Chapter 12

Of the Love of the Father and Christ to the Church from John 15:9 and John 17:23, {where I began the whole Mystery} briefly closed up.

Once more, now I come to shut up this Mysterious Love briefly, with a full and closing parallel, in the co-equal Demonstration of the Father’s love and of Christ’s love, in the Union of the Two Natures, “and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me,” and again, “as the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.” So, as the Father hath loved me, “me” before the Foundation of the world, so hath the Father loved “you” before the Foundation of the world, Eph.1:4, too. Yea, and “so” have I, saith Christ, loved you. Oh! Marvelous depths in the love of Christ that surpasses, Eph.3:19, all knowledge! That passeth what the body of the saints can know, and which none but the Head himself can fully comprehend! That passeth too what the greatest part of the saints believe! That transcends what some of his own Thomas-like-disciples, Jn.20:25, from present measures of the light of the knowledge of Christ, will receive, who link their hands among us, by adding rebellion to their sin, Job 34:37, and saying we will not believe! This knowledge-passing love of Christ is a meet parallel with the love of the Father, where it all began; ‘tis “hath loved” me and “have loved” you. I would lay these things a little together for the close of Love’s Mystery, as God, the Comforter, Jn.16:7,14,15, hath opened them in the Holy Scriptures.

To sum up the matters; as the Father had predestinated that Christ should embrace his spouse, the spouse of God falls, dies, and is lost, as to help and recovery by herself, or by any others decreed to be above her by Creation; and as the Father predestinated him Mediator in the said Covenant-Capacity, to undertake for this ancient, fore-viewed spouse, now fallen into enmity, Rom.5:10, and alienation, Eph.4:18, from the life of God; and as the Father predestinated him to go through all manner of degrees of love for her; calling up all the gradual and successive changes presented in his eye and thoughts for the Covenant-Man to go through; as the Father had contrived and pitched upon this way of love to be in Personal Union with the Son; as he had proposed it to the Son to be Christ-Man, and come under the Operation and Unction, Heb.10:5, of the next Person to him, the Holy Ghost. As the Father had Predestinated and Covenanted with him, that he should condescendingly, patiently and perseveringly go through all degrees of his Sufferings, to the utmost extremity of his trial, in cruel mockings, scourges, agony, crucifixion, dereliction, {or desertion,} death and burial; till by accomplishing all the several parts of his Office on Earth, he came back into his own country in Heaven, and there the Man took up his reward of and with the Father. Thus, as the Father predestinated, there should be errand enough for Christ to send his Son into the world! Errand enough and more business in making atonement for sin, and bringing in everlasting righteousness, Dan.9:24, than all the angels, Heb.1:5, in Heaven could have done, world without end! “But Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.” {Isa.45:17} That there should be ground in his low estate to plead, “Father, glorify me with thine own self, with the glory which I had with thee before the world was,” Jn.17:5; and as the Father had predestinated, that God the Spirit too should come after Christ, and finish the Applicatory Office, as Comforter, till he, the Man, that came down from Heaven, Jn.3:13, became mystically a Perfect Man, Eph.4:13, in his body and members; and so a glorious Bridegroom personally unto his fore-viewed, predestinated, created, and after her Fall, restored spouse; even as was counseled between and among the Father, Son and Spirit in the Counsel of Peace, Zech.6:13; and so to present her faultless before the Presence of his Glory with exceeding joy, Jude 24, which you will say now was that great love, Eph.2:4, on the Father’s part! Aye, great love! This was the Ancient, Primitive and Eternal Love of God! This was primo-primitive, or the First of Love’s Primitive! This was the Dawn and the Spring of Grace in Everlasting Love! This was originally the Father’s love. Yet I say, as this Predestinating Love of the Father appointed the Son to be the Man Christ Jesus, the first Pattern-piece of all his subsequent work, and then Predestinated the Church to be his spouse, to be drawn by and after the beautiful lineaments, Ezek.16:14, and exact Master-Piece, Christ, the Glorious Pattern of all God’s Works and Ways in Nature, Grace and Glory; and as, upon these Predestinating and Covenanting Acts of God the Father, the Glory-Image, the Covenant-Man, the Image, and Man of God is assumed, taken and received into Covenant-Union in the Second Person, and so is personally One Mediator, I Tim.2:5, and forever to remain, God-Man; accordingly, to rise up into an equality with the Father’s thus loving Christ, and into an equality with the Love of the Father towards the foreknown, fore-viewed, and mystically-secret, glorious spouse in this Covenant Head and Husband on the Father’s Part.

