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fuch inward terrors and fears of spirit about it, when that terrible reprefentation was made you, will be loth to feel thofe gripes, and diftreffes of conscience again, for the best enjoyment in this world.
Bleffed be God if any word has been brought home to our hearts, which hath been inftrumental to bring us to Chrift!
SERMO Ο Ν XXII.
The Teachings of GoD opened, in their Nature and Neceffity.
JOHN vi. 45. It is written in the Prophets, And they fball be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
HOW neceffary to our union with Jefus Chrift, the application of the law, or coming home of the commandment to the heart of a finner is, we have heard in the last dif courfe; and how impoffible it is, either for the commandment to come to us, or for us to come to Christ, without illumination, and inftruction from above, you fhall hear in this.
This fcripture hath much of the mind of God in it; and he that is to open it, had need himself to be taught of God. In the foregoing verfes, Chrift offers himfelf as the bread of life unto the fouls of men: against this doctrine they oppofe their carnal reason, ver. 41, 42. Chrift ftrikes at the root of all their cavils and objections in his reply, ver. 43, 44. "Murmur not 61 among yourselves: no man can come to me, except the Fa"ther which hath fent me draw him ;" q. d. you flight me becaufe you do not know me; you do not know me, becaufe you are not taught of God; of these divine teachings, the prophets of old have spoken, and what they foretold is at this day fulfilled in our fight; fo many as are taught of God, and no more, come unto me in the way of faith: it is impoffible to come without the teachings of God, ver. 44. It is as impoffible not to come, or to mifcarry in their coming unto me, under the influence of thefe divine teachings, ver. 45.
The words read, confift of two parts, viz.
First, An allegation out of the prophets: "It is written in "the prophets, And they fhall be all taught of God." The places in the prophets to which Chrift feems here to refer, are, Ifa. liv. 13. "And all thy children fhall be taught of the Lord;" and, Jer. xxxi. 34. "And they shall teach no more every man "his neighbour, and every man his brother, faying, know the
Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them "unto the greatest of them, faith the Lord." Thefe promises contain the great bleffings of the new covenant, viz. Divine inftruction, and heavenly illumination, without which, no man can be brought up to the terms of the new covenant.
Secondly, We have here the application of these testimonies, out of the prophets, made by Chrift himself; "Every man therefore that hath heard, and learned of the Father, cometh unto me." In which words, we have, both the neceffity, and the efficacy of these divine teachings; without them no man can come, and under them no man can mifcarry. The words being fitly rendred, and the fenfe obvious,
The notes are,
Doct. 1. That the teachings of God are abfolutely necessary to every man that cometh unto Chrift, in the way of faith. Doct. 2. No man can mifs of Christ, or miscarry in the way of faith, that is under the special inftructions, and teachings of the Father.
Doct. 1. That the teachings of God are abfolutely necessary to e very man that cometh unto Chrift, in the way of faith. Of the neceffity of divine teaching, in order to believing, the apoftle speaks, in Eph. iv. 20, 21. "But ye have not fo learned Chrift, if fo be that you have heard him, and been taught by "him, as the truth is in Jefus ;" (i. e.) Your faith muft needs be effectual, both to the reformation of your lives, and your perfe verance in the ways of holiness, if it be fuch a faith as is begot ten, and introduced into your hearts by divine teachings. Now, in the explication of this point, I shall speak diftinctly to the following enquiries.
1. How doth God teach men, or what is imported in our being taught of God?
2. What thofe fpecial leffons are, which all believers do hear, and are taught of God?
* They who believe, by means of the preacher speaking to them outwardly, hear and learn inwardly of the Father; they who believe not, hear outwardly, but not inwardly. Aug. on Predeft. chap. 8.
3. In what manner doth God teach these things to men, in the day of their converfion to Christ ?
4. What influence God's teaching hath upon our believing? 5. Why it is impoffible for any man to believe, or come to Christ, without the Father's teachings.
First, How doth God teach men, or what is imported in our being taught of God? To this I will fpeak, both negatively and pofitively, for your clearer apprehenfion of the fenfe and meaning of the Spirit of God in this phrase.
First, The teaching of God, and our hearing and learning of him, is not to be understood of any extraordinary, vifional appearances, or oraculous and immediate voice of God to men: God indeed hath fo appeared unto fome, Numb. xii. 8. Such voices have been heard from heaven; but now thefe extraordinary ways are ceased, Heb. i. 1, 2. and we are no more to expect them; we may fooner meet with fatanical delufions, than divine illumination, in this way. I remember, the learned Gerfon tells us that the devil once appeared to an holy man in prayer, perfonating Chrift, and faying, I am come in person to visit thee, for thou art worthy. But he with both hands fhut his eyes, faying, Nolo hic Chriftum videre, fatis eft ipfum in gloria videre; (i. e.) I will not fee Chrift here; it is enough for me to fee him in glory. We are now to attend only to the voice of the Spirit in the fcriptures: this is a more fure word than any voice from heaven, 2 Pet. i. 19.
