The Everlasting Love of the Father to the elect vindicated.

Now I come to the Everlasting Love of the Father to the elect, yet still with our eye upon Christ the beloved Pattern. See John 17:23. “That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” From hence it is a thousand times more consistent to believe God’s Everlasting Love to us, Jer.31:3, upon the Foundation of his loving Christ, as Christ, than to believe God’s Love to us begins with our Faith, Repentance, Obedience and Qualifications upon earth. I say, God’s Everlasting Love, for I am not yet come down from the Supralapsarian Mount, though occurrences of the several Predestinated Matters, to make things both more plain and profitable, have often obliged me to look down upon the Sublapsarian Ways and Means of Execution, intending there to take the matters further up, if the Lord will, in convenient time and place. How consistently doth God’s Everlasting Love spoken of in Jeremiah 31:3, fall in with all those texts which speak so much of God’s Love to Christ! ‘Tis far more agreeable to match it with that Love, which began from Everlasting with the Glory-Man, before the Production of his works of old, than to date God’s Love to my person from my yesterday’s Faith, Repentance, and my today’s Holiness in good works, as the Arminians do.

Let us now consider the text, “the LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.” {Jer.31:3} The Lord hath appeared of old unto me. “Of old,” saith the LORD, canst thou remember when? And so cuts the speech {as was going on} off. Our translators understanding the Hebrew, it may be, better than the Mystery of this Love, have thought to render the period more smooth and intelligible, by putting in the word ‘saying,’ the Lord hath appeared of old unto me ‘saying,’ but it is far better without that word foisted into the copy; and then read thus, “the Lord hath appeared of old unto me; yea, I have loved thee with an Everlasting Love.” Read it thus without that spoil-text word ‘saying.’ Read, “the Lord hath appeared of old unto me,” and there stop, for the Lord stops the Church, takes her up, and will not give her time to say more, when she came to express herself {and by the Lord’s guidance too, prompting her to utter it} in that notable phrase “of old,” which the Lord Himself would take upon him to expound for her.

What has she applied it to? Yesterday’s Love in comparison; for she had only look backwards upon some One Temporal Deliverance, though withal a very remarkable one, under the gracious Providence of God, of old in the wilderness, and when God just put her in mind of it too, verse 2, {for the spouse there was so far from striving to express her Love in high strains with Christ’s Love, as Mr. Hunt in the Canticles runs on, that truly she had forgotten Providences of the Divine Favor, without having to be reminded of them.} Thus saith the Lord {there he puts her in mind} “the people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.” This runs it up to a notable height and antiquity of the Love.

What, when or where doth he mean? Why, in God’s bringing the people out of the land of Egypt, they had rebelled, Isa.63:10, against Father, Son and Spirit. They had set up the idolatrous calf, Psa.106.19, under the very Mount of Horeb, where God had but newly published the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20, in the sight of all Israel {for the mountain burned,} Heb.12:18, and in the audience of the whole Congregation; for the voice of God was so terrible, “they could not endure that which was commanded,” Heb.12:20, and of the ten words had given them the express form of the second against idolatry; yet presently Moses, their typical mediator, Gal.3:19, had no sooner turned his back, and gone up into the Mount to God, Exod.32:1, but lo, the children he had brought out of Egypt would be playing with fire, Exod.32:6, though just before they had received, Deut.33:2, the fiery law! “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play;” and what did Aaron say in the matter of the calf, but as if they played with the fire, and intended only sport? “And I said unto them, whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me; then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf;” as if the calf had sprung out of the fire beside their expectation; whereas he knew the golden earrings could not work themselves into the form presented, but Aaron had “fashioned it with a graving tool,” Exod.32:4, and made a molten calf of the running metal.

Upon this Moses gathered all the sons of Levi together on the Lord’s side, and made every man of them put his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his neighbor; and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men. Then it follows on in Jeremiah {where I am opening} “the people that were left of the sword;” and how came it that the sword did not devour them all? Moses, having found grace in God’s sight, falls upon a prevalent Intercession with God for that sinning people, Exod.33:12, and on to the 17th verse, and there it is God tells him, “the people also had found Grace in his sight;” and thereon he spared them in the Wilderness, and did not cut them off for that idolatry, as some of them were, and as God had proposed unto Moses they might all be, as they had deserved. “Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast showed unto me in saving my life.” {Gen.19:19}

And thus we come up in Exposition full to the words as they lie in Jeremiah, the people which were left of the sword found Grace in the wilderness. When? He tells us that too very expressly; when “I went to cause ‘him’ to rest.” That is, when I said unto Moses, “now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them; and I will make of thee a great nation.” This is the meaning of the change of number from ‘them’ to ‘him.’ ‘Tis not when I cause ‘them’ {the people in the wilderness who had found grace too,} ‘tis not when I went to cause ‘them’ to rest, but when I went to cause ‘him’ to rest; or, to give the people up with resignation into my hand, and say no more for them, but leave me to punish their idolatry, and cut them all off, and make Moses the Man to begin with again, for a New Generation to inherit the Land of Promise, Heb.11:9, and let it now run on forwards in Moses’ Name, the people of the God of Moses, as before it had been the people of the God of Abraham.