The Son of God consents to be the Christ of God, and a branch of Jesse’s roots, Isa.11:1, or ancestors. “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God,” Heb.10:9, “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.” Psal.40:8. And thus in Union with the Man consents to execute and perfect the whole Decree of God. He actually condescends, and undertakes what he had consented in Covenant Council and Grace Purpose. He, the Covenant-Man, in Union in the Son of God, comes out of his Father’s bosom, at his Father’s sending, to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself, Heb.9:26; he becomes the Incarnate Man, the Birth-Man, according to his Man-Covenant, in the spouse’s fallen nature, and in her room and place, in this depth of his Love, he comes into the virgin’s womb! And from thence into a world of sin and sorrow, and so through a manger, wilderness, hunger and thirst, persecutions by the enemies, angry desertions of his Father, stripes of men, the cross and the grave, before he received his own open crown, and openly paid for her Ransom! How great is the love of Christ!

Thus choosing all, and dying for her, in her stead he is made sin, feels God’s wrath, pours out his soul unto death, and becomes her Sacrificed Surety; and according to this Infinite Love, God in this Union of the Man, carried her, and is made a curse, Gal.3:13, for her! Conquers death by dying and rising again, that death hath no more dominion, Rom.6:9, over him! He raises her up mystically and secretly with himself, and clothes her with the Robe of Righteousness, Isa.61:10, in Glory with him the Man, according to the Glory-Settlements! That as the Father has given him a New Name, the Glory-Man {as in John} instead of Wisdom {as in Solomon,} so he will give his own new name to her. “I will write upon him my new name,” Rev.3:12, that where he is in Open Glory, they shall be gathered and come unto him into a measure of the same manner of exhibited Grandeur with him.

Here is the Glory of the Union-Settlements, that as Christ stands in God openly, so she by standing openly in him, stands in God with him, or sits down after all victory below upon his Glory-Throne in the Church, as he hath overcome, and is set down upon his Father’s throne! And thus the Supra-lapsarian decrees too, and all their fit accomplishments in the same way are swallowed up in bliss, as if it had been executed and consummated at the first Beginning of the Decree in God’s way, and so commenced immediately the Supra-lapsarian Glory, without any intervening sin or cloud, an over-Fall, or Fall-preventing Glory, before the Open Dawnings of the morning Glory arose! The bringing it all through the under-fall way, is to bring it up again unto the other! Therefore Grace and Righteousness in the Subordinate Decrees do reign in One; Grace to give us Christ-Redeemer, and Righteous Justice to exact payment of Christ, and accept of him for our Ransom! “That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” {Rom.5:21}

Now all these Executive Means and Preparations of the Open Glory are spoken of as done by Christ secretly, Psal.139:16; though our Anti-secret Justification-men will have no Justification at all before believing! Yet it is all done in Christ, before a stroke of it is done through him, or, it could never have been done through him to Eternity. If we look into the Old Testament, we shall see it was secretly done then; now the LORD accomplishing a thing, in pre-determined Grace and Purpose, is a doing it secretly, as to its appearance in time or as to our perception of a thing, though unto HIM who is altogether Infinite and Eternal, accomplished and certain; and as doing it through Christ is doing it clearly, as doing it with Christ is doing it openly. Nevertheless, as to the openness of the effects, and sensibleness of the joy thereof, in the Church’s triumphant I will and my soul shall, it was yet, and is still to come under her, in the reunion of soul and body at the Resurrection.

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” Isa.61:10. I will rejoice, my soul shall be joyful. This is spoken of the Church’s glory-power and glory-will to rejoice, and be joyful in the open bridegroom-glory, and open vestures of the Church’s bridal state, in the Glory-Kingdom of the Resurrection. This was future, as to an open existence unto her; and yet was past as to the secret existence of it to her, and as to the open being of it to God; for he hath clothed me; he hath covered me; and he has done it as a Bridegroom, who at the consummation of his open nuptials, being a great Prince, doth it in the open face of men.

This revealed Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, is to have his open bride, the Church. He is entered into his own open Glory-Union, openly to stand in God’s own Son, that now God and Man are openly one Person in the Mediator; and next from thence arises the open glory-union of the several espoused members; at the latter days, Job 19:25, their Husband-Maker will cause them as openly to stand in Christ, as Christ stands in God. And thus by him to stand in God with him, and therewith to be one into them, as Christ prays for their final Glory-Union, even as the Father is in Christ, Jn.17:21,23, and as Christ is in the Father.

Here now it is that Christ’s love rises up into an Equality and Comparison with God’s love of her, in that he was pleased to do all this in Union for the Church. Indeed, Predestination in Christ and Redemption by him are co-equal Depths and Wonders of the Grace of God!

