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VISITS TO AND FROM JESUS.
I HAVE often thought that the nearness and dearness of connection, into which the Son of God hath condescended to put himself to our nature, for the vast purposes of Jehovah's grace must have been intended to open peculiar sources of enjoyment to his people. Surely, (I have said to myself as I have pondered the subject) if the Lord Jesus, from the great love wherewith he hath loved us, hath come home to his church in an union so very tender and endearing, was it not that he might make himself known unto his people under all those several relations in which he stands connected with them? And is there not, in the very nature of union, the manhood with the Godhead, a special, peculiar, and personal provision made for all such purposes?
And I have said (as I have further ruminated the subject) wherefore, but for designs so gracious, is it so frequently intimated in scripture that the Lord will come and visit his people? Is it not Jesus himself which thus speaketh, "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you; yet a little while and the world seeth me no more, but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also," John xiv. 18, 19. And, on the other hand, what are all those earnest expressions of the church for the coming of Jesus which we every where
meet with in the word of God, but so many proofs in confirmation of the same? Do they not convey the sense the people of God possess in the assurances of Jesus' promises, that he stands at the door of their hearts and knocks for entrance," that he may come in and sup with them, and they with him?" Rev. iii. 20. And are not these so many testimonies that Jesus doth and will make himself known to his people in a way and manner different to what he doth to the world? Nay, are not all Christ's redeemed ones supposed to be continually on the look out, like the prophet on his watch-tower, to wait and see when the Lord comes; and "when he comes what they shall answer him?" Habak. ii. 1.
And, in the further confirmation of a matter so very sweet and interesting, may it not also be remarked, that it is the Son of God, and him only, which hath united into one person God and man. For neither the person of the Father, nor the person of the Holy Ghost have taken into union our nature, or formed such an alliance with that nature, as hath the person of God the Son. And although the whole three persons in the Godhead have loved the church with equal love, and engaged in covenant engagements to the accomplishment of the whole purposes relating to the welfare of the church, with equal regard; and we are taught to ascribe equal glory and praise to the holy and undivided Three in One for their joint acts of grace towards the church, yet such is the personal union of the Son of God with our nature, that all access to the throne of grace is in him, and by him, and through him; "he is the way, and the truth, and the life ;" all approaches now in grace, and all the manifestations hereafter in glory will be in him, and through him, and from him, "by whom are all things, and we by him!" 1 Cor. viii. 6..
And surely there is a certain somewhat in proof of these things, which every child of God when regene
rated by the Holy Ghost feels in contemplating Christ, as Christ; that is, God manifested in substance of our flesh. We find a greater confidence in approaching him; we can and do go to him as one in our own nature; one who knows our feelings by his own. And although in all our drawings nigh to the person of Christ, we would not, yea, we dare not lose sight of him as God, yet we feel a blessedness in connecting with that view, that he is also man. And from the union of both, it is we find that sweet and precious suitableness of character in our Lord Jesus Christ, which endears his person to our affection in a way and manner as none other can. Hence, in every approach, when grace is in lively exercise, the renewed soul finds a certain indescribable blessedness, and a "joy unspeakable and full of glory."
Moreover, the gracious and endearing offices Jesus hath entered into and engaged for his people, tend to increase those feelings the more. He is personally and peculiarly so, as none other can be, the head and husband, the high priest and surety of his body the church. I do not find any warrant in the word of God to look up either to the person of the Father or to the person of the Holy Ghost in those characters; but I can and do (when grace enables me) look up to Jesus in every one of them, and similar ones in his person and office, and find a blessedness in them, inexpressibly sweet and refreshing. And is it not then from hence a just conclusion, that if the Son of God condescends to take into himself a portion of our nature, and reveals himself to his people in so personal a manner in that nature, is it not the intention that they shall know him in all, and enjoy him in all? If Jesus be not ashamed to call them brethren, shall they be ashamed to call him brother?
I know not whether the reader enters into the perfect apprehension of my meaning; I wish to be clearly understood in a matter of so much importance. Me
thinks I would have no child of God uninformed herein. Let me state the subject yet a little further.
All our mercies are founded in the everlasting love of God in Christ. The very being of the church, and the well being of the church is in Christ. Christ himself, (that is, God and man in one person) is the one glorious object of delight, for the infinite mind of Jehovah, in his Trinity of Persons, to behold with unceasing complacency, from one eternity to another. I should not err if I were to say, from the authority of scripture, that this glorious person, Christ, was constituted and ordained for the express purpose, that Jehovah might behold himself, with all his perfections of Godhead, and delight in him for ever. This was the first design for which the Son of God took into union with himself manhood, and an object of infinitely higher moment than all things belonging to the church. The church was formed for Christ; and not Christ for the church. Gen. ii. 18. John xv. 16. In this one glorious person all glory centers. Hence Christ, as God and man in one, is said to be "the brightness of the Father's glory, and the express image of his person!" Hence, also it is said, that "in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;" and the church is complete in him. So that the personal glory of Christ, is the first, and last, and highest object in the divine mind.
From hence we go on to another grand point, namely, that as all our mercies are founded in the everlasting love of God in his Trinity of Persons, and are formed in Christ, come to us from Christ, and are enjoyed from our union with Christ; so all revelation can only be made through Christ; for there could have been no possibility of the smallest communion with God in his nature and essence, but in and through him. "No man hath seen God at any time! but the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, he