Well, when the Lord had once put the people thus in remembrance, how near they were in all appearance to have been extinguished; the Church could now think upon it, as to what a great mercy it was she had found this Grace in the wilderness, and been thus spared; and under a sense of this great Deliverance, she now puts in and speaks her Experience from the Lord in the first words of the third verse, “the Lord hath appeared of old unto me.” Aye, here was the great appearance she now took notice of in the “loving kindness of the Lord” under her; and how much further she might have gone on, being now put in remembrance to magnify God’s Love to her of old in the wilderness, {for Jeremiah speaks it in the ‘name’ of the faithful part of the Church who had now enjoyed the Mercy of a great many ages standing, as he pens the mourning in his Lamentations in the Church’s name likewise,} the Holy Ghost would not allow us to know, it being not material to the main purposes that follow in the execution; and so he interrupts her, makes her break off her speech upon this one word she had got up into her mouth, ‘of old,’ that she can’t go on, nor attempts to do so.

The rest of the words in the verse are none of hers, but God’s; and he takes her up for post-dating. Of old? Aye, thou dost not know how old. Older than Moses, older than Abraham; once more, older than the Old-Man, older than Adam himself. Old indeed! And then he breaks with it to her. Yea, says God, and however thou speakest of that old, I’ll run it up higher; I’ll run it up beyond the bounds of time! “Yea, I have loved thee with an Everlasting Love!” A Love before drawing thee; for I derive all my drawings of thee from it. A Love that has caused thy faith, and did not tarry for it; I made me sure of that in the Covenant with my Son about the Everlasting-Man, who is now the Covenant-Man in heaven, and shall come down from thence to be the Incarnate-Man on earth! Thus he comforted the old Church with his Everlasting Love.

I stumble not at Love to Me from Everlasting! “I have Loved thee, says God to the Church, with an Everlasting Love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” And though this Ancient Love is a riddle, a riddle to thee that art under the influential and effectual drawings thereof, and the Time is not yet come that much of it shall break forth; yet I have a day {“the time of reformation,” Heb.9:10, saith the LORD} in mine eye when I will have all my people acquainted with this Love! “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” {Mt.11:13} I will then reveal myself unto them at the same time to be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people; though yet they be not born, nor will come into the world to be my open people till many ages hence. Jer.31:1. “I am come … to fulfill.” {Mt.5:17} This he had laid down at verse 1; and so far from there being any Objection against this Love of the Elect from Everlasting, that ‘tis a strengthening argument to have been from Everlasting hid with God in Christ, Col.3:3, for them, till the Time came to Open; for it was Open Matters to be, which he was foretelling in verse 1, and goes on further, declaring the Secret Foundation of God that standeth sure, II Tim.2:19, upon which these Open Matters to be were laid. For, when he breaks out, it is to be all in Sovereign Grace. “At the same time, says he, all the families of Israel shall be my people;” as much as to say, there is another Israel which runs on in the Name of many ages; but they are not mine, they shall not be mine, but die off before the time; I have cast off many of them already, and will cast off more of them, even all the rest, whom I never knew, Mt.7:23, with this Everlasting Love; and then have I an Israel come on of the same race, when I took their fathers off; that same Israel shall be mine, all the families of them at the same time! “What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.” {Rom.11:7} They shall come forth, when this age, long ago prophesied of, is brought into open fruition and manifestation, and all under an open exhibition of this Love Divine. “They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.” {Psal.22:31} And so speaks of them already {which is the way of his grace-language} as of a people He had known by name. Exod.33:12.