Secondly, The teachings of God are not to be understood as oppofite unto, or exclufive of the teachings of men. Divine teachings do not render ministerial teachings in vain, or useless. Paul was taught of God, Gal. i. 12. and his converfion had fomething extraordinary in it, yet the miniftry of Ananias was ufed, and honoured in that work, Acts ix. 4, 17. compared. Divine teachings do indeed excel, but not exclude human teachings. I know that fcripture, Jer. xxxi. 24. to which Chrift here refers, is objected against the neceffity of a standing miniftry in the church, "They fhall teach no more every man his "neighbour, and every man his brother," &c. But if thofe words should be understood abfolutely, they would not only overthrow all public ordinances of God's own iftitution, 1 Cor. xii. 28. and deprive us of a principal fruit of Chrift's afcenfion, Eph. iv. 11, 12. but, for the fame reason, would destroy all private inftructions, and fraternal admonitions alfo. Such a fenfe would make the prophet to contradict the apoftle, and spoil the confent, and harmony of the fcriptures: the fenfe thereof cannot
be negative, but comparative; it fhews the excellency of divine, but doth not deftroy the usefulness of human teachings, Subor dinata non pugnant. The teachings of men are made effectual 'by the teachings of the Spirit; and the Spirit in his teachings will use and honour the miniftry of man.
Thirdly, But to speak pofitively, the teachings of God are nothing else, but that fpiritual, and heavenly light, by which the Spirit of God shineth into the hearts of men, to give them "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of "Jesus Christ," as the apostle speaks, 2 Cor, iv. 6. And though this be the proper work of the Spirit, yet it is called the teachings of the Father, because the Spirit who enlightens us is commiffioned, and fent by the Father to to do, John xiv. 26. Now thefe teachings of the Spirit of God, confist in two things, viz. in his,
1. Sanctifying impressions. 2. Gracious affiftances.
First, In his fanctifying impreffions, or regenerating works upon the foul, by virtue whereof it receives marvellous light and infight into fpiritual things; and that not only as illumination is the first act of the Spirit in our converfion, Col. iii. 10. but as his whole work of fanctification is illuminative, and inftructive to the converted foul, 1 John ii. 27. “The anointing "which you have received of him abideth in you, and ye need "not that any man teach you, but as the fame anointing teach"eth you." The meaning is, that fanctification gives the foul experience of thofe myfterious things, which are contained in the fcriptures, and that experience is the most excellent key to unlock, and open thofe deep fcripture-myfteries; no knowledge is fo diftinct, fo clear, so sweet, as that which the heart com. municates to the head, John vii. 17. "If any man do his will, ❝he fhall know the doctrine." A man that never read the na ture of love in books of philosophy, nor the transports and ecstafies thereof in hiftory, may yet truly describe and exprefs it by the fenfible motions of that paffion in his own foul; yea, he that hath felt, much better understands, than he that hath only read or heard. O what a light doth fpiritual fenfe, and expe rience, caft upon a great part of the fcriptures! for indeed fanctification is the very copy or tranfcript of the word of God upon the heart of man; Jer. xxxi. 33, "I will write my law in
their hearts" fo that the fcriptures, and the experiences of believers, by this means, anfwer to each other, as the lines and letters in the prefs, anfwer to the impreffions made upon the paper; or the figures in the wax, to the engravings in the feal.
When a fanctified man reads David's Pialms, or Paul's epifiles, how is he furprized with wonder to find the very workings of his own heart, so exactly decyphered, and fully expreffed there! O, faith he, this is my very cafe; these holy men (peak what my heart hath felt.
Secondly, The Spirit of God teacheth us, as by his fanctify. ing impreffions, fo by his gracious affistances, which he gives us pro re nata, as our need requires, Mat. x. 19. "It shall be "given you in that fame hour what ye shall fpeak," John xiv. 26. "He shall bring all things to your remembrance:" he afsisteth, both the understanding in due apprehenfions of truth, and the heart in the fpiritual improvements of truth. And fo much briefly of the firft particular.
Secondly, In the next place, we are to enquire what those special truths are which believers hear, and learn of the Father, when they coine to Chrift.
And there are divers great, and neceffary truths, wherein the Spirit enlightens men in that day. I cannot fay they are all taught every believer in the fame degree and order; but it is cer tain they are taught of God fuch leffons as these are, which they never fo understood before.
Leffon 1. First, They are taught of God that there is abun dantly more evil in their finful natures, and actions, than ever they difcerned, or underflood before: "the Spirit when he "cometh fhall convince the world of fin," John xvi. 8, 9. Men have a general notion of fin before; fo had Paul, when a Pharifee: but how vaftly different were his apprehenfions of fin, from all that ever he had in his natural ftate, when God brought home the commandment to his very heart! There is a threefold knowledge of fin, viz. traditional, discussive, and intuitive. Thé first is in the more rude, and illiterate multitude. The fecond in more rational and knowing men. The third is only found in those that are enlightened, and taught of God. And there is as great a difference betwixt this intuitive knowledge of fin, whereby God makes a foul to discern the nature, and evil of it, in a fpiritual light, and the two former, as there is betwixt the fight of a painted lion upon the wall, and the fight of a living lion that meets us roaring in the way. The intuitive fight of fin is another thing than men imagine it to be: 'tis fuch a fight as wounds a man to the very heart, Acts ii. 37. for God doth not only fhew a man this, or that particular fin, but, in the day of convictions, he fets all his fins in order before him. Pfal. 1. 21. yea, the Lord fhews him the finfulness of his nature, as well as practice. Conviction digs to the root, fhews, and lays open