Besides, the Spirit’s choosing, consenting, and coming home to the soul, and applying all, as also his being in her, and dwelling in her forever, as the Comforter, to root her into Christ, and ripen her into Glory, is an equal loving her of God with the love of the Spirit!

So that when the Second and Third Persons in Redemption and Advocacy, as well as Regeneration, and the Ultimate Measures of Sanctification, have finished all the Church’s Glory, by bringing it up exactly to that amazing Pattern-Glory of the Predestination-Love of the Father, the Lord will open the mysteries of her Eternal Glory-Union, and then shall be openly brought to pass that mysterious saying in Christ’s prayer that is written in the 17th of John, which hath puzzled so many divines to understand it, “that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us,” vs.21; yea, one into us, as the original in verse 23 expresses it, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one,” yea, says Christ, “and the glory which thou gavest me I have given them,” vs.22; that is, in the Transaction and Settlements from Everlasting, “that they may be one,” in the open glory of those Settlements, “even as we are one,” in the Covenant and Foundation of them.

Oh! This is to be openly and clearly made out at the opening of the Glory-Day! This is to be effected by the same perfect and final marrying of all the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, in an open Union-Glory, into God and Christ, as was laid with God, upon the Foundation of Eternal Settlements! And then it follows, “that the world may believe that thou hast sent me,” vs.21, that the world may believe? How is that? Not that the world may believe his mission of the Father to be saved thereby. For, at the fulfilling of this glorious, open scene, the number of God’s elect by calling them will be accomplished, in his having brought in every one of their elect names by Effectual Grace, and having married them in the Open Union, to be disclosed before the world, upon that solemn day approaching! The meaning therefore is not, that the world may believe then and be saved, but that the world may believe then and be damned, who had no pleasure in the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness, II Thes.2:12; again, that the world may believe, and the Son of Man be justified in his course against the wicked, and that God who judgeth by him may be cleared. Psal.51:4. The world shall believe, and therein Christ receives Honor and Glory, in putting a peculiar disgrace and everlasting shame and contempt, upon all the Mockers and Despisers of Revealed Truth! “That the world may believe” there is such a glory for the saints in and with Christ, which they would not believe under the Preaching of the Gospel, had been reserved to this open day for them. They shall just see the opened Wonder of Distinguishing Grace and perish for despising it! “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish; for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” {Acts 13:41} They shall see, and then be struck blind, and cast into outer darkness, Mt.8:12, forever! Then the world, who now will not receive the Testimony, but are swallowed up with eye, hand and heart in other things, shall believe that God hath sent Christ, his Son, according to all the foregoing Glory-Scheme, and account given of these matters, which the Scriptures have set him forth by, as prepared to be sent, from Everlasting. “And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.” {Jn.3:32-33}

And to what end shall the world believe this? Why, to glorify the Justice and Severity of God in their own Righteous Condemnation. And as it is said of the Jews for rejecting the true Messiah, and embracing a counterfeit head and a wandering star, Jude 13, “and they shall pass through it, hardly bestead and hungry; and it shall come to pass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward.” {Isa.8:21} For, so did the Jews at their discomfiture by the Romans in the towns of Upper and Lower Bethoron1 when they saw their false Messiah overthrown in Battle, and that they all were ruined by the cheat Bencosba;2 then they cried out the “son of a lie, the son of a lie;” and looked upwards to God for another man to help them; believing how they had befooled themselves; though that conviction of the imposture did not end in faith on Jesus Christ neither. Likewise, so the world shall fret and be consumed, and look upwards to this Glory-Man, whom God hath appointed to judge the world in Righteousness, Acts 17:31; and think they were bewitched to give him no more respect, according to the counsel of his word; but set up every false creature-show of wisdom, power and holiness; yea, their own lusts above him! That the world may believe that the Father hath sent him, and see every matter done by him, Jn.5:22, whom he hath determined to inflict their torment and anguish, Mt.25:41, in and after the last Judgment, for mocking and despising the Gospel without the works of the Law, Rom.3:28, and setting up the idol of their own wisdom, righteousness, temper, trifles, and any thing but the Power of Godliness. II Tim.3:5. Then the world shall believe that Christ was indeed of God the Wisdom-Wonder of Time and of Eternity! And shall be made to know that the elect had believed on him! Then at that day it shall be seen, Rev.1:7, when ministerial preaching is over, that the world had been all their lives opposing, reproaching, crossing and rejecting, or else neglecting and slighting the most Noble Wonder of the whole Creation! “Whom hast thou reproached and blasphemed; and against whom hast thou exalted thy voice, and lifted up thine eyes on high; even against the Holy One of Israel.” {Isa.37:23}