“I have loved thee with an Everlasting Love.” I have loved thee with a Love from Everlasting that has run along a sure and certain Parallel with the other Love to the Man that is my Fellow! Zech.13:7. And I have put Christ and thee both in an Orderly Succession into One Covenant! Into one Bond-Union! And Everlasting Love has joined you both together! I have loved you to be mine, and to be both with me forever! There’s thy name with him, there’s all thy glory in Him, and unto Him! There’s thine Everlasting Charter in His Charter! “In the volume of the book,” Psal.40:7, {for “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” Rev.19:10,} in the Everlasting rolls! And I have put it into thy Husband’s, who is also thy Maker’s, Isa.54:5, hands! “Therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” ‘Tis for this reason, my Love unto thee, that thou hast overcome the world, I Jn.4:4, “because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world,” Jn.15:19, and it is for this reason that “the world hateth you.” It was for no other cause but this, that I have striven, and in striving have overcome, and won thy heart with Love! I have brought thee to my foot, and subdued thy own rebellious will! I have put up all, pardoned and forgiven every provocation. I have provided all to give thee, and not to hazard the loss of all in an offer unto thee! {All is given, not offered the Elect.} I have provided Faith, Repentance, Holiness, and every Grace to give thee! I have not made them Conditions, for then I would have lost thee and them forever! Rom.11:29. But I have made them pieces of thy Enjoyments in the Everlasting Union! Thy Faith came in at this door! Thy Repentance flows from my Everlasting Favor! Every grace was with Me for thee, before I ever brought thee to it!

Objection: The question is, whether it be an Everlasting Love with respect to what it hath been, or only with respect to what it shall be? The Everlasting before or the Everlasting after?

Answer: But who can make this a question from any diffidence that it hath been a Love from Everlasting or, before the Foundation of the world, if he considers duly what God promises, verse 1; namely, to “be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people; to wit, by drawing them to be his people openly upon this secret Foundation of God’s loving them with an Everlasting Love in Christ; this being declared to be the Foundation of drawing a people, and bringing them to God. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” {Eph.1:4-6} Drawing there {Jer.31:3} comes in and follows the Everlasting Love expressed. So it must of necessity be meant that Everlasting Love which has been from God’s Settlements, or no Everlasting Love at all. Because the loving kindness wherewith God has drawn her, or, the drawing her with loving kindness went not before, ‘tis not so placed, but came after it. She had been loved with Everlasting Love before she was drawn, and therefore is at last drawn by the fruit of it in Open Loving Kindness. And so the Everlasting Love is, without doubt, an Everlasting Love that hath been; that hath run out from the Dates of the Glory-Man, in the Everlasting before the world was.

So, it is expressed thus, “I have loved thee with an Everlasting Love;” it is neither ‘I will Love you with an Everlasting Love;’ nor ‘I do Love you with an Everlasting Love,’ but I have done it. It is not I will, because it was about a Deed of Settlement, and I have said I will Love thee with an Everlasting Love, had argued that the thing was yet to be settled, founded and made sure. But that same Love could not be wanting, for ‘twas done. That Love was not to be settled with God hereafter, but is settled already. And from thence inclusively upon this lasting bottom of the Love, the Everlastingness of it that hath been, is to be continued and perpetrated the Everlastingness of the same Love hereafter. It is not I do Love thee with an Everlasting Love, for the same reason; but I have, to show that it is by Grace, and not by present or future Faith, Repentance, Works of Righteousness, Holiness, &c., he had loved Jacob, and hated Esau, Rom.9:13, before they had done good or evil. “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth.” {Rom.9:11}

Observe, the Love of God is the Glory of his Grace; it is the very top and quintessence of all his Mercy to the elect, even whilst they lie dead in trespasses and sins, Eph.2:1, the Fall being Decreed Subserviently to exalt the Riches of God’s Grace and Love towards the elect in Christ! “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ.” {Eph.2:4,5} Or in other words, “I have loved thee with an Everlasting Love.”

1 “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God; the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people; but because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” {Deut.7:6-8} I have loved and never hated. “I have loved you, saith the LORD,” Mal.1:2, “yet ye say, wherein hast thou loved us?” Wherein, says he? In Election; and in all that belongs to Everlasting Settlements; and loved you so as never to hate you, which I have not done to others whom I have hated. “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD; yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau.” “As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” {Rom.9:13} And thus, I have loved you anciently, you my chosen, I have loved you before the Foundation of the world. Come into time, and I have loved you always. Whatever I have been doing to the world, I have been doing nothing that should ever hurt you. Whatsoever plagues I have brought on mankind, be of what wrath or hatred soever I have at any time dispensed and executed, and spoken to the nations in my hot displeasure, Psal.2:5; yet I have always loved you. I have loved you anciently, I have loved you always, I have loved you only. “Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” {Jn.13:1} I have made and preserved all, but I have loved none but you. “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” {Rev.1:5} It is the Mystical Body of Christ that God hath loved with the same Everlasting Love, wherewith he hath loved Christ the Head of that body.

