you have to live. And, finally, rejoice in this, that “Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
Many topics of consolation I have already offered upon this; and shall close with some more. Many times have we spoken of God in Christ, but never so directly of Christ in God. The reason of the variation of that phrase in scripture flows from the close union betwixt God and Christ, as Christ says,“I am in the Father, and the Father in me,” that is, Christ is in God, and God is in Christ. This ineffable union is both natural and federal, as Christ is both the Son of God, and the sealed of God; and hence arise these following grounds of strong consolation to believers:—
1. Is it not comfortable, that your life is hid with Christ, in the will and pleasure of God, who says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased?” Our salvation is owing to the will of God, and the will of Christ, who came to do the Father’s will with goodwill, saying, Lo, I come I delight to do thy will, O my God. By which will we are sanctified and saved.”
2. Is it not matter of comfort, that your life is hid with Christ, in the glory of God, or in his design of glorifying all his excellencies and perfections to the highest, by giving and securing your life this way, that you might be to the praise of his glory, as it is said, Your life cannot be lost any more than God will lose his glory; and so his loss will be infinitely greater than yours, (Eph. 1:12).
3. Is it not comfortable, that your life is hid with Christ in the unity and individuality of God, not only in the Trinity of persons, as I said above, but in the unity of the Godhead, the persons being distinct, yet not divided, but united in Christ? Christ speaks of the security of his people’s life and happiness, as in his Father’s hand, and his own hand, from this argument, That He and his Father are one, (John 10:30); for, being one in essence, they are one in interest and design.
4. How comfortable is it, that your life is hid with Christ in the spirituality of God; or, as he is a Spirit, the Father of spirits, and the fountain of spiritual life, and of all spiritual blessings? Spirit and life are joined together, “My words, they are spirit, and they are life.” Our life could not be hid with Christ, if it were not in God as a spirit.
5. How glorious is the mystery, that our life is hid with Christ in the infinity of God, as he is an infinite spirit, whose understanding is infinite, and who is infinite, in his wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and faithfulness! Though we are finite creatures, yet our happiness and life cannot lie in finite things, because they have bounds and limits; whereas, the cravings of the rational soul are boundless and insatiable. Again,
6. How comfortable is it, that your life is hid with Christ in the eternity and immortality of God! And therefore says he, “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” And hence we may say, “This God is our God for ever and ever.”
7. What comfort is here, that our life is hid in the immutability of God, or in God as he is the unchangeable God, who says, “I am the Lord, and change not; therefore the sons of Jacob are not consumed!” Hence, whatever changes come, sword, famine, and pestilence; come darkness, and desolation; come death and judgment; yet your life is secured in him who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
8. O what comfort is here, your life is hid with Christ in the invisibility of God; or in God, as he is the invisible God Things visible and temporal are transient and vanishing; but things invisible and unseen are durable and permanent: therefore, says the apostle, “We look not to the things which are seen, but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal,” (2 Cor. 4:18). The more we live upon the invisible God, the more we out-live all the visible turnings of time, and master all the difficulties of our way, and overcome all adversaries and adversities, were it the wrath of men and devils: hence it is said of Moses, “He endured as seeing him who is invisible,” (Heb. 11:27).
9. Is it not also good and comfortable, that your life is hid with Christ in the omnipresence and omniscience of God, as well as in the omnipotent power, as I said formerly? It is hid with Christ in the God that is everywhere present; and therefore says, “Lo, am with you always; Do not I fill heaven and earth?” Wherever you go, I will go with you, were it through fire and water; wherever you dwell, I will dwell. He who inhabiteth eternity, dwells everywhere, and can be with his people, in a fiery furnace, in a lion’s den, in a whale’s belly, in a dungeon; and he will always know their case, and hear their cry, and bottle their tears, and hearken to their most secret sighs and groans, because he is the omniscient God.
10. In a word, O how comfortable is it, that your life is hid in the very life and being of God! For, Christ is in God, and God is in Christ; “I am in the Father, and the Father in me:” their life is wrapped together, and your life is wrapped in with theirs. O what is this; You will never reach to the bottom of this cup of consolation: here is a depth you may dive in to eternity.
A life hid with Christ in God, has all these things, and infinitely more than I can tell, included in it: all the springs of everlasting comfort are here, and that on four accounts.
(1.) Because Christ himself is God, equal with the Father and Spirit, in power and glory: and therefore has life in himself, and can quicken whom he will, (John 5:21&26).
(2.) Because, as Mediator, Godman, he is fully furnished to quicken his members; for “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” (Col. 2:9).
(3.) Because this stock of life he has, is communicative; hence it is said, “Of his fulness have all we received,” (John 1:16). He got it that he might give it out to dead sinners; for, “He is the bread that came down from heaven, and giveth life to the world,” (John 6:51).
(4.) Because you who are believers are, by faith, united to the fountain of life, and to the Lord of life, who says, “BecauseI live, ye shall live also. Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
O then, sirs, go away rejoicing in the life you have; not merely in the life you have handed to you, or communicate, which is but a filling of the vessel; but mainly in the life you have secured for you, and hid with Christ in God: for, this is the fullness of the fountain. Bless God for what is handed to you: this may be the object of spiritual sense and experience; here you taste that God is gracious; but glory in what you have hid and secured for you; for, this is the object of faith, which you may always live upon, by believing that he who is your life is Christ in God, even when you cannot feel him to be Christ in you: and thus you shall live by faith upon the fountain of life, even when the streams of sensible enjoyments are dried up; and this ye shall be always able to do, so long as you believe that “Your life is hid with Christ in God.”
We had formerly occasion to observe, that this nation was engaged in an open war with France and Spain: and Germany becoming the seat of the war, occasioned many of our forces to go over thither; numbers of which fell a pray to the devouring sword, in the several bloody engagements they had with the enemy. And France, the better to effectate her designs in Germany, was at this time (viz., 1745) meditating an invasion upon Britain, in favor of the Pretender. His son accordingly undertook the enterprise, and had even before this time (viz., on July 18th) privately landed on an island in the northwest of Scotland with a small party, and was soon joined with a number of disaffected persons at home, which was the beginning of a very unnatural rebellion, and soon involved the whole nation in confusion and intestine disorder; and terminated, in the issue, with the effusion of much blood. (Back to reading)