I know of no other way of partaking of the Divine Nature, than by this open transformation beyond Adam, Mt.17:2, and conformation of our bodies and state in the Glorious Kingdom to the Glory-Image, to Christ in his glorious body and condition; though I have written a treatise upon these words in II Pet.1:4, “partakers of the Divine Nature,” and therein examined 15 different opinions among the hundred and ten Expositors which I examined about the mystery intended by that phrase in Peter. “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” {Phil.3:20-21}

Thus, I have made out how a thing is done secretly in Christ by Settlement of the Father, as the Foundation and Pattern of doing the same things outwardly by Christ, by the worth and dignity of the Son; and then of doing the same things diversely through Christ, because of the Influence and Virtue of his Mediation, {hence the Righteousness of Christ imputed hath a virtue to transform the nature of the person to whom it is imputed, and in that transformation of nature the person receives the said Righteousness by Faith,} conveyed and brought home by God the Spirit, as the Comforter, from them both; namely, from the Father and the Mediator, and hereby have shown that the whole Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit to act distinctly in their Order, in, by, and through Christ. I say, I have thus in doctrine made it out, though I have eminently and more largely insisted on the Love of God and Christ to the Church. And I look upon this last paragraph to be, in the shortest way of expressing things, an abstract of the very Marrow of all the Gospel.

But now to retort all this long and weighty argument upon Mr. Hunt, of striving to express love in equal strains, wherein that brother had almost said what he should abhor to even think. Oh! How has Christ set out his love in the Canticles, every way answerable to all the high discoveries I have represented his love by in other portions of the Word; and was the spouse, as a spouse, the spouse of Christ, ever in a capacity loving him at this rate? She knew she could not, even when she had a glimpse of his love in that vehemency of love described, Song.8:6, for though they are her words, yet it is more agreeable to depart from interpreters and apply them to the love of Christ, “set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm; for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave; the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.”

“Set me as a seal upon thine heart.” Oh! It was a higher strain of love, and privilege to be so engraven, than it could be of love and duty to desire it! It was more for her to be set as a seal upon Christ’s heart, than it was to ask it from her own heart, and with her lips together, “as a seal upon thine arm.” “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.” {Isa.49:16} It was a higher strain of love in Christ to seal the spouse upon his Arm, or Mediation-Power wherewith he was invested to embrace her, and so to present her name to God in the very Office she saw he was to bear in Heaven for her {namely, the Mediatory Relation he undertook to manage and pursue, as a High Priest and Advocate with the Father in all his pleas to God} than it could be a strain of love in her, to fall down at the Throne of Grace and beg it. “And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.” {Exo.28:29}

“For love is strong as death.” Oh! Says she, “seal me,” for I am sure thou wilt stick at nothing for me! Thy love is strong, and will not flinch for death; but is as strong as death. As strong as that death of piercing hands and feet, my Lord designs to die for me, for it was spoken according to the believing and expected views of it to open, Gal.3:8, under the Old Testament. So strong is his love to choose it! So strong is his love to feel it! So strong is his love to wade through it! But why is it not expressed stronger than death, if it be meant of Christ’s love? I answer, because stronger than death was the fullness of power to conquer death; whereas here the scope is, to set out love to undertake, and taste, Heb.2:9, of Death. Now, love strong as death sets out the fullness of love to undertake it. Love strong as death to choose a strong death, the death of the Cross for us, Phil.2:8; and then it is Power of the lover still, and so stronger than Death to conquer what he undertook. And thus, one Attribute dost not entrench upon another.

“Jealousy is cruel as the grave,” thou wilt be jealous, thou, my Lord, the Man, of the spouse’s departure into Sin and the Grave, and hence leaving thy Heavenly Glory, to come down and take thy lodging with her in the grave! “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” {Heb.2:14-15} Oh! In faith I can then boldly say that I know but one dark night since the “morning stars sang together,” Job 38:7, and that was when my Redeemer was put to bed! And that bed was his grave, when the stone was sealed, Mt.27:66, and the watch of the sepulcher set about his grave site! Yet jealousy is cruel as the grave, the dark and wasting grave, that both shuts up and consumes our bodies into dust. He will yet come down, and die {says the Faith of the Old Testament Church in this text} and be buried, though God’s Holy One, to secure the welfare of the spouse; and yet he shall not see corruption, Psal.16:10, or, be wasted in the cruel grave that dissolves everybody else, and devours all flesh committed to the dust beside. However jealousy, love-jealousy shall bring him down, to suffer Death and Burial in the grave too. Thus, as the High Priest touched with the feeling of our infirmities, Heb.4:15, the Lord Himself, I Thes.4:16, descends from heaven with a shout, “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” {Mt.8:17}