2. I have loved first, and brought it about, upon an Everlasting Security, that you would love next. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,” I Jn.4:10, and loved us before we loved Him, and even when it came to sending Christ, as in the next words, “he sent his Son” before we were ready to receive Him. Therefore, be certain, that “if any man love God, the same is known of him.” I Cor.8:3. He that loveth is known of God antecedently to any man’s loving him; and known of God influentially before his faith, Gal.5:6, thus hath wrought by love. “We love him, because he first loved us.” {I Jn.4:19} “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.” {Eph.2:4} The Father chose us to love before we loved; the Son ransomed us to love before we loved, that we might love upon his own love. The Holy Ghost renewed us to love before we loved the Lord. The Love of God in Settlements from Everlasting, the Love of God in Ransom, the Love of God in Regeneration, is a Love that every way constrains us. II Cor.5:14. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared; not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” {Tit.3:3-7}

3. I have loved before drawing. “Therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee,” because I loved thee with an Everlasting Love. In the very sub-lapsarian {or under-fall} Settlements, in the Appointment of things upon the Preordination of the Fall, love is still before conversion. The Love of God is towards sinners, before sinners are converted. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” {Rom.5:8} It was as free to God to love us before the world was, as to love us yesterday in our blood, or a few years ago when we were yet sinners, and had not believed through grace, nor were brought home to God in Christ! Oh, the riches of Eternal Grace! Oh, the prevailings of this Ancient Love, when God comes to break it up, and to bring it forth in time.

It was this thought that hath drawn my soul first and last to Christ. It was this that drew my soul to him in reading Mr. Charnock’s Discourse of God’s being the Author of Reconciliation, in the Covenant of Redemption before the world was made! Then it was that I felt the first Effectual Call of Grace, after the publication of that man’s labors in his second folio-volume in 1684, perhaps two or three years after in the reading it. Oh! It was then I closed with Christ upon this doctrine beheld, in which he had so long before closed with me in a Redeemer’s Covenant! And from thence I date my New Birth, after I had been from a child sober, well educated, constantly reading the Scriptures, two chapters, if not four chapters every day; prayed secretly upon my knees to God, twice every day without omission, having been always accustomed to it from five or six years old; yet as I grew up, I found tenderer convictions which grew sharper, and, as Paul says, still when “the commandment came, sin revived; Rom.7:9, and I died.” Religion did not kill this sin, but sin knew at last how to kill all this religion, and that after my growing stricter and stricter. I wrote Sermons, I prayed longer, I read Mr. Allein’s works, Mr. Baxter’s books, &c., and the more that I grew into acquaintance with these authors, the more I vehemently suspected that I had committed the unpardonable sin. I heard multitudes of preachers, and it seemed that these were all agreed to turn me into an anvil, and smite every blow upon me. Sometimes I fell into desperation, often remained in horrid unbelief of the Gospel; I expected Hell, and as verily believed it to be my portion, as I believed there was a God that created the world! Nevertheless, I durst not omit reading, praying, hearing, but went on in all duties as formerly. As I grew up, my desperation continued, and increased, because I had not done duties enough to rely on, and plead with God. Yet sometimes, now and then by fits and intervals, if I prayed half-an-hour with some enlargements, I would labor to draw some comfort from thence, and fain persuade myself into a belief that this was Sanctification. And this I could sometimes rely on, and run to as my refuge; but it was when I needed none, that all became a calm. By and by a little sickness approached, and then I was in Hell again; and all the preachers in the world then could not make me believe; when the storm beat, and God’s apprehended wrath wet me to the skin, to the soul, to the conscience, that I was one rush the better for my duties! Well, God raised me, and then I could assent to all that the preachers told me; and when I measured myself by their marks, thought all these things to be signs of grace, hoped well, went on, and found peace, till the Popish-plot in 1678; and lo, then when we all apprehended the French approaching the City of London, where I was, in danger of being consumed with new flames, and to the Papists rising to cut our throats, I thought still nothing so terrible as that Pale Horse in the Revelation, Rev.6:8, which always ran in my mind, that carried double, and had got death and hell behind him.

And what became of all this seriousness; for I jested not with religion? Why as I grew up into acquaintance with men and ministers, their conversation made me hate the Power of Godliness, II Tim.3:5, and love the form of it. Then was it, that I called myself fool for having been so precise and strict, when I did not believe the ministers gave any firm credit to the duties and watchfulness they often inculcated on the people. Yea, then I began to love looseness and levity in ministers, and to hate true religion. For, indeed, notwithstanding all the former show, and as earnest pursuit of religion as my un-renewed nature could set it forwards, I had never cordially embraced it. {And nothing but the power of religion since, in communion with Father, Son and Spirit, could have convinced me, but this that I have last related was an open contradiction.} All that I did in religion I did as a task, never with delight. I thought God a hard Master, Lk.19:21, to be so strict, and then give me no grains of allowance. So far now was my education and profession from conversion, that it ended in apostasy, and settled in a spirit of security in sin, and the spirit of slumber for divers years, laboring to tread out the spark, and put out all this glimmering conviction, and bury the glow-worm of an awakened conscience; for I see there had been nothing else.

Aye, thus it was, till the very moment came of God’s showing His Love to me of a sudden, by the means afore-spoken of; after all my zealous profession of Mr. Baxter’s doctrine and way to heaven, which to me proved the greatest doctrine of licentiousness that I ever knew. Thus it was, I say, in my soul, till God directed me by his Providence to Mr. Charnock’s book, and that which I found in that book converted me. Why the very Spirit of Christ turning me in a moment to the Lord, and managing this one point, Everlasting Love to me in the Covenant which the Father made with the Son before I had a being, I was given spiritual sight to behold; yea, “before the Foundation of the world.” Eph.1:4. Oh! Then my repentings were kindled together, that I should go on sinning against the LORD that had been always loving me in Christ! For though Mr. Charnock did not tell me this, nor do I remember there being any mention of Everlasting Love, in the phrase of it, used in all that discourse about the Covenant of Redemption; yet the Spirit of God came in with this Doctrine in the Substance of it from thence and hath given another Power in Religion to my soul, through the successive improvements of it than ever I felt before! “For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.” {I Cor.4:20} And though it was divers years before I preached this, yet it was upon the lively exercise of this in my soul, that I had always good hope towards God in Christ, II Thes.2:16, and preached what I preached; though for want of more discerning light and the teachings of God the Spirit, and courage in my soul to get above the times, I used to dash my preachings with some of the old mixtures. Nevertheless, it was this Everlasting Kindness which drew me, won me, melted me, broke a whole heart of stone at once, and made quite another man of me! And I have had the experience of its Power, and Guidance, and Supports almost these twenty years in the main; and that is the Doctrine that changes the heart in order to change the life! And changes the life from a change of heart! “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” {Col.1:13}

“I have loved ‘thee,’ with an Everlasting Love!” Oh; this same reverberation of a ‘thee!’ This sweetness of Personal Application! This consolation of the joyful sound! {For the Spirit of God takes it up and uses it to a single person, as well as lays it down of the whole Mystical Church, or applies it to her that is but One, and the choice one of her, the Common One, Song.6:9, that bare her.} Oh! The Riches of Grace! Unsearchable Grace and Love! What a wonder of the Gospel, that the Holy Ghost should make it out beyond questionings in a particular and lively Application of the Son of God to me! Christ that loved me, and gave himself for me! Gal.2:20. And that it hath not worn off, but increased, and increased, and been increasing year after year, from the time that it pleased God first to reveal His Son in me, Gal.1:16, by Love! For now I love his Divine Government, which before I hated; now I love his Ordinances, and Christ’s yoke, Church-order, which I find all my old religion a mere stranger to, being cut out more for the gentleman, than for the believer! I find now if times alter; the health and state of my body alters; the faces and good-will of men and churches alter; Oh, I find I thrive by all this; for my Lord and my God alters not! My peace alters not! My assurance, my strength, my joy, my tasks and daily sights of God’s Love, all from God the Father, through Jesus Christ the Mediator, by the Holy Ghost the Comforter alters not a jot in Christ, and through Grace degenerates not in my own experience! “For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance.” {I Thes.1:5} My ministry, as it is my labor, yet is filled up in my soul and the souls of others with more reward than pains! I was wont formerly to commit more sin under the former Doctrine and Profession before my Conversion to Christ by the effectual drawings of Everlasting Love, aye, more sin in a day, in an hour of apostasy, notwithstanding the then reviews of that doctrine and profession, than now I dare, or am at all inclined to commit in some odious instances, as even to blasphemy, and a universal misspent of precious time, in a whole age! Oh! The power of this Antinomian Gospel, as some count it! I am sure I have found it to come with another Spirit, with another sort of change to me than the post-dating union-men believe.