The coals thereof {the coals of jealousy} are coals of fire. As if she had said, “seal me; seal me;” for I know the fire of thy love will bring thee down hither! And lo! When thou comest into the world, I know already by the breathing of thy lips, Isa.11:4, that thou wilt do more than that for me! Thou wilt do more than seal me, for thou wilt die for me! Oh! Seal me for thine! For I know thou wilt not thrust me into this world alone! Seal me, as I cannot be safe without it! The devil courts me; the world sometimes flatters me; my own wicked heart betrays me; and is oftener worse than all else I sense upon me! Oh; seal me, seal me, and do not live in jealousy! I know ‘tis coals and fire, coals of fire; for it would be a greater burden to thee to bear the loss of me, in my departing from the Lord my God, Heb.3:12, because I am thy spouse, one with thee in Eternity, and to be taken up into Glory to be so again with thee forever, than to go through death and the grave for me! A jealous thought of losing me from my constant duty, from my faithfulness and loyalty unto thee my Lord, breaking wedlock, Ezek.16:38, and marriage-covenant, as a wife, Jer.3:14, with thee in the dear relation, is a fire that will make thy love quickly break forth, to secure me more to thee from the power of sin than ever! For the Lord my God is a jealous God. Exod.20:5. Thus she goes on, and concludes of these coals of jealousy, that they are like fire, and thus pleads Covenant Wedlock Bonds to insure her security, and raise her banner unto her LORD. “We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners; the LORD fulfill all thy petitions.” {Psal.20:5}

“Which hath a most vehement flame;” as it will break out as flame that kindles from the fire, and show the vehemency of the love of Christ unto me! Seal me therefore upon thine arm; for I know thou wilt not leave me, to cast me off forever! Lord, seal me, and seal me fast, that I may not loosen from my place, and drop to any others besides thee! “O LORD our God, other lords beside thee have had dominion over us; but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.” {Isa.26:13} For it is easier for thee to engrave and seal me on thy heart and arm, by showing me a token for good, Psal.86:17, than to do that which thou doest in the daily sacrifice, Dan.8:13, in order thereunto! And so to do that which thou art prepared in love to do and claim me as thy own, secured by the Everlasting Arms. “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” {Deut.33:27}

Judge of it then by this vehemency of love in Christ, yea, by the superlative equality with the Father’s Love, and then tell me, if it be not quite an open disparagement, “almost to say, there is no love lost between Christ and his Spouse?” See, if by all this in the preceding chapters it be safe to say, “I had almost said there is no love lost between Christ and the Spouse, when yet Christ loveth her, as the Father hath loved him?” And what a wonderful Glory-Love that is of the Father to Christ, I have somewhat largely, through Divine help, made appear. Now, it is clearly a defacing of the Love of Christ to bring it down thus from its glorious Heights, and bring it forth thus out of its Secret, Glory-Depths, and then match it with the worm, by comparing the love of the creature to the Love of the Creator! For by that phrase of no love lost, we commonly mean comparison of love, or equality of love, so almost saying there is no love lost, must be almost saying the comparison, almost saying the equality of God’s and the creature’s love! And then come off with his excuse at last, to justify all this extravagance, by saying, “there is in some things a dark resemblance!” A poor dark shift to maintain his disparagement, rather than blot it out! As if saying there is in some things a dark resemblance in these two loves and these two lovers, were equivalent to almost saying no love lost; and so much for the eighth of the large sections.

I have gone, or rather have been carried {for I am unconcerned with the ignorant charge of enthusiasm by pretended learned men of any persuasion, who never knew the Bible} far beyond what I first designed; but then it is upon the Love of God and Christ; and who is there {made to understand it} that is not swallowed up in it, even so is sometimes to forget one’s self? And indeed, what has been occasioned upon this Love since the fourth chapter of my Vindication {to which farther Vindication now I return and proceed with} will be found, if duly considered, a general answer to the far greater part {I may say all the doctrine amiss} in Mr. John Hunt’s book. However, I must be abundantly cautious to be brief in most of the other particulars that follow, or I shall swell this volume beyond {not only the designed, but} all ordinary bounds.

1 Attacked in 70 A.D., by four Roman Legions under Roman General Titus.

2 According to the History of the Jews, after the death of Christ, another Messiah appeared, named Barcosbas, or as some called him Bencosbas, who gained over the most enlightened man the Jews possessed at that period {namely Rabbi Akeeba, as we learn from the Talmud,} and succeeded in inducing the Jews to rebel against the Romans; which, amongst other things, resulted in their destruction by Vespasian, and his son Titus.