“I have loved thee with an Everlasting Love;” and therefore the voice comes, the trumpet sounds, the Jubilee opens in an Everlasting Gospel; Rev.14:6, Everlasting in Counsel, Contrivances, Choice, Purpose, Covenant-Settlements of persons, through Nature, Grace and Glory, and all in Christ Jesus. “My righteousness shall be forever, and my salvation from generation to generation.” {Isa.51:8} And to Everlasting, world without end; “therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” Aye, drawn thee indeed! Not driven thee, for that is man’s doings, not thy Maker’s, who is thy Husband! Drawn thee to Christ, not to empty profession; and therefore have I drawn thee, so that the Everlasting Love of the Father towards the elect in his Son Jesus Christ, is the Foundation, Cause, Spring, Motive and Covenant that secures all, secures all holiness here and secures all happiness hereafter to all eternity! “Israel shall be saved in the LORD with an everlasting salvation; ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.” {Isa.45:17}

And now in this Everlasting Love we come by the light of Christ to know in the chain of wonders the Marriage-Love Union prepared of Old! God saw it was not meet that the Covenant-Glory-Man should be alone, Gen.2:18, as is said after of Adam made by the Pattern of this Wisdom-Man, in executing the ways of the High Councils of Jehovah. For it was in the Covenant-Man, God’s Everlasting Fellow, Zech.13:7, that by Predestinating choice, he further ordered, that the man should be a man alone in glory! He was not set up from Everlasting, Prov.8:23, there in Counsel and Covenant with the Son of God, to stand in heaven by himself; and all Glory settled upon Him without a bride as adorned, Rev.21:2, for her Husband.

To open something of it, as by grace I am enabled; according to the latitude of those thoughts of God he hath been pleased to reveal undo us in his Holy Word. As we have seen already the Human Nature of Christ to have been the Wisdom-Draught, and so ordained as not to be alone without others following, but the Second Person in God becoming Wisdom to answer all his Wise Designs in Nature, Grace and Glory to men and angels, and therein to be a Wisdom-Mediator between God and all his elect seed. Thus God ordained him still to higher ends than nature between Him and all creatures in common, and these higher ends were in relation to some of the purposed works of his hands. Christ, as Christ was not ordained to be in Heaven alone a Head of all communicable Grace and Glory {through his also being the Mediator} without members for that Grace and Glory, to be communicated unto, dependently upon Himself, and so upon God in Him, by his own Grace-Covenant.

As Christ was predestinated to be a Bridegroom, he was predestinated to have a spouse to marry. He was appointed to be the Everlasting Father, Isa.9:6; that is, the Son of God, as Mediator was so appointed, and therein is connoted in the very Relation the Appointment of him to have his Everlasting seed. And as hereupon he was constituted Everlasting Father, the elect are made from thence-forwards to be his everlasting seed. They were made as sure to him by the Wisdom-Grace of the Covenant, as heaven and earth were made sure, or to be made sure in consequent appointments, by the Wisdom-Nature of the Covenant, in these Everlasting Settlements of Grace. The reason is, all relation is parallel, and commensurate in duration; for ‘tis is so in the highest, as well as the lowest instances. As God is the Father of the Son, so the Son is the Father of his promised seed; and as the Father is not sooner the Father of Christ, than Christ-God, the Second Person is the Son of that Father. Accordingly, neither is Christ-Man the Everlasting Father, sooner than his seed are the Everlasting children. To God the relation on both sides did commence together.

All that verse the 6th of the 9th of Isaiah is, without controversy, spoken of the Mediator, in his whole Person of both the natures. The Son given and the Child born; both in One Person. Sometimes his character as God, sometimes his character as Man, is there laid down; and in all he is spoken of as Mediator in a compounded sense; that is, the Two Natures, though always distinguished in, must never be divided from, the One Person. The Mighty God is his character there as the Second Person, above all Predestination and Appointment to be the Mighty God; and that character was given of him by the Holy Ghost just before. Next comes in with what he was by predestination of the Father, the Father of whom are all things, I Cor.8:6, from whom he is distinguished. For though he be One Mighty God with the Father, yet not One Father with the Father of whom are all things; for the One Lord Jesus Christ is mentioned there in the Corinthians as distinct from the One God, and Father of whom are all things. Jesus Christ therefore, in this place of Isaiah, spoken of as the Everlasting Father, is evidently meant of a Predestinated and Covenant-Father, and so must have, together with the relation, a predestinated and covenant-family of children in heaven and earth. And the same Person being fundamentally the Mighty God, he was able to sustain the relation of a Father, and be reckoned of God to have his children there with him from Everlasting.

A father is not a father before a child or children are the child or children of that father; because relation is parallel and commensurate in the duration of settlement. God is not a Maker before a creature is made, though he be God before all. A man is not a father before offspring, though he is a man before. God began not to be Creator earlier in time, than when he created. So God’s Son in whom Christ stands, did not, as Mediator, begin to be the Everlasting Father, but just when he began to have his Everlasting offspring.

God ordained Christ for a Governing Fellowship with us, and set him in His Covenant-Government, he is called therefore Prince in the same text, and us the governed fellowship with Christ, {the government of Grace, upon his shoulders,} who were with God in his Immutable Counsel, Decrees, Settlements, and Covenant, such obedient, governed ones, when Christ began to be Governor in God’s repute, and with God, to answer God’s ends. “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel.” {Heb.6:17} We are not more obedient now openly than we were in that {secret} beginning with God, in “that eternal life, which was with the Father.” I Jn.1:2. No, nor are we yet raised up enough in our obedience, out of the ruins of the Fall, to be what obedient ones we were with God in Christ long before it. I am not in time now come up to what I was in eternity with God, nor shall I come up to it till I get into the other Ocean of Eternity upon the back side of time.

Well, God saw it was not meet that the Covenant-Man and God’s Everlasting Fellow should be a Man alone; and no other man but he! But all glory was settled upon him with a further purpose, that this glory should shine forth through him, and beget a seed dependently upon the Mediator, and so dependently upon this glorious likeness, Gen.1:26, the likeness of God, because Father, Son and Holy Ghost had embraced it. This Person therefore, the Mediator, our dear Lord Jesus, should be found of God with a glorious mate subjected, to be raised up through Nature, Grace and Glory, to be answerable to the First Glory of all presented, and presented by Wisdom’s Draught, and therein a glorious meet subject in all things to Christ, of the same portion of Infinite Divine Grace!

To go on, the Father predestinated a spouse ultimately unto himself, immediately unto Jesus Christ, out of a creature-lump of persons fore-viewed and designed to be made, by and for Jesus Christ, this Image of the invisible God, the firstborn, Col.1:15, as is said, of every creature! “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love; having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.” {Eph.1:4-5} This spouse was to be a glorious body, a glorious spouse to this Man, Christ, chosen in him, and when brought forth in the Covenant-Settlements {the immediate births of the Decree} was given to the Man, subsisting in the Son of God; and this glorious Husband, the whole Mediator, bestowed upon her! And so God himself, in the personal Union of the Natures, lays the Foundation of his Grace within himself to espouse her, and to make that secret marriage in eternity the unchangeable security of her open marriage at the latter day in the face of all; according to Isaiah 54:5, “for thy Maker is thine Husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; the God of the whole earth shall he be called.” “For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” {Job 19:25}

Here take notice, that this desolate and barren wife is the Gentile Church long before the Gospel {setting forth the Grace of Christ} had reached her, or before she had, to men, so much as an open being in the world; and yet then, to God, having been to him from Everlasting, all things were then done, and her Maker at that time her Husband! Isa.54:5. It was all to be yet done to men, and nevertheless already accomplished in the mind and purpose of God. “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” {Isa.46:10} He had made it in the Settlement that all the elect were become a secret Spouse to Christ! And so comes fully up in its own measure, unto the bottom-text in John, 17:23, to set forth anciently what Christ saith of the Love of God; “and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”

To men it was future; “thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left; and thy seed shall {for they have not yet} inherit the Gentiles.” Isa.54:3. To God it was all past and present, as well as to come. {So likewise the sufferings of Christ are rather laid open in the Old Testament as a History of what was then past to God, than as a Prophecy of what was in those Ages to come to Men.} “Thy Maker is thy Husband.” Unto men in Isaiah’s time it was very long before the call of the Gentiles, and yet the Gentiles relation to Christ by Settlement was as certain then to God before their actual call in time, as God’s own name was sure in relation to the hosts of creatures, for he puts them in together, thy Maker, thy Husband, the Lord of Hosts is his Name, and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel.

How clearly by Isaiah’s Doctrine may we understand that argument in Christ’s Prayer of the 17th of John, “and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me,” for how obviously and necessarily must the sense of this run out for a similar antiquity, when we are brought to believe {what is his own work to discover} that the Holy Ghost doth expound his own Doctrine! “And hast loved them as thou hast loved me;” that is, hast loved the Head and the Members with the same portion of Grace; hast loved the Bridegroom and the Spouse with the same Love together, “as thou hast loved me,” to make me their Head, “thou has loved them,” to make them my Members; and again, “as thou hast loved me,” to make me their Husband, “so thou hast loved them to make them my married wife.” Isa.54:1.

It may be objected from loving you as the Father hath loved Christ, that the ‘as’ must not be strained. True, but it is they who make a woeful strain of it, who break it off from the relation, and labor to fasten it upon our faith, our repentance, our holiness, and our seemingly good qualities. Here lies the strain; as if a man that is a husband, who is bid to love his wife unconditionally, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave himself for it, Eph.5:25, and men to love their wives, as their own bodies, verse 28, did strain the ‘as’ to love them so before they were obedient wives. Nay, ‘tis plain, that if this was a duty at Corinth, as well as here at Ephesus, there were believing husbands who had unbelieving wives; I Cor.7:14, and very probably instead of obedience in their wives might find a great deal of frowardness, enmity and hatred, towards their husbands for the Gospel’s sake; yet must not the Commandment of Christ hold still, “husbands love your wives even as your own bodies?” Besides, this was certainly ever the case between Christ and the Church; for Christ was eternally a ‘believing’ Husband, when she was an unbelieving wife; yet he loved her notwithstanding, as he loved Himself. What obedience had there been in the Gentile Church when Christ loved her, and gave Himself for her; and did it for her too as she was mystically his own flesh. And now where is the ‘as’ strained to take it up as it lies in John, “as the Father hath loved me, I have loved you;” for did the Father love Christ with a love of pity? No, but with a love of infinite delight.

Again, you ought to distinguish between straining and stretching out. We do not by any means strain the ‘as’ but we stretch it out to the due length of the Relation, and that may be done without breaking, for this ‘as’ must have its significant emphasis in the beginning of Love, in the antiquity of Love. ‘Tis hath loved me, and have loved you; ‘tis not in the present tense ‘doth’ and ‘do,’ because the Lord will carry off their thoughts from present qualifications, and their present experience and taste of the Grace of God, that they should take no advantage from the manner of expressing his Love, to lay it upon such a Foundation as the present change, which Grace had made both in their hearts and lives.

As to the antiquity of the Love in making such an Early Relation to meet in God’s thoughts, and in God’s Covenant with his Son, I have enough proved when that was; to vindicate the similar application of the ‘as’ in the Love of God unto the church upon his Foreknowledge and first Fore-views of her in his Son Jesus Christ, which I here vindicate. The ‘as’ of Christ’s side towards the Church, in the comparison of his love to her, with the Father’s love to him, must come in with the beginning of this love, so far as is consistent with the orderly nature of it, though it doth not come up, if you speak abstractly of Christ-Man loving us, to the measure of the Father’s loving him; yet take it of the whole Mediator loving us, and Christ’s-Man abstractly beloved of the Father; and I see not then but it will rise in the measure too, as well as the beginning of the relation, before a sinner can attempt anything to make himself acceptable {a hopeless and impossible task indeed} before God; that as the Father hath loved Christ-Man, so the whole Mediator, God-Man, hath loved us of His Father. See what I say forwards in chapter 12, of the consummate glory-Union.

And, as to the Antiquity of the Love set forth in the fore-alleged place of Isaiah, the Holy Ghost doth abundantly command, Rom.5:8, the love of God in it; that when she becomes a desolate and barren wife, Isa.54:1, and outwardly continues unto men for many ages such, yet he sheweth us that the relation is never broken off; she is the Lamb’s wife still, though she had not made herself ready, Rev.19:7, and her Maker is her Husband, Isa.54:5, notwithstanding! And pray, what open readiness was there in the bride, the Lamb’s wife, when the Apostle John penned his Revelation? And yet then so many ages since, he has told us that the Marriage of the Lamb is come, Rev.19:7, and he had the actual vision of it; and his wife hath made herself ready; which if it had not been secretly done with God, could not have been openly shown to John. But the truth is this, that still as clearer measures of light discovered what Christ was, and coming fuller on, at last opened his Personal Glory to a consummation; so there were clearer measures of light still to break out, to discover what the Church was in Union and Relation in and to him, in his Social and Companion-Glory.

From whence can this proceed in an Unchangeable God but from his Grace in Christ Jesus, II Tim.2:1, in Everlasting Settlements? And thus, we have brought it down to come on next with the further Preparations of her Maker towards her open glory. And ‘tis here in this joint falls in the residue of our Colossian-text, “and he is the head of the body, the church; who is the beginning, {the beginning from Everlasting, as he is the Image of the invisible God, and the firstborn of every creature in the beginning of God’s way; and next, in the way and means, and preparation towards open glory} the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Col.1:18.

All this is now obvious without straining or allegorizing beyond the Scripture; both which I hate in expounding God’s Word. “Hast loved them ‘as’ thou hast loved Me;” an ‘as’ of similitude must be here allowed, and be sure in the similar date of commencing the correlation together with the Relation. Allegorizing of Scripture off from the Holy Ghost’s way {with a neglect of his own literal interpretation} is quite another thing; and has always some undeniable argument in the matter, or coherence, that makes the contrary to the strained allegory as evident as the day.